PC suicide

So Dick Dock's player got pissed off when he was wasted by a giant robot for thought-crimes.  The exchange went something like this:

1. Dick Dock states "Bank Inviolable?  That sounds like a challenge!"
2. I describe big doors, giant gold robots
3. D.D.: "I'm scoping them out"
4. I describe the mini-guns spinning up
5. Me: "What are you doing?"  D.D. "I'm checking out the robots"
6. I describe crowds screaming and running away.
7. Most other players describe running away and hiding
8. Me: "What are you doing?"
9. D.D.: "Looking at the robots"
10. I start counting down slowly from 5 to 1
11. Remaining players state they are fleeing
12. D.D.: "But I'm not doing anything!"
13. Me: "What's your AC?  You're hit, red mist, etc etc"

At the time I had no idea what that was all about.  There wasn't any need for PC death there... I figured I'd let the mind-reading robots be a bit slow to fire and the thief, looking for ways to rob the place, can run off.  But he just stood there.

So my theories:

a. Maybe he wasn't in the mood to put up with crap from NPC's.  That's happened before with him, and it gets him into trouble.  At first level you're not going to be pushing anybody around.
b. Maybe he felt like I was dicking with him on purpose.  Of course it's all published, just going by the material I wrote months ago.  Giant mind-reading psycho-killer robots in the bank.
c. Maybe he felt like there shouldn't be danger just walking into a bank, and that the home town should be safe
d. Maybe he perceived it as a contest of wills?  If so I missed that entirely at the time
e. Maybe something else?

I have had players get seriously bummed out on PC death before.  I'm not fudging dice, though - while it's nice to see the players succeed, if there's no penalty for failure what's the point?

This death was more like a PC suicide though.

I expect he'll be back at the next session - I'll know in 2 weeks.

The party also finally got the bug back for the sacrifice, so I tossed in some more gods stealing Nisus' thunder at the ceremony and bitching at Gutboy for wasting his time with such a minor goddess.  It's been 2 months or so of attempts to get that bug, I'm glad they're done with that.

The return expedition foundered almost immediately, with the giant centipede fight.  Mongo was taken out entirely for a 10 day stretch.  So much for a triumphant return to the dungeon.  I'm hoping they'll notice that the first level is a bit treasure-empty and head down to the lower levels.  No risk, no reward, people...

I almost introduced Dr. X - they went to see the doctor at the academy, so I rolled some dice.  1-2=good doctor, 3-4=incompetent hack, 5-6=Dr. X.  The dice were good to them, and they got the good doctor - cranky Dr. Howse.


Session recap, 9/27/2011

Netal the Elf (2)
Gutboy Barrellhouse the Cleric (3), his dog Rufus, and his henchman Serlo the Elf
Mongo the Fighter (2), and his henchmen Leroy Brown the Cleric
Richard "Dick" Dock the Thief (1), and his baby grunkie Bunkie

The party entered Denethix, hauling their giant pillbug in a cart behind them, and headed towards the Street of Temples.  Mongo and Gutboy began singing songs of praise to Nisus, and soon attracted a large following of commoners and holy men, and a dancing midget to lead the procession.  As the people sang and danced, the party passed around collection plates, netting some 20-odd gp.  The impromptu parade made its way up to the booth that held Nisus' Eye, and the party went in to consult with Nisus on when to hold the sacrifice.

Frustratingly, the God's Eye remained blank - so the party headed to the Grand Temple to arrange the sacrifice of the pill-bug as soon as possible.  The attendant in the vestibule, Mary, looked up Gutboy's reservation - it had come and gone three weeks ago.  Surprised, Gutboy asked to hold the sacrifice immediately - Mary summoned the high priestess Lunexia, who saw the large crowd chanting "Kill the bug! Kill the bug!" and decided to allow the unscheduled service.

Lunexia gave Gutboy a specially consecrated dagger to perform the sacrifice - the blade was polished to a mirror finish, and had two channels running down either side of the blade, with tiny pinholes in the channel visible near the hilt.

Lunexia:  "Use this knife to sacrifice the bug.  After it is dead, disembowel it, examine the entrails, and proclaim what you read to the assembly."
Gutboy:  "OK.  Netal, you want to do the gutting?"
Netal (enthusiastically):  "Sure!"
Lunexia:  "Are you mad?  That's sacrilege!  The gods would never accept something like him participating in the sacrifice!  You must do this yourself, Gutboy!"

The roles of elves in religious services clarified, Gutboy agreed to perform the sacrifice on his own.  The bug was brought in through the back entrance and placed on a platform in front of the 20' tall God's Eye.  Gutboy waited for the crowd to settle down, and then slipped the dagger between the chitin plates on the bug's head and into it's brain, killing it.  The knife came out covered with green bug-blood and a black oily substance.  Mongo quickly slashed the ropes binding the bug, and it unfolded onto its back.  Gutboy then lived up to his name, gutting the bug, and examined the entrails - they were covered with strange black designs, but whatever they were supposed to mean was unclear.  Gutboy waved Lunexia over to consult, and she agreed that they were meaningless.

Gutboy (to the congregation):  "The reading of the entrails is unclear!  This means we must be cautious!  Everyone, be careful - the entrails are uncertain!"

The congregation muttered to itself in concern - but then the God's Eye behind Gutboy filled with a swirling rainbow of colors.  The colors cleared, and the circular screen filled with images of crawling bugs.  Nisus' voice boomed out from the Eye:  "Behold, the glory of Nisus!  Much praise to her champions, Gutboy, Mongo, and Dick Dock!  All in the city shall be blessed with vermin from beneath the ground!"

