It Takes a Thief

Player Characters
  • Kay, age 8 - Starlight, The Halfling Thief
  • Sue, age 11 - Alina, The Half-Elf Fighter
This entry is part 4 of 8 in TD2α – The Ruined Tower

Even though the girls had two small skirmishes under their belts, I was worried about the next encounter. On the other side of the locked door, leading into the final room, were two zombies and a ghoul.

It was the ghoul I was concerned about.

The module recognizes that the paralyzing touch of the ghoul could easily lead to a TPK. It stages the ghoul to retreat with the following schedule by round:

  1. Is made aware of the heroes outside.
  2. Goes and gets the small chest from the shelf.
  3. Goes to secret door.
  4. Shoves aside the bookcase.
  5. Opens the secret door.
  6. Escapes through the tunnel.

Even though the Fast-Play is designed as an introduction, without a wizard or a cleric in their party, my mind only conjured up the slaughter of the fighter and thief, once they figured out a way to open the door.

There is even a footnote in the module covering this very issue, but I am getting ahead of myself.

The PCs have not even tackled the lock.

Problem Solving

I initially chose this module as a start, because it covers a lot of standard rpg fare. It was not so much back to basics, but learning the basics.

So, here is a locked door. According to the module, they can force it open, hack it down, pick the lock or use a knock spell. I did not list the four methods that it covered; it was their job to come up with a solution.

Magic was not an option and they had already made a specific search for a key in the Scriptorium with no luck, but they were confident enough, since, after all, one of them was a thief.

It is worth noting, the pregenerated characters all start at level 2, so when they rolled up their own, I had them also start at level 2. This is not typical of me, but I did not want them to spend that time making their characters, working on their background, and decking them out in gear just to die on their first crawl at the claws and teeth of giant rats in a dungeon designed for level 2 characters.

Death would come later.

So, not having found a key for the door, they went with the obvious conclusion that Kay should put her thieves’ tools to good use.

Being level 2, Kay had two shots.

She failed both.

Sue: There’s no way we should smash down this door. It’ll make too much noise.
Kay: Maybe we just haven’t found the key yet . . .

Starlight put her thieves’ tools back inside her pack. She then pulled out one of the triangular daggers that she had just recovered. She eyeballed the shape and design and then compared it to the key hole in the door that was impeding them.

Kay: I put the dagger inside the key slot. It’s the same isn’t it?
DM: It slides in perfectly. It makes a soft click and you’re able to tell that turning it would serve as the key.
Kay: Yes!

No. This was completely arbitrary.

The lock was beyond her thieving capabilities, but I was not about to sway them to just smash the door, since they already stated they did not want to go that route.

I was stuck myself. The adventure needed to move forward. How are they going to solve this with limited options?

The way Kay explained how she compared the keyhole to the dagger sold me. Besides, I could not think of a better solution.

Now how in the hell are they going to take on the two zombies and this ghoul?

I was excited to find out, because if you have ever been a DM, you know that the unpredictably of players will always surprise you.

2 Responses to “It Takes a Thief”

  1. 1 Shane Mangus November 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    I think it sounds like you handled it perfectly. Keeping the game moving forward, and allowing the players to have a good time are always the main goals when I run a game. I am also one of those guys who preps very little when it comes to small details, and I let those flesh themselves out during play. It keeps things fresh for me, and I think it gives the game an edgy feel as well. Sounds like you guys are having fun. Keep it up!

  2. 2 burnedfx November 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    I know in the Mouse Guard RPG it’s very explicit that the players have a hand at how the adventure unfolds, what the solutions are and such.

    When you’re stuck on details or what happens next, just listening to the players at the table can spark the answers to questions you’re asking yourself.

    Did all of those orcs show up because the party was worried they would or was that a random encounter? Is this onyx demon idol with ruby eyes cursed because they won’t dare touch it or is it cursed and they better not pick it up?

    As long as they don’t know if it was the chicken or the egg.

    Hell, sometimes I don’t even know until it happens and it definitely does keep things fresh as you put it.

    Thanks for the comments!



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