Posts Tagged ‘boasts



22
Jun
10

Do Not Read Fight On #9 If…

Pity my poor players, for whom some of the content of this excellent zine is off-limits

The new issue of Fight On is out now. Among the many awesome things it contains is an adventure called “Caves of the Beast Mistress”, which I wrote both as a tribute to Paul Jaquays’ Caverns of Thracia and “Night of the Walking Wet” and a memorial to my friend Sang Lee, whose monster illustrations grace the adventure.

Players in my White Sandbox campaign are hereby forbidden from checking out this part of the issue until they’re sure they won’t want to pursue any still-unexplored directions within the “side entrance” to the Beast Lord’s cave!

When y’all finally do clear these areas, the reward for your patience will be seeing that the names of the characters from the last few sessions are credited as playtesters.

EDIT: You may have trouble finding my contribution to this issue in the table of contents, as your attention is likely to be distracted by the familiar-looking name of  Eric Minton: Purchasing Potions (p. 25) and Grognard’s Grimoirs (p. 114). I am mortified to have forgotten to celebrate Eric’s pieces, which I hope will inaugurate an ongoing takeover of all printed matter everywhere by Mules.

27
May
10

we killed the beast lord. you missed it.

The Beast Lord enjoys his last meal

Tavis’s White Sandbox campaign is largely centered around Paul Jaquays’s 1979 masterpiece, The Caverns of Thracia.  On Saturday night, we defeated its arch-villain, Stronghoen the Beast Lord.

Thirty-seven players and fifty-five characters have played in the sandbox over its twenty-two session lifespan, and they’ve all been gunning for this moment.

What was most impressive to me is that defeating the villain was a beautiful team effort, in which everyone at the table that night played a part.

The Cast

Ookla the Mok, Elvish Ranger
Theos, Dwarven Magic-User (played by JoeTheLawyer)
Lotur the Scurrying Cur, a Fighting-Human (played by Greengoat)
Thales, a Faun
Arnold Littleworth, a Human Magic-User (played by me)
John Fighter, a Fighting-Human
Merselon the Magnificent, a Fighting-Human
Lucky, a Fighting-Hobbit (played by Eric)
THE SPIRITS OF ALL RED BOX CHARACTERS EVERYWHERE

Snapshots of Awesome

Ookla the Mok

Fred the Talking Fish (billion years old, made out of wood, you wear it around your neck, it never shuts up–in short, don’t ask!) cast an illusion on Ookla so that he looks like an Ixchel wearing a sombrero. Ookla would spend the next several hours going “Boogita-boogita-boo!” to every NPC in the game. (Dave had another awesome moment below, but I’m not sure if it was OOC brainstorming or in character.)

Theos the Renegade Dwarven Magician

Armed with our wand of paralyzation, Theos – unafraid to scout ahead – immobilized half a dozen slime-monsters which exploded out of barrels dropped by an especially pesky group of vines.  (He later made a pretty strong bid to operate the wand of wonder while high, which given Tavis’s glee at the idea would have been disastrous but showed massive courage.)

Lotur the Scurrying Cur

After overcoming a swarm of slime-monsters, Lotur ran up the side of a cave wall, and jumped down in front of a female Minotaur so impressively that she decided to worship him.

Thales the Faun, a Faun

Being half-goat means you can haltingly communicate to half-cows. (Who knew?) Thales managed to interview the female Minotaur, discovering much about their lair.

Arnold “Zolobachai” Littleworth

Armed with this information, Arnold cast Zolobachai’s Impertinent Invitation and strolled into a Minotaur Sorority Party. When his attempt to poison everyone failed, he made friends with their Druid-Queen Raven Gargamel.

(It turns out Raven’s gang views the Beast Lord as a sell-out to the lich roaming the dungeon, and she agreed to help fight the Lich if we first neutralized the Beast Lord.  She gave us a straight line of access to the Beast Lord’s palace.  I am pretty sure she didn’t want us to kill him, cannibalize his body for trophies, and then cook what was left in Arnold’s trusty frying pan, but all good relationships are built on keeping some facts strictly to yourself.)

