Wednesday 15 November 2023

Trollopulous Adjusted Session 47 (Machodor #24); The River Dungeon

     

Machodor

Timekeeping


This session took place on 09/11/2023, and the PCs adventured for 6 days. 

Player Characters Present


Lance Errant (Level 1 Paladin of Minas Mandalf, E)
Marty O'Tool (Level 1 Cleric of Dublin, Brovenloft, E)
Comfort Rod (Level 1 Cleric associate of the Robopriest, E ) 
Slap Dashington (Level 1 Blue skinned Monk from outer space, E ) 

Introduction 


I'm doing this write-up out of order with the remaining two Brovenloft '23 sessions, since they're taking longer than a normal session report would. Anyway, with all the main Player Characters still stuck in Brovenloft, this was a week where the players could choose a new start, or follow up on the "Sand" mission from Machodor session #9, or something else based on various rumours going around. In the end it was a bit of everything; three level 1 characters that had adventured before, and a brand new paladin with godly stats thanks to Method III.

Session Report


Minas Mandalf, Holy City & Capital of Machodor. The perfect place for a new bunch of Lawful Good characters to make a start on their adventuring career. The attendant at the Adventurers Aid Society looked them up and down and suggested a job sponsored by the Merchants' guild; someone, or something (perhaps goblins) has been raiding and robbing their river barges coming up from the Bandit mountains to the south.

The merchant representative offered them the use of a small barge, and three men-at-arms who could double as rowers. 

DMG p54


Referring to DMG p54, and, for some reason, completely missing the option to use a sail (perhaps it had been damaged by goblins); then, checking the map, I judged they could cover the 65 miles or so to the mountains at a glacial 1 mile per hour. It would take about 3 days, most of that time being in "inhabited/patrolled" areas. Fresh and keen for adventure they set off, reaching Gnomesville by the end of the first day without incident. Apart from other water borne traffic there were no encounters until sunset on the third day, when a full pride of 11 lions could be seen on the western shore. The party decided to let them be.

Next morning they continued on and soon reached a river lock. The men-at-arms/bargemen volunteered that the river worked its way right through the mountains via locks such as these; built by unknown parties in the distant past, they were largely automated, although occasionally the merchant guild sponsored craftsmen to maintain them.


Having gained about 50 feet in altitude, they continued on up river, following the path many long years of weathering had carved between the mighty walls of the mountains on either side.

They started noticing openings in the wall to their right; some were well above the stony beach about 10' back from the river, others at water level. They picked one of the latter and beached their craft nearby, then assigned two of the men at arms to guard the vessel.

Marty O'Tool gave a blessing to their endeavours and they went in (see map below).

The corridor, carved out of the stone but long weathered to remove any but its most basic features, went west, branching off to the north west after 10', and continuing on 50' before opening into a 40' square chamber. Within the chamber were two Fire Beetles apparently investigating a large chest that sat against the north wall.

Lance clashed his sword against his shield and attempted to intimidate the Fire Beetles; the reaction roll indicated success, and they scuttled away from the chest and off through the north east exit. The party now eyed the unprotected chest and lamented the fact they had no thieves were with them, until Slap pointed out that Monks have thief skills. He determined there were no traps on the chest, then threw it open to reveal it was filled with a mixture of copper and electrum coins. When he stuck his hands in to begin counting the coins, I had to make an interesting adjudication.

I was thinking that given the situation, it didn't make much sense that an unprotected chest was just waiting here; but, as the Appendix A result showed, it was not unprotected at all. In fact it was a fiendishly clever trap, the coins were poisoned! As a monk, Slap needed 13 to save against the poison; with a result of a 9, was that it for the blue skinned novice? Thinking of monster poison, I was pretty sure it was. However, I wasn't really sure, as Appendix A gives no guidance on what type of poison can be placed on treasure. This case called for a closer look at the DMG's poison rules.


DMG p. 20

Given the context, it was clear to me that goblins had poisoned the coins and left the chest here for just this reason; to kill greedy adventurers. So what kind of poison would they use?

Since even goblins wouldn't rely on adventurers to put coins in their mouths, I ruled out Ingestive. Insinuative types C&D looked way too expensive for goblins to fabricate, so I randomly selected between A & B; getting A. Now the footnote for this poison allows for a +4 on the saving throw, and this was just enough for Slap to succeed when he otherwise would have failed (I ruled that goblins apply such poison as well as a trained assassin, meaning that there was no further saving throw bonus). 

But wait, right next to the saving throw bonus information, the above table lists the chance of tasting/smelling/seeing the poison. So for Type A there is a huge 80% chance that Slap would actually have detected the presence of the poison before grabbing the coins. I rolled for this and he comfortably passed. We immediately had to retcon that Slap never even touched the poisoned coins! 

