Monday, 28 December 2009

Living used to be a whole lot cheaper

Not so long ago, being alive didn't cost much money.

Fruit grew on trees, meat was to be found on wild animals and water just fell from the sky - a gift from nature (or the gods). Houses were found in caves or built from trees, possibly by a parent for a child. Travel was very cheap because we just used our legs, or sat atop an another animal as it moved. When people did things for each other it was out of kindness, or love, or necessity, or possibly to trade favours.

Now, however, for us at least, almost every aspect of life has been successfully monetised by someone, somewhere... and so life is a hell of a lot of expenses.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The mindless; the enemy of the sentient

Sometimes crazy ideas come to me in fits of creativity and I feel like sharing them through my blog to get other opinions. This is one of those posts.

Wandering monsters are often sentient creatures, but really, why are they? They arrive, mostly fight the party and hopefully are defeated. So why not make all wandering monster lists mindless creatures? By mindless I mean vermin, oozes, zombies and so on.

I'm considering going down this route and seeing what happens. I can even tie it into my light vs dark campaign mythology. Perhaps, the mindless are creatures of the dark, making most sentient races creatures of the light. This might give my campaign a lovecraftian feel as a consequence and it might fit in well: the heroes of the light and its sentient races trying to hold back a tide of the mindless dark and its evil, intelligent manipulators.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

WOTC going after the WOW market

So I heard today that Wizards of the coast is gunning for the World of Warcraft market and this helped shape the design of the fourth edition of Dungeons and Dragons. Now, I don't know how true this is - and I don't play 4th edition myself, although one day I may give it a spin.

Assuming this is true, this strikes me as being very silly indeed. D&D has been the number one roleplaying game for 35 years. It was the first roleplaying game and I know first hand that there is magic in this game. I can't quite say how it is invoked, but it's there in play, captivating us as players and keeping us coming back for more. Some people have been playing it for decades. So does Wizards of the coast perhaps not have faith in its own product any more - that it can't stand on its own legs and must instead copy another game which itself wouldn't exist if it weren't for their own game?

I'll let you into a secret. In thirty five years, all the computer hardware that people are playing World of Warcraft on will be relegated to landfills and museums. The servers will have long ago been switched off or will be running some other game, the next big thing on the massively multiplayer front. World of Warcraft will be remembered fondly but it will be /dead/.

But in 35 more years, there will still be people playing Dungeons and Dragons, picking up polyhedral shaped dice and simulating throwing fireballs around at supernaturally regenerating trolls, kicking doors down and searching chests for traps.

If what I've been told is true, then Wizards of the coast have it all backwards and need a reality check. Competitors to D&D have always experimented with different formats, rules systems, become popular and come and gone. Some of them are still with us, but then so is D&D... because it really was sprinkled with magic by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson all those years ago.

Monday, 21 December 2009

First encounter with a dragon

We've had a sudden flurry of snow over the past few days and many of the roads weren't gritted. This caused transport problems for most of my players, meaning I ran a solo session last night for the player who lives within walking distance of my house. It was a good session, memorable for a few reasons, but mostly for an encounter with a dragon.

The elf was making his way through the Overgrowth - a vast, overgrown and dangerous forest that the locals reckon has been overrun by demons. A mysterious fortress sprang up almost over night within the Overgrowth but a week previously. A visit to a sooth sayer confirmed that the fortress and Rendclaw - a demon that the party mage released from his icey prison - are linked. Vowing to sort this mess out, the elf ventured off alone into the tangled mass of undergrowth and tree branches.

Within this place, he fought many battles and overcame numerous obstacles. He found a trail with large, clawed animals tracks running down it and recognised them as belonging to a dragon. Unperterbed, he continued down the trail. The trail began to grow cold, the briars and bracken becoming freezing, his breath becoming visible in front of his face. The elf, wearing the Mantle of the Ice bear, was unaffected by the cold, and continued on.

Now the party have an average level of seven, about the right sort of level to drop a dragon into the adventures and see what happens. So, this is what I had done and this is what I was about to find out.

The elf continues down the icey path, noting how sudden the temperature has changed. The path opens out into a clearing and the elf makes himself invisible to animals. He then spies a white, reptilian beast eating a wolf. It looks up and he's unsure if its seen him.

The player considers what to do. He looks at his character sheet, his spell cards and his weapons... and decides to try and fight the white dragon - on his own!

He entangles the dragon. Tree roots, plants and vines wrap around the great beast, holding it in place, and he fires an enchanted arrow from his magical bow at the creature. His aim is true and he scores an injury. Then, it opens its mouth and a great blast of incredible cold issues forth like icey death, freezing plants and chilling the elf to the bone. He rolls out of the way but still takes some of the damage.

The player panics and runs away as fast as his legs can carry him!

This is the first encounter any of my group have had with a dragon... the elf may not have defeated it, but he lived to tell the tale!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

New spell : Detect Weapons

Detect Weapons
Level 1
Sphere: Divination
Range 10' per level of the caster
Area of Effect 30' square

This spell is often employed by court wizards and mages that are hired by the royal court, to provide an extra layer of security for rulers. Some High Temples also employ hedge wizards who use this spell, from the shadows, too.

Upon casting, the all weapons within a thirty foot square area will immediately glow a bright red that shows through clothing. In addition, the caster will instantly know what weapons all within the area have in their possession, concealed or not. He will not know if a weapon is magical (i.e. it does not identify it), nor how much ammunition is possessed if a weapon requires it. If a weapon requires assembly and is not assembled, then if any of its parts would be considered weapons (for example, an iron pipe could be wielded as a club) then these will be revealed to the caster, too.

Proof against scrying may defeat this spell at the DM's discretion.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Heroes falling in love... with the villain!

The other week I ran a solo session with one of the players, who uses an Elf character. In the session he had cleared a cave system of nasties and fought his way through a mansion that belonged to a Succubus... he was doing very well, until he set eyes upon the Succubus, that is!

The Lady Gwendolyne is no ordinary succubus, she's an ancient evil that the ancients trapped in ice to rid the world of her. Ossiric, the party wizard, in his infinite quest for knowledge, freed her and since then she's been a naughty girl, seducing powerful men, toying with them, robbing them blind and then introducing them to various gruesome ends. Being an evil manipulator of men, any man that sees her risks becoming charmed and worse: they risk falling in love.

Which is exactly what happened.

Now things started to get complicated! Gwendolyne asked our hero to hand over all of his valuables; which of course he did, to please his love. She then sent him on a quest to get the treasure from the Dire Eel tunnels, which meant lots of swimming through submerged passages to get very old valuable items for her. He did this too, finding some neat magical gear in the process, but all for the love of an otherworldly woman.

The session ended with the player stating he wasn't going to tell the rest of the players that he was charmed, but let them find out later. This was going to be interesting!

In my session yesterday, all the players were back (except for the party's thief). The elf cooked up a story for them, stating he hadn't met the succubus who the party were supposed to slay. Before all of this had taken place, they had made a deal with the Serpent Queen wherein she had provided aid to kill the Ghoul King but in return the Queen wanted the Succubus dead, for she was jealous of her beauty. Being honour bound by duty, the party had set off to do just this.

However, the Succubus had also imparted to the Elf the knowledge of how to leave the Deep Dark, to return to the surface (which is the overall campaign goal!). She had done this when she ordered the Elf to get more gold for her; he was supposed to raid the nearby port town and return. So at the start of the latest session, he's in the raft ready to sail out of the great cave lake in the Deep Dark. He finds it pretty easy to convince the group to go along with his plan - i.e. to sail to the surface.

All is going to plan until the Serpent Queen got involved. To leave the Deep Dark, the group had to sail along an underground river, going right past the Serpent City. Unfortunately, the Serpent Queen had blocked the river with two trireme warships. After showing the party that the Succubus lived, by letting them peer into a crystal ball to see for themselves, she ordered them back to fulfil their end of the bargain. The Succubus had to die or she wouldn't let them out.

So, the party return to face the Succubus... and in the confrontation, they discover that the Elf is in love with her! Not only that, but he will let no harm come to her. To make matters even worse, one of the fighters becomes charmed by her; splitting the heroes in half: two for her, two against.

Undaunted by this recent turn of events, Ossiric the wizard and Brigette the fighter cook up a plan to get rid of her anyway. The mage uses his magic and casts fear upon both the elf and the Succubus - an ingenious solution so they do not have to hurt friend, instead he cowers in the corner of the room and they move past him - while the fighter pushes past the charmed one. This brings the charm to a head: will Boris Blood hurt his friend Brigette Wyvern Hunter? He gets an additional saving throw because of the dilema. He makes it! This breaks the charm and the party go in for the kill on the Succubus. They make short work of her now her powers have been rendered ineffective - she has already played her ace cards. Finally, the world is rid of this ancient manipulator of men, and the elf's love fades as the female demon's life does.

A brilliant conclusion to a complex scenario! :-)

Friday, 11 December 2009

Social networks - genius

If someone came to your door and said, show me all of your photos, tell me everything that you've been doing and everything about yourself, would you?

I know I wouldn't. I'd send the stranger on his way and close the front door quickly. Yet that is exactly what we are doing with the social networking websites. We are telling them everything about ourselves.

But who are they? They are strangers, private corporations who exist to make money (as all businesses do). Their business model is to make money from data. And they go much further than just my simple example above, its more like they come over to your house and photocopy all of your photos and information (simulating how some social networks, such as Facebook, do not ever delete your data even if you close your account).

I used to work for a company that made its entire revenue from selling data. Data is worth money, lots of money. I'm a little disturbed by how easily social networking websites have found it to trick us into surrendering private information to them.

