review: Mini-Manor

My unusually high charisma has once again caused a free gift to arrive:

The Mini-Manor showed up unexpectedly yesterday.  I want to review it in depth, but the big reveal is too cool, so there's only so much detail I'll give you.  Plus, you can just check it our yourself - Tim Shorts offered it up as freely downloadable PDF for Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day, and it's available at Gothridge Manor..

a. The magic items are all new, there's plenty of them, and they're very imaginative
b. Solo adventure for a 5th level shmoe.  He's probably going to die, because this adventure is tough. He wakes up in a cell, with a bunch of other shmoes, and there's some jerk cutting those other guys' faces off.  The point of the adventure:  beat that guy to death with a nearby severed arm, and then get out of the dungeon alive
c. A twist at the end!  Hahaha on you, player!  If the poor guy survives that long, of course...

I like it a lot, and it's a free gift, so bonus.

Note to Ferrari dealerships - I will also review cars, if one were to mysteriously arrive in my driveway.


Splitting the loot - the manufacture of a codpiece

I had the party negotiate the loot-splitting from the last session via email.  Here's the results:

The blue pearl fetches 300 gp in the jewel markets of the Bazaar Incomparable.

The gold-and-lapis-lazuli death mask is worth 1500 gp in the antique markets of the Bazaar.

Razoe feels a strange kinship with the half-dissolved skull of Netal, and honors it by turning it into a codpiece. He contracts Lemno Smung, proprietor of Inappropriate Engravings and Inlays, to add the gold filigree and jade inlays. It is a truly magnificent and bizarre codpiece, and Razoe reverently presents it to Mongo as a gift. It produces no reaction bonuses, as the fine craftsmanship is offset by the grisly nature of the artifact.

Gutboy negotiates with Davrik Lerdingfast, weapons collector on the sale of the drum-robot. Davrik is unimpressed, as it doesn't have lots of spikes and gun barrels protruding from it, and the deal is struck for a measly 200 gp.  Davrik asks Gutboy if he's planning on mounting an expedition to retrieve the tank from the Livid Fens anytime soon.

The Glove of Mesmeric Dancing is sold to bloated dance school instructor Ab-lee Mueller, who hopes to use it to lead her young proteges to victory in the Denethix All-City Regionals. It fetches 500 gp.

Gutboy is able to sell back his plate mail at 75%, due to its near-pristine condition. The armorer assumes that it was put on display in a parlor. That fetches 338 gp. He now wears the magnificent plate mail, and has an additional -1 bonus to reaction checks. As a citizen, this equates to a total -3 reaction bonus with the Unyielding Fist, and with the Exalted and Chosen Brethren.

Razoe now possesses the Metal Axe.

Here is the XP split:

Razoe - 200 xp from a prior adventure, plus 750 xp for spending 750 gold
Mongo, Gutboy, George - 454 xp, 516 gp
Henchmen - 227 xp, 258 gp

Overall, the orange musclehead with the jade skull codpiece, the glittering armor of Citizen Gutboy, and the talking dog with the top hat, cape, and entourage are making your adventuring party both well-known and easily recognized. The entire party, plus dog-citizen Rufus II, receives an invitation to a soiree being held by Mormod Waginski, an Exalted and Chosen Brother and noted big game hunter. Each invitation has been inscribed with a hot-knife onto a square of velociraptor hide.


session recap, 4/9/2013

Mongo the Fighter (4), his henchwoman "Bunny" the Thief (3), and his soil-bearers Malazar and someone whose name I have forgotten
Gutboy the Cleric (5), his henchman Trezgar the Elf (1) and his blink dog Rufus II
George P. Burdell the Cleric (4) and his henchmen, Slick Eddie the Thief (2) and Relgar the Elf (1)

The party stood about the magical fountain room on the third level.  Continuity errors are possible - I have no idea if they made it back to the city or not the last time.  Whatever.  They were probably headed back here anyways. So, in the dungeon:

The party began a careful survey of the oddly shaped fountain room, and discovered patterns in the map that suggested a secret door to the south. There were manipulations of a nymph sculpted into the southern wall, and lo and behold, a secret door did in fact open.

Beyond, they found a room with tattered, colorless tapestries, and a magnificent set of armor upon a display stand.  The armor was covered with gold filigree and dotted with emeralds - this was easily the most valuable treasure they had yet come across within the dungeon.  Another passage led to a dusty room with a spiral staircase leading down into the depths.  The decision was made to continue exploring the third level, rather than risk the dangers lying below.

