After arriving in town, the party chatted up the locals for any leads.
They'd been drawn here by the rumors of a dangerous infestation near "Bandits Run" and were eager to go look for themselves.
Their scout Will had reasoned that roughing up a few outlaws shouldn't be a big challenge, but talking to the farmers, it seemed that any bandits had left years ago.
Lately, cattle had gone missing and weird things were creeping around the village at night.
Elliran and Grord looked at each other. This wouldn't be as easy of a mission as they'd expected.
Grord quietly calculated that they might be able to sneak in, acquire any loot and then get out unseen, while Elliran insisted that they had a duty to their villagers to defend them.
"Sure, definitely... if it works out that way"
They set out the next morning, shuffling their erstwhile companions along and trying to reassure their suspicions with promises of great rewards and "no doubt very tiny monsters, barely anything to worry about really".
(A bit about mechanics, in Dungeon Scum, rather than map step by step you basically just play out the key moments of the expedition.
For this first foray into the caves, we'll have 3 key moments)
Encounter 1 - Help
As the heroes (sort of) approach the caves, cautiously advancing through the woodlands and undergrowth, they meet a rather battle-worn soldier sitting in a clearing.
He accompanied another adventuring party but they fled and he decided to hang around to find gainful employment, rather than hike all the way back on their own.
Introducing himself as Kurt, he joins up with the group.
(Kurt is a plain Minion, with a sword and leather armor. We add him to our roster)
Entering the caves proper, bolstered by their new-found companion, the heroes find traces of a fight, blood stains decorate the walls (but blood stains from what?), scraps of broken weaponry and a few copper coins dropped by someone.
Roger the thief pockets the coins, wiping the blood on Biff's coat when nobody is looking.
Encounter 2 - Monster
Grord looks back over his shoulder as he turns a corner.
"I think it's a bust, nobody's home".
Then a piercing roar echoes down the corridor as a furious pack of Gnolls charges at them!
Since it's the first fight of the party, I decide to give the heroes the initiative.
Being a confused tunnel fight, I won't be using mini's for this one. I figure the tunnel is wide enough for 3, with Grord, Kurt and Biff up front.
Moving first, Grord swings his sword at the lead gnoll but in his surprise he fails to make contact and a telling blow from the creatures mace knocks him over the head, stunning him.
Kurt, the experienced dog that he is, smashes the enemy facing him with the hilt of his sword.
Biff yelps in terror as a hyena man menaces him, flailing ineffectually.
Behind the front lines, Elliran moves to find an opening to shoot through (I realize she was supposed to have a bow but I didn't give her one, so I'll figure Kurt had a spare and handed it over to the elf)
The arrow flies true and goes through the throat of the critter facing the party leader.
Will attempts to get a clear shot but misses.
Roger and Bob mill about, unable to do much of anything in the tight space.
As the turn comes to a close, a gnoll from the back rank charges forward, trying to lay into the frantic Biff, the farmer reeling from the blows.
The gnolls easily pass their morale check.
The heroes open up with a furious volley of attacks, but between Elliran, Grord and Kurt, all they have to show is a single stunned opponent. Hardly impressive.
The return blows from the enemy proves rather lackluster as well, leaving Grord and Biff stunned.
Eager to break the stale mate (they're bad for profit), Grord lunges at the stunned Gnoll in front of him and lays it low with a telling blow from his sword.
Kurt, not to be outdone by the team leader, kicks another enemy in the shins and as the beast jumps around on one foot, Elliran impales its throat with an arrow, sending it gurgling to the ground.
Biff shakes off the cobwebs and Will manages to down another beast with an arrow from the rear-rank.
With losses mounting, the gnolls decide to leg it, leaving the bruised adventurers in charge of the situation.
Digging through the corpses, we find a small purse of gold coins and a mundane but usable Spear.
Kurt seems to particularly talented for a minion, so he'll lug the spear around and the gold goes in the communal fund.