This site is an online accumulation of the Post Reports for my current ongoing D&D Campaign - for anyone who might be interested in reading them.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Meet 112, Adv 6, 4/16/16

The party came upon a section of the adventure that I had written in as a lark but is not needed for the adventure itself. It's got a bit more powerful enemies and issues with it, plus there is the possibility for some world changing effects if they follow it to the end.

My favorite part though are the enchanted boats - one's a barge, the other a sloop. Both obviously royal in line and design, well maintained and fancifully carved, the type of ship you could picture any well heeled noble to own.

And they both can kick ass. Right now they are still learning about them but if they can figure out how best to drive them, they have some wonderful things at their fingertips and under their boots.

Write up follows:

With the snowfall continuing we were unwilling to risk leaving now or soon and went over our food stores, which were pitiful. Two days, tops? There was talk about clearing out the former garden bed along the courtyard and planting the potatoes while Flimflam performed a plant growth spell on them. This would triple the potato portion of our rations after a couple of spells and should give us another two days at the end of all things.

But where do we go? Back to Varohlem and face the Baron? Lie to him about what we found or just bow to the agreement we made and give him half? What about if he tried to take it all? Could we risk taking the river all the way and not running into problems? None of us were boatmen and we’d have to either steal one or pay off someone else to take us, and the rivermen were all pretty tight and connected to the Baron.

What about skipping Varohelm and going overland? That would mean we’d have to risk the giant cats and the Reisenvald that wander the woods. There were also according to the locals the former orc enclave to the north near Stormbringer Peak and the other wizard’s former base. Do we go there? How does the Skychariot fit in? We’d need horses to run it properly but we didn’t have any and the people of Varohelm had ponies, oxen, and donkeys. Not going to help us much.

We mulled these over for almost an hour while the snow fell and then split up the party a bit with a number of the people slogging to the courtyard and clear off the snow to start tearing the old planting beds apart. Steiner, Geld, Tranis, Flimflam, Avidius, and Erd were going to head river to what we could see at the limit of visibility was some sort of lake and seemed to a small falls that fed the river here. Marcs was left in charge and the rest of the group was working hard to bring the gardens out in the open.

We trudged out of Castle Sterling, the bar dropping in place as we walked away. We stayed near the river but not too close where we might fall in or slip, the snow billowing against our faces, a trail forming in the foot deep plus drifts. It took us almost 25 minutes to walk to 1/3 of a mile across the snow covered swampy ground, the land sloping up as we went further uphill and towards the lake. We could see the river was blocked by an ancient dam of fitted stones. It was wide, 70’ or so, and the top had water running over the 8’+ width of the stones there. We could not tell how tall the dam was but we assumed it was over 30’ based upon the depth of the river here.

The space beyond the dam was blocked up, forming a lake roughly a quarter mile wide by a half mile long. Abutting the dam on the far shore was a squat house of formed stone, maybe 25’ square, and a couple of small windows looking out. We could risk getting there by crossing the top of the dam but the rushing water and freezing temperature made everyone uncomfortable with that idea.

On our side of the lake, another 2-300’ beyond the dam was a leaning boathouse. From here we could see the doors were still closed and the roof although sagging, still seemed sound. With little conversation, we headed to the boathouse to check it out. There were two doors to enter but were currently closed and choked with snow. So we used our shovels and then crowbars to pry the door open and finally peer inside.

The boathouse was roughly 100’ wide and 50’ deep, with most of it constructed so it was actually built over the lake. Over the years it had settled slightly and leaned into the lake. There were three docks inside and 2 boats tied up to them. One was a single masted sloop that would seat 6 or 7, and the other was a 3 ton travel barge, rear ruddered and looked like 8 rowers from below decks to power it. The group decided the check out the barge first. Getting on it was difficult since the pier was in poor shape and the landing ramp was down the end of the pier. Flimflam dared it and Avidius used Darkblade to port himself onto the deck of the barge. Together the two friends then dragged the landing ramp onboard and then thrust it over the back of the barge to the back of the boathouse.

Everyone now on board we looked around. The deck was gritty and dirty, but the ropes, anchors, and poles and gaffs were put away properly. There was a set of steps going down to the cargo hold and the center of the deck did lift away to drop cargo below this way. We went below, the ceiling was only 6’ and most of us had to duck. A set of hammocks and a simple galley was near the bow, and towards the back was the captain’s quarters. We looked in and noted it was pretty empty and sodden from over a decade of poor weather.

The mattress was a mess and the papers had all turned to pulp. There was a flop-desk near the aft but the blotter that once sat on it was now gone. Scratched into the wood were the numbers “4763” which we noted. There was a foot locker that was still sealed and inside was the barge captain formal dress: shirt, pants, hat, and boots. The bottom of the footlocker was not level with the ground and some digging and prying had us lift it and reveal a handful of gold and silver coins as well as a number of fancy stones. Nice.

As for the captain’s belongings, Steiner and Avidius got into a good natured back and forth on who owns it with the priest claiming the medallioned tri-corner hat as his own and refused to take it off. All that was left was to check out the bilge and for that we made our way to the front of the cargo deck and lifted the bilge hatch. It was dark down there, and the odor wasn’t that bad. A quick light was used and we saw the bilge area was about 18” tall above water and minimal decking which was a single length of wood that ran the length of the keel into the darkness of the ship. The water was dark and we guessed perhaps a foot or so deep. No one wanted to touch it.

Flimflam volunteered to crawl the length of the bilge and make sure nothing was down there so he made his way within, and on hands and knees, crawled along the boards towards the back of the ship. It was while he was almost there that he noted a box on the decking against the back of the barge by the rudder shield. It was a foot and a half by a foot by 8 inches, had no obvious lid or seams, and was held in place by 4 silver chains that connected each corner to the hull of the barge. WTF?

Avidius? Can you come down here and check this out? The thief good naturedly grumbled his way into the smelly barge and crawled to the druid. Swapping places they took a look at it and he was sure it wasn’t trapped but didn’t see how to open it. When he said “Open up” though, the top of the box lifted away with a faint hum and we looked inside. There was an elongated dried heart that the chains of the box ran through and were buried in the flesh – pulling it taut. Flimflam asked to see any magic and the box/heart glowed, along with the chains, and faintly the base of the barge. Crap – the barge was magical. Flimflam was convinced the heart was from some sort of giant avian, a Roc maybe?

The two of them ran from the bilge and we followed them as they went to the top deck and back to the rudder where they looked through the fanciful carvings on everything and there it was, right in the middle of the rudder handle, a spread winged bird taking up a lot of the surface. We wanted to try the barge out.

So two of us went down the cargo deck where they each grabbed an oar and prepared themselves. Steiner, still wearing the captain’s hat, took his place at the helm. Tranis worked the pulleys overhead until the ropes went taut and the boathouse doors leading the lake slowly opened. The last two brought the landing ramp aboard and then used the guide poles to push us off the pier and out into the water.

The barge was difficult to maneuver, plus we only had 1/4th of the oars manned, and the rudder did turn but it was slow and with almost no forward momentum, Steiner couldn’t get much out of it. We then looked for levers, switches – none. So that left Steiner calling out and willing and trying things. It was “up” that triggered something. The barge shuddered under our feet and then majestically rose out of the water until only the keel and the rudder were left on the lake. The oars still were able to function and the entire 3 ton travel barge was hovering 2’ out of the water.

Now when we maneuvered the barge it went much better, the massive vessel skipping along as very little of it was actually in the water! We were able to get it up to a fast walking speed and the turns were sharp and easy as the barge listed over. We also were able to coast a bit but when Steiner took his hands off the rudder the barge crumped back down to the lake surface. Testing a bit more he was able to get us to come down smoother if he said “down”.

So now we wanted to test out the single masted sloop, so we drove the barge back to the boathouse, turned it around, and back paddled it into place. Once there we tied it back up and pulley shut the doors. Steiner left the captain’s hat back in the captain’s quarters and we made our way off the barge and onto the sloop.

It was smaller, still very well made, and in decent condition. We climbed aboard and looked around. The sail was wrapped against the boom and tied in place; the rudder was at the back of the boat and had a single seat there. There was seating for 6 others and the bilge hatch was near the rudder but was smaller, perhaps 2’ square tops.

We looked around and found a space under the helmsman’s seat that had another box with 6 silver chains and a chunk of lumpy grey metal banded to the transom. We looked in the box and found the chains went through it until they were lodged in an elongated and stretched heart – this one some sort of feline (according to our druid).

So we went to pole the sloop out of the dock after opening the bay doors and realized that with the slow sinking of the boat house over the years, the mast did not clear the lintel anymore. We thought of different ways to drop the sloop 4-6 inches to get it to clear but it was Steiner, hand on the tiller who said “down” and the front of the boat literally dove down and water started to flow over the gunwales. “Up! Up! Up!” and the boat righted itself. We heard water racing into the bilge and the deck eventually cleared with water.

Ok, trying it again, Steiner held the rudder tight and willed the sloop “down” again until the mast cleared the lintel, then we poled ourselves out of the house and he relaxed it and though up and we returned to normal. It took us almost 15 minutes to learn to raise and lower the single sail but once we did, it became a breeze.

