2014-08-16

review: Dwimmermount

I've been looking forward to Dwimmermount for a long time now, and it's released!  I wasn't actually part of the kickstarter (I almost never participate in those things), so haven't read the first draft, or been part of the drama, or any of that.  All I care about is having another big dungeon out there, because I love big dungeons.


So - conclusion first - I really like Dwimmermount.  It's really big, and it's full of pulp science-fantasy flavor.  It is NOT gonzo science-fantasy - nothing like my own ASE that way.  But you can see the shared roots, with floating space techno-gods, interstellar travel, metallized skeletons of unknown purpose, etc etc.  So, James and I apparently read all the same books and watched the same cartoons.

What Dwimmermount is, is classic D&D.  It uses tons of book monsters and book magic items.  There's custom creations in there, but the majority of it is straight out of the rulebooks.  It's also the product of play - my understanding is that James had a really brief set of notes and maps, and he made a lot of things up as he went along.  This book is the actualization of that experience.

The side effect of this, is that this book is the realization of James' and his players' play styles.  You can feel how his campaign worked and what his players were focused on as you read through it - it was an investigative, world-building campaign where the details emerged through play.  That is a strength and a weakness here - to really get the most out of the dungeon, the players have to invest themselves in figuring out the details of the world.  There are little margin notes that point out where history can be gleaned and sold off to sages - but it's a bit understated.  I think the DM will need to create & use some NPC's to showcase this in the early levels to make sure the players understand that this is worthwhile - the text as written doesn't really cover that, presumably since James' campaign went that direction all on its own.

After the first couple of levels, the factions get all up in the players' face and the historical bits should fall into place much easier.  This is very much a dungeon of factions rather than set-pieces and goofy traps - there's a lot of those, but the big deal here is interacting with the factions and playing them off each other.  The factions and their motivations are very well covered.

Other stuff:

Dungeon maps - very cool
Pulp background - very cool.  It's got astral travelers founding subterranean cities, giant robot-gods, lakes of magic gasoline, really it seems yanked from a 50's "B" sci-fi movie
Wilderness maps & overview - a bit bland, but it's not really the focus of the book, so not much of a knock on it either
New monsters - a lot of these are copies of Labyrinth Lord AEC, presumably stuck in because of concerns about being "Labyrinth Lord" compatible w/o needing the AEC.  Doesn't hurt anything, but could've been left out
New magic items - again, a lot of these are from AEC

I'm a terrible reviewer, others (Bryce Lynch, Gus L.) are much better at explaining why they like & dislike a product - but I've given it my best shot.  Overall, I like Dwimmermount quite a bit.

2014-08-13

Review queue: Dwimmermount and more

Got a bunch of stuff on the review queue now:

Dwimmermount (like it so far for pulp flavor, have read thru level 1, monster ratio is a bit lower than the one-in-three I personally like [EDIT - nah on further review it's just about perfect] - clearly requires getting players involved with the factions to get maximum utility)

Bottle City (like parts, but it's clear that Rob Kuntz ran a lot of this extemporaneously, it needs fleshing out or lots of improvisation, but haven't read thru it 100% yet)

F1 The Fane of Poisoned Prophecies

F3 Many Gates of the Gann

AA#12 The Barrow Mound of Gravemoor

AA#23 Down the Shadowvein

AA#24 The Mouth of the Shadowvein

2014-08-05

session recap, 7/27/2014

CAST
--------
Gutboy the Cleric (6), his henchpeople Trezgar the Elf (3) and Bunny the Thief (3), and his blink dog Rufus II
Pai Mei the Wu-Jen (4), and his henchmen "The Doctor" the Time Lord (2) and Paula Abdul the Battle Dancer (2)
Rolf the Dwarf (3), and his henchman Piston Honda the Sumo (2)
Simon the Halfling (3), and his henchmen the Unnamed Mariner (2) and Roger the Halfling Guardian (2)

Back in Denethix, Pai Mei once again sought out some hired help that he could leave to die in a dungeon.  Interviewees:

- A snickering man in plate mail, promptly called out as an anti-paladin and told to take a hike
- Skeletor the Death Master, rejected on the grounds that he couldn't contribute any meaningful firepower
- Walter White the Alchemist, rejected on the same grounds
- Paula Abdul the Battle Dancer, hired!

