Monday, August 31, 2009

Coolest Minis Company Ever

Otherworld. I'm sure many of you have heard of these guys already. They produce miniatures that are replicas of yesteryear's AD&D minis. And if you haven't seen them, go and take a peak, they are SERIOUSLY cool!

Otheworld Miniatures

They're not cheap, I'm warning you right now. But, they are so amazing that the price of entry is well worth it. Another small issue is that they're located in the UK, so shipping's not particularly low when coming across the pond. Yet again though, they're cool.

When you peruse the site, take a look at the ogre and the amazing job they've done on the giants and devils. These guys are serious craftsmen and it's obvious that they care for their product. I'll even bet they play. Heh, that's a given.

Pictured above are the Troglodytes. Cool eh?

So, I've got a Christmas list...and I'll bet you know what's on it.


Friday, August 28, 2009

A few random thoughts

I was just thinking about a few things (game related of course) this afternoon and thought that I'd just jot them down. Why? Well, why not. This is a blog after all.
  1. I like sandbox settings in table-top role playing games a LOT. So why is it that I don't especially take to that type of game in the electronic genre? I liked Oblivion and Fallout 3...but I didn't love them. In fact, I only got a little ways into Fallout 3 before I shelved it. I just wasn't into it that much. I sort of feel a bit deficient for doing it...I mean, it won all sorts of awards. But I find myself growing restless when playing, it just doesn't hold my interest so much. BUT, I really did like Mass Effect, so maybe there is hope for me yet.
  2. I'm going to try and start up my family Labyrinth Lord game sometime this weekend. We generally take a break in the summer due to the fact that the girls just love playing out doors. I've got a problem though, for some reason I didn't record the last session on the blog. I have no idea why I didn't. I was fairly religious prior to that. So, I'm going to have to go strictly off my faulty memory. Yikes!
    What I do remember:
    • They've made their way into the main chamber in the Upper Caves from FightOn's 'The Darkness Beneath'. Where they recovered the holy sword of St. Gyxag.
    • The Red Book was missing though.
    • They spoke with St. Gyxag's ghost and he told them that the book was stolen.
    • St. Gyxag pointed in the direction of the culprits.
    • Hambly, the leprechaun, and his halfling henchmen stole it for Ylfrit, the fey queen.
    • They need to find an alternate way out.
    • They haven't lost any henchmen.
    • There's a were rat and an evil priest covering the known exit.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gamescience Dice

Like many gamers, I have a love affair with polyhedral dice. It's unreasonable really...I mean c'mon, what's the deal? I have plenty of dice. I don't often throw dice away so I've got stuff laying around from some of the early days, way back in the late 70's / early 80's.

Now that I have children I've bequeathed some of these dice to them. But I still have a horde. I remember a few years back, I swore off buying more dice but then I saw Lou Zocchi's Gamescience video on Youtube and just had to purchase another set of dice.

So I went out and purchased a set of orange dice from Gamescience, and I can't express to you how much I love these things. They roll like dice are supposed to roll. They feel like dice are supposed to feel in your hands. And they're just plain cool looking.

Well this year I had a buddy of mine pick up some dice from Col. Lou at Gen Con. Some green Gamescience dice. Ah, true love yet again. These are simply beautiful dice...but I knew they would be.

There's only one thing missing from my collection, a d30. I have an old Armory d30 from way way back...but the edges are all rounded and the thing rolls across the table like a pregnant beach ball, never wanting to succumb to gravity and stop. Anyone know a place to get a razor edged d30? A Gamescience dice would be best. I know that during the Youtube presentation, Lou holds up a d30, but I've been unable to find one on the site.

Anyone out there know of a place to find one of these beauties?

Oh, and yes, that's Col. Lou holding my dice in that picture. w00t! Yeah, I'm a dice geek.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Got a cool idea

If you're one of my players...don't read this. Seriously, knowing what's coming will ruin your fun.

<-----Players Stop Reading NOW-------->

I mean it!

For the rest of you: I've got this odd love affair with frogs in Dungeons and Dragons. I've always loved the giant frogs in the moat house. And I'm entertaining an idea where there's an ancient cult that's disappeared in the local area...but their temples can still be found in odd places. The Moat House is one of those.

The main temple is going to be on the Isle of Dread, and within the crater, where the Kopru currently hold sway, this will be replaced with Dwellers of the Forbidden City with Fane of St. Toad as the capstone.

