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.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Meet 97, Adv 9, 4/17/10

The party realized that bringing Olthar back to life (from stone) was NOT going to be easy, quick, or cheap.

And that allowed us to bring in a replacement character for the good elven thief: Brother Beren. The addition of a cleric was much needed especially as I was pulling out our often missing druidic Detheron due to a messed up period of personal life.

I am also a fan of hirelings and henchmen and the group was able to pick up a couple: two of them and I gifted them to the party due to the fact that they had been making a local name of themselves and some of the populace looks to them to help out. So welcome Nelia (4th level thief) and Haydin (4th fighter/2nd thief).

If they come back alive and with some coin in their pocket than the party can put a feather in their hat.

What they do with the information they learn at the lizardman complex from this point on (ie: finish the story arc) is up to them - it's a big sandbox and they are welcome to build anything they want in it.

Write up follows:

Arnog and Detheron went with the petrified Olthar to Wodenloch’s Manor while Soren and Gwyn went to Swampside to talk to Dollius at the Platinum Pestle. The alchemist had no unguent that would turn a stoned person to flesh again, and did not know of any particular magic that would do it. He was willing to work and learn though and the party hired him to go to places south, Principia, Tarkis, and eventually Daro and Darkwaters, to try to learn if there was a possibility of brewing a potion that would make someone stone, flesh again. A handful of platinum was passed over as well as one of the basilisk eyes (as possible item for study for a reagent). He was going to come to Wodenloch’s to see Olthar himself before leaving.

As for the Baronet, he was unable to help, having neither mage nor anyone magical at his beck and call. He did suggest that the group could talk to Rigil Blackshadow but did not know if it would suffice. As for the bounty, we had only gotten 16 out of 25 lizardmen tails and he was willing to accept that as payment to allow one of the two party members in – specifically Norris.

There was concern over Zoltan (who the Baronet had liked a lot) and his disappearance. Some questions were raised: Only Coruth’tae noticed he was gone and the grey elf went off alone to find him. The grey elf claimed that Zoltan had stolen from him (something not normally in Zoltan’s nature). He could not find Zoltan but did find some basilisks. There were too many concerns and inconsistencies Wodenloch felt that allowed him to fully trust Coruth’tae and suggested the group watch him carefully.

Norris was allowed back in and we spent some time at the Baronets, drinking and feasting. Norris took a boat ride to Blackshadow’s where Rigil accepted payment from the bard to cover Gedades’ (the person he and Coruth’tae had assaulted) protection costs for the next year. He also had Rigil send missive to Agnandus in Dilabria removing himself from the thieves guild there as belonging to more than one was an exercise in fragmented loyalty.

Rigil told Norris that they had accorded themselves well in the lizardmen issue and that he had two persons in his employ that he wanted to have some experience out of the city and with the party as aids, hirelings, and sellswords. Norris told the thief master he would discuss it with the group and come back tomorrow to give him their answer.

We spoke for a bit and discussed other alternatives to getting someone to turn Olthar back to flesh. There were some purchases and eventually the group decided that we should honor our commitment and return to the Eiderdown swamps and finish our bounty on Lizardmen tails. Detheron was not coming with us, our hurting and saddened druid instead taking a sister mission for Baronet Wodenloch that would have him in other places for a short time. This meant our group was down another person – and even with the inclusion of a few helpers from Blackshadow’s guild, it was thought that we needed someone else – preferably a healer.

Soren and Gwyn set up a table @ the Sunken Boardwalk where they gave a general call out for adventuring clerics interested in joining them. Most of the healers in the area had been sent northward to Flatrock to help stem to rising threat of plague there but there were still a few in the area. One was a smarmy dark haired follower of Hel who spoke well of his skills and abilities but the party did not feel comfortable in his presence. The other was a softer spoken human cleric of Tyr named Brother Beren who seemed to be a better fit for the group (which antagonized the 1st cleric) who we signed on for an equal share.

