2020-05-09

Cauldron Cooked PCs

My players have been having quite an extensive back and forth discussion with one of Benton's Incunabula and it has been SO much fun. You should go read the post (and all the rest too) but an incunabula is an incredibly powerful sorcerer from an age past that's had their brain rendered into book form, bound in flesh. To communicate with such an entity one must write in their own blood which is then pumped through the brain matter and used to form veiny responses.

The party has spoken a lot with this one. They also have access to a "cauldron of creation" that the book's previous student was able to construct. THEN they removed a black sorcerer's heart from said (newly?) monstrous student, with the incunabula telling the group that they have all they need to "improve themselves." Lot going on here, basically, but we had three cauldron takers!

How Does It Work


  1. Player decides what they WANT to get, player and referee figure out how many cauldron uses that would equal. Each "uses" will require a roll on a mutation table.
  2. FUEL the cauldron up with number of uses of alchemical components needed
  3. Magic-user / cook makes a SAVE vs Magic (with a bonus for being guided by the Incunabula)
  4. If the wizard passes, the player can CHOOSE which table to roll on. If the wizard fails, all the rolls will be on the d100 table.
  5. The PC gets whatever it was the player wanted plus whatever they rolled for.

Results


Tenkos, played by Sugarplum, took the first dip to regain his arm, amputated by way of second-guessing a partially entered portal. He came out with an arm, a batlike face, and the ability to echolocate by screaming (came with the face). Good thing Tenkos wears that plague doctor mask a lot!

Bertilak le Vert, the new guy, saw that and thought hell yeah! He's a big fighter lad so he wanted to get stronger. He came out with a +2 to his Strength modifier and the ability to apply that modifier to damage rolls (usually in Lamentations there's no bonus to damage). However he ALSO came out with translucent skin full of leprosy juice, spinnerets on his butt, and some extra joints on his limbs that mean he can't walk when he's upright. Like a raccoon, apparently!

Raccoon skeleton. They can't walk if they're upright. I had no idea.

Bertilak still had a hankering for the cauldron. His newly picked up retainer with nothing left to live for, Cyril wanted in on it too. Player suggested a bunch of different ideas and he locked in on "body made of stone" to "match how his heart." (He's a bit drama). We settled on three uses, this is what he got:

Cyril's Cauldron Dip

  • Benefit: Body made completely out of stone
  • d100 - 20 (Spider Legs spider-centaur. climb on walls and ceilings)
  • d100 - 21 (chest cabinet, skeleton key opens slot)
  • d100 - 71 (quadrupedal, can't walk while standing, no 2h weapons)
We balanced out spider legs with quadrupedal but saying that his arms got the extra joints so still can't use two handed weapons.

Bertilak wanted to go in AGAIN after that (party still had enough for two dips). He wanted to regain some of his lost constitution from his first dip. He got that and then NEARLY died.

Bertilak Dip 2

  • Benefit: Gain 4d3+1d6 (+10 total)
  • d100 - 70 (no nose, turns flat)
  • d100 - 96 (lilliputian, 3" tall)

This combined with his prior dip equaled:

Bertilak le King of Cauldron Swimming

  • Benefit: +2 Str mod, apply Str to damage
  • d100 - 19 (spinnerets, 100' per day)
  • d100 - 71 (quadrupedal, cannot move while standing, no 2h weapons)
  • d100 - 87 (translucent skin, lose d6 con [-6 total], bodily fluids spray leprosy)
  • Benefit: Gain 4d3+1d6 (+10 total)
  • d100 - 70 (no nose, turns flat)
  • d100 - 96 (lilliputian, 3" tall)


So now the 3" tall super strong super hardy fighter with leprosy fluids and spinnerets is going to ride around in the chest cabinet cavity of his spider-centaur retainer made completely out of stone. Hooray for mutations!

2020-04-21

Updates

I haven't really read any blogs since g+ got shut down. Then someone shared a link to noise sans signal and I got reminded of everything I was missing out on.

Part of the reason this blog has been dormant for so long is that I had play reports backlogged. The last two session reports are from more than fifteen sessions ago but they sat unfinished. Writing the reports was fun, and maybe useful for my players (the main purpose), but in the end it turned into a draining obligation of my own doing. Self-assigned homework. So I stopped. I'm especially glad to have made that call now that we started playing every week. I'll still note any deaths on the campaign page though, that's just fun.

The other reason it's been so dead (forever, not just recently) is that I never finish anything. Like forty drafts and nothing to show for it. In a bit of back and forth about blogging under their "on abyss" post (I think?), Kyana shared some similar thoughts but encouraged me to blog more and not worry about length or completeness. Just get it out there. Good advice, and something I definitely needed to hear.

So that's what I'm going to try and do. In a related spring cleaning note I nuked my blogroll and am going to slowly build it back up. Gonna call it here  in the spirit of finishing things.

Thanks again to Kyana for the push.

