Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Session LXV: Behold: The Big'uy!

A note from the Warlock
Still catching up on our session recaps.  Making progress with a few more to go.

Current Player Characters:
Edan (Atlantean)
Minimus (Cleric)
Su (Cleric)
Thenus (Ranger)
Wang Du (Monk)

Having warned the town about the Gnolls being controlled by a Beholder in the caves of Brushwood, it was decided that a war-party be formed to deal with this menace.

The party sought the aid of Tyrius the magician in Fishersville and he lent them one of his Stone Guardians.  They also traveled to Thorngrove to seek assistance from Lillian the Druid of the wood who, regardless of the shift in timelines, was pregnant with Gnarly's child. She lent them the use of one of her Grizly Bears. Along with the two mercenaries who had rescued them on the road, the town bowyer and a couple of watchmen along with a captured Gnoll freed of the Beholder's spell, the party was set to face the "Big'uy" once more.

With Gnoll leading the way they entered the caves through a secret entrance.  Following a similar path through the caves that lead to their escape they soon came upon the empty lair of the Big'uy.  There they hid for an ambush while the two mercenaries and Wang Du headed down a side passage that the bear refused to traverse.  There in a chamber they found the Beholder's treasure.  Wand Du headed back to the party to face the menace but the two mercenaries stayed behind to attempt to gather the treasure for themselves. 

In the main cavern, the Beholder returned with his Bugbear guards and was ambushed by the party. Even with the Grizly bear and the Stone Guardian and the others, the battle went poorly from the start.  The Beholder turned the bear into a pig and slowed the attack of the Stone Guardian to a meaningless annoyance.  It was Thenus' and the Bowyer's attack with arrows that were making any progress knocking out the many eyes of the beast.  With Minimus and Edan also slowed it looked as though the Beholder and his minions may have had the day but with some forceful attacks and one final blow from the Stone Guardian, the Beholder was defeated and the Bugbears slain.

With the Gnolls freed from the control of the Big'uy, they vowed never to harass the travelers from the area and to leave the caves and left the party to their own devices which would be to attempt to gather the Beholders treasure guarded by some unseen and deadly threat.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Session LXIV: Orc is the New Black


A note from the Warlock
Still catching up on our session recaps.  Many more to go.

Current Player Characters:
Edan (Atlantean)
Minimus (Cleric)
Su (Cleric)
Thenus (Ranger)
Wang Du (Monk)

Current player map
Edan, Su and Thenus, having been captured by Gnolls, find themselves in a dark cell along with Minimus (Maximus' brother) and Wang Du. Also in the cell are Jute's father and Bonham a dim -witted warrior along with other travelers that have been asailed by the Gnolls.   Children  were corraled in a separate cell.  

During their imprisonment they heard their orcish jailers mention someone called the Big'uy. 

The only thing to do was attempt an escape by feigning that someone is sick.  An Orc, along with Gnoll guards looked in on the prisoners. After a quick attempt to overpower the guard in the cell failed, Edan and Thenus reached out of the cell and grabed the orc guard with the keys and, after breaking his arm, escaped and battled the gnolls with clubs. 

Donning the gnolls armor and freeing the other prisoners the party delveed deeper into the Gnoll caves looking to free others but soon came face to face with The Big'uy, a whinny Beholder!

In the attempt, Bonham was killed and the rest of the party along with the freed prisoners were placed back into their cells - all to be food for the Beholder who had been controling the Gnolls to be his slaves using his magic his magic.

Prisoners once again and slowly being fed to the Beholder, Miniums attempted to communicate with a rat to help gain their freedom.  In exchange for a shiny object, the rat agrees to steal the cell keys from the Gnoll guards, which he does.  Freed once again, the party rescued the children and sneaked through the tunnels, killing any Gnoll they came across. 

With freedom finally gained they work their way through Brushwood and find the north-south road between Larm and Fishersville. As the Gnolls close in to attach the party are befriended by a pair of mercenaries seeking Baron Blackmoor's killers.  The Mercenaries escorted the beleaguered escapees back to Fishersville as the Gnolls closed in.  

The town is warned about the Beholder and the Gnolls which have taken up residence in the woods.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Session: LXIII: Highway to Hell or The End of Arvin's Avengers

A note from the Warlock
Continuing playing catch-up on our session recaps.  Many more to go.

Current Player Characters:
Gnarly Blunderbrush (Druid)
Edan (Atlantean)
Maximus (Magic-user)
Su (Cleric)
Thenus (Ranger)
Tibag (Ranger)

The party once again descended beneath the ruined abbey of the Cader'ian, and ancient sect of Druids who also studied arcane magic.  They retraced their steps to each of the chambers of the hound statues. One by one the Headless Hounds are summoned and defeated but now appearing in the final chamber, atop the Iron Throne, was Xuthal the Demon Prince surrounded by his Mephit minions, behind him an open portal to some nameless hell!

