Within are to be writ the tales of daring and adventure of those who have placed themselves on the path of glory. Share your exploits with other Castlers & Crusaders!
Mon May 26, 2014 9:28 pm
Keep Jimmy and Jimmy's Guy as thieves, good thieves and assassins are never known for what they are. Let them even "train" as fighters, they can fake that too. Keep those two sneaky little NPCs sneaky... let them play along for years.
Sun Jun 01, 2014 3:32 pm
Had another session yesterday. My wife joined in this time. She wanted to play a fairy, so I adapted the Hackmaster 4E pixie-fairie for my game. Alas, Jimmy's Guy fell to a pack of voracious wolves, but Jimmy's Other Guy survived the session. Torch bearers have the life expectancy of a horse in Frank Mentzer's Empyrea campaign. Full write-up to follow in the next few days, although it will probably be a short one since the session was pretty short.
Mon Jun 02, 2014 3:11 pm
So, this thread is averaging 37.774194 views per post. Who is reading this thing? I get comments from maybe 2 or 3 people. Either those guys are addicted or I have a lot of lurkers.
Sun Jun 08, 2014 10:34 pm
Game Session – May 31, 2014The Party:
Slaughto – Level 3 human barbarian
Sallese – Level 2 Pixie-Faerie rogue
William the Bloody – Level 3 human cleric NPC
Dobin – Level 1 human fighter NPC
Jimmy’s Guy – human torchbearer NPC
Jimmy’s Other Guy – human torchbearer NPC
Mothy – Sallese’s giant moth mount
After clearing out the salamander and frogman lair last session, Armass the archaeologist referred the proprietor of AnteVellum, a rare book store, to Slaughto for some assistance. The book dealer acquired a map to the Hidden Tomb of Slaggoth the Necromancer (check it out at http://www.PapersPencils.com
). He believed Slaggoth’s tomb contained a particularly rare book he had been seeking for years. The dealer offered the map to Slaughto in exchange for the party collecting the book for him. The adventure hook having been received, it was time to reassemble the band and head off for the dungeon.
Jimmy the torch bearer decided to take the party’s offer to pay for training him as a fighter, so he was unavailable. However, he did get the party in touch with another torch bearer (Jimmy’s Other Guy). He also connected Slaughto with Sallese, a local thief connected with the Gambini crime family. William the Bloody and Dobin were back on board.
The tomb was located at the base of the mountains to the west of Chance Prison. The obligatory wandering monster encounter on the way to the dungeon was an owl bear. Pixie-faeries are immune to surprise, so the party had some notice. Unfortunately for Slaughto, the owl bear won initiative and hit him with 2 claws and a bite and caught the barbarian in a bear hug for massive damage. Sallese poured dust on the owlbear’s head, blinding and infuriating it so that it released Slaughto. The party then hacked the unfortunate beast apart. After a short debate, the party decided not to seek out the owlbear’s lair and instead headed for the tomb (no treasure for you!).
The tomb itself lies deep within a cave. The party was spotted as it arrived at the cave mouth. The hidden goblin sentries released a pack of 8 wolves that charged the party. Mothy was taken down by a leaping wolf and Jimmy’s Guy was quickly devoured. Sallese was pinned under the carcass of her giant moth mount and in a fair bit of trouble. She used her ability to cast faerie phantom and created a small troupe of illusionary fairies to distract the wolves while she crawled out to safety. The party finished off the wolves, but was seriously wounded by the end of the fight. They retreated a few miles off and camped for the night.
The party spent a down day healing up, then headed back to the dungeon after sleeping and reloading on spells.
This time the party spotted a goblin sentry and chased him into the dungeon. They did not go far into the cave complex before running into a small horde of goblins. The party did a nice job of wading through the humanoids, but made an unfortunate decision to split the party once the combat was over. They left Dobin and Jimmy’s Other Guy to watch over a captured gobin while the rest of the party explored the side cave where the goblins came from. All it took was one unfortunate wandering monster check to introduce the PCs to the price of splitting the party. The PCs and William heard cries of pain from Dobin and rushed back to find Dobin going to down to an attack by a wandering group of goblin guards. They slaughtered those goblins, too, but the party once again found itself depleted of healing and with an unconscious NPC to deal with. Time to head back to town to restock on rations.
That was it for the session. It was a fairly short one as we started a little late and took a fair bit of time rolling up Sallese at the beginning.Kills:
1 owlbear, 8 wolves, 20 goblinsGains:
31 sp, a wedding gown worth 20 gpLosses:
Jimmy’s Guy, Mothy the giant moth mount
Sun Jul 20, 2014 1:56 am
Game Session – July 12, 2014
Slaughto – Level 3 human barbarian
William the Bloody – Level 3 human cleric NPC
Dobin – Level 1 human fighter NPC
Ralf – Level 2 half-orc fighter NPC
Mikey – Level 2 half-orc fighter NPC
Jimmy’s Other Guy – human torchbearer NPC
Screech – human torchbearer NPC
We were back to a one player party again. My wife wasn’t in the mood to play, so Sallese sat this one out. My other players were unavailable for a variety of reasons. Flixis’s player should be available regularly by the end of August which is exciting. Invincible Overlord will hopefully be making the trek to the Quad Cities for another game session soon. In the meantime, the adventure must go on.
This was another inefficient, but enjoyable, session. Slaughto’s player is my dad. We spent at least half of the game session chatting about non-game stuff. As with many groups, the social aspect of the game is a very large part of what keeps us coming back to gaming again and again.
We finished last session with the party back in Rotter recuperating from its first foray into the Hidden Tomb of Slaggoth the Necromancer. Slaughto checked on Jimmy’s progress in training to become a classed fighter. Jimmy was still hard at work studying his new trade, but was able to refer some more connections to fill out the party. This time, Jimmy sent a pair of half-orc brothers, Ralf and Mikey. Ralf is a spear specialist with a presumably magical spear (the spear’s head glows at Ralf’s command). Mikey is a battle axe specialist. William the Bloody and his initiate Dobin were back for more action. Finally, Jimmy sent a new torchbearer to replace Jimmy’s Guy. Screech is a down on his luck human with obvious mental health issues. He spends all of his time looking around at nothing, apparently experiencing a variety of hallucinations. The party took Screech under its collective wing.
The party headed back to the Hidden Tomb. They had missile weapons ready for a change and quickly sniped the goblin standing lookout at the cave entrance. As a result, they managed to enter the Tomb without alerting its inhabitants. Sadly, they also triggered their first trap and alerted the dungeon’s denizens anyway. Slaughto stumbled through a trip wire that dumped trash on a hibernating bear. The bear charged the party noisily and did a fine job of mauling one of the half-orc brothers before being cut down. Slaughto dispensed the last of his extra healing potions to get the NPC back up to strength.
From there, the party probed deeper into the cave complex. They spotted a grim reaper statue carved into the back of the next cave. They shot it with a couple arrows. This caused a breeze to blow from the statue’s mouth carrying a raspy voice saying, “Let glass be tested by steel when your death appears. Only then will you have your reward.”
This cave was covered in rubbish. The party got a modest haul of treasure searching through the debris, including a scroll of fireball, a magical rusted dagger, and jewelry and coins.
The party continued deeper into the caverns and came to an enormous chasm. A rope bride extended over the chasm into the darkness. The cavern map is linear, so the party had no choice but to turn back or cross the bridge. Slaughto took the lead with the half-orcs following him. The bridge was around 70 feet long. When Slaughto reached the other side, Kerg the Man Crusher, a large ogre with an enormous great sword, stepped forward from the darkness and attacked. Slaughto, Mikey, and Ralf were more than Kerg could handle and the ogre made a run for it after a few rounds. Slaughto cut him down from behind. Things were looking up for the party when suddenly a ballista bolt shot out of the darkness to the south and made massive hole in Mikey’s chest. Slaughto threw Mikey over his shoulder and he and Ralf fled back across the rope bridge. Another ballista bolt narrowly missed Slaughto as they reached the other side of the chasm and the party fled the dungeon.
The party camped a short distance away and spent several days healing up from the damage caused by the bear, Kerg, and the mysterious ballista. Upon returning, the party charged across the rope bridge, turned south, and came upon three goblins manning a swivel-mounted ballista in the dark. They cut down the goblins in quick order, then continued deeper into the dungeon. Kerg’s body had been removed, so the party lost out on any loot they might have recovered from killing the ogre.
The party came up a 20-30 foot wide pond. On the far side, there was a pile of gold-colored stones. Slaughto tested the waters by tapping the surface with his foot. This stirred four giant frogs hiding in the water. They attacked and a rough combat ensued. Both half-orcs were near death multiple times as the frogs tried to swallow them. Ralf was actually successfully swallowed, but Dobin cut him out of the frog’s belly before it was too late. After defeating the frogs, Slaughto tried to lasso the golden stones across the pond. When the rope hit the stones, yellow dust poofed into the air around the stones. Slaughto hauled the rope back and found the loop had yellow dust on it. Some of the dust got on his hand and started to burn his skin badly. He tried various things to remove the burning dust before finally putting his hand to the torch. That stopped the yellow dust in its tracks.
That was it for the party. They were heavily damaged from the frog encounter and were out of healing, so they headed back to Rotter to end the session.
Next time they should reach the heart of the Tomb and clear it out. We may be able to move on to a new adventure as well.
Kills: Bear, Kerg the Man Crusher, 3 goblins, 4 giant frogs, yellow mold, and 5 wandering goblins cut down on the party’s way out of the dungeon
Gains: 59 sp, 22 gp, copper necklace worth 30 gp, scroll of fireball, rusted magical dagger of throwing
Losses: None. It was a Christmas miracle. Both torchbearers survived the adventure unharmed.
Sun Aug 10, 2014 2:13 am
Game Session – August 9, 2014
The Final Assault on the Hidden Tomb of Slaggoth the Necromancer
Slaughto – Level 3 human barbarian
Shylock Banquo – Level 3 gnome illusionist
Kharl Magneson – Level 3 dwarven cleric (follows the Great Dwarven God)
William the Bloody – Level 3 human cleric NPC
Dobin – Level 1 human fighter NPC
Ralf – Level 2 half-orc fighter NPC
Mikey – Level 2 half-orc fighter NPC
Jimmy’s Other Guy – human torchbearer NPC
We had a pleasantly large group today. Shylock’s player was back after missing several months due to coaching one of his daughter’s softball teams. I bumped his PC up to level 3 so he could remain relevant within the group. Invincible Overlord made the 2 hour trip to my house again, so Kharl was on board. The PCs brought along the usual entourage of NPCs, although they left Screech the Torchbearer behind to survive on his own on the mean streets of Rotter.
The party finished restocking supplies and headed back to the Hidden Tomb of Slaggoth the Necromancer for a final assault. They reached the rope bridge without incident, but came under ballista fire once again. Slaughto and Mikey charged across the bridge and cut down the goblins manning the ballista. They cut the string on the ballista to disable in it hopes of being able to haul it back to town as treasure later.
The party continued on past the frog pond and found an abandoned goblin guard post in a side cave. Unfortunately for the party, they did not bother to carefully search around the pesky stalagmites hiding the goblin guards.
The party continued deeper into the cave complex and came to a couple fortified guard posts with goblin archers shielded by low barricades. The party charged with goblins and left Dobin behind to guard the rear. Within a couple rounds, they heard Dobin’s screams as he was attacked from behind by the goblin guards they did not detect at the not-so-abandoned guard outpost. After much hacking, all of the goblins were defeated.
The party continued on (despite being low on healing) and came to the heart of the goblin infestation. The remaining goblins (with many females and young) were living in a moderate-sized cavern. At the far end of the cavern was an eight foot wall on top of which a large ogre wielding a wand and two more ballistae were mounted. The ogre used the wand to fire a lightning bolt at the party as it entered the goblin den, singing Slaughto, Ralf, and Dobin. The party dodged the ballista fire and charged in.
Slaughto went straight for the ogre. He made it up a rickety wooden ladder just in time to be struck by another lightning bolt. His charred and unconscious body fell back off the ledge and the barbarian was out for this fight. The rest of the party hacked its way through the goblins. The ogre tried another lightning bolt, but the wand was out of charges and he switched to javelins. Shylock cast a spell causing a halo of fog to form around the ogre’s head so that the ogre was blinded. The ogre dropped pretty quickly after that as William, Ralf, and Mikey engaged it. Despite some pretty bad attack rolls, the party mowed through the rest of the male goblins. They quickly slaughtered the females and welps while Kharl healed Slaughto up to consciousness.