Skeletor, Walter White, and the anti-paladin stormed off angrily, vowing to form their own adventuring party.

While Pai Mei did his hiring, Gutboy interrogated the hinge-headed mind crystals.  They identified themselves as a staff sergeant and two sub-corporals, and demands angrily that they be returned to the hinge-headed outpost.  Gutboy used his persuasive skills to try to drive a wedge between the sergeant and his underlings, but no opportunity came up to exploit this division.

The party headed off to the dungeon.  Only a short recap here:

a. The cod-men had left a sign outside the 3rd level entrance, demanding 50 gp per adventurer.  They were bemused that there was no one to actually collect at the gates to the dungeon, and tossed the sign into the woods.   The cod-men toll collectors were positioned a few rooms in, and let the "Mongos" pass for free, as they were well known to the cod men.  They did pass on the information that two other parties had come through already.

b. They came across Skeletor's newly-formed adventuring party - Skeletor, Walter White, the anti-paladin, and three thugs named Moe, Larry, and Curly.  They easily killed Skeletor, Walter, and anti-paladin, and "hired" the thugs at swordpoint.  Moe took the anti-paladin's plate mail (with sculpted muscles and nipples embossed on the armor)

c. They began exploring the large 30' wide flooded tunnels, and collecting the faces from the statues at the end of each hall.  One of the statues had a shark-tooth necklace - when Moe was coerced to put it on, it began whizzing around and contracting, quickly sawing Moe's head off

d. They found a room with a pair of pedestals, each sporting a pair of hand grips, and an array of tubes, wires, and mirrors between them.  A sign read "Test your Mental Strength".  Pai Mei went up against Curly - Curly's head began to smoke, and he quickly fell to the floor twitching.  Pai Mei felt a surge of mental energy from his victory, and was aware that he could unleash a deadly mental blast now.

e. They took the faces to a hall containing eight identical statues to the ones they had already found, and a ninth statue of a "great founder" holding his palm out, full of dice.  They screwed the faces into the statues, and one of the dice began glowing pink.  It was quickly shoved into someone's backpack.  Yoink!

f. Wandering monsters aplenty - vampire piranha, sharks, a toymaker wizard with a suitcase full of evil sock monkeys, and an adventuring crew called "The Green Hands" on account of their green gloves.  The wizard's bowler hat and suitcase were confiscated.  The Green Hands had a half dozen slaves with them that they used for setting off traps - these were provisionally "rescued".  An amulet with a three-lobed eye was looted from one of the Green Hands.   The last thug, Larry, and Roger the Halfling Guardian were lost in combat.

g. The back passage was taken to the outpost of the hinge-headed.  Stopping to investigate a room on the way, they fought and slew the Lucrephage, the terror of the hinge-headed - a hideous monster that sucked treasure from the party.  Gutboy's glittering armor was peeled of its emeralds and gold filigree, and one of the hinge-headed mind crystals was absorbed, before the beast could be killed.

h. They spoke with Section Chief Burtelix of the hinge-headed outpost and negotiated a round-trip pass through the domain of the Hinge-Headed to Bartertown, Under-Miami, and beyond, in exchange for returning the two surviving mind crystals and slaying the dread Lucrephage.

i. Upon their return to Denethix, the party identified the pink die as a "Stone of Retribution" - upon the death of an ally, they could throw the stone at the corpse and the death would be visited upon the killer instead, and their comrade returned to life.  They also sold the amulet of the three-lobed eye at the Bazaar Incomparable - a shady looking gentlemen observed the transaction and was visibly upset.

j. The former slaves were released to return to their families, or wherever else they came from

