Monday, March 29, 2010

Watchfires & Thrones: Session Three

Upon returning to Rhuun, the party separated to visit their respective spell-casting employers. Bannath, Mordakis the Silent, Syl, Malbane the Green, and Reddannon returned to Jethal the Hexmaker with the skull of Athkul, while Mars Markus, Presto, Anwar, and Ravener stopped at Dhamel of the Sapphire Eye’s abode to give up the deceased sorcerer’s left hand. While they collected their various rewards, Bannath informed Jathal of their encounter with Dhamel’s minions, a fact that the Hexmaker took great interest in, rewarding the snake priest with additional coin. Malbane unwrapped the head of the guardian creature the trio had slain in the tomb’s main temple and asked if Jathal could identify the beast. After a quick inspection, Jathal pronounced it one of the “tomb herd,” but provided little more information. Over at Dhamel’s, Presto inquired about the possibility of learning new spells from the corpulent sorcerer. He of the Sapphire Eye invited the novice magic-user to return for training when he was ready.

Both parties returned to Qytuul’s caravanserai, their missions completed. As they entered the establishment, Malbane recognized a pair of faces in the common area. These two iterant adventurers, Azerran and Yodahlla, were old acquaintances of Danek, and had come to Rhuun seeking to join up with the (unknown to them) recently deceased fighter. The sad news was revealed, but with the forthcoming investigation of the mysterious Temple of the Goat looming, an invitation to join the group was extended to these newcomers. It was quickly accepted.

The following morning, Reddannon announced that since the coming evening was the night of the full moon, his present was required at the shrine of Uun. His mute dwarf companion, Mordakis, would be accompanying the moon priest since his crude sign language is only fully understood by Reddannon and he often needs him to translate.

With a full night’s rest behind them, Malbane and Anwar each prepared an incantation that would allow them to read the magical script inscribed on the brass tablets they recovered from Athkul’s tomb. Under the spell’s effect, the book reveal itself to be the Brazen Tablet of the Viscous Mother, a grimoire of unknown power but almost certain to contain rare magics and uncommon lore. The script was stilted and archaic, and it would require several days’ study to unravel the grimoire’s complete contents. Deciding that the lure of unknown magics was worth the time and possible danger required, both of the minor sorcerers decided to remain in Rhuun to work on the Tablets while the rest of the party investigated the Temple of the Goat. Ravener, one of the party’s fighters, chose to remain in town for his own purposes as well.

With the roster finalized for the expedition to the temple, the party reequipped for overland travel through the desert and pooled their funds to purchase a mule to help carry their load of food, water, and (hopefully) treasure. After naming the beast (Gladys) and waiting for the cool of night to fall, the adventurers headed out the town’s northernmost gate and onto the hardpan desert.

By midnight the party had reached the Hills of Scowling Bones and, aside from a jackal’s howl in the night, encountered nothing on their journey. Dawn saw them erecting crude shelter against the rising sun, but the day passed uneventfully. Come nightfall, the adventurers returned to the trail on a northward course.

Meanwhile, back in Rhuun, Anwar and Malbane made the first bit of progress deciphering the Tablets of the Viscous Mother. Obviously written by a madman, the plates contained copious information on the appearance and qualities of various forms of slimes and oozes—revolting reading to say the least.

Back in the hills, the party came across a series of buildings located at the bottom of a broad valley. A stepped pyramid rose towards the sky and was flanked by a pair of 120’ tall statues, each of which depicted a hermaphroditic goat/humanoid hybrid. Presto and Yodahlla elected to sneak down for a closer inspection of the site while the rest of the party and the mule sought concealment.

Carefully working their way down into the valley, the duo noted that the air grew moist as if an oasis or other body of water lay nearby. In the light of the two moons above, they were able to make out more details of the temple complex before them. At the bottom of the valley was a small lake filled with black, brackish water and dying plant life. The temple complex sat in the center of this foul body of water, its building rising above the black, still surface of the lake. The stepped pyramid was surrounded by a defensive wall and connected to a half-score of plain stone buildings by a web of walkways that rose 2’ above the water. A large central plaza lay in the center of the complex and the only access to the site was via a slick ramp flanked by two strange statues—-things that can only be described at 20’ tall tentacled trees.

