Wednesday, April 29, 2020

A Campaign Begins for Newbies

Like many of you, the affects of the Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted how hundreds of millions of us fellow mutants interact and function in our jobs, communities and the world. It's a scary time for many people and, in my experience, a majority of the general population has been dealing with this in a pretty positive manner. Everyone has had to make adjustments in everything they do and all of us are experiencing a collective experience on many levels.

So.... gaming.

As you've probably noticed, The Warlock's Home Brew has been shuttered for quite some time (since late 2017). This had happened for a number of reasons. Work had gotten very busy and I didn't really have time to dedicate to blogging or gaming.  Plus, after eight years of running a continuous face-to-face campaign with my friends (all documented here), I was pretty burnt out GMing.  Finally, most of the players slowly started to disperse and go their separate ways so it felt like it was a good time to wrap up for a while.

But, lo!  Fast forward to our current timeline!

With communications with friends and family moving online, I thought now might be a good time to give online rpg'ing another try.

I had worked with Roll20 years ago and found it to be a fantastic system though, for me, time consuming and a bit clunky for a more fast-paced game such as Swords & Wizardry.  It was a fun experiment and would dabble on the platform every once-in-a-while but always just stuck with face-to-face play.

As my wife and I and a couple of our good friends that we travel with began meeting online for chats, I put it out there for us to use that time to dive into some fantasy adventuring!

Recall, if you will, that my wife is not at all a RPG gamer.  I did get her to play in our S&W campaign for a short while but it just didn't click with her. The role-playing just wasn't her thing.  Plus, we were playing with all of my friends, seasoned role-players so she felt a little out of her element.  I guess killing her character off with a Gelatinous Cube wasn't helpful either - though she fondly jokes about that experience!  See, PC deaths are a good thing!

Our friend David hasn't played the game since he was in grade school some 45+ years ago (that is crazy when you think about it), but he recalled enjoying the game enough to give it another try.

And finally, our friend Paul who has never, ever played and only knows of the game from watching Stranger Things said, "Sure, why the hell not."

So it had begun!

In short, we've had 3 sessions so far with two lasting more than four hours! We've been playing twice a week and our 4th session will be this evening.  It has been very successful and everyone has been having a great time. I've been working to streamline our Roll20 play so things run smoothly and I'll share some of what I learned about that here as well as covering our campaign summaries like I did before.

Oh, and yes, Swords & Wizardry is my game to play!

So stay safe, everyone, and...



Monday, April 20, 2020

A Dim Light Flickers in the Tower....

Watchful eyes of travelers and journeymen have noticed a dim light glowing at the top of the old tower. Does this portend good or bad omens? Has the old Warlock returned or is it some dark gloom from the dim distant past? Only the curious may approach. Only adventurous souls may seek the secrets of the Warlock's tower. As those brave souls cautiously advance, the entrance door creeks open...

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Warlock's Tower

For over eighty years, the Warlock lurked in his tower of stone, crafting all manner of trinket and bauble for the many curious novice and veteran travelers that had passed through his portal.

Often, the Warlock would narrate his many wild tales of Swords and Wizardry chronicling the many heroes to have crossed his path to those that would stop by and listen while having a smoke of the ol' pipe-weed and a sip of sweet mead, home-brewed by the Warlock himself. Some say that the Warlock would enchant his brew with a magical reagent said to be none other than the poisonous Black Lotus, used in such a precise portion with which t
o grant one's mind the key to unlocking the door to the veiled world.  This would leave those that partook in the sweet nectar with a sure-foot on the path and spirits lifted.

Throughout the many seasons, the Warlock had shared his craft with those who traveled on the same mystical path. Alas, there came a day when the tower grew dark, and the vines once speckled with sweet scented flowers withered and died, and the ancient stones decayed and fell to ruin.  The Warlock had vanished without a trace.

The gears of time ground on and the tower remained vacant.  Those same curious travelers searched the tower for trace of the Warlock and his fate but no clue was found.  Only rumor and conjecture now filled the minds of traveler and peasant alike.  Some say that a hidden passage had been found leading to tunnels beneath the tower itself. It was in these tunnels that the Warlock may have discovered other mysteries and portals and had left this mortal realm behind and met his mysterious fate.