Xuthal asked only for the Earth Stone which held the imprisoned souls of his enemies the Cader'ian.  There was much  debate within the party about trusting a demon (who would, really?) with Su leaning on the side of trusting the dark prince.  

Distrusting the demon, the party foolishly attacked (seriously, the demon was on the up and up)!

Xuthal reacted mercilessly!  He cast a  fear spell on half the part including Maximius and Wolf who bolted out of the chamber and down the hallway.  While the remaining party members battled the fire-breathing Mephits, Xuthal pursued Maximus, who was in possession of the Earth Stone, down the corridor and defeated the famed giant slaying wizard.  While Maximus' body was being dragged back to Xuthal's chamber, Su healed the wizard just enough for him to awaken and shatter the Earth Stone destroying the souls of the Cader'ian and sending Xuthal back through the portal. However, the vortex caused by the closing portal sucked Gnarly, Tibag and Maximus into that nameless hell as well.  

Thus fell the last surviving members who were once part of Arvin's Avengers!

The survivors, Edan, Thenus and Su headed out of the Abbey where they found that the little girl Jute had reappeared - a sign that the proper time-line had been restored.

They all left the Abbey and were making their way back to Fishersville when they were waylaid by Gnolls and captured!

Sketch of the Demon Prince Xuthal

Monday, December 1, 2014

Session LXII: Gnarly and the Three Bears

A note from the Warlock
Obviously haven't posted much for quite some time.  I've been much more busy than usual and will probably continue to be for the foreseeable future.  I've been looking to carve some time out of my week to catch up on all the session posts that I've taken notes on.  We've had some really good sessions and things have been really fun at the table and I want all you readers to catch up as well.  So here's the first of a number of recaps that I'll be posting in short order. 

Current Player Characters:
Gnarly Blunderbrush (Druid)
Edan (Atlantean)
Maximus (Magic-user)
Su (Cleric)
Thenus (Ranger)
Tibag (Ranger)

Read the session background that the players received for more details

In Fisherville, the storms have gotten worse, a heaviness hung over the town, less and less people were seen each day and the adventurers had dreams of dark death.

With the tavern of the Bearded Clam deserted, the party stepped out into Fishersville and discovered that the town was empty as well.  The only person found was a cleric named Su coming into town.

As the party explored the town looking for any inhabitants they found mutilated horses, their flesh being eaten by black shaped Soul Eaters. With the Soul Eaters in pursuit of a new meal and coming out of every corner of the town, the party high-tailed it back to the Beadred Clam and barricaded themselves inside. 

Thovin, Gnarly and Su headed upstairs and tried to attack with fire from above but ended up setting the Inn on fire.  Gnarly called forth a swarm of insects which frightened the Soul Eaters and, as an eagle, guided the swarm out into Lake Blackmoor forcing the Soul Eaters to drown.

With the Inn on fire, the party thought it best to head out and seek out the Witch of the Woods.  In the forest Brushwood they came across Thorngrove, the home of Lillian, the druid of the forest.

Lillian of Thorngrove
It is here that the party learned of the ruined temple and how it once belonged to the Cader'ian an ancient race of druids who created the Earth Stone to bring prosperity to the land but who also began studying arcane magic to fight the demon Xuthal.  The two forces were ever at war and the Cader'ian used the Earth Stone to help imprison Xuthal but in doing so trapped their spirits within the Earth Stone which Xuthal held in his possession. When the party rescued the Earth Stone and fought the Headless Hounds and all died, the Cader'ian and the power of the Earth Stone altered time until a timeline was discovered where the party was victorious.  In doing so, the Earth Stone set in motion the ways in which Xuthal's prison was compromised and a dark reign began to spread across the earth.  Only by facing the Headless Hounds again and righting the time-line would Xuthal influence be stopped - but they may have to face Xuthal as well.  (note: all this came about because I had stacked the encounter too much against the party without any way out or warning all of which you can read about here.)

After a night in which Gnarly, as a bear, mated with Lillian, who also transformed into a bear (and joined by a third) the party was given horses and a wand with which to call forth the Headless Hounds once again.  Leaving the little girl Jute with Lillian, they headed back into Brushwood and to the Ruined Abbey meeting minor resistance from some Gnolls along the way.
The Earth Stone

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Session LXI: Blazing Trails

It's been a pretty sporadic year for our Swords & Wizardry campaign. We're still trying to get into a rhythm of regular sessions and I think we're finally there. I've decided to do the campaign in smaller chunks of 3 or 4 sessions and then take a break.  Trying to save myself as GM and my players from burn-out.  This way it has been pretty fun when we get back into it.

