Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Castles and Crusades (Session 8, Dec 8, 09)

Players - PCs
Ed - Roog (1/2 ogre fighter)
Ray - Lassirial (Elf assassin)
Wes - Brother Thabitor Fisk (Human Cleric)
Jeff - Fast Fingers Freddy the Filcher (1/2-ling thief)

Thiala - (Human Female Paladin)
Elmo - (Human Ranger)
Spugnoire - (Human Merchant / Wizard)
Drizzle Spatchcock - (Human Wizard)

We had another game of Castles and Crusade the other night. I'm going to try something a bit different this time, instead of a play-by-play format I'll give a shot at writing out a bullet list of events. Experience and treasure will come at the end.
  • PCs wake up after a late night "welcome home" dinner at the Inn of the Welcome Wench.
  • Dwarves have stopped in for breakfast on their way north. Fisk asks about news from the road and hears about reavers on the southern coast. The dwarves also supply a map to the Broken Stones.
  • Lassirial visits Burne to find out what the bone bowl does. On the way he sees a group of people gathered in the workers camp...around one specific tent. Looks like they're investigating last night's murder. The bowl acts like a crystal ball when filled with human blood. Burne offers to destroy it.
  • Freddy digs up his treasure (4 potions) and buries a bit more.
  • Roog visits Manni, the smith and asks to have his armor "fitted". It'll take a few days.
  • The party stocks up, and hits the road at mid-day, with 2 mules, Elmo, Spugnoire, and Drizzle.
  • Elmo leads till dark. He loses his way and they camp.
  • Morning breaks with a leaden sky. It starts to lightly rain as breakfast is served and picks up in intensity as they break camp.
  • Elmo finds his way back to the trail. (It's very hard to see.)
  • They make their way to the Broken Stones. It's a long ways out.
  • Situated on a low rise, there are all sorts of tumbled stones, but it hardly resembles any kind of a city at all. It's very large though, covers many square acres.
  • Search for a few hours and find an abandoned fire, along w/ a choked passage down.
  • Clearing it, they all descend into a system of natural caverns.
  • Exploring the rooms they run across 8 legged opossums, a bubbling spring of black water that stinks and tastes foul, yet leaves a pleasant tingle in the mouth and throat when drops are consumed.
  • Lassirial examines an elven skeleton and finds a ruby clutched in its hand.
  • A slime-covered frog is battled on the shores of a lake that flows "UP" a water...uh...waterfall?
  • Freddy is used as an under water spelunker. Tied to 3 ropes he swims out and is caught in the current and swept up the falls into a worked tunnel. At the end of the rope he's pulled back. He spies a chest lying on the bottom of the lake and can't reach it.
  • Roog carries a rock out, swaps it for the chest and returns to the shore.
  • It's full of silver and an Elven necklace w/ a ruby. There's another setting for a second ruby but it's missing. Lassirial places the second ruby in the setting and Spugnoire detects that it's slightly magic.
  • Halflings, ragged and unkempt slink out of the tunnel and threaten Lassirial for the necklace. He runs, they and 3 more of their fellows follow.
  • Battle is joined. Two halflings fall immediately but three bring Lassirial to the ground and take the necklace.
  • Fisk heals Lassirial. Lassirial back stabs halflilng with necklace, kills him and takes back necklace.
  • A voice calls out "Get 'em boys!" and 20 more halflings pour out of a northern cave entrance.
  • The unseen voice and Fisk bargain for surrender. Unseen voice belongs to leprechaun.
  • Deal is made: Halflings will back off, and for necklace leprechaun will return children and any other survivors. He knows where they are, they're NOT in his possession.
  • The 20 halflings disappear (illusion) and the others retreat with necklace. (Lassirial pulls the 2nd ruby out previous to handing it over. Leprechaun does not see this.)
  • Freddy stealthily follows leprechaun and finds out that they were not going to return children "right away": No time limit was set.
  • Freddy fights leprechaun and puts him into chest that he viewed him digging up and placing necklace into. Retrieves necklace and small "toy" chest.
  • Freddy returns to party wearing leprechaun's hat, with necklace in hand.
  • Party goes back digs up chest. Fisk again bargains for return of children, now with leprechauns life / freedom in balance.
  • Leprechaun leaves to return children as soon as possible. Has necklace to trade with "Prince" for the children. The "Prince" is the son of Ylfritt, some type of Queen who wants the necklace for some unknown reason.
  1. 2000 pieces of "Elven" silver (Strange, ancient, octagonal coins.)
  2. Gold and Ruby Necklace (Now with Leprechaun)
  3. Extra ruby
Experience: 336 / ea.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Castles and Crusades (Session 7, Nov 24 '09)

Players - PCs
Ed - Roog (1/2 ogre fighter)
Ray - Lassirial (Elf assassin)
Wes - Brother Thabitor Fisk (Human Cleric)
Jeff - Fast Fingers Freddy the Filcher (1/2-ling thief)

Thiala - (Human Female Paladin)
Elmo - (Human Ranger)
Spugnoire - (Human Merchant / Wizard)
Drizzle Spatchcock - (Human Wizard)

We played another of our bi-weekly Castles and Crusades games this past Tuesday. Starting a bit earlier than normal, we had a wonderful session and got quite a bit of the dungeon under the Moat House explored.

Brother Fisk wakes up to take his watch and heals Roog's bleeding wound before the elated 1/2 ogre falls off to sleep. The next morning dawns sunny and windy as the party tries out some of Roog's "cinnamon toast" invention of the cooking warrior. (I'm going to start assuming that when the rest of the characters are gearing up for an extended stay in the dungeons, Roog is off purchasing food items that are NOT your standard adventure fare.)

Down into the dripping, mold and moss strewn halls the party descends. They head immediately for the sections of the dungeon that have yet to be explored. The first room that they run into is an old library of sorts, books lie strewn across the floor in puddles of moldy water. Most of them ruined beyond repair. But this doesn't stop Spugnoire, books are what he's been searching for, and he dives right in.

Most of the titles are of little interest, but after a few hours of searching the ceiling-high shelves, three likely books are located:
  1. 'Bubbles from the Bottom Most' - A prayer book.
  2. 'Divine Hunger' - Deals with how to gorge oneself and why it's important.
  3. 'Follow the Flies' - Some type of book about expansion plans.

All of the books mention a god named Tsathoguaa...which tickles the memory of the cleric, Fisk, but he can not remember anything substantial. A man named Roark also features prominently as well. The book 'Follow the Flies' has maps of the local area, bills of lading, plans of expansion and a map showing the location of the "Main Temple" on some island far to the south.

