Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Article: D&D Adventure Format

There's a bombshell of gaming gossip over at Wizards. One of my favorite D&D designers of all time, Bruce Cordell has written a new article for the Design & Development column. You shouldn't need an Insider subscription to read this. As a main designer of 4th edition D&D, Cordell surprisingly admits in this piece that he does not like the current tactical adventure format and that he is not alone at Wizards.



"The tactical format makes it difficult to generate a compelling adventure narrative with the richness and flexibility of past adventure formats.

Yes, I said it: I don’t care for the tactical two-page spread.

And it’s not just me. Discontent over the current format has gathered in dark dungeon corners, whispered across game designer cube walls, and cropped up on internet blogs.

The takeaway is that the tactical format boils adventures down to just key encounters, which tends to railroad adventure design. It also means that adventures tend to be fairly Spartan affairs, because too little space remains to include extra notes on exploration, or explanation of cool bits of lore, or character story."

Hear, hear. This actually started in 3rd edition, my most reviled example being the slightly similar "Delve" format that was used in the last Greyhawk module ever produced, Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk). Needless to say 4th edition took the ball and ran with it. Cordell's article is a vindication to those out there who felt 4th edition lacked the D&D feel. Don't believe me? For answers to his dilemma he goes back to the classics for examples of how to format compelling adventures.

"1st Edition adventures I looked at included Tomb of Horrors, White Plume Mountain, Isle of Dread—and other classics. I also reviewed such modules as the Desert of Desolation series (which included I3: Pharaoh) and the Dragonlance modules (e.g., DL1: Dragons of Despair)." 

Good choices, Bruce. That's why I like ya! So now having looked back nostalgically at D&D (something that is still trending over at Wizards since last year) they came up with a new hybrid format apparently. Next month an adventure for eDungeon called Going Ape will showcase their new format. While I don't run 4th edition personally, I do applaude the courage of Bruce and others to finally recognize that the way alot of people still to this day prefer D&D adventures to be written is still viable. So in the very least I will take a peek at what they come up with.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sea Princes #9: Testy Moments

Last time in the adventures of the Sea Princes crew, the away team from the Bird of Prey discovered a charnel pit of baboons and beneath it emerged a few gigantic bombardier beetles bent on adding to the pile. Things looked bleak, but it wasn't half as dicey compared to what happened next...Here are our protagonists:



Victor Emmitt Hammond (fighter, beetle slasher)
Araxo Tydan (rogue, hardly brasher)
Cuahtehmoc aka "Cuahto" (ranger, archer basher)
Brother Pickles (cleric, skillet smasher)

Angered by the close-shaving arrow shot, Cuahtehmoc turned, oblivious of the beetle threat and rushed the foolish archer "Bullseye" Arborius and hacked him upside the head with his maca. The blow sent him reeling backwards and into the water of the inlet. Then one of the beetles trundled up to take a bite out of the Olman from behind. A frantic battle erupted and the shouts had Vic and his female crewmate, "Scar" Medorga turning the rowboat back around to help. Araxo held onto the red stone figurine and defended himself, falling back toward the inlet while Cuahto covered their rear and fought the one on him, yelling for Bullseye to use his bow.

Bullseye however, had nearly died from the punishing strike by Cuahto and claimed it was best to flee from the giant insects, so he quickly waded toward the rowboat. During the chaos of battle, a devil on the shoulder of Cuahto that looked strangely like Victor Hammond, told him he should've finished off the bumbling archer while no one was around to witness it. Unfortunately the danger at hand stayed his hand. Bullseye scrambled onto the boat, even as Cuahto unsuccessfully grabbed at him out of frustration to pull him back into the water. Vic and Scar figured the archer had been wounded by the beetle and before any protests could be made, the agitated beetles crawled to the bank and pressed the attack, one even sprayed acid on Araxo and Cuahto. Victor and a battle hungry Scar joined in with their flashing blades and in short order the beetles were laid low, yet everyone was worse for the wear. Scar would not allow a hand to be laid on the injured archer until they were back on the ship. Tensions were high between the rangers on that short ride.