So after having 'supposedly' defeated the Spectral Scavanger and his headless dogs, our bloodied  party loots the chamber of it's treasure.  Maximus the Giant Slayer has the mysterious Green Orb in his possession. However, each member of the party has an odd feeling that things are just not quite right, that something is off with the battle* but they can't quite put their individual fingers on what that might be.

They headed back up to the main level of the ruined abbey and Maximus placed the Green Orb into the statue's hand.  Immediately, the dead vines attached to the statue began to turn green once again and very slowly spread throughout the rest of the chamber and the Abbey.  Also, a magical fountain began to bubble again and drinking from it healed all the party's wounds.

Comforting the frightened Jute, the orphan girl they found hidden in the Abbey after her family was ambushed by Gnolls, they hunkered down for the night but the night was filled with the manic howls of the Gnolls that surrounded the Abbey.

The next morning it was decided to try to make a break for it to the town of Fishersville.  Frightening the Gnolls with a swarm of insects cast by Gnarly the druid, the party broke for the forest and ran through the woods with the Gnolls in a distant pursuit.  Towards the end of the day they made it to the road but some of the Gnolls ambushed them. Defeating the beasts, Maximus cast an illusion of fire to keep them at bay.

Now on the road they hurried to Fishersville with the Gnolls closing in but the gate to the town was closed and the watch wouldn't let them pass after sunset.  As they begged with the watchmen, the Gnolls attacked.  Gnarly, fed up, turned into a bird, flew over the wall and obscured the area with a mist  and opened the gate for his companions.  Maximus finished off most of the Gnolls with a blast of lightening and Thenus and Eidan captured the Gnoll that made it past the gate.

The watch captain came up and reprimanded the his underlings for not letting the party in that were in need of aid. 

The captain led them through town to the inn, the Bearded Clam, when they came upon a mob of folks wanting to burn her as a witch for claiming that Lord Blackmoor was dead.  Apparently all the townsfolk though him alive and well as did two sellswords how were no their way to join Blackmoor's army to fight against Kushanna's forces coming out of Caladan. The Captain broke up the mob and brought the girl under her care.

The party, after dropping off Jute at the Temple of Mithra proceeded to the tavern looking for a long rest.

*At the beginning of the previous session, I didn't have much planned except for a couple of quick one-off dungeons that I put together but the final battle at the end of that session was stacked waaaay against the players.  Now, I hate fudging dice rolls which I did  a lot when I was a young GM 30 + years ago.  I vowed that in this campaign there would be no fudged dice rolls, letting all the dice fall were they may, for good or bad, for or against the players or GM.  And I stuck with that, proud to say, until that last battle in that last session.  We had a TPK.  I had overpowered the players with virtually unbeatable foes without any warning or hint as to what they might be up against.  I blame that fully on poor GMing on my part.  So after the very upsetting TPK, I retconned the battle for a redeux bringing in PC's who's players weren't present.  And after a few fudged die rolls the players were victorious.  Now,  I felt bad that I broke my own rule about fudging die rolls and I hate retcons.  So after a bit of thought I rolled that whole concept into the campaign.  Having two opposing forces of law and chaos battling through the party with law 'cheating' so to speak by bringing the party back to life, cheating death and chaos of it's victory and in the end, upsetting the balance of nature.  This helped me settle with the retcon by working it into the campaign with some negative benefits for the party and actually breaking the campaign open quite a bit from what I had lazily planned in the first place.  I don't know how much the players are aware of things but I've been giving them hints and clues that something is just not quite right.  That should break open a bit more in the next upcoming session.  I feel this was a pretty good way to handle the in game retcon and am excited to see where this might take us!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Session LX: Dogs On Your Tail

It has been quite a while since we were into our Swords & Wizardry campaign.  I didn't at all mind the break.  As DM it takes time an energy to put together even the lowest of prep-games and I welcomed not having to expend the energy running sessions.  Our group just switched over to boardgames for these many months and it's been quite enjoyable being able to relax with my crew and getting lost in some non-Role-playing game, though at times, some of these board game rules can be quite cumbersome.

So here we are, back into this crazy campaign now using the newer Swords & Wizardry Complete rules...

A bit of background...
With the public murder of Lord Blackmoor, a fierce battle broke out between followers loyal to the fallen lord, his sellswords, the priests of Mithra and the priests of the Dark Gods. Caught in the middle of all this were our fearless adventurers who held in their possession the sword Blackrazor and the Soul Gem.

