Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday's Game (3-17)

I've jotted down a few notes on our game today in order to keep things straight. If I've missed anything or incorrectly logged them, please make a comment and I'll fix it. My observations on the game are near the end.

We open w/ the group congregating at the funeral of the young ex-adventurer Aldred of the Azure Legion. While Father Motter is giving the service the gate is attacked by 5 skeletons...yes Rohvar, the same 5 that followed you and Gregory from the barrow of Therex. It is short lived but two of the guards are taken down in the melee.

Meanwhile Gregory is sick in bed, unable to rise and attend the services.

Father Motter rushes to the gate to help and the adventurers follow suit. While there they confirm that the skeletons are indeed the same ones who followed them the previous night. They also ask the father to take a look at their sick comrade, Gregory, as well as the hammer recovered from the barrow.

While he knows nothing about the hammer, he does suggest going to the smith, he brings Gregory to the chapel for aid. And for a small donation of 60 sp, he administers a potion that seems to help him out tremendously. The Father announces that Gregory should be on his feet by tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, the smith takes a look at the hammer and guesses that it is indeed from this area, due to the familiar, yet incomprehensible, writing on the weapon. He says that it's well balanced but doesn't appear as a serviceable weapon. It is cold-wrought iron, which is a very difficult thing to do, so he imagines that it's made to slay Fae creatures. Is is special beyond that though? It is hard to say.

The Broken Manacles, better known as the store, is the next stop and there the group loads up on supplies. Food, wine, arrows, etc.

Next they speak to Nazost the Scrivener...for he's rumored to be a minor local historian, and he might know something about the Foehammer Spires. A few wines loosens the old man's tongue and he says that the dwarves disappeared about the same time the original Baron Wulfrun started carving out his part of the world.

An internecine war between brothers seems to be the cause of the downfall...along w/ a mysterious alliance that didn't work out the way it was supposed to. Either way, the dwarves of the Foehammers were never heard from again. He also said that they were very clever stone masons as well as insanely greedy, so beware!

As far as Zamuk, the thief, was concerned...All Nazost knew was that something important to the Wulfrun family was taken, and never recovered. Where it finally came to rest, no one is quite sure. At the end of their conversation though, the Scrivener offers to purchase any maps or dwarven related artifacts / items from the Foehammer mines.

Not much later, Tevalon stumbles across some type of hidden thieve's shrine behind the store. It is to the thief Zamuk, who's revered as a local "hero" of types. He's the guy who got away with it. But a shrine to a guy who stole from the Wulfrun's IN the castle itself?!? Odd. Yet Tevalon drops an offering in the tin cup. Who knows? A little luck might come in handy actually.

A little later that evening, before the group retires, they scour the "local talent" in the hopes of hiring some more muscle for the trip to the Foehammers. A sour countenanced man named Sawyer (who reputedly was a smuggler, cattle rustler, etc.) hires on enthusiastically after being recently unemployed by a traveling merchant. And Paige, a young woman, who's not quite as certain of the party's destination, hires on as well. Each makes a deal for 5 gp / week and all supplies paid for by the employer.

The next morning the group is off early to cross the Saedre river at the ford. Gregory is feeling nearly 100% and everyone is eager to do some exploring of the fabled wilderness to the north. That afternoon Meloran the Elf notices a flying shape take wing from the trees ahead...It circles them a few times at elevation and then wings quickly north towards the spires. This isn't the first time he's seen these winged creatures, he spied three of them the previous evening at sunset. But this time he distinctly noticed a rider!

Fording the wide Saedre isn't difficult, but it does take patience. Apparently there used to be some sort of a dwarven bridge here long ago, but it has collapsed, leaving only the pillars at each end. Once the far shore is won, the group takes to the trail, and the forest.

The trail leads north along the smaller river that comes out of the Foehammers, diving in and out of the deep woods while rising slowly in elevation. Eventually the traveling becomes a little more difficult as the group approaches the escarpment and the spires themselves. As they move closer the sound of a mighty waterfall, cascading over the 300' high escarpment, announces their arrival.

Caves litter the spires up ahead as the trail splits in many directions. Thin tendrils of smoke coil out towards the sky, but there is no other obvious sign of life. Still, these entrances do not look like something any reasonable dwarf might construct.

Exploring one of the lower caves, the group finds a suitable retreat, should they need one. Afterwards they move back onto the main trail leading up the spires and enter the first cave entrance in the hopes of ambushing the "goblins".

