Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

AD&D Session 17: The Boobs of Opar

This session opened with me pontificating on why one off the cuff ruling I made last time concerning the illusionist’s one randomly rolled spell was a bad call. Once the players reach fifth level and have a crap ton of spells, I would never be so lenient. Further, spells in AD&D are weird animals. Yes, it makes perfect sense that if you declare you’re casting a spell before initiative is rolled, then YOU ARE COMMITTED. It it turns out to be a useless effort, THAT IS JUST PLAIN HILARIOUS. PLAY BETTER NEXT TIME, DOOFUS!

My players feigned interest in this as I droned on, but when I finished they were completely unimpressed. “Yeah, Jeffro. We knew that all along, but you were never going to hear it from us.”

Elite level power gamers. What are you going to do?

Chaz the Elfen Footpad and the Swoleceror were out. Long time regulars Fagor and Fluid the druid were back. Some random first level fighter that I always forget about was back again. Narjhan of the demon rope was back, too. We also had one new player dropping in to dip his toes in the campaign. (He plays in the swoleceror’s hyper-gonzo Ch’alt campaign, so I am afraid this was going to necessarily turn out to be a step down for him.)

The party knew of a valuable, unrecovered treasure from last time. I think Narjhan asked me how the jewels on the statue’s boobs compared with those on the eyes that Chaz had looted last time. They were way bigger, of course. Huge even. The players that were around last time facepalmed. Settling for the eyes seemed like a dumb decision now.

It didn’t matter, though. They were dead set on retrieving them now. Narjhan broke in to insist that I give him a payout for the Snakepede head he recovered previously. Rhedgar the Veteran needed to have his research into the nature of the Woman in Ice resolved. I revealed that she was a powerful sorceress in a previous Aeon. That she was known to have a powerful demonic henchman. Also, that she was imprisoned in ice by a powerful variant of the Spell of Forlorn Encystment that we really ought to get a name for soon. The players wanted to know more, but that is all they get for 50 gold pieces and a week of down time.

They set off and a gigantic herd of bison overwhelmed the party. The ranger assured me that there would be a copse of trees nearby they could climb into and I agreed. Fluid the Druid cast Charm Mammal on the largest one he could find. The group now had a a very large herd animal tagging along. The druid told me what its intelligence range would be and I went ahead and rolled for it. Bison Buddy is now going to be around for three months. By joining Fluid’s animal friend pit bull (aka Petunia), the prophecy from the ancient text was now fulfilled: it is likely that players will be desirous of acquiring a regular entourage of various character types, monsters, and an army of some form.

This seemed pointlessly time consuming and an uninspiring to me at the time, but like everything else about this game, I just went with it. It bored the heck out of the new guy who would later complain to me that it felt like we were “getting ready to play” for the entire session. (Look man, Narjhan haggling with Zanzel Melancthones is SERIOUS BUSINESS and a first class element of the game!)

As the players headed into the jungles, the ranger stumbled into a maze of dung piles. I ask for a d6 roll from the ranger and tells me he got a one. This is bad. A giant beetle comes charging out of the dung pile and unleashes a spray of an acidic cloud on him. He falls back stunned while Fluid the Druid and the party’s fighters move up. Fluid says to keep cool and the beetles might leave them alone. Then the party loses initiative and four beetles come charging at them. The new guy is completely confused by this and can’t imagine how any of this makes sense. I confirm the distance between the party and the ranger. I confirm the distance the beetles could have traveled for a charge. Nothing we haven’t done dozens of times by this point. But the new guy is vexed in his spirit due to the lack of a map and figures. How could he know he was moving into range of a charge attack without those props?

It doesn’t matter. The beetles throw down some gnashing bug fang damage, dropping Torin the Strider down to -1 hit points in the process. A random and unheroic death for a character that had played in almost all of the sessions of this campaign. I note that this is within the range that the optional rules allow for. Given that we have never played those options, nobody asked for them. Besides, the money Torin was saving up to pay for leveling costs were in his saddle bags.

At this point, things were looking pretty grim. But Bison Buddy charged in and knocked the giant beetles flat. Narjhan the Footpad reported that more of these things were on the way and insisted the party get the heck out of there.

I wasn’t sure if I had ruined the session with my wandering monster rolls or not at this point. Were the players going to have to go back to town? It turns out no. If the druid could park somewhere for the night he could get enough cure spells to patch things up. Also, it turned up that there was a first level monk that was travelling with the party that we completely forgot to mention until just this moment. Time to journey on. (A large group of foraging bipedal dinosaurs passed through but the players were otherwise unmolested.)

The party returns to Sorceress Mountain. We have new players, so I am forced to describe in detail the giant Mount Rushmore type head that lies at the top of the huge granite slab. After being pressed for more and more specific information about why the head looks so strange and alien to them, I am forced to declare that its form precisely resembles Danny Glover exclaiming “I’m getting too old for this!” This is so stupid, the game is stopped for about ten minutes while we crack up and try to wrap our heads around how this can be.

The players prepared to go in. (Bison Buddy offered to guard the horses.) They wanted to make their way to the Woman in Ice and pull the lever that they thought would free her. Going into the mouth of the giant head, the descended the crude ladder-like indentations down a hundred feet of columnar basalt.

In the octagonal room, the party heard croaking sounds to the south. The players ignored it and went east through the twisting passages. Coming to a t-intersection they hear more croaking sounds to the south. Returning to the very large room where the sorceress was imprisoned before, the party decided to check to see if she is still there. A suddenly diffident party failed to agree on how to do this until Fluid the Druid agreed to BOLDLY walk into the unknown alone.

