The Olde Island Fortress

Having spent a few days revisiting Basic Fantasy with a view to using it at the new school club, I am faced with reading through the adventures available in the Morgansfort booklet. Because I find reading dungeon modules pretty dull, I’ve decided it might be more interesting to play through the first adventure using the characters I rolled up over the weekend.

As per usual with my solo actual play reports, this is as written and unedited. Also, fairly obviously as I am playing a module adventure, there are SPOILERS in this post.

“In search of wealth and adventure, your party has traveled to Morgansfort, a lonely stronghold on the fringe of civilization. You spend a few days there, replenishing supplies, mending equipment and seeking rumors of treasure.

One evening at the Toothless Dragon Tavern, a one-eyed farmer named Bart tells you of the Olde Island Fortress. It was built in ancient times by a people long forgotten, and it now lies in ruins. It is said to be home to both fearsome monsters and fabulous treasure.

You set out the next day. After a short journey south on the Old Road, you found the Fortress. It lies on a small island, a few hundred yards off the coast. It doesn’t look like much, but the stories Bart told you are leading you onward…”

BF1: Morgansfort, page 18

Elias and Goriel stand at the edge of the water, facing the island and the ruined bridge that crosses it. Not realising that they would need a boat to cross, the pair are initially disappointed. Looking around in the reeds underneath the ancient stone supports of the bridge, they find a small rowing boat beached on the mud bank. It doesn’t look all that promising, so Elias and Goriel decide to give it a once-over to see if there is any damage.

Roll to Detect Traps, requiring a 1 in 6 for Elias while Goriel can test his Remove Traps thief ability. Rolls 1d6 for Elias, scoring 6; rolls 20% or less for Goriel, scoring 16

“Hey, Elias,” says Goriel, “This boat has a fracture along here, so it’ll not stay afloat all that long if we use it.”
Elias grunts and suggests that as it’s about 120 yards to the first island and about the same distance to the second, perhaps we could row to the first bridge supports on the nearer isle. If the boat sinks, it’d be easier to swim to the closer island.

They don’t have much gear and so climbing into the rowboat is fine. Elias is much stronger so he takes the oars and Goriel decides to watch the waterline and fracture. As they push out onto the river, Elias grunts and begins to row eastward.

Does the boat sink before they make landfall? It’s about 120 yards and the rowboat can move 90 yards in 10 minutes, so it’ll take about 13 minutes to get there. I estimate a 30% chance that they’ll sink, rolling 61 = No.

Elias was rowing for about quarter of an hour while Goriel watched water seep into the boat steadily. This little rowboat wasn’t going to make it all the way, so he was glad they were heading for the first island waypoint. By the time they beached, the rowboat was about quarter full and riding very low in the water. Goriel’s legs were soaked and Elias was sitting in water too. They were glad to beach it and take a breather.

Looking up, Goriel notices that a section of the ruined bridge protrudes across towards the second island. Telling Elias to wait here, he decides to climb up the bridge supports and investigate more closely. Goriel shimmies up the stone supports and hauls himself onto the ruined platform of the old bridge. Looking eastwards, he can see the island and the ruins of the fortress. The beams of the bridge are collapsed but he decides to see if there is any way to climb across from here.

It seems reasonable to me that while the bridge was destroyed in some ancient war, the sections on dry land might be the most sturdy and project some distance of stone bridge either way. That being said, there are more than 60 yards of clear water between the sections.

Returning to Elias, who has been busy tipping over the boat and emptying out the water, Goriel reports that there is about 60 to 80 yards to go. They decide to haul the rowboat over the isle, itself about 50 yards, and try to row the remaining distance.

At length, the pair haul the rowboat onto the shore just south of the ruined bridge. They are both soaking wet and Elias is pretty tired. Goriel decides to go scout towards the ruined fortress. He can see the outline of the tumbled-down walls and there isn’t much of promise from this vantage. Still, tales of treasure are always worth checking out.

Once Elias had checked over their gear and felt ready to get closer to the ruins, Goriel led the way into the central section of the ruins. Looking around, they find a set of wide stairs going down into the ground. Goriel notices that there are some tracks in the mud above, some of them perhaps booted while others appear as large paw marks. It’s dark in the stairwell, so Elias lights his lantern before they descend.

