January 29, 2012

Caves of Myrddin: con session 2

Massacre in Dundagel

Everyone from the previous expedition returned to test their luck a second time. Many new adventurers joined our ranks, and spirits ran high as we set off for the ruins once more. All told, a dozen of us entered Dudagel. Only five returned alive.

We saw an 8ft long, sickly white lobster with four pincher claws, black hair, a womans face, red eyes, and pointy teeth. We all snuck around her while she was stuffing big gobs of rotting grey meat (dead sandworm?) into her awful gullet. An orc told us later that she/it can make an orc's head explode just by looking at them. Yikes.

The orc also told us about a local dungeon wizard who was building some crazy spiral pyramid out of metal and wood. Going after the wizard seemed like a good idea at the time. Oh, how wrong we were.

See, it all happened like this...

The structure is in a huge room. It has metal support columns holding up a long wooden ramp that winds it's way up and around to the top of the 50' structure. On the top is a platform with a 9' tall demon idol in the lotus position, lit by the big green flames in the palms of it's hands. It casts a strange flickering green light around the whole chamber.
While most of the party is busy searching and listening, Vithujin (Elfy Don't) decides to climb the ramp to see what's going on up there. Ian of Scotland goes up right beside him. Feelings of sickness and vertigo soon follow. A spell of protection from evil seems to help Vithujin recover, but Ian has no such magic and soon stumbles and falls toward the edge of the ramp. Vithujin tries to save him, but only manages to grab his holy symbol. The chain breaks from his neck as Ian tumbles over the edge. The fall doesn't end well.

Vithujin continues upward. Once he's close enough to the idol, he starts splashing holy water onto it. Well, that just pisses it off. The green flames shoot up into 6' pillars of green flame until the holy water evaporates moments later. Vithujin's eyes go wide and he slowly turns and heads back down the ramp.

Shortly after that, we decide to have Father Demetrius say a few words for Ian. His body is placed a short way up the wooden ramp and the whole thing is set alight as a funeral pyre. That's when a pair of basalt golems burst through one of the many sets of doors, and the wizard enters the chamber with them. He wears armor with a circuit board type pattern like in the original Tron movie, and a cylon centurion style helmet with one long narrow eye slit. He yells "Kill the intruders!", and the golems begin to lurch forward.

We all scatter and flee before them.

Most of the party runs back East, the direction we came from. Shorty the Halfling and Corbrun the Fighter head northeast and go into an unknown room. Vithujin heads northwest into a short hallway where he waits and watches to see what the wizard does next.

The bulk of the party is slowed down by one stuck door. Only Liddia the Elf makes it into the short hallway beyond, where a second door won't budge at all. As the basalt golems rush toward him, Frederick the Dwarf turns and fires his crossbow at the wizard. The bolt stops in mid air and then falls to the ground.

The wizard begins casting a spell just as Vithujin uses the power of his magical sword, but the wizard is too fast. The wizards magic flies eastward and erupts into a fireball. The magical fire stops just short of Liddia, who turns and sees those behind her die in flames. Only Frederick the Dwarf survives the burning horror.

Vithujin uses the Sword of the Frozen North to call forth the North Wind to envelop the wizard. The intense cold damages the wizards armor and cracks begin to form. The magic circuit system overloads and light pours out from the cracks in the armor. The wizard screams "Noooo!" and then explodes.

The golems both start swinging.
Jimbob the Elf and his hopeless loser sidekick Grungy the Dwarf (Jerry) - Both vanished suddenly without a trace. These were our first losses, reducing our party to ten. I'm not sure exactly where we lost them, perhaps some premonition of our fate convinced them to bugger off and make for the surface. (No, Jerry just had to leave a little early. He seemed interested in FLAILSNAILS though. Having Jimbob and Grungy return for some Google+ games would be pretty cool.)
In Memoriam 
Ian of Scotland (played by Ian), a cold-blooded cleric who seemed ravenous for pork. He became disoriented by evil emanations coming from the top of the spiral ramp he was climbing. He continued upward, but lost his footing and fell to his death. Evil architects never build safety rails you know. 

