Archive for December, 2012

A New Years Resolution

December 31, 2012

Normally I’m not much of one for doing New Years resolutions, mainly because I never seem to be able to keep them.  But maybe by committing to a resolution publicly it will help me to keep this one:

For some time I’ve wanted to publish an RPG, something a bit more substantial than the usual free PDF material I’ve put out in the past.  I’ve been working on the project, off and on, for a while now…mainly in the “thinking” or conceptual stage.  I think I’m about ready to put pen-to-paper (so to speak), so hopefully I’ll be able to get the initial rules up before school starts again at the end of January.

GW1stIt will be a rules-lite OSR inspired game, but it will not be a fantasy heartbreaker retroclone.  There are already a zillion of those.  I’m thinking more along the lines of a Gamma World-esque post-apocalypse game, loosely modeled on Swords & Wizardry Whitebox (meaning even more rules-lite than original GW).  Other than Mutant Future, I don’t think there have been many post-apoc type RPGs to come out of the OSR (of course, that could also be a function of market…maybe there isn’t a lot of demand for such games?).

Also, it will not come in dead tree format.  I have neither the time, nor inclination, to learn how to do layout for a proper book.  Nor do I want to mess around with or other PoD publishers.  But blogging is something that I am familiar with, and with the right WordPress plugins you can create a RPG that is far more interactive than any book.

So there it is.  Not exactly revolutionary…it won’t shake the pillars of heaven.  But I think it’s a neat idea and should be fun to work on, even if no one (but me) ever plays it.  I hope to have the initial rules up before the end of January, and then I’ll need to see if my current group would be willing to help me play test it (hrm, perhaps I can bribe them with pizza and promises of eternal glory, being the first play testers?).

Happy New Years to all of you.  See you next year :).

Isle of Dread, Pt. 3

December 29, 2012

On the shores of a vast, volcanic crater lake, the party constructs a crude raft from palm tree logs.  The vessel is seaworthy enough to get them to the temple in the center of the lake.

Entering the temple, they find it has been carved into the face of a cliff, complete with stairs leading up out of the water, bones, shrunken heads, grand pillars and a mosaic on the back wall of the temple foyer.  A single passageway grants entrance into the temple.  They quickly find that it has been partially filled by rubble, making it so only one person can pass through at a time.  And when they enter, they soon find out why:  several head-hunter guards stand watch on the other side.

Since only one party-member could get through at time, this was a hard fight.  The halfling had to push his way through to make room for the rest of the party to join the fight.  They dispatched the level 1 guards rather quickly, but a level 5 fighter gave the halfling a good thrashing.  So tough, in fact, that they felt it necessary to retreat to recover for the day.

Back out on the landing they noticed that there was a kind of stone ‘lip’ carved into the cliff face above the temple foyer.  The thief climbed up and secured a rope so the others could follow him up.  They resolved to spend the night on the lip, but were concerned that they might be attacked from the cliff top above them.  So, the thief climbed up the cliff to reconnoiter the top area.  He noticed several human children climbing out of an opening and fleeing.  Upon inspection, he determined that the opening actually lead down into the main temple area, a kind of skylight.

Again the thief lowered a rope so the rest of the party could rest at the top of the cliff, rather than the narrow, and somewhat vulnerable, lip.  They kept a strong watch out that night and good thing, for the thief heard furtive sounds from the direction of the skylight opening.  A band of about a dozen head-hunters had climbed up the opening and were organizing themselves for an attack.  However, the party struck first.  The magic-user cast sleep right out of the gate, putting most of them to sleep immediately (a few fell dramatically back through the skylight).  This battle was over almost before it had begun; the PCs slew the sleeping attackers and tossed their bodies back down the opening as a warning to the rest.

Next morning, rest and healed they again descended down the cliff face and entered from the front.  This time the party was ambushed with poisoned arrow fire, from the narrow entrace hall and from a hidden observation spot in the corner of the foyer’s ceiling.  The party eliminated the archers and quickly rushed into the temple before others could take their place.

