40% off today only at Lulu

40% off today only at Lulu.  Use coupon code 26DEC at checkout.  It says "on any book", I don't know if that includes PDF's or not.  That's a crazy good deal though, so order those ASE1's and ASE2-3's!


Merry Christmas!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6


session recap, 12/12/2012

Mongo the Fighter (4), his henchpersons "Bunny" the Thief (2) and William the Sentinel (1), and his soil-bearer Malazar
Gutboy the Cleric (4), his henchman Trezgar the Elf (1) and his blink dog Rufus II
George P. Burdell the Cleric (3) and his henchmen, Slick Eddie the Thief (2) and Seegar the Elf (1), and his dog
Razoe the Fantra Paladin (3) and his henchman Skwisgar the Elf(1)

When last we left our intrepid explorers, the murderous foursome and their retinue were interrogating a giant brain in a jar. They turned around, and noticed Gutboy (who had been agitating to befriend the brain) was gone - presumably off to take a leak in some obscure corner of the dungeon.  They wrapped up their increasingly hostile discussion as follows:

Razoe: "Where did your goblins go?"
Brain: "They have gone to find more of their kind, and bring them back to me"
Razoe: "Make them bring us back gold"
Brain: "Of course! It will take a few days, but I will gladly do this"
Mongo: "They should raid Chelmsfordshire.  Here, let me get you some directions..."
Razoe: "We need a token of your good faith here if we're going to trust you"
Brain: "You already took everything I have from that cabinet, and I've told you what it all does, and I'm bringing you gold"
Razoe: "What else can you do for us?"
Brain: "If you go back to the teleportation circle, I can use my mental prowess to transport wherever you desire in the dungeon"

George began taking practice swings at the glass jar - as he did so, there was a noise from the other room.  The brain had telekinetically jostled Skwisgar awake, and he was standing above Seegar's corpse holding a bloody knife - the possessed elf had slit Seegar's throat!

Battle was joined, and George was subjected to an intense psychic attack as he smashed the jar open, and his nose began bleeding profusely.  Razoe beat the hostile Skwisgar into a coma, while the rest of the crew slashed at the immobile brain - who despite just sitting there proved quite difficult for the party to hit.  Regardless, probability was on our anti-heroes' side, and the brain was eventually slain.

Gutboy appeared as the battle wrapped up, and dispensed some precious divine healing upon Skiwsgar.  Razoe informed the murderous elf that his misbehavior while possessed meant that he was being docked pay for this trip to the dungeon.  Skwisgar sulked, and muttered that slain Seegar "had it coming anyhow and what's the big deal."  The party was unmoved by this.

The group headed back to the Cod-Man lair, only passing a trio of starving and fungus-infected moktars lost in the dungeon and begging for handouts - they were pointed in the direction of the goblin lair, where they presumably went to feast upon the dozens of carcasses that had been left behind.  Once the crew arrived at the Cod-Man lair, Chief Pyceen was ecstatic at their success, and proclaimed them worthy of the tribe's greatest honor - they were to be allowed to use the evolution chair to devolve into Cod-Men and fertilize a clatch of eggs floating in the water nearby.

None of the party wanted to become a fish-daddy, so the clearly disappointed chief told his underlings to "have at it", and they began spraying wildly all over the egg clatch.  This dungeon moment proved to be uncomfortably awkward, so the party made some hurried excuses and rushed away.

Reviewing their options, they decided once again to skip the tax-man, and go straight to Lugosi, and from their head to Denethix. Sadly, the Festival of Fangs wasn't scheduled for another week, so they passed through Lugosi without stopping.  In the fields outside the town they ran across a group of bandits - they panicked as Rufus blinked into the middle of their encampment and mauled one of their fellows, and ran away screaming "Ghost Dog!"  One bandit was paralyzed by Gutboy's magic, and he was forcibly enlisted to be one of Mongo's dirt-bearers - Gutboy informed him his new name was officially Dirtbag.

Upon reaching Denethix, they passed a unit of the Fist, and Dirtbag immediately ran off into the crowd.  The presence of the Fist deterred the boys from delivering the murderous justice that Dirtbag so rightly deserved for abandoning his duty, and instead they went to the temple of Science to sell off certain of their scientific wares - the broken laser rifle and the functioning laser pistol.  The tale of the Evolution Chair was pronounced "Highly Scientific!" and much acclaim was accrued by our heroes.

The final encounter of the evening was with an old lady, who approached the four heroes as they walked down the Street of Temples.  Her eyes were swirling with rainbow colors, a sign of divine possession, and she beckoned them into an alley.  Gutboy began praying out loud to Nisus, but after the old lady shouted "That's not even how it works! She can't hear you!" he relented, and followed the other three and the old lady into the alleyway.

Gutboy: "So how does it work?"
Old lady: "You have to be in the presence of a God's Eye.  I had thought your flubbed sacrifice at the temple either an act of extreme cleverness, frustrating the desires of both Nisus and Kiod, or an act of utter buffoonery. I see that it was in fact buffoonery.  You are aware, of course, that this vessel speaking to you is possessed by a god.  Or perhaps you are not.  You stand in the presence of Wurgol, the god of cutlety!"

Wurgol launched into a discussion on the useless vanity of Nisus and Kiod, and how there was a cabal of gods interested in greater things.  He instructed the party that they could contact him or others like him at the booth holding Nisus' God's Eye - they found it extremely easy to block her transmissions without her even knowing, and it was a secure place to communicate.  He further told them that they should tell him of any unusual transmissions or "computers" they found in the dungeon - this cabal of gods had sensed unusual energies from within the mountain.

Gutboy: "Don't I need Nisus to get spells?"
Wurgol: "Don't be ridiculous. The level of power you're accessing is generally available, you don't need a god to access nanocytes for the programming you're attempting.  When the time comes, I shall act as your patron - forget about Nisus.  Both her and Kiod are disgusted with your performance, and I can't imagine either trying to contact you again."
Gutboy: "So we can just cast spells? We don't need the gods?"
Wurgol: "Not yet, that comes later.  Are you paying attention?  Sometimes I wonder why we don't just wipe the lot of you off the earth with our lasers, instead of protecting you."

George genuflected for a bit and acted deferential, and Wurgol informed the crew that they shouldn't approach the old woman should they meet her again - she would remember nothing of this, and would no longer be possessed.  The vessel of Wurgol then walked away, and the party was left to ponder the secrets they had been given.

Gains: none
Kills: Giant brain, four bandits
Losses: Seegar, the opportunity to fertilize fish eggs


Down to level 4

When my group hit the fourth level, I had nothing but a blank sheet of paper waiting for them. So, the dice got rolled, and it was... werewolves. They killed the one werewolf and then fearfully retreated back to the third level.

So ASE2-3 is done, which means I've got all this free time. Oh wait, the players are heading ever downwards... no rest for me.  So let's hash this out.

Fourth level:  we've got Hinge-Headed and their Basalt Ziggurat, in a big ol' cave.  The Deep Tower runs through it as well, but it's only got some observation windows - no real interaction there.  There are Neanderthal slave-quarters arranged in neat rows around the Ziggurat, and palm tree-lined avenues.

The Dark Smokers need some representation too, so I'll have to chuck in those weirdos somewhere.  Medusas are 4 HD, and I've left their remains on the 2nd and 3rd levels - well, Medusas are "in".  And, Werewolves, as determined by dice.

So interesting factions will be:

a. Hinge-Headed.  Their section of the dungeon is largely inside the Ziggurat

b. Neanderthals.  Mostly slaves. They are busy excavating more dungeon for the Hinge-Headed - and are just about to break through into a cavern containing a Monolith.  Because caveman need monoliths.  There is a small group of escapees lurking about as potential allies for the players (or maybe the players will rat them out to the Hinge-Headed in an attempt to curry favor)

c. Medusas. This isn't really a faction, just a nest of them.  There will need to be rumors of big Medusa treasure, because otherwise no sane player would go after them.  They'll need to get spruced up a bit too, standard Medusae are booooring - they'll be the Gorgona sisters, who constantly eject their stone-gazed daughters to wander the dungeon.  They'll have some extra abilities and weirdness above their normal Medusa children.

d. Werewolves. They occupy the area around the secret tomb of the King, and are headquartered in the Jungle Room.  They are led by their chief, Warren, and their hair is perfect.  There is large chunk of moon rock hanging in an exhibit room - illuminating it with Klieg lights generates enough lunar radiance to turn them into wolfmen. Control of this room is critical to them

e. Dark Smokers. They will have a barter-town sub-level. It will have heavy representation from the lower levels. Dracula's minions (Renfield et al) will be there, among others

f. Rust Monster Lab.  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  I'm laughing just thinking about this one

g. Viscous pit-bulls, crawling from the slime pits uncovered by unwise Hinge-Headed excavations (thanks Gusty for the awesome typo)

I need another major faction - the only major forces are Hinge-Headed and Werewolves right now, the Medusas and Dark Smokers are just sideshows.