Sure Tsathoggua has been done a ton...But man, I just love the shadowy cult that's been driven far underground with ties to a degenerate race idea, and a temple in the middle of an ancient abandoned city. That just screams swords and sorcery to me. I just need a few tie-in ideas.

What I've currently got is the Moat House with a different dungeon (an amalgamation of James M's Ruined Monastery) beneath it. The BBG is currently a lizard man shaman who's trying to reclaim the old monastery and resurrect the old faith. Tentatively I'd like to use a loose time line that supports something along the lines of:
  • Dim Past and height of cult
  • Civilization sweeps in and cult is driven back
  • Civilization recedes and cult is attempting to make small inroads (Current day)
This sort of allows the same type of build up that Hommlet supported in the first place. I could conceivably send assassins after our party once they've foiled the temple's plans in the Moat House. The replacement of the Temple of Elemental Evil would be the Isle of Dread and the Dwellers of the Forbidden City.

This is the current thread of my sandbox. It's my tent pole, if you will. I'll sprinkle all sorts of other things in order to fully populate the "box" and to keep the party busy. I'm now just looking for small little "links". Things that I can spread around that hints to the "behind the scenes" issues at stake.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Storm Seeds

My eldest daughter was telling me about this dream that she had...It was the inspiration for a character that she wants to create as well. She started telling me about this dream where she's got an ability to enter a natural storm, something big, like say a tornado or hurricane. Once there she can draw the power of the storm into itself, for lack of a better description.

Once she's done that, the storm's power dissipates and what's left over is a "seed", about the size of an avocado pit. With this power, her character walks around saving villages and people from horrible storms and then uses the seeds to defeat monsters.

It occurred to me that those "seeds" would make up an amazing magic item. So, presenting:

Storm Seeds

Storm seeds are an arcane remnant from the old druidical cult of Storm Callers. These rare druids have been systematically hunted and killed till there were no more left...But the Storm Seeds are a stark reminder of their power.

Generally found in a worn, heavy leather belt pouch that has druidic symbols written on the exterior, the seeds will look like a handful (2d4 seeds) of some kind of vegetable or fruit pit. The pits will appear worn and smooth, and if held in the palm of the hand will emit a very slight vibration.

Each individual pit will have a druid's sigil somewhere upon its surface. This sigil will not be visible to the naked eye but requires one of the druidic faith to see...and decipher. This sigil is generally a one word command that is uttered in order to activate the seed.

Once activated the seed must be thrown against a hard surface within 1d4 rounds in order to release the energy. This will in turn create a small, yet very violent, mini-storm of the following type:
  1. Tornado (2d6 dmg / 1d6 rounds)
  2. Hurricane (1d8 damage / 2d4 rounds)
  3. Sandstorm (1d6 dmg +blindness / 1d6 rounds)
  4. Water spout (1d6 dmg +drowning / 1d4 rounds)
  5. Blizzard (1d6 damage +freezing / 2d4 rounds)
  6. Thunderstorm (2d6 damage +slippery terrain (hail)/ 1d4 rounds)

If the seed is not thrown w/in the allotted time, it will either go dormant (75% chance) OR explode on its own (25% chance). The area of the storm is a 30' radius.

These seeds are very rare in the extreme and are a highly valued item of certain druidic circles...even to the point of hunting them down and killing for them.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

B/X Dungeons and Dragons Observation

Hey, check this out...Apparently a "Protection from Evil" spell (1st level cleric spell) is a pretty nice spell in B/X. This has some potential to be a seriously powerful spell.

"This spell circles the cleric with a magic barrier. This barrier will move with the caster. The spell serves as some protection from "evil" attacks (attacks by monsters of some alignment other than the cleric's alignment) by adding 1 to the clerics' saving throws, and subtracting 1 from the "to hit" die roll of these opponents."

So that's pretty great eh? Nothing too surprising besides the statement talking about "alignments other than the cleric's...", which is a pretty strong ability. But, that's not the kicker, the following text is even better:

"The spell will also keep out hand-to-hand attacks from enchanted (summoned or created) monsters (such as living statues), but not missile fire attacks from these creatures (see COMBAT)."

Wow...I mean really, that's awesome. So if I'm following this correctly, they're talking about all sorts of creatures. Things like golems, elementals, demons, devils, effritis, djinns, etc. That's a pretty potent group of creatures to be held at bay with a 1st level spell.