Gains:  28 gp, Stone of Retribution, Amulet w/ 3-lobed eye, Necklace of Decapitation, paisley suitcase, bowler hat, the gold dust from the filigree that once adorned Gutboy's armor, 2 suits of plate mail (one with ridiculous embossed nipples and muscles), impractical lacquered trident, two daggers
Kills: Skeletor, Anti-Paladin, Walter White, 3 vampire piranha, 3 dungeon sharks, 4 "Green Hands" adventurers, toymaker wizard, evil sock monkey, the Lucrephage
Losses: Three stooges, Roger the Halfling Guardian

2014-07-02

session recap, 6/29/2014

CAST
--------
Gutboy the Cleric (6), his henchpeople Trezgar the Elf (3) and Bunny the Thief (3), and his blink dog Rufus II
Pai Mei the Wu-Jen (4), and his henchmen "The Doctor" the Time Lord (2) and Father Conan O'Brien the Barbarian Cleric (2)
Rolf the Dwarf (3), and his henchmen Nvaran Azimuth the Thief (2) and Piston Honda the Sumo (2)
Kalimar the Ranger (3)

Gutboy, Rolf, and their newfound bosom companion Kalimar departed the great city of Denethix, seeking riches in the great dungeon buried beneath Mt. Rendon.  The offices of the tax collectors were being slowly rebuilt in the ruins of Chelmsfordshire - great blocks of granite had been dragged into position, and workmen and bureaucrats labored under the summer sun.

The trip to the dungeon was uneventful - no great ankhegs bursting from the ground or perytons swooping from the sky, seeking their still-beating hearts.  Maybe next time.  The 3rd level dungeon entrance remained abandoned, until they reached the cod-man lair.  They were greeted by their allies, and led to the northern guard post, where Chief Pyceen awaited them.

Pyceen: "It is time for you to kill Hinge-Headed!  This will happen now!"
Pai Mei: "We need to scout first.  And were-wolves.  You hate those, right?"
Pyceen: "Don't know these things!  You kill Hinge-Headed!  It is time to keep promises!"
Pai Mei:  "Well, you can send some of your men along to swim with us across the lake..."
Pyceen: "Ha!  No, no.  The fish are too big!  You will do it now, not us!"

The party agreed (once again) to slay the hated Hinge-Headed, and enter the flooded passages in search of a Hinge-Headed patrol to ambush.  They first stopped at the statue of a pregnant woman they often passed going to and from the Cod-Man lair - they had previously unscrewed the detachable face.  Kalimar was intrigued, and his curiosity led to the decision to hunt down some of the other statues that seemed to be at the end of every one of the wide corridors.

Some time later, they reached the end of a previously unexplored tunnel, with a statue of a man wearing an ancient schoolboy's uniform, sporting devil horns, and carrying a bass guitar.  Inspection revealed his face screwed off, and the bridge of the bass was hinged as well - pushing on it opened a small cavity containing tablature for the ancient song of power Back in Black.  Clearly this was intended for the Metal Axe, currently held by the party's long-absent partner Razoe.  The party took both face and tablature.

A wide archway off this tunnel led to a section where the water ran faster and frothed.  Pai Mei probed with his extensible aluminum pole, and discovered stairs leading 20' down under the surface of the water.  Having no way to safely navigate the depths, they headed north, towards another unexplored tunnel and statue.

At the end of this tunnel, they found a statue of a man in a poncho with a wide brimmed hat and a noose around his neck.  The face screwed off, and was promptly removed - and further investigation revealed the noose was a separate sculpture, not attached to the statue.  The thief Nvaran was ordered to examine it - as soon as he touched, it turned to dust - and then he grabbed wildly at his back as a hemp rope crawled up the back of his shirt and wrapped around his neck.  He struggled wildly, too wildly for Rolf to get close enough to cut the noose, so Piston Honda was ordered to beat the choking thief into unconsciousness.  Before too many blows were landed, Nvaran put his hands up and calmed himself.  "I can't breathe!" he said - "and I don't need to.  Weird.  Am I in Heaven?"

