- In one of the first rooms entered, both Punka and Saas were killed in a savage melee with hobgoblins (what is it with hobgoblins?!) I'm pretty sure Jesse in second place for quickness of new character death (right behind my friend Bill, who's character died in the first moments of the first room entered in our very first session...) This was sad, but Jesse...simply flipped to the next page of his notebook. He had come prepared with three characters! Pure old school, ladies and gentlemen. His next character was another Cleric named Marjoram, and T.J. rolled up a thief which, when he carried over his experience from Punka, turned out to be 3rd level (Punka had been 2nd level.) Death sometimes has its benefits...
- In another previously explored room, an old wine cellar, some of them thought a bit of a drink might be good. Marjoram, devotee of some jolly Finnish deity, broke off a bottleneck, took a swig (DM rolls a d6), failed a save vs. poison, swelled up, choked, and died. "She's dead?", someone asked. "Yup." Other characters quietly put the bottles back or stuck them in backpacks to use on gullible monsters...
- Jesse's third (and final) character, Pelf the Thief (you know, T.J.'s new Thief, Guppy, caught up with the party at some point, too, I just don't remember when...) found the rest of the party just after they had opened a tightly stuck door. Once dislodged, it expelled strange fumes; most of them failed a save vs. poison, which allowed me to roll many more d6s: Mardias and Melvin both suddenly not only believed that they were the last Lord Gristlehelm, but found they had perfect knowledge of the entire dungeon. Both immediately took off for parts unknown. Catgut and Nimfitz's hireling Veri both believed they were dead, and so collapsed to the floor. Nimfitz believed that he was a boa constrictor, and so began trying to constrict the "dead" Veri. Spike-of-the-Death believed he was a tree frog, and began making hopping leaps at the wall, trying to stick to it. Alan, Melvin's hireling, believed he was a gorilla, and so thumped his chest and tried to groom Catgut. Loric, Mondlach, Guppy and, soon, Pelf, looked on bemusedly. I'm pretty sure they stopped Nimfitz when he tried to swallow Veri... The room itself was bubbled, burned, charred, and empty.
- Melvin and Mardias came back to their senses in complete darkness. Luckily, Melvin's magic sword glows, and so they saw they were standing in what looked like a corridor with two dead-ends. Melvin concentrated on Alan, I believe, and proved without a doubt, as the sword pulled him forward, that part of its magic was locating objects... they did eventually find the secret door and the rest of the party.
- In a niche in an otherwise unassuming corridor, they found a gigantic golden head, a bust of the evilly leering last Lord Gristlehelm. About six feet high and four feet in diameter, T.J. calculated via iphone that it probably weighed in the neighborhood of 45 tons. Catgut climbed up on top of it, but couldn't find anything useful. Much discussion ensued about what the hell to DO with the thing. Finally, Melvin decided to chop off the nose with his magic sword. This worked, but his failed save vs. spells resulted in his face drawing up into a mirror-image of Gristlehelm's awful leer. Net result? His already low charisma was halved (down to three, I believe...) At some point here they were attacked by an ogre and a wolf, but took them down, with a sleep spell and some arrows. Man, adventurers are savage...
- They discovered what must have been a wizard's workroom, which ended up having a strangely thin wall on one side. Pelf broke through into a corridor where the mournful ghosts of dwarves stopped their work and pointed to a finely made dwarven hand axe, embedded in the wall. Pelf picked it up, and the ghosts faded away...
- Two doors in the room had complicated glyphs carved on them. Both were locked. When Guppy tried to pick one, it blasted flames at him, which he mostly avoided...
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
- They really wanted to find the kobolds who'd ambushed them last time, but no luck...
- Narpet, hoping someday to become a lich, is hoping that Octague was looking for something in the dungeon that might help him achieve that goal. After an inconclusive conversation, he did, however, agree to paint his face white, "In honor of Father Orcus..."