Back on board the captain complimented the crew on the search and he had his resident chronicler, Hilgarde of Hokar look at the red figurine. Brother Pickles set to healing the exhausted team while the ship's surgeon took Bullseye to rest and tend to his wounds separately. Everyone conferred on the origin of the burned baboon pit and the idol. Some assumed the beetles were the origin of the fire, though they showed no affinity to fire only carrion. With the help of another Olman deckhand they learned the idol was of Huhueteotl, Olman god of fire and time. According to legend, sacrifices to this god are made into volcanoes but in other parts of the jungle they are done as well, all to appease the deity so that he doesn't stop time. Captain Rennaud was impressed by the tale and the next day he learned from Hilgarde that the idol was able to protect its bearer from flames. He allowed its finder, first mate Tydan to award it to one of his team. In a shrewd play for more allies, Araxo granted it to Scar for her bravery in battle. She was overjoyed and promised to make up for Araxo's gesture somehow...

As the voyage to Sasserine continued, whispers of the true cause of Bullseye's serious wound spread. Two of the archer's comrades, the surly Megaron "the Bold" of Port Torvin and "Handsome" Griff Aldagar approached their commanding officer Araxo, and asked him to keep his savage friend away Bullseye or else. Megaron related this not so subtly, having a chip on his shoulder for Araxo, a fellow Torvinite but Griff was much more genial, smiling the whole time he made implied threats. After all, he carries the biggest sword on the ship. When Cuahto found out about this, he was even more riled up and directly confronted the pair as they worked the rigging, leading to a rather tense scene for the rest of the crew. The bosun quickly got everyone back to work, but the mood was not so joyous for the rest the day and night before the Bird of Prey finally arrived at Anna Taskerhill's home town of Sasserine.

Game note: For a short session, it seemed we got alot of good subplot drama brewed. Next session I plan to make heavy use of the players guide to Sasserine from Paizo's Savage Tide adventure path. I can't remember where I got it, but I want to say it was Gencon. This is the thin book with the female pirate on the cover. Take that, Dan!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

New Item: d12 Hour Power

Today I have a long but humorous rant:

For as long as I can remember, we gamers are probably more familiar than most in our society about need for caffeinated drinks to extend both our work and play (I prefer gallons of tea). Now however, it seems that within the last decade or so, advertisements are all over the place for these energy boosting products that claim no side effects. Is our culture really that strung out that simple caffeine drinks are not enough to get through the day? Is being an insomniac desirable? (If I don't get 8+ hours of sleep I'm useless) This stuff is a big market apparently because the makers of these energy products keep trying to one-up each other. Check it out, first there was a five hour energy "shot". Then to our convenient stores came six hour power. Not to be outdone, someone made a drink that works seven hours. Then someone figured drinking wasted too much energy so they came up with eight hour capsules. Hell, another guy said, if eight hours is good, nine hours has to be better. Scoffing at a mere nine hours, another genius finally concocted ten hours of power. That's nearly half a day! Can it possibly get any better than that?! Mad scientists haven't reached that plateau quite yet, but in the world of D&D it can! I present to you, from the alchemy labs of Greyhawk City's University of Magical Arts....

Searching mega-dungeons and slaying monsters
all day is a breeze with d12 Hour Power!
Yes, D&D potions are the original energy shot with no side effects. Looking back through my books the spells and potion types change over the editions but at certain points d12 hour "buffing" potions was very possible. 1st edition AD&D (and I assume 2nd edition) Strength spells for instance lasted 6 turns/ level. For those who don't recall, one turn was equal to 10 minutes, so a 12th level magic-user could effectively buff someone for 12 hours! Even potions in 1st edition were modestly noted as lasting 4 turns +1d4 turns of duration (50-80 minutes). Then 3rd edition came along and had a slew of buffs for all character stats and they started at the equally eye-boggling 1 hour per spell level and this time potions had full effect of the spell that made it. This of course meant virtually permanent stat boosts for everyone with a mage. Luckily for DMs 3.5th edition fixed this broken system and knocked their durations down to 1 minute/ level. I have no idea if 4th edition currently has buff spells/potions like this, but I'm sure they don't need it and if they do I wager they only last per encounter.