Adventuring further, with Freddy and Lassirial leading the way as silently as possible, the party wanders into an area that is mostly flooded. The black surface of the water ripples slightly, indicating some type of movement within. The room itself seems to have been a storage room for writing implements, including parchment, ink pots, leather bindings, quills and such.

Water is not something that the party is prepared to cross so they back off and head around the other way. (Two things here: One, the party is really using the map well. Jeff is the party mapper and takes a lot of pride in detail. I love this. Two, it's interesting to me to see how water can deter parties of nearly any level.)

Exploring more of the dungeon, they find a passage that leads around to the opposite side of the flooded room. This section though appears to have been a scriptorium of sorts. Tall wooden desks stand throughout the room, or what remains of them, while paper and books lie throughout. The majority of the room is flooded as well, but it's not till Spugnoire and Roog adventure a bit further to nab a book lying on the side of the water, that they find the water's fairly deep.

As they reach for the sodden tome, a crested, lizard-like head slowly surfaces from the middle of the "pond", hands raised showing no weapons. Roog raises his hands as well, one containing a large mace. The creature grunts out that it doesn't want to fight and is interested in trading.

A difficult conversation follows, resulting in a trade of the silvered sphere for a key that allows access to a secret room located in a yet to be explored section on the map. Freddy considers this a fair trade and contrary to Fisk's warnings, he trades for the key, visions of riches dancing in his head. Nodding, the lizard-like creatures (one other was detected further back in the shadowed hallway.) slowly slip into the water and disappear.

Immediately the party postulates on how these creatures got in here...And Fisk suggests that there's quite likely a natural spring that emerges here in the riven rock and they've swam back and forth this way.

Exploring towards the undiscovered portion of the map, in search of the hidden door and "great riches", the party soon moves into a roughly 'U' shaped room. The northern wall is partially collapsed but, following the lizard creature's directions, they find a well hidden door with only about a half hour worth of searching. Using the key, they enter a dry, well sealed room to find a large desk behind which sits an ancient skeleton pinned to the chair with a silvered crossbow bolt.

A careful search of the room reveals a strange scepter with a frog-like eye sitting atop it. When picked up though, it feels as if the handle is moist, and when Lassirial looks at it, it appears that the handle is actually now a tongue. He drops it immediately. A small bag of agates are discovered in a locked drawer and a scrimshaw thigh bone is found beneath the skeleton's robes.

No one in the party is able to read the scrimshaw writing, but Lassirial comes up with a theory that if one looks "through" they amphibian eye-rod it could be deciphered. This is partially correct, and as he picks up the disgusting scepter, the writing appears to be in common now. Reading it reveals this:

"Brother Roark, The foulsome enemy has found us, and we are now under siege. I have emptied the treasury and am sending it by boat as per your instructions. We will follow in all haste. Once in Tel Qa, we'll ask for Captain Ganlon at the Wharf Rat as we have in the past, and show him our coin. He is a trusted agent, we should be with you soon. Be wary, be vigilant, and my you hunger always."

The eye scepter also reveals a thin seam around the top, which when unscrewed, divulges a tightly rolled vellum scroll within. Drizzle looks at the scroll and doesn't recognize the three spells:
  1. Excruciating Cauterization
  2. Furngoth's Force of Forbidment
  3. Word of IOUN

After exhausting all options in the secret room, the group cautiously explores more of the dungeon. Freddy and Yassirial soon come around a corner and spot two back-lit figures standing stock still. Slowly pulling back they inform the rest of the party.

Fisk decides that these must be undead and comes around the corner bearing his holy symbol, "In the name of Odin, I bid thee BEGONE!". No luck. The zombies charge and combat is on. Roog and Elmo take the fore and meet the creatures half way. Blows are traded and much damage is dealt out on both sides. In fact, Roog takes a mighty blow from one of the foul creatures and falls to the floor, unconscious.

Fisk steps into the gap with his spear and slays the undead monstrosity while Elmo's is soon taken down by Drizzle's magic missile. Roog is brought to consciousness just as the room from whence the zombies came turns pitch black. Roog has never seen such a thing and sticks his head into the black "wall"..."Bad dark darkness" he mutters.

Freddy hears a rhythmic muttering from within the room, decides that he can navigate relying only upon his dexterity and hearing, and proceeds towards the voice. A shuffling groan is emitted just as he clears the spell's borders and he finds a tall bean pole thin human kneeling next to a mystic circle on the ground, facing away from him towards a zombie who has just risen from the mess of bodies strewn around the room.

The halfling sneaks up behind the necromancer and without further ado, buries his dagger in his brain, to the hilt. (rolled a natural 20) The evil spell caster does not utter a word and falls to the floor lifeless. Roog comes in and quickly takes care of the recently raised zombie quite quickly.

A sickening sight meets the party as the darkness dissolves. Cadavers, stacked like cord wood, lay along the eastern wall, while evil devices, drawings and experiments lie scattered across the room. The only other exit is an obviously new door in the northern wall.

After looking carefully through the room, the party discovers a brain pan bowl of obvious necromantic worth along with a pile of discarded loot gathered over years of raiding. Bolts of expensive cloth, objects of art and a couple of chipped urns containing coins lie nearly forgotten...a further testament to the necromancer's true interests.

Fisk pushes the northern door open to find himself facing 5 grey goblins. They leap up from a table and attack the priest with gusto. Landing three lucky shots, they bring him to the ground...unconscious and bleeding badly. Charging in, the rest of the party brings three of the goblins down quickly, while the other two break and run. One gets Lassirial's dagger in the back for his troubles and Spugnoire quickly casts a sleep spell...ending their departure.

Meanwhile, Freddy tries the Necromancer's potion on Fisk, in the hopes that it heals his friend. Fisk disappears, it was invisibility. ARGH! What a waste, thinks Freddy. Oh well. He then applies the potion that he knows is a heal draught and brings Fisk back to consciousness. But the priest has fun with his newly acquired invisibility.

There are 6 donkeys tied up to the wall of the goblin's roughly circular room, these, along with a couple of kegs (one small beer and another fine pipe weed.), some rotting food, sleeping pallets, and a rough table and chairs, completes the rooms contents. A long, rough hewn tunnel leads to the east.

