Monday, March 12, 2018

Random Advancement Preface

[This was written to be added to the Random Advancement compilation, which continues to grow.]

Preface: Why?

A few people have questioned the need for an alternative advancement scheme for use with any fantasy roleplaying system (you know, where “any” is meant to stand for “that one game and all its closest imitators”). Although I cannot speak for my many august collaborators, I think it would be useful to outline my personal reasons for embracing random advancement in my own campaign. I will try to be brief.

The earliest versions of the dear old game featured what I might call Lockstep Advancement. Apart from the die throw for hit points, nothing distinguished one fighting man of fifth level from another, in terms of class abilities. Obviously different ability scores, equipment, magic items, character disposition, and player skill could easily set one Swashbuckler apart from the next, but all their abilities as a fighter 5 could be expressed with a hit total and a level title. Clerics, thieves, and many other classes acted in much the same way; each level of advancement brought the exact same benefits vis-a-vis their class designation.

This was, in fact, a very useful state of affairs for the prospective referee. NPCs could be expressed quite succinctly. The one exception to this scheme early on was the magic-user, whose spellbook determined their class abilities. Other class ability customization started to creep in via things like druid bonus languages and weapon proficiencies. Inspired by skill-based alternatives to the original game (RuneQuest, Rolemaster, etc.), non-weapon proficiencies appeared in late first edition AD&D and skills showed up in BECMI.

Later versions of the game pushed more towards what I call Total Customizability, following in the wake of points-based affairs like GURPS and the HERO System. The rise of Feats and Prestige Classes sent a million players scurrying to make the perfect “build” for their D&D character. This is a great thing if you have a specific vision of what you want your PC to be when they grow up, or if you’re the kind of player who likes to find the most potent combo allowed by the rules.

Random Advancement is proposed here as a third alternative. Not as a substitute for either of its predecessors, but as an alternative for certain kinds of campaigns, certain kinds of referees, and certain kinds of players. Note that the concept of random advancement is not new. Traveller character generation had it from the beginning. And see Jonathan Becker’s nifty Exceptional Traits rules in The Complete B/X Adventurer for another implementation of it in D&D.

Why try random advancement? I can think of a few reasons why I like it:
  • Rolling dice when you level up is fun.
  • Players can access all sorts of kewl powerz without having to do a bunch of planning.
  • Since said powerz show up by random die roll, you can sprinkle the chart with some doozies (or some sick power combos) without them coming up every dang game.
  • As a player, not knowing how your PC is going to grow and change appeals to me.
  • As a DM, not knowing what the PCs are even capable of keeps me on my toes.
So if discovering the capabilities of the PCs sounds just as interesting to you as discovering the what lurks in the dungeon, then maybe this alternative is for you.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

I had to share this.

Yesterday, Peter C.'s PC Ongar the Elementarian died in the banquet hall located on second level of the Citrine Vault as a result of some serious shenanigans.  In revenge, he gave the joint a bad yelp review:  

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Let slip the dinos of war.

So here's a fun little chart.
Members of the Mercenaries Guild are more professional than common merc rabbles, and add +2 to the roll.
This delightful chart is from City State Warfare, a boxed hex-and-chit wargame that's part of the original Wilderlands materials.  I've not played it, but a quick read-through of the rules suggests to me that it plays out mostly like an old Avalon Hill game.  Unlike most fantasy wargaming rules, spellcasting is totally abstracted as additional combat factors.  No fireballs lighting up armies, except as part of the math used to calculate attack ratios.  Do the math, roll one die, look at the Combat Results Table (CRT).  Wash, rinse, repeat.  The chart here is cruder than a typical Avalon Hill CRT; you won't find retreat, attacker casualty, or exchange results, only casualties to the defender.  But the principle is the same.

There are several other nice bits though, like the mercenary troubles above.

The triceratops with battle howdah on the cover is the mightiest unit in the game.  Seriously, these guys with wreck your shit.  A high level warrior equivalent to a fighter 8 can sustain 3 hits before going down and has an attack factor of 8.  A triceratops counter can take 5 hits and attacks at rank 30.  Wilderlands referees: if you don't have battle triceratops in your campaign then you've been doing it wrong all these years.  

