Previous Lulu code only works for some. Try FLASH30 instead!

So it turns out that only some people are eligible for the prior Lulu code.  You have to be logged in to apply it.  I have no idea what the criteria are.

So if it didn't work for you, Lulu has another code - FLASH30 for 30% off.  This one lasts until Thursday (Nov 20th).

Buy buy buy buy buy buy!

Oh and for the various people who've asked when ASE4-5 will be released - the answer is, when I'm done!  Probably 2015.


35% off Anomalous Subsurface Environment!

Normally I don't bother hawking my books - I'd rather goof off than get involved in marketing.  But Lulu's having a 35% off sale until December 2nd - just enter coupon code SAVE35 on checkout.

I'm pretty sure they lose money on each sale of ASE1 and ASE2-3 - but I don't!  So take advantage of their insanity, and buy buy buy!

There's plenty of other good stuff out their too (e.g. Stonehell) so fill up that shopping cart!


session recap, 10/5/2014

Gutboy the Cleric (6), his henchpeople Trezgar the Elf (3) and Bunny the Thief (3), and his blink dog Rufus II
Pai Mei the Wu-Jen (4), and his henchmen "The Doctor" the Time Lord (2) and Paula Abdul the Battle Dancer (2)
Kalimar the Ranger (3)

This session started right where it left off - in the dungeon!  The party looked around, and Rolf had apparently run off into the depths of Bartertown looking for the ladies.  They all had smoking craters in their leathery hides, but dwarves have peculiar tastes.

Bartertown filled a 130' wide cube with precarious structures of wood and tanned hides.  A glowing pink stone sat in the middle of the town, and next to it a tower (hides stitched to a wooden frame) reared up towards the ceiling.  They glanced around and quickly saw another structure reaching towards the ceiling in the corner - this was made from printed circuit boards, tied together with leather thongs.  An unsteady neon sign read "The Hard Drive Hotel".

The party headed to the Hard Drive and spoke with the clerk, a Dark Smoker (squat humanoids with smoking craters in their skin) - "Money?  To stay here?  What do I want with your filthy fiat currency!  Barter something interesting!"  Gutboy pulled out a goblin head in a jar he had been carting around for no good reason, and the clerk was highly impressed.  "Yes, you may all stay the night.  Bring more interesting things, and perhaps we can work out a longer stay!"

The group spent a long time roaming about Bartertown, checking out the deals.  A sampling of what they saw:

a. Golem Joe's - Joe the Dark Smoker offers to make wood and muscle golems for interesting barters.  Customers must provide their own living raw materials.
b. The Boneyard - a bar run by Fracas and his two robots, who had "THUG" and "LIFE" spelled out on their chests in diamonds.
c. The Meathouse - a 7' tall fat man named Marco the Glutton runs this restaurant, serving up whatever flesh he has on hand.  Several humans were in various states of butchery.  Marco explained that they had traded themselves, which made no sense to the party.  "Yeah, they trade themselves all the time.  They'll be back later."  After quizzing Marco about babies ("Never heard of 'em") the party developed the theory that people were somehow being cloned
d. The Dung Man - Yuri, another dark smoker, runs this establishment, trading a wide variety of dried and fresh dungs.  One especially interesting turd was studded with jewels - Yuri offered to trade it for a T-Rex turd "big enough to roll around in"
e. The Dying Way - Boris the Crawler runs this weapon store.  The entrance was only 3' high, and the party had to crawl in on their hands and knees.  Kalimar traded his electric sword for the Sword of the Hand (its hilt was a hand that would refuse to let go of its wielder until he took a life).  Gutboy bartered the inoperative remote control to the BAGGER-288 for the Mace of Folly - an assassin tried to kill the Blade of Kharg with it, as it was prophesied to never be slain by a blade, and failed.  No particular powers, but it looked quite fearsome with its skull-shaped spiked head.  Finally, Kalimar eyed a syringe that his tail could wield to inject poison, but had nothing to trade for it.
f. The party interrupted a drug deal between two men (one in a black silk suit with purple tie, another in a white silk suit but wearing a pastel t-shirt) and a Dark Smoker.  The two men left disgusted at the interruption, and the Dark Smoker tried to trade his supply of mendifex spider venom to the party ("Any side effects?"  "Oh no, no, except the spiders that erupt from boils on your face.  Perfectly safe!"), but they decided against becoming subterranean drug lords.

After much shopping and exploring, the party headed back into the dungeon.  They passed by the room where a red rubbery fellow had been working on a pressure plate - the work was complete, and the party had completely forgotten the previous encounter, and poison darts from the ceiling nearly slew Bunny and Paula.  But they didn't, so ever onwards!

They next returned to the mouth of the Conjure-Man, which had been cajoling them to visit.  They rounded the corner and beheld the eyeless, mouthless being sitting atop a throne of green stone, veined with glowing green quartz.  They paid him 200 gp apiece, and the conjure-man offered vague prophecies involving events that had already occurred.  Suspecting he was more a con-man than conjure-man, Pai Mei used the Wig of Lordship taken from the mummy of "The King" to charm the Conjure-Man.  The monster was thus convinced to join the party ("My psychic powers tell me that you've charmed me against my will, but I just can't resist you with that fancy hair!").  It picked up its mouth from the wall (and its eyes from the ceiling) and shoved them back on its hideous face, and the party decided to head down to the fifth level.

They heard disturbing chanting as they went down the stairs ("Oh Coiled God, we doth loveth the way thou eatest us, and it is thus that we ascend to become part of your glorious tentacleness"), and entered a long pillared room with an altar at the far end.  The high priest wore a gold tentacled mask, and two dozen worshippers kneeled before him.  The priest shouted "Joyous day!  Sacrifices have arrived!" and the two dozen cultists began rushing towards the party.  As they did so, the priest intoned puissant tones and a ball of fire flew from his hands towards the party.  Most of the party ducked out of the way, but it hit Gutboy and the Conjure-Man right in the face.  The Conjure-Man's eyes were completely incinerated in the blast.

The party focused their arrow fire on the tentacle priest, and Rufus blinked over to bite the sorcerer's head off.  Once the cultists saw their leader dead, their morale broke, and they ran down the stairs at the far end of the room.  Pai Mei yanked the mask from the sorcerer's severed head, revealing a tentacled face.  Bunny searched the altar, and found three holes in the back - she jammed her fingers in simultaneously and blades within severed them completely, leaving her crippled.  Kalimar began experimenting with the holes, and found that by jamming in three sticks, the blades couldn't come down cleanly, and a drawer popped open, revealing the sorcerer's spell book.

Ruthlessly enough, the party then had Bunny pack the instruments atop the altar (copper chalices, a copper bowl, and a copper knife with an obsidian blade) - the bowl was cursed, and where her hands had touched it, they began bleeding uncontrollably.  Bunny began once again bewailing her stupidity in joining with this crew of heartless mercenaries.

Back to Bartertown - the sorcerer's tentacled head was traded for a 10 night stay at the Hard Drive Hotel.  Inside the building of printed circuit boards, ladders climbed the walls of Bartertown up to 6' wide cubes cut out of the stone walls.  They stayed in the highest (and thus most secure) for several nights, licking their wounds and eating goblin jerky they had traded for at the Meathouse (using the sorcerer's body as currency).  Trezgar used his arcane identification spells and found that the golden Mask of the Coiled God provided mystical protection from harm to its wearer, but would also cause his face to erupt in squirming tentacles.  Pai Mei thought tentacles would complement his horns and shoulder spikes nicely, and claimed the Mask as his own (although not yet committing to wearing it).

Two nights later, the party was awoken by Paula's screams in the middle of the night - the cultists had snuck in for revenge!  There was a brief battle, and all but one of the cultists were sent plunging to their deaths.  The last they took captive, and he begged for the mercy of being fed to the Coiled God - the party agreed.  They headed down the ladders, and discovered the unexpected consequences of the fight - the bodies of the cultists had landed upon the clerk, crushing his skull.  A crowd of Dark Smokers gathered, and they were quickly shouts of "Lottery!  The Hard Drive is going up for the lottery!"

The Dark Smokers began bargaining with each other furiously, pledging their lottery tickets to the various power brokers in exchange for other goods and favors.  A line of Dark Smokers formed at the pink stone in the center of town, the fabled  Barter Stone - a pair of the beings would place their hands upon the stone simultaneously and recite the terms of their deal, and the stone would briefly glow as the Stone recognized their pledge.  The party was approached by emissaries of both Fracas (from the Boneyard) and another Dark Smoker named Krasky, seeking ownership of the Hard Drive should they win the lottery - eventually a bargain was struck with Krasky in exchange for providing a free room when they were in town.  Soon enough, all the deals were signed, and the drawing took place - one of Fracas's supporters won, the hotel was exchanged, and the Hard Drive had its new owner.

Krasky informed the party "Better luck next time, ey?" at which point Gutboy informed him that their deal was still in force - nothing had been said about whether the hotel was successfully acquired by Krasky.  Krasky fumed as he realized he had been lawyered - Gutboy tried to convince him it could be good for both parties, and perhaps they could do a favor for Krasky someday.  Krasky seemed unconvinced, but was unwilling to break the deal, and agreed to find lodgings for the party while they were in town.

Gains:  Sword of the Hand, Mace of Folly, Mask of the Coiled God, spellbook, 200 pp, 2 copper chalices, cursed copper bowl with tentacle carvings, copper knife with obsidian blade
Kills:  High Priest of the Coiled God, 14 cultists
Losses:  electric sword, remote control to BAGGER-288, Bunny's fingers, Conjure-Man's eyes



The lead rot was starting to set in, so myself, Razoe's player, and Pai Mei's player sent all our unpainted minis off to Ed at PrimEvil Studios (http://www.primevilstudios.com/) for some pro painting (none of us have the time or patience).  He did a fantastic job, and here's what just came back in the mail:

Razoe's guys:

Pai Mei's guys:

And my guys:


session recap, 9/6/2014

Gutboy the Cleric (6), his henchpeople Trezgar the Elf (3) and Bunny the Thief (3), and his blink dog Rufus II
Pai Mei the Wu-Jen (4), and his henchmen "The Doctor" the Time Lord (2) and Paula Abdul the Battle Dancer (2)
Rolf the Dwarf (3), and his henchman Piston Honda the Sumo (2)
Kalimar the Ranger (3)

The party awoke in Denethix with a purpose - get to Bartertown!  They didn't know what was in it, but setting goals and keeping them are important, so cheerfully they geared up and headed towards Chelmsfordshire, the first stop on the way to the dungeon.

Once they arrived in Chelmsfordshire, they noticed a fellow in adventuring gear in front of the Adventurer's Mall.  He beckoned them over, and introduced himself.

Vatta: "I am Vatta, steward of the Blessed Expeditionary Company.  You, of course, are Gutboy the Glittering, and there's the famed Rufus!  I'm so glad to meet you, and add you as a sub-charter!"
Gutboy: "Eh? What charter?"
Vatta:  "You must have heard - the Exalted and Chosen Brethren have granted the Blessed Expeditionary Company the sole charter to explore the dungeons beneath Mt. Rendon.  Of course, such an enterprise is more than any one adventuring band can handle, so we're offering sub-charters the independent companies. Most can't afford the 6,000 gp licensing fee up front, so we make loans at incredibly affordable rates, and the BEC only takes 15% of what is discovered!"
Gutboy: "WHAT?  Let me see this charter!"
Vatta:  "It's right here behind me" - he points at a literal wall of text etched into the marble sides of the Adventurer's Mall
Gutboy:  "Anyone can carve anything into stone!  Where are the original documents?  Where are the official seals?"
Vatta (confused):  "Sir, it's carved in stone..."

