Using My Monsters

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The Old Addiction

There was no game this week, as Craig is on holiday, and the next session will contain a lot of plot, a lot of roleplaying, and also, a lot of stuff that Ormid will be happy to be "present" for.

So, when Dave and tez arrived this week, I asked them if they would like to play some Magic: The Gathering, and indeed, they did!

Now about 12 years ago I MTG, and I spent every penny I had on it (this was before 3e, and so there were no new AD&D 2nd edition books to buy as TSR had gone tits up), and built up a vast collection of cards. Eventually I had the fun killed for me by overzealous players who were A) more obssessed than me and B) better at deck building than me.

There are only so many times you can get beaten, or discuss the merits of particular strategy before you have had enough, and I gave up just in time for 3e to come out and stake its claim to my monies.

And so, for all the intervening times my cards have dwelt in a variety of boxes, gathering dust, and in a few cases, getting a bit bent out of shape.

And then...

Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers came out on XBLA, and I downloaded it. I played a few games, and the old rules came back to me. Out of nostalgic interest I downloaded the up to date rules for Magic, and then I downloaded the massive, 159 page Uber Rules for Magic...

...And then I got my cards out and put a couple of decks together. Sian, being my perfect match (i.e. as big a geek as me) was eager to learn the rules, and pretty quickly we were duelling like pro's

More decks got built...and then it happened.

I bought some new cards...and then I bought some more...and now I am waiting for the end of the month to see if I have any spare pennies to buy any more...and Terry has apparently been playing Magic Online, and Dave has remembered how much fun it is...and his wife played for the first time on Sunday and loved it...and....and.......and.....

Oh dear, I'm addicted again.

So, last night, each of us won one game, and in the end, Tez won the deciding round.

All the decks were made by me (Red Goblin deck, Red/Green Burn deck / Black Discard deck / Black Rack-Vise deck, a basic Blue Deck with lots of unblockable beasties, green massive monsters deck and a White Weenie), and it was nice to see which ones really worked well (the Black Vise one is NASTY as is the Red/Green Burn deck), and which need some tweaking (definitely the Green one - too slow by half).

Next week we will be back with the boys in space, but it was nice to play something different this week, and I am looking forwards to playing again...sooooooon I hope!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Session Report - 20/7/09

Sorry it's late, I've been busy preparing for the new game! Anyway...

20:18 - The group meet the new threat head on, and a deadly battle ensues. However, the guards fare no better than the Golem and its unliving allies, and soon their ravaged corpses lie in bloody piles on the floor.

Having slain all the guards for now, the group advance into the slave pens.

20:25 - They enter a long corridor, flanked on either side by cells. Each cell is packed with blank eyed slaves; all of whom appear to be in some kind of meditative trance.

The stench of unwashed bodies, ordure and sour air are strong here, and the group notice that each cell appears to have some kind of filthy feeding trough in it.

Several members of the Wanderer's crew are spotted amongst the slaves; each bearing a crystalline thorn in their foreheads; each a slave of the Neogi

20:27 - Llewellyn spots a side room which appears to be where the guards they just slew were stationed.

Ormid spots, at the far end of the corridor, a complex looking control panel, studded with strange crystalline dials and psi-circuitry, which apparently has something to do with the huge metal and crystal doors a little further on, that block the end of the corridor (and any further progress forwards).

20:28 – 20:35 - Whilst Llewellyn explores the side room (discovering some ritual scrolls, as well as the controls needed to open the slave cells and several stone jars that contain psionically tamed Grey Oozes – a way of cleaning the slave pens out quickly and easily), Ormid decides to poke around in the door control panel...

20:36 - ...with disastrous results. Unfamiliar with the technology involved (and thanks to some particularly naff dice rolls on Craig's part), Ormid not only fails to open the door, but triggers a truly lethal trap

The trap opens a portal that leads to space. The resulting decompression creates a sucking maelstrom in the corridor, which threatens to pull all the group (save the Vyrleen who is safely tucked away in the side room, braced against the winds pull) through the portal, and to spit them into space

Each member of the party struggles to pull themselves to safety. The Warforged assists greatly in this, his natural stability and great physical strength allowing him to move in the blasting winds with few problems

Ormid, apparently unwilling or unable to realise what a balls up he has made simply leaves the rest of the group to struggle once he is plonked in the side room with the Vyrleen (by the Warforged). This enrages Brundorson when he gets in (after several incidents of being sucked closer to the deadly portal), and the furious Dundorin throws Ormid's precious flask of Hot chocolate (which he was just opening) out into the corridor where it is sucked away and blasted into space.