He comes back and reports that there are two passageways leading out of the room a hundred feet to the north. The confused party updates their maps. They open the secret door and find the lever is in a thrown position and all the lights on the panel there are blinking red. The players argue amongst themselves and concoct a plan to use the demon rope to somehow reverse the switch. They do this and they hear ominious lurching sounds as thick smoke spills out of the room and occasional purple lighting flares. The party decided they want to turn whatever this is and argue about how to do this until the monk just strolls through the fog and reverses the switch.

The party debates what this all means and I think right about now the new visiting player reports that he has to drop out.

The party makes its way through the secret passages. They come to a room where they have fought frog men twice before but find nothing amiss when they return to the room. They still hear distant croaking sounds to the south, but ignore them. Narjhan uses a dagger to jam the secret door that they entered with. The party then goes through the secret door to the north and through a crevasse into the temple with the six-armed snake woman statue.

Narjhan the Footpad and the new monk guy both clamber up the statue. Touching the jewel emblazoned boobs with a knife, the sky immediately darkens. Removing the knife, the sun comes out and birds start chirping. (Repeat this three times.) Thinking this over, Narjhan scales the crevasse and (with instructions from Fagor) places a toprope. Fluid the Druid climbs up and waits up top with his dog Petunia. The rest of the party waits in front of the statue.

Simultaneously, Narjhan and the monk pry out the massive jewels. The skies darken and appearing out of a bolt of lightening right in the middle of the party is a seven foot tall snake woman with six arms.

All hell breaks loose and she cuts down one of Fagor’s henchmen with three attacks. The party stabs at her with everything they had wile Narjhan and the monk clamber down. Narjhan is headed toward the exit rope as fast as he can. Two of Fagor’s henchmen overbear the snake woman. Rhedgar the Veteran takes three attacks; two miss and he miraculously survives.

The next round the party elects to fight on. Melee attacks hail down on her. One henchman bear hugs her while the other gets an headlock. She counters with a boa constrictor squeeze which nearly kills one of them. Narjha’s demon rope ties up her arms and she drops all her weapons. Narjhan runs up to her and stuffs two steaks from his iron rations into her mouth.

At this point she transforms into a bat. (Her extraordinary abilities are not spells but a intrinsic to her demonic nature.) The next round, the party considers attempting to attack the bat, but instead elects to flee up the rope and out of the crevasse.

It occurs to me now that it would have taken a long time to safely belay each character up the top rope, so I have no idea what the players in fact did here. It was super late at this point and my capacity to care about details like that was gone. Anyway, the demon changed back to her six-armed snake woman form just as Fluid the Druid cast entangle on her. Plants in the crevasse engulfed her as the players scrambled up to the mountain top.

The players ran down the mountainside as best as they could and jumped onto their horses. With the snake woman slithering narrowly behind them, they galloped off into the jungles. In record time the arrived back at Trollopulous.

The players made straight for their favorite gnome jeweler. I threw out an obscenely high value for the gems. Narjhan’s player talked me up from there and then pretended to think that this price was for each when I’d really meant that it was the price of both together. I was so tired at this point I did not feel like arguing about it and just went with it in order to keep the game moving. I later found out that I had fallen prey to an elite level power gaming trick. Narjhan’s player knew EXACTLY WHAT HE WAS DOING THE WHOLE TIME.

Embarrassing.

But that’s how gemstones can magically double in value in an instant.

The game still wasn’t over even then. Calculating everything out, it looked like three players would be training: Fluid the Druid, Rhedgar the Veteran, and Narjhan the Footpad. Thanks to the additional funds from Torin the Strider’s saddle bags, no one will be short of funds for leveling for the next while.

Cast o’ Characters:

Narjhan the Rogue — [Delve 11, 13, 14, 15, and 17] FROZEN AT 2500 XP UNTIL HE LEVELS. (Has weird ‘weeping dagger’ and a rope that follows voice commands.) (+141 gold from session 14, +152 gold from session 15, and +2026 from session 17.)

Fluid the Druid — [Delve 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, and 17] FROZEN AT 4000 XP UNTIL HE LEVELS. (+141 gold from session 14, +152 gold from session 15, and +2026 from session 17.)

Fagor the Half-Orc [Level 2] [Delves 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 6b, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 17] — 4000 + 1816 = 5816 XP. [His horns have grown incredibly large. Looks frightening and diabolical. Cloven hooves] (His name means “astonishing hero” in orcish. For real!) +666 gold from session 12, + 141 gold from session 14, +152 gold from session 15, +2026 from session 17 [Member of the Order of the Knights of Trollopulous]

By-Tar the Veteran — [Session 17 only] 1816 XP and 2026 gold.

Rhedgar the Veteran — [Delve 15, 16, and 17] FROZEN AT 4000 XP UNTIL HE LEVELS. Gold shares = 152 + 338 + 2026 = 2516.

Gilgalad and Logan — [Delve 12, 13, 14, 15, and 17] Studded Leather and shortswords. 333 + 70 + 76 + 875 = 1354 gold and 362 + 35 + 95 + 264 + 908 = 1664 XP each!

Nasty and Dernhelm — [Delve 12, 14 and 15] Studded Leather and shortswords. 333 + 70 + 76 + 875 = 1354 gold and 362 + 95 + 264 + 908 = 1629 XP each! (Training for dedicated grappling)

Petunia the Dog — ???

Big Bison — ???

