Thursday, December 23, 2010

CotMA - Episode 8 (part 2)

Continued from here.

Now that the adventurers were back in town, Uuthak was able to tell them a bit more about that preserved crossbow.  A crossbow of accuracy +3!  What a find!  The amount of experience pushed just about everyone over the next level threshold, so dice were rolled...

Torn, now with darkvision (TM), was oh so close, so he opted to roll on Jeff Rient's Carousing table.

[Here's where that random thing I love happened!]

He rolled a 19.  You just can't make this stuff up!

Torn was visited by our favorite Unknown God, Bachontoi, God of Red Wisdom.  He shows up and starts complaining about how Kalen isn't taking his quest seriously.  He needs some help and motivation to find the Rod of the Sky Gem.  So, Torn, you're it.  Bachontoi explains that now BOTH of them are compelled to go and find this thing.  Torn asks where it is and Bachontoi says it's in the dungeon.  "But WHERE?", he pleads.  "Seventh level."

Kalen approaches Uuthak, now that he's third level, and asks if there's some way he can barter for second level spells.  Uuthak says that there is.  He needs a sample of "The Pale Mist".  Apparently some kind of vampiric monster or effect.  "It's found in the chamber of arches on the third level," he explained and handed Kalen a giant jar with valves and various suction apparatuses attached to it.  Kalen was sold and picked two spells as payment.  Uuthak was fine with advancing the spells; if Kalen doesn't follow through -- the party will lose their one route to restoration and healing.  Mwah ah AH!

To put a cherry on top of this situation, Asp decides to go carousing AND HE ALSO ROLLS A 19!!!  I swear, if you railroaded characters into this stuff, you couldn't force them this way.  :)  Now three different PCs are quested by Bachontoi to go and get that magical rod... and they voluntarily rolled for this.  Gary was right -- the first six levels ARE character background!

Toward the end of the session, the players (some anyway) decided to open up the Libram of the Midnight Moon.  Now, this book does radiate evil, but not terribly strong evil.  :)  Owyn de Lapins protested strongly, but the larger part of the group was in favor of Kalen seeking out forbidden knowledge.  Owyn allowed the "opening" to continue, but he wasn't liking it one bit[1].  The gang worked together to stack protections upon Kalen (Bless, Shield, Prot Evil, loaner Ring of Protection (from Elin), etc.) and Kalen cast Read Magic and Detect Magic on himself.

The first "ward" was a spiral set of runes.  Readable by Kalen.  All he had to do was say them aloud.

Which he did, quietly, this caused blackish/blue flames to burst from the book (special effects only) and the three wax seals and clasps were now accessible.

Kalen opened the first one.  I asked him to Save vs. Magic and he reached for the d30.  A wise man...

He rolled a 24 or something equally large and he felt the cold hands of death release from around his neck.  Only a shiver remained where grisly doom once waited...

He opened the next one.  A huge fire elemental leapt from the seal and focused one of its two attacks on Kalen.  It took several rounds to defeat, but the party was successful at sending the creature back to the elemental plane of fire.

Then he opened the third seal.  A giant earth elemental appeared and proceeded to bash on Kalen.  The party joined in and eventually despatched the foul beast to the nether realms.

Kalen leafed through the book and he discovered a number of sections that demanded careful study and reflection.  In addition, he found a number of spells that he can transcribe into his spellbooks.  The spells were of 2nd through 4th level.  JS rolled the spells randomly off the chart in the PH.  If he rolled a duplicate spell, I created a unique spell that matched the theme of the libram.

Most were standard fare, but he rolled two duplicates; one 2nd and one 3rd.  Those spells are, respectively, The Darken Blight of Malikar and The Forceful Grasp of the Darkling Claw.

More on those spells later...

[1]  Owyn's deity, Sinakad, doesn't get all that worked up about these sorts of things (at least he didn't this time.  Translation: I rolled a 4).  He's more concerned about helping people who are trapped or abandoned.
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Santa, The Krampus and your Humble DM Wish All My Players a Merry Christmas!

I've created this sheet of gamer coupons for you to bring to our December 30, 2010 game (and if you don't use them all up -- they're good all year!)

One sheet of coupons per PLAYER please!  Printed copies must be present!

All of you are great players and it has been my pleasure DMing for you this year!  I hope we continue to have fantastic adventures together into 2011 and beyond!

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

CotMA - Episode 8 (part 1)

The adventurers regrouped after defeating "The Ghost Tower" but several of them were in rough shape.

Notably, Elin, who had large portions of her body melted by the chaos of Anarus Kalton and was also blinded by the experiment.

Enter the wizard Uuthak and his marvelous Regen-O-Pod!

I had been working on a special random table for eyes, but I left it on my desk at work...  Ugh!  I rolled with the punches.  I handed each player other than Elin's player a card and I asked that they put three things on it.

  1. A type of eyes
  2. A location for the eyes
  3. A magical power
I then asked RF to roll 2d6.  I told him that his target was "7" but he could add or subtract Elin's CON bonus (18 CON = ±2) to get there.  If he got to "7", he could choose the answer to the question.  If he didn't, he had to ask one of his fellow players for the answer off their card...  (insert diabolical laugh here)

His first roll was a 10.  Nope.  Ask someone... he asked JW who said "compound eyes".  Ack!  The one kind of eyes he didn't want.  I told him that Elin now had a +1 on saves relating to dodging or movement.

His next roll was 2.  Bummer.  Where are her eyes?  He pointed at LB and she said, "on your hands".  This is a tough crowd...
His next roll was a 6 and that was modified to 7.  What power?  "the Evil Eye" RF told me.  We agreed to "figure it out" cuz I don't know what I want that to do yet...

Needless to say, RF is a little disappointed, but this is a sandbox campaign.  You want to get your eyes moved?  You can find a way!

Two new adventurers, Torn and Asp joined the crew for this foray.  Torn rolled a sidekick, Marus, on Michael Curtis's Character Snowflake table and the old warrior joined the crew.

On to the dungeon!  The adventurers busted out their maps and decided that they were tough enough to head to the third level where they'd encountered hobgoblins and white apes so long ago...  They figured that they were tougher now and that they'd give the hobbos the old what for.  

