Monday 31 October 2022

Brovenloft: Cursed Gnomeking 2 (Electric Blibdoolpoolp)

Prologue




Sundered from his Lawful Good alter ego and reconstituted by the Mists of Brovenloft TM, the Cursed Gnomeking immediately saw the #CurseOfLamalla as a blessing. For a start, the blood rain freed him to move around the map of Brovenloft without fear of destruction by the rays of the sun.

Seeking in ancient tomes he found that Blibdoolpoolp could be quite accommodating to those with enough gems, and he had lots. 


The addition of 3 levels gave him the power of a level 10 Cleric, which opened up Commune. Everything was going his way as, being an equal opportunity sacrificer, he had also received control of the Infernal Legion once more. Alas though, the goddess was beset by the forces of good from all sides and campaigns, and this threatened his new power source; he had to up his game! 


To facilitate this, he marshalled the Infernal Legion and went on a rampage around a nearby lake, destroying villages and collecting villagers. The lake being the closest area that might be suitable, with a large enough sacrifice, to Gate in a Temple of Blibdoolpoolp and possibly enable to goddess herself to enter Brovenloft!

All of the above was done purely from a Patron-trying-to-get-ahead standpoint; but, then, some players who had helped break the Curse of the Gnomeking in the first place wanted to finish the job. This was not something I had considered at all when making the above choices as the Cursed Gnomeking Patron. Now he had the Infernal Legion and 60,000 Ogre Skeletons they had raised for him under his control. How could a PC party stand up against that? Well, of course, that was their problem! However, I now needed to work out the finer details of the Cursed Gnomeking's plan and what would happen when. As it turned out, the Infernal Legion's contract ran out just before game night, which could make all the difference. And there was one other who had cause to take action...

Having decided on all this, I then sat back and waited to see if the players would still be interested come game night; perhaps something else might have caught their attention by then? This is one of the wonderful features of BROSR play, I would have fun if we did choose this and fun if we didn't. In the end, both happened. Let me explain.

Session Report

This session was played on 28/Oct/2022 and the PCs adventured for 1 day.

Characters were sitting around the common room in the Adventurers Aid Society in Rome discussing current events. It seemed that an aspect of the evil Lamalla had manifested far to the south, in the territory of Bro-pan. Creatures were said to be worshipping her likeness in an old temple. The party was on the verge of setting out to do something about this when a lit pipe drew their attention to the fact that they were being watched from a shadowy corner of the room.


"We don't mean to tell you people your business, but there are doings afoot far more perilous than rumours of Lamalla worshipers." 

Having captured the party's attention, the fellow slid from his stool and stood at about three and a half feet tall. He threw back his hood and revealed himself. It was the Gnomeking Inkle IV! The real one!

Those characters who had met the Gnomeking before assured their fellows that this was him. Why had he returned to Brovenloft? Well, he did not want the good name of Gnomes tarnished by the actions of the Cursed Gnomeking, even if they were merely a manifestation by the Mists of Brovenloft.

He then proceeded to explain that the Cursed Gnomeking had waxed in power and was now on the verge of a terrible human sacrifice that was sure to greatly empower Blibdoolpoolp if it was allowed to happen.

From here he info dumped the following;

  • Even since the Cursed Gnomeking became a separate being, the two have shared knowledge of what the other is thinking
  • Because of this he can sense the direction and approximate distance of the Vampire
  • And Macho Mandalf has kept the Gnomeking under a Mind Blank spell to prevent information leaking to the enemy
  • The Cursed Gnomeking intends to sacrifice 10,000 humans precisely at midnight, exactly 12 hours from now
  • The Cursed Gnomeking travels in a tent on a palanquin carried by 20 Ogre Skeletons. Within this tent is his coffin. He will never be far away from it. 
  • Gnomeking Inkle has brought Gnome Vampire hunting supplies, including Silver Spikes and 5 pairs of Macho Mandalf's Prismatic Sunglasses

He also knew the complete method for destroying a Gnome Vampire:

So much more than just a silver spike


The need to boil the vampire's hands in a volcanic hot spring was picked up on by Karshe (Human Fighter Level 4). Since the rumoured Lamalla worshippers were located near a Volcano, the party could try to kill two birds in one session! Could it be done?

Blood Rain
I put some thought into making this excellent bdubs special effect feel real this week. I figured that Rome was able to shield itself from the blood rain, so I was expecting the PCs would encounter it once they had left. I imagined they would have to work out how to use the windscreen wipers in the Broncos they had acquired in Twin Peaks. My mental boxed text had to be jettisoned though, because, after the previous session, the players now had access to a DC3 passenger plane with, it transpired, parachutes!

Previously, I had thought the PCs would have to come up with something clever to reach the location before 6pm, when certain things would start to happen, but with the plane/parachute combination they could really cut down the travel time. Exciting!

