Archive for February, 2013

Anvil of the Gods and the Destruction of Blackrazor

February 27, 2013

After uncovering a plot by evil wizards and vile vampires, plus recovering the notorious sword Blackrazor, the party is hailed as heroes of the city.  Unfortunately, the Church of Death (Lawful branch) isn’t quite able to destroy the chaotic blade, so once again the PCs are recruited to deliver the weapon to the legendary Anvil of the Gods for final destruction.  Dozens of other clerics (mostly in the 1-3 level range) volunteer to escort the party there, as well.

After departing the city a murder of crows begins to follow the large cohorts movement.  Suspecting “foul” play (hehe 🙂 ) they devise a number of ploys to shake the birds, but nothing works.  Finally, they hit upon the idea of casting invisibility 10′ radius while under the cover of a tent.  Then the rest of the clerics will dismantle the camp and pretend to carry Blackrazor off in a different direction.  The gambit works, and the PCs, plus a few other clerics, speed off to the mountains with Blackrazor.  However, a few hours later they hear the din of a battle off in the distance.  It seems their diversion has been ambushed by nefarious forces.

The next day the party begins to head up into the mountain, following a narrow path to the remote temple housing the Anvil of the Gods.  Early in the day they are ambushed by 40 troglodytes, most of whom are quickly dispatched with a fireball.  Around mid-day they are again ambushed, this time by four stone giants hurling boulders from across a 200′ crevice.  The giants order the party to leave “the sword” behind and withdraw down the path.  They quickly concoct a ruse where they wrap another sword in cloth and leave it on the ground, telling the giants it’s Blackrazor.  They then hurry back down the path and find a good spot to launch an ambush of their own.

A short time later two giants rush down the path, having discovered the ruse and intent on catching the party.  The magic-user casts phantasmal force to create the illusion that the party is further down the trail, causing the giants to run past the party’s ambush.  Too late do they realize their mistake as the cleric of loth (reformed) casts slay living on one of them, and the thief “backstabs” the other with a well placed bow shot.  The second giant is quickly slain.

However, they still have to contend with two other giants up the path.  They order their “escorts” to protect the sword while they proceed up the path to battle the giants.  Given the range across the crevice the party has trouble reaching the giants with their most powerful spells, so they use a ring of telekinesis to move the magic-user part way across the chasm.  Between long-range bow fire from the thief and a few magic-missile spells, one giant is felled and the other retreats, having been blinded by a continual light spell to the eyes.

The party presses on, knowing they must be close to the temple.  But before they get there they come across a stout rope-bridge across another gap in the trail.  Beyond the bridge, the path twists and turns up the mountain, out of their line of sight.  A cleric and the thief cross first and, finding no apparent danger, signal the escort to bring Blackrazor across.   And that, of course, is when the invisible ogre magi flying above the bridge launches his ambush, casting cone of cold with a cry of triumph and instantly turning the hapless, low-level clerics into priest-cicles.  It was a short-lived cry of triumph, however, with the cleric of loth immediately firing back a hold person spell, freezing the monster in mid-air.

None-the-less, the ambush is sprung, as a half-dozen ogres bound down the path from ahead, and another half-dozen climb down the mountainside to block the path back.  Due to poor timing on the ogres part, the party has a few rounds to deal with the foremost ogres first, allowing them to defeat the beasts in detail.  However, they’d expended most of their best spells in the fight against the giants, so it comes down to a brutal brawl, barely won in time to keep the rearmost ogres from enveloping the party.  They cut the rope-bridge to prevent pursuit and hurry up the path.

Finally arriving at the temple, they are shown to guest rooms, given a hot meal, and collapse in exhaustion.  After a good night’s rest, the party is prepared for the ordeal ahead.  The head priest at the temple explains that the “Anvil of the Gods” isn’t a physical object.  Rather, it’s a metaphor for a meta-physical process, which can’t really be explained, only experienced.  Within the Anvil they must confront the essence that is Blackrazor in order to destroy the sword.  They are to trust nothing they see or hear, for the vile sword will do anything, say anything and promise anything to preserve itself.

After a few more questions for the high priest, the party announces they are ready and are shown to a door-shaped portal.  The portal is black beyond, though it is framed in a bright light.  Passing through the portal, they enter a vast chamber filled with unimaginable wealth.  Starting with the basics, Blackrazor promises the party all the wealth they could ever hope for.  They take some of the treasure “just in case,” but for the most part are unimpressed, deducing Blackrazor’s promises to be empty.  Another portal appears, which the party quickly moves through.