The party took this in stride, and headed to the underground lake to take a closer look.  Kalimar tossed a grappling hook to the top of the stairs, and they used the attached rope to climb up without worry from the waters pouring down from above.  They probed the edge of the lake, thinking they'd just send Nvaran to scout ahead underwater - but then they realized that they had no light to give Nvaran that would work submerged, and that the phosphorescent flashes off in the distance were probably underwater predators.

A bit more planning - time to go back to the cod-men and get the canoe they had left on their last expedition.  The cod-men dutifully dragged it out, and the party headed back to the stairs, where they had left the grappling hook and rope.  Luck was with them - a patrol of three Hinge-Headed and five Neanderthals was busy inspecting their rope, backs turned to them.  More luck - Gutboy quietly waded towards them ("Sorry I was late!") just in time to join the battle.

Trezgar unleashed his sleep incantations, sending the Neanderthals face first into the shallow water that flooded this level, and the rest of the party shot arrows and swung blades at the hinge-headed until they were dead.  Rolf decapitated one of the can-headed musclebound freaks, and lifted the hinge - within was not a head, but a hand, clutching a glowing green crystal.  Opening the other two head-cans revealed a blue crystal and purple crystal, respectively.  Rolf decapitated those two, packed away the crystals, and they headed back to the cod-men to deliver the grisly hand-head-can trophies.

Chief Pyceen was overjoyed that the part was actually, finally, keeping their promise to exterminate the Hinge-Headed who threatened the third level.  His men dragged in a 6' long cave fish, and began cutting parasite-laden chunks off and offered them to Gutboy.  He made a face, and said "Can't stop to eat, we've got to explore that lake.  Maybe later."

A brief foray was made into the side tunnel with the white water - it curved away, rather than towards the lake like they had expected.  They gave up on this, and later consultation with the cod-men revealed that it only led to the whirlpools near the dungeon entrance.

So, back to the lake - this time being surprised in the tunnels by four goblins breathing through reeds, who rose up from the water around them.  The little gray humanoids shook their spears menacingly, but didn't attack.

Goblin:  "Humans go now!  Our dungeon!"
Gutboy:  "But we want to help.  We'll kill the hinge-headed!"
Goblin (considering):  "Hmm.  Human kill hinge-headed.  Do it now!  Go!"
Gutboy:  "Aren't you going to help?"
Goblin:  "No!  Go!  Go!"

The semi-hostile goblins were in no mood to fight, and slunk off into the darkness.  The party did notice these were dressed in moldy rags, and had severe fungal infections on their skin - they weren't anywhere as near well-off as the silver-suited goblins of the deceased Grolikus the Hive-Mind.

Back up the stairs to the lake - the unbreathing thief Navran was chosen to paddle the canoe, and Pai Mei and Father Conan O'Brien join him.

Trip 1 - Piston Honda holds 200' of rope tied to the canoe's stern.  The canoe paddles along the wall as far as it can, discovering a yellow buoy floating in the water.  Party determines that they need to paddle around without rope holding them back.  A 13' long albino catfish circles the canoe on the way back but swims away as it reaches the stairs

Trip 2 - Canoe goes a bit farther, finds a rocky shore to the south, where the map had a symbol they thought was a windmill.  Pai Mei and Father Conan O'Brien disembark.  Rufus sees their torchlight from the stairs and blinks over.  Flounder-like bioluminescent dungeon sharks follow Nvaran the thief in his canoe back to the stairs, where they attack briefly before being swept down into the dungeon by the currents

Trip 3 - Kalimar and Doctor Who are ferried to the southern shore.  9' long bioluminescent squid trail the canoe.  Nvaran also gets out to help explore the southern shore.

The party on the southern shore followed the cave wall, and found an opening leading into a second cave, where three rock cairns were piled up (8' long, 4' wide, 3' high).  Wooden markers had been placed onto the cairns, with strange glyphs carved onto them.  They turned around to head back to shore, and saw a faint yellow light off to the east.  Walking back to the shore, some larger shape eclipsed the yellow light from view.  Rufus blinked back and forth to the stairs, relaying details to the reluctant Gutboy and Rolf.

