Attronarch's Athenaeum

Campaign journals, reviews of TTRPG stuff, and musings on D&D.

Republic of Tharda:

Kingdom of Azadmere:

Heart of St. Bathus and Encounters in the Under Realms:

I'm really looking forward to Heart of St. Bathus because it's been authored by W.D.B. Kenower, who also wrote The Lost City of Barakus and The Vault of Larin Karr. Both of those are great sandboxes with ton of stuff to do. Bathus seems to be the same, but for higher levels and with plenty of Underdark stuff as well. At cursory glance, FGG did a horrible job with editing, layout, and visual direction, but I will endure.

#Postbox #Harn #DnD #OSR #OSE #FGG

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Darius Cleric level 3 Follower of Dacron, God of Craftsmen.
Rorik Fighter level 2 A fighter.
Hagar the Hewer Dwarf level 2 Imagine Conan as dwarf.
Ambros Cleric level 2 Follower of Aniu, Lord of Time.
Heran Marad Cleric level 2 Bearded, aging man with shaved head. Follower of Umannah, the Sun God, The Radiant Death.
Bob the Dwarf Dwarf level 1 Midget with big beard in search of an adventure.

Dewsnap 15th, Spiritday

Adventurers have been resting at the Lonesome Drake inn for the past week—every since they've overexerted themselves in endless tunnel underneath it. Darius regained his courage, and was now working on reclaiming some of the lost dignity as well.

Bob the Dwarf went back to Hara to procure delving supplies: a dozen or so oil flasks, and seven packages of iron rations. There he met Heran Marad, a Cleric of Umannah looking to purge some evil.

The party spent the day drinking and discussing their next step. As sun began to slowly set, all six dispersed throughout Midway with one simple goal: collect as much rumours and intelligence as possible.

Bob visited the wine shop owned and operated by Regis Baum. It was a two story affair with an attached tower. The proprietor was most polite, especially after receiving several compliments on the Midway Red from the dwarf.

Unlike Regis, his wife Winifred was much colder to Bob. In fact, even that would be an overstatement for how hard she ignored the dwarf. Bob couldn't help but notice how out of place Winifred was in her emerald green silk dress and stunning diamond pendant around her neck. Even the wives of Alyrian merchants in Hara show more modesty!

Rorik visited constable Wershaw, a hardy man beaten with an ugly stick. Constable was proud of the militia he had drilled, even though they were nothing but peasants with spears. He also shared his grievances with Haran forces.

“What do we pay the protection money for? There have been more and more sightings of barbarians just south of the river, caravans plundered left and right, and not to mention that dilapidated fort our Lord wanted us to “take back” for him. No I said! No! I will not allow fair men of Midway to die for some noblekids vainglory!”

Heran spent the evening studying parchment retrieved from the iron scroll case the party had found a week ago under the rotting shield in the cave beyond the cellar.

On one side was a scribbled message, which read “Roland, please wait at the Drake. Matters to attend to in the north. PS: Sorry to use the map, but Myonga has a copy anyway.”

Does Drake refer to this Drake? Who are Roland and Myonga?

On the other side were drawing of squiggly lines going in various directions. Several intersected. There were four circled areas, each with a different note next to it:

  • LP. 3 “keys.”
  • Orcs.
  • Lake.
  • Pillars? Good resting place.

Hagar and Ambros strolled down the docks and warehouses. Most of the workers had already left, and those that were left were either drinking, tired, or both. They hadn't learned anything new—everyone was complaining how the trade started drying up, especially since gnomes of Ractuan stopped sending raw goods as much as they used to.

“And why should they? Every third barge was raided! And I heard that the Red Queen didn't even want to speak to their envoy!”

Darius visited Culwert's Perfect Armory. Culwert slammed the doors in his face. “Come when the sun is up!” So he went to Odger's Excellent Arms, run by Culwert's brother.

Now Odger was much more chattier and welcoming than his brother. He lamented how his dwarven craftsmanship is not fully utilised in Midway, since he mostly makes simple weapons like spears and axes.

“You say you are an adventurer? Yes? Yes! Every adventurer must have a weapon befitting his status! A year or so ago I made a spectacular greatsword for a powerful warrior. It was majestic! Per the owner's request, I also inserted two shiny pearls in the pommel. He wanted his foes to see their dying throes! A bit cruel maybe, but hey... Who am I to judge?”

With a little bit of prodding, Odger divulged that this warrior was named Myonga, and that he was one of the leaders of an adventuring party that spent few weeks in Midway approximately two years ago.

Dewsnap 16th, Airday

Following intense discussions, the party has decided to fetch few more books from the tomb. Then they collapsed the tunnel leading into the cellar. Hagar and Bob managed the whole operation with great success and no injuries. Boris was immensely grateful and he threw a big feast, inviting many locals to the Lonesome Drake.

“Excuse me Ser, but is it true you are an adventurer?”

