Monday, 31 August 2020

Lankhmar #1: a golden key

First session of a new campaign is always interesting: I want to introduce characters and immediately give the players something to do, but also want to give them options to approach the situation as they like. In this case, I tweaked DCC Masks of Lankhmar and added an intro scene before the adventure properly starts. Of course my players immediately found a third option and are now completely off the rails. Awesome!

In the seedy Silver Eel tavern in the great city of Lankhmar, the patrons are unnaturally quiet. The reason: two swaggering thieves, openly wearing their silver memberships daggers of Thieves' House. The pair are discussing an upcoming robbery of the eastern collector of curiosa Igrik of the East, who lives in Noble District. At a shadowed table nearby, three sets of pointy ears perk up:

  • BUNTY, Half-Orc druid. Bunty's grand ambition in life is to open a bakery in Lankhmar. She wants to learn how to make the utterly crispy breadrolls that she once got from a passing merchant in her village on the trade road. Tattood with a whisk and a rolling pin on her forearms, the young half-orc still needs to scrape up the coin to join the Bakers' Guild somehow. Bunty has a Criminal background and knows the seemingly-cultured fence Ebenous Rilk, who works from Pleasure Park.
  • XALO, Gnome Warlock of the Fiend. Xalo was a curious little one, even for a Gnome. She's smart (especially with her Sage / Bookworm background), but has a hard time discerning between "mine" and "thine". That's how she wandered into an old hermit's hut, picked up a shackled book, and unwittingly completed a warlock pact. She's just in it for funsies.
  • SIX BURDEN, Half-Drow Rogue and the only native to Lankhmar. A skeletally thin half-elf urchin with dusky skin and a shock of white hair, he was orphaned at a young age by a dad he never knew and a mother drifting out of his young life. The orphanage didn't work out too well, and Six Burden learned to live on the street.

The trio are down to their last pieces of gold and need to come up with money to pay for their rooms in Ivrian's Slophouse.

Home-made map of Lankhmar, based on the city map in AD&D 2137 Lankhmar: City of Adventure.
Locations are from that book, the DCC line of Lankhmar adventures, and a few from the blogosphere.


When they hear the lanky thief Issek (named after a long line of sainted martyrs) and his brutish ally Tovlis planning to heist Igrik the Collector's, our trio quickly pay attention. Igrik is planning a big feast to show off his collection of antiquities and ingratiate himself in Noble district, and this is the perfect opportunity to sneak in and steal his new acquisition: a thrice-jeweled golden key.

Where I'd expected them to try and score Igrik' new acquisition for themselves, they instead hatch a plan to warn Igrik and get a reward. There goes my carefully planned heist, straight out the window. Being surprised like this is great stuff, that's why I DM!

Even though it's midnight, the Gnome, Half-Orc and Half-Elf head for Noble district to find the collector's estate walled off and guarded. The original building is very Lankhmart in style, but it seems Igrik is building a new addition: a domed octagonal tower that Xalo (run by a player who is always interested in strange lore) recognizes as specially designed to funnel arcane energies.

The trio try to bluff their way past the guard but fail, Xalo casts a spell to send him to sleep, pilfers a delivery of fish and spices, and the group heads for the kitchens, which are the only place in the estate still active this late at night. Here they meet with the chef, a tanned easterling like Igrik, who tastes recipes with a long copper spoon of office that promptly gets nicked by Xalo. Bunty manages to convince the chef that there's really a heist being planned and Six Burden weedles a signed note out of the overworked chef that says they can come back in the morning.

...and that's where we end this short first session!


  • two bowls of food begged in Igris' kitchen
  • a bunch of raw salmon sprinkled liberally with saffron
  • an unwieldy official master chef's spoon (5 sp or 15 gp to the right collector)


Each character got to roll at the start of the session to get a special item. These aren't directly useful, but may drive stories further down the road. From Against the Wicked City's 20 things your trickster might have 'acquired' and not be quite sure what to do with.

BUNTY has a bundle of incriminating papers, implicating the influential Countess Kronia in a variety of crimes and misdemeanours. About half of them look genuine, but she's pretty sure the rest are high-quality forgeries.

XALO has a land grant, bearing the seal of a dead official, declaring Lord Farhad and his daughter Ara to be the rightful owners of Seven Lake Country. As far as she knows, Farhad and Ara have been dead for years, and Seven Lake Country is way, way out into the wilderness; but still, if she can pass herself off as a descendant, maybe she can find more profit here than out on the frontier...

SIX BURDEN has a hand-drawn map of the temple of Skama the Moon Goddess, with several secret passages marked on it. Next to one of them - which appears to connect the temple with another nearby building - someone has written the words: 'NEVER use this tunnel after dark.'

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