I also quite like the recruitment charts, which are similar to those in Ready Ref Sheets, but there is a small percentage chance (one sixth of one percent or .00166666) that demons will answer your call to arms.  Then there's the 3d6 random chart for missile troops where a 3 gives you boomerang throwers and an 18 givens you dudes with repeating crossbows.  Centaur-mounted troops is also a random option on the chart for determining what your cavalry rides.  Add in the lovely Reason for Enlisting chart and you could end up accidentally recruiting a band of boomerang-throwing demons who ride centaurs into battle and the reason they signed up for your war is that they were all drunk.  How cool is that?  (I'm not saying that's a likely result, merely mathematically possible.)

 Although the abstracted combat system does take the spice out of wizards and whatnot, it also allows for this lovely chart to account for a number of additional factors.

There's also rules for night fighting that account for the phase of the moon, rules for press gangs (including the delightfully named Goon Squad Antics table), and a chart for determining the fate of eliminated units (i.e. a killed chit doesn't mean everyone in the unit is dead).  Sadly, the Leader Recovery Chart does not include a 1 in 36 chance that a demon stole their soul and now you have to mount an expedition to Hell to get it back.  That's my favorite thing about the similar table in Ral Partha's Chaos Wars rules.  But the Leader Recovery Chart here does the possibility of losing an eye or limb as well as a chance that they were captured and can be ransomed for 2d6 times their monthly salary.  Then there's a nice page of charts for when your PCs are not yet army commanders but of high enough level they can be sent out on special missions of various sorts.

The scenarios section includes more historical battles than fantasy ones.  This product came out in 1982, just as D&D was busting out big as a media franchise.  It was still possible in this period to imagine that someone who needed rules for triceratops versus wizard battles might also want to play out Charley Martel stomping on the Arabs at Tours or Bill the Bastard conquering England.

But let's take a peak at the fantasy scenarios.  I'm going to transcribe the intro to the Battle of Pipeweed Farm in its entirety:

Pipeweed Farm

The engagement took place in the Decatur Fantasy Campaign World between the forces of the Chang of the Ryne and Warlord Marchan of the Northern Empire.  This day-long battle witnessed the capture of the Chang and the destruction of over one half of his army.  These events led to the siege and capture of the capital, Jasmire.
The relationship between the Decatur Fantasy Campaign World and Bob Bledsaw's Wilderlands material is obscure to me.  I'm no Wilderlands expert by any means.  Can one travel from the City State to the Changdom of the Ryne?  Is the relationship like that of the Lake Geneva campaign setting and the later World of Greyhawk?  I just don't know. 

Here are the forces involved, if you want to recreate this battle with another ruleset.

Forces of the Northern Empire

The Immortals
10x Cataphracts (heavy cav w/bows)
10x Horse Bow (light cav w/bows)
1x High Level Warrior (the Warlord Marchan, presumably) (mounted, plate)

Group Tor
8x Triceratops
8x War Elephants
1 x High Level Warrior

Main Body
20x Heavy Foot
10x Armoured Foot
10x Crossbowmen
10x Longbowmen
10x Light Cavalry
10x Medium Cavalry
10x Heavy Cavalry
8x Heavy Crossbow
2x Onagers
4x Ballista
2x Medium Level Warriors (equivalent to ~F4) (mounted, plate)
2x High Level Wizard (~MU8) (mounted)

Forces of the Chang of the Ryne

The Black Flowers
16x Ogres
16x Trolls
4x Hill Giants
1x High Level Priest (~C8) (mounted, plate) (The Chang?)

Goblin Horde
20x Goblin Foot
20x Goblin Bow
20x Goblin Wolf Riders (with bows)
1x High Level Warrior

Main Body
20x Light Foot
10x Heavy Foot
6x Armored Foot
20x Shortbow
10x Crossbowmen
10x Horse Bow
10x Heavy Cavalry
2x Low Level Warrior (~F2) (chain, on foot)
1x Medium Level Warrior
1x High Level Warrior (or is this the Chang?)

According to earlier in the rules, one counter represents 20 soldiers, 10 cavalry, 10 ogres, 10 trolls, 2 elephants, 2 triceratops, 1 leader, 1 giant, or 1 warmachine.  That means there are 160 trolls and 160 ogres in this battle!  Yikes!

Somewhere there's got to be a Games
Workshop elf that looks like this guy.
The other fantasy battles are more recognizable to a Wilderlands fan.  If you're going to play a fighter in a Wilderlands campaign, maybe you could put in your background that you fought in one or more of these three battles.

