Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tactics not Feats

Why I like Olde School

OK it's been ages, but you've got to start somewhere right? So here goes.

I was reading a post over at the Swords and Wizardry forums and I came across a post about old school games (no surprise there) where the OP was speaking about how combat was run in OD&D. And it occurred to me, the newer editions and the feats and skills that they brought to the table, have unwittingly steered the game away from tactics.

Most modern players (Editions 3+) look to the mechanics of the game to inform them of options in a scenario. No where does this type of behavior show up more than in melee. Cleave, tumble, combat expertise, combat reflexes, improved trip, improved feint, spring attack, and on and on... These have taken the place of what used to be common tactics based upon miniatures warfare, which in turn was based upon history and how best to leverage each weapon in a certain situation.

Example: In earlier editions it was common to place archers to the rear, and pike men behind a sword and board front line. Archers fired prior to engagement to thin out or weaken onrushing opponents. They then drew melee weapons and were free to either bolster the center or move to a flanking position. All the while the front line took the brunt of the charge while the second row of reach weapons (pole arms) added a second set of teeth.

Maybe a bit oversimplified, and not always tenable, but when possible this was a solid tactic that worked well in many cases. We thought about positioning, support and movement. Terrain and cover were paramount, when appropriate. It was a chess match heavily influenced by the fickle roll of the dice.

With the advent of third edition though this type of play fell off, to be replaced by a list of what you "can" do. Now instead of thinking hard before engagement you read off a list of things and thought about how you could stack the perfect combination in order to pile the damage high. The players thought a bit less about the others in their party and turned more towards themselves and all of those special things their character could do. Less team effort and more individualistic achievement.

And this was the way of things, for better or worse. The game became less "gritty" because your character was stronger on their own and less reliant upon the party as a whole. Less reliant upon tactics as a whole. This, in my opinion, took away from the choreography of party play. In the old days, when you dropped a member you were immediately alarmed. Imagine a flank collapsing and your line folding... Magnify that times 10 when there are only 6-8 characters on the field and you lose one of your fighting men. Uh oh!

Today though, it's not quite that way. Funny thing... you talk about tactics in a game today and you don't quite get the same response that you used to. Sometimes it's blank looks, but often it's "Oh, I totally 'tank' and soak so that the squishies can blast." It's just much more abstract. Not worse, just different.

I prefer the Olde School Way myself. I grew up with war games. Avalon Hill and then into miniatures prior to playing any RPG. This colored the way I approached things. It was common amongst those I played with to have an understanding of simple military tactics. So coming up w/ the best way to stomp those onrushing orcs was based upon a lot of factors, none of them being a feat or ability.

Ah the good old days.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge, Days 2-5

I knew it, for whatever reason, this has been more difficult that I had imagined. My lack of focus is extraordinary. Argh! OK, buckle down. Get it done. Not like it's onerous or anything. In fact, I love talking D&D.

Day 2: First person you introduced to D&D. Which edition? Their first character.

Mike Javernick. He was my next door neighbor. We had grown up playing Godzilla and Rhodan together for years. Coloring huge murals, playing army, all the stuff that kids did back in the 70's. We did it together.

But we had grown a bit apart once I got into Jr. High. Now that I was in 7th grade and Mike was in 6th, not only did the year separate us, but so did geography. He went one way every morning while I went the other.

Dungeons and Dragons though brought us back together. I got the Blue Box for Christmas in 77 or something... And immediately went over to Mike's house. I had played AD&D with my buddy in Jr. High, but I was about to introduce Mike to the glories of dungeons, skeletons and gold myself! So the answer to the second part of that question is: Holmes Version of Dungeons and Dragons.

I can't really remember the character that Mike started up, but I THINK it was a magic user. We didn't really understand the way that spells worked, so we allowed his character access to all of them. Heh. I do remember when his character first died though. Oh my... what a fit he threw. Yeah, we were pretty into it.

Day 3: First dungeon you explored as a player-character or ran as a DM. 

This is easy, the same one that came in the blue box naturally. Which was Quasquetron, or B1 In Search of the Unknown. My buddy Fish ran the module for me first, which is strange because I don't ever recall him having the Blue Box. He started w/ the LBBs and then went straight to AD&D. I don't know, did they sell that module outside of the Blue Box?