The party then headed towards the yellow light.  It turns out it was a glowing yellow crystal skull, mounted into a niche in the southernmost of four large pillars.  The pillars curved inwards, and supported a great stone circle from bronze chains.  The circle was 12' wide, and suspended 10' above the floor.  The air within the stone circle shimmered.  A separate stone stairway led up to the circle.

To the south of the circle stood two rough shacks, nailed together from old planks.  A quick examination revealed old cots and crates labeled in unknown glyphs, containing what looked like moldy old rations.

Father Conan headed up to the circle and dropped some stones through the circle.  As expected, they disappeared.  He then stuck his head through - it too disappeared from view.  He stood back up, his head returned as he withdrew from the shimmering air, and reported seeing a land covered in purple vegetation, with an indescribable sky.

Kalimar knotted a rope and dropped it through the portal, and then climbed down.  Once through, he found himself standing upon a rocky hill, next to a nearly identical set of four pillars and stone ring - the only difference being that there was no niche or yellow skull.  The hill was surrounded by a purple jungle, with jagged peaks visible in the distance, and the remains of an ancient road a few miles away.  Hanging in the sky was a massive gas giant, with a wide vertical ring around it.  Above the opposite horizon was a tiny red sun.

Kalimar climbed back up the rope and reported his findings.  Rufus then blinked away to inform Rolf and Gutboy on the stairs, and they decided they should head over.  More blinking and messaging ensued, and Nvaran paddled his canoe one last fatal trip back.

100' from the stairs, seven serpents emerged from the water around the canoe.  Trezgar tried another sleep incantation, to no avail - Rolf fired his plasma rifle, missing - and Gutboy let loose with a burst from his machine gun, the recoil forcing the barrel up and causing bullets to ricochet off the ceiling high above.  The serpents descended on the helpless thief and tore him into five bite-sized chunks, holing the canoe in the process.  The sated serpents then sank beneath the surface of the lake.

With no way back, a certain amount of panic ensued.  Rufus was used as a go-between, and the stranded half of the party decided to tear open the rock cairns and see if something useful could be found.  The first cairn torn open revealed the woody corpse of a dried cactus-man, covered with horrific wounds.  The second cairn had a crate, containing a plain-looking sword with a red button on its hilt (claimed by Kalimar), a golden statuette of a cod-man lifting a barbell, and a goblin head preserved in a jar of formaldehyde.  The third cairn contained a blue human skeleton.  They also removed the yellow skull from the niche as a precaution, and briefly experimented with the green crystal skull they had been carrying (nothing but sparks when placed in the niche).

Out of options, the party decided to build a raft from the two rough shacks.  They easily disassembled the poorly built structures, and with Kalimar's wilderness experience were able to build a sturdy 10' by 20' raft, with a door as a rudder.  They paddled this with planks towards the head of the stairs - an easy task considering the current was dragging them there anyways.

As they neared the stairs, all but Kalimar were surprised by the splashing and flapping of a school of giant flying vampiric piranha.  One of the creatures bit into Conan and began taking its blood meal - Kalimar swung with his sword, depressing the red button as he hit the fish.  High voltage electricity surged down the blade, electrocuting both the fish and Conan, leaving the fish still feeding and Conan sprawled unconscious on the raft.

As the party recovered from the shock of battle, more fish flung themselves at Conan, and he was drained white within seconds.  Another fish landed itself upon Pai Mei's neck, bringing the wizard to his knees.  At this point, the raft had drifted within range of Rolf and Gutboy's weapons, and they, along with the survivors on the raft, were able to kill off the vicious fish.  Gutboy used his healing magic to restore vigor to Pai Mei, but poor Father Conan was beyond human help.

The party decided they'd had enough, and decided to return to Denethix with their loot.  Gutboy paused at the lair of the cod-men, and incautiously showed the golden statue of a cod-man lifting a barbell to Chief Pyceen.

