Wednesday 24 August 2022

Trollopulous Reloaded Session Report: 1


As I'm sure you know, I play the Patron Wizard Macho Mandalf, as well as several PCs, in the Trollopulous campaign. This session I sat in the DM's chair for the first time in the campaign.

This session (and the next) were unusual in that I could only DM in a limited way, since there is a lot of stuff about the world that the main DM knows that I don't (and don't want to know!)

So the set up was a slightly more restricted than normal BrOSR scenario, based off of the May Domain unsuitable encounters. We've since become a lot more experienced with sharing the DM chair, something I may put some thoughts down about in a later post.

In writing this session report, I realised that there was so much background that I should go back and complete Domain reports and other posts to set the scene. If you have been following those posts you'll know that at the end of May this happened

Since this article appeared in the esteemed paper of record, the Machodor Daily, some time has passed without any further sign of the Vampire or the 300 Trollops.

This session was played on 24/Jun/2022 and the PCs adventured for 1 day.

For the last few weeks the player characters have been lazing around in their comfy accommodations within the Adventurers Aid Society Octagon in the outer circle of the city of Minas Mandalf. The day came when the manager, Iolanthis, brought to their attention some work that needed doing in relation to this Vampire problem. He informed them that through ranger tracking and clerical magic, the forces of Machodor were aware of the following;
  • The 300 Trollops passed by and then walked backwards in their tracks to a stone doorway hidden at the base of a large mound deep in the swamp about 30 miles from Minas Mandalf. This highly coordinated attempt to throw off trackers was successful against the dim witted Puglins, but not against Rangers from the Pegasus Scout Regiment.
  • The doorway leads to a temple dedicated to a demon of the ancient world, now long forgotten, but worshipped as a god by the primitive people of the time, known to them as Huheuteotl.
  • An old (but much more recent than the temple) graveyard was found at the top of the hill.
  • Commune has been used to confirm that there is only one Vampire, none of the Trollops have been turned into undead (yet).
  • The "Magic Mirror" cannot penetrate the temple, but can transport the party to a location just outside the stone door.

Mission: Go into the temple and find the location of the Vampire, mapping the route and location of any traps, then return and furnish the information to Haragon, a Level 12 Cleric waiting outside with his team.

Reward: All treasure found along the way plus 50% of treasure held by the Vampire. The adventurers have options to; kill the vampire themselves (in this case they receive 100% of any treasure), help Haragon kill the vampire, or wait outside for the Cleric to kill the Vampire without the party.

Machodor Forces on site:

Haragon and his supporters (Level 6 Cleric, Level 7 Paladin, Level 5 Paladin, & Level 5 Psionic Paladin)

Pegasus Scout Regiment 2nd squad (The Whitescales).

10 Puglins

Wand of Secret Door and Trap detection available.

Mandalf’s Prismatic Sunglasses available.

Five players answered the call. They soon found themselves in the Mirror facility, deep in the bowels of the central keep of Minas Mandalf. Here they met with the Macho King himself, who had recently finished researching a new spell;

Macho Mandalf's Prismatic Sunglasses (Abjuration, Conjuration/Summoning)
Level: 5 Components: V,S
Range: Touch Casting Time: 5 segments
Duration: 12 turns + 6 turns/level  Saving Throw: Special
Area of Effect: special

Explanation/Description: This spell enables the magic-user to conjure up a 
pair of shimmering, multi-colored, dazzling sunglasses which provide infravision to 60' and protection against all negative effects that operate via the visual faculties, for example; the gaze attack of a basilisk, a continual light spell cast on the eyes, the fear effect from the sight of a mummy, even the charming gaze of a vampire.

Where the recipient of this spell would otherwise suffer from such effects they are negated. In addition, a saving throw is made, which, if successful, causes the effect or effects to be reversed back on their originator, if possible, causing them to suffer the same effects or, if appropriate, make a saving throw but with a -4 penalty due to the amplification effect of the glasses' magic.

When you're working for a Patron with a new spell

Through the wonders of the Mirror Of Mental Prowess, the group placed themselves right at the mysterious door just after dawn, giving themselves the entire day to find the Vampire before night falls, and vampires are reputed to rise.

Haragon handed a Wand of Secret Door and Trap Detection to the party ‘scout’ (Machodor does not condone thieves) and set up his camp with a Daern’s Instant Fortress, while Puglins played in the muddy swamp not far away. Erwin (Thief Level 3) studied the wand and hoped it worked as advertised.