2020-04-03

Decaying Lands 46: Dickstaches

PCs Present & Played:

Barthelm Schade, Specialist (James)
Claus Drexol, Magic-User (Vegas)
  Phillip Bachman, linklad
  Lucien Courtet, infantryman
Jehan, Woodsman [reskinned Halfling] (Helpful Waffle)
  Walter, poacher
Tenkos, Cleric [plague doctor kit] (Sugarplum)
  Teake's Teeth
  Tinslee & Therese, Teamsters
Viggo Pyreborn, ?? (Peanut Butter)



Hex map showing party's foray deeper into the south.
Expedition into Ghallia-That-Fell Day 8

Travel Summary
Expedition Day; Season Day; Weather; Hexes; Expenditures; Notes
Expedition 8; Fall 60; Rain; 0622; n/a


Marching Order
Edward, Freddard
Indira (axe, torch), Cyrille (polearm)
Lucien, Viggo
Tenkos, Barthelm
Claus, Philip (torch)
Sacha (greatsword), Basille (spear)

Watches
A. Tenkos, Timothee (I1), Indira (I2)
B. Viggo, Yvonne (I3), Basile (I4)
C. Barthelm, Joseph (A1), Sacha (I6)
D. Lucien (for Claus), Rosaline (P1), Cyril (P2)

Camp Setup: Horses in the barn, party split between the barn and the church, Percival in the church, other folks down in the dungeon



Last time the party made it past the stone guardians, almost lost a Tooth, smoked some cigars, discovered a library, met a thief turned into a sheet of vellum, and Barthelm lost a shoe.

Topside Barn
Agatha (archer)
Joseph (archer)
Timothy (axe, cook)
Tinslee & Therese (teamsters)
Horses (so many)

Topside Church
Sgt Teake
Yvonne (spear)
Rosaline (polearm)
Percival the Ratfolk

Dungeon Expedition
PCs
Lucien (Claus' bodyguard)
Philip (torch!)
Indira (axe, torch)
Basille (spear)
Sacha (greatsword)
Cyrille (polearm)
Edward, Freddard, "Eye-Van" the Ratfolk

First they did an experiment with the shield, its case, and its effects. They figured out that cracking the case still results in a full 360 degree pull from the shield at a distance of about 40 feet.

"So we don't have a lance, we just have a bomb." - Jehan

Sidebar: Accurate.

They also deduced that the shield doesn't seem to affect things through the thick stone walls when they opened it in the stairwell outside of the library and only ripped off the door and some nails immediately past the door. The shield of course ate all the metal.

While they were hanging around waiting Barthelm started to doodle on the portrait, drawing a comically large moustache (like a Dalí) and a Big Ole Penis. They dubbed it "dickstache" and told me that's what I needed to name this summary. Here we are!

Viggo quickly opened the shield case in front of the 3 o'clock door, ripped the metal out of it and ripped a bunch of nails out of the shelves behind him. Unfortunately he was between the nails and the shield and he took some damage as they flew into his back.

"Can we make a deal that if shit goes down and people start dropping, we don't leave without Thom?"

They explored through the door into what looked like a kitchen. There was a sink with running faucet, eating area, crates full of rotten food, and a small door in the corner that led into what looked like a squat toilet. The ratfolk (Freddard and Edward) saw the running water in the toilet hole, realized it was large enough to fit in, and scurried off exploring. Moving the food crates on the other side revealed another stop in the dumbwaiter from upstairs.

Instead of a back wall, a large heavy curtain hung from rings in the ceiling. The party sent the ratfolk through first and, when they didn't hear immediate murder sounds, went thru themselves.

They found a living space, complete with work desk, bookshelves, and reasonably comfortable bed. Investigating the bed revealed some kind of magic circle underneath. Tossing the desk uncovered details of a teleportation ritual that could be performed from inside the circle (max two people) with unknown destination.

Jehan was especially interested in the bookshelf, searching for information on Ghallia-That-Fell, and came away with the following:

Princely Lineages of Ghallia
Ghallic Geography: An Overview
Deep Places, and How to Find Them

They also scrounged up two potions from the desk:

Potion 1: Dark purple, smelled metallic
Potion 2: Milky yellow, Claus took a sip and had the most vivid memory of this delightful herbal soup he'd eaten one time

Sidebar: There may have been more here, but this is all that's left. I stopped writing session summaries with this one. Too much time for not enough payoff.

Decaying Lands 45: Paper Airplane Thom

PCs Present & Played:

Barthelm Schade, Specialist (James)
Claus Drexol, Magic-User (Vegas)
  Phillip Bachman, linklad
  Lucien Courtet, infantryman
Jehan, Woodsman [reskinned Halfling] (Helpful Waffle)
  Walter, poacher
Tenkos, Cleric [plague doctor kit] (Sugarplum)
  Teake's Teeth
  Tinslee & Therese, Teamsters
Viggo Pyreborn, ?? (Peanut Butter)



Hex map showing party's foray deeper into the south.
Expedition into Ghallia-That-Fell Day 8

Travel Summary
Expedition Day; Season Day; Weather; Hexes; Expenditures; Notes
Expedition 8; Fall 60; Rain; 0622; n/a


Marching Order
Edward, Freddard
Indira (axe, torch), Cyrille (polearm)
Lucien, Viggo
Tenkos, Barthelm
Claus, Philip (torch)
Sacha (greatsword), Basille (spear)

Watches
A. Tenkos, Timothee (I1), Indira (I2)
B. Viggo, Yvonne (I3), Basile (I4)
C. Barthelm, Joseph (A1), Sacha (I6)
D. Lucien (for Claus), Rosaline (P1), Cyril (P2)

Camp Setup: Horses in the barn, party split between the barn and the church, Percival in the church, other folks down in the dungeon



Last time the party descended a spiral staircase around some kind of gravity well, entered Guillaume's laboratory without an invitation, acquired a metal eating shield, and somehow managed to only lose a single ratfolk.