The Battle of Jarmoco features the Vasthost of the Invincible Overlord repelling an invading horde of goblins.  The goblins have a surprising number of hero figures (2 low level warriors, 2 medium level warriors, 1 high level warrior, 2 high level wizards).  The text does not specify the race of these figures, so I assume they are meant to be above average gobbos.  The Battle of Bellystone Ford is a rematch, as the Goblin King attempts to gain revenge for his defeat at Jarmoco.  The Battle of Ukrak Morfut pits the Invincible Overlord against his liege/rival, the World Emperor.  Is there a place called Tenoch on one of the Wilderlands campaign maps?  The intro mentions they met near this location.  The order of battle also notes that the World Emperor's longbowmen get a one pip bonus when shooting.  Since attacks are on a d6 combat matrix, those guys must be legendarily good.  Also worth mentioning, the Overlord's armies include 10 goblin foot and 10 goblin warg riders.  Maybe the defeated Goblin King owes the Overlord a feudal obligation now?  The intro states that "historically" that the Overlord lost this battle and was forced to pay tribute to the World Emperor that year.

Finally, I should note that none of the three Wilderlands battles actually feature triceratops troops, so those may be a holdover from the earlier Decatur Fantasy Campaign World mentioned above.  I was just kidding about you doing it wrong anyway.  But still, don't you think the Wilderlands could use some battle triceratops stomping about the place?

TSR would get into the battle dino business 3 years later.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Dumbest Sword Ever

So yesterday's expedition included the party raiding the tomb of the Elf Prince, the son of the current campaign villain.  They avoided the poison gas trap and laid their grubby little hands on some sweet loot, including the dumbest magic sword I've ever seen.
Sword of the Elf Prince, longsword +1, +5 vs. Druids, Monks, Psychics, Healers, Samurai, Idiots, and Jesters
I gave this sword the name and put it in my dungeon, but the idea of a sword that's +5 versus all these different weirdos belongs to a cat named Charles Preston Goforth, Jr.   His article "Wizard Research Rules" appeared in issue #5 of The Dragon, but I encountered it in Best of The Dragon, still one of my favorite D&D books.  I was a dumb kid when I first got this book back in '81 or '82 and it took me decades to figure out some of the stuff in it, because the articles it collected were written for adults playing OD&D.  So as a Moldvay Basic twerp I lacked the context to understand much of the discourse happening in the text.

But the over-the-top magic weapon chart in Goforth's article was one of things I could definitely relate to.  Most of the items on the chart made sense to me: vorpal, flame tongue, disruption, +3 vs trolls, etc.  The entry +1, +5 vs. Druids, Monks, Psychics, Healers, Samurai, Idiots, and Jesters sticks out like a sore thumb.  Back then I didn't understand what this hodgepodge of possible foes could possibly have in common.  Why the heck would one even want a sword +5 versus Idiots?!?  It took me a good long time to come to the realization that what this item represents is a commentary from Goforth on the proliferation of new character classes.  And this was all the way back in 1977.  Think about that for a moment.  Those old schoolers who complain about dragonborn and warlocks?  They come from a long tradition of such nonsense.

So if you're a FLAILSNAILS DM and Blair Fitzpatrick's character Colonel Kaffshyth wrecks your favorite Druid or Samurai, you can blame Charles Preston Goforth, Jr. just a little for creating the sword and me a lot for putting the dumb thing in a dungeon.

(Still haven't seen the rules for the Idiot class, though.)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Vaults of Vyzor, session 30