We then put the boat through its paces and tried out a bunch of scenarios. It was fast, like a horse cantering sort of fast. Also, it could jump; 7’ up and with a full sail, 60’ across. The jumps and drops played havoc on the passengers and we were jostled a bunch. The situation got more interesting when Steiner mused back on the down thing, wondering why it would do that? So tentatively said down…and the sloop nosed over and dived.

Water washed in front of us, up and up and up until we were below the water in a bubble of air. The deck around the mast was now glowing in a white circle that as we watched, a sliver appeared along the 12 o clock position and then slowly, slowly crawled to the right. We could stick our hands out the side of the boat and touch the water with no negative impacts. And we kept up the decent speed under the water.

We sailed about a bit before resurfacing and then feeling confident, decided that we were going to dock it over on the opposite shore near the dam house. So we got closer and closer and then the sail was dropped but the sloop nosed up and actually rode up on the land at least 7’! What the hell? We raised sail again and Steiner was able to drive the sloop on the land until it nosed back into the water. The boat goes on land. Very nice.

We drove it back around, pulled up to the dock and once more docked it partially on land. From there we disembarked and tied the boat up at a cypress tree that was close to the water and then turned as one to enter the dam house.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Meet 111, Adv 6, 4/2/16

The big drive for this adventure was to go and get the magic weapons that had been commissioned by the former Tower Master (Cornelius) 13 years ago. The group now has them and spent some time playing with them in order to see what they might do. Most of them have been identified at this time to some degree and the party seems pleased with their haul.

They also came upon a broken cart called a Sky Chariot. It was here and was supposed to be worked on by Erazmus but hadn't gotten around to it before him and Ceril had their falling out and combat. What was great was watching the party in real time go around the table and brainstorm the various ways to fix the cart and to do so with the tools and skills available at the table and in the Castle. I don't like "one roll and the problem is gone" bull and prefer the older 1st/2nd edition way of talking out the problems and solutions so this was pretty wonderful to see the group do.

I hope they appreciate the potential greatness that the Sky Chariot could mean for them as I know for a fact that down the path, I have some situations coming up that this item would come in very handy.

Write up follows:

We carefully took the weapons out of the vault area and then in turn manhandled the chariot the same way. The chariot had the right wheel missing 3 spokes and 6 of them were split. Plus, the axle (3” diameter hollow pipe) had a split on the right side about 2 and a half feet long.

Once in the dining room we each spent some time practicing with the weapons and getting a feel for them. Three of them were sort of brutish, and three of them had a finesse to them. But we spent the time testing them out and doling them about the party. Firstly was the broadsword “Hew” which not only gave forth a white glow while wielded, but the glow could intensify as needed by the wielder. Steiner took this one.

The other broadsword, “Darkblade” was claimed by Avidius who not only felt the watery dark steel was preternaturally sharp, but on some practice cuts was able to dimension door himself up to 40’ away 3 times a day with the eldritch weapon. The spear, “Defender of Sparta” was adorned with markings of Zeus, Ares, and Athena and Erd put the weapon through its practices. He did note though that when he began practicing with the weapon defensively, that the spear leapt in place to deflect what few blows were aimed his way.

Geld was given the boar spear, “Garrund’s Breaker” and it was only after a few strong thrusts that Marcus’ henchman found out the spear played havoc on shields with punishing blows. Speaking of “Havoc”, it was the name of the battle hammer and Flimflam put the meteoric iron headed maul through its paces. It gave forth a green glow and even though it was heavy headed, the gnomish druid was able to handle it with ease showing proficiency with it that he normally didn’t have.

Lastly was “Night’s Father”, the short bow, which Tranis was given. He couldn’t seem to get anything from it but the group realized with its name that it might only work after sunset (it was about noon now) so we shelved it for later.

The chariot was going to need some work. It also had a dweomer to it, and with the carvings of Poseidon and Apollo adorning it, we wanted to make sure it would survive the trip so we started to look at what we could do to repair it. Some mending spells on the split spokes would help, but we were still 3 shy and the axle was going to need to be patched as well, and a mend spell would not suffice.

Taulib, Corane, and a few others started work on carving some new spindles from the remains of the chairs in the dining room while the party broke for lunch. From there we discussed every possible iteration on the chariot and how to fix it from a new axle to fill to carve to repair to whatever.

We took the busted wheel off (luckily between our henchmen and hirelings we had a number of carpenters, wheelwrights, and teamsters at our disposal) and took a better look at the broken axle. The axle was 3” in diameter, with the inner hole being a bit under 1”, meaning the wall of the axle was ½” thick and 7’ long. The decision was made to fill it.

We had tons of pewter dishes, bowls, and mugs in the dining room so the party took three of the largest cast iron cook pots, lit a hot fire in the stove, and loaded the pots on the stove with the pewter within so it would melt over time. We then went out in the snow (it was snowing, and quite a bit!) and pried up a few cobbles from the courtyard. From there we dug down until we hit a clay mixture and brought in buckets of the clay which we packed around the split to keep the eventual molten pewter from coming out.

We then dragged the axle and the one wheel still attached to the center stair, stood it vertical, and then built a number of wooden braces against it so it wouldn’t shift. We didn’t have a funnel so we took a double handled cooking pot and had Marcus pound the crap out of the bottom and then auger it until he managed to make a reverse dimple and a hole. Taking the pot up to the landing we made a platform at the bend in the stairs, attached the two chains to the pot to hold it in place and positioned the hole right over the hole in the axle. Perfect.

With everyone ready and the place cleared, we had three people bring the pots of molten pewter in one at a time and climb the stairs to the funnel held in place. Just before they started pouring, Steiner called out to Apollo and cast Heat Metal on the axle, raising the temperature of the iron pole and allowing the molten pewter to maintain its properties and make it all the way to the bottom of the pipe.

It worked wonderfully. We needed two pots of molten pewter to fill the axle and then let it sit and cool after it was completed. Instead of mending, Flimflam cast woodshape on the axles that were broken and fixed them that way, while the three others that had been carved were reset in the wheel. It was about 5:30 at this time and we all decided to let everything sit for a while and retreat out of the castle back to the tower with our wood and rest there tonight.

While the majority of the group got dinner going and warmed up, Tranis and Flimflam returned to Castle Sterling to hunt the lone cat still wandering the halls and test out the ranger’s magic bow. With the sun now down and the evening deepening, Tranis was able to feel the bow come to life. While holding it it gave him superior infravision and when they tracked the cat to the servant’s hall and laundry room, the arrows flew fasters, straighter, and truer. Plus, we killed the cat.

They took its body back to the tower and the party ate (not the cat) and then rested. We slept the night and awoke the next day to see over a foot of snow on the ground and MORE falling today. The temperature was in the low teens and might hit mid 20’s today tops.

Today the party wanted to test out the chariot so we dug a path from the doors, maneuvered it outside, and then hitched it up to our two mules. Steiner was on board as a priest of Apollo and Flimflam was as well as a druid to help inspire the donkeys to run. We had a few hirelings help to drive it as we puttered our way back and forth across the courtyard.

The mules did their best but were not inspired to really “run” so to speak. What they did though was move quick enough that everyone noticed little bits of flame and fire dance up from the sides and spokes of the chariot only to disappear again a moment later. We had to get faster.

So we cleared out a larger area of the courtyard coaxed the donkeys to the end, turned them around, and then everyone did all they could to cajole, coax, plead, and drive the donkeys to their top speed.

And it worked. They trudged and the cart made these chuffing noises and the fires grew more consistent and then there was a solid “WHOOSH” sound and the cart burst into flames. The flames rolled across the wheels and also seemed to spark out from under the donkey’s hooves. And the skychariot lived up to its name and arced upwards at a 30 degree angle and took to the sky, fire roiling about it.

This of course terrified the donkeys who slowed down and the cart chuffed loudly and from 8’ off the ground angled back down and crashed to the snow covered cobbled the two donkeys frightened and kicking their braces, and the right wheel made a snapping sound and two more spokes on that side busted (but the axle held!) and the fires extinguished.

Once we calmed the animals down and unhitched them, we dragged the chariot back inside Castle Sterling and basked in our good fortune but were now unsure how to get it to work for us since the donkeys don’t seem to run fast enough and were terrified enough to drop from the sky.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Meet 110, Adv 6, 3/26/16

There are some monsters as a DM I never get to play with for obvious reasons - the beholder is one of them. When I wrote this up long ago, there was a beholder in the dungeon. In the intervening decades I've moved it around a bit but wanted to make sure it stayed there.

But I don't like the idea of insta-kill and the group is only about 4/5th level. So I nerfed it a bit - took out the Ray of Death and the Disintegrate eye. I also changed the Charm to Sleep, and then changed the Flesh to Stone to Immolation (1d8 damage - 3 rounds). Then I let it fly.

And the damned mage took permanent hit point and constitution damage to empower the ring of power he had to shrink the damned thing down. Even then I said with the anti-magic eye (even though it wasn't looking at the mage) it was a 1/3 chance to save. And the dice showed it failed and the beholder was killed in two shots.

Now, the party had spent a week agonizing over this cliff-hanger fight with a beholder and had tactics up the whazoo - so when it was over in two hits, they were sort of stunned and giddy.

