2018-06-20

Decaying Lands 26: Wolf Howls


PCs Present & Played:

Caleb, Fighter 3 (Just Yolks)

Claus, Magic-User 4 (Vegas)
Jehan, Woodsman 1 [reskinned Halfling] (Helpful Waffle)
Jewel, Really Good Dog 2 (Rudy)
  Buddy, ratter dog
Tenkos, Cleric 3 [plague doctor kit] (Sugarplum)
Viggo Marklund, Specialist 4 [bounty hunter kit] (Peanut Butter)


Last time the party met an unexpected skeleton named Sarah (and her "buddy Hoot-Hoot"), gave a warning of impending doom to Lady Margaret of the Sapphire Rose inn, and collected their things so they could get while the getting was good.

They continued with their plan to push west towards the dilapidated fishing town of Frissen with the end goal of taking a boat along the coast deeper into Ghallia, the country that abandoned half their land behind a river due to murder plague. Karl (RIP) was an exiled prince from the murder place, Jehan was also from there, and they'd seen things that made them want to investigate Stilton on the way. Rumors of entire country abandoned with everything left behind and ripe for the taking played into it too, probably.

Description: Poorly drawn hex map, big arrow pointing west towards "Frissen", dog picture 2/3 the way there.

The town was nine hexes distant, six mile hexes, 18 miles a day (because wagon), so three travel days to get there. First day not much traffic, just a rider in the garb of the courier's guild racing past on the road. The first night they pulled off the road, setup camp, and arrayed their bear traps in strategic locations. Claus noted that it finally seemed like the woods had returned to their normal nighttime sounds but otherwise didn't notice anything out of the ordinary.

Sidebar: At this point bear traps at night is their standard setup and they will have to tell me explicitly if they do not want to put any bear traps out. James would be proud.

Day two passed with no other travelers on the road. Setup camp again, every started settling in to sleep (Jehan sort of in the underbrush but still within the bear trap permieter), and then Jewel bolted off to the south across the road. She ran for a while with Buddy, heard some stuff, then came back and started scratching into the dirt.

Description: Freehand written words "wolf south sad far" and a frown face.

Sidebar: Rudy (Jewel's player) volunteered to use his offhand on the mouse to scratch out the words that Jewel was trying to convey but then immediately after said it was way too easy. I agreed but didn't have a good suggestion but then he said he'd close his eyes next time. That should be much harder, can't wait to see how it turns out.

Even though it was far and getting to be nighttime everyone went with Jewel to investigate. They left Suzie tied to a tree and Buddy guarding the camp supplemented by the bear traps. Jehan was going to hunt game but, while thematically appropriate, after realizing he could use up all his crossbow bolts and miss out on wild stuff he went along too.

They trudged south through the woods with only the light of the full moon. Jewel called out after a mile or so with no response, so they kept going. The second time she called out there was an answer from directly in front of them. She kept talking back and forth but the response howls came from different directions each time. The party vacillated between wanting to leave and getting ready for war before settling on a cautious but not too threatening state of readiness.

The conversation ended with three very large wolves appearing out of the darkness around them. Jewel knew they were coming but the humans were all quite surprised. At this point Jewel gave Claus the signal to use his scroll of comprehend languages (Canine counts because of Jewel now) and everyone got to hear what was up.

Description: A wolf with a too large jaw, open too wide. I envisioned Moro from Mononoke, hopefully that came through.

There was a bit of menace and uncertainty with these three larger than normal wolves but overall the party learned a lot from them. The father of the true king ("the False One"), with the help of a wizard, laid a curse upon said king and these wolves that were once men. The wolves' minds cloud when they try to remember more than that, and one coughed and spit blood even to say that the False One was the father of the king.  They called themselves the "Sons of Stanislaus" and the other large wolf that Boris "Iron Guts" freed was one of their number. They were grateful for the help for their brother.

The wolves also told the party about how their king bore an even stronger, more awful curse than they did. They now knew him only as "The Mad King" and warned the group that he was large enough to swallow them whole and then spit them up again, turning them into mindless beasts. They left with a warning to "Run, run if you ever see the Mad King or you won't survive to tell!"

Somewhat shaken, our motley crew trudged back through the woods to their camp. They had been gone for four hours and in the intervening time someone had raided their wagon for food. Buddy lay unconscious, badly hurt, and Suzie and the horses were GONE!

Sidebar: Random encounters can happen when you're not there too!

Initial shock turned to rage and then they noticed that their customary bear traps had been at least partially effective. One had a still warm corpse, which Jehan looted (snares, skinning knife, sling, few silvers) but the occupant of the other was still (barely) alive. Caleb was on the border of killing his captive straight out but he was able to get some information out of her while keeping his rage at bay.


2018-06-17

Decaying Lands 25: Hoot-Hoot and Sarah

PCs Present & Played:

Caleb, Fighter 3 (Just Yolks)

Claus, Magic-User 4 (Vegas)
Jehan, Woodsman 1 [reskinned Halfling] (Helpful Waffle)
Tenkos, Cleric 3 [plague doctor kit] (Sugarplum)
Viggo Marklund, Specialist 4 [bounty hunter kit] (Peanut Butter)




Last time the party turned a bunch of skeletons including some that got out the elevator, lost Karl the exiled prince in a blaze of explosive kamikaze glory, and escaped up the elevator with a ton of loot.