While in “transit” to the next area, Blackrazor telepathically speaks to each adventurer, promising them untold power if only they’ll kill the other party members and take Blackrazor away from the Anvil.  As a token of trust, each party member is granted a surge in power by the sword (they all went up one level).  On the other side of the portal they find a harem-like room filled with beautiful young women and men (some of the characters are female, gotta be fair 😉 ).  No sooner have they taken in their new environs, the thief draws the Sword of Fighting (as they’ve taken to calling the talking sword they found on the Isle of Dread) and stabs the cleric of loth in the back, almost killing her in one blow. “She’s going to kill us all and take the sword!” he exclaims with a cackle of madness.  The cleric retaliates with slay living, which the thief successfully saves against.  After each attack or spell, the harem politely golf-claps, showing their approval of the party infighting.  After a flurry of spell casting, the thief is webbed by the magic-user and cooler heads prevail.  The thief apologizes and promises to not kill the cleric of loth, so they let him go.  Another portal opens and, true to his word, the thief proceeds through first.

He enters a clearing in a forest.  Turning around, he sees an owl-bear advanced towards him menacingly.  Using the Sword of Fighting’s levitate ability, he flies up into the air to avoid the monster, which is quickly joined by two more angry, howling owl-bears.  The rest of the party, upon entering the clearing, see a giant roc flying above them, preparing to dive on them.  Fortunately, they quickly figure out it’s some kind of illusion or trick and manage to avoid killing each other.  The find the next portal and move on…

…entering a massive stone cavern.  From the shadows the temple’s high priest steps out.  “Congratulations,” he says.  “You’ve survived the Anvil.  Now hand Blackrazor to me and we will complete its destruction together!”  The party immediately suspects that something isn’t kosher.  One of the clerics casts detect evil on the priest, and the fight is on.  The “priest” morphs into an amorphous black blob, covered with the same starry pattern as Blackrazor’s blade.  The blob gets in a few good blows, but the party’s combined firepower quickly downs the Blackrazor blob-entity.

Again, a portal opens and the party steps through, finding themselves in the same room they started in.  The high priest is waiting for them.  “Ah, have you managed to destroy Blackrazor?” he asks.  Of course, my players have seen way too many movies to fall for this simple trick.  As detect evil is still active, the spell shows the priest to be evil and, what’s more, the spell reveals that Blackrazor is hanging from the cleric’s belt, completely unnoticed just a moment before.  Grabbing Blackrazor, the cleric of death jabs it into the high priest.  Both the blade and the priest dissolve into an acrid black cloud and disappear.  Once more a portal opens…

…into the same room they started in.  The high priest is waiting for them, along with two of the surviving “escort” clerics that accompanied the party.  Detect evil does not reveal the high priest to be evil, so the party is reasonably sure they’ve finally completed their task.  But you can never really tell with those pesky dream-sequences, can you… 😉

The party received virtually no treasure or magic for their efforts, though they still retain the additional level granted by Blackrazor.

After a couple of months recuperating in the big city, the party is approached about a difficult job in a far-off land.  It seems there’s this frog cult causing trouble…

—————————————————————-

So, next up I’ll be running the party through Temple of the Frog (they actually started it last session, but didn’t get very far).  In hindsight I think running them through this module may be a mistake, as it requires a bit of diplomacy and subterfuge, something the players haven’t really dealt with in the any of their previous adventures.  They were expecting to roll up on another abandoned dungeon, kick in the door, kill everything inside and loot the place bare.  None-the-less, I expect them to finish the module within 2 or 3 session, tops, and then that will be the end of the B/X campaign.

Getting Caught Up on the B/X Campaign

February 20, 2013

I’m a bit behind on the B/X campaign notes, so I’ll try to consolidate a bit:

The party:

  • 7th level Cleric of Death (Lawful)
  • 7th level Cleric of the Church of Lloth (reformed)
  • 8th level Thief
  • 6th level Magic-user
  • 6th level Halfling (absent)

After leaving the catacombs and returning to the city to raise the dead cleric (and 2 weeks for the raised cleric to recover) the party is hired by the city to look into a cult problem in the Old Quarter and “take care of it.”  Discretion required.  After a little legwork in the Old Quarter by the thief, the party follows a proselytizing cultist back to their secret headquarters.  The upper areas are occupied by dozens of homeless peasants, so the PCs are able to infiltrate pretty easily.

Using the ruse of delivering a message to the aforementioned proselytizing cultist, they gain entrance to the hidden temple area and are directed to the barracks area.  Knocking on the barracks door, they deliver a blank rolled up scroll (the “message”) and then the magic-user shoots a fireball into the barracks area.  The cultists residing within are blown to smithereens.

This of course raises an alarm, and the party proceeds to hack their way through a white ape, an indoctrination room, a creepy kitchen preparing drug-laced meals, across a bridge over a chasm guarded by two platemail wearing minotaurs and into the main temple area.  An Evil High Priest (EHP) is preaching a dark sermon to a congregation of about 40 religious fanatics when the PCs interrupt.  Their initial volley almost kills the EHP, who flees down a back passage while the congregation assaults the party.  I figured the magic-user wouldn’t bother memorizing sleep and I was right, so the horde of 0-level cultists is taking a toll on the party.  However, the MU whips out a wand of frost and blasts them with cone of cold, wiping out almost all of them in one shot.

Following the EHP, they come upon the main residence of the cult leader and are immediately assaulted by four chaos mutants and a dozen mutated women of the cult leader’s groupie harem.  The EHP is standing in the back and manages to say “The master will kill you for this!” before dying horribly under the party’s onslaught.  The rest of the pack is dispatched with another cone of cold, followed by profuse looting.

