Thursday, October 12, 2017

Session XCIII: One Pissed Off Dragon!

Our ongoing Swords and Wizardry sandbox campaign...

Current Player Characters:
Thenus (Ranger)
Wang Du (Monk)
Wolfheir (Viking)
Arg (Half-orc)
Sir Gwain (Paladin) 
Su (Cleric) 
Grop (Kobold Wizard)
Tadashi (samurai)
NPC
Koshan (Ogre-mage)
 After having infiltrated Agatheron's lair and defeating his army of Fire Giants, wounded and weary, the party made their way back to the village of the Firbolgs.  
With the power of Mithra, Su brought Wang Du back from the dead.  Through his travels in the Realm of Death, Wang returned more powerful than before to face his destiny with Agatheron.
Resting and recuperating in their hidden village of stone, the party began to make plans for their final assault on the Ancient Dragon. Some, such as Thenus, even questioned why they should risk their necks in the first place.
Lord Boomish, who fought Agatheron along with Baron Blackmoore many years ago, died from his wounds and old age. The Boomish family shield was given to Sir Gwain.
However, on the third evening, a fierce rumbling was heard throughout the canyon and the Flaming Pass.  In the skies above the mountains, a sight not seen for nearly 80 years; the fearsome and massive Ancient Red Dragon, Agatheron, flew off in a fit of burning rage heading to the foothills and the village of Litafjord.  From a distance they saw the the dragon raze the village to the ground, undoubtedly killing the remaining innkeeper and his dwarven wife.

With a bone-chilling and wrathful roar echoing in the mountain canyons, they saw Agatheron rise in the air and fly south towards Berkenstoke and Blackmoore... 
There was much debate as to whether take advantage of the Dragon being gone to plunder his treasure and set a trap or to continue healing.  Arg and Sir Gwain were persuasive and the party departed for the fortress once again, leaving the recovering McDagger, Biggs and Lothar behind.
Once again at the entrance, they saw it was guarded by a Fire-giant and his Hell Hound.  Without waiting, Sir Gwain rushed out and charged the Giant who let loose his beast.  Thenus fired arrows at the giant and wounded him as Arg, Wolf and Sir Gwain hacked first through the Hound and then the Giant.  

Entering the hall once again, they were soon surprised by two more Fire-Giants hiding in alcoves and firing Balistas.  The party splits and attacked their foes. Arg, Wang and Wolf attacked one giant while Sir Gwain and the rest of the party attacked the other. 

After the battle, there were two more dead Fire Giants and some wounded party members.  

It was decided to explore the rest of the alcoves in the great hall and then hunker-down to rest through the night to recover from their wounds. 

The next morning, as healing spells were cast, they heard a rushing of wind and a fierce and angry roar.  Fearing the Dragon's return, Grop turned Wang invisible and the Monk stepped out into the Great Hall.  The rest of the party thought it best to make a run for it across the hall to the opposite alcove and a hidden door.

As the party ran through the hall, the great winds were felt and heard when suddenly, the invisible dragon appeared and tried to bite the invisible Wang who successfully dodged the attack.

With the dragon present, the party went into action.  Su blasted a Cone of Frost at the dragon, wounding it as well as Wang Du who was in the line of fire. Thenus fired off her arrows and Sir Gwain, Arg and Wolf charged the ancient Red Dragon.  Koshan tossed the last Eye of Hithata which transformed into a Beholder!

Turning toward the party, Agatheron bellowed, "You have thwarted my plans in the valley and killed my army of Giants. Now I will kill all of you!" Taking a deep breath, the Red Dragon let loose a ball of flame!  

Su and Grop disintegrate into ash!
Wolf was singed but is still alive.

Sir Gwain ducked behind the Shield of Lord Boomish and survives unscathed.

Koshan and the Beholder burst into flame and die.

Thenus survived but is near death.

Wang attacked the Dragon, drawing his attention back to the Monk.  The dragon tried to claw Wang but the Monk quickly dodged the attack.

Turning back towards the party, the Agatheron attacked the rushing party with his Breath of Fire, wounding Sir Gwain and killing Arg, Thenus and the valiant Wolfheir.

With only Sir Gwain and Wang Du left and near death, they fought with sword, shield and fist against the Dragon's claw and tooth.  With a mighty blow to the dragon's neck and the mystical flying kick, Agatheron, the Ancient Red Dragon died with not so much a roar but a whimper.

With the loss of all their companions, through many adventures, Sir Gwain and Wang Du stood victorious over their greatest foe!

EPILOGUE

With the Ancient Red Dragon, Agatheron vanquished, and all their companions dead, Sir Gwain and Wang Du wearily marched back to the Firbolg's village.

Met by the recovering McDagger and Lothar, Sir Gwain and Wang Du related their final battle with the Fire Giants and the Dragon.

After their full recovery, the remaining party members along with the Firbolgs explore the abandoned fortress in search of the fabled treasure hoard of Agatheron.  Eventually it is found and it is, indeed, beyond imagination.  This long chamber is filled from end to end with unimaginable wealth. Gold is piled knee-high and speckled with jewels, weapons and artifacts of ages past - truly a dragon's hoard.

