Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Session Recap: Big Game

So we had a big game last night, both in terms of what we got done and how many we packed in.  I've got lots to write about --- awesome.

Session 11
Party: Tokteh, Vai, Hishomi, Trilliam, Cecil, Valerious, Hodg Q (The Q is Silent), Grorgnorb

Yeah, that's a big ol' party.  Bolstered by their numbers, the party continued to explore the Dwarven monastery nestled in the foothills of Droskar's Crag.  They first discovered a dwarf, long dead by self-administered poison, as well as a mysterious coat-room.  Hishomi is now wearing a cloak made of turtle shell scutes.
Gold?  Of course.  Just give us a hug?
     The party bypassed a room with a desecrated shrine to explore a partially submerged library in the corner of the structure.  The sharp-eyed Grorgnorb noted and avoided the toxic black mold all over the books, and managed to retrieve a single unmoldy tome.  Of course, it was in Dwarven, so no one can read it.  Next they bypassed a crude deadfall trap guarding the guest quarters and surprised a drunken kobold named Wickle, who was woken to Hishomi's fist.  After tying up the unconscious Wickle, The party backtracked to the desecrated shrine and were tempted by a large treasure chest in the corner.   This was naturally a Mimic which tried to eat Vai's face off.  Ambushed by a pair of the sneaky polymorphing creatures, the party used a rather massive volley of spells, arrows and meta-game thinking to kill the things, then pocketed their shark-like teeth.
Wickle wonders if you could
please stop hitting Wickle
 on his head.
     They next encountered a massive talking wolf named Greypelt who asked them rather politely to leave his monastery.  A previous adventuring party had apparently come by to check the place out, and Greypelt has apparently eaten all but one of them, who was left chained to a wall for later.  He seemed like a reasonable giant warg, though, and was willing to talk things out.  He agreed to share the ironbloom mushrooms they were looking and give back his prisoner for if they eliminated an unpleasantly loud and stinky mass of zombified dwarves left by the monastery's previous residents.  Once they healed up Wickle, who it turns out was Greypelt's servant, the kobold lead them to the dead dwarves.  They'd been stripped naked, painted in pastel body paints and packed into three jail cells, where they gnashed quietly together in a pile.  After ruling out burning by reason of terrible stench, the party got the cleric Grorgnorb to channel divine energy into them, turning quite a few into a fine white dust.  Unfortunately, his channels were tapped out for the day, so they settled down for the night in the abandoned watch tower that had previously housed the giant spider.  Wickle brought them food, wine, and the warg's prisoner, a wizard named Simon.  All were cautiously accepted, though Simon was much less cautiously accepted by certain elven women in the party.  Other than a tense exchange between Greypelt and Valerious on the roof, the night passed quietly.
     In the morning,   Grorgnorb cleared out the rest of the zombie dwarves, and Greypelt made good on his promise to deliver the goods.  Ironbloom mushrooms in hand, the party set off for Falcon's Hollow, with Simon tagging along.  Another late night private body hair snatching alerted the party to the continued presence of their sneaking poltergeist companion.  When they reached Elara's Half-Way House, the party plotted an ambush.  After a much needed bath washed away zombie dust, mimic slobber and various kinds of gore, the party settled in for a night of poltergeist catching.  When Hishomi's stolen shrunken head caught the invisible intruder, the party proceeded to flour the hell out of it.  Or him.  So Skitter the Quasit finally revealed himself, and after slapping some farm girls proceeded to call a breakfast demon-dealing session.  He's got a scheme for all the gold you can carry, you see, and all the party has to do is go into this pocket dimension created by a candle. Skitter gave the party a month to think about it, and a bone whistle to call him back when they decide.  He also handed out a couple gifts as good will gestures, insulted Tokteh's mom, and offered Vai a weapon mighty enough to defeat his sworn enemy, the nation of Isger.  He'll be back when they call.
I paid first and last month's rent on this place! Back off!
Oh, would you like some un-poisoned ham?

And that's where we ended the night.  With a party that big, we had to shift things up a little bit -- going around the table for initiative order, for example.  One of the things I enjoyed was the use, for a little while at least, of a caller who summarized the party's plan to the GM.  This might work well in the future for large games.

I have lots more to write . . . it'll come up as I have time.

Monday, March 12, 2012

4D6 Rooms

Okay, so we had an awesome game of Pathfinder last night, and I have a lot of things to write up.  But it's a busy day, so while I find time to work on those things:


I have been thinking a lot about old-school randomly generated dungeons,  inspired in part by maps like the one above, from this blog that I like.  So here's the Challenge:

Write short (~ 100 words) descriptions of dungeon rooms, with dimensions no larger than 50 ft to a side. No named treasures or detailed item lists --- describe the room quickly, and don't stress the details.  Write 4, and post them in the comments.  Each set of four will have one randomly chosen room (via the roll of a 1D4) incorporated in my next dungeon and into my game --- more than one, if they are awesome.  But at least one.  Once it would no longer encourage certain players to cheat, I'll post the whole dungeon here.


