Sunday, August 28, 2022

Frontier Bulletin 20: A Trip to the Haunted Castel Part One

Laurentius (Cleric), plus his Henchman

Boldvay (Magic-User), his 3 Henchmen, and Slave

Mark (Thief), 2 War Dogs

So with only two players this session (one playing both Boldvay and Mark), and with not much else to do, our team decides to follow up the lead for the search of the Black Eidolon Manual. They sought the aid of Zappos to teleport them to the Castle Xyntillan, which is located on a hill in a swamp northwest of Rivertown. He happily obliged and and charges them the friend price of 350 gold for the whole group. They knew to expect a gang of snakemen, but didn't know what else might be waiting for them in the long deserted castle. Oh, and for this session and the next, I'll be putting Melan's excellent fun house module Castle Xyntillan to use. Also, check out his blog here.

"Wait!", I hear some of you shout. "The BROSR is against the use of modules!" This is mostly true. Most modules or "adventures" are nothing more than premade stories that are the antithesis of what D&D is about. Older modules, and some newer ones are simply that: modular. They're like legos, just something you can plug into your game with no fuss, no muss. Unfortunately, most DMs use models as a crutch, instead of not making their own adventures, dungeons, etc. Also, a lot of modules aren't playtested or are just crap. Castle Xyntillan on the other hand was playtested for two or three years, is totally modular and even comes with a local town the players can visit if you want to use that. It's also a "funhouse" type of dungeon, which is something I normally wouldn't care for, but this one caught my eye. I usually find them to be too silly, but I noticed that Xyntillan seemed to lean more into the Hammer gothic horror, which was a big seller for me. Plus, I bought this before I got into the BROSR and I figured, why not put it to use in my game?

So back to the session. Zappos teleports them into some bushes in front of the castle and the party begins their search. They begin by scouting around the mote of the decrepit keep, and finally take the main road into the structure. The adventurers find themselves in the courtyard and eventually head into the northern of the two ruined gate towers. Inside, they open the door that leads into a hallway. Making their way north, they find another door and before trying to open it, they put their ears to it and listen. On the other side they can hear two snakemen "talking" to one another. They head back a bit, grab a rock from the rubble, have Boldvay cast Silence on it, and hold on to it as they open the door (it was unlocked). They surprise the two snakemen, and quickly take them down. This room was another tower, the so-called Garden Tower. They quickly find another door on the right that lead back into a semi-secluded part of the courtyard. Walking around, they find rose vines growing along the path. It became obvious that flowers were trying to attach themselves to player in order to slow them down. (I read this wrong. In the book, it's the hands of rotting corpses that the rose plants feed off of that try to trip up players. Still though, it worked out.) Realizing what was happening, they set fire to the roses and the plants shrunk back to the wall. The party soon made their way to opposite door. Before trying the door, they looked through the window beside it and saw the inside of a hallway and not much else.

They door was neither locked nor trapped and the adventurers made their way safely into the hall. They soon heard sounds of heavy galloping on the other side of the wall to their north and east, and decided to go through the door in the middle right of the hall. The party make they're through a room with rotting banners, another with a violent whirlwind, and finally, a room just north of the one with the whirlwind. Inside they could hear a woman singing as she was putting up bloody linens to dry. Turning around, it was revealed that she was werewolf! Instead of the attacking her the party decided to parley with her. She responded in kind. They asked her about the snakemen and where they might be located within the giant keep. This seemed to aggravate her and she quickly let them know that the serpentmen were intruders here and have been causing problems. The wolf-lady told them that the snakemen were located in the very northwestern tower. She soon gave them directions to get there, to be careful of one of the undead members of the house and his monstrous menagerie in the north, and that she would also tell the two dream horses (the cause of the loud galloping) to settle down so that the group could get through.

