You must escape or perish in this dark forgotten hole".
I did plan to run this quest with the alternative Heroes from Sir Ragnar's band of merry men, but as we're having trouble getting that gaming group together, the regular four Heroes will take on this adventure instead.
And what an adventure it was.
As the Evil wizard player I decided to add a few things to spice up the quest. The original quest is great, but it has no mechanic to make it seem like an actual race against time.
Firstly, I used this opportunity to introduce a deck of 'Evil Wizard cards'; if there are no monsters on the board on the Evil Wizard players turn, he may draw one of these cards and use it later. These cards make life more difficult for the Heroes, encouraging them to get through the dungeon quicker; the more doors they open, the more monsters they are likely to encounter, meaning Morcar will not get to draw any cards. Most of the cards have fairly minimal effects, although there are a few very devilish ones, and the psychological effect on the Hero players is great. I have two versions of this deck and they will be used from now on for every quest .
Secondly, a special rule for this quest only. On each Morcar turn, he rolls one combat die; on the roll of a black shield there is a rumble in the dungeon as the traitorous guide attempts to collapse the exit.
The stair tile was placed next to the board, and every time Morcar was to roll a black shield at the start of his turn, a falling block marker was placed on the tile. These falling blocks would begin to fill up the exit room, and if it was full of these once the Heroes eventually found it, they would be trapped forever...
Here you can see the Heroes stranded in the room with 3 doors. You can see the big stack of Evil Wizard Cards (or Room cards as they are titled in this case). The stair tile also stands by, ready to fill up with rubble.
Each of the Heroes kill one adversary on their first turn. However, on Morcar's very first turn I promptly roll a black skull and the stair tile begins to fill up with rubble. The look on the players faces is priceless, as they now know that they are in a real life or death race.
After a lively exchange the Heroes clear the rooms of greenskins, but at some cost; Rend the Barbarian losing five (!!!) Body Points and the Elf losing two. In the frenzied search for a way out of this part of the dungeon that followed, Bretal also lost another wound from an arrow trap. After finding no secret doors in any of the three rooms that held the monsters, the Dwarf finally realises that the secret door was in the first room all along. The Heroes were not impressed that they didn't even need to open any of the three doors in the first place! I have run this quest many times, and nobody ever seems to check the first room for another way out!
Rend opens a door and finds a hulking chaos warrior leading some goblin runts...
But that's not all; Morcar uses his first Evil Wizard card - Hallucinations. Rend has disturbed a cluster of magic mushroom spores, and loses one mind point. He only had two to begin with!
As if groggy from the 'shrooms, Rend completely fluffs his attack on the Chaos warrior. The Elf and Dwarf, however, are unaffected by the spores and each kill a goblin. Merkai the Wizard, sensing that his Barbarian friend is in dire trouble (he could have been killed at this point if the Chaos Warrior rolled well), casts Fire of Wrath on the creature of chaos from a distance, incinerating it.
One of them is furious that he has been disturbed and goes into a Frenzy (courtesy of another Evil Wizard card, allowing it two attacks in the same turn). Grimgold attacks the creature and misses completely, but Merkai comes to the rescue again, this time casting Genie on the frenzied Fimir. The Genie rolls 5 attack dice and rolls 5 skulls, ripping the Fimir to shreads.
Rather unhelpfully however, the Barbarian finds a stash of gold coins hidden here and there around a fireplace, and misses a turn. The last thing the party needed really.
The humiliation is forgotten quickly when Bretal finds 100 gold in the first chest.
Merkai continues his scouting mission alone. A risky tactic considering that he has used many of his offensive spells helping the other Heroes. Thankfully he still has a Sleep spell handy to use on this orc. As the Orc slips into unconsciousness, there is another loud rumble as a the guide tips more rocks down the exit stair. Time is running out!
A close up of the Unholy Stench card.
Merkai continues his solo expedition, finding a nest of goblins, but can't attack them thanks to another Evil Wizard card - the Hero becomes lost in a powerful vision of his eventual death, cast by Morcar himself). To make matters worse, the treasonous guide collapse more stones down into the stairway. The sound is much closer now, and the Heroes know they are close to the exit, but will it be too late?
Grimgold's stumpy little legs have finally caught up with the Wizard. Seeing that Merkai seems to be having no problem with the remaining goblin, the Dwarf opens the other door and finds the exit! There is a lot of rubble in the room, but the stairway is still open!
The Heroes kill the last monsters and exit the dungeon. The guide has slinked off into the night and cannot be seen. These are not the kind of Heroes to forget such treachery, however, and they vow to track him down. But that's a story for another day...