Sunday, February 28, 2016

Arandish Campaign Sessions 70-74 Log

This post continues the work begun in this previous log, chronicling the ongoing exploits of my "home" campaign group. That group's PCs include:

Yor, dwarven warrior and Baron of Rogaland
Dak the Younger, dwarven warrior
Innominus, Cleric of Endra
Uncle Junkal, rodian bard and member of the Kaladarian Central Bard's College
Vivuli, a vile and mysterious assassin
Hazel, a fighter / magic user with a valiant pet kestrel

As before, these updates will take a more brief "capsule" form -- feel free to ask for elaborations in the comments.

Session 70 "Wizards' Council"
Date: 5/12/2013
PCs: Innominus (Clr 7), Dak (Dwf 7), Uncle Junkal (Rodian Bard 6), Vivuli (Assassin 5 / Mu 5)
NPCs: Flipwayter (Dwf 3, follows Dak), Rodrick (Thf 5, follows Viv), Claude (Rgr 4, follows Uncle Junkal)

Starts late afternoon of Day 194 at the Arkus Residence in the Lookout Hill District of the Free City of Kaladar. Heavy snowfall. Most of the party rests and relaxes at the Minochian Prince's modest but well appointed town manor.
Morning of Day 195 -- extremely heavy snowfall.
Tonight at midnight a Grand Council of Wizards is scheduled at the White Council Guildhall, to discuss recent demonic incursions into Ara and Kaladar.
Uncle Junkal, accompanied by Innominus, visits his old campus, the Central Bard's College of Kaladar, and consults with on old grey haired rodian bard there. Asks about the cryptic note he got at the Orc's Balls Inn in Session 61, learns next to nothing. UJ also asks about Morag's Gates and possible folkloric locales for Morag's Workshop. His source says the workshop is either in the eastern mountains of the southern trollish territories, north of Gannar in Novellan, or possibly on the Komar Peninsula (though this last surmise could be the result of a mis-translation).
As for the chits and the gates, Ben the Librarian asks UJ and Innominus if they've seen a Gate or used a chit in one, and Innominus tells him they buried a Gate under Kaminster's Manor in Rogaland, South Minoch. Upon further questioning, during which the Endran priest mentions encountering a "lobster woman," Ben tells of ancient battles between her slimy legions and Fort Hragdor -- maybe Kaladar Island is a holy place for Blibdoolpoolp?
Viv seeks an assassins' guild to join, hopes to be tapped to join The Red Hand. He instead meets some representatives of the Kaladarian Murder-Heads.
Day 195 at midnight: Grand Wizards' Council, Zardoz presides.* Opens by mentioning the 800-year ban on wizards getting involved in Arandish political or military affairs. Dak and Innominus insist that the whole continent is being undermined by demons and balrogs. They state that they have both seen pits to hell appear in Fortinbras and Farn Junction. They outline a plan in which the Kaladarian White Council wizards will assist in finding and sealing the hellpits.

Session 71 "War Council"
Date: 5/26/2013
PCs: Innominus (Clr 7), Yor (Dwf 7), Dak (Dwf 7), Vivuli (Assassin 5 / Mu 5)
NPCs: Flipwayter (Dwf 3, follows Dak), Rodrick (Thf 5, follows Viv)

In the wee morning hours of Day 196, Viv gets a mission from the Kaladarian Murder-Heads at the Three Fingers Inn. By the end of the night, he succeeds at his mission and is awarded a Murder-Heads medallion from Franco, his contact in the guild.
Dawn of Day 196 -- more heavy snowfall. Once Yor takes residence, the House of Arkus stands as a kind of informal Minochian Consulate in Kaladar.
Around midday on Day 196, Claude the Ranger comes back to Kaladar from a scouting trip and tells Yor that he saw balrog forces amassing near Farn Junction.
That afternoon, a Kaladarian Special Council is held at the headquarters of the Lady Mayor.** Yor speaks on behalf of the Prince of Minoch, telling the council that "the nature of this [balrog] attack requires magic to respond." The Free City of Kaladar, Delzar, Rogaland, and the White Council of Kaladar mutually endorse a Resolution to End the Hellpits.
Dak asks for and gets a special appointment to the Kaladarian Guard, "Field Marshal in Charge of Hellpit Closure," reporting directly to General Izod. Dak takes military command of a special demon-fighting unit, to be trained in Kaladar starting immediately. He requests and is granted New Steel weapons and fire resistance potions for all his personnel.
The evening of Day 196, Yor visits local pubs including the Green Dragon Inn to recruit dwarves for Dak's anti-demon task force.
After consulting over dinner with General Izod, Dak orders Noffellian troops to Fortinbras. Innominus sends out a call for any priests with demon-fighting abilities or experience to converge on Kaladar.
Day 197-198 -- Dak makes preparations, UJ asks Alara at the Bard College about cat creatures that live in the east, and she confirms their existence. Innominus asks around about demon-hunters, finds out the Church of Achelon is a good bet and that there's also a guy names Father Wickley of the Church of Telengard known for such skills.
Day 199 -- tryouts begin for Dak's anti-demon squadron . . . and four green dragons attack!

