Tuesday, May 11, 2010

S&W White Box: Session Five, 5/10/10

I finally made a session! This one was a good romp. It seems we are all getting along pretty well as players and characters and the group in general is more welcoming towards me as we develop a rapport. It was a fun session even though it was more mundane compared to the last two delves that I missed. Here's the after action report.

After returning to Greyhawk, I tried carousing again. Of course, I failed to gain any experience. This time, instead of sporting a new tattoo, I instead blew my money earning a reputation as the life of the party. That's what happens when you buy a few rounds, you attract sycophantic friends who bleed your purse dry!. After restocking and carousing, I was broke again so that means another delve into the dungeon!

SESSION FIVE (05.10.10)
Moonday the 17th of Coldeven, CY 576

Galathos the Warrior (2nd level Fighting-Man)
Gloin the Dwarven Warrior (2nd level Fighting-Man)
Fen Sen the Seer (2nd level Magic-User)
“Frahnk” the hired lantern-bearer

Our heroes decided to return to a wide corridor running south that they had discovered earlier. On the way, Old Man Halgron bid the party farewell- choosing to return to the surface without providing any explanation other than muttering something about needing to find some purple paint. Luckily for the party, the cleric passed Gloin the carousing-loving dwarf on the way out. With the sturdy axe of the dwarven warrior aiding their fighting prowess, the party advanced down the double-wide corridor.

They eventually came to a T-intersection, with a door ahead to the south and a corridor running east and west. Heading west they inched along until they realized that the corridor was very long indeed. Not wishing to break out a fresh sheet of parchment to add to his map, Galathos talked the rest of the party into returning to the intersection and exploring east-wards.

After passing the intersection the party was greeted by a small swarm of ten giant rats. Rather than have the party waste precious time with a protracted fight against the vermin, Fen Sen stepped forward and cast the rats into a magical slumber. After exterminating the helpless creatures the party entered the room at the end of the corridor. The large room apparently served as the lair of the rat swarm, there were several scattered piles of small animal bones, with one large pile in a corner. Remembering Old Man Halgron’s recent discovery in the last pile of bones Fen Sen used his staff to sort through the piles, methodically starting in the near corner of the room and moving from one pile to another. Saving the large pile for last, Fen Sen unearthed a grimy, old blue robe. After noting that the pockets of the robe were empty the magic-user realized that the right half of the robe felt heavier. Drawing his dagger, he cut the seam of the robe and extracted a small emerald.

Leaving the soiled robe behind the party decided to return to the room with the mystery of the maze etched into the ground. From their map making and detection skills, weak though they are, the fighting-man and magic-user knew that there was something odd about that suite of rooms. Hoping that the dwarf and his strong knowledge of stonework would find the secret the party retraced their steps. Quickly noting that there did seem to be a hollow cavity hidden behind the walls Gloin went to work trying to find a mechanism or trigger to yield access. After some deliberation the adventurers decided to see if pouring some water into the grooves on the floor would have any effect. The bead of water followed the grooves in the maze-like pattern and came to pool up where one of the grooves met the wall. After a sufficient amount of water had pooled up they were rewarded with the sound of a click. Pushing the wall proved that there was a hidden pivot point unlocked by the water. Sliding the wall open with his ranseur Galathos slowly entered the room, prodding the floor as he went.

The interior of the room only deepened the mystery; the walls of the room were of smoothly polished granite with several hundred names engraved on the walls with small silver letters. Hoping that it would have some affect, the human warrior decided to read all of the names out loud. Struggling with some of the more foreign names he slowly read off every name engraved. Quite disappointed that there was no miraculous moment, Galathos hoarsely suggested that the party head back up north to where they thought the Old Guard kobolds had retreated too. Gloin, who had more than a little hatred of kobolds, agreed that it might prove to be a financially worthy venture. And with that the party wound their way through the twisting passages in search of the Old Guard.

Arriving back at the four-way intersection, the party took the east corridor- the one that they had marked on the map and left alone. Prodding the floor ahead of him Galathos stopped the party after thirty feet- he had come to a pit trap. A large section of the floor was hinged to swing open after sufficient weight, dropping the unwary victim down to an uncomfortable rest on a bed of spikes. With the rest discussing how best to circumnavigate the pit opening, Galathos carefully lowered him self down the bottom of the pit to search the skeletal remains he saw below. A small collection of coins laid spread out on the floor, with the remnants of the leather pouch rotting in pieces. Confused that the skeleton appeared to have had some coin despite also appearing to wear the remnants of manacles, the fighting-man climbed back out of the pit. Carefully treading to the end of the corridor where it turned north, Galathos peeked around the corner and spied a dense stack of piled furniture. Trying to move as quietly as possible in his plate mail, the fighting-man approached the blockade and leaned his head close to the pile and listened for any noises.