With the help of the Firbolgs, the treasure is mined out.

Without much need for treasure, the Firbolgs accepted only a small portion, preferring to live simply and peacefully in the mountains.

Wang, Sir Gwain and McDagger headed south to the village of Litafjord only to find it a charred ruin including the Keep of Lord Boomish, who was laid to rest near the Firbolg's village.

Abandoning the village and heading south, they came across the the innkeeper of the Craggy Inn and his dwarven wife.  They had left the village when they saw the dragon coming down the mountain and survived his attack.

Wang donated a portion of his treasure to the innkeeper so that they would be able to start anew.

They all travel south to the village of Berkenstoke which was destroyed by in the Dragon's wraith.  The sturdy townsfolk had already begun to rebuild the village and once the news of Agatheron's death spread there was a big celebration in honor of all the heroes that died; Wolfheir the Viking, the priest of Mithra - Su, Grop the mighty wizard, Todashi the samurai, Thenus the ranger, and Arg.

Sir Gwain and Wang donated gold to the rebuilding of  Berkenstoke and headed west to Blackmoore, which was also in ruin.

As donations and rebuilding began there as well, Sir Gwain and Wang said their farewells for now and chose separate paths to travel with the hopes that some day their paths may cross again.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Session XCII: The Half-orc and the Fire Giant

Our ongoing Swords and Wizardry sandbox campaign...

Current Player Characters:
Thenus (Ranger)
Wang Du (Monk)
Wolfheir (Viking)
Arg (Half-orc)
Sir Gwain (Paladin) 
Su (Cleric) 
Grop (Kobold Wizard)
Tadashi (samurai)

NPC's
McDagger (thief)
Biggs (fighter)
Koshan (Ogre Magi)
Lothar (Firblog)
Lord Boomish 
Having miraculously defeated a large onslaught of Fire Giants, the beleaguered party began to explore the grand hall. Arg, Lothar of the hill people and Grop examine the massive obsidian alter and the magic circle holding a burning Fire Elemental.  Grop dispelled the Elemental back to it's plane and Lothar read the inscription on the alter.  But the respite is short lived as a massive Fire Giant in flaming armor and carrying a flaming sword burst out from behind another of the curtained alcoves.  The party and the Giant charge each other and a bloody battle takes place.  The Giant chief falls!

Grop detects that the armor, sword and the giant's two rings are magical along with the Fire Giant's obsidian alter.  But as they decide what to do with all this, the Giant's wounds begin to heal and he begins to rise once again.  Sir Gwain draws his Frost Blade and beheads the giant.  Arg takes the flaming sword for himself and the Giant's rings are split among the party, which they wear as crowns or armbands.

As they loot the corpse, yet another Fire Giant poked his head out from another curtained alcove and shouted in shock at the site of his dead companions and Chief.  He rushed back behind the curtain.

Fearing another attack from the Fire Giants and naturally concerned over their weakened state, the party decided it best to try to hide and recover.  They sought shelter behind the curtain of the Giant Chief but only find a dead-end.  A search for secret doors turned up nothing.  
Suddenly, they heard angry shouting coming from the main hall.  Arg peeked out from behind the curtain and  saw that the Fire Giants are arguing among themselves and that the two strongest began to fight each other for the right to be chief.  Letting the fight play out, the party watches as one of the giants is defeated and the other claims chief.

Arg decided to go out and challenge the new Fire Giant chief.  He stepped out with the flaming sword and the rest of the party follows, walking in a uniform line across the hall towards the giants.  Arg challenges the new Chief to a one-on-one duel for the ownership of the Giant's Flaming Sword.  The challenge is accepted and the party and Fire Giants circle around the the two combatants.  Thenus slips Arg a gourd of speed to aid in his combat and the battle in engaged.  Arg matches the Fire Giant blow for blow, both wounding each other but both not giving in.  Suddenly, the flaming sword flies from Arg's grip and is picked up by another giant.  Grop casts a web around that giant with angers the other Giant onlookers who start to push and attack the party.  Sir Gwain tosses his Ice Blade to Arg who caught it and then cut the leg off of the giant and then beheaded the mortally wounded creature!  In a rage the rest of the Fire Giants attack.  In the battle, Wang fell, mangled and dead, but not before he stunned one of the Giants which was quickly dispatched.  Biggs also fell. With everyone near death, the nearly finished party with one last effort dispatched the remaining Fire Giants.  They are once again victorious! 

In no shape for another battle, the party gathers their wounded and exits the fortress and heads back to the hidden village of the Firbolgs....

Monday, September 11, 2017

Session XCI: Fire Giants!

Our ongoing Swords and Wizardry sandbox campaign...

