Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!


Ultrasanta! Ultrasanta! Here he comes, from the sky!


Ultrasanta! Ultrasanta! Watch the reindeer fly!


In his super sled he comes! From a million miles away!


From a distant North Pole land! Comes our hero, Ultrasanta!


Merry Christmas, Everybody!

Have a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year in 2011!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

LL at Paul's: First Round Draft Picks.

Howsa dooza.

Once again, I am here to report on my weekly Labyrinth Lord game at my buddy Paul's.

This session was one of those sessions that was mostly logistics and long term strategic discussions. We'd lost two player characters and three henchmen in our last raid on the dreadful Skull Mountain, so there were replacements in order.

Our first order of business was seeing if we could get our veteran thief Klint raised. We had a fairly intact corpse (sans leg from an earlier misadventure) and a small ruby of considerable value for a proper sacrifice, so we hurried back to the town of Greenwild to hopefully prevail on the Temple of the Good Earth (who also make FANTASTIC bread, btw) to bring our late, lamented comrade back from the great beyond.

Well, the temple was happy to do the ceremony, since we'd struck a blow for goodness and niceness in wiping out the evil cult of the Obsidian Heart. They struck up a marathon chant, bathing the corpse in water from their recently reconsecrated holy font. After several hours, bupkus. Klint apparently didn't want to come back from whatever afterlife he'd gone to. (Or couldn't come back. He's either doing the waltz in heaven or tap dancing on a hotplate in the other place...)

The real reason for this is that Klint's player tried rolling up a replacement character and liked him better. So, the ceremony didn't work. We got the keep the ruby, tho, so all good.

From there, we got to discussing what we would try to tackle next, since we were kind of between epic quests. A faction of us, the Deacon included, wanted to go back to Skull Mountain and clear it out once and for all. An okay idea, but the High Priest of the Temple pointed out that what we'd be tugging the tail on was an evil god. Way above our pay grade, so while he applauded our intentions, the execution of our plan probably would result in a whuppin' for the good guys.

Other options were to go to Restenford and see what the scene was like, or do the same at Bridgefair, which when last we left was buckling down for a siege from the same force that knocked over Restenford.

As we plotted and planned, we also went out and ran some errands. Greenwild was kind of middle of the road between sleepy little Restenford and big bustling Bridgefair, so it had a decent selection of goods and services.

First we hit the jewel merchant, to sell off the various gems and jewelry we'd picked up along the way. After selling all the bling except for the ruby, which would be handy in the event of needing to get someone raised from the dead, we pooled up the cash from Klint's bag of holding and the stuff we'd picked up in Skull mountain and divvied it all up, with each of us pulling down about 100 gp (which using Pauls house ruled money system wherein a Gold Piece is the new Platinum Piece).

We then dug up a mage, who had kind of a hippy sounding name that I'm afraid I don't recall right now. We had him ID all the potions and magical gear we'd stripped from frikkin' Cooper and his cult. Turns out the slimeball was wearing +2 leather armor and a ring of protection, and wielding a +1 Mace with some other magic on it that the mage couldn't identify.

After some discussion, the Deacon got the leather armor and Ring, with the understanding that the ring was party property until such time as the Deacon gave up a magic item divvy the next time it came up. So now I'm up to a beefier 3 AC from my perennial 5, which is good. I'm not usually in the front row, since my Mojo Stick allows me to attack from the 2nd. rank and heal up the pointy end of the party, but still it's nice to be a little tougher, after last week's fight with Cooper and the bludgeoning we took from the lava breathing statue.

He also identified the black and white flasks. The white flask held a powder which when mixed with water gave off clouds of poison gas. So it was very much the superweapon that some of the party see it as. We'll have to think of how best to use it without accidentally murdering ourselves in the process. The black flask held a magic oil that when added to a scrying pool it was keyed to could be used to view remote locations.

This led us to make a decision on our next mission. We figured we'd go back to Skull Mountain, avoiding taking on the evil volcano god that lives there, but clearing out what lesser monsters we might find. From there we'd use the scrying pool to check out Bridgefair and Restenford and see what that haps are.

Our final errand, besides buying up sufficient vittles for the trip, was to bulk up the roster a bit. So we hit The Pikeman, a local dive where we might hire some muscle.

There we met a halfling thief who claimed to be Klint's brother. Apparently Klint was a halfling afflicted with gigantism all along. Also, apparently they both belonged to a thieves brotherhood where all the members were named Klint, or perhaps Klint was a title, kind of like Darth. Since it was all there in the former Klint's will, we had no choice but to believe him, so now Half Klint has joined the party as our thief, inheriting his "brother's" Bag of Holding, his magic hat of seeing in the dark (which now SIX men have died for), his Ring of Feather Fall, his magic Sword +1(+2 vs. Undead), and his spellbook.

Our call for henchmen brought us two applicants, an earnest Paladin (whose name eludes me) and a shifty guy in black who seemed to be all about the stabbin'. We decided to go with the Pally and give the shifty guy a thanks but no thanks. He got a little rambunctious about it, threatening us that we'd regret it. Talk to the Mojo Stick, buddy...

Anyway, that was that, and we set out again for the Dead Hills and Skull Mountain, scarce believing that we were actually going back there for another incursion. I guess accruing experience points doesn't necessarily imply learning from experience.

Our trip was largely trouble free, except on the third day when my statement of trouble free-ness was emphatically contradicted.

We were plodding along thru open country when a huge winged shape flew overhead, blotting out the sun. It dove on us with a shriek, and buried its talons and hind leg claws into one of the draft horses pulling the cart. A gryphon! Wowsers!

So we all charged in to chase it off, and it turned into a pretty epic slugfest. Hearth's Ring of Animal Control had no effect, probably because it couldn't tune in the station properly between "lion" and "eagle". I whaled at it with the Mojo Stick but kept missing like a bozo. The thing had a wicked Claw/Claw/Bite routine, and mangled up Half Klint and tossed him aside like a chew toy. The halfling scurried under a bush, vanishing from sight.

The thing also laid a pretty serious lacerating on Frog, our former henchman turned full fledged PC. We were concerned that his player, who'd also played Liam, Gentleman Jack, and The Prince, was gonna have another dead character on his hands, but thankfully his luck and armor held. I guess being mauled by a gryphon wasn't ironic enough a death for a player who's trademark is becoming death by irony. Frog getting killed off by a gryphon was only ironic in the Alanis Morisette sense of the word (i.e. not ironic in the least, and you really should look up the definition of the word before doing a song about it.)

Isn't it ironic? Don't you think?

Still, we had the beast outnumbered and eventually the swords and spears of our fighters took the creature down. After we got everybody patched up and took our trophies from the creature's plume, we shoved it to the side of the road and moved on. (We probably could have eaten it, but it's hard to tell whether you should have red wine or white wine with gryphon...)

From there it was a fairly uneventful trip to the cave at the base of Skull Mountain where we set up camp. After a little debate about which approach to take, we decided to just walk on up to the front of the skull face and go in the "mouth".

And that's where we left off, standing on the platform and gazing in on the eerie stillness of the cave where so far we've taken a heavy weight beating every time we've gone in. Here's hoping for better things in 2011, since this is probably the final Labyrinth Lord session report for this year.

Thanks again to Paul for running an awesome show all year. Lookin' forward to seein' what you have in store for us next year. And I tip my hat to my fellow 10d gamers.

See you guys on the flipside.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

LL at Paul's: A Burning Sensation

Wowsers! Here we are again!

Okay, so last week we'd geared up, staffed up, and were ready to set out and go kick the collective kiesters of the evil volcano cult/thieves guild up on Skull mountain. We'd added three more henchmen, and a new player character in the form of an island prince who went by the name, The Prince. Our senior thief Klint was sporting a peg leg after having lost his leg to the cult's major domo, the sinister Cooper. We were all spoilin' for a little bit o' the dish best served cold.

So off we set from Greenwild, taking the long road through the dead hills. We met some wildlife along the way, but each time Hearth and his magic Ring of Aminal Control spared us a mauling. He sent a bear back into it's cave before it could block our path, and he sent a mountain lion, I think, off on a long run so we could finish our lunches at a roadside picnic table in peace. So yeah, handy thing, that ring.

We got to the hidey cave at the foot of Skull Mountain and found some alarming changes to the landscape. The grass and shrubs that had formerly concealed the front entrance had been torn away and trampled down, as if a furious battle had been fought here. We saw many footprints, and some splashes of blood, that didn't bode well. Checking inside, we saw a big black heart had been scrawled on the back wall. This led us to surmise that the Obsidian Heart had sprung an attack on whoever was here, best guess would be Bors and the Haberdashers, and things didn't go so well for our hat wearing friends. Hmmm. Hmmmmmmm.

So, we figured we ought git to it while the gittin' was good. We set up Darius and Garant at the cave with the horses n' mules and whatnot. There was no pulling the wagon inside, but we told 'em if things go hairy go hide in the cave and save what they could.

Our hirelings secured, the party of nine bold adventurers/henchmen set out to climb the mountain and slip into the caldera at the top, as we'd done before. The sinister drums were booming loudly from the depths of the mountain, but we didn't let it bug us. Yeah, keep drumming, culty, easier for us to find ya. Creeps...

