Sunday, February 11, 2018

Barrowmaze #32: In Search of the Pit of Chaos

Deep in the warrens of the Barrowmaze the pure light of the Fount of Law flickered in the hands of Clonin the Just.  He looked closely and beheld the voice of Sir Guy de O’Veargne: "The righeous might of Ygg fades as the betrayer himself has roused himself and now stalks these halls again.  Sir Dekeon sleeps no more!  Quickly!  The Fount must do its duty soon!  While there is still time!"  The light of the white orb focused somewhat in a northerly direction.  

The Company of the Raven paid last respects to their fallen dwarf companion and began exploring a northerly hall.  Tapping at the floor revealed another hidden trap door, now easily avoided.  In a chamber of burial alcoves a secret passage was discovered, leading to a soot covered room guarded by the living dead who literally burned with hatred for the living.  In the desperate battle that followed another dwarven henchman met his end, as nearly did the elf cleric Helga.  

Further investigation lead to the discovery of a damp chamber, featuring at ancient subterranean pool.  Evidence of desperate battle was strewn about, twisted bodies law dead and unmoving, with no visible marks of violence.  Sneaking forward to loot the bodies attracted the attention of the guardian of the pool, a weird serpent formed out of the living water of the pool, writing and swaying, jealously keeping for itself any revenues provided by foolhardy heroes. 

Through careful machinations and judicious bravery a magic sword, shield and armor were retrieved and the group bolted beyond, leaving the weird of water empty handed.  

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Conversion of Red & Pleasant Land's "Alice" for Type VI D&D

Play an entirely accidental adventurer who makes their way through the weirdness of dungeons with nothing but exasperation and unshakeable self-belief.

I made this a while back and found recently found it again.  It's entirely derivative of work by others like David Brawley and of course based on the super inspiring (though in my experience underused) Red & Pleasant Land book of vampires in wonderland by Zak Smith.
Anyways, here's my tweak on it.

The Alice (or Allardyce):  
A Carrollian Character Class of Wit and Whimsy

Hit Die: d6
Saves: Dex, Cha
Weapon: Simple weapons
Armor: None
Skills: Pick any three
Tools: All gaming sets and musical instruments.
Language: Common and one other

  • One simple weapon
  • Three trinkets
  • A game set or instrument
  • A purse

Level 1 - Exasperation (d4)
Level 2 - Class Feature
Level 4 - Ability Score Bonus, OR Class Feature
Level 5 - Exasperation (d6)
Level 6 - Class Feature
Level 8 - Ability Score Bonus, OR Class Feature
Level 9 - Exasperation (d8)
Level 10 - Class Feature (roll twice)
Level 12 - Ability Score Bonus, OR Class Feature
Level 13 - Exasperation (d12)
Level 14 - Class Feature
Level 16 - Ability Score Bonus, OR Class Feature
Level 17 - Doubly Exasperated
Level 18 - Class Feature
Level 19 - Ability Score Bonus, OR Class Feature
Level 20 - Class Feature (roll twice)

Exasperation: Once per real-time hour, Alice may become exasperated with the situation and roll a d4 against the chart (in the RPL book) for the result.  The die type increases at 5th, 9th, and 13th level.

Doubly Exasperated: Once per session, you may roll twice on the Exasperation table and choose which result you'd like.

Class Feature:
Roll 1d100.   Most class feature can only be chosen once.  If one is rolled, select the next.  The Exception is the “Red Knight” ability.
At 10th and 20th level, roll twice and gain both features.