Perhaps that is the real genius of the social networks; you wouldn't tell a stranger you had never met the same information you tell the web... but are happy to tell a faceless corporation the same things because your friends are.

Be careful people. Big business has its own interests at heart.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Finding my own style - a years journey

I began in a similar way to most old school Dungeon Masters when I started playing Labyrinth Lord over a year ago, in that I would use just a few notes and go from there, expanding them in play to bring them to life, but have since allowed my approach to drift and so have now developed my own style.

When I began, I ran some unconnected adventures, some of which were really bare bones and some of which were fully fledged boxed or printed products. Sometimes I would even run random dungeons. I connected them together very loosely so the campaign emerged as a result of play, rather than being structured up front. However, when my players hit 4th level, I felt it was time to shift things up a gear. So, I began thinking about a campaign, one that wasn't simply emergent, but had a beginning, a middle and possible endings.

I now run a campaign of very tightly connected adventures and quests. However, because I am still writing the campaign as we play it, week by week, I can make adjustments as necessary based on what the party does. I find this to be a very effective technique and would recommend it. I am 150 sides of A4 into it so far, without including the maps themselves, and there's yet more to come.

I'm finding a great approach that works for me is to begin with just a map. Sometimes I make one myself and other times I pick one from a published book. I then use only the names of places, how the bit looks on the map itself and the context within my own campaign as a starting point for what will actually be there. This frees up my imagination, helping to unhook it from game mechanics and standard roleplaying conventions, letting me think more clearly. I can then begin thinking properly about what should be there, why the location exists even exists in the first place, what (if anything) populates it... and so on. All the while I bear in mind the quest... but because the map wasn't actually designed to support the quest in the first place it ends up having little bits here and there that exist because they do and not because they were created to support the quest itself. I find that players respond to this quite well. Sometimes they will spend time trying to figure out something as though it is a puzzle when it isn't - I put this down mostly to the way computer games are designed (like a corridor with nothing to do but go onwards and every obstacle has to be overcome in order to keep going), something I do not want to replicate! However, the areas feel interesting, there are mysteries that never get solved and the places feel more real.

We're having a blast and I thought I would share this approach with you, because if you're anything like me, you might enjoy learning about other styles of Dungeon Mastering that work a treat.

Friday, 20 November 2009

The Spells of Retep, the astounding, the crazy

These are the spells of the master mage Retep, penned by his own hand devised by his own incredible mind... but... whatever happened to the Astounding Retep?

Retep's Contagious Dance with the Fairies
Level: 1
Upon casting, the mage suddenly begins an uncontrollable dancing jig. There is no music - well at least that anyone else can hear, but nevertheless the caster continues to move in the most spasmodic, disjointed and downright disturbing way for 2d4 rounds. During this time, she is extremely hard to hit and gains a +6 AC bonus but cannot do anything except this strange, alluring dance except maybe accompany it with grunts, oohs, aahs and perhaps a little singing.
Anyone who attacks the mage risks getting caught up in the magical dance. They must make a saving throw vs wands or be compelled to join in the dance for the duration of the spell. Dance partners - as they become - cannot act, only dance, adding their own weird movements into the mix. They too gain a +6 AC bonus and any who attack them risk joining the frivolities too.

Retep's Massive Frog Jump
Level: 1
Range: 15'
When cast, the mage can make a single jump up to fifteen foot upwards and across, while gribbeting like a frog. The leap can be over obstacles and other creatures and the caster always lands safely, albeit in an embarrassing heap!

Retep's Spinning Bastard Beard
Level: 2
Duration: 1 round per level.
Upon completion of the spell, the caster's beard grows to extraordinary lengths and hardens into sharp points at the end and begins whipping around like a propeller. The Spinning Bastard Beard grants an extra melee attack per round to the mage, which inflicts d3 damage and automatic knockback on any enemy it hits. If the wizard forgoes all other attacks, he may powerswing the Bastard Beard.

Retep's Flash of Inspiration
Many people suffer from a lack of ideas when confronted with an unusual problem. In such a situation, this spell proves invaluable. Upon casting, the mage faces the dumbfounded individual in question and lifts (or opens) his robes. Something, previously hidden, is revealed!

Whatever happened to Retep?
Level: 4
Range: 100'
The mage points at a target after completing the spell and says simply 'You... or me?'. Roll a d3. On a 3, the target is instantly and irrecovably destroyed and can never be raised and is replaced with a bowl of petunias. On a 2, the mage and the target simply switch places and there is a distinct whiff of Old Spice in the air. On a 1, the caster is instantly destroyed, except for her boots, which simply smoulder.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Mimic vs Smoke monster

My most recent game session, last night, featured some crazy but cool moments. Recently, the party mage and thief had pulled a couple of artefacts from a dream world into the real world (a dagger that can poison anything and an orb that can imprison souls). The most recent session 's star of the show was probably not a player, but the orb.

The group entered a room with a chest at the back of it. The room was clearly an armory as it was lined with racks of weapons. As they entered the room, one of the fighters accidentally stepped on a trip wire. A bladed pendulum swung downwards, hitting the hero, but he survived. This understandably made the group nervous of other traps within this room, so the wizard decided to release a skeleton that he had previously trapped within the Orb of Dominion, further into the room, to set any remaining traps off.

Everyone else in the group left the room and the mage did indeed do this. Three quarters of the way down the room, the skeleton appeared and came running at the mage to attack him (the imprisoned creatures emerge in a berserk state!). Prepared for this, the mage dispatched the skeleton and trapped it back inside the Orb. Now happy that most of the room did not contain traps, he decided to do the same thing again, but this time to place the skeleton next to the chest.

What the group did not know, was that the chest was a mimic, so when the skeleton appeared bang next to the chest, the mimic attacked! A mouth formed upon the chest and it gobbled up the skeleton!

That was a funny moment!

Cue the rest of the group storming in to the room to fight the mimic, who was then imprisoned with the Orb. A little later, in a fight against a dozen Vokes (smoke monsters) the mimic was released and began gobbling up the enemies. Another funny moment!

After all the monsters had been killed, the party re-defeated the mimic and the wizard once again trapped it within his Orb. I wonder what will face the party's pet mimic next ;-)

Friday, 23 October 2009

Dm interpreted magical items

One of the biggest problems with roleplaying games and magical items is that they are not really magical. They are more like appliances of science (e.g. technology) where the science behind the device is not known. Sort of like Arthur C Clark does magic items.

Magic really needs mystery to feel right. A wand of lightning bolts, for example, is infinitely cool and does provide some roleplaying possibilities, but it is too predictable and known to ever feel magical. In fact, its more like a sort of cannon that a wizard carries around with him.

Numerous attempts have been made in the past to address these issues, like for example nerfing the identify spell so it doesn't identify the mechanical attribtues of magical items. This is quite good, as the players do not necessarily know everything about an item; although knowing an item is a wand of lightning is pretty much all they need to know to figure out everything about it because they already understand the lightning bolt spell.

I'm wondering if the problem is not the players, but the source material. The item flows out of the pages of the rulebook to the adventure, the DM and finally the player. But what if the item text was very different?

Instead of saying a wand of lightning, what if it simply said a wand that hums with static? What does that mean? The onus would be on the DM then to create something new and unique. Does it throw lightning bolts, electrocute people, create loud noises like thunder, power devices ... or something else? The DM would be forced to make decisions, appropriate for the players, as to what the item does, what it is called and how much information identify can give about it.

Magical items might just feel magical and unique.

Monday, 19 October 2009

A year of Labyrinth Lord

So it's been a year since I starting playing Labyrinth Lord now, woohoo. I've been DM'ing for it ever since with a fairly steady gamer group, and have been running it every sunday evening, give or take a couple over the whole year.

What a blast it has been too!

I've run adventures against the white skinned Morlocks, tempted the party into a den of carrion crawlers and into old ruins populated by ghouls. The party have been snowed in and forced to take refuge in a haunted monastery, have ventured inside a nest of giant ants, have explored ancient elven ruins, have freed a village from a curse that turned them into lycanthropes, have journeyed across crystal fields deep underground and accidentally freed ancient evils, have cleared out the city of spiders, have entered the tower of the Ghoul King and reduced half his reserve army to dust, have stormed the city of serpents and finally, have adventured within a dream realm to try and pull a powerful artifact back into real life. Phew!

There have been casualties along the way. Many brave heroes (and foolish ones) have died. We even had one total party kill against goblin spider riders in the wilderness once. We've had many, many near death experiences where one more die roll would have ended a heroes life... and yet it didn't. Perhaps fate does smile on these heroes after all (I roll my dice out in the open and do not fudge them)... a fate which is more powerful than the DM!

The heroes are now 6th-7th level and well capable, in their own right, of defending themselves. It's been a terrific journey to this point... when the party decided to save the world from a potential orc tribal alliance was one of my highlights as a DM and led to a terrific battle to play out, too.

I'll leave you with one of the scenes from last night as a parting thought. The heroes hear a scratching noise in a room as they approach it, but as soon as they open the door, the noise stops. They never hear it again, nor can they find any sign of its source. It bugs them so much that, after they have explored the whole level and the one above it, they come back to investigate once more. Still finding nothing, they decide to douse the walls of the room in oil to burn the green moss that covers all the surfaces in the dungeon and reveal what it is underneath. Four flasks of oil later, they find the charred stone under the moss... and still they do not find the source of the sound. Still, it made me laugh, imagining the mighty heroes attacking some humble moss with burning oil, discussing how much they might need and then working out if they needed to somehow cover the ceiling too... all because they heard a little noise... ;-)

Thursday, 15 October 2009


While I was off work last week I made a little card game in flash because my girlfriend couldn't get the time off work at the same time. It's a fantasy themed card game where you play a wizard and must defeat the enemy player who is also a wizard, by playing heroes against him. He then plays monsters, traps and spells to try and get rid of your hero; then he tries to play a hero on you and you do the same back.
Anyway, here it is if anyone wants to take a look and see how many victories over the computer player they can rack up:
Best played with sound to hear some of the amusing voices!

