Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rumors for Session 8

The Missing Young Woman (by Mongibello)
Last time, the party slew a mighty dragon, and retrieved much treasure. After dealing with that treasure, they left Solove to Pechen, where Ieho bought a townhouse, and continued on to Ishpeming. There, they heard rumors of a haunted house, and lights out on the bay, and decided to investigate.

1. The Chapterhouse of the Priestesshood of Gwynnyth is seeing fewer wounded adventures than they used to, probably because the Sisters of Fire and Water are doing such a great job.
2. A young woman has disappeared in Ishpeming
3. There is a coven of elven witches near Lesnime
4. Ishpeming is well known for its beer
5. There have been very few raids from the orc barbarians over the past few years.
6. Skilled thieves often make use of a Hand of Glory to commit their crimes

It is the 1st of December, 79. It is cool and partly cloudy.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Session Seven: From Darwain's Perspective

Following their encounter with the yappy kobolds across the lava bridges, the party decided to regroup and rest. Figuring a position upstream would be more easily defensible, or at least harder to sneak up on, a watch was set and the recuperation began. During their new ally Vasily's watch, a loud splashing and grumbling was heard. Awaking his comrades, the fighting man shone his lantern at the source of the noise to find a hungry ogre! After some quick talking, the party were able to convince the ogre that a less dangerous, albeit stringier meal was downstream: kobolds. The rest of the night passed uneventfully except for the disappearance of Bob the cleric.

The following morning, Darwin proposed a new strategy to avoid the kobolds, "Just go left." After a number of branches and intersections, the party found themselves at the bottom of a rock slide. Beginning to climb it, Darwin heard the telltale rattle of a snake. Not one to meddle with poison if avoidable, he doused the area in military oil and lit it up. After a few minutes, the fire died down, and there was no snake to be found.
Some number of left turns later, the group found some unusual sleeping lizards between them and a heavy stone door. Very carefully skirting the lizards, the party was able to force the door open. Inside was a small room holding a skeleton clad in plate armor, a sword, and some arrows. Guessing by the apparent lack of wear on the sword and armor that they were magical, Vasily reequipped himself courtesy of this room's long-dead occupant. Finding themselves at a dead end, the group searched for hidden passages, and Ieho found one. Opening it, the group found themselves at the tail end of a slumbering red dragon atop a huge mound of treasure!

After a strategical retreat and lengthy discussion, it was decided that if the red dragon stood between them and freedom, it would have to go. Furthermore, if it had to go, this backdoor should form part of their strategy for defeating it. Before that, however, a search for other exits was to be conducted. Turning around and sticking to their always go left policy, they found the scorched remains of some kobolds. Assuming these to be the dragon's handiwork, and not wanting to reveal themselves to the dragon, the group backtracked. They found a couple of staircases leading down, which they ignored, not wanting to plunge deeper into the earth than the lair of a dragon.

They then found a magically blackened room. Darwain entered silently, and made his way around the left wall, and back out the door. Having heard no noise from within and found no other exits, he invited his party to help him search for secret doors in the dark. All seemed fruitless, and they were about to leave, when Vasily tripped over something. Dragging it out into the light, it was another skeleton, but this one had a backpack. Within were several large potions and a scroll. Recalling his extensive medical training, Darwain attempted to identify the potions by taste. He recognized one as two doses of healing potion, couldn't place the taste of the second, and knew the last one to be two doses of invisibility. The party mused that the dragon didn't seem as daunting with these in tow.

Checking the rest of the corridors they had skipped, they snuck up behind two separate kobold snipers atop cliffs looking down, and quickly dispatched them before they could react. Further exploration yielded no sign of an exit other than the one spotted in the dragon's den, so they backtracked to the secret doorway. After some tactical debate involving the potions and positioning, the group concealed themselves as best they could and took the snoozing dragon by surprise. Two bolts, from the arbalests of hidden Darwain and Ieho, seemed to strike true in the dragon's most vulnerable spots, and with that, the beast was slain before it could act. After a great deal of celebration and treasure counting, the group followed the dragon-sized tunnel and even the dwarves were grateful to find fresh air and sunlight greeting them at the end.

The companions debated a party name as they returned to Solove without incident. Once there, they proceeded to make a great deal of investments and attempted to identify and sell some of their magical loot. Not finding a sage capable of the identification, they did find a wizard who was willing to bargain. He identified their items in exchange for a magical scroll they had found and one (reasonable) favor to be named at a later date.

After some listening for rumors and other carousing, the party heard that the Mad Dogs had headed back to Threshhold after clearing out the goblin den that had claimed Honest Mercy. They also heard that there was adventure to be had in Ishpeming, and there was some witchcraft afoot in Lesnime. Seeing as Ishpeming would give them a chance to pass through Pechen and try selling their merchandise again, they decided to embark in that direction. In Pechen, Ieho purchased a townhouse with a laboratory, and crafted his first mechanical man. With this new automaton in tow, the group headed for Ishpeming and tried to learn more about the adventure opportunity therein.

Rumors of a haunted house on the edge of town were swirling, and the group secured an interview with a member of the village council, Ivan. He gave them the location of the house and some foreboding warnings, which our hearty adventurers promptly disregarded, and they set out to explore the property....

Session Seven: Into the Dragon's Lair

While they did not suffer any casualties, the Cobalt Cavers were tired and wounded. They retreated back to the second level of the caves to rest for the night and treat their wounds with some comfrey. In the middle of the night, they were shocked to hear a creature stomping towards them. "So hungry," the ogre cried. The party, not wanting to fight an ogre, were quick to suggest the ogre might find the kobolds downstream better targets for his stomach. The ogre agreed, and left them behind.

Back on level 3, the Cavers came across a rockslide. Darwain went to climb it, and he was halfway up before hearing a rattle. Darwain must have some childhood snake trauma, because he dumped a vial of military oil all over the rockslide and set it afire. Once the fire burnt out, there was no more rattling, and the party continued into a room with a dead fighter. They promptly helped themselves to his gear, and behind him, found a secret door. They cautiously opened the door to see a dragon behind them.

This was not something they had planned on. They quickly shut the door and argued about what to do next. Ieho was not keen on fighting the dragon, but Darwain thought they had a good chance. In the end, they decided to explore some more first. "Maybe we can come around and fuck him from behind," remarked Darwain. This doesn't work so well -- they found a passage that looped around back to the dragon's lair, but from the charred kobold corpses, it appeared to be more of a front door than a rear entrance. After more exploration, the Cobalt Cavers decide the only way they're getting out is through the dragon.

Steeling themselves for an epic conflict, the Cavers burst open the secret door and charged the dragon. Darwain was able to get the drop and inflict double damage with a arbalest bolt to the kidney, and Ieho's bolt to the heart ended the drake's life. Underneath the dragon was a massive pile of treasure, though, fortunately, not so massive that Ieho couldn't fit it all into his bag of holding. The copper pieces they found were placed in a new magical bag. It turned out to be a bag of devouring. Ieho gave Geoff a 1,000 gp bonus in return for not giving him the magical plate armor they found, and everyone got just short of two levels. Darwain sent 5,000 gp back to the dwarves as a sort of tithe.

The Cobalt Cavers decided to head to Pechen to sell some of the magical items they didn't want, after hearing that the Mad Dogs cleared out the goblins on the outskirts of Solove. (The Mad Dogs, incidentally, left a note saying they were on their way back to Threshold to look into some stuff.)  Ieho bought a townhouse, but then the party decided to investigate Ishpeming, where they heard there was adventure.

When they got to Ishpeming, they discovered that there was a haunted house, and weird lights off-shore...

Monday, December 16, 2013

Session Six: From Ieho's viewpoint

Last week Ieho was suddenly deposited in the town from his journey through the fey realm. He had lost a couple weeks of time but was none the worse for wear. Though he did have an interesting souvenir, his hair and his beard were both bright blue.
He spent a day or two orienting himself and selling the items he had left from his last adventure. Though he was unable to find a buyer for a magical long sword. 

