Friday, August 27, 2010

LL at Paul's: Face Off & I'm in JAIL!

Okay, sorry for the delay in the relay. I guess I oughta talk about the Labyrinth Lord game as that's what passes for content 'round these parts. This is a double feature, since I skipped a week.

So anyhow, last we left our heroes they were standing in a hall of statuary in the foyer of Stonehell, in search of our errant mage buddies Koode Dood and Talen Zinn.

Meanwhile, an wandering ranger on an important mission was climbing the foothills of Mount Zerbil, looking for the group who traveled with the Paladin Yøgund Frudje, bearing an important message. He encountered two men, a couple of dogs, and several horses camped out in a small copse of trees, who owned to being the hirelings of the very group he was looking for, so they sent him up toward the cave where their employers were spelunking, with vague and incomplete directions as to where they were and what they were doing down there.

As the rest of the group sat in silence, this new ranger's player led him thru the labyrinth, biting our tongues when it looked like he was gonna take a wrong turn and get lost. Well, anyway, he found us, and so we were introduced to Jantz the Ranger. (Sorry if this is misspelled).

Seems Jantz had waylaid a hobgoblin message runner and had gotten hold of a letter between hob commanders. He'd gotten it translated in Restinford by Felwyn, the elven wife of Almox the Druid, and had found out that the hobgoblins were massing and getting ready to invade the sleepy little fishing villiage to secure a naval beachhead. (Which, of course, we'd heard about while exploring the ruins of Koral Gesh, but had forgotten to bring up last time we were in town. Multiple choice exclamation: A) Whoops B) Doh! C) Dammit!) So, Jantz was sent by Felwyn to find us and get us to go get help before the hammer fell on Restenford.

Of course, in light of this we had to evaluate our options. We were still looking for Koode and Talin, and we'd just gotten to the last room of the map that we'd already explored, but of course the razing of an entire town, with the bars we frequent and everything, was a matter of concern.

So it was decided to check a couple of connected hallways, then git on down to the horses and ride hard for Bridgefair.

So our first avenue to explore is a set of stairs going down to the west. At the bottom of the staircase, we found a room full of scribbled drawings of stick figures.

Strange and creepy.

It had a couple of exits, to east and west. So we took the east corridor. About halfway along, we found a skeleton huddled against a wall with the words "Mother never loved me." scrawled in a reddish brown substance above it.

Stranger and creepier.

Anyway, while we were pondering the strangeness and creepiness of it all, Klint, our senior thief, heard a voice calling his name. A familiar voice. The voice of Koode.

Puzzled and creeped out, we crept down the hall, listening at each junction.

Klint kept hearing Koode's voice, so we followed, until we ended up at a set of double doors between branches of a fork in the hallway. A dessicated, decaying corpse in wizardly robes slouched against the doors. Klint was 90% certain he saw Koode peeping out through the doors as our lantern light illuminated the doorway.

We walked up, and checked out the corpse. We weren't sure if it was one of our lost mages, but signs pointed to it. He had his spellbook on him, and familiar equipment, but his face was too far gone for a positive ID. The Deacon examined him and found he had a lot of bites on him that could have been something like raccoons, or badgers.

So we steeled ourselves and entered the doorway. Beyond we found a large hall, something like a throne room or temple. In the far end, standing, or rather floating, in the midst of a ring of sinisterly glowing mushrooms, was the smiling figure of Koode, our lost mage companion.

Well, everything about this situation pretty much set off the Deacon's "Somethin' ain't right." alarms. I cast a Protection from Evil on myself, and then tossed a Bless spell on the ring of 'shrooms. This cause a bunch of evil little fairy imp guys with bat wings and curly toed shoes (shudder) to materialize, shrieking and chittering and rearing back against the back wall of the mushrooms. The floating figure in the center started casting a spell.

So we charged up, with the Deacon shouting to the team to NOT BREAK THROUGH THE MUSHROOM RING. Seriously! Bad things will happen to you. We ended up busting down a couple of shrooms, and that's where the fliedergnomes worried our left flank. The Deacon started whaling on the lead one with the Mojo Stick, which was effective and pissed the little bastard off. He tried a spell on the cleric, but the Protection from Evil paid off and he didn't posess, frighten, or whatever he was planning on doing. After a few whacks with the stick, Koode's visage slid off in a very unpleasant fashion and showed that it was just a big version of one of the gnob goblins we were fighting. (I'll admit, though, wearing an actual face as a disguise is pretty hard core.)

Eventually, with enough whacks with the mojo stick and sword strikes and stabs with Froggy's spear, we took the little creeps down enough to where the remainder vanished into thin air, whining "You don't fight fair!"

And thus, we'd figured out the eventual fate of Koode Dood and Talin Zin. Lured by curly toe shoe wearing gristle imps and getting his face severed, whilst Talin was bitten to death by the creatures badgery little jaws.

So, with heavy hearts, we carefully fished Koode's face out of the mushroom ring and slipped it into a bag, which it was the Deacon's unpleasant duty to transport until we could furnish it a proper burial. (What can I say, that's part of a cleric's job.) We also decided to haul the other corpse out for the same purpose, with the Deacon and I think Kashim carrying him.

We wended our way to the ladder down to the complex leading from the orc bandit's cave, and lowered Talin Zin's corpse down in advance of us climbing down. Well, I can say that if nothing the dungeon can give you a unique range of experiences, and I don't think any other livelihood prepares you for lowering a corpse down a shaft on a rope and having the rope suddenly go taut!

We put our back into pulling it back up, and lo and behold we'd hooked ourselves an ankheg, the big bug from a couple weeks ago that had chased us from the feast hall. Of course we cut bait as soon as the creature's ugly head popped up into our lantern radius (which might have been hasty. Heck, if we were beefy enough to haul a 20 ft long chitinous worm up 50', we could probably have just punched the critter out with our mighty fists. But I digress...) We dropped the critter back down the hole, then emptied a cask of oil down there and dropped a torch, and sat at the top of the shaft waiting for the flames to die down. The Deacon said a couple words and played a hymn on his mandolin, figuring it passed for a Viking style funeral for Talen Zin.

Anyway, once that had cleared up we climbed down and got the hell out of Stonehell. For now, at least.

In short order, we made our way down the hill and set out. We decided the cart was gonna slow us up, so we gave Garant and Darius and the dogs (Yøgund and Liam) instructions to follow us along the road from Restenford to Bridgefair as fast as they could, while we rolled ahead at top speed.

And so we rode. Galumph galumph galumph.

On the third or so day out as we were camping for the night, we saw evidence in the distant mountains to the south? that there was an army's worth of campfires in evidence. Hopefully it was a human army, but we all figured it was probably hobs.

Round about second watch, Klint, with his keen eyes, spotted a bunch of humanoids sneaking up on our camp, so we roused everyone and set to arming up. Turned out it was a party of hobgoblins, who started peppering us with arrows. We charged the bastards, and started whackin' on 'em with extreme prejudice. I don't totally recall the details of the fight, short of the fact that it was a little close, but okay since I healed folks, and that the Deacon's prized mojo stick finally ran out of mojo juice, and became a normal staff with a mummified squirrel strapped to it. Dang.