Gutboy rallied his fellow party members and they marched out of town in a huff, heading west towards the dungeon.  Behind them, Vatta gestured and whispered to an associate - soon a patrol of a dozen Fist chased the party down.  Threats were exchanged, but the party eventually decided that making enemies of the Fist was unwise, and they cancelled the expedition, heading towards Denethix.

MAJOR EVENT #1 - Gutboy's longstanding hatred of scuffed maces and habit of purchasing new ones after every battle landed him an endorsement deal, allowing him a limitless supply of free maces.  A large painted sign bearing Gutboy the Glittering's image fondling a mace was erected above the Bazaar Incomparable, proclaiming "IF THEY'RE GOOD ENOUGH FOR GUTBOY, THEY'RE GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU!"

MAJOR EVENT #2 - The party saw a bunch of adventurers selling off loot in the Bazaar, including the weight-lifting cod-man statue that the cod-men had extorted from them.   They were pulling it all from a foot-wide greenish metal egg with an opening its side - objects that rightfully shouldn't fit inside.  The adventurers all had the symbol of a "club" from a deck of playing cards on their tabards - they later learned these adventurers were the Black Jacks.

MAJOR EVENT #3 - Gutboy sent word to the party's sponsor, Davrik Lerdingfast.  They met with Davrik and a sleazy fellow from the Council of Proper Apportionment, infamous tax collectors of Denethix.  The CPA was quite upset at being locked out of the dungeon revenue scheme, and an agreement was reached - "Mongo's Marauders" would sneak into the dungeon and ensure that fellow adventuring parties would have unfortunate "accidents", keeping revenues down.  Additionally, Rufus the Dog would run for office against Vatta's sponsor in the Exalted and Chosen Brethren, his cousin Rostic.  With no revenues, Rostic's support would wither, his seat would be vulnerable, and the Blessed Expeditionary Company would lose its charter.  Gutboy did insist on taking Rufus along for one last expedition before the campaign trail claimed him.

So - off to the dungeon!  The party took the long way around, killed a few dozen country boys looking for the city slickers what done dishonored their sisters, and made their way up Mt. Rendon.  At the entrance, they found several members of the Fist and few civilians with crude "BEC" badges - all dead, hacked apart with swords.  Entering the dungeon, they soon ran into a contingent of the hinge-headed and their Neanderthal slaves.  They presented their pass - "Acceptable.  Not like those last fools, demanding that we pay taxes.  The Basalt Ziggurat provides no tribute to flesh-minds!" and moved on.

They made their way through the cod-man lair - all the cod-men were slain, with only tadpoles left swimming around.  Kalamar briefly made human infants and giant-brained floating infants from the tadpoles using the evolutionary chair, but reverted them back to tadpoles, unable to find a use for screaming babies.  The party also reviewed the curtain showing other locales within the dungeon (a mercury lake, a hothouse full of various trees, the deep tower on level 2, and an underwater grotto on level 3).  Deciding to keep that info for themselves, they yanked down the curtain and stuffed it in their packs.

Making their way through the dungeon, they fought off some giant vampiric piranha, ambushed a few survivors of the BEC attempt to tax the hinge-headed, capturing a civilian, and made it to the outpost of the hinge-headed.  Their papers were inspected, they were led through twisting tunnels, and then told to "go downstairs and talk to the Lasher."  The Lasher was a hideous mass of fleshy tentacles, tipped with dripping venomous barbs, clutching a hinge-headed mind crystal in a bunch of smaller cilia.

Gutboy:  "Here you are"
Lasher:  "Hmmm. This will do.  Head west, then north, and you shall reach the glorious cavern of the Basalt Ziggurat!"
Pai Mei:  "So you're the Lasher?"
Lasher: "When it suits me to wear this body.  We make many bodies."
Kalimar: "You can change bodies? How?"
Lasher:  "Yes, of course.  Your pitiful flesh-shells can be changed to suit our many needs - more legs, more arms, whatever we need.  Go east, and speak to the Architect!"

The party headed east, making their way through various tunnels, encountering a caged and semi-depressed eight-tentacled Neanderpus named Grr'nuk'nuk, and then stumbling upon the offices of the Greater Architect.  Gutboy displayed his papers, and asked him to mutate their captive BEC representative, but the Architect was unmoved - "Did the Lasher send you?  Oh, he's such a funny one, him and his jokes - GET OUT.  I have no interest in modifying your captive - his mind cannot be controlled. Why would I make him into a living weapon?  Depart! Now!"

Returning to the Lasher, the thing encouraged them to go back ("Oh, the Architect is a moody bastard - just take a right at the end of the tunnel").  They followed his directions, found a room with an iron sphere, radiating heat, a glass hatch providing a view of the steaming interior and the bloody hands pounding to get out.  They moved past that, and found another room with a great iron cylinder, hinged with a glass door, and tubes of yellow fluid running into it.  A big yellow button was set into a pedestal in front of the cylinder.

Kalimar forced the captive BEC agent into the cylinder and pressed the button.  It flooded with gas, and the BEC representative emerged with a distended pot-belly.  He opened his shirt, revealing a seam, which he peeled open - he had grown a marsupial pouch.

Kalimar then went into the cylinder himself - a few moments in the mutagenic gas, and he developed a 10' long prehensile tail.  Pai Mei entered - and emerged with a set of horns poking through his pompadour, and giant spikes protruding from his shoulders.  Both men were pleased with their new look, but the henchmen and other party members couldn't be convinced to try the chamber.

Back to the chamber with the iron sphere - the party attempted to force the marsupial BEC agent to open the sphere, but he pretended to die as he touched the handle.  A few pokes with a stick revealed he was still alive, feigning death in an attempt to escape.  He ran for the door, and was slaughtered by merciless Kalimar.

The party headed back to the Lasher's post ("Nice horns, jerk-o! Ha! Ha!"), and hurried their way to Bartertown, using a scrawled map they received from the Dark Smokers many weeks before.  They refused to stop for even a moment.  What they saw:

a. A few hinge-headed forcing their multi-legged Neanderpede steeds to wrestle for their amusement.  Papers were checked, and the party was waved on

b. A grand arcade leading to the cavern of the Basalt Ziggurat.  A large map of the cavern was mounted on the wall, naming locations such as the "Ferrovore Containment Facility / Corundum Synthesis Laboratory", the "Lunar Museum", the "Deep Tower", a tunnel to "Under-Miami", and of course the "Basalt Ziggurat".

c. Through the Basalt Ziggurat - avenues of potted palms, fields of red corn, a hoop of burning light hanging from the ceiling, a doorless tower running from floor to ceiling, various tunnels, jungle plants, Neanderthal slaves, and the 100' tall Basalt Ziggurat.  All ignored, as the party rushed through as quickly as possible

d. Through a room filled with old corpses, riddled with holes

e. Past a room where a mouth in a small mass of flesh hung on the wall implored the party to just stop for a moment and receive advice from its master, the "Conjure-Man"

f. Past a room where a red rubbery humanoid had lifted up a slab of stone from the floor and was working on the gears and mechanisms beneath - it disappeared into a puff of red mist that floated away

g. Through a room with a massive pit, full of bones

h. Past a stairway leading down (presumably to Under-Miami and the fifth level), from which chanting was heard

i. To an elevator.  "Down" button pressed - a long ride in the elevator car - and the doors opened to reveal Bartertown, a massive squared-out room filled with wooden structures and the smoke that poured from the craters in its inhabitants skin - the Dark Smokers.

Gains:  Tail, horns, shoulder-spikes
Kills:  7 hillbillies, 2 vampiric piranha, 6 Unyielding Fist, 2 Accounts Receivable Agents of the Blessed Expeditionary Company
Losses:  None


review: F3 The Many Gates of the Gann

Yet another review, because I don't feel like writing up a session recap for yesterday's game right now.

This one is another Guy Fullerton module, F3 - The Many Gates of the Gann.  It's been out for a while, yeah you've probably all heard of it, but on the off chance you haven't, it's awesome.  And oh yeah, SPOILERS if you plan to play in it...

This one is straight up crazy-awesome. The dungeon itself is guarded by giant stone ape heads, that shoot disintegration beams.  The dungeon complex was built to protect some doohickeys ages ago, and is mostly automated at this point, run by what are effectively hypnotized, trained apes.  The complex was breached from below, though, and freaks have moved in.  So, you've got jerk monsters sneaking out to ravage the countryside, and a whole dungeon full of machinery designed around enslaving apes.

The mechanisms for enslaving apes provide most of the puzzles - if the players persist, they will eventually be able to figure out how to control the apes, and make more.  More likely they'll just run around causing mayhem though, because the place is full of other weirdos. The best of them are giant intelligent snakes that interact with the world by swallowing the lower halves of people and biting into their spines - the upper halves stick out of the mouths, cast spells for them, talk, etc.  Totally over-the-top, and if the party loses any characters, you get to turn them into sock puppets!

Anyhow, this module is absolutely fantastic, go buy, etc etc.


review: F1 The Fane of Poisoned Prophecies

Another review!  Got a game tomorrow, so instead of prepping like I should, I'm doing this! I present to you F1 - The Fane of Poisoned Prophecies by Guy Fullerton.  Note that this review has SPOILERS, which shouldn't be a shocker since it's a review of a module, but there you go.  Don't read if you ever intend to play it.

Yes, this came out quite a while ago, but I'm reviewing it anyways.  I just picked it up a few weeks ago, and this is pretty good.  It's got a somewhat fairy tale vibe, which I don't usually go for, with some guys building a stairway to the moon, and then hiding the entrance in the temple to the sun-god.

What made it work for me was the villains - a pack of lazy werewolves, sent by the werewolf boss of the moon, to go seek a way to control their shapeshifting (you know, on the moon, it's always a full moon).  I imagine those guys being played like a biker gang, kicking back with their biker ladies and raising hell in the temple.  I can work with that, and totally trash the fairy tale vibe in the process, because that's just how I am.

It's got quite a few puzzles - they are good, but they are also tough.  They are mostly of a nature where you manipulate something from a distance, so you don't see whether you've done anything or not immediately - which means that players will probably not persist in trying to figure certain aspects of the dungeon out.  Some NPC interaction would need to be added to provide incentive for PC's to work them out.

The conceit behind this is there's a moon staircase, that nobody knows about.  And there are werewolves, who've gone and chased off the prophetess and are pretending to be the mysterious oracle of the sun temple, and give out crap prophecies in exchange for gold.  Pretty sandboxy, players show up for whatever reason they like, and then interact with a bunch of thuggish werewolves and the mechanisms of the temple.

Anyhow, easy enough to drop in to any campaign I can think of, and I can see this working out very well in play.


review: Dwimmermount

I've been looking forward to Dwimmermount for a long time now, and it's released!  I wasn't actually part of the kickstarter (I almost never participate in those things), so haven't read the first draft, or been part of the drama, or any of that.  All I care about is having another big dungeon out there, because I love big dungeons.

So - conclusion first - I really like Dwimmermount.  It's really big, and it's full of pulp science-fantasy flavor.  It is NOT gonzo science-fantasy - nothing like my own ASE that way.  But you can see the shared roots, with floating space techno-gods, interstellar travel, metallized skeletons of unknown purpose, etc etc.  So, James and I apparently read all the same books and watched the same cartoons.