Treasure and experience:

The party sold the boobie gems for a total of 14,000 gold. Easily the biggest treasure haul of the campaign. (What was I thinking?) They killed four bombardier beetles and also divided up the 1656 gold that was in the ranger’s saddle bags. Each XP share comes out to 1816 XP (908 for henchmen.) The gold share comes out to 2026 (with 875 for the henchmen– they don’t get a share of the ranger’s gold.)

Time:

Day 1: The Hole in the Sky

Day 2: The Thing in the Sewer

Day 7: The Big Score part I

Day 8: The Big Score part II

(Day 9-14 — player characters all carousing¹; Keebler Khan fully recovered) <—- I day of real world time = one day of game time!)

Day 15: The Drums of the Dog People

(Day 16-21: More carousing, fasting, panhandling.)

Day 22-25: Altar of the Beast-women

(Day 26-31: Resting)

Day 32-33: The Pugs of Slaughter

(Day 34-39: Resting)

Day 40: The Overbearing of the Crystal Men

(Day 41-46: Resting)

Days 47-48: The Song of Fàgor

(Day 49-70: In shock from an awesomely weird adventure. Sad!)

Day 71: The Woman in the Ice

(Day 72-76: Resting)

Day 78-79: The Return to Trollopulous

(Day 80-85: Carousing in a besieged Trollopulous.)

Day 86: “You Just Ruined My Story Arc”

(Day 87-92: Utterly exhausted!)

Day 93-95: The Schwérpunkt of the Pig-Men

(Day 96-101: Carousing)

Day 102: A Night in the Autonomous Zone

(Days 103-108: In Trollopulous)

Day 109: The Rave of the Monkey Goddess

(Day 110-115: Scouting out jungle and undead quarter)

Day 116: Snakepede Legion

(Day 117-122: Fagor leveling; Chaz protesting)

Day 123-126: Return to Sorceress Mountain

(Day 127-132: Narjhan leveling. Rhedgar researching sorceress woman.)

Day 133-137: The Boobs of Opar

The graveyard:

Dorkorus — Half-elf fighter/magic-user/thief — [Half brother to Keebler Khan, talked with a lisp!] Killed by a pug-man in the sewers  of Trolopulous.

Dairage — Elf fighter/magic-user — Killed with his shield spell on, valiantly taking down the leader of the pug-men so that the party could have a chance to escape certain death!

9 Hapless men-at-arms! — Killed by the pug-men in the sewers of Trollopulous!

Arthur the Gallant (7 hits) [Delves 2, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6a, 6b, 7, 8, and 9] XP: 122 + 753 + 351 + 54 + 766 + 8 + 80 + 255 + 0 + 195 = 2584 [Looked like a member of ZZ Top] — Killed in the sewers of Trollopulous while bashing a baby wererat with his shield.

Catskinner the thug — Smashed to a pulp by a white ape in the swamps near Trollopulous.

Aulis Martel the Adept (8 hits) [Delves 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6a, 7, and 13] XP: 753 + 351 + 54 + 766 + 8 + 255 => Just leveled up at 1500 XP. Reduced to idiocy by a Guild Navigator in the basement of the party’s autonomous zone in the undead quarter of Trollopulous.

Torin the Strider — [Delves 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 6b, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 16] 2250 + 800 + 734 + 70 + 191 + 362 = 4407 xp (levels at 4500) [Looks like a member of ZZ Top] +666 gold from session 12, +141 gold from session 14, +338 gold from session 16 [Member of the Order of the Knights of Trollopulous] Killed by by giant bombardier beetles in the Jungles of Opar.

Simon the Thug Henchman — [Delve 12, 13, 14, and 15] Studded Leather and shortswords. 333 + 70 + 76 = 479 gold and 362 + 35 + 95 + 264 = 756 XP. Cut down by a six armed snake woman in the temple in the crevasse at Sorceress Mountain.

ON THE TABLE: Ogre Battlefields

I can’t tell you how excited I was to see this great new supplement for the gigantic Ogre: Designer’s Edition. Do I really need more maps and counters for this game? Probably not. Steve Jackson Games managed to close the deal thought by including a revised rule book that had the specialist infantry and combat engineering rules fully integrated into it. Finally! I can figure out what those weird Vulcan units were for!

Opening the box, I find the scenarios feature are updated variants of the classic G.E.V. scenarios all set to run on just one of the new map sheets, G3 and S3. This looked like a gold mine to me! I was afraid it was just going to feature gigantic multi-map scenarios that no one would ever actually play and this seemed about right.

Breaking out the Raid on map G3, we got to put several of the buildings into play. The offense gets a fearsome eight super-heavy tanks– just awesome! The defense gets eight light tanks, four light G.E.V.s, and two G.E.V.-PC’s. I traded in twelve of my infantry squads for six heavy weapons teams and placed them on the personnel carriers. Placing them on a road hex, they have a tremendous range. The super-heavy tanks weren’t going to go anywhere without getting the equivalent of six missile tank attacks.

How’d it work out? A wing of five super-heavies got their noses bloodied. In their follow-up attack they managed to roll ones against the two G.E.V.-PC’s. Doh! (Note that I did not elect to overrun them with the infantry because they are armed with AP weapons.) When the dust had settled the score was 40 for the defense and 64 for the tanks. The Combine wasn’t even close to ranking anywhere on the victory conditions.