Down they went on staircase B.  It's a long one with lots of loose shale tiles/steps.  Almost impossible to be stealthy in descent.  They arrived at the portcullis to discover it was damaged and jammed in position. Kalen was prepared to use Knock, but the fighters threw their backs into it and were able to drag it three feet off the floor before it was soundly jammed in place.  The group entered the old hobgoblin lair...

They found it completely abandoned and cleared out.  No clues presented themselves as to where the hobgoblins went.  The party didn't do a thorough search, but decided to leave via a door in one of the known corridors.

The corridor wound around for quite a distance, but eventually the sounds of an explosion could be heard in the distance.  The party closed in and could hear chittering and shouting in a strange tongue... as they drew closer still it was determined to be kobold!

The party came upon a group of about 20 kobolds fighting something(s?) that were around the corner out of sight.  Every round a few basketball-sized motes of smoke and fire would fly into the kobold ranks and explode.

Once the kobolds spied the party, they split their attacks.  Kobold slingers, archers and potion lobbers all bombarded the party to little effect.  The party closed in...

... to find three pyro-manticores!  (here's a quick mashup!)
The pyro-manticore hurls balls of plasma with its tail instead of iron spikes....  Yikes!
The PCs didn't know it, but they were in for quite a battle (with a few twists)

[Editorial: I've said this before and I'll say it again -- I LOVE RANDOM STUFF!  You'll find out why a little bit later in this post!]

As the adventurers closed in on the kobolds, the little lizard/dog men scrambled to fight on two fronts.  Many died and some ran away.  Eventually the party had to deal with the pyro-cores.

I should have written this down, blow by blow, but that system has proved to be cumbersome.  Perhaps I'll drag it out again and use it for combats vs. big bads like this.  :)

In the end, three or four PCs had been rolling on the Death/Dismemberment chart.  At one point, Oryx waded through about five kobolds through the use of the Chop when they drop rule.  Torn was blinded by a plasma ball (another trip to see Uuthak!) and several PCs, including old Marus, had been hit DEAD ON with a plasma ball, but took NO DAMAGE due to the eccentricity of the random D,D and DD table!  Priceless!

Old Marus was riding on Roberto the mule when the plasma ball hit... the ball careened off the reinforced steel shields the characters are strapping to the mules sides as backups.  All that happened was a gout of flame, a whoosh of sparks and the smell of burning hair.  Awesome!

Kalen busted out the scorpion poison and applied it to his darts.  It was discovered that the poison wouldn't kill the pyro-cores outright, but it did hurt them AND short circuit their plasma ability.  It took about ten rounds, but the PCs were eventually triumphant.  They gathered some monster bits for Uuthak and searched for treasure.  They found a rotting chest with a strangely preserved medium crossbow under a pile of bones.

Back to town for healing and restoration!

Once back in town we repeated the Regen-O-Pod eye trick for Torn.  He was much luckier than Elin.  He has a ±1 CON bonus, but he didn't need it for his first two rolls; 7's on the dot.

NC declared that his eyes were human AND they were placed normally.  Possibly one of Uuthak's most successful regenerations!  He bombed his third roll and pointed at JS who informed him that he had "darkvision".  Not bad at all...

(More to come!)
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Magic Items from the Ghost Tower

Here's the haul that the PCs took out of the Ghost Tower.  Their patron (of sorts) Uuthak has been helping them with identification...

3 sets of spider fangs -- these and 1 gp will get you a nice flagon of mead...

1 bottle (magic) unidentified -- Oil of Slipperiness (1 use) -- 750 XP

black onyx sphere (magic) unidentified -- Obsidian Sphere of Decimation -- bearer crits on 19, 20 -- can be activated (with unpredictable results) like a grenade (one time only) by bearer -- 2000 XP

3 rare alchemy ingredients -- Uuthak will accept these as payment for the two trips into the Regen-O-Pod

journal with rod/purple mist instructions -- Uuthak will pay 1000 GP for this book

signet ring of House Kalton -- Giving this to Traevus will double your reward to 2000 gp

Skull of Traevus's brother -- worth 1000 gp in reward

Amulet (unidentified) -- Reflecting Amulet of Hesitation -- If the wearer saves vs. a targeted spell, it will be reflected back upon the caster (who gets a save).  The wearer always acts LAST in combat. -- 5000 XP

5 gems (extremely wondrous and valuable looking) -- we'll do the old 3d6x100 trick when we get together tomorrow

potion (unidentified) -  extra healing (2d8+2 per dose; two doses) -- 1600 XP

pair of gloves -- Gloves of Spell Storing -- wizard puts the gloves on and casts a spell.  The gloves remember the spell.  You take the gloves off.  Whoever puts the gloves back on can cast the spell stored within as the original caster.  When the spell is cast, the gloves are empty. Each function can only be used once per day (store and cast).  -- 15,000 XP

Dark Codex (sealed) -- Libram of the Midnight Moon -- this tome is sealed with magicks and runes -- the party can work to unseal it, but that will require some play...  -- 2000 XP for finding it

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New Characters

One of my longtime players, NC, has rolled these two up and added them to the adventuring party in CotMA.  Enjoy!

Torn Sunderhelm/ Human Fighter/Former chieftan of a viking style barbarian clan
Str-17 Dex-14 Con-16 Int 12 Wis-10 Cha-13

He was beaten in ritual combat by an up and coming warrior, and was replaced and banished by tradition. His wife died in childbirth of his only son, so he has no ties with the clan. The older warriors are still loyal, and hate to see him go as he was a strong and just leader. Reality is,the strain of leadership, and the boredom of peace was gnawing at his soul. By the gods, a warrior of his skill needs to die in battle, not wrapped in furs in a longhouse. His people will praise his name once more. He truly hopes no one saw him throw the fight at the last moment! It will make the clan hard to manage for the poor young warrior. His dreams of becoming a hero were momentarily interrupted, as his horse rounded a small stone building and he heard a popping and crackling like campfire bacon in a nest of snakes?