Lanterns burn for 18+1d6 turns (each turn being 10 minutes), so I decide to track the turns and roll when we get to 18 elapsed. Goriel is lightly encumbered and can move 30′ per round, 90′ per turn; unfortunately, Elias is armoured in chainmail and heavily encumbered with gear, so he can only move at 10′ per round, 30′ per turn. Party will move at slowest speed, Goriel will go up front with the lantern in hand.

Slowly, ever so slowly, they descended the steps into the fortress depths. It was perhaps 60 feet of winding stairs before they entered a larger chamber, of roughly octagonal shape with four archways forming openings between slanting walls that joined them at 45 degree angles. They were entering from the north side, Goriel estimated. The room appeared empty but there were signs of substantial traffic between these stairs and the western archway.

Goriel decided to avoid the trafficked direction and the pair headed in the opposite direction, towards the eastern archway. Ahead in the lantern light, they could see a passageway ending with a pair of double doors. Approaching the doors slowly, Goriel decided to press his head against the door and listen.

Three turns elapsed, so I need to roll for a random encounter. I also need to roll for an encounter the first time this room is entered, so I will roll twice. Rolled a 1 and a 2, so there’s nothing in the room but another encounter is triggered from the hallway. Roll 1d6 for the encounter… score a 3. Hmm… roll 2d4, for 6.

Almost as soon as Goriel’s ear pressed against the door, sounds could be heard from the other end of the hallway from where they had just arrived. Suddenly, a group of several small humanoids could be seen at the edge of the lantern light.

These are Goblin raiders. Are they surprised? Rolls 1d6 for the Goblins… 5 is no. What about Goriel and Elias? Rolled a 3, no. Let’s check for the monster reaction: rolling 2d6, +1 for Goriel’s Charisma… scoring 9 = favourable.

“‘Ear, who the freck are you?”
Elias stood his ground while Goriel moved quickly between the big man and the group of Goblins. “We’re here to rest up from the storm that’s coming,” lied Goriel.
The lead Goblin looked slightly taken aback and tilted his head to the side slightly, clearly thinking over its options. Goriel could see it sizing up the two of them before it narrowed its eyes and spoke again.
“We’re out to kill us some of those stinking Kobolds,” it said, “Wanna team up?”
Goriel, not a little taken aback, nodded slowly and asked, “Even split of the treasure?”
The Goblins laughed and the leader grinned, “Deal!”

OK, so I wasn’t expecting that! But why not – it’s the kind of situation Old School play is all about, right?

Listening at the door, with the Goblins behind in the hallway, Goriel couldn’t hear anything.
“Some of our tribe’s scouts came down here and we’ve been sent to reinforce them,” says the Goblin leader.
“You want to go first?” asks Goriel.

Reaction Roll, +1 for Charisma from the Halfling… scores 7 = unfavourable

“Don’t try to trick us, short-run,” growled the Goblin. Goriel grinned back, “Just checking.”
Goriel pushed on the double doors and swung the lantern out in front. The chamber was large, maybe 50 feet to the far side and roughly square, although in a slight cross shape where the four doors entered from each side. A heavy, long table and ornate chairs, badly deteriorated, occupied the centre of the room. Discoloured patches on the walls seem to indicate that many paintings once hung there. As Goriel stepped forward into the room, his eyes were scanning the floors and walls for dangers.

Let’s give Goriel a roll to spot traps… 20% or less, rolls… 58.

The Goblins push past Goriel and lurch into the room. There’s a click as the floor section immediately beyond the double doors gives way and tips them into the widely gaping pit beneath.

Save versus Death Ray needed for Goriel and the Goblins, the latter saving as Level 1 Fighters. Goriel needs a 9 or more on 1d20, scoring… 13 to succeed. The Goblins need 12s… only one makes the roll!

With a yelp, the Goblin leader jumps to the left as Goriel dives right. The remainder of the Goblin party is dumped down a pit and falls into darkness. Their cries are heard as muffled thumps and crunching sounds result.
“Crap!” says Goriel, picking himself up, “That was close!”
Elias grunted, peering into the room from the hallway. The Goblin eyed the pair suspiciously but said nothing as it recovered its spear and looked around cautiously.

