Sunday, 29 March 2009

...almost to the limits of the living room!

The group expands... almost to the limits of the living room!

We were joined by two new players in our latest Labyrinth Lord session, my old buddy Chris and his elven year old son Joe. Joe has never played a pen and paper RPG before (same with Mike and Ben when I started running this) but he seemed to do fine, even though his Gnoll had only one hitpoint, amazingly, he's still alive at the end of the session. I'm not sure if he'll make it to level two though, time will tell.

The party awaken and the Gnoll screams in horror - their equipment is crawling with scarab swarms! Cue a battle that almost destroyed an undead elven archer - that the dark cleric commands - as the scarabs swarm over its rotting flesh, reducing it to a skeleton!

With four players now I can really only fit one more on the settee in the living room so I'm almost at capacity. It's quite tricky to judge what level to bring new characters in at, especially with the party cleric being fifth and the party thief being fourth, but I figured lets bring them in at first and see what happens. Certainly, if they can make it to second level, they stand a fair chance of gaining a few levels as they higher level (relatively speaking) character's advancement slows down. It worked out ok, with the vulnerable characters being protected by the strong.

Tarantio is attacked during the night by a pesky elven archer and his very big pet bird. See if you can spot the thief, who is trying his best to hide in shadows ;-)

We'll see what happens as they continue to explore the caves with the giant insects in. I'm going to recommend to them that they consider taking some hired help with them as the party is quite low on straight combat muscle (a cleric, a thief, an elf and a gnoll). Overall though, the game session went really, really well :-)

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Animate dead is awesome!

The party fights the hardest battle they've ever fought - voluntarily too I might add; 40 hit dice worth of giant ants that are crawling all over a bridge and stripping it of wood! Up against the insects are a 4th level cleric, a 2nd level fighter and a 4th level dwarf; they've funneled the ants into a tunnel and the ants can only come at them one at a time. After the fight is over, only the cleric still lives but the experience points push him to level five... he retreats from the nest and back to the local town to train.

He pays the fee and trains to become fifth level. In so doing, he gains access to the level three cleric spells and decides to memorise Animate Dead. He's joined by his psychic companion, a prize fighter with a bunch of phobias that include fleeing from darkness and screaming around clowns and the mage who has now invented her own brand of fire magic and returns with a whole bunch of unique spells. The motley crew goes back into the nest, fights a couple of giant ants (which the prize fighter defeats by knocking both of them off the aforementioned bridge and into the chasm below with his flying kick attacks) and then retreats back to rest. This group is lower level than the previous and very ability based; the psychic has used up all of his power points and the cleric and mage most of their spells, so they figured resting would be a good idea.

During the night though, they are ambushed by two elven archers. They archers have been tracking them for a while and are in the employment of the Druids of the West, sworn enemies of Tarantio. The Druids are the embodied of Law in the Land, whereas Tarantio and his dark cult embody chaos. There is a brief parlay where Tarantio attempts to talk his way out of the situation but the Elves powers of divination and lying detection spells undo his attempt - a fight is on!

The Elven archers try to bring the cleric down in a hail of bow fire but it does not work; instead, they are themselves shot by arrows and sling bullets. Then, the most awesome thing happens. Tarantio uses his animate dead spell. On the Elves that were sent to kill him. Only now, they are zombies that serve him. Do you want to know the duration of the spell? It's permanent. They will serve him forever. This is just too good for words. I think we've found one of the most awesome spells in D&D!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

The psychic character class - for Labyrinth Lord

This is a new character class for Labyrinth Lord and is a reimiganing of the second edition AD&D version. To use this class you will need either the psionics handbook or the psionic spell cards. I myself purchased the cards, then knocked up this character class based on those cards.

The psychic was born with a brain capable of manifesting supernatural powers. As such, his are available from birth or as soon as he becomes aware of them during adolescence. He does not acquire new psionic powers over time; instead, he becomes better able to control and manifest them. He gains d6 hit points per level and uses the Elf advancement table and saving throws. He has an initial starting psychic power point score as his total Wisdom and Intelligence combined which he uses up when he uses his psionic abilities. These psychic power point's are recovered at a rate of 40 per day (providing a good nights rest was gained - 8 hours - otherwise only 20 are recovered). Upon levelling up, d10 extra are gained.