Heading out of the fountain room complex, they struck off down some unexplored corridors and came across a corpse floating in a flooded room.  The body was bloated, and wore a red zippered jack, black leather pants, black fedora, and a single white sequined glove (which George quickly pocketed). Searching the jacket revealed a laminated card with the following instructions: "Go up stairs to room with eight exits. Take southwest exit. Don’t disturb anything, it’s all trapped. Eventually reach room with two northwest corridors, take the left corridor. Past the room full of purple spikes is the Tomb of Metal."

Ahh - a goal!  Gutboy vociferously argued the merits of seeking the treasure, seeing as it was on the far safer second level. There was little confidence in heading deeper without Razoe to assist with combat, so the decision was made - to the Tomb of Metal!

Along the way, the party defeated a stony camouflaged creature laying across a staircase, and then met a group of humanoids with black smoke pouring from sores in their skin - they identified themselves as Dark Smokers, merchants from Bartertown on the fourth level.  Negotiations were made, and the party let the Smokers copy their dungeon maps (with routes leading to the surface world) in exchange for a 300 gp blue pearl.  The Smokers also told the party how to reach both Bartertown and the fifth level, by passing through an outpost of the Hinge-Headed - but they would need a pass from the Hinge-Headed to do so.

They bid the Dark Smokers adieu, and headed up, fighting a trio of aerial jellyfish encountered on the way.  Once they reached the pit of purple crystals, they were left with a conundrum - how to get across.  Eventually they decided on knocking the pins from the hinges from a few of the wooden doors in the dungeon, and laying them across the crystals - the points of the crystal spikes should sink into the wood a bit and hold the doors in place.

Noisy dungeon deconstruction began - and attracted unwanted attention.  An 8' tall naked clown charged into the room, holding a massive tankard of liquor and a poisonous snake.  He shouted "I FINALLY FOUND YOU! DIE, THIEVES!" and rushed the party.  Sadly, Fat Grundle lost initiative - Gutboy's magic paralyzed the giant clown, while Relgar put the pit viper to sleep with his elven necromancy.  The clown was then slain and disemboweled - but all they found inside was the semi-dissolved skull of Netal the Elf blocking the clown's large intestine.  It was taken as a grim memento of their fallen comrade.

The plan to cross the pit of purple crystals with dungeon doors was successful.  Beyond, they fought off a trio of drum-bodied robots and played Smoke on the Water to open the entrance to the Tomb of Metal.  Inside the Tomb were seven statues, which were quickly identified by Mongo as rock'n'roll stars from millenia ago.  As he named them one by one, a pink glow surrounded him, and with the last naming a giant skeleton in spiked armor appeared, proclaiming "You are worthyyyyyy..."  Lightning danced around the illiterate fighter as he chose to increase his already prodigious Strength with the power of Metal.

Some side rooms were investigated, and another musical puzzle was solved, causing a secret door to slide open.  Past the door, down a few more stairs, and a sarcophagus was found - inside, a skeleton with a gold-and-lapis-lazuli death mask gripped a mighty chrome battle axe with a four-stringed haft.  Shockingly, the skeleton didn't rise up and attack, and the tomb was looted safely.

Gutboy grew obsessed with the notion of taking one of the drum robots back to town to sell to Davrik Lerdingfast. The weight and hassle of carrying the robot slowed the party down as they left the dungeon and wandered through the wilderness, leading to the following encounters:

- Ten Painted Men
- Nine Flying Vampiric Piranhas
- 6 Moktars
- Another Moktar war-band, heard at a distance and avoided
- 7 buffoonish farmers' sons, looking for the city slickers that done run off with their sisters

Bruised and battered, they made it back to Denethix without any casualties, marking this as the most successful session to date.  A quick visit to Frondgar the elven sage revealed that the sequined glove had the power to make all onlookers dance uncontrollably for as long the wearer danced, and the axe was the mighty Metal Axe of legend - in the hands of a trained fighter/musician, and with the proper songs learned, its metal tones had potent magical powers.

Gains: jeweled plate mail (4500 gp), the King of Pop's ruined clothing, gloves of mesmeric dancing, blue pearl (300 gp), Netal's half-digested skull, increased Strength for Mongo, gold-and-lapis-lazuli death mask (1500 gp), the Metal Axe
Kills: stair constrictor, 3 aerial jellyfish, Fat Grundle, pit viper, 3 drum automatons, 10 painted men, 9 flying vampiric piranha, 6 moktars, 7 farmers' sons
Losses: none


Petty Gods got some Wolfe!

So I am beyond psyched that somehow Tavis Allison got Gene Wolfe to submit material for Petty Gods (click here). He's not just great in the genre - he's one of the finest authors in the English language, period. And I get to have my crappy little material nestled up in the pages with him!

The original Petty Gods PDF has been released as well, and is available at Gorgonmilk's blog.  I've only looked at it briefly, and what I've seen so far is pretty good - I can use these guys without modification. And what greater praise is there than that?