- After kicking in a door, they attracted some ghosts. Most of the party failed their saving throws and took off in fear, hiding behind broken furniture in the room beyond the door. The ghosts went away eventually, and Fireskull, being undead and therefore not subject to being afraid of ghosts, got bored. He went wandering about nearby corridors while the others recovered, breaking down locked doors and shouting "It's just me!" to the rest of the party. He discovered some stairs leading down and, amazingly, was unmolested by wandering monsters...
- They found what appears to have been some sort of arena, with risers, a dias, and six locked grates in the floor. Peering into the grates, they saw sparkly things, but also heard slight moans and the scrape of metal and bones. In true old school style, they decided to leave well enough alone for now.
- Through a secret door in a nearby corridor, they found a strange, felted hallway running behind the seats in the auditorium, with small holes at head height. For servants of House Gristlehelm to spy, or worse, on guests?
- In a distant room that appeared to have been part parlor, part prison, they roused the ghost of a once-beautiful young woman, horribly disfigured by torture, who attacked them by flinging freezing blood from her wounds. Susan immediately said her cleric was going to fall to her knees and pray to send the ghost's soul onward. I thought this was so cool---she didn't really know about "turning", so she just tried what seemed natural for a cleric to do. I gave her three chances, getting harder each time: 2d6, 9 or higher/11 or higher/three dice, all the same number. It didn't work, but that wasn't the point (I mean, she is only first level, after all!) See, in the room description, I had written: "Mutilated, broken, maligned, wrathful. A cleric of a loving GOD might be able to lay this tragic wraith to rest." So, there you go... Defeated only through the agency of Melvin's magic sword, a diary found amongst her bones revealed her to have been Gwyneth the Pale, beloved daughter and heir to House Hyacinth, mortal foes of House Gristlehelm. If I'm remembering correctly, they took her skull with them, though it may only have been the diary.
- In one room, a pool was bubbling up from somewhere, filling about a third of the space. The wet walls and floor were crumbling and corroded. Strange movements and sounds near the pool turned out, on further investigation, to be literally hundreds of thousands of centipedes. When someone came too near the pool, furious motion in the swarm resolved into two roughly man-shaped forms composed entirely of centipedes, which came lurching out towards the characters. They managed to scatter the mantipedes long enough for Narpet, using his ring of water walking, to skim out on the pool and find the robed bones of what was apparently once a magic user. They left the room with a potion of healing and a scroll.
- And then there was the column of garbage...
Friday, September 18, 2009
Dedicated to legendary publisher of Alarums and Excursions, Lee Gold, it is packed with delicious old school goodness. Some highlights:
- Erol Otus Art Challenge color-entry Grand Prize-winning cover by Mark Allen. Never have stirges seemed so cool...
- Sandbox Prepartation by the "Chicago Wizard" Mike Shorten
- I Need a Dungeon Right Now! by Jeff Reints
- Another installation of Baz Blatt's Tekumel-themed The Devil's in the Details (for which I had the honor to illustrate an ahoggya...)
- Another massive level for Fight On! community-created mega-dungeon The Darkness Beneath
- Enharza, City of Thieves by crazily creative Argentinian Santiago Luis "Zulgyan" Ortis
- World Creating as a Hobby by Lee Gold (who should certainly know something about it...)
- Naked Went the Gamer guest editorial by The Forge creator and indie-game iconoclast Ron Edwards, which has, not surprisingly, garned some controversy amongst participants in the Old School Renaissance.
So? What the hell are you doing still reading this? Go and buy it!
(and then go check out EVERY SINGLE LINK in this post---you won't regret it...)
Friday, August 28, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
- Trying to impress a love interest
- Chronic underestimator of danger
- Has terrifying dreams commanding the character to awaken a sleeping god (Max got that one...)
- Crazy old uncle has filled PC's head with glamorous nonsense about dungeon crawling
- And (drum roll please) an actual score of 100, made by a drop-in player who was simply wating for his group to get there: A deity in disguise, visiting the dungeon as a sightseer. He had made a magic user named Exi Dor (ya get it?) and, when his group showed up, Loki (that's who he really was, you see) quipped "Well, I think you've got it from here" and vanished... Perfect.