Back to d12 Hour Power, why not have a moderately powerful potion like this for fun? It could be the creation of a chaotic-neutral wizard who mixed and distilled one too many potions of speed or the special brew of an over-achieving deity's temple. If anything it's a good excuse to break out those often neglected d12-sided dice. And hey, they come in a variety of fruity flavors:

Brown Kara (Strength)
Golden Galda (Constitution)
Sour Crabapple (Dexterity)
Dark Chokecherry (Wisdom)
Apricot-Peach (Intelligence)
Blue Usk (Charisma)

Disclaimer: d12 Hour Power is not proof against Dispel Magic or anti-magic effects. Potion effects are not cumulative with other spells or boosting drinks. Although there are no side-effects, monsters, NPCs and some PCs may try to kill you for your potion.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

GH Comic #310: Pact of Greyhawk



You think you know your Greyhawk history? Well, it's time for another trip into the past. This is what really happened...

Enjoy!




Monday, June 20, 2011

Sea Princes #8: Goin' Ashore

Last session was a shortened one unfortunately, and one player was sick, but there was still some good plotlines laid down for the future of the Hold of the Sea Princes campaign. Narratively I think I can make the session seem like more than it was. Last time, the crew of the Bird of Prey came upon the friendly port of Fort Blackwell. Here are our intrepid characters:
 
Victor Emmitt Hammond (fighter, courtin' in the rain)
Araxo Tydan (rogue, schemin' in the rain)
Cuahtehmoc aka "Cuahto" (ranger, trackin' in the rain)

Fort Blackwell, an outpost of the Sea Princes is situated on the tip of the Amedio Jungle's cape, known locally as the Hook. Its harbor is protected by a sea wall, and ships wishing to enter are subjected to searches. Usually it is said more contraband leaves this port than enters it. Needing to only resupply after a harsh trip from Narisban, Captain Rennaud gave most of the men shore leave here knowing there was nowhere else for them to go but into the jungle. Notably, two left off this list was pressed ganged kidnappers, Tater and Gunt (Gunther, whose teeth were knocked out by Vic). Scowling on deck, they were approached by their captor-officer Araxo Tydan. Things were somewhat smoothed over as the rogue started to forge some allies among the crew. This "good-will" was also etxended to Araxo's bunkmate, the ship's surgeon Caine the Despised, a half-elf that no one liked for his foul bed-side manner.

On shore, Victor Hammond escorted Anna Taskerhill on a walk of the small town of Blackwell (population 1100) to see its taverns, inns, provisioner shops, shrines and so forth. The temperature was still warm and the steady rains still came in intervals as it had for the last week. Seeking shelter from the downpour at one of the inns, the pair weren't seen again until dawn...

Meanwhile, Araxo and Cuahto walked the town as well, but they sought to make some shady contacts in the port for a side smuggling venture. Their luck proved to be bad as everyone they talked to seemed to be carrying about their business. Eventually at the Rusty Nail tavern, the pair met overdressed, loud mouthed owner Al Swearengen (no relation to the guy from Deadwood) who knew of Count Tydan but not so much the Bird of Prey. This Holder took the time to chat with smooth talking Araxo about possibly moving some (illicit) product through his shop, yet in the end the loud manager insisted he needed to see a sample first (of which they had none yet). So, the two left with at least an opportunity to sell some contraband the next time they're in Fort Blackwell. Assuming they can get by the harbor-watch.

Setting off from Fort Blackwell (Drowsy Mr. Hammond was given a stern look from Quartermaster Rotario), the Bird of Prey with its passenger, caught a good wind and stayed close to the Amedio shore on its port side as it entered Jeklea Bay on route to Sasserine. One hundred miles out, look outs noticed a strange sight on the jungle coast: smoke coming from a narrow burned-out inlet. Feeling confident in home waters, the Blackguard decided to investigate the Burn. Leftenant Tydan was given the command of an away-twan of his choosing. Victor Hammond and Cuahto of course were picked along with much reviled archer Bullseye and quiet, chip-on-the-shoulder warrior "Scar" Medorga, the only female member of the crew. Scar jumped at a chance for some action while always-serious Bullseye was met by jibes and taunts from both the PCs and the NPC crew for his ineffectual archery skills so far.

