Five for Friday 24: Summer Vacation

"The first day on my vacation, what I did on my summer vacation, the first day on my vacation, I woke up. Then, I went downtown to look for job. I did not find one. Then I hung out in front of the drugstore. The second day on my summer vacation, I woke up, then I went downtown to look for a job. I did not find one. Then I hung out in front of the drugstore. The third day on my summer vacation, I woke up..."--Cheech & Chong

This week I enjoyed a staycation. It has been hot and humid, plus some nice convection thunderstorms almost every afternoon, but I have enjoyed the time off nonetheless. Here is what I have been doing:
  • Gaming: We had a GURPS session on Monday night in Rob's (Bat in the Attic) Majestic Wilderlands campaign. It was an awesome session. I have also been working on maps for my Montporte Dungeon campaign.
  • Grilling: My goal has been to grill everyday (charcoal and wood...no gas). I have had to dodge thunderstorms, but so far I have grilled: Piri Piri chicken kabobs; Beef fajitas with grilled onions and peppers; Sage/thyme/juniper pork tenderloin with grilled fennel & grilled tomato salad, plus grilled pineapple for dessert; Orange sesame tofu and grilled sesame asparagus. Still to come: Pizza; Salmon; Mexican tofu and grilled pineapple salsa.
  • Gigging: I played music last Saturday and am playing out again this Friday night.
  • Reading: I finished up Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne by Pierre Riche and also read Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis. Next up is the second half of The Great Book of Amber by Roger Zelanzy, which contains books 6-10 of the Chronicles of Amber.
  • Sleep: Work has been running me ragged so it is nice to sleep. I have made it a priority and my body is thanking me for it.
What are you doing for your summer vacation?


"Their cold leathery hands..." a GURPS Session in the Majestic Wilderlands

I recently summarized three GURPS Majestic Wilderlands sessions and this current post will give Delvin's take on our most recent session. Tim (Gothridge Manor) has a excellent summary of the session and Chris (The Clash of Spear on Shield) captures some of the one-liners of the night (plus some from the previous week in Montporte Dungeon campaign. On Monday night, Rob (Bat in the Attic) was at his best as a GM and we had a nice mix of nail-biting action and immersive role-playing (the later being the hallmark of Rob's Majestic Wilderlands). The session featured a chase scene where, at Tim's suggestion, we used the Pathfinder Gamemastery Chase Cards Deck. We were able to translate them to GURPS on the fly and the cards generated a wildly unpredictable and fun hour of gaming.

We started the session where we had left off last time, in Dorn. We were ready to head out to Oxcross to warn the Baron that the Thothian mages might take action against him. I will let Delvin, my dwarf PC, take it from here.

We knew we needed to get over to Oxcross in a hurry. From Dorn, it would be an all day ride but maybe, just maybe, we could get to the Baron before the Thothian-types did any harm. We would be passing by the construction site for our inn, so we could do a quick check on that as well. Or so we thought.

When we arrived at our inn, the place was empty. Normally, there are at least a dozen humans working, milling around, and doing all the stuff that you humans are wont to do. This time, however, there was no one around. No one except a solitary zombie. Brom (Chris) and drew our weapons and cautiously rode towards the zombie. He was easy pickins for us.

In the meantime, Durge (Tim) noticed a big group of humans far off in the distance. The three of us rode out to the northeast, towards the crowd. It turned out to be our inn workers being chased by about thirty or so zombies. Not good.

Brom and Durgo stretched out a rope between them and trotted on either side of the zombies, knocking down a good number of them in the process. They then took up a position between the zombies and our inn folk. In the meantime, I started hacking away at the zombies in the rear, trying to draw their attention away from the group. I also enjoying cleaving them with my battleaxe. It is a good thing when you can mix fun with good tactical sense.

Brom told the inn workers to head north. We tried to engage the zombies enough to get them to follow us west while not getting overwhelmed by them in the process [editor's note: This is a really important consideration in GURPS]. Brom had a bit of difficulty as we were getting ourselves organized and he almost was clawed off of his pony. As for me, I was really careful to keep them away, as I did not want their cold leathery hands caressing my beautiful dwarven skin.

We finally got the zombies turned around and they gave chase as we rode off to the west. We tried not to ride too fast, as none of us excel at riding. No sense going fast, falling off, and becoming zombie snacks. We ran into one problem after another...negotiating down a steep hill, jumping over a fallen tree, and riding through a bunch of snakes. At each point, at least one of us had difficulties, which led to some of the zombies catching us for a moment. But at each difficulty more of the zombies fell behind. The snakes caused us particular difficulty as two of the mounts were bit and they turned out to be quite poisonous.