Wilbur of Stramshall (Brad) - An elf. He charmed an orc named Selgak the "Mighty" (mighty stupid). Then convinced Selgak to challenge the orc chief for control of the redneck orc trailer park village. Selgak was knocked unconscious with a single punch to the face. When Selgak awoke, we congratulated him on his stunning victory, having "somehow" stabbed the orc chief in the head with a crossbow bolt. "I didn't know I had it in me" said Selgak. After that we had Selgak and some of his orc underlings lead us to the wizard who had been giving them trouble. Selgak was leading the way when he was suddenly smashed into jelly by a stone golem. I should probably skip over the part where Wilbur helped us to quickly shut and brace the doors after the stone golem pulped Selgak. Some of his orc cronies were still in there and started banging on the doors before they were silenced by sickening thuds. We aren't proud of it. Please don't judge us too harshly. A bit later, Wilbur was burnt to a crisp in the fireball that killed about half the party. 

Lightfoot the Elf (Jim) - An excellent cartographer and finder of secrets. He "inadvertently" snorted some of the stoned dragon's psychedelic purple haze while trying to store it in a flask for later... hmm. Later on, he used his once per session d30 for a saving throw vs. fireball. Rolled a 1. He and his lovely maps were reduced to ash. We had to scoop his remains into a sack, but that was abandoned after the zombie attack. Lightfoot's runed gemstone that shoots lightning bolts might still be in the dungeon somewhere. 

Deadly One-Shot Dandy Wasdewy (Matthew) - The guy who actually shot the orc chief in the head. For some reason his 2hp (2nd level) thief did not survive the fireball. I'm not sure if the still-beating black demon heart survived the fire, but I know it make it's save vs. poison when it got hit by that dart yesterday. Wasdewy's was the only body we successfully brought back to be buried in the abbey cemetery. Rest in peace you scoundrel. 

Demetrius the Cleric (Joshua) - Stood bravely before a pack of a dozen zombies and managed to turn 9 of them. Presided over the makeshift dungeon funeral of Ian the Pig Slayer. I think it was even his idea to use the wooden spiral ramp as a funeral pyre. Demetrius also perished in the fireball. As we were dragging all the burnt corpses back the abbey, those 9 zombies found us and killed yet another member of the party. That's when we abandoned most of our dead friends. As a result, Demetrius and the others could be charred zombies by now. This was Joshua's first ever of D&D session. Great game dude! I'll save you a spot at the table anytime. 

The Unknown Elf (Ian's replacement character) - I never caught his name. Two of our party members (who managed to avoid the fireball by splitting from the group and running into unknown rooms) found him wandering in the dungeon alone. He knew a shortcut and led them to safety, probably saving their lives. We all met up again and he became the 13th party member, helping us drag bodies up to the surface. Then he died. One of those 9 zombies got a crit and crushed his skull. Fate sucks dude.
The Harrowed Survivors
Liddia the Elf (Moira) - Put a bunch of orcs to sleep, allowing us to capture and charm the others. Helped us hack out way through the last mob of zombies so that we could finally escape the dungeon. She seems cool and collected even in the stickiest situations, though I imagine the image of burning party members may haunt her dreams forever. 

Shorty the Halfling (Erick) - Short of statue but stout of heart. I'm glad he was there for the last battle, running between legs and hamstringing zombies. 

Corbrun the Fighter (Scott) - "I'm loving this empty room" he said as most of the party burns in the fireball. Yep, going northeast was a good choice. Slew two of those zombies I think. 

Frederick the Dwarf (Chris) - Dude survived a figgin fireball followed by a pair of stone golems trying to pummel him to death. Hard-core. Those golems powered down once they lost sight of us all. They might reactivate to fulfill their last command if anyone gets too close. Approach if suicidal. 

Vithujin the Elf (Nick) - He survived, but mourns the fallen. Leaving the bodies behind really bothers him. He assumes that any dead left in Dundagel will rise again eventually. At least we got Wasdewy out of there. Crossbow wielding zombie marksman? No thanks.

January 28, 2012

Winter War XXXIX

Winter War 39 has descended upon Champaign/Urbana Illinois.  The gaming convention seems to be hopping.  Four or five dice/game vendors and at least one artist selling wares line the walls in the main conference room.  A dozen or more miniatures games set up on the large tables in the middle.  As I walk around the main room, I see a chariot race taking place on a 5ftX3ft homemade board, some miniature WWII planes in the midst of battle, and a rather detailed 3D dungeon labyrinth being set up in a 6ftX5ft area.  An auction and various RPGs are taking place in smaller conference rooms scattered about the Hawthorne Suites hotel. 