Topside Barn
Agatha (archer)
Joseph (archer)
Timothy (axe, cook)
Tinslee & Therese (teamsters)
Horses (so many)

Topside Church
Sgt Teake
Yvonne (spear)
Rosaline (polearm)
Percival the Ratfolk

Dungeon Expedition
PCs
Lucien (Claus' bodyguard)
Philip (torch!)
Indira (axe, torch)
Basille (spear)
Sacha (greatsword)
Cyrille (polearm)
Edward, Freddard, "Eye-Van" the Ratfolk

The rest of the party heard Viggo shouting exuberantly about the explosion of the door. Then they saw him get silhouetted when he lit his torch and started to explore the far room. In between Viggo and everyone else was a room with a bunch of stone golems inside that activated a round after someone entered.

They collectively considered two problems:

- How do we get everyone else across that room?
- How do we prevent Viggo's new toy from destroying all of our gear?

"I think it's time to summon a beetle." - Barthelm

That was greeted by a quick "No!" from Claus in a complete role reversal. I guess there is something that even Claus fears? So then they focused on the second question.

Does the shield work if Viggo isn't holding it?

Viggo placed the shield on the ground, Barthelm threw a copper piece across, and nothing happened! Viggo picked it up and it still didn't affect the copper piece. They tried a steel holy symbol, that got sucked in. They tried to turn the shield away and toss a crossbow bolt into the room, wondering if it is directional, but the bolt got sucked around and vanished.

Sidebar: Barthelm has one of every "no weight" item in the Lamentations rulebook, which is why he had a steel holy symbol, nails last time, a mirror... all sorts of things. I can appreciate that kind of approach.

Viggo began to case the room in more detail, looking for some kind of clue to help. The room was small, round, and full of expertly carved wooden lounge furniture. Two small tables sat in the middle, empty tea services sitting on top, and there was a door off to the side. All of the furniture was assembled with metal-free wood joints.

Gif of metal and glue-less wood joinery using intricate cut-outs
hachisen-tsugi-shikuchi-no-shihousashi joint

He found a couple of boxes of old (but still decent) cigars in the small tables, lit one, and turned his attention to the large portrait that dominated the room. It was easily six feet high, half again as wide, and had a plaque underneath that read "Guillaume le Galapiat."

Portrait of Guillaume le Galapiat

Viggo kept poking and prodding the furniture in the room but eventually came to the portrait itself and tried to pull at one of the edges. He was rewarded as the portrait, balanced on a copper hinge and mount mechanism, swung easily away from the wall. Behind, a 3x3 cavity leading back to a dumbwaiter.

In the cavity was a large, rectangular black crystal case, like a big encyclopedia. Viggo found a slight indentation, opened it up, and discovered that it contained a round cavity lined with black velvet. He placed the shield inside, closed it, and they repeated their experiment with the crossbow bolt. This time, success! It seemed that the crystal case was able to contain the shield's powers. Viggo places the whole thing back behind the portrait and closed it up.

While this had been occurring Tenkos was keeping an eye toward the stone golem room. He noticed odd reflections and glints of light on the floor, especially around the body of their dead ratfolk buddy Eye-Van.

Once Viggo signaled that the shield seemed to be neutralized he cracked open the cigar box, lit one up, and waited for everyone else.

Barthelm dashed across the golem room first. The idea was to cover the 80 feet or so quickly enough to not have the golems trigger since they seemed confined to the room. Things were going well until his right foot squished into something with a loud plop followed by an acrid burning smell. Once across, he saw that his right boot had a hole in it and his foot was burned.

The retainers all went next. Indira, with the torch, volunteered to go first. Unfortunately she too squelched into something gross and burny with her right foot. Unlike Barthelm "Mountain of Meaty HP" Schade, however, she dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes and the stone guardians begain to activate.

The group right behind her quickly reacted, grabbing her and pulling her back towards the stairwell before the guardians could act. She was still unconscious however, so Tenkos used his magic to heal her back up.

Instant morale boost for the retainers.

Someone (Tenkos?) noticed that the little translucent jellies seemed to be "eating" the body of poor departed Eye-Van the ratfolk so they waited until the body was all gone and resumed dashing across the room. As folks arrived, Viggo was handing out cigars from the box he had found.

"You're smoking all of our XP!"

Barthelm debated taking all the copper out of the door for resale (and because screw this wizard!) but they agreed that it would probably take too long. Jehan also noted that it might be very useful on the way out to have a functional door that they could close.

They made their way down a spiral staircase that ended in a door. This time the door was bound and hinged with iron, rather than copper. PCs lined up to try and pick the lock but to no avail. Viggo sent everyone else back up to the waiting room, fetched the shield in its crystal case, and crosses his fingers. Fortunately he was able to open and shut the case quickly enough that he a) didn't get hurt and b) didn't seem to affect anything too much in the room beyond. From the lack of reaction upstairs they figured that either the stone or the distance blocked the effect.

They found a large, octogonal library behind the collapsed door. Many of the shelves were broken, with moldy piles of books littered throughout, but there were a good number of intact shelves as well.

They went in and surveyed the room. Every side of the octagon had a door on it (they had entered from the "bottom right"). The right / 3 o'clock door was more heavily locked than the other six but otherwise the room had a fair amount of radial symmetry going on. Each of those six doors also had a small desk in front of it. Immediately in front of the stairwell doorway sat a lectern with a single sheet on it.

They spread out thru the room, browsing and investigating. Claus realized that the layout of the library matched the Teutonian "University System" and that he'd be able to find topics pretty easily based on that.

Sidebar: Spend a turn searching for a book on a topic, roll to see if it survived, then can get an answer.

