20 March 2010

Help, save us!

Well. yesterday was th last day of my children's spring break. We didn't get to go anywhere during the week because my break at grad school was last week. Go figure.

Anyway, Beth decided it would be cool to spend the day at Dinosaur Valley State Park (website). So in the morning we gathered up sandwich supplies, snacks, drinks, and waters and headed out.

Beth had never been there before and it's been 30 years since I was last there...but we spent a day clambering over rocks, crossing the Palauxy River on foot and looking at dinosaur prints in the river.

It's really a nice little park and we're making plans to go back this summer and camp out and enjoy all the trails and such at our leisure. Plus, since the river will be lower in the summer, tracks that were unavailable for viewing will be present then. :)

15 March 2010

Beware the Ides of March, noble Caesar.


Tonight, in memory of the 2054th anniversary of the assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar, I will drink a glass of wine. I might watch Rome or Cleopatra. I will definitely read the story of his death from Seutonius to my children.

That is all.


14 March 2010

Old School Gaming goodness continues!


Ok, quick update off of today's game. But first the one I missed...lol.

After the last game, my wife and my GM from my Hackmaster group joined in the fun. Add another Elf Fighter/Magic-User (Eritholos; Ramsey) and 1 female paladin (Valya; Beth). Eritholos had been sent from Verbobonc to investigate the impeded shipped on the road through Hommlet, and Valya was a paladin of Hieroneous out doing Knight Errantry. They were in Hommlet and, when the party didn't return in the evening, the village council asked them to go check on them. They encountered them at their campsite and agreed that continuing on through the dungeon.

So, they went in and cleared about half of the second level before finding (!) the trap door that dropped them down into the prison cell on the 3rd level. The elves immediately noticed the secret door in the cell and they quickly solved the puzzle and found the way into the room with the magical elven "tapestry of holding." They went back out, the Hobniz thief picked the lock to the cell and they decided to call it a night. This was Sunday, 10 Jan.

Well, life interfered (as it most often does) and we finally got around to continuing the game today. The roster starting out, looked like this:

Katherine (13.5)/ Aislinn Blasdesong, a High Olve Fighter/Magic-User, CG.
Rene' (12)/Anana of Glorsten, a Hill Dwur Fighter/Thief, NG. (and war dog!)
Jenny (10)/Elvina Everheart, a Half-Olve Ranger, NG.
Will (8)/Richard Willowgrove, a Hobniz Thief, NG.
Beth (wife)/Dame Valya, a Human Paladin of Hieroneous, LG.
Ramsey/Eritholos, an High Olve Fighter/Magic-User, CG.
GM NPC/Dalgard Nordis, a Human Cleric of Pelor, NG.

Well, they went south and found the "oven" room, but other than prodding the elven skeleton and taking it for burial elsewhere, they didn't learn or find anything. Next, going north again, they found the room with the apes, but handled them fairly well. Eritholos was dropped by the timely application of a CLW by the cleric kept him from death. They found a secret door that led to a giant tarantula's lair, but it never had a chance. Oh well.

Next, they found a room where they were attacked by giant fire beetles next and defeated them. The dwarf's trusty hound dropped to -2 hp exactly in the fight; they bound its wounds, the paladin laid on hands to bring it to 0; they stuck the dog in the tapestry to get it out and home.

The next fight was the most deadly, at least potentially. They found a room with a stuck door. Across the hallway, a gargoyle was supposed to attack the PCs from the rear as they make noise. Now, this is still a 1st level party and I'm pretty sure (I know that is!) there is no magic or silver. (I think my daughter the elf has some silver arrows.) so, I was lenient and changed the encounter to an Ogre on the fly. The Ogre gets 1 surprise round on them, and drops the female olve. The paladin and the male olve drop the ogre fairly quick, though. Damn the luck of d12 long swords vs. large creatures and the high strength bonuses! Another CLW gets the olve up to 1 hp, but, shaken, she decides that discretion is the better part of valor and hangs at the rear of the party with the cleric and the tapestry!

Deciding they need to get out of this place as soon as possible, the party tries to figure out where the stairs might be. They pass through several more rooms when they find, by the key, an empty room with a pool in it. A wandering monster check indicates a party of 6 ghouls in the room, however. The trusty NPC cleric actually managed to get a 19 on a turn check and managed to make 5 bolt for the other door. The party, of course, is having none of that so they pursue and whittle the ghouls down pretty quickly. The treasure indicated for individual ghouls is a 50% of magical scrolls, 1-4. Yep, they got them. They managed to get 2 prot. vs. undead, 1 protection vs. magic, and 1 scroll with Tenser's floating disc, shocking grasp, and polymorph other.