Fighting their way out of the city erupting in civil war yet again, the party high-tailed it on stolen horseback to the town of Blackmoor and the temple of Morpheus with elements of all the fighting factions in hot pursuit. The path to Blackmoor was paved with blood as Televon, wielding the bloodthirsty Blackrazor hacked down the party's foes.

Entering Blackmoor in secret, the party split up, with Televon and Skwanky returning to the temple of Morpheus carrying the bloody and soul filled magic sword and the Soul Gem while Gnarly Blunderbrush and Maximus the Giant Slayer, under the cover of night, commandeered a row boat and paddled across Lake Blackmoor and into Brush Wood.
 At dawn, the two companions reached the opposite shore as an autumn rain began to fall.  Looking back they saw fires burning on the horizon where the town of Blackmoor would be.  Maximus and Gnarly worked their way into Brush Wood but as evening approached, the temperature dropped and the rain turned to sleet.  To make matters worse, they stumbled upon a hunting party of Gnolls who  pursued them to the entrance of a ruined Abbey.

Under the hail of arrows the two weary companions stumbled into the Abbey only to run into an Atlantean Edan Kael and a female Ranger Enus and a strangely pale fellow known as Tibag (yes, the original PC Tibag who had fallen into the icy blue lava too many sessions ago) who had also been chased into this ruined Abbey by the Gnolls who appear to have been under some kind of spell as their eyes were lacking pupils and white.

The Gnolls were reluctant to enter the ruined abbey, however, and the group made their introductions and explored the structure which provided some respite from the chilly damp weather.

They found a statue entwined with dried dead branches deeper in a corner of the Abbey.  The statue appeared to be that of some kind of priest and had his hands outstretched as if holding something.

Exploring further into the ruins they found a young girl hiding in a small chamber.  The frightened girl, Jute, had been part of a caravan from town of Larm heading towards Fishersville when they were waylaid by the Gnolls.  Her father helped her escape and she had made her way to the Abbey.  There she has stayed, scared, cold and hungry for two days, protected from the Gnolls but trapped from leaving.

The group rests for the night and the next day explore the rest of the Abbey and find a looted tomb and a barred door.  Going beyond the barred door the find a crypt with a set of stairs heading down into beneath the Abbey while Gnarly guarded Jute in the main hall.

Through a series of tunnels they found four statues of dogs with gems in their forehead and fountains.  Collecting the statues and matching them with the fountains they were able to reactivate these ancient wells and they bubbled up colored water in red and green.  Filling two decanters they found two basins in rooms tiled in red and green, and filling the bowls heard stone gears grinding.
In a previously deadened hallway,  a door opened revealing a hidden tomb and a boney horror on an iron throne, above the throne wrapped in a purple swirl of magic was a glowing spherical green gem.  The Spectral Scavenger claimed that the group were sent by the priests and that they will, yet again, fail as it raised it's sword and blasted a bolt of lightening at the party standing in the doorway.  

Surviving enough to react, Maximus blasted the demon back with some lightening of his own as Tigbag ran around behind the throne.  The the Spectar 'alive' and angry, he caused boney hands to burst forth from the ground and grab the ranger just as Tibag drew his blue flaming sword which greeted the thief with a cheerful "Happy Birthday!".  Tibag leaped over the back of the throne and brought his sword down upon the back of the beast which cried out in pain and Maximus finished him off with a bit more of his magic.  The Spectral Scavenger turned to dust and the glowing green gem, freed from it's magical cage fell to the floor and rolled over to Maximus who snatched it up and put it in his pocket.

Just then from, up the passage, the guttural sounds of four demon dogs sounded.  Bursting to the room were these headless hounds, bodies shredded to exposed muscle and bone and that's when things went from bad to worse...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Session LIX: The End of the Beginning


For those of you who have kept up on this blog you may have noticed a complete lack of attention given to posting as of late.  In fact, I haven't posted in months - December to be accurate. Though I've been gaming a-plenty, I haven't had much to say on the topic these days.  I've been mostly playing board games with my group as we've been taking an extended break from our Swords & Wizardry campaign.  In fact, this post is months behind our last played session.  Call me a lazy sod, or lazy Sid if you prefer.  So here's the conclusion of our latest adventures which took place some time this past December.

Our Fearless Adventurers
  1. Arg - Half-orc
  2. Gnarly- Druid
  3. Christopher - priest of Mithra
  4. Maximus - Magic User
  5. Skwanky - Halfling Warrior
  6. Wolf - Viking
  7. Thovin-Cleric 
  8. Televon priest of Morpheus (via SKYPE)

So we picked up with the party recovering in the forest level of the tower preparing for their confrontation with the Fire giant above. As they make their final preparations Televon and two other warriors appear out of the woods sent by Baron Blackmoor to discover what has happened to our fearless explorers. 