Monday, 28 September 2009

Betraying the ghoul king and living to fight another day

Yesterday's game of our Labyrinth Lord campaign has changed the dynamic somewhat. In the previous week, the party moved up the tower of the Ghoul King, clearing it out floor by floor. Literally two hundred skeletons were smashed to pieces and another fifty zombies went the way of undead to plain dead. The party was feeling good; the Ghoul King's reserve army was not exactly in good shape - it was no more!

Yesterdays session went a little differently, however. In the first real battle against enemy mages, the party kicked the door in on the Ghoul King's council chamber and attacked the council. The leader of the council arrogantly ordered their immediate surrender - which they didn't do. The party leader was hit by magic missile after magic missile and in one round went from full health to being pounded to the ground and knocked prone. That was a shock to the system!

The party rallied quickly, however, with the party mage passing on his broach of shielding to negate the effects of further pounding. Battle commenced for real now, with the council members proving to be no match for the fighters at close range. The party mage even went one on with his quarter staff and started cracking skulls. Mirror images did not help the council, soon they were all dead. The group learned an important lesson here though; No matter what your armour class - even though the Wyvern Hunter's is -2 - doesn't matter a jot against magic missiles!

A little later, the party entered the throne chamber of the Ghoul King himself. Guarded by a skeletal dragon, the party were happy to talk with him a while, discovering he intended to 'emerge from the shadows with his army and sweep upon the world like a plague of rats'. I think this probably confirmed to the players that they should get rid of this guy. However, they did not feel they were in a fit state to attempt this and so made a deal with the Ghoul King. He would let them live, if they agreed to steal his ally's dark magics. His ally is the Queen of the Serpent City. The group agreed to this and rested up to full health in the tower.

Now at full power, they stormed back in to the Ghoul King's throne room and attempted to rid of the world of this guy once and for all. It went disastrously wrong for them!

The two fighters got within ten feet of the skeletal dragon and hit its aura of fear. Two failed saving throws later and both are cowering in fear on the floor. The dragon then advanced and began clawing and biting one of them, bringing him almost to death.

The party immediately surrendered, having been well and truly humbled. They received a prompt telling off from the Ghoul King after he ordered his dragon back to his side and the party once more agreed to steal dark magic from the Serpent City for him. After resting up, that's exactly what they set off to do - well at least it was their destination - as they now intend to tell the Queen that her ally is betraying her and come back with some Snakemen to help finish him off!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Starting ages

As I am now adding level draining monsters to my random encounter tables (shock!) I'm considering swapping the level draining rules for instant aging rules, ala ghosts. I'll probably go with one level drained means you've just been aged by five years, and have some stat decreases on hitting specific age milestones. This means I need tables to work out how old the characters are when they begin their adventuring careers.

Class based characters are not created equally. That is to say, I can see that characters of differing classes will start at different ages. The mage, who locks himself up in the library, studying spells, is very likely to be older (and consequently frailer, which the mechanics of the system do bear out) than his fighter friend, who may have just ended his military service. With this in mind, I have created the following table:

Class...Starting age... Learned trade in...
Fighterd8+18Military school, guild or in battle
Magic Userd20+30Library, apprenticeship or in self study
Thiefd6+14The streets, thief's guild, or the marketplace
Clericd12+25Temples, holy tomes or in silent contemplation

Note that I haven't included ages for demihumans on the table, at the moment we have none in the party and I'm a little unsure about their lifespans. I suppose I could consult my 2e PHB which I still have from all those years ago, but for the moment, this should suffice.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Magic Item: The Ring of the Fox

The ring of the fox looks like an ordinary gold ring, save its face is carved in the shape of a fox. It radiates cunning animal magic if detected.

The wearer gains +1 to AC and has her hearing improved drastically. Listen checks gain a +2 bonus while the ring is worn. However, there is a side effect. The wearer begins to crave chickens - and will steal them if able to!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Tricky situations: earning souls back and being captured

The last game session in our Labyrinth Lord campaign was a pretty tricky one to DM - or at least I thought it would be - as it involved the capture of the characters. I thought it would be tricky because no one likes to lose their freedom, nor their gear, nor to surrender to an enemy... especially if they believe they can beat that enemy. But, I'm getting ahead of myself here.

The party cleared out the spider city and brought the head of the queen back to Rendclaw, the Demonic Regent of the Darkened Hells who had previously claimed their souls as his own unless they performed this task for him. The downside to freeing ancient evils is that sometimes, they take things from you and make demands! On giving Rendclaw the queen's head, he relinquished their souls and gave the party a warning; that there was one down here in the Deep Dark that was amassing an army that threatened their surface world, one known as the Ghoul King. After that, in a thunderclap the Regent was gone.

The party took to their raft once more to attempt to sail out the cave lake and perhaps escape their cast underground place. Luck was not with them, however, for near a vast supporting column a trireme sailed towards their little amateur crystalline boat and they were hailed, being ordered to surrender their vessel. This is where the tricky part was. I had spent some time before hand wondering how this would go and thinking of alternate scenarios for how the party might react. Whoever was shouting at them from the deck of the larger vessel was ordering them to surrender to him.

They did not surrender. Because of this, their boat was shattered into pieces on meeting the trireme's battering ram at high speed. Nets were cast overboard from the trireme and the characters were hauled up out of the cold waters, and onto the main deck. Suddenly they were face to face with a literal skeleton crew, and again being told to surrender.

A brief amount of parlaying ensued, during which the party discovered that they were going to be taken to the ghoul king as slaves and then ritually sacrificed to become part of his army. Needless to say, the characters did not like this plan and did not surrender even when the captain of the boat said to them that there were fifty skeletons on the ship ready to fight them.

A fight did indeed ensue. Now the outcome of this was by no means certain. It *is* possible that the party could have overcome fifty skeletons... but pretty soon the party mage was out of mirrored images and running into major problems. He surrendered. A blade was put to his throat by one of the skeletons, forcing the rest of the party to also surrender. Their gear was taken from them, except for jewelry.

The warship headed sailed back to the large column, which became obvious as they approached that it was actually a tower. On a dock, a sort of exchange was seen, where skeletons handed over women to snakemen who in turn handed over men to them. The women were loaded onto another trireme which pulled away. Once their own ship was docked, the characters were frog marched off the ship while manacled together and thrown into a prison cell. Their equipment was taken somewhere else, further up the tower.

At this point, I was quite relieved. Probably the trickiest encounter in a number of sessions had gone off without many complaints at all. Now all the party had to do was escape and get their stuff back... which they managed to do by overpowering the ghoul guard when he entered their cell to paralyse them and soon after they found their sacks of gear. They freed the other slaves, some of whom are now fighting by their sides against the undead.

Overall I think we all had some good fun and the whole thing hopefully created a memorable experience. It's not everyday you get captured by a skeleton crew ;-)

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Trading levels for magic items

A random thought occured to me today for a really simple way to handle magic item creation for items with plus values. Allow a player to trade a level from their character, to create a magical item (using their own life force) of a plus value equal to the number of levels being traded.

Example; a level 3 character could make a sword + 2 and go back to being a level 1 character, or a sword +1 and go back to being level 2.

Another example: a level 20 character could drop to 15 and get a sword +5.

Other, more special items (that do not have + values) would have to be handled by a different system, or the DM could flat out disallow the creation of them, perhaps all special magical items were made by an ancient civilisation and the art of creating them has now been lost.

Monday, 24 August 2009

The best villians...

...are the ones that the players release themselves.

In our last game session, the party freed three evils that had been trapped in ice for millenia. The reason they freed them is that information was needed about how to get out a megadungeon that they are themselves trapped within. I was quite surprised that all three villians were released, as each were entombed in ice, in different chambers, beyond a chasm with no way across it that was initially guarded by a wyvern. A strong deterrent - or at least the builders of their prison, centuries ago, had thought.

The three villians, in the order they were released, were Gorrononogria (a gargantuan elder black dragon who wants to rule the world), Lady Gwendolyne (a Succubus who desires all the riches of the land) and Rendclaw (regent of the Darkened Hells and master of the thousand Soul Eaters). Even better, the heroes are now on a mission to reclaim their souls from Rendclaw, who claimed them upon being freed ('Freeing me was unwise!') by bringing the head of the ruler of the Spidercity to the demon. The elder black dragon is now who knows where, presumabley heading for the surface to submit the land to his rule and the succubus is now heading for the city of Blackport after the party mage informed her that the richest man he knew ruled that place of thieves and scum.

The campaign just started to heat up!!

Monday, 10 August 2009

The first level drainer encountered

I used to DM for a group of friends, as a teenager. During that time, we played a homebrew campaign and threw in a few modules for good measure. We had a blast and from time to time we still talk about those times even now. It created some good memories (like the time the party's thief split from the party, was ambushed by goblins in a forest and left tied to a tree naked!) but during all of that time, I never deployed level draining undead. I always operated under the assumption that they were overpowered and that players hated them. I would never put them into any encounter, assuming that they were completely unbalanced.

I was wrong.

