Sunday, March 3, 2024

Game log 28 January and 18 February 2024: Out and down

Personae dramatis

Honsou, thief and item smasher
Tonfa Guy, doesn't speak or have a name but has a tonfa
Felcanis, elven cleric
Grignok, handsome orc druid
Augustus, human cleric
Dénnos, human sage (NPC)

Quid occurrit

The spider on Grignok passes out. The spider on Tonfa Guy bites him, dropping him, and his breathing gets shallow. Honsou shoots the spider on Tonfa Guy, taking it down. Augustus casts Stop Bleeding on Tonfa Guy, stabilizing him.

A truly big spider takes a bite out of Grignok, paralyzing him. Felcanis wiggles out a little but cannot get free. Dénnos steps and burns webbing again. Honsou pulls out an arrow and aims. Augustus burns the webbing in front of Honsou.

The spider rears up and grapples Grignok. Felcanis wiggles free and steps back. Dénnos and Augustus keep burning webbing, while Honsou keeps aiming.

The spider starts dragging off Grignok. Felcanis steps and casts Sunbolt. Dénnos and Augustus burn more webbing. Honsou takes a step and then shoots the spider.

Felcanis steps and throws her Sunbolt, but misses, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Dénnos and Augustus keep up burning webbing, and Honsou readies his bow. The spider crushes Grignok with its forearms, then steps back.

Augustus drops his torch and pulls out his bow, and Honsou aims. Dénnos keeps burning webbing, while Felcanis steps back. The spider keeps moving back, and Augustus takes a parting shot. Honsou instead grabs Grignok, and they all go towards the opening. Once they have the sun on their faces, they heal up.

They start climbing down. Augustus takes off his gear and they lower it to the ground, then Tonfa Guy ties the rope around Augustus. Augustus starts going down, but he slips with the knot doing the same, and he lands on the ground, awake but hurting. Grignok, as a panther, climbs down, turns back into an orc, turns Augustus into a big log, heals the log, then turns Augustus back into a person, bewildering Bill, grazing by the tree. Then Tonfa Guy lowers Felcanis, who makes it down after some small mishaps. Both the Tonfa Guy and Honsou make it down, and they make camp there. Grignok gathers food, and Felcanis feeds herself with Create Food.

They wake up on a chilly morning, but nothing awful. The sky looks a bit cloudy. The set out slowly through the thick woods near the spiders' lair, but move faster once they get out of the thick woods just after noon.

In the late afternoon, Grignok points to a tree with curved branches in a copse of trees. "That one there is not right." The branches look almost sword-like, so Tonfa Guy walks away, and everyone else follows.

Felcanis makes camp that night, the first quarter of the moon. Felcanis again feeds herself with Create Food and Grignok gathers food.

In the middle of the night, the rain and winds pick up. Grignok, who is on watch, wakes up everyone. "Run! It's a twister!" Felcanis and Augustus get hurt from the debris, with Felcanis deaf for many minutes afterwards. They set up camp again under a lean-to, and get some more sleep.

The next morning is still wet, crappy, and cloudy, and they make it back to Bóllā in the middle of the morning.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Game log 14 January 2024: Stuck in the middle with you

Personae dramatis

Honsou, thief and item smasher
Tonfa Guy, doesn't speak or have a name but has a tonfa
Felcanis, elven cleric
Grignok, handsome orc druid
Augustus, human cleric
Dénnos, human sage (NPC)

Quid occurrit

The cat hears something behind him and suddenly three spiders dart into the light. Tonfa Guy moves towards the nearest spider. Honsou lets loose an arrow that goes past two spiders. Augustus and Dénnos burn webbing. Grignok starts to move warily towards the battle, but gets stuck in webbing.

Two spiders step back, and the third at the fore runs behind them. Tonfa Guy moves towards them but gets stuck in the webbing. Augustus and Dénnos keep burning webbing, while Felcanis steps in webbing that ensnares her. Grignok, however, gets free.

Tonfa Guy wiggles out a little, but only a little, while Honsou steps backwards. Augustus burns the webbing where Honsou was, and Dénnos burns more webbing. Felcanis breaks free of webbing, only to step into more webbing that ensnares her. Grignok keeps prowling towards the spiders.

Tonfa Guy gets free of the webbing and steps. Augustus and Dénnos keep burning webbing. Grignok smells where the spiders are, while Felcanis gets free of the webbing tangling her and steps towards a burned spot.

Augustus and Dénnos burn even more webbing. Tonfa Guy runs forward, mostly through burnt webbing, then switches from his long knife to one of his throwing knives. Augustus steps and casts Might 1 on Tonfa Guy, and the night might of Nemmagós makes the spell even mightier than Augustus tried. Grignok moves along the wall towards the spiders, while Felcanis steps aside. This gives Honsou a clear shot and he takes it, but the spider steps away from his arrow.

Honsou pulls out another arrow while the Tonfa Guy moves forward. Dénnos burns more webbing while Augustus moves over burnt webbing to do the same. Felcanis steps, as does Grignok before he pounces on a spider. However, he misses and falls to the ground.

Two of the three spiders try to Grignok, though neither wounds him. The third moves towards him. Grignok claws through the spider that missed his body, killing it. Augustus and Dénnos keep burning webbing while Felcanis fires up a Sunbolt.

The two spiders still standing bite Grignok in the face, stunning him. Honsou moves up, while Augustus and Dénnos burn more webbing. Felcanis aims for one of the spiders biting the face of the cat.

The spiders step back. Tonfa Guy moves forward and gets stuck. Honsou aims at a spider while Felcanis lobs her Sunbolt at it, but misses. As always, Augustus and Dénnos burn webbing.

Again the spiders step back. Tonfa Guy wiggles out a web but gets stuck as he steps again. Honsou keeps aiming. Augustus and Dénnos burn more webbing. Grignok comes to his wits while Felcanis gets stuck as she moves forward.