Session 72 "Balrog Attack!"
Date: 6/9/2013
PCs: Innominus (Clr 7), Yor (Dwf 7), Dak (Dwf 7), Uncle Junkal (rodian bard 6), Vivuli (Assassin 5 / Mu 5)
Plus Hazel (Ftr 4 / Mu 4)
NPCs: Flipwayter (Dwf 3, follows Dak), Claude (Rgr 4, follows Uncle Junkal), Rodrick (Thf 5, follows Viv) plus Hazel's follower Fuzz (Ftr 3)

Midday of Day 199, very light to no snowfall.
The party just survived an extremely rare green dragon attack within Kaladar's city walls. (Green dragons are known to inhabit the woods to the north and east of the Free City and many Kaladarian landmarks are named for the creatures.) Then, all of a sudden, Innominus, Hazel, and Yor hear distant screams and explosions from the west and Hazel sends her kestrel aloft to seek out the disturbance. The kestrel sees balrogs flying round the West Gate of Kaladar, attacking the Royal Guards posted there by dropping fire gems and whipping them.***
Four saurian balrogs swoop over the city and attack Dak, Dak's task force inductees, Uncle Junkal, Viv, and Hazel. The PC team kicks their asses and heads for the West Gate. They converge there with Yor and Innominus. The party helps the Kaladarian Royal Guard fend off a vile balrog assault on the Free City of Kaladar. Collectively, counting the ones vanquished at the recruitment training field, they kill eleven balrogs. One balrog flees.

Session 73 "Investigating the West Gate Attack"
Date: 6/23/2013
PCs: Innominus (Clr 7), Yor (Dwf 7), Dak (Dwf 7), Hazel (Ftr 4 / Mu 4)
NPCs: Bo Jangles (Ftr 5, follows Dak), Flipwayter (Dwf 4, follows Dak), Fuzz (Ftr 3, follows Hazel)

Day 199, just before midday. Heavy snowfall. The West Gate of the Free City of Kaladar. Kaladarian Royal Guard troops line the rooftops and Outer Wall. The PCs loot 7 balrog corpses, recover a total of 6 fire gems. They also find one of Morag's Keys, a bone-like chit etched with an image of a lobster-headed and -clawed woman.
Beastarr the Bobcat sniffs out whence the sole retreating balrog fled, leading the PCs to a place just inside the Free City's fortified Outer Wall. Innominus detects residual magic traces in the air and along the interior of the wall. Beastarr smells a pungent fishy smell.
Dak goes to Lady Mayor Annabelle and warns her he thinks there's a double agent in Kaladar. He tells her that the party will be staying at rooms in the Hotel Kaladarian. He then tells General Izod they'll be at the Green Dragon Inn.
The party catches late night pub dinner at The Seedy Snake, a somewhat vile southside bar. Some party members espy a ghoulish figure who exits the pub via a private exit behind the bar. With his great strength, Yor throws Innominus at the departing ghoul, and the cleric first tackles then turns it.†
The PCs surround the ghoul in the Seedy Snake's kitchen and Hazel uses ESP to discover that it is spying on them on behalf of its master, a sinister, dark-cloaked figure. The PCs take the subdued ghoul to an inn on the next block, The Smelly Skunk, where they get a room and prepare to torture the ghoul spy . . .

Prince Arkus was targeted -- am I also being targeted?

Session 74 "What the Rat Saw"
Date: 7/14/2013
PCs: Innominus (Clr 7), Yor (Dwf 7), Dak (Dwf 7), Vivuli (Assassin 5 / Mu 5)
NPCs: Bo Jangles (Ftr 5, follows Dak), Flipwayter (Dwf 4, follows Dak), Rodrick (Thf 5, follows Viv)

Just before dawn of Day 200. Very light snowfall. A rented room in The Smelly Skunk, a filthy inn in the South Gate District of the Free City of Kaladar. The PCs -- mainly Vivuli and Dak -- are torturing a ghoul to find out who it works for and why it was watching them.
Dak sticks a bunch of fishhooks into the ghoul, then threatens to bring back a high priest to destroy it. The PCs then exit the room, leaving the ghoul tied somewhat half-assedly to a chair.
Once the PCs are outside and across the street, Vivuli sends an invisible rat back into the room at the Smelly Skunk. Vivuli sees what it sees: a Peter Lorre-ish looking guy comes in, liberates the ghoul, covers it with a cloak, and walks it south 4 blocks then east 18 blocks into the Green Dragon District. The scrawny guy and the ghoul sneak into a cellar via a cramped alleyway. The rat follows. It sees the two meet a third figure, a black-cloaked wizard-y looking individual. All three vanish.

Where are the fishhooks I stuck in that thing? 

[casts locate object]
Teleported to a spot under the city, beneath Lookout Hill. 

