Thursday, November 11, 2010

Belated Happy Halloween!

While other blogs are posting Veterans Day-related art, I'm finally sharing this Jack-o-lantern I drew for Halloween! It was Megan's idea to save money on Halloween decorations this year by drawing our own and this was my favorite that I did.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Golden Age Reprint Checklist

Expanding on a 2007 post, this is my dream collection of Golden Age reprint volumes, limited to those deluxe Archives or Masterworks series from DC and Marvel. In making the checklist, I was amazed at how little from the late '40s is still reprinted. Superman reprints inexplicably end in '45.

Superman: the Action Comics Archives Vol. 1 (own!)
Batman Archives Vol. 1 (own!)
Golden Age Sandman Archives Vol. 1
Marvel Masterworks Vol. 1
Superman Archives Vol. 1
Batman: the Dark Knight Archives Vol. 1
Golden Age Flash Archives Vol. 1
JSA All-Star Archives Vol. 1
Marvel Masterworks Vol. 2-3
Shazam! Archives Vol. 1
Will Eisner’s The Spirit Archives Vol. 1
Superman: the Action Comics Archives Vol. 2
Superman Archives Vol. 2
All-Star Comics Archives Vol. 1-2
All-Winners Masterworks Vol. 1
Batman Archives Vol. 2 (own!)
Batman: the Dark Knight Archives Vol. 2
Golden Age Sub-Mariner Vol. 1
Marvel Masterworks Vol. 4
Shazam! Archives Vol. 2-4
Will Eisner’s The Spirit Archives Vol. 2-3
Superman: the Action Comics Archives Vol. 3-4
Superman Archives Vol. 3-4
All-Star Comics Archives Vol. 3
All-Winners Masterworks Vol. 2
Batman: the Dark Knight Archives Vol. 3-4
Golden Age Sub-Mariner Masterworks Vol. 2
Shazam! Family Archives Vol. 1
Will Eisner’s The Spirit Archives Vol. 4-5 (own #4!)
Superman Archives Vol. 5
All-Star Comics Archives Vol. 4-5
All-Winners Masterworks Vol. 3
Batman Archives Vol. 3
Batman: the Dark Knight Archives Vol. 5
Golden Age Sub-Mariner Masterworks Vol. 3
Will Eisner’s The Spirit Archives Vol. 6-7
Superman Archives Vol. 6-7
Batman Archives Vol. 4
Batman: the Dark Knight Archives Vol. 6
Plastic Man Archives Vol. 3
Will Eisner’s The Spirit Archives Vol. 8-9
Superman: the Action Comics Archives Vol. 5
Superman Archives Vol. 8
All-Star Comics Archives Vol. 6
Batman Archives Vol. 5
Batman: the Dark Knight Archives Vol. 7
Batman: the World’s Finest Comics Archives Vol. 2
Plastic Man Archives Vol. 4
Will Eisner’s The Spirit Archives Vol. 10-11
Plastic Man Archives Vol. 5-6
Will Eisner’s The Spirit Archives Vol. 12-13
Batman Archives Vol. 6
Plastic Man Archives Vol. 7-8
Batman Archives Vol. 7
All-Star Comics Archives Vol. 10

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Top 15 Favorite Books

After reading Kage Baker's The Bird of the River, I decided it was time to revisit a project I'd last posted here back in 2007. This time around, I expanded the list to 15 and allowed myself up to two titles by the same author. This is still leaving off all graphic novels. I also realized, to my shock, that I had left off Jules Verne completely from my past list. What was I thinking?

1. The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien)
2. With a Single Spell (Lawrence Watt-Evans)
3. Gods of Mars (Edgar Rice Burroughs)
4. Voyage of the Dawn Treader (C.S. Lewis)
5. The Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Graeme)
6. The Fellowship of the Ring (J.R.R. Tolkien)
7. Around the World in 80 Days (Jules Verne)
8. True Names (Vernor Vinge)
9. Princess of Mars (Edgar Rice Burroughs)
10. Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card)
11. Magician's Nephew (C.S. Lewis)
12. The Sign of Four (Arthur Conan Doyle)
13. Dirk Gentley's Holistic Detective Agency (Douglas Adams)
14. Journey to the Center of the Earth (Jules Verne)
15. The Bird of the River (Kage Baker)

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Undead Pages - pt. 2

[Although it was technically called "The Undead Pages", the strip has always been known by my friends as "Marcy the Lich" after the main character. The origin of Marcy the Lich came from a before-school discussion one day amongst my acquaintances when we debated who was most like which Peanuts characters. Of course, all of us thought we were most like Charlie Brown, but we couldn't all be Charlie Brown so some people just had characters assigned to them. Somebody, possibly me, suggested Chris should be Marcy. The more Chris protested this assignment, the funnier it seemed to me.

[Soon thereafter I drew a picture of Marcy as a skeleton, a midget skeleton with big glasses, wearing a t-shirt and shorts, and with just a few hairs left on her head. As I drew more of Marcy, Marcy shifted from being a female to a male, like Chris. And so Marcy the Lich was born...]

The Undead Pages - pt. 1

[My friend Ron requested I find this old high school comic strip and show it to him again. Sadly, only six pages of it were ever inked, the rest done in pencil too lightly (or is now too light) to scan well. Oddly, the six pages are only from Year 2 of the strip, right in the middle of its three year run.]

[This strip never appeared in the school newspaper; indeed, it would probably have been rejected on the spot for being too weird. Its origin lies in the fact that several of us, in my circle of high school acquaintances, who could draw tried their hand at comic strips just to show around to the group. The only other one I remember was Erik's Tick-homage, "The Marlin", but I'm pretty sure Joe tried making one too. We all worked in pencil on lined paper, since that's what we had in school. The main difference with mine was its longevity.]

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Things I Want to See in Hobbit II

I had read much earlier that The Hobbit was going to be filmed in two movies, but it was only recently I read a rumor that was printed back in 2008 that the first movie would follow the book while the second would be an invented sequel bridging the Hobbit to the Lord of the Rings. This was pretty exciting for me, whether it's true or not, because I've long thought that if I ever get around to running a Middle Earth campaign (I know, what's wrong with me that I haven't done it yet?) that's exactly what I would want my campaign to be like.

So, with that in mind, I started looking at The Hobbit again and took some notes.

1. Rule #1: no established characters from The Hobbit. Use cousins of Bilbo and the dwarves, or even a not-totally-evil-yet Saruman, but everyone from The Hobbit remains off-stage.
2. Do any Tooks still consort with fairies, like a Took ancestor was rumored to have done?
3. What was the Old Took's business that kept him away from home so long?
4. Where does their tobacco come from? Is it a deadly carcinogen, or the more harmless "pipe-weed" I see in many D&D campaigns?
5. What happened to Old Took's magic diamond studs that never come undone until commanded?
6. Were the dwarves coming from west to east when they reached the Shire, or did they go really far out of their way to find Bilbo? And what were they doing out west?
7. Do dwarves drink tea? None of the dwarves touch Bilbo's tea.
8. Is there significance to the color of the dwarves' cloaks?
9. Is there significance to Dwalin's golden belt?
10. How long have they had tobacco, tea, and cofee in the Shire?
11. Pop-guns exist, so guns exist, though perhaps only as dwarf-made toys?
12. A typical dinner? -- tea, coffee, beer/ale, wine, raspberry jam, seed-cakes, apple tarts, mince pies, cheese, pork-pie, salad, eggs, cold chicken, pickles.
13. With magic pipes you can direct the smoke rings?
14. Common instruments: bag(pipes?), fiddles, flutes, drums, clarinets, viols, and harps.
15. Magic item: light hidden in gems of hilt of sword; illuminates a room until the sword is drawn and held?
16. What else might Hobbits hide behind the beer barrels in their cellars (besides themselves)?
17. If Kili and Fili are so much younger, why were they included in the company? Just because of their kinship, or perhaps the closeness of their kinship to Thorin? And are any other dwarves upset about their exclusion?
18. Where was the Battle of the Green Fields fought and where is Mount Gram? When was Bullroarer Took around to fight it? 60 years ago? 75? 125?
19. Does anyone still play golf?
20. Burglars and expert treasure hunters advertise with secret marks on their doors; this is common practice.
21. What do dwarves dig coal for? Do only dwarf-run furnaces run on coal? And if the dwarves have to dig their own coal now, who were they making to do it before? Maybe the goblins of Moria have a reason to hate dwarves...
22. Who do they know of the Last Desert to the East-of-East in the Shire?
23. Do dragons still live in the Withered Heath?
24. Where are the goblins of Moria regrouping?
25. What is the Necromancer doing now?
26. Dwarves are a common, or at least not rare, sight on the roads of the Shire. What marketable goods do they still trade? The dwarves once controlled a great toy market in Dale. Do dwarves still make toys?
27. Clockworks exist and mantel clocks are not uncommon.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dreaming D&D

I had an unusual dream last night, sort of a “Willie Wonka and Dungeons and Dragons”. I received an invitation (my “golden ticket”) to a special pre-GenCon D&D game hosted at the home of Roy Thomas. I got my wires crossed on this part as, obviously, Roy Thomas is a figure in the comic book field, not the RPG field. And yet, I suppose I invented him because the D&D field never had a Roy Thomas – a no. 2 man under Gary Gygax who took over running his company for him, but kept it going in the same direction (like the character Jo Jo in Knights of the Dinner Table).

“Roy Thomas” had a huge estate not far from where GenCon was being run. The front yard was full of cars of gamers who showed up early for the con, though where all those gamers went after that, I have no idea. Only four people had been chosen to play in his game. “Roy” was an eccentric; he had a 300 ft. long swimming pool in his huge backyard, but he had pet messes all over his kitchen floor covered in dried stains of some cleaner that had never been wiped up.

Two of the other players, both white, dark-haired 20-somethings, had a previous financial arrangement with “Roy” -- for a fee, they would be allowed to consult his gaming collection after the game. The youngest player was a teenage boy with a bright shock of blond hair. I played a dwarf and did my best Gimli imitation.

It is, perhaps, not surprising that “Roy”'s DMing skills were not as good as mine in my dream. Every player started with one rumor whispered to them at the start of the game. I don't remember what mine was, but it seemed unimportant. The rumors were unimportant at best and detrimental to the game at worst – the youngest player's rumor was that my dwarf was a criminal of some kind. We were given nothing to do at the start of the game except hang around and roleplay with each other, which could have gone better had the youngest player not have blurted out his rumor in front of my dwarf. To add to the roleplaying experience and help everyone else get into the game, I grabbed the boy and pretended to rough him up as our characters, but “Roy” and his co-DM (a friend, I suppose, who just happened to be hanging around for the game) were terribly upset about this, breaking up the “fight” and chastising me for acting instead of just stating my intentions.