The big spiders pounce on Tonfa Guy's face, wounding him. Honsou shoots at a spider, but misses everyone. Grignok starts to stand, Felcanis tries to wiggle out but cannot, while Dénnos and Augustus burn webbing. Tonfa Guy grabs at the leg of one of the spiders, but it wiggles free.

The other bites Tonfa Guy in the face, paralyzing him. Honsou drops his arrow as he tries to pull it out. Augustus casts Major Healing on Tonfa Guy from a short gap away. Grignok stands, steps back, and gets stuck, while Felcanis just stays stuck, unable to wiggle free. Dénnos, as always, burns some webbing.

One spider bites Tonfa Guy while the other tries to bite Grignok but cannot get through his fur. Honsou aims at the spider that tried to bite Grignok, while Grignok claws the spider that bit Tonfa Guy, wounding it greatly. Augustus steps and casts Might on Felcanis, who breaks free, steps, and gets stuck again. And Dénnos, yet again, burns webbing.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Game log 17 September, 3 December, 31 December 2023: Sticky fingers

Personae dramatis

Honsou, thief and item smasher
Tonfa Guy, doesn't speak or have a name but has a tonfa
Felcanis, elven cleric
Grignok, handsome orc druid
Augustus, human cleric

Quid occurrit

Nothing happens that evening. Grignok leads them through the woods, getting thicker with each step. After a couple of hours, they find a bunch of bones from some kind of big animal, bigger than Bill. Felcanis tries to figure out what killed it. She cannot, though she realizes it has been dead awhile, and can still see some dried blood on nearby rocks. The skeleton is still intact. Grignok has no idea what kind of animals these are. Big quadruped of some kind.

They make it to the tree about midday. Dénnos looks up. "So, is that the nest? Good gravy!"

Grignok nods. "We went up there before, we can get up there again."

Felcanis tries to climb, gets midway up, then gets back down, as falling is almost assuredly fatal at this level. She makes it down safely. All others slowly make it to the top.

Now, up there, there is a woven wall of webbing They see where Mateo had burned a hole, and it has been webbed-over. Grignok casts Shapeshifting (Panther), then they rest about a half-hour before Grignok's nose leads them to where the smell of weird spidery stuff is greatest. Two branches split here, showing a hidden gap about 3 yards wide in the solid walls of webbing around the tree. Unlike most of the woven wall, this spot of the web is not sticky; dust and leaves are on the floor, making a path. It narrows inside, and after a few yards, the floor starts to get sticky again.

Grignok-cat points out the floor. For all anyone can tell, the kitty is probing at the floor. It's all sticky ahead when they look for a dusty path. Grignok finds the walls sticky. Honsou can lights a torch and starts burning the webbing

The webbing burns slowly. After burning a few yards of webbing, Honsou is amazed to see an ogre-like being with a spider's head and two bulbous black eyes. It has two long, slender arms that end in claws.

Tonfa Guy shoots the ettercap but misses, and the ettercap shoots webbing at Honsou!

Grignok moves towards Honsou, and Dénnos moves behind Grignok. Tonfa Guy whips out his knife and moves into position, but gets stuck on the webbing. The ettercap lobs its web at the nearby Tonfa Guy, who dodges.

Grignok moves into the webbing but doesn't get stuck. Dénnos is for some reason being brave, at least a bit, and carries the rear. Tonfa Guy tries to break free, and wiggles out a little, but is still stuck. Honsou shoots the ettercap, but misses. The ettercap lobs a web at Grignok, who steps aside, and the webbing goes flying past Dénnos.

Grignok steps towards the ettercap, but gets stuck in the webbing. Dénnos pulls out a torch. Tonfa Guy gets himself out of the webbing and he steps back to stand next to Dénnos. Honsou whips out an arrow and shoots the ettercap, who steps aside. The ettercap lobs its web at Honsou and steps back, and the webbing binds Honsou.

The panther tries to break free but does not. Dénnos lights a torch. Tonfa Guy gets out his knife. Honsou tries to get out but does not get out. The ettercap lobs his web at the Grignok, who dodges before breaking free and stepping forward.

Dénnos burns some webbing. Tonfa Guy steps back. Honsou tries to break free but again fails. The ettercap throws a web at Grignok, but it hits the wall. Grignok pounces at the ettercap, but it steps aside, and he lands right beside it.

Dénnos burns more webbing. Honsou wiggles a little out of the webbing, but still has it on him. The ettercap steps back. Grignok swipes a claw at the ettercap, but just misses

The sage steps and burns yet another hex, and the Tonfa Guy steps. Honsou keeps struggling against the webbing. The ettercap steps back again. Grignok steps and tries to claw the ettercap, but cannot touch it.

Dénnos burns even more webbing. The Tonfa Guy sheathes his tonfa and whips out his knife. Honsou cannot get out of the webbing. The ettercap steps back. Grignok steps and again tries to claw the ettercap, but cannot touch it.

Dénnos keeps burning webbing. The Tonfa Guy gets his knife out and starts to cut the webbing on Honsou. The ettercap steps back. Grignok steps and again tries to claw the ettercap, but cannot touch it, and Dénnos steps and burns more webbing.

The Tonfa Guy cuts the webbing off Honsou, who readies his bow. The ettercap turns a little and moves farther.

Grignok steps, still doesn't see anything, and Dénnos burns more webbing. The Tonfa Guy steps up and points at Honsou's coin purse as soon as he is freed from the webbing. Everybody but Grignok can see the ettercap fleeing through the gloaming. Grignok's whiskers sense the ettercap and pounces on the ettercap's back, clawing it and grappling it.

Dénnos keeps burning webbing while the Tonfa Guy steps back and keeps looking at Honsou's pouches. The ettercap tries to break free. It wiggles a little but still grappled. Grignok claws the ettercap again, but it still struggles onward while Dénnos again burns webbing.

Honsou sees the Tonfa Guy making a move on his pouches. The ettercap wiggles out, but  Grignok keeps clawing it from behind, dropping it so it oozes fluid all over the place.

After this, they wait almost an hour and a half.