After not hearing any approaching noise and smelling the odor of oil on the furniture Galathos retreated back to the rest of the party. While pondering their next move the party heard the sound of footfalls coming down the corridor towards them from the far side of the blockade. After noting that the illumination had greatly increased in the corridor beyond the pile, Galathos sprinted to the pile and hooked his grapple deep into the pile. Again retreating, the human warrior began to pull at the furniture pile as it quickly erupted in flames. Yanking a large section of burning wood down the warrior waited for the smoke to clear then went back to the pile and began to try and push chunks of burnt wood aside to clear a passage. After much coughing, sweating, and exertion Galathos pushed aside enough of the pile to make out a wall of shields bristling with spears awaiting the party at the end of the corridor ahead. Quickly ducking, Galathos relayed what he saw to the rest of the group.

Hoping that their aim would be true Gloin and Galathos heaved flasks of flaming oil towards the massed kobolds. With Gloin’s oil exploding at the feet of the kobolds and doing naught else but scorching the shield-fronts, Galathos managed to hurl his against the wall behind the kobolds. After hearing some screaming Gloin threw a third flask and scored a hit high on the shield of the kobolds. Noting that the flask took a nice ricochet and being rewarded with more screams the two-some discussed a blazing charge.

Before the twain could push through the remnants of the blockade and storm the shield wall, the kobolds smoothly wheeled their wall back out of eyesight. After letting a little bit more smoke clear and letting the fire die down, Gloin and Galathos crept down the corridor with Franhk, Fen Sen, and Bill Harker following behind. Around the corner the corridor ended in an iron door. Gloin put his heightened hearing to the task and tried to listen for any noises through the door, but was confused by what sounded like the bleating of a goat. Realizing that the iron door was heavily fortified Galathos pulled out a piton and hammer and tried to work the spike into the doorjamb to force the door open. Galathos with the aid of the strong dwarf, the not-so-strong magic-user, Bill Harker, and Bill’s pet crow Ivan eventually managed to squeeze the door slightly open. Reaching the crowbar into the crack, the fighting-man dislodged a metal bar allowing the door to swing freely. Taking a quick inventory of the room Galathos leaned around the door just enough to spy another shield wall, this time in the southeast corner of the room. Judging the distance too great to cover in a short period of time the warrior relayed what he had seen to the others.

The next few moments proved to be a cacophony of rapid events: Fen Sen used more of his arcane talent to force just over half the massed kobolds into slumber, Gloin and Galathos charged across the empty center of the room, and the remaining kobolds loosed spears at the charging warriors. Galathos edged around the slumbering kobolds to try and attack the flank of the remaining soldiers while Gloin crashed into the center of the remaining shield wall and tried to occupy as many of the kobolds with the bashing of his axe. After trading blows with the well-trained, armed, and armored kobold soldiers the adventurers gradually turned the tide of battle in their favor. Although they each suffered some wounds at the hands of the scaly dog-like creatures, their developing skills at weapons-play eventually proved good enough to best the soldiers before them. Realizing that they were too wounded, and likely too encumbered to continue on much further they tried to seal the exits as best they could and took a closer look at the room they were in.

Three sets of stairs descended into the depths in the northern wall, two doors led to long corridors in the southern wall (one they secured with a length of rope, the other with a piton), one door led into another room in the eastern wall (they secured this door with another length of rope after noting three tables, six bowels of water, two goldfish, and another door leading out), and very strangely a three-eyed bleating goat was tied up in the northwest corner of the room. Leaving the mutated farm animal alone for now, they turned to the three stairs.

Despite Galathos’ suggestion that he lean out over the descending stairs, Bill Harker decided to send Ivan down to investigate. Not sure why the fighting-man seemed to dislike him so, the elderly man relayed his familiar’s findings: the first set of stairs descended into a pitch dark room, the second descended a greater distance to a cobwebbed chamber, and the third set descended into a room beyond a portcullis that contained a pair of huge apes and numerous creatures the crow had never seen before.