What Dwimmermount is, is classic D&D.  It uses tons of book monsters and book magic items.  There's custom creations in there, but the majority of it is straight out of the rulebooks.  It's also the product of play - my understanding is that James had a really brief set of notes and maps, and he made a lot of things up as he went along.  This book is the actualization of that experience.

The side effect of this, is that this book is the realization of James' and his players' play styles.  You can feel how his campaign worked and what his players were focused on as you read through it - it was an investigative, world-building campaign where the details emerged through play.  That is a strength and a weakness here - to really get the most out of the dungeon, the players have to invest themselves in figuring out the details of the world.  There are little margin notes that point out where history can be gleaned and sold off to sages - but it's a bit understated.  I think the DM will need to create & use some NPC's to showcase this in the early levels to make sure the players understand that this is worthwhile - the text as written doesn't really cover that, presumably since James' campaign went that direction all on its own.

After the first couple of levels, the factions get all up in the players' face and the historical bits should fall into place much easier.  This is very much a dungeon of factions rather than set-pieces and goofy traps - there's a lot of those, but the big deal here is interacting with the factions and playing them off each other.  The factions and their motivations are very well covered.

Other stuff:

Dungeon maps - very cool
Pulp background - very cool.  It's got astral travelers founding subterranean cities, giant robot-gods, lakes of magic gasoline, really it seems yanked from a 50's "B" sci-fi movie
Wilderness maps & overview - a bit bland, but it's not really the focus of the book, so not much of a knock on it either
New monsters - a lot of these are copies of Labyrinth Lord AEC, presumably stuck in because of concerns about being "Labyrinth Lord" compatible w/o needing the AEC.  Doesn't hurt anything, but could've been left out
New magic items - again, a lot of these are from AEC

I'm a terrible reviewer, others (Bryce Lynch, Gus L.) are much better at explaining why they like & dislike a product - but I've given it my best shot.  Overall, I like Dwimmermount quite a bit.


Review queue: Dwimmermount and more

Got a bunch of stuff on the review queue now:

Dwimmermount (like it so far for pulp flavor, have read thru level 1, monster ratio is a bit lower than the one-in-three I personally like [EDIT - nah on further review it's just about perfect] - clearly requires getting players involved with the factions to get maximum utility)

Bottle City (like parts, but it's clear that Rob Kuntz ran a lot of this extemporaneously, it needs fleshing out or lots of improvisation, but haven't read thru it 100% yet)

F1 The Fane of Poisoned Prophecies

F3 Many Gates of the Gann

AA#12 The Barrow Mound of Gravemoor

AA#23 Down the Shadowvein

AA#24 The Mouth of the Shadowvein


session recap, 7/27/2014

Gutboy the Cleric (6), his henchpeople Trezgar the Elf (3) and Bunny the Thief (3), and his blink dog Rufus II
Pai Mei the Wu-Jen (4), and his henchmen "The Doctor" the Time Lord (2) and Paula Abdul the Battle Dancer (2)
Rolf the Dwarf (3), and his henchman Piston Honda the Sumo (2)
Simon the Halfling (3), and his henchmen the Unnamed Mariner (2) and Roger the Halfling Guardian (2)

Back in Denethix, Pai Mei once again sought out some hired help that he could leave to die in a dungeon.  Interviewees:

- A snickering man in plate mail, promptly called out as an anti-paladin and told to take a hike
- Skeletor the Death Master, rejected on the grounds that he couldn't contribute any meaningful firepower
- Walter White the Alchemist, rejected on the same grounds
- Paula Abdul the Battle Dancer, hired!

Skeletor, Walter White, and the anti-paladin stormed off angrily, vowing to form their own adventuring party.

While Pai Mei did his hiring, Gutboy interrogated the hinge-headed mind crystals.  They identified themselves as a staff sergeant and two sub-corporals, and demands angrily that they be returned to the hinge-headed outpost.  Gutboy used his persuasive skills to try to drive a wedge between the sergeant and his underlings, but no opportunity came up to exploit this division.

The party headed off to the dungeon.  Only a short recap here:

a. The cod-men had left a sign outside the 3rd level entrance, demanding 50 gp per adventurer.  They were bemused that there was no one to actually collect at the gates to the dungeon, and tossed the sign into the woods.   The cod-men toll collectors were positioned a few rooms in, and let the "Mongos" pass for free, as they were well known to the cod men.  They did pass on the information that two other parties had come through already.

b. They came across Skeletor's newly-formed adventuring party - Skeletor, Walter White, the anti-paladin, and three thugs named Moe, Larry, and Curly.  They easily killed Skeletor, Walter, and anti-paladin, and "hired" the thugs at swordpoint.  Moe took the anti-paladin's plate mail (with sculpted muscles and nipples embossed on the armor)

c. They began exploring the large 30' wide flooded tunnels, and collecting the faces from the statues at the end of each hall.  One of the statues had a shark-tooth necklace - when Moe was coerced to put it on, it began whizzing around and contracting, quickly sawing Moe's head off

d. They found a room with a pair of pedestals, each sporting a pair of hand grips, and an array of tubes, wires, and mirrors between them.  A sign read "Test your Mental Strength".  Pai Mei went up against Curly - Curly's head began to smoke, and he quickly fell to the floor twitching.  Pai Mei felt a surge of mental energy from his victory, and was aware that he could unleash a deadly mental blast now.

e. They took the faces to a hall containing eight identical statues to the ones they had already found, and a ninth statue of a "great founder" holding his palm out, full of dice.  They screwed the faces into the statues, and one of the dice began glowing pink.  It was quickly shoved into someone's backpack.  Yoink!

f. Wandering monsters aplenty - vampire piranha, sharks, a toymaker wizard with a suitcase full of evil sock monkeys, and an adventuring crew called "The Green Hands" on account of their green gloves.  The wizard's bowler hat and suitcase were confiscated.  The Green Hands had a half dozen slaves with them that they used for setting off traps - these were provisionally "rescued".  An amulet with a three-lobed eye was looted from one of the Green Hands.   The last thug, Larry, and Roger the Halfling Guardian were lost in combat.

g. The back passage was taken to the outpost of the hinge-headed.  Stopping to investigate a room on the way, they fought and slew the Lucrephage, the terror of the hinge-headed - a hideous monster that sucked treasure from the party.  Gutboy's glittering armor was peeled of its emeralds and gold filigree, and one of the hinge-headed mind crystals was absorbed, before the beast could be killed.

h. They spoke with Section Chief Burtelix of the hinge-headed outpost and negotiated a round-trip pass through the domain of the Hinge-Headed to Bartertown, Under-Miami, and beyond, in exchange for returning the two surviving mind crystals and slaying the dread Lucrephage.

i. Upon their return to Denethix, the party identified the pink die as a "Stone of Retribution" - upon the death of an ally, they could throw the stone at the corpse and the death would be visited upon the killer instead, and their comrade returned to life.  They also sold the amulet of the three-lobed eye at the Bazaar Incomparable - a shady looking gentlemen observed the transaction and was visibly upset.

j. The former slaves were released to return to their families, or wherever else they came from

Gains:  28 gp, Stone of Retribution, Amulet w/ 3-lobed eye, Necklace of Decapitation, paisley suitcase, bowler hat, the gold dust from the filigree that once adorned Gutboy's armor, 2 suits of plate mail (one with ridiculous embossed nipples and muscles), impractical lacquered trident, two daggers
Kills: Skeletor, Anti-Paladin, Walter White, 3 vampire piranha, 3 dungeon sharks, 4 "Green Hands" adventurers, toymaker wizard, evil sock monkey, the Lucrephage
Losses: Three stooges, Roger the Halfling Guardian


session recap, 6/29/2014

Gutboy the Cleric (6), his henchpeople Trezgar the Elf (3) and Bunny the Thief (3), and his blink dog Rufus II
Pai Mei the Wu-Jen (4), and his henchmen "The Doctor" the Time Lord (2) and Father Conan O'Brien the Barbarian Cleric (2)
Rolf the Dwarf (3), and his henchmen Nvaran Azimuth the Thief (2) and Piston Honda the Sumo (2)
Kalimar the Ranger (3)

Gutboy, Rolf, and their newfound bosom companion Kalimar departed the great city of Denethix, seeking riches in the great dungeon buried beneath Mt. Rendon.  The offices of the tax collectors were being slowly rebuilt in the ruins of Chelmsfordshire - great blocks of granite had been dragged into position, and workmen and bureaucrats labored under the summer sun.

The trip to the dungeon was uneventful - no great ankhegs bursting from the ground or perytons swooping from the sky, seeking their still-beating hearts.  Maybe next time.  The 3rd level dungeon entrance remained abandoned, until they reached the cod-man lair.  They were greeted by their allies, and led to the northern guard post, where Chief Pyceen awaited them.

Pyceen: "It is time for you to kill Hinge-Headed!  This will happen now!"
Pai Mei: "We need to scout first.  And were-wolves.  You hate those, right?"
Pyceen: "Don't know these things!  You kill Hinge-Headed!  It is time to keep promises!"
Pai Mei:  "Well, you can send some of your men along to swim with us across the lake..."
Pyceen: "Ha!  No, no.  The fish are too big!  You will do it now, not us!"

The party agreed (once again) to slay the hated Hinge-Headed, and enter the flooded passages in search of a Hinge-Headed patrol to ambush.  They first stopped at the statue of a pregnant woman they often passed going to and from the Cod-Man lair - they had previously unscrewed the detachable face.  Kalimar was intrigued, and his curiosity led to the decision to hunt down some of the other statues that seemed to be at the end of every one of the wide corridors.

Some time later, they reached the end of a previously unexplored tunnel, with a statue of a man wearing an ancient schoolboy's uniform, sporting devil horns, and carrying a bass guitar.  Inspection revealed his face screwed off, and the bridge of the bass was hinged as well - pushing on it opened a small cavity containing tablature for the ancient song of power Back in Black.  Clearly this was intended for the Metal Axe, currently held by the party's long-absent partner Razoe.  The party took both face and tablature.

A wide archway off this tunnel led to a section where the water ran faster and frothed.  Pai Mei probed with his extensible aluminum pole, and discovered stairs leading 20' down under the surface of the water.  Having no way to safely navigate the depths, they headed north, towards another unexplored tunnel and statue.

At the end of this tunnel, they found a statue of a man in a poncho with a wide brimmed hat and a noose around his neck.  The face screwed off, and was promptly removed - and further investigation revealed the noose was a separate sculpture, not attached to the statue.  The thief Nvaran was ordered to examine it - as soon as he touched, it turned to dust - and then he grabbed wildly at his back as a hemp rope crawled up the back of his shirt and wrapped around his neck.  He struggled wildly, too wildly for Rolf to get close enough to cut the noose, so Piston Honda was ordered to beat the choking thief into unconsciousness.  Before too many blows were landed, Nvaran put his hands up and calmed himself.  "I can't breathe!" he said - "and I don't need to.  Weird.  Am I in Heaven?"

The party took this in stride, and headed to the underground lake to take a closer look.  Kalimar tossed a grappling hook to the top of the stairs, and they used the attached rope to climb up without worry from the waters pouring down from above.  They probed the edge of the lake, thinking they'd just send Nvaran to scout ahead underwater - but then they realized that they had no light to give Nvaran that would work submerged, and that the phosphorescent flashes off in the distance were probably underwater predators.