A rotund man covered in sweat approached Darius moments after the midnight. His belt buckle looked as if it was about to give in any moment now. Sweat stains covered the man's chest, armpits, forearms, and thighs.

He held a coarse sweat rag in his left palm, yellow from use. Much to Darius's dismay, the man also had poor understanding of personal space, and was withing kissing distance of the cleric.

“Where I come from it is customary people introduce themselves to each other.”

“Apologies, ser, I meant no disrespect! I am Dubalan the Goatherder!”

He wiped between each sentence. Darius subtly signalled to other adventurers to gather. They soon surrounded the oblivious goatherder.

“I heard gumptious folk like you go to dangerous places and recover many, many riches from them! I am much too cowardly for such things, but you might be interested in something I discovered on one of my treks!”

“Brother, you should've prayed for Detect Evil.” one of the adventurers whispered into Darius's ear.

Dubalan offered the party to take them to a sinkhole he had discovered at the foot of Ghinarian hills, not even a day away from Midway. He recognised some of the symbols as those from the long gone Empire of Kelnore.

Rorik casually walked to the constable Wershaw to inquire about the character of this goatherder.

“Dubalan? Yes, he is a fine man. Sometimes a bit too funny and naive for his own good. Why?”

Evading his question, Rorik returned and informed the party that the man checks out.

“So, what do we get for our hundred gold coins?”

“I'll take you—personally!—to the sinkhole!” Dubalan exclaimed, sweating profusely “and I'll wait for you to come out! And then I'll take you back to Midway! Heck, I'll tuck you in and feed you some milk if you want!” he wiped his forehead and neck.

“Wow, this guy has some mommy issues...” somebody whispered.

“We have a deal Dubalan.”

“Grand!”

Goatherder extended his arm, with palm as wet as if he had just put it in a bucket of grease.

Darius reluctantly shook his hand.

“Greet us in front of the inn in the morning.”

“Yes, Ser!”

Dewsnap 17th, Waterday

“Mind your step! It's difficult to spot due to all the bushes and overgrowth, but it is just ahead. It is a deep fall, so tread carefully.”

As promised, Dubalan led the party to the sinkhole. It was a vertical chute, some thirty by fifty feet, approximately hundred feet deep. A decrepit spiral stairway made of stone slabs protruding out of the stone walls descended downwards.

Dwarves improvised an anchor from twelve iron spikes, tied two ropes together, and then descended one by one. Adventurers took great care and no risks. Two hours later, and all of them stood at the foot of this hole.

Ahead of them was a framed stone slab. Above it were symbols that indeed matched those of Kelnore Empire. Letters were difficult to read and understand. Great many Wilderlands languages descended from Kelnorian, and even though one could argue that it was in essence Auld Common, it was still too difficult to decipher at glance.

There was a mention of king or some sort of royalty though.

“Oooooof!”

Hagar and Bob heaved as they failed to push the slab forward.

“I'll give you a hand!” Rorik jumped in.

What a useless hand that was.

“Step aside!” Heran stepped in.

“Huh, I guess I am getting too old!”

Another useless hand.

“Push! PUSH!”

Finally!

Progress!

The party pushed the stone slab ten feet forward, before running out of steam.

Heran's torch illuminated a chamber made of hewn stone. Metal squeaked as two skeletons dressed in chainshirts moved towards the party.

All three clerics summoned the power of their deity, forcing the undead to flee. Hagar cut one to pieces, while Ambros smashed the other.

Sealed doorway blocked their way forward.

Illustrated by kickmaniac.

As the party argued how to resolve this, Hagar took out his warhammer and smashed right through it. The opening was clear, but the hammer was for garbage.

Adventurers took the stairs down, entering a large, sixty by sixty chamber dominated by a fireplace and eight stone sarcophagi. Purple fire burning in the fireplace illuminated nearly half the chamber. Various symbols and motifs were on the stone coffers, all quite regal in nature.

Naturally, the party opted to open the closest sarcophagus. Inside was a skeleton clad in ornamental plate mail, with a shield on top and a long sword to its side.

It did not rise to attack. So adventures relieved it of all its possessions.

The same was repeated with the sarcophagus opposite of this one.

The lids were quite heavy, so it took either four average men, or two above average men. In other words, Hagar was taking of one side all by himself, while Rorik and Bob had to combine forces on the other.

And then Hagar heard the sound of stone scrapping on stone.

And then he smelt burning flesh.

Discuss at Dragonsfoot forum.

#Wilderlands #SessionReport

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A zine chronicling the Conquering the Barbarian Altanis D&D campaign.

This issue covers sessions 45, 46, and 46 play-by-post. Despair and hope aplenty.

You can download the issue here.

Overlord's Annals zine is available in print as part of the legendary Alarums & Excursions APA, issue 581:

#Zine

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Commenting on blog posts is (was?) a big part of the OSR movement. Nowadays most of the commenting systems, either from the blogging platforms themselves or external, have became unwieldy and difficult to use. They ask to create an account with full name, email, social security number, rights to firstborn child, and what not.

