Archive for the Session Reports: Other Category

Session Report: Mines of Madness part 4

Posted in Session Reports: Other on May 11, 2013 by Carl

The bony remnants of the mad wizard Abracadamus usher the surviving party members in and very kindly return Moonpie to them.

The Crypt thing then tells them it will pose three questions.

Question 1: Why do you come here?

“To seek the Forever Stone!” the party cry. The mad wizard offers them a big pile of treasure instead, but the party are insistent. “Your funeral” Abracadamus mutters.

Question 2: Are you prepared to make a final sacrifice?

“I am” pipes up the elven ranger Sindarin Wolfeye, and the mad wizard disintegrates him.

Question 3: “Which is faster, a griffon heading for a rodeo or a hippogriff with its tail on fire?”

This one causes some head scratching. The eventual answer proves incorrect. “You have failed to take into consideration a dragon that hasn’t eaten for a hundred years the mad wizard points out, and unleashes a dragon that hasn’t eaten for a hundred years on them.

The party are soon struggling; though Moonpie’s dragonslaying arrow inflicts a grievous wound the beast soon has them dead or dying. It crunches down on Terri the cricket, and is about to turn its attention to the other two when a door swings open to reveal Sindarin, clutching the Forever Stone. It turns out he was not disintegrated but teleported, and he has successfully bypassed one final puzzle to claim the prize.

A single arrow from the elf’s bow is all that’s required to fell the wounded dragon, and Abracadamus gratefully relinquishes his hold on undeath, crumbling to dust.

It seems the Forever Stone is a powerful artefact of Good, and that the bearer will be granted everlasting life until all evil in the world is eliminated. Perhaps it is the inevitable logic that eternal life will only be his while evil remains that causes Sindarin’s next act. Perhaps it is a madness brought on by these mines. Or perhaps it’s just because he’s a fucked-up elven psychopath. Whatever the reason he reaches down to his unconscious allies… and slits their throats.

Then, Forever Stone in pocket, Sindarin leaves the Mines of Madness to take his place in legend.

Session Report: Mines of Madness part 3

Posted in Session Reports: Other on April 27, 2013 by Carl

The party get HugHug to shake the dwarven statue’s hand, and a magic mouth appears, granting them the answers to three questions. After some deliberation the party decide what to ask:

Q: “Where is the Forever Stone?”
A: “Beyond the mad wizard’s chamber.”

Q: “How do we get to the mad wizard’s chamber?”
A: First you must pass through the hidden door; then a sacrifice must be made; then you must pass steel, stone and flesh; then you must solve the final riddle.”

Q: “Where is the hidden door?”
A: “The gargoyle can answer that question.”

The party return to the gargoyle/ statue, remove the pants from its head and shout orders at it, prod it, hit it with hammers and the like. No dice. They follow its gaze and discover a secret door in the wall opposite the gargoyle, but no amount of brute force will open it. The party are stumped.

Giving up on the gargoyle they investigate the phantom miner and the moaning chamber. Exercising uncharacteristic wisdom they decide not to go anywhere near the twisted moaning portal, and decide instead to turn to divine inspiration (they phone Russell to help them). This conversation unearths a vital nugget of information; they have not asked the gargoyle any questions.

The gargoyle, utterly inert until now, responds when asked direct questions. When asked how the secret door can be open it mutters “Bugger. Glitterdark.” And the door swings open.

Beyond lies a chamber with a sacrificial altar. Figuring that a sacrifice is required the cleric and elven ranger leap upon the hapless HugHug and stab him to death, hurling his twitching corpse onto the altar. Nothing happens. Then they take the bag of green goo (that used to be a bag of electrum pieces (that used to be a dwarven warrior)) and stab that too. This seems to do the trick; unlike HugHug the transmuted dwarf is a willing sacrifice; an obsidian stone block slides back revealing an exit.

By offering the diamond pick the party get past a huge iron golem, then avoid a fight with a giant bat and charm a giant cave cricket called Trevor to lead them out of the chamber. Charlie, having lost yet another character, is now playing Trevor.

They avoid getting impaled by piercers, keep out of the clutches of a purple worm (do worms have clutches?) and find themselves at a door with a series of dwarven runes carved into small brass plates. It seems one rune from each row must be depressed.

Forgetting that they are in a D&D adventure he party then spend the best part of an hour applying Bletchley Park-level codebreaking techniques to the problem. The net result is lots of damage as they trigger the trapped door with one failed try after another.

Finally the cleric cracks the puzzle; using one letter from each line he spells out the word UNLOCK. The door swings open to reveal a chamber with robed and seated skeletal figure, impatiently drumming its bony fingers on the arm of its throne.

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Once again plenty of confusion, paranoia and two more party members killed in the Mines of Madness. Better yet, both of those were murdered by their own companions! This is putting me in the mood to run the Tomb of Horrors! Any takers?

Session Report: Mines of Madness part 2

Posted in Session Reports: Other on April 15, 2013 by Carl

The rather depleted party go exploring in the lower levels of the mine. It turns out to be quite an eventful outing.