The psychic has an ability from each psionic discipline, determined at random. The psionic disclipines are:

Psychic Contact: The contacting of other minds by the psychic, sometimes in a hostile manner.
Psychoprotection: The defences against contact by other psychics.
Clairsentience: Expanding the senses beyond their normal limits.
Psychokinesis: Affecting other external objects in the world.
Metapsionics: Boosting psionic powers and abilities.
Psychometabolism: The psychic affecting his own body - or the body of another living creature.
Telepathy: Knowing - or changing - the thoughts of another.

To determine them at random, take the cards and sort them into these disciplines, then shuffle each deck. Split the cards and the top power is the one that the psychic knows. Do this for each school. Psychic contact contains the psychic attacks and psychoprotection contains the defences. Ignore the psychic combat cards, these will not be necessary. Alternatively, make some random tables from the psionic handbook. There were very few powers I had to remove from my campaign to make this class work; I recommend removing all healing and magical effect type powers (e.g. melting metals and such).

To manifest a power, the psychic spends the required power points but does not have to make an ability check. Instead, if the power operates on another, the other gets a save vs spell and any magic resistances apply, to resist the power.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Delving deeper

The party began the session by leaving the caves and returning to the town of Dewton, where they run a small business (they own a tavern). They sent Aeon, the witch into training so she could level up and she returned with the ability to use magic and not just mix potions and some knowledge of superior potion making. Torvig, the dwarf, got his dagger identified and it turned out to be an enchanted dagger +1, so he gave it to Aristcritus, the low level thief. They then hired two henchmen to accompany them back into the cave system: Soc Kal (a humble woman wielding a bastard sword and wearing, of all things, a chain bikini) and Eirronsand (a foolish man with lots of energy who wielded a mace and wore chainmail).

On the way to the cave, the Gnoll shapeshifter transforms back into his Gnoll form and gives Eirronsand a real shock. He had already insulted Gnolls, back in the tavern where they met him, by calling them hyena headed idiots. Luckily for him, this Gnoll hadn't taken offense at that. Back at the cave entrance, they leave their wagon, and all their possessions on it, in the hands of their new hench-lady Soc Kal. Risky for someone they've only just met! Within the cave, Eirronsand insulted the dwarf when Torvig tried to tell him to be careful; that he had lost a foot to one of the beasts down here, but Eirronsand was undeterred, saying dwarves have tiny, fragile ankles. Later, he also insulted Railia, too, but she too choose restraint.

They re-enter the cave system proper, rapel down the ropes they hammered in with iron spikes, and continue their exploration. The bodies of the giant ants they had slain, and the giant beetle, are gone, but Railia cannot find any blood trail, even with her tracking skill, so they set off to explore at random. They find many passages that the dwarf notes slope downwards and backtrack each time til they have come across a cavern which a gigantic stag beetle, intent on eating them, emerges from.

A battle commences!

The elf fires rays of frost out of her finger tips into the beetle!

All is going well, until Raila joins the fight in close quarters and has her stomach ripped apart by the gigantic beetle. She collapses foward, dead and the beetle is hammered into oblivion by the remaining party members. Then, they cut the beetle up and carry bits of it with them in case they run into any giant ants.

Exploring a little deeper and hopefully to get some more gold, it is not long before the party happen across a giant mantis devouring four giant ants! The creature turns to regard them with malevolent, alien eyes and the party panics! They drop the pieces of the giant beetle and retreat quite a way. They are not followed.

They begin to make plans for how to defeat the giant preying mantis, knowing full well it has just slain four giant ants so it must be powerful. During the planning Aeon interrupts, explaining that she has phobia of insects and wants no part in fighting a giant preying mantis. The party agrees to leave her out of the battle, makes a plan involving burning oil and a bunch of spells, then prepares to fight.