The two scouts returned to report and soon the entire band descended into the valley and approached the entrance ramp. After some initial attempts to stir the tentactled statues into action by pelting them with slung stones, the adventurers tentatively ventured onto the raised walkway with their eyes peeled for danger. The party quickly darted towards the large plaza in the center of the complex without incident. Tactics were discussed with some favoring a direct investigation of the pyramid, while others wished to explore the outlying buildings first. It was eventually ruled that leaving the unexplored structures at their back might not be the wisest course, so the party headed towards the largest of the outlying buildings.

As they approached the structure by way of one of the 10’ wide raised walkways, Yodahlla, at the head of the party, caught site of four bulbous batrachian eyes glaring up at him from the murky water to the left of the platform. Wishing to avoid confrontation, he edged towards the right-hand side of the walkway in an attempt to put as much distance between himself and the gigantic frogs that lurked below the water’s surface. Alas, this tactic met with two more frogs suddenly launching themselves from the water on that side of the walkway and landing amidst the party with wicked claws and viscous fangs slashing.

Once the adventurers were engaged in battle, the two frogs on the left sank beneath the water and disappeared, leaving their croaking brothers to do battle. Yodahlla suffered grievous wounds during the fight, but the killer frogs were dispatched in haste and the party paused to take a breath—one that was quickly interrupted by the reappearance of the initial pair of frogs, who launched themselves from the water as if to avenge their slain froggy friends!

This second melee almost ended the life of Yodahlla. Had it not been for two near-miraculous interventions of his shield [David rolled two natural 20s back to back on his save vs. death when using his shield to block the damage that would have killed him. I ruled that a natural 20 means that you not only avoid taking damage but the shield itself does not splinter as normal, allowing it to be used again], the Old Blood fighter would now certainly be food for frogs deep under fetid lake’s surface. But Mog was with him this day and the frogs soon joined their brethren in death.

After a twenty minute break to bind wounds and partake in some well deserved vino, the party continued on to the large building ahead. The stone door failed to open under their efforts, seemingly having been knocked off kilter by their initial inept attempts to pry it open. Rather than make the long journey back and around to the building’s other entrance, the party moved to investigate a smaller but closer building instead—-a decision that would prove to be fatal for one of their number.

This smaller building seemed to be an odd shrine of ancient origin. The building was divided into three 20’ x 20’ chambers, each separated from one another by open archways. These rooms held numerous low altars placed below niches that contained smaller versions of the tentacled trees depicted at the complex’s entrance. Other than this, the building appeared empty.

As the party was about to leave the structure through a second exterior door they had found, Presto poked his head into one last unexplored room. As the rest of the party watched in horror, a ghastly creature suddenly appeared from thin air. Loathsome of form, resembling an albino hybrid of lobster, mantis, beetle, and crab with a carapace covered by dozens of teeth-filled mouths, this beast pounced upon the curious sorcerer and, in an eruption of fine red mist, Presto was no more.

The party fell upon this creature with missile and melee weapons, quickly cutting down the beast before it could slay another of their number. After gathering what still-useful equipment they could from the slain sorcerer and thoroughly examining the beast for treasure, the party prepared to depart this grisly site. That’s when Mars Markus noticed one last alcove in the building, a much narrower chamber that held only a larger altar and idol, and lay beyond a final archway. Probing cautiously ahead with a 10’ pole, Mars felt the wooden shaft grow suddenly cold in his hand and, once removed from the chamber, noticed a fine rime of frost on the stave’s end.

Boldly, Yodahlla volunteered to enter the room and, after tying a rope to himself and anchoring the line to Gladys, he stepped beyond the archway. Immediately his form was subjected to a blast of frigid air that inflicted minor damage upon him. He wisely retreated and the party debated on their next course of action.

