- I think (I think) that, for me, the super hero comic book as a source of "lore" and as a genre may be a dead one. I just don't care very much about "the ongoing story" because most of it is just...eh. Let's just leave it at "I don't care" but ESPECIALLY I don't care about all the new "hero teams" that have been created over the last 20 years (mixing various heroes and villains like a Wild West version of NFL free agency with no salary cap). Just. Don't. Care.
- I think the cinematic MCU is fairly coherent and is a good model to try emulating. Trey, over at Sorcerer's Skull, started doing an analysis of cinematic supers (how they differ from their comic counterparts) and I think that's a pretty good place to start.
- Some may detest the light-heartedness and camp that creeps into these films, but I enjoy much of it, not least because it's too hard to take the genre uber-serious. While I appreciate the new DC films since (and including) Nolan's Batman trilogy, there is something I find very pretentious about using grim-dark to tell stories about characters in tights and/or hot pants with silly code names. I like that the actors take the material seriously, but the writers and directors (i.e. the filmmakers) needn't do so. Damn. Have some fun with it!
Monday, March 29, 2021
A "Heroic" Interlude
Friday, March 26, 2021
Lost in the Dark
About 5,500 feet into the tunnel another tunnel leads sharply off to the south...
|This is how I picture Thisvynn|
the NPC dwarf of N2...kee-rayzy.
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
- Kitiara is 27 years old, and 3rd level. Not an officer in the Dragon Army (of course). Wears studded leather armor, carries normal (non-magical) weapons. Same ability scores as the adventure modules.
- Caramon is 19 years old, and 2nd level. All equipment as per DL5, save that he has only normal (non-magical) weapons.
- Raistlin is 19 year old, and a 2nd level fighter. No, not a mage. He has the same ability scores as in DL5, except with a +1 to STR and +3 to CON (so 11 and 13, respectively...body/spirit never usurped by Fistandantilus). Was wearing scale and wielding two hand axes and a scavenged light crossbow. Currently dressed in chain armor (taken from a dead bandit).
|Young Kit (from DL5);|
still Lawful Evil.
"The D&D rules help you and the other players have a good time, but the rules aren't in charge. You're the DM and you are in charge." (page 4)"Rules enable you and your players to have fun at the table. The rules serve you, not vice versa." (page 235)"Remember that dice don't run your game - you do. Dice are like rules. They're tools to help keep the action moving." (page 237)
Saturday, March 13, 2021
The Worst Module Ever Written
- In the MM, a bandit's hit die is listed as "1-6 hit points," (i.e. the creature has less than 1 HD). The bandit encounter lists the bandits HD as "1-6," and the bandits as having 10 hit points each.
- In the MM, giant frogs are given a range of hit dice (from 1 to 3, based on their size), and variable attack damage (via bite) of 1-3, 1-6, or 2-8 also (presumably) based on size. The module gives eight frogs with HD 1-3, 10 hit points each and 3 attacks of 1-3/1-6/2-8 via "blow/blow/bite."
- A nymph has taken a human lover. This would usually result in permanent blindness, if not death for the human (assuming he's ever seen his lover naked).
- Multiple encounters with groups of monsters requiring special weapons to hit (wererats, perytons), despite this being a low-level adventure and the absence of any magical weapons among the pre-generated characters. The perytons especially (four of them!) is an especially deadly encounter...I'd expect a good portion of a party to be wiped out without significant "fudging" from the DM.
- Nonsensical surprise rules, random death (victims carried off by a yeti must save versus death to escape or "die horribly"), strange magics cast by low level characters (the "gypsy curse").
- A 12th level druid backed by a "Golden Guard" consisting of druids "of Level 5 or higher" not being able to handle a score of goblins (and 5 worgs) living in known ruin a mere 6 miles from their stronghold.
- A 4th level magic-user leading a band of "traveling people" somehow having access to a cleric capable of casting multiple cure serious wounds spells.
- There's only ONE wererat. Even a party of low-level PCs should be able to take such a creature if they have a silver and/or magic weapon between them and an attack spell. If that fails, they can still attempt to grapple the creature and tie it up, or use fire or...I don't know, players tend to be clever, right? But four wererats (HD 3+1, special attacks & defenses, plus some sleep magic ability) is a screw job as written.
- The wererat IS the halfling innkeeper (he is a thief after all). Far from being ignorant of what's going on under his own roof, he uses his shapeshifting ability to aid in minor pilfering of guests. Maybe business isn't quite as good as he lets on, maybe he has debts. Maybe he's been shaken down by the gypsies...er, "traveling folk"...and doesn't want to be cursed any more than he already is. OR perhaps his lycanthropy is due to a curse from Madame Riva (the same gypsy matriarch that cursed the Downs) and he needs extra loot in order to pay-off her band so that they'll remove the curse. That certainly fits with the "fairy tale" themes of the module.
