Wednesday, March 31, 2010

LL at Paul's: Gloom, Despair, and Agony

Tonight's game called on account of flooding and plague.

Which is fine, since I'm overdue on last week's session recount. (Long story short, we lost two PC's, one to unknown causes and one to being mauled by an angry cougar. )

Things are looking up though. We'll be back at the table next week, and that following weekend...


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thousand Year Sandglass - The Tomb Rats

Number Encountered: 1d8+1 (3d6)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120 (40)
Armor Class: 7 (9)
Hit dice: 1-4, depending on Labyrinth Level
Attacks: Bite or by weapon
Damage: 1d3 or by weapon type
Save: C3
Morale: 4 + 1 per 3 encountered
Horde: XVIII

Adventurers and wayfarers are advised to tread lightly in the scattered tombs of the ancients, lest they fall afoul of the terrible tomb rats, who jealously guard their mouldering larders.

Resembling a pale, stunted hybrid of man and mole rat, these creatures dwell in deep tombs and burial complexes, always digging, always gnawing, scavenging for morsels of dead flesh to feed upon. Those that live in deeper catacombs have often feasted well on the mummies interred there (referred to as "spicy food" in their language, which is a debased, simplton's patois of the ancient tongue), causing them to grow large and strong. There are whispers of truly monstrous specimens in the deepest tombs, grown to grotesque size on the meat of dead kings and sorcerer priests, so large they cannot leave their feasting halls, ruling over their smaller kin as corrupt sultans of decay. They possess infravision out to 90', and their eyes glitter like greedy rubies in the dark depths.

The lust these creatures bear for the flesh of the dead is almost palpable, such that if any corporeal undead is outnumbered by at least 2 to 1, then the tomb rats can perform the equivalent of a Turn Undead as a cleric whose level is equal to their hit dice. Tomb rats are immune to mummy rot, level drain, and the paralyzing touch of ghouls. Their word for the undead is the equivalent of "running food" in their chittering language.

While they prize the contents of the tombs for their feeding, they are perfectly happy to slay interlopers and "put them up" for later, as it were, for to a tomb rat the ancient art of embalming is equivalent to the preparations of a gourmet chef. They consider the contents of canopic jars a delicacy, and will greedily bargain buried fortunes for them.

Tomb rats arm and clothe themselves with grave goods and burial shrouds, beating vessels and bowls into crude armor, fashioning shields from casket wood, and sharpening any strong metal they find on tomb stones to create wickedly sharp blades equivalent to short swords and daggers. They are ambivalent about treasure, sometimes ignoring it and sometimes gathering and stashing it for their inscrutable purposes.

A lone tomb rat is a cowardly creature, prone to flee through secret burrows and tunnels back to their brethren for strength in numbers. If captured, they may bargain knowledge of where riches are buried or what traps lay in a party's path, for tomb rats learn all of the grave's secrets in their diggings. They hate and fear the sun, and suffer a -4 to all actions as their weak red eyes are blinded and their sallow flesh burns in the harsh light of day. Even the brighter light of an oil lamp will irritate them, rendering a -1 to the creatures, although a flickering candle or torch will not bother them... much.

Tomb rats greatly fear the Kedai, suffering a -4 to morale when facing them, but share an abiding mutual hatred with the Largomani, gaining a +2 in morale versus the doughty reptiles.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

LL at Paul's: The Things We Leave Behind...

Okay, so after a day of nail biting suspense, it's time yet again for another Labyrinth Lord racounteur session. Hold on to your shorts...

So, when last we left our heroes, they'd been mysteriously disintigrated by a magic rune. The fine powder that had once been the party's component molecules gently wafted down the haunted hallways of Stonehell, eventually settling in the nostrils of a goblin named Sphagnum, who sneezed, giving away his location to an irate owl bear, who stuffed the hapless beetle herder into its throat sac for later regurgitation to its young.

Okay, seriously, we made it through the rune okay and landed last week in a disused study full of mouldering books, which we searched, finding little of value, if I recall. There was another rune of teleportation in this room, so we all touched it and teleported to a new location. (Except, of course, for Koode and Talen Zin, who for all we know are still at the original rune, scratching their heads and wondering what they're gonna do now they don't have the map, or any kind of heavy combat support. Lord knows how we're gonna hook up with the poor bastards again...)

Now here the narrative gets a *little* hazy because I was in hench-mode for the early part of this week's session. Massachusetts had gotten a bit of extra rain over the weekend, resulting in flooding which closed all roads to Paul's place except for Rt. 2, which was choked with traffic, making me about 1/2 hour late and making me consider casting Cause Light Wounds on somebody.

The intervening story, as far as I can tell, was the group found themselves in a chamber with a magical statue that spoke and offered them the answers to up to three questions. The group informed me they couldn't really think of any good questions, so they asked it a bunch of random stuff and moved on.

This led them to a room whose walls were coated in ash and soot, save for spots where the silhouettes of humanoid figures could be picked out. Here they met a lone dwarf, who introduced himself as Grut. Now, Grut apparently wasn't the sharpest pick in the mine, but he seemed like an okay fella. He'd come with in with another group of adventurers, who'd all died of causes the dwarf wasn't quite eloquent enough to describe. Lacking anything better to do, he joined our doughty band of stalwarts.

From the blast room, we headed west, and came to a chamber containing a mound of trash and broken furniture. Everybody with poles or pole arms started rooting around in the debris. We weren't quite willing to sift through the garbage by hand, but turning over a couple of bits we might get lucky.

