Archive for Recap

Fellhold Session 31 Recap (and rules for clerics of Hrokr)

Posted in Fellhold Campaign, RPGs with tags , , , on May 22, 2013 by Jeff Russell

This will be a fairly bare bones recap, as I’ve been busier than anticipated this week.

Yllgrad managed to escape the temple, and he even did so without murdering the initiates that he held hostage.  Of course, shortly after leaving, they told the high priest what had happened, and the priesthood of Gurgu decided to pursue the crazed dwarf.  When the characters who had undergone the initiation into the belief of Gurgu reached the shrine again, they found the priests and initiates looking agitated.  They disavowed knowing the dwarf well, claiming he had only just joined them on the voyage, and they agreed to help search him out.

When they reached the town, Varian slipped away to try to warn Yllgrad, but Yllgrad’s player had concocted a devious plan after his first reaction, which was to suit up in his armor and get ready for a fight.  Instead, he went out openly to the crowd and claimed that he had been overtaken by a madness, the same madness which had brought him to seek out the healing power of Gurgu.  The priests believed him, and agreed to perform a ritual to cleanse him of his madness, assuming he agreed to profess his faith in Gurgu and to be confined until the ritual was complete (for his own safety and that of everyone else, of course).  While they wait out the night, Dag (Bryni’s henchman and former bandit sergeant) and Kieghl (fighter belonging to a new addition to the play group) stumble down some stairs under the semi-plausible excuse of looking for towels after bathing.  When they start finding fancy statues and floors, they head back before running into trouble.

So they lock him in the very same robe closet from which he stole an oversized robe earlier in the day, and say that they will hold him until dawn to perform the ritual, as that is a time especially holy to Gurgu.  The rest of the party, having admitted to knowing him somewhat, are allowed to stay at the temple and to participate in the ritual to cleanse him.  Yllgrad is admitted into the faith by the same ritual undergone by the other characters previously.  After being initiated into the faith, the whole group (and a number of priests/initiates) were led to the lowest level of the temple in the volcano for the summoning of the avatar of Gurgu.


Gurgu looked something like this, but made of lava

With everyone’s head bowed, Bjergmund retrieves the Heart of the Mountain from a secret room, and it really is a giant ruby, as big as two fists held together.  He tosses it into the lava and the imposing but passive figure of Gurgu rises from the magma.  Seeing the form, and hearing the priest talking about “cleansing this” and “power that”, Yllgrad decides to flee. The priests, initiates, and other PCs all go to tackle him so that the ritual can go forward.  Kieghl succeeds (with a critical) and Yllgrad is handily wrestled down to the ground and returned to the ritual.  Bjergmund beseeches Gurgu to outstretch his hand, take away the madness, and return to the fiery heart of the world to burn it away, and sure enough, Gurgu stretches out one hand (burning Bjergmund and Yllgrad from his proximity), and then returns into the magma.  After sinking back into the lava, the Heart of the Mountain pops back out onto the platform.  Yllgrad is declared healed, and everyone is asked to leave.

The party agrees and heads back to town, though now they’re wondering why Gurgu didn’t notice the lack of any real madness, and why he appeared so passive in the face of someone who was faking belief in him.  Back in the inn, they decided to investigate more and try to find their way to the temple’s library to learn more about Gurgu and the volcano, and that’s where we left them.

For rules, I’m going to have to cop out and just post the new spell lists I came up with for Clerics of Hrokr (trickster god of magic and hospitality and such like).  The main thing is that even though I left cure light wounds (mostly cos we had already used that a lot), clerics of Hrokr aren’ t so good at healing later on.  But they get some magic user spells, and they get to learn runes by prayer (instead of study).  So hopefully this will help to differentiate the from Clerics of Dwyn (our other cleric in the party is a cleric of Dwyn) who have some druid type spells.  I’ll post that another time.

Cleric of Hrokr


Level 1

1.     Cure Light Wounds

2.     Detect Chaos (Law)

3.     Detect Magic

4.     Light (Dark)

5.     Protection from Chaos

6.     Purify Food and Drink

Level 2

1.     Bless (Curse)

2.     Find Traps

3.     Hold Person

4.     Speak with Animals

Level 3

1.     Detect Invisibility

2.     Light (Dark), Continual

3.     Locate Object

4.     Mirror Image

5.     Read Languages

6.     Remove Curse

Level 4

1.     Invisibility

2.     Neutralize Poison

3.     Phantasmal Force

4.     Protection from Chaos, 10 ft Radius

5.     Sticks to Snakes

Level 5

1.     Commune

2.     Confusion

3.     Create Food and Drink

4.     Dispel Chaos

5.     Suggestion

Level 6

1.     Charm Monster

2.     Confusion

3.     Hallucinatory Terrain

4.     Massmorph

5.     Polymorph

6.     Wizard Eye


Whenever a Cleric of Hrokr gains a new spell “slot”, he may opt to pray to Hrokr to teach him a new rune.  Once a rune is learned in this fashion, it permanently takes up one spell slot of any level (make a note on your character sheet what level slot the rune replaced). For example, a cleric of Hrokr advances to 4th level, and opts to learn a rune.  He decides to replace one of his two 1st level slots with a rune.  He survives many adventures and reaches 9th level. At this point, he will have 2 level one spells available, because one of the 3 listed is still taken up by a rune. If a cleric learns a rune through study or a tutor, it does not take up a spell slot.

