Thursday, May 30, 2013

A slight change

For a few months now, the old blog has been getting lots of anonymous spam comments linking to websites that are probably fronts for phishing, viruses, or something.  I'm sick of having to clear out these posts every other day or so.

So I've disabled anonymous posting of comments.

Josh, you're the only regular anonymous poster that I have.  Sorry.  If there's something you want to say, shoot me an email or PM me on Facebook and I'll repost it here for you if you want.

In other news, Chanbara waits patiently while I write a couple of papers for grad school.

Blogging about interesting game stuff waits as well.

Oh, and apparently Jack Vance wasn't dead already, but he is now.  Bummer of sorts.  Maybe when I work through my current stack of Carl Sagan, Poul Anderson, Joseph Campbell and Terry Brooks (hey, it was dirt cheap at the used English book store/cafe here in Busan - don't judge me!), and the next semester's worth of TESOL/SLA readings, I'll try out some more Vance.  I really enjoyed the Dying Earth books.  I'd like to read some of his other works.

A strange confluence

Last night, in one of my Ph.D classes, our professor showed us part of this TED Talk while discussing the limits of copyright/IP law with regards to creating English teaching materials or having our students get involved in creating similar content and then releasing it online as a teaching tool. 

And the whole time, I was thinking, "That's so OSR."  It's also very "Indie RPG."  As Gygax famously said, "Why should we do any more of your imagining for you?"

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Content coming soon!

Well, we've recovered all (or almost all anyway) of our data.  Now I'm sorting it out, reinstalling various programs, and the like. 

Plus, it's the end of the semester and I've got a couple of papers to write.

Not much gaming going on, but don't fret, gaming content will be back up on the blog soon!

As long as Kim Jeong-Un doesn't nuke Busan, that is...

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Two nights ago, we had a catastrophic hard drive failure on our PC.  And for some reason, our external hard drive had stopped automatically saving a backup over a year ago and we didn't notice.  So we've possibly lost a year plus worth of data.

My wife will take the old hard drive to a shop tomorrow and they'll see what they can salvage.

Back up your data, folks!  If you're like me, you always think about it when you're away from the computer, and when you get to the computer you aren't thinking about it anymore.

Anyway, for those of you hoping to see Chanbara released sometime this decade, don't worry, all of those files are on my netbook.  I've probably lost a few recently downloaded pictures (pending recovery operations tomorrow) but since they were all downloaded from the internet, I'm sure I can find them, or suitable replacements, again.

Once again, hurray for the public domain!

Anyway, back to work.  I've got to clear off enough space from our external hard drive for them to put all the data on if they can recover everything.

Update - We got all of our data.  Now I've got to spend the rest of the weekend getting the new hard drive and the external hard drive sorted out, and finish downloading and installing the programs we lost.  Fun fun!  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Incident on Outer Reach

Outer Reach, the scummy hive of wretched villainy, in the Dramune System, the Frontier.  These are the wanderings of a band of jaded mercenaries, on a continuing mission to get more cash, bigger guns, seek out new enemies and kill them.  

It is a time of great unrest.  Rebel forces, striking from a hidden base, have been a thorn in the side of Governor Cohaagen Tulving.  And there are two groups of rebels, the Rebels, and the Techno-Warriors, who have a small army of combat robots and a handful of 50m tall (yes, Godzilla-sized) robots as well.  And of course, the Sathar have landed!  Not to mention all the criminal elements on the planet.

This is what happens when I pull out a set of adventures I made for Star Frontiers roughly 25 years ago, and run it for my current group of players.  We spend a few days actually getting them familiar enough with the rules to make their characters, and discussing any special needs they might have.

Justin - Krueger, a 7 1/2' tall human techie, former Techno-Warrior, with a bracing exoskeleton (flavor only) because of his frail physical condition.  Had all tech skills plus demolitions and environmental.

