Friday, March 23, 2012

Swords and Wizardry White Box City Campaign: Lock, Stock and One Smoking Wand of Paralyzation

We resumed our on an off Swords and Wizardry White Box campaign last night playing as a group of thugs, the Weaselly Ferrets who control a four block area of a really bad neighborhood called the Devil's Breakfast table in the City of Vermistdadt in the Land of Moog.  Our previous explorations had mostly centered on delving in the ruins below the Sikorsky Building (a.k.a. Dyson's Delve) and during our last visit there, the group encountered a pair of Manticores on the third or fourth level and managed to slay them in a couple of tough fights and then found a wand of Paralyzation in one of their treasure hoards (though with limited charges).  However, on occasion, we have been tasked with "missions" by our Ogre boss Big Slick or his boss Oranishi (a.k.a. the Big Boss) which always turn out to be the most comical and entertaining game sessions and last night's session was one such adventure.

So in this episode, the Weasely Ferrets went "over the river" into the Dumfries on a search and destroy mission for our boss Big Slick and the Big Boss Oranishi. The highlight was the balls to the wall play of blasting everyone with the Wand of Paralyzation and the closing scene with Mr Green knee-capping the surviving ogre instead of ganking him so that he could tell the tale of who stole their Dreamweed which was totally something out of Goodfellas.  It was a fun session and without that wand, our plan (or lack thereof) wouldn't have succeeded mostly because we were seriously lacking in the fighter department - our only fighter was Snit the 2nd level halfling henchman and the rest of the player characters consisted of a 3rd level wizard, a 4th level wizard and two 3rd-4th level clerics.  The end result was well worth the price of two charges from the wand though and the story was reminiscent of some tale told about the city of Lankhmar and other heroes and villains in another world far far away...

Here's is a synopsis of events in the seediest, nastiest and meanest streets in all of the land of Moog, the City of Vermisdadt home of that group of rascals and cutthroats known as the Weaselly Ferrets who reside in the seediest and roughest neighborhood in the City of Vermistadt called the Devil's Breakfast Table:

Big Slick our Ogre boss had a job for us - go over to the Dumfries neighborhood (no small feat - five neighborhoods away through rival territory) and the docks accross the river and disrupt a shipment of dream weed arriving for one of our rival gangs.  He said either throw it into the river or abscond with some of it if possible.  He provided us with uniforms of the city guard and suggested that travelling there through the sewers might be the best course of action to avoid detection.

So while travelling through the rat infested sewers below the mean streets of Vermisdadt in the general direction of the river, we encountered a Chaos Minotaur wandering the filth infested tunnels and defeated it in a fierce melee.  The giant beast walked upon hooved feet, was missing its right horn and appeared to have some sort of glowing rune imprinted on its forehead almost like a miner's head lamp except that it was implanted into the chaos beast's head.  Poor little Snit the halfling took the brunt of its attack before the group managed to blast it in a fusillade of flintlock and magic missile fire whereafter it fell with a crash into the slime infested sewer.

Once the halfling's wounds were bound and he was healed up, we searched the body and found its loot - some gold, a scroll, a jeweled necklace and quite a bit of silver.  We kept most of the loot but put the silver in a bag, marked the spot and dumped it into the sewer to be retrieved later if possible (since it was a lot of coinage and very heavy), and threw the body into the center of the sewer to eventually be swept downstream into the river by the torrent of excrement and rainwater runoff from the filthy streets of the city above.  We followed the sewers until we came to where they emptied into the river and exited the tunnels in Butcher Town where we found a shady alley and donned our city guard outfits.  We weren't likely to be stopped there by the real city guard since that borough had its own police force and the queen's guard rarely went there.

