Saturday, May 27, 2017

OAWYM: Everybody Must Get Stoned

Game Date: 5/127/2017
Location: The Game Keep
Campaign: OAWYM, Session 29
Module: Scourge of the Slave Lords
System: D&D 5e
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Byzun (Gary) - Human Sorcerer
Halfbeard (Cliff) - Dwarf Fighter
Robb (Daniel) - Human Rogue
Val Ravensword (Matt) - Half-Orc Paladin
Xevrick (Graham) - Elf Mystic

The Session:
Continuing through the dungeon we entered last session.  We went through a few more halls until we reached a room containing five gnolls and three hyenas.  We made short work of them and continued through the door on the other side.  After a few more hallways, we went down some stairs and reached an unusual room.

The room was filled with some sort of weird goo that reminded us marshmallow creme.  There was a one-foot-wide path above the goo, leading from one side of the room to the other.  Halfway through the room was a wall of lightning.  We considered several possible ways of getting through the lightning wall.  Robb and Halfbeard decided to backtrack a bit to see if we'd missed any side passages, while the rest of us stayed in the room and pondered the puzzle.

Robb and Halfbeard encountered a little guy who turned out to be a Leprechaun named Darby, who agreed to accompany them back to the rest of the party.  Meanwhile, Xevrick tried walking through the lightning wall, taking some damage but not having any additional trouble.  Val and Byzun followed.  Then Halfbeard, Robb, and Darby reached the room, and followed us through the lightning wall.

Darby panicked at the lightning and fell into the goo.  Halfbeard jumped in after him.  It turned out the goo was not dangerous, and you could even breathe under there.  In fact, that was the real solution to the puzzle - the lightning wall didn't damage you while under the goo.  While down there, Halfbeard found a magic sword sheathed in an invisible scabbard.

We exited up the stairs on the far side of the room, and Xevrick used magic to clean the goo off everyone.  A few halls later, we found an empty room with only one interesting feature.  In the center of the room, a rope hung from the ceiling.  Most of the party stood in the hall while Byzun pulled on the rope.  The floor folded away, revealing a pit of corrosive liquid, and a secret door opened on the far wall.

Between Byzun's winged boots and Halfbeard's flying broom, we managed to get the party through the secret door.  A couple more halls, and we found a room containing two statues of ropers.  Well, we thought they were statues, but they were actually real ropers with stoney skin.  Byzun started the battle by casting Reduce on one roper. It lessened his damage slightly, but these were still some tough opponents.

Each roper had five attacks per turn - four tentacles with a very long reach, and one bite.  They could also petrify their opponents, a fate which befell several of us.  Val was the first to get petrified, followed by Byzun.  Xevrick tried to stay out of their range and attack with spells, but he misjudged the distance and got petrified as well.  Robb took lethal damage and failed three death saves.

Darby summoned a rainbow bridge, and yelled for us to flee with him.  Only Halfbeard was still standing at that point, but he managed to pull the petrified Byzun with him through Darby's portal.  The Leprechauns restored Byzun and allowed them to rest for a couple of days in their realm.  Then they assembled a Leprechaun rescue party (we all got to build Leprechaun characters for this one battle), and everyone came back to our plane. 

By this time one of the ropers had wandered off.  The rescue party blasted the remaining roper with their most powerful spells, taking it out quickly.  Then the Leprechauns used restoration spells on Xevrick and Val, returning them to normal.  Unfortunately, it was too late to do anything for Robb.  They let us hang out with them for a while, and offered to sell us their wares. 

As soon as we all felt ready to continue adventuring, we ended the session.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

OAWYM: Working In The Salt Mines

Game Date: 5/13/2017
Location: The Game Keep
Campaign: OAWYM, Session 28
Module: Scourge of the Slave Lords
System: D&D 5e
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Byzun (Gary) - Human Sorcerer
Halfbeard (Cliff) - Dwarf Fighter
Robb (Daniel) - Human Rogue
Val Ravensword (Matt) - Half-Orc Paladin
Xevrick (Graham) - Elf Mystic

The Session:
Today we left town using a Passwall spell, and proceeded to follow the path of the slave traders.  We rested during the day and traveled mostly by night.  Late on the second day we discovered we were being tracked by several ogres.  Xevrick tried talking to them, but we ended up in combat.

The first round they threw javelins at us while they drew closer.  Six of them stood in a nice row, allowing Byzun to throw a lightning bolt.  They didn't have very high AC, so it wasn't a particularly long fight.  Once they were all defeated, we found their lair and spent the night.  During one watch we saw a kobold in the back of the tunnels, but we let it be.

We kept traveling.  The next night we had some very bad weather, but we made it through.  The next morning we saw some stones in the shape of an arrow.  We followed the arrow and soon found another one.  The arrows eventually led us to some cracks in the base of a mountain, big enough to enter.

Xevrick turned into a bat and explored some of the passages, while we entered another crack.  Eventually we ran back into each other, and Xevrick showed us a large room he'd found.  We saw some big strips of meat, being prepared like jerky.  We were walking down one hallway when we set off a pit trap.  Byzun and Xevrick failed their saves and slid down an 80 foot tunnel, landing in a large mound of salt.

They were backed against the wall, surrounded by ten gnolls.  The rest of the party gradually joined them, and the fight was on.  Halfbeard flew into the room on his broom, divebombing a gnoll on his way in.  Most of the party spent the fight slowed, but we still prevailed.  The gnolls were no match for us.  After the fight, we explored several tunnels down there, but most of them led to dead ends.

The final tunnel led to a large cavern.  We saw a door on the opposite end, and we sent Robb in to investigate.  As he sneaked through the room, a couple of "piercers" (living stalactites) dropped from the ceiling and attacked.  We looked at the ceiling and saw hundreds of them writhing up there.  They were more annoying than dangerous, but we still didn't want to fight our way through that many.

Byzun threw a fireball at the ceiling, dropping a bunch of them.  We made our way to the door, only to find the door was fake.  But from that angle we did see another tunnel we hadn't seen before.  We ran for that tunnel, taking a few more hits from the piercers, and took a short rest once we were safe.  We ended the session there.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

OAWYM: Riddle of the Sphinx

Game Date: 4/29/2017
Location: The Game Keep
Campaign: OAWYM, Session 27
Module: Scourge of the Slave Lords
System: D&D 5e
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Byzun (Gary) - Human Sorcerer
Halfbeard (Cliff) - Dwarf Fighter
Robb (Daniel) - Human Rogue
Val Ravensword (Matt) - Orc Paladin
Xevrick (Graham) - Elf Mystic

The Session:
Last week we finally met Hassan Gold, a.k.a. Geoff the Bard, Werewolf/McGuffin.  Our mission was to either cure his lycanthropy or finish him off.  We thought we'd cured him last week, but a rules clarification revealed that he's still cursed.  Shortly after meeting him we were attacked by an innkeeper couple, and Geoff sided with them.  We were confused as to whether Geoff was attacking us of his own volition.

So today started with the fight.  The innkeepers were a couple of pushovers, with Byzun and Halfbeard each dropping one on their first turns.  As they died, they reverted into their true forms - Jackalweres.  We weren't out of the woods, though.  Geoff continued to fight us, and some howls outside turned out to be reinforcements - two wargs and six wolves.

It still wasn't a tough fight.  Val and Halfbeard took out most of the wolves, while the rest of the party worked over Geoff.  When everything was finally defeated, we kept Geoff alive for questioning.  We asked him if we could help cure him.  He told us that he needed 10,000 gold to pay a Sphinx for a cure, but he also said he wanted to keep the gold and stay a werewolf.

We found a trapdoor behind the bar, which hid a chest containing gold, silver, copper, a map tube, and a potion of sending.  There wasn't nearly 10,000 gold in the chest, unfortunately.  We considered just killing Geoff and getting on with our lives, but we still weren't quite ready to give up on curing him.  We had to decide whether to head for the Sphinx and try to reach a deal, or head back to the Elf Village and see if they could cure lycanthropy.

