The Guardians — Episode 8: Down the hole

Zelirith, whom the townsfolk called the Witch of the Forest, led the group to a 2-day trek to the hills where the Lich’s phylactery is kept hidden. She explained to them that they would need to find the cave guarded by winged demon-like statues resembling gargoyles. And in the shallow cave would be a wall of overlapping rocks. Behind it would be a boulder that they would need to lift to reveal the hole in the ground leading to a deep vertical tunnel.

She was not sure exactly what to expect inside as she had not read this in the book left to her by the Order of the Box.

She wouldn’t be able to accompany them down the tunnel because it was protected by powerful magic to thwart powerful individuals from entering and taking the phylactery. She said that she would lead the gargoyles away from the mouth of the cave to allow the group to go into the tunnel unharmed.

Mistamojo asked how she would accomplish this. At that, she created a tall flaming humanoid from thin air and said, “with this.” She walked off with the fire elemental away from view.

Moments later, the group saw a fireball explode near the mouth of the cave. Ten gargoyles rose from the hill and flew to the direction of the source of the fireball.

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In seeing that, the group moved closer to the cave and stopped at the bushes just across it. They surveyed their surrounding to see if it was truly safe to cross. What they saw were the rotting corpses of a couple of ogres and lots of goblins. Mistamojo deduced that the goblins may have attempted to get the phylactery a while back.

With the gargoyles preoccupied with Zelirith and her fire elemental off in the distance, Brioche the thief darted across from the bushes into the cave. Encouraged by Brioche’s lead, Mistamojo followed him.

They went behind the wall of rocks and saw that the hole in the ground was no longer covered by a boulder. Iron spikes were nailed around the hole. Each spike had rope tied to it with the other end dangling into the dark vertical tunnel below. They could hear the faint sound of rushing water in the tunnel. Mistamojo threw in a torch and it briefly lit the tunnel as it bounced a few times on some rocky surface and then it was gone.


Outside, Elfred cast Protection from Evil while Hermione cast Mirror Image. Suddenly there were three Hermiones standing side-by-side and mirroring the movement of each other. The rest of the group tried to cross into the cave but due to the commotion they were making, they attracted the attention of two gargoyles. The flying creatures swooped in to attack but Rusty, Aragorn, Diana and Oracle formed a wall to allow Elfred, Mystic and Hermione to go into the cave safely.

Oracle tried to shoot a gargoyle with his long bow but he snapped his bow’s string. Rusty tried to shoot a gargoyle with his short bow but missed badly. Meanwhile, Hermione remembered from her magical studies that non-magical weapons are ineffective against gargoyles.

She passed on that knowledge to her team. Oracle and Rusty already have magical long swords so they switched to that. Hermione and Mystic both handed their magical daggers to Diana and Aragorn.

Oracle and Rusty were both hit by the gargoyles but they were able to hit them back with their own swords. Hermione and Mystic fired off magic missiles which were effective. One gargoyle tried to attack Mystic because of this but Diana was able to kill it with the magic dagger as it flew low past her. Rusty finished of the other gargoyle with ease.

Once the two gargoyles were down, they all gathered inside the cave to avoid attracting the attention of the rest of the gargoyles. After some discussion, the group decided to all go down the tunnel using the rope that were already there.

As Hermione and Elfred descended down into the tunnel, Hermione’s mirror images disappeared and Elfred’s Protection from Evil fizzled. Something in the tunnel made magic ineffective.

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At about a hundred feet down, the vertical tunnel widened into a round area where everybody could stand. But in the middle of this round area was another hole in the ground leading into further darkness below. As above, there were iron spikes with rope at the mouth of this hole. The sound of rushing water was louder now.

There was also a corpse of someone in singed long robes. Hermione investigated as it looked like a dead mage. It seemed to have been dead for a very long time as it was mostly skeleton. He was wearing a cloak that didn’t look singed like the rest of his clothing. He also wore a magic ring and a scarab amulet. In his backpack was a spellbook, a magical dagger and 150 gold coins.