Inside they confronted the tribe’s chief, their witch doctor and a few more archers firing from cover in doorways.  The chief rushed in to attack while the witch doctor cast hold person on the cleric, who fortunately made her save.  In turn, the cleric cast hold person on the witch doctor, who was not as fortunate.  The cleric did take a poison arrow from the archers, eventually becoming violently ill for several hours.  And while the chief was a right tough bastard, without the witch doctor to back him up he was soon defeated by the party.  The remaining head-hunters were cut down as they tried to flee past the party.

Searching the area they found a nice haul of gems and furs in the chief’s chambers.  They also determined that the chief had been wielding a magic sword (+2…a really nice find for them).  An open secret door lead to a concealed observation area that overlooked the landing, where archers had sniped at the party.  They discovered some ropes, stone levels and a bronze speaking tube…apparently an ancient apparatus designed to impress the natives by impersonating a deity of some sort.  Speaking into the tube, the thief came into contact with yellow mold, but was lucky enough to avoid inhaling the toxic spores.

Resting the night, the next day the party made a thorough search of the temple area, discovering another secret door to a hidden priest’s chamber.  The chamber was obviously long forgotten, but again they discovered an apparatus to impress gullible natives.  The main temple room had a large stone face in the wall; controls from this room would shoot a gout of flame out the mouth of the face.  However, in the party’s case it caused a backblast into the room, singing the halfling’s eyebrows.  They also discovered a wooden trap door leading down to the next level of the temple.

The trap door opened to a 30′ by 30′ room dominated by several stone statues, covered in moisture.  Naturally paranoid, they spent a great deal of time searching the statues for traps (and treasure, naturally).  Finding none, they proceeded out the room’s only doorway, only then to trigger a pressure plate dropping a rusted iron portcullis, blocking their path.  Attempts to lift it proved fruitless, but their nifty new magic sword proved quite adept at chopping away the corroded bars so that they could squeeze through.

The long corridor turned a corner, abruptly ending at a door.  Before the door is a 10′ wide hole in the ground, intense heat omniously eminating out of it.  They negotiate the hole easily enough, opening the door to another passageway.  To their left are stairs heading down.  To their right is another iron portcullis and, just beyond that, another closed door.  Once again they employ their new magic sword to cut through the bars, which eventually succeeds with some effort.  At this point the party gave the sword a name, something like ‘Gatesmasher’ or ‘Gatebreaker’ (I can’t recall exactly what is was now).  Opening the door, they release a torrent of water that crushes them against the remains of the portcullis.  In the room beyond, they see a stone lever protruding from the wall and, in their rush to pull the lever, end up triggering another trap which doses the cleric in a special oil; oil that ignites when in contact with water.  The cleric is slightly singed, but the party quickly smothers the fire.  At this point the session ended.

So, the party picked up two new magic items: another spear +1 (from the 5th level fighter) and a sword +2 (from the chief), both great finds.  They managed to bypass most of the temple’s second level.  By the end of the next session they should have the ‘pearl of the gods,’ but there is still plenty left to do on the Isle of Dread.   It’ll be up to the party whether they want to keep exploring the island, or head back to civilization with their gains.  I’ve decided to take a break DMing once they’ve done with the island; there are other games I’d like to try running eventually, and some of the guys have mentioned ideas for games they’d like to run as well.

Cheers, and have a happy New Years!