The Sphinx was closer, so we headed that way.  We took all of Geoff's possessions, and force marched him naked to the Sphinx's ruins.  As we neared the site, we saw a lot of activity.  Many people were working on rebuilding the ruins.  We marched into the area and asked to be taken to the Sphinx.  The Sphinx's servants gave us a place to stay for the night, and the next morning they led us up the steps of the main pyramid.

We offered our services in exchange for a cure.  The Sphinx offered us a quest and a riddle, or perhaps the riddle was part of the quest, or perhaps the quest was to answer a riddle... the details were fuzzy.  We did learn that failure meant we would become the Sphinx's servants.  We discussed our options at length. Did we really want to help this creature?  We'd seen signs of Graz'zt around the site, and we didn't want to help anyone evil.

After we spent lots of time talking, Halfbeard got bored and said, "Gimme the riddle already".  The rest of us joined him, because we're that kind of team.  The Sphinx told us that in order to prepare for the quest, we had to willingly submit to a ritual.  That turned out to be the Sphinx's betrayal - the ritual turned out to be a geas which compelled us to leave the ruins and forget everything we'd seen there.

We found ourselves traveling back to the Elf Village, not quite sure what had happened to Geoff, but pretty sure we'd killed him.  At least, we convinced ourselves that it was the most likely thing that had happened, since Geoff was no longer with us, and the geas kept us from wanting to go back to find out more.  We decided it was time to leave the island and find Dame Gold.

We'd heard Dame Gold had been kidnapped.  We decided to use the potion of sending to find her.  We waited until we reached the docks, then we sent this message: "We found Hassan.  We had to kill him.  What is your location and status?  Is a rescue possible?"  She replied, telling us the name of the city and her captors.  She was being held in Suderham, a hidden city ruled by the Iron Circle.  We knew the general location, but we would have to search for it when we got there.

We booked a ship, and disembarked in a rowboat near a small coastal town.  We're wanted fugitives, so we had to be careful.  Robb searched around the seedier areas for contacts, looking for ways to find Suderham.  He learned there was a path south of town, rumored to lead to the hidden city.  But because of the slave trade, you needed special permission to leave through the South gate.

We discussed several options. Fly over the wall.  Tunnel under it.  Forge some papers.  Pretend to be slaves.  Take a rowboat farther down the coast and work our way back to the path.  We finally decided to wait until late night and use a Passwall spell to leave town.  There may be further discussion, but so far that looks like the plan we'll put into action when we play again next week.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

OAWYM: Mystic Spiral

Game Date: 4/22/2017
Location: The Game Keep
Campaign: OAWYM, Session 26
Module: Scourge of the Slave Lords
System: D&D 5e
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Halfbeard (Cliff) - Dwarf Fighter
Robb (Daniel) - Human Rogue
Val Ravensword (Matt) - Orc Paladin
Xevrick (Graham) - Elf Mystic

The Session:
Today we continued our exploration of a dungeon we found by accident.  We finished a long rest in a small room, and Robb unlocked the next door we found.  It opened into a large room.  There was a shallow creek running across the floor, a throne in one corner, and a troll.  The troll was trying to find a way to reach a hole in the ceiling.  We could see part of a rope which had broken under the troll's weight.

A few sessions ago we had a bad experience with trolls, but this time we only faced one.  We rushed him.  On the troll's turn, he did a large amount of damage to Halfbeard, but we managed to take the troll down in just over one round.

After the battle, we examined the throne.  It looked like it was encrusted with jewels, but they turned out to be colored glass and semi-precious stones.  There were some ashes in the seat.  Val chopped off a piece of the troll and tossed it onto the throne, and it burst into flames.  We decided not to sit in it.

There was another door on the back wall, locked with a complex wheel mechanism.  It wasn't too complex for the party rogue, and we looked into the next room.  It was an octagonal chamber, containing a huge throne and eight connected cylinders.  Seven of the cylinders were broken, but the remaining one held the body of an elf.

We freed the elf, who was still alive but couldn't remember how he got there.  His name was Xevrick, and he spoke to us using telepathy.  We examined the room while Xevrick tried to remember his past.  We learned that the room was designed to harness the power of psionics, and it had something to do with the demon lord Graz'zt.

We decided to leave the dungeon through the hole in the previous room's ceiling.  We used a telekinesis spell and the broken rope to get everybody out.  We made our way to the nearby Elf village.  Once there, Xevrick met up with the village elder/historian, and caught up on some history.  It turned out Xevrick had been put into suspended animation over 6,000 years ago.

While Xevrick took a trip down memory lane, the rest of us traded with the elves and updated our equipment. This village had a lot of uncommon items in stock, and some decent prices to boot.  We'll have to remember to stop back by every once in a while, assuming we ever come back to this island once we complete our sidequest.  We spent about two weeks of downtime in the elf village before we continued our trip. 

We traveled for a few days in miserable rainy weather.  Eventually we saw a sign that said "Wayfarer's Rest", and a bit later on we found an inn.  The owners were a very nice couple, and they went out of their way to make us feel welcome.  Despite their hospitality, we were suspicious.  This was not a well-traveled road; how in the world did they stay in business?  Before we could talk too much about it, we heard howls outside.

Val accompanied the bartender to close the gate.  Shortly thereafter, a traveling bard banged on the gate, and we let him in.  He introduced himself as the Jeffrey the Troubadour, but after we talked for a while we discovered the he was, in fact, Hassan Gold.  To recap - twelve session ago, Dame Gold hired us to find her brother Hassan, and deliver him a potion to cure his lycanthropy.  Failing that, we were to kill him.  We've long since lost that potion, so we knew we were on an assassination mission.

We asked Hassan about his lycanthropy, and he showed us his bite.  However, he claimed he'd managed to keep the disease at bay so far.  Xevrick has the ability to cure diseases, which he promptly used on Hassan.  A bit anti-climactic, but we'd been off the rails for a while so it was nice to actually accomplish something.  Now cured, Hassan started asking us about Dame Gold.  We began to explain that she'd been kidnapped, when the owners attacked us.

The barmaid used some sort of gaze attack, and Hassan cast slow on us.  Note, we're not 100% sure who's on whose side, but we're pretty sure the gaze put Hassan under the barmaid's control, and that's why he's suddenly turned on us.  But we can't take anything for granted.  We ended the session there, ready to roll initiative.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

OAWYM: Breaking Through The Firewall

Game Date: 3/25/2016
Location: The Game Keep
Campaign: OAWYM, Session 25
System: D&D 5e
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Byzun (Gary) - Human Sorcerer
Halfbeard (Daniel, subbing for Cliff) - Dwarf Fighter
Robb (Daniel) - Human Rogue
Val Ravensword (Matt) - Orc Paladin

The Session:
After resting up at the logging camp, we continued our trip to the second ruins site.  After a day's travel we set up camp for the night.  During Byzun's watch, he failed a spot check and we were ambushed by five trolls. Or were we?  After a tough battle, we found out that four of the trolls may have been a hallucination brought on by the stench of Halfbeard's underwear.  Or something.  Moving on...

We reached the ruins the next day.  We looked around and saw some draconic runes engraved on the old buildings.  We took another rest, after which we heard more troll noises.  We took refuge in a tunnel that turned out to be an animal den.  Robb watched from the hole, and saw about fifteen trolls scouting about.  They found our campsite and destroyed it.  We decided to stay put for a bit.

Since we had time to kill, we explored some other tunnels that branched out from the back of the den.  Two of them led to stone rooms.  We crawled through one, and entered the remains of a wine cellar.  The wine bottles were labeled in draconic.  We put a few aside to give to the elves later.  Down one hallway we found a meat locker, still stocked with meat, kept cool through magic.  Some of the meat came from large lizards, and some came from a six-legged cow.

