The Guardians — Episode 9: The elements

The group descended deeper into the dark shaft. Rusty took the lead and went down first. He went down about 80 feet when he found himself in a cavern. The cavern walls and the stalactites were moist. On the northern end was a hole in the wall where a curtain of rushing water was passing through. Elfred tried to look through the waterfall and saw that there seemed to be an open area behind it.

They walked through the waterfall and found themselves in another cavern almost as big as the one they just came from. In front of them were two large heavy metallic double doors. The doors didn’t have any knobs nor handles. On the ground were a couple of dead goblins that were rotting for about three weeks.

Rusty looked around and saw that there were tiny openings to the walls adjacent to the doors. Oracle and Elfred looked into what could be in those openings using a mirror and dark vision. Elfred could see that there was some movement in there but couldn’t quite make it out.

They tried pushing the heavy double doors and it was very difficult. They were only able to move it inches each time. The first time the doors were moved, it made a loud echoing creak. Suddenly, the cavern started to be filled by a swarm of flying insects. Rusty peeked through the small gap between the doors to see that there was a dark room behind the doors and an altar in the middle of the room.

With the insects repeatedly biting them painfully, the group was extra motivated to quickly push the doors open and get out of the cavern. At one point, there was enough of a gap between the doors for Rusty and Brioche to go through. Brioche ran through the waterfalls straight through the gap between the doors and into the next room.

He looked around and saw that the room was roughly octagonal in shape. Opposite the door they came in was another smaller set of double doors with no handles. In the middle of the room was an altar where four blocks with carvings were placed. The altar was surrounded by four pedestals with triangular slots on top. And between the pedestals on the east and west are two 7-foot iron statues that looked like naked Olympians. On the ground were several dead goblins again with blood splattered on the smooth stone floor and walls round them.

The group went in and started pulling the blocks from the altar. Each time a block was pulled, the altar shocked them with surges of electricity. They tried putting the blocks in the slots in the pedestals. The first time they tried it, Oracle put a block on a pedestal where the word VENTUS was written. His block went into the slot but he got zapped.

They took inventory of the room and found that the other pedestals also had words etched on them. The others had the words IGNIS, TERRA and AQUA. Hermione having cast the Read Languages spell could read them plainly as: WIND, FIRE, EARTH and WATER.


Meanwhile, they faced two threats in that room. There were the flying insects coming in through the south door and there were the two iron statues that started to move after they had placed all of the four blocks into the four pedestals. They needed to get through the north door and realised that getting the blocks in the right places is key to doing that.

They tried to rearrange the blocks but nothing seemed to happen. The northern doors remained shut. They noticed that the blocks had a dish-like indentation on one end. They decided that they need to match the right block to the right pedestal and then provide the element that the blocks represent into the dish: fire for IGNIS, earth for TERRA, water for AQUA and air for VENTUS.

Would it work though? Would they be able to open the door before the insects and the iron statues kill them? That’s for next time.

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It’s #RPGaDAY 2017 this August

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This year, I’ve finally started running tabletop RPG again after a couple of decades of not playing RPGs. I started playing tabletop RPG back in the late 80’s when my older cousin introduced the concept to us.

We played a weekly game with him as the gamemaster using a rules-less fantasy game he made up called Tark-Mar. It’s a campaign world that’s very He-man in tone and we loved it.

I then took over the game master role and got us into AD&D 2nd Edition. And then switched over to classic D&D by way of Rules Cyclopedia when that came out.

We eventually stopped playing when we left university and started having real life jobs.

I wanted to start running a game again with my current friends so I started looking at what’s up in the RPG world back in 2015. Two years later of going through different rulebooks and campaign genres, I’ve finally got my friends to play a game with me.

I used Green Ronin’s Fantasy Age for a couple of sessions and then continued playing with Basic Fantasy RPG. I currently run two separate on-going campaigns and I love it. I hope to continue gaming for several more years to come.

In any case, it’s just about the right time for me to join this year’s #RPGaDAY festivities. I’ll post about those separately. If you are interested in joining the fun, get the details here: https://autocratik.blogspot.com.au/2017/07/rpgaday-2017-announcing-rpgaday-again.html

The Guardians — Episode 8: Down the hole

img_0976Zelirith, 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.

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.

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.