They then found the way up to level 2 and managed to get out of the dungeon from that point fairly easily.

Feeling generous, I went ahead and gave them enough xp to level the paladin. At the end of the night, the party now looks like this:

Katherine (13.5)/ Aislinn Blasdesong, a High Olve Fighter 1/Magic-User 1, CG.
Rene' (almost 12)/Anana of Glorsten, a Hill Dwur Fighter 1/Thief 2, NG. (and war dog!)
Jenny (10)/Elvina Everheart, a Half-Olve Ranger 2, NG.
Will (8)/Richard Willowgrove, a Hobniz Thief 3, NG.
Beth (wife)/Dame Valya, a Human Paladin of Hieroneous 2, LG.
Ramsey/Eritholos, an High Olve Fighter 1/Magic-User 1, CG.
GM NPC/Dalgard Nordis, a Human Cleric of Pelor 2, NG.

And, yes, the Hobniz went two levels up, but he's 8 y.o., so why not?

After some ruminations, I've decided not to go on to the Moathouse. I came across this wonderful little module, DC-1 The Outpost on the Edge of the Far Reaches by Paul Fini (http://www.lulu.com/content/e-book/the-outpost-on-the-edge-of-the-far-reaches-download/6474363). It sounds like a good idea to expand on my earlier idea of the goblins having something to do with the Temple.

The moathouse has been done to death. I was looking at the TOEE regional map:


and realized that the action focuses on the area to the E-NE of Hommlet. The south isn't even on the regional map. Well, I set [u]The Forgotten Dungeon[/u] about 5 miles south of Hommlet. It stands to reason that the forces trying to rebuild the temple would want to cut off Hommlet off and surround it. I was considering adopting the "Caves of Chaos" from B2 for the adventure, but then I found The Outpost. I think it will work out quite well.

I'll be sure to keep y'all posted. The next game is in 2 weeks.

11 March 2010

Father Jupiter smiles on us!, Pt. II

...continued from Pt I...

Yes, yes, splitting the party. But it was the only thing we could think of.

The chaplain sent us with a letter to the magistrate and one of his acolytes as surety of the veracity of our claims. It was decided that the thieves (Serge and Candy) would stay in the Keep and keep an eye on the smithy to see if the missing die was discovered. It's only three says (round trip) to Arz, so we figured we had everything well in hand. Wrong.

Corporal Nargus (remember him?) and a gaggle of confederates ambushed us on the road to Arz. He called our paladin out and or paladin critted him on the first hit! Not enough to severely hinder him and must assuredly did not have the upper hand.

In short, it was hard fought battle. I dropped to -2 HP at one point, the dwarven berserker fell to about -22 or some such (very, very dead) and the paladin had to take on 3-4 survivors of teh ambush party single-handedly (the Pixie Fairy was out of spells). However, the quick application of a healing potion brought me back, and we captured one alive to drag to the magistrate in Arz. Said magistrate agreed to relieve the prefect and began the journey back to Frandor's Keep with us. Cut back to the day previous....

Meanwhile at the Keep, the thief has noticed nothing wrong. However, while keeping observation of the smithy, a hand grabs him from behind! It's the former keep commander, Hollman. Apparently the prefect had learned of the adventurers and their "investigation" and had arrested the chaplain, Greytar, and Ledra. The had to get out of here and the commander knew a secret way!

The thief decided they were probably going after Candy as well and got the commander to follow him to the Inn. They were too late and a squad of four men had Candy in custody! The thief made the ballsy decision to rescue her, and the pair shadowed them and took them as they turned a corner. A brief fight and the the trio made it to the commander's secret escape route and met up with the party returning on the road from Arz.

At this point, it was very clear that they were on to us. We decided to ensconce the magistrate and his soldiers at our "claim" (in Hackmaster, members of the Adventurers' Guild can stake claims to dungeons--we had already cleared the kobold caves). Meanwhile, we would infiltrate the keep from the caverns beneath using a route known to Hollman and capture the prefect and return to the magistrate with him.

Well, we worked our way up and, as we were nearing the actual dungeon level of the keep, we heard a strange chanting coming from a room just pst the stairs leading up. A 01 on my religion roll identified it as a chant to Yigor, the god of subversion and treachery! During the aforementioned Twilight War, the one god who caused the most ruin to Father Jupiter was Yigor. So, with an attitude of "screw the commando raid" I led a charge against the foul worshippers!

When we threw open the door to the room there was a bunch of skeletons ("who doesn't love smashing skellies?"), 2 acolytes and our friend Harkus, the supposed priest of Shona!