The image then began shimmering, and was replaced by a man in profoundly filthy, stained clothes.  "I am Voil!  I find this sacrifice to be worthy of the gods!"

Mongo shouted "Praise Voil!"
Voil:  "And may all know the name of Mongo, brave warrior who has brought this sacrifice to us!"

The image faded, and the congregation began to line up for a free meal as temple attendant began carving out slabs of pill-bug meat and placing them on large cooking grills to either side of the sacrificial platform.  Gutboy handed out the collection plate, getting a meager 40 gp for his efforts.  The party, having concerns about the edibility of pill-bug meat, headed for the exit.  On the way, they were accosted by another attendant, Paul.

Paul:  "Ahh, Father Gutboy, an excellent service.  And you'll be paying the rest of our fee now, I'm sure."
Gutboy:  "Right.. that's 200 gp?"
Paul:  No, that's 1800 gp.  The 200 gp was your deposit."
Gutboy (handing Paul the 60 gp they had collected in offerings):  "Take that."
Paul:  "Ha, ha, very amusing.  Please, the 1800 gp."
Gutboy (handing Paul another 40 gp):  "There you go.  We're out of here."
Paul (restraining Gutboy):  "I must insist, sir.  You booked the temple, you have to pay."
Netal:  "We're going to have to go to the bank."
Paul:  "That's fine, we can do the transfer to the temple accounts there."

The group made there way to the Bank Inviolable.  Dick Dock found the name interesting - and said aloud "Bank Inviolable?  That sounds like a challenge!"  As they entered in through the 20' tall gilded doors, Dick Dock spied the two giant robots to either side.  They were made of gold and iron, and on their arms were a pair of mini-guns and rocket launchers.

Dick Dock began scoping them out.  As he did so, the two robots looked at him, and their miniguns began spinning up.  The other patrons in the bank noticed, and began screaming as they ran for the exit and overturned tables for cover. Dick Dock continued sizing the two robots up, unperturbed.

Mongo, Netal, Gutboy, and Paul fled in fear as the two robots leveled their mini-guns on Dick Dock.  He continued standing there.  As he said "But I'm not doing anything!"  the two robots fired, turning Dick Dock into a pale red mist.  Bloody gobbets of flesh were all that remained of Dick Dock and his grunkie Bunkie.

Mongo ran to the crater where Dick Dock had once stood. "No!  You kill Bunkie!" he shouted in grief.  He pointed at a bank manager who was rushing over, and yelled "You pay for grunkie! That was my grunkie!"

Manager: "We certainly will not.  This is what happens when you associate with scoundrels and thieves."
Mongo:  "You pay!"
Manager:  "You do not want to go there."

Netal began bending over to collect the misshapen remains of Dick Dock's pouch of gold coins, but the manager shooed him away.  "That's all confiscated - get away!  We'll use that to pay for the repairs to the floor."

Discouraged by the banking incident, the party settled up with Paul and headed back to Mongo's apartment to get drunk.  They began to party loudly, drinking first to the memory of Dick Dock, and then more loudly and more frequently to the memory of their beloved grunkie Bunkie.  All the noise attracted attention - there was a knock on the door.  Two women and a man introduced themselves as Chrissie, Janet, and Jack, their neighbors from the apartment downstairs.  They invited themselves in to join the party - several beers later, Gutboy and Chrissie went back to Gutboy's room for some privacy, while Janet sobbed inconsolably at Gutboy's door - "Chrissie should be mine! Mine!"

In the morning, Chrissie, Janet, and Jack were gone - all that was left was a messy apartment and several hangovers.  Determined to carry on, the party decided to round up the surviving henchmen and head to the dungeon.  Five pigs were purchased, and the expedition headed into the wilderness and up the slopes of Mount Rendon.

The dungeon was once again eerily silent as they made their way to the lair of the Morlocks.  They knocked on the door, and a morlock answered.

Gutboy:  "Can we speak to Bilibub?"
Morlock:  "Me Bilibub!  You forget who Bilibub is!"
Mongo:  "No!  No!  Is joke!  We know Bilibub!  We bring pigs!"
Morlock (eyeing the pigs hungrily):  "Pigs!  Good!  I take pigs!"

Bilibub the Morlock snatched the pigs' leash away and hurriedly dragged them back into the lair, slamming the door behind them without even a "good-bye."  Mongo wondered aloud what the morlocks could be so busy doing all the time.

Dismissing that line of thought, the party consulted their map.  Rather than head down to the 2nd level, they decided to try some unexplored areas of the second level.  They began following the 30' wide corridor that bisected the dungeon further west than they had previously.  As the reached new areas of the tunnel, they saw a pair of alcoves on the north and south wall.  The north alcove had an ancient organ made of bones (taken from human, morlock, goblin, and screaming freaks).  Nobody wanted to touch the grim instrument, so they headed to the south alcove, where they saw a door.

Mongo boldly opened the door, and the party entered a 20' by 30' room, with a crack in the ceiling at the western end.  Muddy water dripped from this crack, falling onto a large mound of dirt beneath.  The mound had three 6" wide holes in it.  Mongo took his crossbow and fired a quarrel into the mound - five giant centipedes spewed forth.  Gutboy futilely blessed the centipedes, hoping that Nisus would pacify the insects, but it did no good.  The bugs nipped at Mongo, and one bit his ankle through a seam in his armor, injecting him with a painful poison.  Mongo collapsed in agony, as his foot swelled up.

Deciding that magic was needed, Netal used his sleep spell on the centipedes, and they were quickly slain.  Mongo was in no condition to fight, however, as he staggered around on his poisoned foot, vomiting profusely.  The party decided to return to Denethix and try to find a cure for the poison.