Well, we got the opposite of lucky, turning over a chair seat to find a nest of angry cobras, but this was much ameliorated by the use of some poles to put distance between us and the serpents' fangs. Grut dove in with his war pick and spiked one right between the eyes, and then left it attached to his weapon like a grotesque ribbon, dubbing it his "snake pick". The Deacon swatted a couple knots on the top of another snake's head, while Liam, Yogund, and Melchoir finished off the rest.

Moving past the trash room to the west, we found a crossroads marked by a rusted metal signpost. The sign that hung from it pointed west, and bore a scrawled message in kobold. The only one among us who could read kobold was Grut, and he was only semi-literate, so the message got translated as "Dragun Ded". A dead dragon? Maybe. Between a half literate writer and a half literate reader, there's a lot lost in translation, as we shall see.

Heading further down the hall, we came to a large natural cavern about 20'X20', with two tunnels to the north and south. From the north tunnel we heard the yapping, jabbering voices of a bunch of kobolds, who spotted us as they came out of the darkness, buckets full of what looked like whitewash in their scaly little mitts. At this point, Yogund did a Detect Evil, and saw that whatever the little wretches were up to, it was no good, so he charged them. Following his lead, the elf, the dwarf and the two hirelings charged in as well, and soon made short work of the band of kobolds (No pun intended.) A single survivor managed to scamper down the north tunnel, so Liam and Yogund gave chase, lest it sound the alarm.

Sadly, this put them outside the range of the group's lantern. Liam could see just fine, and found a cave full of stalagmites and stalagtites, the roof of which was crawling with bats, and the floor of which was thick with guano. All Yogund could see was the glowing red pulse of the kobold's evil little heart, beating rapidly as the little monster cowered in a cleft in the rock. The paladin's fervor got the better of his blindness, and he fell face first into the guano. Pulling himself off of the floor, he charged the little beast, honing in on the glow from Liam's blade as the elf also pressed his attack. In desperation, the kobold drew his rusty shortsword and managed to shank Liam pretty good before he went down. Yogund used his paladinic "lay on hands" ability, and mended the elf's wounds a bit.

By this time, the Deacon carried the lantern into the room at the heels of Melchoir and Strang. Seeing as the final kobold was dead, and the bats on the roof seemed edgy and ready to swarm, the group backed out and went back to the first cave, hucking the lifeless bodies of the kobold guano harvesting crew into the cave. Maybe they would have wanted it that way. Who can tell with the little chihuahuas from hell...

From there, we delved south, findinding a tunnel to the west and one heading straight south. We followed the latter one, and found ourselves in another cavern with a large stone well at the center. Peering over the edge, we lit a torch and dropped it to see how deep it was. It fell maybe 30 feet or so before fluttering out. Then we decided to lower Liam down to take a look. After some botheration about how to properly secure a one armed elf to 50 feet of rope and working out the tug/scream code for raising and lowering him, we lowered him down. He got down about 40 some feet before we ran out of rope, and said he saw a dirt floor maybe 20 more feet down, and a stiff breeze from below that must have extinguished the torch. That info in hand, we started pulling him up.

This, of course, is when another crew of kobolds came to see what all the racket at the last cave was. Grut let go of the rope and charged the little beggars, cracking down on kobold skulls with his dead snake festooned pick, leaving Melchoir, Strang, and Yogund to hastily pull up Liam. We had some trouble with strength rolls, but got him most of the way up. The Deacon grabbed the slack end of the rope and ran to tie it off on a stalagmite, in case we got charged, and sent Strang and Melchoir down the hall with polearms readied to help Klint and Grut.

After a fierce battle, we'd slain most of them, with four of the little murderers scuttling away toward the hall with the signpost. I think Klint and Liam followed them a little way and saw them head up the north passage, bit I'm not 100% sure.

The party then regrouped and decided to explore down a corridor to the west leading from the well room. We got to a rather nondescript cave, and found a tunnel leading south, which changed from the rough stone of the caverns to more worked stone at a four way intersection. Since that opened up a lot more options, we decided to double back and check out the other areas we'd passed up before pressing on.

This took us to the opening to the west just south of the cave where we first encountered the kobolds. We wound up a northward curving passage, until we came to a large cave with a pool of water dominating the north end, it's floor covered in scattered bones of various small animals, and possibly some kobolds. The party fanned out, with Klint watching from the door as the Deacon and Melchoir went along the walls searching for secret doors, and Strang took his spear and probed under the bones. Yogund and Grut stood looking into the subterranian pool, and it was here that the kobolds' "dragon" made its appearance.

A large shape dropped from the cieling, hissing aggressively. A giant cave gecko! It bit Yogund with savage, saw like teeth, and the battle was joined. The party circled the pale, scaly beast and quickly did it to death with hacking swords and pole arms.

After the monstrous lizard was slain, we searched more thoroughly. Yogund, still covered in guano from his fall in the bat cave, jumped into the pool to wash off, and spotted a crevice in the wall stuffed with copper pieces. He pulled these out, and found a copper circlet among them. Since we didn't really want to loot what was essentially pennies from an abandoned fountain, we only kept the diadem, and left the rest behind. We also cut the paws off of the lizard, thinking that maybe we could get them made into some kind of weird grappling hook/climbing apparatus due to the gecko's ability to stick to walls. We'll see.

Having established that in addition to no sense of grammar and spelling, the kobolds also lacked a sense of scale when it came to "dragons", we decided to head back to the four way intersection with the signpost. There, we headed south, and came upon a supremely ugly doorway of a scowling orc/demon face with bared fangs encircling the door. (This was accompanied by an awesome illustration from what I presume is the Stonehell book. Yeah, if it were me and not an imaginary cleric, I probably wouldn't go through it. Nice stuff.)