  • The cleric, last seen disappearing down the purple worm’s gullet, appears (in what he claims is a flash of divine intervention) at the top of the mineshaft, and lands with a hard bump at the bottom.
  • The party ignore the cries of a phantom miner stuck down a mine shaft
  • The elf opens a door with the message “one good turn deserves another” and the dwarf is turned into 98 electrum pieces. It might be 100, but 98 is all they find.
  • The party discover a hammer in a recess with the notice “In case of beserk golem break glass”. They do not break the glass.
  • The elf, sure he has worked things out, tosses the electrum pieces that used to be the dwarf through a hole in the magic door, which from this side has the message “See through me, See through you”. The electrum coins are turned into translucent green goo.
  • They head up some stairs and find the other end of the endless passage from last session. They refuse to enter.
  • They head back downstairs, find a statue that they are pretty sure is really a gargoyle playing possum, and tie it up. Nothing happens. They stick pants on its head and shoot arrows at it. Nothing happens. They say “I know you’re alive”, and still nothing happens. Bored, they open a nearby door and the cleric gets impaled by a spear.
  • They find a circular chamber with a dead adventurer in it and an illusionary gem at the center. Convinced this is a trap of some sort they circumvent the gem, head up some stairs and find themselves in a chamber with a dwarf statue, it’s hand outstretched. Upon shaking the statue’s hand the halfling is told “Be sure to have the pick or hammer if you face the golem”, the elf is told “beware the green dragon”, and the cleric is set upon by stirges.
  • The party find a secret door which turns out to be a mimic. Pseudopod-related hijinks ensue.
  • The party find a chamber full of giant chickens busily pecking at an overturned mine cart. The heroes recognize their foes as cockatrices, and Moonpie the halfling confirms it by getting turned to stone.
  • The remaining two party members rescue HugHug the goblin from beneath the wagon. HugHug is big-eyed, innocent, full of hugs, and never ever mentions jizz or AIDS. Charlie gets to play him.

Only two characters killed this week, I’m obviously slipping. However the party have explored every area they can find in the mines, and are stumped as to what to do next. So that’s good.

Tune in next week for more aimless frustrated wandering, hopefully followed by senseless slaughter.

Session Report: The Mines of Madness

Posted in Session Reports: Other on April 6, 2013 by Carl

SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read this if you intend to play the Mines of Madness module from WotC.

It’s been a while since we played any D&D Next, so the new Mines of Madness module with its pregens looked like the ideal way to check out the latest playtest packet. Something short, lethal and humorous? Ideal.

With only Jules, Charlie and a very jet-lagged Sean present each player takes two characters each.

  • Sean: K’Lorien the Shrouded (Elf wizard)

  • Sean: Sindarin Wolfeye (elf ranger)

  • Charlie: Brother Geoffrey of the Holy Inquisition (human cleric)

  • Charlie: Igor the Stump (halfling rogue)

  • Jules: Fang the Fabulous (dwarf fighter)

  • Jules: Grubaker (dwarf paladin)

The party have sought out the Mines of Madness to retrieve the Forever Stone, which amongst other things is said to grant eternal life.

Standing at the entrance the cleric decides to investigate a nearby outhouse, ignoring the words “Keep Out” carved into the door. This proves to be a mistake; the outhouse and the cleric are swallowed by an immense purple worm that bursts from the ground and then retreats back down its hole. One down, and we haven’t even entered the mine yet.

Over the hill comes Moonpie Mini, a halfling ranger and additional party member.

Now the party enter the mine, and immediately set off a trap that nearly flattens the two dwarfs. Eventually the party dig their way through and press on, finding a nest containing cockatrice eggs, a lot of corkscrewing passageways and then taking on a horde of dwarf miner skeletons.

The party now face three doors. The first opens onto a long corridor. The middle one onto an empty alcove, and the last onto a passageway with mineshafts.

Stepping into the alcove to examine it  Sindarin promptly vanishes. Giving the ranger up for dead the rest of the party head down the  first long passageway, only to find that the doors remain the same distance away no matter how far you travel. They are stuck in an endless corridor, with only the corpses of two previous victims for company.

Meanwhile Sindarin is not dead at all but teleported to the bottom of a mine shaft with two rust monsters for company. He flees and heads up the mine shaft on a rickety platform.

After several failed attempts Igor the Stump hits on the brilliant idea of walking backwards to escape the endless corridor trap, and the party are free. They try the third door instead, and narrowly avoiding falling down the mineshafts they find themselves in more curving passageways, heading upwards.

Up they go, then back down again at double speed as an Indiana Jones-style murderball comes rolling down after them. Splat! Splat! Splat! Three more adventurers dead.

Moonpie is now alone at the bottom of the murderball tunnel, with Fang finding  Sindarin up at the top. so Moonpie heads through the teleporter, kills one rust monster and charms the other and then meets up with the rest of the party at the bottom of the mine shaft. Can the three remaining adventurers survive long enough to retrieve the fabled Forever Stone?

Let’s face it, probably not.

