Wednesday, January 17, 2018

OLD SKOOL CAMPAIGN - STORMING THE MOATHOUSE - PT 2

The Heroes: 
  • Anton Loyalar: Oeridian Paladin of Heironeous
  • Coppyr: Halfing Monk
  • Eli Pendar: Flannish Cleric of Pholtus
  • Tharn: Dwarf barbarian of the Fireforge clan
The heroes search the barracks and find a few items of interest, but hesitate in opening the door to Lareth's private chambers.  They rest for a while, awaiting Lareth's return, but when he doesn't show they do some reconnaissance.  Coppyr uses his invisibility ring to allow him to sneak down some halls, where he hears someone with a strange accent addressing a group.  The response from the group is animalistic growls and barks, which means the gnolls are being addressed, most likely by Lareth.  He's talking about having recruited the bugbear to their cause and sending them to destroy Hommlet.  The gnolls get excited about that by the sound of the growls and barks. 

Coppyr relays this back to Tharn, who follows a short distance behind the halfling.  The rest of the group awaits just within the hallway the leads to the barracks after Eli repaired the door. 

The halfling hears the gnolls leaving and shortly thereafter the door separating them opens and Lareth's henchmen start to emerge, complaining about the smell of the gnolls and their animalistic ways.  A lieutenant leads them down the hall, but holds back as Lareth emerges to speak with him.  The rest of the henchmen make their way down the hall back to the barracks.  They wait for the lieutenant to unlock the door and when he does, the heroes get the drop on the group!

The fight is held within the hallway and the doorway leading to the barracks.  Anton and Eli hold back while Elmo and Tharn hold the door.  Coppyr remains invisible, waiting for an opening to attack.  The henchmen and lieutenant bear the brunt of the PC's attacks, returning in kind, while Lareth holds back initially, but then joins the fight with spells and his magical staff.  Several of the heroes are hurt, but are able to bounce back after receiving healing from a comrade.  The henchmen and lieutenant aren't so fortunate and they start dropping from the hero's assault.  When the lieutenant drops, Lareth begins to have second thoughts about this battle, but he does not try to escape until it's too late.  Down to two henchmen, Lareth surrenders to the heroes, who bind the three to ensure they do not have a change of heart. 

End of session. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

MY THOUGHTS ON THE CURRENT STAR WARS TRILOGY IN THE MAKING

I HATED Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and that has also brought me to the realization that I hated The Force Awakens too.  I wanted to like them both, I really did.  I wanted to see the old characters come back.  I wanted to see the next generation of characters developed.  I wanted to see the next big, bad villain.  I wanted to see how the New Republic brought the galaxy together and how that was threatened by the new villain(s).  I wanted to see the new Jedi Order that Luke would inevitably develop.  I wanted to see if the Sith would make a comeback.  I wanted to see new, cool spaceships and mega-weapons. 

I wanted to see a new, MODERN, Star Wars movie!

What I got was mostly disappointing.

THE GOOD

Many of the new characters had potential.  Rey as the new Jedi hopeful was cool.  A strong, female lead is something that Star Wars has been missing.  The actress they picked was good for the role, likable, innocent, etc.  Finn was also a cool concept, being a storm trooper that rejects the First Order's ways despite lifelong conditioning.  There's story there, and the actor was also likeable and suited the role.  The Poe Dameron character is kind of the hot-shot of this generation, the Han Solo without the bad-boy side, which is different and has potential.  The actor chosen is a good one.  Benedicio del Toro's character, whose name eludes me, was cool conceptually, and I like the actor.  The General Hux as the First Order's commander was exactly what I'd expect from the Empire remnant to have as a leader.  The stuck-up, British snob act was portrayed perfectly by the actor.  And he is young, so could last longer in the series.  The Empire leadership seemed to take a back seat to the Sith after Star Wars, so it was good to see a strong role here. The Captain Phasma character, again, conceptually cool.  The armor is awesome and to have a female in a First Order leadership role is a first and is refreshing.  Plus, I love the actress playing her.

Much of the new tech was very cool.  The new storm trooper armor, the storm trooper hand-to-hand energy weapon, the new ships, the new Deathstar equivalent, all very cool conceptually. 

Seeing all of the old cast was great.  Glad they were all alive for TFA.

The F/X was excellent.  Loved the half-buried star destroyer.  The swordplay was much more toned-down and realistic than Episodes 1-3, but more exciting than Episodes 4-6.    

THE BAD

Despite all of the characters being cast well and having good story concepts, they were mostly executed poorly, if not outright terribly. 