I'd like to spend more time looking around to see all the other games, but I'm in a bit of a time crunch.  I have just enough time to commission the artist to make a colored sketch for me, then I'm off to the room where Jeff Rients is running "Doom of Dundagel".  It'll be fun to see how new players react to the Caves of Myrddin campaign and Jeff's gaming style.  It wasn't that long ago that I was new to Jeff's table, and I remember well the feelings of confusion mixed with delight.  I remember thinking to myself "I don't know what the hell is going on, but it's awesome!", because that thought still pops up most sessions.  The trick is to realize that the setting is utterly ridiculous (in a good way), so stop worrying about the "why" and just focus on dealing with whatever craziness is being thrown at your character.  You're exploring a cave in 1150AD Cornwall when out jumps a hulking serial killer maniac named Joe Mama wearing a hockey mask and swinging a chainsaw... yes, that makes no sense.  Just skip all that for now and start thinking about how to survive.  Knowing the "why" might give you some piece of mind, but that encounter is already at maximum awesome.  Just go with it.  Once you acquire a taste for it you'll be hooked and willing to pay for convention sessions of a campaign that you already play bi-weekly for free.

Anyhow, expect some session reports in the near future.

January 26, 2012

Caves of Myrddin: Vithujin's Confusions

Vithujin the Elf, occasional survivor of the dangers under Dundagel, has returned once more to the guesthouse at the Abbey of St. Emmet.  Once there, he immediately begins making arrangements for a celebration he calls the "Woed Ruckus", a week long marathon of drinking, feasting, and wenching.  Reaching into the pouches at his belt, he pulls forth gold, and even platinum coins to pay the locals for their various services.

As a joke, Vithujin payed for some fliers to be made up.  The intent was to send invitations over to the scoundrels at Le Lepin Bleu (Hugo le Bâtard's manor), but due to heavy drinking and gross overpayment the fliers end up in every settlement surrounding the Abbey.

Let the Woed Ruckus begin!

Our generous host Vithujin the Elf, the Pantless Pilgrim, the Demon Freezer, and only person to have successfully goosed the Dragon of Dundagel and been remortaled to talk about it; is throwing a party.  

 Already in attendance are those persons possessing a gentle spirit, quick wit, or firm backside.  
Now the rest of you need to show up.

The plan is to fill the Abbey with songs, stories, and seductions for a full week.
St. Emmet's antennae will be flailing wildly. 

On the first day of the Woad Ruckus, Vithujin refuses to talk about where he got all these gold and platinum coins that he is now spending so recklessly.  On the second day, Vithujin lets slip only that the coins were indeed found under the ruins of Dundagel but remains tight-lipped about any details.  That doesn't last for long though.  After days of drinking and merrymaking, he seems to forget his caution and launches into a tale so impossible, so ridiculous, that those who've experienced the horrors of Dundagel think it might just be true.  

It went something like this...

I don't know how this story makes any sense, but this is what happened.  Those dungeons are mad I tell you.  Best I can do is list out all the quandaries I encountered.  A list of Vithujin's confusions.  Here we go.

It was a dark and stormy morning when we set off to the dungeon.  There were bunches of us, ten or eleven I think.  Three elves for sure, Lankii, Sonoma, and myself.  Our holy man, Ethelred the Unready.  The great slab of beef named Will Die Too was there, and strong enough to wrestle ogres.  Frederick the Dwarf brought his maps and his army along, some crossbowmen in chain, a mule, and Turg his goblin guide.  Oh, and Sonoma has a torchbearer, but that guy didn't say much.

There was some talk of going back into the magical land of the goblins where day is night and the stars are all wrong.  The burning sands of the desert are strong enough to keep the forest in bloom during winter.  Turg knows of a village of strange colored men miles away who hold goblins as slaves.  We decided to go meet these men, so down we went into the east tower, the gatehouse of Dundagel.  As we came down the spiral stairs a swarm of giant rats suddenly fell upon us!  We hacked and chopped them to bits, but one of them bit into the thigh of Frederick's animal trainer so hard that blood sprayed out like a fountain and I almost slipped and fell down the stairs.  His wounds were too great, and the poor man perished while he mumbled something like "don't leave me down here".  We loaded his corpse onto the mule and continued down.

Frederick led us through the winding corridors of stone and mortar until we reached the circular portal covered in runes and emerged in the goblin ghost town.  The sky and trees and purple fruits are strange in ways I can't describe, but at least the weather was an improvement.  Then, as soon as we arrived, we abandoned our plan to search out the strange colored men.  Instead we took to exploring the various sections of the dungeon passages and rooms which straddle between that world and this one.  We began opening new doors.

