Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Sermon of the Three Acolytes by Vicar Dharma

Today we celebrate a great victory.  Thanks to the Bill the fighter, Harry the Halfling and many posthumous members of the Blue Oyster Cult, we have destroyed the Dark Squid Cult.  This wicked Squid cult was attempting to do blasphemous things that you are not cleared to know about but trust me, it was bad.

I want to speak about three Acolytes who gave their lives today.  As you know, last night was Bingo night and most of us were busy but Wigel had volunteered to help Bill and Harry with their investigations.  I didn’t know Wigel very well and asking around, it appears that not many people did.  I do know one thing about Wigel, he was a brave one and he was ready for adventure.

Last night at the height of Bingo night, three foul flesh eating abominations did attack the temple.  From what Bill tells me, Wigel thought the monsters were Ogres and yet he still charged them armed with nothing more than a mace, some crappy leather amour and his faith.   

The ghouls killed him instantly.  Wigel died attacking evil and for that, we praise him.  He did not fear the Reaper.  May he receive his ninety-nine groupies at the Four Winds Bar.

Almost before Wigel’s lifeless body hit the ground, another Acolyte, Wandex, came into the Temple foyer.  She was supposed to be working security on Bingo night but she was delayed by the rain.  She saw the foul monsters and aided Bill and Harry in defeating them.

Ah Wandex, she was a good Acolyte.  Her raven black hair and leather bra armor was an inspiration to us all.   

It was at this time that I came upon the Temple and saw the horrors that had been committed.  We consigned Wigel’s poor body to the dead Acolyte dias and I called upon the Blue Oyster to heal their wounds.  I also gave them a powerful scroll that when used, would call upon the Oyster’s aid in combat. 

Armed and healed, the three heroes went off to find the source of the Squid cult.  It was a dark and stormy night.  It was if nature itself was weeping for all the fallen Acolytes.

They found a bound demon at the former residence of a Squid cult member.  Wandex threatened the demon with holy retribution if it did not give up its secrets.  Bill and Harry tell me that Wandex used clever religious arguments as well as the threat of endless Acolyte retribution.  The demon told them all they needed.

So off they went.  Deep into a secret underground temple where ghouls stalked the halls and human thugs did the bidding of dark masters.  Bill and Harry assure me that they slayed hundreds of these foul creatures.

Alas, Wandex fell in battle against thirty foul cultists.  She did not fear the Reaper.  May she receive her ninety-nine groupies at the Four Winds Bar.

When Bill and Harry were down to one cultist, he offered his life in exchange for the freedom of a bound and tortured Acolyte.  Bill and Harry did so and behold!  They discovered the bound and beaten body of Frenckle.  They freed him and they gave him the sacred scroll that I gave them.

Let us take a moment and praise Frenckle.  The poor Acolyte was taken from the streets and brought to this foul temple for some dark forbidden reason.  Let us not dwell on what cephalopods may have sexually abuse him or what dark and foul instruments of torture were applied to his defenseless body.  Just realize that he was tortured and probably horribly mentally scarred for life but what does this Acolyte do?  He takes up his arms and joins the fight.

Now, I have to be a little vague here on what happens next.  There are some mysteries that normal men and even Acolytes are not meant to know.  Just know that there was a big fight over a vast pit of evil.  Floating magical platforms rotated and spun while wicked mages sacrificed people to unnameable gods.   Know that Frenckle used the scroll that I gave them and the Power of the Oyster protected them and allowed them to smite their countless enemies.

Know that Harry the Halfling fired arrow after arrow into dark wizards and lo!  They fell into the pit.

Know that Bill the Fighter used his martial prowess to slay wicked cultists and lo! They fell into the pit.

Know that Frenckle the Acolyte did a lot of shoving of ghouls and lo! They fell into the pit.

Someone was rescued and that someone paid a lot of money to the Temple so that their identity will remain hidden but lo! They were important and they owe a debt of gratitude to the Blue Oyster.

So what lesson can we learn here, believers?  I have told you of three Acolytes and their contributions to the destruction of a dark god.  I have told you a tale of bravery and death.  Obviously there is only one conclusion that can be derived.

Mages suck.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bill the Mauler or How Much Fighters Are Improved in Later Editions

It's hard out there for a defender. Whenever I talk to fighters from other editions about how hard it is to defend mages and clerics they always ask, "what about your combat superiority or attacks of opportunity?" Well, we have none of that in Basic Edition. A monster wants to run by me to get to one of my squishy companions I just have to let it happen. What am I supposed to do?