Rey: Putting her on a desert planet automatically draws comparisons to Luke Skywalker.  Why not put here somewhere different?  Her ability to seemingly use the force once she becomes aware of it is uncannily simple for her.  Nobody else has had it so easy.  I think this was done to save time, but it really cheapened the Force, which has been portrayed in the past as something that requires training to master.  I'm sure some Force abilities could come naturally, especially under duress, but the Jedi Mind Trick?  Going toe to toe with a trained force user?  And when she goes to get training from a master, she gets a couple of quick lessons and somehow takes that and runs with it to enable her to fight Snoke's highly trained guards???  Nope, that's sloppy writing.  She should have been handled much better than this.

Finn: More should have been done to show Finn's struggle against his life-long conditioning and with doing the right thing.  His injury at the end of TFA should have been addressed in TLJ instead of making his recovery a comic relief moment.  His character was completely pointless in TLJ.  The side-trek taken to the casino was a complete waste of time, as it resulted in no change whatsoever to the story's outcome.  If it would not have happened, nothing would have changed.  His new love interest sub plot seems forced as well and not sure why he'd go for her when he clearly has an interest in Rey. Heh, they'll probably make Rey his sister to get out of that corner they wrote themselves into.

Poe: this character was handled fairly well in TFA, but was totally wasted in TLJ.  His actions at the beginning were not just reckless, but were entirely too costly to the Rebellion/Resistance.  It's one thing to be reckless with yourself, but if you cost the Resistance lives and vital equipment, then that's not a good soldier, that's an idiot.  Once Leah was out of action in TLJ, Poe should have stepped in to command the fleet and done something fun and cool, instead of just running until they ran out of gas. 

Del Toro's character had charisma, but was ultimately pointless along with the rest of that sub-plot.  Waste of a good character.

Hux was potrayed well in TFA, and was throwing out a Hitler vibe, which is scary.  But he was relegated to comedy relief in TFA, which totally undermined the development he got in the 1st movie.  They should have shown how this guy was able to pull together the remnants of the Empire into the First Order - that would take a Hitler-like charisma to pull off. 

Captain Phasma was wasted in TFA and was killed off (again) in TLJ.  Why can't they keep a good villain around?  Wasted potential.  In TFA, she should have gone up against Finn and the light saber, and part 2 should have been in TLJ with a final round in the last movie.  Nope.

The Classic Characters:  All of the original Star Wars characters were so poorly written that I can't even associate them with the characters from the original trilogy.  Everything they gained from their victory at the end of the first trilogy was negated by TFA/TLJ, and in some cases they were completely out of character. 

Han: In the original SW trilogy, Han goes from caring only about himself to being a leader in the Rebellion.  Somehow, after the Battle of Yavin, he throws that all away, abandons the Rebellion/Resistance, his wife and kid, to go sow his wild oats again.  So much wrong with that.  Solo could have been portrayed as a war-torn and worn hero, but instead they chose to revert him back the old Solo from the start of Star Wars.  Then, the way he was killed was pointless, as his death only strengthened the darkness in his son and Snoke's hold on him.  Dumb and such a bad way to end the life of one of the most beloved heroes of all time.

Leia: Mostly underused in TFA, she was relegated to being a helpless commander.  Not only should she have been on top of her game militarily, but she should not have been shoved to the background because she can't solve the First Order problem without Luke.  Leia would have found a way without Luke.  The way she was handled in TLJ was a joke.  I love the idea that she had learned to use the Force during the last 30 years, but the way they chose to display that in TLJ was terrible and laughable.

The Droids: These two should have just been destroyed and put in a scrap heap for all the good they're doing the new movies.  C3P0 is annoying, not funny.  R2D2 is just barely there.  Although I did like how he used the projection of Leia to try and convince Luke to help her, it was about the only thing that R2 has done in these movies, which is a shame.  All the droid love has gone to the new BB8 droid, which is fine, but give R2 a good send-off - have him destroyed in a meaningful way, not collecting dust in a corner.

Luke: Of all of the characters they mishandled, they handled Luke the worst.  There is so much wrong with how they portrayed him in TLJ that there is no salvaging it.  They completely misunderstood the journey that character took in the original trilogy and completely went against his character.  1st of all, Luke would not have abandoned Leah unless it was to undertake a greater quest.  Secondly, Luke would NEVER have tried to kill his nephew and would have done ANYTHING to try and turn him away from the Dark Side.  Those two fundamental truths are a core to Luke Skywalker's character.  In the original trilogy, his reluctance to get involved died when the Empire killed his aunt and uncle.  From that point on, he did anything he could for his family and for the Rebellion.  He went up against the two most powerful Dark Side characters with the sole intent of finding the good in his father.  The screenwriters completely missed the point of this character.  There was such missed opportunity as a result.  Luke could have been portrayed as such a powerful Bad Ass, but is instead portrayed as a family-betraying, attempted murderer hermit.  How could anyone that knows the slightest bit about Star Wars greenlight that?  His final act of going up against Kylo Ren was even cowardice, considering he did it via astral projection instead of going there personally.  And to have him die of, what, exhaustion?  Pathetic.  His refusal to train Rey was dumb.  Maybe he did come to think that a formal Jedi Order was encouraging the Sith, but to turn his back on a force-awakened person was just cruel to her, especially knowing that Kylo Ren and Snoke would snatch her up as soon as they could.  So much wrong, so much…