And then of course, since that was the only module that I owned, I ran it for Mike, his two younger brothers, his sister and my sister (who were best friends as well). What fun! We loved it. Well, I certainly did. And Mike still talks about playing Dungeons and Dragons to this day. I don't think that he ever played it afterwards, but we certainly played as much as we could. Every opportunity we got, we sat down and played.

Day 4: First dragon your character ever slew. (or some other powerful monster)

Huh...This is much harder. I don't really remember, but I'll take a shot. The first powerful "Cool" monster that I remember slaying was a Bulette. It was much later in my character's evolution and we were being ushered into the G series. If I remember correctly, our characters were traveling by horseback across the plains just south of the Vesve Forest in Greyhawk.

The beast naturally ambushed us and took us by surprise. After just one round we were a few horses shy and in dire straights. We won out, but afterwards my buddy Fish told me that it was just a bit of a test to see how we'd fare against something tougher, before we took on a whole slew of giants. Although at the time I had no idea what we were headed into.

As far as dragons went, I honestly have no recollection of battling a dragon before the G series. But those days were long ago and I certainly don't remember everything all that clearly.

Day 5: First character to go from first level to the highest level possible in the given edition.

The character that I was speaking of above was one of two that I ran from 7th grade all the way into University. The system was AD&D and the two characters I ran were a ranger named Sparrow Hawk and a thief named Fire Fox. Yeah, a bit goofy I know. But I loved those characters and they're probably my favorite to this day.

I was a huge fan of Wizard of Earthsea and Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser. So they were patterned after them. Granted, Sparrow Hawk had a bit of Aragorn in him as well of course. JRR's work was my foray into fantasy after all.

They started at first level and by the time I was in University they had climbed all the way up to 18th. They were the highest characters I had ever played in AD&D. Now of course other versions of the game seemed to accommodate higher levels. But not better. That's a story for another day though.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge, Day 1

Let's see if I can keep this up the entire month... I'm guessing by my past history that no, likely not. Worth a shot though.

First person who introduced you to D&D? Which edition? Your first character?

Introduced in this case is different from who had "told" me about Dungeons and Dragons. Briefly speaking, the person who "told" me about Dungeons and Dragons had also introduced me to playing miniatures wargaming when I was in grade school. He knew I loved Lord of the Rings, so thought that I might like a game that he and his more serious game compadres were looking into called "Chainmail". He gave me a small box of lizard men to paint and I was immediately taken with the odd creatures.

But I never played the game. And it wasn't until about a year later, 7th grade to be precise, that I met my future best friend. We were sitting in the gymnasium at lunch and he asked me if I'd like to try a game called Dungeons and Dragons. It sounded cool, so I said sure, why not.

The next day he brought me the AD&D Players Handbook. (I think this was about 1977, if I'm remembering correctly.) I was taken aback. I had played plenty of Avalon Hill bookshelf games and thought that THOSE rules were intricate and long. Boy, was I wrong.

Nonetheless, I took them home and did my best at trying to figure things out over the next few days in preparation to playing. Needless to say, I got the basic concept of class, race and things like that. I couldn't make heads nor tails of nearly anything else though. I was absolutely confused regarding this "level" concept. Spells? Ha! I had no idea, but man were they COOL! I loved paging through them and reading the descriptions. Trampier's art seemed to spark fires in my imagination. The whole thing was confusing, but I didn't care one whit. It was love at first sight.

It was the ranger though that really caught my attention. Here was Aragorn! 

That was my first character. A ranger. I don't remember his name right off hand. I don't even remember if I rolled him up fairly. I kind of doubt it, but nevertheless, my buddy let me keep him. 

He lasted all of one session. But that's a story for another post.

Here is the list of the next 27 posts... I'm keeping my fingers crossed. It's been a long while since I've written. I'm WAY out of practice. But this sounds like a lot of fun.

We out.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Swords and Wizardry Appreciation Day

Well, it's been quite a long while since I've blogged, as is evident by my dusty date stamps on the "last" blog post. But I'm here today for a good reason: It's Swords and Wizardry Appreciation Day!

