Friday, April 12, 2024

Session #12 & Adventure Sites Compilation

Firstly, I wanted to let everybody know that Adventure Sites I by Coldlight Press is now available as a free download on DriveThruRPG. It includes my own "St. Durham's Home for Wayward Youths" which is set in the same area as Melonath Falls and Brink of Calamity (but will not be included in the latter work, only by reference to this compilation) along with seven other old-school D&D-compatible adventure sites each designed to be inserted with minimal effort into an ongoing campaign and to provide one or two sessions' worth of entertainment (there was a strict size-limit of no more than 2 pages of text plus one page of maps per site). I'm honored to be included among the other authors as one of the top 8 entries in a recent contest, and the price is right so there's no reason not to grab a copy of this and see what you might be able to use in your own games.

On to other business, session #12 of my ongoing Brink of Calamity playtest was held last weekend. Because two players canceled at the last minute and the remaining players were hesitant to engage in any heavy exploration short-handed I shifted gears a bit and decided to lean heavily into Grain the thief's wedding (which had been set up by a random "character catch-up" roll a few sessions back) and use it as an opportunity to introduce a bunch of the NPCs and plot-hooks that I had tied to the Casino chapter of the book, which the players had heretofore been utterly uninterested in engaging with. We had already determined that Grain's spouse-to-be works in the casino as an "elvish impersonator" (whatever exactly that means), so since the casino is also/technically a Temple of Boreon (god of luck and chance), it made sense that the wedding would be held there and some of the casino regulars (i.e. my detailed NPCs) would attend.

PCs in attendance:
Grain - gnome thief 4
Thron - half-orc fighter 4
Thorn - half-elf ranger 3
Tares - elf cleric of Boreon 4
Eldin - human magic-user 4
Glyptus - human fighter 1 (henchman of Eldin)

Among the attendees were the following:

The casino proprietor and Boreon priest Bix Grimaldi, his assistant Carlos, and second assistant Elayne. Elayne is the cleric who who already serves as mentor/trainer to the two cleric PCs so she was already familiar. Through observation of Bix, they noticed that he doesn't actually seem to do much priestly stuff, leaving all of it to his two assistants, which came to a head when he was performing the wedding ceremony but fumbled the vows and had Carlos step in to complete the ceremony. Since prior to the session starting, while waiting for the other players to arrive, I had rolled up stats for Vylma the bride-to-be and determined that she is a mountebank (as per The Heroic Legendarium) and the players learned about the class and that one of their abilities is "impersonation," the players have begun to suspect Bix may also be less than he appears...

Boss Taggart, his half-ogre bodyguard, and a friend Franciscus, a visiting merchant. Taggart is the extremely wealthy proprietor of the lumber mill in the village of Veirona and is considered a VIP around the casino. Rumor says he is at least partial owner of the casino, which is why he was able to just show up at the wedding uninvited. Franciscus the merchant has recently arrived in town from the nearby town of Haven ostensibly to arrange a large purchase of lumber, but Thorn the ranger thought he looked familiar, and eventually recognized him as one of the men seen leaving the Perlammo Salt Mines in the last session. These three mostly stuck to themselves, whispering to each other.

Geromini, the curio-shop owner and mentor/trainer to the PC magic-user. He was revealed to be a sloppy drunk and compulsive gambler.

Sheilah, a warrior-princess from the town of Amazona, accompanied by several servile bondsmen. She was there mostly to cause trouble for any PCs who attempted to flirt with her but nobody took the bait so she ended up getting into an altercation with Geromini instead.

Loras Flaxentop, halfling professional gambler, with his pet spider-monkey. The monkey caused assorted mischief including at one point almost making off the with the wedding rings.

