Now, the Anti-Paladin Can See in the Dark

That last session went really well.  The party met Fat Grundle in all his 9' naked glory, and he tossed poison snakes at them and blasted them with flaming-booze-breath, which is what adventure is all about.  I'm pretty sure this was Tolkien's original draft of the Balrog fight.

Mongo used his d30 roll attempting to one-shot Fat Grundle - and rolled a 1.  Nobody messes with Fat Grundle. Panic set in soon after. Once again, a player got poisoned, and once again they relied on Dr. Giggles to save their bacon.  They keep getting lucky with those Dr. Giggles rolls... eventually they'll blow the roll, though, and it will end in gruesome death.  I've managed to stick Netal with a giant smelly clown foot though, so it's all worth it.

George the Cleric dropped 3 points in wisdom as well, so it was a pretty sweet night as far as player-mangling goes.  You win some, you lose some.  His player was kind of bummed, he hasn't really internalized that in Labyrinth Lord stats are pretty meaningless - 14 wisdom doesn't have a lot of advantage compared to 11.  He likes to play with all the fiddly bits though, so he'll have to learn to take the bad with the good.

The last great triumph was the anti-paladin gaining wide-spectrum vision.  Just what they need - a treacherous henchman who can now see in the dark.

I suppose it's in bad form to crow over your players' setbacks, but they walked out alive and richer than before, so I'm going to wallow in the hilarity of it all regardless.

OSR Booth at GenCon

The OSR booth is coming back to GenCon in 2012, this time run by Bill Barsh of Pacesetter Games.  Both ASE1 and the upcoming ASE2-3 will be at the booth, so the evil-clown-dungeon niche will be well-represented.


Session recap, 2/23/2012

Netal the Elf (3), his henchmen Brad the Fighter (1) and Snidely Whiplash the Fighter(?) (1), and his pit bulls Timmy and Jimmy
Mongo the Fighter (3)
George P. Burdell the Cleric (1) and his henchman, Slick Eddie the Thief (1)
Gutboy Barrellhouse the Cleric (3)

In our last session, the party had begun exploring the lair of the Painted Men.  Having dispatched the incompetent and surprised security guards, they headed south, further into the lair.  The southern corridor ended at a long east-west hallway, with many other corridors and doors off it.  Choosing the first, they entered into a large room filled with rusty metal chairs, surrounding a black metal pillar with a red button on it.

Mongo pressed the red button with his extending 20' pole, and a woman's voice said "Welcome to the Learnatorium.  Select a topic to continue."  Four blue squares with writing upon them appeared above the pillar:  Evolution, Arithmetic, Anomalies, and Basic Accounting.  Speaking the topics aloud brought the following lectures:

Evolution: A scientist explained that Lamarckian evolution appeared to be the rule in the Anomalous Subsurface environment, and displayed a blind cave centipede that had developed eyes after being kept in a light-box.  The hologram cut out, and returned with the same scientist, who expressed concerns about the pale white children being born after the parents set up a circus for their entertainment.  It cut out again, and the scientist appeared, bloody and broken, warning that under no circumstances should people be living below.

Arithmetic:  A young woman appeared, asking the party simple arithmetical questions.  After a few answers, she explained that no, 3+3 equals 7, and the party were very stupid children.

Anomalies:  A scientist appeared, and listed some interesting topics:  the Lazarus Chamber on the 2nd level, the Fountain Room on the 3rd level - and then cut out with a "RAM ERROR", whatever that means

Basic Accounting - Incredibly boring, the party ordered the playback to stop

Moving on to the next room, they found a messy dining room, the table covered with the remains of painted men and other humanoids.  Netal peeked through an archway into the room beyond the kitchen, and nearly took a cleaver to the face - the cook had heard them enter!

There was a brief fight, and Mongo circled around behind the cook to deliver the killing blow.  Netal eagerly gutted the cook, and was finally rewarded for his ghoulish habit - inside the cook's stomach was a half-digested hand with a golden bracelet.  The party then searched the cookpots, and found that one was filled with gold and a potion in a clay bottle.