The party loads up their newly acquired loot and heads off down the tunnel, assuming that it leads outside. It does, and they emerge into the late afternoon sun, not more than 100 yards away from the Moat House. From there, they head back to Hommlet and the Inn of the Welcome Wench.

Once back in town, they eat a wonderful meal, regaling the rest of the Inn's patrons with the story and then get a comforting night's sleep in their rooms.

That evening, while the rest of the party is telling tales, Lassirial takes care of business. He makes his way to the worker's camp, finds his "mark" and waits. Once the man goes to sleep, the assassin sneaks into the tent and quietly slits the man's throat. He rifles through his stuff, finds proof (a family crest on a medallion) and quietly sneaks back into the night to return to the Inn.

The next day they visit Burne and speak to him about their adventures. He is convinced that the raids over the last few years have been a combination of both the brigands as well as the necromancer. He's surprised to hear that the evil spell caster had been there as long as he had.

He pays the party for their services and speaks to them about the two lost children. This will be the group's next mission. Freddy figures that this might clear his name...

Lassirial pays Burne 100 gold pieces to cast an identify upon a dagger that he discovered in a drawer's hidden compartment in the secret chamber. It turns out the black blade, upon dealing a killing blow, transfers to the user a bonus to his next strike. (See below for more details.)

This is where we ended it. The party has decided to travel to the Jagged Stones in order to track down the children. The parents of the children have left the day before, with two militiamen in tow. But no word has been heard since.

  • 5 bolts of cloth, stained and in poor condition, but worth 60 gold nonetheless.
  • A jacinth anklet portraying a woman hunting a stag. (10 gold)
  • A garnet pin. (60 gold)
  • A porcelain statue of two dogs playing with a little boy. Chipped but worth 30 gold.
  • Two tapestries in fairly good condition. (100 gold)
  • Two urns (chipped and worn but valued at 10 gold ea.) full of coins: 223 gold, 97 silver, 576 copper.
  • A brain pan circled with brass and strange runes. (MAGIC: powers unknown)
  • A black obsidian knife. (MAGIC: Normally +1 to hit and damage, but upon a killing stroke, a bonus of 1d6 is added to the next to hit.)
  • A small bag of rare black agates (12 of them at 60 gold ea.)
  • Scroll of three spells (see above) (MAGIC)
  • Eye scepter (MAGIC)
  • Necromancer's black iron chainmail (+1 in essence, but also inimical to fey)
  • Bone scroll tube with scrimshaw writing
  • Potion of invisibility (Used on Fisk)
  • Three books (see above)
  • Stack of papers from the secret room detailing day to day operations of the hidden cult
  • 643 exp ea.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wouldn't THAT be cool!

I've been playing Dragon Age Origins on my Xbox 360. I like the game. I don't LOVE the game, but I think it's certainly entertaining and has some replay value, which is something I look for in a console game. (I hate buying a game, playing it once and returning it to some store for credit on my next purchase. Bleh!)

But I was cogitating on what might make a really COOL game. And here's what I came up with from a high level:
  • Has the cool character / surface capabilities that Assassin's Creed offers. i.e. You can climb nearly any surface. (Prince of Persia has some cool features in there too...not quite as deep as Assassin's Creed though.)
  • Has the neat open-ended character / item interaction that Oblivion offers. i.e. You can go into any house and get up on any table, walk across it and watch dishes break...
  • Has the neat scenery-as-NPC features that Tomb Raider offers. i.e. The cool obstacles and scenery in Tomb Raider is as large (or larger) a part of the game as the baddies.
  • Has the excellent character / NPC interaction that Dragon Age Origins and Mass Effect offers. i.e. There are some really cool choices that your PC needs to make that affect the game immensely.
  • Plays like Diablo, in the respect that you can guide a party from a 3rd person vantage point.
Now, put all of these together and imagine a game where you have a party of characters that adventure through cool, other-worldly vistas and interact with neat obstacles like huge, tumbled cyclopean blocks, or cenotes in an ancient jungle. The mechanics are there, someone just needs to put them all together and come up with a game that incorporates both adventure at the grand level as well as exploration on a personal level.

Imagine coming to a cliff wall while on a deep delve some lost caverns somewhere, you have the ability to climb walls, but you've forgotten a rope in your inventory. Uh oh. Now what? Either the game provides for alternative methods of overcoming the obstacle, that aren't so obvious as an ascent with a rope, or you go back and purchase one at the nearest retail outlet. ;-)

There are so many neat possibilities here. I'm sure that someone has thought about it somewhere. But the things that make older edition D&D so cool, the exploration, the strategic thinking required, the gritty swords and sorcery feel...All those things could be incorporated with today's technology and I feel that the resultant game would be spectacular.

Don't get me wrong, I far prefer a face to face, table-top RPG to an electronic stand-in any day of the week. But during those all too common times when you thirst for adventure and you can't whip a group together out of thin air at 10 pm, then the e-game will have to suffice.

Ciao for now.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Castles and Crusades (Session 6, Nov 10 09)

Players - PCs
Ed - Roog (1/2 ogre fighter)
Ray - Lassirial (Elf assassin)
Wes - Brother Thabitor Fisk (Human Cleric)
Jeff - Fast Fingers Freddy the Filcher (1/2-ling thief)

Thiala - (Human Female Paladin)
Elmo - (Human Ranger)

We had another session of Castles and Crusades last night... Here's what happened.

While the party was going on downstairs, Freddy decides that he'd take the opportunity to make a little "coin" on the side. After a bit of perusing the crowd downstairs, he figures that the best mark would be Spugnoire, the merchant. A bit of chit chat with one of the barmaids and he figures out which room Spugnoire resides in.

But there's a problem, the upstairs common room has people inside and Freddy's afraid that they'll catch him in the act. So what to do? He figures out a plan, goes back downstairs to pay the barmaid enough for 9 small beers, head back upstairs and tells those in the room that someone downstairs has bought a free round of drinks. The common room clears in a heartbeat. One problem solved.

Next he heads to the merchant's room and hastily unlocks it. In he slides...the room is dark and well kept. A cloak hangs on a peg behind the door and inside he finds 8 silver pieces. Under the bed is a backpack and 5 potions. And at the foot of the bed sits a small, dark wooden chest. He looks for any traps and not seeing any he unlocks it.

PSHHHH! Tinkle, tinkle... A glass vial breaks and acid is sprayed everywhere. Only Freddy's fast reflexes saves him from a full-on blast. Still, it sears his skin and burns holes in his shirt. Ah, but inside are 3 scroll tubes of bone. And under that, hidden in a secret padded compartment lie 4 gems of moderate size. He takes all but the scroll tubes.

