Friday, September 20, 2013

MGoU-H: Jewels of the Carnifex; Session 3

When last we left the Divine Order of the Purple Tentacle, our heroes were caught between a rock (3 of them actually: The Jewels of the Carnifex), and a hard place (the Swords of the Pious, led by Mr. Majestic). Kormaki Lemmisson, 3rd (!) level cleric (who has turned to the forces of Chaos) recounts what happened.
Yep, we were deep in the crypt, and things weren't looking so good for us. Damned Swords of the Pious wanted us to bust up the Jewels, but Denny Smeds had his eyes on 'em, his avarice running high, and we had just determined that the Swords of the Pious do not care much for the Jewels, as they emit some sort of Protection from Lawful aura. So, we could probably use them later. The way they're positioned, though… obvious trap. We'd have to work out how to grab 'em.
We also probably would need that big-ass two-handed sword that the Swords of the Pious had taken from the altar room. It might come in handy later, depending on what went down. So how to get it? Formerly Ian the wizard has a plan. When we was just lads, we'd plundered the Crypt of the Lizard King. Formerly Ian found there a helm (now fully bonded to his skull) that belonged to the Lizard King, a mighty warrior and sailor. This puissant helm makes it easier for him to persuade people, among other things. So he decided to talk to Mr. Majestic, to convince him that we needed it to smash the Jewels. [Meta Note: Formerly Ian Persuades using Lizard King Helm ROLLS 28! Natural 20, plus Helm's +3, plus 1-time +5 bonus from the Invoke Patron thing he did at end of last session].
Sure enough, that glowing old codger coughs it up. Now we have the Sword of the Carnifex. The Sword says "Executioner's Wand"—and it's the same sword as they put in all those ritual beheading murals we found around this place. Vane's the most chaotic mother's son in the Order, so he takes the sword, at least for the moment. Formerly Ian tries to Detect Magic on the weapon, but the Metal Gods did not smile upon him. The spell was lost. Oh, well… could have been worse.
Armed now with the Sword, Denny Smeds checks out the Idol ( some kind of worm thing with rubies in its mouth and two claws) for traps. He figures out that pulling the jewels will make it bite, probably. So, we start using iron spikes to jam its articulations. The jaws were easy enough, but the claws were maybe a little less successfully jammed. Moreover, I started havin' me a VERY BAD feeling about these damned jewels. I told the guys, and (of course) they ignored my premonition. Greedy fucks, the lot of 'em. Denny said, "Okay. Let's do it. We just can't not do it, right?" However, perhaps my misgivings made the thief a bit more cautious than he woulda been. So, we don't do it immediately. I'll get back to that.
In the meantime, Vane's weapon, the mighty Whore Whammer (whose purpose is to slay Lawful beings) wants to kill the Swords of the Pious. Like really bad, it wants to. We told him to hold off for just a minute, 'til we'd figured out how we're gonna get the Jewels and skedaddle out of this place. So, we went downstairs, instead.
There were no traps on the stairway, but it ended in a flooded section of hallway, with a wax-sealed, and runed, door of some kind. We also saw some old bones lying in the water, there. My first thought was, "Nope. Ain't touchin' that door." The others kinda agreed. I figured I'd at least try to Detect Magic on it. Yeah, the Metal Gods… strongly disapproved of that. I spent the next hour chanting a hymn (Living After Midnight, which is sacred to Obhal the Steel Eagle) to get right with the guys upstairs. Sometimes I begin to wonder why I ever became a holy man. Maybe that's gotta change…
Denny Smeds has him an idea, though. With that weird whistle, he raises up those old bones. They look to be the remains of two members of the Swords of the Pious, and they have some holy symbols on chains around their necks. He raises all three of 'em, and sends 'em upstairs to get us the Jewels.