Augustus is wandering through the woods, trying to learn how to be an alchemist or herbalist. The priest/druid telling him to do this has told him that a rare fungus grows from the bodies of those killed by giant spiders and he has to gather it, so therefore he went to Bóllā, hit by giant spiders, and is wandering through the woods from there.

Augustus makes it to a spot in the woods where there are ropes of spider webbing. He makes it to a tree with a big throng of spider webs about a hundred feet up in it, and there is an elf woman, obviously a cleric of Saundīvós from her rainment, standing at the base of it, kinda looking up. This, of course, is Felcanis.

Augustus and Felcanis banter about the fungus and Felcanis's inability to climb.

Augustus asks, "Why do you wanna climb a tree into a hive of giant spiders?"

Felcanis says, "To kill them?"

Augustus grabs some sticky webbing and starts to try to climb the tree, and Felcanis tells Augustus not to go up there! Someone drops Felcanis's rope to bring her up. She ties the rope around her, and Grignok pulls her up with his teeth.

Honsou grabs the rope, then goes down to meet Augustus. Honsou ties the rope around Augustus before climbing up himself, then Grignok pulls up Augustus.

Augustus looks around the bones in the den and cannot find the fungus. He realizes these bones have bite marks on them. Weird bite marks, not human. It could be the ettercap or it could be a giant spider. Who knows? Maybe the ettercap shared a snack with the giant spider.

Grignok moves into the darkness to the left of where they came into the den, as they hear a little din from there. Honsou steps out, then gets stuck. Augustus readies a torch. Dénnos burns some webbing. Felcanis pulls out her mace, which speaks ettercap.

Honsou wiggles out a little, but is still grappled, while Grignok keeps waiting. Felcanis moves to the edge of the burnt webbing. Dénnos steps and burns more webbing. Honsou tries to get out of the webbing but cannot. Felcanis moves but gets stuck in the webbing. After a short struggle, Augustus burns away the webbing on Honsou as Dénnos burns the webbing on the ground.

Grignok moves, but gets stuck. Felcanis tries to get out, and Dénnos burns the webbing to free her. Honsou steps and readies his bow. The Tonfa Guy sees the creature at the edge of the light and swings, giving the ettercap a good whack, knocking it down.

Felcanis moves but again gets stuck in the webbing. Augustus moves towards Felcanis. Dénnos steps and burns more webbing. Honsou steps. The Tonfa Guy swings at the downed ettercap. It tries to stop the blow with its claws, but instead the blow lands, and the ettercap passes out.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Castle Whiterock: Garreth speaks

Dungeon Fantasy Whiterock

by Zuljita, aka Garreth

In April of 2018, Dripton ran session 1 of Dungeon Fantasy Whiterock. A hundred sessions later, he ran his last session in on June 26, 2020. I meant to write a retrospective when that campaign ended, but my life changed radically around that time and my priorities had to change. A month or so later, Kalzazz decided he wasn’t done with the game and decided to run it primarily as a GM, but kept his character as a participant in the story, albeit much less active. I’m going to set out to do a two-part retrospective, first on Dripton's game and Kalzazz’s continuation, and another part on the content produced by Dungeon Crawl Classics. I’m going to try to keep spoilers to that last section. If you hope to play in this dungeon in future, I’d avoid reading that.

Dripton’s game

From the get-go Dripton was an attentive and intensely prepared GM, his preparation meant we (almost?) never ran off the edge of the map, and he was always ready to run. I don’t know that we missed even one scheduled game session in the 100 we played. He characterized the monsters and the NPCs very well and never gave us too much of an impression of being railroaded. The most heavy handed leading he did in the whole game was two points: session 1, when he used an NPC to get us started on the path to the dungeon, and session 98 or 99 when he had Chauntessa give us the final quest.  

We had a lot of back and forth over character points, which in the end, was part of what caused the game to break down. In retrospect, I think possibly the way to fix this would be to give just one point per session in terms of “attendance points” and put a much greater emphasis on milestones, e.g., “Level 1 cleared” being worth 10-15 points, “NPC rescued” 3 points, “Entered Secret Zone” 2 points.  Then the rewards for moving slow and finding every piece of treasure(which we absolutely did) are mitigated somewhat.

Wizards in GURPS are far more broad and consistent than their D20 counterparts, who are flashier and more explosive. That core difference makes a lot of other things change. That’s especially true with a wizard who’s comfortable taking a back seat in most combats to provide broad passive bonuses to the whole party.  

A few spells in particular stick out as problematic in conversion in their own ways: 

Bless does a whole lot.  The cost for keeping the whole party blessed is -1 per member to spellcasting.  We handled this pretty easily and the long term duration meant we kept the benefits between sessions even when the caster wasn’t around. I think I’d like to rewrite bless for DF to make it more immediate, less powerful, and less long lasting, with an eye towards how the spell works in D&D.

Great Haste is a force multiplier. It more than doubles the power of a melee fighter. It starts feeling powerful, and ends feeling insane. Dripton ended up capping players at 3 attacks per second. The players didn’t take that change very well. I think in hindsight, if we’d had that as a restriction from the get-go, or been allowed to adjust existing characters around the new speed limit, it would have gone over much better.  

Mass Daze ended up being absurdly powerful, both in terms of wrecking large groups of enemies and in terms of allowing a wizard to affect larger SM monsters. I think I’d adjust all the “mass” spells to have some caveats around that sort of scaling. Daze in particular ends up being “save or die” in GURPS because of how easy it is to take advantage of a defenseless opponent.

Buff spells that can be maintained indefinitely (Darkvision, Keen senses, Flight, Haste) feel overpowered.  I’d like to adjust that somehow as well. I fear that ends up looking like a complete overhaul of the magic system. I suspect that might be what’s required to make the two systems assumptions work well together. I feel like Incantation is almost there, but, needs a bit more tweaking and a much more robust list of available spells.

Dripton had a few “save for half damage” effects that he translated over unchanged, which I felt at the time wasn’t in the spirit of the system. Looking back, I’m increasingly comfortable with making sure players just take some damage, and communicating to players that they need to plan accordingly.