(report by Sam Mameli)
Yareh's Journal 12/15/17
It's been a long few months. After Emma turned my stone to flesh I immediately had Barnabus soak that flesh with beer from the inside out. Being stone left me a lot of time to think about the nature of chaos and how most things I do aren't even my fault.
Knowing that I decided to immediately resume my careers as an adventurer and took up with a Gnomish Death Squad with a big honkin' mushroom demon at their back. I have no great love for Gnomes (The large donation I made to the building of their village was made after snorting a great deal of crystalized witch hazel, a powerful drug that's known to produce feelings of generosity coupled with a powerful high that ends with a melancholic orgasm) but I do have a sincere love for revenge and those that seek it so I was happy for an opportunity to kill.
We made our way through mostly familiar territory, killing the orcs we found in the training room. We captured a few and had them like dogs on ropes as we descended into Verdant 2. We used them and their spotty knowledge of the level to make our way past a door we think led to spiders and thankfully avoided another that they said held a swarm of something small and goblin-like.
In order to keep their loyalty I told them that they were both interviewing to be my new intern and the orc that offended me the least would get the honor of being my squire. They led us to the lair of an ogre named Klog or Krog or Derek or something and we entered his chamber. He was in the middle of building a rather macabre scaled down castle out of bones.
I snuck up behind him and struck with my scimitar, but my footing was off and I only managed to lance a large pustule on his rancorous ass. He sighed with relief and spun around so I though on my feet and said "Hi! We're here to help, do you need some more bones?" He did need more bones thank fuck and I offered him whichever of the two orcs looked more structurally sound. He selected and put the orc in a pot to boil off the skin and hair and other bits I imagine and while he was turned around I stabbed him in the spleen.
Thinking quickly one of the other gnomes ( I cant keep the names straight maybe it was Pitwidge or Durmthug or whatever) shoved the other orc behind them and we all pretended like he was the stabber. The ogre relieved him of his ugly melon of a head with a chunk of firewood and then I gave the secret signal to indicate that my bad comedy routine was all out of juice and Putmunch the gnome put him to sleep with a spell and we murdered him the rest of the way.
We pulled the orc out of the pot and informed him that he had won the contest and he had never been in any real danger. He told us his name was Uhuhuh. On the virtue of his choice bone structure and current status of "alive" I chose him to squire for me as the first member of the Knights of the Harpy. (I'm thinking of starting a mercenary company)
Uhuhuh led us to where the Gnomes were being kept and we killed some more orcs. I injured my ankle doing something heroic probably and we freed the gnomes. One of the clever little gnomey buggers enchanted the hallway to look like it was on fire and we high tailed it out of there. The mushroom demon set a few fire on our way out and for once we got out the dungeon without much of a scratch.
We decided after we got out to strap one on at the Thoul and I got fucked up on that good brown stuff with Uhuhuh and he and I went out into the woods and swam naked in the river of dreams. I'm not entirely sure of what happened next, (though I'm suspicious of the way that Uhuhuh keeps looking at me and blushing) but I woke up with some strange runes marking my orcish arm and the great will of Orcagorgon ping ponging around in the ruins of my hungover mind. I am overpowered by the need to do their chaotic bidding.
It turns out that Uhuhuh is a decent artist and he did some fan-art of me. I find this to be EXTREMELY worrying.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Vaults of Vyzor #29

(report by Maxime Golubchik)

A few pages from Emma Bright Eye's diary.

Dear Diary

I CAN WRITE! Oh having fingers feels so nice. I've been stuck as an owl for the last month and man does it feel good to stretch. I've been pretending to be Sharene's pet owl while she's disguised as an elven scientist. And she's so good at it! She's started learning all the sciencey gobbledygook and the egg-heads are totally buying it. While she's busy chatting them up, I look at the plans! Mwahaha! We're a team of super spies!

Our next nefarious scheme is to 'rescue' back those blueprints dad Barnabus stole! I bet the team has spent the last month going over them. So me and Sharene Sharene and I will conduct a daring surface 'raid' and steal them back. Except they'll be fakes! The team will have totally screwed them up! Sharene will look like a hero AND we'll sabotage their evil plan. Take that elf king!

Man is it a good thing I keep this diary in my room and not on me. I'd be a really bad spy if just carried a written copy of my master plan everywhere.

So now that I'm up here to grab the plans, I figure I'll relax a little, stretch, maybe drink some hot chocolate. I should bring Sharene something nice too. Candy? If they ask Sharene where she got candy she can just say she stole it from the nefarious surface dwellers. Though some of those guys don’t even believe in the surface. That's so sad. Oh, maybe if I bring flowers that will prove the surface is real!

Well it's settled! I'm off to pick some flowers and buy some candy!

Dear Diary

Something wonderful happened today. Best shopping trip ever.

So I went to the Sign of the Mule to get some candy for Sharene, except I kinda forgot to bring any money (besides my first gold piece of course, but no way I'm spending THAT). I felt really silly, but in my defense, it's usually Dale who does the shopping. And I've been an owl for a month! I forgot I even have pockets.

