Yes, now you too can own this handsome volume to terrify and tantalize your ghastly gaming group! Just in time for a little bit of Halloween havoc around your attic, basement, or crypt's gaming table. The spooky season is nearly upon us! Now is the time!
And while you're at it, check out my other literary offerings, always available in the sinister sidebar to your left.
As my regular revenant readers know, I've been spinning tales for the past several months about this spooky setting. Little did any-body suspect that all the while I've been working in my secret laboratory to stitch together this marvelous monstrosity for every-body to enjoy!
Halloween is only 54 days away, and if you and your group wanted to run something in an old school vein (both in terms of rules systems and/or horror theming), then consider folding this feature into your frightful festivities. Written for Labyrinth Lord, but easily adaptable to any rule set you prefer, this book features a sinister small scale sandbox setting containing 5 discreet adventure areas, three custom creepy classes, a mass of manglesome monsters, and more grave robbing than you can shake a shovel at. Bring some stakes, some wolfsbane, a mandrake root, and of course some candy!
Casualties: Vlad’s body is pretty crushed up right now, and has one broken, useless arm.
The group bedded down in the tunnel for the night, and found that Ritzy had vanished during his watch. Turned out he’d been waylaid by a bunch of throgrin, who are hideous monsters combining qualities of ghouls, hobgoblins, and trolls. They paralysed him and dragged him back to feed the blood drinking roots of their foul elderberry bushes.
The party tracked them down and did battle, with Vlad getting badly crumpled by the entangling, crushing vines of the evil plants. Once the monsters had been defeated and Ritzy brought around, they climbed up thru the canopy of woven branches covering the sunken chamber where the bushes were being grown, and snuck away, avoiding the lone hill giant who sat watching the top of the shaft next to the overturned hulk of the hunting lodge.
Marching back to Castle Von Himmel, they encountered Uncle Nukus stalking something large and horrible in the forest by the road, armed with a garden rake. The wily supercentinarian pounced on his prey but was knocked back, and an infuriated owlbear with a rake stuck in its forehead has charged onto the road into the party’s midst. Commentary: And that was all for the Creepy Crawl. A couple days after this session I got laid off, and this epic campaign passed into the realm of legend among my former co-workers at [Company Redacted]. If any of you guys are reading then here's to ya!
I guess it's kind of an anti-climax, but that's generally the way campaigns end in my experience. They get rolling, hit some high notes, and then life intervenes somehow and that's that. It was fun while it lasted, though.
Don't shriek 'cos it's over, howl 'cos it happened.
Despair not, my gentle readers. I've got something exciting to announce, so watch this space for more very soon. Let the rumor mongering commence.
A little bat told me, somethin's comin'... somethin'... creepy.
8 Bugbears - Whupped in the usual fashion.
800 EXP/ 5.5 players = 145 exp apiece
3 Trolls – Zapped and finished off with the acid sword.
1800 EXP/5.5 players = 327 exp apiece
Total: 472 EXP apiece
1 Frost Giant and his 4 Hill Giant buddies.
Events: Feeling beaten up with Cardille Keep merrily burning in the background, the party wandered over to the hunting lodge to maybe rest for the night.
Opening the door they narrowly avoided a spiked log trap and got to work beating up on the contingent of trolls and b-bears (yo) who made up the garrison. After murderating the monsters and chucking their bodies down the shaft in the pantry, they bedded down for the night.
During Tysis’ watch (I think) a huge knock came to the door, and found a fearsome frost giant, inquiring after Granny Maw. He was indifferent to the party’s answers, and strolled up to the keep and blew out the fire with a blast of arctic breath, then came back and asked his hill giant companions if any of them were hungry. When one answered yes the party fled for the shaft in the pantry while the giants each took a side and hoisted the hut off of its foundations. The group cowered in the catacomb hallway as the giants dropped boulders on the pile of bugbear and troll corpses then got bored and went away. Commentary: Again, a less terse email doesn't leave me too much to comment on. I always think a game hits a whole new level when you've got giants in the mix, as I consider them the apex of the humanoid goon hierarchy. (Kobolds being the short end of that particular stick.) Not that the group was really ready to take a frost giant on toe to toe.
I styled the big frosty goon as essentially an 18 foot tall Norwegian death metal guy. I would have been fun to have had more interactions, but in this case for the party discretion was probably the better part of valor. You roll with the chances you miss and tuck 'em into your deck for later. Anyway, stay tuned for next week, when I'll be bringing you a conclusion (not so much a finale) and an announcement.
Casualties: Vlad’s wings seared off by blowback from fireball in an enclosed space. The upper levels of Cardille Keep are now ablaze.
Granny Maw – Seriously wounded by Greed in prior fight, finished? by magic missile from roving Vlad
3100 exp/4.5players = 688 exp apiece
Today's conflagration is the result of a DM's best laid plans going awry behind the scenes without the players being any the wiser. See, the insane banshees they encountered, Fireballed, and then finished off in flames in this session were the ghosts of 10 ladies whose spirits had been imprisoned long ago by the vampire Lobovich.