The party (sans Coruth’tae) did all meet up at the Sunken Boardwalk, including the two junior members of the thieves guild that were coming with us: Nelia Fingerlight, a slip of a 16 year old girl with a steady hand, a penchant for poisons and javelins, and a need to get out of the city for a while. And Haydin Umbarson, the louder of the two, wide heavy and strong, a very notched broadsword held at his side and a crooked smile.

There were welcomed and promised a full share of whatever treasures we found in lieu of getting a signing bonus or a per day rate – which they thought about and agreed upon

We left the next morning, a steady rain and grey sky meeting us. It was a long trudge to the lizardman swamp and then even longer to slog through the sucking fetid muck until we returned to the temple complex. We didn’t see as many lizardmen about but those that we did spy were on more of an alert than what we had seen earlier.

We opted to NOT go back through the secret opening in the south end of the temple again, and going in the main gates was still thought of as suicide. That left either the stables or the woodcutter’s shed and we opted on the stables. There was a 20’ gap between the swamp and the complex in this area and Gwyn crept forward to check it out while we waited in the woods, weapons ready. The dwarf heard nothing inside and a glance through the gaps showed the same. He tested the handle, it wasn’t locked. He then wanted to open the door to peer better inside so he used his long metal pole, shoved the door ajar.

And a bucket on top of the door fell over, dropping brown ink everywhere as well as the clattering ring of dumped over metal bits and tools. Crap. He ran back to the swamp and we all hid in the bushes as two lizardmen stepped out from inside to look around.

Brother Beren blessed the group and we stood up firing and shooting. Javelins flew back and forth and then a few other lizardmen made themselves seen – two of them hurling spells! One of them cast a hold person at Soren, freezing the ranger in place, and the other shot a silence spell at the party, ending spell casting until Brother Beren and Coruth’tae both backpedalled away into the swamp until they could hear again. Arnog stayed to help Soren who was getting walloped by halberd wielding foes and we were putting a better plan into place to strike back at the enemies who were arrayed against us.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Meet 96, Adv 9, 4/3/10

For a long time I had toned down the lethality of my game due to 2 main factors: 1) Under the modified 1st ed/3.5 ed I play character creation takes some 40 mins and because of that I generally play with kid gloves until a party exceeds 3rd level (lots of "knocked to 0", "you pass out", that sort of stuff) and 2) I was not a big fan as a player of single "save or die" situations while playing - especially if I've had some 30, 40, or more sessions with a single character.

But - there is a sweet spot in D&D - between 5th and 9th - where the characters make that slow plodding step from "schmuck with a sword" to notorious, known, or even heroic. And it's when the characters as a group or individually overcome odds and situations that would be stacked against them that makes for good story telling around the table.

While looking for filler adventure, I decided to use one (ie: module) that I had played some half dozen times in my youth (Thank you, Kev, Jerry, and Dan!) and mess around with the contents to make it more in line with my current game/world. And in it - were basilisks.

And that meant: save vs gaze attack or be turned to stone.

And I decided to leave them in. There are 6 basilisks in the dungeon and the party has encountered 4 of them - and one of the members has been turned to stone and then had said stone statue arm broken from his body.

I think more and more strongly as I've gotten older that going back to some of the more original and traditional roots of the game are the way for me and my players. I don't use rose colored glasses - not everything in the halcyon days were wonderful and the good old days were a very specific time. So I pick, dip, and sample from 35 years of accumulated D&D lore and glean the pieces that work for me and my group.

I don't appeal to everyone - but I do have great games and good people who come back.

And that's all that matters.

Write up follows:

We took stock of our situation and decided to press on a bit more, anxious to see if we could get the 25 lizardman tails as bounty as we had been tasked. We returned to the area outside the giant sundew room and took a good look at the options, deciding to go down the long northern hallway as opposed to the passage on the right. Just to be safe, Olthar checked out the smaller corridor a dozen paces, listening at the closed door and hearing nothing.

The thief then went down the long walk until it turned to the left, ending at 2 sets of double doors. The one on the left was partially ajar and some sort of breeze was blowing dead leaves and grit about the hall, the pair on the right were closed but a number of sibilant lizardman voices could be heard beyond them. He returned and we talked about what was before us.