Kal’s continuation

Kalzazz took up the torch on 8/24/20 and ran for 70+ sessions. His approach to GMing is far more improvisational. Where Dripton took maps and stripped out square grids and added hexes, Kalzazz just told us to treat the squares more or less the same as hexes. Very few monsters had statblocks from this time forward.

Kal kept us on a pretty steady diet of 2 cp for attendance and 1 for a written recap, which Demented Avenger provided. We ended the game up 216 points from where Dripton left us, with Kal granting 100 more points as a reward for adventure conclusion. He also let us break the attack cap Dripton had set. If we keep using these characters, they are going to be even bigger and scarier than they were when they took on Sihouette and Benthos. Which is an interesting balance problem.  

On the balance front, both Zaber and I ended up continuing on mostly as a duo with occasional guest characters. This left some core competencies uncovered (spellcasting), so I took on a wizard ally to fill in the passive-ish spellcasting we were accustomed to with Seep. Zaber took on the wolverine we’d gotten from a bag of tricks as an ally who became a true combat monster, doing more raw damage per attack than Garreth by the end. Kal pulled no punches, if your active defenses fell through, you were probably going to take more than 50 damage. We had to resurrect Polly once, Bleu once and Logan was already Unkillable, but was reduced to recovering in his bag for a week once.

Kal kept trying to invite other players to the game who often lacked a lot of context for why we were still soldiering on with this game. Mostly, they seemed to struggle to find a place in the game or a place for the game in their schedule and drifted on. Sometimes the pacing struggled in terms of getting anything meaningful done in a 2 hour session, which I think was a shared issue between the players and the GM. There were also some interesting shifts in tone where Dripton had been much more serious and the game got a little sillier under Kalzazz’s direction.

Looking back on what Kal did, there are things I might have done differently, like preparing more of the monsters with stat blocks and changing the grid to a hex, but all of that would likely have kept me from running the game at the cadence that allowed us to finish in 3 years time. I’m glad we finished and I owe Kal a great debt for letting me see the end of this campaign.

To be continued …

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Whiterock 16 October 2023: Last blast

The murderhoboes

Garreth, half-orc swordsman
    Bleu, droning elf wizard
Zaber, suave and debonaire man
    Logan, wolverine
Polly, cute and deadly elf archer

What they did

We find a fine, balanced, Dwarven naginata big enough for the lamia, so Hasna casts to end the Sleep of Ages. Garreth does a rousing concert. The sleeping man wakes with Chauntessa is cuddling and cooing over him. Sir Pennyworth scratches out the Pentagram, and the onlookers watch the lamia coil to strike us with baited breath.

Garreth shouts, stunning Hasna for a moment, then she snaps back, so he shouts again, stunning her again. He swings for her skull, but she parries the blow. Bleu casts Great Haste on Garreth. I step to grab Hasna, but she steps away into Logan grabbing her. Polly shoots her three times , but Hasna gets away.

Hasna gets her wits back, and pulls away from Logan. She swings at Garreth, but Bleu casts Blink Other to get him away. She looks at me and says, "Hey cutie, you should be on my side," with the most nauseating bat of her eyes, and I sneer back. She swats at Polly, but she steps back. And then, Hasna poofs, and we suddenly see her near the door, and a life-draining shadow in her stead.

Garreth yells and runs at her. "I can't see what the dragon saw in your raggedy catness."

Hasna scoffs. "You know that would have hurt if I still liked you. But you're a meanie, so no! I totally would have gone backstage with you if you didn't want to kill me, if you know what I mean."

Garreth swings at her head, but misses. Polly rushes over to shoot her Hasna, but misses. The shadow tries to touch Bleu, but she Blinks away. I rush at her with my knife out, but she gets out of the way. "I'm taking the high elf out afterwards because she's hotter, a better wizard, AND more exciting than you!" 

Hasna hisses back, "You have the worst taste in women, jerk!"

Logan slams into her, though he hurts almost as much as she does afterwards. He grabs her and tries to claw her, but she slips from his paws. Hasna sneers. "A magic mustelid? Seriously?" 

Garreth waves his sword. "You see, the wolverine is a living example of the power of friendship."

Hasna laughs. "He don't seem friendly to me!"

I recover from my swing. "He's not friendly to silicone lamia."

Garreth says, "He started as a little relatively normal wolverine, but with our constant friendship and attention, he grew into the magnificent specimen you see before you. Ain't he the cutest?" He looks down at Logan, who is foaming at the mouth. "Oh, and the magic of beer. Which is what he's foaming all over you." 

Hasna makes a fake smile at Logan. "Aw, what a cutesey wootsie widdle wolverinie!" Logan sticks out his middle talon, and Hasna runs towards the door. Suddenly, a shadow dragon shows up. "Pick on something more your own size!"

Garreth chucks a chora leaf throwing knife at the dragon, and as it hits, it vanishes. Then he focus his chi as Bleu casts Itch on Hasna, but it doesn't do much. I dash towards her and give her a good slash. Logan slams into her but bounces back after hitting. Then he steps forward again and slashes her. There is a blast of fire and a scream as the lamia leaves the Prime Material Plane.

Chauntessa looks up from her mate and breathes a sigh of relief. "I am glad that you didn't blow her up her inside the inn."

I look up. "Where do we go to have fun now?"

Post mortem

That was five years of my life I'll never get back and don't want to get back, because it was fun. Alex Prewett picked up the game after David Ripton dropped it, and embraced the power escalation.

In retrospect, we should have had a fixed rate of advancement. It started at 5 CP a session and went down to 1 CP a session, but when Alex took over it went to 2 CP since 1 CP a session is a really slow rate. It went up to 3 CP a session since I wrote a log after each session. (Did you really think these were all just for your literary enjoyment?) The solution should have been a fixed 2 CP a session at the get go, with maybe a bonus for a player-written log.