Mr. Stearns, distinguished older gentleman traveler from "the west" accompanied by his two adult daughters, Giuliana and Rafaella - the former of whom is plainer but friendly, the latter beautiful but cold. Mr. Stearns took immediate interest in Tares the cleric'c glowing blue crystal staff and wanted to know where he had acquired it, which they did not tell. He warned them that he was sensing an aura of evil from it. At one point a waiter spilled a drink which Mr. Stearns immediately caught, displaying amazingly (superhumanly?) fast reflexes. He also inquired whether the party had been doing any exploring in the elf-woods and when they shared the rumor they had picked up last session about the village of man-eating elves he became very intrigued and was seen flashing a sign to his daughter in Rafaella in thieves' cant telling her to watch this group.

Despite the party having left an invitation in his erstwhile lair within the Salt Mines, they were disappointed that their ogre pall Lumph did not show up. Glyptus the henchman also declined his invitation, stating that he prefers to steer clear of the casino and has had some run-ins with the people there. The party has heard rumors about an underground fight-club at the casino and are pretty convinced both that Glyptus was once a fighter there and that Lumph is there currently (but don't seem all that interested on doing any sort of follow-up investigation).

Midway through the ceremony there was a brief interruption by Boss Taggart's factotum MacDougal (who the party had previously met) who hurried in and whispered something quickly to his boss, who showed some alarm at the news. He quickly shared word with his bodyguard and guest and all four of them quickly departed. Later in the evening rumors began spreading through the crowd that a party including Lord Mayor Bowlton's daughter Liesl was en route to Taggart's manor in the village of Veirona but has failed to arrive, causing considerable distress to the Lord Mayor and his confidantes.

Grain the thief was disappointed to learn that the ring of invisibility she found last week has the unfortunate side-effect of draining away her strength and constitution, and was forced to pay almost the entirety of her savings to date (including her bridal dowry) to purchase a remove curse and dispel magic combo from Carlos the priest, even at "friends and family" rate. However, she decided to keep the ring anyway, figuring that once the PC clerics (both currently 4th level) hit 5th level and are able to cast those spells that it will still be worthwhile to have the invisibility option, especially if she only wears the ring for an hour or two. 

Thorn the ranger, who has a Quirk allowing him to speak with birds, also took delivery of a trained hawk that he had ordered several weeks back.

Asking around the next morning if there was any news of the mayor's missing daughter and learning that a search was underway but no news had been heard yet, they decided to go back to the familiar Salt Mines to continue exploring around the blank areas on their map. [Some of the players were surprised that they weren't being asked to help with the search, but other players reminded them that they have gone to great lengths to keep their adventuring career on the down-low and that only a handful of people in town - mostly their mentor/trainers - have any knowledge that they are adventurers at all.] During the trip there (the mines are about 3 hours' walk from town) the hawk informed Thorn that they were being followed by someone, who they suspected and then confirmed was Mr. Stearns' daughter Rafaella. Great pains were taken to shake her off their tail, during which they learned that she also has preternaturally fast reflexes like her father. One of the players wondered aloud if perhaps they're some kind of cat-people.

Making a very roundabout way to the mines, they first checked Lumph's old quarters and found no sign that he had returned but that the wedding invitation they'd left for him was gone. ["Do you think maybe the smuggler guys found it and that's why the smuggler boss showed up at the wedding?"] Shortly thereafter, still on level one, they ran into a wandering band of janussarians who immediately attacked. Between their removable and interchangeable heads (which they also use as missiles), their unshakable morale, and damage resistance to blunt and piercing weapons, they were reminded why they had such a hard time with these guys the first time they met them down on level two. They eventually wiped the whole group out but used up so many resources doing so that they decided to make a quick retreat out of the dungeon. Instead of returning to town they decided to find the farmstead south of the mine that had been rumored to be under attack by werefoxes. Showing off the tails of the gopines they had slain in the dungeons they confirmed that the werefox attacks had stopped and were treated to food and hospitality by the grateful farmers and the session ended there. In about 5 hours of play the total net treasure haul was 0 and the total XP haul was 66 apiece, but they met a lot of new people and picked up a lot of new hooks and rumors that they will (hopefully) begin to follow up on in the next session on April 28th.

