Monday, April 30, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 16

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

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

               Doug the rat creature zombie, petrified by a cockatrice

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

6 Ghouls eluded
               141 EXP

1 Cockatrice-Kerploded using Magic Missiles
               350 EXP

Total:  806/ 5.5 characters = 147 Exp apiece

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

Now all you need to get is those mushrooms.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 15

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 14

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

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

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

4 Doom Guards – Turned by Arongoth
               200 EXP

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

Total: 7800 EXP/5 players = 1560 EXP Apiece

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

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

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


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

Yeooh ee oh. YeOOOh Oh!

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

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

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

Stay tuned, folks...

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Go! Mighty Orbots!

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

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

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

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

My joy circuits are overclocked!

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 13

Paintin’ the town in Strangeldorf.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Helgacon XI - Search for the Star Condor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things that went right:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What could have been better:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fly on to infinity, Star Condor! Fly ON!

Helgacon XI - The Resplendent Palace of the Sultan

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

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

So I figured it was time for a celebration.

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

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

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

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

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

The Resplendent Palace of the Sultan Carousing Mishaps (d20)

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

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

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

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

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

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

How it went down:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Sim sim salabim!

The Sandglass shall return. So it shall be!

Helgacon XI - High Points from the Triangle

Well, it's been a couple weeks since I got back, so I probably ought to stop procrastinating about posting or this will be yet another undocumented Helgacon.

Among the cavalcade of wonderful gamers and friends who are part of the Helgaverse, there is a trio that I, in my infinite capacity for being a huge nerd, refer to as the Iron Triangle.

(I googled the term to make sure I wasn't making some kind of bad association, like calling us the swastika pals or something, and since all I found was deep politics wonk references to buddy buddy relationships between govt. agencies and special interest groups, I figured it's okay. Still nerdy, but okay.)

I am one of them, and the other two are my longtime gaming pals Paul and Delta. The artist, the magician, and the scholar. We have all been gaming together for almost twenty years. We're 3 of the original Helga's Heroes game group (and one of us was actually "Helga". No, I shan't elaborate on that.) We're 3/4ths. of the infamous MacGoohen Brothers from GenCon 2005. We have all attended every single Helgacon since its inception in 2008. We're all deep in the OSR, and run most of what you'd call old school or retro games at our annual gathering on the Cape. Both those guys influence my gaming immensely, and I hope they get the odd idea from me as well from time to time.

So this year all of the games I was in as a player were run by my fellow triangulars. I was immensely disappointed that Paul's scheduling algorithm didn't put either of them in any of the games I ran, but c'est la vie. (And that's absolutely not to say that I wasn't thrilled with the top notch players I got!) I'll get 'em at my table sooner or later. We've been gaming together for a long time and will continue to do so as long as we're able.

Anyway, Delta ran the Temple and Sewer sections of the classic tournament module "Slave Pits of the Undercity", and Paul ran "The Citadel of the Severed Hand" which was a 1 Page Dungeon Contest winner from 2013, to which he added the element of his newly minted Insanity Cards. All three sessions were a ton of fun and examples of DMs at the top of their game, so to speak. These guys are good.

Here are some of the high points:

The hall with the disguised assassins in the Temple wasn't a high point, but you sure got us Delta. You got us good. If only we'd listened to a certain party member (and I'm not being coy that it was me. I was one of the ones who shouted him down.) when he questioned the whole set up. Tournament play brings out a certain quarrelsome dynamic at the table sometimes. Ah well.

Using a Reincarnation scroll to bring back a dead party member in the Temple and having them come back as an angry hydra. That certainly put a spanner in the Slave Lords' works, I'd bet. It was worth the tournament points lost for permanently losing that character.

Vaulting the barricade of bad guys in the Temple and capturing their flame thrower wagon, even after taking a couple shots to the face from it. And then the subsequent rampage as we trundled it around setting stuff on fire. Alas, we ran out of napalm just as we got into it with the big bosses in the room full of snakes and assassins.

The increasingly wacky in character introductions at the start of the Citadel game. "I'm Frngrngrn Pantherclaw, and I'm obviously, unquestionably a human."

Assaulting the Citadel's gatehouse with a Phantasmal Force generated fog for cover. It wasn't a great plan, but it fell apart in our favor in the end.

Turtle the slow dwarf and his minder/cousin("My aunt said I had to bring him along.") taking down the Queen of the Citadel was pretty awesome. I wish I could recall the details more clearly. This is what happens when you procrastinate on your blog.

