Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rock Candy

In obscure tomes of the most knowledgeable alchemists, and the recollections of the most ancient of delving kingdoms of the peoples below, there come stories of a certain type of mineral deposit known as Sovereign Crystals, or the Coins of the Earth Lords.

In form, this rarity is a sparkling white crystalline stone composed of a thousand octagonal sub crystals, glowing and shimmering and casting a million reflections around the isolated pockets of deep stone they are found in. The crystal breaks easily if handled, but is firmly rooted to the rock from which it emerges. A tingle goes through your fingers when handling the crystal and its pieces, although after a minute or so the glow fades from pieces broken off, and they become inert quartz.

If these crystal bits are eaten they can bestow blessings to the lucky or dire curses to the unlucky. If characters go ahead with it, they should roll a d20 for the following effects:

01: Character takes 1d8 pts of damage as the chip bursts out of their mouth and grows into a small Earth Elemental (1d4+2 HD) who will attack the party.

02: Character is blinded for 1d6 hours as their eyes temporarily become crystal spheres. If they are slain in this condition, the eyes remain crystal, and are reputed to be sought after by evil wizards and/or marble aficionados.

03: Permanent +1 to Strength, as your skeleton becomes a stonelike material. Gain 20 pounds of weight (and encumberance) permanently.

04: Permanent +1 to Charisma, as your teeth and eyes take on a beautiful, diamondlike shine.

05: Gain a +1 to Constitution as your tissues become harder and more durable. Thieves suffer a 5% penalty to Move Silently as the character crackles and crunches slightly when they move.

06: Permanent +1 to Intelligence, as bits of your brain become a crystal matrix that functions like a supercomputer. One downside, you tend to have trouble navigating non-angular spaces.

07: Gain +1 Armor Class as a lattice of octagonal crystal scales cover your skin. These scales are transparent, and are only noticeable when viewed very closely.

08: Permanent -1 to Strength as you are racked with pain from crystal growth in your bones.

09: Permanent -1 to Charisma as strange crystalline growths break out across your body.

10: Permanent -1 to Intelligence, as bits of your brain petrify. This affliction makes you repellant to mind flayers.

11: Character's digestive system is permanently altered so that they cannot eat normal food, but must consume earth and stones for sustenance. Warning, certain minerals are still poisonous!

12: Bestows Improved Invisibility for 1d6 hours in areas of natural stone. This effect is lost in areas of worked stone or other materials.

13: Character is poisoned as if by arsenic. Roll a save vs. Poison or suffer completely debilitating cramps and muscle pain for 1d4 hours. At the end of that time, if antidotes or curatives have not been administered, roll a save vs. Poison or die.

14: Crystal chunk transforms into a 500 gp Alexandrite in the character's mouth.

15: Character's unarmed attacks permanently imbued with a magical +1.

16: Character can speak the secret language of rocks for 1d8 hours. This can be used to learn many things if the right stones are asked, but they're also treated to constant griping about erosion and lichens.

17: The victim's skull becomes thick and stone-like for 1d4 hours, reducing character to a blithering idiot with a bad nosebleed and an Intelligence of 1.

18: Gives a special 1d8 temporary hit point bonus. Once these are lost, the character only heals up to their normal level.

19: Character is turned to crystal. Roll a Save Vs. Petrification to avoid.

20: No effect. Tastes salty and tingly.

The brave, or foolhardy, may opt to eat multiple pieces of Sovereign Crystal, and gain whatever good or ill effects it would bestow, but for each piece past the first, they must also make a save vs. Petrification, with a cumulative -1 penalty, or else turn into stalagmites.

Earth Elementals created by the stone that are not slain will stick around, guarding the mineral deposit faithfully and becoming a terror to local delvers. There is a 10% chance that 1d4 of these creatures are lurking about when the Coins of the Earth Lords are first discovered.

LL at Paul's: Weighted Down

Hey there folks, another week of dungeoneering, hot off the platter for ya.

When last we left our heroes, we were preparing an ambuscade for a medusa who we'd encountered in the depths of a mountain dungeon complex. We set up in a chamber we strongly suspected of being connected via a secret tunnel to the room we encountered her in, and after a very thorough search found the secret door.

So we set up to receive a visit in the night. Yøgund and Kashim set up on either side of the hidden doorway, while the spellcasters, Elef and my cleric The Deacon, hid under an old bed ready to let fly with a selection of Hold, Sleep, or Charm spells as the situation warranted. Klint, our one conscious and unpoisoned thief, hid behind the bedstead ready to spring out and shoot flaming arrows, lighting the pool of flammable oil we left at the foot of the door. Gentleman Jack we laid out on the bed as a decoy, after having first used the ancient pigments we'd found in this room to paint fake eyes on his eyelids. In fact, we all did up our eyelids with fake eyes. We figured any moment's hesitation might be worth it, what the hey? (When the going gets tough, the tough get creative.) Our henchmen Fedyeka and Amos the one armed half elf we set up to guard the other door.

Thus prepared, we waited.

And waited...

One by one we drifted off to sleep, and still no medusa. In fact, we all managed to somehow get a good full night's rest without being disturbed at all. Apparently our snakey haired antagonist decided not to stumble into our trap.

In the words of the Australian big game hunter from Jurassic Park who dies in the movie and lives in the book: "Clever girl..."

Well, frustrated by a restful (albiet tense) evening, we decided to try to think outside the box. Since Klint had his magic, see in the dark santa hat, we decided to give him the Potion of Gaseous Form that we'd picked up somewhere and send him out scouting.