A rowboat was taken ashore where they soon found the trees blackened and smoldering as if a lava flow had cut a swath through the jungle. Not being anywhere near volcanoes, they dismissed this theory. Off to one side of the bank they spotted a dry side ditch piled with dozens of charred bodies. Araxo, Cuahto and Bullseye got out to check them out, while Vic and Scar looked on to the end of the Burn. After some bickering between the rangers it was determined the bodies were common baboons. Araxo wandered off into the burn pile seeing one baboon that was not fully burnt, yet missing its legs, and clutching something tight in its dead hand.

Stooping down to get what it held, Araxo found to his chagrin, that the baboon was still alive as it opened its eyes, screamed hysterically and bit him on the hand. Cuahto jumped to his aid and split the creature's skull. A late arrow from Bullseye zipped by an angered Cuahto to hit the dead baboon. In the distraction Araxo found the simian held a red stone figurine. He didn't have time to study it however, for the pile of crispy baboons erupted upwards and from the ground came the giant bombardier beetles...

(to be continued)

Game notes: Kudos go out to Dan (Victor Hammond) who printed my south seas map in color, on a single sheet of heavy paper that looks to be close to 24"x24". He said it could be done bigger if I wanted but my text resolution didn't scale up well enough. Mapping lesson learned there, but in this this case I'm more than happy with the size. The map is just as gorgeous in print as I imagined it would be. Too bad I can't sell them!

 

Friday, June 17, 2011

"Why Greyhawk" Explained on Podcast

Recently I've been involved in a gaming podcast with my long-time gaming group, called Gamerstable. Inevitably the subject of Greyhawk came around and yours truly weighed in on the pros and cons of sticking with this published game setting for so long. I think I did a decent job explaining myself.  I have a feeling Greyhawk will come up again, since it has been in our lives for such a long time. Anyhow, give it a listen, and please give some feedback for me and guys either on this post or on the Gamerstable site itself. Agree, disagree, any commentary is appreciated. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

GH Comic #309: The Wizards Two

Is it just me or does  Rautheene
 look like Katy Perry?
Yup, it's yet another Dragon Magazine related comic from the twisted mind of Mortellan. This time we poke some harmless fun at Ed Greenwood and some of his classic articles and characters. Enjoy!

Monday, June 13, 2011

GH Comic #308: The Graz'zt Show

Annnnd we're back from commercial. Who will our host Graz'zt interview this month? Shackle yourself in, sit back and prepare to be tor...er...entertained.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sea Princes Campaign #7: Changing Weather

This is the continuing series on my Hold of the Sea Princes campaign. Last time, the crew of the Bird of Prey was set to leave the island port of Narisban with a new passenger, one Anna Taskerhill. She is a runaway bride from Sasserine with a reward out for her return. Three years later, she is homesick and with the help of family friend Cpt. Rennaud "the Blackguard", she hopes to return there and face the music. But in the meantime there are still scalliwags out there who would try to cash in on her ransom. Having dealt with them, their course was set and the Bird of Prey slipped out early the next morning. Here are our protagonists:


Victor Emmitt Hammond (fighter, sword-trainer)
Araxo Tydan (rogue, work-feigner)
Cuahtehmoc aka "Cuahto" (ranger, Tydan-retainer)
Brother "Pickles" (cleric, no-brainer)

It was to be a hot, listless day and the Bird of Prey caught an early launch out of port, heading north west back toward "the hook" of Amedio Jungle. The second day into the voyage, South Olman Isle had just disappeared over the horizon when Mr. Hammond belatedly spotted another vessel creeping behind theirs from the same port. After much deliberation it was found to be flying the flag of the Crimson Fleet pirates (red flag with a black skull). The history between the Blackguard and the Crimson Fleet was not good to begin with, and added to the fact they had a valuable passenger, they knew this ship was not up to any good. Surprsingly it was soon determined (using spyglass) that the ship was not the pirate ship Hideous which the PCs had met in port, but a sister ship from the fleet called the Laughing Rake.
The crew immediately debated whether to confront the pirates or evade them. Hammond and the quartermaster "Skullbreaker" Oratero made the case to the captain to face them, while first mate Araxo and bosun "Old Man" Cassen cautioned against that to protect their passenger. Captain Rennaud chose to evade, so the entire crew put their backs into it and in a lightning exercise of skill managed to put enough distance on the Laughing Rake as to lose them by nightfall. Then the weather changed.