The party move in on the mantis, intent on its death!

Eirronsand proves the bravest, fighting against it alone until he is joined by Torvig. The two thieves are scaling the walls and throwing shurikens into the beast, which turns its attention on the dwarf and scythes through his armour as though it were paper.

Tarantio joins the fight after the throwing the mythical Hammer of Dawn at the creature and also takes a heavy beating and is knocked backwards by the force of the injuries. Frantically drinking healing potions, both the dwarf and the cleric try to recover some of their strength, while their henchman Eirronsand is eviserated.

Eirronsand is dead, cut to ribbons by the preying mantis and its scythe like appendages! Tarantio attempts to put the fear of god into the creature with a spell - but it resists. The elf summons a pit viper to fight the mantis, but she can only keep it in this plane of existence for one round - not enough as its strike does not pierce the armour of the beast. Tarantio attempts to delay the mantis with his magic; to make it hesitate at critical moments - and it works!

The mantis bangs its head on Torvig's axe and is dazed - just the break the party needed! The gnoll, who has been battling it with a scythe in each hand, has one of them broken and pulls out his trident to try and stab the beast. Then, he switches to his net and tries to net it, but alas, his throw was not on target and it fails. Desperately, he throws his broken scythe at the beast - and decapitates it! Finally - the giant mantis is defeated.

The players decided that they best thing to do would be to retreat back to Dewton and sell their loot to raise two thousand gold pieces to have Raila resurrected. They make just enough and she comes back to life - but with a disorder. She now has an under the bed fetish, meaning she will never sleep on a bed, only under it! Still, it is much better than never learning anything, which was what she had been afflicated with the last time she was brought back to life.

In addition, they drag the carcass of the mantis to the smithy and ask if any armour could be made from it; Giles says yes, names a price but they cannot afford it yet. However, he agrees to preserve the body for much less and will make them a suit of armour that is stronger than platemail when they can afford it later.

Friday, 6 March 2009

The Prizefighter - a new Character Class for Labyrinth Lord

The Prizefighter is a fearless bare knuckle boxer who is lethal with his bare hands. This brawler uses them frequently and without warning. He sneers at anyone who goes into combat using weapons, preferring to literally pummel his enemies into submission with his hardened fists and lightning reflexes.

The Prizefighter cannot wield weapons of any kind except to throw daggers and darts at opponents; he is otherwise exclusively an unarmed fighter extraordinaire.

Advances as a fighter, with fighter hitpoints, experience points and saving throws. His prime ability is also strength.

Level one
May kick an opponent for d3 damage and the opponent must make a save vs paralysis or suffer the effects of a knockback* if the opponent is mansized. If the opponent is smaller, the opponent suffers a -4 on his saving throw.

May strike with both fists in a round but the second attack counts as an off hand attack and occurs with a -4 penalty to the attack roll**. If both fists strike the target, the Prizefighter is allowed a third fist attack, at no penalty to hit.

Level two
The Prizefighter may follow two successful fist strikes in the same round with an immediate kick attack.

The Prizefighter gains an immediate counter attack against an opponent who misses him with a melee attack; this counter attack is made as a normal attack roll and is a single fist strike. Rings of protection, if any are worn, grant an attack roll bonus of +1 for each point of protection, for the counter attack to-hit roll.

Level three
May elect to follow two successul fist attacks immediately, by locking an opponent's limb, or he may use this ability on a prone or stunned opponent. Locking limbs works on humanoid, living opponents only and on opponents of lesser level than the Prizefighter. The opponent must make a save vs paralysis or have his limb restrained by the Prizefighter. The opponent must then make a save vs paralysis every round, with a -4 penalty, or be unable to act. At will, the prize fighter may attempt to break the limb by making a successful strength check, causing d6 points of damage and forcing the opponent to make a save verse paralysis or be stunned for 1d4 rounds. Opponents who have a limb broken must instantly make a morale check. If the opponent is larger than the Prizefighter (e.g. an Ogre) she receives a +4 bonus to all saving throws mentioned.

