AAR: Borderwilds

In which the author recounts his experience running 5-7 thirteen year old kids through an OSR D&D campaign:

When last we met, our intrepid heroes successfully foiled the evil wizard Bargle’s plan to discredit the king by retrieving the king’s Sword of Authority from a dungeon of Bargle’s design.  The wizard, tired of fancy footing around, murdered the king, assumed the throne, and ordered the arrest of the heroes who ruined his first plan.  Getting wind of the threat, the heroes fled to the farthest corner of the tottering empire, there to lay low while they lay their plans.

Borderwilds – DM Map

Cornerstone Keep is the empire’s trash heap – the place where the Emperor exiles all the screw-ups and misfits who are too politically connected to be shot from a catapult.  This is the last place Bargle would think to look for them.  The keep lies on the far border of the empire in a quiet, out of the way hole that hasn’t seen any trouble in decades – not since the wildmen of the north stopped raiding civilized lands.

Borderwilds – Player Map

That’s the keep at the bottom of the map.  North of this map are the barbarian tribes who once warred with the empire for generations.  A few hundred years ago, their numbers dwindled, and the frontier fell quiet.  No one really knows what lies north of the Brillig River any more.  Used to be the Battle Plains stretched farther north, but time and nature have changed things.  At the start of the campaign this is all they have to go on.

Two roads diverge before them.  Do they explore the Borderwilds to find treasure and powerful artifacts with an eye towards returning to civilized lands and stabbing Bargle in the face repeatedly, or do they carve out a kingdom of their own from the Borderwilds, attract followers and henchmen, and then march on the empire to overthrow Bargle and stab him in the face repeatedly.  Either way, they are going to need a lot of gold.  And that means finding holes in the ground to plunder.
Not the final disposition.

Their first encounter at the Keep was with the Castellan, who bade them investigate rumors of foul creatures in the mining town of Ogrefell.  After meeting with the locals, they assaulted a small cave and got their asses handed to them by the tribe of rat creatures that lived there.  After some retreating of the expeditious kind, they planned out an elaborate ambush at the mouth of the cave.

The wizard and two halfling henchmen stand above the cave, ready to roll rocks down on the heads of the the stupid rat creatures.  Archers stand behind trees, with the dwarf ready to flank.  In the end, they laid out bait for the stupid rat creatures, and pulled off a big win.  Thinking they’d dealt with all but the ring-leader and his shaman side-kick, the evening ended with the plucky adventurers once more delving into the dark.

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