- In the freakin' entryway, the characters found a loose stone with treasure hidden behind it. Lucky bastards!
- They found a room, painted all gold, with a big crack in the floor that disgorged a giant ant. They killed it and left quickly.
- An ambush by a group of kobolds forced them to leave the dungeon, rest for a few days, and return. It wasn't until later that I remembered that both Melvin and Fireskull, as 2nd level fighting men, should've both gotten multiple attacks against their .5 HD foes... Oh well. Of course, they didn't remember, either...
- Stumbling upon an evil cleric and his orcish henchmen, they killed the orcs and Narpet charmed the cleric. Since this was apparently once a wine-cellar, they also decided to drink some of the wine. A random roll found it to be extremely intoxicating...
- Now that the cleric (Octague) was Narpet's best friend, he showed them them the way he'd gotten in, which led through a room featuring a warm, algae-scummed pool with a demonic statue cavorting in the middle of it.
- Octague led them to a large room filled with old chains, hobbles and muzzles, including the skeleton of dire wolf. Large double doors to the west were ignored, and instead they followed the cleric out the doors to the east, up through a worked cave mouth and into the woods outside. In hollow were many rusted cages, which was all they had time to see before getting bum rushed by a sparrow-headed birdbear (see Fight On! 4).A quick melee saw the charmed cleric actually kill the beast, rolling a natural 20. Go figure.
- Melvin just made 3rd level: now officially the highest level character in the game! See what showin' up gets you?
Sunday, July 19, 2009
- More giant weasels. I don't know what it was about Xylarthen and weasels,I'm pretty sure someone's gotten hurt everytime they've mixed it up with these large, mean, smelly rodents...
- In one room a door was opened, which disgorged a hideously cackling skeleton doing a good impression of the Grim Reaper. He laid about with his scythe until Kohenim turned him, at which point he leapt back through the door and slammed it shut. Perhaps judiciously, the party decided to leave it shut.
- In another room, while searching, they heard sounds outside a door they hadn't yet opened. It became clear it was a group of kobolds. The door was yanked open, revealing an exploratory horde of somewhere close to 10 of the little blighters. Negotiations began, until Exis became impatient. Striding up to the hobgoblin leader, he punched him solidly in the head, dropping the doglizard in his tracks. Needless to say, the rest panicked and ran. The backstage of this was Max saying, "I'm gonna punch him in the face." Pan to group of players looking confusedly. Says I, "Are you sure?" Max: "Yeah!" "Okay," says I, "Roll that 20-sider." Pan to a natural 20. Wide-shot: Whole table cheering a grinning 5-year old. Too cool.
- In yet another room, some cheeky hobgoblins demanded a toll to pass through the room. Again, negotiations were in hand when Exis decided he'd had enough. Another punch in the face. Another natural 20. Naturally the hobgoblins tossed out their toll-box and took off.
- Eventually, the kobolds were cornered and dispatched. Another nine hobgoblins were encountered, a fierce battle ensued, and Redwood the Elf was slain. The wounded party decamped with his body, and thereby mostly survived their first foray into the deeper levels of the Tower.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
- Upon entering the dungeon, the party decided to check out the previously discovered secret ladder-shaft. However, upon listening at the southern hallway that leads to what I now think of as "The Room of Variable Death", Rose Petal heard some strange noises. Deciding to investigate, as they got closer, they all started to hear a banging, clanking and scraping of metal on stone, as well as an eerie screeching. Melvin busted down the door, uncovering a terrible white ape chained to a post newly-sunk into the middle of the room. As it rushed him, someone, I'm pretty sure it was Nimfitz's hireling Veri, shot it with an arrow. The first test of the new combat rules proved devastating for the blanched simian: It died instantly with a arrow sunk deep in its eyeball.
