Down, down to Goblin-Town

The players have now confronted and fought all three major factions of the second level: painted men, necromantic midgets, and troglodytes.  So the three have temporarily joined together to provide a united response to the predations of the many adventuring parties drifting down from the first level - they've cut the bridge, and have set up guards on the other side.

There was a lot of pointless argument about what to do with the dogs (which, being muzzled, never actually fight anyways), but finally the guys headed all the way down to the third level.  It's about time.  It's a terribly inconvenient route, though, and easily sabotaged if somebody decided to cut their ropes...

They immediately headed for an area that I didn't have fully keyed, and the portions that I did have keyed, I had forgotten to print out.  Whoops.  So I winged it, moved rooms around from their original locations, and otherwise put up a brave front.

They're pretty close to the goblin lair now. Bilbo didn't have to deal with anything like this though:

Goblin Emissary
No. Enc: 1d3 (1d3)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 3 (1 versus laser attacks)
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 1
Damage: Hive mind’s powers, or laser pistol
Save: MU4
Morale: 11
Hoard Class: III (XX)
XP: 245

These specially-bred goblins are created by the hive minds to serve as their representatives to the rest of the world. The emissaries act as if they are the true rulers of the goblin tribes, while the controlling hive mind stays safely hidden away.

In combat, a possessed emissary will typically use the mental powers of its hive mind. 10% of emissaries will also possess a functioning laser pistol.

An emissary appears to be a thin gray humanoid, 7’ tall, with a massive bulbous head, slit-like nostrils and ears, a small thin mouth full of needle-like teeth, and wide jet-black eyes – in other words, an exceptionally tall and large-headed goblin. They dress themselves in silvery robes of synthetic reflective cloth (granting +2 AC bonus versus laser attacks). Even undamaged robes are almost completely worthless, as the smell of goblin is notoriously hard to remove.

Goblin Hive Mind, Lesser
No. Enc: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 0’
Armor Class: 9
Hit Dice: 5
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d10 mental
Save: MU5
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: XIX
XP: 500

The lesser goblin hive mind represents the immature stage of the species, usually only a few centuries old. It is a large brain, between 1’ and 3’ in diameter, floating in a glass jar full of bubbling green fluid, with various wires and hoses running between the jar and racks of equipment.

A lesser hive mind will be attended by 4d10 goblins, 1d6 goblin spiders, and 1d3 goblin emissaries. It breeds the more outré goblinoids by injecting the goblin spawn-sacks with a cocktail of alien chemicals.

The lesser hive mind is able to mentally dominate all goblins within 60’. Further, it is able to project itself into a single goblinoid’s mind, and speak using that monster’s mouth. Once the mental link is established, there is no limit to the distance between the possessed goblinoid and its controlling mind. Goblin emissaries are favored for this task, as the hive mind is able to use the rest of its mental powers through such vessels.

The hive mind is able to cast charm person upon goblin hybrids such as elves, dwarves, and halflings (one attempt per day per demi-human), may read their minds via ESP, and may project its thoughts (threats, commands, and other social niceties) directly into its victim’s brain. None of these abilities require a victim to be within line-of-sight – if he is anywhere within 60’ of the mind, he may be attacked in such fashion. A 2’ thickness of stone is sufficient to shield demi-humans from these powers (as are artifacts such as protonium-metal helmets).

Once per turn, it may use telekinesis (as per the spell, cast at 9th level). In combat, the hive mind (or its controlled goblinoid) attacks with a blast of mental energy upon a single target – if the victim fails a save vs. spells, he will take 1d10 points of damage, and begin bleeding from his nose, ears, and eyes. Dwarves, elves, and halflings suffer a -2 penalty to the saving throw.

The goblin races instinctually serve the hive minds, and they will naturally obey them even in the absence of active mind-control – attempts to foment revolution among a mind’s goblin subjects are doomed to ridicule and failure.