Well, there might be one thing... There is no firm rule on this, but can I, in Basic Edition, hold an action? Just stand there and wait for the ghoul to try and pass me then hit him? We go through clerics like toilet paper, so maybe sticking to them and waiting for the monster to come is a better strategy than trying to kill them first? Sure, we want to stick to the rules, but is not house-ruling part of D&D?

Lacking the chance to hold an action, strategy might be in order. When there are not official rules for things in old-skool games you do have the opportunity to say what you are doing. Perhaps "I stand by the squishy and taunt the ghoul" or simply "I invite aggro" would work? The voice-in-the-sky has been open to similar actions like this in the past in situations where the rules are unclear, but I have yet to try it in combat.

All I know is that clerics without spells are just fighters without swords, so we need to get one to second level if we plan to survive in this violent world of eldritch horrors!

Just for fun:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

My rough map of The Murky Trough, the seedy dockside tavern that houses the sinister headquarters of an insidious cult. I've only filled in what the players have explored so far (with a few hints of more)

I started crosshatching and then sort of quickly lost interest.

I keep meaning to make more maps, they're a lot of fun.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

So You Wanna Hire a Henchman?

EDIT: Darius laid out the contents of this post as a handy printable pdf.

I like tables.  I also like hiring henchmen.  Basic Dungeons and Dragons has next to no information on how to handle this.  In the D&D tradition, I decided to make some stuff up. 

Note: I use the term guy a lot but feel free to make any henchmen a henchwomen as the mood strikes you.

So you want to hire a henchman?  Well first you have to see how many are looking for work at your tavern.  Roll a D6

1 – Some other party just came through and hired everyone.  Sucks to be you, no one is available.

2-3 – One guy is ready to die at your command.

4-5 – Two guys are free to explore whatever horrors you tend to explore.

6- Economy is rough.  Three guys are looking to risk their lives for a small share of the treasure.

But what kind of person is available to work for such pathetic wages? Roll a D20

1 to 3 – Darwin’s Fodder.  How this guy lived to adulthood in Dungeons and Dragons can only be answered by sages.  He has average stats and 1-4 hit points.  He offers no advice, couldn’t find his way home from the bar you hired him at and tends to look the Medusa right in the eye.  On the up side, he won’t hesitate when given an order that is vaguely suicidal as long as you spin it well.  Subtract 5 from the Wages Table

4-8 – Fighter Washout – This guy didn’t get into the fighter’s guild for failing the physical but he needs the money anyway.  One hit die and no bonuses.  Comes with a sword and a shield. 

9-12 – Ex-Fighter Type – This guy was a bad ass in his prime but after twenty years of mercenary work, he should really retire.  He has a problem with gambling though, and a problem with whores and maybe a problem with drinking.  He needs money, even your money.  This guy has two hit dice, a +1 to hit and do damage and a poor sense of when to quit when you are ahead.   He wears chain mail, has a shield and two hand to hand weapons.  Add +1 to the Wages Table. 

13-14 – Heavy Lifter – This guy comes from the farmlands looking to make his fortune.  Dumb as crap but strong as an ox.  He has one hit dice, +2 to HP and +2 to his to hit and damage bonus.  He has no equipment though and not much of a killer instinct.  He just really expects to carry things.

15 – Outlaw Mage – Holy crap, this henchman knows magic!  He might have stolen his spellbook from a better mage, or maybe he sacrificed his brother to dark powers to learn magic missile.  Whatever his reason, he is now wandering the country side writing dark poetry to forbidden powers and needs the work.  He is a first level mage, with a dagger and a goatee.

16 – Grim Dwarf – This Dwarf committed some sort of terrible crime in his homeland and must now roam the earth looking for something to kill him so he can die an honorable death.  What kind of crime did he commit?  Maybe he killed someone in a drunken brawl.  Maybe he built a mine that caved in.  Whatever happened, he shaved his beard and head in shame and now hires out to adventurers.  He has one hit die, a nasty battle ax and no armor.  He won’t step on a trap to die for your sake but he will charge the Owlbear that just ate your fighter.  Just because he is suicidal doesn’t mean he is skimping on what he charges for his service.  Add +3 to the wages table.