There was a lot of discussion over precisely where they should jump out, and where they should leave the plane. Such a combo of options in a D&D setting made an informed judgement a bit tricky, but soon they were flying west, high above the clouds. Their path from Rome to the lake that was their destination went directly over Cursed Gnomeville, and, as they flew over, they saw some Nightmare-Pegasi observing them from just within the cloud tops before dropping out of view; presumably to report on the strange object flying past.

Within an hour they were at the drop zone, they could see the entire area was covered in blood rain clouds, but, just to the north it was clearer and they saw the amazing sight of a double line of lights stretching far to the west and south. Glowing zombies! This was the work of remnants of the forces of Kangsta Wrappa. The players neither knew nor cared what sinister purpose this served, it was the perfect location for the plane to land and wait for the party's return. Another example of Patron shenanigans effecting session play.

They jumped out of the plane and fell through the clouds into the incessant bloody rain, their parachutes completely red and soaked by the time they reached the ground; but, knowing little about pre-WWII parachutes, I decided they would work ok. I did ask them all to Save vs Paralysis to see if they landed safely, and for the most part they did with only a few hit points lost (later we had a fun side discussion about whether Shinji's Ring of Feather Fall would have kicked in and prevented the parachute working properly).




The party stashed the parachutes out of view and began trudging south until, an hour later, they saw two stationary figures emerge through the red rain. The figures were Ogre Skeletons, partially armoured, each carrying a pole arm and facing out towards them. Moving parallel to them and continuing south, the party soon saw another pair that could have been twins to the first (quads?). Further examination revealed that there was a third Ogre Skeleton behind each pair, this one was facing away and holding a human trapped within its powerful grasp and suspended above the edge of a large body of water. No doubt this was the lake they were seeking, the undead appeared to be awaiting a signal to begin some kind of sacrifice. Rain pelted down on the faces of the trapped humans, who appeared to be worse for wear, but still alive.

It seemed obvious that the two outfacing Ogres were operating under orders to stand guard and attack anyone who got too close, and, if this scene was truly replicated 10,000 times around the lake, any attempt to save individuals here and there was futile. They had to press on to find the ringleader, the Vampire Gnome. It was now 2pm.

For another 4 hours the party continued trudging south, keeping the pairs of Ogre Guards just in sight on their right as they went. Indeed there were such formations of 3 Ogres every 30 or so feet and they soon lost count of them. They had a close encounter with a Nightmare-Pegasus patrol, but managed to take cover in a nearby copse of trees before they could be spotted, and the abominations flew on to the north.




Finally, just as the sun was setting, out of the rain ahead of them something new appeared. It proved to be a palanquin, but, just as they confirmed this fact, the Ogre Skeletons stationed around it flexed their undead sinews and lifted the burden onto armoured shoulders. A few strides forward put them at the lakeshore, and clearly their intent was to carry on into the water.

Shinji (Human Wujen Level 4) sprang into action with a request for the Gnomeking to let him borrow his Ring of Invisibility, the Gnome agreed, and soon the humble mendicant was off chasing the palanquin from behind. By the time he had clambered on to the top of it and approached the rear of a lavish tent that was pitched there, the Ogres were already up to their shoulders in lake water. The sound of the rain faded into the background, for it was not raining on the lake itself, and this fact, combined with Shinji slicing through the back of the tent with his short sword, allowed him to see the fantastic sight of a giant Ziggurat that had somehow come into being on an island scarcely big enough to hold it. The whole thing was surmounted by a 20' tall statue of Blibdoolboolp herself. The statue shimmered in the fading light, it looked to be completely covered in gems!

Left on the soggy shore, the rest of the party could only watch, not daring to approach closer to the Ogre Skeletons stationed there, or try to cross the lake themselves, though the distance to the island was only 60' or so.

Shinji made his way through the tent from where he had cut a hole in its rear panel, pausing to collect some stray gems scattered among the silken floor coverings as he passed a gnome sized coffin. He could see through the tent flap that ahead of him there were 10 Ogre skeletons in two rows of five, the front row were each carrying a human as they went. He could just make out the dark shape of the Cursed Gnomeking at the head of the procession.

The group moved forward as one on to the island and then the first steps of the temple. It was clear that some sort of sacrifice, though perhaps preliminary to the main event scheduled for midnight, was beginning even now.

Though there was supposed to be still nearly 6 hours left until the main event, Shinji decided he had to do something now to prevent this first sacrifice, so he called out to distract the enemy, knowing that this in itself would not break his invisibility. 

"AAAWOOOOOooooo!" -- Shinji the humble mendicant.

Then, a lot of things happened at once. The Cursed Gnomeking ordered the rear rank of Ogre Skeletons to turn about and kill anything they found. He also retrieved an unconscious victim from the front rank of Ogres and un-ceremonially sacrificed him at the first of several altars that were stationed on the stairs which lead up the Ziggurat to the statue of Blibdoolpoolp. As soon as he had done so, the statue itself seemed to move, as though it was coming to life! He then started up the stairs as fast as his little undead feet would go.