John Fighter, True King of Thracia

With the help of our scouts, John found a group of ten were-bears whom we sorta knew.  After getting the bears good and drunk on Lucky’s dwarven ale, he promised them half the Beast Lord’s treasure if they would help us fight. Were-Bears are 6 HD monsters who cannot be injured by normal weapons – in other words, far more bad-ass than we are.

(So, with 8 of John’s soldiers, and 10 were-bears, we stormed the Beast Lord’s citadel. Everyone did brave things. Kudos especially to Ookla’s player, who ingeniously suggested using illusionary Harpies to trick the victims of a real Harpy’s mind-control powers. I don’t know if this was suggested in-character, so maybe it’s not an Awesome Thing for Ookla, but it was still damn clever, and built on an idea Joe had.)

Merselon the Magnificent

After the gang demolished six Gnolls, five Harpies and a Hydra, Stronghoen the Beast Lord and his group of Gnolls charged out at us. Though Theos managed to paralyze most of the Gnolls, Stronghoen incinerated all eight of John’s soldiers (including like 3 George Foremans) with a fire ball, which also put 5 of 7 party members at death’s door. When Arnold blinded the Beast Lord with the wand of wonder, MERSELON THE MAGNIFICENT magnificently vaulted into melee combat alone, and was the first of the Grey Company to draw the Beast Lord’s blood. For a round or two, Merselon fought the Beast Lord alone … until the Beast Lord slew him with single stroke of his enormous battle axe. It was an epic death.

Lucky the Hobbit

With Merselon down and the Were-Bears running away in terror, things looked grim. As Arnold desperately tried to revive the others, Lucky kept nailing the Beast Lord with critical after critical. As John, Ookla, and Lotur – all with 1-2 hit points – swarmed into melee, Lotur’s preposterous fumble managed to distract the Beast Lord long enough for Lucky to nail him straight through the throat with one of his deadly arrows, and as the Beast Lord fell to his knees, King John ran Stronghoen through with his blade, Heart of the Mok. (Then Arnold hit him upside the head with the busted frying pan.)

Lucky is more of a bad-ass than I'd previously assumed

Aftermath

We pretty much stopped right there: six survivors, each with one foot in the grave, gathered around the Beast Lord’s corpse in the depths of the Lost City. Though a Dog Brother was gathering reinforcements deeper in the palace and casting nefarious spells, the Slayers of the Beast Lord bowed their heads to honor all the brave souls who have soldiered at their side:

Merselon the Magnificent (Acrobat)
Christos, Assassin
Maldoor the M-U
Obscura the Illusionist
Lydio the Spider-Dwarf, M-U
Thisilyn, Cleric
Fostra, Archer
Caswin of Aeschlepius, Cleric
Emurak the multi-classed
Bartholomew Honeytongue, Cleric
Brother Gao, Cleric
Into the Mystic, Cleric
23, Robot Cleric
Myggle the Priest
Mallo Beer-bane, Cleric
Thorsten Skullsplitter (Fighting Man)
Garrett Nailo, (Cleric)
David Carradine, Monk
Colin, F-M
Tommy, M-U
Argus the Rat Knight, F-M
Narcissus, M-U
Elston, Elf
Sir Hendrik the Halfling
Garrock, Alchemist
Obamabiden the Druid
Fark the Dwarf
Dirk
Orb the M-U (and his spider)
Fletcher the Fighting Man
Janape
Bluto, F-M
Morena, F-W
Chance, Cleric
Billy the Rat
Nicholas, Cleric
Axum Maldoran (Axum)
Dr. Meridian Kaine the Cleric
Doghead the M-U
Tiburo, F-M
Wolfrey, F-M
Rebmik the Cleric
Balint, Sapper
Goo the baby Elf
Mariano the Fighting Man
Renaldo the Cleric
Florin the Dwarf
Oban the Cleric
B’Var the Fighting Man
Wallace the Caged (Fighting Man)
Mungar the Fighting Man
Tusk the Fighting Man

We could not have slain Stronghoen without their bravery, creativity, and fellowship.

14
Mar
10

looking for death in all the wrong places

Confession: I’ve spent a decent amount of time playing Dungeons & Dragons, but I’ve never fought a dragon.  Or a beholder.  Or  mind flayer.  Basically, if you look at a list of the fall-down-awesome D&D monsters, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered them.

if only that could be ME getting my brains devoured

Quiz time!  How many of these things have you encountered?  And, if you did, what happened?

