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