Friday, August 12, 2022

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

Players: 

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

Players:

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.


Saturday, July 2, 2022

Session 17: Harley's Death and Wirrow's Trail of Tears

 Between session 16 and this one, Wirrow Warren's patron rolled some encounters for his small domain. He came up with a travelling level one fighter whose name I've forgotten, and a twelve headed hydra. Oh boy, it's a big un'! Over the weeks that the players travelled to and from Rivertown, Harley the river dragon they made friends with, was staying at Wirrow's before heading up river to the Old Bastard. Then the twelve headed hydra showed up. It gained surprise on the likeable river dragon, and in one round managed to tear the poor beast apart. It didn't spare the hobbits either as it then claimed the Bloated Badger as it's own. Wirrow and his hobbits fled to Woodshome and since then began selling whiskey out of the back of his wagons. He's also put a 10,000 gold bounty for the death of the hydra.

Finally returning from their trip to Rivertown, the players heard the sad news and began making plans. Laughing Fox, over the week back, managed to recruit a small army of giant catfish, and Boldvay hired a local "scout" to go and see what he could discover about the hydra in it's new domain. He never returned. After a bit, they decided to head back down to Crystal Lake and retrieve the crab mech. On their way there, they came across twelve mummies wondering to the side of the road. After a long battle, including the use of Web, Holy Word, and Holy Weapon, along with their magical weapons, the team managed to decimate the vile dust bags. But some of the party, including Laughing Fox, Dogbreath, and Laurentius contracted Mummy's Rot. That said, the began to follow the mummies' trail and by afternoon found their tomb.

Inside the tomb, they found twelve sarcophagi, an evil altar to the ancient being Yog-Sothoth, and four treasure chests. They managed to unlock three, one containing 6,000 electrum pieces, a second with eight ivory skulls worth a 1,000 gp each, and finally the last, which contained 7,000 gold pieces and a silver scepter with a bloodstone carved into the shape of Yog-Sothoth. They left and put the chests on the wagon and continued to spider lair with the crab mech. Reaching their, they retrieved the mech and began the march back to Woodshome. On their way back, the encountered two giant black widow spiders which were quickly dispatched and later, five black panthers. The panthers didn't attack and seemed curious or in awe with the crab mech that was being piloted by Hellena Keller. The group charmed the beasts and them and the panthers finally reached Woodshome and look for a cure for their Mummy Rot.


Total XP: 

4 Hench: 1,063 XP each 

Players:

(0%) = 4,251 XP 

(5%) = 4,464 XP 

(10%) = 4, 676 XP

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Session 16: Crystal Lake and Stargates

With most of their main characters out of play for a bit, our players return with new PCs. They are: Dark Mark, Tethro Jull, Eric Cromson, along with Hellena Keller, and Laurentius returning. Not too worried about death, they set out to explore the unnamed lake on the southeaster part of the map. I told them that the lake is not named and whatever they come up with will be it's name from now on. They went with Crystal Lake. Because of course they did. Anyway, they take their time exploring, and I roll for an encounter for each hex, plus one for night as they bed down. They made slowly made their way down to the southern shore of the lake, following an ancient road.

Surprisingly, they only had one encounter during this exploration. They came across three giant black widows who were looking for some food. The food being the party. Needless to say, the spiders weren't a match for the party. Tethro and Eric go down to the bottom of the spider lair that they found, and were surprised and webbed by two of the spiders. While being webbed, they see five tunnels, each about five feet wide and ten feet tall. Tethro also hear the spiders laughing. The group up top uses their strength to pull them out of the webs and slowly made their way back up. Though they did manage to kill one PC and nearly killed another, Tethro Jull. He was bitten on his way down the spiders' lair, but charmed one of the spiders to help him. The spider brought him into one of the tunnels and dropped him into a glowing pool. He managed to heal his wounds. The other two spiders were killed by the other players up top. Tethro, being a bard, managed to convince the other spider to go back up top and help its friends. It followed through and was quickly killed.

Once all the spiders were killed, the remaining party went down and began to explore the spider lair. They found some loot, but also, down the hall with the healing pool, they found a manmade chamber. This chamber has two smaller chambers on each side. At the back of the chamber they see a large round disk with a silvery liquid surface. They explore a bit and find an astral map, some ancient books, and what appears to be ancient, small, crab-mech. After searching, Tethro jumps in the portal and disappears. 