If I had prepped all this I could have simply chosen the type of poison; but, with Appendix A, until now I'd simply assumed that poison such as this worked as save or death; but there is a lot more to it than that. In typical BrOSR fashion, the players were all invested and interested in finding out the RAW interpretation, even while Slap's life was on the line; everyone patiently waited the few minutes as I worked through all this. DMs, get yourself Elite players if you can.

The party checked the handles of the chest and, finding them to be free of poison, proceeded to carry it back out to the stony river shore and left it near their barge. They gave a quick explanation to the bargemen on watch and then returned inside.

They checked the north west passage and found a small chamber where the two Fire Beetles had taken refuge. Again, the party concluded that it was not worth tangling with such creatures; instead they went south, passed through an enclosed room where there was a lot of broken glass strewn about the place; then into a 40' square chamber. This featured one large passage leading back out to the beach, and three other exits; one west, one south west, & one south east. 

As they reached the archway leading to the western passage, 15 Giant Rats were coming the other way. Again, neither side was surprised and Lance's intimidation had them running back the way they came, which turned out to be a 30' passage that terminated at a staircase going down. Not convinced of the merits of going deeper just yet, they moved to explore the south west exit to the chamber and ran into 13 Goblins. Once more, neither side was surprised and it was also no surprise when the goblins attacked.

The party were well placed to hold the 10' wide archway and placed Brim, the man-at-arms, next to Lance, both with spears set, followed by Slap with a spear of his own, then the two clerics bringing up the rear. Comfort Rod Cursed the enemy in a manner that somehow did not draw the wrath of the Paladin (but may still when he thinks about it later).

pretty dang useful versus Goblins
The charging goblins broke against the spears set against them; though Slap missed, Lance and Brim between them reduced their number by two. Now, as the goblins made their charging attacks, Lance's player pointed out that his Protection from Evil aura should result in a -2 penalty for them. I hadn't considered this to be the case for mere creatures; but, the spell description, even though it mentions specific powerful summoned creatures and the like, also says "any and all attacks launched by evil creatures" so we went with that.


Next round the Curse took effect, so, this combined with the Paladin's aura gave the goblins a -3 penalty. It's important to note that this penalty is in effect a improvement in the party members' AC, and not a reduction in the goblin's rolls to hit (see Mr Wargaming's excellent treatment here). Two more of the enemy went down, to be replaced by those in the next rank; meanwhile Lance spotted some from the rear rank running back down the corridor and away from the party. 

Before this battle I had yet to determine if it was possible to circle around to the south east archway in the chamber by moving down the south west corridor; but a roll or two on Appendix A determined that the two areas actually did join up, and of course the goblins would know this.

Maybe a round or two passed while the fight continued, with only Brim the Man-at-arms taking any damage; but then the goblins won initiative as the four who had circled around to come at the party from behind now charged into the chamber at the two clerics. Perfect tactics! Alas for them, they concentrated on Comfort Rod's Ringmail and Shield, and missed every time. This failure, along with the steady attrition at the front, proved too much and the goblins broke off and fled; the party's front rank eliminated the ones there with their free attacks; but three of the those at the rear managed to get away from the swinging blunt weapons of the clerics.

Not wanting to give chase, nor wanting the goblins to get away, the party went down the south west corridor in order to 'head them off at the pass'.

I managed to keep this thought to myself

I rolled to determine which direction the goblins would flee, and they went the other way to the south; so far unexplored by the party. As it turned out, it was the only reasonable direction for the goblins to flee. Disappointed at losing them, but not wanting to go through the door and continue the chase, the party set about mapping and resting from the fight, looting the bodies etc. They soon after found a triangle shaped room was the only area to the west. Inside was broken packaging that matched the description of some missing wine crates. Upon reflection the broken glass they had previously found must have been that of wine bottles. Drunk goblins!

The party continued their exploration, pretty much now cautiously pursuing the goblins who had gotten away. They cleared another chamber and then a corridor that eventually turned west. Suddenly, from a hole in the ceiling, a flask of oil was emptied on Comfort Rod; followed by a flaming cinder and the sound of goblins' guttural laughter. Fortunately Rod was able to catch the cinder and throw it clear, receiving only minor burns in the process. He then wisely declared the need to wash off the rest of the oil in the river. Everyone agreed they had pushed their luck far enough for one delve, and when they were ready they set off back to Minas Mandalf, arriving without incident a day and a half later.