While the rest of the folks were casing the joint and their retainers were standing guard (except the ratfolk who were looking at everything), Barthelm stood by the lectern near the entrance. He gradually became aware of a low steady noise, like a barely audible wailing, coming from the lectern. Barthelm looked down and saw a piece of vellum covered in beautiful calligraphy.

"Swiftfinger Thom, renowned thief, attempted to steal the following books...

• Advanced Alchemy
• Death Cults of the North
• The Journal of Blissful Ignorance
• Preparation Rites

Thom was transmuted into vellum as punishment."

Thom was not in much of a mental state to talk, delivering drawn out one word moans for answers, but it did seem like they were in response to Barthelm's questions.

Kermit the Frog bugging out, just imagine the screaming that would go with this

Can't remember exactly what Barthelm asked but the gist was that Thom was terrified of everything, especially this place and its master, and wanted to die.

"Thom I'm going to fold you into a paper airplane and throw you, you guide us to where we need to go." - Barthelm

While it is quite difficult to fold a piece of vellum into a paper airplane Barthelm gave it his best shot and chucked Thom's sheet into the air. The vellum floated back a bit toward the more heavily barred door on the eastern side of the room. Barthelm threw "him" again and the same thing happened.

I think Barthelm suggested at this point that they were going to continue deeper into the tower and bring Thom with them and Thom's answer was a wail of a "Noooooooooo" with maybe a "deaaaaaath" for good measure. Barthelm smacked the vellum sheet!

"Listen up Thom!" Barthelm gave a quick motivational speech, probably centered on not leaving anyone behind and helping Thom. Thom's response was muted. Overall they learned from Thom that he is very scared to go deeper, scared of Guillaume, and wants to die.

They started plans to continue by saying that they were going to open one of the other doors to investigate. This turned into a plan wherein Viggo would stay, everyone else would leave, and then they'd try to open the shield case a crack to "focus" the metal sucking power. As their plan got more complicated we decided it was late enough and ended the session.

2019-05-29

Decaying Lands 44: Invite Only

PCs Present & Played:

Barthelm Schade, Specialist (James)
Claus Drexol, Magic-User (Vegas)
  Phillip Bachman, linklad
  Lucien Courtet, infantryman
Tenkos, Cleric [plague doctor kit] (Sugarplum)
  Teake's Teeth
  Tinslee & Therese, Teamsters
Viggo Pyreborn, ?? (Peanut Butter)



Hex map showing party's foray deeper into the south.
Expedition into Ghallia-That-Fell Day 8

Travel Summary
Expedition Day; Season Day; Weather; Hexes; Expenditures; Notes
Expedition 8; Fall 60; Rain; 0622; Viggo 2 rations, Barthelm 1 ration 2 arrow, Claus 2 shots; rain up top, wild times down below

Sidenote: I've already removed the expenditures listed out above from character inventories.

Next Watch Sequence
Night 8: DABC

Marching Order
Edward, Freddard, "Eye-Van" the Ratfolk
Indira (axe, torch), Cyrille (polearm)
Lucien, Viggo
Tenkos, Barthelm
Claus, Philip (torch)
Sacha (greatsword), Basille (spear)

Watches
A. Tenkos, Timothee (I1), Indira (I2)
B. Viggo, Yvonne (I3), Basile (I4)
C. Barthelm, Joseph (A1), Sacha (I6)
D. Lucien (for Claus), Rosaline (P1), Cyril (P2)

Camp Setup: Horses in the barn, party split between the barn and the church, ratfolk out in the woods.



Last time the party picked up some stray rats, met people (!), learned about King Thessel XV, and arrived at the entrance to the "well."

They planned for their descent into Guillaume's well, deciding who would stay topside and who would go down. After Tenkos briefly floated a plan involving ropes and horses being lowered down a pit of indeterminate depth they settled on the following:

Topside Barn
Agatha (archer)
Joseph (archer)
Timothy (axe, cook)
Tinslee & Therese (teamsters)
Horses (so many)

Topside Church
Sgt Teake
Yvonne (spear)
Rosaline (polearm)
Percival the Ratfolk

Dungeon Expedition
PCs
Lucien (Claus' bodyguard)
Philip (torch!)
Indira (axe, torch)
Basille (spear)
Sacha (greatsword)
Cyrille (polearm)
Edward, Freddard, "Eye-Van" the Ratfolk

Viggo donned his magical boots! Yay! He ate his "I'm so hangry" ration for putting it on and was ready to roll. Philip lit up a torch, Indira grabbed another in one hand with her axe at the ready and took point.

They descended the low, flat, wide stairs somewhat awkwardly. Once they cleared the initial passage the wall on their right dropped away completely and each person got hit by a flash of vertigo. They couldn't see the bottom, they couldn't see the other side, and the path was narrow.

Viggo chucked a rock to see if he could hit the other side in the dark and it got a foot past the stairs and dropped straight down! They heard it clatter very quickly but were shocked at the unexpected trajectory. Viggo threw another rock and the ratfolk started to copy him, throwing a pebble or two and then a whole handful. They all clattered below.

Barthelm was worried that even though they could hear the rocks hitting that this stairwell might still be some kind of direct portal to the island of Wilhelm the Wily. He repositioned himself behind Claus so he could immediately grab him if/when Claus tried to go into it.

Claus meanwhile tried an experiment with his cane, slowly extending it over the edge. If he hadn't been prepared for it the force would have ripped the cane right out of his hands.

Claus: "You think we can leave if we keep going down? If we keep going down the stairs do you think there's a point where we won't be able to go back up the stairs?"