Returning through the temple to explore a side passage, they hear a piercing scream.  Rushing down a flight of stairs they find a room of captives chained to the wall.  Two were obviously slain only moments before, but a third claims to be a merchant, offering a huge reward if the party releases him.  Suitable compensation is negotiated and they release the merchant, who flees, though not before telling them that the cult leader has taken the lovely priestess of the Temple of Charity to be sacrificed.

In hot pursuit, the party comes upon the cult leader preparing the priestess to be thrown off of ledge into the chasm.  After a quick fight, the cult leader is downed.  However, moments later, as the party is freeing the captive priestess, the leader comes back to life!  With a death grip on the priestess he begins dragging her to the ledge, intent on taking her with him over the edge.  The party members begin to furiously hack away at the leader’s limbs, freeing the priestess.  However, before dying for good, the cultist points his finger at the magic-user and says “Die!”  A ray shoots from his fingertip, instantly slaying the magic-user.  Kicking the corpse over the edge, the party hears sickening crunching sounds as something in the pit consumes the cultist’s dismembered body.

So, the party returns to their ship (which they recently named Pearl of the Gods, a sort of back-handed honor to the Isle of Dread), raise the magic-user and return to the city magistrate for their reward.  In the process they let slip that something is still alive in the pit.  The magistrate is quite adamant that the party destroy this “thing” before any compensation be paid, so off they go back to the temple.  On the way they swing by Ace Hardware and purchase a dozen casks of oil and a pig.  At the chasm they lower the pig down on a rope and when the thing below feeds on the poor animal they start rolling casks of oil on its head, like depth charges on a U-boat.  One flaming arrow later, the chaos abomination is incinerated.  They retrieve a crispy tentacle from the beast as proof of the deed and return to the magistrate for their promised reward.

A couple of weeks later, after the magic-user has recovered from being raised, they show up at the merchant’s house for their reward.  “Reward?  What reward?  Who are you people?” is the response.  Well, as you can imagine, that doesn’t go over well with a bunch of psychopathic murder-hobo treasure hunters.  One of the clerics and the magic-user proceed to toss the joint and brutalize the merchant and his staff.  Ultimately the cleric quests the merchant to deliver the reward, plus 20% (6,000 gp total).  The merchant swears never to pay, but delivers that amount to the Pearl the next day.  Originally I joked that it was all paid in copper pieces, but after doing the math we realized it would require 600,000 actual copper coins, so I retconned it back to gold pieces.  Oh, and now they have a new enemy.

A few weeks later, the thief awakes one night to the sounds of someone creeping around the ship.  After waking the rest of the party, they narrow the intruder’s path to the main cabin where they keep the charts and log books.  Nothing appears to be missing, but they soon discover that their original logbook has been replaced with a forgery.  The forgery is written in a simple code, which the thief is able to break.  It details all sorts of ‘frowned-upon’ activities.  They ditch the forged logbook overboard and quickly forge a new replacement.  And not a moment too soon, either, for at the crack of dawn a troop of soldiers arrive at the Pearl to conduct a “random” inspection…of just the ship’s log books.  Finding nothing out-of-order, the soldiers depart, somewhat dejectedly.

They immediately suspect the merchant and head to his mansion.  During the course of their “investigation” they discover the merchant left the city almost two weeks ago, and that he was one of the backers of the party’s expedition to White Plume Mountain.  They track him down to an estate outside of the city, infiltrate the manor house and discover a secret door in the cellar leading to a swinging bachelor pad of evil Chaos.  They determine the merchant must belong to a rival cult of Chaos and perhaps that’s how he was captured in the first place.  At any rate, they encounter the merchant having a heated discussion with a vampire (though not the same vampire that escape the party at White Plume Mountain).  The vampire escapes and one of the clerics casts locate object to find coffins.  Fast on the monster’s trail, they corner it and beat the living hell out of it.  Unfortunately, when reduced to 0 hit points it just turns to gas and escapes again.

Using locate object again, they track the vampire down to a set of backup coffins deeper in this suspiciously large cellar complex.  Oh, and along the way they’re attacked by a phantom stalker just like the one from the temple catacombs, though this time they manage to kill it before it can self-detonate into a fireball.  At the backup coffins they find two vampires gathering up items like they’re getting ready to GTFO.  This time the PCs stake them in the heart, thus finally killing them.

Back up top, they interrogate the merchant to discover that he is the owner of Blackrazor.  When asked why he would own such an evil weapon, he points around to all the evil-looking stuff in his little chaos temple and says “Really?”  So, it seems he teamed up with a master vampire and some crazy mage to get revenge on the PCs, and wound up getting more than he bargained for.  Before leaving, one of the clerics quests him to deliver Blackrazor to them at the Pearl of the Gods.