A bit more planning - time to go back to the cod-men and get the canoe they had left on their last expedition.  The cod-men dutifully dragged it out, and the party headed back to the stairs, where they had left the grappling hook and rope.  Luck was with them - a patrol of three Hinge-Headed and five Neanderthals was busy inspecting their rope, backs turned to them.  More luck - Gutboy quietly waded towards them ("Sorry I was late!") just in time to join the battle.

Trezgar unleashed his sleep incantations, sending the Neanderthals face first into the shallow water that flooded this level, and the rest of the party shot arrows and swung blades at the hinge-headed until they were dead.  Rolf decapitated one of the can-headed musclebound freaks, and lifted the hinge - within was not a head, but a hand, clutching a glowing green crystal.  Opening the other two head-cans revealed a blue crystal and purple crystal, respectively.  Rolf decapitated those two, packed away the crystals, and they headed back to the cod-men to deliver the grisly hand-head-can trophies.

Chief Pyceen was overjoyed that the part was actually, finally, keeping their promise to exterminate the Hinge-Headed who threatened the third level.  His men dragged in a 6' long cave fish, and began cutting parasite-laden chunks off and offered them to Gutboy.  He made a face, and said "Can't stop to eat, we've got to explore that lake.  Maybe later."

A brief foray was made into the side tunnel with the white water - it curved away, rather than towards the lake like they had expected.  They gave up on this, and later consultation with the cod-men revealed that it only led to the whirlpools near the dungeon entrance.

So, back to the lake - this time being surprised in the tunnels by four goblins breathing through reeds, who rose up from the water around them.  The little gray humanoids shook their spears menacingly, but didn't attack.

Goblin:  "Humans go now!  Our dungeon!"
Gutboy:  "But we want to help.  We'll kill the hinge-headed!"
Goblin (considering):  "Hmm.  Human kill hinge-headed.  Do it now!  Go!"
Gutboy:  "Aren't you going to help?"
Goblin:  "No!  Go!  Go!"

The semi-hostile goblins were in no mood to fight, and slunk off into the darkness.  The party did notice these were dressed in moldy rags, and had severe fungal infections on their skin - they weren't anywhere as near well-off as the silver-suited goblins of the deceased Grolikus the Hive-Mind.

Back up the stairs to the lake - the unbreathing thief Navran was chosen to paddle the canoe, and Pai Mei and Father Conan O'Brien join him.

Trip 1 - Piston Honda holds 200' of rope tied to the canoe's stern.  The canoe paddles along the wall as far as it can, discovering a yellow buoy floating in the water.  Party determines that they need to paddle around without rope holding them back.  A 13' long albino catfish circles the canoe on the way back but swims away as it reaches the stairs

Trip 2 - Canoe goes a bit farther, finds a rocky shore to the south, where the map had a symbol they thought was a windmill.  Pai Mei and Father Conan O'Brien disembark.  Rufus sees their torchlight from the stairs and blinks over.  Flounder-like bioluminescent dungeon sharks follow Nvaran the thief in his canoe back to the stairs, where they attack briefly before being swept down into the dungeon by the currents

Trip 3 - Kalimar and Doctor Who are ferried to the southern shore.  9' long bioluminescent squid trail the canoe.  Nvaran also gets out to help explore the southern shore.

The party on the southern shore followed the cave wall, and found an opening leading into a second cave, where three rock cairns were piled up (8' long, 4' wide, 3' high).  Wooden markers had been placed onto the cairns, with strange glyphs carved onto them.  They turned around to head back to shore, and saw a faint yellow light off to the east.  Walking back to the shore, some larger shape eclipsed the yellow light from view.  Rufus blinked back and forth to the stairs, relaying details to the reluctant Gutboy and Rolf.

The party then headed towards the yellow light.  It turns out it was a glowing yellow crystal skull, mounted into a niche in the southernmost of four large pillars.  The pillars curved inwards, and supported a great stone circle from bronze chains.  The circle was 12' wide, and suspended 10' above the floor.  The air within the stone circle shimmered.  A separate stone stairway led up to the circle.

To the south of the circle stood two rough shacks, nailed together from old planks.  A quick examination revealed old cots and crates labeled in unknown glyphs, containing what looked like moldy old rations.

Father Conan headed up to the circle and dropped some stones through the circle.  As expected, they disappeared.  He then stuck his head through - it too disappeared from view.  He stood back up, his head returned as he withdrew from the shimmering air, and reported seeing a land covered in purple vegetation, with an indescribable sky.

Kalimar knotted a rope and dropped it through the portal, and then climbed down.  Once through, he found himself standing upon a rocky hill, next to a nearly identical set of four pillars and stone ring - the only difference being that there was no niche or yellow skull.  The hill was surrounded by a purple jungle, with jagged peaks visible in the distance, and the remains of an ancient road a few miles away.  Hanging in the sky was a massive gas giant, with a wide vertical ring around it.  Above the opposite horizon was a tiny red sun.

Kalimar climbed back up the rope and reported his findings.  Rufus then blinked away to inform Rolf and Gutboy on the stairs, and they decided they should head over.  More blinking and messaging ensued, and Nvaran paddled his canoe one last fatal trip back.

100' from the stairs, seven serpents emerged from the water around the canoe.  Trezgar tried another sleep incantation, to no avail - Rolf fired his plasma rifle, missing - and Gutboy let loose with a burst from his machine gun, the recoil forcing the barrel up and causing bullets to ricochet off the ceiling high above.  The serpents descended on the helpless thief and tore him into five bite-sized chunks, holing the canoe in the process.  The sated serpents then sank beneath the surface of the lake.

With no way back, a certain amount of panic ensued.  Rufus was used as a go-between, and the stranded half of the party decided to tear open the rock cairns and see if something useful could be found.  The first cairn torn open revealed the woody corpse of a dried cactus-man, covered with horrific wounds.  The second cairn had a crate, containing a plain-looking sword with a red button on its hilt (claimed by Kalimar), a golden statuette of a cod-man lifting a barbell, and a goblin head preserved in a jar of formaldehyde.  The third cairn contained a blue human skeleton.  They also removed the yellow skull from the niche as a precaution, and briefly experimented with the green crystal skull they had been carrying (nothing but sparks when placed in the niche).

Out of options, the party decided to build a raft from the two rough shacks.  They easily disassembled the poorly built structures, and with Kalimar's wilderness experience were able to build a sturdy 10' by 20' raft, with a door as a rudder.  They paddled this with planks towards the head of the stairs - an easy task considering the current was dragging them there anyways.

As they neared the stairs, all but Kalimar were surprised by the splashing and flapping of a school of giant flying vampiric piranha.  One of the creatures bit into Conan and began taking its blood meal - Kalimar swung with his sword, depressing the red button as he hit the fish.  High voltage electricity surged down the blade, electrocuting both the fish and Conan, leaving the fish still feeding and Conan sprawled unconscious on the raft.

As the party recovered from the shock of battle, more fish flung themselves at Conan, and he was drained white within seconds.  Another fish landed itself upon Pai Mei's neck, bringing the wizard to his knees.  At this point, the raft had drifted within range of Rolf and Gutboy's weapons, and they, along with the survivors on the raft, were able to kill off the vicious fish.  Gutboy used his healing magic to restore vigor to Pai Mei, but poor Father Conan was beyond human help.

The party decided they'd had enough, and decided to return to Denethix with their loot.  Gutboy paused at the lair of the cod-men, and incautiously showed the golden statue of a cod-man lifting a barbell to Chief Pyceen.

Gutboy:  "Do you know anything about this?"
Pyceen:  "Yes!  That's mine!"
Gutboy:  "What? No, I mean do you know if it does something..."
Pyceen:  "It's mine.  I dropped it."
Gutboy:  "No you didn't.  We found it out by the lake."
Pyceen:  "It's sacred!  That is very sacred to our people!  Give it to me!"
Other cod-man:  "What is it"  "Oh, sacred, yeah, sacred."

Gutboy counted the cod-men surrounding them, did some mental math, and grudgingly handed Pyceen the statue.  Perhaps strains are beginning to form between the Mongos and the Cod-Men...

Once back at Denethix, Trezgar began the hard work of identifying the arcane properties of the remaining loot.  The galvanic sword was not magic in its own right, but had a small store of power - enough for five more electrical attacks.  Kalimar resolved to find a way to recharge his new toy.   Trezgar also investigated the yellow crystal skull - its magic was not readily identifiable, but was instead linked to the dungeon beneath Mt. Rendon.  The goblin head in a jar was a worthless and grisly non-magical specimen.

The colored crystals from the cans of the hinge-headed proved a different story.

Trezgar:  "Unbelievable!  The arcane matrices - the hyperstructures - they seek to look back into me!  The crystals are intelligent!"
Blue Crystal:  "Yes, fool!  You have stolen the minds of the Hinge-Headed, and you will pay!  Return us immediately!"
Gutboy:  "They talk?"
Blue:  "Oh, we talk.  We command!  Return us, or your torments shall be legendary!"
Rolf:  "Maybe ransom them"
Gutboy:  "Or smash them"
Purple:  "No!  We are worth valuable ransoms!  Our people will pay gladly!"
Blue:  "Smash the green one!"
Green:  "Hey!"

Gains:  Galvanic sword, three minds of the Hinge-Headed, goblin head in a jar, two more screw-off statue faces
Kills:  Three hinge-headed bodies, 5 Neanderthals, 6 giant flying vampiric piranha
Losses:  Nvaran Azimuth the Thief and his noose of not-breathing, Father Conan O'Brien, the golden statue of a cod-man lifting a barbell


Bottle City!

The new printing of Bottle City from Rob Kuntz & Black Blade Publishing showed up today:

I've looked at it for about 30 seconds.  Kind of funky layout, lots of commentary sections peppered throughout the book.  Lots of unkeyed rooms too.  I'll figure it all out after I go through it in more detail, I'm sure.  There's an early "errata" section where they note corrections to various things, including the map.

So there's some value being placed on this as a historical document over use (where the errata would be integrated, map corrected, etc).  Haven't gone through it in any serious way yet so I don't know how that might impact actually running it.  My players are a bit too low a level right now anyhow.


session recap, 5/18/2014

Gutboy the Cleric (6), his henchpeople Trezgar the Elf (3) and Bunny the Thief (3), and his blink dog Rufus II
Pai Mei the Wu-Jen (4), and his henchmen "The Doctor" the Time Lord (2) and Father Conan O'Brien the Barbarian Cleric (2)
Simon the Halfling (3), and his henchmen the Unnamed Mariner (2) and Roger the Halfling Guardian (2)

Too many henchmen failed abysmally at living during the last expedition to the Anomalous Subsurface Environment, so the recruiting began anew.  Fortunately, there are plenty of veterans of the Great Zombie War now looking for profitable and violent employment.  The interview process went something like this:

Various "Oriental Adventures" type classes from Dragon Magazine: "Never mind, we withdraw our application, we're too complicated too run"
Father Conan O'Brien: "Ever hear of a Barbarian Cleric?  You have now!  Look, sword!  Let's do some prayin' and killin'!"
Roger the Halfling Guardian: "Why, cousin Simon, I never thought to meet you here!  Of course I'll guard you as you crawl through a stinking hole of death! It's my job!"

