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Archive for September, 2011

Another week of D&D Encounters sees our doughty group of heroic swimmer, the Bellyfloppers, looking to make their next splash. This time is the district of Black Lake, where the Sewer Rats make their hideout. They were attacked by members of the Dead Rats gang last week who also claimed to be good friends with the Lost Heir of Neverwinter. After the fight, the tavern owner congratulated them on clearing out the trash and offered them free room and board. He also told them where tofind the Dead rat hideout. “Follow the street out front until you can’t follow it no more.”

So bright and early the party makes their way down the ruined avenue towards Black Lake. Once a small pond in Black Lake Park, thought to be bottomless, the lake expanded to be over a mile across, flooding the neighborhood around it. Now forlorn ruins, steeples, chimneys and walls stuck out of the water at precarious angles as they neared the end of the street, which continued on right into the waters of black lake.

Next to the water’s edge, a small wooden boathouse sat, with an empty dock jutting into the black water. The ranger Belgos determined that many feet went in and out of the boathouse, and under a mildewed rug they found a big green sewer pipe with ladder rungs descending into darkness. Soon they discovered they were under the lake itself, and fould water dripped from th stones of the sewer pipes. The twisting and turnings were difficult to follow and each character took a turn leading the party.

They had a horrible time, getting stuck in one way tunnels, finding themselves in noxious fumes, and going in circles for hours. Eventually they came to an area that was recently traveled, and knew they were close. But turning a corner they saw a humungous fat crocodile, lazing half in the putrescent water Quinaro wasted no time but launched an arrow that glanced of the horny crocodile hide.

The rest of the party moved into the long narrow hall to attack, but no sooner had they done that, then two huge dire rats spilled out of a pipe behind them. Caught between rats and crocs, the heroes were hard pressed. At one point, the wizard Suldin was down to 1 hp, and his familiar owl was knocked out of the air by a dire rat. He risked all to get to his owl, and rescued it.

Not so fortunate was Jarvix the mentalist, who was grabbed by the crocodile and pulled to the back of the hall. Jarvix miraculously recoverd and pulled himself out of the crocs mouth, only to be bit again. This time, his legs and arms fell into the water as the crocodile swallowed what was left of the unconscious Jarvix. Played by my son, I showed no mercy describing the awful death of Jarvix. His half orc barbarian may have avoided the death blow for two years and 14 levels of play, but when I found the chance to slaughter Jarvix, I could not say no to the coup d’etat.

Nearly everyone else died in this battle, and I am sure they would have if I had not started pulling punched. When one of my favorite players Trent got quiet and ashen faced upon hearing the news that his owl was struck down by a rat, I knew that this was not the night for a lesson in hard core. The new player in the group, Belgos, was still standing and had a few hit points left.

One thing that was different from the way the encounter was written was that I used a large and a huge crocodile instead of 2 medium ones. The reason for this is that I have large and huge croc miniatures, but I would have had to use frogs if I went with the recommended medium, and that would be lame. Also, for whatever reason, any time I bring a croc into a fight, whether it be at Encounters or my home game, the battle always becomes intense, so I brought them for the drama. I kept all their stats as written.

About this encounter, the most I can say, is WOW was it deadly. Those rats hit for some major damage, and this ould easily have been a wipe if I had not let a replacement for Jarvix show up mdway throught he fight. Edith the fight came screaming down the stairs to help slaughter the implacable beasts and finally, luckily, the heroes vanquished their foes. Good battle, too hard, but fun. For once no one went swimming, must have been because of my 5 minute soliloquy on how disgusting, vile, and noxious the thick soup of human waste was.

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First Valley of the Dwarf Lords

Far north in the lands of constant ice, deep in the mountains known as the Spurs of Creation, cleaves the Valley of the Dwarf Lords. Cutting the mountain range in two, the Valley spans the last habitable land before giving way to the cold north. To the north are the jagged upthrusts of the Snowy Peaks – half mountain, half glacier, and south of the valley, the Spurs of Creation continue as the Stony Peaks.