Gutboy:  "Do you know anything about this?"
Pyceen:  "Yes!  That's mine!"
Gutboy:  "What? No, I mean do you know if it does something..."
Pyceen:  "It's mine.  I dropped it."
Gutboy:  "No you didn't.  We found it out by the lake."
Pyceen:  "It's sacred!  That is very sacred to our people!  Give it to me!"
Other cod-man:  "What is it"  "Oh, sacred, yeah, sacred."

Gutboy counted the cod-men surrounding them, did some mental math, and grudgingly handed Pyceen the statue.  Perhaps strains are beginning to form between the Mongos and the Cod-Men...

Once back at Denethix, Trezgar began the hard work of identifying the arcane properties of the remaining loot.  The galvanic sword was not magic in its own right, but had a small store of power - enough for five more electrical attacks.  Kalimar resolved to find a way to recharge his new toy.   Trezgar also investigated the yellow crystal skull - its magic was not readily identifiable, but was instead linked to the dungeon beneath Mt. Rendon.  The goblin head in a jar was a worthless and grisly non-magical specimen.

The colored crystals from the cans of the hinge-headed proved a different story.

Trezgar:  "Unbelievable!  The arcane matrices - the hyperstructures - they seek to look back into me!  The crystals are intelligent!"
Blue Crystal:  "Yes, fool!  You have stolen the minds of the Hinge-Headed, and you will pay!  Return us immediately!"
Gutboy:  "They talk?"
Blue:  "Oh, we talk.  We command!  Return us, or your torments shall be legendary!"
Rolf:  "Maybe ransom them"
Gutboy:  "Or smash them"
Purple:  "No!  We are worth valuable ransoms!  Our people will pay gladly!"
Blue:  "Smash the green one!"
Green:  "Hey!"

Gains:  Galvanic sword, three minds of the Hinge-Headed, goblin head in a jar, two more screw-off statue faces
Kills:  Three hinge-headed bodies, 5 Neanderthals, 6 giant flying vampiric piranha
Losses:  Nvaran Azimuth the Thief and his noose of not-breathing, Father Conan O'Brien, the golden statue of a cod-man lifting a barbell

2014-06-30

Bottle City!

The new printing of Bottle City from Rob Kuntz & Black Blade Publishing showed up today:


I've looked at it for about 30 seconds.  Kind of funky layout, lots of commentary sections peppered throughout the book.  Lots of unkeyed rooms too.  I'll figure it all out after I go through it in more detail, I'm sure.  There's an early "errata" section where they note corrections to various things, including the map.

So there's some value being placed on this as a historical document over use (where the errata would be integrated, map corrected, etc).  Haven't gone through it in any serious way yet so I don't know how that might impact actually running it.  My players are a bit too low a level right now anyhow.

2014-05-29

session recap, 5/18/2014

CAST
--------
Gutboy the Cleric (6), his henchpeople Trezgar the Elf (3) and Bunny the Thief (3), and his blink dog Rufus II
Pai Mei the Wu-Jen (4), and his henchmen "The Doctor" the Time Lord (2) and Father Conan O'Brien the Barbarian Cleric (2)
Simon the Halfling (3), and his henchmen the Unnamed Mariner (2) and Roger the Halfling Guardian (2)

Too many henchmen failed abysmally at living during the last expedition to the Anomalous Subsurface Environment, so the recruiting began anew.  Fortunately, there are plenty of veterans of the Great Zombie War now looking for profitable and violent employment.  The interview process went something like this:

Various "Oriental Adventures" type classes from Dragon Magazine: "Never mind, we withdraw our application, we're too complicated too run"
Father Conan O'Brien: "Ever hear of a Barbarian Cleric?  You have now!  Look, sword!  Let's do some prayin' and killin'!"
Roger the Halfling Guardian: "Why, cousin Simon, I never thought to meet you here!  Of course I'll guard you as you crawl through a stinking hole of death! It's my job!"

