Thursday, October 16, 2014

New Monsters: The Horologe, Clockwork Devils, and Corrupted Modrons

Schedules are inherently Lawful. They may be malleable, changeable, or in some aspects vary, but inevitably they pin people down to behaving in predictable manners. Unless that schedule happens to be the one for the date and time of the game session, in which case the one highly attributable law is that no mater how far in advance a game session is planned and agreed to by everyone, those commitments don't mean squat.

Why doesn't the game schedule matter? Because more powerful devils (schedules) take precedence. Be it a family emergency or event (excusable), or work (uhm yeah, we're going to need you to come in on Saturday), or a spouse declaring that you can't go to the game (you know who you are).There is almost always a greater devil pulling the strings.

In game terms perhaps we can affix blame to a greater devil known as The Horologe.

This greater devil is assigned to diplomatic duty outside of the Hells, specifically, to Mechanus, home of the most regimented of beings, the Modrons.

Originally assigned as part of a diplomatic mission requested by Primus in a attempt to bargain safe(r) passage through the Hells for the Modrons great march every cycle, and to balance the diplomatic mission of good, The Horologe has found the position comfortable if a tad frustrating.

Corrupting Modrons is not as simple as it seems when the concepts of evil and good are equally valid and invalid to their ethos and function. Of the Modrons presently serving the local needs of Hell's diplomatic mission, less than two dozen may actually have become corrupt and truly evil, though how could anyone, even the Horologe be certain.

The Horologe decided to expand reach outside of Mechanus and into the material plane. This required new servant devils whose purpose is to corrupt through the pressure of ever tighter schedules and deadlines, and tempting victims to cheat, lie, and commit other offences in order to make deadlines or appear to have met goals. This also works on other souls by convincing them to bully their subordinates, through time pressure, creating a domino effect of corruption.

The Horologe
Unique (undergoing promotion to arch-devil)
HD 18, HP 99
Saves as F18
AEC page 115 - standard arch/greater devil abilities
Only harmed by magic weapons
Timestop 1/day
Slow 3/day
Haste 3/day
Chance to gate in 1d6 Pentadrones (Modrons) or 1d6 Clockwork Devils (65% chance of success for either). Flip a coin or choose.

The Horologe is a 9' tall humanoid devil with brass mechanical clockworkings intermixed with the organic majority of its body. The right arm appears to be mostly mechanical. The left eye is replaced with an ornate time piece. A whirring and clicking sound always accompanies The Horologe.

In addition to spell and melee damage, 3/day The Horologe can release a scalding burst of steam in a 30' radius centered upon itself. All creatures not immune or resistant to fire/heat damage take 9d6 damage (half if save). The cloud of steam also provides half cover for everything within it until the end of The Horologe's next round.

The Horologe attacks twice per round with the right arm as a +3 weapon of wounding. Damage: 1d8+5 and 1 additional damage per round (per wound from this weapon) until healed.

If The Horolge feels seriously threatened the order of events will be: Time Stop - move to include as many enemies as possible and use the steam burst, move to include others left out and repeat, then teleport without error to safety.

Clockwork Devil
Lesser Devil
HD 5, HP 33
Haste 1/day
Slow 1/day
Save as F5
Attacks: 2 claws  1d6 each, or 1 weapon with bonus +2 to hit and damage (non-magical).

Clockwork Devils are human sized mechanical appearing lesser devils with whirring gears, and pistons, and various types of timepieces for a head in their natural form. They are able to assume a human appearance when attempting to fulfill their purpose of corruption through time pressure.

Corrupted Modrons:
Corrupted Modrons will have a physical trait that may clue PCs in on their unusual nature. Maybe small horns, or red eyes, or their choice of weapon, etc. They also have a feature common to devils (DM's choice).

Note: Any artist out there feel like tackling the art for The Horologe and Clockwork Devils? I can't pay a lot, but I am willing to pay. No art for Modrons since those are WotC property to my knowledge.

Friday, October 10, 2014

No Date/Time Yet For Part 2

We have not yet set a date and time to continue with the rest of the adventure.

Part of this is because half the group that did make it to part 1 are unavailable until late November or early December. The other part is because I want to repair some of my house during the gap so sessions can again be run at home thus taking advantage of Dwarven Forge and other nifty props.

