onsdag 1. september 2010

SAGE play report part 1

Play report of Temple of the Sunken Moon, the response to my SAGE request.

Although the response to my SAGE request was excellent, and mr. Walsh is indeed a gentleman and a scholar, there was one thing I definitely had to change. My players are good, really good. They coordinate their attacks very well, and get as much mileage as possible out of their spells and class abilities. This means they can best a CR 9 monster pretty easily in a fair fight, even without five gnolls to use as meatshields.

I made one major change. Asung Takat now has eight bodies (the statues in the inner shrine), but only one spirit to control them. It can jump between bodies at will, and can only be destroyed by killing the one containing the spirit. This made it possible to add multiple eidolons to the complex without having to throw them at the party all at once, and as a bonus it made the final battle really weird.

I also added a lot of setting specific fluff.

Cast: Cromweld Hardtwerk, undead halfling sorcerer.

Volatile Log (usually referred to as Log), half elf rogue/wizard.

Terjon, human cleric.

Aran Beyron, blind human druid (plays blind on principle, because he feels the druid class is overpowered and he needs a handicap. Has repeatedly proven himself right, the bastard)

There is also a monk in the party, who was absent during this session.

The campaign takes place in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, in the kingdom of Cormyr. The players live in an encampment far into the Stonelands, a desperate attempt to retake the region from barbaric tribes and monsters and settle it with good taxpaying folk. The camp contains about 75 people, with military and trade caravans visiting sporadically.

The party was already between adventures, and since it is fall in my campaign and it had rained off and on for a long time, I could start off Walsh’ adventure right away.


The party is woken in the middle of the night (except for Cromweld, who needs no sleep), by the shouts of one of the guards.

"Alert, alert! Gnolls by the North gates!"

Terjon, Cromweld and Aran march up to the gates, while Log follow carefully behind them.
About half of the guards have gathered in front of the gate, standing in formation with their shields forming a protective wall. The PCs can see a group of five gnolls a few hundred feet up ahead, walking towards them at a slow pace, heads hung low, weapons sheathed. Terjon break up the phalanx, as the gnolls clearly mean no harm.

When the gnolls reach the gates, one of them steps forward and speaks in a broken dialect of the common tongue. “Chief Arakashoko greets you, hairless ones. Our people are in peril, and he asks for your help.”

About this time, father Halfar has managed to rouse himself from sleep, and emerges from the war tent. He looks sternly at the gnolls but remains passive, observing. (I’m not going to start negotiating with myself when the PCs could have something to say)

Terjon asks the gnolls about their troubles. They tell him of a great spirit that hunts their tribe, a creature they call Asung Takat. It has been ravaging their encampments for a little over a week, and the gnolls have had no success in finding a way to kill it. They claim it came from the ground itself, and is working its way south through their lands and towards Deadgoblin.

The PCs are eager to help, and even the xenophobic Halfar agrees, saying the creature should be killed while the casualties are still being taken from the gnoll tribes (saying this aloud in front of the gnolls causes Terjon to flinch visibly, and some murmur can be heard among the gnolls). However, Halfar refuses them to bring any soldiers, in case the whole scheme is a distraction to draw forces out before a gnoll attack.

The gnolls ask the PCs to follow them to their village. They refuse, proposing that they instead meet on neutral ground. They all agree to meet with chief Arakashoko by a great landmark called the Moonstone, in one day's time.


While the other packs the necessary equipment and supplies, Aran takes the shape of a bird and flies into the woods. He makes his way to the great tree where Kutyak took him to perform the ritual of oak, ash and thorn, to look for Bitriel, the leader of the forests druids. He leaves his dog Garm in the care of the other PCs.

He finds her after much wandering around and a few divinations. She has little light to shed on the subject of Asung Takat, whatever he may be, but promises the help of the druids should the creature make its way south to Deadgoblin. Aran says goodbye and curls up beneath a big oak to sleep. (while the player comments sourly on the druids lack of knowledge about eldritch abominations)


In the meantime, the rest of the group marches north along the forests edge, towards the moonstone. The party made a point out of trying to get to the meet before the gnolls, in case it all turns out to be a trick. They reach it at dawn, a perfectly round, white boulder protruding out of the ground on top of a small raise in the terrain. They examine the landscape for possible hiding places and ambush spots, and make a camp when they feel good enough about their chances should the gnolls attack.

