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 ;-)