Adam the GM said, "So what's your plan here, pal?"
Phil the Player said, "I miss having a moustache to twirl evilly."
Anyway, so Denny sends the skeletons to get jewels. Two get fucked up pretty bad, losing their arms to the claw attacks. The other one is okay, because we wedged the jaws open. We get the Jewels. Big fist-sized numbers, red like blood. Denny picks up the Jewels, and puts 'em in a sack. They make him feel… WARLIKE, like he wants to make a Snuggie® out of Mr. Majestic's hide.
Then we try to figure out the runes on the sealed door (me and Former Ian and Denny): They say, "Death Bound to the Pit by the Sacrifice Of Four Noble Lives: Liaf, Bauherm, Magin & Azazel." What the hell does that mean? No fuckin' clue. Now it looks like the only way back out is through the Swords of the Pious. So, just to make it work, and to curry favor with the Metal Gods, I drop trow' and piss all over those lawful holy symbols to tell the Swords' gods to fuck off. It also helped me to fix my little disapproval problem.
Meanwhile, Grumble the dwarf is getting' a bit froggy, and hits one of the Swords of the Pious with a javelin. About that time, we decide to take Jewels upstairs. Denny keeps them in bag.  We tried to persuade him to distribute them to the rest of us, to spread the anti-Law aura. It took a while, but eventually he saw reason.
I started marshalling the troops, trying to get ourselves into a phalanx, with me and Formerly Ian in the middle, and to escape via the narrower secret passage by the stairs instead of the big, central corridor with the vines. Grumble says, "Let's maybe kill the wicker guy over there, the guy what they been worshipping."  "NO!" we say, "Let's get the fuck out of here. Formerly Ian ain't looking so good." So, we 'turtle' and move toward the secret passage.
Mr. Majestic makes a final plea for us to destroy the Jewels. We not-so-politely decline. So, it's on.
Denny sent skeletons at Mr. Majestic and his bodyguards, killing one and wounding the other, and then shoots a crossbow at Mr. Majestic, to no avail. It just bounced right off his armor. "That armor may just be worth something, once we kill the guy," I was thinking.
Grumble hurls another javelin. Nope.
Vane throws a Molotov way off line, and they easily dance back from the burning oil.
Formerly Ian casts Sleep, and somehow manages to nod off right in the middle. Fuck me! Now I gotta carry the fuckin'wizard?  [Meta Note: Natural 1. Roll of 5 indicates a Misfire. Gabriel Rolls 1. Goes to Sleep.] I try to slap him around a bit, to wake him up. It'll take a bit for him to come to his senses, but he can stumble along if I support him.
We continue to move in turtle formation.
They attack, but nobody gets hit. As they get closer to Vane, they seem to wither and steam. They … are all fucked up by Whore Wammer or maybe by the Jewel he's carrying, like turned, but with damage. Things are lookin' up at this point, but we got a whole lot of these bastards to kill, and Mr. Majestic is lookin' like a real handful.
We finally get to the hallway, and I carry the wizard. Somebody suggests using some more of that holy water we found, but we're out. We do have that other bottle with the crossed swords on it, and the pasty black gel in it. Hmm… the texture isn't that of something made for drinking… Hey! I got an idea! Smear some of that shit on the Whore Whammer, Vane! Vane smears potion from Crossed Swords bottle. The Whore Whammer is now a very dirty hammer.
Vane ATTACKS. He had an Insight, which somehow helped a miss became a hit! [Meta Note: Whore Whammer is now +3 against all enemies of the Carnifex! Denny gets a bonus too, after smearing his weapon]. It's a hard hit! Mr. Majestic's all pissed about it, like he can't believe how bad it hurt. He says, "What the fuck?" in angelic language.
Mr. Majestic attacks Vane. Two attacks!  No luck, though, because Vane's wearing the Sea Dragon scale armor of the Lizard King.
Three of the mutants attack Vane, and take damage from awesome Chaos aura given off by the Jewel he's carrying!
