Don't Forget Your Boots

Meandering aimlessly around the GURPS landscape

Tag: Rol-X

“Corbin, Inc. – Now with additional Corbin!”, Session #17

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ:

  • Alric Redbeard, barbarian from the far North who ain’t get on no dang teleportin’ machine, Hannibal! (PC)
  • Gabby the Cabin Girl, the pirate-swashbuckler who would not DIE! (PC)
  • The Knight of the Blood Oath, aka TKotBO, aka Corbin, holy warrior, founding member of the party, and prodigal returned (PC)
  • Posy, cat-folk sniper-scout who’s thinking she might need to get more exercise after all these restful combats (PC)
  • Rolf, new hire, dog-folk knight, and giver of free, very disturbing, hugs (PC)
  • Tantric McSwayze, leprechaun demonologist, learning to adapt his style to the needs of the dungeon (PC)
  • Dean and Roman, long-lost junior members of the shield wall (NPC hirelings)

Not appearing or not entirely player-controlled this session:

  • D’arth Loathing, corpse-eater unholy warrior, out searching for his nemesis, a holy warrior whose name he does not know… (PC)
  • Mississippi Jedadiah Walker, proprietor of the newest underground blues club and breakfast bar in all of Tembladera (PC)
  • Needles, too busy spending money (and shoplifting) in all the best shops to go into the dungeon this week (PC)
  • “Dobby”, Alric’s loyal goblin valet, probably still tied up outside the inn (NPC henchman)
  • Pai, cat-folk cleric and Posy’s loyal frenemy, left behind due to miscommunication, slept in and had a nice brunch instead… (NPC henchman)
  • Trevor, Jed’s eager young apprentice, now learning how to mix a proper martini (NPC henchman)

Rumors Gathered:

With Needles missing, Posy took over his rumor beat, on the bad side of town:

  • One of the sewer inhabitants named D’arth Fester is trying to sell some artifacts he claims were made by the dwarves before their empire fell. Nobody understands what they are. They’re thick, rectangular pieces of glass, a bit larger than a human hand, set in an orichalcum frame. “Word on the street was, you might be interested…?”
    • Posy gave the informer a look that clearly said, no, she wasn’t.
  • There’s a tribe of leprechauns that lives in the mountains. Rumor has it that they have a secret horde of gold stashed away in the dungeon. If you catch one of them, you might be able to get ’em to tell you where it’s hidden.

Gabby, Alric, and Rolf hung around at the inn.

  • Gabby overheard the ramblings of a drunk outside the inn. He said he went into the ruins to help search for a lost child, but ran into something that he cannot describe, something which obviously frightened him badly. He says that since then, his luck’s been soured and his nerve has been broken.
  • She also saw a gambling halfling thrown out of the inn when it was discovered that she was actually a leprechaun in disguise.
  • Alric hung out with a new arrival, fresh off the boat, who claimed that he saw a sea serpent as big as his ship on the voyage. He says it would have attacked, but the sailors distracted it by throwing some cured hams overboard and taking evasive action.
    • Alric: “So there’s hams in the water? Guys, we need to get a boat.”
  • Rolf heard a story from a warrior who told of how his party thought they had found an unguarded entrance into the ruins, through a door halfway up a sheer cliff face. When they tried to climb to it, though, they found themselves under attack by gargoyles who had hid among the rocks. The gargoyles grabbed the party’s packs and flew away with them, dragging several party members to their doom.

What Happened:

Alric spent the week practicing the finer points of the swashbuckling way, improving his acrobatic skills. He also practiced with his shiny new weapon of mass dungeon destruction, “Stormbringer”, an oversized dwarven great-axe with a backup hammer-head. In return for Gabby’s help in his training, Alric helped her with the final touches of training for her dire wolf pup (last seen back in session #7!), now a fully grown alpha female, ready to take her place at Gabby’s side.

During the week, Jed opened his new tavern. The party changed the location of their morning meetings from The Inn to Jed’s new place. (GM note:  I didn’t even realize until just now, but I don’t think I ever caught a name for the place. Given the way the humor skewed this session, I’m a little afraid to wonder…)  One of the traditions of the business was that the party’s usual table had a chair that no one was allowed to sit in, with a nice red cushion:  the Chair of the Blood Oath. It was reserved for Corbin, Inc.’s absent leader, The Knight of the Blood Oath.

Opening the bar didn’t keep Jed so busy that he couldn’t pursue other business, though. He recruited Rolf, a dog-folk warrior who fights with morningstar and spiked shield, to help bolster the party’s strength. Being dog-folk, Rolf pretty much hates all living beings that aren’t dog-folk. On the other hand, he’s an avid and enthusiastic member of the Church. He likes to sing. (Nobody says anything about how well he sings. Especially anywhere near him.) The clerics have managed to get the idea through to him that if he wants to sing in the choir, he has to stay on the good side of the gods, and the gods frown on randomly killing and eating one’s fellow church-members. Thus, he tolerates humans, so long as they don’t mind him belting out random hymns in a howl loud enough to wake the dead. And his other bad habit, about (GM: …let’s put the best possible face on it…) being a cuddler with no sense of personal space.

The first piece of business that Jed took care of, though, had been that glowing orb of Needles’. He, of course, took it straight to Strang. Jed and Mamu made the usual exchange for the piece of orichalcum, taking payment in cash, but then the question of the book came up. Mamu wanted to buy it for Strang, but Jed dug in his heels. He didn’t want cash. He desired knowledge.

Therefore, Strang and Jed struck a deal by which both would study Jed’s book, sharing the knowledge thus obtained. As it worked out, Strang clearly understood their shared research as a master/apprentice relationship, with, of course, himself in the masterful role. He put Jed to work doing the arcane equivalent of sweeping the floors and polishing the magical brass. Still, Jed obtained a better idea of what the Apparatus of Argha-hal was. Strang revealed that his researches had reached a point where he thought that he could somehow move people back and forth through space, casting them into the dungeon and recovering them remotely. Of course, this was all theory, until he could find a band of brave adventurers to risk their lives and sanity…

* * *

On the morning of Saturn’s-Day, the party gathered at Jed’s, only to find… sacrilege! Someone sitting in the Chair of the Blood Oath!  Someone wearing… a great helm and a Rol-X shield?  Slurping his drink through a long straw, so he could keep the armor on?  It was TKotBO, last seen back in session #10, back from his long journey!

TKotBO shared a thumbnail sketch of his adventures since they had last seen him. After drawing off Vanger d’Hast’s assassins, he had turned himself to the work of his liege, Strang. He had traveled up and down the coast of the New World, seeking out orichalcum bits held by other wizards and those who had no idea what they had, recovering lost caches hidden here and there. The results of his labor had returned to the tower of Strang, to be added to the growing structure of the Apparatus. He had finally returned to Tembladera, having received a summons. Strang needed him to assemble a group of adventurers with more boldness and greed than self-preservation instinct, to do something about something having to do with the thing… details didn’t really matter. Strang wanted TKotBO and some other folks to do something crazy. It was go time.

While discussing the quest, with some details provided by Jed, someone referred to “Strang’s infernal machine”. Alric latched on to the word “machine”, and flat refused to have anything to do with the endeavor. Machines mean technology mean scary violations of the natural order of things, and Alric doesn’t play that game. While he expanded on his anti-machine argument, a series of gestured conversations were had, which culminated in one of Jed’s bartenders delivering a new mug of ale to Alric. Upon his first quaff, he passed out. They had slipped him a mickey.

So, the party packed up and went down the street to Strang’s tower to volunteer, with Alric thrown over Rolf’s shoulder. TKotBO was able to quickly locate Dean and Roman, his old squire-hirelings, to hire on and help fill out the shield wall. However, in their enthusiasm and without Jed to play nursemaid and make sure everyone was prepared, the party forgot most of their ordinary prep work. Nobody picked up a blessing, all the Continual Light torches and light-stones had worn out, and nobody bought any new healing potions. Thanks to a miscommunication, Posy left Pai behind, but at least she remembered to replenish all her trick arrows.

At Strang’s, Mamu explained the offered quest.  Strang would pay 250sp to each party member, in exchange for playing guinea pig. He thought that he could open a doorway across space and deposit the party in one of the mysterious octagonal rooms. (The party immediately dubbed the octagonal rooms “hearthstones”.) He then thought that he could open another door, later, and retrieve them. After hearing the offer, Gabby led the charge to volunteer.

McSwayze offered some observations on how teleportation magic was one of the few things in this universe to be outright forbidden by the gods. If Strang could do what he claimed he could, it would be an arcane breakthrough of unimaginable proportions.

Mamu showed the party into the room under Strang’s tower where the Apparatus was taking shape. While they rearranged their marching order to take into account the small opening, Strang entered, wearing an expensive robe and a jeweled hat, holding his hands up in front of himself. He was followed by Jed, wearing somewhat less-expensive robes, carrying a box full of mystical paraphernalia. He, in turn, was followed by Trevor, wearing his normal working-wizard’s robes and carrying several bags and bundles of sundries. They set to work around the Apparatus, with Strang taking the lead. He went to work like a man playing the world’s most complicated glass harmonica, touching the orichalcum structure here and there. Under his hands, it began to light up.

In due course, a disk of blue light appeared in the “doorway” of the Apparatus. Shoving Alric’s unconscious body in front of them, Rolf crawling on his knees to fit through the narrow opening, one by one, they entered the portal, and fell into darkness.