Current Player Characters:
Thenus (Ranger)
Wang Du (Monk)
Centari (Elf)
Wolfheir (Viking)
Arg (Half-orc)
Sir Gwain (Paladin) 
Su (Cleric) 
Gorp (Kobold Wizard)
Tadashi (samurai)

NPC's
McDagger (thief)
Biggs (fighter)
Koshan (Ogre Magi)
Lothar (Firblog)
Lord Boomish

With McDagger invisible and tiny Gorp just inside the giant iron doors to the entrance of the ancient dragon Agatheron's lair, the rest of the party peered in and saw a massive hall almost one thousand feet long.  At the far end were five fire giants.

As they discussed what to do, eventually one of the giants started to head towards the open door.  Hiding on the outside, they prepared to ambush the lone fire giant. When the Giant stuck his head outside the party attacked, but not before he screams out a warning.  The Giant, however, stumbled and the party hacked him to death.

Dragging him out of the doorway, McDagger warned that there are two other giants heading towards the doors.  The party waited for the two Giants outside the doors.  When they stepped out they were also attacked.  McDagger warned that one of the other two Giants at the far end had rushed behind a curtain.

They dispatched the two Giants and enter the grand hall.  Searching behind massive curtains they found a ballista. Lothar rolled it out into the hall as Arg and Wang Du searched the hidden alcoves for more.  They noticeed that Koshan had disappeared by turning himself invisible. 

As they made their way up the hall, a distant alarm sounded and the party prepared for battle with the Giants.

From behind a curtain rushed a number of Fire Giants.  Gorp tried to fry them with a Fireball but the giants only laughed and charged on.  Arg and Wang fired off their ballista as does Lothar damaging two of the giants.  Gorp blastsed them with cold, wounding a number of the Fire Giants.  Finally the two groups engaged in hand to hand combat, Thenus firing damaging arrows to her favored foes.

Meanwhile, a Beholder appeared out of nowhere and shocked the party into fear until they notice that the magical beast started attacking the Fire Giants.

There was one robed Fire Giant that raised a wand by the Beholder turned him into a giant rat.  Koshan, now in his true form as a Ogre Magi, and McDagger attacked the Giant Rat and eventually kill it.

Arg and Wang charged the giants and the fierce battle continued.  Another blast of frost from Koshan defeated some of the Giants and Todashi almost fell to their attacks more than once. Sir Gwain saved him but has trouble fighting the Giants as he keeps dropping his magic sword. 

Suddenly, two Hell Hounds burst from the curtains and attacked McDagger, killing him.

Eventually, the party prevailed over this initial onslaught of Fire Giants. Su raised the dead McDagger who hobbled out of the hall shaken and wounded.

Surely there are more that lie in wait...



Session XC: Knock, Knock, Knocking On The Dragon's Door

Our ongoing Swords and Wizardry sandbox campaign...

Current Player Characters:
Thenus (Ranger)
Wang Du (Monk)
Centari (Elf)
Wolfheir (Viking)
Arg (Half-orc)
Sir Gwain (Paladin) 
Su (Cleric) 
Gorp (Kobold Wizard)
Tadashi (samurai)

NPC's
McDagger (thief)
Biggs (fighter)
Koshan (Magic User)

Having finally exited Hidatha's maze with his enemy Koshan as their new ally, our fearless party once again headed north towards the Grey Mountains and their face-off with Agatheron, the ancient red dragon claiming dominion over the land.

One evening at camp, Thenus shouted out a warning as the ground beneath their feet shook and opened and out crawled a group of Giant Ants.  The party responded and soon dispatched the insects. They resumed their rest and soon also their journey.

Entering the foothills, they saw in the distance the twinkling lights of a small village.  Su knew this village to be Litafjord.  They decided to make for the village and rest there before their final trek into the pass.  Upon entering the village, however, they found it to be mostly deserted save for the Craggy Inn run by the inkeeper and his dwarven wife.

The party learned that everyone had left the village on account of the reemergence of the Dragon and that he had gathered an army of Fire Giants to aid him.  The stubborn Innkeeper had decided to stay along with the village's lord, Lord Boomish.  Thenus recalled having worked for a Lord Boomish a while back in the town of Berkenstok when they recovered the family shield from the Ruins Beneath Xlarthan's Tower (back in session 75). They learned that this Lord is a cousin of the one that they had previously helped.

The next day they met Lord Boomish and he recognized the party as the ones that recovered his family's shield from the ruins beneath Xlarthan's tower.  The shield was used to defeat the dragon with Lord Blackmoore many years ago.  Lord Boomish decided that it is his destiny to face the dragon one last time and will aid the party.

The next day the party, along with Lord Boomish, left the village of Litafjord and head out into the mountains. They soon ran across the corpse of a fire Giant with it's head on a pike. Examining the ground for clues, Thenus discovered a trail leading off the path and into a canyon.  Following the trail, the party soon got the feeling that they were being watched. Arg shouted out their hatred for the Fire Giants and soon after, a Firbolg steped out.  The party befriended the giant hill people and were welcomed into their village.