Heavy winds rolled in from the northeast and drove the Bird of Prey slightly off course for a day toward the Amedio coast. By the second day the winds continued to pummel the ship but the crew managed to get their bearing back under control before any land was sighted. What ever came of the Laughing Rake in the two-day windstorm is unknown. Structurally the caravel sustained minor beam and rigging damage, keeping "Nasty" Nestor the carpenter and his lackeys busy for a bit. Then the fog rolled in.

The winds were light but visibility was nil the next day, so after two hard days of work everyone deservedly rested up. The ship's elven musician, "Piper" Kellin regaled the crew with another sailor's story, "The Ardent." This tale is about an Aerdian exploration convoy headed for the south seas, and one ship full of pious Pholtans, the Ardent got lost from the others in a fog cloud. The hair raising things that happened after the fog lifted had set the crew on edge, but their moods were lifted by the heckling comments of Brother Pickles. The weather changed.

The fog lifted and the light winds persisted but with a cooler temperature behind it. In their free time, Vic spoke at length with Anna (under the eye of Skullbreaker) who was tired of being cooped up in the captain's quarters for days. He also began to teach her some swordplay on deck, much to the diversion of all. Anna also had a chance to speak with Cuahto in the Olman tongue. Her skill in his language was decent though his dialect showed he was from parts far from the Olman Isles where she learned through trading with the natives. The Bird of Prey continued unabated north by northwest for four more days then, the weather changed.

Warmer temperatures with steady rain showers came upon their vessel as they sailed within 10-20 miles of the Amedio coast. During one misty day there was much excitement on the deck as Mr. Hammond (belatedly) spotted a small horse-sized green dragon off their port, flying nearby to check them out. Leftenant Tydan, sensing a rare opportunity, called up the much-maligned resident archer "Bullseye" Arborius to try and operate one of the ballistae in order to wing the creature and possibly collect it. Araxo Tydan likely saw this as a safe chance at some glory for himself so he took the trigger of the only other ballistae. Both failed miserably to hit the dragon, which turned and flew away uninterested. Bullseye earned some more scorn from the crew as his weapon infact backfired and sent him on his rump. With that bit of fun ended the crew was barked back to work and the Bird of Prey would soon see evidence of civilization along the cliffs of the Hook, a single trebuchet aimed out to sea. That is when they knew their next stop, Fort Blackwell was only a day away.

Campaign notes: The PCs are 2nd level now. In case anyone missed it last post, I finished my mapping masterpiece of the south seas. My long term goal for the map is to give the players a wealth of mysterious, unexplored places to sail as well as gobs of well-known ports to take their wares to. All the weather related changes were randomly rolled using charts I culled from Stormwrack. If I ever get around it, I'll do full write ups of Piper Kellin's stories (The Ardent and the Platinum Hand so far).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Greyhawk Map: South Seas

Okay Greymaniacs, it's here at last. My masterpiece of mappery! This is a map of the southern seas of the Flanaess and extended tropical bodies of water first seen in a 1st edition inset map. This area was later expanded upon in 2e's the Scarlet Brotherhood and Dungeon Magazine's Savage Tide adventure path. I've added some of my own flair to the map, to give it an "old nautical map" feel. Below are a few details of the map I'd like to point out for clarification since this project started as a map for my home campaign based out of the Hold of Sea Princes. Also, I'm not sure how the resolution on the map turned out. If anyone prints this out, let me know how it works.


