We're basically at the end of this campaign.
Probably it'll continue in some form, but I'm taking a little break.
Here's a diagram of Chironash Caverns.
#spinnwebe D&D[ The Story So Far ] [ Latest episode ] [ What rules? ] [ Transcripts ]
|MisterQ||Surley||4.5||Fighter||Dwarf||30||Pickaxe; Dire Flail; oxy-field & seral jelly; Docks Ass'n card; gem|
|Morwen||Morwen||1.2||MU/Thief||Half-Elf||4||Turned to pebbles; now reconstituted|
|Leth||Capalert||4.0||Cleric||Dwarf||24||Mace; heroin-filled condom; keys; Cure (2), Silence 15';|
|Elkman||Ntilde||4.6||MU||Elf||13||Magic Msl (2), ESP, ... ; joint compound; gold filling||Killed by Elrei (but resurrectable).|
|Jacquilynne||Elfstar||2.0||Fighter||Elf||17||+1 Sword of Poking Things Sharply|
|Tieboy||Mrs.Steve||2.4||Temp||Human||11||sword, Jump, Affect Normal Fires||Killed by Elrei (but resurrectable).|
|Lore||Sir Albacore||2.4||Paladin||3/5 Orc||17||3/5 Longsword|
|Raven||Blackdeath||4.1||Ranger||Raven||30||Talon Blades; 2 glowing arrows & crossbow; chalk; wig; foil; talking box; piccolo; gold filling; vial|
|Kemlo||Stratford||1.3||Bard||Coyote Furry||7||Human femur||Fried by wizard|
|Ken||Fernbar||2.1||Druid||Half-Elf||13||Club; Speak w/ animals, pass w/o trace; horse||Has tin leg|
|Babich||Flippy||1.8||Fighter||Half-Elf||9||Sword||Killed by thief|
|Samwise||Xengar||4.2||Thief||Human||15||Dagger, Darts; gem; horse|
|Sol-D||Adry||3.0||Artist||Human||12||X-acto; big big sword; oxy-field & translator; garish magic quill (9); gold filling|
|SoiledGreen||Erik||2.0||Thief||Dwarf||10||sword, dagger, tix||Saved from orcs|
|Mr. Ben||Pontiac||2.5||Fighter||Human||16||sword||Wandered by near Chuza|
|Mdxi||Dwayne El-Shabazz||1.3||Cleric||Human||7||Cure, Detect Evil||Met in Gurëna|
|Kemlo||Lee Harvey Kemlo||2.9||Assassin||Human||10||Dagger, poisons; small gem||Met in Buyel. Killed by Elrei (plus friendly fire).|
|DML||Soy Peikoff||1.4||Druid/Thief||Orc||6||Met in Buyel|
|Dodge||El Regate||1.6||Rogue||Half-elf||7||Dagger; golden chalice||Met in Buyel|
By the way, you can follow the progress of the party here.
Leth worked up a picture of Capalert here. You may get a permissions error, which can be cleverly defeated by entering the URL yourself: http://leth.50megs.com/images/capalert1.jpg
It's the beginning of a little scenario I like to call...
There are fights and disturbances. More so than is normal at Fred's, that is. It turns out that the band is a band of thieves; many patrons have been pickpocketed (including Morwen and Leth), the bar's priceless collection of porcelain bunnies has been lifted, and Fred's daughter Alsara is missing.
The party is enticed to go after Elrei. They have loot, after all, and Fred is offering a tasty reward for the return of his daughter.
The basilisk is dispatched, but Morwen ends up turned to stone.
Oh, the bears. Enquiring after Elrei, the party hears something about bears. This baffles everyone.
Though 3rd level, the little guy is seriously outnumbered, and succumbs. He was carrying a dire flail (which Surley picked up), a +1 Sword of Poking Things Sharply (to Elfstar), and a resurrection spell (Capalert). Unfortunately the spell is not indicated for persons made of gravel.
Down the road a piece, a giant river squid is attacking five people... well, four people and a bird. Heroic as always, though muttering nastily to themselves, Elfstar and Albacore attack, and the others join in... except Kemlo, who prefers to natter on about the squid possibly being an enchanted princess. A mêlée follows... that's a French word for "fight", if you can believe in such a thing... during which the squid is blinded and hacked up, but manages to kill Burger.
The squid manages to get away, but at least it leaves behind enough tentacles for a bitchen calamari dinner. There's also a ring on one tentacle... more of a bracelet for humanoids... or a hula hoop for ravens... which Ntilde takes. It leaves him feeling strangely attractive, though only to female squids.
The oldcomers generously used their resurrection scroll to revive Burger. He had the recipe.