While in town he met up with two other adventurers, Bob and Gawain. They were able to tell Ieho of some of his friend's fates, death at the hands of goblins. Not to let this go unpunished, and to investigate the rumors of a hobgoblin army forming the party set out to the monetary once again. 

They had no trouble getting to the main building and began exploring the lower level. They dispatched several hobgoblins, some carnivorous giant flies, and a mad cultist, who seemed to be keeping the old religion alive down in the underground caves. After the finished exploring most of the cave they went back to the barracks and where they felt the hobgoblins had been staying. 

However on the way Geoff and Bob fell down a ramp which dropped them 50 feet down into another level. After some considerable debate about how to get them out they decided the only way was for all of them to enter the lower level and try to find a way out together. 

Once they were at the bottom in an octagonal room they were almost immediately set upon by a group of men who had gone mad. They slaughtered them and started looking for a way out. They ran across more men overcome by madness, and a gelatinous cube, and finally found a river. Deciding this was a good chance to find a way out they followed it downstream. 

The river led them to another cave, which appeared to be inhabited. They found a store room and them a crevasse with flowing lava that had three bridges stretching over it. As soon as they approached the bridges kobolds attacked. 

Their spears were dangerous and at one point the party felt they had the upper hand when reinforcements arrived in the form of 12 more kobolds. The party was able to kill quite a few, Bob back away worried that they were going to be overrun as Geoff was taking considerable damage. But the kobolds retreated. The party also pulled back and there was a standoff. As both sides looked across the bridge at each other. 

They attempted to parley, but once the kobolds demanded gold the party began firing bolts into their midst forcing the remaining kobolds to scatter into the cave. 

The party, heavily wounded, made their way back to the store room which they barricaded to try and have a night of rest.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Session Six: Fantastic Slide

Picture from Of Dice and Men
Present at the session were Darwin, Ieho and his companions Geoff and Devabriel, and Bob the Cleric. The session started with the party recovering from last week's debacle. Ieho returned from Faery mostly intact, though his hair turned an unnatural shade of blue. Bob attempted to scout out the goblin warren, but was unable to learn anything new from his attempts. And Darwain relaxed. Ieho wanted to sell his sword +1, but couldn't find a buyer in Solove. Geoff looked on enviously while Ieho debated whether to go to Pechen to sell it. But eventually the party regroups. One of the rumors going around was that the Hobgoblin king was raising an army, and the Do-gooders decided they should take care of that before he can completely regroup from his losses of two weeks ago.

They made their way back into the catacombs, where they used their Dwarven intuition to figure out what passages they had not been down yet. The corridor was largely uninteresting, with two locked rooms to the west. However on the eastern side of the corridor, they found a door leading to an evil shrine. The shrine was dominated by an idol, similar to the grotesque depictions they had seen elsewhere. It had gems for eyes, which immediately led to attempts to remove the eyes for the monetary gain of the party. They looked for traps, but must have missed something, because upon removing the first eye, four carnivorous flies attacked the party! Fortunately, they were dispatched without incident.

Searching the room a bit more thoroughly, now that the obvious treasure was taken, the party found a secret door. Bursting through it, they found an evil cleric who was not only completely surprised, but very quickly dead. They looted his chambers, getting together a pretty nice haul, and just pausing to dispatch a thoul throgrin. Having found all of the chambers in this area of the catacombs, they decided to head for the hobgoblin king, to end his threat once and for all. Hopefully without dying this time. But before they could get to his chamber, they passed over a trapdoor. Geoff was able to pass over it without incident, but Bob triggered it and Bob and Geoff tumbled to an octagonal chamber in the tunnels below.

They chose to go through the northern door, using spikes to mark it. As it happened, this was the door a group of crazy berserkers were about to come through, and a combat ensued. The party won, and they continued to explore the winding corridors, returning periodically to the octagonal chamber. They were surprised by a gelatinous cube, evaded a pit trap, and fought off more berserkers (this time with reinforcements), when eventually they found a stream. The dwarven sense of direction told them that this was the best way to return to the surface, so they followed the stream to level 3.

They see a small group of kobolds here, who immediately run off to warn their compatriots. The party cautiously follows to find a room dominated by a magma flow in the middle. Three stone bridges cross the chasm, and 12 kobolds are arrayed at the other end, javelins in hand.  Missile weapons flew back and forth, and both Geoff and Bob made failed sorties, but in the end, despite reinforcements, the kobolds were outmatched. They retreated back out of the range of the missile weapons, and offered to let the party leave for 100 gp. The party responded with another flurry of arrows, and the 10 surviving kobolds retreated back into the cave.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

XP Bonus for Session Summaries

I've enjoyed writing up the session summaries each week, but I don't always include all the details that might be interesting to people. Mostly because I forget. So to get different perspectives, I'm encouraging my players to write summaries by offering an xp bonus based on their level. It needs to be posted in a public place, either on this blog or elsewhere on the internet, reasonably detailed, and before the next session. The awards are roughly based on 5% of the xp the fighter needs for the next level, and are as follows:

1   100
2   200
3   400
4   800
5   1500
6   3000
7   6000
8   12000
9   20000
10 25000
11 30000
12 35000
13 40000

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rumors for Session Five

Last time, the party was sounded defeated by hobgoblins, then goblins. As the surviving members lick their wounds, they hear the following rumors:

1. The Chapterhouse of the Priestesshood of Gwynnyth is seeing fewer wounded adventures than they used to, probably because the Sisters of Fire and Water are doing such a great job.
2. There are hobgoblins preparing for war near Solove
3. There is adventure to be had in Ishpeming
4. A mad wizard in Czerny gives spellbooks in exchange for ivory
5. The local priest saw bad omens a week ago.
6. Skilled thieves often make use of a Hand of Glory to commit their crimes

It is November 10th. The weather is cool and overcast

Faerie Abductions

Last week, I had a problem not uncommon to D&D groups: one of my players was out of town. Not only that, but another player, who had missed the past couple sessions, was back. I was going to handwave it, perhaps having the returning PC (Hugh) be a hobgoblin prisoner, but I thought it would be more interesting to have them swap places. Because Faerie. And that was supposed to be it, and it was, until I remembered some work Beedo had done in a couple posts about faerie abductions and some consequences thereof. With Bryan's permission, his character will be subjected to the following random table:

1-2 Timestream Displacement: Age five years
3 Long Nap: Age ten years
4 Fount of Youthfulness: Become five years younger
5-6 Faerie Marked: +1 to reaction rolls with faerie folk, -1 to reaction rolls with clergy
7 Witch Marked: Baba Yaga has marked you for her own. -1 to all reaction rolls, but gain one minor spell like ability usable once per day
8-9 Mortal Lover: Some personage in Faerie has taken you as a lover. This will come up later.
10 New Friend: Gain a Fae henchman
11 Future Sight: +1 to initiative once per day
12 Our bread is true bread: Gain +1 to constitution
13 Faerie Aura: Gain +1 to Charisma
14 Arcane Experiments: Gain +2 to your prime requisite, but lose 2 from Charisma
15 Favored: Gain a random minor miscellaneous magic item, or one of your devising (subject to DM  approval)
16-17 Faerie Makeover! Gain blue hair for the next month
18  Offended Hosts: -1 to all d20 rolls for the next week
19-20 Scarred: You don't know what happened, but faerie folk make you mad. +1 to damage when fighting them

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Goblin Wars Session Four: The Slaughter of the Innocents

In which four characters, belonging to three players, die quickly. To goblins.

It started out in the dungeon of the hobgoblin king. Reginald, Dr. Bolyai, and Honest Mercy were all there, Honest Mercy enjoying the company of the wolves he had just met, as they left the barracks where they had slaughtered 14 hobgoblins. To their astonishment, Ieho disappeared, and was replaced mysteriously by Huge. Must be fairies. The proceeded down the corridor to a set of double doors which led into the throne room.

