Sunday, May 30, 2010

Say What?

"We'll remove the ottoman and reset the monkey."

-a phrase one does not here every day--unless you're playing D&D.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

World Map

The actual item will be making its debut at tomorrow's game (and is only 90% complete anyway), but here's a snapshot to whet the appetite and to get you guys thinking about world domination.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Watchfires & Thrones: Session #9

Session 9 The adventurers returned to the gore-streaked refectory where they had ended their previous expedition into the undercroft of the pyramid. Doors in the southern and eastern walls waited to be breached and, having long ago decided that when all choices seem equal to go left, the party entered the southern door.

Opening this valve unleashed a horrific stench of putrescence, one so foul that Baragkus was overwhelmed by the almost physical odor and vomited his recently-consumed meal of trail rations upon the slimy flagstone floor. The room beyond contained a rotted kitchen—one decorated by rotting mortal remains. In the far corner, a gaunt, fanged creature gnawed upon the maggot-infested arm of a man. It leaped up and streaked towards the party with leonine agility and speed, but was brought down by two well-placed arrows to the throat and head before it could close the gap. A careful search of the horrendous kitchen uncovered a leather bag filled with many electrum shekels concealed in the rancid oven and a small, much-flawed diamond amongst the broken crockery.
Shadowy Referee Returning to the refectory, the party investigated the chamber beyond the eastern door and found a dusty dormitory. The room had already been tossed, and the pallets and footlockers were empty and much distressed. A door stood in the southern wall of the chamber, its wooden surfaced gouged by skeletal claws and ragged nails, but still intact. A path in the dusty floor led from that door to the one through which the party had entered, but even Kyrinn’s skill at tracking was insufficient to identify the marks. Nevertheless, he was able to ascertain that they were not created by boot-shod feet.

Failing to turn up anything of interest in the chamber, the adventurers moved to that southern portal and Baragkus, with great impetuousness, forced the door open without care. As it swung ajar, the party watched in horror as a small blue-black crystal fell to the stone floor before them. A nearly invisible wire had held it in place between the door and the jam. The crystal shattered on impact and a concussive blast and flash of blinding light swept over the party. The first two ranks of the group took the brunt of the blast and both Kyrinn and brash Baragkus were knocked senseless by the explosion.

The chamber beyond was once the quarters of two of the temple’s priests and contained the normal array of bedsteads, chests, and closets. Rugs were rolled against the wall as if to clear passage to the door that stood in the far wall of the room. The adventurers rightfully deduced that the sound of the concussive blast would have alerted whoever was lurking beyond that door so, after making sure that Kyrinn and Baragkus were still living, the fighting men took position up before the door.

Mars Markus yelled for the inhabitant of the room to come forth less he, she, or it wished to face the “twenty men we have here” in combat. Silence was the only answer.

Having given fair warning, the party moved into action. Finding the door locked, they tried the ring of keys they discovered in the pyramid above and managed to unlock the portal. However, the door was barricaded and it took both Domdull’s and Syl’s combined efforts to break open the door—which unfortunately left them in a vulnerable position against the creature who lay in ambuscade.

The chamber was a workroom of sorts. Tables littered with shards of crystal, odd colored sands, snips of wire, glowing rods, chips of stone, and weird tools occupied much of the room. It was the purple-robed thing that stood in the distant corner which occupied the charging adventurers’ attentions, however.
Ocythoid Battle Its face was a wriggling mass of tentacle-like feelers and milky white, pupil-less eyes glared at the intruders. In its many arms were serrated blades and a small rod-like weapon. As the door opened under Domdull’s and Syl’s attack, the creature’s facial feelers drew an intricate pattern in the air and a blast of cold, raw power swept over the front ranks. Syl was struck motionless and half-blocked the doorway, but the others shrugged off the incantation.

Domdull charged forward into the room while arrows and eldritch bolts flew from the back ranks to strike their weird target. Rynn the dog rushed in on Domdull’s heels to join the fray.
Get 'em Domdull & Rhynn! The creature coldly pointed the short rod at Domdull’s chest and a violent explosion threw a glowing bolt at the fighter, but it whistled harmlessly past the fighter’s ear to impact on the wall behind him. As the fighter and hound closed the distance, the creature seemed to weigh his choices before his tentacles twitched again and a glowing 10’ x 10’ portal opened in the air beside him. Through the eldritch doorway, night-shrouded ruins were visible and the party’s strange foe moved to step through the arcane doorway to whatever place lay beyond.

Domdull threw himself at the creature in an attempt to tackle it to the ground, but it sidestepped the fighter on many tentacle-like feet, causing the dim-witted warrior to crash into the worktable and collide with a chest that sat beneath its wooden surface. Rynn the dog snapped at the robe-clad monstrosity without success and a barrage of missiles tried to stop its flight, but all were unsuccessful. The creature vanished and the party watched as the portal silently closed in its wake.

Although this creature inspired many questions, they were insufficient to keep the party from quickly dismantling the room and taking anything and everything which might have some value. A large bath-like basin occupied one section of the room and, although it was too large to haul away, a sample of the silver syrup which filled it was taken. The chest which had been discovered by Domdull’s head was pulled out from underneath the worktable and its surface, crafted from an odd unrecognizable metal, was considered. A simple latch held the lid shut but eight ½” holes were drilled into the lid and had no easily identifiable purposed. Domdull attempted to open it by striking it with his sword, but the blade just bounced off the latch—and left the strange metal unmarred. Tigir stepped up and flicked the latched open—after all, it seemed simple enough—only to feel a sharp pain as the poison pin it concealed slid into his flesh. After ten minutes of convulsions, the sorcerer expired on the cold floor, proving that if the referee takes the time to draw a picture of the chest and indicate its features, it’s most likely trapped and should be approached with caution.