  • Aboleth
  • Beholder
  • Berbalang
  • Black Pudding
  • Bulette
  • Demons (any – though my party met a Type V one time when I missed a session)
  • Devils (any)
  • Dragons
  • Drow
  • Githyanki
  • Kuo-Toa
  • Lich (though my party met one when I wasn’t around)
  • Mimic
  • Mind Flayer
  • Owlbear
  • Purple Worm
  • Rakshasa
  • Roper
  • Rust Monster
  • Salamander
  • Slaad
  • Umber Hulk
  • Xorn
  • Yellow Musk Creeper
  • Yuan-Ti

It’s a shameful, disgraceful list!  I’ve fought like a zillion freakin’ goblins, gnolls, stirges, and a gelatinous cube once or twice.   But I’ve never fought any of those.   Where the hell are the Mind Flayers?!

Part of the problem is that all these really great monsters are hiding out toward the end-game as juicy rewards to people who have put in the time, and I’ve never gotten past Level 7.  But dang it, Beholders are totally fucking beast!   Just throw one at us!  Make us run away!  Even if I get killed, I can die happy knowing that it was one of the greatest monsters in the history of RPG’s that killed me!  (Notice that a huge percentage of these things have crazy-ass ways to kill you, just like a James Bond villain is defined by his goofy weapon.)

I’m really hoping that, as Tavis’s campaign heads off into the Outer Planes and into the Underdark beneath Thracia, that we start encountering some of these guys.

Tavis, Eric –  hook a brother up with a grisly, trademark-related death!

And the rest of you – are these critters awesome to play against, or am I building them up too much by ogling the Monster Manual?  What were they like in play?

01
Mar
10

arnold and the allosaur

I’ve been bad about blogging – I’ve got little to say these days – but let me tell you about my character… (And solicit your own tales of bravery!)

Last night, while exploring the Caverns of Thracia, my 4th level Magic-User Arnold Littleworth stared down an allosaurus which had just devoured our platinum robotic liger.

Like this but made of Platinum

Rest In Peace, Loki

(Yes, we have had a platinum robotic liger.  This is not the focus of the story.)

Two things are noteworthy about this encounter:

  1. The rest of the party all ran away in terror.  I won’t kid you, I wanted to run as well.  But to the true hero, glory matters more than life itself.
  2. I cast a spell I researched: Zolobachai’s Impertinent Invitation basically allows you to mingle with monsters until the boss shows up.  Thanks to some sloppy drafting on my part, it worked perfectly in this situation.

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time in the OSR that a Magic-User has researched a brand-new spell and cast it in play. (Though I’d be happy to be proven wrong.)

Not only has Arnold, also known as Zolobachai of the Nine Visions, traveled between two different campaigns, and been immortalized in print (entirely due to Tavis’s greatness) – but he is also Using Magic like a fiend.

What crazy, foolhardy tales of derring-do has your character been up to?  For me, this is the third or fourth time Arnold has risked crazy death:

  • Arnold – no weapons, no “good” spells – brained a Lizard Man with his frying pan in his first adventure, purely to save Colin Tree-Slayer’s life.
  • Arnold – again, no weapons or “good” spells – toppled a mind-controlling statue in order to save the party
  • Arnold swindled an 11th level Wizard into eating Giant Eagle dung, in order to lift a curse on his comrade, Sir Argus the Rat-Knight
  • The whole thing with the allosaur, yadda yadda old news

So although Maldoor is smarter, and Forager is more ingenious, and John is more noble, and Ookla is more sensible, and Chrystos is funnier–I think Arnold is hands-down the bravest and most gutsy.

Like this, but alive and smelly

Yes, I Defeated You (by just barely surviving)

I’d be happy to read tales of courage in the comments!

14
Jan
10

“F1: Bag of the Feeble Condemned Old Man” Kills Orc and Pie, Takes its Stuff

Perhaps you had to have been there, but for those who were this was uniformly hilarious. In our last White Sandbox session, Greengoat’s character Lotur, aka the Sniveling Cur, aka the Slayer of the Patriarch, got himself into an unusual predicament. From Oban’s recap:

This way to Fight Bag, courtesy of Maldoor

Lotur, meanwhile had descended to the next chamber, and found a chest containing five small sacks. He picked them up and examined them; when he placed his hand into the last, he vanished, leaving the bag lying alone on the chest. The rest of the party regrouped, and went in search of Lotur. Ookla managed to follow his tracks, and the group concluded that Lotur must be in the sack.