It is said that in days of old the first dwarves held back the approaching ice, and turned it aside into the Bay of the Grinding Ice. The bays distinguishing feature are the volcanic isles forever battling the encroaching ice bergs. To the east the the land ends in another long Bay, Neverwinter, so named for the volcanic reactions of Mount Hotenow, an extinct but still warm volcano. To this warm water bay a great city also named Neverwinter grew under the shadow of Hotenow, and the city became enriched by the Dwarvish Lords and traded often.

The war changed all that. The dwarf lords and their hosts were slain in battle with orcs and the noblest dwarf houses were wiped out with all thei vassals. Even then, the north was beset upon by evil erupting from the ice as monsters and fiendish humanoinds swept down on the undefended north. Each house fell in epic fashion, one by one, until only Thobost Gar, the Death Girder, remained standing. Here a great battle was waged as the Civil Malitia of besieged Neverwinter allied themselves with the First Dwarves, and would have won the day against the combined horde of orcs and goblins, if only the deceptive kobolds had not managed to slip past the the Death Girder, and cause havoc and mayhem in the dwarvish rear.

Even then, the knights of Neverwinter still might have carried the day and saved the dwarves in turn, if old Mt. Hotenow had not chosen that moment to tear the city on its banks asunder in a volcanic eruption. The war ended 100 years ago, and the city is slowly being rebuilt. The Dwarvish Halls however are not. Rather, the Dwarves of Second Home are collecting what they can of their cousins remains. One last time the Valley of the Dwarf Lords has begun to enrich a new Neverwinter, an outpost in a cold land of darkness and dread.

Seven Great mansions the Dwarf Lords built in the First Valley. It was said that Moradin with his own hand chopped the valley and planted the dwarves as seeds deep in the mountains, and each family could trace its days into utter antiquity.

The First Mansion is Thobost Gar. This Great Dwarven Fortress is known as the Death Girder and it spans and cliffs between the Stony and Snowy Mountain ranges at the mouth of the valley. The great wall between mountains is many hundreds of feet tall and just as wide. It is said that an entire army can be shaded at one time whilst passing through the yawning entrance. Their are no doors and no need, the walls themselves were the defense and were full of arrow slits, even the arching stone butresses 100 feet overhead. It was taken by kobolds who still infest the northern section.

Megadru the Hammered Pillar is the second great dwarf fortress, mightiest in wealth and oldest of the seven as well. It is a great pyramid rising out of the central highland plains of the valley, built of white marble. Under the pyramid is a second, inverted pyramid of open air descending deep into the earth, the terraces of Megadru were lit by green glass blocks set into the pyramid above. The Hammered Pillar was second to fall, after the Red Tower was overwhelmed by evil humanoids streaming out of the icy north.

Stasisgem is the third of the Great Houses. Though it claims to be the oldest, and traces its heritage back to a single mushroom seed, it is also the humblest. Nestled at the foot of a mountain of granite on a verdant plot of earth, Stasisgem boasts the greatest wealth of natural resources, both above the soil and under. Its mines are not expansive, but are said to run deep. Stasisgem fell by the plundering hordes, attacked from above and below.

Fourth is Minesport. It was once an elegant fortress built into a sheer cliff wall, and grew to become the fairest of all the fortresses to look upon. The entire cliff was carved and filigreed but it cold not save them from the tide of evil that slew them all. Giants tore down many of the richest balconies of Minesport, which now gape like howling maws into the biting winds.

The Red Tower, fifth, brightest, and youngest of the Great Houses once stood like a beacon of hope, rising from a flatened summit amongst the diamond glistening peaks of the Snowy Mountains. The fortress was also called Diamondvise in Dwarvish, and a silver bridge connected it to the nearest neighbor, and from their a narrow winding way led to the valley floor. The Red Tower fell too, though it fought tooth and nail. Betrayed from below, its silver bridge was averted, and rumors tell of pacts made with demonic forces are what led to its underworld breach.

The sixth house was ignobly named Tradescum, and it was a shallow digging into the soft sands on the shore of the Bay of Grinding Ice. Shallow coal was its claim to fame, that and what it could trade from the wild coastal peoples. Tradescum had no defense to speak of and was swept aside almost as soon as the valley was breached. Though ignoble and sand-scrabbling, it was Tradescum who gave rise to the greatest achievements of dwarfdom.