Now disarmed at great cost, the chest was opened to reveal a sizable cache of silver, gold, and platinum. While the gold and platinum were of local minting, the silver coins were each octagonal and bore the regal visage of a tentacle-faced creature of the same ilk as the one which had just departed the chamber by mystical means.

With all the chamber’s secrets unveiled, the party briefly debated the wisdom of submerging Tigir’s lifeless corpse in the vat of silver syrup, but the majority decided against that course of action and his body was slung onto the single mule which had accompanied the party on their underground exploits. The group backtracked to the surface to unload the loot and the dead and grab another mule to pack the library from out of the pyramid’s sublevel.

Unhindered by encounters, the library was easily retrieved and redistributed amongst the six mules in the walled courtyard. With the pyramid soon to be a dim memory, Malbane and Anwar went to take one final look at the odd plant and fruit which grew atop the temple’s altar. They carefully harvested the ten polyp-like globules and stowed them in sacks, but Anwar decided to taste the strange fruit. At first there was no reaction, but he soon began twitching and convulsing as Malbane watched, fascinated. After ten minutes, the convulsions ended and the swarthy sorcerer felt much better. Malbane, however, keep a close watch on his fellow spell-hurler, as he suspected something untoward might have occurred.

Once the sorcerers had rejoined the party, a small group climbed the pyramid to view the surrounding territory and check for any remaining secrets. The structure held but a simple iron bowl where offerings were once burnt, but its great height allowed the adventurers to identify several landmarks in the vicinity. To the north, the land continued to rise until it reached a chain of mountains. The dry riverbed which ran past the temple grew wetter until a small stream or river was visible closer to its undiscovered headwaters. To the west, the land descended into a arid meadow, one punctuated by a table-like plateau topped with small hills. To the east were more dry hills, but to the northeast, a crumbling tower was sighted atop one of those hills. Looking southeast, the party spied the top of an intact tower protruding from a hill-ringed bowl or basin. From its location, this was likely the home of Ch’uk and the other Low Men. The group descended and finally, after many deaths and much treasure, put the Temple of the Goat behind them for good (supposedly).

The trip back to Rhuun was mostly uneventful. The party was shocked to discover that the polyp-like fruit that Malbane and Anwar had harvested rotted just hours after leaving the temple, much to the dismay of Malbane, who had decided to sample the fruit himself once they had returned home. It was at this time that it was revealed to the players that Anwar’s eating of the alien fruit had resulted in a permanent increase of his CON by a single point. The nine other opportunities for others to increase their health were now so much acrid pulp rotting under the desert sun.

After returning to town, the party sold their acquired jewels and gems to their now-regular jeweler, Seno Harka, who was unable to identify the strange metal from which the skeleton’s lozenge and treasure chest were formed. He asked to hold onto it for a few days while he consulted some fellow experts. Syl discovered that his exploits were sufficient enough to seek training at the hands of a weapons-master and embarked on three days of instruction.

A party consisting of Malbane, Habdazar, and Fanta ventured to the tower of Jathal the Hexmaker, as they had many questions regarding the strange creature they fought in the pyramid’s sublevel and wanted to see if the sorcerer could also identify the silver coins and an oddly lightweight stone they had found amongst the workshop table’s implements.

After almost inadvertently insulting the sorcerer with a lack of patience on his doorstep, they were finally granted an audience. They showed Jathal their booty and told their tale. The Hexmaker identified the creature as an ocythoid, a decaying race that dwelled upon the lesser moon of Nihil. An enigmatic species, he could not even guess at what purpose it might have in the temple. He was able to identify the coin and stone as products of Nihil, and hazard to guess that the odd plant they had discovered was as well, judging by the rate of the fruit’s decay once separated from the vine.

The party also learned a trivial fact, but one which may serve them in the future. Magical portals that lead to other worlds are almost always vertical when invoked, hanging in the air like doorways. Portals that lead to another locale on the same world, however, are nearly always horizontal and must be stepped into or pulled over one’s form to work. Judging from the glowing doorway that the ocythoid had conjured, it likely terminated somewhere on the Rotted Moon overhead.

The party regrouped back at their rented home and planning for their next expedition began. Although still in debate, it seems likely that they will soon be headed to the Black Gut, a complex of ancient catacombs to the southeast—the ones which Fanta and Domdull had been exploring before they found themselves transported to the sarcophagus-like cells under the Temple of the Goat…

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Titles in Athkul’s Library

Whenever a library is introduced into the game, someone always needs to know what titles are in the collection. Those of you with copies of The Dungeon Alphabet know that I've already taken a stab at addressing this referee's conundrum, yet I still managed to put myself in a position where I needed more campaign-specific titles. One of these campaigns, I'll finally learn my lesson...

Below is the complete listing of all 143 titles contained in the crates which were discovered in the sublevel of the Temple of the Goat. Most concern chemistry, astronomy, sorcerous theory, biology, botany, metallurgy, and other topic of interest for a sorcerer/self-made god-king. The total collection weights 1,000 lbs.