He drank the magical draught and vanished in a puff of Klint, seeping through the cracks around the secret door. (This worked because Klint's player was out at at Comicon this week, so Paul didn't have to take him aside for a sidebar session.)

A few minutes later the cloud came back and just sort of hung there in the room as we peppered it with questions. Initially, the wacky thought crossed my mind that he'd somehow been petrified. But that's crazy! You can't petrify a man who's turned into a cloud! (And there, my friends, is what I like to call "Bus Station Crazy Talk". Repeat that phrase out loud in a public place and check out the looks you get.)

In actuality what we were dealing with was the primary flaw in our cunning plan... Clouds can't talk. We tried a little bit of Captain Pike style "bob up and down once for yes, fly around the room once for no" type foolishness, but eventually we gave up, and the Klint cloud flew off to do some more scouting while the potion lasted.

About a half hour or so later the reconstituted figure of our veteran thief came darting in through the door, out of breath from running. He told us he'd scouted the corridor, and found a long hall connecting the maid's room with the lord's room, but the medusa was nowhere to be found. (Apparently, there was some hanky, and perhaps a bit of panky, going on in ancient Ilmoria, with the secret tunnel between the boss' room and the maid's. *shrug*.)

Klint did find a lizard man standing watch around the corner from the secret door in our room, which meant that snakeylocks had minions. He said the reptilian guardian looked at the cloud kinda funny as it passed overhead.

He also told us he explored around the big throne room, and went back to the muck pool and took a couple of passes through it to make DOUBLE DOG sure that there was no treasure down in there. He popped solid in the hall and rushed back to rejoin us.

Knowing the lizard man was there, possibly spying on us, we figured it was time for bold action, especially since we'd all rested and refreshed from the long night before. (Except for Gentleman Jack. He's down for a good week at least from that centipede bite.) So we opened the door and charged around the corner and found...

Nothing. This medusa was playing it close to the vest. Fine with us, we decided not to force the issue, but instead do a little more delving. We took account of our food supply, and figured we could take one more day of snooping around before we'd have lean rations going back to Restenford.

So we decided to do a little more hall surveying. Most of the maps of prior levels had been more or less symmetrical, and we were missing a portion of the southwest on this floor, so we hied ourselves to the door that seemed mostly likely to lead to more halls.

When we got there, we found a stout portal barring our way. Being well rested and full of pep, Yøgund decided not to muck around with careful searching, and just ran down the hall and threw his shoulder into it. He bounced off with a resounding clang and went sprawling. At this point, someone in the party inquired if anyone had considered just, you know, turning the handle. As he pulled himself off the floor, our paladin waved our henchman Fedyeka forward and told him to open it.

The burly sellsword stepped up to the door and turned the knob, and said "Ouch!". He turned and told us something had pricked his finger. Actually, this was the last time he told anybody anything, 'cos a beat later his eyes glazed over and he fell dead at our feet.


This is what happens when you get all cavalier about procedure. Dammit. I liked that henchman... He vas credit to team...

Anyway, we had Klint examine the lock and he said yeah, lookit' there, you can see a poison tipped needle right there on the shaft of the knob. We crowbarred the door open and went inside, dragging the heavy corpse of our former henchman behind us.

Inside we found some sort of bar or bank type area, with a long counter running through the center of the room. Since we were in a pissy mood after losing Fedyeka, we chopped a hole through the counter and stepped over the wreckage, searching around behind. It was there we found a secret door.

Opening it, we found a small bronze anchor hanging on a peg on the wall of a small closet. With a shrug, Yøgund pulled the anchor down from its peg, which caused another secret door to open into a small hallway.

As we proceeded down the new hall, in the dim glimmer of our lantern we saw a heavy iron door ahead of secured with chains. Now, something like this means one of two things, treasure or trouble, usually some of both.

Kashim and Yøgund went on ahead with Klint in tow to check for traps, when suddenly our veteran thief and headstrong foreign warrior fell upward into an inverted pit about twenty feet high/deep and slammed into the ceiling. Half stunned, they climbed to their feet and found themselves standing upside down as Yøgund looked up at them in confusion. (I might not be getting the sequence of events 100% right here. All I do remember is we ended up with two guys down/up in the anti-pit.)

The confusion soon passed, as Yøgund's player sussed out that it was possession of the anchor, which he'd not relinquished, that allowed him to keep his feet on the ground. We experimented with pebbles and such, and discovered that indeed gravity was inverted in the ten foot area in front of the door.

After a fair bit of wrangling involving impromptu acrobatics and using pilfered Tyrian robes as improvised rope because none of us seemed to have any rope on our character sheets, we got everybody back down/up from the ceiling/pit. (Turns out Klint has 50' of silk rope, but somehow as we were all confusedly reading our character sheets that fact escaped us. Probably would have helped if his player had been there.)

We crossed the space in pairs, each holding on to the bronze anchor charm, and set about opening the door. Using our late henchman's two hander, we wrecked up the chains and pried open the ancient padlock.

Inside, we found a row of large iron chests, with a profusion of old dark stains. (Blood, I'm guessing.) on the floor. This made us nervous, particularly The Deacon. Any one of these chests could contain fiery, gassy, crushy, or stabby death.

As we searched, we discovered a smaller chest tucked back behind the main row of chests. Pulling it out and searching it for needles, which we found none of, we opened it and found a huge collection of smallish gems! Kallooh, kallay!

Overcoming our paranoia, we proceeded to bash holes in the lids of the other chests, and discovered a wealth in gold, silver, copper, and electrum. So much for MY worries. I figured the big ones were trapped decoys. Just goes to show you sometimes, even if you're paranoid, the people who're out to get you are takin' a coffee break.