Going deeper in the lair, and according to their map, closer to the big-top, they encountered a series of bathrooms and showers.  These rooms were mostly full of clown-feces, and one had large blue mushrooms.  George cut the head off one of the mushrooms and stuffed it in his backpack, hoping to sell it for profit at a later point.  They also encountered several painted men wandering the halls, and slaughtered the increasing numbers of clowns with little problem.

Mongo began to be nervous about the proximity to the circus, and fearing being dragged in to watch The Show, they decided to retreat out of the lair and explore some other tunnels off of the 2nd level entrance.  They followed one short tunnel that ended in a door, to which three heads were nailed:  a painted man, a troglodyte, and a child's head.

Netal and Mongo began hammering on the door with their fists - and were greeted with a hearty "F*** off!"  They continued banging and taunting, and the door suddenly swung open - revealing a completely buck-naked, nine foot tall painted man.  He had teeth of gleaming steel, a massive jug of hooch in one hand, and a viper wrapped around his neck.

Netal quickly cast sleep upon the monster - and his snake promptly began napping.  The giant hurled the sleeping snake at Netal, waking it as it bounced off his chest, while Mongo attempted a mighty blow to fell the fiend - but luck was on the monstrous clown's side, and the blade merely scratched him.

Annoyed, the giant took a mouthful of booze from his jug, clashed his steel teeth together, and the spark ignited the moonshine as he spat it into Mongo's face.  Meanwhile, Netal faired no better, as the snake bit him in the leg, injecting him with lethal poison.  Gutboy cast his delay poison on Netal, and the henchmen unleashed the pit bulls - who attacked the giant and snake as the party ran for their lives.  Netal tossed back the potion they had just found, but there was no effect - whatever it did, it wasn't curing his poison.

Clearly, there was only one way to save Netal - another trip to Dr. Giggles.  As the party ran off, they heard a door slam, but the dogs continued barking and snarling, so fighting was still going on behind them.  No matter - the party had to get to Dr. Giggles quickly.  As they finally reached the office, the nurse exclaimed "You again?  Would you like to sign up for our frequent patient program?  Four visits and the fifth is free!"

Dr. Giggles ran out and escorted Netal to the OR.  He pulled out his sharpest bone saw, and immediately cut Netal's leg off.  As Netal rolled around in excruciating agony, the good doctor wondered aloud about where he would get a replacement.  Glancing at the floor, he saw the remains of the painted man he had slaughtered for his lungs a few weeks ago - ahh well, fresh enough to give it a try!  The doctor crudely sewed the clown leg and its massive clown foot on to Netal, and went over the stitching with a humming high-tech medical device.  "As good as new!" the doctor exclaimed.

After much praise from Gutboy, the doctor escorted the party to post-op, and bid them farewell.  They quickly hurried from the dungeon, heading back to Denethix to rest and spend their hard-won treasure.

Back in town:

a. Mongo discovered that Janet, Jack, Chrissie, and the Ropers continued to be missing.  He spoke to upstairs neighbor George, who hadn't seen the Ropers either, and told Mongo to knock it off with all the late-night chanting.  This was, understandably, disturbing.  Downstairs neighbor Larry also complained about all the chanting in Mongo's apartment.
b. Netal discovered that his foot smelled, pretty bad.  Soap isn't helping.  Other than the stink, and the back pains caused by the uneven legs, and the need for special giant custom-made clown boots, the leg-replacement-surgery is a perfect success
c. George manages to sell his mushroom cap to a fungus merchant for 2 sp
d. Gutboy finds a few coppers left in the donation bowl in the booth of Nisus, and pockets them.  The God's Eyes in the booth remain blank

The party also visited Frondgar, the elven sage, and discovered:

1. They had found a bottle of liquid labeled "Orange Water from Fountain, Level 3, Thaumaturgically Preserved." on level 1, many months before  Frondgar found that both the bottle and liquid inside were magical.  The bottle could be used to preserve the magical qualities of waters from a certain fountain, and the liquid would act as a potion of healing
2. The bronze jug that Netal had been carting around for months (taken from a room full of misty arches) was also magical - if filled with water, and the water poured into basins within a certain room, magical effects would occur.  He couldn't be more specific than that

Armed with this new information, the party headed back to the dungeon, making their way to the old misty-arch room they had found on the first level many months ago.  There were mists of many colors, red, yellow, orange, black, white, blue, green, and purple, and beyond each were rooms with interesting murals.  One by one, they experimented with pouring water into the basins in each of the rooms.  The jug was refilled with water from the barrels left in the morlock lair.

