The Let's Play Archive

Temple of Elemental Evil

by Bobbin Threadbare

Part 2: Because Level 1 Sucks

“I have to say, the place looks a lot nicer since you moved in together.”

“Thanks. Bob has been great about remembering the dishes and vacuuming.”

What can I say, I like a clean kitchen. So last time, you all found a treasure map…

Oh, right, I should probably tell you guys. Turns out I’m gay.

Wait. What?

Yeah, apparently I’m gay. Just thought you’d want to know.
Don’t you have a crazy girlfriend?
Yeah, she’s a lez. She thought we were doing that thing where two gays pair up to trick their parents, but she told me she found someone now, so she broke it off.
What, so she never gave you any? How did you not figure this out?
I didn’t think it mattered. That’s how I figured out I was gay too, though.
Ah, so that’s why you’re so uncomfortable when Bob and I play female characters! You were confused by your own sexual identity, and—
What? No. It’s because I hate roleplaying, you’re a creep, and Bob’s girl voice is even worse than his stupid accents.


Sorry, hon, he’s right. It’s pretty bad.
Can we please get back to the game now?
Yeah, sorry, I just forgot to mention it last week.

Right, well. As you reach the edge of town, a small boy spots you and runs up.

“Och, aye!”
Can you show me a magic trick?
“Aye, I—” Wait, looks like all I have left is a Magic Missile. Can I shoot a chicken with it?

Don’t shoot his chicken, dude. Don’t you have Prestidigitation?

No, that’s on your giant list of “unbalanced spells.”

Oh, right, I forgot the purple worm. And just so you know, the list is only that big this time because their incompatible with the combat app, plus you won’t really need them in the Temple.

Yeah, but meanwhile I got nothing but a magical punch to the face to show the kid. Um, “Shoo, ya li’l booger! Yar!”

The kid scurries off when he realizes you aren’t going to pull coins or sweets out of the air for him.

So where do you go first?

Is there anything to do in town? Any quests, or people to talk to, or is this just a place to rest and resupply?

Oh, there are a few quests in town. There’s basically no way you guys are going to tackle the Moathouse without a few more levels, after all. Right now I’d suggest you go visit the first house by the stream.

Why? Who lives there?
Based on the stacks of wood everywhere, you suspect it belongs to the local woodcutter. He sees you coming and sets down his axe. “Hmm? What is it?”
“Salutations, I am Josephus.”
The woodcutter seems perfectly happy to see a new face, and he shakes your hand firmly. “Tarim here. Glad to meet you. Woodcutting is my speciality. Anything I can help you with?
“Me and my friends are new in town, and we’re sort of eager to get out adventuring, being as that’s what we do. Would you happen to have any leads on that sort of thing?”
“Well I don’t know much about any grand adventures, but I suppose I do have a problem with some giant spiders infesting a grove of nearby deklo trees.”
Giant spiders?
It beats rats.
And what’s a “deklo” tree?
“Deklo is a regional species of tree that grows exceptionally big and strong. The wood from a deklo is some of the best you’ll ever find. Very useful for a fellow like me.”
“Ah! I can see why you’d need those spiders out of the way, then. I’ll go take care of them for you if you’d like.”
“Really? That’d be mighty nice of you. Let me mark it on your map here. I just hope Jaroo won’t mind too much.”
The local druid. Don’t worry, he doesn’t really care. Were you going there right away?
Might as well.

Gnarley forest, man.

Ha, ha, yes, of course, obvious joke. So you head north to the deklo grove…

Sure enough, you find a pair of spiders making their nests here. Both of them turn aggressive as they see you approach. Roll initiative…Hal, looks like you go first.

I still don’t have Enlarge Person back, do I? This may be a problem.
Don’t worry, the Wizard really picks up steam as you level up. Just hit the thing with your Magic Missile.


4, not too bad for first level. Lewis, you’re next.

I’ll try and get some distance between us for the inevitable Web, then I cast Bless on everyone.


I’ll do the same, except I’ll invoke Inspire Courage!

