Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Actual Play Report from the Fringes of Wermspittle (Session Three; Happy Thanksgiving!)

Not everything wants to eat you...and it is always good to have friends, especially in weird places...

J's Notes from our Thanksgiving weekend game.

  1. Camping in field outside Gadra's tomb. N hears horns and dogs barking on other side of river, calls on the Hobyah (using their Mark on her hand) and asks them to check it out. We break camp and head toward the yellow brick road away from the sounds. I almost step in a dodo nest. Take 3 intact dodo eggs. They're as big as ostrich eggs!
  2. The new-new-kid S (N's guest) comes running toward us, hands bound, chased by three Pruztian hunters and dogs. We cut her free from her bonds. All of us run up hill to hide. One hunter leaves with his dog, we guess for reinforcements.
  3. We spot three 9-foot albino penguins in the Red Weeds on other side of hill. N asks her Hobyah allies to scout so we can avoid them. Hobyah discover penguin-diving -- literally jumping into the gaping maws of the huge birds, sliding down into their stomachs and them disappearing only to come back and do it again, and again, and again. The Hobyah are immensely pleased and soon there are close to a hundred of them diving into the highly distressed giant albino penguin's mouths. Hunters hear the noise, approach the spot and are quite befuddled. Penguins are traumatized. The hunters leave.
  4. We cross river away from hunters. Shallow water, but everyone falls. No injuries. Supplies soaked, some lost. Feels like we're being watched. There are Basajun, Woses, Jub-Jub Birds and Slithy Toves in the area, so it might only be something like that--some inoffensive being or animal not ouot to eat us all...besides there are three huge penguins lying exhausted and weakened behind us for any predators to go dine on at their leisure.
  5. Farmstead downstream. Lots of bomb craters. One UXB, Franzikaner make. We decide to check out the farmstead. Avoid Slow Sand and Black Thorns getting there. Fields of mega cabbage and radishes. Hobyah use cabbages as trampolines. S makes comment about eating farmers. Morlock blood? (Dice were rolled, S does indeed appear to have some slight Morlock lineage in her background, but it is not entirely definite--she needs to be tested).
  6. Farmstead has house, barn, mil; all bomb damagde and / or overgrown. No signs of recent habitation.
  7. Check out house. 3 levels. Lower 2 looted or filthy from blown leaves, rain and elements. Seed company calendar on wall. Attic looks fairly intact. Q (The Thief-to-be) climbs up. He discovers a well-built Shooting Platform, where the farm families would fight-off the Biters and such over the long. dark winters. Lots of homemade weapons. He tosses down what might be useful, including family's Farmers and Mechanics Manual
  8. Mill is overgrown. Sara uncovers a fox nest and takes red speckled fox egg. since when did Foxes lay eggs? Weird...
  9. Barn empty except owls and mice. Root cellar under barn. Door has Achuin lock with symbols for cleanliness, air quality, and pest control. Door is clear of debris and footprints. N consults books (currently carrying Every Good Child's Guide To Things To Bash and Burn, a gardening book, Our First Blue Book written in Etrurian, and the Farmers and Mechanics Manual) and turns off wards. Q picks lock. A (the Fighter) opens door. 12 steps down. A stays top as guard. Cellar has smoked meat, veggies, and herbs. We all take what we can. Go back up stairs. 3 Landsvattir at top. We think that they knocked A out. These things don't immediately attack us. N quickly consults her growing arsenal of books again. These creatures are protectors. They have watched over the farm for decades. Now that it is abandoned, they need to be released, or else in time they may curdle, spoil and turn into something rotten, vile and nasty. The group need to find their pact-anchor to release them since the family is gone. Leave all cellar-goods behind, so as not to offend the creatures, walk past landsvattir. They seem sad. Let us pass.
  10. We dig through rubble. N calls on her friends the Hobyah for help. Eventually we find the anchor-object, a ceramic vessel that clearly radiates a slow, deep magical aura. We give it to landsvattir. They are released from their pact and we take cellar-goods. Landsvattir withdraw back to the Tulgey Wood, what we now can see was once an orchard.
We camp at farm for the night.

One of the funnier moments came after the game session was wrapping-up, when people started to realize that there was no way that Q could carry anywhere near as much loot as he was lugging around, all rolled up in his carpet...which was definitely magical.

The Hobyahs have really taken a liking to N's character, especially now that she helped them invent 'Penguin Diving,' which will cause no end of stress and turmoil back in Wermspittle when these little creatures start spreading the word to their fellows and they begin launching themselves into the attic-pens of the Tsalalians...