The game did not progress beyond this set-up period and I wonder if it ever would. “Roy” seemed to have no sense of establishing a pace for his game. He was more interested in throwing out trivia about the early days of D&D, like how the stirge monster was named after a player whose last name was Stirge (or perhaps Sturges?). I wandered away from the table to look for his gaming collection and found, what books were sitting out at least, it was no larger than my own.

I woke up not long after that, initially disappointed that the revelation about the word 'stirge' was only part of a dream. The dream did seem to have an intriguing lesson to it, though. I came to that game, in the dream, excited that I was going to get to game with a famous gamer and found he was not as good, or at least no better, a gamer than I was. My dream was inspired by reading a lot of Knights of the Dinner Table from 2008 (and a Hard 8 storyline) lately and learning that the druid class was originally written, not by Gary Gygax or Brian Blume, but by Dave Sustarre. It was about wanting to know the secrets of the game and wanting to feel like I was in the same league as the big creators of the game.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Garham to Greyhawk Campaign: Session Eight, the Final Session

Session Eight – August 14, 2010
Flex, human shield bearer
Clair, hobbit shield bearer
Sein, human shield bearer/rogue
Sanji, human medium

The hunt for the Wight of the Hiddendale had not gone well; Clair had been energy drained. Gregor, their ranger guide, had used a magic flask of smoke to confuse the wight and allow everyone to escape. The Crazy Adventurers retreated to the Village of Hawfair to rest. Specifically, they stayed there for three days, waiting to see if the energy drain was temporary and if Clair would get better; she did not. It was during this time that Sein and Sanji came back to the company.

A messenger working for the Serpenthelm family found them in Hawfair. It turned out that Kevlamin Serpenthelm had family in Greyhawk. Down on their luck, they were looking for help from Kevlamin's company to finance a proper funeral for him. Flex, though he had started out hating Kevlamin, championed the cause of going on a quest to raise Kevlamin and convinced the rest of the company to agree unanimously. They weighed their options and decided to approach the Temple of Zilchus back in the City of Greyhawk. The High Acquisitioners of Zilchus said they could resurrect Kevlamin, but would demand 5,000 gp to do it.

Their best bet of raising the funds was the same quest they had planned to pursue while hunting the Wight of the Hiddendale – to find the Ruined Tower of Elzid. Actually, it turned out to be absurdly easy to find Elzid's tower, as a territorial war was going on between goblin and orc parties and adventuring companies from Greyhawk over the tower at the heart of the Hiddendale. The four remaining members of The Crazy Adventurers actually spent a week exploring the Hiddendale and the Great Hillwood trying to find another a safer route around the fighting parties to the tower, until they encountered by chance a gold dragon that chased everyone else off.

((Spoilers for “A Wizard's Fate” From Dungeon magazine #37))

By now there was almost nothing left of the tower, but a short investigation revealed that a stairwell to a basement level was safe inside the rubble. As they started down the hallway at the bottom of the staircase, they activated a trap that caused a block of stone to slide across the hallway and block off their retreat. Undeterred, they continued down the hallway to a room with a demonic-looking statue in it. As Flex started searching the room, the statue seemed to come to life and attack them. Everyone ganged up on the statue and did enough harm to it to dispel the illusion ; the statue had actually never moved at all.

Trying one of the doors from that room, the company found a corridor with more doors. The door at the end of the corridor was locked, so they concentrated on that. Sein tried to pick the lock and failed. Flex and Sein hacked at the door for awhile with their axes, but were interrupted when a voice whispered to Flex to hand over his magical cloak of protection. Magically compelled, Flex complied and the cloak began floating down the hallway away from them. They were able to catch up to the cloak and snatch it back, though.

Clair had grown impatient waiting for the door to be chopped down and coated it in lamp oil instead. After lighting the door aflame and backing off for a bit, Sein felt something brush by his leg. People started trying to hit his invisible attacker, but found nothing. Since it was not seen heading into the smoke, they could only assume it had run away from them back towards the blocked dungeon entrance.

When the smoke cleared, the company found the interior of the room had been burned away. They thought they were responsible at first, but investigation showed that the fire was weeks old and had destroyed a library. Nothing was found that survived the fire, except for some graphitti scratched into the back wall. This made Flex sure that there was a secret door in the back wall. His 30 minute search of the back wall was weakening the morale of the company until he really did find a secret door and opened it.

The secret door led to a room filled with spider webs and rubble. The four set about searching the room and were shortly attacked by four large spiders, one for each of them. No one had trouble dispatching their spiders except for Sanji, who succumbed to the poison of its bite and was immediately weak from fever. Undeterred, the other three went about searching the rubble, hoping the spiders had guarded something useful. Sanji, in his delirium, said he saw a door in the corner of the room and, sure enough, there was another secret door there.

Behind this secret door was a closet with only a wooden chest in it. Sanji was too weak to leave the middle of the room, so only the other three went into the closet to open the chest – just as Sein set off the fire trap spell on the chest. Flex and Sein were killed outright, while Clair was knocked unconscious. As the flames died down, the invisible imp that had been following them all along came in, watched Sanji die, and then killed Clair in her sleep.

And so, with the passing of Clair, the last original member of the campaign, the Garham to Greyhawk Campaign came to an end with a TPK. As a last footnote, the player of new character Jack Stafford showed up late right after the TPK, but could not have arrived to save anyone because the company had done nothing about the trap blocking the dungeon entrance.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Graduated Flavor Text II: Burial Options in a D&D Campaign

1. Ditch the body – 0 cost, 0 attendance, no prep, no ceremony.
2. Improvised pyre – 0 cost, 0 attendance, 30-min.-prep time, 2-min. ceremony.
3. Shallow, unmarked grave – 0 cost, 0 attendance, 1 hour-prep time, 10-min. ceremony.
4. Church-recognized pyre funeral – 5 gp, 1d3 attending + acolyte, 2 hour wake, 15-min. ceremony.
5. Grave and marker in a village graveyard – 12 gp, 1d4 attending + acolyte, 4 hour wake, 15-min. ceremony, corpse protected from being animated as a skeleton.
6. Grave and tombstone in a small town graveyard – 25 gp, 1d8 attending + adept, 8 hour wake, 20-min. ceremony, corpse protected from being animated as a skeleton or zombie
7. Grave and tombstone with statuette in a big town graveyard – 90 gp, 4d4 attending + priest, 1 day wake, public procession, 25-min. ceremony, corpse protected from being animated as a skeleton, zombie, ghoul or shadow, includes reception with snack food.
8. Tomb burial in a small city graveyard – 130 gp, 6d4 attending + curate, 2 day wake, public procession, 30 min. ceremony, corpse protected from being animated as a skeleton, to wight, includes reception with food, drink, and light entertainment.
9. Exclusive tomb burial in a major city – 260 gp, 5d6 attending + prefect, 3 day wake, public parade, 35 min. ceremony, corpse protected from being animated as a skeleton, to wraith, includes 1-hour reception with food, drink, and entertainment.
10. Private mausoleum in a major city – 400 gp, 7d6 attending + bishop, 4 day wake, public parade, 40 min. ceremony, corpse protected from being animated as a skeleton, to mummy, includes 2-hour reception party.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Garham to Greyhawk Campaign: Session Seven - pt. 3

A dozen people all around the carriage fell asleep, but one of the bodyguards was still awake. As the guard shouted for the watch, Kevlamin, Flex, and Gladys piled on him and subdued him. Then they used the carriage to transport their prisoner outside the city walls, driving through the outskirts on the south side of the Old City.

It was, amazingly enough, at this exact moment that Clair and Jack were returning in defeat to the city. Jack was the one who spotted Kevlamin and Flex driving a carriage up ahead. To make them stop, Jack fired an arrow into the carriage. Once the two groups were united they swapped stories. As they did so, their mark came around inside the carriage with Gladys. However, the woman who woke up in the carriage was not Ahlissa at all, but her sister Athea. Ahlissa had not come to the shops that day, sending her very similar-looking sister to run errands in her stead. Further, Athea, as she had the plan explained to her by some sheepishly embarrassed adventurers, told them that Alden Folber was not a friend of Richard Saville.

The situation sounded fishier all the time, but they decided to confront Alden and demand an explanation while Jack escorted Athea back into the city proper. The rendezvous point was the Old Menhirs on the east edge of the outskirts of the city. Alden was there with another gentleman, a man with the rainments of a cleric, and three armed and armored men-at-arms. Clair took the lead in confronting Alden on their suspicions, but Alden assured them that Athea was simply out of town a lot and was unaware that he and Richard had struck up a friendship in her absence. His plan could still work if The Crazy Adventurers were willing to undertake a riskier option of liberating Ahlissa from her family home in the High Quarter that night and he offered to up their payment to 300 gp to compensate them better, but they wanted nothing more to do with the plan.

At this point, Alden announced that he could not let them leave with how much they knew and signaled for four crossbowmen to come out of hiding. A battle was joined. Gladys, thinking it folly and seeking to flee to a place of concealment, was shot down with a crossbow bolt just as she reached the nearest stone. Ruben engaged a man-at-arm for a bit, but also saw the writing on the wall and attempted to flee only to be shot down and land on top of Gladys. Clair had attacked the gentleman posing as Richard Saville, disrupting a spell he was casting at her, and she killed him. But the men-at-arms quickly took her down after that.

Kevlamin was concentrating on Alden, who was also a spellcaster. Alden's spell required touch, which Kevlamin dodged, and after that Alden relied on a dagger. Kevlamin had his mastiff, Fang, with him and the two of them were causing Alden some moderate injuries. Alden seemed to have some magical protection from being hit as often as he should be and Kevlamin badly wanted whatever item on his person was providing that. Fang could have used it first, though, as he remaining men-at-arms killed Fang first before engaging Kevlamin. Kevlamin stood alone, refusing to flee or surrender, sure that if he just could take down Alden that the others would give up. It might have worked could Kevlamin have held out from all the damage he was taking, but it was not meant to be. One final sword thrust ended the life of Kevlamin Serpenthelm.

But this was not the end of The Crazy Adventures. By sheer luck, the others had been knocked unconscious, but not killed. And Allanon Damon had followed them, curious to see what this was all about. He drove off Alden's gang with a fireball and lightning bolt, saw Clair, Flex, and Gladys to safety, and summoned the authorities to the scene. All this was explained to them by Jack, who had all this told to him by Allanon. Jack told them about how he had returned the “princess” home to a hero's welcome. Of course, Athea was not royalty and, in fact, she had only agreed not to press charges of kidnapping and murder against Jack since he had returned her safely, but everyone liked Jack's story better and did not dispute it.