Orange - the room beyond was painted with orange poppies.  Mongo went in, poured the water, and became stoned out of his gourd.  He walked out, and suddenly Snidely volunteered to give it a go.  The second pour into the orange room did nothing.

Black - the room beyond was completely black.  Snidely poured water into the basin, and his eyes became jet black orbs, like an elf's or a dwarf's - and he could see with their wide-spectrum vision

Blue - the room was painted with an undersea scene.  Netal poured, and nothing happened.  He shoved his head into a water barrel to see if gills would appear, but was too nervous to try breathing in the water

White - the room was painted with clouds in a blue sky.  Brad poured, and he began flying around in the air

Purple - the room was painted with veins of various purple shades.  George poured, and the veins of purple color coiled around him, acting as mystical armor

Red - the room was painted with flames.  Netal poured, and a marble-sized ball of fire fell to the floor.  Netal picked it up and put it into an empty vial

Yellow - the room was painted with a mural of a party, with the guests recoiling in horror from a figure in a tattered mask.  George poured, and the mural came to life - just as the King in Yellow entered the party.  The horrible visage of the King caused George to lose 3 wisdom points

Green - the room was painted with a jungle scene.  Mongo poured, and a monkey leapt from the ceiling and clung to his back, howling incessantly.  Eventually Netal cast sleep, and they slaughtered the monkey as it snoozed on Mongo's shoulder.  This totally harshed Mongo's mellow.

The party headed back out of the dungeon - and found that most of the effects disappeared.  The exceptions were Snidely's wide-spectrum vision and George's wisdom loss, which appear to be permanent, and the fate of Netal's ball of fire remains unknown - he didn't check.

Gains: 520 gp, 100 gp bracelet, unknown potion (quaffed by Netal)
Kills: 5 painted men, 1 painted man cook
Losses: pit bulls Timmy and Jimmy


Level 3 in CC2

Wow, this one took a while, but the level 3 map has been converted into CC2.  I need to do a bit more with the underground lake-cavern, maybe drop some islands or a few more side caves in - it's pretty bland right now.  Other than that, though, it's pretty much good to go.

The map is too big to print to a single page, so I'll have to split it into pieces in the printed module.  Photobucket can't deal with the high res image, so it's a bit illegible, but click to embiggen anyways:

And here's some detail on the tunnel section to the west:

And here's the entrance from the outside:

And here's the underground lake:


Just Say No

Just Say No To Variegated Eye Leeches

Some more art from Brian "Glad" Thomas...

Variegated Eye-Leech

Chance of Addiction: 75% per use
Cost: 300 gp

These colorful leeches subsist on ocular fluids, injecting a powerful narcotic as they consume the user’s sight.  A leech will feed for 1d4 days.  The leeches, for some reason, will only feed in pairs, with one on each eye.  One-eyed men are thus unable to experience the ecstasies of eye-leeches.

Visions of the future, that May or May Not come to pass
Leech-Sight - while the leech feeds, the user has 30’ of vision into the ethereal plane
Blindness - it’s hard to see through a leech sucking out your eye juice
Eye Humor Loss - 1 hit point per day is lost to the leeches

:  Addiction is caused simply by permanent blindness, as the leeches suck out the last of the ocular humors.  Once this occurs, the user is compelled to acquire more eye-leeches to make use of their leech-sight.

Withdrawal:  Withdrawal is likewise simple - if a blinded eye-leech addict is unable to acquire the leeches, he cannot see.



Here There Be Gill-Men

Factions on the third level:

a. Moktars!  They hold the entrance to the third level of the dungeon, and are in a bitter conflict with...

b. Gill-Men!  These fish-men have been distracted by their Moktar-fight, which takes some pressure off the...

c. Hinge-Headed!  They hold the main stairs leading down to the 4th level and their Basalt Ziggurat.  They're making a deal with the...

d. Hive-Mind!  Acting through its mind-dominated goblins, it manipulates the gill-men and hinge-headed for its own mysterious ends

This level will also introduce wights.  Probably soggy, waterlogged wights, haven't decided yet.  But I do want some level-draining goodness here, just to hear the anguished cries from my doomed players as their precious levels are absorbed.

