More Toys For The Boys

I didn’t really do much that was noteworthy in terms of planning last session, because sometimes, the party just go slower than expected, or the adventure is designed to take place over multiple sessions. It’s quite interesting to see the difference between a one-shot “five-room” dungeon adventure, and a normal multi-session adventure in terms of scale of planning. God forbid that I create a mega-dungeon for my players!

That said, having covered the party’s preparations to explore the Tomb of Alaxus in the previous session, I did spend some time updating the Weapons and Armour tables with prices, so that my players could consider upgrading their equipment between adventures. After all, they might decide that the need something a bit more beefy for their encounters in due course.

Both the Weapons and Armour lists hadn’t been updated since the tutorial part of Escape From Zanzer’s Dungeon saw the party of escapees find their first equipment after defeating Jerj. This was just after the players chose the classes of each character, which was needed to define their starting proficiencies, and therefore what weapons and armour they could actually use. This would see Fighters end up as absolute tanks, whilst demonstrating just how weak early Mages were.

It was nice to be able to add some new toys to the mix, although I believe that apart from a few more daggers for Thaddeus, the party were more interested in exploring their new recruits with further adventures. Seeing as I hadn’t done much else this week, I figured that I would show off the updated Armour and Weapons lists, as well as the new Equipment list. Don’t worry so much about the prices, D&D economy evolved over time…

Armour

The full updated Armour list is shown below:

Armour Price Proficiency AC Bonus
Padded Armour 4 gp Light Armour +1
Leather Armour 5 gp Light Armour +2
Ring Mail 100 gp Light Armour +3
Scale Mail 120 gp Medium Armour +4
Chain Mail 75 gp Medium Armour +5
Banded Mail 200 gp Heavy Armour +6
Splint Mail 80 gp Heavy Armour +6
Plate Mail 600 gp Heavy Armour +8
Shield 10 gp Shield +1

The entries that have been shown in italics are the new entries from Wrath of the Minotaur. The adventure added a range of new Armour from AD&D 2nd Edition, some of which didn’t neccessarily make it into 3.x or later editions, but I felt like including it.

Padded Armour is form of armour made from layers of padded clothing, slightly thicker than normal wear. It’s a simple and cheap armour, but has equally poor AC bonus to go with it.

I always thought that Ring Mail was a type of Chain Mail, that was made from rings of metal joined together in a much looser weave than Chain Mail. Turns out, I was wrong. Ring Mail is actually a form of Leather Armour that has rings of metal embedded into it. This makes it a variant form of Studded Leather Armour, so I used the AC for Studded Leather to represent Ring Mail.

Scale Mail is similar to Chainmail, except that rather than chain links woven together for protection, small steel plates are linked together, forming protection like the scales of a fish.

Splint Mail and Banded Mail are both forms of Chain Mail with sheets of plate metal on top, giving it better protection. However, with Banded Mail, the sheets go horizonally around the wearer in bands, whilst in Splint Mail, they go in vertical strips down over the body of the wearer from the shoulders. Unlike Plate Mail, these metal strips do not overlap in any way, so don’t provide the same degree of protection.

There are some anomalies here that I am working on. For example, with Leather Armour only costing 1 gp more than Padded Armour, why would anybody choose, let alone pay for, Padded Armour. Why is Scale Mail less protective than Chain Mail, yet of greater cost. And why would anyone choose Banded Mail over Splint Mail if they both give the same protection? I think a lot of these issues will be answered at a later time when more aspects of the game come into play.

Weapons

The full updated Weapons list is shown below:

