Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Barrowmaze #36: Of Pits, Perils and Blood Pudding

TL;DR Still thrashing around in the Haunted Tombs of Barrowmaze, searching for the Pit of Chaos and missing friends.

Our 36th session saw the adventuring pick up at the edge of a mysterious pit revealed when the reformed orcish band Grak fell through a trap door while battling a bloody slime creature and disappeared.  A dropped torch winked out before falling far.  A torch lowered on a rope faded out of present existence, along with the rope and the warrior Erik as well!  Now to two brave warriors were  missing.  Careful inspection of the perimeter of the pit revealed runes of transposition and dimensional doors.
The pair had fallen through some sort of teleport trap!
"Perhaps they are yet alive and nearby," speculated the zealot Aliontus. "But where?"
So the surviving band explored, first through hidden doors to the east, down elder halls until they came to a room of statues and chicken guano.
Spooked, the retreated, exploring west now, avoiding 10 holes in the floor, gathering gold from burial alcoves until discovered by Coffer Corpses, hungry dead who defied the lightning bolt of the Wizard Resper to nearly choke the life out of cleric and wizard.
Shaken, but desperate to find their friends and close the Pit of Chaos, the tomb raiders were stymied by a northern door, then chased south by a (returned?) Blood Pudding.  A Hold Portal spell covered the retreat.  Treasures were found, bronzed skulls and a golden bust of Nergal the Death God.  And a secret door concealing stairs down to the west.
Descending the stair, Danger Dan was very careful, measuring each step and studying the stonework of the floor.  And so he did not fall into the pit at the foot of the stairs and instead poured boiling oil on the Ravenous Dead below until the corridor was thick with smoke and the evil hunger quenched.
Beyond, octagonal crypts were explored, a sea-faring tomb depicting long boats rowed by horn helmed warriors, the frescos were of an ancient barbaric style.
Another crypt opened beneath the grinning deaths head visage of Nergal.  A richly preserved cloak tempted Dan within, but 7 Ravenous Corpses rose from their deathless slumber, eager to consume the living!
Image result for blood pudding

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Play Report: Operation Unfathomable

I ran Operation Unfathomable and it fell a bit flat.

The other night our regular DM was out of town so we had some friends over to play my homebrew game instead of type VI D&D.  I decided to run Operation Unfathomable.  I backed the kickstarter and have the preview pdf (I actually went in for the combo OU and Odious Uplands which I think is going to take awhile).  I did an hour or so of prep, making bullet points of some of the early descriptions, printing out the intro, the map and Oothu the henchman's stats.  Giving them the list of items to choose.  It all started well.  Having the illustrations to show was great.  But the play itself devolved into a routine of, "Well, we just go forward again."  They ignored side-passages, slew the Mind Bats, and encountered a segmented giant who confiscated the Battle Axe of Spell Cleaving.   Finally they spoke to a Null Priest about the party being held for the Worm Sultan.
I certainly didn't have the whole thing in my head as well as I would have liked and working from a PDF didn't help, but I think there was also a bit a situation where the gonzo-ness was layered on so thick the players weren't sure how to react.  I meant to run a dungeon crawl, but it ended up feeling a bit like the Tomb of Annihilation jungle crawl we've been playing, where it's hard to feel like you are making a meaningful decision because each one leads you so far astray.
I can see Operation Unfathomable working as a really fun romp with the right group of people, it has amazing potential, but I think I would have done better in this case to offer a more traditional style dungeon like Barrowmaze or some such.
I wonder what other peoples' experiences have been like with Operation Unfathomable.  Has anyone else besides the creator DM'd it yet?

Friday, March 30, 2018

Barrowmaze #33-35: Doom of a Death Knight, to Rescue a Barmaid, and the Search for the Pit of Chaos

Nearly lost in the mists of time, a bleary-eyed hobbit recounts the Raven Company's recent weeks of adventure.

#33:  Doom of a Death Knight
A second foray into the flooded tunnel beneath the mysterious black pool behind the bronze door of Nergal in the northern edge of the Barrowmounds saw the wet and bedraggled group exploring the crypts and burial alcoves of the Deserted Dormitory.
The light of the Fount of Law seemed to be dimmed somewhat, but focused more than ever, it's light turning always to the north and east, so they explored that direction, ransacking the bones and treasures as they went.
They were haunted by the echo of booted footsteps.  Whispers of the dead told of the Death Knight Dhekeon the Betrayer searched the halls to return the Fount of Law to it's hidden place.  After some hide and seek the company engaged the Death Knight and his skeletal minions in battle.  In desperation they fled through the chamber of the Water Weird, hoping to turn the two upon each other.  It worked!  Combined with an inspiring potion of heroism, Dhekeon the Betrayer was defeated!

#34: Rescue the Barmaid!
Back in the village of Helix, there was much activity.  Word had gone far and wide that the dead were walking beyond the mounds, leaving treasures unguarded within.  The Duke's son and marshall at arms were organizing the construction of a wooden palisade around the village.  Loggers struggled to pull felled trees from the fringes of the Dolmenwood.
The barmaid Merde had in recent weeks confessed to her involvement in the Cult of Orcus, due to the secret machinations of the false priest Gamdar.  Gamdar had some sort of hold over her soul and compelled her to travel to a glade within the Dolmenwood each month to participate in a ritual of bloodletting.  The Company resolved to accompany her on her journey.  There they laid in ambush, assaulting the Acolyte of Orcus and his goatheaded minions, rescuing the barmaid and taking Gamdar prisoner.
Gamdar told tales of the Acolytes of Orcus searching the Barrowmaze for the lost spark of Nergal, challenging the competing interests of the Necromancers of Set, who he suspected of having their own secret entrance into the maze.
Further, it was rumored that a great and powerful evil lurked in the eastern reaches of the maze, far beyond what had so far been explored.  An evil said to guard the Tablets of Chaos, the hidden word of Nergal Himself.


#35: Search for the Pit of Chaos
Returning to the dungeon, driven by the fading light of the Fount of Law, the Company chose to enter via the mound of the Forgotten King.  Below they encountered a Necromancer of Set with his retinue, who spoke of the power of his superiors but warily backed away from conflict. 
Surging north, the Company edged around a few previously discovered pits, battled blood thirsty spiders and carnivorous flies, and discovered a secret door into a long hall going north.  Torchlight revealed a red blob quivering and smelling of a butcher shop.  Grack ran forward to attack and fell into a bottomless pit... or is it?

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

Equipment:
  • 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.

Aliontus
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