Thursday, September 25, 2008

Avast! Internet Pirates!

Not to even mention Walmart pirates (but that's another story)...

Anyways, there's no real profound post here today, I just simply want to pass along a bit of knowledge that perhaps might make your day a little brighter.

If you have a Facebook account, you've probably noticed the new shenanigans they're trying to pull off with the layout. It's all a bunch of nonsense really.

But then, it all changed...

Step 1: Click the "Settings" button. It's in the dark blue header bar towards the right. Click directly on the "Settings" button, not on anything in the drop down menu.

Step 2: Choose the tab that says languages.

Step 3: Change your language to English (Pirate).

Seriously... do yourself a favor. Facebook just gained about 500 points in my book. Well done Captain Zuckerberg. Well done...

D&D: Riddle Me That!

Digging for riddles? I made a previous post with a bunch of D&D monster-based riddles (which no one even tried to answer. Here are some more riddles though, some of them easier, some of them harder. Some of them much harder.

A golden head without a thought
A golden tail as well
But a body have I not
Though futures I can tell.

When Dawn breaks o’er charted hills
I lie patient at your feet
All day I follow, escapeless still
Until the high sun you do meet
Or quickly vanish gone do I
When silver moon climbs up on high.

Lie there seas with no water
Coasts with no sands
The towns hold no people
And the mountains no land

If a man were to carry my burden
It would quickly break his back
I am poor as the poorest of beggars
Yet I leave silver in my track.

You are locked in a room
With no windows or doors.
You have a table and a mirror.
How do you escape?

Try your best! Also, as I mentioned in my last post, please let me know if you're interested in any topics! I'm interested in blogging for the people, so let me know if you have any burning questions, if you'd like me to expand upon anything I've already written, or if there's a brand new topic you'd like me to discuss. You can email me at, or you can just add a comment!

Happy riddling!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gamebuilding #3: Othercity

First and foremost, I know there are bunches and bunches of blogs out there to read, and goodness knows I read about fifty RPG blogs daily. Is there anything you, my wonderful (and quite attractive, if I do say so myself) readers would like me to do a blog post about? Let me know! If you really liked something I've posted about in the past, or would like me to continue a specific series I've delved into, let me know! Getting some feedback about what to post would greatly help me know what you want to read about!

Anyways, to the point...

As many of you may have noticed, I wrote a pair of rather vagues posts a while back here and here. I entitled these posts "Gamebuilding" for a reason, which ties back to the first post I ever made on this blog. One of my reasons behind crafting an RPG blog is to document my quest for publication! Over time I hope to submit adventures and material to several RPG magazines and publications, but the two posts you saw offer an introduction to my grand project.


Here's the first real pitch of this game, so let me know what you think!

Dear Diary,

Myth tells us of time's greatest cities... Atlantis. Babylon. Agartha. Places of fantastic construction, magical origin, and beautiful sights. The stuff of fairy tales, offered up to humanity as symbols of utopian hope and dreamlike wonder.

Every beacon though, however bright, casts a shadow. One fallen to forgetful pasts and dystopian ideals. This shadow, is Othercity.

Othercity is a world outside of our own. A seemingly endless reality of steel, stone, streets and buildings. Divided by districts and factions, it is a harsh place for all who live within it.

And then there's us.

To Earth, we are the lost. To Othercity, we are the Phasers. Nothing more then a bothersome thorn in the feet of Othercity's superiors. People looking for answers, people looking for truth, people looking to get home. Othercity has a system, but we operate outside of it. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we're special. Maybe it has something to do with what we can do here. Maybe it scares them. Maybe that's why they want to lock us up, or gun us down...

Some of the other Earth Phasers - Terrers they call us - say that Othercity was just another mythical location lost to time in idea and name. I think we've always known of Othercity though... just by a different name.

Welcome to Hell.

~Kayla Bradford

- - -

The way I'm envisioning Othercity is as a dozen or so different genres merging together all within this strange city. To name a few, there will be elements of Fantasy, Steampunk, Cyberpunk, Post Apocolypse, Contemporary, Biopunk, and Superhero.

As a preview to further discussions of Othercity, here is a very quick briefing on each of the cultures/factions:

Wrakes: Law officials of Othercity, unnaturally strong and known to be ruthless and cruel, though much more likely to break your arm then the law.

Serpians: Othercity's gypsy population, you can't trust these drug-dealers any further then their forked tongues will reach.

Rasks: The rulers of Below, these rats will supposidely kill anyone for a price, if you can speak their language that is.

Kienta: A winged race of scientists. If bad looks could kill, these ladies could bring back the dead, not that they aren't trying to find out how to anyways.

Phasers: The chosen. The visitors. The invaders. The Terrers. No matter what you call them, they all have one thing in common. They're a long way from home.

Humans: In the hundreds of years of Phasers coming to Othercity, their "need-to-breed" has left thousands of half, quarter, or less "Humans" in their wake. The Phaser bloodline eliminates all Othercity characteristics in the child, leaving them "normal" in a city that prizes everything else.

Brights: [Data file currently inaccessible]

Coming soon... expanded culture/factions, Othercity's basic geography, and a lexicon of terms important to know in the Othercity world.

Also, I'm leaving the below in the post even though I didn't type it for one reason. Ginger Unity.

***This is proof that Betsy Fernsten (non D&Der) was here when [Storyteller] was writing this blog entry!! She however, did not interfere (much).***

Anyways, more to come on Othercity. I hope people are enjoying what they're seeing so far!

By the way, that fantastic picture above was made by Greywulf over at Greywulf's Lair. He's pretty much awesome so go check his blog out. Right now. DO IT!

Monday, September 22, 2008

LARPing: A Weekend In Pictures

Just got back from Steam & Cinders last night, and am happy to say it was a successful weekend. For those of you not familiar with what I'm talking about, Steam & Cinders is a LARP - or Live Action Role Playing game - that I work as a senior staffer for. You can learn everything you'd like to know (and probably more) about LARPS from my RPG posts. Specifically this one.

As a senior staff member I get to create and run plots, which is tons of fun. This weekend I got to play a Fire Spirit, a wacky chief engineer, and a native huntsman ritualist, not to mention the dozens of other things I found myself playing as the weekend went on. I may speak more about the event later, but for now, enjoy some pictures!

A Balihu vs. an Aniyonema. Who will prove victorious?

A scavenger and a diplomat out for a walk.

Yes, yes that is a Steampunk Watercooler.

A Jhandihari Merchant and an Aniyonema Totemic pose.

A chemist studying her notes...

As a last note, everything looks better in Sepia. That is all.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Gone LARPing...

Well, I'm off for the weekend.

Off to hit things with fake weapons and run around the woods...

And to see the world in sepia...

See you Monday!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Use This Tavern!

Don't have time to create a tavern? Use mine!

The Silver Harp Tavern

The Silver Harp Tavern is often a way station for travelers, probably due to the fact that not only is it run by a pair of adventurers, but it also bears a large sign to the side of the door proclaiming “Adventuring Parties Welcome! Good Food! Warm Beds! Tasty Rumors!” The main chamber is an upscale dining hall with five large tables, a fireplace on the western wall, and a lifted stage to the east.

There always seems to be music playing the tavern, whether or not a performer is on stage. The floor is made of polished wood and the walls are covered in tapestries which depict various exploits of the two owners in their adventuring days.

