Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 26

Attendants:
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief/Werewolf
Ritzy – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 4 Cleric/Vegetable
Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 4 Dampyr

Loot Acquired (from the hanging cauldron from Cardille Keep)
               1100 GP and 1600 SP, all stamped with the ancient crest of the Duchy of Lobo.
               1260 GP Total/5 Players = 252 Exp apiece

Also acquired: 10 skeleton ladies in fancy dresses and a healthy fear of trolls, based on Alexi Von Himmels’ stories about his very late Uncle Stanislaus.

Commentary: 

So after parting company with the Von Himmels, the party hied back to Ghoulardia Pass to do one last sweep through Cardille Keep. 

Since he was back up to 5th. level and able to cast Animate Dead again, Arongoth animated the skeletons in their fancy finery that were lounging around in the late Lobovich's conservatory. I guess he just wasn't comfortable unless he had an entourage of shambling undead following him around...

They made it up to the top turret, now that the fires had gone out, and cracked open the giant cauldron that had been hanging there. Inside, they found Lobovich's treasure, a hefty pile of gold and silver. 

It was a good start, but they were itching to increase their cash flow, so they decided it was time to leave Strangeldorf (this time without a torch & pitchfork waving mob behind them) and head out for the big city of Kroenenburg, where they could sell the bigger ticket gemstones and maybe make some more moolah as they went. Or at least attract a better class of mob to run them out of town. 

Tune in Friday as our merry miscreants make their preparations and set out on their journey.


Monday, May 21, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 25

Just drink your tea and don’t say anything about her surgery scars.
Attendants:
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief/Werewolf
Ritzy – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 4 Cleric

Henching:
Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 4 Dampyr

Monsters Mashed:
1 Ghoul – Cut down with Greed’s awesome sword of undead slaying before its scabrous brethren nearly TPK’d you all.
               47 EXP/4.5 players = 10 EXP apiece

Arongoth attained the second mandrake root and ate it. Is now an ambulatory plant with green, mottled, potato like skin and other unknown effects.

Party nearly TPK’d by ghouls (frikkin’ ghouls) and rescued by Alexi Von Himmel and his wonder dog Rex before being eaten.


Have struck a deal with Deiter Von Himmel to obtain some troll blood in exchange for reduced rates for homanculous upgrades.
That's Doctor Von Himmel, I didn't get my degree just to be called Baron.

 Commentary:

This is the session where the weirdness of the campaign began to gain some real momentum. 

The party sought out the other mandrake root that they knew about from Bark Eatin' Ted's woodsy wisdom, and found it in a patch of greenishghoul, which is a sickly whitish green plant known for attracting the undead. (I got that herb list for Rael's wolwelf cure from Abulafia btw. Best use of a random table I've ever done.) Which it had, in the form of a pack of frikkin' ghouls. 

Well, ghouls are pretty nasty, even for a bunch of 4th. to 5th. level characters, so the party came really close to getting TPK'd. Claw/claw/bite plus paralysis and a lot of blown saving throw rolls often makes for a bad time. Frikkin' ghouls... 

But lo! Galumphing through the woods astride his faithful reindeer Snowflake was Alexi Von Himmel, adventurer, nobleman, and gentleman hunter, with his amazing hunting hound Rex (a german shepherd with a human arm grafted to his back armed with a flintlock pistol, a gift from his elder brother). Between Alexi's hurtling hand axes and his dog being a crack shot, the ghouls were sent packing and the party was saved. 

One tangential historical note, Alexi was a character my brother created and played in a kinda gothic 2nd. Edition D&D game back when we were sharing an apartment in Cleveland while going to school at the Cleveland Institute of Art. I'd say back in 1993-1994, if I'm doing my math right. He was cossack inspired, and we were using the A Mighty Fortress campaign sourcebook. 

We'd decided between us that the Von Himmels were an Addams Family style clan of aristocratic oddballs and misfits. In a lot of ways that old campaign was the buried corpse that the deep roots of the flowerbed of bizarre that was the Creepy Crawl campaign drew it's nourishment from. I brought the Von Himmel family back in a big way for this game, and the rescue from Alexi was my golden opportunity to slot them into the campaign.

Von Himmel invited the party back to his family estate, an imposing castle in the next valley over from Ghoulardia Pass. There they were introduced to his elder brother, Dieter Von Himmel, the greatest mad scientist in all the land, and Deiter's lovely wife Hyacinth, a velociraptor in a dress with a barely noticable surgery scar running across her cranium under her blonde wig. (A result of a tragic trip abroad that the Von Himmels decline to discuss. The poor dear gets so upset and starts lacerating the throw pillows... and the servants...)

Over tea, I got to introduce one of the campaign's best patrons, and also gave the homanculus characters something to strive for. When they found out that Dr. Von Himmel could do any kinda modifications their artificial little hearts desired, if the price was right, right then and there they knew what their goal in life was gonna be: earning enough bling to pimp out their chassis.

I tried dangling the troll blood discount thing in front of them to get them to go back to the cave where they'd gotten the mountainroot morels, but they didn't bite on that. Their adventures were soon to take them further afield. 

Finally, Arongoth got himself back up to 5th. level after eating the second mandrake root, but it had started to... change him. 

It never came up in play, but in addition to his plant like complexion, he was also capable of regrowing severed limbs. (Although the process would be rather... fraught, in many disturbing and inconvenient ways...) 

And he wasn't done yet. This... change made him wonder what would happen were he to acquire more mandrake and consume it without needing to replenish his levels.

Like I said, here's where it really starts to get really, really weird, and I'm lovin' it. 



Tune in on Wednesday, group, as we proceed.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Thousand And One Tales Yet To Be Told

So over the past month I've been working on the first of a series of books about my Thousand Year Sandglass campaign. It's progressing nicely, and I just recently got the written part of it mostly roughed out.

The base rule set is Labyrinth Lord. It's got four new classes, sections about monsters and treasure, a whole chapter dedicated to randomly generating adventure and intrigue in the grand old city of Kalabad, and eight fully mapped and keyed scenarios of varying sizes for a teller of tales to drop into their own game.

It's essentially a toolkit for building an Arabian Nights themed sandbox, and following books will provide more features and scenarios to expand on this unique world. 

Now I've just got the interior illustrations, the cover, a few more textual extras, and a whole big heap of proofreading and editing to do.