The rest of party decides not to follow him in and instead leave out of the chamber and spider lair and come back next session for the mech. Tethro on the other hand found himself on a strange new world. He sees to his north jungles of a zircon color, the south a desert, west mountains, and the east, a ruined cityscape. Hovering above him, a red sun and two moons: one green with lines of fire webbed around it and a smaller red, cracked moon. No stargate though, just a large stone pad. He makes his way to the city. Tethro soon comes across a group of humans, three white and two green. He impresses them, and though he can't understand their language and vice versa, they lead him to a makeshift inn in the city. The rest of party had no other encounters on their way back. 

TOTAL XP:

(0%) = 194 XP

(5%) = 204 XP

(10%) = 214 XP


Friday, June 10, 2022

Session 15: Down the Thundhr River

 Oh yeah! We finally have a river session! And a very eventful trip. So it takes a week by riverboat to get travel down the Thundhr River to get nearest piece of civilization, Rivertown. Glomm the Jeweler lets the party use his main riverboat for the trip. Because we use the 1:1 real time rule from OD&D and AD&D 1E, the players know that if they make the round trip back for this session, that their characters will be out of play for at least three weeks. They have no problem with this. Every day and night, I roll for an encounter. So by the time they get to Rivertown, they have a potential of fourteen encounters. On their trip down their, they only had three.


  1. The first encounter nearly spelled disaster for our group. I rolled on the random tables in the back of the book and came up with a dragon. Turns out it's a Sea Dragon (due to it being on a river). Not sure how to determine it's alignment, I rolled a d6. 1-2 would be Lawful, 3-4 Neutral, 5-6 Chaotic. I rolled a two. Disaster was averted and the dragon, named Harley, quickly let them know that he was friendly and was making his way up the river to find a place to lair (he's a juvenile). Harley even let the party know of a possible river pirate ambush a few miles down. They told him that he should stop by Wirrow Warrens before making his way into the underground mouth of the Thundhr, which is somewhere inside the Old Bastard. He thanked them and went on his way.
  2. The next night they encountered a lone cockatrice. While the foul bird was quickly dispatched, he did turn one of the crew into stone.
  3. The night before sailing into Rivertown, the party encountered Billy, a merchant making his way to Woodshome. His wares? Ivory tusks. The party was uninterested and sailed on by.


Finally at their destination, the party disembarked and made their way the recommended The Green Warthog Tavern & Inn. Their stay at Rivertown was a short one, only two days. While bar hopping, they did hear some juicy rumors including a kidnapped maiden, the local thieves' guild The Orange House, a gang called Billy's Boys, and a group of assassins called Red Fingers. Plus, they even did some gambling with some shady dwarves. They didn't encounter anything worth of note in bustling city and managed to pick up a couple of slaves. Slavery in The Red Frontier, at least in Lawful areas controlled by man, are overseen by the Church. Slaves can be bought, usually criminals, orphans, debtors, etc. but the buyer is put under a contract. After so many years, usually seven, the owner must let the slave go, or be able to join his master's house. Laughing Fox and the party arrive to the slave market dubbed The Helping Hand and bought three slaves. A criminal named Sharpeye, another criminal, this time one from the local military, and an orphan child. With their purchases complete, they head back up to the river. They purchased the services of the one eyed Captain Rowdy and his smaller riverboat (Glomm's boat was more the size of a small galley). Their seven day journey back proved to be more eventful. They had six encounters!