Clair, Flex, and Gladys were in an abandoned home in the Slum Quarter that Jack had found for them. It would be several days before any of them felt as good as new, particularly Clair. Clair was angry with Alden for both his deception and her near-death experience and took it out on the first strangers she could. That opportunity came on their first day of rest, when all three of them were alone and still seriously injured. Three savage-looking warriors burst through the door, announcing that they planned to squat on this abandoned property and any previous squatters could take a hike. Clair answered with a sword thrust up through the lead man's chin that killed him. The other two fled.

Meanwhile, Jack had been hanging out in gambling dens, making quiet inquiries about nearby adventure opportunities. With a 2 gp bribe, he heard of a wizard's tower in the Old Orchard Grove, to the southeast of the Plain of Greyhawk, that had blown up recently. Other magic-users knew of the happening, but the adventuring class at large had likely not heard of this yet. Jack also recruited a new member for the company and hired a guide to lead them there – a ranger from the Snow Monsters adventuring company named Gregor.

Three days later, on the 11th of Wealsun, The Crazy Adventurers agreed to Jack's plan. Jack's plan was this – they would head to the Old Orchard Grove, but going through the hills where the shadow and the monster that had attacked the company before was (or both at once, if they turned out to be the same monster) so Gregor could look for its tracks. Sure enough, Gregor did find tracks and, after a few hours pursuit, the tracks lead to a material creature more like what Clair and Flex had fought before – only looking even ghastlier this time. Claire and Flex charged their old foe, but this time when it struck Clair, it drained half the life energy out of her.


Ending XP:
Flex – 1,389
Clair – 1,010
Gladys – 751
Jack - 204/204/203

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Garham to Greyhawk Campaign: Session Seven - pt. 2

Sein and Ninja then climbed the walls and reached the balcony, but Sanji and Centaur fell in the “acid” and were declared dead. The team scored 20 out of 40 points.

While waiting for the results of the tournament, Flex received a letter that had been left for him at the guildhall. It cryptically said, “If you want a coin, come to Killcat Lane.” The Crazy Adventurers discussed the letter and The Minions, at a nearby table, overheard and participated in discussing what the letter meant and whether Flex should look into it.

Before a decision could be reached, The Crazy Adventurers’ sponsor, Lilyana Ortiz came to them and congratulated them. She had just heard that their team scored 21st place in the tournament, tied with a company called The Avengers. To reward them, she unfurled a large map of the Flanaess and explained how the guild would not sponsor any reasonable expedition they brought to the guild’s attention. The guild would fund the expedition as long as the company could repay it 150% when they returned. The Minions also came over and looked at the map. The majority of both companies were interested in an expedition to explore the distant land of the Snow Barbarians, but decided to table that plan until they had more experience.

Going to the land of the Snow Barbarians was Kevlamin's idea and it was his idea just as quickly to go back into the Menhir Hills and look for the monster that had attacked them on their way to Greyhawk almost two weeks ago. Most everyone in both companies agreed to take on that mission, though they considered it too small a matter (or too small a chance of treasure) to seek guild sponsorship. Only Kevlamin, Flex, and Gladys stayed behind in town to pursue the coin.

The last order of business was to deal with Nodwick, the last remaining hireling from the once-large company the friends from Garham had started with. Nodwick had followed them all the way to Greyhawk waiting to get paid. Kevlamin was trying to think of a way to fire Nodwick nicely, but when Jack suggested leaving Nodwick behind and not telling him where everyone had gone, the adventurers quickly adopted that solution.

It was Kevlamin (leading his war dog Fang on a leash), Flex, and Gladys who headed to Killcat Lane, as soon as they'd bribed an adventurer to tell them where it was. They patrolled the Slum Quarter looking for it until they heard a scuffle in an alley. Seven lightly armed and armored bullies were harassing a richly-dressed gentleman. Undeterred by the numbers against them, Flex charged with Gladys right behind and Kevlamin stalling, on the pretext of needing to find a place to tie off the leash on Fang. Despite the odds against them, Flex was surprisingly effective in battle and after killing one bully and injuring two others, the bullies turned and fled out the back of the alley.

The gentleman turned out to be Alden Folber, a member of the Moneychangers' Guildhall, who was waiting to hire Flex and company for an unusual job. Richard Savelle, son of the Cartographers' Guildmaster, was in love with Ahlissa Holbin, daughter of the Translators' Guildmaster, but Ahlissa's parents had arranged a different marriage for her. Alden, as Richard's friend, needed adventurers willing to bend the law by abducting Ahlissa and delivering her to Richard so they could elope before the wedding. The adventurers had only the following day to carry it out. Alden advised them against trying to take her from her well-guarded home in the High Quarter, but the following afternoon she would likely be making an afternoon trip to the River Quarter, where several shops she liked best were all found upon Bay Road. Ahlissa was not yet in on the plan and would resist until she saw Richard and then would understand everything. If the adventurers carried this out with minimal violence and Ahlissa unharmed, he would give them a coin for Odd Alley and 200 gp to boot.

Meanwhile, the larger party had traveled all the way south over the Plain of Greyhawk, through the Great Hillwood, and back to the Village of Hawfair without encountering any monsters. By now, Centaur Shepherd and Ninja had become bored of the pursuit and enamored with Hawfair and its environs, just as Clair and Mina had once done. The party spent the night sleeping on the floor of the Leaping Trout Tavern, but the next day Centaur and Ninja decided to stay here and retire. Clair, Jack, Sein, and Sanji went off alone into the hills east of the village looking for the monster. Jack's plan was to sit on a high hill and watch for the monster. Some wild goats showed up on the hill instead and began grazing amongst them.

Around noon, one of the goats suddenly collapsed. Investigating, the four found that the goat was alive, but seemed too weak to stand. They also noticed a shadow nearby on the ground, but one that no one seemed to be casting. Clair and Sein tried to attack the shadow's caster. Jack made a wall of goats around himself for protection and tried to shoot arrows at the caster, but all attacks passed right through the spot. The shadow passed over several of them, causing coldness, pain, and weakness, though far from lethal. Jack first had the idea to begin shooting arrows at the shadow on the ground instead, but when this also failed to stop the shadow, the adventurers all fled. They split up as they fled and, by the time they found each other again, there was only Clair and Jack. Sein and Ninja had disappeared.

Meanwhile, the in-town party had a plan to abduct Ahlissa, but they needed a magic-user with a sleep spell. No longer having Seth or anyone named Rex with them, they asked Alden for an advance on their payment of 50 gp and used that to hire Allanon Damon. Allanon was an aging, experienced invoker and a member of the Band of the Grinning Gargoyle, the company that had won the Challenge of Champions this year. The plan, as it was told to him, sounded fishy, but he agreed to participate only so far as the casting of the sleep spell.

That afternoon, a carriage arrived on Bay Street with their mark and three other women inside, with three armed and armored bodyguards riding on the carriage. As soon as everyone but their mark was outside of the carriage, Allanon cast his sleep spell.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Garham to Greyhawk Campaign: Session Seven - pt. 1

Garham to Greyhawk Campaign: Session Seven
Kevlamin Serpenthelm, Suloise warrior – deceased (Kevin)
Clair, Hobbit warrior (Megan)
Gladys, half-elf acolyte of Heironous (Joyce)
Flex, mixed human shield-bearer (Ruben)
Sanji, mixed human medium (Pablo)
Sein, half-orc shield-bearer/rogue (Tyler)
Jack Stafford, half-elf shield-bearer/medium/rogue (Ronny)
Centaur Shepherd, half-elf shield-bearer
Ninja, mixed human rogue
It was summer now in the City of Greyhawk. For the company of adventurers called The Crazy Adventurers, this was their 13th day in the city. The Challenge of Champions was going fairly well for them. After seven challenges, their company had a score of 200 and there was still one more challenge left for them to take. Actually, the tournament would have been all over two days ago, but the last challenge was postponed to investigate some companies that had tried to bribe the challenges' proctors for details in advance. A perfect score in this challenge would give them 240 out of 400 points, which they were told was a respectable score for a fledgling company.

Meanwhile, Kevlamin, Clair, Mina, Flex, and Rex4 had kept busy in their off time with two pursuits. One was trying to keep their expenses low. The money their sponsor, Lilyana Ortiz, had given them had proven most helpful, for life in the Foreign Quarter of the city was costing them a bare minimum of 5 sp a day, and that required forsaking the many luxuries and comforts the city had to offer. The other pursuit was trying to regain entry into Odd Alley. The difficulty with this surprised everyone at first, since Flex had spent good money to buy a map showing the location of the alley. The first difficulty was that the location on the map kept moving. Sometimes, finding the alley again required some running. The second difficulty was that there was now a gate over the entrance that would not allow them to enter. After asking around at some local taverns and bribing some people, they learned that Odd Alley was locked most of the time and required a special type of coin to get in. The one time they had come and found the gate unlocked was a most unusual occurrence that most people who had heard of Odd Alley – and most people hadn’t – were themselves surprised to hear. No one admitted to having the necessary coin to get back in, nor knowing where to get one.

There was much to like about the City of Greyhawk. Kevlamin, who secretly longed to be a knight someday, learned quite a few knights called Greyhawk home. One made his home right near the Adventurer’s Guildhall, Sir Lelio Stern. After almost pleading for an audience, Sir Stern took Kevlamin into his home and told him some stories about knighthood. Kevlamin had yet to ask, though, how he could become one himself.

Clair had discovered that hundreds of halflings and gnomes called Greyhawk home, in a neighborhood of the Foreign Quarter called the Shire. It was comforting being in a whole community scaled down her size, but it was also nice visiting the Shire because of a handsome, charming Hobbit named Andwise Greenhand who seemed to take an interest in her at once.

Mina had become increasingly interested in being involved in the hierarchy of the Great Common Church of Greyhawk and said she would only return to The Crazy Adventurers in emergencies. Flex4 had simply disappeared, going off to look for trouble in the city one day and never coming back.