So we crossed over the river on the bridge into the Dumfries neighborhood and Snit located the dock and mooring of the ship the Dirty Princess moored at an out of the way side dock in the warehouse district.  We boldly walked right up to the long shoremen unloading their cargo of wool or cotton onto the docks and Vortigern boldly pronounced "In the name of the Queen lay down your arms and surrender".  The two giant ogres amongst their number initially ignored the group but when the wizards started chanting and preparing to use the wand, our enemies won initiative and fired at the two with their flintlocks before they could cast sleep or use the wand on them and then charged the group to engage them in melee.  The other wizard, Greg the Green (a.k.a. Mr. Green), lost his spell but Vortigern moved off to the side away from the melee and paralyzed the group attempting to load up and make off with the cargo (they all failed their saves).

The group managed to kill a few of the gang members in melee but hardly scratched the ogres when more gang members or long shoremen came running from the gangway off of the ship towards the offloaded cargo on the shore to make off with it or attack the group.  Mr. Green managed to charm one of the gangsters that we were fighting and ordered him to go tell the thugs on the approaching horse and wagon to flee since the city guard was here.  Vortigern cast Phantasmal Force towards the gang plank that the men were crossing from the boat to the shore over the river and "summoned" a green dragon from the river to scare off the gang members coming from the boat.

They were initially startled and frightened by the illusory dragon but they made their morale check and attacked it and dispelled the illusion with one blow.  After the dragon disappeared, they started wondering where the dragon went and began looking in the water.  The result was a successful distraction since it delayed them from their initial goal of making off with their illicit cargo or attacking the group, at least temporarily.  From down the street the horse team with the rival gang members was approaching with the aim of offloading the cargo while the fight was going on, but the horse team failed their morale check upon seeing a giant river dragon crawling out of the water onto the dock as the horses reared up and sped away pulling the wagon behind.  The charmed gang member also failed his morale check and fled upon seeing the dragon.

At this point, Mr. Green started blowing on the guard's whistle he found in the pocket of his uniform (indicating more guards would arrive at any moment) and the ship's crew started ditching the rest of the cargo overboard, untied their moorings, lifted anchor and the ship departed from the slip and the remaining longshoremen and gang members fled as well.  Meanwhile, the two clerics and Snit were having a rough time of it having dispatched the other gang members but they had only hurt one of the ogres slightly and the other was unharmed and they were taking a beating.  They were hurt badly and wouldn't last another round so Vortigern used the Wand of Paralyzation for a second time on the melee including three members of our group (two clerics and Snit the halfling) and the two ogres.  The result was that one ogre failed his save, one made his save and one of our clerics was paralyzed but the other two made their saves and were still mobile.  The remaining ogre, seeing that his men were either all paralyzed, dead or fleeing turned tail and ran down the street to beat a hasty retreat.

Since our intended mission was more to hurt our rival gang than anything and show them who was boss, Mr. Green knee-capped the paralyzed ogre with his flint lock rather than killing him (so he would remember who stole their illicit goods and rightfully fear the Weaselly Ferrets), and we gathered up the dream weed from the bails of cotton and wool piled up on the dock and headed back to the sewer to make our escape.  We made it back to our turf to report the result to big slick and give him and the big boss a cut of the merchandise (the dream weed we had retrieved).  He asked for the uniforms back and congratulated us on a job well done - he particularly liked the knee capping job - he said it was a nice touch and would teach our enemies to respect us in the future...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Averlorn Campaign - G2 The Rift Floor and a Tale of Two Dragons

Recap from 9/9/2011

After getting continuously pummeled in previous sessions by giants and other denizens of the Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl (and by Frost Giants and Ogre Magi in the previous session) using the direct approach (a.k.a. a frontal assault) we decided to hit the Jarl’s complex from a different direction in order to have a less predictable pattern and hopefully catch the giants off guard.  So the plan was to attempt to take out the Winter Wolves guarding the floor of the glacial rift and go into the complex from that direction this time if we could find another entrance since we hadn’t successfully done that before or explored the rift floor at all.