This main chamber could fit between 20-30 people fairly comfortably, though it is often filled to a 50 person capacity if a well-known bard or storyteller is to be performing.

A long bar stretches along the back wall with a rather cheerful horned man with the legs of a goat mixing drinks, with a set of panpipes always around his neck. Every table is adorned with a large round candle, all of which seem to float an inch or so into the air. In the kitchen behind the bar every so often the sounds of crashing can be heard, but still the Silver Harp is known for its amazing food.

- - -


Basic Meal………….…………….…………1g
- Carrot and Mushroom Soup
- Honey Bread
- Smoked Boar

Full Meal……..………………………………2g
- Carrot, Mushroom and Onion Soup
- Honey Bread
- Spiced Krenshar
- Common Ale
- Sliced Pear

Deluxe Meal…………………………………10g
As Full Meal except:
- Sliced Peaches replace Sliced Pear
- Halfling Hazlenut replaces Common Ale
- Salted Salmon replaces Spiced Krenshar
- Add Hunk of Mushroom Cheese

- - -

In actual blog-worthy news, I am starting a very exciting reading project. As many of you know, I made a guest post a while back on Chatty DM's blog about how to make taverns more fun.

Well, for those of you who don't know I attend Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, and just the other day I was walking past the "Bucknell Authors" display in the campus bookstore and saw a book called "The World of the Tavern".

A book about taverns? By a Bucknell Professor nonetheless! It was destiny. Unfortunately, the book costs an arm and a leg, but luckily we had one in the campus library. So, I picked it up and plan on reading it over the next week or two. Hopefully you'll see some more tavern-related posts by me in the future with this unique insight. Maybe even an interview with the Professor who co-wrote it?

Happy Taverning!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Handout #1d100: Adding a Template

Every treasure horde needs something unique. Some groups may certainly be happy with just buckets and buckets full of gold, but sometimes a more unique sort of treasure is required. To some characters, a fully stocked library is just as valuable as any dragon's horde, but what can you give a player to appease their loot tooth?

Submitted for your pleasure is one "scroll" you can print out for your players. A ritual allowing them a chance at transformation into a half-celestial. This was written for 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons, but could certainly be adapted for any system. Many players would consider adding a template to their character better then treasure. I see such a ritual as a great roleplaying opportunity and a fun side-encounter. Enjoy!

Performing Transformations: An Experiment
by Malaki Tapprio

To alter not only the structure of one's body but the blood that flows through one's veins is a truly difficult feat, as it involves the body to be both disassembled and invariably reassembled with the assistance of powerful magicks. Altering merely the outer form of any object is simple, involving merely any illusionary or transmutation magicks to be successful. However, to change the species of a creature is a scrupulous task as it requires the very transformation of ones blood. This requires a much more powerful ritual, to be discussed later.

The most immediate issue approached when discussing self-transformation is that of the soul. Souls are a confusing subject as they are ethereal and therefore impossible to examine. This calls into question whether or not the soul carries important genetic information linked to the shape of a creature or merely that creature’s thoughts, memories, and emotional infrastructure. In my experiences I have found that it is impossible for any genetic information to be linked to this variable, as I have with my own eyes witnessed a soul enter the wrong body. This resulted in one creature literally seeing through the eyes of a different body.

The soul defined who they were, what they knew, their personality, and their memories, while the body was just a shell. However, while this might seem straightforward enough, and one would think merely calling a soul into a different body would perform a proper transformation, this is incorrect. Through several experiments on calling the souls of several Ratticus Norvegici into the bodies of various creatures, while the Ratticus Norvegicus still was able to function, and tried to eat food it was used to, the creature failed to use any of its new body’s abilities.

For example, when the soul of a Ratticus Norvegicus was called into the body of a Pan Troglodytes it did not make use of any of the Pan Troglodytes natural abilities, such as climbing. This works in the same way that trading souls between two humanoids would not allow them to use each other's learned or natural abilities or magicks. It is rumored that the druid cabals have capabilities of doing such reincarnations, but I have heard that it is unreliable at best.

When the soul is not in it's host body and is merely a ghost in a shell, it loses its ability to access any functions beyond those that are basic. This proves that the soul, while having no sway on the shape or makeup of a creature, when removed from its host body loses these functions. Along this line of thinking I have deduced that any changes of form must be made to the host body in order to fully become said creature. The soul however, having no sway on the appearance of a creature should be removed fully before any transformations take place. This is due to the fact that the soul is a very delicate variable, and is subject to possible change should it be present during the actual transformation. Despite what happens to the body, when the soul is called back it will recognize it’s host body as it’s own and reattach properly, now binding to the new shape and genetic makeup, allowing the user full access to all special functions of the new form.

Therefore it is conclusive that to properly transform one creature into another, and to attain all special abilities such as magicks, longevity or the ability to fly, first the soul must be removed from the host body. Following this, any and all transformations to the body must be made. For convenience sake, I suggest cutting the host body into very small bits so the body will already be in it’s lowest form (several hundred pieces) and the blood will be readily accessible and able to be altered if an inner change is required. Transmutation spells can be cast at this time to alter physical appearance.

Following all necessary transformations, the soul may be called, and reattached to its new body. Recognizing the body as it’s host body, the soul will make the proper changes and readily bond to the body, infusing the new shell with the memories, and emotions of the original person. Since the soul recognizes the body as its host, it will make the proper accommodations to allow most if not all of the new body’s functions to be activated and readily used. Along the lines of retaining magicks, magicks are tied to the body, therefore as long as nothing is taken away from the body, only changes, magick users will not lose their spells.

To properly “alter” the blood of a creature in their broken-down state, in the case of completely replacing blood or creating a mixture, it is not possible to merely remove the blood from the broken creature and replace it, rather, the blood must be magically replaced. If any substances are added to a corpse from which the soul has been torn, and the soul is called back, the creature reforms, despite where its blood may be, leaving the added substance behind. The blood therefore must be magically replaced or added to so the body recognizes these substances as now part of the body. This way, when the body is raised after the soul is reattached the substances stay with the body, and indeed, the very genetic substance of the creature is altered.

For example, if you wanted to infuse a human with troll blood, after removing the human’s soul a powerful spell must be used to replace the human blood with troll blood and to bind it to the body. When the soul is called and the body raised, the body would recognize the troll blood as part of the body, and would take the place of the removed human blood. The creature would appear normal, like a human, but with troll blood, abilities, and natural magicks running through it in addition to any emotions, memories and magicks that the human had before the transformation. However, any troll abilities based on the structure of the trolls body would be inoperable unless the humans body structure was also changed during the transformation. In essence, to change both the blood and the body, two powerful spells, most likely drawn from the transmutation path of magick would be required.

In the case of making half-breeds, the alteration of blood is slightly different, and easier. Instead of completely removing the blood of the original creature, you need only to bind the blood of the new creature with that of the original. For example, along the same lines if you wanted to make a human half-troll, after removing the soul, a ritual would be done to bind each drop of the trolls blood with a drop of the human’s blood. This is easier because no additional spell is required to bind the new blood to the body, as the bound blood will reform with the original blood.

