Thursday, February 22, 2018

Game log 10 February 2018: Don't poke the pudding!

Dramatis personae


Xóran, fox-man scout
Kim, thief
Mayhem, short barbarian
Ash, squire
Áttikos, holy warrior of the sun god
Grymalkus, whiny cleric of the war god
Caleb, wizard
Kôštē, cleric of the farming goddess

Quid occurrit


As they walked through the halls, they chatted among themselves as to how to handle the "demon dolls." They thought a shield wall would be best.

They walked back to the room where they had fled from the pudding, and sure enough, they had a chance to put this to work as there was a doomchild there. After the first volley of arrows and fireballs, the little doomchild bum-rushed them.

Mayhem stepped out from behind the shield wall, grabbed the doomchild, and tossed him back to whence it came. Its ass burst open as it landed, making it go boom well away from the heroes. Doomchild handled.

After Kôštē patched up Mayhem's booboo from the doomchild's knife, they pushed onward. After winding through a few rooms and Kim not finding any secret doors in any dead ends, they found themselves looking at five doomchildren.

The opening volley all missed, and sure enough, the doomchildren bum-rushed them again. This time, they all missed, and were now before the shield wall. Ash took a poke (Defensive Attack) from behind the wall, and … kaboom! It hurt, but the shields did take some of the damage.

After some more patching up—Mayhem especially took some bone fragments—they rested for a bit, letting Kôštē get back some oomph. They pushed farther inside, looking for the stairs to lead them down to the Workdesk of Doom or whatever it was, with Kim always looking for hidden doors. After a turn to the north, they ran into six big rats. The rats, however, did little but get a lone tooth on Áttikos, while Mayhem and Caleb (with Acid Jet) each took out a rat and Ash took out two before the not-so-little buggers fled.

So, back to wandering. In one room, which had a rotten drapery in its doorway, six striges flew inside. They must not have been hungry, since they flew back out, squawking.

Mayhem squawked back.

Kim's hunt for hidden doors did pay off not long after this. A big wooden chest was in the corner, but Kim's hand went through the chest as if it were air. Caleb looked at it, and found that the chest was truly three feet to the left of where it seemed to be. Kim figured out how to open the chest, and found 90 copper and 50 silver inside. Grymalkus told her not to take the loot. "It's a tomb! It's burial treasure! We're not grave robbers!"

Mayhem, however, said, "Yeah, we are."

After taking the loot, they wound through even more twists and turns, then stopped at a door. Kim listened at the door, and heard a gurgle behind it. After some chatter, she kicked open the door, and behind it was a grey pudding, much like the one they had seen before.

Mayhem and Xóran wanted no part of this. "Stay away from dookie!" yelled Mayhem. Xóran thought the "whelp" (Grymalkus) should handle this if he wanted to fight it, and ate some snake jerky. As always, Kôštē hung back with them, both because she didn't think fighting the pudding was worth it, and because she wanted to be ready if the pudding hurt someone.

The pudding could withstand their blows, but had a hard time landing blows itself. Caleb's Create Steam on the pudding did slowly sap it of some health, but he ducked back after a few spells. Ash did the most harm, leading Mayhem, while digging in his pack to make a Molotov cocktail, to yell, "Mom, he's poking the pudding!"

At last, however, the pudding landed a blow on Attikos, who fell right away. Caleb scorched it with Acid Jet, but the pudding moved onto Attikos and at that time, Xóran and Mayhem knew they had to help out. They helped Ash wail on it, while Caleb, again trying to hit it with Acid Jet, lost his footing, and stumbled past it trying to keep standing and wound up scorched in his own Create Steam. The pudding smacked Kim, who somehow stayed standing, but had to stagger back a few yards. Xóran tried to grab Attikos from under the pudding but couldn't win a test of strength with the pudding. It was looking bad, and then …

The pudding blinked out.

Stunned from their sudden luck, they healed up, and luckily the striges, which flew past again, weren't hungry.

Res aliae


Did I give them three points or four points? Well, to tell the truth, in all this time since the session I kinda lost track myself. But, considering that I'm the game master and can kill characters for no good reason, you gotta ask yourself one question: "Did he give three points or four?" Well, how many, punk?

The striges kept getting good reactions to the party, being as that they weren't in their lair room. I interpreted that as having eaten. No, I'm not trying to be kind; they could have taken them out easily.

The fight with the pudding was one that only happened the way it happened because folks were playing more than one character. (Well, other than Steph playing Mayhem only.) I'm pretty sure Roman would have had Xóran jump into the fight earlier had he only been playing Xóran, as doing nothing is boring.

Anyways, as Kim had made her Hearing roll and, as the pudding wasn't trying to be quiet, she heard something. As the murderhoboes weren't trying to be quiet, it heard them, and tried to time its coming to the material world with them showing up, but, having only IQ 4 (which is brilliant among slimes, remember), timed it wrong as the gang talked about goodness knows what before opening the door. So it wasn't quite as deadly as it could have been, seeing as that everyone always got defense rolls and, with skill 14 to strike, it wasn't making any Deceptive Attacks. It kept taking damage, but Damage Reduction and high

I do now see Kromm’s comment about how the grey pudding could have taken Attikos with it to the astral plane (I was thinking it had to kill him first), but Joe wasn’t there and so Roman was running Attikos, so I wouldn’t have pulled that on someone not there. But now it’s out there for next time, so don't put missing players' characters in the way of grey puddings. Or your own, for that matter.

I might write an easy overview of GURPS combat for my players, especially Steph, who is having trouble with the whole second-by-second nature. She wasn't happy about taking range penalties at 10 yards, as Mayhem hadn't aimed.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Game log 14 January 2018: Idols need to redecorate

Dramatis personae


Kim, thief (John)
Ash, squire (John)
Xóran, fox-man scout (Roman)
Grymálkus, war cleric (Roman)
Caleb, wizard (Roman)
Mayhem, barbarian (NPC under John)
Áttikos, holy warrior (NPC under Roman)
Kôštē, cleric (NPC)

Quid occurrit


As they moved past the giant toads, they heard a skittering of claws down the hallway they had just left. Regardless, they kept going down the hallway, and, after some twists and turns, came to another room. This one had a stone chair with no back (though it still had slits for wooden slats for one), with a jade idol on it.