With the smaller player group and gathered around a smaller, round table which allowed us to be closer and more easily communicate it was a nice change-of-pace session with a lot of talking both in and out of character. Grain's player was especially thrilled by all the attention and extra detail she got (which included, among other things, detailing her entire family including 9 older siblings of gnome turnip farmers) and after several combat-heavy sessions I think it was a nice reminder than there's more to the game (and, specifically, to this adventure) than just fighting and looting.

Monday, March 18, 2024

Playtest Sessions 8-11

I stopped posting session summaries for my games a few months ago because it seemed like nobody was reading them, but I recently heard from a couple of people who mentioned that they had been following them, and although scheduling conflicts since the holidays have caused the frequency of play to slow down, we are still playing, so here's a quick catch-up of everything since my last update.

Session 8 (December 2023): Continuing to explore the Perlammo Salt Mines, the group ventured into the Experimental Mine where they encountered the janussarians (living automata with detachable heads) and beat a hasty retreat. The established party was joined by two new members in this expedition: Kane, a halfling bard, and Glyptus, the fighter henchman of Eldin the magic-user, who's a total arrogant jerk and a lot of fun for the DM to roleplay. I believe it was during this session that they also learned that their ogre buddy Lumph had gone missing.

Session 9 (January 2024): Rolling on the character catch-up table in Midkemia Press' Cities to see what happened to Grain the thief when she was absent in session #8, we learned that she had received a proposal of marriage, which she accepted. Her spouse-to-be was determined to be Vylma who works at the casino as an Elvish impersonator (though what exactly that means beyond the pun is not entirely clear), with the wedding to occur in two weeks game-time. Wary of another encounter with the janussarians, the group instead ventured down a different stairway which led them to a flooded chapel area populated by various slime-creatures who their weapons weren't able to affect. Eventually they encountered a strange hermit priest with a blue crystal staff that was seemingly able to command the slime creatures, so naturally they killed him and took the staff. Although they didn't bother to learn the command phrase (didn't pay attention when the priest said it...) they found that just wielding the staff was enough to keep the slime creatures at bay, so they looted the priest's treasure (including a nice cache of valuable gems that helped a couple of them level up) and left that area behind. 

Session 10 (February 2024): With everybody (except Glyptus the henchman) now at 3rd-4th level the group finally felt up to challenging the lotus smuggling gang who they've known were in the dungeon pretty much since the beginning but had been studiously avoiding. Thorn the ranger wasn't available, which was okay because he was off training with the druids atop Mt. Hexengippel anyway. On the way out of town they learned that their ally in the outlying shanties, Madame Sanspirella the fortune-teller, had been murdered by a halfling whi gave the name Mr. Underhill and they noticed unfriendly looks being directed by the shanty-dwellers towards their own halfling companion. Upon arriving at the mines, the group ventured down the mechanical lift to level 3 where they found a group of human and half-orc guards waiting for them (the lift makes a lot of noise). Negotiations pretty quickly broke down and a large melee ensued. Sleep spells were deployed, reinforcements were summoned, four half-orc flunkies were convinced to change sides and gave their new boss (Kane the halfling) a brief overview of the level, including where "the giant" lives. Alas, while all this was going on in-game, in real-life the store where we play was literally flooding (this was while Los Angeles was having torrential rainstorms) so we had to end the session early and pause with the party still deep in the dungeon (which I hate to do, but was pretty unavoidable in this circumstance).

Session 11 (March 2024 - yesterday): Eldin's player wasn't available so both he and Glyptus "mysteriously vanished in a way the rest of the group didn't find to be alarming," leaving the group as follows:

Thron: half-orc fighter 4
Grain: gnome thief 4
Kronk: gnome cleric 4
Tares: elf cleric 4
Kane: halfling bard 3 (using the Heroic Legendarium version of the class)
4 half-orc men-at-arms (NPC followers of Kane) - I think he may have named them but I didn't write it down

To start with they counted up and looted the bodies from last session's battle - there were 25 of them in total, from whom they recovered a substantial amount of electrum, gold, and platinum coins, a few gems, and two potions. Grain identified and kept the potion of polymorph (self), Kane was unable to identify the other potion but kept it anyway. Once again nobody bothered to check whether any of the deceased enemies had magical weapons or armor. Instead of heading home they decided to explore some more, and quickly triggered a trap that sent Thron and Grain down a long slide. Kane tied a rope (two ropes) around himself, anchored it to the trap mechanism (a set of gears causing the floor to tilt) and lowered himself down after them. 