The group paused here to decide what to do next. In the meantime, they divided the dead wizard’s possessions among themselves.

Would they all go down the tunnel? Would some stay behind to ensure they weren’t attack from the rear? What else is in store for them underneath? They’ll find out next time.


 

Nine of the ten players were in attendance on Tuesday’s game. I tried a few things to make the game run more smoothly despite the large number of PCs.

  1. We only rolled initiative once and we used that for the entire encounter
  2. I asked for a volunteer to keep track of whose turn it was in the initiative order
  3. I sat at the head of the table again so I could easily talk to anybody on the table without having to turn my whole body just to face them. This also meant I could easily see if anybody wanted to get my attention and say something.

The Guardians — Episode 7: Shopping day

From this point onward, I’m labeling this particular campaign The Guardians, in reference to what has happened in game today.


After defeating the zombies, a woman in blue with a white streak on her otherwise flowing black hair appeared in the main chamber of the mausoleum. She was initially shouting at no one in particular but the directed her anger at the group when she saw them. She demanded to know why they have set the Lich King Kranis Volan free.


Elfred convinced the woman named Zelirith that they did not free the Lich King. In fact, they wanted to help stop the Lich King but needed to gear up and rest in town first. Zelirith said she needed to get a few things sorted in her house first anyway and said she’d just meet them back in the town of Landseal the next day. And so, she left with her owl Barn and what seemed like a large walking boulder creature.

When the group returned to town, they were given a heroes’ welcome. The kids greeted them by placing garlands around their necks. Mayor Noah Pritchard, a kindly and respectable old man in smart robes walked toward them with a smile and open arms. 


The mayor thanked them, gave them 1000 gold (donated by everyone in town) and the key to Landseal in appreciation. Everyone cheered and started calling them the Guardians of Landseal.

Using the reward money and the treasure they got from the crypt, they bought better weapons and armour. In appreciation for the town’s new found heroes, they were offered 10% discount on all items they bought at the shops. They also got free food and lodging at the Full Tankard Tavern for the time being.


During the day, Aragorn noticed a young boy of maybe 10 to 12 years old following him around town. He was wearing a fur cloak and carrying a short bow. When Aragorn confronted the boy, he said he was George, son of Jared the local hunter. He was one of the kids abducted by the goblins and saved by the heroes. He remembered Aragorn particularly as it was Aragorn who stopped the goblin shaman from killing him.

He wanted to tag along and claimed he could be useful to the group. Although they initially entertained the idea of using him as a scout or checker for traps (I’m sure they were just kidding, right? Right?), they eventually decided against bringing him along. They didn’t want to take care of some kid in the middle of certain danger. George sulkily left the group after the rejection.

In the morning, after they were fully rested, an envoy from the Baron of Andren arrived in town and told the group that they have been invited by Baron Cain Andren to go to his castle where a feast in their honour was waiting for them. The group said they would think about it. The envoy said he’ll just go to the mayor in the meantime to talk to the Baron’s cousin.


While the group discussed in the tavern whether or not to go with the envoy, Zelirith walked in and told them it was time to go. She handed everybody a healing potion each and the magic-users, she handed 7 scrolls. All the spells in the scrolls were neither in Hermione’s nor Mystic’s spell books yet so they transferred most of them across.

In the end, they decided to ditch the baron’s envoy and leave with Zelirith to go to the hidden tunnel of the Order of the Box where the Lich’s phylactery was supposed to be kept and protected.

What awaits the group at the hidden tunnel? We’ll find out in a couple of weeks.


We were only able to play for about an hour today due to scheduling difficulties. And so, we only really had time to do some shopping and start a couple of story threads.

With 10 players and Tuesday being a busy day in the office, it’s getting harder to get everybody together for a session that last at least an hour. For example, although all 10 of the players are at work today, only 7 were able to play. But since I know that there would be some housekeeping that needed to be done, I just want to run a session anyway so that next session will be the actual start of a new adventure.