Hearing motion outside the room he rushes to the window and hurriedly climbs out. A little too hurriedly in fact, he slips in his haste and falls. He lands poorly and twists his ankle but immediately recovers and hobbles to the side of the Inn, feigning drunkenness. Around back and across to the house next door he stumbles....and behind he hears a gruff voice. "You OK? I saw you fall from that window."

Freddy turns and there stands the Blacksmith, from across the way. Freddy explains that he was partying with some folks up in the room and they got a bit too rambunctious and he fell from the window in his drunken state. The Blacksmith seems mollified and leaves. Freddy wanders to a nearby grove of trees, buries his treasure, wrapped in his shirt, and marks the tree w/ a small 'W'.

Now he needs a shirt. It is a warm evening, but it's rather unusual to be running around w/out a shirt at this time of night. The work camp for the castle is near and Freddy finds a rather-too-large shirt there. Afterwards he decides to see if he can't sneak back into the Inn. He climbs to the roof but finds that there's too much traffic now for him to make it inside. Seems that in the interim, Spugnoire has gone back to his room and found it pilfered.

Ostler Gundigoot gets into the action and has guards circle the building in case the thief is still out there...Little do they realize. But by this time Freddy has taken up refuge high in the old oak standing next to the Inn. The guards find nothing.

During the entire interlude, the party has let out and Spugnoire, before he's figured out that he's been robbed, approaches Fisk asking if it would be OK if he tagged along to the Moat House. He's dreadfully interested in libraries and wizardly tomes and such... and there's sure to some of that at the old Moat House right?

Also, Yessirial has taken it upon himself to find his mark. He heads to the work camp, knowing that the mark was last seen there. Sure enough, after about an hour of observation, he find the man. He's changed...of course, hard labor can do that, but Yessirial recognizes the walk. Seems he's in some type of position of authority, the men pay a certain deference to him. Well, now he's go the location, he'll save the rest for later.

Next morning comes and Elmo shows up, looking for his share of the pay. Ooops. The party tells him that they don't have it with them at the moment but that they'll buy him a magic axe as soon as they can afford it. He seems happy enough with this arrangement.

Freddy has since woken up and wandered off to find a shirt that fits a bit better. He comes across the tailor, who's tossing knives, with no small amount of skill, into a board. Perfect. He purchases, for one copper bit, a shirt previously made for a child. Outfitted thus, he heads back to the Inn to tell his story of woe.

He was beset upon while upstairs in the Inn last night. The men, possibly up to four of them, came from behind, knocked him unconscious and took him outside, via the window, to roll him. Everyone is upset. Spugnoire sits there with his mouth open, and Ostler is horrified. To think, this all happened in HIS INN! At Ostler's urging, they all decide over breakfast (which coincidentally, Roog helped cook) to go and see Burne about this disturbance. After all, it has been suggested that the escaped bandits from the Moat House could quite possibly be behind this bold assault.

Burne, ever level headed, suggests that they ask around town and find out if anyone saw anything suspicious. Gulp...Freddy's not too keen on that score. The topic soon changes to the Moat House though. Burne pays them each 20 gold talons, as agreed, for the first foray. But he's willing to offer 20 more per head, if they go back and map out the dungeons. He's got maps of the upper floors and would like to reconcile them with what the party comes up with, but he's got nothing for the lower sections.

The party agrees and takes their leave, just as a two men and women, obviously husbands and wives, come across the small draw bridge, guided by the sergeant-at-arms. The women are both crying and the men are obviously very upset. Seems that their children, a little boy of 7 and a little girl of 9, have gone missing, after heading out to the Broken Stones on a dare.

Freddy, eager to somehow clear his name, comes back and asks if there's something they can do to help. Burne says that there might be, and after a bit more research into the matter, he'll contact them. For now though, off to the Moat House.

The party gears up at the Trader's establishment, Fisk purchases a shield, Yessirial some crossbow bolts and inquires about some poison. Somehow he just knows that these two can get their hands on some. Indeed they can whispers Ranos Davl, but it will take a week to get it in. Too long says Yessirial and leaves without.

Summer breezes blow across the land as high clouds scud through the sky, the journey is actually quite pleasant, considering the last half is through a swamp. Nothing untoward occurs though and they reach the Moat House about 40 minutes before dark.

A little reconoitering by Yessirial and Freddy and they find out the the trap's still in place and it doesn't appear as if they brigands have returned. As night falls it's decided upon by the group that they will bed down in the same room that they'd occupied nearly a week past. They find it abandoned, close the door and proceed to make camp.

Later that night, on Roog's watch, the 1/2-ogre decides that the lure of spices, in the old kitchen, is just too much. He quietly disarms the pans from the door (Fisk's wily warning system), and sneaks out. Coming to the old kitchen, he peers through the door to see some type of enormous bug crawling upon the counter. He quietly sneaks in and deals the creature a tremendous blow. But the bug proves more resilient than that, it spins about and leaps upon the surprised Roog.

As the monstrous tick attempts to find purchase upon the warrior's body, Roog deals it yet another blow...that would have felled an ox. Yet the creature still moves and scrabbles for a hold.

The probiscus finds a target between Roog's neck and the armor, where it sinks in deep and starts to suck. Roog yells and pulls the disgusting bug off, dashing it to the ground whereupon he deals the final blow, smashing it to pulp. Disgusting.

Looking though the broken and rotted cabinets, Roog finds a small tun of sealed cinnamon. Hopefully it's still good... With his prize happily tucked beneath one arm, and a finger staunching the flow of blood from his wound, the tired warrior makes his way back to the room. He quietly replaces the door alarm, waking only Yessirail, and he reclines peacefully up against the wall to resume his watch. All is right with the world.

And this is where we cut it off for the evening.

I didn't feel as if I had the proper energy level last night. It was unfortunate because we only play once every two weeks and the sessions are too few and far between for me to be flat. Work has been a bitch lately though so it's been tough to mentally and emotionally get to that place I need to be. Nevertheless, I think that the guys had fun during our brief session.

We played from 7 - 10 pm. 3 hours every other week doesn't seem like nearly enough to get any kind of emotional impetus going in a game. Oh well, if that's the best we can hope to do, then we'll certainly make due.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Castles and Crusades (Session 5, Oct 27 09)

Players - PCs
Ed - Roog (1/2 ogre fighter)
Ray - Lassirial (Elf assassin)
Paul - Drizzle Spatchcock (Human MU)

*Thiala - (Human Female Paladin)
Elmo - (Human Ranger)

*My eldest daughter played Thiala (yeah, I spelled it wrong last posting), for a little while last night.