Initiatives were rolled, actions stated and in the ensuing melee, I managed (with a yell of "Traitor!") to throw a hold person on Harkus. Which is GOOD because as Ramsey later told us, he was a lvl 7 cleric. Serge managed to douse him with a Greek Fire Fire and waiting a couple of rounds to set him on fire...anticipation, good! :) The rest of the room was fairly anti-climatic.

Making our way up to the keep, we manage to catch the prefect with 4 guards and carts full of gold ore, obviously preparing to make a break for it. A brief battle ensues in which our hidden thief, with an expert use of caltrops and shots to the back of the head with his crossbow, is able to keep runners for going for help. The prefect is captured, and Erig arrives on the scene to find out what the hell's going on? ("I hate to tell you this, Erig, but your lover is a traitor and a thief.")

All-in-all everything turned out well. The magistrate came in, settled arrives. The prefect comes from a senatorial family in Fangerie, so he escaped with a demotion and a reposting. Fines were paid, some merchants had to leave and Hollman was reinstated as the commander. We still have a lot of work to do against the humanoids, so now we get to go into "hack 'n' slash" dungeon-crawl mode! Yay!

Several more thoughts....

My poor misguided and gullible cleric also had the enabler flaw. I wonder how far I can get away with pushing the whole "gay" with Erig? Maybe keep introducing to handsome men with certain proclivities? lol, yes, I'm terrible, I know.

Louie, our paladin (Sir Jordan), also does a lot more than comes across here. HE's the most charismatic member of the party and keeps everything and organized and pretty on track.

Cliff was buried in the mountains near our claim with all the rites of the Church of Jupiter. It was his wish not to be resurrected. He merely wanted peace and rest.

Father Jupiter smiles on us!, Pt. I

Well, the culmination of a couple of month;s hard work finally paid off in last night's Hackmaster game (the true 4th Edition!). It was an epic struggle that lasted a full 9 hours (we usually only game 4-5 hours at a stretch--Wednesday night game and all that) and could have ended "very badly" for the party. I had this feeling of trepidation because I've been reading George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones, and this most assuredly had the type of Machiavellian backstabbing that brought down the ill-fated Eddard Stark. Let me explain.

One of the subplots in Little Keep on the Borderlands involves a cabal of military conspirators who have created devalued counterfeit gold coins and worked them into the economy of Frandor's Keep. Our party became aware of this several weeks ago and managed (through blind luck, as it happens) managed to bypass the conspirators in the keep and go straight to the only people in the Keep who were not part of the conspiracy. Maybe a bit of a recap and party introduction is in order.
GM: Ramsey Williams
Marcus Ironfist, Cleric of Jupiter the Mighty (NOT Zeus the Diminished!), lvl 3: Yours truly
Sir Jordan Iscariot, Paladin of Jupiter, lvl 3: Louie
Serge (Sarge, Surge...his name seems to change in my mind), Thief, lvl 3 (4?): James
Al (sort for something very long and rambling), Pixe-Fairy Evoker, lvl 2 or 3: NPC
Cliff, Dwarvan Berserker, lvl 2: NPC
Candy Applebottom, Thief-Acrobat (with COM 19!), lvl 2 (?): NPC follower
Elroy, 15 y.o. torcher bearer: hireling
and a couple of other hirelings...our party banner bearer, my 1/2-orc valet (!), animal handler, etc.

Marcus and Jordan are members of the Church of Jupiter...due to the effects of the Twilight War amongst the Gawds, Zeus lost some power and shifted to the LG alignment. Jordan is actually the first known paladin of Zeus in our campaign. Even though we're both LG, we tend to play our PCs more like Roman aristocrats and less like ascetic Christian monks. Not ~too~ epicurean, but also not too stoic either. :)

Our PCs had been sent by our Church to the Keep to check on Ledra Moss, a lvl 2 cleric and (according to the module) also a cleric of Zeus (we prefer Jupiter for obvious reasons...the Church is "restructuring" due to a "unfavorable religious climate"). We also had no clear orders rather than to perform the "work of most Holy Jupiter" and to "increase his standing in the eyes of the inhabitants of the lands to the west." So, we started adventuring in the area.

Well, anyway, about the same time the debased currency started showing up in the keep, we recovered a ledger and some gold nuggets in an abandoned mine. The ledger was a sort of paybook noting transactions and payments of some sort. We lucked out, and rather than taking the nuggets to the gem dealer for appraisal (a member of the cabal!), we asked the keep's paymaster (not in the cabal; the fellow who pays out the humanoid bounties). He told us to not flash that around and went into some detail about the gold problem and the fact that it might draw too much attention of the wrong sort (he had a favorable reaction to us due to our paladin...go figure!).