A heavy wooden door opens on to this small side chamber.  In one corner, a low sill surrounds a well about four feet across, with a bucket and a coil of rope nearby.  A wooden rack against the far wall holds a few rusty swords and axes.  A large table to the left holds a single guttering candle, a steak slowly turning green, and an open book.  A pile of stale hay in the corner reeks of urine, and a small broken mirror sits near the door.  

The delicate oak door to this room is warm to the touch.  The room is covered in multicolored tiles set in vibrant patterns, and 10 large tubs dip into the floor.  Two large platinum drains open in the floor of the room, which tilts gently down to meet them.  The walls are lined with decoratively carved busts of children with gentle jets of steam puffing from their mouths. Shallow pools of water fill all the tubs but one, which is filled instead with a leathery amphibian husk. 

A partial roof collapse here has let in a mass of twisting roots, wet with a foul dark water.  In the rubble pile that dominated the center of the room, five huge red mushrooms glow softly. A tiny blue man smoking a pipe shelters under one of the mushrooms. holding a tiny shovel and looking distressed.

a 20 foot by 20 foot room of crudely hewn stone.  6 goblins with cleavers and a large ham.  One locked chest.  One scared chicken of medium quality.

Post 'em in the comments.  I'll use 'em.  Though maybe not like you expect.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bounty: Tork the Troll

*****************BOUNTY POSTED****************

POSTED BY: The town of Hogshead

BOUNTY: 500 pieces of Gold

The TROLL known as TORK the GROSS has recently been sighted EAST of the town of HOGSHEAD.  The Council of Yeoman offer a bounty of 500 PIECES OF GOLD  and 15 SPRING LAMBS to the individual or fellowship that brings PROOF of Tork's removal or death before the Council.

DESCRIPTION: Tork can be identified by his exceptional NOSE, missing left EAR, and marked STENCH.

Tork the Gross was last seen removing 3 sheep from the east field of Farmer Potcropper to the area of Alisson Slough. 

Skitter, Part 1

     Skitter wasn't born, no.  Skitter was hatched in the dark.
     A long time ago, it was.  How long is not important.  Skitter slithered free surrounded by brothers and sisters, yes. All slippery, all strong and screaming.  All biting.  Skitter ate them, yes.  One by one, then faster, crunching them in my teeth, tearing them.  Pulling, snapping.  Yes.  All the others.  They are in Skitter's belly now.
     The Abyss is my home, yes.  But no fun to be had there.  Big ones, stronger than Skitter.  Smash and bite, make you fly here, fly there.  Eat the scraps from their tables.  Ooooh, dry bones.  Powdery bones.  The slightest scent of blood left on them, just the slightest.  But Skitter is clever.  Knives in the dark.  Ears listening.  He found out the way, and flew high high high, up the cliffs, into the black. Up.  Heard him whispering from the cracks, old Salizar Hender.  He was younger then.  Energetic, fast blood, arrogant.  We made his deal, signed in blood.
     And the crack opened, and I crawled through into this world.
     Salizar was so proud.  Skitter was his little pet.  And Skitter was a good pet.  Helped him learn, shielded him from his enemies.  Showed him where to look, to see the dark things that crept into his mind like worms and latched around his soul.  He was good to Skitter.  Meals of fresh meat, mead.  Then slowly, fresher meat.  Blood. He'd turn the other way, not watch Skitter.  But he wanted power.  And Skitter helped him find it.
     But you meat-sticks are weak.   Salizar got old, brittle.  Too much yellow fat.  No energy for delving and searching.  For slaughtering.  He slowed down.  But Skitter did not.
     Salizar died because he was old and weak.
     Things came from the Abyss, to return Skitter to the darkness.  Things that slithered and ate and were hungry.  But Skitter is clever.  Old Salizar's soul was riddled through, rotten, but mine. Years it took, to slip it from him.  Skitter thinks he didn't ever know.  Except perhaps at the end.
    Skitter traded that soul (so dark red! so delicious!) to the things that came, and the things that came went away.  No one looks for Skitter.  So many meat-sticks to play with.  He won't come back until he's ready.  Until the fun's been had.  Skitter is clever, you see.  And now, Skitter is free.

