Monday, December 31, 2012

Board Game Review: Shadows Over Camelot

Sunday last week, as well as yesterday, I went out to the local English used bookstore/cafe to play board games.  I haven't made it out to a board game meet-up in a long time, and the Busan Board Game club has now climbed up to 50 members on the Facebook page.  It's become a thing.

Anyway, Josh is back in town and he brought a few games, and Bill took advantage of sales on an internet vendor's site and bought a bunch of new games as well.  So I had the chance to play five new (to me at least) games.

The first game we played was Shadows Over Camelot, by Days of Wonder.  This is a cooperative game with an (obviously) Arthurian theme.  The object is for the various knights of the Round Table to go on quests.  Success results in earning white swords to put on the table.  Failure gains black swords.  If the table is full and there are more black swords (or twelve catapults are placed in front of Camelot by the besiegers), the players lose.  Earn 7 or more white swords before there are 12 catapults and the players win.

The wrinkle in the game comes from the Traitor mechanic, which we actually didn't use last week because it was a first run sort of game to learn the rules.  We had planned to play the full game yesterday, but unfortunately Josh couldn't make it.  Anyway, in the full game, one player could possibly be a traitor, trying to sabotage the various quests.

Sidenote: Josh, if you're reading this, and you've got time to play this week, I'm on vacation.  Let's make it happen.

The physical components are really high quality, including some nice plastic figures for the Knights, Saxons and Picts, and the catapults.  DoW even produces and sells the knight figures separately and I may pick up that set just to use for gaming.  They're larger than normal gaming minis, but then my collection is fairly haphazard anyway.  The boards (main board and various side quest boards) all look nice, and the cards are nicely sized as well (unlike, say, Arkham Horror, which has so many cards that they needed to make them all tiny).

I'd been waiting for a chance to play this game for several years.  I had even talked about it on my radio show - way back when I had a radio show.  I wasn't disappointed.  Even playing it knowing there wasn't a traitor, it was fun and challenging.  We managed to win, but it wasn't a given.  If you're in to cooperative board games, it's definitely worth trying out.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Beast of the Week: Father Time

Here it is folks, the final one!  52 weeks, and 52 new monsters for D&D.  I'll try to get the .pdf compilation ready over my vacation (this coming week).

Anyway, for the end of the year, here's Father Time.

Father Time*
AC: -2 (22)
HD: 15+2***
Move: 120 (40)
Attacks: 1 weapon or 1 touch
Damage: by weapon+3/aging
No. Appearing: 1 (1)
Save As: F15
Morale: 10
Treasure Type: H
Alignment: Neutral
XP: 4200

Father Times are grizzled old men with long flowing beards, typically wearing somber hooded robes and carrying a scythe.*  They are only harmed by magical weapons and spells, and are immune to spells of 3rd level or less.  In combat, they may attack with their scythe or may touch a target, causing either 10-40 years of aging (as a Ghost), or 10 years of reversed aging (as a potion of longevity).  They may also use the following spells as a 15th level caster:  Haste/Slow, Dispel Magic at will, Timestop 1/Turn, Disintegrate, Teleport 3/day.  Any creature slain by aging cannot be raised by any means short of a Wish spell.  Any creature slain by reverse aging transforms into a Baby New Year, a cherub-like sprite with 1HD but similar resistances and spell powers as a Father Time.  If the Father Time is slain but the Babies New Year are not, on the next New Year's Day, one Baby transforms into a new Father Time. 

*treat as a battle axe for systems that don't have it listed and use variable weapon damage, two handed, 1d8 damage

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Stak is Back!

Yes, Thidrek the Sleestak is back in action in Justin's Vaults of Ur campaign.  Last Saturday we had another session, and since Fantasmo the Luchador went to the square circle in the sky, Thidrek returned from his short hiatus.

And with Justin's combination of typical Ur wackiness, Stars Without Number as a base rule-set, and feats for Warriors from Spears of the Dawn, Thidrek now is back in classic naked sleestak form, having ditched the banded mail for his newly improved sleestak reflexes. 