We lowered each party member down in turn, with our new freshman thief Hare Sarlickson bringing up the rear with the rope and the Ring of Feather Fall that was our insurance policy against sudden vertical catastrophes. We crept into the crevasse, and made our way to the hole that led to a shaft that wound its way down to the counting room. We lowered Klint down head first by the rope, with instructions to either tug on the rope or tap out Morse code with his peg if he got into trouble.

Everything was clear at the hidden entry to the counting room, so we all went down. When Klint opened the door, there was nothing but darkness, which was a good sign. Nobody in there (unless the cult had some morlocks or something working for them).

We decided our first order of business would be to map out the rest of this bottom level, with an eye toward finding the contents of that nifty treasure list we'd found in the counting room last time. So we followed the hallways to the south, and stopped to check out the door that we'd ignored last time we were down.

This led to a small storage room lined with shelves. There was a coffer and a bag in here, which we decided to just sweep into Klint's Bag of Holding and deal with whatever locks or traps might be on them later. We searched the walls and shelves thoroughly, but didn't find any additional hidden doors or compartments.

We then proceeded to make our way down to the intersection where Evund Knifeweilder, our shortest term henchman ever, got shanked by the lurking Cooper. To the east was the large temple with the reptilian monster altar and the skulls lining the walls. We'd been here, and would check it out later.

To the west, we found a smaller room with a pool of some mysterious liquid in the middle. All around the chamber on the floors and walls a bunch of mystic type symbols were scrawled, and glowed faintly, I think. Unnerved, we didn't want to enter, so we had Klint cast his one spell, Detect Magic. He spotted some magical stuff in an alcove in the corner.

Taking note of that, we escorted him around to the other rooms so that he could suss out the magic stuff before the spell wore off. In the Gorn room, he saw that the statue was magical, and I think a couple other things were giving off some vibes but I don't rightly remember what.

With a couple minutes left on his detectometer, we sent him back to the room with the tapestries and the candelabra where we'd found The Prince, Belanus Birchson, and the late, lamented Caravan Guy. Klint let out a shout of surprise as a couple of lizard men jumped him. I guess the scaly bastards had been hiding around a corner as we passed.


We galloped to his aid and started smackin. Got a couple good blammos in with the Mojo Stick, and Kashim was slicing and dicing nicely. Hare tried to get in a backstab and nearly got killed hard, coming away with only 1 HP to his name. After we'd put the lizard men out of our misery we instructed the little guy to stay the heck outta combat from here on out.

After dragging the once and future handbags into a corner, we decided to give the room a once over. We pulled down all the tapestries and searched around for secret doors, but didn't find any. Aside from the glowing candelabra, which probably just had a Continual Light spell on it, this place was a wash.

So we decided to go poke around in the reptile idol room. We got busy searching the walls, checking over the carved skulls and other bits of grisly decor. Frog, our senior henchman, found an actual skull popped in an alcove among the carved ones. We checked it out thoroughly but didn't find anything of immediate interest.

We were nervous about the big magical idol, depicting a reptilian humanoid seemingly in mid stride passing through solid stone, with its clawed hand held up as if it were accepting a donation. We tried putting the skull there, but it didn't do anything. In fact, I don't know what it was we did to upset it. It just started moving and attacked us!
Yeah. So we formed up and started trying to fight back, with the guys with magical weapons taking the front. We got in some good hits on the thing, as far as I can tell, but it kinda trumped us all when it started barfing lava all over us.

Yeah, right off I think one of the miner brothers got his face set on fire, and the other one took it in the knee. A couple of gouts of burning rock later and they were crisped. The Prince got it really bad, a couple times. Before we knew it he was dead, and this particular player's third character had suffered another tragic, ironic death.

(Namely, his elven ranger, Liam O'Gara, was mauled by a cougar driven out of the woods by a forest fire he'd set. Gentleman Jack Getz, the foppish dandy, died naked in the form of a pig. And now a Polynesian styled Prince had died from lava burns. Farewell, sweet prince. We hardly knew ye... We'll never forget your sacrifice.)

Things were looking damn grim, and so the Deacon started telling the surviving henchmen to run for it. Klint hobbled away after I healed him up enough to move. It was all I could do to get Kashim to peel off. He wanted to go down fighting. I wanted to go.

Finally I persuaded him, and we scampered away, down by three guys. The thing didn't give chase, instead heading back to the wall and merging back into its former place.

So... ow! We regrouped at the branch of the two corridors and caught our breath. The Deacon used up all of his healing, including the scroll and potion of extra healing we'd purchased in Greenwild. That got Frog and Kashim up and functional, and cancelled everybody's critical injuries. We'd taken a hard tap to the face and had a bloody nose, so our earlier bravado had kind of changed to desperate fatalism. We still had to fight our way out of the mountain, or climb back up the half pipe and slink away in defeat.

We decided to go back to the chamber with the dark pool and all the magical markings and grab the magic stuff we saw there at least. This turned out to be a couple of flasks, a white one full of white powder and a black one full of a black oily substance. We'd obviously been hoping for healing potions, but c'est la donjon. We started to experiment, mixing a drop of the powder with the oil. That made a sludgy goop that just laid there.

We gave the pool of water the once over, and determined by lowering one of our magical, glowing Continual Light rocks down on a rope that it was about eight feet deep. Maybe there was something down there. We decided it would be the height of stupidity to go check.

So we settled for a lesser stupidity. Still fiddling with the flasks' contents, we took a pinch of the white powder and dropped it in the dark liquid. This caused billowing clouds of choking gas to rise up from the pool, filling the chamber. We all started coughing and hacking and making saves. Everybody made it except for our two thieves, Klint and Hare, who collapsed. We grabbed them and dragged them out. Much to our dismay, when we got clear, we found we were dragging a pair of corpses!

Dang... Near TPK and this was only room 3. Our forays into Skull Mountain were very Hobbesian... Nasty, Brutish, and Short. Particularly grievous for me was the loss of Klint, who was the only other character besides the Deacon who'd been with the party since the start. Man...

Now we were in survival and GTFO mode, with only four guys left. We decided that we would try to bring Klint's body out and hopefully find someplace that would do a Raise Dead. (This was less from story reasons as it was 'cos we'd killed him while his player was absent.) So we set about lightening the load 'cos we had to travel light. We dumped out his bag of holding, and lo and behold there was a TON of cash and gems in there that he'd obviously innocently forgotten to tell us about. Yeah... Maybe Klint's loss wasn't so grievous after all...

Still, we figured we'd raise him if we could, despite that. We chucked any extra gear, including his peg leg, and stuffed his carcass in the bag. We opened the sack and coffer we'd found in the store room (and by open, I mean slash/smash open.) and found more money and gems, and a couple of potion vials. Sadly, one of the vials got smashed as we roughhoused the coffer open, but all in all we cashed in pretty good.

So we filled the Bag of Holding with Klint and cash and made our way toward the stairs in the counting room. Our route out the caldera was closed to us now that both guys who could have made the climb were dead.

We made our way up the stairs, and found ourselves in the trappy labyrinth where we'd taken such a pounding in our first foray. Eventually, by carefully following the twists and turns, we managed to connect the tunnels to our existing map, and navigated our way to the surface after stepping gingerly over tripwires and trapdoors.

When we got to the upper level, we came to the room with the two drums, and found a couple guys taking a smoke break after a long session of drumming. We jumped 'em and killed 'em where they stood, and then rolled onward to the room with the dark stone statue. There, we headed up into the watch rooms and brought the fight to the cultists on guard up there.

Kashim ran into the room with the brazier and shoved one guy's face into the fire, while Frog and The Deacon went after the other guy. We had 'em dropped before they could put up any resistance.

We then headed down the other tunnel leading to the other eyesocket of the skull. One of the guys there had managed to nock an arrow, which he promptly shot thru the Deacon's leg, temporarily laming him. Kashim and Frog finished the bastard off, while the Deacon pulled out one of the flasks we'd just found, hoping it was healing potion. Mercifully it was Extra Healing, so my critical went away and I got back 2d6 pts.

We looked out the eye socket, and saw a big torchlight jamboree going on out on the platform out front. There were drugged out cultists lying around all over, and a pile of dead bodies at the center. We saw three figures in cloaks and robes go running in through the skull mouth. Trouble!

We ran down to head 'em off, with The Deacon warming up his Hold Person spell and Hearth prepping Sleep. We jumped out into the hall and let loose with our spells. One each of the two lesser cult leaders got neutralized by our spells, one slouching off to dreamland while the other froze in place.

That left us Cooper to deal with. He led with a Hold Person of his own, and thankfully managed to connect with Hearth, freezing the elf in place while Kashim, Frog, and The Deacon charged him.