The town is arty and musical, with a chance of mimes. Sure enough, one of the white-faced bastards accosts them, pretending to walk against a heavy rain. He dodges a few blows; then Kemlo and Surley do him in, but not before he can pantomime opening a window and gasping for air. Black Death steals his beret.
Fernbar leads the party to the digs of Xengar, an experienced thief who spent a year touring with Elrei. He left over artistic differences. The party spins some yarn about wanting to give Elrei some money an innkeeper owed them and really needing a receipt for the accountants. They also, in triple quick time, succeed in emptying Xengar's liquor cabinet. Xengar agrees to go with the party, if nothing else to get them out of his house.
The next day, they run into a band of a dozen orcs, carrying a dwarf prisoner. The chief orc is riding a boar, which Fernbar druidily talks to. They bought the boar when entering human territory, and caught the dwarf when he was rifling through their packs one night.
Capalert attempts to parley with the orcs. "Have license," the chief insists. "It dwarf season. All legal."
Apparently deciding that the only orc that gives experience points is a dead orc, Capalert, Xengar, Fernbar, Blackdeath, Ntilde, and Surley attack. At the cost of some damage to themselves, they dispatch seven of the one-hit-die wonders and wound two more. The remaining orcs decide to skedaddle, except for the one whose legs they cut off.
The prisoner turns out to be Erik, a dwarven thief. The legless orc tries to turn the party against Erik, claiming that he has a valuable jewel... if they don't find it on him, he ate it. No one, however, slices Eric open. Erik claims he was just looking for food.
The orcs have a reasonable amount of gold, some el cheapo swords, two metal doodads, plenty of porn, and a potion of some sort.
Adry [in the transcript she's called Andrea], who's joined the group somehow without anyone asking any questions, takes a liking to the prisoner; but he prefers to be left alone.
The remainder of the party try to look completely unrelated to Erik, and wander about looking for bars and/or temples. They end up at a magic shop, the Wondrous Waterfowl, where they learn:
Ntilde buys an invisibility scroll with the money swiped from the orcs. As is usual in these games, nothing else that might be useful is cheap enough to buy.
What with all the flapping of ducks and such, the party is a bit distracted as it leaves Anaseri, and thus doesn't notice for half a day that Elfstar is missing.
A couple of monks come by, and at the cost of half a dozen monastic magazines, the party learns that they saw an elf in the company of a man in black leather. But where oh where could they be now?
They soon learn: a man in black leather is sitting in the middle of the road waiting for the party to come by. He obviously doesn't know how long it takes to get this party moving. Surley, Capalert, Flippy, Stratford, Erik, Ntilde, and Albacore investigate, meaning "attack wildly."
Many blows are exchanged, and enough hit the thief that he decides to decamp into the bushes. He's located soon enough, but this time a parley ensues. Basically he's been sent to give a scary go-back-or-your-elf-gets-it warning to the party, only he's rather muffed it, by almost getting himself killed.
There's some discussion of what to do with him. Flippy precipitates things by pestering the thief one too many times; the thief counter-attacks, and Albacore and the others finish him off. Flippy manages to get himself killed during this.
This leaves the problem of locating Elfstar. The thief had hinted that she was at the bridge in Chuza, down the road. With no better clues available, the party boldly sends Blackdeath to scout out the bridge.
Blackdeath returns and reports that she's found the bridge, and heard a muffled Elfstar-like cry from under it; unfortunately, there's also a nasty green monster there. The locals sacrifice a chicken or other animal in order to cross the bridge.
The party trumps off to the bridge, and scouts around gingerly. This phase ends when Fernbar is grabbed by a large pimply green arm and dragged into the river. He's pulled to safety, but not before the monster has bitten off one of his legs.
There's a moment of quiet; then, using the orcish doodads, Adry and Surley look under the pylons and find the green hulking form of a troll. Surley attacks, and the troll (perhaps inadvisedly) rushes at him.
Mêlée ensues-- Adry, Blackdeath, Kyol, Albacore, a mysterious new arrival named Pontiac, Surley, Capalert, and Xengar press the attack. Trolls, of course, regenerate, which makes them formidable foes as well as great fun at parties. They defeat him, and someone remembers that Blackdeath is carrying a vial of acid, which they use to kill the troll for good. (Fire works too; but it was raining, and no one could start a fire.)
Fernbar and Kyol are wounded almost to the point of death, and Capalert isn't doing much better. They check for loot, finding little of interest besides a couple of gemstones and a golden chalice marked "Thanks, Caloton! You're the best priest ever!"