1-5 Alice was then reminded of something she’d noticed before...
Gain proficiency in one Save you are not proficient in.
6-7 “I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”
Gain the Keen Mind feat
8-9 “Speak English!” said the Eglet. ”I don’t know the meaning of half those words and what’s more I don’t think you do either!”
Gain the Linguist feat
10-11  Falling down wells really improves the hand-eye coordination:
Gain the Athlete Feat
12-13 Again she heard a little pattering of footsteps in the distance.
Gain the Alert feat
14-15 Alice was not a bit hurt, and jumped up in a moment.
Gain the Dungeon Delver feat
16-17 Soon her eye fell on a very small glass box
Gain the Observant feat
18-19 “That was a narrow escape!” said Alice
Gain the Mobile feat
20 “Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn, "if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you.”
Gain the Lucky feat
21-25 She noticed the Red Knight always feinted to his left— she was a very perceptive girl.
Gain 1 use of Inspiration after each use of Exasperation.
26-30 Alice liked pies, although sometimes people did not want her to have them.
Alice can cast Goodberry once per day.  The goodberries look like tiny pies.  
30-35 She closed her eyes and said the words just as she’d been taught...
Gain the Magic Initiate feat, only acquired once.
36-39 Oh, I do so apologize...
Once per foe, you may use a bonus action to "accidentally" trip.  This check is made at advantage.  Only acquired once.
40 Her sister had mentioned they were dreadful people...
Gain the Favored Enemy feature, but it applies to one organization instead of a type of creature.
41-42 All that hiding in the dumbwaiter has finally paid off.
The Alice knows a secret.  Once per session, she may make an Intelligence check (DC 15) to replicate the effects of a Legend Lore spell.  
43-44 It seemed nearly everything was dangerous if handled improperly.
Gain the Tavern Brawler feat.
45-46 It was very shiny and stuck out like a soup spoon...
On a successful mêlée hit, the Alice may use a bonus action to make a Sleight of Hand check to grab an item (other than the target’s weapon) off a target. This won’t work twice on anyone above zombie-intelligence who sees it.  
46-50 She was not such a mouse as she used to be.
+1 Dexterity to racial max, excess goes to Strength or Constitution.
51-52 Alice then did something quite astonishing...
Alice may add her Charisma bonus to her Armor Class.
53 The blue one certainly did make the Alice taller, of that Alice was certain...
Become proficient in the poisoner and herbalist kits.
54 She could be very charming when she needed to be.  
Gain the Actor feat.  Social rolls against nobility are made at advantage.  
55-60 “I do hope it will make me become large again!”
Alice may Use all Magic Devices.
61-62 “It really was curious,” she thought— “How many times could this kind of thing happen?”
The Alice may escape death or another equally awful fate exactly once. The Alice must spend at least a round playing possum to build tension but...surprise, the Alice jumped out of the way just in time!
63 She knew to curtsey at times like this, and so she did.
Gain the Uncanny Dodge Ability
64-67 It was so lovely, and— according to the book— it was right there.
Whatever the thing that the Alice always wanted is, it’s there. 4 sessions worth of adventure away or less. (there are some more rules, just read the RPL book)
68-71 She had not known her mother’s cousin very well, and decided that it was a bad thing that she had died...
The Alice has been willed 5,000 gp in assets: art, libraries, lands, or other eldritch strangeness.
72-73 They kept talking as though Alice was a rhododendron in a pot.
Gain the Skulker feat.
74 She knew from school what the word meant, but did not know if it was rude or not.
Alice may attempt to speak to any creature with a successful Intelligence 10 roll.
75 Alice quite liked drawing, and had an impressive box of crayons at home.
Become proficient in the forgery kit and painter's tools.
76-78 She thought it might be a saltcellar, or at least that seemed like a good word.
The Alice can accurately appraise treasure to a nontrivial and nonboring degree:
The value of nonmagical things can be estimated flawlessly.  With a successful Arcana check, Alice knows if a magical item has something off about it.
79 She did seem to offend people (and animals) wherever she went.
Gain proficiency with any one weapon.
82-85 They all listened attentively as Alice told her tale.
+1 Charisma to racial max, excess goes to Wisdom or Intelligence.
86-88 They began to throw stones, and Alice began to avoid them.
Gain Evasion  Only acquired once.
89-93 She began to feel somewhat neglected.
If the Alice is attacked in a round that she spends doing nothing but dodging and her attacker misses, the attacker will not only miss but fumble and lose his or her next turn (if s/he or it has multiple attacks, s/he will lose a number of attacks equal to the Alice’s level). This only works once per foe on anything of better than zombie intelligence that sees it happen.
94 She tried to remember what she knew about stoats.
Become proficient in Handle Animal checks. And may Speak with Animals
95-00 Alice had seen so many unusual things lately, it had become usual.

Immune to Fear, Insanity and Confusion effects.  