1. Of Destiny & Moon
2. The Edition of Eliadus
3. The Able Planet
4. The Pamphlet of Severra
5. Of Crown & Thorn
6. The Manifest Connection
7. Unclean Beginner
8. The Almanac of Larerawen
9. The Dictionary on the Spectre
10. The Vociferous Hell
11. The Primer of Yaregan
12. The Crossing and the Weeping
13. The Tale of Cadigoweth
14. The Toad-Eater's Coarse Tomato
15. The Atlas on the Sickle
16. The Ledger of Cheann
17. The Blasphemous Notion
18. The Repairman's Viscous Folio
19. Unstable Monarch
20. The Prophecy and the Dissertation
21. The Folio of Abelaven
22. The Comber's Carnal Sanctuary
23. The Gourmet's Periodical
24. The Encyclopedia of Kaoanidd
25. Of Sage & Decade
26. Imaginos: The Obsidian Mirror and the Chamber of Jade
27. The Grave and the Report
28. The Manuscript on Sin
29. Of Camel & Algebra
30. The Calm or the Rule
31. The Festering Jailor's Ghost
32. The Guidebook of Boajan
33. The Acater's Gazetteer
34. The Best People
35. The Ironworker's Tablet
36. The Bladed Wight
37. The Periodical of Siraviel
38. The Prince's Abysmal Battlefield
39. The Hopeless Grave
40. The Correspondence on the Lake
41. Bombarded Prince
42. The Translations of Zauri
43. The Advantaged Academy
44. Accentuated Boneman
45. The Tract of Etela
46. Annals of the Ape
47. Of Serving & Entrance
48. The Dissertation of Umassa
49. The Lineage of Eastern Dukes
50. Of Sorcerer & Collection
51. The Crime and the Claw
52. The Anxious Discrimination
53. The Voracious Aunt
54. The Town Crier's Annals
55. The Guide of Uniladith
56. Blackened Courier
57. The Original Student
58. The Bedeviled Infanticide
59. The Joker's Folio
60. Versed Poet
61. The Azotic Injury
62. The Monarch's Primer
63. The Honest Traveler's Dirt
64. Of Occurrence & Heaven
65. Intractable Footpad
66. The Legend of Rerif
67. The Handbook of Qani
68. The Star or the Legend
69. The Important Chaos Beast
70. Of Pump & Grapevine
71. The Apotheosis of Saints
72. The Encyclopedia on the Nothingness
73. The Longshoreman's Iron Golem and the Frost Worm
74. The Midnight Blue Clock
75. Of Strategy & Increase
76. The Custodian's Chemistry and the Creature
77. The Gravedigger's Bony Journal
78. The Labyrinth or the Eagle
79. The Novel of Rhoth
80. Of Sky & Codex
81. Besotted Gladiator
82. The Review of the Year (297)
83. Clever Librarian
84. The Pamphlet on the Shrieker
85. The Fool's Manuscript
86. The Translations of Fyth
87. The Crystal or the Hag Covey
88. The Cheese and the Crocodile
89. Unremitting Witch
90. The Seven Sleepers
91. The Edition of Gomannon
92. The Apprentice's Body and the Romance
93. The Grimoire of Helian
94. The Loser's Chicken and the Ogre
95. The Tired Ice
96. The Brochure on the Life
97. The Sapper's Review
98. The Anthology on the Heavens
99. Of Dress & Golem
100. The Tablet on the Jungle
101. The Grig and the Machinery
102. The Purser's Translations
103. Zealous Empress
104. The Scroll of Ethaya
105. The Lamentable Twin
106. Of Vermin & Celebration
107. Sensible Refugee
108. The Textbook of Diech
109. The Thegn's Tract
110. Aflame Villain
111. The Portfolio of Johadus
112. The Mustache or the Fist
113. The Book on Triviality
114. The Purple Country
115. Of Thing & Tome
116. …And We Fear the Worst
117. The Legend of Jererassi
118. The Glossary of Curses
119. The Compendium of Cerrac
120. The Volume on Death
121. Of Philosophy & Coal
122. Vested Brazier
123. The Dictionary of Jaliwyr
124. I Look to the Stars and Laugh
125. Of Monograph & Yarn
126. The Manuscript of Cen
127. The Lugubrious Symphony
128. The Booklet of Ethoi
129. Of Feeling & Drugs
130. Silken Alchemist
131. The Periodical on the Stirge
132. The Glossary of Nuthiel
133. The Favor and the Talisman
134. The Circular of Dreric
135. The Mistress of the Hounds's Vermiform Dissertation
136. The Journal of Unerip
137. The Drugs and the Month
138. The Desperate Lizardfolk
139. The Libretto of Yoremma
140. The Album of Haykith
141. Dry Sorcerer
142. The Opus on the Fraction
143. Of Grimoire & Accolade

The Ineffable Jest

There are mysteries at work in the world besides the gods and the beings from the cold hell of space. Some of these forces are easily witnessed, such as that which causes a hurled stone to plummet to the ground. Others are fickle powers that possess incomprehensible motives and unknown origins. Of these uncanny powers, the Ineffable Jest is the one most often cited when unexpected events—both for weal and woe—take place.

The Ineffable Jest rears its head when least expected and it can win battles and destroy empires on a whim. Combining elements of the Force, the Tao, and Murphy’s Law into one unfathomable force of nature, the Ineffable Jest is never worshiped, but often warded against and occasionally invoked by those in dire circumstances.

There are tales which connect the Ineffable Jest with a figure known only as the Laughing Fool. Debates rage amongst the wine-sodden sages of the Citadel of Mysteries as to whether the Laughing Fool is an avatar of the Ineffable Jest, one which has taken human form, or if it is a mortal servant chosen by that power as its temporary champion. A third school of thought argues that a connection exists between the Laughing Fool and the Splintered Court, that mysterious cabal of powers which contains the enigmatic figures of the King in Yellow, the Queen in Red, and the Black Jack, but any such relationship would be tenuous at best.

Water Spider

No. Enc.: 1d4 (1d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120’ (40’)
Armor Class: 8
Hit Dice: 1+1
Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage: 1 + poison
Save: F1
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: None
XP: 27

This creature is not an aquatic arachnid, but rather a poodle-sized spider composed of water. Sages argue as to the origin of these creatures with some maintaining they are minor elementals and others claiming them to be the restless spirits of spiders who perished by water. In either case, they are always found in or near water and they can lurk in narrow pipes and tiny drains in order to ambush their victims. They do not spin webs.

Water spiders are venomous and their toxin, although weak (+2 to save vs. poison), is lethal. Their liquid state makes them resistant to harm and they suffer half damage from non-magical piercing or slashing weapons. Bludgeoning, silver, and magical weapons all do normal damage. Water spiders are also partially immune to fire spells (taking half-damage from these effects with a successful save negating all damage) and are merely slowed by cold-based magic.