20% off at Lulu til Dec 14th!

Lulu is having another sale - 20% off until Dec 14th.  Use coupon code FELICITAS at checkout.  This doesn't impact the amount that will be donated to Village2Village, so claim these savings guilt-free when you order ASE1 and ASE2-3!


session recap, 11/29/2012

Mongo the Fighter (4), his henchpersons "Bunny" the Thief (1) and William the Sentinel (1), and his soil-bearer Malazar
Gutboy the Cleric (4), his henchman Trezgar the Elf (1) and his blink dog Rufus II
George P. Burdell the Cleric (3) and his henchmen, Slick Eddie the Thief (2) and Seegar the Elf (1), and his dog
Razoe the Fantra Paladin (3) and his henchman Skwisgar the Elf(1)

Back in town, the crew gathered together, reviewed their maps, and came up with a plan.  Scissors were taken to the multiple pages of maps, adhesive was used to glue it all together, and then it was reconciled with the map they found in a secret room on the 3rd level.  Shockingly, conclusions were drawn and navigation decisions were made - next stop, Goblin Lair!

They passed through the Cod-Man lair with a stern admonition from Chief Pyceen to finish off the goblins on their behalf. Ever willing to oblige, the party followed their map down the wide flooded halls - and were stunned to see a pair of glowing green fins parting the water, heading towards their flank.

The pair of rather flat 12' long glowing sharks had horns growing out of their heads - and attempted to both stab and bite Mongo and Razoe.  Rufus the Blink Dog blinked in and out of combat, and the sharks were quickly dispatched.  Razoe gutted them in hopes of treasure - but found only an old license plate and a cod-man arm.

They soon reached the archway that led to the alleged goblin lair - walking through, a half-dozen machines sprang from the water. They were discs on tripods, with hoses dangling from their undersides, and nozzles atop them.  The machines shouted "Alert! Commence cleaning! Filthy humanoids present!" and blasted high-pressure streams of water at Mongo and Razoe.  Another quick fight and the machines were dispatched - but had the noise alerted the goblins beyond?

The answer was "yes" - the party opened the door beyond the archway, and saw dozens of goblins standing still and silent, with a 6' tall big-headed goblin in silver robes behind them.  The party shrieked in absolute fear and ran for their lives.

As they ran, Skwisgar turned around and tackled Razoe - who began screaming for the rest of the party to stop and help him. Reluctantly, the group stopped and turned to face the goblin horde.  Many sleep and hold person spells were cast, Trezgar screamed about something trying to get into his mind, and the party prevailed.  The ensorcelled goblins were slain, a laser pistol was taken from the tall goblin's body, and Skwisgar was beaten into unconsciousness and tied up tightly. Razoe also inappropriately used his one-shot commune spell in an attempt to convince Kiod to help him escape - nevermind that Kiod both hated him now, and that he would simply answer 3 yes/no questions.

The noise of the battle had attracted visitors - a half dozen cavemen being driven on by a pair of tall fellows wearing robes and with eyeless metal cylinders over their heads. The cylinder-headed men introduced themselves as the Hinge-Headed, and they congratulated the party on defeating the goblins.  A few questions were exchanged, notes were taken by the metal-headed pair, and they wandered back off into the dungeon peacefully.

With the goblin menace slaughtered, the party headed into the lair proper.  They found a large group of boxes, that the communion with Kiod informed Razoe were both dangerous and had nothing valuable inside.  They also found some fungus that smelled like cherries, and was "safe", per Kiod.  Razoe gathered up two mouthfuls of the fragrant brown fungus.

A transporter disk was found - when items were placed on it, and a button pressed, they disappeared, it was guessed to somewhere else within the dungeon. A short debate about dumping Skwisgar on it ensued - but for purposes of henchman morale it was decided to keep him.

Finally, they found a room with an egg-shaped chair, with a bowl of gems sitting next to it.  Rotating it caused a secret door to open - at which point Trezgar turned on Gutboy with murder in his eyes.  George convinced his elf employee Seegar to cast "sleep" upon both himself and Trezgar rather than succumb to the elf-infecting madness of the dungeon, and both elves collapsed.  Inside the secret room, they found a giant jar with a huge brain floating in it, and another one of the tall robed goblins - it was slain as soon as it was spotted.

Suddenly a voice rang out from one of the machines connected to the jar:

Brain: Thank you for rescuing me!
Gutboy:  Rescue you? What are you?
Brain:  I was once human like you!  Those monsters stole my body!
Mongo:  Let's smash this thing
Brain:  No!  I can help you! Don't!

Not believing the brain's pitiful ruse, the party quickly deduced that it was controlling the goblins.  Razoe ransacked a metal cabinet, finding gold, a potion bottle, a green crystal skull, a broken laser rifle, and a wristwatch with a blank face.  A Q&A session with the brain followed:

Q: What's this potion bottle?
A: That contains a healing elixir

Q: Where are those goblins outside heading to? Are they going to Chelmsfordshire?
A: They seek more goblins to attend to me!  Join me, together we can rule the dungeon!

Q: What does this wrist band do?
A: That is a wrist replicator.  It can make any object you desire, just put it on and ask it.  I use it to make laser weapons.

Q: How do we get to the lower levels?
A: (various directions presented)

Q: Do the Hinge-Headed have any weaknesses?
A: Arrogance!  Also, to destroy them, you must destroy their mind crystals

Gains: laser pistol, funky silvery goblin clothing, 1,430 gp worth of gems, broken laser rifle, green crystal skull, 500 gp, potion of healing, wrist replicator, 2 mouthfuls of cherry-scented fungus
Kills: 2 subterranean sharks, 6 pressure washers, 30 goblins, 2 tall goblins
Losses: nothing, what's up with that?


All Proceeds to Charity thru Dec 25th

From Dec 1st thru Dec 25th, all proceeds (that I get - Lulu keeps their cut of course) from sales of ASE1 and ASE2-3 will be going to charity. Yes, I realize Dec 1st is yesterday, and Dec 2nd is almost over - timely announcements are not my strong suit!

Which charity, you ask?  Village2Village - they help children in need in Uganda. It's a small charity, and I've met w/ Laurie, who runs it, a couple of times - so I'm confident that all money donated is well spent.

So if you haven't picked up an ASE, do it now and help support a good cause!  Already got one, or just don't like gonzo, or feel moved to do more? Please consider a donation to Village2Village directly - they are helping people who desperately need it.

Here's a video that shows a bit more of what V2V is all about:


ASE2-3 Black Friday Sale

Lulu is giving 30% off on Black Friday, running from Friday 11/23 thru Tuesday 11/27.  Enter the coupon code DELIRITAS at check out for mad crazy savings on ASE2-3!


review: Knowledge Illuminates

I'm already bored with marketing (which consisted of a blog post shared on G+ and posts to four forums). So on to other things.

Now that ASE2-3 is out the door I've got some time to read some of the gaming material I bought in the past few months - namely, Knowledge Illuminates and Barrowmaze.  Just finished KI, and just started BM - so I figure I'll toss out a review of KI, since there aren't many out there.

Completely coincidentally, Bryce at tenfootpole.org just reviewed KI as well...

Disclosure - I know the author, Tim Shorts, from a few sessions in Trey's Weird Adventures campaign earlier this year.

So, Knowledge Illuminates is a small lair-type dungeon, with 11 rooms. I like it quite a bit. The idea is that there's a box full o' demon, some of his minions got out in a wizard's lab, everyone dies, and eventually the party stumbles across the lair.  This is the only weak point - the hooks to find the wizard's lab aren't very strong. I'd toss them entirely and leave a treasure map somewhere instead.

The lair itself has a few monsters, and a LOT of magical loot for that room density. Treasure, btw, is using a silver standard - values are always referenced as "silver pieces".  It's a fairly old-school ratio of monsters to empty rooms - the dungeon is front-loaded with the monsters, so as you go deeper in it's all traps and learning the horrible history of the chest, and learning various bits of magical knowledge that can greatly increase your loot-haul, if the players pay enough attention.  The trap that slowly turns players into ghouls is particularly nice - I can see that causing a certain amount of heartache.