I finally sat down to figure out how to add a privacy-respecting, no-nonsense commenting to my blog. The solution I settled for, cusdis, is primitive, ultra-minimal, and collects nothing. Alas, I'm not that good with coding (scripting?), so I don't know how to edit cusdis javascript and tailwind css to match the look of the blog.

Either way, it will serve the purpose. You will find “Comment” area just below the line at the end of each blog post. Since it is anonymous, i.e. you don't need an account to comment, I have to manually approve each and every comment.

Let me know how are you finding it!

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Hagar the Hewer Dwarf level 2 Imagine Conan as dwarf.
Ambros Cleric level 2 Follower of Aniu, Lord of Time.
Darius Cleric level 3 Follower of Dacron, God of Craftsmen.
Rorik Fighter level 2 A fighter.
Bairstowbury the Chaotic Halfing level 1 Remarkably muscular for a halfling.
Galepurse the Hapless Cleric level 1 Woefully unsuited for life of adventuring but desperately needs coin to grow his following.

Dewsnap 8th, Earthday

“Has anyone spoken with the innkeeper, Boris?” Bairstowbury inquired. Negative replies did not surprise him too much.

Previous evening Hagar, Ambros, Bob, and Vyrkainen, broke open barricaded doors in the cellar of the Lonesome Drake in. There they discovered a passageway blocked by boulders and well as a chamber littered with bones, fetishes, and broken spears.

To say that the innkeeper was distraught would be an understatement.

“Well, let's question him now, shall we?”

Little did they found out from poor innkeeper. He had bought the Lonesome Drake two years ago, for a “great deal.” Previous owner was quick to sell, and left Midway a week after the handover.

“All I remember” Brynna, the barmaid whom had worked for the previous owner, and who now works for Boris, grunted as she carried a cask of ale “is that old Thurman one day just decided to sell the inn. He came storming from the cellar and was as pale as a lily-white corpse! Never said a word about why he is selling. To be fair I never asked either.”

Satisfied with finding out nothing, Hagar, Ambros, Darius, Rorik, Galepurse, and Bairstowbury descended into the cellar.

“Large cave or boulders?”

“Boulders.”

Hagar the Dwarf acted as an overseer, while five other adventures heaved and puffed whilst clearing the path. Four hours or so later, and the doors spotted beyond the boulders were now easily accessible.

If only they'd open. Several members tried, all bouncing off. Then Hagar the Hewer stepped forth, rolled up his sleeves, and slammed the doors with all his might.

Not even a budge! Nor a shiver! As solid as if they were granite!

These doors confounded the adventurers for quite some time. How could plain wooden plank withstand such awesomeness? How?! They were checked and rechecked for traps, for mechanisms, for construction trick, for all kinds of trickery.

But no matter how hard they look, all they could find is nothing.

“Cut 'em down!”

One of the adventurers ran upstairs, and then to Osgood's general store, grabbed a large hatchet, and then ran back and handed it over to highly motivated Hagar.

The doors were reduced to splinters in matter of minutes.

Beyond them was a large chamber, some eighty by sixty feet, dominated by a large stone sarcophagus in the middle. Its lid laid next to it, broken. Scenes of pig-faced stickmen triumphing over other stickmen adorned its sides and lid. A smashed skeleton rested inside. No treasure, no weapons, no spoils of war befitting a burial place of such accomplished individual.

“What are these?”

“They look like... books?”

Indeed, neatly arranged towers of books were lined along the south wall spanning some eighty feet. Easily several hundred books, all bound, lettered, and carefully placed.

“I can't read any of those!”

Several adventurers checked a dozen or so books, all in unfamiliar script and language. Judging that those are of little interest, the party retreated upstairs to rest before returning next day.

Illustration by IdleDoodler.

Dewsnap 9th, Fireday

The party descended once again. This time they followed the north-east tunnel, leading to a ledge overhanging a large cavern littered with bones.

“Hammer to rope ladders.”

“Done!”

“Now let's descend two by two. Who goes first?”

Bones crunching echoed loudly under Hagar's heavy feet. They were indeed in a sizeable cave...

Spears with skulls on top of them were spaced every ten feet or so in every direction. Floor was completely covered with bones, skeletons, broken spears, arrows, shields, necklaces and fetishes of all kinds. Skulls were snout-faced, indicating that orcish heritage. Some of them had painted green eye on them.

No matter how softly adventurers tried to move, every step landed on something crunchy.

“Let's follow the cave wall to canvas the size of this cave...”

And so they did.

“AAGH–” Galepurse's scream was cut short as he was enveloped by a large musty cloak he stumbled into. Bairstowbury jumped back; Rorik turned to the cleric only to see him completely covered with black leathery matter. Hagar charged the living cloak, and hit it with all his might.

Illustration by IdleDoodler.