These rumors proved too tempting for some as explorers entered the tower to pilfer some left behind treasure.  Some, however, never returned at all.

The ruined Warlock's tower still stands to this day, inviting those that wish to explore the maze of tunnels for tales and treasures left behind.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Session XCIII: One Pissed Off Dragon!

Our ongoing Swords and Wizardry sandbox campaign...

Current Player Characters:
Thenus (Ranger)
Wang Du (Monk)
Wolfheir (Viking)
Arg (Half-orc)
Sir Gwain (Paladin) 
Su (Cleric) 
Grop (Kobold Wizard)
Tadashi (samurai)
NPC
Koshan (Ogre-mage)
 After having infiltrated Agatheron's lair and defeating his army of Fire Giants, wounded and weary, the party made their way back to the village of the Firbolgs.  
With the power of Mithra, Su brought Wang Du back from the dead.  Through his travels in the Realm of Death, Wang returned more powerful than before to face his destiny with Agatheron.
Resting and recuperating in their hidden village of stone, the party began to make plans for their final assault on the Ancient Dragon. Some, such as Thenus, even questioned why they should risk their necks in the first place.
Lord Boomish, who fought Agatheron along with Baron Blackmoore many years ago, died from his wounds and old age. The Boomish family shield was given to Sir Gwain.
However, on the third evening, a fierce rumbling was heard throughout the canyon and the Flaming Pass.  In the skies above the mountains, a sight not seen for nearly 80 years; the fearsome and massive Ancient Red Dragon, Agatheron, flew off in a fit of burning rage heading to the foothills and the village of Litafjord.  From a distance they saw the the dragon raze the village to the ground, undoubtedly killing the remaining innkeeper and his dwarven wife.

With a bone-chilling and wrathful roar echoing in the mountain canyons, they saw Agatheron rise in the air and fly south towards Berkenstoke and Blackmoore... 
There was much debate as to whether take advantage of the Dragon being gone to plunder his treasure and set a trap or to continue healing.  Arg and Sir Gwain were persuasive and the party departed for the fortress once again, leaving the recovering McDagger, Biggs and Lothar behind.
Once again at the entrance, they saw it was guarded by a Fire-giant and his Hell Hound.  Without waiting, Sir Gwain rushed out and charged the Giant who let loose his beast.  Thenus fired arrows at the giant and wounded him as Arg, Wolf and Sir Gwain hacked first through the Hound and then the Giant.  

Entering the hall once again, they were soon surprised by two more Fire-Giants hiding in alcoves and firing Balistas.  The party splits and attacked their foes. Arg, Wang and Wolf attacked one giant while Sir Gwain and the rest of the party attacked the other. 

After the battle, there were two more dead Fire Giants and some wounded party members.  

It was decided to explore the rest of the alcoves in the great hall and then hunker-down to rest through the night to recover from their wounds. 

The next morning, as healing spells were cast, they heard a rushing of wind and a fierce and angry roar.  Fearing the Dragon's return, Grop turned Wang invisible and the Monk stepped out into the Great Hall.  The rest of the party thought it best to make a run for it across the hall to the opposite alcove and a hidden door.

As the party ran through the hall, the great winds were felt and heard when suddenly, the invisible dragon appeared and tried to bite the invisible Wang who successfully dodged the attack.

With the dragon present, the party went into action.  Su blasted a Cone of Frost at the dragon, wounding it as well as Wang Du who was in the line of fire. Thenus fired off her arrows and Sir Gwain, Arg and Wolf charged the ancient Red Dragon.  Koshan tossed the last Eye of Hithata which transformed into a Beholder!

Turning toward the party, Agatheron bellowed, "You have thwarted my plans in the valley and killed my army of Giants. Now I will kill all of you!" Taking a deep breath, the Red Dragon let loose a ball of flame!  

Su and Grop disintegrate into ash!
Wolf was singed but is still alive.