At the bottom of the slide Grain and Thorn found themselves in a natural cave where the shadows seemed unusually thick and oppressive, so even their infravision was impaired. They soon realized they weren't alone and some of the shadows were moving. Remembering their previous encounter with such a creature in a previous session (and that now there were 6 of them) they fled down the nearest passage deeper into the unknown. Kane arrived on the scene after they had left, and fled in the same direction, but lost a couple points of strength on the way. On the way out he sent a voice throwing yodel back up the slide telling the rest of the group to follow and help. Both clerics (whose players are kids) decided to slide down the chute head-first ("whee!"), and were immediately ambushed by the shadows, losing multiple strength points. Tares waved his magic staff at them no avail. Kronk remained prone and turtled up but also waved his holy symbol at them, which caused 4 of the 6 to cower away. After some confusion and a couple more lost strength points Tares was convinced to also try using his holy symbol, which successfully turned the other two. About that time the severed rope came tumbling down the chute. Kane's sense of betrayal and anger was palpable. 

The group eventually managed to reunite and set to exploring looking for a way out. The gnomes attempted to estimate their depth underground - Kronk was convinced they were 500' below the surface, Grain thought it was more like 200'. Based on previously having been about 150' down and being able to traverse the chute with 2 50' ropes they suspected Grain's estimate was more likely to be correct. They found another stairway leading further down and decided not to take it. They then found a set of stairs leading up, but only 10' leading to another large shadowy cave occupied by a large number of black-furred dogs. Tares used a speak with animals and was able to convince them not to attack and, in exchange for some rations and assorted monster-bits (which Kronk carries a large a large collection of), get directions towards another up-staircase. After a LOT of climbing, which was invigorating and helped them restore their lost strength points, they arrived at a familiar-seeming location and were able to connect the last big gap on their map, the one unexplored staircase on level one. 

Heading back to the elevator room they didn't seem surprised to find the elevator platform on this level. As they were about to head back down they met up with their companion Thorn the ranger (late-arriving player) bearing news - while training atop Mt. Hexengippel a half-elf named Greenthistle arrived with an alarming take about having been hired to guide a group of adventurers into the Whither Woods, encountering a group of evil man-eating elves who tried to drug and capture them, and following them back to a massive diseased oak-tree with a tunnel opening at its base which the others descended into and never returned [attentive readers may note a non-coincidental resemblance between this account and session 7.5]. Also, upon arriving at the mines, he witnessed a group of around a dozen men - most of them armed soldiers but a pair of civilian-types in robes - leaving the mines, piling into a boat hidden under one of the jetties, and departing. One of the two civilian-types looked like he was being dragged along and didn't want to go.

Back down on level 3 they continued exploring around the south part of the level, avoiding the area where the half-orcs had told them the giant lived, had a nasty encounter with a tentamort ("beach ball with tentacles") that due to some lucky die-rolling ended happily before anyone's viscera got liquified, recovered a ring which Grain the thief was thrilled to learn made her invisible at will, and found the barracks of all the guys they killed last session, but were frustrated not to find any more people (and, strangely, didn't seem to connect the dots about the lift being on level one and the group of guys leaving the dungeon with the fact that these rooms were empty, but whatever). They found a 4' high secret passage but instead of exploring it decided to block it up by barricading junk in front of it. 