Weapon Price Type Proficiency Damage
Knife 5 sp Melee Simple 1d4 Slashing
Dagger 2 gp Melee/Thrown Simple 1d4 Piercing
Club Melee Simple 1d4 Bludgeoning
Mace 8 gp Melee Simple 1d6 Bludgeoning
Quarterstaff Melee Simple 1d6 Bludgeoning
Spear 1 gp Melee Simple 1d6 Piercing
Morningstar 10 gp Melee Simple 1d8 Bludgeoning
Shortsword 10 gp Melee Martial 1d6 Piercing
Handaxe 1 gp Melee/Thrown Martial 1d6 Slashing
Flail 15 gp Melee Martial 1d8 Bludgeoning
Warhammer 2 gp Melee Martial 1d8 Bludgeoning
Battleaxe 5 gp Melee Martial 1d8 Slashing
Broadsword 10 gp Melee Martial 1d8 Slashing
Longsword 15 gp Melee Martial 1d8 Slashing
Halberd 10 gp Melee Martial 1d10 Slashing
Greataxe 20 gp Melee Martial 1d12 Slashing
Greatsword 50 gp Melee Martial 2d6 Slashing
Sling Ranged Simple 1d4 Bludgeoning
Light Crossbow 35 gp Ranged Simple 1d6 Piercing
Shortbow 30 gp Ranged Martial 1d6 Piercing
Longbow 75 gp Ranged Martial 1d8 Piercing

As above, the entries in italics are new entries that have been added or amended from Wrath of the Minotaur. These entries help round out some of the missing gaps from the weapons list, including several from AD&D 2nd Edition which didn’t make it into later editions.

The Knife is a cheap, single-bladed dagger. More of a tool than a weapon, it’s a cheap option for melee. It’s single blade means that it’s not balanced for throwing, and causes slashing, rather than piercing, damage.

The Quarterstaff was available in D&D, but never featured in the adventure Escape From Zanzer’s Dungeon, and therefore was omitted from the original list. It’s essentially a long, two-handed stick, which is an improvement over the single-handed Club.

The Morningstar is basically a Mace with a heftier, and spikier, head. It’s still essentially a bashing weapon, but causes greater damage than the Mace.

The Flail is essentially a Mace that has a length of sturdy chain between the head and the haft of the weapon. This allows for greater damage when used, but requires more training than a Mace or a Morningstar does.

In D&D, the Battleaxe is a two-handed axe, that does more damage than the Handaxe. In AD&D 2nd Edition and later editions, the Battleaxe becomes a sturdier one-handed axe that cannot be thrown in combat, unlike the Handaxe. The two-handed axe weapon becomes the Greataxe. This gives those who prefer axes a viable, more powerful, weapon choice that sits between the Handaxe and Greataxe.

The Broadsword is a sword with a wider blade. The removal of the Broadsword in D&D 3.x has been somewhat contentious, as the Broadsword is an iconic weapon in fantasy games. Longswords were often seen as weapons for more agile fighters, with slightly greater reach and parrying ability. From 3.x, the Broadsword was classed as a Longsword, with no differences between the two. As such, I included it again simply because I am a fan of the humble broadsword in my games…

Equipment

Finally, here’s the new Equipment list to examine:

Item Price
Backpack 2 gp
Belt Pouch 1 gp
Blanket 3 sp
Bucket 5 sp
Chain, Light (per foot) 3 gp
Chest, Small 2 gp
Chest, Large 1 gp
Candle 1 cp
Chalk 1 cp
Firewood (per fire) 1 cp
Flint and Steel 5 sp
Glass Bottle 10 gp
Holy Symbol 25 gp
Holy Water (per vial) 25 gp
Ladder (10′) 5 cp
Lantern 12 gp
Map Case 8 cp
Mirror 10 gp
Mule 8 gp
Oil (per flask) 6 cp
Paper (per sheet) 2 gp
Parchment (per sheet) 1 gp
Piton 3 cp
Rations (per week) 3 gp
Rope (per 50 feet) 1 gp
Sack, Large 2 sp
Sack, Small 5 cp
Thieves’ Tools 30 gp
Shovel 5 sp
Wine Skin (per Skin) 2 sp

Not exactly mind-blowing, but this has been the mainstay of adventuring equipment since the first days of D&D. Although the 10-foot Pole got dropped to the wayside in favour of the 10-foot Ladder. Still, if you really need a 10-foot Pole or two, you can always break the Ladder in half. Of course, do it wrong and you will end up with two 5-foot Ladders…

The Legend of the Flaming Jello – Wrath of the Minotaur Session 2

Second session of the Wrath of the Minotaur, and the party are ready to finally enter the Tomb of Alaxus. Torches prepared and weapons in hand, they brave the deadly corridor of the wooden door, ready for adventure. Check the corridor – nothing special. Check the door – nothing special. I am sensing a pattern emerging…

With the corridor clear, it’s on to the next room. This is an antechamber, with a blue granite monument on a plinth marking the entrance to the tomb. Michifer decides the monument is evil, so attempts to destroy it with his mace, but barely scores enough damage to scratch it. So they check the various markings and make a decision where to go next – through the north door.