They learned that the Firbolg's have been attacking their enemies, the Fire Giants, every chance they could.  The Firbolgs will not attack the Giants directly as the Fire Giants are too strong and are using hit and run tactics to weaken their enemies. The Firbolgs decided to help the party and will lead them to the entrance of the Dragon and his army.  One Firbolg, Lothar, volunteered to join the party and help infiltrate the Dragon's lair in search of his missing brother that was captured by the Fire Giants.

Lothar lead the party through the canyons and into the mountains and one evening they are standing before a pair of massive iron doors.  The great doors, outlined with a glowing dragon are discovered to by barred from the other side. Su turned McDagger invisible and uses his magic to unbar the door.  Arg and Wolf pushed the iron door open just a crack and Su and McDagger slip inside. The rest of the party peered in and saw and expansive long hall lit by torches made of trees.  At the far end were a number of Fire Giants....

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Session LXXXIX: Emerson, Frank and Tor

Continuing our ongoing Swords and Wizardry sandbox campaign...

Current Player Characters:
Thenus (Ranger)
Wang Du (Monk)
Centari (Elf)
Wolfheir (Viking)
Arg (Half-orc)
Sir Gwain (Paladin) 
Su (Cleric) 
Gorp (Kobold Wizard)
Todashi (samurai)

NPC's
McDagger (thief)
Biggs (fighter)
Emerson (bard)


Having found the green portal which they believed to be the exit, Sir Gwain lead the way to confirm that this was indeed true.

Back at the main entrance, they passed through the portal once again and began to retrace their steps, heading deeper into the labyrinth.

Down a passage that they had not explored they found an up sloping passage with a door at the end painted with a rams head.  The door was stuck and McDagger failed to open the door. Sir Gwain pulled the door open. Suddenly, a heavy cart with an iron rams head sprung from the closet beyond, rolling over and crushing members of the party.

Emerson the bard was gravely wounded and was screaming in shock and terror when he discovered that his hand, with which he performs upon his lute, has been shattered.  He pleaded with Su to heal him but Su had already healed the near death McDagger.  Su handed Emerson a clear potion that they had previously found in the wizard's chamber.  Emerson quickly downed the potion but immediately died from it's poisonous contents.

Leaving the body of the bard behind, they continued winding their way though the maze. Sir Gwain narrowly avoided falling into a pit trap in which an entire 40' section of the hallway teetered open.  After wedging spikes into the pivoting floor, they carefully made their way across.

They passed though the Hallway of Water once again and headed down a new passage.  Turning some corners they found themselves in front of a locked door.  McDagger picked the lock but failed to discover that the door was trapped and the thief was nearly killed again as the ceiling fell in on him. After recovering the thief, they found that the door only opened to a blank wall!

Continuing down the main passage and through a curtain,  they were attacked by two scorpions which Arg and Sir Gwain quickly dispatch.

They came across another door, but this time Arg was smart enough to trigger the arrow trap from a distance. This door turned out to be false as well.

Through some more curtained hallways they found another pool with a copper statue at the far end.  Arg leaped across to the statue and discovered two keyholes.  Using the keys he had found earlier, a small copper box rose out of the platform.  Upon opening it, Arg was electrocuted to near death!  Inside the box, however, he found a small black sphere.

Heading down another passage while consulting their map, they discover that the map appeared to be mostly complete except for a center portion.  It is in this space that they determine the prisoner they were sent in to dispatch must be. However, they decided to head back to the surface to rest and recover for a few days.

Once on the surface, though, the kids that had befriended them and wished to join their quest questioned the party about what happened to their friend Frank. Stretching the truth, Arg said that he died bravely fighting Minotaurs.  The kids were sad but asked why they left his body down in the dungeon. Arg responded with... something less than comforting.

After a couple of days rest, they headed back into the depths with the aspiring adventurers in tow, retracing their steps from the entrance.  They recovered Franks body, who had died from a deadly portal accident, and Emerson's body, who died from a deadly potion accident, and carried them up to the beach room.  There they buried the bodies with their companion Tor the dwarf who had died from a deadly Ettin accident.

They headed to one final arched opening that they had failed to explore and discovered stairs leading down. The stairs passed a landing with an iron statue of a bear but they found nothing odd about it.  The stairs wound down to a door which also proved to be false, but opening the door had brought the Iron Bear to life.  Arg, Wolf, Sir Gwain and Thenus charged the Iron Bear and fought it at the top of the stairs.

Having seemingly explored the entire maze, they headed back to one suspicious wall, and upon careful examination, discovered three small holes about the size of the discovered sphere.

After much debate about which hole to drop the sphere into, Wolf and Sir Gwain inserted the sphere into the first hole while the others stood back. A trapdoor opened and dropped the two into a pit of spikes.  The sphere rolled out of a slot at the base of the wall.

The companions were rescued from the pit and with the sphere in hand, tried another hole.

Wolf reached over and dropped the sphere into the third hole and was sliced by a bladed pendulum that dropped from the ceiling.