Friday, February 2, 2018

Barrowmaze #30-31: Down Nergal's Throat

DM Commentary
The party has the "Fount of Law", they are mostly 5th level and they know of the Pit of Chaos.  But they search blindly, ransacking a room of burial crypts here or there.  And this is only the mid game of the dungeon.  What next?  If they succeed in a goal do I offer them another dungeon?  Perhaps the Abbey of St Clewd or the Croaking Fane?  Do they then enounter a mad harpy escapee raving of the deathly serpent within the eastern tunnels while waving an enchanted gauntlet?  We will see.  Lucky for me my two players (playing three characters each in my home brew Uncommon ruleset seem happy enough to grind through a couple rooms every week.  Suits me fine!

Barrowmaze Saga
Two recent explorations of the undersprawl: the discovery of a new entrance, a bronze door depicting the horned visage of Nurgal lead to a dark pool.  A spell of Water Breathing and a deep dive later saw the party soaking wet and descending a stair beyond the pool to the dungeons below.  The exploration was careful, fastidious.  Crypts were uncovered.  Gold gathered.  Then a passage was traversed quickly and two stalwarts fell into a spike filled pit.  Grack the Half Orc took a spike through the knee.  The group retreated only to return two weeks later during a heatwave.

The small town of Helix was busting with activity.  The duke's men under Sir Dangar has roused the populace to fell nearby trees from the Black Dolmenwood in order to construct a palisade, while the duke's son Korthos remained resolutely drunk despite his mandate to strength the town defense.  Rumour trickled in to taverns telling of a zombie massacre in Bogtown to the south.

Helix was a bummer and dame Merde was not doing much better so the group rounded up their two dwarves and Helga the Elven Cleric and returned to the Underworld.   Many burial tubes ransacked, two secret doors discovered, the hunger of stress and burnt torches, finally pushing one step beyond, then, breaking into a long sealed chamber, a pair of putrid grub infested living corpses are discovered, two Sons of Gaxx, full of hatred for the living, lunge forward their very presence inspiring such revulsion and fear that both clerics and the wizard flee piteously while the warriors are left behind to hack at the writhing mess, chopping and burning both the wights and them selves until the undead and writhing grubs both are snuffed.

The horror!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Barrowmaze #29: To Raise the Hue and Cry

Dark things stirred within the Barrowmaze, no longer content to lurk, the dead were restless, venturing forth.  All the lands were in danger.  The Pits of Chaos are real.  The discovery of the Font of Law proves it so.  Of these truths Clonin the Red had never been more confident.  He gathered his companions, and accompanied by the foolhardy Dukeling Korthos Ironwood and his squire Bradley, set off to the seat of power, Ironwood Motte, to raise the hue and cry.  Bring an army into these barrows, roust the evil out!
But evil was rousted already! Fell creatures lay in ambuscade along the muddy cart track.  Crossing a flooded stream, the group was accosted by a fearsome swineataur, half man half hog sewn together from disparate parts.  It pawed the ground and threatened violence, but the wizard Resper caught it with a spell of Charm and the thing swept him in its arms, to carry him away.  Just then a fusillade of arrows rained down on the travelers.  Skeletal crossbowmen lay in wait.  Hulking, colossal undead lumbered forward, moaning their sorrowful existence, hurling cow skulls full of nightmares.  The company bravely stepped forward to battle, even Korthos, but it was the fanaticism of Aliontus who turned the abominations away.  They forded the swollen creek and were swept away.  Likewise, the company fled to the safety of the Motte, leaving a furious necromancer shaking his fist. 
"Swiney" turned out to be a simple creature, covered in scars and the Brand of Orcus.  It claimed the Acolytes of Orcus resided in the barrows, and had an agent called "Gamdar".  Gamdar, well known to the company as the assistant of Friar Puck at the Shrine of St. Ygg in Helix.  Resper sent the swineataur to Helix with a message.*
At town, Friar Fergus was concerned.  So was the Duke.  Both were deeply horrified by the thought of a Pit of Chaos lurking in their own demesnes, but were heartened by the sight of the Font, proof that Chaos could be ordered into Law.  The Duke sent the party back to Helix with an escort of his finest guard, commandeered by Sir Dangar and his Iron Men.  They would guard the town and oversee the construction of a palisade while Clonin and his men delved into the maze in search of the deepest darkest pits of CHAOS.

