Sunday, May 31, 2009

Session 4: Analysis

Overall, a pretty good session. We had a totally new player at the table and I think she aquitted herself quite well.

The bit at the beginning about Redkettle selling his ankheg armor to Celenor the cleric is funny because they're both characters belonging to the same player. I made him work out the sale with some opposed Bluff and Sense Motive checks, and the smooth talking sorceror took his elven alt. character for every dime he had. I then had them roll Diplomacy vs. Sense Motive to see if any bad blood between them would arise, but sadly it didn't.

I noticed overall that the group was a bit timorous about exploring with all the dire warnings of doom and danger the rumor table has given them. I guess it makes sense for them, as 1st. level greenhorns, to be careful. I just wish they'd cowboy up so I can git to murderin' em. All these black dragons and liches don't work cheap, y'know.

I kid, of course. Or do I?

Session 4, May 30, 2009

So much commerce was being done in Poleton and Fort Standish. Gar Osgood the bard and Rudy Redkettle the halfling sorceror were haggling with Bindlesmith the leather worker about fashioning the plates from the ankheg's shell into armor, and had finally settled on a price. Finding himself short of funds, the halfling decided to take out a loan from the Commonwealth Prosperity Bank, and withdrew fifteen gold merits at ten percent interest. This he used to purchase a breastplate fashioned out of two of the chitinous plates of the ankheg, which he would later sell at considerable profit to an elven cleric of the Skull named Celenor.

From there the pair hied themselves to the Red Acorn, and fell into conversation with Kaylee Hawkins, the ranger, and a newcomer to the Fort in the person of a golden haired halfling druidess who had recently ridden into town on a hulking mastiff who gave her name as Marigold, but preferred to be called Goldy. They talked a while about the various rumors that were floating around the tap room, and once again the terrible Bark Eatin' Ted's name was spoken in hushed tones among the patrons.

The foursome decided to go on a short bounty hunting jaunt south of the Pilgrim's highway, although they were nervous about such an undertaking because all they had heard about the southern lands was tales of doom and terror. Then again, the same could be said for the northern woods, so the group braced up their courage, visited Captain Costigan to obtain a letter of marque, and set out. They had heard of a hunting trail leading into the misty hills between the Kalt and Saft rivers. By late morning, they had stepped off of the highway and onto the the overgrown path leading across the grasslands.

As they drew near the ford over the Kalt river, the group's ears pricked up at a wailing cry some hundred yards distant. An etherial female figure clad in white appeared seemingly out of nowhere, and lurched toward the group, her hands clasped over her face. At first, Osgood the bard called out to her, but recieved no answer. Others in the group saw something uncanny in the approaching creature, and decided to drop flat in the tall grass and let her past. As the apparition stumbled across the path, she let out another mournful, chilling howl. All of the adventurers, save Goldie, were stricken with an uncanny terror that sent them fleeing pell mell over the grasslands. Seeing no better option, the halfling female climbed onto her faithful dog Thistle and rode after her panicked companions. By the time she caught up with them, they had run half a mile, blinking in consternation at the unnatural fear that had posessed them. The lady in white was nowhere to be seen.

Taking this as a bad omen of the dangers to the south lands, the group decided they should probably head back to the Fort soon, but agreed to strike East for a few leagues toward the peat bogs, perhaps to chance across a lizard man or giant rat so that they could collect a bounty.

Presently, as the sun was beginning to turn the Western horizon a surly red, they chanced across a hollow in the grasslands with an ominous looking cave at one end. The ground was damp and muddy, and the grass was brown and stunted around the black maw in the earth. Kaylee the ranger searched around for tracks, and found the footprints of many animals, especially those of large rodents. One disturbing bit of evidence the young woodswoman found was the footprints of a black bear that seemed to have been dragged backwards in the direction of the cave. Perhaps against their better judgement, the group decided to investigate further. As they milled around the mouth of the cave, Goldy found a plank on the ground that had apparently once been a sign nailed to a nearby tree stump. None of the four were educated in letters, so they didn't know what the faded chalk writing on the plank said, but the crudely drawn skull and crossbones was clear enough. Redkettle decided to send his familiar, a toad that he kept in his pocket, into the cave to scout a bit. This he did, and got back the empathic impression that there were many bugs to eat on the cave floor, but they were a little off in taste. Kaylee climbed up on the hillock overshadowing the cave mouth to try to get a better look inside. She saw a litter of animal bones and debris in the dim light afforded by the setting sun. Finally, Goldy decided to use one of her druidic enchantments, causing a pebble plucked from the ground to glow with the light of a torch, which she threw into the black maw of the cave.

The sudden light startled a trio of giant rats that had been gnawing on bones in the cave, and they bolted for the opening. In her rush to drop down and intercept them, Kaylee slipped on the slick grass and tumbled down the hillside and into the cave, dropping her bow as she fell. She landed prone in front of the slavering monsters and was set upon by the gnashing, foam flecked jaws of the huge rodents, receiving some nasty bites from their jagged, chisel like teeth. At once Goldy and her dog sprang to her aid. The halfling druidess leapt into the cave and brought her club down on one of the beasts, caving in it's skull, as her mastiff pounced on a second, snapping the creatures neck and shaking it like a terrier would shake a normal sized rat. As Kaylee attempted to regain her feet, Osgood the bard fired his crossbow at the final beast, but only succeeded in adorning a nearby deer skull with an arrow shaft. Finally, Thistle the dog turned and bit into the neck of the final rat, ending it.

The group then picked themselves up and looked around in the steady light of the druidess' light spell as she used one of her healing spells to mend the bites Kaylee had taken. The bard and sorceror drew their knives and cut off the tails of the rats as proof for the bounty. They then looked around the chamber, aware of the palpable foul stench in the air, that seemed to be more than just from the carcass' and decaying vegetation that littered the muck slick floor. As they investigated the dead animals, they noted that some had been gnawed on, as made sense with dire rats about, but some had also been curiously worn away. Skin and flesh and meat and even bone just tapered off to nothing, with nary a sign of bite or claw, and also not the sign of natural decay. The group was unsettled by this, and was deciding to leave when a scrabbling of clawed feet and a chittering filled the tunnel, and they turned to see an undulating wave of matted pelts and red, beady eyes as a large pack of dire rats came bounding up out of the darkness toward them.

