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Archive for January, 2014

The Temple of Elemental Evil Game Night

The Temple of Elemental Evil Game Night

Two years ago this January, we began playing the adventure Village of Hommlett. It was an epic occasion, but fell apart in the village of Nulb before ever venturing into the Temple of Elemental Evil itself. That game included some of the best roleplaying in the history of our game group: featuring one of my all time favorite characters the gunslinger Calamity Jane and her twin sister Calamity Joan; using the Pathfinder Beginner Box rules was a huge change from our earlier style of gaming; Rufus and Burne the gaylords; … there is too much to recount, read about it here: Welcome to the Welcome Wench, Wench!

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Starting this year we changed all that, with a deus machina shift in the gears of our current campaignto place our heroes rght about where the last game ended, at the gates of the Temple of Elemental Evil. It happened like this…

For what seemed an eternity the part of advenurers had been wandering aimlessly through and endless dungeon with no sign of escape. Eventually they found themselves traversing a wide open area with grotesque columns holding up an arched vaulted ceiling. The chittering skittering sounds that were following them wherever they went surrounded them and resolved into giant insects of all shapes and sizes. The one thing they all had in common was that the bodies of the insects were covered in strange tufts of fuzz. The fuzzy mold covering the insects was of a different color for each one, ranging from bright purple to yellow ochre. The insects were easily defeated but the wizard and paladin were each bitten and contrated a constitution-sapping disease. Which the paladin promptly healed.

With much flapping of wings, the Raven Queen appeared, and offered to help them escape from the endless dungeon if they would do her a small favor – and slay the Demon Godess of Cosmic Fungus, Zuggtmoy, who was imprisoned beneath a temple dedicated to evil. They agreed and on a side note the paladin swore fealty to the Raen Queen and was granted additional healing.

They walked through a portal which sent them to a path. In one direction lay a hill in a clearing, upon which the blackened blight of the temple slouched. The other way led to a village of good helpful folk led by gay lords. The Raven warned them not to let the townsfolk know the temple was growing in power, for if they found out, the king’s evil advisor would soon learn and send armies of humanoids.

The Temple of Elemental Evil using Dwarven Forge Game Tiles (plus extras)

The Temple of Elemental Evil using Dwarven Forge Game Tiles (plus extras)

While investigating the temple grounds, they unleashed a horde of 70 giant rats. This caused them to seek quick entry into the temple, so they held the ats off while they broke through the stout side door. Once inside, they began a methodical search of the interior, finding robes in four colors, and finding four means of gaining access to the lower levels: a great pit in the center of the temple had a narrow ledge spiraling down; a grand central stair led downwards; and two sets of spiral stairs also led down, hidden in chambers to the left and right.

While investigating the grotesque throne at the end of the temple, through luck and tenacity, they managed to figure out the puzzle. The chair immediately descended many hundreds of feet downward and opened into a strange fungus filled chamber with many doors ad stairways leading from it. While searching the room, they found two secret doors. The first door led to a sitting room filled with loveseats, divans, nd ottomans of all different colors. The fightress sat down on a green velvet divan and put her feet up on a black leather ottoman only to find they were actually made of green slime and black pudding!

They fled through the other secret door and came to a room that had a conference table and a great map of the region on the wall with the temple marked at its center. A shelf contained many silver weapons. There was also a black ottoman that attacked them and chased them out of the room and all the way back onto the throne, which they took back to ground level, after deciding that they still lacked the power to take on the Demon Goddess of Cosmic Slime in her own boudoir.

They ultimately decided to take a side stair down to the first level of the dungeon and begin exploring there. They passed through two intersections before coming to a hexoganal shaped room with debris on the floor. Just as the kender assassin found a magic ring on the floor, 16 stirges attacked, four per charater.It was a tough battle, but they defeated the stirges and found a ring of incredible worth.

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holiday cheer around the gaming table

holiday cheer around the gaming table

2013 rang in the new year with a first for our gaming group – we played a short-to-medium length modern zombie horror survival game using the New World of Darkness role playing game. By late spring however, the clarion call of the worlds most favorite role playing game became too insistent to ignore, and we returned to dungeons and dragons for a series of playtest games that usually ended up with rolling up new characters and starting over every couple of months.