The water spider originally appeared on The Society of Torch, Pole and Rope, but I'm archiving all my campaign creations here for ease of reference. It made its first appearance in the Watchfires & Thrones campaign.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Watchfires & Thrones Session #8

With the undead…um, dead…and the coin and gleaming shield policed up, the adventurers observed that this former refectory contained two exits aside from the secret door by which they entered. As tempting as the valves were, it was decided that a return to Rhuun was warranted to acquire suitable transport to retrieve the valuable library of Athkul they had uncovered. After stopping back to grab what texts they could and conduct a partial cataloguing of their titles, they once again secured the door to the library and departed the Temple of the Goat.

Several hours into the return trip, the party rounded a bend in the dry riverbed that leads to the temple only to run directly into a small hunting party of formidable looking humanoids. Dressed in hides and bearing crude weapons, these large-browed and fanged manlike beasts were recognized as “Low Men,” a decayed branch of humanity that had undergone strange alterations in some distant epoch. Both the adventurers and the Low Men were surprised and several seconds elapsed as both groups stared wide-eyed at one another. Then, with empty hands extended and his voice pitched in friendly tones, Habdazar stepped forward to greet them.

One of the Low Men recognized his words and replied in a gruff pidgin dialect. He was Ch’uk, leader of the hunting band. They were scouring the arid hills in search of bear and inquired if the party had seen any. After some discourse, it was learned that Ch’uk and his tribe were laired in an old tower that lay to the northeast. They had recently arrived in the area and knew little of the surrounding vicinity other than “blood birds” made their home in the hills and that the party should be careful of these creatures. When asked for clarification, he raised his hand above his head to indicate a 7’ or more stance and grunted “big bird, big beak.”

Showing remarkable restraint, the party decided to break bread with the Low Men and the two groups sat down to share a repast of trail rations and raw varmint—you can guess who offered which. A new friendship was kindled that night under the desert stars and I suspect the two groups may have dealings again, even to the point of trade. After all, the Low Men are always on the lookout for “bear…and women!”

After a brief rest, the two groups went their separate ways. Sometime afterwards, the party heard the clattered of a dislodged rock in the wild hills to their left. This was followed by the sound of a low cooing, but nothing was sighted. Readying their weapons, the party continued on cautiously but, other than the cooing repeating once more and another sound of crunching gravel, they sighted nothing. Their mules and animals finally relaxed, indicating that whatever was out there has decided to let them be. They arrived back in Rhuun in the early morning on the following day.

Back in town, the party split up to attend to multiple tasks. Fanta and Domdull set off to the temple of Mog to see if the Spider Mother could reverse the fighter’s newly grown eyes and boil clogged throat, while Mars Markus went with them to undergo initiation into his temple’s deeper mysteries. Two hundred gold jitais was enough to convince the spider priests to remove Domdull’s curses and Mars found himself spending the next day under the tutelage of Mog’s earthly servants. At the end of his instruction, he was gifted with a set of spider silk vestments, a silver holy symbol that helps guard against arachnid venom, and a small vial of liquid that would grant him the ability to scale walls as if he were a spider.

The rest of the party decided that after their difficulty in obtaining rooms during the Festival of Erion, they should look into renting a small building to serve as their crash pad/recruiting office. They spread out throughout the town in search of a suitable structure that fit into their price range. Eventually, Habdazar found a former stable for the cheap price of 150 gold jitais a month.

While Bannath and Syl were out looking for real estate, they turned down a side street to look for a possible candidate that they had heard about. As they strode down that dusty alley, both of them suddenly felt their limbs lock up and were unable to move. From out of the shadows came three robed men who promptly placed bags over the duo’s heads and bound them tight. The two were then lifted up and carried off to an unknown destination. As they traveled, the two heard the men carry them into a building, converse with someone in there, then be brought down a steep flight of stairs and into a cool, echoing tunnel. After an indeterminate time, a stone portal was heard opening and the duo were lead through it. There, they were separated, with Syl being imprisoned in a bare cell and Bannath brought into a low domed chamber.

In that chamber stood a stone idol of Yg, done in the Dissian style. Two masked men in the traditional garb of an Overpriest and an underpriest of Yg stood before the statue, while the three men who captured Bannath and his companion/bodyguard waited nearby, dressed in the robes of the Scaled Brotherhood. As the enchantment wore off and Bannath could move again, the masked Overpriest informed the novice cleric that the Scaled Brotherhood had been watching him since his arrival in Rhuun and they had judged him at last to be worthy of learning the first circle of Yg’s secrets—provided he survived the trial. Bannath agreed to undergo the test and, after stripping him bare, he was lowered into a covered pit from which the heavy odor of snake arose.

With the pit closed above him, Bannath took a meditative position and waited. He soon heard the sound of a stone panel being moved and something HEAVY dropping into the room. The sandy floor betrayed a large scaled form sliding across it and he felt the tubular body of a serpent the size of a palm tree brush by him. This snake coiled itself around Bannath’s waiting body, but the cleric remained motionless—even when the serpent took the cleric’s head into its own large and fanged maw. After what seemed an eternity, the serpent finally withdrew and left the newly initiated priest of Yg unharmed. Another three days of instruction would follow, but Bannath would leave the hidden temple with a silver holy symbol that obscured any falsehoods he told from magical detection and a scroll that would neutralize any poison.