Monday, March 5, 2012

History of the World

Like Risk, but with better figures.  And an end to the game.
     In lieu of roleplaying, we spent last night playing a delightful game of History of the World by Avalon Hill.  This is a Risk-like game that takes place across seven historic epochs, where each player takes the role of a civilization that strives to expand across the world.  The civilzation that you play in each epoch is semi-random, which means you can have a big epoch as the Mongols, then a sad one when you get a lame civilzation (I'm looking at you, Hsing-Nu).  This means that there is enough randomness in each game to keep things interesting, but a significant amount of strategy is necessary to do well.  Unlike when playing Agricola, where I can't tell whether I'm doing really well or on the verge of starvation, there is usually an obvious front runner and you can look ahead a few turns and lay out your plans.
     I'm a New World archaeologist, so I was a little saddened by the relative unimportance of the Americas in the game (at least until the final two epochs).  It was fun to watch an alternative history play out on the board -- what happens, for example, when no player draws the Turks and they disappear from history?  Or when a tradition sea power like Portugal decides that, because of the conditions on the board, they are going to strike in-land and take northern Europe, abandoning their naval aspirations?  The whole night I was wishing that we had taken some kind of stop-motion video that would show the expansion and collapse of these historic powers, all in technicolor, spread out across the board.  With infinite time, one could write an alternative history of the world based on the results of a session of the game.
Portuguese Land Galleons strike deep into Gothic Northern Europe. 

     I'm a sucker for alternative histories, so I enjoyed watching Charlemagne fail miserably and seeing the Goths  consolidate Northern Europe and hold it for centuries.  I also enjoyed kicking ass through the entire middle of history, just to be obliterated by globalization and coming in third.  In honor of imagining historic processes, I went back and re-read R.E. Howard's essay on the Hyborian Age, an awesome alternative history that Howard used as the backdrop for his Conan and Kull the Conquerer stories.  An adaptation of that essay can be found here.  The evening also put me in mind of the Age of Unreason series by J. Gregory Keyes, a man directly (and indirectly) responsible for a few of my scars.  Greg imagines a world where alchemy works, in which the Age of Exploration is drastically altered by scientist-sorcerers like Newton and Ben Franklin and their meddling.  It is a great read, and since Greg is an expert in Native Southeastern mythology and folklore, there's some good anthropology in there as well.

     No session update this week --- presumably the party hung out in the courtyard of that Dwarven monastery eating dried trail rations and talked about how unpleasant it is to be shot through with arrows. Stay tuned for next week's adventure, which may feature a wyvern, a pot roast, and/or the inconvenient melting of various PCs.

Mel Brooks knows a little something about historic truths. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Garabaldi's Arboretum

 Timald Garabaldi grew up in the rigging of a merchant ship plying the trade routes of the Inner Sea.  The son of a bosun, Timald enjoyed the market stalls of distant Katapesh and Qadira more than the desk of a ship.  He was taken on as a porter for a botanical expedition into the Mwangi Expanse, which began his lifelong love of plants.  After leading a wildly successful expedition into the jungles of Mediogalti, Timald returned to Absalom and established Garabaldi's Arboretum, dealing in exotic, dangerous and magical plants gathered from the far reaches of the world.

Garabaldi's notebooks are full of wonders.
Wonders and poisons
     Garabaldi's Arboretum is built at the very edge of the Puddles district, in a building bought cheap after the earthquake of 4698 AR.  Visitors to the two story shop are greeted with a wide variety of potted plants, tinctures and dried herbs that make the shop pungent and warm.  Garabaldi carries rare magical components, most of them derived from plants grown on site.  The most unique part of the shop, however, is the extensive green house.  Using imported soils and temperatures controlled through magically created sunlight, Garabaldi has managed to cultivate plants are rare as the Mwangi death flower, dream lotus, ironbloom mushrooms and red pesh cacti.  The greenhouse is somewhat dangerous, and Garabaldi himself controls access.  The large number of carnivorous plants and soporific spores provides security, and thus far all attempts at breaking into the shop have resulted in burglars heavily dosed with various poisons, missing limbs, or driven mad by the narcotic pollen released as part of the plants' defensive mechanisms.  Mages from the Arcanimirium and other arcane institutions are occasionally granted leave to study in the greenhouses (at their own risk of course), though Timauld Garabaldi is notoriously protective of his secrets.
     Garabaldi is a cheerful, ruddy man in middle age, with fingers stained by plant juices.  He lives above the shop, and keeps a pair of employees, Saul and Astrid, who run the shop and help out in the greenhouse.  He  has also managed to "tame" a shambling mound and several small myconids, who busy themselves either in the yard or in the various greenhouses and provide additional security.  Garabaldi's prices are far from inexpensive, but since he is has effectively cornered the market on many of his products, customers pay what he asks or leave empty handed.  He is known to pay hard coin for unique specimens and has occasionally commissioned botanical expeditions to increase his inventory, though such trips are usually fraught with danger, and many of his agents have failed to return.
Our friendly and well educated staff of fungus men are here to assist you.

Shoplifters will be fucking EATEN.