During the first session adventuring in this module, the group went down to the rift floor straight away but had to retreat from seven Winter Wolves after the wolves won initiative and hit us with their breath weapons simultaneously in the first round.  Several of the lower level characters or henchmen were nearly killed so we had to fall back and hadn’t returned that way because of the danger posed by the wolves.  So we surmised the best way to take out the wolves was to have Asclepius fly over them and hit them with fireballs from the air where he was out of range of their breath weapons.  The spotters called in the air strike with the coordinates for our Smelf bomber to make his run with precision guided munitions (in this case a necklace of fireballs).  The Elf cast fly and took off for the glacial rift from just outside the entrance. 

Asclepius spotted the evil Winter Wolves roughly in the same location where we fought them before – right at the bottom of the cliffside pathway that led to the rift floor down from the ledge on the right side of the entrance to the glacial rift.  He used one of the larger fireballs from the necklace first followed by yelps of pain from the wolves and then hit them with two of the smaller fireballs from the necklace and the wolves were all destroyed.  While he had his spell going, he did a low level circuit of the rift floor and noticed a few things.  First, there was a very large ice mound at the far end of the rift not too far away from where we were trapped in the cave occupied by the three Fire Giants previously.  Next, he noticed a large sheet of ice beyond the mound which looked like it might be covering an opening in the snowy rift floor (a sink hole or something).  He also noticed some odd snow closer to the entrance on the left side in a couple of places as he flew over but couldn’t figure out from that height why it looked strange so he went in for a closer look.

He landed about where the winter wolves were killed and did a circuit on foot around the perimeter of the rift floor to get a better look at things.  There was a lot of swirling snow and ice which obstructed vision beyond 30’ in front of him but once he was on the ground he got a better look at the ice sheet and the dome but didn’t investigate them further.  As he followed the perimeter, he eventually made it to the two odd patches of snow and noticed something peculiar – the snow was moving or shifting in some way.  It was apparent that there was something living in those patches so he avoided them and reported back to the group.  With the way to the floor now clear of Winter Wolves, the group descended down the path off of the right hand ledge to investigate the mound.

When the ranger Taleth approached it, he immediately noticed that it appeared to be a lair of some sort.  Upon further examination, he thought it might be the lair of a Remorhaz – a great ice wyrm!  This was interesting indeed and if that was the case it was quite a dangerous creature.  There appeared to be an entrance on one side of the mound so, knowing there was a predator about, Asclepius cast invisibility on himself and flew in without touching the walls or walking on the snow of the floor of the ice cave (his fly spell was still running at this point).  He was concerned about causing vibrations that the creature could detect since he knew it was probably lurking under the snow nearby somewhere so he didn’t want to touch anything unless he had to.  Further into the lair, he noticed a frost covered human skeleton lying in the snow and ice.  On the skeleton’s finger was a rune covered ring and in his bony hand it grasped a very finely made rune covered long sword! 

Assuming these items were magical or at least very valuable, he slipped the ring gently off of the bony finger and put it in his pocket then pried the sword out of the skeleton’s bony rigid hand.  As soon as he pried the sword out of the dead adventurer’s hand (which took some effort and caused the skeleton to vibrate slightly) the Remorhaz struck and snapped at the invisible elf having detected his location at its trapped treasure trove from the vibrations of the skeleton!  The elf was bitten and hurt badly but not killed and he flew out of the cave as fast as he could with the icy beast in hot pursuit!  Asclepius succeeded in drawing the beast out of its lair and out into the open, like a mouse successfully snatching the cheese out of a mouse trap! 

The other two elves and the wizard Ferris attacked the creature with a barrage of magic missiles hurting it badly.  Then the dwarf fighter Beorn boldly stepped forward and slew the mighty beast with his magical broadsword in one powerful blow!  The sword hissed a bit from the heat of the creature but since it held a powerful enchantment it escaped any damage from the extreme temperatures issuing from the creature's back.  Remorhaz can generate extreme heat on their bodies and backs in particular to melt snow quickly to attack prey from below snow and ice.  As the great ice wyrm convulsed in its death spasms, the heat melted a sinkhole into the icy floor and the slain creature gradually sank from view to its final resting place.