I also felt that the players were expecting some combat today and they had none. I asked the players after what it was they want out of the games to help in preparing future adventures. The majority said they wanted more combat and problem solving. I’m taking that to mean that they are less interested in the roleplaying aspect of roleplaying games in the future. That means I can now just focus on making/using dungeon-crawling-type adventures.

The Fellowship — Episode 6: Why so many zombies?


We find our heroes still in the hidden crypt surrounded by undead Templars that have been raised by the Lich before it flew away.

A mysterious light mist rose from the floor and suddenly, Aragorn, Elfred and Fredo fell to the ground unconscious. 

Rusty, Mistamojo and Hermione desperately fought eight zombies armed in Templar regalia. Hermione noticed that they weren’t wearing and using mundane gear. They were wearing magical protection and using magically-enhanced weapons. These, along with being outnumbered, made it very challenging for the three.

Luckily, Oracle doubled back to the mausoleum after Brioche assured him that he could take the children back to Landseal safely by himself.

Oracle found a magic-user along the way by the name of Mystic. For one reason or other, she decided to join Oracle to meet his group. When they finally arrived in the main chamber underground, they found the group already engaged in combat with the undead.

Rusty slashed at the zombies with his long sword. Hermione fired off magic missiles. Mistamojo called on divine power to turn two zombies away.

Meanwhile from a distance, Oracle tried to move quickly to assist his friends. He threw a spear at range but he missed. He shot a couple of arrows and those also missed. Mystic along side Oracle and fired off all the magic missiles she had at the zombies.

The group slowly thinned the number of undead remaining but near the end, Rusty was struck down, having already been severely weakened from earlier encounters. Thankfully, his comrades were able to stabilise him and resuscitate him soon after.

With Mistamojo’s numerous failed attempts at turning the zombies again after the first two fled, he decided to end the last remaining zombie with a very well placed strike of his mace to its skull, crushing it completely.


Finally out of combat, they looked at the Templars’ equipment and found on them 2000 gold pieces, 5 rubies, a couple of magical long swords (+1), a ring of protection (+2), a couple of magical daggers (+1) and magical shield (+1).

Rusty and Oracle each took a long sword, Hermione got the Ring of Protection, Mistamojo took the Shield, and Hermione and Mystic each took a dagger.

As the team was readying to leave the crypt to go back to the town of Landseal, they heard someone yelling in the main chamber.

“NO!” yelled a middle aged woman in blue robes with long straight black hair with a single white streak to the side. She was pacing around the hole where the Lich had risen and looking down into it.

She then cast her eyes at the group who have gathered in the main chamber and shouted at them, “what have you done?! Why have you set Kranis Volán free?!”

And that’s where we ended the session. Who is this woman? Who is Kranis Volán? Will they ever get to go back to town and do some shopping? We’ll find out next session.


Four of our regular players were away today due to various reasons. But since it’s already been 3 weeks since the last session, I just wanted to run the session today anyway just so they can finally get back to town and go on other adventures. That explains why three of the PCs just fainted suddenly.

There would have been only four players today if it weren’t for Mystic the magic-user joining the group. We have a new developer at work and he was keen enough to join the game as a female magic-user so I gave him a character sheet.

We also have a new QA/tester join the team recently and she watched today’s session. She even took over control of Rusty near the end because Rusty’s player had to go to a meeting in the next room. She said she wanted to join the game in the next session as a fighter.

So next session, if everybody’s in, there’ll be 10 PCs in the group. I think creating encounters that’s not too challenging nor too easy would be something I’ll have to manage. I’m just glad that I have this chance to run the game with a group of people who seem to be very into playing their characters.

Blacksmith’s Heroes – Session 4: Save the Farm

The previous session ended with the group leaving Kheldratus’ Tower and spotting a child running away from three goblins. They have easily killed the three goblin pursuers and saved the boy. See Blacksmith’s Heroes session 3.

