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AD&D Session 29: The Shield of Nergal

We missed a couple of weeks due to the holidays.

During the hiatus the real time rules we pioneered last year were a powerful incentive to set up impromptu games even if it was on the same night as other people’ games. The medusa head was a powerful item… but if we waited too long to play again, it would be completely rotten when we resumed. If the players could pick up from the next day after their last session they could clear out multiple dungeon levels by leveraging the awesome power of the gaze attack. Or maybe they could have someone take the Pegasus, fly back to Trollopulous, and then turn Elric to stone.

Big things could happen. The player with the Medusa head asked if he could turn it into a permanent magic item. This is not directly addressed by the rules, but judging from the spell research rules I declared that he did not have the resources, expertise, or laboratory assets to make this work.

Days ticked by. Opportunities evaporated as gifts were exchanged. The game world continued on even if we weren’t actively playing it!

Finally we got back together for a game. I told the players that the Medusa head was held together only by the magical energies of the creature they’d cut it from. They sensed somehow that they could get one or more uses from it… but any successful use would result in a chance of causing the head to disentegrate.

Lotsa discussion about what to do ensued. Not one thought was given for the Dark Crystal, Cave Men, and mushroom people on the other side of the map. Should the players go to Tharktopia with the head? Hobgobiton?

But then there were questions about the cleric/assassin that was spying on the group of 60 Venger Satanis clones six hexes away. There was no strong consensus about what to do with the session, so when the cleric/assassin player mentioned that he didn’t have another character prepared I knew EXACTLY what to do.

I apologized to the other players and switched to the cleric/assassins situation. He doesn’t fit in with the Venger Satanis people at all. But they seem to tolerate him. There is this super long dig going on and he goes down and checks out their progress. Everyone is excited. The diggers think they will break through ANY MOMENT NOW. Going back topside, the cleric/assassin witnesses flying creatures circling in the skies above. Also, in the disance… dirt plumes indicating the arrival of a whole lot of SOMETHING within a couple of hours.

The cleric/assassin retires to a nearby ridge to observe the carnage. A couple hundred horsemen roll in an completely annihilate the Venger Satanis clones. At this point, the cleric/assassin decides that NOW would be a good time to head for… I dunno… the Adventurer’s Aid Society octagon six hexes away.

There he meets a group of adventurers that just so happen to have a Medusa head on their hands and nothing exciting to use it on. Fagor was having drinks with a statue of a bard– the cleric/assassin’s previous character that had died last time. While the party buys rations, horses, and gear I check the wandering monsters for five hexes of plains travel. Some large spotted lions are seen about a hundred yards away. The players opt to steer clear of these beasts.

Arriving at the dig there is now a gigantic burial mound that wasn’t there before. The players decide to leave the two sumo wrestlers with the horses and head down the excavation tunnel after Peero demonstrates its usage. They get down to the bottom and are surprised to find a few digging tools down there. The players start digging and having dirt and rocks lifted up back topside. A couple of hours later, a hole appears in the floor and a red light is coming out of it. The players decide it must be Hades or something, but insist that digging through to the other side of the earth and into an Oriental Adventures campaign would be better.

Peero is lowered through the passageway and reports that there is a maze down there with the negative space being all fire pits. I tell the players how beautiful it is. Like… it’s totally been drawn by Dyson Logos. The crosshatching is superb. At this exact moment, Big Chungus lays down on my gaming notes and rpg books and I tell him to take a hike. Embarassing!

Anyway, the players have Peero make a map of the maze on the some monk-skin parchment– all that is left of ANOTHER of the cleric/assassin’s dead characters. (Harry Plinkett the magic-user saved this back the time the monk got turned into Pizza Rolls.) The players lower themselves down to the maze and it turns out that it takes two trips to do this. They are on the maze, but at one end of the cavernous room there is a passage way leading into the darkness. At the other there is this giant statue of Nergal– really cool Babylonian dude with lion hindquarters. The party heads through the maze with Peero in the lead, but Fagor starts to lose his nerve. He has spent 29 sessions building up a 4th level half-orc fighter and this just feels like a big fat trap. He is finally persuaded to move on through the maze.

Half way to their destination twelve dragon heads poke up from the horrible fire pits. The cleric-assassin (“Pikachu” I think) and the fighter with the Medusa head (Franz) declare that they are going for the statue or bust. Fagor debates whether or not to flee the dungeon entirely but ends up staying when he realizes that anyone pulling themselves up 200 feet on the platform.

All hell breaks loose. Fire shoots out of the dragon-mouths but I read the monster manual entry wrong and use the rules for bite attacks instead. So this was really the non-firebreathing hydra with flame attack chrome. Many of the hits land on Harry Plinkett and he is completely incinerated along with his magic hat that he never once used. Peero also got burned up. Fagor, Laurel, and Hardy all took modest amounts of damage.