Isle of Dread Pt. 2

December 26, 2012

I’m a bit behind on the D&D reports, so I’m going to use bullet points to hit the highlights in roughly chronological order:

  • Party inquires with rakasta about any nearby treasure to loot; they’re informed of a roc nest a few days away rumored to have a great treasure
  • On the way they swing by the phanatom village to see their “old buddy” Climbs Tall Trees; they charm him again (they needed a guide)
  • They also charmed the phanaton chief, but didn’t bring him along; at this point they’ve pretty much worn out their welcome with the phanatons
  • Travelling through the jungle they encounter a treant that hassles them a bit, but also confirms that the rocs have a great treasure
  • The party successfully negotiates a dangerous river crossing in the mountains and soon come upon the roc nest…high up on a peak
  • They concoct a plan to use the halfling as bait to lure the rocs down and then, when they get close enough, the magic-user will web them
  • The plan works…on the first roc
  • When the second roc doesn’t respond, they decide to climb up to the nest; they find it devoid of treasure, though a careful search does turn up a treasure map; the second roc is missing
  • The elf is pissed about this turn of events; he was expecting a vast hoard of treasure in the nest
  • The map indicates that the treasure is located on the far north end of the island…so off they go, through the mountains
  • About a week later (with no encounters) they arrive at the shores of a vast lake surrounded by jungle; a huge mound of dirt indicates X on the map
  • Nearby is a stoned ankylsaurus (club tail dinosaur); it’s been munching on locoweed and it’s aggressive; they party actually kills it pretty quick though
  • The party collects some locoweed for future, ah, “medicinal” use
  • They dig up a massive treasure haul worth about 19,000 GP; the elf is still pissed that it wasn’t at the roc’s nest, as promised
  • As they’re sorting through the treasure, a hungry allosaurus wanders by, no doubt attracted by the nearby dead dinosaur
  • An epic battle ensues; almost everyone in the party takes significant damage; a couple PCs almost die, but in the end they manage to bring it down
  • They take a couple of weeks to travel back to the village to drop off their loot, surprised to find their ship and crew haven’t taken off on them; after a couple days rest they resolve to head for the central plateau to find the ‘pearl of the gods’
  • A week later they’re at the base of a 300′ rope bridge leading up to the plateau (the phanaton led them there)
  • Crossing the bridge one at a time, they’re attacked by 3 pteranodons (giant pteradactyles, basically) which try to knock them off the bridge; the magic-user casts web on the flyers again, to great effect and they manage to fight them off
  • The plateau area is much cooler, more like savanna than jungle; off in the distance they see a massive cliff face extending up into the clouds
  • Hiking towards the cliff, they’re ambushed by two sabre-tooth tigers; sabre-tooth tigers get three attacks per round, so it’s a pretty tough fight for the party, but again they manage to kill them
  • Arriving at the cliff they discover that it’s actually a massive circle; they spend a couple of days travelling the circumfrence, looking for a way through
  • They encounter more pteranadons, again employing the web trick; the halfling tries to bronco-bust one, but gets taken for a ride himself (and a hard fall afterwards)
  • Realizing there is no easy way through, they find the best spot to climb and go over it; the next day they descend the other side and find themselves in a volcanic bowl, quite warm, with lake and all manner of tropical plants inside it; in the center of the lake is an island with a stone temple on it, their next destination

And that’s where the session ended.

You’ve probably noticed that in-game time is passing much more quickly with this wilderness oriented adventure.  They spent about 4-5 weeks at the Caves of Chaos in 6 game sessions but have already been on the Isle of Dread about 6 weeks in just 2 game sessions (not counting travel time to the island).

Using web on the roc was a great idea, but in hindsight I shouldn’t have let that particular trick work on the pteranadons so easily, as they are much bigger than the rocs.  Still, I continue to be impressed with the player’s resourcefulness.

Django Unchained

December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!


Just got back from Django Unchained and gotta say it’s a great Tarantino film.  I was a bit disappointed with Inglorious Basterds, but Django Unchained sees Tarantino back in fine form with his trademarked gratuitious violence and a good bit of humor.  Plenty of nods to spaghetti Westerns and many familiar faces from other Tarantino films appear again in Django Unchained.

If you’re a fan of Tarantino this film shouldn’t disappoint; I highly recommend it.  If you’re not a fan of Tarantino, there’s unfortunately nothing new in Django that would likely appeal to you.