In another room Val triggered a pit trap and hurt herself on some spikes.  After pulling her out, the party locked the trap and explored the room.  We saw a chair designed to accommodate someone with a tail. There were some empty bookshelves but not much of interest.  We didn't see any other exits from this area, so we headed back to the tunnels, through the den, through another tunnel, and into a stone hallway.

This hallway had a secret door, and some stairs going down.  Robb tripped a collapsing stair trap but managed not to fall in.  He reset and locked the trap so the rest of us could follow.  We found a room with a dining table, a buffet table, and an armoire.  Why the hell does this spellcheck not recognize armoire?  Robb unlocked the armoire, accidentally triggering a trap that hit the party with lightning.  We all saved for half damage.

The armoire contained some ruined pieces of silverware, and sixteen gems worth 50 gold each.  Down another hall we entered a huge lounge room with three doors on the opposite wall.  The first door led to a hallway, but we decided to hold off on that one.  The middle door was made of steel, and locked.  Robb opened it and saw a cell filled with ghouls.  We tried to close and lock it again, but they managed to push it open.

It wasn't a bad fight.  Val planned to try out Turn Undead for the first time, but she was last in initiative, and half the ghouls were dead by her turn.  After the fight, Val noticed that they were ghouls of elves, which normally isn't possible.  We opened door number three, and saw an altar to Tiamat.  There was another door in that room, which led to a T-shaped hallway.  We put off going that way and went back to the first of the three doors in the lounge.

Robb sneaked down a hall and looked around the corner, where he saw a flesh golem.  God damn it, spellcheck, golem is a perfectly common word.  The party tried to tiptoe away, but we're not all as stealthy as Robb, and the golem came after us.  We waited for it in the lounge, and Byzun put a wall of fire across the doorway.  We fought it in the doorway until it finally burst through the fire wall.  We knew the golem didn't like fire, so Byzun concentrated on fire spells, eventually delivering the killing blow.

We ended the session there.  We have three possible directions to explore next session - the flesh golem's hallway, and both directions from the T-junction.



Saturday, March 18, 2017

OAWYM: Another One Bites The Dust

Game Date: 3/18/2016
Location: The Game Keep
Campaign: OAWYM, Session 24
System: D&D 5e
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Byzun (Gary) - Human Sorcerer
Halfbeard (Cliff) - Dwarf Fighter
Malcer (Graham) - Human Monk
Robb (Daniel) - Human Rogue
Val Ravensword (Matt) - Orc Paladin
Tatio - Malcer's Companion

The Session:
Last session we fought a buttload of orcs.  This session, for variety's sake, we fought a buttload of orcs.

After our victory last session, we bedded down in the ruins to recover.  In the middle of the night, a swarm of giant bats came out of the well in the center of the ruins, but they didn't bother us.  A few hours later they returned to the well.  Once we were all well-rested, we looked around the ruins for clues.  We considered going down into the well, but decided to come back another day.  We left the ruins and rode on to the logging camp.

We asked the lumberjacks if they'd seen any werewolves, but they didn't have a lot of information for us.  They did mention having seen Hassan Gold pass through a while back with some companions.  They allowed us to stay the night.  Later that night, we woke to the sound of orc war drums.  The orcs had surrounded the camp.


Our party picked an entrance and joined the loggers in defending the camp.  Halfbeard, Val, and Tatio stayed on the ground, while Byzun, Malcer, and Robb took positions up on the wall.  The camp faced about a hundred orcs, but a good portion of them were handwaved as being in combat with NPCs, so our combat focused on the ones attacking our part of the wall.  We personally faced two chieftains, two warlords on wolfback, an orc witch, twenty-something orc warriors.

Right at the start of battle, one of the wolf riders jumped up on the wall, taking down Malcer before he even had a turn.  Byzun managed to hit eleven orcs with a fireball, killing eight.  The chieftains climbed the wall and fought Byzun and Robb.  One chieftain in particular chased Robb all over the battlefield, while out-of-character we hummed the Benny Hill theme song. 


Byzun took out a few more orcs with an Ice Storm spell.  He also conjured a magic weapon, but so did the orc witch.  When we were finally down to a few enemies, Halfbeard rolled two consecutive crits to finish the last warlord.  His wolf mount tried to flee but Halfbeard killed it with an opportunity attack.  The witch also fled, but she actually managed to get away. 


Unfortunately, Malcer failed three death saves.  After the battle, we helped the loggers gather their dead, attended some funerals, and patched up some of the damage.  The head merchant was so grateful for our help that he gave us a letter of credit for 20,000 gold.  We rested up and ended the session.  Malcer's player is planning to roll up a Mystic for next session.

After the session, our brave DM attempted the Toe of Satan challenge - can he keep the world's hottest lollipop in his mouth for five minutes?  Let's find out:


Saturday, March 4, 2017

OAWYM: Call the Orcan Army

Game Date: 3/4/2016
Location: The Game Keep
Campaign: OAWYM, Session 23
System: D&D 5e
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Byzun (Gary) - Human Sorcerer
Halfbeard (Cliff) - Dwarf Fighter
Malcer (Daniel, subbing for Graham) - Human Monk
Robb (Daniel) - Human Rogue
Val Ravensword (Matt) - Orc Paladin
Tatio - Malcer's Companion

The Session:
Last session we pitted a warship versus a slave ship, and ended up all wet.  Today we started with Malcer, Halfbeard, and Byzun climbing onto a sailing vessel while Val, Robb,and Tatio climbed to shore.  Malcer's group encountered a few Iron Circle sailors, but they were unprepared for a fight.  Halfbeard asked them where their captain was, and they pointed him in the right direction.

Halfbeard tried to intimidate the captain into surrendering, but he wasn't going to go down without a fight.  At first the other sailors just watched the altercation, but after a couple of rounds Val's group climbed onto the ship, and the sailors started to fight back.  It wasn't long before the captain and the four sailors were defeated.  More crew members emerged from below decks, but they surrendered right away. 

We ordered the crew to set sail, and even paid them for their work.  We spent four days sailing to the other side of the island, and docked at a town on the North side.  We ordered the crew to disembark, and sold the ship to a local merchant.

Now to our mission.  Several sessions ago, Dame Gold hired us to find her brother Hassan, in order to cure his lycanthropy.  Failing that, we were to put him out of his misery.  We are no longer in possession of the antidote, so unless we find another cure, we're probably going to have to kill him. 

We asked around town if they knew anything about Hassan Gold, and learned that no one had seen him in a few weeks.  Hassan was an amateur archaeologist, who had been investigating some nearby ruins.  Nobody knew which ruins he had most recently explored, but there were three sites in the area.  The closest was about one day's journey away.

We bought some horses and had our weapons coated in silver.  We headed out in the direction of a logging camp, and stopped at the ruins along the way.  We reached the ruins at night, under a full moon.  We saw what we first thought were some gnolls, and we called out to them.  They appeared to flee, and we started looking for a place to camp for the night.

Alas, it was a trap.  We were soon surrounded by a large number of orcs.  In total we faced 25 opponents: 23 orcs (including a chieftain and a cleric) and two krenshars.  Val spoke to them in Orcish, letting them know we were only looking for werewolves.  The chieftain complimented her Orcish and ordered his troops to allow Val to live.  Then they attacked.

It was a huge, harrowing fight.  Byzun started off with a fireball, which hit five and killed four.  A few rounds later he used another fireball to hit six, killing three.  As the fight went on, we started to form smaller groups.  Val faced three Orcs, while Malcer and Tatio fought seven Orcs and the two Krenshars.  Halfbeard took on the chieftain, Byzun faced the cleric, and Robb used hit-and-run tactics to snipe enemies from a distance. 

Byzun was the first to go down, and we started to get overwhelmed.  The chieftain was very powerful, and took Halfbeard down several times.  Most of us went up and down, getting healed for a few hit points only to go back down the next round.  The only party member to stay on his feet the whole time was Robb, who got chased around the battlefield by the chieftain. 