The last-place team in the Challenge of Champions was Skender's Minions. Skender was an egotistical wizard who, every year, loudly announced that he needed no more than randomly chosen fledgling adventurers to win the challenge. Losing every year never seemed to weaken his resolve, until this year when he was caught cheating. After the lengthy investigation that delayed the end of the tournament, it was decided that Skender's Minions had no idea of his plans and would be allowed to compete without him. His minions, this year, consisted of Gladys, Sanji, Sein, Centaur Shepherd, and Ninja. In an unprecedented move, the guildmasters decided to allow the Minions to participate with five team members instead of four.
((This write-up includes spoilers for “Challenge of Champions” from Dungeon #58 and “The Matchmakers” from Dungeon #7))
When word came that the last round of the Challenge of Champions was resuming, Kevlamin, Clair, and Flex had to find a last-minute recruit to round out their team. Luckily, self-proclaimed vagabond prince, Jack Stafford was idle at a nearby table in the Adventurers Guildhall and agreed to participate.

The last scenario in the last round for The Crazy Adventurers involved getting from one end of the tunnel to the other in 15 minutes, with a chained bear in the middle. The team had two rocks and a Portable Hole. After a quick discussion, everyone but Jack climbed into the hole while Jack climbed the wall and scaled it over the bear’s reach (though just barely). The team scored a perfect score.

The last scenario in the last round for the Minions involved Gladys looking down from a balcony, over a pool of acid, while the rest of the team was chained on the other side. Gladys had a spool of thread, a set of keys, a live mouse, a spell scroll with a Messenger spell on it, and 15 minutes to get everyone onto the balcony. Gladys used the Messenger spell on the mouse to make it deliver the keys to her teammates, then swung it on the thread until Centaur Shepherd grabbed it and unlocked everyone’s shackles.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Garham to Greyhawk Campaign: Session Six - pt. 2

((Includes spoilers for "Challenge of Champions" from Dungeon Magazine #58))
A typical dinner there of white wine, vegetable soup, rye bread, a salad of cabbage, olives, and celery, a broiled halibut, and pickled onions and walnuts cost 11 sp.

At Kevlamin's suggestion, the company sought out what rumors they could hear around town. Every rumor sounded good to Flex, but what really whetted his appetite was the rumor about a place called Odd Alley where one could even buy things from other worlds. Flex made it his purpose to find that alley and spent the rest of the day searching for it.

Kevlamin, meanwhile, took Rex4 to the wizards' guildhall in the High Quarter (paying a 1 sp toll at the Garden Gate) and tried to purchase a spellbook for Rex4 (who, we determined, would start out with nothing but a few scrolls since the last version of Rex had lost his spellbook) there. The 100 gp membership was too steep, but the dwarf guards agreed to let him buy a blank spellbook for 50 gp and copy his spells into it.

Clair was quite taken with the music at the Silver Dragon Inn and never left, so she was the first one Lilyana Ortiz found when she came looking for them. Lilyana gave them 60 gp to help with their guild membership and living expenses, which the company actually briefly considered turning down as too generous, but then decided to take. Lilyana explained a bit more about the Challenge of Champions – this was the 14th annual tournament of the Adventurers Guild and companies from all over the Flanaess had come to participate. The tournament, which was starting the very next day, was already full at its maximum of 30 teams, but she encouraged them to sign up anyway in case another team was disqualified or went missing – cheating and other chicanery was not uncommon in the history of the tournament. Of course, they would need a company name. Kevlamin, Flex, and Rex4 worked late into that night on names and finally settled on The Crazy Adventurers.

The next day's quest for Odd Alley, on the 24th, started early, interrupted only by an intermission to watch the Challenge of Champions officially begin. Through sheer perseverance and luck, Kevlamin managed to find Odd Alley that afternoon. Flex managed to win a gold piece in a gambling den with something called “slot machines” in it. Kevlamin managed to get himself kicked out of a magic shop by admitting he was poor. Flex thought to stop in a map store that sold them a map showing the way back to Odd Alley for 20 gp.

The three Odd Alley visitors returned to the Silver Dragon Inn and Kevlamin returned to the Adventurers Guildhall to check on the tournament. Some members of the Super Slaughter Death Club started harassing them, but were chased off by a guild steward. Then Kevlamin learned that Skender’s Minions had been disqualified in the second round of the tournament and The Crazy Adventurers had been bumped up to finish in their place. Rex4 was busy scribing spells, so Kevlamin, Clair, Flex, and Mina participated. To their surprise, they were told to go weaponless, armorless, and spell-less, with diviners both magical and psionic checking them for deception. Whatever equipment and spells they would need would be provided at each round.

The first round required them to choose the correct pouch of magic dust to turn themselves invisible and bypass the iron cobras blocking a bolted door in 15 minutes, with only a hand mirror and a spool of thread to round out their equipment. Testing the dust on the spool of thread used up a quarter of their disappearing dust (they had chosen correctly at random), allowing them to turn all but Clair invisible. Kevlamin and Mina tried to use the iron cobras’ reflections in the mirror to make them attack themselves or, failing that, to distract them with the mirrors while Flex unbolted the door. What happened instead was that Kevlamin was bitten and paralyzed while Clair ran past to the exit. Luckily, invisible Flex and Mina were able to find Kevlamin and carry him out with just a little time to spare and with a perfect score of 40 out of 40.

After three hours of rest (and a healing spell for Kevlamin), The Crazy Adventurers were called for their second round. This scenario called for them to send someone into the mouth of a gigantic purple worm to retrieve the fighter’s medallion, while the others figured out how to get through a trap door in the ceiling with just a metal spear, a 20’ ladder, a rock, a magic scroll with a Light spell, and a clerical scroll with a Dispel Magic spell in 15 minutes. Flex volunteered to jump into the worm’s mouth, timing it just right so he was not bit. Then he groped around in the dark interior (since they did not have Rex4 with them they could not cast the Light spell), slowly taking acid damage, until he managed to find something he could pick up and jump out with. In the meanwhile, Kevlamin and Mina used the spear to hack the 20’ ladder short enough to fit under the trap door. The item Flex retrieved turned out to not be the medallion, but a jar of some sort of potion. Mina volunteered to drink the potion and turned into a barely visible gaseous cloud. In this form, she flew into the worm’s mouth and explored until she spotted the medallion. She flew out and tried to lead Kevlamin into the worm’s mouth and to the medallion, but it was just too dark and they ran out of time. Luckily, Clair had already climbed the ladder and was out of the room with plenty of time to spare, so they ended with 10 out of 40 points.

In the pre-dawn hours of the 25th, The Crazy Adventurers were summoned back for the third round. This time they were given a dagger, a helmet, a 10’ pole, a magic rope of climbing, a magic rope of constricting, 15 minutes, a 20’ wide pool of water with a bar over it halfway across, and the goal of crossing the water without going in it. Kevlamin put on the helmet for protection and tried the ropes at random, unluckily activating the constricting rope. Flex hacked at the rope with the dagger until Kevlamin could pry it off. Knowing which one was the climbing rope now, they commanded it to attach to the pole over the water. First Clair tried balancing on the pole while using the rope to pull herself across the water, but that only worked for halfway and then she had to climb up the rope and swing herself back and forth until she could swing to the far side. Throwing the rope back and forth, with Mina catching the rope with the pole, allowed everyone to swing all the way across. This was easy for the agile Flex, but Mina almost fell in and Flex had to grab her to keep her from falling in. The goal was completed with time to spare, though Clair lost 5 points for her feet going in the water while crossing, giving them 35 out of 40 points.
((Ending xp)
Kevlamin – 2,400
Clair – 2,084 (2nd level!)
Flex – 1,129
Clair – 1,761 (corrected from over-starting last session, but now 2nd level!)
Rex4 – 682

Monday, June 28, 2010

Garham to Greyhawk Campaign: Session Six - pt. 1

Session Six – June 26, 2010
Kevlamin Serpenthelm, Suloise warrior (Kevin)
Clair, Hobbit shield-bearer (Megan)
Flex, (mixed race) human shield-bearer (Ruben)
Rex3 (mixed race) human medium (Pablo) – deceased
Rex4 (mixed race) human medium (Pablo)
Mina (mixed race) human acolyte of Ehlonna (Beth)

On Flocktime 19, 610, Waterday morning, Kevlamin, Clair, Mina, their hireling Nodwick and their wardog Fang paid 3 sp to ride a barge down river to the City of Yggsburgh. They spent the afternoon in Yggsburgh on two errands. One was to alert the local guardsmen about the escaped fugitives Flex and Setch being on the loose (Kevlamin got laughed at for letting them escape with some comments about rural militias). The other was to sell Setch's spellbook. A bookseller with his shop by the chapel of Boccob bought it off them for 210 gp in gems. After that, the small company left by the road north for the City of Greyhawk and they made it as far as the next village and found shelter in a barn.

Meanwhile, Flex and Rex3 had walked to the City of Yggsburgh after separating from a determined-to-reform Setch. Flex and Rex3 had quite a lot of spending money on them from all the loot they had sold from the highwaymen they had defeated and spent the day shopping in town and bought a new horse.

Before leaving on the morning of the 20th, Mina asked about any trouble they could expect on the road and learned that they might encounter brigands on the road as they neared Castle Greyhawk. Sure enough, they encountered the brigands well before reaching the side road to the castle and had to flee when a dozen javelin-throwing men charged them from a copse of trees up ahead. They retreated until they encountered – of all people – Flex and Rex3 riding on their new horse together. Flex and Rex3 were eager for revenge on Kevlamin and there was almost a battle, but Nodwick convinced them that they should join forces against the brigands.

Mina and Kevlamin devised a plan to lay in the tall grass to either side of the road and use the horse to lure the brigands to them. Sure enough, the brigands showed up about 15 minutes later, but they heard the ambushers standing up and were not surprised. The ambushers only succeeded in dropping one of the brigands, but Nodwick was knocked unconscious, Flex, Mina, and Fang were seriously injured, and Rex3 was killed. Kevlamin and Clair threw their treasure to the brigands to make them stop and the battle paused while their leader, a man in black robes, examined the gems.

It turned out that their leader sympathized with his prisoners – most of the brigands had started out as adventurers, but found no profit in adventure and too much competition to find work as mercenaries. They complained that Castle Greyhawk, once a well-known spot for adventure, had become a tourist trap with inhabited upper dungeon levels and guided tours of the lower levels. A deal was struck whereby Kevlamin would duel one of their fighters to the death and, if Kevlamin won, they could have their gems back and go free. It was close, but Kevlamin beat a half-orc brute named Zod and the brigands kept their promise. They even pushed a new member on the company – an apprentice magic-user who bore an uncanny resemblance to Rex3 and, by an unbelievable coincidence, happened to be named Rex4. Nodwick was thrown over the back of the horse and everyone else marched on.