In an instant, Redkettle summoned his sorcerous power and hit the tide of dog sized rodents with a spell that sent forth a glittering, rainbow corona of coruscating light. The lead two dire rats fell dazed, but the other seven kept coming. Goldy and Thistle charged into the pack, laying about with club and fangs, but soon found themselved overwhelmed by the raveous, frenzied rodents. Kaylee drew her longsword and stepped forward to fight, as the bard struck up a song of courage that bolstered his friends fighting spirit, while plinking ineffective accompaniment on his crossbow. Redkettle stepped up and slit the throat of one of the dazed rats, so that it might not rise from it's stupor and attack. Meanwhile, the savagery of the rodents was beginning to overwhelm the halfling druidess and her hound. The pair withdrew, each nursing several painful bites, as the ranger and sorceror attempted to cover their withdrawl. Redkettle managed to fire another color spray, maintaining the concentration to cast in the face of the gnashing teeth of the rats, dropping three more of the brutes into a daze, but their savage packmates climbed over the inert bodies of their bretheren to bite at the interlopers. Goldy looked in to the cave and saw that Kaylee was weaving on her feet, about to fall to the rats, and rushes back in, bestowing another healing spell upon her ranger companion, as her dog, full of fury, again charged the huge rats, killing one with a bite to the throat. Redkettle backed toward the cave mouth, readying one more color spray, which sadly fizzled as he cast it, his mind distracted by the tumult around him. Meanwhile, the rats finally overwhelmed Thistle with their cruel bites, and the valiant dog fell to the ground, bleeding out.

The group hasn't long to mourn, however, as they saw something new and alarming snaking out of the dark depths of the cave from whence the mob of savage dire rats came. A thick tentacle, perhaps as thick around as a strong man's leg, with a flat, spade shaped pad at the end, reached into the light, and grasped one of the magically stunned rats with barbed suckers set along the bottom surface. The creature awoke and started sqealing and clawing, but was dragged into the darkness, it's cries cut off by the sound of something huge and unnatural devouring the rodent with messy gusto. The adventurers glanced at one another and came to an instant consensus that it was indeed time to leave. Kaylee limped for the exit, followed by Osgood, as Redkettle summoned one more blast of color, which felled all but one of the rats, which darted in and bit him savagely on the thigh. It was more than the halfling could take, and he fainted, falling face down in the muck and litter of the cave.

By this time, Kaylee had retrieved her bow, which she had dropped when she fell down into the cave. Thinking quickly, she fired an arrow at the remaining dire rat, dropping it. Osgood the bard rushed into the cave and grasped Redkettle by the ankle, hurriedly dragging him out effectively, if not gently nor with dignity. The group bound the stricken halfling's wounds and fled into the night, away from the horrible cave.

After a night of camping on the grassy plains, the halfling sorceror had recovered enough to awaken, and the group trudged back toward the Fort. Goldie was philosophical about the loss of her dog. Being a druid, she saw it as part of the natural order that animals die. Battered and filthy, the adventurers made for home.

As they made their way back the trail and onto the Pilgrim's highway, one final impediment awaited them as they made their way through the farmlands. Near a delapidated barn, the ragged band found themselves confronted by a trio of men wearing burlap sack masks over their heads, and levelling crossbows at them. The tallest of the bandits spoke.

"Ye look like ye've had some trouble. If ye don't want any more lay yer gold and yer weapons on the ground and be off with ye." The adventurers sighed and looked wearily at each other, preparing to teach these brigands a lessen, when suddenly Osgood the bard stepped forward, a look of exaggerated terror contorting his features.

"You fools! Don't you know there are savage ankhegs about? We barely got away from them just now! Flee! Flee for your lives!" Such was the bard's sincerity that the bandits took him at his word and fled in panic, fading into the thickets around the ruined barn. With a wink and a chuckle, the bard motioned his companions onward, and they made it the rest of the way to Fort Standish, mostly intact.

Their adventure netted them all of three gold merits for their troubles, as well as a terrible case of shivering fever that overtook all that had suffered bites from the giant rats' filthy jaws. That soon passed, however, and the group counted themselves wiser and more experienced for the journey.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


"It was horrible! They were everywhere! And unlike normal midgets who are usually bright, and clever, and fun to be around, these midget pirates, with their beady little eyes and sharp teeth, bore down on us like fierce sharks, in a feeding frenzy of blood!"

"Triumphantly they ran away... hey... heyyyyy!"

Quotes from "Captain Hampton and the Midget Pirates" by The Aquabats.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Session 3: Analysis

Okay, so a good crowd this week, four players, which is about the sweet spot. Although if the characters wanna tackle Eichenbaum they might wanna get a bigger group together.

I was *really* happy with the encounter with the gnoll females and younglings. It was tense but didn't end up just being another hack n' slash fest.

This session marked the first dungeon delve, which was a kick. Astute D&D scholars might recognise Eichenbaum as Quasqueton from Module B1, and they would be correct. This dungeon is my adaptation of Delta's adaptation of said module. I gotta say, though, that in the couple times I've run this module, I've always found the profusion of weird hallway configurations to be a real drag, a total pain to describe and map. The rooms are cool, but the pointless maze of spiraling hallways? My wandering monster rolls were coming up empty, so they were kind of boring. In future, I think I'll figure out ways to abbreviate this part of it. I think what I'll do is leave out the accurate description of the hallways unless there are decision points, like crossroads or doors. This will bear some thought.

Also, it's funny spotting trends between plays of a module. Both times I've run this dungeon, the players seem to gravitate toward the southwest quadrant, with the fungus room and the meeting room full of hobgoblins. Hilariously, both times I've run this module, the group has taken 20 banging away on the locked door, while the hobs get ready for company on the other side. I dunno what that means, but it's funny every time.

I had a pretty nifty idea of cutting out some cellophane circles to mark the extent of torchlight/nightvision on the map. That could come in handy.

Anyway, good game. I'm lookin' forward to more players getting up the gumption to take a crack at Eichenbaum.

P.S.: I know I'm tipping my hand a little by naming the module I sourced but A: I've made a lot of changes, so looking it up probably wouldn't do my players much good and B: If I do find out one of my players has snuck a peek at "In Search of the Unknown" I will END them, probably with an umber hulk.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Session 3: May 23, 2009

So Celenor, the elvish cleric, had made the acquaintance of the elf bowman Earilas, and both were discussing their recent forays into the Northern woods after marauding goblins. Celenor mentioned that his searches had led him to believe something could be found in the ruins of Eichenbaum, the old seat of power for the area's deposed Hauser overloards, now long since burned down in the center of a vast swath of wasteland known to the locals as the Desolation.