Tenkos pointed out that if they did get stuck they could always pursue the exit that was supposed to be at the bottom that linked up with the ratfolk village.

As they descended further they caught a glimpse of a statue perched upon a pedestal in the middle of the 40' wide stairwell. It was maybe twice the size of a person but incredibly gaunt, emaciated even. It's head was tilted back and it looked like it's mouth was open in a silent plea. It's arms were spread, palms up, plaintive. An array of sculpted stone food lay at its feet, lifelike but for the grey granite color.

The rocks got pulled down, the cane got pulled down, maybe food would work? Maybe you need to do an offering so you don't end up like the statue? They also wondered if Wilhelm the Wily / Guillaume le Galapiat would expect that reaction and arrange a terrible fate for anyone trifling with the statue. It basically turned into the "battle of wits" scene from The Princess Bride.


Viggo threw a ration over the edge but it went straight down with a splat. He caught a glimpse of something reflective towards the head and they continued around the stairs, trying to get a better look. It turned out to be a thick golden tongue in the statue's mouth.

Barthelm wanted to try and shoot an arrow really high up so that the horizontal momentum of the arrow might still enough to hit the statue's mouth despite the intense gravity. Miracle of miracles (the first of several this session), it hit!

The arrow chipped out a chunk of the gold, it popped up into the air, and then back down into the mouth. As soon as it did they heard a clicking sound as the legs on the roast turkey rotated to point straight up at the ceiling. They tried to see the chunk and chip inside the mouth from the stairs again but the tongue appeared whole as far as they could tell.

Barthelm: "You saw that the gold itself wasn't affected by this grave-it-y well, maybe the pedestal is immune." Viggo tossed another rock to test if the gravity had turned off but it dropped straight down again.

As soon as the torch illuminated the bottom of the stairs the ratfolk went down to check it out. Eye-van ate the gooped up ration off the ground and they generally poked about.

Claus wanted to experiment to see if the ultra gravity had a height requirement so he bodily Freddard (who was not happy about this), and plopped him into Barthelm's shoulders. Other than vocal annoyance the ratfolk was unharmed but the damage to Barthelm was already done; he acquired an instant layer of filth and grime in his hair. Ewww.

They found a big metal door with a thin slot and knocker centered. Barthelm gave it a check, looking for nozzles, needles, or lock bars but didn't discover anything. He noticed some writing above the slot but Claus shouted out a warning not to read it. Viggo, noticing the reaction, immediately backed away.

Sidebar: Last time they found something they thought were explosive runes Viggo almost died. LINK Afterward James and Vegas both chided themselves for not calling out what they figured were certainly Explosive Runes. Lesson learned!

Instead of directly reading it, Barthelm approached with his silver mirror and read the writing on the door backwards. He recognized the language as Cronov, from the eastern lands. It said:

GUESTS ONLY
INVITATION REQUIRED

Claus: "What if I summon a demon through the slot, then there's a demon though there?"
Everyone: "That's a terrible idea."

Barthelm wanted Edward to go through into the room, said there was a lot more food in there and mimed eating. Edward squeaked a demand, made his own chewing motions, and repeatedly held out his hand. Barthelm took out some saltfish but then chucked it into the room! While Edward was busy admiring Barthelm's cleverness Eye-Van rushed past him into the room and started to devour the fish. Barthelm encouraged him to still go in and Edward goaded Freddard into going too.

They didn't get very far.

A few moments after they entered the room a giant stone hand swiped towards Edward. Another reached out for Freddard. Fortunately for them, both grabs missed. Initiative happened, everyone basically ran away (and up the stairs), but poor Eye-Van was too far into the room to get out in one round. They grabbed him on his way past.

The whole group could hear his frantic squeaky screams suddenly get caught off, followed by softer squelching and squishing sounds.

Barthelm: "RIP Eye-Van."

The other two rats were GONE, all the way up the stairs crawling in the darkness. Sergeant Teake managed to shoo them back downstairs after a shouted conversationw with Barthelm. Barthelm in turn snuck over to close the door but didn't encounter any trouble doing so.

They had a theory that the shield is what kept the golems in the room and that if they pulled the shield out of the room then the golems would follow them out and they could push them off the stairs and let the gravity well kill them.

Tenkos: "Not-it to get the shield."

Viggo actually volunteered to dash in, grab the shield, and dash back out. His super speedy hungry boots meant that he could do it before the golems fully activated. He picked it up, noting the shiny reflective center portion was ringed by a dull, heavy matte iron.

He turned and saw in the shadows that the two golems were starting to move again. He went a few steps back towards the door and heard an awful wrench as the hinges ripped out of the metal door that Barthelm was holding. The hinges flew towards him and the door started to follow suite. Lucien, who was closest, had his shield ripped out of his hands as well. It all arced straight towards Viggo!

The hinges hit the shield first and vanished completely! Lucien's shield followed suit, colliding with the metal and disappearing. Viggo hadn't been affected by the shield's power because he had eschewed all metal since his resurrection. The heavy entry door wasn't quite as quick and Viggo hit upon a plan to use his speedy boots to keep enough distance from the door that he could get the golems between him and the door to have the door crash into them.

That's right, Viggo's plan was to stay in the room with the four smashy crushy murder golems and get a door to crash into them. He actually found it to be pretty effective! He didn't take out any of the golems but he definitely caused some damage.

Sidenote: The players raised the question of "well where does all this metal go?" I love the way their brains work, I have the best crew.

