Friday, January 13, 2017

Pangloss Campaign Update ["So Many Archmages!"]

Back in October, half my game group went off to work at the local haunted house. After that was over, my job slid right into peak season. As such, our D&D 5th Edition game has been on hold for a few months. Thankfully, we're jumping back into it this weekend. 

It's been a few months, though, so I put together a dossier for my players, reminding them of what they've recently done, where they've been, and where they're currently at. 

It occurred to me that this dossier might serve as a fun kinda'-sorta' actual play/campaign report, so Imma gonna share it with y'all.

The Wotan Clan (ain't nothing to fuck with)
Bramble - Green Gnome Arcane Trickster (Ivy)
Kokiri - Wood Elf Assassin (Erik)
Balthazar - Half-Wyrd Elf Warlock (Ziggy)
Jargon - Dragonborn Battlemastermind (Batlhazar's NPC henchman)
Skeld - Hill Dwarf Cleric of Wotan (Reamer)
Alyyx - Gray Gnome Necromancer (Pockets)
Bock - Mountain Dwarf Champion (James)

And so it goes…

Eon the Unfathomable
The Wotan Clan came to the seaside town of Vandala and met with the archmage Eon the Unfathomable, Interlocutor of Balance with the Pentarchy. Eon commissioned the heroes to travel to the Well of Discord and retrieve the Eye of Aboath. The Eye is an artifact of alien evil which Eon desires for secure study. He warned the heroes “Gaze not into the depths of the Eye.” For this service, he promised the Wotan Clan 3000 gp, an introduction to the Seclusium, plus a variety of items from his collection of enchanted objects.  The heroes, of course, accepted.

Lady Delphinia Starflower
Before leaving Vandala, however, the Wotan Clan defeated a group of Mind Flayers responsible for kidnapping children and sending them through a gate to the alien city of Illithos. The heroes were rewarded by Lady Delphinia 
Starflower with a banquet in their honor. Toward the end of the festivities, a group of emissaries from Archavoi arrived. These minions of the Ashen Queen were known as the Brotherhood of Cinders. They have some business with the Lady of Vandala and have set up a large camp outside of the town walls. Their unknown purposes are suspected to be sinister and caused great distress to the local representatives of the Bastion. But that was a problem for another day, as far as the Wotan Clan was concerned.

The Clan made preparations before they left for the Well of Discord. First they researched the dungeon at the Library of Kelious Beagle. The heroes uncovered many useful facts about the Well of Discord. When Beagle found out where the party was headed, the grump scholar contracted them to find a book supposedly hidden within the dungeon—A Treatise of Plants of a Peculiar Aspect. The party also hired the unpleasant ranger, Mugrum Stump, to act as their guide through the Thistlethorn Forest. 

Yarko the Great!
Finally, the Wotan Clan left Vandala and headed north into the hilly wilderness and the Thistlethorn Forest. It wasn’t long before the heroes encountered Yarko the Great, archmage and Prefect of Good in the Pentarchy, who flew down on his giant white owl. Over coffee, Yarko asked the heroes to bring him the Eye of Aboath, which he intends to destroy for the safety of Pangloss, and indeed, all of Wyrld. For this service Yarko promised to pay the Clan 3000 gp, introduce them to the Seclusium, and present the heroes with a variety of magical items.  The heroes’ answer was noncommittal.
One night, while Balthazar was on watch while the rest of the Clan slept, the warlock was approached by emissaries of his Fiendish patron. This messenger manifested as a girl-voice goat accompanied by a robed figure holding a lantern. Balthazar was charged with retrieving the golden skull of Hekufarhim the Crepuscular.

Continuing on, the heroes later come upon a 100-foot-tall stone pillar, on top of which sits a weathered old man in a loin cloth. Thistle uses her Spider Cloak to climb up and talk to him. The man was a monk, who had been meditating for a year and had achieved “Total Cosmic Awareness” and offered to answer one question for them before he went back into meditation. The Clan asked for the whereabouts of Apostate, the Mind Flayer behind the kidnapping ploy in Vandala who escaped their justice. The heroes were surprised to hear that Apostate was currently on Klaive, the third planet from the sun (Wyrld is second).