Level four
May elect to follow a successful kick attack immediately with a knee attack. This attack deals d2 damage, and the opponent must make a save vs paralysis or be stunned for one round. This can be in addition to being knocked back; in which case, she is knocked prone. The opponent must be man sized or smaller, humanoid and living (e.g. not magical or undead).

Level five
If both fists strike an opponent in the same round, the Prizefighter may elect to follow them immediately with a head butt attack, inflicting d4 damage if it hits. This attack is made with a +4 to bonus.

Level six
Counterattacks may also be made with kick attacks, at the Prizefighter's discretion.

Level seven
If both fists strike an opponent in the same round, the Prizefighter may elect to immediately follow them up with a neck break. In addition, a neck break may be attempted on a prone or stunned opponent. This works only on man size opponents or less and on opponents of lower level than the Prizefighter. The opponent must make a save vs paralysis, or have her neck snapped like a twig. This effectively puts the combatant out of the battle and will paralyse her for life. Neck breaks also inflict d10 damage on an opponent.

Level nine
Counterattacks with fists are now made with both of them as two attacks, but no subsequent combos may be chained on the end of this.

Level twelve
Neck breaks may be attempted on unaware opponents. The Prizefighter does not inherently have any supernatural move silent ability like the thief - this ability will never apply in a combat situation. The victim must be heavily distracted or otherwise engaged or will become aware of the Prizefighter before the attempt is made, automatically foiling it.

Level fifteen
The Prizefighter gains his full complement of attacks and options when counter attacking an opponent. For example, he may hit attack with both fists, then if they are successful, follow it with a kick and if that was successful, a knee. However, the first miss breaks the combo completely.

*Knockbacks push an opponent five feet directly backwards. If the opponent cannot be pushed back because the way is blocked, she takes an additional point of damage instead.

**Unless wearing a cestus on the off hand, which is designed for off hand fighting and therefore incurs no penalty on the attack roll.

New Equipment

Knuckle dusters, 1gp, elevates all unarmed damage to lethal status. i.e. unarmed attacks will kill and not knock out an opponent.

Gauntlets (come with platemail, scalemail, chainmail and splint mail armours). Increase unarmed damage to d3 points for the Prizefighter only.

Cestus, 5gp, 1lb, d3 damage and no penalty to hit when used in an off hand attack.

The DM is encouraged to throw some magical variants of these into his treasure troves, from time to time.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

The adventures of Tarantio

Now I have a name for my campaign world - Summit - I thought I might blog about the game sessions as well which I started doing here. So expect a few of these in the blog from time to time as we play sessions ;-)

Tarantio is a fourth level cleric who follows the dark and mysterious Malevolent Malice. He is accompanied by Torvig (a 3rd level dwarf), Terder (a 4th level thief), Aristcritus (a 1st level thief), Raila (a 2nd level fighter), Aeoen (a 1st level witch now ready to level up when she can train), Phluru (the unprouncable 1st level elf) and Frhurg (a 1st level gnoll shapeshifter) - a motley crew of veterans and new recruits form the party. The newest members are the elf and the gnoll who have been brought in to replace two others who died (who also were an elf and a gnoll) in the previous rescue of the cleric. Not that the two new party members were told that, of course ;-)

The party is essentially flat broke. They scraped enough money together to raise Raila from the dead (another casualty of the followers of the Druids who tried to burn Tarantio at the stake). Alas the resurrection was not perfect, as none of them ever seem to be, and now she can never learn anything new ever again. Note to Mike - stop rolling a 13 on the resurrection side effect table! So, being broke, the party decide to explore something unusual they discovered on their travels. A cave with a locked gate.

On finding the cave again, the party checked around for tracks but found only their own. Terder and Aristcritus each tried to pick the rusty padlock on the gate but neither could do it, so the nine foot tall Frhurg literally pulled the padlock apart with his bare hands and the rusty gate swung open...

Inside was an entrance hall, not a cave, with murals of dwarves on the walls. Past this was a long tunnel with a railway track down the middle of it and an upturned cart. It was clear they were in an old abandoned mine.