Jeremy - Z.E.D., an AI robot (actually full conversion cyborg, think robocop without even the lips, just half a human brain inside a robotic shell).  Combat specialized (Beam, Projectile, Melee weapons, plus Environmental) and packing a bladed gauntlet (sword) and needler pistol.

Rick - Mason Hawke, a human ex-military sniper, with his mouth sewn shut and a neural-interface robotic hawk mounted on his shoulder that talks for him (again just for flavor, and everyone calls a parrot).  Purely a military man (Projectile and Melee weapon skills only).

Dean - Sister Pompeius Izabelle Giulius, 9-year old Bene Gesserit human, just beginning her training in all that Bene Gesserit Jazz (Psycho-Social and Martial Arts skill, plus some special rules for using Intuition as a "power pool" for increasing chances to perform certain actions/rolls) wearing Tibetan monk robes and light-up Hello Kitty sneakers.

Dean actually wasn't able to make it, which may have been a good thing, considering how things played out with the three hard-case mercs that went on the adventure.  Or maybe her calming influence would have changed the dynamic?  Who knows?  

So the PCs decide to hire on with the autocratic governor who controls the mining operations to put down the rebellions, mostly because they assume he's got the deepest pockets.  Gov. Tulving's underling sends them on a mission to track down the hidden Sathar base so the government forces can roll in and wipe them out.  The only real lead they have is that the Sathar arrived during a battle between the government forces and Techno-Warriors that destroyed the city of Glaxon.

Finding some Glaxon refugees after a bit of computer searching, they learn from a refugee that they need to pacify that there are potentially many hypnotized Sathar agents around, and that a Pan Galactic Corporation research facility, Pwason, was shut down but people have reported seeing activity there.

Before going to the research facility, they stop at a military munitions factory and manage to con the commander into loaning them hover cycles and giving them more ammo (but not the rocket launcher they'd hoped for).  Heading to the Pwason Facility on the cycles, they run into an ambush of soldiers (they were Rebels, but the party gunned their engines and left them in the dust rather than stopping to find out).  

They scout out the Pwason facility for a day, watching the eight scientists going about their day doing SCIENCE!!! stuff.  At dinner time, Krueger goes to the lab building to snoop around while ZED and Mason lob doze grenades into the dining hall window.  All but one of the scientists are knocked out, and she opens fire with a shotgun.  She manages to resist needler anaestetic the first time, but after getting a burst shot from Mason, ZED's needlers put her under the second time.

Krueger is meanwhile investigating the scientists' work, finding some strange unknown types of genetic experimentation going on.
Mason decapitates the human woman who resisted, and leaves the corpse there for the others to see when they wake up bound.  The first to come around is a female Vrusk, and Mason takes her into another room while ZED watches over the prisoners.  Mason then tries to get her to talk by telling her that he and ZED saved them from an attack, but waking up tied up next to a dead and disfigured companion and seeing the "rescuers" not untying the other prisoners, she's suspicious and uncooperative.  Mason, with help of Krueger on the chronocom, tricks her into revealing her false PGC contact, Bobward Strumm.  Krueger checks, there's no record of such a man working for Pan Galactic.  Still, the Vrusk refuses to cooperate, so Mason kills her.

The party radios into the military to send some troops to pick up the prisoners.  When they arrive, the medic uses Telol (truth serum) to get them to talk, and lo and behold, yes, they are hypnotized Sathar agents, and reveal the location of the hidden base.  

Mission success!  (sorta)

Anyway, the team took the Sathar agents' armory and got paid by Governor Tulving.  Hopefully I'll be able to run a couple more of these games over the summer.  It was nice to play Star Frontiers again, and while I had to look up more rules than I thought I would, we didn't really have any hitches as far as the rules went.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Guess what?

Guess what the Busan Gamers are gonna be playing tomorrow night?

shamelessly stolen from Larry Elmore's web site

That's right, some Star Frontiers!  Of course, Justin, Jeremy, Rick and Dean are all making their oh so grimdark 40k angsty whatever PCs (well, Dean's playing a 9 year old Bene Gesserit, so he's in the spirit), here's the sorts of things I think of when I think Star Frontiers (besides actual Star Frontiers stuff that is):

Maurice returns!