Viggo somehow narrowly avoided Eye-Van's fate. He was running back and forth and out of maybe 8 grab attempts the golems only landed two and he was able to break out of them at his first opportunity (partially thanks to advantage on the roll because of his boots). Maybe he will wear his dancing shoes more often.

Sidenote: Peanut Butter also noted that he had been playing Viggo this way before his transformation as well, somehow avoiding all kinds of horrible injuries before dying to a pair of guards that rolled crits. If they could kill him with two stabs then might as well go all in, I suppose.

Barthelm initially tried to shoot at the golems but his arrow just got pulled straight to Viggo's new toy and the arrowhead disappeared. He stepped across the door's threshold and blew his whistle, drawing attention (and a grab!) from two of the four golems. Claus' immediate reaction was to grab Barthelm and help him break the grapple and the two tumbled backward across the threshold, retreating with Lucien and the rest of their retainers in tow.

Sidenote: This was probably a direct contributor to Viggo not getting squashed. He distracted two golems for two rounds, four more attacks and it would have been enough to get Viggo I bet.

The party had a problem though because while everyone else seemed to be safe outside of the room Viggo was still stuck inside. He didn't want to bring his new shield back the way he came because it would decimate everyone else's equipment. He also wasn't sure how long he could keep up the back and forth of using the big metal door and his incredible speed to continue bashing the golems.

"What if you run out the other door?"
"Let's find out!"

He took one more swipe at the golems by standing by the other side's door (this time made out of wood with stone hinges) but rolled really low on damage. The golems all missed as well. Claus double fired his pistols into the room, relying on the metallic attraction of Viggo's shield to pull them into one of the golems. It worked!

Everyone started looking for other things they could hurl into the room and we discovered that Barthelm had one of every "weightless" thing in the equipment list! He rolled on 1 for damage with his Bag o' Nails, so it balanced out. The Teeth wanted to help but weren't sure how to proceed without crippling themselves.

Viggo decided to go for the door. It was unlocked! He popped through, closed it, and stood in the pitch black for a moment before pulling out an unlit torch with his free hand.

But that's not all! Peanut Butter reminded me about the big metal door that Viggo had been dragging about. Since he wasn't using super speed anymore it would have caught up, but did it happen before or after he closed the door? I had him roll for it, it came up as "after." He thought that was better but a big heavy sheet of metal flying relentlessly towards you isn't going to stop for a wooden door. It crashed through, creating dangerous splinters that could have done a lot of damage but somehow Viggo made his save, even with his -1 Wisdom mod. Bonkers!

Sidenote: If I had been paying enough attention I would have remembered for him to take half damage on a save but oh well, I am happy that we did it at all. And no door now.

So Viggo was across the golem room from the rest of the party but momentarily safe (albeit in the dark). The rest of the crew observed the golems heading back to their little cubbies and we ended the session. They'll have two weeks to figure out where they want to go from here.

2019-05-27

Decaying Lands 43: Ratfolk & Smoothies

PCs Present & Played:

Barthelm Schade, Specialist (James)
Claus Drexol, Magic-User (Vegas)
  Phillip Bachman, linklad
  Lucien Courtet, infantryman
Edmond Renault, Fighter (Skarne)
Jehan, Woodsman [reskinned Halfling] (Helpful Waffle)
  Walter, poacher
Tenkos, Cleric [plague doctor kit] (Sugarplum)
  Teake's Teeth
  Tinslee & Therese, Teamsters
Viggo Pyreborn, ?? (Peanut Butter)



Hex map with red line showing party's progress deeper and deeper into Ghallia-That-Fell
Expedition into Ghallia-That-Fell Day 8

Travel Summary
Expedition Day; Season Day; Weather; Hexes; Expenditures; Notes
Expedition 7; Fall 59; Flash Flood; 0426; no rations spent; Cloudy but warm
Expedition 8; Fall 60; Rain; 0426; 1ea ration/feed; rain effects but didn't go anywhere

Sidenote: I've already removed the rations/feed listed out above (1ea) from all character inventories.

Next Watch Sequence
Night 8: DABC

Marching Order
Ashley 30+ feet ahead
1/2 of Teake's Teeth
PCs + teamsters
1/2 of Teake's Teeth

Watches
A. Tenkos, Timothee (I1), Indira (I2)
B. Viggo, Yvonne (I3), Basile (I4)
C. Barthelm, Joseph (A1), Sacha (I6)
D. Lucien (for Claus), Rosaline (P1), Cyril (P2)

Camp Setup: Horses in the barn, party split between the barn and the church, ratfolk out in the woods.



Last time the party had a mostly uneventful journey through the woods trailing behind their ratfolk guide until they encountered a tree with bright red fruit that jumped around and blew up with magic fireworks when they shot it with a flaming arrow.

We jumped back into things with a bunch of ratfolk running and pointing and yelling at Ashley in their language. As they got closer the party could see that the seven ratfolk were collectively dragging an old woman and the front-runner was shouting "Help!" As they got even closer they could tell that the woman appeared to be quite dead.

The ratfolk started shouting at Ashley and she started shouting back, not seeming very pleased. She managed to tell the party that Edward was not the brightest and that he was in some kind of trouble before they saw a half dozen people come running through the trees after the ratfolks. The lead runner shouted "Stop them!" in Ghallian and then they themselves skidded to a halt. It was something like this:

Teake's Teeth, Party ||     ratfolk with corpse ||      Blonde smoothies

Sidenote: "Blonde smoothies" is what Ashley called them and it's as good a name as any.