Asp Tombseeker/ Halfling/ Lone surviving member of the Black Sash adventuring group.
Str-13 Dex-18 Con-17 Int-14 Wis-11 Cha-7

Aspar crawled from the tomb entrance, and collapsed smoking in the weed strewn entryway. The sizzling of acid could still be heard, like a panful of Burrowdown bacon. He no longer had the ability to scream, as the clever acid mist trap had savaged his vocal chords, and rendered his face into a permanent rictus of pain. The best he could manage was a sibilant whisper of agony. If only he had listened to his instincts, and  searched for the secondary trigger on the final door to the wizards tomb, he would be laughing and doing a jig, holding the biggest ruby in Queston. But no, the other Black Sash's had to rush him as usual. He always gave them enough time to swing swords and cast spells. Why were they always rushing him at his art. Well, technically they wouldn't rush him any more, Aspar silently mused. Tomman was pummeled to death by the hulking tomb guardian, and Rafe was incinerated by his own fireball. Quel wouldn't let him search the strange corridor, so he never saw the tripwire that triggered the blade trap that removed his fool head. Shari would never smile at him in that funny way again. They had been making so much damn noise, no one had heard the pack of ghouls stalking them until it was too late. He could still hear her screaming as they dragged her down that hole.
The last thing he heard was a deep male voice. "You are in bad shape little one, what is your name?"
"AAAAASP" came the strangled reply, just as the mangled halfling passed out.
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Ghost Tower

Since Ravenloft came out all those years ago, I've tried to do a special Halloween adventure in my campaigns.

In my current S&W OSR game, I took a 4e module from Dungeon called "The Ghost Tower" and retro-fied the adventure.

I posted the recaps at Carjacked Seraphim, my other blog.

Here are the links if you are interested:

Part 1

Part 2

A recap from the latest foray into CotMA will be up this week!
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Matt's Characters

Here are the two characters my grandson Matt rolled up to play in "Episode 7".

We used a 4d6 (drop low) x 7 (drop low) to generate attributes.  We started him at 2nd level because the other adventurers were already 2nd and 3rd.

Therin the dwarf was definitely his favorite.  I like how he kept track of the monsters defeated at the top of the page.  He was also good about "eating rations" and "using torches" -- he erased and changed the numbers on his sheet.  He also found some spikes and a chain with a lock and key in the dungeon.  Thought those were valuable to keep, so he added them to his sheet.

:)  Good stuff.
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

CotMA - Episode 7

A few exciting things happened during this foray into the dungeon.  This trip, the party was Oryx, Owyn, Hanuman, Xavier, Kalen, Rolf and two newcomers the dwarf, Therin and the human fighter, Trey.  (These last two adventurers were played by my grandson, Matt!)

  • The basilisk has apparently gone back into hiding; no new evidence of it was found on this trip
  • The party re-entered the room of the three doors.  The discussed their options and based upon Kalen's detect magic spell, they decided to open the "Heaven can Wait" door.  Upon opening, the golden keys in the other doors disappeared.  A bluish gas erupted from the doorway and Oryx, Therin and Trey all got a lung full.  Owyn managed to dodge out of the way.  The gas didn't harm anyone, in fact, they felt somewhat bolstered by its effects.
  • In the hall, the party attacked and defeated two giant scorpions.  They cut off and saved the two stingers in the hopes of using the venom against their enemies.  The paladin has mixed feelings about this...
  • The heroes encountered an evil altar.  Two magical and fully articulated dragon heads - one blue and one red - made up both sides of the pedestal.  Owyn approached the altar and the hair on his arms began to stand up (static electricity?).  It radiated two flavors of evil... Lawful and Chaotic...  Owyn and Oryx decided that they would plug the mouths of the two heads with torches simultaneously... BUT WHY?  The blue head had two large sapphire eyes and the red head has two large ruby eyes...  The succeeded in plugging the mouths, but the two heads erupted with lightning and fire.  Oryx and Owyn took some damage but were able to escape the room before the full fury erupted.  Once it ended, the party was able to steal the two sapphires and one ruby before the altar began to recharge...
  • The party encountered a group of four zombies all dressed like shabby, tatty manservants with backpacks.  They were easily turned by Xavier.
  • The party discovered and attacked three giant toads, each of a different color.  At one point, Owyn's shield was pulled off his arm by the sticky tongue of a toad and swallowed immediately.  Upon defeating the toads, Owyn was able to extricate his shield from the beasts gut.
  • The party discovered a strange "City in a Bottle".  The city was complete with a miniature sun and clouds, a miniature ocean and apparently thousands of inhabitants if Owyn's "detect evil" can be trusted.  The party couldn't find a way to unstopper the bottle (or remove the bottle from it's pedestal) so they left it behind... for now.
  • Near the end of their excursion, the party came upon the "Grinning Skull" orcs.  They were quickly defeated with the use of a well-timed sleep spell.  The remaining orcs ran from the party.  After looting their lair, the party discovered a new stair well that led further down in to the depths.
  • The party also discovered a new way back to the "Xanathar" pedestal room since the original path was collapsed from the earthquake.
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CotMA - Episode 6

The adventurers returned to CotMA on this expedition as a small group of six.

