Sunday, May 20, 2012

Perhaps the Official Theme of Basic D&D?

You take my life, but I'll take yours too.
You fire your musket but I'll run you through.

Metal and D&D go together like Coffee and Donuts, Peas and Carrots, Weed and Cheetos. The Trooper struck me as, to the best of my knowledge, Basic D&D is the only edition with simultaneous action rounds when initiative ties. Maybe AD&D, but I forget.

This video is The Iron Maidens, an Iron Maiden cover band. If you have not heard of them (I only did Friday) they are pretty awesome.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bill the Fighter

My family motto is "the best offense is a good defense" thus when we can afford it, we all wear plate mail. The fact that my cousin folded like a card table is the exception that proves the rule... He shall not be missed. A bit zealous for our tastes.

Now that my sword has tasted blood and I lived to tell the tale, I am certain I will increase my hit points to beyond 3. Someday. Dare I dream to be the first in my clan to reach 2nd level? I think I will take my share of the loot and buy a shield. Whatever is left over goes towards ale and whores.

Despite my disdain toward religion, I think it is odd that the Squid-God people have a tactical map of the recent Acolyte deaths. There is either some clandestine war that the Blue Oyster cultists are unaware of, or there is some odd conspiracy against them. Them killing my cousin makes me want to find out. Sure, I didn't like the guy, but nobody kills my kinsmen, unless it is another kinsman.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Sermon of Yars

So, you want to know about my adventure last night?  Well keep the beer coming and I’ll tell you.  Seriously, buy me another beer.

It all began when the Vicar of the Blue Oyster Cult summoned his bravest Acolytes.  There was me, another acolyte named Fagin and some Halfling named Harry Bigfeet or something.  The Halfling followed some other sea creature God; I think it was a Holy Shrimp.  The Halfling said he was here because of trouble back home.  I figured he ate the wrong apple pie and was most likely a burglar.

Anyway, the Vicar said he had a vision concerning all the dead acolytes we’ve have lately.  The vision said, “The dirty trough breeds misfortune.”  That was it.  I mean, dirty places of water usually breeds a lifetime in the outhouse in my experience so I didn’t think that was a rather enlightening bit of wisdom.

Then the burglar says “Oh I know that place.  That is bar by the river.”  And I was like, it was a literal vision.  Well alright then.

The three of us high-tailed it to the Dirty Trough.  We left in such a hurry that we forgot to wait for Fagin’s cousin, Bill, and we also forgot our lantern.  But hey, it’s a bar so I figured they had their own lighting.

We get there and the place is a total dump.  It looks like it imports drunks and exports dead bodies.  It was a total shit hole.  I wisely whispered to my companions not to let on that we are clerics on a holy mission.

Now, considering how literal the vision had been so far, I decided to be direct.  I went right up that bartender, I looked him in the eye and I said, “Where is your misfortune?”

The bartender asks “Who wants to know?”

Well I am wise to the world.  Thanks for the extra beer by the way.  I reach in my pocket and I pull out a silver piece.  I say, “Mr. Silver is asking.”  That’s another metaphor by the way.

That bartender gets all sneaky.  He says “The river Yem brings great misfortune.”  Some sort of code shit that I got to answer back with.

Now I got this.  I’ve sat through more theology classes than you can imagine.  I can fake this shit with the best of them.  I said with perfect confidence, “But there is great fortune to make on the river of misfortune,” or some shit.  I don’t really remember.

And it works!  The bartender tells us to go in the back and seek the 3rd cask.  This adventurer stuff is fucking easy.

We go to the back and Fagin, my well armored colleague goes in first.  He’s got plate mail on so he is going in first.  We find a chair that is used to strap people down in and beat them.  In my wisdom, I fucked that chair up.  If they want to capture and beat us up, they’ll have to get another chair. 

The cask is some sort of secret door and Fagin, my well armored colleague goes in and gets his fucking ass killed by some monster.

Holy Oyster, right?  I bravely tossed my torch at the monster and the burglar nicked it with an arrow.  I the flickering light of its burning arm hair, I notice it is a zombie. 

Well check this shit out, I’m a cleric.  I take my holy symbol and say “The power of the cowbell compels you to back the fuck off,” or something.  The motherfucking zombie backs off with bits of Fagin’s throat still in his mouth.  Then the burglar chops it up.

Ah good, I needed another beer.  So while I was administering last rites and checking my well armored colleague’s pockets, Bill shows up.  And he brought the lantern!  And best of all, he’s got plate mail armor too! 