Two of our our players bowed out last night, so we played with 4 (3 after my daughter left.) and due to an imminent winter storm warning, cut it off a bit earlier than normal.

We opened with the group entering Hommlet about 2 hours before the dawn, after a long journey through the swamp and then west on the "Great Road". As they entered town they noticed small plates of food surrounded by nearly burnt-out candles, sitting on porches and steps everywhere.

Not sure what to make of this strange tradition, Elmo split off for home while the rest of the party proceeded to the Inn of the Welcome Wench. After waking one of Ostler's daughters they were soon sitting before a well stocked table of breakfast food. A few things of note occurred during the meal:
  1. Broog showed Ostler and the head cook his mushrooms (called Night Caps) that had been harvested from under the Moat House. They were indeed rare and according to Ostler, very expensive. So much so that the small bag, once traded, paid for breakfast, rooms and a "formal" dinner that evening which will feature dishes created with the special mushrooms.
  2. Ostler's daughter told them that the candles and food were for the fey folk. On each full moon and new moon a small sacrifice of food must be made, or the fey become upset and bad things happen.
  3. All the goods that the party garnered from their journey to the Moat House were laid out for others to view. Many workmen and locals, in for breakfast, saw the treasures and were amazed.
A well deserved rest followed the hearty breakfast, allowing the party to catch up on much needed sleep.

Eight hours later and the party is sending out invitations for the formal supper to those in town that might be interested in purchasing items from the Moat House. These people are also quite important dignitaries in town and it is for this reason as well that Drizzle is interested in them.

The list of invitees is as follows:
  1. Rufus and Burne
  2. Canon Terjon of the church of St. Cuthbert
  3. Brewmeister Jep
  4. Gremag and Ranos Davl from the Traders Establishment
And of course all the members of the party, Freddy, Fisk, Lassirial, Thaila, Brool and Drizzle, are in attendance as well.

Lassirial hangs back and carefully watches each who enters, trying to figure them out and assess their relative strengths. This information is then relayed to Drizzle, who stores it away for future reference. The assassin finds out some surprising things while verifying some suppositions:
  • Rufus and Burne are who they claim to be
  • Gremag and Ranos are more than they claim to be (Gremag also somehow recognizes Lassirial's assassin's symbol sewn into his clothing)
  • Canon Terjon is gruff, yet also quite experienced
  • Brewmeister Jep is who he says he is
  • Ostler is more than he says as well
Wine is poured and hors d'oeuvres are served while items from the Moat House are perused and conversation is had. Canon Terjon takes immediate interest in the silver sphere with the small black stone-tadpole within. He claims that it is a religious item from a long lost god, who he's not certain. But the item itself is called an Egg of the Old One, and he says it would be ill advised to handle another one. They've been lucky this time around.

Other items go to other people and all in all the group makes a grand total of 900 gold pieces! The following is a list of items sold:
  • A jeweled dagger
  • 2 bolts of fine cloth
  • Crystal flagon and 4 goblets
  • Inlaid wooden box with ivory handles
  • A couple suits of armor (2 leather, 1 scale and 1 ring)
  • A longsword, spear, and 2 short swords
All in all a pretty decent take.

This is where we ended it.

A couple questions for next session that the group might want to think about:
  1. Did you want to sell the sphere to Canon Terjon?
  2. What's the deal with Gremag and Ranos?
  3. The job at the Moat House is not yet finished...there's pay to be had via Burne.
  4. Burne would like to compare the party's maps of the Moat House with what he has.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Book Review 'The Deed of Paksenarrion'

I don't often do book reviews. Well heck, let's be honest here, I've never done a book review, and there's a reason for that. I often think that reviews are generally meaningless. All of them are subjective and if anyone knows anything about people, it's that, "what appeals to one, won't appeal to all". So going into this with eyes wide open, and realizing that I'm being absolutely and completely subjective here, I'm going to attempt to write down my impressions of the book 'The Deed of Parksenarrion'.

First and foremost, I'd hadn't heard of this book until a buddy that I play D&D with was telling me about it after we had a discussion about paladins. So, I had no real preconceived notions, other than the paladin thing, going into it. This is surprising really, I used to be a voracious reader and it came out about the time that I was reading 2 to 3 books a week. How did I miss it? I'm not sure.

Written by author Elizabeth Moon in 1988 and 89 as a three volume set, the omnibus was published as a whole in 1992, and for that I'm glad. Personally, I absolutely LOVE having a series in one book. I loathe having to traipse all over the city looking for the second or third in a series if the local shop has sold out. Yuck. Sure it's a "big" load when travelling, but I'm OK with that.

Now, as for my overall impression of the story itself, I loved it. It was the first book in a long time that I've had a tough time putting down. There were a lot of reasons for this I imagine.

The author had military experience and it showed. Much of the book takes place while Paksenarrion is in the military and there is a lot of texture that the author injects that lends such realism. She does a great job of also portraying a very strong and competent heroine. There are things that go wrong, yes, she gets injured, but overall, Elizabeth Moon does a very good job of making you believe that there's a little bit more to this girl Paksenarrion.

Another thing that I noticed right away was that the author played Dungeons and Dragons. There were obvious references to it throughout the book. James M. over at Grognardia has blogged about books that have been influenced by the game versus books that have influenced the game. Like him, I generally prefer the later category. I'm not a big fan of books that have nearly literal links to the game. But this one was different.

The references, while obvious, weren't overdone and heavy handed. Moon changed things subtly so that if you didn't know anything at all about Dungeons and Dragons things would still make plenty of sense. In other words, she didn't assume that people reading the book were gamers.

But if you read closely you'll run across references that are just so old school that you can't help but smile. Elizabeth probably played the game during the "golden age" of D&D, and the little tid-bits that you come across are so obviously "Gygaxian". I really loved those parts of the book. Heck, I loved the whole book.

I'm not going to tell any of the story here, but suffice it to say that the writing isn't your standard high fantasy. Yes there are elves, dwarves, gnomes, orcs and even the equivalent of Drow, but magic, as it pertains to the setting is very rare and wondrous. In other words the overall story is very gritty.