Inside the room were six hobgoblins, two bodyguards, and the hobgoblin king himself. The party charged in, cutting down the hobgoblins quickly, though losing Huge in the process. Seeing his troops dead, the king roared and charged at the party himself, his bodyguard leading the way. The party, especially Reginald, quickly eliminated one of the champions, but the king and his second champion proved to be too much.

The trickster cast an illusion of a wolf which attacked the king, but the king swiped his glaive at it and it disappeared. Then Reginald injured and nearly killed the second bodyguard, but before he can finish it off, the bodyguard kills Dr. Bolyai. The king cheers and promptly stabs Reginald through the chest. Honest Mercy can see the score, and flees. His wolves, smelling failure, abandon him once they are out of the catacombs.

Honest Mercy spends a day catching his breath, then goes out looking for a new party, and a henchman. A promising candidate rejects the hiring offer, but the second one, named John Smythe and perhaps more average, accepts. In addition, two other PCs join up -- Darwain, a first level delver, and Bob, a first level cleric. They spend 2 days returning to the monastery to get the weapons stash back. Some of them also try their luck with the fountain. Darwain receives a +2 to his dexterity, making it a 20. John is not so lucky. He takes a -1 to all stats, and decides that adventuring is not for him. Nevertheless, Bob decides to take a go at it, and is rewarded with paralysis for his trouble.

Back in town, they spend a day looking for the Mad Dogs. They are unable to find them, but leave word regarding the difficulties they had with the hobgoblin king. For their own part, they decide to investigate a goblin warren they heard about outside of town. The entrance the goblins use is apparently an old well. They climb down, and Darwain and Honest Mercy edge forward. Lacking infravision, Bob hangs back. They see some goblins to the right, on top of a sloped ramp, but the ramp is slick, and they find it too hard to climb. Further along, they come to a room featuring two raised platforms with several goblin archers. Showing some sense of foreboding, Bob flees at once.

The party trades arrows with the goblin archers, but the numerical superiority of the goblins proves to be too much. Honest Mercy is shot down, and Darwain is nearly killed, saved only by his nearly superhuman dexterity. Darwain flees, leaving the goblins behind to jeer.

Of The First Demon War

Once there was peace in heaven, and all the gods were at peace, and there was no war. Hadeth, general of the legions of heaven, was ever a rival to our Lord Fayon, but it wast a friendly rivalry, and no violence was done. Yet upon a time did a madness descend upon Hadeth, and she descended to the earth, and slaughtered many. And two-thirds of the legions of heaven fell to earth with her, and they didst number 666 angels and potentates. But Fayon gathered the remnants of the legions of heaven to himself, and fought against the chaos sweeping the earth. And Tiamat laughed.

Vassa and Soren did great deeds as well, saving many who wouldst otherwise have been slaughtered. Soren took many beneath the earth, into the great fastness of Ziggur-Azul, and defended that fortress with his famed hammer. And Vassa sailed the blue ocean, gathering those she could find and trusting to the sea for her rampart. And so the slaughter was not what it might have been.

And lo! Though the slaughter was great, yet Fayon prevailed, and there was again peace in heaven. Hadeth was cast down to Hades, that prison that no one, be she mortal or god, may escape. But her power was and is such that even yet does she sow chaos on the earth, setting nation against nation, and seeking the means by which she may be free of her gaol.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pavlov's Bell

Pavlov's Bell was created as part of a now-lost psychic experiment. When rung, it will cause all canines in the area to salivate uncontrollably. 3 times per day, the Bell can cause a nearby canine to act as a Decanter of Endless Water. If the 'geyser' effect is used, canines smaller than man-sized with less than 1 HD are killed. Canines with 1 HD or more, or larger than man-sized, are knocked over if they fail a save vs. paralysis.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Goblin Wars Session Three: Into the Halls of the Goblin King

I'm trying smoky eye. Too much?
Last night, the party returned to the ruins of the Desert Wind Monastery to see if they could take down the Hobgoblin King. Reginald the Boastful, Ieho, and Honest Mercy formed the party, backed by their loyal henchmen Dr. Bolyai, Jeff, and Devabriel. They fought their way past a group of zombies fairly handily, but were surprised to find another adventuring party at the top of the hill, the Mad Dogs! Artemis Ventura, Szaborek the Oafish, and their leader, Zanzibar the Magnificent. The conversation was quite civil, since Zanzibar and Reginald both have close relations with the church, and the Mad Dogs went their separate way, heading back to town to nurse their wounds from clearing out the goblins in the garden.

The party, who really needs to pick out a party name before I have +Humza Kazmi pick out one for them, proceeds to clear out the surface level, but not without cost. Reeling especially from the battle with two ogres, and with a badly injured paladin, they decide to head back to town. They found a large cache of weapons, making them think the hobgoblins had been preparing to invade. In any case, they spend a week making connections with the merchants of Solove, and sell four loads of the arms.

Returning to the monastery, they proceed towards the stairs leading down to the catacombs underneath, when who should they run into but the Mad Dogs again! They had explored the right-ward passage, but had suffered some injuries breaking through a barricade the hobgoblins had set up, and so were headed right back into town. The party went down the same way, but found a secret door the Mad Dogs had missed, and went through it. They found an arena, where Honest Mercy befriended two wolves, and the main hobgoblin barracks. They managed to pin the hobgoblins in their room, where they were slain one by one. The illusion the gnome threw up of a fireball didn't hurt either! Now the party readies their next move.

It is October 29th.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

King Phillip and the Ugly Statue

Once, there was a king of Solaria named Phillip. He had a daughter he loved more than anything in the world. One day, she declared that she wanted a pet badger. But throughout the land, no one could find a badger tame enough for the princess. Alexander, Phillip's adviser, had a suggestion. "Call for the bard Kimbra. She has power over animals." So Phillip called for the bard. "Take me to the forest," she said. When they arrived at the forest, Kimbra took out her lute and began to play. A badger came out of the forest and began purring, rubbing itself against the leg of the princess. "Excellent!" cried the king. "You may have any reward you wish, up to half my kingdom." Knowing the king to be a vain man, Kimbra said, "There is nothing I would like more than to see a statue of your majesty in every village, for you are a handsome man." The king was pleased. He had the statues erected and married the bard. But when the statues were erected nine months later, the king was not pleased. He thought they made him look fat. In a rage, he killed Kimbra, and ordered the army to march through the land to tear down each and every statue. To this day, an insult that elicits a response that is too large is called a Phillipan Insult.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Rumors for Session Three

From VectorGenius at DeviantArt
Last week, the party shifted their base to Solove in order to explore the Desert Wind Monastery. They've found the main building, but have yet to examine what lies beneath.

1 The Desert Wind Monastery, south of Solove, was founded by a group of heretical monks who believed that Fayon's court mage Ither was immortal and is the only one now preaching the true religion. He lives in the desert still.
2 South of Solove, a temple has been taken over by hobgoblins
3 There's a small graveyard outside of town that is starting to show signs of becoming a sinkhole of evil.
4 The Sisters of Fire & Water do great work with orphans
5 Fellmont Abbey's beer is the best!
6 You know those frog totem poles you see every once in a while, 'specially down south? They're cursed by Koschei, and will turn you into a frog if you touch them.
It is the 20th day of October.  The weather is cool, with a 20% chance of light rain.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Goblin Wars Session Three: Horror on the Hill

The first thought of the players was to investigate the locked door they had found in Castle Caldwell. Unfortunately, there were no mages available to cast knock (and it would have been difficult for them to afford, in any case). But, there were rumors of hobgoblins near Solove, so the party went that way to see if they couldn't find some fame or fortune. They thought they should try and take some trade goods with them, but sadly, no merchants had goods they wanted to trade. Perhaps if Threshold were a bit bigger.