Session Report: Microlite Caves of Chaos

Posted in Session Reports: Other on March 16, 2013 by Carl

I was keen to try out the Microlite rules with the gaming group this evening. Sean, Charlie, Richard and myself as Dm were present. It ended up a bit of a mash-up between D&D Next and Microlite StefanStyle. Here’s the rulebook the players were given.

Microlite Players Handbook

Initiative
1d20+ Highest of DEX/ MIND bonus

Saving Throws
Fortitude:  Survival + STR
Reflex: Physical + DEX
Will: Highest of MIND/ CHA bonus +level  

Advantage/ Disadvantage
If you are ruled to have Advantage you roll 2d20 and take the highest. If you are ruled to have Disadvantage you roll 2d20 and take the lowest.

Actions in combat
Each person can do one action per round:
Move – up to 30 ft. Moving more than 5 ft when in melee provokes a free attack
Charge  – move in a straight line, then attack with Advantage, but foes have Advantage on you until your turn again.
Defend – Foes attack with Disadvantage
Grab – Roll to hit (counts as a light weapon) do no damage then roll Physical vs Physical, if you win the target is grabbed. You must have a hand free to grab.
Knock Prone – Roll to hit with Disadvantage, no damage, success knocks target prone. Standing up takes an action. Anyone attacking a prone target in melee gains Advantage.
Disarm – Roll to hit with Disadvantage, do no damage then roll Subterfuge vs Survival, if you win you get their weapon in your square (or if you have a hand free you catch it)
Sneak – Roll subterfuge+ a stat that fits the circumstance vs MIND+Survival. If you win you are hidden and have Advantage on your next attack. There must be something completely blocking the vision between you and the target.
Other – Improvise, describe your action if you make a description that is awesome your DM will give you a bonus.

The party went hunting orc, the Threeleg clan to be precise. Upon entering the cavern they discovered a number of severed heads in alcoves, but failed to spot that one of them was actually that of a live orc lookout. They made short work of  three orcs in a guard room, then got ambushed by four more, alerted by the lookout,  as they explored another corridor.

Morrin was cut down, but kept from death by his brother Rufus. Between Barda, Rufus and Sabriel these orcs didn’t last long, with one falling so Sabriel’s sleep spell. This one they dragged to the fireplace in the banqueting hall, and woke him by setting his head on fire.

The resulting screams alerted the entire compound, and within moments twelve more orcs were rushing into the chamber. This was surely too great a challenge for the party.

… or not. Rufus filled the whole chamber with smoke, the party retreated to a safe distance to pick off any orcs who made it out, leaving Barda along in the blinding smoke to slice and dice. Although it took almost all their resources the party triumphed.

Battered and bleeding they then retreated to rest up. When they returned they found the Threeleg complex deserted. Some careful investigation revealed a secret door from the Threeleg leader’s room to some sort of meeting room between the clans, which in turn led to a second complex, that of the Whitetooth clan. And further investigation revealed that all the remaining orcs were now guarding the Whitetooth cave entrance, hunkered behind barricades. With their backs to the party.

Verdict on Microlite

Whilst it was a joy to prep (30 mins for all characters, no time at all for DMing prep), the system didn’t go down too well. The main issues raised were:

  • Losing HP to cast spells was felt to be overly punitive on the mage, making her even more squishy. The same is perhaps even more true for a front-line cleric. A possible alternative mechanic was suggested:
    • Mages and clerics have a Mana pool equal to their base HP. Casting uses up this pool.
    • Altering the spell (enlarge, Extend etc) costs HP not mana
    • A mage can cast a spell from a higher level than normally permitted. This costs both mana AND HP.
  • It was felt that there wasn’t enough variety. No cleave for the fighter, no twin shots for the ranger. For this group of players, with lots of experience of versatility in their RPGs, the rules felt TOO simple.
  • Two-handed weapon damage felt overpowered
  • The classic six D&D attributes were missed.
  • Only one action per turn made things feel too static. A Move action and a Standards action are much preferred.

More work is needed to find a system that ticks the simplicity box, but which is versatile enough to keep gameplay interesting. There still seems to be some mileage in a D&D Next/ Microlite mashup, but it probably needs to be far more weighted to the D&D Next side. The Microlite skills system was well liked, so we may be able to use that, and we might trial the magic system outlined above.

There was one success for me last night. I trialed a new initiative-tracking system, and was extremely pleased with the results. As you can see below,  it’s not the most hi-tech of solutions, but it works better than any other initiative system I’ve used to date.

WP_20130316_002 WP_20130316_003

Session Report: Heroes of Agon

Posted in Session Reports: Other on March 24, 2012 by Carl

The second session of Russell’s voyage into the Ancient Greece of myth turns out to be even more potty-mouthed and juvenile than the first, despite the best endeavours of the gamesmaster. Much fun is had by all, though it likely that each participant remembers things slightly differently…

Trail of Cthulhu

Posted in Session Reports: Other on March 11, 2012 by Carl

How did it go? Were you all left gibbering insane wrecks? More so than usual, I mean.

If someone puts together a session report as a comment to this post, I’ll paste it in here.