Space Cowboy, Space Princess

Right back atcha, Cap'n!

We come in peace!

You leave in pieces!

Thanks to Brutorz Bill's Simian Saturdays for this one.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Classes in Chanbara

It's a gameless Saturday night here in Busan, so I created this little graphic to show the class relationships in Chanbara.
Here you see the four main class groups, all twelve classes, and the relationships between the special ability types (maneuvers, tricks, or spells).  The last one may not be so obvious. 

The points of the triangle have classes with only one special ability type: Samurai - Combat Maneuvers; Ninja - Tricks; Yamabushi - Spells.  Call these the base classes, if you will. 

The secondary human classes have primarily the same special abilities as their group's base class, but also some of the special abilities of the group along the lines of the outer triangle. 

So, for example, Gorotsuki are in the Shinobi group but along the line with Maho-tsukai, so they have mostly Tricks but some Spells.  Onmyoji are in the Maho-tsukai group but along the same line, so they have mostly Spells but some Tricks.  The three Yokai classes have an even split of the two ability types that flank their boxes.  So Kitsune have an even split of Tricks and Spells.

If you were to write it out in linear form for each side of the triangle, it would look something like this:
Ninja - all Tricks
Gorotsuki - 2/3 Tricks, 1/3 Spells
Kitsune - 1/2 Tricks, 1/2 Spells
Onmyoji - 1/3 Tricks, 2/3 Spells
Yamabushi all Spells

Repeat for the Samurai to Ninja line, and Samurai to Yamabushi line.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Following along with yesterday's post about Clerical healing from OD&D through Classic D&D and to 3E (skipping AD&D because I play it less and didn't feel like opening up more tabs in my pdf reader), I was thinking about Talysman's post I inspired and things I'm doing for Chanbara.

Side note - I did a little more work on Chanbara today, since I finished my academic work sooner than I expected.  Had a whole hour to work on it.  I removed the Kensei as a baked in class, since any Samurai, Ronin, Sohei, Kagemusha or Shinsen could just take the combat maneuvers to focus on one weapon and call themselves a kensei.  I also did some work on the Adventures and Rewards chapter, describing different types of adventure design and guidelines for awarding XP.

So, back to the random navel-gazing post where I speculate wildly and likely piss off some people.

Why did the Cleric develop the way it did over time?  Why have the Fighter and Thief/Rogue developed as they have?  Magic-Users/Wizards have been fairly stable across editions, while the other four base classes have shown greater or lesser change from OD&D up through Pathfinder (4E takes every class in a totally new direction, and I'm not up on the Next playtest stuff to be sure what they're doing with it)?

I took a look at the Cleric yesterday.  Mostly, they've gotten more and more healing powers as the years have gone by.  They've also had increases in spell levels, with only 5 levels of spells in OD&D, up to 10 levels worth of spells in 3E/PF.  Pathfinder also gives Clerics quite a few perk powers, such as the channel energy thing discussed yesterday, and two Domain powers usable 3+stat modifier times per day each.

Thieves were fairly stable across TSR editions.  There were slight changes to the skill progressions (noticeably a lowering of percentages in BECMI to stretch them out to 36 levels, and a slight raise early on in AD&D thanks to Dex and racial mods to the basic scores but high levels were slower than BX).  2E gave Thieves the ability to allocate their skill percentages as they liked, giving flexibility but otherwise leaving the class more or less alone.  Then in 3E, suddenly Rogues became the super-customizable skill class, and also with a lot more combat power thanks to the way Sneak Attack worked compared to Backstab in older editions. 