So this post is mostly a progress report and a little bit of a waving the flag to get folks interested. It also makes it harder for me to procrastinate if I announce it publicly, so if you hear the faint sound of a whip cracking fear not, that's me on either end of it.

Were I to put on my fortune teller's turban and make a prediction, I would say it'll drop sometime in June. July at the latest.

So watch this space, O gentle readers, and try not to get any sand in your eyes.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 24

Attendants:
Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 4 Dampyr
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief/Werewolf
Ritzy – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 3 Cleric

Henching 4 Evah:
Richard Darkmagic – Lvl 5 Magic User

Casualties:
Richard Darkmagic – Face exploded by mandrake scream. Requescat en pace.
Silver lining: Arongoth has eaten the mandrake root, and has now attained 4th level

Commentary:

Gather 'round, boils and ghouls, and let me tell you a tale of a mandrake harvesting gone awry. 

So the plan the group cooked up was for Vlad to cast Levitate to get up to the high cliff where their prize awaited while Arongoth cast Silence 15' Radius on him to ward off the sonic doom it contained.

So they do, and up Vlad floats, about 50' up the cliff face, while the party all stands around below watching him. 

Vlad pulls the root in question out of the dirt on the high cliff ledge and it starts screaming, but it's fine 'cos in the 15' sphere of silence nobody can hear it. 

Except the thing is shaking and vibrating like crazy in Vlad's hand. So I make him roll a Dex check, which he fails. So he loses his grip and drops the silently screaming mandrake. 

Well, the party stares up in horror for a second while it falls in cinematic slow motion, then they scatter, running for their lives as the terrible tuber drops out of the 15' spell radius and here comes the scream

I make everybody roll saves vs. Death, I think, and mercifully they all make it except for poor, henchy Richard Darkmagic, who takes full damage, which puts him past 0 HP so I roll on these dreadful dismemberment tables that I'd gotten from Paul a while ago to use with a critical hits system he pioneered that I've adopted. (Ironically to make the game less lethal. Heh.)

The same tables that Paul used in his Restenford campaign, that had a non-trivial percentage of the party limping around with missing limbs and delving dungeons looking for ways to re-grow them or build magical prosthetics. 

Based on my records and looking at the charts again, that means a 94-96 was rolled on the d100 for Location, which is Face, followed by a 6 on the d6 Severity, which equates to Severed, which all adds up to X = Instant death. 

And that's how the very late Richard Darkmagic wound up getting his face exploded by a screaming mandrake. 

That'll happen...

Tune in next week for more screemy shenanigans.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 23

His bark eatin' has really gotten out of control...
Attendants:
Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 4 Dampyr
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief/Werewolf
Ritzy – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 3 Cleric

Henching 4 Evah:
Richard Darkmagic – Lvl 5 Magic User

Monsters Mashed – 6 Stirges – All but one Sleep spelled and fell to their death. One kerploded with magic missiles
96 EXP/5.5 Players = 17 EXP apiece

The conditions of Rael’s condition:

Wolf Form: AC 6, Mov 150(50), Bite 2d4, +2 to save vs. Breath Wpn, 60' Darkvision.
+30 to Move Silently. May bite as backstab. Cannot use Climb ability. Make Save vs. Petrify/Paralyze to change 1/day and back.

Commentary:

So, after brewing up the worwelf cure as perscribed in their research in Doctor Von Rattschmid's library, Rael held her cold, wet nose, swallowed a silver piece, and then downed the nasty concoction. Then she rolled a save vs. Poison...

And made it. When her character was done gagging, I explained to her player that now she could control her wolfly transformations, more or less. She could only shift from person to wolf and back once per day, and if she blew either save vs. Paralysis she'd be stuck in whatever form she was in until the next day.  

In a normal campaign I'd probably be more inclined to play up the curse part of lycanthropy, what with the random transformations and the gnawing on comrades and whatnot, but in a schlock horror movie styled game like I was runnin', it seemed more apropos to just have it be part of the party's skill set. And thus the enweirdening of the party began...

So having solved Rael's problem, the group turned their attentions to helping Arongoth get over having almost half of his levels drained by the vampire Lobovich. 

They sought out the herbal advice of Bark Eatin' Ted, the mad druid of Ghoulardia Pass. Ted manifested as a face on the side of a tree, and they had a splintery conversation about what could be done. B.E. Ted suggested they rustle up some mandrake roots, which were known to be a restorative. In short, if Arongoth dug up a mandrake and ate it, he could get a level back. 

Of course, picking mandrakes is supremely dangerous, what with the killer scream they emit when pulled from the ground. S.O.P. was to get a dog and tie it to the root, toss a ball or a stick or something, and then run for the hills as the dog pulled the mandrake loose and got sent to heaven.  Since Rael wasn't too keen on volunteering for that gig they had to come up with something else.

Ted hipped them to the locations of a couple of the deadly tubers in the woods around Ghoulardia Pass, so they thanked the plank and headed off to do some more herb harvesting. 

The first mandrake they found was growing on a high ledge on a cliff that was also home to a nasty colony of stirges. They bested the little bloodsuckers with a Sleep spell, and then prepared their clever plan to get up there and pick that mandrake. 

Tune in Friday, to find out how they planned to do it, and how it all went horribly, horribly pear shaped. Heh heh heh...

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 22

Attendants:
Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 4 Dampyr
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief/Werewolf
Ritzy – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 3 Cleric

Henching 4 Evah:
Richard Darkmagic – Lvl 5 Magic User
Ivan Fedyeka – Lvl 2 Ranger Hireling

Monsters Mashed –
4 Dire Wolves – 560 EXP. / 6 players = 93 EXP apiece

1 Gallon (plus) of Dire Wolf blood successfully obtained.

Commentary:

Today's session was a quest for soup stock. Having obtained all the various poisonous and otherwise obnoxious herbal ingredients for Rael's wierwalf cure, as well as a nice copper pot to cook it all up in, they needed some dire wolf juice to really meld the flavors. 

So they hired Ivan, an NPC ranger, to help them track down a pack of the big beasties and went tromping about the pine forests around Ghoulardia Pass lookin' for trouble. Since that particular neck of the woods is crawling with wolves, dire and otherwise, they scored the necessary bucket of blood and headed back to the hunting lodge and got cookin'. 