This suggests the idea of heading back to Chuza, where they find a rather dim priest, Caloton's successor, and then the village chief. Once he is convinced that the troll is indeed dead, the townspeople rejoice and throw a feast (a near-meatless one, since their animals have been wasted on the troll). The party is healed, provisioned, regaled with petty change, and given a fine almost-new horse. Fernbar is even fitted with a serviceable tin leg.
Tantalizingly, they also hear that a magician in Gurëna creates monsters out of rocks. Perhaps he could reconstitute the pile of gravel that used to be Morwen.
They traipse out to the castle, and are led inside and fed duck sandwiches by Torgo, who tAkEs cArE oF tHe cAstLe whIlE thE mAsTeR iS aWaY. There's also a mysterious panther hanging around the great hall. Naunai, the concubine, shows up, and flirts relentlessly with the male members of the party. Mindless of the old saw, "Don't hit on the chicks of wizards," they flirt back.
The panther abruptly morphs into the wizard Përsanno, who calls them amusing fools. The party asks relatively nicely for his help in putting Morwen back together-- the qualification being due to Stratford, who asks rudely. The wizard wearily fries him with a lightning bolt.
Përsanno agrees to fix up Morwen-- if the party can defeat his pair of rock elementals, Chris and Rolling. He temporarily enchants their weapons to make it a fair fight. The battle is joined by Blackdeath, Capalert, Surley, Ntilde, Pontiac, Dwayne, Kyol, and Erik. The highlights, I think, are Erik slicing off a rocky testicle, Dwayne shouting about Rutabaga Power, and Surley having a rock monster fall on him.
They manage to kill both monsters without any deaths (Pontiac and Kyol come close). The wizard comes out, rebuilds his precious elementals, and then sets to work on Morwen. He takes the opportunity, while she's still in malleable form, to sculpt her some enormous... er, rutabagas.
Torgo hustles them out-- tHe lInGeRiE wReStlInG iS aBoUt tO bEgiN-- and the party stumbles back to town. Besides a sighting of Snake 'n Bacon, the only event of note is Dwayne receiving a note from Naunai. She heard them talking about Elrei, and tells him that they're in the royal park south of Ulian. "Ask the bears," she advises. "And don't piss them off. Your friends are kind of rude." Dwayne carefully preserves the note, which smells of perfume and contains a big red lipstick kiss.
Cantiego is across the river from the city of Vyat; they take the opportunity to consult with (and burglarize) an antiquarian at the university, Alsar, who exemplifies the approach to archeology current in Verduria: He shudders at the thought of dirtying his hands with actual ruins; he'd rather read about the city in books. Besides, it's full of monsters.
That's all the party needs to hear. They enter the ruined city, where they find a couple of gargoyles guarding a decrepit temple. For once it's the monsters who attack... gargoyles are like that. The party manages to knock them off, and pick up some loot: a gold chalice; a couple of scrolls; some weirdly glowing arrows; and a bottle of whitish, sludgy liquid. (They also have some biscuits, honey, wine, and old maps from Alsar's office.)
They then head back to Vyat to await the others.
To save time next game, let me note that for gameplay reasons, magic items in D&D are supposed to be difficult to acquire. So you're not going to be able to get some with pocket change. Gems make a good analogy: you have enough money to travel and buy normal supplies, but not to get yourself a large diamond.There are posters around town advertising a free concert by Elrei. The party attends, along with seemingly half the population of Vyat. Xengar points out some of the band members: John of Elsewhere on lead vocals and petty larceny; Esto Frondo on rhythm guitar and daggers; his girlfriend Loncai Macrey on harpsichord and sudden death in the dark of night; Fatandor on burglary and bass.
They manage to pick a fight with a barbarian, and involve a few nearby dwarves and orcs as well. Strangely, this doesn't attract much notice; it's not even the only fight going on. There's something disorienting about an Elrei concert. For instance, Blackdeath tries to fly right at the band, but gets confused by the lights and ends up buzzing the bartender.
Capalert gets attention, however, when he casts a Silence spell on the stage. The crowd, furious at the interruption, mobs the stage.
Adry and Surley sneak backstage, in time to see band members disappearing down the cellar stairs. They follow, and accost Fatandor; but another band member comes up behind them. Unusually, no bloodshed ensues. The band gets away. (The cellar has a tunnel leading to an outbuilding, which leads directly to the street.)
Capalert and Blackdeath go outside and try to get backstage through a window; their way is however blocked by a very large man with a very long sword, who turns out to be Zolges Peleon, chief of security. They chat a bit, learning that the disorientation is due to an artefact from the fabled collection of Hurtlefark the Malingering. He also notes that the combination of thievery and progressive rock has been extremely lucrative.