We wanted to go and take out the lizardmen, relying on surprise to do so – but on getting closer, we were unsure if we could pull it off as they were sitting in what was obviously a stonecutter’s shed (as could be seen through the cracks in the doors) and there was another set of doors that went out beyond the complex. If we failed to get them all at once, some might run and attract more lizardmen to assault us – and from our count on looking through the door – there were 6 already in the shed.

Gwyn suggested we leave through the double doors on the left which obviously went outside, sneak around to the other outer door by the stonecutter shed and attack from both sides. We went quietly to the left double doors and followed the dwarf in with care. It was a cemetery, overgrown, old, and decaying. The trees were dying and the undergrowth was thick, obscuring clear view beyond 25’ or so. There was a sense of being watched, and watched with ill favor.

Most of the markings were of Sif, which had Coruth’tae question that this might not be the temple area of Thor as had been mentioned with the wizard’s bane potions. There was a path, narrow and winding, and a stone tomb overgrown with an iron door. We opted to stay on the path and avoid the tomb. It was most of the way through the cemetery that we realized it would not open outside the complex and that the path seemed to wrap back around to the front when the strangest things began happening.

A couple of vines tried to pick Gwyn’s pocket and the dwarf instead of cutting the fronds spun and danced forward. Then a 300 lb tree limb broke free from above and almost splattered the party who jumped away barely in time, the group split in two. We opted to head back for the doors and get out of here as this was a bad idea.

Tree limbs began swinging wildly, two of the party members were entangled and had to be cut free, and near the entrance a pair of 4’ long giant ants burst out of the growth and snagged Olthar, trying to drag him to their any hole and bring him down. He was grabbed and dragged back while Gwyn readied a flask of oil and Arnog led the group out of the cemetery and the dwarf set the place ablaze. Fire raced across the dried wood and the entire place hissed, squirmed, and squealed.

And then the door to the stonecutter shed opened and the 4 lizardmen assaulted our flank with reckless and terrible fury. Two of them slammed long handled halberds at us, axe heads splitting armor and shields. Two of them hurled spears with barbed heads at us, effectively hooking some of the party while then pulling back on the corded leather that was tied to the back of each spear! Olthar was badly hurt, barely holding on at a single hit point.

Soren was hooked and in pain, Gwyn took some punishing blows, Arnog was struggling to get to the front but was trapped in the back. The dwarf hacked off one of the lizardman’s arms. Spells fired and lizardmen swung and there was the cry of battle and the snap of the whip. Coruth’tae grew anxious and hurled a fear spell into the room, sending two of the lizardmen into retreat and also affecting the ranger, Soren who was caught in the blast. Soren raced away, spear still in his shoulder, knocking down Olthar and kicking him in the head – that single point of damage enough to cause the thief to swoon and pass out.

The fire behind us grew hotter as the cemetery was being consumed. One of the lizardmen tried to force Gwyn back into the conflagration but was unable to uproot the stoic dwarf. Bit by bit, the lizardmen paid in their blood and flesh, but the party was suffering the same, our strength flagging and wearing down. Poison was hurled and Soren, still affected by fear, ran Arnog over and took off down the hall – stumbling into two MORE lizardmen who emerged from near the stables! The party’s fighter growled, took out his sword, and Arnog rose to his feet and threw his armor class to the wind to try and help Soren before the ranger was slain.

Gwyn had managed to kill off another of the lizardmen and the one with the severed arm had died from his wounds – leaving only two left, both of them struggling against the group. Detheron called on Frey and a bobcat burst into being, tearing at one of the lizardman’s feet and legs, their oily blood sluicing across the ground. Arnog hit the two lizardmen at the same time that Soren overcame his fear spell, the fighter stepping in front and getting badly wounded while he dished out terrible blows of his own.

The fight wound down as the last of the enemy fell over, the party horribly wounded, most of us under 20 hit points (some of us as low as 6!). The doorway out of the stonecutter’s shed was barred from our side with a stout oaken timber and we hacked off tails, grabbed belt pouches, and ran to rejoin Arnog and Soren who were nervously looking about – if even a single enemy approached us, there was no guarantee we would prevail.