The party decided to rest up for a couple days in the goblin encampment before pressing on with full hit points and spells. There was a set of steel double doors with a skull face carved into them. Slaughto pulled on the teeth and opened the doors, revealing a new section of dungeon. The walls were a queasy purple with smooth surfaces and sharp corners. The floor was covered with black tiles bordered by white grout. Skulls were painted on every third or fourth tile. A staircase led down from the double doors with a another door at the foot of the stairs.
The party went down and through the door finding the ogres’ dining room. A final, ginormous ogre (Raxla the Marrow Muncher) surprised Kharl with a swing from a massive axe from around a corner. Raxla was significantly tougher than her allies. While the party cut her down, Dobin triggered a spiked pit trap and fell below 0 hit points before being recovered from the pit. The party was out of healing after caring for the PCs and NPCs wounded by Raxla, so they left Dobin bandaged, but unconscious, on the ogre’s table.
There were three doors leading out of the dining room. The first led to the Window Room. Glass display cases in each corner contained three attractive men and a woman under a stasis spell. Three of the walls had enormous windows looking down at planets from space. The PCs didn’t really know what they were looking at, but certainly the windows did not show the rocky underground the chamber should have been surrounded by. The party decided not to play with anything in the Window Room until they had healed up and restored spells. They decided to try another door and found the ogres’ pantry. They found a few pieces of miscellaneous treasure and a bunch of unpleasant food stuffs.
The party rested for a couple of days and then tackled the third door. It led to an Octagonal Mirror room. There was a low pedestal in the center of the room and there were mirrors lining all of the walls. The mirrors reflected everything in the room except for the party. They party tried various experiments with the mirrors and pedestal, but were pretty lost. They went back to the Window Room and tried smashing the display cases open. This revived the three men and the woman. The men were Slaggoth’s concubines and the woman, Mertegram, was her apprentice. They were interred with Slaggoth’s body as one of Slaggoth’s dying wishes. Two of the men and Mertegram were thrilled to have escaped their fate. The third concubine was furious at the party for thwarting Slaggoth’s wishes. He was quickly beaten unconscious and tied up. The other two concubines fled the dungeon.
Mertegram offered to assist the party in exploring the rest of the Tomb in exchange for an equal share of the treasure. The party wasn’t thrilled with that arrangement. She offered to work for a half share plus Slaggoth’s spellbook. The party really didn’t like that idea, so they agreed to give Mertegram a full share of the treasure.
Everyone returned to the Mirror Room. This time, Shylock tried standing on the pedestal. This caused the mirrors to show his reflection, but with a twist. Each mirror showed Shylock at a different stage of life: fetus, baby, young child, adolescent, young adult, middle aged, elderly, and a rotting corpse.
The party thought back to the false clue it got from the grim reaper statue last session: Let glass be tested by steel when your death appears. Only then will you have your reward.
The statute gave this false clue to the party because it show the statue with arrows rather than kneeling before it respectfully. The true clue would have been Turn not from your death; embrace it and you will have what you seek.
Relying on the false clue, the party smashed the mirror reflecting Shylock’s rotting corpse. This caused a random roll on the Low Mortality Table to see how Shylock was affected. Shylock’s skin and hair became reflective. Any nearby light is now reflected off his exposed flesh, making it almost impossible to hide.
As the module was written, it would now be impossible to open the secret door behind the rotting corpse mirror. That didn’t seem like a fun option, so I gave all of the party members a chance to detect the secret door and figure out how to open it. The only one who was successful was Mertegram. She told the party she found the door and could open it, but she would only do so if they agreed to give her Slaggoth’s spell book. The party refused. Mertegram tried to leave, but the party took her captive. They spent the night in the dining room so Kharl could take detect secret doors the next morning. That spell got the party through the secret door.
This led the party to the crypt room with Slaggoth’s corpse. Her sarcophagus rested on a raised dais at the back of the crypt. Six pillars running through the room had statues of skeletons carved into them. Slaughto had the bright idea to tie ropes around each of the statues legs just in case the statutes became animated. (Spoiler alert: Very good decision!)
Kharl tried sliding the lid off the sarcophagus. This caused the six stone skeleton golems to animate, just as Slaughto fears. The golems all toppled over due to the ropes. Most of the party charged into the room for what proved to be a brutal encounter. Invincible Overlord displayed one of the most spectacularly awful series of dice rolls in the history of RPGs. Rolling for Kharl and some of the NPCs, I think he may have had one successful hit in probably 20+ rounds of combat. The golems quickly gained the upper hand on the party. William and Mikey were forced to release Mertegram so they could join the melee. Shylock tried one of his offensive spells, but the golems were immune. Unfortunately, he had taken an array of offensive spells this day and did not take any cure light wounds.
First Slaughto was taken out, then Kharl, then William (no more healing), then Dobin. The golems’ high hit dice coupled with high AC almost PTKd the party. At the last minute, the party rallied and Ralf and Mikey started hitting. The final golems fell and the NPCs began bandaging all of the fallen.
It took a week, but eventually everyone was healed up and spells fully reloaded. They had no sign from Mertegram. Kharl fired off detect magic and detect secret doors in the crypt. The sarcophagus radiated magic and a secret door lit up. The party searched the sarcophagus and found a switch under Slaggoth’s body. Flipping the switch opened the secret door and revealed a false bottom to the sarcophagus. Shylock found Slaggoth’s spell book under the false bottom.
The secret door led to Slaggoth’s treasure room and the party finally located the haul of its dreams. They gathered up a small fortune in loot and headed back to town. Magic items were identified and either retained or sold. All told, each party member’s share (excluding Jimmy’s Other Guy who was paid 50 gp for his troubles) came to 4,941 gold pieces! The party also retained a staff of striking and a ring of sustenance. Shylock took the staff which operates as a +3 staff (as an illusionist, he cannot activate its other properties). It automatically shrank to fit his gnomish size. Slaughto kept the ring. The wearer does not need to eat, drink, or breathe while wearing the ring, although it will eventually cause the bearer to appear gaunt with grayish skin.
The treasure and XP allowed each of the PCs to level up to 4th level and they are all well on their way to 5th level. Training cost each of them 3,000 gp, so their massive haul of loot shrank a bit. Kharl used the rest of his winnings to commission a +1 medium shield and a set of dwarf size full plate (very expensive as a custom job – most armor is human-sized).
The world had continued to spin while the party was away looting the Tomb. Some updates:
1. A rival party of PCs cleared out Chance Prison. The party’s leader, Baron Wasteland, was given a land grant by the Rotter City Council making him lord of several square miles of land surrounding the prison.
2. Baron Wasteland sent an invitation to Slaughto and his guests to attend the Baron’s barbarian-themed party. Slaughto is to be the guest of honor should he choose to attend.
3. The Pain God’s clerics finally arrived in Rotter and razed the false temple. They left a letter for Slaughto thanking him for his assistance and gave him a pin proclaiming him a Friend of Pain.
4. Lovelip flowers have become all the rage amongst Rotter’s wealthy and elite. These flowers only grow in the Wild and acquiring them is fraught with peril. A gallant knight braved many deadly threats to bring back a single flower for his lady. The story spread through the city, causing city’s lady-folk to swoon. Now, the men-folk of the city are paying many a gold and platinum to get lovelip flowers for their wives and lovers. City florists are paying outrageous sums to anyone who can supply the flowers. Rumor has it lovelips grow wild in the mountains where the party has been adventuring lately.
5. River traffic has been disrupted lately. Some trade vessels sailing south down the River to Rotter have disappeared. No one knows where exactly the ships have vanished or why, but investigators have narrowed the area down to a 20-30 mile stretch of the River. There is an island in the middle of this section with an abandoned and ruined keep on it. Has someone occupied the keep and started raiding the River’s merchant traffic?
6. The mayoral election is coming up fast. City officials have offered to hire the party to serve as security when transporting ballots from polling stations to City Hall where the ballots will be counted.
The party has not responded to the job offer nor Baron Wasteland’s invitation. We’ll see which way they decide to go next session.
Kills: 28 goblins, 22 noncombatant goblins, Ragnef the Ash Maker, Raxla the Marrow Muncher, 6 stone golem skeletons
Gains: Miscellaneous coinage, 4 fancy gowns (100 gp each), 12 books on undead anatomy (25 gp each), cursed cloak (2,000 gp), 2 casks of elven sun wine aged 200 years (300 gp each), 7 ornamental staves (80 gp each), staff of striking, 5 pearls (40 gp each), wand of cone of cold (15,000 gp), wand of lightning (10,000 gp), ring of sustenance, vase depicting burial rights (80 gp), bejeweled skull that whispers necromantic secrets (3,000 gp), wolf pelts (300 gp), bear furs (300 gp), red sash of office (80 gp), fancy pearl (200 gp), fancy case for fancy pearl (15 gp), Slaggoth’s spell book (2,000 gp), pin declaring Friend of Pain status, invitation to Baron Wasteland’s “Barbarian Ball”
Losses: Shylock now has reflective skin and hair; anonymity – The party’s treasure haul was quite conspicuous. All of the party’s NPCs have been referred by Jimmy who is affiliated with Vincent Gambini crime family. Will the citizens of Rotter start to associate with party with the Gambinis as well? Is that a good or a bad thing?
Shockingly, the party has now gone 2 game sessions without an NPC death.
Sun Aug 10, 2014 2:04 pm
I forgot to add what happened to Mertegram. On the way out of the dungeon, the party found her dessicated and mangled corpse on the far side of the rope bridge. There was a goblin sword next to her. The party surmised she had been waiting to try blackmailing the party to get Slaggoth's spell book. If the party did not turn over the book, she would cut the rope bridge and strand the party on the ogre side of the chasm. Unfortunately for her, the party spent a full week resting up in the dungeon and something ate her while she was waiting. Her body had fang marks on it and was completely drained of fluids. The party suspects a vampire. Actually, the culprit was the giant spider that lives in the dungeon. It evaded the party during their second foray into the dungeon, but it got very hungry when all of the goblins disappeared. Poor Mertegram.
I think I have finally resolved the Jimmy Conundrum. I had a variety of plans in mind for Jimmy when I created him, but the party was really excited about getting him training to be a fighter. After considering a bunch of options, I finally decided my players will probably enjoy the game most if their hopes and dreams for Jimmy mostly come true. So, Jimmy is being retroconned to be an ordinary human NPC with connections to the Vinnie Gambini crime syndicate. He will not be a fighter, however. Instead, he is just wrapping up his training as an assassin. The Family will use him as a cleaner and let him freelance with the party.
Sun Aug 31, 2014 4:24 pm
Game Session – August 30, 2014
Flowers & Fiends
Slaughto – Level 4 human barbarian
Kharl Magneson – Level 4 dwarven cleric of the Great Dwarven God
Flixis – Level 4 half-elf rogue
William the Bloody – Level 3 human cleric of the Blood God (NPC)
Jimmy – Level 2 human cleaner (NPC)
Fraz and Spaz – human torchbearers (NPCs)
Flixis was back with the party for this session as his player’s non-gaming summer activities have resolved and he will hopefully be regularly available for the next year or so. I bumped him up to 4th level so he would fit in with the rest of the PCs.
Jimmy finally completed his training and signed on with the party for the session. He sheepishly told Slaughto he did not actually get training as a fighter. Instead, he has trained to become a freelance cleaner for the Vincent Gambini crime syndicate. When he isn’t tied up with his cleaning duties, he is available to adventure with the party.
The PCs decided to pursue the lovelips hook from the end of last session. Not knowing when the market will inevitably fall out from under the lovelip market, they felt they needed to strike while the iron was hot. They bought a wagon, pony, and some gardening equipment, and headed for the mountains north of Rotter.