Since we figured this was a pretty defenseable room, we decided to bed down in here. As a final sendoff to our trusty Fedyeka, the Deacon arranged for a spectacular, inverted Viking funeral for the poor dope. Basically, we doused his corpse in flammable oil, lit it, and dragged it to the antigravity well and let it ascend gloriously skyward.

Was it a good idea? No, not in the least, especially since the smoke from his burning remains started wafting into the room we were camping in. (On hindsight, I probably should have done this as we were leaving this area. Live and learn.) It was, for all its tactical flaws, an awesome sendoff. Dos vedanya and rest in peace, you big, dumb lug. May your accent live on to fight another day!

When morning came and the smell of burning henchman diminished, we set about loading up our swag to get the heck outta there. We had Elef memorize Floating Disc and Detect Magic, and divvied up the more valuable coins in bags and sacks, utilizing one of the chests too, I think, carried between two of us. All told, however, the sheer mass of coinage was seriously weighing us down, and we were at max encumbrance and only moving about 10' per round. We piled the bags, as well as the floppy figure of our poisoned party member Gentleman Jack, on the magically conjured disc summoned by our halfling mage, and set out.

And here's where the whole deal started going all pear shaped. As we exited the "bank" area, an angry, familiar female voice called out from the darkness. "THEY DARE LOOT THE ANCIENT TREASURE HOUSE OF ILMORIA?! SLAY THEM!" or something to that effect, and right away we've got a bunch of lizard men coming out of the woodwork jabbing at us with tridents.

Yøgund and Kashim step up to the plate and manage to clear the forward way for us, but can do nothing about a second group coming at us from behind. Poor Amos, who was at the back with Elef, took some bad hits, but the Deacon had enough cure spells to heal him, and still got in some whack with the Mojo Stick. We moved Elef to the center of the party, since he was responsible for keeping the disc, and its precious cargo (and Gentleman Jack) floating. Between the Deacon and Amos, we manage to kill our rear guard attackers, but things AREN'T looking good. We're surrounded by enemies, and moving at a snail's pace.

Our goal is a set of downward stairs at the end of a painfully looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong hallway. We don't even know where it empties out, just that on that level is the big room with the doors leading outside, where we'll make our break for daylight, then hopefully circumnavigate the mountaintop to the shrine where we'll pick up our mule, if the poor beast is still even there.

Of course, that's a lot of hypotheticals. Right now we're taking it ten feet at a time.

And that's where we left it as we wrapped up the session.

So all and all, a good one. Totally different than what I was expecting. We didn't see the medusa all night. (Which, as I've mentioned before, is a good thing.) But ended up in a battle of wits with an upside down hole, and now are slogging for our lives, groaning under the weight of hundreds of pounds of treasure. This is totally old school sword and sorcery, picaresque action at its finest!

We're totally in a monkey trap right now, holding tightly to what's keeping us from getting away easily, but maybe we can manage to make it out alive and get our loot back home. We'll see.

Thanks again to Paul, for a crackling session, and to the rest of the 10d gamers.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

LL at Paul's: Butterface

Heyawatha! Another week, another night around the table bouncing dice. Here ya go.

So we join our merry ganksters busily bailing nasty toilet water out of a subterranean cesspool in the depths of an extensive ancient Ilmorian ruin.

Three of our members are down for the count: Gentleman Jack Getz is poisoned and won't be able to do much more than stumble forward and moan for about ten days. Feyeka, our handy henchman, has taken a few too many mouthfulls of stankwater and is horking his cookies in the corner with Gentleman Jack. Finally, either Kashim or Yøgund is suffering from paralysis from one of the frikkin' ghouls we rumbled with last week.

That one, at least, is easy to deal with, with the application of Cure Light Wounds from the Deacon. It's fine, he's not busy currently, since he wants nothing to do with straining bog water through his teeth like the rest of the group. Finally, after a couple more passes through the silt, the others are willing to admit that a glorious future for us all isn't hiding down there, and we move on.

So we crossed the hall and checked out a row of doors to the north. As we listened at the first one, we heard a mysterious crash inside, as if something had been knocked over. Made wary by this, we poked our head in, and found a bedroom.

On either side of the door, we saw large mirrors hanging on the walls. This made us nervouser. Big mirrors are a source of trouble, like a lot of things in a dungeon. Stuff can come out of them, or get sucked into them.

So the first thing we did was pull the blankets and canopy off of the bed and covered the mirrors up. Then we proceeded with our usual rifling and petty burglary. There was a desk with some long dried jars of paint, and an old sketch of some kind of tropical bird, both of which the Deacon pocketed. The others turned up a lady's comb/brush/mirror set, pointing to the fact that the room's ancient occupant was probably a woman.

Once we'd searched, we decided to take a chance and check out the mirrors more closely. The Deacon cast Protection from Evil on himself, to keep from getting possessed or simulacra'd or what have you, and pulled the blanket down from the right side mirror.

Initially, it showed a reflection, but after a moment the view changed to an endless expanse of clouds. If there was any ground in the 'scape beyond, it was covered in thick mist. The Deacon touched the glass, and found it solid and unyielding. An examination of the other mirror revealed the same view, from a slightly different angle, so we reasoned what we were looking at was some kind of magical window to some other plane. My guess, the Elemental Plane of Air, but since this isn't straight up AD&D, that may or may not be the case. It's really up to Paul as to whether he's playing with the great cosmic pinwheel laid out in the Player's Handbook or not.