Upon seeing this, Grymálkus said, “We are here to clear the tomb, not raid it. Touch no valuables until all the monsters are destroyed, lest the wrath of Punšástor be upon you."

Everyone else rolled his or her eyes.

A loud, Wizard-of-Oz-behind-the-curtain-like voice came from the idol: "Bring me the workdesk from the scriptorium, and I shall ward your necks."

Grymálkus, without any bidding from or chatter among the others, said the group would bring it the idol. Everyone else groaned.

The idol spoke again: "The penalty for breaking your word is body-wracking pain of the gods."

This seemed like fun to no one, but now that they had chosen to bring the workdesk to the idol, they set out to find it, taking the only other way out of the room.

After walking down the hallway for some time, Kim saw that the wall on the right side was odd. After a few pushes, the wall opened. They walked down the hallway beyond the door, which ran alongside the hallway in which they had been, until it slowly sloped downwards.

The hallway opened into a room, and, rather than keep walking through the other side of the room, they chose to turn and walk a bit outside. After some wandering through the tightly-packed rooms (the rooms before had long hallways between them), they found themselves in a room whose only way inside was the door through which they had came.

In the room were some small holes, and scratch marks about knee-high on the walls. Xóran took a sniff, and found that he did not know the smells in the room or in the holes. So there they chose to make camp. In the middle of the night (or whenever it was), Xóran heard some odd bumping and buzzing on the door. He woke the others and watched the door, but it did not open.

The next day they opened the door and twisted through a few rooms, then went into a room with two small children, albeit with wide eyes and squashed mugs. Upon seeing the murderhoboes, the doomchildren rushed them with knives.

The blows missed Kim and Xóran, but when Xóran slashed one with his sword, it blew up, with its sharp bone shards flying at everyone, including the other doomchild, which also blew up and had its bone shards cut the group; Kim and Xóran also got singed a bit.

The gang took a short time to heal each other, though Grymálkus's Minor Healing spell on Kôštē fizzled, leaving their good healer in pain from bone shards. Kim took the cheap knives of the doomchildren.

After healing up, they set forth again, and found themselves at a door. Kim heard nothing, though Xóran smelled carbon. As two doomchildren had blown up not long ago, they thought nothing of it, and opened the door.

Behind the door was a room with no other doors or ways out, and two doomchildren.

Kim shut the door again. The gang set itself up near the door, and sure enough, they could hear the doomchildren walk up to the door and pull the handle.

What happened was much the same as the last time they saw doomchildren: the demons blew up, and the bone shards wounded the group. Both Kôštē and Kim fell from their wounds, but this time,Grymálkus's Minor Healing spell went off and healed Kôštē. She was able to heal everyone else, but for all of them, she said that later healing wouldn't work as well. Caleb spent the time binding Kôštē's wounds as well, to not much help.

They left the room, and walked over to another nearby room. After hearing and smelling nothing beyond the door, they opened it, and saw an empty room. Kim and Caleb went into the room to look for traps, and found none, though in the far corner each could hear a loud whisper: "I was once a dwarf like you but I wandered too deep in these halls!” They could find no spring from which this whisper came, but, as it called them each a "dwarf," they knew it lacked eyes.

Rather than keep going onward, they chose to backtrack. Stumbling back towards the room where they spent the night, they came upon two big centipedes. The gang made quick work of them, but the din of fighting brought a grey goo, flickering in and out of the world.

Xóran and Kim peppered the pudding with arrows and Caleb smacked it with a Fireball, but all passed through it. So the gang fled. The pudding kept up for a bit, but stopped to become solid and eat the doomchild knives, which Kim dropped.

Res aliae


Three points. Maybe a little high, though at this point, I'd rather have characters that can handle things. I'm starting to appreciate a higher starting total, though 250 is still too rich for my blood; 150 might be best. In spite of the array of characters, I'm one for one character a person, though folks seem to be able to pull this off. Roman argues with himself; Xóran doesn't like Grymálkus.

The players are starting to hoard points for bigger-ticket powers. Mayhem and Caleb are nearing 250 points, so it’s time to bring their supporting attributes in line with the big boys.

I really should have had the pudding drop on them, but I didn’t think of it until I had already said they could see it. Of course, that’s a TPK, so maybe I shouldn’t have done that, or stuck with a black pudding. Kudos to John for thinking out of the original Dungeon Masters Guide and dropping the knives to throw off the pudding. It failed its IQ check to not stop and eat.

I've been fiddling with a new way of handling dynamics in the dungeon. Instead of saying there are 8 doomchildren in a room when you get there, I say this is the lair of 8 doomchildren and when they get there, there will be something like 2d-4. If it's less than 1, they're all out wandering (and my wandering monster tables have rooms of origin). If it's a lone monster, it's there on a 4 or less on 1d.

I've also taken to rolling for wandering monsters each turn, which I define about 10 minutes, moving through rooms at turn at a time. They show up on a 6 or less on 3d, with a 7 a clue if moving.

I’m off on the 28th for a 12-year-old’s birthday party. My daughter picked Snapology, which is nerdy enough and lets her play with Legos and robotics (a love of hers). Roman will run Rifts while I’m out.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Game logs for 12/3 and 12/31: Oooh, that smell

Dramatis personae


Kim, thief (John)
Ash, squire (John)
Xóran, fox-man scout (Roman)
Grymálkus, war cleric (Roman, 12/31 only)
Caleb, wizard (Roman)
Mayhem, barbarian (12/3 NPC, 12/31 Steph)
Áttikos, holy warrior (Joe)
Kôštē, cleric (NPC)
Villûdē, guide (NPC, 12/3 only)

Quid occurrit


The next day, they set forth. In the morning, they saw the black cloud of the evil turkeys far in the sky, but nothing bothered their trek. They set up camp for the night, and the night was quiet. Some of them munched on snake meat as the moon came into the clear sky.

The next morning? Not so quiet or clear.

The killer turkeys showed up not long after the gang set forth. They kept to the air, and swooped in and out. In spite of the hurt the turkeys did, they didn’t have too much trouble with them, mostly from Caleb cooking them in midair.

