This session opened with me a bit bored. You know I felt guilty for running this campaign for eighteen sessions without sitting down a creating a real dungeon the way that Gygax said to do in the opening of original D&D and the way that Ken St. Andre said to do in the opening of Tunnels & Trolls. It’s weird, but… man, I just liked winging it. Playing every session like it was going to be the last one. Cranking the awesome, the stupid, and the dangerous far beyond what I could guess could actually be managed.
Sitting on top of fifteen one page dungeons, I was just plain BORED. For one thing, I knew everything that was likely to happen. For another… the players’ collective penchant for pursuing low risk, low reward adventure options resulted in a baffling path through all my preparations: the least heroic, least romantic path through everything I had worked to create! The players had got the exact game they had demanded… but with the low payoffs from the past two sessions and a pretty high body count for henchmen, I couldn’t help but think that they weren’t too happy with it, either.
Maybe that had something to do with several key players just suddenly having something else to do on a Thursday night. At any rate, we started the session with nobody but Fluid the third level Druid, Rhedegar the second level fighter, Malbert the first level fighter, and Malalip the second level Monk. I had this idea that arbitrarily pushing time forward to search for henchmen and men-at-arms was against Gygax’s intent for the game, so I told them they had to run with what they had and THAT’S IT.
I went through and briefly described again each of the major prepared adventure locations in my composition book. Strangely enough, the players opted to go check out the spiritualism exhibit on the first floor of the Tower of Ultimate Darkness. This was by far the most stupid of all the adventure options. And after the near-TPK there a few sessions back, nobody had been inclined to go back. I think I mentioned this time that the fifth floor of this place was literally the assassin’s guild from the John Wick movies.
Anyway, the four player characters roll into this place a bit gingerly. They meet a goodwife on the ground floor that told them that the exhibit was VERY INFORMATIVE and to be sure to get a souvenir replica Ouija Board from the gift shop. The players took the elevator to the first floor and we got confused describing the map to each other. We suck at this for some reason. Finally they go through the exhibit, which has magic mouths that gab away at each station when you push a button. Lots of information about the fabled 5th Aeon of Trollopulous. It was incredible!
The players decided to go check out the Trollopulean Spiritualism Historical Society reading room and the Trollopulean Spiritualism Special Collection. Fluid the Druid tried to charm the librarian and then cast detect magic. Many of the books here glowed blue! Fluid the Druid asked for information on how to contact the Great Druid Getafix. He found the perfect “Dummies” guide for Basic Level spiritualism and soon found himself under some kind of weird compulsion. Or maybe this was just how Fluid the Druid normally behaves.
They go to get their souvenir replica 5th Aeon Ouija Board and find a room with a GIANT SIZE replica Ouija Board. Nobody but Fluid wants to get on it. Fluid, Petnuia the dog, and some Cheap Trollop Fluid had picked up with a Charm Mammal spell get up on it and hold hands. Before long, Fluid is talking to the spirit of Getafix the Great Druid! He asks for the recipe for a POTION OF STRENGTH 18/00. This voice gives him detailed instructions including the location of two rare plants that are necessary to make this work. Before getting off Ouija arrow, the voice from beyond tells them, “you’re going to owe me one for this.” Fluid is nonplussed.
The players decide to go get these ingredients. They saddle up and head towards the Mountains of Madness. On their way out of town they pass a merchant caravan bringing in a fresh batch of trollops to replenish the city’s supplies. This time I am carefully using the AD&D wilderness rules adjudicate all this. This includes lower chance for encounters, but more rolls per day and different odds depending on how close to civilization the players are. The players end up getting lost and find themselves at the Sea of Perdition. They are confused about how they can get lost when they have such a clear landmark to head for and I sternly lecture them about how getting lost in this situation would totally make sense in, say, The King of Elfland’s Daughter.
They finally find the plant for this potion and they head back to town, not running into any monsters along the way. This was not terribly exciting. Didn’t really matter because the players could just keep on travelling. (And yes, this game suddenly did feel like a pretty decent Traveller session.) They got more supplies in Trollopuluous and then headed into the jungles. Before the druid could cast Find Plants or whatever, this weird, fungus-filled zombie dinosaur came crashing through the woods requiring them to roll for initiative!
Fluid had this idea to cast cure disease or something on this thing. The party deals out ranged weapons, barely scratching the thing. Fluid walks up and touches the thing and… nothing happens. I did give this a slight chance of success and the dice didn’t roll with it. Now fluid is facing a claw/claw/bite routine. I started to make up this thing about the jaw of this beast popping open or something but everyone told me not to pull my punches. I retconned the idea out of existence and let Fluid take the full routine. Seven hits! Could have been worse, too.
