Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sleestak, your life force is running out!

Last Saturday, we again ventured forth in the ruins of Ur, City of the Ten Cataclysms.

Justin DMed a fun little game, which was fairly rough on us.  Jeremy played Noctis the Orc, Alexei was Maya the Elf, Dean was Venerable Carolus, and I was Thidrek the Sleestak.  We had (NPCs) a hired sellsword, Webberan, a tag-along nerdy Orc Magi Mattaki Shiptu, and fussy butlerish shield-bearer Ghomondelay with us as well.

Carolus, learning of ancient Urish technology that might be able to regrow his lost hand the way orcs are grown in vats, was interested in exploring the installation below the harpies' thorn maze.  On the way, when we got to the statue of the vulture-headed death goddess, Karl decided we should "consecrate" it (vandalize, in other words).  So we knocked it down, loaded it up on Thidrek's triceratopsian-cart, and trucked it back to Fort Low and set it up in the rich part of town.  We ignored the locals' talk of "curses."

We also heard of a local official's brother and his party who had gone missing in the ruins.  Altering our plans, we headed to a new homestead north-east of the thorn maze.  They seemed friendly enough, although we did wonder how they kept themselves safe in the middle of the ruins.  They gave us directions to the temple the brother had been exploring.

Under the temple were of course some tunnels, and in them, a new tribe of black masked orcs.  They were none too fond of us, and after a skirmish, we chased them and ended up in a trapped area with lots of rooms with levers to pull and various things to happen.  Thinking he had the puzzle figured out, Thidrek tried a lever that Webberan had pulled several times, with nothing but a few coins lodged in the ceiling dislodged.  One failed saving throw later and the ceiling was caving in on him.  Negative hit point time!

As the party came to Thidrek's aid, the orcs attacked en masse.  It was a pretty good scrum, but we managed to win in the end.  Sorely wounded, however, we retreated and went back to the homestead to rest up.

Turns out, as night fell and we were brought in to see the leader, that the community are actually Ur Ogres (they look human, then shapeshift into monstrous forms, sorta lycanthropish) led by Harrkonn Spiderlegs, an old nemesis of ours.

End of session cliff hanger!  I've updated by backup PC just in case Thidrek finally cashes in the last of his nine lives next session.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

More Megadungeon Art

Dean posted this to our FB group, and I just gotta share it.  It's a scene from our last outing in my megadungeon.  They found a talking painting covering a secret door, and tricked it into giving up the password.  Unfortunately, the vault was already plundered...but by whom? 

The ogre was in the next room, counting out his money.
The mage with wispy mustache was eating bread and honey. (or running away from the larger party of adventurers...)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

We rescue a real live Space Princess!

Last Thursday (8/15) being a national holiday in Korea (VJ Day/Korean Independence Day), Wednesday night we finished up our excursion into the vaults beneath the old Spiked Circle stockade that was the source of the Nightzone in our Vaults of Ur campaign.

We started off more or less where we had left off, playing just a bit in play-by-post in our facebook group.  Thidrek had gone down the pit and scouted around, and the rest of the party* followed him down. 

*5 orc magi men at arms left sans spells, their captain Thorn, Tark our NPC ghoul hunter, plus Venerable Carolus, Noctis the Orc, Thidrek, and Maya Culpa (replacing Alexei's other elf PC since she had her body back).

We followed the stream of darkness down a hallway, and were attacked by shadows.  At the same time, a shadow-creature in the stream itself attacked.  It was sort of a "shadow hydra" in that it had lots of shadowy pseudopods that could be destroyed the way hydra heads are, but did strength drain like shadows.  It was a nasty fight, and we lost all of the troops (Tark survived). 

During the battle, Thidrek managed to get to the control panel of a stargate type thing that was producing the darkness, and shut it down.  After we managed to finish off the monsters, we smashed the stargate thing to keep Helemor the Awakened from reactivating it (d'oh!  Found out later we might have been able to use it for planar hopping adventures!).

Exploring a bit more, we found another ghoul altar, with the remains of former companion Yargrob Elderbob.  Carolus pained it up with hippy flowers and teddy bears to reconsecrate it to the Great Bear (he's got a Grateful Dead bear thing for a deity, if you're new to Ur). 

The next room had five sarcophogi, one open (presumably Helemor came out of that one).  Three more had skeletons or other remains of people from before one or another of Ur's ten cataclysms.  The final one (actually the second one we checked after Helemor's, but the last one we opened) contained Lamara the Ancient, a "buxom and comely" survivor of ancient Ur!  We took her back to town and hopefully she will be able to provide us with all sorts of good intel about the wackiness of Ur's ruins!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Revising Monsters

Since I redid my Players' Information packet for the game I ran the other day.

