Is this blog even about D&D anymore?

Oh yes it is.

My group has been playing ACKS with my brother DMing.  We’ve been exploring the Barrowmaze and the environs (not sure if the local towns are from the module or just something he made up or got somewhere else).  FWIW here are the player-generated summaries for the first couple sessions.  They were mostly written up by Seth, but I couldn’t resist adding a few remarks in brackets, and following up with my character’s will.  We entered via the barrow numbered 11 on the player map, if you are familiar with the module.

[Session 1]

[The hardy band of adventurers starting in Oakhurst consisted of J the Mystic ; Septimus the Elementalist ; Heinrich the Necromancer ; Sirah the Shaman ; Antonio! the Venturer ; and Sylvus the Elf Ranger.  They decided to hire on four fighting-men to help beef up the front line.]

The group’s first outing to the widely-rumored barrows found them in a previously opened barrow mound, scrounging for loose change on the floor.  Septimus fondled some skeletal heads in a relief carving and caused a secret door to open, revealing stairs leading down into darkness.  After figuring out who was holding the torches, they descended.

[6 Giant] Centipedes at the bottom of the stairs surprised and killed one of the 4 hired men before the brave companions could come to the rescue.  Even at this early stage, the group’s unfortunate lack of muscle and armor made itself apparent.  The elven ranger spotted a secret door leading to a burial crypt, which was looted post-haste.  A skeletal, self-reanimating abomination [a Coffer Corpse] was disturbed, fought, run from, and then fought again, but not without the loss of 2 more hired fools, and the near death of several party members.  Several party members bravely ran away, but their names are of no consequence.  A second, and slightly better planned attempt saw the skeletal re-animator smoldering under a barrage of burning pitch.

After recruiting [4] more lightly armored fools [and a cleric] in the village, a second excursion was begun.  Several more rooms were plundered and the party marveled at their good fortune as platinum, electrum, gems, and jewelry lined their collective pockets.  The fortune was not without it’s cost.  Several lumps of cannon fodder again lost their lives to the denizens of the deep.  Two, a cleric and a village simpleton, walked straight into a bottomless pit, because the brave companions felt it best to put them at the head of the marching order, though none of the party members claims credit for the ingenious idea.

[Session 2: After a short respite and a trip to Wolverton to fence some of the more valuable spoils of the barrows, the party re-assembled.  This time J and Sirroco stayed back in Oakhurst, complaining of cramps, and P. the Elven Nightblade joined the ranks of the party.  They set off with the three surviving hired hands, plus a torchbearer and two wardogs.]

Another trip to town again rounded out the party’s number.  A third excursion proved disastrous as Antonio! was felled by a well-aimed arrow before the party even arrived at the barrow.  The brigands responsible we strangled, peppered with arrows, chewed upon, hacked with swords and spears, burned in hellfire, and generally given a round talking-to by the vengeful comrades.  [Under pre-execution questioning, one of the brigands explained that their leader, Frederic, has two surviving brothers who are said to be dangerous and may hold more of the bandits’ plunder.  The party resolved to look into the matter later.  The prisoner invoked the dark gods of Zahar before being hung.  Dak the Barbarian joined the party at this point.]

A fourth excursion found the companions looting several more crypts, slaying [5] giant flies, [2] mongrelmen, and [six armored] zombies.  [The zombies were apparently priests of Nergal.]  When they came upon a pack of [four] ghouls, the party decided to beat a noble retreat, vowing to lay almighty waste to the ghouls another day.  [In their retreat they passed some bandits who had holed up in a chamber and took potshots at the fleeing party.]

The fifth excursion saw to the end of the ghouls as the group finally learned to attempt battling in confined spaces such that swarms of hell-spawn could not overwhelm multiple party members.  The addition of some competent armored muscle (a rather dim, but extremely useful barbarian had joined the party taking the place of, but never replacing, the lost Antonio!) proved providential.  The party is in good spirits with the influx of wealth: more gems, jewels, coins, and other odds and ends.  [A Bag of Holding was added to the party’s collective loot, and will be used to hold spoils while adventuring.  A pair of Gloves of Swimming & Climbing was passed about like a hot potato until finally someone begrudgingly took them.  Heinrich and Septimus studied a spell book found in the dungeon but could not make out the tangled script.]

–Seth, [with annotations by Mike]

[Post session 2]

Sobered by the untimely demise of Antonio!, Heinrich writes out a last will & testament, should he suffer the same fate:

I, Heinrich the Necromancer, being of sound mind and adequately functional body, do hereby indite my wishes for the disposal of my earthly remains, should the unthinkable happen.

1) If possible, I would like to be raised as a Lich in order to continue my career in the Black Arts & Crafts.

2) Should the rituals of Lichdom be impractical, I would like 500 of my gold pieces to be used to have my remains Raised.

3) Should Raising also be impractical due to the state of my body, the passage of time, or lack of funds, my curse on you all for failing me in this, my most dire time of need.  Doubtless I will have died due to neglect or treachery on the part of our arms-bearing party members, who should have realized that their first and noblest duty is to the preservation of the spell-casters, and especially of the most physically infirm spell-casters.

4) Even so, I am not wholly selfish and would fain not have my hard-won loot seized by creditors, scot-collectors, or frauds posing as my kin; no, I lief that my worldly possessions benefit those who did their best to keep my skin whole, no matter that they have proven themselves incompetent at best and, at worst, the nithings and poltroons I suspect them to be.  Therefore, let my goods be divided as the party sees fit and most beneficial, apart from these specific bequeathals:  Let my hunch, which has served me so well, go to Septimus; let my soap got to Dak, who stands so sorely in need of it.

5) Yea, and I say unto thee: Reave well, and raise a stout to your crookback compeer!

(Signed)

Heinrich

Published in: on May 16, 2014 at 8:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A new campaign

A new campaign — and I get to play again!  We’re using C&C, with some stuff pulled from the Warhammer FRP game for backgrounds, and the setting is the Warhammer ‘Old World.’  My brother Tom is DMing, and he hopes we’ll make it to levels appropriate to try some old 1e modules, but against all expectations the players opted to start at level one.

So the first session had four players, and we made up a relatively well-balanced party: Eckhard the wizard, Allios(?) the elf barbarian/rogue, yyy the fighter, and Siegfried the half-orc cleric/assassin (which I am playing, big surprise).  I don’t have my notes from the game handy, as I’m at a training ‘retreat,’ so I forget some of the names of the other characters.

     We all found ourselves in the service of a local lord in Middenland, who is on campaign against another lord, in some private feud over control of some villages or other. Our mission, assigned by a disinterested knight, was to check out a nearby village for signs of enemy troops or scouts.

     En-route we met with a surly woodsman who told us to avoid the village, but who gave no specific reason for his attitude.  We also found signs that something dead had been dragged across the road and through a brook.  Our efforts to follow the trail (without a ranger) turned up confusing signs, and we eventually turned back for the road, to keep ‘on-task,’ but retracing our steps we found a holy symbol of the nature goddess… not something a cleric would lose.  We assume something bad happened to the cleric.

     At the village we found the people scared and distrustful.  We spent quite a while roleplaying our interactions with the townsfolk.  As a cleric, I was able to gain a bit of trust from the bartender, and over the course of our conversations we got some intimations that ‘the one in the tower’ was casting some sort of shadow of fear over the town.  A half-orc who was obviously acting as informant for the bad guy fled the tavern and rode off to the west, presumably to bring a message that some troublemakers were in town.  We had no way to catch him, as we had no horses, and decided to ask for more information outside of town, where paranoia might be less intense. When we questioned a pair of peasants outside the village, we also learned that the ‘one in the tower’ was taking the village’s dead for some purpose.  My character, being a cleric of Morr and intensely suspicious of necromancy, jumped to the (apparently correct) conclusion that the man in the tower is a necromancer of some kind.  A crow in a nearby tree seemed to be spying as well, and we tried to shoot it down but missed.  So I suggested we head back to the army encampment, as it seemed to unsafe to try staying the night in the village.

