Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Adventure 6 (addendum): Gnome More Please

The gnome muttered to himself as he rifled through the chest. “Eccentric, they say. Strange, they say. Oversized lawn ornament, he calls me. If I was twice HIS size, he wouldn’t say such things. I’ll show him though. Before long HE will be begging ME for help, and we’ll see who’s bigger then. Ain’t that right?” Moonglum looked over at Odo, standing motionless, a look of anger frozen on the dwarf’s face. The hold person spell Moonglum had cast was still working like a charm.

The wizard shut the chest in frustration. “Where is it, dwarf? Where is my ‘precious’?” As Moonglum looked at the chieftain, he noticed a small bulge on one side of his tunic.

“Aha!” he cried as he lifted the red pendant from Odo’s clothing. “Well well, now I have MY reward,” Moonglum said, putting the pendant in a pouch at his hip and picking up his quarterstaff. “I do not envy you the headache you will have when you wake up, but sleep well, and dream of bearded women.” The gnome struck Odo over the head with his staff just as the spell wore off. He swiftly gathered his gear, quietly slipped out of the chamber, and began to make his way to the mine’s main gates.

Moonglum traveled unmolested through the dwarf city. He got a few suspicious glances, as he did everywhere he went (he was a GNOME, after all), but no one showed any indication that they knew what he had done. A smirk came across his face as he contemplated his own cunning. He had purposefully waited to make his move until the rest of his party left, suspecting that there was a good chance he would incur their wrath if he showed his face around them again. He didn’t think they were entirely justified in their anger, considering he was the one who almost singlehandedly killed that beast. But he couldn’t get too frustrated; after all, none of them possessed anywhere near the intelligence necessary to understand why he did the things he did.

That’s the way it’s always been, he thought, sighing to himself. Which of them could have hatched this plan? He had waited until Odo was alone in his room, snuck in, cast the spell before the dwarf could say Mibbifoodle, and took the jewel. His grin grew wider as he looked down at the pouch containing the glowing pendant. Moonglum began to imagine the price it would fetch from certain buyers he knew; he dreamed about the power he could wield if he decided to keep the gem for himself and tweak the magic just a little. The gnome was so engrossed in his own fantasy that he jumped five feet in the air when he felt a soft touch on his arm.

“It wasn’t me, it was the one-armed man!” Moonglum shouted as he turned around. There was Amaryllis, looking at him with an eyebrow raised in confusion. “Oh, it’s you. Why are you still here? Didn’t you leave with the others?”

“No, I decided to stay,” she told him. “You see, before my town was destroyed and I joined a traveling acrobatic troupe to earn my keep, I was a teacher in my community. I noticed there are a lot of children here with not many people to teach them. I may not be a dwarf, but Odo saw how well the children liked me and asked me to stay. I like the community here and I knew some of the others were going back to their own homes, so I agreed.”

She paused and looked him over, noticing that he had all his gear. “Where are you going?” she asked.

Moonglum thought for a minute. An idea formed in his head. He liked Amaryllis. The halfling had apparently already forgiven him for the fireball incident while the others had been either angry or dismissive toward him. She was a good companion and her skills as a rogue would be extremely useful on his journeys. Plus, he thought, she is pretty cute. He decided to tell her the truth – a slightly modified version of it, anyway.

“I am escaping,” he told Amaryllis, dropping his voice to a whisper. “I happened to overhear Odo talking to one of his clerics about that pendant he found. He was plotting use it to conquer Lord Bolt’s kingdom. He wanted the cleric to gather a council of magic users to study the pendant and see if it could be twisted to use for such a purpose. This horrified me, naturally, so when the cleric left, I snuck in and liberated the pendant by knocking Odo unconscious. It doesn’t appear the dwarves have discovered this yet, but they will soon. When they do, we will BOTH be in grave danger.” Moonglum paused to let this sink in. Amaryllis played right into his lie.

“Oh no! We will have to leave at once! But I can’t go without my things – I don’t have any of my gear!” the rogue exclaimed frantically, looking like she was about to burst into tears.

Moonglum looked around for potential eavesdroppers. Seeing none, he whispered, “We don’t have much time. They may sound the alarm at any second. You have the ability to sneak out of here whenever you want, but I need to be long gone when they find Odo. You go get your things – I will wait for you near the fork in the road two miles north of here. Meet me there at dusk.”

The frightened halfling nodded and hurried off to her quarters. Moonglum walked calmly but briskly on to the gates. He nodded at the stationed guards as he strolled confidently through the large arch carved in stone that represented the main entrance to the city. As he did so, he became aware of a commotion arising somewhere behind him. They had found him.

He headed south a short distance, summoned a giant centipede in the middle of the path, and hid himself in the foliage on the side of the road. Not a moment too soon, either, he thought as the guards arrived mere seconds after the gnome had moved out of sight. The wizard knew that the centipede would keep them busy for awhile. He also knew that the giant bug would confuse any tracks he may have left. Combined with most dwarves’ poor tracking skills and the rocky terrain, Moonglum was certain that he would be almost impossible to follow. That ranger may have been a boorish pain in the keister, but he did teach me a few valuable things. If only Taran could see me now! he thought triumphantly.

The gnome stayed off the path during his northward trek until he arrived without incident just as dusk fell at the prescribed meeting place. Moonglum was diligently surveying the road when he felt another tap on his shoulder. Once again, the wizard nearly soiled his robes in surprise.

“You’re good at that,” Moonglum said to Amaryllis after his heart rate had slowed to a manageable level.

“Thank you!” Amaryllis said cheerfully. “We halflings are all gifted that way, although I have always been especially good at it. I could sneak up on my friends whenever we played Find-The-Hobbit. I remember one time when I scared my friend Berys so badly…”

“Yes, yes. Wonderful.” Moonglum interrupted. He liked the rogue, but he was starting to wonder what exactly he’d gotten himself into. He had a feeling it wouldn’t be the last time he wondered that. “Did they follow you?”

Amaryllis scoffed at the gnome, “Of course not. But they were organizing search parties as I left. They will probably be setting out within the half hour.” She became melancholy all of a sudden. “I was sure that these dwarves had good hearts. Why would they want to attack Lord Bolt? It doesn’t make sense to me…” She trailed off as she looked at the gnome, hoping for an answer.

“I’m sure I don’t know!” Moonglum said, trying desperately to keep the nervousness that was wracking his brain from creeping into his voice. The confidence in his own brilliance he’d enjoyed just an hour earlier was fading fast. Now there was a hoard of dwarves preparing to hunt him down. It was time to move on. He put on his pack and gestured north to Amaryllis. The halfling nodded silently and followed the wizard as he picked his way through the undergrowth west of the path.

“Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building,” Moonglum muttered under his breath as they vacated their hiding spot.

“What was that?” asked Amaryllis from behind him.

“Nothing…” Moonglum rolled his eyes. No one ever understands me, the wizard thought dejectedly for the second time that day. But then a realization came to him. Here he was, a powerful magic item in his pocket, traveling with a skilled rogue who was so pure and innocent that she would never question his motives. And she was a babe.

The gnome brightened considerably. At the very least, this was going to get interesting. Very interesting. And that was just fine with Moonglum.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Adventure 6: The end of the road

Odo had his warhammer back, and now he had his home back as well. After we had finished off the necromancer and his cronies, Odo asked us all to stay with him and celebrate.

“Uhh, Odo, I hate to interrupt your dance of joy, but this place is a dump. It’s uninhabitable,” I said, gesturing to the piles of bones and rubble around me.

Odo shook his bearded head. “That’s just not true…”

“You’re right, actually, I admit I was quite happy to interrupt your dance of joy,” which I thought looked like it could have passed as a mating ritual for a blind gnoll, had that blind gnoll been trying to mate with a rhinocerous. “The point remains, though, that it’s going to be awhile before this place smells like anything other than barbecued evil.”

Odo, clearly in a good mood, just laughed. “You have not seen what dwarves can do in only a small amount of time. You see, I was so confident in your abilities that I told my clan to follow several days behind me. They should be arriving shortly. This will be home again in no time. Besides, you are all heroes now to my people. They will want to honor you with lavish gifts. Further back I noticed the door to a secret hoard of our finest treasures that was sealed by dwarven runes and was not touched by the necromancer. You will all be rewarded generously as I promised.”

None of us could really argue with that, so we decided to stay, and even Lotheryn and Ieuan lightened somewhat in their attitude toward our dwarven friend.

Odo was as good as his word. His clan showed up two days later and had the place fit for a king in slightly less than a month. We grew to like the dwarf – it seems that dwarves are gruff only to outsiders, and then only because dwarves have little respect for those who do not share their work ethic. Once you have earned their respect and trust, they become a different people entirely. We spent most days working alongside Odo’s people and most nights feasting in the main hall, which was the first area to be restored to its former glory.

The only interruption to our mirth was an unfortunate incident with our simple-minded barbarian. Malak, it seems, had become quite smitten with Odo’s oldest daughter, Grunda. Dinner soon became an awkward affair as Malak, in all his subtlety, insisted on sitting next to Grunda and wooing her with all his might. Mostly this consisted of spilling his food on her lap, but she seemed to enjoy the advances. Odo was still so content with having his kingdom restored that he either didn’t notice or passed it off as innocent flirting.

I will never forget, however, the night Odo found Malak, umm, “demonstrating his skill with a broadsword” while “sparring” with Grunda (those unskilled in the euphemistic arts will be slightly confused, but I do not wish this narrative to become inappropriate). As I mentioned previously, I have seen dwarves in battle, filled with fury at their enemies, bellowing war-cries as they fought passionately. I realized, as I was awoken by what I thought was an earthquake, that I had never seen dwarves REALLY mad. I have now. It took me, Bolt, and four dwarven men to restrain Odo from destroying Malak on the spot. When we finally got Malak away from the enraged dwarf, the barbarian seemed confused.

“Why is the dwarf angry? I didn’t do anything bad.”

“Uhh Malak,” Bolt tried to explain, “As much as Odo is happy that we helped him get his home back, I don’t think his daughter was included in the reward. I’m going to go out on a limb and say he wasn’t planning on having a human as a son-in-law, or grandson for that matter. I would leave now, before he tries to fight you again.”

I agreed. “Odo’s not going to let this go. You need to get out of here. NOW,” I said emphatically.