Then, plans were made - silver bullets and weapons were acquired in abundance to deal with the Werewolf Frat Party, and a canoe was also purchased, for subterranean paddling.  And off to the dungeon, and through the still-friendly Lair of the Cod People.

Cod-Man: "What's that thing you're carrying?"
Pai Mei:  "It's a boat, so we can cross that lake"
Cod-Man:  "Why don't you just swim?"
Pai Mei (pointing at neck):  "No gills"
Cod-Man:  "HAHAHA!  Well, try not to DROWN in your BOAT! HAHAHA!"
Cod-Man #2:  "Good luck breathing, Mr. I-Need-Air!"

The cod-man chief exhorted them once again to murder the Hinge-Headed - empty promises were made, and the party headed back to the Tomb of Elvis.  They passed the last of the Toothmen, and gave him the promised mushroom pie - "THIS IS AWESOME!  I love you guys!  Seriously!" - and down they went to the tomb.

They reconnoitered the area, and found that the door that Pai Mei had wizard locked had a hole clawed through it - and beyond was an unconscious, presumably inebriated, presumably werewolfian, naked man.  Father Conan was sent in to slit his throat with a silver sword - and the werewolf gurgled his last.

The group then turned their attention to the Tomb of Elvis.  They arranged themselves carefully to deal maximum damage to the smoke chimps, and prodded the canopic jars with a 20' long pole.  The smoke chimps arose, and were slaughtered, controlled by Bunny through the use of the Sword of Unlife, and repelled by Gutboy's nihilistic non-faith.  Once the area was clear, Father Conan slid the lid off the sarcophagus, revealing a mummified corpse with a brittle pompadour atop its head, a gold amulet around its neck, and dog-headed golden staff clutched in its hands.  All three were absconded with, and the triumphant party headed back to town ("Oh, cod-men, yeah, we need a second canoe.  THEN we'll get those hinge-headed. You can totally trust us.")   The party briefly engaged with a 20' tall giant grub that reared up from the corn-fields around Chelmsfordshire, and slew it without breaking a sweat.

Once in town, Trezgar studied his ancient magics of identification, and probed the mysteries of the tomb-loot. The pompadour ripped from the mummy's head gave its wearer the power to charm an onlooker with a sneer and thrust of the hip.  Striking an opponent with the dog-headed staff would both damage with its magical puissance, and likely turn the victim into nothin' but a hound dog, barkin' all the time.  The amulet was just an expensive bit of jewelry, promptly sold off.

All thoughts of canoes were then discarded - Gutboy was hot to take control of the BAGGER 288 with the remote control device he had installed.  He first approach his patron Davrik Lerdingfast about assisting them:

Gutboy: "It's time to take control of the BAGGER 288, but we need a little assistance.  He who controls this will control... well... everything!  I believe agreed on one million gold for delivering it to you."
Davrik:  "Yes... I had and do agree... but I'm coming with you.  Meet me on the Street of Lesser Men tomorrow morning, west side of the city.  I'll have my men prepare the expedition immediately."

The morning arrived, and Davrik had not skimped on his preparations.  He had a dozen outriders mounted on horses, two iguanadons loaded with supplies and a half-dozen wranglers to lead them, and he himself sat behind the wheel of an ancient convertible Lincoln, with bull's horns mounted to the grill.  Another half-dozen manservants and butlers, and Professor Smithen from the Academy, were also in the retinue.

Gutboy: "Oh... hey.... can we borrow some horses?"
Davrik (disgusted):  "Seriously?  You don't have horses?  Very well, I'll send my man for some.  But really."

Another hour delay, and more horses were brought for the party.  The expedition rode west for several days, past Mt. Rendon and the megadungeon beneath, until they came close to the blast-zone where the globe-shaped alien ship had been destroyed.  Davrik directed:  "We'll head southwest through the woods until we hit the remains of the green moon.  We should be able to pick up the tracks of the machine there."  The car was left with a few riflemen to guard it, and a howdah erected atop one of the iguanadons for Davrik to ride in.