This was a day of many, many wandering monsters. On the 3 day journey to the mountains, the party was first attacked by a wandering wyvern. Jimmy took a vicious stinger wound to the gut on the wyvern’s first pass over the party. On its second pass, Kharl hit it with a sound burst. The poor wyvern failed its wisdom saved and was stunned for one round. Not a good state of affairs when you are a flying monster hurtling toward the ground at max speed. The wyvern crashed into Kharl and Fraz, squishing Fraz into jelly. The rest of the party swarmed the wyvern and quickly hacked it to pieces before it had a fighting chance. So much for the party’s 2 game streak of not getting an NPC killed.
The next night, the party heard two hill giants approaching from the north along the trail they had been following. The party quickly staged an ambush, although Kharl didn’t have time to put on his full plate mail. The fight proved very challenging for the party, but they came through without any deaths. Sadly, the giants had minimal treasure on them. In the morning, the party tried to track the giants back to their lair (acting on the assumption the giants had been coming from their lair when they approached the party). The party was able to follow the giants’ steps for about a mile, but lost the trail when the giants entered the woods.
Safely into the mountains, the party began looking around for lovelip flowers. After two days of searching, they found a meadow of the lucrative plants surrounding a mausoleum. The mausoleum was about 25 feet tall and made of black stone with ancient religious symbols written upon it. Gargoyle figures lined the edge of the roof.
Much to my surprise, the party ignored the gargoyles and fixated on possible threats coming out of the mausoleum. They quickly spiked the doors shut (they opened outward) while the gargoyles swooped down on them with surprise.
The fight with the four gargoyles was particularly rough. I was afraid I set the party up for a TPK. C&C gargoyles can be hit by non-magical weapons, but they have four attacks per round (2 claws, a gore, and a bite). The gargoyles were fighting like Cuisinarts early on, but gradually the monsters’ dice cooled and party starting making a comeback. A successful hold person spell from William gave some more breathing room as the party finished off the gargoyles.
Slaughto and Flixis climbed to the top of the mausoleum for a look around and found the gargoyles’ treasure hoard. Mostly loose coins and three expertly crafted weapons.
They spent the rest of the day healing and resting. During the night, the party was awakened by a horrible metallic shrieking as the spiked door was forced open. 8 zombies and 3 ghouls swarmed out to feast on the adventurers. Depressingly, the clerics managed to turn all of them. The monsters fled back into the mausoleum. The party stood at the entrance and picked them off with arrows. Having cleared out the undead, the party got a look at the mausoleum’s interior. It was a wide open chamber with two stone sarcophagi in the middle. The walls had various evil religious symbols and the back wall featured an upside down holy symbol of the Great Dwarven God. The party was not prepared to screw with the mausoleum, so they respiked the door and went back to sleep.
In the morning, they took a closer look at the sarcophagi. Each had a seal that radiated goodness. The sarcophagi themselves radiated evil as did the dwarven holy symbol. Jimmy was able to decipher some of the script on one sarcophagus. It said something to the effect of “Suffer here forever and leave the world in peace.” The party debated breaking the seals to see what was inside, but decided to wait. Kharl did try to reorient the upside down dwarven holy symbol. He made three attempts. Each time he failed a saving throw and was zapped for progressively larger damage (1d8 the first time, 2d8 the second, and 3d8 the third). He gave up at that point. William suggested a remove curse spell might be effective, but neither cleric was high enough level to cast it.
The part loaded up the wagon with lovelip plants and headed for Rotter. Another wandering monster check brought two more giants during the night, this time coming from the south. The party again staged an ambush and again narrowly survived the encounter. Again, no real treasure.
The party made it back to town and unloaded their plants for 3,000 gold. The successful floral adventure concluded, the party weighed its options and decided to go back to the mausoleum to tackle the sarcophagi. The players suspected the sarcophagi contained vampires, but wanted to tackle them anyway. Fortunately for them, there were not vampires in the sarcophagi (which likely would have been a TPK for the party). Instead, they contained brights. Brights are a variation on a wight. Unlike wights, they can be hit by non-magical weapons, but they do not suffer any ill effects from exposure to sunlight. They can most readily be distinguished from wights by their golden or blond hair.
While regrouping in Rotter, Fraz’s mother came inquiring about her poor son.
Kharl: He didn’t make it.
Mom: Oh, gods no!
Kharl: These things happen.
Mom: Where is his body? He needs a proper burial.
Kharl: Oh, we gave him a proper burial close to where he fell. Full dwarven rights and all. (Lies, all lies.)
Mom: Oh. (She shambled along.)
The party decided to bring more meat shields and a bunch of holy water with them. Flixis’s player had to leave, so the rogue was out for this mission.
The New Party:
William the Bloody
Jimmy the Cleaner
Mikey – Level 2 half-orc fighter NPC
Ralf – Level 2 half-orc fighter NPC
Spaz – human torchbearer NPC
Kharl was a little nervous about how his deity would feel about his lies concerning Fraz’s burial, so the party located Fraz’s body on the way to the mausoleum and gave him a proper (if delayed) burial.
More wandering monster checks brought more giants passing the party’s campsite in the night. This encounter was just north of the farmland surrounding Rotter. The party decided not to mess with the giants and hid. They saw three giants passing north, this time with a few cows and pigs under their arms.
The following day brought more wandering monsters, this time two manticores swooping down at the party. They got off a good barrage of tail spikes on their first pass (Kharl took a good 15 in damage), but the clerics hit them with sound bursts on their second pass. Much like the wyvern, the manticores failed their saves, were stunned, and plummeted to the ground where the party quickly hacked them apart.
Back at the mausoleum, the party found that something had been inside while they were away. The inside of the mausoleum appeared unchanged. Kharl decided to make another run at the dwarven unholy symbol. This time he tried turning it upright using a tree branch. One failed save later and he took 4d8 damage. That required a night of rest to get healed back up.
In the morning, Kharl tried a consecrate spell. That caused a flash of light and a loud *crack* sound. The spell evidently canceled out a previous desecrate spell. The dwarven symbol fell off the wall and no longer radiated as evil. Kharl voted for resting up another night and reloading spell (he had only used the one spell for the day), but the barbarian was tired of waiting and insisted they open a sarcophagus.
The party members surrounded the eastern sarcophagus, each one holding a vial of holy water. Kharl smashed the seal with his hammer. The lid to the sarcophagus exploded upward. No one took damage, the concussive force pushed everyone back a step. Along with a gazillion pieces of stone, a bright launched out of the sarcophagus as well. It landed between William and Jimmy.
The party pelted the bright with holy water, causing sizzling damage. Amazingly, Kharl did not try to turn undead. That put me in a quandary as the GM since I had to decide what William would do. I decided he would follow Kharl’s lead and attack instead of attempting a turn.
The melee went poorly for William. The bright clawed him some moderate damage and William was drained of a level of experience. He screamed and fell back. The rest of the party managed to kill the bright without anyone else being struck.
That was enough for the party. They had no interest in opening the other sarcophagus. They packed up and headed home.
The first night brought three wandering monsters. I didn’t have the heart to hit them with all three, so they only faced two. The first were a couple of wandering owlbears. The owlbears caught the party’s scent and smashed into the campsite. Usually owlbears and frogs and devastating opponents for the party, but they fared better this time. The second set of wandering monsters was 5 goblins. No one but Slaughto wanted to waste their time on the goblins, so he charged in alone. The goblins rolled incredibly well and slashed Slaughto up pretty badly in the few rounds it took him to wipe them out. He had to use 1-1/3 potions of extra-healing. He recovered 8 copper and a silver piece. Not a very good exchange for the potions that cost him 700 gp each. Kharl snickered thoroughly upon his return.
The party made it back to the farms outside Rotter without further trouble. They decided to check with some of the farms to see if giant activity has been a problem. One farmer told them occasionally giants raid the farms at night and take livestock. The party offered to eliminate the giants if the farmers would pool their resources for a reward. The farmer said he figured he and his neighbors could probably come up 25 gps. The party was frustrated that their attempt to shake down the local populace wasn’t more lucrative and headed into town.
That was it for the night. The party did accept Baron Wasteland’s invitation to the Barbarian Ball. They are also planning on tracking down the hill giant lair next session.
Kills: 4 hill giants, 1 wyvern, 4 gargoyles, 8 zombies, 3 ghouls, 2 manticores, 1 bright, 2 owlbears, 5 goblins
Gains: Around 3,500 in gold pieces. 3 expertly crafted weapons. Wagon and pony.
Losses: One level of cleric. Fraz the torchbearer.
Sun Sep 21, 2014 8:08 pm
Game Session – September 20, 2014
Rage on the River
Slaughto – level 4 human barbarian
Kharl Magneson – level 4 dwarven cleric of the Great Dwarven God
Nork Norkson – Kharl’s henchman, a level 3 dwarven cleric of the Great Dwarven God NPC
Shylock Banquo – level 4 gnome illusionist
Jimmy – level 3 human assassin NPC
Ralf – level 3 half-orc fighter NPC
Mikey – level 3 half-orc fighter NPC
1. The market having fallen out of the lovelip market, the party was in need of a new source of adventure. They decided to wait until higher level before tracking down the hill giant lair. The disappearing river traffic sounded more viable. I adapted the adventure from the 2013 Gary Con C&C tournament.
2. The party went down to the docks to hire a boat. They settled on the Sea Bitch captained by Capt. Krunch for 25 gp per day. Since this was likely to be a combat-related voyage, Capt. Krunch hired on sailors with combat experience and the party agreed to pay for any damages to the ship on top of the daily fee.
3. The Sea Bitch rowed north along the river (I should probably give it a name at some point) for two days. The morning of the third day dawned with thick fog. As the boat rowed along on still waters, the fog began to lift and the party saw a raiding boat rapidly approaching in an attempt to ram the Sea Bitch.
4. The Sea Bitch changed direction in an evasive maneuver as Kharl dropped a sound burst on the leading rowers. This stunned two of the rowers and prevented the attacking ship from ramming the Sea Bitch, but the attackers were able to pull alongside and toss grappling hooks.
5. The attackers were a raiding band of Hlubane orcs. For those readers without access to Monsters & Treasure of Aihrde, Hlubane orcs are a particularly tough and nasty breed of militant orcs. The standard Hlubanes have 2 hit dice and get +1/+1 on their attacks due to wicked strength. The most exotic of Hlubanes is the Bone Crusher, a massive 8 hit dice orc bred for insane battle rage. They have chains attached to each wrist that end in spiked balls. The balls normally are stored inside a massive iron ball that the Bone Crusher must carry around. When the time comes to send the Bone Crusher into battle, its handler utters a command word that pops open the iron ball and releases the Bone Crusher to charge into melee. The raiding vessel had 11 Hlubane orcs, a Bone Crusher, and its handler.
6. The party dumped most of its spell capacity into the fight. The Bone Crusher went straight for Slaughto as the biggest PC. A combination of Slaughto’s bastard sword, illusionist attacks, and timely cure spells eventually assured the PCs of the victory. Slaughto aside, the party came out of the fight in much better shape than normal, but the Sea Bitch lost 4 of its rowers. Party members filled in at the oars for the rest of the adventure.
7. As the fog cleared, the party finally saw the island with the abandoned fort. The beach on the shore had a low wall with a line of more Hlubane orcs armed with crossbows. The party was out of spells and healing, so they decided to haul the raiding boat away and look around the island’s perimeter.
8. The party found an old, rotting dock on the opposite side of the island. After spending a couple days healing up and regaining spells, they docked and headed inland. They did not encounter any orc resistance which was puzzling until two river trolls attacked. The trolls did a fine job of chewing on Slaughto and Kharl before finally dropping and being burned. The party limped back to the Sea Bitch and spent two more days recovering.
9. On day 7, the party made another run at the island. They were spared further troll ambushes this time and eventually made their way to the abandoned keep. Slaughto and Jimmy scouted it out by climbing a nearby cliff and the walls of the keep respectively. The keep itself was a circular wall enclosing a large interior courtyard. Most of the interior structures had rotted away over the years and the courtyard was filled with rubble from collapsing stone walls. There was a large sinkhole in the center of the courtyard. They could not see anyone in the courtyard, but they did see what looked to be a capped stone well to the northeast of the keep. For some reason, they never investigated (and thus lost out on a chance to sneak into the keep through the secret back entrance).