The next day the party discovers that the merchant was murdered on his way to deliver Blackrazor and the notorious blade is (of course) missing.  Having nothing else to go on, they track down some rumors of strange goings on in the Old Quarter (because strange things always happen in the poor part of town).  Naturally, the strange disappearances and such are the work of the vampire and crazy mage who are turning peasants into ghouls.  They track down the villainous duo’s hideout, kick in the door and slaughter heck out of a small army of ghouls (at this point, the clerics are powerful enough to dust them at will).  Finding another secret door in the hideout’s cellar (because in D&D every cellar has a secret door), they confront the master vampire that eluded them at White Plume Mountain, and the mage from the temple catacombs.  The vampire conveniently wields Blackrazor.  Despite that bit of awesomeness, the vampires dies rather quickly and anti-climatically, leaving only the mage and another phantom stalker, who are both soon dead (though they do manage to get in some good licks on their way out the meta-physical door).

The party delivers Blackrazor to the Church of Death (Lawful branch) for destruction and are hailed as great heroes of the city.  More to come on that later.

—————————————————————————————————-

Wizards recently released DA2 Temple of the Frog for B/X D&D which I’d love to run.  In fact, I think it’d make a nice capstone for the B/X campaign before moving on to other games.  Unfortunately, it sounds like they forgot to include some of the maps in the PDF, so I’ll have to see if I can track them down somewhere.

WotC to reprint OD&D

February 19, 2013

You’ve probably already heard about this, but I need something for a lazy post, so here we go:

oddreprintApparently WotC is going to release a special “collectors” reprint of Original D&D, including fancy dice and a wood box.  Here’s the link.  I think the photo shown is just a mock up for promotional purposes and probably not representative of the final product.  At least, I hope it’s not because $150 is an outrageous sum for what’s shown there.  If this came out a couple of months from now, I’d be calling it an April Fool’s joke.

While it’s exciting that WotC is doing an OD&D reprint, this particular product feels more like OSR-nostalgia exploitation.  Unfortunately, there are probably a lot of people who’ll pay that ridiculous price anyways, so I guess I can’t fault Wizards for getting their marketing right.  Hopefully they’ll also release more reasonably priced PDFs at some point.

Cheers.

A Good Day to Die Hard

February 15, 2013

gooddaytodiehardI saw the latest installment of the Die Hard franchise today and have to say I found it a little wanting.  While it has plenty of action, shooting and explosions, in comparison to Live Free or Die Hard, it just felt a little flat.

The movie wastes no time getting into the action.  Within 5 minutes (give or take), John McClane is in Moscow stealing cars and involved in an over-the-top car chase.  I usually don’t care if my action movies have much plot or story, but this set-up is especially thread-bare.

To be fair, the action sequences were pretty good, for the most part.  But the interaction between the McClane boys was fairly predictable and uninteresting, the villains were fairly uninteresting (unlike Timothy Oliphant in LFoDH) and suspension of disbelief was particularly difficult at times, even for an action movie.

If this weren’t a Die Hard movie, it’d probably be an okay action film.  But when compared to LFoDH, it’s very lackluster.  The last movie had more interesting characters, better buddy chemistry between Willis and Long and a better overall story.

Still, if you’re a die hard Die Hard fan, or a big-time action movie junkie, it’s probably still worth the price of a matinee ticket.  Otherwise, wait for Netflix or Redbox.

A Simple Inventory System for D&D-ish Games

February 14, 2013

Just an idea I’ve been tossing around in my head for a very simple inventory system for an OSR style game, somewhat based on Microlite 74’s inventory system.  Characters have one inventory ‘slot’ for each point of Strength (i.e. a character with 13 Str has 13 inventory slots).  Each slot is roughly equivalent to 10 lbs, but weight isn’t really tracked in this system, just slots.  Every piece of equipment, including weapons and armor, must be accounted for within the available inventory slots.

Many similar smaller items may be combined to take a single slot.  For example, 100 coins or 10 gems count as one slot, as would 4 potions or scrolls.  Note that backpacks, pouches, sacks and other containers are assumed and don’t even need to be recorded.

The first three slots are reserved for ‘readied’ items, such as weapons, wands, potions, etc.  This represents having a weapon or wand tucked into one’s belt for quick access.  ‘Readied’ items may be used without using an action to retrieve them from inventory first; items in any other inventory slot require an action to retrieve before they can be used.

For the sake of simplicity, the number of inventory slots should be considered a hard cap.  Resist the temptation to let the PCs carry just ‘a little bit more’ in exchange for a reduced movement rate or any other penalty.  In this system, a character’s move rate would be determined solely by the type of armor they wear, not their total encumbrance weight.  Two or more characters can still co-operate to carry heavy burdens, such as a large treasure chest, for example.

Fiendish Fracas Adventure Notes

February 8, 2013

Here are my notes for A Fiendish Fracas.  Not the greatest adventure ever, but my players had a lot of fun tangling with the unusual monsters of the Fiend Folio.  For reference, the party averages about 6th level.

A Fiendish Fracas

You’ll also need this map, obtained from the Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque blog:

I didn't make this, and I can't remember where I found it.  But it's cool.