After preparing a grappling hook and line, the party managed to snare and then topple the statue in the room beyond, breaking it into two pieces. However, the chill remained. They chose to throw the corpse of the slain lobstrosity into the chamber as a final test. After doing so, they noticed that it began to smoke and mist as if slowly dissolving away—-a most curious development.

Although unconvinced that the alcove didn’t hold additional treasure or secrets, the party nevertheless pressed forward, leaving the building of many altars behind. A short stretch of raised walkway later, the party faced a third building. This one was squat in construction with a much lower roof than the previous structures. Its surface was covered in a slimy film and numerous patches of water mosses clung to the ancient sandstone blocks. Another stone door separated the adventurers from the building’s inner secrets, but they chose to return to the house of altars to reconsider their next step…

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Gladys the Mule

Neutral Mule

STR: 17
DEX: 9
CON: 14
INT: 8
WIS: 10
CHA: 9 (5 to non-horselike creatures)

Hit Points: 10
Armor Class: 7

Move: 120' (40') unladen

Saving Throws
Breath: 15
Poison/Death: 12
PP: 14
Wands: 13
Spells: 16

Number of Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d4 (kick), 1d3 (bite)

Load: (200 lbs. capactity)

Items Carried (as of April 17, 2010)
4 saddle bags
8 days of feed
10' of chain
7 waterskins
5 days trail rations
Wineskin (half full)
10' pole
2 flasks of oil
flnt & steel
blue robe

Gold pieces: 2
Silver pieces: 1,550

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mars Markus

Lawful Level 4 Cleric (Mog the Spider God)
Played by: Jack

STR: 6 (-1 to hit, damage, open doors)
DEX: 12
CON: 16 (+2 hp)
INT: 8 (partially literate)
WIS: 10
CHA: 13 (-1 reaction, 5 retainers, 8 loyalty)

Hit Points: 18
Armor Class: 2

Special Traits/Abilities: I Know Something (Location of the Temple of the Goat)

Weapons: Short sword
Armor: Plate mail & shield

Magic Items: holy symbol (+1 to save vs. spider poison), scroll of detect magic, ward against magic (1o' radius), short sword of unknown enchantment (+1?)

Weapon proficiencies: Sword, short; polearms; bow, long

Spells: 2/1

Objects of questionable value: Letter of credit (1,000 gp value)

Experience: 13,156
Last Update: 4/09/11


Neutral Level 3 Magic-user
Played by: Jack

STR: 6 (-1 to hit/dam/open doors)
DEX: 9
CON: 10
INT: 10 (-1 to decipher rolls)
WIS: 10
CHA: 14 (-1 reaction adj.)

Hit Points: 9
Armor Class: 9

Special Traits/Abilities: Eye for Horseflesh, Esoterica (4%)

Weapons: Scimitar, dagger, silver dagger, 6 javelins
Armor: None
Magic Items: "beetle wand" ("OTROGG" written in runes along shaft), scroll of simulacrum, scroll of magic missiles (x2),, scroll of invisibility, scroll of knock
Weapon proficiencies: sword, long; javelin

Spells: 2/1/0
Spellbook: Read magic, dormancy, hold portal, identify, magic missile, message, read languages, shield, sleep, darkness, invisibility, knock, locate object, ray of enfeeblement

Objects of questionable value: Robe (midnight-blue)

Experience: 15,764
Last Update: 8/21/11

Watchfires & Thrones: Session Two

The Player Characters:

Anwar: Mustachioed desert sorcerer looking to broaden his horizons.

Bannath: Hunted cleric of Yg, Father of Serpents. The Yg sect has been all but eradicated in these lands—a development Bannath intends to correct.

Danek “Armbreaker”: Dim-witted man-at-arms. A charismatic warrior once you get past the mouth-breathing and slack-jawed stare.

Malbane the Green: A novice magic-user whose talent for climbing comes in handy in a scrap.
Mars Markus: Cleric of Mog, the Spider God. Recently arrived from the Bamish lands to serve his penance in the Desert of Demons.

Mordakis the Silent: A horribly scared dwarf. As if his scars weren’t bad enough, Mordakis’ tongue was cut out, leaving him mute.