Although the Pegasus Scout Regiment squad had found a graveyard, they had not investigated it, so the party decided to make the fairly difficult climb to the top of the hill, starting from the side opposite the door. Treefingers (Ranger level 1) led the way around. Once at the top they brushed themselves off and examined the small graveyard, which contained a number of headstones; but was dominated by a square mausoleum about 20’ wide. They noted that the names had been worn away from all the headstones and above the door to the mausoleum, which was slightly ajar. Further examination convinced them that this was done in a deliberate act, rather than natural weathering.

A charge or two from the wand was used to check for traps, revealing none. Within the cracked stone of the mausoleum the party found some clues; a recently deceased body that had been battered to death, three raised platforms that had recently had something heavy dragged across them, and a small hand axe on the cracked stone floor. 

Most interestingly, a search of the body produced a map.

This map showed a stepped pyramid, apparently, judging by other geographical features, at the location where they were currently standing.

The ranger Treefingers was able to track the footsteps of someone who had carried a heavy object out of the room, across the graveyard and down the hill in the direction of the door at its base.

Puzzled by all this, but feeling they had done due diligence in this location, the party climbed back down the hill (carefully avoiding a snake) and made ready to open the heavy stone door.  

Several turns of fruitless shoving later, the door finally yielded and the party could see a corridor leading into the hill. The structure was made up of a seemingly random combination of granite, obsidian, and red stone, the latter of which give off a faint glow.

Before taking another step, Erwin used the wand to detect traps, and they were standing right next to some sort of trapped flagstones. They carefully marked these stones with ash that Shinji (Simple Mendicant Wujen level 3) implausibly had large quantities of for some reason.

Moving past the trap and into the corridor proper, the atmosphere became hot and stifling, very noticeable to those in heavy armour.

There was another trap at the end of the corridor where it met stairs going up. Once again they marked and avoided this, then ascended the stairs up into a large room. From the top of the stairs they could see the room contained three sarcophagi, two pillars that looked a bit oddly formed, and wall decorations depicting the male and female gods of which the party had been briefed.

From where the thief crouched at the entrance he could also see two bodies on the floor, though his view of them was mostly blocked behind sarcophagi. There was quite a bit of discussion as, via the wand, a suspicious section of wall proved to hide a secret door. One of the characters moved forward to investigate, which triggered the activation of the two columns. They transformed into moving statues in the shape of the depicted goddess of vice, Tlazolteotl, each bearing a steel sword (after this the two bodies were ignored, but an examination would have shown that they been sliced to ribbons with a sharp blade).

Momentarily struck by the authentic Harryhausenian animation, the party recovered and moved as one to attack the two statues, which proved a difficult task after a longsword +1  broke when it hit the solid stone figure. Since the weapon had been borrowed from the Minas Mandalf armoury, this event brought on mixed feelings of loss.

Hypnotic Pattern was deployed by Shinji, a spell which I had to look up to adjudicate. Amazingly, this spell makes no provision for immunity to automatons such as those they faced, which had +4 on saving throws anyway, so I allowed it to apply as written. One statue failed its save, immediately halving the danger to the party as it stopped to stare at the pattern.

A couple of different techniques were now employed by the party to ameliorate the risk to their weapons. Shinji allowed his Shortsword +2 to be used, thinking (wrongly), that it would be proof against shattering. As it happened, the sword was successfully deployed without breaking, reinforcing this belief. Erwin attempted to grapple the statue, and soon learned that short & light thieves are outclassed in this arena by stone statues.

The others plugged away while the non-hypnotized statue whiffed a few attacks. Finding little purchase with his bow, Treefingers decided also to grapple; but went flying through empty space as his attack came simultaneously with solid hits from Tancred (Level 4 Paladin) and Steiner (Level 4 Dwarf Fighter) that shattered the automaton. Shinji kept concentrating on his pattern until they had destroyed the second animated column.

A search of the room found mummified bodies clad in ornate bronze armour within the two outer sarcophagi, then they discovered that the centre sarcophagus actually contained a steep stair cut into stone, heading down.

Down the stairs and around the corner the party found a room with a five more sarcophagi, this time standing, positioned around a huge statue of Huheuteotl. Its eyes seemed to stare back at them from the far side of the room. Evil was detected; but, again, traps were not.

Erwin decided to make straight for the presumed jewels in the brow of the statue; but as soon as he got in range, the statue's eyes lit up and sent a searing blast of light his way. As this was a manifestation of the awesome power of Huhueteotl, the blast could not be dodged, and burned away a chunk of flesh from its target. At the same time the doors to the 5 sarcophagi swung open, giving the party a shock. However, the only things that came out were the desiccated, and very dead, mummified guards that fell to the floor with a clatter. It seemed that the magic power which would have animated them was no longer puissant enough to do so.