Concurrently, a young warrior of earnest disposition with a Hauser accent had come into the bar, and was discussing local history with Ned Mundersen, the tavern keeper. He was very interested in the bounty on ghouls offered by the fort, and let it be known that he was on a pilgrimage, and had sworn to destroy undead abominations wherever they might be found. By some quirk of fate, the two conversations converged on the subject of Eichenbaum manor, drawing the stranger to take an interest in the two elves. He introduced himself as Sir Heinrich, and was accepted by the two elves as a strong sword arm for their planned expediton to the ruins. Now all the group needed was a guide to get them through the wilderness. This they found in the person of a young woman named Kaylee, who though initially reticent approached the trio when they began asking about the tavern for anyone skilled in landcraft. With Celenor's giant raven Brighteye, that made them a party of five.

The group bought supplies and set out on the Pilgrim's Highway on a bright morning, and made good time, coming to rest in Millford and staying the night in The Owl. The next day they set out and ranged a few leagues farther on the road, hoping to cut north into the woods by midday.

On the way, they encountered a group of pilgrims, led by a priest of the Wheel and his acolyte. The travellers were returning to the Fort after getting as far as the pair of hills known as The Sisters and doubling back. They had planned to continue on the distant city of Middenheim, but as they ranged farther along the highway they found it had become wild and overgrown, and the land around more forbidding. They had seen signs of the fearful goblins, skulls on stakes and other dire totems, and had seen a mysterious ruin on the Slumbering Hill, known to locals as the Blind Watchers, a trio of towering humanoid statues with their eyes gouged out by some unknown agency. The pilgrims had decided to return whence they came before meeting some misadventure on the road. Sir Hienrich bid them be of good cheer, for he would do something about the dangers on the road, and would someday lead them to their goal.

After the adventurers parted company with the pilgrims they headed North into the oak forest. They were a scant two leagues in as the sun set, so the group made camp, much to the discomfort of Earilas and Sir Hienrich, who were not as accustomed to roughing it in the wilderness. In the depths of the night, as Celenor took his turn at watch, he heard the distant howling of worgs, their bass voices quite distinct from the high notes of normal wolves. He did not choose to awaken his companions, for they were quite distant, and were unaccompanied by the jabbering of goblins, whose voices don't carry as far. The night passed uneventfully and the group set out once more with the dawn.

The following day saw the party picking their way through the forest, climbing the hill toward the Desolation. As the sun went down, they estimated they were only an hour or two's travel from the wasteland. They decided to camp, so that when they reached the grey waste they would be fresh. They built no fire, not wanting to advertise their presence, so they slept in the deep dark of a new moon.

First watch fell to Earilas, and he sat caring for his bow as the others slumbered in a small clearing. The elf looked up sharply as a pair of gnoll younglings blundered into the perimeter of the camp. In a single smooth motion the elven warrior had an arrow knocked and pointed at the larger of the two as he called out an alarm to his sleeping allies. Elves do not sleep, but rather go into a trance like reverie, so Celenor was instantly at the ready, while Sir Heinrich awoke as soon as Earilas' voice sounded.
The young creatures began to tremble, clinging to one another in terror and emitting a high pitched whine. Almost as if by magic eight gnoll females materialized out of the darkened woods, growling and bristling, with a passel of curious younglings in tow. The pair of gnoll cubs darted behind the lead female, a large, raw boned creature brandishing an axe that had apparently once been broken and repaired with sinew cords. With their keen vision, the elves could see that these creatures were in a poor state, with clearly visible ribs and a look of desperation in their dark eyes.

Celenor stepped forward to try to diffuse the standoff, first addressing the gnolls in Common, then switching to Goblinish when they didn't respond. The elf cleric attempted to assure the females that they meant no harm, but found that the language of the goblins was uniquely unsuited to conveying peaceful intentions. The females stood their ground, forming a menacing phalanx against the interlopers in their woods who spoke the language of their persecutors, the goblins. Meanwhile, Sir Hienrich carefully reached over and nudged Kaylee awake, and the two humans crouched in the pitch blackness, ready to stand and fight if their elven companions needed their aid against this dimly seen threat. Finding words ineffective, Celenor switched to gestures, motioning for Earilas to lower his bow, as he drew a packet of rations from his kit and cautiously laid it down between the two groups. Earilas, ever perfunctory in his manner, barked in Goblinish for the gnolls to take it and leave. This got through, and the lead gnoll snatched up the packet and signaled her group to withdraw, warily backing into the woods from whence they came. As they faded into the deeper darkness, the sound of a chastising smack accompanied by a yelp from a youngling was heard, and the gnolls were gone.

The next day the group gathered themselves and set out again, breaking through the treeline into the grey expanse of the Desolation a couple of hours later. The ground crunched beneath their feet, covered in ashes and charcoal. The party tried various means of detection to puzzle out this new mystery. Celenor attempted a spell to detect magic, while Sir Hienrich used his innate ability to detect evil, and both Celenor and Kaylee used their landcraft. Whatever had burned this area was not natural fire. It had been a decade, and nothing but the barest hardscrabble weeds had grown back. The ashes ran deep, as if the very soil beneath the forest had been burnt as well. The haze of ash gave the land an eerie quality, and set the group on edge.

Sir Hienrich then noticed the blackened remains of a fence nearby, and the group decided to follow it. As they cast their gaze about, they noted some shadowy figures watching them from past the tree line about five furlongs' distance, making out a pair of gnolls who seemed to be observing them from a distance. Seeking to avoid another confrontation, especially since the gnolls weren't moving toward them, the group headed deeper into the Desolation.

Soon, as they crested the hill, the group spotted a wide stone platform a ways down the hill, that may have been the foundation of a large building. The pad was strewn with blackened wreckage and burnt timbers. The party made their way to it, and searched in the tangle of shattered beams until they discovered a doorway set in the hillside towards the back of the foundation, opening on a set of stairs that led down into the darkness. The group lit a lantern and headed down.

At the bottom, they found a stout door hanging loose on it's hinges. Stepping inside, they came to a long corridor flanked at intervals by alcoves, which they carefully searched in turn. In the second set of alcoves, one of the elves discovered a concealed door, which opened by means of a concealed button. This they left to investigate later as the continued down the hall. At the third set of alcoves, loud voices suddenly shouted out at them in Hausprecht.