17 – Cool Thief – Look, he wears leather armor, has a short sword and a cloak, so obviously he is a thief.  His gang got arrested recently and he needs a real job until the heat dies down.  He swears he won’t rob you.     

18 – Na├»ve Halfling – Dude should have never left the Shire but hey, he’s curious as a cat and twice as fragile.  He has one hit die, leather armor and a dagger.  He does have about four weeks of rations and wine to spare though.

19 – Smug Elf – This Elf is done with the tree hugging and the sky worshiping.  Maybe his Elf parents didn’t love him enough.  Whatever the reason, he has left the forest and will tag along with you short lived mortals for kicks.  He has one hit die, one spell, leather armor and a sword.  He offers no suggestions because you youngsters need to learn for yourself.  Always smirking. 

20 – Wild Card!  Make the henchmen a doppelganger or maybe some Prince slumming with the locals.  Go nuts.

What Do Meat Shields Go For these Days?  Roll a D10 on the Wages Table

1 or less - 1 Shiny gold piece.

2-3 – 2 gold per day.

4-5 – 3 gold pieces a day.

6-7 – 5 Gold pieces a day and a half share of the treasure. 

8-9 – 8 Gold Pieces a day and half share of the treasure.  

10 or more– 10 gold Piece, a half share and medical expenses. Medical usually means his inn fee while he recovers and NEVER means a resurrection.  

A half share means they take half a share of what a normal part member would take.  Example, if there are 4 members in the party + one henchmen, it gets divided 5 ways and the henchmen gets half of that share for 10%.  The other 10% gets split by the party.  Complicated but hire a mage to figure it out.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

At the Four Winds Bar, The Celestial Plane of the Oyster

Well, this isn’t so bad.  I know they teach us that the afterlife is where we get our final reward as servants of the Blue Oyster, but I wasn’t expecting a bar, you know?  This is pretty nice.  The music is pretty awesome here.  It almost makes up for the shit way that I died.

Where’s my ninety-nine groupies?  What?  I have to tell you how I died first?  Blue Oyster, I just died!  Don’t you think I would rather not talk about it?

Okay, fine.  I’ll have you know that I died fighting the infernal forces of some squid God. 

See, a bunch of my fellow Acolytes had been dying lately and the Vicar told me that I had to investigate it.  So me, Bill the Fighter and some Halfling burglar go looking for these assholes that had been killing acolytes.  We broke into a sewer hideout, stole some important paperwork and came back to the temple.

Now the paperwork was in some foul language that we couldn’t understand.  We went to the Tower of Secrets where the demon humping mages live and we solicited their advice.   That give us a runaround but I am impress them with the power of the Blue Oyster and they gave us a tip.  The writing is in some code that a local potion maker uses. 

I lead our party to the potion shop and tell the counter woman that now would be a good time to confess to her crimes.  She tries to tell us that her boss was out of town which might have worked except our burglar who was casing the place saw the guy upstairs.  I call her out on her crap and she leads us upstairs.

Here is where the sand hits the oyster.  The door opens and there is this evil mage sitting behind a desk.  He’s got the robes, he’s got the cackling laugh and he got the wicked goatee thing that evil folks have.  I figured out it was a trap right away but my party members figured it out when two guys as big as ogres flank us.

Shit got hairy.  I stunned one guard with my mace and the burglar Halfling back stabs him.  That’s one down.  That is when the freaking demon humping mage threw a spell at us.

Bill the fighter hits the ground snoring.  The burglar hits the ground snoring.  Even the freaking henchman of the mage starts snoring.  It’s just me and the mage.

What did I do?  Look, this wasn’t my first adventure.  It was my second.  I knew I had to get the party up and ready to fight.  I gave Bill a savage kick to try to wake him up.

The mage tosses a dagger at me.  It goes right into my throat like a chicken bone.  I’m spitting blood through a second mouth and every thing starts to go dark.   I feel my legs begin to go and I can see my blood spurting out to the ground.

With my dying action, I turn my head so my blood will land on Bill’s face.  Now the fighter wakes up.  He’s up and I’m dead.

My spirit stands by my body and the party keeps fighting but I am not paying attention.  I’m dead.  I felt this incredible lightness.  I could also hear a cowbell ringing with this fast pace beat.  The Reaper was coming and I did not fear the Reaper.

Now someone show me where I go to pick up my ninety-nine groupies.