And that was about where we wrapped the week before last's session.

So this week, we horsed up and kept rolling for Bridgefair.

About a day after we'd fought the hob scouting party, we ran into a big merchant's caravan heading toward Restenford. We stopped and conferred with the leader of their force of guards, and touched off a big argument between the merchants who wanted to press forward 'cos time is money, and those who wanted to double back 'cos it's hard to spend time OR money when your head's a centerpiece at a hobgoblin cocktail party.

We pretty much laid what we knew on the line, and told 'em they could do what they want with the info. They decided to send riders ahead to confirm, and then they'd decide whether to double back or roll forward.

We took one of the faction that believed us aside and asked if there was anybody in town who we could tell about this to make sure it got to the right ears. He recommended we call on a prominent member of the Merchant's Guild who had connections with the ruling elite of the city. We thanked him, and went our way.

Well, we finally made it back to Bridgefair, but things had changed a bit, not totally for the better. Prince Hank, one of the two contenders for the crown in our kingdom's little civil war, had sent his troops off but was occupying the city's keep, and had adorned the gates with the heads of several loyalists (or accused loyalist who were inconvenient) for his brother Prince Gway. Lovely...

Anyway, we got into town, dropped our horses off at the horse-o-mat, and then proceeded to our favorite bar in Bridgefair, the Rusty Bucket! Since it was late and we didn't wanna make any contacts until the next morning when we were fresh, we decided to settle in and get our drank on. And thus, we discovered the wonders of Jeff Rient's carousing rules!

The Deacon, being the cleric and designated driver for the party, simply had a good meal and rented a private room, and slipped the bartender a couple extra silvers to let him know if any of the party were getting into trouble. Of course, since he was a bartender, he could only keep an eye on the bar, so if the party stumbled out into the street for more drunken adventures, he couldn't help me.

Now, I'll admit with a little embarrassment that I sort of used an NPC of one of our absent players as a test monkey. I was running Kashim, and since it seemed logical for the character, I let our wandering desert warrior tie one on a little. For the price of 80 silver pieces (which in our house ruled money system is 80 gp), he got magnificently drunk, and wound up with a pink heart with the word "princess" tattooed somewhere. I figure that's worth the 80 exp he gained...

The other players didn't quite have that excuse for the tattoos they got. Klint got a tattoo of a python crushing a money bag. Gentleman Jack, who started buying everybody drinks as soon as he hit the bar, got an "I (heart) Gway" tattooed on his chest. This would become a plot point later on...

So the next morning, after a little bit of egg & tabasco sauce Cure Light Hangover for those who needed it, we all headed over to the Merchant's Guild while it was still light to talk to this important merchant. (Who's name escapes me and I didn't write it down. Lets call him Mr. Poshington.)

So we were escorted in to see Mr. Poshington, and he was indeed disturbed by the news. Bad for business, war. Anyway, he said he'd hook us up with a prominently placed paladin personage at supper this afternoon, and so we agreed and headed out into town to conduct other necessary business.

First stop was our buddies, the gnomish gem merchants, who all crowded up to their dutch door on their little footstools and haggled with us over our haul of settable gemstones. That netted us some dough, and Klint sold them the couple of jewels he found in the trash heap down in Koral Ghesh, as well as a jade statue of Kor. Jantz really wanted to be invited to the gnomes' place for dinner for some reason. (I guess he's kind of a Steve Irwin, Jane Goodall type ranger.) The gnomes were also willing to pay for info on thieves who had been robbing the local gem merchants of some of their best stock. We tucked that bit of info away and went on our way.

Next, we hit the Sage's place, to contract some identifications and get some info. We gave him Klint's jeweled sword, and the two rings we'd found in the palace of Koral Gesh after some haggling and trading of information and artifacts (i.e., random stuff we'd picked up down in that hellhole). The Deacon asked about recharging his Mojo Stick, and paid him a sum to do some research. So as not to dilute the drama of how we wrapped up, I'll say that the sword turned out to be +1/+3 vs. Undead. Groovy! The rings were a ring of Animal Command and a Ring of Danged if I Can Remember at this Point... I'm sure someone can help me out in comments. Finally, the Deacon found out that the Mojo Stick could be recharged by simple expedience of a mage casting Magic Missile on it, each missile equaling a charge. Aces! Gotta find somebody to help me reload my boom stick!

Anyway, with that completed, we got spiffed up and went to the Golden Goose to meet with Mr. Poshington and the Paladin Warden. We spoke for a time of the eminent threat, found out that the caravan had turned around after the scouts had returned from confirming our report, and then moved on to talking a bit of politics.

The war between Hank and Gway was taxing the kingdom's abilities to deal with threats like a hobgoblin horde, but maybe if the two brothers could be brought together against the common foe we could avoid calamity. The Warden was not happy with the harsh measures Prince Hank had imposed on the free city of Bridgefair, but was trying as best he could with his order to keep things on the straight and narrow. The problem was, the paladins couldn't contact Prince Gway to tell him about the hobs, not and still be welcome in Hank's court.

Now at this point, a UFO full of wacky touched down in the idea centers of some of the party's brains, and between Jantz and Gentleman Jack's players, they hit upon a brilliant scheme to infiltrate Prince Hank's dungeon, find some Gway supporters, find out where the fugitive Prince was hiding, and get out before being publicly hung and dismembered.

Long story short, we arranged to have the Warden arrest one of us. It turned out to be Gentleman Jack, with his handy, freshly healing "I (heart) Gway" tattoo. Throw him in the brig, and then he'd feign death and get tossed out into the corpse pit. (I'm not sure if we established there was such a thing, or whether dead bodies just got fed to a gelatinous cube in a box or something...) and we'd retrieve him.

As a way to demonstrate his bona fides, and to figure out the loyalty of whomever he made contact with, he would tell them, in confidence, that he had reliable information that Prince Hank was actually a hobgoblin in disguise, and the real Prince Hank had died very young.


Yes. I'm afraid my sarcasm sequencer broke down in the middle of this plan being hatched and I could only sit across the table and watch it unfold...

So Gentleman Jack got the spotlight for the rest of the session, trying to make inroads with the collection of thieves, murderers, perverts, and crazy people he found himself locked inside a medieval dungeon with.

In it's way, it is truly glorious. Paul's definitely jazzed to have the cart suddenly jump off the track and start bouncing down the mountainside so flamboyantly. I'll just have to see how it all turns out, my personal misgivings aside.

Maybe I'll be proven wrong and this is the best plan since the invention of the +3 bread slicer. Or maybe I'll be adding a few platinum pieces to the Fedyeka, Strang, and Gentleman Jack Getz memorial bar tab down at the Red Keg, if it's still standing at the end of this.

Anyway, that was that. Two good sessions. The second one was almost experience point free, save for Kashim learning to use better diction when drunkenly talking to a tattoo artist. (Again, a medieval tattoo artist. No autoclaves and electric guns here. Just a needle made by the local blacksmith, some ink, and the incessant tapping of a little hammer.) Still, even if no points were gained, this is about as gonzo a plan as I've ever seen in all my years of gaming.