I picked playing a thief in part because John in my then-face-to-face game was playing Kim, and I was trying to see how to make the choice more effective. It was about a year into the game that David revealed that he hated the Stealth at the beginning of combat trick. I was wondering why he never let me pull that off. Anyways, I kept looking for ways to be more effective. At one point I was going for the feet all the time since they don't take much damage to cripple. From a build standpoint, the thief template in DFRPG needs to have the Craftiness talent, since they have to pay attention to eight thief skills. Also, a moderately-mighty wizard can take over most of these tasks, as Seépravir showed one session when I was away. I wound up with Danger Sense in part to have a trait that the wizard couldn't mimic.

Zaber's name comes from the Roger and the Muffins (to give you an insight as to how I see the eternal acrimony in my favorite band) song "Ibiza Bar," and he quickly became just "Zaber." I figure the aunt who raised him is the one person who calls him "Ibizaber." His personality is basically a curious frat boy: drunk and stoned all the time, chasing women ("Beer makes every woman look like an elf princess!"), shunning work, poking his head into wherever he gets an inkling that it might be interesting, and pulling back from whatever it is since he's a chickenshit. I kept away from branching into spellcasting since I feel that the study of magic doesn't befit a guy who finds his way to the bar for beer and wings if he has to bear a 10 lb. backpack to a class, but that's really the endpoint for this template.

The most notable thing off-template is Logan. He started life as a little magic item that David made to give us a little more oomph, and at some point, when Alex took over, I got the idea to turn him into an Ally. For personality, I based him off Hosehead.

Alex, Kyle, and I are talking about what to do next, though we're going to take a break of a few weeks for now. Kyle and I have been chatting about setting up hex crawl sandboxes, something about which I might know a thing or two. Things have to be more approachable for non-regular players; Garreth and Zaber have so many points that it's hard for someone to just make a casual player to make a character to just drop in, and we were the only players truly invested in the campaign storyline, having been around since the beginning.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Whiterock 9 October 2023: C'mon! I like looking at those!

The murderhoboes

Garreth, half-orc swordsman
    Bleu, droning elf wizard
Zaber, suave and debonaire man
    Logan, wolverine
Polly, cute and deadly elf archer

What they did

We ask Bleu about putting Hasna in a Pentagram and making her dispel Sleep of Ages, which she says Hasna could do, but she would get to resist the Pentagram. So, we bring the flask back to Cillamar.

We go into the Slumbering Drake and I put the flask on the bar. "Hey, Chauntessa, we need to chat."

Chauntessa says, "Yes, Zaber?"

I nod. "It involves your mate."

She grabs me by the collar and drags me to a private room. "Yes, Zaber?"

I hold up the flask. "OK, here's the scoop. The caster of Sleep of Ages is a lamia trapped in this flask. To get her to dispel her spell, it takes eight hours and losing the geas after an hour. Even if we somehow trap her in a Pentagram for eight hours to dispel the spell, and we might not be able to stuff her back inside."

Chauntessa sighs then growls, "Why does that matter? Who cares about the lamia if she frees my mate?" She clutches my shoulder and looks at me angrily.

My eyes widen at her unexpected aggression. "She has a Shadow Jump ability that lets her poof easily once the Pentagram is broken. She'll go somewhere and cause havoc, probably killing innocent people."

Chauntessa scoffs. "Fine, fine, I hire people to track her down and kill her afterwards. I still have some of my horde left."

Garreth, Bleu, and Logan come in the room, having followed us back. Garreth steps between Chauntessa and me, and I smooth my mail, making one step towards Bleu. He turns towards Chauntessa. "We're essentially going to have to make her cast this by choice. We're going to get it done, we want advice on how to best get it done. Do you have a good lead on how to get that done? We just need leverage to make sure we get everything we need done."

I pipe up. "If we somehow send her back to Whiterock, Scithia and her can fight things … what?"

Chauntessa sighs. "Oh, yes, fine, have Scithia kill her." She turns back towards Garreth. "I suppose we can leave her in a Pentagram until she awakens my love or starves?"

Garreth asks, "So, m'lady, can you cast Pentagram?"

Chauntessa nods. "I can cast Pentagram. Do you think that would help?"

I nod back. "Very much so. We should put the town on high alert, though if she gets out, she'll teleport somewhere else. We ready? I just want to have a good offer for her to cast the spell to have less fuss."

Garreth drinks a cup of whiskey like it's water. "We'd want the Pentagram to enclose the party, the sleeper and leave room for the lamia." Then he sits down to meditate while Chauntessa works. I sit next to Bleu and Polly, who has joined us, and smoke some incense.

Chauntessa casts the spell and is worn out, but recovers in an hour or so. "Well, let's get her out and put her to work."

Garreth gets up, and I step into the Pentagram, pull out the flask, and say, "By Almighty Benthos!"

Garreth smiles a wide, fake smile as Hasna shows up. "Hey there, did you miss us? We've got a proposal for you. And you're going to take it."

Hasna looks around her and scowls. "A Pentagram? No way! I'd rather die."

Garreth downs another whiskey. "That can be arranged."

Hasna sneers at Garreth. "You guys are being big meanies like Benthos! I'd rather die than be imprisoned again." 

I shake my head. "Chauntessa? She's too annoying. You can take her out.m There's no way she can pull this off anyways. Sorry."

Chauntessa clutches her fist. "Not until she frees my mate."

Hasna says, "I can! But you're not tricking me into doing it surrounded by a Pentagram." She looks around, seeing everyone around her, then shrugs. "Fine! Explain your deal."

Garreth says, "Step one, you undo the Sleep of Ages spell. Step two, we sing for you. Step three will be determined based on how steps one and two go. I promise you a live concert put on just for you if the spell is removed."

I sigh again. "Chauntessa, all she can do is whine for eight hours straight! It's an Anakin Skywalker-like feat, but doesn't come with cool armor."

Hasna sneers at me. "Kill me or give me a chance to get free. I am not casting the spell trapped in a Pentagram."

I eat a big barbecued rib outside the Pentagram. "Suit yourself! We can leave this Pentagram up forever. Chauntessa has been waiting for centuries. A few more weeks until you starve won't matter much."