The company next reached the Village of Hawfair, where everyone spent the remainder of the 20th and half the 21st resting. Clair and Mina quite liked the tranquility and gorgeous view of the hills from the sleepy village and briefly contemplated an early retirement there, but Kevlamin heard from a shepherd that there had been monster sightings on the road ahead. Some rumors were that the monster was a werewolf and others were that it was some type of undead. More fearful of the first alternative, the company was desperate for a silver weapon, but the local miller was only willing to give them half what their gems were worth and they would part with neither their horse nor dog in trade. The company settled instead for buying some additional maces, believing they were more effective against undead and Kevlamin pushed everyone to leave Hawfair and press on to Greyhawk.

As the road reached the edge of the Menhir Hills, Rex4 betrayed the company by casting a Sleep spell on them all with the intention of killing Kevlamin. But, just then, some sort of man-animal-thing crawled over the nearest hilltop and scrambled down on them. Rex4 punched Flex awake and kicked Kevlamin until he woke up. Flex managed to hold the monster off while the others woke Clair and Fang. The thing pounced on Clair next and scratched her with its claws. After being stabbed with two swords and a dagger the thing bounded off and escaped. Mina and Nodwick woke up as if from a mysterious nap, oblivious to the danger they had been in. Rex4 decided he needed the others alive if he was to make it out of the hills safely and no one could prove his murderous intent, so everyone traveled on together.

At the end of the 21st , the company reached the Village of Stonewyck and the castle of Sir Alec Gaxhill II. Still desperate for a silver weapon, the company learned of a silversmith who worked for the local knight and they sought an audience with Sir Alec. Alec, for his part, took an interest in Mina and invited everyone to dine with him that night. He insisted his smith could make them a silver dagger, but that they might have to stay a few days until it was done. But Mina was of lower birth than Alec had guessed and he lost interest in her by the end of the 22nd. Gracious host that he was, though, he made a gift of a silver dagger to the company and wished them luck on their last leg of the journey to Greyhawk.

On the 23rd, the company reached the City of Greyhawk. They paid an 8 sp toll for admittance into the city, were briefed on some of the laws, some advice on not spending too much and watching their purses in the low market, and given rough directions to the Adventurers Guildhall. The guards also spoke about a “Challenge of Champions” and assumed the company was there for it. The Old City sported some of the largest buildings anyone had ever seen and the buildings just kept getting bigger the farther into the city they went. They paid a 4 sp toll at the Black Gate and made their way into the newer quarters of the city. Little in the market tempted them and they had more fun making a game of guessing which building was the Adventurers Guildhall and were a bit disappointed when it turned out to be smaller than some of the other buildings they had guessed.

The guildhall was fortified and not unlike an inn in layout. It was abuzz with activity, for it seemed they had arrived just in time for a tournament called the Challenge of Champions that was to start in three days! Their sponsor, Lilyana Ortiz, could not be found immediately, so a guild steward, Clifford Adelardi, referred them to the Silver Dragon Inn down the street to get situated. The Silver Dragon Inn was the largest inn they had ever seen – almost the size of Garham Keep back home and almost as fortified. It had its own guard, its own curtain wall, its own stable, its own brewery, and three separate tavern rooms inside, one of them in the basement. Musicians performed inside for a packed house. The innkeeper, Olaf Al-Azul, said his rooms were full but that they could squeeze onto the common room floor at night for 2 sp each. A typical breakfast there of white beer, yogurt, bread cake in honey, sausage, and eggs cost 2 sp. A typical lunch of clams and mussels with a side of blackberries and a dessert of candied sweat meats, with red wine costs 5 sp.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Return to Castle Greyhawk" outline

If I ever find more writing time, this is how a sequel novella to "Castle Greyhawk" would go:
Ch. 1. Gronan and Ayelerach meet in the mostly-cleared out Temple of the Elder Gods, besting the type I demon that slew their henchmen. They comment on how little they’ve heard from adventurers in Blackmoor and Kalibruhn in the last year, bemoan how weird the monsters are getting in the dungeons, and figure there are 16 free adventurers, not counting henchmen, wandering the Greyhawk area. They debate having their henchmen raised from the dead, but don’t know who to with Crom no longer answering his clerics.
Ch. 2. Terik comes back to Greyhawk from the other side of the world, finds Tenser at his castle, and tells him of his experience meeting Zagyg and Zagyg’s warning that the world is changing.
Ch. 3. Robilar is stalking prehistoric mammals on the Wild Coast, but finding them rarer and rarer when he stumbles onto a bronze age village that should not be there. He even witnesses some cavemen seemingly evolve before his eyes.
Ch. 4. Terik brings Tenser to the Temple of the Elder Gods, but can’t open the portal to Formalhaut.
Ch. 5. Byrne and Rufus adventure in Hommlet.
Ch. 6. Robilar flies back from the Wild Coast in impossibly short time and joins in at the Temple of Elemental Evil. He is perplexed by this "Cuthburt" god the locals keep talking about.
Ch. 7. Robilar, Terik, and Tenser return to Castle Greyhawk and find the dungeon entirely different. They explore a new 13th level (with fountains of fire?).
Ch. 8. Robilar and Tenser seek answers from Mordenkainen in the Barrier Peaks. Mordenkainen knows little more than they do, but that seven adventurers who came directly from Earth are on Oerth and may know more. He has divined they are in the newly discovered land of Perrenland.
Ch. 9. Robilar, Tenser, and Mordenkainen find Milo Jagon, Naile Fangtooth, the elven ranger Ingrge, the bard Wymarc, the cleric Deav Dyne, the lizardman Gulth, and the Amazon battlemaid Yevele only to be attacked by ogre magi working for Yggwilv. Yggwilv steals the dice bracelet from Gulth.
Ch. 10. The adventurers all track down Iggwilv, who uses the dice bracelet to summon the border god, Saagrash (who Robilar and Mordenkainen know), to fight the heroes. But Zagyg arrives to announce that the world has finished a shift to a new age and Saagrash is transformed into Graa’zt and takes Iggwilv with him. Zagyg invites everyone to see Mordenkainen’s map of the world and how it has changed.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

More Cartoon Art

[Another sketch I had done, circa 1996, inspired by The Far Side.]

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Garham to Greyhawk Campaign: Session Five, pt. 2

Kevlamin won an audience with the captain of the guard in the village, Damenan, who promised to wait at the inn with his men for the fugitives to return and hold them. Next, they talked to the local trapper, Hal Pensak, about old legends and learned that there used to be druids in the Goldwood who left standing stones and, possibly, the manticore to guard them. Lastly, Kevlamin traded his short bow for some rope and a mastiff trained for fighting named Fang (the rope from the trader and Fang from the local dog trainer, Cobus Pini). But before they could do anything else, word came that the fugitives had been captured at the inn. More precisely, the fugitives were outside the inn with a circle of almost a dozen archers around them. Brechtje tried to speak in the defense of the fugitives, arguing for the importance of their quest, but Kevlamin and Clair would hear none of it. The fugitives tried then to make a break for it, but were overwhelmed by sheer numbers, tied up, and gagged. The deputies recovered one of the stolen horses and, lacking a saddle, Nodwick still wound up carrying anything possibly dangerous the fugitives had on the long trek back to Garham.

Back in Garham, Mina and Regdar had tricked the priest of Cuthbert, Hamid, into letting them take Rex’s unburied coffin on the pretense that the crimes of his friends would look badly on the chapel. They promised to keep the coffin under guard at the cemetery, but as soon as they were alone Regdar started performing some amateur surgery on the corpse to remove what organs he could. Or at least they thought they were alone, for a couple belonging to the Green Lady Cult caught them and seemed about to draw weapons on them, but Mina and Regdar again talked their way out of trouble, convincing the cultists that this was an obscure burial ritual wherein the organs needed to be burned separately. The cultists observed and took notes as the dark deed was done.

Further trouble while Mina and Regdar were still waiting in Garham on Godsday morning. They were attending the traditional Godsday ceremonies in the market square outside the chapel with the usual crowd of 100+, but this time the gang of ruffians arrived late and began heckling the priests. Regdar tried to talk the lead heckler into leaving, but was knocked out with a sword pommel to the head for his efforts. The ruffians might have done more to the poor elf, but Mina led the town guards through the crowd and dispersed the ruffians. While Regdar rested and slowly recovered, Mina spoke to the priests and learned that the ruffians, known as Dirty George’s Gang, had embarrassed them so bad that they were willing to unofficially pay Mina and her friends to get rid of them. Mina refused the offer, but kept an eye on the gang throughout the day and learned that they were too good at concealing their worst behavior whenever the town watch was watching. Finally, after Regdar had recovered, the pair of them observed Dirty George’s Gang heading out to the Lake Woods to hunt for the giant otter again and pursued.

Meanwhile, the deputies were dragging their prisoners back home on the final leg of the journey through the Lake Woods when they came on a battle. It was not Mina and Regdar fighting the gang, though they did spot Mina and Regdar watching the battle on its far side. Rather, the battle was between the gang and the giant otter and Dirty George himself, who Mina and Regdar had just observed being charmed by some spell of the otter’s into aiding it. From both sides, the friends rushed the ruffians. Kevlamin and Clair found themselves evenly matched by the ruffians they fought, but Mina was stabbed in the arm badly enough to make her lose consciousness and Regdar was run through with a spear and killed (not unlike Rex’s death, ironically). Seredoc, the last of the Halfling slingers still accompanying them, met his untimely end as well. Luckily, Fang was more than a match for the ruffians (at least in single combat) and allowed Kevlamin and Clair to pull out of melee and retrieve Mina. Thelonius stayed behind, unwilling to leave the battle, and covered their retreat.