Feeling frustrated at not finding anything more to kill, they returned to a chamber they had scouted out earlier and Grain invisibly scouted and found a family of giant lizards dwelling there and a lot of silver coins scattered about. Using a bunch of oil they'd looted from the guard barracks they started a big fire, slew the lizards as they fled from it, and Thron the fighter was happy to discover both that his magic sword has extra potency against reptiles and that the ring he'd looted from one of the smugglers was giving him extra protection, lowering his AC to 0. Kronk dissected the lizard corpses (as per his usual practice) and was happy to find that one of the adults had swallowed several gems. Alas, as they were gathering up the silver coins into a wheelbarrow they heard the sound of heavy footsteps approaching, and quickly fled in the opposite direction back towards the lift. 

As they made their way down the wide central hallway they glanced back and saw a 9' tall hideously deformed being wielding a huge club in one hand and an enormous conch shell in the other giving chase (despite his uneven legs and shuffling gait) crying out "what have you done to my pets?!" Definitely wanting nothing to do with that, Kane used the brambled refrain to block his path, giving the party enough time to pile onto the lift platform.

All in all a pretty enjoyable time was had by all, and after 6 weeks off it felt good to get back into the flow. Kane the bard pocketed enough unshared treasure to allow him to hit 4th level, and due to his magic ring Thron is getting close to hitting 5th. Next session should include Grain's wedding at the casino, and we'll see what else they decide to do now that they've pretty well cleaned out the mine dungeons and have a ton of other active hooks to explore.

Still no ETA on the eventual release of the book, but I'm very happy with how the playtest has gone so far and have picked up assorted minor editing and cleanup notes but nothing that requires major retooling. The guy who's re-rendering my hand-drawn maps has sent me some WIP drafts and they're looking great! Artwork is still TBD but the recent Hungarian-language release of Melonath Falls includes a ton of great original commissioned art that the publisher (Gabor Lux of E.M.D.T.) has been kind enough to give me the rights to re-use in my own English-language version, which will definitely help. 

Friday, February 9, 2024

Adventure Site Review

Hi everybody. I wrote two page mini-adventure for the Coldlight Press Adventure Site Contest and it got a nice positive review:

Once all the contest entries have been reviewed (there were 18 of them) the top ones will be compiled into a free pdf, as was done with the NoArtpunk contest. If mine makes the cut for that I’ll let everybody know. If it doesn’t, I’ll probably post it here. It’s set in the same area as Brink of Calamity so could be added to that book instead, but since that manuscript is effectively done (pending future playtesting-derived editing) I think I’d rather make this a stand-alone add-on, like an old fashioned “web enhancement” from the early 00s. 

Monday, November 27, 2023

Bonus session (#7.5)

Although the players from the main group were all busy with Thanksgiving festivities, I had visitors from out of town who wanted to play, so we had a game on Saturday.

Cast of Characters:

Thorgrim (Dwarf Cleric 4)

Rebecca (Elf Fighter 4)

Baron (war dog, who Thorgrim can speak with due to a Knack)

These two had done some exploration in the Perlammo Salt Mines (at Thanksgiving last year), but having heard rumors that another group of adventurers had pretty thoroughly cleaned that area out decided to look for other adventuring opportunities. At the Grand Casino of Boreon they met Greenthistle, a renegade half-elf from the Whither Woods, who offered to serve as a guide in that area and lead them to the elves' best treasures. They also picked up a rumor of an enchanter in town named Nestor who had disappeared into the woods some months back, after possibly having gone insane. So, defying the prohibition on non-elves entering that forest they took off in that direction, planning to tell any elves they ran across that they were looking for their missing friend Nestor (and figuring that, with Rebecca herself being an elf, albeit a meadow-dwelling high elf from the north, that should be sufficient to avoid them being summarily slain). 