We still had a few zombies hot on our trail when we ran headlong into a small river...too fast and too deep to wade across. We could have let the mounts have a go at swimming, but we thought our chances would be better if we could find a ford. We turned south and found a ford within a hundred yards. The last of the zombies tried to cross and were swept away. Such a beautiful sight for dwarven eyes to behold. Really, none of this would be necessary if you humans were a bit more careful in disposing of your dead.

Durgo dosed the ponies with a neutralize poison potion and we headed back to the site of our inn. From there, we finally made our way to Oxcross. We were berated by some petty human functionary for stirring up the undead out on the Plain of Cairns. However, we were finally able to convince a higher up to let us see the Baron. It turned out that the Baron was indisposed; he was under the weather after a visit from a stranger.

We didn't know who the stranger was, but we knew he was a Thothian looking for the Baron's scroll about the Plain of Cairns. We had them get the Baron up and moving while someone else went to the check the library. The Baron turned out to be recovering but the scroll was gone.

The Baron immediately understood the gravity of the situation. He agreed to seek redress from the Thothians while we agreed to head back out the Plain of Cairns to get to the bottom of the evil lurking there. He equipped us with some magic items to help us, which showed him to be above average as far as humans go. Almost generous like a dwarf.


My Best Gaming Meal Ever

Here is something you cannot duplicate with Fantasy Grounds, Roll20, or any other VTT: Real food at the communal gaming table.

Three years ago I cooked up this meal as our Isles of Emmon campaign drew to a close: Apple wood smoked ribs, with a homemade rub, and homemade roasted tomato BBQ sauce.
Farm stand tomatoes, about to go into the oven.
The finished roasted tomato BBQ sauce.
The key to rib success...the rub.
The sweet smell of apples pouring forth from my Weber kettle grill.
The finished product...we polished off four of these babies.
What was your best gaming session meal?


Catching Up...Some GURPS Sessions in the Majestic Wilderlands

We have been bouncing back and forth on Monday nights between my Montporte Dungeon campaign and Rob's (Bat in the Attic) Majestic Wilderlands GURPS campaign. I have been remiss in given Delvin, my dwarf PC, a chance to fill you in on his escapades. To be fair, he was hexed or charmed or otherwise magically taken out for a bit during that time period. No dwarf wants to publicly describe that sort of thing. I have, however, managed to convince him to pen a short catch-up post that covers three sessions in the Majestic Wilderlands to bring us all up to date after his last update. He will be writing another post later this week that covers a fourth session...that one merits its own post.

So after being chased off the Plain of Cairns by lots of shambling zombies and skeletons (not to mention the henge with the wicked demonic glow), we decided to head to Oxcross to pay our respects to the Baron. It was one of those human things that we "just had to do" seeing as how we were building an inn right down the road from him (you can see what's what on the map above). I was not happy about it, but I thought maybe we could check on the Plain of Cairns in a library or ask a pointy-headed sage-type about it.

So we go to Oxcross and find out that the circus is in town. Well, not really a circus, it was more of a carnival. It was run by the Beggars. I like the Beggars. As far as humans go, they are okay in my book. Any humans that can spook other humans the way that they do has got to have something going for them.

Anyway, we decide to splurge and buy the Baron a bigass horse. Oh, he was a pretty one and I could see the draw, despite my affinity for a closer-to-the-ground pony. We set up a time to see the Baron and he was suitably impressed by our gift. We were all set to talk business when a group of people rushed in, yelling about a murder.

Well, everyone was beside themselves, like they had never seen a dead body. It wasn't like it was a murdered dwarf; just a human. No biggie as far as I was concerned. However, the murder victim was a young woman, a girl, really. That's always sad.

So we set out to solve the murder for the baron. When you ride into town for the first time and a murder just happens to occur about the same time, it is always good form to solve the murder before it gets pinned on you. So, after questioning, tracking, examining the evidence, more questioning, and following the money, we decided that the two most likely perps were part of the Beggers' carnival: The knife thrower and the animal tamer.

We went with a few of the Baron's men to arrest them and, to no one's surprise, they were waiting for us. It was a short, messy battle with knives flying through the air and an unpleasant attack by a pack of dogs and a bear. I felt real bad about killing the dogs and I took out my bad feelings on the back the animal trainer's head with the flat of my battle axe. We took both scoundrels alive.

The Baron rewarded us and I asked if his library contained any information about the Plain of Cairns. Lo and behold, we hit the jackpot. A scroll written by a Thothian mage told of a battle on the Plain and how the elves placed a protective tree of great power in the middle of a large henge. The same place that we had seen lighting up the sky with an evil glow. Apparently, the protection of the tree didn't quite work. The Baron encouraged us to check in with the Thothian mages to get more information. The closest Thothians were in Dorn, just a day's journey.