Pulling a Christopher Lee ("A man doesn't sound like that when you stab them in the back") on a couple of orc guards at the top of some stairs in the Sewer and then fireballing the rest of them from behind, then mopping up their ogre commanders was immensely satisfying. Delta is as even handed a DM as they come, but getting him to shake his fist at the players and lament his plans being foiled is one of the exquisite joys of gaming with the man.

The long, running effort to rescue the elf fighter/magic user from being swept away in the Sewer. Once again this wasn't necessarily a high point, but illustrative of the principle I've observed that running water features of any sort are like frikkin' Kryptonite to adventuring parties. Things tend to go epically pear shaped, I've found, when you take a bunch of heavily armored looters and drop 'em in the drink. Whole sessions, and whole parties, can be consumed by old man river. (Or stream, or drainpipe, or sewer, etc. etc. etc.)

Battling the bilious beetle beings running the eponymous Slave Pits at the end of the Sewer game was pretty exciting. It was a hard game overall, but I think in both cases we scored pretty high. I'll post the numbers here if somebody can email 'em to me.

I'm sure there are a lot of other moments I'm forgetting because too much time has passed. (Too much time passes in general between chances to game together.) Suffice to say, if you're at either of these fellows' table, you're in for a great game.

Thanks, Delta and Paul. I got a critical success when I rolled on the friend chart!

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 12

Keep your stick on the ice. Unless you're gonna drive it thru a vampire's chest cavity.
Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 4 Dampyr
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief/Werewolf
Ritzy – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Richard Darkmagic – Lvl 5 Magic User
Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 5 Cleric
               Fritzy and Doug 2 zombified rat creature minions

The story so far: Bark Eatin’ Ted, the mad mountain man of Ghoulardia Pass has agreed to help you find some of the herbs on Rael’s werewolf cure shopping list in exchange for killing Lobovich, the vampire of Cardille keep.

Desiring to freshen up before tackling such a foe, the party repaired to Strangeldorf and found the town quite indifferent to their presence. They bought rooms at The Dead Cat (Strangledorf’s Inn/Biergarten) and placed an order at the Temple of All Saints for 10 healing potions (At a cost of 1500 gp) which will be ready in a week, and therefore are killing time around town while waiting for their potions.

And that’s where we introduce Carousing into the game. Huzzah!

Current Party Finances:
Items in red are items you need to sell or barter to get the monetary value out of.
First Session: 40 GP, Necklace: 50 gp, Greed’s Teapot: 10 gp
Session 1: 2 GP
Session 3: 100 GP, 1 Gold Earring (40gp)
Session 6: 2400 GP, Cache of Gems: Total Worth 2430 GP (930)*, Fine Sword with Skull Pommel & Engraved Rose & Thorns 300 GP
Session 8: 600 SP, 400 GP, 4 Bottles of Fine Brandy (80 gp total)
Session 10: 70 GP

Total: 3072 in liquid cash. 2910 in sellable assets (1410 available to sell in Strangeldorf)

*Strangeldorf is a moderate sized town, and can’t handle transactions of cash over 350 gp. Therefore, 3 of the gems you retrieved from Gore De Vol’s crypt, a large topaz, a large citrine, and a deep blue spinel are too rich for the town’s commerce, reducing the available cash by a total of 1500 gp. To sell these you’ll need to make it to a larger city.

In addition, you have found several magic items which you must divide between yourselves.

Basic Carousing Rules:
Spend d6 x 100gp to earn that many XP.  The save versus Poison or roll on the Carousing Mishaps table below.  If you roll more money than you have on hand you now owe the difference to some sort of criminal unless another PC can cover your expenses. (Note: Strangeldorf isn’t as big a town, so I’m gonna call that number 1d4X100 instead of 1d6)

Jeff Rients' Carousing Rules


With a list of herbs to gather in their grubby little paws our adventuring party set out into the fog shrouded pine forests covering the hillsides around Ghoulardia Pass. There they met and parlayed with the mad druid Bark Eatin' Ted and his giant, flesh ripping weasels. After some gravelly voiced negotiation Ted agreed to hook them up with the herbs if they'd take care of the area's little vampire problem. 

Figuring they'd need to stock up and maybe sleep in a bed that hadn't had a deer carcass ripped open by a werewolf on it, they headed to the nearby town of Strangeldorf. The reason they were surprised at that sleepy alpine hamlet's indifference to their presence is the fact that they'd earlier been run out of town by a torch and pitchfork wielding mob.