The specificities of blood for distinct creatures are a hindrance however in the sense that blood cannot be made my magical means. So far, the only discovered way to perform such a blood transfusion is with real blood, usually acquired by killing the creature to which it belongs. This comes with problems though, because if the creature were to be raised after the transformation took place the blood may very well be ripped out of its new host’s body and cause irreparable damage. In the case of creating half-breeds however, some hopeful information has been found.

It appears that if both creatures are willing, a magical compromise can be made. If the souls of two creatures are removed, for example a troll and a human, and magick is cast to bind half of the trolls blood to the human’s, the same effect as before would be possible in the creation of a half-breed. However, to keep the troll alive, half of the human’s blood may be equally bound to the troll’s. In this case, both creatures would be able to live; only two full-bloods would become two half-breeds.

The experiment will be tested on intelligent creatures for the first time in history upon myself, Malaki Tapprio. I will attempt to become half-celestial by bonding with an Archon. Archons interact highly with humans and are also preachers of wisdom, knowledge and aid. My current plan is to find one through my prayers who wishes to be more in touch with the mortal realm and to offer the transference of blood as a suggestion. One candidate is Vretil, who specifically follows the aspects of knowledge; however he is a leader and such a sacrifice on his part I could not even ask. Though some of the angels under him may be willing. The ritual will be performed as followed:

Step 1: The assembled will pray.

Step 2: I will perform a ritual to consecrate and purify the land, so as to make the land both suitable for the ritual, free from unwanted interference, and pure enough for the Archon to set foot on.

Step 3: I will perform a ritual to allow the Archon to come into the Material Plane.

Step 4: We shall both be prepared for the ritual. Our bodies will be cleansed of any possible taint, all equipment shall be removed, and all others, save those needed to cast spells and oversee the ritual, will leave the area.

Step 5: The assembled will pray.

Step 6: Two sacrificial daggers shall be covered in acid. We shall both simultaneously perform the art of righteous sacrifice. Our blood shall fall by our own hands, and in one strike our souls will be removed from our bodies.

Step 7: A Transmuter of great power shall perform a ritual using purified components in order to provide a transference of half of our blood to each other, binding it to our remaining blood.

Step 8: A Transmuter of great power (not necessarily the same one), shall again call upon the their magicks to alter the structure of my body to one that can properly withhold the blood of a celestial being. Such changes will include wings and other adaptations connected to flight. Other possible changes may include hair and eye color.

Step 9: The assembled will pray.

Step 10: Two Clerics of great power will call each of our souls back to our respective bodies. They will bind with our new blood, and the structural changes to my body.

Step 12: We will all pray and thank the Gods for their guidance in this feat.

More information concerning the effects of this ritual are forthcoming, notwithstanding my horrible, horrible death.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Runelords D&D: Paradise Lost

This series is a session-by-session recap of the Rise of the Runelords campaign over the course of the school year. The current party:

- Deanda, Elf Druid/Nature's Warrior
- Kiikii, Human Conjurer/Malconvoker
- Nakor, Human Transmuter/Knight Phantom
- Jaime, Human Cleric of Iomedae
- Kraca, Dwarf Monk/Ninja
- Slavla, Half Elf Barbarian/Fighter/Frenzied Berserker

Having destroyed once and for all the foul beasts at the Graul Farm, the task of retaking Fort Rannick has fallen to our heroes. The three remaining Black Arrows stood ready to fight by their side, but what would be waiting for them in the keep beyond...

Following their victory over the Ogrekin Hillbillies, the party along with their four newest companions, fell back to Turtleback Ferry for supplies.

As they rested in Turtleback however, regaining strength and selling the treasure they'd found, Deanda happened upon an incredibly unsettling finding. As a commoner bent down to pick up a box of supplies, the druid spied a strange tattoo on the small of his back - the Sihedron Rune.

Approaching the man, the party quickly allowed their tone to become accusing as the man tried to hide the fact that he had any tattoo at all.

With a few... encouraging words from Nakor however, along with a shoulder squeeze by Slavla, the man - a hunter by the name of Tay'el - quickly told his story.

Apparently, there used to be a gambling barge which operated on Claybottom Lake which entertained many of Turtleback Ferry's male citizens.

The barge was run by a woman named Lucrecia, an elegant woman who had offered this man the tattoo as a sign of favor. Tay'el claimed that Lucrecia only offered this tattoo to the customers she preferred, and that it was used to avoid paying a cover charge to board the gambling boat.

Tay'el admitted that he had hid the tattoo initially because his wife would be furious knowing that he had gone to the gambling barge, a place called Paradise. But our heroes were much more concerned with something else. They had seen many copies of the Sihedron Rune before, and this one looked almost identical to the ones scribed onto the victims of the Sihedron Sacrifices before they were killed. The party wished to know who else had been inscribed with the tattoo, but the man said he didn't know since they were told to keep the tattoos secret.

Heading to the local chapel of Erastil, the group tried to learn what they could of the barge from Father Shreed, the town's mayor. He said that the barge had burned up in a fire a week or two ago, though no one was said to be aboard except for the barge's elegant matron - Lucrecia. The barge supposidly sunk to the bottom of Claybottom Lake, taking Lucrecia with it.

While this questioning happened, Slavla was doing some investigating of his own - though he didn't know it - as he seduced one of the waitresses at Bottoms Up. Surprisingly, the waitress had worked as a serving girl on the barge while it was in operation, and it wasn't long before the two were in a backroom, and Slavla found a similar tattoo on the girl's ankle. Several minutes later, Slavla made his way back into the common room, only to find the rest of the group seeking out the very girl he'd just seduced, as they'd heard about her working on the barge. Slavla smiled, gathered the questions they needed answered, and made his way to the back room to engage in some "pillow talk" about the girl's former place of employment.

After some private questioning the group found out that the barge was mostly staffed by unseen servants, though Lucrecia certainly ran the show. Apparently, the process of inscribing the tattoo was accompanied by a strange poem which Lucrecia would say in a foreign tongue. After Nakor recited a few lines of Thassilonian, the woman nodded, indicating that this was the language Lucrecia had used.

She was also able to point out that Lucrecia must have been incanting some kind of spell or ritual, as the weight of her words was not unlike Nakors as he cast detect magic on the tattoo. Even though the tattoo did not generate magic, it was clear that the image was part of some kind of magical ritual.

With this unsettling knowledge, the group decided that there was little they could do about the strange state of affairs in Turtleback Ferry yet. First, they had to travel to Fort Rannick. So, off the group marched - traveling for half a day before the reached the beaten and battered fort.

After watching the fort for the rest of the day, the group hatched a plan. Seeing as the new barracks build outside was foolishly crafted from wood, the group could easily set it ablaze. Then, as the burning barracks would form a distraction, they could make their way into the hidden caves through a waterfall entrance to the south-west of the fort.

When dawn came, Deanda took the form of a bird and flew to the barracks. Laying a talon upon the door, Deanda willed the wood to bend and shape itself, soon becoming a solid wall where the door had once been. To the cries from the 25 ogres within, Deanda summoned a crackle of lightning from the skies before setting ablaze the firewood beneath the structure, effectively making it look like a stray lightning bolt had set the barracks on fire.

Retreating, the group made their way to the waterfall and climbed into the inner caves.

After making their way across a rickety bridge, the group came upon a crypt within which Kraca faced off against an anguished spectre which sucked the very life out of him. Jaime, holding his holy symbol high, was able to bring about the final death of the creature, filling it with the holy power of his Goddess.