The only meaningful encounter along the way was an encounter with some thirty bandits. Thanks to their great skill at diplomacy, and some lucky rolls, they were able to negotiate the paying of a 100 gp 'toll'. They arrive in Solove, and spend the day looking around the town and hearing rumors. They are a bit worried at the prospect of running into some sort of hobgoblin god, but assume he'd be a pushover if they did find him.

The next day they climb the hill to the ruins on top, where the hobgoblins are supposed to be. They manage to surprise three ghouls gnawing on some unidentifiable remains, and dispatch them before they can react. Reaching the top of the hill, they tentatively explore the ruins. They easily deal with three giant centipedes and approach a tomb. Inside the tomb, the door swings shut, and they are attacked by 12 skeletons. The party is starting to hope the cleric reaches level one soon! Nevertheless, the skeletons prove to not be much of a threat either, and they seize the eyes from some pagan idol and make their way to the monastery.

Inside the monastery, they chase a troupe of giant rats from the ruined kitchen and excavate the library before coming across a larger room. There they find a fountain, from which Ieho and Bolyai drink. Ieho is fortunate, and feels a bit more dextrous, but Bolyai finds himself generally less competent of a human being. After managing to spend a (luckily) eventless night, they find the main door to the monastery. Before they can open it, a dozen goblins charge them from the nearby garden. Geoff is quickly bashed across the face with the business end of a short sword. Thanks to quick intervention from Reginald, he is brought back to consciousness, but has some minor scarring. After Reginald dispatches the goblins, taking a minor wound in the process, the party decides to go back to town to lick their wounds before entering the monastery proper.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pre-session Two Update

Last week, the party cleared out Castle Caldwell, taking especial care with a nest of stirges and wondering about what a certain locked door meant. When the characters return to town, they hear the following rumors:

1 Pirates are an increasing problem in Morachi Bight
2 South of Solove, a temple has been taken over by hobgoblins
3 There's a small graveyard outside of town that is starting to show signs of becoming a sinkhole of evil. 4 The Sisters of Fire & Water do great work with orphans
5 Fellmont Abbey's beer is the best!
6 You know those frog totem poles you see every once in a while, 'specially down south? They're cursed by Koschei, and will turn you into a frog if you touch them.
Just to remind you, not all of these are intended to be plot points, so if you're wondering what to do about mysterious frog totems, don't worry about it. It's probably not important. It is the 11th day of October, 79, but the weather is still mild. It is pleasant, and partly cloudy.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Equipment Availability

So, when I was writing up the setting, I said that Threshold acts like a Class IV market for the purposes of hiring mercenaries and henchmen. I did this mostly because I didn't want it to be too difficult for the PCs to find hirelings, and the rationale was basically that there's so much adventuring activity, being on the frontier and all, that there were more martial types to be hired than normal. I didn't intend for it to apply to equipment.

Well, last night, a member of the party wanted to buy a suit of plate mail. Not wanting to look up the market availability rules, I said that the PCs could be one of anything in the equipment guide. Looking back, that's way too generous, especially after giving the standard availability table a second look. At the same time, I want them to be able to buy plate mail. So here's the deal. There is one of every piece of equipment that sells for 100gp or less. There's just so much volatility in the market that there's always something available. But if you want more than one, or if you want something that costs more (like a silver two-handed sword), you use the standard table.

Arden Est Session One: Castle Caldwell

Of the various rumors heard by the party, they decided that the nobleman needing help sounded the most promising. After meeting with him, a Baron Clifton Caldwell, they negotiated for medical benefits in addition to the promised pay. So four brave adventurers headed into the wilderness: Reginald (Paladin 1), his man Prufrock (Theif 1), Hugh (Fighter 1), and Ieho (Dwarven Machinist 1). (Ieho, in an odd twist, was introduced to the party by the man who is now his henchman, Devabriel the venturer, who decided adventuring was not for him.)

They arrived at the castle, and immediately found a group of goblins arguing over who was entitled to what treasure. The party was happy to help them settle that dispute. They also dispatched a group of goblins patrolling the hallway, but that was the end of combat for a while. They found a number of humans who had taken up refuge in the castle, not expecting to be trapped by goblins. They were varyingly unsavory, but no one really wanted to fight, so the party was willing to escort them out of the castle. This included the Chaotic priestess who, as a level one cleric, did not yet detect as evil to the paladin.

One of the remaining combats was against a giant shrew. I let them choose between the modules version (who automatically won initiative) or the ACKS version (who got +1 to hit). They took the ACKS version, wisely as it turns out, as they won initiative and killed it before it could act. The only other combat the first day was against a crab spider. It got the drop on them (literally), landing on Prufrock's back and breaking it. (Also, first official roll on the Mortal Wounds table.) Thus ended a promising career almost before it started. Prufrock lived, thanks to the Paladin's lay on hands and good rolling for the healing proficiency by Ieho, but he would never walk again.

The last combat of the module was saved for the second day. The thief heard stirges behind one of the doors and, perhaps scarred from last week, was reluctant to fight them unless they were at full power. But, when they ripped open the door, there were only three stirges, who fell relatively easily. The party returned to town and received their reward. However, they were curious about a certain door which they could not open...

Back in town, Ieho hired a fighter for a henchman. Reginald wanted a cleric to replace Prufrock, but none were looking for work. Reginald decided to ask the local church, and lo and behold, after a 100gp donation, there was an acolyte willing to join the party.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


% In Lair: 25%
Dungeon Enc: Gang (2d4) / Lair (1 warband)
Wilderness Enc: Warband (1d4 gangs) / Village (1d10 warbands)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 3 + 1
Attacks: 1 (weapon)
Damage: 1d4+1 or 1d6+1
Save: F3
Morale: +2
Treasure Type: H (per warband)
XP: 65

Vodyanoi appear to be large, portly, men with large, soggy beards, but they are in fact made of water, and can be recognized by the pools of water that tend to appear around their feet. They are the chief soldiers and minions of Koschei the deathless, fey prince of winter. They are affable and friendly if it does not interfere with their mission, but are completely loyal to Koschei. 

In combat they normally wield cudgels, doing 1d4+1 points of damage, but if it is bitterly cold out, the cudgels gain a coating of jagged ice, and deal 1d6+1 point of damage. Vodyanoi can breath water, and can cast control water as a 5th level magic-user. Often, a vodyanoi in the water will attempt to grab a victim and drown him; they gain +2 to grapple attempts while in the water. They can also summon fish, either 1d4 attack fish, or a cloud of fish that acts as a wall of smoke. 

Vodyanoi lair in rivers and lakes, and, to the extent Koschei allows it, will give the local community fish in exchange for propitiation. They especially like pearls. Each gang is led by a vodyanoi zakone, a larger vodyanoi with AC 5, 4+1 HD, and a spear doing 1d6+1/1d8+1 damage. Each warband is led by a sub-boyar, with AC 6, 5+1 HD, and a spear doing 1d6+3/1d8+3 damage. There is also a 25% chance that there will be a koldun, who has the stats of a normal vodanyoi, but 1d4 wizard levels. Each village is led by a boyar, AC 7, 7+2 HD, and a spear doing 1d6+5/1d8+5. There is also always a koldun with 1d6 wizard levels in each village.

Urban Vodyanoi are vodyanoi who have left the traditional habitat of streams and lakes, and moved to the city. There they can often be found working for the local theives guild. They have learned to alter their features to blend in; those meeting them outside of combat do not remember such encounters unless they save vs. spell or the vodyanoi wishes.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Update, pre-Session One

Last week, the party cleared out a den of stirges. In the process, they found a dead gray humanoid with a backpack full of arms and a magical sword. When the characters return to town, they hear the following rumors:
1 Pirates are an increasing problem in Morachi Bight
2 South of Solove, a temple has been taken over by hobgoblins
3 A noble is in Threshold, seeking adventurers to clear out a castle he recently acquired.
4 The Sisters of Fire & Water do great work with orphans
5 Fellmont Abbey's beer is the best!
6 You know those frog totem poles you see every once in a while, 'specially down south? They're cursed by Koschei, and will turn you into a frog if you touch them.
It is the first day of October, 79, but the weather is still mild. It is pleasant, though overcast.