I would have liked to see the demon-locked-in-the-chest statted out and illustrated, in case the players go full stupid and let him out.

There's also a small wilderness area around the dungeon described. This stuff is mostly unrelated to the dungeon (except the hangman's tree, which has a nice payoff if you've read some books in the dungeon). As evidenced by the small amounts of treasure most encounters have, this is filler should the players go wandering afield - the real meat of this adventure is all underground.

Tim's got a chart at the back that shows how he doles out XP - it's more of rewards for certain accomplishments, instead of the straight xp-for-treasure. I'm too crusty and mean for that - you get your loot, and that's all the XP you'll be getting.

So it's a good 1st level dungeon, that can be run through in a single session.  If you're looking to get a copy, I believe there's a PDF up at rpgnow or you can order a hardcopy from Tim directly.


Dungeon Module ASE2-3 is FOR SALE

The Anomalous Subsurface Environment is more than just robots and lasers – it's clowns and dinosaurs, too! Levels 2 and 3 of the critically ignored gonzo megadungeon are finally available – with more classes, more tables, and more cruel and unusual ways to die deep beneath the surface of the post-apocalyptic Earth!

Got the proofs today, and it looks GOOD!  So I hereby proclaim ASE2-3 officially FOR SALE!

What? You're on the fence? And you're reading this blog? Perhaps these words from a few kind souls about ASE1 will sway you:

“This is one of the best products ever made. Go buy it now.”
Bryce Lynch, of tenfootpole.org

“One of the finest OSR-derived megadungeons”
James Maliszewski, of grognardia.blogspot.com

“It is awesome”
Tavis Allison, muleabides.wordpress.com contributor and Autarch co-founder

“One of those products people will remember fondly 20 years from now”
Gabor Lux

ASE2-3 is available for sale at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/PatW, in Publisher Grade Paper, Standard Grade Paper, and PDF form. Publisher Grade is very slightly cheaper, but only prints in the US, so if you're outside the US order Standard Grade - way cheaper shipping.

Anyhow if you buy it, please talk about it! This is a niche-within-a-niche-within-a-niche product, and every bit of publicity helps!

And a big "Thanks!" to everyone who bought ASE1 and thus unknowingly guilted me into producing a sequel!

EDIT - Oh, and Lulu is having a 20% off sale now if you use coupon code NOVBOOKS12 on check out!


session recap, 11/8/2012

Mongo the Fighter (4), his henchpersons "Bunny" the Thief (1) and William the Sentinel (1), and his soil-bearer Malazar
Gutboy the Cleric (4), his henchman Trezgar the Elf (1) and his dog Rufus II

For our last recap, we had left our intrepid duo and their motley crew of henchmen in the not-quite-abandoned moktar lair, having just encountered a large group of goblins, led by their silver-robed giant-headed incredibly tall leader.

No time was spent puzzling over this encounter - there was a dungeon to plunder.  They went to a hatch in the floor they had previously discovered, turned the valve sealing it shut, and opened it to reveal a ladder leading down to a partially flooded tunnel. They climbed down, and followed the tunnel, coming upon a guard post with six fish-men.

Fish guy: "Who are you? Are you the ones who killed the cat men?"
Mongo: "Yes, we did!  We are the Mongos!"
Fish guy:  "We are the Cod Men!  You have done a great thing in killing the cat men!  You must meet our leader!"

Mongo and Gutboy instantly agreed, and the Cod-Men led them through several rooms, one with a blank beige tapestry, another with tentacled arches, and finally into a room with a protonium-metal pedestal emerging from the water, a stainless steel chair bolted atop it.  A plastic console was afixed to the pedestal, with two knife switches, labeled "Devolve" and "Evolve".

The pair stopped in their tracks. Here was a chance to experiment upon henchmen - an opportunity that could not be ignored.

Gutboy: "What is this chair?"
Cod-Man: "Oh, legend say that chair make us in far past. Can turn cod-men into pasty pink fleshy things like you, no point in that. Do you want to be cod-men?"
Gutboy: "No! That's not really what we're looking for..."
Mongo (to Malazar the soil-bearer): "Hey, go sit on that chair for a minute"
Malazar: "Very gracious of you, sir, thank you for thinking of my aching back. This soil is quite heavy."

Gutboy then flipped the "Evolve" switch, and a field of rainbow colors surrounded Malazar.  His head grew larger to accommodate a brain of increasing size, while his body shrank until it was the size of an infant's, dangling below his floating head.  His face had not expanded along with the head - it was still narrow and pinched under the bulbous cranium.

Malazar: "Ahh, where my body has withered, my intellect has blossomed.  My powers have grown considerably.  I am now Hyper-Malazar. With a few more like me, we can combine our mental strength and be even more powerful.  All shall be crushed!  Not you, sir, of course.  I mean enemies.  You do seem to accumulate them."

Just then, the cod-man chief burst into the room, followed by a witch-doctor with a tooth necklace and elaborate head-dress, and two large cod-men wearing tailcoats.

Pyceen: "I am Chief Pyceen.  I have heard that you are those who slew the cat-men!  It is a pleasure to meet you!"
Gutboy: "Not king?"
Pyceen: "No, just Chief.  Now you will surely join us in our fight against the wretched goblins!  You shall surely slay them all!"
Mongo: "Do they have treasure?"
Pyceen: "Assuredly!  They have many gems, it is told!"
Mongo: "We like gems!"
Pyceen: "Then it is agreed! Crush the goblins!"
Mongo: "Where are they?"

Pyceen responded with a vague set of directions. In the meantime, Gutboy placed his dog Rufus II on the chair, and pulled the "Evolve" lever.  The dog became larger, and its hair shaggier - and when the chair was deactivated, it spoke.

Rufus: "Ahh, my mental capacity is greater now.  I have become more than a mere hound!  I thank you for this gift!"
(Rufus disappeared from the chair, and reappeared instantly next to Gutboy)
Gutboy: "Whoa! Would you say you just 'blinked' off the chair?"
Rufus: "An excellent word for it!"
Mongo: "Malazar, can you combine your mental powers with the dog?"
Hyper-Malazar: "Alas, no, his mental prowess is not at our level.  Surely he is greater than he once was, but he will never reach our level."
Rufus: "Harumph."

Eventually Mongo cajoled Bunny into sitting on the chair, and she too became a floating head with a tiny dangling infant body. The party then left the Cod-Man lair, heading deeper into the dungeon - the first thing they encountered was a statue of a nude pregnant woman.  A hole was punched in its stomach, revealing a stone baby within the womb.

Mongo instructed Bunny to move the baby with her mind-powers, and she did so easily - and a guillotine blade sliced down behind the hole.  The trap discovered, Gutboy set to smashing the stomach of the statue open with a hammer, and dismantled the trap in the process.  Alas, the stone baby was merely a stone baby, and no treasure was found.  Further inspection did reveal that the woman's face could be screwed off, so they removed it and placed it in their back pack.

There was some discussion about how to proceed, and the party decided they needed to rest and regain their spent magic.  Mongo and Gutboy were intent on staying in the relative safety of the Cod-Man lair, but could not figure out how to sleep in 2' deep water.  Eventually they come up with the plan that they should all become floating heads, and take turns supporting sleeping Rufus and their gear using their telekinetic powers.

The only hitch with this bizarre sleeping arrangement was that Trezgar was unable to evolve - the machine intoned "Hybridization prevents further analysis."  So his sleeping body was elevated using telekinesis as well.

After a good night's rest, the group slowly floated off into the dungeon, with Trezgar and Rufus staying a good distance behind, to avoid being damaged by the hyper-group's mental blasts.

Their first encounter occurred a scant few dozen feet into the dungeon - a group of four green-and-purple freaks with hideous faces (sagging sacks of flesh under their eyes, cleft noses, and dangling foot-long forked tongues) and crystal-lensed boxes protruding from their chests emerged from the darkness.  They yammered excitedly, and began twisting knobs on the boxes embedded in their bodies - shining beams of light shone forth at the faces of Hyper-Mongo, Hyper-William, Hyper-Bunny, and Hyper-Gutboy.  Horrifyingly, their faces became exchanged with the freaks - who immediately began running off into the darkness, shrieking "I'm handsome!  So handsome!"

Trezgar ran forward and cast his Sleep spell - three of the freaks collapsed face down into the water, but the fourth (with Hyper-Bunny's face) got away, its shouts of "I'm a pretty girl!" echoing in the distance.  Bunny began howling disconsolately about how her face had been stolen, while the others levitated the sleeping freaks out of the water.