* * *

When they came to themselves, they found themselves in a stone-lined chamber. The ceiling twenty feet overhead shed a soft light. One side of the chamber opened out into a hallway, which extended sixty or seventy feet to another, similar room. The midpoint of the hallway widened into a larger room, containing a pool with a low stone curb. Areas of this chamber, and the hallway near it, had clusters of razor-sharp metallic crystals, like knife blades, coming out of the walls.

None of this was the most interesting thing about the room, though. In the other chamber, at the far end of the hallways, there was a hole in the floor, with two more-or-less humanoid figures kneeling around it. They were shaped like elves, but with four arms. They were barefoot, wearing shorts and short-sleeved shirts of skin-tight black fabric. Their most striking piece of apparel, however, was their headgear: both wore featureless black masks that covered their entire heads in an unbroken expanse of black leather. They stood, each drawing four long, curved knives from inverted scabbards on their backs.

From his crawling position, Rolf broke into a series of sharp, alarmed barks. This was enough to wake up Alric, who was disoriented to begin with, but quickly caught up. TKotBO and the shield-bearers quickly formed a defensive line across the entire hallway, with the holy warrior belting out instructions:  No one should cross the line without orders. Alric, Gabby, and Rolf should form up in the second rank, taking advantage of their superior reach and range to strike at any enemy who came close enough. Posy and McSwayze should hang back, attacking from range. (The plan had been for McSwayze to summon his demon after they established a toehold on the other side. They hadn’t expected to fall directly into combat. Thus, no big demon to assist.)

Great plan, which lasted all of half a second. The two weird elves burst into movement, blurring from sheer speed. They took up positions at the central fountain. Then, one of them raised a knife-bearing hand, and gave the universally-recognized “come get some” gesture. Gabby couldn’t stand for this, of course; one of the first lessons Cap’n taught her was to not take crap like that off any sailor. She slipped right through the line, ignoring TKotBO’s shouts, and ran to meet them.

While Gabby engaged from the front, Posy came out of the shadows behind the bad guys, taking advantage of surprise to plug one right in the back. She put an Icy Touch arrow into the place where elves keep their lungs. The bad news, he didn’t drop with that tell-tale whistle that said he was done fighting and would rather pray for a while; the good news, he was covered with a thick coating of white frost, which rooted his feet to the floor and seriously cramped his mobility.

The warriors moved forward in good order, maintaining the wall, but it would take a couple of seconds to catch up with Gabby. McSwayze started charging a Stone Missile and picking his target.

While the ice-covered one tried and failed to break free, the other circled around, hitting Gabby several times in the neck, before scampering down the hall, slipping past the warriors, and taking up a position behind them, in easy striking distance of McSwayze! Gabby was gravely wounded, but managed to keep her feet. (GM: I mean, gravely. To the tune of -3xHP, or thereabouts.)

For a long, long time, that pretty much summarized the fight. The one weird elf ran back and forth, taking shots at PCs as it went. The ice-covered one dueled with TKotBO for a bit, before Bubbles, Gabby’s dire wolf pup, finally bit it on the leg and shattered the icy coating. After that, it, too, flashed back and forth like a bolt of lightning with four switchblades. The party members were forced to a defensive footing. Notable moments included Alric fencing with his axe, parrying attacks like the big weapon was a rapier, and TKotBO escaping a series of attacks only because the squires locked shields to protect him.

Gabby wasn’t the only one wounded. At one point, one of the elf-things ended up in position behind Dean, and took advantage of it to cut his throat. He fell, unconscious and barely clinging to life.

Finally, the fight degenerated into a series of critical hits and misses. Between some really lucky rolls when it counted, and some strategic applications of Luck, the Advantage, the party turned the tide. A critical hit meant that the elf-things couldn’t use their overwhelming speed to avoid the attack. A critical miss on an attack, and a critical success on a defense, put them both off-balance. One died of his wounds immediately, while the other lost consciousness after being pin-cushioned by Posy.

“You mind?” Rolf asked the cat-folk archer, waving his morningstar at the prone elf-creature. When she shook her head, indicating the negative, the dog-folk warrior stepped forward and pounded the creature into a wet stain. Things that dangerous don’t get taken prisoner.

The next hour was a mix of exhausted rest, light looting, and miscommunication. TKotBO noticed Dean’s wounds, since they had happened right next to him; he wasn’t so much aware of Gabby’s, since she had been at the other end of the hall. You would think he would have noticed how she was soaked in blood, but, after all, we are talking about a one-eyed man with his head in a bucket. He poured all of his Fatigue into healing Dean, which stabilized him but didn’t bring him back to consciousness, before he realized Gabby needed help as well. Everyone was tired, and could have used a meal, but everybody assumed that nobody had brought any food, even though Alric, being an experienced Barbarian Scout, always carries a little bit of this and that in his pouch, and Posy was carrying some dried fish snacks for later. They settled down at the end of the hall for a long rest.

Shortly after settling down, TKotBO realized that Gabby was bleeding to death, and nobody else in the party knew any first aid to speak of. Therefore, he got up from resting and staggered over to give her an adjustment, his esoteric medicine specialty being chiropractic in nature. Somehow, yanking on her leg helped stop the bleeding in her neck, but she was still near unconsciousness.

The looting didn’t take long at all. They gathered up the elf-things short swords, and recovered one of their hoods. (The other had been on the one Rolf finished off, and nobody cared to dredge it out of the mess.) The thing’s head, once exposed, looked nothing like an elf’s. It had large, black wells of eyes, a nigh-nonexistent nose, a tiny mouth and chin, and nearly no ears. (GM: “A grey,” TKotBO’s player announced, and he’s not wrong.)

The hood seemed to be made of one unbroken piece of leather, with a seam along the back. The seam could be made to open, with a tearing sound, but then seal itself back at a touch, merging so well as to be nearly invisible. The party dared each other to try it on for a moment, before Gabby decided to show ’em how it’s done. She wrapped the mask around her head and sealed it.

For a moment, she could barely breathe, and couldn’t see anything. Then, the mask became transparent, almost like it wasn’t there. Strange runes appeared in her field of vision. Then, she saw something so horrifying that it stunned her for several seconds before she could claw the mask off her face.

That was enough for everybody but TKotBO. He decided to give it a try, too. He saw the same kind of disturbing images, but his training helped him keep his cool. He could feel the mask rubbing his temples in a massaging manner. Considering upon the whole situation, he concluded that the elf-things were clearly some kind of Elder Thing, and so was this mask. None of them were really “alive”, like humans and so forth are alive. They’re all animated things that should not be. Likely, all the strikes at their vitals had been pointless, since the elf-things were just meat puppets for forces outside the universe. Most likely, that wasn’t a massage the mask was giving him… more likely, his head was in the mask-creature’s mouth, and it was trying to digest him.

Ah, well. He could heal himself faster than it could chew. He decided to keep it, wearing it under his cloth cap and great helm.

Finally, TKotBO announced, he had figured out where they were: they were clearly standing somewhere outside of time. These creatures had come from outside time and space. The gods had decreed that teleportation magic couldn’t work. Therefore, what Strang was doing couldn’t be teleportation magic, not really. Obviously, they had been transported to somewhere outside the universe — i.e., outside of time — to sidestep all that tiresome three-dimensional space. Basically, they were taking a shortcut, cutting through the elf-things’ back yard.

This was all philosophically very interesting, but didn’t change the fact that before they were even a third of the way through their proposed rest, Posy and Rolf heard some disturbing sounds from back up the hallway. First, there was a pop, like a soap bubble bursting. Then, there was a whisper of sound like a man-sized cat landing on all fours. Finally, after several seconds, there were a series of “ting” sounds, like someone tapping two knives together to make them ring.

Another one of the things. Maybe more.

In no shape for facing more of those things, the party quickly and quietly moved to escape through the hole in the floor. Up to this point, they had mostly avoided it. A look showed that it was dark, and they had left a guard to make sure nothing crawled out of it while they were resting. Now, they jumped down it, one by one, sliding Dean down with them.

TKotBO led the way, falling the last few yards, but landing in the darkness with uncharacteristic grace. The others dropped in, bringing light, revealing their new location: they were in an octagonal closet. Quarters became tight before they were able to open the door, spilling out into the alchemical lab where they had fought the brass dwarf-golems. Looking back, they found no hole in the closet’s ceiling. It seemed that the hole had actually been, somehow, the other end of Strang’s portal.

If anything, the lab was a better camp site than the Hallway At The Edge Of Time. They set up to finish resting. McSwayze finally summoned his bound demon warrior. After about an hour, there came a slow knocking at the door. McSwayze took advantage of his size and stuck his head under the door to see who was knocking. It turned out to be a fat, naked zombie, and he had a couple of friends with him.

Rolf and Alric formed up to chase off the zombie, and had Gabby — still barely keeping her feet — throw open the door and take cover. When she did, the first zombie gave a big grin and threw up his arms as if to hug Rolf, who ran right into him with a shield slam. The bloated corpse exploded on contact! Rolf was hurt, but Alric managed to throw himself behind the cover of the wall. The explosive zombie’s two buddies also went off, as they had been hit by shrapnel.

Licking at his wounds, Rolf mentioned what a shame it was that nobody had picked up any healing potions. “You mean like these?” Alric asked, revealing a few leftovers from last session that had been rolling around at the bottom of his pouch. Rolf and (finally!) Gabby split them, solidifying the cabin girl’s hold on consciousness.

Eventually, they were ready to explore. Some members of the party were more familiar with the second level of the Pit of Darkness than others, so they decided to go next door to sample the magical fountain. Rolf and TKotBO took drinks that gave them the “best meal you’ve ever had” sensation, but when Gabby tried the water, it burned like acid!  While TKotBO burned more Fatigue to keep her on her feet, Rolf amused himself by searching the fountain for coins.