There was though on fleeing the complex but we felt we would be seen in the swamp so we then though about where to hide out. We went back through the sundew room, past the alcove, and to the room with the 30’ deep pit. Once here we climbed down and Norris came last, untying the rope that would announce us being here and using his levitating boots to get to the bottom.

Detheron had few spells left if any and he dispensed them where he could. Norris did the same and the party was then bandaged up and ate a cold meal of trail rations from our skins. We decided we would stay here in the darkness, no lights, under the edge of the pit in the rubble, until tomorrow and then decide in to press on and get more tails for bounty (we had 16 out of 25) or to go back to Eider instead.

Olthar kept first watch and it wasn’t long after the group fell asleep that he heard voices coming. Not lizardmen, but common! Three men in brigantine, bearing swords and torches, crossed overhead talking about the group and that they were looking about for the lizardman chief who wanted them found. Consensus was they might still be in the area or they might have left – but they were looking around with care.

Eventually the three men came back and crossed the pit above again, never noticing the party below and still talking about the bounty. At some point some hours later a basilisk came to the edge of the pit to sniff about, and Olthar and Soren (who was wakened up) saw the 8 legged lizard, they did learn that the gaze attack did NOT work in the infravision spectrum and a single arrow sent the beast to leave with a snarling hiss.

The night passed and we woke up after a long time, well rested and feeling much better. We broke our fast, checked our wounds, oiled our swords, prayed for our spells, and then decided we would press on and check out the complex for more lizardmen.

We went back the way we had come, noting the door to the stables was opened now and the bodies once in there (as well as the hall) were no longer there. We then opted to NOT go back to the stonecutter’s shed, but to go east down the right hall and check out that direction. The single door there was relistened to and Olthar declared it safe. The thief grabbed the knob, turned it, and pushed the door in.

And was turned to stone.

A basilisk on the other side hissed at the group and we were flustered. Damn it! Olthar was stone! Norris tried to roll past the door but the basilisk’s gaze caught him fleetingly, making his fingers numb until he was able to shake it off. Gwyn was trapped on the other side hall past the door and didn’t want to run past. At that point the basilisk started to shove its way into the hall when the group heard a stony snap as Olthar’s arm still gripping the door handle broke away from the rest of him as the 350 lb lizard shoved its way into the corridor.

Detheron called on obscuring mists to block all vision and Arnog put a large sack over his head and ran forward, sword swinging wildly. We hacked and slashed and there was talk of firing blindly into the mist and Gwyn was frantic to hack at the basilisk on the other side when the dwarf’s keen ears picked up the sound of something approaching behind him. Attracted to the noise of the battle.

Another god damned basilisk.

He jumped and leaped, teeth clacking just on his heels, trying to get over the 1st basilisk that Arnog was engaging. Detheron told the group to get back and the druid pulled out a precious piece of greater mistletoe, screamed out to Frey, and filled the hallway with terrible divine flames from his god to strike down and consume both of the deadly gaze reptiles.

That was it – we were done. Gwyn used his axe to hack the handle off the door with Olthar’s hand still gripping it and Arnog picked up the heavy statue of the elven thief and shouldered it as we made our way to the stables, snuck out the door, and raced off into the swampy woods and away from the lizardmen and their temple complex.

It took the group almost 8 hours of slow, plodding effort to make it back to the gates of Eider. Their clothes were swamp stained, boots filled with muck, faces haggard, one of their members turned to stone and missing his arm (Olthar), and another one inexplicably missing in the temple (Zoltan). Detheron felt that in the course of a few days he could cast enough mending spells to reattach the stone arm to Olthar’s statue (with Gwyn’s help as the dwarf had a keen eye for stonework). We were at the gates at 5 in the afternoon, Norris and Coruth’tae still not allowed within the city, exhausted and in need of help and hopefully someone who could tell us how to turn our companion from stone to flesh once again.

