Grognardia reviews ASE1

James at Grognardia has written a very positive review of ASE1

I can't imagine anybody reading Henchman Abuse doesn't already read Grognardia, but if you're on the fence, check out his review and then send me your precious dollars.  Your family can skip a meal - this is D&D we're talking about...


The Fear Strikes

So, the fear struck the players big time this last session.  They had received explicit instructions on where they could get a big bug, but stood around the well wondering about all the ways that things could go wrong.

They started exploring side corridors instead, and found a small stash of treasure (yes, the Mona Lisa, etc - Mongo's player shouted out "We found the Louvre?!?"), and then they headed towards some other corridors they had found weeks ago when P.W. the halfling, who was mapping at the time, fell into a pit that sealed up on top of him.  I didn't let them map while they rushed around trying to find another way to get  to P.W. way back when, so they thought it was a whole new area.  I got bored, though, and told them they'd already been there and that they weren't going to be finding anything.  Not very old school, but the mood wasn't right for pointless fumbling around like that.  You have to know when to break the rules.

So back to the big hole, more staring and trying to figure out how to get down - a plan is hatched, and then we look at the clock.  Sorry, time's up, everybody out of the dungeon so I can get some sleep...

Well, next session they may actually enter the second level of the dungeon...

20% off til June 30th

Lulu's having another sale - 20% off til June 30th.  The code to use at checkout is SUNSHINE305

So if you haven't purchased ASE1 yet, now's your chance for massive savings (again).  Buy, buy, buy, buy, buy!


Session recap, 6/22/2011

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
Netal the Elf (1), his slave Krogo the Fighter, and his dogs Bitey and Moe
Justin the Dwarf (2), and his dog Bailey

Netal and Justin spent the night in the common room at a flophouse - they woke to find another dead hobo lying sprawled across their feet.  Netal showed restraint, and decided against gutting the hobo to see if he had eaten any treasure.

The two of them went to Mongo's, and banged on his door.  Mongo refused to open the door to them, fearing his landlord would find out, so the two spiked his door shut.  The practical joke failed miserably, as Mongo's apartment door opened inwards - he exclaimed "free spike!" as he finally answered the door, and the trio headed off to the Bazaar Incomparable for some shopping.

Bullets previously ordered were picked up, and the gunsmith still had no idea what a "silencer" was, so Justin led the party to the Temple of Science, hoping to commission something to quiet his guns.  He accosted the attendant at the door, asking to meet with somebody.

Attendant:  "What do you need?"
Justin:  "I want a suppressor for my gun.  Can you make me one?"
Attendant:  "I don't think you understand.  We aren't craftsmen.  We are here for the worship of Science."
Justin:  "Well, how do I go about getting a silencer?"
Attendant:  "I suggest you pray, and perhaps Science will see fit to enlighten you."
Justin:  "OK, I'll try that."

The attendant led Justin into the temple, where they both knelt before the 10' tall black step-pyramid within, the numbers at its top quietly ticking down to 0.  The attendant recited, and Justin repeated:  "Oh great Science, we humbly pray that Justin receive a vision of this silencer he speaks of, so that his gun may be quieted in battle, and we pray that the people of this city learn the glory of Science, so that your glories may abound evermore.  Amen."  An unsubtle request for a donation was made, and Justin gave the attendant 50 gp.

Justin:  "So when do I get my silencer?"
Attendant:  "You must keep praying, and should Science see fit, you will be enlightened."

After this burst of religious fervor, Justin rejoined the party, Gutboy showed up, they purchased an extensive collection of rope, and headed off to the dungeon.  A war-band of moktars was encountered on the way, but other than some spear-shaking and grunting, the encounter was non-hostile, and the two parties departed without bloodshed.  The night's rest was interrupted by the return of the dread red mist, and Serlo the Elf once again groaned in his sleep and took some damage.  The party surmised that Serlo must have done something to become cursed - when asked if he remembered anything during the night, he said that he dreamt that Netal was drinking his blood.

Dismissing that nonsense, the party headed into the dungeon, and made their way to the morlock lair.  Finding some morlocks on the way, they asked for Bilibub, and their friendly cannibal arrived, eager to get his claws on the promised person-meat.  He was quite disappointed to be handed only a day's worth of iron rations.  Gutboy asked for directions to "big bugs" and again was told to head north down the hall, and go down the well.

