Saturday, January 01, 2011

A Surfeit of Lampreys, session #2

So I guess I've been ignoring the crap out of this blog.  My lovely and wonderful wife got me a Kindle for Christmas and I've been going absolutely nuts downloading crap over at Project Gutenberg and flipping through tons and tons of electronimical books.  Let me give you a measure of the full force owning this device has had on me by pointing out that I have a file folder on it now that is just for books about books.  Which contains 31 volumes all by itself.

Anyway, on to the session report.  Wednesday night I got a wonderful surprise when I arrived at the Armored Gopher, as artist and all around awesome person Jennifer Weigel and her hubby, the equally friendly and fun Chuck, had driven up from St. Louis to play in my game.  Or maybe they had other reasons to be in Champaign-Urbana, but my crazy insecurity-overconfidence feedback loop made me assume I was the only reason they were in town so that I was simultaneously experiencing performance anxiety and egomania.  (I mean even more so than usual.) As an additional bonus they brought Christmas cookies and non-alcoholic wine-like grape beverage for everyone!

Chuck whipped up the Dread Pirates Dwayne and Ned, a couple of brothers and nice guys who were tired of living at the bottom of the medieval pecking order.  Here's Jennifer's PCs:

Two things I should point out here.  First, Jennifer did those character sketches with seeming no effort, as she played the game and without even doing preliminary sketching in pencil.  That's awesome.  Second, she totally was wearing the same hat as Mary up there, complete with the pheasant feather.

Allowing everyone to run two PCs simultaneously has resulted in a lot of related people in the party.  Carl runs the Evans brothers, a pair of Welsh archers and thieves.  The two dread pirates I mentioned earlier are also brothers.  The Anglo-Saxon fighter father and thief son of last run was a hoot.  And Wednesday night Dane figured out why his Saracen magic-user and French paladin spend so much time together: the Saracen is loot!  That's right, we've got a player running a slave and his master as a pair of PCs.  This had little effect on play, except that the MU now carries both PCs adventuring gear, but we'll see what else develops.  Here's the full compliment of the 2nd expedition to the ruins of Worminghall:

Jennifer played Angus O'Leary (F) and Mary O'Leary (MU)
Chuck played the Dread Pirate Dwayne (F) and the Dread Pirate Ned (F)
Carl played Gimpy Evans (T) and Bodger Evans (T)
Dane played Jean Claude Villaneuve de Montmarte (P) and Ermlaf the Saracen (MU)
Joe played Pierre (T) and Captain Wimpy the Klutz (MU)

Most of the session focused on further exploration of level one under the ruins.  The players did explore one new room of the upper level, where they found some old shoes and shoe-making equipment sized for halflings or goblins or somesuch.  I think it was Jean Claude who later traded a pair of the shoes to one of the worker-imps on level one for some help opening a stuck dungeon door.  They've gotten some good reaction rolls with this particular band of monsters, so they've been very friendly.  Especially when the party stops by with a sackfull of roasted spiders just as the imps are going on their coffee break.  Them's good eatin'.

The PCs came by these spiders in a classic Room Fulla Webs.  Instead of the normal 1 or 3 or 6 giant spiders lurking on the ceiling, I loaded all surfaces of the room with an Indiana Jones-esque quantity of normal poisonous spiders in hopes of really creeping some folks out by absolutely covering them with a blanket of poisonous creepy-crawlies.  Turns out you can creep out some people just by describing how that torch tossed into the room results in floor covered with blackened spider carcasses.  Underneath the dead spiders the party found a crispy hand and partial arm, which ended up tied to the business end of the Paladin's eleven foot pole.

Other encounters included two run-ins with Bigass Snakes Made Out of Ice, some Red Savages and Brain-Eating Zombies.  Angus, whose mighty 15 Str, 6 hit points and slow wits resulted in his election as Point Man, nearly got his brains eaten.  The shaggy, stone-agey Red Savages were quickly subdued via a Sleep spell and dispatched.  The players haven't figured out what the strange token they were each carrying signify.  Each token is flat, roughly squarish, made of wood or chipped stone and about the size of a coin.  Here's the quick sketch I drew for them:

Every Red Savage had a small pouch on his loincloth with exactly five tokens, each pouch containing one of each of the above designs.  Except for the smallest guy they killed, who had six tokens with an extra with the asterisk-like symbol in the middle.  The imp miners said the savages gather in a circle and put them on the floor for some reason.  Can anyone figure out what they mean?  I stumped the group.  Read Languages yielded no data after a discussion as to what it could and could not do.  I ruled that spell decodes words and sentences and these symbols were neither.  To explain my position I offered a hypothetical whereby a stranger to Christendom casts RL on a crucifix.  Clearly that symbol is rich with meaning, but should that be decode-able by this simple 1st level spell?  I say nay.

Three of the Bigass Ice Snakes were guarding a big block of iced containing some winged humanoid figure that could only be seen in vague silhouette.  After they killed the snakes (and with no one suffering the effects of Ice Venom, darn it) the party discovers that the live cold monsters were the source of refrigeration for the room and the big block is starting to melt.  Next time the PCs make it out that way the block is mostly melted and its occupant is gone.  Another mystery with no solution as of yet.

A third mysterious mystery was the room with an Infernal Device resembling a bronze globe and hot to the touch.  It was bolted down and too hot to steal but maybe next time they'll pull it off.

The other big event of the night was the death of Captain Wimpy the Klutz.  Poor bastard was sliced clean in half by a pendulum blade hallway trap.

All in all, I thought it was a pretty good session.  Jennifer and Chuck are welcome back any time.  The mechanics of the campaign are still congealing, but I say if you're only worrying about fiddly little bits like whether Magic Missile requires a to-hit or what initiative rules to use then you're probably doing a lot of more important stuff that isn't broken.


  1. Thank you Jeff for having us. Here are some more factoids about my characters, for whatever it's worth.

    Their mother is Scottish and father is Irish. After running away to be married both were disowned by their respective families. Both are mercenaries and have been enlisted to fight.

    Angus didn't join them even though he is trained as a fighter because he is mentally unstable. Instead, his sister Mary was put in charge of him, for all that she is younger.

    Anyway thanks again and may the campaign go well. It was great fun and we're glad we made it out to meet everyone.

  2. I dig your posts, Jeff. You really embody the spirit of "show rather than tell" when sharing your passion for gaming with a particular system and style.

  3. That should be the Dwead Piwate Dwayne. My intent was to use a voice somewhat like Michael Palin's Pilate in Life of Brian ("I have a vewy gweat fwiend in Wome called 'Biggus Dickus'.")

    We actually worked up character concepts on the drive up, complete with back stories and replacements for the dead (next up would have been Ned and Dwayne's cousin, the Dread Pirate Fabian).

    I also had an idea based on your comment about some clerics being "sketchy scholars practicing Magic-Use" for Flynn LaFlam, french con man (MU or Thief) who would try to pass himself off as the only guy around who knew how to wake the saints because he had read the bible "in the original french". Jen and I also discussed having Flynn for some reason try to convince everyone that Angus was the second coming or something.

    Also, you really were the only reason we were in town. We've been wanting to make the trip since you started blogging about your weekly games, but getting up there in the middle of the week has been tough.


  4. I also had an idea based on your comment about some clerics being "sketchy scholars practicing Magic-Use" for Flynn LaFlam, french con man (MU or Thief) who would try to pass himself off as the only guy around who knew how to wake the saints because he had read the bible "in the original french".

    I am totally stealing that, by the way.

  5. I am totally stealing that, by the way.

    I was totally hoping you would. :D

  6. So . . . what are some of these books about books, then?