Anyway, I really do love B/X. I'm reading through it for the first time in a LOT of years, and finding all sorts of little gems.

Consider the "Light" spell. You cast it on a creature's eyes (it DOES get a save) and it's blinded for 12 turns. AND, in Basic, if you're blinded you do NOT get an attack! Range 120 and you don't even really have to aim it. Now THAT'S what I call a utility spell.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Playing the 4E

This is going to be a short post...Mostly because I'm done "*making strange" with 4E. (*My grandma used to say that about babies that didn't seem to "like" someone. I've always thought that was such a wonderful colloquialism)

On with the post. The Longmont group held our monthly game of Dungeons and Dragons again last night. I hadn't played in the previous one but HAD been there the time before that. Odd thing is, the map looked exactly the same as it had the last time I left. In other words, it took two sessions to run an encounter.

This is not a new observation. Not too long ago I wrote a very similar posting regarding the same exact thing. Our group has the habit of sitting around and chatting more than we play. I think I know why. The "story" that the DM is weaving is, for the most part, forgotten from session to session. It's just that too much time passes between games for us, and when he attempts to bring us back up to speed, many of us tune out.

This is never done on purpose. Unfortunately we just don't have much invested in the story. If we play once a month (or less) then it's tough to keep any kind of emotional attachment to what's going on. Heck, most of us don't even remember our characters. So a lot of time is spent trying to bring everybody back up to speed with what's currently going on. It's a very involved story and we're a tough audience. (Again though, NOT intentionally.)

One thing that happened last night really opened my eyes to something that I've only just touched upon before. You know how in 4E each character has a slew of powers? Last night my buddy, who was sitting next to me, looks over and observes all of my powers, which are cut into individual "cards", and says "Dude, holy shit! How many powers do you have?!?" I counted through them...22. This didn't include my magic items that I had also cut out and laid out in the same format. Or my Second Wind. Or my Action Points.

I think that you can see where I'm going with this.

We're 13th level characters, so of course we're going to have a plethora of choices open to us. Especially the magic slingers, and I was playing a cleric. I said as much to my buddy. He's playing a sword mage, so he counts through his "cards" and comes up with the same number...and then my friend on the other side counts his up, 22. And he's playing a paladin.

It dawned on me then as I looked around the table. Since many of us had taken our powers and cut them out into cards and placed them in sleeves, it served as a very good physical representation of just how MANY powers each of us had. Therein lay another reason that our games took so darned long. Each of us basically had to relearn our characters each and every time we played.

As I've said above, I'm done banging the anti-4E drum. Many people actually like the fact that they have all of these options spelled out for them. And it's obvious that we've sort of shot ourselves in the collective foot by playing as infrequently as we do. What I've realized from all of this is that 4E is a game that NEEDS to be played much more frequently than pre-3E games. There's just a LOT of stuff to keep track of.

If someone needs to reacquaint themselves with their character, and / or take minutes looking through their options, then the game is stalling. As an example, last night, I was looking through some of the things that I can "do" and wasn't paying one whit of attention to the DM. I looked up while he was 1/2 through and sentence and realized what it is that I had been doing. I put my stuff down and tuned back in.

Maybe it's my fault that I don't have a photographic memory. Let's just chalk it up to that. Shall we?

Until next time, adieu.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Interesting find...

I found this in one of the older issues of Dragon (Vol.1, #3) It was in an article about women adventurers. Apparently women PCs were able to cast spells as both fighters and thieves. Thieves especially had a pretty sweet deal...check this out:
1st Level2nd Level3rd Level
Charm Man 1Seduction 1Charm Men 2
LightSleep +Seduction 2
Read LanguagesMirror ImageCharm Humanoid Monster 1
Tarot ReadingDetect Magic +ESP +
Knock +

This is seriously awesome... As a woman thief you have to have an Intelligence of 9 or greater and a Beauty score of 13 or greater. Now I'm not sure exactly what the beauty score was all about, but I imagine that I'll come across it soon enough. Oh, the pluses denote that those spells are not the same level as MU spell of the same name.

Imagine a thief w/ the knock spell though! Wow. Or mirror image? That's sweet. Why would anyone play a male thief?

Anyway, I thought I'd share that with all of you. Pretty neat stuff.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More Moat House

Well, it happened again. We had another session of Castles and Crusades last night, centered around the old favorite, Hommlet. And yet again, we had a change in players as well.