That night, they stayed in the village of Pranrés, in the home of Gummátōr, the daughter of the chief of the Dragon Claw Clan. Xóran looked for a jeweler, but found none. The morning after telling their tales of blondes and turkeys, found the ground under where their horses were sleeping had dropped, and their horses were in a hole. Caleb Levitated them out in about a half-hour, and they set forth for town, as they understood that they could reach Mīstássun by dusk if they didn’t stop. The only choice was which bridge they took—north or south.

They took the north. Near the north bridge, Xóran’s nose smelled something bad. Everyone took a guess as to what he smelled.

Xóran thought, with some buffs, he could take a troll. So he told Caleb to cast Flaming Weapon on his swords and on Mayhem’s greataxe. And so, he went up to the bridge.

And, after a second, Mayhem and Ash pulled his unconscious body away so they could bolt for the south bridge with Xóran on a horse.

They made it back to town, healed up Xóran, and tallied up their riches. They hung around for a week, drinking at the Pantry and other taverns, staying out of the rain. Kim heard tales about riches in the Battlefield of Ālkólanon in the Áos Hills to the northwest, west of the Dragon Claw Clan’s wintering grounds. Ash heard tales about riches in a temple in the Eldalîvā Woods to the southeast. Mayhem heard about riches in a dwarf tomb in the Védē Hills to the southwest. Indeed, through loose chatter and that he had been in the Dumenrôn Swamp, he gathered that the tomb was a few miles to the west of the swamp, and only a few miles into the hills. Caleb checked a few old books, and found that the dwarves buried a king in that tomb with Blôtos’s Cloak, which disguised its wearer with an illusion of another fellow.

So, after seven nights, they chose to set forth the next day for the Védē Hills, without Villûdē, as they were not going into the swamp, but with Grymálkus, a drunken cleric of the war god Punšástōr, and Áttikos, a quiet holy warrior of the sun god Saundīvós. It was a slow but steady three-day trek, as it was mostly through civilized lands, though Áttikos wasn’t big enough to bear all his armor.

Mayhem had no trouble finding the opening to the dungeon, which was a worked circlet of metal that he turned to show the door. While he pushed on it, Áttikos prayed to Saundīvós, who told him to beware his neck. What that meant, he didn’t know.

Anyways, they went down the stairs, and found themselves in a big eight-sided room. There were seven hallways out, and Xóran led the gang down each one until it forked, scratched the wall to mark where they had been, then brought them back to the big room to try the next one. One led to a small room that gave Mayhem and Kim a nasty zap; Caleb undid the trap while Kôštē and Grymálkus healed them.

After checking out each hallway, they went back to that small room to which two hallways had led, and went out its third way out. After hitting a fork and taking it, they stumbled into a small room with two other ways out and 15 goblins.

Xóran stunned some goblins with a roar, and the rest took off to the south after watching Mayhem and Ash taking down one of their stunned fellows. As Xóran, Kim, Mayhem, and Ash killed the stunned goblins, Grymálkus and Áttikos heard a snort behind them. They turned and saw a big boar watching them. After a second, Grymálkus stepped towards the boar, which turned and ran.

After the short fight, the everyone talked about what had happened. Xóran, hearing the deeds of the boar, said, “Someone knows we’re here.” However, as the boar had ran too fast, he couldn’t take a shot at it.

So they started looking around again. First they went to the north and made it to a fork which they had marked earlier. Instead of taking the other hallway from the fork, they instead went back to the room where they had fought the goblins and took the hallway to the south. After a few feet that hall forked, so they went east, where they had heard the goblins scamper.

Xóran easily picked up their smell, and they followed it past a few other hallways, one of which wrankled Xóran’s fox nose. After a few minutes, they reached a room with four other ways out, besides the hallway to the west through which they had come in: two hallways to the north, one to the south, and a hole to the east that was in the top of the wall. They climbed into the hole and crawled a bit, then came to the outside. Xóran popped his head out the hole, and saw the goblins, catching their breath. He greeted them with a roar. It didn't stun any of them, but they fled.

So, where to next? Mayhem had an idea: “Let’s go see where it smells bad!” Only murderhoboes. So they went back down the hallway and took the branch to the south where Xóran had smelled the bad smell, and saw two toads as big as horses in the room. Behind them was a small wooden chest. Mayhem called them “Frogs that smell like butt!,” and someone else said, “Let’s hop to it!”

The toads didn't do much, and Kim easily slipped past them. She didn't see a trap on the chest, but didn't trust it after the magically-trapped room, so she called for Caleb. Mayhem croaked at the toads, and they croaked back at him, so Caleb walked past them, and turned off the trap. In it was a measly 60 copper farthings.

There was one other way out of the room, to the west, and they took it.

Res aliae


We broke there. Two character points for the first session, four for the second. Five for Mayhem for the second, since croaking at the toads was cool as well as a little messed up. Obviously, since Joe didn't make it on 12/3, we didn't have the two new characters link up after all.

This dungeon was a little less polished since I had three such I was making, and I didn't know which one they'd pick. However, this is the one for which my wife and daughters made the maps, so I put it out as the one about which Mayhem heard on his critical success on Carousing.

There was wild speculation about what the boar was doing. Roman thinks it's someone's familiar. As the computer said in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, "I won't tell, that would be cheating."

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Happy belated Christmas!

I have a game log from the 3rd that I need to put up here. I haven't finished it since on the 17th we played Roman's D&D Midnight game (I think we fought something or another two or three times). But, a Christmas-y legend from my own game world:

In the woods dwelled Otórno and Séler, brother and sister. One day, Séler went out to dig for groundwater. In her haste, she dug fast and sloppy, and broke the roots of an old tree. The roots turned into snakes, and came at Séler. She screamed and ran to her brother for help.

Otórno saw the snakes coming, and saw that there were too many of them. “The ground is cursed! If we slay them, more will come. We must flee.” And so the two siblings took to the road.

On the road, they spied three friends of theirs. One of them, Fíndo, came up to them and asked them to halt. The siblings did so, and greeted their friends with open arms. However, the three friends drew their blades, and tried to kill the siblings, but Otórno drew his sword and killed them.