I think they had the wine covered from an earlier looting haul, and contrary to his general MO of making shambling undead minions out of every corpse he could lay his hands on, and despite his reduced level from the battle with Lobovich, Arongoth could Purify and Bless enough water for the recipe's requirements. Or maybe they just left the holy water out. Or maybe they substituted a bottle of cheap vodka and some tomato juice. My records on this are vague, and my memory even vaguer.

Tune in Wednesday to find out how the medicine went down.  

P.S.: Of course the song is stuck in your head, it's stuck in mine right now. Here's the video, 'cos I love my readers (if there are actually any of you out there) and don't want to force you to have to search YouTube yourselves. 

You're welcome. 
Doo doo doodoo doo doodoo doo doodoo doo doodoodoo doooo.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 21

Attendants:
Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 4 Dampyr
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief/Werewolf
Ritzy – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 3 Cleric

Henching 4 Evah:
Richard Darkmagic – Lvl 5 Magic User

Casualties:
Top battlement of Cardille Keep:
Loot Acquired –
Fancy gold stringed, semi-precious stone inlaid balalaika – 700 gp
               700 EXP
Monsters Mashed –
8 Giant bats – Stabbed, shot, and then awesomely exploded via Fireball
               160 EXP

Experience award total:
               860/5.5 Players = 156 Exp apiece

Commentary:

 As you'll note from the note in the attendance card, the player who ran Richard Darkmagic was unable to continue playing with us due to an uptick in his work schedule, so his magic user was converted to a permanent henchman. 

Well, permanent might not be the best word, as you'll soon see...

Anyway, our friendish fiends continued their looters tour of Cardille Keep, making their way up to the upper floors. 

One of the rooms was a conservatory where the skeletons of several elegant ladies, as could be determined from the moldering silken finery the bones were bedecked in, sat on dust covered couches. There they found the fancy balalaika, which Rael the Werethief claimed for keeps. (I love it when players take a personal interest in treasure they find rather than just marking down the gp value and cashing it in at ye olde fantasy cheque cashing and payedaye loanes establishmente.)

From there they made their way up to the top of the tower, where they were attacked by Lobovich's squad of giant bats. (There are just some features that come standard in a vampire's castle, although I guess the old boy sprang for the deluxe option here.) The party fought them off, punctuating a death sentence on the leathery beasts with a Big Red d30 fueled Fireball! BOOM!

Leaving the top of the keep in flames, and resolving to come back and check out that iron cauldron hanging from chains in the topmost battlement after the fire had died down, our party of pyros quit their castle casing for other pursuits. 

Stay tuned, group. It just gets more oofty mcgoofty from here. 


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 20

Attendants:
Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 4 Dampyr
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief/Werewolf
Ritzy – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 3 Cleric

Henching:
Richard Darkmagic – Lvl 5 Magic User

Monsters Mashed – 10 Doom Guards – Kerploded with magic swords and magic missiles, backstabbed in the neck, bludgeoned or arrowed and quarreled into rusty bits, bone shards, and dirt.
               350 EXP/5.5 players = 63 EXP apiece

Commentary:

In this session the party made their way up from the dungeon levels of Cardille Keep and found their way into the great feasting hall, where a troupe of Doom Guards (super old super dead guys packed into super antique rusty platemail with a bunch of grave earth as filler) stood guard. Then they didn't, after our gruesome group laid an old school whuppin' on their creaky kiesters. 

Not much more to say about this one, just one of those all fightin' kinds of sessions. We only had an hour to play over lunch, so often that's how things would go down. After four years I can't really recall much of interest. Dice were rolled, fun was had, lunch was eaten, and we all went back to our desks both satisfied and hungry to take it up where we left off next time we sat down to game.

Stay tuned for the next installment, where things will heat up a little.

Monday, May 7, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 19

Attendants:
Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 4 Dampyr
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief/Werewolf
Ritzy – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 3 Cleric

Henching:
Richard Darkmagic – Lvl 5 Magic User

Monsters Mashed –

Carpet of Rats descending staircase in catacombs. Slept then stomped.
               89 exp/5.5 players = 16 EXP per player

Acquired:
1 Nice copper kettle, some shields, some phat lewt via pickpocketing, and 1 ominous possible threat from maybe the gypsies.

Commentary:

Not all too much to report from this session. A lot of it took place in town. In addition to some other necessities they bought a clean copper pot to stew up all the strange and deadly herbs they'd acquired for the wurwilf cure, although they still needed a gallon each of holy water, fine wine, and dire wolf's blood as a soup stock. 

Rael practiced her thiefly craft just to keep her hand in (as in hand in pockets of wealthy looking chumps) and did pretty well, but at the end of her larcenous lark she found something had been slipped into her own pocket: a chicken foot with a black ribbon tied around it. This was the equivalent of a red card from the local gypsies for horning in on their territory. (Alas, this plot thread didn't get to go much of anyplace, 'cos they didn't hang out in Strangeldorf for too much longer. Que sera sera.) 

Unsettled, the party headed back out to Ghoulardia Pass to finish exploring Cardille Keep. They ran into a wave of rats coming down the stairs as they were going up, which they dispatched handily. (Or footily, with their hulking homanculi heavies doin' the flat rat flamenco.)

Tune in Wednesday as the mayhem begins to escalate in that foreboding fortification. 'Til then, keep them toes a tappin'.

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 18

Attendants:
Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 4 Dampyr
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief/Werewolf
Ritzy – Lvl 5 Homanculus

Henching:
Richard Darkmagic – Lvl 5 Magic User
Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 3 Cleric
               Fritzy zombified rat creature minion

Casualties:
               Fritzy the zombified rat creature minion. Spine ripped out by Troglodite, partially eaten by Troll. Alas, Fritzy, we hardly knew ye.

Monsters mashed:
               12 Troglodites – Variously arrowed, crossbowed, stabbed, slashed, beheaded, and generally murderated. Several chased off as well.
               456 EXP

               1 Troll – Successfully bribed to sit out combat and gnaw on fallen combatants, and then further bribed to obtain Mountainroot morels.
               100 EXP

               TOTAL: 556/ 5 players = 111 EXP apiece

Lycanthropy cure ingredients acquired: Mountainroot Morels.
               All (herbal) ingredients are acquired.