I picked D&D back up last year after reading a little about the retro clones, and with a different group of people, I now DM a Labyrinth Lord campaign (I actually started with only one player and have picked up some more along the way). I run another (completely different) homebrew campaign with modules dropped in at various points to add some variety. Anyhow, I decided to make an encounter deck for night time encounters that included a lot of undead. The best time to encounter the undead is at night, right? ;-)

When selecting what should go into this deck I had to make a choice: use level draining undead in there, or not? I deliberated over it for a bit and then figured, what the heck, let's give it a try and test my assumptions. What a test, I know. Going from one extreme to the other... never using them, to adding them to the random encounters sure is one hellova way to test my assumptions!

Last night was our weekly game session and guess what, we had a random encounter occur at night. The party member that was on watch, Boris Blood, noticed an incorporeal figure advancing on the camp, wearing a suit of armour. It's face was frozen in a contorted look of horror. He roused the group, who tried to hail the apparition, but it ignored their attempt to parlay and continued to advance on them. They readied their weapons and fought the thing.

The party is mostly made up of 4th level characters and aside from one of their henchmen panicking and almost fleeing the battle field, the fight went very well. The wraith was defeated, although the group panicked when they found it could fly and it was going straight towards the party wizard (it was a funny moment to see him sprint away as fast as he could!), but overall, nothing unbalancing happened at all.

So now I've realised, level draining undead aren't so bad after all.. but perhaps best not to deploy them against really low level characters (say, levels one to three).

Monday, 3 August 2009

Balanced on a knife edge

The last game session of Labyrinth Lord we held was a full house, a rarity these days as its hard to get everyone in on the same week. I mostly run with one or two players down for sure, but last night had everyone and it was a great session.

There were three main encounters in the session, one against a bunch of trolls that the party's friendly sage warned the heroes about. The heroes, of course, ignored the warnings to collect eleven suits of platemail from an abandoned outpost that had been overrun by orcs, but since cleared out, and ran into the trolls. Much fun was had as the party's resident tank went from 35 hp to 6 hp while the party mage was berrating everyone else for being the only one who had bought any oil flasks and torches! At a couple of points in the battle, the heroes ran into trouble with these regenerating beasts from nightmare, and the battle started with a critical fumble on my initiative roll meaning i had to morale check all of the enemies (a new house rule) to see if they held - they did!

Another of our new house rules was put into play on this session: knockbacks cause knockdowns unless a save vs breath weapon is made. This worked beautifully, buying the heroes some extra time to win the fight!

The second encounter was with a talking bridge which the heroes were walking across. Much amusement was had when one of the fighters was thrown off the bridge for insulting it! You have to love the whimsical nature of some of the creatures in D&D!

The third encounter of note was against some shape changers. The party were hugely outnumbered by them and the sixth level thief was almost killed by one of them before one of the fighters saved his life. It was a good fight on a bridge, with the other fighter cleaving multiple opponents at once with a bastard sword (our powerswing house rule in action being put to great effect).

A good session was had by all - the encounters are balanced on a knife edge. The fights got very tense in places.... I don't think I could repeat this level of balance and challenge if I tried!

Monday, 20 July 2009

Avoid trouble: Cycle the party leader

One of the things we do in our game sessions is cycle the party leader. If the party leader changes during a game session, it's reducing the likelihood of bad leadership screwing things up, not to mention how it reduces players sending each other off to take stupid risks instead of thinking them through themselves (because they won't stay as party leader for long). It also helps limit the effect disruptive players can have on the group as a whole.

At the start of every session, I have all the players dice to become leader. This involves all of them rolling a d20 with the player with the highest roll becoming the leader. This is similar to what happens when we find treasure that more than one player wants that cannot be divided between them, in that circumstance, the players who want the item dice for it. A tied top result leads to a reroll for the players who are tied as they dice against just each other.

Party leader gets final say on any decision that needs to be made, but because of the nature of the cycling, the players tend to ask for input from others. The last thing they want is to cause trouble for the other players as it won't be long until they are subject to another's leadership - perhaps even the player in question.

So when does the leader get cycled? Simple. After every combat, cycle the party leader by moving either clockwise, or anticlockwise, away from the current party leader. We always rotate anticlockwise in our game sessions, but so long as you pick one direction and stick to it, it will not matter which way you go.

As an aside, we also use a house rule that means the monsters will always go for the party leader in battle (if they can) which leads to interesting tactical situations. The party scramble to protect their leader (whoever it is). Particularly dangerous for the party mage (although now he's fourth level and has mirror image he has some room to breathe now) but on the plus side it encourages team work and helps the group gel as a whole.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Raise Dead as an Entry into the Underworld

Some people deal with magic that raises dead characters back to life (e.g. raise dead, resurrection) by making it very rare, some by making it expensive, some by throwing their arms up in the air and saying 'hey, its a agme, who cares if it breaks believability'... but I have another idea.

D&D is famous for its dungeon crawls, so why not make raise dead open up a portal to the underworld and have the rest of the party jump into it. Make whole thing into an opportunity to rescue the dead character's soul from the dungeon of the afterlife. Death of the party members in the underworld would force their souls to remain in the underworld until rescued too...

Success would be no means assured - in fact it would be a challenge. Enter the dread underworld and re-emerge with your buddy - if you can?

Monday, 6 July 2009

High character turn over rate

One thing about 'old school roleplaying' (I'm playing Labyrinth Lord) is that there is definitely, in my campaign at least, a high turn over rate of low level characters. Last night, for example, we lost two characters and would have lost a third if it were not for a house rule that states that any character above level one that is taken below 1 hitpoint, can make a save vs death, to be only unconscious instead of dead.

We play by letting the dice fall where they may, and this includes me as the DM. I roll all dice in front of the players so they can see it is all completely above board and fair.

We lost the party fighter to the future King of the Orcs, who had found a magical spear that could unite the disparate orc tribes that the party were also looking for (to keep it out of their hands in fact). The group had left the citadel they were exploring to restock their supplies and train up, even though they knew they were only an hour behind someone else who was sneaking around in the ruins. When they returned to the ruins, there was an orc host emerging from the citadel with much fanfare! One of the orcs was holding a spear aloft that glinted in the light. All told, there was a robed figure, a wolf, four orcs, an orog and two kobolds. After a little debate, the party decided to attack and remove the threat to civilisation. It was in this fight that the fighter fell to the orc with the dread spear, certainly, an honorable death.

The next battle they fought had the most surprising results. It was against merely six orcs who were skulking around the courtyard in the citadel. They had probably heard the party's bard who was breaking crates into pieces and hammering bits of them over the doorway of the room that the party was going to rest in. On spying the orcs, the adventurers attacked! However, one of their henchmen was cut down in a vicious melee, then the party wizard was brought down by two orcs with short bows and a similar fate was waiting for the bard. Luckily the wizard was only knocked unconscious, but the bard was slain.

In both cases of character death, the players just rolled up new characters and the game carried on. So instead of a fighter and a bard, we now have a cleric and a fighter. Attrition rate is proving to be high - but that goes hand in hand with an appropriate danger level for the campaign. Also, in both cases the party did not have to fight, but chose to anyway. That, I think, makes all the difference!

Neither player complained, they got 3d6 out and started rolling up new characters - one of which has an 18 - our first natural 18 on 3d6 in 8 months of playing!

Monday, 29 June 2009

Initiative fumbles!!

In my most recent game session (yesterday), I floated an idea past my players when I rolled a one when dicing for initiative. We're currently using Labyrinth Lord's default system, which calls for the monsters and the party leader to dice to see who goes first each round. The idea I had was initiative fumbles which would occur on a natural one on the d20 initiative dice.

These fumbles would be random events that affect the entire side and could reflect the ebb and flow of battle or on the other hand, affect direct it.

Some examples of events I have thought of are:
  • Panic sweeps through the side! Anyone not controlled by a player must make a forced, instant morale check to remain in the fight.
  • Side goes berserk! Something triggers fury within the side. The only action that the side can take for the rest of the battle is to close for melee; all ranged attacks and spells are abandoned to the red mist for one round.
  • Bring out the big guns: The side deploys its biggest attack / most powerful spells that it has during this round, pushing the battle towards its climax!
  • Take him down! The side picks an enemy at random and every combatant breaks off from what it was doing to try and kill this target. This is done at any cost, without regard to individual combatant's safety!

Can you think of any other random events I could use?

Friday, 26 June 2009

Experience points for class goals (revised)

I've since been working this idea (experience points as class rewards) through some more and made a few changes to it... thinking about it from the idea of class goals: What is it that the class is really about?

I'm thinking of giving the mage a big chunk of xp (say 500) for each new spell he copies to his spell book, simulating his desire to gather new knowledge of magics. This would mean mages do not teach other spells, but that they can only be found in dusty dungeons. There might need to be a limit on this, as finding a spell book could grant massive experience point rewards. Then again, the mage does need a lot of xp to advance, so maybe that's fine.

The thief gains 200 xp per successful use of an ability that overcomes an obstacle on the quest. E.g. picking a lock on a door that needs to be opened. This simulates him using his expertise. I had thought about giving him xp for stealing things per se, but that causes too many issues.

The cleric gains 200xp per undead he sends back to the grave - his duty to rid of the world of these abominations.

The fighter gains 75xp per killing blow he inflicts on an enemy he defeats by strength of arms (i.e. in melee). Dwarves gain 1xp per gp found in a treasure hoard. Everyone knows Dwarves love gold.