That night, the two stayed in an old barn. Otórno, tired from his fight, went to sleep fast, but Séler stayed up. At midnight, a human came to the barn, bleeding from wounds. Séler had never met a human before, and she took him to the loft, away from her sleeping brother, and dressed his wounds. He called himself Allútto, and Séler was smitten with him.

The next day, Otórno went to hunt and his sister stayed behind, not telling her brother of the human in the loft. Séler and Allútto made love, but Séler said her brother would never think of a human being the lover of any elf maiden, much less his sister. So the two hatched a plan.

When Otórno came back, he saw that his sister was sick. “How can I heal you, o Séler?” he asked.

“O brother, my sickness is great. With the claw of the brown bear, the poison of the steppe spider, and the whisker of a tiger, I can brew a drought that will heal my woes.”

Although he knew getting these things would be plightful, Otórno set out that night to do that. He stalked a brown bear to her den, but the bear saw him first. Otórno said a prayer before he struck. “O bear, I do not wish to kill you, but I need your claw to save my sister from an illness.”

Instead of striking, the bear spoke. “O Otórno, there is no need to fear or harm! One of my claws was hurt when I was hunting for my cubs. Please, come to me and take out the hurtful claw, and you may keep it.” So the bear held forth her paw, and Otórno went to her, and pulled out the loose claw.

“Thank you for healing my woe, Otórno. If you should need my help, call for me.” And so the bear bade Otórno on his way.

Otórno then went to the edge of the woods to look for a steppe spider. There he saw the web of one, he snuck up to it. However, the spider felt the ground from his footsteps, and spoke. “O elf, why do you come to me with your hand raised to strike?”

Otórno stepped back, amazed, but said, “O spider, I do not wish to harm you, but my sister is ill, and she needs a drought made from your poison to heal her.”

The spider cackled a high tweet. “O elf, such as an odd thing to put in a draught! But grab an acorn and take off the top, and let me fill it with my venom for you.” And so the spider filled the acorn, and Otórno took the acorn. “Thank you for sparing my life! Feel free to ask for help at a later time, elf.” Otórno took his acorn, hollowed out the nut, and put both halves together for safekeeping.

Otórno then went northeast, to the great steppe. He saw a tiger, and this time, he walked up to her, slowly and with hands open before him. “O tiger, I seek a boon from you. My sister is ill, and needs one of your whiskers to brew the draught to save her life. Would you let me have one of your whiskers to save her?”

The tiger looked at him, and nodded. “There is a whisker on the right side of my mug that has an infection. Please pluck it to let the pock drain, and you may keep it for your sister.” Otórno nodded, and walked up to the tiger and plucked the ailing whisker. He stepped back, holding the whisker.

The tiger pushed her paw to a rock. “Go now, elf, and save your sister. I thank you for easing my hurt, and will gladly help you if you need it. Take this rock, and blow into it, for it is hollow. I shall come to your side to help you when I hear the call.”

Otórno raced back to the barn, only to find his sister and Allútto making love. The two grabbed the stunned elf. “How did you live, Otórno?” asked Séler. “Any one of those beasts should have killed you.” She and Allútto took away Otórno's sword, and bound him to an old chair with spider silk.

However, they left the rock on the ground. As the two lovers lifted the sword to kill Otórno, Otórno leaned over and the chair fell to the ground. He got his mouth to the rock and blew into it. The rock made a wretched din, shocking Séler and Allútto long enough for the tiger, the spider, and the bear to rush into the barn. The spider stung Allútto, the tiger mauled him to death, and the bear hit the back of the chair with her paw, breaking it. Allútto in death turned into a small, skinny doppelgänger, his true shape.

Otórno, now free, picked up his sword and went to his frightened sister. “O brother, I did not know! How can I show my love for you?”

Otórno pointed to a barrel in the corner and said, “Cry into this. When it is full, prick your finger and mix your blood into it. If you do so, I shall spare your life.” Séler leaned over the barrel and wept for hours. When the barrel was full, she pushed her finger onto the tip of Otórno's sword, and let her blood mix with the tears. With that, Otórno left, thinking his sister still loved him. But she did not, as she was upset that Otórno slew her lover, and swore she would get back at him.

Otórno, not knowing that his sister's ruefulness was a sham, set out on the road again. When he came to the edge of the woods, he heard the neigh of a reindeer from above. No sooner could he see what made the din than a sleigh came down and knocked him down.

When he awoke, an orange-haired elf maiden was wiping his brow. He saw he was in an odd house with other elves. The elf maiden, whose name was Háryē, told him that he could not leave, as Tyáliu, an evil wizard, had nabbed him. Tyáliu made odd gadgets with the magic of the elves, and every year on the first day of winter Tyáliu would take these gadgets, then come back without them. He rode a magic sleigh that nine smart reindeer pulled, with the one in the lead having a glowing red nose. Otórno blew his rock horn, but no beasts came, as he was too far away.

Otórno set to work making gadgets, and grew to love Háryē. After a few years, the two hatched a plan to flee Tyáliu. One night, when Tyáliu was asleep, the two stole his magic sleigh and one of the reindeer to pull it.

They set down in the lands of Háryē's father, who was an elf king, and the two wed. Séler heard of the king's new son-in-law, and put on a guise of an old woman. After the wedding, she gave the newlyweds a bone as a wedding gift, and said they should put it in their bed for good luck. When they did so and went to sleep, the bone pricked the skin of Otórno, and he died from the poison Séler had put on the bone.

Háryē wept, then thought of Otórno's rock horn. She blew it, and soon came the bear, the spider, and the tiger. The bear and the tiger licked Otórno's mug, and the spider wove a web to keep him warm. Otórno awoke, and harkened for the guards to get the old woman.

Once the old woman was there, Otórno pulled off her cloak and found that she was his sister, Séler. He drew his sword and ran his sister through, and snakes spilled out of her dead body.