Cheers!

A Fiendish Fracas

February 6, 2013

So, this is the first time in our current B/X campaign that I’ve run an adventure of my own design.  It’s a fairly simple dungeon using a neat map I found on a blog somewhere (edit:  Thanks to Jesse Rodriguez I can now post a link to the blog where I found the map:  here).  As a theme, I populated it primarily with the odd-ball monsters from 1E AD&D version of the Fiend Folio.  I’ll post the adventure later, for anyone who may be interested.  I don’t promise that it’s any good, though my group had fun running through it.

So, the party’s been hanging out in Spectaculariamoplis making scrolls and potions and what not, when a monk shows up at their ship one day.  It seems the party comes highly recommended by powerful, monied interests in the city.  The monk is a member of the Order of Eternal Knowledge, a brotherhood dedicated to the preservation of old texts and famous as specialists in dead languages.  It seems they have a bit of a monster problem in the lower catacombs of their mountain-top monastery/temple.  The Order is poor, so the PCs agree to take whatever they find in the lower catacombs as payment, as well as let the magic-user take a peek at their library for spellbooks and such.  Helping the Order should also improve their reputation in the city, hopefully leading to even better opportunities for murder and looting…er, I mean ‘adventuring.’

The party arrives at the temple three days later and is greeted by the Order’s master, an old guy who looks something like Pei Mei (but possessing none of Pei Mei’s badassitude, or else the monks wouldn’t need the PCs).  After a brief tour of the temple, he shows the party down a manually operated elevator to the upper levels of the catacombs.  The first room is sealed with a stout wooden door, braced with several beams of wood.  The master explains that at least one monk will be on duty in this room at all times to let the party back into the temple.  With that, the party descends into the catacombs.

The catacombs are obviously hand-carved and short, barely tall enough for a normal-sized human to stand without stooping.  The passages between chambers are narrow and claustrophobic.  They explore the upper levels of the catacombs, finding a granary (2), a library (3), ossuary (5) and a tomb (6).  They also notice several cat-sized holes bored into the stone at floor level.  They soon discovered that large six-legged rodent creatures (osquips) have taken up residence in the catacombs, and have the habit of popping out of their holes to take a bite from an adventurer’s foot or leg while the party traverses the passageways between chambers.

In the ossuary they discover two walled-off passages that have recently been broken down, from the outside.  Exploring the left-most passage (SOP for the party), they enter a chamber occupied by five large, hook-handed humanoid creatures (hook horrors) all peering down another passage on the opposite side of the room (room 9).  Hearing the PCs approach, they turn to face them and immediately attack.  The battle is short-lived, but the hook horrors do get in a few nasty hits.  Exploring the room they find some silver and the remains of a rather large crab-like creature.

Moving on, the next chamber contains a band of crab-like men sitting around a spring-fed pool of water (room 10).  Before the pacific creatures can do anything, the magic-user blasts them to smithereens with a fireball.  They recover a holy icon of St. Edwards, made of electrum.

Returning to the ossuary, they take the next passage down entering a large chamber filled with all kinds of trophies taken during the Order’s more adventurous ass-kicking days in the far past (room 8).  Everything is covered in dust and cobwebs, and much of it is un-salvageable.  As the party rummaged through the piles, a mummy-like creature lunges out, attacking one of the clerics.  The mummy as all-kinds of debris and knickknacks attached to it (it’s an adherer).  The clerics attempt to turn the creature, to no avail.  As the adventurers strike it, they find their weapons stick to it, becoming unusable.  Suddenly, another adherer lurches out to attack the party.  They resort to using whatever cudgels they can find in the room to hit the creatures with, interspersed with the occasional arrow/crossbow shot, until the creatures fall dead.  Eventually the resin degrades and the party can retrieve their weapons, also finding a valuable necklace stuck to the back of one of the creatures.

Heading down to the left again, they enter another chamber, this one almost 10′ high.  It is filled with all manner statues (room 12).  When the party enters, they are attacked from above by red, rubbery spherical creatures (gorbels).  The gorbels latch onto their necks and automatically hit every combat round.  The clerics find, much to their dismay, that blunt weapons have no effect on these fiendish creatures.  When slain with edged or piercing weapons they explode, inflicting additional damage.  Eventually one of the clerics throws a batch of sticks up into the statues and casts sticks to snakes, which allows the party to turn the tide on the rubbery demons.  After the fight, a quick inspection reveals one of the statues is made of marble and probably worth thousands of gold back in the city.  They just need to figure out how to get it there.

Again, moving down and to the left, they come upon a heavy, wooden locked door (room 19).  Checking for traps, the thief finds a poison needle in the lock mechanism.  The thief jams a stick into the lock, which causes the needle trap to spring.  Unfortunately, he failed to pick the lock, so the party has to hack away at the door for some time.  Beyond, they find a large chamber dominated by a massive snail.  The snail has six heads, each shaped like a club (flail snail).  Attacks on the snail’s body are largely ineffective, but the individual heads are easily dispatched, though in the process a significant amount of damage is inflicted on the party.  Fortunately for the party (and much to my disappointment), they didn’t cast any spells at the snail, for the shell has special anti-magic properties that could have reflected hostile spells back at the caster!  The shell is worth at least 5,000 GP to the right party, though again it is quite large and heavy and will require a feat of logistics to remove from the catacombs.