20:38 - After a short while the portal closes...the doors beyond begin to open...

20:39 - Still more guards arrive; a mixed band of mongrels, mutants, Gorgoth and a particularly potent Genasai with a wide range of lightning and thunder based spells.

Wearied by their trials this day, the group find this battle somewhat taxing. The mage is a horrible foe, who uses his magic to not only blast and burn the party, but to ride elemental winds and to avoid damage.

Llewellyn has a nasty turn when he runs ahead of the group to try and trigger the portal trap again (in the hopes of sucking the guards out into space). Alas, he discovers a fail safe is in place, which prevents it operating when guards are in its reach, and he finds himself surrounded by powerful foes.

20:40 - Eventually, the exhausted group defeat the guards, and stumbling forwards, they enter the lift that waits beyond the now open doors

20:42 - Catching their breath as the lift descends, the suddenly find themselves facing a human male and an illithid – Marix and his ally perhaps?

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Session report - 14/7/2009 - The Ancient Enemy!!!

Before we get to the write up, I need to explain something. Amongst my players, past and present, the expression "Six Wights and a Flesh Golem" has become a byword for something that is grossly unbalanced or unfair. It has also been my personal cross to bear, as it was in one of my old games that this came to be.

You see, back in 2nd Edition AD&D the DM had to guess at what kinds of monsters would constitute a balanced battle, which was usually pretty easy. However, now and then, things went horribly wrong, and the player characters paid the price. One such instance happened when the adventurers were exploring a dungeon (I forget the specifics though I am sure my players could give them to you as if the game were yesterday). After some fairly vicious battles and traps, the group encountered a Flesh Golem and its six undead allies.

A massacre ensued, from which only one character escaped...and "Six Wights and a Flesh Golem" became seared into the collective unconscious of all players in my games - even those who never played in that era; bellowed at me when I was on stage in the old band days, brought up with sniggers numerous times over the years, and generally remembered with a strange kind of dread infused affection.

So, since I got to grips with 4e I have been determined to resurrect the old foes, if only to enjoy the reactions of my players when they revealed themselves.

I was not disappointed in the least!

Predictably, as soon as the Flesh Golem was seen, Craig warned the group to "look out for the six wights", and I had to fight very, very, very hard not to crack a smile (I had actually been into the lounge where my dear girlfriend was and done a little 'six wights and a flesh golem" dance prior to the encounter firing). I was a bit gutted when the fight triggered without the group advancing into the killing zone (the side corridors gave the Wights some pretty vicious access to the group), but was overjoyed at the sheer happiness expressed by all my veteran players (all of whom I think may have been there for the original encounter).

Anyway, the fight was incredibly satisfying, and the monsters gave a damn good accounting of themselves. The players also pulled out all the stops to work well together and overcoming what was a Party level +2 fight with only minimal harm and loss of resources.

So, now the ancient foes have been defeated, and from my players feedback, it was something they have been wanting for a long time.

With that explained, here is the game report. Enjoy!

* * *

As the group finish off the monsters, movement from a flight of stairs heading to the crew quarters signals the arrival of more souls...perhaps the crew?

After a few tense seconds, the flapping feet and croaking voices of Gorgryn are heard whispering harshly from above. A small spanner is also dropped by the unseen monsters as they, sensing the carnage below, turn and flee.

19:03 - The group give chase, charging up after them. Alas, they are unable (thanks to the indecision of Gyllithed and the raw clumsiness of Brundorson) to capture them before they flee the ship and raise the alarm.

Whilst running after the monsters, the Warforged notices, through one of the Wanderers portholes that the ship seems to be within some kind of vast port, contained within some kind of greater structure

The fleeing Gorgryn (who from the brief glimpses the group got of them seem to be a species they are unfamiliar with, with long ears, small muzzles filled with very sharp teeth and crested, cat like eyes) vanish and the chamber where the group stand is suddenly filled with magical fire!