Coalminer’s Daughter was the name of the seventh colony built into one of the volcano-islands in the Bay of Greinding Ice. It was a rich environment of ore and surface magma, and the forges of Coalminer’s Daughter were accounted the greatest of all Dwarf Forges. It was not only the dwarves who laid claim to the magma of Coalminer’s Daughter, however, and Demons of the Abyss came bubbling out of the pools of liquid fire to slay the Coalminer’s daughter from within.

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I'm a star!

Its all about the dice, its all about rolling the dice. It is about success and failure and that moment when the die is ricocheting off a book and heading towards the edge of the table and you don’t know if your character is alive or dead, until BAM, you roll them bones and find out. Dungeons and Dragons is a game best played with equal parts imagination, decision making, and random chance. The more dice rolled, the more random chance can influence the game, and provide the epic stories with something neither the players, nor dungeon masters can: the unexpected.

It is no mere coincidence that players of the game hold their dice in reverence. Some players pray to their dice before important rolls, while others will toss a bad dice into the inferno, or worse, at their dungeon master’s head. Why have them if not to use? If I can keep my players happily rolling dice, then they haven’t the time or incentive to launch the pointed solids my way.

Many people talk about playing dice-less games (shudder) and about minimizing the affect of random chance on the game. To this I say: pshaw! We are not writing a book, nor are we acting out a play. We are playing a GAME. And a game needs mechanics that can allow unexpected results. This is not always true, for example there is no random chance in chess. (And indeed some of the longer 3.5 battles have felt more like a chess game than a bloody head chopping melee.) But if you look to wargames, there is not a single one I know of that does NOT have some type of randomization. I am here to tell you that the more you roll them bones, the better your game will be. Fun, funny, surprising, Epic failures and jaw-dropping victories is what you get when you relinquish control of the story to the great randomizer in the sky.

Now then, this is all fine and good, but let’s look at the particulars. Everybody rolls dice to hit, and usually for damage. (I have heard of people who houserule their game in such ways as doing average damage, on a successful hit, or even auto-hit! To forgo dice rolling. To this I say, you are doing it wrong, sirrah!) But opinions vary and there is no one true way. My only argument is that it is never the dice that slows down play, it is the human factor. Even the time adding up modfifiers is not specifically the fault of the dice so much as the system. Success versus failure can and should come down to the roll of the dice whenever possible.

Roll for anything and everything is my belief. Crossing a slippery surface, hiding from the king’s guard, telling a joke (with an appropriate bonus for role playing) should all include die rolls. I encourage my playersto roll dice as often as possible, sometimes (but not always) for the most mundane reasons! The first person who has never tripped over their own feet while walking sown a completely unobstructed hallway can tell me that I am wrong in this. Rolling a d20 for anything and everything has one additional benefit, a cherished one:

Critical Success and Failure

In a game of random chance, there is a moment for epic glory, and there is a moment or something else… epic fail. D&D is built upon the sacrosanct d20 and all that its roll can represent. From glory to shame, from landing on a dragons head, to spilling wine down the bodice of the queen, and all levels of success and failure in between, the d20 is the undisputed ruler of the ice in dungeons and dragons, and the more chances there are to use it, the better. I have no qualms with having my charging monsters take a nose dive at the fee of the players when I roll 1’s in battle, and I like to increase the drama and tension out of battle too, with the critical success and fail rules. A 1 always fails, usually spectacularly, and almost always in such a way that it requires MORE work to undo the damage. A natural 20 is a spectacular success, often earning especial glory for the creature who pulls it off, and often making any further tasks easier.

Anything should be possible. Even the craziest ideas an be summed up with: give it a try, if you roll a natural 20, then we’ll see, but if you dont’t, then look out!

Higher is Better
Rolling 1’s and 20’s throughout the game session doesn’t necessarily determine what does and doesn’t happen during a game session, but it can provide a measure for the difficulty. When using skills, not only does a clear cut success/fail take place when targetting a specific defense, but the roll can also indicate a general level of success. Take stealth for example. If a rogue rolls a stealth check, and get a 15, then he is at a certain level of stealthiness where he can be seen by those with a higher perception, and not by those with a lower. In the same way, rolling a certain number on a skill check announces how well the character achieves in the activity.