When Val went down, the Orcs actually went over to her to stabilize her, per the chieftain's orders.  Malcer spent most of the battle unconscious, until finally getting healed by Tatio.  Once up, Malcer dealt a death blow to the chieftain.  The last remaining Orc tried to make a run for it, but Malcer was much faster, and took him down.


The chieftain and the cleric had some nice loot.  Val picked up a set of lightning-resistant plate mail, Byzun acquired a Staff of the Magi, Halfbeard took a +2 breastplate, and Robb wound up with a Ring of Water Elemental Control. We ended the session there, intending to camp for the night.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

OAWYM: Grounding The Warship He Walked On

Game Date: 2/25/2016
Location: The Game Keep
Campaign: OAWYM, Session 22
System: D&D 5e
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Byzun (Gary) - Human Sorcerer
Halfbeard (Cliff) - Dwarf Fighter
Malcer (Graham) - Human Monk
Marcella (Lanessa) - Human Bard
Robb (Daniel) - Human Rogue
Val Ravensword (Matt) - Orc Paladin
Virgil (Nick) - Human Fighter
Tatio - Malcer's Companion

The Session:
I missed a couple of sessions, during which the party continued clearing out a temple occupied by Iron Circle slavers.  After several more battles, they found a large amount of money and some legal documents.  Then fled the temple and returned to our safe house in Highport.  We spent some downtime studying the documents and deciding our next course of action.

We learned of a slaver caravan that had recently left Highport headed South.  We decided to track it down and rescue the slaves.  We started out on foot, then bought some horses in the first village we passed through.  Then we spent several days traveling on horseback.  At one point we spied a large group of Orcs in the forest, who were busy looting a wagon.  We managed to sneak by their encampment without being detected, and continued on.

Then we traveled through Goblin territory.  We expected a few fights, but they just asked us to pay a small toll.  They drew marks on us so later Goblins would know we paid the toll, and we made it through their land without incident.  Next we went through Gnoll territory, and had pretty much the same experience, although their method of marking us was a bit more disgusting.

Next we reached a keep occupied by Hobgoblins.  Marcella used a disguise spell to make herself look like one of the Iron Circle officials, and we bluffed our way through the encounter.  Marcella explored the gatehouse a little bit, saw some luminescent spiders, and was intrigued by some footprints leading to a window.  We let the horses rest for a couple of hours and went on our way.

Eventually we reached the Southern port.  There were just a few buildings and a dock.  We saw three docked ships - a warship, a sailing vessel, and a galley slave ship.  We had our sneakier party members check out the buildings first, but didn't find much of interest.  Then we started looking at the ships.

Marcella decided to check out the slave ship, while Robb sabotaged the warship.  Robb stealthily made his way to the warship's armory, intending to ignite a powder keg.  Meanwhile, Marcella used another disguise spell in hopes of locating the slaves.  She found them in the belly of the galley, but some Orc guards stopped her and asked her why she was there.


Marcella tried to intimidate them, but that only initiated combat that much faster.  She started out by casting Thunderwave, which caused enough noise to alert the rest of the party back at the docks.  We made our way to the ship to see if she needed help.  Marcella quickly found herself surrounded, but managed to end the battle using a Charm spell.  The Orcs allowed her to leave in peace, but they wouldn't let her release the slaves.

Byzun, Val, Virgil, and Tatio climbed onto the upper deck of the ship, where they got into a fight with several guards and sailors.  Halfbeard stayed behind for a couple of rounds, but eventually made his way to the ship to join the fight.  Malcer kept failing his Athletics checks to climb aboard the ship, and spent a few rounds flopping about in the water.

When we were down to just a couple of enemies, several more guards and sailors arrived.  One of the newcomers was the ship's captain, a woman wielding a flaming longsword.  A few rounds later, even more enemies joined the fight.  Marcella found herself overwhelmed by guards, and was killed.  As a Revenant, though, she will come back to life in 24 hours.

While all this was going on, Robb was still on the warship.  He found a barrel of gunpowder, and used a candle as a fuse.  He lit it and ran, jumping out a window right as it ignited.  Back on the galley ship, Byzun cast a Fireball spell at the warship, killing a few sailors and damaging it further.  The warship knew it was under attack, and began firing its cannons at the slave ship.

We were down to three or four enemies on the slave ship, when we started getting bombarded by the warship's cannon fire.  It did massive damage to the slave ship, and everyone - friend and foe alike - started abandoning ship.  Halfbeard grabbed the captain's body as he jumped overboard, so he could loot it later.  Nobody was near enough to Marcella's body to grab it, so it went down with the ship.  As did the slaves, unfortunately.

The remaining enemies fled into the night once they made it ashore, and our party began to regroup.  We ended the session there. The slave ship is gone, the warship is damaged and burning (but still operative), and we haven't decided what to do next. Malcer has indicated he wants to board the sailing ship, but I think most of us would rather hide out on land somewhere.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

OAWYM: More Stuff Happens

Game Date: 1/22/2016
Location: The Game Keep
Campaign: OAWYM, Session 19
System: Shadow of the Demon Lord
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Halfbeard (Cliff) - Dwarf Fighter
Malcer (Daniel, subbing for Graham) - Human Warlock
Robb (Daniel) - Human Rogue
Val Ravensword (Matt) - Orc Paladin
Tatio - Malcer's Companion

The Session:
When we left off, we'd been stopped by a room with a collapsed floor, had started backtracking through the dungeon, and ran into a party of orcs.  With poor attendance this session, we briefly considered fleeing back to the floorless room, but Halfbeard charged right in and we were committed to the fight.  We spent the early rounds fighting in the doorway, with Halfbeard taking most of the damage while the rest of us couldn't get in position to be of much help.

As each orc went down, the rest of us gradually worked our way into the room.  Melcer used a Font of Healing spell, which helped us a bit.  One orc fumbled, breaking his weapon.  Val finished off the last foe with some unusually high rolls (for her).  The battle won, we continued backtracking to a secret door we'd found near the entrance of the dungeon.

We still couldn't find a way to disable the trap, so everyone stood back while Val set it off.  A spiked plate thumped against the other side of the door, Val took a few points of damage, and we entered the room.  This room wasn't worth the hype.  It was pretty much empty, but we could tell that one brick wall was much newer than the others.  Halfbeard managed to remove a brick, but couldn't see much on the other side.  He could hear something moving around, however, so we decided not to break through that way. 

We went back to the collapsed room where we'd fought the ghouls, and climbed up to a higher level.  From there we could see a courtyard below.  Robb fastened a rope and climbed down into a courtyard, while Val prepared to follow.  Then a big lizard came around the corner, and we had to make will checks.  Val and Robb each took a point of insanity, and couldn't take our eyes off the lizard.

Robb climbed back up the rope.  The basilisk did not follow.  We climbed back down into the ghoul room, and went back to the room with the missing floor.  Robb used his acrobatic prowess to cross the room, carrying one end of a rope.  With both ends fastened to opposite sides of the room, the rest of us had an easier time getting across the rickety boards. Halfbeard fell right at the end, took some damage, and we pulled him back up.  Malcer also had a lot of trouble getting across, but he made it.

At the other end, we saw more hallways and doors to choose from.  We listened to a door on our left, and heard some conversations.  We went on into the room, which turned out to be the stables.  There were four men shooting the breeze.  Val started to talk to them, but a fight was inevitable.  As we fought three of the guys, the one in the back started blowing a horn and calling for help. He exited through a door in the back, and six more orcs came running to join the battle.

Meanwhile, Melcer was attacked from behind by an "Organ Filch", a creepy Jack-the-Ripper / Phantom-of-the-Opera -looking dude, wielding a scalpel. This was a pretty difficult fight, and we used up a lot of healing resources.  The good news was that the cramped room kept us from getting surrounded, so we rarely faced more than three enemies at a time.  Robb finished off the Organ Filch.  When we were down to three enemies, Melcer hit them with a Fiery Volley, taking out one and nearly finishing the other two.  Halfbeard killed the final orc.

