fredag 9. september 2011

Death frost doom

During the summer I ran Death Frost Doom at a con in Oslo. Actually it was at the con bar, and the players were two friends and four drunken strangers who had been too late in joining a midnight session of some game I had never heard of. These guys were fond of narrativistic indie games, and hadn't played anything close to DnD for about ten years. That didn't stop them from jumping right into the spirit of the game from the moment I uttered the word "treasure".

Hats off to Raggi, for making a system easy to comprehend even after the consumption of large amounts of alcohol.

Party: Fat elf, paranoid magic-user, bawdy fighter, thiefish halfling, compassionate specialist and a completely insane cleric.


The party began by searching the entire graveyard and finding the shaft. The the cleric commanded the halfling to enter the shaft, and used magic when he refused. As we all know entering the shaft gains you nothing.

They entered the cabin, and the magic-user started experimenting with the clock. While he was winking in and out of time the rest of the party began stealing everything that wasn't nailed down.

Down in the shrine they started using the mirror to look for cursed items and evil magic. Then the cleric smashed it for being an obviously unholy artifact, but he was smart enough to bless the cursed items before picking them up.

The specialist played the organ, but made his save and didn't kill anyone else. The fighter (I think) understood how to open the sealed door almost immediately, and inflicted d4 damage to himself tearing out one of his own teeth. No one drank the unholy water.

The party destroyed the inkpot before anyone could tattoo themselves. They then spent about an hour in game robbing graves. When they reached the eye of many eyes, the halfling tossed a handful of coins into the well, earning him one point of dexterity and a lot of losses to other abilities. They left all of the doors open and cursed themselves at every opportunity.

In the altar chamber they burned the singing briars, before reading the altar text and trying to sacrifice the poor halfling. He escaped, but when the compulsion left the party and he returned the cleric tried to sacrifice him anyway. Luckily they managed to open the way without any bloodshed.

The halfling tried to kill the cleric, and succeeded with the help of the specialist and the fighter.

At this point the group had learned not to read stuff aloud, so no one threw themselves down the bottomless pit.

Then the dead arose. The magic-user and the fighter escaped through the shaft in the tombs. The specialist refused the vampires offer and died fighting zombies. The elf and the halfling struck a deal, and carried the coffin until they met with the reapers. At that point they realized they were probably about to become accessories to mass murder, changed their minds and died like dogs.

mandag 23. mai 2011

The most complicated hiding place I could think of for a plot item

I had an idea for a puzzle for my lotfp;wfr campaign. A big one, which would take up a lot of a session to figure out, and could easily make the advendure shit if I botched it.

There's a room full of seemingly normal items. A vase full of flowers, a painting on the wall, a grandfather clock etc. In the middle of the room is a portal, leading to a never ending battle.

The goal is to find a magic sword, or some other important item, and the players know that the item is being used by someone on that battlefield. The item has to be desirable enough that the players are willing to wade through a lot of crap to get it.

Finding this one item in a sea of people trying to kill each other is next to impossible, so if the players just decide to wade into the mass of sweaty men and sharp edges, it should be immediately made clear that they're unlikely to find anything before they get killed.

However, the PCs can influence the battle by interracting with the objects in the portal room. Each object has it's own bizarre function, turning the painting sideways, for example, makes the entire battleground turn sideways, and fiddling with the clock affects time in the battle. Picking a dead flower kills off every last soldier, (except the PCs, if any of them should be on the other side of the portal) while picking a fresh one wakes them up again. The fruit bowl stops the fighting and makes the warring factions start feasting to celebrate their newfound friendship.

The players should know a little bit about the battle before encountering the puzzle. Maybe it's a magical reenactment of a historic siege or something. This way they can combine their knowledge with the tools at hand to try and create favorable conditions for exploring particular areas. Or they could have some idea about who owns the item in question, and be able to deduce where that person might be based on what happens.

"Look, someone cut off the trebuchets counterweight. Everyone knows Durgon the Shadow was one of the imperial army's most devious saboteurs. Stop time so we can go investigate."

"But that's beyond the castle walls. We can't climb them, and the gates won't open if we stop the clock."