The story takes place on a much more humanistic level so there's no hugely sweeping, fantastical vistas or world crushing magic spells, etc. It's a very down to earth, if such a thing can be said, and because of that, it seemed to strike a chord in me that was much more reminiscent of the Swords and Sorcery or Swords and Planets genre. Most of my reading has been Leiber, Howard, Smith and Vance of late, so I was not expecting to like this book, even with all the friendly accolades. But I did.

I liked it a LOT. Pick it up if you haven't yet and give it a chance. It's pretty good stuff.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Castles and Crusades (Session 4, Oct 13 09)

Players - PCs
Ed - Roog (1/2 ogre fighter)
Ray - Lassirial (Elf assassin)
Paul - Drizzle Spatchcock (Human MU)
Jeff - Frederick Five Fingers (1/2-ling thief)
Wes - Thabador Fisk (Human Cleric of Odin)

Thyla - (Human Female Paladin)
Elmo - (Human Ranger)
Wonkin Fire Eye - (Wayward man-at-arms)
Portly Tom - (Wayward man-at-arms)

For reasons that I won't go into here, we've started up a game of Castles and Crusades in earnest. Dovetailing off of the previous "pick up" game, we've shuffled a few players around and have done some creative addition / subtraction, but think that we've got the semi-permanent players at the table now. So, on with the game.

We open in the dungeons beneath the Moat House. A burned-out, lair for ne'er-do-wells, bandits and other, more unsavory types, the building is a concern for the local land owners: Rufus and Burne. As such, they've hired a small group of adventurers to take a look into the rumors of a rise in banditry and some strange goings-on in that area.

So far, the group has chased away a hive of bandits that had been utilizing the back tower as a lair. A chest of treasure was an ample reward. Other hazards faced and conquered include: A giant viper, a massive hunting spider and a green slime.

A secret door, discovered in the bandit's chamber, led down to the subterranean depths. Here they found a round room with a pool in the center of it. Where they encountered and defeated the green slime. Within the pool they also found a silver sphere containing a black obsidian totem of a tadpole.

After this, one character was "replaced" with another: The paladin Thyla takes her leave and is replaced with the elven assassin Lassarial. Ever onward the characters adventure, trying to figure out what foul presence (if any indeed) is behind the odd occurrences at the moat house.

On the way out of the room, the group is ambushed by a wandering / patrolling group of grey goblins. The gobs have their faces painted with ash and lard to appear more cadaverous. Their rusted, notched cleaver-like weapons are splotched with gobbets of what appears to be flesh of some sort...A disease waiting to happen. Opening with arrows from the dark, the goblins score a hit on Frederick, but it's only a graze and doesn't affect the halfling much.

They draw their cleavers, and charge. The fight progresses and wounds are taken by Roog and Fisk. Fisk also performs a heroic act by saving Drizzle's hide when he bravely blocks a nasty swipe (6 hp) with his shield. The shield shatters but the maneuver saves Drizzle. (+50 XP for a brave act)

Fisk, sees the nasty condition of the weapons and applies first aid as soon as the battle is over. The possibility of a prisoner is ended quickly when Lassarial shoots a wounded goblin in the back, killing him instantly. The party doesn't seem too upset by this.

Looting the goblin bodies doesn't reveal much of value, other than some strange bone fetishes, a couple of short bows and 30 arrows in total.

Roughly an hour or so of mapping and creeping results in discovering a work room of sorts. Woodworking tools festoon the walls and ancient benches of the room. Seeing an opportunity, Fisk surveys the instruments and pockets a few that he thinks might be worth keeping. (A mallet, an awl or two, a hand drill, and a few other implements rounded out his collection.)

Leaving through the opposite door, the party maps out and finds a long corridor with two other corridors of odd and disproportionate size joining from the side. At this point, the thief Frederick, decides that he'd rather go the other direction, for it looks more "interesting". (This from a thief w/ a 4 wisdom btw.) The party is not prejudiced either way, so they follow him.

A couple more hours and they end up back in that large room full of frogs and shallow, standing water. Stairs, leading up, are discovered at the end of the hall as well.

Drizzle wants to find out what this tadpole thing does. He has a feeling that it might control frogs, so he removes it from its silver sphere and holds it in his hand. The smooth surface somehow feels a little slimy, but not enough to bother him.

He advances into the room. Freddy wants nothing to do with this and retreats back down the hallway, while Lassarial heads around the other way, to enter the room from the opposite side. Roog smells mushrooms somewhere and advances into the room as well, following his keen nose.

When Drizzle comes to the center of the room, holding his staff in one hand and the stone idol in the other, a large shape detaches itself from the shadows beyond one of the pillars. An enormous frog leaps into the light.

But the first glance reveals that this is no ordinary frog. This monstrosity is covered in mold and fungus, its bulging eyes are a filmy white and its jaw hangs open at an odd angle.

Brother Fisk seeing the beast for what it was, yells out that it's an undead abonimation and for the party to steer clear. He yanks out his silver holy symbol and calls upon the mighty powers of Odin to rid the group of this foul creature. Sure enough (roll of 24 total), the thing swings about with a series of hops and heads back into the far corner. But not before Drizzle gets off a magic missile. Which sizzled the hide where it strikes, but otherwise doesn't seem to affect the frog in the least.

As soon as the undead frog was back in its corner, Lassarial could see it. He squeezed a shot off from his hand-crossbow, it thunked home, but w/ nary an affect. Except of course for causing the frog to leap forth in defense and lash out with a horrendous, dripping green tongue. 10 feet of stinking filth whipped through the air only to strike the stone of the column next to Lassarial.

The stone sizzled and smoked, indicating that this "tongue" was much more than it appeared. It wasn't long until Freddy, hearing the shouts, came scurrying back into the room. At the same time that Roog descended upon the monster, his mace swinging.

A few more rounds and the frog has hit nothing, while the party has scored numerous strikes upon it. Eventually, the beast succumbs and falls to the floor, truly dead. Freddy's thrown dagger providing the necessary damage to put it down for good.

Fisk and Drizzle proceed to the far corner and find a pile of slime, bones and sloughed skin...but sticking out is the corner of something smooth and black. Fisk doesn't want to reach in and asks for Drizzles "mage hand", assuming that the wizard would intuit the request. Wrong.

Drizzle reaches into the muck with his own hand and comes out grasping the statue. But, covering his hand are numerous little yellow-white maggot like creatures. One of which quickly darts through his skin and proceeds to head up his arm.

The mage screams and grasps his arm trying to impede the progress of the sickening worm. Fisk, seeing the whole thing, yells, pulls his knife and proceeds to carve the thing from Drizzle's skin. This whole debacle nearly causes the mage to faint dead away. But he holds on and ends up thanking the quick thinking priest.