We spent a while checking this out for traps and other unpleasantness, but found it otherwise harmless, except aesthetically. This area, based on what Grut told us, was the entry to the dungeon known as "hellmouth" or somesuch. Beyond a short tunnel with bas reliefs depicting gleeful imps up to the usual impishness, we found a matching door on the other side, which in turn opened onto a large chamber with a spiral staircase at the center, which the dwarf informed us was the way he and his lamented companions came in.

There were four archways, two south and two north (including the one we came in), as well as a door in the southeast corner. We decided to take the other north tunnel, and soon found ourselves in a 20' X 30' room that apparently was the sight of another explosion (or perhaps the same explosion that made the outlines in the room where we found Grut).

From there was a charred doorway to the east, which we shoved open, and found a large room that looked to have been a feast hall at one time, as attested by the long tables, torn tapestries, battered shields, and broken furniture. We searched around a bit in here, but found nothing, so decided to head through a door we found to the south.

This area turned out to be a kitchen, long disused, with empty tables and long rotted foodstuffs. In one corner was a basin with a pump. Yogund and the Deacon went over to check it out. Yogund postulated that maybe valuables were hidden in the pump and we should dismantle it. The Deacon suggested trying to work the pump as, you know, a pump. While logical, this turned out to be a BAD idea, although it also led to some choice gaming shenanigans.

The cleric stepped up to the pump and worked it a few times. A gurgling sound issued from the tap, and moments later a stream of nasty, green slime started pouring out. Yeah... exactly... green slime. Eeuuggghhh...

Anyway, as the basin filled with the vile ooze, the Deacon shouted for everyone to clear back, and we mostly did, except for brave, foolhardy Yogund, who stood his ground as the slime reared up and slopped out of the basin and onto the floor. As the rest of the party frantically lit torches, the stuff crawled across the floor and glommed onto the hapless paladin's leg, and started to climb up it.

This, of course, is a very bad thing.

So we shouted at him to lose the greaves as Grut and Liam started whaling on Yogund's shins with lit torches. The henchmen were sent to grab tapestries and busted furniture from the other room to make more fire with. Someone, I think Liam, got a good hit in with a torch, burning both it and Yogund badly as the paladin furiously unbuckled his greaves, getting bits of slime on his gauntlets as well. The Deacon stepped in and healed Yogund so that he'd survive us burning him with torches.

By the mercy of Palenthor and the Allmaker we got him out of his shoes and pants as well, finally tossing away the guantlets as we furiously burned every bit of green slime in the sink and on the floor. As the last of the horrible slime sizzled and fizzed away, we took stock. Yogund was okay, except for some bad burns on his legs, and... well... being pretty much stripped naked from the waist down. (Apparently paladins go commando. More info than I wanted to know...)

Prithee, sir knight. Sheath thyne mighty blade.
And put your sword away too.
(Shorts added for clarity. Image produced by our DM. Not my fault.)

We wrapped up the session, literally, by cutting up a spare cloak to fashion a crude kilt and wrappings for Yogund's feet, and decided to call it a night.

This, my friends, is the kind of gonzo insanity that is the best that gaming has to offer. (Well, okay, maybe not the best, but still, lots of fun.) The fight between the green slime and Yogund the paladin's pants was at turns epic, tactical, desperate, and frikkin' ridiculous, and we laughed for a good fifteen minutes. Another one for the record books.

Thanks again to Paul, and the 10d gamers. And thanks to the Allmaker that due to his compromised armor class, Yogund's gonna be walking behind the Deacon for a while.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Faith n' Begorrah!

Of tangentially related note, tonight's Labyrinth Lord game featured both snakes AND green slime. Sure'n 'tis the season.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

LL at Paul's: Splitsville.

Hey, sorry this one is so tardy. I was overcome by pies and rhinovirii.

Anyway, far as I can recall from the last session, our stalwart band of adventurers was in town and parlaying like mad with every significant NPC we could get our hands on.

We'd finished up our talk with Pelltar, and moved on to speak to Almox the Druid at the wizard's suggestion that we ask him about the mysterious scroll we found at the bottom of the subterranian lake. Boy, was the Deacon's face red when it turned out that what we had on our hands was a clerical spell scroll with a couple of heal spells on it. The whole party just kind of assumed it was magical and handed it to Koode without thinking. (Which, is a bit of foreshadowing, now that I think about it. Read on.)

Yogund, our stalwart paladin, sought out the Baroness' servant (name unrecalled) to get him to take a letter to send back to Yogund's order, reporting our success in clearing the north road of raiders, the founding of a wayhouse devoted to the order's patron diety Palinthor (?), and including a small tithe as a sign of the paladin's bona fides. As they conversed, a bit of bigotry reared its ugly head, as the Baroness' man expressed his distaste at allowing elves and dwarves to patronize the under construction wayfarer's house. It was probably good that neither Liam the badass elf or the Deacon were there to hear it, allowing Yogund to be a bit diplomatic in changing the subject.

So all of our meeting and conferring done, we all headed back to the Inn of the West Wind to see if we could work a deal with Talen Zin about joining our group for an expedition back to the "Stonehell" place he'd mentioned. As we were talking the subject of the book with the map and note laden flyleaf, that our mage Koode was being bizarrely coy about, came up. After numerous tries to get him to let us see it, we finally let our frustration get the better of us. Liam stormed off to search his room at the inn, and the Deacon, with a genuine regret at having his hand forced like this, cast Hold Person on Koode, and proceeded to pat him down as the mage stood immobilized. After pulling the book free from his robes, the Deacon, feeling sorry for him, ordered a drink and left it clenched in the hapless mage's hand, but was distracted from releasing him by the arrival of the talkative Talen Zin, who took a while before he realized Koode was immobile.