Hanuman, Owyn, Oryx, Xavier, Kalen and Rolf were the sum total of the intrepid band.  They made two forays into the dungeon.  Here are some highlights:
  • Upon descending into the dungeon, they discovered that the door to the earthquake collapsed section was closed and buckling under the strain.  The previous lair of the Black Spear Bandits now seems impassible.  
  • They discovered that the troglodyte leader and his tribe were decimated by a basilisk.  They encountered statues of the leader in an heroic position trying to protect a female.  Later on they discovered another petrified female, some stone babies and a the grisly remnants of a basilisk feeding on other baby trogs.  Ick.
  • Exploring further, they came upon the lair of giant rats.  Defeating them, they rescued a captive, "Harcourt" who they brought back to The City for rest and recuperation.  During the battle with the rats, Oryx's arm was broken by a vicious bite!
  • Hanuman was grievously injured by slime monsters and the party had to retreat from the dungeon
  • Later on, they avoided the basilisk using cunning.  Sir Owyn snuck up to an open door after having just seen the basilisk enter.  He slammed it and Kalen cast "hold portal" to keep the beast inside.
  • Kalen went carousing in the tavern (ala Jeff Reint's carousing table) and rolled a 19.  His atheist character now is under a quest from Bachontoi (the God of Red Wisdom) to recover the "Rod of the Sky Gem".  Good news!  It's in the dungeon... you can just feel it... 
  • Kalen dropped a copper into the cup of a Giant Ape statue (it was wearing a fez) and how he has an overall "weird/itchy/twitchy feeling".  Doesn't seem to want to go away...
  • Upon their return to the dungeon, the adventurers discovered the lair of a group of hobgoblins.  The hobgobs protected their lair with the clever placement of a shrieker, but Hanuman used his magical tuning fork to render their shrieks "un-hearable".  The party was able to sneak up on the hobgoblins and they went down quickly.
  • Hanuman collected a "sample" of what the party thinks is basilisk poop...
  • At the end of their second foray of this session, the party came upon a room of three doors.  Door A says “Don't be boaring” (sic). Door B says “Why waste your time?” Door C says “Heaven can wait”.  Each door had a single golden key in the lock.  The adventurers retreated from this room and decided to try it next time.
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Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Defeat of the Hydra

It was a fierce battle and Oryx was attacked repeatedly...

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Monday, September 27, 2010

CotMA - Episodes 4 and 5 - Catch Up Posting

Many interesting things happened in the Castle during Episodes 4 and 5.  This post is my attempt to "catch up" on both these episodes.  I'm afraid they won't be too narrative; just a set of bulleted highlights...

Episode 6 is this upcoming Thursday.  I want to post recaps with more regularity starting after that.  :)
  • Xavier the Spiritual lost his leg to a giant beetle.  He had it replaced with an ornate silver "pegleg" below the knee of his own design.
  • The characters discovered a magical tuning fork that has a silencing effect upon the wail of shriekers.
  • At one point, the heroes encountered some blood sucking slime monsters...
  • The adventurers encountered the "Room of the Clowns" and interacted with these magical mosaics.  Some gained; some lost.  HPs, Attribute points and minor magic items were on the table.  RF's cleric was the big winner.  Xavier lost his silver leg in the deal.  Is now considering himself "Xavier the Marked".  The "Room of Clowns" disappeared when they left it.
  • The dungeon has suffered an earthquake.  The area once inhabited by the bandits is largely collapsed.
  • The adventurers discovered and (largely) defeated a tribe of troglodytes.  The leader retreated and barricade himself in a small room with the women and children of his tribe.  He offered them their treasure with a crudely written plea of "TAK" on the floor.  The adventurers did indeed "take" the treasure and left the chieftain and non-combatants alone.  
  • Following a corridor marked with snake-like bas reliefs, the adventurers went toe-to-toe with a 5-headed hydra that dwelled in an obscuring mist.  They defeated it, but Cack Trueshield lost an arm in the process.  The party collected parts of the hydra for future trade with a wizard or alchemist.
  • The adventurers discovered an pedestal of sorts that emitted a mystical radiance.  A single crystalline tile was found upon its top surface.  It is obviously a puzzle, requiring more pieces to assemble.  The colored light, when cast upon the wall, revealed the name "Xanathar" written upon the wall.
  • The party sold the hydra parts to Uuthak the Obscure, an alchemist in The City.  Uuthak was willing to subject Cack and Xavier to his "Regen-o-pod" to regrow their lost limbs.  It was dicey, but both heroes survived the process.  Xavier now sports a feline purple and bronze furred leg.  Cack has been graced with a steel colored tentacle in place of her lost arm.
If I've forgotten anything important, I invite the players to post in the comments.  See you on Thursday!
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

CotMA - Episode 3c

(It's been so long since we did this session; I'm not sure I can remember too much...)

The adventurers returned to the dungeon and returned to the pit.  They descended into the pit to discover the remains of poor Bob infested with large worm-like creatures.  One big douse of oil and then the liberal application of a torch took care of that.

Oryx searched the room for secret doors but found none.  How'd those worms get in there then???

They returned to the top of the pit and found a secret door.  A little fiddling with the "click/clunk" key allowed it to be opened with a push and turn.

Behind they found a damp chamber with a thin film of water on the floor.

At the end of an approx 40' corridor, they found another secret door (less secret from this side) and they opened it up.

Beyond they found a bedroom filled with a mouldering bed and other bedroom furniture.  Cautiously they searched the mound of refuse and found a small box and a set of pristine chainmail pants.  Inside the box they found a tuning fork of impressive quality.

They returned to the surface with their finds to have them appraised...
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Thursday, September 16, 2010


What happens when adventurers lose a limb?

Perhaps it's bitten off by vicious giant beetles...

...or maybe it's devoured by a hungry, hungry hydra...

Never fear!

Visit Uuthak the Alchemist and his miraculous regen-o-pod!


Roll d6 (1-3 = one color; 4-5 = 2 colors; 6 = 3 colors)





For even more exciting fun, roll d20 + CON bonus.  If the total rolled => 20, the re-grown limb has some kind of MAGICAL POWER (click here for ideas)

If the total is <= 1, the re-grown limb has a curse...
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

CotMA Episode 3b

...the party headed in a direction that should lead back toward the great spiral stair.  They spread out along the hallway, going mostly 2x2.  Bob the Burro, Kalen, the female elf and Hanuman were in the middle section...

The first few ranks of the party traveled across a covered pit without it triggering.  The weight of the middle ranks (with Bob included) was too much for the pit.

It triggered -- but it JAMMED!!

I asked, what do you do?

JS replied immediately that Kalen would "jump off" the pit.  Whoops!

That change in weight was just enough to trip the pit and the remaining adventurers all needed to save or fall.

Bob failed -- he's a burro; he didn't even get a save.  Elf failed.  Hanuman caught the edge of the pit due to his monk training.

Bob died as he crashed into the floor, 30' below.  Elf took 3d6 damage and was reduced to -3 HPs.  Ouch. She was dying at the bottom of the pit.