And what you're seeing there to the right is a coupon to get some of the most awesomest RPG rules produced in the last 20 years. Granted, they're a "clone" game, which means that they've been based off of original rules and built upon newer rule structures. But I'll tell you what, if you've ever played the "Brown Box" and liked it, you'll LOVE these!

Fact is, you'll love these anyway.

So what to write as a tribute to this great game? First off, I haven't played a LOT of S&W. Most of my hours behind the screen w/ these rules (both White Box and Complete) has been w/ my girls in our family game. But that's stalled out a bit. So there's not a whole lot to write about there unfortunately. My eldest hates confrontation, and we're in a place in the game where that type of thing is fairly inevitable. Which makes her balk when I ask if she'd like to play...

And therefore I've opted to write about a game I'm trying to spin up on Roll20, the virtual table top software that's run in a browser. Quite nice.

Here's what I'm thinking, a semi-swords and sorcery game that's a mashup of standard S&S tropes (you know, R.E. Howard, Leiber, Vance, Smith, etc.) along w/ a more creepy vibe, something along the lines of H.P. Lovecraft (of course), the Grimm brothers, along with some classic old mythology. (You know, stuff where elves and dwarves aren't a race, but rather a nasty menace that may quite likely slay you as look at you cross-eyed.)

Alan Kerr (deadboydesigns.com)
I've started w/ the world of Xoth. Which is very well done and an excellent starting point as far as setting goes. I'll sprinkle a bit of "weird" in there too using a few bits and bobs (mostly setting stuff) from Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea, as well as some cool DCC RPG doodads (mostly Punjar), and Ancient Kingdoms: Mesopotamia madness.

Yeah, a gonzo stew if you will.

And how you might ask, would someone "run" a game like this? Well... That's where Swords and Wizardry comes in. It's THAT flexible. Sure, I'm going to have to tweak a bit here and there, but overall, it's perfect. Swords and Wizardry is one of those games that is just the right amount of "vague" for those of us who are never happy w/ something "as is". As well as structured enough so that it doesn't toss the traditional feel of an RPG straight out the window. It's easier for those of us to play w/in a structure that we're familiar with, and let's be honest, S&W is about as familiar as it gets.

That's the basis of my game. I've actually started building it in roll20, which is quite the process. Granted, it's such a potpourri that it's almost like starting from scratch. But that's kind of fun. You take ideas that you get from other games / settings / literature and mix them all together. Most of you who've created settings have gone through this in one way, shape, or form.

What I think that I'd like to do w/ this blog now is to keep notes on how things are going. And maybe track my progress and thoughts. That's always valuable: Keeping notes during a creative process. You can always come back later and find out what swayed you at any given time to do it this way, or that. Anyway, that's it for now. I hope that I've given you a decent impression of "why" I like S&W.

In general, the rules are about as good as they come. I mean c'mon, look at my idea above. What a mess, but it's Swords and Wizardry which allows me to do this. It would surely be a much more difficult task if I were to try it under another set of rules. (Not knocking other rules btw, just saying that for what I'm doing here, these work for me.)

Go check em out!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Session 3

Back in Wildsgate the party are hailed as heroes! People greet them on the street, they get "special" deals when they purchase goods, women want their babies kissed... Heck, women themselves want kissed.

Especially a young lady named Lissa. She's very forward in her desires, and makes it known that she'd very much like to "hook up" with any of the brave adventurers. The gallant elf Meloran is of particular interest to the stricken daughter of the owner of the Gem Store. But any of them would do... Yet none of the adventurers succumb, even though she's striking.

After their short foray in town, gathering information and restocking supplies, the group heads back to the Foehammer Spires, intent on finding the lost treasure of Zamuk the Swift in the dwarven mines. They make their way up the Saerdre river, looking for a natural way to make their way across. As they approach though the party determines that remaining on this side and penetrating the mines through the statue is likely the best course of action.

One of the first things that they notice as the day ends and their destination grows neigh, the sky is bereft of bats. The roar of the waterfall still remains of course, but the flittering of wings filling the night sky is absent. Where are the bats?

It occurs to the group that the goblins were serious when they mentioned that they were intent on moving...that this area was too "dangerous". And it is well known to every adventurer, when one alpha creature moves out, another moves in to fill the vacuum. And in this case the creature moving in is a draco lizard.