"Then turn the painting left, I'll walk up the wall, and then down the other side once you turn it right."

I'll have to go over this a few times before using it, but I hope it can provide a nice incentive for the players to let loose and be creative. My biggest worry is that they'll find some easy way to blow through it quickly. I'd hate to have them finish it in fifteen minutes because I overlooked some detail or combination of elements that solves the problem for them.

The way I'm constructing the event is to provide the tools at the PCs disposal, and clearly determine what they do and how they interract if used together. Then I'll draw a map of the battlefield and a rough step by step account of how the battle will go when not meddled with. Then the players can ravage it at their own pleasure.

fredag 8. april 2011

On whining players and drunk driving

John plays a halfling named Horst. Horst is a monk/drunken master, and also half green dragon.

Last session the players assaulted the lair of Worscha the fiend-wyrm and his manticore sons, and enlisted the aid of a tribe of goblins and a flight of dire eagles. The eagles bore the party into aerial battle while the goblins pestered the wyrm with volleys of javelins.

Horst has wanted to open up a monestary for a long time. Being small of stature and tolerant of strange species, he has allways seen goblins as his equals, and the newfound alliance with their tribe opened up the possibility to recruit members for his monestary. He asks Kutyak the goblin chief permission to train three of the tribes strongest young men in the ways of drunken fighting. Kutyak complies, having long known Horst for being a fearsome warrior. Now Horst has his very own order of monks.

Peter plays a druid named Aran. Aran likes to train animals. He has trained the soldiers horses for war, has taught his dog to be a devil on the battlefield, and he now has his eye on the dire eagles. He wants to train them as mounts, and over time build an aerial cavalry to protect the town from it's enemies. But for this he need riders as well as steeds. Horst volunteers his monk order.

We discuss the prospect of eagle riding goblin monks for a little while. Images are conjured of eagles bearing whole regiments of tiny drunkards, dropping them like bombs on their enemies. Of aerial battles versus bat riding skymages, the goblins wrestling the enemy off their steeds or sending the bats tumbling to the ground with stunning fist attacks.

My conclusion is that alcoholic goblins riding birds ten times their size is something I want to see in my game. After an entire evening of hurtful words and whining because I wouldn't resurrect someones character, this is what makes me want to keep DMing.

tirsdag 1. februar 2011

SAGE play report part 2

Part 2 of Temple of the Sunken Moon.

You might have noticed how it took me several months to complete this session report (My lone follower, you know who you are). I realized since writing the last part that writing a sessions worth of roleplaying as a complete narrative is taxing. So taxing, in fact, that I never ever want to do it again. You have to remember a lot of stuff, especially when the game in question was played over half a year ago. You also have to try to emulate the mood of the game, since you cant actually recall each and every action taken and line said.

Instead of trying to remember exaclty what everyone did and said and what order it happened in, I'll provide a brief account of events and jump into excruciating detail whenever something funny or interesting happens.

Quick recap 'cause i know you're too lazy to read the whole first part: The gnolls demean themselves by asking for help defeating Asung Takat, a monster that likes killing their kids and destroying their homes. PCs accept and run around in the mud until they meet the monster, a golem like creature in the shape of a tall, skinny stone man with no face. (one player joked that i was describing myself) They destroy it, but do not know that it is actually a spirit bound to eight stone statues, and only by destroying a statue while the spirit is inhabiting it can they kill the thing for good. Nevertheless, they decide to find out where it came from.


So, party roster (the same really, but I like repetition):

Terjon - human, lvl 3 cleric, lvl 3 church inquisitor, lvl 1 divine oracle (yay 3.5)
Volatile Log - half elf, lvl 3 rogue lvl 4 wizard
Aran Beyron - human, lvl 7 druid
Cromweld hardtwerk - human reincarnated as halfling turned wight, lvl 6 sorcerer

The monk was still absent.

Log sent his familiar, a great tit named D-cup, into the skies to look for a giant sinkhole (if anyone reads this that didn't write the adventure, the link is right there at the top).

She came back several hours later and led the group north, and before they knew it the ground opened up before them. As soon as the first party member descends into the hole, a massive bulette attacks. They slaughter it like a pig, a rather entertaining battle including mountian lions pouncing from above and scorching ray critical hits.