We get to the end of the secret passage, and Denny opens other door.  Bad guys there, lots of 'em. He closes it again. Then it's my turn.
I decide to support Vane, while he holds off Mr. Majestic and that crew of his. I cast a fire bomb at Mr. Majestic and his bodyguard, and fuck 'em up pretty badly.
The other group of enemies to the south bash the secret door in, so our guys down there need to fight. Formerly Ian casts Color Spray at Mr. Majestic's Lieutenant. [Meta Note: He burns Luck to succeed. Plus mercurial effect… Major Corruption! Formerly Ian's height changes by 1d20-10 inches.] The damned wizard stretches 10 inches taller. What the hell? Maybe he needs to rethink this whole wizard thing. He's turning into a fuckin' freak. Oh, well… I guess he's OUR freak.
Grumble the Dwarf grabs the two-handed sword (Wand of the Executioner) and fucking attacks the Lieutenant with with it. Badly. If our lives weren't on the line, I probably woulda fallen out I was laughing so hard.
Denny brandishes a Carnifex gem. Some mutant dudes get badly burned by Carnifex power. He gets to go again! Does the "turning" thing again. One more is hurt.
I'm finding myself thinking that my neutrality is holding me back. I'm tired of being such a shitty spell caster, and I've fucking had it with neutrality. Time to pick one side or the other. No more fence-sitting. The Metal Gods are a pantheon, after all, and I've got choices! I appeal to the powers of the Metal Gods of Chaos, and begin to rend my flesh with Their runes, obliterating Neutral ones already there. [Meta Note: Clerics can spellburn for things like this, in our world.] I bless Vane. Spellburned to 14 from 11.
Continued burning from my firebomb kills one more bodyguard.
Grumble got hit pretty badly by the Lieutenant.
Grumble and Vane both attack and they miss.
Formerly Ian casts Chill Touch [Meta Note: result of 24! His hands are charged with negative energy! For the next turn, the caster receives a +4 to attack rolls, and every creature the caster attacks takes an additional 2d6 damage as well as 1d4 points of Strength loss. Un-dead creatures take an additional +4 points of damage], and these guys appear to be fucked, now. He badly damages the Lieutenant.
I try to heal Grumble. Shit! Not again! [Meta Note: A "2" is in the disapproval range. Kormaki gets an immediate -1 to heal. But now must go on quest to heal crippled, etc. before that effect goes away]. Kormaki is really thinking about a change of career.
Denny attacks, and misses, but the Jewel's aura does damage.
Grumble hammers the Lieutenant. 
I pick up 2-handed sword, but suddenly realize that, as a now-Chaotic cleric, I can't use this thing. I need an axe or something.
Vane hits Mr. Majestic and socks him good.
Adam: "Tell me how you killed this guy."
Vane: "I smashed his head like a nut."
The other mutant dudes start flipping out. Some charge, but others are moving away toward statue, what we've been calling the Wicker Man.
Formerly Ian tries to Chill Touch the Lieutenant, and succeeds!  Killed that bastard by grabbing his face and reverse microwaving his brains. Other guys' morale is broken, and they start to run.
I move to support Vane. Me and Vane fail some Luck checks.
Three guys attacked. The Jewels fucked them up.
Denny attacks the other guys with firebomb.
Formerly Ian makes Luck check.
Grumble rifles the pockets of the dead dudes. Finds 14 very old silver pieces, wants to loot the rest of them.
I say we should get the fuck out here, but they want to loot Mr. Majestic. However, his corpse is decomposing quickly, and then the rest of the Pious follow suit in short order.
We (of course) go back to desecrate the Wicker Man statue, and burn it with fire.
We backtrack through the complex. The climb back up to the sewer is difficult, but we manage it. We were smart enough to tie ourselves off before climbing. We eventually get up there in the sewer pipe.
We each get a Luck point, and Kormaki reaches 3rd level! Woo hoo!

