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.
Wolf Rock is a large rocky hill a few miles outside of town that legend says was once the location of a great tower. Ruined foundations can still be found on Wolf Rock, but the tower has been gone for a century or more. A decade or so ago a band of adventurers appeared in town with gold they said they had plundered from a labyrinth under Wolf Rock, and after resting and rearming they set off to get more. They were never seen again. Since then, Wolf Rock has been avoided by all. Over the years, a number of strange events and even some disappearances have been linked to the place, but no one has dared to investigate.
Recently, a local woodsman was caught in a terrible storm, and with nowhere else to go, he took shelter under some stones leaning against each other on Wolf Rock. He discovered a small tunnel that led into the hill. He poked his head in and saw steps disappearing into darkness, and has guided the PCs and two men-at-arms to the spot for 10gp.
After weeks of waiting, we finally managed to start up our first S&W White Box game tonight, a small campaign I’m calling Below Wolf Rock. My wife (who hasn’t played since a little 2e more than 15 years ago) and my two kids (who have been playing Labyrinth Lord) all rolled up new PCs. It took a little longer than I expected, mostly because of questions about WB that we hadn’t considered, but soon a magic-user, a cleric, and a dwarf were ready to begin their careers as adventurers seeking gold and glory.
Felix Fireball, a magic-user – played by my son
Dreythin, a cleric – played by my daughter
Castra, a female dwarf – played by my wife
The dwarf entered first and saw that all was clear. The rest of the party followed and they headed down the stairs. They soon discovered a heavy iron-bound wooden door but were unable to open it. Deciding it must be locked, they moved on. A bit further on down the corridor, they came to a side passage and a strange metal lever sticking out of the corridor wall. They checked out the lever but did not touch it. After a quick discussion, they headed down the side passage to where they had seen a couple of doors.
They opened the first door to find a chamber with 8 goblins inside. Seven of the gobs grabbed swords and prepared to attack while the last picked up a curved horn. Seeing this, the magic-user hurled a spear at the goblin with the horn [all classes can use all weapons in our WB game] and killed it. At that point, everything went downhill for the party.
None of the rest of the party landed any hits in the first round, though the goblins did little better. The next round, the party won initiative again, but everyone missed again. This time around, the goblins didn’t do so badly and at the end of the round only one of the men-at-arms was still standing. The gobs finished him off the next round.
We played for a total of less than twenty minutes. I make most of my rolls in the open, so I couldn’t have fudged things much even if I had wanted to. After the first hit against the horn-blower by my son, the party missed 9 consecutive attack rolls against normal goblins. That doesn’t usually bode well for anyone.
I was pretty excited about having the whole family adventuring together, and I was also liking the idea of not needing to run any NPCs. I had the players control the men-at-arms, just noting that I reserved the right to veto anything I thought was out of line.
I hadn’t intended to play a long session at all, but I didn’t mean to keep things short by killing everyone.
The only possible out I have at this point is the fact that all three of the PCs were only knocked unconscious, not killed outright, and are probably prisoners of the goblins right now. This band of goblins is actually already holding a dwarf prisoner, and a possible random encounter in the dungeon is a group of dwarves searching for their missing comrade. I’m trying to decide if I can cook up some sort of rescue by the dwarves or if these characters are simply more victims of the ruins Below Wolf Rock.
Regardless, there will be more Wolf Rock in the near future.