Halflings gain encounter experience for each encounter they resolve using anything but combat. This goes well with their hiding ability, I think, but plenty of opportunity for role-playing with such a noncombat class as the halfling.

Elves I'm not 100% sure about, perhaps they can gain from magic spells and from combat, or from some nature activity. Or perhaps they get the fighter xp bonus for killing blows, but with a bow.

Numbers are subject to change, of course, this is preliminary thinking.

All of these are only awarded if its a quest relevent task.

What do you think?

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Experience points as class rewards

I was reading a blog entry recently Meta-Plot Special! Why EXP is the Ultimate Meta-Plot Device and it got me thinking, what if experience points were ONLY awarded as class rewards that advanced the quest?

  • Fighters would gain it for defeating creatures that stood in the way of solving the quest, through strength of arms.
  • Thieves for picking locks, climbing walls and using any other abilities to overcome obstacles that stand in the way of completing quests, or for sneaking past enemies so they do not need to be fought.
  • Clerics would gain for using magic to aid the party and for turning undead.
  • Mages would gain them for using their magic to overcome obstacles and enemies.
There would certainly be less fighting as fighting by itself wouldn't net a specific reward, except to the fighter - and even then only for defeating enemies that were part of the quest at hand. Thieves could gain the same experience for using their sneaking and hiding skills to avoid that same fight, or for backstabbing. Clerics and mages would only gain if they used their skills in the same combat to overcome enemies; e.g. turning undead, cause light wounds, magic missile, etc. But overall, I think it would de-emphasise combat as a means of advancement for non combat focussed classes and let them concentrate instead on what they are good at. What do you think?

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Pledge to the Light

Following up from yesterday's post Recasting Law and Chaos - the Light and the Dark, in which I replace the alignments with allegiances, here is the pledge that all that follow the Path of the Light have made:

I forever serve the Sister reveling in Her golden Light,
Defending the Oath with the Shield of Courage
Wielding the Iron of Justice forged in Fires of Fury,
No mercy for the Darkness. No mercy for the Darkness.

It is the duty of all who are pledge their allegiance to the light to one day forge a weapon of iron and to use this against those who serve the Dark Brother.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Recasting Law and Chaos - the Light and the Dark

In my home-brew labyrinth lord campaign I recently recast the classic D&D alignment system into an allegiance one. This is because the very ideas of law and chaos are nonsensical; who's law are you following, exactly, when you are lawful? One man's freedom fighter is another's terrorist, and so on. It just doesn't work on an individual level, probably because it wasn't really intended to.

Law and chaos seem to be being used in the old school community to represent the grand ideas of two philosophically opposed sides. This is because the origin of D&D's alignment system is in wargaming (i.e. Chainmail). There, having a reason why two units will (or won't) exist in the same army, makes a lot of sense, but when applied to roleplaying, makes little sense.

It's probably why AD&D uses a 9 segment alignment system, adding good and evil into the mix and calling 'neutral neutral'true neutral. This is clearly intended to add some complexity to an overly simplistic system that was being used to represent morality ('a lawful character wouldn't do that!').

I think that recasting law and chaos in the frame of Light and Dark solves a lot of the inherent problems with the labels of law and chaos. Humans, elves, dwarves, giants and so on make up the contingent of the Light, while orcs, goblins, trolls and such make up the Dark. Light races cooperate with each other and may even war with each other, but put their feuds aside when threatened with the Dark. The same applies to those who's allegiance is to the Dark. There are members of each species who are traitorous and are allied with the other side, working from within to bring about its downfall.

The Light and the Dark are not just diametrically opposed, those allied with either have a moral responsibility to rid the world of the other side, which is working equally hard to do the same to them. There is no to be no quarter given, no bargaining done, unless it is a trick. Each side is striving to utterly annihilate the other. It is said that on doomsday, the issue will be decided once and for all, with each side having its own prophecy stating it is they who will emerge victorious. Each side inspires fanatical devotion and neither are above poison, forbidden sorceries, raising the dead and breaking any 'rules' to achieve victory. Both believe the end justifies the means.

Amidst these two hateful, warring factions are those who have no allegiance. These are people and creatures who either run and hide when the great confrontations of the Light and Dark occur which shake history to pieces, or sell themselves to the highest bidder, or join whoever has the most powerful magics. Those of no allegiance care little for the outcome on doomsday, so long as their own skins are not hanging from the wall in another's trophy room. They have not pledged their soul to either the Light Sister of the Dark Brother nor the pantheon of gods and goddesses under them, nor the peoples who worship those, nor those who further their interests.

Against this backdrop, it should be pretty easy for heroics to occur. When Dark races meet the Light, there is an obligation to fight... a destiny to be answered!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Labyrinth Lord computer game

My mind got to wondering recently about exactly what you can - or can't - do with Open Gaming Licensed content. I've recently been in contact with Daniel Proctor, the author of Labyrinth Lord, to see what the possibilities of using Labyrinth Lord rules in a computer game are. I got talking to him and some other members of the Goblinoid Games forum about copyright and other legal issues, as the last thing I would want to do is step on anybody's toes.

Anyway, the upshot of this is that we could be seeing an official Labyrinth Lord computer game, free to play and running in a web browser, in the near future...

Friday, 29 May 2009

Heaven bait

Here is a quick short story that I knocked up... I hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Summit: Robbing the ghouls

I've decided to start prepending the titles of blog posts that are write ups of our weekly Labyrinth Lord game sessions using the word Summit, which incidentally, is the name of the game world we are all adventuring in.

This week, I'm also playing around with the format, briefly mentioning the highlights rather than doing a linear report. This way, I won't get any complaints from my players if I leave something out, because I can just use the excuse that it wasn't a highlight, heh heh.

We started the session with a couple of players down, but I have so many now that it doesn't really matter any more. I'm also no longer adverse to expanding the group further for this very reason - the more players the better.

So this week there was Ben, Chris, Nick and Joe. Chris and Nick had to roll up new characters because of their untimely deaths last week and Joe decided to retire his Gnoll in order to do the same. We ended up with a new psychic, fighter and mage. The party consisted of those three, a thief and a dwarf.

The party journeyed back to the courtyard, to finish clearing it out for Baron Thorvid. Highlights of the night included the characters finding a secret door where Chris and Nick knew there was one the week before, but their previous characters couldn't find one. It was with great relief and exclamations of 'I knew it!' that the dead end in the caverns below turned out not to be...

Through the secret door, they find a dead body. The psychic uses his Bone Divining ability to find out who this body once belonged to and learns that it is Gerald Red himself! He learns he was ambushed by troglodytes and then eaten by them. He also learns that Gerald has a magic sword, still on him and a magical ring he is still wearing. Needless to say, these were both taken, one by the psychic and one by Stone Wolf the fighter.

Venturing into the cave proper, the party see a large pool of water. Edging around it, to the back of the cavern, they are ambushed by five stinking troglodytes! In this battle Stone wolf slays four with his magical sword!

Later, the party realise they have cleared the courtyard and return to Castle Thorvid for their reward, which they receive. On the way, however, there is an amusing incident where the party spies three ghouls and a wolf skeleton attempting to cross a river. One of the ghouls is carrying two little boxes, so Terder the party thief decides to try and rob it! A risky strategy!

However, a succeeded pick pocket roll later and he has them! The party ride far, far away before they are spotted and enjoy the spoils of their ill begotten gains.

The night ended with them being hired as guards for a merchant caravan that is travelling south. The gold reward for this is not high, but the distance is short and its almost all on the roads, so the risk should be low. More to come, next week.

Magic Item - The Hilt of Bastards

This appears to be an unbladed hilt of a bastard sword, that is to say, if it were bladed it could be wielded one or two handed. The pommel is jewelled and there is a runic inscription along the hilt that translates as 'Bladeless'.

Any blade that is attached to the hilt, to make a full sword, will shatter within one day and laughter will be heard.

Once per day, when the command word is spoken, a magical shimmering blade appears, turning the Hilt of Bastards into a fully fledged weapon. The blade can be of differing sizes depending on what the wielder wills it to be: either as a short sword or bastard sword. If the blade is to be short sword sized, it functions as a short sword +2. If bastard sword sized, it functions as a bastard sword +1. The blade glows faintly in the dark but not enough to be used as a light source and cannot fumble in battle.

This blade lasts until another command word is spoken which causes it to vanish, or one year passes, or it is wielded against a female opponent.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Total Party Kill!

We were down a number of players on our latest Labyrinth Lord game session, as Mike couldn't make it, and our newest player Kat and finally Ben dropped out at the last minute. On the other hand, we were rejoined by Nick and my old friend Chris. Small gamer groups like this are actually a mixed blessing; they are certainly easier to DM for but it does significantly weaken the party, as we shall see, in the following account of what happened...

The party did some trading, magical item identification and scroll copying in the elven town of Bramble and then set off for the courtyard, deciding (wisely) to stick to the roads as much as they can. They passed through Dewton, Lyorel and Veleye before finally going cross country in the Everleaf forest. Straying from the roads in Summit is dangerous - much of the country is wild and untamed whereas the roads are regularly patrolled by soldiers.

Travel is difficult. The weather has taken a turn for the worse, with high winds blowing and cutting movement rates down. Ranged attacks are harder to make on target for the wind is constantly blowing. Everywhere are leafless trees and dying flowers - not what is expected of spring. Perhaps something else is afoot...

The party come across a recent campfire, still smouldering, and see tracks that lead away from it, deeper into the forest. Thal (the Elf) discovers that the tracks are of different sizes but cannot determine what creatures have made them. The party decide not to follow them. The following day, as they set up camp, they are attacked by two torch wielding bandits!