Anyway, from there we checked out the other two rooms in this hall, and found similar furnishings. Best guess from evidence, the first chamber was a maid, or lady in waiting, the next was the room for the Queen or whatever the Ilmorians had, as it was larger, the brush and mirror set was silver, and there was a door to a fancy nursery complete with a magical crib mobile of little floating birds, as well as a door to a small library that in turn conjoined with a large chamber we presumed to belong to the King, being the biggest and fanciest of the three. All of the rooms had the mysterious double mirrors into foggy land flanking the doors. I guess they got the ancient equivalent of satellite TV here. Otherwise, we found some minor loot. I think we turned up some gemstones and maybe a ring hidden in one of the gold painted knobs on the ancient poobah's bed. We're making Elef memorize Detect Magic the next morning so he can pick out the fancy stuff among our haul.

Moving on, we went back to the big feast hall and checked out a couple of doors leading to the east from either side of the hall we entered. These seemed to be barracks, with bunks and chests and racks for weapons. The first of the two rooms was messed up but otherwise uninteresting, while the other held a big ol' red flag for any dungeon delver worth his 10' pole.

It was more orderly than the other one, which had presumably been looted, but there were three statues in there. Three statues of armed and armored men in very non-aesthetic poses of alarm and dismay, depicting soldiers caught leaping out of bed on high alert. Ah crap... Yeah, what this means, if you haven't sussed it out quite yet, is that we had some kinda petrifyer on our hands. Medusa? Basilisk? Cockatrice? Gorgon? Any number of things that can give you the ol' evil eye and leave you as a planter. Lovely.

One of the stoned guys was actually reaching toward what turned out to be a shattered mirror lying on the floor. Good advice, o exquisite dead guy! So the first thing we did was take stock of the mirrors we had. We'd looted a couple from the ancient lady and her lady in waiting's rooms, and Klint already had a steel one on hand for peering around corners and the like. So we gave Yøgund and Kashim the other two, since they were probably at the front line with whatever we met.

From there we cautiously set out, heading out to the corridors and moving south, where we proceeded with our usual method of sussing out the halls before opening any doors. I won't dwell on the details. We found a bunch more halls with a bunch more doors, as well as a set of stairs leading down. One room we checked out was just full of rubble and wreckage, and looked to have once been storage.

After a couple of hours of hall mapping, we decided we should find a suitable place and camp for the night. Since the nicest room we'd found was the ancient high muckity muck's chamber, we decided to head back there.

As we came through the door, we heard a noise and looked up, startled to see a figure step into the room from a secret door by the fireplace. It was female, a shapely woman in a flattering gown.

But her face...

Argh! A medusa!

We whipped out our mirrors and as one turned our backs on her, as the serpents crowning her head hissed and writhed, their glittering eyes staring at us in a halo around the deadly creature's lambent orbs (I'm talking about her eyes here, by the way. Seriously, this is one case where "Hey buddy, my eyes are up here." is a BAD situation to be in...). She stamped her pretty foot and in an imperious voice demanded to know who we were, and how dare we intrude on her sanctuary.

We took a conciliatory tack, apologizing for intruding and explaining we were exploring these ruins and didn't mean to offend her. Of course, she was offended by us referring to her lair as a ruin, so there you go. Yøgund detected pure 100% evil coming off of her, so we excused ourselves and left in a hurry.

At this point, I'll own that this particular foe leaves me at a bit of a disadvantage. One edge a medusa has, beside her gaze of death, is being something of a femme fatale. That deadly balance of physical attractiveness and instant, uncompromising death.

Admittedly, a monster face and a head covered in angry vipers kind of instantly dispels any romantic notions, but even then the deeply ingrained "don't hit a girl" chivalrous programming I grew up with makes it tough for me to raise a hand to 'em. Heck, I don't like killin' female monsters of any kind. Reference the she wolf with her cubs we encountered in the Kellman woods, for example.

She doesn't have any of those kind of compunctions, and a pause can be fatal when all it takes is a glance. Pretty insidious, really.

Of course, the Deacon can probably overcome his hang ups if it's a choice between walking out of this labyrinth or becoming something that needs to be dusted occasionally. Still, there's that element there.

Outside the medusa's chamber, we huddled up, and quickly decided to head down to the lady in waiting's chamber, and try a similar tactic to what we used on the hobgoblins up on the road to Bridgefair, which was to fake bedding down for the night and wait for our enemy to come and try to bushwack us.

We knew that there was probably a network of secret tunnels connecting these rooms, which probably explains the crash we heard when we listened at the door. We made a dedicated, thorough search, taking an agonizingly long time as we knew that our predator/prey was out there drawing her own plans, and finally found the secret door.

Then we spent an agonizingly long time spinning our wheels trying to come up with some kind of way to drop a bucket or blanket on her head as she came thru the door. (For all we know, she was on the other side of the door listening and trying to keep her snakes from laughing.) We finally gave up on that idea as the end of the session rolled around .

So next week promises to be interesting, as we're faced with an intelligent, mobile, and potentially very dangerous foe. Which is pretty neat, actually. It's kinda cool when you know what you're facing and can work out tactics to face it.

Or we could just flail around and hope not to end up as so many unwieldy collectibles. Either way, it should be interesting.

Thanks again to Paul for a good session, and a hat tip to the rest of the 10d gamers.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Holy Crap!


Illustration by W.W. Denslow for "Billy Bounce". Found on the interwub...

Friday, July 9, 2010

LL at Paul's: Mucking Around.

Bam! Another week of gaming! WhoPAH!