So, now we gotta figure out what to do with the Jewels of the Carnifex. Maybe we should go visit our old pal, Amor Ba'Gish, the wizard. He knows People. The guys kinda want to keep 'em as trophies, but I think that would only serve to attract the worst kind of thieves. Also, possession of the Jewels would provide proof that we'd fucked up the Swords of the Pious, and Ur-Hadad's lawful do-gooders might not be too happy to find that out, if they manage to do so. I say we sell 'em and spend a bit more money on our compound. Hell, with what we get we might just be able to buy that whore house next door. It might also finance some more improvements to turn our house into more of a defensible compound. Things are unsettled in the First City, and we need to be ready for trouble. For now, though, I could use a drink or ten. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

MGoU-H: Jewels of the Carnifex, Session 2

The Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad campaign continued the +Harley Stroh module, "Jewels of the Carnifex" on Thursday, and this is how it went down.

When last we left our heroes, the had recently defeated three mutant-looking dudes. Tough, ugly, and now very, very dead. Here's a report from Kormaki Lemmisson, 2nd level cleric of the Metal Gods (now only 3 XP away from 3rd level).

At this point we're trying to figure out where to go. There's a door with a chain and padlock (i.e., shiny red button) and there's a room that looks like the doors have been blown off their hinges. We went the "open" route, and found a corridor full of vines with a hole in the floor. Denny Smeds, our thief, went first. He found that the vines weren't dangerous, and that the hole in the floor went down to the first level (probably?). Then he discovered something weird. The vines on the other side of the hole kind of petered out, shriveled and dead. Beyond them Denny found a room with an overturned altar with a skull motif (very Metal). It also looks like there's a hollow under where it used to stand, in the shape of possibly a two-handed sword. The sword is long gone, though. I imagine we'll need to find it at some point, to kill the Big Bad (whatever it is).

On the wall behind the altar was a mosaic to some sort of death goddess. It seemed to be projecting some kind of mad juju, and that was killing the vines. Me, being the party cleric, went to check it out. It didn't seem to shrivel me, so good. I had an inspiration that the goddess might crave blood. The wizard, Formerly Ian, cut open his finger and flicked drops onto the mosaic, which sucked them up like parched soil. Nothing else really happened, though, as a result. It's a nice mural, though, and probably pretty valuable to the right collector, so we decided to maybe steal the mural by taking the panels off the walls. My thought was that we'd go ahead and kill off the vines with it, since it seemed to be killing them somehow. However, we then discovered a hole in the wall, or rather a recessed cylinder. Inside, there was some sort of pull-ring. We'd have to reach in to grab it. Dumb idea. Who has two thumbs and wants to keep 'em? This guy! Ain't no way I'm putting my hand in there. Nobody else wanted to either.

At this point, +Adam Muszkiewicz is all but laughing at us. This is probably the first time that words like "over-cautious" or "timid" would be good descriptions of us, we who style ourselves "The Divine Order of the Purple Tentacle." I mean, shit, we've had the sacred Purple Meat, and seen Muppets and Space Bowie, and smoked mushroom wizard brain. We've killed more apes and ver-men, and lizard people and serpent kin, and whatever else, than just about anybody. We ain't scared o' shit. This time, though, we're short a fighter, and our wizard has spellburned a LOT of stamina and agility. He ain't lookin' so good, at least what you can seen under all that hair. The goat hooves are kind of nifty, though. I wouldn't mind trading my one-leg-longer-than-the-other for a nice set o' trotters like that. They're pretty fuckin' Metal, you know? Hard to sneak around on, though. Maybe Formerly Ian the Wizard will need some special shoes to quiet them down. We could call 'em "sneakers" or something like that.

Anyhow, Crag Beerbeard has himself a hell of an idea. We jimmy up a combination of arrow, string, and rope. The arrow is used to get the string in the hole, the string gets fed through the ring and the other end dragged by out. Then we attach the rope to the string and everybody gets the hell out of the room. We give it a yank. No "BOOM!" So far, so good.