Galepurse cried in pain, for he too felt the might of Hagar's blow. He twitched and twisted and writhed whilst his friends tried to beat on the cloak.

And then he stopped.

The cloak unfurled itself, revealing its true nature. A large manta-like creature perched itself up, dropping grisly remains of Galepurse the Hapless to the ground.

The monster leaned backwards, paused for a brief moment, and then unleashed a high-pitched shrill hereto unheard by any of these unlucky souls. Cave amplified the horrific sound tenfold.

Darius failed his dignity check, and fled for his life. He sprinted over the skeletal remains of hundred orcs, climbed the rope ladders, ran to the cellar, up into the inn, straight to his room, and then under the bed. There he remained.

Rorik, Ambros, and Bairstowbury were paralysed with fear. Their bodies were as stiff and solid as when one is touched by ghoul.

Hagar was now the only thing standing between the beast and its feast.

The monster lunged at the dwarf—and missed!

The dwarf countered with a flurry of blows—all failing to penetrate the monster's thick skin!

Carnivorous cloak attacked once more—but was wrestled off by the dwarf!

Hagar skewered the beast straight through, making it ooze thick, purple ichor!

The monster moaned and flapped backwards and upwards, far out of Hagar's reach. Then it turned around and flown off into the darkness, southwards.

Hagar stood there, braced, ready for its return.

He waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Rorik, Ambros, and Bairstowbury slowly regained composure.

Some of them were perhaps slightly embarrassed by the whole encounter.

“There was a large shield leaning against the east wall that I spotted just before the whole incident... Shall we check it?”

Indeed, underneath the shield were poorly hidden sack of coins, a rusty iron scroll case, and three arrows wrapped in silk cloth.

“Wow!”

Sack clanked, containing four hundred thirty five gold coins and a garnet ring.

Arrows felt special, but nothing much could've been gleamed from their look alone.

The scroll contained a parchment with note on one side, and scribble on the other.

The note said, in Common:

“Roland, please wait at the Drake. Matters to attend to in the north. PS: Sorry to use the map, but Myonga has a copy anyway.”

The other side was a collection of squiggly lines going in various directions. Some crossed each other, some never touched. There were four circled areas on the map, each with a different note next to it:

  • LP. 3 “keys.”
  • Orcs.
  • Lake.
  • Pillars? Good resting place.

Survivors picked up the cleric's remains, and retreated back to the inn. There they found out that Darius had failed his dignity check more than once, for he has thoroughly soiled himself.

Good people they are, they shared gold coins as previously agreed with Boris.

Having had a good, hearty lunch, the party went back down. Except Darius, whom had remained under the bed. Was it out of fear or shame, nobody knows.

Either way, Hagar took the lead once more. Adventurers moved with much more care this time, paying special attention to any random cloaks hanging anywhere.

In the timespan of eight torches, they circled the whole cave, and discovered three more tombs. Each tomb had two sarcophagi, broken open, and were devoid of any treasure.

A tunnel on the south side of the cave slopped down and led to sounds of running water. The party braced themselves and descended.

They travelled for hours, navigating the cave tunnel of varying width and height. They often had to avoid stalactites as well as stalagmites. From time to time they'd encounter moist walls and ceiling; porous cave walls were letting through water that was running above them; or so Hagar thought.

They went on and on and on, following the winding tunnel.

When the lamp went out, they refilled it and continued.

When the lamp went out second time, they felt tiredness set in.

Illustration by kickmaniac.

“Should we camp here? Or go back?”

“It's not very pleasant, but yes, we could camp.”

“What if Boris collapses the tunnel leading into the cellar? Remember that he was really anxious.”

“Huh, that's is something to worry about!”

And with that the party turned around and hurried back.

They arrived at the cellar on the morning of Dewsnap 10th, Spiritday.

“Where have you been?! Thank Anu and Mitra for your return for I was about to summon constable Wershaw to seal the cellar! Now that you are back and safe... Have you maybe found any other treasure?”

Will adventurers tell him the truth this time?

Discuss at Dragonsfoot forum.

#Wilderlands #SessionReport

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Mythmere Games just launched a new Kickstarter with five books for Swords & Wizardry:

  • Swords & Wizardry: The Book of Options. 11 new optional character classes, new spells, new magic items, and much more.
  • Fiends & Foes – A Monster Compendium. 300 monsters updated with morale numbers and revisions to the Swords & Wizardry Complete Revised rules.
  • Domain of Heryngard. A hex-crawl campaign with a section of the Uldra Cthon megadungeon and room to explore.
  • Tomb of the Iron God. Great, challenging low-level adventure.
  • Referee Screen. 33 inches long and 8.5 inches tall, printed in color on cardstock.

Read more and back on Kickstarter.

#News #Crowdfunding #OSR #SW

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HarnWorld 40th Anniversary Edition is a hardcover book with HarnWorld, Harndex, Lythia, Kethira, and 2 full color maps (Harn and Lythia).