Anyway, when last we left our band of adventurers, we'd re-murdered a skeleton on a staircase after having a bit of bother with some animated suits of armor that left our half elven henchman, the lad Amos, a bit on the asymmetrical side, vis a vis having an arm lopped off.

Somehow, in the intervening week, the party's attitude somehow changed from "Holy crap! We gotta hurry back to civilization!" to "We can clear this place out at our leisure.", although Paul warned us that under no circumstances should we consider the complex "cleared out", even if we hit all of the rooms.

So a short debate ensued as to whether we should check out the rest of the current level we were on, or head upstairs and check a new floor out. We ended up deciding to go up, and so we did.

At the top of the stairs we started in on our usual procedure of mapping out the corridors before delving into the rooms. The landing was a 20' corridor with two doors to the east and west, and that was it, so we checked 'em both out.

The east door turned out to be a janitor's closet, containing a bunch of basic supplies. We found several casks of lamp oil, which several of us glommed onto, and also claimed a mop, which we figured would make a good early detection device for gelatinous cubes. We were a bit concerned about running into another one since we were finding more of those mysterious slime trails on the floor. We reckoned that if the mop's head started trailing it's strands in a weird way, that would be our signal to throw burning oil and run.

Anyway, the west door turned out to lead to more corridors so we headed through. It wound around to a long corridor with a lot of doors and open archways into rooms.

The first of these archways led into a 20'X2o' room dominated by a murky pool with several body like shapes bobbing at the surface. There was an unsettling, boggy stench in the room and a lot of the slime trails around on the flagstones. Yøgund wasn't detecting any evil, but we guessed this was home base for whatever nasty critter was sliming around the dungeon. A giant slug ain't necessarily evil, per se, but they do present a problem if it views you as a potential meal.

So, naturally, we set to plotting and planning. And, naturally, the plan involved copious amounts of both co-ordination and fire. We decided to send one of our sneaky guys forward with one of our newly found casks of lamp oil with some holes punched in it. He'd throw it in the pool, and we'd light it with flame arrows.

The task of being the cask tosser fell to Gentleman Jack Getz, so he advanced on the pool and made ready to throw the oil, while the rest of us stood in the archway with pitch dipped arrows and a torch at the ready.

Suddenly, something big and ugly surged up out of the pool, making whatever gargly fart noises a giant, tentacled, lamprey mouthed invertibrate might make when it's on the attack.

Our foppish thief hurriedly chucked the barrel, wildly missing the thing and leaving it bobbing in the water as he fled. Yøgund charged forward, swinging his sword. A long, sinuous tongue darted out of the thing's horrible maw, tipped with a poison barb that mercifully bounced off of our heroic paladin's stout plate mail. The thing then lashed out with two tentacles, grabbing Yøgund and cramming him whole into it's mouth. A harsh rasping noise filled the air as its sawlike teeth started trying to cut through his armor.

Meanwhile, the Deacon ran up with the torch, and started lashing it to his quarterstaff so that he could reach out and light the lamp oil. Meh. I was still stuck on "kill it with fire", and often times there's a slim difference between a brilliant tactical move and a total waste of a round. This time it was the latter.

In a more useful mode, Kashim and Klint ran up and grabbed the thing by the tentacles holding Yøgund, hoping to pull him loose. They managed to pull them free, causing the paladin to drop out of the thing's mouth and into the water.

Fedyeka ran in at this point and hurled the cask of oil he was holding, and managed to score 3 points with a free throw as he sank the barrel neatly into the monster's mouth and down into its gullet.

He is credit to team!

The Deacon tried to light the other cask, but only managed to put the torch out. (See. Waste of time... *sigh*)

The thing slipped its tentacle out of Kashim's grasp, but Klint held on tightly. This proved to be a problem, as it flicked a couple loops around the startled thief and pulled him into its jaws. We had to hurry now, since Klint's leather was definitely not as monster teeth proof as Yøgund's plate mail.

Frustrated with his stupid torch/wet barrel of oil plan, the Deacon tossed the staff mounted torch toward Elef the Halfling Mage, telling him to re-light it, and ran into the water with his mojo stick charging up. I think I managed to get in a good hit with it, but it was mostly the hackings and slashings of Kashim, Yøgund, and Fedyeka that finally deflated the beast. We pried its sphincter jaws open and pulled Klint out, alive and happy to be so, despite his leather armor now being a total loss.

We proceeded to search the chamber, pulling three bodies out of the water that turned out to be two sailors from someplace and a hobgoblin. We dragged the creature to the edge of the pool and cut it open, with the traditional "There's gotta be treasure in it's gizzard." adventuring mindset. I'm not sure we found anything in there, but a lot of water drained out, causing the thing to shrivel up like a salted slug. We did find quite a few silver pieces after dredging around in the pool, probably from the dead guys.

Oh, I guess we did manage to retrieve the barrel of oil from the monster's gullet. Huzzah!

Moving on, we found another archway about 20' down the main hall from the tentacle thing's room, which led us down a short corridor to a large room that looked to have been another feasting hall. There were several exits from this room, both archways and doors, and the walls were covered in tapestries. There was a master table with three chairs at the far west side, still set with dinnerware (nothing too valuable, sadly, but ah well).

We decided to check out the side doors from this chamber. The first one we checked turned out to lead into a small shrine, complete with a long dead priest of some kind lying on the floor in blue robes with a symbol of Kor stitched into the chest. He was lying in front of a small altar which contained several clay tablets inscribed with ancient glyphs.