Presto: Novice sorcerer and a general font of information.

Ravener: Archer and fighting-man.

Reddannon: Red-headed cleric of Uun the Unknowable, god of the greater moon

Syl: A fighter who pursues his vocation with quiet competence.

The Game Session:

Play resumed right after the dispatching of the oversized scarab beetle and the turning of the three skeletons. As the party paused to catch their breath, four new faces entered the chamber. These four, Anwar, Mars Markus, Presto, and Ravener, were on an errand for Dhamel of the Sapphire Eye, a contemporary (and sometime rival) of Jathal the Hexmaker. Like the sextet, this foursome had business with the corpse of Athkul: his left hand was required by their employer.

Seeing as the parties’ goals did not conflict and the joining of forces more conducive for both teams’ success, the adventuring band’s ranks swelled to a half-score of intrepid tomb robbers. With some deft maneuvering by Bannath, the cleric of Yg, the three skeletons were herded away from the chamber’s exit and the band pressed on.

A writhing mass of gigantic centipedes, each the size of a man’s forearm, confronted them in the next room. The rotted bones and ancient tomb breaker’s tools mixed amongst the chittering insects attested to the danger these vermin posed to the party. However, with torches thrust at any centipede that drew too close, the band made is safely through the room and found another door leading deeper into the tomb.

Beyond that portal awaited more evidence that the adventurers were not the first to tread this way. A terrazzo floor with many of the tiles held down by rocks and driven spikes (not to mention the 8” iron quarrels sunk into the wall) bore witness to a fiendish trap guarding the room. Luckily, since the path was well-marked and caution was taken, the party successfully emerged unscathed after a slight delay.

A bare room that showed the marks of digging and defacement was encountered without incident. Next, a room with three brass oil lamps suspended from the ceiling was faced. Each lamp appeared normal, but the wicks, once lit, burned with an eerie blue flame. Although suspicions that these devices might be emitting a fatal gas were raised, no ill effects occurred and the party replenished their oil supply from the lamps to boot. Sensing their goal lay close, the party pressed on.

In the penultimate room, the ancient remains of four tomb robbers were found. Standing motionless over the corpses were two silent figures clad entirely in black plate armor. Uncertain of what they faced, the party’s three clerics stepped forth, each calling upon their deities to turn away this possible undead threat. When these invocations came to naught, Presto the sorcerer suggested that they may be magical constructions.

When arrows were launched at the metal-clad duo, the armored forms sprung into a mockery of life, swiftly joining in battle with the adventurers. A fierce battle raged and, although the band was successful in laying low these arcane creations, Danek fell in combat under their fell blades. The party had suffered their first loss of their adventuring careers.

After a moment’s pause to reflect on their own morality, the adventurers examined the room formerly occupied by the animated armor. The walls and ceiling were decorated with an elaborate mural of a night sky alive with stars, moons, planets, and comets. A search of the chamber revealed a secret door, one which opened when a certain comet was pressed. The door popped ajar and the party carefully pushed it open.

Beyond was the Athkul’s final resting place: a burnished metal sarcophagus resting atop a raised platform and flanked by burning braziers. In the smoke-laden air of the chamber, hideous semblances of life stirred. Six desiccated corpses turned their dead eyes towards the adventurers and a gaunt figure with filth-encrusted talons crouched, licking its fangs.

The dead moved with alacrity towards the party but the confines of the secret door channeled the loathsome forms directly into the party’s waiting weapons. Strangely, the faith of all three of the adventuring clerics chose to fail them at this moment—their respective deities irked by their attempts to call upon their favor to dispatch the animated suits of armor, perhaps?

As weapons flew, talons slashed, and holy water was spilled, the numbers of the dead where slowly whittled away, but not before a few almost life-ending wounds were taken by the adventurers. Syl, grievously wounded, was startled to feel the falchion he had plundered grow warm and begin to glow with a fierce blue light. Drawing it forth, the formerly hidden runes along the blade glowed brightly and the last two dead were dispatched to a (hopefully) final rest.