In this way any die roll can be used to determine any level of success. From a flip of a coin, to percentile dice, the roll quickly shows not only a pass/fail, but also quality of skill use.

Everything Else
I make my players roll for everything, well everything I can get away with, like falling damage. Sure, why not! The p;ayers bought, covet, and love their dice so much, why not let them roll. Or another example is if a character has dominated a monster I have them roll the to hit and damage for that monster. Roll them bones, say I. The more clattering of dice is happening at the table, the more chance of chaos, an I am an agent of chaos.

However, No one likes to see their beloved character slip on a banana peel every twentieth step, and it is easy to draw these guidelines out to make characters roll for very single little step they take, but that is not the intent – only when it matters is a key concept. Roll the dice early and often.

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One of my earliest deviations...

Recently I found myself down in the garage opening the musty old chest I call my “game box.” This old thing contains pretty much all the surviving game material from my pre and post pubescent years. Besides the Dungeons and Dragons material, which is all stacked and shelved nicely nearby, this box is a chaos of papers, books, maps, tokens, and stuff from other games that we played back in the day. “The Day” means from 1982, when I started playing D&D during recess in 6th grade, until my junior year of high school, where certain other things got in the way of playing. During these 5 or 6 years of intense gaming, we played D&D almost constantly, completing at least 3 full campaigns, including two that I ran, and another DM who ran the complete Dragonlance saga (with our own PCs rather than the famous characters from the book.)

Yet in the midst of all the dungeons and dragons, there were always other games happening. Some were one night stands, others were played when the full group couldn’t meet, and yet others were just short or long escapades and side treks into other role playing games. Sifting through the old trunk full of loose papers and books, it brought back many memories of these other games, which I thought I would share, since I am feeling in a little bit of a reminiscent mood. In the early to mid 80’s, there were a plethora of role playing options, and my group and I tried out many of the best, and worst, games of the era, but the fun and memories we shared together makes all of these games worthy gems.

Whether or not they are ever played again, at least we can look back and enjoy them for what they were at the time. A fun alternative to D&D, and a chance to widen our experience and learn of different genres. I hope you enjoy this brief retrospective on some of the great RPGs from the golden era of role playing.

Even as I was still trying to figure out D&D in the summer of 1983 we were trying out another game by the name of Champions. This was a superhero game, and a favorite of Monte, a big brother a few years older than us. We idolized him for his early RPG roots, and had tons of fun playing in what we called a sandbox game. We never spent too much time with the rules, and indeed we usually played outside in the grass, and used the terrain around us as our campaign world. Sticks, twigs, grass, and piles of dirt became out stomping grounds during these “pick up” games that were basically little more than us little 10-12 yr old kids showing up and gathering around Monte while he led us through adventures I have no memory of whatsoever. Besides all the outdoor fun, about the only other thing I can recall from this time period are the character sheets, and how much time we spent drawing our heroes on the stick models provided.

Champions was a game of great fun, and for our tender minds, this game was all about imagination and had very little rules clutter. In many ways, this was one step removed from playing cowboys and Indians, or cops and robbers. Much like at recess where certain obstacles could only be overcome by a trip to the monkey bars, in these young games, our childlike playfulness was barely kept in check by Monte, who allowed us to explore like children. It was a great way to learn role playing games, by playing, and only allowing the rules to show up in small unimportant doses.

Monte also had the Traveler books, but he warned us that they were more advanced, and that he would not deign to teach us to play, since we were kids and morons. That didn’t stop us from trying though, and we spent many long hours with his little black books, trying to roll up characters. As far as I can remember, we never once had a character survive the generation process, and eventually came to believe that Monte was right, and we were to moronic for that austere game. Thus was Traveler just a flash in the pan for us, and we never gave it a second chance. (good riddance.)

Ah Julie

During the summers growing up I would often go to Pensacola Florida, and 1983 was no exception. My dad was away in Europe for the first part of the summer vacation, and so I spent vast amounts of time playing role playing games with my new young step-mom. (I fantasized about her being closer to my 12-13 years than my dad’s 30+ but that is a tale for a different time, and probably a different blog altogether.)