Instead, he found a brass grate over a drain. Thinking that perhaps any wishing-well coins had washed down the drain, he successfully set his prodigious muscle to the task of tearing the grate loose. Seeing brass rings set into the wall of the drain, he told the others he would be right back, and started to climb down. Being a long-time fan of the buddy system, Alric went to go with him, borrowing one of Posy’s light arrows for illumination.

The others? Well, Gabby sure wasn’t about to cover herself in that acid water! Posy’s reaction was similar, but in her case, she didn’t care that it was magical water, just that it was water at all. TKotBO found the idea dubious, and didn’t care much for wading around in water while wearing his own weight in steel. McSwayze wasn’t that curious, either, and so stayed with the main group.

At first, the lingerers sat and rested, listening to the voices of the wanderers, as they climbed down with magical fountain-water spilling down their necks. Rolf remarked on the strange moss he found growing on the rungs, lower down. Alric answered that it wasn’t moss, it was some kind of… meat. Meat, growing over the brass rungs, and the wall of the well. A little later, Alric noted that those “rock formations” Rolf had observed were actually teeth. Still, they carried on, coming to a larger chamber. There, they found themselves being observed by several saucer-sized eyes set in the wall, and apparently suffering damage from the gaze. The warriors waded around smashing eyes, then continued deeper into the whatever-it-was. Rolf speculated it might be a purple worm.

Those who remained heard the others voices vanish in the distance, then listened to the silence. Eventually, TKotBO said, “Well, they got themselves digested. Damn shame, losing two fine soldiers like that. Shall we move along?” The others agreed, it was time to move on. After a quick discussion, they decided to return to the evil temple once used by the goblins and cleanse it once and for all, since they had McSwayze, a card-carrying exorcist, as well as the faith of TKotBO on their side.

Meanwhile, Rolf and Alric had forced themselves deeper into the foul depths of some gigantic beast. Alric sliced a big chunk of it off with his axe, causing a rumbling disturbance. Reasoning that if they had climbed down its throat, there must be an exit… of some kind… at the far end, they followed the slope of the land, so to speak, until they found a sphincter. One well over six feet in diameter.

At this point, Alric applied some earthy barbarian wisdom to cause the door to open, shall we say. (GM: I’m honestly not even sure what they all finally decided Alric did, specifically. Halfway through, I had to leave the room in tears…)

The two oversized warriors joined a foul and noxious flood of rich organic matter that splattered into a cavern several yards below. They managed to keep their own stomachs under control, but they were both coated with a thick layer of eye-watering nastiness. They waded free and tried to get oriented. It didn’t take long to notice there was a light coming from higher up in the cavern. They wiped off their hands and climbed up the rough rock face, finding themselves on the bottom side of another brass grate. The light was coming from above.

Again, Rolf proved himself stronger than an ancient brass drain cover. The two dragged themselves out of the sewers and into… what seemed to be another alchemical lab. The most notable features were three huge bronze tubs with a layer of burnt-on residue at their bottoms. One had a long leather coat thrown over its rim, which Rolf pocketed. After poking around looking for other treasure, finding none, they looked for exits, finding a stairway leading up and down. They went up.

They passed a side hallway, but continued up, hoping to break out to the surface, or at least some area they recognized. Several times, they offered to each other the possibility of going back and climbing back through Mount Beastie, but neither one found the possibility attractive. A couple of flights of stairs, and they found fog filling the stairwell above them. That was no good, so they turned around and tried the hall.

It led them around to the back of an empty room, with nothing more interesting than a collection of old, burnt torch stubs. They stepped outside the room, finding themselves on a twenty-foot wide balcony overlooking a vast, black space. Their one torch-equivalent wasn’t enough to give them a real idea of their situation. The light couldn’t reach the far side of the chasm.

They stuck their heads into another room or two, finding nothing but broken furniture, before they figured out that there was a broad stairway up in the other direction. They went in that direction, finding a dim light up ahead. Next to a door, they found a stone that had lit up, showing dwarven runes made out of light. Furthermore, the stone spoke with TKotBO’s voice! They opened the door and discovered inside… a dense wall of fog. Figuring they might as well check it out, they girded themselves for battle, and entered the fog.

There, they immediately became lost, and almost immediately became separated.

* * *

Once the somewhat-diminished party climbed to the top of the chain, TKotBO got his bearings and could lead the party to the Great Bridge. While Posy slipped across stealthily and without trouble, McSwayze couldn’t resist taking a shot at the sniper. He sent his winged demon flying up to take a closer look at the tower. Sadly, it took a crossbow bolt to the eye and was dispelled. On the plus side, that was enough of a distraction to let the rest of the party get from one side of the bridge to the other without being targeted.

From there, it was no large task to navigate to the old temple. Before beginning the exorcism, they checked the auditorium. The only thing of interest that they found was a stone behind the altar, which had lit up, displaying dwarven runes. They poked at the stone, trying to figure out how to pull it out of the altar. As they did so, a blue portal opened in mid-air, dropping Alric and Rolf in a foul-smelling pile in front of the altar.

Reunited, the party members reviewed their respective stories. Rolf was enthusiastic about participating in a real, live exorcism, and asked if he could help by singing. When given permission, he started to belt out his own special versions of such old-time Good Church favorites as “What A Mighty Fortress Is Anubis” and “Were You There When They Stabbed Baldur With A Piece Of Mistletoe And Brought About The End Of The Previous Cycle?”

Despite the din — not to mention the odor — TKotBO set to praying and McSwayze started incanting. Over the course of the next two hours, TKotBO had a vision in which he actually got to speak with Saturn, face-to-face. Empowered by this show of faith, McSwayze was able to bind and defeat the demon of the temple with ease. (GM: They both rolled a critical success, TKotBO rolling a complimentary Religious Ritual roll for McSwayze’s exorcism roll… both taking a penalty for Rolf’s failing Singing roll. The dog’s working from default, after all.)

In the lightened, less-cursed atmosphere, Posy noticed a bag of coin hidden under a chair. Considering this a sign from the gods, the party packed up and headed back to town, arriving at the gates of Tembladera after 7:30 PM. Back at the tower, Strang paid them their agreed-upon fee, while asking why they hadn’t taken advantage of the several times he had re-opened the portal for their return?

 

“Corbin, Inc.”, Session #10

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ:

  • Alric Redbeard, over-sized artist with the great axe (PC)
  • Mississippi Jedadiah Walker, all-around utility artillery wizard (PC)
  • Needles, swashbuckler-thief who finds enlightenment in the face of poultry (PC)
  • Posy, cat-folk scout, feeling a little claustrophobic (PC)
  • The Knight Of The Blood Oath, holy knight who has come to suffer from fame (PC)
  • “Dobby”, Alric’s hench-goblin (NPC)
  • Trevor, Jed’s bright-eyed and asthmatic young apprentice (NPC)
  • Höss, honest and loyal brute, despite recent abuses (NPC)
  • Dean and Roman, the left and right wings of the shield wall (NPC)
  • The Mount of the Knight of the Blood Oath, a mount sent to TKotBO from his god, in the form of an awe-inspiring dire chicken (NPC)

Still healing, and sleeping it off, back in camp:

  • Gabby the Cabin Girl, one-armed bandit (PC)

Rumors Gathered:

Alric hung around in the inn, listening to the tales swapped by the drinkers.

  • A fisherman tells the story of Salty Salvatore, a giant salt-water catfish said to haunt the waters around Tembladera. It is said to capsize fishing boats to get at the crews. Some sailors, it eats, while others, it carries away to a magical undersea paradise.
  • A tipsy barbarian claims to have wrestled with a spider as big as himself while on a delve. He said the funny thing was that it was wearing a crown the entire time.

Jed worked the town for recent news.

  • Something’s on the mind of the noble wizard Vanger d’Hast. He’s been keeping to his tower, where strange lights have been seen of late.
  • A dragon’s been sighted flying over the mountains near Tembladera.

Jed and Trevor also spent some time among the dusty tomes. In a moldy old book of obscure languages, Jed found mention of the phrase “Shald Ula”, which means “mother of…” something. The discussion in the book claimed that the last world definitely refers to creatures with eight legs, and argued it should be read as “spiders”. Annotations in the margins attempted to discredit this theory, arguing that it should be “octopus”, instead, or possibly “mutant squid”.

For his part, Trevor discovered an old treasure map. While initially resistant to sharing with his mentor, he soon saw the sense of cooperation.

TKotBO spent some time at the bar, giving patrons the stink-eye. While there, though, he heard that some parts of the dwarven ruins aren’t what they seem. They’re not stone, they’re alive! The dwarves kept watch-beasts that disguised themselves as rooms and halls, so that anyone who didn’t know which turn to avoid would find themselves drawn into the belly of the beast.

Needles put some time in at the gaming tables, and came away with a treasure map for his winnings.

What Happened:

One morning, TKotBO was approached by a dire chicken of remarkable beauty. It glowed with an inner light of holiness, and spoke to him in the voice of his god, Saturn. Witnesses to the scene fell to their knees in religious awe at the bird’s mighty call of “wark!” At last, his dedication to Saturn’s (sometimes bloody) business had been rewarded with a holy steed.

As Saturn’s-Day approached, most of the party gathered for their usual pre-delve huddle. Gabby remained in camp, still recovering from her crippling injury at the hands of Zombie Mongo, the undead siege beast. The party’s nigh-patron, Dektor Strang, remained in isolation with the large new pieces of orichalcum that Corbin, Inc., had taken from a party working for Vanger d’Hast. Having kept an eye out for signs of trouble, Jed reported on rumors that d’Hast’s rest has been troubled of late, speculating that the wizard’s plans had been upset by the loss.