Meet 95, Adv 9, 3/20/10

I had a long time member drop out of the game this week. His reasons are his own and I honestly wish him well in his endeavors. However he was a staple around the table (even including his flakey attendance, characters, and attention) and the group was initially concerned on how I was going to handle it (as I have a small group of tag-a-long characters that I DM-run during absenses and what-not).

So when I had him turn up missing during an encounter - and scarfing the group's healing wand to boot - eyebrows were raised and the party went looking.

And then I threw basilisks, devious traps, lizardmen, and ghouls at the group and they didn't give a hoot after the 5 round of combat where the missing party member disappeared to.

Write up follows:

We spent a few minutes getting our bearings and cleaning up some of the obvious wounds before readying ourselves and moving out. Olthar took the lead this time, checking carefully for traps and other issues along the way. There was an area of strange barrels and boxes of very rotted and decaying food stuffs and wines that had been shoved down a shallow corridor. We spent a few minutes looking them over, finding nothing of value, before moving on to the area which involved the party climbing to a 2nd floor.

At this point Coruth’tae noticed that Zoltan was not with him and no one in the group remembered when they saw the gypsy last. Telling Detheron he’d be right back, the grey elf walked backwards a short distance, calling softly for our friend as he looked around. According to his infravision, there was some tell tale heat signatures on the floor, fading now, that proved that a single person went back this way. He followed along, going beyond the ghoul room and even further back.

Meanwhile the rest of the group joined Olthar at the top of the steps. The chamber was sizeable, but the middle 20’ section of so had collapsed due to fire, dropping down to the first floor and then THAT floor had collapsed and it was straight down to the ruined basement level. On the left wall was maybe 5” of crumbling floor, on the right wall was perhaps 2’ of solid planking still, and across the middle was some unsteady but functional beams from the ceiling above that was acting like a bridge of sorts. A few plans were tried out, and the floor below was dangerously covered in broken trash, but it was Norris and his levitating boots that provided some solution. The bard travelled across the middle of the beam, floating just over the surface, towing a rope with him to help whoever came next to get across.

As for Coruth’tae, he got down to one of the doors and found it not only closed, but spiked from the other side! He bent his shoulder to the stout panel, working at it repeatedly until he heard first one, and then another metal piton slip free. He went to his waist to get out his shadow wand when he then noticed that his healing wand was missing! Damn – did Zoltan take that? Why? What happened? What was the purpose? He walked on, noticing that there was some strange noise from down the far hall. He approached, walked towards the opened door, and saw that the “repaired wall” had been broken down from this side, opening to the courtyard beyond. And coming through was a large wedge-shaped lizard head, 350#, hissing and dragging – basilisk.

Coruth’tae ran. The 8-legged lizard followed as the illusionist raced to the corner and thought about slamming up an illusion – he opted against it instead blindly shot a lightning bolt around the corner. The basilisk howled and roared, and the wooden and plaster wall crumbled away from the thunderous impact of the bolt, the lightning scoring far into the courtyard beyond.

As for the rest of the group, Soren was holding a rope anchored to the far wall by Norris and held tight by Arnog. The ranger worked across the wide right hand side of the wall when a portion of the floor slid free and the entire right wall fell in on him, dropping down to the ruined floor below. The ranger struggled back to the platform. It was then that we heard running and Coruth’tae returned.

We pulled him to the side and in an instant he told us what was coming. Norris was on the other side of the room, and the rest of us waited carefully while the basilisk ran up the stairs and ahead a few paces after an illusion of Coruth’tae that had been glamoured onto the beam bridge. Swords slammed down and poisoned arrows and bolts tore into the gargantuan lizard. We fought with eyes squinted or fully shut, hanging onto the scaly hide as we hit the beast again and again, its toothy maw devouring Arnog’s leg as the burly fighter slammed the beast in the head with his sword. And then it was done.

Detheron took to removing the creature’s eyes, the task easier as Arnog had hacked the beast’s head off. It was going along, with the party beginning to work their way across to the other side with the use of ropes and anchors when we heard a 2nd basilisk racing towards us from the stairs! The group drew weapons fast and as the beast hit the top of the stairs at a full run we hit it with everything we had, poison included. Its whipping tail slammed into the group as it dumped over the side of the hole and fell 30’ to the floor below. Arrows struck it repeatedly until there was no more noise. A trip down the hole had us get the other basilisk’s eyes and some healing was dispensed.

