Attronarch's Athenaeum

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


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Character Class Description
Rashomon Elf level 2 A dangerous looking elf.
Lyffed Elf level 1 Thin and balding elf whom also happens to be Rashomon's friend.
Basso Halfling level 1 A stable boy whom got tired of shovelling horse shit.
Gwendin Cleric level 1 A follower of Bondor, god of swords, carrying a sacred silver scimitar.


Character Class Description
Hagar the Hewer Dwarf level 1 Imagine Conan as dwarf.
Rangar the Bull Fighter level 1 Titanic, dark-skinned figure wearing bull-headed helmet and a harness with countless weapons strapped to it.

Blackmoon 4th, Fireday

Two weeks.

That's how long it took Rashomon to recover from his ordeal.




He barely escaped being sold into slavery—much due to Lyffed's quick thinking and silver tongue.

Also due to Lyffed's clumsy walking, which landed him in pit trap just in time to avoid Rashomon's captors.

“We ought to head back and pick up the rest of Golding's treasure.”

Alas, they couldn't find any of the men they adventured with in the last few months they've been in Hara.

So they resorted to recruiting Basso, a halfling whom had arrived to Hara from Antil couple of days ago, and Gwendin, a plain looking heavy-set lady wielding a silver scimitar.

The quarter reached the ruined tower by noon.

They immediately dove right back in, moving with great speed.

“Stop. This isn't as it was.”

Surprised that things in dungeons change, especially if there has been two weeks since they visited it, the party stopped to observe weird footprint sized puddles.

They were in the room with the secret passage leading into Golding's lair. The wet footprints were between north-east doors, the one with the pit trap, and open secret passageway. Calling them footprints isn't really correct, for they were more like a chaotic arrangement of small, foul smelling puddles.

“Stop. I can hear something.”

The party flanked the secret tunnel and listened.

“Bah, give me the leg, the leg, the juicy leg!”

“No, it should be fermented first!”

Gwendin could understand the primitive grunts.


“Pssst. How many can you hear?”

“Three to five voices...”

“Cover that torch. We shall surprise them.”

The elves led the charge, with halfling and cleric immediately behind them.

Three goblins were crouching around rotting corpses of thugs Rashomon and Lyffed left behind on the previous visit.

The quartet immediately downed one.

“No, I don' wanna dieeeeeeeee!” cried the other whilst running against the wall.

“Augh! Ouch!” yelled the third as he pretended to die slowly. He threw himself dramatically to the ground, and smeared some offal on his face.

Alas, the count was wrong.

A number of arrows and javelins came at the party from the darkness. Even worse, the elves could hear ritualistic chanting from afar.

“Let me take the front!” Basso moved in, switching with one of the elves just in time to get hit with a vial of acid. From the goblin pretending to be dead, nonetheless.

“No, I wanna liveeeeee!” the wall-huger cried as Gwendin killed him with pebbles.

A cone of flame illuminated the chamber, burning Lyffed. The source was goblin with wild eyes and necklace made of bones. He wielded a primitive staff topped with humanoid skull, and sported an unfashionable satchel fashioned of human skin.

Despite their overwhelming numbers, the goblin party was quickly subdued with a combination of arcane trickery—Sleep, twice—and indiscriminate violence. Two fled for their lives, crying like snivelling buffoons.

Frisking the corpses yielded impressive 49 copper pieces, a parchment of human skin with pseudo-arcane scribbles, and a leather satchel.

The elves noticed something that would cause lesser man much more cause for concern. Many of the corpses were missing. And those that were still here were badly mangled, defaced, and gnawed. By something that had much bigger jaws than these pathetic goblins.

“We should retreat back to Hara. We are too injured to continue.”

And so they did.

Blackmoon 10th, Spiritday

Judging they lack the “proper” muscle, party resorted to hiring two hulks: Hagar the Hewer, Conan-like dwarf they knew from before, and Rangar the Bull, a mountain of a man strapped with ridiculous amount of weapons.

They arrived back to the dungeon around noon, and like before, dove right back in.

The puddles were larger than before! Human corpses were now completely gone, and there were only a few goblin corpses left. Ignoring that, the party pressed on through the secret chamber and into the corridor where Rashomon and Lyffed tricked the thugs guarding the sleeping chamber.

There was no one there. No guards, no nothing.

Party moved south, going into the chamber where Golding and his retinue slept. The chamber where they killed Belak the Dwarf.