Malak may not be the sharpest sword on the rack, but he is certainly proud, and he knew when his honor was being questioned. He looked at both of us with a mixture of anger and sadness. Without a word, he turned and left.

Right then, Moonglum appeared from around the corner, sleepily rubbing his eyes.

“What’s going on, amigos?”

We explained to him that Malak had been caught with Odo’s daughter.

The gnome looked confused. “Daughter? Odo doesn’t have a daught…” And then it dawned on him. “That was a woman?!? Holy bearded dwarves, Batman!” I wasn’t familiar with the expression, but I caught the basic gist, and shushed him before he got the rest of us in trouble.

When Malak didn’t return, we went to his quarters and observed that all of his gear was gone. The barbarian had simply left. No goodbye, no forwarding address, nothing. Our fellowship had lost its biggest member, and arguably its best fighter. The six of us who remained were gloomy at having lost our companion, but we didn’t have any time to dwell on it. Before we could discuss whether or not we wanted to go after him, we felt a rumble in the earth.

What is Odo pissed about now, I thought. Just then two dwarves came rushing into the room, summoning us to the dwarf chieftain’s chambers. Something was up.

When we got there, Odo was clearly still angry, but now something else had earned his wrath.

“I have a new mission for you adventurers,” he began in a voice that barely held back his rage. “Since your friend has decided to disregard the laws of my house and the basic principles of honor, I will give you the chance to earn your pardon.”

Bolt began to object, but Odo silenced him with a look that could have melted stone. “He was YOUR COMPANION. You may not have committed the act, but he was partly your responsibility. Here is your opportunity to atone for that.

“I have suspected for several weeks that there is still some evil lurking in the depths of this mine. It has now been confirmed. The evil still inhabits the lower tunnels and there is only one way to rid ourselves of it. A matriarch of our people was entombed long ago with a sacred jewel that has the power to ward off this evil for good. Apparently my forebears were unable to get to the tomb when this evil first appeared. We must go down and recover this jewel. We leave immediately – I would send you alone, but I am the only one who knows the proper words to activate the stone’s power.”

As Odo donned his armor, Lotheryn pulled me aside. “We don’t have to answer to this dwarf. What Malak did was unfortunate, but he is asking too much. We should just go; it’s obvious our welcome is worn out, and it’s a welcome I didn’t really desire in the first place.”

Iuean nodded in agreement. “I thought maybe these dwarves would be different, but clearly they are not. I’m with Lotheryn. Leave Odo to get his own jewel.”

I sighed. “I happen to agree with you, but we can’t leave. If we tried to leave now, we’d have to fight our way out of this place, and I will not kill innocent dwarves because of a questionable decision made by their leader. If we help him do this, we can leave without issue. I don’t like the situation any more than you, but our hands are tied.”

Both of the elven women gave me an icy stare and turned away, but they followed when we began to make our way down to the lower mines. We took a long passageway down only to find ourselves at a dead end. Odo touched a place in the stone and a section of the wall rolled back. We walked through the opening to the smell of death and decay. I smelled something else.

“Orcs.” I muttered under my breath as I took Narqualme in my hands. There was going to be killing before we got out of this place.

As we walked forward, we heard the distinct grunting of orcs to both sides of us. Five shapes materialized out of the darkness.

“Let’s buck these fools,” Bolt said as he unsheathed his sword and charged into battle. Not wanting to be outdone, I charged in next to him, swinging my flail at any orc that moved. I felt almost detached from my body as I dropped one foul beast after another. We moved steadily through the mines; more and more orcs came at us. I vaguely recall seeing Amaryllis moving in and out of the shadows while the wizard and the sorcerer lit the cave with their magic missiles. But I was alone in my own personal mission of death. Nothing phased me as I slew orc after orc. My grim determination to eliminate every single one was the only thing that mattered.

I have no idea how long this lasted before I was jerked back to reality by Lotheryn’s hand on my shoulder. She looked frightened by what she saw in my face.

“You can stop – the orcs are all dead. We found the tomb.”

I looked around at the pile of bodies surrounding me. I hadn’t realized I had killed that many. A dead orc is a good orc, I always say, but I did not enjoy being so out of control of my own actions. It frightened me somewhat.

The inward contemplation was put aside as Odo removed the lid of the tomb and reached in. He produced a magnificent red pendant that gleamed with its own light in the inky blackness of the mine. He began chanting dwarven verse in a deep, guttural voice, concentrating on the pendant. Before he could finish his cantation, the mine rumbled and out of the gloom shambled the evil being that inhabited the place; a hideous, scaly beast with a snout like a beak and a powerful tail. It pounded the ground with its forelegs and knocked us all to floor, interrupting Odo’s spell.

He yelled in frustration, “A bulette! We must kill the beast so I can finish my spell of warding!” He shouted something else in dwarven and charged at the monster.

Bolt looked at me and shrugged his shoulders. “This don’t look like any burlesque I’ve ever seen, but whatever. I’ll just add this to my trophy case of butt ugly beasts I’ve bucked.” Bolt sprinted in to join. Amaryllis was already there, as she somersaulted past the beast’s head, brandishing her short sword. I started to follow.

Just then we saw several more orcs rush in from our flank, heading straight for Lotheryn. I quickly changed direction to intercept them.

“I can handle these guys,” I shouted to the druid. “Go make sure Bolt and Amaryllis are alright!”
She nodded and shouted back, “I’ll have Anca give you a hand.” The wolf pounced from behind me, grappling with the orc to my right, his large claws rending the orc's leather armor.

It was then I noticed that Ieuan and Moonglum hadn’t joined the fight. We could certainly use some of those handy magic missiles, I thought to myself, as I took a swing with Narqualme. After landing a solid blow that temporarily dazed my opponent, I hazarded a quick glance behind me to see what was going on.

Moonglum was yelling at Ieuan and gesturing wildly at the bulette. Ieuan was arguing with the gnome about something, but suddenly stopped and looked at the ground. When she looked up, she had her necklace in her hand and a tear streaming down her cheek. Moonglum had turned toward us and was moving his hands and muttering, preparing to cast a spell. Understanding dawned on me too late.

“NOOOOOOOOO!” I yelled, loud enough to make Bolt turn. The bulette saw its opportunity and hit him across the chest at the same time multiple fireballs exploded around us.

Having some forewarning of what was coming, I was able to avoid the greater part of the blast, but Bolt was not so lucky. As the smoke cleared, I saw him lying there, unconscious. The orcs had been blown away by the fire, so I rushed in to intercept the bulette before it could stomp on the paladin and crush him. At that moment Amaryllis landed a blow on its flank, distracting the creature enough to allow me time to get in the fight. Lotheryn rushed in and healed Bolt enough to get him on his feet. Bolt stepped back to drink a potion when I heard Moonglum cackle with glee.

“THAR SHE BLOWS!!!” he yelled as another fireball exploded around us. The gnome had gone insane. Bolt fell unconscious again, barely breathing. Ieuan had sunk to her knees, tears streaming down her face as she breathed the word “no” over and over again. As Lotheryn tended to Bolt, I turned back to the bulette in time to see it burrow underground, heavily wounded from the beating it had taken. It surfaced in front of Moonglum, who was paying no attention; he was too impressed with his own magical prowess to care. Odo reacted quickly for a man his size, charging over to give it one last blow from his hammer. The beast’s skull crunched as it sunk to the ground, dead before it could take a bite out of the gnome.

Ieuan was now sobbing uncontrollably, her head buried in her hands. Lotheryn was shouting Bolt’s name, trying to revive him. Odo had retrieved the jewel and begun chanting again. All I saw or heard was Moonglum - bouncing around like a child and laughing wildly.

I ran to him in a blind rage and grabbed the small man to lift him to my eye level, pinning him against the cavern wall. He still had a mirthful gleam in his eye, but the strength of my grip and ferocity of my voice seemed to bring him mostly back to his wits.

“I’ve put up with your eccentricities, gnome, but now I am done with you. You nearly killed us! ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?” My heart was pounding in my chest. It took all my willpower to keep myself from pummeling this over-sized lawn decoration into oblivion.

“Taran.” I heard behind me. I turned around. Bolt was on his feet, but his face was burned so badly I could barely recognize him. “Put him down. The thing is dead. That’s all that matters. Let him go.”

I turned back and glared at the gnome one more time before I unceremoniously dumped him on the ground. Lotheryn was doing her best to comfort Ieuan, who had stopped crying but was now staring sullenly at the floor, unable to look anyone in the eye. Odo finally finished his chant and seemed satisfied with the results. He guided our weary group back to the upper levels of the mine.

I didn’t say another word to anyone as I left the group to wash the blood off of myself and to get some much needed sleep. I didn’t trust myself to speak, afraid I would unleash my fury on the gnome again. My last thought before sleep took me was that our fellowship was broken.

In the morning I woke and gathered my things to leave. I had no desire to remain in Odo’s caverns any longer. The vision of those fireballs exploding was playing continuously through my head. On my way out, I saw Odo, who informed me that all of us were fully pardoned and that I was welcome to a week’s worth of provisions. It was a nice gesture, but I heard no friendship or gratitude in his voice - it was apparent that we had indeed worn out our welcome. After gathering provisions, I made my way to the main gates. Just in front of them I saw Lotheryn and Bolt. Each had their gear packed and appeared ready to leave. Lotheryn had been crying.

As I approached she handed me a note. It read:

I have decided to leave. I cannot explain why I did what I did. The horror of my actions has not left my mind and I fear it will not for as long as I stay with you. It will haunt me. I am deeply sorry. Please know that you have been great friends. Goodbye.

“So I guess this is it,” Bolt said after a lengthy silence. It wasn’t a question. “Amaryllis has decided to stay and help teach the dwarven children, which good ol’ Odo said was fine, as his clan could use such people to help them rebuild their kingdom. I have no idea where the gnome is; I haven’t seen him since we got back last night. As for myself, I need to be with my people. There may be other threats out there, and the Kingdom needs me. I am its rightful ruler.”

I gave him the half-hug, half-handshake that seemed to be the way his people embraced. “It was a pleasure fighting beside you, my friend. If you ever need a good ranger…”

“I won’t be sending for YOU! I’ll send for someone who can actually use a bow.” He said with a grin.

