Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Onward and (slightly) Upward

AKA Big Ass B/X Session Part 4

[one thing I completely forgot to mention in my last post was how Sweet Tito got into the fight with the ghouls...as the only "magical support" on the party, he wanted to cast a spell at the ghouls. "Use lightning bolt!" said AB. "No! Not in water...you'll fry everyone!" said everyone else. "They're dead already! F it...use lightning!" You may recall AB's earlier ease with which he casually roasted fellow party members when he was the one wielding the fireballs. However, cooler heads prevailed and Sweet T. instead gunned down a ghoul with magic missile]

Once everything was through the copper-plated hallway, conscious, and fully dressed, the party took stock of its situation.

“Anyone need healing?”

Ah! The party cleric! Echoing the words of magical paramedics heard around gaming tables in many nations.

“Me! Me!”

Ah! The cries of Gustav! Echoing the words of incinerated fighters everywhere.

Actually, Borgnine was in pretty bad shape (I ruled he had taken some “eating damage” prior to the battle being joined), but he was willing to allow the bulk of the healing to go to Gustav.

I use the term “bulk” loosely, as Luke proceeded to roll “1s” for every single healing roll. What the hell is it with Game Science dice? I had wanted some previously, but my own dice seem much more random than Luke’s snake-eyes-prone rollers.

Fortunately, once he was out of “cure spells,” Alstar could still use his staff of healing.

For 1 point cured.

AND…for 1 point cured.

[the B/X staff of healing can only be used 1 per day per individual]

Gustav was still under 10 hit points. “Maybe we should camp here guys!” What? The room is filled with water. “How about in the ghoul’s room…does it look safe? Could we secure it?” The chamber that had housed the ghoul’s was even less inhabitable…a dank, filthy, probably-disease-ridden chamber…and also filled with water. “Maybe we should…” Everyone was on-board to continue the expedition, and Gustav lost the argument to rest/sleep at this point; though they DID allow him to walk in the back instead of point.

Part of their wariness at stopping, might have been due to the wandering monster I rolled while they were waiting on the paralysis to wear off. Wandering monsters are uncommon in White Plume Mountain, but they ARE present…and waiting in one place for too long is a sure-fire way to meet some.

In this particular case, the party was still spread between two ends of the copper-lined hallway, when a set of invisible foot prints when splashing by…past one group of party members, down the corridor, past the second group, and thence off into the darkness. The party had no time to even draw swords but could just stare at the footsteps of whatever it was.

Disconcerting to say the least.

“We need to get out of here before the Predator comes back!”

The ‘Predator’ (or whatever) did NOT come back and the party didn’t go hunting for it (just as well), but it did cause them to spare a few glances over their shoulders as they made their way deeper into the heat of the mountain.

Up the stairs and onto a dry (if slick with moisture) corridor, the party heaved a collective sigh of relief (“Can we rest here?” “No!”). Down the corridor they find themselves at a door: stout oak, iron-bound. After having Sly listen (nothing) and try the lock (“It’s unlocked”), they kick it open to find themselves at one end of a great hall, extending off to their right into darkness.

By the light of Blaarthislaarv, the party can see that the rest of the hall (if hall it is) is barred from them by a 5’ wide pit extending from wall to wall. Holding the light above they can see the pit is lined with gruesome, jagged razors, crusted with some sort of blackened residue like ancient rust that has putrefied in the slime of evil (sometimes my prose waxes all weird like that…I’m trying to get across that they didn’t like the looks of the pit). However, 5’ is nothing right? Easy-shmeazy to jump the gap.

“This looks like some sort of trick…maybe the other side is slippery?” The players decide to cast continual light on a coin and toss the thing across the gap. It hits the floor…and bounces…and bounces…and bounces…ricocheting off walls and floors and ceiling down along the hall until finally dropping out of view, presumably into a similar pit near the other end of the hall. In the brief flash of the bouncing light, the party did see there appeared to be a similar door on the other side of the hall.


A rope was tied around the halfling’s waist. The solid oak door was removed from its hinges, and carefully laid across the pit. Bryan gingerly walked across the makeshift “bridge” and edged his foot onto the floor beyond. His foot instantly skidded into the air on the frictionless surface, though a fortunate dexterity roll allowed him to land on his back on the door, catching himself.

After this abortive (and near fatal) attempt, the party hunkered down to think. “Um, anyone have a fly spell? No?! How about levitation? What kind of party is this?!” I let him stew awhile on their dilemma.

[truth be told, it was just as well they did NOT have a fly spell, as these kind of spells don’t function in the frictionless area of the room…anyone who tried to fly over the pit would probably have gone from bird to pinball to pin cushion. Tim…who was watching the game by now even if he wasn’t participating…later remarked that I was pretty good at “not giving hints” or advice to the players. Hey, there were seven of them…they had plenty of “brain-power!”]

“Fine,” said Luke, “I guess I’ll use my potion of gaseous form. All my equipment turns to mist, too, right?”