Two guards, who had apparently been paying attention, were observing the group from a high perch in the cavern wall. After determining that they were not "goblins" the creatures slink back into the dark to warn their comrades. There are two exits (not counting the one just entered) from the room: Stairs leading up to the west or the niche / "window" leading to the north.

Opting for the road less traveled, they send the thief Tevalon up as a scout. He plants a rope and the rest follow post haste. Meloran, using his acute vision, notices quite a lot of scuttling about to the left and looses an arrow, knocking one of the small shapes to the ground w/ a crash. All of the movement stops.

And resumes with a rush of four strange stone-like creatures of small stature come screaming out from around the corner. They leap to attack Rohvar and Clifford immediately while Gregory picks up a straggler. The fight is joined.

Beyond the large flaming ball that the "goblins" try trapping the party in the room with, there is not much to trip them up. The fight goes quickly and the remaining two retreat to the north, beyond a large wall hanging.

Montcrief and Sawyer move to check it out, but not before a wizened "goblin" casts a spell and puts most of the party to sleep! Two goblins quickly pull Gregory in through the wall hanging towards the sitting shaman.

As Sawyer and Montcrief move through in pursuit, the hanging catches fire from the torch in Sawyer's hand. Now there is effectively a flaming wall splitting the party. But it appears that the shaman is not interested in fighting as he parleys w/ the magic user.

Homok, the shaman, will agree to split "his" treasure with the group if they slay the leader of the "bat people", Azubal. Sure...why not?

He tells them that his treasure lies below them, through the well entrance. The nimble elf climbs down and is promptly attacked by a deadly shadow creature! He scrambles back up, but not before quickly glimpsing a spit of dry land to the north in the watery room, and on it lies some type of large oblong chest! That must be the treasure Homok mentioned.

Well, it's not an easy thing to obtain apparently, and might wait till later. So the group heads up the stairs towards Azubal. They emerge in a guard post and immediately take care of the two guards. Gregory knocks one they have a captive now!

Out the other exit to this room they spy light and looking out they see a series of wooden planks surrounding cave mouths. Hooking all of this together they see swinging rope bridges. By now the light is falling towards evening...but before it fades completely they notice that through the opening in the spire to the north west they can view finished walls! Not likely carved by goblins.

And this is where we ended it.

  1. My pacing was slow. I apologize. I was trying to get a feel for how fast you guys move as a group. Now I see that you're used to a bit more upbeat game. I'm definitely going to pick this up for next session.
  2. You guys haven't really been challenged yet. Don't fret. In older school games you'll experience the gamut of challenges. You'll mow over certain things while completely getting in too deep w/ others. It's not linear, and you have to remember that. You absolutely might come across something that'll be a bit too nasty to take on head to head in the standard way. Don't forget fire and holy water. (Although I don't think you guys picked up any of that while in town...)
  3. In this version of D&D it's up to you guys to get creative w/ your strategies while in battle. If you feel like trying something new and different, there's no list of feats and / or skills. Just ask and we'll figure it out. Gregory's shoulder and Meloran's boot to the head are two examples of non-standard attacks. BTW, I'm not saying you're not creative, it'll take some getting used to though. You don't have rules as a script telling you what's available, you'll have to come up w/ that on your own.
  4. One of the rules I forgot to mention was the two-weapon fighting rule. If you have a dexterity above a 13 you can fight w/ a weapon in each hand. You roll once to hit and then two dice for damage, rolling the highest damage die type and taking the highest of the two rolls. For example, a thief fighting w/  dagger (d4) and a short sword (d6), rolls one to hit roll and then two d6, taking the highest of the two rolls.
  5. I was trying battle w/ out using the "order of battle", but if you like using it better, we can certainly do that.
    1. Initiative
    2. Morale
    3. Movement
    4. Missile fire
    5. Magic
    6. Melee
    7. Surrenders and retreats
  6. You guys are awesome players. Thanks again for letting me DM for you, I certainly had fun and am looking forward to the next session.

60 XP / character

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Intro to Sunday's Game

Welcome to B/X Dungeons and Dragons! I'm excited to have the opportunity to run the game that introduced me to this wonderful hobby for a new group of victims players. If you've never played a version that didn't have an "E" associated with it (2E, 3E, 4E, etc.) then you're in for a treat. This is where it all began.