We found a small hole at the base of a wall in a stone room.  Terg was sent in to investigate.  Terg said that the tunnels were made by many rats, and lead to corridors further down.  We plugged the hole as best we could.  

We found a small room full of weapons, some were rusty junk but others we took to sell.  We discovered later that among those a two handed battleaxe was magical, Will Die Too carries it now.

Then we found a hallway full of demonic faces carved into the stone walls.  Sensing danger, Frederick the Dwarf searched about and found that the entire floor of the hallway was a pressure plate.  We took the obvious course of action and tossed the corpse of our dead comrade onto the trap while quickly backing away.  Poison darts shot out through some of the demon mouths along the walls.  With the pressure plate thus weighted down, we walked across safely. 

Soon we found ourselves in a satanic chapel.  Others collected a wavy emerald eyed serpent dagger, emptied fresh blood from a small golden bowl, and took down the fine black curtains from the walls.  I poured a vial of holy water unto a small statue of Old Scratch, utterly melting it.  We learned later that these items allow the dagger to summon forth shadow demons when it spills the blood of the innocent.  Ethelred, being a man of strong faith, insisted then that we destroy the dagger.  I think that I saw Lankii keep it's emerald eyes though.

After the looting, we searched about for whoever had filled the blood bowl.  Unable to find any doors, we went up through the hole in the ceiling and discovered a very strange room indeed.  Along the walls were a dozen pillars made of crystal, prism prisons holding shadow demons in stasis.  One of these disguised a secret door.  There were three sets of finger holes in the stone next to one crystal pillar, but the lowermost set of holes were trapped to snip off fingers. The big brute Will Die Too stepped up and heaved at the upper finger holds. The entire column slowly swung out like a door, as all the air in the room rushed out the opening pushing us toward the void that lay beyond.  Will let the column snap shut.  We dallied here for a time as I sketched the pillars and shadowy figures within.  We returned here (with our dead friend) and presented these findings to the scholars of the abbey.  Thus we learned of the shadow demons and the dagger used to summon them for bargaining.

After a long rest, we set out again retracing our steps.  Along the way, we encountered a gang of melty lepers.  They didn't notice us approach, so I thought we were just going to toss holy water on them to see if they melted further.  The holy water had no effect, so I thought we would try to parley.  But no, one of us threw a burning flask of oil at them, which flew wide at lit up the room.  Others in our group began aiming crossbows, so I cast a sleep spell on the freaks hoping to defuse the situation and possibly save their lives.  Well, we tied them up and tried to question them, but the horrid things had never grown any tongues to speak with.  That's when we saw their satanic tattoos.  We decided they they were either evil abominations or victims of a fate worse than death.  We put them down and continued on our way.

Rather than return to the hall of the shadow demons, we chose a new perfectly ordinary transdimensional dungeon corridor to explore.  In this area, we found a large font with a statue of the White Queen (Morgana?) pouring a continuous stream of clean pure water from an urn.  In a nearby room, we found a multitude of cats and a crazy old crone who claimed to be the "royal rat catcher" having inherited the job from her mother.  If that's true then how old is she?  Centuries?  She was also talking to people who weren't there and pouring us drinks from her jug of piss, so we were a tad skeptical.  Sensing that her answers were useless, we went back to rest once more and prepare new spells.  We returned to her with gifts of jam and other foodstuffs to distract the old woman.  Meanwhile, Ethelred the Unready recited prayers that allowed him to speak to the horde of cats.  The first thing he heard them say was "Get us the hell away from that crazy woman!  She makes us live in this dungeon!".  Well, promises of freedom were made, and questions about shiny treasure were asked.  Then a black cat with one white paw and the soul of an adventurer stepped forward and offered to lead us to the "big pile of shinnies behind the secret door".  His name is Billy White Paw, and we owe this feast to him.

Billy led us up and down and around from room to room.  He warned us of the flying serpents in one room.  Lankii charmed one of these, I think he said it's a "wobra".  Eventually Billy led us into a room with the bodies of a bunch of purple men, purple raiders I guess.  In this room is a secret door that opens to a narrow natural cave passage.  The passage soon widens into a cavern with a large pool of water holding about twenty large fanged fish.  Oh, and in the center of the pool is a GIANT HEAPING PILE OF COINS AND GEMSTONES!