So off we went to Dorn. We made our visit to the Thothian mages and it didn't go so well. Instead of being helpful, they were furious that we possessed this information and demanded to know the source of our knowledge. We were a bit evasive, sensing possible danger for the Baron. They put more pressure on us and...

...we found ourselves drinking at the local tavern. How did we get there? What happened with the Thothians? What did they do to us? Did they learn that the Baron and his library was our source? We did a quick check and discovered that the Thothians had swiped the information we had copied from the Baron's library. Fortunately, we had made two copies.

We went to the Temple of Mitra and they discovered that our minds had been tampered with. They also explained just how illegal the Thothians' actions against were and offered to help us report it. We agreed to this but also decided that we needed to head back to Oxcross to warn the Baron that the Thothians might come poking around.


Megadungeon Hall of Fame Post: "The Megadungeon and the Horror"

There are a few books that are so good and so important to me that I find myself reading them more than once. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, Plimpton's The Bogey Man, and Keegan's The Second World War are all on that very short list.

The same is true with blog posts. There are a few blog posts that I find myself going back to in order to read again and think about contents. Beedo's (Dreams in the Lich House) post, The Megadungeon and the Horror, is one such post. Beedo compares and contrasts the typical characteristics of a megadungeon (large areas, multilevel, factions, sparse details) with the typical characteristics of a horror scenario (atmosphere, detail, a careful buildup of tension).

Given the challenges of creating a horror-based megadungeon, Beedo suggests incorporating small, detailed, set-piece areas with weird, powerful, horrifying monsters to create a sense of horror. While that doesn't create a horror-based dungeon, it can create some horror-based sessions within the larger megadungeon campaign. From my perspective, it also creates some additional variety and contrast for the GM and players.


Dungeon Mapping

Patrick (Renovating the Temple) asked me how I created the maps I use for my Montporte Dungeon campaign. I use AutoREALM, a free RPG mapping software package. Given my experience with cartographic and GIS programs, it has been a fairly easy program to use. While creating maps can be a bit tedious in AutoREALM (at least compared to drawing them by hand), I can save the final products as JPEG files so that they are ready to go with a virtual tabletop program.
Map A
Dungeon Maps for Gameplay
We use Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds, so it is great having a map in JPEG format that can be uploaded into whatever VTT we happen to be using. All of my dungeon maps represent 300' x 300', the same size as the Stonehell Dungeon maps. My scale of choice is each square representing 5'. I find that this scale works perfect with virtual figures or pogs, so that the map can double as an online battlemap. The map above (Map A) is actually a composite of four JPEG files.
Map B
I start with the above template (Map B). The first thing that I do is mark any of the corridors or other features that come into the the map from adjacent maps. I do the same thing with stairs or other features that connect with levels above and below. Then I superimpose the map I am working on with the adjacent maps, just to double-check the alignment 

For regular dungeon features, I draw straight lines and use the AutoREALM snap grid feature to line them up with the grid. I use the draw polygon function to fill in the spaces between the rooms/corridors. For caverns and other irregular features, I use the freehand drawing feature and draw closed shapes. I keep doing that until I get the features I want. You can see the results of both methods on Map A above.

In order to publish the maps on my blog, I first create a Publisher file and line up the JPEG map files next to each other. Then I draw and fill black squares to cover up the unexplored areas. I save the resultant map as a JPEG file and crop it. That is how I created Map A above; it is a composite of four separate JPEG maps with the unexplored areas covered and cropped.

Other AutoREALM Maps
I am not particularly good at creating maps in AutoREALM, mainly because I haven't spent enough time playing around with it. I created the following maps for my Castles & Crusades Emmon Campaign.
Map C: Elbow Bay
Map D: Sali Isle
Map E: Village of Melford
I had two different groups of players for the Emmon Campaign. One group started in Melford (Map E) where I used a number of modules from Dragonsfoot (The Melford Murder was a huge success!). The second group started on a small island, where I used Death Frost Doom. The results of that adventure forced the player characters to flee the island and they ended up in Elbow Bay (Map C).


Five for Friday 23: Five Questions for Rob Conley

Hey, Kids! I am thrilled to have Rob Conley (Bat in the Attic) as part of my blog today. He is the author of numerous gaming products from Goodman Games (Thieves of Fortress Badabaskor, Points of Light, Points of Light II) and his own Bat in the Attic Games (Majestic Wilderlands, Blackmarsh, Scourge of the Demon Wolf).