Shaken but not deterred, the group made their way down to the lower caves.

Soon, they came across a room filled with shocker lizards. These, the Black Arrows had said, were common creatures which bred in the keep's lower chambers. Finding themselves in cramped quarters with a slowly advancing swarm of lizards, the group acted quickly. Kiikii filled the chambers with thick swirling sand which burned at the lizards, while Deanda covered the walls and ceiling which the lizards clung to with hidden spikes. Through their combined efforts, the weak lizards didn't stand a chance, and quickly met their end.

Advancing further, the group found a small door which led into the jailer's den. What was a jailer's den on the map however, was hardly what they'd been expecting. The floor had been covered with silks, blankets and pillows, while the air was filled with the smell of incense. A woman who could only be described as elegant beckoned them in, introducing herself as Lucrecia.

The woman was no fool, and understood the predicament she found herself in. She made no intention of lying to the heroes and pretending to be anything that she wasn't, stating simply that she had a proposition for them. She offered them a place at her side, rather then against her.

"You're clearly capable individuals, and I just figure you'd rather work for the side in all of this that will actually be winning. Our side. Besides... Mokmurian would simply love to meet you." Most of the party seemed to be dead set against the woman's tricks, though Nakor seemed to want to see what she wanted to say.

The woman quickly noticed Kaven Windstrike, one of the Black Arrows who had traveled with them and laughed. Amused, she thanked Kaven for delaying his group of Black Arrows on their mission those many days ago so that the Fort could be taken so easily. At this, Jakardros flew into a rage and charged at his former companion. Battle was joined.

With a strange laugh, the woman's body transformed as her legs were replaced by a reptilian snake tail. Lucrecia was a Lamia Matriarch, just as Xanesha had been, and she was no less deadly. Lashing out at Nakor with her rapier and dagger, the man was nearly dropped as she drained his very wisdom away with each strike.

Kiikii summoned his fiendish ape to try and hurt the woman while the rest of the party tried their best to fell the Lamia Matriarch. Lucrecia was no simple creature however, as she lashed out with both blade and spell. She rattled the heroes with a lightning bolt, before dropping Slavla to his knees in laughter through her hideous laughter spell.

Just when the heroes thought they were getting the upper hand, Lucrecia cast shield on herself, but even the buffed up defense was not enough for Kikii's orbs of acid. Seeing her end in sight, Lucrecia through open the door behind her and took her normal shape, stepping through it. Would our heroes reach her before the woman turned and ran? Would Lucrecia get away?

Well, rather then steal their thunder, I'll just let the heroes tell you how it ended!

- - -

DM Notes: (These are player-safe, no spoilers)

What the party seemed to enjoy

- I think there was some great roleplaying that happened in Turtleback Ferry after the Sihedron Rune was discovered. The party seemed to really enjoy interrogating the various citizens in their... unique ways. What was just an information hook turned into a great set of roleplaying encounters.

- Planning the assault on Rannick worked well as the party learned more about the keep the more they planned it out, rather then just charging in.

- Proving victorious against the shocker lizards was actually a really big point of excitement at the table. The swarm was a true threat, but when the party's careful strategy worked with flying colors it was certainly a moment of celebration.

- I think everyone enjoyed my "special treasure" at the end of the session. Who needs in-game gold when you can have chocolate gold coins!!!

What I could have done better

- I had planned to stat out each of the NPC's so that a player could take on their stats. I didn't have an opportunity to do this, but since they still have all of Rannick to get through, I think I'll be able to do this for next session and I think it will work excellently.

- There was an encounter I had wanted to run between Turtleback Ferry and Fort Rannick, but skipped it due to time constraints. I wish I had been able to plan something shorter though as it seemed like an abrupt jump.


I think it's important every game to let one or two characters take the spotlight. Every session, I try to give someone a chance to shine. I try not to spread myself too thin, and try to focus on a different player or pair of players each session. All of the players have a chance to strut their stuff during each session in different ways though, even when they may not realize it.

- Slavla got to flex his muscles as always, but this session he actually got to be one of the party's spokespersons! Usually Slavla is the last person to talk for the group, but he proved key in learning a lot of information about the Sihedron Rune in Turtleback Ferry through his own special means of interrogation. I loved the way this encounter played out and I think Slavla really got to shine.

- Kiikii's skills contributed majorly to every battle that the party came across. Against the shocker lizards and Lucrecia, his spells helped to completely scale back the encounters. I feel like Kiikii always contributes in a major way but the party probably would have been in deep trouble this session if it wasn't for him, and I think they noticed that.

- Though it wasn't as big a spotlight, Deanda single-handedly took the torch to 25 ogres. It was a short encounter since it was so well-planned but through her mad druid stealth skills, she was able to turn a potentially disastrous encounter into a cakewalk.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Crimson Throne D&D: A City Gone Mad

[SPOILER: Members of my RPOL "Pathfinder: Journeys of Golarion" game should not read this post as it contains information as to the adventure you are currently playing.]

This series is a session-by-session recap of the Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign over the course of the school year.
Enjoy! The current party:

- Lowen, Half-Elf Cleric of Irori
- Ramius, Human Swashbuckler
- Tulia, Human Sorceress
- Einkil, Dwarf Fighter
- Ziaphas, Human Wizard

So passes Eordred II, second of his honorable name, and as his last breath faded the position upon the Crimson Throne fell to the lovely Queen Ileosa, his lady wife. Such a surprising shift in power however is never without a ripple amongst the populace. This ripple however tore through Korvosa like fire through kindling.

was burning.

Over the past hour or two while our heroes fought past Gaedren Lamm's henchmen and freed his enslaved orphans, Korvosa had been tearing itself to pieces. Sable Marines flew at breakneck speed towards Castle Korvosa while Korvosan Guardsmen ran headlong through the streets trying to maintain order. Even the occasional Hellknight could be seen chasing down a rather unfortunate looter or two. It was chaos.

"My family! They might be hurt!" Tulia shouted this half-crazed and half-terrified. Before her newfound companions could stop her, the young girl was running headlong through the streets - quickly disappearing into the chaos.

The party agreed they needed to get out of the streets and made for Zellara's house to try and put the pieces of this mystery together. As they rounded the corner however, the cries of a nearby mob caught their attention. A young intelligent-looking man, perhaps a graduate of the Acadamae by the look of him, was currently surrounded by six men wielding shovels, table legs, and broken chairs.

"Look at yeh skinny boy!" One of the men called at the scrawny scholar. "Betcha never worked an honest day's labor in your life, eh, Queen's Man maybe? M'brother had his arm crushed by a barrel on the docks when he was younger then you. Never raised a mug of ale with that wrist again. Wanna know what it feels like?"

As Ramius and Lowen leaped into action to save the man, Einkil simply grinned as the fight brewed, seeing the skinny man as just as much of a target. Before the dwarf could get the drop on him however, the man fell unconscious to the ground as a shovel knocked him upside the head. The battle was joined as Ramius, Lowen and Einkil made short work of the shovel-toting commoners.

There was some debate about what to do with the scrawny gentleman whose life they'd saved, as Einkil thought they should simply leave him be. As Ramius spied a bottle of wine in the man's backpack however, he quickly said they should bring him to Zellara's with them. The group finally agreed.