From there we commenced to hack, slash, and smash. Cooper was tough, and probably had some kind of magical protection. He started chanting as if he was summoning something, raving about the Avatar coming to kill us all. (I'm not sure if he meant big blue cat people or little bald kids with arrows tattooed on their heads...) The Deacon kept whiffing with his Mojo Stick, which sucked 'cos I really wanted to knock the bastard's teeth in with a little BreeshkBOOM. He nailed me good on my hand with a mace, taking me to crit and putting me out of the fight. It was really hairy, 'cos I sure as HECK didn't want to be taken out by some wild eyed enemy cleric. That would have sucked.

Eventually, Kashim and Frog brought the smackdown, with Frog wielding Klint's fancy magic sword, and they brought the villain down.

Serves ya right, ya freak!

After catching our breath, we went out onto the platform and set t' stabbin' all the zoned out cultists. Good riddance to bad rubbish. We were mildly bummed to find the bodies they'd been using for their little Lollapalooza were Bors and his men. The Haberdashers had worn their last hats.

We lined 'em up as respectfully as we could, and limped down the mountain to the hidey cave to heal up, vowing to come back and claim the mountain for ourselves or something, or at least get our guys some decent burials, now that the Obsidian Heart was out of commission.

And that's where we left off.

Whew...

Real nail biter of a session there. We got pounded Old School style, nine guys down to four, and from really nasty causes too, like lava and poison gas. We came REALLY close to TPK. It was as close as the Deacon had been to goin' t' meet the Allmaker since he'd been crushed about the chest by that giant crab statue.

It was awesome!

That's what old school play is about, baby. Thrills, chills, spills, and high body counts. We cashed in big on XP, and our faithful hench honcho Frog leveled up. It was satisfying to take out the cult, and it was a really close fight too.

So now we got a vacated, novelty volcano, and two new characters that need to be made. Liam/GentelmanJack/The Prince's player has decided to just run Frog from here on out, so now it's up to Y√łgund/Jantz's player and Klint's player to bring us some new hotness.

All told, a solid night of gaming. Thanks once again to Paul and the 10d gamers for another rip snortin' session.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

LL at Paul's: Dog and Pony Show.

Ho there, ladies and gents.

Another week, another gripping tale of Labyrinth Lording from the table of Paul and the 10d gamers.

So when last we left off we'd dragged our half mangled carcasses back to the hidey cave after making two assaults on Skull Mountain and the evil thieves guild/cult we'd found there. We'd managed to liberate three prisoners from the depths of the tunnels, and once they'd snapped out of their drug induced catatonia there were introductions all around.

Foremost among them was a swarthy, tattooed fellow from a far off island kingdom to the south, who's name escapes me at this moment but who claimed to be a prince of his land. In general, the fellow's name was difficult to call to mind, so we took to just calling him The Prince (in much the same way my character is known as The Deacon). He was a fighting man, and seemed game for ongoing adventure, but he copped an awful lot of attitude for a guy with no pants.

The other two rescuees were mercifully more clothed, and one of them was, I'm quite happy to say, the object of our quest, Belanus Beechson the wayward acolyte of the temple of the Good Earth in Greenwild. The other guy was a merchant caravan guard who'd fallen afoul of the Obsidian Order. His name also escapes me, but that's all right because sadly he didn't last very long...

As night fell and we bedded down, around about the second watch we heard howling coming from outside the cave, and soon two gimundous wolves came sniffing around looking for a late night snack. They were as big as ponies, and The Deacon was afraid we'd have to do some more lycanthropy checks.
Ponies, I tell you! Pooooooooonieeeeeees!

Well, turns out this was a prime opportunity for our elven wizard Hearth to test out that Ring of Animal Control that The Deacon gave him. He reached out and took control of three of the brutes, stilling them and making them docile, while Kashim leapt to the attack with slashing sword to fight off the one that was dragging caravan guard guy away screaming.

After a furious fight, the beast lay dead, and three of its fellows were mesmerized by Hearth's ring. Sadly, caravan guy had succumbed to his wounds and lay dead as well. We stabbed the rest of the pack and stacked 'em up outside, then buried caravan guy next to Jantz the Ranger in the back of the cavern. (Sorry caravan guy. Your name's inscribed on the rock where you'll always be remembered... somehow... Meh...)

Thankfully, the fact that Hearth could control the beasts indicated that they were just regular old worgs or something, and that I wouldn't have to do any regular checkups to make sure somebody in the party wasn't gonna go all lycanthropic on us.

So anyway, the rest of the night passed uneventfully, save for a spirited debate on what our next move was gonna be. We could either head for Bridgefair, which was nearer and had more stuff, or we could make our way to Greenwild and drop off Belanus for the deposit.

We decided to head for Bridgefair. Partly so we could do some shopping/selling, but also 'cos that pointy eared bastard Tinhelm had stolen our horses and we wanted to git him while the gittin' was good.

So we trudged our way over hill and dale, and if there was gonna be a title for this stretch of travel, it would be "Hearth's Wild Kingdom". We had a couple encounters, and in both cases they were easily dealt with through our elf wizard's new found control over the critters.

Once, as we passed through a wooded area, we chanced upon a stampede of muskrats crossing our path, followed closely by a pair of giant weasels. The creatures turned on us, their fangy jaws slavering, but Hearth took one over and had it spring at it's companion, resulting in a big, bloody weasel fight. Once one had overcome the other, we slew the survivor lest it turn on us next. Weasels... they totally want to rip your flesh...

Next time, use more chlorine in the pool, buddy.

After having conquered the giant weasels, we made our way along to Bridgefair. When we got there, we found the city prepping for a siege, as an unknown army based in Restenford was making its way toward them.

After consulting with the gate guard, we opted to take a quick jaunt into town before the gates closed, maybe for good. Well, those of us who weren't wanted and liable to be killed on sight went in.

We hit the mercantile section of town, first stopping at our favorite place, the gnomish jewelers. Sadly, the adorable little guys weren't buying after having been robbed of their gold by some enterprising thieves. I guess we caught them while they were a little short. HAH!

... ahem ...

We did pay for them to appraise the handful of jewels we'd gotten hold of in our recent adventures. Unfortunately, they weren't worth much more than 2 gold apiece, but still it was better than nothin'.

We thanked them and wished them luck, then headed over to the horse trading/ration selling part of the market. There we bought up a stock of trail rations for our long journey to Greenwild, and purchased a couple mules to haul the food and to help along our recently handicapabled' companion Klint.

As the sun set, we hied ourselves out of town, asking at the gates if anyone had seen an elf in a big shiny hat lead a train of horses over the past couple days. Turns out one of them had, which was a disappointment to some of the party members who'd hoped it was all a big, expensive misunderstanding. So yeah, we've got an elvish horse thief on our hit list.

The real bummer of it all is there's no getting those horses back. They'll have been drafted into the war effort, and since Prince Hank seems to favor a head on pike style of justice there's no real legal recourse for it. Ah well. I'll miss ya, Buttercup.

After spending a bit more than we should have on ferry rides to keep a river between us and the approaching army, we set out from Bridgefair and headed toward Greenwild.

As we passed thru the hills, we encountered a bunch of wild horses, and Hearth unlimbered his magic ring again, culling two of them from the herd while the rest galloped away. The Prince was ready and willing to give chase to them, but we decided we were happy enough with this horsy windfall and called it a good outing. As it was, the wild mustangs were difficult for anyone but fighters to control, so with a couple extra rides we continued on our way.

After a couple more days uneventful travel, we made it to Greenwild as night fell. We hustled Belanus Beechson to the Temple of the Good Earth and presented him, and folks were all glad to see him. Thus, we closed the book on SOMETHING at least. Kashim's public nudity and befouling of a sacred aquifer were forgiven, and the priests even were willing to tell him about the Good Earth and the wonderful plan it had for his life. They were also cool enough to put us all up for as long as we wanted to stay in Greenwild, which is groovy. The bread was good, at least.

So now we were settled and feeling something of a financial pinch. We re-encountered Garant Graywand, our groom, and Darius the dog handler, which was awesome. Also awesome, after our big horse loss, was the fact that we still had our two drafters and the cart, as well as our faithful dogs, Y√łgund and Liam. Garant was glad to see us, and we set him to work training our newly acquired riding horses. Hirelings rock!

With that in hand, we decided what we wanted to do next was go back to Skull Mountain and clean the place out once and for all. The longer we let 'em sit, the more poor schmoes would get captured and sacrificed, and plus that treasure ledger we read in the counting room was pretty attractive. So we set about arming and equipping ourselves for a big expedition and frontal assault.

We bought a bunch of rations, and went to the Good Earth temple and got hold of a vial of holy water from the newly re-filtered fountain, as well as a three dose vial of healing potion and a healing scroll with three charges at pretty reasonable prices. We found a carpenter who sold us a good peg leg, lightly used, for Klint. And finally, we went around to the tavern and recruited another bunch of henchmen. We got three after we made our pitch, two burly miners named Ouri of the Evening Eye and Malatier the Boar, and a jittery little guy who called himself Hare Sarlickson, who claimed to be "fast! fast!". So two fighters and a thief. Good haul, all told, we need a few extra coffin stuffers to round out the group now that we're down to just Frog.

And thus, armed up and kitted out, we rolled out the Greenwild gates, destination... Skull Mountain.

And that's where we left off.