Heading north, the party passed a few side doors and passages, and eventually the thirty foot wide corridor ended at a circular wall.  In the middle of the floor was a 10' wide hole - it looked to be at least 100' deep, with a red light coming from below.  Gutboy and Justin tied 150' of rope together, with a spike on the end, and lowered the rope to see if they could hit bottom - but with the rope played out all the way, they still hadn't made it to the bottom.

Deciding to put off exploration of the well, they headed to a side corridor, and discovered many small corridor branching off it.  Following one of these side tunnels north, the dogs in the lead fell into a pit trap, and the lid sprang shut, trapping the hounds within.  Light pressure was enough to push the lid open again, and the dogs were extracted - further exploration revealed many pit traps in a 70' square area of tunnels, and a pair of double-doors along the southernmost tunnel.

Opening the doors, the party discovered a small art gallery, with a massive crystal chandelier hanging from the 30' high ceiling.  On one wall hung a painting of a woman with a mysterious smile, on the other a somewhat abstract depiction of a swirly sky with swirly stars, and against another a well-sculpted marble statue of a naked man.  Showing a remarkable knowledge of pre-apocalyptic art history, the party identified these as the Mona Lisa, Starry Night, and Michelangelo's David.  Justin pulled out his protonium-metal dagger, and cut the paintings out of their frames, rolled them up, and shoved them into his sack.  This done, Gutboy then went and collected the empty frames.

The party went back to contemplate a descent into the well.  Unsure of how to get down, they went back to the morlocks and asked how they did.  "Tie gut-rope to pole, climb down rope."  "Can we borrow your pole?"  "You wait, I ask chief... (few moments later)  No.  Chief say mongos no get pole."

The party went back to the well, stared dejectedly at it again, and then wandered off into another side tunnel.  They passed through a few empty rooms, marveling at the familiar looking footprints in the dust.  Eventually the realization struck that they had been here before, there was no loot to be found, and it was back to staring at the well.

Finally, a plan began to take shape - tie the rope off around a 10' square section of stone in the nearby tunnel-area and then keep tying ropes off from there, running them down to the bottom of the well.  Further sounding with the rope & spike found that the depth was just around 150' - the three ropes tied together were just a smidge short.  A plan for descent finally in place, they decided that they had spent enough time underground and should try to get some loot back to Denethix to sell.

The party went back, six of them grabbed the statue, and they headed back out of the dungeon.  There was a remarkably one-sided fight with a group of hostile fire beetles, over in seconds with the aid of a sleep spell, and otherwise the party escaped unmolested.  Another episode of the red mist occurred during the night, and even after an overnight stay in the town of Retennis, where the party kept no watch, Serlo woke up feeling drained and looking pale.  Justin once again used magical healing to rejuvenate his henchman, and there was much speculation as to how Serlo became so afflicted.

Finally, Denethix was reached - and the party went to sell their priceless works of art.

"Huh.  It's kind of cut up, and this stuff is pretty old fashioned.  I'll give you 120 gp for the lady, 200 for the stars, and 500 for the statue."
"How can this be?  These are ancient artifacts!"
"You can't step outside without tripping over ancient art.  Who likes this old-fashioned stuff anyhow?"
"But this is marble!  This stuff's expensive!"
"What are you talking about?  Just go to any of the ruins, take some blocks from some of the old buildings.  You can get it anywhere."

Grumbling, the party sold their looted art, and retired for the evening.


Temple of Sorrow

121.b.  Temple of Sorrow

Covered with crawling blue fungus-vines is an ancient marble temple.  The windowless building has a single entrance on the southern wall.  Within, the roof is supported by two rows of Doric columns.  This is the Temple of Sorrow, and is the home of an Eater of Woe.

Those who enter and are suitably sorrowful (a companion PC or henchman has died in the last 3 days) will see an apparition of the deceased.  This apparition is a product of the Eater of Woe’s feeding upon their sorrow.  Their hearts will lighten as their grief is digested, granting a +1 on all “to hit” rolls and saving throws for the next 24 hours.  Those affected will definitely note that their joy is unnatural in origin.  After a few minutes, the apparition will begin to decay and crumble in upon itself.  The agony upon the apparition’s face as it corrodes does nothing to reduce the supernatural joy of its former friends and colleagues.