This session, despite inviting numerous other players, the only players were myself, Dean - playing the Venerable Carolus of course, and Jeremy - still chugging away with Borg the Orc Pitfighter.  Ralex the NPC Fighter and Robert's mage Yargrob Elderbob (also being NPCed since Robert couldn't make it) and Yargrob's attack beetle were there as well.

Well, the party was on the shore of the underground river when we left off the last session, trying to remove goo from arms and armor.  Thidrek conveniently washed up on shore.  Since everyone but Thidrek was in bad shape, they decided to rest up.  During Thidrek's watch, he heard lots of noises - yelling, hooting, hollering - and when he went to investigate, he saw lots of strange movement to the west (toward the severed but still living head pillar and giant renegade beetle's lair).  He woke up Ralex and Burg, but after brief consultation decided not to press things. 

During Ralex's watch, undercity dwellers attacked.  One of them was flinging paralytic slime from a sling and Elderbob was hit.  We managed to kill the slinger and the others retreated.  We went on the offensive, with Elder Karl casting striking on Thidrek's crossbow, and the Sleestak using his stealth to try to scout out the underdwellers' tunnels while the rest of the party took care of the screaming heads on the pillar.  Also, the giant renegade beetle's body was there, hacked to pieces and its head atop the pillar.  Must have been what happened on Thidrek's watch.

Anyway, Thidrek got too far ahead of the party and a worm-centaur thing attacked.  One max damage crossbow bolt with striking and one nasty gash from the worm-thing's mantis-like arms sent both parties into a fighting withdrawal.  As the rest of the party caught up, we got to the top (we think) of the tunnels, but found too many branching corridors to feel safe with a blitzkrieg style attack.  We retreated all the way to behind the door we could only open with the magical key. 

After a bit of scouting to see if things were more or less safe, we rested again.  Exploring these tunnels after the rest, we encountered more of the pillar-slime things that killed Fantasmo.  Yargrob was able to communicate with them by name-dropping some of Ur's famous past residents that the party had learned of.  They seemed to be responding.  Little did we know that they were actually trying to herd us into a trap (which they did).

Anyway, we finally came to a room with a large pool of clear liquid.  Unsure, Thidrek decided to test it on his Level 3 chicken (a long story).  The pool was acidic and the chicken lost its head.  The last one, poor thing.  Thidrek and crew will not let its death go for naught.  Thidrek knows the 11 secret herbs and spices, after all...

Anyway, the pool was of course a monster and it attacked, along with the pillar things from all but one of the passages out of the chamber.  With Karl and Yargrob paralyzed, we managed to sever the pseudopods trying to drag them into the water and ran up the unguarded passage... to a dead end.

There was another room with a black water pool.  No other exits.  Looking around, we noticed the eight-pointed star symbol of our magical key on a floor tile.  Popping it in, the pool changed color, showing us a room in another location, as if seen from inside the floor.  After tossing in an iron spike, Borg took the plunge.  We could see him through the portal.  We all came through.  Our last minute plan to pull the key out with us using a length of chain didn't work, however.  We'll need to try to locate another key.

But for now, we're on a small island to the north of the Golden Pyramid (AKA much farther than we've ever been from Fort Low and with lots of hostile territory between us and home) but we're out of the damn tunnels.  To be continued...

Friday, December 21, 2012

Beast of the Week: Chaob

On this day that the Mayans did not predict would be the end of the world, but many people falsely believe that they did (and I'm still here typing this at 20 minutes to midnight local time), how about a Beast inspired by Mayan mythology?  There's not much out there, but a quick Google search netted me the idea.  The Chaob, the four gods of the winds, were said to be able to one day destroy the world.  Sounds appropriate.  Now to turn them into a monster for D&D!

AC: 0 (20)
HD: 5**
Move: 120 (40) fly 480 (160)
Attacks: 2 blows
Damage: 1d10/1d10
No. Appearing: 1d4 (1d4)
Save As: F5
Morale: 9 or more
Treasure Type: B
Alignment: Chaotic
XP: 425

Chaob are transparent, blue humanoid figures from the Elemental Plane of Air.  They are slightly larger than humans, averaging 7' tall.  They can fly naturally at great speed.  In combat, they attack with buffets of wind from their fists.  Each can also use the following magical powers:  Slow 3/day, Ice Storm/Wall 3/day, Hold Monster 1/day, Earthquake 1/week.  When encountered in groups, Chaob tend to be more aggressive.  Reduce reaction rolls by 1 and increase morale by 1 for each chaob in a group beyond the first.  If they do not attack immediately, chaobs can be bargained with to perform services for parties, but only if they can be paid in magic items or art objects of at least 1,000 gp value for each hour of service rendered.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Simple answers

I was reading this article on Time's website about D&D and why it's not more popular than it is.