And so, only Kevlamin, Clair, Mina, Nodwick, and Fang made it back to Garham alive. Their prisoners – the fugitives Flex, Setch, and Rex3 – had jumped into the river and drifted downstream to freedom during the battle. Settling in to rest at Fester’s Hostel, Kevlamin and Clair debated what to do next, but decided it was hopeless to find the fugitives now and that they would next journey on to the City of Greyhawk. And no sooner had Mina recovered than she found an old friend, a human fighter who coincidentally was also named Regdar, willing to accompany them.
((Current XP by the end))
Kevlamin – 2,078 (2nd level!)
Clair – 1,822
Mina – 1,062
Regdar (the 2nd one) – will start with 1,039

Monday, June 14, 2010

Garham to Greyhawk Campaign - Session Five, pt. 1

SESSION FIVE – June 12, 2010
Kevlamin Serpenthelm, Suloise shield-bearer (Kevin)
Clair, Hobbit shield-bearer (Megan)
Mina, mixed-raced human acolyte of Ehlonna (Beth)
Regdar, high elf rogue (Garrett)
Almost six weeks ago, five friends made a promise to go on an adventure. They made that promise to the paladin Lilyana Ortiz of Greyhawk who would sponsor them for the Adventurers Guild of Greyhawk if they came back successful. Three of the friends never came back at all, but the Hobbit Clair and the Suloise Kevlamin Serpenthelm did. But this adventure followed them back home. The goblins of the Roaring Wolf Tribe, broken and scattered, abandoned their caves and fled deeper into the Menhir Hills, but the bugbears who controlled the tribe managed to steal silver ore from the nearby mines before they fled with it. Lilyana Ortiz convinced Garrison Commander Tolliver Garham to send a large party to hunt and kill the bugbears and this party included Clair and Kevlamin. The leader of the bugbears, Kraglut, was slain by Tolliver's own hand and he claimed Kraglut's magic ring for his own. Then he publicly apologized back in town, for the caves where the bugbears and goblins had laired were caves he had himself explored years ago when he was a fledgling adventure, but never thought to have the caves sealed or guarded.

With the adventure complete, Clair and Kevlamin's admittance into the Adventurers Guild was all but assured – until they learned that three associates of theirs – Setch, Flex, and Rex2, were wanted for murder. They had killed the stablemaster in town a week ago and fled with two horses for parts unknown – unknown until sightings were reported from the south. Tolliver warned against going to Greyhawk to rendezvous with Lilyana until after this blemish on your careers, being guilty by association, had been rectified. The three fugitives had to be either brought to justice or made to atone for their crimes. Luckily, the three criminals had made it well known that they were determined to undertake a quest from a high priest in exchange for a Raise Dead spell and everyone knows such high priests would only be found in the cities of Yggsburgh or Greyhawk. When sightings of the fugitives were made and reported from the south, they knew Yggsburgh must be their goal.

Some time later, Setch and Flex had reached the City of Yggsburgh, but without Rex2, who had died along the way when they fought highwaymen in the Village of Urtford. Rex3, son of Rex2, had joined the quest in his stead. After gaining an audience with a priest of Boccob in Boccob's temple, they were given a quest to raise Rex from the dead and the quest was to break an altar to an evil deity in the Salt Mines of Serpent Ridge. That first night in Yggsburgh, though, was tricky for everyone. Setch tried to sleep in an alley and was arrested and fined 1 gp for loitering in what turned out to be the alley next to the Lord Mayor's mansion. Rex3 was still exploring Guild Street at curfew and was fined 1 ep for being out past curfew. Only Flex had more luck, having talked to the guards at Rivergate and being directed to the nearby Green Dragon Inn. The rooms there were an obscenely expensive 16 sp per night there, but when Setch and Rex3 heard of the place it sounded better than nothing. The beds were the best they had ever slept in – with mattresses stuffed with feathers instead of pallets lined with straw. On the second day they tried to make plans for their quest and sought more information about Serpent Ridge. Overwhelmed with the size of Serpent Ridge and having no idea where to start looking for the evil altar, the three fugitives settled in to what they knew best – getting drunk in taverns. They also learned that they could live much more cheaply in the “Outs”, the suburb around Yggsburgh.

It was in one such tavern that the fugitives met Brechtje Fitzroy, or Breck as she liked to be called. A plump, freckled, and always smiling woman, Breck liked to get drunk just as much as they, but in two of her more lucid moments she told them two things of importance – one was that she was actually a priestess of Wenta the Alewife and Harvest Goddess and ,two, that she had in her possession a treasure map. The map showed the length of the Serpent Ridge and the Village of Saltcreek and, just past that, something said to be the “key” to a tomb. Since the fugitives had nothing better to go on, they decided this was an omen and agreed to follow the map in the hope that it would lead them to the evil altar.
On the 14th of Flocktime, Freeday, 610 CY, Clair, Kevlamin, Thelonius, their hirelings Seredoc and Nodwick, and their newest recruits, Mina and Regdar, paid 10 sp for a ride down to Yggsburgh on the Ellery River. They split up and made inquiries about the fugitives with the city guards, at the temples, and in the shops. Kevlamin proudly displayed the warrant for an arrest he had in writing, for he and Clair had been deputized before leaving Garham. They learned about the fugitives' legal troubles in town and, more importantly, learned about their quest from the Boccobites. Kevlamin and Clair wanted to set out for the Serpent Ridge to continue their search, but Mina and Regdar came back from their information gathering with a different plan – they wanted to return to Garham and dispose of Rex's body so he could never be brought back to life.

At the ferry to cross the Ellery, Mina and Regdar split off and headed on to Garham. Everyone else ferried across to the Village of Saltcreek at the base of the Serpent Ridge hills and asked about the fugitives at the Always More Ale Inn. Malachi the inn's manager and Mari the serving wench confirmed that the fugitives, plus Brechtje, had been there, not once, but twice – the second time with injuries, though they left again for the Serpent Ridge just that morning looking much better. The party, minus Nodwick who stayed at the inn, left at once in pursuit and, a mile later were in battle with a huge lizard they found in an overturned cart on the road. The lizard seriously injured Thelonius, but was quickly dispatched thereafter. Another mile further they were attacked by two stirges. This time, Seredoc was seriously injured, but the stirges were dispatched without further trouble. Following the road still further, they found the road veered off the Serpent Ridge down to an old rickety bridge over a wide stream. Judging that the fugitives could not have gone this way, everyone searched for tracks and Thelonius found two sets of bootprints leading off the road here. The path led south and west, winding around to one of the open-pit salt mines that were said to line the Serpent Ridge. Since the mines were guarded, it was easy to find guards to talk to. The guards said huge lizards were all too common on the Ridge, identified the stirges for them (the PCs didn't know what they were before), and warned them that the most dangerous monster on the Ridge was a manticore. Fearing the Ridge was too dangerous to continue, the party continued to follow the trail until it took them all the way back to Saltcreek.

Meanwhile, Mina and Regdar had enjoyed a nice quiet walk all day back to the Village of Urtford. Regdar had stopped to ask questions of farmers on the road and traded something for radishes from one of them. Continuing his interest in agriculture, Regdar insisted on asking a farmer for sanctuary for the night, which was granted in exchange for his radishes. The next day, they were traveling through the Lake Woods south of Garham when they encountered a man sitting with his feet in the river. The man warned them about a gang of ruffians who had come to town in the last few weeks, had killed Old Whiskers, the murderous catfish of Diamondfish Lake, and were hunting the giant otter of the Ellery River next. The man asked them both to tell the ruffians they had seen the otter swim far away and then, as they were walking away, it turned into the giant otter and swam away.

The next day, on Starday the 15th, the main party woke at the inn, waited for Thelonius to heal himself, and asked around more about the Serpent Ridge in Saltcreek. The trader remembered seeing a map the fugitives had that showed a key of some sort in the Goldwood.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Free Comic Book Day loot

This last Free Comic Book Day, I acquired a lot of free comic books. No, I mean a lot! I'm not going to review them (much), but I have placed them in order from best to worst.
1. DC Kids: Mega Sampler 2010 #0
2. DC Kids: Mega Sampler 2010 #1
Because Tiny Titans is the best!
3. Owly and Friends!
Not only is Owly great, but this issue introduced my family to Johnny Boo. Yay, Johnny Boo, the 5-year old Casper!
4. Bongo Comics Free-for-All!
Because the Simpsons just never gets old, even when you think it should by now.
5. Owly and Friends! [and Yam]
More Owly and Johnny Boo goodness, though I didn't care for Korgi much and Yam not at all.
6. Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock: One-Shot
The first story is good enough to have been an episode of the TV show (It's one of those slap yourself in the forehead and say “of course!” moments). The flip side is Mouse Guard, but I don't care for it. Too hard to tell the mice apart!
7. Atomic Robo
Robot Deadpool, maybe it should be called, but funnier. Didn't care at all for the back-up features.
8. Toy Story
A somewhat disappointing introduction to Boom Comics' Pixar line, as this story seemed to cover the same ground we already saw in Toy Story 2.
9. Yow!: Drawn & Quarterly Presents a “John Stanley Library” Grab-Bag
The Tubby story is particularly sweet.
10. Overstreet Guide to Collecting Comics
Holy Understanding Comics rip-off, Batman!
11. The Stuff of Legend
A little dark for my taste, but creative – like Tim Burton directing Toy Story. The flip-book bored me.
12. The Penguins of Madagascar
Love the show; liked the comic book. Good art. Surprisingly bored by the Shrek flip-book.
13. The Tick: Smash First Issue
Would have rated much higher if I didn't already have a copy of this. Or do I have two already...?
14. The Invincible Iron Man #1
Photo-realistic art in superhero comics is old to me already and this is my first issue. Can we get back to people aping Kirby yet?
15. The Sixth Gun
Wonderfully inventive, but just way too dark and negative for my liking. Note to writer – try making comics fun!
16. Iron Man/Nova
I'm torn on Marvel Adventures stories. On one hand, this is the sort of fun, easy-to-read storytelling Marvel should be doing all the time. But on the other hand, it's a slap in the face to the great creators of the past to say that all Marvel continuity needs to be thrown out. No idea why Nova is being drawn to look like a kid.
17. Iron Man/Thor
Romita and Janson must be slumming these days. I've so seen this plot before.
18. Sonics the Hedgehog: Hide & Seek & Destroy
Not bad, but there's a mind-boggling amount of backstory only hinted at and you didn't make me want to learn it badly enough.
19. Archie's Summer Splash #1
Cute, harmless fun – just like any Archie comic from the last 70 years.
20. Incorruptible
Oh, Waid, can't you let go of your Empire concept from the aborted Gorilla Comics? The new thing here is that the archnemesis becomes the good guy when the hero becomes the bad guy. Me, I just want to see bad guys get thrashed by good guys and don't want to have to wait too long to see them get their whupping.
21. Green Hornet #1
We get to see a bunch of Green Hornets and Katos get introduced. Each plot only gets so far as the hero showing up and trying to look cool. Yawn.
22. The Oni Press Free For All! #1
Salt Water Taffy is okay.
23. X-Men: Second Coming; Prepare
No thanks. Who still reads this stuff?
24. War of the Supermen #0
Robinson should have his wrist slapped whenever he thinks he can write superheroes. Get back to Leave It to Chance!
25. Buck Rogers #0
Not that this was great or even very good, but I was still surprised that this was the one comic book the library couldn't even give away.
26. Marvel Your Universe
Or, what would happen if you let lame hack writers (yeah, you, Bendis!) control everything.
27. The Amazing Spider-Man: Grim Hunt; the Kraven Saga
Because “grim” and Spider-Man mixed so well when? Sigh. When will kids these days learn?
28. DC Comics: 30 Essential Graphic Novels
Nothing but a catalog, and only THREE of them are anywhere near essential.
29. Fearless Dawn #1
Some small companies are just begging to go belly-up, I guess.
30. Weathercraft and Other Unusual Tales
Not just meaningless, but pretentiously meaningless. Some might call it art; I call it bad storytelling.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Garham to Greyhawk Campaign: Session Four

Garham to Greyhawk Campaign
Session Four – May 29, 2010 (Flocktime 4, 610)
Flex, human (mixed race) shield-bearer (1st level fighter)(Ruben)
Rex2, human (mixed race) medium (1st-level magic-user)(Pablo) – deceased
Rex3, human (mixed race) medium (1st-level magic-user)(Pablo)
Setch, human (mixed race) medium (1st-level magic-user)(Tyler)

The company had fled back into the Roaring Wolf Caverns to flee the ambush in the ravine that had left fully half of the non-halfling ranks unconscious. There they stayed, resting in the cleared-out caves until everyone still alive (since Rex was dead) regained consciousness. They began exploring again to find another way out and encountered green slime – one of the Halflings was nearly killed by it. They also found nine goblins left in the caves, but after a short battle five of the goblins were dead and the other four surrendered. From their prisoners, the company learned of a “back door” to the caves and used it to make their way back to Garham.