We hid the bodies in the loft, made sure we didn't see anyone else coming, and continued exploring the hallways.  In the side hall, we found a couple of rooms that were empty except for some rubble, and another set of stairs down.  The main hall rounded a corner and ended with two sets of double doors, one on each side of the hallway.  We looked through one of them, and saw what looked like a cemetery, with a big mausoleum-type building in the middle.

We thought about checking it out, but we needed to rest before going much further.  We took shelter in one of the empty rubble rooms, and ended the session.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

OAWYM: Some Stuff Happens

Game Date: 1/14/2016
Location: The Game Keep
Campaign: OAWYM, Session 18
System: Shadow of the Demon Lord
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Byzun (Gary) - Human Sorcerer
Halfbeard (Cliff) - Dwarf Fighter
Malcer (Graham) - Human Warlock
Robb (Daniel) - Human Rogue
Val Ravensword (Matt) - Orc Paladin
Tatio - Malcer's Companion

The Session:
Last week we arrived in Highport, and our bard nearly got in a fight with another group of adventurers at the inn. Val calmed them down, bought them a round, and sat with them for a while.  She learned that they had recently looted some ruins, and were hoping to join the Iron Circle.  They finally left for the night, and we went to bed.  The next morning we realized that one member of that party was the Halfling we were supposed to contact in Highport.

We poked around town, greased some palms, and found our contact again in a boarding house called "The Swinging Man."  The Halfling was reluctant to see us at first, but we talked our way in with our usual charm. We showed him a note from the captain who sold us into slavery.  It took a bribe, but he finally told us about a nearby temple being used by the Iron Circle, and where to find the secret back entrance.

We watched the temple from a distance, paying attention to the patrols.  There was a lot of activity, with many beings going in and out of the main gates, including Orcs, Humans, and we even spotted some Ghouls.  We went around back and used the secret entrance, closing the door behind us as another patrol came into view.  We found ourselves in a narrow hallway.

We discovered a trapped secret door on our right, but walked on by because we couldn't disable the trap.  Another hallway was full of skeletons.  Malcer detected them as magical, so Val decided to decapitate them as she made her way through the room.  After dispatching the first one, the rest of them stood up to fight us.  It wasn't a difficult fight, but the narrow hallway did complicate things. 
 

Val killed one with a single hit, and Malcer damaged three with a sunlight spell. The melee fighters kept having to charge past each other, but each skeleton only took a couple of hits to kill.  During the fight, Val fumbled and broke her armor.  Once we'd killed the final skeleton, we proceeded around a corner where we found a charred door.  We broke down the door and entered the next room.


This room was a mess.  It looked like the ceiling had collapsed, and the furniture was charred.  We were attacked by several undead - five Ghouls and three "Dessicated Ones".  Most of the room was rough terrain, but it was a small room so not a lot of movement was necessary anyway.  Our enemies had attacks that would drain our blood, causing fatigue.  Malcer hit five of them with a meteor spell early on, greatly shortening the battle.  Tatio made the final killing blow.

We broke through another door, went through a short hallway, and looked into the next room.  In this one, the floor was mostly gone, giving us a good view into the cellar far below.  There was still a bit of a ledge around the room, and some fallen beams that could be used to cross.  But it looked very dangerous, and most of us don't have high agility.  We turned around, intending to more thoroughly examine the trapped door we'd passed earlier.


However, as we reentered the Ghoul room, we met an Orc patrol entering from the opposite door.  We saw five Orcs, all wearing Iron Circle armor, and we ended the session there.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

OAWYM: Deus Ex Machina

Game Date: 1/7/2016
Location: The Game Keep
Campaign: OAWYM, Session 17
System: Shadow of the Demon Lord
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Byzun (Gary) - Human Sorcerer
Malcer (Gary, subbing for Graham) - Human Warlock
Marcella (Lanessa) - Human Bard
Tamir (Other Matt) - Human Archer
Robb (Daniel) - Human Rogue
Val Ravensword (Matt) - Orc Paladin
Dene Ledford - Val's Companion
Tatio - Malcer's Companion

The Session:
I missed the last couple of sessions, during which the party was captured by the Iron Circle, stripped of their equipment, and put to work aboard a slave ship.  I can't leave them alone for a minute.  They eventually broke out, tried to set the ship on fire, and made their way up to the deck.  We reached the door to the deck, and found the captain waiting for us, along with many crewmen.

We closed the door and tried to come up with a plan.  We were vastly outnumbered, had no armor, and only improvised weapons.  Out of character, we spent about an hour pondering various possibilities, like breaking through the walls or running out the door to jump overboard.  From the other side of the door, the captain taunted us, offering to forget this transgression if we allowed him to kill half the party.

Finally we decided to overwhelm them with sheer numbers.  The other slave rowers had refused our help earlier, but now Marcella sang a song that charmed them into helping us.  This came at a price - for any slaves that died under Marcella's charm, we would receive corruption points.  We went back to the door, shouted our best "LEEEROY JEENKINS" and swarmed the deck.

At first it was working.  The slave rowers could only do one point of damage per turn, and went down after one hit, but there were so many of them that it kept the enemies from targeting us as often.  We disarmed a couple of the enemies so we could arm ourselves, and this put us on more even ground.  But we still had no armor, so we took a lot of damage.

As the slaves died, we took a lot of corruption points, occasionally requiring us to roll for Marks of Darkness.  Robb received a permanent wound that oozes black sludge when he's angry.  Byzun gained a silver pentagram on his forehead.  And odd cry can be heard whenever Tamir speaks.  Marcella is now allergic to holy symbols, and she gained eight insanity points.

We kept hacking away, and it looked as if we might actually have a chance.  Then one of the bad guys cast a sleep spell which took out nearly all our remaining rowers at once, as well as a few main party members.  We knew at this point that a TPK was inevitable, so we decided we at least wanted to take out the captain first.  Dene spent his next couple of turns waking up Byzun and Marcella.  Tatio was killed by a "Killing Touch" spell, and Melcer was incapacitated.

Val dealt a killing blow to the captain, and we started calling for the surrender of the rest of the crew.  Of course they didn't surrender.  Worse, the captain stood back up, reanimated.  Then Marcella was killed.  We knew we were toast.

And then...

Dene exploded.  An incinerating blast spread outward from Val's companion, disintegrating everyone on the deck, except for our party members.  Iron Circle crewmen and rower slaves alike turned into ash, and we stood there astonished.  Dene had transformed into an avatar of the Raven Queen, Val's patron deity.  Val fell to her knees in worship.

The Raven Queen told us that it was too soon for us to die, as she still had need of our services.  She revealed that a renegade god was trying to seize power, and that we needed to continue our voyage to Highport.  She brought Tatio and Marcella back to life as revenants, and removed some of the corruption we'd received during the fight.

After the Raven Queen left, we searched the ship until we found our stolen equipment.  As an ex-pirate, Marcella took charge and had us sail the ship to Highport.  About a week later we pulled into the docks and disembarked.  We visited the blacksmith to remove our remaining manacles, and booked a hotel room.  We asked around town for information, but didn't find any.

At the inn, we saw another group of adventurers celebrating and dividing up loot.  Marcella offered to sing them a song about our exploits, but they kept putting her off.  Finally deciding they were being rude, Marcella smacked one of them.  We ended the session there.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

OAWYM: Decisions, Decisions...

Game Date: 11/26/2016
Location: The Game Keep
Campaign: OAWYM, Session 14
System: Shadow of the Demon Lord
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Byzun (Gary) - Human Sorcerer
Grim Stormheart (Eric) - Dwarf Assassin
Malcer (Graham) - Human Warlock
Val Ravensword (Matt) - Orc Paladin
Dene Ledford - Val's Companion
Tatio - Malcer's Companion

The Session:
I missed last session, but I'm told they continued to party in town, met lots of new people, and Byzun got in a fight with a false prophet. Today the High Priest of Sarthal met with Byzun.  The priest asked about battle with the prophet, and gave Byzun a pouch full of money.  When the hour of the Feast arrived, we all put on our formal attire, and enjoyed a night of food, shmoozing, and dancing.