Commentary:

This session found our horrid heroes in pitched combat with a stinking tribe of troglodites with their claw/claw/bites. Things might have gone very south for the group, especially when the trog alpha sent an emissary off with a throat sac full of gold to call on the mercenary assistance of the trio of trolls living deeper in the caves. 

Thankfully, Vlad somehow tweaked to what was going down and made a counter offer to the troll when it showed up, buying it off before it could pull any of his friends' arms out of their sockets. With their erstwhile ally happily munching on the wrecked corpse of Fritzy the musclebound rat zombie and watching the party slitting them up a treat, the trogs cut bait and retreated into the depths of their cave. 

With a bit more negotiation and some more gold crossing its warty, rubbery palm, the troll happily lumbered off into the fungus caverns and came back with the morels of the story. 


Their mission accomplished, our merry mob of morel midgets hied themselves back to Strangeldorf.

Stay tuned for morel next week. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 17

I’m amenable to playing this Friday to catch up on the session we missed on Monday.
Who farted?
Attendants: - Full House!
Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 4 Dampyr
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief/Werewolf
Richard Darkmagic – Lvl 5 Magic User
Ritzy – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 3 Cleric
               Fritzy zombified rat creature minion

Monsters Mashed:
7 Troglodites – 266 exp/6 Players = 44 EXP apiece


Commentary:

So having cleared out the cockatrice, the party delved deeper into the mountain cave. They pushed thru a chamber full of the stony death chicken's petrified victims, and ran smack dab into a large settlement of troglodytes. This whole session was pretty much just lumpin' on lizards.

The cave complex was based on one of Dyson Logo's wonderful maps, which was my go to source for on the fly dungeons for this wacky campaign. In this case, the map I used was The Reeking Hole. You can find it in his first Dyson's Delves compilation, which is where I found it.

In fact, since I'm feeling magnanimous today, here's the key I did up. I think this was one of my better extemporaneous dungeons, and it's a good random delve for a mid to low-mid level party, IMHO.

 I leave it as an exercise for the reader to match the numbers to the chambers, since I'm not sure if it's okay for me to post the map here. The trolls and toads were in the north passage, the trogs were to the south, and all the fungus amongus was in the central channel that went under the connecting cave between them.

01: Cockatrice: HD: 5, HP: 27, AC: 6, ATK: Beak 1d6, Petrify (Save vs. petrify), Sv: F5, Ml: 7, Mv: 90(30)

02: Gallery of petrified victims. 1 dire wolf, 2 woodsmen, a grimling, a horse. All covered in slime molds and reeking of troglodites in 3.

03: Troglodite lair.
    32 Trogs, HD 2, HP: Alpha[14] Bodyguards[13,13] EggGuards[11, 11, 11,11,11]
    Warriors [12,5, 9, 10, 10] [12, 10, 6, 10, 7] Guards[12, 4, 7, 7, 4, 9, 5] Hunters[12,5, 4, 9, 9, 6, 8]
    AC: 5, Atk: Claw/Claw/Bite 1d4/1d4/1d4. Alpha: Axe 1d8, Bodyguards: Spears 1d6
    Save: F2, Morale 9, Mv 120’(40’), Surprise 1-4/d6, Stench Save vs Poison or -2 to atk.
Flat rock in alcove where alpha and bodyguards sit. Eggs kept in underground pool. Stinking carcass pit with giant puffballs occupies center of cave. Alpha has key to treasure room in throat sac.  Has defense pact w’ trolls in 13

04: 2 Crudely Carved Bas Reliefs of ancient kings, one set in gothic arch that is clearly a doorway. Leads to small hallway (5’x10’) with second, locked stone door. Inside is troglodite treasure in stone bowls,  total: 50 GP, 2000 SP, 200 PP. Many empty bowls. Lime encrusted skeleton w’ heavy crossbow (20 bolts) in sw corner. Murder Hole in mouth of other carving alcove in 3.

I envisioned the carvings all looking kinda like this.
05: Weak floor drops anyone who walks across it 20 ft down into 7. Floor looks cracked like dried mud. Leaves 10‘ pit

06: Walls glow with bluish light, puffballs around crude, stepped incline that goes down 20’. If puffballs burst by touch, will coat all in chamber and affect them as with faerie fire for 4d8 rounds)

07: Yellow Mold Patch: 2 HD, 11HP, Acid does 1d6 dmg to flesh, leather, or wood. Spore cloud on contact 3 in d6. Fills room. Save vs. poison or die in 6 rounds. Only fire affects, 1d4 per strike from torch. Secret passage around mold hidden by fungus membrane.

08: Fungus Garden: Plenty of mountain root morels, as well as a bizarre sampling of other fungi. 1 Shrieker wanders here, HD: 3, 17 HP, AC: 7, Sv:F1, Ml: 12, Mv: 9(3), If senses move in 30’ or light within 60’ will shriek for 1d3 rounds. 3 in d6 chance attract monsters from elsewhere in complex. 1-4 trogs, 5-7 giant toads, 8 troll.
    
09: Wraith: Half rotted corpse of thief in fetal position around small coffer. Will manifest if chest touched.
    HD: 4, HP: 19, AC: 3, Atk: Touch 1d6 + Lvl Drain, Save: F4, Mo: 12, Move: 120(40), Fly 240(80)
    Silver does 1/2 dmg. Incorporeal to normal weapons.
    Contents of coffer: 6 gems (25 gp, 100gp, 25 gp, 25 gp, 75 gp, 75 gp), 30 Platinum Pieces

10: 3 Crude statues of ancient kings carved from stalactites. in corners. Heads knocked off.     Stalactites thick, 1/2 mv in area

11: Giant Toads HD: 2+2, HP: 6, 11, 11, 11. Surprise on 1-3 on d6, AC: 7, Bite 1d4+1, Tongue: 15’ roll save vs. Paralysis or get disarmed/de-shielded. Save: F1, Ml: 6, Move: 90’(30’) Can speak, will give prophecy.

Giant Toad Prophecy Chart: Roll d20
    01 It is certain
    02 It is decidedly so
    03 Without a doubt
    04 Yes definitely
    05 You may rely on it
    06 As I see it, yes
    07 Most likely
    08 Outlook good
    09 Yes
    10 Signs point to yes
    11 Reply hazy try again
    12 Ask again later
    13 Better not tell you now
    14 Cannot predict now
    15 Concentrate and ask again
    16 Don't count on it
    17 My reply is no
    18 My sources say no
    19 Outlook not so good
    20 Very doubtful 


12: Tears of the Seeress fountain.