Next round the laser eyed statue blasted Tancred, and things started to look a little dicey for the PCs; until they realised there was space behind the statue, between the wall and its back. They now rushed to squeeze into the space together and began to methodically chip away at the statue until it fell to bits.

Feeling worse for wear, the party eschewed continuing down the passage that led out of the room to the west, but instead returned back up stairs, opened the secret door they had previously located, and explored the passage behind it (narrowly avoiding to forget to use the wand and dying horribly!). After several turns they found stairs going up to another room, presumably near the top of the pyramid.

It was getting late so they gathered up the bronze armour and other items they could carry (included the stone head of the Huheuteotl statue) and retraced their steps back outside. Haragon copied their map and was pleased with their efforts, and was also understanding that to complete the job they would have to return to the swamp at another time.


Monsters: 1120xp

Treasure: 2500gp. Back in Minas Mandalf there was a sage/merchant who was very interested in their finds, and payed well for the armour and weapons etc.

Total XP :3620xp


Session PCs

Steiner (Dwarf Fighter Level 4)

Erwin (Human Thief Level 3)

Treefingers (Human Ranger Level 1)

Shinji (Human Mendicant Wujen Level 3)

Tancred (Human Paladin Level 4)

Supporting Characters

Haragon (Human Cleric Level 12)

Tuesday 23 August 2022

The Magic Mirror of Machodor


-- From the notes of Macho Mandalf

It was early on, when the walls of Minas Mandalf had scarcely dried, that a force of Dervish arrived to join forces with me. This in itself was not unusual, but their Leader Agamanon (Level 12 Cleric) had with him an item I had never heard of, one that would transform the nature of life in Machodor. The name of this magic item was the Mirror of Mental Prowess.

DMG 1e Magic Item description

AD&D 2nd Edition version of the Mirror

Before coming into possession of this mirror, messages travelling via Pegasus Express was the main method of communication, and required about 24 hours to go from one end of Machodor to the other. Now, messages could travel in real time. But not just messages; troops, materials, and most of all, Adventurers could now be deployed where and when they were needed.

The Adventurers believe I facilitate this for their benefit, which is partly true, but more often than not their efforts are directed towards the good of the realm.

Initially, I allowed Adventurers to simply enter the facility via the keep itself, but now I have them transported into the facility via a special room built for this purpose in the Adventurers Aid Society Octagon in the outer section of the city of Minas Mandalf.

Transporting large groups

King Valentine

I could even use this wonder mirror to make contact with my home reality; W.W.Earth. When I did so I contacted my old friend King Valentine of the Broldor Elves. He was experiencing great difficulties and welcomed the chance to bring his whole clan over to my new world.

I soon realised that this mirror was so important it required the highest levels of security. Therefore, I constructed a facility for this purpose deep under the Keep of Minas Mandalf . 

Original Design for Mirror Facility (now obsolete)

Striking at evil from afar

Once I had this power I felt compelled to use it against the forces of evil, but this is not always so easy as it sounds;

I focused on the mirror. "Show me Emlyn!" The surface swirls like stirred mercury. Mystical sparks crackle from the instrument's frame. The opaque surface moves to the edges as if it were alive to reveal -- nothing. All in the mirror is pitch blackness. All can be heard is a slow dripping and quiet lapping of waves. Then a brightness appears. A ball of flame lights a brazier to reveal a barge floating on a sunless sea. On the barge is an altar and a throne. Ghouls writhe around the base of the altar. Sitting on the throne is Emlyn, dressed in gold and white robes. In her arms she cradles a new born infant. Tied to the altar is a pregnant woman. She stands and lovingly raises the infant to her teeth. And feeds. On the altar the pregnant woman struggles and screams then she's paralyzed with fear as Emlyn approaches. A nail caresses the pregnant woman's neck. Then Emlyn looks up. "It's a peeping Tom I see. We've been waiting for you."

Only the final line of defence in the above set up prevented complete disaster when I tried to destroy an enemy of Machodor, the Penanggalen Emlyn. After this incident I rebuilt the Mirror room. The plans for the current layout exist only in my mind, so they cannot not to fall into the wrong hands.

Retrieval of lost items

There are certain magic items which, once used, disappear; only to reappear in some other location, perhaps even on another plane of existence. The Mirror has even been used to track and retrieve such items;

Machodor Psicorps Logs; Initiation of Cohn Jarter, Lawful Good Fighter level 3

The surface of the mirror changes and swirls, then finally you can see what looks like an icy cavern. Light is coming into the cavern from above, illuminating a number of items piled on white skins and furs, on top of which is a small box the size of deck of cards.