Trying this again, my opponent opted to trade ALL of his infantry in for heavy weapons teams. He then had the novel idea of letting them all ride the light tanks into battle. He met my force head on and let everything loose. It was devastating. I fired back with what little survived to take out seven of those obnoxious infantry squads.  The final score this time was 43 to 96,

Either we have misread a rule somewhere or else this particular scenario is grossly unbalanced. It might work a little better with the Ogre Mark V variant. I am starting to think that units like the super-heavy and the heavy weapons teams are going to work better in “Ceasefire Collapse” type scenarios where both sides can field them against each other. They just seem really out of place in anything like the original Ogre and G.E.V. scenarios to me.

I am completely sold on the awesomeness of infantry hitching rides on armor units. This is an extremely useful ability that I’d never tried out before. Sixteen heavy weapons teams riding on those super-heavy tanks would sure even the odds a bit more for this one, though. Agh!

 

Does AD&D Incorporate Rule Zero?

At the end of the original Dungeon Masters Guide there is a passage written in all caps:

IT IS THE SPIRIT OF THE GAME, NOT THE LETTER OF THE RULES, WHICH IS IMPORTANT. NEVER HOLD TO THE LETTER WRITTEN, NOR ALLOW SOME BARRACKS ROOM LAWYER TO FORCE QUOTATIONS FROM THE RULE BOOK UPON YOU, IF IT GOES AGAINST THE OBVIOUS INTENT OF THE GAME. AS YOU HEW THE LINE WITH RESPECT TO CONFORMITY TO MAJOR SYSTEMS AND UNIFORMITY OF PLAY IN GENERAL, ALSO BE CERTAIN THE GAME IS MASTERED BY YOU AND NOT BY YOUR PLAYERS. WITHIN THE BROAD PARAMETERS GIVEN IN THE ADVANCED DUNGEONS 8 DRAGONS VOLUMES, YOU ARE CREATOR AND FINAL ARBITER. BY ORDERING THINGS AS THEY SHOULD BE, THE GAME AS A WHOLE FIRST, YOUR CAMPAIGN NEXT, AND YOUR PARTICIPANTS THEREAFTER, YOU WILL BE PLAYING ADVANCED DUNGEONS 8 DRAGONS AS IT WAS MEANT TO BE. MAY YOU FIND AS MUCH PLEASURE IN SO DOING AS THE REST OF US DO!

What does it mean?

To be sure, there are many things here that the unlearned and unstable can twist out of context. One thing is clear, however. Dungeon Masters wielding the AD&D rules are not given free rein to change things as they please.

Note, for instance, the references to “conformity to major systems” and “uniformity of play.” These are not concepts that have been summoned ex nihilo in order to bestow upon the Dungeon Master ULTIMATE POWER to change any and every rule as he sees fit. Quite the contrary. One need only look to the introduction to gain a fuller picture of what Gygax means by them:

“With certain uniformity of systems and ‘laws’, players will be able to move from one campaign to another and know at least the elemental principles which govern the new milieu, for all milieux will have certain (but not necessarily the same) laws in common. Character races and classes will be nearly the same. Character ability scores will have the identical meaning – or nearly so. Magic spells will function in a certain manner regardless of which world the player is functioning in. Magic devices will certainly vary, but their principles will be similar. This uniformity will help not only players, it will enable DMs to carry on a meaningful dialogue and exchange of useful information.”

The design objective laid out here is obviously incompatible with rule zero. To further hammer home the point, Gygax follows this with a passage warning of the dangers of a mutable system. Whatever happened after 1979, when the AD&D rules were first released they were intended to produce something significantly different from what people tended to do with those first three rules booklets!

Ah, but Jeffro, you say. Aren’t you leaving something out? If you are going to slavishly follow all the rules of AD&D, shouldn’t you rather just play chess? Well let’s look at that:

“Naturally, everything possible cannot be included in the whole of this work. As a participant in the game, I would not care to have anyone telling me exactly what must go into a campaign and how it must be handled; if so, why not play some game like chess?”

You want to know where you as a dungeon master have complete authority to create and change everything to be just the way he wants it? That’s right! It’s in the areas where the rules are silent. As anyone that has undertaken the running of an original AD&D milieu knows, those rules leave ample room for a DM to create anything he can imagine. In fact they require him to!

Gygax touches on this again in the introduction:

“Know the game systems, and you will know how and when to take upon yourself the ultimate power. To become the final arbiter, rather than the interpreter of the rules, can be a difficult and demanding task, and it cannot be undertaken lightly, for your players expect to play this game, not one made up on the spot. By the same token, they are playing the game the way you, their DM, imagines and creates it.”

The players are right to expect to play the AD&D game. And yes, I do have to interpret the rules when unusual situations occur. For instance, is a first level illusionist in his first adventure required to cast his spell that he declared before initiative was rolled when the monsters end up fleeing in abject terror in the same round? I don’t think the rules are explicit on that point. Looking on that same page of Gygax’s example of when a wandering monster check can be dismissed I think the intent of the game is obvious. Rather than spoil that illusionist’s evening by arbitrarily ruining his only chance to cast a spell, I think it’s fair to allow him to draw his dagger and take his free attack at +6 on the fleeing frog men– and save that spell back for a time when it could actually contribute to the excitement.

That is what “ultimate power” looks like. It is to be an arbiter of the rules and not someone that rewrites them as they please.

If you’ve never tried playing this way, you really should. I think Gygax’s skill as a game designer and his insight into Dungeon Mastering will surprise you.

Of course, if you are the typical sort of role-player that would rather play the Basic D&D rules because they specifically state they are not rules, but that everything about them is changeable, well hey– have fun! But even Moldvay said you should play them rules as written for a while before considering making changes to them.