So all I can say is thanks to Paul, and to the rest of the 10d gamers. Shine on you crazy diamonds!

P.S. This one goes out to Gentleman Jack Getz

Sunday, August 15, 2010

GEN CON 2010 - Labyrinth Lord game.

Okay, so I'm letting history pass me by and I probably ought to say a word about the awesome Labyrinth Lord session I was in on my Friday night at Gen Con 2010, thanks to my primo amigo Paul, who managed to score the tickets. As I said before, I mostly stumbled into official events for this outing.

He's got a pretty good rundown at his blog.

The game was run with aplomb by Kilted Yaksman, who also has a run down here.

I regret that I have no pictures of this event of my own, since my camera had run down on batteries and I had yet to pick fresh ones up at the CVS across the street from our hotel. So enjoy the shots of the action on Paul and Kilted YaksMan's blogs. There pretty much the same shots I would have taken...

So anyway, I chose to play the mighty fighter, Cormak the Veteran, who came equipped with a torch bearer named Burgard and a henchman armed with a crossbow named Ulmore. I apologise for any mis-rememberings or omissions in this account, but that's what you get when you've got my brain and it's making you type things a week later...

We made our way down into the Tomb of the Bandit Queen, having first stopped to loot a bunch of horses we found at the entryway.

At the bottom of the stairs, we found a large room with a big well in the center. A man was standing at the edge of our lantern light, facing away from us with his arm raised above his head. As we approached, we started getting lashed at by tentacles, and it turned out a carrion crawler was attacking us from above. The man was dead, his face kinda chewed off.

After a furious battle, we slew the critter. But the commotion had drawn the attention of a pack of giant rats, so we were soon engaged in battle once more.

Once we slew the rats, we discovered a secret door at the north wall of the chamber. As we started to follow it, a couple of bandits, probably the owners of the horses and friends of the guy the carrion crawler had munched, accosted us from behind with a the usual demand to stand and deliver.

Well, Cormack was a bit pissed off from the rat fight and was in no mood for any buttockry from a bunch of unwashed mooks, so he turned on 'em and threatened 'em with a most excellente and olde schoole beatdowne, and glory be but they failed their morale check and scampered away. It was a nice moment for me.

Following the hall, we came to a room with four statues on pedestals. Our dwarf took his sledge hammer and started bashing open the pedestals, and found some gold in the base of one. This, however, caused two of the statues to animate, and start smacking us around. We fought and defeated them, with the dwarf, I think, being the most effective. A: Because the player was rollin' aces on his dice, and B: dwarves don't take no back sass from masonry.

Anyway, also in this room were two portculli, which led to sub tombs. We pulled the portcullis' open and searched inside.

The one to the south contained two sarcophagi which each contained a zombie. After smacking 'em back down into a proper corpse position, we found a bit of gold, and a couple of potion flasks.

Encouraged, we searched the other tomb, and here we met a zombie and a frikkin' ghoul. This fight was a little more dodgy, with a couple of paralysis' and some close calls, but we beat him, and dug up a nice haul of coinage and a magic sword for our troubles.

Now here, if this had been a full on campaign with us all being 1st. Level, we'd all probably have cut bait, and taken off on our stolen horses. Of course, that wasn't the case, this was a con game, so we forged ahead.

We followed an exit to the east to a hall that led to a rickety rope bridge over a vast abyss. After some strategizing, we decided to send Paul's character, the elf magician, across, since he was light and had infravision. It was nice knowing him.

Turned out, the big crevasse was haunted by stirges, which aren't so much a town in South Dakota where the bikers gather once a year, but these kinda mosquito, bird, vampire bat thingies that clamp onto you and suck out your blood. Which is what they did to Paul's elf, with extreme prejudice, turning him into elf jerky before our eyes. At least they made him light enough to carry.

So, after firing a few arrows into the bloodthirsty little bastards, we managed to get across the bridge without it caving in on us.

We headed down the hall on the other side, and came to a weapons room, where I think we picked up some extra gear to aid in our quest, arming up our henchmen to ISO 9000 standards.

From there, we continued down the hall, and nearly got crushed by a giant rock on a chain that dropped from the ceiling Raiders of the Lost Ark style.

I think we got thru that largely uncrushed. We cut the chain holding the thing up and rolled it into the weapons room to clear the way in case we had to beat a hasty retreat.

Finally, we came to a huge chamber, where a whithered, horrible female creature in rotted robes sat on a throne behind a big pile o' bones. The Bandit Queen, whose tomb we were kind of robbing. Heh... Hi there...

She hissed the usual "who dares" etc. speech and ordered her minions to attack. The pile o' bones scrummed up into skeletons and charged us.

The party fell back to the door to give us a choke point to operate in so we didn't get surrounded. This mostly worked, but then zombies and skeletons started shambling down the hall behind us, so soon we were pinned in. Party members started to fall, to the claws of the dead and the ghoulish Bandit Queen's spells, we were getting whittled down.

So we came to a choice, with only the dwarf and my fighter, and I think maybe Paul's upgraded wannabe archer torch bearer still standing. Do we fight thru the couple zombies behind us and escape with less shares of the gold we'd found to split up, or go for the gusto and gank the ghoul gal?

The answer was obvious. We charged the Ghoul Queen. I'm told we got a couple really good whacks in on her, but sadly, we got chewed to kibble.

TPK! Glorious TPK! Total Party Kill! Whoo!

Which was awesome. That's old school how we do it on the short bus, baby!

So all told, a great time. As Paul noted, it took a little time to get used to a different play style than what we normally encounter, but that's the beauty of con's. It was a load of fun.

Big thanks to Kilted YaksMan for running, and to the rest of the players for making this a fun session. There was one guy at the table who I'm led to believe hadn't played an RPG since the Moldvay/Cook edition came out 20 some odd years ago. I hope he had fun. It's cool to have someone experiencing it for the first time, or coming back to it after being away from it for a long time.

All told, a great bunch of guys, a solid scenario, and a good game.


Gen CON 2010 - Science Patrol! Go! Analysis.

Okay, so anybody who knows me knows I love me some kaiju. And even more than kaiju, I love wacky, old school Japanese live action superhero shows, the Ur example of which, is the great grand pappy of 'em all Ultraman! So I created a Savage Worlds scenario loosely based on elements of the show. I ran it at the first Helgacon, and also ran a sort of campaign with the scenario a couple of years later, both with resounding kudos from the players.

My solution for how the Ultraman type character, Astro Man, could be played, was to have all the players run him as a team, each taking a turn with his normal punches, jumps, and kicks, or being able to sacrifice their turns strategically to have him do special Astro attacks. All told, it worked pretty well!

So I brought it with me this year to Gen Con. I hadn't had the time to preschedule it as an official event, but I'd heard before that Pinnacle Press, the publisher of Savage Worlds, had a sign up board at their booth in the dealer hall where pickup games could be advertised.

Well, they weren't doing that, but the fella at the booth said that they were running a big Savage Worlds blowout thing called Savage Saturday Night, and would love to have as many GM's as they could get.