     Back in camp our commander poo-pooed the idea that a necromancer could be operating in Middenland, and sent us back to find out more, with instructions not to create a scene or kill anyone unless necessary.  We arrived back at the outskirts of the village at dusk, and saw a troop of skeletons marching straight at the hut belonging to the peasants we’d questioned earlier, led by a horseman.

     The party quickly decided that we had to save the peasants, and set of at a jog to intercept them.  The fighter decided to split off from the party to try a flanking movement, so the wizard, barbarian, and cleric set off straight ahead while the fighter circled around.  Is that a good tactics when you’re badly outnumbered? I didn’t think so but my character was more interested in smiting the undead than planning.  Also, being the slowest in the group because of my extensive inventory of gear, I knew I’d arrive at the fight after the two fighter-types.  Since the wizard also wisely stayed back, we ended up having the barbarian charge into the skeletons, alone, and he was soon dragged down and unconscious on the ground.  The wizard dropped the horseman with a magic missile, but my efforts to turn the undead kept failing (the good news is C&C gives you unlimited chances to try turning; the bad news is that it is an attribute check, so success is very chancing, like all d20 rolls.  Older editions relied on 2d6, which has a nice bell curve!)

     In the end, we barely squeaked through the first clash.  My cleric and the wizard each were down to one HP, and both of the other characters were unconscious.  But I’d finally turned all the skeletons (apart from a few killed by the fighter and the wizard in melee), and having healed the barbarian, we regrouped in the peasant’s small fenced yard (pig sty?), waiting for the turning to wear off the skeletons and their inevitable return.

     In the end we survived, and took the horseman as a prisoner, for he was not actually dead.  He had a holy symbol of Khaine, god of murder (and rival to Morr).  At this point we ended the session, as we’d started very late. It took 2 hours to BS and then roll up characters — I’ll post something about the interesting chargen house rules Tom used later.

In the next session, we had some more character generation as Richard, Ken, and the new guy Dan made characters.  They ended up making a gnome assassin/illusionist (Gustán, “with an AH!!”), a human fighter (Stan Hywett), and half-elf ranger respectively.

The new PCs were sent as reinforcements, and good thing they were — the wizard and fighter players were both absent this time, so we are assming they needed more time to recover from their wounds.

The party went off to investigate the tower, after interrogating the prisoner from last session.  He didn’t give us a lot of information, but confirmed that the tower had many undead and few living defenders.  He was in fact a cleric of Khaine — the Warhammer god of murder — and so I executed him.  My cleric’s god, Morr, is the god of death (and dreams, and illusion) and Khaine is sort of his jerkwad little brother who wants to establish his own underworld, and populate with his worshippers’ victims (their souls go to Khaine’s hell, their bodies get used to make the undead!).  Morr is particularly opposed to the creation of the undead, and the rightful ruler of the underworld, so Morr and Khaine are enemies, and my cleric really has to root out and exterminate Khaine’s followers.

Anyway we decided to test if the unholy symbol of Khaine really made the undead obey or ignore you (we jumped to that conclusion based on the last session and some of what the prisoner said).  The ranger agreed to be the guinea pig. When we found the tower — a dilapidated building surrounded by a dry moat and a wall — he rode up to the gates, over the open drawbridge, and almost into the courtyard, before a human guard realized he was not the dude we’d just killed.  He managed to escape, riding balls-out back to the wood line.  The forest had grown back towards the tower and we used this cover to scout out the tower.  The defenders sent a small party of ghouls after us, and we defeated them without loss, but at the cost of most of our spells and the front-line fighters’ HP.  We then decided to fall back a bit more, and it occurred to us to look for secret exit from the tower, reasoning that fortifications often had escape tunnels.  A few hours of looking turned up a passage, which we took.  It seemed long-forgotten and unused so we even made camp and rested a bit, get back some spells and heal up.  Then we took the passage toward the tower.  along the way we found a giant mole, which the gnome could talk to, and a room full of partial zombies, which we dispatched.  Pressing on we found a way into the tower!

We did our best to sneak in, and began fighting out way up the tower, figuring the ‘boss’ must be there.  Among the supplies on the ground floor were many coffins, some empty and some containing sand.  We puzzled over that and then we barricaded the ground level door. We cleared level after level of skeletons, zombies, and an evil cleric.  Unfortunately, some turned zombies made it up the stairs, giving warning to the denizens above.  Soon we were pounding on the door at the top of the stairs while more defenders were trying to break into the tower!  But we broke through first.  At the top floor we found a ghast, dressed in fine silk robes and carrying a spell book, which Stan managed to cut down in the first round of the fight!  I was ready to conclude that the ghast was in fact the necromancer, but the barbarian was not so sure and began probing the room with his bardiche, looking for invisible foes.  We then heard some chanting, and everyone but the barbarian fell asleep!  He charged the now visible necromancer, but was dropped by a magic missile.

The end?

At this point it was very late and we called it a TPK, but in the following days we discussed how frustrating it was to spend almost half the last two sessions in chargen and then to be wiped out.  The DM may be evil, but he’s lawful evil, and found an ‘out’ for the party, giving us a fighting chance.  He sent us this alternative denouement:

Thunk, Thunk, Thunk …Falling.  “What was that sound?  Why can’t I move?   Where am I,”  thought Stan Hywett.
 The last thing he could remember clearly was running through the ghast at the top of the tower. 
 Sand, there was some sort of sand in his eyes… no all over him.  “My god I a buried,” he realized, buried alive. But the pounding, what was that?
A muffled voice said “Necromancers, megalomaniacs and fools!  Why fill the casket with sand?”
 A second voice answered “Shut up and quit dropping your end.  The Master said don’t wake them.”
 “But sand, it weighs a ton,” replied the first voice
 “It’s magic sand.  It will keep them asleep till we need them”
 “That’s another thing, why keep them alive at all?  Why not slit their throats and be done with them?”
 “Cause”
 “Cause why?”
 “He says that they might be better fresher.  Maybe the transplants will take that way.” 
 “What’s the point?  They killed all the zombies.  The killed Kalag, they even killed then hunch back.  Poor bastard.  You know, we should have never killed the Old Master, He could truly reanimate the dead.”
 “Lift your end, no more dragging, no more complaining.”
 “Thanks be to Khaine that this is the last one… I am hitting the road tonight, if you were smart you would too”
There was still hope then, the warrior thought, working his wrists and loosening the ropes. Were the others alive?
      So we’ll pick up captured, but not dead, which seems fair, especially since some signs really did point to the fact that the ‘necromancer’ was stitching together corpses to repair zombies that were falling apart, and the sand-filled coffins make some sense … after all sand is a ‘material component’ for sleep spells.
Published in: on July 27, 2012 at 5:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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Session 19: In like Commandos, out like Thelma & Louise

Session 19 looks like it will be the last session for a while, and boy was it a cliffhanger.

The party, regrouping after the previous sessions’ forays into the dwarven ruins, found several huge potholes in Skara Brae.  Actually, not potholes so much as purple worm tunnels. (Recall they left a purple worm in a holding cell beneath the Scriptorium, and also that a mindflayer escaped the same area through a dimensional door … and Grundel’s vision of a purple worm-riding mind flayer.)

