Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Surfeit of Lampreys, session #5

So we lost 3 PCs last night and it's pretty much Jamie Mal's fault. Last night I ran his dungeon "The Ruined Monastery"  from issue #1 of Fight On!, the fanzine for degenerate OD&D malcontents.  (Incidentally, if you like fantasy fiction the folks at Fight On! have put out a little anthology called Roll the Bones that you can purchase here.  I'm not a fan of modern fantasy genre literature, so I really can't comment whether any of it is good or not.)  Anyway between the yellow mold in one room and the poisonous [REDACTED] in another room, it was a night for missing saving throws versus poison and keeling over dead. 

That dude on the ground?
The original Wat Tyler.
Even the Thumac the Ram, the first and last dwarf PC of the campaign, couldn't resist a hearty dose of venom.  Ryan, who ran Thumac, has had a pretty rough streak in the dungeons of Wessex.  That dwarf was his third PC killed in only 5 sessions of campaigning.  Next time he'll be running a bagpiping bard using the rules out of Best of Dragon, volume I, which are almost as crazy as those in the 1st edition PHB but not as ridiculously powerful.  In order to help come up with a name for his new dude, I handed Ryan my copy of volume 35 of the Harvard Classics (Froissart, Mallory, Holinshed).  I bring it and an modern English version of Beowulf to sessions for just such situations.  Flipping around a bit he settled on naming his dude Wat Tyler.  Between this and his mention of the Templars earlier in the evening I'm now suspicious that either he reads whackjob books like Holy Blood, Holy Grail or else he is a Freemason or both.  Personally, I'm a both.

Her: Are you sure this is worth XP?
You ever have one of those nights when the players arrive at seeming random intervals?  Right around start time I had three players (include new player Kirk, who seems to fit right in with this bunch) with 5 PCs between them.  I picked up two more as the night progressed, but before that happened the party's meat shield fighter bought the farm.  That left the player's with two thieves, a magic-user and a newly-minted 1st level changeling with only 2 hit points and a squeaky voice.  So they went and dropped a bunch of gold to aquire some spear carriers just in time for the rest of the players to arrive.  That cracked me up a little, as hench-recruitment under Holmes D&D is expensive: d6 x 100 gold apiece!  Between that and some carousing for the two thieves I think we managed to bleed off quite a bit of gold in the party's coffers.

more cool pics here
While I like the delightful Mister Maliszewski's dungeon just fine as-is (and have run it that way), for this particular campaign I decided to spruce it up to better fit my fako-historical* Wessex milieu. So some of the goblins got cute little red caps to wear, like out of a fairy tale.  When a fight broke out between the party and some book-wreckers in the library, they pulled full sized swords out of their tiny hats like Bullwinkle stage magicians.  Boy, were they disappointed when they found out that the magic was inherent to the goblins and not to the hats themselves.  Apparently they really wanted some Hats of Holding, even if they were much too small to wear without looking like maroons.  As an aside, I was really impressed with how viscerally the players reacted to the goblins shredding books with malevolent glee.  Good job on that encounter, J-M.

Another thing I did was try to merge the dungeon background with the campaign background.  So the ex-monastery was looted and destroyed by rowdy Norman knights during the tumultuous period immediately following the conquest.  And the villainous NPC in the dungeon became the grandson of one of those knights, a bastard with no inheritance of his own trying to enrich himself by following up on grandpa's tall tale of a lost treasure still lurking in the cellars below monastery ruins.  I also changed the villain's stats quite a bit, since he's written as a cleric and I don't use that class in this campaign.

I also changed one of the monsters Jamie Mal uses in more than one encounter, but I can't reveal more because the altered baddies remain unused and some of my players read this blog.  Hi, guys!  I also added a monster my daughter created while in one of her "Must Draw The Crap Out Of A Whole Sketchbook In One Sitting" fugues.  I'd love to post the pic, but she has forbidden me from sharing it.  I don't think she likes the way it turned out, but the concept is totally useable. Again, I can't tell you any more because the party hasn't encountered it yet.

*"Pseudo-historical", "alt-historical" and even "faux historical" just seem way too serious for  a term to describe to what I am trying to do, so today I made up my own.  But then I go and have no problem with straight-facedly deploying the word "milieu" in the same sentence.  Like I told my players at one point last night, I have no problem with shamelessly contradicting myself.