Previously, the party fought some Bandits and Illusionists, then decided to explore Hole in the Oak. I used Goatman's Goblet's framework conversion for it to fit it into Dolmenwood, although I didn't change the reptile cult to Merrowmucks because I forgot.
Gunkuss the Grim: A purple wood-grue fighter, who travels to sate his curiosity and find treasure. Suffers from severe Trypophobia.
Dombo the Green: A dumb but ripped-as-hell Moss-Dwarf wizard. Is afraid of naked mole rats. Mostly does nothing and then once a session saves everyone's asses with a sleep spell.
Episcopia the Judge: A nerdy human cleric of the church of the one true god. Wants to do good in the world and fight evil, which often puts her at odds with the decidedly neutral rest of the party.
Boots Tippler: A grimalkin bard who looks like Garfield. Has yet to ever use his transforming powers. Thinks normal cats are creepy: "imagine if you saw a tiny four-legged man."
Archibald Vantorez: A smug nobleman Illusionist from fantasy-Spain. Is exactly as violent and disdainful of poor people as you might expect a medieval nobleman to be. Wants to become a cartographer but is deathly afraid of getting lost.
The party decided to explore the Hole in the Oak. After a few odd rooms with nothing much in them, they came to the chambers of the cult that Gunkuss had joined in a drunken haze. They then did a sequence of events that was 50% planned out and 50% on-the-fly:
- Vantorez copied Gunkuss's tattoo onto all the characters so they could blend in. Since he's a cartographer (so has some artistic skills) and had time I let him do this without rolling.
- The party met a group of guards for the cult, which turned out to be made up of strange fairies with raggedy heads like poppets and cloven feet. The party started calling them gnomes, which was funny since that's what they were in the original module.
- The party bluffed that they were new recruits trying to join the cult. When asked for an offering, one of them offered their Basilisk (which they had left near the entrance to the dungeon with their cook).
- The cult said they only accepted intelligent sacrifices. Boots bluffed and said basilisks were incredibly intelligent, and the illusionist used 'Auditory Illusion' to make the basilisk seem like it was talking. At the time I had them roll a 2d6 to determine the outcome of the lie, in retrospect I think I should have let them do it without rolling.
- The players were led into a room with the cult's God, a megalomaniacal tree stump, and three cult members. Boots explained that the basilisk's weak spot was on the back of its head. He requested that one of the cultists pull the helmet off the basilisk since he was small enough to fit through the bars of the cage, playing on the cultist's desire to impress his god. The cultists ended up arguing over who was the most pious, and one of them was chosen to do the deed. The party positioned themselves near the door. Again, the party rolled a social roll and succeeded. In retrospect, I feel like this was pretty obviously a suspicious move and the cultists should at least have positioned themselves near the door with the party.
- The cultist pulled the basilisk's helmet off. The basilisk used its petrified stare on the cultist who had pulled its helmet off while the party ran like hell. In the hallway Grimm, the leader of the cult, was standing guard, and Dombo made a grappling roll (using the rules from LOTFP) to grab him and shove him into the room with the basilisk. The party used an iron spike to jam the door shut.
- The party ran like hell. Grimm called for help from other cultists (I used the module to see where the other cultists were) who all came running to his aid. Unfortunately for me, when I described what Grimm said I had him say "Help! Come to the dining room!" The party told any other cultists they encountered "Grimm is under attack! Get to the dining room!" and, since they had the cult tattoos, the other cultists believed them.
- Offscreen, the cultists managed to subdue the basilisk, but not before it paralyzed their stump god.
- The party fought a group of fish-men (the troglodytes from the original, but I described them as being slimy and the players called them fish-men). They asked the troglodytes to show them to the river and were led there in an incredibly obvious trap: once the players were cornered at the river the trogs attacked. Dombo made them all fall asleep, after which Vantorez (who is quickly establishing his character as being incredibly evil) murdered two of them. He tied up the third one and tortured him for "useful information." For some reason Vantorez rejected the trog's initial offer to show the party to his hidden treasure hoard, which would have gotten them a bunch of XP and keys to other areas in the dungeon, instead only letting him go when he told him the location of a boat that was not hidden at all. C'est la vie.
- Vantorez, who has 5 hit points, almost got killed by a spider that ambushed the party.
- As with Winter's Daughter, Hole in the Oak is quickly establishing itself as an absolutely amazing module. I was a bit worried because it lacked the roleplaying aspect of Winter's Daughter, but it ended up being really fun to play through. I'm considering writing framework conversions for the other Necrotic Gnome modules and just dropping them all into Dolmenwood.
- I'm still struggling with getting away from my impulse to roll for things. I want to just run enemies who react how they logically would react to the players trying to talk to them, but in the moment I'm pretty bad at ruling how they would react to the players.
- I've introduced XP for Exploration from Neoclassic Greek Revival: When exploring a new room the players get 10 xp for each previous room explored (so they get 0 xp for the first room, 10 for the second, 20 for the third, etc.) This is to encourage them to actually keep exploring dungeons, since otherwise they tend to leave as soon as any of them takes damage or they use up any spells.