Of course, they mention the problem of the uninitiated person asking, "So, how do you win?"

In the past, every time I've been asked that question, I went into some paraphrase of Frank Mentzer's Basic Set about how there's no win conditions, you keep playing the same character, blah blah blah. 

Probably lost more players than I gained that way.

From now on, I'm going to give a simple answer whenever I hear that question.

Q: So how do you win?

A: By playing.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Movie Review - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

My wife and I dropped off our son at his grandparents' house this morning and went to an early showing of The Hobbit.  We saw it in 48fps (no choice, a buddy in Japan told me it's only available in standard 24fps there) 2D.  We considered IMAX, but it was IMAX 3D and we are not (as you'd probably guess if you read most of my movie reviews) not fans of 3D, especially for a three hour movie. 

Standard Warning:  Due to the title of this blog, I get lots of web search hits from people wanting to know if there are "curse words" in movies I've reviewed.  Rest assured, parental unit types, this is from Tolkien so there are no curse words in the movie.  That said, this is also from Peter Jackson so there are plenty of lopped off body parts (the reason our 4-year-old stayed behind).

Now on to the review.  I doubt this will be spoiler free, because I assume most of my readership has read the book.  But we'll see.  If I get to the end and didn't spoil anything, I'll delete these sentences.

Did you like Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies?  I sure did.  Yes, they don't follow the books as closely as they could even considering the liberties that need to be taken to transfer a book to film.  If you liked LotR, you'll get more of the same from The Hobbit (at least from this first part). 

Technical stuff first.  The 48fps took a bit of adjusting to.  At first, there were lots of fast camera sweeps and the high frame rate made them very blurry, but my eyes seemed to adjust after a little while.  The images were - how to best describe it? - crisper than a normal 24fps movie.  I wonder if this will indeed become the new standard or not.  It might require higher CGI budgets for romantic comedies to hide all the little blemishes on the actors and actresses! 

The cinematography was gorgeous.  Again, very similar to LotR.  A few locations "in the wild" even seemed like some of the locations from LotR (of course The Shire, Rivendell, and the road between did cover the same path).  The amazing New Zealand landscapes alone make it worth the price of admission IMO.  The fact that we're getting Professor Tolkien's works put up on the big screen in a loving manner is just icing on the cake (OK, hyperbole there, the landscapes are the icing on the Tolkien cake).

Some people have complained that there are too many dwarves and that they aren't all distinguishable.  Well, I say read the book.  Ask me to tell you about the dwarves in The Hobbit (the book) and I can tell you off the top of my head on any given day:
Thorin is the pompous ass
Balin is the resourceful and sensible one
Filli and Killi are the young brash ones who seem to do all the work
Bombur is the fat one
Gloin is... um, Gimli's dad
The rest are there...
Now, as for the fact that many of the dwarves don't look like typical dwarves, this is a good thing!  These dwarves seemed more real by not all having long ZZ Top style beards.  Just like the actors playing hobbits were more or less as varied as typical humans (counting all the extras in Hobbiton in LotR), we see that dwarves are "people" even if they aren't human. 

Now, on to the story.  It's good.  It more or less sticks to the book, and I can see why certain changes were made for the screen.  The pacing was good for an action movie, but this is one of the movie's failings, I think.  The Hobbit is not an action story, it's an adventure story.  PJ added in lots of extra fighting to make it "more exciting" but that's not the sort of story Tokien told.  The Hobbit (the book) really shows JRRT's fondness for Haggard's Alan Quatermain stories.  The basic pacing is travel-explore-action.  By splitting the story into three parts, they felt the need to ramp up the action.  Likely they would have ramped up the action anyway, but if they'd kept it to one or two movies, they could have condensed to just the action scenes if that's the way they wanted it played out.  Oh well, the movie's not perfect, but it was still pretty good.