The made their way out of the dungeon, and began the long slog back to civilization.  On the way, they heard the howling of wolves - they gathered together and waited for the pack to come, knowing Mongo could never outrun the animals.  The wolves attacked, one savaging the helpless Mongo, but a sleep spell and Gutboy's mace finished the threat off.  Mongo's wounds were easily healed by Gutboy's prayers, but he remained helpless due to the poison.

Once back in Denethix, the party made their way to the Grand Temple, and asked the attendant Mary to get someone to treat Mongo's poisoned ankle.

Mary:  "Ahh, yes, that is a very complicated ritual.  The gods demand a lot before they grant that miracle.  That will be 4,000 gp."
Gutboy (outraged):  "What? Are you kidding?  It's just a spell!"
Mary:  "The incenses, the dancers, it's a very involved ritual.  I'm afraid it's 4,000 gp."
Gutboy:  "Get me Lunexia!"

Mary left briefly, and informed Gutboy his request for an audience had been granted.  He was led back into the sanctuary, where Lunexia sat upon a chair upon the sacrifial platform, wearing nothing but her golden lobster-helm and golden lobster-claws.

Lunexia:  "What is it, Father Gutboy?"
Gutboy:  "I need a neutralize poison for Mongo."
Lunexia:  "Yes, the ritual is expensive.  The cost will be 4,000 gp."
Gutboy:  "It's just a spell!  Between you and me, we can just cast it!"
Lunexia:  "Certainly not.  The gods demand proper obeisance.  You may certainly pray on your own, if you wish, but the proper ritual must be performed."
Gutboy:  "Fine.  Do you know any doctors, then?"
Lunexia:  "Doctors?  Oh yes, at the Academy of Elevated Thought.  They're a scary bunch, but if you wish you may try them."

Frustrated, Gutboy left the temple, with the rest of the party and the piteously moaning Mongo in tow.  As they headed north up the Street of Temples, they heard a metallic voice shout from an identified temple to their left: "GUTBOY!"

Nervous, Gutboy edged towards the door - the voice kept shouting "GUTBOY!".  He looked inside, and saw a 3' wide God's Eye, filled with the image of a golden clockwork man.  Gutboy entered the temple, followed by the limping Mongo and Netal.


Mongo:  "Yes, Nisus is a worm!"

The image of Kiod faded away.  Gutboy hurried back to the temple, and asked Mary for their big book that described all the known gods.  Mary handed the Almanac of Deities to Gutboy, and he looked up Kiod.  He was the god of robots, and a well-regarded deity.  He was known to manifest at sacrifices of robots when the metal men sometimes wandered into the city from the wilderness.

Gutboy (disturbed):  "Mary, you sacrifice robots?  What if they're good robots?"
Mary: "The gods appreciate their sacrifice all the more!"
Gutboy:  "Do you ever sacrifice people?"
Mary:  "Oh, not very often, that's pretty unusual."

The admonitions of this jealous robot god were confusing, so the party decided to return to the original plan of finding a doctor.  They limped off to the Academy, and accosted a student, who brought them to the offices of Dr. Howse.  Howse was a bitter-looking man with a cane, who limped out to inspect Mongo.  He whacked Mongo hard on his basketball-sized ankle.  "What are you bring him to me for?"

Gutboy:  "He has been poisoned!  We need a cure!"
Howse:  "Here's your cure!" (whacking Mongo on the ankle again)  "Now get out!"
Gutboy:  "Wait!  What about the poison?"
Howse:  "Elevate the leg and get some rest for a few days.  Looks like you've been walking for miles on that thing.  Now get out, I've got serious issues to deal with!"

Mongo took Howse's advice, and within a few days he was right as rain.

Next session is Thursday October 13th.


Fat Grundle

81. Fat Grundle
The iron-bound oak door to this room has three rotten heads attached to it, each spiked through the mouth:  a troglodyte, a painted man, and a necromantic midget (which, in its state of decay, is easy to mistake for a child’s head).  The thick door is barred from the inside, and will take two turns to chop through.

Inside lives Fat Grundle (AC 6, HD 5, hp 18, #AT 1, D 1d10 (or 1d8 fire), MV (30’), Save F5, ML 8), a grotesquely oversized painted man, 9’ tall and weighing five hundred pounds.  His teeth rotted away long ago, and he has been fitted with steel replacements by Dr. Giggles.

Fat Grundle eschews clothes, preferring to fight naked – his ghost-white skin is as hard as boiled leather, and he sees no need for armor.  He wears a pit viper (AC 6, HD 2, hp 5, #AT 1, D 1d4 + poison, MV (30’), Save F1, ML 7) around his neck, and will toss it at opponents before wading into battle, swinging his great iron jug like a club (for 1d10 points of damage).

The rot-gut in Fat Grundle’s jug is highly flammable, and he may (25% chance per round) decide to take a swig and spew out flaming liquid at a single opponent (on a successful hit, the victim will 1d8 points of damage the first round and 1d8 more the second round).  He lights the booze by gnashing his metal teeth and creating sparks.

Fat Grundle is a mercenary, working for whoever will pay his price (100 gp per combat, or a barrel of booze).  He has nailed heads representing the three factions of the level to his door as a gruesome display of his neutrality.

The gigantic clown spends much of his time drunk or hung-over.  Consult the following table to determine Fat Grundle’s disposition.

Fat Grundle’s Sobriety
Roll 1d8 on the table below to determine Fat Grundle’s state of mind.
1.Passed out.  No amount of noise will wake Fat Grundle for another 1d4 hours.
2-5.Drunk off his gourd.  Fat Grundle is at -2 to attacks, but players receive a -1 bonus to reaction rolls.
6-7.Hungover.  Players receive +1 penalty to reaction rolls.
8.Inexplicably sober.