It’s been 8 weeks since the session before yesterday’s. I forgot how much effort goes into a 3-plus-hour session compared to an under-2-hour session. For one, it’s harder to run the game standing for over 3 hours. I need to change the seating arrangement so that I no longer sit at the head of the table. I’d rather be seated in the middle part of the table and have everything on the table easily accessible.

Anyway, I’m glad I’m able to run the game again for the first group. I was able to apply the things I’ve learned and done from running it for the second group.


 


The session started with the boy asking the adventurers to help his family who were trapped in their farm at the arrival of a huge raiding party of goblins. At that moment, the group’s two other team members Jud’an Santosa the fighter and Alistair the magic-user finally caught up with them and joined them to help the family out.

The group already knew that Gambit the fighter was cursed early on that trapped two persons in the one body. Only one of the two persons was in control of their body at any given time and each couldn’t share memories with the other. When a switch happens (and they don’t know when and why it happens), the group would have to explain to the current person in control of Gambit what had just happened.

On this occasion, they discovered that there was a third Gambit persona — a pacifist one. She was originally adamant on just killing the goblins moments earlier, but at that moment, she no longer wanted to kill or even hurt the goblins. She believed that the goblins could be reasoned with and convinced to stop their raids through diplomacy.

Once the group had adjusted to Gambit’s change in personality, they went into formation and started their march North.

On the walk to the farm, they noticed somebody else following them. They tentatively said hi to whoever it was hiding in the bushes. A blonde tall man slowly stood up from the bushes. He was wearing fancy leather clothes and a lute on his back. He introduced himself as Gaylord Thatcher, a humble bard looking to write and sing the next big epic.

He asked the group if he could tag along and chronicle their adventures. He promised to stay out of their way. As a way to get into their good side, he explained that it was he who had coined the name “Blacksmith’s Heroes”, to which the group groaned. They dislike that name.

When they arrived at the southern edge of the farm, they stood behind the bushes to gauge how they should approach this problem.

Chichi the thief wanted to sneak toward the nearest shed but accidentally tripped over a branch. The commotion alerted the nearby goblins to their presence. Half the goblin force advanced toward them while the other half that’s farther from them continued to try to break into the house.

The group met the advancing goblins head on. Beka the fighter attacked with her rapier, Elrond and Alistair attacked with their magic, Chichi fended with her dagger, Jud’an and Pedro formed a wall, Gambit attacked with her long bow and Goldmoon created a divine spiritual hammer to smite goblins with.

After a few rounds of fighting, they noticed that the goblins at the other end of the farm were still trying to break into the house. It wouldn’t be long before the door gave way. Gambit was compelled to cross the line of goblins in front of them quickly. Following her lead, Elrond, Alistair and Goldmoon advanced toward the house as well.

What turned the tide of battle was when Elrond started casting multiple Sleep spells which disabled a sizeable number of fighting goblins, including those trying to break into the house.

At that point, elves in chainmail armour appeared from the north, led by a slender black haired elf in regal elfin armour. Elrond, Gambit and Beka, who were elves themselves, recognised the lead figure as Prince Vesryn Valleian, the crown prince of the Valleian elves and with him are his personal guards, the Valleian Rangers.

The elves created magical protective floating discs in front of them before firing off unerring magic missiles at all the remaining goblins nearby. Vesryn himself exploded a powerful fireball at the goblin leader thereby charring him to death.

With the goblins being felled around him, Elrond blasted the door of the house open which allowed Gambit to enter. Inside the house is the frightened farmer’s family. They were relieved and thankful to see Gambit step through the door instead of wild goblins.

At the end of the encounter, the boy was reunited with his family. Prince Vesryn was happy to see that there were other elves also engaged in destroying goblins, whom he considered scum meant to be purged from the land. Before parting, he gave Gambit a ring. He said that if they ever needed his help, just whisper his name on the ring and he will try to reach them as soon as he could.