As the raucous laughter of the phantom voices faded into eerie silence, the group steeled themselves, expecting something to respond to the noise, and continued on their way. They came to a crossroads, and there they found a scene of carnage, as five dead bodies laid where they fell. Three were apparently adventurers, much like themselves, two humans and a dwarf, struck down in battle by two creatures the war veterans among them instantly recognised as Totenkorps, the horrible animated corpses that the Hausers had used in great numbers during the last war. Sir Hienrich in particular was incensed to see these grisly creatures. As they searched the bodies, they found the Totentruppe crumbled like old cheese, and the young warrior stomped on the remains until they fell to dust. There was little else of value on the dead adventurers, save a warhammer clutched in the dwarf's hand that bore an inscription in dwarvish reading "To Clancy, Keep swingin', From: Yancy".

The party then decided to head back and check out the secret door, both not wanting any surprises to come from behind, and to distance themselves from the racket raised by the invisible voices. They headed down the tunnel they found there, and nearly got lost wandering the twisting maze of passages. They found one chamber at the end of a spiraling hallway where a stonemason had scrawled in chalk "Aubrecht Van Zelig is a mad ma..." next to a pool of long dried blood. They found a chamber full of tools hidden behind another secret door. Then they found the entry to a long gally style kitchen.

While poking about in this chamber they roused a colony of monstrous centipedes, each fully four feet long, which poured out of the chimney and attacked, biting with their vicious mandibles. Earilas slew two with arrows as the others drew their swords, but Celenor's raven, in the manner of all birds, made her own short work of the insects. Sir Hienrich had the worst of the encounter, a bite from one of the creatures leaving his limbs a bit numbed, but otherwise the group dispatched the creatures with alacrity. The other end of the kitchen had a door which brought them out next to the crossroads with the dead bodies again.

After finding the gally, the group began to wonder what the purpose of this underground complex was, and searched on, checking out corridors that they had passed.

Eventually, they came to a hall that was covered on all sides with a carpet of mottled mold. Treading carefully, they wrapped their faces in damp cloths and forged ahead, seeing a dim illumination ahead. They came into a large vaulted chamber full of all kinds of bizarre giant fungus, in all sorts of fantastical shapes and colors, none of them particularly pleasing to the eye. The glow was coming from certain specimens that were phosphorescent, and the air was filled with a musty cloud of spores. As the group explored the northern end of the chamber, they passed a pit full of purplish, knobby polyps that set up a hellish racket of keening as soon as the light from their lanterns hit them. Withdrawing hastily, they let the keening die down, and sent the elves, with their ability to see in darkness, to check out the end of the chamber. There, Earilas and Celenor found a huddled figure sitting with it's knees to it's chest under a large, mushroom like hat. On closer examination, they found that it was some sort of strange humanoid fungus, it's shoulders growing seamlessly into the broad, fleshy reddish blue cap. The thing was quite dead, with secondary growths bursting out from it's flabby, pockmarked skin. One of the elves brushed lightly against the edge of it's cap, and the whole thing crumbled into powder before their eyes, filling the air with a strange perfumed cloud of spores. The elves were both startled by a momentary vision, of a stone table engraved with interlocking spirals, at the center of a ring of gigantic mushrooms in the twilight beneath a canopy of towering oak trees. Earilas and Celenor blinked and shook their heads to clear it, bemused by the vision and wondering what it might mean. Meanwhile, their human companions had found a figurine on a dias at the other end of the room, a bronze casting of a winged fairie perched on a mushroom, inlaid with copper and silver. Thinking it might be of value, they cleaned the thick growth of fungus off and placed it in a sack. Puzzling at the purpose of this odd underground greenhouse, the group forged on.

Having explored all directions in this quadrant of the underground complex save one, the group followed a final corridor that ended in a doorway. Finding it locked, they set to trying to break it down. When it proved too sturdy against shouldering it down, they took a hammer and a piton and chiseled the lock open. Sadly, they had neglected to listen at the door before they undertook breaking it open. When Sir Hienrich threw the portal open, he was met by a hulking brute of a hobgoblin in blackened scale mail. It's leathery skin drew back in a fearsome, sharp toothed grin as it's hateful, red eyes leered through the eye slit of it's sallet. It grunted a welcome in broken Hausprecht and stabbed the young knight in the chest with his greatsword. Behind him, a dozen more of the creatures stirred, grinning expectantly and brandishing their gleaming swords. The startled adventurers began wildly firing arrows into the room as the brutes pressed in around their leader as it drew it's sword back to strike at Sir Hienrich again. Celenor cast a spell of Baneful effect, sending a ripple of unease through the hobgoblins as the rest of the party had the presence of mind to slam the stout door shut before the monsters could press their attack. Sir Hienrich hastily pulled some pitons from his belt pouch and nailed the door shut, and the party fled as the hobgoblins bellowed and hacked at the thick oaken timbers behind them. The adventurers fled from the underground warren of Eichenbaum, glad to be alive. They found an overgrown path at the downhill edge of the manor's foundation, which they made haste to follow.

The path eventually led them out of the woods and across the moors to the northeast expanse of the Pilgrim's Highway. As they made their way to the road, they spotted the strange ruins the pilgrims had spoken of, three massive statues of humanoid figures, seated on thrones on a wide platform set into the distant hillside, with their eyes rendered into crudely hewn caves in the stern, unpleasant faces by some unknown hand. Pondering this new mystery, as well as the mysteries they encountered in the catacombs of Eichenbaum, the group made camp, and then headed down the highway to Millford without further incident.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

OMG Ponies!

Just finished these guys. They were fiddly to paint but I'm glad to have 'em. It's always handy to know where the party's baggage train is when you need a marching order and you've got a bunch of velociraptors waiting behind your DM's screen.

Time to haul all this gold back to the Fort. Hope there aren't any bandits...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Here's where the Sand happens

The aforementioned Awesome Chamber of Gaming.
And here are my eager minions

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Session 2: Analysis

Well, it was kind of a small crowd tonight, with only two players, but it still worked pretty good. Both characters were kind of similar in style, a druid, and a cleric who's domains were animals, death, trickery, and chaos. Seemed like they'd be a good team, and they pretty much were. Since both could forage for food, they didn't have the supply issues the last party did, but they were a little overmatched, even with the benefit of their animal companions.