A mating pair is encountered high up in the abandoned tunnels. They provide a brief challenge before they are slain, but the monstrous lizards show just how quickly things change in the wilderness. It's a vibrant lesson in nature's economy.

Once the group carefully spans the rope bridges, (which by the way will weather quickly now that there are no keepers) they enter the cavern holding the strange demonic statue "Malraugin" and search for the door that they know is there, leading back deeper into the mountain.

Tevalon is an old hand at this by now, and quickly locates the secret catch, and "click" the door swings open again exposing the bare stone chamber and the dripping hallway. Lighting torches, the group, led by Rhovar, carefully makes their way into the tunnels below the river. It is quite nerve wracking hearing the rushing water just above one's head, but the hearty adventurers deal.

Carefully tapping the floor they find proceed to the corner and notice the very beautiful, if odd, stonework carved by the Foehammer dwarves. Flickering torchlight reveals flowstone, vines, strange corners, rounded edges and features that defy depth perception. Making for very strenuous exploration, they nevertheless find a door leading to the west, and decide to try that first, before proceeding down the hallway to the west (Which obviously leads directly below the river and behind the waterfall).

Opening is no mean feat, as it seems that it might be trapped, but the keen eyed elf and knowledgeable thief eventually figure it out. It swings wide on silent hinges to reveal more hallway winding further to the west. Proceeding that direction, they find a grate sunk into the floor, directly in front of another beautifully carven set of stone doors.

Entering a triangular room with a very ornately decorated set of stone doors flanked by a low set of braziers, the group decides to try their luck here. The odd doors have no handles, but rather keyholes in all four corners... Strange indeed.

Tevalon of course is immediately suspect and checks the door very carefully for traps, and sure enough, it is most certainly trapped. But as he is doing this, the elf Meloran spies a secret portal to the north after Gregory lights the braziers.

Meanwhile, Rohvar has tripped one of the traps on purpose, just to see what might lie in store for them. A pit opens in front of the door, at the bottom lie scattered bones, white in the reflected light... He rappels down and in his careful search is revealed that there is more here than meets the eye. Strange sliding doors are meant to open up, disgorging...something. The bones down here are strangely picked clean. A clue? Perhaps.

Opening the secret door is again a study in the stone wizardry of the ancient dwarves...but it yields its secrets nevertheless. Another hallway, carven slightly different from the rest, showing dwarves battling giants, goblins, orcs and other unknown creatures, stretches to the north terminating in steps leading down to a corner turning west.

Suspecting yet more trickery, the group very carefully makes their way down the stairs and finds that indeed, there is a pressure plate of some sort on the landing at the corner. Here the stairs lead yet further down to what appears to be a dead end.

Tevalon notices that there is a strange, well-hidden seam in the ceiling above his head near the top of the stairs and at the bottom, in the dead end, lies yet another trap door in the floor. And this trap door, after very careful examination, reveals rounded corners of some type...Why? Ah these dwarves were crafty creatures, not wont to give up their secrets easily.

Pondering the strange clues, the group comes up with the theory that the seams split apart, dislodging some type of ball that would roll down the stairs and thereby trapping whomever falls into the pit at the bottom. Develish in its cunning!

But what do all of these traps protect? Are they here simply to ensnare and confound the unwary? Or is there something here that has yet to be found? These dwarves were indeed vexing.

Finding nothing more of interest, and not willing to brave the door w/out the keys, the group moves on and explores the tunnel leading to the east. The sound of rushing water just above their heads is disconcerting, but they move forward to find yet another dead end!

Tevalon quickly finds a trap door in the ceiling though and also, a pressure plate just below it! Circumnavigating the pressure plate, he climbs up to the door in the ceiling only to realize that there is water leaking from around the seams. Is this somehow yet another trap?

The mage quickly calculates that the water seeping through is not nearly of the volume to indicate that there is much above it...and the sound of the river itself seems to be above and behind them at this location. So the party gives it a go and opens it.

As it rotates to the side with much effort, it dislodges quite a bit of water, but not enough to cause consternation. The room above is some type of religious room by all indications, but to whom? Obviously not to any known dwarven deity.