After a short rest to bind their injuries and fortify their spirits with wine, the party entered the final chamber. An inscription on the sarcophagus warned of fiery doom awaiting any who plundered it, but the trap was rendered inert after the clues were deciphered. Once opened, the sarcophagus was raided for the required skull and hand, as well as numerous electrum and gold coins, a kris dagger, and a strange tome comprised of numerous brazen tablets held together by wire coils.

A piece of aging parchment was discovered next to the metal coffin as well. Its contents read:


Time was of the essence as our enemies moved against us in the wake of the Master’s death. A goodly portion of his library and treasury was removed from the citadel before it was sacked, but we could not risk interring it with the Master’s worldly form, as our enemies watched our efforts like desert kites. Seek it out in the Temple of the Goat. We’ve entrusted it with the Keeper there and he will receive you warmly as fellow devotees of Ishnigarrab.

With their plunder obtained and the feasibility of carrying his corpse through the booby-trapped room debated, the party decided to inter the body of Danek in Athkul’s former sarcophagus. Rites were spoken by the priests of the Spider, Moon, and Snake, and the adventurers left the tomb behind them. As night fell, the tired, but financially more solvent, adventurers reached the gates of Rhuun….

Saturday, March 20, 2010

"Chop When the Drop"

Fighters dedicate their entire lives to mastering their skill at arms. Because of this single-minded dedication, fighters (not including dwarves and Old Bloods) are able to dispatch multiple foes at a rate that astonishes other classes. Anytime a fighter kills an opponent, he immediately gains a free attack on any other enemy within reach. Should he slay the opponent as well, he gains another free attack on a nearby enemy. This series of events continues until the fighter either misses, fails to kill and opponent, or runs out of enemies within the reach of his weapon.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Improved CLW

Due to the "Dutch Courage" house rule, the effectiveness of cure light wounds is increased to reflect the potency of magical healing. Cure light wounds heals 1d8+1 points of damage rather than 1d6+1.

Unconsciousness & Death

When a character reaches zero hit points, he or she is falls unconscious. When a character's hit point score reaches a negative number equal to their level or -10 (whichever is lower), the character dies. Thus, a 1st level character dies when he or she reaches -1 hit points, a 5th level character dies at -5 hit points, and a 20th level character dies at -10 hit points despite his level.

Dutch Courage

"Dutch Courage": Any character may heal themselves by spending twenty minutes binding their wounds, catching their breath, and consuming a pint of wine. Doing so heals the character of 1d6 points of damage. This method of first aid may only be used once per day.

Shields Shall Be Splintered

Shields Shall Be Splintered: Anytime you are about to take damage and have a shield equipped, you may choose to attempt to sacrifice the shield in order to avoid incurring the wound. Make a saving throw vs. death and, if the save is successful, the shield is sundered by the blow and destroyed, but you take no damage. In the case of spells that allow a saving throw for half damage, you may invoke this rule if you fail your save against the spell. Doing so successfully reduces the damage by half. In the case of magical shields, invoking this rule successfully means that you take no damage from blows (or half from spells) but the shield loses one "plus" from its enchantment. Thus, a +1 shield would become a normal shield, a +2 shield becomes a +1 shield, etc.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tomb Herd

The unearthly "idol" that attacked the party during their early exploration of the tomb of Akthul looked like this:

I figured there was no sense waiting before introducting the xenomorphs into the game. Malbane later learned that this "demon" was something called a "Tomb Herd" but has not learned any additional information regarding it (or them).

Monday, March 8, 2010

Watchfires & Thrones: Session One

The Player Characters:

Bannath: Hunted cleric of Yg, Father of Serpents. The Yg sect has been all but eradicated in these lands—a development Bannath intends to correct.

Danek “Armbreaker”: Dim-witted man-at-arms. A charismatic warrior once you get past the mouth-breathing and slack-jawed stare.

Malbane the Green: A novice magic-user whose talent for climbing comes in handy in a scrap.