This time around we had Jeff, playing the ever lovable halfling thief, Frederick. My buddy, from the 4E group named Ed, playing a half-orc fighter named Roog. And to round it all out, my eldest daughter playing a human female paladin named Thyla.

First my recap, and then later, my observations and thoughts on the game itself.

Brush rustled, and out burst two muddy, torn and exhausted adventurers leading a bedraggled mule. The paladin Thyla and her "squire" Roog stopped there in the middle of the dusty road and observed the pair. One of the two muddy individuals turned and noticed the human and half-orc and gasped.

The other turned as well, and they both started babbling about being beset upon by horrendous beasts, and that their comrades were trapped within a building and in dire need of aid. Thyla, eyed the falling sun and estimated that there was no more than two hours of light left, and then asked the two what they were attacked by and how far off this building lay.

Most of the following information was garbled, but from the sounds of things the Moat House was only a short journey north through the marsh. The two "survivors" then took their leave and headed west towards the small village of Hommlet in order to recuperate and heal up from their tumultuous ordeal. With this, Thyla and Roog set foot to muddy, bramble strewn road, and the Moat House.

Thick brush and washed out trails made travelling difficult, but the two arrived in under two hours, with only about 20 minutes of light left. They surveyed the ruins from the low, dry ridge and then took a closer look at the small abandoned camp. While neither was a professional tracker, there was no obvious sign of a scuffle. What could have sent those two away then?

With more questions than answers, the two approached the draw bridge and noticed that the wood was terribly rotted. They'd need to find someway across and into the interior before nightfall... And this is when Roog notices the huge bug-eyed frog peering at him from the water of the moat.

An enormous "Croak!" precedes the leap from the water as the creature plops down in front of the stunned half-orc warrior. Their pony neighs and breaks loose, not wanting any part of this, it heads up the road at a quick trot. Thyla backs up a step as well, and draws her scimitar, but Roog beats her to the punch and levels a might swing with his heavy mace, which connects with a sickening crunch to the side of the head of the enormous amphibian. It drops dead and falls to the ground.

Two more pairs of eyes rise out of the water at this time and the paladin and fighter look at one another. More shark-toothed frogs? (Roog's running commentary was absolutely hilarious.)

The noise has drawn the attention of a halfling who has been resting up against the wall inside of the Moat House...He peers out of the arrow slit and takes notice of the fight. A tight squeeze and his exit to the outside is accomplished. With that he nimbly climbs the building and pulling his sword free he leaps with a yell into the moat attempting to pith a frog with his descent.

Splash! Frederick over estimates his leap and misses the frog just as the two beasts leap from the water. Roog, seeing the "child" who has obviously leaped to their rescue, meets the largest frog head on with another crushing blow. Thyla swings wide and drops to the dirt in an attempt to duck the sticky tongue. Her frog, seeing a now "smaller" target leaps upon the paladin and delivers a nasty bite.

The larger of the two frogs also darts in and crunches into Roog's side. This is not going as planned at all!

Now pinned on the ground, the paladin tries stabbing upwards with her scimitar in vain. Her blade's just too long for this type of close work, she misses again. But Roog, ignoring his assailant comes to her aid and smites the smaller frog another smashing shot to the noggin. It goes limp on top of the prone Thyla.

Meanwhile Frederick has climbed his way out of the moat and has crept up to the larger frog from behind. A quick strike and the monster also collapses upon the dirt and mud. Quick introductions are made, but the light is failing quickly and it's obvious that the trio now must retire to the relative safety of the interior of the Moat House.

The quick footed halfling makes his way across the drawbridge and climbs the wall in order to observe the courtyard and surrounding terrain. He spies a dark shape that climbs to the far roof, but is unable to determine exactly "what" it is as it drops off the far side. Bats flit in the darkening skies, chasing the plethora of insects as Roog attempts the bridge.

His heavy weight combined with a misstep though and "Sploosh!", he falls through to the water below. Luckily it's not all that deep right here and, with the paladin's aid he pulls himself free. But as he exits the moat he looks down and realizes that he's now covered in some pretty large leeches! This is not something that the tough half-orc warrior tolerates well and he strips down right there in the open and proceeds to attempt to rid himself of the filthy vermin.