Going back up to the statue-room, they next head down to the right, entering a chamber packed full of old furniture, barrels and crates (room 16).  Searching through the piles of junk, they find a few valuable trinkets.  However, they also disturb a trio of flying eel-like creatures (volts).  The volts fly at the PCs, trying to latch on to their heads, and mostly miss.  One does manage, however, to latch onto the magic-user, sucking his blood and delivering a nasty electrical shock with the tip of its tail.  For the most part, though, the volts go down like chumps (again, to my disappointment…I expected a better showing from the volts).

Breaking with SOP, this time the party takes the right-most passage downwards.  They discover a large, well-lit chamber filled with salvaged furniture, workbenches and tables, all covered with various texts (room 18).  Occupying the room is a man in robes and a strange, fire-colored humanoid (a phantom stalker).  The man blurts out “Who are you?  Who sent you here?”  and before I can complete any grey-boxing or monologuing, a cleric casts hold person on them.  The man fails to save against the spell, but the stalker succeeds and immediately moves to attack.  However, the party is quick on the draw, nearly killing it in a single round.  Realizing death is imminent, the creature channels its life force into a fireball centered amidst the party.  One cleric is killed outright, and the cleric who cast hold person is reduced to exactly 0 hit points (unconscious in my game), thus releasing the man from the grip of the spell.  The man casts dimension door and quickly escapes.

At this point the clerics are of sufficient level to cast raise dead, so the party retreats back to the temple area so that they can heal the unconscious cleric who then in turn can raise the dead cleric.  This also gives the party 2 weeks of down time while the raised cleric recovers, so they send for a wagon and a gang of dwarvish day-laborers to help them retrieve the statue and giant snail-shell.

Returning to the catacombs a couple of weeks later, they take the right path down from the trophy room, finding themselves in a library-like room, filled with bookshelves that are laden down with crumbling scrolls and tomes (room 11).  While inspecting one of the bookshelves, a long tentacle whips out and grabs the thief.  While everyone is distracted, a second tentacle grabs the magic-user.  The thief is injected with saliva, which begins to dissolve his internal organs, while the magic-user is slowly constricted.  One of the two clerics casts slay living on the tentacle grabbing the thief, killing it instantly, and the party hacks down the other tentacle.  Further inspection reveals a central body stem of a tentamort which, now defenseless, the party kills easily.  To their dismay, they discover that neutralize poison has no effect on the digestive saliva that’s still eating away at the thief.  Only the timely use of a potion of cure disease manages to save the thief from a horrible and squishy death.  There is no treasure in the room, but the PCs will receive a nice XP bonus for returning the scrolls to the Order.

Moving down to the left, they enter a small chamber filled with massive clay tablets (room 13).  The tablets are covered in some ancient hieroglyphics, which the thief is able to read.  They carry a doomsday prophecy about three ruinous powers that will rise from the oceans and destroy the world.  As with all prophecies, it is short on specific details, but does warn against tampering with the pearl of the gods…

Moving on, they enter a chamber filled with various casks (# 14).  Rummaging amongst the casks is a large, violet lobster-like creature (a garbug).  Upon entering, the creature immediately turns on the party and advances.  Backing up a bit, the magic-user unleashes a lightning bolt, which passes through the creature, rebounds off a stone wall and passes through it a second time, stopping just short of the party.  It’s internal organs instantly boiled to vapor, the creature simply explodes in a shower of hot lobster-gore.  A quick search turns up a cask of rare and valuable alcohol.

Next, the party takes the passage back up, entering a chamber filled with all manner of dust-covered junk (room 7).  They notice three gold frogs statues sitting on the ground; curiously the frogs are not covered in dust.  As the party approaches, the frogs open their eyes, emitting blinding lights (blindheims).  Fortunately, only one of the clerics is temporarily blinded and despite the disadvantage of not being able to look at the frogs directly, the party manages to dispatch them rather quickly.  One of the frogs was sitting on a gem encrusted gold platter.

Going back the other way, the enter a small chamber filled with smashed pottery (room 15).  Growing amidst the shards is a large, vine-like plant with bright yellow blooms (yellow musk creeper).  One of the clerics moves in to examine the plant, only to be blasted in the face with pollen by one of the blooms.  Fortunately she makes her saving throw and, now convinced she is immune, continues to search the room.  More pollen puffs shoot out, but none hit her in the face.  Eventually the party does the smart thing and burns the plant with oil and fire.  Hidden beneath the shriveled vines is a box containing an oni-mask.  The cleric dons the mask, only to find it cannot be removed.