So having defeated the Remorhaz, we decided it was best to leave the “moving snow” alone (it was obviously some kind of creature) and decided to explore the ice sheet at the back of the glacial rift to see if it might actually be covering up a sink hole that was another entrance into the lair of the Frost Giant Jarl.  When we approached the ice sheet for a closer look, it did indeed appeared to be a giant ice covered sink hole in the rift floor and another way into the cave complex!  So Evelyn the Assassin set to work cutting a hole in the ice sheet as quietly and gingerly as she could so as to not give away our presence having been trained in the arts of elicit entry.  Once she cut a hole in the ice sheet that was large enough to slip through (being careful to remove the ice as she cut it rather than letting it slip into the sink hole) we peered down into an eerily dark and quiet cave below.

We decided to send her in for a closer look and one of the Elves cast invisibility on her so she would not be easily detected by any occupants of the cave.  We lowered a rope down and she climbed down to the cave far below.  She was gone for quite some time but eventually returned to the surface on the rope.  When she returned, she verified that this was indeed the same cave that she had scouted out before during the session when the Frost Giants had ambushed us on the ledge and we had entered the second level for the first time.

Previously, she entered that cavern while invisible when she and Lucias scouted out the second level while both were invisible.  She determined at that time that she was pretty sure there was a dragon or some other very large lizard or beast in the cave since she could hear its breathing but hadn’t actually seen it.  When she emerged she confirmed that, it wasn’t a single dragon but in fact was two very large and very old white dragons!  One was on a ledge above the cavern floor and the other was cleverly situated behind a large rock pillar so as to be unnoticed if someone were to enter the cave from the opening into the cavern that she had scouted out before. 

So we set about formulating a plan.  We decided that just entering the cave down the rope and attacking from there was far too risky since we would be strung out as we entered and if we were attacked while entering, we could easily be picked off by the dragons one at a time on the rope since they could fly and hit us with their breath weapons or their claw and bite attacks.  We also didn’t really have any defenses against their cold breath attack so any kind of frontal assault was ruled out.  We surmised that our best course of action would be for the Wizard and the Elves to hit them with a number of fireballs and lightning bolts at range if we could lure them out somehow.

We started discussing ideas of how best to do this when Ferris mentioned that he had memorized Resilient Sphere - a 4th level Unearthed Arcana forgotten lore spell he had learned.  This spell is usually used to trap an opponent inside a sphere of force and only a few very powerful spells or a dispel magic can destroy the force shield of the sphere to let someone out.  The result is that those inside the sphere are impervious to damage from the outside and vice versa.  So our plan was to cast resilient sphere on three willing recipients to act as bait and draw the dragons out so the arcane casters could blast the dragons with fireballs and lightning bolts.  The bait consisted of Lucias the human fighter, Beorn the Bahkshanni dwarf fighter and Taleth the Human Ranger who would then drop down into the cave inside of the sphere once the spell was cast.  To make it easier to control the sphere from the inside, Lucias quaffed a potion of flying that he had had for quite some time so that they could move fairly easily and prevent a hard landing on the cave floor below.  The spell is kind of like a hamster ball in that you can push the sphere from the inside or out to move it without damaging the force shield.