The tunnels even undermined a small tower the party had claimed in town, and by talking with the locals, the party learned that the same statues they were seeking seemed to form a barrier against chaotic monsters if properly assembled.  After a fairly long debate about chasing down the purple worm versus finding the last statue, the party settled on going for the statue.

They knew it was in the ruins of the Citadel of Law, so off they went. They met a beggar who, after being rebuffed by the paladin, was given some coin and who then warned the party about the archer bushes in the courtyard of the citadel.  The party used oil and fire to clear a path, and found the citadel in ruins.  When the paladin tried to detect evil, he realized that nothing was ‘happening’ and in fact his paladin powers had been revoked.  Perhaps his cruelty to the beggar was the final straw…

At this point the party began explore the tower.  Well, some of the party — the paladin immediately began praying in hopes of recovering his powers; the wizard stayed outside in the courtyard, observing, and the cleric dithered between hearing the paladin’s confession and going inside the citadel.  The others all wnet in, and found it in nearly complete ruins.  Only the central, spiral staircase stood; all the floors had fallen and piles of rubble covered the floor.  Once they were inside, the hydra revealed itself and crept toward them (they move pretty slowly in C&C).

Combat with the hydra went pretty well for the party, but DMing it presented a problem I think I have encountered before.  The hydra (at least in C&C, I didn’t check the AD&D MM) can be killed only by killing all its heads.  The body takes damage, in theory, but the heads have to be taken out in detail.  I totally get the idea here, but it is kind of a bad mechanic for a D&D type game which normally has no called shots.  I ended up asking the players, after a while, where they were attacking it (a head or the body?) and they almost always chose the body, until it had taken many times it’s total HP (the rogue got off a massive back stab at the beginning of the fight which took 3/4 of its hits in one shot, due to d30 madness).  Come to think of it, it was my own monster — the maggot farmers — that had this same problem.  In D&D, you generally don’t make called shots.  So when a monster’s weakness lies in some specific part, I find myself either giving it away (“Where do you attack it?”) or else it feels like ‘pixel-bitching’ (“You didn’t say you attacked for the neck…”).  I am not sure what would be the best way to solicit called shots.  Maybe I am too quick to jump in and should let the players figure it out.

The citadel also happened to house some gargoyles, and these were much more of a threat than the 5-headed hydra turned out to be, because although you can hurt them with nonmagical weapons in C&C, they have a truly devastating attack, because C&C’s falling damage is on the ‘realistic’ side: 1d6 for the first 10′, then 2d6 for the next 10′, 3d6 , etc.  With a flying speed of 75′, a gargoyle can grab a PC one round, and fly him up 75′ the next, to drop him for 28d6 damage (36d6 if you round that last 5′ up).  We discovered this when the cleric was dropped to his death.  Almost any other player would have been OK — the assassin has a ring of feather falling, the dwarf has boots of levitation, the paladin has some oil of levitation, and the wizard can cast feather fall.  I wasn’t really cognizant of this, and I think it’s fair — the gargoyles don’t know who is or isn’t vulnerable, and they did in fact try to drop the assassin as well.

Anyway they party managed to defeat the monsters and bring the cleric back to the temple in a bucket for a Raising.

Having assembled the statues, the party then discovered that one of the statues didn’t really count as a “hero” and they still needed one more, which they deduced would be in the halfling village of Puddington.

The party was quite worried about running into a purple worm, and/or the mind flayer (especially if they are together) so they planned several ways to make the short journey and settled on riding upon horses.  They found Puddington heavily fortified and sealed, and were told that they could have the statue of Quinnly if they could free the area of the oppressive cyclopes who were enslaving their people.  The party set out for the cyclops’ lair, which I  based on my OPD, The Panopticon of Peril.  Only I didn’t have a print copy handy, and the computer was not hooked up to a printer just then, so I just went by memory, which was good enough.

The party scouted out the perimeter, and noticed a number of towers along the curtain wall that are not in the OPD (oops).  They sent the rogue and assassin to scout on the walls and kill the sentries in the towers, Commando style, and it was nice to see the sneaks really get a chance to shine after almost twenty sessions of being mocked and criticized for their real and imagined failures.  I used the Jenga method of tracking the attention they attracted, as outlined in the OPD and originally suggested by Telecanter.  (BTW the Jenga blocks did a good job of keeping everyone’s attention and making the session more fun…especially since a couple of the players fancy themselves ‘Jenga experts’!)

The rest of the party climbed up to a tower that had been cleared by the scouts, and used a silence spell by the cleric to remain undetected.  The rogues then got the attention of one of the halfling inmates, who warned them about a great evil in the central observation tower, and that if it were destroyed, the guards would be leaderless and probably flee. (The scouts had already killed almost 20 cyclopskin in detail, but the party could see that fighting the remaining 40 or 50 guards, with their flying eyeball support, would be too dangerous.

So, the two scouts ascended the central tower, and found the top floor occupied by a beholder, which hadn’t noticed them.  The assassin studied the beast, preparing his death strike.  He crept along, slowly, noiselessly, as he’d been trained to do. He readied his blade, aimed for a vital spot, and … MISSED!

Uh oh.

The scouts thought they had one ace up their sleeves, however.  The assassin has that ring of feather falling, so they leapt, Thelma & Louise style, out of the tower.  So they will have an 130′ fall* to figure a way out of this mess. The ring will help them avoid dying from falling damage, but there is the issue of the beholder, the eyebats, and whatever horrible critter or critters haunt the well.

We are suspending the game for the summer, and I don’t have the heart to tell them that beholders can dispel magic…although honestly they might be better off splattering on the ground than being disintegrated, etc. by the eye rays.  And who knows, maybe the rest of the party will spot the two figures of Dell and Mazrim, holding hands and drifting down from the tower, and figure out a way to rescue them?

Those poor dead bastards.

In the meantime, we are planning to playtest 5e for a couple of sessions, and then my brother Tom will start a campaign, possibly high-level, possibly using lots of old TSR modules.  THEN we’ll return to the Telengard campaign, because whatever happens, short of a TPK, there is a lot of cool stuff the party can begin to think about doing once they have secured the last statue, like adventuring more outside the city, wreaking havoc on Delos, hexcrawl exploration and even the long-sought-after endgame of strongholds, domains, etc.

*********************

*80′ of tower, 50′ of annular well.

Published in: on June 12, 2012 at 3:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Telengard session 18

The next session saw the party mostly reassembled (only the cleric was absent) and they decided to press on into the ruins of the dwarven city, this time taking on the garrison again. The party defeated a series of rooms full of orcs (but no pie), a few ogres, and a finally a roomful of uruks which were unexpectedly challenging for a bunch of 5th level characters.  Indeed the assassin was so badly wounded that he abandoned his companions to return to town for healing.  But the party pressed on.  The last door of the garrison led to a stairway leading down, and so the party began exploring.

This session saw the party split for the first time in quite a while (actually I can’t remember any splits before except for scouting details) and this added a little tension to a delve that was on the easy side for the party.  Below the garrison the party found what turned out to be an old bath-house complex (yet another OPD), and the party found and killed a ghost.  The planning and debates about facing the ghost took a lot of time, and the actual encounter was over in moments — the paladin and assassin fled in terror, the dwarf stood his ground, and the wizard used his d30 to boost a magic missile … and rolled a 30, laying the ghost to rest for good! (Dell’s player had to bow out just before this as he had a personal thing to attend to.)

