Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Arandish Campaign 2010 - Session 15

This session, which took place the Tuesday evening just prior to my leaving town (Eugene, OR) the following Saturday to move to Brockport, New York, was quite action packed!  So too my life has been: as I write this I am sitting in my new place in Brockport, waiting to start teaching classes next week and also preparing to DM my first-ever session over Skype with my Labyrinth Lord group back on the West Coast tonight.

I am confident this rpg'ing-by-Skype will work great, because we already tried it at the session I am about to describe: Hazel's player had also recently moved out of town, but she joined us via Skype and it worked fine!  We could all hear her and see her via a laptop placed strategically in the middle of the room where we game.  Bad ass!

Anyway, at the session in question, the group started in a chamber with a charred dirt mound, sifting through the area for treasure and incidental loot.  What they found instead were a couple of hogtied dwarves, Yor and Dak, two fellow dungeon delvers who were taken unawares by the lizardfolk in a nearby passage a day earlier.  After accepting these two dwarven PCs into the party, the adventurers continued northward into Lizardfolk territory, hacking (the battle-axe wielding dwarves) and slashing (Hazel) and bludgeoning (Innominus) and throwing knives (Uncle Junkal) and ripping with claws (Uncle Junkal's charmed rock troll) as they went.  They entered a large, fortified cavern guarded by armed lizardfolk, who seemed to be especially intent on defending an exit leading east.  The specific details of the PCs' session-long epic battle as wave after wave of Lizardfolk came at them would be far too long and time-consuming to recount fully here.  Suffice to say the party killed twelve lizardfolk and only suffered one casualty, the NPC swordsman Locklear.

After the major bloodbath, the party began exploring the eastern cavern, and discovered a secret door opening upon a narrow eastbound tunnel.  The bulk of the party headed down this tunnel while Uncle Junkal and his rock troll guarded their exit back to the west.  As the party found an underground river at the end of the tunnel, Uncle Junkal was visited by a mummy, who whispered "Return" and attacked the poor Bard after paralyzing the rock troll with its fearsome presence!  Uncle Junkal may have shared his attendant creature's fate had he not rolled his save vs. paralysis with his nightly d30 roll and succeeded!

Fortunately for Uncle Junkal, before the mummy could successfully strike him in battle, Innominus returned from below and turned the mummy!  the mummy fled into the western chamber and vanished mysteriously.

Convinced the mummy's crypt must be nearby, Dak insisted that the party help him sift through the lizardfolk's fortifications, which were formed from piles of stony rubble.  Sure enough, careful search and digging revealed a buried crypt right under their feet!  They pried it open and found a huge stone sarcophagus filled with treasure, including gold, jewelry, multiple potions and scrolls, and a magical sword: a +1 Flame Tongue.

That is where we left off.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cyborg Gaming and Witch Attack!

These are exciting times for my Labyrinth Lord group.  We are about to play our first session with a player not physically present: Hazel's player will be joining us via Skype (from out of state) for tomorrow evening's session.  Soon we will use the same technology to connect me to the group as well, for at the end of this week I move from Eugene, Oregon to Brockport, New York. I will become a virtual DM!  Shades of Brian O'Blivion!

In addition to these cyborgian developments, we are also looking at some rich story development in the next few sessions, as a couple of the PCs' haunted pasts and past deeds are going to start to catch up with them.  Heh, heh, heh. . . .

Another thing I am excited about is a SECRET PROJECT that my friend Carl is working on at present.  I am not at liberty to say much specifically about it, but Carl has let me read a Beta version of the supplement-in-progress, and WOW, it sure is going to be useful to me as a DM.  What I can tell you is that the supplement he is writing -- intended to be compatible with Mutant Future and Labyrinth Lord -- functions (among other things) as a kind of fast NPC generator, a shorthand way of quickly adding a new NPC or even a whole new class of NPC to a game, because it is a system based around Mutant Future-like special abilities (what MF calls "mutations" and what I believe Carl is calling "quirks") without regard for traditional LL classes.