Fluid then pulled a Homer Simpson and faded into the underbrush without a trace. The party elected to fight on, this time with Malbert taking some hits. His armor shrugged off a lot of this, but he still took some significant damage over the course of two rounds. Then Fluid came back and cast insect swarm, which debilitated the monster for a few rounds. (Can fungoid driven zombie dinosaurs get irritated/distracted by a swarm of insects? I say yes.)
The party finished the thing off, collected their potion ingredient and then headed over to Fluid’s treehouse. They rested there for the night and decided to check out the huge ruined pile while they were in the vicinity. They headed in that direction and then heard a lion roar. I explain to Fluid that it is signaling a warning that they are violating a DOMAIN. Then our meeting software shut down and it took forever to find an alternative.
We almost got to find out what would happen if you STOPPED THE GAME WHILE THE PLAYERS WERE STILL DOING SOMETHING OUTSIDE OF TOWN! But then we found another platform, the players declared they were going back to Trollopulous, and I checked for random encounters and got nothing else, so the game once again ended with the players back in town. Close call!
This adventure took fourteen game days to be played out. That means these four player characters are now out of play for the next two weeks in real time, too. Time to work up those alternate player characters!
Treasure and Experience:
The players pick up 100 XP each for killing a zombie fungus-infused dinosaur. Looking into the druid and potion manufacture rules, I am ruling that each of these players will be given a complementary strength potion twelve days after they return to town. Those are worth 300 XP each. (Though the proprietor of Ye Old Magic Shoppe suggests that they do something awesome with them rather than selling them on the open market for the 750 gp they would bring.)
Cast o’ Characters:
Malbert the Veteran (9 hits) [Delves 2, 3a, 3b, 8, 20, and 21] XP: 122 + 753 + 351 + 0 + 239 + 400 = 1865. Potion of Strength 18/00.
Fluid the Druid, Initiate of the 2nd Circle — Level three druid. [Delve 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 19, 20, and 21] 4000 + 106 + 369 + 400 = 4875 XP. Should be broke from training. 63 gold last time and 160 this time. Procurer of the fabled Boobs of Opar. Potion of Strength 18/00.
Malalip the Initiate — Level two monk. [Sessions 18, 19, and 21] 2250 + 106 + 400 XP. All saving spent on training. 63 gold this time. Sole survivor of level 10 of The Tower of Ultimate Darkness. Potion of Strength 18/00.
Rhedgar the Swordsman — Level two fighter. [Delve 15, 16, 17, 19, and 21] 2000 + 106 + 400 XP. Should be broke from training. 63 gold this time. Procurer of the fabled Boobs of Opar. Potion of Strength 18/00.
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
(Day 138-143: Fluid the Druid, Narjhan, and Rhedgar all training)
Day 144: Spirit Cooking of the Rich and Famous
(Day 145-172: Fagor acquires Peero the sweeper)
Day 173: In Search of the Level Appropriate
(Day 174-179: Some first level cleric spent 200 gold to look for the men-at-arms he could take down to up to the third level.)
Day 180: Lizardache’s Den of Instinkquity
(Day 181-186: Nothing much.)
Day 187 (Sept 24, 2020): Group A (Fluid, Rhedegar, Malbert, and Malalip) 14 day journey for potion of strength 18/00 ingredients. 12 days after return they get the potions.
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.
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. Killed by a “Bone” devil as he opened the door to the Fire Escape.
Brother Pain the Acolyte [Delve 3b, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 14] [Looks like a member of ZZ Top] XP: 1500 + 191 = 1691, +141 gold from session 14. Killed by a “Bone” devil as he attempted to free innocent looking little girls from evil spirit cooking people.
Bill Murray the Prestidigitator — [Delve 16 only] Gold 338 and 362 XP. Killed by a “Bone” devil in the den of the spirit cookers.
Dronal the Bravo — Killed by a “Bone” devil in the den of the spirit cookers.
Biff the Bold the “Veteran” — Pinned to an ice wall by a “Bone” devil in the den of the spirit cookers.
Kathars the Veteran — Welcomed into the pits of hell by Mephistopheles.
Doogie and Loogie the dwarfs — [Delve 16 only] 169 gold and 181 XP each. Killed by beastmen in the underground complex.
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] Killed by a lizard man in the caves underneath the underground complex.
Gilgalad — [Delve 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, and 19] Plate mail and shortswords. 333 + 70 + 76 + 875 + 31 = 1385 gold and 362 + 35 + 95 + 264 + 908 + 53 = 1717 XP each! Killed by a troglodyte in Lizardache’s Den of Instinkquity.