Here are Rob’s answers to my Five for Friday questions:

What was your weirdest gaming experience?
Going to Toronto and playing NERO (a boffer LARP) in a vampire club. It was black…very very black (although the use of the basement for a dungeon labyrinth was cool due to the fact it was built of this old stone masonry). The upstairs though, man, I didn't know how much black could be in a building until I went there.

In what ways is your style as a player different than your style as a GM? (assuming they are different)
When I play, I roleplay my character and interact with other characters, whether NPCs or PCs. Pretty much my main focus is to immerse myself into the setting and character…which is one reason why I like LARPS so much as a player.

I do this when I referee as well but I’ve got a bunch of other things that has to go on as well along with the responsibility of handling the whole world outside of the PCs.

If you were a dragon, what kind of dragon would you be?
Silver, they are workhorse of the good dragons. They do cool stuff without being pompous, like Gold Dragons, and self-centered. like Brass, Bronze, and Copper dragons.

Is there a game or ruleset that you have not played that you would really like to try? If so, what?
Fate, I just can't figure the out the main points of the system, especially stunts. Generally is resolved after I play with somebody who know what they are doing. But I haven't had a chance yet.

What was the name of your favorite player character (played by you)? Give us some details.
I would have to say Argyll Malcolm MacDoughall a human fighter…both as a tabletop character and a LARP character. Somehow, with this guy, my luck shoots up to an 18 and, while I don't always "win," I am always doing something interesting.

I play Argyll with a Scottish accent and when I play him in a LARP I wear a full nine yard kilt. As it turns out a nine yard kilt is pretty useful to wear.

During a LARP event I was sitting in a tavern when another PC sat down across the table from me and said I was wearing a skirt. I politely ask him to repeat that and he say very slowly "You are wearing a skirt". Now, one of the useful thing about wearing a nine-yard kilt is that the folds are great for hiding things, including a two foot long short sword that I keep in the back fold. So, after he repeated, it I stretched and in one motion drew and proceeded to knock his character out in one blow. Then I put the sword back before anybody would react.

The whole tavern immediately leaped up and drew weapons and readied spells, very confused as to what just happened. Quickly, it became obvious that I did something to KO the guy but as nobody was really paying attention to me they are were confused as to how I did it. The culmination of all this was when the Baroness came into to investigate the incident. The conversation went something like this;

Baroness: I have a report you were involved in an attack?
Argyll <sipping my mug>: Yes I was.
Baroness <looking startled because the usual thing is for a player is to deny everything>
Baroness: Well, you can't just do that you know.
Argyll: Yes I can, I just did it. He should know better than to say I was wearing a skirt.
Baroness: Well we have laws against that, you know.
Argyll: Ah yes, well then here my fine <I throw 10 gold pieces onto the table>.
Baroness: <stares at me for a minute, not knowing what to say>
Baroness: You keep your gold and we will let you go this time. But don't do this again or there will be severe consequences.
Argyll: <I continue to sip my mug not saying anything>
Baroness:<Tries to figure out whether she had the last word and then decides to leave>.

The guy never tried to mess with Argyll again.

One problem with NERO LARP and adventuring is the mob of treasure seekers. Basically real-life rooms are pretty small and when you got a party of 5 to 8 people, a room gets crowded quickly and everything is searched and picked over pretty quickly. Normally, like in tabletop, everybody throws what they find in the pot and it gets split later. But in adventures that involved more than one group working together the splitting doesn't go smoothly or even fairly if one of the groups has nobles with them.

Well more than a few times as Argyll, I was able to spot a item out of sight in a corner, snag it , and put it into my kilt with none of the nobles the wiser. What makes this notable is that this never happens to me when I play my other LARP characters.

I will have to mention Boog as well, which is the only character that managed to "knock prone" another player out of game.

Boog is a half-orc fighter that I use as one of my "stock" characters at a convention. I play him with a distinct personality. One of his quirks he always refers to himself in the third person unless he gets angry. While his Intelligence is 12, he has a Wisdom of 7, so he doesn't always quite things through the implication of he thinks up.

So during one game at a con the adventure involved this weird journey through the dreams of the noble lady we were trying to help. The incident with the "prone player" occurred when we found this cottage where it turns out that one of her hang ups is mourning her lost baby by constructing a dream baby to take of. Unfortunately this meant also she didn't want to leave the dream world. So Boog using his famed Boog logic offers a solution where he takes his axe, chops the dream baby in half, and shows the result to the lady. Thus showing that it not real and snapping her back to reality.

Now written it sounds morbid but said in the third person voice I use for Boog it supposed to sound goofy and ludicrous reflecting Boog's 7 Wisdom. It got the laughs I expected from the rest the table when I hear a thud next to me. The player next to me found it funny it enough to be a gut buster and literally fell out of his chair laughing. After that, there was a total chaos of laughter at the table and it took a couple of minutes before everybody, including myself, got enough of a grip to resume the game.