So after the total fight was done, I said lets redo it - but this time without the ring working.

And even with the nerfing, it was pretty much a TPK. The Beholder and the Cat Statues tore the group apart and the way they were positioned around the room, I was able to use every eye pretty much every round (when fighting a beholder is limited on the number of eyes he/she can bear down in a given direction). So we had two people survive - the thief played possum and stabilized at 0 hp until the fight was over where he then scavenged healing and then went to the mage and had the ring of power turn him to 1/24th of his size - from which he then ran to the door of the mage's tower an slipped underneath. And the druid after getting telekinesised into the ceiling and walls and beaten to death wild shaped into a mouse after playing possum and at battle end grabbed the ring of power from the floor in his mouth and followed the thief into the tower.

The other 18 people, animals, and hirelings? All killed - some of them terribly.

With an unnerfed Beholder I have no idea how a 9th level party even has a chance.

Write up follows:

Avidius felt himself pulled forward, escaping the notice of the closest growling cat, his preternatural sword skipping him across the floor in order to strike the beholder before anyone had a chance to get caught in the flailing rays starting to scintillate in the aberration’s many eyes. However, before he could strike, Marcus had an internal battle of wills and an accord with the Ring of Power he was wearing and pointed the copper band in the monster’s direction.

His body was cannibalized as it empowered the arcanic energies of the artifact, his life essence siphoning away as it fueled the titanic energies of the ring and send a blast of yellow and white fire to bathe the beholder. It surrounded the beast, the magic fading and rippling away as it passed before its central eye. However, the ring’s power and Marcus’ sacrifice could not be so easily brushed aside. The encasing bolt of magic crept inexorably around the monster, pushing the anti-magic aura further inward until the circle was complete and the monster was engulfed. There was a large “Whooshing” sound followed by a scream and the beholder collapsed inward on itself until it was reduced to roughly 2 ½ inches in diameter and floating very slowly as it struggled to escape.

Avidius, seeing a much smaller target now, skittered to a slide and swung his sword up, slamming into the now 1/24th size beholder. The cut went deep, spinning the aberration wildly as it tried to right itself. One of its eyes sent forth a blinding blast which hit Avidius but it was much smaller and weaker – succeeding in blinding the thief but not permanently. And then Tranis took aim from across the room and let fly.

And the shaft blew through the beholder, skewering it like an apple, before hitting the wall on the opposite side of the chamber and coming to a stop.

Beholder dead.

Three stone cats left to fight.

One of them was instantly shut down by a blast from Marcus’ dispel rod and the last two did their efforts to take the party down but they were unable to do anything more than wound a few of us before they were broken and smashed to pieces.

The fight over we examined the dead beholder and noted that its anti-magic gaze was still working and seemed to have a limit around 3 inches or so. In order to keep the beholder’s special skill available for us, we carefully pulled the arrow free from its body and then cast gentle repose on it – preventing it from decaying for the next 5 days until we get a chance to stuff it or preserve it permanently.

Some healing was dispensed and then the party had the chance to look in the cylinder vault at what the beholder had been guarding. There were 2 broad swords, a boar spear, a regular spear, a short bow, a stout battle hammer, and a 2 wheeled-low walled chariot that showed some damage.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Meet 109, Adv 6, 3/19/16

The party has not stumbled on real treasure for a long time so when they were exploring Castle Sterling and came to the Vault and pulled back and the Treasury and pulled back, the inner DM was yelling at them "You're so close!" 

After resting though they did the further exploration and did indeed find not only the soft treasure of the wine bottles but the hard treasure of the coins in the coffers. Good for them! Now they just need a way to transport 8 stone coffers out of the swampy castle and 22 days of hard travel back to Shakun and home!

Write up follows:

We decided to give the castle a once over and opted to start with the downstairs and the entrance room we had first come in. It was a parlor and the torches we had lit the day before had burned out. But the room showed a set of double stairs on the north wall that headed up to the 2nd floor (and most likely the spider filled room we had recently been in). There were many other doors in here and we assumed that some led to the halls and others deeper in the castle. Whatever the case, we took stock of our situation and opted to eat lunch for now and maybe hand out some healing.

A trip out to the donkeys in the tower showed they were still ok but the temperature was dropping. We refilled their feed bags and made sure they had water before getting food stuffs off the packs and bringing them back to the castle for us to eat. Some lesser restorations were also doled out and it took much of the drain off our party. Good berries were also eaten and we all felt much better. It was after 3 when we wrapped up lunch and wanted to explore some more. The door from the parlor on the right hand side, north wall was the best choice to hit next. It revealed a kitchen in some decent condition. There was a pantry as well (empty) and a set of double doors went from here to the spacious dining room – three tables and seating for 40. From here we wanted to explore the hallways and settled on the eastern halls first.

It was long, the length of the castle, with a few side corridors that we explored with care first. It was dark and Avidius, Tranis, and Viridia gave the areas a once over. The walls down one of the side narrow corridors led to an alcove area with a collapsed couch, the walls were moldy and the air smelled foul. We decided to give it a wide berth and retreated to the main hall. From here we walked north and made a right down the further corridor.

Some investigation showed it came to another area with smaller halls and rooms, from the site and spaces we passed through, we suspected these might be the guards’ chambers and corridors. The party wanted to find the Castellan’s office; this was not the right direction. The Castellan should be near the front of the castle, near the entrance, and we were already pretty deep in the castle’s interior.

The group made their way back to the hall, and then from there, Steiner deduced that one of the doors would lead to the kitchen again – and it did. From here we proceeded to the dining room and then out the dining room doors to the western great hall. The castle was built symmetrical so we followed the northern hall to the side corridor and found ourselves once again in an area of smaller rooms and chambers. Seemed to be the servants’ quarters. From here we ventured south and ended up near the bathroom with the mice that we had slept in. Private bathroom? Maybe. Who would merit one? The Castellan.

So we went to the door next to the bathroom, opened it with care, and found the Castellan’s private chambers. The clothes closet had a few items in it, a roll up desk, bed, chest of drawers. But it was all older, worn, water logged in places. We took our time exploring and checking everything out. The ring of keys we had found in the northwest tower did come from here (the Castellan’s keys were missing) and the log books showed many visitors coming in and out. Wizard Lord Erazmus featured prominently in many of the dealings and the local lord was never mentioned except in passing and typically in lower case. The only other thing of note was Lord Ceril Stormbringer of Stormbringer Tower had some dealings with Wizard Lord Erazmus and the two of them had a number of meetings and heated exchanges – typically about something regarding a cart of chariot of some sort that Erazmus was to either repair or return to Ceril.

We took a torch from the hall here and adding it to out light sources, went back to the central parlor and decided to try and find our way to the wizard’s tower via way of the doors north of the dining room and kitchen.

There was a hall here and stairs going both UP and DOWN, as well as a few doors down a narrow burned hall. Observations showed some sort of fire had occurred here and blasted some of the doors off their hinges. There were scriptoriums and from what we could tell, someone was most likely vaporized in one of them. The northern most door seemed to have held.

It was 4:30 or so and we decided to not explore further, but to get back to the tower we had stayed in earlier and rest for the night, getting a better trip tomorrow when we were well rested and in good repair. We cobbled together a few troughs and cast a couple of create water spells. Skins refilled we cleaned up and lit a fire in the stoves, ate dinner, and eventually fell asleep.

The next day, Icemonth the 2nd, was cold and bitter – and the snow that had been flaking that night before was now increasing in intensity and falling at a constant regular rate. It was already a few inches deep and from what Tranis could tell us, was going to last for many hours to come.

We returned to Castle Sterling and made our way back to the northern hall and the scriptoriums. Another torch taken from the sconces helped flesh out our supply and we made some noise about where to go next. We checked upstairs, finding a sitting room and library but nothing of value to us. So we went back to the main floor, and then downstairs. The burning from the long ago blast had made it to the cellar room and broke many of the barrels and boxes down here (seemed to have been supplies at one point).

There were two other doors out of here so we checked out the first one. It had held from the impact long ago, was stout, banded in iron, and in good repair. We opened it with the Castellan’s keys and went down a short corridor to another door, this one also stout and well made but locked with a length of chain and an excellent lock. Another search of keys showed one that would open it and we cracked the door – revealing a wine cellar with over 60 bottles of wine still here.

Many of them were 20+ to 50 years of age, and most of them were still sealed and in good repair. The vintners were not known to any of us but we suspected to the right personages the wines would be valuable. We left the room, and went back to the main store room and tried the other door. The set up similar to the first, another short hall and a locked door with a chain. We noticed the locks were keyed alike so we were pleased and expected to take the locks (and chains) with us when we left.

On opening the door, Avidius informed us that the floor and transom were floating faintly and should NOT be stepped on. With the door opened though we saw 8 stone coffers with metal tops, each one locked and stacked next to one another. We took Avidius’ advice to heart and looked around for a lever of some sort to disable the floor. There was something, a metal receiving spot on the wall where a lever might have been at one point. We used Horace’s iron truncheon as a makeshift lever and moved the port down, fixing the floor in place and making it safe for us to enter.