The group decided that they wanted to go back to Kheldratus’ Tower the next day. Whatever it was that Kheldratus wanted them to do, they suspected that it was related to the growing problem with goblins. They turned in the goblins who weren’t killed in battle to Mayor Reuben Leighton of Erstone for interrogation. They hoped that will help the mayor determine the cause of the goblin raids.

At the end of a long day, they turned in for the night. In the morning, they would be recharged and ready to take on Kheldratus’ quest. That will be the in the next session.

Blacksmith’s Heroes – Session 3: The Test

The session described below happened before I started this blog. I posted it in a different site before but I’ve reposted it here to provide context to the future session reports for my first group.

Note that the first two sessions before this were actually played using Green Ronin’s Fantasy Age rules. I’ve converted the PCs to Basic Fantasy for session 3.

This group is based on the western side of Jacris, in the town of Erstone near the edge of the Valleian Forest, home to the Valleian Elves.


They started in the Last Mistake Tavern and balked at the high prices of the meals served there. They again did not actually order any food at the tavern. They decided that they need more money.

While at the tavern, a young boy asked for an autograph from the Blacksmith’s Heroes. They weren’t pleased with the name that’s going around for their group. Goldmoon suggested they be called “Tuesday Group” instead. Not everybody was sold on that idea and will rebrand later.

The mayor’s aide realised that they were the Blacksmith’s Heroes so he approached them and invited them to see Mayor Reuben. He also suggested that they could have free food while at the town hall. On the way to the town hall, they saw the same kid who got the autograph tell everybody in the street that they were the Blacksmith’s Heroes and people started clapping as they went past.

When they got to the town hall, they were given bread and wine while the mayor told them that the town of Erstone is currently having a problem with goblins. There weren’t any goblin issue before the last few days so he was asking if the heroes could find out why the goblins are suddenly attacking the northern outskirts of town. He initially offered 100 gold but the group negotiated it to 800 gold with 60 gold paid in advance. They didn’t think this was much gold either but it’s a job they could do.

When they stepped out of town hall, a man with a limp approached them an introduced himself as Ivar, apprentice to the mighty wizard Kheldratus. He told them that his master is seeking strong individuals for a find and retrieve job. When asked about money, Ivar merely responded that his master is wealthy and powerful. However, in order to be given the job, he also said that his master wanted to meet them first to see if they were indeed up for the task.

On arriving at Kheldratus’ Tower at the western outskirts of town, they noticed that the tower itself was a plain-looking narrow cylinder made of stone with dull red spire on top. It wasn’t very impressive at all. Upon entering, the inside actually seemed magnitudes bigger than the outside.

They were then led to the third floor and entered what seemed like a grotesque “waiting room”.

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The room had what seemed like a gigantic skeletal sculpture on the south end that had four arms stretched out each armed with a large mace. There was an outline of a bull’s head slightly on the middle of the floor and directly above it was a cage with no bottom suspended from the ceiling by a chain that went into a hole in the ceiling itself. Behind the sculpture were five mysterious keyholes that didn’t correspond to any nearby door. Lastly, there were several stout wooden columns in the room that stop short of touching the 40-foot high ceiling.

When they entered the room from an eastern doorway, Ivar told them to wait there. He then exited the room through the western doorway. As he stepped out of the room, stone walls slid suddenly to close the two visible doorways shut, trapping the group inside. At that point, the sculpture (which was actually a bone golem), started to move.

After a quick huddle, the group decided to lure the huge bone golem to the centre of the room so that they could drop the suspended cage on top of it. Beka and Gambit went to the north end of the room opposite the golem and shot a few arrows at it to no visible effect. Elrond positioned himself near the two archers and fired off magic missiles at the creature which seemed to have affected it. Chichi spent the encounter trying to get up to the cage so that she could cut it loose and send it crashing down when needed. Goldmoon cast a Protection from Evil spell on herself in preparation for an attack.

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The Golem started stomping toward the group along the north wall but Pedro then decided to block the golem’s path and attacked it with his magic two-handed sword. The golem retaliated hard and almost ended up killing Pedro were it not for a cure light wounds spell from Goldmoon.