The Plots: The Force Awakens plot was convoluted, unoriginal and poorly executed.  What happened to the Empire, how did the First Order come into being, why is there a Resistance and a New Republic, how can the First Order create a fleet and a massive weapon far more powerful than the Death Star, why is Rey Force sensitive, who are her parents, who is Snoke & how did he come to be Supreme Commander of the First Order…all of these are questions that should have answers, but don't; at least not in the movies.  They expect us to go to books and supplements to get these answers, which is lazy writing.  The plot of TFA was basically a bad rehash of Star Wars.  The plot of TLJ was an even worse rehash of the Empire Strikes Back and, of the two, TLJ was the worst.  The plot of the First Order vs the Resistance was basically, chase them until they run out of fuel.  How boring is that?  At least when the Empire was chasing Solo and Leah around, they went through asteroids and eventually chased them to Cloud City where the showdown took place.  TLJ just had them being chased and picked off a ship at a time.  I think someone worked very hard to make that about as boring a plot as they could come up with.  At the end of TLJ, with a handful of Resistance left, I have absolutely no idea where they are going with Episode 9, and not in a good way.  At the end of ESB, we knew that Luke would go after Han and eventually have a showdown with Vader.  I have no idea what the story could possibly be in E9.  Snoke is dead, so that leaves the whiny emo DV wannabe Kylo Ren as the big bad guy?  Nope.

THE MEH

The BB-8 droid was a little weird and I'm still not seeing the practicality of a spherical droid with a dome head that rolls around everywhere. 

Snoke: Not a very imposing or evocative figure visually - lacks the Darth Vader look and the Emperor's menace.  He is killed off way too easily before any backstory is revealed and before he could do anything to show how powerful he is, other than throw Rey around a little.

Kylo Ren: Whiny emo Darth Vader wannabe is not what I look for in a Star Wars villain.  The actor is okay, but his motivation, his obvious struggle to stay Dark, and the obvious forced relationship they are forging with he and Rey is just not interesting in the least.  This is Star Wars, not Twilight.

MY SOLUTIONS

I don't pretend to be a professional writer, nor do I have the balls to say I have what it takes to put Star Wars back on track, but I do have some ideas on ways it could have been handled instead of the crap we got.

  • 1st and Foremost: The legacy characters from SW should have been given a glorious send off in the TFA.  They all should have been reunited and should have died in a great sacrifice to the New Republic in order to let the new characters move on without them.   THAT would have been a fitting end to their stories.

  • Luke should have been portrayed as a bad ass.

  • Rey should have gotten formal Jedi training.

  • The big bad evil guy should have been visually distinct, menacing and much worse than all that have come before.

  • They should not have done anything to invalidate anything that happened in the original 3 movies and should have instead moved on from where they left off.  A new and different threat should have been introduced, not just a new Empire wannabe.  Maybe something from outside the galaxy, maybe an ancient Sith threat that reawakened after thousands of years, something original and interesting.  

  • There should have been a new Jedi Order.  A young, uncertain Ben Solo left in charge after Luke sacrifices himself would have been much cooler than the whiny emo Darth Vader wannabe Kylo Ren.  Rey could have stepped in to help reassure Ben, maybe take over the Jedi Order when Ben is captured by the new bad guys and they attempt to turn him.   Maybe Luke got married and his wife is widowed and left to run the order.  Lots of opportunities here.

  • I kind of like the idea of remnants of the Empire still lingering around the galaxy, causing problems.  I have a vague idea of this "First Order" finding an ancient Sith tomb, unleashing a powerful sith ghost that possesses someone in the First Order and uses them.  At some point this Sith leader finds another army, perhaps an ancient robot army or an extragalactic ally force, and no longer needs the First Order.  I like the idea that the betrayed First Order has to align with the New Republic to defeat the Sith. 

Anyway, I'm truly saddened with the way that the new trilogy is being produced.  But, I also have to resign myself to the fact that Disney isn't making the movies for me, rather the current generation of toy buyers.  Oh well, I can always pretend they don't exist, like the prequels.