Now, I'm going through my "Bestiary and Treasury" booklet.  I added in all the creatures from the blog (the Beast of the Week download over there on the right hand side of the blog) that weren't already in there.  And since most of the book is just stuff from the BX/BE level of books, I pulled up my Rules Cyclopedia pdf and started adding in creatures from the Mentzer C and M books. 

Not all of them, some are just not my style, or can be done simpler in other ways (like the Headsmen/Thug or Mystic, which are just NPCs really).  And the "looks like a beholder but it's a trick" monsters.  I don't use beholders enough to make it worth using a blast spore very often.

Anyway, since my D&D Mine caps out at 15th level for characters and 6th level for spells, some of the monsters designed for characters levels 15-36 are just a tad too powerful.  Like Frank's undead from the Companion Set, the Haunts, Spirits, and Phantoms.  Very cool, very flavorful.  But I'm having to power them down in order to make them feasible opponents for the power level I'm going for here. 

I'm actually enjoying this, finding ways to tweak the monsters so that the players won't need those 7th through 9th level spells, or need to be packing weapons of at least +3 potency.  And editing down the descriptions a fair amount, since this is going to turn out to be over 100 pages of monsters, I think.

Now, do I want to add in the Large and Huge Dragons?  Just the Large ones?  That's the question I'm pondering at the moment...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In places deep, where dark things sleep

Last Saturday, I brushed the dust off of my DMing skills (the file box where I keep the megadungeon maps, notes and miscellanea being dust free already due to recent work being done on it) and ran my Classic D&D megadungeon for the guys.

I used a bit of time at work last week to spruce up my house rule document, so I was using that as my go-to rules instead of BFRPG, but FLAILSNAILS so for the players I allowed anything within reason.

Dean brought the Venerable Carolus across the Veil from Ur (and being 6th level, he was the powerhouse of the team, even without a hand).
Jeremy played a new Magic-User, Uriah, who scribed tattoo scrolls into his skin.
Justin rolled up a new Halfling named Paisley, who was the life of the party.
Alexei had managed to get Maya Culpar back into her rightful body, so brought her along.

So, L6 Cleric, L3 Elf, L1 M-U and L1 Halfling.  Jeremy and I role played his MU's attempts to charm some henchmen in the days leading up to the expedition, and he ended up with all three: Ferdinand the Bull, Felix the Cat, and Frog the Toad (or "the Three Fs").  Elder Karl again hired mercenary dandies Geisler and Kessel, and loaned them his magical drumstick and stone bow, respectively.

So with a party of nine, they ventured into the dungeons.  Rather than write up what happened, I'll post the three pictures Dean has done of the session, and the portraits Jeremy and Justin did, with a few notes.  ++there's still 100 XP waiting around for anyone else that wants to write up what happened, or draw more pictures++

Justin's PCs, Paisley the Halfling and Lorque the Cleric (from last time we played)
Uriah of the 18 Constitution, Jeremy's PC
A workshop run by the "gnomo-sexuals" where Uriah got fitted for new shoes, and the party got a magi scroll meant for a previous party that suffered a near TPK. 
Nymph and Dryad caryatid columns, fancy wood paneling on the walls.  The next room held medusas...or was it an illusionist with a whispy first growth mustache?
Among the ogre's treasures was a helm of alignment changing.  Paisley's new chaotic nature still left his basic nature unchanged.  His battle cry: "I foresee the worst!"  The Venerable Carolus was able to remove the curse.
Some monsters were slain, some treasures were found, some monsters escaped to fight again, and some mysteries were discovered.  Lots of laughs, which is my biggest measure of success when I run a game.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Wheel of Testosterone

What's this?  An actual content post instead of just play reports and me bemoaning my lack of time to do anything?  Surprise surprise!

I'm working on a fairly big undertaking for what will end up being just one single room/encounter in my megadungeon, but once it's discovered I can guarantee it'll be a popular location to visit: The Wheel of Testosterone.
Spinning this wheel will make you a sexual tyrannosaurus.  Just like me.

Remember this post on the awesome Planet Algol blog?  I remember when it first went up, thinking I needed to both steal that and make a Samuel L. Jackson version.

Never got around to that, until I was reminded of the post on a G+ thread a week or so ago (or maybe it was two weeks back now?  Time flies).  Now, instead of scrolls scattered here an there (I may still do that, and maybe have a researchable M-U spell linked to it), I'll have a bit old "wheel of fortune" that if spun, produces a random avatar of an action movie hero.  I'm thinking d12 rolled twice, for 144 spots worth of badass.  Of course, that means collecting enough badass characters and then giving them stats!  Crowd-sourcing could be done on this...

At the moment, following Blair's scroll, I've been making lists of actors and then listing characters they've done that I like.  But some actors end up playing very similar characters over and over again (Jackie Chan, for example), and some are just sorta badass all on their own.  And then there are actors who had one or two badass roles, but that's it (in my opinion, of course). 