Dene wanted to dance with Val as much as possible, but other guests kept cutting in.  One woman in particular kept asking Val to dance, which angered Dene.  Val managed to calm Dene down, promising to dance with him more in the future.  (Note to self: Decide Val's sexual orientation.)  Later in the night, as our party all sat down together, Dame Gold joined us and asked a favor.  She wanted us to meet her just before dawn, to discuss another job.  We got in a night's rest, and went to meet with the Dame.

Gold swore us to absolute secrecy, then revealed that her brother was stricken with lycanthropy.  This brother, Hassan Gold, was currently bedridden in another city, on an island about a week's journey away.  Dame Gold gave us a potion that would cure Hassan's disease.  The catch is that it only has about 40 days of potency left, so time is of the essence.  The current protector of the potion, a Dwarf named Grim, was assigned to join us.  We left right away, riding towards a coastal town where we intended to book a ship.

After a few hours on the road, we realized we were being followed.  One of Gold's servants was riding hard to catch up with us.  His horse gave out and we turned around to speak to him.  "Disaster!" he gasped, and told us that Gold's manor had been raided and burned.  We rode back and investigated.  The manor was indeed now in ruins, many were dead, and many more were missing.  The Dame was nowhere to be found.

We looked for clues.  Rumor had it that the raiders left in ships with black sails.  We found a dead raider, who sported a blue and orange fish tattoo.  We discovered a journal in his possession, poorly written but still useful.  Between the journal entries and the direction the ships were seen retreating, we estimated where we could find the raiders.  Having memorized the contents of the journal, Malcer handed it over to the guards.

So now we faced a big decision.  Two possible quests - Continue to deliver the cure to Hassan, or follow the raiders and hopefully rescue Dame Gold?  It was a tough call, and we talked it over for a bit.

Hassan's medicine delivery had a strict time limit, due both to the potency of the potion and the advancement of his disease.  Besides, even if we did rescue the Dame, she probably wouldn't be too happy to see us if it meant we'd let her brother die.  On the other hand, if Dame Gold dies, there will be no one to pay us for saving Hassan.  And Gold's situation might have an even tighter schedule than Hassan's.  It's hard to say since we don't even know who has her and what they're planning to do with her.

We finally decided Hassan was the more pressing of the two.  We booked an inn in town, intending to leave at first light.  Before bed, we sat down in the inn's tavern to talk about the situation.  Soon a messenger entered and told Val to meet him outside.  Val went out alone, but told Dene to watch from the door.  When Val got outside, the messenger was gone, but a Tiefling was waiting for her.

He told her that the Iron Circle wasn't finished, and handed her a bloody sack.  The bag contained the head of one of our former contacts, a man who had helped us fight the Iron Circle earlier.  Then the Tiefling drew his sword.  Val charged, and the fight was on.  Dene reentered the inn and alerted the rest of the party.  Meanwhile, a Dark Adept and an Iron Defender joined the fight outside.

The fight lasted a few rounds.  Val hit the Tiefling with Divine Smite, taking off a large chunk of hit points.  Most of the party surrounded the Iron Defender, and Tatio finished it off when it provoked an opportunity attack.  The Dark Adept channeled "The Fury of the Demon Lord", which amplified his powers.  Byzun kept losing control of his magic, making small explosions at the end of each round, one of which finished off the Tiefling.

The Dark Adept cast a large zone of darkness, but Grim and Val had no problem seeing in it, so they continued to whack at him.  Tatio dealt the killing blow, ending the battle.  We stood there a moment, pondering the ramifications of this encounter.

So... at this very moment, the Iron Circle might be reasserting their power back in Albridge, rendering our previous victory moot.  Meanwhile, Hassan Gold is dying and needs the medicine in our possession.  And meanwhile, Dame Gold may be the captive of raiders, facing an uncertain fate.  Three possible quests, all needing immediate attention.

We turned in for the night, and ended the session there.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

OAWYM: Here's Your Skull

Game Date: 11/12/2016
Location: The Game Keep
Campaign: OAWYM, Session 12
System: Shadow of the Demon Lord
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Byzun (Gary) - Human Sorcerer
Robb (Daniel) - Human Rogue
Val Ravensword (Matt) - Orc Paladin
Dene Ledford - Val's Companion

The Session:
Last week we defeated Lord Nazin Redthorn, and returned to town. We did a few things in town and prepared to head for Sarthel, where we're supposed to deliver a magic skull.  We were also pursuing some of the remaining Iron Circle terrorists, but they had a couple of days head start. 

We left a few party members in Albridge to help wrap things up, but they'll catch up to us later.  After half a day on horseback, we passed through Harken village, where everyone was putting out fires and tending to their wounded.  The Iron Circle had attempted to torch the village on their way through. 

We kept on, eventually camping in the Elven woods.  Just before dawn, we saw some magical sparks around our campfire, and heard some laughter.  Some invisible fey creatures were teasing us.  Val set out some treats for them, and they left us alone.  We rode on through the day.

The next night, a giant spider called a Shadoweaver attacked us during the night.  It had the ability to vanish at will, and it did so after every attack.  It had some powerful poison attacks, but we outnumbered it and took it down in a couple of rounds.  Robb managed to harvest some spidersilk from the corpse.  The next morning we continued our ride.

The next town was called Bell Well.  It had a lot of empty buildings, but the remaining population was pleasant enough.  We stopped at a saloon/pawn shop called "The Cock and Balls".  The proprietor was very friendly, and we bought some potions and had a nice meal before resuming our trek. 

The woods thinned out and we rode on through some meadows, until we reached a crossroads.  There we faced a group of Iron Circle soldiers.  Two Lackeys, another iron dog, and a Watch Commander.  We thought it was going to be a fight, but we managed to convince them that we'd been sent by Lord Nazin.  They let us pass and we rode on.

We reached a caravan of merchants called the "White House".  It was the same merchant company that had hired us earlier, and they let us join them.  The next five days were uneventful, and we finally reached Sarthel, the City of Silver.  It was impressive, larger and fancier than any cities we'd visited to date.  As we entered we were warned that the unauthorized use of magic is not allowed in this city.

We asked the White House where to find our contact, Dame Gold.  We were directed to a large manor in the nicest section of town.  The Dame greeted us and led us into her lab, where she opened the box and examined the skull.  Satisfied with the artifact, she paid us and asked us to stay for a while.  There is a party coming up in a few days, "The Feast of Edoira", and she would like us to attend.  We agreed, and she even gave us a little extra money to buy some nice clothes.

We did a bit of shopping in town, and ended the session.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

OAWYM: Have Fun Storming The Castle

Game Date: 11/5/2016
Location: The Game Keep
Campaign: OAWYM, Session 11
System: Shadow of the Demon Lord
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Byzun (Gary) - Human Sorcerer
Corbin (Daniel) - Human Wizard
Falling Leaf (Skye) - Pixie Sorcerer
Malcer (Graham) - Human Oracle
Val Ravensword (Matt) - Orc Paladin

NPC Companions:
Dene Ledford - Val's Companion
Robb - Corbin's Companion
Tatio - Malcer's Companion

The Session:
I missed one session, in which we escaped from prison and rescued the Baron Stockmer from his own keep.  Today we returned to the keep so we could confront the evil Lord Nazin Redthorn.  The pixie Falling Leaf joined our party, and we approached the keep after dark.  We considered several plans before finally sending in our invisible pixie friend.