It was the 4th of Flocktime when the paladin Lilyana Ortiz returned to Garham on her pegasus, as she had promised. If she approved of the company’s story of their adventure, she had promised to sponsor them in the Adventurers Guild of Greyhawk. She heard the company’s story of adventure, but judged that it was too soon to say the story was done. Most of the company agreed to stay and see the bugbear menace through to the end. Indeed, it seemed it would not take long to encounter them again, as they had staged a daring raid on a wagon train bearing silver ore from the mines not long after the company returned to Garham to recooperate.

But Flex’s new recruits, Seth’s brother Setch and Rex’s brother Rex2, had a different plan. They vowed to reach the high priests in the City of Yggsburgh and undertake a quest in exchange for Rex being brought back to life. For that, they needed (or thought they needed) robes to hide Flex’s armor and horses for the journey.

It was the 5th of Flocktime when Flex took the new recruits, Setch and Rex2, to the marketplace to buy horses and robes. Buying used robes from a used clothes seller was easy, but no horse merchant came to market this day. The three companions went to Lance's Stables to buy horses. Lance was rude first, but the companions became so belligerent that Lance called for three stablehands for back-up and, when the companions would still not back down, whistled for the militia. Setch immediately changed sides and ran to find the militiamen, but Rex2's sleep spell evened the odds when it put everyone but him and Lance to sleep. Rex2 tried kicking and stabbing Lance, then woke up Flex. Lance knocked out Rex2 with a blow to the back of the head, but was then impaled on Flex's sword. Setch returned with five militiamen just in time to see Flex throw Rex2 on the back of a horse and ride off bareback (luckily, Flex was good at riding) through the back door of the stable. Three militiamen gave chase while two stayed behind to guard the scene of the crime. A pursuing militiaman hit Flex with a sling bullet and seriously injured him, but Flex managed to stay riding. Meanwhile, Setch cast his own sleep spell on the two remaining guards, saddled up a pony, and rode off through the front doors to the stable.

After several hours of riding back and forth south of town before meeting up with each other, the three criminal refugees agreed to ride straight away for the City of Yggsburgh and complete their intended quest. They met a sextet of performers on the road with two carts, bound for Garham, and paid them 2 gp to turn around and travel with the three criminals instead. They considered flagging down a river barge for faster travel, but not when they considered how much it might cost and how little money they had left. The carts full of performers and pretend-performers next met a giant otter that emerged on the side of the road and actually spoke to them. The conversation was short, ending in the otter warning them that no good would come of evil, but the criminals ignored it and rode on. At nightfall, they came to a small merchant wagon train camping north of the village of Urtford. Rather than press on to the village, the criminals accepted the merchants' offer to camp with them and learned that these were oat merchants – a handy source of food for their stolen steeds.

The next morning the three rogues went into the village's tavern for breakfast and restocking their supply of dried foodstuffs. Setch and Rex2 were considering seeing if they could get drunk on ale when four men and a women burst into the tavern and announced they were highwaymen intent on robbing the establishment (having mistaken the rogues for being the merchants). Once again, Rex2 put everyone to sleep (including the tavern attendants) except for himself and one opponent. Rex2 woke up Setch just before the remaining highwaymen killed Rex2 with a morning star. Setch avenged Rex2 by putting the remaining highwayman to sleep and killed all five of them in their sleep. Then he woke up Flex and they stripped the highwaymen of their belongings, finding them richer than any foes they had fought to date – even finding a new spellbook! Flex and Setch split the treasure between them. Then they pinched a barrel of beer from the tavern for good measure, convincing the merchants outside that they had bought in on sale inside.

Rex2, they brought out dead and explained it away as natural causes. But this did present a quandry for them – they were heading to Yggsburgh to have Rex resurrected and now Rex2 was in need of resurrection! At least their numbers were replenished when a young man from the village spotted Rex2's body and cried over his deceased father! The young man was, curiously, named Rex3 and agreed to not only complete his father's quest for his uncle, but vowed to undertake a second to bring back his dad.

The second day of travel on the road was long and hard, but free of diversions. By the end of the 6th , the rogues had reached the gates of the City of Yggsburgh. The next morning, when they were allowed entrance, they went straight to the temples. Setch chose the Temple of Boccob. They told their wishes to a priest there and he left them alone while he conferred with the other priests. Later in the day, the priest came back to them with a quest to undertake. If the rogues went to the salt mines in the Serpent Ridge and broke the altar of an evil god there, the priests of Boccob would bring Rex back from the dead. But here Setch betrayed them again, refusing the quest and offering to trade his old spellbook for just one new spell from the Boccobites. Flex and Rex3, feeling they did not have the strength to take on the quest with a company of two, settled down in the city for a time while Setch studied under the Boccobites.
((Ending XP))
Setch – 721
Flex – 891
Rex3 - 445

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Best birthday weekend ever?

The best, four-day birthday weekend ever started Friday morning. I was at Wheaton College, giving a 45-minute presentation on local documents to NIDL (Northern Illinois Depository Libraries). They seemed to love my presentation, as did my boss who was there.

That evening, Megan, Tyler and I had our first non-family house guest since Megan arrived, my old friend Ronny. We fed him dinner, I ran them through two quick chapters of a classic Marvel Super Heroes module – M1, The Breeder Bombs -- with Megan playing Spider-Man, Tyler playing the Thing, and Ronny playing Nightcrawler. They did a great job -- I was particularly impressed with Tyler's job as the Thing – and a great time was had by all.

On Saturday morning, I took Megan and Tyler to Half Price Books and gave them some money to buy me a present. Then we went to downtown Bartlett, bought some candy at the candy store there, and walked around to visit the other shops. In time for lunch, we headed to downtown Elgin for Beef Villa, which sends me a birthday card redeemable for a free Italian beef every year, so that's the only time we ever go all the way to Beef Villa. All the food is great there and all the portions, except for the size of their hamburgers, is generous.

After that we went to Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin (Megan's first visit) and spent a wonderful hour and a half there going through their extensive comic book collection. We checked out a near-record 22 books, including things all three of us wanted to read like Top Shelf's Owly and Johnny Boo, and a videotape of Mystery Science Theatre 3000: the Movie. We were leaving just as this big event was starting at the library. The Jesse White Tumblers were arriving – including Jesse White himself who walked right past us. I wanted to stay longer, but Megan and Tyler had enough of the library.

Next we went to Mainstreet U.S.A., a skating rink in what passes for Streamwood's downtown that has been around since I was young. It cost more to get in than I thought it would -- $21 – but it was worth it because it was Tyler's first time ever on roller skates and he surprised everyone, including himself, by loving it. I was so proud to hear him say he was so proud of himself. He fell a lot, but always got right back up and tried again (which is not typically like Tyler). I was also pretty proud of myself for falling the least of the three of us.

We were surprisingly not too hungry at dinner time so we all ate light at home and then headed over to my mom's house where all four of us watched MST3K. Tyler and I loved it and laughed a lot. Afterward, we went home and, exhausted from our full day, coasted into bedtime.

On Sunday, I had to go into work. This was a last minute change of plan that had only sprung up the day before when my coworker Neda called in sick in advance. While I was at work, Megan watched Tyler. Six hours was their longest time alone together yet, but they got along great and had a good day.

After I had come home, had dinner, took them to Mom's house to walk her dog, and then drove Tyler to his mother, Megan and I went to see She's Outta My League at the Picture Show. I thought it was surprisingly good and gave it a B+. Then we came home and watched Chaplin on DVD, a movie I wanted to share with Megan because that was, what I consider, an A+ movie.

Monday, my actual birthday, had some disappointments. Due to some bad scheduling, Megan and I were stuck in a laundry mat for almost two hours. We were both excited about going to Wheaton College to see the C.S. Lewis collection there, but on that day – of all days! – the building was closed for a staff meeting. I’d been waiting until my birthday to show Megan one of my favorite movies, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, but she didn’t enjoy it. No one did particularly well at bowling that night and Tyler got his feelings hurt that he lost. Still, an unexpected highlight was our walk through downtown Wheaton instead of Wheaton College. We all had a good birthday dinner at Culver’s with my mom. It was great having the three of them sing happy birthday to me. Megan’s cake that she baked turned out great. I really like the copy of Essential Iron Man vol. 3 that was my birthday present. And after we dropped off Tyler, we went back to Mom’s house and finished watching Harvey there, a classic favorite of mine and Mom’s that Megan and I had started watching before my birthday weekend.

So, while it may have been too much to ask for everything to go perfect for four straight days, it was still a fantastic four-day birthday weekend extravaganza and deserves the title of best ever!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Garham to Greyhawk Campaign: Session Three - pt. 2

Manga slunk off to go follow Ruben. The two of them tried a new tunnel and found it blocked by nets strung with bells. Manga plucked out a bell and set all the bells ringing. When they returned to the party, there was much scolding and slapping to be had again.