Sir Gwain ducked behind the Shield of Lord Boomish and survives unscathed.

Koshan and the Beholder burst into flame and die.

Thenus survived but is near death.

Wang attacked the Dragon, drawing his attention back to the Monk.  The dragon tried to claw Wang but the Monk quickly dodged the attack.

Turning back towards the party, the Agatheron attacked the rushing party with his Breath of Fire, wounding Sir Gwain and killing Arg, Thenus and the valiant Wolfheir.

With only Sir Gwain and Wang Du left and near death, they fought with sword, shield and fist against the Dragon's claw and tooth.  With a mighty blow to the dragon's neck and the mystical flying kick, Agatheron, the Ancient Red Dragon died with not so much a roar but a whimper.

With the loss of all their companions, through many adventures, Sir Gwain and Wang Du stood victorious over their greatest foe!

EPILOGUE

With the Ancient Red Dragon, Agatheron vanquished, and all their companions dead, Sir Gwain and Wang Du wearily marched back to the Firbolg's village.

Met by the recovering McDagger and Lothar, Sir Gwain and Wang Du related their final battle with the Fire Giants and the Dragon.

After their full recovery, the remaining party members along with the Firbolgs explore the abandoned fortress in search of the fabled treasure hoard of Agatheron.  Eventually it is found and it is, indeed, beyond imagination.  This long chamber is filled from end to end with unimaginable wealth. Gold is piled knee-high and speckled with jewels, weapons and artifacts of ages past - truly a dragon's hoard.

With the help of the Firbolgs, the treasure is mined out.

Without much need for treasure, the Firbolgs accepted only a small portion, preferring to live simply and peacefully in the mountains.

Wang, Sir Gwain and McDagger headed south to the village of Litafjord only to find it a charred ruin including the Keep of Lord Boomish, who was laid to rest near the Firbolg's village.

Abandoning the village and heading south, they came across the the innkeeper of the Craggy Inn and his dwarven wife.  They had left the village when they saw the dragon coming down the mountain and survived his attack.

Wang donated a portion of his treasure to the innkeeper so that they would be able to start anew.

They all travel south to the village of Berkenstoke which was destroyed by in the Dragon's wraith.  The sturdy townsfolk had already begun to rebuild the village and once the news of Agatheron's death spread there was a big celebration in honor of all the heroes that died; Wolfheir the Viking, the priest of Mithra - Su, Grop the mighty wizard, Todashi the samurai, Thenus the ranger, and Arg.

Sir Gwain and Wang donated gold to the rebuilding of  Berkenstoke and headed west to Blackmoore, which was also in ruin.

As donations and rebuilding began there as well, Sir Gwain and Wang said their farewells for now and chose separate paths to travel with the hopes that some day their paths may cross again.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Session XCII: The Half-orc and the Fire Giant

Our ongoing Swords and Wizardry sandbox campaign...

Current Player Characters:
Thenus (Ranger)
Wang Du (Monk)
Wolfheir (Viking)
Arg (Half-orc)
Sir Gwain (Paladin) 
Su (Cleric) 
Grop (Kobold Wizard)
Tadashi (samurai)

NPC's
McDagger (thief)
Biggs (fighter)
Koshan (Ogre Magi)
Lothar (Firblog)
Lord Boomish 
Having miraculously defeated a large onslaught of Fire Giants, the beleaguered party began to explore the grand hall. Arg, Lothar of the hill people and Grop examine the massive obsidian alter and the magic circle holding a burning Fire Elemental.  Grop dispelled the Elemental back to it's plane and Lothar read the inscription on the alter.  But the respite is short lived as a massive Fire Giant in flaming armor and carrying a flaming sword burst out from behind another of the curtained alcoves.  The party and the Giant charge each other and a bloody battle takes place.  The Giant chief falls!

Grop detects that the armor, sword and the giant's two rings are magical along with the Fire Giant's obsidian alter.  But as they decide what to do with all this, the Giant's wounds begin to heal and he begins to rise once again.  Sir Gwain draws his Frost Blade and beheads the giant.  Arg takes the flaming sword for himself and the Giant's rings are split among the party, which they wear as crowns or armbands.