Cutting the three-eyed bleating goat free, Galathos prodded it down the first set of stairs, even going so far as to toss a torch down after it. The goat scampered away, bleating all the while. Retracing their steps out of the room the group carefully crossed the pit trap and was surprised by the bleating of the goat. The goat’s three eyes were blinking at them from around the corner leading back to the large chamber where they had fought the kobolds. The goat seemed to be following them. With the rest of the party continuing down the corridor, Galathos set a couple of traps and watched the goat stride down the corridor, stopping at the pit trap to stare and bleat at him. Muttering something about a retarded, mutated farm animal, the fighting-man caught back up to his compatriots.

Once they reached the main staircase that led back up to the surface Bill Harker announced that he and Ivan would remain behind in their search for the tunnel through the center of Oerth to Ch’in. As the party took to the stairs to climb back up to the dwarven entrance Bill announced that he had just remembered that there was a hidden, capped well about ½ mile to the west of the Castle that led down to the third level of the dungeons. With Ivan cawing on his shoulder, the befuddled man wandered off into the darkness as the party climbed the stairs on their way back to the surface and from there on back to the Free City of Greyhawk.

Experience: 219 each (657 total)
Treasure: 3 gp, 12 sp, 18 cp; small emerald
Encounters: 12 Old Guard Kobolds
Total Rooms Explored: 42

Saturday, May 8, 2010

S&W White Box: Session Four, 4/12/010

I missed another good session! Lots of fun dungeon dressing, weird ass magic effects, and no stinking kobolds! The next game is this upcoming Monday and my schedule is still clear...

SESSION FOUR (04.12.10)
Sunday the 16th of Coldeven, CY 576

Galathos the Warrior (2nd level Fighting-Man)
Old Man Halgron the Adept of St. Cuthbert (2nd level Cleric)
Fen Sen the Seer (2nd level Magic-User)
“Frahnk” the hired lantern-bearer

Our story is rejoined with Galathos and Old Man Halgron gratefully accepting the returned Fen Sen. However, the whereabouts of Gloin was still unknown. Galathos was so happy to see Fen Sen that he gave him a vial filled with spider ichor and venom, thinking that it might be useful in magical research or for a spell component. Fen Sen thought this was quite an odd thought for one such as Galathos to have. After catching Fen Sen up on their recent travails the threesome continued exploring.

Unfortunately, the first door the party came to- the one marked with an “X” was trapped. Galathos discovered that the handle of the door was coated with some incredibly strong glue and he was unable to remove his gauntlet from the knob. Thanking his lucky stars that he wasn’t bare-handed he proceeded to forcibly remove the door handle from the door to regain his armored glove.

The trapped door revealed a large room with a mysteriously large copper coin lying on the floor in the center of the room. The copper coin was massive, certainly too large to have fit through the door. Curious, the party used a crowbar in an attempt to lift the coin up. Their ministrations succeeded in raising one half of the coin off of the ground but also released a foul smelling, poisonous odor. Halgron and Galathos both managed to choke through the cloud, but poor Frahnk succumbed to the gas and had to be dragged out of the room.

The next room the party came to contained a green-painted stone statue of a very attractive female. An equally attractive female voice sang out when the party entered the room, asking to be painted orange so that she could live and in return she would “freely give”. Perhaps illustrating why he was still a lowly member in the church of St. Cuthbert despite his advanced age, Halgron happily went to work painting the statue orange. Unfortunately when he was done with his work the same female voice again sang out, asking to be painted purple. Believing the statue painting exercise to be nothing but a time-waster the threesome moved on.

A chest was discovered in the next room. Galathos had apparently learned to practice extreme caution opening treasure chests, and a large sack filled with copper and silver coins was recovered with no incident. Quick thinking also yielded the group two electrum balls that had been hidden in the false bottom of the chest.

Proceeding into another room in search of the remaining goblins that had fled, the party was surprised to encounter a metal ring attached to the wall. Thinking it was another trap, like the one they had encountered previously that sprung a beheading blade, they decided to be cautious. Galathos hooked the ring with a grapple and after several heaves ripped the metal hoop off of the wall with no dangerous occurrences. Amidst a pile of sleeping blankets the party found a handful of copper coins, two silver coins, and one odd item. A stomach of some sort, possibly that of a sheep, had been sewed shut around some woolen cloth. Unsure of what the item signified the party moved on to the next chamber.