If you never took the time to do that then you are most assuredly playing wrong.

AD&D Session 16: Return to Sorceress Mountain

Lots off old business to announce at the beginning of this one:

  • Fagor was out this session due to training. (He set up a 3000+ gp fund with some gnomish bankers so that anyone that punches him in the face gets paid ten gold.)
  • Narjhan (the human thief with the demon rope) was out due to training as well. In this Lankhar-like city, having the thieves guild as a patron is a no-brainer. They will train him for free but require 40% of everything he takes.
  • The traded in a scroll with Project Image, Feeblemind, and Extension II on it swoleceror successfully researched Bigby’s Discomforting Wedgy. (Hans Franzen now has a set of Erlenmeyer flasks, an electrode, and a rare fluorescent pink volume of Zilifant’s reflections on ab development. This small beginning of a magical laboratory will surely help him in his future researches in the ancient art of swolecery!)
  • Chaz the Elven Footpad has been organizing his elf supremacist group in his down time, tearing down statues, etc. He had also previously asked if there was a way the players could steal back their training gold after the level. I generated the ten demi-humans that are even capable of leveling out of the population of 500 changelings– 7 elfs and 3 dwarfs in this case. I told Chaz that these zero level characters will pay him to train him as a thief. (Chaz infiltrated the thieves guild by wearing a head band and is only allowed to operate in the undead quarter and in dungeons. The thieves guild is humanocentric and can be relied upon to discriminate against demi-humans.)
  • While I’m thinking of it, heterodox clerics like Brother Payne should probably suffer a training cost penalty UNLESS they are researching original spells the way Hans Franzen is.

Fagor’s player came in with his new back up character, a first level illusionist with one hit point named Bill Murray. Chaz selected the three dwarfs– Doogie, Stoogie, and Loogie– as henchmen, buying them chainmail and battle axes.

The party was not happy with their performance during the past few sessions. They lost a second level cleric in the undead quarter in exchange for zero treasure. The nearly lost another second level player character in each of the two sessions after that. This is a far cry from those halcyon days when they were kneeing naked demon women in the groin and desecrating orc mud pits.

They decide to quit the sewers and try the other dungeon way out in the jungle. (But not the huge ruined pile– that one is suspected to be overrun by mushrooms for some reason.) They head out there without encountering anything, climb up the mountain, enter the stone face, descend the indentations on the columnar basalt, and then head back to the room with the evil woman frozen in ice. The players asked if she looked different and I can’t remember what I said now.

They cut through the secret passage and check out the sliding panel with two holes behind it. Bill Murray sticks his mop through one of the holes. Somebody else sticks a spear or something through. The players are stumped by whatever this is.

They then go up to the other secret door. They have lined up with two dwarfs in front, to fighting men with long pokey weapons behind them, and then two oil tossers behind them. They open the door with torches out. The dwarfs note there are monsters in there and the party lights up their torches and rolls for initiative.

The party stayed in the doorway limiting the number of characters that could even be attacked. They scored a direct hit with oil on a frog man and he burned completely up. The swoleceror cast Bigby’s Discomforting Wedgy and the biggest frog of the group failed his saving throw. This group of frogs failed their morale check and moved down the hallway to another room.

The party followed and the lead dwarfs killed the two frogs serving as rearguard. Again, they refused to rush into the room to enjoin melee. (Memories of their failure with the pugmen made them much more cautious.

The party did get mobbed with Torin taking a pretty decent amount of damage. The two dwarfs each managed to kill two more frogs. The flaming oil continued to fly, and somehow there was another morale check. This time it wasn’t a fighting retreat or anything like that. It was total panic. I ruled the party got a free attack on the fleeing frogmen per the same rule that spelled certain doom for the first party of the campaign. One player argued they should get their normal attacks PLUS the free attacks at +6 and I ruled against that on the basis that the players will someday have to flee in panic as well and they will not want their greediness now to count against them then.

(Oh, we had one rules question. Can a magic-user cancel a spell that he declared before initiative was rolled or is that lost no matter what? I said I’d look it up later but let it go in this case mostly because I wanted to see what the illusionist could do.)

I can’t remember what happened next. I think the players elected not to pursue the frog men into the unknown. They went back to the first room where they first encountered the frogs and discovered two secret doors. One leading to a spiral staircase, the other leading to a passage with sunlight that they could see up ahead. They elect not to delve deeper but instead head toward the sunlight, coming out into a mossy crevasse lined pillars.

The explore a temple of some kind and find a statue of a naked woman with six arms and a snake body from the waste down. The players are not afraid of it because they think it has to have a sorcerer nearby to successfully animate it. Chaz climbs up the back of the statue and carves the jewels out of the its eyes. He rappels down to her bosom and starts to take the gemstones that are also on her chest, but peeling thunder and a darkening sky causes him to think better of this. He jumps down with just the eyes and the party prepares to go.

They come back through the two frogman rooms and head through the south passage. Doogie and Stoogie fall down into a pit trap and Stoogie is dropped to zero hit points. The players fish him out and they go all the way back to the sorceress in the ice via the secret passages. He runs off croaking and the players prepare for the worst.

They come back to the initial octagonal room with four passages and there is a mob of frogs their. The players remain disciplined and stay in the choke point, letting loose the flaming oil again, disintegrating a couple of frog men. Bill Murray then uses Change Self to make himself look like the woman in the ice. He makes elaborate gestures pretending to be casting a complex spell. The frogs go berserk and flee in terror with the players once again getting their free attacks at +6 versus a fleeing enemy.