Google Plus and Blogger...Like a Dysfunctional Family Holiday

I decided to unattached the comment section of my blog from Google Plus. It is a cumbersome system, plus it excludes non-Google Plus users from commenting. Seems more like anti-social media. The worst part in unhooking the Google Plus from my blog is that it looks like I lost all of my blog comments. Blogger says I still have hundreds of comments, but they are nowhere to be seen on my blog. There is a lot to be said for paper and pencil by candlelight.


Montporte Dungeon Campaign Session 8 Notes

Map A (1 square = 5 feet)
The Cast
Adzeer Mattiu, Hunter of the First Circle (Half Orc, 2 Lvl Hunter): Tim (Gothridge Manor)
Duncan Kern (Gnome, 1 Lvl Wizard/Thief): Dan
Dante Rathburn (Human, 1 Lvl Warlock): Bard (The Clash of Spear on Shield)
Larramore “Little Larry” (Kobold, 1 lvl Marksman): NPC
Diana (Human, Torch Bearer, Goat Driver): NPC
3 cave goats

The Session
Session 8 began with the brave adventurers in Room 1 (Map A above). They had just killed two tall scary humanoids, both armed with halberds, and their hooded companion at the end of Session 7. There were also four cowering naked humanoids, chained together and cowering in the corner.

The party tried to converse with the chained up group but it only frightened them further, leading to lots of babbling and squealing. The party discussed whether or not they should lead these pathetic creatures to the surface and let them go, but then decided that they would die for sure. In the end, the party unchained the four, left them with some food and water, and headed out of the room.

They went across the hall and explored Room 2 (Map A above) and found a few small treasure items buried in the debris on the floor. Then they went west to Area 3 on the map. There was a portcullis in the corridor but it was raised so they were able to head north. The corridor sloped downward and a curious wide shallow groove had been worn in the floor. There was some concern that this was the sign of a trap but Duncan was able to discern that it looked like an area where barrels were rolled along the floor.

As they turned the corner into Area 4 (Map A above), they heard a metallic thud behind them and concluded (correctly) that the portcullis had dropped. And, more importantly, they were face to face with 3 ghouls. A Web spell, lots of oil, and a torch made for quick work with the ghouls. The party also found a lever in the wall in Area 4 that raised and lowered the two nearby portcullises (Areas 3 and 5 on Map A above). One portcullis is raised while the other is lowered.
The party moved on and explored a few small unexplored corridors, which eventually led them to Room 6 (Map A above). The room had a pool in the middle, with a thick column at each corner of the pool to support the ceiling. The water looked to be about 10 feet deep and was crystal clear. At the bottom, the group could see a shiny object. The temptation was apparently too much for Duncan and he did a little gnome cannonball into the pool. At this point, the group remember Duncan's affinity for jumping into things (in Session 1 he famously stated "I'm a gnome, I wanna go in the hole"). Lots of laughs all around.

As soon as he jumped into the pool, three water elementals formed on the pool's surface and the party's laughter was cut short. Dante was able to fish Duncan out of the pool before the elementals fully formed. There were three water elementals...two small ones and one that was a little bigger. A fierce battle ensued and, after a fair amount of swinging and missing (plus some poorly tossed daggers), the party finally prevailed. Duncan, on hunch, decided to inspect the columns and was rewarded for his efforts. He found a small compartment in one of the columns. There was a some gold and silver tucked away, along with a Cloak of Protection.

Duncan dove into the pool once again and was rewarded with a shiny key. Using the key, the adventurers unlocked the iron-bound door on the west wall of the room. Heading west from there through a narrow corridor (Area 7 on Map A above), the party found a secret door that provided access into a large cavern (Area 8 on Map A above). There they encountered four giant ants (3 workers and 1 warrior). The workers were stacking some sort of cube-shaped stuff into piles. The party didn't have much time to take it in as the ants were intent on defending their territory.

The ensuing melee saw Little Larry going down for the count. Dante and Adzeer also critically failed and each of them had their weapons slip from their hands in mid-swing. Adzeer's mace sailed off towards Area 9 (on the above map) and Dante's battleaxe spun off into Area 10. Once the battle started to turn in the party's favor,* Adzeer rushed over to Little Larry and poured a healing draught down his throat. Duncan and Dante finished off the four ants.

Adzeer walked a bit west to get his mace while Dante went north to get his battleaxe. They were set upon by more ants. Dante went down but Little Larry rushed to his aid to keep the two worker ants off him. Duncan cast a Color Spray on the three ants that attacked Adzeer, knocking out two (workers) and blinding the third (a warrior). Duncan and Adzeer quickly finished them off then went over to rescue Dante. They made quick work of the two ants and used one of their last healing draughts on Dante.