Falling Leaf went in through one of the arrow slits, and saw several sleeping Iron Circle soldiers.  She explored several rooms of the keep, passing through the kitchen and going up two flights of stairs.  On the third floor she found a room full of enemies, including a clockwork dog.  The dog detected Falling Leaf, so she proceeded back down the stairs as fast as possible. 

She returned to the party and gave us the layout of the keep.  We decided to sneak in and take out the sleeping guards.  Falling Leaf used a shrink spell on the door, and we entered through the kitchen.  One of the guards was awake, and the fight was on.  After we took him out, we went into the adjoining room and killed the sleeping soldiers there.  Then we started up the stairs.

On the second floor we fought two more soldiers, one of which started knocking loudly on a side door.  We finished him off, but the door opened revealing a room full of foes, and more enemies started coming down the stairs from the third floor.  We faced several assorted baddies, including a Tiefling spellcaster, that mechanical dog, and Lord Nazin himself. 

The battle took a while, and it was difficult because of the layout of the room.  With the one doorway and the narrow stairs, we had to do a bit of repositioning to let all our melee fighters reach the enemies.  Falling Leaf had a plethora of healing spells and kept us on our feet.  Lord Nazin had a lot of hit points, but we managed to keep him prone and blinded for much of the battle.  Our most dangerous foe was the Tiefling, because she kept casting dangerous spells.

Eventually we finished off Nazin.  Corbin dealt the final blow.  But then the Tiefling cast a spell that made Corbin's eyeballs explode.  He is now permanently blind, at least until we find a way to regenerate his eyes.  When it was down to three enemies, one of them fled, provoking three OAs which killed him. The final two enemies surrendered.  We tied up the prisoners, took Nazin's head, and returned to town.

Afterthoughts:
So far this has been a D&D 5e campaign, but today we decided to play using Shadow of the Demon Lord rules.  I'm enjoying learning the new system.  I love D&D 5e, but I also like shiny new things and this one is pretty interesting.  I like the simplicity of it, and the variety of races.  I hope to play a pixie of my own at some point. 

The fact that it was so easy to make Corbin's eyes explode is a bit of a concern for me.  I'm not a very hardcore player, and at our level we shouldn't be facing a lot of "save or die" spells.  But SotL appears to be a more deadly system than D&D.  Officially I'm not fond of tough systems like that, but it fits the mood I've been in lately.  Only time will tell if I enjoy playing this as much as D&D, but for now I'm happy to give it a few months.


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Shadow of the Demon Lord: First Impressions

Game Date: 10/22/2016
Location: The Game Keep
System: Shadow of the Demon Lord
DM: Rusty

The Party:
B'omarr (Matt) - Clockwork
Grakas (Gary) - Gnome
Torstein (Daniel) - Jotun/Skinchanger

The Session:
Today we didn't have enough people for our normal game, so we tried out a new game - well, new to me, anyway.  Not knowing much about the system, I decided to roll all of my character's traits randomly, including the race (or "ancestry").  I was pleasantly surprised at how quick character creation was.

I ended up with a spider-shaped construct with a religious background.  A devotee and temple ward of the "Cult of the New God", he was the last survivor when a plague wiped out his temple.  Now he wanders the world looking for a place to fit in. He has a strange and unsettling appearance, and has a determined and obnoxious personality.  I named him B'omarr, and if anyone at the table got the Star Wars reference, they didn't mention it.

My companions were a gnome named Grakas, and a giant wereboar named Torstein. We were an odd looking party, with Torstein towering over the rest of us.  We had been hired to protect a caravan which was on its way to a small town called Fletcher's Rest.  A group of bandits had ambushed the caravan, and the three of us had fled into the woods.  We began the session lost in the woods, hoping to find our way to town.

We spent a long time wandering through the woods, making really bad checks, and climbing trees to get our bearings.  Eventually we came upon the bandit camp, but saw more enemies than we thought we could handle, and retreated without being seen.  We kept wandering until it was too dark to continue, and we camped for the night.

The next day we continued getting lost, until finally five bandits attacked us.  As the fight began, Torstein picked up both Grakas and B'omarr and tried to make a run for it.  It was a hilarious sight, this giant fleeing from the humans, holding a gnome and a mechanical spider under his arms.  The bandits were faster than us, so we didn't get too far.  We did manage to leave two of the bandits behind, but the other three stayed on us.

We realized we weren't going to be able to stay away from them, so we fought.  We traded blow for blow until there was only one bandit left.  It was close, but we managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  As the largest target, Torstein went down first.  Grakas and B'omarr kept on hitting, but we just couldn't hack it.  With his last breath, Grakas exploded (apparently gnomes can do that here), which finished off our party but not the bandit.  TPK.

Afterthoughts and First Impressions:
Shadow of the Demon Lord is a very interesting game, but I didn't get to see a lot of the really distinctive elements of the system.  So forgive me if I'm way off base on some of my impressions.  Before the game I jumped around the rulebook, skimming here, skipping there, and giving a few sections an in-depth reading.  But that's no substitute for actual gameplay, and I can't wait to see more.

I'm not in love with the title of the game.  "Shadow of the Demon Lord" sounds more like a module than a system.  However, I'm used to playing games with more universal applications - meaning, D&D rules work well for a lot of different fantasy universes (Greyhawk, Dark Sun, Eberron, etc).  But SotDL's rules appear to be designed to complement the world in which it takes place, and might be more difficult to divorce from the setting.  In that context, "Shadow of the Demon Lord" is a perfectly appropriate title, but it still wouldn't have been my first choice.

I notice the rulebook has a Forward, a Preface, and an Introduction... clearly these people have difficulty getting things started.  But now I'm nitpicking.  My next issue was that there weren't enough races in the core rulebook.  I've since learned that there are a lot more in the splatbooks, but I'm such a fan of fantastic races that I would have liked more available in the core book.  I do like how they allow humans to have a wide variety of unusual skin colors. 

There are several unusual mechanics, some of which I've considered in my own homebrew RPG ideas.  At level one, you don't have a class, just your race.  You don't get experience points, instead the entire party levels when it seems appropriate to the story.  There is no rolling initiative, instead the party goes in whatever order they like, partly based on how many things they want to do on their turn.  These are all really fun things, I definitely approve. 

There's a boon/bane system for adding extra d6's to help/hurt your d20 rolls.  It's interesting, but I haven't decided if I like it yet.  Rolling multiple d6's and only taking the largest roll is a great way to set a maximum result (6), but still have a point to rolling extra dice (for the extra chances of getting that 6).  It keeps the math from getting out of hand but still motivates you to get as many boons as possible.  Not long ago I was telling a friend about the “Hero Kids RPG” (I keep hoping he’ll try to get his kid interested in RPGs, but it ain’t gonna happen), which uses that sort of rolling throughout.

I did not get to see the Insanity rules in action, which is a shame because it looks like a major part of the system.  Whenever I see “Insanity” on a character sheet, I know it’s going for a specific genre.  Most systems have sanity rules in there somewhere (even if it’s just effects from specific monsters), but if they actually have you track it on the character sheet, you can expect it to be used with some regularity. 

I’m generally skeptical of insanity rules, because I’m afraid some DMs will overuse the concept.  I think some will have you have you roll sanity checks in situations that most people would find scary and disgusting, but not necessarily insanity-inducing.  Call of Cthulhu gets a pass because the creatures actually have psychic powers that can damage mental stability.  I assume SotDL’s universe has something similar (probably involving the eponymous Demon Lord and the whole “the end of the world is coming” theme), but I haven’t seen those elements yet.

Exactly what has the potential to drive people insane is obviously going to vary from person to person.  I once knew someone who lost four family members simultaneously (both parents, sibling and sibling’s spouse), due to a bad car wreck.  She had a nervous breakdown, quit her job, and moved to another state to live with some other family members.  Of course she didn’t go insane, but it was a few weeks before she could handle the stresses of everyday life.

I recently read the creepypasta “NoEnd House” (because it’s going to be a TV miniseries next year), and while it’s no “The Shining”, it had some imagery in there that I could see challenging someone’s sanity.