But on my way back to the library I ran into Mario de Parma and Kat the Cleric. With them were a pair of little gnome girls, Daphissa and Babis. They were sisters I think. Bringing them was a terrible idea, but at the time all I could think was good for them! Learning how to kick ass should start young. The family that slays together stays together.

Everyone was headed into the Citrine Vault and I thought, hey, why not tag along? I could punch some stuff and get some spending cash too. I'm not usually as punch happy as dad Barnabus, but you know; stuck as an owl. It just feels so good to have fists.

So we go down stairs, past the trash room (disgusting), and get to the T intersection. And the party say let's go to the left, since they heard there's a brothel over there.

Okay, so I'm not an idiot. I know what a brothel is. But… I guess I was curious? It doesn't help that I've had romance on my mind recently. Ever since I woke up from my coma* really. And I mean I

It's not like I don't
I obviously wouldn't

Don't look at me like that! You're just a stupid book! Just because you're a book don't think I won't punch you!

* Scrawled on the side: I was out for MONTHS. Months! AGHRRHG stupid lobster fish god thing! I hate her and I hate fish and I hate the ocean and every time I bite into seafood now I think REVENGE! I'll eat all of you fuckers!

So I went with them. The first door we came to the gnome girls said they heard something scary inside. We were on a (pervy) mission, so we decided to find out what was in there afterwards. That… didn't really end up happening.

The second door we found wasn't even on the map, so we guessed it was the brothel. We talked about it and decided to knock, since it would make a really bad first impression to just bust the door down. We were pretty surprised when a voice inside asked us what we wanted!* It said the brothel was just down the hall, so that's where we went. Thanks, mysterious voice!

* Scrawled on the other side: but I guess we shouldn't be? If you knocked on my door I'd just answer it politely too. As adventures we always listen to doors for intel, but we never knock on them. If you knock on the door and no one answers, it's probably empty! If you knock on the door and something scary answers, say wrong adress sorry! If someone mean answers you can just open the door into their face. I feel like a genius and a moron right now.

And yep, there it was. Past two kobold guards was a huge room, all dressed in nice carpets and fancy curtains and throw pillows. It's a shame we had to leave most of that stuff behind; that would have been a great look for the library! The place was also packed with orc girls. There were all sorts! Some were really really (really) pretty and some looked more like pigs then people. I guess it takes all kinds.

At this point we realized two things.
1. Why did we take little children to the brothel?! We told the girls to cover their eyes.
2. We just came into a brothel with no money. We are idiots
Well, me and Kat. But she had brought a lot of wine, so she started a party, and I pretended to have cash and talked to some girls. At which point I remembered that I needed to recruit someone! Me and Sharene make a great team, but if there was three of us we could be an entire coven! Just like the ink witches, one human, one elf, one orc! But orcs don't really live in Vyzor, and all the orcs I've met in the dungeon so far have been guys. So it was pretty awesome that I blundered into like the perfect opportunity. If anyone asks me, this is totally why I went to an orcish brothel. This was the plan all along.

Barnabus just saw me writing and asked why I don't just dictate this to Dale. Ha ha ha, yeah, that last paragraph is why. There are things in this journal no one must ever know.

I saw this one girl called Raka who was closer to my age, so I started talking to her. In whispers I asked her if she wanted to get out of this place and live a life of adventure. Her eyes lit up like lanterns, and she led me to a back room, where I found a pregnant elf girl. Raka said no one knew she was here, and she and some of the other girls wanted to get the pregnant elf girl out, but they were afraid of spies.

See, this is why magic is the best. I just cast ESP and went back out into the main room. Two pretty orc ladies were busy thinking about how much it sucked having to pretend to be orcs for the elf king. Boom, gotchya. I AM A MASTER SPY. My guess was that they were polymophed elves.

I tell this to Mario and HIS eyes light up like lanterns. So he goes up to them, pays 100 gold pieces, and then the three of them walk behind a curtain. After that I hear the sounds of chains and whipping and Mario began yelling "Harder! Harder!" Then I heard the girls asks him "How many people are in your group? How strong is your party of adventurers?" but he just kept screaming harder. I think someone needs to tell him how sex works. Or maybe someone needs to tell me how sex works. I'm not sure anymore.