Deciding to avoid the bells and take a side passage untried, the company found a passage blocked with rubble, a second passage guarded by a goblin sentry who spotted them and ran to warn others, and – avoiding chasing the sentry – they moved on and found down a third passage a room that was defended by eight adult goblins and five young ones from behind a wall of stakes on a ledge. Manga’s sleep spell put all but three adult goblins to sleep. Two of the goblins moved to block the openings to the ledge on either side of the stake wall. Ruben and Kevlamin stepped up first to oppose them, but Kevlamin stepped back after being seriously injured and Ruben was killed. Clair stepped up to take Ruben’s place and Thelonius advanced to take Kevlamin’s place. Meanwhile, the third goblin was waking others, but the Halfling slingers soon decimated them and the sleeping goblins. The two remaining goblins, both seriously injured, surrendered. Kevlamin told them to choose which would be spared and the goblins turned on each other and strangled each other to death. The treasure haul from this cave was 16 sp, 11 suits of goblin-sized leather armor, and 8 spears.

Returning to the entry cave, barricading them in with stakes, the company chose to stay here and rest while Thelonius prepared his healing ceremony and Manga re-studied his sleep spell. After an hour, Archippos and Nodwick arrived from outside, escorting a prisoner they had caught snooping around nearby. Kevlamin recognized the man as Flex, brother of Ruben. Flex was also a skilled fighter (and even better equipped than Ruben ever was) and was accepted into the company as Ruben’s replacement.

After eight more hours of rest, their stay was interrupted again – this time by an attack. Four goblins were trying to squeeze through the stockade wall one at a time while a bugbear gave them cover fire with a bow and arrow while crouching behind the wall. When Clair managed to hit the bugbear with a thrown spear, the bugbear announced a retreat. The bugbear and all but one goblin were cut down by the Halfling slingers as they fled. Kevlamin claimed the bugbear’s bow and arrows and brigandine armor, while Flex took two morning stars for his own. But it was decided even the entry cave was too dangerous and the company abandoned the caves altogether to go rest back in town. Nodwick complained about all the suits of leather armor he had to carry, though at least the hireling finally had work to do.

Despite Flex’s protests, the friends voted to dispose of Ruben’s body cheaply out in the forest.

In Garham, Kevlamin sold the leather armor to the militia and impressed the militiamen with his tale of bravery in the caves. His altercation with the men-at-arms at Garrison Keep two weeks earlier was forgiven and forgotten. Kevlamin wished to have the bugbear armor refitted to his size, but found it would cost 5 gp he did not have to spare to have a blacksmith and a leatherworker do the refitting together. Flex stopped grieving for Ruben long enough to sell all of his late brother’s equipment. With the money, he was able to carry out Ruben’s unlived dream of owning a pack mule someday. It was around this time that Manga revealed that this was only his magic name – that his true name was actually Rex.

On the 27th, with the friends all healed up and better equipped than ever, they returned again to the Roaring Wolf Caverns. Once again they found the entry cave abandoned – or so they thought. When Flex went to squeeze through the gap in the stockade wall blocking the tunnel to the deeper caves, a carrion crawler reared up, grabbed him with a tentacle, and Flex fell slack in its grip. When Kevlamin and Rex ran up to help out, they too fell victim to its tentacles. Although the insectoid monster had three living shields in front of it, Clair ordered the Halfling slingers to open fire and helped them by throwing more spears. Clair accidentally knocked Kevlamin unconscious with a spear, but the Halflings managed to kill the crawler. After 10 minutes, the paralytic secretions from the crawler’s tentacles wore off on Flex and Rex. But the entry cave no longer seemed like a safe place so they retired to the ravine and made camp under the cloudy, afternoon sky.

After a few hours, a large force of eight goblins on foot, eight more riding wolves and charging with lances, and four bugbears at the rear began to advance down into the ravine towards them. Rex insisted he had only memorized Magic Missile this time, but everyone else assured him he must have been mistaken. For the good of the company, it turned out that he was. His sleep spell and the Halfling slingers made the charge largely ineffectual and only three goblins on wolfback reached the company. Flex and Rex managed to dodge their attackers, but Thelonius was nearly skewered by a lance and only his armor and helmet saved his life. Clair convinced the Halflings to help her lift Kevlamin and Thelonius and take them to the safety of the caves. Flex and Rex would not listen and stayed to fight, even though the bugbears were even now kicking awake the sleeping bugbears on the slope of the ravine. Rex was skewered on a lance and killed. Only then did Flex flee into the caves to join the others in finding a safe haven, or a hidden exit, from the lair of their very would-be killers…
((Ending XP))
Clair – 792 xp
Kevlamin – 923 xp
Flex – 443 xp
Rex2, Setch, and a TBA PC for Joyce will all begin next time with 222 xp

Garham to Greyhawk Campaign: Session Three - pt. 1

Garham Campaign
Session Three – May 8, 2010 (Planting 22, 610)
Kevlamin Serpenthelm human (Suloise) shield-bearer (1st level fighter)(Kevin)
Clair, halfling shield-bearer (1st level fighter)(Megan)
Ruben Soot, human (mixed race) shield-bearer (1st level fighter)(Ruben) - deceased
Flex, human (mixed race) shield-bearer (1st level fighter)(Ruben)
“Manga” Rex, human (mixed race) medium (1st-level magic-user)(Pablo) - deceased

What had gone before: the battle with the bugbears in the Roaring Wolf Caverns had been
inconclusive, with the two sides disengaging – your side because the Halfling slingers had fallen back after four of their members went down, leaving you with no backup, and the bugbears chose not to pursue because they were all injured. Retreating to the ravine outside the caverns, a serious argument ensued between Claire, who wanted to continue pressing against the bugbears before they could regroup, and Kevlamin, who felt their fallen friend Seth deserved a proper funeral. Fredegar, leader of the Halflings, agreed with Kevlamin. Two of his slingers would recover, but two of them – Gerontius and Merimac – were dead and needed funerals as well. Leaving the Hobbits to care for their own in the forest, the friends returned to Garham with Seth’s body and quickly had two more decisions to make – how much to spend on Seth’s funeral and whether to keep Seth’s things or find family to give them back to.

It was formally decided at that point that all decisions for the group would be made by majority vote of all members due an equal share of the treasure ((which included the NPC Thelonius, whose votes were determined randomly)). After much consideration of what to do with Seth's remains, and some negative opinions expressed by Claire and Kevlamin of his value while alive, it was decided to save money on a funeral and burn his remains themselves out in the forest. For at least some appearance of decorum, they brought all his possessions to his cousin Setch ((the name chosen by Seth's player for his next character, though he was not playing this day)). Setch vowed revenge against the bugbears, but was still in training and could not accompany the friends until his training was over ((when he next attended)).

Late on the following day, on the 17th, the friends rendezvoused with their whole party and trekked north once more across the Greenridge towards the ravine where the Roaring Wolf Caverns waited. It had been two weeks to the day since the friends had taken the offer of Lilyana Ortiz to go on an adventure in exchange for her sponsorship into the Adventurers Guild of Greyhawk.

The entry caves still seemed deserted at first, so the company returned to the caves where they had left off. After surprising a lone goblin and overrunning a party of six goblins armed with javelins by force of superior numbers (during which, a Hobbit slinger named Seredic proved himself a noteworthy fighter), all seemed well for a rematch with the bugbears.

It was not to be. An initial encounter with two bugbears led to being boxed in with three bugbears sneaking up from behind. The slingers were drawn into melee with the bugbears at their rear. Two more Halflings – Odovacar and Hamson – were killed and two more knocked unconscious. In the front ranks, Ruben, Claire, and Manga did most of the damage to the bugbears, with Manga emerging seriously injured. Worse yet, the bugbears seemed to be targeting the two people in the best
armor, perhaps mistaking them leaders. Thelonius was knocked unconscious and Daphne was killed by a bugbear who brained her with a morning star. Three bugbears were killed before the last two fled.

Unable to carry out so many dead and injured quickly, the decision was rest up in a cave, turning it into a stockade surrounded by the sharpened wooden stakes found throughout so much of the complex. Guards had to stay alert, for the bugbears would return with bows and arrows and fire on the stockade before fleeing.

Once Thelonius was awake, he recommended staying here long enough for his healing ceremony and then make a run for the exit. Scouting parties found the entry caves were being infrequently patrolled so it just came down to timing their run for the exit just right. On the morning of the 22nd, with goblins and bugbears pursuing them, they managed to run out into the morning sunlight-bathed ravine with their dead.

The first decision that was made was to retreat from the ravine. Then the friends decided they should find Archippos and Nodwick, who had been left outside in the ravine four days earlier and were now missing. Backtracking towards town, they soon found the two missing hirelings at a new campsite. Archippos reported seeing goblins coming and going from the ravine almost every night.

On the way back to town, the friends saw Attloi wagons parked in the poachers-woodsmen's camp. The friends decided not to investigate.

The friends then returned to Garham to restock on equipment. Clair traded in all their fishing gear (since they had decided never to pursue Old Whiskers on the lake) at the Bigfish Trading Store. Torches and lamp oil were the highest priorities, since they had used up all their light sources in the caves. They still planned to rely on poaching in the forest rather than buying rations in town. Kevlamin spent 7 sp to secure two rooms for them at Fester’s Hostel for the next five days.

Because Daphne had proven invaluable to the party, it was unanimous that she be given a more proper funeral. At the expense of 10 gp, she was given a wake at the Garham Chapel, to be followed by a funeral pyre set adrift on Diamondfish Lake that Godsday evening. Her possessions were given to the church, which would use them to outfit any adventuring clerics ((read: future PCs)) in the future.

Ruben was very interested in acquiring a horse when marketday came around on the 24th, hoping to find one cheaper than they were sold for at the stables in town, but found even a pony there beyond his means. The horse-trader promised to still be in town on the 26th, when the market reopened after Godsday.

Ruben also took it open himself to find out more about the mines that the bugbears threatened. He decided to go straight to Balabar Smets at home and ask for information, even though Kevlamin warned him about the surly guards at his manor. Sure enough, the guards were uncooperative and mocked him. Manga, growing restless from this prolonged stay back in town, had followed Ruben and decided to attack the guards. Ruben joined in. Though they managed to knock down and hurt one of the guards, Manga was knocked out by the other and Ruben fled when outnumbered. Later that day, the friends found Manga, instead of being killed or arrested, unconscious and naked, left up in a tree. Kevlamin bought him new robes and a dagger, but after Manga woke up there was much scolding and slapping to be had.

On the morning of the 26th, the friends set out early, met up with their squad of Hobbit slingers along the Woodsmen's Trail, and returned to the caves. Ruben volunteered to scout ahead while the others reset stakes in the entry cave to turn that place into their fall-back stockade.