When a cleric of Hrokr gains a rune through prayer, he will receive one randomly determined rune.  Roll on the following table.  If the character already possesses the rune rolled, he gains special insight into his god’s secrets, and may instead choose freely.

1.     Victory Rune

2.     Opening Rune

3.     Ale Rune

4.     Wave Rune

5.     Heal Rune

6.     Curse Rune

7.     Ward Rune

8.     Fear Rune

9.     Berserk Rune

10.  Fire Rune

11.  Dead Rune

12.  Disease Rune

13.  Strength Rune

14.  Water Rune

15.  Earth Rune

16.  Air Rune

17.  Iron Can’t Bite Rune

18.  Fortune Rune

19.  Shield Rune

20.  Sealing Rune



Fellhold Session 30 Recap

Posted in Fellhold Campaign, RPGs with tags , , , on May 16, 2013 by Jeff Russell

Last night once again saw the absence of a couple of players due to finals-induced napping, but also saw the reappearance of the long absent player of Blum (the dead wizard) and Ash (the new wizard who has basically been played as a henchman up to this point). Varian’s player returned, and despite some good natured complaints that the rules were “unfairly targeting” him, sure enough gave the carousing rules a go and peer pressured Yllgrad’s player into joining him.  Unfortunately for me, both passed their poison saves easily and another one of the players agreed to cover Yllgrad’s excessive tab, so I was robbed of all opportunities for shenanigans springing from Mr. Rients’ excellent carousing table.  But it remains, waiting for its next opportunity.

So, after recovering from hangovers, the party set out to engage the services of one of the captains they found out about last week.  They decided to go with Guth and Spir, the gruff ex-watchmen and his lanky partner, on the thinking that a couple of treasure hunters might prove hardier than some of the other captains if the natives turn restless.  After some negotiation on fees and some debates about the nature of insurance for faux-medieval shipping, they saved some money by pressganging their huge following of hirelings into rowers (to be fair, they were willing to take some turns at the oars themselves).


Only even more Volcano-y

After making the necessary arrangements, they set out to the island of Fyrberg.  After some discussion, they decided it would be best to soft pedal things to begin with and get the lay of the land.  So after an arbitrary percentage roll to determine if there was foul weather (there wasn’t), around dusk they came up to the docks of Bjergby, the sleepy little fishing town on the island, and arranged lodging for their troupe.  They told the innkeeper there that they had come to check out the hot springs, and he told them to head on up to the shrine in the morning.

When they came to the shrine, they were greated by the high priest of Gurgu, Bjergmund.  He’s a friendly, enthusiastic-in-a-low-key-kind-of-way guy, and he informs them that all are welcome to enjoy the hot springs for a small donation (1 gold per person for as long as you like), but that all are invited to learn the ways of Gurgu.  Yllgrad declined to get in on this nonsense, not trusting the baths, so he hung back out of sight and out of mind.  Earn, the cleric of Dwyn and his followers decided to simply partake of the baths, while Caleb decided to feign interest in the cult of Gurgu.  He convinced Varian and Ash to come along as well.  I reminded him that as a cleric, he is a character who believes in his god so hard that he gets magic powers, but also that his god is a god of deceit and trickery, so he should factor those things into his decision.  He said he felt good about the fake initiation into a new religion and a delighted Bjergmund led them deeper into the volcano (did I mention the shrine is inside the volcano?).

Meanwhile, Earn and his three hirelings take a long, relaxing and rejuvenating bath.  They don’t know it, but had they been injured, they’d have healed at an increased rate, and if something comes up where being relaxed enmineraled seems like it would be a factor, I’ll come up with some other unspecified benefit.


Earn’s the only PC who enjoyed a nice, pleasant non-baptismal bath

Also meanwhile, after the other two groups are led their separate ways, Yllgrad sneaks in and starts to listen at doors and snoop about.  I love how the default assumption in D&D that things are perilous informs players’ actions.  More on that later. At any rate, he finds a human sized robe of the initiates of Gurgu and puts it on, then hitches it up and continues on his snooping way.