Monday, November 4, 2013

20 Question by Jeff Rients

Jeff Rients' 20 Questions ( http://jrients.blogspot.ca/2011/04/twenty-quick-questions-for-your.html )

1. What is the deal with my cleric's religion?
All PC clerics follow the Valharim, former mortals who earned immortality through their mighty deeds. By and large they get along with each other, though all oppose the machinations of the mad goddess Hadeth.
2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
Gselic's Outfitters. Serving nogoodniks since CE 63!
3. Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
You can ask Gselic, though he's not great at that sort of thing. Your best bet is Ragnar Camazotz, brother of the lord mayor of Pechen.
4. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?
Rijs van Dekker, of Czerny
5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
Prince Beren Evereska
6. Who is the richest person in the land?
Prince Beren Evereska

7. Where can we go to get some magical healing?
Most shrines have a temple that can provide at least basic healing spells and potions.
8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?
More serious conditions can be treated at the Chapterhouse of the Priesthood of Gwynnyth, goddess of love and war.
9. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
There is no organized magic guild in Morachi, though major cities like Pechen have established salons. Most wizards have a master who will teach them a spell when they level up.
10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?
There are some in Threshold, since they welcome the opportunity to relieve PCs of their gold, but your best bet is Pechen.
11. Where can I hire mercenaries?
Many with some martial experience, or the desire to acquire it, frequent the Whaling Whistle Inn, though more disreputable sorts are often at the Burning Scow.

12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
None, though outright violence in the streets is going to be frowned upon. Threshold, especially, is a bit rough and tumble.
13. Which way to the nearest tavern?
In addition to the Burning Scow and the Whaling Whistle, there's the Tilted Pinky, which is somewhat more upscale. Threshold's most prominent mage, Lady Elvira Mollusk (L6), can often be found here.
14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
The big ones are the goblin queen Baba Yaga and her brother/consort/archenemy Koschei the Deathless. Closer to home, there are rumors of a necromancer in the swamp southeast of town who's supposed to be responsible for the increase in undead lately.
15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
No wars proper, though there's always tension with Fogelon to the southwest. Goblin raids are on the rise, and the orc tribes to the north are restless.
16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
While there are some in the lands rules by Thyrania, the northern peoples consider such fighting to be barbaric.
17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
None that you know about right now; they're secret.

18. What is there to eat around here?
Goulash is the standard meal inns provide for their lodgers. Stews and sausages are very common, though the quality of the filler in the sausage varies quite a bit. Roast goose is common for holidays and feasting.
19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
The three artifacts of Fayon -- the Cup, Ring, and Breastplate -- are the most powerful known items. The ritual for longevity has been lost since the fall of Thyrania. Tokhar's Axe, wielded by a legendary barbarian, is said to enable its wielder to mow down men like grass.
20. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?
There are rumors that a black dragon, Ancalagon, lives in the Labrinsk Hills.


Threshold is the capital of Brno, relatively large with 104 families. As it is right near the borderlands, it is home to an unusually large number of potential adventurers. (Roll for henchmen and hirelings as if a class IV market.) Just outside of town are the Laternan Caves, recently renamed the Caves of Chaos, as minions of Chaos have been  spotted near there. And, as everyone knows, where there are Chaos creatures, there is often treasure.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Morachi is the youngest of the successor kingdoms. It had been populated by settlers from Muldavia, but never formally organized until an adventurer named Mikulas Mathias from Fogelon came in and united the people under his rule. Since then, Morachi has been slowly expanding to the north and east along the Reka river.
Mikulas Mathias founded Morachi about sixty years ago. As noted earlier, the area had been populated somewhat by settlers from Fogelon, but had not been organized. That is, except for large bandit gangs who troubled the king of Fogelon enough that he sent Mikulas and his party to stop the bandits. Mikulas showed remarkable mercy in dealing with the bandits, and so was able to use them to consolidate his control over the area. He was nominally a vassal of Fogelon, but they were in the middle of a succession dispute, and paid him little heed.

Mikulas' successor, Stephen Bocksai, further consolidated the kingdom, expanding north along the Reka river. The main threat during his reign came from raids by the Orcish tribes that live to the north. Not only did they threaten Morachi directly, they threatened to cut off the flow of metals that come from the mines of Norhold. Stephen delved into a dungeons located in the hills near Norhold, and there recovered the Globus Cruciger. With the Globus Cruciger, he was able to control the gold dragon Faranth, and drive the orcs back.

The current king is Matthias Corvinus. When he took the throne, he announced formal independence from Fogelon, conveniently while they were at war with Muldavia. Fogelon has not recognized their independence, but has not had the resources to establish control. Corvinus is growing older, and some worry that Fogelon might take advantage of his age to reclaim the territory for themselves.

The Map of Arden Est

Map created using hexographer
Arden Est was originally named Arden Oest by the elves, referring to the great forest that covered wide swathes of this portion of the continent, and of which there are only scattered remnants. There are six kingdoms now, splintered branches of the Solarian Empire which disintegrated during the Second Demon War. The northernmost kingdom is Morachi, and is also the least connected to the old rites and rituals of Empire.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Goblin Wars Session Gamma: The Stirge Cave

In which the party clears out a cavern of stirges and goblins, and makes a gruesome discovery. The participants were Reginald Proudsword (Paladin 1), Honest Mercy (Gnome Trickster 1), Hugh (Thief 1), and Devabriel (Venturer 1).

Hugh and Reginald, flush from their recent success clearing out the goblin breeding pit, were relaxing with their friends Devabriel and Honest Mercy when a messenger from Karolina Nmec approached them. Apparently the law-woman wanted to meet with them the next day. Reginald thanked the messenger, and they went to see Karolina in the morning. She got right to the point. Merchants had been complaining of stirges attacking their caravans, and she wanted the party to clear them out. She couldn't pay, but Reginald volunteered the party anyway, since it was their civic duty.

They found the lair pretty readily, and used a tree to clamber into the cave. Once inside, they found a cavern full of trash and bones. Hugh went to poke at it, and what should come crawling out at him but giant centipedes! They were no match for the party, with thuggish henchman Prufrock killing the last one. They continued deeper into the cave, where they stumbled upon a horde of treasure, the sort that would be stockpiled by goblins. There were piles of copper coins, trading goods like salt, and barrels of beer. Also, a sword:

They could not carry the barrels, but the gathered up the coins and went on their way. The next passage they explored led to the actual nest of the stirges. Four were there waiting for them, with more pouring out every round. Reginald, Devabriel, and Honest Mercy all end up having their blood sucked, but thanks to a mighty cleave by Reginald, the party is able to slay all of the blood-sucking fiends.

The party then decides to go back to town to get a wagon with which to retrieve the barrels. The trip to and from the tunnels is uneventful, but when they get back to the caves, they are attacked by goblins! Unbeknown to the party, a small band of goblins had taken up lair in the upper part of the caves, protected by the stirges. Reginald quaffs a potion of giant strength, killing two of them with a mighty heave of a boulder. Hugh manages to shoot one right through the eye, and most of the rest are dealt with quickly until there is one left. He offers to surrender, and Devabriel is on the point of accepting, when Reginald roars out "No peace with chaos!" Reginald charges the last poor goblin, and he passes away.