The PCs go six levels beneath the Free City, into the sewers, and Dak and Yor lift a huge rock cap to access an even deeper level. It is dank and rotten-smelling. Beastarr smells a doggish scent. They are attacked by 7 slime-hounds, who they eventually vanquish.

Rodrick the Thief:
He slimed me!

* Notable arcanists in attendance include Zardoz the White of Kaladar, Zklek of Kaladar, Arel, Dicktoad the Inscrutable, Thorv, Arthurius, Threk, and Savlene.
** Main attendees include Lady Mayor Annabelle of Kaladar, Sir Draco of the Kaladarian Royal Guard, Delzarian General Aron, Achelonian Colonel Zorn, Noffellian Captain Conkle, Claude the Ranger, and Zimroth the Mysterious (a Delzarian Ranger).
*** A favorite weapon of the saurian balrogs, fire gems have been used recently by the party in Session 63 and by balrogs in Session 59.
† Yor is naturally quite strong and he also purchased a girdle of giant strength early in the campaign. What he doesn't know is that that the girdle is powerfully cursed, has already sterilized him, and will inflict even more terrifying calamities upon him if he does not get rid of it soon. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

DM Burnout

I have supposedly been running two simultaneous Labyrinth Lord campaigns for several years now. I say "supposedly" because my "home" game (played over Skype) has really been on hiatus for a year or more at this point -- the last two sessions (numbers 87 and 88) took place in June 2015 (on 6/8 and 6/15) and those came after a break lasting since September 2014. I love that group but I cite two factors that led to me losing steam and enforcing, mainly through inaction, a hiatus:

(1) I must admit that gaming over the internet, for me, is a pale shadow of gaming live, in person, at a table. No matter how good the technology gets there is, for me, a disconnect or a missing piece that rears its head in various ways: less spontaneous fun chatter and humor takes place, some details get missed or talked over or need to be repeated, to somewhat lessened effect. The whole thing feels like a giant, three-dimensional, full-sensory experience being strained through a small, thin, partial, two-dimensional medium. It will do in a pinch but sadly I must report that online RPG'ing has ultimately been a disappointment to me. There are, of course, high points and much fun to be had, but also a lot of tiring pragmatics that drag the experience down for me.

(2) I am experiencing general DM burnout. As evidence of this, just this past weekend I also made official a hiatus for my public Labyrinth Lord game at Lift Bridge Book Shop. The group hadn't met for about a month anyway and "the group" in this case is really down to one guy. Or maybe almost two guys: one player who could show up on time, and another who came for the last hour of each session, unable to come earlier due to his work schedule. Then recently, even guy #1 started missing sessions due to the demands of a new job, so between my feelings of DM burnout and critically low attendance, it was time to give that campaign a rest, at least until summer but maybe indefinitely.

Meanwhile, somebody else I met through the bookstore -- who also happens to be a bookstore employee -- has started running an after-hours 5e game, which I have joined as a player. I am playing Ur, a dwarven barbarian, and having a grand old time fighting undead and the like. I think it is really crucial (at least for me) to take time to see both sides of the referee's screen. Playing in someone else's campaign is really freeing, fun, and rejuvenating. So thanks Christine for running such a great game!

That 5e game has been running a couple of months so far and last weekend we had our first session in which only two players showed up. Prior to that, we were averaging at least three players (in addition to the DM) each time. But never fear, the DM was ready -- she had prepared a short one-off scenario using the old TSR Marvel Super Heroes RPG -- the one that uses the brilliant FASERIP system. (If you love that game as much as I do, check out this site.) I had a great time playing -- who else?  -- Ben Grimm, while my comrade chose Spidey. So fun! It's clobberin' time!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Scrying in LL?

My blogging activities and my "home" Labyrinth Lord Campaign (which plays online over Skype) have both been on hiatus for some time. The last time that particular group played was last September. There are several reasons for the break, chief among them the arrival of two babies -- two of our players have recently become fathers -- and my own mad scramble to get my academic ducks in a row for a major review I'll be subjected to this coming fall (it's not my actual tenure review but it will heavily inform that tenure decision, which lies one additional year in my future). So it has been a busy time full of changes in our non-gaming lives.

Additionally, as I told my group of players via email a few weeks back, I was beginning to experience some DM's fatigue last year. Some of that fatigue may be attributable to a personality quirk of my own: I have this funny thing (in all things I do) where when I reach the "nearly finished" point -- about the 80% complete mark -- and I start to lose interest in a project or undertaking. I have been feeling a bit of that type fatigue with the "home" campaign before the hiatus. As I wrote to the players:
It is not that I "know" our campaign is about 80% done. I do not. There is no way to predict that and I do not have one, set endgame in mind -- I just know who's out there doing what to whom, so I will judge how those personas respond to your party's inevitable meddling . . . 