So, we headed off to Ledra who confirmed that this looked suspicious and contacted Greytar the sage and the Keep's chaplain, both not listed in the book. They assigned us the task of trying to gather more information.

I should mention that prior to this, we had solved the mystery of the "Mad Hermit" who was actually the keep's previous commander who had been driven mad by the influence of an evil magical artifact. He had been recuperating in the chapel and the whole thing had been kept quiet to avoid embarrassing Hullman (the commander/mad hermit).

We had to find more info to directly the current prefect to the conspiracy. And that's where tonight started...sorta.

The night began, as most adventures do, in a tavern where we were quietly meeting with Ledra. "Meet in the open?" you ask. Well, he is a Cleric of Jupiter, so what's more natural than us all hanging out? Hey, my cleric is gullible and misinformed!

Ledra insisted that we do something (Gm prodding!), so we decided to get Candy, our delectable NPC companion, to ingratiate herself with the prefect at a social the next evening and learn what she could from him. After looking at the list of conspirators, we decided that the dies for the coins had to be in the Keep. Of they were hidden in the Wilds, then a group of adventurers (like us!) might stumble upon them. Logic dictated that they had to be used near a forge. We decided that the Smithy was the possible best choice and decided to have our thief infiltrate and search.

Well, I won't go into the heretos and the whytofors, but, after Ledra left, we had an altercation with Corporal Nargus, one of the main conspirators, and a brawl ensued! We handed out a stunning victory, kept property damage to a minimum (one chair, courtesy of our berserker) and stayed out of the stockade. We also made the acquaintance of an "apparent" cleric of Shona (LN god of fair play) named Harkus during the fight.

At the social the next evening, some good roleplay occurred. My gullible misinformed (and toga clad--in the best Roman tradition!) cleric learned that the prefect had recently had a conniving shrew leave him for greener pastures. He had stole her from one his sub-officers one Erik, (Erig? Erag?--something like that) who he was now "buddy-buddy" with. (My cleric wrongfully inferred that the two were now "special friends"--I won't relate it all, but my PC made various inappropriate, yet funny, comments for the rest of the night about the two).

Candy insinuated herself with the commander and they disappeared together as the evening was winding down. Plan 2 immediately went into action. Short story...apparently the smith and his wife were out at the tavern for the evening and out thief was able to infiltrate and find the dies and the gold. He left half of the die set. Our thoughts were that maybe we could by with it and they might not check the stash every die. (Poor planning on our part, but what else could we do?). Plus we wanted to leave some evidence for a hopeful search.

Candy returned the next morning and was able to abscond with papers from the prefect's desk showing that he had went in debt to refurbish his rooms in the keep for his former lover. He embezzled money from the keep's treasury to pay for it and was apparently replacing it with the debased currency.

A quick meeting with Ledra and the chaplain confirmed that we would have to ride t0 the town of Arz and meet with the magistrate there. He was the only one with the authority to launch an investigation of this magnitude.

Thus it was that we made one of the most fundamental mistakes that a gaming group can ever make....we decided to SPLIT THE PARTY!!!

....continued in Pt. II....

09 March 2010

And back again....!


Ok, I'm really bad at writing blogs apparently. It's been well over a year since my first post. Well, time to get cracking!

Let's see, what to write about....

Well, I've lost over 70 pounds since last June. Go me. I still feel like I need to shave off another 20 or so, but I haven't lost anything since Thanksgiving. On the other hand, I've been bouncing around in the 190s, so there is no "upward mobility" either. Heh. Well, since spring is here, maybe we can get back on board with the program and get the rest off. :)

Let's see, what else? Well, all of my kids are gaming now, from the 14 year old to the 8 year old...AD&D (First Edition, there is no other!). You can read about it here:


I also need to update there. We've only had one other session....also sidetracked by life. Starting up again this Sunday, if all goes according to plan (does it ever? ~sigh~).

School..final semester. I should graduate with my M.A. in History this May. I'm looking at teaching high school and have a couple of leads. I'm also looking at Region VII to go through the certification process.

SCA. I'm also working on finishing up the Crusader helm that my squire-brother made. I have the padding in and it's been painted white to match the top half of my arms. I'm thinking about making mantling and a torse with three red crosses on it to complete the effect. Add a red tabard with gold fleur de lys and I'll be my arms! Heh. I'll be sure to post pics. Oh, and I have the maille to make the drape for it.

Also, my name and device finally made it past the heralds. Let's see where is a pic? Ok, there it is at the top! Drawing by the most talented Baron Tostig of Rosenfeld, one of the few heralds who know what the deal is. Oh, and teh registered name is Bernhart von Bruck. Nice and German :)

I guess that's all for now. I really need to blog at least once a week. Maybe I can do that. Yeah, right!