Friday, August 14, 2009


I guess they were busy at The Source last time we played---usually we get some sort of plasitic stand-up with flashy 3e heroes exposing their thighs to hold our table. In the end, though, this is more appropriately old school...

Our last session, played I believe three weeks ago this Sunday, was a first: they took a run at the first full dungeon I've created since high school! Called GRISTLEHELM, it's the underground coilings of House Gristlehelm, the scions of whom were rumored to be werewolves. The last Lord Gristlehelm and his wicked brood were driven below, presumably to perish, and their castle thrown down. The ruins now are peaceful, twined with flowering ivy and birdsong. However, any who look for it can still find the thick wooden door with the spiral stairs leading down into darkness, the golden Gristlehelm wolf head snarling in a flaking scarlet field at its dark, scarred center. Some say the door was sealed with silver and magic. If so, such is no longer the case. The door ratchets open for any wishing to enter...

We had a medium-sized group this time: Will, of course, playing Melvin the Fighting Man, accompanied by his hireling Alan One-Hit; T.J. playing Punka the Fighting Man; Trevor playing Narpet the Magic User; and my son Max playing Fireskull the Skeleton Fighting Man. That's right---a new character race in Otherness. Skeletons may be Fighting Men, Magic Users or Clerics of gods of death (obviously!) They only take one point of damage from arrows, but take an additional die of damage from fire. They're also vulnerable to being Turned by good clerics or commanded by evil ones. Otherwise, they're just like you and me... This all sprung from Max buying and painting a set of undead miniatures in his own expressionistic fashion. He's made several characters now, all directly based on particular miniatures. Two of them (Bloodarex and Mudskel) have even stormed the Ruined Monastery before it was ruined, but that's another post...

A Few Interesting Things
I find I'm still using the General Conflict table from my abortive Judges Guidelines. I mean, I could do something similar with only one die, but I like the curve of two. I actually tried another iteration of these rules with Max one day and, though it worked better, still left me going "meh." I can't say I'm done with tinkering (and lately I've been thinking pretty seriously about switching over to the Holmes rules---that lies on your shoulders, Will!), but the general ODD rules are just so wonderfully SIMPLE...

I'd been perusing my pdf copy of Fight On! 5, and so floated the idea of using Paul Vermeren's Dungeon Motivations. They bit, and I ain't never going back. This is now de riguer for delvers in Otherness. Our results:
  • 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.
I'm missing one there, so if one of you is reading this, please fill me in.

Oh, and btw, Wuukys, from the same FO! issue, are now a totally playable Otherness race...

Some Highlights
  • 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?
It was just too much fun to run my own dungeon. I'm hopeful we'll head back down next time. We have only barely scratched the surface of GRISTLEHELM...


  1. Sounds like fun!
    Aren't the Dungeon Motivations just awesome!

  2. They're truly excellent---just the little nudge of personalization we needed!

  3. Wow, I somehow missed this post the first time around. I'm thrilled the Dungeon Motivations chart worked out so well! Thanks!