If this is new to you then there are many things that you'll immediately notice are a bit different. We'll tweak some things as we go along, we'll do away w/ a few others. But what you have to remember is that this is YOUR GAME! Bottom line. If you have a suggestion for something you'd like to see or do then toss it out on the table and we'll see where it goes.

Anyway, enough rambling, on with the intro. Oh, you'll have to excuse the slight "hiccup" between sessions... I know that Keith ran you guys through a very brief portion of Keep on the Borderlands, and while this is similar, it's not exactly the same. If there are a few cracks in the pavement, per se, then please disregard, it'll smooth out eventually.


The Mug and Blade, while not necessarily a top notch establishment by big city standards, has been highly regarded along the border for generations. It's one of the best dives around! Claims Toothless Ed, one of it's oldest patrons. And yes, it's tradition for mercenaries of the adventuring stripe to congregate at taverns, as cliched as it might seem, it's just downright convenient. Let's just call it an unwritten rule.

Adventurers are not an unknown breed here in Wildsgate. No, in fact they're quite common. But what is uncommon are adventurers that return from their "adventures". So as you might well imagine, those that return are afforded a certain degree of status: 'Survivor'. Even if it's just a quick there and back again, and they faced nothing more ferocious than your average dog, they were there and now they're here. And that's what counts.

In the Mug and Blade there is a cadre of adventurers that have that 'Survivor' status, but they are not legion. And those that have been there and back again have an innate way of recognizing those others that have experienced the same. Whether they've been into the Foehammers, or in some other dark dank hole in the ground, they've all been "bloodied".

And the group that sat around the table telling tales of the Caves of Chaos were no different. Missing a few of their comrades, who were currently off on their own little side trek, they told a tale that people wanted to listen to. Ancilith, better known as Ancy, was front and center, firing off questions as fast as they occurred to her. And as soon as the group was done with their tale, Ancy stood up and motioned to the crowd.

"Most of you have heard me tell a tale or two..." and the crowd erupts w/ laughter, "But I've never told you about the time I lost one of my closest companions.

Our group had adventured to the west of here a ways, and had crossed swords w/ a group of swamp men. They were ferocious opponents, all scales and teeth. They'd hide beneath the water till you nearly tripped on them, then WHAM! Out they'd leap. Would nearly scare you stiff.

Well after our close scrape, we found an oilskin map of the Foehammers. Only we didn't really know them by that name back then. See, we weren't from around here. And the other thing we didn't know back then was their reputation.

But we were like most of you are now, you see a map and immediately assume treasure, right? Am I right? Of course I am.

Off we go. The trip wasn't particularly dangerous per say. We didn't cross the path of anything that made us scamper, nor even draw our blades if I remember correctly. The weather was beautiful. Fall around these parts, as you well know, is something to behold. But it can also be quite dangerous, as storms roll in w/out warning. And as you might guess, a storm rolled in that evening.

We had been camped out next to the Saerdre river, in hearing distance of the falls, when it hit. It was awfully dark, as you can imagine, and the lightning was dancing down amongst the trees. I'll tell you now, it wasn't a place you wanted to be. Packing all of our gear up as quickly as we could, we navigated by lightning flashes towards the closest hillside.

Circumnavigating the base of what must have been one of the spires, we found what at first we thought was a game trail of sorts, but about 1/3 of the way up it turns to stairs. Moss covered and slick, we made our way up the side of the hill towards what we thought must be shelter.

Making the cave mouth was a welcome relief as we took refuge from the pelting rain and hail as well as that gods cursed lightning. What we took to be a rather small, yet dry cave was actually much more.

Now I wont get into the entire story, as I'd like to save a surprise or two for another evening, but I will tell you this: Later that night, as I sat up on watch, firelight flickering against the walls, I thought I hear a scrape. But not out near the entrance like you might think, no, it was further back in the cave. Where no one was sleeping.

Curious, I light a torch from our fire and move to investigate. Thinking maybe it was a rat, or something.... I am surprised to find that the cave is all of a sudden much larger than I had thought. The whole back wall seemed to have suddenly vanished in the night. Like smoke from a fire...just up into the air and gone.

I should have warned the others right then. I shouldn't have hesitated. But I was younger, and a lot more foolish.

What I could see was a strange floor of slick black stone. Gleaming as if it were wet. And carved in that stone were what I took to be snakes...Only they weren't. They were all originating from the same place, some central thing in the center of the huge mural. Something that didn't quite make sense. And I know I'm not making any myself right now. But I can't tell you exactly what I saw because I don't have the words for it.

