As I have stated before, Dark Heresy is on hiatus, and as bad as I hate doing that, the least I feel I can do is to fill the time with games I can run "out of the box," so to speak. Zero-prep stuff.
The first dose is a sandbox offering with a front-loaded Keep on the Borderlands hook.
I had the guys (David B., Carl, Steve, Mike, and Kevin) make 1st level 3.5 characters and sent them off to their deaths. The hook was set, the characters bit, and off they went to the Caves of Chaos.
The party was heavily-loaded with fighty-types, and I was ok with that. There really were no restrictions on what could be played (I had allowed the PHB1 & 2, DMG, and Complete Arcane, Warrior, Divine, and Adventurer,) but we ended up with a Cleric, a Fighter, a Barbarian, a Ranger, and a Duskblade...Steve being the only person to choose something from outside the PHB.
On the first leg of the trip to the caves, Carl's Cleric got a chestful of green slime as he slept, though he lived, and then the party nearly all died to wolves, who really just wanted to eat David's donkey.
They came upon a cave that led back about 100 feet to a carving that looked like a door, save had no seam and it looked impossible to open. The group took stock of the scene depicted on the "door"...a woodland scene with rabbits and deer and such, and then marked it on their map for future reference, then moved on.
After a few misadventures with random encounters, they finally came to the caves, entering on the closest Southern opening. There, they encountered some goblins, and then some hobgoblins, and then decided to rest INSIDE the caves. Granted, they did take precautions to billet themselves, but ultimately it just wasn't enough and the gobbo-friendly Ogre that lives close-by showed up to help his pals oust the squatters.
This is where I messed up. I pulled my punches. I know, I know. Me! Of all people! I'm the most "let the dice fall where they may" of the DMs I know, and I went pansy ass and retconned a death (though there wasn't anything I could do for Mike) and had the surviving party members held captive by the hobgoblins.
David, by virtue of his insanely high armor class, waltzed out of the caves during the tail end of the ogre fight and left his adventuring buds to fate, not resting til he reached the walls of Bugbear Falls (the name of the Keep in my run.) While he was rushing back to town, Steve had devised an escape route and was able to free himself and the others (including a berserk gnoll that nobody can understand) and high-tailed it to the Keep.
In town, David was able to recruit a few lackeys and Carl's new character (a Scout and the son of the town sage) after a meeting with the local sage and talks about the strange not-door. The fighter then decided to get a night's rest before heading out just to see one of his original companions show up the next day (Steve's character) with some of the others in tow.
I think this is pretty much where we left it, though David and I did some goofing off that wasn't 'official' in the game. I was kinda hoping all of the DH group would join in this, but I guess Kristy doesn't wanna play if it isn't DH. I dunno.
Probably more of this to come, and maybe a Scion one-shot, but I've almost got DH to a point where I'm happy with it and we can pick it back up.