10. The party entered the keep through the gatehouse. Jimmy took the lead and scouted ahead around the inside perimeter of the keep’s wall. Without warning, an arm and knife reached around Jimmy’s throat and pulled Jimmy into darkness. The party rushed forward and found Jimmy’s corpse in the shadows along the interior wall. They caught a glimpse of his attacker running through the rubble ahead. Kharl hit him with a sound burst, but he vanished into the shadows of the rubble.
11. The party proceeded cautiously, thus giving the 3 crna ruk hiding in the rubble time to case them and unleash assassination attempts. (For those without M&T of A, crna ruk are basically a race of assassins with a wide variety of abilities for higher HD examples. The crna ruk here were low hit dice.) Nork Norkson took a poisoned crossbow bolt to the eye and fell dead. Bolts aimed for Ralf and Slaughto missed. The freaked out looks on some of the players’ faces were priceless. Assassination is a really nasty ability to unleash on the players.
12. Once the crna ruk were exposed, the party quickly beat the hell out of them.
13. There was a door leading into a surviving building along the keep wall, but the party didn’t feel up to exploring further. They grabbed the bodies of their dead and hurried back to the Sea Bitch.
14. While the party healed up on day 8, they saw another raiding vessel come around the island toward the ruined dock where Sea Bitch was anchored. The vessel turned around and headed back the way it came.
15. On day 9, the party approached the keep again. They saw a line of Hlubane orcs manning the walls this time. Shylock cast invisibility on himself and Slaughto and they sneaked into through the gatehouse to scout. They found 4 more Hlubane orcs, another Bone Crusher, and its handler. The party didn’t feel up to it with their current resources, so they headed back to the Sea Bitch and back to Rotter to regroup.
16. When word spread back in Rotter of what the party found, the Rotter militia launched an expedition to the abandoned keep. They found the keep empty, but notably there was an abandoned temple to Unklar in the dungeons of the keep.
17. Having nothing better to do, Slaughto and Kharl went to Baron Wasteland’s barbarian ball (loyal readers will recall that Slaughto was invited as the guest of honor). The ball did not go as planned. The ball was in full swing when they arrived. 40 or 50 of Rotter’s upper crust were dressed in fur togas and carrying around clubs (basically dressed like cave men). Baron Wasteland greeted Slaughto, then proceeded to make snide remarks about the party’s adventure against the Hlubane orcs. As the other guests snickered and made private jokes to each other while staring at the PCs, Slaughto and Kharl realized the ball had been designed to mock them and they quickly left.
18. I was a little surprised that the players didn’t expect Baron Wasteland to be a villain. I mean, his name is Baron Wasteland. Doesn’t that sound evil?
19. Nork Norkson’s brother, Bork Borkson, offered his services as a replacement henchman to Kharl, so the party has another cleric to help out going forward.
20. For those wondering, William the Bloody has dropped out of action as he recovers from being level-drained by the bright last session.
We called it a night at that point. There are no immediate plans for what to do next, although I expect they will get an offer they can’t refuse from the head of the Rotter grounds department (a giant sunflower) next session.
Gains: None. (The Hlubane orcs recovered the raiding ship the party captured.)
Kills: 11 Hlubane orcs, 1 Bone Crusher, 1 Keeper of the Bone Crusher, 2 river trolls, 3 crna ruk
Losses: Jimmy, Nork Norkson, and 4 rowers
Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:37 pm
6 stone golem skeletons.. what are these??
How long is one of your sessions? You team reaps so much in one night...
Fri Oct 10, 2014 4:44 pm
Captain_K wrote:6 stone golem skeletons.. what are these??
How long is one of your sessions? You team reaps so much in one night...
The stone golem skeletons were a new monster in the module. The module was largely statless, so I made something up that I thought would be appropriate to the party's power level. They ended up being a little too powerful and I ended up fudging down their hit points mid-combat to give the party a fighting chance.
Our game sessions typically run somewhere in the range of 3-6 hours. Our productivity level varies dramatically from session to session.
When you say my team "reaps so much in one night" I'm not sure if you mean I'm giving out crap-loads of treasure per session or just that we accomplish a lot. Treasure has tended to be feast or famine. In terms of how much is accomplished, it seems to me like we don't get much done at all. Between party indecision and nerd discussions, a lot of time is lost regularly.
Sun Oct 26, 2014 10:44 pm
Game Session – October 25, 2014
Slaughto – Level 4 human barbarian
Edgar Philstone – Level 4 dwarven wizard
Shylock Banquo – Level 4 gnome illusionist
William the Bloody – Level 3 human cleric NPC
Mikey – Level 3 half-orc fighter NPC
Ralf – Level 3 half-orc fighter NPC
We brought a new player into the game this session. I met him at Xenocon a few weeks ago playing in one of Frank Mentzer’s games. He shares our love for old school RPGs and was eager to join the campaign. He is playing the party’s new wizard, Edgar.
William the Bloody was back with the party having recovered from his level drain at the bright crypt a few sessions ago.
The party was contracted a few sessions ago to provide security for the transportation of ballots from a precinct to city hall for the Rotter Mayoral election. The party agreed to guard the ballots from the start of voting until the party delivered them to the city clerk for the low low price of 2,000 gp. This session dealt exclusively with that mission.
The party decided to beef up their usual numbers by hiring a bunch of tough-looking meat shields. The plan was to have 10 0-level thugs and 1st level fighter types surround the core party members with an additional 10 archers stationed in the very front and back as well as in the middle of the party members.
After making arrangements for the NPCs to show up on election day, the party looked into securing permanent lodgings in Rotter (they have been living in inns to date). After a day of apartment hunting, they decided to rent a modest house that would accommodate all of the PCs for 300 gp per month. Their landlord, Mr. Roper, was pleased to have new tenants.
In the days leading up to the election, the PCs hung out at their preferred inn, the Filthy Unicorn (Evil Dick, proprietor). They were contacted by three separate shadowy figures who offered 5,000 gp bribes to get the party cooperate with a ballot inspection on the way to delivering the ballots to city hall. Much to my astonishment, the party turned all of the bribes down. (The players implied last session that they anticipated bribes and intended to accept at least one of them.)
Election Day itself went without a hitch. When the polls closed at 8 pm, the party headed out for city hall (3 miles away). The city streets were deserted (the locals no better than to get in the middle of electioneering). 10-15 minutes into the march, the party came to a group of 8 ogres who demanded the ballots. The party wizard tried a sleep spell, but that only knocked out the party’s archers in the first rank. While the ogres snickered, the wizard tried his fireball scroll.
C&C doesn’t specify what power level a scroll spell has. I run it so that a scroll’s spells go off at the level of the creator of the scroll. Edgar didn’t know what level scroll he was working with. In this case, it was a 10d6 fireball. All of the ogres (as well as the sleeping archers) were instantly vaporized. A neighboring building also caught fire. The party left two of their meat shields behind to deal with the fire and marched on (it took a few successful charisma checks to keep the NPCs together after the party incinerated the 3 archers).
The party was next attacked from behind by a necromancer and some ghouls and zombies. The necromancer fireballed the party (killing off almost all of the remaining meat shields and archers). The surviving party members made quick work of the villains. The ghouls rolled surprisingly poorly and weren’t much of a threat in the end.
The last ambush attempt was by 6 elven archers shooting down on the party from the top of buildings surrounding the party. The party relied on the remaining archers and some spells to take them out. I had expected them to rush into the buildings to charge up to the roofs to engage in melee combat. Had they done that, they would have been surprised by teams of forest dwarves waiting inside. Instead, the dwarves rushed out of the buildings to take on the party as the elven archers were wiped out. The dwarves were no match for the party’s fighter types and the combat ended quickly.
The only remaining encounters were remote. At one point the party heard a large explosion in the distance. A few minutes later the ground shook and pillars of fire burst out of sewer drains over several blocks near the party. It appeared other ballot escorts had tried to make it to city hall through the city’s sewers and encountered difficulties of their own.
The party delivered the ballots to the city clerk and collected their payment. The 2,000 gp didn’t come anywhere close to the amount the party paid for potions of extra healing and an elixir of badassery in preparation for the mission, but the players didn’t seem concerned.
I felt a little bad subjecting the party to such a linear adventure. I had expected them to accept at least one bribe which would have changed the dynamics of the gauntlet (and, if they took multiple bribes, would have resulted in longer term consequences).
Next session the party will be presented with an offer from the head of the Rotter Grounds Department, a giant sunflower.
Kills: 8 ogres, 1 necromancer, 3 ghouls, 3 zombies, 6 elven archers, 6 forest dwarves
Gains: 2,000 gp, potential enemies whose bribes were refused
Losses: 9 meat shields, 7 archers
Sun Nov 16, 2014 8:19 pm
Game Session – November 8, 2014
Many Gates of the Gann
Slaughto – Level 4 human barbarian
Flixis – Level 4 half-elven rogue
Edgar Philstone – Level 4 dwarven wizard
William the Bloody – Level 3 human cleric of the Blood God NPC
Ralf – Level 3 half-orc fighter NPC
Mikey – Level 3 half-orc fighter NPC
A couple days after the election (Mayor Benjamin won, by the way), the party was awakened by a knock on the front door of the house they are renting from Mr. Roper. The knocker was an elf from the Rotter Grounds Department. The party was summoned for a meeting with “The Master”. The players were game and followed along. The elf escorted them to the building housing the Rotter Grounds Department. The top floor was encased in glass and inhabited by a giant sunflower in a giant flower pot.
The giant sunflower (presumably The Master and head of the Grounds Department) asked the party to retrieve some seeds stolen by an evil tree in the woods north of Rotter. The tree is purportedly massive. The Master assured the party it had a way of getting the party inside the tree. From there, the party would have to improvise and find some way to locate and retrieve the seeds. It was early October in the game world. The Master wanted the party to wait until mid-December before embarking on the mission since the tree would not begin to fall asleep for winter until then.
In the meantime, The Master was willing to give the party its pay in advance. The pay consisted of a map to a dungeon location east of Rotter. The dungeon was well known to longer-lived types, but it is only rarely accessible. A pair of giant stone ape heads stand guard at the dungeon entrance and shoot eye beams that disintegrate any who dare approach. However, every so often the entrance opens and the giant ape heads stand down. Rumor has it a group of hyena men have been staging raids on nearby fishing villages from the dungeon. If the hyena men can get in and out, so can the party.
The Master pointed out that word on the street says a process server is trying to locate Edgar to serve him with lawsuit paperwork. Given that and the enemies the party made during the election, The Master suggested now might be a good time to get out of Rotter for a while. The party was up for it and prepared to leave town for a couple months.
After paying two months’ rent in advance, the party signed on with a merchant caravan heading east (the direction of the dungeon).
Although I recently stated in this journal that I at least intend to primarily run my own stuff, I am once again sending the party through a published adventure (in this case, Guy Fullerton’s Many Gates of the Gann). This module was well-reviewed by Bryce and sounded interesting, so I figured it would a good way to keep the game moving while I design the tree dungeon. The alternative was to improvise the tree dungeon and I really didn’t want to do that.
My one concern was the module contains quite a few monsters that can only be hit by magical weapons. The party has very few of those, so I needed to insert some into the party. I decided a raiding party should hit the caravan with a bandit leader equipped with a couple magic weapons. So, on night 3, the party’s rest was disturbed by a large group of bandits attacking up and down the caravan. The party’s sector was hit by something like 8 bandits with a 5th level leader. The leader had a glowing long sword, so the party had an obvious target. What I forgot to keep in mind when putting the encounter together on the spot was that most of the PCs were not wearing armor. Oops. We had our near-TPK encounter early this session. The fighting was particularly brutal with PCs and bandits dropping like flies. In the end the bandit leader and a wounded William the Bloody were left standing. I threw the party a break and ruled the bandit leader was going to try to swipe Ralf’s magical spear and get the heck out of there. William ran to Slaughto and poured a potion of extra-healing down his throat (William was out of spells). Slaughto popped up in time to fire a crossbow bolt into the bandit leader’s back, killing him. The party was fully healed up by the time the party reached their destination 7 days later.
The party set up a base of operation at the inn in a small fishing village along the coastline. The dungeon was a few hours’ march north. They followed the map provided by The Master and were in sight of the giant ape heads before lunch time. The door to the dungeon was cracked open. A couple wild apes were sitting in nearby trees staring at the entrance.