*Greetings Friar Puck!
Alas, I have been gone but a day, but much is changed.
May Ygg's grace shine on you and all of the flock.
Do His work, and the days will pass easy
Allow me to introduce a new
Recruit to the fold
I met him on the road to Ironwood Mott
Swiney is his name
Allow him to use his
Nose around trees in the woods
Only there we can
Reap the
Crop given by the Gods
Unto us
Surely I mean the
Pure and tasty truffle.
Round and delicious
know of no finer food,
Even the
Shrimp of the sea
Tasty as it may be
Will be not
match for the
True king of foods, of
Course, a
Handsome profit could be made
Handily enough to spread the word
I intend to write soon
My good friend.
Be well
Ygg be with us now and in the
Ever after.


Friday, December 22, 2017

Barrowmaze #28: Feed the Ghastly Gourmand and Escape with Your Life

The company escaped from the Barrowmaze via a dark deed and desperate gifts to various nefarious creatures.  Mighty were the rewards.

A quick and furious battle ended with the Company of Aliontus chasing a ghoul through a kingly vault and into the lair of the Mistress of the Maze, Grizelda the Ghastly Gourmand and her gaggle of ghouls, a kitchen of sorts, stuffed with beakers, books, and man eaters.  A large black cauldron bubbled over a fire, smelling pungent.  Dan the Fighter vomited violently and the undead cannibals laughed and pointed.

More than a dozen nefarious foes faced the fatigued foursome, so they negotiated with her, back tracking to bring a pair of recently killed adventurers to be boiled in the witch's pot.  With that, they crept through the cannibal crowd and hurried on to more familiar tunnels, stopping only to push in a hastily bricked up door.  Within was a musty library staffed by two sinister deathless librarians and their anti-paladin protectors.  Aliontus quickly offered a sheaf of Nergalian Writs and the heroes fled quickly.

Returning to the surface lands, shaken and stirred, they celebrated the riches they had gained.  Great piles of gold were spent on wine women and song.  Clovin the Cleric was feted for his discovery of the Font of Law.  Surely it would be used to solve the problem of the Barrowmaze and its restless dead.  Eric the Fighter made a poor business investment and earned the ire of the Youn Duke Korthos Ironguard.   Aliontus drank to much and awake naked in the center of town, having spent the night preaching to cats and rats.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Storm King's Thunder #30: Doom in the Desert

Finished it.  The campaign met its finale with a final battle against the blue dragon.  No PCs died, though I kinda spaced out and forgot to attack a couple of times.  High level fighting is silly. 
Happy to turn over the DM screen to my friend for Tomb of Annihilation!
We'll have some one-shots occasionally where they will finally fight Tiamat.  I'm thinking instead of using Rise of Tiamat, I'll use some of the high level stuff from Out of the Abyss.  Fight some demons then go to hell and fight Tiamat.

The best part was the holiday spirit.  Pants brought custom shirts for everyone with a red d4 pun on them.  The group also went in on buying me the new book, Xanathar's Guide.  Second year in a row I have received a Christmas book signed by my players.  I was really touched.  I feel so lucky to have this group these days.  It's been two solid years of D&D.  The wife's wizard is 12th level.  We played through two official Type VI campaign books and I am totally ready to hand off the DM duties.  The location will change as well.  We'll play at the next door neighbor's house.  It will be a good change of pace.  I got a bit tired of the plotted out campaign and I wasn't as excited to DM the newest book, though I'm stoked to play in it.  Of course, my Barrowmaze campaign continues, with my heartbreaker booklet that I am more into every time I play. 

The battle itself was fine.  Imryth lurked in her sand pile for awhile while her gargoyles and cave-ins softened up the intruders.  A pit to Hell was found, guarded by a massive bronze statue of Tiamat, who exhaled poison gas and whispered words of doom and portent, of the coming of the Mother of Wyrms.  Finally Althea the Bearer of the Black Mask donned her cursed garb and was assailed by doubt and temptation.  She knew that she needed only to betray her company to the reap a reward of ultimate power upon the coming of the Apocalypse, but though she wavered she would not be turned.  The fire lady launched a fireball into the sand pile, revealing the ancient blue wyrm! 