Rest assured that when a date and time is confirmed it will end up posted here, if only to see it need to be rescheduled at least once.  ;)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Have Fun Storming The Beach and Abbey!

The adventure went very well. Only 4 players managed to make it to the game, however that may have been for the better since it upped the tension, and allowed the party to level at the end of the session.

Here is a round-up of the adventure so far:

The party landed on the beach during some unpleasant weather. Shortly after gearing up they fought a battle against three overlapping waves of skeletons, eleven total, that emerged from some very large dunes and one from off shore that took a crewman.

During the battle Morokian the paladin was dropped to zero hit points and stabilized by Captain Eliza the ranger (played by a newcomer to role-playing and Dungeons and Dragons who as it turns out proved to be a natural and seemed like a long-time veteran very quickly). She had the difficult choice of trying to rescue a member of her ship's crew or saving the paladin. It was a no-win scenario, kind of a Kobayoshi-Maru test. Her decision cost the life of her crewman, but saved the party from a possible TPK. (Total Party Kill).

The party wizard, Travarian, was having some very bizarre luck with his spells, hitting easily, and doing very little damage, of the one and two point variety. Meanwhile the halfling barbarian Endzque was getting clawed, cut, and beaten pretty badly while having trouble hitting until things looked pretty dire and then things started going his way.

The party camped on the beach to heal up overnight and only had one minor disturbance. In the early dawn hours during Travarian's watch some goats were cavorting back in the treeline. He observed them for a few minutes and then went back to meditating.

The party then began exploring the island, making note that the bodies of the two crewmen that had been ambushed and slain in the trees while tying up the dingies, were nowhere to be seen.

Getting their bearings the party heads toward the spot of the old town and discovers the sight of an old mass grave that had been dug up sometime in the recent past. A short distance away they heard voices.

They investigated and discovered two odd individuals that turned out to be crew members of the pirate ship Magnar. Scram, the ship's cook and his pet chicken Lucy, and Filthy, a tall thin man with a monkey familiar named Sniffles. The conversation was full of obfuscation and dodging of questions by both groups. Eventually they parted company, each side distrustful of the other.

The party chose to follow Scram and Filthy at a distance and eventually were ambushed by three other Magnar crew, which allowed Scram and Filthy to escape in the short term. The party quickly dispatched two ambushers and captured the third.

A very convincing bit of intimidation by the wizard quickly convinced the captive to spill what she knew about the happenings on the island. The pirates arrived to "convince" the cultists to give them a greater cut of money for the goods the pirates had "recovered" being fenced through the cult. A disagreement broke out with both sides taking casualties. The pirates burned down the abbey to try and finish off the cultists, but did not get them all. Captain Sarg Hellfist left a small party behind to search the ruins of the town for something, a map of the abbey perhaps.

Party follows her to old town area where pirates have been digging near remnants of building foundations. While searching the town ruins the captive answers questions explaining that the new graves they spotted near the pirate campsite were the bodies of some of the previous expedition. She doesn't know what happened to the rest.

Nothing turns up during a two hour search, however a familiar looking monkey comes out of the woods holding a piece of paper. They read the note from Filthy and Scram asking for safe passage off the island and to safer shores. Requests for safe escape from the island become a recurring theme during the session as their captive makes the same request and later so does another individual encountered.

The captive pirate agrees to show them another way up to the abbey so they don't have to take the main road. The off-road way involves climbing about 150' of cliff giving Morokian pause when he considers his lack of dexterity and his chain mail armor. He eventually overcomes his objections after the others make it up and as a team, pull him up tied into a rope harness. The captive then parts company and climbs back down the rope.

Watching a few people gathering food among the large garden crops beside the abbey, the team plans to assault these few hoping to stifle any alarm so they can enter the abbey unnoticed. The plan consists of Endzque sneaking closer to the workers in the field and seeing if they are alone. Then he would fire at one of them and get the attention of the others, hoping to draw all of them out to confront him while his companions wait in ambush. The plan starts to go wrong and then another amazing critical hit bow shot by Eliza prevents the alarm from being raised.

The newcomer's sharp-shooter ranger was rolling critical hits often during the session.

The party then snuck into the abbey down a long, steep flight of stairs. They followed the sound of voices and managed to catch two unarmored cult acolytes and a well armored guard unprepared. That fight was over quickly, but before they could do much more, two other groups came to the area.