So it was time to take on the Fire Giant.  Ascending to the next level of the magic tower, the party just launched into a full rush, with some running and some flying, at the giant while he tossed boulders at them knocking one of the red shirt warriors into the pools of fire.  Finally face to face with the Fire giant some hack and slash ensued with the party finally prevailing.

After looting the Giant they discovered that the 'stairs' upwards that they saw from across the room is nothing of the sort, just a pile of rock and iron.  The real entrance is a hole in the ceiling in the center of the chamber.  But this hole covered an area of reverse gravity and it took some time for Arg with his boots of flying and Skwanky's ring of feather falling, to transfer everyone up to the next chamber - which was an upside down tropical island in the middle of a salt filled sea.

Arg flew around the water filled chamber and discovered a hatch guarded by a number of Ixitxachitl.  After a battle with these creatures with Arg flying around stabbing them along with the Druid as an alligator with Skwanky on his back 'jousting' with them, they were finally able to get to the hatch, open it and climb into the final room of the tower, the chamber of the Soul Gem!

All crammed in the tunnel hatch, they discovered the body of Zadir the wizard lying on the floor, his body and belongings burnt white!  With ropes tossed, the body was pulled over to the party and Maximus recovered the Stygian's spell book!

Seeing white flashes coming from the gem, Arg, Wolf, Thovin, Skwanky and Gnarly charged the tower only to discover it was protected by a forcefield.  As they hacked away at it, there was a blinding flash and the souls of Thovin, Wolfheir and Arg were sucked into the gem, their burnt white bodies falling to the floor.  Skwanky, the halfling, who was also burned white did not have his soul sucked into the gem.

Gnarly the druid attempted to dispel the magic force-field and was able to do so, knocking the gem to the ground.  As Skwanky picked up the gem, the whole tower shook and quaked.  With the magic of the Soul Gem, the Heart of the Tower destroyed the magic tower crumbled and vanished leaving the remaining party standing in the courtyard of the merchant guild before the priests of the Black Church and Lord Blackmoor and his guards and soldiers.

The Priests of the Black Church wanted the Soul Gem as did Lord Blackmoor but Skwanky did not want to give it up.  So this is where things really went down hill, Skwanky, ran away with the Soul Gem, with the priests of the Black Church in pursuit along with Blackmoors guards.  They began to fight amongst themselves while the perused Skwanky leaped over the cliff and started to feather fall into the sea below.  Gnarly and the priests of the Black Church fighting to save and kill the halfling.  Blackmoor, meanwhile was in a hasty chase of the halfling, with his magic sword Blackrazor increasing his speed.  Seeing his companion in trouble, Televon cast a spell on the Baron freezing him to his spot.  Televon removed the magic sword from his hand but became possessed by the power of Blackrazor and killed Baron Blackmoor in cold blood.  Take note that Televon has been dressed in the garb of the Black Priests for quite some time.

So as Gnarly and Maximus lowered a rope to help Skwank (totally bleached white by the power of the gem), Televon kills the rest of Blackmoor's guards who rush up to avenge their fallen leader.

Now, the courtyard is filled with Blackmoor's soldiers, Freeswords waiting to get paid for the battle of Caladan, armored priests of the Black Church, armored priests of Mithra who all just saw Televon, a priest of Morpheus, dressed as a member of the Black Church, murder in cold blood Baron Blackmoor who was to declare his lordship over the land of Eir'ian.  At that moment, all present were turned against our party of adventurers - but that didn't last long...



Aaaand that is how we wrapped up this portion of the campaign.  As a DM I had planned on ending on a high note with a new king for the realm and a good ending point for an extended break to our sessions - a plateau so to speak.  Well, leave it to my players to really mess any plan I make.  In fact, where we get back to playing, maybe this summer, I'm not going to plan anything for any session.  It's all going to be total randomness with direction by the players.  So instead of a nice conclusion we now have:
  1. Arg - Half-orc - Trapped within the Soul Gem
  2. Wolf - Viking - Trapped within the Soul Gem
  3. Thovin-Cleric - Trapped within the Soul Gem
  4. Gnarly- Druid - came out fairly ok, just lost some of his mushroom-men
  5. Maximus - Magic User - Finally has his hands on Zadir's spell book -  not bad
  6. Skwanky - Halfling Warrior - Bleached white and implicated in the killing of Blackmoor
  7. Televon priest of Morpheus - The murderer of Baron Blackmoor

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