The Crawling Manse
Eventually, the Wotan Clan entered Thistlethorn Forest, where they encountered a giant snail carrying a small keep on the back of its shell. This was the mobile manse of Maveth Blackbraid, dwarfish archmage and Magnathaum of Evil in the Pentarchy. Surprising no one, she too wanted the heroes to retrieve the Eye of Aboath.  For this service, she would pay the Clan 5000 gp, introduce them to the Seclusium, and give them a variety of magic items from her collection. She openly admitted that she intended to use the Eye to increase her own personal power and rule Pangloss. She also admitted to sending other parties ahead of the Wotan Clan. The heroes were impressed and thanked her for her honesty.

A few days later the Wotan Clan arrived at the Trollmaw Mountains, deep within the Thistlethorn Forest. They encountered a patrol of gnolls and tracked them back to their village. Unprepared at the moment to take on 100-plus gnolls, the PCs vowed to return later and moved on to the Well of Discord.

The Well of Discord was built into the side of a mountain, its massive, fallen doors flanked by two towers. An open an inhabited dungeon, the sounds and smells of danger echoed from its depths. The Wotan Clan left Mugrum with Balthazar’s footman to guard the wagon, and the Wotan Clan entered the Well of Discord.

Known facts about the Well of Discord

The Well of Discord
Built 900 years ago by the human wizard Gorlach the Foul Hand.

Open and closed many times over the centuries.

The dungeon has been expanded, reoccupied, and modified by various inhabitants.

Final resting place of Druuj the Slayer.

Reopened most recently 5 years ago by an adventuring party called the Brass Helm.

Gorlach was an art lover and included many galleries in his sanctum.

Alien cultists made the dungeon their home many decades ago.

Previous adventuring parties have entered the dungeon and never returned:
·         Guardians of Fate
·         Red Sabbath
·         Sons of K’Narth
·         Seven Sisters

Magic is unreliable the deeper you go into the dungeon.

A small village of woodsmen lies just a day southwest of the dungeon.

Warlord Gilliard Greywulf entombed his 333 elite guards within the crypts 400 years ago.

150 years ago, Idoryl the Gold (cleric of Brahma) descended into the dungeon to cleanse it of evil.

There is at least one portal to another world somewhere in the dungeon.

600 years ago, refugees from Sahu, the Isle of the Necromancer Kings, made the dungeon their home.

The dungeon once held a great library.

Things that happened in the dungeon…

The Well of Discord was a powerful Wild Magic Zone. Spells and cantrips have become distressingly unpredictable.

Something weird happened, where new party members appeared without warning. The party had years of memories regarding these new individuals.  Then they disappeared, along with any memories regarding them. Anything they did with the party, however, inexplicably remained (healing, monsters killed, the alien coin that Jimmy Starsoul gave Balthazar, etc.).
“New” party members included:
o   Mohaan Lionstalker of the Tallgrass tribe
o   Jimmy Starsoul, the space wizard
o   Slipperfoot, the giant weasel that talks like a man (R.I.P.)
o   Smokestack Joe McGillicutty, the hobomancer
o   Princess Marigold
o   Quvak, the humanoid platypus

The Black Tongue gnoll tribe took up residence in the first level of the dungeon, performing violent rites to Demogorgon.

The Wotan Clan rescued Tom Barley, Halfling cleric of The Lawgiver, from fiery sacrifice. Tom came to the dungeon with his adventuring party, Fortune’s Fellows. They wanted to find the Oracle that resides within the Well of Discord and find out what’s causing mass spontaneous miscarriages in their town. He joined the Wotan Clan in order to find his missing companions.

In the towers the Clan found a magical “hard light” seal bearing the symbol of Brahma, holding a door closed. The heroes used magic to suppress the seal and enter. Beyond the seal, they found an ancient torture chamber that was home to a powerful Kyton and her minions.

On the second level, the Wotan Clan found distressing statues of the archfey known as the Gustatory Colossus and the Despicable Infant. They also encountered mimics, an alien fruit bush, and the corpse of a Yellow Warlock of K’Narth.

A magical art gallery caused numerous problems for the Clan. A chimera leaped out from a magic eye painting, while a painting of gnolls playing three-dragon ante transformed Skeld into one of those foul creatures.