Those of the party who expressed a strong opinion were in favor of returning to the caves of the flame lords. With no other pressing concerns, the mission was agreed to, and plans were laid. Jed obtained a large number of fire resistance potions, distilled into yummy chocolates. (Halloween episode.) Furthermore, he revealed that he had been researching spells for the inevitable battle with the flame lords, and could now “enchant” the party’s weapons with cold. When he used the word “enchant”, several pairs of stranger’s eyes darted his way in suspicion, so he explained he was speaking metaphorically:  he didn’t mean that he could permanently enchant them, only that he could now cast the Icy Weapon spell and maintain it on a couple of weapons for a short time.

Still, everybody was pretty happy with the idea of being invulnerable to the enemy’s attacks and wielding weapons suited to the enemy’s weaknesses. Words like “unstoppable” and “juggernaut” were thrown around with wild abandon.

The high confidence level wasn’t enough to distract them, this time, though. Before leaving town, they obtained the assistance of their favored hirelings. They were also careful to make sure that everyone’s blessings were up-to-date. The hirelings and henchmen got a simple blessing, while the major party members got the more expensive second-tier blessing. Supplies were re-stocked, including healing potions and torches.

The trip to the party’s accustomed entrance to the dungeon was uneventful. In fact, with TKotBO riding fully-armored on his chicken, and Trevor riding on the back of the donkey thus freed up, they made better time than ever. As usual, they left Dobby in charge of the camp and the mounts, with the exception of TKotBO’s chicken, who tagged along.

Posy took point and investigated the entrance. Inside, in the gloom, she saw three human figures, two woman and one child, dressed in rags. They were against the back wall, with one peeking around the corner into the hallway that led to the giant stone head. Posy gestured to the others for a conference and reported what she had seen. TKotBO searched his feelings and reported the presence of supernatural beings, relatively nearby, inside the dungeon. The party formed up, with Posy and Needles travelling in advance, keeping to the shadows. The two shield-bearers and TKotBO formed a wall with the henchmen on the flanks, and the dire chicken following close behind. Alric, Jed, Trevor, and Höss gathered near the entrance, while the shield-wall moved up into the entrance. At the signal, the dire chicken gave out a loud “Wark!”

The women jumped, turned, and rushed towards the party, crying for help. Their story was garbled, but the gist of it seemed to be that they were being pursued by ogres. They were directed to get themselves to the rear. Accordingly, they stepped past Jed. The women moved to embrace Trevor and Höss with cries of gratitude, while the kid stuck close to Jed’s heels.

Just as Jed thought that he might apply magic to the frightened women, just to make sure they were what they appeared to be, there came a wild howl from the dark dungeon hallway. Three ogres, wearing armor, with shields and morning-stars, showed themselves and made a warlike display. This drew the party’s focus.

At that point, the women transformed, revealing themselves to also be ogres, of similar breed to the ones in armor! They briefly scuffled with the two men, with the rest of the party unaware of what was going on. Posy revealed herself, peppering the oncoming ogres with arrows. Alric rushed ahead of the shield wall, deaf to TKotBO’s curses and calls for discipline on the line, where he engaged two of the ogres, was nearly flanked, and took a painful blow to the head. Needles and Jed realized what was going on behind the party, and turned to assist.

The momentum of the engagement seemed to be firmly in the party’s hands, when the dire chicken unleashed its aura of holy awe. The only one who was affected at all was Needles, who saw the unvarnished faces of the gods and collapsed in religious ecstasy.  Even without the thief-swashbuckler, though, the party still took the field. In the end, five of the six ogres lay dead, while the sixth was attempting to use Trevor as a human shield, with a firm grip on his neck.

“My life or his!” it exclaimed.

TKotBO gave this consideration, and then agreed, saying “I promise, you will live.”

The ogre nodded once, threw Trevor tumbling to the ground, and took to his heels, running up the road in the direction of town. There was some idle speculation, wondering if Dobby might hear the traveler coming and set up an ambush all by himself… which ended abruptly when Trevor chanted the harsh syllables of a spell. He threw the most powerful Concussion spell he could, shooting the ogre in the back as it fled. This was enough to knock the creature out, but luckily left it still breathing, and technically preserving TKotBO’s word.

Playing it as it lay, the party collected the ogre and tied it, hand and foot. Out of the heat of battle, Trevor was able to study the creature and declare that it was a kind of spirit, cursed to repeated reincarnation as a physical being in the mortal world. TKotBO used his healing touch on it, then questioned it while the party rested up. The chicken applied its own healing touch to Alric, and the others searched the bodies.

Aside from the ogre’s armor and gear, each ogre also carried a single, shiny, new gold piece. One of them also had a sheet of parchment bearing a charcoal drawing of a man in distinctive armor, carrying a Rol-X shield. Clearly, this was meant to be TKotBO.

When questioned, the ogre freely admitted the plot. They had been hired by a representative of Vanger d’Hast. They had been told to lurk around this particular dungeon entrance, which was known to be regularly used by the party of the man in the sketch, almost every Saturn’s-Day. They had been instructed to kill him and his companions. The ogre observed that this hadn’t really worked out for its comrades, but didn’t seem particularly upset about their deaths, mentioning that they would be back, by and by. It returned to its female human form, in a halfhearted attempt as seduction, but couldn’t quite manage a straight face while doing so.

Finally, everybody decided it was a fair enough finish to the interaction and they should all let bygones be bygones. TKotBO returned the ogre’s gold piece, saying it could go free, but if they ever met again, it would mean the ogre’s death. It agreed to the terms, and scampered.

Rested and restored, the party returned to the dungeon entrance. To start, they used the dire chicken’s holy glow to see by, but as they got deeper into the dungeon and ran into tighter spaces, TKotBO dismissed it and they lit torches instead. Posy took point again, walking about ten feet in front of the edge of the party’s light, with Needles covering her from the edge of the light. There was some disagreement about who should bring up the rear, which ended with Alric taking the position.

So, in good order, the party advanced. They passed by the interior stone head. They gave up the chicken at the point where they found the twenty feet of rough terrain, set up by the goblins long ago. Finding the short-living “dungeon convenience store” still empty, they scavenged some planks to bridge the infamous pit trap. At the pit, they threw a pebble down, to check for occupants, but received no reaction. They crossed the pit without trouble, peeking in to the old goblin kitchens as they passed. Finding them unchanged, they proceeded to the room that had once been filled with wooden statues, now littered with the half-burnt remains of those statues.

Girding themselves for the coming conflict, the party swallowed the candies that Jed handed out. After quietly organizing themselves, they advanced, with little care about stealth. TKotBO and his two shield-bearers led the way, running in to some crowding as they made their way through the narrow cave entrance.

As TKotBO entered the chamber, the flame lords’ trap was sprung. Two sentinels, one on either side of the entrance, blasted him with thrown balls of fire. Both hit him squarely, but neither did any damage at all, thanks to alchemical protection. Seeing this, the two split up. One backed towards the exit on the left, while the other turned and sprinted to the exit on the right.

The party was engaged by a small group of flame lords from the left, and then shortly after, a much larger group from the right. They were able to split up and hold the doors for several seconds, with TKotBO’s shield-wall plugging the left-hand group and Alric and Needles holding the right, supporting by spell- and missile-fire from Posy and Jed. Jed wasn’t able to keep up his usual rate of fire, though, since his main responsibility was maintaining the spells of cold on Alric’s axe and TKotBO’s morning-star. Trevor and Höss stayed in the statue room, keeping an eye on the party’s path of retreat. (Afterwards, they reported seeing a flicker of movement at the room’s door, but nothing entered, and they didn’t get a clear look at whatever it was. If it was anything.)

The flame lords opened with a volley of fireballs, to no effect. Seeing this, they switched to using their fists and feet. The party held the entrances for a several seconds, until a couple of retreating defenses opened up gaps. The flame lords were quick to exploit these gaps, and pressed in to the room. The party was pressed back towards the entrance, but came back strong. Jed tossed Explosive Lightning into the crowd, the warriors unleashed several flurries of strikes, and soon, more than a dozen flame lords were converted to valuable embers. The last couple of survivors turned and ran.

As the party regrouped, a single flame lord wearing a blue amulet appeared from the right-hand chamber. Using gestures, it offered a truce: the party could hold the entrance chamber and the right-hand room, and they would call it even. The party, pleased with their victory, was not disposed towards accepting this offer. When they attacked the creature, it disappeared like a popped soap bubble. Jed muttered a few curses towards Kadabra.

The party took the right-hand chamber. The next section of the caves, as they knew from their previous visit, was a series of mostly vertical climbs. They placed a pair of guards at the top of the next section, half-expecting a flood of flame lords to come boiling out. The others searched the chamber. Looking behind some stalagmites, Posy discovered a pile of ashes and charred bone fragments. Stirring through the remains, she discovered a pile of somewhat-melted coin and a beautiful short sword. At first glance, Jed announced that the sword was magical. (One might wonder, at this point, why Needles didn’t wrap himself around the sword in joy. The answer is, his player had to leave, so Needles vanished around the time that the flame lords broke through.)

Since the flame lords didn’t seem ready to produce a counter-attack, Posy volunteered to go down the hole and see what they were up to. With great care for stealth, she climbed down to see the huge home cavern of the fiery creatures. There, she saw perhaps two dozen more of them, arrayed around the room, along with a good number of flaming birds flying in the center of the chamber. The entrance chamber let out onto a small ledge, where four of the flame lords stood with their backs against the cave wall. Anyone attempting to descend would be at a great disadvantage.