Gutboy used his mind powers to twiddle the knobs on Williams' freak's box, and a beam of light once again short forth - William's face was returned to him.  Gutboy and Mongo then returned their own faces, and Trezgar slit the throats of the three sleepers.  They then decided their most urgent task was to recover Bunny's lost face, so they instructed Rufus to follow the trail.  Sadly, the blink dog was unable to follow a scent trail in 2' of water, so they just headed off in the direction of the goblin lair, hoping that the face-stealing freak was in that general direction.  Bunny was unimpressed with the plan.

The vague directions brought them to the end of a 30' wide corridor, with a few archways leading to side passages, and a 12' tall statue of a long-haired ape-man.  The face on this ape-man screwed off as well, but Gutboy simply screwed it back on this time.

They proceeded into one of the archways, and came across a featureless bronze door, with no handle.  Mongo used his telekinetic prowess to pull the door open regardless, and a horrible stench wafted out - a 20' long dead albino catfish lay within the room.  They probed at the rotting fish-corpse with their minds, and a segmented worm lunged out of the rotting flesh, snapping at the mental fields protecting their fragile infant-bodies.  The hyper-group combined their mind powers, and pummeled the worm into oblivion with a series of mind-blasts.  Hyper-Mongo was relieved to find that his damaged mental shield quickly regenerated itself.

Thinking back to their comrade Razoe, who was unable to make it on this expedition, and his predilection for disemboweling corpses, they decided to use their minds to tear the catfish apart.  They were happily surprised to find a pair of gold spheres within the catfish's stomach.  They then tore apart the worm, and found a third gold sphere within that corpse.

Happy with their find, they opened a door beyond - and were shocked as over a dozen hooked tentacles reached around the door, pushing it all the way open.  The tentacles were attached to what looked like giant clams, and quickly dragged the clamshells along as they yanked their way to the rotting catfish.  The party floated back as fast as they could - fortunately the clam-monsters were only interested in the dead fish.

Satisfied with their haul, they headed back to the Cod-Man lair, annihilating a giant salamander on the way back - it had been munching on the face-freak corpses they had left behind.  They went to Chief Pyceen's chamber, where their equipment had been piled - the chief mumbled something about everything but the swords being too big to fit in the egg, so they had dumped it on a table instead.  The egg referred to was metal, 1' wide, with a 5" hatch in its side, sitting upon a tripod in a corner of the room.

Mongo grumbled about not being able to find the goblin's lair - the chief looked at their map, pointed at the other archway at the far end of the tunnel, and said "It's there. Duh."  The group then returned to the chair of evolution, and devolved themselves back into humans (although sadly, Bunny's face remained as that of the hideous freak).  Only Rufus remained as a blink dog, refusing to devolve from his new improved state.

And here out session ended, with the party remaining safely (?) ensconced in the lair of the Cod-Men.

Gains: three gold spheres (400 gp each)
Kills: 3 face freaks, 1 giant segmented sea-worm, 1 giant salamander
Losses: Bunny's face


ASE2-3 pricing

Here's what I'm doing for pricing on ASE2-3.  It's 147 pages, 50% longer than ASE1 (both word count and pages), took twice as long to write, and art cost are more than twice those in ASE1.  So I intend to net $15 per sale rather than the $10 I net for ASE1.

That puts prices at:

ASE2-3 Publisher Grade Paper (int'l shipping is expensive) - $25.09
ASE2-3 Standard Paper (cheaper for international shipping) - $26.56
ASE2-3 PDF - $17.66

I think that's fair for nearly 150 pages.

I'm also debating the need for a publisher grade option at all, but hey, $1.45 savings, so I suppose it's useful.


Layout for ASE2-3 is DONE

Layout is DONE!

All I've got left is player handouts now, there's one that I'm doing (just showing piano keys, a hint for a puzzle in the Tomb of Metal), and waiting on a hopefully minor treasure map revision.

So with any luck I'll have proofs by next week, and this thing should be up for sale a little before Thanksgiving.

Oh and I have to put together the cover, but that's pretty easy.  The front cover's already done, here's a sneak peak:


session recap, 10/25/2012

This session was pretty short - Razoe's player couldn't make it, Gutboy's player was 2 hours late, and George's player was a no-show.  It happens sometimes!

Mongo the Fighter (4), his henchpersons "Bunny" the Thief (1) and William the Sentinel (1), and his soil-bearers Malazar and Benarto
Gutboy the Cleric (4), his henchman Trezgar the Elf (1) and his dog Rufus II

Mongo and Gutboy were sitting around the apartment, wondering how to kill some time - a return to the lair of the Moktars seemed a delightful excursion, and away they went.

This time, they headed to Chelmsfordshire, to see what tax schemes were the Exalted and Chosen Brethren were cooking up. Talking with one of the hard-bitten adventurers loitering in the village green, it turned out to be something a little more peculiar - one of the Exalted Brothers had sponsored "Slezgar's Law," a regulation designed to prevent tragedies such as the untimely death of Denethix's beloved Slezgar - now all adventuring parties had to register before heading off to the dungeon.  They commiserated with the nameless adventurer, who explained how most of them just skirted around Chelmsfordshire now - not that Mongo and Gutboy would ever try to circumvent a city regulation.

Mongo and Gutboy decided to head west to the dungeon without registering, and were quickly intercepted by a guardsman from the Unyielding Fist

Fist: "Hold up, there. Where are your papers?"
Gutboy: "Oh, we don't have those.  We're not adventuring, we're just going to Denethix."
Fist:  "Denethix is east."
Gutboy (trying to push past): "Yes, of course it is!"
Fist (pointing back the way they came): "The other east."

Gutboy gave up his feeble ruse, and the duo (with their train) headed back east towards Denethix, immediately doubling back and around Chelmsfordshire once they were out of sight.  Camping in the woods overnight, they were beset by a half-dozen stirges - the combat was short, but sadly one of Mongo's dirt-bearers (which exactly I don't remember) was drained dry, the bloated and satiated stirge flapping listlessly away after its feast.  The only notable grieving was of the henchman William, who now had to carry a backpack full of dirt.

In the Moktar lair, there was a brief exploration of some of the flooded western tunnels:

a. A room with a flickering God's Eye, displaying a blonde man in a black suit with angular features.  The words "establishing contact... insufficient signal strength... retrying..." were whispered repeatedly.

b. A black room with a pedestal that had a broken iron rod sticking out of it

c. A white room with a pedestal that had a vibrating tall iron rod sticking out of it.  Mongo poked at it with his 20' extending pole, and nothing happened.

b. A short dead-end hall - walking through the water here, Mongo and William suddenly tumbled down a submerged staircase.  They quickly clambered back up the stairs, and were followed by a giant crab.  The beast was dispatched, but Mongo took quite a beating - and it turned out his soil had been drained of nutrients.

At this point, the party headed back towards the entrance to fetch fresh soil for Mongo.  On the way, they ran into a group of over a dozen goblins wearing clothes of shiny silver fabric, led by a 6' tall goblin with a huge head, carrying a laser pistol and wearing flowing silvery robes.  The tall goblin began speaking.

Goblin: "Ahh, I know you, surface worlders."
Mongo: "What? Where?"
Goblin: "I am Grolikus.  Do you remember me now?"
Mongo (a glimmer of recall on his face):  "Oh, in the dungeon, right."
Goblin: "I commanded you to stay and you defied me!  Now, you will show me the way to the surface world!"
Gutboy:  "Well, what's in it for us?"
Trezgar (Gutboy's elven henchman):  "Aieee! It's in my head!"
Goblin:  "I see you have brought one of our creations with you.  They are flawed, but still useful."
Gutboy: "You made elves?"
Goblin:  "Yes, they are a failed experiment.  Now step aside."

The party stood aside to let the goblin troop pass - Gutboy briefly considered dropping the portcullis near the entrance to the Moktar lair on them, but after all, discretion is the better part of valor.

And there our session ended...

