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. If 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.
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.)
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
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.