After a few days crawling through the woods they had various minor encounters, including an unfriendly hermetic pig farmer who they suspect was likely Nestor the insane ex-enchanter, and picked up vague rumors that the elves in the western part of the forest had gone wild and strange. However, when they encountered the elf village of Willowtarn, the inhabitants were surprisingly non-hostile, and in exchange for Thorgrim healing an injured elf-maid with a broken leg offered them food and hospitality, including a strange herbal tea that they call the soma. The party became increasingly suspicious as they noticed a distinct lack of the otherwise-ubiquitous mundane wildlife (squirrels, birds, etc) around the village, as well as a lack of any elf-children or spellcasters, and that many of the village's dwellings and trees showed signs of old but unrepaired scorching and battle damage. Greenthistle the guide was particularly unnerved and insisted these elves were not acting normally at all, and discreetly refused to sample any of their food or soma (the other two did sample both, but were unaffected, perhaps due to Thorgrim's naturally strong dwarfish constitution and the magical periapt Rebecca had acquired on a previous adventure). They were shown to a hut to spend to the night, that upon examination appeared to have been the home of a druid but was dusty and neglected and hadn't been inhabited for some time. Realizing that some elves were standing giard outside their hut Thorgrim cast a discreet Know Alignment and upon scanning the guards confirmed his suspicion that they were, in fact, chaotic evil, so they decided to sneak out of the village rather than waiting for morning, and managed to do so successfully.

When morning came they spotted a group of elves on a path headed west out of the village and followed them to a blighted area where all of the trees and other plants were infected with various molds and fungi, and eventually to a massive (200' tall) oak tree in the center of the blighted patch, with a 10' diameter shaft at its base which the elves descended into. Greenthistle declined to follow the party into the hole, so they made arrangements for him to travel back to a meeting place a couple miles away and wait for their return.  

Inside the hole they found a series of narrow winding tunnels dug into the muddy earth but, unable to determine which way the elves had gone, went wandering and encountered various unpleasant fungal monsters, most notably a patch of black moss that drained 24 hours of Thorgrim's memory, leaving him very confused about where he was and why. Rebecca informed him the moss had done it and that he needed to destroy it before she too was affected in the same way. Thorgrim's only current memory was that Rebecca had told him to destroy the moss patch, so they did so, but were then at a loss for where they were or what to do, until Thorgrim found a map drawn in his own hand showing a path from the elf village and a set of tunnels. A quick consultation with Baron the dog confirmed that they were missing a day of memory but had followed the elves here from the village and that the elves were enemies. Alas, nobody knew or remembered what had become of Greenthistle the guide (because Baron the dog doesn't understand people language to know what Thorgrim and Rebecca had discussed with him). 

Some further exploration brought them into contact with a group of elf guards who they captured and interrogated, learning that they are followers of Ianthe the dryad who dwells beneath this great oak and supplies them with the soma. Asking how long she had been doing so, the elves were unable to answer, and their best guess was "umm, forever?" Venturing into the next chamber they encountered a group of fungus-men who were too strong and numerous to fight so they fled back to the surface with their elf-prisoners in tow. Taking those prisoners back to the oak of the dryad Eulalia (whom they had previously encountered in their earlier wanderings) she was vexed to hear that her sister was causing trouble (but also unsurprised, since she hadn't heard from her in a long time) but, unable to do anything about it herself, directed them instead to the nearby elf-village of Glenbrook.

After Rebecca explained to the inhabitants of that village what they had encountered and handed over their prisoners, the chief druid Moonmist examined them, as well as the supply of food and soma the party had recovered from their camp, and confirmed that the food was tainted and the elves were under a malign influence of unknown origin, and that something strange is definitely afoot since dryads aren't normally familiar with herbalism and certainly not anything based around mold or fungi. A contingent of elves from Glenbrook village joined with the party as they returned to the caves beneath Ianthe's oak where the group did battle with and defeated the first batch of 16 fungus men, but used up so many of their resources in that battle and, hearing another group approaching from deeper within the tunnels, expeditiously retreated back to their village, bringing the session to an end.

Although these two explored a lot of ground and did a lot of fighting (and had a lot of fun and wanted to keep going but it had gotten too late), they recovered negligible treasure and almost everything they fought in the dryad-cave is capable of respawning, so it's likely their activity will have negligible visible impact on the area if and when the other party makes their way here. The one definite consequence is that Greenthistle the guide, after waiting most of the day at the appointed meeting spot, fled back to civilization with a new rumor to spread to anyone who will listen at the Casino - about the village of evil elves deep in the Whither Woods, the fungal-blighted giant oak tree with a cave-entrance at its base, and the group of adventurers who descended into that cave and never returned! Will that story be sufficiently intriguing to draw the attention of our other adventuring party away from the Perlammo Salt Mines? Unlikely, since they seem very single-minded and meticulous in their focus on that location, but we'll find out one way or the other this coming Sunday...