Turns out this was yet another (weird!) difference between standard B/X and Labyrinth Lord. I mean the B/X text for gaseous form is pretty clear:

Upon drinking this potion, the user's body will take the form of a cloud of gas. Anything the user is carrying or wearing will fall through the gaseous party to land on the floor.

Doesn’t get much clearer than that, right? There's even an illustration.

Meanwhile, LL’s description of the potion is equally clear:

The person who quaffs this potion, in addition to all items on his or her person...
Guess which one we used?

Right. Welcome to Naked Land, population YOU.

I’m not sure when D&D started to wuss out on things like this (I’ll have to review my 1st edition DMG...yep, there it is), though I suppose having gaseous form affect one’s equipment IS consistent with other magic potions, like growth and invisibility.

However, “consistency” (like “game balance”) isn’t something I’m all that concerned with. Why can someone quaff a potion of polymorph and change their armor into the fur and hide of an owl bear? ‘Cause it’s magic, of course! Why does a person drinking a vial of gaseous form leave all his or her gear behind while drifting away as fog? Because it’s a damn cool effect, that’s why!

So Alstar semi-reluctantly used his potion (he may have been saving it for a quick escape). He drifted across to the other side of the chamber where (after an hour or so of waiting) he finally recovered his physical (naked) form. The party members tied a rope to an arrow and fired it across the room for him, and he tied it off to the knocker/ring of the far door. The party members spiked the other end (good thing they kept those spikes!) and were then able to (carefully) navigate the frictionless floor, using the removed door as a portable toboggan/slide/bridge and the rope like a ferry-line.


One thing I forgot to mention earlier: the far wall was illusionary, with the actual stone wall being some ten feet or so beyond where it appeared to be. This was discovered when they initially fired an arrow (with rope) down the hall and into the far wall. Having discovered this little “hidey-hole” (between illusionary wall and real), the party decided that here at last was a location where they could “make camp” and rest up, recovering spells and such.

Boy was Gustav glad about that!
; )

And THAT is where we ended for the evening, around about 11:20 or so. Everyone lived (thanks to my exceedingly generous nature!), though a couple were definitely a bit battered by the experience. All seven of the dudes said they wanted to come back for our next Thursday meet-up at the Baranof, including the two new guys, Vince and Randy. Hook, line, and sinker folks.

As in the past, I’m having fun with White Plume Mountain. I know I’ve joked a bit through these posts that I’ve been “too easy” on the players and “let them live” but really I’ve just been giving them the benefit of the doubt at times…and I AM being fairly tough (I don’t “give hints” or suggestions on how to overcome challenges…and a lot of WPM’s stuff is of the “challenge the player” variety). The ghouls? I was able to use them to beat the characters but good, even with the cleric getting off his “turn attempt.” If I hadn't it simply would have meant another TPK notched on the belt.

Don’t think so? Those ghouls were naked AND hungry…if the party had not “taken the battle to them,” they would have had no problem running down the corridor and chasing them down from behind. Except for the thief, all the adventurers are wearing plate mail (with only one magic suit between ‘em) and are a lot slower than the gibbering horde of ghouls. Claw-claw-bite is an f’ing nightmare for characters…especially in hordes of six to eight. Anyone read Steakley’s book Armor? Ever see a genestealer horde rip open space marines in on the 40K battlefield? Same kind of deal.

Like this: a 2 HD ghoul needs to roll a 16 or better to hit AC 2 (that’s plate mail and shield)…a 25% chance. Now multiply that by three and multiply that again by six (the maximum number that can surround you and attack)…that’s an average of 4+ hits per round, each hit requiring a save versus paralysis. And if your back is turned ‘cause you’re running from the horde, you don’t get your shield bonus.


As it was, one ghoul (and some lucky/unlucky rolls) took down a 7th level character (the cleric)…that’s pretty buff for a 2 HD monster! And I remember feeling confident about taking the halfling eventually as well (if Farnsworth hadn’t roared up like a naked Beowulf!)!

So I don’t really feel bad about leaving out the “medallions of turn immunity.” The encounter was scary enough. Same with the guy running through the induction field…isn’t it more fun to have him ALMOST killed by the microwave attack? Plus his gear was toasted pretty good. If we were running Star Wars instead of D&D, they’d be fitting Gustav with a black body suit and breath mask right about now.

As for the frictionless room…I may not have made it sound all that dangerous, but then, the players took every precaution to keep danger at a minimum (which is good since those razor lined pits had a little something-something referred to as “super-tetanus” in the module). Of course, I suppose I could have interpreted the “no flying magic” to include a drifting gaseous form…but as it was, there was always a chance a wandering monster might have showed up while they were waiting for the potion effects to wear off…

Suffice is to say, it was a good little two hour session, and I can only hope this Thursday is as much fun. I hope so! If I truly “held back” from killing off the player characters, it was at least partly due to wanting them all present for the next few encounters…when things get REALLY deadly (and fun!).

: )

1 comment:

  1. I really like the idea of resting behind the illusory wall. Very clever.

    Ever see a genestealer horde rip open space marines in on the 40K battlefield?
    Such happy days, me and my genestealer cult...