A mind whose tank is broken will dehydrate and die within 4 hours.


session recap, 6/14/2012

Mongo the Fighter (4) and his henchladies "Bunny" the Thief (1) and Nancy "the Wrathful" the Fighter (1)
George P. Burdell the Cleric (2) and his henchmen, Slick Eddie the Thief (2) and Seegar the Elf (1), and his dog
Gutboy the Cleric (4), his henchman Trezgar the Elf (1) and his dog Rufus II

Our troubled trio's voyage begins with a simple scene - three murderous goons and their incomprehensibly loyal henchmen loafing about in Chelmsfordshire, unable to return to the storied city of Denethix for fear of their cyborg ex-landlord.  What to do but head back to the safety of the dungeon?

After the possibly unfortunate death of Prinny the Dwarf, Mongo found himself in need of additional henchpersons - and a trio of likely suspects sat in the village's lone bar.  Two women, and a ridiculously obese dwarf. Mongo approached each in turn.

"Bunny" (popping bubblegum while adjusting her eighteen-inch-high sculpted hair):  Yeah, I've got skills. Locks, pickpocketing, burglary, if there's some coin, I'm in.

Nancy: Yeah, the nickname. "The wrathful."  Pisses me off.  Just because I ripped a guy's arm off and beat him to death with it.  Bastard shouldn't have cut in line!  HE HAD IT COMING!

Borgonar the Dwarf:  Ahh, I do love a bit of ale. And food. Pass that cake would you?  Yeah, I like me some gold, food don't pay for itself! Ha!  The chips, please. Hey, are those pretzels? What? Dungeons?  I'm strictly for the surface, mate, you're on your own. Get out the way!  The man who stands between me and my nachos is not long for this earth!

Two out of three ain't bad.  George also felt the need for some extra help, and purchased a guard dog to accompany him into the depths.

Sadly, the routine trip through the first level was somewhat less than routine.  Immediately before the stairs heading down to the second level was a bridge running through a cavern - well, there used to be one - and where it used to be, stood a man with a torch.

Horgo: "Yeah, hi, I'm Horgo.  With Melvin's Marauders.  Waiting for 'em to come back.  A while now, actually.  With the screams and all, well, I'm thinking they might not be."
Gutboy: "What happened? Where are they?"
Horgo:  "Well, we got here, the bridge was down.  See?  Cut from the other side.  Well, Lena went down with a rope - it's a long way down.  Said there's water down there.  So the rest of 'em went down, while I stood guard.  They got down there, I tried shouting to them, but then the screaming started."
Mongo: "So you got them killed"
Horgo: "No!  No!  Well, yes. But they could be alive... I suppose I should check it out..."

Horgo agreed to sign on as Mongo's henchman - an incredibly long drawn-out argument ensued about how to lower the pair of dogs - and finally the party slowly climbed down.  280' down.  At the bottom of the rope, the party found themselves standing in a large cave, knee-deep in water.

As they stood there wondering which direction to go, a splashing noise was heard - and a school of flying vampiric piranha leaped from the water, biting at the two-legged surface morsels.  Horgo went down, a piranha sucking greedily on his throat.  A sleep spell put half the school out of action, and the rest of the fish were eventually clubbed to death.

Gutboy: "You want me to heal Horgo?"
Mongo: "No, no, he's dead.  Leave him."
Horgo: (raspy breathing as Mongo strips his armor and weapons)

Mongo's boot sent Horgo's bleeding, naked, and not-quite-dead body spinning off into the darkness. Mongo assured Nancy and Bunny that "you guys are fine, don't worry, he was dead, trust me", and the party marched off into a nearby tunnel.


- A room with a pair of pipes, one in the ceiling, one in the floor. Gold coins were blasting at supersonic speeds from pipe to pipe - sticking Mongo's pole in the stream produced both crappy jokes and a dangerous ricochet of gold about the room

- A room with crystal-covered giant starfish. They squirted fluid at the party as they slammed the door in starfish-induced panic

- A large hall with a stainless steel banquet table, covered with steaming hot fresh dishes of food - turkeys, bacon cheeseburgers with grilled cheeses as the buns, baked potatoes, etc. A multi-armed machine hung from the ceiling above the table, but was motionless.  They let the dogs eat one of the turkeys, and George's dog went into a coma, from which it did not awake.  George also grabbed a potato for possible future experimentation