This is my general lead in for the Ghoulardia Pass sandbox. Why they got run out of town is totally immaterial. The fact is they were and now the story begins in media res with the party walking down a road past a graveyard, a creepy keep, a lake, and a dilapidated hunting lodge on a cold, rainy night.

Since torch and pitchfork wielding mobs are kind of the local pastime, it really was no big whoop. Whatever they did to precipitate one, by now it was long forgotten. Especially if they were back with jingling piles of coins in hand.

So this was mostly one of those logistics centered sessions that pop up in an ongoing campaign from time to time. The party had been piling up loot and riling up monsters for several sessions, now it was time to cash in. I decided to toss Jeff Rients' legendary Carousing Rules into the mix, 'cos nothin' spices up a trip into town like a drunken rampage or two. To any DM's out there, if you aren't using Carousing in your game then you're not having as much fun as you could. It may take a little coaxing to get players to nut up and throw down, but it can lead to some rich, rich gameplay. Check 'em out!

Stay tuned for next week when our creepy crew samples Strangeldorf's night life.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 11

(BTW. Never google search “Scumbag with a crossbow.” It will make you sad. Honestly. (Long story short: pets with arrows in them. Some people need kicked in the nuts more frequently.) )

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

Richard Darkmagic – Lvl 5 Magic User
Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 5 Cleric
               Fritzy and Doug 2 zombified rat creature minions

Monsters Mashed:
Morgus’ Minions: Wilkins the Crossbowman murderated with extreme predjudice, the rest run off.
               1240 EXP / 5 players= 248 EXP Apiece

Equipment retrieved from Wilkins’ corpse:
1 Heavy Crossbow with  2 bolts (1d8 dmg)
1 Dagger
1 Pack of marked cards with saucy pictures for the jokers. (A rather specific, mildly disturbing definition of “saucy”)

Here’s your shopping list for herbs:
Mountainroot Morel – A greyish morel that grows deep in damp mountain caves at depth of at least 50 ft down from surface.
Crimson Tail – Extravagantly poisonous weed with bright red, goldenrod like tufts. Handle with extreme care.
Madman’s Rose – Small purplish flowers with yellow spirals on the petals. Juice is hallucinogenic if touched or ingested fresh.
Golden Ear Mushroom – Relatively benign wood ear type mushroom that grows on fallen logs.
Greenishghul – Sickly looking whitish green shrub. Local lore says it seems to attract the undead to the places it grows.
Hermit’s Quill – White tufted plant with sharp thorns. Plant’s juices are a deep, blackish purple that stains anything and everything permanently.
Wolfsbane – A purple flower that can cause paralysis and potentially death if picked carelessly.

Reputed Lycanthropy Cure Recipe:
Place ingredients in a spotless copper kettle along with 1 gallon of dire wolf blood, 1 gallon of fine wine, and 1 gallon of holy water. Bring to boil, then simmer until its reduced to 1 pint of thick, black liquid. Strain and place contents in glass beaker and suspend in sun for 7 days. Cast “Bless” on the liquid, swallow a silver piece, then drink complete contents whilst holding breath. May the heavens have mercy upon you.


The party got into a dustup in the graveyard with Morgus' mob of minions, who got the worst of the encounter and fled the field down one scurvy crossbow wielding thug named Wilkins. (I went looking for an image of a skeezy, preferably medieval lookin' guy with a crossbow to head up the post-game email, but to my genuine horror found nothing but pictures of animal cruelty when I entered a search term I thought would get me the desired result. Lesson learned: google carefully.) 

Morgus himself was not present, because I learned long ago whilst running some superhero themed campaigns that if a villain presents himself to a party of characters, they will move mountains to get at him and will never let up in their pursuit until their foe is an antagonist shaped scorch mark on the ground. So I figured the remote approach would be preferable if I wanted to try having some running villains in this. In the end it didn't save him, as you shall see much, much later...

Aside from some minor scuffling and the rifling of pockets, the party's spellcasters did some research in the late Doctor Von Rattschmid's modest arcane library to see if they could come up with a cure for Rael the thief's monstrous malamute morphing malady. I found some kinda random fantasy herb generator online and made up the wurwilf cure as I composed the email. 

And so with shopping list in hand, the party drew their plans...