The party following Bjergmund is led past a central open shaft in the volcano (totally unrealistic but also totally cooler than either a) spurts of magma coming out of a relatively short mountain or b) a tall, normal seeming mountain that suddenly explodes and kills everyone) and into a chapel.  He invites them to kneel and says a brief prayer to Gurgu, welcoming these new followers.  He directs them to a font of steaming hot mineral water and has them drink.  Then he leads them to a series of linked baths called the “cleansing path”.  The players are mostly passive through all this, though Caleb keeps spontaneously chiming in with expressions of devotion and converted zeal.  Each stop on the path is a little allegorical homily followed by a dunk in hot mineral water, at the end of which they are invited to pray as the spirit of Gurgu moves them.  Once again, Caleb whips out the new convert gusto and Bjergmund is impressed, almost like this guy knows how to lead a prayer or something.  He then leads them around a path, showing them some store rooms and a secret entrance known to the faithful, and then back to a statue where followers leave small candles and offerings in times of trouble, and then he invites them to dine with some of the other initiates and leaves them to attend to some other matters.

Earn’s bath continued to be lovely through all of this.

Yllgrad, on the other hand, begins to follow a path that spirals around down around the central shaft, lit by the glow of hot liquid magma hundreds of feet below.  He pokes his head in a few rooms, finds some storage areas, a kitchen (which he avoids, because he hears the sounds of cooking inside), and a darkened classroom with wax tablets covered in the runic alphabet, and a storage room with child sized robes.  He has a moment of awful revelation that they’ve never seen any children here until I tell him that, yes, there were children in the village, just none here in the temple he’s sneaking around.   So he decides to change into a child sized robe and hides the adult sized robe in the storage room before going back out to the central shaft and continuing down.

Well, it’s at this point that he gets hit by a jet of scalding hot steam.  I’ll admit to a little trepidation in their employment, for reasons that will become clear in a moment.  See, I wanted to have a hazard that could be spotted and avoided like a trap, but which was in fact just a natural hazard.  Unfortunately, basing their “activation” on a random chance when anyone passes them (1 in 6) makes them seem like they’re set off with intent.  Even if you allow his dwarven stone sense to notice there’s something weird (passed, described water in otherwise dry area, crack in wall – he tested by rolling a rock and throwing another).  And a listen check to hear the building hissing sound (failed), then a breath weapon save to take half damage (failed).  So he got rather scalded, and I’m worried I fell a little into ‘bad trap’ design.  I realize now I should have described the noise of the building steam rather than testing to see if he noticed it, because that was the key step to his agency in negotiating the hazard.  By randomizing it, his only options were “use my player knowledge that we’ve engaged this feature with a lot of rules already and go back rather than press on to presumably interesting stuff” or “press on since I don’t have a good reason to take any further precautions”.  I failed to build enough clues in for him to ask about to learn enough to make an informed decision.  Well, live and learn, I suppose.

And Yllgrad lived and learned as well, even if he did take 12 damage from scalding steam.  So, when he heard footsteps beyond the next door he gave a listen to, he concocted a clever ruse.  He imitated a child and said “help, help!”  Well, these folks come running, and he’s waiting for them.  They’re unarmed, so unlike his initial plan to hit one in the face with an axe (or rather, all 3, because they’re all 1 hd fellows), he instead grabs one and leans him out over the lava shaft and demands to know what is going on here.  He figures they activated the steam since there was no obvious trigger mechanism but it burned the crap out of him.

They blubber a lot because they were minding their own business helping to sweep the local church when some dwarf in one of their robes grabbed one of them and threatened his life.  But he pulls the guy back and holds him hostage with his knife and demands to be led the way they came from.  He asks them what’s back there, and they tell him the greater mysteries, they don’t know, they’re just initiates.  He threatens to kill their friend and they say the same thing. Well, he makes them lead him through the doors into the greater mysteries, and every time they object even a little, it’s again with the knife to the throat.  So, he finds some rooms with mysterious gold circle patterns inlaid in the floor, and they don’t know what they are because they’ve never been in there before.  And that’s where we left off.


Only imagine Mario holding a Goomba over the edge by the throat

As I was saying earlier, it’s fun how the combination of a) the default assumptions of D&D, and b) some rumors they picked up at dockside bars in Mickleheim, have the players convinced that the seemingly innocent cult of Gurgu is not what it seems.  And maybe it isn’t. Their going theory is that Gurgu is a demon and the cult has been duped into thinking he’s a benevolent god, and that they’re going to find something sinister sooner or later, which will give them the chance to kick some ass and take the Heart of the Mountain, the rumored giant ruby they came here to find.  We’ll see, I suppose.

One interesting thing about running this location is that I kind of inadvertently ended up with a “Village of Hommlet” kind of scenario, where the interactions with and within the village will end up being important, and the NPC personalities will be big factors (for now at least).  I also gave some thought to Zak S.’s talk about places sometimes being dungeons and sometimes not, depending on what’s going on there.  The shrine was not a dungeon to most of the group, but it was to Yllgrad.  Later on it might be a dungeon to everybody or to nobody.  I didn’t really set out intending such a scenario, but it’s turning out to be fun and an interesting departure from the default assumptions of Fellhold itself, the wilderness, or even Mickleheim.