“Yeah, well, you’ll need someone to carry you around when you get knocked unconscious,” I threw right back. I didn’t always see eye to eye with the paladin, but he was a great ally and a great man. I would miss his companionship. “Go with Ehlonna.”

“Only if She can keep up with me,” he said, as he turned away. His long, quick strides soon took him over a hill and out of sight.

I turned back to Lotheryn. “What are your plans?”

Lotheryn looked uncomfortable. “I am not sure. I have not unearthed any sign of terellor or the druid who gave us the prophecy. Thus far I have been a failure to my Grove. I cannot go back to them empty-handed. I suppose I must resume my search. I know of a city north of here where there lives a renowned herbalist. That is as good a place to start as any.” She paused and looked at me. I could see the sadness in her eyes. “But it will certainly be different, traveling alone after so long. What about you?”

I thought about it for a moment. “I must resume my search as well. There are obviously orcs in this region, as we found out during our lovely spelunking expedition. I will find their clan’s settlement and see if I can find any information about my sister. If not, I will move on to another region. It has been thirty years since Aralee was taken, but I will not give up. Ehlonna will guide me to her. As much as it pains me, I must persist.” The words felt wrong, even as I said them, as if Ehlonna was letting me know that She did not appreciate my putting words in her mouth. I shook off the feeling, annoyed with myself for being reluctant to say goodbye.

Lotheryn just nodded slowly. We embraced, said farewell, and left in different directions without saying anything more. Within an hour, I came upon signs of a small orc raiding party climbing into the foothills. My instincts as a ranger kicked in without hesitation: I determined that four orcs had passed through roughly 3 days earlier, going southeast at a leisurely clip. One orc was injured and another looked to be larger than the others, possibly as a result of having some troll blood in his lineage. They were most likely armed to the teeth and undoubtedly knew the area much better than I. I grew uneasy looking at those tracks as I realized what I had to do.

I turned around and headed straight north, hoping I would be able to catch up with Lotheryn by nightfall. Ehlonna had made my path clear.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thursday wish list

What do you most want to see happen this Thursday for the final D&D game of 2008? Honestly, I wouldn't mind if TC killed all of us; or at least intentionally tried to kill us. That would sure be a final fight to remember. I would also like to see use of the forgery skill, an enemy spell caster counterspell either me or Bethany, an enemy spell caster turn John's skin white and/or tons of really sweet, high level rewards that cannot be used in combat. Like a magic carpet or something. What about everyone else? What would make a memorable final night?

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The Future of D&D

Here are some ideas/suggestions/options for us to think about as we move into Phase II of the Ultimate D&D Experience. We've mentioned a lot of these before, but never really come to a consensus as to what everyone wants.

We can keep playing 3.5 or we can move on to play version 4.0, which, according to Brian, is much easier to understand and seems like it would be more fun. The problem with that is that there are a couple of classes (druids, barbarians, and sorcerers) that don’t exist in 4.0 yet, so we would have to wait until March before we know how those classes work.

If we move on to 4.0, we can keep our current characters and just try to adapt them to the new rules or we can create entirely new ones. If we start before March, obviously we have to create new ones because OJ, Julia, and Bethany will all be without a 4.0 version of their character.

We need to decide what we want to do about our DM. It seems like it’s not going to work for TC to come out all the time because of the driving situation. However, I do not have softball again until the end of January and even then we’re looking to move it to Thursday nights instead of Friday, which would allow us to play D&D on Friday. That seems like it would make it easier on TC (provided he doesn't work or have class on Fridays) and whoever drives him home afterward. It would also make it easier on the few of us that have real jobs.

But I also know that Brian is interested in being a DM and some of us have expressed interest in playing a different style than TC may be comfortable with. What I would suggest is that whether or not we start playing 4.0, we can move on with Brian as our DM and ask TC if he would like to join our party as a player.

My personal preference would be to move our game to Friday nights and start playing version 4.0 when a couple more characters become available. I think we can experiment with some fun things like the skill challenge in version 3.5 until that happens.

What do you all think?

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Thursday Thursday Thursday!!!!

Be there for our last D&D episode before the holidays and weddings take over our lives.


Our place.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Adventure 6: This is no mine...

There’s a joke that starts, “This dwarf walks into a bar full of black guys…” I’m not sure how it progresses from there, but the punch line involves me standing in a dank cave (excuse me… “mine”) filled with dead short people. If this joke is a favorite of yours, I would find some new material. It’s not funny.

So there we were, enjoying some of D’Brickashaw’s finest ale (they always break out the good stuff for the triumphant adventurers – it’s a hard life, but it has its rewards), when a weathered dwarf stumbled in, looking half-crazed and wholly disheveled. The entire place went silent as we all turned to look at the stranger. Dwarves are not common in any but the biggest cities (dwarves generally prefer the solitude offered by their clan-based mining lifestyles), so it was either a wrong turn at Albuquerque or a specific quest that brought the stout fellow to this particular establishment.

“Bring me ale!” He shouted loudly. “And someone point me to the adventurers who slayed the dragon of Dantalleen!”

The barkeep had a furious look in his eye as he got ready to toss the dwarf out onto his well-armored behind, but Bolt, never afraid to take credit for his accomplishments, spoke up first. “We slayed the dragon, dwarf. And we’ve slayed a lot of other stuff too. Quit your braying and tell us what you want.” Usain gave the barkeep a look that said, “I’ll handle this” as the dwarf stomped over to our table.

None of us were all too happy to be roused from our relaxation, especially by a dwarf. Malak, Moonglum, and Amaryllis had experienced little of dwarves in their previous lives, but Lotheryn and Ieuan, two of the kindest, gentlest souls in the seven kingdoms, had suddenly become tense as a couple of tigers waiting to pounce. Each had a look on her face that could have melted stone. Elves are not fond of dwarves as a rule, mostly stemming from inter-racial wars that took place many, many ages ago. Suffice to say, people who live as long as they do have trouble letting bygones be bygones. Lotheryn had a special distaste for dwarves, seeing as how they had little regard for the natural environment to which she had devoted her life. I had a number of dealings with the people, finding them to be rather hard to know. They shared with me a hatred of orcs, so I had joined them in raiding orc strongholds from time to time. But from my experience, the cliché is true: the only friendly dwarf is one beer away from passing out. (Boy do they brew some good beer, though.)

Bolt, however, had some experience in diplomacy with dwarven clans that had taken up mining just outside his kingdom’s borders. We let him do most of the talking.

“Well?” he started after the ale had been served and the dwarf had taken a long draught, “What brings you to us? What is your name and your business? I put my reputation on the line to keep you from getting shown the hard way out of this town. Now I want some answers.”

The dwarf drained the remainder of his ale – Malak and I exchanged a glance, impressed by his feats of alcoholic consumption – and seemed to take on a different demeanor as he began his tale. His name was Odo, and he came from an accomplished clan that had long been residents of the Trindane Mountains, living a prosperous life within a large mining community. His mood turned from gruff to enraged to despondent as he relayed the story of how an evil presence had awoken from the mines and destroyed most of his clan. His father, who had been away with a small group of his best warriors on a diplomatic mission, came back to find everyone slain. He went mad with grief and charged in recklessly with his warriors, only to be killed along with the rest of his kinsmen. Only two dwarves escaped, Odo, then an infant, and his nursemaid, who was able to sneak out before she was discovered. She told Odo the tale when he was old enough to hear it, and he’d been planning his revenge ever since. It had been 97 years from that fateful day, and Odo was ready to reclaim his birthright.

“We must venture there and find my father’s warhammer, Grond, which I can wield against my enemies. I will establish a new clan and we will build upon my father’s great works. But I need warriors to help me. Even having lost much, I am proud. I do not ask this lightly. If you help me, you will be rewarded with some of the finest weapons, jewels and armor you could imagine. You will also forever be a friend to my clan, even these elves. What say you?”

None of us knew what to say. I wanted to help this dwarf, but what chance did we stand against an evil that had been able to defeat a clan of dwarves? Amaryllis, however, seemed excited.

“Yes! Of course we’ll help you! My people have a long history of helping the dwarves reclaim their former greatness! My great great great great grandfather Bulbo helped some dwarves kill a dragon who had taken over their mountain. And then, his nephew, Fromo, helped another dwarf defeat an evil Bullfrog that had killed the dwarf community who lived in some mines. At least, I think that’s how the story went. It was made into a book, ummm, The Ruler of the Finger Adornments, I think it was called. Anyway, I could go down in hobbit…er, I mean, halfling history!”

(Two men in dark clothing immediately entered the bar and handed Amaryllis a piece of parchment with the title “LAWSUIT” and a lot of small words underneath. They left without a word. Amaryllis was confused, but quickly put the paper aside and continued to implore us to undertake the quest.)

The halfling was so excited that we could not deny her. We decided to help the dwarf.

So that’s how we found ourselves entering a dark mineshaft into the old home of Odo’s clan. The place was dimly lit and everything further than 20 feet away was obscured by a dense fog. The place also smelled worse than Malak’s undershirt.

Odo somehow looked happy to be there. "Welcome to my family's mine," he said. Lotheryn and Ieuan both ignored the dwarf's welcome, glaring at him openly.

Bolt used his sword to poke at the skeletons of dwarves lying about. "This is no mine..."

"It's a space station!" declared Moonglum. Everyone looked at him quizzically. "Never mind," the gnome said, mumbling something about no one understanding his jokes. Gnomes.

The dwarf spoke up, “First we have to find the warhammer. Once that is in my grasp, we can make sure that all of the evil has left this place. The warhammer has power in it that only a descendant of my father can wield. It should not be difficult to find…”

Moonglum interrupted, “Uhh, hey Odo, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the entire place is completely filled with piles of junk and old weaponry. Are you telling me we have to look through each one to find this hammer?”

Odo glared at the gnome, “This is for my family’s honor! We will find the hammer!”

Moonglum rolled his eyes. “I’ll show you where you can stick your hammer…” I heard the wizard mutter, still obviously upset that no one could comprehend gnome humor.

We worked our way in, searching as we went. I saw Malak looking at something closely.

“What is it you got there, Malak?” I asked him. He was staring intently at a silver necklace inlaid with several rubies. “Ooooh, that would bring out the color of your eyes quite nicely.”