One thing I've discovered is worgs are freakin' badass. The goblin rider's almost like an afterthought. The worgs are definitely pulling the freight in this relationship...

Anyway, Serpentus managed to hit Lvl 2 this session, so golf claps for the druid.

The thing I'm happiest about with this session was a fair bit of adventure hooks got hung out there, so hopefully some players will follow up on those. The players have a lead on a potential dungeon to go explore, and have heard rumors of a potential antagonist. All good by my book.

Finally, again the sandbox is working. I had a small group this time, and we still managed to have a good adventure. This format is turning out to be pretty flexible. If I had a regular group, two players would mean however many other players' characters would be idle, which would usually mean a cancellation. So thumbs up about that.

That being said, I think I'm gonna relax signup restrictions so that more players might be encouraged to show up.

Session 2: May 16, 2009

So Osborn Serpentus the Druid was wiling away the hours (and his money) at the Red Acorn when an elvish priest of The Skull walked into the tavern followed by a raven about the size of a wolfhound. Ted Mundersen, the proprietor, started to feel under the bar for his weighted broomhandle when his taciturn brother Ned nudged him with his elbow and noted the rose shaped patch on his tunic that marked him as a veteran of the Commonwealth army, and thus a friend to those who made their home in Fort. The stranger stepped up to the bar as his huge avian companion hopped up on a nearby stool and sat scanning the darkened room with her glittering black eyes. The taverner smiled nervously and slid a drink to the elf.

"Whoosh, you didn't but give me but half a turn, sahr. I thought ye was Bark Eatin' Ted hisself, come to lay a curse on my poor tavern."

From there a conversation progressed that caused Serpentus to perk up his ears and listen, as Mundersen spun a dire tale of the mad druid who had haunted the Northern woods for as long as anyone could remember, fiercely defending his territory and causing all sorts of calamities to any who dared his domain.

When the taverner had his attention drawn to other customers, Serpentus approached the elf and introduced himself. The elf in turn gave his name as Celenor Wildblade, a devotee of the Church of the Skull. (The Skull was the totem of one of the old churches, one rather distrusted by more civilized folk, as they represented a dangerous element of the wild.)

The two fell to talking, and discovered that they had both recently gone to the Captain of the Road Watch and obtained a letter of marque that allowed them to hunt monsters for bounty. They decided to go on an excursion, as both were well versed in the ways of the wilderness, and could travel quickly and lightly. Their goal, to track down some of the goblins who had been plaguing the Eastern farmlands and bring back some bounties.

The following morning the two adventurers set out, accompanied by Wildblade's raven Brighteye and Serpentus' unnamed giant viper as companions. They fared down the Pilgrim's highway, stopping for the night in the stables of the inn at Millford. The following morning, they set out again, moving slowly and foraging as they went. By midday they cut North and headed into the great oak forests that give the Eichenlands their name. Upon entering the woods, Wildblade sent his huge raven to scout ahead of them, while they moved slowly among the great trees, searching the bushes and underbrush for food to sustain them in their travels.

By the time they were ready to make camp, they had enough roots, nuts, and berries to feed them for several days. Brighteye returned, bearing a blackened twig in her beak. The travellers surmised that the great black bird had been as far north as a wide swath of land that was known to locals as "The Desolation", which was visible from the highway as a wide grey patch of barren land on the hillside. As the light of the sun faded, Wildblade attempted to make conversation regarding their similar philosophies with the druid, but Serpentus' creed was a secretive one, and he was less than forthcoming, and the conversation soon lapsed to an uncomfortable silence.

When morning dawned the adventurers set about finding the spoor of the goblin raiders, which was easy for a skilled woodsman like Serpentus, both because of his high skill at tracking, and because the goblins were hardly covering their tracks with any care. They discovered the raiders were mounting excursions every few days, spending a few days out in the field before returning to wherever their central base was. They also determined that the goblins tended to move only at night. By Serpentus' estimation, aided by the elf's observations about the trail, the goblins were due to pass by them that night. They sent Brighteye down the trail, and presently the bird came back reporting "many enemies" in her limited vocabulary of elvish words. Thus they decided to lay in ambush and spring on them when they passed by.

As night fell, the pair of adventurers dug in between the exposed roots of a mighty oak tree, covering themselves partially with branches, while their animal companions hid nearby. A couple of hours after the sun set, a raucous tumult assailed their ears, the sound of squealing pigs, panicked chickens, and the harsh, grating laugher of goblins, accompanied by bellows like breathing and the cracking and snapping of twigs and underbrush. Then they saw them. Three huge wolves, black as charcoal and mangy, hung with the struggling plunder of some hapless farmstead. On their backs, a dark, wizened thing like a leathery mockery of a halfling, their bright fangs and the red points of their eyes visible in the blackness under wolfskin hoods, clinging like bats to the great beasts' withers.

Sadly for the ambushers, the great worg's eyes and ears were sharp, and they were spotted. The raiders crashed into the cleric and druid's hiding spot and the battle was joined. While the laughing, jabbering goblins stabbed at them with their spears, the worgs bit and tore with their fanged jaws, smashing Serpentus' frantically raised shield into kindling. Wildblade cast a spell of fear, causing the worg who was worrying him to bolt for the woods with it's black heart full of primal terror, while it's goblin rider cursed and swatted the beast with it's spear butt, all in vain. Brighteye dove like a hawk for one of the goblins assailing Serpentus, gashing the creature's face open with her razor sharp claws and causing it to wail in agony. The druid's viper struck at the other goblin, poisoning the wretch with it's venom, while it's master spun away from it's worg mount, slashing with his scimitar. The elf cleric then ducked behind a forked tree, desperately casting healing magic on his druidic companion before his wounds overcame him. It was none too soon as the remaining worgs wheeled on the two adventurers and attacked with their fearsome, gnashing jaws. Meanwhile, the stricken goblins both perished, one from the viper's poison and flyby attacks from the huge raven, and the other trying to flee while blinded, and falling off his feral mount and breaking scrawny neck. The worgs barely noticed the loss of their riders, as they pressed Serpentus and Wildblade, pulling the druid off of his feet while the cleric ducked behind the fork in the tree, taking advantage of the scant protection it provided him from the huge beast. Serpentus scored a hit on his attacker with his curved blade, while the raven worried the beasts back with flyby attacks. Eventually, the worg, now bleeding severely, decided to flee into the woods. This left a single ravenous beast for the four companions to turn their attention on, and they wore down it's resolve with claw and blade, finishing with aspell from the cleric that imbued his hand with the cold touch of death. It was not enough to slay the foul beast, but it sent it packing with it's tail between it's legs.

Well aware that they were in quite over their heads and thankful to be alive, Serpentus and Wildblade healed themselves with spells and magical berries, cut the left hands off of the dead goblins as proof for the bounties, and fled the trail posthaste, fearing an encounter with more raiders, especially with the one they had sent running with Wildblade's fear spell.

The pair used their woodcraft to travel at speed through the darkened woods, soon breaking out into open grassland on the way to the highway, and from there, to Millford.

With the highway and the low buildings of Millford in sight, the pair had one last terrifying encounter, as they spotted a trio of shadowy shapes moving through the grass roughly two hundred yards away. The pair of adventurers and their animal companions hunkered down, as the figures passed, so black that they seemed to eat the very night in the feeble light of the waning moon. As they moved, the tall grass was deathly still, as if the creatures weren't even there. The figures glanced in their direction, their eyes cold points of eerie light, but went on their way, to some unknown purpose. Shaking with relief, the pair hurried back to the villiage, glad of the warmth and light of the inn.

There, they spoke with a travelling priest of the Wheel, an affable fellow with grizzled grey hair by the name of Van Beck, about the apparitions they saw. Van Beck, a man well versed in the lore of the area, guessed that they might be wraiths, undead spirits of those who served the Eichenland's former masters, the Hauser nobles who dwelt in a great mansion known as Eichenbaum, where now the Desolation lies. The pair of adventurers made a note to travel someday to the Desolation, perhaps with greater numbers, to see what might be found there.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Session 1: Analysis

Okay, so I'm really happy with how this all went down for a maiden voyage.

First off, the loose, sign up to play structure of the player pool really paid off. I had three cancellations for Saturday's session, but still managed to have a full table, whereas in a normal group that many no-shows probably would mean flagging off for the whole session. What it means under this system is I'll probably have a good shot at a full table next week as the folks who couldn't make it cash in their rain checks.

I'm using a very altered system for 3rd. edition. Instead of choosing skills, the players are offered extra feats, and I composed a list of skill feats that give players packages of three skills at rank 4 apiece. (For example Athletic, which gives you Climb +4, Jump +4, and Swim +4). I've eliminated level limits for skills, and have changed skill progression such that instead of tracking skill points from level to level, instead characters get their level as a bonus to trained feats. This all is very experimental and there could be places where the system breaks as a result, but I did it to ease character creation, giving folks only ONE list to choose from rather than two with very different tracking systems. I also did it to give 1st. level guys a little boost, since the nature of the sandbox is such that EL's aren't bothered with, and the groups could easily get in well over their head.

This manifested in both the druid character's phenominal wilderness lore, and the horseman's amazing skill in the saddle. (We joked that he was capable of bestowing superpowers on any horse he rode.) I was cool with all this, and happy that it gave them chances to really shine even at 1st. level. One of the things I want out of this campaign is for different characters to get a reputation among their fellow adventurers as experts. "Sallum the horseman can work miracles from horseback!" "Serpentus the druid knows the North Woods like the back of his hand." That sort of stuff is grist for the mill, story wise.

I'm also VERY happy that I'm using the "Shields will be Shattered" house rule, which I've seen around the gaming blogs but can't rightly recall who to credit it to. The rule states that you can sacrifice a shield to avert an attack, destroying it in the process. It really saved Sallum from having to drink from the ankheg's acid firehose.

Another thing I'm pleased with is my awesome Customizable Game Screen from Pinnacle Entertainment (available here). I had my hexmap on my side of the screen and found I could mark it with wet erase marker. I tracked the party's progress thru the woods Indiana Jones on a Plane style. Sweet!

Finally, overall I'm really pleased with how the adventure went down. Both engagements of the night were random encounters, and the attack from the ankheg was completely unscripted, but managed to turn into a neat little mission on behalf of the village. The sandbox is working! Hooray!

Anyway, it was a good first session and I'm lookin' forward to next week.

Update: Figured out where the "Shields Will Be Shattered" rule came from. It was concieved by the Trollsmyth . So credit where credit is due. My various players who's character's have been spared everything from giant wolf bites to sprays of acid thank you.

Session 1: May 9th, 2009

So a group of stalwart adventurers found themselves in the Red Acorn Tavern, having recently arrived in the Eichenlands at the Commonwealth frontier citadel of Fort Standish. The usual patrons, a mix of travellers, merchants, pilgrims, and fortress soldiers, ate, drank, and gossiped about local events while Ted Mundersen, the loquacious landlord of "The Nut", held court with the silent accompaniment of his brother and cook Ned, whose eloquent facial expressions served as counterpoint and commentary on his brother's tall tales. While stories were bandied about of the dangers south of the Pilgrim's Highway, a newly arrived elvish bowman by the name of Earilas noticed a flyer posted on the wall of the tavern which read thusly:

"A Call for Fyghtyng Men, Yeomen, and the Stout of Heart. The Offyce of the Ryte Honorable Castellan has warranted Bountys for Monsters, payd upon presentation of Letter of Marque sygned by Captayn Clarence Costygan, Esq. and accompanyed by proof of death. Ynquyre at the West Tower. " Following this was a listing of various fell monsters and the value in gold merits that could be won for their demise.

Intrigued by an opportunity to fill his purse with coin, but knowing that such a dangerous undertaking would require companions, the elf set to asking about the tavern if anyone would be willing to join an adventuring party for the purpose of bounty hunting. Four others answered his call, a halfling sorceror named Dariadan Redkettle, a fighting horseman named Sallum, a bard named Osrogard Osgood, and a snake handling druid named Osborn Serpentus.

The newly formed party then went to see the Captain of the Road Wardens, Clarence Costigan, to obtain their letter of marque. They found him in his office, poring over maps and guard schedules. A sober, considerate man and seasoned campaigner, he looked them over, and agreed to write them their letter, which gave them leave to roam the lands bearing arms, hunting the like of goblins, ogres, gnolls, and worgs for set bounties, and absolved the Commonwealth and the Road Wardens of liability should the group suffer misadventure in the pursuit of their quarry. The letter was signed in Earilas' name, and the hunters set out to earn some coin, for scraping together the 10 gold merit fee for the document taxed the meager resources of the group.