Whatever it was, I've never seen it since and I hope never to see its like again. It made my skin crawl.

I think what saved my life was the sound I heard behind me, a scraping noise as if something were being dragged across the floor of the cave. I spun about and found that my feet had taken me far beyond where my mind thought I had gone. I saw shapes then, all around in the dimness, just beyond my torchlight. I knew then that I had been under the thrall of some type of sorcery!

Crouching with my blade in my hand I frantically looked for the welcoming firelight of our camp. I saw it to my rear, about 30 paces away, like a beacon out across dangerous waters. But I knew I had to make that light, or die in the trying.

I muttered a quick prayer to Johydee and tossed the torch one way while diving the other, hoping of course to cause confusion and giving me an avenue of escape. Maybe it worked, all I know is that after coming up on the balls of my feet, those shapes had either retreated, or followed the light. With my new found freedom I sprinted for our fire.

It was further than I thought at first, and took me much longer to gain, but gain it I did. Only to find strange man-shaped beings wrestling my companions in silence. And I mean complete silence. I screamed a warning as I entered the area, but to no avail, not a sound emerged from my mouth.

So I did the next most logical thing, I picked up a brand from our fire in one hand, and w/ my sword in the other, I joined the fray. We were hopelessly outnumbered, and for some strange reason the light seemed to bend and dance in a very strange way. It was all so confusing and I know you must think I was drunk. But I'm telling this true, I was sober as a church mouse and as scared as if a cat were staring me down.

I was slashing at these odd man-beasts and it was like fighting shadows on a wall. They were here one moment, and then gone the next. I still don't know to this day if I ever hit one of them. All of the sudden we were alone in our cave. Minus Lyssa of the Lake People.

The back wall was where it was before. There were marks on the floor proving our scuffle wasn't the stuff of shadow magic, but still, no Lyssa. Where she had gone we don't know, but we can only guess that she was taken by those strange beasts. We scoured that ground the next day, in the hopes that we'd find some clue, some hint of where they had taken her. The only thing we found was a strangely carven idol that might fit in the palm of a child's hand.

A strange slick looking stone that makes one feel like they're holding onto melting ice. It makes me uncomfortable even today to be anywhere near that thing. Yet I still keep it amongst my possessions in the hopes that it will lead me to Lyssa.

Ah, but that was years ago, and the Foehammers keep their secrets close. I have no illusions that she's still of this mortal coil.

Anyway, that's my tail for this eve. Ware the Foehammers."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wildsgate Part 1

*1 square = 10'

Here are a few things that the two PCs Gerald the (once) Pious, and Rohval of (help me out here Keith), have found out in their brief time in Wildsgate.

The fastness known as Wildsgate is built atop a high ridge of exposed rock. Stone walls protect half the fortress, while the other half is guarded by a steep cliff. With the exception of the citadel and watch towers, most buildings are two-story, the lower story consisting of dark stone, timber frame uppers, with plasterwalls and thatched roofs.

Wildsgate NPCs of Note:

  1. Marshak the Reeve: A enormous man w/ a trimmed red beard, bald head and tattooed arms, carries an axe over his back. He makes a point of greeting (and sizing up?) all newcomers to Wildsgate.
  2. Nazost the Scrivener: (commonly found w/ Marshak) An older man w/ a pronounced limp and a "crooked" back. His black smudged hands are busy as birds, writing all details of each visitor in his ever present Book of Names. (Note: His secret passion is the study of Dwarves...will pay for any new information surrounding the lost dwarves of the Foehammer Spires)
  3. Ancilith: ("Ancy" to the locals) The owner of the Mug and Blade tavern. An ex-adventurer..or so they say. She's "one of the guys" and can be found leading bawdy drinking songs late into the night. Quite pleasing to the eye as well. Green-eyed, long scar running down the right side of her face.
  4. Hilto Foibold: Runs the Falling Star Inn (owned by Lady Aborn). Is a tidy, courteous man of middle years. Very efficient and fairly non-descript, as far as that goes.
  5. Father Motter: Runs the chapel. A man of the cloth (but which cloth?)...Advancing years but surprisingly spry of step. Very accommodating and willing to involve himself.
  6. Aldred of the Azure Legion: A young fellow met at breakfast in the Falling Star Inn. Eager and bright eyed. ( quite dead. See Role Call of the Dead)
  7. Clifford: A massive bear of a man. Impressive red beard, sprawling, thickly-plaited hair under a horned helm. Wears poorly kept ring hauberk and fights w/ a massive hammer (maul really). Can be smelled from 5 paces and is not the brightest of the bunch, but keen on finding treasure. (Note: Has a map obtained from a "witch"...Shows small valley, wherein lies barrow(s). )
  8. Lady Aborn: Sister to the reigning duke. A descendant of the original Baron Wulfrun. Raven haired and reputedly a stunning beauty.
  9. Baron Wulfrun: The progenitor. From all accounts, he was only slightly less wild than the surrounding area he conquered by strength of arm.
What went before: ( a brief recap )