Friday, December 22, 2017

OLD SKOOL CAMPAIGN DIARY - STORMING THE MOAT HOUSE, PT 1

The Heroes: 
  • Anton Loyalar: Oeridian Paladin of Heironeous
  • Coppyr: Halfing Monk
  • Eli Pendar: Flannish Cleric of Pholtus
  • Tharn: Dwarf barbarian of the Fireforge clan
Guest Star: 
  • Elmo: Warrior of some kind
The heroes, along with the rest of town, are shocked at the destruction of Burne and Rufus’ tower.  Many know that the town council had been summoned there just within the hour and now many fear that they are dead, including the wife and daughter of Ostler Gundigoot, who rush out of the Welcome Wench, running towards the scene.  The heroes, too, make their way there and find that the upper two stories of the tower are gone, blasted away and crumbled down to the base of the tower. 

The people look to the heroes for direction and they begin to try and clear the rubble from the tower’s first level, but the sheer amount of stone and timber that chokes it makes the work dangerous and nearly impossible.  From the crowd, one large man emerges and starts screaming in anguish, “PA!  PA!!!”  He digs at the rubble, moving large boulders with ease, but causing the unstable mass to become even more unstable.  The heroes and others pull the man back before he makes a dangerous situation worse.  He falls to his knees sobbing, calling out to his pa, who was evidently in the tower.  The townfolk know the sobbing man to be Elmo, the son of the town’s militia leader Otis.  Elmo is also known as the town drunk, spending much of his time drinking in the Welcome Wench or passed out in the street or an alley.   Elmo pulls himself up, shrugs off the consoling townfolk and storms off into the crowd.

The heroes tell the crowd that it is too late and too dark to attempt to get into the tower remains.  They instruct the townfolk to return in the morning to start work on clearing the rubble.  As the crowd disperses, the heroes see Elmo marching down the street towards the moat house.  He is dressed in studded armor and bearing weapons.  They intercept him and convince him to wait until morning and accompany them to make Lareth and his minion pay for what they did.  Elmo reluctantly agrees.

The following morning, the heroes find Elmo waiting for them and the group heads off towards the moat house.  Tharn prods Elmo a bit on his background and learns that the big man had gotten himself mixed up with some bad people and ended up doing some things that he deeply regrets, to the point that he began to drink himself to death.  He also mentions that he and his friends used to explore the moat house when they were younger, even though it was off limits.  It was abandoned then, but Elmo knows of a secret way in that leads into the dungeons.  He takes the heroes into the swamps and to a hill that has a concealed door built into it, which he opens to reveal stairs leading down.

The group follow the big man down the stairs and into a long, stone passageway.  Eventually they see lights where torches have been lit, suggesting an occupied area.  Elmo says that there are a series of rooms up ahead and the passage also continues off diagonally to another part of the dungeon.  Coppyr sneaks ahead invisibly and hears someone moving behind the door leading to the rooms Elmo mentioned.  The rest of the group catch up to Coppyr and Tharn tries to smash through the door, but finds it sturdier than he anticipated.  He and Elmo try again and together the door breaks, but the initial attempt alerted the people on the other side, who move to attack!  Crossbows hum with bolts being fired while Elmo and the others force their way into the hall to attack the thugs.  Several more appear from the rooms beyond the hall and the fight gets difficult.  A leader shouts directions, suggesting this group has tactical training.  But the heroes, along with Elmo, manage to fight their way in and kill most of the thugs.  The last two surrender and, after some prompting, offer up that Lareth is elsewhere in the dungeon with his entourage, speaking with the gnolls and bugbears he recruited to his cause.

The heroes pause here, catch their breath, heal some wounds and figure out their next move.

End of session.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

OLD SKOOL CAMPAIGN DIARY - PRISONERS OF THE MOATHOUSE

  •  Anton Loyalar: Oeridian Paladin of Heironeous
  • Coppyr: Halfing Monk
  • Eli Pendar: Flannish Cleric of Pholtus
  • Tharn: Dwarf barbarian of the Fireforge clan
The heroes search the area the zombies were inhabiting and find a couple of storerooms that have been in recent use, filled with fresh supplies, weapons and armor.  They search more of the area and find a torture chamber with blood drippings that seem to lead to a wall.  Eli finds a secret door and a passage behind the wall.  Before investigating that, they proceed through a large door through a room to another large door and find an ogre within.  The ogre threatens them until they don the cultist cloaks they found in one of the storerooms.  They try to get the now confused ogre to open the door leading out of his room, but he refuses saying the Master told him to open the door for no one but him.  The heroes get tired of dealing with the simple-minded oaf and attack, killing him and taking the key that he had tied to his…body. 