- Nifitz volunteered to climb down the ladder-shaft. Taking a torch, he descended into the dark. And kept descending. And kept descending. About the point where the flickering lights of the party were just a pinprick above him, he started hearing noises reminiscent of those made by the previously slain white ape, and the air in the shaft became foul. He finally saw the bottom of the ladder, which came out the open ceiling of a room. Suddenly a clawed hand attached to a shaggy, white-furred arm grabbed the ladder and shook it, while a hideous shrieking echoed up the shaft. It was obvious that there was more than one creature below. Nimfitz, decidedly unsuicidal, headed back up. The party, after some discussion, decided to leave well enough alone for the moment, reasoning that the long descent implied an entrance into significantly deeper levels...
- Returning to the room where they had previouly battled three orcish wights, they carefully checked out the door that the trio had apparently been guarding. It opened onto a stairway leading down into unusually cold darkness. This they left alone for now in favor of filling in the gaps on their map.
- While filling in these gaps, they found a smallish room containing nothing but a bronze statue of a heroically proportioned, nude man with a face of demonic aspect. It was pointing straight at the door, but missing the pointing hand. Many smart adventuring tricks were tried, but to no avail---the statue didn't move, come to life, or kill anyone. Not yet, anyway.
- Approaching a mapped room, they listened at its closed door and heard arguing. Busting in, they surprised an exploratory band of six gnolls. Combat ensued and dragged on for awhile, with neither side gaining much of an upper hand. Finally, Rose Petal stepped into the room, surveyed the stamping, yelling melee, and promptly put all the remaining combatants to sleep. Final fatalities included Reni, one of Nimfitz's hirelings, as well as both Shieldbiter brothers. The gnollish loot included a carefully wrapped sword which, when Melvin unsheathed it, glimmered in the dim light and seemed to fit nicely into his Lawfully-aligned hand...
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The title of this post originates as the result of some interesting discussion that flared briefly in the blogosphere a couple of weeks ago. It started on The Lord of the Green Dragons in a post by EN Shook, then split off onto Mike’s Cgowiz’s Old Guy RPG Blog and Benoist’s The Citadel of Eight. All three posts are well worth reading, including the comments, but if you’re lazy or pressed for time, here’s the gist:
Shook expressed concern that “Old School” as a term for a nascent “movement” was ultimately doomed to fundamentalist pigeonholing. Seeing a stultifying lust for a particular “original” ruleset, he worries about the trees getting in the way of the forest. He feels that a subtle revisionism is happening in the form of people slapping later assumptions onto the original text and creating a false “new canon” of how the game should be played. His recommendation is to take up the term “Old Guard” instead, to focus attention on the method of play and the resulting product, the building and those who live there instead of the tools used to build and maintain it. To quote him, “The coin of the roleplaying realm should be the world.” Mike and Benoist’s posts amplified and discussed a couple of those main points.
For myself, I agree with the core of his argument but not at all with his premise. I hear no voices clamoring for strict adherence to any iteration of the rules, let alone the Original D&D rules as they stand (for which you can make a pretty strong argument that they must be interpreted to be used.) While other-edition assumptions can certainly color someone’s encounter with ODD, and I speak authoritatively from my own baggage here, it was actually constant exposure to others struggling with those same assumptions that helped me finally release the ballast with a simple realization: Old School isn’t about a rule set; it’s about a mind set. A method of play used to grow a particular world or milieu, which is why I agree with his essential conclusion. “The coin of the roleplaying realm should be the world” is now engraved on my +2 pencil of dungeon-scribbling.
Given that insight, I really don’t think it matters what the hell you call “it,” whatever “it” is. Due to a newfound interest in Napoleonic wargaming, I even like the term Old Guard! But I don’t think this is a movement per se; it really seems more like the actual Renaissance, where the collision of a critical mass of new and old knowledge literally changed the landscape forever. I know it’s changing me.
You see, I started fresh with RPGs a bit over five years ago when my last group imploded, and I was dangerously close to chucking it all. By pure chance someone directed me to The Forge, and it was like a bomb went off in my head: Here was a whole New School of gaming. I devoured it, as only a geek and a theory-junky can. I read, wrote, designed and played. It was like an interactive, game-design college degree, and I learned an amazing amount from a lot of brilliant people, some of whom I keep in contact with. However, after about 3.5 years of it, I found myself obsessing over creating games composed of rules to create a particular kind of story. It was all about constraints. I realized that this had sucked all the simple fun out of the game, in favor of what I was viewing as artistic necessity. This was a terrible irony since my strongest memories, which I had been trying to recreate with my tightly bound rule sets, were of the fun had when first playing the game. I had to let it go.