As they loot the corpse, yet another Fire Giant poked his head out from another curtained alcove and shouted in shock at the site of his dead companions and Chief.  He rushed back behind the curtain.

Fearing another attack from the Fire Giants and naturally concerned over their weakened state, the party decided it best to try to hide and recover.  They sought shelter behind the curtain of the Giant Chief but only find a dead-end.  A search for secret doors turned up nothing.  
Suddenly, they heard angry shouting coming from the main hall.  Arg peeked out from behind the curtain and  saw that the Fire Giants are arguing among themselves and that the two strongest began to fight each other for the right to be chief.  Letting the fight play out, the party watches as one of the giants is defeated and the other claims chief.

Arg decided to go out and challenge the new Fire Giant chief.  He stepped out with the flaming sword and the rest of the party follows, walking in a uniform line across the hall towards the giants.  Arg challenges the new Chief to a one-on-one duel for the ownership of the Giant's Flaming Sword.  The challenge is accepted and the party and Fire Giants circle around the the two combatants.  Thenus slips Arg a gourd of speed to aid in his combat and the battle in engaged.  Arg matches the Fire Giant blow for blow, both wounding each other but both not giving in.  Suddenly, the flaming sword flies from Arg's grip and is picked up by another giant.  Grop casts a web around that giant with angers the other Giant onlookers who start to push and attack the party.  Sir Gwain tosses his Ice Blade to Arg who caught it and then cut the leg off of the giant and then beheaded the mortally wounded creature!  In a rage the rest of the Fire Giants attack.  In the battle, Wang fell, mangled and dead, but not before he stunned one of the Giants which was quickly dispatched.  Biggs also fell. With everyone near death, the nearly finished party with one last effort dispatched the remaining Fire Giants.  They are once again victorious! 

In no shape for another battle, the party gathers their wounded and exits the fortress and heads back to the hidden village of the Firbolgs....

Monday, September 11, 2017

Session XCI: Fire Giants!

Our ongoing Swords and Wizardry sandbox campaign...

Current Player Characters:
Thenus (Ranger)
Wang Du (Monk)
Centari (Elf)
Wolfheir (Viking)
Arg (Half-orc)
Sir Gwain (Paladin) 
Su (Cleric) 
Gorp (Kobold Wizard)
Tadashi (samurai)

NPC's
McDagger (thief)
Biggs (fighter)
Koshan (Ogre Magi)
Lothar (Firblog)
Lord Boomish

With McDagger invisible and tiny Gorp just inside the giant iron doors to the entrance of the ancient dragon Agatheron's lair, the rest of the party peered in and saw a massive hall almost one thousand feet long.  At the far end were five fire giants.

As they discussed what to do, eventually one of the giants started to head towards the open door.  Hiding on the outside, they prepared to ambush the lone fire giant. When the Giant stuck his head outside the party attacked, but not before he screams out a warning.  The Giant, however, stumbled and the party hacked him to death.

Dragging him out of the doorway, McDagger warned that there are two other giants heading towards the doors.  The party waited for the two Giants outside the doors.  When they stepped out they were also attacked.  McDagger warned that one of the other two Giants at the far end had rushed behind a curtain.

They dispatched the two Giants and enter the grand hall.  Searching behind massive curtains they found a ballista. Lothar rolled it out into the hall as Arg and Wang Du searched the hidden alcoves for more.  They noticeed that Koshan had disappeared by turning himself invisible. 

As they made their way up the hall, a distant alarm sounded and the party prepared for battle with the Giants.

From behind a curtain rushed a number of Fire Giants.  Gorp tried to fry them with a Fireball but the giants only laughed and charged on.  Arg and Wang fired off their ballista as does Lothar damaging two of the giants.  Gorp blastsed them with cold, wounding a number of the Fire Giants.  Finally the two groups engaged in hand to hand combat, Thenus firing damaging arrows to her favored foes.

