Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Live or Die

First an update. Since the Bridonia campaign ended we have been experimenting with a new gaming system -- Lord of the Dice*. Joe, Mr. Lord of the Dice himself, created the rules-lite system to encourage more roleplaying and less reliance on rulebooks. I won't go into the details of the system other than to say that everything is based on rolling no more than two six-sided dice.

Ah, the dice...
When I prepared to start play The Fantasy Trip after many long years, I went into our Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS) and bought a bunch of D6s from the bargain barrel. They worked well enough and I didn't think a lot about how fair or random they were.

Once I got my big box of goodness, i.e. The Fantasy Trip Legacy Edition, I had several sets of red (Melee) and blue (Wizard) dice that I used regularly in our sessions. I generally favor the blue dice over the red, but that is just a color choice.

Joe, as game master, used a set of finely made, aircraft-grade aluminum dice from Ultra Pro. He bragged as to their feel and balance. There is no discernible bias in them. When we started this new game I was prepared to use my newly acquire Munchkin Rainbow dice, but Joe stopped me and
handed out sets of two of these dice in various colors to us so we all would be rolling completely fair dice with no bias.

Soon after that Joe told us that a supplier of his had the same dice for sale at a ridiculously low price. Even better, the set of five die were the same price as a set of two. We placed our orders and last night Joe delivered. I got to say these dice are awesome. Of course now I need a dice tower or tray to roll these bad boys in. Otherwise they are going to ding up the table top.

* Lord of the Dice, copyright 2019 by Joe Starza.

Monday, October 7, 2019


In the first week of the siege the army of East Riding took control of the town and built barricades across from the castle moat. There were exchanges of arrows and each side lost men. Ralph, our loyal ogre threw rocks and one petard (that exploded harmlessly in the moat) and managed to break down the castle door. Our wizard harass the guards with gargoyle illusions flying into the battlements. We cut off the supply of fresh food. The castle's supply of fresh water came from a well in the lowest level.

 On the eighth day the catapult arrives and our catapult operator put it in action smashing the portcullis with rocks. Indorel cast a magic rainstorm over the castle to demonstrate our powers. John sends a gargoyle to attack the battlements. The guards are more prepared and kill it. Both sides exchange missile fire.

With Stilton, the thief, guiding us, Bantra, Meat DeShield, and Indorel go down the tunnel that night. Bantra is carrying a fear potion to pour into the well. At the door to the dungeon, we see through a peephole that there are three guards. Indorel casts an illusion of a large hornet that flies in and distracts the guards as the team opens the door and sneaks in. Bantra stumbles and makes noise. Indorel tries an occult strike. Bantra strikes one of the guards and tries to push him into the well. Failing that he goes to the well and pours in the potion. Indorel cast 3-hex fire. One of the guards splits Bantra in half with his sword. Stilton stabs one guard from behind and kills him. Then he runs and tackles the last one that is trying to escape. Indorel kills him. The team hides the bodies in the tunnel and leave.

On the ninth and final day of the siege Jack Swifthand shouts to the castle guard to surrender. Having drunk from the well, they are more fearful. John casts a cloud of smoke over the castle that spells out “Surrender”. Six more flee leaving only a few with the ogre. We storm into the castle and find the Ogre lord with his six remaining men in the keep. The ogre is far bigger than we imagined. He is a megahex in size with a strength of 60. He is twice as big as our friend Ralph. 

We enter the keep with four archers, four swordsman, and the rest of the party. The only obstacles in the room are the pillars. We face Mortimer with six warriors. One is heavily armored and seems to be in command. Another appears to be wild-eyed and crazy with two knives.

We enter the room and move cautiously forward. Our soldiers engage theirs, while our archers provide covering fire. Jack advances close enough to throw a grenade. It hits the ogre and does damage to him. It also hits a couple of his men. The concussion in the room knocks down our archers and Indorel. Petra shoots the ogre with a poisoned bolt. Archie does the same with a poisoned arrow. Meat and a new guy named Bill advance on the left. The ogre moves up and pushes over a column. Meat gets crushed. One of our soldiers gets trampled. John casts two gargoyle illusions. They fly around behind the ogre, land and attack from the rear. Finally, Indorel has moved into a position close enough to cast a creation spell. He creates a tunnel in the chest of the ogre. Blood and guts fly everywhere as he falls forward, dead. The remaining fighters are quickly killed with no quarter given. The battle is over.