Well, those fish soon became kitty treats.  Then we filled every sack and backpack and had the mule loaded down so badly that I heard him wheezing as he went up stairs.  We brought all the cats out to the forest in the magical goblin lands and set them free.  The old woman cried a bit, but we made them a deal and she can always get new cats.  She is staying at the abbey for now, perhaps the priests have some prayers that can help unfuddle her.  Billy White Paw has decided to continue traveling with us.  Ethelred seems to have taken a shine to him.  As we passed by the magical throne Ethelred told Billy that a dog once sat in the throne and learned to speak, but it sometimes melts people and is dangerous.  Billy said "Not dangerous to me. I'M Billy White Paw!" and hoped up to sit in it.  It didn't give him the gift of speech, but Billy claims that it "supered up his cattishness".  I'm not sure what that means, but I'm glad that he's happy.  Ethelred is using his share of the loot to research a new spell to help him understand Billy all the time, oh and he donated a bunch of gold to the abbey.  I think he said something about it going to help build a new holy water font.  But you know, I prefer ale.  Lankii is busy training his new pet flying cobra.  I still don't trust the venomous thing.  It might last for months but that charm spell will wear off eventually, and that wobra keeps looking over at me.  We buried our poor dead animal trainer, and Frederick is already hiring someone new.  He also gives his men danger pay, and hefty bonuses.  He even made an effort to track down the dead mans family in order to compensate them.  I thought it was a classy move, especially for a guy who throws his dead henchmen unto traps.

And me?  I'm just taking it one day at a time... and today was made for wenching!

January 16, 2012


In my Ezzin setting, Halflings aren't a native species.  Neither are humans actually.  Humans and halflings are certainly present now; all sorts of beings arrive through the portals.  Most of the PCs will originate elsewhere, having been whisked away by forces unknown and transplanted into Ezzin.  It's all very "Land of the Lost".

Honestly, no one is really certain anymore who the true natives are.  Many assume that the various species of critterlings originated here, but that's open to debate.

Critterling PC's
1. Pick an animal
2. Morph it into a 3-4ft tall biped
3. Most (but not all) have halfling limitations, abilities, xp, and saves

Some species have very different class abilities.  Goatlings have a strong predilection for necromancy.  Pandalings can be kung-fu monks.  Mouselings can have access to all the thief abilities.  Ratlings sometimes become assassins.  Maybe I should start posting some of these as customized classes?

While there are still villages of only a single species, modern critterlings are willing to live and work together.  Their society is much like that of humans.  They work together in towns and cities, each using their talents for the good of the community.  Social status and occupation are not determined by species.  Critterling leaders and politicians are especially diverse.  However, there are certainly stereotypes.  Molelings can be found digging tunnels and working the mines.  Beaverlings work in construction.  Piglings are greedy politicians.  Donkey/Ass-lings are country yokels who tend to the herds of buggalo, flocks of small dinobirds, and squirms of mammoth woolly worms.

Tourist Tip:  Manimals are the man-sized animal bipeds who live out in the wilds.  They are far less civilized.  Referring to a individual critterling as "a manimal" is an insult, it's a clever way to call someone a "stupid brute".

January 2, 2012

Rethinking a Bad Idea

"If you roll a 3 for any of your six ability scores, you may play a dragon. The life of a young dragon is no picnic. Email me, we’ll roll on the dragon charts and see what you get."

That's out. 

The dragon charts aren't coming together like I'd hoped.  The xp requirements would make them level extremely slow.  Besides, dragons are cool because of their mystique and rarity.  I don't want to loose all that by putting one in the party at first level.

Still, I want to do something special when someone rolls an ability score of 3.  Something to change the player reaction from "oh crap" to "oh, interesting".  Players who roll an ability score of 4 or 5 already have the option to help make a customized class to play, so...

If you roll a 3 and choose a human class:  Pick one of these, then roll any die.

Psychic! (Mental Mutation)
Mutant! (Physical Mutation)
Cyborg!  (Mechanical Enhancement)
Inheritance (Bonus Gemstone/Jewelry/Gold)
Magical family heirloom. (Magic or "Magic" Item)
Sentient construct (Robots, Golems, and Androids - altered xp)
Average person, nothing special at all. I swear. (The Special Chart)
Parent was an alien abductee, mad wizard, or cult member (Rosemary's Babies)