So instead of trying to pick the twelve baddest of the bad, or eleven plus one slot for "others" I think I'm going to just write up a big chart with 144 slots, and just fill things in.  That way, I could feel free to include some classic 80's WWF wrestlers like Hulk Hogan (yeah, I guess he did do a few movies/TV shows) and Junk Yard Dog. 

Planning to pull from standard action movies (contemporary), fantasy adventure, pulp, film noir/hardboiled detectives, westerns and war movies.  Chuck Norris, John Wayne, Schwarzenegger, Stalone, Harrison Ford, Val Kilmer, Toshiro Mifune, Jet Li, Will Smith, Mr. T, and plenty more.

If you've got some ideas for who should be on the Wheel, lemme know in the comments!  If you want to go ahead and do a write-up like Blair's for his scroll of summon aspect of Kurt Russel (all yoinked, by the way, thanks Blair!), that would help me out a ton! 

And of course, should there be a Pool of Estrogen which randomly summons Ellen Ripley, Chun Li, various Charlie's Angels, etc. in the same way?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Uptown Ghoul

A week ago, we played another session of Justin's Vaults of Ur campaign.

Thidrek and Noctis having penetrated the Nightzone only to find stiff resistance from the undead army, and losing most of our men at arms, in our last session, we gathered together a much larger force.

Thidrek hired a platoon of twenty Orc Magi heavy foot, each immune to ghoul paralysis and packing a magic missile spell, and their third level captain.

The Venerable Carolus returned to action!  Maya had suffered a mind-body swap curse in some FLAILSNAILS adventure, so Alexei pulled out another Fighter/Cleric/Magic-User Elf from his files, and now I've forgotten his name...Earilion or something Tolkien-ish like that.  Sorry!

Tark, the NPC Orc Magi ghoul hunter we met last session, stuck with us.

We penetrated to the heart of the Nightzone, and found the old fortress where some previous adventurers (Karl, Burg/Noctis, and a few others) had failed to recover a magical amulet.  Night was flowing up from the fortress through the ground.  After fending off a returning ghoul patrol, we went underground.

That's when we found ourselves in tight passages, with large numbers of ghouls and ghoul-centaurs (worm-like bodies, ghoul torsos, and praying mantis claws) all around.

Using a potion of invisibility and Alexei's elf's elven cloak, we found the leaders, Helemor the Awakened and a ghoul shaman.  In a large knock-down-drag-out fight, Thidrek was paralyzed and lost his sleestak horn, Noctis nearly died due to Helemor's ministrations, and Karl's spellcasting saved the day.

Helemor fled, the ghouls were destroyed, and we've still got about 1/3 of our troops. 

We're playing a bit of exploration PbP on Facebook, so things are continuing...

Monday, August 5, 2013

Vacation's Over

I finished my first day back at work after an entire week off.  Unlike public school teachers, Korean kindergartens are for profit affairs, and that means I get one week in the summer, one week in winter. When every other damn person in Korea also has vacation, so it's pointless to try traveling.  At least not on the money I'm making and with the grad school tuition I have to pay (which is incredibly cheap compared to grad school in the States, but I've digressed from my digression so I'll stop now).

Anyway, the week was nice, eventful, and allowed me to catch up on some lacking daddy time that my son needed.  It also meant I was away from the blogs for the most part, so I didn't post anything.

Didn't do a bit of work on Chanbara either.  I don't know if I'll get around to playtesting this thing after all.  I've got books I need to read in preparation for choosing a dissertation topic on order, due to arrive soon.  Not light reading by a long shot.  That will suck up all of August, I'm afraid.  And then the next semester starts in September, so I'll have to continue the readings for the dissertation selection while doing normal class readings.

Long story short, Chanbara rules are more or less complete and should be playable.  Are they balanced?  Does it matter?  I've still got a bit of setting detail to write up.  A bit of editing.  Formatting and proofreading.  I may manage to slip out an untested version by the end of the year or early next.  And that may be the end of my hobby RPG publishing career.  At least until I either earn my Ph.D. or quit.

On a positive note, I did spend evenings last week working on the mega-dungeon, and after last Saturday's game the guys were asking when we'd play in it again.  So I may find some time to DM it in the coming weeks or months.

Also, yesterday I took my son to the weekly board game meetup (which I usually miss).  After we got home, he wanted to play some games with me, and we did.  This morning, he got up and while I showered he played the games again by himself, just rolling the dice and moving around (snakes and ladders, and a similar rocket themed race game).  My son is finally old enough to grasp rules, and not to get upset when he loses.  And obviously smart enough to have realized that by playing by himself, he's guaranteed to win.  I'm sure we'll be playing all sorts of games within the next few years. 

Anyway, expect a session report from our game last Saturday over the next few days, and hopefully a few other posts about RPG related stuff soon as well.