When they returned to Zellara's home, the found the fortuneteller's abode abandoned and empty. The dust of several weeks laying thickly on the broken furniture. But how... when this room was fully furnished only hours ago... That was a mystery for later however.

After tying the man up the brought him to consciousness. The bound man introduced himself as Ziaphas, indeed a man of the Acadamae. He'd gone out into the streets of Korvosa only minutes before the chaos hit. He was trying to get to a safer district of the city when the men had accosted him. Having no reason not to believe him, along with his suggestion of a glass of wine, the party released him and contemplated their current situation.

After a little bit, the heroes decided it would be best to ask a guardsmen what had happened. Heading out into the street as they saw one walk by, the unknowingly approached one of the Watch Sergeants, a man named Grau Soldado. The man however, from his slurred words and stumbling, was clearly drunk.

The man, in his stupor, cried out in happiness when he saw Ramius - mistaking the man for a fellow guardsman that had apparently worked along Grau's side in Sandpoint many years ago named Neffi. He insisted on buying the whole group a round of beer at the nearest tavern.

There Grau tried to answer the party's questions as best he could in his state, saying that the King had died, and even though his health had been declining, no one was expecting it so soon. Without the King to pass his orders down, Grau said, the whole of Korvosa had just broken apart. Especially since Eordred had been such a fantastic King.

Since the riots had started, Grau seemed to have just lost it, after seeing some of his fellow guardsmen as well as some Sable Company Marines die from angry citizens. He found the nearest bottle of liquor and started drinking, saying that he had failed. He'd lost his King, lost his honor, and lost his love.

As Grau passed out on the table, the group decided that they needed to go and see what was what at Citadel Volshyenek. Einkil picked up the unconscious man, and they headed out in the direction of the Citadel.

About halfway there however, the group was met with another challenge. Four Imps flew from rooftops around them and assaulted the party, stinging at the heroes with their barbed tails. For a little bit, the imps seemed like too much of a challenge, but luckily a pack of Pseudodragons quickly joined the fight. With the help of the Pseudodragons, the battle proved victorious.

For the entire battle, Ziaphas seemed a little nervous. He explained that he was concerned that the imps might have been familiars of powerful Acadamae mages, though it was entirely possible that they were just part of the stray Imp population that lived throughout Korvosa as a byproduct of Acadamae graduation rituals.

Thankfully, the native Pseudodragon population kept the imps in check, but still the group determined that the Imps probably wouldn't have been brave enough to attack had it not been for the chaotic nature of things in Korvosa.

Arriving at Citadel Volshyenek, they found it's doors open, as the guard was welcoming in nonviolent citizens seeking shelter and safety for the evening. The group found refuge here as they deposited the drunken Watch Sergeant. They could learn little from the guards about what had happened above and beyond what they'd already learned. The group eventually decided it would just be best to get some sleep.

As the following day came, things seemed to be slowly getting back to normal. The fires had at least subsided, though the streets were still thick with looters and ripe with chaos. It was made clear that the streets were not safe, so it seemed that for the meantime our heroes were stuck together.

Hearing of a pawn shop that had hesitantly opened up business, the group made their way to a nearby alleyway within which a halfling had set up shop. The halfling was a rather eccentric fellow and brave, though not without reason, given the half-orc guard he'd hired for himself. The group parted with the treasures they'd gained from Gaedren's lair, making a fine profit. When they reached the fancy brooch, the halfling's eyes went wide though he tried to hide his surprise, offering the group a paltry sum of 100 gold for it.

Sensing that something was off, the group pressed the matter, until both parties were on the verge of drawing swords. One stern look from Einkil however, set the halfling to shaking in his boots. The shopkeeper confessed that he didn't even want to buy it anymore! It was stolen property, he claimed, of the Queen! It was her brooch, and he didn't want to be caught with stolen property. There was rumored to be a reward for it however, so the man suggested they return it to the castle.

Making their way to the castle, the party found it under heavy security. Showing the brooch hurried things along however, and it was mere minutes before they met face-to-face with the Queen's personal handmaiden, bodyguard, and rumored lover, Sabina Merrin - a stunningly gorgeous swordswoman. She took each of their names, and ushered them into the great halls of Castle Korvosa.

After introducing them with a flourish, the party was allowed to approach the Crimson Throne, upon which sat Queen Ileosa. The Queen was a vision of celestial beauty, despite the black mourning dress and veil she wore in honor of her husband's passing. A small silver coffer sat in her lap. The queen spoke...

"This brooch was stolen from me some time ago - I had not expected to see it again, truth be told. And yet, here on my darkest day, you come before me with kindness. The return of this brooch is much more than an honorable deed. It is inspiration. It is hope.

I love Korvosa, as my husband did before me. His death has shocked the city as it has me, but I will not see his legacy destroyed in death, and I shall not see my city torn apart. All Korvosa stands at the precipice of a disaster wrought by her citizens - these riots simply cannot continue. You have already done by heart a great service in returning this bauble to me on this dark day, and you shall be rewarded. Yet, perhaps you can serve your city more.

If you so choose, I shall have Sabina see to it that you have an escort of guards when you leave here - they can see to your safe journey to Citadel Volshyenek. I shall send word ahead of you to Field Marshal Cressida Kroft to let her know you are on the way. The Korvosan guard is stretched thin, and it can certainly use the aid of such heroes as yourselves.

Now, I need to retire to my personal quarters - my grief has drained me. Again, I thank you for your kindness, and I hope your days of serving the crown are only just beginning." The Queen granted them 1,200 gold pieces worth of Korvosan Metal Ingots and bid them farewell.

Upon arriving at the Citadel, the party was ushered before a very exhausted Field Marshal. She spoke shortly and curtly, explaining that if the party wished, they would be offered a temporary membership into the guard so that they could help keep the city under control. The woman glanced through her notes and then to Ramius. "It seems that some of you have... a record with the guard. But as far as I'm concerned, if you're willing to step up to the challenges now, then I'm happy to have you on board." The woman crumpled up Ramius's former record and tossed it to the side, as the swashbuckler smiled and thanked her.

Cressida laid out the mission. A man by the name of Verik Vancaskerkin had defected from the guard and taken a group with him. They were held up in a butchery called "All The Worlds Meat". She wanted to know why he left, but most of all, she wanted him back. Dead or Alive. Cressida wished them luck, and sent them off.

- - -

DM Notes: (These are player-safe, no spoilers)

What the party seemed to enjoy
- Being able to bash down some unruly commoners seemed like it was a little too enjoyable... It was played off as a pretty humorous encounter though, which I think went well.

- The introduction of Ziaphas worked a lot better then I thought it might. Bringing in a new player, even in the second session, is always hard. This went pretty seamlessly though, and I was able to put it right at the beginning of the session.

- I think the group loved Grau and his drunken antics. I had him somewhere between plastered and stoned and he was fairly ridiculous. Sadly, I can't remember any of his drunken quotes right now. Players - can you help me out with some of Grau's more humorous moments? I just remember it being pretty hilarious.

What I could have done better
- I should have saved the Imp/Pseudodragon battle for a session where there was more combat, since the group was relatively ineffective against them so they could have had more of a sense of accomplishment.

- I forgot to make them bow before the Queen. That could have led to some interesting party dynamics...

- I forgot to do something important when they got back to Zellara's house, but it's an easy fix next session.

