Tuesday, February 14, 2017

From Dwimmermount with Love

Image result for spider love

This Valentine's Day marked approximately our 17th session exploring Dwimmermount this year.

Our after school Games Club has dwindled a bit to about 25 kids per week as spring sports have kicked in (which is all for the good).

This session our cast included:

Dilliam the one-eyed mage (level 1, his 3rd character)
Ferdik the Mega-Goon (level 1, this player's 3rd PC also)
Salren the sometimes-female elf with hook for a hand (this players 1st PC!)
Jager the elf (level 2, his 2nd PC)
Kermit the Brute (2nd PC)
Keno the halfling who uses two blades (1st PC)
Solum the blue dragon hatchling (1st character; 1 hit point)

Image result for siege crossbowLast session, with a brilliantly timed natural 20, the party fired a siege crossbow over 200 feet (with cable attached) to penetrate the metallic walls of the uppermost reaches of the Great Shaft.  This dangled before the explorers the temptation of entering a secret level far above.

Over the next hour and a half, the team made five separate trips up the rope to explore the top of the shaft and try to gain access to the doors that they discovered there.

Light proved to be a challenge since no one had a lantern, only torches.

Discovering that nobody had brought a crowbar, iron spikes, or a hammer, the group even trekked back to Muntburg mid-way through to do some shopping.

Amazingly, they even elected to leave two of their number behind to "guard the rope."

By that point Dilliam had suffered some nasty rope-burn when sliding back down to scrape green slime off of his gear and his hands were a pair of mitten-like masses of bandages (making him completely unable to cast spells of course).  This limitation didn't keep him from staying behind, however, and when a crab spider emerged from the shaft he set about trying to kick it to death, earning a bite for his trouble.

Image result for bandaged handsSo it was that, when the rest of the party returned after two different giant spider encounters of their own (The Spawn of Arach-naca has returned to The Paths of Mavors in force), they found Dilliam, stripped to the waist, twitching and foaming at the mouth with his flailing hands still looking for all the world like a pair of oversized oven mitts.

"I still have pants on!"

The hapless wizard had made his saving throw, but hovered at death's door for the rest of the session.

Driving spikes along the seam where metal and stone met was also a hurdle, dangling in near-darkness with green slime occasionally detaching from the ceiling to plummet past.  I required a hit roll to be made, with a poor enough roll resulting in the spike bouncing loose.

Two tinderboxes, two torches, and five iron spikes all tumbled down the shaft to level four before the last spike could be set and the door finally accessed.

Some memorable quips and quotes from this session:

"Yeah we found those guys last time [hobgoblins]--I think they had poisonous tongues or something."
"They were chumps.  I threw one flask of alchemist's fire and it killed like four of them."
---- ---- -----
"Yes, I AM an elf."
---- ---- -----
"I'm still the only character whose gone down to floor four and survived."
---- ---- -----
"Remember when you got killed by the reindeer ... or was it a gnome?"
---- ---- -----
"Why do you ALWAYS die of poison?"
"That was my best character."
"I know.  And all I did was seal the poison in with my healing spell!"
---- ---- -----
"I'll give you seven spikes."
"I need eight."
"Okay, I'll give you eight."
"Why do you even need them?  He's the one trying to use them!"
"I'm keeping the one with spider guts on it."
---- ---- -----
"Just to clarify, you are putting the squishy magic-user with no armor in the front rank again?"
"As always."
"Maybe we should switch spots?"
These kids are totally devoted to cracking that door and the cheers around the table when the final spike was set were akin to the reaction usually reserved for the last round of a successful big boss-fight.  The Great Shaft must be conquered!

It's a little sad that the dungeon level awaiting them beyond those sealed doors is scaled for 5th level characters and I can already hear the death cries of their PCs as they flee back toward the shaft and the waiting rope (unless a slime has dissolved it ... yes ... yes I would), but I know that these guys enjoy their epic failures as much (if not MORE) than their victories.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Leaping Lupsbach!

Since Christmas break, I've continued to pick away at Olde School Wizardry: The Nine Ancient Runes of Magic, my all-wizard homebrew RPG (and the game that gives this blog its name).

Whenever I thumb through a new RPG, I immediately gravitate toward any chapter dedicated to scenarios ... for me, that's where "the good stuff" is at ... so I knew that I wanted the final chapter of my pet-project (which contains nine short adventures) to be rambly, eclectic, and exactly the sort of nonsense that I hope to find.

Here's the opening text from scenario #7, which features "lupsbach" -- big, broad-beaked, flightless birds:

Leaping Lupsbach or The Big Catch --  A Remote, Rustic Roundup

Duke Standij Groant wants to strengthen his prized lupsbach stable with an infusion of fresh blood, and to this end he has directed Corbel Shewn, his court wizard, to secure several wild birds for breeding stock.

Shewn, a portal mage, subcontracts with the young wizards to help him complete the task.  

Having used the Divine Rune to identify a far, western valley, well beyond the borders of most maps, where a few wild lupsbach still roam, he will open a temporary portal to allow the wizards to travel there and capture as many of the great, flightless birds as they can.

Of course it wouldn't be Olde School Wizardry if there wasn't a hitch in the plans!