As all this was occurring, the party’s homebound sorcerer, Anwar, finally deciphered the Brazen Tablets of the Viscous Mother, completing the task that he and Malbane had started some seven days previously. Amongst the lore contained on those brass sheets were four spells which had been lost from common knowledge: an incantation that lulled slimes and oozes into temporary dormancy; a conjured ball of acidic slime that could be hurled at opponents; an abjuration that protected one against the corrosive attacks of oozes, slimes, and other amorphous creatures; and a summoning that cloaked the caster in a protective layer of slime which could prevent even potent attacks like petrification and energy drain from affecting him. And as if this acquired lore was not enough, the scribe that the sorcerer had hired to decode the spellbook of poor deceased Presto finally managed to decipher a spell of shielding and invisibility from that text.

With training now completed, a new home arranged, and additional spells added to the sorcerers’ spellbooks, the party turned the attentions back to the Temple of the Goat. Arrangements were made to purchase four more mules and a pair of muleskinners to help handle them. The novice sorcerer Tigir also suggested that they bring along an acquaintance of his, the fighting man, Baragkus. With these last additions, the party, now comprised of four sorcerers, five fighting men, two clerics, an Old Blood, a guard dog, a Mhyrakian watch lizard, a domesticated rat, six mules, and two hesitant pack animal handlers, left Rhuun bound for the Temple.

The journey back to that pile was uneventful with the party’s large size discouraging even the dimmest of creatures from confronting them. Upon reaching the temple, they found that another of the legendary toadhemoths had crawled up from the depths of the foul lake which surrounds the complex to dine on several of the fanged toads that lurked there. This bizarre creature took its meal directly before the entrance to the stepped pyramid’s courtyard and had to be defeated to regain entrance. A barrage of arrows again brought the creature low before it could close the distance to use its wriggling tongue and sucker-laden tentacles on the party.

Toadhemoth Fight
Muleskinners' Blues Breeching the temple once again, the adventurers left a small party of mules, the muleskinners, and some of the fighters and sorcerers in the courtyard while the rest descended into the temple’s sublevel to start bringing out the tomes of Athkul’s collection. As they reentered the building, the last vestiges of the temple’s stirge population took flight to feast on the adventurers’ rich blood. As spells were hurled, missiles fired, and spears and swords swung, Baragkus took a minor injury, but the creatures were finally defeated. In the wake of the battle, the party released that they had never given the foyer of the temple a thorough going-over and, finally doing so, uncovered a leaded glass bottle encrusted with dried guano and several dozen silver and copper coins amidst the accumulated filth.

The party, now a little richer, headed back towards the circular chamber that contained the books they sought to recover. However, it was decided at the last minute to finish their exploration of the temple before bringing out the cache of books, as the party wanted to make sure that any remaining threat had been dealt with. Heading towards the refectory from which they had ended their last sojourn into the temple, they again encountered skeletons in the hallway of statues. This time, once they had defeated the bony guardians, they took the silvery-green lozenges which adorned the foreheads of the defeated skeletons’ skulls. Gripping their weapons tightly, they then headed towards the hallway’s far door…

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Hall of Records

Being a compleat repository of the certificates of valor awarded to adventurers throughout the lands.


Lawful Level 3 Fighter
Played by: Jud

STR: 15 (+1 to hit, damage, open doors)
DEX: 13 (+1 missile, -1 AC, +1 initiative)
CON: 14 (+1 hp)
INT: 9
WIS: 9
CHA: 8 (+ to reaction, 3 retainers, 6 loyalty)

Hit Points: 16
Armor Class: 3 (4)

Special Traits/Abilities: Owed a Favor

Weapons: Two-handed sword, "bugbow", light crossbow
Armor: Banded mail

Magic Items: helm of comprehend languages & read magic mace "Tergel"
Objects of questionable value: Gold & silver pectoral (1,100 gp value), hobgoblin helmet

Experience: 14,343 (+5%)
Last Update: 4/09/11

Thursday, May 13, 2010


"And just so we have an honest breakdown of the money coming in here tonight, the remaining 40% will be divided up amongst the band."

The jingle of coin, that music generated by crudely stamped disks bearing the images of dead potentates, is what makes the adventurer risk life and limb in foreboding tombs and nasty holes in the ground. These important parts of the life of the PC deserve better names than just "copper," "silver, " or "gold pieces." What follows are the names of the coins most commonly found in and around Rhuun, as well as their value.

Platinum krons (1=10 gp)
Gold jitais (1=1 gp)
Electrum shekels (2=1 gp)
Silver smerduks (10=1 gp)
Copper groats (100=1 gp)

Other coins of note include the Bamen obolus (a gold coin) and the Disian deben (copper coins) and kit (silver coin).

Clerical Spell Lists by Deity

Seeing as how the party’s two surviving clerics are about to advance to 2nd level and gain the ability to cast spells, I thought it was time to reveal what those spells are. Each has access to eight 1st level spells, but they are not the exact same eight. Without getting into the complex notion of spheres and domains that are artifacts of later editions, I do want to make clerics a little different from one another. With that in mind, I’ve replace one spell off of the 1st level list with a prayer that duplicates the effects of another spell, possibly from another class’ spell list. For ease of reference, the spell name remains unchanged. I intend to do this with each level of spells, but we’ll concentrate on the beginning spells for now. Additional adjustments to the class may occur once the clerics reach 4th level, but my final decision on that can wait for now.

This list will be updated as additional deities enter the campaign and clerics advance to higher levels.

Donblas the Law Lord

1st Level
1) Command (see AEC p. 32)
2) Cure Light Wounds
3) Detect Evil
4) Detect Magic
5) Light
6) Protection from Evil
7) Remove Fear
8) Resist Cold

Initiation: Upon being indoctrinated into the first circle of mysteries (i.e. reaching 2nd level), all clerics of the Law Lord receive a silver holy symbol depicting the upward pointing arrow of Donblas. This symbol allows the cleric to know if a single statement spoken by another living individual is true or false once per day with 100% accuracy.