A rescue effort was mobilized.  Ropes were thrown down and secured at the top.  Rolf and F. Fighter descended into the pit....

Only to be confronted by 5 skeleton warriors with glowing gemstone eyes!

Battle ensued and F. Fighter was downed.  Rolf battled on and was eventually joined by Oryx and Hanuman at the bottom of the pit.

In time the skeletons were defeated and their red ruby eyes (10 of them) were removed and added to the party's loot.  Elf was tended to and stabilized.  Poor Bob was left to moulder at the bottom of the 30' pit.

The party left the dungeon before more harm could befall them...
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Friday, August 20, 2010

The Cellar, the entrance to CotMA

         |                        |
         |                        |
         |                       ,'|
    ___  |                       ||| Door A
 ,-'   `-|                       `.'
/        |                        |
|   Spiral stair down            ,'|
\        |                       ||| Door B
 `.     ,|                       `+'
   `---' |                        |
         |                       |+.
         |                       ||| Door C
         |                       '+'
         |                        |
                         |    |
                         |    |Narrow
                         |    |stair
                         `..../up to surface

During their first session, the heroes descended into the dungeon using Door C.

During session two, they used Door B and then Door A.

During session three, they used the Spiral stairs exclusively.
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CotMA Episode 3a

The party recuperated in town for nearly a week before heading out again.  Two members of the party were unable to join in on the adventure, but two new characters, a monk and a paladin, were new to town and looking for excitement.

The party headed back to the ruin and down into the cellar.  They opted to take the spiral stair down, in hope that it would end up behind the silver metal doors -- despite what Oryx said about the stairs not meeting up.

Some strange wizardry must be at work, because the stairs did in fact meet up, despite the fact that the entrance and exit were hundreds of feet apart laterally.  The characters approached the doors and listened to hear if anything was lying in wait on the other side.  Hearing none, they threw the portals wide.

On the other side of the doors, they found the corridor much the same as they left it.  The corpses of the troglodytes had been vigorously gnawed upon by rodents.  Bloody rodent footprints could be seen leading away from the trog bodies and into the darkness.

The heroes proceeded forward to find another alcove -- this one with a magic mouth!  It spoke --

"There once was an elf from Narwell, 
and soon in a deep pit he fell.
He tried to climb up it, but then just said stuff it, 
and now his ghost lives in third hell."

This even generated a bit of discussion but eventually the heroes moved further down the hall.  They discovered a branch to the right that made a sharp right turn.  Continuing on they found a hall that ended abruptly at a wall covered with wicked spikes.  

Sensing danger, the heroes backed slowly away.  The monk and the elf retreated to the alcove with the keyhole and tried putting the mechanism in the "clunk" position to see if there was any effect on the spikes or the room.  The characters set up a sort of vocal relay, spacing themselves in the hallway while the dwarf (on his leash) peeked around the corner at the spikes while the fighter held onto his rope.  Oryx could hear the mechanism clicking and clunking, but no other effect was apparent.  

The adventurers were not satisfied that they had de-activated what seemed like a trap, so they prepared to depart when the dwarf and fighter were beset by giant rats!  The vile creatures were rapidly dispatched by the pair even as the heroes ran back to give aid to the dwarf and fighter.

Once the party was reunited, they gathered in the circle of their torchlight and discussed their options.

Their strategy session was interrupted when the elf heard orc voices in the dark.  Knowing that they were sitting ducks and very visible in the light, they quickly set an ambush around the dark spiky corner and the human members of the party headed back down the corridor away from the oncoming orcs...

The orcs had a chance to see the ambush, but they didn't.  Thus, they quickly found themselves sandwiched between to walls of adventurers.  One group got some free attacks in from surprise.  The battle went back and forth, the orcs getting a few good licks in, but eventually they were all defeated.

The party took a few deep breaths and then they heard the battle cries of some more orcs heading their way.  The party girded themselves for battle, organized themselves into ranks, and waited for the orcs to arrive...

Five more orc warriors and a huge orc leader appeared in the distance, faintly visible in their torchlight...

In a few more seconds they closed the gap and JS's wizard let loose his "Sleep" spell!

Of the possible 16 (4d4) HD of monsters affected, JS rolled 14!  Loud snoring erupted in the hall as the orcs were sent into a mystical slumber (from which they never awoke!)

The adventurers continued down the hall to discover a curving corridor.  A large room with a well and four apparent exits and the orc chambers.

The orc chambers were looted for their booty some gold and a potion (!) and then the heroes investigated the well.  Rolf dropped in a torch and determined that it was some 30' deep and was filled with water at that level.  Oryx discovered that one path was blocked by a portcullis.   Before investigating further, the party determined that one corridor led back toward the spiral stair and the diagonal passage.

That's when things got interesting...  (to be continued!)
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

CotMA - Episode 2b

...continued from here...

After battling with the hobgoblins and retreating back to town, the adventurers healed up (Rolf the Fighter used his considerable charisma to join a local church, impressing a priestess with his dedication and piety.  He did this simply to get the "member discount" on healing potions!) and then they headed back to the Castle...

Once in the cellar, they opted for Door A and headed down...

At the bottom of the stairs they found a swirling mass of impenetrable darkness.  They were wisely suspicious and they took a little time testing it.  Thrusting their torches into the darkness to discover that the inky blackness quashed the light -- but didn't put the torch out.

Eventually, Oryx the dwarf was put back on his leash and he entered the room.  He couldn't see anything, but the adventurers discovered that they could speak to each other in normal voice.  The darkness didn't dampen sound in any way.

Feeling the walls  as he moved carefully along, he used his dwarven understanding of construction to map the room.  Eventually he found the exit door and escaped from the inky blackness...

Following the rope attached to the dwarf, the party threaded itself across the dark room.  LB's elf went back into the room, used a rope to "sweep" the floor of the room and found a lost key!

The party headed out and found a long hallway with an alcove that ended at a door.  Another passageway went off at a right angle and then off at a sharp 45° angle...  The heroes followed this hall.

After the angular corridor, they found a door made of badly weathered grey wood.  They listened and heard nothing then they pulled the door open.