Oh, and Tyáliu, the Christmas element. Elves say Tyáliu is a human wizard who enslaves elves. Fat, old, and bearded, he rides a sleigh that, when his team of nine reindeer pulls it, flies and can bear a seemingly limitless load. The reindeer have IQ 8, Flight, Enhanced Move 4; the lead one lets out Continual Light from his red nose. Tyáliu has an Altered Time Sense field that he can extend to his reindeer. He keeps his elf slaves in his workshop in the cold north where they make on odd gadgets, including small golems, with their elf magic throughout their waking hours. On each winter solstice, he piles all these gadgets into his sleigh and leaves, coming back the next day with no gadgets. No one knows where he goes, but tales say he brings the gadgets to small beings of another plane. Elf parents talk about Tyáliu to scare their children, and folks say that Tyáliu has nabbed any elf who has been away for many years.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Game log 19 November 2017: The dead need to stay that way

Dramatis personae


Ash, a squire (John)
Xóran, a fox-man scout (Roman)
Kim, a thief (John)
Mayhem, a short barbarian (Steph)
Caleb, a yellow-robe wizard (Joe)
Kôštē, a cleric (GMPC)
Villûdē, a guide (NPC)

Quid occurrit


First up, they heal themselves after the fight against the mummy and skeletons. Ash takes the broadsword from the skeleton, while Xóran takes the other from the mummy.

Then they head south. Right away, they find themselves in a room with many skeletons lying in beds, which Caleb incinerates with a Blast Ball. Caleb stars in the next room to the south of that one, spotting some Evil Runes, casting Levitate on himself to float over them, then casting Explode on the floor to make the jump over them easy enough for everyone to do it.

After a few twists and turns, they find themselves in a smithy, with rusty swords. Kim is able to find a flagstone in the floor on the western wall, and, after letting everyone rest again, pulls it up, opening a door on that wall.

They go through the door and into a garden of mushrooms. Xóran tosses a meal of rations (he never said what, but one figures some of the monster meat they’ve been keeping) at the mushrooms, which do nothing. The mushrooms have grown a little bigger than a fist, with a flat top and a rusty hue. Caleb has seen them before in one of his books and knows that they can raise one’s heart rate enough if in a potion, but has trouble harvesting. The only way out is a hallway to the south. Kim, after covering her face and nose, takes a moment to listen down the hall, but hears nothing.

Kim and Xóran lead the gang into it and take a turn, and see it lined with pretty paintings. Xóran, Kôštē and Villûdē stare at one to the north that is of a sage, while Kim stares agape at one of a wizard on the south wall. As Caleb casts Create Fire on the painting of the sage to break their gaze, a woman in a pink dress walks into the edge of their light.

Ash grabs a sack and puts it over Kim’s head as the woman walks towards them. In accented Mannish, she tells them to put away their weapons. Xóran, needless to say, nocks and arrow and fires; the woman dodges. “Please save your arrows for later, I could use them,” she tells them. Caleb lobs an Explosive Fireball at her, but she also dodges that’s blast and swiftly moves towards them.

Something is amiss with this woman. Whatever it is, Xóran drops his bow and draws his swords. Kim pulls off her makeshift mask and she turns, while Mayhem, who has started to move towards the woman, spots a fetching painting and stares at it. Everyone else moves to fight, and the woman wiggles her fingers.

Uh-oh.

Xóran howls, which doesn’t bother the woman in the slightest. Ash moves up to strike, but misses, as likewise does Caleb. Luckily, Caleb also missed Ash. The woman swats Ash with her staff, which Ash parries. While everyone still moves to fight, Ash takes another swing at the woman, and this time hits her. It doesn’t do as much damage as he would have though, however—something is amiss with this sword!

Villûdē slaps Mayhem, and Caleb casts Flaming Weapon on Mayhem’s axe. The blonde woman in the pink dress suddenly looks less cute to Xóran and Ash after she waves her hand, with Xóran stunned. Forever after will he not trust blonde human women. Kim takes a shot at the woman and misses, and luckily also misses Xóran. Mayhem rushes forward to strike, but breaks Caleb’s spell as he does so.

Ash knows something is amiss in spite of this woman’s evil eye, and takes another swing. However, her brace of her staff to his blow makes him drop his sword. No! Not his beloved new sword! The woman starts to back off, and the gang moves to press her. Mayhem makes a wild swing and misses, and Caleb misses with a Fireball. Ash grabs his sword as the woman wiggled her fingers.

Xóran snaps awake to see that the gang had moved a bit down the hallway. The woman parries Mayhem’s swing, then tries to make a swing at Ash who then parries. Things are like this for a few seconds—Mayhem and Ash pressing the woman back, while she keeps parrying. Kim takes a couple of shots in there, while Xóran sees a picture on the wall of the blonde woman—the one of which the whisper in his ear spoke. Unluckily, Xóran again stares at it like an idiot. Caleb moves forward with the Continual Light torch, and yells at the others to keep the woman in the light.

The woman keeps stepping back, and Mayhem drops his axe and grabs some rope. As the rest slink back, he tries to snare the woman with his rope, but misses. Ash stabs the picture of the blonde woman with the sword, snapping Xóran awake again. Caleb gets the woman with a small fireball, who backs off. Xóran awakes, and reaches behind the picture and takes the emeralds, and gives one to each of the others, keeping the rest. They turn and leave the dungeon, and make sure to slash the paintings as they do so.

They relaxed outside, as the evil turkeys were asleep.

Res aliae


Roman’s nephew Joe played Caleb and Chris’s cousin Steph played Mayhem. Ten character points for the last two sessions.

The players know what’s amiss with the blonde woman—she’s a lich—but the characters don’t.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Game log 5 November 2017: Inside the tomb of deadly deathful death

Dramatis personae


Ash, squire
Kim, thief
Xórin, fox-man scout
Caleb, wizard
Mayhem, short barbarian
Kôštē, cleric
Villûdē, guide who held the horses

Quid occurrit


They quickly got the horses inside and shut the door, lest the evil turkeys kill the horses. From there, they started down the stairs. Kim went first, and when she stepped on a flagstone at the bottom, a strange music played. Loudly.

Kim was also blind, so Caleb told everyone else to jump off the stairs lest they step on it and go blind too. They took stock of the room, and found they were in the middle of a good-sized room. Instead of normal corners, the walls went slantwise, making an irregular octagon. There were four ways out: one to their west, one to their south, and two to their east. Kim’s sight came back after a few minutes, so they started west.