Er, you know Inspire Courage and Bless both use Morale bonuses? They don’t stack.

No, it’s my fault, Inspire Courage is better than Bless. I should probably put another buff spell in that slot.

Suzie, you’re up.

I attack the spider that Hal targeted.

A miss, too bad. Now it’s the spiders’ turn, and they open by throwing their webs. Everyone roll Reflex twice.


William, you’re up, and based on what you rolled, you can only move ten feet this round.

Does that get me out of the web?


Well, I do that, then.

That brings us back to Hal.

I guess I’ll use the crossbow.

That misses. Lewis?

Can I reach either spider from where I am?

Not quite.

In that case, I’ll charge towards the one Hal wounded as far as I can.

Paul, make the check…alright, looks like you’re free now. What do you do?

I’ll meet up with Alistor!
Who? Oh, right.

Suzie, are you going to fire again?



Now the spiders go…

Oh, how I “missed” first level combat.

William, it’s Big’s turn.

Am I finally close enough? I move to flank the spider and attack.

Finally. Now one of you assholes had better finish it off.

*One completely ineffectual round later*

…And that’s enough to take it to negatives.

So am I the only guy in this party who can do damage or what?
Well, you are a Barbarian. You get that massive Strength buff right at first level.
That’s only when he Rages. He hasn’t yet.

My turn, right? Let’s hope I can actually hit the thing this time.

Ha! The Greatsword proficiency is already paying for itself.

Eh, rolled low.

17 and the kill! Oh, I’ve got a good feeling about this character.
So do the spiders have any treasure?

Um, no, they’re spiders. You’ll get your money from the woodcutter when you go back.

I’d say that went pretty well for our first real combat.
It did, but those spiders were CR 2 each, so this was a level 4 encounter. If Bob had rolled well at all, this combat could have turned out very differently, especially since we’re all level 1. Did you really want us to keep fighting at such a low level?

Well, I did have an idea about that…

A persistent problem in third edition Dungeons and Dragons is the weakness of the early levels. With few abilities to use and few hit points (even after they implemented that “max hit points at first level” rule), level 1 play is just not much fun. That’s why most games based on the system just hand out the first couple levels for free, and it’s why most of the pencil-and-paper games I’ve been in started at between levels 3-5.

Now, you see that yellow tent? That means that you can sleep here to regain hit points and spells, but that random monsters might appear while you’re trying to rest. While grinding random monsters is mostly unnecessary for the rest of ToEE, I want to get to 2nd level as fast as possible, so what follows is a long period of monster farming. Here are some of the highlights:

There were bandits (also pictured: Josephus finally doing some real damage with a critical hit)…

…Giant lizards who kept killing the party off (CR 2 each, encounter level 5)…


…Plus a GIANT ENEMY CRAYFISH. CR 3 and three attacks per round, that thing was absolute

…Alistor ended a skeleton encounter single-handedly…


…And I got sick of Garrett missing everything with his bow, so I switched him to the rapier.

This turned out to be an amazingly good idea.


…I’m just disappointed the only real roleplaying was that short section with the woodcutter.

Don’t worry, there will be plenty to come when you return to Hommlet.

Plus now you can force them to laugh at your stupid jokes!
I’m just glad enough that we’ve left the first level behind and got some loot out of it, even if Clerics don’t see much from level 2.
It still feels weird to not have all my usual abilities. So now that I’m taking my first Ranger level, what should I pick for Favored Enemy?

Goblinoid. Definitely Goblinoid.
So there’s a lot of goblins in the Temple?
Something like that.

So what spells are you taking, Hal?

Oh, nothing special. Hey, William, do Barbarians get anything good at second?
“Uncanny Dodge.” So now I get my Dex bonus to Armor Class when flatfooted.
You can still be sneak attacked, though, I remember that.

After all that combat, it’s getting pretty late. You guys should finish your leveling next time.

So William, you told your folks yet?
Nah. Figure I’ll wait to get a crazy boyfriend first. Fewer calls that way.
You know, William, I have some manga you might be interested in reading.

Oh, god, I’m getting out of here.