Player 1: Don’t apes live in tropical climates?
DM: They live in temperate forests, too.
Player 2: No they don’t. They live in jungles.
DM: Well, these apes live in this forest.
Firk ding blast players!
The party headed into the dungeon with a couple local yokels serving as torch bearers. Just inside the entrance, there was a hole in the wall with a shaft imbedded inside about a foot deep. Slaughto started playing with it and discovered the shaft could be turned clockwise and counter-clockwise. He twisted the shaft a quarter turn clockwise at which point a vicious blade swung through his forearm. Well, part-way through his forearm. He made his save and only took moderate damage instead of losing the limb. He cleaned up as much of the blood as he could for some reason, then the party shut the door to the dungeon and headed in.
Edgar’s player arrived for the game about this time. His PC hadn’t been in the game until he got here. We adjusted the party’s marching order and continued with him in place. I kind of understand why some verisimilitude purists get worked up over this sort of thing, but at the end of the day I’m here to have fun with my players, not make them wait until the party to return to town before a late player’s PC can join in the fun. Poof! he’s there and everything worked just fine.
The party managed to clear out a few rooms before the session ended. The first combat encounter was with a Cifal. The module uses a LOT of monsters from the Fiend Folio, so if you’re a FF fan, this is the module for you. I discovered that I don’t actually have a copy of the Fiend Folio, so that forced me to improvise. Some of the FF monsters have been converted to C&C and I also had access to the Tome of Horrors Complete. None of my books had a Cifal in it. The illustration in the module looked like a black, humanoid ghost like thing made up of lots of dirt or something. The stat line gave two hit dice stats (8 and 2) and two hit point totals (50 and 9). I decided the cifal is a giant bug monster made up of swarms of insects forming a humanoid shape with some sort of slug monster at the core controlling things. That seemed to fit the stat line and illustration. The “cifal” gave the party a nice challenge, but wasn’t overwhelming (like my random improvised encounters, for example). While the party was fighting the cifal, the rear guard noticed a very large snake thing slither up and then slither away.
The party also encountered a vargouille (sort of a bat-winged humanoid head with a large mouth filled with sharp teeth; its bites cause permanent hit point loss). The vargouille was hidden in a hallway with a series of alcoves containing pedestals with ape heads on display. The ape heads’ mouths, ears, noses, and eyes were stitched shut and there were other stitched cuts at various points around their skulls. The vargouille was resting on a pedestal with its wings wrapped around its head so that it resembled an ape head in a leather sack. Flixis checked it out, but blew his find traps check. The vargouille lunged at him and missed. The party hacked it apart before it managed to bite anyone.
The PCs cut open the slits on an ape head and discovered the head was stuffed. They pulled out the stuffing and found a gem stone buried inside each of the heads. Yay, treasure!
The last encounter of the night was with a zerpanax (unique monster from the module: [spoiler]They are giant snakes that paralyze humanoid opponents with their bites, then partially swallow their enemies and use a their fangs to penetrate the humanoids’ bodies, giving them control of the humanoids and their abilities. They also plant their eggs in the wombs of humanoid females. Their young erupt from their hosts’ bodies at birth, killing the hosts.[/spoiler]). This particular zerpanax was not especially dangerous. The party took it out without injury.
The party spent quite a bit of time puzzling over the bizarre elements of the dungeon. They found two rooms with brain and personality diagrams on the walls. That, the stuffed ape heads, and a series of bloody handprints on a wall left them quite intrigued and a little paranoid.
All in all, it was a nice 4 hour session. The players are engaged in the module. We should get several good sessions out of it.
We are on a 4 week break due to Thanksgiving responsibilities. When we resume, Edgar’s player is going to run a session of classic Traveller for us. As a result, the next game session in this campaign will be in about 5 weeks. I’ll keep you posted.
Kills: 1 bandit leader, 8 bandits, 1 cifal, one not especially dangerous zerpanax, 1 vargouille
Gains: 1 magical long sword, 1 magical dagger, several gem stones stored in stuffed ape heads
Mon Mar 02, 2015 2:31 am
Catch Up Entry
We’ve had at least 4 game sessions since the last campaign journal update. Two sessions were devoted to Classic Traveler with another 2 spent on the C&C campaign.
Slaughto – Level 4 human barbarian
Edgar Philstine – Level 4 dwarf wizard
Flixis – Level 4 half-elf rogue (only present for the last session)
William the Bloody – Level 3 human cleric of the Blood God (NPC)
Ralf & Mikey – Level 3 half-orc fighters (NPCs)
In the first session, the party continued their exploration of the upper level of the Many Gates of the Gann dungeon. The bulk of the session was spent fighting a band of flinds and gnolls. The dungeon has several portcullises restricting access to various areas. The party managed to get stuck in the flind/gnoll area with a closed portcullis at their backs. They fought off an initial wave of flinds and gnolls, but decided to keep pressing forward rather than retreating to heal up and regain spells. This decision almost proved to be disastrous. Much like the arrival of the Crazy 88 in Kill Bill Vol. 1, wave after wave of gnolls and flinds crashed into the party. They were saved by Edgar retreating to a room full of door parts (wood, knobs, hinges, etc. lying around for assembly into dungeon doors) and pulling an A-Team maneuver. Edgar’s player blew a hero point (allows guaranteed success and anything the PC attempts that can theoretically be pulled off). It took a few combat rounds, but Edgar managed to assemble a barrier with handles that he was able to use to block off one of the hallways that the flinds and gnolls were using to attack the party. Reducing the battle to just one front gave the party some breathing room. By the time the flinds and gnolls managed to force the barrier out of the way, the party had eliminated the monsters attacking from the other hallway. The final fight was extremely tense. Most of the PCs and NPCs were unconscious by the time Slaughto took out the last of the gnolls (one fled the combat and escaped). The party holed up in the door parts room for several days to heal up. When they emerged, they made their way through the abandoned gnoll/flind lair and recovered a crap load of treasure (about 14,000 gold pieces worth).
The party followed its usual MO and decided to keep exploring the dungeon rather than going back to town to cash in and possibly level up. They found a door in the gnoll/flind lair that was blocked by several heavy crates. The party could hear low growling and scraping sounds coming through the door. The party’s survival instinct being horribly flawed, they moved the crates out of the way and opened the door. 2 wights burst through the doorway and drained William of a level before being cut down. That was enough for the party and they headed back to the nearby village of Mugwump.
Unfortunately for the party, the local merchant in Mugwump did not have sufficient cash on hand to give the party fair value for its collected loot. They decided to make their way back to Rotter to cash in.
The week’s journey to Rotter was uneventful. When they got back to town, they headed home to the house they are renting from Mr. Firley (I think I mistakenly identified the landlord as Mr. Roper in the last entry – oops!). Edgar’s familiar warned him there was a human man waiting outside their house. Edgar knew there was a process server out to serve him with lawsuit paperwork. He used a sleep spell to knock the man out. The party restrained the man and brought him inside. Things took a decidedly dark Reservoir Dogs turn. Edgar cold-bloodedly slit the man’s throat and chopped up the body while the rest of the party (well, mostly Flixis) looked on in horror. Edgar didn’t really care about the lawsuit paperwork, but Slaughto and Flixis checked it out. Edgar is being sued by the widow of one of the NPCs the party hired to help them in the ballot escort mission. Edgar used a shockingly powerful fireball spell that accidentally killed three of the party’s archers that were on point. One of the archer’s widows wanted Edgar to compensate her for the reckless homicide of her beloved husband. Edgar was not impressed.
After selling off the treasure the next day, Slaughto had enough XP to level up. He spent a week in training while the party hung out.
The big news in town was that several Halfling monks had arrived. Halfling monks are widely known to be the most powerful monks in the world. Two of the monks were planning to fight to resolve a dispute involving “monk stuff”. They agreed to conduct the duel in the Rotter Coliseum. The party decided to attend to celebrate the completion of Slaughto’s training. The party placed its bets and settled in to watch the fight. The two monks approached each other on the sands of Coliseum. After staring at each other for about 15 seconds, the monk with the green sash bowed his head and walked off the field of “battle”. The crowd was pissed. An entourage from the Gamblers Guild stormed up the Halfling with the red sash and yelled at him for awhile. The Guild then announced there would immediately be another fight so the city’s champion could teach the monk a lesson (so much for the widely-held view that Halfling monks are badasses).
The party rushed to put some money on the monk before the fight took place. After placing their bets, a group of much rougher-looking process servers delivered paperwork to Edgar. He was forced to accept the paperwork since he was in far too public a location to try killing the process servers this time.
Meanwhile, the city’s champion, a gigantic half-orc named Oo-rook entered the arena to wild cheering. Oo-rook was armed with glowing chain mail, a glowing shield, and a glowing sword. The half-orc charged the monk. What followed was a dazzling display of combat prowess. The monk’s movements were largely a blur, but the PCs were pretty sure that the monk grabbed the sword by the blade and flung it away, then rained numerous strikes the half-orc. The fight ended when the monk punched through Oo-rook’s shield and armor and ripped his still-beating heart out of his chest. When the half-orc’s body hit the ground, his head rolled away. No one was quite sure how that happened since they did not recall seeing any blows to the half-orc’s neck or head. The monk quietly walked out of the arena and the crowd went wild.
In the morning, Edgar had to find himself a lawyer to represent him in court in a couple days. They had seen billboards for a dwarven lawyer named Saul whose catch phrase is “Just because you did it, doesn’t mean you’re guilty.” Hiring Saul was an easy decision. I finally got to break out my Judges Guild Ready Reference Sheets to determine the outcome of the trial. After investing 2,000 gp to the court clerk’s retirement fund, everything seemed to go Edgar’s way. The judge was in a good mood, the weather was excellent, and Saul kicked ass. Not only was Edgar found not guilty, the widow was ordered to pay him 40 gp.
When the party got back home, there was a knock on the door. A forest dwarf had a message for the party from the Great Tree. The Great Tree’s spies had learned of the Master’s mission for the party. The forest dwarf said “The Master”’s real name is Leroy. The dwarf denied that the Great Tree stole any seeds. The Great Tree requested that the party eliminate Leroy, the real villain in the piece.
The party was at a bit of a loss. Any chance of a sneak attack on the Great Tree as pretty much blown since their attack was expected. They also realized they had no proof that anything The Master had told them was accurate. Time to find a druid to sort things out.
The party didn’t know any druids, so they dropped by the Blood God’s temple to see if William could help them out. One of the higher-up priests said William had not yet recovered from his level draining. The temple was not impressed with William’s recent failures and had refused to cast a restoration spell on him. The party requested that the temple restore William anyway. The priest agreed to do so if the party agreed to acquire the rare “plant blood” blood for the temple in exchange. The priest chanted for a bit and the party felt compelled to follow through on their end of the deal.
A restored William rejoined the party and led them off into the woods north of Rotter to seek out a nearby druid William knew about. The druid was aware of both the Great Tree and Leroy and insisted both were fairly wicked creatures. The party asked about finding plant blood. This offended the druid greatly. Before leaving, the druid warned the party not to come back into the woods with an agenda to harvest plant blood again. He also said he didn’t care what the party did to plants inside the city. That made the party’s target pretty clear. They assumed Leroy would have plant blood and that they would have a better chance of taking Leroy by surprise than the Great Tree.
The party debated whether to tackle Leroy immediately or try to toughen up a bit first. They decided to head back to the Gann dungeon first to try to get enough XP to level up.
A week later, the party was back in the dungeon. They cleared out the rest of the first level before the end of the session. They had a harrowing encounter with a smoke paraelemental. They were a little nervous when they realized it took magic weapons to hit it. They were seriously freaked when Slaughto took 24 points of damage from one attack. That sense of panic was wonderful for me as the DM. The party made it through the encounter without anyone going below 0 hit points, but the players were more frightened and engaged than in most of the near TPKs we’ve had over the last few months. It was a great encounter.
They also fought off a Zerpenax. I underplayed the monster, unfortunately. It paralyzed William and took control of him. I let the PCs focus their attacks on the body of the Zerpenax rather than their party member. The monster write-up specifies the PCs should only be able to do that if they can get special tactical positioning against the Zerp (e.g., attacking from behind). The party should have been forced to hack threw William to get to the monster given the tactical situation in this particular combat. Whoops. That would have made for a much more exciting encounter. Next time…
That was it for the second session. We are going to take FATE Accelerated out for a spin next time. The C&C campaign will resume after Gary Con.