The "wild" birds of the valley are actually part of a free-range flock managed by bird-riding gauchos, so the wizards may end up becoming rustlers quite by accident.

A congregation of river trolls also has designs on the flock, and the arrival of a violent storm out in "big sky country" will add to the complications. All in all, the neophyte wizards will have their hands full.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Ticket To ... WAR!

As part of our recent silliness with Book of War, my oldest and I decided to do a mash-up with Ticket to Ride ... creating ... Ticket to WAR!  

Each side chooses a capital city--in the game below, the Necromancer ruled from Moscow while the living held Paris.

Battalions, represented by single miniatures, spawned from the capital cities at a cost of 5 wild cards.  Battalions could shift from one city to another by playing the necessary train cards to complete that route (e.g. 4 green).

Each turn players could choose to draw two cards or complete a route, just as in a standard game of Ticket to Ride.

When enemy armies occupied the same city, we would shift scales to table-top war game level and fight the battle out using Book of War.  Retreating forces would be displaced to an adjacent city.
Apparently there is no game, however charming and pacifist in its sensibilities, that the folks at my house cannot transform into a bloody, tooth-and-claw struggle! 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Book of War: Campaign Follow Up

Image result for book of war deltaAbout a month ago, my older daughter and I played a half-dozen sessions of Book of War, by Daniel "Delta" Collins, as part of a linked campaign set in "The Realm"--our D&D campaign milleau.

Her younger sister acted as judge as we used blind movement to shift our troops around a hex map, probing, retreating, and attempting to draw our foe into the battle of our choosing.

I played three human barons, their knights, soldiers, peasant levee, and human mercenaries, while my daughter commanded heaps of goblins, orcs, and wargs led by ogres, a minotaur, and a half-orc warlord (sent against the kingdom as mercenaries in the employ of the Master of the desert nomads).  Most fierce among her troops were her wolf-riding goblin archers, who could dash, loose arrows, and dash again, dancing out of range of my slower troops.

Image result for warrior bishopWhat made this campaign especially exciting was the shared continuity with our six-year-old D&D campaign.  If Baron Sherlane was pulled from his horse and crushed by ogres ... well, he wouldn't be around to act as the characters' patron any longer!  Likewise, if the eastern side of The Realm was overrun and its folk put to the sword by marauders, the PCs could lose homes, friends, and loved ones in our linked RPG.  We were playing for keeps!

The final results were most satisfying.  We each won two engagements (one large, one small) and rather than one faction being thoroughly broken, each of us were bloodied enough to withdraw to better ground and send out scouts--a stalemate.

What this means for our campaign world is that The Wildwood Inn, that walled compound and last bastion of civilization in the wide eastern forest, was overrun with fell folk and has become a stronghold of goblins and worse.

Image result for otus keep on the borderlandsFurther north, The Old Forest Road has been cut, further isolating Castellan's Keep where it stands upon the very border of the wild.

The barons must set a constant watch upon the margins of the wood as goblins and wolves slink out by night to terrorize isolated hamlets and many farms are abandoned as folk flee west toward safety.

These developments clearly spark adventure for our heroes!

  • Castellan's Keep will need resupply soon, and swords will be needed to guard the carts
  • Bounties are being offered on goblins raiding out of the wood
  • Rangers are needed to dare the wood and spy out the enemy and their numbers
  • A small team might be dispatched to The Wildwood Inn to capture or kill an enemy leader
  • The village of The Downs has become a fortified camp and the baron's will need proven allies to oversee the building of a pallisade and day-to-day management
  • Chaplains, healers, and scouts are in great demand
  • Old enemies, such as the death-cult of Orcus or rebellious Baron VonHendricks, may take advantage of the crisis in the east to advance their own plans
What mass combat systems have you tried over the years and have you settled on a favorite?
Anyone else out there ever tried Book of War? 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Taking a Short Break

Image result for groundhog day
I volunteer weekly with the middle and high school students at our church and this week the young people were challenged to begin a month of fasting.  Some kids may choose to abstain from coffee and soda and use that craving to remind them to pursue God, others will voluntarily step away from social media for one or more weeks in an effort to replace that time with focus on God and others.

To support the students, I'm going to take a few weeks off from social media and blogging to redirect that time.

Come February I plan to check back in.  See you then.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Monsters for Christmas

My kids made out like bandits this year.  I still remember when Santa brought me the Monster Manual (Easley cover) back in the day.  

Each girl brought her copy on the car ride to Granny's house and on the way home we played a game where they would name a letter of the alphabet and I would try to guess how many creature entries there were for that letter.

We got as far as "S" before it was too dark to see anymore and I was quite pleased with myself, coming in within 1-3 of the correct answer in every case but "G" and "M".  I even got in a mini-rant about why Uncle Gary would choose to list rhinocerous separately from Herd Animal.

Having never read a Monster Manual, my wife (who is more of a board gamer), wondered aloud, "Why would anyone ever go near the water in D&D?"  I'd forgotten that practically half of the critters are aquatic (I also questioned the need for both Giant Gar and Giant Pike). 

Anyway, it was cool to see a copies of my first excursion into the AD&D product line in the hands of my hobbits.