Behind the door they find a prison with two cages. Within one is the wizard Spugnois and a gnome.  In the other is an emaciated, bearded human man.  They let the prisoners out and find that they have all been tortured and are in no shape to travel.  They do learn that the bearded one is Sir Thomas Tabert, one of the knights that was assigned to guard Prince Thrommel and went missing at the same time the prince did.

The heroes decide to explore the hidden passage, fearing a wounded person may have been dragged in there.  Within they find tunnels that lead to an ancient crypt, and within are several ghouls gnawing on bones.  Anton’s light gives the group away and the ghouls attack, greatly desiring fresh meat.  The heroes fight in the cramped tunnel believing it to protect them from being surrounded by the ghouls, but the creatures surprise them by climbing the walls and ceiling to get to them.  But the heroes are still able to defeat the creatures.  They explore the crypt, but find nothing but old caskets and another tunnel.  They follow the tunnel which leads to the ghoul’s nest, where they find several valuables.

Returning to the prison, they decide to take the prisoners out of the moat house and back to Hommlet to get them proper care.  They take Sir Thomas to Burne and the mage takes the man and tells Rufus to summon Canon Terjon immediately.  He urges the heroes to continue to clear out the moathouse.

The heroes take the other wounded ones back to the Welcome Wench.

Session ends.

After Session Cinematic Interlude

The following occurs after the heroes leave the moat house dungeons.  During this interlude, your character's actions are on DM auto-pilot.  You will resume control after these events unfold.

Zert moves through the hallway, passing the bandits and mercenaries that have been recruited by the master over the last several months.  Humans, thankfully, not the demi-human scum that are quartered in the other part of their hide-out.  Zert’s destination is his master’s chambers and when he arrives at the door, he looks himself over to ensure he is presentable.  Lareth is a stickler for appearances and Zert learned the hard way that if he did not present himself properly the master would be more difficult to deal with than he already was.   “The master;” Zert hated calling him that, but Lareth insisted.  Zert’s true loyalty was to a higher being, a MUCH higher being, but Lareth was in charge here, as deemed by the one closer to his TRUE master, so he has to go with it. 

A slight rap on the door and a soft voice from behind it beckons the warrior in. 

The well-lit chamber was well furnished, much more so than the soldier’s quarters or any other part of the dungeon.  The master stood before his mirror, where he normally stood, admiring himself.  He was tall, slender in build, but Zert knew that this belied the master’s strength.  His long, white hair flowed down his back in stark contrast to his purple silk shirt.  The master’s skin was very dark, almost perfectly black, as was typical of his kind. 

“Well?”

 Zert straightened himself and looked at the master’s reflection where he was being gazed upon by the unnerving lavender eyes.  “I just returned from the ogre’s room and found him dead.  The zombies have been destroyed as well and it appears the group responsible also went into the crypt and killed the ghouls.  This is a formidable group, master.

“Tell me something that isn’t obvious, fool!  Of course they are formidable; how else could they have survived the assassin and still not be deterred by his attack.  This group is different.  Driven.  My pets report that they have a fledgling knight, a priest of the light, a dishonored dwarf and an off-world halfling, all of no small skill.  We we will need to stop underestimating them.  Alert the agents in Hommlet to enact Phase Two tonight.”

“Tonight, Master?  But, we’re not ready, we haven’t collected nearly enough for the Temple…”

“TONIGHT, Zert.  I have tolerated their interference long enough.  The Mistress, and her children, demand retribution.”

Zert sees a big, ugly black spider crawl over the master’s shoulder and stare at him with its multiple bulbous eyes.  He could see movement all over the room’s shadowy corners, on the ceiling and walls, and under the bed’s covers, as more the creatures lingered near their THEIR master.  Zert gulped nervously.

“And I will have my revenge.  Irichi was one of my favorite pets.  They will pay for murdering her.”

 Zert responds, “Yes, master.”

“And Zert,” Lareth adds, “alert the guards in the event these fools survive the night.

Zert waited a moment to see if there were any further instructions, but only silence followed.  “Very well, master, we will enact Phase Two as you command.”  And with that, Zert gently shakes a spider off his boot and backs out of the room, closing the door behind him.

Lareth continues to admire himself in the mirror, but even more importantly, he admires the image of his Mistress, which appears to him in the same glass, silently summoned by her servant.   “What is your report, Lareth of Alzierarkakhan, son of Mahreen?”  Her voice was as smooth as a spider’s silk and just hearing it in his mind sent shivers of excitement through his being.  “Mistress Lolth, I am proceeding ahead of schedule.  The fools at the Temple are taking too long and our operations here are being jeopardized by overzealous adventurers.  It is only a matter of time before they convince the Vicount to take action.”