Kills: Smoke paraelemental, Zerpenax, process server
Gains: Prize winnings from the Coliseum, a whistle, attorney on retainer
Losses: 2,000 gp to bribe court clerk
Sun May 17, 2015 7:46 pm
Time to catch up with the campaign journal. We have played two more sessions of C&C since the last update before Gary Con. We’ve had all sorts of causes for delayed or missed sessions, most involving significant health problems for two players. Fortunately, the players’ collective health has improved and we look to be more or less back on track.The Party
Slaughto – Level 5 human barbarian
Edgar Philstine – Level 4 dwarf wizard
William the Bloody – Level 3 human cleric of the Blood God (NPC)
Ralf & Mikey – Level 3 half-orc fighters (NPCs)Session 1 Post-Gary Con
This was a fairly short game session for us.
We picked up the action with the party leaving Ape Land. The party was ambushed by a variety of humanoids and ogres as they left the dungeon. The party spared the life of one of the ogres on the condition the ogre serve the party for one month. Oo-Ruk the ogre gladly agreed, so now the party has a pet ogre to assist them. Sadly for Oo-Ruk, the party didn’t waste any resources healing him up right away, so the party’s pet was pretty bruised and battered.
The party got back to the village and looked for someone to buy the ogre from them, but found the local populace afraid and unwilling to have a bloody and vicious ogre in their midst. After a night’s sleep, the party started their march back to Rotter for the showdown with The Master (aka Leroy the giant sunflower).
Along the way, the party encountered a barricade across the road manned by bandits. The party decided to pay the toll with blood and hacked its way through the obstacle. Oo-Ruk proved quite valuable.
The only other notable event during the journey was a surprise encounter at night. Edgar woke up to find the process server he tortured and killed back in Rotter trying to strangle him. The party cut down the process server (again). This time, Edgar chopped up the body and burned the pieces. He kept a finger for safe-keeping.Session 2 Post-Gary Con
The party reached Rotter to find the city overrun by refugee orcs. The party heard rumors several sessions ago about metal skeletons wreaking havoc in the humanoid tribe lands beyond the mountains to the north of Rotter. Things have gotten worse up north and many orc tribes have fled to Rotter for protection. Faithful readers may recall that Rotter is a free city that accepts humanoid residents.
The arrival of so many orcs created tensions within the cities. Refugee orcs took whatever work they could get at cut rates in order to survive. Locals complained that “They took our jobs!” The refugees also settled outside the neighborhoods traditionally populated by humanoids. Free city or no, the humans and demihumans of Rotter were unhappy and racial (speciest?) tensions were mounting.
Upon learning of the current tensions in Rotter, the party immediately began brainstorming ways they could exploit the arrival of the orcs. The wizard wanted to hire a bunch of them as meat shields on the cheap. The barbarian took a different approach.
The party dropped by the Filthy Unicorn (Evil Dick, proprietor) for a drink. Slaughto walked up to the first orc he saw and punched him. I had been planning on introducing a good bar fight into the campaign in the near future, but didn’t expect the players to rush into it on their own. The orcs in the bar drew steel and the battle royale was on. The human and demihuman population at the bar rumbled with most of the orcs while the party took on its own share. Oddly, Slaughto confined himself to his fists while everyone else hacked through everything that moved.
Once the party finished off its latest victims, it discovered the bar was deadly quiet with bodies littered everywhere. 3 dwarves and the party were the only things still standing. Evil Dick was collapsed in a corner with a dagger thrust through his shoulder. Slaughto removed the dagger and cauterized the wound, but the party was unable to do anything else for their favorite bartender.
The party went outside and discovered the remains from a massive street brawl. The thundering sound of many boots running in the distance came from multiple directions. Reinforcements were clearly on the way. The party decided to bug out and head home. Sadly, they marched right into a war band of 31 orcs looking to kick some ass. Edgar ended up in a wizard battle with the orcs’ shaman while the rest of the party waded into the orcs. The shaman managed to drop a hold person on Edgar, but Slaughto barreled through the orc lines and took out the shaman before things got out of hand. The tide quickly turned in the party’s favor and the last of the orcs ran for their pathetic lives.
Oo-Ruk and Ralf were in pretty bad shape at this point. A squad of city guards ran up before the PCs had a chance to bind wounds. Slaughto rolled a 1 on his charisma check, so the guards decided to arrest the party. Slaughto refused to be shackled until he was able to bind wounds Oo-Ruk and Ralf. The city guard was not amused at his resisting arrest and started wailing on the barbarian. Slaughto kept insisting throughout the fight that he was not resisting arrest, he was just trying to help his wounded friends. (After the fight, we had to watch Chris Rock’s How Not to Get Your (Butt) Kicked By the Police (NSFW!!!)
so Slaughto’s player could get a better understanding of what resisting arrest means.) Mikey and Ralf tried to stay out of it, but once Edgar started stabbing the city guards, it was clear the only acceptable outcome was for all of the city guards to die (any survivors would lead to prosecution and probable death sentences). The party members were quickly the only living creatures on the block. The party ran for it, but noticed prying eyes gazing at them from some 2nd floor windows of the buildings they ran past.
The party healed up at home for several days, then decided it was time to visit Leroy. Consequences to starting a race war would have to wait for later.
The party dropped by the Rotter Building and Grounds Department and were escorted to the top of the tower to meet with Leroy. The top floor of the tower was a wide space with Leroy’s flower pot in the middle of 50 foot square patch of grass. The ceiling was entirely glass windows that could be opened to let in rain.
Leroy was glad to see the party and provided them with a bag of pine cones he said would get them into the tree (they would have to eat the pine cones). Edgar tried to shake Leroy down for some spell scrolls to boost the party’s chances with the great tree. Leroy wasn’t in a generous mood, so Edgar surprised the sunflower with a magic missile spell. Combat ensued. One of the garden elf escorts turned out to be a druid who cast entangle
to great effect. Only Slaughto was able to get up to the flower pot to hack away at Leroy. Sadly for the party, Slaughto’s combat rolls throughout the encounter were embarrassingly weak. Slaughto was also the unfortunate victim of a heat metal spell. He chose to keep hacking away at Leroy ineffectively rather than shed his metal breastplate. Slaughto found himself incapacitated and crippled in short order. Leroy briefly incapacitated half the party by blasting allergens at them. Leroy followed it up with blasts of solar energy that singed Slaughto and badly fried Edgar. Edgar got revenge by tossing a keg of oil onto Leroy and following it up with a torch. The rest of the party mowed down the garden elf guards. Leroy went up in flames, but then the floor beneath him fell away and the sunflower dropped out of sight. The party could hear wood cracking at regular intervals. Leroy apparently was falling through barriers designed to keep him from reaching deadly velocity on his way down the center of the tower. A splash eventually echoed up from far below. The garden elf druid twiddled his fingers and created a giant cloud of smoke that hid his escape down the tower stairs.
Once the entangle spell wore off, the party headed back down to ground level. They triggered a spear trap along the way that knocked Edgar unconscious. Oo-Ruk picked up the dwarf and the party continued its descent. At the foot of the stairs, the party encountered some minimal resistance in the form of 5 garden elves. After hacking the elves apart, the party searched the ground floor for signs of Leroy. The ground level was abandoned. However, the party found a secret door leading to a staircase going down. The party followed the obvious lead and headed down. We broke for the night with the party at the bottom of the stairs with 3 doors to choose from.
For those worried about the crippled Slaughto, I allowed William to restore him by casting 3 cure light wound spells on him. The heat metal spell description in C&C says the victim would be incapacitated for a number of days equal to the PC’s con score divided by 4. It didn’t make any sense to me that a PC with a high con would be crippled longer than a PC with a low con, so I just sidestepped the issue altogether and allowed CLWs to decripple him.Kills:
Ambushing humanoids; bandits; a supposedly already dead process server; many, many orcs; a squad a of city guards; and 9 or 10 garden elves.Gains:
Oo-Ruk, their ogre slave for a month.Losses:
None, although there will undoubtedly be fallout and consequences for allowing orcs to escape and executing a squad of city guards.
Thu Aug 13, 2015 9:36 pm
I’m about to wrap this campaign up. We’re going to be switching to DCC RPG for a while as a change of pace. I’ve been running this game for over 2 years now. It’s very strange to go back and read the early journal entries. Young Buttmonkey had so much to learn. I feel like I have come an enormous way as a GM since I started. I learned a ton about how to run an effective game session and especially how to design adventures that I enjoy running. Most of that education came in the form of learning from my mistakes (or at least from trying things that I ultimately decided did not work for me). I’m kind of sad to be wrapping this campaign up, but energized by the changes ahead.
I decided we need a proper send-off to the campaign. I’m going to be tying in a number of plots and themes that have been brewing and have it all come to a big climax. The primary background villains I have introduced are the church of the Pain God and Baron Wasteland. They are the obvious foci of any attempt to wrap the campaign with a bang.
At the end of the last session, the party was ambushed by a party of pain knights (fighters who have the ability to strike an opponent, but cause the damage to be inflicted on another opponent). The party made surprisingly quick work of the pain knights due to a series of frustratingly successful hold person spells. We wrapped the session at that point. The decision to switch game systems came after that session, so I’m going to retcon slightly at the beginning of tomorrow night’s session to notify the players that they found a note on the baddest of the pain knights. The note is from the high priest of the Rotter Church of the Pain God (loyal readers will recall Slaughto wiped the Rotter church out 1.5 years ago in real time) directing the knights to kill the “marked one” and his companions. The companions are described in detail and clearly identify the party members and their normal NPC hirelings. The “marked one” is Slaughto. This should finally clue him into the fact it was a mistake to wear the Friend of Pain pin he was given after clearing out the supposedly false church in Rotter. The pin has allowed the church to locate and track him ever since. The note will also clue the party into the fact that the Rotter church has been reconstructed without their knowledge. The note will also say the party’s wizard need not be killed if he is willing to work with the church. Given the wizard’s CE behavior over the course of his career, he would look like a valuable recruit to the bad guys. I’ll stick something in the note like “the wizard’s murder of his sister for spell components shows promise” (I made that up, but I’m pretty sure the wizard’s player would get a chuckle out of it).
When the party gets back to town, they will find the house they are renting has been burned to the ground. They will also discover most of the NPCs they have had regular dealings with have been murdered, including Crippled Dick, Mr. Firley (their landlord), and Saul (their lawyer). Clearly, the Pain God is coming after them and everyone they associate with. Whatever will the party do? The local authorities won’t care (the government is essentially a lawful evil entity). The Blood God’s church won’t care, either, other than possibly not being thrilled about William the Bloody (the party’s NPC cleric of the Blood God) being on the hit list. William has been out of favor within the Blood God church for some time now, so he may be told to sort it out on his own. The Blood God church may just take him in and say it will negotiate a separate peace with the Pain God.
The party is going to need to take the fight to the Pain God’s temple. I’ve got that mapped out loosely with traps and encounters ready to go. There will be low level evil cleric acolytes, ogre torture chamber attendants with giant swords engulfed in scary blue flames, more pain knights, metal skeletons, an evil high priest, and a somewhat watered down vampire. Slaughto’s brother was a member of the church of the Pain God until Slaughto rescued him and sent him home to the barbarian wastes to the north. Turns out he didn’t make it. Now, his brother is a vampire deeply attached to the Pain God. That should come as a nice surprise to Slaughto’s player. The vampire brother will flee to a hidden lair underneath the chapel. He’ll have some vampire spawn down there to help him. One will be Slaughto’s mom (I can’t wait to drop the horrible joke “Mother always did like me best” when the brother sics the undead mother on Slaughto).
The temple’s treasury will include records that show many city officials have donated to the church, including a massive donation of copper pieces from Baron Wasteland. Now the party will know where the copper coating on most of the metal skeletons came from. The donation records will show the church agreed to eliminate Slaughto’s companions as a sign of gratitude for the donation. Time to take out Baron Wasteland. I haven’t fleshed that part out yet, but I’ve got enough to go on for tomorrow night’s session.