The next chamber contained another set of stairs descending to a deeper level of the dungeons and an overturned wheelbarrow. Fen Sen and Galathos proceeded to argue the merits of trying to use the wheelbarrow to haul loot around. It seemed that the magic-user was winning the argument, however when they turned the wheelbarrow over and pushed it made the most awful screeching noise. Deciding that they’d be better off without the noisy device, Galathos kicked it across the chamber.

Coming to an angled corridor, the party kicked in the door leading to a chamber filled with an oak wood table, four chairs, and a matching dresser. Ransacking the dresser yielded a comically painted jester doll that had been trussed up in a bag. Taking the doll with them, they continued on.

Another angled corridor led to another chamber, this one contained the ghostly image of a young boy sweeping the floor repetitiously. Upon their arrival the young boy sorrowfully asked if he could take a break, that he was very tired. Perhaps cranky from the statue of the female not coming to life to freely give, Old Man Halgron told the boy no- that the room was still dusty and needed more cleaning. Fen Sen and Galathos felt bad for the ghostly apparition and left the room closing the door behind them. They re-opened the door to find the same apparition, who again asked if he could take a break. They told him that he could, after which he thanked them and promptly disappeared.

Listening at the next door, the party heard a faint mumbling. Unable to open the locked door, the fighting-man poured some acid into the lock which weakened it enough to allow access into the room beyond. Kneeling in the center of the room with its back to the party was the figure of a man clothed in a fox pelt rocking back and forth. After ignoring the inquiries of the explorers, the man leapt to his feet after Galathos prodded him on the shoulder with his ranseur. The wildly unkempt man brandished his short sword and shield and backed away from the party. His eyes betrayed his wildness, his hair was uncombed, and his face was scratched up. The party tried to communicate in every language they knew, even offering the savage man food and water. With none of their attempts working, the magic-user decided to attempt to ensorcell the stranger to sleep. The crazed man shrugged off Fen Sen’s spell and charged the young magic-user. A protracted battle enfolded with Galathos, Halgron, and Fen Sen defeating the wild warrior. For their troubles they gained a gold comb, a ruby, and the warrior’s shield and short sword. The fox pelt was too badly damaged to be of much value.

The room beyond the door the wild man had been facing led to the biggest mystery the party had yet found. In the middle of the room a large metal sphere hovered two feet off the ground. The sphere hummed and gave off a glowing pale blue light. When Halgron and Galathos tried to view the sphere their heads were filled with wildly violent and disturbing images of themselves being attacked, ravaged, mauled, and killed. Despite Fen Sen’s admonitions, Galathos was too curious about the sphere. He ignored the unnerving images and approached the sphere, getting within range of his pole-arm. The fighting-man poked his ranseur into the sphere and a blinding flash of light filled the room. After blinking their eyes back into focus, the magic-user and the cleric find Galathos in a catatonic state. Unable to awaken the warrior, Fen Sen and Halgron leave him and head back through the corridors to retrieve the wheelbarrow. Not thinking to take the map with them, the duo was lucky to follow their path back to the hauling device and then back to Galathos.

After his eyes cleared from the blinding flash of light Galathos found that he was alone in a dark room. He tried to figure out where he was but was startled to find a group of four goblins entering his room. One of the cursing goblins was carrying a torch and served as a likely target, so the fighting-man hurled his hand axe into the torch-bearer’s chest. Drawing his flamberge apparently unnerved the goblins, as they dragged their fallen member with them back out the door which they loudly banged on repeatedly.

Halgron, Fen Sen, Frahnk, and Bill Harker returned to the room where they had left Galathos but were startled when he drew a hand-axe and buried it in Frahnk’s chest. Not listening to their cries the fighting-man drew his flamberge and readied him self to charge. Pulling the fallen lantern-bearer behind them they went back out the door and spiked it shut. Ministering one of the few remaining healing salves to Franhk, Fen Sen realized that he was likely going to have to find another lantern-bearer for their next trip; he doubted that Frahnk would likely be up for another go-around.