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 10

Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 4 Dampyr
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief/Werewolf
Richard Darkmagic – Lvl 5 Magic User
Ritzy – Lvl 5 Homanculus

Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 5 Cleric
               Fritzy and Doug 2 zombified rat creature minions

Rael the Thief has picked up a nasty case of Lycanthropy. I will point out at this time that it is unknown A: When it’s gonna strike (Don’t count on it just being during the full moon.),  B: what will cure it, and C: whether she can eventually gain control of it. Whatever the answers for those questions are, they will be entertaining. To me at least.

Monsters mashed-
Wight: Smushed to powder, reanimated as wraithlike thing, sliced with Skullsword and kerploded –
               120 EXP

Loot gathered
               70 GP

               The Skullsword  +1, +3 vs. Undead

Total: 190 EXP/5.5 players = 35 EXP Apiece

Raelwolf – 470 EXP/3.5 players = 104 EXP for Greed, Ritzy, Arongoth and Richard


Yeah, y'see, when a character takes 50% damage from a lycanthrope, like the ones they fought in Session One and Session Three, isn't paying attention when the DM rolls a saving throw for them, and then goes several weeks without even once saying "Should I be worried about contracting lycanthropy?", well...

That's pretty much when you should worry about contracting lycanthropy. 

And thus our party's thief got to start hyphenating her class with "werewolf", which is like Halloween in July for a DM running a schlock horror themed game, let me tell you.

She took it in pretty good stride, all told. The party had been looting the assorted above ground crypts in the Ghoulardia Pass graveyard and using the hunting lodge as a base of operations. After a particularly good haul from a wight haunted crypt where they turned up the Skullsword, as they dubbed it, 'cos it had skulls on it, Rael had her first wolf-out while they were kicking back and resting. They managed to non-fatally pacify her, so now the party has gained its first self motivated long term goal of either curing or controlling her carnivorous condition. 

I was so happy when our therianthropic thief said she was looking to figure out how to weaponize her wolfiness rather than just getting rid of it like a boring old borewolf. Those are the sorts of plot hooks that make it so much fun for a DM.

Much fun was indeed to be had from this decision, as you shall see, my gentle readers. Stay tuned to see how it all unfurls...

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 9

Realized I didn’t do one of these on Monday. (Monday circa post Thanksgiving November 2013) Am I forgetting any loot from then? I think you checked out the room with the glass tubes where Ritzy came from, found the secret door into the ooze’s lair, climbed the crypt, and slaughtered 2 of the 3 rat critters and let the survivor scamper off into the woods.
Three blindsided mice.
Session 9 – Monday
Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 4 Dampyr
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief
Richard Darkmagic – Lvl 5 Magic User
Ritzy – Lvl 5 Homanculus

Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 5 Cleric
               Fritzy and Doug 2 zombified rat creature minions

Monsters Mashed:
3 Rat Creatures – 350 EXP/ 5.5 players = 64 EXP Apiece


This session saw the return of the player whose last character, Kerowack the thief, didn't even last a single room's worth of exploration. This time around he rolled up a homanculous named Ritzy (in tribute to the famous scene from Young Frankenstien.) I wouldn't be surprised if the combined toughness and ease of resurrection were class features that appealed to him.

They found him in a room full of giant glass specimen tubes, mostly full of weird rat abominations. (One thing I'll say about the schlock horror genre, it presents a lot of interesting ways to introduce characters in situ. Beats tavern crawling or tacking up notices on the local job board.) 

The party pretty much mopped up Von Rattschmid's lab, connected the dots between the lab and the lair of the grey ooze (which I recall they ran away from like a bunch of little sissies when they figured out where they were) and finally climbed a shaft up to one of the crypts in the graveyard above, where they found the last trio of the mad rodent enthusiast's creations and laid a whuppin' on 'em. 

Stay tuned for next week, when things start to get a bit hairy for the group.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Gaze inside the Cabinet of Mystery!

Still coming down from Helgacon XI and getting stuff put away. Today I re-organized my minis in the ol' Cabinet O' Mystery, arranging the different departments much more sensibly, I think.

It is as I'd feared some time ago. I no longer collect miniatures, but genres of miniatures. Ah well...