And now that I've typed all that it occurs to me that I'm basically talking about the plot of "The Killing Joke".  The Joker has a very bad day and it drives him insane, so he wants to prove that everyone's sanity is just as fragile.  But his experiment fails, because that's not how sanity works.  It's not just about bad experiences or seeing something brutal.  For most, there's either a chemical imbalance in the brain, or an entire childhood full of unhealthy experiences that keep the adult mind from being able to handle stress.  In the Joker's case, it could have been either of those (or something else), and his bad day was just the straw that broke the camel's back. I'm not saying an adult can't be driven insane by a few isolated incidents, but I doubt it's common enough to be tracked on a character sheet.

Note I feel the same way about fear effects in D&D.  If a creature has a magical fear aura, fine.  But being afraid just because it’s a dragon or zombie – when that character is a professional warrior who has already defeated both creature types in the past – is silly.  It just seems sort of random to me when this brave fighter hacks his way through dozens of monster-filled rooms, then suddenly turns around and flees because this monster’s a little scarier looking.  But in "All Flesh Must Be Eaten" (for example), the fear effects made a lot more sense. It's all about the setting.

Anyway, I obviously have strong feelings about the how insanity and fear are instituted in RPGs, but I'll hold of judgement here until I've seen it in action.

Final Thoughts:
I don't know if I would want to play this game indefinitely.  D&D will probably always be my go-to game for long running campaigns.  But I'd love to play SotDL for a few months at a time.  It looks simple enough to learn quickly, and it uses several ideas I would have thought of myself.  It's a bit dark for my tastes, in fact the entire setting is depressing to the core.  As a fan of optimistic stories, I don't know if my psyche could take this degree of grimdark week after week.  But overall it looks like a blast to play.   And lets face it, I automatically approve of any system where gnomes explode.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

OAWYM: Not Our Finest Hour

Game Date: 8/27/2016
Location: The Game Keep
Campaign: OAWYM, Session 9
System: D&D 5e
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Corbin (Daniel) - Human Cleric/Wizard
Byzun (Gary) - Human Sorcerer
Malcer (Graham) - Human Warlock
Val Ravensword (Matt) - Half-Orc Paladin

NPC Companions:
Dene Ledford - Val's Companion
Robb - Corbin's Companion
Tatio - Malcer's Companion

The Session:
We began the session still at war.  The Iron Circle have been advancing on Albridge, and last week we fought a couple of skirmishes.  Today we took a short rest and kept on going.  Since their players weren't present, Marcella and Tamir headed for town to help the fight there, while the rest of us proceeded to a more active battlefield.

This group was led by a Champion, local leader of the Iron Circle.  We also faced several of his Rabble minions, a Brigand (who was ordered to protect the Champion's horse), and a pair of Tar Devils.  We won initiative, but didn't manage to get much accomplished in the first round.  On the Champion's first round, he hit Val hard and she went down.  Bad omen.  Corbin revived Val with a healing potion on his turn, but next round she went right back down again, along with Corbin.  Finally Dene revived Val, who revived Corbin.

We discovered the Champion was more powerful when adjacent to his teammates, so we decided to take out those weaker minions as quickly as possible.  Malcer dropped three Rabble at once with Burning Hands, and we gradually picked off a couple more.  The final Rabble did an impressive job of surviving, taking multiple hits and nearly escaping before going down. Val tried using her Channel Divinity to turn the Tar Devils, but they both made their saving throws.

Corbin concentrated his attacks on the Brigand, who was too busy protecting the horse to fight back much.  Once Corbin managed to get a good hit in, and used that opportunity to hop on the horse and ride away.  His companion Robb also disengaged and fled.  The rest of us were unconscious by this point.  Having won the battle, the evil Champion stabilized us and took us prisoner.  Corbin and Robb returned to Albridge, where the battle was almost over.

With their leader distracted by us, the people of Albridge had managed to drive away their foes.  The Iron Circle returned to their keep (Harkenwold), with their prisoners. We ended the session there.

Coming up:
Val, Byzun, Malcer, Dene, and Tatio are now prisoners being held in the keep. Either they will try to escape from within, or Corbin, Robb, Tamir, and Marcella will try to break them out.  Or perhaps both will happen at the same time. On the bright side, we've received the benefits of an extended rest.

Will they try to sneak into the keep or go for a frontal assault?  Will the people of Albridge help us in our rescue attempts?  Will the now-fired Brigand change sides and help us out?  Tune in next week!

Sneak preview of the keep.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

OAWYM: War!

Game Date: 8/20/2016
Location: The Game Keep
Campaign: OAWYM, Session 8
System: D&D 5e
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Corbin (Daniel) - Human Clizard
Byzun (Gary) - Human Sorcerer
Malcer (Graham) - Human Warlock
Marcella (Lanessa) - Human Bard
Tamir (Other Matt) - Human Archer
Val Ravensword (Matt) - Half-Human Paladin

NPC Companions:
Dene Ledford - Val's Companion
Robb - Corbin's Companion
Tatio - Malcer's Companion

The Session:
Last week we killed an undead wizard.  Today we took a long rest, then returned to our Elven questgivers.  This secured our relationship with the Elves, who agreed to send fifty archers to aid our war with the Iron Circle.  Having sealed this agreement, we returned to our Druid questgiver.  The Druid told us to head back to town to see the Dar, the leader of the resistance.

The Iron Circle's army was marching towards the town.  We had two days to plan before they got here.  The resistance had gathered fighters from various nearby farms and towns.  We discussed various traps, making the bridge into a chokepoint, where to put barricades, and combat tactics.  When we finally felt we were ready, we skipped forward to the battle itself. 

We hard our first skirmish in a farmhouse before the bridge.  As several soldiers marched by, we caught their attention and rolled initiative.  We faced twelve foes, including an acid-spitting drake.  The drake won initiative, taking off half of Val's hit points with his lethal loogie.  We had a decent opening round - Tamir killed one right off, and Marcella and Malcer each hit multiple targets with Shatter. 

But the drake kept using his acid spit, which would harm several of us at once with its splash damage.  And the head soldier had a sweeping blow move that could hit all adjacent targets.  So we did well, but we took a lot of damage.  It finally came down to the boss, one soldier, and the drake.  Val took out the boss, and the remaining soldier tried to make a run for it.  Corbin's companion Rob ended up finishing off both the soldier and the drake.

We managed to squeeze in a short rest while we traveled to the next battle point.  One of the resistance rode up to us and told us Dar needed our help.  He pointed us in the right direction, and warned us that some of our enemies weren't human.  We caught up to the fight, and faced nine enemies.  It was a mix of cutthroats, rabble, a cleric, and two "Tar Devils" (which we dubbed "Tarduckens"). 

The Tar Devils were particularly vicious.  They could restrain us in flaming nets, pulling us to them where there was a zone of flaming tar.  They were also resistant to our weapons.  Several of us went down multiple times in this fight, and we used up almost all of our healing resources.  The evil cleric kept hitting Val with "Inflict Wounds" which took her down to zero twice.  Eventually Val delivered the killing blow to the cleric. 

Rob killed the last cutthroat, leaving us with just the two Tar Devils.  It was especially stressful because whenever a Tar Devil brought one of us down to zero, that meant the unconscious body was adjacent to them in their damage-inducing zone.  This meant our death saves would auto fail, so we had to try to rescue downed party members as quickly as possible.  The zone also slowed us down, so it was that much harder to get away from them.  We kept our distance as best we could, but not all of us could do ranged damage.  Finally we finished them off - Tamir killing one, and Rob dropping the other.

We got in one more short rest after this battle, and ended the session.  Unfortunately, we still have at least one more battle before we'll have the chance to take a long rest, and it looks like it will be a doozy.  With so many of us out of spells and healing options, it is mathematically improbable that we'll be able to survive the next fight.  But no guts, no glory, right?  Wish us luck.