The players once again made some good write-ups.  The dwarf player summarized the session, and the wizard player recaps several sessions in am ore general manner.  Here they are:

1. Grundel’s

“Filthy orcs,” Grumbled Grundel as the orc axe slammed into his armor.  Pathetic was the resistance of the humanoids so far.  But now they fought as if they knew the end was near.  The very thought of humanoids taking up residence in the dwarven halls had caused Grumble to forgo his normal caution, barely giving Dell time to listen at the doors before charging in.  For their part Turbedish and Del were keeping pace with him.  Well at least until they find the others.  Now Dell laid under the table, perhaps breathing, perhaps not.   The torch light in the adjacent room went out, more correctly fled.  “The Henchman and Assassin are racing each other to the surface,” Grumble thought “at least the mage was showing his worth.”  He had hoped one of them might pull the rogue out of harm’s way.   Previous deaths had sapped what little courage remained in the Assassin’s blood.  Who was he to judge?  Who knew what the assassin saw waiting for him in the afterlife?
Blows continued to rain down from the orc bodyguard.  A few found the mark on Grumble, the Paladin seemed to be faring much better.  Then Turbedish cast a spell that turned the direction of the battle. The paladin was suddenly 10 feet tall with the strength of a giant. 
 
Soon the battle was over, and Dell yet breathed.  No sign of the Assassin or the henchmen.  Talk was of turning back and regrouping.  Grumble laughed and said “I am fine; let’s kill more orcs — who needs the assassin anyway?”  Sound judgment gave way the dwarf’s stubbornness yet again.     
 
Deeper in the dwarven halls the adventurers found a ghost; now Grumble was racing to the surface.  Beasts of flesh and blood were one thing, to defeat the undead you need magic.  The wizard had only a few cantrips remaining.   They had to regroup so Grumble paid no heed to the paladin’s mocking. 
 
Back in the tavern the Assassin emerged from the shadows.  Dell, more than half dead, sipping some stout told the group he might sit this one out, as the strong drink and blood escaped through a hole in his cheek.  The remaining four came up with a plan.  The best they could come up with was to confront the Ghost with newly memorized spells and have the paladin and the dwarf attack the creature.   Now the confrontation…
 
The paladin and the assassin raced blindly to the surface as the wizard’s magic missiles dispensed the ghost without a single swing of a weapon.  “We have a wizard!” Grumble later exclaimed to the assembled group. Then,  “Who won the race?”
2. Turbedish’s letter home
Dear Father,
My apologies for the long delay since my last. Adjusting to the Northern “climate” was something that took me by surprise. Hopefully, the illnesses associated with such travel are now behind me. The filth these people seem content to live in shall never cease to amaze me. As you suggested, I have made it to Skara Brae, though I find it in disrepair greater than you knew. In spite of most of the old city being overrun with many types of foul creature, the human inhabitants had not relinquished it to the forces of the Night. Some months before I arrived, a few groups of would be heroes took it upon themselves to begin reclaiming the city. I cannot fathom the method of their success, given the bouts of insanity to which they seem to be subject. Patience does not seem a virtue in their eyes. Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself…I have taken up the “hero” business. The “Mayor” of this ruin has a seemingly endless supply of gold, which he uses to reward “adventurers” for reclaiming buildings from the creatures of the Night. One such group (purported to be the most successful as luck would have it) was in need of a Wizard as I arrived. Joining them seemed the most efficacious method of inserting myself in the community, if not with subtlety. I began to question my decision almost immediately. They constantly bicker and squabble over the smallest of things. I hesitate to call any of them the leader of the group. However, a “Du-arph” by the name of Grundle seems to be a driving force in their success (if only through his avarice). I had, at first, mistaken him for a particularly large and stout peck, but apparently these Du-arphs are of different stock. This Grundle alternates between ruthless efficiency and profound cowardice, at times running (slowly) into a horde of uruks or fleeing (also slowly) from a mere ghost. He carries enough metal and gear with him to supply a platoon, there are times I marvel that the floor doesn’t give way beneath his feet. Nonetheless, he possesses a sort of cunning and paranoia which suits his career choice well.

We are accompanied by two servants of the Lords of Light and two other rather queer persons. They are all possessed by a certain disregard for their own safety. Recently, while assaulting an uruk infestation, I witnessed two of them leaping through a horrid defense of whirling blades that the brutes had established, only to be cut off by flaming oil. Luckily, we rescued them before anything tragic occurred. In dangerous circumstance, it is the group’s habit to send Dell and Mazrim (the aforementioned queer persons) ahead on “scouting” missions. In spite of taking on this dangerous task with little armor or defense beyond their wits and nerve, they are relentlessly teased for their ineffectiveness. Still, given the scant help these missions yield, I question the wisdom of the practice. The one named Mazrim concerns me. While his actions seem innocent, he bares a striking similarity to that son of cousin Hajima’s (the one that people whisper about.) I cannot say much about the two devout. One seems to be mad in the manner of that barber from Nisr Street. He mutters the blackest suggestions under his breath and then proclaims virtuous action with a loud voice. Still, the Lords appear to favor him, so who am I to judge?

Here’s an odd bit of news. Apparently, beneath the human city which is almost overrun by Nightkin, there is also a Du-arphic city in the same state. These Du-arphs dwell beneath the rock in stone warrens they cut. Our most recent escapades have involved traipsing about in the wretched darkness that the Du-arphs call home, picking off the endless supply of creatures which inhabit it. The whole thing seems rather odd. Grundle seems singularly effective in combat against most of these brutes, yet they somehow had nearly exterminated an entire city of his kind. I expect this task to soon be over, and we can return to the task of cleansing Skara Brae. I have begun to wonder from what source all these villains, both above and below ground, have been supplied. Certainly their population would demand a steady stream of victuals, as well as arms. I will investigate further, perhaps this task can be made easier by starving the horrid things out.

Tell Mother not to worry. My companions are singularly suited to this violent task and quite capable of getting along with little help from me save organization and notetaking. I’ve only been in one risky scrape, and survived quite nicely. No progress yet on that other issue.

Live long and prosper,
Turbedish 

 
 
Published in: on June 5, 2012 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Telengard session 16 &17

Been a busy couple of weeks, but the game goes on!

I’m taking the lazy way out and posting some player-written session reports.  I now offer a modest XP bonus to players who write up what happened, their character’s thoughts, etc.  One player is also working on making up what happened to the party in the last campaign after the last session!

Anyway session 16 involved the party going after another statue, this time the dwarf.  They found their way into the old dwarven city beneath Skar Brae and found it almost abandoned and, like SB, overrun with monsters.  They decided to start clearing for the few remaining dwarves.  Their first stop was the old forges, which borrowed heavily from one of this year’s OPDs — The Ichor of Vercingetorix. (I changed some of the monsters, and the plot, but used the map and it wnet pretty well.)

There’s the dwarf player’s after-battle report:

Grundel caught movement behind him out the corner of his eye. Something flashed overhead. Grundel reflexively waited for an arrow, dagger, or bolt (or what ever the assassin used these days) to lodge itself in his back. It was spear and it did not hit him at all! The gnoll-headed demon fell to the ground. But he could hardly believe it. It, it … unbelievable. Did the assassin just assassinate the gnoll-headed demon? “Unbelievable,” Grundel muttered wiping the blood from his forehead and out of his eyes just as the paladin rushed ahead to slay that last gnoll. The paladin has being doing that a lot lately… rushing forward and slaying things. Even the rogue was aiding in the combat.