Improvised desk in south-east corner was demolished. Two chests it rested lied broken open, devoid of any valuables. “Hawk waz hir” was gauged in the wood panel that served as the tabletop.


Belak was decaying. His face, eyes, tongue, and jaw were missing.

“Check the south doors, maybe?”


“Let me try.” Rashomon pushed forward, sporting an iron key he had recovered from Golding's corpse.

“It fits!”

And empty chamber, thirty by thirty feet.

Completely plain.

Not even decorations like in all the other chambers.

Closed doors were visible on the other side of the room.

“Uh-huh, this is a trap.”

Hagar grabbed Belak's corpse and threw it ten feet into the room.


The corpse fell down in two chunks.

Something flew out eastwards from the south wall; too fast to be observed by human eye.

“See, the groove, very thin, but groove all the same!”

Even elves had to squint to observe the subtle groove running full circumference of the room.



The sound interrupted the party's discussion on what to do next.

“Allow me.”

Rangar the Bull stepped forward and smacked the floor with his greatsword.

Ultrasonic scythe, or whatever that thing was, broke Rangar's sword before he even managed to hit the ground. It sent the tip flying until it bounced right off the smooth wall and fell down to the ground with a clang.

“I'm quite sure we have some time before the trap resets. Come!”

“Stop, another groove!”

This one was running from north to south wall, splitting the room in half.


Hagar picked up Belak's half and threw it on the groove. The half got halved.

“Quickly, move!”

“Damn, another groove...”

This time it ran from east to west wall, similarly to the one they encounter when entering the room.

“I'll take care of it...”

Alas, a quarter of Belak was not enough to trigger the trap.

“What now?”

“We have to get out, we are standing in the middle of a death trap!”

The party discussed for so long they forgot some of them were standing dangerously close to the groove. Basso nearly paid for that mistake with his life.

“Here! Can't you see it?!”

Rashomon and Lyffed spotted a nearly invisible gossamer thread running over the groove at roughly shin height.

“That must be the trigger!”

No matter how they tried, neither humans, nor halfling, nor dwarf could see it.

“Well, are you willing to put your theory to test?”

The elves jumped over.

Nothing happened.

“You see? Come on!”

Soon everyone jumped over and moved into the room beyond the easily openable doors.

There a wide chamber prostrated itself to the adventurers.

A round dais stood in the center, atop which a stone cube rested. They were surrounded with columns that were decorated with shapes of straight, sharp lines. Think rectangles, squares, triangles, and similar.

“Gwendin, you have gift for languages. There is something on top of this stone cube.”

“I'll take a look.”

She approached gingerly, avoiding touching anything.

Rest of the party spread out, searching for traps, secret doors and passageways.

Despite her amazing gift of languages, the cleric struggled to decipher the text.

“Eleven... shiny... gifts...”

Judging ambush to be unlikely, due to the trap room behind them, the party gave Gwendin plenty of time to work on the text.

“Eleven shiny gifts for the curious. Or something like that. That is all I can make of it.”

Hagar, being a dwarf, could appreciate how masterfully the stone cube was made. Joints were invisible, surfaces nearly perfect, and lid almost invisible. In fact, the lid was flush with the top. A depression barely an inch wide ran the whole circumference of the lid. It looked few inches deep. Just enough to push your fingers in.

The dwarf ran an iron spike around it. Nothing ill came to life. In doing so he found that each side of the cube had two more depression, on the inner side of the groove. If one were to push in the hands, then these horizontal holes would be perfect for fingers. Perfect to get a good grip and lift the lid. Too perfect.

The lid seemed impressively heavy.

“Come bull boy, help me out.”

Hagar took the north-east corner of the cuber, and Rangar took the south-west corner. Hagar pushed his right hand into the north groove, and left hand into the east groove. Rangar pushed his left hand into west groove, and right hand into south groove.

They nodded to each other, tensed their grips, and begun lifting the lid.

Oh the power!

Oh how their muscles bulged!

Oh how their foreheads rained sweat!

Oh how countless giant insects crawled out, following their muscular arms!

Oh how they bit them!

Oh how they injected their venoms!

Oh how Rangar fell to the ground!

Oh how he got to suffer each and every bite without being able to scream!

Oh how Hagar crushed all the giant vermin on him!

Oh how Gwendin fell victim to the insects!

Oh how Rashomon saved the day once again by casting Sleep!

Rangar and Gwendin were still alive, but too weak to move. They could only—barely—breathe.

“I still want to see what is inside...”