For some time, Alric and TKotBO tried to dare each other into joining in a two-man assault on the ledge, but in the long run, they decided it just wasn’t worth the risk. They moved back towards the cave entrance. There, they decided they might as well check out the left-hand fork, as well.

Once, Doughal, also known as “that damned halfling”, had had an apartment, bricked off from the natural caverns controlled by the flame lords. Now, there was nothing but a burnt-out wreck. Four flame lords stood where a door and welcome mat had once been. Two of the flame lords had dug up a couple of greatswords from somewhere.

So, of course, the party chose to pick a fight. The first flame lord went down quickly under Alric’s ice-covered axe. The remaining three, their backs against the wall, went on a crazed, doomed offensive. They slipped around the side of the shield-wall and threw themselves at Jed, as he was the softest-looking target within reach. A greatsword to the skull bore him to the ground, making death checks.

The party strove to push the flame lords back. In particular, Alric pushed his way in and stood between them and their target. Trevor showed his true calling in life, coming from behind to fast-draw healing potion after healing potion, pouring them onto his mentor’s lifeless form. The flame lords got in one more good shot before being wiped out.

Exhausting their supply of healing potions, the party got Jed back on his feet. TKotBO mockingly repeated the bard’s words from a previous trip, “We’re in pretty good shape, I say we press on and check out one more room!”  Nobody else was up for it, though, so after making doubly-sure that they had swept up all the flame lords’ valuable remains, the party left the dungeon, making it back to camp, and thereafter, town, without further troubles.

On the way, TKotBO announced his plans. He would take his share of the loot from this trip — profitable, though not exceptionally so, as it turned out later — and use the funds to buy passage back to the Old World. Since Vanger d’Hast only had his description, he would leave town to draw his assassins off. (Also, his player’s eager to play a cat-folk martial artist. Or possibly a corpse-eater excommunicated evil wizard. Or something. Opportunity abounds.)

 

“The Delving Band With No Name”, Session #8

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ:

  • Alric Redbeard, a barbarian learning the wicked ways of civilization, deadly from any position (PC)
  • Gabby the Cabin Girl, a two-rapier swashbuckler who can take ya with one hand tied behind her back… luckily (PC)
  • Mississippi Jedadiah Walker, flingin’ spells faster than he’s ever flang ’em before (PC)
  • Needles, swashbuckler-thief with no love for ranged combat at all (PC)
  • The Knight Of The Blood Oath, practitioner of the way of the turtle and collector of rings (PC)
  • “Dobby”, goblin henchman and griller of bratwurst (NPC)
  • HössDean, and Roman, hirelings who barely appeared, and then had no lines (NPC)

Rumors Gathered:

None, since we pick up with the delvers still in the dungeon.

 

What Happened:

As we left it last session, the party had barricaded themselves in an unexpectedly well-furnished apartment off the caverns of the fiery creatures dubbed Flame Lords. With them were two prisoners:  Jim Kadabra, rendered unconscious (yet again) by Needles, and the invisible halfling would-be assassin. TKotBO had taken the halfling’s golden ring, claiming it as his share of loot due to his religious fixation with “the rings of Saturn”. When he picked it up, he found it unnaturally heavy. Furthermore, his surroundings seemed suddenly more gloomy and threatening. Slightly dismayed at these oddities, wanting his hands free, and completely lacking pockets or pouch, he passed the ring off to Gabby, who put it in her own pouch.

Upon recovering his senses, the halfling began to desperately plead for his life, offering directions to someone who could grant wishes. Jed attempted to question him, with the (questionable) assistance of Gabby and TKotBO, who both attempted to add further intimidation in the background. As it turns out, Gabby’s not all that intimidating.

In between intimidation attempts, the prisoner managed to babble out bits of a story. “I used to be an adventurer, just like you guys,” he began.

“Until you took an arrow to the knee,” Alric commented from where he lay on the rug before the fire in barbaric splendor.

The halfling gave him a curious look. “How did you know?”  He continued with his tale. His party had been attacked and badly defeated. The survivors had left him for dead. Wounded, lost, and short on supplies, he had wandered deeper into the dwarven ruins. Finally, at the end of his strength, he had found a guarded door. They had taken him in to what he described as a casino, and wonder of wonders, opened him a tab.

The party marveled at this in silence for a moment.

At the casino, the halfling continued, they had given him an opportunity to gamble, where he “got lucky”. (At this point, Jed’s lie-detection skills were triggered. It wasn’t luck.) Finally, he had played a game against “the owner, or one of the owners”. When questioned about the identity of his opponent, he tried to avoid the question, first saying that they wouldn’t believe him. He finally admitted it was “a giant flying eyeball”. Winning this round, he was invited to meet a shadowy figure, one who owned his own table at the casino, where he made a deal to have a wish granted.

“What did you wish for?” was the next question.

“The power to sneak out of the place,” was the answer. He elaborated, explaining that his enhanced invisibility was a product of the encounter. He also indicated that he was a relatively innocent bystander with no beef with the party, in itself. He blamed the entire misunderstanding on Kadabra, going so far as to make an attempt to kick him while he was down, claiming “the whole scheme was his idea”.

As they talked, the barred door was taking a pounding from outside. Tensions were high. The attempts to frighten compliance out of the prisoner finally seemed to cause him to lose his composure. He ran towards Gabby, as if he were trying to take refuge behind her. Luckily, Gabby’s education on the pirate ship didn’t leave her as the trusting sort. She caught him trying to dip a hand into her pouch, but grabbed his wrist in time. TKotBO backhanded the halfling across the back of the skull, doing no actual damage (rolling a 1 on the damage roll for a punch to the skull, absorbed by the skull’s natural DR 2) but setting off a storm of whining protest.

It is worth noting, at this point, nobody had indicated any intention of accepting the halfling’s offer. They had no map, nor directions, just vague rumors.

The halfling’s desperate attempt to pickpocket the ring drew the party’s attention to it. Jed had already seen that it was magical in some way, but the specifics were still a mystery. Gabby took the ring from her pouch, looked it over, shrugged, and put it on.  “Do what you do,” she thought… and immediately vanished.

This wasn’t entirely unexpected, but it was still startling enough to draw the gaze of all the party members, leaving the halfling momentarily unguarded. He took advantage of the distraction, diving through a curtain and down the hole of his privy. Needles had the quickest reflexes, but wasn’t able to snag the halfling himself, only the frayed edge of the curtain.

The part of Gabby’s invisibility that came as a surprise was the cost in Fatigue. Everybody was tired from their recent fight outside the door, so the cost of activating the ring was enough to take her to 0 Fatigue. She staggered, suddenly exhausted, and barely managed to sit down in the rocking chair formerly occupied by Kadabra before her knees gave out on her.

The pounded at the door continued. Seeing the halfling’s route as the only possible exit, as they knew they couldn’t fight their way through the entire crowd of angry Flame Lords, the party hurried to get itself organized. Jed saw that the big man, Alric, had no chance of wriggling through the small space, so he cast Body of Air on the barbarian. With a shouted “Whee!”, Alric dove down the hole and gave chase.

The rest of the party proceeded more slowly. Being closest, and the most agile, Needles went first. The privy hole opened into a small natural passage, steeply sloped downwards, with a trickle of foul, ankle-deep water. The rocks were slippery and slimy from use. Being an experienced climber, this was no obstacle for Needles.

TKotBO, next in line, however, is not known for his climbing skill.  He slipped as soon as he entered the vertical section of the tunnel, sliding down in a shower of clanking, cursing, and crud (which somehow fell all around him, but left no stain on TKotBO — cleanliness is next to godliness, after all) and sprawling prone.  Needles had to squeeze himself against the wall to make room for the holy warrior’s rapid descent.

Jed threw a rope around Kadabra’s shoulders so he could drag the unconscious illusionist behind himself. “Come on!” he shouted to Gabby, still sitting droopily in the rocking chair, and lowered himself and his dead-weight burden into the privy. Like TKotBO before him, he tried to climb down, but ended up making a semi-controlled slide to the bottom.

“Don’t worry about me, I’ll catch up,” Gabby replied, waving the bard off and fighting to stay awake.

Rushing ahead of the others at the speed of the wind, Alric quickly caught up with the fleeing halfling, who was able to stand upright and therefore was making much better speed than the humans, who had to travel on hands and knees. In the darkness, the halfling didn’t realize that he had company in his flight, but Alric could do nothing effective to stop him, either. Being an untutored barbarian, and not an experienced enchanter, he didn’t understand how to end the spell, and even if he could, he wouldn’t, because he would then be trapped in a passage somewhat narrower than his chest. At a stalemate, they continued down the tunnel.

The others, minus Gabby, began crawling down the tunnel after them. Jed was lagging a bit, due to his burden.

Back at the apartment, Gabby realized that she could smell smoke. Wisps were coming through the cracks in the door. Clearly, the Flame Lords were directing some hostile intention towards the apartment. She staggered to her feet and followed the rest of the group, fighting the urge to lie down for another rest. As she crawled to catch up, she started to notice evidence that the Flame Lords had put the entire apartment to the torch. Bits of burning debris started to float past.

Alric and the halfling finally made it to the surface. The tunnel came out on a sheer cliff face over a rushing river. While the halfling paused briefly, caught his breath, and began to scale the cliff, Alric was faced with a decision. He decided to linger at the tunnel entrance, rather than get too far ahead of the rest of the group. In doing so, though, he lost the trail.