One good thing about stretching the movie out was that they were able to include some unnecessary but cool scenes, like for instance the Stone Giants.  Of course, PJ kinda overdid it, but it was fun to watch.  Reminiscent of the Moria staircase. 

Another thing they could have done away with was the frame story, with old Bilbo telling Frodo about how Smaug came to Erebor, which is of course shown with Bilbo's narration over it.  Cool, and they kept Smaug mostly off camera - gotta build up excitement for the next installment! - but since we learn all of that stuff in the story as Bilbo learns it, it was kinda unnecessary. 

Some of the other additions, like making Azog the Orc actively hunting down Thorin and Co. and the scenes involving Radagast the Brown and his jack rabbit sled adds more of a sense of continuity for those unfamiliar with the book, I suppose.  It also allows for more fight scenes.  I'm sure that when we get to The Battle of Five Armies and the White Council's battle with the Necromancer, these now apparently extraneous set-ups will pay off.

Despite the flaws, the movie was exciting, beautiful, funny, and moving.  And it's not even a complete story!  While it ended at a fairly good place to end action-wise, with the party just past the Misty Mountains on the borders of Wilderland, as far as the emotional development/character arcs go, it was sort of a lukewarm ending. 

I really enjoyed this first chapter of The Hobbit.  And as I said above, if you enjoyed PJ's take on Middle-Earth in the Lord of the Rings movies, you should enjoy this.  If you didn't like PJ's LotR, you likely won't enjoy this one either.  As for me, Dec. 2013 and "The Desolation of Smaug" can't come soon enough!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Beast of the Week: Tupilaq

Inuit legends give us our Beast for this week.  I had been looking around for a Tolkien-inspired creature because I'm going to see The Hobbit tomorrow, but decided to stick with the winter/cold themed creatures for another week.  The Tupilaq was a magical construct created by Inuit shamans and sent after their enemies.  Sorta like the Invisible Stalker already in D&D, except crafted rather than summoned from another plane.

AC: 3 (17)
HD: 8*
Move: 120 (40) swim 90 (30)
Attacks: 1 bite
Damage: 2d8
No. Appearing: 1 (1)
Save As: F8
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: nil
Alignment: Neutral
XP: 1200

A tupilaq is a magical construct created by the shamanistic Clerics of tribes inhabiting the polar regions.  They have humanoid bodies with pointed heads, bulging eyes, and wide shark-like mouths, and smell of rotting flesh.  The rituals for creating one are known only to these tribesmen, and are not shared with outsiders.  The tupilaq is created from a variety of body parts, hair, skin and bones taken from sea and land animals native to the region, as well as the heart of a human or demi-human child.  A tupilac, once created, will serve its creator by hunting down one victim or group of related victims and killing them.  Tupilaqs can be defeated with spells and magic weapons.  A tupilaq can be turned against its creator by a dispel evil spell.  If the tupilaq fails a Save vs. Spells, its creator becomes its new target.

A Boy and His Beetle

Fantasmo, a 5 minute sketch done before the game started.
Last weekend (yeah, getting behind on these posts, but hey, my grad school stuff is finished now, so for the next two months or so posts may be up!), Justin ran another session of Vaults of Ur.

This time, wanted to try out the Stars Without Number combat rules more, so I made Fantasmo Argento, a masked luchador.  He ended up in the ruins, the rest of his party killed or captured by lizard men, and teamed up with Venerable Carolus (Dean), Borg the Orc (Jeremy), Yargrob Elderbob the Mage (Robert) and Ralex the Warrior (NPC) to continue exploring the tunnels for a way out (the previous session, which I'd missed, left them stranded on the shore of an underground river).

We headed west, thinking that would bring us back to the Hive, and encountered the lair of a Volkswagon Beetle-sized Giant Beetle.  After communicating to it through Hive bug powder and the party's war beetle (Karl doing most of the talking), we sent it on its way to devour the remains of the party's battle in the previous session rather than trying to eat us.  But we had no real useful info from it.