Zombie Horror Survival Game – When the Lights Went out in Kansas City

Modern Zombie Apocalypse Survival Campaign kicking off 2013
Walking with the Dead – The Cast of Characters
Game Night Jan 11 – Nightmare at Hill Manor, a Prelude to the Nocturne
Game Night Jan 18th – Zombie Apocalypse on the Broadway Bridge
Pixel-bitching the Real World – or how not to use “Now” as the game setting
Game night Feb 1 – Surviving the night of the zombie apocalypse
Game night Feb 8th – Shopping for the zombie Apocalypse
Game night Feb 15th – World of Darkness, Worlds of Fun
Game night March 8 – Cruising the zombie apocalypse in my Escalade
Game Night Irish 2013 – Shelter from the Zombie Apocalypse

…and that is where the zombie survival game ended. There may have been one more event that went unrecordeed, and indeed a pact was made that night to never speak again of what transpired in that dungeon beneath the church. The fate of the survivors remains unknown. Next, we playtested the new version of the next edition of dungeons and dragons, using 10th level characters I created based off the players best charaacters from campaigns past.

A Rogue’s Gallery of D&D Next Characters
Game Night D&D Playtest – The Mud Sorcerer’s Tomb

…then we started a new campaign as first level characters. This is a mega dungeon crawl.

Game Night April 12th – Playtesting D&D 5 Zero Level Rules for a new campaign.
Game Night April 19 – Playtestsing DnD5 and the Ruined Fortress of the Evil Overlord
Game Night April 27 – DnD 5e and the Ruined Fortress of the Evil Overlord
Game night May 3 – DnD5e playtest Ruined Fortress of the Evil Overlord
Game Night May 9th – Captured in the Fell Tower
Game Night May 31st – Playtesting D&D 5e and the Ruined Fortress – The Flaming Whats?

A long summer of hazy gaming passed, and I am not sure exactly what happened in the interim. More dungeon crawling? Not sure but it was probably hilarious and occasionally drunken, with plenty of missed Friday nights sprinkled in. Nonetheless, summer came to an end and we began anewwith a seemingly random series of games:

Dnd Playtest Oct 11 – Dicepaws
Game Night Halloween ’13 – Playtesting D&D with Dwarven forge Game Tiles
Game Night Nov 15 – Dungeon Nirvana
Game Night Nov 22 — Dungeon delving and demigod destroying
Game night November 30 – High Noon on Ant Hill Redux

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eagle king eyrie

A wood elf settlement

This mini-adventure continues a series called Ancient Encounters, culled from ancient notebooks of campaigns past. The idea came after writing about re-using an old adventure, and I realized these great encounters deserve a little more attention. Hopefully others can be inspired by this series to make their own adventures, or to use elements of these admittedly “brief,” “vague,” and “improvisational encounters as building blocks for great games.

In the middle of the forest lies a small hillock rising above the tree line. Three massive pines grow atop the crown and together they make up the eyrie of a Giant Eagle. Other eagles nest in the lesser branches of the three pines and in the forest below. A small settlement of wood elves make the hilltop their home and are friends to the eagles. The patriarch and matriarch share a home on a platform erected between the trees, while their family live in tents below. They dismantle and re-erect their tents every day to protect the grasses of the hilltop according to ancient patterns of the moon. In a secret door in one of the pines, a stairway leads down into a geode of black crystal where the elves keep their wealth and supplies, arms and armour.

The wood elves are friendly but wary, and seal friendship pacts with gift exchanging ceremonies. They are wild at heart and spend their lives hunting and stalking the forest. They have a feral sense of honor and justice based on their spirits being entwined with that of the eagle. They are perceptive, quick to judge and even quicker to act.

This encounter was originally part of an outdoor adventure. At the end of a session in which the characters met and interacted with the elves, I announced a magical darkness suddenly descended over the hilltop. Originally an attack by drow I changed it to a black dragon. (The players were first level!) The dragon was being hunted by thirty skeletons and a wight riding a nightmare, and crashed into the pines. The battle begins with the giant eagle with a wounded wing from the dragons acid, and timber falling all around. The characters, giant eagle, and elves are caught in the middle of a battle to bring the dragon down to turn it into a dracolich. I wrote the story of what happened earlier in this post: Tales of Yore: 3 Past battle blasts.

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