Saturday, January 28, 2012


Apologies for the recent lapse in posting.  This past week was the first week of a new teaching semester for me, and with two brand-new course preps, I have been positively swamped!

In quasi-related news, Spawn of Endra is away on the West Coast, preparing to defend his doctoral dissertation early next week.  As you might imagine, he has been immersed in preparations for some weeks now.

So things are busy, and in such a way as to keep us both tied up away from the blog.

But never fear, dear readers, we shall return!  I may even get another session report or two banged out this weekend -- maybe -- and I know that Spawn and I plan to hit the ground running on the Lands of Ara Compendium 2011 as soon as he successfully defends and returns to the East Coast.  The Compendium, collecting gaming content from this blog from its inception in 2009 to the end of 2011, will be released as an  exciting, art-filled, free pdf sometime in February.

Thanks for your patience in the interim.

Roscoe and Charlie command your obeisance.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Session 48: Let's Buy A Mine!

This session took place Thursday 12/8/11 and starred PCs Innominus (Clr-6), Yor (Dwf-6), Uncle Junkal (Rodian Bard-5), and Hazel (Ftr-4 / MU-4).* NPC Gorgo (Dwf-4, Innominus' follower) was also onboard this time.

The group began the session by assessing their long-term options and raising once again the subject of purchasing the Frigglestone Brothers' Mine outside Farn Junction. Innominus noted that moving operations to the Frigglestone Mine would put the party closer to Prince Arkus, who was currently attempting to cure the Dark Plague infesting Farn Junction, Minoch's largest city. And Yor astutely noted that the price of the mine might be extremely negotiable given the occurrence of the Farn Junction Plague.

So on the morning of Day 166 of their Arandish adventures, the party departed Arkus' Country Manor (leaving Grand Vizier Krock in charge) and headed into Fortinbras. It snowed lightly, as it would do steadily for the next three days. After making a few minor purchases in town,** the PCs set off along the northbound road toward Farn Junction, three days' journey. The trip was uneventful, and the party veered off west cross-country three miles short of the city walls. [Their route took them from Fortinbras, in hex 2116, northwest through hexes 2015 to 1916 to 1815.]

Some road chatter:

YOR: We could be walking into death.

INNOMINUS: We're always walking into death! So what?

YOR: Exactly.

They marched another half day uphill into the mountains, due west, reaching the Frigglestone Brothers Mine on the afternoon of Day 169 of their Arandish adventures.

The place was a bit run-down generally, there were signs of scuffle (even dried blood) around the front gates, and no one was in sight around the main gate nor around the two-story log-cabin style main office. Yor called out:


To which there were two responses:

(1) Uphill and to the north, several hundred yards away, in what appeared to be a mine entrance a dwarfish-looking figure emerged out of the dark entrance and waved down at the party, and

(2) The main office door opened and a friendly, burly, middle-aged dwarf came out and greeted the party, introducing himself as Frake Frigglestone.

The party introduced themselves to Frake, and Yor identified himself as the dwarf interested in buying the mine. Frake reiterated that the mine had been closed down for several weeks, and that he and his remaining staff had been unsuccessful in solving the mystery of the three missing miners. Yor asked Frake some questions:

YOR: What would happen to you if this mine were to fail completely?

FRAKE: I would go to work for the Rockstone Mining Company, a day's travel further west -- I've had offers to work for them before.

YOR: Well, my friends and I could help you by taking this failing investment off your hands . . .

FRAKE:  Hmm. . . .

INNOMINUS: Frake, what actually caused those disappearances?  Was any strange, arcane, or out-of-the-ordinary stuff found near where the miners disappeared?

FRAKE: Now that you mention it . . . [yelling through office door] Warren!

WARREN: [a deep, grizzled voice from inside the office] Yes?

FRAKE: Who was the supervisor in the North Tunnel Operation the week of the disappearances?

WARREN: That would be Taggart. I heard he moved back in with some relations of his in Farn Junction after the mine closed.

This exchange concluded with Frake promising to track down the supervisor who had been around the day of the disappearances, and then suggesting that the party descend into the mine forthwith to meet up with Darvey, who was onsite at Yor's behest.

The PCs ascended the steep, rocky slope to the mine entrance, where they were greeted by a crusty, grey-bearded old dwarf named Hakler. Hakler, after complaining about how the Mining company would no longer let him go down into the mines with the work crews, led the party back to a mule-powered elevator and urged them onto it. They climbed aboard, Hakler whipped the mules, pulleys creaked, and the elevator descended.

They went down just over 200' to the bottom-most level of the mine. There they were greeted by Darvey and three other miners named Ron, Tolak, and Zarb.  Innominus asked if Darvey smelled right (i.e., dwarven, alive, etc.) to Beastarr the Bobcat -- he did.

Darvey and Co. led the party back hundreds of feet northwest down the tunnel, then due north down a 600' passage into what the miners called the "Satellite Chamber," now just a disused storeroom.  The missing miners had vanished near here.