Then, plans were made - silver bullets and weapons were acquired in abundance to deal with the Werewolf Frat Party, and a canoe was also purchased, for subterranean paddling.  And off to the dungeon, and through the still-friendly Lair of the Cod People.

Cod-Man: "What's that thing you're carrying?"
Pai Mei:  "It's a boat, so we can cross that lake"
Cod-Man:  "Why don't you just swim?"
Pai Mei (pointing at neck):  "No gills"
Cod-Man:  "HAHAHA!  Well, try not to DROWN in your BOAT! HAHAHA!"
Cod-Man #2:  "Good luck breathing, Mr. I-Need-Air!"

The cod-man chief exhorted them once again to murder the Hinge-Headed - empty promises were made, and the party headed back to the Tomb of Elvis.  They passed the last of the Toothmen, and gave him the promised mushroom pie - "THIS IS AWESOME!  I love you guys!  Seriously!" - and down they went to the tomb.

They reconnoitered the area, and found that the door that Pai Mei had wizard locked had a hole clawed through it - and beyond was an unconscious, presumably inebriated, presumably werewolfian, naked man.  Father Conan was sent in to slit his throat with a silver sword - and the werewolf gurgled his last.

The group then turned their attention to the Tomb of Elvis.  They arranged themselves carefully to deal maximum damage to the smoke chimps, and prodded the canopic jars with a 20' long pole.  The smoke chimps arose, and were slaughtered, controlled by Bunny through the use of the Sword of Unlife, and repelled by Gutboy's nihilistic non-faith.  Once the area was clear, Father Conan slid the lid off the sarcophagus, revealing a mummified corpse with a brittle pompadour atop its head, a gold amulet around its neck, and dog-headed golden staff clutched in its hands.  All three were absconded with, and the triumphant party headed back to town ("Oh, cod-men, yeah, we need a second canoe.  THEN we'll get those hinge-headed. You can totally trust us.")   The party briefly engaged with a 20' tall giant grub that reared up from the corn-fields around Chelmsfordshire, and slew it without breaking a sweat.

Once in town, Trezgar studied his ancient magics of identification, and probed the mysteries of the tomb-loot. The pompadour ripped from the mummy's head gave its wearer the power to charm an onlooker with a sneer and thrust of the hip.  Striking an opponent with the dog-headed staff would both damage with its magical puissance, and likely turn the victim into nothin' but a hound dog, barkin' all the time.  The amulet was just an expensive bit of jewelry, promptly sold off.

All thoughts of canoes were then discarded - Gutboy was hot to take control of the BAGGER 288 with the remote control device he had installed.  He first approach his patron Davrik Lerdingfast about assisting them:

Gutboy: "It's time to take control of the BAGGER 288, but we need a little assistance.  He who controls this will control... well... everything!  I believe agreed on one million gold for delivering it to you."
Davrik:  "Yes... I had and do agree... but I'm coming with you.  Meet me on the Street of Lesser Men tomorrow morning, west side of the city.  I'll have my men prepare the expedition immediately."

The morning arrived, and Davrik had not skimped on his preparations.  He had a dozen outriders mounted on horses, two iguanadons loaded with supplies and a half-dozen wranglers to lead them, and he himself sat behind the wheel of an ancient convertible Lincoln, with bull's horns mounted to the grill.  Another half-dozen manservants and butlers, and Professor Smithen from the Academy, were also in the retinue.

Gutboy: "Oh... hey.... can we borrow some horses?"
Davrik (disgusted):  "Seriously?  You don't have horses?  Very well, I'll send my man for some.  But really."

Another hour delay, and more horses were brought for the party.  The expedition rode west for several days, past Mt. Rendon and the megadungeon beneath, until they came close to the blast-zone where the globe-shaped alien ship had been destroyed.  Davrik directed:  "We'll head southwest through the woods until we hit the remains of the green moon.  We should be able to pick up the tracks of the machine there."  The car was left with a few riflemen to guard it, and a howdah erected atop one of the iguanadons for Davrik to ride in.

As the expedition headed closer to the blast zone, the vegetation began to take on a sickly green glow.  As they struck camp, Davrik headed off with half his outriders to do some hunting, while the party twiddled their thumbs with the servants.  As they waited for Davrik's return, five mutant deer burst into the camp, glowing bright green, and bearing razor-sharp antlers, fangs, and curved claws instead of hooves.  The party handily took down the deer that charged them, and then assisted the outriders with the remainder.

Davrik soon returned, bearing several mutant deer carcasses of his own.

Davrik (to manservant):  "You!  Skin these things!  We're going to eat well tonight!"
Gutboy:  "I don't think that's wise.  These are radioactive!  It's poisonous!"
Davrik (revealing amulet making rapid clicking noise beneath his shirt):  "Yeah I know, this amulet from the Scientists tells me the same!  Don't worry, it'll protect us!"
Gutboy:  "I don't think that's how it works.  That's poison.  But you could perhaps make trophies and give them to your enemies."
Davrik:  "Fine.   You there!  Cut the heads off these things and wrap them up!"

The reached the blast zone without further danger - although the squirrels chasing along in the trees were also glowing bright green with nasty little fangs.  The blast zone was a two-mile-wide crater of glowing green glass.  Across the crater they could see a quarter mile trail where the BAGGER 288 had cut its way through the forest, heading north.  Gutboy insisted on riding around the edge of the crater instead of crossing it - passing, as they did so, an intact fragment of the alien spaceship, with a closed hatch, which was resoundingly ignored - and followed the trail into the plains north of the forest.  The trail cut across the road again, and led to the smoking stump of a wizard's tower.  Clearly, the BAGGER 288 had not been idle.

A day later, they saw smoke in the distance, and the bulk of the BAGGER 288. Davrik pulled out his binoculars, glanced through, and handed them to Gutboy and the rest of the party.  Looking through, they saw the BAGGER 288, and horrifyingly, at least 100 skeletal-looking robots carrying lasers.  The BAGGER and robot army were approaching a windowless tower of black basalt, the concentrated laser fire barely scarring its surface.

Gutboy hatched a plan.  He put the remote control device in Rufus' mouth, tied his ring of invisibility to Rufus' tail, and then slid it over the end of the dog's wagging tail.  The invisible Rufus then blinked forward towards the BAGGER 288 and bit down on the remote control - but nothing happened.

Gutboy yelled at Smithen - "Why didn't that work?"  Smithen took a look through the binoculars - the antenna they had left on the exterior of the BAGGER 288 was gone.   Gutboy surmised that the antenna had been destroyed in the nuclear blast when the alien ship exploded.

Gutboy watched more through the binoculars as the BAGGER 288 closed on the tower.  Its giant cutting wheel easily sliced through the base of the black tower, and the edifice collapsed in a heap.  Black shadows oozed from the rubble and rushed along the ground towards the robots, but laser fire from the ground troops eliminated the shadow-things before they struck a single blow.  Gutboy then started in alarm, as he saw a score or so of the robots turn and begin marching towards him and the rest of the expedition.  "Time to go!" he shouted, and they turned south.  The robots quickly gave up pursuit, and the expedition, after a further week's travel, finally returned to Denethix.

Davrik:  "Well, that was an unmitigated disaster.  I could've been hunting on the Ceratopsian.  Absolute waste of time."
Gutboy:  "Well, you got those deer heads..."
Davrik:  "Fat lot of good!  Look at them!"

Davrik opened the trunk of his car, revealing a pile of rotting, glowing deer heads.  They were clearly unsalvageable and completely unsuitable for display.  He had his men dump the radioactive remains in the middle of the street, and angrily drove off, leaving a crowd of beggars fighting over the poisonous, meaty head-scraps.

Gains:  Was-Hound Staff, 2500 gp gold amulet, Wig of Lordship
Kills:  One werewolf, four canopic apes, one ankheg, five radioactive deer
Losses:  Shockingly, none


session recap, 4/26/2014

Pai Mei the Wu-Jen (4), and his henchpeople Barbara the Scientist (2), "The Doctor" the Time Lord (2), and "Crusty" Tim the Fighter (2)
Simon the Halfling (3), and his henchbeings BW-5891 the Robot (2) and an Unnamed Mariner (2)
A Dwarf (3), and his henchmen Nvaran Azimuth the Thief (2) and Piston Honda the Sumo (2)

[editor's note - a character sheet went home with a player. The dwarf's name is thus forgotten]

A dwarf, a halfling, and a wu-jen go into a bar.  What better place to find idiots willing to sacrifice life and limb for a half-share of the loot?  Only the drunk and desperate need apply.  The interview process went something like this:

Geisha to Simon:  "My eyes are up here, you little bastard!" (slap)
Geisha to Dwarf: "I don't even need a reason to slap you." (slap)
Pai Mei to Randolph Carter the Dreamer: "So, where are you from, and what do you bring to the table?"
Randolph Carter: "I have been trapped here in this land of slumber, unable to awaken. I bring the lucidity and clarity of dreams!"
Pai Mei: "NEXT"
Dwarf to one-footed thief:  "Pass."
One-footed thief: "Discrimination!"
Simon to Unnamed Mariner:  "And what can you do for us?"
Unnamed Mariner: "I bring the knowledge of the sea! Endless ways to apply that to dungeoneering, cap'n!"
Simon (eyeing the other pitiful dregs looking for work):  "Close enough. Hired!"
Pai Mei to guy in long overcoat and crazy-long scarf: "All right, what's your story?"
The Doctor: "You can call me the Doctor.  I'm trapped in this temporal zone, but not even the local tachyon atmosphere can entirely diminish my perceptions."
Pai Mei: "Hired!"
Nvaran Azimuth to Dwarf: "Sure, I can go underground, no problem - just get me out of the city! The Fist knows my face!"
Dwarf to Nvaran Azimuth the not-handicapped-thief: "Hired!"

Disappointed with the quality of henchmen, the party began a pub crawl looking for more. Pickings were slim, as press gangs had rounded up most everyone for the just-ended Great Zombie War.  They did discover a robot, a scientist busy scrubbing it's bearings, and an old man in plate mail.

Barbara the Scientist to Simon:  "You disgust me!"
BW-5891 the Robot to Simon: "I LOVE YOU!"
"Crusty" Tim the nonagenarian Fighter to Pai Mei: "I like the cut of your jib, sonny! I'll be dead soon anyway, let's go!"

The bizarre crew headed off to the dungeon, passing through the burned wreckage of Chelmsfordshire.  A city official tutted as them they passed, and remarked to one of the Unyielding Fist accompanying him, "We need to rebuild this place double-time.  Look, revenue just walking away!"

While camped overnight, a moaning was heard - three zombie Moktars, undoubtedly victims of the war, shambled into their camp.  The fight was brief, but "Crusty" Tim took a hit to the noggin and was knocked out cold.  Unwilling to enter the dungeon so weakened, the party headed back to Denethix to wait for "Crusty" Tim to recover from his wound.  Nvaran put a burlap bag over his head, and told the Dwarf to tell anyone who asked that he was just a slave.

A week passes - "Crusty" Tim is as ready as he'll ever be - and back to the dungeon they go, this time uneventfully.  Once inside, the party decides to revisit a chamber with a balcony overlooking a swirling pool of water - but are stopped on the way by a pair of charred corpses.  As the corpses take wounds, jets of flame shoot from the hot coals within their bodies. The burning corpses crush "Crusty" Tim's ancient bones and tear apart BW-5891's hydraulics before they are laid to rest.