- A dark room with a throne, upon which sat a crowned skeleton, a six-gun holstered in his belt

Gutboy (brandishing the symbol of Nisus): "Back, undead, in the name of Nisus!"
Skeleton: "Aie!  You dare bring your digital faith here?  Put that symbol away!"
Gutboy:  "Digital?  No, this is the symbol of Nisus!  If I put this symbol away, will you serve me?"
Skeleton:  "Yes, for a time. I swear it!"
Gutboy (lowering symbol): "So what are you?  You're undead, right?"
Skeleton: "Please, I prefer unliving.  I am Sancho, and I was once like you - a tomb robber, from Miami.  This tomb, it turns out, was to be my own, for this crown bears a heavy curse."
Gutboy:  "Wait.  Miami?  How do we get to Miami?"
Sancho:  "You must go the wide corridors - if you go north from here, you will easily find them.  Follow those east as far as you can, and you will reach the lake. If there is a boat, you may take that across the lake to the fortress on the other side.  Within are the stairs down to the fourth level."
Gutboy:  "What level is this?"
Sancho:  "The third, of course.  Once you are down, go west, past the Basalt Ziggurat, and then down to the fifth level.  You must find your way north to the wide halls with the colored fields - pass through the fields, and keep following the hallway, and it will lead you to Miami."
Gutboy:  "Why don't you return?"
Sancho:  "I cannot - the curse compels me to return to this tomb.  I can leave but for a scant few hours."

There was more probing of Sancho's memories - but the centuries of unlife had dimmed his recollections.  He knew that the food had varied effects, but could not recall the details ("the only food I seek now is the breath of the living"), and that the near-mythical "red men" were responsible for setting traps in the nearby rooms.

Gains:  Horgo's servitude, Sancho's servitude, Horgo's equipment, one potato
Kills:  Eleven flying vampiric piranha
Losses:  Horgo


Crawling Clam

The third level is water themed, and I was running a bit dry (ha, ha, ha) on sea creatures to fill out some of the rooms. "Well, why not clams?" I think to myself. "What's more terrifying than a clam?"  Thus, the Crawling Clam is born.

Then, today, I'm reading about "World of Synnibarr."  It's some RPG that came out in the 90's, and was panned for having grizzly bears with laser eyes and fire-breathing clams.  All I'm thinking at this point is, "Why didn't _I_ think of fire breathing clams?"  I don't know anything about the guy's rules, but his setting sounds awesome.

Anyhow here's my lesser, not-fire-breathing clam:

Crawling Clam
No. Enc: 1d8 (2d12)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Armor Class: -2 (tentacles 3)
Hit Dice: 3 (tentacles 5 hp)
Attacks: 4
Damage: 1d6 each
Save: F3
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: See below
XP: 80

Crawling clams are 5’ long bivalves that drag themselves along damp dungeon corridors using their four 10’ long tentacles.  Each tentacle is tipped with a wicked claw, and in combat the clam will use all four to attack its prey.

If players attack the tentacles, they are AC 3 and have 5 hp each. A single blow at the tentacles will not damage more than one, and after absorbing 5 hp damage are either severed or crushed beyond use. Damage to the tentacles should not be applied to the body’s hit points

Attacking the clam’s shelled body is more difficult – the shell gives it AC -2.

If the shell is pried open, the body is only somewhat reminiscent of a clam, with tentacles protruding from the thick meaty foot muscle, and a drooling, bald human-like head nestled in the center of its gills. Below the idiot head are a pair of tiny arms and legs.

20% of crawling clams will be clutching a 100 gp white pearl in their tiny hands, and a further 5% will hold a 500 gp black pearl.


Congratulations to Kevin Crawford!