A few hours later, they see a group march towards them through the rain, eight gnolls and a big, black bear. The group consists of the same five gnolls that spoke to them in Deadgoblin, plus an old, wretched gnoll accompanied by two more, and his animal companion. (Most of the tribal leaders in the campaign are barbarians, druids or clerics).

The party has no reservation against helping the gnolls, and so negotiations go fairly quickly. Apparently the PCs want to build good relations with the gnolls, or something. Arakashoko tells them that Asung Takat came from a huge chasm in the earth, a long way to the north. He explains that he has brought a survivor of one of Asung Takats attacks, and pushed a maimed gnoll towards the PCs. He has been patched up with the most primitive of medical techniques, but refuses healing magic when Terjon offers.

He describes the attack as quick and sudden. A giant of purple stone with black hands pounced his hunting party and slew one of them before the others could react. It then sprayed black blood from the rune on its face, drenching another gnoll and making him attack his comrades. The beast tore through the group while it turned on itself. The surviving gnoll was hit by a massive fist, and awoke hours later in between the corpses of his friends.

By now, Terjon has heard enough to identify the creature as one of the Rogue Eidolons, divinely constructed guardians of temples and holy sites, turned mad by time and the perversion of their beliefs. The party takes a time-out and exchange wild speculation about its origins and affiliations.

They agree to take a stab at Asung Takat, making the gnolls visibly less tense. Forced pleasantries are exchanged, and Arakashoko takes off, leaving the five original gnolls standing uneasy beside the PCs.


Log sends his familiar, a great tit, to scout the plains looking for the Asung Takat, and the party gets comfortable and waits for her to return. Hours later, she returns from the northeast. She has seen a giant purple creature wandering south from the wreckage of a gnoll camp. The party immediately break camp and set off.

After trudging long and hard through the mud, they reach a large patch of boulders, and the gnolls tell them the ruined camp is getting close. They decide this will be a good place to fight Asung Takat. Log goes off alone to look for the beast, to try and draw it back to the group. He searches the rocky terrain with the help of his bird, and suddenly Asung Takat is upon him. It looks like a statue more than twice his height, long and gaunt, with purple skin and black hands, as described. Its surface is rough from erosion, and where its face should be is a rune that bleeds black.

He runs back between the boulders, just in time to avoid being torn in half. It follows right on his heels, until he manages to maneuver into hiding and flee to a greater distance. He proceeds to shoot a few arrows at it now and then to draw its attention, and draws it slowly towards the groups ambush position.


Log comes running towards the group with the beast hot on his tail. Cromweld throws a fireball from hiding, and it leaps behind a boulder. The gnolls move forward alongside Garm, and Aran start summoning bears, but Asung Takat is nowhere to be seen. Terjon moves to higher ground and sees it lurking out of view from the rest of the group, ready to jump the gnolls. He yells for Cromweld to toss more fireballs in its general direction.Asung Takat rises into view and spews a torrent of black liquid at the gnolls. They start fighting among themselves, but Terjon remedies the situation with a magic circle against evil. Log then enlarges one of the gnolls, doubling its size and forever assuring its role as the leader of the group.

The gnolls keep poking at Asung Takat with their spears, while it tears them down one at a time. Log shoots arrows, Tejron keeps buffing people, Aran produces and buffs a few more animals and Cromweld creeps closer to attack with his more precise spells. He floods its face with a burning hands spell, and for the first time Asung Takat catches a glimpse of the little creep. It screeches and lounges backwards, taking droves of opportunity attacks while it runs panicked between the boulders. The party pursues, and after being hit by arrows and fireballs and rabid wolves, Asung Takat crumbles to the ground. (its spirit fled in the nick of time to inhabit a new body, but the party didn’t know that)


Terjon uses what magic he has left to heal the surviving gnolls, gathering puzzled looks from gnolls and PCs alike. The gnolls bow before the party, and scuttles off home, their mission accomplished.

With Garms help, Aran finds a dry spot under an overhang. The rest of the party wants to press on to check out the hole Asung Takat came from, but Aran refuses. He says they are in no shape to handle whatever may be lurking inside, and when they try convincing him to at least have a look, he scowls and lays down to sleep.

End of session. Also level up for everyone but Cromweld

Note: It may seem like the party simply decided to ambush Asung Takat and then did so shortly after. The fact of the matter is that they spent several hours and many die rolls looking for it, and then discussed both in and out of character how to proceed for half an hour more. Log drawing it out was resolved as a combat situation, with the rounds drawn out to represent several minutes each.