Fighters have had the least changes over editions, being able combatants from the beginning.  Mostly what they've gained were all the feats in 3E and later editions to tailor their combat style.  That was more or less an extension of Weapon Specialization in UA, and various combat oriented NWP and kit abilities in 2E.  Oh, and there was the Weapon Mastery optional system in the BECMI Masters Set/RC.  They've become flashier in their combat ability over the years, but the class has remained more or less the same.

Like I said above, Magic-Users have been the most consistent.  Weak physically, few spells at low levels, the most powerful characters at high levels.  Spell lists have grown over the years.  Low level spells have increased, but at high levels, BECMI Magic-Users have more spells than their similarly leveled 3E/PF counterparts.  Oh, and while the M-U has remained more or less unchanged, spells have suffered from years of developers deciding such and such creative exploit was overpowering and having the spell restrictions become more and more detailed and limiting.  Spells have changed, but the class is very similar.

Why the changes?  I think it went something like this:

OD&D is really fun to play.  Players want more.  Gygax and co. crank out supplements, making changes and adding to the power curve slightly (new classes, new spells, variable hit dice and weapon damages, new magic items, new monsters, etc.).  Players like this and buy stuff.

D&D/AD&D become big business.  Now, marketing people get in the equation.  They look at the game and try to see what sells.  Lots of modules, lots of supplements, the 2E glut.

WotC buys TSR.  Looking at D&D, they try to figure out what makes it so popular.  Surveys tell them that players find combat exciting.  Marketing realizes that selling books aimed at players should make them more money than the glut of supplements aimed at DMs.  Changes are made to the game.  Now, combat is the focus of all classes, and supplements are written for players as a way to make their characters more effective in combat.

Then we have a split, with the development of 4E and Pathfinder.  4E takes the combat focus to the logical extreme.  The game is really just a series of tactical battles strung together with some roleplay in between.  No, I realize it doesn't always play out that way (Dean's game that I played in was an exception), but that's the way it was presented and marketed.  On the other hand, Pathfinder takes the 3E base and instead of adding endless supplements, gives every class a shitload of options in the core book, so that players can customize their combat-ready classes however they see fit.

Did WotC make the right calls?  Well, 3E/3.5E did really well.  They're so popular that when they brought out 4E, many players stuck with it and now play Pathfinder.  However, the OSR also rose up and showed everyone that sometimes simpler is better.  I don't think WotC was wrong with the direction they took the game, there was obviously demand for it.  However, I do think some of the premises they based it on were wrong.

Those marketing surveys.  I remember taking one out of a Dragon or Dungeon magazine when I was working for Waldenbooks, filling it out, and sending it in.  This was in the late 90's, just after WotC had used their Magic: the Gathering earnings to buy out the bankrupt TSR, but before the Hasbro buyout of WotC, I think.  They were doing the survey to see what people wanted in 3E.  Apparently, lots of players responded that combat is the most fun part of the game.

I think this is a misunderstanding.  Combat is one of the most exciting parts of the game.  It's traditionally been fairly risky.  That risk makes it exciting.  One or two bad die rolls could end your PC's career and send you to your dice bag for 3d6 (or 4d6 depending on how you roll).  Players sit up and notice when things like initiative rolls or saving throws happen.  No doubt, combat is exciting.  But is it really the most fun part of the game? 

It can be, don't get me wrong.  But it's not always the case for me, and I would guess for most other players.  Hanging around a tavern looking for rumors about the next big score, pockets to pick, barmaids or bar-lads to bed, or surly locals to sock in the jaw can be pretty fun too.  So can engaging in a battle of wits with the Archduke in the King's Audience Hall.  So can exploring a ruined city without a single creature to battle, but with all sorts of mysteries and treasures of the ancients to discover. 

