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.