Congratulations to Kevin Crawford & Stars Without Number, winner of the 2012 Three Castles Award! No "official" Web announcement that I can link to yet, but I've seen a few blog & forum posts from NTRPGCon attendees spilling the beans.


session recap, 5/31/2012

Razoe the Fantra Paladin (2) and his dog Brownie
Mongo the Fighter (4) and his henchman Prinny the Dwarf (1)
George P. Burdell the Cleric (2) and his henchmen, Slick Eddie the Thief (1) and Seegar the Elf (1)
Gutboy the Cleric (4), his henchman Trezgar the Elf (1) and his dogs Rufus II and Alpo

The party spent a good amount of time staring at their feet in Chelmsfordshire, worrying about how they would survive without Gutboy's help, who had yet to arrive.  Their bosom companion Drunk Eddie and his henchwoman Pepa disappeared quietly into the corn - the only sign they were still alive were the occasional cries of "Push it, baby, push it!" from the corn fields surrounding the village.

Eventually, they manned up, and headed off into the dungeon, the captive necromantic midget Fizzworth in tow.  The first level was uninhabited, but covered with painted symbols - the three E's of Slezgar's Excellent Elven Edventurers, a black triangle, and an orange leaf.  Mongo wondered aloud why they were the only adventuring party that didn't paint graffiti.

They paused briefly before descending to the second level, just long enough for Mongo to slit Fizzworth's throat.  Whatever plans Razoe and Mongo had been cooking up for an army of blade-faced zombies were to be put aside (for this session, at least).  The party hunched over their maps as Fizzworth breathed his last, and they chose a destination - the room with many murals, and the eye-holes in the wall of skulls that revealed crystal skulls in a secret room behind it.

They marched through the room with the silver lattice supporting a glass jar, and into the mural-room. More careful searching was performed, but no way into the room behind the wall of skulls was found. The party surmised there must be a secret door somewhere else in the dungeon leading to this room, and began exploring nearby passages.

The first room they entered was filled with partially-dissolved eyeless corpses.  Mongo instinctively looked up, and found that the ceiling was looking back at him, with hundreds of eyes lolling about in a clear jelly.  The eye jelly dropped to the floor and began lashing out with eye-laden pseudopods.  It was quickly dispatched, but not before slaughtering Razoe's dog Brownie.  Razoe's grief was assuaged by the gold they found when searching the corpses.

The next room they explored contained a mahogany cabinet with sixteen drawers.  Each drawer contained one dozen black glass spheres, 2" diameter.  George accidentally broke one, and it let out a horrible death-groan.  Razoe then went on a sphere-breaking spree, tossing a dozen at the ground one by one, and each had a distinct death cry.  Razoe and George decided to load up on the spheres, each carefully packing a few dozen into a sack.

As they left this chamber, they were surprised to see that Gutboy and his entourage had tracked them into the dungeon. Thrilled to have their companion back, the quartet headed back to the mural room for some more searching - and while there, Razoe decided to shoot the glass jar in the neighboring silver-lattice-room from beyond the door.  He was still too close - when the jar shattered, electricity arced all over the room and past the door into the hall, badly shocking Razoe.  George prayed for healing for the paladin, and divine favor was granted.

Now that the jar was gone, the party began yanking up the silver rods that made up the lattice-work, using ropes and brute strength to avoid direct contact.  They had soon thoroughly looted the room.  Despairing of a way into the crystal-skull-room, they headed into the fungus-filled caverns to the north.

Their first stop was at a vine-covered marble temple.  On a previous expedition, the party had tried to seek refuge from a herd of rampaging pillbugs within the structure, but a terrible voice had shouted into their minds "Bring me your sorrow!" and driven them out.  George entered, and had a repeat of that experience - he tried leaving his sack of black spheres as an offering, but the voice was not appeased, and he too was driven from the temple.

They continued north, into an unexplored section of the cavern, and found a chasm dropping down into the depths. A 30' wide fast-flowing river flowed across the fungal cavern and into the chasm.  They followed the river west, fighting off a pack of log leeches, and saw a great tower of a mushroom to the south - 80' tall and 40' wide at its cap, with many ropes dangling off it.  Some of the ropes reached the ground, and some terminated in nets, each containing a struggling blade zombie, dangling 20' off the floor.

Heading south to investigate, they saw that the ropes leading down ended in net-traps.  They briefly wondered who set these traps and why - but they were soon to find out.  Searching the perimeter of the cavern, they stumbled across a stone stairway leading up to a tunnel - guarded by a pair of troglodytes.