As the expedition headed closer to the blast zone, the vegetation began to take on a sickly green glow.  As they struck camp, Davrik headed off with half his outriders to do some hunting, while the party twiddled their thumbs with the servants.  As they waited for Davrik's return, five mutant deer burst into the camp, glowing bright green, and bearing razor-sharp antlers, fangs, and curved claws instead of hooves.  The party handily took down the deer that charged them, and then assisted the outriders with the remainder.

Davrik soon returned, bearing several mutant deer carcasses of his own.

Davrik (to manservant):  "You!  Skin these things!  We're going to eat well tonight!"
Gutboy:  "I don't think that's wise.  These are radioactive!  It's poisonous!"
Davrik (revealing amulet making rapid clicking noise beneath his shirt):  "Yeah I know, this amulet from the Scientists tells me the same!  Don't worry, it'll protect us!"
Gutboy:  "I don't think that's how it works.  That's poison.  But you could perhaps make trophies and give them to your enemies."
Davrik:  "Fine.   You there!  Cut the heads off these things and wrap them up!"

The reached the blast zone without further danger - although the squirrels chasing along in the trees were also glowing bright green with nasty little fangs.  The blast zone was a two-mile-wide crater of glowing green glass.  Across the crater they could see a quarter mile trail where the BAGGER 288 had cut its way through the forest, heading north.  Gutboy insisted on riding around the edge of the crater instead of crossing it - passing, as they did so, an intact fragment of the alien spaceship, with a closed hatch, which was resoundingly ignored - and followed the trail into the plains north of the forest.  The trail cut across the road again, and led to the smoking stump of a wizard's tower.  Clearly, the BAGGER 288 had not been idle.

A day later, they saw smoke in the distance, and the bulk of the BAGGER 288. Davrik pulled out his binoculars, glanced through, and handed them to Gutboy and the rest of the party.  Looking through, they saw the BAGGER 288, and horrifyingly, at least 100 skeletal-looking robots carrying lasers.  The BAGGER and robot army were approaching a windowless tower of black basalt, the concentrated laser fire barely scarring its surface.

Gutboy hatched a plan.  He put the remote control device in Rufus' mouth, tied his ring of invisibility to Rufus' tail, and then slid it over the end of the dog's wagging tail.  The invisible Rufus then blinked forward towards the BAGGER 288 and bit down on the remote control - but nothing happened.

Gutboy yelled at Smithen - "Why didn't that work?"  Smithen took a look through the binoculars - the antenna they had left on the exterior of the BAGGER 288 was gone.   Gutboy surmised that the antenna had been destroyed in the nuclear blast when the alien ship exploded.

Gutboy watched more through the binoculars as the BAGGER 288 closed on the tower.  Its giant cutting wheel easily sliced through the base of the black tower, and the edifice collapsed in a heap.  Black shadows oozed from the rubble and rushed along the ground towards the robots, but laser fire from the ground troops eliminated the shadow-things before they struck a single blow.  Gutboy then started in alarm, as he saw a score or so of the robots turn and begin marching towards him and the rest of the expedition.  "Time to go!" he shouted, and they turned south.  The robots quickly gave up pursuit, and the expedition, after a further week's travel, finally returned to Denethix.

Davrik:  "Well, that was an unmitigated disaster.  I could've been hunting on the Ceratopsian.  Absolute waste of time."
Gutboy:  "Well, you got those deer heads..."
Davrik:  "Fat lot of good!  Look at them!"

Davrik opened the trunk of his car, revealing a pile of rotting, glowing deer heads.  They were clearly unsalvageable and completely unsuitable for display.  He had his men dump the radioactive remains in the middle of the street, and angrily drove off, leaving a crowd of beggars fighting over the poisonous, meaty head-scraps.

Gains:  Was-Hound Staff, 2500 gp gold amulet, Wig of Lordship
Kills:  One werewolf, four canopic apes, one ankheg, five radioactive deer
Losses:  Shockingly, none