If no one in the party is sorrowful, the Eater of Woe will manifest itself as a telepathic command to “GO FORTH AND BRING ME YOUR SORROW!”  The famished Eater’s urgent order causes nose bleeds, quivering, and 1 hp of damage per round to those within the Temple, until either they depart or someone dies, causing a fresh source of sorrow.  Such a victim must, of course, be actually missed by the survivors.


More Lemmy

Hidden in the second level is a tomb.  No bodies lie within, but seven funerary statues stand along the walls.  The largest statue depicts a man with muttonchops and a prominent mole.

I draw a huge amount of inspiration from Blair's Planet Algol, so much so that I have to expunge stuff that my unconscious deeply wants to plagiarize when I'm working on my megadungeon.  My "Exotic Intoxicants" submission to the Fight On! random table contest was a victim of this, I realized after submission that the resemblances between one entry and Gamma Orichalcum were way too close, and I had to email some last minute corrections to Calithena.  The Tomb of Metal predates my Algol obsession though - my Lemmy fascination is all my own.


ASE1 Map Pack - free download

One unfortunate problem with on-demand printing is that the printers don't do anything "fancy," like separate maps that you can pull out from the book and look at.  This makes running the module a little tricky, since you have to flip around a lot.

So to help with that problem, I put together a PDF of all the maps in the ASE1 module and have made it available for download.  It's in the "Download" section to the right (below the shameless money-grab section), or you can get it here:  ASE Map Pack


20% off ASE1 til June 13th, and What's Next

So two things:

First (and this is a big reason why I chose Lulu over RPGnow), Lulu is having another one of their sales.  Until June 13th, enter code TOP305 at checkout and get 20% off!  So if you haven't purchased ASE1 yet, do it now and save save save!

The second thing is What's Next.  So I've got the first level published, and you want to know (well at least Melan wanted to know, so I'll assume you're all interested) what's the next thing to happen.  I'm working on the 2nd/3rd levels, and possibly the 4th, for the next installment.  I'll stop & publish when things hit 80-100 pages, which is the sweet spot for Lulu publishing.  I've got the maps for the 2nd & 3rd levels done, and I have a really sketchy key of the 2nd level that I need to flesh out.  As I write it out in more detail I'll be back to posting the various encounters & monsters, like I was doing a few months ago.  I expect that part deux will be out before the end of the year.


Dungeon Module ASE1 is FOR SALE

Put those dark elves back in their box and get your gonzo on!  Riches, glory, and super-science await the bold and the clever in the deep places under the ground.  This module describes the dinosaur- and wizard-infested future of the Earth, the city of Denethix, and the first level of the megadungeon that beckons from below: the Anomalous Subsurface Environment.

The second round of proofs came back from Lulu and all is well, so ASE1 is officially for sale.  Click on the image of the cover over to the right, that will take you to the Lulu storefront.

I'm offering three versions, scroll til you find the right one.

Publisher Grade paper:  $17.57.  Buy this one if you're in the U.S.
Standard paper:  $20.18.  The printers in Canada & overseas use this kind of paper, so shipping is vastly cheaper on this version if you're outside the U.S.  Buy this if you're an international customer.
PDF:  $13.49

I'm totally stoked.  Putting the book together was way more work than I thought it would be, but the end result looks absolutely gorgeous.

If you read this blog regularly, you already know what this is - if you're just driving by, this is the most awesome product you could ever possibly own and if you don't buy it now, you'll probably be dead by morning.  Just sayin'.

If you do buy it, I must beg for a favor - please talk about it online somewhere!  I'm a small blog, I try to limit myself to content-only posts (no opinion pieces) so I don't rack up the followers of the "big guys."  So please help me out & tell the world what you think about it, good or bad.



I just watched a marathon of the greatest television show ever made - Miami Vice.  Just a few episodes, so it wasn't a marathon for me personally, but the taste is sweet all the same.

So naturally I'm going to have to figure out how to translate Miami Vice into a dungeon.  Flavoring the dungeon dressing is easy - art deco & pastels.  The hard part is the characters - how does a pair of too-cool detectives translate into the dungeon?  And Lt. Castillo.  Can't leave him out.  I'm thinking they'll be the cloning facility's crime division.  So somewhere on the fourth level.

Of course such a ridiculous idea has to be treated with absolute seriousness.  Playing stupid ideas for laughs really cheapens the experience - it's only when really bad ideas are presented earnestly that they truly blossom.