Addendum


The River Dungeon
This was a really fun session to run, the location was based on a simple idea, but one that was different enough to add a bit of a unique flavour. The north section of the Bandit Mountains is not one the players have spent any significant time in, so it had both a familiar and new feeling to it. For the dungeon, I simply turned to a new page, drew up one full side as the River, and treated it like an an Appendix A corridor; generating side passages and such down its length; but only on one side. At the beginning of the session I had ready the first entrance corridors and the room or chamber they lead to; from there in session it built up to this map (right).

The players might not come back to this location or with these characters; but, already their choice to explore here has made the dungeon more playable for next time. If they don't return, more fun than prep has already occurred here, so nothing is wasted. 

I highly recommend solo playing with DMG Appendix A, as it really helps with applying the randomness on the fly; practice with answering the question "What do these result mean?" is a rare example of worthwhile prep.






Treasure and XP



Trollopulous Adjusted Session 47 (Machodor #24)


Monetary Treasure

1000cp
750ep
100sp

Treasure Total: 385 GP/XP


Items

10 Goblin ears (collected by Brim the Man-at-arms and given to the merchant guild) 10 gp

Monsters

10 Goblins 160 XP

Monsters Total: 160 XP


XP & GP Assignment

Lance Errant (Level 1, E) 109 XP & 79 GP
Marty O'Tool (Level 1, E) 109 XP & 79 GP
Comfort Rod (Level 1, E )  109 XP & 79 GP
Slap Dashington (Level 1, E )  109 XP & 79 GP


Graveyard


Jacques Ocular (Level 1 Magic User), a fat green worm burrowed into his head and turned him into a Son Of Kyuss in Brovenloft in Session #43

Pino (Dwarf Footman level 0), Killed by a Frost Giant axe in the head in session #39

Paro (Dwarf Fighter/Thief level 2/2) , Killed by Winter Wolves and frozen in session #39

Zabib (1/2 Elf Fighter/Magic User level 1/1), Killed by Frost Giant rocks in downtime prior to session #39

Monday 6 November 2023

Trollopulous Adjusted Session 45 (Machodor #22); The Rave Maze of Kangsta Wrapper

   

Finally, ripping off Desert of Desolation pays off


Timekeeping


This session took place on 27/10/2023, and the PCs adventured for 1 day.

Player Characters Present


Giuseppe (Level 6 Paladin of Rome, Brovenloft, E)
Sheamus (Level 5 Rocket Cycle Fighter of Dublin, Brovenloft, E)
Sever (Level 6 Pegasus Corps Ranger of Machodor, E)
Verdana  (Level 1 Paladin from Brovenloft, E)
Deltacron (Level 1 Fighter/Thief, E ) 
Godleve, Slippery Peter, and Bumblebore remained in the Amber Light

Introduction 


At the beginning of this year's Brovenloft I decided to break all the BrOSR rules; as well as using the Amber light from Castle Amber, I was going to make use of a module I still have from the 1980: Desert of Desolation. I have fond memories of playing this, but I expected that adapting it would be an exercise in futility, and that's pretty much how it turned out. Although the Pyramid section particularly seemed like an easy conversion to do, it was actually difficult and time consuming. I ended up throwing out so much that it would have been easier just to steal the central conceit of one map (above), which I modified anyway. Even this map I had to go back and pencil in the correct the numbering which in the module (being a collection of modules I3-5) had gotten wrong or left blank.


Session Report

The Amber Light faded and the party, augmented by Giuseppe and new character Verdana, took stock of the situation. Having navigated the and escaped the Maze of Tupacman, they had explored series of worship rooms and found a secret area, which appeared to have already been plundered. The Amber Light had returned them the the Main Worship Hall.

After confirming they had pretty much explored everything else, they went down the last unexplored corridor and found another worship room. The 30' square room was filled with dervish worshippers being lead by a cleric performing a ceremony involving another huge statue of Kangsta Wrapper. In its outstretched arms it held an altar bowl about chest high, or 15 feet off the ground. Within the bowl was a low flame. As they watched, the priest threw an offering into the bowl; the flames leapt up high and completely consumed the offering, then died back an instant later.

There were 12 dervish worshippers in all, including the priest, and the party narrowly decided to parlay. The priest introduced himself as Uminum, in the service of Kangsta Wrapper. There was some mystery solving now; to cut a long story short, these guys had been locked in the pyramid since last Brovenloft, and their numbers had dwindled over that time, along with their faith. Some had even literally disappeared without trace. They party's arrival, and subsequent reveal of the secret doors behind the other Kangsta statues, threw them even more. After a short scuffle with the strongest adherents, most of the dervish, but not the priest himself, agreed to accompany the party through what they now believed to be a teleporter (the bowl of fire).