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Lucky session #7

Another action-heavy session as the party continued the Gopine Holocaust. 

Regular cast:

Kronk - Gnome Cleric 3 (Boreon)

Grain Tobblefoot - Gnome Thief 3

Thron Hammersmash - Half-orc Fighter 3

Tares - Elf Cleric 3 (Boreon)

Eldin - Human Magic-user 2

Thorn - Half-elf Ranger 2

While most of the group was training they acquired some more rumors about various outdoor locations and feel like they’re getting a pretty full picture of all the plot threads active in the area but chose once again to return to the Perlammo Salt Mines where they had unfinished business with the gopines dwelling on level 2. On their way in they discovered that the rope ladder they’ve been using to enter and exit the dungeon had been sabotaged, but used their own ropes to repair the damage before anyone fell. 

Venturing down into gopine territory things got violent quickly, with a running battle across several rooms and the group briefly cornered between two squads. A sleep spell evened the odds a bit, but the robust gopine boss, armored in elfin mail and dual-wielding a dagger and a magic rapier, did a lot of damage before he fell, causing the party to use up all their healing magic. 

Having fought their way to an open escape route with a door spiked shut behind them they retreated back to level one to regroup, but the last of the gopines - the lieutenants - gave chase and caught our heroes by surprise. Another sleep spell failed to decimate them and things were getting ugly - Kronk the cleric unconscious and everyone else reduced to single digit hit points. Eldin the magic-user was forced to use his potion of fire breath, but even so it was dicey until Lumph the ogre, friend of the party and hated foe of the gopines, heard the sounds of battle and joined the fray. 

Grain Tobblefoot received enough XP to hit 4th level. Thron kept the gopine boss’ magic rapier and Thorn the ranger claimed his armor (which fit him but was too big for the gnomes). With some time remaining at the end of the session Eldin the magic-user decided to exploit his 16 charisma by hiring some henchmen. He got responses from two prospects: a fighter and another magic-user. As we left off he was debating whether to offer employment to one or both. 

We’ll see what happens in the next session on December 3rd. 

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Next session (#6)

 The party was short-handed again today (as Elden the magic-user wasn’t able to make it), but with almost everybody at 2nd level (and Kronk the cleric at 3rd) they were feeling confident enough to carry on, and had a dramatic but successful expedition:

Cast of characters;

Kronk - Gnome Cleric 3 (Boreon)

Grain Tobblefoot - Gnome Thief 2

Thron Hammersmash - Half-orc Fighter 2

Tares - Elf Cleric 2 (Boreon)

Thorn - Half-elf Ranger 1

As they were preparing their next incursion into the Salt Mine dungeons they learned that strangers have been making inquiries about them in Creektown and that they need to keep a low profile and possibly relocate to someplace safer. Arriving in the dungeon they learned that people have also inquired about them with Lumph the ogre and apparently bribed him with brown lotus powder.

With that ominous warning the group decided to avoid the area where the lotus smugglers are known to congregate and instead headed down the back stairs they had discovered to the area where they had previously fought the sun-spiders. Exploring around that area they met another wandering sun-spider and finally encountered the fox-people (who were generally hostile). Deciding to avoid their area they instead explored the northern part of the level, where they had a close call with some shadows, an even closer call with some poisonous spiders (and learned about the unforgiving nature of poison in 1E, but also that holy water has an alternate use - and a reminder about the value of joss factors), and decided some scorpions weren’t worth the risk, but also found and looted a secret alchemical laboratory. 