I’ve got 3 concerns at this point:
1. What if the players freak out and don’t go on the warpath? The players know this is it for the campaign, so I’m pretty sure they’re going to “Buffy up” and tackle the BBEG head-on, but I’m going to have problems if they just decide to get the hell out of Rotter.
2. The Pain God’s temple is stocked with some pretty tough monsters and encounters. I don’t want the climactic battle in the chapel to steamroll over the party. I’m going to have to adjust things carefully as I go. I may level up some of the party’s NPCs to give the party more firepower. I’m pretty sure I leveled everybody up a couple sessions ago, so that may not fly. Maybe I can get them some extra firepower from the Gambini crime syndicate in the form of wands, scrolls, or meat shields. The party hasn’t really dealt with the Gambinis since Jimmy the torchbearer (later Jimmy the Assassin) was assassinated last year. One recurring issue has been the availability of players. I have 2 die-hards (Slaughto and the wizard) with 3 other guys dropping when they can. It’s hard to scale the fight in advance when I don’t know how many players will make it and the fight may spread to a second play session. I guess that’s why they pay GMs the big bucks.
3. What if the players don’t like the planned conclusion to the campaign? I think this should all turn out to be quite epic, but they may disagree. I’d hate to end things on a disappointing note after 2.5 years of play.
Sun Aug 16, 2015 2:32 pm
So, Part 1 of the campaign finale was horrible. Bad play from the players, bad GMing from me, bad all around. Just when I got cocky and thinking I knew how to GM, the universe stepped in to smack down my hubris.
We started out the session with me telling the players I had prepared something special so the campaign can go out with a bang. Then I filled them in on the note they found on the pain knight that had ambushed the party at the end of the last session. The note said the High Priest of the Pain God's church in Rotter was ordering the knight to eliminate "the marked one" and his companions. The note described all of the PCs and regular NPCs in detail. Slaughto was the only PC not listed. Seeing as he was the focus of the Pain Knight's attack last session, I thought it would pretty easy to figure out he was the "marked one". Not so much in practice. I had to have an NPC point it out. The party figured out the Friend of Pain pin Slaughto has been wearing for the last year must be what was marking him. They determined the pin was magical and then ditched it.
The party then threw me for a complete loop. They started talking about what they want to do next. I don't railroad my players, but they generally go with the plot hooks I throw in front of them. I thought they would for sure this session since they know I am wrapping up the campaign and have something special planned. So, do they decide to investigate what's going on with the Pain God trying to kill them? Nope. They mention that they want to take out Baron Wasteland (who had humiliated Slaughto publicly several months ago) and the Great Tree in the woods north of Rotter (I have no idea why they are obsessed with taking on this tree since (1) the tree has done nothing to them and (2) the tree's minions have warned the party that the tree knows the party is coming for it). I pointed out the issues with taking on the Great Tree (I wasn't worried about the party gunning for Baron Wasteland since I already planned to incorporate that into the finale). Then, things got weirder. The party decided to continue on to Ape Dungeon and ignore all of the big, epic stuff going on around them. We've got maybe 2 or 3 sessions left in this campaign, powerful forces are trying to kill them, and they decided to continue a routine dungeon crawl. Gah! It's pretty clear the hook I gave them wasn't clear enough. From their perspective, it was something like, "Huh. The Pain God apparently sent someone to kill us. That's bizarre and out of left field. The last we knew there wasn't even a Pain God church in Rotter. Weird. No idea how we'd even go about doing something about that. I guess we should be ready in case they try again. Well, we've got a couple sessions left. What sounds like it would be fun to do before we call it a wrap?"
I had not looked at the Ape Dungeon module (Many Gates of the Gann) in at least 2 months, so I was forced to scramble to remember the details well enough to run it. I thought I was on rolling with it okay, but it's pretty clear in hindsight that I was a bit on tilt. I did a mediocre job of running the dungeon and adapting to the players' bizarre decision to go there. I can see several things I could have done to improve the game session. For example, I could have just improvised the whole session rather than trying to run the module as written. I also could have tied the finale into the dungeon. Maybe I could have run it so that minions of the Pain God had infested the first level of the dungeon (that the party cleared out months ago) or even just moved the entire temple I had planned from Rotter into the dungeon. The dungeon itself is only accessible for a few months every few decades. I could have told them the dungeon was sealed up again (I didn't want to do that because I don't want to railroad my players, but the session probably would have been more fun for everyone if I had).
Everybody was off their game. One of the players has been roleplaying his PC into a corner where the PC isn't functioning well within the party. The PC has drifted toward being a fairly evil character and reckless to boot so that he has put the party in some dangerous situations. I haven't worried too much about it since I've anticipated ending the campaign all summer. I plan to put some alignment and roleplaying restrictions in place for the next campaign. In this session, the PC decided to become unreasonably stubborn. The party got trapped by a BBEG on the other side of a portcullis. There was another portcullis at the far end of the chamber. The problem PC refused to try to escape using the portcullis on the other side ("why should we go further into the trap? I'm staying right here"). The poor other player was at a loss as to what to do in the face of this. I subtly and not so subtly suggested moving on was the only way to go since the party was unable to open the gate they came through. We were stuck for at least 10 minutes of real time before stubborn guy finally agreed to move forward. It was baffling and frustrating.
I also probably blew a ruling that could have allowed the party to sidestep the trap altogether. They have a ring that could have altered reality to roll back time to avoid the trap, but I ruled it wouldn't work here. By the next morning, I was coming around to the players' point of view that it could have. I should have found a way to say yes to the players rather than protecting the trap. It was a fuzzy call, so I wasn't clearly wrong, but everything would have been better if I had rewarded the players' creativity or at least given them a roll to see if the ring was able to pull it off. Bad GMing in hindsight.
The party eventually wandered into the lair of the BBEGs and I had to call an end to the session since I knew I wasn't prepped well enough to run that encounter properly. I felt like I had escaped from prison at that point. It was one of the least enjoyable sessions I have ever run. Hopefully, I can learn from the experience and do a better job next time. For now, I feel like playing a lot of board games and back-burnering RPGs for a while until I get the bad taste out of my mouth.
Sat Mar 19, 2016 4:18 pm
We had one more session in this C&C campaign before shelving it permanently (or so I thought). The party went further into Ape Dungeon and eventually found an underground exit rather than working their way back to the parts of the dungeon they knew. The module (Many Gates of the Gann) leaves it up to the GM to design the underground caverns, so I was forced to improvise. I threw a bunch of giant beetles (including some scary as hell fire beetles) at the party and we called it a wrap.
Fast forward a few months. I haven't been enjoying the DCC RPG campaign we have been playing, so I am resurrecting the C&C game this afternoon. The players have been mentioning for months that they wanted to take out Baron Wasteland, so we may end up going that route today. My prep is really loose this session since I don't know what they're going to do. My fingers are crossed that it all works out splendidly. Onward C&C!
Sun Mar 20, 2016 9:26 pm
Game Session – March 19, 2016
Slaughto – Level 5 human barbarian
Kharl Magneson – Level 4 dwarf cleric
Edgar Philstone – Level 5 dwarf wizard
And the NPCs:
William the Bloody – Level 3 human cleric of the Blood God
Ralf – Level 4 half-orc fighter
Mikey – Level 4 half-orc fighter
Bork Borkson – Level 3 dwarf cleric (follower of Edgar)
We picked up where we left off about 6 months ago before our hiatus. The party spent 5-6 months travelling through the underground caverns where the giant beetles and fire beetles attacked them at the end of the previous session. When they emerged from the caves, it was spring.
The party started heading southwest in hopes of returning to Rotter. They were quickly overtaken by a couple dozen centaurs on patrol who claimed the party was trespassing in their forest. The party cut a deal for safe passage through the forest. All they have to do is free a herd of horses being held in a corral in a valley near Baron Wasteland’s fortress. It seems the good Baron had captured the centaurs breeding stock. The centaurs sent the party on its way, but mentioned they would be meeting assassins hired by the centaurs if they fail to free the horses as promised.
The party made it back to Rotter and got in touch with the Gambini crime syndicate to get some background info on Baron Wasteland and his resources. (The party is so far semi-ignoring the threat of the Church of Pain in Rotter that is trying to kill them all.) The head of the Gambini, Vincent Gambini, agreed to get some information on BW in exchange for the party taking care of a little problem for him. Much of the Gambini’s muscle was drafted into the Rotter militia to deal with the metal skeletons north of the mountains. As a result, the Gambinis have not had the manpower to deal with a group of bandits who have been raiding merchant caravans a couple days to the east of Rotter. These bandits have refused to submit to the authority of the Gambinis or any other thieves’ guild in Rotter. The Gambinis want the bandits to submit and pay a tithe on their “collections”. Otherwise, the party is to exterminate the bandits with extreme prejudice.
(Fans of Elizabeth Moon’s The Deed of Paksenarrion will no doubt recognize part of the plot line from the second book in that series, which is itself apparently based on the Village of Hommlet. I stole the bandit adventure almost entirely from the book. About the only thing I left out was the name “Achrya”. Good writers borrow; great writers steal, etc.)
Before leaving town to deal with the bandits, the party went shopping, mostly for potions. They picked up some extra-healing, giant strength, and fire resistance. Slaughto's player realized afterward he already had two potions of fire resistance. That led to a few jokes about Slaughto having a fear of fire (you had to be there).
The party signed on as guards for a caravan heading east. Sure enough, bandits fired arrows at the caravan, then demanded the caravan pay 10,000 gold for the privilege of continuing unharmed. The caravan master put the coinage in a chest and left it in the road. The party decided to stay with the chest. The wizard sealed it with a hold portal spell. The bandits noticed the party obviously not continuing with the caravan and told the party to move along. The party refused and passed along Gambini’s message: “Pay your dues or die.” The bandits were unimpressed. The party’s wizard then offered to unlock the chest in exchange for 50% of the caravan’s tribute. The bandits were okay with that. They took out about 6,000 of the coins (their thieves!) and headed north through the woods.
The party tracked the bandits back to their lair using the wizard’s cat familiar. The party wasn’t enthusiastic about infiltrating the lair using the main entrance, so they searched for the inevitable hidden back entrance. They quickly found it, but it was sealed with a puzzle lock I stole from CKDad’s adventure Between Wrack and Ruin. The players were stumped by the puzzle and the wizard eventually tried a knock spell on the door. The spell was ineffective.
The game session nearly melted down completely at this point. The wizard’s player, who arrived late and did not participate in the decision to go on the bandit adventure, advocated cutting bait and leaving the region entirely. He reasoned that if the bandits had magic strong enough to resist his knock spell, then his wizard had no interest in going into their lair. The other players explained the need to do the bandit job to get the intel on Baron Wasteland. The wizard player dug his heals in and insisted it would be nuts to engage in a frontal assault. His PC had enough treasure to make a new start of it somewhere else and didn’t see a point in dealing with the centaurs, the bandits, the Gambinis, the Pain God, or Baron Wasteland. The other players gradually became frustrated and then angry at times as they were unable to reach any agreement on how to proceed. Communication was ineffective and I was about to just pull the plug on the session rather than let things devolve into hard feelings. Fortunately, the players finally came up with an agreeable plan and things went forward.
The party decided to wait until the bandits left their lair to raid another caravan, then they would make their frontal assault. A large group of bandits headed out on a raid the next day. The party cast silence on the entrance to the lair, then took out the sentries. After that, they waited for the raiding bandits to come back. After silencing the entrance again, the wizard took out most of the bandits coming up the trail with a lightning bolt. A couple sound burst from the clerics finished off the rest.
The party then headed into the bandit lair. They decided to go past a room filled with rotting food and other trash, despite hearing knocking coming from a locked door at the back of the room. They assumed the locked room contained whatever filth monster took care of the bandits’ garbage. They were semi-right. There was a garbage monster in the middle of the heaps of nasty crap on the floor. The knocking was coming from gnome merchant prisoners who were held in the locked closet. The poor gnomes will presumably starve to death, long forgotten.