On into the buried temple. This part was really awesome for me, since it was the first time the players were really scared. Which is right and proper. Any small to medium sized creature should be scared shitless of a large construct that manages to out-stealth them. Between secret passageways, doors under the surface of 5' high water and a creature that can switch bodies at will, the players were soon frantic.

The group fought off Asung Takat a few times while making their way throught the temple. They were utterly unable to find the trap doors it was using to ambush them, but found the tunnel in the water and started to put together the pieces. They also spent about an hour examining the murals ans symbols found throughout the temple for clues, going as far as comparing the cults holy symbol with the layout of the temple in case it would reveal the location of hidden passageways in the lines. It didn't. Someone said to move on and they did.

They barricaded themselves inside the room outside of the altar chamber and waited to be besieged. They weren't, making them even more scared. Soon they realized noone would attack them while prepared, and they decided to be less passive. They examined the immediate area for magic, and found a necromancy aura in the next room(the crypt of the priests). This prompted them to go the other way(the altar chamber). They first sent Log in to scout, and he was very nearly mauled to death by one of the eidolons. They had noticed how Asung Takat responded to halflings, so Cromweld was next up.

The undead halfling entered the room, and saw eight pedestals. I think six of them were housing eidolons at this point. I then did a thing where all the eidolons were speaking to him, but only one at a time. They sometimes finished each others sentences. Cromweld managed to maneuver the conversation onto their relationship with halflings, and found out that they served a cult of halfling priests. So he tried to get them to obey him as their leader. Asung Takat was too dumb to understand the difference between a live halfling of the cloth and an undead halfling pyromaniac, but he was still smart enough to ask to see a holy symbol. Cromweld had not been looting anything from the temple yet (thats Log's job) but he remembered a symbol he had seen chiseled around the place, and so he tried drawing it on a piece of paper and presenting it. He was lucky to escape the ensuing beating with his unlife.

Oh, I just remembered something. On their way into the altar chamber there was two doors that could only be opened one at a time. Like an airlock. Someone suggested just smashing the mechanisms so they would both open. The room erupted in spiteful laughter. Back to the story.

Hokay, the PCs barricaded the door into the altar chamber. Then they checked out the room with the necromancy aura. Thats right, the crypt of the priests. The aura was from the gentle repose spells on the clergys corpses, and the anticlimax hung in the air like cigarette smoke. Lots of swag could be found on the corpses of the cult, so everyone was happy. However, instead of leaving the place in the dust like any normal, mostly non-good adventuring party would do the group decided that they have to defeat the eidolons to stop them from terrorizing more of the wilderness' innocent inhabitants (gnolls, goblins, werewolves etc.). Noone picked up on the subtle clues I layed out hinting that only one of them could act at a time, so they thought they were going into battle against six rogue eidolons.

The group decided they needed help, and so Terjon cast lesser planar ally. The call was answered by a hound archon, who agreed to be buffed up and smacked around like a piñata. All he asked is that the PCs leave everything they found in the temple behind. I remember wording that so they only had to leave gold, silver and magic items, not for instance those clay tablets. (right up at the top, folks)

The battle went well, the archon survived some heavy hits and Asung Takat got crushed like last paragraphs allegorical piñata. The group lamented not getting to loot the place. They also found that secret chamber with the clay tablets, easing their pain a little bit. And Aran the druid was turned permanently insane by the ordeal.


My players were very happy with the adventure. It was the kind of gaming session where at the end it is so late people have made peace with not getting to work the next day, but they still want to keep playing since they want to know what comes next. They were pumped enough to keep playing even after the dungeon was finished.

I haven't yet told them that the module wasn't my own creation. I will one day, but the plot hasn't come back to bite them in the ass yet, and some of them read Zaks blog on and off. They know where to look, and I honestly fear they will. It stings a little every time someone pull out "that underground temple with the moon amulets and stuff" as one of my best adventures ever. I try to bring up the Evangeliste, a shipborne intrigue I ran them through in Dark Heresy once and that I'm still very proud of, but someone still likes this one best. I'll tell them, I promise. Just not yet.