Shinji realised that his actions had merely sped things up. I had no idea what the party could do from here to stop the Cursed Gnomeking. 

They decided to go for an all out attack.

Corvirius (Human Magic User Level 4) rummaged through his belongings and pulled out a scroll of the 6th level spell Otiluke's Freezing Sphere. Due to difference between his level and the spell, he only had a 60% chance of being successful, but he managed to pronounce it correctly; and, suddenly, the party had a way to cross to the island without having to go into the water, as the top 6 inches froze solid from the shore to the island.


Ever noticed that PCs instinctively fear water? With good reason in this case as the lake was filled with nasty denizens from Blibdoolpoolp's domain.


The rear rank of 5 Ogre Skeletons passed right by the invisible Shinji, who still did not dare to attack directly but moved forward after the Vampire Gnomeking.

Bob (Human Cleric Level 1), unable to ignore their plight any longer, chose this moment to try and free one of the humans trapped in the arms of an Ogre Skeleton on the shoreline. Karshe reluctantly rushed to support him. Together they managed to go toe-to-toe with the 5HD undead guards.

Corvirius showed how he had learned his lesson from his last encounter with the Cursed Gnomeking, instead of making himself invisible and attacking directly, he made the new fighter invisible and let him attack. John Smith (Human Fighter Level 1) grabbed a flask of holy water in each hand and announced that we would charge and overbear the Vampire Gnome!

The good Gnomeking himself strode forward across the ice, making himself a target for the 5 Ogre Skeletons moving in that direction. They rained down blows upon him but he gave as good as he got. 
"Back you abominations, away!" he shouted, or something cool anyway. This had the strange effect of halting the undead in their tracks, and they did indeed begin backing away. When they were raised by the Infernal Legion, the undead had been ordered to "Obey the commands of the Gnomeking," and they were too simple minded to be able to tell the difference between the two. One of the PC's had nearly guessed this earlier in the session.

Now John Smith charged unseen past the Ogre skeletons and collided with the Vampire Gnomeking from behind, bringing him down before he could reach the next altar on the stairs to the top of the Ziggurat. The holy water burned the vampire, and, while he was down, Shinji joined in the attack with his Short Sword +2. Unfortunately, neither his weapon or the non-magical weapon wielded by John Smith effected the Vampire in the least, and in reply he Smiled  at them.

The Smile of a Vampire Gnome nearly wiped the party out last time around; but, this time, they were well prepared thanks to their Prismatic Sunglasses. The effects of the smile were reflected back on the Vampire Gnome, and, extraordinarily, he failed his save against his own smile!

While he was down, giggling to himself in frustration, Shinji staked him with a Silver Spike. Immediately the vampire fell still. In a flash the real Gnomeking reached them and began to assemble a small box after he had cut off the Gnome Vampire's hands. They placed they handless body in the box and gouged out its eyes to be replaced later with precious gems.

There was then a sudden shift in the atmosphere around them. Whatever force was keeping the temple in Brovenloft had been withdrawn, and the island, with the Ziggurat upon it, began to break up and sink into the lake. All eyes turned to the statue of Blibdoolpoolp, or, more accurately, the fortune upon its surface, as it toppled over and smashed into a cascade of flashing bright gems.

Some of the party successfully risked a couple of rounds in the chaos to pocket some of the gems before the whole place collapsed and was pulled back into the Plane of Water.

Back on soggy land, the Gnomeking ordered the closest Ogre Skeleton to release its captive human. When it did so straight away the next in line copied the movement, so did the next, and so on, until they could no longer see but could hear the sounds of humans being dropped into the lake and splashing about to the shore. They healed up and, just as they were about ready to leave, the last Ogre Skeleton to the North dropped his human into the lake too. All 10,000 captives (minus the unfortunate victim of the Cursed Gnomeking) had been saved!

After this the skies cleared and the party marched back north to meet up with the DC3. Along the way the Gnomeking gave some more orders to the Ogre Skeletons 


Epilogue

The further adventures from this session (flying back to Rome, picking up some more PCs and flying to Bropan's domain) are touched on at Mr Wargaming's site here.

When Brovenloft was announced I didn't immediately have any ideas how I wanted to participate, but soon the idea of the Cursed Gnomeking popped into my head. In the end his story was exactly what I had hoped for with interaction from both Patrons and PCs. You can win at RPGs!

One self-criticism; in hindsight, I think in both sessions I was a bit too lenient on the use of unarmed combat against a creature that is immune to normal weapons. I think it makes sense that they can be knocked down, but not stunned or damaged. In the end though, neither time did it make a difference to the outcome.

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Treasure: Fists filled with Gems

Total GP =23,346gp 
Total XP = 31,346
 
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Session PCs

Corvirius (Human Magic User Level 4)

John Smith (Human Fighter Level 1)

Karshe (Human Fighter Level 4)

Shinji (Human Mendicant Wujen Level 4)

Bob (Human Cleric Level 1)

Supporting Characters

Gnomeking Inkle IV (Gnome Cleric Level 7)


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