Then, Gabby heard the sound of many rats, approaching from behind. Unable to fight back, she was torn by the rats as they stampeded past. Luckily, her armor kept her from major injury. “Rats from behind!” she shouted.

Thus warned, Jed was able to plan for the assault. He readied a Wall of Wind spell and dropped it behind himself and Kadabra, dispersing the rat swarm and sending them flying.

At the cliff face, Alric heard the commotion, and came to wish that he were solid, and it was so.* One by one, the others gathered. Based on the distance they had crawled, and the map, Jed opined that they must be looking at the same river that the Great Bridge crossed. In fact, it should be just around the next bend. The climbers of the group — Alric, Needles, and Gabby — went up the cliff to the top and hiked cross-country in that direction, while Jed cast Body of Air again, upon himself and TKotBO, so that they could fly ahead.

At the bridge, the two cloud-form adventurers noticed themselves being noticed by several goblins at the overlooking arrow slits. They threw a half-hearted “We come in peace” in their direction, then landed inside the covered area in the center of the bridge. They returned to solid form, while Alric and Gabby climbed down to join them. (Needles was feeling paranoid, and stayed at the top of the cliff, about eighty feet above.) Packs were opened, rations were shared around, and being nearly exhausted, they threw themselves to the ground to rest for the next three-quarters of an hour. Then, they took another half-hour for TKotBO and Jed to set up the Faith-Healing-powered-by-Lend-Energy engine and heal all the party’s injuries.

Just as everyone was feeling better about their situation, there was a commotion from behind the arrow slits. “PRETTY LADY!” roared a thunderous voice. Goblins screamed. A couple of them, fleeing whatever was going on inside, either jumped, fell, or were pushed from the arrow slits, falling into the river below. Interested, but not really worried, the party members looked in that direction.

They were surprised to see Mongo, the Seige Beast, obviously dead and risen as a zombie, shamble forth from the doorway on the far side of the bridge. He broke into a sprint, foaming at the mouth and waving his hammer-hands in the air. Most of the party rolled to their feet and got out of the way. Alric, on the other hand, kept his seat while readying his great axe. He took a stance, ready to chop the undead creature’s legs out from under it when it approached.

It was a sound plan, but it didn’t work out. Too excited to wait for the beast to come to them, Gabby drew her rapiers and charged forward to meet Mongo a few yards in front of Alric. Mongo lunged forward, attacking with all his speed. Gabby was able to avoid the first blow, but the second shattered every bone in her right arm, crippling it and forcing her to drop one of her treasured rapiers.**

Gabby retreated, dropping her other rapier and pulling a healing potion from her bandoleer. Needles got out his bow and tried to line up a good shot, but was defeated by the range modifier; he eventually packed it up and started climbing down, knowing he couldn’t reach the bridge before the fight was settled, one way or the other. An angry mob of goblins came to the doorway and began to approach at a measured pace.

Without his previous target, Mongo was free to approach Alric. Again attacking with a pounce and a two-fisted assault, he managed to deliver a grievous blow to the barbarian’s groin, reducing him to -12 HP. While still conscious and cursing, Alric was in no shape to carry on.

Jed blasted the undead Siege Beast with lightning, then threw a Concussion spell into the midst of the goblin mob, ending their advance.

TKotBO attempted to disarm the beast, but realized there was no way he was going to penetrate Mongo’s armor plating. Taking stock of the battlefield, he dropped his weapon and stooped to grab at the creature’s ankle. When Mongo threw both hammer-hands into the air while standing over Alric, TKotBO grabbed and heaved. With an assist from below by the prone barbarian, he was able to throw Mongo off-balance and over the railing, to the hundred-foot drop into the raging river below. (And earning himself the Cool Point for the evening.)

The party moved to secure their line of retreat, returning underground through the smaller door on the “near” side of the Great Bridge, after getting Alric on his feet with some slapdash healing and recovering Gabby’s dropped weapons. Needles took the lead to scout, as is their way. They passed through the long hall, to the stairway leading down to the main dungeon on that side of the river, without incident. At the doorway at the foot of the stair, they paused so Needles could peek around the corner.

A good thing: the next door down the hall was the one leading to the statue room outside the Flame Lords lair, and two of the fiery men were there, gesturing wildly and breaking up the wooden statues. The dry wood burst into flames from their touch, and they were throwing the burning wood out into the hallway.

After a quick discussion, it was decided that Needles would sneak out to get the drop on the Flame Lords. He was given a couple of the remaining ice potions to arm himself with, and Gabby offered him the halfling’s ring of invisibility. When he took it, Needles felt the unnatural weight of the thing and felt the aura of gloom settle around him. After thinking again, he declared he would rather take his chances without it, and dropped the ring, which Gabby later retrieved. He left, slipping into the shadows and becoming at least as invisible as the ring could have made him.

While Needles was moving quietly into position, the others waited with bated breath. Gabby heard a noise coming from the top of the stairs, a noise that reminded her of loading barrels on board ship. She drew the others’ attention to it, as the rolling-barrel noise gave way to a barrel-banging-down-stairs noise. Outside, the Flame Lords looked that way, their attention drawn.

All the delvers at the foot of the stair aside from Alric pressed themselves against the wall to let the rolling barrel pass. Alric, on the other hand, took up a kneeling position in the middle of the stairs, holding his axe in a defensive grip. When the wooden keg came barreling (heh) down the stairs, he parried it, causing it to explode in a soaking, but harmless, gush of beer.

The Flame Lords were very interested in this, and moved to investigate. Needles took advantage of their distraction and quickly doused them both with ice potions. They fell. The party moved quickly past… but not so quickly as to forget to collect the valuable residue left behind by the Flame Lords’ deaths.

Needles nearly forgot about the infamous pit trap, but noticed it before falling in. The board bridge was missing, though. They figured that it had been collected by its caretaker, Zing the Unworthy, and sent Needles to climb across and recover it. The man’s in-dungeon “convenience store” was in disarray, however; the door had been knocked down, the shelves torn from the walls, and the chamber smelled strongly of burnt pork. Needles couldn’t find their board, but improvised from the wreckage. The party crossed the pit, then salvaged a few meals of iron rations and a good deal of rope from the shops’ remains.

Finally, they made it back to the indoor giant stone head. Here, they paused, knowing they were only a short distance, in a straight shot, from the dungeon entrance.

“Well,” Jed said, “we haven’t recovered enough treasure to show a profit, and we’re in pretty good shape. I say, we explore a room or two before we leave.”

“‘Good shape’?” the others exclaimed. Gabby shook her useless right arm at him for emphasis, while Alric made a barbaric allusion to his own wound.

For his part, TKotBO just shrugged, shook Jed’s hand, and said “Best of luck to you.” He turned and started making his lumbering way towards the entrance.

He probably expected to have company, but apparently Jed — and the jingle of coin — are powerful motivational speakers. The others agreed to kick in “just one more door”. They agreed to check out the so-called “troll room”, the one beyond the door concealed behind the stone head, the one where two trolls had made their nest. Jed had never seen the place, and had mentioned a powerful curiosity about it in the past.

Nothing interesting. Two exits, one right and one left, offered themselves. The party chose the left door, finding themselves in a wide hallway. They quickly determined that this hallway was just the next portion of the hall with the stone head, just further up and around a corner. It carried on further past the troll room, so they continued in that direction.

Around the next bend of the hallway, they found a pair of double doors to the left. Needles checked for traps and locks, and finding neither, pushed the door open. Inside, he found a large auditorium. They were at the back, behind the rows of seating. Down below, at the focal point of the room, he saw the goblin shaman who used to work for Ghorbash, flanked by a couple of hobgoblin mooks. The shaman threw a quick spell, and Needles found himself struck blind.

Even without Needles, TKotBO, or Gabby’s good right arm, though, the three goblinoids were no match for the party. The hobgoblins split up, with one moving up either side of the room. They were met by Gabby and Alric, who both easily won their own duels. Jed took the shaman down with magic with no great trouble, as well.

Needles recovered his vision, to his great relief, in just a few seconds. They searched the room, turning up a brass gong and a couple of decorated, sealed urns. Needles found a collection plate full of coin, and only took the copper and one piece of silver before announcing the find.***

Deciding the urns were interesting, but the seals weren’t worth tampering with, they packed up the loot and moved back into the hall. Still without a clear profit, they continued on.

Outside, TKotBO made it back to camp. Realizing that he was alone, he sighed, gestured for Höss, Dean, and Roman to follow him, and turned back towards the dungeon, planning to rejoin the rest of the group and lead them out to safety.

 

The party came to a door to the right. Needles checked it over and again opened the portal.

Inside, they found a room filled with refuse and fungus, with a giant, animated, angry mushroom. It charged them. They returned the favor. Everybody took a whack at it, but Alric was the one to put it down: he voluntarily dove into the thing’s gaping maw to attack its soft innards.

TKotBO and the hirelings rejoined the group while they were searching the room. Gabby found a potion, and opened it to take a sip. Luckily, she realized it was (ironically) an ice potion before she drank. Jed discovered a pistol crossbow, highly decorated and obviously magical, judging by the shower of blue motes of light that it shed when moved.

This, they realized, was enough to show a profit. Furthermore, TKotBO’s Rol-X shield showed that it was getting on towards sundown. Time to go.

However, when they returned to the hall, they found a pair of Flame Lords approaching from further down the hall.**** The flaming men tossed fireballs at the party as they approached, while the delvers readied their last pair of ice potions. Luckily, the PCs’ aim was true, and the two Flame Lords fell. Again scooping up the pouch-full of coals left behind, the party moved quickly to leave the dungeon.