Should players approach with offers of booze, they will gain a -1 bonus to reaction rolls, in addition to any other modifiers listed above.

Fat Grundle keeps few belongings other than his snake and jug.  There is a wooden tub filled with fermenting molds, stinking of unwashed feet – hidden under the thick layer of scum in the tub are his collected savings, 652 gp.


Operation Mindcrime

So yesterday I got all nostalgic for some reason and bought a copy of Queensryche's Operation Mindcrime.  I got the CD from the BMI Music Club back in '88 when it came out and fell in love with it - I'd crank this up to 10 as I cruised around in my Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera.  That's how you get the babes, see.  Oh wait, no, that didn't work...  Anyhow it got stolen in college, though, and I never replaced it.

I've listened to it several times now, and while it is enormously cheesy (seeing Jessica Hahn in Penthouse prompts the hero to become a heroin-addicted commie assassin - some paraphrasing there, but that's about the heart of it) it is still tons of awesome.

How can I get this in the game?  Took some thought, because the revolution theme doesn't really work in a dungeon.  It works beautifully within Denethix, though.  Dr. X is one of the leaders of the Society of the Luminous Spark, and has made a highly addictive mind-control serum from the deadly poisonous Ambulatory Razor Plant.  Addicts are susceptible to a special command word while under the influence.

As the players become more prominent figures in the city, Dr. X will either attempt to recruit them to his cause, while trying to get them addicted to his serum - or send brainwashed assassins their way.

I'll need to gonzo that up a bit more, and fit in hooker-nuns.  I don't want to have too many subplots going on either - things can get too random to follow.  Right now I've got these loose ends to exploit, not sure if I need more:

a. Mongo's evil-temptation book
b. Morlock lust for human flesh
c. The malicious mirror has been sold to a merchant, who has sold it on.  The buyer is naturally displeased by the fact he can't get rid of it and will eventually track the party down
d. Divine intrigue between Nisus and other jealous gods, after the sacrifice goes down next week

I might use Krogo's death as the catalyst.  If he had been in touch with the Society and bitching about being forced into dungeons, they'll be wondering about his disappearance.

Or I could just roll some dice on my random tables and head off into a completely unknown direction.


Some reviews around the net, and status

So two more mentions of ASE, if you're on the fence on purchasing.  I think at this point everyone who reads this blog owns a copy, but if you don't, trust these guys and go buy one or two or seven:

The Mule Abides
Dragonsfoot Forums

The players finally have their giant bug out of the cavern.  I'm 99% sure they'll be scheduling the public sacrifice at the Grand Temple next session, so I'm coming up with new ways to mess with their heads.  Gutboy's player still hasn't wrapped his head around the notion of "serving all the gods," so I think I'll have 2 or 3 more gods start vying for the party's attention and giving contradictory orders.

Work on the second level is progressing, as I try to keep up with my players' progress.  It's a bit of a pain, since my maps are very non-linear - it's very hard to predict where they'll end up from session to session.  I'm also starting to think about the 4th level - I've got a growing list of weird encounters that require sub-levels, so there's going to be a lot going on there.  But I refuse to start mapping it out until I at least finish keying the second level and get a start on the third.

For those wondering about when the next bunch of levels are due, I'm thinking January or February.  The book will probably have levels 2, 3, and 4, depends on when I hit 80 pages.  At around 80 pages is the sweet spot for hiring out art without overspending the amount I'll take in.  If a book gets too big, I can't afford to illustrate.


Session recap, 9/14/2011

Netal the Elf (2), and his enraged pit-bull Sweetiepie
Gutboy Barrellhouse the Cleric (3), his dog Rufus, and his henchman Serlo the Elf
Mongo the Fighter (2), and his henchmen Leroy Brown the Cleric and Jimgar the Elf
Richard "Dick" Dock the Thief (1), and his baby grunkie Bunkie

Having put three to sleep, one with the pink gas, the party began wondering about how to move the one-ton insects.  Mongo, fearing for his safety if the bug should awake, hacked off the horns of the bug under the influence of the gas - this savagery didn't wake the monster, though.  Feeling a bit more secure, he then tried to figure out how to actually tie it up.

Remembering that the morlocks would just roll the bugs, the party decided that putting a few arrows into one of the other sleepers would make more sense.  Dick Dock climbed to the top of the marble building, while the other party high-tailed it back to the rope dangling from the ceiling.  Once they were out of sight, Dick let an arrow fly - it struck true, piercing one of the other sleeping bugs between its chitin plates.  The creature woke up angry and charged at the building.

Unable to climb the building, Dick let arrows fly at the thing until it curled up into a defensive ball.  Once this was done, he called out to the party to come back - fortunately, nothing hostile was nearby to hear his excited shouts.  Netal, Gutboy, and Mongo returned, and they tied ropes around the bug to keep it from uncurling.

The bug was rolled to the rope, the party climbed up, and they let the morlocks know that the time for hauling the bug up had arrived.  The morlocks came and stood around picking their noses as the party tried to figure out if the ropes would hold.  Finally, they asked the morlocks - "No, need more rope, more guys."  "Can you get us some?"  (eye-roll) "Fine, morlock get rope and more morlocks."

After some struggle, the bug was hauled up, the party bade farewell to the morlocks, and everyone began rolling the pillbug out of the dungeon.  A fine plan, until the first stairway.

There was much arguing about how to roll a 1-ton bug up a 10' stairway.  Finally, it was agreed that Gutboy should go ask the morlocks for some more help.  Mongo, Dick Dock, and Netal stayed to guard the bug while Gutboy, the dogs, and the henchmen headed back to the morlocks.