They explored the room a bit further and found that there were piles of cubed material all around the room. The cubes were about 1' on a side and turned out to be pieces of giant mushrooms. We ended the session at this point. The map below (Map B) displays the area explored so far.
Map B (1 square = 5 feet)


Elf, a Haiku (Haiku 11)

pointy ear pansies...
prance under moon with bow and sword;
dancing with the stars


Awarding Experience in My Montporte Dungeon Campaign

My Montporte Dungeon campaign started out as a one-shot, using a dungeon that I had started creating a few years ago with something different in mind. The groovy thing is that the repurposing of the dungeon worked and we are now adding some Montporte sessions in between Rob's (Bat in the Attic) Majestic Wilderland's GURPS campaign. However, I still playing catch up with things like basic house rules and a lot of setting creation stuff. I actually think the campaign is going well because I didn't prepare much in advance. Even so, I have to catch up on a few things, including how I award experience points.

We started with AD&D 1e and then switched to Blood & Treasure, but I have continued to use a simplified version of the AD&D 1e experience award rules (such as they are). I want to modify that approach a bit, using the following thoughts:
  • Experience points awards will be given equally to each party member who is part of that session, although I will prorate things if people come in late or cut out early.
  • Experience points will be based solely on what happens in play and not on the experience level of the character. In other words, first level characters and third level characters will get the same x.p. in a given session.
  • The number and involvement of NPCs will not affect the amount of experience awarded to player characters.
  • Dungeon play is based on exploration, encounters, and extraction. Therefore experience points will be awarded in all three areas.
I want to expand on that last point. Experience points will be awarded in three different categories:
  • Exploration: X.p. for finding new rooms, new areas, and new levels. X.p. will also be awarded for finding hidden objects, compartments, secret doors, etc.
  • Encounters: X.p. awarded for killing opponents, overcoming opponents, wooing or gaining info from important NPCs, solving puzzles, opening locks, removing or avoiding traps, etc.
  • Extraction: X.p. for currency, items with tangible value (including livestock, pets, etc), profit from trade and transactions, magic items, etc.
Even as I wanted to expand things for which I am awarding experience, I wanted to avoid some things as well:
  • Awarding experience based on individual player role-playing and other things that put me in the position of making excessively subjective judgments. 
  • Giving out individualized experience awards, based on what individual characters do. This seems like a lot of bookkeeping for me and possibly punitive for guys in our group, depending on their character classes and ability.
  • Too slow or too speedy of a pace for level advancement.
  • Rewarding only killing and taking. Not that it isn't rewarded, but it is not the only thing rewarded.
I will post more details after I test this out. There is nothing radical here. I mainly wanted to ensure that player characters get experience for all aspects of dungeon play.


Awarding Experience

In the earlier editions of D&D--and the current retroclones/simularica--the management and attrition of hit points are the core element of the game (more about that in a later post). The ability to avoid, withstand, and inflict hit point damage forms the most fundamental aspect of the game.

A key facet of hit point attrition is the ability to increase one's own hit points and also increase the ability to inflict hit point damage. This, of course, is done through moving up in experience levels. This, in turn, is the resulting of gaining or earning experience points through play.

Giving the importance of awarding experience, I am baffled at the lack of attention this gets in the many rule sets. When I was playing Castles & Crusades, I was at a loss as to how to award experience. Well, not really at a loss, I just used my systems from my AD&D 1e days. When I started using Blood & Treasure, I discovered that the guidelines for awarding experience were not included . While that is a publishing gaffe, I have been using the x.p. awards for monsters overcome plus 1 x.p. per gold piece of treasure (nothing for magic items). I plan on tweaking that as my first "official" house rule for the Montporte Dungeon campaign.


Montporte Dungeon Campaign Session 7 Notes

The Cast
Adzeer Mattiu, Hunter of the First Circle (Half Orc, 1 Lvl Hunter): Tim (Gothridge Manor)
Duncan Kern (Gnome 1 lvl Wizard/Thief): Dan
Leif (Half-Elf, 1 Lvl Mage/Cleric/Trickster): Josh
Luven Lightfingers (Human, 1 Lvl Thief): Rob (Bat in the Attic)
Larramore “Little Larry” (Kobold, 1 lvl Marksman): NPC
Diana (Human, Torch Bearer, Goat Driver): NPC
3 cave goats

The Session
The last session, Session 6, ended with the party climbing out of a narrow tunnel into Room 1 (above on map) via a trap door in the floor. The adventurers, battered from their encounter with the gibbering mouther, decided to spike the door shut, lay out some caltrops, and take some time to rest and heal up. Their rest was briefly interrupted by some scratching at the door, but otherwise their time in the room was quiet.