A middle-aged man called out from the group of newcomers and said that his name was Léon and thanked the party for stopping the ratlings. They stole his auntie on their way to perform the funerary ceremony! But also oh my what a large group you have and have you come from across the river?

Edmond answered that yes, they had come from Lenticot and asked if that meant that they came from this side of the river. Indeed they did! Léon and his family were on their way to the river so that their dear auntie might be close to the promised land in death.

Party had a lot of questions now about the river, and the "promised land", and what these people were doing out here. They lived here, they were loyal to the king, and dearly hoped to be able to one day cross the river and live in the promised land. The PCs also privately wondered if these people were actually the same kind of creatures that they had fought before.

Léon in turn was curious what such a large group was doing across the river. Normally their former countrymen across the river only burn the lands, never venturing into the wood.

Sidenote: There was a lot of talking here, it was really wonderful. I'm late on this one and tired so cliff notes is that Léon wanted the "ratlings" to execute them for taking his auntie's corpse, the party wondered if these folks were the monsters they had previously fought, and the smoothies were very excited to meet the party and learn more about them.

"Why do you want help the ratlings anyway, they're just dirty meat."

Claus indignantly exclaimed that these were sentient (sapient?) creatures and they were NOT food!!

This time it was Léon's turn to be disgusted. "Food? Food?! They are not food!"
"You just said they were!"
"I said MEAT, they are not food. How revolting!"

Jehan was a young man when Ghallia fell but he was from the south and so familiar with these lands. His mind was racing, trying to figure out if any of what they were saying made sense. He had never heard of a king in Ghallia. When they told him that their ruler was King Thessel the XV he became even more confused. The XV? And why did they seem to reverse the sun?

Jehan: "And what lineage does King Thessel the XV hail from? What house?"

The blonde smoothies seemed genuinely confused. "What's a lineage?" Jehan explained a bit but they still didn't grasp it. King Thessel was king and the kings and queens of his family always were.

Eventually the smoothies left after a veiled implication from Barthelm that these ratfolk would have a "cultural misunderstanding" of their own with the party. Niala and her cousins took their auntie and carried her back the way they came while Léon called out a final farewell and a promise to tell King Thessel of their visit, that he might welcome them in the capital! Of course Barthelm gave his name as "Polde from Lenticot" so we'll see.

The party had no desire to stay in this spot so they decided they wanted to push on. Ashley refued to lead them anywhere however until the party had extracted something from Edward and his crew. "You promise food, safety, don't get anything. Half barter is no barter, not right, have to finish the barter."

The party generally settled on the idea of meatshields (because of course). They were able to convince all but one of Edward's party to accompany them into Guillaume le Galapiat's "well". Percival, the holdout, was too scared to go into the place that "Crazy Brian" went into so instead he volunteered to serve as an advance scout through the woods.

Satisfied that a complete barter was executed Ashley took up her position ahead of the horses and led the group the next five or six miles through a rapidly darkening wood. They arrive at a small group of dilapidated wooden buildings with a stone church in the center. They could smell the rain on the air so quickly moved forward to investigate.

Most of the buildings surprisingly had intact rooves, despite the general decripitude and overgrown nature of the site. They scouted a barn where they could house their horses and made their way to the church. It was squat, a single room, but made of stone. There didn't seem to be much in side but the door was intact and there was still some wood from the pews.

old church from dodge city in late 1800s
Like this church but squatter and made of stone. This is apparently from Dodge City.

Satisfied that they weren't in immediate danger they packed all their horses in the dilapidated barn and split the posse between there and the church. They sent Edward and his crew out into the woods to keep a perimeter. It was moderately effective.

Barthelm and Jehan took turns posting up in the top of the barn to keep and ear out for anything suspicious. They heard terrible animal noises followed by ratfolk screeching during one of their watches. Realizing that the commotion wasn't getting any closer, Barthelm tried to go back to sleep and suggested that eveyone else do the same. Shortly the sounds faded to gurgles and then quieted altogether.

Sidebar: The little goobers didn't even have names yet but they still count for a death tag all the same.

Later the three surviving ratfolk (Edward, "eye-goober", and Percival) came knocking on the dor of the church. They didn't use the special knock that Tenkos had established but they let the drenched, terrified rats in anyway. Ashley scolded them in their language (or at least it sounded that way) and everyone again tried to rest.

In the morning the rain was going full bore, heavy and fat. Viggo (or Tenkos) noticed the ratfolk eating some kind of meat to which Ashley confirmed "Yep, we still taste best."

She showed them how to move the church's altar and asked if there was anything else she could tell them. Barthelm asked if Ashley wouldn't come with them into the well but didn't get very far.

"I'm an old lady! Smart, not dead! Not going to be dead either. Our barter was for information and I give you all I know. Even gave you where we live! But not going down there like Edward, he's not smart, won't be old man. Maybe you get old though, try not to die in that hole."

And with that she left, quickly disappearing into the rain. One of them remarked that she was "the most trustworthy rat." The players were geniunely sorry to see her go and at least one said that they'd better see her again! Since I follow Papers and Pencils encounter table design it's certainly possible if that 7 comes up.

Ended the session late morning on the 8th day of their expedition, poised to head into what they believe to be the laboratory of Guillaume le Galapiat, aka Wilhelm the Wily.