The players clamber up the columnar basalt and then down the granite slab and make a camp somewhere. The next day they are nearly run down by a group of sixteen dinosaurs. On their way out the jungle they pass by two jaguars that look like they’d decided not to mess with the players.

They get back to Trollopulous and head back to the favorite jeweler. The haggling is intense and I determine that these are very large gems, not huge ones. The players are not happy with their offer, so Bill Murray makes himself look as gnome-like as possible (checking the rules later he can’t go that short!) and pretends to be really impressed with the quality of the gem, etc. etc. [DM rolls dice.] The jeweler relents and lets the players eek out another hundred gold or so.

Grading this time: I ask for everyone’s alignment and try to come up with places to mark people down. Can’t think of anything, so I warn the good-aligned players that if things get out of hand with Narjhan when he comes back, they are liable to get some static here.

Upcoming down time actions:

  • Redgar is inquiring about the demon lady; spending 50 gold on bribes, sages, etc.
  • Chaz and Torin are scouting the undead quarter again.
  • Chaz will also work in another protest against the Trollopulous’s humanocentrism.
  • Bill Murray is spending 100 gold buying godawful costumes and a big sack to store them in.
  • I think Torin is not leveling even if able due to lack of funds for training.

Cast o’ Characters:

Rhedgar the Veteran — [Delve 15 and 16]  Gold shares = 152 + 338 = 680. Experience is  528 + 362 = 890 XP.

Bill Murray the Prestidigitator — [Delve 16 only] Gold 338 and 362 XP.

Torin the Strider — [Delves 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 6b, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 16] 2250 + 800 + 734 + 70 + 191 + 362 = 4407 xp (levels at 4500) [Looks like a member of ZZ Top] +666 gold from session 12, +141 gold from session 14, +338 gold from session 16 [Member of the Order of the Knights of Trollopulous]

Hans Franzen the Swoleceror — (3 hits, Burning hands, Jump, Message, Read Magic, Zilifant’s Effervescent Protein Bomb, Bigby’s Discomforting Wedgy) [Delves 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6a, 6b, 8, 11, 12, 13, and 14] 2500 + 734 + 70 + 191 = 3495 XP. (Levels at 5000) [Looks like a member of ZZ Top], [Member of the Order of the Knights of Trollopulous] 1336 + 141 = 1477 Gold

Chaz the Elven Footpad— [Delve 11, 12, 13, and 15] 1250 + 30 + 528 + 362 = ____ xp (levels at 2500) +666 gold from session 12, +152 gold from session 15, and +338 from session 16. [Member of the Order of the Knights of Trollopulous]

Doogie, Stoogie, and Loogie — [Delve 16 only] 169 gold and 181 XP each.

Treasure and experience:

The party sold the gems for 2200 gold, yielding shares of 338 each (169 for the henchmen.) Killing ten frogmen brings up the XP share to 362 and 181 respectively.

Time:

Day 1: The Hole in the Sky

Day 2: The Thing in the Sewer

Day 7: The Big Score part I

Day 8: The Big Score part II

(Day 9-14 — player characters all carousing¹; Keebler Khan fully recovered) <—- I day of real world time = one day of game time!)

Day 15: The Drums of the Dog People

(Day 16-21: More carousing, fasting, panhandling.)

Day 22-25: Altar of the Beast-women

(Day 26-31: Resting)

Day 32-33: The Pugs of Slaughter

(Day 34-39: Resting)

Day 40: The Overbearing of the Crystal Men

(Day 41-46: Resting)

Days 47-48: The Song of Fàgor

(Day 49-70: In shock from an awesomely weird adventure. Sad!)

Day 71: The Woman in the Ice

(Day 72-76: Resting)

Day 78-79: The Return to Trollopulous

(Day 80-85: Carousing in a besieged Trollopulous.)

Day 86: “You Just Ruined My Story Arc”

(Day 87-92: Utterly exhausted!)

Day 93-95: The Schwérpunkt of the Pig-Men

(Day 96-101: Carousing)

Day 102: A Night in the Autonomous Zone

(Days 103-108: In Trollopulous)

Day 109: The Rave of the Monkey Goddess

(Day 110-115: Scouting out jungle and undead quarter)

Day 116: Snakepede Legion

(Day 117-122: Fagor leveling; Chaz protesting)

Day 123-126: Return to Sorceress Mountain

The graveyard:

Dorkorus — Half-elf fighter/magic-user/thief — [Half brother to Keebler Khan, talked with a lisp!] Killed by a pug-man in the sewers  of Trolopulous.

Dairage — Elf fighter/magic-user — Killed with his shield spell on, valiantly taking down the leader of the pug-men so that the party could have a chance to escape certain death!

9 Hapless men-at-arms! — Killed by the pug-men in the sewers of Trollopulous!

Arthur the Gallant (7 hits) [Delves 2, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6a, 6b, 7, 8, and 9] XP: 122 + 753 + 351 + 54 + 766 + 8 + 80 + 255 + 0 + 195 = 2584 [Looked like a member of ZZ Top] — Killed in the sewers of Trollopulous while bashing a baby wererat with his shield.

Catskinner the thug — Smashed to a pulp by a white ape in the swamps near Trollopulous.

Aulis Martel the Adept (8 hits) [Delves 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6a, 7, and 13] XP: 753 + 351 + 54 + 766 + 8 + 255 => Just leveled up at 1500 XP. Reduced to idiocy by a Guild Navigator in the basement of the party’s autonomous zone in the undead quarter of Trollopulous.

