4/8/14

Game Night in Ephemera #4: Bringing Sleep & Charm to a Skeleton Fight

So it was session #4 in Chris's (The Clash of Spear on Shield) Ephemera setting on Monday night. We had three player characters, all first level magic-users armed with charm or sleep. We also had a few henchmen plus a couple of charmed "friends" that we had picked up along the way. Here is Darius the Handsome's version of the Monday night's adventures:

Having rescued the lost Ryan and saved the village of Alden from the scourge of a small but hungry minotaur, we decided to head north to Tarn. We had been told by Lana, the huntress of Alden that we might find more information about a prophecy, mysterious map and an even more mysterious magical gem that had come our way.

So off we went to Tarn, a slightly larger small village. The travel was uneventful until we were within a day's walk. At dawn, while the mists were still rising from the plains, we spied a young man running towards us at full tilt. Actually, we heard him first, his feet pounding on the ground and his breath coming in ragged desperate gasps.

He was running on a tangent to us and would have passed us by. We couldn't see anything behind him...nothing was chasing him, at least that we could see. We stopped him but he was in full panic mode, so I cast a charm his way.

We learned that the king of Tarn had fallen under the influence of dark dwarves...similar dark dwarves had played a nefarious role in the minotaur affair. Older children will being selected from the population of Tarn, escorted out of Tarn, and not seen from again.

As to intervening, there was no debate. Children being hauled away? Bad. Bad. Bad. The only question before us was "How?" How could we save these kiddoes?

Rather than enter Tarn and find ourselves outnumbered, we decided to work our way around the town and then continue north. Sam, our young charmed friend from Tarn, had informed us that the dwarves were taking the kids north from town and then returning without them. We opted to lay in wait to the north and then follow a group of dwarves as they traveled away from Tarn with their young captives.

We found a good hiding spot, north of Tarn, where we could see the dwarves crossing a river. We would start trailing them once they had traversed the ford near our hideout.

We didn't wait long. Four dwarves with a flock of children crossed the river. We were able to follow them through the tall grass of the plains without being noticed. The weather held for a few days but then the clouds betrayed us. As it began to rain, the tall grass bent under the added weight of the fallen rain.

We decided to act before we were noticed. Egbert cast a sleep spell, taking out the four dwarves. We tied them up and arranged to have Sam lead the children to a safe hiding spot in the woods to the west. I kicked one of the dwarves to awaken him and then charmed the pants off of him. Well, I charmed him but let him keep his breeches.

This dwarf, named Bob, gave us directions to a temple-like place a day's journey further north. We led him away and then dispatched the remaining three dwarves.

Bob led us to a massive stepped pyramid. It was unguarded so we entered. Bob was less useful as a guide, once we were in the pyramid as he had spent little time inside it.

We made quick work of these weird animated robes, but were deterred by a room with four skeletons. First level wizarding types tossing out sleep and charm spells pose little threat to the undead. After exploring a bit further, we found a room with cushions along the walls and a single human bone on each cushion. I noticed some small vents or pipes in the walls and found traces of sulfur and oil. Concern that this could be a trap, we hightailed it out of there.

We had to take on the skeletons. Using our henchmen and charmed friends, we were able to destroy the skeletons, fighting them piecemeal rather than all at once.

Our session ended here for the night.

4/7/14

Monday Moodsetter 50

RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?

4/1/14

Monday Night in Ephemera

Last night I played Darius the Handsome for my second session in Ephemera setting (it was the group's third session in Ephemera), run by Chris (The Clash of Spear on Shield).

Darius is neither strong nor smart, and he is downright slow of foot. He is, however, quite good looking. He can toss out a charm person with the best of them. He spent most of this session hitting on Lana, a woods-woman of vague orientation (not that there is anything wrong with that).