Malak looked at me joyfully. “Really? You think…” Just that moment we heard a giant thud as a passageway collapsed in front of us to reveal a gigantic tentacled monster. Malak threw down the necklace as we charged in, hacking away at its limbs. One of them struck Anca and knocked the wolf aside as the thing lashed out in rage. After several minutes of bobbing and weaving, we sawed off enough limbs to get a shot at its head. I looked at Odo as the thing lay shuddering on the ground.

“I hope there aren’t many more of THOSE lurking about, dwarf. Or this is going to be an awfully short search.”

Odo just glanced at me darkly and looked even more determined as he continued to search through the piles of junk.

After several hours of this, and having dispatched several more enemies (most of them groups of undead dwarves), we came upon what looked like a throne room. Apparently this is where the head of the dwarven clan had sat before his people. Unfortunately, the only thing there now were several gobs of slime. To make matters worse, the gobs of slime tried to kill us.

Luckily, gobs of slime aren’t really that adept at killing people, so we took care of them without much trouble. Bolt looked disgusted as he wiped the goo from his sword. I was about to make a comment about oversized boogers, when Lotheryn held something up in the light.

“Is this what we’re looking for?” she asked. It was the most magnificently crafted weapon I’d ever seen. Perfectly balanced, wrought with gleaming sapphires and emeralds, dwarven runes running down the haft – I couldn’t help but catch my breath.

Odo’s eyes lit up like fireworks as he rushed over and took the warhammer from her. “Grond,” he breathed softly. “Finally, I can take the seat of my forefathers…”

“Not so fast, dwarf.” We heard a hissing voice say behind us. We turned around to see ourselves faced with a necromancer, his boneguard, and five other undead minions. “I will take that from you, just as I took it from your father years ago. And you will go to join him…”

The necromancer had barely finished his sentence when Ieuan decided she’d had enough small talk. A large ball of fire launched from her hand over the heads of the necromancer and his cronies, landing behind them and bursting outward. It immediately charred the lot of them, leaving the necromancer severely weakened, and the boneguard looking rather unsure of himself (or as unsure of itself as it’s possible for a skull to look).

It was a quick matter to dispatch of the necromancer and his guard. We all looked appreciatively at Ieuan, who just shrugged. “Well, I guess that necklace I bought back in town came in handy after all. I still don’t trust this dwarf.” She looked suspiciously at Odo, who was trying to make himself comfortable in his father’s throne.

“We’re done now,” I told her. “Odo has his hammer, his throne and his cave. We’ve finished what we came here to do, so you don’t have to put up with the dwarf any longer. In fact, if we leave now, we might be able to catch happy hour back at the bar. Who’s with me?”

To be continued…

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Adventure 5: Defending D'Brickashaw

We needed a break. After that fight with the evil paladin, we were spent. I think I slept 19 straight hours once we got back to the town’s inn. And I was better off than most. Bolt had once again taken the brunt of the damage (enemies just seem to be drawn to him for some reason – maybe it’s the ceaseless insults he hurls at them, but there's a good chance it's the Axe Body Spray) and needed a week of recovery. The rest of us recuperated in our own way while Lotheryn tended to his wounds (lucky bastard – I wish MY wounds needed tending). I got a chance to break in the new bow I hadn’t been able to use yet. Moonglum spent most of his time in Ye Olde Arcana Shoppe, browsing the merchandise. Ieuan and Lotheryn, when she wasn’t tending Bolt, spent a lot of time in deep elvish meditation. Amaryllis volunteered her time down at the local orphanage. Malak did…well, I didn’t ask and he didn’t tell, but I’m sure it was whatever barbarians do when they’re not killing stuff.

The only one who didn’t enjoy the break was Bolt, and not just because he had stitches covering most of his body. He seemed restless, anxious to be moving on. When asked about it, he was evasive, saying he just wanted to get back on his feet. Finally Bolt seemed well enough to resume our travelling. We decided to take one more day in town to re-supply ourselves and we’d depart the following day. That night I awoke late to the sound of someone moving down the hallway. I decided to follow.

When I got outside the inn, I made myself known.

“Bolt. Where do you think you’re off to?”

The paladin turned around, surprised. “How’d you hear me?”

“You’re wearing banded mail. A china shop doing a cartwheel would make less noise than you. Now what’s going on?”

At that moment, Lotheryn, Amaryllis, and Ieuan all emerged from the shadows. Bolt was even more incredulous. “Wha…?”

“See? THAT’S how you move silently. Now let’s have it. What’s the deal with the late night escape?”

Bolt sighed. “Look, it’s nothing against you guys, I just have this weird sense that something’s wrong back home. I can’t shake it. It’s been bothering me since we got back here. This isn’t your problem, so I’m going alone to find out what the deal is. It’s been interesting hanging around with the lot of you, but I gotta go take care of this.”

The rest of us looked at each other in unspoken agreement. Ieuan went over to Bolt and put her hand on his arm. “We’re coming with you. Whatever trouble there is, you’ll be better off with friends around. We know you think you can handle this on your own, but let us help you. You’ve saved our lives countless times – give us a chance to do the same for you.”

“Besides, Bolt,” I added with a wry grin, “Who’s going to shove a health potion down your throat when you get knocked unconscious? “

The tall paladin looked as uncomfortable as I’ve ever seen him (and I’ve seen him face to face with a giant red dragon breathing flame down his armor). He glanced at each of us and finally resigned himself to the situation. “You guys aren’t going away, are you?” We shook our heads. “Fine. Come with me then. But just know that I didn’t ask you to do this!” He tried to sound as annoyed as possible, but I caught a hint of relief in there as well.

We re-supplied the next morning and left as soon as we could. We traveled for several days before we finally came to the outskirts of Bolt’s ancestral lands. I could sense his growing excitement as he quickened the pace of his walk. We were headed for a village called D’Brickashaw, but Bolt wanted to make a stop first. He told us about a small outpost on the edge of the kingdom where he’d spent a lot of his time training for the Holy Knighthood. Bolt was hoping to reunite with the grizzled veteran, Pedidimus, who had commanded the outpost when he trained there. But as we crested a small rise, I saw Bolt’s face harden. I looked down into the vale and saw nothing but smoldering shells of buildings. Bolt took off faster than I’d ever seen him, running breakneck down the hill. We hurried after him.

The young lord was seething as he looked around at the razed outpost. “Who could have done this?!? What happened here? I swear vengeance on whoever perpetrated this crime!”

The rest of us began looking for clues as to what might have happened. The wreckage didn’t appear to be more than a day old. I smelled the stench of orcs as soon as I got close, but there was obviously another group involved. As I was examining an embedded arrow with some strange, uncouth runes, I heard Moonglum muttering to himself, “Sand people! But these arrow volleys, too accurate for sand people. Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise…”

I was confused. “What was that, gnome?”

Moonglum looked up suddenly, unaware that I had been standing there. “What? Oh, nothing…just, uhh, mumbling to myself.”

What a strange race, those gnomes. Through a quick search we determined that it wasn’t Imperial Stormtroopers, whatever the heck those are, but actually a large group of gnolls that had apparently allied themselves with the orcs to raid the outpost. Judging by the tracks they left as they marched out, they were headed straight for D’Brickashaw. But I was able to give Bolt some good news.

“Lord Bolt! Do not despair yet – there are other tracks here among the orcs and gnolls, made several hours before the raid. I do not believe your people were taken at unawares. It appears they retreated before the enemy, possibly to take up defenses at a better location.”

Bolt looked grim as he glanced at the setting sun, “Well, let’s get going and catch up to these fools before they do any more damage.”

We jogged at a brisk pace all evening and night. It took us 5 solid hours, but we made it. I carried Amaryllis and Malak carried Moonglum most of the way. What is it they say about short people? I don't remember, but I do know I've never felt more like I needed a horse. We were sucking wind by the time we got to town. Bolt shouted the greeting of the Knighthood to the stationed guard, and we were let in through the gates. It didn’t take us long to find out what had happened. Most of the men stationed at the outpost had retreated to D’Brickashaw and taken up defenses there. The orcs and gnolls had issued a challenge, but had not yet attacked. Some men had gone to warn other towns further into the kingdom and to find a garrison of men to provide reinforcements. Bolt found his old friend, Pedidimus, and set about planning the defense of the village. The rest of us swore our weapons and abilities to the cause. We went about the next day fortifying the town.

At nightfall, the attack came. The orcs came from the east, the gnolls from the west. I quickly saw what it was that had left the strange arrows – gnoll demonic archers, deadly in their accuracy and ruthlessness. Everyone fought valiantly, but there were tremendous losses on both sides. The next night brought much of the same. When we gathered at the dawn of the third morning, the sound of clanging weapons only minutes subsided, the only ones left hale were six of us adventurers (Amaryllis had been struck by a poisoned arrow from one of the demonic archers and was stable, but not in any condition to fight), and two men of the Knighthood. Pedidimus was at a loss. “We can’t hold them off and I have no idea where our reinforcements are at! The defenses of the town are destroyed! This is a dark day for the Knighthood indeed…”

I interjected. “Look, I know you all have your pride; I have mine as well. But I think it’s time to get the civilians out of here. Bolt and Malak – take Amaryllis and the healthy Knights and get your people out to safety. Gnolls and Orcs both hate the light. If you leave by early afternoon and stick to the open hills, you should be far enough away by nightfall that you’ll be out of danger. Ieuan, Lotheryn, Moonglum, and I will do what we can to delay these guys until you can get back, hopefully with reinforcements. I don’t think we’ll be able to save the entire town, but hopefully we can harry them enough to save most of it. It’s not the ideal plan, but it’s the one that stands the best chance of saving the most lives.”

Bolt looked furious. “Why should I go? I should stay and fight!”

“You and Malak are the strongest ones here!” I countered. “There are sick people that need to be carried on litters. Your strength and leadership are needed to keep people from panicking. As soon as you get the villagers to a safe place, get back here. I’m sure there will be fighting enough left for you. I promise I’ll save you a gnoll or two.”

We set the plan into action and got everyone out as planned. I clasped hands with Bolt as he left, hoping I would still be able to do so when he returned. It was like a ghost town as the four of us waited for nightfall. As the sun set, we heard snarling coming from both sides of town. I climbed up on a nearby roof and fired an arrow at the nearest orc. “That was a warning shot!” (Actually it was meant for the orc's head, but the orc didn’t need to know that.) “Come any closer and you’ll get another one of those in your eye. You are not wanted here. But if it is death you desire, I am open for business, as are my friends.” Well, it wasn’t the best battle speech, but I thought it sounded decent. I’d worked on it most of the day.