We have a quick consultation and we then we start exploring the place.  There was a tunnel where things got complicated with a fucking sewer and some sort of drawbridge.  We needed to swing the Halfling over to the other side and he can lower the drawbridge.  Easy as the night, right? 

So we sling the Halfling and the dumb shit just splashes right in the water.  What the fuck?  Worse burglar ever!  The little barefoot fuck climbs out of the water stinking of shit and squishing everywhere he walks.  He did get the drawbridge down though.

So we keep going.  There are all sorts of weird shit down there.  There are rooms filled with skeletons who don’t move.  There were some doors that Bill had to break down.  There was sort of clever gas trap aimed at killing the most pious and of course I nearly died because no one can question my fucking piety and humility. 

At one point we find some crates and we’re like, oh, this is a smuggler hideout.  But all we find inside are candles and curtains.  Oyster damn, these guys are less smugglers and more like interior decorators. 

Just as I am about to give up on this place being important at all, we get jumped by some weird fuck in a robe.  We heroically wailed on him and he died.  The guy was carrying a weird unholy symbol of an octopus as well as carrying 71 gold pieces.

That is the fucking jackpot.  Most acolytes come home from adventures with fucking nothing to show for it.  Some retard brought back pots and pans.  Can you believe that shit?  So I’m ready to call it a night and celebrate our good fortune.

But no, the crazy dude had an office.  There was this big ass map with X’s on it.  Get this, the X’s were where other acolytes had died!  This asshole must be doing some sort of secret jihad on us. 

Then Bill says “Oh, don’t octopuses eat oysters?” and I am like, holy shit.   We got to get this map back home.

Thanks for the beer.  So I grab the map and I tell the others to grab any other papers they find in that office.  We stuff every scrap of paper we find and we get the hell out of there.

Now, we picked up some robes and were wearing them so we could do some clever bluffing and lying shit.  On our way out, we encounter some robed thugs dragging some poor guy in a hood to where we fucked up that chair.  We could have easily bluffed our way out.

The lead thug says “Misfortune greets …” You know to be honest; I forget what the fuck he said.  Some sort of metaphor riddle again.

I said, “The power of the Blue Oyster will hit you upside the head!”  And threw a sling stone at them.

Now my companions were not ready for a fight but fuck, they did pretty well.  Bill stonecold kills a thug like he was nothing.  I mortally wound one thug with a sling stone and the burglar finished him off with an arrow.

But that 3rd bastard ran and got up the stairs.  He’s yelling for help and we can hear the bar upstairs getting ready for a fight.  The hooded guy is crying and stumbling around and we really should of helped him but we were busy.

I’m shooting sling stones at the running thug and the burglar is filling the air with arrows and Bill is chasing him but that bastard is getting away.  I’m seeing my life flash before my eyes.  I’m going to die with a backpack full of gold and a shit load of paperwork.  No one at the Cult will ever know that I got more treasure than they have ever seen.  Fuck.

So what happened?  Bill noticed there was another way out that led into the street.  The burglar grabbed the hooded guy and dragged him along. I threw one of my flasks of oil behind us to cover our escape.  Nothing disturbs murderous scum like falling on oil that might light up at any moment.  I really wished I had remembered to bring a tinderbox.

So, we got away.  What was in those papers?  Who was the hooded man we rescued?  Who were these octopus worshiping bastards?  Well since the beer seems to have dried up, I guess I’ll save it for next time.   

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Barefoot Perspective: The Murky Tavern

From the notebooks of Harry Barefoot, III, Esq. (of the Bigglesport Barefeet), written in the Hafling native tongue:

The Oyster Cult in Yem is as disorganized as the Scion of the Cerulean Shrimp guy told me. I'm not sure if he's looking for allies or sizing up an enemy, either way I'm not sure he should bother.  Still there's some sort of mystery that seems to have the potential for monetary gain, and after what happened in Bigglesport, I can't afford to be choosy.

I accompany these two clerics, Yars and Fagan to a bar of my acquaintance, called the Murky Trough.  I say it's of my acquaintance, but what I mean is that I was well aware of the notion that one doesn't go there.  And survive, anyway.  So of course, we went right on in.  Yars bluffed the barkeep while I hid in one of the copious shadows in the place.  I'm convinced the lighting was set up to increase the gloom, a feature I approve of.

We venture down into the cellar of the place, and after a bit of thunking about, I discovered a fake barrel, which opened into a passageway.  Fagan devoutly went first, and was surprised (and quickly killed) by a zombie. Who keeps zombies in the cellar? Isn't that what crypts are for?  My arrows were nearly useless, but Yars seemed to get his wits about him, and  scared the thing off with the holy power of the Blue Oyster.  After that, a bit of sword work and the thing was done.