We did manage to deliver our rescued man, Ryan, back to his village. In the process, we discovered that Brill, the village elder, had sold out his people to a nearby minotaur runt. Thanks to a charm person spell, we got the truth out of Brill. His fellow villagers are not a forgiving lot and he was polished off after a quick up/down vote on the village green.

We stalked the minotaur and in an anti-climactic move typical of our Monday Night Gaming Group, we cast a sleep spell the minotaur and his minions. All the village archers stood down and we gathered up the booty after we dispatched the minotaur and his minions.

3/31/14

Monday Moodsetter 49

Nico Delort "The Triune Cathedral of Light"
RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?

3/30/14

Peoples, Tribes, and Gangs in the Montporte Dungeon

It wasn't necessarily my intent to run a dungeon that had factions as its central theme. However, the brave adventurers have come across a number of groups--past and present--that have made a home for themselves in the Montporte Dungeon. The following list is a compilation of what the player characters have learned so far about some of the dungeon denizens, past and present.

Groups from the Past
Mysterious Pane of Glass
Mysterious Denizens: At this point, little is known about the group except for:

  • The mysterious denizens are responsible for the oldest section of the dungeon so far discovered by the player characters--a series of rooms and obelisks that contain powerful but, so far, unavailable magic (the discovery of this area was made during the last session, Session 33, the notes for which will be posted soon).
  • The strange and unexplained pane of glass magic items found in Session 6 and Session 22.

The Elementalists (see below) had discovered the key to understanding the magic of these mysterious denizens as part of their quest of discovering the fundamental nature of the universe.

Elementalists: The core area of the Montpore Dungeon was built by a group of humans who, for lack of a better term, are referred to as the Elementalists. Pliny the Alder described the elementalists this way:
And the people who live there are human, men and women who have dedicated themselves to understanding the very fabric of the universe by study and contemplation of the four elements. They have made themselves disciples of the natural physical order, but also follow the teachings of their elders. These disciples of the elements do not seek to possess material possessions and share all that they have with each other. They believe that violence and war among humankind erupts from the desire for ownership. They are, therefore, a peaceable people. (Pliny the Alder, Lost Scroll)
In a similar fashion, the first dwarven companions of the Elementalists described them like this:
The Elemental Monastery was started by a number of devout humans, who had dedicated themselves to the study and contemplation of the nature of the universe. They focused on learning about the nature of the world around them, particularly its physical makeup. They also spent considerable amount of time and energy in contemplation and study. Unlike our folk, they do not devote themselves to the gods and goddesses. They are not religious, but they are pious and devout. They lead simple lives, sharing property in common, giving to the poor and needy, and treating everyone fairly, with much kindness and respect. (Dwarven Construction Record)
However, the player characters had learned from Allindrihl the Elf (in Session 10) that the Elementalists had suffered a series of civil wars. Ultimately, the Elementalists split into three groups: (1) A group now known as the "Breeders;" (2) A group of demon worshipers; and (3) a third unknown group.

According to Golnar the dwarf, the elementalists "went mad" as they discovered and used the secrets of the mysterious denizens. This led to their demise.

Dwarves: The Elementalists engaged a small group of dwarves to assist them in the construction of the Montporte Dungeon. The story of their early history is recorded in the Dwarven Construction Record. The player characters also discovered a dwarven document, a letter, from civil war period. The dwarves were all but wiped out by the demon worshiping faction of the Elementalists during the civil war. The dwarven goddess, Doluth, hid the last remaining dwarves (Session 22 and Session 33, the most recent session).

Gnomes: Like the dwarves, the gnomes of Montporte were caught in the crossfire of the Elementalists civil wars. The player characters have found some evidence that some of the gnomes managed to escape destruction. The most obvious evidence is Dwemmon, the gnome rescued from hobgoblin slave traders in Session 29. Dwemmon claims that he was living in a subterranean forest until he was taken prisoner by the hobgoblins.