The party discovered that the full 8' door covered up a 4' tall opening to a room with a 4' high cieling.  Oryx was put back on his leash and he carefully began exploring the room.  He discovered that it had six large, tubular holes in the cieling...

|  ,-.         ,-.         .' `.  |
| /   \       /   \        |   |  | <-- holes/tubes
| \   /       \   /        \   /  |     in ceiling
|  `-'         `-'          `-'   |
|   _           _           ,-.   |
| ,' `.       ,' `.        |   | .|.
| \   '       |   |        |tick |||
|  `-'         \_/         `._,  `|'
| '''''|
| Oryx |
|      |
|      |
|      |
|      |
|      |

Oryx explored the room but as he approached the far door, he was attacked by a giant bloodsucking tick!  It dropped out of the far ceiling hole, nearly surprising our doughty dwarf!  It took a few rounds but he splattered the creature all over the floor and was able to open the exit door.  The party carefully followed him out of the room, all other members crawling on all fours or bent over at the waist.

On the far side of this room, the heroes found a long hall that branched left and right.  They explored a little way in each direction but then took the left branch.  The found a sharply slanting hall and a set of large, metal double doors with strange silvery runic inlays.  Behind these doors they found a large spiral stair similar to the one in the cellar.  Oryx explained that there was no physical way that this stair could connect with the stair in the cellar, despite its similarity.  

Just past the doors they found an alcove and after searching they found a keyhole.  Indeed the key that LB's elf found fit perfectly.  When turned, it made a powerful "click".  Turning it back, it made a resounding "clunk".  The party decided to leave the mechanism in the "clicked" position and they retrieved the key.  

Moving further down the hall the party surprised a troglodyte patrol.  At least one member of the party (possibly more than one) were adversely affected by the horrible stench and their fighting ability was diminished from the retching.   Eventually they defeated the trogs and retreated from the dungeon by way of the staircase to Door A.
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CotMA Episode 2a

Last night we played our second session of CotMA.  We had a few new players -- JS and JW -- and a few former players couldn't make the session -- JD and LB.  Hopefully the whole gang will return for the next episode!

Our adventure began in town (I'll name it soon and make a sketch) for supplies and then the heroes headed out on the three-league journey to the Castle ruin.

Once there, they entered the cellar and proceeded to the locked middle door (Door B).  JS's wizard examined the door for obvious traps and finding none he attempted to pick the lock.

Rolling, using my new Attribute Challenge system, he got a 1 and 'click' the door was unlocked.   DB's dwarf opened the door and they looked down into a disused, steep and dangerous passage.  Loose flagstones and precarious footing all the way down.  They tied a rope to the dwarf (a common theme this episode that I referred to as "his leash") and the dwarf and elf headed downward relying on infravision to help them find the way.  The party extended the rope 50' and once taut, the dwarf and elf would wait for the humans with torches to catch up (moving accordion style).

After three such accordion moves, the heroes found themselves on a landing of sorts and the elf and dwarf once again descended downward.  After 30' around a hairpin bend, the elf heard gruff voices.  Not knowing the language exactly, he was able to determine that it was "goblin-y".

The heroes descended to discover their way blocked by a portcullis.

Sitting around a small fire, arguing with one another, was a small group of hobgoblins.  The lead heroes retreated around the corner to strategize with their companions.  It was decided that JS's wizard would incapacitate the hobbo's with "Sleep" and then the party would jimmy the stuck/locked portcullis...

Carefully, his wizard snuck down and around the corner and waited for the right time to unleash his spell...

...and it would have worked too, except that the hobgoblins kept trained killer white apes as pets!

Oryx tried to trap the arms of one ape that was foolish enough to thrust them through the portcullis bars, but it didn't work.

Battle ensued and the apes and the sleeping hobgoblins were defeated.   (It was more dramatic and suspenseful than that.  I'm almost positive that someone was badly hurt and I know that the apes presented a significant challenge... Sorry.  It's been almost four weeks and I just can't recall the details.)

The adventurers searched the room and found some minor coinage as loot.   Then a door opened...

"Hulgak crok rogath!" a brusque hobgoblin voice cried (Translation: Hulgak come here!  Now!")

The heroes shouted back and then charged down the hallway toward the sound of the voice... and found themselves in a barracks positively FILLED with hobgoblins...

To arms!  To battle!  Huzzah!  The adventurers went toe-to-toe with the hobbos and slew many.  Then the hobgoblin's morale broke and they ran from the room.

Battered and hearing the sound of reinforcements, the heroes retreated and barred the door.  Climbing out of the dungeon past the portcullis and slogged their way back to town (still un-named...) be continued...
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Rolf, Fighter

Player: JS

STR 17 INT 9
DEX 14 WIS 8
CON 14 CHA 15

Level: 1
HP: 8

Special Quality: Knack for Languages

Speaks: Common, Orcish, Dwarvish

Platemail, shield, bastard sword, dagger, short bow, arrows x20, sack, rations x10, torches x10, waterskin, flint and steel, oil x10
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Kalen the Lockpicker, Magic User

Player: JS

STR 9 INT 17
DEX 15 WIS 10
CON 16 CHA 8

Level: 1
HP: 5

Speaks: Common, Ogre, Goblin, Elvish, Orcish

Special Quality: 

Spellbook, Traveling spellbook, dagger, staff, darts x20, rations x10, parchment x10, oil x10, flint and steel, flask of wine, bedroll, backpack, 50' of silk rope with grappling hook, sack, whistle, spikes x10, hammer, waterskin, torches x10, bullseye lantern

Spells known: Charm Person, Dispel Magic, Hold Portal, Light, Magic Missile, Prot from Evil, Read Languages, Read Magic, Shield, Sleep
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Sir Owyn de Lapins, Paladin

Player: JW

STR 16 INT 10
DEX 15 WIS 16
CON 15 CHA 11

Level: 1
HP: 6

Special Quality: Orienteering, Eye for Irregularity

Plate armor, long sword, shield, backpack, bottle of wine, flint and steel, hammer, spikes x12, rations x5, sacks x2, waterskin, holy symbol - wood
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Sadhu Hanuman, Monk