That said, I tend to think that old-school D&D characters should retire from adventuring around 9th or 10th level -- so around then I would expect your characters to be running things (probably not all of Ara -- the Noffellians would secede if you guys took over -- but surely Rogaland, a temple of Endra, a bard's college. etc.) and then we might think about next steps. I could run another campaign in Ara, or . . . . Satan knows. 
However, what I didn't tell the players (because I didn't realize it yet) is that part of the issue also lies with the medium through which we play: Skype. I do not mean to single Skype out here, what I mean to refer to is the general difference between playing long-distance vs. playing live, in person, at a table in the same room. For me, there is simply no substitute for that latter experience. I know this because as I have reported before, I am having a grand old time running my public game at the local bookshop. There is a certain magic that can occur when folks are in the room together, and I think certain aspects of character interactions and subtle plot nuances are more easily conducted and conveyed live.

All that said, my online group played again last night and had a thrilling, awesome session (the 87th session of our campaign). It was so fun that we are meeting again in a week. The group teleported their way into a crypt buried beneath the Free City of Kaladar in order to do battle with a vampire and to seek an interdimensional gate they strongly suspect lies somewhere in or near that crypt.

In preparing to go after that vampire, the PCs enlisted the services of a wizard who briefly visited the vampire's lair, allowing himself to be transported there via a magical archway that appears to transmit living beings only, depositing them naked at the destination with none of their gear. This wizard, Tim, was instantly attacked and life-drained by the waiting vampire, and then he teleported himself back out of the vampire's lair to rejoin the party. They all retreated back to the above-ground city to scry the location Tim had seen via a crystal ball, so everybody could be teleported back in to do battle with the vampire.

This raised a question for me and my players: how, besides a crystal ball, does one scry in Labyrinth Lord?

None of us could find any direct reference to scrying except in the spell description for teleport (LL p. 40, AEC p. 80). Any thoughts?

P.S. I checked out my DMG this morning and found that EGG says this about scrying and anti-scrying:

Monday, September 22, 2014

Arandish Campaign Sessions 60-69 Log

It has been quite awhile since I reported in detail about the adventures of the ongoing "home" Lands of Ara Campaign I conduct over Skype. This group has been playing together since January 2010 and includes players in Oregon, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New York, and (occasionally) Wisconsin. Just over a year ago, I inexplicably stopped recounting their exploits via regular session reports. Now I'm getting started again.

Borrowing from Cyclopeatron, I am adopting a briefer "Session Log" format to document sessions 60-69, bridging the gap between the last session report I posted and a forthcoming series of posts about the most recent developments in the campaign.

Primary PCs:
Innominus – human cleric
Dak – dwarf
Yor – dwarf
Uncle Junkal – rodian bard
Vivuli – human Assassin/MU

Occasional PC:
Hazel - human fighter/MU

Session 60
Date: 9/23/2012
PCs: Innominus (Clr. 7), Dak (Dwf. 6), Yor (Dwf. 6), Uncle Junkal (Rodian Bard 5)
NPCs: Nic Cage (Ftr. 4, follows Yor), Claude (Ranger 4, follows Uncle Junkal), and Flipwayter (Dwf 2, follows Dak)

Starts evening of Day 192 at the West Gate of the Free City of Kaladar.
Innominus takes the charred remains of Brother Lawrence to the Temple of Carcoon, learns from the Carcoonian Priests that the Western Lands were invaded by demons roughly seven days ago.
Day 193: Meet with Kaladar's Lady Mayor Annabelle and Sir Draco, the Captain of the Kaladarian Royal Guard.
Uncle Junkal charms the Lady Mayor and encourages her to think fondly of Yor, Baron of Rogaland.
The party decides to ask around Kaladar about Morag the Arch-Summoner.

Session 61
Date: 10/14/2012
PCs: Dak, Yor, Uncle Junkal
NPCs: Claude, Nic Cage, Flipwayter

Start mid-afternoon of Day 193 in Kaladar -- light snowfall.
Party stays at Orc's Balls Inn, East District -- Uncle Junkal receives anonymous note sealed with wax, consisting of four pictographic symbols: a mer-lion, a saurian balrog, a wedge-shaped symbol, and a date one or two days hence.
Party visits Kaladarian White Council Magic-User's Guildhall -- meets Zardoz the White, gives him Dak's summoning circle rubbing. Zardoz says he will hand this stuff over to Z'klek, a summoning and demonology specialist.
Party decides to visit Stonehell that night since an unusual energy signature there matches wedge image on Uncle Junkal's cryptic note; the magic-users guild will teleport the party there with Threk and Savlene, a couple wizards, to assist.
That afternoon Uncle Junkal visits the Kaladarian Central Bard's College and asks about northern grave-desecration incidents; hears the name "Needbo."
Yor buys a cloak of protection +2 for 18,000gp.

Session 62
Date: 10/28/2012
PCs: Innominus, Dak, Yor, Vivuli
NPCs: Nic Cage [dies], Flipwayter, Rodrick (Thf. 4, follows Viv), Threk, Saulene, Bo & Brian Jangles (both Ftr. 5, mercs in Lady Mayor Annabelle's employ), 4 [soon 3] Rogalandish archers

Start early evening of Day 193 in Kaladar -- moderate-to-light snowfall
White Council wizards teleport party to Stonehell -- Nic Cage and one of the original four Rogalandish archers never arrive, buried in stone. Two Kaladarian wizards, Threk (MU 6, male human, Zardoz's apprentice) and Savlene (MU 5, female half-elf, studied with Sodomozius the Great) are sent along.
Stonehell is very hot, entry chamber at base of spiral stairs features huge burn pile of corpses with four saurian balrogs tending the pile.
Party uses fire resistance scrolls to withstand heat and defeat balrogs in battle.
Items recovered: a golden necklace of dwarven make worth 80gp.