Groups in the Present
Orcs: The player characters started their adventures in Montporte Dungeon by rescuing a group of humans from a band of orcs. The orcs were using the Montporte Dungeon as a temporary base in their ongoing conflict with local kobolds. The player characters finished off the orcs in Session 4, rescuing the human captives in the process.

Kobolds: Somewhere in the northern part of Level 1, a band of kobolds have made a home for themselves as they follow the meglomaniac dreams of their leader, Degmar. Little Larry, the player characters' kobold henchman, gives a history of the kobold band in the telling of his own story.

Ants: There is an ant colony on Level 1 of unknown size. The Dwarven Construction Record mentions an ant colony in the same location. If it is the same colony, it has existed for thousands of years.

Allindrihl and the Uyoga: Led by Allindrihl the elven mushroom farmer, the uyoga (mushroom folk) live in a colony on Level 2 of the dungeon.

"Breeders:" The Breeders are one of the three groups that resulted from the demise of the Elementalists. They breed various forms of humans for food, for slaves, and for soldiers. They are currently ruled by Elias the One and the Council of the Eternals. They are known to have a sacrificial ritual, using gnomes, to ward off the aging process and natural death, but the player characters know little of the process.

Rebels: The rebels are a small ragtag group who live on Level 3 of the Montporte Dungeon. Using guerilla tactics, the rebels have managed to survive despite the overwhelming power of the Breeders. Daria, a former Breeder novice, is the leader of the rebels. She is also a former apprentice of Allindrihl; he continues to help Daria when and where he can.

Demon Worshipers: The second of the three groups descending from the Elementalists. Little is known about them, except that they dwell deeper in the Montporte Dungeon.

Lost Elementalists: Allindrihl the elf mentioned a third group or faction that resulted from the Elementalist civil war, but he provided no other information.

3/27/14

RPG Blog Carnival (March 2014): Virtual Table Tops and Online Play

Douglas Cole (Gaming Ballistic) started off a chain of excellent blog posts on other blogs with his post on using virtual table top systems to game online. I have used three systems: Gametable, Fantasy Grounds II, and Roll20.

Gametable: Gametable is a very simple Java-based program, which will be an issue for Java haters. I think Gametable works works great for dungeon-based play, particularly sessions involving dungeon exploration. Just start with a blank graph screen and draw the rooms and corridors as the players explore. I can draw a map from scratch in Gametable faster than I can reveal a prepared map using the fog-of-war function in other VTT. Gametable is great for those who do their mapping on graph paper...no need to create an electronic map ahead of time. Just draw a map for the players as they explore. Gametable is not pretty, but its simplicity reduces glitches. Because the GM's computer is the host server, port issues can be a significant challenge.

Fantasy Grounds II: Very pretty and feature rich. The fact that the GURPS rules are built in makes it my go-to VTT if I run a GURPS campaign. The GM is the host, so it has the same port issues as Gametable but I think Fantasy Grounds is easier to set up. The high amount of data transferred back and forth can make it glitchy, plus it can interfere with Skype or Google hangout conversations.

Roll20: Just log-in, set up a web-based campaign, and then invite your gaming group. The GM does have to upload maps and such, but that is easy to do. It is not a pretty interface and it is not always obvious how to do things but the instructions are helpful. We are currently using Roll20 for the Montporte Dungeon campaign.

3/26/14

Player Post About Monday's Montporte Session (Session #33)

Tim (Gothridge Manor) had a nice post about our most recent Montporte Dungeon session. The players got caught in a vertical maze (featuring several spiral staircases) and were lost before they realized what had happened. Instead of backtracking and figuring out the lay of the land, the party decided to step onto a teleport pad they had discovered...a teleport pad with an unknown destination. When their is an unknown destination involved in a teleport device, I start with a blank player map in Roll20 and randomly scramble the directions and the orientation of the player map. So, they were confused in the maze, but now they are lost. I will reconstruct the sequence of events, using maps, in another post as it was one of the few things that went even better than I could have imagined.