- I should have had the Grau encounter later in the adventure so that he would have had more time to grieve. I was just too excited for the encounter!


I think it's important every game to let one or two characters take the spotlight. Every session, I try to give someone a chance to shine. I try not to spread myself too thin, and try to focus on a different player or pair of players each session. All of the players have a chance to strut their stuff during each session in different ways though, even when they may not realize it.

- Ramius had the most backstory-centered plot this session. His transgressions in the guard have essentially been forgiven, and he's been granted a second chance to redeem himself. He also had more then enough opportunities to shine in combat, and in his valiant rescue of Ziaphas. Ramius was also given a contact to speak with at the Citadel when they first arrived.

Picture from Pathfinder's Curse of the Crimson Throne Player's Guide.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Leadership: The Solution

To allow, or not to allow. That is the question. A lot of feats out there, primarily Item Creation feats, always beg this question. Do I want to give my players the false hope that they will actually have downtime to make these items? Am I denying a feat when in fact there will be downtime during which there will be nothing else to do?! Always a debate. Perhaps the biggest debate in my book is for the Leadership feat.

Leadership has the potential to get bad. It can wind up with a ton of figures on the map that are not unlike speedbumps as far as the characters are concerned. And suddenly I as the DM have to come up with how many different personalities? Unless of course I just want the player to manage them all and wind up with thirty followers with identical personalities.

So how can I keep my players and myself happy? Well, I'll allow Leadership - but I want to have fun with it to.

Followers aside for a moment, my solution doesn't work for everyone, because some people just really want to make a second character (their cohort) and get to fight with two characters during combat. Well, I've tried this method and it simply doesn't work.

Characters somehow find cohorts that perfectly accentuate their own abilities, and who get lost in the shuffle as two-dimensional characters with no real motives or backstory besides kissing the character's feet every night.

Hey! Cohorts are people too!

So, first off, I do away with followers. I allow characters to gather followers, but I do not allow followers to go adventuring. They can start a small village, run a store, manage a keep, or anything like that, but these folks will never join your party officially. As for the cohort, while I offer the player some control over the type of cohort, it will be me as the DM who actually makes and runs the character.

This takes a little getting used to, as not all DM's all knowledgeable enough at the game to run too many NPC's. With a well laid-out character sheet however, taking on a DM-PC can be done, and is actually fun.

Pro: You actually become attatched to your "PC" and get rid of that nasty tendency to stack the odds against your player.

Con: You have to be very careful about not making a character who can give the players too much info or who might be tempted to roleplay. You have to get used to the NPC being impartial, going along with the PC's and even perhaps feeding them faulty information sometimes. (This can be fun).

So what do I do when my players take Leadership? I have them fill out the following sheet, then I get to make the cohort and it's up to them whether or not the NPC is accepted. This is all done through roleplaying while I don't even show the sheet to the player. Then, I essentially add an NPC to the party, and take control of them in roleplaying encounters and combat.

Another Pro: Having NPCs under your control with the party can actually be really good. If the players are ever being really really stupid, if you're sneaky, you can nudge them in the right direction without them knowing. This takes practice.

The Leadership Form
My current leadership score:

1. Which type of character class:
- Warrior
- Arcane
- Divine
- Adventurer

2. Which alignment appeals most to you:
- Good
- Evil
- Chaotic
- Lawful

3. Which type of character concept:
- Brute
- Peaceful
- Explorer
- Scholar (book smarts/INT)
- Pious
- Tactician
- Sneak
- Artist
- Sage (worldly/WIS)
- Student

4. Which type of race:
- Same as you
- Humanoid (standard)
- Humanoid (nonstandard)
- Monster
- Animal

So, lets say that our good friend Kiikii-Jiikii wants a stalwart companion to keep him safe (since he's a chicken). Kiikii could specify that he wants a warrior companion who is primarily good. Since Kiikii is looking for brawn, he chooses the Brute concept. Feeling a little crazy, Kiikii chooses Nonstandard Humanoids as the race.

Kiikii's Cohort Options

Class: Fighter, Barbarian, Ranger (two-weapon), Monk, Paladin, Duskblade, Dragon Shaman, Samurai, Knight... and so on...

Alignment: Either Neutral Good, Chaotic Good, or Lawful Good.

Character Concept: Since Kiikii chose Brute we can probably start to narrow down class choices. This mostly has to do with the character's ability score dispersal however, and how they react. They are probably either a dumb thug, or someone who simply deals a lot of damage. They're not too tactical - they just hurt things.

Race: Since Kiikii picked Nonstandard Humanoid there are really a TON of options. Though the character has to be good, it could still be anything from a Kobold to a Gnoll.

Based on all these ideas, I would try to make a character that would add something unique to the party and who would also give Kiikii a fun companion to pal around with. Remember that you probably don't want to make a character who rivals someone else in the party. For example, I wouldn't make a Barbarian cohort, since there's already a barbarian in Kiikii's party.

Plus, I would want to make it something that I would enjoy playing, and that could be played fairly easily. Write up a sheet, pick out a figure, and you're good to go!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Gunslinger: A 3.5 Homebrew Class

In honor of the current homebrew carnival going on hosted by Donny the DM, I thought I'd toss my two cents in with one of my homebrewed classes for 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons. The Gunslinger. I originally designed him for an Expedition to Castle Ravenloft game I was running since one of my players was eager to use guns. Here's what I came up with...

Where there are weapons, there are those who have mastered them. From sword-wielding warriors to dagger-throwing ninjas. For some however, a weapon is not just a tool, not just a blade or a bolt, but something more. A lifestyle. Such is the attitude of those who have taken and mastered the keen clockwork motions of the pistol, hidden and deadly. For this weapon master, bullets are his lifeblood, kickback is a graceful art, and the scent of gunpowder is what drives him onward. There is no keener eye and no deadlier bullet, then the Gunslinger.

Adventures: A gunslinger is driven by the desire to perfect himself. An adventure is seen as a challenge, and challenges are made to be overcome. Life is full of trials and gauntlets, all of which the gunslinger sees as opportunities to perfect himself and his skill. He will often think outside the box, trying to go around problems rather then confront them head-on. Gunslingers are careful planners and priceless companions.

Characteristics: Gunslingers are very limited in terms of weapons, typically wielding nothing beyond a pistol and both excelling and improving upon it. His skills allow him to improve upon and maintain his weapons as well as lending some aid in the dangers of a dungeon or in other such unique environments. Typically hailing from urban backgrounds, the gunslinger is not as adept to the wilderness as his distant cousin the ranger, using their knowledge best around machinery, architecture, engineering, and technology. An experienced gunslinger has deadly accuracy with his weapon, or weapons, as some gunslingers choose to focus on duel wielding revolvers.

Alignment: Gunslingers can be of any alignment, while some find profession as chaotic vigilantes defending the less fortunate, others use their skills to further their own gains. Still others work for elite bodyguard companies, or are hired as bloodhounds to track down criminals using their unique abilities. Evil gunslingers are a force to be feared, using their distant and deadly techniques much like an assassin who can take out a target from a half-mile away.

Religion: Gunslingers follow a variety of deities, but most commonly gunslingers follow either Moradin or Garl Glittergold. Moradin, as the god of smithing, metalworking, and engineering, is an obvious choice. Garl Glittergold is the chief patron of the gnomes who flock to this class because it utilizes one of their creations – the revolver. There is some debate over who designed firearms first, the gnomes or dwarves, though the common belief is that gnomes created the revolver.