The next cave took us to a room full of bones, with a large pillar with severed heads attached.  Fantasmo stealthily approached, and discovered that the heads were still alive, and watching and listening to the rest of the party back at the entrance.  We were all fairly wary of this, and retreated down the tunnel.

We battled a slime monster of unknown type, burning it to death.  We discovered some fungus that when its spores were inhaled, made the fighting men types' testosterone surge and we all became belligerent.  Burg, under the influence, got into a tussle with Ralex, but the discovery of a large door guarded by two giant iron statues across a bridge quickly ended that.  The statues almost killed Burg, but he escaped across the bridge and we tried other paths.

We found a tomb complex, and luckily (random roll determined that Karl had the key we'd found, not Thidrek - who was back in Fort Low studying languages*) Karl was able to open it.  Inside, there was a room with four stone masks and an altar.  Fantasmo, being a luchador, was immediately drawn to the masks, and having witnessed the power of Karl's stone fist tried one on.  It burned itself against his face, and could not be easily removed.

In the next room, however, we found three strange creatures.  They looked like stone pillars moving across the floor toward us, and atop each was another stone mask.  Well, we sprang into battle, only to find out that two were illusions and the last one was actually made of acidic slime.  Fantasmo had tried to use his fancy lucha on the real one, but found out too late that it was able to burn his arms off.  Adios, Fantasmo!**

Karl's stone fist splattered the creature.  And the party retreated back to the shore, with designs on possibly killing the large beetle to use its shell as a canoe.

To be continued tonight!

Note of Interest: Justin made this dungeon up using the 1E DMG's random dungeon generator.

*Thidrek studying languages was the official story, but I think he was more likely wallowing in Sleestak existential dread, and sniffing fumes from the potion-making being done by Necronal the Cut-Rate Sage to get high.

**First time I've had a character die in I don't know how long.  DM too much, and when I've played in recent years it's often been in systems where it's hard to die.  It felt kinda good to see Fantasmo go down to an interesting death. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

28 years gaming

It's my birthday today.  Number 39.  I've been playing D&D for 28 years now.

My parents sent me an gift card.  Time to think about what to spend it on.  Probably a physical copy of one of the retro-clones (I saw at least the Labyrinth Lord core book through an Amazon vendor). 

The Hobbit also opens here in Korea in two days.  I'm gonna have to wait until Sunday to see it thanks to my busy schedule, but we've got plans laid.  But that's also part of my birthday celebration.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Beast of the Week: Snow Queen

Hans Christian Andersen (and C.S. Lewis who appears to have borrowed from Andersen) provides us with another nice winter-themed monster as we enter the final stretch here on my Beast of the Week feature.  Only 3 more to go after this one, and only last week's one was late by a day. 

Let me tell you, it hasn't been easy trying to come up with a monster that's both new to D&D and provides something other than just a collection of hit points and XP for players to harvest.  I haven't always been able to craft something novel, but I've given it my best shot.  When I've failed to find a way to make the creature an interesting challenge in game, I've hopefully at least given it something cool so that some gamer somewhere will encounter it and enjoy the experience.  But enough blather.  Here's Andersen's Snow Queen for D&D:

Snow Queen
AC: 1 (19)
HD: 9***
Move: 120 (40)
Attacks: 1 kiss
Damage: special
No. Appearing: 1 (1)
Save As: M9
Morale: 7
Treasure Type: G
Alignment: Chaotic
XP: 3000

Snow Queens are tall, beautiful humanoid females, usually with extremely pale skin, white or pale blonde hair, and sky blue or grey eyes.  They can be found in arctic climes, high mountains, or deep in frozen dungeons.  Their manner is haughty and they are easily offended, but if treated with deference they may help adventurers.  Snow Queens refrain from physical combat when they can, preferring to let their minions protect them.  However, they have a magical kiss that they can bestow.  The first kiss causes the target to be affected as the Clerical spell Resist Cold.  A second kiss requires a Save vs. Spells or the target suffers from amnesia and is open to mental domination by the Snow Queen, with a successful Save still resulting in a Charm Person effect.  The third and further kisses require a Save vs. Death Ray or the target dies.  In addition to their magical kiss, Snow Queens can cast spells as a 9th level Magic-User, and may prepare spells from any class's spell lists.