The party moved south out of the room and found themselves in an east-west corridor. They opened the door on the south wall and found a room with the rotted remnants of some wood crates, three much newer barrels, and four giant centipedes (Room 2 on the above map). The centipedes were quickly dispatched with flaming arrows and a few arrows. The party suffered a serious mishap when Little Larry accidentally shot an arrow into the middle of Adzeer's back, but the centipedes themselves did no damage. Adzeer healed himself after the battle.

The three barrels bore the marks of the Montporte trading guild. One was still sealed...it contained an odd mix of salted meat (still quite edible) and rough cloth. The other two barrels had been opened, with the lids just laying on them. One contained an assortment of rotted kobold body parts. The other contained a collection of peasant clothing.

The adventurers moved back into the corridor, headed west, and found an orc corpse (Area 3 on the map above). The body was badly decomposed but the rib cage and skull looked like they had exploded outward. The floor, wall and ceiling were stained by an enormous amount of blood...far more than should have come from one orc.

While part of the group was looking at the orc body, Luven went further west and found that the corridor turned north. He found a portcullis similar to the one that had blocked the party at the beginning of Session 6, only this one had already been raised (Area 4 on the above map). Luven could see that the corridor sloped downward as it headed off to the north (Area 5 on the above map).

After finishing their examination of the dead orc, the party attempted to go into the door on the south wall (Room 6 above). Duncan found and disarmed a trap on the door. He then listened at the door, but heard nothing. When Adzeer tried the door, he found that it wouldn't budge. The door didn't open, even with a fair amount of banging and shoving. They decided to dismantle the door hinges, which allowed them to break loose the door from where it was spiked to the frame.

Room 6 contained two large human-like guys, each about seven feet tall, armed with halberds. Behind them stood a slightly smaller guy in a black robe and hood. There were also four naked humans, chained together and cowering n the corner.

The guy in the black hood shouted, "Did the elf send you to get us?" The two brutes with the halberds then attacked. Duncan had the jump on everyone and cast a Color Spray, knocking out the two guys with halberds and blinding the hoodie guy. As he staggered back, the rest Adzeer and Luven attacked him. Leif slit the throats of the two unconscious guys. Little Larry and Duncan slid to the west in order to shoot arrows from the flank. Blind and overwhelmed, the hooded guy never had a chance. As he fell to the ground, mortally wounded, his hood fell back and the party was able to see his bug-eyed but otherwise human-like visage.

In searching the bodies, the party found some gold and silver. More importantly, they found a magic dagger and a magic ring. The dagger, the Blade of Ung, is a +1 dagger that can also do an additional 1d6 of electrical damage (once per day). Using the Lens of Melnar, the group discovered that the ring had an evil aura. It also has the ability to create an incredible amount of water inside a living being...typically causing that creature to explode outward from the pressure. This explained the orc corpse in the hallway.

This is where the session ended for the night.

The Montporte Dungeon (so far)
The "U" symbols represent corridors and doors leading to unexplored areas.


Monday Moodsetter 20

By Ming Fan
RPG Rorschach: What is the first gaming thought that pops into your head?


Montporte Dungeon Campaign Session 6 Notes

I haven't had much of a chance to blog...work has been crazy (we are rolling out a merger which, thankfully, doesn't involve job losses but it involves job changes plus working with hundreds of staff, clients, and thousands of donors, but I digress). I have 4 sessions of gaming to blog about--3 Majestic Wilderlands GURPS sessions and 1 Montporte Dungeon session. Today's post will cover the short Montporte Dungeon session we had on Monday night (using Blood & Treasure).

Cast of Characters
Adzeer Mattiu, Hunter of the First Circle (Half Orc, 1 Lvl Hunter): Tim (Gothridge Manor)
Duncan Kern (Gnome 1 lvl Wizard/Thief): Dan
Leif (Half-Elf, 1 Lvl Mage/Cleric/Trickster): Josh
Larramore “Little Larry” (Kobold, 1 lvl Marksman): NPC
Diana (Human, Torch Bearer, Goat Driver): NPC
3 cave goats

Map A (1 square = 5 feet)
The Session
At the end of Session 5, the brave adventurers had just finished off a group of giant rats (Room 1 on Map A above). The room looked like a kitchen. The corridor heading south out of the westernmost part of the south wall sloped downward, possibly promising access to a lower level. Unfortunately, the way was blocked by a very heavy portcullis. They continued to search for a way to open the portcullis, a search that had started in the previous session. Not finding a mechanism, they opted for brute strength, using a crowbar as a lever under the lowest portcullis crossbar. The portcullis budged but then stopped, as if it were locked in place or stuck.