Gutboy followed the 30' wide corridor back to the morlock lair, and asked for more help.  The morlock who answered the door was extremely surly.

"No!  Where pigs?  Four pigs you say!  Pigs now!"
"We'll give you more pigs!  All the pigs you want!"
"No words!  More pigs!  Or people!  You bring people?" (eyeing the henchmen)
"Yes, people, we can get those later.  We'll get you whatever you want later."
"No!  You go away and bring pigs!"

The frustrated morlock slammed the door, and Gutboy and his crew began to make their way back.  As they came closer to the side passage that led back to Mongo and company, they ran into eight hungry fire beetles.  Gutboy tried to bless them in the name of Nisus, but the hungry bugs cared little for his piety.  They slashed Sweetiepie the pit bull into ribbons, and Serlo's sleep spell only put three of the bugs to sleep - so Gutboy and henchmen ran for their lives, deeper into the dungeon, hoping to reach the presumed safety of the morlocks.  Running by the door to their lair, Gutboy pounded on it, and then ducked into the next door after.  Not quick enough - the beetles savaged poor Jimgar, and he fell to the floor, bleeding.

Gutboy slammed the door shut, and listened in horror as the beetles savaged Jimgar outside.  As he stood there waiting for rescue, hoping the morlocks would come out and deal with the fire beetles, the door at the other end of the corridor opened and three corpses shambled in - blades protruded from their eyes and hands.  They began slashing at Bad Leroy Brown, while Rufus whined piteously in fear.  Gutboy dismissed them in the name of Nisus, but only one of the corpses took heed - and Bad Leroy Brown's attempts to dispel the dead were completely ignored.  In a complete panic, they ran back out and past the fire beetles, fleeing for their lives.  Fortunately, the beetles found the scent of decaying flesh more to their liking, and engaged the walking corpses while the Gutboy and friends escaped.

Meanwhile, back at the bug, Netal, Mongo, and Dick began to suspect something was wrong.  Netal and Mongo decided to go searching for Gutboy, while Dick was adamant that he would stay behind with the bug.  He hid behind a pillar in the pitch black while Mongo's torch receded into the distance.

Netal and Mongo found the sleeping bugs next to Sweetiepie's savaged remains, and quickly put them to the sword.  They then saw a torch coming towards them - it was Gutboy.

Reunited, the party returned to the beetle.  Short one dog and one henchmen, they tried to puzzle out how to get the bug up the stairway.  Eventually, they settled on a scheme that involved wedging it up the stairs using poles as levers, while other party members pulled it up with ropes.  With much effort, this succeeded, and they continued rolling it through the dungeon, to the next challenge - the 100' long staircase that led up to the gatehouse level.

Once again, there was much heated discussion - despite his miniscule intelligence, Mongo hatched a plan involving sliding a pole through the center of the rolled-up pillbug to act as an axle, and then tying ropes into a bridle looped around the axle.  Again, with much effort, the bug was hauled up, and the shorter sections of stair after that proved to be no problem.

Outside, the party began the long trek back to Chelmsfordshire, Retennis, and then Denethix.  The pillbug made traveling slow, and they were forced to make camp in the woods twice.  The second night, they were interrupted by a pair of bumbling moktars.  The moktars managed to knock Bad Leroy Brown unconscious, but they both stumbled in the remains of the campfire and were handily slain by Mongo and Netal.  A few prayers from Gutboy healed Leroy's wounds, and the party safely made it back to civilization.

Once in the village of Chelmsfordshire, the guards questioned the party about what they were doing - "A quest from the gods!"  "Figures. Just like a god to want a giant bug."  There was some haggling with a farmer to purchase a cart and mules to move the bug, various insults involving the mules and the farmer's daughters, but after an exorbitant fee the party were en-muled and en-carted, and soon back to Denethix.

Next session is Tuesday night Sept 27th.


Selling yourself into slavery...

I try to anticipate what my players are going to do.  Selling themselves into slavery came as a shocker, though.  Not sure where Dick Dock's player was heading with that one, but when he found out he couldn't "buy himself back" he changed tack.

They did a tiny bit of exploration, and ran into two rooms I had published here earlier: Hall of the Underlords and Lightning in a Bottle.  They didn't bother to look through the eyes of the skulls to see the Treasure of the Underlords - very sad, I was hoping that a) they'd finally connect the dots on the crystal skulls, since they missed finding the blue skull on the first level, and b) they'd flail around uselessly trying to figure out how to get into that treasure room, because that would be funny.  For me.

Nobody grabbed at a silver rod in the Lightning in a Bottle room either.  The players are starting to get canny.  That's good, it means it's time to up the threat level with the traps.  Of course, next session they may go all reckless on me.  Here's hoping!

Finally, the little side quest to get a giant bug for sacrifice looks like it might come to a successful conclusion.  That assumes nothing shows up to eat their henchmen at the top of the well.  So far, secret dice rolls have been in their favor.


Session recap, 9/7/2011

Netal the Elf (2), and his enraged pit-bull Sweetiepie
Gutboy Barrellhouse the Cleric (3), his dog Rufus, and his henchman Serlo the Elf
Mongo the Fighter (2), and his henchmen Leroy Brown the Cleric and Jimgar the Elf
Richard "Dick" Dock the Thief (1), and his baby grunkie Bunkie

It was a fine morning, as Netal woke to find no cursed mirrors and no dead hobos draped across him. He headed off to the Street of Students to find his fellow explorers Gutboy and Mongo. Heading up to their apartment, he passed a pair of girls, one homely and one beautiful, getting ready for a job - but there was no time to stop and chat. Straight up to his friends' apartment he went.