Hyrn the Horned Lord

1st Level
1) Cure Light Wounds
2) Detect Magic
3) Light
4) Invisibility, Animal (see AEC p. 45)
5) Locate Creature (see AEC p. 45)
6) Purify Food & Drink
7) Remove Fear
8) Resist Cold

Initiation: Upon being indoctrinated into the first circle of mysteries (i.e. reaching 2nd level), all clerics of the Horned Lord are gifted with a forester’s floak with a bone cloak pin bearing the Twin Antlers of Hyrn. This cloak gives the cleric a +1 bonus to surprise when in wooded areas. Multi-classed priests allowed to use bows are further given a quiver of 20 sureflight arrows (+1 bonus to hit good for a single use each. If recovered after battle, they may be used as normal arrows, but the stress of hitting their targets affects their exquisite balance permanently).

Mog the Spider God

1st Level
1) Cure light wounds
2) Detect evil
3) Detect magic
4) Light
5) Protection from evil
6) Purify food & drink
7) Remove fear
8) Spider climb (as the 1st level magic-user spell; see AEC p. 77)

2nd Level
1) Bless
2) Find Traps
3) Know Alignment
4) Hold Person
5) Resist Fire
6) Silence 15’ Radius
7) Speak with Animal
8) Web (as the 2nd level magic-user spell; see LLR p. 41)

Initiation: Upon being indoctrinated into the first circle of mysteries (i.e. reaching 2nd level), all clerics of the Spider God are gifted a silver holy symbol depicting the spider form of Mog. When worn, the symbol grants the priest a +1 bonus to saving throws vs. spider venom.

Deity Specific Power (gained at 4th level): Clerics of Mog gain the ability to Turn spiders (but not spiderlike creatures) as if they do the undead. This ability use is resolved as if the cleric were three levels less in power (i.e. a 4th level cleric Turns spiders as if he were a 1st level cleric), but is otherwise identical to normal Turn attempts.

Yg the Father Serpent

1st Level
1) Cure light wounds
2) Detect evil
3) Detect magic
4) Hypnotism (as the 1st level illusionist spell; see AEC p. 51)
5) Protection from evil
6) Purify food & drink
7) Remove fear
8) Resist cold

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Experience Correction

I was a little frazzled at the end of our last session and, thinking back upon it, I realized that I may have made a slight error in calculating experience point totals at the wrap-up. I've since double-checked the figures and I did indeed make a mistake. Everyone received 249 xp before any modifiers for prime requisites scores--an increase of 11 points over what I gave out. Your sheets have been adjusted accordingly.

I really am rooting for you guys and looking out for you.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Players' Map

A general map of the five mile hex in which Rhuun is located. Labeled are A) Rhuun, B) The Tomb of Athkul, and C) the dry river that heads into the Hills of Scowling Bones and leads to the Temple of the Goat.

Traveling on foot through rough terrain with party members in metal armor means you can cover a mere 8 miles a day (Base overland movement rate is equal to turn-based movement rate divided by 5 in miles, so a movement of 60' [metal-wearing PC movement rate] divided by 5 equals 12 for 12 miles per day overland. Desert, hill, and mountain terrain reduces that by an additional 1/3 which becomes 8 miles/day). This is why it takes a day and change to reach the Temple of the Goat. On horseback or muleback, you can cover the distance in less than a day (something to think about now that your coin purses are flush).

Due to the rough terrain of the Hills of Scowling Bones, it would be difficult, but not impossible, to reach the temple via wagon. Hiring a teamster to drive the wagon would reduce the chance of mishaps but you'd have to find one willing to risk his life and possibly his team to journey to the temple. Organizing a mule train is another possible method of retrieving the sizable library from the pyramid and returning it to Rhuun. At bare minimum, which would require the PCs to carry their own gear so as to free up Gladys and Doris to haul nothing but books, you'd need at least one more mule. This would mean that each animal would be bearing their maximum load of 400 lbs. each and leave no room for error in case one gets injured or eaten. Additionally, they'd have a movement rate of 60' (the same as you on foot), meaning it'd be a day plus trip back. Purchasing three more mules to bring the party total up to five would allow the mules to make the trip back in under a day but would still leave you no room for error in case one mule became injured. You'd also have to provide mounts for yourselves if you wanted to keep pace with your pack animals!

This is a continuation into the neighboring hex to the north. There is a slight gap between the two which is indicated by the blank northernmost hexes in the first map. I'll have a better version together before next Sunday's game.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Bazaar

A collection of prices from diverse sources or made up on the fly. Compiled here for reference purposes and so I plain don’t forget.


Rented room (1 month, poverty level): 25 gp
Rented room (1 month, average neighborhood): 50 gp
Rented building (rundown former stable; two-stories): 150 gp per month (requires decent CHA for negotiations)

Building, common, mud brick (30’ square): 2,500 + 1d6x100 gp
Building, common, stone (30’ square): 4,000 + 1d6x100 gp
Building, common, wood (30’ square): 3,000 + 1d6x100 gp


Camel: 50 gp
Crickets or beetles: 1 sp for 5
Dog, guard: 25 gp
Draft lizard: 300 gp (carrying capacity 500 lbs/1,000 lbs.)
Mhyrakian watch lizard: 75 gp
Rat, domesticated: 5 cp


Bath: 3 cp
“Entertainment”: 1 sp/5gp/100+ gp
Messenger (in town): 1 sp/message
Mourner (per funeral): 2 sp
Pack animal handler: 2 sp/day (relatively safe conditions, known trail)
Teamster: 5 sp/day (relative safe conditions, known road)


Cart: 100 gp (one horse or 2 mules – 400 lbs. cap. /2 horses or 4 mules – 600 lbs. cap.)
Sedan: 100 gp
Wagon: 200 gp (2 horses- 1,500 lbs. cap. /4 horses – 4,500 lbs. cap.)
Wagon or cart wheel, replacement: 5 gp