With one hole left to put the sphere, they finally opened the magic door and entered into a larger round chamber with a circular formation of pillared stone. Inside the stones, a forcewall distorted the image of a prisoner.  It was Koshan, who has been imprisoned by Hithata!

Would you trust this guy if he told you to go into a maze?
Talking with their prize, Koshan learned that Hithata had sent the party to kill him for taking the old wizard's eyes. Koshan told the party that he was a pupil of Hithata but that the wizard had grown corrupt and had destroyed Koshan's entire village. In vengence, Koshan confronted Hithata and had stolen his eyes. In a final desperate effort, Hithata imprisoned Koshan in his maze.

Koshan offered to aid the party if they set him free.  Thenus, who was quite angry for being sent by Hithata into his deadly maze was all for siding with Koshan.  However, it was the samarui Todashi who determined that Koshan is indeed telling the truth. Wang pulled the lever to remove the forcewall and Koshan was free.

With a new ally, they gathered their loot and left the maze to hunt down Hithata who was nowhere to be found.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Session LXXXVIII: Two Ettins Too Many

Our ongoing Swords and Wizardry sandbox campaign...

Current Player Characters:
Torvin Fulvousmith (Dwarf)
Thenus (Ranger)
Wang Du (Monk)
Centari (Elf)
Wolfheir (Viking)
Arg (Half-orc)
Sir Gwain (Paladin) 
Su (Cleric) 
Gorp (Kobold Wizard)
Tadashi (samurai)
NPC's
McDagger (thief)
Biggs (fighter)
Emerson (bard)

After briefly resting in the chamber with the slain lions, Arg recovered some of the feline "trophies" and the party continued their exploration of the maze in search of the wizard Hitatha's prisoner.

They entered a passageway which lead to a large magically lit cavern covered in sand, it's walls painted to look like a sky and tropical beach. There was even a pool of water at the far end with a row boat on shore.  Immediately wary of this scene the party was cautious. Arg and Sir Gwain walked deeper into the room and Arg tossed a lion's head into the water. Midway into the room two Giant Exoskeleton Crabs rose from the sand and attacked the brave explorers. After a brief battle, the party defeated the magical crabs but found nothing of value in the room.

Leaving that chamber they entered some caves and came across two Ettins!  It was a fierce battle and the party was badly beaten, with even the invincible Arg being knocked unconscious.  Towards the very end of the skirmish, Torvin Fulvousmith, the brave dwarf, fell.   With the Ettins finally defeated, Su attempted to bring the dwarf back from the dead but failed. After looting his belongings, the party buried the dwarf in the beach room and rested for the day.

Because of their delay, Wolfheir and the bard Emerson entered the maze in search of their companions which they run into in a hallway.

Through a previously discovered secret door, the party traveled deeper to the center of the maze and came across a wall of water near a shelf on which were pills and a sign that said "eat me".  The brave Sir Gwain swallowed a pill. Immediately, gills sprouted from his neck and it becomes difficult for him to breath air.  He lunged into the wall of water and was quickly attacked by three Giant Electric Eels.  Arg swallowed a pill and dove in to aid the knight.  With the Eels defeated, the two discovered a chest inside of which were two crystal eyes.

It was discovered that the waterway shortly lead to another dry junction and the rest of the party walked through the water to the other side. 

Heading south they found the passage blocked by an open room filled with water. In the corners were two statues of fish with copper chains hanging from their mouth which copper keys were attached.  In the pool were a number of large fish.  Not taking any chances, Arg speared all the fish and McDagger swam to each of the statues and obtained the keys. 

With the keys in hand, they backtracked to the dead-end hallway carved with a human skull with empty eye-sockets.  Inserting the crystal eyes into the skull they opened a secret door.  Through some long passageways they eventually came to a locked door. McDagger unlocked the door and the party entered into Hitatha's former chamber.  Here, they recovered some potions and the wizard's spellbook and piles of gold, silver and gems inside a locked chest which McDagger was able to open.

Leaving the room, the party eventually found a deep circular chamber with a green portal, similar to the entrance of the maze. Though they had not yet found their goal, they had found the way back out!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Session LXXXVII: Seriously, There Are No Minotaurs In The Maze

At long last, continuing our ongoing Swords and Wizardry sandbox campaign...

Current Player Characters:
Torvin Fulvousmith (Dwarf)
Thenus (Ranger)
Wang Du (Monk)
Centari (Elf)
Wolfheir (Viking)
Arg (Half-orc)
Sir Gwain (Paladin) 
Su (Cleric) 
Gorp (Kobold Wizard)
NPC's
McDagger 
Biggs


T'was last autumn when the party hunkered down in the village of Larm for the winter to prepare for the assault on Agathareon the ancient Red Dragon. Agathareon was defeated decades ago by Baron Blackmoore and bowed to his victor to not menace the lands of Eri'an again. But with the murder of Baron Blackmoor by the Little White King (Skwanky, but it was actually Televon dressed as a member of the Black Church - session 59), Agathareon considered the bond broken and began to covet the lands of Eri'an once again. A call went out to find other heroes to expand the ranks with Thenus and Torvin traveling to the east in search of other brave souls (having some wild adventures averting a dwarven army's invasion of a mad duke's village). Then on the night of the mid-winter's Black Sabbath, the Thunderock, home to Agathareon, erupted in fire. The red glow in the Grey mountains was seen even as far south as Larm.