Click on thumbnail for full size map
Notes from Mortellan:
  • There is no hard canon date to this map. I tried to include as many proper names of seas and ports as I could. My own campaign is set in 576 CY but uses concepts from products set earlier and later along the timeline. 
  • For example, the "Scarlet Brotherhood" as commonly seen on most maps was once properly called the Kingdom of Shar. I like this name alot as it gives a good cover for the evil organization.
  • The full Great Kingdom is still seen here, as is lost lands like Medegia and Almor. It would not be hard to change these placenames for later eras like the Greyhawk Wars.
  • For fun, I have deliberately blotted out the Spindrift Isles and made it a "mysterious place." I did this based on the 83 Guide's mention that the Olvenfolk of this chain capture and imprison any sailors who try to come there. Note however, the southernmost isle of the Spindrifts (Lendore Isle) is ruled by humans from the city of Lo Reltarma. The Guide says there is trade with the mainland from here, but we can ascertain from this "sailor's map" that they were never brave enough to test those waters. So the Spindrifts is a known destination, but for the purposes of this map it is a dangerous unknown place like the far south seas.
  • I have gone with the standard label of "The Pomarj" though in my campaign it is still nebulous who rules there; the Slavelords, Turrosh Mak's Orcish Empire or whatever pirates.
  •  I've seen the Pearl Sea and Vogan Sea used interchangably on other maps. Spanning the Pearl Sea across the width of the Vohoun Ocean seemed odd to me, so I made the Pearl Sea be in the east and Vogan to the west (as it is named for a Touv god).
  • The Isle of Dread found in the SW corner is the one from Dungeon Mag's Savage Tide series. So is the city of Sasserine at the end of Jeklea Bay. Sasserine was founded by the Hold of Sea Princes but is now independent.
  • In all four corners and strewn about the map there are icons depicting dangers or cultures that the "maker of the map" may know of or heard rumors about. Always good for a hook.
  • I tried to only label port towns and deliberately didn't use any other geographic symbols other than the beginnings of river systems. While I researched hard, the map is not exhaustive in detail. I only used those ports I could find space for on the map. If I've made any glaring errors in spelling or omission, well chalk that up to a bad Gather Information or Knowledge Geography roll.
  • One feature of the map I'd like to add later is markers for unique aquatic locations. Things like the Jungle of Lost Ships or realms of Sahuagin and Sea Elves. I'll have to check with certain people I know about these places for next time. Until then, enjoy!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Postfest XV: All Dried Out

"In the great peaceful theocracy of Veluna, lies a small town named Shandalanar.
A land who has known peace almost from its simple beginnings. This resurrected old miners town sports fertile soil and a peace loving people. When one of the farmers sons is arrested for stealing drinks at the local tavern its big news. Unfortunately for the people of Shandalanar things are about to get much more grim."


Continuing with Canonfire's latest postfest of articles is a sidetrek adventure written by someone who is not a stranger to postfests, Argon. His entry is entitled All Dried Out and it's such a fully realized mini-adventure that it required two separate postings! This sidetrek set in the peaceful land of Veluna is a perfect setting for this twisted horror-story. Argon spares no detail with his colorfully descriptive text, full creature stat blocks and even a couple utility maps! This two-part article is perfect for any DM wanting to inject a little creepy low-level (4-6 characters of 1st to 2nd level) horror into their new campaign. Check it out!





Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sea Princes Campaign #6: Who Nabbed Who?

Welcome back to the continuing voyages of the Bird of Prey and its eccentric crew from the Hold of the Sea Princes. Last we saw, fresh off a crocodile hunting expedition on the Amedio Coast, they had finally landed at their destination of Narisban in the Olman Isles to trade goods. At the Last Respite tavern, Captain Rennaud "The Blackguard" encountered an old family friend among the serving girls, named Anna. Unfortunately he wasn't the only one making eyes at her....here is the dramatis personae for this session:

Victor Emmitt Hammond (fighter, teeth-breaker)
Araxo Tydan (rogue, deal-maker)
Cuahtehmoc aka "Cuahto" (ranger, leg-staker)
Brother "Pickles" (cleric, man-shaker)
 
Some scurrilous crewman of the trade-ship Bluesprite recognized poor Anna (whose hair was dyed deep black) as a runaway from Sasserine wanted by a wealthy family. Captain Rennaud tried to stand them down with an intimidating show of his allies. Vic, ever the gallant, then jumped upon the bar and kicked in the teeth of one who dared to lay a hand on Anna. On the verge of a barfight, the crew of the Hideous (Crimson Fleet enemies of the Bird of Prey) ducked out. Fortunately the Bluespriters weren't brave enough to fight back and they left (sans several teeth).
 