The smooth voice responds, “I trust your judgment Lareth, my beautiful servant, my Favored One.  You serve me as no other.  Ensure the Old One understands that my interests will not be delayed due to the incompetence of his minions.”  

“I shall, Mistress Lolth.”  Her image dissipates and Lareth is left with only his countenance remaining in the mirror.  He retires to his bed to alleviate the lust that his mistress left burning within him.

Terjon hastens his step behind the tall, burly Rufus.  He doesn’t like the warrior, but he recognized the stability that he and the insufferable Burne brings to Hommlet.  Rufus interrupted a service that the Canon was holding, which irriated him to no end.  The people of this town needed his guidance if they were to continue to hold to the Path of St. Cuthbert, and continue feeding his offering coffers.  But the matter seemed of great importance, as Burne and Rufus dislike Terjon as much as he them, so to summon him thusly was unusual. 

The two waded through the townfolk undergoing militia training and proceed up the path to Burne and Rufus' tower, entering and climbing the steps the meeting room.  Therein they find Burne and the individual that Rufus mentioned that needed Terjon’s attentions.  In addition, others from the council were in the room. 

“I was under the impression that I was to tend to an injured man, not that we were having a council meeting.” 
 Burne was at the meeting table with the others, including the village elder that leads the council.  He responds to Terjon, gesturing to the man on a cot being tended to by Burne’s servants. “You are, but the man in question is of significance to all of us.  This is Sir Thomas Tabert, one of the men abducted with Prince Thrommel.”

Terjon raises an eyebrow, nods and then goes to the injured man to administer St Cuthbert’s blessings of healing upon him.  When he’s finished he returns to the council, who are talking amongst themselves, and says, “Tabert’s condition is poor, but he’ll live provided he gets rest and food and water.”  The priest joins the others at the table.  “So, does he know where the prince is?”

 Rufus says, “No, unfortunately he says he’s been moved around to various outposts and is blindfolded every time, so he doesn’t know where he’s been.  He does, however, believe that the old Temple of Elemental Evil is reoccupied and is in the process of rebuilding its forces.  If that’s truly the case then we need to inform the Vicount immediately.  If Prince Thrommel is being held anywhere, it’s the most likely place.”

Burne shakes his head at that.  “I was there when the coalition of priests and mages locked the place down.  Powerful rituals were used to places wards on the temple to ensure that nobody could ever enter, or leave that structure.  There is no way that anyone could have re-entered, short of divine intervention.”

“Unless they burrowed their way in,” Oster states matter-of-factly. They’ve had a decade.  We should have finished them off when we had the chance.”

The elf druid Jaroo adds, “That is something that had not been considered.  The temple may be warded, but the grounds were not.  It would not be difficult to burrow below the temple.  Although they still may not be able to enter, they could potentially draw power from it from below…”

The large man named Otis speaks up.  “We were fools not to hunt down every last one of them.  We were satisfied with locking up their demon and trapping her inside the temple.  But the true threat was with whoever managed to make contact with the elemental princes and summon her to begin with.  We should have known this would come back to haunt us.”

The room burst out in discussion, with those defending and others condemning the decisions made and the actions taken during the Battle of Emridy Meadows and the following Seige of the Temple of Elemental Evil.  Burne smacked his staff against the side of the table to bring the meeting back to order.  “Regardless of what could or should have been done, the issue is the present and future, not the past.  We have a chance to find and save Prince Thrommel and to shut down this cult once and for all.  I suggest we contact the Vicount and begin planning…”

Burne stopped short when he heard a gurgled shout from the other side of the room.  Sir Thomas Tabert was sitting up and with his left hand he strangled one of Burne’s servants who was attempting to feed him.  Dead, the servant is tossed to the side and Tabert stands.  His stance is awkward, as though he were not in control of his actions, and indeed, Burne and Terjon could see the tell-tale signs of possession in the knight’s eyes, which were completely black.  Everyone at the table rose quickly, and those who were armed drew their weapons, while those with magical skill called to mind their magic.  A tense silence overtook the room for a moment until Terjon broke it by shouting, “Begone demon, lest I call upon St Cuthbert to cast you back into the Abyss to answer to your unholy masters!”
 The awkwardly standing knight cocked his head to one side and opened his mouth much wider than was possible.  The cracking of bone and sinew was heard as his jaw distended and a horrid voice, clearly not that of Sir Thomas, issued forth. “My patience has borne fruit for many of the architects’ of the demise of my plans sit here now in my view.  You were indeed foolish not to seek out my many minions, but doing so would have been an impossibility, for they are legion and growing.  But, know this now, fools; I work not alone in this endeavor, but have powerful allies and together we shall restore the might of the Temple of Elemental Evil, and the Elder Elemental Eye shall rise to destroy your Cuthbert and the other so-called gods he surrounds himself with.  A new order shall rise, and we shall reshape this world in Our image!”

