Castle Redvald #5 - Elves are Gross

Introduced some new blood to gaming yesterday, and she seems to be into it so I might get to run more stuff in the flesh now, in addition to the online games!

Lu played Mélusine, the third level fighter/haberdasher from her usual delves.
S. played Silas Girdwood, a magic-user speaking exclusively in rimes (including OOC chatter).
F. played Nimué, an elf fighter/lady of the lake, the first elf in the campaign so far.
Oh, and Silas brought his Mule, Gilda.

Props are fun!

What Happened?
Things started a bit slowly - everyone was hanging out at the Blue Rabbit Inn for a while as the new players finished rolling for characters and buying equipment and I answered a few questions. Eventually, Mélusine bought a few beers to the new arrivals and gave them the usual sales pitch - Wanna go on a HIGH ADVENTURE? Ever heard of Castle Redvald? - the newcomers were thrilled at the prospect of getting out and doing stuff already, and quickly agreed to follow the experienced adventurer's lead. They decided to set out to Redvald on the following morning.

• At the front doors, Silas wished to reclaim his lost throne, while Nimué asked if she could get rid of the stalker knight that had been following her around the countryside. The talking skull laughed, and let the party enter.

• Using the latest map, Mélusine decided to first go check out the well in the north-east. They sent the wizard down as the elf was wearing plate, and he confirmed that there is an underground river down there, and no easy way to avoid plunging in the cold water. While he was down there, a pair of possessed (glowing eyes, zombie-like behavior) Masked Ones attacked the other two. Two rounds later, the elf was dead and the player was quite surprised, but took it well as we all laughed at the poor elf's misfortune. Mélusine quickly dispatched the monsters and checked the elf to see if there was any chance of saving her. Turns out, there was not, but as we generated a new character for F, a brilliantly disgusting idea came to her: what if elves reproduce through post-humous parthenogenesis? And so, the dead elf's body burst into disgusting fluids to reveal a slowly growing, bird-like monstrosity which quickly grew to elf-size and revealed the same features as her "mother". She was confused for a few seconds, then proceeded to strip down her mother to loot her stuff, confirming her status as a proper murderhobo. Mélusine was disgusted but pleased to trade one party member for a new one, and the wizard was scared and confused until he was finally brought back up.

• After this episode, the party decided to reach the Ogre's lair to use his kitchen table as a make-shift raft. On the way there, they faced the Burning Giraffe. Mélusine and the Newborn Elf ran away, while the magic-user cast sleep on it, which miraculously worked. About half an hour was spent discussing the finer points of animal rights, whether the Giraffe was secretly a cursed prince and what kind of bits they should harvest from it for magic items. A bunch of Priests of the Broken God found them, so the party decided to offer the head to their group for the reward, and skinned the beast to have a fire-proof scales cloak made later on.

• At the Priests's hideout, some negociations led to the party agreeing on a set of various magic potions in exchange for the Giraffe's head, and no gold (although an alternative bounty of 5000GP was offered). Then, giant locusts attacked the camp, and the party decided to bolt out of there, setting fire to the room and leaving everything inside to burn to death.

• After a quick trip to the Ogre's lair, where they saw strange remains floating in the air, got spooked and left without taking anything, they went back to check the bodies and confirmed that they had indeed finished off the remaining priests left in Castle Redvald. Between that and the massacre of the Horned Ones earlier in the campaign, I really gotta get off my butt and start thinking about how the level is going to be affected by this. Of course, they took the gold, and figured that they had a sufficient booty for today's session. They went back to the well to get the Mule back, which of course wasn't there (RIP Gilda), shrugged it off, and went home.

Important Stuff
• The Blue Rabbit Inn now sports the taxidermized head of the Burning Giraffe over the bar, and most people in Blightburg now of the company's prowesses by now.

• With no further support from within Castle Redvald, the weird cult that was hanging around in the region is going back to its home monestary. For now.

• Elves are vile, disgusting creatures of chaos.

What happened according to Mélusine

Further Comments
• F. had a blast, which is always good to hear after someone's first game. She was worried about having no prior experience of play and "messing up" but quickly figured out how the game works.
I think OD&D is a great starter game, as it focuses almost entirely on imagining stuff - there's no "game awareness" at all if not brought by other games.