Yet another deadly corridor of the wooden door. Still, check the door and, nothing special. So they open the door, and see a room full of bones. Naturally, the characters enter, and up pops a Minotaur Skeleton. It’s a bit of a beastie, and it takes a few rounds to defeat, largely thanks to poor rolls by the fighters and Michifer the Cleric. It seems Roll20 might have a dry sense of irony, as the bad rolls seem to come after the characters try their hand at mightily epic one-liners before their swings. If there’s such thing as a look of bemusement on an expressionless, non-vocal, barely sentient, magically animated, bestial humanoid skeleton, I am pretty sure the creature would be giving it a go.

Finally, the skeleton collapses back into the bone pile, so the party decides to root around in the bones, because there might be treasure. So, guess what, as the party are busy looking, yet another Minotaur Skeleton arises, this time behind them, and the same routine begins. One-liners equal misses, and determined silence means solid blows. Not just any silence, mind you. Oh not, it has to be deliberate, according to Roll20…

Once the second skeleton drops, the party suspect that rooting through the bones for anything other than their thrown weaponry might be a bad idea, and opt to leave, closing not only the door to the room, but the door leading to the antechamber as well, once they make their way back through the deadly corridor of the wooden door.

Time to head south, and guess what? Another deadly corridor of the wooden door. I duly read out the descriptive text once again, and the party checks the door – nothing special. Is this getting routine? I certainly hope so, as we skip on to the next room…

Another room, like the last, full of bones. However, there’s a strange shimmering by the east wall. So this time, Thordar the Dwarf Fighter, who’s apparently VERY Scottish (yer bastad!) according to Ouro, steps forward to look at the shimmer, only to be attacked by a Gelatinous Cube, amongst the deadliest of desserts. Luckily, the attack misses the Dwarf, and combat begins properly.

Thaddeus has a bright idea – he’s going to light a flask of oil and throw it at the strange creature facing them. With that, suddenly the Gelatinous Cube is covered in oil and on fire. Of course, being a barely sentient Ooze, the creature doesn’t react to the flames, and is that little bit more deadly, but is slowly melting through the combat with a sickly sweet oily smell. Thordar takes a flaming slap to the face, but manages to resist the Gelatinous Cube’s paralysis, but is not so lucky with the burns to his skin, and his pride. Singed beard syndrome sets in, but not before Thaddeus finishes of the creature with a magic missile, causing it to melt into a pile of flaming goop on the floor.

Behind the creature’s flaming remains, a narrow passage heading east is revealed. Of course, between the highly combustable slime and the flask of oil, the fire is going to burn for a while. Do the party decide to put it out? Of course not – that would be too smart for them! Instead, they decide the best thing to do is show of their agility by trying to recover what treasure they can from the puddle of flames.

Thordar goes first, because Dwarves are known for their agility, and he promptly falls over face first into the flaming slime. Luckily, what remains of his facial hair doesn’t catch fire, but he still takes a point of fire damage, and an indescribable amount of dignity loss.

Elanna decides to give it a go. After all, she’s highly agile, even if she’s only a fighter, that’s got to put her in a good position for such a stunt, right? Wrong! Roll20 brings a natural one, to demonstrate that prideth does indeed cometh before a fall, as Elanna trips over a slimy Thordar, goes arse over tit, as the saying goes, and also faceplants herself in the flaming goop. Worse, she fails to prevent her hair catching fire. That’s going to leave a mark, if only on what remains of her dignity.