Outside, back at camp, they found Dobby cooking up sausages for the whole group. Packing up, they hurried back to town in time to make it inside the walls before night fell.

Back in town, there was some debate about whether to sell the ring or keep it. In the end, they decided to keep it. Jed’s research indicated that the pistol crossbow used to belong to a priest of Anubis who was lost in the ruins — thus completing the quest that Rho had left undone before his death, to recover the two relics that the priest left behind. They were still able to show a profit without selling the ring.

With the experience points gained, TKotBO was able to complete his multi-classing into Holy Warrior/Knight. Alric declared that he would be studying with Gabby to come a Barbarian/Swashbuckler. The party unanimously agreed to pay for Gabby’s restoration, which will nevertheless take a month to complete.

The only remaining piece of loot to dispose of was the pair of urns. When the party showed them to the priests at the temple, the clerics turned pale, hustled everyone out of the room, locking it behind them, and called for a young priest and an old priest. TKotBO volunteered for the position of “young priest”. In the exorcism attempt that followed, the old priest faltered; TKotBO’s faith wasn’t enough to finish the task, but was enough to let them escape the room. The priests re-locked and sealed the door.

Upon reflection, the party realized that the auditorium was some sort of evil temple. TKotBO and Jed declared support for a mission to return and exorcise the temple.

* * *

* … and at this point, I come to realize, there’s a lot of tricky spells in GURPS Magic, and I really need to keep a closer eye on things there. First, we played it as if the recipient of the Body of Air spell could end it at will, but now that I’m looking at the book, I’m not seeing any such thing. No big deal, it wouldn’t have changed anything if Jed had just dropped maintenance when everybody gathered at the cliff face. Second, the spell description speaks of up to 6 pounds of clothing coming along, which would have greatly complicated events, considering that Alric carries around a bag full of treasure and a big axe, and TKotBO has an obvious armor fixation. For now, we’ll say there was some complex “fox, goose, and bag of corn” arrangement, in which the party was dragging Alric’s gear through the tunnel and Alric, in turn, carried TKotBO’s armor up the cliff while TKotBO himself traveled in his long underwear. And I shall wear a mighty oath to examine the spell descriptions more closely when spells get cast.

** First crippled limb!  Though, TKotBO did come awful close in the first session, inspiring the name of the blog and only escaping with his foot thanks to a mis-reading of a rule…

*** For Needles, this was an emotional confession of loyalty to and love for the group.

**** I do roll for wandering monsters.

 

Player-Requested Quest Objects

It’s a sad economic truth that most magic weapons are swords. Dwarves might enchant axes, elves might enchant bows, but they’re both going to also be enchanting swords… and so will humans, goblinoids, and anybody else enchanting weapons. Swords are the prestige weapons. They get all the attention.

You can see this in the 1st edition Dungeon Master’s Guide. Magic swords have their own table, all to themselves. They go up to +5, and having golly-gee-whiz! powers beyond that, like “vorpal”, “wounding”, and “holy avenger”. They also get a special section on making them intelligent and self-willed.

On the next page from the swords’ table, there’s the chart for all the other weapons. Axes go to +3. Spears can be +1, +2, +3, or cursed. The only magical flail is +1, that’s it and that’s all. There’s only one sling, but it’s a +2, at least. Well, kind of — it’s +2 except it’s considered only +1 for determining what monsters’ immunities it pierces.

Clearly, the big magic goes into swords.  (And wizard’s staves, but they aren’t really magical weapons, usually. Not in this context.)

This is inconvenient, if your character doesn’t use a sword. Back when I ran 3rd Edition, the party’s big damage dealer favored the scythe. I pointed out that there was absolutely no chance of ever seeing an enchanted scythe, anywhere. Ever. Ever ever ever. Who would ever enchant such a thing? In hindsight, I suppose I could have dropped in a brotherhood of farmer-ninja or some such… but the point remains. An enchanted scythe is weird enough to require some back story. (That, and I’m pretty sure the point of choosing such a weird weapon is to have it be weird. If every third guy is carrying a scythe, you don’t have a distinctive PC, you’ve got an offbeat world.)

Since I’ve got nothing against wish-fulfillment, I’ve decided to go meta-game to solve the issue. Here’s what I’m a-gonna do:

Any player can give me a “wish list” item, or items. Give me ideas, or write-ups, I’ll take anything. If they look kosher, and especially if they look neat and interesting (as opposed to boringly powerful, or powerfully boring), I’ll use them while stocking the dungeon. (I might tinker a bit, as well.) In return, your PC will get a free rumor, saying that an item of that description can be found somewhere in the dungeon. That’ll be enough clue to start researching and working towards finding the item. Even if you don’t go digging, for whatever reason, it’ll still be out there to be recovered by chance.

… and if the original seeker dies on the way, it’ll still be out there to be found… for the object of irony, if nothing else.  I think everybody’s forgotten how Rho was going to chase down the crossbow lost by the previous priest of Anubis. Someday, somebody’s going to get into “clear the level” mode, stumble across it, and have a moment of silence over the first PC to fall.

(Come to think of it, the dungeon’s likely developing a bad reputation among the followers of Anubis.)

Weird items still require explanation, but at least I’ve got a co-conspirator to share in the guilt. Plus, since the requester has to put forth some effort to chase down rumors and so forth, there’s no additional weight of improbability added;  the unlikely bit is that the thing exists at all, not that the one guy who might use it is also the guy who recovered it from the dungeon. It’s the object of a quest, not a fortuitous drop.

This is essentially how TKotBO got his special shield, the Rol-X. His player came to me with a very specific request, just as Strang needed something to trade for the “fine turnip”, the first piece of orichalcum recovered from the dungeon.

I figure, fair’s fair.  If you’ve got a request, players, lay it on me.

“The Delving Band With No Name”, Session #4

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ:

  • Alric Redbeard, barbarian lockpick (PC)
  • Gabby, pirate lass with two rapiers and poor impulse control (PC)
  • Mississippi Jedadiah Walker, diplomat and travelling musician (PC)
  • Needles, thief making himself at home in the dungeon (PC)
  • The Knight Of The Blood Oath, like Shepherd Book, thinking he’s on the wrong ship (PC)
  • “Dobby”, goblin with a serious case of hero-worship for Alric; works for free (NPC)

Rumors Gathered:

Metal spiders that spin no webs are sometimes found in dwarven ruins. They’re particularly found around dwarven temples and holy places.

The elves carve obsidian into guardians for their holy places. Any jaguar statue carved from obsidian might be one of their servants.

The very highest levels of the dwarven delves were stables for their giant eagles. The dwarves would build their sky-stables with multiple entrances, to make it harder for an enemy to pin them down.

Phisbul the Red was a famous delver a generation ago. His greatest find, his enchanted staff, returned to the delves, when he carried it with him on his doomed last expedition. Phisbul claimed to be following a map to the treasure vaults of the king of the dwarves.

 

What Happened:

Having found Rhos’ “fine turnip” and realizing that it was made of orichalcum, TKotBO took it to the home of Strang, where he met with Mamu, who agreed to bring the object to his master’s attention. He turned over a receipt for the object, and they met again upon the following day. Strang had applied his tests and determined that the turnip was, indeed, one of the objects he was interested in collecting.

At this point in the conversation, TKotBO happened to look at the sideboard behind Mamu, where he noticed something new: the shield that he had been admiring in the market only a short time before! The manservant “noticed” TKotBO’s interest and offered an even trade, the shield for the orichalcum object. A deal was struck and the exchange was made. Mamu noted that they now had a business relationship, and his master would be open to any future dealings.

TKotBO brought this news to the party as they planned their next expedition to the dwarven ruins. Again, the subject of taking out a loan was talked around, but ultimately fell through. Instead, the party pooled donations and bought several potions. Needles and Jed purchased potion bandoleers, as well. Aside from these capital improvements, the party was beginning to show a certain new-found affluence in other ways. The only piece of loot from the previous delve to not be sold was the mail formerly worn by Ghorbash, which Alric kept for himself. Needles had improved his wardrobe as well, picking up some enchanted leather armor in a dungeon camouflage pattern. Gabby (pleased to get a share at all, after leaving the group at the goblin kitchens) was now packing a rapier on either hip, as well as a brand-new, coiled whip. While the torch Rho had enchanted with Continual Light sputtered out during the week, they had two others enchanted with cold light by the church. Of course, TKotBO showed off his new Rol-X, as well.

The party briefly debated on choosing a name for their fellowship, but nothing beyond jesting obscenities was offered. They quickly moved on to the new business of their next delve. The firm plan was made to re-trace their steps and find the bridge they had heard about.

The next day, they proceeded according to their previous custom, arriving at the entrance to the dwarven ruins in time for a quick lunch while TKotBO bolted on his armor. They approached the entrance, where Gabby drew her rapiers and peeked inside. TKotBO stood outside the entrance and banged his flail on his shield, raising a ruckus designed to attack the attention of any lurking goblins or zombies.

The more keen-eared of the party heard a far-off bellow from the unexplored left-hand side of the entrance hall. They cautiously advanced, with the others rapidly outpacing the more-encumbered TKotBO. Needles heard the sound of a door slamming shut and locking from the same direction as the angry bellow. The four in the lead were just approaching the doorway when the source of the noises, himself, stepped into view. It was an ogre, wearing scale and carrying a great axe. “Hey, you!” he shouted in Goblinistani, “What’s with the racket?”

Jed answered soothingly in the same language, attempting to talk the ogre down. While Needles faded into the shadows and quietly took up a watchful position behind the ogre, Gabby and Alric stood behind Jed, radiating ill-temper. None of the three spoke the language, so they had to take Jed’s word for what was being said. TKotBO hung back at a distance.