19:04 - A sorceress and her warriors (all of whom bear crystal thorns in their foreheads and wear a distracted, blank expression – something the fleeing Gorgryn seemed to lack) attack. The group quickly slay the sorceress, though her bodyguard (some kind of mongrel with Gigorim blood) proves a deadly opponent. However with time, the group overcome the guards, and fearing more enemies, they fall back into the belly of the Wanderer to work out what's going on.

19:05 – 19:15 - Gyllithed finds some healing elixirs in the captains quarters, whilst Ormid checks out the engine rooms (he notices numerous signs that a vicious battle took place on board the ship recently, and also notices, in scribbled script, what appears to be salvaging marks all over the ships engines and artifice)

Whilst exploring the ship, Ormid observes the Gorgryn (who jumped overboard and held onto the exterior of the hull on ropes whilst combat could be heard), coming back on board through a porthole, and stuns them all with his artifice.

Llewellyn slips out of the ship to look around and sees that the Wanderer is chained to a jetty within a vast alien hangar. Other ships (mostly Gorgoth, though one ship, shaped like a Hammerhead shark is moored nearby under guard), are also here, mostly in various states of being dismantled by teams of the strange Gorgryn, and other slaves.

He spots three great doors leading away from the docks, the middle one (and nearest to the Wanderer) guarded by two looming Umber Hulks.

He also spots the heavily armed and armoured patrols (mostly consisting of blank faced Gorgoth and humans) that regularly sweep the docks.

Meanwhile one of the thorns has been removed from the slain sorceress (and Ormid has obtained her enchanted Staff – a Staff of Thunder +2). Ormid and Gyllithed identify the thorns as some kind of semi-organic construct, designed to amplify and focus psionic signals.

With horror, the half-ghost realises that one race in particular (his ancient knowledge of spacefaring comes to the fore here); the dread Neogi; alien slavers and scavengers – though he is vexed how so many individuals could be controlled.

With questioning the Gorgryn give some answers – Mind. Flayers.

19:20 – 19:40 - The group interrogate the Gorgryn (through Gyllithed who speaks their language - Little fact; many of the Greenskin languages are pretty similar, as they are taught through the various clans shaman and priests, who receive the languages from their Gods. In truth, Base Gorgoth is the closest thing to a true “common” language that exists, and as such, many who travel the planes or through space use it), and learn that only three Neogi are onboard this massive vessel, and that they are allied with two Mind Flayers.

One Mind Flayer stands by their side, and has something to do with the mind control (the monsters explain that they are kept as engineers and artificers, and so are not implanted with the thorns, as they tend to impede the bearers ability to undertake complex mental tasks), whilst the other works with “Marix”; a human in charge of maintaining the “Hibernation Suites”

The group discover that the Neogi tend to keep select individuals they deem “valuable” (which often includes officers of ships they capture, especially potent spell casters or similar and powerful warriors) in some kind of suspended animation until they can be sold on – usually to the gladiatorial pits in Dal'Shen

They also learn that those bearing the thorns – the so called “Mind Bound” - are linked to some low grade hive awareness, through which information can be passed. This information usually includes security codes etc, though individuals who need to move about the ship who are not linked to this system get given psionic keys which can be used to influence Mind Bound individuals to some degree, and to activate certain psionic locks

The Gorgryn ask the group if they would be able to take them away from the Neogi, adding that they are excellent at ship board repairs and maintenance. They offer to help the group find their allies (and a crew to man the Wanderer away from here), and to try and delay their “pre deconstruction appraisal” of the ship for as long as they can – they guess, about 12 hours

19:41 – 19:50 - The group have a big talk about what to do next. Some of them feel that they are outmatched here and that they should just take a Linked Portal back to Arbel'Verdaniss and pursue their own ongoing goals, whilst others cannot bring themselves to leave the crew – especially in light of their recent failure to rescue the survivors of the Skyship crash.

It is decided in the end to rescue the crew and liberate the Wanderer!

20:00 - With the Gorgryn's instructions the group head for the Slave Pens – the area where the Mind Bound are “stored” between shifts – as this area leads to the Hibernation Suites.

They are warned that a Flesh Golem guards the way, and that the whole area is heavily guarded. They are also told that they need to speak to Marix.