With Chichi finally in place to drop the cage on command, it turned out that the cage was no longer necessary. The Golem looked severely weakened from Pedro’s powerful blows. In the end, Beka took out her magic rapier and lunged at the golem giving it the mortal strike.

As the light in the Golem’ eyes dimmed to black, the doors opened once again and Kheldratus entered the room very pleased. He told them that they were indeed competent enough to retrieve something from an ancient ruin several miles to the south. But he wasn’t ready to reveal to them yet what it was they were to retrieve. They needed to come back the next day if they were interested. If they didn’t, he would just move on and find another group of brace souls. If they do the task, they would get 1000 gold pieces. They were also given a health potion each for having to suffer through his test.

Elrond was motivated to do this task to get into Kheldratus’ good graces. He hoped to be able to learn new spells from the old wizard in the future.

However, the others are thinking that they already said yes to doing the mayor’s task of finding why the goblins are attacking the town outskirts.

When they stepped outside of the tower and started walking back to town, they saw about 40 feet away a boy running and behind him are three goblins. Gambit and Beka each shot an arrow that killed the two closest to the boy. Elrond, who could speak goblin, believes that they should capture one alive and interrogate him. He ran beside the last goblin and cast a Web spell on him.

They were able to only ascertain that only the chief know why they are attacking the town and that their tribe is actually three days away from there. That is, if all of that was true. The boy they were chasing told them that he only escaped a raiding party but his parents and two siblings are still in their farm. He also told them that he believes that there were at least 15 goblins there. The captured goblin confessed that they have a leader at that raiding party.

There was a lengthy discussion on whether to keep the goblin alive or not. In the end, Goldmoon settled the argument by killing the goblin herself.

To be continued…

The Fellowship – Episode 5: What’s a phylactery?

Brioche and Oracle left the mausoleum to take the children back to town while the rest of the group stayed in the main chamber and spent the night there.

The group started the day early. Looking through the large hole in the ceiling they could see that it was still dark outside. But having regained their strength, they felt confident to look around the hidden crypt.

After some investigation, they’ve learned that this was the crypt of a Sir Tristan and his Templar knights. Mistamojo detected magic in the tombs themselves so they tried to pry open the tombs. But then they heard somebody shouting back in the main chamber.

They looked and it was the lich that flew away the day before. It was back! And it kept repeating, “where is my phylactery?!”

Elfred said, “what’s a phelicity?”

The team readied themselves for combat but Mistamojo insisted that they talk to it first and ask it some questions.

However, due to an aura of fear that it emanated, those that went out to engage it froze in fear. Only Fredo seemed to have been unaffected by the aura. He was about ready to strike but took Mistamojo’s advice instead and tried talking to it.

He explained that they didn’t have what it was looking for. The lich did not believe a halfling. It thought that Fredo was lying to him. To show Fredo that it was serious, it cast a lightning bolt at Aragorn standing beside Fredo. With one strike, Aragorn fell to the ground. It asked again in a deep booming voice, “where is my phylactery?!”

The team decided that the time for diplomacy was over.  The clerics Elfred and Mistamojo started to remove the magical fear from those who were frozen. Once able to move again, Rusty went to the fallen Aragorn and healed him. Hermione stung the lich with a magic missile while Fredo slashed at it with his short sword.


Mistamojo still believed he could talk sense to the Lich. In the end, he was able to convince the Lich that there was no point fighting them as they really didn’t know anything and they didn’t pose any meaningful threat. The Lich believed the cleric and agreed that there was no point wasting its time with them cockroaches.

The lich waved its hand and the dead knights buried in the crypt came out of their tombs. Then the lich flew away with an almost inaudible chuckle.


The heroes were left to fight off the zombified forms of the nine knights buried in the crypt.

Will they survive the crypt? Is there anything of value in the crypt worth investigating? We’ll find out in the next episode.