Mordakis the Silent: A horribly scared dwarf. As if his scars weren’t bad enough, Mordakis’ tongue was cut out, leaving him mute.

Reddannon: Red-headed cleric of Uun the Unknowable (until we flesh out his religion that is).

Syl: A fighter who pursues his vocation with quiet competence.

The Game Session

The characters had arrived several days ago in Rhuun, a trade outpost on the edge of the Desert of Demons. For different reasons, each was looking for the anonymity and opportunity that this wasteland settlement could provide. Unfortunately, a three-day-long dust storm effectively closed the town down, making sleep and finding employment almost impossible.

Just as things were about the get desperate, each of them were visited by a sending from the sorcerer, Jathal the Hexmaker, who promised them work and coin if they arrived on his doorstep before the Hour of Scorpions the following day.

The next morning saw our six PCs standing on the portico before Jathal’s house. After brief introductions and confirmation that they all received the same sending, the six were granted entrance by the sorcerer’s seemingly mute slave.

Inside, the lanky wizard offered the assembled adventurers 50 gold jitais and his good favor if they would provide him with the skull of Athkul, a sorcerer of modest repute whose tomb lay in the Hills of Scowling Bones just northwest of town. Eager for coin, the sextet departed after gathering their gear and filling their wineskins.

From a map provided by Jathal, they had no difficulty finding the lopsided pyramid that served as Athkul’s tomb. Venturing within, they found a large temple chamber which seemed empty aside from peeling frescoes, pillars inscribed with an alien alphabet, and an unearthly idol placed in a niche above an altar of volcanic rock. At least, it seemed to be an idol.

When the black-bronze and bat-winged thing launched itself from its perch to fall upon them, the PCs unleashed a hail of missiles at strange creature and striking it down before it could injure any of their band. Having proven their merit in battle, the six continued to explore the tomb, uncovering a large cell haunted by skeletons (which proved little threat with two clerics in the group), a room full of religious accoutrements (where they lifted some silver candlesticks and decided to don the midnight-blue robes they found there”just in case”), and a empty study /library that was overseen by the mosaic of a bald, bearded man. Despite a thorough search and the fact that the mosaic seemed to be focusing its attentions on a certain stone table, nothing was discovered therein.

Finding the stairs to the tomb’s lower level, the party ventured deeper into the complex. A walled-up niche was broken open to release a desiccated corpse that even the clerics’ mighty faith could not dispatch (but spears and axes could) and which held a well-made falchion of possible enchantment. A fight with a few more skeletons (quickly turned) and a giant scarab beetle (quickly squashed) left the party facing a door that leads still deeper into the complex…

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Jethal the Hexmaker

Tall and thin, Jethal is usually dressed in yellow robes that give him a jaundiced appearance. His black hair is cut short and high in the back and slopes down to form long bangs that hide his smiling face. He regularly applies kohl around his eyes, making his eyes appear as if peering out of deep, dark pits.

Jethal the Hexmaker dwells in a hexagonal building on the Lane of Scales in Rhuun. He shares his abode with a bald and aged manslave and a seemingly docile leopard. Known to engage in magical experimentation, he utilizes a cadre of agents and the occasional adventurer to procure the ingredients these processes require.

Malbane the Green

Neutral Level 1 Magic-user
Played by: David

STR: 10
DEX: 11
CON: 8 (-1 hp)
INT: 16 (+2 languages, +1 to decipher tomes)
WIS: 13 (+1 to save vs magic)
CHA: 11

Hit Points: 2
Armor Class: 9

Special Traits/Abilities: Resistant to Venom, Natural Climber (87%)

Weapons: Staff, short bow, dagger, silver dagger
Armor: None
Magic Items: rainbow potion with blue flakes (?)
Weapon proficiencies: bows, short; staves

Spellbook: Read magic, shield, sleep, invisibility

Objects of questionable value:

Experience: 1716 (+10%)
Last Update: 6/03/10


Neutral Level 2 Fighter
Played by: Eric

STR: 12
DEX: 8 (-1 to missile, +1 to AC, -1 to initiative)
CON: 14 (+1hp)
INT: 8 (partially literate)
WIS: 9
CHA: 12