20:05 - After descending down several flights of stairs, the group enter a long corridor flanked by alcoves decorated with spidery Neogi script. At the far end the group spot a hulking construct made from Gorgoth parts, and augmented with artifice – the Flesh Golem.

20:08 - Another discussion as Ormid tries to discern what magical auras lie in the area, and the group discuss tactics...only...

20:10 - Llewellyn, bored, flings a dagger at the dangerous construct. It activates, and as it does, the backs of the alcoves slide silently upwards revealing gloomy corridors in which crouch six dessicated, grey-fleshed humanoid undead, with coldy glowing eyes, talon like claws and sharp, broken teeth – Wights!

Six Wights and a Flesh Golem!!!!!!

20:10 – 20:15 - A truly epic battle ensues. The group are initially caught out by the undead's ability to shift after a hit, but soon they form sound tactics. The Artificer enchants the Warforged's blade so it deals radiant damage – deadly to the undead but invigorating to the living construct, healing him with each blow landed, whilst the rogue utilizes his movement tactics to their best effect, allowing him to dart in and out of contact with the undead with the minimal repercussions. Brundorson blocks one of the side passageways, hacking any undead apart that come too close, whilst Gyllithed, wielding mostly Necrotic energy, concentrates on the Golem.

The Golem charges through the party several times, smacking heroes out of the way, and sowing mayhem, whilst the undead begin to experience a decline in their luck – and then numbers.

Eventually the group destroy the Wights, and after a spectacular crit from the Warforged (84 damage), the Golem becomes seriously bloodied.

But the fight is still far from over. The Golem is tenacious and even more dangerous when Bloodied, repaying strikes with reflexive blows of jarring force. Luckily, marked by the Dundorin, these attacks trigger opportunity attacks, and soon the Golem is hacked to pieces....

20:16 - ...Just in time for a wave of guards to swarm forth from the Slave Pens...

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Session Report - 30/6/09

3/12/49 (Cold, blustery, rainy)

18:30 – Group arrive at the “Three Flames” inn, in the small town of Jash'Sharim (5 days to the northwest of the Merchant City of Tajanar); a rich mercantile town overseen by the “GunPrince” - a rich weapons merchant and artificer named Afzal.

On arriving the group get themselves some rooms, and after having a drink and in a few cases, a wash, all but Durjani settle down to discuss what to do next.

Pick up some rumours about a large chapter of Solum'Tassadexite knights staying in the town, the “Order of the Skull Enshrined”. Apparently they are on their way to Lumor to make their claim for the sacred sites there, and they have a relic (seen only under a shroud of blessed cloth) stored away in one of the inn's towers, under constant guard.

Even Llewellyn isn't stupid enough to try and have a peak...though he is tempted...

18:45 - Durjani (freshly washed, but still wearing her armour and weapons) tells the group that she needs to go and report her presence in the area to the chapter house of her order, and informs them she will return shortly.

Allowing her time to leave, Llewellyn slips out to follow her. “That can't be good” is Brundorson's opinion.

18:45 – 19:05 – Despite Durjani being vigilant as she moves through the streets of Jash'Sharim, Llewellyn has no problems following her to a horse merchants undetected.

Whilst following Durjani, Llewellyn spots someone who strikes him as belonging to a similar profession as himself, and knowing that the North Ward Procurers Guild have a long arm, he is careful to avoid being detected by them.

19:05-19:25 – Scrabbling on the roof of the stables, the Vyrleen listens to what is going on inside (he can hear Durjani talking to a male, but both speak the Southspeak of the Merchant Princes, which he does not understand).

19:25 – Durjani leaves the stables on the back of a horse, and Llewellyn realises that she intends to leave the group. From the roof he calls to her, warning her that if she betrays the group she will be struck down before trouble can find them, and the Vampire's heart will be destroyed.

Durjani laughs at him, full of scorn, and informs him that she is leaving to stop the pain of knowing that she should by rights be handing the group over to her house for trial, but not wanting to because of all they have been through together. She then adds that Llewellyn is in no way part of that, and that she would gladly see him beheaded.

Llewellyn continues to try and engage her in conversation, but she ignores him, riding into the rainy gloom, and out of the party...