13: Troll Lair: 3 Trolls, HD: 6+3, HP: 37, 35, 25, AC: 4, Atk: Claw/Claw/Bite 1d6/1d6/1d10, Regenerate 3/rnd, Sv: F6 Ml: 10, MV’ 120(40)
Treasure: 3 gold crowns worth 1200, 1100, and 800 gp worn by the trolls (most valuable on the smallest) A golden statue of a chicken worth 700 gp, and 300 GP in an egg shaped stone chest.

And now a good chicken to counter the bad chicken.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 16

Bok bok bok. Now you're a rock.
Attendants:
Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 4 Dampyr
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief/Werewolf
Richard Darkmagic – Lvl 5 Magic User
Ritzy – Lvl 5 Homanculus

Henching:
Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 3 Cleric
               Fritzy and Doug 2 zombified rat creature minions

Casualties:
               Doug the rat creature zombie, petrified by a cockatrice

Monsters Mashed:
Lobovich the Vampire – Siphoned out of coffin in mist form with a bellows, dumped into portable coffin, and dragged outside to dissipate in the sunlight. Dead for good.
               315 EXP

6 Ghouls eluded
               141 EXP

1 Cockatrice-Kerploded using Magic Missiles
               350 EXP

Total:  806/ 5.5 characters = 147 Exp apiece

Werewolf cure ingredients acquired, courtesy of Bark Eatin’ Ted
Hermit’s Quill
Red Tail
Greenishgul

Now all you need to get is those mushrooms.

Commentary:

So the party's solution to their gaseous vampire problem was to go back into town and buy a bellows off of a blacksmith and a cheap pine box from the local Crypt & Barrel, head back to the dungeons of Cardille Keep, pump the misty mass of Lobovich out of his immovable stone sarcophagus and into said cheap pine box, and then drag his sorry undead ass out into the sun. Bada bing, bada boom, bada blah!

I think they sold the bellows back to the blacksmith at a discount, since after being used as a vampire siphon it kinda gave out the moans of the unquiet dead when squeezed and was maybe a little bit cursed. In retrospect that was a plot thread I could have had a little more fun with, but c'est la donjon. 

Since they'd held up their end of the bargain, Bark Eatin' Ted acquired the rest of the above ground available ingredients for Rael's werewolf cure. The only thing remaining on the list was the deep dwelling Mountainroot Morels. Ted magnanimously told them of a cave up the mountains where the fungus probably grew, wished them luck, and vanished into the underbrush. 

I don't totally recall the ghoul situation. I think it was just a random encounter that they avoided, and wisely so. The Greenishghul sprigs they were carrying might have attracted the creatures, maybe.  Frikkin' ghouls. 

They found their destination, and found a cockatrice was nesting in the mouth of the cave. One of Arongoth's shambling entourage of zombified rat creatures got turned into a knickknack, but the rest of the party avoided its fierce, chickeny gaze. A fusillade of magic missiles (probably overkilled enhanced by my use of the Big Red d30 rule) turned it into nasty mcnuggets and cleared their way to delve deeper into the cave. 

Stay tuned to see what they ran into down there...

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 15

Welcome back, Lobovich.
Attendants:
Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 4 Dampyr
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief/Werewolf

Henching:
Richard Darkmagic – Lvl 5 Magic User
Ritzy – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 3 Cleric
               Fritzy and Doug 2 zombified rat creature minions

Monsters Mashed:
4 Zombies – Arrow to the eyesocket, crossbowed, and cut with awesome sword of undead re-killing.
               116 EXP/ 4.5 players = 25 Exp apiece

Ol' Ted had a tendency to Wild Shape into a wolverine given half a chance.
 Werewolf cure ingredients acquired, courtesy of Bark Eatin’ Ted and his giant weasel Num Nums:
               Golden Ear Mushrooms
               Madman’s Rose
               Wolfsbane

Commentary:

This was the first session of 2014, and the party returned to find they had a bit of unfinished business. Lobovich, the vampire of Cardille Keep, was fixin' to regenerate and their crazy druid herb supplier was only willing to cough up half the promised werewolf cure ingredients for a half finished job, so back into the dungeons of the keep they went. There they found the zombies, who'd been milling around the same bank of cells where they'd found and rescued the curvaceous Stella, had been let loose as well. 

The shambling corpses were easily dispatched, but the biggest problem they faced was that Lobovich was stuck in mist form, having been thoroughly discombobulated by their last onslaught. So they couldn't do the usual staking and baking that was the traditional way to finish off a vampire. They also couldn't drag his coffin into the sunlight, because it was several tons of solid stone and attached to the dungeon floor. 

So they were presented with a bit of a tactical poser. Their only other option was submerging the vampire in running water, and that wasn't a workable option either. (Although Greed's player, who by then was becoming aware of a homanculus' inherent potential for body modification and customization, made the priceless suggestion that perhaps his character's bladder could be somehow rigged to simulate running water. Hmmm. Yeah, points for lateral thinking, but probably not totally feasible. At least in this context.)

Tune in next week to see the solution that our merry monster mashers came up with...

(To this day the modified bladder plan still cracks me up.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 14

Attendants:
Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 4 Dampyr
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 5 Cleric
               Fritzy and Doug 2 zombified rat creature minions
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief/Werewolf

Henching:
Richard Darkmagic – Lvl 5 Magic User
Ritzy – Lvl 5 Homanculus

Monsters Mashed:
Count Lobovich, vampire of Cardille Keep – Magic Sworded, Magic Arrowed, Magic Missiled to scorchmark inside coffin.
               7300 EXP

4 Doom Guards – Turned by Arongoth
               200 EXP

50 Rats – Put to sleep by Vlad and stomped by Greed.
               300 EXP

Total: 7800 EXP/5 players = 1560 EXP Apiece

Casualties:
               Arongoth is now lvl 3, thanks to level drain from the vampire.

Intangible awards:
               Good luck kiss from Stella, the captive gypsy maiden. Players may choose to reroll 3 future die rolls.

 Good wrap up for the year, folks. See you around the table in 2014.

Commentary:

So the party went in thru the catacombs to the deepest sub basement of Cardille Keep and hit Lobovich where he sleeps, in a dungeon tomb guarded by four Doom Guards, which are essentially skeletons encased in rusty plate mail packed with grave dirt.