No sooner than the last word was spoken than Burne let loose with a spell designed to hold the possessed knight in a grip of magical force to allow Terjon to perform an exorcism.  But the knight gestured off-handedly and the spell dissipates.  Terjon raises his holy symbol and fills the room with the brilliance of his faith.  The knight hisses and vomits forth a flood of spiders, which hit Terjon, knocking him off his feet and distracting him as he tries to free himself from the bites of the thousands of spiders carpeting him.  The warriors move to act, but before they can get to the knight, he raises his head upward, emitting an awful, unearthly moan.


Outside the tower, the people of Hommlet that are out and about hear the moan and look over to Burne’s tower.  Above it, a mass of black clouds billow forth from a singular point and extend outward to blanket the tower in their black shadow.  From the clouds a powerful bolt of green lightning bursts forth and strikes the structure, causing the stone and wood to explode violently outward in a brilliant flash.  Momentarily stunned, the people shake off the flash from their vision and look back to the tower to see it has become a smoking ruin.  The black clouds collapse upon themselves once again and the evening sky resumes it’s cool, autumn clarity.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

OLD SKOOL CAMPAIGN DIARY: BACK TO THE MOAT HOUSE

The Heroes:
  • ·         Anton Loyalar: Oeridian Paladin of Heironeous
  • ·         Coppyr: Halfing Monk
  • ·         Eli Pendar: Flannish Cleric of Pholtus
  • ·         Tharn: Dwarf barbarian of the Fireforge clan

Our heroes return to Hommlet and are told by Ostler that Burne is back in town and is interested in their offer to clean up the bandit issue.  The heroes then head over to Burne’s tower and meet with him.  Burne agrees to pay them a sum of 500gp to find the bandit’s nest and end the threat, provided they bring back proof that their leader has been captured or killed and if they will look for any signs of a missing collegue of his, Prince Thrommel.  The heroes agree and mention that they learned the leader is a Lolth worshipper named Lareth.  Although Burne did not know of Lareth, he was interested that a Lolth worshipper was leading the bandits and seemed concerned about the demoness’ ambitions and plans for the region.

After meeting with Burne, the heroes head back to the Welcome Wench behind a number of villagers that had just finished their militia training for the day.  Eli takes advantage of the crowd and begins touting the virtues of Photus.  He garners great interest and spends a couple of hours answering questions.  The heroes eventually go up to their rooms (convincing Ostler to let them use the missing Spugnois’ room) and settle down for the night.

At around midnight, after tossing and turning several times, unable to sleep due to Tharn’s incessant snoring, Eli hears someone walking around in the hall.  The movements sound suspicious enough for him to get out of bed to investigate, but he finds the hall empty.  He proceeds to walk the hall to see if Anton’s door was locked when he hears a creaking sound from inside.  He knocks on the door and Anton sleepily opens it.  That’s when a shadowing assailant attacks them from the darkness of the paladin’s room!  The would-be assassin presses his advantage against the two unarmed and unarmored heroes and manages to cut Anton with a poisoned blade.  Eli blasts the attacker with his holy power and drives him back, jumping out the window and escaping.  He wakes Coppyr and Tharn and they tend to Anton’s wounds, healing him with prayers.  The four decide to lock themselves in Spugnois’ room for the rest of the night.

The following day, the group heads out to the moat house to finish what they started before.  They take a different route, approaching the structure from another angle.  They find that the bodies they’d left behind have been removed and the place appears to be abandoned.  They head down the main stairs and into the dungeons below.
At the bottom of the stairs, Coppyr discovers a batch of green slime and warns the others.  Eli burns it with a spell.  This alerts the zombies, who begin attacking from the chamber beyond the stairs.  The heroes fight through the shambling corpses, destroying them all, then begin to explore the dungeon.


End of session.  

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

OLD SKOOL CAMPAIGN DIARY: THE ROAD BACK TO HOMMLET

The Heroes:
  • Anton Loyalar: Oeridian Paladin of Heironeous
  • Coppyr: Halfing Monk
  • Eli Pendar: Flannish Cleric of Pholtus
  • Tharn: Dwarf barbarian of the Fireforge clan
After exchanging the Moat House loot for items they need, the heroes hit the road back to Hommlet.  As they near the town, they reach a crossroads and encounter two of the people they saw in the Welcome Wench a few days earlier – Zert and Furnok.  The two offer to tag along with the group offering their “protection” from bandits on the road, for a price.  The heroes decline the offer and the two head on down the road towards the town of Nulb.