After a short flight of stairs down, they found themselves in a room with scorch marks. There had been a four-poster bed, but only some of the posts were left, the rest gone, likely having gone up in flames. On the south wall were scorched bookshelves, with no hint of the books that had been on them.

They heard a rustling in the wreck of the bed. Ash went to check it out, and a carpet viper struck at him. It missed his legs, and Ash cut off its head. Caleb tried to get some poison out of its fangs but couldn’t, while Mayhem took its body for later eating.

On the south end of the room, Kim saw that there was a door in the southwest corner. Caleb came near and felt its magic aura, but nobody could find a keyhole or other way of triggering it. Caleb thought it had a command word, but, being Caleb, blasted it with an Acid Jet. Nothing. Kim yelled out, “Open sezme!” but nothing happened other than Kim sounding dumb.

They walked back to first room, and found there was a squad of six skeletons. It was a short fight, with Xórin falling down and trying to kick a skeleton while on the ground but missing, Kim dropping her sword, and Caleb, after lobbing a Fireball, trying a new idea: Flaming Weapon on Kim’s dagger. Kim didn’t hit, however, and wound up picking up her sword. While she did so, she saw the words “Undying fame” on one of the skeletons’ blades. As she did so, five big centipedes came, but after Xórin killed two with his two strikes, the others fled.

They sat down for a rest. However, after only a few minutes, four skeletons came from the northern-most of the two eastern hallways. Caleb mostly held his torch with Continual Light, not wanting to waste his energy, while the gang quickly took care of the skeletons, with only Kim getting hurt. From there, they rested to let Caleb be at full strength, and then went down the south hallway. It did nothing but curl around and come back to the room with the stairs as the hallway in the southern of the two east wall hallways.

Though they thought that “undying fame” might open the door in the scorched room, they chose to go down the one hallway they hadn’t checked out—the northern one on the east wall. After a few turns, they came to a room, with eleven shady beings—skeletons, with one in bandages.

They held the breech as the hallway became room lest the skeletons put them in the middle, and two skeletons, one with a broadsword (the others had shortswords), came up to strike Kim and Xórin. After some misses, Ash and Mayhem moved to the sides, and Caleb, seeing the bandages on the one, started casting Flaming Weapon on Ash’s sword. It was a good move, as more skeletons came up to fight, the one with the bandages came into full sight—a mummy. This frightened Kim into doing nothing.

The gang held its ground, and the mummy moved up to strike Xórin after he felled a skeleton. Caleb cast Flaming Weapon on Xórin’s swords, and Ash tried to hit the mummy. Instead, he dropped his sword. A skeleton hit Mayhem, but he held his cool, and the mummy, trying to end Xórin’s life, dropped his sword. Xórin, for his blow, hit the mummy, but couldn’t get through the mummy’s armor, Caleb started casting Flaming Weapon on Xórin’s other sword. Kôštē, the cleric, moved up to Kim. Mayhem took out a skeleton, while Ash reached to grab his sword.

The mummy lunged for the knight in shining armor and tried to bite Ash. Ash’s armor stopped him, but he lost his grip on his shield. The cleric moved Kim out of the way while Ash tried to do the same to the mummy, but couldn’t. Mayhem’s axe nicked Mayhem’s leg. Caleb got off Flaming Weapon, lighting up Xórin’s second sword.

And the mishaps kept going, with a skeleton, trying to hit Ash, hitting the mummy in the back. The mummy, realizing that it couldn’t get through Ash’s armor, tried to bite Ash’s face, but missed. It was near enough that its spit would have dripped onto Ash’s face if it still were alive and had spit. Xórin, seeing the opening, stepped behind the mummy and put both hit swords into its back. The mummy dropped, and a voice came into Xórin’s head, saying, “Thank you. Your reward is behind the painting of the blonde woman in the hall.” Xórin, of course, had no idea what that meant.

Kim, after the cleric’s jostling, snapped back to the world. Ash got his sword and shield ready, and Kôštē, seeing him hurt, moved up to Xórin. The skeletons let out a flurry of blows, but only hurt Mayhem, who dropped his axe trying to ward off the blow. Mayhem gritted his teeth and punched the skeleton, doing nothing to it. Kim got back into the fight, Ash smacked a skeleton, and Xórin tried to take out a skeleton, not bothering to defend. He missed, and Kôštē got up to Xórin cast Major Healing on him. This was good, as a skeleton hit Xórin right after that.

Xórin again went all out, ignoring the pain, and tried to take out a skeleton, but dropped his sword. Mayhem grabbed his axe, while Kôštē cast Minor Healing on Xórin. Xórin came back and took out a skeleton, while Kim’s sword broke. Mayhem and Ash both hit but couldn’t take down skeletons. A skeleton stepped up and smacked Xórin, while another hurt Kim to where she was dizzy and seeing stars. She staggered, but stayed up.

Mayhem took down a skeleton, while Caleb and Kôštē handled healing—Caleb gave Xórin a Minor Healing potion while Kôštē cast Major Healing on Kim. Mayhem and Ash took down the last two.

Res aliae


Roman’s nephew Joseph was supposed to join us with a new character (a holy warrior), but slept in. Roman, who was supposed to bring a new character (a war cleric), instead ran Caleb, while I handled Mayhem. With the NPCs, I often let the players direct what they do in a fight as much as reasonable. I don’t want to be handling NPCs and leaving the players on the sidelines.

So, how do you handle gaming after your gaming buddy of 15 years died? Surprisingly quickly. As a result of being in the nursing home, our games went truly slowly. We had to deal with Chris’s meal times and sometimes wound dressings, so it took awhile to even start games. One of the front desk staff was a busybody and at one point made us move for no good reason (an administrator who saw it told us as much), there were the aging zombies who had never seen a roleplaying game, and the usual friendly chatter on top of all that. I wouldn’t have traded those last months of Chris gaming for a fast game, but I did like things flowing fast again.

For some reason, I had critical successes on parries become automatic hits against the original attacker. While this wasn’t according to Hoyle (and I had to explain that phrase to Roman for some reason during the game, incidentally; obviously, Roman’s father didn’t have Hoyle’s book of card games in his house!), it did speed things up a bit since the parry often took down a skeleton. No, I shan’t do it again, as it’s a bit much; I wasn’t thinking.