Anyhow, here's some stats for the Gill-Men:

No. Enc: 1d6 (4d12)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90’ (30’)
  Swim: 120’ (40’)
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: 2
Damage: 1d6/1d6
Save: F3
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: XIX
XP: 65

Gill-men are the product of de-evolution – humans regaining fishy attributes as their DNA regresses to a more primitive state. While impossible according to 21st century evolutionary science, gill-men are a reality in the subterranean realm of the Anomalous Subsurface Environment.

These humanoids are covered with green fishy scales, and have webbed and clawed hands and feet. They can breathe air, but they must periodically (once per hour) moisten the large gills on the sides of their heads or suffer -2 on attack rolls due to dehydration. This sensitivity to dryness also causes them to take double damage from fire-based attacks.

In combat, gill-men attack with vicious swipes of their clawed hands.


Moray Snail

Here's one of the critters living in the partially-flooded 3rd level of the dungeon.  A question for my readers:  did somebody already make a monster like this?  I think it's all me, but I've read a lot D&D related material, so it's always possible that I picked it up somewhere else subconsciously...

Moray Snail
No. Enc: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 2
Hit Dice: 5
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d12
Save: F5
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: V plus shell
XP: 500

Moray snails are giant eels with six crab-like legs, living inside intricate shells. The eel head may strike up to 10’ away from the shell, withdrawing back inside after a bite. If the head and neck is somehow prevented from withdrawing, it has an effective AC of 8.

The bite of a moray snail is venomous, and its victims must save vs. poison or be paralyzed for 1d4 turns.

The shell of a full-grown moray snail is 5’ in diameter, and is banded with a rainbow of bright colors, overlaid with iridescent arabesques.  Undamaged, it is worth 500 gp to a collector.

When necessary, moray snails may scuttle about on their crab-like legs, but they prefer to wait in ambush for prey – easily done in the dark, but any party with a light source should have no problem spotting the moray snail’s brightly colored shell.


Finns going through ASE

So, if you're up for a bit of Google Translate (or speak Finnish), check out Jonas's blog:  Vankityrmiä & Louhikäärmeitä

He's running his group through ASE1.  First session and the fatalities are already stacking up...


They're all Third Level

Except for the new PC, they're all third level now - which means time to subtly encourage a downward migration.  A random encounter on the way to the dungeon resulted in "human traders" - heading down from the mountain? Why?  Oh, the mok war band needs supplies for their dungeoneering.  They visited the entrance and thought better of it (probably due to my hectoring on how they ignore past mysteries they've discovered), so the third level remains unexplored.  It's coming though...

Fun facts from the last expedition:

a. Gutboy is incensed that his former henchman, Slezgar, has the temerity to go in the dungeon on his own.  I suppose it's like putting two bettas in one fish tank?  He's got murder on his mind...

b. The abolitionist Society of the Luminous Spark has left yet another brain as a warning.  I haven't really figured out why they leave the brains, but as far as a "signature" goes it's pretty effective.

c. The medusa head had been rotting in a sack for two weeks, so I gave it a 50/50 chance of still being potent.  Gutboy rolled, and it was!  Then they wanted it stuffed rather than dumped back into formaldehyde - another 50/50 roll - whoops, that messed it up.  Sorry fellas, no easy victories for you.  If they had succeeded, they might have gone to watch the show and take out the allosaurus pictured on the cover...

d. They got very lucky with their roll on the Dr. Giggles table.  Still, whenever Netal takes a breathe, he wheezes out circus music now...

e. They're remembering their once-per-session d30 rolls now, so Mongo took out a 6 HD gladiatorial automaton with one hit (he rolled a 28).  On the other hand, Netal's saving throw against yellow mold on a d30 netted him a life-threatening 6... only Gutboy's rules-bending saved him ("oh I hadn't picked spells yet, how about delay poison").  Yeah I'm too soft... but it was funny watching them scramble to get to Dr. Giggles in time.