They gave her their thanks as she led them back to the hallway with the dream horses. She yelled to the fantastic mares to stop and told the players that should hurry to get to the other side before the horses started again. Our adventures quickly made their way through the hall and noticed bloodied and torn corpses of snakemen and the two "horses": one a violent storm cloud, the other a burst of light. They made their way to the left door. Not long after, they caught six more snakemen unawares, and with surprise, three backstabs from the thief, and other attacks, quickly killed all but one of the vile serpentmen. not knowing the full numbers of the snakeman and thinking they might not be able to avoid the undead hunter, they decided to head back and leave the castle grounds. They managed to snake their way back through the various halls and chambers, and soon found the teleporter that lead back to Pottsfort. After returning, they told Zappos what they found, and left the snakeman there to be interrogated by the wily wizard.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Frontier Bulletin 19: The Devouring of the Twelve-Headed Hydra


Laughing Fox (Shaman) with his henchman Dogbreath

Laurentius (Cleric) along with two of his henchman

Hellena Kellar (Dwarf Mechanist)

It's been a month since the twelve-headed hydra laid waist to the Bloated Badger and forced Wirrow and his fellow hobbits off his land. Since then, Laughing Fox has put a plan together. Over the month, he's gathered a small army of giant catfish that he's kept in a small, manmade pond. He managed to gather 27 giant catfish. Laughing Fox's plan was when they confronted the hydra, he would release the giant catfish,, and hope they will get a surprise on the fowl beast and do enough damage that it would make the rest of the battle easier. The party also had planned to have Boldvay cast Paralysis from his Staff of Wizardry. Unfortunately Boldvay's player didn't make it for the session. The players were a bit nervous and thought about abandoning the plan to do something else. But their bravery prevailed and decided to help their friend Wirrow in his plight.

Before setting out, Laughing Fox asked his ancestors when the best time to attack the hydra, if it was hydra mating season, and where the hydra was nesting. There answers were: best to attack during the day, it wasn't mating season, and that it was nesting on land. With that said, the hired a boat (the very same that brought them back from Rivertown), put Hellena Kellar in the crab-mech they found, bought a lot of chum to lead the giant catfish, and finally set out. Their plan was to draw the hydra out, using themselves as bait, with Hellena Kellar waiting in the crab mech underwater to attack, and with the giant catfish waiting on the side to surprise the hydra. 

Arriving at the desolated river tavern, the party saw the wreckage the hydra wrought. They smelled something rotting and soon discovered pieces of Harley the river dragon stuck among the decimated settlement and along the bank. Various carrion birds were feasting on the remains, and floating debris of the Bloated Badger had made their home in the river itself. Cleaver, the sentient great axe the party found awhile back, swore an oath of vengeance upon the hydra. Laughing Fox and Laurentius both cast blessed on the party to even the odds, then the  players began to shout and draw the attention of the hydra. The twelve headed hydra swam out to meet the players in their boat. Before this, I decided on how to roll for the catfish army. Normally, due to it's size I would just divide the group in to two or three smaller groups and roll whatever dice for each group to keep things simple and fast. This time I gave the players an option: I could stick to that or roll for each single giant catfish. The group decided on the latter. Well, before that, the fish managed to surprise the hydra as it was making it's way to the players. With that, I then rolled 27 d20 to hit. 19 of the giant catfish succeeded.

They swarmed the unsuspecting hydra and with decent damage rolled for each hit (giant catfish have four bites that do 2d8 damage) the hydra went down. The players and the ship's crew looked aghast as the hydra struggled and was overwhelmed by the biting giant fish, and sank in a frothy maelstrom of blood and gore. Some of the crew even wretched at the site. I ruled that once their feeding was done, Laughing Fox would lose control of the fish and they would swim back into the river. With large sea-beast vanquished, the party went ashore to look through it's nest that it maid in the remains of the tavern. They found a mermaid statue maid of pure gold clasping a black pearl worth 5000 gp. The party also found four brilliant gems, four pieces of jewelry, and magical scale armor made of greenish-gold clams, and 10,000 gp. Finally, the greatest of the treasure was found: a pair of Gauntlets of Ogre Power. The party also brought back two of the hydra's heads.

They soon left and arrived back to Woodshome where the hobbits were hosting games for adventurers and warriors to kill the hydra. Wirrow, surprised at what the party accomplished, congratulated them and offered them half of the 10,000 gp to the ongoing games. After that, the players had some magic items identified, including some found from previous sessions. 