Captain Rennaud explained to the PCs that their ship would be changing course, now going on a side trip to Sasserine before returning to Port Torvin. He intended to take Anna home. It turned out she is of the Taskerhill noble family (know for their jungle lumbering company) and had fled to parts unknown with a couple friends to avoid an arranged marriage with a rival house, the Bevenins. The Bevenin family, is known in Sasserine for their prosperous business, the Amedio Trading Concern. With all that money an outstanding reward has been out for her return for some time. In the few years Anna Taskerhill had been hiding out in the hinterlands of civilization (where she managed to learn the Olman tongue), her two friends had met untimely deaths, leaving her unprotected and alone. With encouragement from Cpt. Rennaud she decided it was time to go home and face the music.
 
The captain had to leave and prepare the ship for departure, and he left the PCs behind at the bar, to guard her and escort her to the ship after it closed (for he didn't want the owner to know she was skipping out). Not surprisingly the crew of the Bluesprite were waiting in the shadows to grab her too. Figuring something like this would happen Mr. Hammon went with her to her room upstairs to pack (no time for love though) and sneak out the side exit. The others left out the front to cause a distraction and spotted the would be abductors, including one with missing teeth. That's when things got real ugly.
 
Brother Pickles always reckless and unafraid of pain charged in to tie up one of the four sailors. Cuahto in a flash was at his side and axed one down with his deadly obsidian edged weapon. This prompted the rest to draw their cutlasses in a panic. That's when first-mate Araxo, guarding the rear, yelled for them to press gang the louts and bring them back to their ship! (a quite original idea in my opinion) Victor and Anna took off in a sprint away from the fight to get to the docks, but one of the four saw them. This forced Araxo to jump in and try and head him off.
 
Pickles and his opponent, the man with missing teeth, slapped and tussled for position in a grapple, while Cuahto turned his weapon sideways like a cricket bat to subdue his foe. The guy fended off the brutal blows and inexpertly swung his cutlass back at the assailing Olman. Araxo wasn't faring much better, and after a couple failed swings of his rapier, the sailor dodged past him and ran off in the direction Victor and Anna had fled. Then in a twist of heroism, Mr. Tydan gave chase to the chaser!
 
Victor looking back could see someone gaining on them, so in his usual swashbuckling manner, he decided to scoop up the young woman and carry her on down the street. Araxo managed to gain on the thug and they stopped for breath to resume their fencing match. While Brother Pickles continued to roll on the ground trading elbows and choke-out moves, Cuahto finally batted his opponent unconscious. Things were going bad for Araxo then, his good shirt had a slice through it and he was wearing down, that's when he tried to bluff his way into getting the man to surrender. He didn't buy the intimidating threat of an archer in the shadows. That's when Cuahto switched to his bow and sent an arrow past the man's ear from 200 feet out.
 
Pickles finally completed the sleeper hold on "toothless" and by then Vic and their charge were home free for the Bird of Prey. Convinced of the archer's presence, the last standing sailor tried to make a run for it. Araxo called again for his capture, so Cuahto aimed for the leg, and hit! Too bad for the man, the arrow critically hit a major vein and he died. With two surviving NPCs in their hands, the bodies were pilfered of odds and ends and then taken back to the Bird of Prey to be pressed into an oath of service to the Blackguard. It seems the would-be abductors will get to go with Anna to Sasserine after all!
 
Campaign notes: I have a map I've been working on for the "south-seas" setting I'm running. When it's done, I think you'll all be blown away. It might be my masterpiece. Also, I broke out one of my favorite 1st edition articles for the pilfering of the sailor's bodies: "Was it Worth the Risk" by Bruce Barber in Dragon Mag #104. I may write about that one someday, it is still the best system to use for pick pocketing and such.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

GH Comic #307: The Graz'zt Show

There isn't much good on T.V. during the summer season, so you have to flip around on the channels a bit more. Eventually, if you search far enough down the hundreds of listings you'll find....