The party went further into the dungeon, springing a couple traps (too bad no one wants to play a rogue) and eventually getting ambushed by a bunch of bandits and some orcs. Those were a mere speed bump for the party. They ventured further into the complex and finally came to the BBEG’s temple. The proverbial silky voice came out of a dark room and invited the party to come in. The party was ready for some action, so they went inside. There, they met an elf in black full plate armor with a spider pendant hanging on a silver chain around its neck.
The party passed on Vincent Gambini’s demand. The elf wasn’t going for it, so Slaughto activated his ring of violent hindsight to roll back time to the beginning of the parlay and attacked.
The elf uttered a word of power just before Slaughto got to him that paralyzed everyone except the party’s clerics. The next round the clerics used remove paralysis spells to free Slaughto, Edgar, and Ralf. Meanwhile, 4 giant spiders came flying out of webs in the room’s corners and attacked. Slaughto and Kharl engaged the elf while the rest of the party dealt with the spiders.
Slaughto got the worst of it as the elf hit him with a harm spell that reduced him to 4 hit points (no save!) and gave him undisclosed diseases. He later dodged a sword blow from the elf, but was ultimately crippled by a heat metal spell (that’s the second time he’s been seriously injured by that spell). The party got in a couple brutal rounds of damage on the elf at the beginning of the fight, but he had 80 hit points, so even a 25 point round wasn’t that disabling. The elf had to use a web spell to hold off the barbarian and cleric (the webs caused 1d4 burning damage per round just by being in contact with a PC – thanks Elizabeth Moon!), but the other party members just set the web on fire and let the PCs be burned some more as the fire freed them. The spiders rolled horribly on their to hit rolls and were pretty ineffective. Edgar had a nice couple rounds as he polymorphed himself into an owl bear and literally crushed one of the spiders on his own.
After casting the heat metal spell on Slaughto and seeing his web going up in flames, the elf decided to make a break for it. He spun around and started to run through the wall behind him. Ralf managed to gut him with his spear and killed the elf, leaving the elf’s body halfway encased in the wall.
We called it a night at that point. Everyone seemed to have a good time once the players reached a plan for how to deal with the bandits. The elf went over well as a BBEG. His sheer number of hit points had them a little freaked. In hindsight, I should have had the elf try to flee at least one round earlier while he had enough hit points to survive attacks of opportunity. That’s okay, though, since this was a good test of the tactics I will be using when the party eventually takes on Baron Wasteland. BW will be too smart to stand and fight to the bitter end.
Treasure and XPs will be calculated before the next session.
Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:58 pm
Game Session – April 22, 2016
Slaughto – Level 6 human barbarian
Edgar Philstone – Level 6 dwarven wizard
William the Bloody – human cleric of the Blood God
Mikey and Ralf – Half-orc fighters
We started the session by divvying up the loot from their raid on the caravan bandits. They got a fat stash of gold, plus some spell scrolls and a cloak of arachnida. I was surprised the party decided to sell the wizard scrolls since the party’s wizard did not have some of the spells in his spell book. The cleric scrolls were given to Kharl Magnessun who was absent from this session. Edgar took the cloak.
The party also found a letter from the Dark Hobbits crime syndicate of Rotter to the highway bandits. The letter encouraged the bandits to keep up the good work and to ignore efforts by the Gambinis to get them to join up. It was clear the Dark Hobbits are trying to move into the Gambinis’ turf.
The party returned to Rotter and checked in with Vincent Gambini. They turned over the Dark Hobbits letter and got a bunch of intel on Baron Wasteland in return. Amongst other news, they learned a riverboat captain has been resisting BW’s attempts to take over the river trade traffic. The party decided to make contact with the captain in an effort to recruit allies and assistance for their planned attack on the Baron.
The party headed to the river docks intending to spread the word at sailor bars that they are looking for the captain. Along the way, the party was attacked twice by assassins. The first was a crossbow bolt coming out of nowhere and narrowly missing Slaughto. The party couldn’t spot the shooter, so they continued on.
The next attack came in the form of a fireball centered on Slaughto. The barbarian wasn’t seriously injured after making his dex save and reducing the damage with a ring of fire protection.
Edgar spotted someone on a nearby rooftop who vanished just as Edgar looked up (spoiler alert: invisibility potion). Edgar swarmed up the side of the building using his spider cloak and cast a web toward some sounds he heard on the roof. This snared the invisible assassin by the leg. There followed a brief wizard duel as the assassin and Edgar traded fireballs, magic missiles, and lightning bolts. The assassin was a higher level wizard, but Edgar has an insane number of hit points after putting his highest stat in con and exploiting a familiar for extra hit points. He’s a tank with AC 10. Edgar came out on top and the assassin wizard was fried. Edgar found a medallion of the Pain God on the dead body.
The party once again brushed off the Pain God’s attempts to kill them and made their way to the docks. Once there, they moseyed into a bar and Edgar dropped 1,000 gp to buy rounds for everybody. That covered a LOT of drinks. Word got out that drinks were for free and Edgar became everyone’s new best friends. Except for one guy who gave the stink eye to the party and left the bar. Slaughto followed him outside and the guy started running. Slaughto fired a crossbow bolt aimed at the guy’s legs. His to hit roll wasn’t that great, so I ruled he caught the guy in the back. Slaughto maxed out on damage and the guy fell dead in the street. Whoops! Slaughto slinked back into the bar and the party waited for the captain to arrive.
Instead, another Pain God hit squad showed up and attacked the party. It turns out 6th level wizards are pretty powerful. A little too powerful. Edgar dropped a fireball on the attackers. The bar was remarkably big, but not that big. The fireball took out most of the attackers as well as most of the bar patrons, singed a few party members, and ignited the building in a raging inferno. The members of the hit squad who survived the initial blast were quickly mowed down and the party fled the building along with everyone else. A few thousand more gold pieces got the owner to stop complaining about the destruction of his bar and to agree to sign a statement blaming it all on the Pain God followers.
That was it for the night. It was a short session with lots of socializing.
I’m not sure which direction the party is going to go next time. Most of the regulars are keen to take out Baron Wasteland. Slaughto is coming around to realizing he needs to deal with the Pain God temple sooner rather than later as it is the immediate threat (the party is mostly beyond the Baron’s notice, so there really isn’t a rush to deal with him beyond a desire to kill him for making fun of Slaughto at the Barbarian Ball). However, Edgar’s player consistently tries to go sideways by ignoring all the hooks I dangle. He made several references to taking on a dragon this session. He’s trying to sell it by saying once the party takes out a dragon, it will have the levels and resources necessary to take on the Baron. I don’t think he really cares about the Baron, which is fine. I just need to find hooks and adventures that interest him. The party spotted a white dragon flying high over the mountains to the north of Rotter months ago, so it’s pretty clear I need to work up a lair for the party to tackle. I made some notes for that last summer or fall. I’ve got no idea where those are, so I’ll need to start from scratch. Overall, we all have a challenge trying to get everyone on the same page. Most people are interested in the plots we have been pursuing for the last year or so, while the lone guy is loudly pushing to move in different directions. The party needs to find a middle ground everyone can live with and I need to do a better job of coming up with plot lines that attract everyone.
Kills: 1 wizard, 13 hit squad members, uncounted drunk bar patrons, one bar
Gains: Intel on Baron Wasteland
Losses: One fly potion consumed during the bar fight without being exploited in any way
Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:25 pm
Cool series of posts.
Slaughto may want to go fight the dragon because he may feel like there's a lot going on. Sometimes when my plots get really involved my players can't keep track of it all, or are more excited by one possible thread than the others. You could let some possible plot threads die on the vine or wrap them up more quickly than expected, or have those different factions that are out to trouble the players come to blows with each other, somehow. It might be especially hard for them to be emotionally invested in the plot lines dangling from the long hiatus. You could always have the Pain temple take down the Baron or something to emphasize just how dangerous they really are. One less villain to worry about, and it emphasizes the power of the other. Just spitballing...
Sun May 08, 2016 11:18 am
Buttmonkey wrote:A tree trimmer down the block managed to take down a power line and blow up the transformer, so we were without power from about 4:30 to 8:30 on Friday. No power meant no game session. Grr. We should be playing again on July 5th. I've finally got some original material to run once the party finishes A0. Level One of the ruins of Chance Prison has been stocked. Now I need to work up a nearby town and some more levels. Level one features the bandit king and his followers; some of Unklar's orcs left over from when Unklar's forces took over the prison during the Unklar Wars (they were buried alive in the prison during the Wars and the prison long-forgotten); and some undead. And two magic mouths, a magical fountain, and a room full of Cuddly Bears.
BAH! Play by candlelight.
Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:12 pm
I finally managed to return to my home C&C campaign last week. We have been sidelined for about 6 months due to me being buried at work. I'm planning on taking Dungeon World out for a spin next, but wanted to give the C&C game a proper finale. We cut to the chase and had the party take on Baron Wasteland at his mansion in Rotter. I expected the party to try to take him out at his summer home, but it's impossible to predict what my players are going to do. I improvised damn near everything. I found some notes I made on the Baron's spell casting abilities a year ago and worked off of those. I also picked up a big green plastic ape figure at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago this summer, so I knew there was going to be a giant ape appearing at some point. I threw in some metal skeletons, too, since I've had them in the background for longer than I can remember.
I think we played two sessions last spring I didn't write up. As best I can recall, I pointed the party toward taking on the Pain God before dealing with Baron Wasteland and my players completely disregarded every hook I gave them. Instead, they dickered around and then made plans to scout out Baron Wasteland's summer home (and possibly free the horses the Baron stole from the centaurs). We ended the last session in the spring with the party on their way north for this mission. When we picked things back up, I had them return to town to regroup and make a plan for actually fighting the Baron immediately.
The adventure was mostly a hack fest. I advanced everybody one level at the start of the session and handed out hero points and extra healing potions. The Gambini crime family lent the party a kobold thief to help with the infiltration. We were down to just two players (the other regulars had been unavailable for weeks and at a certain point I decided the game must go on). The party took advantage of the dwarf-orc war that was breaking out in the city to create confusion and cover. (The party's dwarf fighter's player was unavailable, so I figured the local dwarf population finally insisted he use the Lesser Hammer of Dwur to lead the city's dwarves in exterminating the orcs.) The kobold passed out oil for all of the characters to pour over themselves. The oil blocked infravision, so the party didn't have to worry about being spotted in the dark.
The party got inside, slew a bunch of manticore guards, killed the human brigands serving as security on the main floor of the mansion, and freed the slave girls the Baron kept around for entertaining the troops. The party then descended into the dungeon beneath the mansion. That's where they ran into the metal skeletons. The copper and silver skeletons weren't too bad. The giant green ape arrived as the party finished off the first batch of skeletons. My players got a little nervous when they saw the mini, but they absolutely thrashed the encounter. The ape took off and cowered in a corner when it was hit by a fear spell. The party spent a round beating the hell out of it. They won initiative the next round and commanded the poor thing to fall asleep. Another round of auto-hits by the party's meat shields finished it off.
The party then made its way to the Baron's throne room. Inside, they found the Baron sitting on his throne guarded by two gold skeletons and a platinum skeleton. Before I could have him give some sort of obnoxious evil villain speech, the party's wizard used a time stop scroll he picked up somewhere along the way. He used the two free rounds to nuke the skeletons with a fireball and cast something else I can't remember. The fireball just energized the platinum skeleton who, it turns out, could breathe fire. Melee then ensued. The wizard slowed the Baron down with a silence spell, but was back-stabbed by an invisible thief follower of the Baron. Many healing potions were consumed, much damage was inflicted, and the party ended up with three fighter types going toe to toe with the Baron. The wizard used his last 3rd level spell to lightning bolt everybody. This killed two of the party's followers, but weakened the Baron enough that the party's barbarian was able to finish him off.
The players seemed to really enjoy the session. I felt a little bad that it was such a hack-fest with no role play or even much strategic thinking of plotting for the players. They just went in and killed everything. That can make for a great session (and did here), but I feel a need to expand my GM skills to throw more types of challenges into the mix. We'll see how Dungeon World goes, then may circle back to a new C&C campaign or maybe one of TLG's other games sitting on my shelf (I'm looking at you Amazing Adventures and Victorious!).
Edit to add: I'm pretty sure the other spell cast during the time stop was magic missile against the Baron. The Baron had a shield spell up, so the missiles didn't accomplish anything.
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