The various party members searched the Satellite Chamber, in time finding a small etching of three pips like this:

Calling upon Endra to help him detect magic and evil, Innominus learned that the triple etching was not magic in any way, but did radiate evil.  Uncle Junkal was able to call upon his folkloric knowledge to identify the triple pips as the symbol of The Ghost Tribunal, a trio of malign spirits believed to roam the mountains of central Minoch.***  Local superstition had it that the Ghost Tribunal were, in life, powerful adventurers who died horribly at an evil wizard's tower, and now haunt the mountains, feeding on mortal people's souls.

Inspecting the north-south tunnel connecting the Satellite Chamber to the main area of the Frigglestone Mine, Innominus found, at a spot about 200' north of the main tunnel, traces of residual magical energy encircling the whole passage.  This was the very spot where some of the missing miners' clothing was found.  Innominus and Dak speculated that something had gated into the mine tunnel at this point, abducted the dwarven miners, and re-gated away.

Satisfied with these preliminary investigations, the party, plus Darvey and co., ascended the mule-elevator and exited the mine.  Yor went immediately to Frake and offered him 3,000 gp for the Frigglestone Mine.  With some help from the ever-persuasive Uncle Junkal, Yor was able to get him to accept the offer.  The party thereby obtained the rights to the Frigglestone Silver Mine.

At about this point, Hazel's player arrived, and, spurred by Hazel's thirst for action, the group became eager for some blood and violence.  So they headed north into the treacherous, snowy, monster-infested mountains of Minoch hoping some dangerous creature would attack them.

Within a couple of hours, they had their fight: four large, six-legged, reptilian creatures with long, barbed tails and tiger-like faces stalked out of the woods and swiftly attacked the party.  Innominus cast prayer, the group all leaped into the fray, and shortly all the phase tigers lay butchered in the snow.

And that is where the session ended.
* Due to real-world obligations, Hazel's player joined us somewhat late in the session.
** Gorgo bought +1 Plate Mail from local Enchanters, and Uncle Junkal upgraded to +2 studded leather armor.
*** Semantics Note: Innominus' player mentioned during play that it seemed strange that the Ghost Tribunal was called a "tribunal" and not a "triumvirate" or the like.  I assured him that the name is deliberate.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Session B-1: A Bargain Is Struck

[Note: Following the campaign name first-letter designations mentioned here, I have numbered this session "B-1" to identify it as the first session of the Brockport Campaign.]

Session B-1 took place on 12/4/2011 and included five central participants, playing PCs Jarl Scuttlebeard (Dwarf-1), Thorgald Thorgaldsson (Cleric-1), Korvash (Fighter-1), Mathias (Thief-1), and Yohan (Fighter-1).  A sixth player rolled an elf, Evelyn Rootfoot, then left shortly after the session began.  I allowed the remaining players to keep the elf onboard as an NPC follower.

The party began their adventures together lost in a vast desert, one day's worth of water rations away from a slow death by dehydration.  They had been traveling across the sands by night after their caravan was dispersed in a sandstorm three days past.  Then, on the morning of their fourth day of wandering, they saw this:

Out of desperation for food and water they sought a means of egress to the buried step-pyramid they had discovered. Lo, there was an open doorway on one side. Mathias explored it and found that the door was held open by the skeletal remains of a large humanoid, roughly hobgoblin-sized.

Session B-1 Map.  The lower left corner depicts a side cutaway view of the desert step-pyramid; the pyramid's entrance hallway is shown at the upper left corner. 

Stepping over the skeleton, the group cautiously proceeded down the hall, and found a pressure plate in the floor, and an already-discharged crossbow trap at the end of the eastbound hallway section.  Blocking the door to the outside world open behind them, they headed around the corner, and to the northern stone door.  It opened easily, admitting the PCs into a large square chamber with three central bronze vertical cylinders.  Each 6' diameter cylinder went floor-to-ceiling and had a bronze door on the north side.  The PCs instantly started fooling with these, and found that the cylinders were vertical passageways with ladders leading up into the interior of the three statues atop the pyramid.  They also led down to a messy looking storeroom below.  

Korvash opened the left-hand cylinder door, and darts shot out from the north wall, hitting him.  

After that, the PCs stood to the side of each cylinder door while opening it, a fortuitous strategy: nothing happened at the central door, but the right-hand one, when opened, triggered a floor trapdoor to open right in front of it. 

Looking down through the opened trapdoor, the party saw the filthy storeroom below: debris littered the floor, though there were a few intact crates and barrels at the north side.  Spending a moment to examine the place from above, Thorgald poked a lantern on a stick through the trapdoor hole.  It is then that the group noticed some huge insect-like things hunched down in the debris of the storeroom; three in all.  The PCs pulled out bows and shot the three giant insect-things to death from above.  Then the archers remained up top, near the trapdoor, while the other party members descended the right-hand tube-ladder to the storeroom.

The storeroom contained lots of debris, and a few casks partially full of some kind of oil.  Mathias took twenty minutes to gather the oil into one pot, and got about six flasks worth.  Meanwhile, Jarl the dwarf checked out a long-disused forge in the room's southeast corner.  He inspected the forge for signs of dwarven manufacture or runes, but found none.  He did find, in the ashes of the forge, a golden mask, depicting the face of the old man also represented on one of the pyramid roof statues.  He showed the mask to his colleagues.  There were two doors leading out of the storeroom, east and west, but the PCs decided not to try them.  The group re-convened in the upstairs room.