Session recap, 2/9/2012

Netal the Elf (3), his henchman Brad the Fighter (1), and his pit bulls Timmy and Jimmy
Mongo the Fighter (3) and his henchmen, Black Harris the Cleric (1) and Snidely Whiplash the Fighter(?) (1)
George P. Burdell the Cleric (1) and his henchman, Slick Eddie the Thief (1)
Gutboy Barrellhouse the Cleric (3)

Where we left off:  everyone in a room with a holographic ball pit, disguising sharp pointy spikes.

The party decided to head through a door to the west, and found a short corridor ending in another door, and a narrow 5' corridor heading north.  They poked their heads into the 5' corridor, and then thought better of it - through the west door they went.  Mongo listened at the door, and hearing nothing, opened it.  To their horror, it was full of treasure.  Surely this meant deadly traps.  There were a pair of urns, overflowing with gold coins, a quiver with protonium-metal arrows, and bits and pieces of rusted armor and other miscellaneous junk.  Shockingly, their comrade Gutboy Barrellhouse was also in the room, passed out in a corner, clutching a bottle of Jack.

Mongo carefully prodded the treasure with his pole, and it didn't attack.  Suspicious, the players sent Brad in to pick up the gold.  He managed to gather the loot without being poisoned, disintegrated, or attacked by the coins.  They roused Gutboy, who had no idea how he ended up in the dungeon.  Together they returned to the ball pit room, and then headed south through the corridor marked "Egress."

Reaching a door, they opened it - and found that it was blank stone on the other side.  The door had some tension - springs were pulling against it as they opened it, and it would slam shut if unrestrained.  They jammed a spike between the door and the jamb, and continued on.

Soon they found a large, dark room containing a Ferris wheel.  The wheel was 70' in diameter, and disappeared upwards into the gloom.  Mongo asked Snidely if he wanted to go up - Snidely quickly replied "No, boss, I couldn't take the glory away from you.  It's not my place."  Brad was nominated instead, and was placed into a carriage.  Mongo pressed a button on the control panel, and the wheel creakily began to rotate.

As Brad reached the top, his torchlight illuminated a series of metal monkey-bars attached to the ceiling, providing a way south.  Mongo asked Black Harris if he wanted to try climbing across - and shockingly, the dour cleric said "Yes - anything to get away from you peons!"  Cynically, the party had Black Harris use his healing miracles upon the wounded Netal before sending him up in the wheel.

Black Harries and Brad sat in a carriage, and the wheel rotated until it reached the top.  Brad extended Mongo's 20' pole, with a lantern hung at the end, to better illuminate the monkey-bars.  Black Harris grabbed hold, and made his way halfway, to a ledge he could see at the top of the southern wall of the room.  Sadly, halfway, a monkey bar released its hold on the ceiling and Black Harris plunged to a horrible death.

Examination of the bar (as the players stripped the body of valuables) revealed that it was unbroken - it must have been designed to release under pressure.  George ordered his thief henchman, Slick Eddie, to climb the wall with a 50' rope.  The thief easily climbed up to the ledge, and lowered the rope - which didn't quite make it to the floor, as he was 60' up.  So back down again, and back up with more rope - problem solved.  He tied the rope off to a monkey bar in the ceiling, it was tested for strength, and the party climbed up.

A corridor headed west from the ledge, and following it led to a room with musical instruments.  An organ keyboard, several organ pipes, corroded tubas, and drums were scattered about, and a stack of accordions stood by a door in the corner.  The party spread out to begin searching among the junk.  As Netal approached the door, he stepped on a hidden pressure plate, and the accordions all contracted, making a horrendous noise and blasting a cloud of mold spores into the air.  Surprised, he inhaled the spores, and began to turn blue as they invaded his lungs.

Gutboy cast his delay poison enchantment on Netal, and he was able to breathe again, but he could feel the cold touch of Death in each breath.  The party knew there was only one person who could save the elf - Dr. Giggles.  The only problem was escaping from the circus.