So I turned up, and after some initial confusion I ended up with six players, five of whom were a gaming group from someplace in the upper midwest, I gathered. I was a little rusty with Savage Worlds, so I was glad to have the guy who GM'd regularly for them at my side for rules help.

Overall, it was a fine session. I got back in the swing easy enough, and Savage Worlds never disappoints in how much you can get done in a few hours time. Sometimes the players were a little passive and zoned out, but that's understandable at day three of a grueling con.

One of my players had been having a very difficult con, having hurt his leg before he came and having spent most of it in a wheelchair. I won't repeat the stories he told at the table, but suffice to say he ran into some major jerks who behaved in a very unkind fashion towards him.

(Pro tip to all you nerds out there. You don't get to play the "Poor us! Everybody shuns us and picks on us!" card if you're gonna be dickweeds. You act like the bozos this guy was describing, maybe you deserved to get pantsed and shoved into a locker a few times when you were in high school. Just sayin'...)

Anyway, I bring this up 'cos that player got to have the crowning moment of awesome in the game when Astro Man judo flipped the Mega Ominoid into a building. I'd like to think I brightened the con a bit for him.

So yeah, we ended on a high note, and the whole thing only was about two and a half hours, which was great 'cos I needed to get back to the hotel and A: Chill and B: Pack, so thumbs up.

A good time was had by all.


P.S.: To the fella sitting at my right at the table, the GM guy, who's name I don't recall. I haven't forgotten about sending you the Science Patrol! Go! materials, I just haven't dug them all up yet. I'll get 'em to ya sooner or later.

P.P.S.: And here's another Man... Or Astroman? video, just because when we sent the gold plated record album out on the Voyager, they're what outer space sent back!

GEN CON 2010 - Science Patrol! Go!

A mysterious island has appeared in Tokyo bay, and it falls to the Japanese branch of the International Science Patrol to find out where it comes from and why it is here!

The crew is composed of:

Commander "Cap" Muramatsu
The level headed, quiet, pipe
smoking leader of the team.

Lt. Commander Hayata
The square jawed, heroic
pilot and second in command

Field Agent Arashi
The lovable lug,
nearly indestructable
go getter tough guy.

Field Agent Ide
The nerdy tech guy
and genius inventor.
Bumbling but brilliant!

Field Agent Fuji
The fiesty, strong willed
action girl. Get your own
coffee, boys!

Special Agent Shiro
The plucky, twelve year old
mascot of the Science Patrol.
His father gave him the
mysterious Astro Capsule for
safe keeping, before disappearing.

The team circled their amazing futuristic plane, the Jet Voyager, over
the mysterious rocky island, wondering at the strange domes, one shining
silver and one red, that they saw there. Ide detected high amounts of the
unknown Omega X energy radiating from the island.

They landed on the rocky, volcanic beach, amazed by the deep sea fish that flopped on the shore, including a few trilobites.

As they made their way inland on a winding, asphalt paved path, they were attacked by strange creatures. They were shaped like men, with rubbery, black hides and sharp, metallic claws. Where a human would have a face and forehead, they had a single, huge, glowing red eye!

The Science Patrol defended themselves with their laser beam guns. (Except for young Shiro, who no matter how often he asked was told he was too young to be trusted with such a weapon. Instead, he used his slingshot and fired pachinko balls!)

Everytime one of the creatures was killed, the eye would rip loose from the huge socket, sprout spindly tendrils, and scuttle away into the rocks. The team started firing at the eyes, causing them to explode in red goop. Soon the strange creatures were defeated.

The team followed the path to the base of the silver dome, and found an archway guarded by two more of the creatures. With a clever, ambush attack, the monsters were destroyed.

Entering the archway, they followed a winding corridor and found themselves under the arch of the silver dome. At the center of a round catwalk, a huge spherical vessel full of billowing orange and brown mists. Something big was stirring inside. Something with a huge, red eye!

They followed another corridor, and found themselves in a control room, where a strange creature was speaking to a projected image on the screen. The creature was a beautiful, ivory skinned woman on one side, and black and rubbery with a huge red eye on the other. She wore a silver headdress with a pointed top and winglike projections, and carried a staff with a crystal on top.

The image on the screen was an old man half shrouded in shadow. Within the shadow, another glowing red eye. He turned when the Science Patrol entered, and laughed a chilling laugh. He introduced himself as Doctor Ominous, and predicted the conquest of this world called Earth by the Ominoids of Planet Jupiter.

Ah! The horror!

Outraged at the intrusion, the female creature ordered more red eyed minions to attack, and used her eye and crystal staff to take control of the heroic Arashi, causing him to punch Hayata with much regret. But her evil control didn't last, and the Science Patrol defeated the menace. The horrible eye popped out of her socket, crawled into her elaborate silver hat, and flew away on what turned out to be a tiny spaceship.

Doctor Ominous laughed, congratulating them on their victory, but said it was too late. The MEGA OMINOID would now destroy Tokyo. The team felt a tremor beneath their feet, and the silver dome opened on the skyline of the great city. The island had been moving the whole time!

They ran outside, and saw a horrible, towering, one eyed beast slouch toward the hapless city. Now it was time! Shiro drew forth the Astro Capsule, given to him by his long lost father, and said the words he had been told to say.


In a flash of light, all the members of the Science Patrol team found themselves merged with the consciousness of a super extradimensional immortal being, who came to fight for peace and mankind! Astro Man!

The monster lurched forward, and the fight was joined. The hearts and wills of the Science Patrol team combined to fire the terrific Astro Ray, burning into the rubbery black monster with the force of a thousand times the quasar power! The Mega Ominoid roared, and charged, and the two mighty foes did hand to hand battle.
As his time in our universe was short, Astro Man combined his force to fire another Astro Beam, ripping into the creature. It bellowed, and fired its own hellish red Ominoid Beam of concentrated Omega X energy!

Taking the matter in hand, Astro Man grasped the creature and threw it, smashing a nearby, evacuated building!

It's good! But what is this? The creature climbed to it's feet, ready for more mayhem.

Astro Man drew in his strength, calling on the spirits of the Science Patrol for one last, desperate Astro Beam!

Victory! The creature's huge eyeball exploded in a shower of sparks and it toppled to the ground, it's gargoyle jawed head awash in eerie flames.

His work done, Astro Man vanished into the distant Immortal Universe A, leaving the stunned members of the Science Patrol standing on the street near a grove of cherry trees, which showered them in blossoms as a breeze blew in from the ocean. The Science Patrol had won!

As they flew the awesome Jet Voyager back to base, Doctor Ominous appeared on their screens, bearing a dire message from space. The Science Patrol had done well, but now he would re-double his efforts. His chilling laugh rang in the cabin as his image faded to black.

But the Science Patrol was undaunted. Wherever evil alien invaders threatened the peaceful cities of mankind, the Science Patrol, and their amazing ally Astro Man, would be there!

Please look forward to it!

I decided this post really needs some appropriate closing credits music.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Numerical milestones and Practical Ghostbusting

Oh yeah, and by the way, I guess I passed 100 posts the other day with my Gen Con folderol. Huzzah for Moi.