The orcs weren’t all that impressed. I heard their guttural laughter as they tossed torches onto the outbuildings. The fight was on. Ieuan and I ran up to the rooftops and hurried our way over to the burning buildings via wooden planks we had set up in preparation. We had also set buckets of water on each of the roofs for this very purpose. Moonglum summoned a centipede to help fight off the gnolls on the west side of town. Lotheryn did some strange druid-y spell to allow her and Anca to run up the walls, evading the gnolls and doing some damage of their own. I made a mental note to ask how she did that when this was over.

I, meanwhile, ran as fast as I could to get to the first fire. At this point, the fire had spread, and I had to jump in the midst of the flames to grab the bucket of water. Not thinking clearly, I grabbed the metal handle of the bucket, which by now was scalding. I managed to put out the flames, but my hands were wracked with searing pain from the white hot metal. I picked up my bow again and began firing arrows at the orcs, who were well lit by the firelight. It didn’t matter – the pain in my hands was excruciating and I couldn’t have hit an orc if my life depended on it (and it was looking more and more likely that it would). Thankfully, Ieuan was able to keep the orcs at bay with her magic missiles and various rays.

The orcs were now amongst the buildings and had found the ladder we used to climb up the building. I was too far away to save one of the buildings, so I kicked out the plank to keep the fire from spreading and ran to help Ieuan. We hadn’t downed any of the orcs, and only one of the gnolls was even bleeding. It didn’t look good.

At that moment I saw a large shape sprint out of the shadows and slam into an orc about to throw another torch.

“Malak!” I shouted. “Bout time you showed up! There’s killing to do!” Malak grunted in response as he hacked away at a couple of orcs.

I heard a shout of encouragement on the other end of town, as Bolt ran in to help Lotheryn and Moonglum with the gnolls. As I watched Malak do his business, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Ieuan, looking rather nervous. “I hate to interrupt your gruntfest over here, but there are several orcs and a gnoll looking at me rather inappropriately. And I don’t mean from a distance. They’re right there. Seeing as how you’re the one with the armor and the flail and whatnot, I just thought I’d let you know. I’m going to stand over here.”

Well, I couldn’t hit the broadside of a dragon with my bow anyway, so I pulled out Narqualme and charged in to do some real damage. I managed to hem the demon archer in the fire, but he just cackled with glee and tried to get himself into position for another shot. Ieuan nailed him with a magic missile and knocked him off the roof. We also managed to take down some of the orcs, and I put out the fire before it spread too much. Moonglum, Bolt and Lotheryn had almost finished off the gnolls. Malak, while looking somewhat worse for wear, was a sword stroke away from killing the orcs he was fighting. Not only had we managed to minimize damage to the town, but we were actually going to fight these guys off!

And then we saw the ettin. This thing was the ugliest beast I’d ever seen, made all the uglier since it had two hideous heads, instead of just one. He shambled into the torch light, gave a loud yell, and looked straight at Malak with rage in his eye.

“Oh shit,” was all the barbarian could muster as the ettin charged in and took a swing at him with his massive club. The sound was like the crunch of dry leaves as the club hit Malak squarely on the shoulder.

We managed to dispatch the remaining orcs and gnolls and raced toward Malak to help. As we ran, I shouted to Bolt, "Where are the reinforcements? They'll be here any minute, right?"

Bolt shook his head, "The messengers were waylaid by the gnolls just outside of town. It's all on us. Don't worry. We got this." I wish I shared his optimism.

Lotheryn used her crazy spider-climbing to get to Malak first. She was able to heal his shoulder without drawing attention from the ettin. Bolt ran in headlong and opened up a couple of wounds on the ettin, only to get knocked unconscious by the giant. I kept firing arrow after arrow at its tough hide as Moonglum and Ieuan launched their magic missiles. Anca bit its leg and Malak hacked at its torso. Finally it staggered when I hit it in the throat with a shot and Ieuan’s missile brought it down. Right then the first rays of sunlight crept over the eastern horizon. We had won. The town was safe, if a little singed.

As we nursed our wounds that day, the townspeople came in and thanked us for our help. Bolt was lauded as the finest Knight they’d seen, a title which seemed to suit him just fine. When we finally got a moment’s peace, I walked over to the paladin.

“Next time you invite us to your kingdom, show us a little hospitality, huh? Can’t you just bake some cookies or something?”

He grinned and shot right back, “Hey, this is how we do it here. Why do you think I’m such a pimp? Get your cookies somewhere else, we only serve justice in my country.”

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Some flaw suggestions

My favorites for each person from the list of flaws Bolt posted, with my suggestion afterwards. Most of them have the benefit of an extra feat, but if not, I listed the specific benefit:

Taran: Arachnophobia, drunkard, overconfident, perversion, pride
I think my favorite is the perversion one. Here’s the effect:

When a character takes this flaw they find themselves forced to say the most inappropriate things when around important officials, in battle, and especially in the bar. The character makes a will save (DC 15 + Charisma modifier) every 3 rounds of a battle or every 5 or so minutes when dealing with NPC's, if the character fails they say something sexual, inappropriate, or just plain disgusting. This provokes enemies into attacking the pervert. Any enemy within 20 feet of the perverted character must now have the urge to attack the pervert for his actions and because of how disgusted they are, they take -1 to attacks against the character. If the character is dealing with NPC's then they are allowed a will save to see if they can resist the characters inappropriateness (Will DC 10 + characters Cha mod). If the NPC fails the save and are indifferent, they are now unfriendly. If unfriendly it takes 2 failed checks (they don't have to be in a row, they can be anywhere between a hour apart) to make them hostile towards the pervert.

Lotheryn: Merciful, claustrophobia, metal allergy, overwhelming empathy
Of course Julia really is allergic to metal, but that one’s no fun, so we’ll pick overwhelming empathy for her. Here’s the effect:

When a character in your party within 50 ft.is damaged for 2 or more points you may take a Will save(DC17) with only half your modifier, if you fail or don't try, prevent 2 damage to that character and take 3 damage yourself. This damage does not trigger the Overwhelming Empathy of another character in the party, should they have the flaw.
When a character in your party within 50 ft.is Healed for 2 or more points you may take a Will save(DC17) with only half your modifier, if you fail or don't try, prevent 2 healing to that character and heal 1 damage to yourself.

Bolt: conceited, estranged, impatient, jerk, kleptomania, overconfident, prejudice
Oh so many good ones here. Impatient is good, but I like conceited:

When the character interacts with any intelligent creature of any race (including sub-races) other than their own; they take a −2 penalty to Bluff, Diplomacy, Disguise, Perform, Intimidate, and Gather Information. A Will save (DC 20) supresses the characters conceitedness towards others. This only works on a target by target basis. If the character begins to interact with another NPC, then another saving throw is necessary.

Moonglum: curious, disorganized, kleptomania, magic addiction, overconfident, penguin fear, whimsical
I just added penguin fear because I thought it would be funny for him to have a fear of penguins. But I think disorganized is the right way to go here:

Detriment: When taking an object out to hold during combat (ex. Sword, potion, coin ect.) roll 1d20. On a roll resulting in a number above a 5, taking the desired item out is a normal standard action. However if lower than a 5, the character instead uses their standard action to pull out a randomly decided undesired item. On a critical 1 the character drops all items into his square, other than the clothing or armor equipped to his person (Backpacks and things held in pockets do not count as "equipped".)
Benefit: There are various benefits that can be given by taking this flaw. Chose one:
A bonus feat
A +5 to all diplomacy checks for random things you can offer them in exchange for their cooperation, that have no in game relevance (things that you never threw away out of neglect)
Characters are now allowed to make Sleght of Hand checks with Bluff skill (people think they are just rummaging around for something) but take a -10 penalty if it is a cross class skill. For this, make a bluff check against an opponent's Sense Motive check; if you succeed, you treat it as though you succeeded using Sleight of Hand.

Amaryllis: merciful, compulsive truth-teller, curious, forgetful, inattentive
I think merciful is a good one for Amaryllis, although this would suck in combat:

Whenever a character is in combat and has the opportunity to deliver a final blow, the character must make a Will Save (DC of 20) in order to successfully kill the opponent. If the character fails the Will Save, they must end their actions and not strike/kill the opponent. This may result in an Attack of Opportunity.
The character may also interrupt a fellow ally (if they fail a Will Save of DC 15) if they are no more than 5ft (in other words, standing next to them) when their ally has the chance to deliver the final blow. This may result in an Attack of Opportunity.

Ieuan: merciful, horrible luck, magic addiction, necrophilia, overwhelming empathy
We have to pick necrophilia, don’t we? Here’s the effect:

While in the presence of any dead or undead creature of a physiology similar to your own, you take a -2 penalty on concentration checks and all intelligence, charisma, and wisdom based skills. The character must also make a Will Save (DC of 10 + Creature Level) to avoid getting down and dirty with the corpse.

Malak: drunkard, estranged, heartless, impulsivity, incompetent, jerk, numeral obliviousness, short attention span, short temper
So many good ones. But I think “jerk” is probably the best:

Varies depending on alignment:
Good: You try to be polite and friendly in conversation, but you are tactless, and sometimes you just can't help throwing in an offensive "joke". "Certainly, Your Highness. It would be our pleasure to destroy the Orc encampment for you. It shouldn't be too much of a problem--after all, those Orcs couldn't possibly smell any worse than you! AAHHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
You receive a -4 penalty on all Diplomacy and Gather Information checks.
Evil: You are outright hostile and mean in conversation. "What's the matter, Your Stupidness? Too much of an impotent wank to take care of those puny Orcs yourself, so you have to send some "expendable" street urchins to do your dirty work for you? Is that it?"
You receive a -6 penalty on all Diplomacy and Gather Information checks. Furthermore, every time you fail a Diplomacy or Gather Information check, the NPCs that you were interacting with lower their attitudes toward you by one level.
Neutral: You may choose whether you want this flaw to affect you as though you were Good or as though you were Evil. However, once you make the choice, you must stick with it--you cannot switch unless your alignment changes.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

D&D Flaws

I came across this web site today and thought that it might make a pretty fun addition to our D&D experience... it's called "D&D Flaws" and it's from a web site called D&D Wiki. (yes, it's a Dungeons and Dragons version of the world's most accurate encyclopedia.) Anyway, it's a list of some character flaws that our particular characters might have, and the corresponding negative effects, but each flaw also includes some benefit... usually it's just a bonus feat, but some of them are more flaw specific. Anyway, since I'm supposed to be studying, I took a moment and looked up some flaws that would be appropriate for our classes/characters/play style:

Lord Bolt - Impatient

Effect: You were born with the inability to wait, whether it be severe or minute, you are constantly at war with time. While others might seek to take something slow and carefully, you would much rather see the consequences quickly by rushing into the situation head on.