The party backtracked to the midway, and tried sneaking over the 40' to the emergency exit.  Sadly, it was guarded by two Painted Men, who began shouting as they saw the party.  "Time for show!  You go watch!  Now!"  Netal replied by casting his sleep spell upon the vile clowns, and they rushed past the sleepers.  They wound their way through the dungeon corridors until they reached a portcullis, guarded by another pair of Painted Men.  Netal cast his second sleep spell, and the clowns went down without a word - their throats were slashed as the portcullis was raised.

More winding dungeon corridors, and Netal's breathing became erratic.  As his lungs began to fill with mold, they burst through the door to Dr. Giggles' office.

Troglodyte Nurse Ratchett: "Can I help you?"
Mongo:  "Quick!  This man is dying!"
Dr. Giggles (bursting through the OR door, and rushing towards Mongo):  "You've only got seconds to live!  Quick, come with me!"
Mongo (pointing at Netal):  "No, him!"
Dr. Giggles:  "Of course!  Quickly!  We'll need to remove his legs!"
Mongo:  "No, his lungs!  He inhaled mold!"
Dr. Giggles:  "Even worse!  We'll have to amputate his lungs!"

Dr. Giggles shepherded Netal into the OR and onto the operating table, where his two assistants (a painted man and a second troglodyte) waited.  He immediately began cutting into Netal, tossing aside a few unimportant fleshy bits as he pulled his ribcage open.  He reached in with a knife, cut out the infected lungs, and tossed them to the floor.  The doctor then realized what he had forgotten - "Quickly!  I need new lungs!" - and grabbed a large saw, and slammed it into the chest of the painted man assisting him.  Dr. Giggles managed to remove his assistant's lungs in a matter of moments, and flung them into Netal's chest.  He brought a futuristic-looking scalpel-sized device to bear upon the organs, folded his ribcage shut, and sewed him up.  Netal inhaled raspily, and sat up, in excruciating pain but otherwise largely unharmed for the experience.

Dr. Giggles: "Success!  Life!  I have brought LIFE!" (glancing at his dead assistant) "Mostly life!"
Gutboy:  "You are truly amazing!"
Dr. Giggles:  "I am the greatest doctor who has ever lived!"
Gutboy:  "You are!  Do you want to come with us to the surface?"
Dr. Giggles:  "Surface? I don't know that word"
Gutboy:  "You know, outside the dungeon"
Dr. Giggles:  "Are you mad?  There's nothing outside the dungeon!  What are you talking about?"
Mongo:  "Never mind.  So we'll just give you the co-pay?"
Dr. Giggles:  "Yes, yes, Nurse Ratchett will take care of that!"

The party left, thanking Dr. Giggles profusely, and gave a 30gp co-pay to the nurse as they left.  They then made their way back out of the dungeon, and eventually back to Denethix.

Back at the apartment building, they found that Jack, Janet, and Chrissie's door was left open, and their own door had words written in blood upon it:  "WHERE'S KROGO? WHERE'S ROGER?"  Netal had to think a minute, and then remembered those were the names of his dead slaves.  The lock to their apartment had been crudely broken open.  Mongo charged in fearlessly, hoping to slaughter his enemies, Janet and the Evil Book.  All that waited them within was a terrible mess - a human brain was laying in the middle of the floor, somebody had dropped off some "baked goods" upon his treasured easy chair, and the other furniture was all overturned.

The party headed over to Jack's apartment, and found that there were signs of a struggle, and large amounts of blood.  Investigating the Roper's apartment revealed that they hadn't returned from wherever they had disappeared to, either.  A quick cleanup ensued - George disposed of the brain, a maid service scrubbed the blood away, and a locksmith replaced the broken lock.

Mongo also decided to fire Snidely (who seemed a bit jumpy, and had some kind of white powder all over his waxed moustache).  This didn't faze Snidely at all, who immediately turned to Netal - "Hey, so I've gotten kind of tired of working for Mongo.  You seem like you'd be a much better employer."  Netal thought for a bit, and decided that since everyone he'd ever tried to hire had insulted and abused him, he should take what he could get, and Snidely's unemployment came to a quick end.