The coffers were unlocked and revealed: treasure. Hundreds and hundreds and even thousands of copper commons and silver nobles. There was also a large quantity of gold and most importantly – platinum bars which would be a HUGE boon for Baron Taugis should we manage to get them back. We locked the coffers back up and then relocked the rooms with the chains and locks after moving the wine bottles to the treasury.

Bolstered now and feeling good we went back upstairs to the main central door past the scriptorium and gave it a once over. There was a marking on the door with a circle and pentagram within. So Marcus stood before it, announced himself, and then placed his hand on the door – opening it to a large chamber with 6 cat statues on the walls (5’ tall, heavy stone), a door on the other side of the chamber, and a 10’ diameter cylinder of white and grey streaked metal running from floor to ceiling.

We all entered and got our bearings. The other door most likely (according to Steiner) led to the tower and we didn’t know how to open the cylinder (although we did knock on it and try to move it to no avail.). We closed the door and then the room seemed to shift. The walls pulled away and the ceiling rose and the cylinder enlarged until we were now in a 60’ x 70’ chamber, the cylinder was now 20’ in diameter, and there were 4 large 15’ wide, 6’ tall display cases with a number of bits of art of some sort adorning them.

We still couldn’t open the cylinder and now assumed we were in the vault. We did not e that if we leaned on the cases they pivoted along the center and “clicked” to a stop in two places – along the east/west axis and when either end was pointed at the cylinder. Further investigated warranted and we noted that the edges of the cases had a number written in elven ranging on all four walls, both sides, from one to eight.

We tried many ways of turning them, assuming the numbers were a combination of some sort but after 20 minutes of turning shelves we didn’t stumble on the correct method to open whatever tumbler locks the numbers represented.

Until by accident we had reset one of the cases and turned it to “1” pointed at the cylinder – and there was a hum and vibration! On to something! We looked the others over and discounted our former efforts and failures before picking the case with the “2” on it and turned that to face the cylinder – and another hum! We then did the same with “3” and “4” and the cylinder began to rise faster and faster.

A large battered chariot of some sort was seen at first as the wall rose but then a magic mouth appeared and Erazmus’ voice echoed out, “Go the Hell, Ceril! And you’re not getting your cart back! I knew you’d try to rob me – we have this as a surprise!”

And then the wall went up the rest of the way very fast and we were looking at a 5’ diameter chitinous covered large central eye, eight smaller eyes on stalks, levitating and floating monstrosity that roared at us as we stood stunned. And to add insult to injury, three of the stone cats on the wall turned and sprung to life, attacking the party!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Meet 108, Adv 6, 3/12/16

The group had a long run into the spider's lair and went whole hog right for the McGuffin needed to get larger. I had run this adventure (or VERY similar to it) twice before over 20 years ago and one group never made it this far, and the other was TPK'ed in a spider choked room filled with over running fires that burned them all.

The party had some serious luck with a few Summon Nature's Ally spells which allowed them to clear the way to the McGuffin.

Write up follows:

The party hit the three Brown Recluse Spiders with a flurry or sword blows and strikes, dropping two of them and wounding the third but Nyssa took a nasty bite that had our shieldbearer taking a hefty dose of poison and had her reeling in pain. The thought of the party was that we had to get into the room and head towards whatever Marcus had detected earlier and we had to do it no and fast before more spiders came and overwhelmed us.  Avidius managed to cut his last limb free and was yelling at the group that there were more orb spiders coming into place.

Flimflam called out for his most powerful summon nature’s ally spell but as before, there was a stuttering in the spell as it reclassed itself for our new smaller impact and dimensions. The group was surging forward, passing under the archway, trying to make their way further in. A final produce flame was tossed into the webbing, setting another section ablaze.

The King of the Web called out to Arachne and the final Brown Recluse that the party was fighting surged, enlarging to a gargantuan monster 20’ in height as a Giant Vermin spell took effect. The group ran under the massive creature, avoiding its stomping eight legs, and moved enmass to the right. Marcus shot off another Dispel blast, burning a hole that the group turned and ran towards.

Flimflam’s Summon Spell enacted and a 40’ long iguana appears with an exploding blast of concussive air. He then pointed into the room and told it the charge in and tear up the webbing, which the iguana did, scattering spiders in all directions as we raced along. The King of the Web called out a loud benediction and from the hall we heard the yowling cry of the castle’s cat as it answered and began to climb up to our level. We had to go and go now. The Orb spiders that were over the arch attached webs and began rappelling down, and we ran through the scattered webs. The Giant Spider was able to give chase but the parameters of the room were preventing it from striking at us effectively.

Erd’s poor health and Avidius’ numerous painful wounds as well as his poisoned blood, had these two party members flagging as we ran along, spiders dropping from the webbing above our head and raining to the ground behind us. The Orb spiders were giving chase and we noted there were too many of them for us to effectively turn and fight. We had to find our way to the source and do it now.

The Iguana managed to come close enough for Flimflam to call out to and Marcus shot off another Dispel Magic blast which drove a line of red sparks through the room. And Flimflam ordered the Iguana to chase it. The Iguana blurred its way into the dark interior, scattering more webs and driving a path for us directly to the amber glowing source that had the group shrunk. Any spiders in the iguana’s way were smashed and devoured.

The Giant Spider was getting closer and Steiner hurled out a blast from his fear staff, striking the spider and turning it away where it skittered in terror. Avidius slipped back and was losing ground, falling and tripping as he tried to run. We now had almost 10 spiders chasing us, the Orb spiders plus the new ones that fell from above as we passed under them. Fermius and Steiner each draped and arm over their shoulders and hoisted Avidius up, carrying the wounded and weakened thief.

From the hall we heard the Cat had arrived, was looking around the room, and started to chase the group. Meanwhile we drew ever closer to the amber light – which was now revealed to be a ring almost 7’ in diameter floating on top of a 10’ column. The spiders were now closer to us and we started throwing caltrops, bags of sharpened rocks, even a few flasks of greasy water behind us.

And it worked.

The number of spiders right behind were rapidly reduced and the party ran on, out distancing most of them except for one determined Brown Recluse. Meanwhile the cat was closing in and it plowed over a number of the orb spiders that had been tripped up, smearing them as it yowled and leapt closer.

Horace and Geld, two of the best conditioned people in the party, were ahead of the group at this point, racing for the column. Flimflam called to Demeter to summon another massive natures ally, and we had to wait for the stuttering to pass before the spell enacted. And the party was now strung out with more and more of the party losing ground.

We tried to distract the cat with lights and glowing balls but it had no effect and it was now very close. Flimflam’s summon spell fired and we got a large huntsman spider – which Flimflam had appear over the rotating ring and attack the King of the Web who was trying to grab Geld in her attempt to get the ring (which she missed in her leap). The King was fighting another spider, the webs above were writhing with numerous spiders flailing about. The cat was too damned close when Steiner blasted it with a wave from his fear staff – and sent it running away!

We made it to the column, Erd was one of the next ones there, and he LEAPT up, finger just touching the ring – and suddenly he was full size and wearing it. He willed the ring to enlarge Flimflam and then Tranis – but time seemed to slow down as the ring was talking (telepathically in his mind) about a price and costs and Erd would have to pay – and he had magic powers, yes? Erd (a fighter) replied no and the ring was disturbed – which followed by a whizzing sound and Erd’s ring finger was severed, taking the ring with it.

The ring hit the ground and Tranis wore it next. Enlarging a few other party members while the party was stomping around (at full size) the vermin in the area. Tranis was also asked about a price and he HAD magical powers but he chose to remove it and the ring hated him but he was able to take it off. Steiner went next, enlarging even more members of our group and when the ring talked about a price, he was able to remove it without antagonizing the powers within.

That then led us to Marcus who went through the process of enlarging the party one at a time. When it was time to “pay the cost” he agreed to keep the ring and was given 4 more uses – but the cost would be either a spell slot (permanent) drain, a permanent hp loss, hp loss for Tranis, or another finger loss for Erd.

Marcus willingly lost a permanent hp and enlarged more party members. He was able to deduce some of the artifact’s powers and when he used up the 4 uses, he was AGAIN asked for the price – and again he settled on another permanent hp loss. By now the group was almost entirely back to normal and he learned even more of the ring’s uses – getting the clue that the ring is normally made for Ogres and Orcs but for now was happy with Marcus.

And there were three members left to increase and AGAIN he had to pay the price – this time 2 hp, 1 from Tranis, or a finger from ERD – or he could once again sacrifice a permanent high level spell slot. He went for the 2 hp for himself (now having lost 4 permanent hps) and the ring gave him a relent by enlarging the last 3 in one swoop. Marcus also learned that if he waited too long before using the ring’s powers, he would get some debilitating headaches to remind him to use it.

So it was after 2 PM on Icemonth the 1st, everyone was together and we didn’t lose anyone (but some of us were pretty screwed up) but we were large again and standing in some upper hallway and gathering our wits on what to do next.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Meet 10, Adv B2, 2/21/16 - Youth Group

Their 3rd member came back for today’s game but the first part of it was a bit off since they had to resupply and were on an emotional high from the TPK and death of their friend from the prior meeting. And the 3rd person at the table did not have ANY of that angst – so the entire party was clunky and unfocused at the start.