Enter quick and dirty, ocr’d pirate copies of all the ODD books. I’d actually first found them about eight years ago, and had read and ruminated, but only found Knights and Knaves and, soon after, the ODD74 board, about 1.5 years ago, to give me some guidance. I now considered myself Old School. I did indeed start with the idea of using the rules “as written,” but that soon faded. I started posting, then Fight On! took off, and then I started actually (gasp!) playing again, after an almost 1.5-year hiatus. I’m not agreeing with the Old School Renaissance, or believing in it, or even supporting it. I’m participating in it. And I’m doing it with a mindset I haven’t had since I was an entranced 11 year-old making Silverclaw the Werebear, my first ever character. And then soon after another character named General Wolfe, who was a skeleton and fired lightning bolts from his bony hands. Which isn’t supported by any written rules except
We have attempted to furnish an ample framework, and building should be both easy and fun. In this light, we urge you to refrain from writing for rule interpretations or the like unless you are absolutely at a loss, for everything herein is fantastic, and the best way is to decide how you would like it to be, and then make it just that way! On the other hand, we are not loath to answer your questions, but why have us do any more of your imagining for you? Write to us and tell about your additions, ideas, and what have you. We could always do with a bit of improvement in our refereeing.
This is from the last page of the 3rd Little Brown Book, “The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures.” And really, it’s the only rule that ends up mattering. It trumps all the other rules, and underscores another one of Shook’s points questioning the possibility of a movement cohering around guidelines. He’s right. It can’t. That rule won’t let it. When Gygax decided to change the game with AD&D, he had to very explicitly erase that rule: If you followed it, fine, but you were then playing something other than Official D&D.
Maybe you don’t buy my last paragraph. Maybe that quote doesn’t strike you as a rule. But if there’s one thing I learned in all my time at The Forge, it’s that the most important rules for these games we play are often unspoken, implied, or simply unassuming. On the other side of my +2 pencil, I now inscribe: “Decide how you would like it to be, and then make it that way.” This to me is the guiding principal of the School that, in my mind at least, I like to think of as not New, or Old, but Open. I use the ODD rules as my base because I like their aesthetics, I like their historicity, I like their tropes, which are deep in my blood. They are an Open School in which I strive to learn how to Have the Most Fun Playing the Game.
Whew. That ended up being a lot longer than I had intended. Next post, I’ll walk the talk and present my first truly major houseruling, which will do away with Hit Points, the Combat Matrix, and the standard way of making Ability checks. :)
Saturday, March 21, 2009
- Upon reentering the dungeon, the group decided to head right back to the room where they'd previously defeated the ogre. They were fairly convinced that an unexplored doorway led to a treasure room. I'm not sure why, but they were. Opening a door somewhat less than cautiously alerted four new hobgoblin guards who were apparently inspired by the gods of war. Arp brought one down with a thrown handaxe, but then almost immediately Dolph, one of Arp's hirelings, got speared to death, followed shortly thereafter by Sneerglaw. Never let it be said that a balrog goes softly into the dark night: I gave him a chance for a "death immolation", which he succeeded at, and burned his slayer to ash. After a bit more rough-and-tumble, the rest of the hobgoblins followed. The treasure room turned out to be a stairway leading down, down, down.
- Narpet, upon viewing Sneerglaw's blackened skeleton (his flesh had also turned to ash, in the way of all true balrogs...), decided to take his skull since, "it might come in useful!"
- A corridor was passed from which a faint moaning could be heard.
- Upon entering a previously unexplored diamond-shaped room with a door in each point of the diamond, they stumbled upon the eerie tableaux of three pale figures, with their backs to the party,apparently just staring at the door on the far wall. Upon closer inspection, they turned out to be three orcs with torn-up clothing who looked a lot like wights...OH CRAP!