Session 63
Date: 11/11/2012
PCs: Innominus, Dak, Yor, Vivuli, Uncle Junkal
NPCs: Claude, Flipwayter, Rodrick, Threk, Saulene, Bo & Brian Jangles, 3 Rogalandish archers

Starts late evening of Day 193. in Level 1 entry chamber of Stonehell.
Press on into Stonehell -- fight Dark Balrogs. Viv and Bo each take a black balrog sword.
Go down well shaft. Encounter metallic bobcats, Beastarr tracks them to double doors. Viv x-rays thru doors and sees ten metallic bobcats with leader in pillared room. Dak opens doors and Beastarr and Innominus enter, Beastarr attempts diplomacy, bobcats attack, Inn. and Beastarr retreat, Viv and Dak huck fire gems inside. Huge explosion which disintegrates double-doors.

What if the metal bobcats were our allies? We've now made them our enemies.

Hey, it was a misunderstanding -- and we killed all the witnesses!

Session 64
Date: 12/16/2012
PCs: Innominus, Dak, Yor, Vivuli, Uncle Junkal
NPCs: Claude, Flipwayter, Rodrick, Threk, Saulene, Bo & Brian Jangles, 3 Rogalandish archers

Starts around midnight on Day 193, in pillared chamber on Level 2 of Stonehell.
Pillars have mushroom-like runes at the top which UJ identifies as the sign of the Aldorian (Elven) House of Pyske.
Party descends to Level 3 and finds shape of a bobcat head burned into a wall. Beastarr picks up unique scent (implanted directly into his mind, along with a name: Keak the Fierce) and leads party into prison cell block.
Party breaks into cell, meets sulfurous demon bobcat (with scars on both sides of neck) chained to the wall. UJ charms it then Viv speaks to it in the Dark Tongue* and learns that the huge sulfurous thing claims to be imprisoned by "the Ukuku." When questioned about the metal cats, it calls them the Ukuku and claims they are "trying to take the vessel from us." When asked about Keak the Fierce, it calls him a "traitor," saying that "he'll sell us out to the otherworlders."

Session 65
Date: 01/27/2013
PCs: Innominus, Dak, Yor, Vivuli, Uncle Junkal
NPCs: Claude, Flipwayter, Rodrick, Threk, Saulene, Bo & Brian Jangles, 3 Rogalandish archers

Starts after midnight on Day 193 (so technically the wee hours of morning on Day 194), in hallway outside holding cells on Level 3 of Stonehell.
Party dungeoneers through several rooms, descends one level, encounters and vanquishes four magma bobcats. One magma bobcat explodes after being killed. Viv finds a silver cock ring (worth 200gp) in remaining ash pile.
Party dungeoneers further, encounters three Bobcat Balrogs, UJ crits and kills a gated-in glebrazu in one blow.
Items recovered: a silver cock ring (worth 200gp) and a hobbit- or rodian-sized buckler +1.

Session 66
Date: 02/10/2013
PCs: Innominus, Dak, Yor, Vivuli
NPCs: Flipwayter, Rodrick, Threk, Saulene, Bo & Brian Jangles, 3 Rogalandish archers

Starts in the wee hours just before dawn on Day 194 in a chamber on Level 4 of Stonehell.
Stalactite cave. Dak curls up and Yor "bowls" him toward advancing phalanx of Piercers.
Cave Bear den, Vivuli x-rays and finds titanium broach.
Four-way intersection where Beastarr smells all three types of bobcat demon (magma, balrog, and metallic).
Chamber with the blue gate. Viv x-rays the gate, sees jack shit void. Viv then everyone goes through.
In metal-walled area. Walk under titanium arch -- Viv's titanium medallion tingles. Innominus casts detect magic and discovers that both the arch and the medallion radiate arcane energy.

Session 67
Date: 03/10/2013
PCs: Innominus, Dak, Yor, Vivuli, Uncle Junkal
NPCs: Flipwayter, Rodrick, Claude, Threk, Saulene, Bo & Brian Jangles, 3 Rogalandish archers

Starts just before dawn on Day 194 in a metal-enclosed chamber on Level 4 of Stonehell.
Beastarr smells FAINT metallic bobcat, STRONG balrog bobcat, and a wholly new smell.
Viv discovers his x-ray does not penetrate the metallic material of which this structure is made.
Dungeoneer a ways, find some clues hinting at bobcat type culture in far Eastern Mountains of Ara.
Find large metal chamber with four thrones facing blue-glowing mural. Four tall, robed, catlike humanoids -- lion, tiger, panther, bobcat -- standing around big, bright column of light in center of room. Beastarr correlates these figures to new smell. None is Keak.
Viv bungles assassination of the panther-thing, Dak chucks fire gem, kills all four, melts their amulets, damages a couple of the big thrones. Column of light winks out.
Yor levels to Dwf. 7 at end of this session.