Player: JW

STR 16 INT 12
DEX 17 WIS 13
CON 12 CHA 12

Level: 1
HP: 3

Special Quality: Oh Captain, My Captain

Staff, Chakram disks, backpack, waterskin, bottle of sake, chalk x10, flint and steel, grappling hook, hammer, holy symbol (handmade from silver), rations x5, hemp rope, sack x2
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Monday, July 12, 2010

Xavier the Spiritual

Player: DB

STR 13 INT 10
DEX 12 WIS 16
CON 14 CHA 10

Level: 1
HP: 6

Special Quality: Owed a Favor, Mind for Miscellany

Mace, Holy Water (2), Plate and Shield, Wineskins (3), Backpack with mirror, hammer and stakes, flint and steel, warding herbs, rations (5)
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Saturday, July 10, 2010

CotMA - Episode 1b

(continued from here)

The heroes continued down the hallway and discovered a secret door.  They opened it and found three skeletons inside waiting to pounce upon the party!

Jace the Devine attempted to turn the undead AND HE SUCCEEDED!  The three skeletons fled away from the party, back toward the dungeon entrance.

Inside the chamber of the skeleton was a prominent lever mounted to the wall.  The lever was in the up position.  JD's halfling, with very little preparation, threw the lever into the down position, "because that's how levers are supposed to be."

There was a loud racket.  Grinding noises.  Thumping and the floor trembled below their feet a bit.  Ultimately (as far as they could tell) nothing happened.

Behind them, a short corridor led up to a closed door.  RF's fighter forced the door and they entered a rectangular room with a single exit door.  In the center of the room was a smashed amphora that appeared to have once been filled with oil, due to the huge puddle it was sitting in.  Upon opening the only other door in the room, the heroes found three more similar amphoras (stoppered) and they assumed these too contained oil.  They moved the amphoras out into the hall and set them in the corner.  They assumed that they could use them for an emergency fall back position -- smashing the amphorae and setting the oil alight to aid their escape.

They continued down the hall...

Eventually they entered a room where they found a non-corporeal warrior type, crying over the mouldering remains of his body.  They entered the room and prepared to do battle!

The discovered that their weapons were of no real use to them in the fight (the apparition was only hit by magic) but application of fire and holy water to its corpse seemed to injure the undead horror.  JD's halfling actually succeeded in damaging the apparition by smashing what remained of its skull.

The heroes simultaneously evaded and attacked the monster while gaining entry to a room in the rear of his chamber.  They discovered, through trial and error, that the apparition couldn't leave the room.  He also couldn't enter the back chamber.

For awhile we had action on three fronts -- those who were doing hit-and-run tactics with the apparition, those that were guarding the entrance in the hall (and watching Bob the burro) and a few that were examining the three chests that were found in the back room.

First the back room -- JD's elf, RF's magic user and DB's Jace the Devine were all in the back room.

First up, Jace decided to smash the lid of a chest in with his mace.  While this would have foiled a poison needle trap, it turned out that the chest was Fire Trapped and the resulting gout of flame reduced his torso to a holy cinder.  Inside a sack of coins and a scroll tube of magic user spells was found.

Seeing what just happened, JD's elf pushed his chest over by the door.  He reached around from behind and triggered the chest -- opening it toward the apparition who was menacing at the doorway.  The resulting mystical acid blast sprayed forth from the front of the chest, damaging the non-corporeal apparition.  Inside a shiny sword was found with a scabbard embossed with birds and other flying creatures.

Lastly, RF's mage dragged her chest over by the door and triggered it in hopes of blasting the apparition with some magical effect.  Unfortunately, her chest was trapped with a poison needle.  It sunk deeply into her finger and she died on the spot.  Another sack of coins was found inside the chest.

Meanwhile, outside of the room DB's dwarf and RF's fighter -- both badly injured from previous combat -- were watching the battle and tending to Bob the burro.  While they waited, a gelatinous cube slid up on them from the unexplored corridor.  Both men (and their burro) broke into a run and headed back down the corridor as fast as their legs could carry them...  just barely faster than the gelatinous cube itself...

Back in the room, after JD's halfling fell to the claws of the apparition, JD's elf took hold of the newly discovered shiny sword and leapt to do battle with the creature.  This weapon seemed to have the ability to actually do damage to the foul creature.  They went toe-to-toe for a number of rounds, but eventually the elf fell under its preternatural blows.  Sensing that the battle was nearly over and leaping to the defense of the elf, LB's fighter took up his sword and slew the beast.  The heroes in the room were able to revive the halfling and the elf with a bit of wine and the tending of their wounds.

At the same time, just down the hall, the dwarf and fighter had fallen back to the position of the three amphorae of oil.  Teaming up,  they swung one container through the air and crashed it on the floor some 40' distant.  As the gelatinous cube arrived, they hurled a torch down the hallway and set the creature alight.  They followed up hurling the other two amphorae at the beast, causing quite a conflagration.  The gelatinous cube had one chance to attack the men, swinging a flaming pseudopod at the dwarf, but missing.  It went down in a flaming jello heap.

(to be continued...)
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Oryx Flamebeard, Dwarf

Player: DB

STR 15 INT 14
DEX 14 WIS 12
CON 15 CHA 14

Level: 1
HP: 5

Special Quality: None

Platemail, 2-handed warhammer, backpack, wineskins, rations (5), large sacks (2)
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Cack Trueshield, Female Fighter

Player: LB

STR 13 INT 12
DEX 11 WIS 12
CON 13 CHA 9

Level: 1
HP: 7

Special Quality: Swims like a fish

Plate mail and shield, sword
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Vera Diamondtree, Female Elf

Player: LB

STR 15 INT 15
DEX 14 WIS 9
CON 14 CHA 11

Level: 1
HP: 5

Special Quality: Eye for horseflesh

Chainmail, bow and arrows
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Friday, July 9, 2010

Unnamed Female Magic User

Player: RF

STR 13 INT 18
DEX 15 WIS 14
CON 12 CHA 10

Level: 1
HP: 4

Special Quality: Resist Venom (see below)