Wait shit we unleashed skeletons into civilization?! Viggo was concerned about the scary skeletons and the fact that they could bring the elevator back down. Maybe hunt down the five escaped ones and kill them? Except they are scary and killed poor Karl! THEN they realized that the leg maybe has powers so they wanted to get the transforming giant skeleton's peg leg. It was a fun back and forth.


And then BEAR TRAPS. They setup their bear traps around the elevator just in case the skeletons came back.


They met Jehan! He was looking for Karl. Karl's dead :( But at least Karl's player gets a new PC integrated pretty fast!


"He blew up!" - Claus

"Shut up Claus!" - all decent, sensitive folk
"Yeah but he can't get reanimated if he blew up, it's a blessing!" - Claus

Viggo interrogated Jehan a bit, he's legit, they gave him Karl's seal. They finished setting up the traps and hung out while Claus took some time to fill an empty spell slot out of his book.


Next they set off down the trail of ole peg leg, noticed that it's peg leg size went down pretty suddenly and then it turned back north, away from the direction of the town. Shortly thereafter it met up with the big gnarly claw tracks (I slipped and said owlbear) and then the peg leg tracks disappeared.


"I've seen many skeletons, none of them talked! ...None of them moved, either." - Tenkos


Had a brief little chat, got some more background from Jehan, Caleb told him Karl's last words. "Save Altdorf, beware the Duvan'Ku." Talked about how they were an organization that were hunting Jehan and Karl but hopefully they aren't anymore.


They also theorized about what the deal with the skeletons in the crypt was. Was it a hive mind? Are they all individually aware and in control? How do they work? They decided to press on after the large broken trail of the owlbear skeleton.


They ran smack dab into all five escaped skeletons! Almost literally, as the party was surprised but the skeletons were not.

  • Skeleton with a gnarled peg leg
  • Large quadruped with sharp claws and fierce beak
  • Charred up skeleton
  • Skeleton with a shield on its back
  • Skeleton covered in wax
The peg leg skeleton, now only three feet tall and riding atop the owlbear skeleton, opened with a shouted "Leave us alone!" but otherwise the skeletons did not make any aggressive moves. They talked back and forth with the peg leg skeleton, it kept getting bigger the more annoyed it got. Most interesting to the party was that this skeleton did NOT have the raspy, hard 't' accentuated voice of the stag skeleton. Instead it sounded like a small child! Some of the players with more direct child interaction experience had some good ideas for how to bargain with it, trying to get more information without pissing it off.

Sidebar: In a later conversation Vegas noted the differences between how the players with small children interacted with little kid skeleton as compared to those without. Bring your life experiences into the game, referees!

The peg leg skeleton went from child-sized and riding to standing and eventually a full 18 feet tall. Jehan produced a sizable lump  of fool's gold from his pack as a peace offering to the skeleton which gleefully snatched it up. They learned the "not nice man" in the underground made all the skeletons dig and they couldn't do anything to not dig. He was not nice because they didn't want to dig and he was a man because he sounded like one. Peg leg wanted to squash him (like they squashed Karl, although they weren't super happy about that), BUT if not nice man helped peg leg squash other, meaner people, that's fine too. Apparently there were some specific bad people that peg leg was user about but they didn't go into more detail.

Sidebar: Helpful Waffle (Jehan's player) rolled "fool's gold" on the "Useless" table from Evey Lockhart's excellent The Quickly Equipped Murder Hobo. We laughed and he immediately started thinking on ways that he could make use of it. Neither one of us thought it would come up this quickly. He vowed to get another chunk soon.

Viggo kept going back and forth between "well this creature doesn't seem dangerous" to "okay you can't just squash people that are not nice to you." Caleb was up front, backing Viggo up and Jehan seemed unsure, but Claus and Tenkos were already backing away, because if an 18' tall skeleton opens with "leave us alone!" well, sure! Eventually they convinced her to try and head east and over the Dwarfgrave Mountains, where it's more sparse and lawless.



Picture of a poorly drawn mostly empty hex map with an arrow pointing east towards mountains.
All of the sudden she shrunk down, climbed up onto the beastly skeleton, and shouted "Well my name is Sarah, BYE" over her shoulder as she ran off into the woods with her skelly crew.

Sidebar: At some point she identified the large skeletal owlbear as "Hoot-Hoot" as well but I forgot to put that in there. Oops.


They stared off after the skeletons for a bit then made their way back to the elevator. Suzie the mule was still there, completely unaffected by the evening's shenanigans. Discussed what to do with their newfound knowledge, did NOT want to just go about shouting that there were skeletons digging their way out. Decided to tell Lady Margaret about what was going on after they had rested, breakfasted, and were ready to roll out.

They gave her the lowdown, she bought their loot, and then she had her people immediately start packing up. She promised to notify the rest of the Cossroads residents after the party had moved out. They started their own prep to move out and we ended session.

Everyone got 1218 sp each from sale of tapestries and silverware. Lady Margaret intimated that she would be able to turn around a much nicer profit down in Universitatstadt (dammit Vegas) or Teutonitopia (DAMMIT VEGAS) with the info they gave her.

Sidebar: I will probably still let Vegas name stuff because Vegas.