Yeooh ee oh. YeOOOh Oh!

Here's some stats: HD: 2, AC 2, Damage 1d10, Save F1, Move: 60(20), Morale 12. Undead: Turn as zombies, immune to sleep and charm spells. Pretty much just basic corpse men with a hardened shell.

This session was a mixed bag for the party, as you can see. While they brought out the big guns and laid a serious whuppin' on Lobovich, and released a captive gypsy maiden who bestowed some good luck kisses on the lot of them, Arongoth suffered a loss of two whole levels to the vampire's draining touch. Our crafty cleric's efforts to regain his stolen vigor will set him on a very bizarre path indeed, as you shall see, dear reader. 

Also, while they put a pretty serious crimp in their fearsome foe's un-lifestyle, they weren't quite as thorough as they needed to be to put him out of commission for good. 

Stay tuned, folks...

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Go! Mighty Orbots!

Back in 1984 ABC's Saturday Morning lineup was graced with one of the best cartoons ever made. It only lasted for one season, before a baseless lawsuit from Tonka claiming infringement on their "Go Bots" line took it off the air.


 But while it was still on, back when I was a tender lad of 12 summers, I taped every single episode on our early model VHS recorder. (So early that its remote was attached to the unit via a wire.) I treasured that tape for years, until the inevitable breakdown of the magnetic media forced me to discard it. After that, I had to content myself with crappy bootlegs obtained at conventions, usually digitized from other fans' decaying VHS tapes.

Finally, Warner Bros. has put the entire series out as a Manufacture on Demand release. I've been waiting for this since they invented DVDs.

It's as gorgeous as I remember it, with top notch voice talent like Don Messick and Gary Owens, high quality character design and animation from assorted Tezuka productions alumni, and the jazziest soundtrack since Jonny Quest. If you remember this show, or don't but can appreciate vintage TV animation at its finest, then check it out. You can find it on Amazon or wherever fine DVD's are sold.

My joy circuits are overclocked!

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 13

Paintin’ the town in Strangeldorf.


Attendants:
Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 4 Dampyr
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 5 Cleric
               Fritzy and Doug 2 zombified rat creature minions
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief/Werewolf
Richard Darkmagic – Lvl 5 Magic User
Ritzy – Lvl 5 Homanculus

All items were liquidated for a fair price, and the characters each wound up with 437 gp apiece to spend in town. Purchases were made, scythes were sold for scrap. A tuxedo was commissioned for Ritzy for 25gp, to go with the fancy heavy flail bestowed by Greed.

I hereby declare that gussying up in a fine suit bestows a +2 bonus to charisma checks, until such time as you wear it adventuring out in the field (either wilderness or dungeon) at which time it gets too mussed to give you that high pro glow. Fancy clothes bestow a +1 per 10 bux spent.

Rael and Arongoth tied one on with the Carousing Rules, each spending 400 gp and each earning 400 exp apiece.

Arongoth wound up 30 gp in dutch to the nefarious Fingertakers (the local criminal element) which Vlad covered. Unfortunately, he failed his carousing check and was caught pissing on the animatronic figures of the giant cuckoo clock on the town hall, and wound up having to choose either getting fined for 100 gp or 2 days in the gibbet. He spent 2 days hanging over the town square with only whatever eggs or rotten vegetables were thrown his direction to eat.


Rael managed to hold her liquor admirably, although she was growling and barking a lot toward the end of the evening. She wound up 21 gp short, slit a purse for 7 of that (with her teeth, even), and took a loan out from Vlad for the remaining 14. So she’s a bit hung over but otherwise good to go (as opposed to hung over the town square like Arongoth)


Commentary:

Not much more to say about this session beyond what was said in the original email. Vlad and the Homanculi decided to keep a lower profile, being a bit more torch and pitchfork averse than the human and mostly human characters, in addition to Vlad being a big scaredy cat. Luckily for Rael and Arongoth, he wasn't afraid to spot them a loan to keep them from getting their fingers taken. At this point all the characters are gaining texture and are fun to run thru whatever wringers I can come up with. The fact that Rael was a champion bar-crawler and true to her profession picked pockets for booze money, not to mention the whole werewolf thing, made her a real star of the show. 

Having had their fun and fortified, our addled adventurers made ready to assault Cardille Keep and take down the vampire Lobovich. Stay tuned for shenanigans as we creep our way forward...

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Helgacon XI - Search for the Star Condor



So my final game, both on my GM docket and of the con itself, was a three layered space fantasy confection that was a sequel to a game I ran at Helgacon VI called Voyage of the Star Condor. (The inestimable Delta did a good write up of it back in the day.)

This game, like its predecessor, was a mashup of three different sources:

The classic 1983 Parker Brothers board game Shadowlord! provided the board and the character concepts, and inspired the setting. It's an exemplar of that early VHS era brand of Star Wars fueled high fantasy with lazer swords, robots, and spaceships.

The original Voyage of the Star Condor was inspired by Delta's "Outdoor Spoliation" games, when I had the idea of using the galaxy board from Shadowlord! as the outdoor to spoliate, as it were.

Star Frontiers: Knight Hawks provided the game mechanics for the epic space battles. Gotta credit Delta once again for hipping me to how good this system is for easy to run starship vs. starship action.

And finally, Labyrinth Lord was my usual engine of choice for guy vs. guy or guy vs. monster battles.

Now I shall elaborate on the game in the style that Delta uses on his site to analyze his games. (This is really turning into the Delta show. What can I say, the man's good at what he does and a lot of what he does inspires me.) 

Things that went right:

1: Time and pacing. The game was divided into 3 phases. It started with a boardgame-like Exploration Phase where the Shadowlord! board and a custom made deck of cards was used to perform the eponymous Search for the Star Condor. I was really happy with the results I got from thegamecrafter.com, which were fairly inexpensive for such professionally produced looking items. I highly recommend using these guys for any extras you might need for your games.

Artifact Deck on the left and Search Deck on the right.




I performed some playtests on this part to make sure it wouldn't eat up too much time, and even though I wound up having to improvise with only 5 players instead of the anticipated 4 teams of 2, it fit in the exact hour I'd budgeted. (My three playtests averaged out to about 26 minutes or so, from which I figured 1 hour accounting for players learning the rules and general dithering.)


