A local woodsman had guided a party of adventurers to a tunnel that led into Wolf Rock. When the adventurers failed to return that night or the next, he began to feel a bit responsible and headed back to see if he could learn anything. He was leaving for home when he was nearly discovered by a couple of goblins. Listening in, he discovered that the goblins had some new prisoners.

The woodsman, feeling guilty, returned to the village and began recruiting a rescue party.

The other night my family’s party was soundly defeated by a band of goblins only a couple of turns in to the ruins Below Wolf Rock. Two hirelings were killed outright, but the three PCs were all knocked out and captured.

At first, I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do. Our first-ever all-family game (and first-ever Swords & Wizardry White Box game) ended in quick disaster, fueled partly by horrendous rolling. After getting some feedback from the S&W forums, I decided to give the players a chance to roll up new PCs and head back in on a rescue mission. They were game, and soon a fighter, a cleric, and a halfling were on their way with three dwarves who had similarly lost some friends and family to Wolf Rock.

Last night the rescue mission was launched.

The halfling quietly pulled open a heavy door in a side passage in the tunnels below Wolf Rock but was only able to get a quick glimpse of a number of dark forms in the room beyond before dogs began barking. Slamming the door closed, the three adventurers and three dwarves set themselves and prepared for an attack. It wasn’t long in coming.

A goblin shoved the door open but was hit immediately by an arrow from the halfling. However, four savage attack dogs rushed out and attacked. One of the dwarves went down almost immediately, and as a couple more goblins joined the fray the entire fight devolved into chaos. Soon the cleric went down, too, but the two remaining dwarves, the fighter (a woman with 17 strength and a halberd) and the halfing archer were finding success and slowly wearing down the gobs and their attack dogs. In desperation, one of the goblins charged the halfling, but she dropped her bow, pulled a dagger, and shoved it into the goblin’s throat. With a spurt of black blood, the goblin fell to the cold stone floor.

The fight was soon over and the party took a moment to bind wounds and try to revive their fallen comrades. Unfortunately, two goblins remained in the room and took advantage of the moment by attacking. A watchful dwarf kept them from getting surprise, and they were soon cut down.

Approaching some dark shapes in the far corner of the room, the halfling nearly fired before realizing that they were, in fact, the three missing adventurers. Of the two hirelings or the dwarves’ comrades there was no sign. The party quickly freed the prisoners but realized their position was precarious and decided the a hasty retreat was in order. The dwarves, disappointed in not finding their own missing adventurers, reluctantly agreed.

As the party, moving slowly, made its way back toward the entrance, more goblins appeared. The cleric, still woozy from the previous fight, prepared to do battle but was hit by a goblin arrow and went down for the second time. The fighter dropped her halberd in disgust, dragged the cleric toward the stairs, and yelled for everyone to run for it. The halfling archer covered the escape, taking down one goblin and injuring another, and bought enough time for everyone to make it out into the sunlight. The goblins, howling in rage and hatred, dared not follow.

It was ugly, and I screwed up some record keeping during the fight which halted things for a few minutes while we sorted it out. All in all, though the rescue mission was a success and everyone got out alive, it wasn’t really a great session. There’s a lot of frustration on the part of the players, and my bad handling of the battle didn’t do much to improve anyone’s mood.

I’m not sure what possessed my son’s cleric to want to stand and fight the pursuing goblins. At that point they had six people down to 1 hit point (including him). Maybe he was unhappy about being able to do so little in the main fight, having been KOed only three or four rounds in. Whatever the reason, the cleric was nearly left behind when everyone else scrambled for the exit.

This goblin tribe, though hurt badly after the rescue, is by no means finished off. I expect that they’re calling some patrols and raiding parties back in even as we speak, doing what they can to shore up their defenses and perhaps exact some revenge upon the dwarves. The PCs would do well to avoid them if possible.

Regardless, after a few days of rest and recovery, perhaps some bold adventurers will dare a return to the labyrinth Below Wolf Rock.

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