Okay so Cohn Jarter steps through the portal

As you step through you can feel your body being transported in some way, and then you find yourself in the very cold cavern. The process seemed to take longer than normal.

I move forward and attempt to find the deck

Once inside the cave, your eyes adjust and you can see a lot better what is in there. The walls are white and icy, but there is enough light to see. You carefully note the exact location where you are standing, knowing that you must find it again to return to Minas Mandalf. Ahead of you, the deck sits upon a pile of treasure; coins, gems, and jewellery can be seen as well as a potion flask and a scroll. As you move you notice 3 huge creatures standing around the treasure pile, clearly they are guarding it. They are 8' tall, look like shaggy white apes, you realise that previously they had been perfectly camouflaged against the backdrop of the icy cavern. As you watch they sniff the air around them, but take no action.

Okay so I'm going to creep, slowly and quietly, up to place where the deck is sat, and do the Indiana Jones thing with the false deck. I touch NOTHING but the deck itself, not even the surface it lies on.

Ok you expertly swap the deck out and the shaggy white creatures have no clue. That was so easy, you wonder if you could grab something else...

No I do not. I steal the deck, AND ONLY THE DECK, and creep back over to the portal to Minas Mandalf 


The Magic Mirror is now the back bone of rapid transport for Machodor, enabling routine travel to St. Therese in the 5 Cities area, the Flying Castle occupied by the Broldor Elves and their Cloud Giant allies, and the new island in the seas far to the south east. But, it has limitations; it does not work for the island of Bombrazillo beyond the peninsula, or areas specifically warded against scrying (as per Crystal Balls & Scrying DMG pg.119 --CJM.). Also, although it can facilitate two-way communications, there is no way to activate the Mirror from a remote location without first using some other means to attract the attention of its attendants. I have, therefore, made a high priority the recruitment of Psionic individuals with appropriate abilities to the Pegasus Scout Regiment.

Even now, the opportunity exists to smite evil, once again using the Magic Mirror to reach out and do so.

Monday 15 August 2022

Macho Mandalf's Prismatic Sunglasses

In March, After many months of busy Domain work, Macho Mandalf finally had time to settle down to some spell research. Having been nearly destroyed by a Penanggalan, he wanted a spell that would protect his sight from such horrors. As per DMG pg 115, I first brainstormed ideas with the DM, before agreeing on the level and text of the spell. Below is the result.

Macho Mandalf's Prismatic Sunglasses (Abjuration, Conjuration/Summoning)

Level: 5 Components: V,S,M
Range: Touch Casting Time: 5 segments
Duration: 12 turns + 6 turns/level  Saving Throw: Special
Area of Effect: special

Explanation/Description: This spell enables the magic-user to conjure up a 
pair of shimmering, multi-coloured, dazzling sunglasses which provide infravision to 60' and protection against all negative effects that operate via the visual faculties, for example; the gaze attack of a basilisk, a continual light spell cast on the eyes, the fear effect from the sight of a mummy, even the charming gaze of a vampire.

Where the recipient of this spell would otherwise suffer from such effects they are negated. In addition, a saving throw versus magic is made, which, if successful, causes the effect or effects to be reversed back on their source, if possible, causing it to suffer the same effects or, if appropriate, make a saving throw but with a -4 penalty due to the amplification effect of the glasses' magic. 
The caster may choose to either instantiate the glasses as objects that can be handed out to others, or a simple spell effect that attaches to the recipient for its duration. The former of these two methods requires the use of a gem not less than 500gp in value.

So, what did all this cost?

Dungeon Masters Guide Page 115, Spell Research                                       Prismatic Sunglasses

In the preceding months, a great library of arcana was created in the Minas Mandalf Keep. The minimum cost for such a thing not listed, but since the lack of one results in a 2000gp per spell level penalty, it seems reasonable to assume it the cost of the Library would be 2000gp per level of spell that could be researched in it. So 12000gp (level 6) in the case of Macho Mandalf. 

Duration of research: 5 Weeks base (minimum 6)

Chance of Success
: 10base +18 (Int) +12 (level) -10 (spell level *2) = 30%

Note that according to the above formula, adjusting the chance of success upwards is VERY expensive. A domain would need to be at least an order of magnitude more wealthy to consider such spending.

However, when you consider the conditions under which spell research is possible, the cost in time may well be a bigger loss; if you have the money then finishing the spell research ASAP could indeed be worth it.


Base cost 1000gp per week.

Weekly variable of 500 to 2000gp for additional materials.

Duration of research: 5 Weeks base (with a minimum of 6)

I was lucky and rolled under 30 on week 6, so the total expenditure ended up at 12400gp. Bargain!