Background: Most gunslingers gain their training through their craft, either as a blacksmith, alchemist, gunsmith or clockmaker. Combining these crafts gives the components needed to make a gun, and most artisans with the hope of adventuring will often craft and practice with a weapon of their own. Firearms are still considered rare, so not many mainstream adventurers use them, leaving the class primarily to those who can actually craft the weapons and bullets.

Races: Clearly, the most common races who come to this class are gnomes and dwarves, as they feel natural wielding the weapons their ancestors created. Humans however, also are drawn to the gunslinger class, further expanding their versatility. Half-Elves and Half-Orcs have been seen to wield the weapons as well, though halflings find them to cumbersome and elves find them to unnatural, though there’s a first time for everything…

Classes: Gunslingers get along well with most classes, though druids and rangers will often find their techniques disruptive and unnatural. Gunslingers get along well with fighters, who often show them more respect then they show people using wooden weapons. In general, anyone who can mind a gunslingers company and doesn’t mind having their items tinkered with every so often is ok by them! As gunslingers are often curious and think outside the box, their best companions are usually rogues or others who have a knack for using, tampering with, and disassembling devices.

Role: Gunslingers find their best role as a secondary combatant, using their ranged combat abilities to get into a fight quickly and do lots of damage. Gunslingers also know their way around traps and locks. While not as proficient as a rogue, they often can use their abilities to “Aid Another” when dealing with locked doors and traps.

Game Rule Information
Gunslingers have the following game statistics.

Abilities: Dexterity is important for a gunslinger both because he tends to wear light armor and because of their ranged proficiency. Intelligence is also important for gunslingers as it gives them a high number of skill points and Intelligence is the key ability for a gunslingers spells. An Intelligence score of 14 or higher is required to get access to the most powerful gunslinger spells. Charisma is also helpful to a gunslinger as it fuels a lot of their skills.

Alignment: Any

Hit Die: d8

Class Skills: 6 + int modifier (x4 at 1st level)

Gunslinger Class Skills: Appraise (int), Bluff (cha), Concentration (con), Craft (int), Disable Device (int), Gather Information (cha), Hide (dex), Intimidate (cha), Knowledge: Architecture and Engineering (int), Knowledge: Local, Listen, Move Silently (dex), Open Lock (dex), Search (wis), Profession (wis), Search (int), Sense Motive (wis), Spot (wis)

Class Features
These are the class features of the gunslinger.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency (Ex): A gunslinger is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, as well as revolvers. A gunslinger may wear light armor, but not shields.

Urban Tracking (Ex): A gunslinger gains Urban Tracking as a bonus feat.

Gunsmith (Ex): A gunslinger gains a +2 insight bonus on all craft checks having to do with assembling a gun (blacksmithing to make bullets, alchemy to make gunpowder, gunsmithing to make the casing, etc.)

Improve Revolvers (Ex): At 2nd level and beyond, by tinkering with a revolver for 8 hours, a gunslinger can make the weapon function more efficiently. Every time a gunslinger earns this ability (at 2nd, 6th, 10th, 14th, and 18th level), his guns are somehow visually altered, allowing others to see that his weapon has been altered. For each such alteration, the wielder gains a +1 to their intimidate checks made to demoralize an opponent. This bonus does not stack for multiple tinkered weapons being visible. The alteration is the same for all weapons tinkered by a gunslinger, so should they duel wield revolvers, they will look identical. It is up to the player to determine what the alterations look like, though it should be creative and unique.

At 2nd level, a tinkered weapon counts as a masterwork weapon. As revolvers are complicated weapons, they are not normally sold as masterwork weapons, making this one of the only ways to gain such equipment. At 6th level, a tinkered revolver weighs half as much and is considered a light weapon. At 10th level, a tinkered revolver doubles it’s range increment from 30 ft. to 60 ft. At 14th level, a tinkered revolver gain a +1 to all damage rolls. This stacks with any other abilities which grant a +1 to damage, such as point blank shot. At 18th level, once per day a tinkered revolver can do a complete discharge, firing all bullets within the chamber. This is a full round action. Attack rolls for each bullet are rolled separately.

Practiced Hand (Ex): At 2nd level, a gunslinger gets Weapon Focus: Revolver as a bonus feat.

Draw! (Ex): At 3rd level, a gunslinger gets Quick Draw as a bonus feat, but only for drawing his revolvers, not other weapons.

Steady Eye (Ex): At 4th level, a gunslinger gets Precise Shot as a bonus feat, but only when using revolvers as his ranged weapon.

Trigger Happy (Ex): At 5th level, a gunslinger gains Improved Initiative as a bonus feat.

Expanded Chamber (Su): At 8th level when loading a revolver, a gunslinger can load “another bullet” effectively allowing him seven shots before he needs to reload.

Evasion (Ex): At 9th level, a gunslinger becomes much more aware of the combat around him, granting him the ability to dodge incoming fire much easier. He gains the Evasion ability.

Dive for Cover (Ex): At 12th level, a gunslinger furthers his ability to dodge incoming attacks. Once per day, if the gunslinger fails a reflex save to only be dealt half damage from an attack, he may try to make the save again. If he succeeds the second time, he only takes half damage from the attack, but he is considered prone.

Hide in Plain Sight (Ex): At 17th level a gunslinger may hide regardless of terrain or concealment.

New Items
A gunslinger has access to more advanced items.

Revolver (exotic one-handed)
Dmg: S = 2d4, M = 2d6
Critical: x2
Range Increment: 30 ft.
Weight: 3 lbs.
Damage Type: Piercing
Cost: 500 gp
Craft DC: 30

Bullets (10)
Weight: 1 lb.
Cost: 3 gp.
Craft DC: 10 (requires 1 oz. gunpowder)

Gunpowder (powder horn)
Weight: 2 lbs. (32 oz.)
Cost: 35 gp
Craft DC: 15

Different guns reload at different speeds.

1 revolver w/ free hand = standard
1 revolver w/ free hand + rapid reload = move
1 revolver w/ free hand + rapid reload + duel discharge = free
1 revolver w/o free hand = full round
1 revolver w/o free hand + rapid reload = standard
1 revolver w/o free hand + rapid reload + duel discharge = move

So, if Kain is duel-wielding revolvers with the Rapid Reload and Duel Discharge feats, he can empty both revolvers and then take a full round action to reload both of them.

New Feats
A gunslinger has access to different feats which may aid him.

Urban Tracking [general]
You can track down the location of persons within a community.

Duel Discharge [general]
When duel-wielding revolvers, you can reload them quicker.

Prerequisites: Proficiency with Revolvers, Rapid Reload, BAB +4

Benefit: With a flick of your thumb, you can open the cylinders of your revolvers, dropping out the blank shells with a flick of your wrists. This cuts your reload time when duel-wielding (see the above reloading chart).

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Runelords D&D: In The Hook's Shadow

As Kraca currently has a Kama to my throat telling me it would be a "really good idea" to write last Sunday's adventure recap, here it is!