Meanwhile, a Beholder appeared out of nowhere and shocked the party into fear until they notice that the magical beast started attacking the Fire Giants.

There was one robed Fire Giant that raised a wand by the Beholder turned him into a giant rat.  Koshan, now in his true form as a Ogre Magi, and McDagger attacked the Giant Rat and eventually kill it.

Arg and Wang charged the giants and the fierce battle continued.  Another blast of frost from Koshan defeated some of the Giants and Todashi almost fell to their attacks more than once. Sir Gwain saved him but has trouble fighting the Giants as he keeps dropping his magic sword. 

Suddenly, two Hell Hounds burst from the curtains and attacked McDagger, killing him.

Eventually, the party prevailed over this initial onslaught of Fire Giants. Su raised the dead McDagger who hobbled out of the hall shaken and wounded.

Surely there are more that lie in wait...



Session XC: Knock, Knock, Knocking On The Dragon's Door

Our ongoing Swords and Wizardry sandbox campaign...

Current Player Characters:
Thenus (Ranger)
Wang Du (Monk)
Centari (Elf)
Wolfheir (Viking)
Arg (Half-orc)
Sir Gwain (Paladin) 
Su (Cleric) 
Gorp (Kobold Wizard)
Tadashi (samurai)

NPC's
McDagger (thief)
Biggs (fighter)
Koshan (Magic User)

Having finally exited Hidatha's maze with his enemy Koshan as their new ally, our fearless party once again headed north towards the Grey Mountains and their face-off with Agatheron, the ancient red dragon claiming dominion over the land.

One evening at camp, Thenus shouted out a warning as the ground beneath their feet shook and opened and out crawled a group of Giant Ants.  The party responded and soon dispatched the insects. They resumed their rest and soon also their journey.

Entering the foothills, they saw in the distance the twinkling lights of a small village.  Su knew this village to be Litafjord.  They decided to make for the village and rest there before their final trek into the pass.  Upon entering the village, however, they found it to be mostly deserted save for the Craggy Inn run by the inkeeper and his dwarven wife.

The party learned that everyone had left the village on account of the reemergence of the Dragon and that he had gathered an army of Fire Giants to aid him.  The stubborn Innkeeper had decided to stay along with the village's lord, Lord Boomish.  Thenus recalled having worked for a Lord Boomish a while back in the town of Berkenstok when they recovered the family shield from the Ruins Beneath Xlarthan's Tower (back in session 75). They learned that this Lord is a cousin of the one that they had previously helped.

The next day they met Lord Boomish and he recognized the party as the ones that recovered his family's shield from the ruins beneath Xlarthan's tower.  The shield was used to defeat the dragon with Lord Blackmoore many years ago.  Lord Boomish decided that it is his destiny to face the dragon one last time and will aid the party.

The next day the party, along with Lord Boomish, left the village of Litafjord and head out into the mountains. They soon ran across the corpse of a fire Giant with it's head on a pike. Examining the ground for clues, Thenus discovered a trail leading off the path and into a canyon.  Following the trail, the party soon got the feeling that they were being watched. Arg shouted out their hatred for the Fire Giants and soon after, a Firbolg steped out.  The party befriended the giant hill people and were welcomed into their village.

They learned that the Firbolg's have been attacking their enemies, the Fire Giants, every chance they could.  The Firbolgs will not attack the Giants directly as the Fire Giants are too strong and are using hit and run tactics to weaken their enemies. The Firbolgs decided to help the party and will lead them to the entrance of the Dragon and his army.  One Firbolg, Lothar, volunteered to join the party and help infiltrate the Dragon's lair in search of his missing brother that was captured by the Fire Giants.

Lothar lead the party through the canyons and into the mountains and one evening they are standing before a pair of massive iron doors.  The great doors, outlined with a glowing dragon are discovered to by barred from the other side. Su turned McDagger invisible and uses his magic to unbar the door.  Arg and Wolf pushed the iron door open just a crack and Su and McDagger slip inside. The rest of the party peered in and saw and expansive long hall lit by torches made of trees.  At the far end were a number of Fire Giants....

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