There are three choices you can take:

1. -2 to both Move Silent and Hide checks.

2. Entire party gains a -1 penalty on all Move Silent/Hide rolls.

3. (probably the one that would be most likely to happen) Every time a party member rolls a move silent check, you must roll a will save (DC 10), if you fail you abruptly stand and anyone in the room is alerted to your presence.

Benefits: bonus feat

Special: You must roleplay your character accordingly, while you may play it to any severity you wish, you must at least be slightly impatient, otherwise you are ineligible.

Taran - Quadrimurfractiphobia

You are terrified of the fourth wall being broken.

Prerequisite: None

Effect: Whenever you or anyone else say something not immediately related to the game you are playing, you must make a DC 15 Will save to avoid falling prone and cowering until somebody other than yourself finds a way for whatever is said to be incorporated into the game (no matter how ridiculous or arbitrary). You must cower for at least one full round.

Benefit: Bonus feat.

Example: You had just cast Magic Missile into the darkness, when someone in the other room asks where the Cheetos are. You fail your will save and therefore fall and cower until the DM says that it was a kobold whose snack you just blasted who said it, rather than someone in the other room.

There's more fun ones at the web site.. i have to get back to studying. But if you read the list of flaws with Malak in mind, it's high comedy.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Adventure 4: Decisions, Decisions

A little boy is dead because of me. A mother, already without her husband, is now without a son, and it’s my fault. I have killed my fair share of people in my time, but all of them deserved it. All had killed in their turn and deserved the justice that can only be meted out by steel. This…this was different. I suppose I should begin at the beginning.

We sat in the evil paladin’s mansion for about 2 more seconds before we decided that we were not quite up to the task. We high-tailed it out of there and got back to our wandering ways. Eventually we came to a fork in the road. The eastern route led to a town called Dantalleen, the northwestern route led to a sea-town called Undamar. I was fairly familiar with the area, having wandered these parts in search of marauding orcs (orcs being a fairly common sight in this part of the world, unfortunately). I pushed for Dantalleen, remembering from some years ago the fine mead served at the tavern. None of us were all that comfortable with the prospect of the ocean, so we headed east.

As we approached the outskirts of town, we were greeted by the wonderful sound of a hysterical woman. Sobbing and screaming, she ran up to us, babbling incoherently. Malak, out of the kindness of his heart, yelled at the woman and threw a kick in her direction. That didn’t sit too kindly with the rest of us, so Lotheryn sent Anca to keep Malak at bay while she bent down and comforted the woman. After a few minutes we finally got her to calm down enough to speak.

Apparently, this woman’s son had been chosen by the townsfolk to be sacrificed to the local dragon. What’s more, this woman had lost her husband several years ago while he was with the town militia defending against an orc raiding party. She felt that whatever service her family owed the town had been paid. In light of the orc incident, I happened to agree with her. It is very possible that I fought alongside her husband against those very orcs. I beseeched my fellow travelers.

“This is outrageous. The woman has obviously suffered enough. Let’s go get her son back and take care of this dragon.”

The womenfolk, still sniffling from the sad story they had heard, agreed. Malak was unimpressed. “What’s in it for Malak?” he asked, again showing the depth of his emotion and empathy.

“This dragon is still rather young,” the woman explained, “but it is rumored that he has inherited some of his father’s plunder, which was a great store indeed. His father struck fear into the hearts of men in these lands for many years before bequeathing his reign of terror to one of his children – the dragon that now requires sacrifices of us. The rest of the old dragon’s whelps have gone to harass other nearby villages.”

“That’s good enough for Malak! Let’s kill.”

Bolt seemed unmoved, but shrugged in reluctant agreement. We sent Lotheryn and Ieuan into town to find out where this dragon was, while the rest of us sat and sharpened our blades. Not long after, we heard the thunder of hooves coming up the road we had just traversed.

As the men approached, Bolt, in that lordly way he has, stepped in front of them and commanded a halt. “Hold up, my brays. What’s got you all in such a hurry?”

The men dismounted and breathlessly gave their story. Apparently there was more trouble. A local youth had insulted the troll conglomerate that had been extorting money and materials from Undamar, the village by the sea. The town was fairly broke from having been paying off these trolls for so long. The three trolls had sworn to return this very night and take their pay with destruction and murder, promising to rape and pillage. It sounded grim. My first thought was that housing in this area ought to be pretty affordable, what with the problems in the neighborhood. My second thought was to wonder why these men didn’t just leave the town with their families. When asked, the men said that evacuation was not an option; too many had lived their whole lives in Undamar and refused to abandon it to plunder.

I had an idea. “What if you promised the trolls some dragon loot? When they show up tonight, you let them know that on the morrow, they will be richer than they ever dreamt. That will give us time to save the boy and we can deliver the “goods” to these trolls.” I gave Bolt and Malak a glance, letting them know exactly what “goods” we meant to deliver.

Malak, ever perceptive, stepped in, “Whoa whoa whoa. Malak is not planning on sharing any of his dragon loot with no good trolls. I say we just kill…oooooh. Now Malak knows why you make funny quotation-like gestures with your fingers. HA! Funny ranger. Let’s kill.”

But the men disagreed. “The trolls have been offended too deeply. I fear they are in an awful rage and will not be reasoned with. Undamar will not survive the night…”

Just then the Lotheryn and Ieuan returned with the woman, having found out how to get to the dragon’s lair. We filled them in on Undamar’s plight. The woman did NOT look pleased. Clearly we had a choice to make. We realized that we could not both save the townspeople AND save the boy. You could have cut the tension with a +2 short sword.

“Awkward silence…” offered Amaryllis, trying unsuccessfully to lighten the mood. We needed to do something. I called a huddle.

Bolt quickly spoke up, “Look, we have the chance to save an entire town. There are a whole lot of people who are going to suffer if we do not help them. I’m going with the men.”

Ieuan disagreed. “These men could flee and save their lives. They also have a chance to defend themselves. This poor boy is absolutely defenseless. He has no choice in the matter. We have to help him”

Lotheryn backed her up, “Besides, we already promised this woman we would help her. If we back out now, she’s going to die of grief. Or because Malak kicks her again,” she added, giving Malak a vicious glare.

Malak grunted and shrugged as if in agreement. “I say we take dragon loot.”

Amaryllis was on the fence, unsure of who to help. The poor rogue seemed on the verge of tears. “I just want to help SOMEone,” she said.

I turned to Bolt. “I, too, am in favor of helping the woman. I do not wish to leave Undamar to destruction, but I have given my word to this woman and I intend to keep it. We need you with us Bolt. Your sword would be sorely missed against this dragon. What say you?”

Bolt was clearly frustrated, but finally relented. “Fine. We’ll buck the dragon. But I don’t like it.”

We informed the men of Undamar of our decision. Let’s just say that they didn’t take it well. I don’t know what it means to have a “pox” upon my “house,” but apparently I now have one. I’ll have to get an exterminator to take care of that when I get home.

We left the men still frothing with rage at our decision and went to see what we could do about this dragon. We had fought a dragon once before, but this one didn’t sound like quite as big a pushover as the last one was. We approached the lair with caution and entered a giant cave filled with noxious fumes and running lava. We looked through the haze and saw him – a large red dragon looking very hungry as he towered over a frightened boy. We stayed in the shadows and planned our approach.

Amaryllis snuck in, silently padding from stalagmite to stalagmite. We looked nervously at the dragon, but he gave no indication that he knew she was there. Finally she got within range of the dragon.

“Well,” I said. “She’s within range.”

“Uhhhh, range for what?” Bolt asked.

“Good question. I’m not sure we got that far in the plan. If we had planned this better, you, me, and Malak would be jumping out of a wooden horse, but I’m afraid we forgot the wooden horse. Now what?”

“I can speak Draconic. Maybe that will put the dragon at ease. Dragons are supposed to be highly intelligent, maybe we can reason with him,” offered Ieuan. It was worth a shot.

“I’ll go with you, just in case.” I said. I wanted there to be something in between a giant dragon and an unarmored sorcerer, in the likely event that trouble went down. We snuck up, quiet as can be, until right before we reached cover. Ieuan picked a bad time to lose her fitting, and came down with a thud.

The dragon looked over slowly. “Alright sorcerer. You can come out. I know you’re there. You too ranger. And the ever-so-stealthy rogue. Come no closer, but bring your friends with you.”

The three of us stepped out cautiously. Ieuan tried imploring him in draconic. “We have come for the boy, dragon. We mean you no harm. Please release him to us and we will be on our way.”

The dragon laughed evilly. “I am impressed with your mastery of my language, sorcerer, but your negotiating skills leave much to be desired. I will not entreat further until your friends join you. Especially the paladin who is lurking in the shadows. I could smell his stench halfway up the mountain.”

The rest of our group joined us. You remember back in school when you would be in the middle of passing a note and you’d feel a stern tap on your shoulder and you knew you’d been caught? Well, that’s how we felt except instead of the teacher, it was dragon and instead of being sent to the principal, we were going to be flamebroiled and eaten. Otherwise it was the exact same. I decided to try the direct approach.

“Oh mighty dragon, you are ever so wise. Is there nothing we can give you in exchange for the boy? Why do you require a sacrifice?”

If it’s possible for dragons to look amused, this one did. “It’s not so much a sacrifice, ranger, as it is lunch. I require food as you do. Why hunt for it when I can stay here with my gold and have it delivered? But since you are the first adventurers to be so bold as to confront me, I will give you an opportunity to convince me that this is not the particular lunch I am looking for. Please proceed, beginning with you, barbarian. Or are you too scared to play?”