- Far from being a hose job on the PCs, the thief is MEANT to be caught and discovered. Why? Because it makes for more interesting possibilities: the coward can surrender and beg for his life. He can try bribing the PCs with the goods he's stolen. He can explain his plight and ask for aid. He can make a deal with them or give them ownership of a dilapidated inn in the middle of nowhere.
- The treasure should be sensible...not heaps of coins (and certainly not silver! Why O why would lycanthropes want to keep silver around? There shouldn't be any silver in the inn!) but small valuables: bracelets, rings, necklaces, silk scarves or handkerchiefs, a fine pair of shoes...and, sure, maybe a silver dagger or two that the halfling has buried in the garden out back. Yes, there will be some coins - the innkeeper does business in hard currency, after all (and presumably buys his provisions the same way) - but you don't need 350# of coins. That's enough to fill eight backpacks!
|Look - I'm not the only one to try|
rehabbing N2! Though it does seem to
have killed the other guy's blog....
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Playing the Tomb of Bendan Fazier (P.2)
[continued from here; I ended my last post NOT because our session had ended, but because the post was getting loooong. Here I’ll be picking up the end of our first session, last Thursday…]
While Big Jim and Sonia worked to get the tapestry off the wall (since it looked valuable...and is! I forgot to add that to the key but it's worth 400g.p. and weighs about 40#)...
[by the way, do you know how hard it is to find weights on the internet for tapestries? Even shipping weights! And modern day tapestries are generally a lot thinner and lighter than the materials used in past centuries. That was a damn extensive rabbit hole I almost fell into the other day, and the research available was completely unsatisfactory. 40# is a cheap-ass guesstimate of convenience. Bulk is probably closer to 1000 or 2000 coins weight...though, in the end (as the reader will see), this became largely irrelevant...]
*AHEM* While Jumbo and Sonia worked on getting the tapestry down, Barod discovered the necklaces hanging about the statues' necks. Tully was hoisted up (by Tiny) to remove the moon-shaped key from around the second statue, which immediately animated and attacked the dwarf; combat ensued. In the end, the party managed to destroy the caryatid column, but Tiny was slain, having interposed himself between it and Tully. At that point, we ended the session.
|The worms crawl in,|
the worms crawl out...
Monday, March 8, 2021
Playing the Tomb of Bendan Fazier (P.1)
- Barod (played by Diego, age 10); a 1st level cleric.
- Sonia (played by Sofia, two months shy of age 7); a 1st level magic-user.
- Tully (NPC); a 2nd level dwarf thief; has the map to the tomb and recruited this expedition.
- “Tiny” (NPC); a 1st level fighter with 18/07 strength; ot-nay oo-tay ight-bray. Dubbed “Tiny” because he’s smaller than Jumbo. Grunts more than he talks.
- “Jumbo” (NPC); a 1st level fighter with 18/77 strength; AKA “Big Jim.” 6’5”, 250# (300# with scale armor and shield). Smarter than he looks.
- Four mules, unnamed.
|No way, no how.|
Thursday, March 4, 2021
|The chest in the tomb|
isn't nearly so sturdy.
Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Just Another Tomb
|You know how long it took me to figure out|
how to add numbers to this thing?
I am soooo lame!
- The outer door was spiked shut (by Tully) from his last foray. Putrefying bodies of three companions (no treasure, gear hacked to pieces) lie scattered about the chamber.
- 12 skeletons (HPs 4, MM p.87) programmed to kill any who enter the chamber; they will not pursue beyond this room. If turned they retreat to the river and are swept away.
- A bricked up, secondary tunnel has been collapsed at its base by a curious troll (#7).
- The door to this room has been smashed open (by the troll at #7).
- Wet, muddy footprints (identifiable by a ranger) gives evidence of the culprit.
- Some scattered coins (D6 each of copper, silver, and electrum) indicate the place was looted.
- Careful examination of this dark and dingy alcove finds an ancient bronze wheel set into the wall.
- A bend bars roll is needed to move the wheel; multiple characters can combine their percentages for a better chance of turning it. On a roll of 00 (99+ with two individuals working, 98+ with three, etc.) the mechanism breaks.
- Turning the wheel: a loud grinding, stone-on-stone sound echoes in the distance as the mechanism causes the false wall at #5 to lower into the floor.
- Doors to this chamber are stone and difficult to move (normal open doors roll).