That was it for living creature in the complex. There's a tense moment when they attempt to see what's underneath yellow mold, but there's nothing, and they manage not to rile up the fungus.They make it back to town safely, where Devabriel decides he's had enough of adventuring.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

50 Neutral Effects from that Magical Fountain

Photo by Mitsubishiman
Here are 50 effects for a magical fountain to use in your D&D campaign. The intention is for them to be neither positive nor negative, but to be interesting. I think 21 is my favorite.

1. Voice sounds like you inhaled too much helium
2. Gender swap!
3. Turn purple
4. You believe you are a character in a role-playing game
5. Any time a magical effect hits you, you give off a burst of fireworks
6. Everything you eat tastes like peppermint
7. You become irresistible to teenagers until the next time you bathe
8. You are unable to recognize your own name
9. Flowers sprout from your ears
10. All your hair falls out
11. You expand like a balloon, with your equipment. You tend to float away if you don't pay attention
12. Your beard immediately grow to two feet long
13. The stars in the heavens are visible to you, even during the day. Even underground. Unless you go too deep, then the stars of the underworld appear to you.
14. Your clothes all disappear. You find them in your backpack, cleaned and neatly folded.
15. All conversation seems to you to be in song, like you're in a musical.
16. Temporarily learn the speech of trees. You feel a mild compulsion to do what they tell you to.
17. You start to glow. No, literally glow.
18. You can touch any piece of cloth and know who wove it
19. Facial features float around surface of face for 1d6 turns, reset to normal after that.
20. You gain a hat. Roll here.
21. 3d6 extra-dimensional salmon leap out of the fountain, and into a hitherto unknown "salmon portal" in your backpack
22. All of your hair is replaced by steel wire
23. You are polymorphed into yourself. You feel vaguely uncomfortable
24. You think you are communing with your god, but you're actually just talking to yourself
25. You gain the dress and mannerisms of a goth
26. You are sent two minutes into the future
27. Your sense of color is scrambled -- see all colors as a different color
28. Change race -- as in, to/from black, white, 'middle-eastern', etc.
29. Blessed by St. Palmatius, patron of butchers. +1 to rolls to make charcuterie.
30. Become mildly magnetic. Doesn't affect large objects, but nails are attracted to you. +1 to reaction rolls with iron golems
31. A glowing object follows you around and gives you utterly unnecessary advice. Has the voice of your mother. If you're married, save vs. spell or it's the voice of your mother-in-law
32. Become religiously fervent
33. All metal you touch turns to chitin
34. Spirit journey: basically an adventure within the adventure that gives you some great insight. Perhaps only into yourself
35. Voice becomes impressive and booming
36. Ears become relatively smaller
37. You understand you are a character in a role-playing game. Philosophically this changes everything. Practically? Not so much.
38. You can communicate telepathically with one other random member of the party. They must make a saving throw each time or freak out
39. Can speak the language of fish for one week
40. You learn the location of the nearest gem
41. You cannot hear what other people are saying to you. Instead, their words appear above their heads in rebus form
42. You smell stale tobacco wherever you go
43. You smell of stale tobacco wherever you go
44. A minor demon appears on your shoulder and gives bad advice. Disappears if attacked, only to reappear 1d4 rounds later
45. You gain a random tattoo in the small of your back
46. The name of your most recent lover appears tattooed on your arm
47. All beer tastes like wine, and vice versa
48. To you, everyone looks like they are undead -- your party member all look like skeletons and zombies now!
49. You believe you have the head of a fish
50. You gain the ability to measure spices and similar products by hand, exactly

Thanks to the many Google+ peeps who contributed to this!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Caelwyd, Bailiff of Threshold

Image by Keyade, at DeviantArt
Caelwyd is a Sorceror-Champion (seventh-level Elven Spellsword), and the bailiff of Threshold. He is cunning and ambitious, and it is rumored that he has used less than savory methods to gain his current post. Not openly, of course. He first came to prominence as the only surviving member of an adventuring party that was exploring a maze of barrows. There is currently no known evidence that he wishes to replace Hosok Tere as mayor of Threshold.

Caelwyd. Level 7 Elven Spellsword. HP: 32 AC: 7 S 16 I 16 W 9 D 14 C 9 C 14 Al C Spells: (3/2/2/1) Charm Person, Magic Missile, Shield, Detect Magic, Sleep; Detect Invisible, ESP, Invisibility, Mirror Image; Clairvoyance, Hold Person, Infravision; Charm Monster, Dimension Door. TT: H; Wand of Magic Missiles, Sword +3, Chain Mail +3

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lady Miloslava Sved

Lady Miloslava Sved is the baroness who rules the lands surrounding Threshold. She is a level 5 Fighter and lives 15 miles northwest of Threshold. Her husband died five years ago in a goblin raid, and, being childless, she inherited the barony from him. She is a stoic noblewoman, whose organizational skills have served the barony well. She is also known for her refined elegance. She does not get along with Hosok Tere, considering him an ill-mannered buffoon.

Lady Miloslava Sved. F5. S 14 I 10 W 10 D 9 C 9 Ch 13.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Random Event Table

I stole, shamelessly, the following table from Beedo. He designed it, as far as I can tell, off of the Rules Cyclopedia realms event table, altered for his Norsemen on a lonely isle Black City campaign. So I've taken some of the entries that make less sense for Goblin Wars! and rewritten them, as well as changing the description of many of the events I've picked. I've used it to generate future events to keep the PCs on their toes.

Monday, October 21, 2013


As part of the weather project, I want to treat wind speed similar to the way I did temperature. That is, as a description rather than a specific number. I picked the number off the top of my head, but looking at the Beaufort Scale, they seem to map fairly well.

13+ Breezy Double range penalty
18+ Windy -1 to missile attacks, double range penalty
25+ Gusty -4 to missile attacks, triple range penalty
40+ Gale No missile attacks, half movement

I didn't include anything seriously dangerous, because that's not likely to happen naturally, and magic tornadoes will be dealt with using the rules for that spell.

Weather Systems

I want to have weather in the Goblin Wars campaign, even though it'll probably be more important in the next campaign, "Fantasy Pommerania". The most realistic way of doing this is to steal weather from a comparable real world location. Morachi is at the end of a long bay, and at a moderately high latitude, so I chose Portland, OR. I started off copying down high, low, precipitation, and wind speed, but I want three years of data, and that's going to take forever. So instead, I'm just going to note a rough description of the temperature, the precipitation (including cloudy, etc.), and any special details. I also want the temperature to have some effect. I borrowed some of the names of temperature ranges from Alex, but my chart is not as detailed as his.

Blazing  > 100 Characters wearing chain mail or heavier armor take -1 to d20 rolls and must rest more often
Hot       75-99 Characters wearing chain mail or heavier armor must rest more often
Pleasant 55-75 No effect
Cool     40-55  No effect
Chilly    32-40  Characters not dressed for cold weather take -1 to d20 rolls
Cold     20-32  Characters not dressed for cold weather take -1 to d20 rolls and cannot recover spells
Polar     <  20   As above, but requires magic to stay warm

The ability to sleep well (ie, recover spells) is dependent on whether the temperature dips below 32. As always, I'm happy for advice, especially on whether more effects or different ones are warranted.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Mayor Hosok Tere

Hosok Tere is the mayor of Threshold. Once an adventurer, he retired in order to spend more time with his books. He studied at the fighter's college in Pechen, where he was known to get in to loud arguments with the fellow students. He fought in the war between Fogelon and Morachi, achieving great success as the leader of a small band of adventurer's known as the Red Anglers. After the war, he retired to Threshold, taking up the mantle of mayor from the local lord, a friend from his days in Pechen. He is very demanding of his social inferiors and does not suffer fools gladly. He leaves most of the day to day work in the hands of Caelwyd, his bailiff.

Hosok Tere. Fighter 9. S: 16 I: 16 W: 10 D: 12 C: 13 C: 14

[Hosok Tere is: Scholarly, loud, and demanding.]

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

More magic swords!