Once the mage was released from his magical immobility and chairs were pulled up to the table, we looked over the maps on the flyleaf, determining that a possible way into the fabled labyrinth might be found in a vertical shaft leading down from the small cell behind the carved demon face that Talen Zin had hidden behind for so long. (Although we learned, much to are distaste, that he'd been using it as a privy for all those months. We hoped the notes on the map indicating a huge garden of fungus meant it wouldn't be so bad climbing down there...)

So we set about negotiating with the wizard about joining us. He drove a hard bargain, and eventually the deal settled out at Talen getting a full share of any gold we found, and a specific magic item, a magical figurine of an elephant, I think, that was fabled to be down there. Otherwise, he'd abide by our more free style, "you get it if you can use it" system of divvying up magic items.

As we settled up on the magics, lo and behold Pelltar's primary apprentice Philben showed up with the faintly glowing sword we'd discovered on the person of the orc leader. He said his investigations had turned up no discernable enchantment, but there was some kind of magic there, enough to make the sword glow, and maybe to add a small bonus (like +1) to it. We decided to give it to Liam, since he needed any advantage he could get.

With negotiations settled and whatnot we then went to the merchants row, and talked to them about setting out for the orc lair to retrieve their goods. With notice given that we'd set out on the morrow, they busied themselves arranging for wagons and guards, while the party shopped for any last minute supplies. Liam inquired at the carpenter about getting a vanity arm, and was informed that work of that caliber was best sought out in Bridgefair, whilst the Deacon, inspired by watching the carpenters work on the wayhouse, commissioned the purchase of a hand drill. (Actually, this was inspired by a blog post I read, I'm not sure where, who had the idea of bringing a hand drill along on a dungeon delve. Why just listen at doors when you can quietly bore a hole and look through as well. Just hope there's no ooze on the other side, I guess.) Anyway, that was going to take a few weeks to fill, so the Deacon left a down payment and went on his way.

The next morning, three wagons, a small train of mules, six hired guards, and a doughty band of adventurers set out for the orc raider's dungeon in the mountains. We made good time through the day, and soon found ourselves camping in the copse of trees on the near side of the bridge across the Resten river, confident that no orcs would pop out to waylay us. We split into watches. I don't recall who all was on what watch, save that Koode and the Deacon shared a watch, and the cleric got the sense that the mage still bore something of a grudge about the Hold Person. Well, I said I was sorry, and if Mister Dood wants to be that way then I hope he never needs a busted leg or a bleeding wound set straight, is all I'm sayin'.

Uncomfortable as the second watch was, the third watch, which I think was maybe Yogund and Strang, one of our hirelings, was downright nasty, as a bunch of giant spiders dropped down from the trees and attacked. Yogund ordered the spearman to wake the rest of the group up, as he and a couple of the guards the merchants hired did battle with the monstrous arachnids. The battle was short and furious (so furious I'm not remembering the specifics too clearly) and ended with the spiders dead, and one of the six guards grievously poisoned by the creatures' bite. Liam desperately tried to suck out the poison, but to no avail as we watched it spread down the poor feller's arm. Without any other option, we chopped the arm off, and through an application of Cure Light Wounds saved his life, but at the cost of leaving him half crippled. The Deacon felt so bad about it he tucked some platinum Sovereigns in the guard's pouch for his family.

Shaken, the party set out for the mountain cave that was our desination, loading the stricken guard on one of the empty wagons since he was unable to walk. When we got there, we were in for another unpleasant surprise. Approaching the cave, we found the remains of a huge bonfire, stacked with charred remains of dead orcs. We'd been away for about a week, and somebody had been by.

Leaving the merchants and their guards waiting at the cave mouth, the party decided to search the premises, in case there were threats lurking about inside. We found blood trails from dragged bodies inside, and Liam was able to do a little tracking, revealing booted and bare feet of various sizes, which suggested to us that orcs and maybe goblins had burned the bodies. Our working hypothesis was that since Talen Zin's illusion/ventriloquism ruse had been the center of an orcish cult, other members had either come to join or returned from a looting trip and had come upon our handiwork.

As we searched deeper into the dungeon, it seemed like our guess was logical. The copper coins we'd left behind were gone, but the dead wolves and the bodies of the prisoners on the second level were untouched. The biggest misfortune, however, was that over half of the boxes and packages in the storage room, the very goods we'd mounted this expedition to retrieve, had been made off with!

Needless to say, the merchants were very unhappy, but there was still some of the goods left, so we loaded up the wagons. (Or more properly, let the guards load up the wagons, while the party stood watch for trouble.) After spending the night on the mountainside, we sent the merchants on their way, promising to follow up if we dug up any better leads about the rest of the goods.

Freed from having to worry about the merchants and their guards, we made our way into the depths to the stone face where Talen Zin had spent his long imprisonment. Securing a grappling hook and line to the edge of the hole, we climbed down into the depths.

As predicted by the map, we indeed found a garden of bizarre fungus, slightly glowing until a lantern was lowered down the shaft. We wound our way through the cavern, until we found worked stone, and proceeded to explore the area shown on the map.

As we proceeded down a hallway, we chanced across a short hall, 10' x 20', which ended in a dead end with a strange glyph inscribed on the wall. One of the party, either Klint (which tonight was in henchman mode controlled by Koode's player) or Liam, headed down the hall, and found themselves dropped into a concealed 10' pit. After a rope had been lowered and the trap victim pulled out, Klint decided to investigate the symbol, and climbed across dragging the rope behind him.