With all the monsters dead and the path to safety clear, Grundel paused to remove his gauntlets. A deep wound on his hand, blood flowing freely. That explains it. “It was not bad luck at all,” though Grundel as he recollected the evenings combat. He did not even feel it until now. Funny how you can keep going when death is all around you. Ghouls, Ghasts, Gnolls, Hyenas, Frog Demons, Giant Spiders, and Imps. A fair few fell to his morningstar but not as many normal. Many were dead without any telltale spike holes.

Looking at the over the assembled group he thought everyone really pulled their weight. Had you been three feet tall, and looking up at the dwarf, you might have seen a smile forming between his thick mustache and puke covered beard. (Damn Ghasts.! But then his eyes came upon the unconscious wizard still covered in frog demon slime. His smile faded before it truly formed. “Hmm, be careful what you wish for you might just get it” grumbled Grundel shifting under the weight of his enormous pack. Still at least they weren’t complaining anymore that he was carrying everything. The unburdened assassin and rogue darted ahead hiding in shadows that any dwarf could tell you weren’t there. “Manlings, ha! They never disappoint you by not disappointing.”

Next up is the rogue’s summary, which actually covers the between-session regrouping and resting:

Dell couldn’t’t decide which wound needed the most attention.

They sat in the garrison hall, while the dwarf chieftain paced about, listening intently as Grundel told of the battles in the abandoned forges. Occasionally, he stroked his beard. Several times the two warriors fell into the ancient tongue of their race; when Grundel sought to describe the way his morningstar crushed bone, or a thrown hand-axe arced perfectly before finding its target. It is particularly important to Dwarfs that these details are conveyed precisely.

 When Grundel neared the climax of the story, the clan’s leader stopped and raised an eyebrow. “Gorellik himself?!” The various gnoll cults referred to their deity by different names. ‘Gorrelik’ was the most common. Some of the lesser cults called him ‘Ranivorous.’ The most secretive and dangerous spoke of ‘Great Yeenoghu.’

 “It’s doubtful it was the deity himself,” said the Paladin, “but, a powerful demon to be sure. It was nearly the end of us. Small wonder your people were driven from those caverns. Emphasis on small.”

 The old chief clenched his square jaw. He had let this human take certain liberties with his manner when the party had first arrived. But, now that his home was being rebuilt, reclaimed, he was feeling bolder, stronger even.  He shot Grundel an angry glance. The warrior just shrugged and rolled his eyes.

 As Dell cleaned a large gash on his forearm, he noted the remarkable progress that had been made in the place just in the day they had spent in the forges. Torches now burned brightly in every sconce. The place was cleaner, warmer, less dank. The sounds of chisel, pike and hammer echoed through the corridors as the Great Hall—the massive spider gone—was being readied. There, the wizard’s broken form lay in state, waiting for the Paladin to reclaim his healing power after a night of prayerful reflection.

 “Well, no matter,” the leader went on. “With just that small section returned to us, we’ll soon be producing treasures as in past days. Our wealth will return. And, our glory. But, for tonight we set talk of the future aside. A great enemy has been slain. We feast.” He strode off, whistling.

 Despite the fact this forgotten clan had spent years in shadow, they had not lost their skill in entertaining honored guests. The party was seated at the head table, still visibly injured, but now clean and rested. The Dwarf healers had used powerful restorative balms. Since they eschewed magic, the race had spent centuries perfecting their art to care for those broken in both mining and battle.

 The Elves were the unquestioned best when it came to the practice of healing, but the Dwarfs were a close second. Lacking magical means, they lacked also the ability to resurrect the dead. So, the magician lay on a pyre stone at the far end of the hall, surrounded by scented flames. His time would come. Had the priest, Willis, been on this adventure, the spell-caster would be feasting with them. Limited by the daily constraints of the Paladin’s holy magic, this task would have to wait. As such, the banquet was somewhat subdued.

 Dell observed the assassin whisper to Grundel. The Dwarf listened and nodded, then sat back in his chair. He winked in Dell’s direction, then pounded his metal stein on the table. The din quieted. The great warrior paused dramatically, then stood. “Great Chief,” he started and bowed toward the throne, “we visitors to your ancestral home thank you for this fine food and wine. But, perhaps now is time to conduct some commerce.” ‘Huzzahs’ rang out through the hall. “We have performed a service for your clan; risked life—“he motioned to the fallen magic user, “—GAVE life; put our own journeys on hold. We seek payment.”

 The chief smiled wryly. He had expected this moment. In fact, he would have been insulted if these adventurers had not asked. It was the way of Dwarfs: seek no charity. Still, there would be parlay. “A service that is not yet complete. Am I to pay now for half a job done?”

 “Oh, for the love of—“ the Paladin began. Grundel stopped him by clapping his hand on the man’s shoulder and squeezing with all his strength.

 “Agreed,” Grundel said. “We will complete the task we agreed to perform. But an honorable master would offer an initial payment towards completion. A good-faith payment to motivate those he hires.”

 The chief leaned back in his throne. “And, what would you claim? The dried husk of the great spider? Gnoll bones? These are the things we have to offer until our forges fire again.”

 Undeterred, the Dwarf warrior went on. “Five hundred years ago, a Dwarf hero walked the streets above. His carved image now rests in your halls. We claim the statue of Grumble.”

Actually, the wizard (who replaced the retired barbarian this session) was not dead, but had been brought to negative HP.  He’s been trying to keep himself and some NPCs out of harm’s way inside a cube of force, but the demon teleported inside the wall of force and nearly ate the wizard.  Because the wizard had the foresight to hand the cube off to one of the NPCs, they were able to bring down the wall of force and and let the fighter types come to grips with the demon.  It was a frantic, chaotic battle in two rooms, where the party fought a major demon on one front and the frog demon and two trolls on the other!  Very nearly a TPK, had things gone just slightly worse.  But the party is working together very well and using their d30s to good effect.

The next session had just four players — the paladin, cleric, rouge, and assassin — who explored the old dwarven museum, with the help of a pair of locals, and then went on to take on the ‘garrison’ wing of the ruins, which was occupied by some rather well-organized orcs who put up a spirited defense with traps, arrow slits, and an ogre on steroids.  The museum was pretty much straight out of another OPD (here) which I really like.  Not a lot of combat but a lot of atmosphere.  The garrison, I improvised.  No deaths but a close call for the paladin, who took on the orcs single-handedly and was almost eaten by the ogre, who took advantage of the C&C grappling rules.

Published in: on June 4, 2012 at 11:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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Telengard sessions 14 & 15

Oof, getting behind.

Session 14 was a hoot.  The dwarf, paladin, and newly raised assassin were joined by a monk (Willis the cleric remained a statue).  The party was intent on delving deeper into the Scriptorium.  They descended one level deeper, and found a library, filled with shelves of books and scrolls.  The center of library was open and looked down on a scriptorium below, filled with small writing podiums and stools for copyists.  The library shelves were infested with huge book worms, which leapt out when the books were disturbed but did not prove to be too dangerous.  A swarm of moths, attracted by torch light and throwing themselves suicidally onto the flame until it was extinguished, proved to be a greater danger, for when a new torch was lit, the party found themselves surrounded by shadows.  They fought pretty well but the paladin turned them, and then the party descended to the scriptorium level from which the shadows seemed to come.  There they fought more shadows, and again the encounter ended when the paladin turned them successfully.  The assassin was badly weakened but otherwise the party felt confident and went even deeper. The next level was divided into several rooms.  The first door they found had a warning sign: “Danger, lich at work”.

now you might think that this would dissuade a party of 4th level characters.  The dwarf and assassin began to fall back when the paladin and assassin decided their best bet was to kick in the door and attack!