Combat is not universally "the most fun" part of D&D.  Yet 3E to an extent, Pathfinder a bit moreso, and 4E to a large extent were created with the idea that combat is where the fun is at, and every class needs to be good at combat so that everyone can have fun.  Not a new insight here, but it bears repeating from time to time.  So, the classes have evolved to be more hearty and more useful in combat situations when originally they were not expected to be worried about combat.  Healing increased, because if combat is the focus, PCs need to heal up to engage in another fight.  But, for example, Pathfinder and 4E both find alternate ways for the Cleric to be the healer but still allow them to do "fun" stuff in combat, because apparently healing your companions is not as fun as knocking around goblins with a mace.

Now, I did say I'd likely piss some people off.  And if you've read this far (this is getting long, I must be channeling JB), just let me say this before you fire off an angry comment.

There's nothing wrong with running a combat heavy campaign.  It can be a lot of fun.  Combat is exciting, and often fun.  If you enjoy a combat heavy game in any edition, that's fine with me.  But just remember that it can also become tedious.  And there are other things to do in the game besides just fight things, and they can be fun, too. 

It's when I'm doing those other things that I remind myself that I don't mind if Magic-Users only get one spell per day at level 1, Thieves have pitifully low chances to use their skills, Clerics aren't healing machines, and even Fighters need to be careful after taking one or two hits because they're at risk of death.  The non-combat parts of the game are just as fun, for me, and no PC needs a ton of special abilities in order to take part in most of the non-combat stuff.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Another look at the Cleric

LS over at Papers and Pencils has been doing a series on Pathfinder's Advanced Players Guide classes and the latest is on the Oracle class, which is basically a PF Sorcerer with Cleric spells instead of Wizard spells.  And some of his comments, especially a link to his thoughts on the actual Cleric class, inspired me to revise my own ideas about the Classic D&D Cleric (and why I find it superior for my style of play).

So what's my beef?  Of course it's to do with healing.  Should Clerics be the party band-aid?  Is that the reason the class exists?  I disagree, but modern game design seems to believe that is the case. 

LS mentions that the PF Oracle class automatically gets Cure X spells (or Inflict X spells if they choose) at levels they can cast, in addition to the Sorcerer-style "spells known" each level.  So no need to debate about whether to take a handy utility spell or a cure spell, you've already got the cure for free.  And in the PF Cleric, instead of Turn Undead they get a blanket "heal everyone in 30' of xd6 damage" a large number of times per day (minimum three, but with a Cha bonus or the right feat selection, that increases) in addition to spells and the hold-over from 3E, spontaneous casting of cure X spells.

In our old PF game from a couple years ago, I was playing a Paladin, but we always had at least one other Cleric in the group, sometimes two.  Any time I thought to use Lay on Hands on another PC, the Clerics would stop me and just use their Channel Energy ability instead.  I was left using Lay on Hands in the rather selfish and un-paladinly manner of keeping myself in a fight (since I was able to self-cure as a minor action in addition to moving and attacking) rather than aiding the needy (but with two actual Clerics, I guess the party injured weren't really needy after all...).  They get a lot of healing ability is what I'm saying.

Now in Classic D&D, assuming OD&D/BX/BECMI, Clerics are actually fairly limited in the amount of (hit point) healing they can do in a day, until you get up into the Companion/Master levels of BECMI.  Even then, they still get lots of non-curative spells as well.  Let's take a look at some numbers, shall we?

OD&D Men and Magic lists a 10th level Patriarch (the highest in that book) as getting spells per day: 3/3/3/3/3
They have Cure Light Wounds as a 1st level spell and Cure Serious Wounds as a 4th level spell.  At most, they could take six out of fifteen spells to heal hit points in a day, curing 9d6+9 hit points per day.  Cure Disease and Neutralize Poison are at 3rd level, Raise Dead is at 5th level.  Yes, they are healing/restorative magics, but not usually needed as often as Cure Wounds spells. 

BX Clerics at 10th level get one more 1st level spell: 4/4/3/3/2, so could heal 10d6+10 hit points, at at the maximum 14th level can cast: 6/5/5/5/4.  That's a fair bit of healing, actually, if all spell slots are devoted to it, 16d6+16 points.  Spells are as OD&D.