Hasna hisses, "I guess I just starve, then."

I munch on the rib. "Suit yourself. It's not like you have any chance of getting this done anyways."

Hasna glares at Zaber. "Can too!"

Garreth says, "Starving to death is no chance at freedom. So long as you live, there's hope." Then he  clamps his jaws shut.

I put my arm around a bewildered Bleu. "If it wasn't your spell, I'd ask the high elf to do it. She'd get it done and is way, way hotter. You just can't do it."

Garreth shrugs. "I suppose she's just afraid of revealing her failure. She's nothing without Benthos."

I laugh. "Heck, she's less than Silhouette." I look at Bleu. "So, Bleu, babe, how long would it take for a silicone lamia to starve?" Bleu calculates this out in precise detail, and asks me to measure the lamia. I sigh and shake my head. "Bleu, she's big and totally not hot. Plus the silicone doesn't count."

Garreth says, "Actually, by casting the spell you gain a measure of freedom. Right now, the flask binds your will. Freeing your will is the first step."

Hasna says, "If I start casting the spell I can't stop without ruining any leverage I have. So I need to make a deal first, before I start casting."

I take a drink. "Why deal? You can't do it."

Garreth shrugs. "Agree to cast the spell and I'll vow that we won't use the flask on you again."

Hasna says, "So just going to kill me? I'd rather die without casting the spell to spite you meanies."

Garreth says, "You might win if we decide to kill you with free will or you might escape. Or you might convince us that you've got something to offer the world."

Hasna says, "Not if I'm stuck in a Pentagram."

I lean forward. "What would you want, anyways? I don't have a list of things I could offer a bumbling lamia with silicone sisters. They don't write that list up for public consumption."

Hasna says, "Well, I really wanted a night on the town and a concert and then to be free to go my own way. And these are all natural!"

I ask, "Who takes you out for that night?"

Hasna says, "Surely there are some cute guys who aren't utter jerks?"

I shrug. "Garreth is pretty darn cute."

Hasna says, "I haven't seen him without his helmet, but he is being such a jerk."

I tilt my head and look. "You might be interesting. I mean, I could swear off elves for a night …"

Hasna pipes up, "I am so hotter than an elf! I mean, meow!"

I ask, "When you say leave, where will you go? I mean, you might be the best date I'll have
And I'll have to look you up. I mean, if you're like a great date and all."

Hasna says, "The desert, totally!"

Polly says, "Maybe she could get a date with Flitwick."

Hasna asks, "Is Flitwick cute?"

I shake my head. "Flitwick isn't into sexy lamia. He's into camels."

Hasna winces, "Ewww! What a loser!"

Garreth says, "You're going to have to cast the spell inside the Pentagram regardless. We need to know it's done before we can risk your escape. Is that understood?"

Hasna says, "Fine, fine, I'll cast it inside the Pentagram. But you and the dragon have to agree I get to go after." She looks at Chauntessa. "Well, I assume she is a dragon, maybe she is just a really kinky elf."

Garreth says, "I agree to let you leave the Pentagram and perform at a concert in your honor once the spell is undone."

I lean up. "Oh, and a good meal at the Slumbering Drake. No sapients!"

Garreth says, "After that, it's catch as catch can? Sound at least interesting? If I kill you, you'll die a free lamia."

Hasna says, "Well. At least give me my stuff back first, but alright, I can agree to a fair chase."

Garreth holds up the bra. "The bra I can agree to. I was looking forward to learning the naginata."

I jerk upwards. "C'mon! I like looking at those!"

Hasna sighs. "Well, give me some decent weapon at least. You want it to be sporting."

Garreth says, "Sure. We'll get you a tricked out mundane one. Best I can commission on this short notice from the best craftsman in the region."

Hasna nods her head, "Fine, alright."

I wink at her. "You're on. And they're fabulous, way too nice to be fake."

Garreth nods. "Done."

Monday, October 9, 2023

Castle Whiterock 2 October 2023: Topless Lamia

The murderhoboes

Garreth, half-orc swordsman
    Bleu, droning elf wizard
Zaber, suave and debonaire man
    Logan, wolverine
Thrognar, half-orc holy warrior
Polly, cute and deadly elf archer

What they did

Garreth goes to Chauntessa. "We've killed everything we could find down there, didn't see anyone who seemed likely to have cast sleep of ages. Any hints? Can you scry for more details or something? Benny's ghost is defeated now if that's what was in your way."

Chauntessa goes and talks to Eli and comes back. "Eli says you can find the answer in a bottle."

I look at Garreth. "We've found a lot of answers in bottles."

We hire Angie the Surgeon to dissect Benthosruthsa. She says, "You guys must be like pickled mummies, but sure, I'll come. Don't let me die."

I give Angie a wink and a leer. "Oh, don't worry, we can afford to fix you if that happens." We make sure she has a Ghost Touch knife to disembowel the dragons, then go down into the dungeon and Angie does her work.

Meanwhile, we talk to Baghanaya and Scithia about bottles. Scithia says that she knows something, so after some goading, threatening, and tempting with the idea of exotic statues, she leads us to an iron flask on an island of cooled magma in the middle of the polluted lake. She says she knows nothing about the flask, only that Silhouette said not to bother with it. Bleu says the iron flask is an Iron Flask™, and can trap outsiders. She casts Analyze Magic, and says that the trapped being is an unhappy lamia named Hasna, and the command word is, "By Almighty Benthos!" in Common. Oh, and since I found it, I get to say it.

So I say it.

There’s a big burst of light and smoke worthy of Michael Bay. When it clears, a beautiful woman clad only in a brassiere is before me. Now, I don’t get too many ideas, since she’s a lion from the waist down.

The lamia cries, "I’m free. Wait … no, I’m not free! Meanies, you’re geasing me, you’re as bad and mean as Benthos!"

Garreth says, "We we can put her back when we're done. Maybe we can use the flask again later."

Hasna cries, "No! Don’t put me back."