She also knew a bunch of stuff about Viggo's informant and bounty target that she probably shouldn't have so our party's bounty hunter tracked her down for a little side chat after the session ended.

Sidebar: Counting this session they have spent a total of SIX sessions chasing down a brilliant dog rumor contributed by Arnold K. All those dope flavorful skeletons came from the brain of Ian Reilly. Sarah was inspired by an item off one of Beloch Shrike's excellent tables but I can't share which one because spoilers. No mspaint picture this time because I'm way too behind.

Decaying Lands 24: YOLO

PCs Present & Played:

Caleb, Fighter 3 (Just Yolks)
Karl Gelt, Exiled Prince 1 (Helpful Waffle)
Tenkos, Cleric 3 [plague doctor kit] (Sugarplum)
Viggo Marklund, Specialist 3 [bounty hunter kit] (Peanut Butter)



Last time the party finished looting the tombs, found some potentially useful stuff, didn't get anybody killed, saw a bunch  more skeletons, and lost another torch.

This time they had a slightly diminished party because of real life stuff. They spent a bit discussing their options, vehemently decided against giving the skeletons the bodies from the tombs, and ended up with their one plan to carry the turn undead casting cleric so they could concentrate.

Sidebar: There was originally a pretty detailed write-up for this session. I accidentally erased it all due to some malarkey with the blogger app which apparently hasn't been supported for years. Oops. Wouldn't even be writing a summary if not for some particular events, but consider this abridged.

The party hemmed and hawed about giving over the corpses to ole staggy, decided against it, asked real nice and stag-head let them leave. Bunch of skeletons waited for them and followed them in front of wherever they walked, eventually all the way to the elevator. Some of the skeletons ended up behind the party, such that the general arrangement was:

Behind
  • Stag-head skeleton
  • Skeleton wielding its own arm as a club
  • Skeleton wearing a spiked helm
Ahead (and on the elevator)
  • Large quadruped with sharp claws and beak
  • Skeleton with a carved, wooden leg
  • Skeleton with a shield on its back
  • Skeleton covered in wax
  • Skeleton with blackened charcoal for bones
The party was sandwiched in between. They had hoped they could just push past but stag-head tired of negotiating now that it knew of the elevator and shit went down.

Initiative was a big deal. Rolled for sides and party got to go first, Tenkos immediately busted out his turn undead. Rolled pretty well, all of the skeletons except large quadruped and wooden leg are affected.

Rest of the party got to go. Caleb ran up to the beaked quadrepedal beast and chopped with his massive greatsword. True to form, Just Yolks rolled a massive damage die (9 or 10) and, unfortunately, an equivalent number to hit. Strongest whiff you ever saw.

Karl ran up next, charging the skeleton with the wooden leg. At this point I honestly cannot recall whether Karl hit the thing or not. Soon it would not matter.

Viggo decided to sit tight next to Tenkos, within the ten foot radius of the turn undead.

Skeletons got to go next. The three behind fled down the hall, including stag-head. The three affected skeletons on the elevator immediately started scrambling up the rope and out of the well! The two unaffected skeletons acted next.

The quadruped, possibly by now identified as an owlbear skeleton, went in on Caleb with the old claw claw bite. His plate mail, though mighty, could not stop a critical on the bite and he took some serious hurt.

At the same time, the skeleton with the wooden leg was growing! It grew so tall it broke through the wooden ceiling on the elevator! It grabbed one of the large timbers used to rotate the elevator and brought it down crashing into Karl! *crunch*

The damage of the timber, together with Karl's prior hurt from the flame trap, was enough to bring him down to -3, the awful sweet spot in LotFP where you are guaranteed to die but you've got 1d10 minutes of living left to do.

Sidebar: This was the same amount that Helga died at, way back when in the Sleeping Place of the Feathered Swine.

Everyone was pretty stunned, honestly. Helpful Waffle's first character (ever!), first dungeon foray almost at an end, and then it all came crashing down.

Next round came and Tenkos rolled his turn undead check again, not only succeeding but getting high enough to affect the last two skeletons. Now, come their turn, they would all be running away.

Viggo and Caleb sat tight. I double checked the rules about 0 / negative hit points and decided that Karl could trade 1 minute of (slowly dying) life for 1 round of full action. He chose to spend them in action!

First Karl took off his house sigil necklace, gave it to Caleb, and told him this (approximately):

"Find Jahan, give this to him. It is the emblem of lost Altdorf. And beware the Duvan'ku!"

Then the Exiled Prince grabbed one of the jelly bomb / Molotov cocktails that they found in the tomb of Emil the Sapper and raced with a battle yell back down the hallway towards the stag-head skeleton. The corridor was illuminated by a blast of fire and some additional, unnatural white light as the explosion filled the hallway with jelly and flames.

The rest of the party stared for a moment, gave a few more moments to let the skeletons run farther away, and then Viggo and Caleb hoisted up their concentrating comrade and carried him to the elevator. Think they struggled a bit, trying to turn the central shaft (it's meant for at least three) but they wanted the skeletons to keep running away.

Sidebar: The carrying idea was a clever little strategy based around the fact that even if an undead is not turned it still can't approach within 10 feet of a cleric concentrating on turn undead. We realized after that moving into the elevator would have meant approaching the five that fled that way, meaning they wouldn't be turned, but this was fine as is and we'll play it that way next time.