19:45 – Vyrleen returns. He tells the group that Durjani has left, and gets a bit of a roasting from Brundorson who (correctly) states that it was the Vyrleen's constant comments that had pushed her away.

- By this time the group have decided to either stay a day here, so that Ormid can master the Linked Portal ritual that he has in the Gigorim book, which would allow him to open a portal to the Rune Circle at Darryd Keep, or to visit the local branch of the Apporters Guild, and use the location of the lost Dundorin Rune Circle in the mountains as collateral for a free run to either Darryd Keep or Lorehaven.

The group also decide that they should hire a local mage to send a message to Lorehaven about the downed ship and their plans.

Whilst this is going on, Llewellyn buys the Knights of the Enshrined Skull (who are drinking in the bar) a round of drinks (on Ormid's tab lol)

He also spots the Wild Mage Alim Vazir, sat at a table, reading a book (who's pages are turned by his familiar; a small purple ooze), and wanders over.

Alim is clearly insane, though his control is weakened by the Vyrleen's somewhat irreverent attitude.

In a moment of arrogant madness, Llewellyn loudly announces who he is to the sorcerer – and notices a rather suspicious fellow slipping out into the night.

Realising that he has just made a potentially lethal mistake, the Vyrleen (who Alim clearly thinks is a human child), wanders off telling him to speak with Ormid, and heads out to try and stop the stranger...

The Stranger has vanished, and Llewellyn suddenly feels the cold hand of fear at his guts...

Meanwhile, inside, Alim has approached a rather befuddled Ormid and begun to ask what the artificer wants. The two confused gentlemen engage in a circular discussion, which results in Alim getting angry, and being ejected from the Inn.

Llewellyn returns to the group and tells them of his faux pas. It is decided that all (except Brundorson who is going to have a few more drinks – 12 to be exact – as a “nightcap”) should go to bed.

21:30 – Group retire for the night (Llwellyn sets his bed up to look like he's in it, and sleeps beneath)

4/12/49 (Heavy icy rain, clear by night, slight frost)

03:45 – Messenger arrives at groups room with a scroll from the town's ruler, Afzal.
Delivers an “invite” (worded in a way that makes it clear it is a command) into the Warforged's hands for the group to attend Afzal's home at noon that day so Afzal can “study your automaton” - the Warforged

The Warforged is vexed, remembering the prodding and cold interest of the Lorehavian artificers, and some of their dark plans for him

04:15 – After Ormid has been woken by the Warforged, and group have discussed their plans. (They decide that Ormid will begin trying to decipher the Linked Portal ritual at once, with the hope that they will be able to utilize it before anyone comes from Azfal's estate looking for them).

08:30 – Gyllithed heads downstairs to order breakfast for their room, to double check when they need to be out, and to see what's going on. With concern he notices that there are an increased number of Afzal Gunners in the inn; Azfal's personal guard

11:30 – A very tired and stressed ormid is nearing the end of his study when a member of the bar staff knocks on the door, and in a nervous voice begins to insist that the group come down.

- The group fob him off...

12:15 – Afzal Gunners begin to bang on door – polite at first but growing increasingly forceful with their insistence that the group “visit” Azfal at once. Having mastered the Ritual, Ormid (with Gyllithed's help to hold the wild magics he will unleash) begins to work the spell, all the while having to ignore the increasing disturbance from the doorway

- Those not involved in the ritual stand by the door, holding it closed, and using threats, intimidation and diplomacy to prevent the guards from breaking their way in (Skill Challenge – the group are successful)

12:25 - ...Ormid to get the Linked Portal ritual completed, whisking the group away to Lorehaven just as the guards force the doors.

On arriving at the Darryd Keep Rune Circle the group nearly get their heads blown off by over anxious guards watching the portal).

After some hasty explanations (and some open mouthed amazement by the guards who assumed that the party had died in the skyship crash), the group get an audience with Willem

12:45 – Group meet with Willem

Willem is stressed, and it seems a little scared.