Gains: none
Kills: 5 stirges, 1 giant crab
Losses: Soil-bearer



session recap, 10/11/2012

Mongo the Fighter (4), his henchpersons "Bunny" the Thief (1) and William the Sentinel (1), and his soil-bearers Malazar and Benarto
Gutboy the Cleric (4), his henchman Trezgar the Elf (1) and his dog Rufus II
George P. Burdell the Cleric (3) and his henchmen, Slick Eddie the Thief (2) and Seegar the Elf (1), and his dog
Razoe the Fantra Paladin (3) and his henchman Skwisgar the Elf(1)

The party had holed up in their 3-bedroom apartment, with all their henchmen, and their captive, Mr. Roper. They took the entirety of the party's rope inventory, some 300+ feet of it, and tied Mr. Roper into a coccoon. A coccoon that soon smelled like sewage, as Mr. Roper still had certain active biological functions that needed to be taken care of.  Mr. Roper issued threats for a while - eventually the party tired of it, and gagged the cyborg. With nothing to do but wait for the harvest festival in a week's time, they set up watches and hit the hay.

The night passed uneventfully, until it was suddenly eventful.  One of the windows was smashed open, and a cyborg child was tossed through. And another. And another.  Someone shouted the alarm, and everyone ran around frantically, killing the cyborgs as fast as they were thrown through the windows. The cyborgs grew older and more powerful as the assault continued, but the party managed to keep them down.  The adults snarled angrily at the sight of the dead children - "You have killed Cindy and Bobby! And Janet! And Peter! You shall pay!" - but their rage was short-lived, as the concerted efforts of the group took the cyborgs down.

The last cyborg through the window was Chrissie's corpse - the useless dead flesh was dragged along by the still-active cybernetics. Behind Chrissie, Janet marched through the window on four metallic tentacles protruding from her back. The evil and wicked Book was strapped to her as well, with wires running from Janet's body into its spine.  She hosed Mongo, Bunny and William with napalm, while flailing away with her metal tentacles - but she, too, eventually succumbed to the combined might of the party.  Gutboy and George poured their divine healing magic into Mongo and his henchmen as the napalm continued to burn them - finally the flames died out, and Mongo's dirt-bearers placed his charred body into a sack and filled it with nourishing soil. His henchmen received further healing magic, and their resulting scars were only slightly horribly disfiguring.

Mongo proceeded to remove the Book from Janet's body and methodically slash it to pieces. As he reached the spine, he encountered something unusual - a pencil-sized cylinder of metal, with wires protruding from magnetic end-caps. He pulled the end-caps off, and handed it to Razoe and Gutboy, who then escorted the metal to the Temple of Science.

At the Temple, the head scientist Gregory was roused and asked to identify the cylinder. "A demon!" he shouted. "A horrible fiend from a prior age!  We are lucky that it is damaged, and cannot fly.  See the charred vents here?"  Gutboy asked if he could destroy it, and Gregory consented - a highly Scientific laser was brought from the inner temple and Gregory used it to melt the demon to slag.

Razoe and Mongo informed Gregory of the many cyborg corpses. "It is good that you have destroyed these heretics. I shall send a recovery team to your apartment to remove the bodies! Many thanks are owed to you!"

They returned to the apartment with the Scientists, who dragged off the cyborg carcasses. Then, the long wait for the Harvest Festival continued, with Mr. Roper as the designated sacrifice.

Gutboy remembered his commission from Nisus - to place insects within the robot's body, so that all would be amazed at the vermin flowing forth when the robot's carapace was opened.  He purchased a crate of crickets used to feed baby grunkies at the Bazaar Incomparable, and brought it back to the apartment.  During his watch, while everyone was asleep, he cast hold person upon Mr. Roper, untied him, and shoved crickets underneath his cyber-parts as best he could. All in all, it was not very impressive, and most of the bugs were squished as Roper's limbs were moved around during the re-tying process.

Finally, the day of the ceremony arrived.  Gutboy, George, and Razoe carted Mr. Roper's well-bundled corpse to the temple. The other priests began whispering to each other in shock, and finally the high priestess Lunexia, naked except for her gold lobster helmet and lobster gauntlets, approached.  "Oh no, this isn't good. You don't understand. They'll try to one up each other! We can't have a human sacrifice! They're all going to want them now!"  George assured her that the god Kiod had ordered this sacrifice and she walked away in deep consternation.

Their turn at the altar came soon enough - and George decided, for safety's sake, to use the spell Kiod had granted him, Robot Swarm, to examine Mr. Roper and ensure it was ready for sacrifice. Scintillating flakes of metal appeared out of the air and self-assembled into tiny robot insects.  As soon as Gutboy saw this, he used the spell Nisus had granted him, Dispel Magic, and the tiny robots crumbled to dust.  Enraged, George decided that Gutboy should be sacrificed instead, and cast hold person upon him - but the other priests in the temple were outraged and George gave up on his murderous plan.

George dragged Mr. Roper up to the altar, bound in his 300+ feet of rope, and stabbed his former landlord with the sacrificial knife. No god appeared in the God's Eye above - this sacrifice was decidedly unimpressive.  He had been asked to provide a glorious robot, and had presented only a cybernetic stooge.  A pair of crickets hobbled away from the body as the ropes fell away.  The entrails presented no information either - truly the gods were disappointed by this performance.  Hecklers in the congregation began to shout "Lame!" and "You suck!", and George was hustled off the sacrifical platform.

The party regrouped at the apartment. For the first time in many months, they were free of demonic threats and divine obligations. There was only one thing to do - head to the moktar lair and look for gold.

They once again took a back route to the dungeon, encountering only four moktars heading away from the lair.  The party briefly tried to communicate with the lion-men, but all the moktars could do was make roaring noises.  Eventually the moktars shrugged and walked away.

Once inside the tunnels the moktars had occupied, they explored for a bit, finding the following:

a. A platform above a water-filled room, with four whirlpools swirling. A boat hook and some rope were resting on the platform

b. A room with a stainless steel sphere. When touched, it asked "What would you like to retrieve from the sphere?"  Repeated demands of "information" and "gold" provided no results

c. A room stairs leading to a watery tunnel full of giant killer frogs, easily slain. A chewed-up body of a furry man with blue crystals embedded in his skin floated in the water - the crystals were cut free from his flesh, to be later sold

d. A door with a yellow lightning bolt sign on it. Touching it zapped Razoe for a few points of damage

After the electrical shock, which it was agreed was predictable, the party packed it in, heading back to Denethix to sell what meager loot they had acquired.

Gains: blue crystals worth 500 gp
Kills: the entire cyborg Brady family plus Alice, dead cyborg Chrissie, cyber-octo-Janet, the demon in the Book, 8 frogs
Losses: none


Check out Pilgrim's Guide to Zeitgeist

Innumerable followers!  Well, perhaps you are numerable - blogspot is telling me I've got 101 followers - regardless of your specific numbers, check out Pilgrims Guide To Zeitgeist

ApisFurioso has started describing his Stars Without Numbers campaign, where he has flung his unwitting players towards ASE.  He's begun putting together an orbital, and it looks to have quite a few interesting features - golden fiddles in the music museum, and haunted luggage!

review: Death Love Doom, Monolith From Beyond Space And Time

It's review time!  I ordered Death Love Doom and Monolith From Beyond Space and Time from Noble Knight, read them, digested the contents for a week or so, and now I shall spew forth what I think.

I am a Raggi fan - I like the sense of nihilism in his modules. So naturally I like these. There is one thing I absolutely do not like about his products though - tiny little books with tiny little type. There's a concrete reason why - presbyopia.  Do you know who gets it? EVERYBODY OVER 40.  If it hasn't happened to you yet, it's going to. Dammitall, your audience is getting bad eyes, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM, and the tiny typeface in the tiny books really sucks, because you can't read up close, and you can't read it held farther away when the letters are so small.

So I hate the physical presentation.  On to the modules.  Spoilers abound, so skip if you're planning to play these.

So I ordered Death Love Doom despite Jim's warnings about the controversial content. It's really not all that grotesque, although why all the tormented people decided to rip their clothes off for the art I don't know. I'm not sure I can run this for my players, because a lot of the tension here involves being drawn in to care about what's happened to this innocent family. My players epitomize murder-hobodom, and I expect it would be endless looting and ignoring anything not immediately hostile, possibly followed by arson.  Which is a fun way to play, but treating this adventure that way just makes it a grotesque home invasion.

I have no concerns about their ability to follow the clues to the necklace that I've seen in other reviews - mutilated people are running around shouting about it, it seems kind of hard to miss.  If you just flee out of the house in horror, yeah, you'll never know what happened.

The only part of the module I'd change is the bit where they get to decide the value of the necklace if they go to destroy it, they'd go for millions.  Of course the chance that they actually try to destroy it instead of pawn it off on unsuspecting yokels is zero.