Once the players finish up with Fyrberg, I’m going to post a full write up of the location as an adventure and map, but I don’t want to give anything away just yet.  In the meantime, here’s a steam vent hazard for some quickie rules:

Steam Vent

A crack in the wall is covered in condensation, and the floor in front of it is damp compared to the surrounding area. Every so often, a jet of steam bursts from the crack, scalding anything in its path.  When a party passes, there is a 1 in 6 chance of the steam venting.  It is preceded by a telltale hissing noise, like water about to boil in a tea kettle.  Randomize which character in an affected group is in front of the vent when it goes off, and then apply a cone to ft long and 5 ft wide at its widest.  This cone does 4d8 scalding damage, save vs. breath weapon for half.

Fellhold Session 28 Recap

Posted in Fellhold Campaign, RPGs with tags , , , on May 2, 2013 by Jeff Russell

So, after a two week hiatus due to my visit to the exotic orient for school, we resumed our regularly scheduled game on Monday.  Everybody, not least of all myself, were a little bit rusty, and a few players had connection issues and/or reasons to show up late and leave early, so it was a bit rocky, but overall a good time. Probably even more kibbitzing and joke making than usual, including a rather inappropriate one involving ents that had the whole group rolling, but is best left unrepeated.

The thing I’ve noticed about campaign prep is that no matter how much time is taken, you never get everything you want ready.  I have great faith in my ability to improvise in just about every activity in my life, but I’m discovering that my D&D improvisation benefits from some robust support.  There are just so many cool things I want to incorporate from what I’ve seen online, read in published material, or stolen from heavy metal songs.  Oh well, the important thing is that the game keeps going so I keep having a chance to use this stuff and improve.

We picked up with the characters getting ready to high tail it away from outside of the giant cave after their fight with the trolls.  They decided to risk being surprised and injury/damage on the mountain path to move faster, not slowing down until they made it into the woods.  I spent a lot of my prep time coming up with some random adventure sites, focusing on the wilderness areas between the giant cave and Silverdelf, and overall I’m really happy with what was added.  The Kraal is a crazy awesome crowdsourced hex map of an arctic area, and I’ve stolen a lot of good stuff that has really started to make the wilderness feel like a living place, not just a vehicle for burning rations between marked locations on the map.  I still need to flesh some stuff out, but I like what’s there so far.

Speaking of which, as the group was coming to a stopping point near dusk, they spotted the ruins of a small inn and trading post, apparently as ancient as the Volsungril mine and probably serving the traffic that used to pass that way.  They burned some torches and got their hirelings in a police line and searched the place pretty thoroughly, but didn’t find much.  Then, during the night, Yllgrad the dwarf was on watch and heard a faint scratching sound.  Investigating, he found a trap door buried under some rubble, and when he opened it, he found a cellar.  He impetuously jumped into the cellar after sending calling for the rest of the party to wake up, but didn’t wait for their help.  He found a wine cellar, then a storage room and around that time everybody else showed up.

So, they’re checking out the nondescript storage room with an enticing strongbox when BAM! a huge, disgusting undead beastie bursts through the cellar wall and attacks! Now, I made this monster up myself (rules below) because all I knew before they found this place was that there should be something creepy there at night.  I was all excited to run this (I thought) scary monster against unprepared and largely unarmored (!) characters, but you know what? They wasted it in like 3 rounds, with only a scratch to the dwarf, damage-wise.  And that was without their minions.  I really need to work on my sense of challenge scale.

I’ve actually arrived at a new philosophy due to this, and other experiences: your players can handle it.  Anytime you’re wondering if you should spring something on the group, repeat that mantra.  It might take desperate creativity, multiple character deaths, and unorthodox solutions, but they will totally wreck every dangerous thing you throw at them.  So don’t pull your punches.

Anyway, after dispatching this fat nasty thing with a gaping maw, they break open the strong box, finding a fair amount of gold ,and then our alcoholic former nobleman checks out the wine and determines that he’s maybe heard of the vintage, somewhere, and it ought to be worth some money.  So they drink one bottle, then haul the other 159 out and take some special precautions to transport it, and hope to get some money for it.