Ogmund, the chief of the cult guards, two more of his guardsmen, another acolyte, and another mysterious person had come for a meeting, only to discover the bloody corpses. (Yes, even chaotic cults sometimes have their bureaucratic moments). The party was soon discovered and combat began while the acolyte ran for help.

Things had the potential to go badly, however Morokian held position against Ogmund while Travarian and Eliza blasted away with spells and arrows. Endzque, who had already wounded Ogmund, remained back in the room fighting guards and cultists, and trying to encourage the mysterious pale countenanced individual to enter the room.

The mysterious figure would not come into the room, preferring to remain in the shadowy hallway and ask for help escaping the island. For some reason, even creepy looking types seem to want to get away from the island.

As Ogmund's allies began to drop, including the two acolytes who arrived as re-enforcements, he tried to retreat to the stairs. Travarian had the last word, firing off a Magic Missile spell, slaying Ogmund, sending him tumbling noisily down a flight of stairs.

The Mysterious individual had vanished back into the darkness and this is where we stopped the session.

The characters earned more than enough XP to achieve second level (381.5 each). Once we determine a good date and time to continue, we will get on with plundering the abbey.

Everyone had a good time and we look forward to continuing the adventure.

Originally the adventure was to be run in two parts. The first was to include the exploration of the island, discovery of the fate of the first expedition, a number of encounters to both generate XP and give a solid sense of the strangeness and danger of the island. The second would be the approach and assault on the abbey. Real Life(TM) stepped in and scuttled that plan so it came down to a greatly abbreviated single session which we almost completed.

Morokian's player realized he would be having more fun running a rogue than a Paladin so he is creating the replacement character between sessions. We will figure out how to make the switch when the time comes. (I already have some ideas.)

For the next session which will be more location based and less sandbox, I plan to build the entire abbey location using my Dwarven Forge collection. If this opportunity does present itself, there will be pictures to include in the blog post.

Something else you may find of interest: go to YouTube and search for Retro Roleplaying or Captcorajus to check out the content my friend has on his channel. He is working on a review of the 5th edition Monster Manual which may be posted soon.

Friday, September 26, 2014

On The Eve Of Battle

Tomorrow is the day of battle.

Tonight and early tomorrow I will gather my implements of mayhem and set forth to the site of play. I will perform setup and await arrival of the 6 players whose characters face certain death, er, I mean nasty business, on the island.

The adventure is based loosely on the plot from the adventure Island of the Abbey from Dungeon Magazine issue 34.
The cover says it all, well for the red-shirts among them.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Counting Down to Go Time

In six days I will again be behind the screen.

I have an adventure cooked up to throw at some players, two of which have never played D&D on the table-top before. The adventure is based on the general premise of an old Dungeon Magazine adventure involving an island, some ruins, some pirates, cultists of an evil entity or god, and of course the search for treasure.

Here is how it is being presented to the players:

You have been hired by the Mariner's Guild along with some ship captains and wealthy merchants to go to Gull Cliff Island. They plan to build a new lighthouse atop the highest point of the island, and hired you to clear the island of hazards and find out why the old abbey on the island caught fire three weeks ago. They also asked that you try to locate the first expedition that should have returned a week ago.

The religious figures among you were also asked by an elderly priest of Phaulkon (a lesser sea god) to recover from the abbey an ancient tome, a holy book titled 'Integumentary of Spirit'. You have been given a key with markings he indicates will help you locate the correct location of the text, though he warns it likely is guarded or trapped. He promises to reward you with what he can and that the church will also reward you for recovering this important tome.

Among your party is a sea captain with her own goal on the island. She possesses part of an old captains log with a partial map, and journal entry alluding to treasure and a scrimshaw whale tooth of above average size that is the means to find a greater treasure on another island.

 - - - It is morning as you make landfall on the southern tip of the island, but you wouldn't know it due to the heavy storm clouds overhead, the driving rain, and the choppy sea. Two ships crewmen drag lines beyond the tall sand dunes to tie up the three dingies your party arrived in, while a third unloads your supplies at the shoreline. As you don your armor and weapons you hear screams from beyond the dunes . . .

. . . Roll For Initiative! - - -

Being most likely a one-shot or at best a mini-campaign, I want to throw them right into the action so that the newcomers get some immediate excitement and they all get a sense of danger and wonder about the island. The story will progress from there.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Thief Lord's reputation is Intact.