Retreating to the far side of the room, Galathos took shelter behind the far door and waited for the goblins to pour through. Peering around the edge of the door the fighting-man was horrified to see that the far door was bending towards him in a way that he previously hadn’t known was physically possible. Hearing unnatural demonic noises from the far side of the quickly approaching door, the warrior listened to reason and fled away from the room with the sphere. He ran away into a room with an odd collection of bent and twisted metal, with an odd piece of scorched glass hanging off the burnt metal frame. The next room Galathos ran into contained two large barrels filled with earth; dumping them out the warrior was rewarded with a sack of over a hundred small gems. Not hearing the demons anymore, the fighting-man returned to the room adjacent to the floating sphere and proceeded to take a nervous rest. After he recovered his wits, Galathos decided to again investigate the sphere- this time from a bit more of a distance.

Not knowing what Galathos was up to, and feeling very tired and exerted the party decided to return to the defendable room where they had acquired the clown doll. After resting up they again returned to where they had left the fighting-man. This time they discovered the room empty. Hearing a noise from the room with the floating sphere, Old Man Halgron nervously opened the door.

Halgron spied Galathos throwing hand axe after hand axe into the glowing sphere, apparently not noticing that the axes were not landing on the far side of the sphere. A great deal of confusion was had all around, and much deliberation was needed before everyone had figured out what had happened.

Galathos led the party back through the rooms he had fled through, making sure to neglect to mention the sack full of gems that he had found. Continuing on, they came to an odd door, one that in place of a normal door know had a handle down at the bottom running parallel to the floor. Realizing that the door lifted upwards, they entered the chamber beyond and found another stairwell descending into the darkness below. Old Man Halgron casually rooted through a pile of bones in the corner and discovered a teardrop shaped red gem which the party carefully placed in Fen Sen’s pack.

At this point, our band of fearless heroes huddled up and discussed what to do next.

Experience: 104 each (312 total)
Treasure: 0 gp, 105 sp, 350 cp; two small electrum balls, ruby, gold comb, 117 small gems, small tear-drop shaped gem
Encounters: one crazy warrior killed
Total Rooms Explored: 37

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Easy Campaign Idea

Here's an easy idea to run a campaign. Temple of Elemental Evil, A series, then GDQ. Prep work is kept relatively low and I can work to expand the modules' sandbox aspects to be more like T1/Homlett. It's not exactly original, but there is plenty of room for creativity and a personal touch, plus enough material to last for years of sessions.

Concerns: The modules would be pretty damned tough for a 4 person party. I don't think anyone else in the group has played these modules before, but they may have read them. I would have to check up either way.

It is still a promising campaign idea and can easily be a fun game, regardless if I don't have a big personal stamp to put on the design.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

3rd Campaign Setting Idea

So this would be the third possible campaign setting for my mostly-but-not-quite nonexistent game. I began thinking up this campaign setting during the few sessions I had with the group out of Rock Hill and it slowly developed over a few game sessions.

The foundation of the setting would be Greyhawk during a mashed-up version of the Greyhawk Wars. There isn't a whole lot fleshed out for this setting, I would mine modules and supplements for concrete material, like dungeons, NPCs, cities, etc.

The meat of my creative input into this setting would be rooted in my interest in history, especially the history of warfare. This setting would be a sort of total war scenario, where Geoff is occupied like the "Against The Giants" silver anniversary supplement, Iuz and his machinations, a resurgent Temple of Elemental Evil, various demi-humans in the Pomarj, etc. (I'm extremely poorly versed in Greyhawk, so I am sure I am screwing up the details and I know these events are not concurrent by the book.)

The backdrop of the campaign would be heavily tied into wars. The initial group would be in the county of Gran March in the recently liberated city of Hochoch (this according to Against the Giants). From there, the setting could involve the PCs adventuring in occupied Geoff or through war-torn counties like Gran March, Yeomancy, and Sterich. The sandbox would be full with intrigue, conflict, opportunity, multiple sides, and plenty of enemies and allies on both sides of the war to fill the sandbox.

This setting appeals to my sensibilities by creating fictional military campaigns for the ongoing wars in Geoff. By using published material, prep work would be reduced since I can fit pieces in as needed. For example, the homestead under siege by goblins from B10 could easily fit into this setting, along with the myriad of dungeons, lairs, and fortresses littered through the B series, the G series, and pretty much anything and everything Mystara and Greyhawk.

This game would run more like a typical fantasy setting. There wouldn't be any apocalypse to survive and adapt to nor a "historical" setting meshing with fantasy. Typical might be the wrong word, more like "familiar." So would players rather have a "familiar" sandbox to play in, or would the fun in discovering an unfamiliar setting provide fun? Would it not really matter if the DM and players were any "good"?

Well, it's a third idea to throw in the hat.