• Having a map and a player who's knowledgeable about the dungeon's explored areas really give the world a sense of "actually being there" that is probably the whole point of having persistent campaign environnements like a megadungeon - not the first time I noticed it, but everyone made note of it this time.

• I'm getting a bit bored of OD&D's combat mechanics - I love the atmosphere and idea of it: the sheer freedom, the lack of crunch modifiers, the speed of play, etc. Yet, I feel like the combat system in particular could be sped up by skipping either the attack or damage roll, since they feel a bit redundant to me when considering the game is not about the blow-by-blow action.

The procedural stuff (open doors, lights, exploration turns etc.) is perfect for me - I actually use it all the time, regardless of whether I'm playing OD&D or not, so that says something.


Stealing the Sundered Lands - Introduction & Index

I want a science-fantasy, post-apocalyptic setting to fit the implied setting that comes along the Maze Rats tables. As it turns out, I've always had one in the back of my mind, but never really took the time to flesh it out. That would be Vincent Baker's The Sundered Lands

I don't care for the storygame rules, as it is, but I do want to make use of the implied setting as additional color. Plus, nobody knows or plays this anymore, so why leave it to die in the dark?
Here's all the stuff I compiled. Now, all I have to do is write an entry for every interesting bit of lore in there to make it my own, and tie it to some game-able thing. I'll probably need to draw a map too.

Also, everything is a table, because OSR. My meager additions are in italics.

1 • the Desert of Spires                   
2 • the Gray Hills                           
3 • the Jaggedlands                       
4 • the Ragged Forest
5 • the Ghost Sea
6 • the Jungle of Bones
7 • the Longmoor 
8 • the Broken Reaches

1 • predatory bandit-ghouls
2 • the sworn enemies of my people
3 • the murder-cult of the ungod of spiders
4 • supernatural creatures hungry for human flesh
5 • the encamped army of a king who has sworn vengeance upon me
6 • the singing hyenas of the waste
7 • warring cannibal clans
8 • followers of a grim torturer-devil
9 • monsters who dress in human skins
0 • a hunter of men, feared by many, bested by none

01 • wealth hidden in my clothing
02 • a long knife under my shirt
03 • the summoning-name of a ghost burned into my memory
04 • very long hair, uncut, unbound
05 • a crossing and crisscrossing of scars
06 • vast and deadly patience
07 • instincts honed by a life of violence
08 • a lead half-groat and scrip for one night’s least-grade bunk & board
09 • 4 groats in mixed coin
10 • scrip for a night’s bunk, board & bath, second-grade
11 • invitation to a certain great house for reception & dinner
12 • a tile admitting 2 to the menagerie of sins
13 • a letter of introduction
14 • scrip, fraudulently drawn, for bunk, board, bath, & upkeep
15 • new clothing, clean and fashionable
16 • new shoes, sturdy and whole
17 • a rod of stuttering light leaking green poison
18 • an old horse, loyal but tired
19 • a floating skull with a voice and mind
20 • a severed hand infected with the moonrot

1 • Master of sword and staff.                    
2 • Wielder of ancient weapons.                 
3 • Reincarnated blood-champion.            
4 • Veteran of war, battle scarred.             
5 • Former slave and revenant.
6 • Dedicated to fallen gods.
7 • Outranger and scout.
8 • Child of blasphemy.
9 • Scholar of the six arts.
0 • Disturbing half-man poisoner. 

"A caravan on the Burnt Road. Riders on fleet horses, tireless irritable buffalo heaped with goods, silver, spices, drugs, bales and bolts of silk."

1 • Gigantic man-eater, halfway between a turtle and a lizard
2 • Ravenous bone-birds, in flocks that obscure the sky.
3 • Serpentine coils of the great desert worms.                                                                    
4 • The band of the Rattlesnake, mercenaries with Armor, swords and spears.
5 • Fangs, gaping maw, rows of teeth. A pack of howling hyenas.
6 • Silent. A ghost-stalker, its eyes set upon your youngest.
7 • Dripping gore. The bloodied corpses of revenants, hungry for revenge.
8 • In a horde. Soldiers of the desert-king Warhol.
9 • Spikes, horns, spurs. The trappings of the outriders of House Nemeja.
0 • Exposed bone. The war-beast Aelosaurus.