J did not get into the details regarding how the group handled the Pruztian hunters and their dogs--they were hunting after whomever stole the local Castellan's new armor and short sword from the shop back in Kridlist in our first game session. Not only did the group avoid getting spotted, the Hobyahs muddled-up all the tracks and signs of their camp-site that the hunters were not able to figure much out, other than a small group had spent time there recently...and this being a notorious area filled with nasty beasts, bandits and worse...there was no guarantees that it was a small group. Then they followed the sounds to find the penguins and Hobyahs and pretty-much decided it just was not worth it. Besides they now had a story worth telling back at their base-camp. something that might earn them a few free drinks, and that beat trudging about in the thickets on a fool's errand.

It was also quite a lot of fun to watch a group really make use of things they've found in the course of the game to solve a situation that might otherwise have gotten really, really ugly. Now besides the Hobyah's, the group has three friends out in the Tulgey Woods who might remember their act of kindness someday...

Unfortunately we did not encounter the Jabberwocky, any Damned Things, nor the Bandersnatch...this time...but we'll see what happens next time!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tomb of Gadra: Actual Play Summary

Recently we were able to run a second session for our friends who had their first adventure just outside the village of Kridlist. This time we started off safe within the bounds of the camp set-up by Gnosiomandus. After a good night's sleep the party did an inventory of their loot and considered where they might want to go from there. The old man and his two companions were headed off to Wermspittle with the newly-captured tiger (the same one that the party had managed to avoid previously). Since it turned out that the tiger was in fact pregnant, Gnosiomandus was in a good mood and offered to barter with the group to help them get themselves together so they would be prepared to face whatever lie ahead of them. Q took advantage of the opportunity to unload some of the bulkier items he was lugging about and was interested in acquiring a good short sword or something along those lines. When J's character, a run-away from one of the three circus families in Wermspittle, offered Gnosiomandus the little pouch of White Powder she had recovered last time, he was in a tremendously good mood and offered everyone their personal choice of any three weapons or what-not contained within his traveling fold-box panoply (literally a tesseract-container fitted-out as an arsenal filled with all manner of weapons, devices, mechanisms and such-like).

While the group did a bit of shopping, the winged-monkey that they had found earlier took off to go scout a number of limestone formations in the vicinity that might have caves or some other sort of explore-able locations in, on or around them.

In short-order the group finished-up their various transactions, said farewell to the sleeping (and very pregnant tiger), and headed off to a likely looking location discovered by the winged-monkey, who led them to the spot, pointed it out, and left to rejoin its master Gnosiomandus who was in the process of trundling down the closer spiral of the yellow brick road on his way back to Wermspittle.

The location in question was none other than The Toxic Tomb of Gadra, an adventure that has been in dire need of some play-testing for a good long while now. Oh, to be sure, there were several other possible locations available, but this was the one the group settled upon, so it is where they went. The only rail-roading around here is underground as part of the Unter-rail...and they have not yet found a way down to that yet... are J's notes:

Here are my raw notes for Gadra. They're numbered to make them a little easier to follow.

1. Gnosiomandus's flying monkey scoped the area for us and pointed us to the outcropping where we found the tomb.
2. On the way there we went through some ferns and avoided a poppy field.
3. We found a cave opening that had been sealed with glazed yellow bricks. Most had been removed and stacked to the side.
4. There was an inscription at the entrance that said Gadra and the words for "toxic" in Pruztian, Franzikaner, and Achuin. They glowed purple.
5. There was a pit with spikes that had already been released. There was a dead child's body.
6. There was a chamber with a vent shaft to one side.
7. The corridor went down and up. We used R's pitchfork to trigger another pit trap and used rope to cross it.
8. New chamber. Walls have been scraped clean. Floor did have mosaic tiles. Three spiral mounds. One mound chipped at the top. Chipped area has had something removed.
9. R (the Archer) found a gold and silver pendant with a teardrop pearl. Pearl has a purple sheen. Chain is unclasped. She keeps it.
10. We opened a mound. It's a Minken barrow. Bottom falls out, no one hurt. We pull the casket out. Dart trap sprung. Each person takes 1hp damage. Open the casket. Spider-hand symbol on inside of lid. N thinks it's moving. We move the body. Casket has a false bottom. We count 14 hand spider eggs in it. 7 are crushed in extraction. R has other seven eggs.
11. We hear second party come in. We wait to ambush them. They get as far as the gas trap. They trigger it. Two looters dead, the kid leading them leaves quickly (Scared). Gas sinks, is heavier than air, leaks through cracks in lower walls, revealing a chamber below.
12. Open third mound. Uncover then open an ornate casket. Smash another nasty hand spider. Take six more eggs.
13. Come to a spinnable door. Room behind it is weird, "feels bad." Door shuts once we're in. Open chamber, painted white, metallic under dust. Cinnabar carvings, mercury dripping from ceiling. We break through a wall section. Air quality in here is really bad. Something in the walls hurts our eyes when we look at it, especially N (the spell-caster).
14. Chamber with pool of mercury and a man-sized sarcophagus. Q figures out how to drain pool and raise sarcophagus. R's pearl necklace is pulled toward the sarcophagus. We decide not to open it and it's too heavy to take with us but we have info to sell.
15. Tomb is spirally. Use rubble in final chamber to build ramp to entry corridor so we don't have to go back through everything, then re-seal hole in corridor wall and leave.