Meanwhile Frederick keeps watch from atop the wall and every-so-often advises that the group be a little more quiet. Ten minutes later and Roog is ready to go, sans leeches. This time he very carefully and gingerly picks his successful way across the bridge. Thyla though looks at the pony, and then again at the bridge. She asks if Roog might be able to get the other gate and slide it across as well.

Muscle and sinew straining, the enormous fighter finally tears the ancient door loose from its one remaining mooring and with a bang, drops it across the moat. Frederick winces at the noise, but keeps a vigilant watch nonetheless.

Both Thyla and the pony (Jha) make it across successfully. They then make their way into the interior of the Moat House and are confronted by Elmo, who's standing guard in the hallway. Thyla mentions that Frederick sent them, and with this the red-head lowers his guard and lets them pass. The halfling joins them shortly.

Brother Fisk heals the newcomers with his remaining spells and draws a promise from each that they'd help sing Odin's praises with the morning light. They then all draw lots for guard duty and begin to bed down for the night. Stinging and biting insects, the howling call of night-birds and other creatures fills the night, but it passes without event.

Next morning the two, Thyla and Roog sing a praise to Odin as promised. Roog pulls forth his drum and accompanies the "signing" with his primal rhythms. Elmo and Frederick look worriedly down the hall...expecting visitors at any moment. But nothing stirs w/in the Moat House.

A couple hours of exploration and the party has covered the entire upper floor of the structure. Finding a room with what Frederick describes as a "rust" monster, which they leave alone, and another full of bats, they end up in the room that was once obviously occupied not much earlier by the bandits; The Black Room.

Drizzle has dispelled his "hold portal" and Frederick unlocked the lock, so Roog opens the door only to find himself facing the swining blade of an axe. He shouts and falls out of the way though, narrowly missing the crude trap. He pulls the rusting axe free and the others warily enter the dark, black room.

In the past the room was obviously a high-ranking officials room, but recently has been used as a camp sight and bolt hole for a group of bandits. But they've seemed to have had enough of the heroes, and have retreated into the swamps for now.

A careful search of the room reveals that the bandits have set up a "back door" escape route with the placement of some large stones in the moat. Brother Fisk stumbles upon an intact chest, hidden under a pile of rubble in the corner and Drizzle happens upon a hollow space behind one of the walls...A secret passage perhaps?

After uncovering the chest Frederick looks carefully for traps and finds none. He then sets to work on the lock, a "click" and a pin shoots forth to prick his hand...Ooops, guess there were traps. The weak poison is fought off and the needle broken. Soon the halfling bests the lock and the chest reveals its contents:
  1. Two bolts of cloth
  2. Several thousand copper bits
  3. Four chalices
  4. One decorative wooden box with ivory handles containing 4 arrows of masterful craftsmanship.
The secret door opened to a very narrow and steep set of stairs leading down into the depths. Dust and detritus proved that the passage hadn't been used in decades. Frederick led the way down the tight descent which ended on the back side of another secret passage. Opening up to a 3-way intersection, the left-hand hallway was rife with the croaking of frogs while the right-hand opened up into some type of chamber. The hall laying straight ahead disappeared into darkness… All ways smelled of moisture, fungus, mold and mildew, while the drip, drip, drip of water accompanied the croak of the frogs.

Choosing the right-hand hallway, the group, led by the Halfling, moved towards the circular chamber as quietly as possible. In the middle of the room stood a well of some type. Filled with water, the one foot tall wall was 10 feet in diameter. But even more interesting was that the room was completely covered in molds and fungus.

Roog led the way into the chamber and bent over the well to get a better look at the surface of the water. In so doing he put his hand in some kind of slime that quickly crawled up his arms and started quickly digesting the tough half-orc’s tissue. Screaming to get it off, the half-orc thrashed about attempting to scrape the stuff away with his hands, all to no avail. Thinking quickly, the Halfling and paladin come to Roog’s aid.

Thyla tries scraping the stuff off with a dagger and achieves some small success, while Frederick lights a torch and applies flame. This line of action works but also burns the thrashing Roog. After a considerable struggle, the green slime is finally eliminated and a gasping Roog is partially healed by Brother Fisk. Another green slime is found on the opposite side of the pool and is taken care of via the torch.