So while… that was going on, me and Kat keep splashing around the wine (I had to break into my supply at this point, since she had run out). I go to find the madame, who a fat kobold, and cast Charm on her, and tell her to join the party. Everyone's having a good time when, in my best ring master voice, I ask who wants to walk out to freedom?

The answer was everyone. Except the kobold guards. I tell them that the party is getting CRAZY (which to be fair it was), and that when we come back the girls are going to be in the mood for freebies, but one of the bums wasn't buying it. He took out a whistle and I tried to grab it out of his hand, but kobolds are so short you know? He kept getting the thing away from me. But then the other guard tackled him to the ground, yelling "Don't ruin this for me man!" PERFECT DISTRACTION. We all file out of there.

And that's how Kat and I got everyone to the T intersection! Half the orc girls went to the left back to orcish territory: I hope things work out for them. The other half ran up to Vyzor. Rescue mission 100 PERCENT SUCCESFUL I went back to the brothel, where Mario was STILL yelling. Me and Kat shrugged and started taking everything that wasn't nailed down.

Eventually Mario and the spy girls came out. Surprised that the place was empty, they started arguing with the kobold guards. We could have left. We totally could have. But we got this awesome chance for a sneak attack, right here! Plus we wanted to take everything. So while she's bickering with her partner, I came up to an orc spy and belted her right across the face. I punched her so hard her head turned around 180 degrees!

And then slowly spuuuuuuun right back into place, and she has this wicked grin on her face. She was not a polymoprhed elf! Her skin smoothened out, little horns grow from her forehead, wings unfurled from her back, and I could hear her top straining to contain a lot more cleavage. And that's how I learned that succubi (orccubi?) are immune to normal damage.

But was she immune to being choked out? I have no idea: I tried to put her in an headlock but she pinned me to ground. And then made out with me.

It was AMAZING. She was SO GOOD AT IT.

Her lips were so soft! And she was right on top of me, chest heaving, her skin green and warm and [Editor's note: this section goes on for far too long. I'm going to skip you a couple pages of florid description and summarize: it was super hot.]

Even after it ended I was in a pleasant haze. I only sobered up when I saw the other orccubi start stabbing my friends with her nails. Which is terrible; if that succubus could chill out then I could have kept kissing her friend! But blood was flying and we had no way to hurt them so everyone ran out of the room screaming.

Except for the gnome kids! I even yelled "Retreat! Retreat!" but they just kept trying to stab her! So I had to run in there, grab them both by the collar and then run the heck back out! I told the kids to throw EVERYTHING ON MY BELT AT THEM, but they could fly so it didn't really slow them down.

Now I have to buy all of that stuff again! Snail damn it!

I really should have cast invisibility on us all, but I was so mushed up inside that I couldn't even remember how to cast it. Writing this I kinda still can't! [Editor's note: she was not feeling mushed up inside. She was feeling level drained. Emma still hasn't figured this out]. Still, we barely got out in time. The guards next to the citrine vault had to slam the doors right on the demon's fingers! And we had to leave most of the treasure, but we still got 70 gold pieces each out of it.

And so that's how I got the cash to buy some candy. And fell in love! Moral of the story: If you quit while you're ahead you miss out on AMAZING KISSES.

Dear Diary

So you know the elf girl I rescued? Princess! She's a princess! Nobody told me this! Turns out she ran away from the elf king!

Huh, I think I remember reading a spell somewhere that kills a person's entire family? Which is horrible, but if I research it and alter it… hmm. Maybe I could ask Pete Loudly for help*.

* Scrawled on the other side: Or I could just get the Elf King to eat Sharene's acorn. Now THAT would be AWESOME! That would be like, the second coolest death ever.

Well anyway, after the BEST KISS IN THE WORLD everyone took a breather. I bought some candy, went back to the library, napped, wrote in my diary (duh you where there diary), and then met back up with the gang. We didn't really pull all that much money out from the vaults, so me and Kat and Mario Kat and Mario and I felt brave enough for round two!

I suggested the Citrine vault again but everyone shot me down. AAAAGGGH why did that orccubi's friend have to be such a bitch! I could be making out RIGHT NOW if she hadn't attacked my friends! Aaaaaaaaggggghh I hate her I hate her I hate her

So we decided on the Verdant Vault instead. We went down a corridor that no one EVER went down and… it was really boring. I guess that's why no one went down it! We just found a bunch of rooms with a bunch of skeletons in shackles. And one room that the gnome girls said sounded like a ghost, so we avoided that. Then up ahead we heard buzzing.