Before anyone could stop him, Klint reached up and touched the symbol, and vanished into thin air. After the shock had subsided, the rest of the party climbed or leaped across the pit and soon we were all clustered around the glyph. We were faced with two possibilities, either Klint was disintigrated on the spot, or teleported to some unknown location. After conferring, Yogund and Liam shrugged at each other, and also touched the symbol, vanishing as well. Then the Deacon took his chance, touching the glyph and vanishing. Following his lead, Melchoir and Strang touched it as well, disappearing and leaving Koode and Talen Zin standing there, both proclaiming their unwillingness to touch the symbol.

And that's where it ended, at least for Koode and Talen. More stuff happened, although whether it was further adventures or a TPK and character generation I'll leave for this week's session to answer. (BTW, the Deacon still had the book with the map in it, so it went/went up with him.)

Have fun in Stonehell, fellas.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Devil's In The Details - Kedai

Here's another Devil's In The Details list from the world of Sanduk Ramul. The Kedai

Many Kedai (Roll 1d20 three times)

1: Expend more energy trying to get out of work than they would have just doing the work.

2: Speak the Common tongue with a pronounced lisp, and get prickly about it if someone notices.

3: Get lost easily on city streets, but can navigate uncannily on rooftops.

4: Feign sleep very convincingly.

5: Are viewed with considerable distrust by fishmongers

6: Are relentlessly talkative, even at times where it would be better if they kept quiet.

7: Will cram themselves into confined spaces just to see if they can fit.

8: Will rearrange furniture, rifle through belongings, and tinker with things when the owner isn't present, then frankly tell them what they've done when they return.

9: Will lose interest in a discussion or argument and wander off just as things are getting heated.

10: Never laugh out loud.

11: Are mesmerized by small, jangly, shiny objects, and greatly resent having this tendency used against them. (Game effect: the presence of such an object forces them to save vs spell or lose initiative)

12: Favor koumiss over wine or beer.

13: Are excellent gamblers.

14: Never pass up a chance to taunt, prank, or otherwise humiliate gnolls.

15: Have a hard time bluffing or lying since the movements of their tail give them away. Kedai with wisdom scores over 16 are often able to turn this to their advantage.

16: Have profoundly bad breath.

17: Cannot stand having anything on their feet, and will suffer a 10' movement penalty until the offending object or substance is removed.

18: Develop an avid taste for citrus fruits or melons.

19: Greatly enjoy swimming, bathing, and otherwise being in the water.

20: Are insufferably smug, even when they have no reason to be.

Some Kedai (Roll 1d16 once)

1: Are secretly terrified of heights.

2: Have beautiful singing voices.

3: Are melanistic.

4: Are more devout worshipers of their lost deity, the Ohai, than they let on.

5: Are synesthetic

6: Are terribly allergic to dairy products of all sorts.

7: Use dyes to enhance the appearance of their pelts.

8: Hate serpents and snake like monsters and will slay them without mercy.

9: Have two different colored eyes, and are convinced the lighter colored eye gives them prophetic visions.

10: Will occasionally buy random trinkets and baubles and give them as gifts to their friends.

11: Are narcoleptic.

12: Practice a form of asceticism, subsisting on a simple diet of fish, sleeping on the streets, and dressing in simple, unassuming garments.

13: Take extreme pride in their swordsmanship, archery, or skill at wrestling. Such kedai never pass up a contest or challenge in their chosen discipline

14: Grow large and burly, but are still quite nimble in spite of their bulk.

15: Experience vivid hallucinations when exposed to catnip.

16: Have an eye for temple architecture, and can tell at a glance what deity is worshiped there and where the entrances, exits, and best hiding places are.

Some Common Traveling Gear (1d16, roll 1d3 times)

1: A bundle of palm leaves (1d6 of them, Add +1 to poison save rolls if eaten shortly after ingesting the toxin.)

2: A leather band with a small bell hanging off of it, worn at the tip of the tail.

3: 1d4 small pots of henna dye in a hinged wooden case, ranging from pale gold to deep black, with a small paintbrush.

4: A 100' ball of twine.

5: A silver fish hook.

6: A small, portable backgammon set.

7: A palm sized brush with stiff bristles.

8: A small pouch full of mint leaves.

9: A tiny cloth doll shaped like an antelope, stuffed with catnip.

10: A small beaded rattle.

11: A mummified bird on a lanyard.

12: A small abacus.

13: A bucket, dubiously obtained.

14: A small bag of colorfully striped glass spheres.

15: A spear fishing gig.

16: A small hammock.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Devil's In the Details - Jann

So James M. over at Grognardia posed an inneresting blogwagon type idea, based on a Fight On! article by Aaron Kesher, referred to as "The Devils in the Details" wherein you create some randomized tables to flesh out the character of non or demi human races in your campaign. Since I love that kind of stuff, and since new PC races/classes are all I seem to post on this blog besides session recounts, I think I'll give this idea a spin.

So here's my first one, for the Jann, a race of half genies I'm using in my Arabian Nights themed Sandbox campaign.

Many Jann (Roll 1d20 three times)

1: Are intensely claustrophobic

2: Have a laugh that can be heard for miles

3: Have a natural talent for juggling and acrobatics

4: Embroider their name with a litany of titles, honorifics, and references to their lineage, some true, some exaggerated. It's hard to tell.

5: Are spendthrift, and will empty their purses on a whim, particularly on food, drink, and agreeable companionship.

6: Have an affinity for dangerous wild animals, and will tame them to keep as household pets.

7: Will place no value on coins of any kind, insisting on using only precious stones for commerce.

8: Are condescending towards clerics and wizards, no matter how powerful they might be.

9: Can predict sandstorms within days of their arrival.