Pensacola had one of the greatest hobby stores. I wish I could remember the name, but it was right down town, near the music store where my dad worked, and along with the nearby arcade, going to the hobby store was one of the highlights of summer. Much of my arsenal of RPG goods was bought at that store, including the game Toon and Toon Strikes Back. It was also where I picked up my mega-mat, after seeing it one year and saving up for it the next.

Toon was the role playing game Julie and I spent the summer playing, sitting around on the living room floor. It was loads of fun, and the thing I remember most about it was the “Chutzpah!” rule. Apparently you needed a lot of chutzpah to play that game, and we hammed it up as much as possible. I don’t even remember any of the characters. I was the gm, and there were some other kids who would occasionally play with us, but the majority of the time it was me and Julie laughing it up.

That shop in Pensacola was also where I picked up the next game on my list, James Bond 007. What originally drew me to this game was the awesome equipment. They had chapters of the most beautiful British and European sports cars, each of which was decked out in the best spy equipment. I remember seeing Aston Martins that could travel underwater and Ferrari’s with rocket boosters. Spy pens, computer watches, robotic crocodiles, it was all in there, and it even had adventures made from the best movies. I owned Goldfinger and Doctor No, both excellent in quality and content. The maps were incredible, and the adventure was made to be played through either as James Bond, or with a party of other heroic super spies. I especially remember the rules for seduction in that game, with great NPC characters such as Pussy Galore.

Three other games that were also popular about this time, but that no one in our circle of gaming friends was able to procure, were the TSR games Gangbusters, Boot Hill, and Top Secret. These 3 semi-realistic historical role playing games were mentioned in the AD&D DM guide, and were always on our lookout list, but it never happened. Too bad. One game that did happen was TSR’s post apocalyptic heart breaker Gamma World. What a game! I loved this game, and would pull it out any chance I could. It was about this time that I discovered the wonder of the post apocalypse from movies like Mad Max and The Day After, as well as everyday life, where our school held “nuclear war” alarms, and a big siren would go off every couple of weeks in our neighborhood. The Day After was filmed in my hometown.

The 80’s was a very strange time. As the Cold War reached climax, the nation was in stark terror of a nuclear war, and every time an airplane flew over, it sounded like it might be an ICBM missile streaking towards evil Russia. Gamma World, and the other post apocalyptic games we played, such as Aftermath, helped us through this time, and gave us the courage to face these dark days, and even allowed us to fantasize about overcoming them. With robot dogs and crossbows.

Speaking of Mad Max, I would be remiss if I weren’t to bring up Car Wars. For a long time, this simple little game held our attention as much as D&D, and I can remember one summer I spent building a complete RPG rule set onto the small book of rules for automobile combat. This game inspired us in our post apocalyptic fervor and was probably the second most played game after D&D. We even played mini campaigns with our characters and cars. I can not under-state how influential this game was to me, and to our fledgling group of gamers. Doing a bootlegger’s reverse was considered the epitome of awesome. Incidentally the movie Deathrace 2000 was as influential to our Car Wars gaming, as Road Warrior was to our Gamma World.

gurps

During the course of our journey through the role playing greats of the 80’s, we also spent a fair amount of time doing other geeky endeavors. One of these endeavors was close combat with duct tape and foam covered wooden weapons. (my Bohemian Ear Spoon with a duct taped roll of paper towels on the end was a masterpiece to behold – or wield.) Through the local Renaissance Festival we were introduced to the Society for Creative Anachronism and this gritty combat led us to favor more detail in our combats than D&D was used to giving us, and led with flirtations into other sorts of games, like GURPS man to man for one. Aftermath also had a hit location chart and short turns, and we were drawn to these sorts of games at the time.

To this day I still remember the circular arguments about how to specify hit locations for non humanoid enemies, ugh. However, it is good to see that the later iterations of D&D agreed with us that a one minute combat round was too non-specific, and like we did during our realism kick, rounds are now shortened down to a few seconds apiece. You can thank me later.

Yossarian the Yazarian is the one on the right - its goggle time baby!