The Isle of Dread

December 17, 2012

Having cleared out the Caves of Chaos, our intrepid band of adventurers next decides to pursue a mysterious map they found.  After procuring a ship, crew and provisions, they make sail for the Isle of Dread in search of the “pearl of the gods.”

The Isle of Dread is a marked change from the Caves of Chaos.  Instead of dungeon crawling, they’re now hex crawling, albeit in a limited way.  But exploring the wilderness, even a relatively contained wilderness like the Isle of Dread, is a somewhat less focused style of play.

The week-long trip to the island was largely uneventful (I remembered to roll for weather and random encounters each day and got nothing 😦 ).  Once they arrived at the island there was considerable debate about the party’s next move.  Some players wanted to set up a camp on some remote part of the island, convinced the natives were hostile head-hunters that would attack them on sight.  Others wanted to make contact with the natives to trade with them and use their villages as bases of operations.  Eventually the party decided to land at the village closest to the island’s wilderness areas, and were quite relieved to find that the natives were indeed friendly.

After a welcoming feast and some profitable trade, the party set the ship’s crew to building a base a few miles away from the village while they headed inland (so to speak) to start exploring.  The native villages are located on a isthmus that’s blocked off by a massive stone wall, evidently built long ago (it was clear that the natives currently did not have the capability to build such a wall).  When asked about it, the natives said it was to keep the lizards out.  Big lizards.

A well worn trail led through the walls gates and into the jungle, which the party decided to follow.  They decided they were going to keep exploring the jungle until they “found something to kill.”  After a few hours on the trail they heard loud rustling in the jungle ahead.  A moment later a mastadon stepped out onto the trail, stopping to stare at the party while the party, in turn, gaped back at the massive proto-elephant.  Evidently unaware that mastadons hate whistles, someone in the party blew a whistle, enraging the beast.  It charged down the trail at the party, who in turn proceeded to pelt it with sling stones and arrows.  The magic-user cast web at it, which slowed it down for a round or two before breaking through and continuing its charge on the party.

At this point the halfling charged the giant animal, trying to get under it so he could attack the beast from below.  Instead, the halfling was roflstomped by a hairy, pissed-off elephant that trampled him for over half his hit points.  Things were looking dire, so the halfling ran off the trail into the jungle to hide (which halflings are notoriously good at).  The mastadon charged after him, but not being able to see the halfling it simply rampaged through the jungle in pain and rage.  The party wisely let it go, though there was some talk of following it to “kill it while it’s wounded.”  Saner heads prevailed, and the party continued exploring the trail.

By the end of the next day they come to the end fo the trail, at a lake-sized tar-pit.  They goggle at the site of it for a while, then decide set up camp before heading back to the village in the morning.  During the night the cleric is surprised to see several glowing eyes staring down at him from the surrounding trees.  A hastily wakened magic-user casts sleep and seven halfling-sized moneky men drop out of the trees.  The party ties them up and, after much talk of killing and torture, picks out one to interrogate.  They try several languages before discovering the creatures understand the Elf language.  The exchange goes something like this:

Elf (in elven): “Who are you, and why were you spying on us?”

Monkey-creature: “My name is Climbs Tall Trees.  We’re phanatons.  We were merely curious, and meant you no harm.”

Elf (to the party in common):  “This one is Murders Baby Kittens.  They call themselves Blood Monkeys.”

The elf charms the phanaton into a more cooperative state, and the party begrudgingly lets the rest of the phantons go.  They ask their new “friend” where there might be some treasure to loot and are told of several possiblities, the two closest of which are a lair of lizardmen in the swamps and a camp of “cat people” in the jungle.   The lizardmen are closest so they head to the swamps.

Along the way they spy some dire wolves stalking them from a distance, but manage to elude the wolves by moving deeper into the swamp.  After a couple of days they come upon a dank cave.  Entering it, they find several lizardmen that they easily kill, and a treasure chest containing thousands of copper and silver pieces, as well as 8 gems worth 500 gp each.  They leave the copper behind but take the rest and head back to the village.