This series is a session-by-session recap of the Rise of the Runelords campaign over the course of the school year.
We were down Deanda this session, and Slavla for half of the session, but I think it still went well. The current party:

- Deanda, Elf Druid
- Kiikii, Human Conjurer/Malconvoker
- Nakor, Human Transmuter
- Jaime, Human Cleric of Iomedae
- Kraca, Dwarf Monk/Ninja
- Slavla, Half Elf Barbarian/Fighter

Half-expecting that the bear would lead them to it's cache of honey jars, the party followed dutifully regardless. It would seem that their trust was not in vain however as something cried out in the tongue of giants, "Hey Mammy! When's dinner?!" Our heroes had come upon a pair of buildings - a barn and a farmhouse.

No sooner did they crest the hill however then a deformed ogrekin came barreling over hill towards them with a warcry that sent nearby birds flying away in a frenzy.

Though the ogrekin were only simple inbred half-breeds, it hardly meant that they weren't capable fighters, which our heroes very quickly found out. The first one went down simply enough, and the farm fell quiet. Almost like the ogrekin were... waiting for them. Maybe dinner hadn't come yet since the food hadn't come to the front door? Only time would tell.

Choosing to head to the barn first instead of the farm house, the heroes quickly found themselves matching swords against three young ogrekin who fought with tooth and claw to protect their distillery. Soon however, the ogrekin were dead, and the party made it's way into the room beyond.

Here however, they were faced with something they weren't quite expecting. In the corners of the room laid two cages where three men were captured. In the center of the room, thick strands of web wound down, forming a cylinder of space up through a huge funnel spider crawled angrily. It's fangs dripping with venom.

The party, vexed by the small catwalk they were moving upon, and the spider's ability to bite those far away from him, almost met their end. Nakor and Shalelu fell victim to the spider's strength-draining poison as Jaime fell through the web to the floor below.

Kikii summoned a giant fiendish centipede and tricked it into serving him as Kraca nimbly made his way onto the web and Nakor's transmutation spells allowed him to land a few powerful blows as well. By the time Slavla caught up to the party, it was too late.

The elven lass Shalelu had fallen to the spider's attacks.

Spurred by their anger at the elf's demise, the heroes rose together to destroy the beast before their Slavla was even able to land a strike.

Nakor soon collapsed due to the poison coursing through his veins sapping the last bit of his strength, and the group agreed that they could continue no further this night. They freed the hostages and learned what they could.

The prisoners apparently were three of the Black Arrows by the names of Jakardros, Kale, and Kaven. Jakardros, the apparent leader, said that his squadron had been on a scouting mission throughout the Kreeg Woods several weeks ago. The common mission had taken longer then it should have as the party had faced a large number of delays for one reason or another, but when they returned - the siege on Fort Rannick was too great.

They tried to retake the Fort, but lost a third of their men in the attempt. The rest of them fled into the Kreeg Wood and were captured by the Graul Ogrekin and brought back here to their homestead. Since, they've been killed and tortured. They weren't sure if any other Arrows remained in the house proper. The Black Arrows seemed like competent fighters and said that if equipment was provided, they would offer what assistance they could.

The party then brought Jakardros to Shalelu's body, and the man broke down into tears. As a sign of good faith, the party offered to bring back the elf with a raise dead scroll. He graciously accepted their offer.

After a tearful yet awkward reunion, the party was ready to sleep.

But sleep was not peaceful.

In flew the barn doors during the second shift as Mammy Graul and her many mirror image copies flew into the barn in a rage. She quickly flew to the rafters pelting the sleeping adventurers with spells. With angry arcane words she stole Slavla's sight and laid the ground thick with grease.

Kikii summoned a fiendish ape to cling to the wall alongside her, while the rest of the party attacked the crazed woman with what ranged weapons they had. Kraca soon towered over his companions as Nakor cast an enlarge person spell on the man, allowing the monk to reach the lofty woman. After an exhausting battle, the woman finally fell - bouncing harmlessly of the dwarf's shoulder.

Morning came.

With Mammy Graul dead, and a newly improved party of ten people (including Kibb the bear), it was simple enough to enter the home. The party made their way through dozens of traps, fought off young annoying ogrekin, and cleared the upper floors of any other dangers.

The house itself was an obscene menagerie of severed body parts and massacre. As they continued onward, it seemed like every room contained yet another display of how heartlessly evil these ogrekin were - making it all the sweeter while they were fighting them.

Making their way downstairs however, they weren't quite ready for what they found. Inhabiting one of the rooms (beyond a hallway that seemed for all intents and purposes to be HEAVILY trapped, and yet was not trapped at all), a Tendriculous had taken up residence.

The creature seemed to be a huge plant with razor sharp teeth and deadly tentacles, though Kiikii was able to point out that it was in no ways like a normal plant.

It lashed out at Kraca and caught up the dwarf in it's teeth before swallowing him whole!

The party tried a variety of ideas to rescue the poor imprisoned dwarf but in the end decided that they just needed to beat the thing into submission so they could free their friend.

On the battle went, with the Tendriculous grappling with yet another giant centipede that Kiikii had summoned. Nakor joined the fray as he grew in size as well, while the Black Arrows circled the thing and got off as many attacks as they could. Slavla poked and prodded with his "pointy stick" as well.

No one could really figure out how a Tendriculous got into the Graul's basement until another Ogrekin appeared proclaiming "What're you doin' to my brother?!" Strange... but they'd seen stranger. The battle raged until finally the last of the Graul family lay dead. Kraca was saved and revenge had been served. The Graul clan were dead.

Leaving the gruesome farm behind them, the band of adventurers made their way back to the main road. "Fort Rannick," Jakardros explained, "is just ahead. We should rest for the night and attack at dawn. Kale here is a practiced cartographer and should be able to draw up a map of the Fort for you. We can discuss strategy in the morning. Until then, I think we've all earned a good night's rest." With that, our heroes turned in - excited for the battle to come tomorrow.

The only sounds at the campground as sleep enveloped our adventurers were the happy stories that Jakardros and Shalelu shared of her mother and his love...

- - -

DM Notes: (These are player-safe, no spoilers)

What the party seemed to enjoy
- This was a great session for my group because they love battles! Even though not all of these battles were as easy, I think it gave them a great introduction into some of the more powerful fighting challenges they are going to start facing. Things like flying enemies, enemy spellcasters (who can cast blindness), enemies with regeneration... It had them fight taking a lot of things into consideration, now that their enemies have tricks up their sleeves. I think the battles went really well, especially the one with the spider and the Tendriculous.

- Having a party of 10 people storm a tiny house... while it can be crowded... it's also awesome.

What I could have done better
- Running the monsters and all five NPC's was too much. For the siege on Fort Rannick I am writing up each of the NPC's for use by the players. This way, everyone will be playing their own character, along with one NPC. I think people will really enjoy this, I just didn't have it prepped for this particular session because the last group I ran it with didn't save the prisoners until the very end.

I think it's important every game to let one or two characters take the spotlight. Every session, I try to give someone a chance to shine. I try not to spread myself too thin, and try to focus on a different player or pair of players each session. All of the players have a chance to strut their stuff during each session in different ways though, even when they may not realize it.

- Everyone got to shine individually in the combats. Our group really works well together in fights, and everyone plays an equal role. Since this was a highly combat-based session since it was essentially a "dungeon crawl", there were no real roleplaying encounters where a player got to shine. I think this was fine though, especially after the very low roleplaying first session.