Animal related goods

Barding, leather/padded (dog): 75 gp
Barding, scale (lizard): 200 gp

Assorted Items

Casket (human- or Old Blood-sized): 8 gp
Casket (dwarf-sized): 5 gp
Collapsible 10' Pole (unbolts to two 5' staves): 6 sp
Oil (keg, 50 pints or 6.25 gal.): 25 gp (65 lbs. weight)
Sledgehammer (30 lbs.): 10 gp
Rubbings Kit (paper & rubbing stone): 25 gp (10 uses)
Torch scone: 1 sp

Monday, May 3, 2010

Watchfires & Thrones Session #7

Several hours previously, back in Rhuun…

Two bonded servants of House Bashari, Habdazar Doomwing and Kyrinn, were being entrusted with a task. Their master’s wife had recently been rescued from danger by the adventurer Fanta and his companions. Unwilling to be in anyone’s debt for long, their master entrusted to this sorcerer and fighting man the task of delivering a box containing a suitable reward to that adventurer. As the duo were rapidly approaching the end of their indentured servitude, should they successfully complete this task, they’d both be freed from bondage early. Readily agreeing to these conditions, Habdazar and Kyrinn ventured forth to find their quarry. When they were told that the party had departed the city, bound for an abandoned temple in the Hills of Scowling Bones, they too turned and headed in that direction.

Back at the Temple of the Black Goat, the party prepared to enter the temple pyramid itself. As they hobbled their mules and set Rynn the hound to watch over them, they detected the approach of two strangers crossing the wide plaza before the pyramid. These two quickly introduced themselves as soon-to-be former servants of the man whose wife the adventurers had recently rescued and that they bore a gift for “Fanta” and his comrades. The party eagerly opened the box, perhaps expecting coin or grants of land. Instead, they found a letter that informed anyone who read it that “Fanta and his associated comrades were in the good graces of House Bashari and should be awarded proper consideration and respect due to such individuals from any and all agents in the service of the trade clan of the Jasmine Circle.” The party was underwhelmed by the Basharian ideal of generosity.

With their servitude now ended and in need of coin, the newly-arrived sorcerer and fighter agreed to accompany the party on their explorations of the pyramid in exchange for a share of the treasure, bringing the party’s number up to twelve—plus two mules, a guard dog, and Mhyrakian watch lizard whose owner was beginning to experience buyer’s remorse.

It was decided that the entire courtyard should be explored prior to entering the pyramid. As the party circled the temple, they discovered two smaller statues that depicted the hermaphroditic god/dess, Ishnigarrab. Both of these statues stood above a trio of shallow basins and a grayish, watery milk leaked from the teats of each. Domdull was elected to sample this liquid and stepped forward without hesitation. Moments after dipping a finger into the stream and tasting it, his hand began to itch. Stripping his gauntlet off, he watched in horror as his flesh puckered and throbbed before finally splitting open, revealing three blind, cataract-covered eyes that stared sightlessly up at him from his hand! Despite experimenting with these new ocular growths, they seemed to grant the warrior no additional ability or hindrances—although they are unnerving to behold.
Upon discovering the second fluid-leaking statue, Domdull again sampled from the liquid, thinking that it might counteract the effects of the first statue. Unfortunately, this drink caused pus-filled boils to arise in his mouth and throat, making it impossible for the fighter to drink or eat, but still allowing him to draw breath. Bannath, “magic” dagger in hand, stepped forward to try and relieve the swelling, but the snake priest’s unsteady hand inflicted a minor wound upon the much aggrieved Domdull.

With promises of purchasing the fighter an ointment when they return to Rhuun, the party entered the pyramid—finally—to discover the entryway bore statues of the now-familiar tree monsters, their tentacles holding the ceiling aloft. Spatters of ashen guano marked the floor and a shaft of the setting sun’s light indicated an airshaft above. In the stagnant air hung a musty-yeasty smell, similar to the same scent produced by the milky liquid outside. After carefully checking the ceiling above for bats, they found the entryway empty and moved deeper into the temple.

In the nave, they found a glyph-inscribed pool of the dirty gray milk, a pair of stairs leading down, and an open set of doors to the temple’s main worship hall. Kallen moved closer to the open doors and caught the sickly scent of over-ripe fruit in the air. Hurling a torch into the great hall, the flickering flames revealed a large statue of Ishnigarrab flanked by cold braziers and a stone altar covered by an alien vegetation. Purplish-yellow and covered by a glossy film, this plant was polypus and bore large fruit the size of cantaloupes. It was these strange fruit that perfumed the air.

After venturing into the hall under the watchful eyes of the rest of the party, Kallen lit the braziers and discovered two smaller doors leading out of the chamber. The party voted to investigate these before delving into the temple’s lower level. Skirting the strange vegetation cautiously—which caused it not to react to their presence—the party discovered that each of these doors lead to hallways which terminated in small utility rooms. One was a robing room that bore musty, threadbare vestment. After prodding about with their pole, the party uncovered a case that contained a protective scroll against magic—a well-received piece of loot. The other chamber held charcoal for the brazier, votive candle holders, and a selection of aged wines and liquors. Amongst those containers, two potions were found, one of which is suspected to be a healing tonic with multiple draughts.

The upper level cleared, the party ventured beneath the temple. There, they found a common area that bore crumbling furniture and two dry wall fountains. Three corridors exited the chamber—two diagonal corridors and a central straight one. When Mars Markus and Syl edged close to one of the diagonal hallways in order to peer down it, they witnessed a large drop of watch leak from the nearest fountain. That large droplet fell into the basin below and transformed into a spider the size of a poodle and composed entirely of water!

The watery arachnid leaped on Syl—after Mars Markus, feeling very close to advancing in his career as a cleric, fled with a yipe—and plunged its fangs into the soldier’s chest. The venom was not enough to bring down the doughty warrior, who quickly dispatched the beast with his enchanted blade. Afterwards, he considered speaking with several of the archers in the party and teaching them a new word—“friendly fire”—for in their zealousness to bring down the spider, no less than three missiles flew dangerously close to the warrior as he battled it.