A magical trident wielding barbarian and scimitar slashing dervish woman attack the party, given away by the light of the their torches which foil their ambush!

The bandits cause a lot of damage to the heroes but are beaten back. Afterwards, Akern (the mage) detects that the trident, which is made of bone, is magical and hands it to Thal to use in future battles. The party drink healing potions and continue.

The group reach the courtyard building and enter it. A careful search of the top floor reveals nothing amiss since they were last here - although the bookcase they placed over the trap door has fallen over. How did that happen...

Descending into the cave system below the courtyard, the party enter a large cavern with a pool of water occupying the center of it. The strange smell from earlier is a great stink here. As the party move to exit the cavern through one of the passage ways, two troglodytes, who were blending perfectly with the cave walls, step out of the shadows, snarling and attack!

Trogolodytes in the cavern!

A good fight ensues with the heroes using the terrain and their bows to good advantage. The party did not like the three attacks each trogolodyte had, though!

In a short time, the party emerges bloody, but victorious.

In another cavern, the entrance of which was blocked by a large stone, the heroes find two coffins surrounded by an array of items. These coffins are both locked with heavy padlocks on the outside. Nosing through the various stuff on the floor, they find garlic, stakes, a silver dagger, a wooden mallet, various holy symbols and some vials of holy water. A debate is held over what to do - should they break into the coffins?

Thal, as party leader, says yes, so breaks the first padlock and opens the coffin. Inside is a dead body, which he quickly stakes - and nothing else. He then proceeds to the second coffin and breaks the padlock off of it, too. Inside, is another corpse, which he quickly stakes. The party breathe a sigh of relief!

Inside another cavern with a floor full of assorted junk, the party begin to sift through it, when it begins to self assemble into a massive wood golem! Quickly, Thal pins it against the wall with his magical trident and destroys it in one hit!

The party get some good loot from this room, which Akern detects is almost all magical gear. There is a wand, a shield, a staff and a golden goblet. Thal identifies the staff as being a staff of healing - very nice. Akern uses this on Ginsese to get her back up to good fighting status and the staff runs out of charges!

The group decides that at this point, its a good idea to get Akern to the Tower of Sorcery so he can train to level up as he now has the required experience points. The courtyard is left for the second time and a journey is begun.

While passing through the Everleaf forest, the party realise that they are being tracked. They make out goblins in the trees, a wolf and giant spiders being herded by the goblins. The heroes could easily ride off, but Thal spots a couple of the goblins are carrying treasure chests and orders that the party stop and fight their hunters.

Our heroes ride out and meet the enemy they are being tracked by - a very brave decision indeed!

That is Ginsese on the camel by the way, she inherited it from a mage from the east when he died on a previous quest.

The enemy, arrayed against them, before the chaos of battle messed up their formation.

Quite a challenge, I'm sure you'll agree. I don't think we've had a battle quite like this one before. The heroes stayed mounted but did not use their mounts much and instead got pinned against the edge of the board and this was eventually their undoing.

To begin with though, things went amazingly well for them. Akern used his magic to create a vast illusionary fire engulfing the enemy. Almost all of the foe believed it was real and many of the goblins died of heart attacks, thinking the fire was killing them. Many of the spiders were injured, believing the fire was real and one did indeed die.

Ginsese was the first to fall to a spider's venom, collapsing off her camel after one of the spiders leapt at her and planted its fangs into her throat. That effectively destroyed the front line of the party, as she was the only one who had advanced on the enemy. The enemy closed in on the remaining two heroes and as Thal struggled to hold them off, Akern fled from the battlefield on horseback. Thal was overwhelmed by the remaining foes, splintering his shield in a vain attempt to stay alive, but was overcome by spider bites. He succumbed to their venom.

Akern returned to the battlefield, trying to sling the enemy from a safe distance, but a goblin sprinted over to his location and took one swing with its morning star, embedding it into the wizard's head - and creating our first true Total Party Kill.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Courtyard Clearance

I'd like to extend a hearty welcome to our newest player - and first female player in our weekly Labyrinth Lord campaign - Mike's friend Kat. On sunday we were down a mage and a gnoll but now had gained a fighter.

What follows is an account of said game session...

As the party of heroes approach the courtyard building, which they have been hired to clear out by Baron Thorvid, they see it is flanked by large pillars. A wide staircase leads up to the entrance of the building and at either side are large barred windows. From behind the pillars, two wolves emerge, slavering and howling! The heroes finish them off without too many problems.

Once up the stairs and inside the building proper, Falador the fighter triggers a trip wire which causes a portcullis to drop but luckily he avoids impalement by the skin of his teeth!

A strange odour seems to permeate the entire place, an odour that none of the character's can place. In one of the rooms, with a barred window to the south of it, an arrow thuds into Terder's (the thief) back! The party turn to see an orc outside of the window, taking aim at them with a bow. Before they can react, another arrow speeds towards the thief! Thal the Elf and Korm the Dwarf both nip into an alcove within the room while Falador rushes the Orc, intent on stabbing it with his sword, but the bowman steps back out of range of his stab and continues to rain arrows into the room. Falador resorts to throwing his short sword at the orc in desperation. Other party members, including Mirana, return fire with ranged weapons and eventually the orc is brought down.

Falador moves to leave the room to collect his short sword, opening the door to reveal five more orcs waiting in ambush! A vicious melee ensues with Korm taking most of the punishment on his platemail armour and glowing magical shield. A short while later, there are lots of dead orcs and most of them have fallen to Mirana's deadly arrows.

The heroes stumble into a study and load up their mule with stolen books on range of topics from battlefield tactics to business. There is even a spellbook - but without the read magic spell, no one can read it to tell what spells are inside. Inside a chest of drawers Falador discovers a few keys and a map of the level; Terder spots a funny symbol on the map and realises there must be a secret door in here. After a quick search they find it! Under a carpet is a hidden trap door. Lifting it up, they find stairs going down into a pitch darkness...

Thal, having infravision, can see that the stairs lead to some kind of cave system so he gingerly moves down them alone. The strange odour from earlier gets stronger. At the bottom, he sees the passage splits and decides to return to the rest of the party. A bookcase is moved on top of the trapdoor to seal it shut and the group continue to explore the courtyard building.

The group come across a door that won't open, so Falador attempts a flying kick at it. Unfortunately, the door remains shut. Miranda attempts her own flying kick - there is a crack as the door splinters open! The door had been barricaded shut by a bunch of kobolds that inhabit the room, they had wedged a bed up against it. The party draw weapons and attack the kobolds.

One of the kobolds leaps onto the bed and is knocked off by a punishing arrow shot. It pulls itself back onto the bed and is knocked off once more by another arrow! Slowly, it climbs once more onto the bed and Terder, who has climbed the wall above the door, swings down through the door way and stabs it with his daggers! It drops off the bed for its third and final time, now being dead. Next, Terder reaches down and grabs another of the kobolds. Its feet dangling in the air while it struggles with the thief's grasp, so Thal shoots an arrow into it!

In pretty short order, the kobolds are all dead.

Through a secret door that was also marked on the map that the party found earlier, they come across an old armoury. There are two weapon racks: one has been ramsacked years ago; the other contains intact weaponry. However, this rack - and the entire wall - is covered with a strange yellow mold. Thal goes to smell the mold, to see if the strange smell originates from it and gets a face full of spores that almost kill him!

The party retreat from the room while Falador rips up bed sheets and wraps them around the heads of his crossbow bolts. He lights them and fires them at the mold, putting it to the torch, but in so doing he accidentally destroys all the weapons except for a mace. Needless to say, the fighter takes the still smouldering mace.

Later, the group happen upon a kitchen containing much broken furniture. A stove sits in the corner and above it, a rusty exhaust pipe that leads to a leaky ceiling. Thal decides to look inside the stove and disturbs four stirges that are nesting within the pipe! They fly out and attack. One of them jabs its proboscis into the Elf and begins draining his blood. Thinking quickly, Thal uses his Spell Rune and passes through rock, moving out of the room and into the corridor beyond. The stirge's proboscis cannot pass through and so the stirge is left in the room. Thal lives to fight another day!

One of the stirges flies at Korm and inserts its proboscis into his neck. He stabs with his mithril tipped spear and kills it. Another dies in the chaos of melee, leaving two on Falador, who draws his two handed sword The Leveller from the baldric on his back. This is the first time he has wielded the ancient rune covered relic in battle... he powerswings it at both stirges that are attacking him, cutting each in half with the same blow! He has ended the danger to the party.

The group enters the courtyard itself from the spectator area, among seating high up above the overgrown artificial battle ground. In this courtyard are two skeletal warriors, fighting. They feint, thrust and swing yet never defeat each other. The heroes watch for a while, shout a few insults down but the skeletons continue to fight. Falador throws his short sword, smashing the ribs of one of the boney gladiators, but their strange dance continues unabated.

He hammers his rope into the seating area with an iron spike and climbs down, searching. He finds a ring with an R inscription on it amongst the weeds. Then he smashes one of the skeletons to bits and immediately the other begins bowing to the crowd, over and over and over again. Falador grasps its skull and pulls it off its neck, but still it continues to bow. So, with great effort, he pulls its legs off and finally smashes it to bits.

At this, the party realise they have explored all of the above ground level of the courtyard, leaving only the underground portion, so they set off for the elven village of Bramble to get the Elf trained for level two. En route, they see the remains of a grass fire and numerous nasties in the wilderness including a four headed hydra! These are all avoided by galloping away from them as fast as their horses can. Finally, they arrived at Bramble, the Elf is trained to level two, items are traded and our evening was wrapped up. How quickly five hours goes!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Low ability scores

Here's an idea for dealing with players who attempt to game the system by placing low ability scores in their wisdom, charisma and intelligence attributes so they can maximise their physical ones, but then do not roleplay these below average scores...