On the way back they encounter a giant tree sloth chomping down on some trees.  It ignores the party and the party wisely leaves the giant sloth to its meal.  A couple days later they’re back at the village to resupply and stow their treasure on the ship.  During their stay at the village the charm person spell on the phanaton fades and the creature escapes during the night.

However, they do have a rough location for an encampment of “cat people,” so they head back into the jungle the next day to find the camp, kill the cat people and take their stuff.  Trekking around the Great Tar Lake, they move into the jungle hills in the center of the island.  They spend most of the day searching the jungle in the vicinity of the cat people camp, finally stumbling upon it towards nightfall.  The “cat people” are rakasta, and had heard the party tromping around in the jungle for hours.  The party is welcomed to the camp as guests and a feast is laid out for them.  A couple of party members are suspicious and avoid eating the food, making up various excuses so as to not offend their hosts.  After the feast the party is offered a comfortable tent laid out in silk, with plush pillows and carpets to sleep upon.  They spend a wary night with the rakasta, expecting an ambush at any moment.

At this point the party is still thinking about killing the rakasta and taking their stuff, but are somewhat deterred by the presence of three hulking smilodons (sabre-tooth tigers).  One of the PCs proposes going on a joint hunt, hoping maybe to weaken or divide the rakasta.  “I say, smashing good idea,” say the rakasta, eagerly dispatching scouts to find something ‘big’ to kill.  A few hours later the scouts report they’ve found something big alright.

The air thunders and the earth quakes as a might T-Rex bursts upon the hunting party.  The monster is covered in tumors and growths, obviously afflicted by a hideous jungle disease.  With a roar the rakasta jump to the attack, digging in with their war-claws while the smilodons nip at the T-Rex’s legs.  The halfling charges in, climbing up the creature’s body as he attacks it.  The rest of the party prudently stands back, using various missiles to attack the giant saurian.  The T-Rex takes a terrible toll on the rakasta, killing six of them, often with a single bite; it bites one of the smilodons in half, as well.  The halfling is thrown off the creature’s back, but takes relatively minor damage considering.  Eventually the king of dinosaurs is slain, death from a thousand cuts.  The party immediately guts it, looking for treasure but finding only horribly mangled rakasta remains in the stomach (though the dead rakasta were wearing gold jewelry!).  They claim some of the dinosaur’s claws and teeth as trophies, and head back to the rakasta camp.

Again there is talk of killing the rakasta given their weakened state after the T-Rex fight.  But the party decides that the camp is more valuable as a base of operations.  Plus the cat people have been cool to the party and it would be a really dick move to kill them all now.  So it looks like they’re going to be friends after all.

And so ended the session.

On the T-Rex fight, if the party had attacked it on their own, it probably would have killed them all.  Or, at least, killed a couple of them until the surviving PCs had the good sense to run for their lives.  But with the rakasta there, the party had a chance, mainly because the T-Rex focused most of its attacks on the cat people instead of the party (I rolled to see who it attacked each round).  I didn’t even bother rolling attacks and damage for the rakasta…I figured their redshirt target status was enough of a boon to the party.

One other note, a wilderness oriented game is a change of pace from dungeon crawling and there were a couple of times when things bogged down because the players couldn’t decide what to do.  Charming the phanaton gave them a bit of direction, but there’s still plenty of island left to explore (and lots to find).  Hopefully I’ll be able to maintain the game’s momentum so the players won’t become frustrated stumbling around the jungle looking for stuff to kill and loot.

The Hobbit

December 16, 2012


Just saw it.  It was awesome.  You should go see it, if you haven’t already.

And gotta say, orcs in The Hobbit seem so much more badass than they do in D&D.