Frederick, ever the inquisitive Halfling, borrows Thyla’s pole and pokes around in the well. He clips something on the bottom and after roping up, decides to take a swim and retrieve it.
Lying on the bottom, in the gloom and flickering light, Frederick finds a silver sphere, which he brings quickly to the surface. It’s a container of sorts and, after flicking the latch, it opens to expose what appears to be some type of a small, black, stone tadpole.

And since it was getting late, this is where we stopped.

As promised above, a few thoughts on the game itself: I’m not sure how my C&C game is going to survive. The heart of the issue is that Wes runs a game every other Tuesday and I was initially intending to run my game on the opposite Tuesday. Well, I know Jeff K. can’t manage playing every week, and I seriously doubt that I’ll be able to continue doing it as well. So the question arises, what to do?

I love playing the Dungeons and Dragons. I prefer the older style of game to the newer 4E but…overall, I really like playing. I had mentioned last time that I’d stick w/ 4E as long as I could get my “fix” of old school goodness. It looks like things might be coming to a head on that front. I’ll play it by ear though and see what comes of it.

My daughter playing: She’s a very good player. She’s cautious and obviously has a lot of fun…I’d like to continue letting her play. BUT, there are a few issues. Her younger sister would like to play too, and unfortunately it’s a school night, so that might not work. It’s meant to be an adult game, and as such, some certain topics are of a more adult nature. I’m not going to make a decision right this moment, but I will have to come up with some kind of resolution soon.

I invited a new guy to play. We met last week and he seems to be a decent enough fellow. His name is Jason…I ended up inviting him to our game last night while we were chatting and he seemed excited to join. Well, he emailed me the day before and notified me that he’s not going to be able to play for two weeks. Auspicious start I’d say.

And finally, some more house rules:
  • Shields will be broken: (I think this is from Jeff Rients) A player can opt to forgo damage done to them if they sacrifice their shield. The damage will be waived and the shield will break. For a magic shield every +1 will give them a 1 in 6 chance of the shield surviving this trauma. A sort of “save” if you will.
  • Two weapon fighting: Anyone may wield a weapon in each hand as long as they have a Dex of 13 or greater. If they do so, each weapon must be a one handed weapon and when rolling damage they will roll the most damaging weapon’s dice twice, picking the highest roll. (This is similar to things I’ve seen done for LL and S&W)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Back (yet again) to the Moathouse

We had yet again another session of Castles and Crusades last night. But this one took a bit of a twist...We added a few people that haven't played the game before. Both of these guys are from the other Tuesday night 4E group; Wes and Jeff. Wes is our DM for the 4E game and Jeff is the store owner of Enchanted Grounds, a coffee / game shop at 8800 S. Colorado Blvd. in Highlands Ranch.

Now I knew that Jeff was still a pretty big fan of the older style of play, but I wasn't so sure about Wes. But I knew that he'd be a great role player nonetheless...and I wasn't wrong. So, in total, we had 3 players; Paul, Wes and Jeff.

Wes and Jeff got there a bit early and jumped right into rolling up some characters. (We stuck w/ the old 3d6 method) Jeff ended up rolling a halfling thief with a 4 wisdom named Five Fingered Freddy the Filch, or Frederick for short. Besides his 4 wisdom he had some really high stats...But as role playing games often work out, Jeff riffed off of his low wisdom wonderfully. He was awesome.

Wes rolled up a cleric named Brother Thabador Fisk. Now...there's a bit of history here. Brother Fisk is a regular NPC in Wes' Kaldrak Lyres campaign. He's a rather large, congenial, older cleric who's in charge of the daily duties at the largest church in the city. This iteration of Brother Fisk was obviously younger....but still an exuberant and colorful character. He was fantastic.

I'd like to preface this recap with the fact that we didn't get a whole lot done, but man-o-man, did I have a great time playing / DMing. These guys were just super role players.

On with the recap:

9 days have passed since the last foray into the Moathouse and Drizzle Spatchcock has finally healed to the point that he's not only stir crazy, but ready to get back to finding more, information. That same day, a couple of itinerant wanderers come in off the road, telling stories and purchasing extravagant meals. This unlikely couple, a large man dressed in the simple vestments of faith, and a spritely halfling of friendly demeanor, were the center of attention of a small crowd. All this commotion attracts the attention of Drizzle...