The party move two immobile members against the east wall.

Hagar again manned two sides, while Basso and Lyffed each had to take one side. Rashomon stood, ready to crush any more vermin coming out.

A giant centipede tried to poke out. It was cleaved in half.


The disappointment was audible.

“There is some text on the bottom.”

“Gwendin isn't in shape to study it...”

“Why don't you cast your Read Languages, so it is useful at least once?”

Lyffed proceeded to do so.

“Just as I feared. Whomever made this is mocking us.”

“Curiosity killed the cat.” read the text on the bottom of the stone coffer.

“Close it.”

“How do we exit? We can't carry them over the trap?”

“Why don't we check the south-east doors?”


“Try the key?”

“It fits!”

“Oh no...”

Smaller room, dominated with an elevated round dais in the center, atop which a stone cylinder was resting. It was flanked with four columns, each decorated with curvy lines.

They entered, locked the doors behind them, placed two downed member in the corner, and decided to rest. It's difficult to track time underground, but dwarf knew they rest for approximately half an hour.

“Something is here!”

“Look, it's the same mechanism as the secret passageway we found under the staircase.”

“Let's open it and see where it goes!”

“I recognise this room! Ahead will be another room, and then the room with swinging pendulums. From there we can quickly reach the exit!”

“Let's go!”

The mobile quartet split in two duos, each carrying one immobile member. They moved out with great speed.

“Well, well, well, who do we have here?”

They heard just as they exited the broken dome leading into the dungeon under the ruined tower.

The man speaking was of respectable stature; dressed in chain mail, with shield and hand-axe. A crude drawing of hawk adorned his shield.

Alas, the party was surprised.

“Adventurers, by the look of it!” another man in chain shirt chimed in, mockery dripping from his foul mouth.

“What?! In MY dungeon? Surely that isn't possible!”

“Cheeky, yes, cheeky.”

“And look at them, all beat up. Look, these two can't even stand on their own.”

“Even worse, look, what a freak show. Elves, dwarves, halflings...”


“Now, since this is your first infringement, we will let you go easy. First you will hand over anything you have found in our dungeon. Second, you will pay... you will pay... erm...”


“Yes! You will pay ONE HUNDRED GOLD COINS!”

There were three more men with them, one in chain, two in leather.

Basso put down Gwendin gently, and then put his arms in a friendly gesture “Ah you must be the great Hawk. We have heard much of you. We already have left you tribute my friend you see we left two wooden chests for you after killing the owner of them.”

Rashomon and Lyffed recognised the two talkers: the bigger one is Hawkwerth, and the older one is Oldham; both late Gildree's former retainers.

“You-you did that?!” Oldham stammered.

“Calm your tits!” Hawkwerth whispered to him, and then blurted out “We would've killed them ourselves! But we have big brains so we let evil adventurers kill each other!

Once we were down and there was a group of adventurers so stupid they ran into the pendulum trap! Ha! And they had to flee from some bugs! But not us. We nicely positioned ourselves and led the bugs to their deaths.

“So you better don't mess with us!”

“Actually, we do know you.” said Rashomon calmly. “If you really insist on a fight, we can do to you worse than we did to Gildree. You're better off going down and scavenging what we left after killing Golden and his gang. We're done here.”

Hagar cracked his knuckles, bringing out the pythons.

Hawk and his gang just stood there, dumbly.

Basso put up his hands calmly “Everyone here calm down. Just think for a moment here. If we fight you might get one of our injured fellas but after that we outnumber and kill ye. The simple thing here is we just both go our own way and mind our business.”

“Why, you little–”

“Calm down Hawk, calm down.”

Oldham stopped Hawkwerth from coming at Basso, pulling him away.

“You freaks will hear more of us! Travelling circus!”

“Step out of our way if you know what's good for you. We can each go on our way or we can have our fight. I assure you that our four healthy colleagues can do more to you five than you can begin to imagine.” Lyffed spoke menacingly.

Hawk kept throwing insults while Oldham pushed him away. There was enough room for party to exit the dome. Basso and picked up Gwendin and slowly walked by the agitators. Hagar helped Rangar, while Rashomon and Lyffed watched the thugs with unfriendly smiles on their faces. They pushed past them, ready for a fight.

“Yeah, just you flee! I better not see you in Hara! Clowns!” Hawk yelled, choking on his own spit.

Rashomon smiled right back at him.

Hawk flipped them off and then led his party into the dungeon.

Discuss at Dragonsfoot forum.