Thankfully there was another person with us, who showed then, a doughty fighter named Bill. A good name  -- we called my uncle that, short for Bilious. We went further down, and found a sewer.  A bit of rope and some masterful climbing and I was able to lower a drawbridge.

There was a door there that was locked, and for some reason they thought I could open it.  That I was a burglar with skills such as that.!  The Bigglesport Barefeet are not common burglars!  I'll have you know we're in investment banking and not common at all.

I acquired a silk robe from a skeleton who wasn't going to need it anymore, and things would have been fine if Yars had the sense to hold his breath.  Bill seems smarter.  He and I aren't in the cult -- I wonder if he is also a scout for the SCS? These Blue Oyster guys don't seem to be too together, at least unless zombies are involved.  I'll need to consider this.

We found a larger room with more locked doors.  We tried an alternative way, and made short work of one of the denizens, acquiring a hefty sum of gold and another silk cloak, and a symbol to their unholy squid deity. We also found a map of their evildoings.  I made a quick drawing of it, and we made a quick retreat.

We were almost out of there when Yars blew our cover. I think he we could have snuck out, but then I do have to admit we'd have left some poor sod to the tender mercies of the thugs we dispatched.  Things almost got out of hand, but Bill was there with his sword, and Yars with his oil (which I set afire, hehe, Dad what do you think of me, now?)

We got out of there just in time, a bit richer.  Maybe this isn't such a bad idea afterall.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Yars the Acolyte

I have rolled another Acolyte of the Blue Oyster!  Let the fickle dice gods pass judgement!

Strength - 7

Holy shit snacks.  That is a minus one to hit and damage.  Considering that my last cleric, Ganzig, never hit a single thing in combat, this does not bode well.

Intelligence - 8

Yowza.  At least the dumb ass has no idea how screwed he is.

Wisdom - 16

Okay, maybe he has some clue.  Also, this is the wisest character I have played yet in this campaign.  He probably has a deep philosophical understanding of how screwed he is. 

Dexterity - 15

Praise the Blue Oyster!  He is nimble!  Sadly, the only missle weapon clerics can have are slings and rocks.  He will be inflicting D4 damage with deadly accuracy!

Constitution - 11

Average.  Snooze.

Charisma -12

High average but still snooze.

Hit Points - 3

Oh boy.  A good dagger hit can take him out.

For Gold Pieces I rolled a crapload.  I don't remember the exact number but I bought chainmail and a shield.  I have a mace, a sling with 30 stones, a holy symbol and 5 flasks of oil to go in my backpack.  I even have 3 gold pieces left over. 

I have decided that Yars here is weak and knows it.  Oh he knows it very well.  He is kind of an emo cleric with not so much a death wish as much as it is a death certainty.

May the Blue Oyster watch over him.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Murder in a Dark Alley

You know, one of the key requirements to keeping a character journal is actually surviving an adventure in order to tell others about it.

Ganzig and his loyal drinking buddy/adventurer partner were slain on a heroic delivery quest.  They were tasked with bringing a scroll to an important merchant guildmaster and well, an ambush, followed by a running escape followed by an ambush started by player characters later ended in both heroes dying.

Basic D&D is worse than a masked killer at a lake full of horny college kids.  Zero hit points equal death.  No saving throw versus trauma, no negative hit points and no fucking chance once you hit zero hit points.  I have regained that awe I had as a teenager for second level characters.  Shit, imagine how bad ass a third level character is!

We continue however to learn more about the Cult of the Blue Oyster.  I have determined that all Acolytes are sent out every morning and told to go adventure for glory and more importantly, treasure.  I am not sure why the Blue Oyster needs their Acolytes to get treasure but maybe it is just their way of making men out of these students.  Hell, maybe it is just to keep the Cult from filling up with useless people.  The Blue Oyster culls their own herd.

The Riders of Lohan ride on!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Running an Adventure

From D&D Doodle
I love a good Dungeoncrawl.

Basic/Expert is wonderful for getting down to D&D at its most essential. Take five to fifteen minutes whipping up a character, grab a dangled plothook, and step into someplace dangerous full of Things Unknown.

After the sad but probably inevitable passing of Urist Diggerbollox, Darius is handing off the reigns of running the game over to me for a session or two, officially putting the Riders of Lohan into my cruel and whimsical hands. This style of "Round Robin" DMing isn't for everybody but if you're not terribly concerned with architecting some sort of overall plot it's a really dramatically creative to play around with the emergent narrative of a D&D campaign. I've put together a fun little adventure/exploreathon that doesn't really riff in any way with Darius's Catacombs of Garesh but I'm hopeful that the players will throw out some connective elements as it takes place in the same city of Yem.