The campaign is over. Maybe one day we will return to explore more of Bridonia, but for now we rest and celebrate. The Lady Archie will marry Lord Rumbold in 12 more days. The word will spread that Bridonia has a new queen in the castle. The crisis of government is finally at an end.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Boss Battle

In our campaign we have many enemies, but our oldest one is Snidley Whiplash, a whip carrying lawyer in a black suit who is the real power behind the Ogre Lord of Gromly. We have been plotting for months to somehow get him and the ogre outside the castle where we could face them in battle.

On Monday night we got a surprise visit from Snidley with a company of his men. He wanted to meet with our Lord Mayor. We agreed to meet with him and an entourage of only six of the company of 14  inside the manor house. His other eight men waited outside and were watched by an equal number of our soldiers.

Inside the manor house our party of Archie, Bantra, John, Jack, and Krupke (PCs) along with Lord Rumbold, Petra, and Meat DeShield (NPCs) faced our enemies across a long table. Snidley brought with him his right-hand man, Lefty, an unnamed mage, two swordsmen, and two crossbowmen. He tried to sell us on the idea of signing a contract that would allegedly give Lord Rumbold a clear, hereditary right to East Riding, but we were suspicious

Archie subtlety signaled and we attacked. It was a wild battle. John cast a rope spell that caught Snidley off guard. Meat DeShield jumped the mage before he could cast a spell. Bantra jumped on the table and used the chandelier to swing across and land on Snidley. Arrows, bolts, and daggers flew. John summons one bear and then another. Archie and Petra neutralized the two crossbowmen.

In the middle of all this Indorel, who had overslept, walks into the room and was struck down by a sword. Snidley made a run for the door. We gave chase outside.

Snidley leaves his men to cover his retreat and runs for the woods. John uses his elvish speed to run after him. He cast a gargoyle that swoops down and grabs Snidley and rips him apart. The battle of the Manor House is over.

NOTE: I didn't take any photos of our maps so I recreated the scene using Roll20 and tokens to illustrate the setup. There were two doors to the room on opposite ends of the table. Indorel chose to enter behind Snidley and his group. As the saying goes, "He chose poorly."

UPDATE: We fought the Siege of Gromly Castle on Monday, September 30, 2019. It was the culmination of months of planning and we finally faced the Ogre Lord, all seven hexes of him! That story is coming up next.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Elven Ear Fungus

or... I can't make the game tonight.

Life of the Party
What do you do when a player can't make a gaming session? We have a tight group of gamers in our campaign and everyone makes an effort to show up on Monday nights. But every so often someone is going to be out of town, sick, or the boss says they are needed for the evening shift.

The first time it happened our game master said, "No problem. Hemorrhoidus has come down with dysentery and is confined to his bed and nearby chamber pot" and we played on without him. Although dysentery is a common illness in the fantasy world, it does get tiresome to give the same disease to all the players again and again. So here are a few others we've come up with.

Pneumonia. One character developed a bad cough after being exposed to toxic smoke in one week's adventure. He was absent the next week so we gave him pneumonia and had him suffer the woeful medical skills of the local barber who tried to cure him with leeches and bleeding the poor man.

Wrong time of the month. One of our PCs is a female archer and thief. She found herself out of sorts. (Maybe this was payback to my son for shooting my character in the back.)

Hang nail. We claimed that the character, our healer, was with us, but he stayed in a tent outside this tower we were exploring. That hang nail was difficult because we used it as an excuse for two straight weeks while the player was out of town.

And lastly... Elven Ear Fungus. We have two players who play elves. They were both absent last week so I got creative. Here are the details from the journal I keep on the game.