At this point the Medusa head gets held aloft. I ask someone to roll a die on camera and this goes terribly but somebody announces like a 15 or 16 or something. The players are like, this is not good! I tell the players that it must not have worked due to the smoke, the haze, or the poor lighting or something.

The cleric/assassin Pikachu then prays to his god Nergal for divine assistance. Like many things in D&D, there is also a small insignificant chance for just about anything. I pause the game to look this rule up because I know I saw it in there at some point. I was suprised that none of the players knew about it. I think it’s a 10% chance for something to happen. I roll percentile dice and boom… it comes up 01. This is so awesome I am sure the players think I am fudging this for them, but wow. Play enough D&D and this weird stuff happens eventually. Just like that one guy that gets psionics in a year.

So the giant Nergal statue is right there and laser beams shoot out of his eyes, knocking the hydra into the firepits. The players complete the maze and arrive at the Nergal statue. Pikachu the half-orc cleric/assassin carefully gets the large black shield. Mission accomplished, the party prepares to head out but the hydra has crawled back up into the maze and is coming to meet them. There is much cowering behind the black shield and maybe seven more breath attacks. The medusa head is yet-again held aloft and the saving throw die comes up with 8.

The hydra turns to stone and everybody leaves except Franz who wants to find more treasure. He finds this scribe’s room with a writing table, some large feathers, and a chest that is so heavy that he ends up calling Fagor for help. They drag it back to the lift and then realize it is too heavy to go up in one go anyway. Fagor bashes it open and it is just loaded with coin.

The party exits the dungeon through the cieling and then decides to head back to the Adventurers’ Aid Society octagon building. (I offered to attempt to quickly resolve the trip back to Trollopulous, but it was so late the players decided not to.)

Note that due to time effects, this event just happened 12 days in the future so the campaign gets a break from these characters whether it wants it or not.

Treasure and Experience

14,139 XP divided 4.5 ways is 3,142 XP for PCs and 1571 XP for henchmen. (Note: Nasty and Dernhelm only get XP for gold not monsters.)

7025 gold divided 5.5 ways is 1277 XP for PCs and 638 for henchmen.

Cast o’ Characters

Fagor the Half-Orc Hero [Delves 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 6b, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25, and 28] — 8000 + 603 + 3142 XP and 314 + 1277 gold. His horns have grown incredibly large. Looks frightening and diabolical. Cloven hooves His name means “astonishing hero” in orcish. Member of the Order of the Knights of Trollopulous.

Logan — Level 2 (16 hit points) [Delve 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25, 28, and 29] Plate mail and shortswords. 130 + 403.5 + 157 + 638 = 1328.5 gold and 2000 + 548.5 + 301 + 1571 = [Frozen at 4000 XP until he levels] XP.

Nasty and Dernhelm — Level 2 [Delve 12, 14, 15, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25, 28, and 29] Just a codpiece and a spear. 130 + 403.5 + 157 + 638 = 1328.5 gold and 2000 + 548.5 + 301 + 638 XP. (Trained for dedicated grappling)

Laurel and Hardy the barbarians (Session 28 nd 29) Henching for Fagor after meeting him at the Octagon. 301 + 1571 = 1872 XP and 157 + 638 = 795 gold.

Franz the Veteran (Session 28 and 29) — Made his saving throw versus gaze attack. Something to talk about in the tavern back home! 603 + 3142 = [Frozen at 2000 XP until he levels] XP and 314 + 1277 = 1591 gold.

Pikachu the Half-Orc Cleric/Assassin — In session 29 he picks up 3,142 XP and 1,277 gold. Frozen at 1500/1500 XP until he levels!

The Graveyard

Harry Plinkett — Human Prestidigitator (Session 22, 25, and 28) Turns dead player characters into pizza rolls. Has enough XP to level but not enough gold. Has magic hat and a scroll with several high level spells on it. +29.8 gold for session 28. Killed by a 12-headed pyro-hydra in the underworld of Nergal.

Peero the Sweeper — (Strength 15 an 7 hit points) [Delves 19, 20, 23, 24, 25, and 28] 31 + 80 + 165 + 403.5 + 157 = 836.5 gold and 53 + 119 + 349 + 548.5 + 301. Has antique monocle from 5th aeon. Killed by a 12-headed pyro-hydra in the underworld of Nergal.

2 responses to “AD&D Session 29: The Shield of Nergal

  1. J January 12, 2021 at 10:14 am

    Peero died looking at something interesting. Good for him!

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