10: Irritate camels beyond all reason, and tend to get spit at by the beasts an inordinate amount.

11: Tend to forget the names of people or places, even those they know quite well.

12: Have skin that is either ice cold or teakettle hot to the touch.

13: Have moods that are affected by the weather.

14: Can laugh off any slight or insult, except for those pertaining to one very specific aspect of their appearance or character, upon which they will go to any length to avenge their honor.

15: Tend to engage in drawn out, escalating games of one-upmanship with those of their kind that can span for decades. Such contests are particularly fierce between jann of opposite genders.

16: Have an innate, flawless sense of proper courtly manners and etiquette, but keep their own council on how they apply that knowledge.

17: Possess an unusual odor. Roll 1d4 1: incense, 2: brimstone, 3: salt air, 4: sun baked sand

18: Disdain the accumulation of personal posessions, often travelling with nought but a sword on their hip and the clothes on their backs (and losing those with careless abandon as well)

19: Enjoy starting quarrels between those around them and then stepping back to watch the results, but take equal pleasure in matchmaking and encouraging friendships.

20: Are illiterate in the common script, but know the meanings of ancient writings almost instinctively.

Some Jann (Roll 1d16 once)

1: Never seem to get wet, even if standing in a torrential rain or dunked in a lake.

2: Have an uncanny ability to pick up small flames and place them in their pockets for later.

3: Can eat gemstones as a man might eat candied fruits, and proclaim them a great delicacy.

4: Are stopped by large masses of smoke as if they are walking into a Web spell.

5: Cannot eat salt, and therefore cannot benefit from the laws of hospitality.

6: Leave footprints that scorch the ground wherever they go.

7: Possess a secret name that when spoken may bind them to service for three days.

8: Can cause wind instruments to emit sounds without even touching them. If skilled in music, may play tunes.

9: Must wear garments of a single color at all times, otherwise they lose their powers. A single thread dyed in the proper hue is sufficient to keep this requirement should the need arise.

10: Never speak informally, always referring to even close friends by their full name and title.

11: Have vision like a hawk, and can see sharp detail from miles away.

12: Are royal heirs of either (or both) human and jinni kind, although tremendously far removed in the line of succession.

13: Are completely invisible and inaudible to jinni of a specific type. (Efreeti, Djinn, etc.)

14: Have a keen sense for horseflesh, and always choose the most fiery, unmanageable mounts for the sheer challenge of taming them.

15: Must always tell the truth when the moon is full, and will always lie when it is new.

16: Can hear voices carried on the wind when traveling the open desert, which can be anything from chance scraps of distant conversations, or prophecies bearing great weal or woe.

Some Common Traveling Gear (1d16, roll 1d3 times)

1: A fine silk brocade turban that can be unfurled to a 25 ft. length

2: A small ney (flute) made of oryx horn with gold banding.

3: A sphere of purest silver, small enough to fit in a man's palm, that constantly spins like a top and can be used to summon breezes and light winds.

4: A bronze chess piece cast in the form of a warrior on a horse, that will magically point in the direction where the most adventure can be had when cast on the ground.

5: A small rug, roughly large enough for a tall man to lie on, that will roll itself tightly when the owner claps their hands.

6: A pouch of sweet smelling, exotic tobacco, that gives off shimmering purple smoke set with tiny stars.

7: A pair of slippers that can resist the heat of hot coals.

8: A clear gem, that when placed in a jug of wine for an hour absorbs the wine's essence, changing it into water. When removed, the gem has turned the color of the former wine, and if placed in a jug of fresh water, reconstitutes the wine and becomes clear again.

9: A letter of introduction bearing the seal of a long dead ruler of a forgotten land, proclaiming the legitimacy of the bearer's lineage to the Sultan's court in the City of Brass.

10: An ornate hood, jesses, and leather gauntlet for falconry.

11: A glass phial of perfume that gives the bearer a small bonus to reactions from the opposite sex when used sparingly.

12: A pair of sheep's knuckle bones, marked with glyphs in the Ancient script.

13: A palm sized brass astrolabe on a length of cord.

14: A reverseable cloak, dun colored on one side, and brightly colored and embroidered on the other.

15: A brass and enamel brooch in the form of the tip of a peacock feather, that is reputed to protect one from the evil eye when worn on a turban or veil.

16: A small leather bound book that reads as pious proverbs when turned one direction and bawdy verse when turned another.

Friday, March 5, 2010

LL at Paul's: Droppin' orcs and droppin' names.

Yes, brothers & sisters, it's time once again for me to parade my dubious memories before the vaguely interested public.

When last we left our stalwart band, they were in the depths of an orc lair, rooting out a horde of the creatures who'd been preying on the merchants of Restenford.

We started with an intensive session of donkey stacking, working out just how much swag we'd piled on the poor little critter. After realizing the animal was about to collapse into a singularity, we offloaded all the rolled up tapestries, and kept only the chest of silver, a silver carving set, and a stuffed manticore head we figured our wizardly contact (and master to our mage Koode) Pelltar would like.

Once we got all that out of the way, we decided to follow the corridor from the room with the subterrainian pool towards the west. At the end of this passage, we found a fork, one end of which dwindled down to a 5' wide winding passage, and the other leading north.

Since the smaller passage seemed kind of suspicious, we sent Liam the elf ranger down it to scout. A brief 1 on 1 with the DM later, he returned reporting he'd found a room full of boxes and crates, so a larger detachment of the party went back, namely Liam, Klint the thief, Koode the mage, and the Deacon. We left Yogund and the two henchman guarding the donkey, who was too big and too laden to navigate the narrow tunnel. (Which was fine by Yogund, as his player was absent and he was in "henchman mode" for that session.)