1 • My mother’s name accords me honor and duties here that I do not want.
2 • I have blood enemies here.
3 • I’m seeking a forbidden love, kept by a person beyond my direct challenge.
4 • I know a wealthy house I might be able to rob.
5 • I’m seeking only honest labor and wage.
6 • I’m seeking a certain master of my arts.
7 • I’m seeking for my lost blood.
8 • I’m seeking a certain place of ceremonial import.
9 • I have debts outstanding which I cannot repay.
0 • I'm seeking the man who has murdered me.

1 • the Dockyards                            
2 • the Temple to No Gods             
3 • the Diggers’ Common               
4 • the Scornview                            
5 • the Stockyards                            
6 • the Market Quarter
7 • the Sovereign Course 
8 • the Outwalls
9 • Bustside
0 • the Everfall 


1 The House Alije
A High House in the City of Gulls. The prince Jaret Alije. His harem and eunuchs.
The captain of his guard, a fearless half-human woman called Kalo.
His acquisitions and assertions of power.
His sister, the Sororiarch Alije, whose good fate is enslaved to the fortunes of the House.

2 The Bufrolla Clan of the Gray Hills 
Cannibals, whose symbol is the walking white lizard. 
Their incarnate goddess, who demands sacrifices of fire, shame, flesh, and filth. 
Their hunting courses, set with baffles, snares, and blinds. 
The singing hounds who hunt alongside them. Their long-honed spears.

3 The Temple to No Gods
Its priestesses and priests, either devotee or penitent, in service, alike in rank and stature. 
The three visible and one concealed pillars of its study. Rella, a supplicant. 
The broken path connecting each temple to the others, no matter the earthly distance between.

4 The Charnel Halls of the dead
The necromancer Tulia Din, of unhesitating discipline. 
Her books. A living person chained in the Charnel Halls, bound for a crime, sin, or misfortune. 
A tyrant ghost, ruler of hosts of the dead, bloated with the power it has consumed. 
Its summoning-name. Its living descendants.

5 The Museum of the Upturned Past 
The scholars and students who walk among its pillars. 
The texts and diagrams of power they study, and the relics of the ancient world. 
A burglar in gray silk, unknowing. Something huge and silent. 
Words of inhuman power, enslavers of heart, thought, will.

6 The raiding-hosts of the Turtwk, with their bloody-beaked ships and warrior songs. 
Their queen Axkutke. Her seers, three boys whose antics prefigure future events. 
Their trains of battle-taken. 
Their agent, a guard of the city who has sold its security to them for promised wealth.

01 • improvised arms                                   
02 • a beam-cutter                                         
03 • a pulse lance                                               
04 • bow & arrows             
05 • a sword
06 • daggers
07 • a staff 
08 • blast armor 
09 • a long spear 
10 • chestplate & helmet 
11 • a concussive bolter 
12 • a chainsword 

1 • to summon and enslave a powerful ghost
2 • to confront a revenant ghost and chain it in the Charnel Halls
3 • to restore one beloved to you to life
4 • to find a certain ghost and interrogate it

1 • thwarted vengeance                
2 • unfulfilled ambition                   
3 • betrayal                                        
4 • hatred                                           
5 • ceremonial sacrifice
6 • bloodthirst
7 • a death-curse 
8 • despair 
9 • sorcery
0 • duty

1 • it has thrived, devouring many of its kind
2 • it has purified its hatred into a black and bloody will
3 • it has indulged its appetites and enacted its fears
4 • it has hunted the living, shattering mortal minds
5 • it has dallied with necromancers before this
6 • it has walked in the corner of eyes and the meekest shadows

01 • hulking                                                
02 • leather-winged                                     
03 • wreathed in fire                                 
04 • bloodsoaked                
05 • venemous  
06 • howling 
07 • faceless 
08 • arachnic 
09 • unblinking 
10 • slithering 
11 • void 
12 • many-faced


Mushrooms Elves Doom - An Into the Odd Session Report

Yesterday, we played some Into the Odd (no EB rules this time) with heavy use of the Maze Rats tables (all of the chargen tables, and most of my prep also made use of these).