Goriel wandered the room with a careful eye for the floor.
“We better be careful and search the floors near the other doors,” he said.
“Who puts a pit trap on the far side of a pair of double doors?” mused Elias.
“Kobolds,” hissed the Goblin, “They always set traps.”

Elias stepped carefully around the trap on the floor, using the foot or so leeway around the edge of the pit, and moved carefully towards the north door. Goriel decided to check the south door and suggested the Goblin check the east door. All three are in fact double doors, just like the ones they came through.

Checking for pit traps takes ten minutes and gives a 1 in 6 chance of success for Elias and the Goblin. Goriel gets to roll his Traps ability… 3, 6, and 88% means they all believe it’s safe.

As the party searches the floor around each door, a clunking sound indicates that the trapdoor on the entranceway is closing and they all stare at each other in realisation that this place is automated.
“Maybe it wasn’t the Kobolds after all,” mused Goriel.

With no real intelligence to go on, Goriel suggests they take the north doors. Listening carefully before opening them, he presses his ear to the wood.

It’s time to roll for random encounters again, 60 minutes into the adventure. Rolls… 5. Goriel test his listening, needing 30%… scores 11.

“It’s quiet beyond,” Goriel said. Cautiously, he pulled open the doors and revealed a corridor heading about 30 feet to another set of double doors. Padding quietly forward, Goriel pressed his ear against the new door. Nothing obvious to hear, he decided to open the doors.

Beyond, elaborately carved columns parade down the center of this marble-paved hall. In the center of this room is a badly damaged stone statue, which appears to have originally depicted a man carrying a large spear with the point angled downwards; the upper parts of the statue have been smashed, and fragments of marble litter the floor nearby. At the base of the ruined statue is a large wooden chest. The chamber itself runs northwestward about 60 feet towards an archway in the middle of the west wall. It’s about 30 feet wide.

The Goblin rushes towards the chest, grinning with greed. Goriel yelps and hisses, “Don’t!”

Does the Goblin open the chest? I say this seems to be pretty likely… 70% chance, rolls… 94%

Halting near the chest, the Goblin arrested it’s greed and turned towards Goriel.
“I’m just trying to be cautious,” says the halfling by way of explanation. The Goblin nods slowly and looks around cautiously.

Roll for checking traps… a 1 is a success.

“Look how the spear is pointing down toward the chest,” says the Goblin. Standing up, noting the angle of the spear it can also see how it’s a real spear not a stone one.
Goriel padded over and nodded, “Why don’t you stand to the side and try lifting the chest lid with your spear tip?”
The Goblin nodded and stood to the side, angling the spear to try and hook the lid.

I think this is tricky, so will give the Goblin a check. As he’s a Level 1 Fighter, I give him a 17 or better roll on a 1d20 to succeed. Rolls… 4

“It ain’t gonna lift so easy,” said the Goblin.
“Damn,” said Goriel, “I bet that spear will skewer anyone who tries though.”
Stepping closer, Goriel looks over the chest and tries to see if he can disarm the trap.

Time to check that Remove Traps ability, needing a 20%… rolls 86.

“No obvious way it’s linked,” Goriel said. With a shrug, he lifts the lid and with a thwap the spear springs towards him.

Save vs Death Ray! Needs a 9+ on 1d20… 11.

Goriel dove right as the spear slammed into the floor right where he was kneeling a moment before. Returning to the now open chest, Goriel can see it’s filled with several hundred coins and three chunky crystals. Picking up one each of the two different coloured coins, he can see that there are mostly copper coins bearing the mark of some forgotten King but that aabout a third are of a bluish-silver metal. Peering over his shoulder, Elias tells him the weird metal is electrum and worth about 50 times the value of the copper.
“Equal shares, you said,” says the Goblin.
“Sure,” agrees Goriel, “You got a sack?”
The Goblins doesn’t so they agree that he can pocket the biggest crystal and the rest belongs to the adventurers. Goriel counts out 50 of the electrum coins for himself and another 50 for Elias. They also bag the other two crystals. Goriel smugly notes to himself that the larger crystal probably isn’t worth all that much so he tells the Goblin it can keep all the other coins. Closing the chest, the group decides what to do next.

Game on!


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