The Wotan Clan discovered an underground garden guarded by gargoyles. The garden held a variety of magical plants that grew under the light a piece of star.

At last, the Wotan Clan settled down to camp in a safe room, specially warded against a variety of monsters. They currently share the space with a trio of disgusting Sludge Dwarves who warned the part to stay off Level Five… unless they want to kill the dragon. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

David Pumpkins [D&D 5th Edition]

David Pumpkins is a capricious fey troublemaker, a servant of the Harvest King dedicated to bringing a bit of spooky levity to the mortal world. Typically, he and his skeletal minions choose group of mortal adventurers to follow around, appearing and disappearing at their whim to sow mischief and discord.

David S. Pumpkins
Medium Fey, Chaotic Neutral
“Any questions?”

AC: 17 (natural armor)
HP: 65 (10d8+20)
Speed: 30’

STR: 12 (+1), DEX: 14 (+2), CON: 14 (+2), INT: 10 (-), WIS: 14 (+2), CHA: 16 (+3)

Saves: Charisma +5
Skills: Insight +4, Performance +5
Damage Resistances: Bludgeoning, Slashing, Piercing from non-magical weapons
Condition Immunities: Charm, Frightened
Senses: Darkvision 120 ft., Passive Perception: 12
Languages: Common, Sylvan
Challenge: 2 (450xp)

Innate Spellcasting: David Pumpkins’ innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC: 13). He can cast the following spells, requiring no material components.

At Will: Invisibility, Prestidigitation
3/day: Hold Monster, Teleport

Magic Resistance. David Pumpkins has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Multiattack. David Pumpkins makes two Buttslap attacks.

Butt Slap. Melee weapon attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 feet, one target. Hit: 3 (1d4+1) bludgeoning damage. On a successful hit, the target must make a Charisma saving throw (DC: 13). On a failure the target begins to comically dance in place for 1 minute: shuffling, capering, and busting mad moves. A dancing creature must use all its movement to dance without leaving its space and has disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws and attack rolls. While the target is dancing, other creatures have advantage on attack rolls against it. As an action, a dancing creature makes a Wisdom saving throw to regain control of itself. On a successful save, the effect ends.

B-Boy Skeletons
Medium Undead, Neutral

AC: 13
HP: 26 (4d8+8)
Speed: 30’

STR: 10 (-), DEX: 16 (+3), CON: 14 (+2), INT: 10 (-), WIS: 10 (-), CHA: 14 (+2)

Skills: Performance +4
Damage Vulnerabilities: Bludgeoning
Damage Immunities: Poison
Condition Immunities: Frightened, Poisoned
Senses: Darkvision 120 ft., Passive Perception: 10
Languages: Common, Sylvan
Challenge: ⅛ (25 xp)

Innate Spellcasting: The B-Boy Skeleton’s innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC: 12). He can cast the following spells, requiring no material components.

At Will: Invisibility
3/day: Teleport

Turn Immunity. While within 30’ of David Pumpkins, the B-Boy Skeleton cannot be turned.

Here we dance? The B-Boy Skeleton begins an eldritch dance accompanied by alien music. Any creature within 60’ that sees this dance must make a Wisdom saving throw (DC: 12). If the saving throw fails, affected creature falls into a state of deep confusion for 1 minute.
An affected target can’t take reactions and must roll a d10 at the start of each of its turns to determine its behavior for that turn.
  • 1: The creature uses all its movement to move in a random direction. To determine the direction, roll a d8 and assign a direction to each die face. The creature doesn’t take an action this turn.
  • 2-6: The creature doesn’t move or take actions this turn.
  • 7-8: The creature uses its action to make a melee attack against a randomly determined creature within its reach. If there is no creature within its reach, the creature does nothing this turn.
  • 9-10: The creature can act and move normally.