However, once they were out of the Keep and back on the road they managed to reconnect with the adventure and gel again as a group.

Write up follows:

The three friends arrived back at the keep where they were brought to the Castellan’s office for a meeting, debriefing, and the find out what has gone to pass in the intervening 2+ months. Loq was going to make sure the Corg’s remains (read: head) went back to his family as well as whatever riches and coins had been squirreled here at the Keep before we had gone out (very little, but it was there).

While we were given some clothes, and a chance to wash up, a page had gone to the Pig and Whistle to find Proserpine (their elven companion from a prior trip) and invite her to the Castellan’s chambers. She agreed, noting the sorrowful state of her purse and her need to get back out there or admit this trip from the Greensward Forest was a failure and return home.

Prosperpine was thrilled to see William and Charlotte again and once the reintroductions wound down the Castellan was able to talk to the party. Long and short, he was willing to bankroll the party’s losses and re-equipping – but ONLY if they agreed to two caveats: 1) they willingly accept the title of Vassal to the Baron (meaning they are answerable to him and eligible to be called in times of war, need, and civil unrest) and 2) they donate half of any coinage treasure found until they have paid back the loans given (which have a 10% penalty on them). And even though Proserpine was not there at time of capture, she also had to agree to the terms because if anyone skipped out on their debt or vassalage, the other members of the party would be held responsible.

Everyone agreed.

So we hit the markets and purchased just about everything we thought we would need, and then turned in early on the assumption we would be heading off the next day early.

It was Airmonth the 4th and after loading our ration bags and our waterskins we were out the main gate by 8 that morning and on our way to the ravine and the Caves of Chaos. The road was quiet, the fog already burning off, and the air was cool and clear. We arrived at the ravine and crawled our way through the wreckage until we arrived the mouth. The trees were budding and we noted a vulture (the same one from so many months ago?) was winging lazily to another tree and croaking out at the late morning sun.

The group then spent some time discussing our options – returning to the goblin cave and kicking ass or trying another cave? Although we wanted our revenge – we knew that as of 2 months ago there were at least 30 goblins in 1 direction…and 13 hobgoblins (according to the gnomes) in the other. And we were still only 4. Nothing was materially different. So we opted to NOT go to the goblin cave for now, instead to try one of the caves on the opposite side of the ravine but still near the mouth where the dangers should be less.

There was one close by, some 30’ upslope but not too difficult for us to get to. So we crawled over to it, inched our way up the slope, and then had a chance to look into the cave. It went straight into the mountain at least 30’ and then seemed to “T” at the end. After discussing the matter amongst ourselves we decided to risk it.

With torches lit we made our way forward, the smell of the place reminding us of a cross between a locker room and burnt bacon. We heard some noises from ahead but couldn’t place where they were coming from. However, at the end of the “T” were a number of niches and alcoves, in which severed and rotting heads of various creatures were displayed.

It seemed macabre and we talked about what to do and where to go when we heard a “whish” and “Thump” coming from the right – and what seemed like a burger attached to a grappling hook was tossed to us. When we went to reach out and take it, arrows flew down the hall and we had to retreat.

Burger? On a hook? Trap, yes. But we still didn’t know what we were facing. So, with his shield held out like a wall, William darted out and hacked the rope just at the end of the grapple and cut the burger free. We then goosed the grapple and burger back and took a look. Ok, burger. Grapple was a bit rusty and old, and the sandwich was driven through one of the prongs. As we were feathering the burger off the grapple the voice from the right was calling out in accented common that it wanted the grapple back.

Proserpine assured us it was orcs talking to us and from the sounds, less than 5 of them. We discussed what we knew of orcs and determined they were about as tall as humans, but definitely wider and stronger on average, had some porcine features, but were sloppy and not disciplined. Emboldened by our exchange, we accepted that we could parlay and came out into the hall to talk.

The orcs were asking us odd questions that seemed to require the group to answer many of the questions when Charlotte heard a faint noise and whirled around to see…4 more orcs sneaking up on the group from the left corridor.

Trapped between two orcish fronts.

The party immediately lined up back to back – Loq and Proserpine (who was suffering from the effects of eating the burger – which was not only made of rat – but was laced with a cramping poison as well!) tackling the newer orcs, while Charlotte and William went toe to toe with the other orcs charging at us.

The combat was furious and without pause, both fronts whittling away at each other until the party managed to put down a few of the orcs with some really brutal blows and the remaining 3 (still in the far room) asked the party to parlay and discuss terms for surrender (or at least to stop hacking their hurt and dying friends to pieces).

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Meet 107, Adv 6, 2/20/16

I like a low to middling magic game - there shouldn't be piles of +1 swords littering the landscape neither should there be a magic user at every corner and clerics slinging miracles left and right. It makes those items when the do come up special, noteworthy, and defining.

So when it came to the King of the Web - I always knew he was going to be a Huntsman Spider of larger than normal size, and was going to be "awakened" thanks to the constant and close proximity to the artifact in Castle Sterling - but making him a druid just seemed to be right to me.

He has his own agenda, his own long and short term goals, and he has the power of the goddess Arachne at his fingertips answering his prayers as needed. The goal of the King though is to NOT be reactive to the party's actions, but to be the initiator of the momentum - to be the one that the party reacts to.

Write up follows:

We scouted and crawled under the door from the grand room in Castle Sterling to the hallway, the mouse leading the way. The hall was large and dark, heading off in all directions. We headed back to the main room and discussed our options before the mouse (named Dartagnin – no relation) became agitated and we heard a heavy presence on the other side of the door snuffling around and scratching the area. Cat. Big assed cat – especially at our size. It yowled and growled a bit, thumping the door and we all stood quiet.

And then it was gone. We heard some faint movement and it was heavy but went away quick. Content that it was gone, we then crept under the door, trusting Dartagnin that the colony and the Den Mother were in an area that the cat could not get to (doors closed between here and there). We hit the hallway, drew back into a square formation, and then proceeded to cross the large hall (hundreds of feet to our senses).

We also then heard the cat yowling…from the other side of the door we just vacated. Somehow it had found a way around the castle to the grand room and if we had stayed, we would have victim to its attack. We moved quickly, leaving the great room behind and hit the other side of the hall, then found another door where we crawled under and followed the mouse as he led us to the right hand side for some 500’+ until we came to another door. The vinegary smell of urine was growing heavier the further we proceeded, along with it a humidity to the air that made the scent cloying and foul.

Dartagnin’s voice was mere noises once again to Flimflam but we followed the mouse without delay under the door and we came to another chamber. The floor was smoother, less porous, and had regular valleys in it every 10’ or so where a type of mortar was in place. The humidity was much higher here and from some of the scattered torn up fabric about. We were in a bathroom. And from the number of mice here and the feces abounding, it was their warren.

We were surrounded and led to the mound of torn up towels where an older female mouse came out and started squeaking at us. Flimflam had Demeter give him the ability to speak with animals again and took the time to introduce us to the Den Mother and explain why we were here. The discussion ran about for a bit but effectively, we wanted to go up the stairs (from the hall we had just run through) to the 2nd floor and try to get to the room with the King of the Web (big spider that lives there with lots and lots of other spiders). The Den Mother thought we were nuts and hinted that there were also rats up there.

However, after talking, agreed that she would ask for volunteers to lead us up the steps. We decided to go in the middle of the hot part of the day tomorrow, when the cat would be least likely to bother us. For now we could rest here (we thanked her, but took up a camp area far away from the warren of towels and mice crap) and prepare for the morrow.

We awoke the following morning, Icemonth the 1st – heart of winter. The castle felt warmer to us (at our size) and we agonized over spells and spears and swords. Then the morning moved on until about 11. We had 24 mice coming with us (Dartagnin was one of them) and they led us out of the bathroom and to the side hall. We travelled down until we arrived back at the main hall and now it was lit from sunlight. It was long, maybe half a mile to us and there was some 4-500’ width to it. But there was a set of spiral steps to the south that we headed towards and looked on with deep concern.

Between the mice, rope, out lighter size, and the almost 20 of us, it was 5-8 minutes each step to climb and navigate. But we counted them off. Four, Seven, Eleven, Thirteen…At 12:30 we were at the top and 15th step. There was another hall here, also very long. There were also some webs in the area, wide rope like ones. But there was an opening, an arch of stone to the right, 200’ or so away, 150’ wide, and maybe 200’ tall. Many many more webs littered the sides and base of that archway. Thick and heavy, layers deep.

The mice all turned and left us, returning back to the main floor, only Dartagnin stayed with us. We wanted to get closer, but not too close. So we stayed in the middle of the hall and headed towards the opening until we could see properly inside. It was like something out of this world. There was some oversized furniture in there, a table or chairs. But every available surface was covered in webs from the ceiling down to the floor. Paths, 60, 70’ wide meandered through the room, in places the ceiling of webs dropped to 40’ in height. It was macabre, gothic, unnatural.

And nowhere we wanted to enter but someplace we had to go. A trio of torches were lit and Log of Everburning was cast upon them, given to Erd, Dugan, and Corane. At this point it was decided that Marcus would use his wand once more and try to zero in on where the artifact might be. So he fired one off, and it streaked away into the room and veered to the right, punching through the webs there and disappearing into the gloom. Bingo, right room, right place.