I have yet to mention one of our greatest diversions. Star Frontiers (also from TSR) was a sci fi game that appealed to all of us. It was mostly like D&D which was a boon, and its cast of races was of such magnificent imagination that there was a race for each of us to enjoy. I personally played Yossarian the Yazarian during our Star Frontiers Epoch, and we were lucky enough to have our other DM Roge run us through the Star Frontiers inspired adventures 2001 and 2010 a Space Odyssey. That was one weird movie tie-in related set of products. (Must check ebay for these.) As far as I can remember it was also kind of lame. I probably felt that way because I couldn’t have my flying monkey man go up against HAL 9000.

So far I have mentioned only the role playing games I played growing up, but throughout the tenure of the Midwest Gamers, we played wargames nearly as much as all other games combined (except D&D which was, is and always shall be king.) For tactics, Squad Leader couldn’t be beat, and for grand strategy, a favorite of ours was NATO. Other games included a completely epic WARGAME based on the novel Dune, and a few small “pocket” wargames, such as one about the Alamo, or another one about barbarian tribes. I owned the solo wargame Ambush! And when the movie Platoon came out, they dutifully released and we dutifully bought a somewhat bland wargame based on that movie.

Another game we played towards the end of our decade of hard core gaming was Twilight 2000. I played an east german hottie double agent named Nadia in the game and two things I remember from the game are all the beautiful descriptions and depictions of weaponry. (I still love that Swiss G11.) One other iota of trivia – Twilight 2000 introduced us to the successor to the jeep, called the HMMVW or “Humvey” for short, and it was an ubiquitous vehicle in the game, we all drove them. Years later I would see the actual vehicle, though it was called the “Hummer” for short. If you call it a “humvey” people will look at you funny. So I give credit to Twilight 2000 to correctly calling the future of the jeep, but they lose a point for getting the slang name wrong.

Moral of the story: you never forget your first hummer.

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With the dying scream of the mortally frozen earth titan, the heroes knew it was time to vacate the premises. They managed to grab the slain hill giant chiefs roughly hewn gold crown as well as a chest full of 9,000 gold pieces. They then followed the hollowed tunnel into the center of the mount Hotenow and thus found the second divine engine. This one was wrought of platinum, adamantium, and sky metal, that fabled material to aid the champions against creatures of chaos. The machine was motionless in its force field, but the heroes knew the ritual to bring down the field. They then teleported back into the safety of D Argent, gaining a level along the way. (14!)

Returning in victory, they discussed matters with Rowthar, who had also been busy with research. To work the sky metal, he would need to find his people, the stewards and companions to the champions of D Argent. The lion men who called themselves Torrians had vanished during the great war 100 years ago, and he had found evidence that pointed to the head steward, the proctor. There were potions that would allow the heroes to go back in time to the time when the torrians abandoned D Argent so long ago. SO they did, and discovered stuff, which led them to the Hidden Vale, where they got to batle a few wily lion men at a river crossing. Nothing major.

Then they made it to the Torrian village and spoke to a demon that had possessed the lot of them. Thokk slew 28 of the civilians, including women and children, whilst chasing the demonic voice as it leapt from torrian to torrian. Eventually through the strength of will of the heroes, the were able to defeat the possession and force it to flee into the hills to the southeast. Good job everyone!

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Ok first off, for anyone curious, I substituted this week’s encounter with the Twig Blights. The reasons are manifold, but namely that gawd I hate twig blights, and the encounter seemed random and unimportant. For that reason, I decided to look back to encounter 4 or 5 (which we missed due to my late start this season) and found the bridge encounter be more inspiring. Its triage out here man, for the best encounters possible, and culling the twig blights for some plague spell mayhem felt more epic and connected to the 0overall story.

In addition, I changed the party start position to be the back edge on the bridge – really trapped, not that weak sauce start position the module recommends. Next, I made it so the party was surprised, and the monsters got a free action except for those who got above 20 initiative. (Heh, I have to maintain my reputation for evil, don’t I?) And the final piece of the puzzle was a slight change to one of the monsters, from a lame-o plaguechanged wretch with nothing but a similar melee claw attack as the 3 brute allies, into a ninga-jedi who fired a plaguechanged hand-cannon. (pronounced neen-ga for copyright issues. Jedi is fine though.)