2013 Movies I’m Looking Forward To

December 14, 2012

In no particular order:

  1. Oblivion
  2. Pacific Rim
  3. After Earth
  4. G.I. Joe Retaliation
  5. A Good Day to Die Hard
  6. Star Trek Into Darkness
  7. Iron Man 3
  8. The Wolverine
  9. Elysium
  10. The next Hobbit movie (whatever it’s called)
  11. Man of Steel

Any cool movies I missed?  Let me know.

Planetside 2

December 11, 2012

When I’m not studying for my last final of the semester (done tonight – yay!) I’m shootin’ fools in the F4S3 on Planetside 2.

Okay, actually other players are shooting me in the face…I die a lot.  But I’m still having fun.

For the uninitiated, Planetside 2 is a “free” massively multiplayer team-based shooter that only stops for server maintenance.

The Good

The game’s scale is truly epic.  Dozens upon dozens of players in a battle…on each side!  Armored columns rolling across the countryside, capping bases; aircraft flying overhead providing air support.

The game makes it easy to deploy to a battle quickly…just click on the big green ‘Deploy’ button on the map and BOOM, you’re dropped into the battle from orbit (it’s actually pretty cool dropping in).  And when you die, you have about a 10 second timer and then you can jump right back into the action.  No time wasted waiting for a match to start, no worries about a match falling apart when players drop because their side is loosing.  And when one battle is over, you can quickly move on to the next.

There are six classes (medic, engineer, heavy, light assault, infiltration and MAX/power armor), which you may switch between fairly easily.  Each class has a set of weapons and abilities that may be improved using certification points, earned by shootin’ fools in the face (you can also get points by capping or defending bases, healing team mates and repairing stuff).  You can also buy Station Cash with which to improve your weapons and abilities (if you’re too impatient to earn the certs through play).

Though it’s an MMO, there are none of the typical MMO mini-games.  No crafting, no resource gathering, no fishing, no auction house.  The game is all about big battles and blowing crap up, 24/7.

The Bad

However, all is not well in face-shooting land.  For one, the game controls feel slightly sluggish to me compared to other FPS games I’ve played recently (such as Borderlands 2).  But this may be because my system is running the minimum specs for the game.

Which leads me to the biggest problem: the minimum system specs is 4 Gigs of RAM; they recommend 8 Gigs, plus high end CPU and GPU.  I haven’t had any problems running other current games on my system, but on P2 I was crashing every 30 minutes until I twiddled with things a bit to enable Windows 7 to use up to 3 Gigs of RAM with applications (instead of the default 2G – solution documented here).  This problem almost killed the game for me.  They say they’re working on it, but this is SOE we’re talking about, so who knows if they’ll ever get more reasonable system specs.

And while the game is free to play, it’ll take forever to earn the certification points you need to buy new guns for your favorite class.  It probably doesn’t help that I suck and die a lot, and have limited playing time, but even so I think it’d take at least a week of solid play to upgrade just one infantry weapon for one class.  This is by design, no doubt, to encourage players to sign up for the premium membership ($15/mo.) or to buy Station Cash to get weapons and upgrades.  The starting weapons are adequate to play the game, but it may start to feel like ‘pay to win’ when you get killed by players with fancier guns than yours.

The Ugly

I should also mention that while there are video tutorials available online, there is no in-game tutorial.  When you first make a character you get a short blurb about your faction, then it drops you straight into the action.  In all likelihood you will be dead within seconds, even if you’re an experienced FPS gamer.  It’s very much a learn-as-you-go game.  A brief tutorial before being dropped into the thick of things would be nice.

Wrapping Up

If you like team-based FPS games, and have a system that can handle it, you should check out Planetside 2.  It’s free to play, so it’ll only cost you the time it takes to download it.

Fudging Dice Rolls

December 8, 2012

I admit that I occassionally fudge dice rolls when I GM, mostly to try and keep the game fun and interesting.  In my view, part of a GM’s job is judging when/where fudging a roll is appropriate, and where it’s not (for sure, it is never appropriate to fudge a dice roll to kill off a character or harass a player — unless the player wants their character to die).

So, how do you feel about the GM fudging dice rolls?