I chuckle and cast a glance at the hooded Scithia. "Oh, if you're lucky …."

To make a long tale short, Hasra, whose full name is Hasna'azhar, tries seducing us, badmouths Scithia, says Silhouette kept her in the flask because Hasna was prettier than Silhouette (not a high bar), and says Benthosruthsa ("May he rot forever in the Seven Levels of the Abyss and be feasted upon by Celestial Termites!"—she has a way with words) wasn’t the biggest dragon where a woman really wants size. She gets jealous when I say that both Polly and Bleu turn me on more than she (elf women!) and cringes when I say that if she doesn't play ball she can go in Scithia's art gallery.

Since she’s under a geas to me, we ask about the Sleep of Ages, and she tells us that she'd obey for for the rest of the hour of the geas then I'd use use Shadow Jump to get away unless we made her stick around. However, it would take eight hours for her cast the spell. We do find out she is a fan of "Gar Eff and the Murder Hobies," and might help for a date including a concert.

Garreth blinks. "So, you have heard of me?" Logan yips in backup.

Hasna's eyes widen. "I expected you to be cuter and only wear one gauntlet."

Or, we could choose to grapple her and keep her down to make her cast the spell. 

We get her to hand over her gear: a Naginata of Flexibility, a Ring of Protection, a Bra of Wonder, and a scroll of the Sleep of Ages. Garreth has me prod her to tell us what she needs to cast Sleep of Ages, and she needs her hands, feet, tail, and mouth to do so. She also says she needs three of her four limbs free to Shadow Jump.

After many minutes of this, I've had as much of her as I can, so I say, "By Almighty Benthos!" and she goes back in the bottle. I pick it up. "Wow, she's annoying."

Monday, September 25, 2023

Castle Whiterock 18 September 2023: Red dragon? Dead dragon!

The murderhoboes

Garreth, half-orc swordsman
    Bleu, droning elf wizard
Zaber, suave and debonaire man
    Logan, wolverine
Thrognar, half-orc holy warrior
Polly, cute and deadly elf archer who is dead throughout most of this episode but gets better at the end
And our helpers:
Fthirya, aka Erica, ghaele eladrin
Galdiera, kobold who thinks she's an elven paladin

What they did

Garreth blasts from under the surface of the water and out into the ghost dragon's face. "Hey, big, dead, and ugly, how 'bout you and me go for a few rounds?"

Benthosruthsa's head shakes, boggled. "What?" A wave of evil necrosis comes away from the dragon as Garreth whacks him three times.

Erica casts Affect Spirits on Thrognar's weapon while I duck into an alcove. Logan flies towards the dragon and his claw lands once. A wraith runs after Garreth and throws knives, which do nothing. Another one lobs them at Galdiera, who knocks them away, as does Thrognar when a third wraith did the same. Yet another lobs them at Galdiera from behind, but they only bother her. Bleu blinks away when still another wraith throws knives at her.

Thrognar downs the wraith who lobbed knives at Galdiera from behind, then downs another when he throws his sword at it. Erica tries to blast a wraith with Sunlight, but it steps aside. Garreth swears in Orcish and whacks the dragon thrice while Logan does the same with both claws hitting twice each. This leaves the dragon with the thinnest wisps, though it still is in the fight. I slug a potion of Greater Healing.

Benthosruthsa flies through Garreth and hits Erica with a wave of evil. A bunch of the ceiling falls before Bleu. One wraith lobs knives at Galdiera and another at Garreth, but can do no harm. The last one is stuck and can't reach Logan, who starts to point his snout downwards at the water. Galdiera takes down a wraith as Thrognar rushes towards the dragon. He swings twice, felling the dragon, then he throws the sword at one of the wraiths, killing it as it starts to dissipate. The other two wraiths vanish.

We pick up Polly's body and put her in the Bag of Holding, while Bleu moves around the rocks. I pick up Elweiss's spear and give it to Garreth, who has slumped to the floor and is panting.

We take off after talking to Scithia, who is annoyed we're not giving her the wagon. "I'll give you charms so you can see me safely!" I remind her that we just took down an undead red dragon so she's nothing more than a skidmark to us, which ends that offer.

Elias raises Polly back in Cillamar. "Hey, I saw the Great Tree and my sister and ate lots of cookies!"

Garreth looks almost apologetic. "Should we have left you there?"

I shrug. "You'll have to go to another church if you wanna wash down those cookies with communion wine." Elias scowls at Garreth and me.

Polly smiles. "I'm sure there must still be some orks somewhere down here, right?"

Monday, September 18, 2023

Castle Whiterock game log 11 September 2023: The Beginning of the End

The murderhoboes

Garreth, half-orc swordsman
    Bleu, droning elf wizard
Zaber, suave and debonaire man
    Logan, wolverine
Thrognar, half-orc holy warrior
And our helpers:
Elweiss, ghostly guardian
Fthirya, aka Erica, ghaele eladrin
Galdiera, kobold who thinks she's an elven paladin

What they did

Thrognar shows up and summons his godly might, going full saiyan.

Then, out from the rock comes the ghostly shape of the dragon Benthosruthsa. He still has the wounds on him that killed him, with a wing pulled out of its socket and a big neck wound. "I must thank you for ending that bitch, Silhouette. In gratitude, I will allow one of you to leave, unharmed. The rest of you are now my playthings."

Garreth grins. He looks at Scalemar, and says, "Hey, Scalemar, ever kill a ghost dragon before?"

A wave of evil comes from Benthosruthsa. "Feel my presence, and know fear!" We hold out, and the fight begins.

I dash over to Logan. Elweiss mutters something, and a weak flash of magic comes from his spear, doing nothing. The wraiths we didn't kill before start to come out of the walls as well. Garreth slugs a Minor Healing Potion, then dives into the water. Galdiera heals Logan then sniffs, "Normally I would never touch a man's mustelid, but for you I shall make an exception." Thrognar attacks the wraith then steps as the wraith dissipates in a horrible howl of death.