AD&D Session 15: Snakepede Legion

The ranger and the swoleceror were out this week. Brother Payne’s player asked if someone else could run his character as a henchmen and he got a typically longwinded lecture from me on why this is not recommended in Real D&D.

I have to choose how to prep. I can either research rules that nobody seems to have played or else create quick and dirty one page dungeons that the players end up not going to. I did a little of both this time. This week I was shocked to find out that in OD&D, “research by magical types can be done at any level of experience.” Does this carry over into AD&D? Of course it does! AD&D is not a separate game at all. It is an elaboration on OD&D.

Anyway, the players trickle in. Torin the Strider was supposed to be doing daylight scouting missions of the undead quarter. Fluid the Druid was just back from collecting mistletoe in the northern jungles. I decide that Chaz the Elven Footpad would have accompanied Torin on these excursions due to his strong interest in his autonomous zone there. I tell the players that the animals are acting strangely up in the jungles; that Fluid’s Dr. Doolittle routine doesn’t seem to be working like before. Also, the ranger found tracks matching the things that attacked them which lead back from their estate to sort of a mausoleum. Fluid could not persuade the players to go check on his animal friends. And though Fluid pressed hard for the party to convert the Undead Quarter into a nature preserve and arboretum, the players were too wary of tangling with powerful undead to take the bait. I mean, uh, follow up on this lead.

Anyway, after last session the players were concerned about their ability to coordinate during bread and butter dungeon crawl scenarios. They decide to go back into the sewers just to check if they can step up their game.

They head over to Harlot Central and ask about the dude that is loitering over there. Oh, yeah. There is a brute squad currently trying to press him into service. The party is all over this. What is all this about? Well, the demi-humans have been rioting again. They tore down a statue of a Hippogriff. Chaz the Elven Footpad totally supports these actions and makes an Elf Power handsign. Narjhan confirms his suspicion that the homeless guy from previous sessions is part of the thieves guild. Fluid the Druid casts Charm Person on the leader of the brute squad and persuades him to leave a couple of guys here by the memorial fountain so as to cover their exit.

The players go into the sewers and have a new means of handling their bell tripwires. They are going to use resin instead of hammering spikes into the walls. They move very slowly, creating this warning system as they go and scouting ahead. They want to go towards the laughing sound that they heard ten sessions ago.

Sending Chaz the Footpad to scout a sound that sounds like cards being shuffled, he comes back and says that he saw a large mound blocking the free flow of sewage. On top of it was some sort of writhing thing or things. He’s not sure what it is. The players are uncertain about leaving this thing be while the go down a different passage so they send Fagor up in order to take a closer look. Closer and closer… he sees shapes that look like many legged snakes. He gets noticed and suddenly the exact ranges all start to matter. He has to be outside of torch range from the party and he has to be within infravision range to the monsters. Fagor is backing away slowly, but these monsters are FAST!

I roll a crap ton of dice and report that Fagor cries out and then falls into the sludge. The party has to decide whether to leave him to the monsters or else stand and fight. Fagor’s player has to sit quietly while the players debate this. The players win initiative and Fluid the Druid manages to cast entangle in time to slow the monsters. I check the saving throws for them and they are all stuck fast within the spontaneously grown mushrooms and fungoids. Fluid then casts speak with animals. These things are kinda grumpy. Fluid asks how many they are and they say, “we are legion!” He tries to work a favor out of them, but they say, “suck it, two legs!”

Half-beard takes out ten vials of oil. We double check and it turns out that this guy is encumbered from trying to haul 40 vials of oil around. The players never delve too far and they aren’t hauling treasure out, so it’s not really an issue. But still! Anyway, he takes the tens vials of oil and lights up the mushrooms. The freaky snakepedes take some damage but they are freed from the entanglement. It’s roll for initiative time!

The monsters win. One snakepede burns up in the remaining flames as they crash into the players’ front line. Half-beard ends up going down. A new player’s fighter that doesn’t have a name had elected to set his spear. He successfully attacks and then goes down. Two of Fagor’s sword henchmen go down. Fluid the Druid turns his flesh into bark. And Narjhan’s demon rope ties three of these things together.

There is one monster on the loose still. The thieves are seriously debating whether or not to flee. I warn the players that missile weapons will have a chance of hitting the players if melee is engaged. One player swears up and down that missiles come before melee. The game nearly descends into acrimony over this, but it’s all moot as the players win initiative. A bark-encrusted Fluid the Druid wades in with his scimitar and cuts the remaining monster in half.

I check for wandering monsters and one comes up. The players hear signal drums to the north. The players really really hope there is a layer here. Searching around, they find no stacks of coins. No treasure chests. They hope there is something inside the gizzards of the monsters. Cutting them open they find nothing. Last, they hastily search the thing blocking the sewage. It is the carcass of a large winged bull with eight horns and chicken feet. It turns out of have a jeweled collar.

The players recover their downed party members– Fagor, Half-beard, new fighter guy, and three henchmen– and drag them out of the dungeon. An embittered Chaz knocks over the fountain when he comes out.

The players then spend a lot of time trying to get the best possible price for this jeweled collar. They check with several jewelers– and there has to be several because every time they go to this dungeon they walk down freaking Jewel Street. They check with the thieve’s guild. The end up going back to this one dealer and talk him up another fifty gold pieces in exchange for their earnest endorsement to all other adventurers.

More intense discussion as we figure out that Narjhan is set to go to level two and Fagor just now qualifies for level three. How are we going to work this?