While a couple of party members rolled the dessicated corpse for its robes, under protest from the Deacon*, Klint set about using his Read Languages thief ability to read the tablets. He managed to read about 3 out of 5 of them, and the rest we took rubbings of for later translation. I didn't look at the handouts Paul gave us too closely, but they seemed to contain a lot of info about the ancient Ilmorian city this coplex was part of. I'm sure they'll come in handy later on.

One tablet contained prayers to Kor. Klint decided to try on the robes and read 'em in the shrine while the rest of us searched the feast hall. Again, this carried considerable risk of smiting, but since we were out of the room when he did it the Deacon didn't raise much of a fuss. Nothing untoward happened to our veteran thief, although he did receive a vision of a mighty seaport of glittering towers and huge temples, with a mighty voice calling out "KOR!"

Mildly disappointed, Klint shrugged it off, bundled up the robe, and decided to try it in some of the other Kor sanctified areas in the dungeon. (All I can say is I'll be keeping an eye, and probably a good 100' running start, on him as he proceeds with his experiments in godbothering in future sessions...)

The next room leading from the feast hall turned out to be a library. Klint failed his Read Languages check in here, and so we didn't find anything of real interest. The books seemed to mostly be encyclopedias and the ancient Ilmorian version of old People magazines, and we didn't want to spend hours rifling through every book. (No, we decided to engage in a big time wasting search (in my personal opinion) elsewhere, which I'll get into later...)

Across the large chamber from the shrine and library was a set of double doors, that turned out to lead into a kitchen. There was a fire pit in one corner, and two cabinets flanking a work surface. As Kashim poked thru the ashes in the fire pit, Gentleman Jack and the Deacon both lined up in front of a cabinet and opened 'em. Mine was empty, full of collapsed shelves. Mister Getz got a bunch of giant centipedes, one of which bit him. He blew his save and dropped dead on the spot.

Game over!

Enraged, Fedyeka (taken over by Gentleman Jack's player), The Deacon, and Yøgund all charged the vermin and started smacking. The Deacon got a good hit in with the mojo stick, exploding one of the beasties, while the warriors hacked away. Soon we'd killed the big mean bugs off, and looked down at the twitching body of our foppish friend.

Now, thankfully, this encounter does have what passes for a happy ending. There was initially some confusion from our DM about the fatality of this bite. Somewhere he'd gotten the notion that giant centipedes bit with a save or die, but in reality, when one of them bites you, according to Labyrinth Lord, you just fall violently, uselessly ill for about 10 days. So happily, he wasn't dead, just reduced to a whining, puking, stumbling load. Hooray!

We moved on, following a corridor beyond an archway in the feast hall to the north, which led to another long hall of doors and an archway. When we reached the arch, we found that beyond was another chamber with another pool, this time with a fireplace built into the west wall.

It's here where OCD seems to have posessed the party, as the group became convinced that there was something wonderful underneath the nasty, stanky, crapulent water.

I envision it kind of like this, but not so fresh. And there's no Wendy's nearby either...

Klint and Fedyeka dove in and tried to swim around, searching the bottom. This made our hefty henchman sick to his stomach when he blew his save, and he ended up joining Gentleman Jack on the fainting couch. (By which I mean, a corner where they could puke in peace...)

Undaunted, the rest of the party set about bailing the filthy water out of the pool using the halves of Fedyeka's breastplate as an impromptu scoop. Naturally, most of the stankwater just ran across the floor and back into the pool, so they started hauling it out and sloshing it into the hall. Lovely...

As for the Deacon, well, he wanted none of that, so he stood guard, with the understanding that if they found the most fabulous object in the world under the crap at the bottom he'd gladly sign away his share of it.

Eventually, all this sewage treatment attracted the attention of the wandering monster table, and a couple frikkin' ghouls came creeping down the hallway wondering what all the splashing was.

The Deacon sent one packing with a few strums on the silver strings of his mandolin, but the other one charged up and attacked. I don't think he was much of a challenge as we mobbed him and pretty much demolished him.

I may recall one of the fighters got paralyzed, either Yøgund or Kashim. I think it was Klint and his awesome shiny sword of shiny awesomeness the finished the critter off. The paralyzed party member was put on the pile with the rest of the puke patrol. And that was about where we wrapped up.

So overall a good session. This one seemed to blow by really fast for some reason. Partly it was we got a late start, but otherwise we were in a good vibe. I do think we're monsterbating a bit with this pool of muck, but whatever, I'm only one vote out of 5. If I'm proved wrong I'll be happy to admit it.

Thanks again to Paul and the rest of the 10d gamers for another cracking session.

*Look, there are certain classes of corpse you need to be careful about. I'm not much of a fan of looting human (or elf, dwarf, or halfling) bodies to begin with, but clerics, and to a lesser degree wizards, are ones you should approach with caution. They might be dead, but there is still a danger. Wizards might have magical spoiler stuff tucked in their robes. As for clerics, well, they might be dead, but their patron diety might not take too kindly to rifling through the pockets of one of their devotees for spare change and uncashed lottery tickets, let alone swiping their vestments and dumping the bones in a corner. Just a thought...

As Buckaroo Banzai once said while performing brain surgery "Don't tug on that, you don't know what it's attached to."

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

To anybody out there who's a fellow American, whether you live here or not!

God Bless America!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

LL at Paul's: History Repeats Itself


You're probably wondering what happened at last week's session. Well... nothing, 'cos we cancelled from not enough players showing up. (Work stuff, mostly. I was game, but the night off was nice too.)

Anyway, lets talk about what happened this week.