The set up for the module is a house where the family hasn't been heard from in days, and some thieves want to break in.  So it's pretty easy to dump wherever you want - no involved hooks or geographical issues to worry about integrating into an existing campaign.  I might try running it for my players if less than a full group shows up - that way the tension will rack up due to concern for their own physical safety, if not for the NPC's.

The other module I purchased was The Monolith From Beyond Space and Time.  The cover art looks interesting to me, but my family disagreed - there were many, many comments about "radioactive doodies".  Eventually I had to stick the book on a shelf where they wouldn't notice the cover, because the long involved stories about the how's and why's of radioactive doodies became overwhelming.

The adventure itself is pretty cool. I don't see the problem with railroady bits that other people have mentioned - my players would be completely stoked to have the ability to fall asleep near someone they don't like, and presto, you wake up and problem is solved. I have no respect for characters' integrity and back-stories though - I regularly inflict weird bodily changes upon PC's.  This is just upping the stakes a bit.

The only part I really didn't like was the owls. First, the shrubs were stopping players from leaving - the only way to leave was when the DM felt that enough dramatic tension had occurred.  What the?  Story-game balogna that makes no sense, and really is the opposite of old-school.  The other thing about the owls that stank was the slow degradation of spellcasters. Your magic-user saw some owl statues, and now you're screwed, and there is explicitly nothing you can ever do about it, nor was there any way to avoid it.  It's "weird", but it doesn't really sit right, it isn't a result of any player actions, it doesn't make playing the character more interesting, just gimps him...  This is apparently some fellow name Kenneth Hite's work, but James had editorial control here, so boo hiss to this part.

The rest seems like it'll work pretty well.  The monolith requires a "sacrifice" to leave, but presumably the "sacrifice" character will become one with space and time.  Or perhaps a henchman will want to become one with space and time.  Or the monolith can just be left open, which is how I expect my players would deal with it - because having light-surfers murder their well-guarded opponents would be very tempting. Or they exit onto another world and try to find their way back home the "back way". Players are creative, and there's a lot of them, I don't see a little thing like an extra-dimensional monolith keeping them from their murder-hobo ways.

This is pretty creative, James had mentioned it being his interpretation of a D&D "artifact" level magic item - which it performs wonderfully as.


Megadungeon Boredom

We just got together to play last night, and I have a few thoughts to share on megadungeon boredom, which is apparently the "in" topic.  Or more likely WAS the "in" topic, and I'm a day late and a dollar short...

The first few hours of the session were epic.  A massive battle occurred at the players' apartment, where Janet, enhanced with Dr. Octopus tentacles and having the Evil Book strapped to her back, began tossing the cyborg-ified Brady Bunch family through the windows. It was a delightful battle, and wrapped up the whole Janet plotline nicely.

Then they hauled Mr. Roper off, and sacrified in such a half-assed way that they have no reason to expect that an Orbital God will ever ask anything of them again.  So the sacrifice-a-robot, Nisus-vs-Kiod plotline also wrapped up.

After all that epicness, anything that came after was bound to be anticlimactic.  And it was - they headed back into the dungeon, met the last few moktars fleeing the place, and walked around a few deserted rooms. There were puzzles, but they didn't engage, a fight with frogs that probably felt a lot like a bunch of giant rats, some treasure, some traps. But nobody was feeling it.

What does all this mean?  Not much.  There was no way that things were going to get more exciting after the events in Denethix, so I probably should have just called it a night.  What does this say about the recent Dwimmermount kerfuffle? Well, mood is a big part of things, so if the mood isn't right, there's no way things are going to play well.  I'm sure that's why the 2000 cp was a big deal, the players were bored early on and found something to get irritated about.  If things had gone better, nobody would have cared about whether it was 2000 cp or 1998 cp.

And finally, a warning to potential buyers - I use round numbers of coins most of the time. Makes addition simpler, and nobody really cares.  If you do care, I caution you against buying ASE, the inhabitants are mad for coin-rolls.

Seriously, I just popped my favorite module S2: White Plume Mountain open at random, here's the treasure: "1000 ep, 200 pp, 4 pieces of jewelry worth a total of 11000 gp, blah blah magic items".  Round numbers!


session recap, 9/26/2012

Mongo the Fighter (4), his henchpersons "Bunny" the Thief (1) and William the Sentinel (1), and his soil-bearers Malazar and Benarto
Gutboy the Cleric (4), his henchman Trezgar the Elf (1) and his dog Rufus II
George P. Burdell the Cleric (3) and his henchmen, Slick Eddie the Thief (1) and Seegar the Elf (1), and his dog

The group gathered in the Wretched, the stinking hole of a tavern in Tarryfield, and planned their next move.

George: So, did you find that robot we needed for the sacrifice?
Mongo: Robot? Oh yeah. No. Not my problem.
Gutboy: What do you think? Head to the cat house and clear it out?
George: I don't think we're going to find robots there.
Gutboy: There was that level full of robots in the dungeon. Let's go there.

Whatever delights the cat-infested house had to offer, they were not tempting this night - robots were what was needed. Faded memories of robots in the gatehouse level drew the adventurers back to the great dungeon beneath Mt. Rendon - not that robots, or anything else, had been seen in the upper levels for many a week.  The trip was mostly uneventful - a few goblins tried attacking them as they crossed a cornfield, but they were easily driven off.

Regardless, they began sneaking through the well-lit gatehouse level. The walls were covered with the graffiti left by other adventuring parties - Slezgar's triple-E logo, now mostly painted over by other tags: "17B" written in an atom-symbol, a club symbol from a deck of playing cards, an empty bottle, a red square, a green circle, and four eyes in a diamond-pattern.

Other than graffiti, the topmost level was empty - until they heard a noise. Voices. Human voices, in a room up ahead. The party walked in on a fellow group of adventurers - 4 humans and some kind of giant praying mantis with a halberd and a squirming sack.

Gutboy: Hi there!
Herman: What? Huh? Oh, hi. Who the devil are you?
Gutboy: We're the Mongos
Herman: Ahh, I'm Herman, and this is my crew.
Gutboy (to giant bug): What are you?
P'lik'nik: I am P'lik'nik, from the Lanthanide Wastes. Click.
Mongo: An Insect-Man?
P'lik'nik: Yes. Come to the dungeon for gold, and babies. Stupid human laws, have to eat grunkie babies
Gutboy: You're eating babies?
P'lik'nik (shaking sack): Just baby grunkies
Herman: So, what are you doing down here?
Gutboy: Looking for robots. Have you seen any?
Herman: Haven't seen anything, just arrived. We're looking for gold. You seen any?
Gutboy (presumably unaware that Mongo and Razoe had already looted this): There's a stream of it downstairs
Herman: Really? Where? You've got to show us how to get there
Mongo: No!  No.  Robots first, then gold.
Herman: Plllllllleeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaassssssssssssseeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Gutboy: No, we need robots
Herman: I can't believe this. Nobody ever tells us where the gold is.  This is really lame.  Why won't you take us? C'mon, show us the gold

As the conversation continued along these lines, one of the other human adventurers face began to twitch uncontrollably. Finally, with a cry of rage, he pulled his heavy flail from his back and charged at the party. Herman sighed a loud "Not this again" and he and his crew drew weapons.

The fight was short and one-sided - Seegar's sleep spell sent most of them into a deep slumber, and the one man unaffected was quickly slain. Their armor and weapons were stripped, and the baby grunkies were released into the dungeon.

Not wanting to be burdened while searching for robots, the party headed back out of the dungeon and then buried the gear they had looted from Herman's crew.  Another debate ensued, and the merits of lurking in the upper levels preying on adventuring parties were weighed against the risks of searching for robots down below.  Eventually, a third choice was made - several weeks back they had found a tunnel further down the mountain, supposedly inhabited by moktars.  That was to be the new target.

The group made their way to the tunnel, and Mongo's flashlight picked out the flabby buttocks of a moktar gesticulating in the distance. He quickly shut off the light, and then the party fired their bows at the cat-man. He went down with a yelp, and a half dozen further moktars got up from where they had been reclining and ran off.  Advancing into this room, they found scaled, fishy-smelling arms and legs roasting on a fire, dozens of crates of iron rations labeled "PRODUCT OF DENETHIX", and three barrels of water.  Then the sound of metal on stone was heard from further ahead.

The party moved onwards, and entered a room with eight moktars - one enormous individual, two extremely large, and five normal individuals, standing behind a tipped-over table.  Another sleep spell took out four of the normal-sized moktars, and a ferocious battle began.  The enormous moktar chief swung a huge iron maul, occasionally hitting his comrades with the back-swing, and "Bunny" was knocked unconscious by one of the chief's bodyguards.  Divine prayers from George healed her wounds, and the moktar leaders were soon dead - and then the sleepers were slaughtered.