Caves of Chaos – The Final Assault

December 7, 2012

Our intrepid band of tomb looters gather themselves for a final foray into the dreaded Caves of Chaos, this time determined to finish off whatever is left alive in the last cave, and take its/their stuff.

After picking up Bruce, they arrive at the last cave, immediately heading to the medusa’s cell to confirm that the medusa is a) still dead and b) still headless, which it is both.  Continuing to explore the lower area, they come upon stout wooden door, bolted from the outside.  There’s a bit discussion on whether the party should open it, memories of the medusa still fresh in their minds.  But eventually they sack up and open the door, discovering a tomb containing six sarcophagi.  Promptly ransacking them, they find little, save the last one which contained a wight, ready for a fight (hehe).  The party had been binding the leg bones of all the skeletons in the tomb, just in case they suddenly animated.  So, as the magic-user attempted to bind the wight’s leg bones, it rose up and struck him.

Now, normally wights drain a level automatically if they hit, but I’ve never particularly like that no saving throw was allowed.  So I told the magic-user’s player to go ahead and make a saving throw, which was successful.  After that the party made quick work of the wight, finding a sword, potion and helm hidden in the wight’s tomb.  The dwarf grabbed the helm, immediately donning it (and becoming evil, unbeknownist to the rest of the party).  The elf grabbed the sword, which looks to be of exceptional quality.

Moving on, the party next finds the temple store room, filled with all kinds of mundane supplies, but no treasure or weapons.  The elf does find a couple casks of oil.  After messing about in the room for several rounds, as they leave they behold an unusual sight:  it appears that several coins and bones are floating mid-air in the corridor.  The elf immediately throws a cask of oil at, well, whatever it is.  The cask seems to get caught in something and it, too, hangs mid-air.  The party follows up with a flask of oil and a torch, and the thing is now a wall of flame approaching them.  The dwarf finds a crude club in the storeroom and uses it to bash the gelantinous thingy.  The elf attacks with his nifty new sword, the blade of which bursts into flame as he swings.  The rest of the party pours on the hurt and pretty soon the gelantious cube is dead.  Only the elf came close to being paralyzed by the cube.

On their way back up, they come across a well-appointed torture chamber, complete with posh viewing section.  They do find some nice treasue hidden in the torturer’s bed.  A few S&M jokes later, the party is on its way back up the stairs to finish exploring the upper portion of the chaos temple.

Proceeding up the sloped passage way, they come to a T-intersection.  They turn left and soon enter a large chapel to chaos.  There are some fancy religious vessels on a blackstone alter, which the party doesn’t touch (which surprised me, considering their usual greedy natures…just as well, though, given that the vessels were cursed).  The dwarf, however, does start hammering on the alter, trying to split it.  A gong sounds throughout the temple complex, and soon a host of armored skeletons are at their doorstep.  The cleric manages to turn several of the skeletons, but the fight is still vicious.  The elf is forced to retreat and both the dwarf and Bruce take a beating.  Eventually the skeletons are smashed to pieces, though, and the party spends some time binding wounds and getting whacked with the staff of healing.

Heading back to the T intersection and continuing straight, they encounter a large room dedicated as a temple to chaos.  Near the entrance is a door to their right; when opened the party sees about 20 zombies in parade formation, awaiting orders to murderize someone.  They promptly slam the door shut and spike it closed.

As they enter the temple proper, candlebras suddenly erupt into flame, revealing a room covered in tapestries depicting all kinds of chaotic nastiness.  At the far end of the room is a throne made of ivory (yeah, ivory…couldn’t believe that when I read it) sitting on a dias.  As the party takes all this in, the BBEGs enter from a hidden side door, ready for the final boss fight of the module.  Before them stands the Priest that escaped the Keep, a fighter guy dressed like a Torturer and the Evil Priest, and main boss guy of the temple (along with a couple of big 3 HD zombies).