With spring now here and all the heroes gathered together, the journey to Thunderock and Agathareon begins...

Spirits are high as the party left Larm into the wilderness but the first night on the road brought more to the group as four young men wanted to join the party and become famous for helping slay the dragon so as to impress the young ladies back home. Against the better judgement of the party, Chet, Frank, Joe, and Nanzy were brought into the fold, with Torvin giving them some training in fighting.

The third day they came across a Bard named Emerson.  He wanted to follow the exploits of the party's battle with the ancient dragon.

On the fifth day they came across an old blind man outside a hut. When they told him where they were headed, this man, Hithata, offered them a powerful magic item if they could bring back the heart of his rival, Koshan.  Koshan, it seemed, was imprisoned in a maze owned by Hithata during their battles but before he was locked away, he had stolen Hithata's eyes.  Seeking revenge, he wants the party to go into the maze and kill Koshan.

"There's not a Minotaur in this maze, is there?" asks Thenus.
"No, there is not a Minotaur in this maze," answers blind Hithata.

After Hithata had given the party direction and the keys into the maze, they set off of this 'brief' side-quest.

Finding the cave entrance, the party descended down until they came to a locked gate which one of keys opened.  Inside they found a room with two magical portals, one green and one red.  Not trusting the portals and becoming inpatient, Arg picks up Chet and tosses him into the green portal.  He immediately disappears. Testing the red portal proved to be shocking, one by one the party stepped into the green portal.  On the other side, they find that Chet was now dead, a victim of trying to return through the portal the had come from, which now was red also.  

Leaving Chet's body, the party continued deeper into the maze and came across a room with a wall of mist.  Thenus fires an arrow into the mist but it just disappears into the grey fog. Thovin the dwarf marches through the mist with everyone in tow so as not to get lost.  Once on the other side, however, Thovin is attacked by three Minotaur.  The rest of the party come to his aid and, after a brutal battle, finally defeat the monsters.  Thenus becomes quite angry over the fact that Hithata lied to her.

Onward, the come across a magical fountain, the water from which cures their wounds.  They also find a dead-end hallway with a relief carving of a skull with deep set holes for the eye sockets.

Going through a nearby door, the party is magically transported to another part of the maze.

More lost now then ever, they plod through more hallways, triggering a trap that fires a volley of arrows at the wandering group. As they explore, Centari comes across a secret door which leads them back to hallways they had previously explored.  So, they decide to take some other passages and this is when they find a barred chamber with lions on the other side.  However, once the bars are approached, those bars raise up and bars behind the party fall trapping them with the hungry lions.

The quick thinking Centari entangles the ferocious felines in a web spell leaving them simple prey for the party to dispatch....

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Sidequest: The Curse of Xanathon Part 2...

...the actual session summaries

Current Player Characters:
Torvin Fulvousmith (Dwarf)
Thenus (Ranger)
Somebody (Samurai)
McDagger (Thief)
Gorp (Kobold Magic User) 
NPC
Kimbra (Cleric)
Steve (Cleric)
Torvin and Thenus left the main party seeking 'heroes' to aid in their battle against the ancient red dragon Agatheron.  They soon arrived in the town of Rhooma.  However, they found that the town was in despair as the Duke had been handing out bizarre proclamations.  
Heading to the tavern of the Spuming Nooga they discover that the Duke had outlawed ale and wine. While there, the city guards passed by with another proclamation making dwarves illegal. The bartender, who happens to be a dwarf, grumbled to the party about the Duke and about the strange happenings around the barracks.  

So, going to check out the barracks, the party was stopped by a group guards.  Not willing to comply with the guards and with McDagger failing to gain favor with them, a fight breaks out that results in the death of the guards. The party, now wanted by the guards, hid in the slums of Rhooma.

At nightfall, they attempted to break into the barracks finding only limited resistance.  Once inside they found clues that some former pirate captain by the name of Draco had taken charge over control of the guards and is the only one that currently communicates with the Duke and Xanathon, a priest of the chaotic god Cretia.  To put an end to the troublesome guards, Gorp tossed a fireball into the sleeping area of the barracks and kills scores of the guards in a hellish infernal.  With the ensuing chaos, the party escaped and hid out in the slums once again.

The next morning, it is learned that most of the guards killed were innocent towns folk with families.  In disgust, Kimbra leaves the party but the party teams up with Steve, a bit rigid man of faith.  The guards are searching the city, sector by sector, for the perpetrators of the murders.

The party hides out in the temple district as the guards have orders to not go to that area.  There, they break into the temple of Cretia and came face to face with Xanathon, however he is invincible - and nude.  The party gets their asses kicked and Xanathon proved to be immune to all forms of attack (as per the module).  The only escape route was through a giant window which they party dove through with a cinematic crash (as per the module).

