After a month hiatus due to attendance, we return to the Isle of Dread…only I didn’t feel like playing or socialized due to work-related stress, so it took me a while to get my brain in the right mindset, even after the players arrived. Application of homemade Devil’s Food birthday cake helped. Yes, it was my birthday. 30 years ago (not to the day), I started playing D&D with the Tom Moldvay-revised Basic Set (that’s the magenta box w/Erol Otus cover art). My first D&D-related purchase was the Expert Set which included X1: The Isle of Dread. Fitting, then, that we should be playing that adventure on my 38th birthday.
We rejoin our would-be, treasure-seeking heroes as they prepared to cross the rope bridge from the high terrain of the island near the river gorge to the central mesa. The group chose to send the lightest member over the bridge first, so the elf, Wikki Swiftwind (finally feeling better) across. He did not fall to a horrible death three thousand feet below, so the rest of the group made their way across the bridge. It was then they noticed that Finias Jinx was no where to be found. Since he had a habit of wandering off, then showing up at opportune times, they pressed onward.
The top of the mesa was flat and mostly featureless. A few stands of trees lay off, miles in the distance. Directly ahead of them was a high ridge. Seeing no settlements, they set off for the nearest forested area. Several miles of banter later, they arrived at the edge of the forest. The sun was setting, so they decided to make camp while Wikki hunted for meat. While Wikki was only marginally successful, bringing back a brace of coneys, they were able to supplement the meat with foraged nuts, berries, and mushrooms. They set up a watch rotation, hoping for an uneventful night.
With the exception of a pair of large, hairy elephant-like creatures stomping around at night (mastodons), the evening did indeed pass uneventfully. Soon after breaking camp, they found the far edge of the forest; apparently, it was smaller than it appeared when they first arrive on the mesa. At Kilos’s suggestion, the group headed toward the ridge that appeared to be in the center of the mesa. After another few hours, they found their way barred by a small river. Fortunately, it was fairly easy to ford. Lorelei took some time to attempt to spear some fish to supplement their rapidly-dwindling supplies. Her first try wasn’t entirely successful, but the giant bass she was attempt to spear turned and attacked her! She and Kilos made short work of the huge fish and the fresh fish was enjoyed by all.
The ridge loomed over them now, a jagged mountain range which was far larger than it appeared from the rope bridge at the edge of the mesa. There was some debate whether they should attempt to circumnavigate it or just climb over it. At the prodding of the dwarves, the intrepid explorers chose to climb over it. The going was slow and the terrain treacherous. Several times, falls were averted only by the strength of the other party members. The cold and darkness crept in on them as they climbed. Twelve hours later, they reached the summit. In the pitch blackness, they saw only twinkling firelight far, far away. They made camp, hoping nothing would choose to eat them this far up. Wikki found a spell in the spell book they recovered from the haunted mansion that allowed them to make the fire from their torches shed much less light (and use less fuel) and cast it directly from the book, destroying the pages in the process*.
When dawn broke, our heroes could see they stood on the edge of what appeared to be a caldera. They could make out a small village at the edge of a lake. The lake covered about half of the bottom of the caldera and contained an island. Once again, they began climbing. The descent, while not easier than the ascent, proved shorter. The air grew warmer the further away from the peaks they descended and lush jungle vegetation again began to cover all surfaces. By the time they reached the bottom, dusk was once again falling. They approached the walled village, wondering what awaited within…
* An oft-used house rule for Basic D&D and AD&D wherein magic-users can cast directly from spell books, but it burns the spell like using a scroll. The spell in question was “Affect Normal Fires” which is actually an AD&D spell, not a Basic D&D spell.
There won’t be a Doctor StrangeRoll update for June 1st, as I will be out of town on “vacation.” It’s in quotes because I’ll have to spend a portion of each day working remotely. Hopefully, I won’t have to spend ALL day every day working. That would suck.