After that, they start out again for Silverdelf, and one of the clerics (Caleb, cleric of Hrokr, the Crow Father) uses his favorite spell, speak with animals to try to get some info about the area.  I ended up doing a lot of animal impersonations this game (squirrel, sparrow, owl).  I try to give each animal a personality based on what they’re like, vague memories of Redwall characterizations, and what seems fitting at the time.  I also make it a point that they’re, you know, animals.  They can have perfectly intelligible conversations, but they don’t care about the same stuff we do or make the same distinctions.  They don’t have the same concepts of distance or time, they care a lot about food.  That sort of thing.  The more ‘supernatural’ the critter (like crows and cats, maybe) the more person-like their thoughts and conversations will be.  At any rate, they heard about some Great Owl that “knows things” and decide maybe that’d be cool to find, so they vaguely set their course in the direction indicated by a helpful sparrow, but mostly keep heading for Silverdelf.  The next night of camping, they end up encountering the Great Owl. Now, they had learned from one of the animals or another that it will answer questions, but only a limited number (turns out it was 3).  Earn (Cleric of Dwyn, the Oak Mother) wastes the first question with “What’s up?” and gets the response “the sky”.  The owl won’t engage in conversation besides answering questions, and mostly just stared at the party.  They ended up asking about the Volsungril mine and mostly just confirming what they already knew about it (I wish I had thought of more details to make it even cooler, I hate to waste a cool mystical question answer about something the players are already invested in), and then about what Trolls fear (fire, being bested in a deal, and their gods).  Then it mysteriously flew off to the Northwest.  They hope to find it again sometime and maybe learn some more things, and I think that’s cool.  I need to work on more connections across the map so things feel interrelated and point in different directions.

They made it back to Silverdelf and commission some wine racks for their new haul, and otherwise stock up on provisions and set out the next morning for Mickleheim, giant captives still in tow.  I *really* need to be making them more of a pain in the ass. So far all they’ve done is eat extra rations.  I ought to come up with escape chances and increased likelihood of wagons breaking down and all that jazz.

So, the road to Mickleheim has been established as pretty safe, so I let them get there no problem, but we call it a night as we were coming up on our time limit (midnight, my time). I’ve adopted from Zak S. the incredibly wise procedure of stopping play about to go somewhere/start something rather than after resolving something.  This allows me to go “hey guys, what are you planning on doing next time?” Now, sure, often this changes or is just vague, but it allows me to triage prep time most effectively.  I certainly don’t try to plan out what they’re gonna do when they get places, I just try to make sure there’s stuff there for them to interact with, and I have enough of a rough idea of everything else that I can wing it for a session or so, it just might be a little flat.

At any rate, this discussion led to the decision to go check out the volcano on the newly detailed and awesomed map.  I think I discovered a principle of refereeing: Checkhov’s Volcano.  “If there is a volcano introduced on the map, players will go there eventually”. It’s the one thing our usually fairly “along for the ride” player has strongly pushed for, so I want to do it justice and really bring the awesome.  I also see it as my chance to do my first real stand alone dungeon entirely from scratch for this campaign.  I’ve used lots of geomorphs, random generators, pieces from published adventures, and otherwise mostly kitbashed stuff rather than doing it from scratch.  And where it has been from scratch, it’s mostly been as part of Fellhold, which has its own stuff going on.  So the chance to do a stand alone, strongly themed dungeon of a decent size as a complete unit is new and both exciting and scary.  I just have to have enough for one night’s worth of play ready for next Monday night, and I want it to be awesome.

For rules, the Disgusting Undead Abomination the players made short work of in the basement:

Disgusting Undead Abomination

HD: 5

AC: 4

Attacks: Claw/Claw, Special: Bite (1d6/1d6, 1d8)

Saving Throw: 12

Special: On a natural hit of 16+, grapple and bite for 1d8 damage and drain 1 point of CON. Anyone reduced to 0 CON dies, and anyone killed by damage or CON drain raises in one round as a ghoul that will eventually turn into a Disgusting Undead Abomination

Move: 12

Alignment: Chaotic

Number Encountered: 1

Challenge Level/XP: 7/600

The Long Recap

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on April 11, 2013 by Jeff Russell

ImageGrasping, Avaricious PCs – the best kind

So, long time no recap.  As mentioned in my little apology for non-blogging/calling myself to action post, I’m going to completely change up my style for recaps.  The whole ‘pulp adventure narrator’ tone was dumb, and I was dumb, but now I’m better, and I’m going to actually talk about player decisions and my decisions and how the session went down and so forth.  Feedback on my refereeing style are quite welcome (even if they’re “wow, that sounds super boring, you suck”. If so, you’re a dick, but it might be useful input). 

For the too long, didn’t read crowd, feel free to scroll down to the rules at the bottom of the post in bold italic (a method for determining what players have heard body parts of a slain foe might be good for).

At any rate, looking back, yikes, a lot has happened.  The last recap was for sessions 13 and 14, and last night we played session 27.  So, yeah.  Shortly after where we left of there, Blum the wizard wandered into a seemingly empty room full of scrolls and got himself killed by a poisonous giant centipede.  Considering Blum’s sleep spells had been astoundingly useful, and that he had been rather deadly with his quarterstaff (“The Widowmaker”), he was greatly missed.  Add to this that Blum’s player is the one with the most difficult schedule, and therefore the most often absent, his character took on a sort of “mascot” role for the party, and as the first PC death (astonishing, I know!) the party decided he deserved a proper memorial. More on the memorial later.