See, I was prepared for this! As soon as the party said Verdant Vault I made sure to memorize Laurantha's Efficacious Bee Charm. Laurantha has been talking about trying to cast that thing on the giant dungeon bees for forever. And you know who gets stuck on tending the magical defense hives duty? That right, me and Sharene. So when I cast Laurantha's Efficacious Bee Charm, I cast it like a CHAMP.

(Also did you know that dungeon bees can dig holes in dungeon walls? I didn't. I wonder if we can use this somehow.)

Aaaaand that's how I got 20 giant bees and a giant bee queen as my loyal slaves!
It would have been pretty cool to keep them and be(e) the bee queen, but when we got to the surface Laurantha offered us a bunch of money for them. And she's been excited about this for forever, so it was the right (and profitable) thing to do.

I still got to be(e) bee queen for a fight though! We went to the right to the old gnomish wrestling arena, and found some orcs about to impale a bunch of gnomes on spikes! Why do Orcs want to kill people in such gross way? Instead, THEY got to die in a super gross way - via agonizing giant bee venom!

The little gnome girls were still SUPER INTO stabbing someone, and I was starting to feel bad for them. So I jumped down, punched a guy in the face, and then wrestled another guy and let them stab away at him. You should have seen how happy they were! Makes me remember my first trip into the dungeon, shooting orcs with a huge crossbow I could barely carry. Good times!

We were going to start looking around for more loot, but first we needed the get the gnomes we rescued back to Vyzor. And then decided to go drinking, and kind of forgot about the dungeon. And then we ran out of money. And then I remembered where
dad Barnabus keeps the money, so I snuck inside and got some more, and then we kept drinking, and then we ran out of momney again, aaaaaaand that's how I spent 1000 gold pieces. 

I reeaaaaaally hope Barnabus doesn't get into counting anytime soon.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Vaults of Vyzor, session #28

(report by Cullen)

"Laurantha the Unbeautiful to the Sorcerer of the Blue Mask and to my comrades at the Jarrod Memorial Library:

O! puissant one! My companions and I have delved deeper into the Azure Vaults than any have yet dared to go, and yet our expedition there was cut short by the appearance of a fearsome enemy beyond our strength. This is my account:

Compelled by the geas that you have lain about my shoulders (along with the estimable Barnabus Sleet and Rose Royce) to seek and slay the Elf-King Elexus within the Azure Vaults, I sought about for bold companions for a sortie deep into his very lair. Three were found: the dwarf warrior Brutal Pete, the ever weirder Sapphean Gratchit, and the promising fighting-man Mario de Parma. To swell our ranks for this foray, I also retained the pathetic creature known as Ralph, whom I equipped with new plate armor, while Brutal Pete hired the services of Baguette, a young halfling woman.

Thus assembled, we entered the Azure Vaults. Now, on my last sortie into these vaults, I and my then-companions almost fully explored the second level. But just before setting out this time, we were apprised by one Magic Meryl, my sometime adventuring-companion, that she and another expedition had ascended from the second level through the room where formerly had been witnessed a dragon chained to the wall (and from which my own expedition had thus reasonably fled).

My first intent, therefore, was to corroborate on my own maps this means of ingress and egress to the second level, and so rather than descending immediately through to the library on the second level, I guided my companions north along a different route. North from the entry-stair, we observed a kind of terrarium containing an ooze and a black pudding, which we did not overtly disturb; then, coming around a corner to the north of that, we found ourselves suddenly trapped as a cage fell around us, and the bars of an adjacent cage opened into the one we found ourselves within.

Now, this other larger cage was not empty--indeed, it contained three inhabitants, two gaunt and pallid humanoids which I surmised to be ghouls, and a scaly humanoid creature with wings, claws, and a horn upon its head, which thing I have never before observed. These attacked us immediately we were trapped with them, but Brutal Pete and I stepped forth, weapons bared, and made a good account of ourselves. While I slew the first ghoul, Pete held off the scaly humonculus. Mario stepped forth into the opening of the slain ghoul, but found himself paralyzed by the second ghoul's bite (this confirmed my suspicion as to their nature); I stepped up to prevent the ghoul from killing paralyzed Mario, and while Pete slew his foe, I decapitated mine.