Our heroes entered Wildsgate just as the sun was setting and the gates were closing for the evening. They were met by Marshak the Reeve and Nazost the Scrivener, where they gave their names and intent while in Wildsgate. They asked after an inn and tavern and were directed to the Mug and Blade tavern as well as the Falling Star Inn.

Rooms at the Falling Star were obtained for 5 gold a night. A total of 3 nights was paid for and the comfortable room (locking and barred door, locking chest, wooden "barred" windows, wash basins, clean tick mattresses, clean linens, breakfast and dinner included.), located at the top of the stairs to the immediate right was given the thumbs up. Cleaning up they ate a hearty supper and went for an apertif to the Mug and Blade next door.

25 to 30 individuals of all stripes filled the Mug and Blade. A boisterous song was being led by a woman standing on a table. They were immediately greeted (after the song ended) by Ancilith the owner. The first round of drinks were purchased and she told them to beware the Foehammer Spires, for they were extremely dangerous. There was a reason the Dwarves of old disappeared.

During the course of the evening Toothless Ed was plied for information: Apparently the Foehammers are cursed and all that go there are destined to eat the flesh of their own kind! Also, long ago, a thief stole from the Wulfrun Family and hid the cache just before passing this mortal coil. But where?!? Rumor has it that he expired in the Foehammers...naturally.

The next morning the duo is approached by Aldred and Clifford, hoping to entice them on a jaunt into the countryside in search of reputed treasure. A map owned by Clifford shows what can only be the area previous to the Wildsgate Fortress being erected. And in it lies a small village and a barrow mound...wherein lies TREASURE!

On the way out they catch a glimpse of the famous Captain Argun and the Outriders. The vaunted road patrols.

A short jaunt down the King's Highway and they reach an obviously ancient copse of apple trees. There they find a body strung up...possibly some needle-toothed blue ape. It's quite dead and a trail of blood indicates that others might have been caught in a small altercation and escaped into the woods. But the quad cannot be deterred from their original goal: TREASURE!!

Mere minutes later a duo of these odd creatures are stumbled upon and one is made a companion...His name is Grak and he speaks a halting dialect of common. He agrees for 4 silver "shinies" to lead the group to the tombs.

Once there it is obvious that it's been just recently broken into. The blue-skinned knuckle draggers are inside and battle is avoided by adroit negotiation. Six of them leave...

But through the next chamber is the "chief" and he's mighty pissed. The fight is joined but it doesn't last long as the four take the blue demihumans down. Only Clifford is injured.

A total of 5 rooms are explored. The last two prove the most troublesome; The next to last contains some type of desiccated undead who attacks the group w/ a hammer. He hisses and weezes that Therex will take revenge for this intrusion. He fells poor Aldred and creates confusion, but alas, he falls to the blades and hammers of the adventurers. Still, the pit-trap and battle have worn our hearty adventurers down.

They rest for 15 minutes, bind their wounds and drink some fortifying wine. (oh, and let's not forget a cleric's spell) And on they go.

The last room contains some type of earth spirit who eerily sounds just like Therex again! But this is the jackpot and the fight is well worth it. Eventually the spirit succumbs and the loot is won.

3 sword hilts w/ tiger-eye pommel gems
6 blood amber cups
60 pieces of silver (ancient in design)
The hammer of Therex
Some type of brass insect (cunningly and intricately wrought)

As the hearty looters adventurers take their leave they realize they are being pursued by yet more dead guardians. Will this never stop?! They easily outrun the implacable advance...But to what extent?

They regain the fortress and head for the chapel. There they meet Father Motter and hand over the corpse of their ex-comrade, Aldred, for preparation for burial. Which will take place upon the morrow. All are invited!!

Until we reconvene again...