This is part 2 of an actual play report of Tim of Gothridge Manor's module, Knowledge Illuminates.
So, where was I? Oh, yes. Half the party died.
That was slightly misleading. Two party members died and one turned into a ghoul, who was then killed by the rest of the party. So he un-died, was poisoned, then re-died. But I get ahead of myself.
After the creepy ghoul room was a door, sealed with wax. There was some muttering about "whatever is beyond that can't be good" before the decision to melt the wax with a torch so the door could be opened. What was beyond the door was not, in fact, good. It was a hallway filled with poison gas, which jetted out into the faces of the two party members melting the wax. Two failed saves = six points of damage each for a first level cleric and theif = two dead PC's. There was some general dismay before moving on into the corridor, then some backtracking to loot the fallen.
Next in Knowledge Illuminates is another very cool room - this one an altar and a burial chamber. Tyhe PC's figured this part out fairly quickly, but having skipped the room with the pool and the dead body, they didn't immeidately see the room as connected with other goings on in the dungeon. They did, however, toss one of their recently deceased comrades on the altar, to no effect. I also think it was here that I decided Delaquain, the goddess sketched out in the module, was another incarnation of Xena. Her given description matched Xena fairly well. Who knows, maybe the entire pantheon will be various incarnations of 1990's fantasy TV shows.
Next, the party found a hidden compartment which hid a glowing red liquid in a vial. After some jokes about hot sauce, they decided not to drink it immediately and proceede to the Workshop. The Workshop had a nasty magical trap -- a rune that turned one into a ghoul if triggered. Of course the PC's triggered it, by stepping purposefully into the summoning circle drawn on the floor. It was Raymond, the Count of Tripoli, who immeidately began his transformation. In a desperate attempt to halt his growing craving for human flesh, he drank the bottle of red liquid and. . . failed his saving throw. He then became horribly sick AND turning undead. Not Raymond's best day. The party chained him up and left him in the workshop so they could explore the final room.
The final room is not the BBEG encounter, which I thought was a nice feautre of the adventure. Instead, it gives the PC's the chance to totally screw themselves over, as it contains the key to the locked magical chest they found amidst the heap of dead bodies earlier in the dungeon, tucked inside a book resting in a dead man's hands. The PC's found the key, but instead of making a mad dash back to the chest, they prudently decided to see what was written in the book first. Reading the sorrid details of Tergul's fall, they decided to wait on opening the chest.
Pausing briefly to decapitate their former friend and now part-ghoul on the way out, the PC's exited the dungeon.
I'll freely admit to being worn out by the end of the adventure, so I hand waved a lot of the exit, including the room the PC's hadn't yet explored. Thus, they didn't really encounter the shadow that lurked there, which was fine because I was thiking about eliminating that encounter anyway.
That's my only small compalaint about Knowledge Illuminates -- it's deadly. I think I pulled some punches and toned it down in parts and half of the party still died. That actually ended up setting a nice old-school tone. My players were fine with it, but the adventure is pretty harsh. We still had a great time. I think the adventure itself is fun, with interesting encounters and a nice backstory that can easily lead to future adventures. Certainly the Porters of Gideon will show up in the campaign; I am not sure if the PC's will decide to use this as a base of operations. Right now, they are heading into town to cash in on the bandit bounty.
Thanks, Tim, for a fun adventure!