BECMI Clerics at 10th level: 4/4/3/2/1 actually have a decrease in healing if you stick to the Basic and Expert books - Companion adds Cure Critical Wounds (3d6+3) at 5th level.  With Companion, that's 11d6+11, only two dice more than the OD&D Cleric at the same level.  Without Companion, it's 8d6+8, one less!  At 14th level, the BECMI Cleric has spells: 5/5/5/3/3/2 - yes, 6th level spells, which includes Cureall which heals nearly all of a character's hit points.  If all hit point healing spells are memorized, that's 20d6+20 before the two Cureall spells are factored in.  They still end up with ten spells of 2nd and 3rd level that don't cure hit points, and with Cureall available, you likely don't need all of those Cure Light Wounds spells anymore.  I'm not even going to bother with 36th level BECMI Clerics. 

Also note, none of the above Clerics start out play at 1st level with the ability to heal a single hit point!  No spells at level 1! 

Do I need to remind everyone that in 3E, they upped Clerics to 9th level spells and lowered the bottom to include 0 level spells, and there are hit point curing spells in all of them?  And Clerics can instantly change any prepared spell into a Cure Wounds spell of the same level at any time. 

Let's take a look at a 10th level 3.5 Cleric - assuming they don't have Healing as a Domain, so those spells can be used for something else.  They cast 6*/4/4/3/3/2 spells per day plus Domain spells.  *0-level spells.  Ignoring the 0-level and Domain spells, it's actually the same as in BX - oh, except for bonus spells for High Wisdom.  The Cleric will have bonus spells from Wisdom, but let's ignore them for now since it's variable. 

Cure spells now use a d8 instead of a d6, and add a variable amount depending on the Cleric's level.  33d8+126 just with the 0 through 4th level spells, and at 5th level they get Mass Cure Light Wounds, which will heal 1d8+10 to up to ten creatures, for a potential 43d8+326 points of damage in a day.  And remember, with bonus spells for Wisdom and the Healing Domain (which grants more spells and gives a bonus to the amount each healing spell cures), there could be more!  Of course, that's assuming all spells get used to cure hit point damage. 

I'm not going to figure out the 14th level 3E Cleric.  Nor the Pathfinder Cleric, since in addition to all the spells (they wisely axed the 0-level Cure Minor Wounds, though, since in PF 0-level spells are at-will), as I mentioned above, they get the Mass Cure spell series at least three times a day from level one! 

Some people over in the d20 versions of D&D really really expect way too much combat to happen in D&D.  And for the Cleric to be there to patch everyone up in time for the next combat. 

Now, of course, some will argue that the abundance of healing available to the 3E/PF Cleric means that they actually do get to prepare and cast other spells instead of only healing spells.  And that's true that most adventuring parties are not likely to need 500 points of healing in a day. 

But the thing they miss is this: in Classic D&D, Clerics get to cast other spells too!  And they don't get the party members bugging them to give up their utility spells in order to heal another wound.  If they don't max out their healing, they get to cast those other non-healing spells because they can't just switch it out for a Cure X spell. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The End of the Long Road Home

Wow, this adventure arc in our Vaults of Ur campaign went on for nine sessions, since the first week of last December when the party became stranded in the caves beneath the Hive.  It took the lives of my alternate PC Fantasmo Argento (a masked Luchadore), the NPC Ralex, FLAILSNAILS favorite the Venerable Carolus (Very Elder Karl), the last of Thidrek's chickens, and several red shirt hirelings of FLAILSNAILS adventurers from across the Veil.  The promising young mage Yargrob Elderbob also went missing during the affair, and the party was unceremoniously stripped of most of their gear along the way, resulting in the loss of much treasure and a few prized possessions.