Elven Ear Fungus is a highly contagious disease, but fortunately, only to elves. It consists of colorfully red fungus that implants itself in the ear canals of its host and drawing nutrients from it. As it fully develops in two to three weeks’ time, it covers the ears completely creating a large puff ball with a particularly foul odor that attracts insects to break it, releasing its spores. During that time the patient is nearly deaf. Tincture of Diazinon is the only successful treatment. If caught early enough, four drops of the tincture in each ear twice a day for a week will prevent the puffballs from forming. The remains of the fungus will dry up and can be removed with irrigation.

So what do you do to liven up the absence of a player?

Sunday, August 25, 2019

A New Level of Play

I've been away from the blog for a few weeks. I got involved in another group of players for a different adventure. This one is being played online using the Roll20 website. Roll20 provides players with a virtual tabletop (VTT) on which the GM can draw his/her maps and populate the world with creatures and foes that the adventurers will have to face.

The great advantage of all this is that you can pull together a party from many different cities (and countries) into a play session. The hardest part is dealing with several time zones. The last time we played the GM was from, I believe, New Jersey, one player from Florida, another from Missouri, one from California, and me from Virginia.

Membership on the Roll20 site is free, but if you want to add the bells and whistles you can pay a monthly fee. I got the basic membership, but that allows me not only to play in other game maps, but I can create my own. So far I have created an outdoor map with roads, fields, a campsite, a stone circle and a small cottage. I've populated it with a couple of gangs of bandits, a giant, and some wandering animals like wolves and bears. There is also an entrance to a cave that will lead to a dungeon map, which I've sketched out, and I am now drawing on the VTT. Once I get it completed, I'll try my hand at being a GM.

Here's a small view of the outdoor map. I started out with a hex grid on a green (grass) background. Then I added roads, rocks, trees, bushes, and water. I've been working on this for several days. The tokens are all downloaded from Pinterest.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Monster of the Week

We fought an AHNKEG this week. Not being a D&D fan, I was not familiar with it. For those of you who are also unfamiliar:
The ankheg (pronounced: /ˈæŋkɛg/ ÆNK-eg was a huge insectoid monster with many slender limbs and large antennae. It burrowed underground and hunted from below.

The ankheg was an ambush predator that waited around 5–10 feet underground for prey to wander into position. The attack was quick, as the prey was crushed and ground in its mandibles and assaulted with acidic digestive enzymes. If a foe proved too difficult, the ankheg could also squirt acid to take it down. (Ankheg)
Our party was chasing a pack of wolves led by two werewolves that had kidnapped a baby. The trail circled a hole in the ground which we decided to investigate. Archie lit a lantern and approached the hole. Krupke with his fine broadsword (2d+1) and Petra with crossbow ready right behind her. As Archie's light peered into the depths, this monstrous insect lunged out. Archie threw her lantern, hoping to set the beast on fire. Petra's bolt flew true and pierced its chitinous armor doing some damage.

Krupke rolled a 4 on his attack and then a 12 on the 2d+1 fine broadsword which produced 26 damage, slicing the monster's head clean from the body. It was glorious!

The rest of the evening was almost anti-climatic even though we still had to fight a werewolf and its wolf pack, and eventually save the baby.

Our GM has played so many RPGs that he tends to pull from all of them for ideas. This tends to keep us on our toes since we never know what kind of monsters we are going to face.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Igor - Rest In Peace

Igor, the goblin bard and fire mage was a member of our party. He was full of life and always prepared to lift our spirits or light our grenades, and drink our wine.

He died the other day at the hands (claws? pincers?) of a giant beetle that attacked the party while searching for dragonet eggs in the nearby forest. Our Physicker was not with us so we poured all the healing potions we had into him in an effort to revive him. That was not enough and his companions, Petra and Krupke, picked up his body and raced through the forest in an attempt to get him back to the village in time for the physicker to save him. Alas we were too late.

The Lord High Mayor Rumford declared the funeral day a day of mourning for this hero of East Riding. Goblins from the Moon Wolf clan came to honor him and the goblin shaman, Moon Dawg led the services. There was much crying and knashing of teeth. Igor will be long remembered.

He is survived by his cat, Pudding.