Investigating this new room, they found drag marks leading to a tunnel heading north, as if something heavy had been pulled away. They also saw that the moktar chief had been trying to build a throne-of-skulls.  Sadly, he only had enough of the smelly fish-man skulls to make a seat about 1' high, with a board on top for extra support. The chief also had a pouch on a leather thong around his neck, containing a key and a pink diamond.

As the party argued about whether to proceed further, the sound of metal-on-stone echoed through the tunnels again, and soon another eight moktars charged into the room.  Gutboy's hold person spell immobilized most, and the slaughter was quick.  Mongo was somewhat wounded by the multiple fights, so he crawled into his sleeping bag - the dirt-bearers Malazar and Benarto (dressed in tuxedos after having been sent to butler school in Denethix) efficiently and politely filled the bag with dirt. Mongo's carrot-skin absorbed precious nutrients from the dirt, and he was soon fully healed.

Emboldened, the party followed the drag-marks north, and found a portcullis blocking the tunnel. The two moktars beyond made rude gestures - a poor decision on their part, as one of the moktars fell to bow-fire.  The second fled for his life down the hall.

Mongo then extended his 20' pole, and was able to just reach a red button just about 20' down the hall. Pressing it caused the portcullis to raise, and they headed north. The next room had a half dozen badly wounded moktars surrounding an iron strong-box. Bravely, the moktars tried to fight off the party, but it was to no avail - all were slain.

Flush with victory, the party used the chief's key to pop open the strongbox.  Inside were 750 gp, a crude silver sculpture of a fish-man, an ancient staple remover in excellent condition, four grease-stained plastic baby dolls, a scroll tube containing an arcane scroll, and a yellow cylinder 1' long and 4" wide, with a crystal at one end and fins and a propeller on the other.

The party decided to call the expedition a success and head back towards the city.  They dug up the buried loot from Herman's crew, and then traveled back the long way to avoid Chelmsfordshire and potential tax collectors, and then headed back through Tarryfield, Lugosi, and eventually to Denethix.

George first stopped at the Grand Temple and prayed to Kiod for further guidance. Kiod must have felt that George had enough help, for the God's Eye remained blank.

The next stop was at the temple of Science. The attendants quickly called for the head Scientist, Gregory, who stood 12' tall as he marched out on his stilts and wearing his long lab-coat.

Gregory: Have you come to abandon your foolish gods and worship their master, Science?
Gutboy: Well, no, we just wanted this identified (showing him the yellow cylinder)
Gregory: Let me see that.  Hmmm.  Yes, these fins here are for stabilizing the device, and this crystal is a light-emitter. See this black nodule on the side?  Pressing that will activate the light. Ahh, it is a submersible light, that will remain in place when released.
Gutboy: Not a missile?
Gregory: No, no. The fins and propellers keep it motionless while underwater.
George: Do you have any robots we could borrow?
Gregory: Borrow? No, no. Our robots are dedicated to the service of Science
Gutboy: I guess we'll have to go after cyborg Mr. Roper
Gregory: What's this? A cyborg?
Gutboy: Yes, he's our landlord
Gregory: A Scientist?
Mongo: No, an evil book made him a robot. And Janet
Gregory: A heretic! This is not permitted! The unlawful use of Science must be punished! Do you know where this heretic is?
Mongo: At the Regal Beagle. We can take you
Gregory (to his assistants): Quickly! Assemble a strike team! This heresy must be punished!
George: We're going to sacrifice him to Kiod
Gregory: A fitting end. We will assist you in capturing this Roper.

The strike team was composed of three Scientists, their names tattooed on their heads: Thomas, Ferris, and Lois. Two robots accompanied them.  The party led them through the streets of Denethix towards the Regal Beagle.  As they went, Mongo, Gutboy, and George had a quiet discussion about whether they should jump the strike team and seize the robots for the sacrifice - the cult of Science had been useful to them, though, and they did not want to alienate them. A cyborg would have to do.

As the heavily-armed crew stormed into the Regal Beagle, the customers and bartender dove for cover.  They marched into the backroom, where the cyborg Mr. Roper looked up from his newspaper in surprise. Gutboy cast hold person upon him, and the cybernetically-enhanced landlord was paralyzed.

Thomas walked up to Roper and began whispering in his ear as he prodded at his head-electronics with a screwdriver. It appeared Thomas was uttering nonsense - "The sky behind the clouds is green. Green is the sky behind the clouds." Eventually, he stopped, and stood up from his work.

Thomas: I cannot subvert this one to our control. His mind has too many organics.
Gutboy: Can you deactivate all the robot parts?
Thomas: Yes, good idea

Thomas sliced through wires and tubes as Gutboy, Mongo, and George bound Mr. Roper tight.  Satisfied, they decided to haul the incapacitated landlord back to their apartment and hold him there until the sacrifice at the Harvest Festival the following week.

Gains: Lots of adventuring gear, 1000 gp pink diamond, 750 gp, 300 gp silver fish-man statue, 10 gp staple remover, worthless greasy baby dolls, tube with arcane scroll, submersible flashlight, Mr. Roper
Kills: Herman's crew, many moktars
Losses: None


Some ASE2-3 art

A teaser - here's some of the interior art that Brian "Glad" Thomas did for ASE2-3:


Go look at Gusty's Obelisk

Gusty over at Dungeon of Signs has put together a PDF adventure around the Obelisk of Forgotten Memories.  Totally worth checking out:  Obelisk of Forgotten Memories - PDF for Download

He's also contributing some art for ASE2-3, which you can see here and here and here, and he's got another blog post with an ASE-friendly adventure called The Red Demon

(at least, I'm assuming those are illustrations for ASE2-3, I'm terrible about actually emailing and asking, it's way more fun just to assume and be corrected later)

Going a bit off topic, the last of the art is trickling in from Brian "Glad" Thomas as well, and the writing is virtually done, so things will release "soon".  Which still means a couple of weeks to get through proofreading, layout, cover, post-processing the art and maps, etc, but the end is in sight.




Requirements: None
Prime Requisite: INT
Hit Dice: 1d6
Maximum Level: None

Scientists are the priests and enforcers of the cult of Science (described in ASE1). They do not have any spell-casting abilities – but the preserved lore of the cult has taught them how to perform many marvels just the same.

As a Scientist gain levels, the cult recognizes his increased Scientific prowess by bestowing secret learning and cybernetic enhancements upon him. At each odd-numbered level, the Scientist may choose a new power from those listed below, as long as he meets the minimum level requirement. All powers require either surgery or intense study, and the Scientist must spend a minimum of a week at a temple of Science after gaining an odd-numbered level in order to benefit from a new ability.

Scientists may use any weapons and/or shields in combat, but are restricted to leather armor for religious reasons (leather lab coats dyed white are a particular favorite).

Scientific Powers and Enhancements
1Cybernetic Arm
1Identify Technology
1Wired Reflexes
3Cybernetic Legs
3Repair Robot
3Repulsor Field
3Targeting Reticule
5Recharge Item
5Ring Modulator
7Adrenaline Boost
7Power Cell
7Subvert Robot
11Mind Transfer
11Supremacy of Science

Adrenaline Boost: Once per day, the Scientist is able to release vast quantities of adrenaline into his bloodstream from a reservoir in his abdomen. This acts as per the haste spell for 3 rounds.

Bioanalysis: In addition to being able to measure the pulse, blood pressure, and body temperature of a patient, the Scientist is able to use the information his enhanced senses provide to determine if someone is lying with 75% accuracy.

Cybernetic arm: A Scientist with this ability has had one of his arms replaced by a mechanical equivalent. This adds +1 to his Strength (not to exceed 18). This is not compatible with fingerblades, and a scientist with the fingerblades ability will lose it from the replaced arm. This ability may be taken twice (once for each limb replaced).

Cybernetic legs: Both of the character’s legs have been replaced with pneumatic-driven hardware. His movement rate increases by 30’ (10’), he is able to jump 10’ in the air vertically, and 20’ horizontally (40’ from a running start).

Fingerblades: The Scientist’s fingertip bones are replaced with retractable razors. He is able to attack twice per round, once with each hand, doing 1d4 damage (plus strength bonus) per hand. Fingerblade fighting techniques require both hands free – the character cannot combine a melee weapon attack with an off-hand fingerblade attack.