They decided to wedge the cylinder doors closed, post watches near the open trapdoor, and camp out in and recuperate in the upstairs cylinder room.  Thorgald called upon the benevolence of his deity, Ragnar, to heal Korvash, and then the group rested.  

That night, an old-man-masked individual showed up in the eastern entrance to the storeroom, distractedly tossed some offal or food remains from a slop bucket into the chamber, then turned and left by the eastern door as swiftly as he had come. 

The party decided the next morning to lay in wait for the masked man's return; they assumed he would be back.  So they hunkered down in the downstairs chamber, leaving Yohan above.  Nothing happened that night, but the party decided to wait it out one more day, and on the next night, their third inside the pyramid, the elf and the thief heard the approach of footfalls beyond the eastern door.  They guessed there might be four individuals approaching.  They remained hidden.

The eastern door opened, and in came the masked slop-bucket guy, and the party could see three other golden-old-man-masked guys framed in the open doorway, waiting behind in the hallway.

Evelyn cast sleep and all four masked people slumped to the floor.  

Moments later, the whole party convened downstairs in the storeroom and awakened the slop-bucket maskie.  After a bit of persuasive talk from Thorgald the Priest -- "Hail the Strombringer and the Balancer!" -- the maskie, a Follower of Gorm named Horak, was convinced that the party meant his group no harm.  During a moving explanation of their current woes, Thorgald likened his own deity, Ragnar, with the warrior-god Gorm, and this impressed Horak so much that he offered to take the PCs to his leader, who was nearby.  They went.

Here's where the PCs went to meet the Brothers of Gorm.

After walking south down a long hallway and turning right into a barracks room with multiple Gorm-mask-wearers, the party met Kanadius, Leader of the Brotherhood of Gorm.  After explaining their (pitiful) situation, the PCs were able to convince Kanadius that they could be of service to him as spies or mercenaries in exchange for food and water.  Kanadius agreed, offering them food, water, and safe haven here in the area of the pyramid occupied by the Brotherhood, in exchange for the completion of a task: the party must descend one level further into the pyramid and find out if the "Warrior Maidens," who occupy almost half that level, are forming a coalition with the evil "Agents of Zargon."

The party agreed to this, and that is where we will pick up next session. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!

Also Sprach Schpawn:
Well actually, TODAY of all days I REALLY don't give a shit about what kind of sounds everyone wants to make, so go ahead. On most days the fact that the NewYork Times features an article about a mutated humanoid potato and his mom trying to launch a new RPG in their garage so they could earn enough money to buy proper folding chairs would hold little interest for me.

(I assume that's what this is about anyway. I didn't read the article closely. It seems to suggest that Tavis Smiley has his own RPG now as well. I should check it out.)

But TODAY I learned that I could even more NOT give a shit about this AND a vast plenitude of other facts about the world.


And now my beloved readers, as our old friends Beethoven and Schiller would put it:

I'm gonna get all feuertrunken! If yer Tochter ain't the aus Elysium kind, send 'er back cuz I don't wann'er! Alle Guten, Alle Bösen, whatever, I don't give a shit!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Call of Cthulhu RPG Edition Question

I was back on the West Coast for the holidays, visiting family and mainly staying at my parents' home in Washington State.  While there, my brother and I did a massive cleaning and reorganization of the old family game closet, and among the treasures unearthed was a semi-complete set of Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu RPG. It was actually purchased by my brother, but I am not sure if he ever played the game or not.  I am sorry to report that I never have.

My brother generously urged me to take the CoC RPG stuff back home with me, assuring me he has no interest in it at present.  I owe him thanks; what a score!

Some RPG'ing treasure recovered from my parents' place.  Originally my brother's, he gifted this stuff to me.

What I have all seems to be CoC Third Edition stuff, including:

- the "What's in this Box" booklet

Investigator's Book 

- Keeper's Book

- world map

- Keeper's screen

Looking at the description of the Third Edition boxed set here, I see that all I am missing is the box itself and the Sourcebook For The 1920s (which sounds awesome).

So my question for all you wise blogospherians is, is CoC Third Edition any good? Does Edition even matter much when it comes to CoC? Any edition-related comments and/or links to resources about CoC RPG you can give me will be greatly appreciated.


[UPDATE: Or does this preemptively answer my question?]

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

More to Come

I've been out of town for a couple weeks, and despite my best intentions, I just never got time to sit down and post about:

- the first two sessions worth of adventures enacted by my local Brockport Campaign as the group begins to explore The Lost City

- the latest play report for my Arandish Campaign (here's Session 47 but Session 48 was played over two weeks ago, before the winter break started)

- reviews of Oubliette #7 and Christian Walker's ongoing 'zine Loviatar


- progress reports on the Lands of Ara Compendium 2011, forthcoming (as free pdf) within the month!

All this and more is soon to come.