Players & Their Dudes
• Elfstar played Elfstar, a book peddler with some elfin blood in her lineage, giving her darkvision.
• Sotto played Pujo, a scheming, "practical" counterfeiter
• Jack played Zinbiel, a grizzled headsman
• Foursticks played Emmet Volfhole, a gambler with a blunderbuss.
• And Lu played Elina, her mercenary character from the Barrowmaze campaign.

The PCs were all debtors for Traxian & Shift Corporation, which you may be familiar with if you've followed the Barrowmaze campaign reports. If not - they're your run-of-the-mill evil overlords from Bastion, except really into alternate dimensions and weird science. So T&T sent the PCs into the Brackenwoods to find some "portal", left them with a strange useless rod and bam, that's it, go adventure already!

What Happened
• The party followed a trail of wild flowers and found a rotting cabin, where a man named Dingo Wakabashi, follower of the God-Head of Reason, who went into the woods looking for a magical lodestone that he saw in a vision. The party quickly befriends him and his goons, and they decide to team up. Exploring more of the cabin reveals a strange vine-person covered in purple flowers, apparently hostile, which they eventually leave to its own devices.

About an hour later, they find Dingo again, talking with a blue hooded boy with a strange dagger in his belt. He's looking for the elves, hoping that they will cure his grandma's disease in exchange for his magical dagger, which flies towards any target you whisper the name of. The party may or may have not considered stealing the dagger from the child, discussed - at length - how to help or profit from this situation, and eventually scared him off and lost him to the woods. Moving on.

• Wanderer's Pass is the next stop - a tinker's shop and an ale house on the side of the road. A tall, green-faced man with a fake mustache, nose and glasses welcomes them to the ale house. When a party member decides to go speak to the tinkerer, the mustached man rushes past him, gets inside, makes some noises and disappears, leaving another tall man with another ridiculous disguise introducing himself as Bob the Person in his wake. He sells clocks and watches, and gives some directions to the party. He also tries to steal a guilder from Elina and runs out the window. Behind the building, the party finds the first guy with the moustache and glasses, beat him up, and discover that Bob the Person and the Mysterious Ale House Dude are actually Three Goblins. They shoot the right one in the back and get the coin back, then decide to patch him up, because they're good guys.

• They follow a secret path of blue stones up north, looking for a dry river where a "door to terror" might be found. First stop is a mind-bending Obelisk that nearly kills the now heavily drunk Emmet, who has to crawl near the thing as he feels his head is going to explode from some psychic waves, but when he touches it it crumbles into dust and stops hurting.

• A bit later, the party is ambushed by horrible, white-skinned, white haired, white eyed elves who quickly turn hostile after some attempts at negociations through beer sharing. The combat itself I didn't find very entertaining - 5 players is a bit much for ItO, and they had 4 NPC allies with them. Plus, I didn't get to use the Crit Damage of these elves - which was they would force themselves inside your mouth and wear your skin like a marionette from within. They won, though, and took a prisoner which was very agressive and rude, but talking to him, they figured out that the mushroom men upriver were enemies of the elves, and that destroying the obelisk helped them (the mushrooms). The elf agreed to lead them to the Ravenous Hollow, the "door to terror" and home of the Mycelium Hive-Mind, and flipped them off when he ran off after they let him go.

It was time to stop so we quickly wrapped things up: with the obelisk destroyed, the mushroom men would be unstoppable and soon conquer the world. They asked the PCs to lead them to their leaders, which they gladly accepted - seeing as they were here because of their debt to the Company in the first place. So they doomed the world, and beat the system. Good end.

Some Thoughts
All the players contributed with some great roleplaying, albeit the random encounters didn't really provide for any difficult challenge to overcome, so the game was mostly talking with some exploring, if you exclude the murdering at the end. The thing is, the combat was probably the most boring part of the game as I mentioned earlier - too many participants involved and tiredness on my part led to a very dull in-fiction scene, at least in my head. Made me want to use OD&D or Maze Rats instead.

We had some pacing issues, most likely due to different agendas at play - nothing too serious but maybe everyone involved had a slightly different idea on what they'd like to be curious about. Another interesting point that was made in the debrief was that the clear objective of "go find a portal to pay off your debt" actually made the typical adventuring mode of "go check out whatever you find that holds your attention" seem like a waste of time, when it was the intended mode of operation for the whole crawl.