When we return, the mural has parted to reveal a reliquary, and some serious magic is coming off that thing, like the "stink lines" used in comic art to show that something smells awful. It projects a sense of dread. The reliquary is covered in gold and probably weighs about 500 pounds. No carrying that thing out, but maybe there's something inside. We hope so. There's also a shawl the color of dried blood. It's also magical. I can't remember exactly what happened, or how, but the mural or the reliquary, one of the two, fucked up three of the party members who failed a save, aging them magically. Denny Smeds, the thief, went from 21 to 42 years old in a moment's time. The two dwarves Crag and Grumble were also aged, though not nearly as much. Given Denny's advanced stage of decay, we decided the shawl was a fitting reward for him. Lucky bastard. It provides some protective magics.

Then we gotta figure out who's fool enough to touch that reliquary. So we stand around with our thumbs up our asses until Crag Beerbeard brings the awesome. He passes a very difficult Will Save to make this happen, and opens it. Inside, we find some vials (one of unknown properties, three of holy water) and a magical tome encased in a cundach (yeah, we had to look up the word, too). It's a metal case for a book, and this one was locked with three separate locks. After an inspection, Denny Smeds figures that each of them has to be triggered at the same time. Not sure what'd happen if that wasn't done, but nothing good, I'd wager. We decide to pack it along. I grab the holy water, that being my province, and we leave the room.

Next stop was the room next door, the one chained and padlocked. We dithered a bit, but eventually opened it up. Inside we found a mad hermit of some kind (yeah, this is like the third or fourth mad hermit we've encountered in our time, and none of 'em has been good news). Experience dictates that we treat this bastard with a high degree of suspicion. Crazy bastard keeps inviting us to sit down and eat with him. Nope. Ain't happening. We listen to his crazy rantings for a bit, which keep circling back to some guy named Azazel or something like that, then decide that we don't want to mess with him any more. When we try to leave, he follows. Grumble tries to fool him into staying while we go and take care of some things, but he proves resistant. Crag then tries to cold-cock him with a crowbar, but fumbles. Ooops! So, Grumble picks up the slack and Mighty Deeds him with the shield bash. Poor fucker flies across the chamber and slumps to the ground unconscious. "Down goes Frazier!" as the sage once said. I took some time to deface the runes in the room, for they were an affront to me. I felt a stirring in the Void as my actions were noted by Powers Unknown. I fear them not, for I walk with Lemm the Iron Boar and Obhal the Steel Eagle as my personal saints, and the Metal Gods will guard me. We then left the room and locked it behind us. Nope. No mad hermits for the likes of us. We know better.

So up we went, the place where the three mutant-looking guys were beating the drum and also trying to kill us. Their corpses lie there still. Beyond them is a wide corridor almost filled with the roots/vines or whatever they are. I ain't a druid. I'm a city boy, so don't ask me. There's some kind of purplish-white energy roiling around in there, too, so I'm not too keen about just wading in to that mess. So, we check around the area to see what else there was to see. There were more carved murals in the rock here, and we didn't find any indications of a secret door (We were wrong about that, we'd find to our regret, later). So, the vines it was.

Denny Smeds, I have failed to mention, is in control of a skeleton. He found this whistle thing on the body of a sorcerer he'd backstabbed a while back, and he can use it to control the undead. I'm not sure how powerful it is, like if he can raise an undead army, but it seems to work. The dead don't always understand what you want 'em to do, though, so don't expect any complicated tasks from them. This, though, was just the sort of thing they're good for. We sent it into the vines. No long after, it encountered what looked to be about 7 of those mutant guys. The skeleton quickly died. Again, I mean.