We're here for Keak -- we're gonna get him one way or the other.

Session 68
Date: 04/07/2013
PCs: Innominus, Yor, Vivuli, Uncle Junkal
NPCs: Claude, Rodrick, Threk, Saulene, Bo & Brian Jangles, 3 Rogalandish archers

Starts at dawn on Day 194 in a metal-enclosed chamber with bright blue mural and thrones, etc. on Level 4 of Stonehell.
Search big chamber, find ideographs on throne armrests, Uncle Junkal and Viv note them down. Turns out ideographs are on buttons, UJ pushes some of them, various things happen.
Pure white disc 6' diameter set into center of floor.
Wheeled thing attacks, shooting electricity.
6 Bobcat ninjas attack! UJ charms one, party negotiates.
Ninjas lead the party to private chamber nearby to meet the liaison to the hukuku, a big cat-humanoid like the robed ones in the previous chamber.
The liaison confirms that the balrog bobcats are his enemies. "Keak is imprisoned for negotiating with them." Also reveals that the metal section they're all standing in is a vessel for traveling between worlds, stuck here after a crash.
Party speaks with Keak, who confirms that the balrogs caused the interference that crashed their ship. Party successfully negotiates his release.

There's no shortage of things that need saving!

Session 69
Date: 04/28/2013
PCs: Innominus, Dak, Yor, Vivuli, Uncle Junkal
NPCs: Flipwayter, Rodrick, Claude, Threk, Saulene, Bo & Brian Jangles, 3 Rogalandish archers

Starts midday on Day 194 outside Keak's cell in a metal-enclosed section of Level 4 of Stonehell.
Party and Keak leave ship area to venture back up through Stonehell to surface.
Keak wants to reach another rumored, much older ship crash site in Eastern Mountains. Innominus suggests to the party that it makes the most sense to take Keak back to the Free City of Kaladar.
Threk and Saulene teleport the party plus Keak back to White Council Guildhall in Kaladar.

The session continues with an interesting briefing with Zardoz, High Councilman of the Kaladarian White Council -- in an upcoming post!

Sorry I've been so slow with these reports, but I'm working on one of these.

* The Arandish chaotic alignment language, discussed here.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Lift Bridge Game Updates

While most of the players have turned over since this picture was taken in Nov. 2012, this accurately depicts the space in which we play Labyrinth Lord at Lift Bridge Books in Brockport, NY.  

Much as I reported last March, I have been away from blogging (and may remain so) for awhile but am very busy gaming! Today I want to post a couple updates about my open-to-the-public Labyrinth Lord game that meets twice a month at Lift Bridge Book Shop.

Repurposing Classic Modules
The Lift Bridge-based group has been adventuring in central and eastern Ara, having found a dwarven artifact weapon called Whelm in the treasure horde of a green dragon they slew a few days east of Kaladar. A few sessions ago, that magical dwarven warhammer communicated to one of the party members -- an elven thief named Rux Joopy -- and offered him a chance to become dwarven champion and hero. Rux accepted, and instantly transmogrified into a dwarf. The party then marched north to Gannar and received the blessing of King Robert V, who charged them to seek out another missing dwarven artifact, the sword Skeenkarbulo, rumored to be held by the vile fire giant king Snurre in the heart of the mountains.

As those in the know will have deciphered by now, I have been having a grand old time using some classic TSR adventure modules as the basis for this group's recent exploits. I am not slavishly following all the directives in these modules -- turning the resting place of Whelm into a dragon's horde rather than (primarily) the haunt of a crazy wizard, for example -- but rather modifying them to fit our own ongoing pursuits. Fun!

They've been fighting a lot of these . . . 

. . . and today they fought one of these . . . 

. . . and saw a couple of these things mating!

Starting New PCs
When PCs die, or when new players join the group, I have been starting off the new characters that replace them at a higher level than 1st, since the bulk of the party is now up at 5th and 6th level on average (Voltage the Druid, the longest-lived and most powerful character in the party, hit 7th level at the end of last session). The rough guideline I used is:

Average Party Level                Starting XP
         4th - 5th                                    4,400
         5th - 6th                                   10,001

Not much else to report, just that we're having lots of fun.

UPDATE 9/22/14: Glancing over an old set of House Rules from my "home" campaign, I was reminded today that the Lift Bridge Campaign adopted a new ongoing ruling yesterday: During chargen, attribute scores are generated by rolling 4d6, discarding the lowest die roll, and assigning the result to each attribute in order: STR, DEX, CON, INT, WIS, and CHA. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

An OSR Victory

I have been busy running my two Labyrinth Lord campaigns: my so-called "home" campaign that meets about once a month over Skype, and my public game at Lift Bridge Book Shop that meets on the first and third Sunday of every month.