As for Zoltan’s disappearance and seemingly theft, we had no answers. It was not in the gypsy’s character at all and we were wondering if something else was afoot. The decision was made to press on, and we did so.

The hall meandered for a bit, another alcove filled with 3 barrels of vinegary wine. The smell of honey was growing strong and there was a decidedly noisy buzz in the air. Olthar went forward and we looked on as the thief entered the next room. Not too large, perhaps a ten count of paces square, door on the other side. Hundreds of flies and a 5’ diameter, 2’ tall ropy pile of tarry looking rags in the center. Didn’t trust it.

We discussed what to do when the ropy bundle had dragged itself closer and snapped out a pile of tendrils, slapping into Olthar and dragging him halfway across the chamber. Arnog and Gwyn leapt down and hacked at the mass of vegetation but their weapon’s stuck fast. Olthar was slammed backwards into the beast and his mouth and nose were hit, the thing trying to suffocate him. Detheron called it a sundew and we needed to break the adhesive and fast. Vinegar would do it.

Norris and Coruth’tae went back to the alcove and started rolling barrels down the stairs, the wooden staves smashing in and gallons and gallons of acrid liquid hitting the vegetable menace. The adhesive weakened and Olthar was pulled free. The sundew was unable to do more than flail about as we struck it again and again, slaying it at last. We looked underneath it and found old bones, scraps of hard to digest metal (button and buckles), as well as a ring of spell storing and some coinage! We snagged the treasures and took time to move on. We still needed lizardmen tails for the bounty.

The door opened to another area of the complex, the walls taking on a different look. We opted to go left (the other choices were straight and right) and went to the door at the hall’s end. Cracking it opened, we saw it had once been a stables, 6 stalls wide, loft above, a large double door leading presumably outside. But there were 4 lizardmen there – and it was our first time actually seeing one (that hadn’t become an emaciated ghoul).

Just a click of 6’ tall, very wide and muscular shoulders, large biceps, curious 4 fingered hands set in a fan shape and deeply taloned, some had a crest of red from their flat noses down their backs, large heavy balancing tails, each had to be closer to 260 lbs. Ok...not at all what we expected.

We wanted to take them out and do it fast, not to let any of them get away or raise an alarm. A plan was hatched; Norris, Olthar, and Soren would enter carefully and climb to the loft. Once up there they would net and poison sleep the two lizardmen closest to the door. Arnog and Gwyn would sneak in after the other 3 were in place and charge the closest two. Detheron would support with spells if needed and Coruth’tae would guard the hall to make sure we weren’t surprised by visitors.

The set up was fairly easy except when Soren leaned against a bad section of the loft and it groaned ominously. One of the lizardmen stabbed his sword randomly upwards from inside one of the stalls but after not hitting anything went back and returned to the 4 way conversation. And then it was time. Norris leapt down and missed netting one of the lizardmen. Soren drew bead on one of them and shot it, knocking it out. Olthar leapt down with sword and rapier and with weapons coated with poison, took out another one.

But the fight was on and Gwyn and Arnog was surprised to find the lizardmen for all their brute were also skilled fighters – and the two of them were suddenly not facing two easy marks but were fighting for their lives. Soren shot from above and Detheron, low on spells, called for guidance and other small blessings from Frey. It was touch and go until one and then the other lizardman fell.

But during the struggle the sounds of our fighting had attracted other beings – ghouls! A 5 count ran into the hall and Coruth’tae was forced back into the vinegary soaked chamber, ghouls scrabbling to tear at him. Only a frantic and life saving Shield spell kept the snarling undead at bay – but still their combined mass drove him into the corner. He wailed for help and Arnog and Gwyn ran to aid.

Arnog tore into the backs of the ghouls with savage fury and within a few minutes, the last of the undead were down and the grey elf was safe. We all regrouped back into the stables area and figured the time was between 3 and 4 in the afternoon – deciding what our next course of action was going to be.