2019-05-22

Decaying Lands 42: Chasing Trees

PCs Present & Played:

Claus Drexol, Magic-User (Vegas)
  Phillip Bachman, linklad
  Lucien Courtet, infantryman
Edmond Renault, Fighter (Skarne)
Jehan, Woodsman [reskinned Halfling] (Helpful Waffle)
  Walter, poacher
Tenkos, Cleric [plague doctor kit] (Sugarplum)
  Teake's Teeth
  Tinslee & Therese, Teamsters
Viggo Pyreborn, ?? (Peanut Butter)



Hex map with red line showing party's progress deeper and deeper into Ghallia-That-Fell
Expedition into Ghallia-That-Fell Day 7

Travel Summary
Expedition Day; Season Day; Weather; Hexes; Expenditures; Notes
Expedition 6; Fall 58; Windy; 0522, 0422, 0322; 1ea ration/feed
Expedition 7; Fall 59; Cloudy + Warm; 0323, 0324, 0425; 1ea ration/feed

Sidenote: I've already removed the rations/feed listed out above (2ea) from all character inventories.

Next Watch Sequence
Night 7: CDAB

Marching Order
Ashley 30+ feet ahead
1/2 of Teake's Teeth
PCs + teamsters
1/2 of Teake's Teeth

Watches
A. Tenkos, Timothee (I1), Indira (I2)
B. Viggo, Yvonne (I3), Basile (I4)
C. Barthelm, Joseph (A1), Sacha (I6)
D. Lucien (for Claus), Rosaline (P1), Cyril (P2)

Camp Setup: Horses gathered in the center, tied to trees or stakes. Rest of camp arrayed in a circle around them. Light discipline, no campfires or other lights.



Last time the party bartered with two ratfolk to serve as guides, lost one to horrible animals in the night, traded away their crab pearl for even more info, and generally got waylaid by the weather.

This time they had all sorts of smooth sailing. They traveled west three hexes without incident. Ashley the ratfolk was able to keep pace despite being dismounted because of her familiarity with the terrain.

That night, their sixth in Ghallia-That-Fell, Edmond decided he wanted to make sure that no one had become too used to being in that deadly place. During his watch he ran a "readiness drill" to test everyone's responses. Reactions were mixed.

Teake's Teeth were professionals and wasted no time in arraying themselves appropriately.

Tinslee and Therese were scared and unhappy.

Tenkos was irate at having been woken up for nothing.

Jehan went back to sleep, Walter was frightened.

Claus pointed his pistol at Edmond and started running thought experiments on the best way to ambush a group. Maybe if you mind controlled the leader...

Claus' player asked what the reaction from someone would be if / when they came back alive from deep in Ghallia-That-Fell. Told him that he would have to find out because as far as they are aware they are the first ones ever to cross into the forest. Even the servants of the Princes are meant to stay on the crispy shore and make sure everything stays burnt.

"Crispy shore? Is that canonical?" - Edmond's player

Initially no, but then... yes "crispy shore" is now canonical, decided it's something the common folk say. Thanks Edmond for continuing our proud naming tradition and helping me say yes.

How is Viggo doing? Anything that's upsetting him? He seemed pretty happy dancing in the mud and watching the giant bonfire.

Edmond: We are basically in hell.

Viggo: Let me tell you about the constant hell that we have been going through since Teutonia. Have you ever heard of Crossroads?
Edmond's seen some shit too, he was not as impressed.

Jehan is back in Ghallia-That-Fell, how's he doing?
"Like coming home finally and finding out your house has burned down. It's home but not, everything is so different and so much more dangerous."

Tenkos is surprised at how easy this has all been and loves his new rat friend!
Claus: "Ditto."

They continued on south and east towards 0425. Ashley called out as quietly as she could to get someone to dismount and approach her. She pointed out a squat tree with a bunch of round, bright red fruits on it. "Never seen one like that before."

The rest of the party came over and they debated what to do. They settled on Jehan shooting at it with his crossbow. Tenkos told Agathe, one of the Teeth's archers, to do the same and they made a little contest out of it. Jehan bullseyed one of the fruits! It burst in a shiny shower of sparkly sprinkles! Agathe missed.

PCs went closer to it to investigate and it vanished when they got just outside of reach! Reappeared a few seconds later in a different direction about thirty feet away.

Claus: "Trees never move, fact!"

Claus was now committed to touching this tree. He broke into a run and charged at it! He got nearly upon it before it vanished again. This time he was able to observe the branches and fruits all suck up into a pole and dip into the earth before popping back out again a few seconds later about thirty feet away. "It's a mole tree!"

In addition to "mole tree" they also theorized that the fruits were the eyes of a creature or that the whole thing was a giant lure for some awful work beast (not mutually exclusive with the eyes theory).

Some folks wanted to just keep moving, Claus wanted to charge it at least one more time. He also proposed a plan where they surrounded it at around 30 feet distance, one person would charge it, then when it went down and up again someone should be right near it. He was unable to sell it.

Viggo: "We have enough scary things waiting for us in Wilhelm the Wily's lab... but let's have Jehan light this thing on fire first before we go."

Edmond and Jehan were not all about this "burn the tree plan". Viggo was incredibly excited about the fire. Claus wanted to have everyone surround it at 30 feet and then one person charges it, it pops up, and someone

In the end Tenkos commanded Agathe to shoot the tree with a lit arrow, she did and hit it! The tree caught fire, the fire spread to the branches, and then once it got near all the red fruits they turned into quite the beautiful (and noisy!) fireworks show. In addition to all the loud noises and sparkling showers in the twilight, Claus got hit with what he felt was an echo of magical force as the tree and its fruit burned and popped.

The fireworks show was interrupted by a burst of chittering ratfolk sounds and exclamations of shock from behind them. Ashley turned around with an "Oh shit!" and we ended the session.