Inside they found only a skull and some dust on a table, and an otherwise mostly intact room.  However the dust began to swirl and the skull floated up, and the demilich assumed a wraith-like form.

My thinking as a DM was: 1) they won’t open this door, might as well put a lich in there; 2) shit they opened the door, give ’em one more chance, make it a demilich so they can at least retreat safely; 3) fuck, they’re fighting a demilich.

The wraith form drained the paladin of a level and at that point even he began to fall back.  However the monk’s player decided that monks were the suck and he’d throw away his character trying to steal whatever he could from the lich’s lair.   He actually made off with a nice haul of treasure but was quickly drained of all his levels.  The party fled while the monk made his ‘heroic’ effort, and returned with a de-stoned cleric, who managed to turn the monk-wraith.  They party avoided the lich level (taking a different stairwell down to the next level).  They were now on the ‘ground floor’ and fought group of trolls, defeating them and winning the statue of Garmin the magic user they’d been seeking.

Of course they needed to push their luck and went down one more level, to the ‘basement’, where they found three dungeon cells and some torture equipment.  They freed a shedu from one cell, who rewarded them with rich treasures; then they checked the next cell, and the assassin found himself unable to resist the urge to ppen the cell and free… a mind flayer.  The party won initiative and between the dwarf and paladin dealt a huge amount of damage, causeing the mind flayer to flee. For now. The last cell had a purple worm, which the party left alone.  End of session.  The dwarf, who is given to having occasional prophetic dreams, dreamt of the mind flayer, riding a purple worm and driving a group of chained peasant before him…

Session 15 saw the party, now almost complete (rogue, assassin, paladin, dwarf, and wizard all present) deciding to look for another statue — this time Matrim, which they knew was supposed to be in the Jomsburg, the HQ of the town guard (The Hellbrand Fireguard).  Bogron the barbarian retired and a wizard joined the party.

Long story short, I used the excellent OPD “The shifting crypt.” (I’d like to thank Eric Jones for writing that…but he left no contact info, just his RPGnow link.) The party fought ghouls, an undead Valkyrie, and a wight, and although the assassin died again –when the dwarf sprang a trap– they managed to find the statue and some magic armor, as well as the Valkyrie’s magic spear.)

New monster:

 Brunhild the Shieldmaiden

AC 16 (magic weapon to hit); HD 6; damage d6+1 (magic spear +1, which returns after a throw) and special attacks: raise dead (d6 skeletons), scream (all within 30 must save or go berserk, seeing all creatures as enemies; affected PCs will use their most effective tactics rather than attacking blindly; wears off if Brunhild is slain); move 12″.

Brunhild wears gilded armor worth 400 GP and carries a +1 spear which will return to the thrower.  Her scream attack caused the paladin and wizard to turn on their party.  The wizard used his pyrotechnics spell to majorly screw the party over with blinding smoke.  It was total chaos as the party fought each other and the undead, but somehow they pulled through.  The paladin and wizard players were very good sports, and actually the whole party roleplayed the fog of war quite well, not knowing who was hostile.  Lots of fun.

Published in: on May 10, 2012 at 11:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Telengard 2 session 13: Two out of three ain’t bad

This week’s session was another small group, with only Mazrim the assassin, Silbahn the paladin, and Willis the cleric (Dodger and George Foreman, men-at-arms, and Blazer the torchbearer were also tagging along).

The trio decided to look for another statue, this time Garmin’s, which was said to be the Scriptorium, the old wizard’s council hall and library.  The tower had sunk completely into the earth, so that only the ramparts were visible, level with the street.

The party was disconcerted by the sunken tower, and spent a while trying to make sure it was stable, before finally forcing their way in.  Inside they found the top floor mostly empty but for two ballistae, which were in remarkably good condition.

The next floor down had some snake-man guards, as well as a giant guard-snake.  I like pulling out my ‘themed’ collections of minis at time like this, when I’m completely winging it, and tonight it was the snakes!  The party dealt with them pretty handily, and began to delve deeper into the rooms on that floor.  They eventually found a laboratory with a cloaked, hooded figure and two oversized snake-man archers.  They made short work of these guys too, but when the cleric looked under the hooded figure’s hood —

One stoned cleric.

The party, undeterred, decided to try ‘one more room’ to ‘clear the level’ … you know how this must end.

The next room had a couple more snakemen and spirit naga.  The naga used its charm ability on the paladin, taking him out of the first half of the fight.  The assassin charged, but only managed to get entangled in the naga’s terrible coils, and then slowly crushed.  The paladin, seeing his friends fighting, was granted another a saving throw, which he made, and he managed to slay the thing, but not before the assassin was dead.  Not a TPK, but two out of three isn’t bad.

At this point the paladin and his hirelings hauled the assassin’s body, and as much booty as they could carry, out of the tower, and the paladin scraped together all of the assassin’s money to get him Raised.  The cleric’s player elected to roll up a new PC, this time a monk.  So the party officially has no spell-casters whatsoever.

A dwarf, a barbarian, a paladin, a bard (C&C style, no spells, not they he ever shows up), a rogue, an assassin, and now a monk.  Huzzah!

I didn’t really feel like there were any big difficulties or quandaries for me as a DM this week, so there’s not much to add.

One thing I did learn was that “Dragon’s Milk” stout is indeed quite good.  I’d never heard of it before but one of my in-laws gave me a 22 oz. bottle the last time I saw them and it sort of kicked my butt.  It is rather high in alcohol content for a beer —  11% — and my only gripe would be that it actually tastes pretty strongly of the alcohol.  So that big bottle and few bottles of other beers and by the time we were closing shop I was actually intoxicated, which is not how I prefer to DM, but I managed. 🙂  Also, either the beer or the pizza or the combination gave me gas so terrible today that I have almost certainly alienated everyone in my office. Just an unending amount — I must have gone to the bathroom, just to get away from my desk, six times today and every time I had gas again when I finally got back to my desk.  Just embarrassing.  Especially when more than half your coworkers are women.

Published in: on April 26, 2012 at 8:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Telengard 2, Session 12: All hell breaks loose

Apologies in advance as this is both a very long and somewhat obscure post, even for a session report.  These session reports always leave out lots of stuff, but this time the party (and to a lesser extent the players, maybe) had a bit of a blow-up over the division of some loot.  Also, they resolved it by writing little snatches of in-character fiction, which I think is pretty damn cool.  So, in order for the player stories to make sense, I need to give a little more than the usual background.

The party left the upper levels of the Citadel of Chaos for this session, as we’d run out of time last session.  They knew the statues should still be inside, and that most of the inhabitants of the citadel had been slain, but with the paladin back at the table, they took a slow and cautious approach to ‘clearing’ the tower.  Generally the paladin would try to detect evil at every door, and those with evil would be explored first, after the rogue, assassin, and even the dwarf checked for traps.

I’ve been using a set of mini battle mats from a 3e era Dragon magazine that depicts a five story tower, and the layout is reasonably rational, with lots of barracks rooms.   Most of these were empty, apart from a pair of thugs who had been holed up there after the carnage last week, and a pair of wights on another level, one of whom was the infamous Gordo the Strong from the first campaign.  The dwarf ‘borrowed’ the assassin’s magic scimitar so he’d be able to fight the wights, which presaged the disputes over magic items to come.  The party found a few red pills, and could not resist using their player knowledge to recognize them as the same red pills Gordo administered after his week-long intense training courses to grant a +1 Strength.  Tucking these away, the party proceeded to the next level of the tower, where they faced a Bone devil.  I’d figured a devil of some kind was helping the chaos cultists (I am using a five point alignment system ala WFRP, so devils are just evil, not lawful evil), and bone devils are mere lesser devils, right?