With only one passage left to explore, the party returns to area 16 and passes down to the left (room 19).  The passage opens into a small chamber containing only one ornate box.  Perched atop the box is a house cat (actually, a guardian familiar).  The cat just stares at the party and attempts to chase it off the box prove fruitless.  Finally, the party decide to just kill it and attacks, prompting the creature to leap off the box and charge the party.  One of the clerics casts slay living, instantly killing it….until it reappears a moment later, a bit larger than before.  The thief’s player quickly deduces that the ‘cat’ will have 9 lives, and he is correct.  Each time they kill the animal, it comes back a moment later, a little bit bigger and tougher.

Now the party is burning through resources like crazy, especially healing magic.  It doesn’t help that the familiar has magic resistance and three attacks per round.  In its ‘eighth’ life, the cat manages to kill one cleric and reduce the thief to 0 hit points; the other cleric and the magic-user are close to death as well.  Deciding discretion is the better part of valor, they scoop up their fallen comrades and return to the temple.  Raise dead is again cast, but instead of waiting for 2 weeks, the remaining three members of the party heal up and return to the cat chamber the very next day, fearing that waiting too long would ‘re-set’ the creature.  Upon their return, they find the creature is still in its eighth incarnation, though fully healed.

Through a brief, intense fight, and some lucky rolls, they manage to kill the eighth and ninth incarnations of the familiar, though the other cleric falls in the process.  In B/X, raise dead gives a base of 4 days to raise a dead character.  Also, a character that is recovering after being raised cannot cast spells (so the other cleric couldn’t raise her).  However, the city is only three days away, so they scoop up the box and the fallen cleric, rush to their waiting wagon and speed off for the city, hoping to find someone to raise the cleric in time (and they will; it’ll just cost them a lot of gold).

Left unresolved is the fate of the mysterious mage who, unbeknownst to the party, very much wants that box back.  Which also brings to mind the vampire they failed to kill in White Plume Mountain.  Hrm, maybe the two of them should team up for some revenge?

As an aside, one of the players proposed a mini-game where they would try to guess the obscure monsters.  I agreed to give them an XP bonus for each one they guessed correctly and by my count they got 3 of them right.

White Plume Mountain, Pt. 3

February 1, 2013

When we ended last session, the party had returned to a nearby village to rest and restore the halfling’s lost level (for the princely sum of 10,000 GP).  After resting a day or two, they returned to complete their quest and obtain the final weapon, Wave.  Two players were missing, so they only had the magic-user, thief and the new cleric.

Once again passing the gynosphinx, they stopped long enough to chat and inquire if they could obtain any beautry products for the ratty-looking beast.  They also inquired if the sphinx had any knowledge of additional ‘secret areas’ in the dungeon, of which the gynosphinx was ignorant.  Finally, they picked up their trusty flesh golem, 9.

Moving on, the traverse the middle passage.  Along the way they come upon a small alcove on the right side of the passage.  Investigating, the thief slips into another hidden pool of water, only this time he feels some kind of heavy equipment at the bottom.  Exploring further they discover a large metal wheel, which the thief could not turn.  So, they send 9 down to take care of it, which it is easily able to do.  Shortly after they notice the water level begins to slowly drop in the corridor.

Past that they enter a large, flooded room.  Prodding around with a 10′ pole, they discern that there’s a hidden path that follows the edge of the room, while beyond the path the bottom drops precipitously.  Carefully following the submerged path, prodding ahead of them, they come to a near 10′ gap in the path.  While deciding how to deal with the gap, a kelpie pops out of the water and charms the thief, who willingly, even gladly, jumps into the water to join the kelpie in loving embrace.

The remaining party members spent several rounds deciding what to do (while the thief slowly drowned), finally settling upon sending in the flesh golem to retrieve the thief.  The golem jumps in and after much frothing of water, kills the kelpie and throws the thief bodily out of the water, sputtering and choking.  While retrieving the golem, they use the intelligent sword to ‘find gold,’ which the sword detects below the surface of the water and outside the area of the room.

Moving on, they reach stairs at the far end of the room, adjacent to an unlocked door.  Opending the door, they find an empty, water-logged room beyond, absent any interesting secret doors (so far as they could tell, anyways).  Ascending the stairs, they come upon a T intersection continuing straight and branching to the right.  The party opts to inspect the right passage, coming upon a spinning cylinder with a groovey, hypnotic spiral pattern painted on it.  They decide to backtrack, not wanting to deal with the weird apparatus.

wpmfunkycylinder

Funky cylinder thingy.

Continuing straight, they soon come up on a heavy metal door, flanged to swing only inwards (in the direction the party is headed).  Investigating further, they see a second, similar metal door and, beyond that one, a third.  Convinced it was some kind of diabolical trap, they immediately spiked all three doors open.  And then immediately un-spiked them, deciding to rest for a day instead.  They retreat back to the empty, water-logged room.  Thanks to the receding water level the room is now bearable, if still damp.