Okay, this kind of number noticing is sort of useless, so how about a short list of possible alternatives to just counting up pluses that you can use the fight normal weapon immune monsters, like incorporeal undead and such, which is riffing off of some commentary I did on a neat post at Jeff Reint's blog today.

1: Cover your body in mystic runes like Hoichi the Earless from the classic Japanese ghost movie Kwaidan. Maybe this veers close to a low level cleric spell of some kind that would allow you to fight the unfightable, like a variant on Bless, for example, but I think it's cooler if it's just folklore that works, no mage or cleric needed, you just need to be in the know.
(You'll note our man Hoichi here has ears. Well... in this case the idea wasn't so much to make him able to fight ghosts so much as to be invisible to them, and the priest who wrote him up forgot his ears, so the ghosts took 'em. Attention to detail is important!)

2: Wear your clothes inside out. This or any sundry other inversions of the norm can have a powerful effect on things from or in the spirit world.

3: Attack them with stuff they have a bond to. Like swords they owned in life, childhood toys, pieces of their old house, nails from their coffin. Funerary relics and suchlike are probably a good tool for ghostbusting too. Smack 'em with a bouquet of lilies!

4: Purifying substances to prepare the battlefield. Sacred salt's another Japanese standby. Ashes from the undead critter's cremation. Paint or pigment of a certain color. There's a lot of stories from folklore about evil spirits being foiled by a handful of dried beans, or a broomstick laid across the doorway.

5: Maybe certain times of day the spirit world or negative plane or whatever is in just the right mode for you to lay a smackdown on its denizens. Or times of year. Or moon phases. This one's more about choosing when you go after them.

All told, the thing I'd stress is that these remedies should be permissible to even 1st. level shmoes without 2 copper pieces to rub together. Non-stabbable monsters should force your players to use their brains rather than just engage in a numeric arms race.

LL at Paul's: Men About Town

What's this? Didn't I get enough gaming at Gen Con? I'm still going to Paul's for a weekly Labyrinth Lord game? I should write about last night's session?

Can I keep just asking questions through this whole post?


Anyway, when we left our greatly eroded group last, we were back in the sleepy, slightly fishy town of Restenford, recuperating after having gone through a long, harrowing, 50% fatal quest to find our thief a hat.

So most of this session was running errands and gadding about town. We bought rations, traded horses, and sought out next of kin for our late henchman Fedyeka the Bastard. Being, as he was, a bastard, he didn't really have much in the way of kinfolk to pass on the meagre handful of electrum that he'd left behind.

So, the Deacon had the bright idea of going down to Falco's, where we tend to hire our hirelings, and established a Strang and Fedyeka memorial bar tab, instructing the bar's dwarven proprietor to give any down on his luck fighting man a drink on the house out of the sum we gave him. I guess I'll stop in periodically to top that one up. The Deacon ain't exactly material in his needs.

We did some hiring too, with Kashim standing up and giving a rousing speech, accompanied by much gladhanding and buying of drinks, about how it was a man's life in our adventuring party.

Well we got a few applicants, a grizzled old veteran, a young, eager type, and a slightly shady character who was a little too enthusiastic about his knives. We went with the old guy, mostly on the strength of his nickname, Frog. Yet another henchman I'd love to get to play if we someday lose the Deacon. I envision him talking kind of like Tom Waits... I made sure to find out about next of kin for this one, so if (note the optimistic if) Froggy goes a dyin' the Deacon can pass on whatever inheritance his nephew might be due. I'll gladly extend this service to PC's as well...

I also finally took delivery of a hand drill I'd ordered several sessions back, for drilling holes in doors, chests, etc. and peering through them without setting off traps and the like. Hopefully it'll pan out.

After our experience with the mule up on Koral Gesh, we decided our campsite should be more secure, so we bought a couple of guard dogs. (Named Liam and Yøgund, after our dearly departed comrades.) and hired a man at arms to handle them named Darius Dogwhisperer (I made that last part up. Paul's hireling name generator gave us something else but I don't remember it.)

Well, now we had dogs we needed some way to transport them, so we bought a cart and traded up our pony (Actually, Elef's "war pony". He sure as heck doesn't need it, now that he's a pigeon roost up in the mountains.) for a couple of draft horses. We retained Garant Greywand's services as a groom, so now we've got something of a little caravan. We filled the wagon up with a month's rations for both us and the critters, and made ready to set out to Stonehell on our expedition to discover what had happened to our original mage Koode and our then hireling mage Talen Zin.

Regarding that, the only other bit of business was for Klint to obtain some scrolls to scribe into his newly bought spellbook, as he had decided to multiclass as a mage. These he was getting from Philben, apprentice to Pelltar. Of course, Pelltar has been kind of tapping his foot and checking his watch about how long we've been putting off the search for Koode's remains, so it was a kind of awkward meeting for our veteran thief when he went to pick up the goods.

We decided the longer we waited around, the more likely we were gonna get turned into frogs or something. Especially when Kashim went around to Pelltar's tower looking to buy potions and got brusquely shown the door.

So off we went, back to the caves where we'd wiped out the orcish raiders so long ago and discovered the entryway to Stonehell.

The trip was largely uneventful, since we were now pretty much an armed caravan instead of a bunch of sword wielding hoboes. We followed the road from Restenford until we came to the point in the foothills that led to the cave. Then we parked our horses and support guys there and hiked the rest of the way up, which took us longer than expected since we were all still weighted down with lots of equipment.

When we found the cave mouth we camped the night, then went in in the morning. When we got down to the T junction where we'd fought the orcs initially, we heard a loud buzzing noise, and turned in horror to see a swarm of two foot long flies making their way up the tunnel at us with a meal on their minds.

Well, since our offensive line is kind of diminished right now without Yøgund, it was the Deacon and Kashim who stepped up to repel the monsters. The Deacon got a good whack or two in with the Mojo Stick, exploding the bugs in a very "Men In Black" fashion.

Kashim skewered one, but then got a couple of really NASTY bites from the bugs and was taken down to 0, forcing a roll on the critical table that left his elbow almost bitten through. He fell back and Amos, our one armed half elf henchman, healed him up so he wasn't in danger of dying on us.

We called Frog from the back ranks, where contractually he was going to stand for a half share, and sadly he didn't live up to his moniker when it came to killing flies. Didn't stop the gravelly bastard from re-negotiating his contract on the fly (Hurr hurr.) and bringing it up to a full share of loots.

Eventually, with much waving of swords and magically explosive sticks, we killed the nasty bugs and healed our wounded, then we set out again to retrace our steps back to the stone demon face we discovered was the access to Stonehell.

The initial path was fairly uneventful, but then we got to the feast hall that had been at the end of the wavy corridor where we'd laid a smackdown on the orce. Here, we found a messy nest of something big and carnivorous, judging by the smashed furniture and heaps of bones. As we pondered this, and the new, large hole in the northwest corner of the room, an ankheg burst out of the wall. Cripes!This is what that is, by the way for those who don't know.
A big, burrowing, chitinous bugworm that spits acid.