We went back to the room and indeed found an assortment of boxes and parcels, as well as some stacks of lumber and a few casks. We blunted one of Koode's daggers prying open a couple of crates, finding one full of bolts of cloth, and finding a cask full of nails. We decided we'd tarried too long for comfort, and left the rest sit after making a list of the boxes we found, and noting any unusual marks or sigils on them that might indicate ownership.

The party then regrouped, and headed up the north corridor. It wasn't long before we came to a dead end with a ladder leading upwards. (Semantic aside, if there's a ladder, is it technically a dead end? Who can say?) Liam was once again sent to scout, his prosthetic shield arm banging loudly on the rungs as he climbed.

At the top of the ladder, his elvish "see stuff in the dark" vision beheld an oblong room with a couple of odd tripod like things next to the hatch in the floor. When the Deacon climbed up bearing a lantern, the elf's heart caught in his throat, and he shed a single, manly tear, as he saw that they were archery targets. I let the one armed elf have a moment to overcome his grief and explored the rest of the room, finding a couple of straw practice dummies hanging off of another wall. Now, something like this had tremendous potential for mischief, so the Deacon pulled down one of the dummies and attached it to his staff, carrying it like a bindlestiff behind him. As the Deacon searched and Liam overcame his melancholy, the rest of the party climbed up, leaving Melchoir and Strang to mind the donkey.

We made our way out of what we presumed was a training room, and turned a corner to find a chamber that must have been a dungeon (in the literal sense of a prison), as we found two cages, one containing a skeleton wrapped in a bearskin and the other containing a rotting corpse. Moving past this scene of horror, we came to another empty room, the contents of which elude me (I think it was another bunkhouse/barracks kinda thing).

From there, we followed a corridor to the east, which turned south and entered into a large cave lit with braziers. On the far east end, a huge carving of a scowling demonic face filled the wall, before which a company of orcs were bowing in worship. Seems we'd found our demon cult. There were four regular shmoe orcs, two tougher looking lieutenants, and a big boss orc, who carried a blade that glowed slightly, indicating it was magical. The hulking creature turned and ordered his minions to attack in the name of their patron demon, the terrible Talen Zinn.

Yogund and Liam stepped forward, blocking the corridor, as the four warriors made to rush us, with the Deacon falling in behind to strike with his quarterstaff and do what healing was needed. (At the time, I think I only had 1 Cure Light Wounds left. I was third level, but hadn't prepped a 2nd lvl spell yet, dangit.) However, our big tactical advantage was Koode and his double helping of Sleep. The mage stepped forward on his turn and cast his spell, sending half of the warriors and one of the lieutenants to sleep, improving our odds immensely. The other two warriors rushed up to attack, while the chief attempted to rouse his sleeping lieutenant. Klint turned and ran to get the henchmen, dropping his pack as he made his way through the corridors shouting for Melchior and Strang. The orc warrior furiously attacked, but were fended off by the mighty AC of Liam and Yogund, as the fighters began to wear the creatures down.

When it looked like the orc chief was about to rouse one of his lieutenants, Koode decided to be thorough and cast his second sleep spell, getting the chief and sending the awakened orc back to dreamland, as well as one of the two orcs attacking the front line fighters (I think.). Soon, the remaining orc warrior was down, and all that remained was a single orc lieutenant. Klint returned, and actually climbed up the wall and over the corridor ceiling, dropping down behind the final orc with an attempt to backstab (which I think was successful). As we pushed the furious orc back, Koode slipped around and set to work with his dagger, making the ensorcelled orc's slumber a bit more permanent like... Finally, either a blow from Yogund or another backstab from Klint finished off the final orc.

That's when the carved face started belching smoke and fire and shouting at us in a loud, booming voice with the usual "WHO DARES DISTURB THE TEMPLE OF TALEN ZINN!?" and suchlike. Klint and Liam seemed unfazed by this, even as the Melchior and Strang spun on their heels and ran like little halfling girly girls. The Deacon unslung his silver stringed mandolin to ward off evil and pluck up his courage. The terrifying visage boomed out a question. "WHO DESECRATES MY PRESENCE?" Koode, showing some spine, answered by name. (Not a 100% good idea when it comes to such otherworldly apparitions, as giving 'em your name is the metaphysical equivalent of giving them your PIN number, but ballsy, nonetheless, and it all turned out okay, as you'll see if you haven't stopped reading yet.) and then answered who his master was.

At this, all the flash and thunder abated, and a normal human voice proclaimed "Oh, thank God." A moment later, a scrawny, berobed gentleman lowered himself out of the stone face's nostril, and came out to greet us. He introduced himself as Talen Zinn, a wizard who'd come to the hills looking for a lost ruin known as Stonehell. He'd been cornered by the orcs, and to keep from getting scragged, had cooked up this whole Great and Powerful Oz schtick using Phantasmal Force and Ventriloquism to scare 'em off. (Which is why Liam and Klint were unfazed, they'd made their save and while they heard the voice, weren't seeing the scary light show.)

Unfortunately, it hadn't so much scared 'em off as founded a new religion for 'em. The orcs had started raiding to appease their new idol, and Talen had been living off of their offerings, hoping for a chance to escape which never came. He was all too glad to accompany us out of the dungeon, and we started laying tracks for him joining our party as a henchman.