A brief discussion was held, and plans were made. They needed some muscle if they were going to lift one of those giant pillbugs out of the cavern using ropes. Then there was much discussion about finding giant bugs in a much safer way, by purchasing already-captured giant insects.

Off they went, meeting Dick Dock on the way. Once they arrived at the Street, they accosted a slaver in a green mask, leading a few branded slaves around on leashes. The conversation immediately leapt off the rails.

Dick: "So, how do I become a pit fighter?"
Slaver: "I'm sorry... you want to become a slave?"
Dick: "I want to fight something!"
Slaver: "A pit fighter? Well, sure, I'd be glad to buy you. You look like a scrappy sort. Your family will do well with the money I'll pay!"
Dick: "How much money?"
Slaver: "Oh, we'll say 100 gp. That will feed them for quite some time, yes?"
Dick: "And how do I buy my freedom back?"
Slaver: "What? Why would anyone free a slave? What are you talking about?"
Dick: "Never mind. Where can I go for pit fighting? Do they fight animals?"
Slaver: "Uhhh... sometimes. It's more interesting for the pit fighters to fight each other, though"
Dick: "Any giant bugs?"
Slaver: "No, of course not. That's not very exotic. Occasionally a velociraptor, but not bugs."

Dismayed, the party decided to harass the animal vendors of the Bazaar Incomparable once more, hoping against hope that giant bug vendors had set up shop. Off to the Bazaar they went, and straight to the nearest animal vendor.

Gutboy: "Hello! I'm looking for a large insect..."
Vendor: "Yes, you were here last week. I don't have any."
Gutboy: "Do you know where..."
Vendor: "No."
Gutboy: "Do you know any..."
Vendor: "No. I still don't know. Please, do you have any real business? Perhaps you'd like to buy a baby grunkie?"
Dick: "Wait, a grunkie? Are they dangerous?"
Vendor: "Of course not! They're fantastic pets when they're babies! Wonderful and adoring!"
Dick: "When they're babies?"
Vendor: "Well, a bit aggressive when they get older. Just flush them down the toilet, though, and get a new one. Only one gold piece!"

Dick, entranced by the six-inch tall cross between a lizard and a monkey, forked over a gold, and then another gold piece for a tiny red fez and little red vest. Naming the creature Bunkie the Grunkie, he began a futile attempt to teach it to pick locks.

As Dick played with his grunkie, Gutboy began searching for any shop that would sell drugs. Drugs that would put things to sleep. He led the party around in circles, finally stumbling upon a tent with a promising sign: "Mind Spices of the Lanthanide Wastes." Several shelves were lined with jars of a brown vegetable-substance, and an old man with a long flowing beard welcomed them in.

Old man: "Ahhh, customers! Come for the Mind Spices, I see!"
Gutboy: "Mind spices? What do they do?"
Old man: "They bring the most wonderful ecstasies! They let a man project his mind into the unseen dimensions. Oh, the sights you will see!"
Gutboy: "We're actually looking for a drug to make things sleep"
Old man: "Ahh, you are in luck today, sir! The mind spices will grant visions of the far realms, but they also leave a man completely comatose"
Gutboy: "Great! How much are they?"
Old man: "Only 800 gp for a jar"
Gutboy: "Ohhhhh. And how many men will that make sleep?"
Old man: "Oh, one man. He must eat all the spices in the jar"
Gutboy: "Eat? Oh. Well. And how much for a bug that's 10' long and 5' tall, weighing 2000 pounds?"
Old man: "Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! All the spices in this tent!"

Realizing they didn't have nearly enough money to purchase the mind spices required, they tried another tack:

Netal: "Where do these come from?"
Old man: "The Lanthanide Wastes. It's right on the sign, Mind Spices of the Lanthanide Wastes. You know, with the horrible insect men and the giant Fusillade Beetles"
Netal: "How do we get there? Can we get these spices?"
Old man: "Yes, they are in a desert, far to the south. If you're going to go spice hunting, I will gladly purchase any that you harvest"

But the short and brutal life of a spice prospector was not for them - they had deadlines to keep, and giant bugs to subdue in the dungeon. They continued hunting around the bazaar, looking for drug dealers - and eventually came upon a sign reading "Gases of the Forbidden Vale", hanging over the entrance to another tent. Inside were shelves filled with Mason jars, each tinted a different color. The vendor here was another old man, with a beard sculpted into twirling shapes. He was semi-transparent, which did not seem to bother the party in the least.

Mongo: "We need drug to put things to sleep"
Transparent vendor: "Well! What a surprise! It just so happens that I've got a jar of gas that will do that. It's miserable stuff, doesn't bring any ecstasies at all, just puts the man who breathes it into a deep and unwaking slumber. I've got enough to put twenty men to sleep. It was just brought to me this morning by a man who wasn't really here."
Gutboy: "A man who wasn't really here? What does that mean?"
Transparent vendor: "Ahh, you haven't partaken of the gases yet. You can't know until you do. It won't make sense."
Netal: "How much for the gas?"
Vendor (bringing out a large mason jar, tinted pink): "400 gp. You won't be disappointed"
Dick: "Do you have any other gases?"
Vendor (pointing to a small jar of glowing neon green): "Why yes, this will transport you to the rings of Saturn. Absolutely beautiful! The ice crystals glimmer like diamonds! Partially transport you, of course. Not all of you!"
Gutboy: "Saturn? No thanks. What's your cheapest gas?"
Vendor: "Well, yes, I've got some Brown Jenkins here, that's very cheap"
Dick: "Will co-eds use it?"
Vendor: "I don't see why not..."
Netal: "No. We don't want that."
Vendor: "Of course not! It's not from the Forbidden Vale, it's just the cheap stuff... you want the real deal. Perhaps an entry-level gas? This one will bring mild ecstasies..."
Gutboy: "Do you have any gas that will make people obey you? Do stuff you want them to do?"
Vendor: "Ahhh. No, no gases to do that. That's not what the gases do. What you want is the Vermillion Nudibranch of Diminished Inhibition. They come from the river, wonderful creatures! I know a man on the Street of Lesser Men who can sell you this, just tell him I sent you. His name is Swifty, here's his address..."
Dick: "Will co-eds eat it?"
Vendor: "It's possible..."

