Last time I talked about the way I use The Red Hand of Doom in my game. Basically, I use it for interesting encounters and as plot inspiration. The last time I also worried about treasure a lot and decided to hand out treasure “as written” and changed some magic items as appropriate. This time I went the other route. As treasure is important for experience points in classic D&D, and since there is a dragon to fight at the end of every chapter, I decided to simply go with what the Labyrinth Lord manual says when it comes to treasure. I also decided not to fiddle with the dragon stats themselves. I think this worked very well.
The big encounter I had prepared was the battle at Skull Gorge Bridge:
When the party saw the dragon flying overhead, they decided to avoid the bridge and check out the Cinder Hills. Oh no, my precious encounter!
Ozyrrandias’ hoard remains untouched:
Those where some damn lucky rolls!
Anyway, the party discovered the big camp and decided to ambush a patrol in the forest in order to gather some intelligence.
Based on some of the encounters in the book I decided that there where three “standard” encounters—all of them without treasure—and I asked the players which sort of patrol they wanted to ambush.
Heavy patrol with vanguard:
You’ll note that I decided to move away from monsters wielding weapons all doing 1d6 damage. Hobgoblins deal 1d8 damage because they’re monsters. Different rules apply.
The party decides to attack the heavy patrol and manages to finish the main body before the vanguard returns and thus smashes them easily, taking a prisoner who then tells them all about the map they found in Koth’s keep.
The party then decides to follow Saarvith into the city of Rhest. One of the players wants to convince the black dragon Regiax to join their cause. (Me thinking: “WTF!?”)
Since I haven’t prepared anything for the city of Rhest, I will need to think fast. So… A green razorfiend? A sort of doped lizard superman? Hm… Also, they want to talk to the guy and the reaction roll comes up “uncertain”. Ok, they know the names of Saarvith and Regiax, they know about the Red Hand, so the green dude decides to take them to Saarvith. I also need to come up with a suitable name… Uh… Garslix!
Saarvith is a goblin ranger… A fighter, I guess? Using the D&D 3.5 challenge rating as am indicator for the hit dice to use… It turns out that doing these on-the-fly adaptations is easy to do!
Anyway, one player wants to trick Regiax and presents him with the dragon skull they found at the keep. Saarvith wants to trick the player and tells him to cross over in a small boat and present it in person. The player hesitates and the others tell him: “it’s a trap!” Saarvith promptly looses his patience and orders the attack. The players win initiative and shoot Saarvith. He dies before being able to do anything. The dragon dives into the water. The razorfiend does not loose morale. Fight!
The party wins and takes Garslix prisoner. I really like the maneuver house rule: you can always propose a maneuver when you hit somebody. Opponents can either accept the consequences of the maneuver or elect to take the damage. That means that once you reduce people to near zero hit-points, they’ll gladly accept whatever you want to do to them.
What about the treasure? It’s in Saarvith’s cabin, surrounded by water, with six ogers and an ettin inside.
A players once again decide to parlay. His character’s charisma bonus is +2. The dice come up with two sixes. That’s super awesome helpful. They basically agree to hand over the dragon hoard, accept the players as their new boss, accept 3000 gold to go and hire a total of 30 ogres in the Giantshield Mountains and meet the party at Witchcross in 16 days to fight the Red Hand of Doom. I like reaction rolls.
The black dragon hoard is rolled up at the table, by the players. They love doing this. Unfortunately, that also means I didn’t write it down. They did. They really love rolling up treasure.
What a find!
I based the goblin treasure on the D&D 3.5 write-up but kept it stingy:
I hadn’t figured out what those elf bane arrows would do, but it didn’t matter: the party elected to destroy them all. Works for me!
The ogres and the ettin get to keep their treasure, of course. There was no need to roll it up.