Now I'll pause here to say that I had a genuine "Oh Crap!" moment when I heard the name Stonehell float across the table. Those in the oldskool gaming set, among whom I include myself, recognize that name, as Mike Curtis' epic megadungeon creation. It was kind of a thrill to be able to say "Oh, I've heard of that." and mean it, and be able to do so in character. I don't really know much about it beyond it's well known and well received, and that the origins of the dungeon are of a horrible prison complex that had been abandoned and colonized by all sorts of awful things. The equivalent here would be if the party were all joggers, and Talen had told us he was here to run the Boston Marathon. This was indeed very cool, and I'm psyched that our adventures might take us there. Paul writes about this bit on his blog here.

Anyway, having rescued Talen Zinn, we decided we needed to make sure the complex was cleared out, so we set out to hit all the loose ends of the dungeon we hadn't explored. There were three corridors remaining.

The first led to an armory, where the henchmen picked up a couple of extra weapons, but was otherwise unremarkable.

The second, to the den of the wolves we'd encountered. We decided to try to either shoo the beasts out, or kill them. We ended up with the latter course of action, as the wolves stood snarling and growling and refused to move from their den. It wasn't long before we finished the beasts off, with Yogund running the last one through on his sword.

The third and final corridor led to another barracks room.

As a final bit of business, we put two and two together and remembered some information Pelltar had given us about an adventurer nicknamed "The Bear" who he'd given a book about magics that might restore Liam's arm, who had gone questing in the hills for the cult of Talen Zin. We realized the skeleton in the jail room wrapped in a bearskin might be him, so we doubled back and searched the cage, and found he did indeed have the tome on him.

It turned out to be a treatise by a man named Zelnar about golem construction, with some notes about grafting golem limbs on living beings. There was also a page of notes written on the book's flyleaf that Paul had actually produced as a handout and gave to Koode's player. I didn't get to see them, but the player was very intrigued by what he saw there, so obviously there's a lot of interest. From what I glimpsed it looked pretty cool, with maps and diagrams and such, so I myself am fairly intrigued. (Kudos to Paul on that. I'm a sucker for awesome handouts.)

Satisfied that we'd cleared out the complex, we hied our way home, stopping only to sleep overnight in a copse of trees near the bridge over the river Resten.

When we returned to Restenford, we found a new building was being built, the hostel that Yogund had set into motion under the auspices of Almox's elven wife Feldara and the Lady Baroness, who was a worshipper of Palandir? (I'm not sure I got the name of Yogund's patron diety right here... I'll write it down eventually, I guess.) Yogund ran over and enthusiastically picked up a hammer and started working, and happily occupied himself thus in NPC mode for the rest of the night.

Talen was happy to be back in civilization after being months trapped up a fake demon's nostril, but we advised him that he should keep his full name on the down low, as the orcs tended to invoke him by name as their demon patron when they went raiding. He decided to go by Tal, although "Tal of the Nostril" seems to be the nickname that the party is applying to him. He headed for the nearest tavern, the "Inn of the West Wind" to unwind.

The rest of the group headed over to the merchant's row, catching our patrons just as they were closing to bring them the good news. We gave them the manifesto of the boxes and crates we found, and arranged with them to go on an expedition with some wagons to retrieve the goods in the near future. We also changed in all the silver we'd recovered, and sold the silver platter, knives, and a silver statue we'd found in a chest, netting ourselves a pretty hefty sum of gold.

With heavily jingling pouches, we headed back to the Inn of the West Wind. There, we were greeted by a pair of gentlemen in fezzes with waxed mustaches, and led inside to a well appointed common room with more the air of an exclusive gentleman's club.

For a gold piece, we would get a fine dinner, a private room, and breakfast, so we all splurged on the high life to celebrate. Liam ordered a glass of premium elvish wine (made from some kind of fancy elvish berries whose name tickled me, but that I can't quite remember), which sold at a platinum piece per glass, and reported it made his head all fresh and tingly. The Deacon, well, he just ordered whatever they had on draft and sat in a comfy arm chair, picking out some quiet tunes on his mandolin. All told, a pretty nice night. (Except for Koode, who stayed up all night reading his new book, and Yogund, who whiled away the night in the throes of devout carpentry.)

As we enjoyed the ambiance of the Inn, we found that Tal was hanging out with Pelltar's senior apprentices, Abricus and Gristla. The Deacon politely interjected, asking about getting some items identified. They said that their fellow apprentice Philbin would do so for fairly inexpensive rates, so we all resolved to visit Pelltar in the morning.

The next day, we went to the guard tower and contacted Pelltar, who was kind enough to break off from his research to talk to us for a little while. The deacon got the ball rolling with Philben on id'ing the potions, and Koode pressed the senior mage with questions about the book he'd found and it's author, learning the guy was brilliant but a little bit of a "torches and pitchfork wielding mob" magnet. He also ratted out Talen Zin to Pelltar about being accidentally behind the orc attacks. (I think there's a bit of professional jealousy involved here...) Pelltar was understanding about that, so I don't think we're gonna have to worry about our prospective magic wielding henchman getting strung up or anything. (At least we'd better not have to worry about that, Koode...)

Finally, we gifted the mage with the stuffed manticore head. He was happy with that, which is good, although he said it was a little old and beat up. (We hadn't noticed it was missing most of its teeth, for example.) We parted company, after Philben came down and reported that it was two healing potions, a potion of speed, and a potion of gaseous form that we'd nabbed. (Sweet!) We left the magic sword we'd captured from the orc leader with a deposit of 10 crowns for him to identify its properties, and left.

And that was pretty much the session. We'll get on about taking a little trip out to gather the rest of the merchants' goods, and we've got some more reason to head to the bigger city of Bridgefair, mainly to do some trading and research. There's a lot of interesting hooks hanging about for us to tug on as well, so the plot, as they say, thickens.

Thanks again to Paul and the 10d gamers for another good session.