Spells: Read magic, Read languages, Detect magic, Hold Portal (X), Sleep

Dagger, wolvesbane, belladonna, hammer and stakes, torches, waterskin, mirror, rations (4), Bob the Burro with saddlebags

Cause of Death: Poison needle on trapped chest.  (How ironic is that?)
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Jace the Devine

Player: DB

STR 12 INT 13
DEX 12 WIS 16
CON 13 CHA 12

Level: 1
HP: 6

Special Quality: Windfall

Mace, Holy Water (2), Plate and Shield, Wineskins (3), Backpack with mirror, hammer and stakes, flint and steel, warding herbs, rations (5)

Cause of Death: Was incinerated when opening a Fire Trapped chest.
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CotMA - Episode 1a

My friends, DB, LB, RF and JD all came over last night and we rolled up characters.  I let them use 4d6 drop the low and I also let them roll 7 times and drop the worst total.  Only one 18 was rolled, but the characters overall were pretty solid.

I used the Character Snowflakes table from the Society of the Torch, Pole and Rope and nearly each character got a little something to set them apart from the norm.  I also had some pre-gen NPCs ready from Meatshields!, but no one was interested.

Each player had two PCs to play.  I was anticipating some attrition.  I told the players that I was adhering to Gary's rule of "the first six levels ARE character background."

DB rolled up a cleric and a dwarf.  RF rolled up a fighter and a magic user.  JD rolled up an elf (the expensive kind) and a halfling.  LB rolled up an elf and a fighter.  I plan to gather the character sheets and create a page for each character at each level as they go along.

I shared my house rules (future post) and they purchased equipment.  Ryan bought a burro to haul their treasure out of the dungeon.

Then we were off to the dungeon!

I explained that the Castle of the Mad Archmage was a ruin, well known to adventurers as a place where one could find their fortune or a painful demise.  Many go in, but few come out.  I further explained that the ruins were three leagues from the town where they were staying.

They headed out in the morning.

I described the scene as they arrived upon a low hill.  I told them that they knew the castle itself was little more than a crumbling, overgrown structure at the surface, but that there was an entrance to a cellar (one of several entrances) near a large oak tree.  They had heard that this was a primary entrance to the dungeon levels.  They found the cellar and down they went...

I described the cellar and told them that there was enough natural light here to make out three stout doors on one side of the room.  A large spiral staircase down was visible through an archway on the other side of the room.  I told them that the cellar had indications of being well-travelled.

They tried all three doors.  The middle door was securely locked.  This gave them three choices for descent into the dungeon.  They chose the close door  (Door C) in preference to the near door and the spiral stair.  A staircase of flagstones wound downward, curving gently to the right...  it was very dark.

The decided who should carry a torch (RF's magic user) and they put the elves and dwarf near the front. RF's magic user was also leading "Bob the burro" by the reins at the rear of the party.  Bob wasn't too put off by the descent into the dungeon.  It was decided he probably had some experience in the local mines.

At the bottom of the stairs they found a room with two doors and a ceiling covered with thick webs.  There was much discussion about putting the torch to the webs and before they could do it, a huge spider (who didn't see that coming?) descended to the floor and attacked the party.  It got one chance to bite the dwarf before it was despatched by the fighters.  A desiccated halfling corpse turned up in the webs (once they burned them) and he had a pouch of 15 gp.

They had further discussion and they decided to open the door nearest the entrance stairs.  The halfling heard angry shouting from behind the door and they decided to seek it out.

Once the door was opened, they could see a hallway with several doors.  One door was open to the hall and weak illumination emanated from the room beyond.  JD's halfling decided to investigate further and snuck down the hall.  He peeked in to discover two humans throwing dice in the corner.  Their weapons were sitting on the floor in an opposite corner of the room.  Sensing an opportunity, the halfling snuck in and stole the weapons, taking them back to the party.  Suffice to say that the two men were quite surprised when they couldn't find their swords upon being attacked by the party.  They were quickly neutralized before they could alert reinforcements.  A quick search revealed clues that the two men were brigands, based upon their style of dress, the neckerchiefs they wore and their black spear tattoos.

The heroes then split up in the hallway and decided to burst through the next two doors simultaneously.  They bashed the doors in and one group comes upon three more brigands; the other group encounters two.  RF's magic user stays in the hall ready to cast her spell, "Hold Portal", should anyone try to come out of the next door.

The battle of the two rooms goes longer than one round and the brigands start yelling for help at the top of their lungs...

RF's mage sees the latch start to move and she Holds the door.

The last door in the hall bursts open and two more brigands jump into the fray.  Pounding can be heard from beyond the held door.  Loud shouts of "Let me out!" and "What's going on out there?" can also be heard.

The battle is short, but RF's fighter is badly injured.  Before entering the last room and confronting the voice behind the door, the heroes minister to RH's fighters wounds.  With some wine and the binding of his wounds he felt a bit better.

Preparing to confront "the voice" the heroes ready all their pointy weapons and then RF's magic user opens the door.  They find the brigand leader with a crossbow pointing back at them... it's a standoff...

He offers to give them the key to the treasure hoard if they'll just let him go.  One of the characters shouts that they can just take the treasure when he's dead.  He says, who wants to die first (he is pointing a crossbow at them...) and there's an awkward pause...

Then the dwarf charges the bandit leader... he shoots... misses and is shortly thereafter dead.

The heroes find the treasure (and his very impressive shiny dagger) and move on down the hall...

(more to come)
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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bob the Burro

AAC 13, 9 HP #AT 1, 1d4 bite or 1d6 hooves

We started off using a cut piece of cardstock, but last night I mocked up an actual grey burro, thanks to the good folks at One Monk Miniatures.
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A Beginning...

Last night we played our first session of the excellent "Castle of the Mad Archmage" and I've decided to write recaps and notes about the adventures here.  A hearty thanks to Greyhawk Grognard for all his excellent work.  (Note: if you are one of my players, please don't download and read the module for yourself!  You will ruin all the great surprises!)

Spoiler Alert:  Secrets Shall Be Shared!

Don't read this blog if you ever plan on adventuring within those hallowed halls yourself!

You have been warned!
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