Unfortunately, only 3 players made it to session 2. One player had blown his back out, the other two were just blow outs!
When going to a session of 'The Surrendered Lands' I have decided to take a 'communal box' with me that contains any notes, maps etc that any character wants to share with the other characters. Since the box contained numerous character sheets left by players, I stated that they could be considered 'fair game' to recruit for the evenings adventure!
The characters for the evenings play were: Shamos Berta (new recruit) Tiny Tracy (new recruit) Servus Khann (forcibly recruited) Tarkus (forcibly recruited) Alton Crackblaster (forcibly recruited)
So anyway, the party went through the gates of Castle Torrog and went down the mountains into the foothills. When they drew closer to the old damaged tower again, they cautiously checked it out and discovered it was occupied once more.
Every named area I create gets given a Respawn rating. This determines if and when and how the area will be repopulated. The old tower is normally guarded by 10 goblins: There is a goblin camp some miles south of the tower and a weekly patrol is mounted to check in on the tower and relieve the current occupants of their current duties. Consequently, the old tower will be repopulated back to 10 occupants once a week.
Remember, time passes in the setting at the same rate as real life when not playing. So in that week between sessions, a week has also passed in the game.
The goblin camp in the south will slowly dwindle in numbers as this happens. But that camp is also reinforced, but on a monthly basis instead!
The characters prudently gave the tower a wide birth and approach the castle ruins unseen and unmolested.
Once they entered the basement, they proceeded to the area where they had a fight one week ago. Nothing has changed in this time.
This particular level of the dungeon has Respawns: None, so once it is cleared, it should be safe.
Once the characters were back in this room, they remembered that the skeleton horde came out of 4 doors that surround it. Exploring these doors led to treasure behind every one of the 4 doors.
This means that the characters who fled the area last week (and didn't come back this week) don't get any of the loot they 'earned' - and by extension none of the xp too!
The new recruits all got lots of gold without so much as breaking a sweat. Lucky them!
The characters then explored the rest of this level, there was only one area left that contained any threat. It was a room with 3 ghouls.
Quite a threat for level 1 characters. A couple of them got knocked to 0 hp. I think they're beginning to consider this pare for the course now.
The party then found the stairs leading downwards. Did they consider that they weren't high enough level to face the risks before descending?
Did they £$*#!
Level 1 is designed to be challenging for level 1 characters.
Level 2 is meant for level 3 characters.
And level 3 is meant to be a challenge for level 5 characters.
This disproportionate increase in difficulty is perfectly acceptable in a West Marches game. The players are entirely free to explore other parts of the setting. The do not necessarily need to doggedly and single-mindedly pursue this one avenue of adventure...
So anyway; the characters decided to doggedly and single-mindedly pursue this one avenue of adventure. The PCs began their exploration of this level and encountered some more ghouls.
Then they encountered 2 'Minotaur skeletons'.
Minotaur skeletons have a 'challenge rating' of 2, this means their xp value is 450, combined it means this is a '900 xp encounter'.
In case you don't know about D&D 'CRs' and you're wondering, an encounter for 6 level 1 characters that is worth 600 xp is considered 'deadly'. So a 900 xp encounter should be a barrel of laughs.
The party charged in and attacked.
A wiser decision than it sounds, as you don't want Minotaurs of any flavour charging you instead!
These are Minotaur skeletons, so they are vulnerable to 'bludgeoning' attacks.
This means that Minotaur skeletons take double damage from attacks that do bludgeoning damage.
2 of the PCs do bludgeoning attacks and they whittle down the Minotaur skeletons' hps pretty quickly.
After about 3 rounds of very tense combat the Minotaur skeletons are defeated. The skeletons didn't manage to land a single blow on the PCs.
Which was very good news for the PCs. These Minotaur skeletons attack with their really big great axes that are so large they do an additional d12 damage. This means that when they did hit they would deliver 2d12+4 damage. Enough to pretty much 'instagib' any level 1 PC.
I genuinely don't know what to think here. On one hand the PCs have vanquished some pretty powerful foes. On the other hand, the PCs have 'waltzed' their way through the encounter completely oblivious to the consequences they might have to face later.
They're still as determined as ever to reach the bottom of this dungeon.
After this battle and having run out of time, the heroes beat a hasty retreat back to Caste Torrog to divvy up their rewards.