This did not sit well with Malak. His eyes flashed as he let out the fiercest war cry I had ever heard. Even I was tempted to hide, and the dragon flinched, ever so slightly. His demeanor did not appear as confident as before. “You will not speak that way to me, dragon!” Malak yelled.

Well, that was a good start. Bolt took his turn next. “You know dragon, the boy you have there is the son of a woman who has suffered extensively. Is there any way we can replace him? You know, bring you a different boy, maybe a couple of boys?”

The dragon squinted at Bolt, “That’s quite a statement for a paladin – bringing me additional INNOCENT sacrifices. I do not think you are telling me the truth. And even if I did believe you, what is it to me, this woman’s suffering? All boys taste similar, once you’ve covered them in barbecue sauce. One woman’s tears will not get in the way of lunch.” Oops. That wasn’t good.

After Ieuan made a successful plea, it was my turn. As I mentioned, I had traveled this area several times before and I remembered what the woman had said about the dragon’s brothers and sisters. So I decided to draw upon that knowledge to make this dragon nervous. “You know dragon, I know exactly where each of your brothers and sisters resides. If you return the boy to us, no harm will come to them.” I proceeded to tell him where each of them had taken residence, hoping to worry him somewhat.

It didn’t. It made the dragon angry. “I know well of my brothers and sisters. In time, I hope to show them that I am the only one who is as mighty as our father. If you killed them, it would only quicken my ascension to that role, but it would not please me, as I desire to show them myself how powerful I am. You know little about the way of dragons, ranger.”

Lotheryn used her sharp elven eyes and quick wits to quell the dragon’s wrath. “Oh fantastic dragon. You are truly magnificent. I have never seen such luminous scales. The sheen of your hide is breathtaking.” Dragons, as I quickly found out, are very susceptible to flattery. The dragon took this well and calmed down a bit.

Amaryllis wowed the dragon with her display of disabling magic devices. Malak, still seething over the dragon’s slight, once again gave his warcry, but this time, the dragon was ready for it, and laughed in his face. Bolt reasoned with the dragon by explaining how the sacrifice of this boy might cause him more trouble down the road, if the townspeople were ever to rise in revolt. Ieuan then told the dragon that we knew of a very wealthy evil paladin who was ripe for the plundering, if the dragon was willing to relocate. The dragon seemed interested in this idea. Finally he turned to me.

“Well, ranger. Your party’s pleas have been illuminating. I very well might let this boy go. But first I must hear from you one more time. What have you to say to me?”

I, as you know, am no diplomat. Business is conducted with sharp steel, not with words. I did not have the nimbleness of fingers of Amaryllis, nor the skill with flattery of Lotheryn, nor the ability to exposit like Ieuan or Bolt. I have keen eyes, a quick bow, and a large flail. I decided to use the first of those to show the dragon that we were not scared of him.

“Dragon, you claim this desire to be mighty. But how can you be so mighty when there is clearly a chink in your armor. I see it plain as day – there, under your left breast.”

The dragon seemed to grow twice as large as he raised himself up. “Ranger, your eyes have failed you for the last time. This is no chink, but a special scale that is the marking of all dragons of my line. That you think me in any way weak shows how foolish you are. This is the payment for your foolishness.” Without another word he snapped his jaws and devoured the boy.

“NOOOOOOOO!!!” I shouted in anger and despair, as I charged recklessly towards the dragon, striking him with Rage. The rest of the group joined the battle, knowing that we now had no choice but to avenge the boy’s death. The dragon breathed his flame breath on me and Bolt, but I barely felt it as I continued to hack away at his scaly sides. The dragon, obviously taken aback by our collective fury, rose to the air and took a cheap shot at Ieuan, damaging her significantly.

“You coward! Get your red ass back on the ground!” I yelled, as I withdrew my bow, took sight, and loosed an arrow which struck inside his gaping jaws, causing him to go into a rage. Ieuan moved away, casting her magic missiles as she went, but the dragon continued to attack, this time felling her as he landed back on the ground. As Lotheryn hurried over to apply healing, Bolt, Malak and I rushed back into battle, continuing to strike with deadly accuracy. Malak in particular slashed viciously with his sword, partially severing one of the dragon’s forelimbs. As the dragon screamed in pain, it once again unleashed its flame, this time consuming Bolt, and causing him to fall to the ground as well.

“Bolt, no!” I shouted as I moved over.

Bolt looked up at me with pain in his eyes. “Tell…my brother…not…to…give in…to the white man…”

“Bolt, you’re not dying on my watch,” I told him as I shoved a healing potion down his throat. It was enough. He staggered to his feet. But just as he did that, the dragon landed one more blow, this time knocking him unconscious.

Malak had had enough. As the dragon roared in victory, Malak drove his sword with inhuman force through the armored hide and into the monster’s heart. It shuddered and collapsed, dead at last.

As Lotheryn got Bolt back on his feet, we collected the dragon’s loot somberly. Malak and Bolt both found armor to fit them. I found a flail in the pile of gold and jewels. This flail glowed red, as if it was infused with flame. It was the only flame that burned, as I felt nothing but despair inside. I looked at Rage and knew that it had served its final purpose. I am now a ranger of my own accord, and Dark Star’s legacy would be in the strength of my arm and the tortured determination in my heart. I threw Rage into the lava and picked up this new weapon. Narqualme is what I named it, Flame of Agony in the tongue of my dead mother. Agony is what it had brought to me, and it is what I would reap against my enemies after this day.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008


I originally had written something both lengthier and more thoughtful on the subject of how our adventure is proceeding so far, but Firefox encountered an error and needed to close. I'm attempting to recapture the magic:

Since we're about to take a week off from D&D, I figured I'd weigh in on my gameplay experience to this point, and invite everybody else to do the same. I'm having a good time and really looking forward to Thursday nights. I think the only thing I would really like to change is the difficulty of our encounters... the fights are all way too easy! We cruise through without breaking a sweat most of the time. I think that's mostly because TC is making all of the monsters we fight much worse since the maps and scenarios are meant for higher level characters... for example, his sheets usually have the monsters down around 15-16 in their AC, where they might have originally been a crew of 19s. I don't think there's an easy fix for this problem... we don't want to use a crappy scenario, but just fighting a bunch of guys with high AC's is just going to make for a bunch of boring turns ... "you miss," "you miss," "you miss," etc. So how can we make the experience more difficult without turning the whole evening into a contest to see who can roll 18+ first? As you may imagine, I have several suggestions:

The monsters need to hit harder - TC usually rolls a d6 (six sided die) and sometimes lower. I think it would be safe to let him either roll a d8 almost every time, or have the monsters add anywhere from +2 to +4 every time they hit.

Our AC is too high - We almost never get hit! Either we can all shave off some AC (not exactly realistic or fun) or TC needs to break out a few skills to get around our armored beast-hides. For example, temporary reduction to Bolt's AC, or Malak's AC, or a hideous boost to TC's strength modifier (turn some of those 13's into 19's occasionally), or more frequent auto-hit attacks (like our casting cronies with their magic missile).

Crowd control - There's no getting around it... there are too many of us. As much as it kind of sucks to chill out for a couple turns and not be able to do anything, it wouldn't be ridiculous to have TC change us into a block of ice, or .. charm one of us to fight against each other! That would be ridiculous.

TC is too easy on us - As a group, we've hinted at this rather obliquely, but it's probably worth bringing up with him in two weeks... before we start, we've got to let him know that we want the monsters to try as hard as they can to kill us. I think the only way he's going to really bring the pain is if he believes that we all want the pain brought.

There's enough creativity between the seven of us, and especially enough background in the tactics of fantasy combat between the guys in this group, that we ought to be able to generate a whole list of ideas for TC to randomly incorporate into our encounters. TC is definitely going by-the-book, and I think our encounters would be a lot more epic if we were playing the scenarios at a higher level and with fewer people... our particular group of adventurers really shouldn't be all that epic, since we're only at level 3. But at the same time, I think there are some adjustments that would add a little variety to our fights that would make them tougher.

Of course, the easiest way for TC to incorporate our suggestions and offer his feedback is if he would read the damn blog. But maybe he's never used the internet before? I don't know. Assuming he never checks out the blog, we should just bring stuff like this up at the beginning of the night. TC is definitely trying as hard as he can to help us have a good time, and he's even making an effort to meta-game like we do (he was asking Bethany and I about USC and Oregon football last week, and killed us with that "untrained (you-know-what) check" a couple weeks ago...) I think we just need to be clear about what we want and he will strive to please.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Adventure 3: Of Three-Headed Monsters and Were-Rats

Another day, another crazed paladin who’s decided to rebel against his god and wreak havoc in the neighborhood. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen that… I just don’t understand why people get so upset over things the gods do. How does the old saying go? If the gods give you lemons, spend your whole life on a personal vendetta against the filthy thieving orcs who killed your parents. Or something like that. Anyway, apparently our stalwart group of adventurers has earned quite a reputation for pest control, so we got hired to get rid of this paladin. It’s nice to be famous, but I long for a day when I can pass through a village without being beseeched to kill some evil lunatic. I’m not a big fan of evil lunatics as a matter of principle, but you’d think we had a monopoly on the hero business. Oh well, the pay’s good and the company isn’t bad (although I get the sneaking suspicion that the gnome has something tricky up his sleeve).

We made our way up to this guy’s humble abode (translation: large, sprawling, ostentatious mansion, probably teeming with things like were-rats and three-headed goat-dragon things). This paladin had obviously been checked out for some time; the issue of Bard Entertainment Weekly in his mailbox was at least a year and a half old. Lotheryn, the good-hearted druid that she is, tried knocking on the front door, but Bolt decided that a sharp kick with his over-sized sneakers would be a better method of entry.

We walked in slowly, wary of anything that might spring a trap on us. After a few minutes, I noticed someone was missing.

“Malak? Malak! Where are you?” I called, hoping that whatever evil lurked in this place would take pity on the simple-minded barbarian.

Just then Malak came shambling up the entryway, looking sheepish.

Ieuan gave him a quizzical look, “What took you so long? We’re traipsing about through a haunted castle and our meat shield is too scared to join us?”