These jedi were hidden in doorwells and one hand glowed white hot and shot out bolts of cold-flame. Each character hit ended up with their face either frozen with ice or blackened by flame. They are Ninga! They actually ended up pretty lame anyway, though to great hilarity and suspenseful action. One of them was riddled with no fewer than 3 magic missile holes in his forehead (making a smoking slot) and finally when he was ultimately destroyed the top of his head exploded into a volcanic eruption of brains that rained down on everyone for moments afterward.

The other one was in a personal duel with the eladrin sword mage. New player wanted an eladrin sword mage, but the best I could do was an eladrin mage – with a sword! He had an encounter long duel one on one with a ninga-jedi and was down to 1 hp at one point, but never fell. As his finishing move, he used his teleport to appear next to the ninga and then stab him with his sword. Sadly he missed, but I told him that the ninga screamed like a little girl when he appeared and wet himself. The next wizard finished him and sent him flying backwards into the river, and the ninga’s last words were that at least no one would notice his wet pants.

Meanwhile everyone refused to leave the bridge by any other means than jumping into the fould smelling black and oily river with jagged rocks just below the surface. Sounds exciting don’t it? Well we all expected Quinaro to dive into the river, but whn the illusionist Suldin, did a cannonball, everyone was surprised. The wizard had just finished doing 0 damage on a hit while stabbing with is obsidian dagger (1d4-1 ya thats right he did 0 damage, though I ruled it was minimum 1 after describing the frail mage’s weak chicken arms stabbing stabbing stabbing and leaving not but tiny red marks on the plaguespawn’s back. One of the ninga saw his action and said “Surely this is a mighty wizard who is so powerful that he can afford to forgo his mighty spells and stab with his puny blade” thereupon hitting him with his hand cannon.He had little choice but to dive off the bridge after that fiasco.

Then the ever tactical minded Belgos did a bellyflop into the river and it was anarchy. He actually landed on an enemy and impaled him on the sharp rocks, transferring the falling damage to the plaguespawn and impaling him on the rocks, which he then rode like a boogy board for awhile. It was at this point a crowd started peaking around nearby corners shouting things like “Hey look its that new adventuring group in town, the Bellyfloppers!”

There was so much more that happened. Like the magic missile that chased a ninga all the way up a drain pipe, across a roof and down the other side before hitting him, there was the cat One Whisker who sheathed his claws in the head of a plaguespawn, and a statue that got chipped to pieces every time the ninga’s hand cannon missed Berrian the eladrin mage with a sword. Etc.

End time 8:02, mission success.

Addendum. My wife says I play to the crowd. Tonight’s average player age: 12.5

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Yup its da giants

Well it seemed pretty much agreed upon that this weeks climactic battle was one of the best yet. It came as somewhat of a surprise. I guess you could say it was a sleeper battle. But we are getting ahead of ourselves because we actaully managed to get through 2 battles (well 2.5 really…) this week, which in itself is quite impressive.

We left off with the young giant slayers in the guardroom of the hill giant chief’s Home Steading, a rough hewn timber building thrown up against the granite walls of mount Hotenow. Well, after checking one door to find a large drake curled up asleep in front of the other set of entry doors. Smartly, they tip-toed out of that room, and went to the next door, beyond which they knew were dragons. Forgoing stealth, they boldly kicked the door down and charged in.

The room was a sort of common hall and workroom, and one giant was beating out axe blades next to a pool of magma, while a bunch of other giants stood around. The battle was quick, even after a fire elemental rose out of the lava. When the last enemy had been slain, they moved into a hallway and listened at a door, revealing the sound of orcs beyond. Across the hall was a secret door, and opening it, they were confronted by the throne room of the hill giant chief.

This battle is where the fun happened. On round 1 Thokk the half orc barbarian charged into the room and killed all 5 giant minions, one after the other, as he bounced around the room like a ping pong ball. On round 2 Thokk fell into a pit 50 feet down to land next to an Earth Titan. This creature was so big, it made the giants seem puny in comparison.

On round 3 the 5 orc mercenaries ran into the room and their toughness was a surprise to the ginat-slaying heroes. The battle took place up above and down below, and many of the characters spent time in both sections of the battle. It was a suitably climactic last battle for level 13.

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