A chorus of croaking accompanies the party as they ascend into strangely disconcerting room. Candles burn in niches all around the room, providing an eery illumination, and the bones lying strewn around the odd plinth that the party moved to enter the room indicate that nefarious deeds have been perpetrated here.

But this was obviously not the original intent of the room. The pillars to each side show dwarves carved out of the stone, and the altar, although covered in a greenish cloth reveals dwarven script running all around. On top are 4 holes, for keys apparently. And around each of these are four symbols indicating, gold, bloodstone, an anvil and ruby.

Montcrief deciphers the writing which reveal 4 riddles.

    "When I am filled,
    I can point the way;
    When I am empty,
    Nothing moves me.
    I have two skins,
    One without and one within."
    --(Which indicated a glove. Wherein the group finds a key with a nugget of gold adorning it, in a pair of stone gloves upon the belt of one of the pillar dwarves. Also upon the same dwarf's hand is a steel ring.) 

    "I have many feathers to help me fly.
    I have a body and head, but I’m not alive.
    It is your strength which determines how far I go.
    You can hold me in your hand, but I’m never thrown."
    --(Indicating an arrow possibly...But this has yet to lead to the "key".)

    "I'm the part of the bird that's not in the sky. I can swim in the ocean and yet remain dry."
    --(A shadow maybe? But again, this has yet to lead to a "key".)

    "Clad in armor, never clinking, always moving, never drinking."
    --(A fish possibly? Still, no key.)

    As the group tries to decipher these clues they explore the large set of double doors in the southern portion of the room while keeping an eye on the stairs leading up to the east.

    The doors seem to lead outside, and are barred at the moment. And just as attention is directed to the stairs, the sound of feet slapping on the stone reverberate above the sounds of the croaking frogs.

    Emerging from the darkness is a group of "men" with the distinctive pallor and odd hopping gate of frogs! A croaking language erupts from their outsized throats as they charge into the room... Battle is joined.

    The melee is furious, but quick as the very odd frog-men fall it is the noise from the confrontation that is of concern. A pall lies over the field of battle and a sense of urgency is now upon the group...

    And no sooner than they've checked the bodies of the frog-featured invaders another threat emerges from the gloom in the east. These are shambling zombies though. The creatures accompanied by some sort of larger, ogre-sized undead, move inexorably into the room and again, in the span of minutes, another fight erupts.

    But yet again, the party proves victorious...but not before one of their own falls, Paige the archer succumbs to the mighty blows of the undead. She is "buried" w/out much pomp or circumstance in the tunnel below the altar. And Tevalon, trying to provide a sense of decorum, closes the tunnel below as he slides the altar back into place w/ a noticeable "click".

    Seems that there is but one way to go now if they are to continue searching for the famed treasure.

    Down the eastern hallways the party explores, down one "lift" through yet another secret door, and up another lift, they end up in a long unused hallway strewn with columns. North and south, the wide edifice has two other exits besides the one that they've entered, and as they advance into the room they detect faint motion on the edges of the flickering torchlight.

    "Ghosts" or shades of the ancient dwarves seem to pass through this room, and no amount of interaction will make them take notice of the living. The double doors on the western wall are made of brass and even from many feet away, they seem to radiate heat. While the door to the south is of stone, as most are in this demesne. 

    It is the southern door that attracts the group and they move to go through, opening it up and revealing a trophy room of sorts. Circling the room are pedestals, upon which sit broken dwarven relics of old. A crown, a hammer, a sword (dwarven urgosh), a tooth of some sort, a stone tablet and what appears to be some type of a cracked egg, mottled blue and white.

    In the rear of the room lies a low stone plinth and upon this lies what at first appears to be a dragon carved from stone.... But in fact, it is indeed a living, breathing dragon! Young and quite hungry to be sure, but a dragon nonetheless!

    It's grey skin covered in dust barely hides the ribs poking through from starvation, but rather than attack it recognizes the possibility of release and parlays with the adventurers. Stating that it's name is Sissrith, the creature tells them that it had flown into these caverns many many years ago, just after the dwarves had left, in search of food and possibly some treasure, only to be trapped in a cave in.