Well, nothing for it but to go on through. The vines didn't appear to be dangerous, and we probably... probably could take what destroyed the skeleton. So ahead we forged. What greeted us was not promising. There were seven mutant-looking guys (regular), on larger one with a two-handed sword, and one god-like, majestic guy. That guy's gonna be trouble, we can tell. There's also this Wicker Man thing made out of vines and whatnot. We're still not sure if it's just an idol or if it's dangerous. We engaged them with firebombs and the holy water we'd found in the reliquary. These guys are clearly Lawful, and I never much cared for judgmental types. I try to maintain balance, but these guys clearly are trouble, and if a chaotic goddess's gifts can help deal with them, I'm all for it. I hope the Metal Gods understand that their humble servant is in need. The holy water clearly damaged them, including Mr. Majestic, but not nearly enough. Then, things got fucked up. Back down the hallway, some secret doors opened up. Damn, we missed 'em. Out pours about 20 more mutant guys. They'll take a while to get to us, so we'd best deal with these guys in here, especially Mr. Majestic. We also need to kill that bastard with the 2-handed sword. I got a feeling that thing will be handy, later. Roll for initiative.

Formerly Ian the Wizard went first. He bled for his magic, and spellburned 10 Strength, but only rolled a 23. Four guys went down. We killed a couple more, and wounded some, too. We also spotted a staircase, leading down. I began to marshal my brothers into a better formation. If we could use the stairway as a choke point, and get the dwarves to form a shield wall, we might be able to hold out, at least for a while. Formerly Ian Invoked the Metal Gods (they are his patron), and They heard him. We all heard the music, then, haunting strains of one of the Lost Songs filled us with the power of the Metal Gods. I then blessed Grumble the Dwarf, who was even more filled with the Power of Metal. There was, then, a bit of a kerfuffle 'twinxt the dwarves and the mutant guys, and the mutant guys suffered for it.

Meanwhile, Denny has descended the stairs a bit, and there found what we believe to the Jewels of the Carnifex, the objects (I presume) of our quest. His chaotic ass decides he might do a little "shopping," instead of helping us poor bastards with the killing. I yelled at him a bit about that, but a thief's gotta do what thieves are known for doing.

At this point, Mr. Majestic starts to speak with us inside our heads. These guys are apparently the Swords of the Pious, and came down here to desecrate this here temple. They seem to have encountered difficulties, and couldn't approach the Jewels. So... we can go down these stairs, but they can't? Nice. We may live after all. Anyway, this guy (Azazel's, his name. The guy the mad hermit was muttering about. Thinks he's some kind of god, he does) wants a favor. He thanks us for joining his group, and some crap about us helping him to complete his mission by smashing the Jewels to dust, and releasing him and his merry band of mutant-looking bastards.

Umm... hmm.... Nope. Not gonna happen. These assholes were trying to kills us just a minute ago, and now he thinks we're gonna help his sorry ass? Oh, hellllll no. If they can't come down the stairs, then they can't kill us. Smashing the Jewels would probably make that effect go away. Nope. Sorry, guys.

Still, maybe there's benefit to aiding them. Maybe the obvious escape route is not as simple as it seems. A quandary, to be sure, but not one we have time for today.

That's the story up to this point. I'll tell you more later, after it happens.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Jewels of the Carnifex, Session 1

It's been a while since I posted a play report, and some of you seem to like that sort of thing. Also, it's not really Adam's sort of gig, so I figure I might as well take a shot at it. Plus, it's a new adventure, and I'm having a lot of fun.

Last night, the Metal Gods crew started a module I've been wanting to play in for a while: +Harley Stroh's Jewels of the Carnifex+Adam Muszkiewicz is our GM for the adventure, and warned us that it's pretty brutal: "Bring your highest level characters," he said. So we did, mostly. Then we discovered that we lacked both a thief and a wizard, and so switched a couple out. None of us is at 3rd level yet, so I'm sure we're all going to die.

The final group consisted of:

Kormaki Lemmisson (Cleric, 2nd level, but almost 3rd) played by me
Vane Barbute (Warrior, 2nd level, and used to be 3rd before a brush with a wight drained one) played by +Bear Wojtek
Formerly Ian (Wizard, 2nd level) played by +Gabriel Perez Gallardi
Denny (Thief, 2nd level) played by +Wayne Snyder
Grumble (Dwarf, 2nd level) played by +phil spitzer

+James MacGeorge was delayed by work obligations last night, but no doubt will be joining us next week, in the person of Crag Beerbeard (Dwarf, of course, 2nd level).

A couple points before we get into the meat of the matter. First, this is a 3rd level module, and nobody is even 3rd level (We're doomed). Also, our characters are a bit... beat up. Vane has died countless times, and has maybe 6 Stamina at this point. Formerly Ian is beginning to get a bit corrupted. Kormaki has 7 Luck now, down from his original 14, but up from the 5 Luck he had a while back. He's a shitty cleric, as far as spellcasting goes. I actually said last night (after rolling a natural "1" twice in a row), "Fuck this shit. I'm a warrior now." It was only 50.1% in jest.

Anyhow, Adam did a fine job of building on his civil war in Ur-Hadad storyline, where upstart elements of the former rulers (the paschas), seek to displace the current grand vizier, and bring back the old aristocracy. For all intents and purposes, this probably won't make much of a difference to the people of Ur-Hadad, most of whom live in squalor anyway. It certainly wouldn't make a difference to those who live in the areas outside the walls of the First City. Nonetheless, the Divine Order of the Purple Tentacle (our mercenary band) has done a lot to preserve the place of the Grand Vizier, and was recently successful in turning back a group of the Blood Successors, along with the abominable Kings Kong and Scoterrors with which they assaulted the 'hood in which the band's chapter house stands.

The guard captain who oversees the district was pleased, and sought to "reward" us. He told tales of how the recent fighting and upheavals have resulted in some destruction of the city, and revealed a long-lost abode of a bloody cult, a place reputed to be full of riches, but perhaps one best left forgotten.

When the party arrived on the scene, they found a set of stairs leading down into an underground section of the city (Ur-Hadad, in this case, not Punjar). Almost immediately, they encountered an obelisk topped with a skull, set in warning against trespassers. It also had been vandalized, its features chipped, and with graffiti of, oh, like maybe... dicks all over it (I'm guessing, here). We being who we are, gave zero shits about warnings. The call of riches was to strident. We pressed on down a pipe-like tunnel for a while, but the pipe ended over a deep, deep chasm. Across from us was another pipe gushing water and (one would presume) the kinds of things one finds in a sewer (e.g., turds, piss, the occasional rat and/or alligator). Below that pipe was a platform with some kind of door on it.

We tied a rope around the thief's waist and he took a running leap to reach it, burning a point of Luck to make it happen, and managed to hold on. Almost immediately, he noticed a GIANT MUTANT SPIDER! EEEEEEK! and warned us. The cleric Blessed the wizard, and was wildly successful, giving him a +4 to all rolls. The wizard tried to cast Sleep and (of course) rolled a 1. Of course. He then got hit with web and was snared. It looked like lunchtime was upon us, or at least upon Formerly Ian.

The rest of the party tried to get down to the other platform, better to deal with the foul creature. Vane nearly feel into the chasm, and would surely have died. He burned SIX points of Luck to avoid the outcome. By the end of the adventure, Vane would have only 1 point of Luck left. We will call him "Lucky." Hey, he's not dead, and should be, for this and a million other things. He's like one of those drunk people who manages to survive shit that clearly would have killed just about anyone else. And then doesn't even remember it. You know that guy? Yeah, that's Vane. Hehe.

Eventually, we managed to Sleep the spider-thing, cut off its head, and toss it in the chasm. Fuck you, spider.