When in a dangerous situation, have the character with the lowest wisdom in the party test against it on a d12. If he fails, he then does something very unwise. For example, if there is a vat of acid nearby, he touches it with a finger and takes damage from it.

When faced with a problem, have the character with the lowest intelligence in the party test against it on a d12. If he fails, he then does something stupid to make the problem actually worse. For example, when faced with a puzzle like a riddle that says only five guesses are aloud to solve it, he uses three of them up instantly.

When faced with an encounter with intelligent, have the character with the lowest charisma in the party test against it on a d12. If he fails, then he says something inflammatory at the worst possible moment...

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Athan and the waters

Here's a little bit of pulpy fiction for you that I wrote yesterday... Athan and the waters

Monday, 4 May 2009

The Leveller

What follows is a brief summary of the last session of Labyrinth Lord, one in which Terder Caji and his bodyguard Korm Tigertooth rejoined the party, while Thromm the Gnoll, Thal the Elf, Ginsese the Half Orc and Akern the mage left it. That's bank holidays for you! So the party consisted of Farador (a fighter), Terder (a thief) and Korm (a dwarf).

The evening began with me having a quick run down of the four phase initiative system and asking the players to write down their initiative values and then we were off adventuring once more.

The session began proper with the party exploring the rest of the cavern that they were in earlier and pretty soon they came across a treasure chest, wedged up against a small collection of stalagmites. The thief quickly found a it was trapped with a little blade that would strike at the hands of anyone who didn't know how to open the chest properly; he disarmed this, picked the lock and popped the chest open. Inside, he found a clear jade statue of a preying mantis.

Down another passage, Korm slipped on some loose gravel and sprained his little dwarven ankle. The passage turned out to be a dead end, meaning the only place left to explore was down a fifty foot drop, so the party decide to head to the nearest village - because get this - no one has a rope!

Outside, in the surrounding woodland known as the Everleaf Forest, the heroes notice that the leaves on the trees are turning brown. This is highly unusual for early spring time. Instead, its something you associate more with autumn. In addition, its freezing (sub zero) cold. Falador the fighter suspects evil wizardry is at work in the land.

On their journey to the village, they pass through an ancient crumbling ruin and decide that this could be a good place to rest. One of the ruined buildings has four of its walls mostly intact and a great oak tree going in the middle of it; the party decide this is the place and begin to barricade the walls up while the thief climbs the tree and acts as a lookout.

A gale force wind picks up and the thief holds on tight to the oak. He spies three figures moving through the trees, trying to sneak up on the dwarf and the fighter while they are barricading the walls. He whistles a signal to them and they fall back into the ruins, preparing for a fight!

The winds interfere with the ranged weaponry and not a single blow dart from the thief or arrow from the bandits strike their targets, forcing the real battle to close quarters. The bandits are summarily dispatched, proving no match for the party.

The following day, the party arrive at the village of Veleye and restock their supplies. Items are sold, the market place is explored and winter gear bought for the journey back. Also, a rope is purchased!

On the way back to the caves, the party decide to stop off at the ruin again and sleep there. They bury some gear (including a short sword) here and the thief again climbs the old oak tree. He recoils in horror part way up when he realises he has just put his hand into some green slime! He drops to the ground in shock and begins to turn green... it is wiped off him just in time, before he becomes some green slime himself! That was a close one...

The following day lanterns are lit and the cave is revisited. The drop is found once more and with the use of their new rope, the party safely descend. The party continue to explore the cave system, illuminated only by the flickering of their lights then reach a cavern with two skeletal figures at the edge of their vision. One of them carries a large sword with runes that run down the blade. Both figures are closing in on the group.

The heroes stand their ground and do battle with the undead. Strangely, the skeletal figure does not wield the runic sword against them, instead, worms jump from its skull and attempt to bury themselves in the heads of the heroes. After much smashing of bones, the skeletons are defeated. The fighter claims the two handed sword as his own.

The cavern has no other exits - the party realise they have explored the whole cave system! So, they journey back to the village of Veleye and at least now the temperature in the land is not cold, the weather is just low lying clouds and fairly mild.

Back in Veleye, the sword is identified as the Leveller and is an ancient artefact beyond the skill of many (if not all) who are left alive to forge. It carries a powerful enchantment and proves particularly deadly to a certain type of dragon. A rare find indeed!!

The party journey to Castle Thorvid, during which time it actually snows. The weather is becoming increasingly unpredictable. Once there, Falador trains with the Fighter's Guild and levels up (now he is level 3!). Also while he is there, he is given an order by the baron - clear out the courtyard of a strange wizard. Falador accepts - it is an order after all from the guildmaster himself, and he has been offered 2500gp on completion. The party set off on their journey to this courtyard.

Part way there, they are waylaid by a pack of snarling wolves!

One is instantly shot dead with a crossbow bolt in its eye before the wolves close in on the fighter, thief and dwarf.

A bloody battle is fought.

Terder gets chewed up pretty badly before the battle is finally won by the heroes!

That wrapped up our evening.

Four Phase Initiative

At last, I think we have it!

Our last Labyrinth Lord session was the testing ground for a new initiative system, designed to fulfill the following goals:

1). Cope with mounts and mounted opponents.
2). Allow lightly armoured combatants to move and attack quickly (provide the opportunity for combatants to trade defence for offence).
3) Be quick and easy to use (must not get in the way of the game).

We have tested a number of initiative variants over the past couple of game sessions, as we hit the limit to the continuious initiative system we were using when we wanted to include mounts into it.

So without further ado, here it is, the Four Phase Initiative system...

Each round is divided into four phases. The phases are Mounts, Scout, Infantry and the second Scout phase.

In the Mount phase, all mounts move and some (like the warhorse) which are trained to fight, may attack. A mounted knight can also strike with his lance in this round, although doing so means he must switch to a melee weapon to continue fighting but cannot do this til the following round.

In the Scout phase, any combatant wearing studded leather or lighter armour can act, providing he is not using a ranged weapon. Note that the scout phase occurs twice in a combat round. This allows scouts to move quickly through terrain and potentially make two melee attacks per round as they are unhindered by heavier armour. Of course; they put themselves at increase risk by not wearing heavier armour. Note that a scout may throw items in this phase, he just cannot use a bow or crossbow in it.

In the Infantry phase, anyone wearing heavier armour than studded leather OR using a ranged weapon, gets to act. The majority of characters will end up in this phase.

Within any of the phases, the combatants act in an initiative order. The combatant with the highest, gets to act first. It is calculated like so:

Base move rate (12 for most races or 9 for dwarves and halflings)
- Dexterity modifier
- Intelligence modifier
- Armour modifier (chain -0, banded -1, scale -2, splint -3, plate -4)
-1 if using a shield
-4 if dual wielding.

Example: Boris is a human. His initiative order value is 12 -1 [Dex mod] -2 [scalemail] -1 [shield] = 8

Note that there are no 'weapon speed' modifiers to any of this. This is because weapon reach would probably cancel out any benefit of a small, fast and light weapon. A man with a dagger against a man with a longsword must somehow get inside the swordsman's reach to use his dagger, elminating his speed advantage.

Ranged weapons are always used in the Infantry phase because they must be aimed before they can be fired. We do have a house ruled exception - in the very first round of combat, crossbows may be fired in the scout phase but after this may only be fired in the infantry phase. We house rule this to represent the fact that a loaded crossbow can be fired before most people can act when battle begins.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Cave delving

Another sunday, another Labyrinth Lord session and another evening well spent. We were still down a Ben, as he's on holiday, but he should be returning very soon. In the mean time, the rest of the players were there (Mike, Chris, Joe and Nick) and a good time was had by all. During this session, we experimented with different initiative systems and also applied the Strain Point spell variant system to the Elf from an early Dragon magazine.

The players started by getting a consensus to leave the tomb they were currently exploring, believing that it must be too challenging for them after the initial carrion crawler battle. Instead, they headed for a nearby cave where previously they had dug a pit and killed some kind of zombie kobold with it. This was a long time ago now, probably five months of real time, but they remembered the location and finally had decided to explore it. After a little travel, this time through the day, they arrive at the correct location and venture inside. They descend about forty foot, the initial passage leading down at a sharp thirty degrees, into the bowels of the earth.

A short battle against some giant rot grubs and a giant fly occurs a inside, during which the elf fumbled. After this, the party discover that they are in a fairly large cave complex. The first thing of note they see is that the cave is both dripping wet and the interconnecting passages are narrow and winding. They often drop to only five feet in height too, not a problem for most of the characters but definitely a problem for the Gnoll.

The second thing of note that the party came across was a series of handholds, in a large vaulted cavern, that led fifteen feet up to a ledge. They ignored this and carried on down the passage way instead, noticing a number of cracks in the walls of the passages. Much searching is done for secret doors by the elf at each of these, but alas for him, none are found.

The party pass an area with broken weapons and arrows scattered around. A battle must have been fought in that place, a long time ago. Beyond this, they stumble into a vast cavern that extends well beyond their lantern light. Venturing forwards, they see much of the cavern is flooded and the flooded area is so large they cannot see where it extends to. As they are circling it, shambling figures stumble into their torchlight, advancing towards them. The party backs up quickly, into the passage way. There is a splash as one of the figures enters the water. Moments later, the figures are spotted again and the party readies itself for battle.