So the three of them climbed down the rope just past the hole cut by Evelyn, and Ferris cast his Resilient Sphere spell and they were contained within the force sphere.  They let go of the rope and Lucias flew the sphere down to the cave floor where they landed softly like a beach ball landing in the sand.  Immediately, the dragons noticed the movement and flew over to investigate.  The three fighters began taunting the fell creatures and gesticulating wildly in order to draw them closer.  The two dragons let fly with their icy breath weapons but the frosty breath harmlessly enveloped and went around the sphere to the area beyond.  When the dragons saw that their prey was still quite intact and unharmed, the fighters within began taunting them with renewed vigor – the Bahkshanni dwarf in particular (being the crude mountain dwarf barbarian that he was) even went so far as to drop his trousers and taunt them with his exposed buttocks!  (Shades of Brave heart!)  At this point the dragons were infuriated and charged the three to attack!

The arcane casters above, seeing that their opportunity was at hand, let fly with two 6-7 die lightning bolts and two similarly sized fireballs which also harmlessly enveloped the force sphere but absolutely decimated the two dragons!  The force was so great that there wasn’t much left aside from smoking and charred bones, dragon parts, and steam and melted ice at the bottom of the cave.  The rest of the group climbed down into the cave and Ferris dispelled the sphere and we set out exploring the cavernous dragon’s lair.  Again, it was a two tiered cave with only one exit aside from the one we had come in – that was the stone blocked tunnel that Evie had investigated previously that led to the lair of the Frost Giant Jarl.  So we set about collecting the massive amount of loot in two separate hoards from each dragon and gradually ferried it back to our ice cave hideout some distance away from the glacial rift with the aid of fly and polymorph self spells (Teth-en-Aire polymorphed himself into a White Dragon so he could both fly and carry more treasure).

When we returned to our ice cave hideout, we spent a day or two to identify the magic items that we found in the Remhorhaz' lair and the dragon’s hoard.  It was quite a haul of treasure and items but the real surprise was discovering what the two magic items from the Remorhaz’ lair were – one was a +2 Giant Slaying longsword and the other was a Ring of Three Wishes!  We were undecided as to how to best use the Ring of Three Wishes so we just kept it in the bag of holding for the time being, but we gave the +2 Giant Slayer to the Ranger Taleth and he gave his other enchanted sword (which was also +2 and +3 against giants) to his Elven fighter henchman Bellinorn.  So once this was taken care of, we pondered our next move to return to the Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl and assault the lair one final time!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Averlorn Campaign: Notable NPCs and Guild Members in Lykaedia and Thebos

Captain Atros Grimglory – Captain of the Deft Heron a river going Merchant Vessel
Atros Grimglory is the captain of a merchant ship that regularly runs the river trade routes between Limus Towne, Zademis and Medea’s Gate.  The ship is owned by the Sorinus family and the good captain is their employee.

Argus discovers the sword Hope Blighter
Prefect Ahmet – A prefect of the Surgeons of Hecate.
Ahmet is a lean undertaker-looking fellow who was in charge of guild operations in Medea's Gate for a time.

Argus Norviadras – A guildsman of the Hoplites of Athena.
Argus is also the proprietor of the Emporium Inn in Ptoleph.  Argus is the third son of Severed Norviadras and he sometimes sells magic items found during his adventuring days.  He sold Lucias the Sword “Hope Blighter” which he said was found in a crypt south of Demeteros.

Cori the Hosteller – Horse Trainer and leader of Ophidian Hand in Medea’s Gate.
She runs the Ophidian Hand which is the local thieves’ guild in Medea’s Gate.  She also trains horses (probably a front for Thieves’ Guild) and controls the north side market district of town where the open ground and stables are located.

Dominus – A brother of the Fraternal Order of Hecate.
He often travels by caravan while representing the interests of the Order of Hecate.

Ebru – A sorceress in Medea’s Gate.
Ebru can identify magic items for a fee.

Eldrid – Eldrid is a cleric of the Monastic Order of the Three.
He is a lower level cleric of the Order in Ptoleph who is in charge of selling healing potions and clerical scrolls.

Helaku – Helaku runs the money lenders operation of the Black Cloister in Limus Town.  He is erudite and well read.

Herik Ranjera – High Priestess of Poseidon.
Herik is the High Priestess and a cleric of Poseidon in Limus Town.