The conversation went surprisingly well, to start. Jed admitted that they had been inconsiderate, making so much noise, and apologized for waking the ogre, who was much mollified. They exchanged news, with the ogre offering that there used to be a lot of goblins in the rooms off the right-hand side of the entrance, but there weren’t so many goblins any more. He knew of the bridge, but hadn’t been there in some time. Things got so friendly that he and Jed made a trade, some of the ogre’s “special” mushrooms for a few of Jed’s “special” cigarettes. Then, Gabby decided to snap her whip on the ogre’s backside.

This drew the creature’s attention to the pirate. He mentioned that he thought her actions were cute, and announced his intention to keep her, apparently as some form of pet.

As soon as Gabby snapped the whip, TKotBO took a knee and began to pray for his comrades. In his opinion, attacking a foe during diplomatic negotiations just wasn’t the way things should be done, and he sat out the action that followed.

The three who didn’t speak Goblinistani didn’t care for the ogre’s tone and demeanor, and fell upon him. In seconds, he had been clobbered in four different directions, with Needles sawing at his throat, Gabby poking him repeatedly in his face, and Alric turning lumberjack on his legs; when Jed saw the way the wind was blowing, he even put his baton upside the ogre’s pot helm.

As is his way, Needles pocketed the ogre’s pouch on the sly. This time, however, someone spotted something. Jed noticed the tell-tell gleam of something magic being transferred, but chose to remain silent.

At the same time, Gabby tried to pocket her own loot, coming up with a bottle of rum. In her case, her stealth was ruined when she went for a quick swallow and belched a gout of flame that nearly singed the others’ hair.

Jed took the ogre’s pouch of mushrooms, which nobody else was interested in. TKotBO declared his intention to back-track the creature and advanced in the direction he had come from, looking for the slamming door. The party followed. (Oddly, they left the ogre’s corpse behind, still armored, with his weapons.)

The room behind the ogre turned out to be an old dwarven bakery, with three huge ovens and another chimney shaft that reached the surface far above. While there was an open doorway on the far wall, the only door they could see was to the right. As expected, it was locked. Alric applied his axe with vigor, splitting the door down the middle.

Inside, the party went down a few steps and found the ogre’s crude bedroom. There was a bed, a helm being used as a chamber pot, and a next-door room turned into a mushroom farm. Jed harvested a couple more pounds of “special” mushrooms. On the other side of the room, Needles and Gabby found some steps down to a wine cellar, where they recovered four bottles of wine that didn’t seem to be suffering from any ills.

Growing bored with this line of investigation, TKotBO urged the party back to the target of the day, the bridge. They turned back, returned to the entrance hall, and turned down the large hallway deeper into the ruins.

Along the way, Jed mentioned that they should keep an eye out for any sign of a friend of his, one Jim Kedabra, who had agreed to meet him at the big stone head. When questioned, he described the man that the party had mugged and stripped on the way out of the dungeon on their last trip. With guilty glances all around, everyone promised that they would definitely be watching for him… until Needles spoke up:  “Oh, you mean that guy that ran off naked?”

Before the discussion could get too involved, they arrived at the giant stone head. They turned towards their previous path, finding the area of rough ground that the goblins had previously prepared as an ambush site. Gabby danced across the tops of the stones while the others picked their way through the hard way. Luckily, there were no goblins on ambush watch, so she kept watch while the others caught up.

The party moved on, back to the pit where Rho had died. Surprisingly, they found the illusion covering the pit back in place. While the others crept around the ledge, Alric went to climb down into the pit and up the other side, as he had on the previous trip. Despite lacking the load of Rho’s corpse, this time, Alric slipped and fell into the pit, himself, taking a spike in the foot. Cursing a bit but largely unhindered, he climbed up the far wall with the assistance of a rope dropped by the others.

Their next stop was at the intersection where TKotBO had previously detected supernatural beings. The party conferred in the hall, with TKotBO strongly urging them on towards the bridge, while Gabby and Needles wanted to check out the inhabitants. After only a short discussion, Gabby turned and walked boldly into the room. Needles followed right on her heels.

The two were startled when they stepped through the doorway, thinking they were ambushed. It turned out, there were several statues set up just inside the doorway, looking threatening when seen from the corner of the eye by torchlight. Needles declared that the statues were worth money, but they were quite heavy. Leaving them for the time being, the two rogues turned towards the back of the room. There, the wall had been broken out, giving access to a natural cavern. They could feel heat radiating from the cavern, and see a dull red glow. They entered the cavern, finding themselves facing two men, made entirely of fire, wearing fiery loincloths, playing at fiery dice.

The flame beings, startled, looked up at Gabby and Needles, who looked back, equally startled. As one, the two rogues turned and bolted.

Meanwhile, the others had taken refuge in the room across the hall, finding someone’s rat farming operation. Alric slaughtered a couple of rats and started a fire, cooking up a quick snack. Needles and Gabby entered, slamming the door behind them, and quickly explained what they had seen. After about ten minutes waiting for pursuers, the party decided they should move on.

“Great,” Jed and TKotBO scolded the rogues. “Now we’ve got flaming guys behind us, and they know that they’re behind us!”  Nevertheless, the party moved on to the door to the stairs that were reputed to lead to the bridge.

The stairs rose far beyond the limits of torchlight. Up they went, ended up at a long hallway with carved walls showing a dwarven morality play: dwarves mine and dig, dwarves smelt and forge, dwarves become rich and powerful, skeevy goblins bow down to all-powerful dwarves. The hall continued over one hundred feet before coming to a doorway into daylight.

As the party huddled around the door, they saw the bridge, a span obviously built by dwarves, over one hundred feet long, fifteen feet across, crossing a ravine over white-water rapids. The middle of the bridge was covered by a roof for a short span, with a large stone head atop the roof, facing in each direction. These stone heads were different than the previous ones: the earlier ones were more Olmec-style, with round cheeks, while these were more in the style of Easter Island moai, with high foreheads and elongated skulls. On the far side, they saw a cliff face that had been worked by dwarven hands. There were windows on either side of the bridge, about twenty feet above, and arrow slits above the bridge itself.

Seeing no threat, but feeling terribly exposed, the party paused for a moment on the threshold before Gabby broke cover, running for the middle of the bridge. The others followed, at varying times and varying speeds. As she approached the central roof, Gabby decided to opt for stealth, and dove over the side of the bridge. Luckily, she found sufficient hand- and foot-holds to cling to the side. Not to be out-dared, Needles followed.*

Just as Alric stepped out from under the roof on the far side, they were interrupted by a voice, called from in front of them. “Not one more step!”

A shouted negotiation established that they were under observation. Their spokesman claimed that he had two dozen orcs aiming at them as they spoke. During the conversation, Needles and Gabby moved, hand-over-hand, to the doorway on the far side, and took up positions in the shadows. TKotBO shouted a challenge, saying they could settle this whole thing with a quick, winner-take-all duel. After a moment to confer, the orcs’ spokesman agreed.

Shortly, an orc knight with a couple of attendants stepped out from the far door. He advanced halfway to the party, then stopped. As TKotBO approached, Alric and Jed stepped out from under the roof. At that point, the underhanded ambush was sprung.

The sparkle of a spell flew from the right-hand set of windows to a spot behind Alric and exploded in a shockwave of sound. A Concussion spell! Alric was stunned, while the others resisted. Realizing the duel had become a free-for-all, Gabby and Needles repeatedly punctured the orc knight’s buddies, who both went down without a sound. Gabby advanced on the orc knight from behind, while Needles returned to his concealed position.

The knight’s concealed friends unleashed a volley of blowgun fire from the arrow slits. Jed used a Command spell to force the orc knight to step in front of the darts, giving him cover from them, mostly. The knight turned to run back inside, passing by Gabby, who poked him in the back. Irritated, he turned towards her. This gave TKotBO a chance to catch up, and after a quick scuffle, he bashed in the knight’s skull.

The concealed wizard threw an Explosive Fireball, taking Alric full in the chest. This didn’t take the big man down, but did get him moving. The party members still on the bridge ran towards the far door, dragging the orc knight’s body with them. They made it to the door, but Needles could hear the sound of a heavy tread, advancing…

And, due to the lateness of the hour and the earliness of some of the players’ schedules, against the usual expectation of returning to town between sessions, we called it a night. We’ll pick up there, next time.

It is our way to award experience upon the return to town, not the end of the session. However, we vote for the Cool Point award by the session. In this case, the winner was Gabby, for her dive over the side of the bridge, before she knew just how she was going to survive the dive.

* Notable moment, here: I called for a Climbing roll, and Needles’ player rolled a 17. I stood aghast, trying to figure out the damage for a hundred foot fall onto rocks and rapids. “I succeed,” he says. “Wha-?”  I cleverly responded. “Needles has Climbing at 17. I succeed.” Impressive…

 

The Shield Of Rol-X

If anybody’s interested, here’s the scoop on the shield that TKotBO has on his wish list.  It’s a fine, balanced, mirrored, ornate (+3), medium shield, enchanted with Lighten (-25%). Its surface, while mirrored, shifts in tint to show the state of the sky above it, so that one can generally deduce the time of day from the sun, even while underground. It gives +1 to effective Shield skill. It can be used to reflect vision-based attacks. Finally, it’s fancy enough to give a +3 reaction bonus to buyers, impressionable young would-be squires, and, apparently, TKotBO himself. It weighs in at 8.45 lbs, with a retail cost of $1900.

 

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