The second two phases were a dungeon crawl phase in the derelict ship when it was discovered, and a final space battle phase as the Shadows entered the star system to destroy their nemesis once and for all. Both of those sections took about an hour and a half each, so we wrapped up right on time.

I actually built a 4 hour playlist on my iPod to help me track the time organically, and at the end only had to skip about 3-5 minutes of music to get to the final triumphant lead out song. In the end the Shadows were defeated and everybody was happy!

Front row L to R: The Agate, The Zephyr, The Star Condor, The Rill, The Ember
2: The exploration phase balanced nicely despite being short handed. I ran it with 3 teams of 2, letting the Earth Lord sit it out. (This was party because of all the factions, Green lacked an adjacent star gate to their HQ. So using just Air, Fire, and Water leveled the playing field.) I was tempted to just throw in one of my extra ships and let everybody just pilot a craft by themselves, but the game was calibrated such that what mix of the 3 classes composed each team (Starrior, Wayfarer, and Astromage) had an effect on how they progressed thru the exploration phase. The way the teams worked out, we had each of the three possible combinations of classes crewing each ship.

The sinister Shadow fleet.
3: The space battle phase went pretty well, despite a general unfamiliarity with the rules. We managed to have a pretty good session of Knight Hawks, even though I'm sure we were doing several things wrong.  (Here in particular is where I wished Delta, with his Knight Hawks expertise, was at the table. Move/fire order kinda confused us a lot. I think we got it to work well enough, all told.)

Since the good guys were playing with only 4 ships (and the Star Condor not being in prime condition), I only fielded 2 Shadow Corsairs and 3 Shadow Dreadnoughts, as well as the Invincible Darkness with its 6 hex Null Field that was impervious to missiles and lazers and would kill the power on any non-shadow ship that passed thru it. I think cutting down on enemy ships contributed nicely to keeping the pace up.

The good guys.
The bad guys.
The Invincible Darkness revealed!
The placement of the asteroid fields was random, but wound up favoring the heroes. They managed to engage the Shadow fleet and line up their shots with the Infinite Spectrum Cannon (The legendary, ship killing super weapon. Think the Wave Motion Gun.) on the Invincible Darkness.

The first shot negated its Null Field, and then they took out the exo-deus entitiy (giant space mummy) that was revealed after some harrying fire from the Elemental Alliance ships. (I got the idea for the I.D.'s final form from the antagonist? of this trippy animated music video from the electronica group Birdy Nam Nam.)


Not so Invincible now, are ya?
4: Each phase influenced the next. Which was part of the plan, but some of it was improvised too. In addition to finding the 3 waypoints that pointed to the location of the Star Condor, the Exploration phase was meant for the players to accumulate artifacts and allies for the ensuing Ship Crawl and Space Battle phases.

They gained two NPC allies, found a suit of prismatic powered armor, and found a scout ship which they cast adrift after harvesting its Cosmium fuel. They also found data files that gave them the exterior and interior blueprints of the Star Condor and two of the three access codes needed to get into airlocks and control stations onboard.

There were several sections of the Condor infested with hostile aliens and astro zombies that were all that remained of the original crew. They didn't manage to clear them all, but sealed them off enough so that they wouldn't be a danger during the space battle. The only drawback was that the infestations in the port star drive and missile turret meant that the ship was down two uses of their missiles and rockets, and they lost a point of maneuverability.

5: I definitely winnowed out the chaff with this go 'round. Everybody was playing just 1 character, and the whole ridiculous "Task Force" mechanic from Voyage of the Star Condor got removed. (Long story short, it was a kind of composite henchman system based on units of 10 low level troopers. Really filled the screen with background characters.)

It was definitely lot easier to just keep track of one guy per player, rather than the multiple characters I handed out in the last outing. They did wind up with some henchmen in the form of the allies they recruited and the character I played to fill out the 3rd team in the Exploration phase.

I think I could re-do the original Voyage of the Star Condor and have it be a lot tighter and more focused while still retaining what was good about it.

What could have been better:

1: Some of the ship interior exploration challenges were underdeveloped or half baked. There were a few rooms where I didn't have a solid sense of how to solve the various problems and what would the consequences be if they failed to do so. Just one of those feedback/visualization issues that arises in play sometimes when you don't have everything mapped out as well as you need it. There was a bit of hand waving and a bit of winging it. A lot of quasi-open doors/find traps type rolls that needed better articulation.

2: I got into a few tense moments with the players as their frustration at the vagueness of some of these scenarios caused them to try to take leaps that I thought were out of bounds in game play, like narratively teleporting their characters from one point of the derelict ship to another. Nothing too big, just the seams and strings showing in my crazily patched together space opera.

3: The Shadowlord! map is gorgeous but I think if I were to develop this setting and scenario further I'd definitely re-do the map to give it more breadth and depth. When the players figured out they could pull double cards on spaces with ruins on them, they kinda clustered in the center and stayed away from the edges. Not really a problem but a more interesting map is definitely in order.

So anyway, that was the second outing of the Star Condor. All told, I think it went really well.

And then all of a sudden Helgacon XI was over and everybody was rushing around grabbing their luggage and saying their goodbyes 'til next year and striding out the door. It all goes so fast.

Only 11 months 'til Helgacon XII. It's coming fast and not fast enough. A paradox!

Fly on to infinity, Star Condor! Fly ON!

Helgacon XI - The Resplendent Palace of the Sultan

The Sultan, The Sultana, and the Sultan's Bodyguard, the half-djinn Zephyra.
I've been running an Arabian Nights themed campaign called The Thousand Year Sandglass for several years now, such that they've become a regular feature at Helgacon since Helgacon III. This year I decided that it's time to put the Sandglass on the shelf for a while, so I figured I'd give it a proper finale.

Last year's game "The Black Heart of the Burning Lich" featured a siege of the party's base of operations, the grand capital city of Kalabad, by the eponymous Burning Lich, a fiery undead sorcerer king from ancient times that they'd unleashed from his captivity in a bronze sarcophagus held by an evil sha'ir two years prior in "The Tower of Amashazzar". Long story (and neglected blog posts of yesteryear) short, they took him down and saved the town.

So I figured it was time for a celebration.

Hence the setting, the opulent palace of the Sultan of Kalabad. I posted the game's title on Paul's Helgacon Game listing and a brief flowery description, then had to sit down and figure out what I could do with that. Had to cash that check that I wrote with my big mouth.