The tomb was systematically looted, and everyone returned through the pool to the Thracian caverns and from there to the Fortress of First Principles. Patriarch Zekon examined the bag, and [discovered that] it was made to absorb two individuals and compel them to fight to the death. The winner would emerge. He suggested a prisoner could be used as Lotur’s release and found a weak, old man in the prison who was already sentenced to death. The man was armed and sent into the bag. After only a few moments, the mouth of the bag twitched and grew, and Lotur emerged, victorious.

Old-school Dungeons and Dragons is justly famed for its mini-games, and what came to be known as Fight Bag is the greatest of them all. Now, through the design skills of the talented Sternum, you can bring all of its excitement and pathos (“But I don’t want to go in the bag,” said the querulous prisoner) into your own campaign! Simply print and enjoy the PDF at this link: Dungeon Module F1: Bag of the Feeble Condemned Old Man.

Warning: Liquids drunk while reading this module may be expelled from your nose. Failure to expel said liquids may be due to well, you had to be there.

The only flaw in this otherwise perfect module is that I deserve third billing at best, behind Merle Davenport whose adventure in the September, 1976 issue of the Dungeoneer fanzine created Fight Bag and Sternum who did all the text, maps, and layout for F1.

While I’m explaining jokes, here’s Monte Cook’s classic Orc and Pie adventure referenced in the title.

09
Dec
09

Fight On! #7 Is Out, Huzzah!

The new issue of Fight On, my favorite gaming magazine, is now available at Lulu. This one does not include my “Random Events Make You Say Yes” essay, which has been held over to #8. That issue is devoted to Erol Otus, which may inspire me to write a second piece devoted to how at Anonycon I was able to use the evocative player handout illustrations he did for The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan to let the players’ input do the work of improvising a trap/puzzle encounter. What better way to pass the time while you’re waiting for all that than to read and re-read #7? The robots at Lulu are printing mine at this very moment, but the table of contents indicates that it contains such delights as Adam Thornton’s “Wandering Harlot Table” and “One Time at D&D Camp” by Harnish & Robbins. Enter the code “HUMBUG” when you checkout at Lulu and save 10%!

04
Dec
09

it’s CLOBBERING time!

This, but like 5 sessions' worth of it

Jack Kirby + Joe Sinnot, Fantastic Four 73

We finished our five-session arc of With Great Power . . . last night.  It’s certainly the best gaming experience I’ve had in years, and in the short-list for my best gaming ever.  From start to finish it was pure joy.

A lot of that joy was contextual: as noted I am a madman on the subject of Silver Age Marvel comics, and  I was lucky enough to have two magnificent players (Sternum and Invincible Overlord) who, in addition to also being huge fans, were terrific role-players and enormously funny people.

Some of that joy was due to the fiction.  Last night:

  • The Thing single-handedly defeated a Troll army that was marching on Asgard (including clobbering Ulik, who had humiliated and enslaved him last session).
  • Spider-Man, tapping into the power of the Norn Stone, defeated the mighty Thor in single combat.  Just as he was about to steal Thor’s hammer in accordance with Loki’s sinister plan, Peter Parker realized he was going too far–and returned it to the thunder god.
  • The Enchantress, who had seduced Peter into near-villainy, came to understand that, though nought but a mortal, his heart was more valorous than many an Asgardian’s.
  • There was a funny scene when the Thing tried to tell-off Odin the Omnipotent, but the All-Father basically yawned him away.
  • Loki, frustrated, made a play for the indestructible Destroyer.  There was a big fight between Spider-Man, the Thing, Thor, and the Fantastic Four against the Loki, the Destroyer, the Radioactive Man, the North Vietnamese Army, and the United States Air Force.  In the end, the heroes triumphed (of course).