As the product page says: “40th-anniversary limited edition deluxe HARDCOVER of the classic fantasy role-playing setting, rich with authentic medieval detail and bonus material. Over 300 pages of full color along with a 22” x 34” map of Hârn and a 22” x 17” map of the continent of Lythia.”

It really does look amazing. And is quite heavy too. Funny thing is that I forgot the book comes with maps, so that was a rather nice surprise!

#Postbox #Harn

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Hagar the Hewer Dwarf level 2 Imagine Conan as dwarf.
Ambros Cleric level 2 Follower of Aniu, Lord of Time.
Bob the Dwarf Dwarf level 1 Midget with big beard in search of an adventure.
Vyrkainen Elf level 1 Has stunning long, flowing black hair which attracts many fair maidens who exploit his generosity and leave him destitute.

Dewsnap 2nd, Airday

“Kyle manor? Yes, just follow the trail north-west. You can't miss it!”

True, they reached a three-story estate surrounded by acres of farmland, hunting grounds, and an orange groove after a brief walk.

“We are here to offer our help to esteemed Lord Kyle!”

Vyrkainen, the newest recruit quickly demonstrated his worth by applying his famous (notorious?) silver tongue. The elf showed up in Midway looking employment for he was left coinless after his latest fling in a thorp nearby. Hagar the Generous spent a good amount on getting the elf better armed, armoured, and equipped.

“Welcome to my humble abode!” a man in his early twenties greeted the party. “Please, join me for supper. I'd like to learn more about your accomplishments and adventures. Hold back no detail, my good friends!”

Kyle family is the most affluent one in the fifteen mile radius. Young lord recently took over after his father passed away. His politeness and openness was in stark contrast to treatment given by Hara's most powerful families.

“I had my face bitten off and I survived.” Bob boasted.

“Uh, ignore my friend over here...” Hagar interjected, and shared his exploits of breaking the spy ring in Hara, surviving many expeditions to various dungeons, and more. His humbleness and insistence to give credit where credit is due made lord Kyle cheer and rain compliments upon the dwarf.

In turn, Vyrkainen made sure to praise and encourage the young lord at every opportunity. As the wine was flowing so was the conversation.

“Friends, I've recently discovered my family owns the Cedarwade keep. Yes! The fort that held back barbarian hordes in olden days! That one!”

“Alas, woe is me! I have sent my men to inspect it and they were shocked to find it inhabited by disgusting hobgoblins. They wouldn't return no matter how much I offered them!”

“Friends, is that something you could take care of? I'd be immensely grateful for that!”

“Dear Lord, of course!” Vyrkainen chirped “Now, if only I had some sort of ranged weapon for this dangerous mission... A bow perhaps...” he continued.

“Master Elf, worry not!” Kyle boasted, nearly falling off the chair “You shall have my finest hunting bow! And one—nay!, two full quivers!”

“Your generosity knows no bounds, my Lord!”

Young man was quite inebriated by this point, unlike the dwarves who kept guzzling whatever alcohol was made available to them. Unfortunately, that also meant that they weren't able to learn more about the keep.

“Friends, I must excuse myself. I had too much drink, too much excitement. You have greatly regaled me with your tales. Please, stay the night. If you so desire, tomorrow you can look through the archives and see if you can find anything of interest about the keep.”

Indeed, adventurers accepted the Lord's offer, slept well, and spent the next day rummaging through old parchments. They found out that the keep is at least a hundred years old, has rectangular shape with four towers on each corner and gatehouse facing south, and is designed to be efficiently manned by 24 persons. There should be a well connected to underground stream, as well as a small underground dungeon. It was not clear if the latter had been built or just planned.

Dewsnap 4th–7th

Following the trail upstream river Cedarwade led the party to the Lord Kyle's keep. It was just like on the plans: a square-shaped fort with four towers and a gatehouse. What wasn't on the plans is that it is situated in a clearing approximately 300 yards wide.

The party kept a low profile and circled the keep sticking to the treeline. Thus they found out that each tower is manned with two humanoid shapes holding long-shafted weapons, and that the gatehouse doors are missing. The opening was blocked by two wagons parked sideways.

Adventurers found a safe spot to camp and keep an eye on the fort. They spent three days observing it. By doing so they learned that there is more activity during night than day, that sometimes smoke comes out of north and west side, and that tower guards operate in at least three shifts.

“Don't they go hunting? Or anything? How weird is this...”

During that time no one came out of the keep itself.

That is, until the third night, when two humanoids came out and stopped some fifty feet away from the gates. They prodded the ground ahead of them, covering area roughly 200 feet wide. And then they returned to the keep.

Feeling like they learned enough, the party headed back to Midway.

Dewsnap 7th, Waterday

“I don't trust Lord Kyle. What if he was misinformed? What if these are just some innocent blokes that moved in and are making an honest living?” Bob shared.

“Whatever the situation, they are obviously quite organised. They have watches, they have blocked the entrance, and from the last thing we've seen, they might have also set up traps.”