Anyway, the session recap.  Justin of course is the DM.  Jeremy was playing Noctis the Orc (on the verge of Level 4 but without a FLAILSNAILS game to pick up that last necessary XP, but he did alright anyway).  Alexei was playing Maya Culpar the Elf, now 3rd level and in possession of many spells but no magic items.  I was of course playing Thidrek the Sleestak.  Dean and Rick couldn't join us due to a commitment to play one last session of Dean's 4E game with a player that's leaving the group, so Udumbara the Pacifist Cleric and the Scented Shade of Venerable Carolus were not available to join us.  Luckily, a pair of NPC half-orc thief chicks joined us.  Being part of Bolt's crew (they're not quite Spiked Circle, but they're not friends either), Thidrek was predisposed to dislike them, and only referred to them as Orcess and Orcette.  Noctis, being an orc, was predisposed to like them and hit on them all the time.

Bolt gave us maps and suggested three ways to infiltrate the Sky Hunter temple.  Overland was patrolled by Sky Hunters.  The ghoul warrens were of course the home of the ghoul undercity dwellers.  The river was also a way in, but the last group to go there never returned, so they assumed something nasty was there.  We ended up choosing the ghoul warrens.

We nearly made it through without discovery, and did manage to get through without engaging them in combat (paralysis is nasty, especially with no cleric to cure it).  We got through the secret door just in time, and Maya used a Hold Portal spell to make sure we weren't followed.

Inside, we were assaulted by the Sky Hunters' guards, which were pasty gollum-like things with arms and legs twisted and bending in the wrong directions.  Sneaky bastards liked dropping down from the ceilings on us.  We entered the main hall, and found a giant energy ball with swirling shadowy shapes inside, suspended in mid air by beams of light shot from four statues.  While tussling with more of the gangly guardians, a troop of Sky Hunter legionnaires and a sorcerer emerged and engaged us.  Due to an untimely natural 1 from Thidrek and natural 20 from the gangly thing, Thidrek ended up down with the baddies and paralyzed by the sorcerer's energy whip.  They demanded the party surrender.  Maya cast web, saving Thidrek's life.  Maya, Noctis and the orc chicks managed to kill the enemies on their side of the web, while the sorcerer and one guard retreated.

Freed, Thidrek slew the remaining gangly thing and Sky Hunter guard.  Then he and Noctis went to get the Orb we were sent to bring back while Maya and the NPCs took on the sorcerer and guard.  A rough battle took place with the guard, who managed to wound all three of the adventuring ladies, but they managed to bring him and the sorcerer down, and free an Orc Magi.  Thidrek and Noctis used a Land of the Lost style crystal matrix table to shut down the giant magic sphere and free the shadow elementals that were inside who apparently run the black water pool portal system.

We retreated through the river, since the ghouls were alerted to us and we didn't want to face more Sky Hunter patrols in our weakened state.  Down the shaft, there were strange shadowy things but they went past the party and up the shaft after Sky Hunters, we assume.  We found a skeleton (with phat lootz!) and got on our boat, distracting giant crabs with one of the Sky Hunter corpses and made our escape.

We rendezvous with Bolt, who takes us to the portal and we gave him the Orb, then took Karl and Ralex's bodies back to Fort Low - only to find out that the bastard stole Karl's psionic Stone Fist.

So things are complete, but there are now lots of things we could do again sandbox style.  Justin says we're entering Vaults of Ur 2.0.  Dean's not sure what to do about Venerable Carolus.  His character was changed by the ordeal.  We don't want to lose his character, but Dean's not sure he wants to keep playing him.  We'll see what happens.  He may end up retiring Karl.  Or we may go on a quest to get him (or make him) a new, better hand.

In the meantime, Thidrek plans to keep busy with some research, some plotting, and maybe the formation of a Brute Squad to help clean out the ruins.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Good luck, you're gonna need it!

May the Fourth be with us.  Tonight is our next Vaults of Ur game, and we're breaking into the temple of a humanosupremicist magi-tech society (from what little evidence about them we've gathered).  It's going to be a rough one, I think. 

Happy International Star Wars Day, everyone!