And some of the joy was due to the system, though I’m not sure how much.  With Great Power .  .  .  is played with a deck of cards rather than dice.  You generally want high-ranking cards, and in order to get them the player will choose to sacrifice certain aspects of his or her character.  Thus, Spider-Man might ignore Aunt May for a little while in order to save the city.  In mid-game, however, many of these aspects fall into the clutches of the Game Master, who can then do sadistic things: like say that Aunt May has gotten engaged to Doctor Octopus.  In the end-game, a couple of rules shift around to favor the players, and if they’re lucky they can save the day and any spinster aunts.

So the card-economy does a great deal to affect the pacing of the game.  Going into this session, I was concerned that I had beaten up the super heroes so much that there was no way they could build up a hand strong enough to take me on.  Since Sternum kept his most valuable aspects out of my grasp, I couldn’t win outright, but (I thought) neither could the heroes.  It turns out that I was mistaken.  The card economy is clunky, opaque, and feels a little ad hoc, but it worked out beautifully last night, and I’m very impressed with Michael and Kat Miller for getting this design right.  (That said, we did end up house-ruling it that I couldn’t take an aspect all the way to Transformed in the course of a single fight.)

So – best supers gaming I’ve ever had, and a good time was had by all.  Excelsior!

18
Nov
09

Zolobachai’s Wagon and Azagar’s Book of Rituals

Going to Limbo and breaking the dimensional barrier can have strange effects. For James’ PC Arnold Littleworth to be transported from the White Sandbox to Glantri is a giant step for a man, to be sure. But from the perspective of the gods who dice with the lives of such mortals, the distance between two campaigns run in the same city with the same extended group of players using editions published seven years apart is not so huge.

With the impending publication of Goodman Games’ Azagar’s Book of Rituals, however, Arnold has accomplished the transition to an edition published twenty-seven years later, where his legend (or at least that of his alias, Zolobachai of the Nine Visions) will spread through those gaming groups all over the world who have the discernment and modest financial means necessary to acquire this mighty grimoire of rituals and include one of them, Zolobachai’s Wagon, in their campaign. Or, as James put it:

OMG OMG OMG
First I breach the dimensions into Glantri, then I breach the dimensions into the real world!!!
I have to retire the character now. It would all just be downhill from here. (I suppose I need to cast my newly researched spell first, just to be able to boast about it. But then: retirement.)

Some thoughts:
1) James is rightly stoked, as am I. I remember well how awesome it was when I first discovered that names like Melf and Mordenkainen weren’t just evocative color added to the descriptions of AD&D spells, but actual players in Gygax and Kuntz’s Greyhawk campaign. I am pleased to be able to create such connections between the bones of D&D’s published ephemera and the actual play that is its beating heart.

2) Such connections are all too rare. I’m currently working on my eleventh professional D&D writing assignment, and this is the first time that I’ve been able to draw direct inspiration from a campaign I’ve been part of. There are many pressures that push what happens in RPG writing away from what happens at the table, which I’ll perhaps enumerate in a later post; this one is to celebrate that those pressures can be overcome. Or at least partially, for:

3) The transition from play to print distorts. In the game so far, Zolobachai’s wagon is not a magical conveyance of spectral force but a mundane (if gaudily painted) wooden cart. The most memorable appearance of the wagon in play was heroic but decidedly un-magical: Arnold drove it into the swamp of the Lost City so that he could creep through its interior and gain the element of surprise when he emerged to brain a lizardman with a frying pan. And while Arnold has in fact been researching a new spell during his carouse in Limbo, he should rightly be considered the creator of Zolobachai’s Impertinent Invitation; the wagon-creating ritual is a piece of fakery at worst or flattery at best by another would-be wonder-worker who has seen fit to adopt the mighty name of Zolobachai. It might be that this is always the way of things – at GaryCon II I will be sure to ask Melf whether he did in fact invest game time in inventing a spell to hurl an acid arrow at his foes.

I’d love to be able to include Zolobachai’s Impertinent Invitation, as well as the many other inventions of my fellow players that are worthy of game-book immortality, in a future Azagar’s Second Book of Rituals. To help make that happen, rush out and buy the first one and tell your game-store owners and Joseph Goodman that you want more like it!

14
Nov
09

i broke the dimensional barrier!

On Thursday night history was made!  My character, Arnold Littleworth the Theurgist, from Tavis’s White Sandbox game crossed over between dimensions to play in Eric’s Glantri game!