- Each column holds a torch sconce with an ancient torch that may be lit.
- The eastern wall depicts a fantastic painting showing the reign of Bendan Fazier over an agricultural people, using his wand to conjure monsters and his staff to smite skulls. He doesn’t appear to have been a nice person.
- Three rods of black metal lay in a heap on the floor; each is about 18’ long and weigh 70#.
- The southern wall is of different stone than the rest of the chamber; it can be lowered with the mechanism at #3.
- The bridge of ancient wood and rusted metal is rickety but only collapses if more than 150# tries to cross at once.
- Slots allowing for the insertion of three rods (from #5) reinforce the bridge so that there is no chance of collapse.
- A rusted iron ladder will disintegrate, dropping any would be climber unceremoniously to the beach below (1d4 damage). The subterranean river is exceptionally cold; its current is sluggish.
- A river scrag (HPs 27, MM2 p.121) makes its lair here; it wears a silver necklace (120gp) as a bracelet.
- There is only a 20% chance the creature is here, but it will return D4 turns after a party starts poking around its possessions. Any time the party encounters the river, there is a 25% chance the troll is fishing (submerged) nearby; it will be drawn to their light and sound (surprising 4 in 6).
- The scrag’s collection of treasure includes five ceramic jars containing 400cp each (each weighs 50#), another containing 250ep (30# weight), an iron strong box (minimal rust) with 500sp, and a dagger +1 used to pick its teeth.
- Massive doors of polished metal greatly reflect light sources, illuminating the chamber.
- A sun-shaped depression over the obvious key hole allows the door to be opened with the sun key (#9).
- Attempts to pick the lock sets off an ancient fire trap (1d4+12 damage, save for half).
- Each of the three statues in this chamber portrays a young woman standing at attention with an elaborate headdress (snake, dog, and owl); around each statues neck hangs a metal symbol attached to a rotting leather thong (sun, moon, and star)…keys to areas #8, #11, and #12, respectively.
- These are caryatid columns (HPs 22, FF p.18); each will animate ONLY if the key is removed from around its neck. Attacks will be focused on the person who holds the necklace.
- The tapestry at the chamber’s end may be illuminated by a torch placed in the empty sconce near it; it depicts the funerary ceremonies of Bendan Fazier, including the tomb’s construction, his mummification, and the sacrifice of slave workers in the subterranean river that flows past this very chamber.
- A globe of continual light (L12) illuminates this magnificent chamber.
- The floor is an incredible mosaic depicting the realm once controlled by Bendan Frazier: a region north of Akima, including the Akima river and its main tributaries. The image is punctuated by hundreds of sparkling precious stones, cut and set within the image (350 gems worth 10gp each; diligent work can pry up five stones per turn of effort).
- The map is oriented with “north” towards the eastern wall; the rivers tributaries are made to appear to be flowing out of the three open pits along that wall.
- This level is reached by dropping down one of the 20’ deep open pits in #10. All the mummification equipment was destroyed long ago, its pieces scattered on the floor amongst the shredded crumbling pages of Bendan Fazier’s tomes and scrolls. Empty torch sconces line the walls.
- The locked metal door in the southwest can be opened with the moon key (#9); it radiates both magic and evil. Anyone inserting the key into the lock must save versus spells to resist the impulse to immediately attack the other party members (attempts to pick the lock have the same effect). The madness leaves the character after one turn.
- Engraved in the door is a three-line verse in an ancient, dead language. Translated it reads: My Tomb Lies Beyond/Those Who Would Desecrate It/My Doom Will Suffer.
- The chamber contains a rotting wooden chest containing 800gp (chest will break if moved), a metal box (with 100pp), and a large stone sarcophagus. The last may only be opened by using the star key (#9); a combined strength of 24 is needed to move the lid which is carved with another three-line verse: My Spirit Has Flown/Yet My Flesh Remains And Will/Rain Vengeance On Thee.
- A mummy lies within the sarcophagus. A scarab of protection fastens his funeral garment; one hand clutches his wand of conjuration (8 charges), the other his staff of striking (4 charges). His death mask is a mix of gold and precious jade with cut emerald eyes (3500gp value). Removing the mask reveals a horrible rotting face with wriggling green worms crawling in and out of its orifices. The remains, now a Son of Kyuss (HPs 19, FF p. 83) animates and attacks; all characters in the chamber must immediately save against magic or flee in terror.
- In the northeast corner, an ancient bronze ladder leads to a trapdoor in the ceiling which may be pushed open to allow access to #10. The trapdoor can only be opened from below.
Monday, March 1, 2021
Quick and Painful
|This image scared my son.|