None of the skeletons failed their climb checks (which would have been hilarious and awesome) so they eventually made it up without further incident. Suzie was still tied to the tree, completely unaffected, and there were no skeletons in sight.

The party had emerged with a ton of loot from their delve into the tombs but not without paying a great cost.

Sidebar: It can be hard losing a character, especially your first one, but Helpful Waffle took it in stride. He's got some ideas for his next PC already, so he'll be all right. We also decided that from now on anyone whose character dies gets to name the summary so "YOLO" goes out to him.

Extra special thanks to Ian Reilly for writing an inspiring set of skeleton descriptions and Beloch Shrike for the nugget of an idea that made a memorable moment in this session and set up something extra special for next session. Finally, this little pitstop never would have happened without the excellent doggy rumor provided by Arnold K. And of course this would all be a whole lot of "lonely fun" without my lovely players, who I appreciate a whole mess. Thanks everyone!

2018-03-25

Decaying Lands 23: Bodies to Barter

PCs Present & Played:

Caleb, Fighter 3 (Just Yolks)
Claus, Magic-User 4 (Vegas)
Jewel, Really Good Dog 3 (Rudy)
  Buddy, ratter dog
Karl Gelt, Exiled Prince 1 (Helpful Waffle)
Tenkos, Cleric 3 [plague doctor kit] (Sugarplum)
Viggo Marklund, Specialist 3 [bounty hunter kit] (Peanut Butter)



Last time the party skirted the skeletons, found a bunch of tombs, looted some of them, lost Wiebke to a trap (T_T), and faced off against a small crowd of skeletons fronted by one with a stag head.

We picked up from there, with the stag skelly once again demanding to know what they were doing here. Initial hesitation led into a quick explanation that they were just exploring, found this place, and now they just wanted to grab what's in the tombs and get out. Definitely they did not want to interfere with whatever the skeletons are doing!

They also offhand mentioned that there was a trap which triggered a "Do you have any bodies? Give them all to and you may leave" demand from the stag skeleton. Viggo asked what the skeleton wanted the bodies for and the only response was "HATE," which made them not want to give the bodies even more after reminding the skeleton of the murals they saw.

Jewel dragged Tenkos past the archway (their working theory is that the archway stops the skeletons). Stag took a step forward, offered Tenkos to join him, but Jewel and Tenkos ran away when it took a step into the hallway. When they stepped forward though (Jewel smelled more undeath and wanted the light) they saw another ten skeletons waiting in the darkness.

They didn't want to give the skeletons over because they don't want to help whatever is going on here but they also didn't want to die a horrible death and didn't think they could beat what they'd seen. They discussed their options, Claus' scroll of summon came up, and Claus said "That is not an option." When they explained to Claus about the staghead wanting the body his immediate reaction was "They can have 'em!" They were also worried that if they "desecrate all of the tombs" then the barrier that they think is there won't work anymore.

"What if they have some jewels? Maybe they can help us carry our stuff!"
"What's a good show of good faith on their part for giving them one body?"
"Our leverage is the bodies."
"How does turn undead work?"
"Do you think the tunneling saint has a secret tunnel out of their tomb?"

Claus went back into Emil the Sapper's tomb, poked around, held a torch to the satchel bomb in the mural, trying to light it. It didn't light but he held it to the bomb long enough that he noticed that the wall was glowing red with the heat, different than the stone wall. Some prying with a dagger and he popped open a hidden metal door and revealed a small tunnel leading into the wall! Claus was scared to put his torch near the tunnel (thought it might blow up) but nothing bad happened when he lit a piece of paper on fire and tossed it in from as far away as he could. Jewel trotted inside for a bit past the edge of the torchlight but didn't see an end and came back.

"Jewel should we go down this tunnel if skeletons are killing us?"
Vigorous shake of the head

I am the best at drawing in roll20. New tunnel with magenta! I wonder if anyone else can read this.
Meanwhile Karl, Viggo, and Tenkos crawled thru the blasted door of Saskia the Bookish's tomb to check it out. The walls were covered in bookshelves, floor to ceiling, and even her mural depicted her not on a battlefield but in an ordered study, reading.

Vegas (plays the magic user): "Wait so it is like a Library?"
me: "There are definitely a lot of books here, on shelves."
Vegas: "Okay guys we live here now."

They cracked open her tomb and pulled out a pair of fine scrimshawed whalebone eyeglasses. Karl put them on and suddenly felt a strong desire to look at the books on the shelves. They stood out to him, like they were all backlit. He looked for something useful to their current situation and pulled "Alchemy of the Divine by Excrutior Tarnackis" off the shelf. He opened it, started reading it, and was turning the pages super fast!

Unfortunately he couldn't stop. When they tried to leave him in the room, he followed the light but still didn't stop reading. They left him in a corner with some candles before deciding that they needed him to pay attention to other stuff. Caleb had to wrestle him down, rip off the glasses with a couple saves on top to get him to snap out of it. As they came off the knowledge of whatever he was reading went with them.