Tales of campaign-hopping player-characters are a common feature of the Old School, but if it’s happened in the recent Renaissance I’m unaware of it.  Certainly I’m the first among the Red Boxers to make the trip, even though Eric and Tavis have been running campaigns using the same player base for the past eleven months.

Correction: Dave’s character Ookla the Mok did this months before mine, but he was a rescue from a 2e campaign that had been defunct for more than ten years.  I think I’m the first live transplant from one campaign to another.

Here’s how I accomplished this marvelous feat!  Please pay close attention:

1.  Whine to the Dungeon Masters about figuring out a way to cross over.  (This is the first step in many things, not just traveling between dimensions.) I can only attend a session every three weeks or so, and it was killing me that I had to split those measly experience points into two “bank accounts” merely for the sake of verisimilitude.

2. Encourage the Dungeon Master to invent some hand-wavey bullshit justification to allow the dimensional rift. Personally I’m happy just showing up at the table with my character from another game and saying, “Hey, here I am!  Let’s hit the dungeon!”  But others are a little more fastidious about suspending their disbelief.  Tavis invented the Nameless City of the Ninth Menegril, some sort of equivalent to Planescape’s Sigil.  Several of the characters in Tavis’s game have had dealings with denizens of the Nameless City: one character got high on marijuana with an Abyssal Shadow, and two others sold their souls for Bags of Holding (good trade if you ask me) (or maybe it was the souls of other party members, which makes it an even better trade). But thus far no one had used the Nameless City for its intended purpose, namely allowing me to accumulate XP at double speed.

3.  Steal your character sheet from the Dungeon Master at the end of the session.

4.  Carouse in an inter-dimensional metropolis, and wake up in another universe.

5.  Keep your possessions and and special house-rules modest so the new Dungeon Master won’t send you away. Because Arnold has nothing of value, this wasn’t a problem for me.

Dave’s Ookla the Mok character had the opposite problem: he had two magical swords in his old 2e game, but when he arrived in Tavis’s OD&D game he suddenly discovered that all magical swords are intelligent, with crazy super-powers (and maybe can take control of your mind) (why this is so bad, I don’t know: okay, so your greedy, violent swordsman is brainwashed by a greedy, violent sword.  Quelle horror!).  So Ookla has become pretty much defined by his sword-granted super powers; going into a less generous campaign would be very disruptive.

6.  Listen with a hard heart and a smirk as other players complain that it’s unfair for you to introduce a 4th level character when their guys have been laboring under the curse of 1st level stinkiness. Guys, I have spelled out my method right here.  You can do it too, just give me credit for being first.

PS.  Tavis, Arnold has acquired the inter-dimensional property rights to a slice of Brass Dragon Hide.  Just so you know.

29
Oct
09

dungeon of the green goat

How to Host a Dungeon is a solitaire game by Tony Dowler in which you build a megadungeon, step by step.

Our group has had a lot of discussion of this game, until Chris–a/k/a Greengoat–put together this awesome animated version, which omits the actual mechanics of the game at work to show you the fictional end result:

Part One – from the Primordial Age to the Terror of Grak:

Part Two: Reign of Grak and a Plague of Spiders:

First of all, recognize my man Greengoat’s amazing effort and great drawings here. And I’m really impressed at how he managed to turn the ebb and flow of the game into an imaginative and creepy story as several factions duke it out to control those caverns. Grak must be one of the most terrifying ogres around–going up against him would be absolutely dreadful.

If that’s your bag, check the game out. I figure each of the “rooms” that Greengoat refers to is actually a modest dungeon level or sub-level in D&D terms.  (Dowler includes a free version of the game as a download, though the full PDF is only $5.)

From my take on How to Host a Dungeon, it’s a pretty nifty little bugger, both in concept and in execution. The layout and interior art are both absolutely wonderful. There are places where I wish the rules were better edited: certain aspects don’t exactly line up completely, but anyone accustomed to the make-it-up-as-you-go DM’ing style of OD&D is surely used to smoothing over contradictory or unclear rules. A second printing would make the game absolutely irresistible, but even with a few flaws in communication, How to Host a Dungeon is solidly entertaining purchase.

Tavis or Eric – when do we mount an expedition to the doleful Dungeon of the Green Goat?




Past Adventures of the Mule

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