- Since the wights were completely ignoring them, Melvin (coffee's new character) decided to try to hack off one of their heads. Thus was it also discovered that magic weapons were needed... Still, the orcish undead remained unmoved until anyone came within 10' of the door at which they were staring.
- A decision was made to set the wights on fire. Otto was directed to douse them in oil and light them. He (morale check) agreed, and was immediately grabbed by a howling, flaming wight and sucked dry of all his life force. A desperate battle ensued, wherein the party remembered they had some vials of holy water, which they used to good effect. Unfortunately Arp was also sucked dry of his single level, though Torren did get to prove his worth to Sol Invictus by saving the life of one of Nimfitz's hirelings. In the end, a band of five first level characters, along with a few hirelings, managed to kill three wights, with no magic or silver weapons, and only suffered two fatalities. Not too shabby!
- Upon leaving the dungeon with their two wight-slain comrades in order to ensure their quiet rest and stock up on silver daggers, Narpet found the local sorceress, named Jezebel. He successfully traded her Sneerglaw's skull for a (randomly rolled) scroll of Protection from Evil, definitely useful in this current dungeon. Thus did Sneerglaw prove himself a true companion, even from beyond the grave...
- Upon once again venturing into the depths, the party came near the moaning corridor again, only this time managed to hear conversation and footsteps. Dousing their lights and hiding in the dark, two armored figures marched out with six zombies in tow, muttering cryptically about how "these are the ones he wanted" and "we need to get back down right away." Followed by the brave Narpet, they went into the diamond room, through the southerly door, apparently another stairway leading down, down, down...
- They also discovered another large, chained coffin, much like the first which had released the ogrish wight. Amazingly, they decided to mess with it, albeit creatively. Thankfully, it was empty of all but wightish dust and a bit of treasure. Nimfitz, who wanted no part of the proceedings, staked out the nearby hallway and was able to alert the party to an approaching band of four berserkers. He and Narpet each charmed one, who then slew the other two. Thus did the Shieldbiter Brothers join our intrepid group for the foreseeable future...
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Session 2 of the Otherness campaign happened on Sunday and, I must say, it went swimmingly. We had only three players to start with this time: Coffee and T.J. from last time, and my friend Larry, with whom I haven't gamed in far too long. In the last hour we were joined by another friend of mine, R.M. (no, I'm not trying to protect anyone's identities...), who brought along his 9 or 10 year-old son, Max. The players headed down Under Xylarthen's Tower (by the indefatigable Jeff Reints) and made a good run of it: everyone got out alive!
- Coffee and T.J. both attempted to retrieve their characters from the last Session by rolling on The Table of Despair, as found in Fight On! #3, since it seemed unlikely that that particular group would be reforming anytime soon. T.J.'s character Arp the Dwarf received a result of "You emerge unscathed!" and promptly became known as Arp the Lucky. Bahb the Draftee, however, was not so lucky; he was "Lost to time and space," with all that implies. Coffee shrugged it off, however, probably because he was eager to spring his new Balrog character race on me. :)
- Indeed, his well-thought-out race (which can be found written up here) was, unbeknownst to him, exactly the Hargrave route down which I'd been hoping to eventually head. The Spirit of ODD moved in the room and lo, Sneerglaw was born! A man-sized balrog complete with whip, sword and the ability to act as a walking torch headed down into the depths with a dwarf, an elf and four hirelings.
- This was actually the first time I've used hirelings, maybe ever. Arp hired two Fighting Men and Larry's elven character hired two elves functioning for this adventure as Fighting Men, though they were actually women. I had them roll a d6 to see what type of armor their respective flunkies had, and I rolled HP and Loyalty (pg. 13 of Men & Magic), modified by Charisma in Arp's case. We decided on weapons, including a bow for one of the elves, and we were ready to go.