Snow Queens are often served and protected by Chaotic dwarves, wolves and dire wolves, savage humanoids or various cold-based monsters.  They are fond of riding in sleighs pulled by reindeer or polar bears, and their castles are often made of solid ice.

Friday, December 7, 2012

How many baboons...

Thanks to S.P. at How to Succeed in RPGs or Die Trying for linking to this fun little quiz on The Oatmeal.

How many baboons could you take in a fight? (armed only with a giant dildo)
Created by Oatmeal

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A hit and a miss in Ur

Last weekend, the Vaults of Ur game was on a Friday.  Unfortunately for yours truly, I had a dinner engagement with my grad school program's faculty, staff and students.  Actually, not so unfortunate since there was decent if not excellent food, free (cheap Korean) beer, and I got to sit next to and talk to some good looking classmates (just talking, no need to tell my wife on me).

Still, it looks like the session was a lot of fun.  Here's Dean's recap of events:

Two weeks ago our noble heroes stumbled out of the underdark of Ur with their lives and some strange treasure. The erudition of Yargrob Elderbob the young wizard was essential for the puzzling out of the mysterious crystal pyramids, each the size of a baby’s head. Each one could store a spell provided the user could attune himself to it. Happily the scholarly youth did so. Carolus contented himself with a new suit of plate mail who passed on his banded armour to an overjoyed Burg. Thomas the Visionary stayed behind in Fort Low, determined to master one of the crystals.
The Venerable Carolus and his newfound companions feared to reenter the passageways beneath the stockade because of the ominous daytime darkness which now perpetually shrouded it, and because the ghostly mist which they had found seemed too strong. Therefore Carolus took his friends and introduced them to the Hive. There the spider-like Great Minds informed them that the darkness was probably the result of someone tampering with a protective shrine of Law beneath the ruins of Ur. (Many embarrassed noises at that.) The erudition of Yargrob Elderbob the young wizard was essential for much of the puzzling out of the
It was further revealed that Ur had undergone ten cataclysms. The first had torn it from this plane and sent it careening through the multiverse. The last (and eighth) had returned it back to this world. During the eighth cataclysm, eight heroes arose led by magician named Lowfrick. Among them was a priest named Ider who had possessed a stone hand (and so we now know whose coffin we looted many months ago).
Our close friend in the Hive, Forager, informed us that explorers from the Hive have found a building on the underground river but were attacked by swarms of “hell men.” We undertook to exterminate this danger to the Hive and to learn more of the Vaults beneath Ur.
We took a beetle-shell canoe down the river a short way and came to a stone mausoleum with two obelisks depicting the cult of the same god of death whose image we had found many months ago in other nearby passageways. Burg the Orc and Ralex the veteran fighter muscled open the stone doors. Inside we found two three stone chambers two of which were full of burial niches. The hell creatures had torn apart all of the swathed corpses to eat them, but being chaos mutated brutes they had left numerous small treasures.
Suddenly a splash reminded the party that the canoe was unguarded. Rushing back, we were attacked by several ravening mutants and two large worms with mutated human heads. Retreating into a small room, we managed to slay all the smaller creatures despite suffering many grievous wounds. At the stone jetty once more, the party realized that the canoe had drifted downstream. The full armour of most of the party prevented swimming back to the Hive, but the cleverness and nimble clambering of Yargrob’s beetle friend passed a rope across to a nearby cave mouth which was hoped to lead back. We shall find out the next time…
So cool stuff happened, monsters were fought, loot was gained, and puzzles were solved.  I'll try hard not to miss the next session.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Beast of the Week (overdue): Jack Frost

A day late, but I'll post another beastie later this week and all will be square.

Winter is coming!  And while I'm not going to be giving you stats for George R.R. Martin's White Walkers, I will give you a nice wintery monster to hopefully add some interest to your games in the next couple of months.