Some time was spent commissioning large quantities of shotgun shells, and the party visited Ilorgo's Judgment-Free Taxidermy Shop to have their medusa's head stuffed.  It had been sitting in a sack for two weeks, along with bits of broken glass, and had begun to smell a bit.

Ilorgo (stuffing a dead goblin into an "attack" pose):  "What can I do you for, gentlemen?"
Gutboy:  "Look, we've got something that needs to be preserved.  If you mess up, you'll end up dead."
Ilorgo:  "Hey!  No need for threats!  Like the sign says, I don't judge!"
Gutboy: "No, not like that!  Have you ever heard of a medusa?"
Ilorgo:  "Well yeah.  Snake-headed ladies that turn you to stone. Wow, that's a challenge - but I'm up to it!  Look, I'll take care of this in my basement tonight.  I've always said I could do this with my eyes closed - now we'll find out!  Ha!"

Returning the next day, Ilorgo handed them a sack with the head inside.  The party purchased a baby grunkie, and dumped it into the sack with the head - the grunkie continued to move about, so sadly it appeared that whatever work the taxidermist had done, had ruined the medusa's petrifying gaze.  Plans to turn rival adventuring party "The Excellent Elven Edventurers" to stone had to be abandoned, as did plans to wave the head around at the Painted Men's circus.

The party returned to Chelmsfordshire, and saw that Serlo, leader of the Excellent Elven Edventurers, was sitting in a booth in the town common, advertising for henchmen to join his party.

Gutboy:  "So, how's it going?  Where are your men?"
Serlo:  "Oh, here and there.  What do you want?"
Gutboy:  "So, did you maybe see the show?"
Serlo:  "The show?  Yeah, I saw the show.  You should go see the show, you'll like it."
Gutboy:  "Oh, we already saw it."
Serlo:  "I don't think so.  Those clowns said you guys skipped out.  Head back, it's totally worth it."
Gutboy:  "I said we saw it already."
Serlo:  "Whatever."

The bitter exchange concluded, and the party headed back towards Mount Rendon.  On the way, they encountered four men heading in the opposite direction, back towards civilization.  They explained that a moktar had hired them to deliver supplies to their war-band, up where one of the great lights had been shining.  "It's this big set of doors, high up on the mountain.  A couple of moks paid us and went back into a tunnel.  There's this spring right next to the doors, and a stream runs down the mountain from there."

Intrigued, the party headed off to confront the war-band.  They found the stream and followed it up the mountain to its source, and sure enough, there was a 20' wide pair of doors next to a spring.  A pair of giant spot lights stood on either side of the doors, unlit. Mongo opened the doors, revealing a 20' wide corridor heading north into the darkness.

There was a brief discussion, and the party decided they'd rather exact some rough justice upon the clowns, than risk a fight with a moktar war-band.  They made their way even further up the mountain to the entrance to the dungeon, and from their back down to the 2nd level.

The entrance to the 2nd level was a room with 8 exits, going in all directions.  The party this time chose the south tunnel, and quickly came upon four Painted Men.  Three of the painted men rushed into battle, while a fourth ran out through another exit.  Netal took one of the Painted Men down, and the other two broke and ran for their lives.

Inspecting this guard post, the party found nothing of interest - so further into the dungeon they went.  They reached an intersection, and had two choices:  west of south.  They decided to head west, and found themselves in a room with stairways heading down into a lower room, and paintings on the walls depicting a figure in black plate surrounded by defeated faceless humanoid opponents.

Both sets of stairs leading down were covered with ancient, crushed Painted Man corpses.  Ignoring the subtle hints of danger, the party headed down the stairs as one.  The lower room was empty, except for a figure in black plate mail, with glowing red eyes.  As they entered, it shouted at no one in particular, "For your entertainment, I shall slaughter these worthless meatbags!"

Purple force-fields appeared at the tops of the stairs as the plate-clad behemoth charged at the party.  Netal was able to see, with his wide-spectrum vision, that its head was glowing with radio-wave energy.  The figure slashed at Mongo with one of its two swords, nicking him.  Mongo, enraged, slammed the figure with his two-handed swords, hitting a weak spot in its armor, and slashing into a series of hydraulic hoses and wires.  The figure slumped to the ground, its eyes growing dim, as its voice trailed off:  "Meatbags? How...?"