We gave some thought on burning the webs and Tranis lit a fire arrow, arcing it high and letting it fall into a funnel shaped web near the ceiling, we watched the dusty web smolder and burn, wider and wider, also noting other webs deeper in the room burning. It was then that a number of large orb spiders came out and proceeded to cut away the burned section of webbing until it fell from the structure and hit the floor. At the end of that short action, a breeze blew in behind us, raced through the archway, and coalesced into a sudden downpour of rain in a huge column of soaking wet air.

This extinguished all signs of fire and soaked the area making further fires in that section of the room impossible (at least until the water dried away). So we thought about our options. We wanted to go in with torches and discussed doing so when another sucking breeze blew in behind us, then centered overhead – and down poured on the entire party, soaking us to the skin and extinguishing our torches.

Ok, someone is making a statement about us and our fire. We know there were spiders in there, some movement went about towards the entrance but we couldn’t see anything. At that point we heard a cavernous voice echo from within after some benediction to Arachne. It identified itself as the King of the Web and from its tone and conversation, seemed…untrustworthy. Its words said one thing but the gut reaction of the group was opposite – this was not going to end well at all. It offered to talk to one of us and we agreed in theory to do so.

Then we discussed who would go in and although Horace was willing, the party settled on Avidius. Flimflam hit him with an Invisibility to Animals spell and the scout was willing to go in and try to find a way through the webs to get to the magical artifact. He moved slowly, picking his way through the humongous arch and looked around. The smell was old and dusty, the reek of spider was strong. Looking up he noted over a dozen brown recluse spiders on the lintel over the arch frame – none of them could see him. He moved on, staying to the right and disappearing down a wide path between the webs.

While he made his way along, he did note there was a large rat here, 20’ long, on its hind leg, waiting and looking – but it also did not see him. As the path between the webs grew smaller and the ceiling seemed to hang lower, the passages becoming thicker and he still wasn’t near the artifact, Avidius was stopped by the voice of the King of the Web speaking much closer and lower so only the thief could hear him.

He admitted he could see Avidius and that he wasn’t going to just let him through. He allowed the thief and him to talk and when it seemed that Avidius wasn’t going to risk coming close, the King of the Web stepped out – a very large, 5’ tall, 9’ diameter Huntsman spider. This was not going to work and Avidius wanted to return to the party, so he backed up and the King let him, talking crooningly the entire time, always staying for 40’ away. Avidius also noted there were lots of smaller spiders in the webs above, immature ones. This place crawled.

Once he was past the giant rat and was back in the clearing, the king gave a throaty chuckle and outlined Avidius in Fairie Fire – making him visible to the brown recluse spiders and the rat. Avidius turned and ran. Seeing him changing towards us, Erd and four others stepped out with spears and shields, approaching the arch but not stepping through – just getting ready to receive charge. The rat was gaining on Avidius who choked down a stoneskin potion, the gap between the two narrowing. As for the recluse spiders, half of them crawled to the other side of the arch and began climbing down to face the party while 4 others attached webs and began to drop and try to cut off Avidius. The last 4 turned and were shooting strands of webbing down to the floor, hoping to catch the running thief.

As Avidius came close to the archway and the rat was almost on him, the King of the Web called out to Arachne and hit him with a Hold Person spell. Avidius fell to his face and the rat unable to stop mowed him down and kept going, roaring and squeaking as it charged the fighters. Two of the spiders hit the ground by Avidius and bit him, injecting the thief with poison on top of his hold person spell and draining more hit points and constitution from our floundering thief.

Steiner called out a bless spell which encircled the party as our archers sent arrow after arrow into the charging rat. It ignored the shafts and bounded on as we prepared for its impact, noting the 7 recluse spiders coming towards us were more than halfway down wall and closing. A dispel magic from Marcus’ wand slammed out and hit Avidius, dropping the Hide from Animals spell and the Hold Person, but not the Fairie Fire spell. That was enough though for Avidius to start hacking at the webs the closer spiders had attached to his leg and arm – cutting his leg free.

The rat hit the spear wall like a freight train and the spears and shields held although Erd took the brunt of the assault. For their efforts though, the spears had penetrated deep and the rat fell over dead. Bolstered by this we redrew lines and prepared to face the spiders who were even closer now. A produce flame spell followed by Steiner who hurled the burning ball high and deep to the right, setting another section of the webs on fire. A summon animal spell had a giant centipede appear, actually right by Avidius who was on his feet now but still had his left arm bound by the webbing. Marcus called out a sleep spell and sent 4 of the 7 recluse spiders to sleep, dropping our concern to 3. The King of the Web called another Cloudburst spell, dousing his webs and putting out the fire made there.

The centipede actually got tangled in the web that was attached to Avidius, which meant the other spiders that had gone up to “hoist” him up were now unable to do so. However the 3 other spiders that had made it to the ground did engage the party and Whosea was bit and poisoned. We were knee deep in combat with 3 brown recluse spiders, the King of the Web was barely one step ahead of the party in dousing the flames, and Tranis and Steiner were getting ready to send more flaming arrows and produce flame balls in the room.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Meet 9, Adv B2, 2/7/16 - Youth Group

This meeting started out great, but fell apart as the 4 count wandered into a room where they were outnumbered 7 to 1 and didn’t turn and flee. It was a TPK, but I rolled a dice in front of them and let them know that the higher the number, the greater chance of being killed outright and have to re-roll. We rolled a “2” – which meant a band of wandering clerics did not show up and save the day.

Testament to the two young ones at the table, they were visibly upset and crying when it happened and I was describing their 2 months of abuse and torture, but amidst the “I hate this game” noises – they had fire and determination in their voices and mindset that they were going to come back here soon and kill every god damned goblin in the cave.

Write up follows:

Charlotte and William spent the afternoon at the inn grabbing a long meal, a drink or two, and chatting with the locals. A minstrel was playing a mindless tune near the fire, sort of background noise for the two friends. After 6 PM, they went looking around for former adventurers who had been to the caves, just to get a feel for what they might have faced.

They were led and guided to a beaten man named Bailey, an ex-adventurer who lived near Beggar’s Corner, a crappy section of the keep where many of the drunks and homeless congregate. Bailey was a big guy, almost 6’ 3” and 280 lbs. He had a wicked scar running from under his hair line and down to his jaw. He didn’t want to talk to us, content to drink his beer. William had brought him a jack of ale and the only advice we got from the broken man was that if the battles ever get too big or beyond your control, just run. Better to drop your pack and escape and live then to fight on and die.

Disturbed by this we thanked him and left him to his devices heading back to our room and getting some sleep for the day tomorrow.

On the 26th of Deathmonth we awoke and met Loq and Corg. We all went shopping, a variety of throwing knives, some cloaks, and an additional sword (William was seriously going to use it to give to the Lizardman in the Capashin Swamp). By 9:30 AM we were on our way and were heading back to the Caves of Chaos. We talked to Proserpine to invite her along for this but she asked for one more day before coming along.

We left, making good time on our trip to the Caves. We were pleased to run into the gnomish party that we had met earlier. A few of their members were wounded but they seemed to be of good cheer. It seems they had pressed on to the Hobgoblins, made some headway against them, but then gave ground when reinforcements showed up and the tide of the battle was changing. They did manage to snag some loot before leaving but in reality, they excursion seems to have cost them more than they made. They were heading back to the keep and would rest a day or two before trying again tomorrow.

Shortly after 11 we were back at the ravine and it still seemed empty. Assured that no one was paying us much mind, we made our way to the goblin cave and entered. We discussed options and decided that we wanted to head further into the goblin cave and get the 25 pairs of ears we needed for Quasar and his goblin sword. So we readied torches and set off.

We passed the original split, then the side corridor where the fountain was, continued on through the former guard room (stripped clean of everything) and the secret door where the ogre once lived. There were a few smaller alcoves but they were empty and we moved on, getting deeper and further than we ever had dared to go before. There were goblin voices ahead and some light. It sounded like a lot, and Charlotte let us know there was over a dozen voices. It seemed like a lot, but we figured if we went in and hit hard at least once, we should startle the goblins and maintain the initiative.

It didn’t go that well.

The group went in and the goblins within were sort of prepared for us. There were not a dozen, or even 20, but more like 30 of the greenskins. Men, women, children. The children swiftly were herded back to the rear of the cave and two women ran on to alert we assumed others. Charlotte tried to shoot an arrow but missed and the goblins there disarmed her and tossed her bow behind where the string was snapped. This caused the thief to draw her dagger and try to engage them in a fight but she was surrounded by 4 of the goblins and they beat her savagely.

Log, Corg, and William tried to press in and get to Charlotte but the three warriors were separated from each other and then picked apart and hacked and beaten. William received a terrible blow to the chest and he passed out and he heard Loq screaming out for Zeus’ help.

The party was then taken, stripped of their gear and belongings and after that they were abused and tortured by the goblins for the next 2 plus months. Charlotte had her head shaved, William developed a rasping cough, and the two of them were whipped and burned often. Loq had his right hand beaten cruelly by hammers so that he couldn’t wield a holy symbol in that hand again (or so the goblins assume). Corg though, our friend and companion for months no, he was the last one standing when the party went down, so the goblins made an example of him and tortured him for days before cutting his head off and feeding his body to the goblin tribe.