The party was having a tough go of things at first, but the tide turned when the cleric entered the room and noticed some chalk markings all around the perimeter, which he promptly began rubbing out. The rest of the party was aghast, and now the devil was free to go wherever he wants…

Against all odds the rogue was able to decipher a chaos acolyte’s prayerbook and read a Command spell, which the devil, against all odds, failed to save against (I did not think to check if C&C allows this spell to effect 9 HD monsters but I was feeling a little generous since it was an interesting move and the cleric’s suicidal impulsiveness was at risk of killing the whole party).  He ordered it to flee, and it uses it’s teleportation power to do so.

At this point the party gathered what loot as they could, including the statues, and adjourned to the inn to divide up the red pills post haste.  This led to about 45 minutes of debate and argument about who who benefit most from them, what would be fair, and what would benefit the party the most.  This led to a vote, which Tom the dwarf player, summarizes below:

The tower was defeated, but the devil is running free. Three pills sat on the table (well six actually but some were partially dissolved); five faces glared at them.
“I want them all, after all they would help me the most.  I am the only one using a two-handed weapon.  They would give me the might of a stone giant,” said the dwarf said with avarice.
“I want them too,” said the paladin, giddy with greed.  “Why should you get them all?  It would be better for the party if it was spread around,” he continued, leaning on his magic sword and polishing magic shield.
“Well, I guess it would be only fair if all the warriors got one,” said the dwarf.
“No,” said the Paladin, “the barbarian is not here, so he is not entitled to a share.”
“Well what about the rogue, he could use some muscle.”
“It would be a waste I never fight,” the rogue said.
“With two pills I could have the strength of a Hill Giant.  I want two,” clarified the paladin, while leering down at the dwarf, “one will do me no good, nor will three, so you can have one.”
“But one would make me as strong a Hill Giant, and two will allow me to use my Battleaxe with a shield, and three will give me the strength of a Stone Giant.   Clearly none would be a waste if all three went to me.” The dwarf said with rock solid logic.
“Two for the paladin, one for the dwarf,” said the cleric, the second most unwise thing he proposed — the first clearly being his attempted deal with the devil.  Yet the statement was only the third most unwise thing he did that day.  The second was erasing the magic ward imprisoning the devil so he could try to strike a deal.   The dwarf simply looked at him, dressed in his chaos armor and wondered how the gods could favor him.  Surely they are not very observant.   But the gods are crazy, allowing his devout to talk of murder and rape with glee, and only judging actions.  As if talk and threats were not actions.
“Let’s put it to a vote!” said the Assassin with girlish glee while stroking the paladin’s thigh from under table.
“We rely pretty heavily on the dwarf to get us out of trouble,” said the rogue. “I say the dwarf”
“Well, if I were as strong as the dwarf I would fight more,” said the paladin. Flabbergasted the dwarf appeared to be the only one at the table to realize that he was as strong as the dwarf, and that the paladin already had the best armor and weapons.
“I side with the paladin,” said the devil’s man.
The assassin, feeling his thighs getting wet, said “I have the deciding vote!  We all know that I stand with distributing the magic fairly, so I choose to give two to the paladin and one to the dwarf.  It is only fair that the paladin gets our magic shield and sword and be as strong as the dwarf.  We should not want the dwarf getting too powerful, and dwarf, can you give me back my magic sword?”
‘Never draw a sword in anger,’ the wise men always said.  The assassin took that one step further and never drew a sword in combat; clearly he needed the weapon back.
After carousing to forget his woes, Grundel awoke later that night. By candle light he retrieved his Book of Grudges, a holy work passed down through the generations by his clan to a worthy dwarf warrior.  The book detailed every injustice his clan has suffered at the hands of others.  Tonight he would ink the day’s injustice.
Translation: The dwarf, already with a 19 Str., could have gotten a 22 Str. with a +5 to-hit and damage bonus with all three pills, or a 21 with a +4 and the ability to use a two-handed weapon in one hand with 2 pills, or a 20 and the +4 with one pill; the paladin had an 18 strength going into it, and one faction thought giving him two pills and one to the dwarf would be best for the party (two +4 Str mod fighting types).  The whole thing led to some hard feelings, as the fiction suggests, but no permanent rifts. The assassin’s player contributed a little addendum, and Tom replied in kind, which seems to have smoothed things over:

I walk to Grundle after a nights thought; he handed me the group’s scimitar earlier in the day with a bit of disgust. I might of been a little intoxicated when thinking to give the Paladin two of the three pills, I am not sure if the Paladin is a dedicated man of god. I am not much of a holy man myself, in other words I don’t actively pray. It is eery to hear how this Paladin talk… I have not met many Paladins so I can’t really judge his character. I also see a start in a division between the party and don’t want to take part of that. Back in assassin school they told me that I can assassinate my way out of any problem… I never was the best assassin but I can’t find a solution through killing here. The room is dark and I hear a hiss when the dwarf throws a piece of hot steel into a bucket of water.

“Grundle,” I say in a light tone, he turns to speak but I continue before he has a chance to tell me off. “I am here to attempt to come to a common understanding.” Grundle tightens his grip on the tongs holding the heated steel. It is easier to talk to him when he is hard at work,

“I was in the wrong on how I came about with the pills,”

CLANK*

“and not only that; the attitude we share with each other all the time.

CLANK*

“I have a feeling you are rooting for me to die”

CLANK*

I pause for a second to think about that comment,

“Actually I feel the whole group thinks that way,”

CLANK*

“CAN YOU STOP HAMMERING FOR ONE SECOND PLEASE! But that must be me thinking to much. I can tell their is some conflict between you and the Paladin but I think we need to band together to fight this horde. Or a least find a common enemy, I joined this group because I thought we were going to become a great team. I am not in for the riches, but the gold will help me achieve my goal which for now I will keep to myself. In the end it looks like we have factions in our own group, on one side you, the rogue, and to me the bard… where ever he went. Then on the other the Paladin, and the Cleric. You might group me on that side but I don’t seem accepted on either side, nor would I want to be. The barbarian doesn’t seem to take sides, but out of everyone he is probably the only person who truly accepts me. I know you gave this back to me, but I am not worthy to hold this weapon. I realized that my skills are rarely used, and my support is limited, I will start to prove myself” I lay the scimitar next to him

 “I am not taking this back, I never use it; if it is needed, someone who can actually swing a weapon should wield it. It is the party’s so I have no claim on it.” The dwarf stops his crafting and looks me straight in the eye and says…

The next email story:

Grundel Grudgebearer stops the hammering and says “An axe is not a hammer; a hammer is not a nail. An axe can fell a tree but bends the nail. A nail is small but can hold the roof. There is no way to make a board and place it without all three. It’s better to do nothing than to work without everything. Think on it”

 CLANK, CLANG, CLANG, CLANK, CLANG, CLANK

 The assassin turns to leave and the hammer stops. “Wait, it is not the Clang or the Clank that hammers the sword to it shape. It’s the way the steel sings together. A good beating makes it stronger,” says Grundel, turning back to the forge.

CLANK, CLANG, CLANG, CLANK, CLANG, CLANK

Still a little unsure, the assassin turns away again. The dwarf puts down the hammer. “What it all means is a majority makes a minority. Iron is strong, but add coal and you have steel which can bend but not break…awh let me put it terms a manling can understand. Being in the majority is good but it divides us. Being in unity makes us all strong.”