With no medical assistance available ("Barbara - can you help Tim? You're a scientist!"  "No way, he's all sticky! Disgusting!"), Tim bleeds out.  The robot is too heavy to drag around, so Barbara attempted to remove its head, to be attached to another body at a later date.  Sadly, she didn't pay much attention in her robotics class, and the machine's lithium battery pack bursts into flames as the light in its eyes faded away.  The robot's last words were, "I... LOVE.... YOU...." to its beloved master.

There is no place for sentimentality in the dungeon, though, and the party continued on to the whirlpool room.  Pai Mei, expecting great things from Simon's unnamed Mariner, demanded to know what could cause such aquatic phenomena.  The Mariner thought for a bit, and exclaimed "Oh yeah, I've seen that before!  That's how toilets swirl around!"  This epiphany did not convince Pai Mei.

And deeper into the dungeon - past the Cod Men, who apparently blamed the Hinge-Headed for the looting of their temple, and demanded that the party go forth and slay the can-headed invaders.  The party smiled politely and agreed, but the Cod-Men were unwilling to send any of their own to aid this effort.  After their fishy allies were out of earshot, the party decided to head down to the 4th level in search of gold, instead.

Down they went, past Bathakrog the Last of the Toothmen, past the laser trap, and down to the 4th level.  They opened a secret door, discovering a large chamber with a walled central portion - the walls entirely covered with murals of crowds of people adoring a beloved king with a pompadour and a sneer.  Two bas reliefs at either end of the walled central portion depicted the king's face - the party pressed on all four eyes simultaneously, and the sneering faces slid upwards, revealing entrances into a secret tomb.

Within the tomb was a sarcophagus surrounded by eight canopic jars, with the lids carved into ape faces and covered with gold leaf.  Pai Mei sent Barbara in to investigate - she picked up a jar, and its lid flew off - as did the lids from the rest of the jars.  Clouds of smoke and ash flew out, coalescing into angry floating smoke-chimps.  Barbara dropped the jar and tried to flee, and the party took some pot-shots at one of the chimps - the arrows split its belly open, revealing red-hot charcoal intestines.  The chimp disemboweled itself and used its flaming intestines to lasso Barbara's neck and haul her back into the room, where the ash apes rended her limb from limb.

In a panic, the party fled back through the secret door and slid it closed.  The smoke chimps had no idea how to open it, and eventually the noise from the other side died down.  Piston Honda slid the door open, and saw that the chamber was deserted.  The party looked into the tomb again, and all the jars were closed except for the broken one, whose shards were covered with a pile of ash.  They cautiously pulled the sneering faces back down over the openings, and decided to investigate some of the other doors leading out of the outer chamber.

They heard the noises of a party coming from beyond a pair of large double doors (shouts of "Chug! Chug!" and voices drunkenly singing "Louie Louie") - Piston Honda peaked behind the doors, and reported that a half dozen werewolves or so were getting wasted.  They carefully closed that door, and investigated another.  Piston Honda peaked in, and saw four naked men among a pile of furs, refuse, and their own excrement.  One of them yanked open the door, saying "Well, don't you just look delicious."

Simon was not fooled by their innuendo, and suspected cannibalistic werewolfism rather than an invitation to hook up - he put his theory to the test with a silver bullet through the closest man.  "Dammit! They got silver!" the man shouted, as Piston Honda yanked the door closed.  Pai Mei then rattled off a powerful incantation to lock the door in place.  The werewolves behind screamed and battered at the door, but the party down the hall was too loud for them to be heard.

The group realized they only had 3 silver bullets left, and were woefully unprepared for a fight with werewolves.  They headed back up to the third level, investigated a subterranean lake on their map and realized they didn't have a boat either, and then gave up and returned to town, vowing to be better prepared with silver weapons and/or boats on their next visit.

Gains:  Absolutely none
Kills:  Three moktar zombies, two charred zombies
Losses:  BW-5891 the Robot, Barbara the Scientist, "Crusty" Time the Fighter


Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone!

Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.  The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

John 12:23-25


session recap, 3/13/2014

Gutboy the Cleric (6), his henchpeople Trezgar the Elf (3) and Bunny the Thief (3), and his blink dog Rufus II
Pai Mei the Wu-Jen (4)

As Gutboy and his retinue considered the cave entrance, the bag man lowered himself into it.  They then heard a commotion from behind - Pai Mei was hurriedly descending to the bottom of Southdeep, shouting "Sorry I'm late, just got back from my Pilates class!"

A "clang" was heard from beneath cave/pit as the party debated who should go first.  Finally, Pai Mei agreed, ropes were lowered, and the descent was made.

The entrance to the cave was a 20' wide hole in the ground, and descended into an 80' wide space dug out of the dirt.  A tall heap of trash and refuse from the town above came to within 10' of the entrance - Pai Mei lowered himself onto the pile and clambered down to the bottom, the rest of the party following after.

The floor of the cave was, strangely enough, made of riveted steel, and had a trapdoor in it.  Two tunnels were dug into the dirt walls of the cave as well - one leading west, and another southeast.

They first opened the trapdoor, revealing a chamber with a conveyor belt running along its floor.  It was too dark to see the walls of the chamber.  The prospect of belts and conveying was deemed too dangerous, and the duo decided to head down the dirt tunnel to the southeast, bravely sending in the robot ZN547 ahead of them.

The narrow tunnel meandered some 800' through the dirt, and ended at the entrance to a steel tunnel, heading back roughly north.  The steel tunnel was lined with girders, holding back the earth, and the "floor" of the tunnel was a series of metal buckets stretching off into the distance, their openings pointing south towards the party.  Pai Mei deduced that this was the talings-disposal section of the BAGGER 288, and once again their wariness of automated conveyances led them to abandon this entrance to the great machine.

They returned to the main cavern, and then followed the west tunnel.  This tunnel spiraled downwards, opening into another dirt cavern, the floor littered with ancient bones and skulls, and the north wall occupied by massive vertical treads.  There was another small tunnel high up on the north wall, above one of the treads.

Once again, the party bravely sent the battle bot ZN547 into the tunnel above - as it clambered up, there was a disturbance in the bones.  A massive earthworm, 6' in diameter, reared up from beneath the bones and sped at top earthworm speed towards its prey.

Arrows flew, and Trezgar expended a sleep spell to no effect - and the earthworm descended upon the grad student Sally, gulping her down whole.  More arrows were shot into the beast, the battle-bot descended to impale the worm with its drill-hand, and Gutboy unloaded a full clip from his newly-purchased machine gun into the beast.  The violence finally overcame the worm, tearing it open vertically, and the bullet-ridden corpse of Sally slid out of its ruptured gullet.

With admirable practicality, Gutboy kicked Sally's body aside and began inventorying the contents of the worm's digestive tract.  He managed to extract 76 gold coins of ancient and unknown provenance, the faces and writing stamped upon them unfamiliar.

Their mercenary instincts sated, the party climbed up the giant treads and crawled down the narrow tunnel, getting much smaller earthworms tangled in their hair.  This tunnel opened up into a third dirt cavern after a short distance, the east wall being made of steel.  A metal stairway emerged from the dirt and ran up to a door in the steel wall.  ZN547 opened the door, and instantly the sound of heavy machine gun fire was heard, and the battle bot staggered back under a hail of bullets. Pai Mei shouted "A trap! Destroy it!" at the robot, and it obediently passed through the door - loud banging and crashing - and returned with a mangled machine gun on a tripod, a metal wire running from its trigger to the door's handle.  "THREAT ELIMINATED!" announced the damaged robot, as Pai Mei considered that he may have been too hasty in ordering the destruction of the trap.

The party began pouring into the BAGGER 288 (for surely this door must lead into its interior).  Inside they faced a massive turbine, 20' high, its ends disappearing into the darkness - and then, laser-fueled violence!  Four robots were waiting in ambush, and opened up with their laser-equipped arms, catching the party in a crossfire.  ZN547 and Bob the grad student were lacerated under the burning beams of light, and Larry the grad student's nerve broke - he ran back into the dirt cavern, screaming that the extra credit just wasn't worth this kind of risk.

While the party may have been outgunned and surprised, they were not without resources - Trezgar used his sleep magic to put two of the attacking robots out of commission, and Gutboy's paralyzing incantations locked up the third's positronic circuits.  A hail of arrows finished off the remaining robot, its hydraulic lines severed and reducing it to immobility.

Professor Smithen began yanking microchips from the felled robots, and Gutboy set himself to work ripping their laser-equipped arms off at the shoulder.  They then began exploring the turbine chamber, finding a ladder and trapdoor leading upwards.  Gutboy convinced Smithen to order his assistant Michael to climb the ladder and open the trapdoor -  he did so, and then quickly backed down the ladder, shouting "Robots! Robots!"

Pai Mei borrowed Gutboy's 20' extending pole (once Mongo's), put the deceased grad student Bob's pork pie hat on top, and stuck the pole up the hatch.  The pole jerked, and Pai Mei pulled back a shorter 15' pole - it had been sheared off.  Gutboy then put on his ring of invisibility and climbed the ladder to reconnoiter - he found that three welding robots were watching over the hatch, waiting for the party.

A plan was hatched - Gutboy climbed up again, invisibly, and then Pai Mei followed up the ladder.  Just as Pai Mei reached the top, Rufus blinked into the room, and both the dog and Gutboy assailed the wayward welding machines.  Pai Mei clambered into the room so that Trezgar could get a shot off with his boy - but one of the robots shoved its welding torch into Pai Mei's face, burning off his luxurious eyebrows.  No longer would he be considered the dandy of the Secret City of the Shoguns.

With the robots already badly damaged by the sneak attack, and Pai Mei's magic missiles decimating them, the battle was over quickly.  The party moved deeper into BAGGER 288, finding a broom closet, a locked room, and a lead door with radiation warning on it.  Then, surprisingly quickly, they stumbled into the control room of the Destroyer of Worlds - clearly the back exit was the best way in.  A hairless, sore-covered gorilla stood in the middle of the room, with cables hanging from the ceiling jammed into its flesh.

The gorilla's rolled back in its head, and it shouted "You!  You have come to awaken the Beast!  All is lost!"  Gutboy ignored the screaming gorilla and headed to one of the control stations, eager to plug in the USB stick that would activate the evil machine.  The gorilla wasn't down with that, and began slapping Gutboy furiously about the neck and face.  With his bag-men compatriots somewhere above, the wired gorilla was quickly dispatched.

Gutboy plugged in the USB stick, and the banks of long-dormant monitors began to light up.  A feminine voice announced "Initializing systems.  Reboot required." as the BAGGER 288's turbines began to turn.  Gutboy quickly ordered Professor Smithen to connect his override aparatus, and then the Professor and his assistant ran out of the room, dragging the antenna cable behind them, as they had to mount it outside the door to the BAGGER 288.  Gutboy and Pai Mei then did some quick mental math, and realized that staying inside the living machine, Destroyer of Worlds, Harbinger of the End, was probably suicidal, and ran after the Professor.

As they exited the machine, they noticed clumps of dirt falling from the ceiling of the caves - the tunnels were going to collapse.  They rushed through as fast as they could, the ceiling collapsing behind them.  As they reached the top of the BAGGER 288 and the hole leading up to Southdeep, they found that five bag men were waiting for them.  "It is them!  They have awoken it!" shouted the angry gorillas.

