Temple of Elemental Evil, Session #1: The Long Awaited Sequel

Finally.

I’ve been running an on-again-off-again kinda/sorta Dungeons and Dragons type game for a while now. I wanted to run some new players through some old modules, but the only books I had were of the 3.5 variety. So we started out playing Keep on the Borderlands with some conversion notes that I found online. It was alright, but it wasn’t great. Then I picked up a copy of Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea and things just fell into place. AS&SH is one of the many retro-clones that are available these days (you can read my thoughts about it here), and not having to flip back and forth between the adventure and the conversion notes for the adventure really helped to move things along. Also, it was always my intention to segue from Keep on the Borderlands into the Temple of Elemental Evil, and I feel like the conversion process would have been a nightmare once we got to the larger module. If you care to read up on our adventures in the Caves of Chaos they are all posted elsewhere on this blog; what follows are the notes from our first session as we transition to the Temple of Elemental Evil.

We started by wrapping things up at the keep. The party decided to hang around town for a bit, basking in the glory of their triumphs and spending some of their hard earned money on a new suit of plate mail for Garwin the fighter. They spent a lot of money around town and didn’t bother with depositing their party treasure at the bank or the merchants guild, and they also never bothered to buy a private room at the inn, preferring instead to sleep in the common room for one silver per person, per night. So I robbed them. I just straight up robbed them. I took a look at their party treasure sheet, got rid of their gems, some gold, some platinum, and I handed it back to them. They were a little upset at first, feeling like they should have had a chance to catch this dirty thief. But then we had a talk about how I had told them how much it would cost to sustain themselves and how they had decided to just mark off an amount of gold far in excess of that. That wasn’t just tipping waitresses, folks, that was partying. And why wouldn’t you be partying? You just kicked evil’s ass and got a shitload of treasure! But when you do that you probably shouldn’t decide to sleep in the floor at the bar. So everyone nodded their heads and we moved on.

The party arrived in Hommlet and headed straight for the Inn of the Welcome Wench. Where else would they go? They walked in, asked Ostler Gundigoot about adventuring prospects, and he sold them the lunch special and a round of drinks. But as they were walking to their table, a guy named Zert told them about how he couldn’t help but overhear their conversation with the ostler and how they had intimated that they were looking for some adventure. Zert told them about the moat house, and offered his services if they were interested in going to investigate. He also told them that some guy named Furnok was interested in heading that way too, but that he cheats at cards. So, between friends, he wouldn’t trust that guy on an adventure.

The party met up with Furnok later, actually won a whole gold piece off of him, and learned that he would also be interested in offering his services as a “treasure finder” to anyone heading out to the moat house. When asked why Zert didn’t trust him, Furnok told the party that Zert wasn’t as good at dice as they were. After dinner, the party decided to take a walk and discuss their plans. They decided that Furnok was obviously a thief and, having just been robbed, felt like Zert was the more solid choice when it came to travelling companions. They went by the blacksmith’s shop and inquired about weapons and armor, even though they had already purchased new armor and weapons, and didn’t really need anything like that. He directed them to the trading post, where they purchased some rations, a thing they actually needed.

Brother Jaeric went to the Temple of St. Cuthbert, met Terjon, and dropped 400 gold on a healing potion. He also tithed five platinum pieces. He’s a good guy. Back at the Inn of the Welcome Wench that night, the party met Elmo, the town drunk. He said he would go to the moat house with them if they would shell out the cash for some chain mail and a battle axe. The party thought this was doable, and told Elmo to meet them at breakfast. Tim the Conjurer introduced himself to Spugnoir, who also happened to be a wizard, and they hit it off. Spugnoir was told he should meet the party for breakfast as well.

Zert was waiting for the group at breakfast, and Spugnoir had already eaten. Elmo was a no-show. Tim and Viiridi, the ranger, decided to go visit Burne the Magnificent, and see if they could maybe purchase a scroll or a staff or a wand or some robes or something. On the way they ran into Elmo, who apologized for running late. Tim and Viiridi sent Elmo to the inn, to meet up with the rest of the party. Elmo was less drunk but still kinda slow, brain-wise, and asked about his chain mail and battle axe. There was a conversation. Zert said he wouldn’t go if Elmo went, since the town drunk seemed like a liability. The group agreed, and elected to take Zert along with them. Elmo assured them that he was available if they needed him, providing of course that a suit of chain mail and a battle axe would be purchased. Spugnoir decided that he would also go along to the moat house with the party. Tim and Viiridi met with Burne and Rufus, and Burne sold Tim a scroll of Tasha’s Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter, which in AS&SH is called Ungovernable Hideous Laughter, for the very reasonable price of 300 gold pieces. It was roundly agreed upon that Burne is an asshole.

So, the party set out from Hommlet with Spugnoir and Zert. They had decided that Furnok was a shifty gambler (other people in town had confirmed this suspicion) and that Elmo, while strong-looking, was a simpleton, and probably more of a liability than anything else. Good times.

We played for about three hours, and nobody but myself rolled any dice. We had an awesome time and there was a lot of great role-playing. Next session some dice will definitely be rolled, but we all had a blast just hanging out in Hommlet this week. Sometimes that’s great. I have a lot of memories of great game sessions where somebody rolled a 20 when they absolutely needed to, or somebody made a saving throw by the exact number they needed, but I also have a lot of memories of great game sessions where we spent a lot of time just sitting around a table pretending to be some people we weren’t for a few hours without even thinking about dice. This was one of those times.

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4 thoughts on “Temple of Elemental Evil, Session #1: The Long Awaited Sequel

    1. The 3.5 conversion notes for Keep on the Borderlands didn’t make any changes to the number of creatures encountered or anything, so it was still pretty rough. I had to dial down the number of creatures in several areas because I didn’t have a party of 8-10 PCs with a handful of hirelings besides, which I think is the default assumption of the module.

      Basically the conversion notes give you updated stat blocks for the monsters in each encounter area. They also put ad hoc things like “There is a 2 in 6 chance to discover…” into 3.5 terms, like making them spot or search checks, and scouring electrum pieces from the treasure tables.

      That being said, I feel like earlier editions of the game were less forgiving than newer editions, so switching to the retro-clone rules probably made the encounters tougher even after I nerfed them a bit. I was pretty sure they were all going to die in our last Keep on the Borderlands session, but they got very lucky.

  1. “but I also have a lot of memories of great game sessions where we spent a lot of time just sitting around a table pretending to be some people we weren’t for a few hours without even thinking about dice.”

    Those are great sessions.

    One of the little things in Homlet that I always loved is the hidden room in the inn’s basement, with the old rebel arsenal. It tells an interesting story just by its existence, and it’s the kind of thing that has no bearing on the overall module. Most parties probably never stumble across it.

    1. One of the times when I was a player in this module we had a secret meeting with Ostler and some other townsfolk down in that secret room. I agree that it’s a very cool bit of added detail that gives the module some character.

      I’ve often thought it would be cool to create an adventure that took place in the aftermath of a previous adventure, like the Temple of Elemental Evil does, because things like that hidden room would be sprinkled in without having to be forced. I wish I had taken better notes back in the day, so that I would have something to put such a thing together with.

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