Although there was some trepidation, at length everyone stepped into the fire; each experienced a feeling of being burned to ashes and then rematerialising elsewhere. Elsewhere took the form of a hexagonal room 30' across. There were four equidistant exits, all unadorned archways; but beyond them it was impossible to see more than a few feet.

The module describes how the exits to this first room are filled with swirling sulphurous orange mists; these mists temporarily disorient those who enter them so they cannot determine how long they were inside, how many steps they took etc. A bit weird really, but this was one thing that I thought could easily be moulded into something more suitable to Kangsta Wrapper. I decided to change it so that, instead of mists, entering the maze would lead to a Rave, the effect of which was pretty much the same level of disorientation. The flashing lights could be seen, and pulsing music could be faintly heard from where the party now stood. 

After choosing a direction at random and passing through the first archway, the lights became blinding, and the music deafening; at some indeterminate time later the party emerged into a small corridor and realised for the first time that this maze would be very difficult to navigate. I stupidly suggested they could still give me compass directions for their movement; but I immediately had to reverse on this and insist on only left-right-straight etc instructions from the PCs. At least that way I would know which direction they were going. Soon they had no little where they were in relation to where they had started, the maze appeared to go on endlessly with every new area much like the rest. Sever had the idea of marking numbers on the floor so that they could recognise when they entered an area they had been to before.

Eventually they arrived at a T-intersection (15 on the map) where there had been a battle of some kind. Dead gnome bodies were strewn about along with those of some humans. It seemed neither side had won since a sled bearing several chests was left behind; there was also a sword, the weapon detected as magic (and then evil), it was thrust through a body right into the floor. The party wisely ignored the cursed blade, but unwisely set off a trap on the chest which sent out a barrage of poisoned needles, one paralysing Shaemus for an unknown duration.



A check of the other chests found 500gp in each; but the trapped chest, which sat on top of the others, held only smelly orc socks. They spent the time waiting for Shaemus to recover in repairing the sleigh and transferring some of their loot to it. The dervish now had the task of dragging the sleigh with them. They continued on and found Room 31 held a giant scythe blade hanging like a pendulum, the obvious trap was carefully skirted by the PCs, and, noticing a narrow ledge at near the domed ceiling, they climbed up and investigated.

In the original module, trap rooms (mostly all the 30' square rooms around the outside of the maze) all had observation platforms where priests from the next level could watch "plundering thieves meet their death". This effectively meant that every one of these rooms was an exit to the maze, and that, along with the next level itself, didn't fit with what I wanted. Instead I leveraged the idea that these rooms held viewing frames similar to those the party had encountered last session in Tupacman's maze. These allowed observation and communication to and from the room, but not movement. 

The frame on the ledge was active and they could see, as though simply looking through a window at them, the Robopriest and another figure. Before this pair were a great number of active frames, presumably showing other parts of the maze; it looked as though they had been trying to monitor them all at the same time. The PCs yelled to get their attention and woke the other figure who had been asleep. He introduced himself as a Priest in the service of Kangsta Wrapper.


Weird al-Hotep.

In a brief info dump, the pair explained that alien creatures from another dimension, known as Githros, had invaded the pyramid and tampered with the teleportation devices. Perhaps in their haste to establish control the creatures had neglected to disable teleportation to and from the Rave Maze. To escape then, they would have to find a room (28) which held a teleportation well, guarded by a sphinx, which was a match for the fire brazier they used to get into the maze. From there they could teleport to the actual tomb of the Kangsta located elsewhere within the pyramid. Doing so and restoring the teleport system was the only way to get out and return home.

The party asked about how they could more easily navigate the maze and eventually they instructed the dervish to link arms as they moved through the Rave areas, with the guys at each end keeping a hand on the walls on either side as they did so. This method was effective in giving them an idea of which directions they had taken while inside. Combined with observing the numbers they had marked on the ground, they made some progress. 

Then they were surprised by a group of 4 elves moving silently. Immediately it was suggested that this was a cross over with my solo play group, and that they should kill them while they could. However, although the names were similar, these were different elves; survivors of a force sent by the King of Elfland to try and eliminate Kangsta Wrapper (in the original module, they were in fact doppelgangers). They had been stuck in here for a year and did not know their enemy was long dead. No one in the party bothered to fill them in on that fact.


familiar looking elves

One other curious item, the Elf leader wore headphones they had acquired and identified as Headphones of the Kangta. Wearing them it was possible to block out the sound while navigating the Rave, allowing the user to determine how long they had been inside.