"No time!" should Gutboy back.  "We'll all die if we fight!"  The gorillas apparently agreed, and clambered up the pile of Southdeep's garbage and up out of the hole, followed by the party.  The people of Southdeep stared out their windows as the party wound their way up and out of the quaking pit.  Only when they reached the top did Gutboy shout "You have to run!" down at the inhabitants - just in time to see the pit collapse, burying the hapless villagers.

Having escaped being buried alive, the bag men then began beating their chests and charged Gutboy.  Trezgar still had a sleep incantation available, and most fell to the ground in deep slumber.  The one left awake was slain, and the remaining sleepers had their throats slit.  As they finished their business, a 50' wide saw blade erupted from the earth next to them - apparently they weren't as safe as they thought.  They ran from the blade as the rest of the BAGGER 288 began to dig itself up from the earth.  It trundled off to the west, towards the mile-wide alien spaceship, the flamethrows attached for some reason to its might digging blades and saws setting the forest ablaze.  Clearly the manufacturers of 21st century mining equipment had some important safety questions to answer.

The party made their way back to Denethix, and Gutboy and Pai Mei headed towards Davrik Lerdingfast's mansion.  The butler escorted them to the roof deck, where Davrik stood watching the progress of the BAGGER 288 through one of the many tripod-mounted telescopes that had been brought out for the occasion.

Gutboy looked through one of them, and witnessed the undead horde's futile attempts to stop the machine.  The lasers of the skybike-riding zombies were unable to penetrate the BAGGER 288's armor, and the shells from the ground artillery merely bounced off.  The great blades of the machine scythed mercilessly through the ranks of the dead, and finally the machine reached the glowing green spaceship.  Its giant blades cut through the ship's hull as if it was cardboard, and Gutboy barely had time to glance away as the ship exploded in a massive mushroom cloud.  When the explosion subsided, nothing was left but a vast empty crater - and the BAGGER 288, continuing to crawl off to the west.

Davrik:  "Quite a show!"
Gutboy:  "Yes, and I think I can offer you a deal.  How much would you pay to control that machine?"
Davrik:  "What?  Control it?  Ha, a hundred thousand gold, I suppose."
Gutboy:  "We're very serious, and that's not nearly enough."
Davrik (scowling):  "If you can bring that thing to heel, I can offer you a million and a half.  That's all I have liquid right now."
Gutboy:  "When we disable it, it will be yours.  You'll need to take care reactivating it - we won't reprogram it."
Davrik:  "Get it done, and we'll talk."

Gains:  76 gp, four laser-equipped robot arms
Kills:  Giant earthworm, four battle bots, three welding robots, five bag men, and the bag man oracle, and (indirectly) Ki-Ris, the Duvan'Ku spaceship, and most of the undead army
Losses:  ZN547, Madame Prepin's grad students, the entire village of Southdeep


Ziltoid the Omniscient

So why didn't anybody tell me this existed?  AWESOME.

[EDIT - it is PURCHASED and in my grubby little hands! Hail Ziltoid!]

[hat tip to Wheggi @ K&KA]


Phase Wanderer

Phase Wanderer
No. Enc: 1d4 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120’ (40’)
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 6
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d10 plus grab
Save: MU6
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: VII
XP: 820

Phase wanderers are men and women who, due to their perverse insistence on experimenting with particle colliders, have shifted themselves partially outside of the normal three dimensions. They now exist agelessly and eternally in a world of malevolent shadows, just outside our own.

Phase wanderers appear as shimmering distortions in the air, vaguely humanoid in shape. They surprise opponents on a roll of 1-4 on a d6.

Due to their extra-dimensional nature, phase wanderers are only damaged by gold and magical (including protonium) weapons.

The phase wanderer attacks by clutching at its target. Contact with a phase wanderer is incredibly damaging to creatures more firmly grounded in the three dimensions, and causes 1d10 points of damage. Furthermore, on a successful hit, it has a 50% chance of grabbing hold and dragging its victim out of phase.

While a victim is so clutched, the wanderer will become solid as his victim phases out and becomes translucent. During this temporary transition, the wanderer is back in phase with the normal three dimensional world, and may be damaged by normal weapons. The victim will correspondingly see his surroundings become dim and insubstantial.

The victim will take 2d10 hit points of damage per round while in the shadow dimension as his atomic structure breaks down. A successful “force doors” check will allow the victim to break free of the wanderer. Alternatively, the victim may attempt to slay the phase wanderer, and will have a +1 bonus to hit while clutched

Anyone killed by a phase wanderer will be permanently transposed out of three dimensional space, along with all their belongings (with the exception of protonium metal). The wanderer will go back out of phase once its clutched victim perishes.

Should the phase wanderer be killed before its victim dies, the victim will return to normal three-dimensional space. The wanderer’s corpse (and any belongings it may be carrying) will fully return to normal space as well, although it will be hideously dried and shriveled.


Liquid Loot

Just another trap in the 4th level.  It's an example of my favorite style, the kind the players willingly set off.

8. Liquid Loot
Floating in the center of this room are three rings of blue superconducting metal.  They are nested within each other, and rotate slowly in three dimensions around a 1’ wide sphere of gold. Anyone approaching will feel the heat coming off the rings and the sphere – and in fact the sphere is molten, although that will not be obvious.

Jamming a sword, 10’ pole, or other object into the rings will merely cause them to stop spinning – they will resume once the obstruction is removed. Note that they are powerful magnets, and a successful “force doors” check is required to remove any metal stuck to them.  Further, the heat from the rings will soften most metal and burn wood – each round an item is jammed into the rings, there is a 40% chance it will be ruined.

Approaching the rings with a magnet will cause them to fly apart, doing 1d6 damage to everyone in the room as they ricochet about.

In either case, once the rings stop rotating, the molten gold within will fall to the floor, splashing all within a 10’ radius for 4d6 points of damage (save vs. paralyzation for half damage).

Once outside the rings, the gold will solidify in 1 round, and be cool enough to handle in 2 turns. It will take an additional 2 turns to pry the gold from the floor, if it has splashed all over the room. The total value of the gold present is 6,000 gp.

When nested together, the rings will resist being moved, and will heat any metal in the center to 2000° F.  Apart, they are simply strong magnets. The rings are worth 10 gp apiece if sold separately, and 100 gp if sold together.


Gutboy vs. The Devourer of Worlds

So, the Bagger 288 has been on the list of "things" in the Land of One Thousand Towers for quite a while - see http://henchmanabuse.blogspot.com/2010/12/bagger-288.html

I'm using it as a potential solution for the zombie problem the players unleashed.  Well, not so much a solution, it's just that geography says the zombies are in the way when the players head to the dungeon.  This is a megadungeon campaign, so if they want more dungeon loot, they've got to deal with the mess.  They could also head off in another direction entirely, but they're pretty wary of the dinosaur-haunted wilderness - it wasn't too hard to predict that Gutboy would listen to Wurgol.

Of course, Gutboy is showing an unexpected degree of concern for the people of the world.  If Pai Mei had been able to make it, I think there'd be less planning for the long-term consequences.  Gutboy's contact w/ Professor Smithen does let me introduce the conflict between the Scientists and the Academy though - and Michael's going to force Gutboy to choose sides.

Gutboy is also intent on getting his dog elected to the city council.  There's no way that a freshly-minted citizen could get completely burned dabbling in byzantine Denethix politics, so it's going to be a total win with no downside.  I like his initiative, and Gutboy doesn't yet understand the depth of the corruption in Denethix, so hilarity is bound to ensue.

Finally, that ring of invisibility from Death Frost Doom - it's made me realize that magic items in my campaign are generally really, really obvious.  If something's got powers, it's advertising it.  In a "normal" D&D campaign, a featureless ring would be the instant subject of a detect magic on general principle - but I've managed to train my players into expecting garish and weird treasure, so they tossed it aside without a second thought.  Well, until I crowed about Gutboy tossing aside something valuable, and mocked him with rumors of the Bazaar being robbed blind.  Apparently Gutboy's got access to "locate object" - I was forced to eat my words.  On the plus side, he refused to search the pirate for treasure on two occasions, when the scurvy dog had been on an extended robbery spree - no loot for you, Mr. Gutboy.


session recap, 1/23/2014

Gutboy the Cleric (6), his henchpeople Trezgar the Elf (2) and Bunny the Thief (2), and his blink dog Rufus II

The loot from the both successful and disastrous zombie-hunting expedition had to be sold - and most of it was disposed of at various booths in the Bazaar Incomparable.  The Union of Dermatological Illustrators purchased the glowing tattoo ink for an exorbitant price, the "Down, Out and Deceased" pawn shop bought the plain copper ring for a king's ransom of 1 silver piece, and the usual gem vendors picked up the rest of the loot.  The exception were the cursed dagger and necklace - these were sold to weapons collector and sometime patron Davrik Lerdingfast for a steep discount, as he was intrigued by their "death cult" vibe.

Pai Mei (not present) retained the Purple Lotus Powder, and Gutboy held on to the build-your-own-Frankenstein manual and the Book of Unspeakable Shame (and the loupe required to read them).

A few days later, rumors were circulating in the city of invisible thieves robbing the shops and stalls of the Bazaar Incomparable.  Gutboy put two and two together, traveled to the Bazaar with his crew, and used his divine powers granted by decidedly technological deities to magically locate the ring.  The pinging noise in his head led him to a gaudily dressed seaman, with a peg leg, hook hand, eyepatch, and a parrot atop his shoulder, accompanied by a pair of thugs in striped sailor shirts.  The piratical fellow browsed dozens of stalls and shops before leaving the Bazaar and heading towards an alley.

Gutboy and crew followed quietly, and surprised the trio as the pirate pulled the copper ring out of his pocket and bragged to his men about he was going to rob the Bazaar blind.  Trezgar's somnolent sorcery put them to sleep before they had a chance to react, and Gutboy pocketed the ring.  He returned to his condo, checked that the Glyph of Warding above the door hadn't been triggered, and went inside to experiment with the ring.  Unsurprisingly, his henchmen informed him that he had become invisible upon wearing it.

With the hastily sold magical loot recovered, Gutboy decided to visit the shrine to Nisus for unspecified reasons - perhaps he was feeling a bit nostalgic.  The booth (shared by two other deities) was in bad shape, and someone had defecated upon the floor.  The eye dedicated to Nisus remained dark, but the one next to it, dedicated to Wurgol, god of cutlery and Gutboy's latest orbital patron, became active.  Colors swirled in the frame, and then an image of a fork and spoon atop a table presented itself.