However, as their explorations took them further south they accidentally triggered an alarm alerting the fox-people, including an illusionist who caused a lot of havoc before they were able to defeat him (but at the cost of Grain the thief again being knocked below 0 hp). Fleeing back to their secret hideaway to regroup, they realized that in order to get back to the surface they had to either explore new areas in hopes of finding another exit, cross back through the realm of the sun-spiders, or back through the realm of the fox-people. A well-deployed silence spell from Kronk the cleric allowed them to successfully sneak past the latter and make it out. 

Back at home they used a detect magic spell on several jewels and other loot they had recovered hoping for magic items, but not finding any, decided to sell it all off through a fence they met in town, and learned another lesson about the high GP/XP value of jewelry (to the tune of 1600 XP apiece). This was enough to bring Thorn up to 2nd level, Thron and Tares to 3rd, and Grain (who had pocketed another 1000 GP necklace) not only to 3rd but with enough leftover that she would have hit 4th if only the rules allowed it.

With most of the party now at 3rd level and the party MU expected to return we’ll see what they decide to do in the next session on November 19th. 

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Playtest Session #5

Action-packed session today, which was nice after two kind of flat ones in a row. Back at full strength, the group ventured back into the Perlammo Salt Mines first to get done well-deserved revenge upon the best of stink bugs who had almost wiped them out the week before, and then to take on the encampment of goblins who were the only significant encounter area remaining on the first level. 

Cast of characters:

Kronk - Gnome Cleric 2 (Boreon)

Grain Tobblefoot -Gnome Thief 2

Thron Hammersmash - Half-orc Fighter 1

Tares - Elf Cleric 1 (Boreon)

Elden - Human Magic-user 1

Thorn - Half-elf Ranger 1

The two players who’d missed last session were forced to roll on the Character Catch-up table in Midkemia Press’s Cities to determine what befell them during their downtime, and it was nothing good: both were mugged and lost their cash on hand, Thorn was also scammed and lost 1/3 of his banked money and Elden learned that his father had died but was too broke to travel to attend his funeral. So, facing desperate financial straits, they decided to rejoin their adventuring companions. 

Scouting around the goblin hideout they managed to keep the goblins’ wolves quiet, used a sleep spell to eliminate the first set of guards, made quick work of another set, barricaded the door through which reinforcements were approaching, got into a bloody but ultimately successful brawl against the goblin bosses, and ended up finishing off the last of them in a two-front battle. 28 goblins in all were sent screaming to the Nine Hells. 

Looting the boss’s chamber they recovered some minor treasures and a mysterious and very heavy wizard-locked iron chest. They also found four cowering non-combatant goblin cooks who they interrogated and then dispatched, which inspired two of the party to change their alignment to Chaotic Neutral.  

Thorn the ranger convinced his companions to fire the captive wolves and led them out of the dungeon and then, heavily laden with treasure, they made their way back to town. 

Alas, the combat XP and bulky but not-especially-valuable treasure wasn’t enough to bring them up to 2nd level (with Elden the magic-user painfully coming up 18 XP short). However, they had recovered a letter from the goblin boss that they were unable to decipher (though they did determine in was in the Chaotic Evil alignment language) and decided it was worth paying Geromini, their NPC magic-user friend in town, to cast Comprehend Languages on it. Once translated, the letter gave them the password to open the chest, which was filled with 50 gold ingots, intended as a bribe from the Goblin King of the Palm March to the chieftain of the Blue Goblins of Melonath Falls, and the value of this haul turned a break-even expedition into a major victory, worth enough XP to level up not just Elden but also Thron, Tares, and Kronk (to 3rd). Only Thorn the ranger still fell a bit shy.

Next session is on November 5th. Having effectively cleaned out the first level of the mines we’ll see where they decide to go next - whether to the lower levels of the mine or one of the several other areas nearby they’ve gathered rumors about. 

Edit: Fun addendum - while we were playing one of the players got a text from her sister who was attending GsmeHoleCon (in Madison, WI) that she was at that same moment playing in a game run by Luke Gygax (5E, I assume, but still pretty neat). Alas, their story didn’t have the same happy ending ours did: their party got TPKd.