He firstly fills the group in about a few things

It seems that a rescue team was dispatched shortly after their sky ship failed to reach Lorehaven. It uncovered no survivors, but did witness a skeletal Dracani, dripping with unnatural acids, scouring the site as if checking it out (everyone gulps – Tyranzalphanasus was a Black Dracani, and the ship was brought low by a Kydraxi of the Venom Soul Clan – a clan allied with the Dracani and its worshippers)

As for the whole Shakem murder thing, it seems that despite their initial insistence on the groups capture and trial, they suddenly withdrew from the keep on some mysterious orders.

The group state that they need to get to Lorehaven, and Willem agrees to help (he will smuggle them on board the next supply ship heading to the city, which leaves later that day).

Willem then reveals that there are problems at Darryd Keep. By now and extensive network of tunnels, chambers and portals, filled with various dangers as well as ancient relics have been uncovered in the black depths beneath the keep. However, the deepest tunnels have been having a strange effect on those entering them, driving them mad. Even more vexing, they seem to be changing each time people enter them, and recently, a large group of individuals entering them have vanished completely, along with the tunnels they were sent to examine.

These tales of a shifting dungeon seem to spark the collective brains of the group, and they relate to Willem tales of Castle Armun; a dread and apparently sentient dungeon that is rumoured to be anything from a demiplane, a truly sentient creature that lures adventurers to their doom, or the cruel trick of a vicious godling.

Willem turns pale, and states he will have to consider what to do very seriously...

5/12/49 – (In Lorehaven – Heavy Blizzards, bitterly cold, very deep snow on ground)

02:00 – Group are smuggled on board the supply ship in a supply crate, and finally head back to Lorehaven.

15:30 – After a very uncomfortable trip, the group return to Lorehaven.
- Their first action is to head through the roaring Blizzards to the Bardic College, where they hope to grab someone associated with the Numinaris Project, in order to get back on board “The Wanderer”.

18:00 – Group arrive at the Bardic College. Few if any guards are about, and they do not stop the group (probably because everyone is wrapped up in heavy furs, and visibility beyond a couple of feet is zero).

18:15 – Arrive at offices where the Numinaris Project planners are based.

Group meet with Ozmir, one of the planners for the project.

Ozmir is amazed to see the group, and with questioning informs them that here, as in Darryd Keep, the Shakem soldiers and officials withdrew after receiving instructions from their base.

Ozmir is a bit perturbed at the groups arrival, but agrees to help them return to the Wanderer, as it seems there is trouble aboard (he stresses that for now, their arrival here and the aid he and his allies are giving them must be kept quiet).

It seems that two days after the Wanderer passed into the Segmentum Mortalis, all communication with them was lost. A team were sent through to check everything was okay and never returned, and it was noted that opening the portal to the ship board rune circle was particularly difficult, as if some kind of force were working against the caster.

In light of this Ozmir is happy to help the group, as long as they sort out the problem on board the spelljamming ship.

The group agree, eager to be away from this world for a bit, and to get back to their original mission. An apporter is sent for, and the group rest a while in the Projects office.

18:50 – A mage of the Apporters Guild arrives and is paid a hefty sum to ensure his silence on who he is sending.

19:00 – After a struggle with energies that seem intent on preventing the portal to the Wanderer from being forged, the mage manages to briefly open a gateway, and the group, battle ready, leap through...


19:00 – The group arrive in the spelljammers belly, and are struck by the strong spicy aroma and heat of the place. However, the door to the chamber in which the rune circle stands bursts open, revealing a massive black-skinned Gorgoth wielding a double axe, and a heavily armed and armoured Dundorin of strange complexion.

both creatures bear a small, spiky growth in their foreheads, and have unfocused, milky eyes.

Despite being clearly under some kind of external control, they move to attack and prove to be potent adversaries!

A short battle breaks out, with the Gorgoth proving incredibly tough to take down, repeatedly seeming to draw strength from somewhere which allows it to ignore the truly brutal wounds it suffers at the blades and powers of the group.

As the group finish off the monsters, movement from a flight of stairs heading to the crew quarters signals the arrival of more souls...perhaps the crew?

So, a bit of a roleplay heavy session this one, which was a nice change after the combat heavy last few weeks. This entire game was run "off the cuff", with me having to come up with everything on the fly. luckily, I had the basic "what's been going on" planned, which made the role playing and stuff a lot easier.

Anyway, no game for two weeks now, so you will have to wait to find out what has happened to the crew of the Wanderer.