The heroes continue on towards Hommlet and as it starts to get dark, they see what appears to be wagons on and off the road ahead of them, but no people around them.  They approach the wagons and spot movement in the brush off the side of the road – AMBUSH!   Zert and Furnock fire crossbows at them from one side of the road, while two others – also from the Welcome Wench, Kobort and Turuko – charge them from the other side of the road!

Zert and Furnock focus on the cleric Eli, while Kobort and Turuko attack the other three.  Eli holds the two off for a time, but is taken down.  Zert steals the cleric’s pack and boots and runs into the brush.  Furnock joins the fight against Coppyr, Tharn and Anton.  Turuko managers to kill the halfling Coppyr and turns his attention to Anton.  He manages to knock the paladin senseless, but not before Anton helped Eli back up.  Furnok is killed, which makes Turuko reassess their situation.  He tells the heroes that if they want to see their friend, the wizard Spugnois alive, they’ll let he and Kobort go.  He tells them that the wizard is being held at the Moat House.  Eli, angry at Coppy’s death, kills Turuko.  That causes Kobort to go mad with grief and he continues his attack against  the remaining three heroes, but goes down fighting. 

The group takes the body of Coppyr to Hommlet and to the church of St Cuthbert.  There, Calmert the priest says that Cannon Terjon could perform a Raise Dead ritual, but that it would require a 500gp diamond (which they don’t have) and would have to be done within 10 days.  Calmert prays for Coppyr to preserve his corpse and the heroes take him back to Verbobonc, trade some of the loot they got from the road fight in for money to buy the diamond, then find a Heironeous temple in Verbobonc to perform the ritual.  They then rest a few days in town, allowing the restored Coppyr to shake off the effects of being brought back to life, and then they head on back to Hommlet.


End of session.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

OLD SKOOL CAMPAIGN DIARY: THE VILLAGE OF HOMMLET PT. 3

The Heroes:
  • Anton Loyalar: Oeridian Paladin of Heironeous
  • Coppyr: Halfing Monk
  • Eli Pendar: Flannish Cleric of Pholtus
  • Tharn: Dwarf barbarian of the Fireforge clan
Upon finding Eli Pendar seemingly dead under the giant spider that sprung upon in him the ruins of the tower, the rest of the group move in to save their companion.  Between their attacks of steel, fist and magic, they drive the spider back up into the shambles of the collapsed 2nd floor and set the webbing on fire.  This allows them to pull Eli's inert body out of the tower, but it also drives the spider out and it tries to escape along the top of the adjoining wall.  Anton skewers the spider with a javelin and it falls upon a pile of rubble, dead.

​The heroes decide to take Eli out of the moat house to see if he can be revived, and they move to safer ground some distance away.  After an hour or so, Eli recovers and the group use this time to tend to their wounds.  Then they returned to the moat house, only to come under fire by unseen assailants firing crossbows from the arrow slits of the interior buildings.  The group rush inside the opening and confront the bandits holed up within.  The fight ends with the heroes taking two prisoners.  They search the ruins and find a few items of interest, a large snake and a large lizard that they must deal with.  But they do manage to locate the bandit's loot chest, hidden under a pile of rubble, and an older chest in one of the rooms.  

​While deciding what to do next, they question the one conscious bandit and learn that there is a master of the moat house, named "Lareth the Beautiful", and the bandit claims that he is a priest of Lolth and her "chosen one."  The bandit seems certain that Lareth will exact his vengeance upon the heroes for killing his pet spider and daring to invade his moat house.  

​The heroes decide to leave the moat house, taking the two bandits with them, and go back to Hommlet to decide what to do next.  En route, they encounter a town guard, whom they give the bandits to for proper handling, and then they go back to the Welcome Wench Inn.  There they divide up their findings and decide to go back to Verbobonc to sell some of their acquisitions before returning to Hommlet.  The wizard Spugnois decides to stay behind to see if anything happens in the moat house or with the bandit activity while the heroes are gone.

​Back in Verbobonc, the heroes sell their items, do some additional shopping for themselves, and learn that one of the items found - the very fine broadsword - belonged to a knight of a minor noble family, the Taberts.  This information came from a representative of the Knights of the Hart, who informs Anton and also asks him to see if he can learn the fate of the Tabert son, who went missing at the same time that the beloved Prince Thrommel did, nearly a decade ago.  The prince was to marry the Noble Ladyship of Velune, Jolene, which would benefit the knighthood and strengthen the defenses of both nations, but that marriage has been postponed due to the princes' disappearance, supposedly at the hands of the agents of Elemental Evil that escaped their defeat at both the Battle of Emridy Meadows and the subsequent Battle of the Temple of Elemental Evil.  

​End of session.