I will return to the "home" game in a moment but first a few words about the Lift Bridge game. As I have mentioned before, it is mainly attended by a group of younger gamers -- a couple twentysomethings, and one gentleman closer to my own age,* but mostly lads 14 and under (about 4-5 regulars in that age category). I have been getting increasingly drawn in by that group and am really enjoying how the looseness of OSR gaming synergizes with their wild imaginations. They are also, on the whole, getting smarter as players -- more dungeoneering, planning, and coordination of effort is taking place relative to when we began this group back in June 2012. It also probably can't hurt that we are generally in the "sweet spot" for LL game play, when most of the PCs are between levels three and six.

However, on top of all this, one of the biggest triumphs of my entire gaming career took place at the end of today's session, when one of the younger-generation gamers, Jake, told me that he is running his own game on the side -- using Labyrinth Lord!!  I asked him why he chose that system, and he said that as a DM, it was far easier to run LL than D&D IV. I concurred with his opinion, and told him I was pleased that he and his friends were enjoying LL even when they weren't playing it with me. I went home beaming inwardly that I seem to have succeeded in my stated goal in starting this public game, to wit:
my main mission in reaching out to [members of younger generations] is to introduce them to the Old Ways, i.e., Labyrinth Lord.
Mission accomplished!

As for my home game, that campaign is reaching near-domain level play, as all the PCs have reached level seven or thereabouts at this point. They are commanding some units of specialized mercenary demon-hunters and defending the Free City of Kaladar from a possible alliance between balrogs and a vampire clan called Needbo. I am having fun with that group as they approach the campaign endgame, and yet I am not sure how much longer that particular arc will continue. We will likely still be playing through the summer, and maybe even until the end of the year, but once the PCs reach level nine or so, I think it likely that I will want to retire this party and have those players roll up a new adventuring group and start over. We will see what develops.

UPDATE 3/17/2014: I realized after writing the above paragraph about retiring the "home" campaign PCs after Level 9 that I may be somewhat contradicting myself from here, where I said that I "expect my PCs to claim land and erect strongholds starting at Level 9" and that I am "open to seeing this campaign continue through to PC levels in and beyond the 'teens.'" Why have I changed my mind since December 2010? Two reasons: (1) I am so damn busy now that learning or devising new "domain game" rules at this stage would be an impossibility, and (2) the Lift Bridge campaign is emphatically reminding me how much I enjoy that "sweet spot" when the PCs are level 3-6 or so. Therefore the idea of retiring Dak, Yor, Innominus & co. and starting that group over from scratch actually has immense appeal for me; name-level PCs are really powerful and demand really intense foes and situations. I can sustain this for awhile longer but maybe not into the double-digit PC levels.  

* The recently un-hiatused Jack Phoenix!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sessions 57 - 59: Adventures Around Marshton and Slag Mountain

Session 57
Date: 5/6/2012
PCs: Innominus (Clr. 7), Dak (Dwf. 6), Yor (Dwf. 6), Uncle Junkal (Rodian Bard 5), Vivuli (Assassin 5 / MU 5)
NPC followers: Nic Cage* (Ftr. 3, follows Yor), Claude (Ranger 3, follows Uncle Junkal), Flipwaiter (Dwf. 2, follows Dak) and Rodrick (Thf. 4, follows Viv).
NPC hirelings: Dunsdonger (Ftr. 2) and Abbideck (Dwf. 2) were also along as hired mercs, four archers of Rogaland protected their Baron, and Brother Lawrence of the Brothers of Carcoon (Clr. 3) accompanied the group as an observer, though the latter was beginning, over time, to warm to Innominus' teachings about the Temple of Endra.

Early on Day 182 of the party's Arandish adventures, having just survived a snowstorm, the group awakened to light snowfall on the north bank of the Blintsflow River, fifteen miles southeast of the town of Marshton in Blint [hex 1517].

Marshton is in hex 1517; the city erroneously labeled "Marshton" in hex 1316 of the above map is in fact Blintsport.

The party took two hours to hide their boat, which was rendered useless by the overnight freezing of the Blintsflow, and then they hiked overland toward Marshton. On the way there, they were first assaulted by a swarm of dreaded eyepeckers,** which they fended off with flaming oil flasks and Viv's wand of lightning bolts, then were attacked less than an hour later by a bulette! While the open plains of central Blint are known as feeding grounds for these dreadful beings, this particular bulette was unusual: as Yor delivered the killing blow to the creature at the conclusion of a pitched battle, an old hag's voice sounded inside his head, saying "A curse upon you and your land!" Then the bulette flatulated mightily (right in Yor's face) and died. 

As Yor recovered from the stinky emission and pondered the unusual curse, Vivuli immediately set about x-raying and vivisecting the bulette's corpse. Inside its stomach the enterprising assassin found the partially digested corpses of six rodians, sailors by the look of them. Looting the half-digested rodian corpses, Vivuli recovered:

- a goodly amount of coinage and loose gems
- a couple of potions, of human control and giant strength 
- a decanter of endless water
- an embroidered kerchief identifying the group as members of Captain Blackskull's crew

Vivuli determined that all this stuff had been in the bulette's digestive tract since roughly the day before.