Lykaos – A very talented twelve year old boy wizard and member of the Dominion.
He can identify magic items for a fee and presides over sales of magic items in the guild hall in Ptoleph.

Maeve the Enlightened – She is a member of the Promethean House in Ptoleph.
She plays violin and has a very smug and aloof demeanor.  She is a sage and specializes in topics such as the physical universe, geology, mineralogy, physics, demi humans and giants and her rate is 200 g.p. for a day’s work.

Marut – A master surgeon and guild master of the Fraternal Order of Hecate.
He is Sybilla and Wilfred’s boss and is rumored to be a vampire.  He wears a surgeon’s mask in public scented with herbs and often travels at night.  He is greatly feared and has an aloof attitude and a dark sense of humor.

Miligro Conje’ – A Courtesan in Limus Town.
Miligro is a high dollar courtesan in Limus Town who is popular with the nobility.  She is sometimes referred to as “the strumpet of Limus Town”.  She is also a singer and entertains with a “troupe” of musicians at one of the local clubs called Mosaics.  She is rumored to be a Gatherer and is sometimes seen wearing their symbol of a black onyx goat around her neck.

Ornaskar the Intrepid – A sage and wizard in Demeteros.
Ornaskar is said to be a very knowledgeable sage and a powerful wizard of named level.  He is rumored to be one of the most capable wizards in all of Lykaedia.  His research is focused on knowledge, history and issues of a planar nature including the known planes of existence and anything concerning the demonic or diabolic in particular.  He is a friend and former adventuring partner of Obberon Remik and he has a tower in the town of Demeteros, one day to the north of Medea’s Gate. 

Owen the Collector – Owen has curios shop in Ptoleph and is a master sage.
He specializes in studies and records of humankind, philosophy, politics, genealogy and flora.  He often buys works of literature or other historical records and antique curious to sell in his store.  He doesn’t charge too much and will often accept curios goods in trade for his services and is generally a very friendly fellow.

Obberon Remik – A renowned warrior and demon fighter in Medea’s Gate.
Obberon runs a school of martial training with an excellent reputation in Medea’s Gate.  He is friends with Ornaskar the Intrepid, a wizard and sage that lives nearby in the town of Demeteros.  Obberon once searched for the Maw of Torment and another ruin north of Winterholm but never found either of the fabled dungeons.

Quillan Ardmirth – An Elf Mage of the Dominion.
Quillan runs the Dominion’s shop in Medea’s gate where one can often purchase or trade magic items.  It is laid out more like a library or center of research than a shop and items are brought out upon request rather than displayed.

Quinn – the Boatman of the Hill
Quinn is a fisherman in Limus town and will ferry passengers to the far shore at the Hill or beyond in his boat for a fee.  He will also pick up passengers from the far shore as well if he sees smoke signals on the shoreline.

Rosalinda and Rosabella – They are called the Grey Ladies of the Hill of Limus Town.
They live in an enchanted house on the hill that is rumored to move from time to time and are undoubtedly spellcasters of some sort though the common rumor is that they are witches.

The Sorinus Family – A well-respected mercantile group
This prominent family of merchants has vast holdings throughout Thebos and beyond and owns an impressive fleet of merchant vessels.

Sybilla – A cleric of the Fraternal Order of Hecate
Sybilla is the order’s prefect for the City of Ptoleph.  She is a cleric and also represents the Order’s interests in the nearby small mining town of Silverton.  She usually travels with one of the “reborn” as a bodyguard and Argus is her assistant.

Torian Demeri – A Paladin Prophet of the Sun.
Torian is a zealous Paladin and Prophet of the Sun of the noble Demeri Family whose family has a statue in Medea’s Gate.

Wilfred – A brother of the Fraternal Order of Hecate.  He is a promising young prefect of the Order and was recently promoted to the position of Prefect of the City of Medea’s Gate.