So yeah, a good session. One of those that's more shopping and book-keeping than adventure, but still some interesting stuff with Hearth and the magic critter gitter ring. I'm of course concerned about Bridgefair falling under the eye of whatever conquering force put the nom nom nom on Restenford, but heck, I guess if we keep a couple towns ahead of 'em we'll turn out okay. I hear Rosewater's nice this time of year.

Anyway, thanks again to Paul for running this hootenanny and thanks to the internationally flavored 10d gamers for being such a fun group.

Poonieeeees!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

LL at Paul's: If at first you don't succeed...

Guh... Turrrrkkeeyyyy....

Okay, so here we are back again at the ostensibly weekly recount of my action packed Labyrinth Lord game with my buddy Paul and the 10d Gamers. Last week, being so close to the holiday, was canceled, which is good since otherwise this would be another of my increasingly frequent double postings. So let us begin, shall we?

When last we left off, our gratuitous band of dungeon duffers had lowered ourselves down the caldera of a smoking volcano with a huge skull carved in the side, to take our vengeance on the bandit gang/cult that made their home there. After getting cornered by bowfire and fire of a non-bow variety we'd lost our trusty ranger Jantz, and had come very close to a tpk.

So back we went. We lowered our elf mage Hearth down and he discovered a small crevice along a tiny ledge with a combination of his night vision and his uncanny elf ability to find secret doors. Then, one by one we lowered down, each party member wearing a Ring of Feather Fall in case of emergencies, which we ferried up as each of us took a turn, until finally Klint climbed down using his thief climbing skill, coiling up the rope along with him. It concealed our tracks, but also made this a one way trip.

We inched our way along the small tunnel in pitch blackness, with Hearth in the lead with a rope tied around his waist that we all held onto. He came across a 2 foot hole in the floor, that he marked with a candle and stepped over.

Eventually, he came to a wall of inpenetrable blackness, opaque to all forms of vision. I seem to recall we rearranged the order and sent Klint up first, with his magic see in the dark hat. He proceeded thru the darkness, armed with a hastily planned out code for how many tugs on the rope meant what. After a short time, the rope started tugging, so we warily crept forward.

I don't remember the circumstances exactly (too much pie in the intervening time), but I do recall here that my metagame senses were tingling. Paul went off with the lead guy's player for a sideboard, and when he came back his descriptions of the rope signals and such made me really paranoid that our scout had been eaten and something was trying to fish us in.

Well, it turned out that wasn't the case. We made it to the other side of the 20' of blackness intact, although what we found there was in no way pleasant. In a forty foot diameter room we found an unholy idol that just RADIATED bad vibes. Far as I can figure, this is where Cooper the thief turned high priest found what passes for his religion.

I was really tempted to cast Bless on the thing to see what might happen, but on the other hand you don't pull the "self destruct" lever on anything without a clear way out, so we rain checked desecrating (consecrating? resecrating?) the evil altar. Probably a good thing. Klint touched it and got drained several points of strength. This was a seriously angry piece of furniture.

So we moved on, heading through a passage to the south and down. With painful memories of our prior experience down here in the Obsidian Order's complex, we were really careful/paranoid about traps, checking at every juncture we came to.

As we nosed around, it eventually became clear we were on the same level as we explored last week, with the pit traps and the fake doors and whatnot, and thus were able to connect the two maps.

We eventually got the the place where Jantz and Frog had fallen afoul of the crushing blocks trap, as our raspy voiced henchman recognised the hallway. Since he recalled a tripwire somewhere, we carefully searched the floor until we found it, noting it for future reference. Satisfied that we'd circumvented this trap, we pressed on.

And hit the second tripwire for the trap around the corner, causing a crushalanche of crushing.

Sigh... Sometimes it hurts...

Nobody was killed, but we all got seriously crunched up. Them's the breaks when 80% of the party is still first level or just slightly above. I think there were several crits that caused the Deacon to have to use up all of his Cure Light Wounds to get everybody moving.

And move we did, the heck outta dodge. Mercifully (more or less) by connecting up our maps we knew there was a way up and out, through the mouth of the big skull and down the mountain.

So we backtracked, passing by areas we remembered well due to the scars and burns, heading up the stairs and into the chamber with the black statue, then out.

As the only guys still functioning, the Deacon and Kashim staged a lightning raid on the guard post above, hitting the two bandits standing watch and taking them out before they knew what hit 'em. That cleared the way for us to get out without arrows and flaming oil chasing us, and we scampered back to the hideout cave that Bors and the Haberdashers had shown us to rest and recoup.

So flash forward to a couple days later. We've rested and healed, replenished our spells, and so we formed a plan, which was pretty much the same plan as before since there's no way the denizens of the mountain would expect us to do the same thing twice in a row. And for all they knew shoddy rope was what caused the crushing block trap to go off.

So up the mountain and down the caldera for us again. Same method of descent, lowered elf, ring of Feather Fall, Klint klimbing down after us, down the tunnel.

But here we changed our plan. We decided to see where the vertical shaft that Hearth had left the candle beside went to. We lowered Klint down with a rope around his ankles, and he came to a point where the shaft bent until it leveled off to become a tunnel. This he followed, until he came to a secret door leading into an illuminated room of some sort. After several back and forths, we all decided to crawl down there, leaving a rope hooked to the edge of the hole in case we needed to beat a not particularly hasty retreat.

Klint took the lead, and opened up what turned out to be a hatch underneath a workbench of some kind. Once we made sure the room was empty, we poked our noses out and checked the room out.

It seemed to be some kind of counting house, which implied *treasure* someplace nearby. There was the workbench, with several slots marked with different denominations of coins over buckets on the floor. There was a desk, that contained a ledger listing an awesome stash of treasure. (And if you can't see a hook with a nice juicy worm wriggling on it here, then you need to play more D&D. Do it now! Go!), as well as a magically glowing stone. Along one wall there were several sets of manacles. I guess the bandits did a l'il fact finding, in the medieval sense, in here too. The Deacon searched the writing desk, and palmed the glowing stone as a handy, dandy light source.

There were two exits from this room, so we checked 'em out. One led up to a set of stairs ending in a door, which we left alone thinking since this was probably the "Authorized Personnel Only" area we'd probably set off some kind of trap going thru it.

The other lead to a hall. We crept down it, and found a room off of the right side. Inside, three figures were tied to chairs, blindfolded with their heads lolling as if ensorcelled or knocked out. One was an acolyte of the temple that Kashim' had offended with his mighty nakedness, one was a swarthy gentleman of fighting aspect, and one was nondescript, kind of like a character who hadn't been created yet. The room they were in was painted with crazy, hypnotic patterns, and there was a glowing candelabra on the table.

The Deacon cast Protection from Evil on himself and went in with Kashim to check the prisoners out. They were unresponsive. We were nervous about the glowing object in the middle of the table. Either it was just a light source, or it had some kind of brainwashing or otherwise inimical effect, so we gave it a wide berth. We dragged the hapless captives out of their chairs and out into the hall, where their sluggish movements told us they'd probably been drugged. (Okay, Paul told us they'd probably been drugged, but work with me...)

So we decided to press on, with the contents of the treasure ledger dancing in our heads like sugar plums. We came to a fork in the tunnel, both branches quite dark, and decided to fan out to look down them.

Suddenly, Evund Knifewielder, our henchman, came over with a bad case of stabbing as a sinister figure faded out of the darkness and got the drop on him. One hit and the poor schook was dead. Enraged and confused, we pressed our attack, but found this guy a tough customer. He started throwing cleric spells at us, and managed to avoid my Hold Person. As the fight wore on, he started feeling pressed, and whistled up a bunch of lizard men to come help him.

After a long slugfest, we eventually conquered the lizards, but we were beaten up pretty bad once again. In the most tragic turn of events, Klint took a nasty slash and lost a leg! I used my last Cure Light Wounds to unfreeze Kashim from a Hold Person spell the evil cleric cast.

Still, we figured that this was probably the infamous Cooper, based on his combination of higher level cleric spells and theifly backstab abilities. We couldn't afford to let him get away, so we left Frog watching our suddenly unidextrous thief and the poor drugged up dopes back by the psychedelic room and charged down the tunnel through which Cooper fled.

Once there, we found a huge temple apparently consecrated to some kind of reptilian proto god.
GrrrrrYAYhey!

It was empty, save for the tyrannosaurus idol and a couple of flickering braziers. (Flickering brassieres is a different temple, fraught with different perils.) We couldn't find hide nor hair of Cooper, so we doubled back to rejoin our sizable injured reserve list. Since we had more walking wounded then functional party members, we sadly had to leave Evund's body behind. Here's hopin' it don't come back after us all zombied up. (And in case you get any ideas, Paul, I can turn the crap out of a zombie now, so don't try anything funny...)

We dragged everyone back to the counting room and escaped via the hidden door, dragging a one legged man and a trio of doped up goofballs up the tunnel and then made our nervous way forward through the darkness and into the temple room with the nasty altar. From there we doubled back on our escape path once again, and once again lucked out meeting no resistance. The guard room was empty, so we took off down the mountain to our hidey cave, and that's were we wrapped.