So, for reasons that remain obscure to me even now, after returning to town to properly bury the body on their shared property, they decide that the best revenge would be to go take out the seemingly unending force of trollkin they fought and ran away from (I think the rationale *might* have been: they made us flee where we were exploring, the new place we went because they were scary killed Blum, therefore it’s their fault).  After another sizeable battle against prepared foes, a big scary chief showed up with his big scary bodyguard *from behind them*, and feeling trapped (they were pretty trapped), they decided to try to call out the chief mano a mano.  Turns out, that’s actually a sacred and respected ritual to this tribe of trollkin (the “blood rite”) and the party had killed enough trollkin to make it a credible offer (trollkin are kinda weird that way).

After some haggling over how it’ll work, it ends up with Yllgrad (dwarf fighter) and Dag (former bandit sergeant now henchman of Bryni – and one of the most effective characters, not just because he started out level 2, but because he *always* rolls well) square off against the Trollkin chief (he had a name, but he’s dead now, so whatever) and his biggest, baddest champion.  Oh, with no armor.  With knives.  Yllgrad’s player tries to get clever by spreading some centipede venom on the blade, and I rule it’ll have a weakened effect due to being old (it’s already the weakest kind of centipede, so the poison had no effect on the fight).

By ganging up on one guy at a time, and narrowly escaping death (I think 1 hit point left for Dag, the toughest character in the party at that point), they defeat the chief and his champion and, surprise, are now chiefs of the sword clan! So, what do they do with their newly acquired evil humanoid tribe?  Well, besides take half their loot, they put them to work cutting down one of the massive statues of an evil sorceror dotting this level, cut away walls of the dungeon so that the huge thing can be maneuvered out (thankfully they were only on level 2), and then transfer it to human workmen on the surface to take into town to be the giant monument to their fallen mage.  So now the party has a 20 or 30 foot tall statue of an evil demon-worshipping sorceror in their yard, with the name of their dead friend carved in the base buried under it. So that’s cool.

At any rate, the party also discovered a treasure map in the room that killed Blum, and it marked the location of a mine up in the Trellheim mountains.  They organized an expedition, got ambushed by giants, hid for a while, then snuck past them and found the mine.  It was haunted by the ghosts of the miners killed in the cave in.  Only by invoking Volsungr, the god of forge and craftsmanship (and mining, apparently) could they lay the ghosts to rest.  Oh, and the dwarf’s player came up with the death blessing of followers of Volsungr all by himself, and it was pretty cool (Volsungr, find my path).  This also narrowly avoided one of the clerics of other gods from invoking the wrong god in the mine and the ghosts turning all scary, so that was good for them.  Turns out it’s a mine of Volsungril, this world’s equivalent of adamantium/mithril/whatever, and they found a small nugget of the stuff (worth a crazy huge amount of money) apparently as a gift from laid-to-rest ghosts.  Of course now the game is about trying to secure the mine of infinite wealth and magical weapons and nothing else, but I figure that will have enough complications to be alright.

So, they returned the big city (Mickleheim) to hire a bunch of fighty hirelings, because Silverdelf is pretty much tapped out (too many killed and maimed), and decide to launch a huge expedition into the mountains to clear out the giants.  But first they figure they’ll get their tribe of trollkin and take them along too (not realizing that this is potentially problematic in all kinds of ways).

Well, while down there, they get the idea to get an even bigger hoard of trollkin to help them kill the giants, and so they attempt the same blood rite trick with the neighboring rival spear clan.  Turns out that the spear clan does their blood rite a little differently, and the rolls go a little better for the chief than for Yllgrad, and right when it looks like he’s going to lose, the players come up with the plan of interrupting the fight with a thrown spear made to look like it came from the watching spear clan reps.  Well, chaos ensues, the players slaughter all of the spear clan guys, and manage to convince the remaining sword clan guys that the spear clan started the trouble.

When they get back, though, they level with Odo, the sword clan shaman, about what happened, and they say they want to have a big party to get everybody fired up to go start a war with the spear clan.  Odo’s a devout (demon worshipping) shaman, though, and the blood rite is sacred, so instead of a party, he summons a demon to attack the party, the party kills him right as he completes it, and he curses them with his dying breath.  The party fights the demon, and it’s disappointingly easy for them to kill.  And the clan scatters in terror.

Poking around the now abandoned sword clan lair, they find Odo’s assistant and end up keeping him as a prisoner, and then decide to go down a set of ornate stairs and find themselves in what appears to be a temple and/or tomb of the old sorcerors, who they find out were called “the Urog”.

While exploring the temple to this Iron God of the Urog, Yllgrad is struck by a terrible vision of a trollkin going crazy and murdering and dismembering and eating his whole tribe before running deeper into the catacombs.  So the players know this place is creepy.  They find a warning inscription with instructions about going into the sacred catacombs, and two of the three entrances are flanked by basins full of nasty water and teeth.