A couple of things. First, from here on out, the session reports will be called Frontier Bulletins. I wanted something more exciting than "session report" and had my players brainstorm for a better title. Second, the giant catfish army. Pretty powerful, right? Well, I allowed it for a couple of reasons. One, it was well thought out by Laughing Fox's player, and seemed reasonable. Plus it took over a month to gather said army. Second, with the use of animal control with his ring, keeping them fed, and separated from the rest of the river, seemed reasonable to me. I dig this out-of-the-box thinking that players can bring to the table and that D&D (or in this case ACKS) supports. It's an example of player skill vs character skill. And yes, it's on the meta side as the players all have access to the Core Rulebook and know all the monster stats. I don't have problem with this as I'd rather player with players who don't dumb themselves down. I'm running a game with actual, breathing, thinking human beings. Why should they have to play stupid? Playing stupid = poor player skill. Honestly, as long they don't look at my maps and non-existent notes, I really don't care. I think that the Alt-Right DM (may peace be upon him) says it best in these two posts

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Session 18: Meatball & The Hypnoblade


Laughing Fox - Shaman

Quirkus - Elven Spellsword 

With Mummy Rot contracted, Laurentius, Laughing Fox, and his henchman Dogbreath seek help curing their ailment. First they think of Brother Took, who and his knights reside in the keep that the party found the werewolves all the way back in session five. They also believe they could explore more of the ancient city around Crystal Lake once they're cured. Before setting out, they think that maybe the curious wizard Zappos could possibly cure them of their annoying curse. They go to him and seek his aid. Not expecting this, I decide to bust out the Tome of Adventure Design and see what I can randomly come up with. A few rolls later, I've got what I need! 

Zappos informs them that he does indeed have enough Remove Curse potions available to help them, but under the condition that they travel to Rivertown and bring back The Hypnoblade that he's loaned out to a mob boss named Meatball. Meatball has made his headquarters in an abandoned warehouse he's named the Pasta Bowl. He tells them to save time, he will let them use his magic mirror that will teleport them there and back again once they are finished. Zappos also informs them the last time he had dealings with Meatball, the man only had about three thugs working for him. Laughing Fox then contacts his ancestors and asks if they know anything about Meatball, what time would be best to obtain the magical dagger, and how many men Meatball has working for him. They respond with yes, that the party should go at night, and that he does have more than three thugs. With that, they head through the mirror to Rivertown.

Laurentius's player leaves his cleric behind with Zappos and takes his elf Quercus. They also bring with them five charmed black panthers, now dubbed the Jackson 5. They emerge from the portal at the front of the warehouse at night. They split into two groups, with Laughing Fox and his group exploring the east side of the building while Quercus takes the left. Before splitting up, they see a bloodied and wounded man emerge from the west side of the building mumbling about serpent men of the black scales. He soon expires. Laughing Fox takes the east side of the building, while Quirkus takes the west side. They make their way around to the back of the building and Quirkus with his elven abilities, soon finds a secret door. Before entering though, emerging from behind Laughing Fox, a group of Craymen try to attack the reunited party. While the craymen numbered seven, the our two heroes, along with their henchmen, made short work of the walking crustations. The party finds on the craymen four craygod idols made of electrum and thirty silver arrowheads, worth 100 silver each. They soon unlock and enter the secret door.

After they make their way in, the soon find dead bodies of Meatball's men and craymen. Looking around a bit more, they soon find a trap door that leads to a basement level. Inside they find a dead crayman killed by a trap and catch two serpent men and three craymen unawares as the look over the body of a very fat man. Before surprising the scaled folk and their henchmen, the party hears one of the serpent hiss out that "Master Skale wants the Black Eidolon found." The party gets the jump on their foes, and soon emerge victorious, with both snakemen and their (water)bugmen joining the dead. Looking over the dead human that the serpent men were examining, Laughing Fox realizes he matches the description given to them of Meatball. They find three black keys on his body.

Further exploration in the underground level soon reveals Meatball's office, along with three chests made of black oak and black iron. They use the keys they found and are successful in opening all three chests. What they find is an assortment of treasures: folders of blackmail, various gems of high quality, ten gold bars, the Hypno-blade, and what appears to be a footlong, primitively cut, statue of a man. They believe this to be the "Black Eidolon" the snakemen were looking for. Knowing that there's a bounty for the heads of the vile snakemen race, the two adventures take the heads of their downed foes and retreat back to where the were teleported to by Zappos's mirror. They arrive back in Zappos's store and tell them what happened. They turn over the blade and let the eccentric wizard look at the Black Eidolon. He believes this to be an ancient magical weapon that could cause catastrophic destruction but needs to find more information about the relic. Before leaving, Zappos cures our heroes and they soon turn in the serpent men heads to the lord commander for their bounty in which they recieve 1,000 gp for each head.

Happenings and Going Ons in the Red Frontier Part 2

These events took place during August thru October of 2022 While the Urgak and Wier were preparing to fight against the forces of Law, the p...