Since we'd already been gnawed on by giant bugs that day, we decided to beat a hasty retreat out the door leading to deeper in the complex. Klint's player had the AWESOME idea of tossing a ration at it to slow it down as we fled. (Good hustle! Good thinkin' on your feet!) and we fled. Kashim was the last man out, slamming the door behind him as the beast started bashing at the door, so we kept running, leaving a pool of flaming oil in our wake to discourage the thing from following us.

Eventually, we made it to the ladder up that led to the Shrine of Talen Zin, and we climbed it, glad to be away from the chittering monster.

Up top, we wound our way around, until we found the huge, sculpted face. Then up the nostril we went, seeking the hidden chamber with it's well (or privy, when Talen Zin was there. Hey, dungeon delving ain't always pretty.) that led down into the legendary lost prison complex of Stonehell.

We all climbed down in turn, with Klint coming last using his thief climb skills after untying the rope from the spike that we'd left last time we were here.

At the bottom, we found ourselves in a huge cavern full of giant mushrooms. We made our way out, following a map written on a flyleaf of a book we'd found down in this complex. (I think that's where we found it. The more memorable part of this book was being forced to strong arm Koode into letting us see it.

It led us through a succession of large caverns, the mushroom cavern, then a cavern full of giant cave crickets that started hopping at random and crashing into us and each other while making a whole huge racket. Then a cavern full of blue rock.

After this last one, the stone became worked rather than natural, and so we followed the map along the route that we'd gone on that fateful day we lost Koode and Talin (or more accurately, when they lost us).

It eventually led us to the short hallway where we'd found the glyph of teleportation, and that was just what we found. We started looking around for footprints and such.

While we did so, a rabble of orcs showed up and started threatening us, but we stepped up and threatened 'em right back, and that caused the little piggies to run wee wee wee all the way home. Punk asses.

Anyway, finding no clues, we started exploring further, on the assumption that Koode and Talin never touched the glyph and therefore set out on foot through the dungeon themselves. We found a room full of busted up statuary and searched it. It was mostly unremarkable, except when the Deacon checked out some of the larger chunks he found a hollow in one where a nice little sum of silver coins was stashed. We split it up, and I think it was about here we called it a night.

So yeah, a decent session. More logistics than looting, but that's cool. Hopefully with the cart we'll be able to haul stuff back in greater volume. (Note the optimism.) I'm looking forward to seeing what Yøgund's player rolls up, as he was absent this session. And now we're back in Stonehell, may the Allmaker help us. Hopefully we won't need too fine toothed a comb to find Koode's remains. (I've heard third hand from his player that he somehow got his face severed... Mmmm. That'll slow you up.)

Anyway, thanks again to Paul and the 10d gamers for ongoing fun.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How to have an excellent Gen Con without really trying.

Behold! Let's take a look at BigFella's trip to GenCon 2010, shall we?

Okay, so I suppose I should shake off the daze a little bit and start talkin' about the big trip.

This is a general overview of my experience. I'll get into the specifics of the few events I was in in due time.

I've been going to these things for several years now, with only a gap in attendance last year when the group I tend to go with kinda caught a case of the mehs about going to the con, myself included, round about the time when we should have been scheduling our flight and hotel, so we just let it slide and didn't go.

Actually, it did turn out for the best, 'cos I got laid off from my job in late July, and that would have given me two options if I'd scheduled the trip to Indy.

A: Don't go, and eat the cost of plane and hotel reservations or

B: Go, but do it on the cheap, which was also sub-optimal. Part of the charm in going is to spend like a drunken, nerdy sailor.

Of course, when August rolled around last year, we all pretty much looked at each other and said "Why the hell aren't we going to Gen Con?"

So, this year was something of a welcome return.

Dioramas and dragons!

Overall, it was a pretty mellow trip for me. I didn't end up scheduling a lot of events. In fact, I didn't really schedule ANY events, so much as sponge tickets off of my amigo and current GM Paul. Partly this was from the bad timing of GenCon's scheduling opening up at the same time as we were all down at Helgacon. I think both the extra tickets that Paul scored were serendipity. I had Reaper Speed Painting on Thursday and a Labyrinth Lord game hosted by KiltedYaksMan. Both were awesome.

I found out about the third official event I was fated to attend when I swung by Pinnacle Press' booth. In prior years, they'd had a notice board where one could post any pickup games of Savage Worlds and get some players.

Well, they weren't doing that this year, but there was apparently some kind of big extravaganza they were throwing called Savage Saturday Night, and they needed GM's to run. So I readied my wacky tribute to Japanese Sci-Fi, Science Patrol! Go!, and ran it for a full table.
More on this later. Please look forward to it!

So aside from those, all I did was pretty much wandered the dealer's hall or took in the sights and shenanigans of a vast horde of dedicated nerds. The crowds seemed just as thick, and as populated with the myriad varieties of those who are "of the tribe".

Try to understand! He's a magic man!

Excelsior! It is indeed a jolly good time to let one's freak flag fly!

Kitty guy is not impressed by your wizardry or Jedi skills.

Stormtroopers and Ghostbusters, pound for pound some of the highest levels of dignity you can achieve as a cosplayer.

As Paul noted on his blog, the hall did seem a bit more subdued than prior years. No big exhibit-paloozas, just stake out space with your product and sell it. Fantasy Flight seemed to be the 500 lb. gorilla out on the floor this year. I'd been sent on a mission by a co-worker to get their new Warhammer 40K Space Hulk themed cardgame, but I couldn't lay my hands on it 'til Saturday 'cos the lines were over an hour on Thursday.

Trendwise, I seemed to get the impression that there wasn't as much CCG type stuff this year. Lots of booths selling board/card games, a decent number of RPG's, the usual glorious freak show of game accessories and niche products. A whole lot of LARP and costume stuff, with some especially cool fake foam weapons on sale this year. (If I wasn't on the cheap(well, cheap for me at GenCon), I would totally have bought this foam sledgehammer I saw at a couple places. (Sorry, no picture of that. Alas...)

On to the bonus level!

The hum and hustle of the nerd's bazaar.

Lego's inflatable ziggurat of doom!

Apparently this is the year White Wolf got their liquor license...

Even mighty luchadors need to make a buck.

I checked out the artist's alley on Saturday and was favorably impressed by the technical skills of most of the artists in attendance, although the numbing sameness of a lot of fantasy art does make it hard to wanna crack open the ol' wallet for much of anything. (Seriously, how many goth fairies and frikkin' zombies to we need to see? Whatever...)

I also had plenty of time to retire to the hotel room to chill out, which was welcome as well. I do a lot of writing and I was on a creative uptick, so a chance to just take time and work on my laptop in an air conditioned room was nice. I was never pressured or hurried, and really just had a good time.
Our suite at the Indianapolis Hilton. I was sequestered here behind the doors by the rest of the group because apparently I snore with the strength of ten strong men. Fine with me, there was a desk I could use and the couch bed was perfectly comfy.

The view out the hotel window. Always neat. I think we stayed at the Sheraton the first time we came here, but this has been our sanctum sanctorum of choice ever since then.

And that's how I spent Gen Con. More later.

Monday, August 9, 2010

What the swearing cuss is wrong with me?

I bought way too many miniatures at GenCon. It's like an addiction. I've got a kabillion I still have to paint from before this little jaunt, but here's this trip's tally:

A bunch of Arabian Nights guys from IronWind Metals. For eventual use in the Thousand Year Sandglass.

This funky djinn guy, also IronWind. 'cos Arabian Nights type settings need lotsa genies.

A bunch of gals from IronWind's $2 bux a babe box. 'cos they're fun to paint is all.

Assorted robots from Reaper's Chronoscape line, for robotting it up in Gamma World applications or what have you.

Betty the Space Heroine, also from Reaper. Just 'cos she's cool, plus I've already got some robots.

A packet of giant preying mantis', also with an eye toward Post Apocalyptic giant bug fun! From Iron Wind.

Buncha kung fu guys from Alkemy. I knew this was gonna happen sooner or later. I'm starting to not just collect minis, but to collect genres of minis. (Like western/steampunk, post apocalyptic, Arabian Nights, and now, Kung Fu guys...) They were $10 cheaper on sale at Games Plus's booth.

A bear. Because everything's more intense with bears. From Reaper.

And then, of course, the stinking badgers, from this game about fighting critters called Brushfire. Just 'cos they looked cool, and having a bunch of big critter goons with iron claws will make for more awesome Gamma World type shenanigans someday. I'll need to find some good mutant fungus monsters so I can get this kind of action going. I guess I'm most boggled by these 'cos I bought 'em after I'd vowed to stop buying stuff. *sigh*

Seriously, though. Am I nuts? Yeesh... Better get back to painting again...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Back from GENCON 2010

Here we see a 6th. lvl. GenCon attendee on the penultimate day of his annual sojourn. A smashing good time was had by myself and my fellow party members. Over the next few weeks, as I draw my thoughts together to analyze and expound upon my experiences, they shall appear here on this humble blog.

But for now, I'll let Astro Man and the Mega Ominoid sum up my feelings.

Can't wait 'til next year.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Tears of the Seeress

Tellers of tales claim this mystic fountain is hidden in some remote mountain fastness, or in the depths of a deep catacomb.

The polished granite basin is surmounted by a statue of a looming robed figure carved of the same grey, white veined stone, with hands folded over its breast and a serene female face with black holes for eyes, leaning over the bowl. Cold springwater pours out of the holes into the shallow pool below, which then drains through holes at the lip of the basin, keeping it at a level 2 inches from the rounded edge. The pool radiates magic to a Detect Magic spell, and those that drink of it are affected thusly:

Roll 1d10

1: Affected as if by a Sleep spell if a Save vs. Spell is not made. There is a 10% while the drinker is sleeping they will have some form of prophetic dream. Otherwise this effect functions as delineated in the rules for Sleep.

2: Overcome by melancholy, suffering -1 to all saves and actions for the rest of the day.

3: Heal 2d8+4 pts damage. Only happens once, after which the drinker is merely refreshed by the cool draught.

4: Gain the ability to spot secret doors as if an elf. If the drinker is an elf, gain +1 pt of permanent Wisdom. Only happens once.

5: A weird curse effects your eyes, causing you to see what's behind you and making you blind to what's in front of you. Victims must walk backwards and suffer a -4 to attacks, and may be automatically backstabbed by theives. This effect lasts until a Remove Curse can be cast upon you.

6: Gain Clairvoyance for 1d6 minutes. Only happens once.

7: When entering combat must make Save vs. Spells or begin weeping and blubbering uncontrollably for 1d4 rounds during which you cannot act or cast spells, you may only run. This persists until a Remove Curse is cast.

8: A single tear rolls down your cheek, and transforms into a tiny aquamarine worth 1d4X10 gp. Only happens once.

9: Gain immunity to Gaze attacks for the rest of the day.

10: The drinker's eyes begin to glow with a faint blue light. This effect is permanent. It isn't noticeable in daylight or in illuminated rooms, but is fairly easy to spot at night or in darkened spaces. Thieves gain a -5 to Hide in Shadows.

If this water is removed from the fountain and carried off in a container, it will become normal spring water.

LL at Paul's: Casualties


Here we are again, spinning tales of adventure and larceny about the good ol' weekly Labyrinth Lord session. Lets begin, shall we?

So when last we etc. etc., the group was limping our overburdened way down a long hallway toward a set of stairs down to what we hoped would be an exit, pursued by a medusa and her lizardman minions after having made a five fingered ownership transference of several sacks worth of gold, silver, and electrum coins from the ancient storehouse of the lost kingdom of Koral Gesh, located in the mountains beneath the shrine of Kor.

We hustled down the hall at a laborious pace, alert for danger from all directions. Finally, we made it to the end and around the corner to a set of downward stairs.

We left a cask of oil flaming at the top of the stairs to discourage pursuit and made our way down. We'd explored most of the level below, and were headed toward a large chamber that seemed to lead outside, but the area where we were heading was unknown to us.

About halfway down the stairs, our handy dandy floating disc, conjured by our halfling mage Elef, ran out of magical go juice and vanished, forcing us to lug the sacks of coins on our own aching backs. If only the thing had been coin operated...

It emptied out into a large bunkroom, more military barracks I presume, that was in a profound state of disarray. There were two doors in one corner that seemed to match to our map of this level, so with hope dawning we inched our way across the large, 40'X50' space, our progress slowed by having to climb over overturned furniture and wreckage.

Just when it was looking like we'd get clear, we got jumped by a bunch of animate shadows, who's chill touch could drain strength. These creatures weren't undead in the true sense, even though they were something like evil spirits, so my cleric The Deacon couldn't turn 'em. Also, since they were literally shadows, normal weapons passed right through them. So it was down to Yøgund's Vadium sword, the fancy gem sword weilded by Klint, and the Deacon's Mojo stick to fend the fiends off.

After a brief, furious fight we banished the foes back to the shadows they grew from. I think the Deacon kerploded one with the Mojo Stick. (It don't hit often, but when it does, whoa nelly!) but sadly the creatures' ghostly touch had drained a bit of Yøgund's strength and left Elef more than a little worse for wear.

We paused at the door and decided to have the halfling cast his other spell for the day: Detect Magic. Partly this was so we had a good accounting of what magic we had in hand for dealing with future threats, and part of it was kind of... I dunno... bastardly on our part in that if the little guy was gonna kick it, we wanted to get our stuff sussed out before we had to lower him into a 3' hole.

He observed that Klint's sword was indeed magic, as well as two rings we'd found in the royal bedchambers. So we're kind of trying to figure out what they do, but there's been nothing conclusive yet.

Anyway, that task done, we headed out the door, and were pleased to find it did indeed connect to the floor as we'd predicted from the map, so we hoofed it to the large fountain chamber where we could see daylight streaming in from a big set of double doors.

We lugged our load across the ancient chamber and out into the cold light of the high mountains, and found ourselves on a large terrace overlooking an expanse of mist that turned out to be a layer of clouds over a sheer cliff face dropping hundreds of feet below down the high mountainside.

As we desperately searched for some way off of the terrace, a smug female voice called out to us, gloating at having caught the thieves who'd looted her master's treasure house. We turned, keeping our eyes carefully averted, and saw the medusa, standing with a trio of lizard men ready to attack us.

She offered us a deal where if we dropped the treasure she'd let us leave the dungeon alive. We looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, and turned with drawn swords. The Deacon strummed a couple chords on his mandolin and laid a Bless spell on the group, giving us a little very needed combat edge. Yøgund downed the Potion of Haste we'd picked up from somewhere, giving him two attacks per round and making him fast on his feet.

We'd lugged all this crap a few hundred feet too far to give it up now, and she was evil anyhow, so that was that. Enough was frikkin' enough, it was crazy go nuts time!

The lizard men charged us as we ran at them, meeting in a clash of swords and tridents. Yøgund dodged around them with his Flash like speed and went straight for the medusa, fighting at a disadvantage both from not being able to look directly at his foe, and from being weakened by the shadow's touch in the fight before.

The two of them engaged in some witty wordplay, speaking to one another as if they were flirting at a fancy ball (And it was good dialog too. Wish I could remember any of it, but Yøgund's player was really shining with the Errol Flynn repartee). He got some good hits in too, but alas his wits and his sword arm didn't protect him when one of the creature's serpentine locks darted forth and bit him, slaying our comrade with it's fell poison.

So now of course, the party was pissed. We polished off the lizard men and Amos, our one armed elf henchman, and the Deacon charged in on the medusa. She tried striking up more witty banter, but all the Deacon could muster by way of response was wild swings with the Mojo Stick. Sadly, my dice were about as cold as poor Yøgund was gonna be in a few minutes, and I just kept whiffing over her head like an uncoordinated kid at a piñata party.

Amos was having better luck, and the other deciding factor was Elef, who bravely/foolishly looked right at her and threw a dagger. The dagger struck true, and put her close to death, but it also meant he got a faceful of gaze, and was instantly turned into a lawn ornament. (A fact that we indeed mused on after the fight was done. Hey, after throwing the dagger he was even in a perfect pose to hang a lantern on his hand... But I get ahead of myself...)

I think it was finally Amos who got the fatal strike in, slashing the monstrous creature's throat. As she fell, she gasped out an apology to some unknown master, and her snakes went limp.

So there we were, down two more party members, stuck on a mountainside, and with a lot of heavy problems on our hands. We were down to three and a half able bodied party members, with a fifth, Gentleman Jack Getz, still gravely sick from that centipede bite and little more than a shambling, whining load.

We caught our breath, and got down to business.

We pulled a bag over the medusa's head and severed it, thinking maybe this would be prized by some wizard or something back in civilization.

We had no choice with Elef, as he was now a solid granite statue and we were terribly overloaded as it was. So we left the little guy on the balcony alongside the ancient statues of Ilmorian kings and sorcerers, facing the sun. As a courtesy, we scratched "This is Elef the wizard. A brave companion. He is petrified. Please de-petrify him if you are able." on the stone of some of his gear. Maybe he'd get lucky, sooner or later. (Probably later... much later... Ah well.)

Yøgund presented us with a serious dilemma. By dying from poison rather than being petrified, we had a good shot of getting him raised from the dead, but unfortunately there was a time limit on doing that, and we were probably not going to make it in time. Regardless, we decided to bring him along. We stripped him of his heavy gear and bundled him up, then lashed him to the Deacon's back to drag him out of that hellhole.

Lacking a path down, we decided to go up, using Klint's rope to climb up the face of the edifice set into the mountain and upward to the peak. From there, we painfully picked our way down the other side of the mountain, until finally we reached the shrine of Kor, spotting it's dome from high above about midday and taking the rest of the day to climb back down. If we were lucky, our donkey would still be there and we could load him up with our swag and hoof it home.

Well... we weren't lucky. When we got to the shrine, all we found was a frayed rope and some gnawed bones. Dammit.

With heavy heart and aching backs, we trudged down the mountain, dragging our dead or disabled comrades and a huge heap of cashola with us.

Passage out of the mountains and down to the road to Restenford mercifully passed without incident, and a few days later we limped into the coastal village, and made a beeline to Almox the druid's home. We had some apologizing to do about bringing his son back short an appendage.

Despite our ragged looks and the maiming and everything, we were welcomed by the druid and his lovely elven wife.

Sadly, it was past the time limit to raise Yøgund, so we started to turn our thoughts to the other method available to bring a character back, Reincarnation. This is a high level wizard spell, and it's a bit more complicated 'cos the subject can come back as something other than human. Of course, I think it would be cool to get Yøgund back as a unicorn or pegasus, but his player didn't seem to be so hot on being our little pony.


So we bid Almox farewell after divvying up our loot and making sure young Amos got his share, and repaired ourselves to the Inn of the West Wind, the swankiest joint in town, where we proceeded to rent the nicest rooms we could get and set ourselves up for a little R&R. We planned on visiting Pelltar the archmage on the morrow, but for now, we could use a little recuperation. Gentleman Jack finally got over his centipede poisoning and rented a room for himself to just wallow in luxury for a night.

While we chilled in our room, Klint had a little attack of conscience and failed his saving throw, and revealed a bag he'd found and snagged somewhere in the depths of the ruin. Turned out, it was a Bag of Holding, full of more cash and gems, as well as a couple of potion flasks. Sweet! It probably would have been handy to know about this thing earlier... Non-Sweet!

Anyway, we slept well, and the next day went around to see Pelltar. He received us cordially. He informed us he didn't quite have the magical horsepower to bring Yøgund back, so we resigned ourselves to burying him with a nice plaque at the wayfarer's house he'd established.

We gave the wizard the medusa's head as a curio, just to keep on his good side. We were a little skittish about pulling it out of the bag, but he maintained it's power had probably waned by then, which he proved by yanking it out suddenly. Once we all got up from under the table, we agreed, the grisly trophy was pretty much that, just a grisly trophy. Since Pelltar had a taste for freakish taxidermy, it seemed like a nice gesture.

Klint had begun to learn a little magic from Elef, and since the spellbook he'd been practicing with was now a chunk of granite, he asked Pelltar if he'd take on another apprentice. The wizard asked him if he planned to give up adventuring, to which he said no, and so Pelltar turned him down, dryly noting that we had kinda bad luck keeping mages alive in our group. He did, however, offer to sell our burgeoning wizard some magical primer material he could self study, provided he promised to do it far outside of inhabited areas.

Finally, we contracted Philben, one of his apprentices, to ID the potions we'd found, and then we took our leave. We were still on tap to find out what had happened to Koode and Talin Zin, and that's probably what we'll be embarking on in our next session.

So yeah, a real heartbreaker of an ending to our explorations of Koral Gesh. I mean, I guess we got what we came for, namely Klint's frikkin' magic see in the dark toque (and several large heaps of treasure, truth be told), but at what cost?

At... what... cost?

Anyway, thanks again to Paul for running, and the rest of the 10d gamers, for another action packed session.