At some point during all this they noticed a few more (ten) skeletons show up. This brought the arrayed bones to:

Skeleton wielding its own arm as a club
Skeleton wearing a spiked helm
Skeleton covered in wax
Skeleton with charcoal burned bones
Skeleton with a shield on its back
Large quadrupedal skeleton with sharp claws and a terrible beak
Skeleton with the head of a large, many-pointed stag
Skeleton with a big gnarled, worked peg leg
Skeleton with the symbol of the Church fused to its skull
Another skeleton with charcoal burned bones
Skeleton with metal and chain pulling and shoring up its bones
Skeleton with a fine red sash
Skeleton that shifts back and forth on its feet
Skeleton with a bastard sword impaled through one of its spine bones
Skeleton with a pentagram made of wax on its chest with candles at the points
Skeleton with no head!
Skeleton with some kind of powder leaking from its skull

Few of the new skeletons to join the fray. Spent way too much time on this.

They loaded Caleb up with Karoline's plate mail, gave Caleb's old (less fancy) plate mail to Karl, and debated whether to break into Adelmar the Forthwith's tomb. Viggo made the point that between all the Molotov cocktails, two walking tanks, and a cleric with turn undead that they had a pretty good chance of fighting their way out even if the "barrier" failed, but Claus no way would it drop their protection so they planned to break into the last tomb.

Adelmar the Forthwith's tomb beckoned, but it was made of metal and covered in thousands of long metal spikes (like a bed of nails but bigger and longer). They tried to grab an individual spike to pull it out but it was fixed fast. They tried to get a look between the door and the wall for a hinge but saw nothing. Caleb, clad in plate mail, tried to slowly push into it and was rewarded with some bleeding for the effort (4 on a d4).

They weren't sure what to do so they actually went and asked the stag-headed skeleton for help! They told it they were trying to enter the tomb of Adelmar the Forthwith and it immediately responded with "Ah, the coward" and said that a body would probably jog its memory. Instead they grabbed Karoline's heavy sarcophagus lid and charged at the spiked door! Excitement! They smashed it over and crashed into the tomb.

Inside they found another mural, sarcophagus, and several candelabras. This mural was different in that, while they could tell that Adelmar was definitely running out in front of a large group of soldiers it was not clear if the soldiers were allies or enemies of the man. Busting open the lid they picked out a set of boots that seemed unbothered by the passage of time and Viggo immediately put them on. Jewel wanted him to wait until they got out of the tomb but she's a dog so it just came out "woof woof!" and the bounty hunter shoved his little feetsies right into the boots.

He immediately became super hungry and ate a ration! Yum! But why and what's next? It was late so we ended the session.

Lost some torches on the way. Torch Inventory:
  • Torch 1: OUT
  • Torch 2: Lit, Statue 4, d4
  • Torch 3: OUT
  • Torch 4: Lit, on the floor?, d6
  • Torch 5: Lit, Karl, d4
  • Torch 6: Lit, Tenkos, d8 (this thing refuses to be depleted)
  • Torch 7: unlit
  • Torch 8: unlit

2018-03-04

Decaying Lands 22: Skeleton Staredown

PCs Present & Played:

Claus, Magic-User 4 (Vegas)
  Wiebke Bott, linklady & burgeoning apprentice
Jewel, Really Good Dog 3 (Rudy)
  Buddy, ratter dog
Karl Gelt, Exiled Prince 1 (Helpful Waffle)
Tenkos, Cleric 3 [plague doctor kit] (Sugarplum)
Viggo Marklund, Specialist 3 [bounty hunter kit] (Peanut Butter)


Long hiatus! Too much work, no time for games. Last time (a long time ago) the party explored an underground... something. They burned some torches, saw and were ignored by some skeletons, stole a bag of silverware, and swiped a bunch of fancy rolled up tapestries.

Sidebar: Shoutout and thanks to Ian Reilly for the awesome d100 skeleton table that is starting to become very relevant to the party.

When we came back they were loaded down with the rugs and across the large atrium from the seemingly excavating skeletons. They debated as to whether to take what they got and leave or investigate further. Either character or player curiosity (or fear of leaving whatever was happening to progress) ended in a decision to keep going after stashing the tapestries and silverware back in the elevator. Viggo specifically made note that he was dumping out the silverware and keeping the sack with him.

Alas, while they were doing all this the torch they had left in one of the statues in the elevator hallway went out. Karl and Tenkos' torches were still burning brightly though so they weren't too worried.

Their aim was to explore more of the underground while still avoiding the industrious skeletons as much as possible. They skirted the leftward side of the atrium and heading towards the top hallway since they hadn't seen any skeletons going in there yet.
From 1 clockwise round to 4.

Partway down the hallway an arch descended from the ceiling. The writing was Old Teutonic but Karl was still able to make it out. It read:


"Let the rest of the honored dead never be disturbed."

As they approached they saw that the archway descended down the walls as well, with an inch of stone coming out of the wall covered in iconography holy to the Church. Think that Karl went thru first and when he didn't get zapped or disintegrate then everyone else came thru as well.

The hallways split into five different alcoves that they eventually found to all contain doors. Each doorway had its own descended arch above it bearing the name of the one presumably entombed inside. They went clockwise around in this order:

  • Karoline the Stout
  • Marleen the Mendicant
  • Emil the Sapper
  • Saskia the Bookish
  • Adelmar the Forthwith


Karoline the Stout's door was thick solid wood, reinforced with iron bands, with a knob and lock right in the center. Viggo checked around the perimeter of the door and inside the lock looking for needles or blades or anything else out of the ordinary. All he found was the glint of what looked like hinges on the right side of the door. Quick work with a set of thieves' tools and Viggo had the door open.