When last we left the party, we'd just killed us up some apes in the third level of a dungeon complex under the mountain shrine of the ancient Ilmorian sun god Kor. Not having any real taste for bush meat we shoved 'em into a corner and kept exploring the complex.

The next room we visited was a storage room of sorts, with several large barrels and shelves full of what must have been foodstuffs, before the contents met with the pointy end of several rodents of unusual size that were hiding in a large pile of debris in one corner. The giant, terrier sized rats came bounding out of the nest and were slaughtered in short order on the blades of our fighters.

Klint and Kashim then proceeded to rummage through the garbage pile, each finding a gemstone squirreled away, and klonking their heads with a satisfying coconut sound when they simultaneously found a third.

The Deacon busied himself using the crowbar to pry open the five barrels and examining their contents. He found, in turn, a barrel of water, a barrel of pitch, a barrel of vinegar, a barrel of oil, and a barrel of wine. All of which, for different reasons, were 100 gallons of mischief just waiting to be unleashed. I stopped up the oil, pitch, and wine barrels and marked 'em with a knife borrowed from Elef.

Finishing up there, we moved down the hall and came to a large room that looked to be another barracks, with several randomly scattered bunks, some overturned, and a large oak table in front of a fireplace.

As the party made a thorough search of the room, turning over bedding and searching inside the fireplace for more levers, a bunch of frikkin' ghouls came shambling in the door lookin' to rumble.
The size of the room and the scattered bunks as obstacles made it tough for either side to just rush across and engage, although our undead assailants were much less weighted down than we were.

The Deacon tried to start off with a Turn Undead attempt, since frikkin' ghouls are pretty easy for a cleric of my level, but dang if I didn't roll a lousy 3 and totally fail to impress the slavering wads of corpse jerky. Yøgund tried to turn 'em too, but he wasn't high enough level for it to take either. We were in for a straight up fight, which when you're facing frikkin' ghouls with claw/claw/bite plus paralysis can end very unhappily.

Almost right away, Kashim got hit, failed his save, and went down, as Gentleman Jack Getz tried to work his way around the flank for a backstab on the pair that menaced our brave, foolhardy foreign fighter.

The Deacon pulled out his Mojo Stick and charged the center group of frikkin' ghouls. I think I managed to land a hit and blow one of 'em to flinders, which was good, but we still had two hanging on. The fifth frikkin' ghoul charged Elef, who popped under the table and hid while our hireling (and heavy veapons guy) Fedyeka charged forward swinging his two handed sword.

The magnificent bastard got a fantastic hit in and bisected his target. (He is credit to team!) and ran to support the center grouping, as Yøgund and Klint held off the pair we were facing.

The Deacon got tagged by a frikkin' ghoul and went down stiff as a board, much to his personal and professional embarrassment.

Young Amos, our half elf hireling, put away his bow and ran up with his sword to help Gentleman Jack, which is a darn good thing 'cos being half-elven he was immune to frikkin' ghoul paralysis.

Things were looking kind of rough after Gentleman Jack got tagged and went down all non-bendy, but we started gaining on the frikkin' ghouls, with Yøgund polishing off the final one in the center and rushing to aid Kashim. Finally, they killed the last one, and the party was saved from being gnawed to death.

Frikkin' ghouls...

After catching their breath from the fight, the non-paralyzed members of the group nailed all the doors in the room shut and settled down to wait for the rest of us to limber up a bit.

While they waited, they searched the room more thoroughly, and found that one of the bed's mattress' held a chache of copper pieces (which are about as valuable as silver pieces in the current game rate of exchange) and some more gems. Once the Deacon revived, they gave them to him to put in the party kitty, and divvied up the rest of the loot.

From there, we made our way back to the large, open room with the fountain and the smashed in doors leading outside. We decided to check out the double doors facing the exit, and so our thieves busied themselves checking for traps.

They found that while untrapped, the door contained a complex lock mechanism, that eventually proved resistant to both their skills at picking. So Klint took up an iron spike and used it with the hammer to break thru the hinges on one side. With the application of a little brute force from Yøgund and Kashim, we shoved the door over, ripping the lock out of its socket and gaining entry to the hall beyond.

In the light of our lantern and the sunlight streaming in from the outer door, we saw the hall was large and vaulted, with tapestries of seagoing scenes and suits of archaic armor standing at intervals between the pillars.

We made our way up the hallway, yanking the halberds out of the gauntlets of the armor suits, until we got to about half of the hall's length. That was when four of the suits stepped down from their little pedestals and took up a guard position in front of the double doors at the far end, pointing their pole arms at us in silent menace.

Faced with this new threat, the party withdrew to make plans. After some deliberation, we decided to get the barrel of pitch from the store room and use it as a makeshift fire bomb/bowling ball to try to take some of these animated suits of armor out. We rigged one end up with an iron spike attached to a rope, so that we could pop the lid off in case it didn't break open upon hitting the armor suits. We also dipped some arrows in the pitch to make into flaming arrows.

As we rolled the barrel in through the fountain room, we were breifly menaced by a cougar who'd come in thru the doors to the outside, but the beast was quickly chased off with some yelling and an arrow. (Now that I think on it, the cougar was maybe an omen of what was to happen later, sent to us by the ghost of our dear departed elf friend Liam. More on this in a bit...)

So we set up our barrel, rigged it with the rope, and set it trundling down the hall at its mute guardians. And here is where the plan suffered the usual fate of all plans. Some things go good, some things go bad, and some things happen that you don't expect.

The barrel smashed into the animated armor suits and doused three of them with pitch, slowing them down considerably. This was good. Then everybody charged up and started fighting. This was bad. We'd neglected to prepare any easy sources of flame, by the time we were ready to ignite the pitch everybody was in a... dare I say... pitched battle with the armor, which is what I thought we were trying to avoid, but c'est la guerre...