Vyrkainen was the one to report the state of matters to Lord Kyle. Young man stroked him temples, frowning with great worry.

“Friends, these are not good news. How do we solve this? Can you take care of this?”

“Yes!” the party reassured him. “But we will need more resources to get it done.”

“Whatever you need, I'll cover the expenses. You will stay at the Lonesome Drake Inn. For equipment go to Osgood, just tell her I will take care of the bill.”

The party left Kyle estate and headed back to Midway. There were plans to be made.

“Hey, I want to visit this store. Maybe they have things that would help us see better.” Bob pointed.

This store being “Tinker's Trinkets,” run by Tinker the Gnome, a retired adventurer hailing from Ractuan. All he had to offer was overpriced junk and a promise to “show you the good things” but only if they pay the showing price first. Such generous offer was quickly shot down by the party.

“Could you get us a spyglass?”

“Of course! You pay now and I get it for you!”

“When?”

“Oh, who knows? Maybe tomorrow, maybe in a week, maybe in a year!”

“Bah, forget about it.”

“Your dwarven friend here...” Tinker pointed to Hagar “Yes, the one with big muscles... Would you be willing to sell the spear?”

“No, thank you.”

“Come on, I'll give you fifty gold coins and a magical ointment which makes you see further!”

“No, thank you.”

Adventurers retreated to rest and wind down at the Lonesome Drake Inn. Alas, no rest to be had there, either!

Boris, the proprietor, asked if they could help him with a problem. After they nodded, he invited them to his room, to speak in private. Then he had to suffer a bunch of sexual innuendos, before sharing his issue.

“Uh, I heard you are working with Lord Kyle. My problem is, uh, smaller, but still... You see, I was renovating my cellar, and, uh, how to say this, I, hm, uh, I... I found a secret doors behind a heavy closet. They are thick, reinforced, had a padlock and bolted bar.”

“Of course, we would be happy to help. But we must discuss compensation, our dear friend.”

“Yes, yes, of course. Would fifty gold coins suffice?”

“To open the doors? Yes! But, if there happens to be a pile of unguarded treasure behind those doors, then we claim half of it!”

“What! This is my cellar! Thirty percent and no more!”

“Forty percent and we have a deal!”

“Fine!”

Bob yawned audibly.

“OK, we'll look into it the next thing tomorrow.”

“Nooo, can't you look into it right now? Please? Come on... I haven't been able to sleep ever since I found the doors!”

“OK, OK, stop whining. We will do it right now.”

“Great! Please follow me!”

The doors were just as Boris described them.

“Now, these look like something designed to keep something in!”

“What... why would you say that?! Oh my!” Boris went pale.

“Calm down, we will take care of it.”

Hagar broke the padlock with a might swing. Next he spent nearly an hour bending and banging on the bolt. All the while Bob kept an ear to the nearby wall, trying to hear if anything makes a sound on the other side.

“Broken!”

Adventurers pulled the doors open... A whiff of stale, damp air came to them. A low, dug tunnel presented itself. Not a fifty feet in, and the tunnel broke into a natural cave tunnel perpendicular to it.

“Left or right?”

“Flip a coin.”

“Left.”

The party moved, followed by Boris carrying a lit torch.

“Wow.”

“Whoa.”

Boris gasped audibly, and went even paler than before.

They stood at the ledge overseeing a large cave; larger than their torchlight could reach. The floor was littered with bones, skulls, totems, and fetishes. Every ten feet or so was an upright spear with a skull on top and something hanging from it.

“This is perfectly normal, calm down Boris. We will investigate.”

The party backtracked and explored the other direction.

This time they ran into a bunch of boulders blocking way forward. These were obviously brought here from somewhere else.

“I see something...”

Indeed, a top of the door frame could be seen behind the boulders.

“There is something carved above the doors...” Vyrkainen spotted.

“Great, you are good at languages. How about you go read it?”

“Who, me? Sure, why not.”

The elf got on all fours and begun his climb. The dwarves followed.

“It's an orcish script... language too...”

“What does it say?”

“Turbish. That's an orc name.”

Is this a tomb or a throne room?

Only one way to find out.

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Ability score checks seem to be of those things people either love or hate. I personally avoid them as much as possible. As long as player characters have enough time and appropriate resources, they can make it. And even when there is something to roll, I first look to saves or some other existing resolution systems. Then, and only then I'd consider rolling an ability score check using the Judges Guild system (d00 roll under, doubles result in injury).

Whichever game I play or run, I like to know (or have a feeling for) the odds. This enables me to make educated decisions about the risk, which in turn helps me decide what to do (or how to adjust difficulty if I'm the Judge). With d20 and d00 it is quite easy: a pip is either 5% or 1%. +/-1 then is either +/-5% or +/-1%. But the moment we introduce dice pools, the uniform distribution is gone and we get normal distribution instead. What are the odds then?