- We also had the first actual play-test of The Devil's in the Details articles I wrote as a column for the first three issues of Fight On!. These tables help players flesh out the three core demi-human races, and T.J. rolled on them for Arp, while Larry used them for his elf, Nimfitz Niraxis. They seemed to work pretty well. Each ended up with some details that piqued their interest, which is just what I was hoping for. The one that got the most running commentary was Nimitz’s “Breeds new animals in pursuit of a singular vision.” Much possibility for future character activities…
- One of Arp’s hirelings, Dolph, managed to kill the giant snake in the first room (which then put smack-down on Sneerglaw in its death throes…) He immediately began referring to his spear as “Serpent Slayer”.
- Sneerglaw freaked out an enormous pack of giant rats by snaring one of their number with his whip and then toasting it as he immolated himself. He later got to cook a couple of giant centipedes as well. I think he also ate some orc thigh... Damn balrogs are almost as useful as a gelatinous cube...
- When joined by two new adventurers, Ballantine the Fighting Man and Redbeard the Dwarf (both detailed a couple of posts ago), played by R.M. and Max, respecitively, Redbeard almost immediately found a secret door. It consisted of nothing more than a shaft with a rope ladder descending into darkness, and they decided to leave it for later, but Max was quite pleased with himself. Almost as proud as in the next room when he quite probably saved Nifmitz from being a snack for a giant weasel by promptly chopping the beast in half. Guess we gotta let the new generation play a bit more often!
- Early on, the party discovered an oversized coffin, secured with chains and a padlock. After some deliberation, they decided to leave it alone. Later, as they walked towards the dungeon entrance, an exploratory band of eight orcs came trooping down the stairs right for them. Some words were exchanged, and as the leader of the orcs raised his weapon to charge, Nimfitz successfully charmed him. The rest of the orcs were understandably confused at their leader’s change of heart, but became more interested when Nimfitz mentioned huge box full of treasure that was chained shut in a nearby room. He admitted that he and his fellow elves and humans were “too weak to break it open”, but surmised that it’d be a snap for a few strapping orcs. The orcs agreed and, as they began working on the chains, the party surreptitiously blocked the door shut with a couple of spikes.
- The orcs did indeed break the chains, and something came out of the coffin. There was a terrible moaning, then much orc-screaming and pounding on shut doors. Then, suddenly, everything was silent. They listened at the door until they heard the coffin room’s far door creak open, pulled the spikes, dodged inside and checked out the coffin. Indeed, there was a decent treasure, including a very valuable golden necklace. They scooped it up in time to hear another door swinging open in the tense silence. Redbeard splashed out an oil flask on the floor of the previous room and tossed a torch on it. The burst of flame showed them an awful sight: An ogre who’d been turned into a wight, naked and bone-pale like some kind of gigantic nosferatu, staring at them over the flames. They did what any good first level adventurers would do: They ran like hell right out of the dungeon. And Larry got Nimfitz a 400 XP bonus (half of what eight orcs were worth) with the blessings of his fellow players.
Under Xylarthen’s Tower is a great adventure, full of oldskoolisms, and they’ve only just scratched the surface. I’m really beginning to see how even a single mega-dungeon could become the focal point of a whole campaign.
Again: Too. Much. Fun.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Reward cycles are critical to rpg design; if they're done well, they make it perfectly clear what characters should be doing. The reward is really the secret engine that drives the game, and you know what? Gygax and Arneson nailed it. How much more clear could they be? And that was one of the problems as time went on: Someone(s) decided that characters should be rewarded for role playing instead of rolling to play, which the game's fundamental structure refutes. I mean, sure, you can change it, houserule it, whatever. But you should at least realize what you're doing. Understanding this earlier would have saved me YEARS of frustration. :0
Back to XP. I'm following the "100xp/hd" rule, evenly divided out amongst all surviving characters, with a small bit of adjustment for Bill's second character of the afternoon, who joined the party after their epic battle with the giant rats.
Here's the breakdown:
- Giant Rats: 7 x 50 = 350
- Goblins: 7 x 50 = 350
- Tunnel Wolves: 2 x 200 = 400
- Skeletons: 4 x 50 = 200
- Evil Cleric: 1 x 300 = 300
Divided: 1600 - 350 = 1250 / 8 = 156.25 each. I'll be nice and round it up to 157.