Netal purchased the jar of pink gas, and the party rounded up their henchmen from the various bars, flophouses, and brothels that they were known to frequent. A pig was purchased as a bribe to the Morlocks, and the party set forth to the dungeon.

In the woods between the city and the slopes of Mount Rendon, the party ran into a group of four goblins. Startled, but not hostile, the two groups eyed each other.

Dick: "Can any of you speak our language?"
Goblin: "Yeah, hello. We not hunting people, just walking, really."
Dick: "You interested in gold?"
Goblin: "Yeah, sure, gold, give gold"
Dick: "You come lift stuff, we give gold"
Goblin: "No, gold now, we come lift"
Gutboy: "Where did you come from?"
Goblin: "Come off tree, no goblin around, we go walking, start new tribe"
Gutboy: "What? Off a tree? That makes no sense"
Goblin: "We come out of sack, on tree! Stupid human! No goblins around, we start new tribe"

There was a brief argument about whether to hire or kill the goblins. The goblins decided this job opportunity wasn't worth the effort or risk, and marched off in disgust. "Stupid humans!"

The remainder of the journey passed uneventfully, and the party entered the dungeon. They safely made their way through the dusty, deserted corridors to the lair of the Morlocks. They knocked on the door.

Morlock: "Ahh, mongos back!"
Mongo: "We bring pig!"
Morlock: "Great! Pig! I take, good-bye!"
Gutboy: "Wait! We need help"
Morlock: "What you want?"
Gutboy: "You hunt those bugs in the cavern? How do you get them up the well?"
Morlock: "Throw many spears at bug, it roll into ball. Then roll ball to well, tie rope, and pull up"
Gutboy: "And it's still alive when it rolls into a ball?"
Morlock: "Yes, taste more delicious that way!"
Gutboy: "Are there any other entrances to the cavern?"
Morlock: "Don't know. Go down well, is safest. No bad painted men"
Mongo: "Are there other ways into the cavern?"
Morlock: "Yes, you go north, see other big cave, lizard monsters. Very bad! Go west or south, see doorways"
Gutboy: "We need help getting the bug up after we catch it. Will you help?"
Morlock: "Me check with chief"

The negotations for help hauling the bug took some time, but eventually a promise of four pigs was accepted for help in lifting a bug up out of the well. The morlock told the party to come back when they had the bug ready - the Morlocks are busy people, and don't have time to stand around staring at wells.

Ropes were tied and lowered down the well again - and the intrepid four descended, leaving henchmen and dogs waiting at the mouth of the well. They descended to the bottom, and began walking along the western edge of the cavern, heading south, hoping to find a set of stairs leading upwards so they could avoid the hassle of the well.

The passed by the strange pit they had sighted earlier, that ended after 20' in a gray void. Mongo tied an iron spike to the end of a rope and lowered it down - he could clearly see the spike below dangling in the gray void, so whatever the gray was, it wasn't fog. He then retrieved the spike, untied it, and tossed it in. It fell silently, until it grew so small that it could no longer be seen.

Unnerved, the party decided to press on and save the gray pit for another day. They came to a corridor cut into the west wall of the cavern. Entering cautiously, the party found a 30' square room, with a door at the opposite end - and eight zombies, with knives protruding from their eye sockets and their wrists. Gutboy presented his holy symbol of Nisus, but either his faith was weak or Nisus was angry with him, and the zombies swarmed him, slashing with their wrist-blades. Mongo, Netal, and Dick ran for their lives out of the room, and Gutboy quickly followed, bleeding from several knife wounds. Fortunately, the zombies did not pursue, and Gutboy's fervent prayers caused his wounds to partially close.

Heading south along the cavern wall again, they found another tunnel, heading south. Netal led the way into this room - the walls were carved with bas-relief images, each having a title underneath:

- An empty frame, except for these words carved at the bottom: “The Last Underlord, Whose Rule Is Yet To Come.”

- A goblin in armor, attended by robed, man-sized goblinoids with swollen heads. These words are carved beneath: “Uligub, Lord of the Labyrinth. His mind lives still.”

- Three robed bearded men of advanced age. The first man holds a loaf of bread, the second has a belt around his waist from which dangle severed hands, and the third is cutting through his robe and abdomen to reveal his bowels. The image is titled: “The November Gentlemen. Living or dead, all kneeled before them. Devoured by darkness, they shall not return.”

- A spider in a vast webbed hall. It is titled: “Morguilos, Spinner of Lies. Fire burned lie and spider alike.”

- A section carved with skulls. Below the skulls are carved the words “The Treasures of the Underlords.”

- A man-shaped figure made of spikes and blades, surrounded by corpses. The words carved below it read: “The Blade of Kharg. He slew all who fought with sword, but was laid low by the song of Lem.”

Dick decided to try out some of his fancy thieving skills, and adeptly climbed the skulls. After perching at the top of the bas-relief and looking at the top of his fellows' heads, he climbed back down and began searching the room for potential traps and secret doors. Netal and Gutboy joined in - and Gutboy noticed a gap in the stone surrounding the exposed entrails of one of the November Gentlemen.