Sapphean, grown ever weirder in each subsequent appearance, now stepped up and spat into Mario's mouth, which both set the poor man alight, yet also cured him of his paralysis. I confess, I intend never to be affected by any sort of curse in the company of this man, such that I should require his "ministrations".

These creatures slain at our feet, we easily broke open the cage that had trapped us with them, and continued our journey. To the east of this cage, we found a corridor that curved around to the south, sloping down the while, and which did ultimately enter into the very chamber where before I and other companions had seen a dragon chained to the wall (this dragon, of course, is the very one now delivered unto you, o! puissant sorcerer, and so was not present).

From this room, it was known to me that we must travel south into an east-west corridor, and then travel west past a couple cross-corridors, and then find a northern corridor that sloped down to level three. This path we followed, and found ourselves upon the third level of the Azure Vaults, our ears assaulted by a great tumult.

To the right, almost immediately east from the corridor opening onto the level, was a wide alcove to the north with a great double doors on the north wise, currently opened wide. A pair of lion-man guards flanked the door; I was able to peek sneakily around the corner without their noticing me, and did descry through the door some kind of court proceedings within great throne room of the Elf-King. An orc and a morloi, backs to the door, seemed to be involved in some dispute before the throne; and upon the throne itself, Elexus himself, almost one of the fair-folk in stature, and yet possessed of black eyes blacker than the dark between the stars, darker than the wings of Anglamorath the Black Dragon of Night. Even I was shaken, glimpsing these terrible orbs.

Turning away from this tumult as a party, we quickly explored what we could of the third level, and discovered first a great feast hall, well set with service of silver and gold, all prepared for some soon-coming banquet--and yet, all empty of people. While my companions set about quickly stealing what they could of the silver and gold, I myself poured out the wine at the high seat, and replaced it with my own enchanted mead, which can render a man wobbling-drunk with a single goblet. We may hope some brawl of drunkenness may ensue ...

Enriched by loot, we all quickly returned to the second level of the dungeon and deposited our jangling sacks behind the dung heaps in the emptied dragon-room; we then returned below to continue exploring. North of the banquet hall, we found a room with a cold door--Pete warned of possible brown mold, but opening the door, we found a cold meatlocker. The door north of that was heard to have rats behind it--a pantry perhaps? And the kitchen lay further north; turning south of the banquet hall, we discovered a sloping corridor down ... down to level four of the Azure Vaults. Stepping onto this level, we found a south-branching corridor immediately to our right, and rather than stepping further into level four, we decided to be bold and descended ever further, down to the fifth level of the Vault. Here, we found a cross of four corridors; to the east, we listened at a door and heard a tumult of some horde of rats; but when we sought to the west to explore further, we observed three pairs of red-glowing serpentine eyes swiftly approaching from the north.

I cast a web across the corridor in an attempt to block its approach, but the beast tore through like a man tearing aside cobwebs--and as its claws rent the fibers, we saw three draconic heads burst through, one red, one blue, and one white. Confronted by this horror, Mario preferred the better part of valor, and as we all withdrew in good order, Pete and I held the rear, slowed as we were in our plate armor. Here it was that Pete proved his excellence as a comrade, for he was variously prepared for pursuit.

As we went up the slope back to level four, Pete poured greased lard behind us, and we heard well the scrabbling of claws fighting for purchase. But the beast was swift, and presently its foetid breath washed over our backs again. On the slope back up to level three, Pete then poured out a sack of caltrops, which served both to slow the thing, and to enrage it--and it gave forth a terrible shrieking bellow that shook the walls! And alas, it was still coming swiftly after us, panting death, and at the last, Pete poured sovereign glue upon the floor, hoping to catch the creature's belly fast--and it worked! As we came around the corner and ran for the upslope back to level two, the dragon bellowed again behind us, and we heard a tumult from the throne room ... but we went swiftly back to the erstwhile dragon-room, collected our ill-gotten gains, and exited the dungeon.

Thus it is that we companions penetrated deeper into the Azure Vaults than any others yet have; and that is also how the markets around Vyzor have been flooded with the silver and gold service-wares imprinted with the Elf-King's marks.

Your lieutenant in the War Against the Elf-King,
Laurantha Akala"