The tomb itself was dominated by a large stone sarcophagus, carved in the image of a large, muscular woman in full plate, greatsword held in her hands. On the far wall was a mural showing an idealized version of the woman carved on the sarcophagus standing triumphant on a field of battle. It looked very much like one of the tapestries they took from the feast hall (maybe exactly, hard to tell since they left the tapestries in the elevator).

Everyone except for Jewel (and Buddy) went inside the room. The very good dog and her ratter companion held back, wary of "disturbing the rest of the honored dead." 

They lit the candles that were left in the candleabras and very quickly decided to open the sarcophagus. Claus covered his mouth with his ascot, Wiebke and Viggo got out their crowbars, and they heaved just enough to crack the opening and look inside. Big puff of dust and then they saw a skeleton in some plate mail with a big sword.

Sidebar: I love that Claus has a froofy ascot that he is also willing to use for practical purposes. I also love that this party kind of hits the spread on respectability, with a seemingly higher class dandy or academic (in reality a depraved magic-user) and well-mannered noble (lost prince!) traveling around with two potentially scary, grimy, but ultimately effective and respected professionals (plague doctor and bounty hunter). I guess Caleb kind of fits in between them depending on how much he pretends to be a knight. Jewel opens up a whole 'nother avenue of options all by herself.

First reaction was "Why isn't this skeleton moving rocks?" Their opinion was split between the lid being heavy and the archway denoting some kind of holy area that was blocking whatever was animating the skeletons. Not wanting to take any (more?) chances they finished opening the lid all the way and quickly took the greatsword out.

They wanted to grab the plate mail too so we talked about how one could save time by not taking care for the bones and just smashing them to get the armor out without having to undo straps and whatnot. In the end they decided to leave the armor there since Caleb wasn't around and left leave the greatsword in the hall.

At this point they took stock of the general area behind the descended arch, which is when they found that all five branches led to doors and that they all had engraved arches above them. Karl also checked the back side of the entry arch and saw another inscription:


"Let the rest of the damned never come."


This made them all a bit uneasy and seemed to reinforce their theory that this area was special somehow.

They kept going round the doors, clockwise. Jewel took Buddy and posted up on their side of the arch, in the darkness. She didn't seem to want any part of looting the tombs so she stood guard, using her doggy hearing and super good doggy nose (Scent the Ineffable - smell undead within 30') to watch their back.

The next door belonged to Marleen the Mendicant: simple, metal, and no obvious way to interact apart from a small slot directly in the middle. Viggo dropped a silver piece through the slot. He heard it slide in and hit some metal but nothing else. Tenkos tried a copper piece and heard a lot more moving parts as some mechanism behind the door clicked and the whole thing lost tension and swung out.

Marleen's tomb was even more sparse than Karoline's: only a single candelabra was there to be lit and the carving on her sarcophagus was much rougher and simpler. The mural showed a humbly dressed woman leaning down and comforting wounded soldiers, again reminiscent of one of the tapestries the party took down.

There was nothing inside her sarcophagus apart from some moldy robes and a wooden cross on a steel chain. Karl, the most religious out of the party, took the cross in the hopes that it might have some power against the undead they had seen.

Sidebar: While Tenkos is a cleric, and that might make one think he is the most religious, the faceless doctors from Ghallia are a bit more practical in their application of faith and caring for the souls of humanity. If they hadn't been so effective at keeping back the plague that ravaged Ghallia the Church probably would have burned them all as heretics long ago.

Two doors down, three to go. They tackled Emil the Sapper next. His door was big, stone, and featureless. Inspecting the door came up with nothing but then Viggo widened the search to the stones around the door. That revealed a loose stone that was quickly pried out, leaving a cavity that went back a bit and ended in a t-bar extending out from the dirt. Viggo reached in and started to pull. As he did, he heard two clicks.

While this was happening, Jewel heard some shuffling and grinding of bone approaching, different from the normal excavatory sounds she had been monitoring of the skeletons working. She raced back towards the torchlight with Buddy...

... as it suddenly got a lot brighter. The first click Viggo heard was the door opening but the second one was the fire bomb that was also hooked up to the t-bar and oil and fire shot out into the hallway near the door (per p60 of LotFP Rules & Magic). Oil & fire as written isn't really that bad, just a d4, but if it hits 4 then it can cascade. Everyone mostly got just scorched, except Wiebke.

Wiebke rolled a 4. We didn't have stats for her yet so I had Vegas roll her HP and Con score. HP came up 1. Not looking great. Con 16 gave her 3 total HP, which was better, but now she had to make a save or take more damage. Had to get better than a 15 on a d20, and she did not. Don't remember what the next damage roll was, but it was more than enough.

Wiebke Bott, former linklady, had been burned to death. Viggo was really upset to be exploded TWICE by fire traps. After they realized Weibke couldn't be saved Viggo checked into the mechanism more and saw a metal wire attached to the back of the t-bar, separate from the main pull line.

Sidebar: In retrospect just a simple oil & fire trap is not really that deadly, especially for something to guard a sapper's tomb. I should have made it stronger! I was thinking the threat of catching on fire was a good danger but practically speaking it's not terribly likely (roll max damage, fail a save, then roll max damage again). I also should have probably just rolled damage once but here we are.