Malak was defensive, “No, not scared. That was the issue with the 50 hottest half-orcs of the Great Realms. I just wanted to, uhhh, read the article…”

“Riiiight," I said, nearly rolling my eyes out of my head and pointing out that he couldn't technically, you know, read. "Why don’t you stay in front, huh?” I told him. Remember what I said about the company? Sometimes I wonder…

We made our way into a large chamber with a wide set of bloody stairs leading up to a dais at the far end. There was rubble strewn about and a large column in the middle of the chamber. As we went to inspect the column we suddenly found ourselves set upon by a large group of…

“Were-rats!” shrieked Amyrillis, brandishing her short sword.

“What trouble can a few rats be?” mused our confident Lord Bolt as he hewed one in half. We were able to dispatch most of them rather quickly, except for one beast of a rat who seemed, well, slightly different from other were-rats in that most rats aren’t big enough to eat a Halfling. This one was. As an added bonus, it had lightning quick reflexes.

Still, our advantage in numbers ruled the day as we overwhelmed the rogue were-rat and collected our breath.

“Now all we need is a three-headed dragon-goat thing and I’ll be able to settle down and open up shop as a fortune teller,” I told Lotheryn jokingly.

She got a strange look in her eye. “You might want to turn around,” she said in a low voice.

Damn. I hate it when I’m right.

So of course there’s a three-headed dragon-goat thing. And it brought friends. Why not? We engaged it even though the blood of the were-rats hadn’t even been wiped off of our weapons. We quickly discovered that the dragon head was the one to fear as it blew its flame breath all over Lord Bolt, singing his skin, but not dazing him. Bolt, the trooper that he is, kept at it, hammering sword strokes upon it as Lotheryn healed him up. Ieuan and Moonglum nailed it with some magic missiles and rays of various kinds. Amaryllis and I worked on the brutes that had come with it, along with some help from Anca who used his wolfish abilities to sweep the legs out from one of the enemies. After chopping enough flesh off of the dragon-goat to throw a barbecue for a clan of dwarves, Malak was able to finish it off without further mishap. (As an aside, I’m not sure of the purpose of the goat-head – it had a funny looking red hat with a bird’s head on it and kept cackling about “1908,” some guy named “Bartman,” and a “curse”. Weird stuff.) Exhausted by this time, the two minions succumbed to our attacks and we finally had a chance to rest for a moment.

After our breather, we quickly agreed to move up to the steps and away from the center of the chamber. This turned out to be another questionable decision in an endless string of questionable decisions. We encountered more resident evil minions, including a couple of zombies and a necromancer.

Ieuan was not impressed. “Hey, necromancer, you think you know how to deal in death? Try my ray of enfeeblement on for size!” I am so jealous. With cool dry wit like that, I could be an action hero. Oh well. I always think of the good lines after the fight.

We used the same tactics to eliminate these fools as we had for the last battle, and it served us well as we conquered them without much difficulty. We rifled through their clothing and found some choice items, including a couple of scrolls and a nice patent leather belt with a gigantic belt buckle emblazoned with a whirling tornado. Moonglum identified it as a belt of Whirlwind, allowing the wearer to use quick attacks against multiple surrounding enemies. Bolt, Malak and I all claimed it as our own.

Wishing to avoid an argument, I quickly made my proposition. “Guys, guys, let’s be reasonable. Bolt, you’re black. What would your people say if they saw you with a belt buckle this large? You’d be disowned. And Malak, you couldn’t figure out the zipper on your breeches, so you just wear those elastic teddy bear pants Lotheryn sewed for you. What do you need with a belt?”

Malak agreed as he looked happily down at his pants. Bolt was harder to convince, but he finally acquiesced, leaving me to strap on the belt with a heightened sense of fashion. Ieuan expressed delight in the scroll she had found, saying she couldn’t wait to use her "Milf’s Acid Arrow." I was a bit dubious as to how a good-looking middle-aged woman would help us in battle, but stranger things have happened.

As we sat there, confident in our abilities and pleased with our performance, we heard the sound of heavy, echoing footsteps. It quickly dawned on me that our spellcasters had used up most of their high level spells and Malak had expended most of his energy by enraging during the last battle. I saw the same look of grim horror on my partners' faces that I'm sure was spreading on my own.

“Uh oh…”

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tremors 4: Search for Marian

Our adventures found us down in the ruins of some jungle temple, as we’ve been for what feels like the past two years or so. I’ll tell you, just once I’d like to get lost in a place that’s had some decent interior decorating, you know? As much as the spattered blood has kind of a fung shui effect, it’s a little grim for my tastes in wall adornment. Although according to Bolt’s knowledge of nobility, we did find a rare, valuable rug that had belonged to King Dre himself, dating back to the 3rd century after the Sundering. That’s actually a lie, Bolt’s knowledge of nobility has never proven useful.

So we continued our search to find Marian, someone Bolt refers to as “Shoog,” apparently an inside joke he shares only with himself. So far we’ve fought an irritated ent, some raving smurfs and a bunch of other evil guys who hissed at us about sacrifices. We did find a nice fountain, which Malak promptly soiled, but we’ve been down in the bowels of this place for so long, I’m beginning to forget what it even looks like aboveground. In other words, this chick better be worth it.

We promptly faced off with five minions of whatever foul beast rules this craphole. Anca, Lotheryn’s wolf, who has warmed to me somewhat in the last few days (I attribute it to the Snausages, the remainder of which have gone missing – I noticed Malak had some awfully greasy hands this morning), proved himself very useful as he finished off a couple of them himself. Amaryllis was quite the acrobat, bobbing and weaving her way in between enemies, backstabbing here and there. It was a drawn out affair, but we managed to quell the resistance without much issue.

We made our way down another hall, and turned a corner only to find the craziest looking snake thing I’d ever seen. “Where’s Kevin Bacon when you need him,” I muttered. Well, crazy or not, it was up to us to do something about this thing. Moonglum quickly noticed that there were frightened, bound prisoners throughout the room and surmised that we were probably just in time to witness the beast perform its sacrificial duties. Having run out of popcorn several dungeons ago, we decided that spectating was not a palatable option at this point. We rushed in headlong to the battle.

We took our usual positions, brawn up front, brains in the back. Ieuan started us off nicely by hitting the creature with her ray of enfeeblement. “I’ve got your cartoon balloons right here!” she yelled pithily. Bolt activated his Wonder Twin power, form of PWNAGE and started beating the thing like nobody’s business. For all its size and ugliness, the mass of snakes didn’t put up much of a fight. We were able to fell the monster before it had time to poison us or eat any of its captives. It had some nice loot, and I have to say I coveted some armor it dropped, but I let Amaryllis take it since I’m such a nice guy.

We found Marian and returned her to her uncle. We were rewarded handsomely, although after that nightmare of a journey, I can’t say I’ll bring much of it home if I find a decent tavern around here. We also noticed that our experiences had once again enriched our skills. I can only hope this leads to more hand waving and colorful emanations from our gnomish wizard, who delites in such things. While the womenfolk went off with Malak to get their nails done, and Moonglum to find some new scrolls, Bolt and I found a local watering hole to drown our aches and pains. As we sat there recounting our travels, I finally asked the question that had been burning in my mind since our battle, hoping he could provide an answer.

“What the hell do cartoon balloons have to do with anything?”

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Sunday, October 12, 2008


Why so long on the adventure recaps? We just fought a giant tremor!!! The recaps are my favorite posts. They're way more interesting than whatever that idiot who posted pages and pages of loot was talking about...

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Rainbow Flagella Margarita

I think Brian has too much time on his hands..

(see previous three posts)

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

more loot? yes please. (rings, rods and wonderous items edition)

The other post was getting long so I thought I would break it up. Hopefully this is interesting to someone besides me.

Sweet sweet goodness!!!!11!!1!

Ring of Counterspell 4000g - This ring allows a single spell of 1st through 6th level to be cast into it. That spell cannot be cast out again. Instead, should that spell ever be cast upon the wearer, the spell is immediately countered, as a counterspell action, requiring no action (or even knowledge) on the wearers part.

Ring of Force Shield 8500g - This simple ring generates a shield-sized wall of force that stays with the ring and can be wielded by the wearer as if it were a heavy shield (+2 AC)

Ring of Protection +1 2000g - This ring offers continual magical protection in the form of a deflection bonus of +1 to AC.

There are some crazy rods. All of them have really long explanations. I liked the Rod of Wonder (12000g) best. Dan might like the Rod of Flailing (50000g). John might like the Rod of Lordly Might (70000g). Moses might like the Rod of the Python (13000g). Bethany might like the Rod of Splendor (25000g).

Amulet of Health +2 4000g - Gives +2 Constitution bonus

Amulet of Natural Armor +1 2000g - Gives +1 natural armor bonus

Bag of Tricks 900g (for the smallest size) - Anyone reaching into the bad feels a small fuzzy ball. If the ball is removed and tossed up to 20 feet away, it turns into an animal. The animal serves the character who drew it from the bag for 10 minutes or until slain. Can be used up to 10 times per week.

Belt of Giant Strength 16000g - Gives +4 to strength

Boots of Striding and Springing 5500g - Increase base land speed by 10 feet, +5 on jump checks.

Bracers of Lesser Archery 5000g - +1 bonus on attack rolls with ranged weapons

+1 Bracers of Armor 1000g - Gives an extra +1 to AC

Carpet of Flying 20000g - This rug is able to fly through the air as if affected by an overland flight spell of unlimited duration.

+2 Cloak of Charisma 4000g - Gives +2 to charisma

+1 Cloak of Resistance 1000g - Gives +1 to all saving throws

Daern's Instant Fortress 55000g - This small metal cube, when activated, transforms into a 20 feet square, 30 feet high tower complete with arrow slits and crenelated battlement atop it.

Elixir of Fire Breath 1100g - This strange elixir bestows the ability to spout flames. He can breath flire up to three times, each time dealing 4d6 points of fire damge up to 25 feet away.

Figurines of Wonderous power (between 10k-20kg) - Figurines turn into magical animals that kill people.

+2 Gauntlets of Ogre Power 4000g - Gloves give +2 to strength

+2 Gloves of Dexterity 4000g - Give +2 to Dex

+2 Headband of Intellect 4000g - Gives +2 to Intellect

Ok, that is all for now. These were somewhat more realistic items for us to look forward to. My eyes are hurting from too much reading on the comp.

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