Xengar complains that his purse has been stolen, and Ntilde finds that his invisibility scroll has been lifted as well.
Looking for further excitement, Adry, Lee Harvey, Ntilde, Pontiac, Erik, Blackdeath, and El Regate wander across the river to Cantiego, the ruined city that keeps on rockin'. A pterodactyl prevents Blackdeath from doing much scouting, and distracts the party so they don't see the skeletons attacking.
The skeletons are fairly wimpy little creatures, and it's amusing to watch them explode into a hundred bones... though as the ten of them are dispatched, they almost take a few of the party with them.
Those ruins prove irresistable once more. Adry, Ntilde, Lee Harvey, Capalert, Blackdeath, Xengar, Surley, and the unexpectedly reappearing Mrs. Steve explore a large intact building. Exercising all their adventuring know-how, they soon lock themselves in.
Venturing into a cavernous space filled with huge barrel-like structures, weirdly glowing pipes, and inscrutable machines, they encounter a mound of slime. They're inclined to attack it, but Xengar and Blackdeath talk to it, and it turns out to be reasonably friendly. In fact, it barters some shiny metallic stuff and a talking-singing box for three of Blackdeath's arrows. It then uses the arrows to fix one of the machines, which it uselessly explains is a turmicator.
It soon becomes evident that the building is actually a spaceship. Grmmm, the slime heap, forgets to let the natives off before blasting off. They meet Ensign Mary Sue $rmbowock, a fetching young hominid, and then the reptilian Cmdr. (Decorated Foreleg) Baphalomaug, 4xi, and Lt. (Tail Permitted) Aiiiiba, 2xp, the canid navigator.
Then the Thingorid Swarm attacks. The party offers to help, but Baphalomaug explains that they could not possibly understand cybercrossbows and tele-VR-swordfighting. Mary Sue brightly points out, however, that their medieval acumen and bloodthirstiness will work perfectly.
Aiiiiba hooks them up to the neural simulator that's used to control the ship's weaponry, and they face the Swarm. To the party, it appears that they're having a normal mêlée with ten or so fuzzy batlike creatures. They fight valiantly, eventually discovering that they do better if they team up on a bat. The bats learn the same thing, and almost dispatch several of the party.
The Swarm is defeated, but Aiiiiba manages to plow into an asteroid. He expires messily, and Mary Sue tearfully explains that we've run out of time to advance the plot further.
Mary Sue explains that to get the ship moving they need the captain; and to get him moving they need some seral jelly-- which can be found in the downed swarm vessels.
The party takes the ship's shuttle and jets over to an asteroid where a couple of the tiny little Thingorid shiplets crashed. Since there are just two oxy-fields, Surley and Adry take them and investigate the ship. It turns out that one of the swarms has survived, and is reasonably friendly, under the circumstances. It considers the Me7k@eal Conferacy to be horrible oppressors, and says that they destroyed its homeworld.
Blackdeath, suspicious or merely wacked out, tries to kill Mary Sue. He's almost succeeded when Ntilde uses his ESP to read her mind. He confirms that Mary Sue has been telling the truth (but also that the Confederals destroyed the Thingorid homeworld).
The thingorids decide they want the metal doodads (which they call 'flashlights'), and in return for them they give Surley some seral jelly, and Adry a universal translator.
It offers to take them back to Almea. They accept, though only after some rather tedious logistic problems are surmounted (no one trusts Mary Sue any more; the Thingorid shiplets can land on Almea, but can only carry two humans at a time; the shuttle is for interplanetary space only). They end up taking Mary Sue back to her ship, taking the shuttle back to Almea orbit, and letting the swarm ferry them down. After this, the swarm blows up the Me7k@eal shuttle.
They're now in Ulian, ahead of the rest of the party... perhaps they can beat them to Elrei's loot.
Blackdeath, Ntilde, Surley, Xengar, Lee Harvey, Adry, and Capalert look around Ulian for clues on Elrei, which they find in the shape of Elreimania, a curio shop maintained by an Elrei groupie named Mindy. Mindy recognizes Xengar as a former band member, and keeps pestering him till he agrees to spend ten minutes alone with her in the back room. He reluctantly takes on this sacrifice in return for important information-- Elrei's current whereabouts.
These turn out to be the Chironásh Caverns a couple days' ride to the south, in the Kellyde Forest. These touristically significant caves are part of a royal park, staffed entirely by talking bears, who take the party on a tour of the cave for only 3 gold pieces a head, and kindly charge nothing for the zombies.