Missile fire was exchanged, and the two troglodytes went down - and Seegar's sleep took out another half-dozen that were coming out to investigate.  Throats were slit, and the party climbed the stairs, entering the troglodyte warren.  They made their way through a larder stacked with painted-man corpses and bowling-ball-sized vegetable spheres (Mongo taking one for further study or perhaps a mid-day snack), and then stumbled into a round with a dozen more troglodytes, and a CHEST.

The troglodytes were preoccupied, and the party easily surprised them - Trezgar cast his sleep spell, putting four down, and then the party decided to retreat, the numbers were just too great.  As they tried backtracking out of the warrens, they found that a half dozen trogs had circled around, cutting their retreat off.  Back in the cave with the CHEST, the sleeping trogs were being awoken.

Battle began on two fronts - Gutboy used his hold person to paralyze a few of the trogs at one end, choking a narrow passageway with their rigid bodies, while Mongo, Razoe, and one of the dogs fought at the other.  Alpo the war dog went down quickly, Prinny was knocked unconscious, and panic began to set in - and Razoe improvised, tossing his sack of black spheres into the midst of the trogs.  The incredible cacophany of death cries panicked the trogs, who retreated back into the warrens, and the trogs at Gutboy's end of the cave likewise fled from his prodigious magic.

Most of the party fled to the warrens' entrance, leaving unconscious Prinny behind - but Razoe had seen a CHEST, and the rumors of a shotgun grabbed by wandering troglodytes were enough that he decided to risk heading deeper, George following closely in case he ran into trouble.  The cave with the CHEST was clear, and he quickly opened it - discovering three gold bars the party had lost in a prior expedition, and 100 gp further - but no shotgun.  Unwilling to keep pressing their luck, they retreated to the rest of the party, also passing Prinny's helpless form without a second glance.

The group decided that it was time to head out - and made it to the dungeon's entrance without much effort.  As Mongo stepped into the fresh air of the surface world, he was surprised to see some familiar faces - Chrissie and Mr. and Mrs. Roper were there waiting for him.  Mr. Roper took a blast with his laser-arm and shouted "GIVE US MONGO AND THE REST OF YOU MAY LIVE!", while Chrissie and Mrs. Roper closed for some metal-armed fisticuffs.

The party retreated back into the cave-entrance, with Chrissie and Mrs. Roper in pursuit.  They handily slaughtered the pair of women, and then headed deeper, as Mr. Roper shouted threats: "NEW INSTRUCTIONS RECEIVED - YOU HAVE DESTROYED THE CHRISSIE UNIT.  YOU WILL ALL DIE."

They waited expectantly for further action - but after an hour, it was clear that Mr. Roper wasn't heading in.  They carefully made their way back out, and saw that Chrissie's corpse had been dragged off.  Mrs. Roper's body was still there, so the cybernetic parts were quickly and brutally carved away from her flesh and packed away.

The trip back to Chelmsfordshire was uneventful, with no further Roper sightings.

Gains: 700 gp, 500 gp of silver rods, vegetable sphere, three gold bars worth 750 gp each, Mrs. Roper's cybernetic parts
Kills: Eye jelly, four log leeches, 11 troglodytes, Mrs. Roper, Chrissie
Losses:  Brownie the Dog, Alpo the Dog, Prinny the Dwarf (1)


review: D&DNext (summary: bleah)

I almost never post opinions, because everyone already has one and forums are better suited for discussion anyhow.  See here for my opinion post on avoiding opinion posts.

But I just read the D&DNext playtest rules.  Ahh well, I'll call this post a review.

Fighters do damage on misses?
Wizards cast no-miss magic missiles all day long?
You get umpteen saving throws against dying?

What kind of delicate flowers have modern D&D players become? The only challenge I can see with these rules is staying awake.  Never die, always hit, everybody gets a gold star and everyone's a winner all the time.

Whatever happened to succeeding through a combination of wits and luck?

Five billion thumbs down, not worth downloading, the design team is driving over a cliff (again), etc etc.