Receiving the next clue to defeat Xanathon (from the module) leads them to a Cretian shrine hidden in the mountains.  Here the party had lots of trouble with zealots of Cretia who nearly killed the entire party.  If it wasn't for Torvin the dwarf, fighting on, the party would have faced certain doom!

Having more trouble with a transporting hallway and disguised pits, the party eventually found the caves beneath the temple.  There, they almost fell to a trio of carrion crawlers, but once again were saved by Torvin the dwarf.

Deeper delving produces the crypt and the mummy guarding Xanathon's heart - the Achilles' heel to his invulnerability.

Rushing back to Rhooma to avoid the invading dwarven army, the party confronted Xanathon once again, but he proved crafty. Using his godly magic, the party had to fight poison snakes including a giant one while battling the evil priest.  After a heavy toll, Xanathon was finally made mortal and killed.

It was next on to the castle to free the Duke from the clutches of Xanathon's henchmen Draco and captain of the guard. Another fierce battle ensued which brought the death of McDagger and Gorp, but the evil henchmen were eventually defeated and the Duke freed of the spell and the war with the dwarves averted and dead party members brought back to life and thus ended the The Curse of Xanathon.

This module actually took about 5 sessions to play and that was somewhat even condensed. You can read about the thoughts on the module as written here.

From here we move back to our main campaign storyline....

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sidequest: The Curse of Xanathon Part 1

As I previously mentioned, I was finally able to become a player in a Swords & Wizardry campaign adventure.  These sessions were run by Brian, one of the players in our gaming group that has been going strong since 2009!

Brian ran classic TSR adventure: X-3 Curse of Xanathon!

Like I said, I had a great time playing my thief, McDagger and we all had a lot of laughs with this adventure, as any good group of sessions should have, but the Curse of Xanathon, as an adventure module, has it's 'issues'.

This adventure was written in 1982, around the time adventure modules evolved from a sandbox environment into more of a story-based adventure. Being X-3, you can see the evolution of that through the X series of modules.

X-1, The Isle of Dread (by David Cook and Tom Moldvay) is a crazy open sandbox in a pulp fantasy lost island in the middle of the sea.  It's open ended and the players can determine their own fate by their choices.  There is no real 'plot' or linear story. Just an anything goes fantasy.  It's a classic in it's own right.

X-2, Castle Amber (by Tom Moldvay) was another open ended "fun-house" adventure with a loose plot of the D'Amberville family. It's essentially a classic mega-dungeon crawl.  This one is slightly more rail-roady in that the PCs would be 'trapped' in the castle until they figure out the way to escape.

The Curse of Xanathon (by Douglas Niles) breaks with that free-form openness and railroads the party into 5 plot-points (scenarios) that need to be hit to move the story along. It involves a curse upon the duke of the town of Rhoona and a cult worshiping a chaotic god and an 'invincible' priest and an powerful pirate working in tandem with the priest to control the Duke.  Oh, and a time limit of an invading dwarven army that the Mad Duke pissed off, all this to support the underlying concept of a civil war in the town to weaken it and allow for an invasion from the steeps.  This all sounds like the making of a great fantasy story - and it is, but as an open adventure, it doesn't work very well.

The general problem with 'story' based adventures such as this is always having the critical need for players
to hit the plot-points to move the adventure along. You can't kill the wrong NPC, or stray from the path, or  just blow-up the Duke's castle and be done with it, or what if you don't find the exact key to defeat the evil priest? or just saying, this town is fucked, lets rob the castle and get out of here.  To reveal the 'story' as the author intended, you need to do everything in the way the author needs to you to do it. And for a group that is use to open ended adventures where the stories evolve themselves this was quite rail-roady.  I mean, why should a group of traveling rogues care about this town or this Mad Duke? I guess outlawing ale would do the trick, right?

All that said, we had a good laugh at some of the forced plot points.  Many of the encounters were quite enjoyable and I really loved the dungeon/shrine. This would be a challenging module to run for even veteran DMs but Brian rolled with this adventure with his usual dry humor and twisted charm which leveled this module up from an attempted mysterious drama to a romp that involved fire-balling the barracks.

I guess you can't keep a good party down.

A brief word about the author, Douglas Niles. He was part of the early second group of TSR employees after the initial explosion of the game. He came on board in '82 as a game designer. He ended up writing Top Secret (one of my favorite non-D&D games) and the first three Forgotten Realms novels.  He also wrote the B-5 Horror on the Hill adventure, a less rail-roady adventure which I worked into our campaign way back and was pretty fun. He has some chops but Curse of Xanathon just didn't cut it.  It's obvious he had a story concept in mind that he translated into an adventure module which doesn't quite work as a stand-alone.  I suppose that if you used the town of Rhooma as a starting point for an entire campaign with level 1 characters and then you could slowly build up the story and plot points so that when the characters were powerful enough they could tackle the 'story adventure' organically with the stakes being higher, that probably could work.