The slow moving figures turn out to be a hardy form of zombie - but not hardy enough as their slow movement translated to them being peppered with arrows and sling bullets until their battered rotting bodies fell to the ground in bits, twitching. During this battle, the elf fumbled.

The party ignored the water pool and pushed forwards, finding a corridor whose roof dropped to only two and a half feet above floor level. They diligently crawled through it, passing equipment to each other as they went. However, the passage way led only to a dead end, which the elf searched for secret passages and found none. Down another passage was a small grotto containing a chest; opening this, the gnoll discovered some jewelled chainmail and a pouch containing four dried frogs.

This left the party with a choice: wade through the pool and see where it goes, or climb the ledge from earlier. The party choose the latter.

They found themselves in another cave. Following one of the passages out of it took them to a mysterious room. A strange mystical symbol is painted on a wall, below which lies a large stone slab with metal hooks in each corner of it. Around this are arranged a number of stone 'seats' - for want of a better description. There is dried blood on the central stone. The wizard took a sketch of the painting, presumably to have it checked out later.

Backtracking a little, the party discover that the corridor suddenly takes a very steep decline and the gravel and loose stones scatter down into the darkness in front of them. A rope would be required to take this route safely - but alas - the party does not have one! I'm going to have to get the players onto a basic adventuring course over this oversight!!

The party turned back and decide to explore the pool of water instead. Relighting their lanterns on the way, they decided to wade into the smelly liquid, discovering that the cavern walls narrow and then widen again, effectively taking them into a new cavern. Out of the underground lake, they spied a boot with a leg bone inside it. Near that, was a helmet with a skull and near both was a breastplate, still worn by only a rib cage. Bits of flesh stick to each. Whatever did this, was something nasty...

Warily, the group continued.

They came accross a number of dead rats that had been spiked into the ground and tiny little footprints in a jumbled, confused mess. Whatever had put these rodents here had left its dinner in a hurry...

Still, the brave heroes continued.

They make out figures at the edge of their torch light and instantly went into battle. They were up against a zombie (like before), the skeleton of a wolf, a skeleton with worms that move around its skull and two giant bats. An epic fight began. The party's real muscle is Ginsese, a half orc woman they hired a while back who fights with no fear of her own death. Which suddenly, she came almost face to face with, as her brain was ripped out of her head by the zombie. She sank to the floor and begins reciting tavern songs. She was promptly dragged away by the wizard who force feds her a healing potion - her head healed up and she jumpped back in to the fray! During the fight, the elf fumbled.

The enemy were finally defeated and that wrapped up our game session. We tried out two different intiative systems (a modification of our continuous initiative system and the default labyrinth lord one) and while both work, we weren't really happy with either. So more experimentation is to come, methinks.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Hitting the limits of continuous initiative

You might recall my continuous initiative (CI) system that I blogged about here and here . If not, here's a quick recap. It's a system designed to simulate how lightly armoured characters with quick weaponry can get more strikes in than a heavily armed and armoured one, in the same space of time.

It has served us well, giving the players interesting tactical choices and allowed them to experiment with some of the lower protective armours (effectively trading defensive for offensive under this system). However, we've hit the limits of it what it can do now.

The system works really well for attacks, but where it falls down is in movement. I would often put fast moving creatures into the gold initiative band, to reflect the fact they could cover lots of ground quickly. This, of course, meant that they attacked frequently too, but this is generally ok as many fast monsters have multiple attacks on their listings anyway to reflect this under the normal D&D rules. So I would simply tweak the number of attacks down when using CI. You can see the start of the problem occurring at this point.

Dwarves and halflings can't move as quickly as humans so we just downed how many hexes they could move per action, in line with their reduced movement rate. This worked fine, but gave us two different ways of handling movement - one in hexes per action and one in the initiative band. Despite this, it worked very well.

If you read the reports from our sessions, you'll see we have quite a few travels across the land and wilderness encounters. Mounts therefore get used to speed up travel. Some mounts could be used in a battle, such as a warhorse, but we don't, because if everyone has a mount then how does it fit into our CI system? If they move a character to the gold band, then he gets additional attacks all of a sudden; and if we put the mounts on the list then we have just doubled up everything we need to track. Also, if mounts are in gold, they are going to be deadlier than the heroes most of the time when they attack. Neither option really works.

I don't want to deny the party the use of mounts in outdoor combats, in fact, I'd rather encourage it. It opens up new options and new tactics for the players. So I've been thinking about ways to allow for this. One idea was to split a round up and have a movement phase, and an attack phase. Mounts and characters would move in the first phase, while fighting would occur in the second. While discussing this briefly with my brother he mentioned that two attack phases might be good, to simulate how you can swing a sword quicker than using a bow.

I've been playing around with how all that might work but now I'm thinking about something completely different. I did enjoy dicing for who goes first ala Labyrinth Lord's default initiative rules. So I'm also considering folding the whole thing up into that because its simple and fast.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Raising an eyebrow at the Silk Runners

I would like to say a hearty welcome to Nick, who joined our Labyrinth Lord session on sunday - another new player! Later in the game session, he saved the whole party, but I'm getting way ahead of myself!

We were actually down a player as Ben is on holiday for a couple of weeks, depriving the party of its assassin and his dwarven bodyguard. That knocks quite a lot of power from the group in one fell swoop.

Nick decided to roll up a mage, a good choice because party is generally quite low on magical abilities (there is only the elf with his nature magic). You may recall that the party had hired a mage last week but that he had inhaled some poison gas - this gas was slowly killing him.

The Gnoll and the Elf both rejoined the party, having visited their homes. Thromm had been back to his tribe for training, returning to the group on elephant-back (the only animal strong enough to carry a 450 pound, 8 foot tall tower of muscle that he could find!), while the elf had been shopping for a few more elven bows.

The party decide to travel through the night, desperately attempting to take their hired sorceror back to the nearest village before he died. However, within a few hours he begins coughing up blood then finally gives up the ghost. Falador seems disappointed, Khamsin had proved himself in battle and now he is dead. The party take his camel, which Ginsese now rides and Falador takes his curved eastern dagger. Such is the way of chaotic parties!

They continue their travel through the night, but change their destination to their original one: an old tomb they had stumbled across a long time ago. During their travels, they are ambushed by three Silt Runners, little orc like creatures that come screaming out of the night at the party from different directions, no doubt to scare the heroes to death and than loot their bodies. The party is made of much stronger stuff though and fights back!

Farador, the party's fighter, took a beating from one of the Silt Runners, which is then cut to pieces. Another is beheaded by an elven arrow through the neck! The third and final enemy, who seems to be hanging back waiting for an opportunity, is brought down by the Gnoll's bow. The arrow removed its hand at the wrist and it collapsed into unconsciousness out of shock. At both these events, Thal the elf raises his eyebrow.

Searching around, the party find that the Silt Runners had a chest. The chest is locked, but between them, the group managed to bust it open. Inside are some expensive silks. This gives us all a laugh - they're not Silt runners - they are Silk Runners!

At length, the party rests, sleeping through the day and again travelling at night. They are close to the tomb now, but in a small ruin they spy a couple of Gnolls and another Silk Runner. Both groups are surprised to see the other. The Gnolls each carry a chest over their shoulder, but when they put them down and draw weapons, the party prepare for a fight. The elf in particular wants whatever is in the chests...

The Silk Runner is brought down instantly in a hail of arrows and sling bullets!

Ginsese, the party's hench-woman, charges the two Gnolls while the rest of the party hides on a nearby island in the flooded grasslands, but with no support it proves to be her undoing and she is battered back. She beats a hasty retreat to safety and the Gnolls are brought down by missile fire, but she did do a lot of damage with her mace before she was overwhelmed. Brave Ginsese ended up with a broken voice box for her troubles.

Both of the chests are locked and the elf detected that one has poison in it. Both chests were taken and placed in saddle bags but not opened at this point. Instead, the party continue their search for the tomb in the dark. Using the thief's maps, they find it.

Inside the tomb, the rooms are remarkably clean. A stone sarcophagus, shaped like a knight or kingly figure, is discovered. Falador keeps watch while Thromm heaves and with great effort, slides the lid off. Inside it is a skeleton, slowly crumbling away due to the ravages of time (which promptly gets two crossbow bolts in its skull), a bottle with some liquid inside it and a scroll case. The skeleton also wears a ring, which is quickly swiped. The Gnoll decides to drink the liquid, but on opening the seal, smells that the liquid is a healing potion and decides to give it to Ginsese instead as she is badly hurt. The mage opens the scrollcase and carefully pulls out a piece of parchment - it is covered in elven runes and so must be an elf spell. Thal takes the scroll, but he has not got the read magic spell and so will have to wait to find out what spell it contains.

Confidently the party venture further into the tomb. They happen across a room with odd holes in the side walls. Suspecting a trap, Falador throws some items into the room, and when nothing happens, he throws his short sword in too. Thal attempts to push Thromm into the room but is unsuccessful. Falador moves into the room, retreives his shortsword, then he freezes, hearing a scuttling noise all around him. Suddenly, emerging from the holes, are multilegged worm like creatures, pulling themselves into the room, intent on eating him!

Carrion Crawlers close in on our heroes after Falador the fighter beats a hasty retreat - but in a brilliantly creative move by the party mage - the crawlers are foiled by illusionary pits!

This saves the party from almost certain death and pretty much makes it a massacre for the carrion crawlers as they are shot (and polearmed) to pieces from the safety of the other side of the pit.

That wrapped up our game session - I'm not sure if the party will be brave enough to venture any further!