Drizzle might be called a dandy, or maybe even a fop, in some circles. And if outward appearances were all there were to a man then indeed this would be truth. But, thankfully there's more than that to a person. But Brother Fisk had only the large silly hat, and tastefully (if worn a bit) tailored, earth-toned clothes to go by as Drizzle came up and introduced himself. The first word out of the cleric's mouth is "Gesundheit" auspicious start.

Yet, Brother Fisk and Frederick invite Drizzle to take a seat and partake of some wine. Over the span of several hours and seven courses, the wizard has spun his tale, interjected from time to time by a parable or lesson from Brother Fisk of course. The two newcomers are intrigued by the Moathouse and agree to set forth on the morrow.

A bright and balmy morning (if 10 or 11 am can be called morning still) greets the adventurers as they prepare to set off upon the road heading east out of Hommlet. Joining them are the henchmen Wonkin "Fire Eye", Portly Tom, and the hireling, Elmo. After hearing that they will be travelling through swamps, Brother Fisk immediately decides upon changing his attire. He swaps out his light, padded armor for the chain shirt recovered from one of the bandits in the Moathouse. He also takes up the short spear and shield. Satisfied with that, he looks down and realizes that his sandals and robes will no longer do.

With that he drags the rest of the group through Hommlet to both the tailor's shop as well as the leather worker. In the span of an hour he has a workable pair of heavy wool pants (for 1gp and 3sp) that were meant for Ostler Gundigoot at the Inn, and a fine pair of low, soft walking boots. (for 2 sp...what a bargain.) Now, fully provisioned and prepared, the group sets off.

The dusty road provides little shade and the adventurers meet few, if any, travellers. Eventually the landscape slowly changes from rolling hills forested with thinly spaced trees to a low, boggy, swamp to the north of the road.

The drone of insects and the warm, humid air accompanies the party as they move off the road and onto the thin, rarely used trail heading north, straight into the swamps. Close brambles, grabbing willows and a washed out trail made the 2 hour journey nearly unbearable, but eventually the Moathouse was spotted.

Nothing moved in the still, close air as they spent many minutes surveying the wrecked edifice from the cover of a small ridge. But armed with the knowledge that guards had been posted last time, Frederick was sent forward to determine if indeed, a hidden observer had been stationed.

Moving like a small shadow, the small halfling flitted forward through the tangled growth to obtain a better angle of observation as well as to be able to "hear" if anything was amiss. Gaining a good vantage point, Frederick did indeed hear what he thought to be two voices, just inside the gates. Quickly, yet still quietly he moved back to the main group to inform them of his findings.

A plan was quickly hatched, Frederick and Drizzle crept forward again, to the same spot, while Brother Fisk and Elmo set off down the road towards the rotted drawbridge and gates. Speaking in normal tones, which for a standard person might be considered a quiet shout, Brother Fisk was telling Elmo of the time that he... Just then, a grizzled head popped around the broken corner of the gate to see who might be approaching without a care in the world.

This was the opening that Drizzle was looking for as he quickly cast his sleep spell. The sound of a body hitting the ground behind the gate caused the observing bandit no end of consternation as he ducked back into cover to find the problem. (*BTW, I don't know what in the world came over me, but generally sleep does not allow a save. Maybe the spell's edge just caught one bandit, and not the other. I'll make sure I adjudicate it correctly next time. My apologies.)

With this, Frederick and Drizzle sprang up and rushed the gate. The nimble halfling skipped quickly across the rotted drawbridge while the foppish Drizzle brought up the rear. Finding the bandit completely engrossed in his sleeping comrade, Frederick crept forward silently and made a few small repairs to the wakeful bandit's anatomy. Namely, two holes where his kidneys used to reside. Uttering not a word, the bandit slumped across his sleeping comrade.

Quickly Frederick arranged the bodies to appear as if they were both sleeping...but the huge pool of blood upon the broken cobbles was tough to disguise. Drizzle realized immediately what had happened and opted to dump them both into the moat. Frederick agreed, and since he had seen some type of large disturbance in the water as he crossed the bridge earlier, was most assured that neither bandit would wake again.

Meanwhile Brother Fisk and Elmo stood patiently across the moat and observed the bodies being quietly slid into the dark water. With raised eyebrow, the cleric pontificated upon the wisdom of disposing of enemies before proceeding onwards. Apparently he approved of the actions. After a creakingly slow shuffle across the old gate that they pulled from the moat, Fisk and Elmo take positions just inside the doors to the Moathouse courtyard.