For example, one of the "quirks" Carl has created centers upon the ability to throw curses and hexes at people, and of course this instantly suggests a Witch type character.  I FUCKING LOVE witches, and have never felt truly satisfied with their quasi-treatment as "witch doctors" in the DMG (as a kind of sub-par cleric, p. 40) nor in their iteration as a full-blown NPC class in various issues of Dragon Magazine (#5, #20, #43, and #114).  This is no fault of those articles, but rather a function of my own laziness: I am not big on rules-intensive preparation (nor rules-intensive gaming for that matter) so I rarely generate complete stats for any but the most central NPC's in my campaigns.  Therefore I welcome a system that allows me to plunk a witch into the game without having to stat up a full-blown NPC.  Rock and roll Carl, and look out all you Labyrinth Lordlings in my campaign!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Arandish Calendars and Chronology

One of my players -- the ever-inquisitive player of Innominus the Cleric -- recently emailed me to ask about religious days and calendars in Ara.  An abridged version reads:

I've been thinking about more cleric stuff, and in particular I've been pondering TIME in Ara. One of the most important roles at least for Catholic priests that went on expeditions or campaigns (e.g., crusades in medieval times, and colonial endeavors in the renaissance and later ... and in fact are still engaged in) is recording what the hell the soldiers/explorers did each and what the hell day it was. Most of this, as I understand it at least from Spanish accounts in the new world, would involve knowing what holy day it was and doing the right masses to honor the day's saint or feast, and in fact many of the Spanish place names in New Spain reflect the day that they were encountered by the Spanish, like Easter Island, Santa Cruz, San Jose, San Bernardino, San Francisco, etc. Anyway, they kept track of time, and they were in charge of preserving the souls of these men who were out there trying to capture souls for the glory of God ... and rape and pillage and commit all sorts of atrocities. Basically, outside of probably the officer types, they were the only ones that could read and write. Also, aside from total assholes like this, many other cultures have "day-keeper" types, and this seems like a common clerical duty.

Anyway, I'm not in a position to invent hundreds of saints and feasts for Innominus's order, but this made me think: What day is it in Ara? There was an Old Calendar and now we're on a New Calendar. When did that change in Old Calendar years, and what year is it now?

In one of the stories about Awra we see a log tracked in at least two seasons, summer, followed by the season of storms, and it looks like there are 3 28-day months per season. What are the rest of the seasons? Also, is there a solar component, like an extra day to reconcile the lunar calendar (i.e., 13 * 28 = 364)? And leap days or any of that crap?

I think we established that the campaign started sometime in autumn as well.


Truthfully, I had never thought about what the other seasons besides summer and the season of storms would be called. Winter? Planting season?  I had also never considered an extra day to reconcile the lunar calendar, nor any leap days. Maybe the elves or the wizard councils have a way of magically keeping the calendar on track? And/or maybe one of those needed extra days would be a major Arandish holiday?

But fortunately, I CAN answer the first part of my player's email, because I DO know about the Old Calendar and the New Calendar.  To this end I have posted a pdf of the Historical Chronology of Ara. A few highlights:

3002-3100: The Old War between Telengard and Achelon.

The Old Calendar ends in Old Calendar year 3101.  The New Calendar begins that same year.

New Calendar 682-719: The legendary Sword-Cleric Silverblade of Noffel finds Gathar and completes many heroic quests.

The current (campaign start) year is New Calendar year 1284.

Of course, I have encouraged Innominus' player to invent away, to start incorporating HIS ideas about Arandish festivals and Innominus' sect's Holy Days into our ongoing Labyrinth Lord campaign.  I look forward with relish to what he might bring in; his email concludes:

You know, after a week and half in Stonehell maybe there's Innominus's version of Christmas and a whole session will be spent finding last minute gifts for the rest of the party ... at great peril to friend and foe alike! It could happen.