At this point a dungeon by D&D definition is actually quite usefully vague. To get a little old-schoolist there's this kind of playstyle where instead of having a big story idea with a series of connected encounters you plop characters at the beginning of, you construct a place that is just this clusterfuck of bad guys doing stuff, things that you can screw with (that might screw you), and a bunch of dangling questions, and put the players in front of THAT and just sorta go, "okay, go nuts." You don't know if the players are going to figure everything out right away or get totally stonewalled by something you thought would be obvious or actually turn their own interpretation of what's going on into something hilarious and ingenius and far far better than what you've got in your notes. I love that.

The dungeon I've worked up is SORT of a dungeon, but it's basically just a mess of stuff that's "going on". We'll see how it works out, I can't wait!

Ganzig the Acoylte

After the heroic death of Pik, I decided to tempt fate once again and play another cleric of the Blue Oyster.


Strength - 10
Intelligence - 10
Wisdom - 13
Dexterity - 9
Constitution - 10
Charisma - 8
Hit Points - 5

Wow, could he be any more average?  He's a smidge wiser than Pik and praise the Blue Oyster, he is a hell of a lot smarter.  The charisma of 8 is a problem and I imagine that he is a bit bug-eyed like a proper fanatic should be.

I roll 80 gold pieces again which gives me Chain Mail armor, a backpack and a holy symbol.  For my blunt weapon this time I am going with a warhammer. 

At least this guy will be able to keep a journal.

The Catacombs of Garesh

This is the map of explored areas in The Catacombs of Garesh, our first Basic Adventure. There are still a few areas to explore, so I may rework it a bit for a later adventure. I wanted to publish this so that you could get a better idea of what things looked like, as my descriptive powers may be lacking.

Pik and Urist were slain in the Chieftain's room. Oddly, they butchered the chieftain in no time, but fell prey to his cohorts.

There are so far three untried doors, and as a hint I will say there are a few unsearched for secret doors and one hidden magic item passed up by the party.

Ensuring the Death of my Elf!

Nothing says your un-played character will die quite like developing him. Not only have I been thinking about Kimber Thistlethumb's personality, but I also drew a (poor) picture.

For some reason I have decided Kimber will have a lisp. "Theriothly guyths, we need to check for thecret doorths!" I figure with a 9 charisma, he is woefully unpleasant compared to the Zoolander group of Pik and Urist. Plus his name sounds like it should have a lisp.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Kimber Thistlethumb

Kimber Thistlethumb, Elf Level 1 (Veteran-Medium)
Player: Darius
Alignment: Neutral

S: 17 (+2)
I: 14 (+1 language)
W: 9
D: 9
C: 15 (+1)
Ch: 9

Hit Points: 6

Languages: common, elvish, neutral, orcish, hobgoblin, gnollish, medusa

Starting Gold: 90

Armor: chainmail (AC5)
Weapons: short sword (1d6 +1), short bow (1d6), 20 arrows & quiver
Sundries: wineskin, wine (1qt)
Spellbook: detect magic

Remaining Gold: 11

Kimber was kicked out of his village for not being attractive enough to fit in, and for having a gnome's name. He wound up in Yem after accidentally boarding a ship full of medusa-ese linguists. While he learned the language from them, they bored him stiff.

Death in the Bowels of Yem

I hate to call it a TPK, as there were only two characters, but the whole party died last night. It was quite the bittersweet night, as Pik and Urist breezed through the dungeon, learning the main secret and slaying the kobold masters with ease. Alas, the last holdouts took their valiant lives in the end... They were so close to the much desired treasure too.

Of course, this is one of the great things about Basic/Expert D&D as well. Life is a fragile thing and it is not for the faint of heart to delve into catacombs rife with untold dangers. In newer editions, particularly 4e, it is nearly impossible to kill a character. A DM must me rather sadistic to do so, say by having monsters continually attack the unconscious body. As long as you are above you negative bloodied value (half your total hit points) you can be brought back with a cure light wounds, starting at zero hit points. I forget how AD&D and 3e go, but I assume it is fairly similar.

The problem there is two-fold. One, characters in newer editions are able to risk danger more easily. Two, any schlep of a character can reach 20th level. Frankly, I had forgotten how bad-ass you have to be (not to mention lucky) to reach 2nd level.

I hate to see them go, but Boot Hill welcomes you. Pik and Urist shall be missed.