The elves were keen to help once they got the idea that the party were heading to the true tomb of Kangsta Wrapper. So, with the dervish stretching out in a row to touch each wall, and the Headphones, they were able to navigate back to the elf's hideout and pick up their other two companions. From there they headed north, coming to a four-way intersection (8). The elves had not previously explored further than this area due to hearing the roar of a ferocious beast from beyond.

They went left and found a door with a crude sign affixed to it, on which the words "Knock first" were written. The party decided to do just that and found inside (room 26) a group of Brovenloft Irish tomb robbers (in the module they were normal bandits), lead by one Paddy O'Leary. Immediately impressed by the presence of two Paladins in the party, and no less by the fact they had a plan to escape the maze, these worthies also threw in with the group and now the "party" had swelled to a small army of 5 PCs, 10 Dervish, 6 Elves, and 10 Irish. 

Once they realised that Paddy had with him the Sunglasses of the Kangsta, which permitted him to navigate the maze without the flashing rave lights effecting his ability to discern the directions he was taking, their confidence soared and they zeroed in on room 28; the one with the Heiracosphinx and the well that would allow them to escape the maze.

The sphinx sat on a ledge beyond the well on the opposite side of the room (which, incidentally, glittered with coins): "I have just one question, has my lord returned?"

The players rightfully surmised that this was not a riddle; but a prelude to the creature attacking them. I forget now what they actually answered, but they won initiative and killed the Sphinx so quickly that it was not a memorable fight. The loot was good though, thousands of gold coins and a Topaz. They added this to their collection and lined up their huge party to step into the well. As they did so it felt to them like they had become one with the water, and, travelling quickly through channels within the Pyramid, popped out, dry again, in a large room filled with 16 pillars in a pattern of four rows. 

Now they were in the tomb of the Kangsta proper.

The place had been the scene of a violent and destructive battle. No sooner did they make a move to investigate when they were attacked by six Githros; these were the creatures Weird al-Hotep had warned them of (originally this particular group were minotaurs in room 25, but in this form they had been smart enough to find their way out of the maze). Three of the red leathery attackers were in the form of drones; lizard like, they could run on all fours and now did so to charge up to attack the dervish swordsmen who were bringing up the rear of the party. Of the remainder, one looked like an Elf (in fact resembling one of the elves' former party members they had lost), one a Gnome, and one a Human.

The one thing the creatures had in common were large bulbous eyes that seemed to emit some sort of sub-visible light. This had the effect of a Cloak of Displacement, which caused all of the initial attacks on them to simply miss their targets. The ensuing battle was tense; the layout of the place, with all the pillars and the nearby wall, made if difficult for the party to bring their superior numbers to bear. But a great deal of luck went their way; attacks and damage were spread so evenly around the dervish that none of them fell, and eventually the party's return attacks against the six enemy took their toll. As each one was dispatched, it dissolved into a gooey red paste then faded out of existence; gross. While this was going on, Deltracron decided to explore down the south west exit; I rolled on Appendix A and came up with a spiked pit trap, which he promptly fell into. His dwarven constitution saved him from death, if not embarrassment, and the rest of the party were able to finished the battle and pull him out before the trap closed him in. Then the Amber Light returned once more to keep them safe until next week.


Treasure and XP



Trollopulous Adjusted Session 45 (Machodor #22)



Monetary Treasure

Gold from chests and Hieracosphinx 

7000gp
500gp Topaz

Monsters

Heiracosphynx 1080 XP

3 Githro drones 900xp
3 Githro simulacrum 1200xp

Treasure Total: 7500  XP

Monsters Total: 3180  XP


XP & GP Assignment  

Giuseppe(Level 6, E )  3004 XP & 2368 GP
Sheamus(Level 5, E )  2610 XP & 1974 GP
Sever (Level 6, E )  3004 XP & 2368 GP
Deltacron (Level 1, E )  1031 XP & 395GP
Verdana (Level 1, E )  1031 XP & 395 GP


Graveyard


Jacques Ocular (Level 1 Magic User), a fat green worm burrowed into his head and turned him into a Son Of Kyuss in Brovenloft in Session #43

Pino (Dwarf Footman level 0), Killed by a Frost Giant axe in the head in session #39

Paro (Dwarf Fighter/Thief level 2/2) , Killed by Winter Wolves and frozen in session #39

Zabib (1/2 Elf Fighter/Magic User level 1/1), Killed by Frost Giant rocks in downtime prior to session #39

Trollopulous Adjusted Session 73 (Machodor #37); McScales Returns to the Pizza Slice of Doom

Mesa your humble servant. Timekeeping This session took place on 06/06/2024, and the PCs adventured for 1 day. Player Characters Present She...