Two other matters for the players here, that happened at the end but I didn’t resolve as we were leaving:

  • Everyone will lose FP according to their encumbrance level. Yes, this means the cleric and Caleb will lose 2 FP, which will make everyone rest even more.
  • Caleb can see that both the mummy’s and the skeleton’s broadsword are magical. No, he doesn’t have Analyze Magic so he can’t be more specific.

A last note on Mayhem: running him made me realize just how well optimized Chris made him. Chris originally made him many years ago, for GURPS Third Edition. We updated him to GURPS Fourth Edition and tweaked things to fit the point level, which at first weakened him. But, now, the guy swings his SM -1 greataxe and parries as, for him, it isn’t unbalanced, and he’s at no encumbrance (ST 15, and armor sized for SM -1). He doesn’t have the reach a bigger barbarian would have, but he’s a tough little bugger.

Two days after the session, Roman and I went to Chris’s funeral. Roman, who also went to the visitation (I had to get stuff done at work before the funeral, and am not one for open caskets), put one of his minis in the casket with Chris, and I got to be a pallbearer at the cemetery. At the funeral, we may have picked up another player. Life works in strange ways.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Chris Lutgen, 7/2/1956-11/1/2017

I first met Chris at Phoenix Games on West Lake Street in Minneapolis. The shop was the descendant of the fabled Little Tin Soldier that Dave Arneson and so many of the original Blackmoor frequented. It's not there anymore, it being only a storefront now in Minnetonka or some other 'burb to the west, after the owner, a fellow named Neil who owned the original Phoenix Games out in Burnsville and told me that when he first gamed with Arneson, he didn't get what the hell was going on, chose to move rather than pay for the upcoming street repairs in 2008.

Anyways, back to the summer of 2002. My wife worked second shift from Tuesday to Saturday in those days, and we had no kids. I hadn't yet tried to go back to college, though I knew my bachelor's wasn't getting me jobs. I had loads of free time in the evenings, and I kept trying to get into new gaming groups. So one Saturday, I wandered down to Phoenix where, like so many American gaming stores, folks showed up to game. It was in the middle of the D20 boom, so D&D was the name of the game, which I had picked back up again a year before after ditching it for GURPS all the time. Being a purist didn't help get into groups.

That afternoon, I saw there was a game getting ready, and one of the players was a guy named Tommy whom I knew casually. Thus, I asked Dan, the bespectacled GM about my age (I was in my late twenties), if I could get in. Sure, second level, starts in about an hour or so. I told him I had a human monk I had played the year before and was second level back at my apartment, and I'd go get it. (In those days, I lived on West Franklin Avenue, eight blocks north. It was a short bike ride home and back, or maybe I walked. I don't remember and don't care.) And so I did, bringing along Ichanko, my monk.

When I got there, I played D&D. I remember Tommy getting pissed and storming off after failing a saving throw to dodge a spear that came out of the ground, even after it was established that going over the middle of the cavern meant you had to make a DC 15 Reflex save or take a spear to your balls. I remember a guy who was playing the halfling boatman who liked "shinies." I remember Lea, a woman about ten years older than I playing a ranger, and Mike, a mustachioed man about the same age as Lea and was often befuddled about whatever character he was playing. There was a big guy, Travis, and one other fellow whose name I no longer remember who left when Tommy left; the two were friends IIRC. Shawn, I think that's his name. And there was a pudgy middle-aged fellow with glasses, a wispy mustache and thin hair who brought the minis. He played Lars, a fighter/cleric of Kord.

The next week, the pudgy middle-aged fellow with the minis ran a game, and I played a necromancer. He ran one of the Slave Lords adventures. A few weeks later, we ran down a hallway and some hands grabbed at my necromancer's pouches and got his spell component pouch, which brought an in-character tirade that brought the store to the floor laughing. I got 50 XP for roleplaying, and have been gaming with that DM, Chris Lutgen, ever since. I'll keep from all the tales for this post, but there was chatting, gaming, a Roger Waters concert, eating out, all the things friends do.

About mid-February of this year, we had a GURPS Dungeon Fantasy game in Chris's apartment. Chris was playing Caleb and Mayhem; Caleb he took over for a player who decided he didn't like the game, and Mayhem was a long-standing character idea Chris had made for GURPS 3e. The game was bi-weekly on Sundays, but when John, who plays Kim and Ash, called up (John's always first to show up at a game), Chris told him he wasn't feeling well. John relayed this information to me, and I shrugged and went about my day, which was likely laundry or schoolwork. Chris wasn't in the greatest of health, and frankly there were times I was glad that we were now gaming at his apartment rather than at the gaming store since that meant Chris couldn't wuss out because of the cold. (And there were times it was really wussy, too. Thirty degrees and no wind and a half inch of snow? That's nothing to us up here.) So I knew it was best to let him recover.

Two weeks later, however, John got no response when he called up. Which also brought a phone call to me. I reached out to Chris's brother on Facebook, and found that no, his brother had no idea where Chris was either. And so that day his brother Paul, Roman (the other player in our group, and the only one with a car), and I were calling various nursing homes and hospitals and, well, morgues. Chris had diabetes and heart conditions. It was either Monday or Tuesday that Roman (I think; it might have been John) had the good sense to call his apartment complex again and found out from the super (who was now present) that Chris was in Walker Methodist.

Roman and I went to go see Chris one evening that week, and found him on the second floor in a wheelchair. Well, we found most of Chris; we didn't see his right leg below mid-thigh. Apparently, Chris had an infection there for years and it got worse. In one of the few times I'd ever seen Chris near mad, he blamed the doctor, thinking his leg could have been saved. (The man never got mad. I'm serious. This was the third of four times I'd seen or heard him a little flustered at anything. And his voice never went up and he never yelled and after about two sentences it was over.)

The place was pretty bleak, and what made it worse was that Chris was still himself with his wits about him, as opposed to most of the rest of the folks there, who were zombies. At 60, he was younger than most of them. He shouldn't have been there, he should have stopped drinking Mountain Dew once he had found out he was a diabetic, but there he was.

So we started gaming at Walker Methodist, mostly Dungeon Fantasy, but sometimes Roman ran D&D Midnight 3.5 since, now being in grad school, I sometimes had loads of coursework. It's weird playing in such a place, though it did have a good commissary for snacks.