This particular group simply enjoy planning a battle as much as actual combat, and I prefer to let them use their time accordingly instead of on even more fighting.

tirsdag 27. juli 2010

SAGE response

Response to this.

Original request: I'd like to request a small complex of a few rooms featuring a unique and interesting encounter and/or dungeon fixture, i.e. something weird. The encounter itself could require any combination of puzzle-solving, diplomacy, et cetera. The encounter should be unusual enough to inspire curiosity and challenge the players enough to hold their interest.

Ok, what I’m reading is a small part of a dungeon where something interesting happens. I’ll try my darnest.


The following is a small prison (or small part of a prison that has somehow been displaced) for containing elemental creatures of earth, such as mephitis, xorns and gargoyles. There is a spell on the prison that keeps all such creatures in hibernation, and to get further the PCs have to break the spell and get the key from the jailor.

The characters enter a hallway covered in smoke. It has a high ceiling, and it is hard to see anything but smoke overhead. At the end the hallway opens into a room. There are cells set in the wall on the left, and a door on the back wall. Inside the cells lie sleeping earth mephits, and a huge gargoyle with closed eyes is carved into the wall next to the door. There is also a hidden door on the right wall.

The door beside the gargoyle leads to a winding corridor with more cells along it, also covered in smoke. Two large cells contains a big xorn and a stone giant, and there are dozens of smaller cells containing mephits, smaller earth elementals and xorns, and thoqqua. The cells containing burrowing creatures have walls strengthened with metal. All of the inmates are sleeping, and the bars to the cells are magically locked. The players could get through the locks with anti magic or exceptional strength, but normal lockpicking won’t work unless the rogue in question is a true master.

The last cell is locked but empty, and a rough corridor leads right through it as if some enormous burrowing creature entered through the wall and devoured the prisoner. Just beyond the hallway has collapsed, likely because of the same creature burrowing through. The PCs can see a faint light coming from the burrow through the cell bars, and it should lead to wherever you want the PCs to get next. To get out of the prison the PCs need to open this cell.

The hidden door in the first room can be found by examining a few holes in the wall that continually spew smoke. Behind it is a tiny room so full of smoke that the PCs can barely see. In the middle of the room stands a silver chalice with an emerald inside, which is the source of the smoke. A tiny clockwork creature sits in the corner with a box of emeralds in its lap, and every once in a while it will get up and put another gem in the chalice. The box is marked “sleep” in terran, the language of earth. Beside it sits two other boxes, one marked “dream” which is full of rubies, and one marked “anger” full of sapphires.

The automaton will protest madly of the PCs try to take anything from the room, but will otherwise ignore them. It will flee if attacked, leaving all three boxes and the chalice.

The chalice works like this: If you put a precious stone in it, the stone will slowly dissolve into a smoke which has a certain magical effect on earth based creatures. Emeralds make them sleep, rubies make them hallucinate (treat as insane) and sapphires send them into a violent rage.

If the PCs take the emerald out of the chalice, the smoke will quickly clear out of the prison. The mephitis in the cells will be awake when they exit the room, shouting and pleading the PCs to get them out, and the gargoyle will have open eyes.

It will present itself as the jailor, and ask the players what they are doing in the prison. The jailor is very gullible, and the PCs can easily fool it into believing they have a purpose there. However, it is under strict instructions to escort anyone but guards and inmates out of the prison (the way they came), and if it believes they are prisoners it will take them to a cell. If the PCs convince him they are guards, the jailor will inform them that prisoner number 9(choose an inmate appropriate for their level) is awaiting execution. The jailor will attack if they protest any of its orders.

If they kill the inmate, the jailor will do what they ask within reason, such as lending them the keys to the cells (needed to get out). If they kill the jailor, they can just take the keys, and free whatever inmates they wish. Anyone freed will escape immediately, through the wall if they have the ability.

The prisoners will all be trying to get the PCs attention, but the only one with an actual offer is the stone giant. Should the PCs want to talk to him, he will offer a monetary reward suitable for their level and your DMing style. In return, he asks them to kill the jailor and take the keys to the cells.

The last alternative way to get out of the prison is the chalice. The PCs can make the jailor insane with ruby smoke, leading him to drop the keys or ignore the PCs while they steal it. In the meantime he will attack the walls, talk to the air, hurt himself or do whatever you can think of. Making the prisoners hallucinate makes little difference, other than making the whole place stranger.