  1. The first night out, they were waylaid by five gnolls in a canoe. With Boldvay using the Horn of Blasting, they managed to kill most of the horrid creatures. The last one was soon finished. Unfortunately, Sharpeye was severely wounded. He was quickly restored in health. They only found 2,400 copper pieces among the gnoll corpses.
  2. The next night, they encountered another party making their way out of a smaller river that emptied into the Thundhr. Some of them were wounded, but were helped by the party. They told them that they had killed twenty lizardmen on their way out of the abandon castle that laid to the west. After the quick discourse, they soon went on their way.
  3. Two nights later, the came across a bank of swans floating in the river. They quickly flew off but not before the players thought that they saw swan maiden turn into a swan and fly off.
  4. A few nights later they came across a group of tiger beetles making their way to the boat. Using the Horn of Blasting once more, plus using old fashioned bows and arrows, the managed to destroy the water bugs. But the beetles took their toll and killed Laughing Fox's newly acquired slave, Sharpeye.
  5. Day 17, the party came across a small group of mermen. They were peaceful and traded with the party. They also gave the party some information about a large force of hill giants and neanderthals that arrived at a large lake in the east.
  6. On the morning right before their arrival at the Bloated Badger, they came across a five headed hydra. This was a long and tense battle, but the party pulled through, and managed to kill the river monster. 

So yeah, a very eventful trip. One that makes me wonder how many have run river crawls before. While there was no ship-to-ship combat (those river pirates never showed up) it was pretty easy to run. And very deadly yet very exciting. Great session and I'm looking forward to running more water based  adventures in the future!


TOTAL XP: 

(0%) = 160 XP

(5%) = 168 XP

(10%) = 176 XP

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Session 14: Short & Easy

 Like the title says, this one's gonna be short. Before the session started, some of the players had in mind in travelling down the river to Rivertown, in hopes of procuring slaves. That didn't happen. As the session started, they decided to head to the Old Bastard, as most of the players never have gotten a chance to venture in those dark and horrid depths. Some minutes later, their minds were changed again. Sort of. Instead of going and plumbing the levels of the megadungeon, they decided to travel the wilderness around the Old Bastard, in hopes of finding forces of the orc and ogre faction that now resided in that hellhole. With the help of five knights from each knightly brotherhood, the players made their way to the northeast corner of the map in hopes of picking off as many of green and ugly bastards that they could. Like Rambo taking out enemies one by one. 

Their first day, and nearly at the perilous ancient keep, they came across a small patrol of three orcs and one ogre. The party managed to get the surprise on them. Keeping some of the knights on horse back to charge if need be, while the rest with short bows, they quickly terminated the horrible vermin. The party then decided to march forth along the trail their vanquished foes used for patrol and soon came up with the idea of  finding either a dugout or a hollow to hide in, and surprise the next band of orcs that would eventually come their way. After awhile, no one showed and the group decided to rest for the night. Nothing troubled them.

The day after, they decided to carry out with the same plan, but this time, move further down southeast on the trail. And they were in luck. Making their way to the party, unawares, were six orcs and seventeen ogres. Despite the large numbers, the party stuck with their plan, except in one way: to let the magic-user Boldvay to try take as many of opposing force out with his Staff of Wizardry. Specifically using the spell Lighting Bolt. And use his staff he did! Boldvay let loose a terrible bolt of lightning upon the unexpecting patrol and managed to roast many alive. Now he was down with six charges left. Not all were electrocuted, and the rest of the party, including the knights, finished the stragglers off. Then they loot the corpses.

And what a haul! Thousands of silver pieces and electrum were found. And some gems too! But most of all was a magical axe. But not any normal magical axe. No siree. In ACKS (as in with D&D), each magical weapon has a chance to be sentient...if you make the roll. And that roll was made! The party soon became acquainted with Neptune's Cleaver, a lawful good and very talkative great axe. He let them know (with a booming voice like that of Brian Blessed) that he was found by a minotaur who quickly lost it to an ogre. Being lawful, he would never made himself helpful to the foul beast, and is thankful for the party for finding him. They asked about the forces inside of the Old Bastard, and the axe told them everything he knew. He believed, with the recent deaths of the two patrols, that Urgag has lost about half of his Ogre force and was down a good bit on the orcs as well. Plus he let them know of his other allies within the dungeon. The players decided to head back to town.

Back there, they quickly found out about Woodshome new resident, Zappos the Legendary! Whose that? The local, possibly magic-user ( or conman) who was more than willing to identify some magic items the group had laying out. He managed to use a magical tome that looked suspiciously like that of the ACKS core rulebook to help identify the items. Weird. Anyway, that's about it. Like I said, it was a short, but eventful session!


TOTAL XP:

(0%) = 622 XP

(5%) = 653 XP

(10%) = 684 XP

Saturday, May 28, 2022

SESSION 13: Friday the 13th Mayhem!!!