The door on the platform was sealed with lead, so we covered it with flammables and lit it on fire to melt the lead. There was some Googling of various melting points and burning temps, as the party physics-lawyered the proceedings. Eventually, we got through into the area beyond. There, we found a spiral staircase leading up and a arched passage leading down some stairs. After inspecting the spiral staircase, we found a calcified humanoid body. We also determined the spiral stairs to be dangerously unstable. We went down the other stairs instead. Then we were immediately attacked by weird shadowy beings who sapped Strength and Stamina (but luckily no level-drain. Vane was pleased that was the case.) We managed to incapacitate several of them, and then killed the rest. The cleric tried turning them, and (miracle!) made an excellent roll. They ran the hell away.

We found a secret door in that chamber and three doors in the next one. The three doors seemed to represent some sort of dangerous puzzle, so we said, "Fuck it." and took the secret door. It ascended to the 2nd level. There, we were attacked again by some creepy gigantic humanoids with bags on their heads. They were up on a higher level than us, and had some cover. So, we charged them. They did us some damage, sure, but eventually Formerly Ian Slept them. Then (of course) we killed them.

We went back down the stairway without investigating that area, instead going through a doorway just to the left of the one by which we entered from the 1st level. That's where we called it a night.

Fun times! Next Thursday, we continue again.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

More Books

I've been a bit remiss in getting back to the blog this week. No real excuse. I just haven't had much to say. However, I have been continuing to read some really great books at bedtime. I'd like to throw a few of them into this blog post and urge you to check them out.

First up is the Black Prism by Brent Weeks. My first exposure to Weeks' work was in the Night Angel trilogy. Also a very good read. In Black Prism, we find a world in which (like Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time) the world is centered around a collection of magic users who inhabit the Chromeria, a city on an island in an inland sea. The world, in this case, consists of seven satrapies, one of which still suffers from having rebelled, and is afflicted with a revolving governorship/cleptocracy.

Magic in this world is derived from the light of the sun, and each user is adept in one or more colors, each with its own unique properties. Somewhat like Dragon Age, magic is a corrupting force (or so it seems...) and its use results, ultimately, in the creation of "color wights," mad users who become a danger to those around them. The story itself centers on a young boy, Kip, who (we come to find) is the bastard sun of The Prism, the emperor (more or less) of the land by virtue of his ability to martial all the colors of light.

It's a very good opening book for Weeks' new series, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it progresses.

Next, a pair of books from Paolo Bacigalupi (no idea how that is pronounced, sorry), Shipbreaker and Drowned Cities. These books both take place in a not-to-distant future, where climate change has created a collapse of governments, widespread civil war, and all the trimmings that come with it. Filling the power void are large, transglobal corporations with their own agendas. For most people, life is brutal, poor, and desperate, and the poorest of the poor scavenge the wreckage of the old world to sell to these firms. Both books are told from the POV of children growing up in this environment.

Shipbreaker is about a young boy who is a scavenger along the Gulf Coast. He lives with his abusive, drug-addled father, who is a real piece of work. He has few friends and only one protector, and seems destined to be killed by his dad, or to starve once his usefulness in retrieving copper wire form narrow conduits is at an end (i.e., he's growing too large, but not large enough to be useful for heavy work). Then, something happens that allows him to take a terrible risk, and maybe to escape from his circumstances. No spoilers.

Drowned Cities is told from the POV of a young girl who lives in a small community near what used to be New Orleans. She is half-breed Chinese, which makes her an outcast. The Chinese, apparently, tried to intervene in the civil war that broke out in this area, but ultimately fled. New Orleans, it seems, was their Vietnam. Those who collaborated were brutalized and killed. Their offspring are still around, but treated like shit. In any case, she is learning to be a healer and is apprenticed to a kindly old man. Then, a band of soldiers (child-solidiers, really) show up. Everything falls apart. The rest of the tale is about her quest to survive, to save a friend, and to escape.

Both of these books are excellent, and great fodder for a post-apocalyptic RPG of some kind. They imagine what could be the most realistic dystopian future I've seen so far. Very much recommended.