At the end of each of its turns, an affected target can make a Wisdom saving throw (DC: 12). If it succeeds, this effect ends for that target.
Hip Check. Melee weapon attack: +2 to hit, reach 5 feet, one target. Hit: 2 (1d4) bludgeoning damage.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Arms of the Iron Bastard (DCC Magic Item)

Arms of the Iron Bastard
The legendary golemsmith, Vonkurk Eisenbluth, created the mighty automaton known as the Iron Bastard to aide in the Dwarf King's war against the Goat Men. The Iron Bastard was destroyed during the Siege of Eldervault 1000 years ago, and only its arms were recovered. The golemic limbs still retain a fraction of the Iron Bastard's power.

The Arms of the Iron Bastard are a pair of muscular dwarven arms crafted of dull black iron decorated with glowing runes. To access the power of the Arms, a user must remove his own arms and replace them with the magical iron limbs. The potential user must remove their own arms without help, or the magic fails. Removing the first arm is relatively easy; removing the second arm may require some inventiveness. Attaching the Arms of the Iron Bastard is a simple task, as barbed hooks and screws on the shoulders instantly bore into the user's bloody stumps. Once so attached, the Arms are permanently bonded to the user and grant them several boons and banes:
  • A character bonded to the Arms of the Iron Bastard gains a Strength Modifier of +4.
  • The massive iron hands allow the user to punch for 1d6 damage (plus Strength Modifier).
  • The user may also wield two-handed weapons like greatswords with one hand.
  • The massive iron arms are cumbersome, however. Any Skill checks that rely on Agility are penalized -1d on the dice chain.
  • Tearing out one's own arms and replacing them with magical iron damages the soul and psyche. The user permanently loses one point of Personality and two points of Luck.
  • An elf that tries to bond with the Arms of the Iron Bastard dies painfully in 1d6 rounds and explodes in a 20' radius fireball (10d6 damage to those caught in the blast, Reflex Save DC 13 for half damage).
Much more metal than mere gauntlets!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Blorgamorg, The Chthonic Snail [DCC Patron]

The Chthonic Snail patiently crawls through the hidden places below the earth, always chewing, always listening, always feeding on the secret wisdom of the world. Blorgamorg is a patient and wise entity, who eschews the petty conflicts of law and chaos. He prizes knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Lore sustains him. All secrets are known to him. Blorgamorg values servants who show tenacity, fortitude, and foresight. Rash and hasty minions displease him. Blorgamorg bitterly hates Bobububilz, and followers of the Chthonic Snail must always guard against the machinations of the Demon Lord of Amphibians. 

Gencon rekindled my love for Dungeon Crawl Classics and the creative community built up around it. I'm currently cobbling together a funnel adventure that I'm hoping will lead into a full campaign once my D&D 5th Ed game comes to a stopping point. Part of that funnel/campaign revolves around Blorgamorg the Chthonic Snail. 

Creating a complete patron for DCC is a big undertaking. Invoke results, three spells, patron taint, etc... It's a lot of work. I've been having fun with it. The self-appointed task of creating things again has been good for my general spiritual health. 

The linked file contains all the general patron info: Invoke Patron results, Patron Taint, and Spellburn. I am still working on two of his spells (Snail Mail is done), and I shall post them all when they are finished.


Share and Enjoy!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Grumchomp, The Hungry Blade [DCC Magical Weapon]

Grumchomp, The Hungry Blade

Grumchomp is an enchanted greataxe crafted 3000 years ago for the for the warlord Vorgomor the Immense. The massive, double-beaked axe is made from tyrannosaurus bones and wrapped with troglodyte skin. The heavy bone blade is carved in the likeness of a demon or dragon.

This fearsome weapon is constantly hungry. It prefers the blood and flesh of its owner’s enemies, but is quite content to sit in a bowl of stew or plate of cutlets while it waits for a worthy foe.

Grumchomp possesses several magical properties:
  • Intelligence: 6
  • Alignment: Neutral
  • Communicates through simple urges
  • Desires to fight and/or eat greater and greater foes.
  • While in the hands of a warrior or dwarf who is at least 25 pounds overweight, the axe increases its wielder’s Deed Die by +1d (to a maximum of 1d10+6 at level 10).
  • On a Critical Hit, in addition to the normal crit effects, Grumchomp feeds on the flesh, blood, and spirit of the target and shares this vitality with its wielder. The wielder of Grumchomp does not need to eat or drink for a number of days equal to the damage inflicted by the Critical Hit.
  • Once per day, Grumchomp can tell it’s wielder where the best restaurant in town is.

grumchomp the hungry blade.jpg

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Murder Orb [D&D 5th Edition]

I loved the Phantasm movies back when I was a young punk. When Mind Flayers recently invaded my D&D campaign, I stole more than a few ideas.