The Evil Priest monologues a bit, generously offering to spare the party’s lives if they agree to surrender and become his slaves.  The party says something to the effect of “Nuts” and the fight is on.

Right out of the gate the Evil Priest casts hold person on the cleric, but the cleric makes her save (good thing, too).  The Keep Priest runs up and starts attacking the magic-user.  The Torturer rushes in to attack the dwarf.  On their turn, the magic-user reads a protection from undead scroll they’d found earlier in the session while the elf casts charm person on the Torturer (which succeeds!) and the dwarf, cleric and Bruce attack.  Since the two zombies can’t approach the party, one of them heads back through the side door and rings a gong, summoning the 20 waiting zombies from the next room.  Unfortunately for the party, there was a second door from that room, hidden behind one of the tapestries.  So now they’re being attacked from two sides.

Fortunately the cleric is able to turn most of the zombies not repelled by the protection from undead scroll.  With the Torturer charmed, the fight is well in hand, until the Evil Priest casts cause fear on the party.  Most of the party fails their saving throws, leaving only the dwarf and Bruce to fight a horde of zombies and the Evil Priest.  The following round, however, the Evil Priest is splatted by Bruce, thus breaking the spell.  With the dwarf standing on the throne, loping off zombie heads, on one side, and the party on the other (joined at this point by the thief), the party quickly finishes off the zombies.  They are victorious…let the looting commence!

While the looting is going on, the elf chats up the charmed Torturer (whom they named Damien).  Turns out that Damien is a bit disgruntled that he doesn’t get much good loot, but all the torturing he gets to do makes up for it.  It seems Damien really loves his job, and can’t stop talking about torture.  He does point them in the direction of the Evil Priest’s chambers, containing lots more treasure to loot.  He also points out a large demon idol with two gem-socketed eyes, warning the party not to touch it, or else it will fall on them.  For some reason the dwarf finds this to be utter nonesense and decides to test the theory.  He asks that Bruce hoist him to the top of the demon idol.  Once done the dwarf stands triumpantly atop the idol…until it rolls over and crushes him beneath its bulk.  Thus ends the life of the evil-besotted, semi-suicidal dwarf (I think the player wanted to kill off the dwarf, as he’d already started rolling up a new character beforehand).

The cleric decides the Torturer is immoral and can’t remain with the party.  So, at some unspecified point of time, while the Torturer slept, the cleric crept up on him and slit his throat…in the name of morality.  Don’t worry, it’s D&D morality, lol.

The party gets quite a haul this time, especially in magic items.  They pick up two suits of plate mail +1, two shields +1, a mace +1, a snake staff and a flaming sword, plus a good bit of gold and other sundry valuables.  They also found a mysterious letter and a partial map of an island.  The letter mentions a legendary black pearl of the gods, which is enough to tempt the party.  On the outside of the scroll is written ‘Kopru!,’ which holds no meaning to the party.

The rest of the night was spent organizing for their trip to the Isle of Dread.  They’re treated as heroes by the Keep, and they meet up with a new halfling companion before taking their leave back to the civilized lands.  With the help of Bruce they manage to manhandle the ivory throne onto a wagon.  Bidding Bruce a teary goodbye (well, Bruce was crying anyways), they haul the throne back to the city of Specularum (which the players mangled as ‘Spectacularium,’ which kind of stuck).   On the way they are briefly ambushed by some pathetic bandits, but the party dispatches them with haste.  They trade the ivory throne for a small sailing ship, hire some crew and mercenaries, purchase provisions and trade goods and are pretty much ready to sail out to the island next session.  They also trade in one of the suits of plate mail +1 for a halfling sized version for their new halfling companion, and trade the other +1 plate mail for a suite of golden +1 chain mail for the elf.

So, at this point the party’s composition is thus:  5th level thief, 4th level cleric, 4th level magic-user, 4th level halfling and 2nd level elf.  They have a good mix of magic items now and plenty of resources to draw upon.  It’ll be interesting to see how things go on the Isle of Dread.

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