The melee finished, Kallen detected more movement in the gloom down the central straight corridor and the party edged down it cautiously. In a crumbling chamber, they encountered dirty white rats scampering about rank puddles and collapsed masonry. These they dispatched in quick succession, the fighters making ample use of the “Chop when They Drop” rule.

The corridor continued on and, unable to pierce the gloom from where they stood, Kallen tossed his torch into the next room—just missing setting the entire papyrus-filled scriptorium that occupied that chamber alight. A cursory search was insufficient to find anything of value amongst the reams of paperwork, scrolls, and writing implements, but a dust-free path crossed the chamber and exited through a pair of doors. Along that path lay blood stains, dried viscera, and brains—the brains being what the players fixated upon for some reason and spent the next twenty minutes of real time bringing up in conversation and planning.

The doors were eventually breached and the PCs discovered a long corridor flanked by alcoves containing statues of Ishnigarrab’s favorite terror trees. Kallen stepped down the hallway until the first of six skeletons, their foreheads adorned with glowing silvery-green lozenges, lurched from the gloom behind the statues. In the short melee, two skeletons were dispatched before Mars Markus’ divine power forced them back along the hallway—until they reached the closed door at its end. The party would have to destroy these foul things if they wanted to press forward and that meant breaking the power that held them at bay.

In the battle that followed, the party demonstrated an admirable amount of tactical thinking by alternating their missile attacks and frontline fighters. They should be very proud of their planning and it demonstrated to me that both the players and the characters are really coming around to “old school”-style thinking. Unfortunately, even the best plans can only mitigate the odds and a lucky dice roll killed bold Kallen. Mars Markus barely escaped the battle alive as well thanks to a sundered shield. Had he not, he would have fell a mere 70 experience points away from 2nd level.
After clearing the way of skeletons, Mars elected to venture back to the mules to acquire a replacement shield. Although he initially meant to venture alone, he was ultimately joined by Malbane the Green and Domdull “just in case.” This was a very, very good thing because the wandering monster check determined he ran into something during his journey. So, as the trio reached the entry way, they were horrified to see six stirges returning to their roost via that chamber’s air shaft. Fortunately for the party, they won initiative and Malbane got off his sleep spell before they could swoop down and what beasts didn’t die from falling to the floor below were quickly stomped to death.

The rest of the party took the time to catch their breaths, but Fanta spent the time doing a better cataloguing of the scriptorium’s contents, allowing him to uncover both a scroll of healing and one that detected magical auras. This was lucky, because this hopefully starts a new trend where the party finds the hidden healing objects that have been placed about the campaign world rather than bypass them as they’ve been doing so far. I really am a kindly referee despite the campaign’s body count so far. They just keep missing the good stuff.

Once the party had reassembled, it was decided that the party would explore the two bypassed diagonal passage before pressing deeper into the temple. No one wished to leave enemies at their backs. These explorations were both quick and profitable. One corridor led to a chamber whose organic contents seemed to have vanished and a thick layer of yellow-hued mold had sprouted. This chamber was left along. The second hallway led to a decaying library. Although the religious tracts found within (including The Apotheosis of Saints by Father Buckwald Idell—determined by the oh-so-useful Dungeon Alphabet) were heavily decayed, the party did discover numerous shipping crates which contained a treasure trove of texts on alchemy, astrology, sorcery theory, etc. The library of Athkul had been discovered at last!

This discovery led to a debate regarding returning to Rhuun to acquire a wagon of some sort. Even from their cursory examination of the crates, the party could tell that there were easily 1,000 lbs. of texts present. This course of action was decided upon, but the party first wished to secure the library, which they did by placing a fake magical glyph on the door, and checking to see what was beyond the door at the end of the statue corridor.

Returning to that door, they discovered a cleared T-shaped chamber beyond and that the bloody, brain-speckled path led to a bare wall at the base of the T. Fanta easily discerned the secret door in that wall and popped it open.

An abattoir lay beyond, with skeletons and horrific half-corpses gnawing upon the bloodied remains of unknown creatures. Surprised by the dead, the party fought viciously for their lives but quickly turned the tide of battle thanks to the efforts of Mars Markus and Bannath, their divine favor forcing back the dead. However, there were a few more undead than initially realized and, when they sprang from the darkness, the party was forced to face them without the use of magic. In the end, despite this drawback, the adventurers were victorious.

A search of the room turned up many coins of all types amidst the gore and a shield in excellent condition. Although there appeared to be two more exits from the room, it was decided that the party would return to Rhuun to acquire a wagon and so that the two clerics could undergo initiation into their respective churches.


Lawful Level 1 Fighter
Played by: Rob

STR: 9
DEX: 14 (+1 to missile, -1 AC, +1 initiative)
CON: 10
INT: 10
WIS: 9
CHA: 10

Hit Points: 5
Armor Class: 2

Special Traits/Abilities: Orienteering, Outdoorsmanship

Weapons: Longbow, longsword, dagger
Armor: Banded mail & shield
Weapon proficiencies: Sword, long; sword, great; blunt; dagger

Objects of questionable value: none

Experience: 1499
Last Update: 7/04/10

Habdazar Doomwing

Level 1 Magic-user
Played by: Pete

STR: 11
DEX: 11
CON: 12
INT: 10
WIS: 11
CHA: 15 (-1 reaction, 5 retainers, 8 loyalty)

Hit Points: 4
Armor Class: 9

Special Traits/Abilities: Owed a favor

Weapons: Longsword, longbow
Armor: None
Magic Items: None
Weapon proficiencies: Sword, long; Bow, long

Spellbook: Magic missile, shield, ESP, invisibility

Objects of questionable value:

Experience: 1513
Last Update: 7/04/10