So all told, pretty crazy. Two assaults on the mountain, two times the mountain assaulted us back and took it out of our hides. A lot of near misses and nail biting suspense. This place is HARD!

On the plus side, we figure that the acolyte guy we found was the subject of Kashim's quest spell, so all we have to do is take him back to Wildwood and that will be settled. The other two guys are replacement characters for the late, lamented Jantz and Gentleman Jack Getz, so it'll be interesting to meet 'em. I think we're done with Skull Mountain for now, but we'll probably come back and square up accounts once we've leveled up.

Speaking of which, the Deacon finally made 5th. level this go round, so I now have access to 3rd. level spells like Remove Curse and Cure Disease, which is awesome.

Our other high level character, Klint, is now something of a question. Unfortunately, all this nasty stuff happened to him while his player was out, so I'm not sure how he's gonna want to proceed now that his character is short a leg and strength drained to boot. (Only one boot, though.) Is he gonna strap on a peg leg and soldier on, or is he gonna retire to a farm and spend his days stealing eggs from his chickens? Can't say.

Anyway, all told, more fun than you can shake a 10' pole at. Thanks again to Paul, and to the rest of the 10d gamers for another hoopy session.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

LL at Paul's: Double Indemnity

Aw fer cripes sake...

Geez, I've been pretty remiss at this. Better catch up. There's two sessions worth of action to recount here, so buckle down while I try to slog thru. There were a couple Wednesdays that we didn't play as well, one because Paul was busy having tea and crumpets in England, and one the week before last because we had a critical player shortage for various reasons.
I guess they were all busy with something else...

Okay, so when last I was not being lazy about blogging the sessions, we were all in Elfhold figuring out what our next move was gonna be. We decided that we would head back through the Gloomwood and go to Skull Mountain to take care of Kashim's little curse problem, which was a result of him serving the fantasy schmantasy version of community service for skinny dipping in a temple's holy font one carousy evening.

So we formed up and set out, after going to the elvish equivalent of a tavern and picking up a couple more hirelings to supplement our offensive line. We found two likely subjects, a human in full plate armed with a mace named Evund Knifeweilder and an elf with a fancy helmet who went by the name of Tamar Tinhelm. Since we figured this was gonna be a long, rough journey, we hired 'em both, and after bulking up our rations set out on horseback.

After leaving the elvish lands we retraced our steps along the ruined road through the dark, sinister heart of the Gloomwood, a land that was once an elven kingdom that had kind of turned into a DMZ since a long ago great war between elves and men.

I think the first night we spent camping out was uneventful, but the second night we had another encounter with wereboars. The group that was up on watch included Gentleman Jack Getz, and I think Evund and maybe Jantz. As before trouble came slouching up the road in the form of a big, fat, ugly naked guy.

Getz approached him and got the same slurred demand for food, so he decided to just attack. The creature transformed into its bestial form, and let out a resounding squeal that echoed thru the woods. This meant more trouble was coming. The fight was pretty fierce, and our foppish thief ended up getting wounded so badly he decided to pull back and climb a tree to get out of the creature's reach. Two more boars crashed out of the woods at the creature's summons and charged to the attack with fierce tusks. The exact details of the fight are hazy by now, but I think our henchman Frog and maybe one of the new guys took care of them while Kashim, Klint, and the Deacon, who all posessed magic weapons, ganged up on the wereboar and took it down. I seem to recall Klint's bejeweled magic blade did the most damage again. I think we should start calling his sword "Pigsticker", but then maybe that doesn't have quite the panache he'd want.

Anyway, we coaxed Gentleman Jack down from the tree and healed him up, and spent the rest of the night in as much peace as you can in a spooky, doom haunted wood.

The next day we packed up and traveled on, and were still in the vast, scary forest when it came time to bed down. Around about the second watch, it was Kashim (played by myself since his player was absent), Gentleman Jack, and probably Hearth the Elf sitting up playing harmonicas and philosophising. Kashim had wandered to the periphery of the camp to check on something (so Paul informed us), when he got jumped by another raging giant boar. He turned on the creature with his Vadium sword and put it down with three brutal slashes.

To his horror, when the thing's last breath escaped in bloody bubbles from its snout, it shrank and transformed into the dead body of Gentleman Jack Getz!

Hamina hamina hamina!

Now, as the Deacon I kick myself a little 'cos it never occurred to me that Getz would contract lycanthropy, although that's what is very likely to happen if you take over 50% damage from a lycanthrope. If it had, we probably would have watched him a little closer after he got treed by that wereboar. As a proxy player for Kashim, I have no regrets, save of course killing a compatriot. He's a headstrong man of action attacked by a fierce beast, and I kinda think that somebody from the southern desert lands wouldn't exactly dig on swine...

So with a heavy heart, we buried Gentleman Jack after Klint looted his finery. (It's a thief thing...) and went on our way.

Soon, we'd made it out of the haunted wilderness into more familiar territory. We passed the crumbling castle where we'd encountered Tevlar the sorceror, and shook our fists as we rode by. We'll get back to you, buddy boy...

We eventually got to the fork in the road that took us either to the town of Wildwood, or toward the Dead Hills and our destination, Skull Mountain. So we took the exit to Skull mountain.

Sure enough, as we got closer to it, it did look like a mountain with a skull on top. It seemed it was originally just natural formations, but had been helped along to make it more skull like by whoever or whatever occupied it.

We camped out at the base of the mountain, and during the night, we saw lights flickering in the mouth and eye sockets, and heard the beating of drums deep inside the mountain. Spookular!

Unsettled, we kept a watch on it but spent the night otherwise undisturbed.

The next morning, we set out on foot up the mountainside, leaving Tamar Tinhelm with the horses. He was a bit put out, having hired on to adventure, not just watch the horses, but we assured him he'd get his turn on the next outing.

We approached the face of the skull and stood on the platform in front of a row of stalactites that formed the thing's "teeth" in front of a cave mouth. Of course, just standing around in front of a big, frightening edifice like that is sure to invite trouble, which it definitely did, as arrows started to rain down on us from the eye socket windows.

The party scampered inside and made our way down a hallway leading inward from the mouth. About 3/4'ths of the way along, our lead guys, who were Jantz and Kashim, suddenly found themselves doused in oil from a murder hole in the ceiling. We just barely managed to back out of the way as a torch dropped down, setting the pool of oil at their feet alight but missing the party.

We backpedaled to the cave mouth, and for some insane reason members of the party tried to strike up a parley with the guys up in the eye sockets. I don't totally recall what was said, all I remember is our doughty group trying to bargain from probably the weakest position I've ever heard of. We were invading their hideout. What the hell were we hoping to convince them of? That we were selling Amway or something?

Anyway, we finally got back into game on mode and went back down the hall after the flames had died down, coming to an octagonal chamber with this black stone statue of some nondescript, sinister figure in a cloak with horns and a monster face.

There was a staircase to the north, which we followed up and around to find a sort of watch room where two sketchy looking guys were hanging out with bows in their hands and empty oil barrels. Having put a face to our pain we put some pain to their faces and took them down. Searching them didn't turn up much, just their weapons and some leather armor. Probably bandits or some such.

So we doubled back to the room with the statue and checked it out for hidden compartments and secret stuff. Didn't find any. We took the other exit from the room, and found ourselves in a large, vaulted chamber with a couple of kettle drums and a set of stone double doors at the far end. This was where we broke off this session.

Flash forward two weeks later. We start off standing in the room with the kettle drums. Jantz, our ranger, decides to slice open the drums, but there's nothing inside, so we check out the doors. Klint searches them over, then successfully picks the locks. Beyond, we find a hallway, so we follow it around until it comes to a set of stairs leading down.

We take the stairs down, and come to a juncture of underground hallways. Jantz uses his tracking skills, and finds several sets of footprints leading down the one to the north, so we follow that one. He also spots a couple sets of tracks leading to a section of the wall and stopping.
Hmm. Looks like an ambuscade...

So we send Klint forward, creeping silently along with his theifly abilities and using his see in the dark hat to good effect. He spots a crevice in the wall and approaches, and dodges back just in time as someone lunges out with a sword and tries to strike him. He backpedals, and decides to fight liars with fire, tossing a lit flask of oil into the breach. We're rewarded with the sounds of shrieks coming form the occupants of the alcove, as we charge in to attack. The Deacon finishes one off with his Mojo Stick (Breeshk! BOOM!) and the other guy is too on fire to put up much of a fight. (You know what they say: Build a man a fire, you keep him warm for a night. Set a man on fire, you keep him warm for the rest of his life...)

Since our two fricaseed friends are too toasty to search right now, we keep heading forward. The tunnel hits a T junction, so we head south, and round a corner where Jantz and Kashim suddenly fall into a concealed pit trap. Once again, d'oh! I'm a little hazy, but I think Jantz took a critical and exploded his kneecap on landing, which meant the Deacon had to heal him up when they got him back up out of the hole.

There's a little bit of hall beyond the pit, so we figure maybe there's something good hidden behind this trapped area. So we start sending party members over by having them climb down into the pit and up the other side with Klint's expert climbing leading the way. We send Hearth over with is elvish ability to find secret doors, and maybe one of the henchies.