Murder orbs are small constructs created by illithids and their alien science. These silvery metal orbs are made of a layered shell of mithril and adamantite around a core of humanoid brain matter and psionic circuitry.  Murder Orbs typically patrol the shadowy corridors of illithid lairs or act as bodyguards for individual mind flayers. A high-status illithid is often accompanied by two or more Murder Orbs, which are easily hidden within the monster’s voluminous robes.

When a Murder Orb detects a target, it extends two extremely sharp, jagged spikes from its center and flies directly into its victim, impaling them and attaching to flesh and bone. Once secured, the Murder Orb extends a high-powered auger from between the spikes and drills into its victim’s flesh, causing further damage.

Murder Orb
Tiny Construct, Lawful Evil

AC: 18 (natural armor + dexterity)
HP: 24 (8d4+8)
Speed: 60’ fly

STR: 4 (-3), DEX: 20 (+5), CON: 12 (+1), INT: 6 (-2), WIS: 16 (+3), CHA: 6 (-2)
Saves: Dexterity +7
Skills: Perception +5, Stealth +7
Damage Resistances: Bludgeoning, Slashing, Piercing from non-magical non-adamantine weapons
Damage Immunities: Cold, Lightning, Fire, Poison
Condition Immunities: Charm, Exhaustion, Frightened, Paralyzed, Petrified, Poisoned
Senses: Darkvision 120 ft., Passive Perception: 15
Languages: Understands Deep Speech, cannot speak
Challenge: 2 (450xp)

Spike. Melee weapon attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 feet, one target. Hit: 8 (1d6+5) piercing damage. On a successful hit, the Murder Orb attaches itself to its target. The Murder Orb’s movement drops to 0. The target or a nearby ally can use their action to try and remove the Murder Orb with a DC: 15 Strength check. The victim suffers 1d6 bludgeoning damage per removal attempt (successful or not). The Murder Orb can voluntarily detach from its victim as a Bonus Action (this causes no damage).

Drill. While attached to a target, the Murder Orb can use its action to drill into its victim’s flesh. This causes an automatic 2d6 piercing damage to the target.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A Tale of Two GMs [Gen Con 2016]

Saturday night, and one of our GMs for Hex Games suddenly couldn’t make it to Gencon. This left his sold-out game with no GM and very, very short notice. We didn’t want to disappoint the nice people, nor did we want Hex’s reputation with Gencon to suffer. So, with only a couple hours lead time and nothing but the original GM’s scant blurb to go on, Leighton Connor and I stepped in to co-GM the game.

It was a Hobomancer game, and the program blurb mentioned a time-traveling pocket watch that needed to be destroyed in the first nuclear reactor (Chicago Pile-1, Chicago University, 1942 btw) and a bunch of Lord of the Rings references. Mere minutes before the game was scheduled to start LC and I put our heads together while I scribbled key-words and brief ideas on index cards:

Gordon the Gray
Bikers as Nazgul?
Sneaky Snakes/Serpent Men in Valusia
King Kull
VLHRG the Timewyrm
The Old West
Retro-Future Sci Fi Era
Post-Apoc Ape City

And thus we started madly improvising.We managed to lift large sections of plot from the “Swords & Serpents” chapter we did for LC’s Electric Team comic. It helped to have a common framework we could hang things on. LC and I can banter well with each other. In fact, we had to pull back a couple times, lest we forget about the PCs while we continued to bounce shtick off each other.

The adventure session went great, and the players had a fun time. (Pretty sure, I think, I hope. Everyone was laughing and smiling.) I can can at least guarantee the adventure was unlike anything else they’ve played. One of the players smilingly called us “you glorious BS artists” which I choose to take as a compliment.

At any rate, next year I am running three “Hobomancers in Time” adventures. This idea has legs!
Universes BURN at the voice of VLHRG!