Once the gold had been paid and the letter signed and sealed, Captain Costigan informed them that recently farmlands to the East had been suffering from raids by goblins mounted on great, ravenous worgs, and from scattered bands of gnolls, who at one time had free reign of the northern lands from their strongholds in a place known as the Bleak Valley, but who had recently been routed by an incursion of goblinoids. He said his patrols had often sighted the worg riders, and feared the creatures were scouting for an incursion into the lands around the Fort.

So without much further ado, the group set out into the farmlands surrounding the Fort, to see evidence of the goblin raids and for their tracker, Serpentus, to find a trail to follow. After asking around to the north of the Fort, they set out East, eventually stopping as the sun was going down at the steading of an old farmer named Shmansen, who agreed to put them up in his sod roofed barn for the night. The group stood watch, hoping that perhaps the goblins would show themselves, but all was quiet that night. The next morning Mrs. Shmansen served them a breakfast of eggs, salt pork, and brown bread, and the group conceived of a plan to lure some goblin raiders to them. They purchased a piglet from the farmer and a poke to carry it in, and set out on their way.

In a few hours they had passed from the rolling farmlands to unsettled plains, and from there, into the thick forests of oak and maple that this area was known for. Skilled as he was in landcraft, Serpentus the Druid had little problem finding spoor of the goblin raiders, paw prints the size of saucers from wolves the size of ponies, and the occasional long toed, narrow footprint that bespoke of goblins. They followed the trail deep into the forest, once chancing upon a broken spear, presumably snapped as it's owner batted at low hanging branches while moving at a gallop. The head was a broken sword point lashed to a blackened shaft with ill smelling gut cord, clearly of goblin manufacture.

As the light began to fade on their second day in the field, they settled in for the night, after Serpentus nosed out an area not trafficked by the raiders. They kept a low fire and set watches. On Sallum's watch, the forest echoed with throaty howls, much deeper and bestial than the clear calls of normal wolves, and accompanied by harsh jabbering cries and the banging of spears on shields. The squire awakened his comrades, and they sat up listening to the fearsome cacophany that filled the darkened forest, but no worg or goblin showed themselves that night.

When morning came, the group set out again, skirting the edge of the woods by about a league but moving along the faint trails the raiders ran on their forays into the human farmlands. The party was beginning to become concerned about food, because they had neglected to bring more than a couple of days rations with them for this trek. When the sun began to set, the group decided to put their plan into action, setting out a campfire with the pig roasting on a spit, and then concealed themselves at the edge of the fire's light, save for Serpentus, who stayed by the fire to tend it.

Soon the smell of roast pork indeed attracted attention, but not from the quarry the group was expecting. The sound of snapping twigs, jangling scale mail, and gutteral, growling speech signaled the coming of a band of gnolls, who made a bee line for the fire, their fangs dripping with drool and their glazed eyes alight with hunger. Sadly, none of the group were very adept at concealment, so both sides were well aware of each other, and the battle was joined.

Earilas pulled out a handful of elven arrows and jammed them into the ground before him for easy access, as Osgood the bard struck up a song of courage and readied his crossbow. The elf's first shot struck one of the leading gnolls right in the throat and the beast went down. Next, the halfling Redkettle sprung at the gnolls from their flank and cast a spell that lit the grey oak trunks with a shimmering, rainbow colored corona of light, which stunned the brute nearest to him while the others recoiled, shielding their eyes from the sudden brightness. Sallum leapt upon his trusty horse Bill's back and charged with his guisarme, striking a gnoll in the chest with considerable force and tossing the creature's lifeless body aside like a ragdoll as he swung the shaft of his polearm. Serpentus conjured a deadly viper and cast it at one of the beasts, which yelped in alarm as it suffered the serpent's sting. Finding numbers so diminished from such stiff resistance, the remaining gnolls turned to flee, but were finished off by a combination of arrow fire, a more guisarme work from Sallum, and another corona of shimmering color from the halfling, who proceeded to finish the stunned beasts off with his half spear.

The group dragged the bodies into the light of the campfire and examined them, cutting off the tails as proofs for the 7 Gold Merit bounty per gnoll. Each one also had a few gold Sonnemarks on their person, mostly crudely drilled through and worn as amulets and jewellry. These creatures looked as if they had been starving, probably having had a rough time at the hands of the goblin folk who had overrun their forests. They all bore ritual scars on their faces, the dark lines standing out in sharp relief to their mangy yellow pelts. Sallum claimed a coat of scale mail and one of their shields as an upgrade to his studded leather armor, although it took some cantrips from Redkettle to make it a bit more presentable. The deer hide smock was tanned proficiently enough, but the metal was just random bits of rusted iron and steel laced to the hide with sinew, while the shield was planks of wood lashed together with boiled hide, a crude design of a fanged mouth and glaring eyes painted on it in white clay and red ochre.

The party set out after dragging the bodies to look as if it was the gnoll's camp that had been raided, eating the roast pork for breakfast as they hurried south to leave the forest and get onto the Pilgrim's highway two leagues to the South. They resolved to bring more provisions for a longer trip next time, but for now they wanted merely to reach the villiage of Millford, where the highway and the winding Drachenstak River met, before sunset.

Travel on the highway was fairly rapid, and soon Millford was in sight. Tired and footsore but relieved, expecting to put in to the inn and sleep in a warm bed, the party was taken totally off guard as the overgrown cobblestones of the highway exploded beside them in an attack from a huge, burrowing armored insect with huge, acid dripping mandibles.

The creature lunged for Sallum's horse, and it was only his tremendous skill at the reins that saved him and his mount. The party drew their weapons to battle the monster as the horse wheeled away out of it's reach. The creature's antennae twitched, and it lunged again, this time clamping it's jaws around the Serpentus' midsection with a sickening crunch. The hapless druid fainted in agony and dropped to the ground in a heap as the beast released him and turned to make another go at the meal of horseflesh it had been seeking. Meanwhile, the elf and bard were peppering the creature with arrows, and Redkettle attempted to bedazzle the creature with his spray of colors, but to little avail. The insectoid menace reared back with a retching, gargling sound and unleashed a torrent of foamy yellow fluid that filled the air with a scent similar to rotting pumpkins. Sallum raised his shield just in time as the others dodged and ducked. The gnollish shield burst into smoke as the vile liquid began to dissolve the hide and oaken planks, shattering into a soupy ruin as the horseman hurriedly cast it aside. He struck back at the monster with his guisarme, causing it to squeal and clatter in the depths of it's throat as he struck it's pale, bloated underbelly, while several of Earilas' shafts struck true into the creature's hideous head. Leaking brown ichor, the beast withdrew into the hole it had made in the highway, leaving the party to race to the stricken' druid's side and administer bindings to his wounds before he succumbed to them. They carried him into Millford and sought out the villiage's inn. An oaken post out front carved in the shape of an owl proclaimed the establishment's name.