Hemofiltration: The character’s kidneys and liver are replaced with an improved biotech filtration system. He is now immune to poison. Few Scientists take this ability, as it also eliminates the intoxicating effects of drugs and alcohol.

Identify Technology: The Scientist has immersed himself in ancient lore and data sheets, and is able to identify the purpose of technological artifacts found in the lost ruins of civilization. He has a 10% chance per level (max 90%) of successfully identifying a technological item’s powers.

Mind Transfer: This ability enables a Scientist to transfer his mind into a computer or robot. The transfer is irreversible – the Scientist’s body dies once the mind-pattern is moved into the robot. The poor reliability of millennia-old machinery eventually leads to madness and system failure among the Scientists transferred, so as a rule these hybrid minds are shoved in the back of a dusty closet after a few decades of operation.

Power Cell: A small energy cell is embedded in the Scientist’s abdomen, with a power-port exposed on his sternum. A curved “cap” of gleaming solar panels is grafted onto his skull in place of hair, allowing the cell to recharge after a day spent in the sun. The cell gives an additional 10 shot capacity to laser pistols and rifles wielded by the Scientist. The cell may not be used with the recharge item ability – it does not deliver nearly enough current.

Recharge Item: The Scientist may attempt to recharge drained technological artifacts. He has a 10% chance per level (max 90%) of successfully recharging an item, granting an additional 2d4 charges (up to the item’s maximum number of charges). On failure, however, the item is ruined. The recharge attempt requires a functioning power source and a collection of transformers, parts, and cables – and is thus usually performed at a temple of Science. Recharging laser pistols and rifles is a simple affair, and success is automatic with those items.

Repair Robot: A Scientist with this ability may use spare parts ripped from some otherwise useless technological item to jury-rig repairs to a robot, “healing” it of 2d8 points of damage. This ability may only be used once per day on any given robot (even by a different Scientist) as there is only so much jury-rigging a single machine can take and still function properly.

Repulsor Field: A small gravitational repulsor module is implanted under the Scientist’s ribcage. The field repels anything moving quickly towards the scientist – there is a 50% chance that small missile weapons such as bullets miss outright, and a 10% chance that  large missiles (boulders, rockets, etc) and melee weapons miss. This check is made after the normal “to hit” roll an attacker makes. Massless and near-massless weapons (such as lasers and plasma charges) are not affected by the repulsor field.

Ring Modulator: The Scientist’s voice is enhanced with a horrifying electronic effect, causing his voice to sound at both higher and lower frequencies simultaneously. Once per combat, the Scientist may screech threats at his opponents, forcing any sentient opponent within 30’ to make an immediate morale check. Robots find ring modulators soothing and are not affected by them.

Subvert Robot: A Scientist with this ability has been trained in the verbal, electronic, and data manipulations necessary to subvert a robot or a computer, modifying their programming to obey the Scientist. The target robot may make a save vs. spells to avoid the subversion. A subverted robot may save once per day on each following day to recover its original programming. After the third failed saving throw, the robot has been permanently re-programmed. A robot that saves successfully versus subversion may not be re-subverted until the Scientist gains a level. Subvert robot may only be attempted once per day, due to the mental strain it imposes on the Scientist.

Supremacy of Science: Vented implants in the Scientist’s torso are able to release a spherical cloud of nanomites capable of suppressing magic within a 10’ radius. No magical effects will operate in the sphere, creatures normally only harmed by magic will be susceptible to normal weapons while in it. It does not prevent summoned or magical creatures from entering the sphere, but their abilities will likely be severely hampered. The cloud is visible as a thin mist, and lasts for two hours. This ability may only be used once per day, as it takes time to generate new nanomites.

Suturepede: The suturepede is a biomechanical centipede-like creature surgically implanted within the Scientist’s body. When he falls at or below 0 hit points, the suturepede will exit through a wound and graft itself to the injuries, using its legs as sutures if necessary. This will immediately restore 3d8 hit points to the Scientist. The suturepede dies and falls off within 1d4 days of use, and the character must visit a temple of Science to have a replacement suturepede implanted.

Targeting Reticule: One of the Scientist’s eyes has been replaced with an improved targeting lens in a cylindrical black housing. He now has a +2 bonus to hit with lasers, guns, and other missile weapons, and detects secret doors on a roll of 1-2 on 1d6. Only one eye may be replaced with a targeting reticule – two reticules would only cause migraine headaches with no improvement in accuracy.

Well-Grounded: A mesh of stranded copper wire is implanted below the Scientist’s skin. Electrical attacks now only do half damage, and on a successful saving throw (if applicable) do no damage at all.

Wired Reflexes: A Scientist with this ability has had local microprocessors implanted into his joints, speeding the movements of his limbs. The improved reflexes grant +1 to his dexterity score.

Scientist Level Progression
ExperienceLevelHit Dice (1d6)Powers
300,00010+1 hp only*5
400,00011+2 hp only*6
500,00012+3 hp only*6
600,00013+4 hp only*7
700,00014+5 hp only*7
800,00015+6 hp only*8
900,00016+7 hp only*8
1,000,00017+8 hp only*9
1,100,00018+9 hp only*9
1,200,00019+10 hp only*10
1,300,00020+11 hp only*10
* Hit point modifiers from constitution are ignored

Scientist Saving Throws
LevelBreath AttacksPoison or DeathPetrify or ParalyzeWandsSpells or Spell-like Devices

Scientist Attack Table
Attack Value for Armor Class




Requirements: None
Prime Requisite: CON
Hit Dice: 1d8
Maximum Level: 12

Robot characters start as slender exoskeletons with positronic brains encased in a relatively fragile acrylic head-shell. As it gains levels, a robot scavenges parts from other robots to enhance its strength and abilities.

Robots may wield melee and missile weapons in their pincers just as their human counterparts do with their hands. Additionally, as they level, robots build an increasingly deadly array of weapons into their arms for use in combat.

A robot does not wear armor or use a shield – as it gains levels, it upgrades its internal engines to support additional weight and constructs and incrementally improves an exoskeleton shell. A robot character does apply its dexterity bonus to its armor class.

Robots are especially susceptible to the attacks of rust monsters, taking 2d8 points of damage per round from contact with such creatures. On the plus side, being machines, robots are necessarily immune to the effects of poison and disease.

Robots are able to self-repair at a rate of 1 hit points of damage per level over an 8 hour period, given access to a suitable source of scrap metal. Clerical healing spells have no effect on their metal bodies – only specially trained Scientists are able to speed the repair process of a damaged robot.

The positronic brains of robots are deeply sensitive to negative energy, and thus robots are vulnerable to the level draining effects of the undead. A robot losing a level will involuntarily eject hardware as the negative energy courses through its machine intellect. Robots reduced to level 0 simply fall apart, and do not become undead robots.

Robot characters follow a well-established manufacturing schedule when gaining levels, delineated below. They must have access to the remains of a higher-level robot or automaton to gain a level, as no new parts have been manufactured for thousands of years.

Robot Level Progression
ExperienceLevelHit Dice (1d8)
500,00010+2 hp only *
700,00011+4 hp only *
950,00012+6 hp only *
* Hit point modifiers from constitution are ignored

Robot Special Abilities
LevelACUnarmed Attacks per RoundUnarmed Attack DamageSpecial Abilities
1911d4Unarmed attack uses crushing pincer-grip
2811d6Retracting drill added to wrist-bearing, increasing the robot’s hand-to-hand combat capability
3711d6May hover up to 30’ high using propulsion units embedded in legs. Cannot move horizontally unless pushing off a surface (at half normal movement rate in this instance)
4621d6Second drill added, and arm synchronization improved to allow two simultaneous attacks
5521d6Plasma cannon embedded in right arm (as per weapon description in ASE1, ammunition must acquired separately)
6421d6Strength increases by 1 (up to max of 18)
7321d8Retracting circular saws added to both arms, increasing the robot’s hand-to-hand combat capability
8221d8Second plasma cannon added, this time on the left arm. Dual plasma cannon attacks now possible
9121d8Strength increases by 1 (up to max of 18)
10041d8Extra pair of arms added, each with a circular saw for hand-to-hand combat
11-141d8Strength increases by 1 (up to max of 18)
12-241d8Two more plasma cannons added on the extra pair of arms, allowing a total of four plasma attacks per round

Robot Saving Throws
LevelBreath AttacksPoison or DeathPetrify or ParalyzeWandsSpells or Spell-like Devices

Robot Attack Table
Attack Value for Armor Class