As you can see, this place included some nasty traps, some of which were already set-off by previous explorers...and one of which was set off by a trio of opportunists who followed the party into this place.

The level of mercury fumes in this place varies a bit, but no one can last for very long before showing signs of mercury poisoning. Luckily for the group, they managed to open some ventilation and moved past the worst of the traps--even avoiding a couple of deathtrap situations by using good, common sense and a bit of intuition and strategy. For first-timers and newbies, this group played more old school than I've seen in ages and it was truly grand. They managed to get a lot of loose low-end loot here and there, which made the Thief-in-training very happy, but they also managed to acquire some very valuable information regarding this tomb that they can now sell to some interested party, including a rough map outlining the known hazards, identified traps, and the spots best left alone by the next group...unless they come prepared with gas-masks and hazard-suits.

Now I am at work revising the adventure a bit to take advantage of the group's feed-back to make things run a little more smoothly in places, and to incorporate some of the changes they've made into the final version of the manuscript.

Thank you to all the members of our little adventuring crew. I hope you all had as much fun as I did exploring Gadra's Tomb!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Dekapus [Wermspittle]

“I believe in everything until it's disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now?”
John Lennon

No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120' [40'] (Levitation)
Armor Class: Head/Torso 5 (as Chain Mail), Limbs 7 (As Studded Leather)
Hit Dice: 3+1 [Advance as Thieves, Spell-casters, and sometimes Fighters.]
Attacks: 2 (Improves by HD/Level)
Damage: 1d4 (+2 to hit), 1d4 (+2 to hit), or by Spell
Save: F4
Morale: 7 [12 if combating Mucoids]

Special: Affected by all spells that target 'Humans.' Dekapus can opt to convert one of their Attack rolls to a Dodge (Roll as 'To Hit,' and if successful they avoid one incoming attack. They receive double the normal bonus for using bucklers/small shields, but cannot use normal or larger shields. They can only wield Light weapons until achieving 4 or more HD/Levels at which point they can use Medium weapons. It is very rare that a Dekapus would ever wield a Heavy weapon and they would likely require serious augmentation to do so effectively. Dekapus receive double the normal DEX Bonus to all their Thief skills. All Dekapus can cast BlurHypnotic Pattern, Obscuring Mist, and Hypnotism once per day and Misdirection up to three times per day.

[Percent Liar: 72%]

The Dekapus is a pseudo-octopoid...these dishonest creatures are actually mammalian, possess ten limbs and claim to be descended from humans. Fierce enemies of the Mucoids and others, the Dekapus are notorious Oneiromancers, Mountebanks, and Thieves skilled in the arts of misdirection and obfuscation alike. Their appendages terminate in a pair of soft-seeming boneless fingerettes that can split into multiple smaller tendrils as needed, granting them a level of close-up finesse much envied by surgeons. For some reason, some claim it is squeamishness, the Dekapusians rarely, if ever enter into any sort of medical profession.

Actors, Performers, Jugglers, Troubadours, Poets (both Accursed and otherwise), Pantomimers, Puppeteers, Artisans, Repairers of Reputations, Insinuationists, Saboteurs, Spies, Observers, Dreamers (Lucid, Deep and otherwise), Reporters...Dekapus have taken on a great many roles throughout Wermspittle, primarily in order to carry on their ages-old conflict with the Mucoids. The mutual antipathy between these two peoples is legendary, fierce and abiding, having persisted across centuries with no clear-cut resolution in sight.

Most commonly Dekapus are Thieves of every sort, but an appreciable number of them become Spell-casters such as Illusionists (including Projectionists), Oneiromancers and Druids with a penchant for the Tulgey Woods, Purple Forest, the White Orchard  and other such Weird Woods.

The few Dekapus that take up the path of Rangers specialize in hunting down and slaughtering Mucoids and have developed a number of peculiar and unique weapons and harmful devices exclusively designed to kill, maim, or incapacitate Mucoids. Their unwavering hatred of the Mucoids is so severe that Dekapus Rangers will also sometimes deign to hunt down Rooftopi, Octoscholars and any other Cephalopodians who resemble Mucoids in even the least bit.

Other Dekapus go to great lengths to ingratiate themselves with all other forms of humanity, no matter how distorted, Infected, teratogenically Afflicted, or aberrantly inclined...just as long as they have no connection to their ancestral enemies...

"My dreams are of water. And my nightmares..."
Siouxsie Sioux

Friday, November 10, 2017

Candlewerm [Wermspittle]

One of the first creatures one learns to Summon, Call or Bind at the Academy is a Candlewerm. The little beasts make excellent 'first servitors' for those students who've never yet had a pet or gained a Familiar. Besides carrying around candles or torches, these things can be taught simple the time a student trained a Candlewerm to wield a wand...with rather mixed results.

No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 30' (10') [Climb Walls]
Armor Class: 8 [as Leather]
Hit Dice: 1 hit point
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1 point
Save: MU1
Morale: 6 [11 if made a Servitor]

Special: Blind (Immune to visual illusions, Glamers, Figments), Able to climb vertical surfaces, Vague Empathy allows them to mostly understand a few verbal commands.

Candlewerms are among the most common, minor forms of Servitors known in Wermspittle. The little things are not suited to service as Familiar, but they are intensely loyal and surprisingly clever--if one takes the time to train them to do more than just lug around a lit candle or carry a torch in their specialized mouth-parts.

Certain obscure treatises claim that it is possible to enhance minor servitors like the Candlewerms, but few spell-casters ever make that much effort as it is considered a waste of time.

A spell-caster may choose to invest as much as 10% but no less than 1% of their recently earned XP to enhance their Candlewerm, allowing the creature to gain additional hit dice as if advancing as a magic-user at 10% of the normal XP cost and never gaining the ability to cast spells...unless further measures are taken to elevate the simple wermic-brain of the creature...but this sort of thing is strenuously discouraged on campus...

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Edge Creeper [Wermspittle]

“Intelligence is the ability of a living creature to perform pointless or unnatural acts."

Arkady Strugatsky​

Edge Creeper
No. Enc.: 1d4
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 7 (as Studded Leather)
Hit Dice: 2 [Advance as Magic-User/Thief Dual-Class]
Attacks: 1
Damage: (by Spell)
Save: MU2
Morale: 8

Special: See in all directions, Immune to Sleep, Use Detect Invisible at will, Move Silently gains bonus of +10%, Find Traps gains +20% bonus however they cannot remove traps, cannot be back-stabbed, ignore all damage rolls of 1 or 2.

Silent, patient, playful...these beings are as much animal as vegetable and yet not quite either. Their tall, central body mass is very flexible and they easily contort themselves to get into tight spaces. Their sturdy four legs allow them to clamber about through rubble, debris, or uneven terrain with the seemingly effortless grace of a deer. Eyes of several types and sizes form apparently at will or at random all over their main body, allowing the Edge Creepers to see in nearly every direction. They have displayed a deep and abiding interest in discovering and uncovering all manner of concealed doors, secret passages, lingering booby-traps, unexploded bombs, mines, and so on. Sometimes they leave markers or Warning Signs, but other times they seem satisfied with merely leaving a formerly hidden thing exposed. So far the Wall Guard have not been able to enlist their help along the Inner Ramparts or the Outer Precincts.

Little more is known about them, aside from the few encountered so far have all been spell-casters with an intense interest in the Black Zones and the Glow Field. They seem to avoid the White Orchard for some reason, but may have some sort of affinity for or connection to the Cold Roads. It is rumored that the Edge Creepers first appeared in Wermspittle by way of the Cold Roads, though there are some who are convinced that they first entered by way of the Glow Field or the White far no one knows, so there is a potentially lucrative opportunity for someone to go forth and discover the answers so many Experts and Academics are arguing about...

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.
Carl Jung

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Yzel [Wermspittle+]

"Retaliation is related to nature and instinct, not to law. Law, by definition, cannot obey the same rules as nature."

No. Enc.: 1d4 (1d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120' [Levitation]
Armor Class: 3 (as Plate Mail)
Hit Dice: 3+ [Advance as Fighters, 1 in 100 may be a Ranger]
Attacks: 1
Damage: As Weapon
Save: F3+
Morale: 12

Special: Unaffected by Fear, Confusion, Illusions, Charm, or other mind-influencing powers/spells. All thief abilities are reduced by -4 penalty within 30' radius. Unwavering Morale (Never retreat, never surrender...unless ordered). When engaged in conflict become Mindless/Completely Instinctive with +2 on all Initiative rolls.

Gifted calligraphists of high order, the Yzel can only be addressed effectively in their own unique written language which in some ways resembles something alive unto itself. Any spell-caster seeking to learn this language must undertake a very demanding magical retreat lasting no less than one year in order to successfully assimilate and integrate a beginner's level appreciation of the complex whorls, squiggles and intricate diacritical marks involved in this uncanny textual tradition. Those who invest the time find themselves able to converse, after a fashion, with the Yzel and engage their services as guardians or soldiers.

Voiceless, faceless, telepathically muted, the Yzel are deeply intelligent plants from Somewhere
Else who are renowned as being highly civilized beings, despite being almost totally opaque to all forms of magical scrutiny, psychic snoopery or technological intrusion.

The Yzel are never found unarmored save when they first spawn, but so far no one has discovered where they go to get their distinctive body-casques made from multiple alloys of bronze and beryllium. The armor is so cunningly wrought that it cannot be removed from the creature and upon their death the armor crumbles away into an ultra-fine dust, as does the Yzel's body. They are incapable of being resurrected, raised or converted into undead.

When an Yzel enters into conflict they surrender to their instincts in a manner that renders them mindless, but not in the same way that a Berserker enters their rage. The Yzel in battle is a terrifying, implacable opponent that cannot be read, second-guessed or misled--they become focused completely on just the battle at hand...and that could be seen as a flaw of sorts, possibly leading to their downfall against an opponent willing to sacrifice lesser fighters to occupy the Yzel, allowing one to by-pass them altogether.

"To win any battle, you must fight as if you are already dead."

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

LeDaan [Wermspittle]

“We can't have any weak or silly. Life is real again, and the useless and cumbersome and mischievous have to die. They ought to die. They ought to be willing to die. It's a sort of disloyalty, after all, to live and taint the race.”
The War of the Worlds
H.G. Wells

No. Enc.: 3d6 (6d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 6 (as Scale-Mail)
Hit Dice: 1+ {May advance as any Class]
Attacks: 1 (Weapon or Spell, barehanded does 1d4)
Damage: As Weapon, spell or item (Wand/Rod)
Save: F4 [Improves with Advancement]
Morale: 9 [-4 penalty if confronted by Infernal Devices or Implacable Machines]

Special: Immune to most common forms of poison or venom; Gas Masks protect against airborn toxins such as pollen, spores, gas, etc.; wear scale/lamellar armor incorporating under-layers of Gray Flannel, Whitesuit Fabric, or similar textiles that offer them protection from extreme temperatures and resistance to acids; Keenly interested in all Pre-War artifacts; Dedicated enemies of all Mucoids (+4 on Reaction Rolls) and/or members of the Purple Horde or anyone showing clear signs of being compromised/serving the Purple Clouds in any way, shape or form (+6 on Reaction Rolls).

Proud, haughty, arrogant...and resplendently dressed in ornate masks and vibrantly-dyed fabrics, the LeDaan are a fiercely independent people who claim descent from Eloi and Morlock lineages alike, as well as many other forms of humanity with the exception of the Mucoids whom they despise as utterly contemptible traitors. The one other form of humanity they hate above even the deformed and grotesque starborn Mucoids are those who serve the Purple Clouds and march beneath the Banners of the Purple Hordes who are led by the so-called Desert Fathers.

The LeDaan are clever people, skilled in the ways of survival within some of the most terrible Post-War wastelands; they consider the Wilderness their best defense and only venture into ruined cities or approach established enclaves or Redoubts in small groups...always under watch by multiple scouts and trackers. It is not that they are collectively paranoid, so much as the LeDaan cultures that have arisen from the ashes and wreckage of prior epochs retain a keen sense of the danger of complicity and compromise, how collaborators were far more destructive to the old civilizations than even the bombs, the death rays or the Black Smoke ever could have been.

No one recalls ever seeing a LeDaan without their ornate Gas Masks securely fastened-down. Perhaps this is to forever hide their secret shame, the vivid oily-purple irises of their eyes...a lingering trace of their ancestor's former service to the Purple Clouds...

“For a time I believed that mankind had been swept out of existence, and that I stood there alone, the last man left alive.”

The War of the Worlds
H.G. Wells