A bear named Bruin leads them, for an extra fee, into the non-public areas of the cave, showing them Fat Man's Trial, the narrowest tunnel in the cave system. Blackdeath and Ntilde (who after all is an elf) have no problem with this tunnel, and find themselves in the secret hideout of Elrei... they find their kitchen and music room, where a few members are practicing. Ntilde uses some ESP on the scary-looking chick, who turns out to be Ailura, a thief/saxophonist. The band has an upcoming gig in Beldan in 5 days and in Ulian in a week. Blackdeath scouts on in another direction, and finds some other interesting rooms, including one filled with giant ants, and another that serves as a cloakroom. She also manages to swipe a piccolo.
At the same time Xengar, exploring a bit in the east cavern, finds a service entrance to the cave. Outside in the woods, he, Surley, and Lee Harvey see a troupe of monks filing past, marching and practicing martial arts. They are disciples of one Master Lu. They are aware of Elrei as "evildoers", but aren't interested in helping to fight them. However, they do run a week-long course in Master Lu's fighting techniques for 100 gold pieces a pop.
Amazingly, the party got through all this without attacking anyone, even Mindy.
The bear leads them to the entrance to the west caverns, where Elrei hangs out. (The bears don't really approve of what the band has done to the cave, remodelling and fortifying and adding monsters and all.) The entrance is marked only by a small circular metal plaque with the letter E incised on it. Adry uses her magic quill to draw the hillside with the door open, and the demons obligingly open the door. They find themselves in the section of cave that Blackdeath had explored last time.
Inside, past a small room with a time clock, coffee, and donuts, they find a large room with an underground river and a giant slug. They use the oxy-fields from the space opera to cross the river, and attack the slug. As soon as its miniscule brain figures this out, it counter-attacks, with great gobs of d12 acidic saliva. It takes some time, but they slowly hack the thing to (large, gelatinous) pieces.
Amid the slug guts they find a few gold fillings, two vials, and a condom filled with heroin.
The party decides to sleep in the cave in hopes of recovering their health and spells. However, they're awakened in the middle of the night by a baker's half-dozen of giant ants. When one of them starts to cart Adry off, they attack. The ants are not hard to kill, but the party doesn't feel all that rested.
They make their way deeper into the cave. In the practice room they find a thick steel door, which Xengar manages to unlock and, a-skeert of the netherworldly sounds and odors within, lock again.
In the next room, the council chamber, they run into Zolges, the band's head of security. They parley a bit, but Zolges isn't buying their stories anymore. They attack instead. Zolges does fairly well for himself against the nine adventurers, but succumbs. (Blackdeath is barely saved from a similar fate herself.)
Zolges was carrying a set of keys, which might let them into the locked room. Instead, however, the party decides to charge on up the stairs; and in general, they keep on charging.
The room above is a trophy room; beyond that there's a room full of Elrei, and nearby, a Starbucks (those guys are everywhere). A band member pokes his head in, and Lee Harvey (I believe it was) fires a dagger at him. He misses.
The party pursues him into a large cavern that serves as a barracks. Here they find half a dozen members of Elrei facing them. Some look rather shaggable, especially the chick in black leather; but the party chooses to attack. This does not go as well as it might-- indeed, Lee Harvey, Mrs. Steve, and Ntilde are all knocked into the Coma of Zero Hit Points. A priapic ancient Roman conjured up by Adry fails to help anything (except perhaps to add a few new layers of neurosis).
The band's co-leader, Esto, eventually offers to negotiate... or perhaps we'd might as well say, dictate terms. Frédrot's daughter Alsara-- who turns out to be one of the people they were just trying to kill-- doesn't have any intention of returning to Verduria. They are to take a letter to that effect back to Fred-- all except old bandmate Xengar, who will remain as a hostage. And-- as further insurance that the party will not betray Elrei's hiding place to the royal army-- Esto asks that they visit Master Lu's monastery and wreak a little havoc. The party agrees.
Combat is hard to just make up, so I am rolling up who's hit and damage levels. I do keep track of hit points. If you reach 0, you are dead but can be resurrected within a day or two.
I'm assuming you have money and provisions for a wilderness adventure, and the normal tools for your class (e.g. a thief's lockpicks). And you always know where your towel is. But anything out of the ordinary you have to look for and buy (if you can afford it). I.e., you can't just conjure up a horse or a bellows or a block and tackle.
You have to find treasure or kill things, or at least do really heroic things, to advance in level. This is a fairly slow process, according to the rules. To simplify things, I've used fractions of a level rather than a fixed set of experience points.
There's nothing you really need to know about the milieu, Verduria; I use it because it's convenient for me. Probably the only relevant fact is that Verduria's technological level is similar to Europe circa 1700, minus reliable guns. So things like spectacles, watches, and telescopes are not anachronisms.