Once clean, the statue appears to be some type of crouching creature. With a strange octopoid head, and frog feet and hands, the thing is possibly a religious artifact. But to which god? Fisk can not discern this...they take the statue nonetheless.

At the top of the stairs, on their way out, (It's been many many hours spent in the dark, slowly exploring and mapping the subterranean ways.) they hear voices beyond the black door, where the bandits had been holed-up previously. Freddy and Lassarial listen at the door and hear two men arguing about whether or not their comrade is dead*. It ends with an affirmative and they loot the body.

*Freddy set up a trap at the bolt-hole in the bandits lair, and it apparently worked.

After much noise, each declares that they can't find the treasure, (it's been moved and hidden again) and that neither wants to be the one to tell the "boss". With that they both high-tail it out the way they came in.

Lassarial allows for a few moments to pass then slowly opens the door. Seeing no occupants, he and Freddy set up another trap and free the chest from its current hiding spot. With that, the party gathers up Jah, the pony, straps the chest into place and makes their way back towards Hommlet. The late afternoon sun slowly falling towards the horizon and a slight breeze their only companions.

This is where we ended it. I'll have more to report as we continue our game.

It's really wonderful having some good role players at the table. People who seem to use their heads, common sense, and just enjoy a good exploration-based game. I sort of lost my "game face" just prior to the session due to an errant conversation. But next time I'll be fully energized, prepared and ready to rumble. I promise.

Until then, adieu.

*Image: Property of Tony DiTerlizzi (visit his site and pay tribute!)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Common Courtesy

When I was younger I used to get pretty miffed when people would commit to a game I was running, and then at the last moment bail. Sometimes it was cause to cancel, and sometimes it wasn't. But it was always disruptive in some way, shape or form.

We've all run games where we're NPCing a PC. It's no fun. Not for the DM (extra work), and not for the players (missing a comrade who might pull their bacon out of the fire). Either way, it's always better having the entire compliment of gamers at the table. Plus, heck, it's just a lot more fun having the whole gang there. After all, it is a social game, right?

As I grew older it became more and more difficult to schedule a game. People end up having commitments....that's reality. I get it. But there was an interim period there where people were approaching the game in a "sophomoric" manner while engaged in a more grown-up schedule. In other words, they'd often "forget" to call, or just plain old not show up. In high-school and college this was, while not commonplace, understandable. But as time moved ever onward, and we all had lives outside of gaming, it became a hassle.

Fast forward to today. Here we are, many of us are "grown up" with lives of our own. Some have families. Many have jobs and responsibilities. Those days of just not calling or showing up late (or not at all) w/out a word of warning, are plain ol not acceptable. Scheduling games is just not an easy thing anymore. But if you leave a whole gaggle of adults out to dry w/out any excuse or advanced warning, you're not making any friends.

How many chances should a person get before this becomes a hassle that is left by the wayside of life? My initial response is two. I would say, that if a person completely messes up twice and inconveniences a group of people to the extent that they're sitting around for hours twiddling their thumbs (and making calls to a turned-off cell phone), something needs to change.

If you haven't guessed yet, our DM bailed on us last night. This has NEVER happened to me. I know, odd. But seriously, in 30+ years of gaming, I've never had a DM just not show up w/ no word of warning. So we sat around last night chatting for about an hour and a half, then gathered up our things, walked outside to our cars, and drove away into the night.

With a simple phone call we all would have been mollified.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Playing some 4E (v.1)

Played a game of 4E D&D last night...Well, "played" is a rather rough translation of what I did. Mostly, I just fumbled around with my character trying to finish him up and then struggled to figure him out.

The learning curve for 4E is a steep one when it comes to all of the crazy interconnected relationships between powers, feats and skills. Especially when you create a 12th level character and try to play them out of the gate. Not to mention that the character that I played is still in the beta stage for the most part: The Assassin. There's a lot of discovery going on at this stage in the game. At least there is for me.

While that sounds like it's a rather harsh critique of the system, I rather think that it's a statement about my lack of preparedness. I generally utilize the character builder, and rely upon the software to tell me all available options. Well, the assassin hasn't been uploaded yet to the character builder, so it was the old process of doing everything by hand. But since I don't have all the books and resources, it was mainly an exercise in trying to gather all the information available from all the wide-spread resources.

Complex and in-depth character building is something that a lot of people really like; they dig fiddling with the little things. Getting the numbers just right, finding the proper items, feats and powers to maximize their impact upon the game.

Me? Not so much.

Don't get me wrong, I dig getting excited while building a character. I love imagining the persona as you're rolling up the attributes and picturing the PC in your mind as you lovingly fill out the character sheet. But the process for 4E is just too bloody long. There are far too many sources for me to keep track of. Sure I could've strictly gone right out of the PHB and probably been a happy camper. And now, upon reflection, maybe I should have.

But at 12th level, with all those shiny new items and options available, why (as a conscientious American consumer) not go for the gew gaws? I did. And I paid the price. I had so many papers, powers and cards laying on the table in front of me that I was bewildered 99% of the play time. Which frankly, was a shame.

That's the downside of 4E for me. Just a lot of stuff that's very tightly integrated into how the game plays, that you really need to pay attention to. It's just very character-centric.

Here's the cool thing though, we're just starting up Mike Mearl's revisiting of the seminal Against the Giants series. This is the 4E version...and I'll tell you what, I'm absolutely jonesed about this. I LOVED the Giant series by Gary Gygax...some of the best memories I have of Dungeons and Dragons are playing through that entire series in high school. There's a steep expectation of what we're getting into because of that experience.

I can tell you this, I love my character. Sure it's not old school in any sense of the word. But he's cool: 'The Shrike of Ur' is his name. He's what they call Shadar-Kai, which is a fancy name for some race that's been living in the shadow plane. Pale, drawn out and colorless, he over compensates by being a brash and out spoken braggart. Oh, he's also an assassin. Which is cool.

Again, yeah, this isn't the usual stuff that I get into. I really do like this character though. I just need to figure him out. He's very complex and has a bunch of options open to him in any given situation. I'm not super keen on all that, but the idea of the character is just plain ol fun...

<----------------------- SPOILER ALERT ------------------------>

If you are ever thinking about playing in the WotC module Revenge of the Giants, then don't read any further.