Dick placed Bunkie the Grunkie upon the entrails, but the six inch creature just clung to the stone. Dick put the grunkie back on his shoulder, and tried pulling the entrails - nothing happened. He gave the entrails a push, and something did happen - the north wall became lit up with colorful circles of light, slowly changing color from blue to green and back again. Looking around, the party saw that the eye-holes of the sculpted skulls had opened, and a light was shining from behind them. Dick released the entrails, and the eye-holes snicked shut.

Deciding to leave the mystery of the lights alone for a while, Mongo led the party west into another chamber. This one had a latticework of silver rods in its center, supporting a glass jar. Five of the silver rods terminated inside the jar - the rest wrapped around it, surrounding it. The jar was otherwise empty.

Another mystery - but Gutboy called for focus - there was mission, and that was to capture a giant bug! Further exploration was abandoned, and the party returned to the cavern, and headed towards the giant pillbug herds.

For the first foray against the pillbugs, the four adventurers were sighted as they approached, and six bull pillbugs charged at them, chasing them into the jungle. Mongo took a horn to the gut, but eventually the pillbugs gave up the chase.

Second foray: the party snuck up to the pillbugs, and Mongo shot his crossbow at the closest. The shot was true, and the bolt sank up to its fletching between segments of the pillbugs armor. It immediately rolled itself into a ball. The rest of the pillbugs took no notice. Having no idea how to safely roll the pillbug away from the herd now that it was a ball, the party retreated.

Third foray: Netal, Dick, and Gutboy stood behind the marble building in the center of the cavern, while Mongo snuck up on the herd. Mongo then began throwing rocks and jumping up and down. Four bull pillbugs became enraged, and chased after Mongo, who led them by the party's hiding place. Netal cast sleep upon the bugs as they ran by, and all but one fell asleep. Mongo ran around in circles til the last pillbug gave up the chase, while Gutboy took the jar of sleeping gas, held his breath, and opened it underneath the head of one of the sleeping pillbugs. The sleeping bug inhaled the pink gas entirely.

So this session ends with the adventurers having (presumably) successfully incapacitated a live giant pillbug. Next session is in one week, Wednesday September 14th.


Head Exchanger

65. Head Exchanger
Along the north wall of this room is a leather chair with stainless steel straps at the neck, wrist, and ankle locations.  Above the chair, a metal armature sticks out of the wall, terminating in an array of drills, saws, and pincers. Next to this contraption is a locked stainless steel cabinet, 8’ tall. The cabinet is fastened securely to the wall and floor, and will not move.

There is a dial on the side of the cabinet, with several settings:  the numbers one through ten, and the word “Off.” It is currently set to “Off”.  There is also a light above the dial.  While set to “Off,” the light is unlit.  If the dial is set to a number corresponding to a head in the cabinet, it will glow green.  If it is set to a position in the cabinet with no head, it will glow red.

Should anyone sit on the chair (or be forced into it), and the dial is set to a number (as opposed to “Off”), the straps will clamp down firmly, holding the subject in place.  The metal armature will then swing down, blades will spin and messily cut off the top of the subject’s head, pincers will remove the brain, and a pair of shears will snip off the remainder of the head at the neck.  The pieces of the head will roll into the subject’s lap, while a second set of pincers reach into the cabinet from the top.

If the dial is set to a spot in the cabinet with a head, the pincers will remove a new head, dripping with preservative fluids, the light changing from green to red as the second head is lifted away.  The new head will be sawn open, the brain dropped in its new home, and then head and brain will be reattached to the subject’s body.  The entire procedure will be complete in under five seconds, and the subject, although enduring excruciating pain, will not suffer any loss of hit points. A hideous scar with thick black stitching is left around the subject’s neck where the new head has been attached.

If the dial was set to an empty spot, the second set of pincers will come back empty.  The brain will be placed on the subject’s neck and re-attached, but without any head.  While alive, the subject is blind, deaf, and mute, and will suffer seizures and hallucinations if the brain is touched.  If water and pre-chewed food are poured down the esophagus, the subject can live indefinitely in this horrible state.

The top of the cabinet has a small sliding hatch that will automatically open and close to allow the armature access to the heads. Other than that, the key is required to open the cabinet doors.  If opened, ten head-jars full of preservative fluid will be revealed.  New heads may be placed in the jars and attached to subjects, if desired, once the cabinet is open. The heads of prior subjects of head-transplantation are ruined, however, as the skull tops have been cut off, and the machine will not stitch them back together.

The following table lists the heads initially present in the cabinet:

Heads and Their Effects
1.Incredibly handsome human male headSubject’s charisma increased by 1d4 points, if male (not to exceed 18)
2.Giant fly headSubject now unable to speak
3.Troglodyte headSubject’s charisma decreased by 1 point due to nasty odor
4.Oversized fat human headIf subject isn’t already fat, charisma decreased by 1 point
6.Medusa’s headSubject’s gaze turns people to stone
7.Screechman headSubject has to scream constantly to see clearly via echo-location.  -2 to hit if not screaming.
9.Gill-man headSubject can breathe water
10.Incredibly beautiful human female headSubject’s charisma increased by 1d4 points, if female (not to exceed 18)

Note that dwarves and elves who have their heads exchanged will lose their wide-spectrum vision, unless the new head is dwarven or elven.

The key to the cabinet is inside the desk of Dr. Giggles, in room 89.  Should players unlock the cabinet (or break it open), and the medusa’s head is still present, they will need to save vs. petrification or be turned to stone.