If the PCs subject the jailor to sapphire smoke, he will try to kill them unless they have convinced him they are guards. In the latter case, he will unlock the cells and start killing prisoners one at a time until one of them defeats him.

If they subject the prisoners to sapphire smoke they will tear at the bars of their cells until they break, and then go straight for the jailor. They will then escape, unless the PCs have attacked one of them, in which case they’ll jump the PCs.

It’ll be hard to subject only one creature to the smoke at a time, since the smoke spreads rapidly through the prison. Most likely, if the PCs put sapphires in the chalice, the prisoners and the jailor will be at each other very quickly. Regardless, the resulting chaos should be more than enough for the PCs to grab the keys.

If the PCs have any other kinds of gems in their inventories, you can either make up other fun effects, or indicate that the gems found in the prison are special in some way, and made for this purpose.

søndag 11. juli 2010


The oldest and most wretched of the fair folk are the hags.

Female fairies mature into hags if they survive past a certain age, usually 100 years. Because of the long lives they have to lead to become hags, most fairies have multiple class levels when they reach this age.

Goblins, pixies, dryads and grigs age to become witches of the woods called green hags. The green hag is wise and cruel, and possesses much knowledge of things that should not be known. They live in deep forests and on secluded hilltops, scheming against the civilized folk and contemplating vile magic.

Nymphs and nixies are fey of unearthly beauty closely linked to the water, often a specific lake or pond. They are incredibly vain creatures, and as they age and their beauty begins to fade, many of them lose their minds to despair and shame. Embarrassed by their appearance, they flee to the water and hide from prying eyes. As they grow old beneath the surface, fish gnaw at their bodies and water seeps into their skin. They transform into hideous crones, so awful to behold that those who do see them become physically ill. These are the least powerful of the hags. They waste their youth playing, dancing and fornicating, and seclude themselves in despair when they become older instead of searching for power.

The few ogre and troll women who live to old age become annis’. The annis is a sadistic predator, taking even greater enjoyment in the suffering of others than their younger counterparts. While the fair folk can digest almost anything and survive on very little food, the annis like to gorge themselves on raw meat and prefer eating the flesh of intelligent beings. Despite their eating habits, annis invariably look thin and famished, and get thinner with age. Exceptionally old annis often resemble undead humanoids.

The oldest and most powerful of the fair folk sometimes enter into dangerous pacts with evil spirits and become night hags. Feared even by other fairies, these creatures live to corrupt the souls of both the living and the dead. They enjoy the emotions inspired by bad dreams, and delight in causing them by riding on the backs of sleeping men. The night hags are the only ones of the fair folk who are not actually mortal, and they never die of old age. Most night hags move on to other worlds when they tire of the prime, others are destroyed by the same forces that gave them their power.

Male fairies almost never survive this long, but the rare few who do undergo similar transformations. For example, while practically all ogres are killed by accidents, humans or other ogres, some possess the wits to stay alive and rise to become ogre mages.

fredag 9. juli 2010

More about faries


The goblins are probably the fairies best known to the common folk. They are mischievous parasites, stealing everything they need and causing misfortune by making pranks on the lowly humans. They usually live close to villages and farms. Goblins rarely kill humans, since they are their biggest source of food and entertainment. Sometimes, a goblin family can live next to a farm unnoticed for a long time, their actions being attributed to animals, failing crops and bad luck.

Ogres & trolls:

Ogres are big, hulking brutes populating forests and hills, and are rarely encountered in civilized areas. They roam the countryside hunting for game, and can eat enormous amounts of meat in a day. They do eat humanoids when given the chance, and when they encounter travelers they enjoy toying with them before attacking. Ogres are very competitive, and potential prey can escape by staking their life on a game.

The trolls are territorial creatures, and often make their homes in caves and rivers. They loathe letting anyone into their territory, but are cowardly creatures and will not attack anything they think can defeat them. If the troll encounters anyone smaller than itself near its home, it will try to bully the intruder to leave, and attack when threats fail. On the rare occasion it meets something as big as itself, it will hide or flee.

Both trolls and ogres are as stupid as they are big, and the easiest way to survive an encounter is to use wits. Clever travelers have been known to trick ogres and trolls into fleeing in fear, disemboweling themselves and waiting to attack until a worthy opponent arrives (Don't eat me, i'm way too small to fill your belly. My brother'll be by soon, and hes real big!).