Side sidebar: I may be the most upset out of everyone that Wiebke died. Definitely top 3 of my favorite NPCs so far and I was really curious to see where her relationship with Claus went. T_T

Claus picked up the smoldering body of Wiebke and put it in the sarcophagus of Marlene the Mendicant. Karl said a prayer over her and everyone agreed that Marleen would probably have been okay with this.

Meanwhile Tenkos took his torch with Jewel back towards the arch and found themselves staring at the hollow eye sockets of a skeleton, garbed in tagged  northman's clothing. It didn't move, just stared at them from the atrium room with its head cocked.

The rest of the party continued, undeterred, to the tomb of Saskia the Bookish. The door again had no obvious holes or handles but this time they did not find anything on the wall around it. The door was smooth and was made out of a single sheet of some kind of dark green, almost black stone.

Someone made the obvious "speak friend and enter" joke but to no effect. They guessed that "the Bookish" meant that this person was probably a magic user and so they wanted to cast some magic on the door to try and get it to open. They did a quick inventory of Claus's spell slots and came up with two magic missiles, a free 2nd level slot (usually used for comprehend languages for Jewel) and a scroll of Summon that Claus had prepared back during his downtime in Bremmlecht as a nuclear option if all else failed.

Sidebar: YAAAASSSS.

They went with magic missile and four shining pink bolts of eldritch energy slammed into the door, each one causing more and more of the rock to chip off in large chunks.

Sidebar: I tried really really hard to describe a slate blackboard without calling it a slate blackboard. In retrospect I could have said it was like shale or slate and it wouldn't have given too much away. Trying to describe things in qualitative terms without being super obvious is a challenge I really enjoy as a referee but I can see the potential to go too far as well.

The four bolts punched a sizable hole in the middle of the door but also made quite a significant amount of noise. Jewel began to bark as she smelled more undead approaching and a number of skeletons appeared out of the darkness to join the decayed northman:

Skeleton wielding its own arm as a club
Skeleton wearing a spiked helm
Skeleton covered in wax
Skeleton with charcoal burned bones
Skeleton with a shield on its back
Large quadrupedal skeleton with sharp claws and a terrible beak
Skeleton with the head of a large, many-pointed stag

The stag-headed skeleton took a step forward from the group up to the edge of the boundary between the corridor and the atrium. A raspy voice hissed out from its skull and slithered down the hall for all to hear: "Who are you? Whaa-t do you wan-t here?"


Continuing the MS paint streak, it's too fun. Is this remotely recognizable?

Jewel kind of whimper growled (if I recall) and Tenkos mumbled something non-committal. The stag-headed creature's voice slid down the hallway again, repeating its question. Tenkos called back over his shoulder to the rest of the group, "Hey I think we're going to have to fight this guy soon!" and we ended the session.

Sidebar: End time was a little earlier than usual but it was a great break point and some of the players thought it might be better if Caleb was present. You know, just in case.

Torch Inventory:
  • Torch 1: OUT
  • Torch 2: Lit, Statue 4, d4
  • Torch 3: OUT
  • Torch 4: Lit, on the floor?, d6
  • Torch 5: Lit, Karl, d4
  • Torch 6: Lit, Tenkos, d8
  • Torch 7: fresh
  • Torch 8: fresh

2018-01-29

d100 Skeleton Generator

I love mspaint. Screw hands and feet though.
Ian Reilly wrote a really flavorful table of d100 skeletons. They are really good! You should go there and read that first. The timing was perfect too because my players had heard some dog rumors about corpses digging down in the graveyard and were trying to investigate. To make my life easier, I made a sheet to populate stats and descriptions based on rolling a bunch of d100s. (Unsurprising spoiler for my players hey random skeletons incoming).


All you have to do is fill in a bunch of numbers on the first column of the first worksheet and the sheet does the rest. I use random.org's Integer Generator to give me a nice big column of numbers 1-100 and then just copy paste them into the sheet all in one go. Here's a link to a generator of 300 to make it even easier.

All of the descriptions on the data sheet are from Ian's awesome table; they get pulled into the first sheet when you fill out the column. All of the stats are whatever garbage I made up. You may want to replace them if you copy the sheet to use because I don't have any kind of intrinsic thought about what skeleton stats should be; I just put seemed good to me (LotFP frame of reference).

HP gets rerolled every time you update the sheet (and apparently whenever you load the sheet) so you may want to get everything set before you pay it too much mind. The "Special" column is pulled from data but the "Special 2" column is editable for when you want to specify what kind of magic shield or wand or whatever the skeleton has. You should definitely use Papers & Pencils d100 wands and d100 staves tables to help with that. I may use Dan D's table of magic masks as crowns stand-ins, too.

I hope this has some use for folks.

If I'm super wrong about old school skeleton stats you can tell me and I will learn something!

2018-01-28

Decaying Lands 21: Bottom Floor Exit

PCs Present & Played:


Caleb, Fighter 3 (Just Yolks)
Jewel, Really Good Dog 3 (Rudy)
  Buddy, ratter dog
Karl Gelt, Exiled Prince 1 (Helpful Waffle)
Tenkos, Cleric 3 [plague doctor kit] (Sugarplum)
Viggo Marklund, Specialist 3 [bounty hunter kit] (Peanut Butter)


Last time the party talked to some dogs, got some info about mean squirrels and big people rocks in the woods, met a cagey woman who knows a lot more than she lets on, dug up an elevator, and went 150 feet under the dirt down to the bottom of the shaft.