A round of furious fighting ensued, and we all scrummed up. The Deacon got in a whallop with his Mojo Stick and blew one of the suits to flinders. Fedyeka took a mighty whack at one, but then got his arm chopped something fierce by one of the things' halberds and had to back out, since with a two handed weapon he was now ineffectual.

Klint slipped around behind the melee and lit a torch, which he then used to light up one of the pitch covered ones, which caused it to heat up to red hot before a blow from one of the warriors' swords smashed it to bits. Our veteran thief then drew his ornate, recently acquired blade and obliterated another armored suit, leaving it's breastplate skewered on the blade.

The big downer/tragedy of the evening/fight, however, was when young Amos decided to come forward and join in the hand to hand combat. Sadly, the young archer suffered a career ending arm reduction, losing it at the shoulder to a halberd strike. So we had another one armed elf (or half-elf, in this case) archer on our hands (er... hand). Dammit. The critical hit chart strikes again, and seems to rhyme...

We finished off the last of the armor suits (Yøgund struck it down, I think) and gathered our wits. Fedyeka and Amos were both down to walking wounded via critical hits, so the Deacon pulled out a potion that we'd picked up someplace that had two doses of healing draught in it, and used it to stabilize the poor schnooks.

We offered to try to preserve Amos' arm, but he cast it aside, saying that to keep it was morbid. Now that I think on it, he probably was going off of what we did with the last severed elf arm we had to deal with, which was to give it to his dad Almox the druid and get it taxidermied...

Yeah, I guess I don't blame him. Although if we DO need a replacement arm for the young lad (this is heavily dependent on finding some kind of magic that would do the trick.) Liam's old arm is hanging proudly on the wall of the Palinthor House in Restonford, with a small bowl in its upraised palm and a sign proclaiming "Donations Welcome". Classy...

Anyway, we figured we ought to beat feet back to Restenford in light of all the mishaps, but we decided to explore the room beyond that the armor suits were guarding to wrap up.

Beyond, we found a throne room flanked by two large statues of Kor holding up glowing spheres and tridents, over a pair of thrones on a dias. Before the thrones, a low, white marble seat was in the center of the room, flanked by two long benches. As we searched , we found a slot in the floor next to the throne on the right, just big enough to fit a sword into.

Now, I don't totally recall the sequence of events here, but at some point, the Deacon sat down on the white marble chair, just as Yøgund slid a sword down into the slot. The chair started to glow with a bright light, and in the blink of an eye, the Deacon vanished.

Yeah... A collective "oh crap" went up from the party at that time. However, and I think this is a tribute to party cohesion, the group decided to follow their faithful cleric to whatever fate had befallen him. They took Klint's spare sword, now that he'd claimed a fancy new one, and slid it down into the slot, causing the chair to start glowing again, and then each in turn took a seat and vanished.

And thus we had our first TPK. I guess I'll start blogging about the Vampire the Masquerade game using 4th. Edition D&D rules and set in the Star Wars universe that Paul's gonna run next...

Actually, I kid. As expected, it was a teleporter, and it blunked us down into the prison area with the whiny, disembodied voice. Thankfully, we'd busted down all the doors and busted up the animated skeletons that occupied that space already. So plugging our ears to block out the obnoxious cries of "FREE ME! FREEEE MEEEE!" we took off.

Since by then we were pretty bunged up, we decided to head over to the small shrine to Kor with the healing water fountain/chalice deal and hole up like we did before, this time with stern warnings to certain evil detecting members of the party to leave the frikkin' door closed while we were trying to sleep.

We split into four watches, and the night mostly went quietly, except for one point where something large and squishy kind of schlorped past the door on one of the late watches. And the time that Elef's shadow came alive and tried to kill him.

Our magical henchman halfling was sitting up with Gentleman Jack, when he noticed his shadow moving funny. (Not funny "Gilligan's Island" but funny "Twilight Zone".) He started shrieking when it grabbed his wrist in a chilling grasp and started draining the strength from the core of his bones.

Roused, the party leapt up and started swinging. Kashim and The Deacon both had the same idea and scooped up a chalice full of holy water, trying to splash the thing, but it didn't work. (I knew that Shadows in this edition of the rules aren't vulnerable to a cleric's Turning.) I think it was Klint and his newly acquired, ornate sword that finished the monster, slicing it in half with the keen blade and causing the shadowy menace to dissipate.

Everybody went back to bed, after the Deacon used his last Cure Light Wounds to stabilize Elef's little existential crisis. Klint took over on the halfling wizard's watch with Gentleman Jack, so I suppose we all ought to take a count of our valuables...

Anyway, in the wee hours the next morning we were rested and replenished, and decided to head back up to the throne room before we took off back to civilization. We wended our way back up there, and retrieved Klint's sword, causing the teleport chair to shut off.

From there, we checked out a door in the back corner of the throne room, which we found led to a short hallway with a set of stairs leading up. Sprawled on the stairs was a skeleton with sword and sheild, wearing decent looking chainmail.

As we approached, it sprung into motion and attacked. The Deacon pulled his mandolin and probably turned it, but we'll never know since Kashim and Yøgund sprang forward and busted a move, busting it so it stopped moving.

It was here that we ended the session.

All told, a good 'un, but I'm bummed that we've got another un-armed elf on our hands. His folks are gonna be pissed. Dangit.

Thanks again to Paul, and the rest of the 10d gamers for a good session.