The fey are beautiful and carefree fairies that rarely leave the woodlands. They enjoy feasting, dancing and making love, and almost never do anything of use to themselves or others. Fey enjoy making pranks on travelers who enter their woods, and what they consider good fun can often turn out deadly for the victim.

Grigs resemble a cross between elves and crickets, and like to steal from travelers. They choose what to steal almost arbitrarily, and often discard the loot after playing with it for a short time. This can still be annoying to the victim, and many people who run across a grig have had the misfortune of walking home through the woods without shoes or sleeping in the cold because it stole their flint and steel.

Pixies often follow travelers for long periods of time, sabotaging their efforts to survive. Someone pestered by a pixie might find worms in their rations, having their firewood covered in water when they turn their back or drawing their bow to find the string has been cut.

Dryads are fairies closely linked to the trees, and like to make travelers lose their way. By planting false clues and changing the terrain they can lead a victim in circles for days, until it is completely lost and can only rely on luck to make it home. Most starve to death long before they can find their way out of the woods.

Nymphs and nixies are comely fairies who like to tempt male travelers. They allow the victim short glimpses to pique their interest and lead them away from the road and deep into the forest. Nixies trick their victims into marshes or ponds, and let them drown. Nymphs more often kidnap their prey, and keep them as slaves and pets for their own amusement. They usually strangle the victim when they grow bored of it, but a slave who manages to keep a nymph happy for as long as a year is granted freedom, and sometimes a boon if the slave has proven exceptionally entertaining.

torsdag 8. juli 2010


Like many other DMs, I have fun fleshing out the fluff from the sourcebooks. This is ecpecially true for monsters, and I find it much easier to change them by altering the fluff than the stats. Since most monsters of the Manual are only granted a page or so of text, often including a picture, this leaves a lot to the imagination, and most monsters I can make my own without subtracting much.

I have always had a soft spot for old stories about fairies, trolls and witches, the evil forest dwellers that lead travelers astray, eat the flesh of innocents and steal human babies to replace with their own. The Monster Manual contains nothing that fits this description very well, and so I can’t include anything like this in a game without making a lot up myself. However, I kind of envision using old fairy tales as the basis for a campaign one day, so let’s see what can be done.

I’m creating a people/faction/society only using creatures from the Monster Manual. I might unearth a lot of good material sifting through obscure supplements for cool woodland creatures, but that’s more work than I plan to do before I even know whether it’ll ever be used.

Looking through the Manual, I found some fitting culprits.

The fey are obviously close, but I dislike the idea of them all looking pretty. Some fey should just be plain ugly.

Goblins could fit the bill, but the book only describes them as mischievous little buggers, without adding much more detail. Furthermore, using only one species would make the players bored fast, even if they have pets and class levels and all that.

Hags are always cool, but witches are only a small part of the fauna I’m imagining.

Trolls could also fit, but again, one species is not enough. Also, they are way too powerful if I’m going to start giving them character levels.

I decided to combine all of the above, and add a few more to the list for variety. I’ll name them the fair folk, or the fairies. There are other names that might sound cooler, like the goblins or the troll folk, but these are already names of existing Monster Manual creatures, which might lead to some confusion.

Types of fairy: Dryad, grig, nixie, nymph, pixie, ogre, ogre mage, troll, goblin, annis, green hag, sea hag, barghest, night hag. These are all one big family of creatures that can breed amongst themselves, and are all probably descended from the same species. In many ways the fair folk resemble the jotun of Norse mythology, with their seemingly endless variety of forms despite being closely related.

I will not change any stats until I deem it necessary. I do, however change all their alignments to “usually chaotic evil”. All fairies speak sylvan, and some learn the languages of the people they prey upon.

I’ll add descriptions of different kinds of fairies later, as well as how they relate to each other.

søndag 4. juli 2010

Oh my!

I made a blogger profile so I could follow other blogs and comment on interesting posts, and to my surprise the site automatically started a blog for me. I guess I'll use it as a general idea dump, and a place to ask advice from other GMs.

I have played DnD 3.x since i was 12, but recently started DMing my first campaign. I DM a group of both experienced and brand new players, and as a new DM I often have problems with how to meet their vastly different needs. Still, they seem to have fun.

I live in Norway, so bear with me if the english is less than 100%.