Finally we heard some human voices were arranging to sell us back to the Baron for some amount of money that was going to further enrich the goblin tribes. They were evil sounding and their voices made the group ill to hear. But the transfer was made on the road north of the Capashin Swamp on the 3rd of Airmonth. We had Corg’s head in a basket, we were wearing crude homespun bits of fabric wrapped around us, and the goblins took a bag of gold in exchange for us and we were helped onto a wagon and headed back to the Keep.

We had tears in our eyes and were exhausted, happy to be going home, but haunted at everything that happened. Charlotte and William and Loq all looked at one another and made a vow at that point. “We swear that we will go back and make those bastards pay.”

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Meet 106, Adv 6, 2/6/16

I ran this (or something very much like this) adventure about 22 years ago and the group that did it had a great time until a fire got out of control and consumed them faster than they could run from it. It's outside the box and not normal - at least for the party. Getting shrunk down to 1/24th size and dealing with the much smaller world that is in front of them.

The castle exploration is not feasible - we spent 3+ hours to take care of 1/3rd the main entrance room/parlor and didn't make any headway. What the group needs to do is find a way to get "big" first and then take care of the castle and eventually the vault.

And to do that they need to find the artifact that fired off at them and take control of it (even if just temporarily). I have a few road blocks in their way though and they will need to bring their "A" game to get past the final hurdle(s) if they expect to prevail.

Write up follows:

To our new size, the crawl under the 8’ wide and roughly foot and a half tall space was numbing. We emerged onto a large stone rough platform covered with some sort of thick sand-like grit. There was a strange ambient light coming from the east and west, but we were in a gloom broken only by our lanterns. We did light a torch or two, but the fire was strange and rounded, not flickering. It did illuminate the area for us and we just felt…small.

After discussing it for a bit, we wanted to stay near the wall if at all possible, so we lined ourselves up into a square and proceeded to head west (right) for the time being. We travelled some 100’ or so (our relative size that is) until we noted a break in the stone ahead. It dropped off and curved around to the north until it was lost in the gloom. So we approached carefully and looked down at the edge.

18’ from the crumbled rounded stone edge down to the next platform of stone below. A thick layer of gauzy dust like balls and mounds of residue filled the base of the stone cliff. And to our eyes, it moved slightly. So we attached the found grapple to a length of rope and let it drop to the airy dirt to disturb anything hiding within.

And it emerged. Grey in color, plated and segmented, perhaps two feet or so long and with a pair of wavering antenna that twitched around with started jerking motions. From our vantage we had to look at it for length of time before someone realized it was a silverfish. To our normal size, a non-consequential bit of vermin one would find in a closet or musty carpeted room. But now? An unknown and large creature we wanted to avoid.

So we made noise and startled the other silverfish from the dust and fibers, watching as they crawled forward to the edge of the NEXT cliff (step?) and pass over it heading down and out of sight. We took out an iron spike and drove it into the top of the current step (it echoed strangely and without a long ringing vibration) and then one by one, ferried our way down. Climbing was easier for some reason, and there was suspicion that we could both jump further and fall farther that we would be able to if we were normal size.

When it came time to getting the 4 dogs down, we instead rigged up a stretched blanket to catch them, leaving Avidius and Tranis still upstairs to gently toss the animals down. The party caught them one after the other until just the ranger and thief were left.  The thought was to toss Tranis and then Avidius would climb down, but they didn’t account for how far Tranis would go (both up and out) and had to scramble to catch him. As for the climb down, Avidius did slip, but again, the pains received were minimal at best.

We navigated to the other step and looked out on the floor of the castle – heading off in all directions into the darkness. The base of this step had a number of silverfish milling about again and we startled them away from the landing. However before we climbed down we noted that they began to leave the area and head enmass towards the walls and some cracks there. Before they all escaped, a skink (at 10+ long and powerfully fast) charged out of the gloom and snatched up a silverfish before running away.

Ok – quiet and safe.

We climbed down and drew ourselves back into a square formation. We didn’t hug the wall since we know there were the odd long cable like spider webs hanging down, but we did stay together as we travelled off to the west and tried to get some feel for the size of the room and where to go next.

There was a glow from ahead and some slashing beams of daylight were coming in and illuminated the floor away from the wall. It was a shuttered window and we decided to head away from the wall and head towards the beam of light where it struck the floor. We came to an area where there was a column heading up to the ceiling over 50’ in diameter (to us) and rising to god knows how high. We used a mirror and flashed the sun light beam everywhere to get a feel for the size of the chamber. We did find the far western wall at some point and the column was we guessed over 200’ tall. However the chamber was larger than our mirror could illuminate and we did not know what to do. We did come across a torch sconce on the wall though and although it was some serious height off the ground, we figured we could try to climb the wall and light it to illuminate the chamber.

So we all headed back to the wall and gave Avidius the tools he would need to climb as well a torch to light the…real full size torch. So he climbed, slowly and with great care, until he eventually made it to the base of the torch in the sconce. Then he climbed onto the sconce and took a breather before daring to walk OUT from the wall along the sconce support beam to the torch itself. Once there, he scaled the wooden structure until he was on the charred and sooty 7’ wide platform. There were webs here, a few of them, so he didn’t want to spend too much time. So he lit his tinderbox, then the torch he had, then he placed the glowing ball of fire on the torch he was standing on and made sure it was caught before coming to the edge of the torch and jumping off to be caught by the party and the stretched out blanket below (again, taking only minimal damage thanks to our size and lightness).

After this, the torch far overhead burst into light and illuminated a portion of the great entry hall we were in. There WAS a door along the western wall and it had a step in front of it. A few tapestries were on the wall, old and worn. But nearer the ceiling were webs, big 100+ diameter hanging cable like webs. And we opted to not go there if we could help it.

Marcus was getting a headache and we hoped to try and find out where the “whatever” was the magicked us small. So he took out his rod of dispel magic and held it aloft, firing a bolt upward. He hoped it would disrupt whatever had enchanted us, but the bolt behaved strangely, it seemed to be pulled UP from the rod, stretch impossibly long, then it arced toward the east and bent before firing away and passing through the ceiling above. What the hell? We discussed it and came to the conclusion that something VERY magical was above us (2nd floor) and was a bit to the east of where we were standing. Maybe the thing that shrunk us? Make us grow? Instead of wandering the castle at our size, we decided to find the whatever it was and reverse the curse.

We needed to know where it was sort of overhead so we were going to head back east across the room, try to find another torch on the wall on that side of the room, get an idea how big the chamber might be, and then fire off another bolt from Marcus’ wand.

It was when we were passing the step we had come down originally that we heard something in the dark and the silverfish in the area departed. We guessed skinks, based upon the scratching dragging sound (the skinks hang low to the ground and their guts drag when they are stalking). Flimflam fired off a speak with animal spell and spoke to one of them that was creeping closer. And closer. There were 7 of them and we found ourselves encircled, back towards the steps. As we were shuffling positon one of them darted forward and went to snatch and grab one of us – Tranis!

The ranger was hit like from a bull and he held on, torn off his feet as the skink then knocked down other party members in its mad dash to take its prize away. We fired and stabbed and shot and made all sorts of noises and assaults happen, scaring away a few of the skinks but 3 of them did come forward to join the attack. Flimflam managed to get one of them charmed and it distracted a second so we only to fight the one against Tranis and the 2nd one that barreled into the party.

Our forces were split on two fronts but we pressed the attack on the skink holding Tranis first, inspiring the lizard to let our ranger go and then finishing it off before it could make its escape. The second skink required less effort and was swiftly surrounded by our group, Avidius and Viridia making attempts at backstabbing the distracted reptile as it was being assaulted by us.

From here we then turned our attention to the last skink that our “charmed” one was fighting until it too went down and we had a chance to rest. Healing was dispensed (a little on our wounded skink) but we started talking – this room was huge, and according to our skink, there were most likely LOTS of them in the area. We had to get out of here and get somewhere else. Where were we to go? Upstairs to the “magic” place and break the curse? What about other denizens in here? And we still didn’t know how big the place was.

We continued on until we arrived at where we assumed the other full sized torch would be and then had Flimflam arrange a rope harness of some sort for the skink. He held on and coaxed it up the wall. It was jarring and rough, mixed with bursts of speed and sudden stops. There was also a slip and fall at one point, some jarring and aching, but eventually the skink and gnome made it to the top. From here they a good look at the area above – dismayed to see spiderwebs her, big ones as made by orb spiders – nothing we want to face at our current size. The torch was lit and skink and gnome jumped off and were caught back on the ground (again, with minimal falling damage).

We wandered back to the steps area and discussed our options – the room on the east side matched the room on the west side – and with the torch lit we had Marcus fire off another blast from his wand – and the shaft of dispelling was sucked straight up to an area sort of over the front door. So we knew we had to go upstairs, and it would have to be over this room. Do we climb the walls and look for cracks? Go the long way around and find stairs?