The rest of us stay on the other side of the pit, and search along a wall that by a trick of the map looks like it might lead to some kind of concealed room. Neither group finds much of anything by way of secret doors though.

Next thing we know, suddenly we're taking bow fire from a bunch of guys down the hallway. Crap. You'd think these guys don't want us down here or something...

Kashim, Jantz, and Frog charge them, and I think manage to cut at least one of them down, sending the others fleeing. The Deacon tries to fire off a Hold Person, but due to Paul experimenting with turn order and spell initiative it doesn't go off in time to affect anyone, and I lose the spell. (I won't hash it out here. We're still in negotiations about it. He's posted about it here.)

We drag the corpses over to where their fellows are smoldering, and find they've cooled down enough to search, not that we turn up much more than fresh charcoal. So we decide to move on, heading up the other way from the hall with the pit. We round the next corner to the east, and find... Another pit!

Sigh...

I think once again I had to repair a broken leg on Jantz, and I think Frog or Evund dislocated something too. On the other side of the pit, there's a short dead end hallway heading north, and a doorway just past the pit. We cross over and check it out, and discover that the door is in fact a fake, with a solid stone wall behind it. We cross back over to the other side to decide what our next move will be.

While we're considering our options, we come under more bow fire from the complex's inhabitants. We return fire and send the survivor running, but now Evund (Played by the late Gentleman Jack's player until his new character gels up), Frog, and Jantz have their blood up and go chasing after them. They run through the dark hallways following the retreating bandit's torch, and eventually fall afoul of a crushing block trap that wounds them all severely. Mercifully, they're alive, but they're deep in enemy territory having not bothered to map their progress. Meanwhile the rest of the group is staying put by the pit so as not to get TOO separated.

Finally, our half crushed wayward party members find their way back to us. By now we're all pretty badly munched, and we're out of spells, or at least out of spells that are of immediate use. So we make the brilliant tactical decision to hole up on the other side of the pit in the little space made by the dead end hallway. We detach the fake door from it's hinges and set it up as a barricade.

Now, at this point I'll take a moment to comment on what my esteemed DM Paul has deemed the Goldilocks Syndrome in a post he made pertaining to what happened. In short, it is MONUMENTALLY STUPID to camp out in an occupied space, essentially in enemy territory. He likens it very much to someone deciding to take a nap in the bedroom in the midst of a home invasion, leaving the house's occupants to mount whatever defenses they choose.

Looking at it rationally, I'll have to agree about 90% with this sentiment. We *really* need to stop doing this, as it has bitten us on the posteriors almost every time we've done it. On the other hand, though, there are times where you've just clawed your way through a perilous dungeon, and finding yourself bereft of resources, the choice between facing the way out with nothing in your tank vs. holing up to try to replenish isn't quite so easy to make. I think it's an easier call in a "wilder" place like a ruin or cave complex, which is almost the same as camping in the wilderness, vs. this instance, where we were very much in somebody's home. No, not home, a better word would probably be fortified base.

So yeah, the fruits of our bad call came calling around first watch, when a couple guys took up a position at the far end of the hall and started pelting us with flasks of flaming oil and arrows. The barricade was set alight, so we kicked it down into the pit, and then the space in front of the fake doorway was filled with burning oil, leaving us crouched against the wall in the little 10X10 space to the north.

Jantz stepped out and tried to return fire, and got an arrow in the neck, dying instantly. I think Hearth tried to cast Sleep but got his spell interrupted. Kashim, Evund, and the Deacon all tried to jump the pit and failed, falling to the bottom and taking damage, and then taking even more as a flask of oil landed down there with us. Things were looking pretty bleak. Could this be the end for little Rico?

Klint made the leap across and charged them, maybe with Frog backing him up. Either way, it was a close call, but he killed our attackers before they could toss another flask and sent the rest packing. We hauled the guys in the pit up and out, grabbed Jantz's body, and beat feet for the exit.

Out out out, run run run, go go go!

We didn't stop until we'd gone all the way out the skull mouth and down the mountain, down to the campsite where Tamar Tinhelm and our horses should have been waiting, but werent.

Aaaarrrrgh...

So we camp out, congeal and heal. In the middle of the night we hear more drums from the skull, and see more lights. Hey, keep it down up there, ya jerks!

The next morning, we see a bunch of riders approaching. Playing it cool, we approach and parley. Their leader is a fella with a FABulous hat who goes by the name of Bors Tolvek. We decide not to let on we just raided skull mountain, in case these guys were from there, instead just telling them we're refugees from the hobgoblin raids in Restenford.

As we fall to talking, we get the skinny on the Skull Mountain and it's occupants. Seems the riders are the last remnant of a thieves guild known in Bridgefair as the Haberdashers. A while back, they had a guy by the name of Cooper try a takeover, which failed, so they gave him the standard severance package, which took the form of them carrying him up to the smoking crater at the top of Skull Mountain and tossing him in. Somehow, he survived, and returned claiming he'd become the servant of some dark god living there. He started a cult, which took over most of the Haberdashers and brought them out to set up shop in Skull Mountain. From there, they started raiding and kidnapping, taking hapless souls into the grisly mountain to unknown fates. They beat their drums whenever captives had been taken. Bors and his men had made a habit of checking up on the cult's activities, but weren't strong enough to fight them head on.

We decided to come clean with these guys after determining they were the enemies of our enemies, and told him we'd made a raid on the mountain and killed a few of them. He wasn't interested in joining forces with us for another go, but he was kind enough to lead us to a secluded cave where we could rest up and heal without being bothered by raiders from the cult, which called themselves the Obsidian Order.

We also asked if any of his guys had seen an elf with a big helmet and a bunch of horses. One of Bors' men said he had seen an elf matching that description leading a bunch of horses toward Bridgefair.

Son of a bitch must pay...

So we rested up for a couple of days, getting ourselves back up to fighting trim. We buried poor Jantz in the back of the cave, too worn out to think of anything novel to do with the corpse. We also buried the nasty protoplasmic slime which was all that remained of our very late mage Koode's face. (Remember that? I'd been carrying that nasty thing around for weeks. Sometimes it's tough being the group's general purpose medic/chaplain/undertaker... Egughhghhh...)

Once that was done, we drew up our plan. We decided if this Cooper guy could survive getting tossed into the caldera with no rope but the little bit binding his ankles and wrists, we could do even better with the whole 100 feet we had at our disposal.

We approach the mountain again, taking care to skirt around to the opposite side of the mountain from the skull face part. We climb up to the plateau, and find the large, smoking hole in the ground where the Haberdasher's used to deal with their discipline problems. (I know it wasn't really the Deacon's place, or his alignment, to point this out to him, but really a dagger across the jugular is a lot more efficient way to handle this sort of thing, unless they were trying to rack up frequent rider miles or something...)

We sent Hearth down on the rope into the choking smoke, and sure enough with his uncanny elvish vision spotted a small ledge with a crack in the wall leading into the depths of the mountain. So we proceeded to lower the group down one by one, using a combination of Klint's Ring of Feather Fall with the rope for insurance, and to send it up for the next guy. Each party member then crept into the narrow crevice, groping forward in the pitch dark, until Klint finally brought up the rear, climbing down using his natural theifly skill and bringing the rope with him. We'd gone in on a one way trip, baby.

The party inched along, only lighting a light when the lead guy came across a hole in the floor that we needed to step over. We eventually came to a widening of the tunnel, and that was where we left off.

So yeah, a lot of thrills and chills. Two dead party members for two sessions, from debateably avoidable circumstances. So we'll be starting next time with a couple new PC's. The plot is indeed thickening. Our enemies list is growing too, now including Tevlar, the entire Obsidian Order, and frikkin' Tamar Tinhat the elven horse thief. On the plus side, I think most of the guys who're wanted in Bridgefair are now dead, so we can go into the city without getting tossed in the slammer. (I think it's just Kashim now who'd be on a wanted poster. Maybe if we get him a hat or a fake beard or something he'll blend in better.) We still need to work on our tactics a bit. That's for sure. Paul's gonna need to update his graveyard sometime.

Anyway, this one goes out to the party members, living or dead. Thanks to Paul for running an awesome game, and thanks to the rest of the 10d Gamers. Shine on you crazy diamonds...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Zombie Jamboree

Everybody was back to back, belly to belly, but I don't give a damn 'cos I'm stone dead already.

So, as a last shambling remnant of a nearly solid month of gamey weekend goings on in October I'm gonna report on my friends Scott K. and Karin K.'s "Eat Your Brains" zombiepocalypse game this past Saturday.

The whole thing started on a chilly night on the outskirts of an isolated town.

Seems almost peaceful, doesn't it? Except for that bunch of zombies there...

The team who went out to investigate included a wannabe ghostbuster with a proton pack, a two fisted private investigator (played by yours truly), the town drunk, the local fire chief, and a trio of lovely ladies composed of somebody's girlfriend, a candy striper, and the intrepid Duffy the zombie re-slayer.

Stay together, and keep heads and arms inside the ride at all times...