Within one of the rooms they spoke to a ghost who warned them of a 'great danger' and not to listen to the 'betrayer'. After a short conversation the ghost vanished.

In a locked store room, they came across a family of giant rats living off the contents of a few crates and barrels and were attacked by them!

Giant rats!

Well, the ones marked by green poker counters are anyway - the rest are normal rats.

The cardboard circles are crates and barrels - can you believe I still don't have miniatures for those (yet!).

As you can imagine, this encounter went completely in the party's favour!

After fighting probably the easiest battle the party have ever faced, they continued exploring. At length, after passing many cave ins, they came to a room with a mural on the wall of a dwarf battling a crowned goblin. The mural depicted him winning the fight and wielding a glowing dagger. In front of the mural, on an alter, was a metal box. Aristcritus detected that there was a mechanism in the lock that was likely a trap. Terder successfully picked the lock; but how to open it without triggering the trap? They settled on using an arrow to hook onto the clasp and a rope to pull it. Success! The clasp opened and a poisoned dart hit the wall harmlessly. Within the box was a dagger that Terder, with his experience of handling stolen property (much of which is magical) could tell was magical. Torvig, the dwarf, quickly took the dagger and placed it in his boot for safe keeping.

The party discovered a lake of bubbling fire in one of the caverns, about a hundred feet below the precarious ledge that they were standing upon. This was the Magma Pits - Dwarves in Summit use these for cremation purposes and most Dwarven settlements have them. The group hurriedly headed back.

Later, they came across a spectral dwarf who said to them 'None shall pass, from either direction!' Although his form was incorporal, the weapons he wielded were completely solid. Torvig decided to paylay with him and learned that this dwarf believed he was surrounded by thieves; that everyone had been stealing from the mine and that he was going to put a stop to that and had been doing to anyone and anything. Torvig, cleverly, informed him that there were thieves near the entrance, stripping the mine of its valuables and the spectre left to find the non-existent thieves, allowing the party to continue on its path.

They passed a barricade that had been erected but was incomplete and easy to climb over, to find a cavern with strange vertical shafts in the walls. There were also two lines of gold in that they chiselled out of the surrounding rock; these were very valuable. Hammering a rope in with two iron spikes, Raila went down one of the vertical shafts a full twenty five foot to a cavern below. The rest followed her lead and into a cave system proper.

The party headed for a passage that wound downwards and came face to face with a giant ant that suttled towards them out of the darkness! Rather than turn and flee the party fought bravely but things started to look bad when Torvig had his right foot chewed off! However, the rest of the party hammered the giant ant into oblivion. Torvig realigned his foot to his leg and drank a healing potion to reattach it while Aeon the Witch brewed up twelve more. Torvig then explains how the giant ant eyes are like gems and are valuable and implores the rest of them not to smash the eyes next time!

A little further into the cave system and the party hears more scuttling ahead. Terder climbs the cave wall and peers into the cavern and is joined by Aristcritus doing the same thing. They see an unusual spectacle. Four giant ants are fighting with a giant stag beetle. As they watch, the beetle is killed but it decapitates one of the ants in its death throes.

Three giant ants carry away the carcass of a giant stag beetle.

At this point, the party decided to attack. Notice the two thieves on the walls; from their position they rain down shurikens onto the ants.

As the party decide to fight, the ants turn to kill their attackers. The thieves believe they are safe until one of the ants heads right for Terder and it suddenly occurs to him that they can climb too, so both he and Aristcritus climb back to the safety of the main group.

The giant ants surround Tarantio but already two are injured and one has been temporarily blinded! When Tarantio had shattered his shield, to prevent a critical hit, one of the splinters got into a giant ant's eye and blinded it!

After the ants closed in on the cleric, the thieves once again climbed walls and took up positions at the far sides, raining shurikens down onto the enemy.

After defeating the ants, that wrapped up our game session for the evening. What else could be down in these caves, the group are no doubt wondering....