In the original encounter, as written for the initial Creepy Crawl event, the players would enter the conservatory and find 10 skeletons in fancy dresses seated around a jewel encrusted balalaika. They hear ghostly whispers of "Free Us". My intent had been that they smash the balalaika, freeing the ghosts, who appear as wistful apparitions and bestow a Bless spell on the party. Of course I held those cards way too close to the vest, so to speak, so what actually happened was they ignored or just didn't hear the ghostly whisperings, took the balalaika (although I admit I was glad that they valued it for its aesthetics instead of just another hunk of gp./xp. to jot down on their record sheet), then came back and took the skeletons too. So you've got ten ghosts who've been robbed of their only way out of their imprisonment and stuck for good in a deserted tower, and then had their mortal remains animated without their consent and marched off as an undead hordelet.
Of course they'd be more than a little pissed off and crazy. So they became a pack of angry, screamin' banshees and then got blowed up by the same bunch of scoundrels who'd left them in the lurch in the first place. Well, not the most delicate of endings, but that's the way the balalaika breaks, I guess. Ah well. They shoulda listened to their mommas when they told 'em to stay away from bloodsucking noblemen in creepy keeps. Apparently somewhere in there the aforementioned scoundrels finished Granny Maw off too. Details are vague in this email. Even though there's a (?) in that last tally it wound up being more of a (.). The old gal was donesville, as far as this campaign was concerned. Not that Vlad was doing much better with his wings clipped. Stay tuned Friday for more stuff breaking.
1 Cyclops – Meatgrindered by the monster squad
2400 exp/5.5 players = 436 exp apiece
The cyclops’ huge black jewel eye. 1000 gp/5.5 players = 181 exp apiece
Total: 678 exp apiece
Commentary: This session started out with a jailbreak, as the party took down Granny Maw's bugbear flunky and the gnoll guard dogs and set the human captives, a bunch of hapless Strangeldorfers, free. Then they climbed back up the tower and took down the cyclops who'd been hired on to replace the hill giant they'd whacked a couple weeks ago. I kinda think he went down the same way his predecessor did, or maybe I had it such that his jewel eye absorbed Magic Missiles and they just ganked him in the old fashioned way, with a lot of chopping and stabbing. My description in this email went back to a more terse style, so I can't rightly recall. I cribbed the design of this session's monocular menace from one of the Thousand Year Sandglass adventures I ran at Helgacon 2013, The Valley of the Living Idols, which will be appearing in Book 2 of that series, when I get around to publishing it.
So keep an eye out for it. ;)
Stay tuned for Wednesday when things heat up at Cardille Keep.
8 Bugbears – Sliced, diced, backstabbed, and generally murderated.
800 EXP/5 Players = 160 apiece
1 Troll – Magic missiled and coup de graced by Tysus’ acid sweating sword.
600 EXP/5 Players = 120 apiece
1 Giant Tarantella – Whacked like a gruesome, hairy piñata.
135 EXP/5 player = 27 apiece
TOTAL EXP: 307 apiece.
Granny’s giant cleaver.
Ritzy and Greed squared off with the fearsome Granny Maw, finding her the toughest of tough old broads as she effortlessly parried their attacks with her giant cleaver.
Eventually, she decided the cleaver was slowing her up, so she cast it aside and transformed into the grisliest, biggest monster wolf creature and started attacking with her slavering bite and iron like claws. Greed landed a hit with the big red d30 and did 31 pts of damage, causing the monstrous hag to reconsider her options.
“Gotta go, kids on the stove.” she demurred, and vanished in a puff of blue flames.
“Smell ya later, chumpenstiens.”
Meanwhile, the rest of the party, forced downstairs by Granny’s antipathy spell, were met by a squad of bugbears led by a wild eyed troll hopped up on fungus. The magic users blasted it and then Srehn proceeded to do her Xena, Warrior Princess thing on the rest. Tarvinir managed to disarm one by accident, but was protected by his Mirror Images.
The homanculi came barreling down the stairs to join the fight, prompting a cry of “Oh no! Dey got monstas!” from the bugbears, who turned tail and fled at ½ their original strength.
Srehn pursued with the rest of the party in tow, and was jumped by the giant guard spider watching the wine cellar downstairs. After shrugging off the horrible (and potentially hilarious) effects of the creature's bite, she killed it with extreme prejudice and the party finished off all but one of the bugbears.
They pressed the brute for info but didn’t get much beyond knowing there were a couple of nasty giants in the complex as well as an awful thing known as “Bitty Bitey”. Srehn shanked him, then drank a draught from one of the elderberry wine bottles laid in in the cellar, and is now a bit tipsy (instant fail on surprise and last on init for 4 turns)
High on life, and booze, the party charged down the next set of stairs, and found some human prisoners in the cells in the bottom level, plus a bugbear jailer with a mancatcher and a bunch of gnolls chained up to a stake driven into the stone coffin. And that’s where we left off. Commentary:
Another more in depth recount once again doesn't leave me with too much to comment on.
Granny Maw started out as one of the lurking villains in the original sandbox campaign I started this whole blog over back in 2009. She was a critter I first encountered in the 3rd. Edition called a barghest, essentially a fiendish goblin/werewolf thingy, although I guess they go back to the original Monster Manual II, which is a book I never owned in the olden days of AD&D.
She was the leader of that campaign's goblinoid presence, surrounded then, as here, with a brute force of bugbears who she treated like her grandkids. Bitty Bitey (a.k.a. "Pookie") was another, younger barghest who played the role of the spoiled baby of the "family" and ran with a pack of goblin wolf riders. The only other bit worth mentioning is that I greatly regretted that Srehn made her save against the spider's bite, as it was a Tarantella, and the resulting dance party would have been epic. Tune in next week for more sturm and drang.