We were being watched – 6 spiders (orb) had come down and were over the lintel of the foyer door looking at us. A speak with animals did not have them talk back, but they did eventually go back up to their webs and disappear into the ceiling. Ok – climbing from here wasn’t going to work. We were going to have to climb and find stairs. We decided on the western door and then talked about where we were going to camp out. It was approaching 7 and we were getting hungry and tired from our activity. The thought was to climb back up and sleep in the coat room – but figured it would be crawling. And there were cockroaches in the foyer so that was a no.

We traveled to the western door, dodged some silverfish in the area (talking to them revealed how cowlike and slow they actually were) and were checking out the door there (after climbing up) when we figured we would need some wood for a fire. So we were hacking splinters off the bottom of the door and our banging attracted the attention…of a mouse!

It was curious about us and another speak with animals had us chatting with it. It was willing to take us to see the den mother, there WAS a cat wandering the castle on and off (usually down my the laundry room – far from here) and there was a spider or some sort on the second floor the mouse referred to as “The King of the Web”. Se we all gathered at the western door at 7:15 and proceeded to crawl underneath it to enter the hallway and hopefully not attract the attention of the cat that might or might not be wandering the area at some point.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Meet 105, Adv 6, 1/30/16

Not all items found in my game have an explanation.

I mention this because sometimes after the game session, the party will ask me questions about things they have found in the game that they couldn't deduce and might want to know. If it has no impact on them and any further game enjoyment, I'll let them know about what they saw and why it was there.

Like the tower with the dead donkey, barred door, three dead guys (one of which ate the legs and arms of the other two) and the grapple on the roof. I mean...WHY???

So in the game the party was just disturbed as all fuck as to what happened and couldn't figure it out, but after it was over I didn't mind letting them know (out of game) what they saw. Was a party of 5 at one point, got hit with a poison blast trying to force their way into the castle - two failed the save, one made it. The 2 healthy ones dragged the dying ones to the nearest tower and tried to make they comfortable. They couldn't go out the main door/gate since SOMETHING had chased them to the tower so they used a grapple to go over to the swamp and were going to get antidote or the like for the poisoned men. Meanwhile the two who failed died and the remaining one grew hungry and in order to try and survive, cut off pieces from the two dead men and lasted 8 more days until HE died from his poison. The donkey starved to death.

Now...does any of this matter? No, but it adds to the world around the party as they play and explore, giving more scope and breadth to the land they travel in.

I didn't have to tell anyone what was going on with the strange and macabre scene, but it didn't remove anything from the game telling those who were interested AFTER the meeting was over.

Write up follows:

It was after midnight and we split up the watch, vowing to spend up till noon the next day resting since most of us were already exhausted from the grueling trip. We established a good round robin of watches and tucked in for the night. Those who were on watch went up to the top of the guard tower often to look over the landscape, hearing the sound of the not too distant Black Water River gurgling its way north and past Castle Sterling.

Dawn came slowly, bringing with it a heavy ground choking fog. And even after everyone mostly woke up and got themselves ready, it still took till almost 11 for it to burn off. All of our watching and looking showed that there were no lights or smoke coming from Castle Sterling, or anywhere in the surrounding countryside as well.

After we had eaten lunch and took stock of the tower again, we decided that a few of us were going to look over the courtyard before the rest of the party got themselves together. Tranis (and Ringer), Avidius, Viridia, Liscinia, and Flimflam (along with Whosea) gave the cobbled courtyard a good exploration. Once satisfied it was empty and clear, they approached the main doors of Castle Sterling itself.

A set of double steps led up to the front door which was closed and from what we were able to tell, not locked or trapped. What was discovered was a small metal token, a bit larger than a gold crown and shaped like a shield. It was very thin and we didn’t know what it was. There were 4 ridges on the back of it but other than it being scratched up, nothing else could be told about it. We kept it and continued our exploration until after over a half hour, we were convinced the courtyard was safe and the rest of the party could join us.

Before entering the Castle, we wanted to walk around the entire courtyard and check out the other 3 guard towers to make sure there was nothing hidden or dangerous sitting around to grab us later. We travelled clockwise around the courtyard, coming to the Southwest tower next. The door was ajar and the interior was set up similar to the tower we had spent the night in. About the only material difference after checking all 3 floors (and the roof) was the chimney sleeve on the stove here was not in as good shape as the tower we had stayed in, and had slipped down during the intervening years.

We left the tower and proceeded to the northwest one where we stopped to see a dead crow in the courtyard. It’s neck was broken and it seemed a bit bloated but not chewed on, guessing it to be dead a few days tops. The fact that it was still here made us more comfortable that there were no cats about (since a cat would have most likely devoured the crow). Even so, we were spooked and gave it a wide birth, heading further along to the next tower.

The door to this tower was sealed shut from the inside and when we looked through the arrow slits we saw a skeletal donkey lying at the base of the stairs. We debated opening the door for a bit but eventually let Marcus cast knock on it and disturbing the locking bar. We entered and gave the dead beast a once over. It had some adventuring gear (spikes and lantern and what not) in its bags but little else. We then climbed the stairs to the sleeping room and there were three bodies here in the beds. Two of them had limbs missing but the limbs were in the bed with the last body. There were also 8 scratches on the wall behind the lone body and all that was found was an eating belt knife – no swords, weapons, books, notes. At the top of the tower we discovered the remains of a grappling hook and some scraps of rope that led to the side of the tower and down the outside.

We took the grapple and left the bodies, disturbed that something had happened here and it was some 4 or 5 years ago. From here we walked out and looked at the back of Castle Sterling.

For the most part, the courtyard was 40-50’ wide around the castle itself, except for the rear of the Castle. The main building was shaped like a fat “E” with the middle leg sticking further out than the two outer ones. In addition, there was a tower that abutted the center leg which meant the spacing in the courtyard between the outer wall and the tower was not 50’, but only 7’. And no one wanted to risk walking in that narrow space.

What we did do was look over the courtyard space here. It was the remains of an overgrown garden of some sort, most of it had gone to weed but there were stills signs of planters and paths that once dominated the area. What we did note was there was no door so far into the Castle except the main one in the front. 

The party walked all the way back around to the front of the courtyard and then from there, proceeded to the last tower in the northeast corner. Satisfied it had no issues or problems for us; we looked over the final courtyard here and noted it had fruit trees that had grown wild over time. We DID find a secret passage INTO the castle from here, but there was no obvious way to open it. After talking we decided that forcing a secret door open was not a good idea and we should just go back to the main front door. Just to satisfy our sense of symmetry we went back to the other courtyard and researched the area again, this time finding a secret door here in the exact mirrored space as the other courtyard. Again, we opted not to open it.

Back at the front (it was after 2 PM now) we discussed opening the main door and other things we could and should do. We did note there was a crow here on the roof looking down at us. Flimflam cast a speak with animals, the crow was immediately disturbed and try to fly away when our gnomish leader then hit it with a charm animal spell and it stayed, but was disgruntled.

Turns out it had been hit by animal friendship spell in the past and reported that others had come here and tried to open the door. When they do, the crow said “You hear a Poof then AHHHHHHHHHHHH!” Did not fill any of us with confidence. There is also an owl that lives on top of the wizard’s tower. It was going to watch us and wait.

Before opening the door, Marcus stood in front of it and announced himself as a Tower Wizard and was here legally to get the items Wizard Lord Erazmus had stuck aside for him. We all felt a faint rumbling and vibration…but then nothing. So we opened the door…and beheld a foyer.

There was a cloakroom to the left, and the foyer had 3 dusty couches here. We took a couple of the doublets that were in the cloakroom but there was little else. There was a double door leading further into the castle so after verifying it was free of traps and not locked, the party readied weapons and opened the door.

And there was a loud inrushing of air, a great wind blew us all from behind, and the party was yelling but losing consciousness from the forces battering our bodies.

Only Horace and Whosea remained conscious and they had to scramble because now it appeared we were in a strange ghostly darkish grand chamber or cavern with a wooden wall in front of us that had a foot and a half gap underneath it. And we were being assaulted by three 10’ long hairy insectoid monsters that tried to drag Viridia away into the darkness. The two standing party members jumped on the nearest one and proceeded to bash and beat at it, with Horace now seeing there was a glowing metal shield here on the floor. He picked it up and it flared blue and wrapped around his forearm, light to his grasp and easily turning the chittering monsters’ bites aside.

They managed to hold the line for a few minutes as the rest of the party awoke and added their weight to the battle line. It was Flimflam who first discovered our problem as he tried to call on Demeter to summon some aid but the spell was delayed and did not return an ape as he expected…instead it deposited an 11’ tall rat. He pressured it into helping us and them let it go on its way when the three insectoid monsters fled.

Taking stock we could not tell exactly where we were, the ground had a gritty layer of small stones upon it, and the light was indistinct in the distance. As for the wooden wall, we were going to crawl underneath it (it was an 8’ crawl) but after taking a better look at the place we deduced that we were still in the foyer in Castle Sterling…Except that we were now small. Much smaller than we originally were. Our best guess was that whoever was 6’ before the blast of magic hit us was now only about 3” tall.

We wanted to get further into the castle and try to find out what happened to us and how to return to regular size so we girded our wares and crawled “under” the inner double doors from the foyer and into Castle Sterling itself.