Again, after close observation, nothing seems to move besides the tall grass that grows up through the heaved pavers that cover the courtyard. Frederick then uses the tall foliage to maneuver his way close to the main entrance. He peers into the dark and sees nothing untoward. The rest of the party take his cue and move forward.

As the party makes their cautious way across the courtyard, Frederick hears the sound of stone on stone come from his if something large is moving about somewhere. When the group arrives he informs them of this and proceeds to climb to the burnt roof, utilizing Drizzle's offer of rope, but finds nothing.

While only darkness seems to occupy the large chamber beyond the double doors, the party takes it cautiously. After all, the tales told thus far are enough to instill prudence in even the most bold. A magic light is lit at the tip of Drizzle's staff and Frederick proceeds into the main chamber to find it in a state of disarray and abandonment. The thief moves through the shadows as if he's one himself...

Frederick checks down the right-hand hallway and finds three doors, two on the right, one of the left, while the end opens up into another large chamber. He motions to his comrades and starts sneaking down the hall.

Drizzle takes his lit staff and checks the floor, finding that the most worn path through the detritus leads from the two broken main doors straight through to a closed door at the back of the chamber. Noting this, he casts a hold portal upon the far door then proceeds after the rest of the group down the right-hand hallway.

Once there the halfling checks the first door for traps. Finding nothing, he pushes the door open just as the cleric spots something moving through a shaft of light in the far room. He spies undulating patterns on what appears to be a massive snake and whispers to Elmo to be on the lookout. The red-headed simpleton steps back a pace and mumbles that he doesn't like snakes.

Frederick has meanwhile opened the first door on the right and finds a small chamber festooned with fire ravaged furniture and a book shelf or two. Finding a loose panel, he moves it to the side to discover a well maintained broadsword. Its blade gleams brightly, an obvious sign of craftsmanship, while the hilt and grip appear rotted with water and time.

The next room divulges no secrets what-so-ever.

It is after this that Drizzle moves his staff, using mage hand, into the far room at the terminus of the hall. With the sudden light, an enormous snake, nearly 15' long, strikes at the closest warm body, which just so happens to be Elmo. Its fangs skid harmlessly across his armor though. The battle is on.

Elmo strikes back with his huge axe while Frederick uses this distraction to dart to the rear (if there can be a "rear") of the serpent. Both blows, Elmo's and Frederick's, fall wide as the wily snake moves quickly from side to side.

Brother Fisk sees that the combatants need help and he rushes to the fore, yelling the whole while, trying to provide a distraction. This works, as the beast swivels its attention to the rotund cleric. This time Elmo strikes true and opens an enormous gash along the creature's flank.

The snake though is riveted upon Fisk and attacks him with a vengeance. But the cleric's shield proves up to the task as he deflects the blow. He then stabs forward with his short spear and scores a hit causing the creature to quickly fall back, hissing and bleeding profusely.

Drizzle then hits the creature with a magic missile. This proves too much for the snake and it slithers as fast as it possibly can towards the far hole in the wall...seeking escape.

A thorough search provides a gorgeous gem encrusted dagger that adorned a long dead humanoid creature found in the beast's nest.

Drizzle, standing guard at the far end of the hallway while the others search, hears banging upon the door that he recently ensorcled. Soon afterwards the receding sound of men's voices and splashing from outside alert Drizzle that the room's occupants have now retreated.

And here's where we ended it. We didn't get a whole lot done, but the play by the PCs was superb. I missed a few cues here and there...I'm not sure if I was nervous or what, but there are a few things that I might do a bit differently. Hopefully they'll be a next time.

House rules used:
  • Rule of 30 (by Jeff Reints): A player may opt to roll the D30 once per session to replace any previously rolled score. (Not for HPs or attributes obviously)
  • Spells: Point system taken from Microlite20 and Ode to Black Dougal's Dark Sun game. Slight change though, instead of pulling directly from HPs, there's now a pool that is equal to HPs and if taken to 0 the spell caster collapses in exhaustion. If taken below 0, the sum is directly subtracted from current HPs and can not be healed by magic, only time can heal these wounds.
  • Search: 1 on a roll of a d6 for most. 1 or 2 on a d6 for thieves, elves searching for secret doors, and dwarves searching stone features.
I told the guys that as long as I can get my "old-school" fix, I'd be joining them at the table for 4E.

Signing off for now. Until next time, adieu.