More on the actual session recaps coming next.

Another, more thorough, dive into this module over at RetroReview

Friday, May 19, 2017

Adventures in Playing

Yes, your Warlock has been gone for quite a while and it may have seemed that the campaign was on indefinite hold, but lo', it was only an illusion!  We actually continued with Swords & Wizardry but with me, your wonderful warlock, as a player and the DMing duties having been passed on to our long time player Brian.

I needed a break from running sessions and Brian wanted to give DMing a try.  The timing was right for a switch.

When I first got involved in D&D waaaay back in the Holmes Blue Book days, I was the oldest of our group of friends. Being all of 10 years old, 'learning the game' and running things kind of fell to me.  Believe it or not, I rarely was ever a player in a D&D game.  I probably only played a PC no more than three times, only two of which I can truly remember. As we all got a bit older and others could take the reins, we had moved on to other games like Boot Hill, Top Secret, Champions, Traveller, and other board games.  All of that was great fun, but I really never got to experience some good old fantasy role playing.

Even these days, I had played in a very fun play by post game run through the OD&D boards almost 10 years ago now.  That was great as it was classic D&D and my dwarf had some good times. However, it was still a play by post and not a face to face table game.

When I was looking to find a face to face group, I ended up in a D&D 3.5 game.  I really enjoyed being a player but the 'on the track' railroading of the adventure was a real drag, not to mention the two hours + long combat sessions. I longed for the free-form, anything goes old-school style game that I grew up with and wanted to experience as a player.

Getting our current game group together is now history. It is here that I was able to run our classic style campaign.  And with a group of great friends this group has become, we were able to branch off into other RPGs including Savage Worlds, ICONS, White Star (Star Wars), Robotech, all of which I was able to be a player in.  All of that was great but I still never quite had that swords and sorcery fantasy player experience.... until now, when Brian ran his side campaign.

This side campaign, we agreed, was to take place within the current S&W campaign world that we were playing in. Some of the players used their current characters while others created new ones.  All of this was to help build PC to take on the final quest of the main campaign.

Finally being a player was great.  Brain ran a really fun adventure module (which needed a few tweaks, but he did right by those).  I ran a thief named McDagger.  He got himself into plenty of trouble - not at all times by choice!  Brian ran a pretty brutal campaign with a couple near TPKs which were saved by usually one lucky character.  The dungeon adventure had lots of tricks and traps and creatures that caused us all a lot of laughs and headaches. It was a blast to finally be a player in an extended campaign and I can't wait to jump in that side of things again.  I really wished I had summarized those sessions as well, but real life made that harder to do than usual.  I'll do my best to cover a brief summary in the next post or two just to keep the campaign complete.

For now, though, we have moved back to the main campaign this past Monday.  I'll get the session summary for that posted in the next week.

So, for now, thanks Brain and...

GAME ON!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Session LXXXVI: The Road Ends In Larm

Continuing our ongoing Swords and Wizardry sandbox campaign...

Current Player Characters:
Torvin Fulvousmith (Dwarf)
Thenus (Ranger)
Wang Du (Monk)
Centari (Elf)
Wolfheir (Viking)
Arg (Half-orc)
Sir Gwain (Paladin) 
Su (Cleric)
*NOTE that this post contains SPOILERS for the Village of Larm adventure, the Labyrinth Lord module from Soapbox games so precede at your own peril! 
 In pursuit of the wights, the party found themselves in a room with a locked door and a riddle: "Only the will of the gods will help you now".

Not being able to answer the riddle in the hopes of opening the door, the party leaves the temple basements and heads back to Brother Erkmar who is ecstatic to tears when he hears of the success that the party has had in putting to rest the souls of his religious companions.  He is so thrilled that he once again dons his holy armor and accompanies the party back to the temple.  

They made their way back to the basement and the locked door where Brother Erkmar tells Su to cast a spell to his god which is the sacrifice to unlock the door, which Su does.

The door unlocks and beyond they are attacked by a gargoyle which the party easily beats back.

Opening the final door the the crypt they are once again engulfed by black smoke.  Once the smoke clears they see a sarcophagus around which stand four deadly creatures - a SoulSpinner, a Spectral Scavanger, a Spectre, and the renegade wraith.  A fierce battle ensues as the SoulSpinner entangles Su in a web and the Scavanger uses lightening and giant bony hands to erupt from the ground grabbing Arg and Wolf.  Things were looking grim for the party but eventually Wang, Centari and Torvin and Sir Gwain defeat the cursed souls.

With the monsters dispatched, the sarcophagus is opened to reveal the entombed body of the first Abbot, Brother Thorleif.  Brother Erkmar sheds tears of joy as his temple has been cleared of the curse of the evil book.  The party is victorious once again!  The town is grateful and tales are told all though winter of their heroic adventures.

The party settles down for the winter sending out messengers to the east looking for additional brave souls to help them face the vengeful ancient dragon Agatheron... but that is another tale soon to be told...

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