The thirteenth official session on a Friday the 13th? Pretty damn cool man! So what happened? The players, along with Wirrow Warrens, decided to go back to the western mine and try to defeat Caln and his brood of vampires. They loaded up on garlic, holy water, silver weapons, and even managed to recruit some of the knights from both the Knights of Saint Jim the Pastor and the Knights of Chickfalar. Ten from each, along with each set being led by a ranking brother. Brother Took, a level 5 cleric for the Knights, and Paladin Michael for the Knights of Chickfalar. Wirrow brought thirty hobbits along for the ride. Over sixty in number once the players and their henchmen were counted. To keep things simple on my end, for each group of knights, and every ten hobbits, I simply counts as 1:10. Meaning I would only roll once for each group. To hit, saving throws, etc. Simple. After arriving, the plan was simple. Set some large mirrors along the main shaft to let the afternoon sun shine through, while keeping some of the party at the entrance to make sure nothing escaped, and to send most of the force down to the second level to draw Caln and his daughters, so they could possibly be killed with the sunlight. And with the large force. It didn't take long before everything went to hell.

They never made it to the second floor. Nearing the steps that led to the level below, the main force came across four wolves. These were easily dispatched, but did bite Brother Took. He was healed soon after. And then party began to hear children laughing and talking in the dark. The party realizes that they will now have to deal with vampire children. The two clerics are unable to turn the hell-children, but manage to make them cringe. Using their overwhelming numbers, the party grapple two of the children down and put a stake in their hearts and remove their heads. Due to the grizzly acts, I roll loyalty checks for the henchmen and the other npcs involved. Two of Laughing Fox's hench runs off. They chase the other two children down the hall, back into the fountain room from their first visit. Inside the see another vampire, this time a woman. She attacks, but it is forced into a cringing state from the holy symbols. Some of the party manages to grapple and dispatch the two children. The female vampire cries out. She's held down by some of the knights but she manages to charm them and get out of their grasp. Laurnetius's level one paladin hench is charmed, and was left behind. Ten of the hobbits are charmed as well.

Coming down the hall, the party's former, fallen companion Longshanks makes an appearance along with twenty skeletons. Most of the skeletons are either turned or are destroyed. But Brother Took is brought to near death from several of the skeleton attacks. While forced to stay put due to the holy symbols, Longshanks and the female vampire taunt the players. The party realizes they're in over their head and make their way back down to the entrance. 

While this going on, the remaining party at the entrance, including Boldvay, Mark Tarvar,  and one of Laurentius's hench, are confronted by a large force of undead and giant bats make their way down the main hall. Boldvay uses his staff of wizardry twice, each time a cone of cold is unleashed. He manages to destroy the evil force. About twenty skeletons, five wights, nine zombies, and three giant bats are destroyed.

As the party heads down, Longshanks summons three bat swarms that attack the party in the hall. Saving throws against Spells (swarms of bats can cause confusion) are made, and while some make it, others do not. Paladin Michael fails, and accidentally kills one of Laurenitus's henchman Weab Weabson. Down at the entrance, Boldvay casts passwall to help make a shortcut for the players and for the remaining sunlight to shine through. Wirrow failed his saving throw against the swarms of bats, but Laughing Fox once more comes to the hobbit's aid and grabs him as the rush down the hall. Many of the knights are left in the hallway. The survivors get back to the entrance and the two pursuing vampires are forced back due to the sunlight.

Out of a party total of sixty-seven, thirty-three made it out alive. And it could've been a lot worse. You see, after the first encounter with the vampire Caln, a wagon train of families that had managed to get off course made their way to the mine. Caln's daughters invited them in. And over the next few days, all forty-six succumbed to vampirism. And Cahn became a patron as well. So yeah, this could've have been really, really bad. I'm genuinely surprised as many made it out alive as it did. Great session!

Total XP:

(0%) = 795 XP

(5%) = 835 XP

(10%) = 875 XP

No treasure.

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

Players:  Laughing Fox (Shaman) with his henchman Dogbreath Laurentius (Cleric) along with two of his henchman Hellena Kellar (Dwarf Mechani...