Shamelessly stolen from Reynaldo Madrinan, with some edits.

Mockery of Honor - Lady Korinne Loras was a knight of Solaria, and in charge of an expedition to Morachi to retrieve the Fulcrum of Winter and sworn to bring it back to Solarium. When she defeated the mummified guardians of the Fulcrum, however, she turned on her companions, using the power of the Fulcrum to kill them all. She attempted to use the Fulcrum to replace Koschei as prince of winter. Koschei won that battle, but the Fulcrum was lost. Stained with the betrayal of a once great knight, this +2 broadsword affords its master a +2 bonus to all saving throws and immunity to all forms of fear and disease. It glimmers softly in the presence of evil and drips fresh gore when near someone truly good.

 Discordant Razor - This weapon's movements seem wild and erratic, no matter how skilled the wielder happens to be. Being struck by the sword further confuses the target, who must succeed a saving throw versus spell or have their next action altered negatively by the Razor's power. Victims of this ability will preform in the exact opposite manner of their intent. This sword is a chaotic vorpal sword often wielded by champions of chaos.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

5 Intelligent Swords

In Arden Est, intelligent swords are created when their owner perishes and his or her soul, rather than passing on, inhabits the weapon they bear instead. Here are five such swords:

'Vajra', Sword +1, light 30' radius, INT 9, EGO 3, AL L, speaks through empathy.
Detects evil, invisible or hidden, and traps.
Vajra was owned by an enthusiastic, but none too bright, cleric of Fayon named Marcus. Marcus desperately wanted to be an adventurer, but his order, fearing for him in his foolishness, attempted to dissuade him. When he would not be dissuaded, they gave him a magic sword that shed light, hoping that it would light his way. Sadly, Marcus fell in with the Family, a mafioso type of thieves guild that Marcus thought was just a normal family business. While attempting to retrieve a golden falcon for them from a tomb, Marcus was killed by a pit trap.

'Almace', Sword +1, luck blade, 2 wishes, INT 9, EGO 5, AL L, speaks through empathy
Detects traps, metals, and invisible or hidden.
Chris was a halfling thief who often performed heists far beyond his ability. He attributed his success to skill, but in fact, he was always merely incredibly lucky. His luck ran out when the mound of rubies he was climbing turned out to be a red dragon, who incinerated him.
'Gram', Sword +1, +2 vs. spell-casters, INT 7, EGO 10, AL C, speaks through empathy
Detects magic
'Gram' was the blade of a barbarian named Gram who hated magic-users. Whenever the wielder of this blade is in the presence of a wizard, she feels a compulsion to slay them. Gram left a streak of dead witches and warlocks throughout Fogelon, until a wizard named Wilhelm proved to be too much for him.

'Skofnung', Sword +3, vorpal, INT 12, EGO 6, AL L, speaks Common, Morachi, Dwarven, and Thyranian, can read languages. Detects magic and invisible. Can levitate the bearer for 15 turns.
'Skofnung' was wielded by Thorkel, a warrior from the early days of the Solarian Empire. Thorkel led a band of barbarians against the attempts of Solaria to expand into Fogelon, but he was eventually slain when a Solarian mage summoned an invisible stalker to assassinate him.
'Gallowglass', 2-H Sword +1, +3 vs. undead, INT 8, EGO 6, AL L
Detects secret doors, traps.
Reed was a famed tomb robber, best known for a legendary set of thieves' tools. He commissioned Gallowglass to help him defeat the undead who tended to guard the more lucrative of these tombs. His friend, the sage Zakarios, worked with him on a translation of the epic story of the defeat of the lich king of Surash-Knaak, leading them to believe they knew where the lich king, and his treasure, was interred. They were correct: however, they did not know that the tomb was guarded by a massive iron golem. Zakarios escaped with the sword containing the soul of his friend, but himself was killed by bandits shortly thereafter.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

d30 Challenge Favorite Low-level Monster

I'm mostly writing because I saw someone say 'bandits'. No! Bad DM! Bandits are boring. They walk up, take some of your money, and leave you alone, because they are rational creatures that don't want to risk death. Goblins are fun little murder demons with sharp pointy teeth. THAT'S interesting. There's a bunch of different ways you can go with it, too. My goblins are sort of the seedy underbelly of faerie and chaos, closely related to things that go bump in the night (mental note: find a way to use bugbears). But those don't have to be your goblins. Maybe yours speak backwards and walk on ceilings. Maybe yours are actually plants. Maybe yours steal babies to feed to bugbears. But that's all more fun than "Give me your wallet."

Monday, September 9, 2013

Gauntlet of Law

The Gauntlet of Law was worn by Haradon, doomed emperor of Solaria, in his fight against the demons in the Second Demon War. It gives the wearer a permanent 'protection from chaos' and +1 to hit.

d30 Challenge: Favorite Character

Dark ranger by Galligi
I've already talked about, and will undoubtedly continue to talk about, my favorite characters, so let me bring up one I was unlikely to in other contexts: Alkaline. (I had a habit in the 80s of naming characters after batteries...) Alkaline was a 2nd edition ranger who is the closest I've come to playing a tragic hero. In his case, his tragic flaw was arrogance, and, in circumstances I can't recall, eventually fell, becoming a Chaotic Neutral fighter. Pride goeth before the fall, they say...

Saturday, September 7, 2013

House Rules on Proficiencies

I realized last Wednesday that I don't have a good grasp on what different proficiencies do, particularly those not likely to be taken by wizards. So I'm looking through the relevant chapter to see if I can't get some idea on how they work. As I was doing so, I came across the bribery proficiency, and decided to change it a little.

Bribery: As written, this proficiency allows the PC to offer bribes, with bonuses based on the size of the bribe. Since I want any PC to be able to offer a bribe, I need to amend this a little. Now, when offering a bribe, any character can gain a +1, +2, or +3 to the reaction roll for bribes equal to a day's wages, a week's wages, and a month's wages, respectively. But if you take the proficiency, you get double the bonus.

d30 Challenge: Favorite Edition

I know I started out with BECMI, played 2nd Edition for years, and I'm currently loving ACKS, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say 3.5 was my favorite edition. Why? Because 3.5 is why I'm playing D&D today. I played 2nd Edition all through high school, but I barely played any D&D at all in college. I'm not sure why -- certainly most of my gaming group was still in the area. I think on the one hand, the Skills & Powers type books ("2.5") turned me off of the game, and on the other, I was just playing more board games. I wonder what the guys I knew back then would say.

But a few years into grad school, I was talking with a friend of mine who mentioned that he had been hearing great things about 3.5. Apparently, it was a streamlined and rationalized game, much better than the old clunky systems we played in our youth. In a fortuitous coincidence, I was going to be back in Grand Rapids for the summer, and a fellow grad student was going to be there as well, willing to DM for us. James the Lesser was born, and we enjoyed ourselves greatly. I never really found a gaming group in South Bend, but when I got to law school, I found a thriving Living Greyhawk community in and around St. Louis, as well as a number of fellow law students to play with, and I haven't looked back since.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Rumors following session beta

While celebrating your exploits against the goblins, you overhear a group of adventurers at the next table. Apparently, another party took out a nest of giant carnivorous flies. Apparently the porcelain frog they found was sold for 500gp! On the other hand, it seems like no one was brave enough to go after the crab spiders.