In the C&C campaign that has now converted to a D&D 5e campaign, the party were in the Thief Lord's Vault to recover the Eye of Set and anything valuable they could manage to carry.

In the party's lust for loot, they ignored the obvious indication of a trap and went right to the looting stage. Hundreds of thousands of coins, thousands of gems, magic items scattered about, it was a cornucopia of treasure and a slush fund with the potential to hire or bribe almost everyone in the city and have plenty left over. So the party waded in, feet sinking into and sliding among the coins and baubles.

At the far end of the chamber was a mirror looking object that held no reflections. That was to be both the party's downfall and salvation.

The dwarf cleric was using detect magic and his gem of true seeing (which he had mounted into an eye patch) to locate the magic items. Pilfering of the goods had begun in earnest when the trap finally sprung.

A loud KA-THUNK sound accompanied by shaking and rumbling signaled the sealing of the entrance door and the start of the entire vault tilting toward the end where the weird mirror sat. Footing quickly became an issue with everyone slipping, sliding, some falling down, and all being moved along by the landslide of treasure. The dwarf (player made some excellent rolls) managed to stay atop the treasure and rode it like a surfer while gathering magic items along the way. The rest of the party tried to keep from being buried and crushed by the coins and other valuables. It rapidly became obvious, risk jumping into the mirror portal (treasure had begun pouring through it) or being crushed beneath tons of treasure.

Everyone chose to make the leap of faith that the portal was not a death sentence.

Moments later, bruised, battered, and piled up with a mound of treasure that came through the portal with them (we estimated about a third of the Thief Lord's ill gotten gains came through with our characters) the party felt noticeably different. (out with the C&C, in with the D&D)

- we swapped out the character sheets from C&C for the D&D character sheets we had prepared ahead of the session.

The room the characters occupied was damp, vines and roots protruded from the walls and ceiling, the air was thick with humidity and hot. The place also had a swampy, fishy odor. Well, this much was certain, the party was not anywhere near Karameikos anymore, but if they could bag up the best stuff from this pile of loot and find civilization, they would be set!

Oh, right, Set . . . the party still possessed the Eye of Set which was still obviously evil. That loose end is still hanging out there to be tied up eventually.

Where were they? That question was on every one's mind, but not for long as they were rudely interrupted in their bagging of wealth by a number of Kua-Toa warriors and some of their lesser priests. Good for the party they controlled a choke point and the pace of the fight that followed.

The three Monitors (lightning casting lesser priests) and more than half of the warriors were killed and the remainder ran away. The characters went back to looting and then began trying to find a way out of the structure they were within.

After some skulking about and convincing the dwarf they could always come back for the treasure they couldn't currently haul out with them, they encountered three more priests hauling a big soggy mud ball of branches, vines leaves, and other unidentifiable organic matter. Setting upon these Kua-Toa, the party slew two immediately, but not before they blasted the ball of doom with lightning activating the hibernating Shambling Mound.

Now the fight got interesting.

It lasted 3, maybe 4 rounds during which the two fighters, the crossbow sneak attacking rogue, and the elf wizard took the shambling mound to task and the dwarf cleric focused his ranged wrath on the remaining priest. The 136 hit point shambler failed to harm anyone and was destroyed by what can only be described as a hail of utter destruction from the 5th level D&D 5e characters. The Monitor surrendered and despite lacking any clearly comprehensible means of communication was convinced the best option was to show us the exit.

- 5e characters, even from 1st level are brutally capable combatants, getting to 5th level it is amazing the damage they can dish out. The rogue was doing the most damage thanks to being able to use sneak attack at range every round. When the rogue critical hits with a sneak attack the damage is incredible. The wizard only had cantrips available otherwise my guess would be that the combat would not have gotten much beyond the first round or barely into the second round instead of 3 or 4 rounds.

All said and done, the party was shown out without further problems and the Kua-Toa even brought up 6 more bags of loot to coax them to go away.

The party located a structure to use for shelter and prepared to get a long rest. That is where things left off.

The DM is a huge fan of Mystara and associated D&D worlds and after the session we determined the party had been ported into the Hollow World.

And that is why the Thief Lord always maintains his reputation for enemies disappearing permanently. It might take a while, but our group wants to change that equation when possible.