    He will agree to let the party leave w/out a fight, and w/ any item or items that they wish to take with them IF they will agree to help him escape the shades in the room beyond, which he says have never allowed him to exit.

    Sounding like the best deal available at the moment, the party agrees and picking up some of the artifacts in the room, find that the helmet allows them passage through the now swarming shades. Apparently the afore mentioned dwarven shades take notice when certain places are entered! And protect this area with vehemence.

    After much experimentation it seems that it is the crown that keeps the shadow creatures at bay...and Sissrith takes advantage and flees with alacrity. But now that they have discovered a safe way through, the party explores the last of the doors, the brass portals that seem to generate so much heat.

    Opening them, Rohvar is blasted with the intensity of a working forge. He moves in and makes the acquaintance of the master of the forge, one Gorlock Flamebrother, a legendary salamander from the deeps of the elemental plane of fire. At first the fighter fears for his life, but it turns out that like Sissrith, Gorlock is trapped here as well. 

    If the adventurers can determine a way in which to quench the forge, he will be set free, and doing such, he would then offer a weapon to each of his saviors. And these weapons! It is obvious that he has spent decades upon decades forging and re-forging each in search of perfection. But he is now overjoyed at seeing some of the broken trophies, for these are new items with which to occupy his time. And for now, that is all he has. He takes the hammer and urgosh and bids the party goodbye.

    Making their way back north the party adjourns to the room with the double doors to the outside in order to take a well deserved rest....

    And this is where we end.

    For now.

    Thursday, June 16, 2011


    Nazost the Scrivener is overjoyed...which is not his natural state, being a rather sour and bent old man. The items that he takes the most interest in are the urn, the suit of armor and the crossbow, as well as the copied sigils from around the base of the statue. He pays full price for the armor and crossbow (unless of course one of the characters would like to hold onto either one of course...).

    He invites you into his rather small room in the Tower of the Watch on the far western side of the castle. A spartan cot with tattered and threadbare blankets occupies one corner while the rest of the room is cluttered with objects both arcane in nature as well as martial. Stones with runes lie stacked in a corner next to a small brass brazier banked with glowing coals.

    What appears to be a small writing desk is covered in papers, scrolls and books. It is here that Nazost turns to when studying the sigils that you have supplied him. Rifling through papers, things scattering to the floor as if in a minor gale, he finally finds what he seems to be looking for; A black bound book. Small in size and apparently quite old, it is written in a spidery hand, the letters seeming to move when not looked at straight on...

    "Ho! It is as I thought...See this here?" he indicates by pointing to series of sigils, "Seems that our friends the dwarves made some bargains with a dark power indeed! Their need must have been great. Or maybe it was their greed? I know not." He shakes his head and looks up at you, hair in a disarray, "Malraugin." he whispers. "Do not say this too loudly, for it might attract attention of the sort that you will not appreciate. I'm quite sure."

    He was a powerful demon of the darkest sort. According to Keleb Tharna, the author of this book, he was a noble, but in disfavor at the time, and willing to make deals of any sort to curry it back. And this is why he was found here, on our mortal realm. The dwarves were in a powerful need I imagine and somehow found his true name. The rest is a mystery."

    He moves over to his bed and sits down, looking at the crossbow lying in his lap. "Somewhere along the line they not only made a bargain, but started worshiping this chaotic power. Most unusual for dwarves you know. They're a rather stoic race that is loathe to break from tradition. Like I said, their need must have been great."

    "This here," he says, pointing at the paper you've given him "is a prayer of sorts. It speaks of his power over their enemies and the blood that they owe him. I'd guess sacrifices of some sort naturally. But beyond that, I'm no demonologist. And I can't even guess."

    Eyes scanning the armor in the corner, he mumbles something about a prince, and then says "You know though, there is a demonologist in Botkinburg, not three days journey from here. He might be able to aid you where I can not. IF it's of any more interest that is. Maybe, when you are done, you might make a journey for me? I would pay of course. This is of great interest to me. I'm so close, yet this entity is quite obviously central to the dwarves demise. And I must know more. Ah, but I must be patient...I've been so for quite a long time now. A little longer will not hurt me. No?"