d30 Challenge: Favorite Deity

A bust of Fayon. (Actually Ptolemy II.)
So, I have to mention Fayon first. He's been the chief god of all of my homebrews, so has a lot of lore built up around him. His portfolio is justice, wise rulership, and barbers. As I mentioned the other day, he was a character of mine from the 80s who eventually, through the dynast path, became an immortal. There's a bit of backstory that I'm not going to reveal so I don't spoil my players, but there's one thing you might be wondering. Why barbers? Well, I've always liked the idea of having gods wandering around the setting, like Fizban, but never really liked the character. I played around with a few ideas, but I think I've stuck with the idea that he likes taking the form of a traveling barber. So there you have it.
I'd be remiss, though, if I didn't mention my favorite canonical deity, St. Cuthbert. When I first heard of him, I thought it was a fantastic idea. An old school Catholic guy wandering around Greyhawk? Sign me up! Plus, the idea of a god carrying around a cudgel is just great. As far as it has affected my campaign, it got me around a limitation on the number of deities. For a while, I've had a pretty hard cap of nine major deities. It's a good number to have -- enough for some diversity, but not so many you couldn't keep track of them. But then one of my players wanted to play an assassin, and I decided that the church should have an order of assassins. But it didn't fit the portfolio of any of the existing gods, so what to do? Well, that's how Saint Carino was born, the first known saint of Arden Est.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Goblin Wars! Session Beta

Reginald went back to town and brought his friend Gilbert to the temple. Blinded as he was, Gilbert decided to retire from the adventuring life, and Reginald vowed that he would take care of Gilbert for the rest of his life. But he is short on gold right now, so back to adventuring it is. Reginald went back to Karolina, and told her that he had killed most of the goblins, but some still remained. "Well, you had better finish up, hadn't you?" was the law-woman's reply.

That's wasn't all that was going on in Threshold, though. Rumors were circling that a group of gnomes had been ambushed by giant carnivorous flies in the hills northwest of town. And a halfling, the lone survivor of his party, reported on a group of crab spiders that killed all of his friends. Reginald knew however where his duty lay, and searched for companions to return to the goblin spawning pit. He found two -- a barbarian (Huge) and a thief (Snit).

They went to the cave, and Reginald suggested they follow the same path as last time. The antechamber was still empty, but when they went down the stairs, they found four goblins in the breeding room. Three of them were still dripping with goo from the breeding pit! The party killed them without mercy, and then proceeded to the last chamber in the complex, where they were finally able to exterminate the goblins from this set of caves. Returning to Karolina, she thanked the party brusquely and paid them their gold: 100 gp each, and 50 gp for the henchman.

Goblin Wars: Session Alpha (reposted to give context for this week's session)

We were down a player last night, and, except for the killing of a hydra, had important plot stuff to do. So I ran a one shot in Morachi.

Jeb and George were down on their luck. Half the population of Threshold was an adventurer, it seemed, so pickpocketing was not a safe profession. But they weren't the sorts to be any good in a fight, either, so dungeoneering was out. That is, unless they found some mooks to do the fighting for them. That was where Reginald and Gilbert came in.

Jeb spotted Reginald in a corner of the Wailing Whistle. The imposing paladin was hard to miss, and seemed to be the perfect mark. He sent his younger brother George over to propose a plan. "Pardon sir. My brother and I are experienced treasure hunters, needing only a couple of strong men like you and your manservant to aid us." Jeb had gone to the Sheriff's assistant, Karolina Nmec, about jobs only a few hours before. "The law of this town has tasked us with driving out some goblins who seek to establish a spawning den near this very town! With your aid, this evil will not be able to stand against us." Standing behind his brother, Jeb's eyes glinted with the thought of the treasure they would have once the goblins and the men of faith killed each other.

And so the four men (and a mule) found themselves standing in front of a narrow cave mouth, looking inside. The cleric, Gilbert, lit a torch and led the way. The cave, only being recently occupied by the goblins, was merely dank rather than fetid, and fairly dry. The torchlight flickered, and as the group explored it revealed two exits from the chamber. Jeb heard some noise from the right-ward corridor, and the party decided to move that way to head off any trouble that might sneak behind them.

The next room was large enough that the torch could not illuminate its entirety. The two thieves fanned out, hoping to catch any potential residents in a flank, when an arrow bounced off Gilbert's armor. Goblins! cried Reginald, and the men of faith charged forward as the thieves lobbed arrows from behind them. The goblins fell quickly before Reginald's blade.

Exploring the room revealed nothing more than a set of roughly hewn stairs. The room felt danker and closer near them, and George grew apprehensive. Using his ten-foot pole, he prodded at each step before he would put his weight on it, but each step held. As the party edged into the room below, two arrows leaped from the darkness, and this time the goblins aim was truer -- Gilbert was hit. Fortunately it was only a scratch, and battle was joined.

For whatever reason, though, this battle was not as smooth. The first swings of Reginald and Gilbert failed to give the goblins more than superficial injuries. And without the precision necessary to fire into a melee, Jeb and George were forced to engage the goblins in hand to hand. This was when tragedy struck. A massive goblin the size of an average human appeared from behind his minions, and struck George down with a single blow to the head. Reginald turned to face the champion as Jeb and Gilbert tried to winnow the ranks of the remaining goblins.

Reginald managed to thrust his blade clean through the chest of the goblin champion, but not before one of the archers put an arrow through Jeb's heart. The last goblin squeaked as Reginald turned towards him, and with a desperate blow, slashed Gilbert across the eyes.

Reginald rushed to the side of his friend. Life was leaving Gilbert swiftly, but with a swift prayer to Fayon, Reginald laid his hands on Gilbert, bringing him back from the edge. But noise coming from a corner of the cavern reminded them that these were not necessarily the last goblins here. The two men of faith gathered the goblin's coins and hurried out of the den the way they came.

d30 Challenge: Favorite Set of Dice

Spherical Cube, by Kaptain Kobold
Do people really have favorite sets of dice? I certainly don't, though I have a soft spot for a particular d20 that always seems to roll well. But my favorite die is an orange spherical d6 I picked up a while ago. It's a sphere, but inside there is a set of grooves and a ball bearing, such that it will come to rest on a number just like a cubic die. It's not really practical in play, but I think it's pretty neat.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Russian: Malyshev. Water. 1910.
% In Lair: 25%
Dungeon Enc: Gang (2d4) / Lair (1 warband)
Wilderness Enc: Warband (1d4 gangs) / Village (1d10 warbands)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 3 + 1**
Attacks: 1 (weapon)
Damage: 1d4+1 or 1d6+1
Save: F3
Morale: +2
Treasure Type: H (per warband)
XP: 135

Vodyanoi appear to be large, portly, men with large, soggy beards, but they are in fact made of water, and can be recognized by the pools of water that tend to appear around their feet. They are the chief soldiers and minions of Koschei the deathless, fey prince of winter. They are affable and friendly if it does not interfere with their mission, but are completely loyal to Koschei.

In combat they normally wield daggers, doing 1d4+1 points of damage, but if it is bitterly cold out, the daggers gain a coating of ice, and deal 1d6+1 point of damage. Vodyanoi can breath water, and can cast control water as a 5th level magic-user. Often, a vodyanoi in the water will attempt to grab a victim and drown him; they gain +2 to grapple attempts while in the water. The can also summon fish, either 1d4 attack fish, or a cloud of fish that acts as a wall of smoke.

Vodyanoi lair in rivers and lakes, and, to the extent Koschei allows it, will give the local community fish in exchange for propitiation. They especially like pearls. Each gang is led by a vodyanoi zakone, a larger vodyanoi with AC 5, 4+1 HD, and a spear doing 1d6+1/1d8+1 damage. Each warband is led by a sub-boyar, with AC 6, 5+1 HD, and a spear doing 1d6+3/1d8+3 damage. There is also a 25% chance that there will be a koldun, who has the stats of a normal vodanyoi, but 1d4 wizard levels. Each village is led by a boyar, AC 7, 7+2 HD, and a spear doing 1d6+5/1d8+5. There is also always a koldun with 1d6 wizard levels in each village.

Urban Vodyanoi are vodyanoi who have left the traditional habitat of streams and lakes, and moved to the city. There they can often be found working for the local theives guild. They have learned to alter their features to blend in; those meeting them outside of combat do not remember such encounters unless they save vs. spell or the vodyanoi wishes.