Erica aims a finger at the dragon. "Let's see if you burn from holy light!" Benthosruthsa howls as he burns. Elweiss lobs his spear at the dragon, but it misses. I rip a potion out of Logan's potion belt and pour it down his throat. As I do this, I feel myself drying out, and see a faint magical glow coming from Benthosruthsa as he grins at me.

Elweiss feels a flurry of wraith knife stabs, sending him to his eternal reward at Koborth's side. As he dies, he says, "Sorry I’m a bit late, had a terrible time … All sort of things cropping up at the last moment. Uh, how are we for time?" Another wraith hurls three knives at Galdiera. They miss but one hits me, not piercing the skin but sapping weakening my soul. The other wraiths lob another couple volleys of knives at Thrognar and Erica, but both get out of the way. Galdiera casts Affect Spirits on Logan, who charges at a wraith, knocking it over, but feeling the loss of his lifeforce. Thrognar uses Faith Healing on Erica.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Game log 27 August 2023: I've been through the woods on a Tonfa Guy with no name, and I bet his back hurts

Personae dramatis

Honsou, thief and item smasher
Tonfa Guy, doesn't speak or have a name but has a tonfa
Felcanis, elven cleric
Grignok, handsome orc druid

Quid occurrit

The next morning the heroes all wake up from the floor of the Scarlet Harlot. Suddenly with them is a guy with a tonfa and a hood who says nothing. Honsou pickpockets the tonfa guy but the tonfa guy is broke, so Honsou gets lint. Mateo finds the Tonfa Guy to be bothersome so he takes off.

The heroes chat among themselves about the spiders. Honsou gets the idea to find a sage, and after asking some blokes over breakfast, he learns there are two sages in town, Dénnos and Prainêr.  

They go to Dénnos's cottage amid the gathering storm clouds, and a middle-aged man opens the door. A middle-aged, middle-class man opens the door, and Honsou says  Honsou says the Tonfa Guy is hungry. The man at the door says, "Oh, good gravy! Your friend should go to a tavern!" Tonfa Guy looks over at Honsou and narrows his eyes. The man with the twisted ear raises his eyebrow. "Well, good gravy, why have you come here?" Tonfa Guy holds up his fingers to Honsou rubbing them together to indicate the sign for money, but Honsou, Felcanis, and Grignok tell the man about the spiders.

The man raises an eyebrow. "All these giant spiders! Where are they? I'd like to see some." Honsou says they're in the Eldalîvā Woods outside of Bóllā, and the man lights up. "You guys should be thrilled that I have had some light enter my life again and I want to get out and further my studies." He introduces himself as Dénnos, and the heroes tell him who they are. Dénnos shrugs. "Well, first meeting, I guess. Never heard of any of you." Dénnos goes to hit his books to find out about giant spiders, especially in the Bóllā area.

Honsou looks around for things to steal, and Dénnos scowls when he sees Honsou looking over his house. "Watch it!" Dénnos's lip curls, then he pulls something out of a book. "Well, I have this letter from this wayfarer coming from the woods, and it seems there's something humanoid with the spiders, at least from what hints the survivors saw. Ettercaps do often live among spiders. I'd like to study ettercaps. They're like giants, which is my area." Honsou tells them there were indeed ettercaps there. "Oh, what kind of traps did they have?" Honsou tells him about the sticky floor. "Oh, the webbing in the den is sticky? Very interesting." They leave and agree to meet up the next morning, a downpour having started while they were outside.

The next day is clear so they set forth. Dénnos has a pack and some gear, including armor and a sword, and brings along with a horse and mule. "I've kept it up from my time in the Reapers. Let's go."

The day is uneventful, and they. make it to Bóllā by nightfall. The lookout there scowls then cackles madly. "You'll be sorry again!" Then he yawns and leans back and sleep.

Dénnos wants to visit the lord of the manor, so they go to the manor, and Lady Savendótē lets them inside. "Let me guess, the spiders again, right? I hope you weren't the one who took the cow." Tonfa Guy looks at Honsou quizzically. Lady Savendótē smiles. "Oh, yes, Honsou loves the livestock. A little more than most, from what they say." She giggles. Tonfa Guy gives Honsou a friendly elbow, and Honsou says at first that he didn't take the cow, then that he sold her. Lady Savendótē says, "Don't worry, we know the spiders got your date."

Lady Savendótē says, "I do hope you don't mind picking out a campsite for the night." Honsou asks if they can stay in town again, and she says, "No, Honsou, we do not want you in town again. And you'll be able to better monitor the spiders if they show up."

Honsou sees the cheese and jerky from their rations on the ground when he goes outside after Tonfa Guy rifled through them. Grignok sets up camp, and Honsou finds that the cows are inside the serf hovels, so he cannot use one as bait. The night passes, and no spiders come along. Well, none of the big ones. There were a couple of smaller ones that spun webs on Honsou's bow. The spiders don't carry off the jerky and cheese the annoying vegetarian tossed on the ground.

Grignok leads the group into the woods. He doesn't always pay the best heed to the path, and they get to the same green glowing tree as before. Honsou checks out the tree, and hears a rattle coming from inside. Honsou steps back and throws a stick inside, and the rattle gets louder, and a hiss joins the rattle. He hears a twig break behind him as he steps from the tree.

They turn, and there are five hobbits with hobbit-sized spears behind them. Tonfa Guy waits to see what they do. One of the hobbits hisses, "Go away, and take your pet with you!" pointing at Grignok. Honsou hints at killing at all of them, and the lead hobbit moves for the others to step back. "Watch it, we're a clan. We have others." The hobbits once again step back, then step back again and again. "We don't want any trouble."

Honsou suggests they wander off, and they look at each other, then wander away unusually fast. The rest of the day is not too thrilling. Bill steps in a trough filled with badger dung not long before they stop and camp. At the end, Felcanis sets up camp.

Res aliae

Nope, Tonfa Guy has no name. Right now his character sheet is in flux (ninja, if someone wants to make a pitch), but the name "Tonfa Guy" will survive any tweaks.