It was fairly smooth going for the group early on, as we pelted down the road to try to reach the far end of the map, where we could see some kind of eerie glow through the trees. Then the zombies started building up, popping up at five spawn points: the creepy old tree by the pumpkin patch, the graveyard, the ancient monolith in the farmer's field, the weird old statue in the middle of the woods, and worst of all, the dreaded pet cemetery.

This was the all time heaviest populated of the zombie spawn points. We figure they must have buried the touring company of "Cats" there or something...

After initial progress the foremost of the group charged a cluster of zombies by the woods. The fire chief went in swinging with his axe while the town drunk used his drunken kung fu. The wannabe ghostbuster was doing the most damage to the zombies with his proton pack, which had an area effect. The girlfriend was quite effective with her scream, that could force the creatures back, and with a torrent of thrown bottles and plates that she produced from... somewhere. The town drunk, inebriated though he was, scored a blow for the breathing by destroying the creepy statue at the center of the woods with a well placed molotov cocktail.

C'mon, bring it you staggering bastards! I was talking to the zombies, town drunk...

As they lagged behind, the rear guard had an unpleasant surprise in the form of the zombie princess, who came levitating up the road spawning zombies every nine minutes and generally being an ectoplasmic push broom, forcing us forward. We tried to nail her with one of the explosive pumpkins that were scattered about the area but the damn things skins were too tough to burst with gunfire. (@#$%*>:( Warhammer style hit/wound rules...)

"You found me beautiful once." Baby, you got real ugly...

Things started to go skull gnawingly south by the fence by the forest, as the number of zombies started to overload the heroes, and one by one they fell to the zombie bites, arising as undead horrors themselves and shambling after the living.

Back to back, belly to belly, yes my friends...

The wannabe ghostbuster held out the longest, drawing the big crowd and keeping them from mobbing the girlfriend and the candy striper, who made an end run around the woods to try to get to the objective.

Not even that restraining order will keep the zombie town drunk at bay now...

Meanwhile, back by the old church Duffy was making a heroic last stand, re-deading zombies left and right with her awesome corpse fu, until she fell to the undead remains of the two-fisted detective, who'd fallen to one of the Zombie Princess' minions after failing to ignite any pumpkin bombs...

Punch! Kick! It's all in the mind. Mmm Braiinnsssss....

After some desperate screaming and the heavy use of a satchel full of drug cocktails, the two intrepid final girls made it around the woods, to find what was causing that eerie glow. Uh oh! Doomsday cultists!

I hate those guys!

The candy striper, drugged to the gills and still riding high from taking out the Zombie Princess and setting her back to the start of the road, tried to take a shot at the cultists, but she and the girlfriend were soon bourne down by the mob of shambling undead. The cultists summoned a nameless horror from beyond space and time, culminating a fine ritual season with a strong showing at the regionals...

They're gonna have to do better, though, if they wanna compete at the state level with the team from Dunwich...

So all told a fine evenings fun. We were scored by how many deadheads we popped while alive, and big bonus points for how many humans we munched when we crossed over.

The candy striper's player took the most points with zombie kills and taking down the Zombie Princess, while the wannabe ghostbuster did a lot of damage as well. I took first blood with the detective, and got good points for finally taking down Duffy when I went all shambolic.

So the candy striper won the prize, a bottle of fine sippin' whisky for those cozy nights where you're holed up in your Omega Man redoubt taking potshots at the moaning hordes of undead gathered around the barricades.

Fun stuff. Thanks to Scott K. and Karin K. for setting up this swell event and having us in to lurch around your lovely home. Lookin' forward to what you cook up for next year.

Back to back. Belly to belly Ha ha ha haaaa!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Booga booga!




P.S. A couple YouTubular selections to round out the holiday:

He vill rue da dai he vus boern a Fronckensteen...

A shout out to Cleveland, Oh!, where they're serious about Halloween. Stay Sick!

Superstition! From back when Sesame Street was funkay!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Son of Creepy Crawl 2010 - Analysis


Ha ha ha ha hah hah haaaaah!

Another hum dinger of a session. This time I had four players, and no henchmen, initially.

Which is funny, because the theme for the evening was definitely henchmen abuse!

Renegotiate your contract? I'll renegotiate your face with my boot, worm!

An excellent deploy on the fireball ended what looked to be a pretty tough fight, and netted them four terrified minions, plus the raw materials to make more. *shudder* So lots of fun with the TMD's (Transylvanian Mine Detectors) and redshirt action. (I just realized the minis actually are kind of red, color wise. Win!)

It was also fun to whittle down the huge entourage of undead through the sinister influence of the vermilion earth. Gotta be careful when yer carting around that many undead, they can turn on ya...

The biggest laffs of the evening were from the grimling skeleton randomly floating around in the chamber of electroskulls, just going about it's business holding up the torch as if nothing was amiss. Heh.

A couple of the fights dragged a little, but that was as much tactics as it was execution. All told, they were mostly satisfying, and again I'm amazed at how much can be crammed in to what was essentially four & change hours of play.

The biggest problem I had was I somehow allowed orientation on the dungeon map vs. orientation for the players to get all kerfloopty, which made it hard to keep track of where the players were going, and I ended up fudging toward the end. I don't quite know how it happened, but I ended up having to read my keyed map upside down.

So gavel down, from here on out, North is always away from me, south is toward me, east is right and west is left, as if I'm looking at a sheet of paper right side up. I shoulda cracked down sooner on that 'cos it really threw things off. Again, I dunno how we got it twisted around...

That aside, again I was stoked that the stuff we got to was the stuff I wanted to highlight. The fight with Morgus was a treat 'cos he played so prominently (and somewhat disjointedly) in last year's Halloween Crawl. My wednesday DM Paul ended up as Morgus' arch enemy last year, and I was gratified he was here at this session, albiet as another character.

The sandboxy nature of Ghoulardia pass got to shine, as each session caused elaborations on following sessions. One prime example of this was the Crypt of Gore De Vol, that became the lair of the Iron Skull in the next session, finally becoming the electrified room of floating bones, all based on what had transpired before. The werewolf lair becoming the spider wolf's lair is another example, or the red earth in Vladek Lobovich's tomb.

That said, though, I think for next year I'll cook up something new and give Ghoulardia Pass its well earned rest in a shallow grave. Mini sandboxes are a hoot, tho. I recommend them highly.

And so, another Creepy Crawl season comes to a terrifying end. Thanks to the players who came out to both sessions with their own brand of awesome! I hope you all had a good time.

I'll let the Aquabats play us out...

STAY CREEPY, FOLKS!

Son of Creepy Crawl 2010


Yes! They thought it could be killed! They thought it would never return to haunt us!

I had such a blast last week with the Creepy (dungeon) Crawl that I decided to bring it back another week for another helping of ghoulish ghoulash. Let us see what transpired on a dark, October night...

It was late at night in Ghoulardia Pass, and yet more disreputable malfeasants had been driven from the sullen city limits of the Krunkavian hamlet of Strangledorf.

Left to right: Cliff the Homanculus, Solomon Bach the totally metal Cleric,
Kolomalu The Mad, a sinister wizard, and Boris the Grimling.


As the four travelling scoundrels passed beneath the stern edifice of Cardille Keep, they reasoned among themselves that that might be a good place to seek out their shared goal of universal power. But first, a little grave robbing, provided by the vast cemetery that covered the barren hill below the keep.

With some difficultly, they eventually instructed Cliff to use his vast strength to bend some of the rusting iron bars of a wrought iron fence surrounding the graveyard. Once inside, Boris set to sniffing for graves most likely containing suitable corpses.

The troupe's eyes lit on a partially dug up grave at the center of the graveyard, complete with shovels poking out of the earth. As they grabbed the still warm shovels to set about digging, a booming terrifying voice echoed out to leave the grave alone and flee. The group looked at each other, shrugged, and kept digging. The voice called out no more.

While their grotesque assistants worked, Kolmalu and Solomon Bach examined the headstone, and found it belonged to a dead sorceror of ill repute known as Svengoolie. Truly an excellent corpse to dig up.

As soon as Boris called up from the grave that they'd struck wood, the same voice called out, this time from behind a nearby crypt, shouting. "TAKE THEM! MORGUS COMMANDS IT!"

With a bloodthirsty shout, a quartet of ruffians leapt from behind the crypt, at the behest of an evil looking wizard, who stood flanked by homanculus and grimling henchmen.

Yes, get them my pretties... er... my henchmen!

The battle was joined, as the cutthroats hacked at the grisly grimling and hearty homanculus. But the evil Morgus hadn't counted on the phantasmagorical Kolomalu the Mad.

Hot cha cha!

Finding themselves suddenly unemployed, the singed but surviving henchmen of the pile of charred bones that had been Morgus the Malevolent decided to enter a new contract with Kolomalu and Bach, and thus the party's ranks were swelled by four.

Ehhh. It's a living...

Naturally (or unnaturally, to be honest), the new henchmen's first task was to finish digging out Svengoolie's grave and lift out the casket. Inside, in addition to a lovely new skeleton, they found several bone scroll casings full of arcane scrolls of great power.