Just as the party was giving up on the portcullis, two skeletons wandered into the room from the east. Little Larry and Adzeer quickly dispatched them. Adzeer then went east himself to make sure there was nothing else more dangerous behind them.

The party decided to move north out of the room. Duncan checked for traps on the door and, detecting nothing, moved aside so that Adzeer could open the door. A heavy stone swung from the ceiling on the other side of the door, but the rope snapped before the stone could do any damage. Based on the condition of the rope, the trap had been placed there quite a while ago.

Adzeer and Duncan moved north into the room (Room 2 on Map A above). There was a large sudsy puddle on the floor and Adzeer and Duncan were both overwhelmed with the stench of stale beer. Both became nauseous and struggled to draw their weapons. Adzeer noticed that the puddle was moving and rolled the large stone (from the door trap) into the room and through the puddle.

The puddle struck back at the stone and the party was confronted by two beer oozes. Adzeer and Duncan attacked but were hindered by nausea and weakness. Despite their condition, they were able to overcome the beer oozes, thanks in part to the initial damage done by Adzeer's bowling with the stone.

The room was filled with barrels, many of them rotted and broken. They did find a small bar of silver (worth 50 silver pieces) in one of the intact barrels. The barrels were otherwise empty. Of more interest was the door in the floor in the northeast corner of the room.

Adzeer lifted the door and could see a small 3' wide shaft descending down about 25 feet. Small metal rungs had been installed, which beckoned the party to descend. At the bottom of the shaft, the party found themselves at the north end of a narrow passage that headed due south (Area 3 on Map B below). The group discovered just how dexterous cave goats can be, as they descended down the rungs with no difficulty.
Map B (1 square = 5 feet)
The party moved south, noticing that the floor was slimy and covered with all sorts of rotting refuse and bones. As they continued south, the slime on the floor turned to mud then muck then a putrid pool. Duncan opted to take the lead by riding a goat into the water. The floor had a very shallow slope, creating a very shallow pool as a result.

As Duncan led the party south, he noticed a slimy brown pile of refuse about 3' tall, almost completely blocking their path (Area 4 on Map B above). He decided to shoot an arrow at it. The arrow glanced off the pile, doing no apparent harm. The pile, however, was not happy. Opening its many eyes and many mouths, it let loose with horrible gibbering sounds. Yikes! A gibbering mouther!
The gibbering din left Duncan and Little Larry confused and standing in a daze. Worse, Duncan's goat was also affected and, becoming enraged, started bucking to throw Duncan off. Adzeer rushed forward to attack. By the end of second round of combat, Adzeer had done no damage and had three mouths attached to him. The gibbering mouther was about to pull Adzeer down into the water when Duncan and Little Larry snapped out of their stupor.

Duncan let loose with a Color Spray. The spell left the gibbering mouther blind and stunned. Diana rushed forward with oil and a torch. The resultant fire severely damaged the creature and snapping it out of its stunned state. The gibbering mouther began to move north up the corridor, still blind but very much alive. A well-placed arrow by Little Larry and a Magic Missile from Lief finished off the scorched monster.

The Color Spray left Adzeer unconscious. After recovering his wits, Adzeer searched the muck around the corpse of the gibbering mouther. He stirred the water and mud with a spear butt and turned up a ring (still on the finger bone) and something that looked like a pane of glass. A Detect Magic and the Lens of Melnar identified the ring as the Ring of Elsot, a +1 protectiveness ring (+2 versus elementals) that also gives the bearer the ability to see up to 40' in total darkness (including darkness spells).
The mysterious "pane of glass."
The "pane of glass" was another story. A Detect Magic revealed only that the object possessed a very bizarre form of magic and the Lens of Melnar gave no additional information. The object looked like it was made of glass, as it was transparent, but it was lighter in weight. It felt like a small piece of wood (it was about 3" x 5" in size). It had three silvery disks embedded in it. On closer examination, each disk looked like it had considerable depth to it, despite being embedded in a 1/4" thick object.

Not finding a quick answer to the problem of the mysterious object, the party opted to move south and found themselves on dry land at the south end of the corridor (Area 5 on Map B above). There, they found another set of rungs and a shaft leading upward to another door. This door was on the floor of another room (Room 6 on Map C below).
Map C (1 square = 5 feet)
We ended the session at this point, with the adventurers entering the room via a door in its floor. The map below (Map D) shows the the starting point for the session (Room 1) and where it ended (Room 6).
Map D (1 square = 5 feet)