Sidenote: We had a bunch of technical difficulties getting started trying to get a new video solution working since appear.in decided to start charging $10 a month. Boo. Glad Discord got video chat all rolled out. It's not as good, but it's the right price.

The players were incredibly cautious here. They took Wiebke's torches and then did a quick inventory of other light sources. Turned out only Viggo was carrying any, giving them a total of 8 for a devle of indeterminate length.

Sidenote: this continued a trend of somehow only Viggo having adventuring gear. Going down the elevator he was the only one with any rope (they had to run back to town to get more). Before that he was the only one with a shovel to dig out the elevator (good thing Jewel had scrounged up those mangy squirrel chasing dogs or Viggo would have been digging for a while). I think maybe it all just came with the bounty hunter kit [edit: nope, just the rope] but it still cracks me up that Viggo seems like the only prepared and practical one.

Jewel sent her doggerling ahead. Even though she liked Buddy a lot more than the other ones she had that's not going to stop her from sacrificing him if need be. No horrible traps though!

They went down the hall, encountering four sets of paired statues every thirty feet or so. They deduced that the statues were meant to hold torches but the poses of the statues were warning against entering entering. The last pair of statues were half again as tall as a person and quite imposing but they continued on after a brief hesitation.

The next section of the passage was extra quiet, like all the sound was muted. On either side were dozens of holes from floor to ceiling. They checked into a few before deciding that their primary purpose was to sonically separate the elevator from the rest of the dungeon. Eventually the passage opened ahead at the edge of their torchlight. They lit another torch and tossed it as far as they could, illuminating a cluster of columns surrounding a large dais. On the dais was a huge statue of a humanoid. The overall shape of the statue was not well defined (think Batman cartoon's Clayface) but there was a carved chunk missing at the neck where a head would go.

They were hesitant to enter, especially when they saw some skeletons on the other side of the room carting rubble and stone from one exit to another.

They came in 1. Dais in the middle, columns around it. Skeletons take rubble from 3 to 4. 6 is stairs up. Jewel says hi ;)

Since the skeletons didn't pay them any mind, just kept carting rocks and whatnot, the party decided to head up the stairs, looking for a quicker way out than the elevator they came down on. As they traveled up the stairs the amount of dirt and rubble increased until eventually the got dead-ended in a cave-in of dirt and rock. Along the way however they past a series of murals on either side of the hallway. Paraphrasing, it went like this:

  • Group of people sealing a tomb with an ornate coffin in it
  • Same group of people wrapping a restrained man in some kind of bandages or similar
  • Huge battle, living against the dead
  • Isolated incidents and attacks
  • Restrained man from earlier doing experiments with the dead
  • Same guy pouring over "evil wizard books"

Disappointed, they went back down the stairs in 6 and moved over to 5, trying to keep their distance from the skeletons. They heard them still moving around but didn't have any kind of trouble so they pressed on. They moved past a large set of double doors (no horrible traps, no locks!) and into a huuuuuge hall. There were tables upon tables, all set for a feast (any food long since turned to dust), and tons of weapons and racks lining the sides of the room. They moved cautiously through, theorizing that this was some kind of feast hall for the victorious warriors.

At the end of the feast hall they came to another door, of sorts. This one was a massive disc of stone, set into grooves in the floor, with no obvious way to move it.

Like this but solid stone and bigger than the hole and set in a groove and okay it's not that much like this apart from the shape.

The front was incredibly smooth, so they couldn't get a handhold on it. They tried pushing, thinking it would revolve around a center point. Nope. Finally one of the player went and got some of the polearms from the weapon racks and tried to wedge it into the gap between the circle and the groove. A few of them got to work and were able to get enough leverage to slowly work the disc out of the way, into the side.

This time they found a much much smaller feast hall with much nicer tableware. They scooped up as much as they could stuff in a sack and went toward the back of the hall. Hanging prominently at the rear, each behind a head table, were five very ornate and well made tapestries. Each one had a single, prominent figure in the middle with a battle going on in the background, similar to the murals seen before.

They debated maybe two minutes the possibility that the tapestries were trapped or cursed before taking them off the wall, rolling them up, and hoisting them on shoulders. So far their ideas for the tapestries are:

  • Burn the tapestries because maybe they're cursed
  • Throw them at skeletons
  • Wrap up the skeletons in the tapestries

.....

They ended the session carrying a bunch (5) of rolled up fancy tapestries and a bulging sack of fancy silverware. Now to see whether they investigate further or run with what they got. Someone cue up The Clash.

Sidenote: First real outing of Logan Knight's light rules from the fantastic Sleeping Place of the Feathered Swine (how many times do I have to tell you go buy that thing it's so fun). I made mine a little more forgiving, but so far this is their torch status (yes they only have 8 and four came from the torchbearer).

  • Torch 1: OUT
  • Torch 2: Lit, Statue 4, d4
  • Torch 3: OUT
  • Torch 4: Lit, Tenkos, d6
  • Torch 5: Lit, Karl, d8
  • Torch 6: fresh
  • Torch 7: fresh
  • Torch 8: fresh