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 8

Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 4 Dampyr
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 5 Cleric
               Gruff, Snuff, Niff and Tiff 4 zombified rat creature minions
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief
Richard Darkmagic – Lvl 5 Magic User

               Arongoth’s zombie rat creature minions. Arongoth’s left hamstring (he now moves at ½ speed)

Monsters Mashed –
Doctor Klaus Von Rattschmid – Stabbed and then head exploded with magic missile, dissolved into scattering rat swarm.
               1700 EXP
Fritz – Killed, then killed again
               790 EXP
Nunkie – Smushed by wizard staff.
               6 EXP
1 Rat Creature– Run ragged then thru
               50 EXP
4 Rat Creature Zombies – Turned against party, turned by party, and re-killed for good
               320 EXP

Loot gathered
               600 SP, 400 GP, 4 Bottles of Fine Brandy worth 20 GP apiece
                              540 EXP

               Scroll of Warding vs. Lycanthropes, Von Ratschmitt’s Spell Book, Potion of Super Heroism, Potion of Extra Healing, Potion of Giant Strength

TOTAL EXP AWARD – 3406/5 Players = 681 EXP Apiece

We’ll begin again next week. Thanks for a great session. Have a wonderful holiday!


Moving past the rat creatures nest the party found their way up a set of stairs to the hidden lab of Doctor Von Rattschmid, a mad scientist who was something of a renowned re-purposer of rodents. 

They found him hard at work on some mousey monstrosity, assisted by his hulking hench-rat Fritz and his low slung lackey Nunkie, while one of his off the rack rat creatures ran in a large wheel connected to an apparatus that generated electric shocks.
Who's the biggest rat here, one might ask.
The Doctor was of course rather upset about this intrusion on his privacy, as well as the suborning of some of his creations by Arongoth's zombification. I seem to recall there was a bit of negotiation before it came to blows, with the final deal breaker being Von Rattschmid's demand for the return of his property. Like most morally questionable dungeon delving crews, the party generally operated on the "finders keepers" rule.

Unfortunately for the party, the good(?) Doctor had the forethought to install some sort of override protocol in the rat creatures that still worked even after they'd been sent to the big cheese tray in the sky, so he turned our heroes(?) shambling zombified hench force against them. 

I believe Fritz got killed by the party, then the Doc cast Animate Dead on him and sent him back into action only to get cut down a second time. Nunkie might have gone after the spellcasters and might have been the one who hamstringed Arongoth, but I'm not entirely certain. He didn't have a lot of HP and a smackdown from Richard Darkmagic's staff was enough to end his vile little existence. 

They finally took the mad scientist down, but wound up with nothing to deliver to the coroner (or the crows) after Von Rattschmid's headless corpse collapsed and splattered into a swarm of scattering rats that had soon dispersed through all of the underground room's cracks, crevices, and mouse holes and disappeared.

Once the Doctor was out of the picture, they proceeded to loot his lab and the small private room adjoining it, netting a decent amount of coinage from Von Rattschmid's slush fund, some potions from the lab's medicine chest, a bunch of magical documentation, and four bottles of quality booze. 

This was the final session before Thanksgiving 2013, hence the holiday well wishes. Not bad progress for a month's worth of sporadic hour long sessions. However they were pretty close to exploring the entire catacomb complex. I'd have to brew up some new in the very near future. Stay tuned to see just what I concocted...

Monday, April 9, 2018

Helgacon XI

So the big news in my personal Game-O-Verse is that I just got back from a weekend at Helgacon, a small scale, invite only mini-convention organized by my longtime amigo Paul for the benefit of our mutual circle of gaming friends from the New England area. I've been going since it started as a small weekend gathering in 2008, and it's pretty much one of the high points of my year. It's been more of a challenge to get out there since I moved away back in 2012, but I wouldn't miss it for the world.

This year I ran two games:

The Resplendent Palace of the Sultan, a finale of sorts for my long running Arabian Nights themed Labyrinth Lord campaign: The Thousand Year Sandglass.

Search for the Star Condor, which is a sequel to Voyage of the Star Condor, a space fantasy game I ran at Helgacon VI that was a combination of Star Frontiers: Knight Hawks, Labyrinth Lord, and the old Parker Brothers game Shadowlord!

Once I've gathered my thoughts and cogitated a while, I'll blog about these, and the games I played in run by my mighty friends Delta and Paul.

For now, suffice to say I had a splendid time, and can hardly wait for Helgacon XII to come. 

Game on, Helga's Heroes! May your dice forever give you critical successes! See you soon!

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 7

Meet Morgus the Malevolent and his morose mob of minions.
When he finds Count Gore De Vol’s crypt has been looted, he’s not going to take it very well.

Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 4 Dampyr
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 5 Cleric
               Gruff, Snuff, 2 zombified rat creature minions
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief

Richard Darkmagic – Lvl 5 Magic User

Monsters Mashed –
4 Rat Creatures – Beheaded, Mauled, Arrowed thru the Head, and Strenuously Abused in the Nut-o-logical Area.
               200 EXP

TOTAL EXP AWARD – 200/4.5 Players = 45 EXP Apiece


Have a double helping of horror today, seeing as I missed posting a Chronicle last Friday due to attending fabulous Helgacon XI! I'll be blogging more about that in the near future. But for now, lets keep digging up the dusty old bones of this campaign. 

Replete with riches from Gore De Vol's crypt, the party headed in a northeasterly direction in the catacombs. They managed to avoid getting overly entangled with the sinister Morgus and Co. but I don't rightly recall if they simply avoided them via stealth or bluffed their way past them. He and his crew of thugs had tunneled down into the underground maze to dig up the very wealth that the characters had recently looted. As I hinted at in the session email, Mr. The Malevolent was not very happy at all to be scooped on all that sparkly swag, and proceeded to become a persistent thorn in the party's side once he'd put two & two together. 

Moving on from Morgus, the party struck east and found their way into the main nest of rat creatures. They dispatched four of the beasties, some in more painful ways than others.

Y'ever see the nuts on a rat? Gruesome... 

Stay tuned for more. Can't say that it'll get any pleasanter.

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Session 6

Who ya gonna call?
Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 4 Dampyr
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 5 Cleric
               Gruff, Snuff, 2 zombified rat creature minions
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief

Richard Darkmagic – Lvl 5 Magic User

Monsters Mashed:
The Spectre of Count Gore De Vol – Exploded by a magic missile (with a big red d30 roll for damage!)
               820 EXP
8 Skeletons from the Count’s Legion – Variously turned, smashed, and magic missiled.
               80 EXP

               EXP AWARD: 900 EXP

The Big Score!
Count Gore De Vol’s Treasure:
2400 GP worth of century old coins

2430 GP worth of gems [(1 Star Sapphire (100 gp), 1 Azurite (10 gp), 1 Amethyst (50 gp), 1 Aquamarine (100 gp), 1 Large Citrine (500 gp), 1 Large Topaz (500 gp), 1 Pink Rhodochrosite (100 gp), 1 Olive Green Peridot (50 gp), 1 Turquoise Bead (10 gp), 1 Black Jasper (50 gp), 1 Large Alexandrite (50 gp), 1 Tiger Eye (50 gp), 1 Violet Garnet (100 gp), 1 Piece of Crimson Coral (10 gp), a Star Rose Quartz (50 gp), 1 Spinel (50 gp), 1 Large Piece of Pink Coral (50 gp), 1 Deep Blue Spinel (500 gp), 1 Fire Opal (100 gp)]

1 Fine sword with skull shaped pommels and a thorny rose engraved on the blade. (300 gp)

1 Small porcelain bottle on a silk lanyard, containing a citrusy smelling liquid.

               EXP AWARD: 5130 EXP

TOTAL EXP AWARD: 6030/4.5 Characters = 1340 EXP apiece


In this session the party finally hit pay dirt. Working their way north in the catacombs and giving the flooded room and its oozy occupant a wide berth, they found their way to an iron doored crypt that contained a magnetized coffin full of treasure, guarded by the specter of the very late Count Gore De Vol and the animated bones of his Legion. You'll note that I tend to be very specific and descriptive with my treasure, so expect to see plenty fancy loot lists from here on out. I just think it's neater when treasure has enough personality to make players actually covet it.

At the time I was firmly ensconced in the Old School Renaissance (still am, honestly) and was using a lot of fun house rules I'd found on various OSR blogs. One of these was Jeff Rients' Big Purple d30 Rule. (Although my big d30 is red.) Since we were only playing an hour or so per session, I limited its use to every 4 hours of play. The players generally used their roll with the big d30 on attacks, especially magic missile spells from the mages. 

I'm not 100% sure I'm happy with the results of that one. I guess it was doing its job, in that the players loved to dump so much damage on my big scary monsters and would get big grins on their faces when rolling that big honkin' dice, but sometimes I think it eroded the challenge of the game a little bit. Ah well, as long as they were having fun what's a kerploded specter or two? Plus it helps keep the dice in my dice bag. 
My brother made it for me when we were kids. I will use no other bag for my dice.