Also, I almost let it slide but the players end up demanding that they have their performances graded. I rack my brains trying to find something to mark these people down on, but I end up having to begrudgingly hand out top marks to everyone.

Everyone wants to give their plans for the upcoming downtime:

  • Chaz the Elven  Footpad will be spending time hanging out with downtrodden elves that are discriminated against by the thieves guild. Organizing peaceful protests. Also, looking to set yp a counter thieves-guild for demi-humans.
  • Fluid the Druid will be spending the next six days teaching his animal friend dog Petunia to “sick balls.”
  • Fagor the Half-Orc Warrior is setting aside several thousand gold into a special fund. For the next two weeks he will be sleeping in the streets and anyone than manages to punch him in the face will get ten gold. (Incidentally, this scenario answers why the players can’t just immediately try to steal back their gold for training. Take that, players!)
  • The new fighter guy with no name is going to be looking into moonlighting as a security guard.
  • Narjhan has some kind of deal with the thieves guild for training. They get a 40% cut of ALL his take. He has to do gigs for them on the side. Not sure what else.

Heads up, Narjhan and Fagor will not be in play next week due to being out for training.

See you next time!

Cast o’ Characters:

Fagor the Half-Orc [Level 2] [Delves 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 6b, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15] — 2000 + 800 + 734 + 70 + 191 + 528 = FROZEN AT 4000 UNTIL HE LEVELS [His horns have grown incredibly large. Looks frightening and diabolical.] (His name means “astonishing hero” in orcish. For real!) +666 gold from session 12, + 141 gold from session 14, +152 gold from session 15 [Member of the Order of the Knights of Trollopulous]

Half-Beard the Veteran — [Delve 12, 13, 14 and 15] 666 +141 + 152 = 1009 gold, 734 + 70 + 191 + 528 = 1523 XP. [Member of the Order of the Knights of Trollopulous]

Narjhan the Rogue — [Delve 11, 13, 14 and 15] 800 + 70 + 191 + 528 = FROZEN AT 1250 UNTIL HE LEVELS (Has weird ‘weeping dagger’ and a rope that follows voice commands.) (+141 gold from session 14 and +152 gold from session 15.)

Fluid the Druid — [Delve 9, 10, 11, 14, and 15] 2000 + 191 + 528 = 2191 XP. (+141 gold from session 14 and +152 gold from session 15.)

New Guy Fighter aka Rhedgar — [Delve 15 only] +152 gold and 528 XP.

Gilgald, Logan, and Simon — [Delve 12, 13, 14, and 15] Studded Leather and shortswords. 333 + 70 + 76 = 479 gold and 362 + 35 + 95 + 264 = 756 XP each!

Nasty and Dernhelm — [Delve 12, 14 and 15] Studded Leather and shortswords. 333 + 70 + 76 = 479 gold and 362 + 95 + 264 = 721 XP each! (Training for dedicated grappling)

Experience and Treasure:

The players sold the collar for shares of 152 gold each (with 76 going to the henchmen). XP shares are 528 each (with 264 going to the henchmen.)

Time:

Day 1: The Hole in the Sky

Day 2: The Thing in the Sewer

Day 7: The Big Score part I

Day 8: The Big Score part II

(Day 9-14 — player characters all carousing¹; Keebler Khan fully recovered) <—- I day of real world time = one day of game time!)

Day 15: The Drums of the Dog People

(Day 16-21: More carousing, fasting, panhandling.)

Day 22-25: Altar of the Beast-women

(Day 26-31: Resting)

Day 32-33: The Pugs of Slaughter

(Day 34-39: Resting)

Day 40: The Overbearing of the Crystal Men

(Day 41-46: Resting)

Days 47-48: The Song of Fàgor

(Day 49-70: In shock from an awesomely weird adventure. Sad!)

Day 71: The Woman in the Ice

(Day 72-76: Resting)

Day 78-79: The Return to Trollopulous

(Day 80-85: Carousing in a besieged Trollopulous.)

Day 86: “You Just Ruined My Story Arc”

(Day 87-92: Utterly exhausted!)

Day 93-95: The Schwérpunkt of the Pig-Men

(Day 96-101: Carousing)

Day 102: A Night in the Autonomous Zone

(Days 103-108: In Trollopulous)

Day 109: The Rave of the Monkey Goddess

(Day 110-115: Scouting out jungle and undead quarter)

Day 116: Snakepede Legion

The graveyard:

Dorkorus — Half-elf fighter/magic-user/thief — [Half brother to Keebler Khan, talked with a lisp!] Killed by a pug-man in the sewers  of Trolopulous.

Dairage — Elf fighter/magic-user — Killed with his shield spell on, valiantly taking down the leader of the pug-men so that the party could have a chance to escape certain death!

9 Hapless men-at-arms! — Killed by the pug-men in the sewers of Trollopulous!

Arthur the Gallant (7 hits) [Delves 2, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6a, 6b, 7, 8, and 9] XP: 122 + 753 + 351 + 54 + 766 + 8 + 80 + 255 + 0 + 195 = 2584 [Looked like a member of ZZ Top] — Killed in the sewers of Trollopulous while bashing a baby wererat with his shield.

Catskinner the thug — Smashed to a pulp by a white ape in the swamps near Trollopulous.

Aulis Martel the Adept (8 hits) [Delves 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6a, 7, and 13] XP: 753 + 351 + 54 + 766 + 8 + 255 => Just leveled up at 1500 XP. Reduced to idiocy by a Guild Navigator in the basement of the party’s autonomous zone in the undead quarter of Trollopulous.