Invigorated by a good grave robbing, the group formed up and marched up the hill toward the gates of the keep. A wolf's head of iron with a ring in its mouth hung on the door, so after some coaxing and trial and error, they got the level headed (literally!) Cliff to knock.

The door opened with a soft click, although no earthly doorman awaited on the other side. Beyond, another door to the inner sanctum held a similar knocker, so they repeated the polite gesture. This time, the double doors swung open with a grating creak, revealing a large, circular feast hall, watched over by figures in red, rusted plate mail bearing halberds.

Desiring to take no chances, Solomon Bach started throwing fire, in the form of torches and flasks of oil, into the room, setting the table and tapestries smoldering. Boris and Ernest the henchman stepped inside, and found themselves challenged by a booming voice, that said.
"WHO ENTERS THIS HALL?"

Lacking a good answer, they said they were just friendly neighborhood grave robbers. This got the armored figures moving, striding toward them from all sides with halberds raised to strike.
Boris scuttled back among the group, as the unfortunate Ernest took a painful looking stab to the groin and went down moaning.

Just walk it off, Ernest!

After a furious battle and more fire throwing, Solomon Bach invoked the power of his nameless deity and laid a mighty turning on the threatening guards, destroying three where they stood in a burst of shattered armor and grave earth. One fled, on fire and crashed into another tapestry, setting it alight, while the surviving warriors took the other two down. Boris crouched over the writhing, moaning Ernest, to "render aid", and somehow a moment later he was dead. Ah well...

Once the dust settled and the flames were smothered, Solomon decided they now had enough bones and corpses to invoke is Animate Dead spell, and with a quick unhallowed ritual, five skeletons and a zombie now shambled ahead of the party. The living henchmen had been promoted!

Ehhh. It's an unliving...

The party discovered a ramp downward, and decided to take it, going deeper into the creepy keep.

They found a wine cellar filling the next floor down, with cobweb draped bottles in criscrossed racks covering the walls. Cliff, in the spirit of experimentation (since he was an experiment himself) started taking down bottles and drinking them before anyone could stop him. He drank a bottle, and suddenly vanished into thin air. Try as the rest of the party might, they couldn't get him to understand that he'd become invisible, so they just threw up their hands and continued.

Kolomalu took down a bottle and discovered it tasted like blood. (The henchmen were a bit unnerved that he recognized the taste so readily.)

Cliff took down another bottle and drank, and felt funny in the tummy. It was doubly funny for his companions, who watched the eerie outline of a homanculus' stomach fill with bubbling, boiling liquid in midair. The simple minded giant was indeed lucky he had such a good constitution against poisons.

Kolomalu took down two bottles and decided to mix them in a jug, and ended up with a nice jug of poison blood. Perhaps it would come in handy later.

Moving on, the party found themselves in the deepest basement of the keep, a large round room with a dais in the center, surmounted by a stone coffin. The earthen floor of this room, out to a narrow band around the perimeter, was a bright, vermilion red.

When Solomon Bach's contigent of undead stepped onto this red earth, an eerie red light came to their eyes, and suddenly they turned on their master. A furious battle ensued, joined by two more zombies shuffling out from a row of four cells along one wall, and by a strange, ghostly figure of etherial flames that hovered over the coffin.

Obey me! I am your master! Oh fiddlesticks!

Enraged, the cleric turned his minions and destroyed them, save for the animated skeleton of Morgus' grimling henchman, who stepped off of the red earth and had fallen back under his control.

Kolomalu read from o
ne of the recovered scrolls and cast Move Earth, causing the vermilion soil to leap into the stone coffin like an uncanny reverse fountain, as the fiery spirit took on the cruel, enraged features of the vampire Vladek Lobovich.

At his companion's instruction, Cliff hastily grabbed up the coffin's offset lid and slammed it back onto the top. The flaming wraith dissipated with a moan.

After a brief sweep of the room, they found nothing but a cryptic message from a gypsy girl named Stella, only legible thanks to Kolomalu's Read Language spell. She said she had escaped on her own wits but was now lost in the catacombs. Should someone help her, she would bestow a good luck kiss upon them. Confused by this, the roving band of malcontents pressed on into the depths below Ghoulardia Pass.

As they wound through the corridors beneath the keep and countryside, they found many strange things. They passed another chamber full of the vermilion earth, and eventually found their way to an iron door, bearing a wrought iron skeleton with scroll work declaring it the crypt of Count Gore De Vol and his legion. As Cliff forced the door, he caught a poison dart in his neck, but it didn't really phase him.

A blue glow suffused the corridor, as inside, an eerie sight awaited them. The room was an ossuary with an open iron coffin at it's center. Skulls and bones floated through the room like leaves in a chill autumn wind, with blueish sparks of electricity arcing between them.

The group sent the hapless henchman Wilkins in to investigate, and he got zapped badly for his trouble before fleeing the room. So they sent the skeleton of Gretch the grimling in. Whatever eerie electric force was causing the bones to float caught the obedient skeleton up, and he floated lazily about the room rigidly holding his torch until they dragged him out by the rope around his spinal column.

Gretch! Stop clowning around!

Since homanculus' and electricity go together like chocolate and peanut butter, they sent Cliff in. He caught a few of the floating skulls in a sack, where they continued to float and spark. He also caught a few nasty shocks, before they instructed him to close the coffin. When he did, whatever uncanny effect was happening got switched off, and the remaining bones tumbled roughly to the floor.

Taking the door beyond the coffin, they came to a long ramp downward, that appeared to be some kind of set off stairway trap. They secured a rope and lowered themselves down, moving carefully to avoid slipping and sliding to their doom.

At the bottom, they found a room open to the sky, covered in twining tree roots. As they moved across it, the tree roots began to move, and formed into a horrible nondescript form that lashed out with two mighty tendrils.

In Ghoulardia Pass, problem gets to root of YOU!

Another desperate battle ensued, with blade and fire meeting the crushing force of the animated roots. The faithful skeleton Gretch was crushed and cracked like so many matchsticks, and Marvin the henchman had his head incontinently popped off by a squeezing vine, before they felled the thing.

In the burnt roots on the ground, the group saw a glitter, and were overjoyed to find a wealth of gold and jewels hidden beneath the twisted thatch of roots. They filled their sacks, loaded their intrepid mule Priscilla (Who had been following them the whole time so quietly as to not even be mentioned in this gripping narrative, and who also is still not painted enough to show up in photos on this blog.)

The party moved on until they found an odd corner of the dungeon where several barrels of slaughterhouse waste were stacked beside a wheelbarrow and a jug of sleeping potion, which in turn were next to a large metal funnel and a strongly secured iron door. They slid aside the peep hole, and saw something large and shaggy moving around in the dark chamber beyond.

Thinking quickly, and quite deviously, Kolomalu brought out the jug of poisoned blood that he'd made in the keep's wine cellar, and poured it in thru the funnel. The group was rewarded with the sounds of stirring and growls in the chamber, followed by the sound of something large lapping up liquid from a bowl. This, in turn was followed by a tumult of gagging and wretching, as the door shook with the thing's pounding. Then silence.

They shot the bolt and looked inside, finding a huge, rat like monster lying dead on the floor of the cave.

Who's the bigger rat here? Who indeed?

The party closed the door and moved on, and found themselves at a T juncture. They followed the north hall, and found their way to a hallway that ended in a half flooded room with a coffin floating within. Leaving Priscilla behind, they used the coffin like a boat, searching the walls and finding a secret door.

It's the only way to travel!

Beyond, they discovered a chamber full of various sized jars, from bell jar sized to gigantic, each containing a twisted rat like creature, from field mouse sized to man sized. They decanted one of the small ones, and it lay on the floor gasping and writhing, before being pocketed by Kolomalu as a souvenir/pet/snack/what-have-you.

They found a set of stairs leading up, which led to a room with a pressure plate at the top of the stairs that caused a spring loaded iron bar to snap shut on Wilkins the henchman's neck, bearing him painfully to the floor, nearly killing him.

Cliff lifted the bar off of his neck and they proceeded, to a pair of iron doors that were securely locked. Since none of the group were skilled at lock picking, and since it was getting late (or early, since this WAS a party of nightcrawlers), they decided to double back, collect Priscilla, and leave the catacombs.

When they floated back across the flooded room, they discovered no mule, but a smear of blood with hand size, clawed tracks crisscrossing it. Which is really to be expected when you leave overloaded livestock out in a monster infested dungeon, but who am I, your narrator, to say?

They followed the blood trail to a wooden door that had been gnawed out from inside. They heard furtive scrapings and scrabblings inside, and decided to lead with some flasks of flaming oil. This did the trick, as it sent the denizens of the room scurrying for their hidey holes, cursing in a gibbering patois of common tongue and rat squeaks. They entered, as beady eyes watched them from the edge of the light, and found the half eaten corpse of their pack beast. The party grabbed their sacks of gold and jewels and backed out of the room, with hissing invective chittered after them.

They made their way to the root choked room, and climbed up the walls into the misty pine forests of Ghoulardia Pass, and fled in the creeping rays of the sickly morning sun, never to be heard from in this neck of the woods again.