The group then pressed on to Marshton, reaching the small town in the late afternoon of Day 182 of their adventures. They checked into the One-Eyed Snake Inn and queried the innkeeper about where a group of dragon hunters could go to find extra hands in the town. After Dak and Viv both spent generously in the establishment, the innkeep suggested that they could find able-bodied warriors at the militia house on the north side of town, and also told the group that Ookla, the local wise woman, could help them with information about the precise location of Boris' lair on Slag Mountain.

 Ookla, Marshton's wise woman, advises a client.

The party paid a visit to Ookla the Wise, who lived above a small apothecary shop on Marshton's east side. They showed her the head of the dragon Zelda, and she was most impressed. She gave them directions to the lair of Zelda's mate, Boris, on nearby Slag Mountain. She also recommended a local mountaineer and guide named Jerry, who had been up on Slag Mountain before. Ookla was unable to shed light upon the significance of the bulette's curse, though.

After lurking around Marshton for several more days, the party set off to the east, toward Slag Mountain, on the morning of Day 188 of their adventures. Their guide, Jerry, took them first to the country dwelling of Oswald the goat rancher, who lived on a farm between Marshton and the mountain. The party stabled their horses at Oswald's place then ascended Slag Mountain in the late afternoon.

Up on the steam-vent-riddled mountain face, he group did battle with two giant snakes, vanquished them, then proceeded further upward. It got hotter. Claude the Ranger detected some snake tracks plus the tracks of some bipedal, ogre-sized magma creatures.

Session 58
Date: 6/3/2012
PCs: Innominus (Clr. 7), Dak (Dwf. 6), Yor (Dwf. 6), Uncle Junkal (Rodian Bard 5), Vivuli (Assassin 5 / MU 5)
NPCs: Nic Cage (Ftr. 2, follows Yor), Claude (Ranger 4, follows Uncle Junkal), and Rodrick (Thf. 4, follows Viv), Brother Lawrence of the Brothers of Carcoon (Clr. 3, follows Innominus), Flipwayter (Dwf 2, follows Dak), and Abbideck (Dwf 1) and Dunsdonger (Ftr 2), hirelings.

"I'm always for retreating if you guys are." -- Uncle Junkal

It is near dusk on Day 188 of the party's Arandish adventures. Light winter snowfall finds our intrepid adventurers high on the southeast face of Slag Mountain, which lies on the Blint / Minoch border.

No sooner did Claude find some suspicious magma footprints on the steep switchbacks than the group was viciously attacked by two huge magma elementals. The party eventually dispatched these formidable beings, and Vivuli wrote his name in piss on one of their melted-magma corpses.

In the wake of the battle, Uncle Junkal received a telepathic message in his mind: "GET OFF MY MOUNTAIN OR I'LL FRY YOU ALL AND EAT YOUR INNARDS."

Taking this threat seriously, presuming it to be from the legendary Boris the Red Dragon, the party opted to immediately descend the mountain in the falling twilight, under moderate snowfall. They reached Oswald's homestead after midnight, and bedded down there.

A foot of new show fell overnight, and the party set off toward the west on Day 189 of their adventures. They decided to head northeastward to the Free City of Kaladar, approximately a week's travel overland.

All day of Day 189, the group was pursued and repeatedly attacked by a pack of werewolves of DOOM.

Which they killed.

"I'm here to kill for my god!" -- Innominus

Session 59
Date: 7/1/2012
PCs: Innominus (Clr. 7), Dak (Dwf. 6), Yor (Dwf. 6), Uncle Junkal (Rodian Bard 5), Vivuli (Assassin 5 / MU 5)
NPCs: Nic Cage (Ftr. 2, follows Yor), Claude (Ranger 4, follows Uncle Junkal), and Rodrick (Thf. 4, follows Viv), Brother Lawrence of the Brothers of Carcoon (Clr. 3, follows Innominus), Flipwayter (Dwf 2, follows Dak), and Abbideck (Dwf 1) and Dunsdonger (Ftr 2), hirelings.

The party spends the next three days trekking overland through snow to Kaladar. The first day, they are attacked by horned cyclops, but eventually kill these enemies, tracking them to their lair, killing their extended families, and looting the lair.

The party's second and third days' travel were marked by the presence of saurian balrogs in the air overhead. The demons seemed to be flying regular patrol patterns. Early in the morning of Day 192 of their Arandish adventures, the party was attacked by a group of flying balrogs dropping fire gems! During this deadly bombardment, Brother Lawrence plus two good horses were completely incinerated.

Eventually defeating these foes, the party set off for the Free City once again, reaching the West Gate of Kaladar on the evening of Day 192 of their adventures.

* Nic Cage leveled up at the end of last session.
** Eyepeckers are an indigenous Arandish creature which you can find on p. 23 of The Lands of Ara Compendium 2011.