To the module: It's early yet. More specifically, we've just been sent on our "mission" by some kind of mage who's interested in an old city called Argent. (sp?) Our first encounter was with some kind of lion-headed giant who was beset upon by some earth and fire elementals, all lead by another type of elemental(ish) humanoid-type guy. Our group whooped up on them. But, it took us quite a long time to do it. The battle lasted for nearly 2.5 hours and took up the vast majority of the night. At this pace we'll be done by 2013. Kidding.

Seriously though, while I think there are some cool little set pieces here, my first impression is that it's very heavily scripted. "Group A" is hired. They leave for city on map. Travel and "stumble" into encounter. Wherein they are introduced to creature with means to get to city and an "invitation to heroes" to aid in defense of said city. (What happened to the first mission: Finding city and looting it for mage?)

Seem a little hoakey to you? Jury's still out on this one. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Our DM is a very proactive type, and I have full confidence that he'll fix those glaring "railroad" issues, as they pop up.

I really like the guys I play with. I really like the DM. I really WANT to like the adventure. We'll see what happens. Either way though, I'm going to have fun.

I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cross Game Ideas

A buddy of mine was showing me the new art for the upcoming Magic the Gathering card game release, Zendikar. I don't play Magic anymore, while it's a LOT of fun, it's awfully addicting and therefore ends up becoming increasingly expensive. In other words I don't follow the game very closely anymore.

I'm sure that many of you know that Magic releases all have "themes"...Well, this theme is "Adventure", or so I understand. Pretty neat eh? As you can imagine, the art must support the theme, and this art is no exception. Also, the art for Magic the Gathering has been quite evocative over the years. But this art especially, seemed to evoke the feel of adventure. And that's what Dungeons and Dragons is all about.

Here's the link to the original article:

But I'm also posting a few pictures that I believe encompass the theme especially well.

Deep in the Labyrinth...the party stumbles upon what they believe to be a well.

The Druids of this particular valley have sculpted the land over aeons.

Treacherous terrain.


The map says that entrance can be gained through this....door?

Adventuring past vertical...with a few obstacles.

*All images are property of Wizards of the Coast.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Labyrinth Lord Recap

Isabella - 3rd level human female fighter
Ember - 3rd level female 1/2 elven cleric
Safira - 3rd level female elf

Doran 1/2 hand
The Krieger brothers (triplets)

We start with our heroes deep below the ruined monastery of St. Gyxag of Bochnoi. They have passed through the black door, descended a spiral stairway and emerged into a large natural cavern. Standing in the center of this cavern is a stone statue.

The faint sound of water falling accompanies the pitter patter of scattering possums as they approach the statue for closer inspection. Quite obviously a representation of St. Gyxag, even down to the smallest detail of the missing end of his right index finger, the group searches for clues. Eventually Ember places the finger bone at the tip of the statue's missing finger, which summons the ghost of St. Gyxag.

The statue rotates from the spot, and opens upon a cavity beneath that reveals that the Sword of Truth lies below the statue, but the Red Book is missing. St. Gyxag's ghost points towards where the book might be found, admitting that a very short man stole it. And after some further questioning, he also tells them that there is indeed another way out, and that it also lies in roughly the same direction.

Taking their leave, the party ventures into the caves in search of the Red Book. Safira leads that way, carefully probing the floor for traps while the others bring up the rear with light and weapons at the ready.

As the elf rounds a corner she spies two halflings standing in a four way intersection. They begin to twirl their slings and tell the group to head out and mind their own business. Isabella claims that they're here to see the halfling's leader.

They perk up a bit and ask if they're here to trade. "Sure", says the girls. Telling the party to wait right where they are, the halflings take off in separate directions.

Not trusting them one bit, the party circles up and keeps a vigilant look out. Eventually a lilting, musical voice addresses the party from the darkened southern corridor and asks what they might have for trade. Not wanting to tip their hand the girls start out small...And ask that they speaker show himself. "No thank you."

It's evident to the speaker that these adventurers aren't willing to part with much in trade, so threats are resorted to. A deal is given: Lie your gear down in the center of the room and you may leave.

In answer Fura tosses a burning torch into the darkened tunnel from whence the voice is issuing...But it reveals nothing. A tittering laugh issues from directly above the party's heads. Ember then casts detect magic and sees a glowing purple area directly above them. She tries to tell Safira where this lies so that the elf can utilize her charm.

DM NOTE: I ruled that Safira could cast a charm if she knew roughly where the target was. I gave the leprechaun a +4 to his save. This, on top of his natural 80% resistance anyway! Well Hambly rolled a 7 and missed his MR roll as well. we have a charmed leprechaun.

Safira cast her charm and soon a small little man with disheveled green clothes, a stove-pipe hat and black buckled shoes appears in the air above their heads... A deal is soon reached and he scuttles out of site to retrieve the book. But the adventurers are not alone.

Out of the darkness, beyond the light of the torches, approaching quietly are the rest of Hambly's gang...10 halflings of the criminal element, bent on destruction and pillage. They approach, taunting, and calling out for the party to drop their gear and escape. But they've heard this line, and aren't falling for it this time either.

The halflings come out slings swinging. Of the 6 stones, 3 strike true, and unfortunately one of the Krieger's is taken down with a shot between the eyes. Another Krieger brother is also hit as well as Isabella. But as the halflings close in, Isabella takes her wrath out and drops one immediately. Which in turn causes two others to trip up upon themselves.

Safira sees an opening and fires off her web spell, catching 7...The remaining 3 aren't interested any longer, and flee into the darkness.

Mere moments later Hambly returns with the book. He doesn't seem overly surprised that his gang took advantage of the situation and neither does he seem to think that the party's reaction was over the top. He continues on with the bartering.

A few moments later, minus one magical bone club, a tiger's eye, feldspar and a fifth of whiskey, the group now finally has both artifacts. And during this period they hear that Hambly was intending to trade to book to Ylfrit for a position in her court. Again, the Unseelie court comes into the picture.

Before leaving though, Hamby tells the party that indeed yes, the ghost did not deceive, there is a second way out of the caverns. Either travel up the enchanted falls, but only after slaying the guardian, OR travel through the troglodyte warrens and escape via the swamp. Both dangerous, but they seem to be the only routes available, unless of course they want to go back up the stairs and confront an enraged priest and a were-rat.

...Unfortunately this is where we ended it. It was late, and the girls had to get to bed. Everyone had fun and we'll certainly try and continue it as soon as possible. But, as always, real life takes precedence.

Until next time, Ciao.

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.