Well, sure enough, they don’t follow the instructions, and are struck by horrible hallucinations after a few rounds of exploring and pushing a giant block around.  After they flee from the hallucinations, they decide maybe now’s not the time to explore the super creepiness, especially if the offering required by that room of skeletal hands is that they cut off somebody’s left hand, so they head back to town.

Back in town, they once again decide to return to the mountains to clear out the giants so that they can have a safe passage to the mine.  Did I mention they hired 20 soldiers in addition to their usual retinue of hirelings?  I decided that if they were going to treat them like red shirts, so was I, so these guys are especially prone to dying horrible deaths, like when holding a trip line in front of the entrance to the giant’s cave and being sent flying off when the giant runs into it.

One distinguished himself by volunteering to be “bait” for a counter ambush on the giants, and he narrowly came out alive after getting clipped in the head by a mule flung by the giant.  This crazy old coot looks like King Bumi, is named Helm, and is apparently wiry, jaded, and willing to do incredibly stupid things for reasonably small amounts of money.  A perfect hireling, he’ll probably stick around even if the other surviving members of the 20 don’t.

So, they clear out this cave of giants, including the women and adolescents, make surprisingly short work of high HD, high damage opponents because apparently 20 to hit rolls + standard cross bow damage = dead giants.  So far everybody and everything has had D6’s for hit dice, but I’m *strongly* considering upgrading monsters to D8’s, since a standard weapon in a standard fighting man’s hands does d8 damage (using Akratic Wizardry’s weapon damage chart).

There’s some debate about what to do with the surviving giants, but in the end, the party decides to keep one adult female, and one adolescent male alive to try to sell off to House Dagaeca back in Mickleheim (they’ve mentioned their desire to buy exotic beasts before. We’ll see whether giants qualify as “beasts” or not, assuming they get them back safely).  They’ve also heard conflicting rumors considering the medicinal and magical properties of giant testicles, hands, and tongues, but decide that cutting off those parts is a little too icky for rumors they don’t even know to be true.

Then a posse of 3 trolls rolls up, and ask for a parley.  Turns out the trolls are glad to see the giants gone, and offer safe passage along the path in exchange for being given the surviving giants.  Yllgrad’s player ends up flubbing the negotiation by demanding too much and insulting the trolls (and this is *minutes* after introducing the “Good at” and “Bad At” skill system found here, and him picking “Bad at detecting lies, haggling, and negotiations”, so that was perfect).  When the troll gets all insulted, Yllgrad attacks him, and a general melee ensues.  The leader, who was negotiating, goes down, one of the other trolls grabs him and runs while the other holds off the PCs and their horde of hirelings (down to 13 out of original 20 at this point).  After downing that troll and chasing the others for a bit, they see a smoke signal going up, and they know that a troll village is nearby, so they decide to high tail it out of there.  Despite this being the first time the group has met trolls, and despite trolls being somewhat mysterious to people, Yllgrad’s player knows the score and scorches up the body, but they decide to keep it to see if troll parts will sell for anything. 

Whew, and that brings us up to speed. Here’s some rules to make this long read through a little more worthwhile:

The characters have killed something and want to know if any of its parts are worth anything.  Ask the players which of their characters have heard anything about valuable body parts from this creature.  For every player that says his character has, roll a D10 and consult the following chart:

“I heard that ________ is a cure for/ingredient in/component of. . .”

  1. Eyeballs
  2. Gallbladder
  3. Hands
  4. Heart
  5. Intestines
  6. Appendix
  7. Testicles
  8. Penis
  9. Tongue
  10. Feet

Pick something that seems to go with it, or something totally out there (or use a random potion/spell chart of some kind).  Tell the players that’s what they’ve heard. If multiple dice come up for the same body part, feel free to make up different uses they’ve heard for it, or to say they’ve all heard the same rumor.  That’s what the players know.  It’s up to you to decide if the rumors are true, but you might assign a straight 50/50 chance or 10% per die that came up the same body part, or whatever else.  But don’t tell the players that until they’ve tried to unload the parts or make something out of them.



Fellhold Sessions 13 & 14 Recap

Posted in Fellhold Campaign, RPGs with tags , , on December 12, 2012 by Jeff Russell

After fleeing from the seemingly endless hordes of large and aggressive trollkin, our adventurers spiked a door behind them and listened with baited breath. Not hearing any sounds of further pursuit, they decided against fleeing blindly, and continued to explore and map carefully. After discovering a secret door and defeating a hideous ooze that dissolved a few weapons, they secured a small clutch of gems, spiked another two doors behind them and decided to rest inside the dungeon. With a careful watch and secure location, their rest was uneventful, and after a few divine acts of healing from the groups clerics, they decided to make their way back out to the surface. They directly encountered no more trollkin, only the surprised sound of a guard coming from a newly constructed barricade and a poison trap that was defeated by Varian’s iron constitution.