Raising the hammer once more the dwarf says, “The gods made men tall so it would be easier to blow the wisdom from their brain.” CLANK, CLANG, CLANG, CLANK, CLANG, CLANK

I guess I should also explain that the paladin and cleric, who are thrown under a bus in the above exchange, have in fact been playing pretty fast & loose with morality, although in all fairness as DM I have really been at fault too, giving very little direction to them about how they ought behave as supporters of the Lords of Light (the good pantheon), and no ‘consequences’ to their actions and words. I even failed to castigate the cleric for trying to cut a deal with the Bone devil, possibly owing the amount I’d had to drink by that time.

Oh, the bone devil? When the party returned to deal with him, he used his devil abilities (animate dead, invisibility, teleporting) to some effect but a series of good rolls, and good tactics, led the party to defeat it.  The d30 rule was instrumental, as usual, in concert with the C&C cleric spell ‘Sound blast’ which cases d8 damage over an area… swap in the d30 and the cleric gets to nuke something every session.

Published in: on April 24, 2012 at 8:00 am  Comments (1)  
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Telengard 2, session 11

We had a smaller group again, as work and family obligations kept a few people away. This was a more ‘role-playing heavy’ session — although really I’m terrible about giving opportunities for role-playing; maybe it would be more accurate to say it was planning and reconnaissance-heavy session.  Even so, I’m finding these sessions with smaller parties a lot of fun, as they are less hectic to DM and I can enjoy listening to the player’s discussions.  I would not want to lose any of players permanently but a small group makes for a nice change.  In the previous campaign there were a couple of sessions with just two players and even those were more fun than I expected, because a smaller group seems to get more cautious and spend more time planning, talking to NPCs, etc.  Still I like big groups too — the jokes always come fast and furious, the party as a whole is more ‘resilient’ in that I can down multiple PCs without having a TPK, and more personalities at the table can lead to more interesting interactions.

The players decided to start going after the statues of ‘ye heroes of olde,’ and remembered a rumor about some dude called ‘Master Argos’ who was sending minions out to collect statues.  They tracked down a shopkeeper they’d asked before but fumbled on the password, and this time decided to ask again, each PC offering a different password until they got it right.  In the event, their first guess was good enough and soon they were arranging a deal (claiming to have a statue to sell) and trailing the merchant (who led them to the old Citadel of Chaos, a tower that was mostly sealed off from the town in an abandoned block).

It’s always very entertaining when Matt and Ken do reconnaissance, and this time was no exception. Part of it is all the ribbing and abuse they get from Tom and John, which sort of raises the stakes (and the pressure) not to fail by some combination of bad choices and bad luck. The resignation on Ken & Matt’s faces as they set out always crack me up.

Anyway this time they managed to do a pretty good job of trailing the merchant without attracting attention, and were happy to report back to the party on how well things went.  Tom wondered why one did not stay back to see if the merchant *left* the citadel.

But they lucked out, and managed to ambush and kidnap the merchant on his return trip, which led to the first torture-free interrogation ever to happen in Telengard!

The party then began debating plans about what to do next.  Everything from frontal assault to disguising one or more characters as a statue were considered, and the final plan was to disguise the assassin as the merchant, pretend to have more statues to sell, and make it up as they went along from there.

The disguise fooled everyone, and things were going pretty well until the dwarf saw an opportunity to get close to Master Argos (who was surrounded by minions in plate armor) and all hell broke loose.  The party came within about two rounds of a TPK (well, the assassin might have made it away) but in the end they carried the day by sheer grit.  A rolling combat filled the second half of the session as the party defeated the boss and his main force, then fought the reinforcements (skeletons in full plate and some drunken berserkers), and finally waded through two lower levels of dungeon below the citadel. They did not have time to thoroughly explore or loot the citadel, but did find some prisoners to free and made off with a few scrolls and pair of magic boots.  Next session no doubt they will finish exploring the upper levels of the citadel and perhaps recover the two statues believed to be there.

Published in: on April 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Telengard 2, session 10: Into the courthouse

I had to cancel last week’s session due to illness, but we were back at it this week, albeit with a skeleton crew — only John, Matt, & Aaron could make this session!  Still, that left a reasonably balanced party of a barbarian, assassin, and cleric, plus the men-at-arms Roger, Dodger, and George Foreman, and Blazer the torchbearer.  The men-at-arms were given shields to go with their short bows, short swords, and leather armor; Blazer was already in mail with a sword, shield, and ten oil flasks, in addition to his torches so he needed no additional armaments.

The party decided to try their luck at exploring the old government building that houses a the court, council, and bank of old Skara Brae.  It was the bank that was the clincher.

The building was fairly solid and had no windows big enough to for the assassin to sneak inside, so they took the front door and forced their way in with a maul.  Inside they fought a variety of monsters.  The old courtroom had a jury of eight cyclopskin, a flying eye prosecutor, and a half-blind beholder as judge.  A well placed sonic blast spell by the cleric, who used his d30 in place of the normal damage roll of d8 (rolling 24!), destroyed all the lesser monsters and injured the beholder badly.  The beholder retreated through a hole in the ceiling, and the party continued exploring, but he sonic boom awoke a very grumpy cyclops and his pet bear.  This proved to be a pretty challenging fight for the party, as the cyclops took full advantage of the C&C grappling rules to pick up and toss the barbarian (killing Roger in the process), and then trying to pull apart the cleric like a fly.  The assassin was badly mauled by the bear, but working together the party managed to down both the bear and the ‘clops.  The cleric and barbarian took to looting the cyclops’ lair while the assassin wandered off to loot the courtroom.  A phenomenal stealth roll kept him out of the beholder’s sight (who had been waiting near the hole in the ceiling to to ambush anyone who came back).  The assassin managed to defeat the wounded beholder, while the rest of the party gathered the loot.

Having taken out the main inhabitants of the building, it was more of a clean-up operation as the party dealt with some giant mushrooms in one office (simply burning them with oil), some Saucer Fungi in the council chambers, and an undead librarian in the archives.  The librarian nearly killed the assassin, who as usual slunk off alone to check out the archives room, while the barbarian was busy pounding away on the vault of the bank, to no effect other than making a lot of noise.  It shushed him when accidentally knocked over an old clay tablet, and then attacked by grabbing him by the throat and choking him, and this prevented him from calling for help.  I imagined the chilling ‘shushing’ scene from Saving Private Ryan, as the assassin was slowly choked out, his friends just yards away and unable to hear him because of all the racket the barbarian was making. But just before he passed out, the assassin managed to draw his sword and clatter it against a wall, making enough noise to draw in the cleric, who was able to turn the thing, and revive the assassin, who was down to -5 or 6 hp.

Examining the archives further, the party found some ledgers of public works and were able to find information on where all the old statutes of the legendary heroes were originally set up.  They also found an old book of the city’s laws, which they sold for a tidy profit to a sage.  Among the cyclops’ treasures was a Tome of Understanding, rolled randomly at the table, which the cleric read.  Keeping with the bibliographic theme, they also realized that the book set on a podium in the building’s foyer was not a visitor’s register but in fact a Bestiary of Blood, completion of which would open the magically locked bank vault!

So now the party has a lot of ‘missions’ should they choose to accept them — tracking down statues, hunting the monsters needed to open the vaults, checking out the rumors they’ve already gathered, and the last big building in the plaza, the Bazaar, still waits.

Published in: on April 5, 2012 at 9:30 am  Comments (2)  
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