Jack Frost
AC: 6 (14)
HD: 3*
Move: 120 (40) Fly 150 (50)
Attacks: 1 breath
Damage: 1d8+paralysis
No. Appearing: 1d6 (1d10)
Save As: E3
Morale: 8
Treasure Type: B
Alignment: Chaotic
XP: 50

Jack Frosts are small fey creatures, related to pixies and sprites and similar to them in appearance.  They are typically only encountered in the wintertime, in arctic climates, or in high snow-capped mountains.   They are mischievous, and like to torment anyone that strays out in the cold.  In combat, they breathe frosty air on opponents (needing a normal hit roll).  Those hit by their breath must Save vs. Paralysis or be held motionless by a coating of ice for 1d6 Rounds.  Jack Frosts are immune to cold-based attacks, and are so chilly that they naturally resist fire (as the ring).  Once per day, three Jack Frosts working together can cast an ice storm (as the spell, caster level 7).

Ur Overdue

Serendipity strikes.  We played double sessions of Ur on Nov. 16th and 17th.  I wrote up the first session already.  But I still haven't written the second.  Well, I was thinking I should as I walked home tonight.  The reason I haven't yet is mostly due to grad school stuff, and a bit to family stuff.  Anyway, Dean sent me a message on Facebook asking if I intended to do it.  I also got an email from a professor telling me that she didn't need me to move up my final presentation to this Wednesday, I can go ahead and do it next week as scheduled.

And now that I've gotten all of that boring stuff that you don't care about out of the way, I can try to piece my fragmented memories of the session together and come up with a boring session report that you don't care about either!*  Huzzah for self-deprecation!

Anyway, our experiment was using Stars Without Number for classes and skills, but playing it in a fantasy setting (Ur, of course).  In the second session, we had Justin of course as the DM, Dean playing Venerable Karl the Cleric, Jeremy playing Burg the Orc pitfighter, myself playing Thomas the Visionary (a Mage using the Dungeons Without Number variant rules from Sine Nomine's blog) from the first session.  We were also joined by two fairly recent members of the Busan Gamers, Derek playing an Expert (thief) Bobdole, and Robert playing Yargrob Elderbob, another Mage (who happens to have the exact same spells as Thomas - Read Languages and Shield, and a similar skill set as well!).  Alexei returned at long last as Maya Culpar the Elf from Beyond the Veil (no Elves in Ur, they're Orc Magi) along with two spearmen and two torchbearers, and a shifty Halfling (also not native to Ur).   Someone had bought another War Beetle as well.  So we had a big group.  [Comments about 20+ member expeditions in Gygax and Arneson's game tables back in the '70s did happen.]

We went back to the bandit fort we'd explored in the previous evening's session.  We went down in the tunnels after a bit of fruitless exploration.  Almost immediately, we had vague impressions of being watched - seeing movement just in the corner of the eye, that sort of thing.  We also got attacked by a pair of zombie-octoapes (one the poor lost chap Karl had spent so much time talking to the previous session) but managed to subdue them.  I believe we lost a red shirt to the apes (maybe two?). 

There was a secret door in the room, and following it we found a room with an altar to the "so uber-Lawful it hurts" deity Starros in it.  Through the next door was a corridor with another door directly facing this one. 

Noticing the shadowy presence again, we raced north only to find nothing, and then sensed it to the south.  We went south next, and after getting trapped behind a portcullis and flinging spears trap (I think it was the Halfling that lost it here, maybe the other red shirt as well?) we found a room  with large glowing crystals on a table and some zombies.  Karl managed to Turn the zombies and keep them at bay long enough for us to loot the crystals and find a side-room with nothing useful inside.

Next, the door in the corridor led us to a room with an ornate suit of armor and a large sarcophagus.  Messing around in the room caused a misty ghost to materialize.  It attacked Karl, who didn't have one of the glowing stones, aging him by five years.  It also possessed our thief Bobdole briefly and tried to get him to don the armor.  Holy water cured him of that.  Not being able to do much, we retreated. 

The crystals apparently are some sort of spell-storage devices.  I missed the session this past weekend, but apparently everyone went back to The Hive.  Dean posted a report of that game.  I'll copy it here later.

Right now, I'm a Beast of the Week late (first one I've missed all year, but hey, grad school takes priority).

*I'm actually continually surprised at the amount of people still reading this blog the past two years, and hope I can at least keep treading water as I transition from being a full-time employee and Masters student with better stuff to do than blog into a full-time employee and Ph.D. student with no time for anything at all.