The old conniver was enraged.  She surged forward and roared her electrical fury at the Company of the Raven, leaving the elven mages, both light and dark, a pair of smoking ruins.  A red skinned demon emerged to steal Althea's Mask of the Black Dragon.  Apollo healed his magical friends.  The barbarian and bard assassin engaged with the demon then the dragon herself.  Though her tail thrashed and the heroes were between within inches of their lives, the might of sword and spell prevailed just as it had in Barovia against the dread lord Strahd.  The dragon was slain and the realms were safe for a time.

The Maelstrom Court pledged friendship and alliance with the Lords of Waterdeep.  Bards sang the praises of the brave cloud sailors.  Noble titles and lands in contested places were bestowed, with great thanks from the people of the Sword Coast.  Yet even as the depredations of giants eased, a low rumble of rumour and dread was heard from place deep below...

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Storm King's Thunder #29: Heavy Lifting in the Battle of Ascore

TL DR  Ultimate battle?  In the midst of the heroes battling gargoyles above the sands of the Anaurach Desert, it was proposed that initiative be decided based on contests of strength between me the DM and various players (we usually use side initiative on a d12).  I won the first push up contest(22), then lost the second(31),  then lost a pull-up contest(7), and finally outlasted my wife in a side-plank contest.  Hilarity ensued.  Yes a bottle of wine was involved.

DM Notes
The end is nigh.  I can almost taste it.  And I don't mean the imminent return of Tiamat.  I mean the campaign itself.  With this last battle against the Blue Menace of the Anaurach I plan to hand over the reins to a friend and retire from DMing type V D&D.  I hope it feels satisfying enough for the group, but I'd like to pause it for awhile and pick it back up on an episodic basis, roleplaying a scene here and there before another epic battle with the queen of dragons.  At this level plot points seem sort of inevitable and less surprising, at least for me.  I'd like to make the playing through of those plot points special occasions instead of weekly affairs.  I'd never really agreed with the term "to play through" a module until things got to around the 10th level, when astute players can more or less make things happen as they like.  I'm looking forward to being surprised by the game again, this time as a player in Tomb of Annihilation!

In the meantime, I'm hoping to make this battle one to remember.  They've already taken down a couple dragons during this campaign.  This time they've already had their plans shifted by terrain and spells drained by multitudes of minions.  I hope to make it a running battle in a cyclopean min-dungeon, with mysteries and traps along with their ultimate foe.  I won't say I want to kill some characters, but if one or two die it wouldn't make the campaign less dramatic.

The Story
The Red Balloon arrived in Silverymoon to great fanfare.  The glitterati of the city turned out to celebrate the heroes of the realm, who had walked the very halls of the Maelstrom Court and not only lived but returned as friends and allies of the Storm King himself!  They were invited to many balls, feasts, and theatrical performances, their deeds were turned to song, and all the kind help of a grateful kingdom was opened to them.  For a time, all was well, but the doom of the Drakkorn still echoed in the hearts of the mighty and though giant kind had ceased their destructive depredations, dragons continued to sail out of the northern reaches, headed for some southern clime.  A migration? or a meeting?

Feeling there was little time to waste, the Red Ballon set forth once again, now crewed by hearty men with curly beards, into the oncoming storm of the desert.  From the ancient ruined city of Ascore could be seen a violent thunder storm swirling above the great amphitheater said to crown the lair of the ancient sapphire wyrm to whose credit was due the manifold sufferings of the Forgotten Realms these many months.  The crew landed the Red Balloon and approached under the influence of magical spells of Flight, cruising low.  Even so, heavy stones, fragments of statuary were launched at their approach by vigilant gargoyles, one catching the cleric Apollo on the shoulder blade, sending him crashing into the sand. 

Althea the Wizardess and Ezra the Storm Sorceress summoned fire and ice to shatter the guardians, and Ezra sensed a great malevolent presence guiding the storm above.

Circling about, chased by dozens of stoney, bat winged devil statues, the heroes dove into a great hole in the ground within the amphitheater, finding themselves in a massive vaulted underground chamber.  Gargoyles screeched above.  A massive presence filled the space.  They were not welcome here...