#Wilderlands #SessionReport

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Judges Guild lot!


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Huh, I guess I accidentaly answered this on tenth day:

At the moment I consider Goodman Games' take on Dying Earth and Lankhmar to be the best pieces of tie-in fiction. From insane production qualities to great care and love put into the publications, there is little reason not to pick them up—especially when on sale!


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This weekend I had the pleasure of attending Liburnicon, a charming regional SF & fantasy convention. Keynote speaker was Monte Cook, who delivered two talks. There were no OSR games played; perhaps I will offer to run a convention session using Original Edition rules set in Wilderlands of High Fantasy.

So, first talk by Monte Cook was “Into the Depths of the Earth”, which was in essence about dungeons and their importance to the game.

It was nice seeing the original edition referenced. I was a bit surprised that he showcased S1 as classic dungeon, but then again he said “Oh, this picture shouldn't be here.” From dungeon design perspective he was focused on entertaining players and what not, which I expected given his play style and preferences.

He showed a large map from Tim Hartin / Paratime Design as an example of kind of map he likes (alongside few others I did not recognise).

Monte is a good speaker so audience was quite engaged. Q&A, which went for a little bit over an hour was more interesting, especially hearing anecdotes from his TSR days, thoughts on adventure design, publishing, and so on. I asked him about his favourite classic adventure, and he went with D3 Vault of the Drow out of all the modules.

There were some questions about OSR play style as well (which surprised me since this was a small con in a small country in a small town), to which Monte gave a solid answer (it's deadly, it's one way of playing, me and my group didn't play like that back in the day). There was of course bashing of rations and torches.

Second talk he gave was “The Best Players Have the Best Games,” which was about tips for GMs and players.

His tips for gamemasters are:

  • Provide meaningful choices, i.e. different options that lead to different consequences.
  • Understand players' and player characters' motivations and play to them.
  • Create a shared imaginary space by providing brief descriptions and inviting players to ask questions. Give attention to what they inquire into.
  • Be mindful of pacing; follow the energy.
  • Start with a bang (e.g., something to interact with); end with a mystery (e.g., open question).
  • Remember that there is more to game than just combat.
  • Evoke emotion whenever possible. For example have an NPC that is genuinely good and not out there to fuck up PCs. Have him serve cookies to PCs. And then get that PC in trouble with bad guys.
  • Check in with players on a regular basis.

And his tips for players were:

  • Create an appropriate character for the campaign you are joining.
  • Be curious and interested; ask many questions about the world.
  • Be flexible, and open to conversation.
  • Create and add to the world, e.g. through your items, backstory, relationship with other characters, and so on.
  • Be okay with failure. Just because you wanted a castle by name level, and failed to achieve so, does not mean you nor your character are a failure.
  • Play how you want, but let others play how they want.
  • Share the spotlight; pay attention to quiet players and invite them to contribute.
  • Get to know the rules and the world. You shouldn't be asking how to do an attack roll three years into the game.
  • Be a good guest or host.

He also mentioned that there is more advice for both game masters and players in his book Your Best Game Ever. His talk was good enough to get me to buy; but I yet have to read it.

Q&A portion was shorter this time. I asked him to share more about online sessions, but he gave a very general response (talk with players, have shorter sessions, have breaks, leverage digital tools).

Both talks were recorded; they will be published at the organiser's official YouTube channel when ready.

#Convention #Liburnicon

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Dungeons & Dragons, of course.

Either the original or first advanced edition.

Set in the Wilderlands of High Fantasy, no doubt.


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The Lost City of Barakus!

My favourite Necromancer Games mega-dungeon—because it is so much more! You get a starting city (with seven adventures), a wilderness area (with 26 keyed encounters and mini adventures), and a mega-dungeon with interesting factions and cool big-bad. Suitable for low-level parties.

Get the Swords & Wizardry version, as well as local and regional maps.


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Although I'm very, very partial to Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia, lately I've been finding the call of the original Dungeons & Dragons rules too difficult to resist. Yes, it is a product of times, but that only makes it more attractive to me. There is everythign there to have an incredibly rich game, without the bloat of latter editions (looking at you 2e!).

Of more modern renditions, or rather retro-clones, I find Swords & Wizardry Complete and Adventurer Conqueror King System to be great, complementary games. The former as front-end, i.e. what the players see, and the former as back-end, i.e. what the Judge uses to flesh out the world, clarify the rulings, run economy, and so on.


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I don't play funny games.


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