There was a single exit from the room (apart from the stairs leading back up).  The party followed it, and it ended at a red-and-black checkerboard room they had previously investigated and given up on.

The party was hankering for clown slaughter, though, and backtracked to the intersection they had passed earlier - the fleeing Painted Men must have headed south.  Sure enough, they heard clownish giggles and screams off in the distance.  They followed the corridor south, and found a side door as they did so, with a sign reading "Security".  They stopped, listened, and heard some talking from within.

Mongo kicked the door open, and the party charged in, surprising the three Painted Men within.  They were wearing blue uniforms, and sitting in rusty office chairs, with their giant clown feet propped upon antique desks.  The party slaughtered them where they sat.  After the fight, they searched the bodies, came up empty, and then Netal disemboweled them, hoping that their innards were full of treasure (and was once again disappointed).

They headed south from the security room, and found a storage room, with shelves and pegs filled with police equipment - transparent riot shields, fiberglass batons, and rusting two-pronged metal wands that the party deduced were tasers.  The tasers looked to be in very bad shape, but Gutboy took one for later study regardless.  Both Gutboy and George swapped their old-fashioned metal shields for the riot shields on display.

And there the session ended.  Next session on Thursday February 23rd.

Gains: 900 gp, 10 protonium-metal arrows
Kills: 6 painted men, 1 gladiatorial automaton
Losses: Black Harris, medusa's head


ASE2-3 Cover

Brian "Glad" Thomas has completed the cover for the sequel, ASE2-3.  It is AWESOME.



ASE1 is a finalist for the Three Castles RPG Design Award 2012!

I'm totally stoked, and I'm in good company to boot.  The full list of finalists - all excellent products:

ASE1 - Anomalous Subsurface Environment by Patrick Wetmore

Realms of Crawling Chaos by Daniel Proctor & Michael Curtis

Stars Without Number by Kevin Crawford

Tome of Adventure Design by Matt Finch & Bill Webb


Review: Weird Adventures

I've just finished reading Weird Adventures by Trey Causey (of the wonderful From the Sorcerer's Skull blog).  It is awesome, go buy it now if you haven't.

Reviews should probably offer a bit more than a command to purchase.  The book describes, in broad strokes, an alternate Earth, where D&D magic and monsters exist alongside the 1930's of our world, and then in detail deals with one place in particular - the City, an alternate version of New York City.  The neighborhoods and boroughs are covered in detail, and full of adventure seeds.  It concludes with a short list of monsters specific to his setting.

The city is simply outstanding, and the adventure hooks are wonderful.  The underworld is run by the Hell Syndicate, who send their Hit Fiends to rub out the competition.  The homeless are urban druids, served by feral children who roam Central Park.  The sinister sorcerer Tsan Chan runs the Chinatown (well, Yiantown) gangs, and General Brant's Tomb contains the horrible thing that General Brant became.  The book is loaded with adventure hooks like that - it's impossible to run out of things to do in the City.

The art is amazing.  It's very very evocative of its pulp inspirations.  The cover is a crazy-good homage to the original Player's Handbook, with turbaned magician, gun moll, and tommy-gun wielding gangster acting as the archetypal adventuring party.  The art inside is just as cool, with hillbilly giants, hoochie-mamas, beholders stalking treasure-seekers, and a further homage to the DMG cover.

There are weaknesses.  One thing it's missing is a section on 1930's weapons and armor (well, trenchcoats and fedoras, I suppose).  Some guidance on these would be useful in running adventures in the City.  Trey's got a lot of "magic item" type material he's been putting up on his blog, perhaps it is slated for an item-focused sequel?  A short introductory adventure would also be useful for referees who want to leap into the City feet-first.

Overall, it's an awesome book, and great for a pulp/noir D&D game. The City is on the list of places my own players may end up, when they get to the various otherworldly portals in the dungeon.  I've been waiting for its publication for some time (along with Dwimmermount, Planet Algol, and Stonehell 2 - get a move on people!), and it was totally worth it.  BUY IT!  BUY IT NOW!