I started with an elaborate map of the palace. This was the highest seat of power in a wondrous, mythical middle eastern empire, so it had to be at once fancy and fantastical. Here is the main level. I used it as sort of a game board, with player minis noting where they would wind up each night. I had a random roll for where the Sultan and the Sultana might end up as well, which could double the rewards or penalties if the characters' antics took place while they were there.


If you want to see more, watch this space for when I eventually get a campaign book together and up on one of the .pdf/print on demand sites. (I'm putting a pin in that idea here so that I can generate the gumption to actually do it. I gotta do it now that I've said I would. That's how the cowboys do.)

Next, I decided that since the theme of the game was a grand party at the palace, that its focus would be on Carousing. Taking the example of Jeff Reints' mighty and mischievous Carousing Rules, I made up my own custom tables for both failures and successes.

As an example, here's the top level mishaps table, for when the players failed their poison saves to see if their characters could handle all the exotic liquors and other heady amusements they were plied with. Each entry here had a series of elaborate sub tables for dicing out how each mishap would go down.

The Resplendent Palace of the Sultan Carousing Mishaps (d20)

01) Make a fool of yourself with an egregious social gaffe.
02) Insult a member of one of the four Guard corps. 
03) Awaken in one of the Administrative Offices or Halls of Government.
04) Member of Court has fallen in love with you.
05) Suffer a gambling loss to Member of the Court.
06) Tell such an excellent story at the feast that you now must top it the next evening.
07) Insult a Member of the Court.
08) Discover that some Member of Court isn’t who they seem.
09) Awaken in one of the Gardens
10) Mess with something in the Chamber of Wonders and experience a magical transformation.
11) Overhear conspirators discussing an assassination of a Member of the Court.
12) Awaken in Sultan’s personal Yacht.
13) Insult a Disguised Genie
14) Inducted into Secret Society or Cult
15) Accidentally destroy some precious art object.
16) Awaken in one of the Baths, Oasis’, or Fountains.
17) Awaken in Private Chamber of Member of the Court
18) You fall in love with a Member of the Court
19) Become privy to affair between two Members of the Court.
20) Drunkenly release a tiger from the Garden of Exotic Beasts into the palace.


Now, I've noticed in the past when playing and/or running games with the Carousing Rules in play that players will sometimes have a tendency to turtle up and avoid rolling on them. The risks tend to scare the naturally cautious side folks have more than the potential rewards (and potential for hilarious roleplay opportunities) entice them.

To ameliorate this, I came up with a mechanic I called "The Sultan's Favor".

Oooh! Shiny!
I got a bag of plastic gemstones as tokens. Players started with three each, and could spend them to get out of trouble, or earn them when they did something impressive. At the end, they could cash them in for tangible rewards like commissions in the guard or fiefdoms or even wishes granted by the jinni negotiated by the royal family. The colors of the gems had significance, both in what might be demanded in certain situations and what rewards they could bring.

Of course, all of this is kinda high concept for a D&D game, so I hedged my bets and put several unknown dungeon levels under the palace, in case all the carousing shenanigans didn't gel as a worthwhile experience. I spent a lot of time spinning the wheels of doubt about this thing. I planted a lot of ins to the underpalace throughout the carousing section, and made a handout of a mysterious tablet that contained maps of the palace both above and below that I handed to the players almost immediately.



(Partly this was also to account for the complexity and non-angularity of the palace map itself. I figured it was better to just hand the map to the players than drive both myself and a mapper mad trying to accurately depict the interlocking mandala of the Sultan's palace on a sheet of graph paper.)

How it went down:

So seven worthies and saviors of Kalabad dressed in their finest finery and hied themselves to the palace. For three days and nights, they partook of the delights of the Sultan's hospitality. Spies, thieves, and assassination plots were uncovered. A tiger was released from the Garden of Exotic Beasts, but quickly pacified thanks to a Ring of Animal Control. A shark was evaded in the Garden of Luminous Coral. The Sultan's private yacht was sunk in its berth. (Those Imperial Marines really know how to party.) A wizard was cursed with inverted gravity, forcing him to walk on the ceilings and avoid areas of the palace that were open to the sky. The party discovered a secret door in the Grand Library that led down to a hidden underground cache of ancient and magical tomes, scrolls, and tablets.

From there they explored the upside down palace beneath the Sultan's premises. They fled from a swarm of undead, flesh eating beetles. They discovered a throne room guarded by an avatar of Sekmet, lion headed goddess of war. They discovered a roiling cistern supplying water to the palace above, fed by a spinning, careening Decanter of Endless Water set on "geyser". They climbed down the inverted towers hanging in a vast underground dome, the field of sand at its lowest peak littered with fallen architecture and toppled statues. All of these wonders they reported to the Sultan and his Vizier, and were well rewarded and regarded for their discoveries.

Analysis:

Bottom line, I think I had a lot of good stuff and fun ideas here, but it was all too much. If I don't watch myself, I have a tendency to overstuff a convention game, preparing a campaign's worth of material for a four hour session. I'd intended the carousing/consequences of said carousing segment to last for 7 nights, but we broke it off at 3 goes 'round the table by mutual agreement between the GM and players as it was all getting too complex for any of us to manage. (One of my players said they could almost see smoke coming out of my ears as I furiously tried to roll up and adjudicate each intricate situation.)

I think if I were to do this again, I'd cut out the results on the mishaps table that required a who/what/when/and where along with needing evidence to be gathered (For which I used a version of my Dodecahedrons of Detective Work.) and just have results be immediate, like the ones where a character is magically transformed or inducted into a secret society or something. Too many wheels within wheels within wheels here to work out for such a short term game.

I think I also made a mistake in making the carousing mandatory. It would have been better, as Miz. K suggested, that it be a discretionary/wagering mechanic with the Sultan's favor, closer to how the original rules were intended.

So anyway, it was fun enough, and I think despite the furious flailing about my players enjoyed themselves, but could have been better. I think the stuff I developed will fit nicely in a Thousand Year Sandglass book, so watch for that. I will make myself make it happen.

And thus, we bid farewell, for now, to the desert lands of Sanduk Ramul, the Empire of the East with its glittering capitol of Kalabad on the coast of the Crescent Sea.

Sim sim salabim!

The Sandglass shall return. So it shall be!