With that being said, Xd6 systems have been present since the beginning (e.g. loyalty and morale check). Robert Fisher house rule was inspired by The Fantasy Trip's system which basically adds or removes dice based on how challenging something is.

Here are the odds of rolling ability score or less on Xd6 (rounded to two decimals):

ABILITY SCORE 1d6 2d6 3d6 4d6 5d6 6d6 7d6 8d6
3 50.00% 8.32% 0.46% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
4 66.68% 16.65% 1.85% 0.08% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
5 83.35% 27.76% 4.63% 0.39% 0.01% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
6 100.00% 41.64% 9.26% 1.16% 0.08% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
7 100.00% 58.30% 16.20% 2.70% 0.27% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00%
8 100.00% 72.18% 25.93% 5.40% 0.72% 0.06% 0.00% 0.00%
9 100.00% 83.29% 37.50% 9.72% 1.62% 0.18% 0.01% 0.00%
10 100.00% 91.62% 50.00% 15.90% 3.24% 0.45% 0.04% 0.00%
11 100.00% 97.17% 62.50% 23.92% 5.88% 0.99% 0.12% 0.01%
12 100.00% 99.94% 74.07% 33.56% 9.80% 1.97% 0.28% 0.03%
13 100.00% 100.00% 83.80% 44.37% 15.20% 3.59% 0.61% 0.08%
14 100.00% 100.00% 90.74% 55.63% 22.15% 6.08% 1.21% 0.18%
15 100.00% 100.00% 95.37% 66.44% 30.52% 9.65% 2.21% 0.38%
16 100.00% 100.00% 98.15% 76.08% 39.97% 14.46% 3.79% 0.74%
17 100.00% 100.00% 99.54% 84.10% 50.00% 20.58% 6.12% 1.37%
18 100.00% 100.00% 100.00% 90.28% 60.03% 27.94% 9.39% 2.37%

Now, let's narrow it to four categories suggested by Robert (rounded):

ABILITY SCORE EASY
2d6
MODERATE
3d6
HARD
4d6
VERY HARD
5d6
3 8% 0% 0% 0%
4 17% 2% 0% 0%
5 28% 5% 0% 0%
6 42% 9% 1% 0%
7 58% 16% 3% 0%
8 72% 26% 5% 1%
9 83% 38% 10% 2%
10 92% 50% 16% 3%
11 97% 63% 24% 6%
12 100% 74% 34% 10%
13 100% 84% 44% 15%
14 100% 91% 56% 22%
15 100% 95% 66% 31%
16 100% 98% 76% 40%
17 100% 100% 84% 50%
18 100% 100% 90% 60%

If I were to use the above, I'd probably include the table in the house rules document so players can make an informed decision. And for me as well, so I can gauge difficulty. Although there is some allure for the notion of “simply” adding d6 dice for how challenging something is, I think I'll stick to my approach of first hearing out how players want to do something, and then picking the most appropriate resolution mechanism.

#Resource #DnD #OSR

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Derennan Dwarf level 3 A dwarf hailing from Western Wastes.
Llyfed Elf level 3 Thin and balding elf whom also happens to be Rashomon's friend.
Nolmbork Dwarf level 2 Portly, bald, red bearded, with an epic nose. On a mission to have a drink in every settlement in Wilderlands.
Elvis Elf level 1 An elf.
Oberon Fighter level 3 A tall, supple hunter adorned with bones and horns of his prey.

Thawmist 16th, Airday

“I banish ye to the grave you came from!”

Tarkus roared with the last atoms of strength in his body whilst brandishing an open book, the holy symbol of Bachontoi, God of Red Wisdom.

Bright crimson light flashed the chamber, forcing the undead to flee in terror. The cleric collapsed to his knees, completely expired. He felt warmth as red light washed over him.

Nolmbork, Llyfed, and Oberon first watched in awe, then in confusion, as Tarkus vanished and confused elf appeared in his place.

“Pardon my language, but who the fuck are you?” Llyfed inquired politely.

“I'm Elvis.” the elf politely replied.

“The king is with us! We are saved!”

Derennan was still prostrated, stiff and motionless, on the ground.

“The ghouls will return any moment. Which way do we go back?”

Following a brief discussion the decision has been made to go all the way back to the doors that were flanked by banners with yellow hyena head.

Oberon and Elvis carried paralysed Derennan, while Llyfed and severely injured Nolmbork led the way.

Derennan recovered his facilities just in time to assist with lifting the portcullis.

“Pssst, I hear sobs?”

Indeed, Derennan picked up quiet weeps and snorts coming from the chamber filled with thick, azure fog.

“Derennan, Derennan!” child-like voices cried in Dwarven “Big nasty brutes took away our toys! They laughed as we tried to take them back! Derennan, Derennan! You are a hero, please get it back for us!”

Derennan Derennan calmed the ghosts and assured them he will do something about it. The party navigated the fog chamber and successfully found their way out.