After successfully reaching the surface, the group made proper payments to the families of the deceased hirelings and proceeded to hire new soldiers and a few more torch bearers before returning to the grim mountain. Having decided that enormous hordes of angry humanoids might not be the best thing to face just now, the party returned once again to the Western entrance to Fellhold, where they encountered and defeated Dag’s former bandit group. Exploring more deeply and more carefully, they once again triggered a portcullis, trapping them within, but before they had to resort to the aid of strongman Mihtig the Mighty, they discovered a secret crank that opened the gate. Further exploration led to a secret door opening onto a stairway leading upwards, in sharp contrast to what they’ve encountered thus far.

Climbing the stairs, they found an elaborate Dwarven antechamber holding six musical pipes. Experimentation revealed that playing certain pipes opened certain doors and closed others, until the proper sequence was found, opening all three sets of huge, impressive double doors. Entering, they found first a rough, unfinished section of halls and chambers, but then more beautifully crafted Dwarven architecture and sculpture, including a massive statue of Aki, the father of all Dwarves, carved from the living rock of the mountain. Though there was a plethora of doors to explore, the party found a large staircase leading farther upwards and pressed on, surprising a small band of trollkin at the top landing!

Even hemmed in by the stairs, the group made short work of them, with Yllgrad stopping the final one as he fled with a well placed thrown dagger. Following the path the dead trollkin seemed to be heading for, they fell upon another small band of trollkin, these obviously searching and rummaging around in what appears to have once been an officer’s quarters. Outside the chambers was a large, magnificent hall with pillars carved in the likenesses of Dwarven heroes, warriors, and smiths. Crossing over they found a doorway directly opposite and entered a room in even worse repair, this one the nest of eight disgusting giant rats! The rats were quickly dispatched, with Sir Braxton the war dog taking especial pleasure in tearing apart one of the foul vermin. Catching their breath, our intrepid band prepares to continue to explore this mysteriously upwards reaching section of Fellhold.

Fellhold Session 12 Recap

Posted in Fellhold Campaign, RPGs with tags , , on November 28, 2012 by Jeff Russell

We left off with our adventurers deep within the Ashfell, and as we joined them this week, they continued to explore . They returned to the relief mural depiction of the founding of Fellhold and followed the carvings around a large hall, reading a story of dwarves comes to Ashfell, delving into the mountain, and ending with a scene of trade, craft, and fellowship between dwarves and men. Having satisfied themselves that this mural did not contain any further clues about how to proceed, they set off to continue down a wide passageway leading from the imposing statue of a sorceror. Along the way, they found a large, crude set of double doors with a sword painted on and decorated with human and goblin skulls. After listening at the door and hearing some sort of chanting or cheering coming from beyond, they set to and kicked down the door.

This alerted a group of trollkin bigger than the goblins previously encountered to rush the party and slam the door closed. The party hacked open the door, and made pretty short work of these unarmored trollkin, but they were followed by fully armed and armored trollkin warriors in seemingly endless numbers. The group stood their ground and fought, felling scores of the humanoids. The fight began to take its toll, however, with Blum the magic user seriously wounded, the other members of the party reaching the limits of their endurance, and the deaths of four hirelings.

Deciding that surviving to fight another day was better than a valiant last stand. Flinging recovered gelatinous cube slime behind them to slow pursuit, they fled to a previously discovered narrow hallway with a door and spiked the door closed in the faces of their pursuers. As we leave them, deciding to put more space between them and the howling hordes, they flee deeper into the pitch darkness of Fellhold too quickly to map. . .

Fellhold Session 11 Recap

Posted in Fellhold Campaign, RPGs with tags , , on November 20, 2012 by Jeff Russell

Our brave adventurers consolidated after cutting down wave after wave of goblin fighters, and decided that the best course of action was to camp outside of the goblin lair they had extensively mapped out. Spending the night in quiet, they proceeded to thoroughly map out every nook and cranny of the goblin delving, and then turned their eyes to the previously explored excavated stairs deeper into the mountain. Following these stairs down, they found a brief encounter with vicious giant rats, a long since abandoned market place, many empty store rooms, and a painful but ultimately unremarkable needle trap. After an unsuccessful strike by a surprising gelatinous cube, Yllgrad cleaved it in half with a mighty critical hit. Unfortunately, after a string of successes, Varian fared less well against a stoutly built door, and found himself on the ground in pain after one too many attempts to kick down doors in dramatic fashion. Altogether, the group covered a lot of ground, finding stairs deeper into the mountain, multiple large statues of sorcerors, and a variety of rooms and corridors, mapping perhaps a greater extent of the tunnels under the mountain than any previous expedition. What lies in store for them as they proceed forward? Will their blase ways continue to serve them well, or will doors prove more treacherous than foemen? Only time will tell!