Wednesday 10 August 2022

The Puglins of Machodor

Vitruvian Pug

-- From the notes of Macho Mandalf

This time or there abouts last year, the manpower situation at the "Ruined Keep" (yet to be renamed Minas Mandalf) was dire, compared to today, standing at;

150 Pugmen

6 Goblinas

Once the scourge of the Trollopulous sewers and swamps, these guys were now completely under my sway thanks to Charm spells.

Captured from the former goblin city of Nilbog. 

It seemed logical to me that Polymorph Other can change a creature's species, but not its sex; so the Charmed Goblinas were vital to my plan, which was as follows:

  1. Polymorph female goblin into a Pugwoman 
  2. NSFW
  3. Cast Haste on the pregnant Pugwoman. Haste ages its recipient 1 year, thus bringing the little blighter to term and, as it happens, maturity.
  4. Charm them 
  5.  Profit!

The plan was to repeat the above process until sufficient numbers for expansion existed.

So far so good, however, the first batch of new troops did not quite turn out the way I expected. It seems that breeding with Polymorphed creatures results in a hybrid rather than a pure blood. The creatures that emerged were smaller, weaker, and uglier than before; with the saving grace that they could now speak a language other than Yipps and barks. I needed a new name so, naturally, I called them Puglins.

The Puglins proved to be exceptional diggers, so the first job for them was digging the massive ditches first around the Keep, the foundation of the city of Minas Mandalf, then around other sites in Machodor.

One day I was explaining all this to the Half-Orc Fagor, whose alarm increased at every step of the process as he grasped its meaning. I supposed he was correct that perhaps creating a vast number of Puglins could just possibly backfire on me at some future date. I suppose also it was just as well I didn't think to apply these methods with the four captured Tharks I had.

Around the same time a huge force of 40,000 Weebs landed on the shores to the south west. I soon realised that I was not going to Puglin my way out of this problem, and ceased production.

In the end there were 450 Puglins created. 

Fort Pug

Now the majority of the Puglins live in the swamp, near Minas Mandalf, in a captured castle and are responsible for the patrol of its environs. The remainder garrison the outpost at the formerly named "Lake Town". Since its founding the lake itself has disappeared into the earth, so the place is now simply known as "Town".

Machodor Domain Report (May 2022)

Overall this was a fairly quiet month for Machodor. The discovery of a new island of adventure called Bombrazil was a factor in this. Another factor was that Macho Mandalf was finishing research on a new 5th Level spell

Far to the west the continuing siege of Hobgobiton approached a climax, with the Gnome King himself taking the field.

These were the results for the May period of encounters on the "Inhabited" table;

  • Week 1
    • Manticore
    • Pilgrims (70)
    • Wolves
  • Week 2
    • Merchants (40k)
    • Trollops + Merchants (30k)
    • Merchants (50k)
  • Week 3
    • Merchants (60k)
    • Wild Boar
    • Ahnkheg
  • Week 4
    • Vampire
    • Dervish (250)
    • Volt

Suitable Encounters

Including the Trollops there were four groups of Merchants this month. Once again, the d6 result for their base number is also multiplied by 10,000gp to derive the value of their goods. With a total of 18 rolled that becomes 180,000gp in goods, however I subtracted 30,000gp from this total due to the month's unsuitable encounter. This leaves 150,000g which breaks down to;
  • Duty at 2% = 3000
  • 10% Luxury Goods Tariff at 5% = 750
  • Sales tax of 10% = 15000
For a total of 18,750 gp. 

Pilgrims; Lawful Good with a bunch of Paladins keen to join the Order of St Michael.

Dervish; The 9th Dervish Brigade added their forces to Machodor's defences, including the Psicorps.

Citizen ship fees totalled approximately 4000gp

Unsuitable Encounters

When I rolled Trollops (a replacement entry for any demi humans rolled) accompanied by Merchants, I decided that the merchants were actually trafficking 300 of them. Not incidentally, this number of Trollops would be worth a total reward of 30,000gp if delivered from their bondage to Minas Mandalf. This amount also corresponds to the 30,000gp rolled for the merchants.

Later, when the Vampire won out over the Manticore and other unsuitable counters to come out as the main unsuitable encounter, I found it to be in close enough proximity on the road to Trollopulous to combine them in this main unsuitable encounter and potential player character mission. 

Perhaps understandably, the potential threat level of this mission proved too much initially for the players to take on, but...this is a special one as you will see in the coming weeks when I publish my DM session reports for it!

Trollopulous Adjusted Session 61 (Machodor #30);

        Foreshadowing Timekeeping This session took place on 29/02/2024, and the PCs adventured for 1 day. Player Characters Present Giusepp...