Also: 350 / 7 = an additional 50 each for all characters except Mob.
Plus: Any characters that have high enough Prime Requisites should add the appropriate percentage.
And don't forget: The small bits of treasure picked up here and there. I didn't keep track of that, but they all split it up immediately, so it's already on the character sheets.
Hm. Not much. The first thing that occurred to me was that it's actually a tactical decision to not take a huge party into the dungeon. Had only five characters gone down, assuming they all survived, their XP would've been effectively doubled.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
- If somewhere around 90% of last time's players show up (which strikes me as unlikely), we can try and find out just what the cleric wanted with that mysterious door in The Ruined Monastery.
- Level 1 of mega-dungeon The Darkness Beneath by Hackman, as found in Fight On! #2.
- Level 1 of mega-dungeon Under Xylarthen's Tower by Jeff Reints.
- Level 1 of mega-dungeon The Mines of Khunmar by Stefan Poag.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Snorri mentions the idea of the FM being able to attack one HD of foe/character level. So, for example, a 7th lvl FM could attack 7 orcs, or 3 bugbears, or a single troll, etc. I used to favor this approach, but after reading Chainmail with opened eyes, decided that any creature with more than a single HD should be considered "Fantastic" and needed more attention from the embattled hero, regardless of their level.
However, I'm all for the the "one attack/character level on any foes of one HD or less", as confusingly demonstrated in the second or third issue of the Strategic Review. I also like, from the thread mentioned, the idea that whenever a FM kills an opponent, he gets a second attack on someone else, until he runs out of foes. Nice and pulpy. Plus, it has the cache of being suggested by Dave Arneson himself!
There's a lot of other good ideas there, too; however, most of them have more crunch than I care to deal with. When it gets down to it, I just believe a higher-level FM should be able to plow through a crowd of goblins with no real problem...
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
- Paul: Torren the Cleric (lawful)
- Chris: Prem the Magic User (chaotic)
- Shane: Gorlim the Fighting Man (lawful)
- Bill: Albar the Cleric (lawful)
- Dawn: Delara the Cleric (chaotic)
- Autumn:Steel Leaf the Elf (neutral)
- T.J.: Arp the Dwarf (neutral)
- Coffee: Bahb the Fighting Man (neutral)
- Players can shift spend some ability scores to increase others, usually at a 2 or 3:1 ratio. I'll let anyone who so desires correct that next time.
- Intelligence over 10 allows for extra languages. So Prem, who has an Int of 16, can actually speak 8 languages. Goodness. We'll fix that next time, too.
- Albar bit it in the first room, in the third round of combat, killed by a giant rat who really, really wanted to eat his eyeballs. So much for platemail. Needless to say, his fellow Adventurers made sure his equipment went to a good home. Bill made a new character (Mob the Neutral Fighting Man, who had a helmet) and joined the group before they even left the room...
- Mob set a tunnel wolf's head on fire.
- In the old dormitory, where there's a long, narrow crack in the tiled floor, it became obvious that something is creeping around on the level below. Something large with a horrible, deep moan that had no compunction about biting Gorlim's 10' pole in half when he poked it around down there.
- Prem, frustrated with three less-than-forthcoming goblin prisoners, threw one on a pile of books covered with yellow fungus. Not an attractive death. Needless to say, the remaining prisoners were suddenly more helpful. Well, until Arp kicked one in the head...
- Steel Leaf, obsessed with moss, was mildly burned by green slime while trying to collect a speicmen in the Moon Pool room. The group followed Bahb's suggestion to burn a path through the slime to the pool, in order to see if there was any treasure to be had. Indeed, a relic of St. Gaxyg the Grey was uncovered which, in Torrem's hands, proved helpful in later encounters.
- Prem, though handy with a knife and a tossed goblin, held on to his single spell until just the right moment, sending a feisty chaotic cleric to dreamland in a room with a mysterious door...