After negotiating a private room for the price of a gold Merit, as well as a silver Talent to rent a bucket to draw some water from the river for washing up, the party headed to the common room leaving Serpentus to sleep. There, Osgood the bard attempted to sing of the party's exploits with the burrowing monster, but only earned a copper Toil for his troubles, as the song wasn't completely finished. (Details like the monster escaping and the party's druid having his torso crushed sort of diminished the heroic tenor of the piece.) The group was looking to see if they could get a bounty for the creature, because it wasn't listed on the notice they saw back at the Red Acorn. It was suggested that they seek out Millford's Sheriff, Herbert Hellmund, who was the villiage's headman and who reported to the Castellan of Fort Standish.

The group found Hellmund on his front porch, smoking his pipe and whittling, and struck up a conversation. It turned out that the burrowing monster, which the Sheriff referred to as an Ankheg, had been terrorizing the local farmsteads for a week, preying on their sheep and pigs. The villiage had recently driven all of their livestock to the town of Poleton, some fourteen leagues to the West, to protect them from the monsters depredations. It became clear that the emptied hunting grounds around Millford had probably made Sallum's mount an irresistable target for the creature.
Sheriff Hellmund was impressed that they'd managed to wound it, and agreed that if they would undertake slaying the beast, he would write a letter to Captain Costigan warranting a bounty of thirty gold Merits.

Back at the inn, Serpentus awoke from his coma, and set about healing the damage to his body with his druidic powers. Within a day, the group was ready to set out in search of the ankheg.

The party made their way back to the hole in the cobblestones where the creature had attempted to waylay them, and stood studying the hole, which was big enough for a crouching man to pass through. They sent Bill, Sallum's horse, back to the villiage, and steeled themselves to go into the tunnel and try to corner the beast in it's lair. The druid made a strong case that they had gravely wounded the beast in their initial encounter, and that it was probably holing up and licking it's wounds. If they waited for it to heal, it would begin to move about a much broader territory, and would be that much more difficult to find.

So the party climbed down into the darkness, with Earilas' nightvision and a torch carried by Osgood to light the rough dug, winding tunnel. They crept deeper and deeper into the gloom, and soon a low, ominous clattering sounded in their ears, a sound of warning from the wounded monster. Preparing for battle, the group rushed down the tunnel, arriving in a circular chamber where the monster laid coiled upon itself in a puddle of it's dark fluids. Redkettle the halfling darted forward and cast a vial that burst into bright flames as the monster screeched and thrashed. Hearing the wretching sound that presaged it's spray of burning acid, the elf and bard leapt forward and finished the monster off with a volly of arrows as the subterranian chamber filled with acrid, stinging smoke. The group counted themselves lucky that they'd slain the beast before it could unleash it's spray in the enclosed space.

They secured stout ropes to it's hooked tail and dragged it's inert bulk out of it's hole and down the road into the village. There, the villagers, the the sheriff at their head, celebrated their heroes, rejoicing for the slaying of the monster that had been besetting their herds. The party drank well in The Owl, and stayed the night for free. The next day, Serpentus, Redkettle, and Sallum set about carving the dead ankheg up. The druid stated that the armored chitinous plates that covered the creatures back could be fashioned by a leatherworker into lightweight breast plates or small shields. This would allow the druid to wear a type of armor normally denied to one of his calling, so he resolved to save up to have the segments fashioned thusly. They bought a barrel of brine in Millford and shipped the plates back to Fort Standish on the next wagon of supplies, and headed back to the fortress bearing Sheriff Hellmund's letter.

The group of hunters was well pleased. They'd earned some needed coin, and had won the good graces of the villiage of Millford. They resolved to be better prepared for their next foray into the wilderness, which would come soon, since twelve Gold Merits apiece only goes so far in the frontier.

(DM's note. This narrative was culled from hasty notes and memories from last night's game. To my players, if any details have been misreported, I apologise.)

Some background for the Sandbox.

Okay, so here's where I explain how this all works.

I've been bouncing d20's for about twenty years now. A lot of that has been on the side of the screen where all the charts and tables are printed. I love playing too, but D/GMing and world building is a lot of fun for me.

The campaign I'm running is what has become known as a "Sandbox" campaign. (The inspiration for this comes from the West Marches campaign, but there's plenty other examples of this style of play knocking about the gaming blogosphere.) What that means, for those who don't know, is that instead of devising a story for the characters to follow, I am stocking a setting with a variety of perils and prizes and allowing the characters to explore as they wish.

Because of the flexibility of this milieu, I'm also experimenting with the logistics. Instead of the usual 4-6 players that most contemporary RPG's seem to support. (3rd Edition D&D, which is the system I'm running it in, seems to base all it's calculations on four players, for example.) I've recruited a wide pool of potential players from the extensive Boston gamer scene that I find myself fortunate to be a part of. Every Saturday night, I run a session, with a sign up sheet for 4-8 players from the pool. Right now I've got about 16 recruits, which is a pretty good number.

The one requirement of play is that the adventure must begin and end at the home base, so that a different mix of characters can form up at the next session. To enforce this, I've taken inspiration from Jeff Rients' "Triple Secret Random Dungeon Fate Chart of Very Probable Doom" and instituted what I call the Calamity Tables, wherein if you are in the field at the end of the session you must roll a check to get back home or you suffer a woeful calamity (The mildest of which is you stagger back into town with nothing but a single hit point, a case of amnesia, and a persistent facial tic.)

So anyway, that's the structure of this endeavor. As the weeks roll by I'll be figuring out what of this works and what doesn't.

Breaking ground

Welcome to the Sandbox. My name is BigFella, and I'm running a Sandbox Style Dungeons & Dragons campaign in my awesome chamber of gaming here in Boston, Massachusetts. I'm setting up this blog to record the progress of the campaign, cogitate and analyze how things go, and probably digress on occasion on various subjects when the mood strikes me. I'm primarily targeting this at the folks who are part of the campaign, but if other viewers wander in from around the web, please make yourselves at home and I hope you enjoy your visit.