    With that he gets up from the bed accompanied by the popping of joints and a sigh.."Ah, these old bones. I can't thank you enough you know. Oh! and do you have maps of the dwarven ruins? I'll pay for those too if you have any."

    Thanking you again, he seems finished. All the energy having drained from him like sand from a sieve. "I will see you again. You are heroes you know. All the castle is talking about it. The prisoners that you have freed are quite the topic. Returning is quite a feat in and of itself, but what you've done so far is commendable."

    Shuffling to the door he opens it and shows you out, "Come again, please. I'll have more energy once I get my rest. Thank you." And with that, he closes the portal with a sigh.

    Cut Scene: Tevalon rolls over in his sleep...For some reason it has been slippery this evening, like trying to capture a silverfish with bare hands. He sits up slowly as a sound teases him. Just on the edge of his perception, it's the rapid fluttering of wings...lots of them.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    Sunday's Game (5-22) Part Two

    Making their way back across the swaying, mist-covered bridge w/out mishap. The group rallies to navigate around the side of the spire, towards the large wooden platform above the myriad gobbo holes. From which they've witnessed the creatures issue forth like spiders from a bloated body.

    This bridge is longer than the first, and proves a little more troublesome. Yet no one falls to their doom. Quickly making their way up onto the platform, so as not to be noticed by any stray goblin wandering out from their hole, they find it abandoned in the daylight.

    On the edges though they find large iron rings and leather straps stationed around the perimeter. Probably some type of "hitching post" for bats. The gouges and scratches prove that this is quite likely. Located about 30 or so feet above the platform are a series of large cave mouths.

    There are no handholds to these, but that doesn't prove an issue as Tevalon easily scales upwards in order peer above the lip of the closest cave. Inside he can dimly perceive that there are large forms hanging from the ceiling. The strong odor of ammonia assaults his senses as well...Bats! And large ones at that. So now they know where the mounts reside.

    Another bridge leads off to a spire further to the east. It is decided that this will be the next destination. Again the swaying goblin architecture doesn't prove much of an obstacle (decent rolls combined w/ good tactics).

    As they make their way across though the notice through the rising mist that there's yet another bridge rising from the back of the spire their heading towards to a dimly seen set of stairs near the back of the spire they had just vacated.

    The next set of caverns prove to be another bat aerie as well as some type of massive still manned by a few goblin "technicians". One is intelligent enough to speak a pidgin common. They explain to him that they're delivering a message to Azubal and also show him the statue of the bat-demon. The goblin's eyes grow wide as he explains that this is important to Azubal.

    They leave the goblin w/ a few gold pieces for his silence and make their way towards the spire and Azubal. As they pass through the last room they discover 12 prisoners shackled to the walls. Weak and somehow paralyzed, the 10 humans and 2 elves (who are not paralyzed...) are non-communicative. And other than their strange wounds, which would indicate that they had been bled, no more information can be gleaned from these poor souls.

    Rohvar leads the way again, and finds a door atop the stairs. A goblin door by any standard, but sturdy enough to bar easy entry. After the group has formed up on the stairs Rohvar kicks the flimsy door in and they charge into the gloom...

    Azubal, a bat-winged enormous goblinoid, lays strewn across a stone throne as the intruders burst upon the scene. He leaps up, says a word in goblin and two hurtling shapes detach themselves from the darkness and are upon Rohvar immediately. These strange, scaled beasts resemble low, powerful wolves with long snouts and too many teeth. One takes Rohvar to the ground and nearly takes his throat out, but the cagey fighter gets his shield up just in time. It shatters....but the warrior is safe.

    Azubal leaps into the fray with his cold-iron flail whining though the air... Gregory charges into the room and confronts the fiend, while Meloran plies his bow from near the doorway. Tevalon creeps around the perimeter in the hopes that the shadows will conceal him enough to strike w/out being seen.

    Amidst the chaos of melee, the wizard Montcrief finger wags and lets fly a sleep spell! It strikes true and the bat winged creature falls to the ground...snoozing and dreaming of sanguine sacrifices.

    The dog-like creatures go down quickly under the ministrations of Gregory and Rohvar. Azubal's throat is slit... for it is better to kill a creature such as this than it is to keep it alive to whisper its lies and poison. The chamber is searched and the brown stained stone bowl is obvious the receptacle in which the blood from the captives had been kept. Disgusting.