Wurgol:  "Gutboy! We have seen what you did!"
Gutboy:  "Huh? What are you talking about?"
Wurgol:  "We witnessed your rendezvous with the alien craft!  We know this!"
Gutboy:  "Oh, that. That's not my fault!"
Wurgol:  "We do not care.  Access to the mountain must be maintained!  This situation cannot stand!"
Gutboy:  "What mountain?"
Wurgol:  "Mount Rendon!  There are faint signals from within the mountain!  Exploration must not be hindered!  The alien's army of the dead interferes!  It must be destroyed!"
Gutboy:  "What does that have to do with me?"
Wurgol:  "A millenia ago, a great evil was loosed upon the earth.  A hundred thousand men died to silence it, and still could not destroy it.  It sleeps still, but shall awaken.  The devourer of worlds!  The harbinger of the end of days!  The BAGGER 288!  You shall awaken the beast, and it will utterly destroy the invader!"
Gutboy:  "Devourer of worlds?  How are you going to make it go after the alien?"
Wurgol:  "You shall requisition a sacred you-ess-bee stick from the Grand Temple. We shall place instructions upon the sacred stick, and you shall bring it to the heart of the BAGGER 288.  When it awakens, it will take time for its ai eye to come online, and it will follow the instructions we give it in its confusion.  Thus it shall be directed to destroy the invader."
Gutboy:  "If I wake it up, how will we put it back to sleep?"
Wurgol:  "Another hundred thousand shall die in the attempt.  Perhaps more.  It matters not!  Access to the dungeon must be maintained!  A million lives are worth the effort!"
Gutboy:  "What will it do after fighting the alien?"
Wurgol:  "It will begin to devour the world.  It will likely target nearby population centers.  It is entirely possible that it will hunt the wizards in their towers before turning on this city."
Gutboy:  "That doesn't sound like a good plan.  Aren't you supposed to protect the earth?"
Wurgol:  "We exist to preserve the Veil between the dimensions.  The BAGGER 288 is of this earth.  It is not in our mission parameters to prevent it from waking."
Gutboy:  "Isn't there another way?"
Wurgol:  "We have spoken!  It is not for mortals to question us!  You will retrieve the sacred stick and return here so that it may be programmed!  The BAGGER 288 is buried beneath the village called Southdeep, south of Denethix.  You shall go there and awaken it!"

The screen went black, and Gutboy headed to the Grand Temple to fetch the USB stick, despite his reservations about waking up a machine capable of destroying the world.  At the temple, he was promptly handed a stick by an attendant - due to some confusion about Wurgol's instructions, a meeting with Lunexia, clad in naught but a gold lobster mask and claws, was held, and discussions about the proper use of USB sticks were had - and then Gutboy headed back to the booth.  The God's Eye lit up briefly, a green light flickered on the USB stick, and the programming was done.

Gutboy had no desire to meet the BAGGER 288 with only his henchmen and loyal dog Rufus, and headed to the Academy of Enlightened Thought to discuss the situation with Madame Prepin.

Prepin:  "Gutboy!  Look, I can't pay you yet - if anyone finds out that we caused this war, we'll be strung up.  I think I've got a plan though - you can pretend to go on an expedition to capture Goonies from the battlefields, and then come back as heroes.  Nobody will know that we got the zombies earlier."
Gutboy:  "I've got a better idea - you come with us.  You need to run this."
Prepin:  "Fine."
Gutboy:  "There's another problem.   There's a machine that will destroy the alien, and the whole world, that I've got to wake up.  Is that something you're interested in studying?"
Prepin:  "Look, I'm a professor of astrophysics, and now necrotronics.  That's not my field."
Gutboy:  "Is there anybody in the university who knows about this stuff?"
Prepin:  "Are you kidding?  They're all close-minded bigots and hypocrites!  Nobody else has even the slightest degree of competence.  I wouldn't let them study one of my bunions."
Gutboy:  "Fine.  Can I get some grad students then?"
Prepin:  "All right, but I'm running low here.  You three!  You're doing some field work with Gutboy here.  Yes, it WILL be graded.  Get to it, and no complaining!"

Gutboy equipped the three grad students with leather armor and shields, and then headed to Davrik Lerdingfast's manse to request an appointment.  His manservant informed him it would be a few hours, so Gutboy cooled his heels at a nearby inn until he could see the wealthy weapons collector.  He returned at the appointed time, and was admitted inside.

Gutboy:  "Good to see you!  That giant tank in the swamp - we got a chance to go take a look.  Unfortunately, it's immobile, and there's no way drag something that big out."
Davrik:  "Damn shame, that.  Well, thanks for taking a look."
Gutboy:  "There's something else that might interest you - I've been given a mission to awaken a giant killing machine to fight the alien ship."
Davrik:  "Big, ey?  How big?  Will I be able to see the battle from the roof terrace?"
Gutboy:  "Enormous.  The BAGGER 288 - have you heard of it?  Big enough to destroy cities!"
Davrik:  "Can't say I have.  Thanks for the tip though - I'll have my man alert me when the fight starts so I can get a good view."
Gutboy:  "Can you lend me a few men for the expedition to awaken it?"
Davrik:  "Ahh, I would, dear Gutboy, but unfortunately I've sent most of them down to the Wastes on a beetle-hunting expedition.  There's money to be had in beetle paste, what with the war and all."
Gutboy:  "Oh.  You know anyone else who might be able to help with a giant war machine?"
Davrik:  "Yes. There's a fellow I sponsor in the Academy who might be keen to help.  His name is Dr. Frank Smithen, he does work for the Fist sometimes, helping them build the Steel Leviathans."

Davrik wrote a letter of introduction, and Gutboy was off to the Academy.  He presented the letter, and was ushered into a lab,w here Professor Smithen and his assistant Michael Sauralus were working on an 8' tall battle-bot.

Smithen:  "A friend of Davrik's, ey?  Always glad to be of assistance!"
Gutboy:  "I'm on a mission to awaken a gigantic machine, the BAGGER 288.  It's buried under Southdeep.  When it awakens, this stick here has a program to make it attack the alien - but then it will destroy the world.  What I need is a way to turn it off after it's killed the alien."
Smithen:  "Hmm.  I see.  Something on a timer then.  How long will the right take, do you think?"
Gutboy:  "Maybe a remote control instead?"
Smithen:  "Excellent suggestion.  We'll need to run an antenna up onto its hull though.  Still, it can be done!  Michael, get cracking - we need a remote made up!"
Gutboy:  "Do you think the Scientists can help?"
Smithen:  "Those superstitious imbeciles?  Ha!  That pack of fools don't know the first thing about the design of robotics.  Nothing but rote memorization there.  No, they won't be any use at all."

(at this point Gutboy notices Michael glaring angrily at Smithen)

Gutboy:  "Do you have any grad students who could come along?  I have some from Madame Prepin..."
Smithen:  "Prepin?  The harridan from astrophysics?  Ridiculous!  What use could her grad students possibly be?  They're barely capable of tying their own shoes!  I suppose if you got lost in the woods you could always eat them.  Can't see any other use!   No, no, and for a project like this, it needs a personal touch.  Michael and I shall come along ourselves."
Gutboy:  "Will you need any armor or weapons?"
Smithen:  "Nonsense!  We're just going to Southdeep.  We can fire up this battle-bot here anyhow.  Michael, get a move on!"
Gutboy:  "Say, can you have Michael get us some tea?"
Smithen:  "You heard the man, Michael!  Tea!"

(after Michael leaves)  Gutboy:  "You know, I think he's with the Scientists."
Smithen:  "What? Michael?  Absurd!  He's been working me for years!"
Gutboy:  "Ok.  Well, meet us at the Grand Temple tomorrow, and we'll head to Southdeep."

After tea, Gutboy headed off to his last stop - the Palais Public.  He stopped at the city clerk's desk, to inquire about how one would go about running for office as an Exalted and Chosen Brother.

Simon Lewis (the clerk):  "Well, you don't just go and run, see.  It's incredibly rude to run against an existing Brother.  Just isn't seemly!"
Gutboy:  "...because Rufus here is really interested in public office..."
Simon:  "Well.  Connections can be made.  Introductions.  You know.  It's possible, should there be an unexpected opening.  Then there'd be a vote, and if you knew the right men, well, you know how elections are."
Gutboy:  "Right!  That's what we need!  Just send us to these men, and we'll be on our way!"
Simon:  "Well, it's not that simple.  There needs to be an opening.  And of course, my finder's fee..."
Gutboy:  "Finder's fee?"
Simon:  "A percentage"
Gutboy:  "Of what?"
Simon:  "Of whatever sums change hands.  You don't just run for office and let the people decide!  Ha, that's a funny notion!  I'm an honest clerk - it's a mere ten percent commission"
Gutboy:  "Ridiculous - five percent!"
Simon:  "Look, this isn't a negotiation.  It's ten percent."
Gutboy:  "Done."
Simon:  "So, you've undoubtedly heard of Mormod Waginski.  The hunter!  Of course you have!  Everyone has... well, I'm sure your aware of the feathers he's ruffling."
Gutboy (thinking):  "Right.  I think he invited us to a party once, but we went to a swamp instead."
Simon:  "Understandable.  Terribly dangerous, those big game hunting expeditions.  So easy to be eaten by a tyrannosaur.  Those kinds of things happen."
Gutboy:  "Uh-huh.  So those introductions..."
Simon:  "Yeah. There needs to be an opening, like I said.  Hunting is so very dangerous.  But men will have their hobbies!"

Gutboy, enlightened as to the nature of Denethix city council politics, headed back to his condo for the night.  He was surprised to be woken in the wee hours by a loud crack of thunder.  He opened his front door and discovered the smoking corpse of the pirate, his two thugs, and the parrot.  He called for the Fist to dispose of the bodies (with the exception of the parrot) - they were horrified to find that a valued Citizen of Denethix had been disturbed by the hoi polloi, and quickly dragged the bodies off to be dumped into the river before they could re-animate as zombies.

In the morning, Gutboy headed off to the taxidermist to drop off the parrot ("A Norwegian blue!  Beautiful plumage!") with instructions to stuff it and have it shoulder-mountable.  He then gathered Prepin's grad students, Dr. Smithen, Michael, and their battle-bot ZN547.  They promptly headed off to Southdeep, stopping briefly in Lugosi to hire a guide to the hidden village.

The guide led them through a twisted forest, which finally opened up at the edge of a massive pit, hundreds of feet across and hundreds of feet deep.  A path corkscrewed its way down the side of the pit, where doors were set into its walls, leading into the homes and shops of Southdeep.  They made their way to an inn near the bottom, quaintly named "The Whole Hole".  Inside, the patrons were muttering angrily and making rude gestures at a solitary robed and cowled figure, sitting at a corner table.

Barkeep:  "We don't serve their kind here!"
Gutboy (to ZN547): "Why don't you wait outside.  We don't want any trouble."
Gutboy (to barkeep):  "What's going on?"
Barkeep:  "That bag man's full of crap!  Saying we're all gonna die today!  What kind of idiocy is that?"
Gutboy:  "What's a bag man?"
Barkeep:  "The jerk in the corner with the robes!  They live under the village.  Usually they tell us good news, what the weather's going to be, how the mold crop is doing, but this jerk is saying nothin' but doom.  Probably wants to get us to leave so he can rob us.  I've got a mind to clock him."

Gutboy ambled over to the bag man's table, and peered beneath the cowl - it shadowed the face of a gorilla.

Bag Man:  "You are the ones who have been foretold.  Behold!  These are the ones who bring your death, Southdeep!"
Gutboy:  "No, no!  He's drunk!  Don't listen to him!"

Someone threw a clay beer stein at the bag man, and it shattered against his head - but the bag man didn't even flinch.

Bag Man: "Come.  It is time.  I shall lead you to your fate."

Gutboy and his crew followed the bag-man out.  Standing on the path outside the tavern, Gutboy shouted to the citizens peering down at him, "I have been sent by the great wizard of Denethix to save you!"  The bag man responded by shouting "You are all going to die!"  The citizens then responded by dumping their chamberpots out upon the party, showering them with excrement.  They hurriedly followed the bag man/gorilla to cave entrance at the bottom of the pit.

And here our session ends.

Gains:  Ring of invisibility, a retinue of academics, the nightsoil of Southdeep
Kills:  Three river pirates
Losses:  None