“Be careful. The doors are probably trapped.” Indeed, multiple holes were on both sides of the door, going from ankle- to head-height.

Wounded Nolmbork found a safe spot in the chamber and rested a bit. Invisible hands braided what little remained of his beard and hair.

Llyfed and Oberon watched the doors, painfully aware of how it went last time they went into the place with similar banners.

Derennan pressed on the floor with his polearm. Nothing much happened—until he put his whole bodyweight on it.

A number of spears went out, effectively blocking access to the doors. But that did not prevent Elvis from wiggling his hips between the opening of the speartips.

He gingerly passed, tied a rope around the stone door handle, and passed it to Llyfed. The party gently pulled the doors ajar. Elvis peeked in. It was a large, dimly illuminated chamber. And it reeked.

Five figures sat around a campfire in the middle of the room. Two big, hulking; three smaller, but still larger and hairier than an average human, sulking.

Elvis stepped in, just beyond the doors, cleared his throat, and then cast Charm Person on the largest monster in range. Then he fled back, shut the doors, and wiggled between the tips.

“Wasn't the plan to go in and talk to them?”

“Do you want to talk to them?”

“No, we just wait for them to come out and then we talk to them.”

“But no one is coming out.”

“Should we, and by we I mean you, go back in?”

Not even a minute later and Elvis was wiggling once more.

The door flung open as soon as the elf placed his hand on the handle. And no, it was not due to his incredible strength.

A ten foot tall and five feet wide brute dressed in loincloth stood in the door frame, towering over Elvis. It looked wholly unimpressed by this band of tattered and torn adventures.

Llyfed and company recognised the monster, for it was the same one it relieved them of all their coin just an hour or so ago. The spears slowly retracted into the walls. Adventurers accepted the ogre's invitation to enter the chamber.

They were greeted by a second, smaller ogre, holding open a sack. The party threw in all their remaining valuables—mostly coins and shiny objects recovered in the chamber adjoining the one with the pit.

This seventy by seventy feet room was lit by a number of torches in sconces, as well as campfire in the centre. Of three hyena-like humanoids, only one was standing. The remaining two remained seating by the fire. Ogres rejoined them, counting their new gains. The standing gnoll operated a disc-like protrusion next to the doors.

Once it finished, it took a good look at the adventurers and licked its lips. The party offered themselves as mercenaries. Negotiations were led by Llyfed, who is fluent in Gnoll, while Elvis was translating for Derennan, Nolmbork, and Oberon.

The gnoll howled with laughter, wondering why should they hire someone so beat up and pathetic. After all, they just voluntarily handed over everything they had to two big guys.

Elvis offered one ration in exchange for safe passage. This too was laughed off. Alas, this triggered the brains of two sitting gnolls—they just realised they have some juicy, tender elf flesh right in front of them. What a treat that would be after weeks of rats and vermin!

“Children” Derennan spoke in soft voice “you should leave now. Go to the fog and play there. I'll bring you your toys soon.”

He did not want them to witness what was about to go down.

In final desperate attempt to negotiate, Llyfed mentioned scrolls of great magic. Surely that is worth something!

“Wait...” the gnoll snapped as he held the two hungry ones back “Do you know the land above? Can you draw it?”

“Yes. How about a deal? You lead us out and we make you a map.”

“No. I take you to our leader and you talk with him.”

Adventurers now whispered amongst themselves, agreeing to go along. What else do they have to lose? The two dwarves were ready to fight to the bitter end anyway.

Party was escorted down the winding corridors until a T-shaped junction. They took the right doors, into a chamber reeking of refuse and wet hair. A dozen of gnolls nearly jumped from excitement as they've seen five captured pinkies enter.

“Down!” the chatty gnoll barked, and led the party into another chamber, this one behind a portcullis jammed open with five portcullis.

There adventurers met Wa Ba, chieftain of the Tattered Fort tribe. They promptly insulted him by letting him know they met his king few miles up north, to which Wa Ba went mad with rage.

“King?! King?! I am the king! I am the chief of mighty Tattered Fort tribe! There is no king over me!”

It didn't get much better for our band of negotiators. Refusing to accept their situation, they demanded more than they could get, and offered a lot less than was asked for. In the end the inevitable happened.

Derennan gripped his polearm and skewered the closest gnoll. Nolmbork took out two oil flasks and jumped at one of the beastmen. Elvis, Llyfed, and Oberon pulled their weapons too.

Wa Ba growled with ecstasy, and charged the party. As did all the other gnolls in the chieftain's chamber. Elvis was slain with one might strike. Derennan took more punishment, but succumbed as well.

Nolmbork, our injured Nolmbork, did not fare much better. He was beaten senseless. Llyfed parried and blocked, back to back with Oberon. With the fighter going down, Llyfed was completely surrounded and pounded upon. The lights went out for him too.

Last thing he heard were cackles.

So disrespectful.

Discuss at Dragonsfoot forum.

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