Hit Points: 8
Armor Class: 4

Special Traits/Abilities: Eye for Horseflesh

Weapons: Spear, flail, sling
Armor: Banded mail & shield

Magic Items: Falchion (undead slayer)
Weapon proficiencies: ball & chain; sling; sword, long; spear

Objects of questionable value: Robe (midnight-blue), pewter bell, electrum ring with geometric pattern

Experience: 2156
Last Update: 6/03/10


Lawful Level 2 Cleric (Yg the Serpent)
Played by: Eric

STR: 13 (+1 to hit, damage, open doors)
DEX: 8 (-1 to missile, +1 to AC, -1 initiative)
CON: 10
INT: 10
WIS: 16 (+2 to all magic saves)
CHA: 8 (+1 reaction, retainers 3, loyalty 6)

Hit Points: 10
Armor Class: 4

Special Traits/Abilities: Swims like a Fish

Weapons: Dagger (x2), sling, staff
Armor: Banded mail & shield
Magic Items: Dagger
Weapon proficiencies: staves; sling; dagger

Spells: 1/-

Objects of questionable value: Robe (midnight-blue)

Experience: 2464 (+10%)
Last Update: 6/03/10

Friday, March 5, 2010

Reference Materials

The following materials are available in PDF format for free. Consider downloading a copy of each so that you'll have them to reference for meetings and in between game sessions.

Labyrinth Lord Revised rulebook: (no art)
Advanced Edition Companion rulebook: (no art)
Mutant Future: (a post-apocalyptic role-playing game 100% compatable with Labyrinth Lord)
A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming: in case it's been a while since you played an old school role-playing game. Especially helpful if you've never played early D&D at all.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Darkness: The Inspiration behind "Watchfires & Thrones"


I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish'd, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went--and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chill'd into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires--and the thrones,
The palaces of crowned kings--the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consumed,
And men were gathered round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other's face;
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:
A fearful hope was all the world contain'd;
Forests were set on fire--but hour by hour
They fell and faded--and the crackling trunks
Extinguish'd with a crash--and all was black.
The brows of men by the despairing light
Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits
The flashes fell upon them; some lay down
And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest
Their chins upon their clenched hands, and smiled;
And others hurried to and fro, and fed
Their funeral piles with fuel, and looked up
With mad disquietude on the dull sky,
The pall of a past world; and then again
With curses cast them down upon the dust,
And gnash'd their teeth and howl'd: the wild birds shriek'd,
And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,
And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes
Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawl'd
And twined themselves among the multitude,
Hissing, but stingless--they were slain for food.
And War, which for a moment was no more,
Did glut himself again;--a meal was bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;
All earth was but one thought--and that was death,
Immediate and inglorious; and the pang
Of famine fed upon all entrails--men
Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;
The meagre by the meagre were devoured,
Even dogs assail'd their masters, all save one,
And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
The birds and beasts and famish'd men at bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
Lured their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answered not with a caress--he died.
The crowd was famish'd by degrees; but two
Of an enormous city did survive,
And they were enemies: they met beside
The dying embers of an altar-place
Where had been heap'd a mass of holy things
For an unholy usage; they raked up,
And shivering scraped with their cold skeleton hands
The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath
Blew for a little life, and made a flame
Which was a mockery; then they lifted up
Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld
Each other's aspects--saw, and shriek'd, and died--
Even of their mutual hideousness they died,
Unknowing who he was upon whose brow
Famine had written Fiend. The world was void,
The populous and the powerful--was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless--
A lump of death--a chaos of hard clay.
The rivers, lakes, and ocean all stood still,
And nothing stirred within their silent depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropp'd
They slept on the abyss without a surge--
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The moon their mistress had expir'd before;
The winds were withered in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perish'd; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them--She was the Universe.
One of the benefits of having an English Lit degree is being well-versed in poetry. I was searching out "Ozymandias" when I rediscovered the above poem by Lord Byron. I'm certain old George Gordon didn't know it at the time, but he graciously gave me the name of the new campaign in this piece--to paraphrase line 10, the campaign will be known as "Watchfires and Thrones," both of which appear in abundance in the sword & sorcery literature that I'm drawing inspiration from.