Bright and early the next morning, they decide to tackle the cylinder thingy first, suspecting that Wave was probably beyond the three metal doors.  Approaching the cylinder, they can see that it glistens with a coating of oil.  The plan is to send the thief across with a rope, who will then tie it off so the others can cross.  The thief jumps on with gusto, sliding through the cylinder like it was an adult-sized Slip-n-Slide.  His child-like glee turns to horror, however, as a flaming arrow shoots out of a hidden slot on far side of the cylinder, igniting the oil coating and turning it into a giant flaming cylinder-o’-death.  Severely scortched (again), the thief can only wait for the fire to die out so the rest of the party can join him.

After crossing the cylinder, the party drops a couple of heals on the thief and bandage his wounds.  On the far side of the cylinder is a door, which they open, siccing the golem on who ever is on the other side.  The golem bashes a well-armored fighter to death while the cleric casts silence on an obvious magic-user standing at the back of the room.  The magic-user also happens to be a werewolf, and having little other recourse now, changes shape and attacks the golem, tearing it to shreds.  However, the golem did it’s job, weakening the werewolf and allowing the party to finish the lycanthrope off with relative ease.  Inspecting the room, the find a spellbook (pocketed by the magic-user for future study) and a chest which, upon touch, disolved into a stinking cloud, depositing some gold and gems upon the ground.

At this point the party decided to rest yet another day before tackling whatever lay beyond the three metal doors.  The next morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed, they again spike open the three doors and then investigate the corridor beyond.  The tunnel soon opens to the bottom of an open lake, protected by some kind of magical force-bubble.  The bubble is taut at the touch, and uncomfortably warm.  It is apparent to them that the skin could be easily ruptured, and doing so would dump an entire lake of boiling water on top of them.

Further in the bubble widens to a chamber about 30′ across and 60′ long.  In the middle of the chamber is the biggest giant crab they’ve ever seen, guarding a chest attached to the floor at the far end of the chamber.  They debate things for a while and decide on the following plan of action:  the thief will drink a potion of flying and zip around the crab to loot the chest while the cleric and magic-user distract the mighty crustacean.  They’d looted a ring of mirror images off the ogre magi a couple of sessions ago, so the cleric used that while the magic-user cast the same spell on himself.  They also tied a rope to the spikes holding open the metal doors, so that they could pull them all out at once, if need be.

So, the cleric and the magic-user move in, attacking the crab, doing some minor damage to it, while the thief zips around to the chest, opens it and immediately sees Wave sitting atop a pile of other treasures.  The crab (with 2 attacks per round) starts tearing through the mirror images at an alarming rate.  Next round, the thief grabs wave and decides to linger long enough to grab another treasure (a wand).  Again, the cleric and magic-user deal some damage to the crab; however, the crab turns its attentions towards the thief, hitting him once with its big, scary claws.  On the third round, and winning initiative, the thief grabs a stone in the chest, and then books it out of the chamber and back to the metal doors.

Getting greedy, the cleric drinks a potion of flying and flies to the chest to grab the rest of the treasure while the magic-user continues to distract the crab.  While the cleric is grabbing gold and gems, the magic-user manages to line up a lightning bolt diagnolly such that the 60′ bolt won’t rupture the bubble (geometry FTW!).  Meanwhile the thief grabs hold of the spike-ropes, ready to yank them out, yelling “Remember the plan.  REMEMBER THE PLAN!”

Finally the cleric scoops up every last copper piece and flies out of the chamber, with the magic-user close on his heals.  The enraged crab lumbers after them, heedlessly smashing into the bubble-tunnel, instantly collapsing it.  With a wall of boiling water on their heals, they nip through the metal doors as the thief yanks out the spikes.  The roar of water hitting the metal safety doors is deafening, but they are safe with Wave in hand.

Having barely escaped being boiled alive, the party decides that it is absolutely imperative they loot every last scrap of treasure in the dungeon, namely the pile hidden somewhere below the kelpie room.  Armed with Wave, the thief dives into the pool of water.  Wave imparts water breathing to its wielder (among many other abilities), so the thief doesn’t have to worry about drowning.  There is, however, another kelpie in the pool, who attempts to charm the thief.  Fortunately the thief makes his save and in turn stabs the kelpie with a vengence (rolling a natural 20, on which Wave reduces a target’s remaining hit points by half).  The kelpie flees for its life, allowing the thief to loot its submerged lair with impunity.  They find a bunch of gold and a nice suit of chainmail (+3!).

Finally done, they leave White Plume Mountain and return to the city.  Miracle of miracles, they actually return Blackrazor, Whelm and Wave to their rightful owners (depriving me of a good deal of mischievous fun…oh well), collect their 50,000 GP reward and proceed to play Dungeons & Shopping, trading off their unwanted magic items for more useful stuff.

For the first time this campaign, I’ll be running them through a dungeon of my own making instead of a published adventure.  After some thought, I decided to use this map (which I did not make, and now cannot remember where I got it), and populate with the funkiest monsters I can find in the Fiend Folio.  I mean the weird monsters that hardly anybody ever uses.  Hopefully it’ll go well.  Cheers.

I didn't make this, and I can't remember where I found it.  But it's cool.

I didn’t make this, and I can’t remember where I found it. But it’s cool.


%d bloggers like this: