Welcome Back to the Labyrinth

"We have been away far too long, my friends," Ashoka declared, his face lit by the eldritch green glow of his staff. "But we have finally returned to the labyrinth whence our adventures first began."

"Just imagine the treasures that lie within," said Yun Tai, flexing his mighty muscles. "Wealth enough to live in luxury the rest of our days."

"And arcane artifacts of great power," added Ashoka his words dripping with avarice. "All ours for the taking!"

"Umm...guys?" Nysa interrupted. "Do you hear something dripping?"

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Surviving the Apocalypse

I'm actually kind of surprised to have done this well; I was sure that living in a core neighborhood of a large city would really hurt me. Gamquistu - I could survive for 372 days in the Zombie Apocalypse! How long could you?

Gamquistu - Games, Quizzes and Stuff.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Session 11: Where Should We Hide the Bodies?

Increasingly alarmed by the expanding area of necrotic flesh, growing outwards from his Huecuva wound, and the sickening stench of decay that arose from it, Balinor hastened to a temple of Mithras in search of aid.  He had heard sorcerers speak of an incantation known as Suleiman's Sovereign of Purity, which was said to remove the taint of corruption from food and drink and he hoped that it might prove effective in removing the taint that was growing within his body.  Balinor was taken before the high priest of Mithras who elected to demonstrate the power of the One True God in hopes of swaying him from the worship of false gods.  The priest laid Balinor upon an altar and prepared the tools needed to work his sorcery.  The ritual was completed and the power of Mithras had stopped the spread of corruption, but the tainted necrotic flesh would need to be removed lest infection spread.  The priest cut out the dead flesh with a sacrificial dagger, then bathed the wound with spiced wine vinegar before placing a handful of maggots in the wound and binding it with linen.

Once Balinor was feeling stronger the group set out once again for the necropolis to plumb the depths of the catcombs beneath.  They continued their exploration by searching a room full of burial alcoves, which had proved extremely lucrative in the past.  Unfortunately these ones were empty except for a grey ooze that was concealed within one.  The disturbed ooze lashed out at Ebin with a pseudopod then slithered out of the alcove to consume him.  The ooze was quickly destroyed, but Ebin's brand new plate mail was reduced to a melted ruin and was quickly discarded before the acidic ectoplasm penetrated the armour's underpadding to reach the flesh beneath.

Unwilling to remain in the catacombs unprotected, Ebin convinced the party to return to Catapesh so that he could buy new armour.  However as the group emerged from the crypt they found half a dozen city guardsmen waiting for them, led by Captain Jerhyn Dragomere.  The slighted nobleman smiled at thought of avenging himself upon Ebin, and announced that, in the name of the Overlord, they were under arrest for tomb-robbing.

Ebin responded by hurling two throwing axes in succession at his nemesis, wounding him, while one of the hireling crossbowmen fired a bolt at a guardsman, killing him instantly.  Dragomere ordered his men to retreat, and they fled back towards Catapesh.  Realizing that they had now added resisting arrest, murder, and assault upon a noble to the charge of tomb-robbing, the party realized that they could not let the guardsmen reach the city and the chase was on.  Despite the head start that the guardsmen had, Ebin, Tohm, and Chale were unarmoured and eventually caught them near the outskirts of the necropolis.  Three of the guardsmen turned to engage the pursuers while Dragomere and one other continued on towards the city to get reinforcements.  Tohm and Chale continued their pursuit, while Ebin stayed to fight the three guardsmen himself.

Tohm and Chale quickly caught their quarry, but Captain Dragomere cut down Chale the thief, killing him, while brother Tohm died upon the spear of the guardsman.  Meanwhile, Ebin had killed the three guardsmen he was fighting and arrived just in time to slay the now badly wounded Dragomere before he could get away.  Balinor and the crossbowmen finally caught up and joined Ebin and the lone remaining guardsmen.  Realizing that if brought to justice, the entire remaining party faced the death penalty, they killed the last guardsman to eliminate the last witness.  The question now was how to dispose of the bodies and after a lengthy debate it was decided that they should drag them behind a nearby crypt and leave them unlooted.

As Ebin was now badly wounded, Balinor, the hirelings, and he made their way into the city to rest, heal and recruit.  There they met a sorcerer, and his bodyguard, who wished to explore the ancient Atlantean ruins in the necropolis.  They joined the party and set out to resume the exploration of the catacombs.

Once back in the dungeon, the party set to knocking down another bricked up entrance.  The noise from the hammering drew all sorts of attention, however: first a band of mutated mongrelmen, then a pair of ravenous dead, and finally a trio Huecuva, one of which managed to inflict one of their dreaded tainted wounds upon Ebin.  When the party finally broke through the wall they found a completely empty chamber.

The session ended with the party having looted not a single coin, while losing an expensive suit of plate mail and two party members, one of whom, Tohm, had been the last original character to have survived since the beginning of the campaign.  Ebin triumphed over his adversary, Jerhyn Dragomere, but at very great cost.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Session 10: No Honour Among Thieves

Worn out and slightly hung-over from a lengthy carouse in Catapesh, the party was nonetheless eager to return to the catacombs beneath the necropolis to wrest even greater treasures from the cold, grasping hands of the dead.  They chose to explore the southwest quadrant of the dungeon, beginning with a trio of crypts just south of the dungeon's main entry chamber.

The crypts contained giant rats and skeletons that needed to be put down before looting the grave goods, which included a mysterious runic tablet.  From there they had begun to head south down a corridor when Balinor discovered a spike-filled pit trap with his ten-foot pole.  The trap extended from wall to wall with no ledge to safely walk around, and none of the characters wished to try jumping across it, so the party elected, instead, to abandon this part of the dungeon for now and explore some rooms they had previously bypassed, including a bricked-up doorway.

Soon, the preternatural silence of the catacombs was disturbed by the sound of sledgehammer on stone as the party attempted to smash down the bricked-up wall and discover what lay beyond.  Fearing that the noise would attract attention, the party posted their crossbowmen as lookouts while the characters were preoccupied with hammering.  Sure enough, the sentries reported flickering torchlight approaching and soon after a band of tomb robbers showed up, drawn by the sound of the hammering.  An uneasy standoff resulted as each side contemplated whether it would be easier to fight their rivals for pre-looted grave goods rather than having to confront the undead for them.  The standoff was broken when the party thief told the newcomers that there was an unexplored section of dungeon to the southwest that they were free to investigate.  He neglected, however, to mention the pit trap in the corridor.  The party was very pleased with themselves as they imagined the rival band impaled on the spikes that lined the hidden pit.  When the bricked up entrance was finally broken through, the party found a quartet of Shadows within.

From there, the party decided to explore to the east, and encountered a trio of Huecuva, one of which struck a telling blow upon Balinor, leaving a wound of blackened flesh.  No sooner had the Huecuva been put down than four skeletons with glowing sapphires on their foreheads staggered down the corridor toward them.  It became quickly apparent that these were no ordinary skeletons, for shortly after slaying one, it would rise again, whole, to fight once more.  Finally, when one character was able to smash a sapphire, its glow faded and the skeleton did not rise again.  Though they now knew the secret of how to defeat these sapphire skeletons, the party chose not to employ it, hoping, instead, to put all three remaining skeletons down, then smash their gems before they could rise again.  This proved to be a futile tactic as they were not able to put all the skeletons down before the fallen ones rose.  Finally, after a long battle that the party was slowly losing through attrition, they finally decided to aim their blows at the gems, instead, which ultimately proved successful.

Exhausted and bloodied, the party retired from the catacombs to the safety of Catapesh to rest and recuperate.  While sniffing out rumours in the city, Brother Tohm, the monk, heard tell of a band of tomb raiders who had just come out of the necropolis with a trove of magical treasure, though they had lost one of their group to a pit trap.  Incensed that this party of adventurers had the temerity to not only survive the pit trap, but to profit from their explorations, the PCs are now plotting to track down the rival band and steal their loot.

Meanwhile, Balinor discovered, to his alarm, that the patch of necrotic flesh surrounding the Huecuva wound  was growing larger...

Session 9: A Burial Niche Bonanza

The inevitable consequence of putting off writing session reports for so long is that the details start to become hazy, and try as I might, I can't recall which rooms were explored in which session, but thanks to my Dungeon Master's Adventure Log, I do know what monsters were fought and how much treasure was recovered.  So, this report is going to be very short, which is actually a blessing, since I have two sessions to catch up on before this evening's session.

During this foray into the Barrowmaze, the party was short-handed due to the absence of several players.  Nonetheless, it was the sort of expedition that every adventurer dreams of: very few monsters and a great deal of treasure!  Of all the creatures encountered, swarms of giant carnivorous flies proved to be the most persistent and annoying.  And, aside from a battle with a giant rattlesnake, the only other fight was with six skeletal undead in tattered robes that crawled out from the burial niches in which they were interred.  Ironically, though these Huecuva posed one of the deadliest threats they were quickly dispatched with little harm to the party, thanks to a long succession of lucky saving throws.  Although the party was short a couple of characters, their mercenary crossbowmen acquitted themselves well, providing some deadly accurate ranged attacks proving, once again, the value of hirelings.

The party recovered a veritable fortune in gems from the burial niches - enough for every player to gain a new level, and to celebrate with a drunken debauch in Catapesh.  During the course of the revelry, the warrior, Ebin, came to blows with an off-duty guardsman over a tavern wench.  The angry and humiliated guardsman stalked off, vowing revenge against the upstart outlander, and it was only after he left that a nervous bar keep told Ebin that his adversary was Watch Captain Jerhyn Dragomere.  Scions of noble houses make for bad enemies, and this one is sure to make trouble for Ebin in the future.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A History of Dice

I just wanted pass a long a fascinating post on the history of dice, by Brian Wood on his blog, Awesome Dice. If you aren't already familiar with it, Awesome Dice is, as the name suggests, a blog devoted to all things dice.  Brian also has an online store that sells dice, dice jewelry, and dice bags including a plush Cthulhu bag that I have my eye on.  If you haven't done so it is worth checking out.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Posting Sitrep

I realize that my posting frequency has been pretty sparse lately, but I have a good excuse for a change, beyond laziness and apathy.  For the past several weeks I have been devoting all of my free time to working on Covert Ops, the old school espionage role playing game that I announced last year.  This hasn't left me a lot of time for blogging, and my head is so immersed in the clandestine world of the secret agent that it's hard to shift gears into fantasy.  Consequently I've fallen several sessions behind on my campaign session reports.  I apologize to everyone who has been missing them, and I will try to get one up in the next few days - just in time to have another session and fall behind again.

I am really thankful to have Barrowmaze, though.  It has been a real time-saver to be able to run such a great adventure right 'out of the box,' so to speak, which has allowed me to concentrate on Covert Ops instead of spending all of my time trying to stay ahead of the players.

Anyhow, things will likely be quieter than usual around the Flaming Faggot for the next little while, but I will be making frequent development posts on the Hopeful Monster blog, so if you're interested in following the development of the game or reading my musings on the spy genre, head on over there and check them out.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Goldgrim the Dwarf

Sometime last year members of Bugman's Brewhouse, a forum community of fellow Warhammer dwarf players decided to pool their resources and commission a commemorative dwarf miniature for the community.  Concept art was drawn, a sculptor, John Pickford, was contracted and around two hundred miniatures were cast for those members who were part of the project.  Mine arrived in the mail the other day and I was very pleased to find that the finished product exceeded my expectations.  The concept art and pictures of the green really didn't do this guy justice.

The miniature was intended as a dwarf king, but since I already have a king for my army, I decided to make him my army battle standard bearer.  Such a fine and unique miniature deserves a name, and I've decided to call him Goldgrim Auricson in recognition of his impressive gilded armour.  Now that I have him painted I wanted to post a few pictures and show him off.

I'm sure that most Canadians will recognize the scene painted on the banner as the view of The Valley of the the Ten Peaks from Moraine Lake in Banff National Park in Alberta.

The photographs really don't do him justice, though, and fail to adequately convey the amount of detail in the sculpt.  This is, by far, the nicest dwarf in my collection and I can't wait for him to take his place in the line of battle and march forth to cleave my enemies and settle my grudges.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Traveller Nostalgia

After reading James Maliszewski's post on Grognardia this morning about Traveller Book 4: Mercenary, I've had Traveller on my mind all day. While I never got to play Traveller as often as I would have liked I did spend an awful lot of time lying on my bed listening to Electric Light Orchestra on my 8-track player and reading my collection of Traveller books. It's funny how music can become so closely linked with certain times and events in our lives. To this day, I can't listen to a track from ELO's Time album without looking around for a Traveller book.

Although I didn't play a lot of Traveller, I did play in a campaign run by my best friend that remains one of my favourite role playing experiences to this day.  All the other players had uber-characters generated using the rules from Mercenary and were fully kitted-out with battle-dress and plasma rifles.  They were bad-ass.  Not me, though.  My character inspiration came less from space opera than from spaghetti western, and I was playing a far less impressive character from Book One: a Jack-of-all-Trades who owned nothing more than a leather jacket, a 9 mm slug-thrower, a boot knife, a pack of smokes, and a bad attitude.  I can't remember the character's name, which is appropriate since he was largely inspired by Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name.

Having missed the first session of the campaign, I was introduced to the action in media res and found myself swept up in a situation beyond my control; an unwilling participant in a raid on an Imperial penal colony to free some political prisoners.  Now, here's the funny thing: my character - the lame duck amid a group of highly skilled and well-equipped killing machines - was the only one to survive the mission.  In many ways, I think it was the superior prowess of the other characters that got them killed.  Where the other players charged head-long into battle with Imperial guards, I desperately tried to avoid notice.  When our party was trapped in a cell, I used my boot knife to pry the hatch off a ventilator shaft and squeeze into a crawlspace that none of the others in their battle armour could fit into.  Meanwhile, a dumb-ass with a plasma rifle tried to blast the door open, and the ricochet ended up killing half the party.  So I guess the lesson here is that it's not the size of your skill list that's important - it's how you use it that counts.  Smart and careful play always trumps an awesome character sheet, which is the lesson that old-school play has driven home for so many of us.  So even though the characters from Books 4 & 5: Mercenary and High Guard were over-powered compared to those from the original books it didn't seem to make much difference in their effectiveness, and I always stuck with my Jack-of-all-Trades, leaving the retired fleet admirals and such to the other guys.  And he remains one of the best characters I've ever played.

Now, let's set our time machines back to 1981 courtesy of Youtube.  Where are those Traveller books?