    With the death of Azubal deals are struck with the brewer goblin. Although he claims that it is indeed much too dangerous for the clan to remain any longer. Further questioning reveals that these goblins have been here for ages...and Azubal, has been at their helm the entire time. Montcrief comes up with the idea that perhaps these are the dwarves! And that they've never left...but have somehow changed. Maybe the demon is somehow behind this?

    Loot is traded to the goblins in order to get the 12 prisoners back to safety.

    The next order of business is the treasure that the shaman has promised upon the death of Azubal. Armed w/ the strange holy symbol that was just recently about the neck of the Azubal himself, Rohvar descends by rope into the dank, dark, dripping cavern. Water laps at his feat and a fetid miasma rises in the air...but there is no sign of a shadowy ghost.

    His armor left above, he slips into the water to make his way to the island. His only company, a bobbing, bloated corpse.

    Arriving safely at the island he realizes that the "chest" is actually some type of stone coffin. About this time Gregory has descended as well and is swimming strongly towards the island. Meloran hangs by a rope and covers the group w/ his bow.

    Priest and warrior strain to move the lid, and do so...A shadowy form lunges forth and misses Rohvar by a hair's breadth. Gregory attempts to turn the creature with the power of Celestian, to no avail. It continues its assault.

    Rohvar strikes it but realizes that his weapon is doing no good. So he takes his torch and lays into the ephemeral creature to good effect. It seems to hurt the strange nether-being as it shrieks a silent scream. Again and again he strikes...and brings the horrid thing low.

    Inside the sarcophagus lies a package all wound up in oilcloth, lying beneath a skeleton of some type of either dwarf or goblin. It is hard to tell.... Disgorging a couple of fine swords, a couple of bags of gold pieces as well as a small sack of bloodstones, the loot seems strange. And questions are pondered, but no answers are easily found.


    Tevalon has decided that it might be a decent opportunity in which to liberate those two red gems from that horrid statue. He climbs up and pries the first loose. And it explodes into a cloud of ferocious bats who immediately attack the rogue. He somehow makes it through by plying his torch as well, but not before becoming bloodied....the gem clinks to the ground (Torches won the day boys!)

    Shaking his head, he sits at the base of the statue peering at his newly purloined prize! Drinking wine and looking to his wounds, the thief thinks of the sister to this gem, still up in the statues ugly head. Not known for shirking his duties (or his wisdom for that matter), he remounts the statue and looks for a trap...(rolls a 10%) and somehow, he miraculously finds one. Olidamara must certainly be smiling upon him.

    Making as sign against ill luck, and saying a quick appeasement to Ralishaz, he pulls the tooth back and a click resounds from the throat of the statue. Could that have done it? Tevalon pries the eye loose...closing his in anticipation. It worked! A quick look inside the mouth assures the thief that there is nothing else of interest.

    By this time Meloran has arrived, and the elf, hearing the click...climbs up and takes a look into the mouth. His keen eyesight, aided by his dark vision allows him to notice a slim crack in the back of the mouth. He pushes and a small 3' tall door swings open, revealing a short hallway that opens into some type of small room.

    Wherein the group finds yet more loot. This though looks as if it hasn't been touched in aeons. Probably since the time of the dwarves. A dwarven suite of plate mail, decorated w/ a bat motif, a crossbow and an urn are carefully arranged against the wall. Another stone door is located on the other side of the room. Opening it shows a tunnel running north into darkness, but also the sound of running water can clearly be heard hear.

    Realizing that their rations are failing the group opts to leave this door be and they make plans to leave the Spires for the safety of the Keep's walls. Loading their winnings upon their donkeys, they make their way back along the game path.

    Half way their, Clifford leaves the trail in order to go to the washroom. He comes running back claiming that he's found something in the thick woods, just off the trail. A quick reconnaissance reveals an abandoned village. Huts still stand, but there are obviously no signs of inhabitants. Again though, the grumbling in their stomachs necessitates they continue their journey home.

    The group makes the Keep just before night fall.

    And this is where we stopped.

    Next up: Treasure List and some random facts / observations.