The Graveyard

Being a Compleat and Concise Lyst of all the Valiant Adventurers Who Hath Perished 'Neath the Rotted Moon

  • Azerran -- Slain by the claws of the fungal dead in the Temple of the Goat (4/18/10)
  • Baragkus -- Killed by a gelatinous cube under Hob's Hill (4/17/11)
  • Borgo Hasslehoff -- Incinerated in a rocket explosion under Modnar's Tower (9/26/10)
  • Chuck -- Killed by berserkers in Stonehell Dungeon (8/21/11)
  • Clausius Clapeyron -- Burned to death by flaming frogs in Stonehell Dungeon (5/1/11)
  • Danek "Armbreaker" -- Fell under the blows of an animate suit of armor in Athkul's Tomb. (3/21/10)
  • "El" Ravener -- Torn apart by the fungal dead in the Temple of the Goat (4/18/10)
  • Felix Fartouch -- Killed by a poison needle in Stonehell Dungeon (8/21/11)
  • Grumble Brokenaxe* -- Slain by zombies in Stonehell Dungeon (10/10/10); Killed by a spider under Hob's Hill (4/17/11)
  • Hemlock -- Fell to the orcs of Stonehel Dungeon (8/1/10)
  • Immeral the White -- Died in a pit in Stonehell Dungeon (8/1/10)
  • Kallen Doomsong -- Fell beneath the claws of skeletons in the Temple of the Goat (5/2/10)
  • Kejair -- Evicerated by an owlbear under Hob's Hill (4/17/11)
  • Kliegeles -- Slain by an animated statue in the Temple of the Goat(4/18/10)
  • Korlack Nightspring -- Incinerated by a dragon under Hob's Hill (4/17/11)
  • Kyrinn -- Killed by an orcish sword in Stonehell Dungeon (7/11/10)
  • Lyrax Tonn -- Incinerated by a dragon beneath Hob's HIll (4/17/11)
  • Malbane the Green -- Electrocuted in the Black Gut (6/13/10)
  • Marlowe Freedman -- Incinerated by a dragon under Hob's Hill (4/17/11)
  • Mars Markus -- Incinerated by a dragon under Hob's Hill (4/17/11)
  • Mock Hagglegam* -- Ambushed by a Stormcrow agent in Modnar's Cellar (9/19/10)
  • Mordakis the Silent -- Crushed by an animated statue in the Temple of the Goat (4/18/10)
  • Morg Kelden -- Died in a pit in Stonehell Dungeon (8/1/10)
  • Ozwald Cobblepot -- Smooshed by a bale snail in the Hive (8/29/10)
  • Pip Haggleham -- Chopped down to (further) size by an orc's axe in Stonehell Dungeon (8/1/10)
  • Presto -- Eviscerated by an albino lobster/mantis in the Temple of the Goat (3/28/10)
  • Reddannon -- Decapitated by the fungal dead in the Temple of the Goat (4/18/10)
  • Raijek Goodwill -- Stung to death by a giant bee (2/20/11)
  • Rondo Fleagle -- Died in battle with Stonehell's berserkers (12/05/10)
  • Ronald Crump -- Killed by a potion of poison in Stonehell Dungeon (5/1/11)
  • Rynn the Dog -- Slain by stirges in Stonehell Dungeon (8/8/10)
  • Sir Octo Puss III -- Killed by a potion of poison in Stonehell Dungeon (5/1/11)
  • Tigir -- Poisoned by a needle trap in the Temple of the Goat (5/23/10)
  • Xander Tonn -- Slain by the Hounds of the Great Mother in the Temple of the Goat (4/25/10)
  • Yodahlla -- Shredded by the fungal dead in the Temple of the Goat (4/18/10)

    * denotes the character was slain but later raised or resurrected. His or her death is kept for statistical purposes.