As I mentioned in another thread, I'm running Sailors for my kids. We got through the first encounter in our initial session, with the vine horrors killing off 3 out of 12 characters. Today, they made it into the keep and managed to only kill off one more. Last session, the party consisted of four characters each in the hands of my youngest son and my two daughters. This session, only my two boys were playing, so I split the remaining live characters between them.
Having lost half his initial characters last time, my youngest son (11) was cautious this time around. But he picked the worst point in the adventure to start hanging back, as they had just reached the portcullis, which put his characters in the last row. Fortunately, I roll badly on the portcullis' attack, and miss the entire rear guard.
Not being seasoned role-players, the boys reach the fork in the path through the courtyard and promptly split the party. Half of them go to the well and the other half to the tower. At the well, my older son promptly has two characters stare down into the miasmatic vortex within the well, but rolls 19 twice in a row for his will saves and is fine. Despite seeing the lead characters almost swoon, his younger brother marches two characters up and stares in too, failing one save but making the reflex save with his other character to grab the falling peasant. Not to be outdone in ill-considered actions, my older son then has one of his characters look in a second time. He fails his roll, fails his adjacent character's reflex grab, and drops to his doom. (His younger brother doesn't even bother trying the reflex save with an adjacent character -- he just lets the poor guy fall.) A failed save on the last-ditch attempt to grab the chain, and we have our first character loss of the night.
Meanwhile, the other characters reach the tower door and become obsessed with the gargoyle leering from above it. One decides it must be a monster, biding its time to attack them unawares, so he spends several actions leaping up to whack on it with his hammer. No one is strong enough to get a 20 on the Strength check, so they start bashing the door in. The characters from the well catch up at this point. Seeing hard physical labor underway, though, they turn to the temple, re-splitting the party mere moments after it had been reunited.
So while several characters are battering at the door, and the guy with the hammer is standing guard, glaring suspiciously at the abused gargoyle, a handful of characters take on the charred temple. The bar across the door and the scrawled "REPENT!" sign give my younger son pause. "I'm not going in there," he says. "It's obviously really dangerous or they wouldn't have put a bar on the door from outside." But his older brother has no problem risking his characters' necks. (After all, they're just characters his sisters rolled up the previous week.) He takes off the bar and marches the village rope-maker right up to the pool. The tar ooze attacks!
Seeing their compatriot assaulted, the other three characters charge in and join the fray. Once they're all engaged, though, the older of the two boys decides the rope-maker has had enough, and moves him back out of combat -- or tries to. The ooze gets a free strike, bringing the rope-maker down. The combat becomes hysterical, with fumbles right and left, and one of my younger son's characters being caught on fire by the ooze. Despite being only 11, when I ask him what he does about being on fire, he immediately says, "Stop, drop and roll!" so I let him avoid the followup damage, which would certainly have killed him.
Eventually, they kill the ooze, and because they're kids, I let them roll to recover the rope-maker's body. He makes his luck check, so the evening ends with just the one character lost down the well.
I've been pretty generous with x.p.: 4 for the brutal fight with the vine horrors, 1 for the portcullis, 2 for the well, and 3 for the temple. Only one character actually participated in all four encounters, but that one levels, to become a cleric! Unfortunately, he has a 7 stamina, and my son rolls a 2 on the die, bringing him to a grand first-level total of 4 h.p.
We'll see next time whether they decide to search the burnt-out temple. If they do, I'll have to decide whether that takes them beyond the 5 minute duration for the other group to bash down the tower door. I'm not keen on keeping the party split for that encounter with the beastmen in the tower, but perhaps it's a lesson they, like all role-players, need to learn.