A commissary that let somebody still drink a can of Mountain Dew a week, however.

Our last game there was on the 24th of September. Chris started going in and out of the hospital starting around late August. Roman and I went there once, and saw he looked awful. We could now see the sores on his left leg, which looked worse than his missing right leg. Chris had Betty Grable's legs, which meant he had the legs of a woman who had been dead for 44 years. It wasn't good. I think we last saw him in Walker when we came to visit on October 6th, when he had just come back from the hospital, to which we went first. He was actually pretty together, and Roman thought he could last six months or six years, depending on how much work Chris put into it.

Chris's social worker called me last week, and told me the hospital was trying to reach his brother. She didn't give me any specifics, but said what was obvious, which was that Chris was unlikely to make it. Roman, John, and I went to go see him on the 27th of October, and I knew that was likely to be the last time.

He seemed a little gone for once, tired, not paying attention to whatever Doris Day movie was on the television. (I had tried calling down there on the 24th, and the nurse told me he was too tired. That wasn't a good sign; his activities consisted of eating, sleeping, and watching "Gunsmoke" reruns. Hardly tiring.) He had pneumonia and was on a BIPAP machine, or on oxygen when he wasn't on the BIPAP. If you've ever had a conversation with someone on a BIPAP machine, you'd know it's a conversation with Charlie Brown's teacher, and I told him as much, which amused him. At least he still had his sense of humor. He actually got a little mad when he starting talking about the Medicaid spenddown for making too much money cutting down his living conditions, and he's right that it is silly since the guy was on Social Security. Fourth time getting mad.

There was a fatalism about this visit, however. Chris throughout all his last months kept talking about the future, how his wheelchair was going to fit into his apartment (it would have had a problem turning the corner going in), or to where he was going to move for assisted living when it became clear that he needed more help. He wasn't talking about that now. Also, Roman had to take a phone call wherein he had to tell his brother who called that he was visiting a dying friend. After a few uncomfortable looks away, Roman got off the phone, and explained that if he didn't put it that way, his brother would ramble on and not let him off the phone. Whether this is true or not, I don't know, but we knew Roman wasn't exaggerating to his brother, either.

Chris knew, too, which was a first. I sometimes thought of Professor Binns from the Harry Potter books, who died and rose up as a ghost and went about his day. Chris always seemed to take each event as a one-time event, after which he'd get back to his day-to-day grind of reading comic books and painting minis. I always thought he felt that death wouldn't take him, too, and that he could do whatever he wanted to his body without it mattering.

At 11:45 this morning, his social worker called me, confirming that getting back to the everyday grind was not to happen, and that Chris was on his last hours. John had the day off and made it to the hospital, and he let me know that Chris was unconscious. Then at 2:30, he let me know that Chris had failed his last save.

The things I'll miss … his friendly demeanor most of all. His, "Hey, dude," greeting when he called you up. That he seldom took anything too seriously. Granted, he took this to the point of killing him, but he was good natured and pleasant and always willing to hang out and chat. We sometimes chatted away in the basement of the old Tower Games location when we didn't really have a gaming group besides ourselves. He gently let me know that the big D&D advert for the 4e red box was something I should be able to read across the table; I really did need glasses after 37 years.

All the minis and his need to want just the right mini. I'm sure I'll wind up with many of them, but it's not the same. I'm usually perfectly satisfied with Cardboard Heroes or the Pathfinder Bestiary Box; Chris often had the perfect one painted for the situation. He painted one for Ichanko, my monk. Even the plastic ones were great; my wife's friend Josh played an elven pyromancer in a D&D game I ran. Chris had the plastic mini from Wizards of the Coast. He'd gamed since the woodgrain box in 1974 and had some genuine artistic skill, and his minis were his output, as well as a few character portraits.

And oh, the good times. Basayant the Necromancer's rant against the boggarts. How Lars, his fighter/cleric, always pulled out his bow to make a pathetic shot at the start of combat, which led to a fight in which Ichanko, who had initiative, said that he's going to move to the front and in the middle of some nasty monsters, and if Lars took out the bow, he was going to go back and beat the shit out of Lars. How the dimetrodon on the Isle of Dread snuck up on Basayant, which nobody bought. ("He rolled really well!") Eventually, that game descended into Chris running Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, and Josh and Lea, fed up with some questionable GMing (Basayant fought the Monster the GM Made Up Himself at one point, a nondescript mass of hit points and damage dice), made the two most irritating characters they could make to irritate Chris into dropping the game. The two-man Toon game in which we played munchkins from Oz who could turn into Munchkins from Too Many Hit Points Land; Toon was the one game he GMed well, much better than I did. He ran Call of Cthulhu too; my Latin professor fought both elder things and the football team. Professor Torres flunked them with vigor. They all looked funny; they should have stayed back at Innsmouth High. Another memory of the Isle of Dread, when Johnny (not John) played a dragon-loving cleric of Anubis who told a dragon he worshipped him, and said dragon told him, "I'm gonna go over there and eat your horse. And, if you're still here when I get back, I'm gonna eat you!" Then in commune with Anubis, Anubis asked him what he was doing with those dragons. Dan ran True20 for a bit in Hyperborea, and I played the Hyperborean L. Ron Hubbard, with Chris as my bodyguard. I ran a D&D 3e campaign that ended in a total party kill from a vrock, and I sang the Prudential jingle with an extra letter as I wiped out Chris's and Dan's PCs (and my own GMPC). His intelligence officer in the GURPS Interstellar Space Marines A-Team game who took video of their fights and sent them to "Friday Night Fights." Pity D's character saved the video of Chris's intelligence officer getting his ass handed to him by multiple clones of 20th century Earth actress Angelina Jolie. And when the intelligence officer, and Johnny and Tristan's characters broke into that Walker Corp. base and got a good reaction with a Cooking roll ("Mmmm! That is a tasty sandwich!") In that universe, that base is still resupplying the fictitious base Chris made up, and will never catch its error.

In the end, I think that's what it's all about. Friends and imagination and having good times. I hope to have more good times gaming, though now without Chris, they just won't be the same.

Requiesce in pace, amice.