I have to take pity of the party as we are all in stitches at this dignity TPK – we haven’t laughed this much since Dent got green slimed back in Zanzer’s Dungeon. So, as Elanna puts her flaming hair out, I let Thordar finally recover the treasure, and then the party retreats back to the antechamber to rest up ready for next session. What did they get? In the end, it was 20 gold coins, a jewelled dagger, and a vial that they suspect is a potion of healing. Shame it’s not a potion of restore dignity…

Meanwhile, let’s hope that these shenanigans haven’t alerted any denizens in the dungeon. There’s rumours of kobolds nearby, and they would most definitely have seen the flaming jello in the dark… (Hint: It totally did, so looks like the party might be in for a few rough encounters in the near future!)

Ouro for Ouro’s Sake

Normally, I would discuss what is going on in the game, maybe what I am planning to come up next, but I wanted to take a break from all that for this week, as I really wanted to give a shout out to one of my players and long-time friends.

Ouro (short for Ouroboros I), as been a good friend to me for many years online, and we have played many games together. We first met back in 2000, when we both took an active part in the development of the Unofficial Legend of Zelda Roleplaying Game. A friendship quickly grew from our shared passions and crazy projects in all things geeky. This was why Ouro was my go to when I started up DVOID Systems. This short-lived professional venture helped us expand our creative juices, but demonstrated that we really weren’t cut out for business.

Nevertheless, my long-time online friendship with Ouro would be fairly constant in my life, and it was no surprise that I would talk about him with the other important people in my life, who weren’t online. This inevitably included my partner, Sian, whom I have not only been with for five years, but have also known for twenty years as well. It’s strange to think of how many of my friends know Ouro, but only as Ouro…

This game came about because I really wanted to run a game, and after various failed attempts at games online in the past, for various reasons, only Ouro and Sian were reliable and willing enough to take part. A game with two players can cause issues, some of which I have discussed over these posts, but with their help and willingness, we have been playing for over a year now (despite interruptions), and they have taken on several roles through several adventures.

A key feature to these games, and the recaps we have afterwards, is Ouro himself. Ouro likes to draw, and has a number of artistic projects on the go on places like DeviantArt. Over time, and with some slight encouragement from myself, he has established his own comic-book style in his work. He draws for fun, and this is seen in his artwork.

During this campaign, Ouro has taken to drawing aspects of our game, as he is inspired. Sometimes it might be a funny scene, others it might be a new take on a player character or monster. No matter what, it seems like even the roughest of Ouro’s sketches gets murmurs of appreciation from Sian and myself, as it adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the whole gaming experience.

It’s because of this, that I would like to give a shout out to Ouro and his artwork here. I have a folder of his art, and often use it on this blog, especially during session recaps. You can find more of his work here at DeviantArt.

In the meantime, thank you Ouro for your fun, support, and artwork, and I hope that 2020 will bring you even more happiness and friendship. May we game together for many further years to come!

We’re Off on an Minotaur Hunt – Wrath of the Minotaur Session 1

Following a brief hiatus to resolve some technical issues (new headsets, yeay!) with our game, the intrepid explorers of the Ruined Tower finally returned the the Patriarch to see if the books they brought back contained any important information.

The Patrician welcomed them in with enthusiasm, as his study was covered in all sorts of papers, maps, and other books and scrolls. The Patriarch seemed to have had a busy few days, but was extremely excited to announce that he had made a major breakthrough with his research into the history of the Vale.

The Patriarch gave the group a brief history of the Vale, detailing the role of Alaxus, the fabled Minotaur Mage that once ruled the region. He was called the Minotaur Mage, not because he was a Minotaur himself, but rather he used his magics to enslave Minotaurs as his servitors and enforcers. The Minotaur Mage used a bull’s head for his symbol, and this was the symbol that was found on the Ruined Tower, one of the Minotaur Mage’s many towers that once helped him control this region.

The Patriarch quickly revealed why he called for the heroes once again. It turns out that thanks to their exploration of the Ruined Tower and recovery of valuable books and scrolls, the Patriarch had finally discovered the location of Alaxus’ Tomb, hidden in the east of the Vale. It was rumoured to be the final resting of the famous mage, with his followers having spirited him away after a conclusive battle with a long forgotten hero that ended the Minotaur Mage’s reign over the Vale. Thus, the party’s goal was simple, they were to find and explore the Tomb, and report back with anything they find.

The New Guys

The Patriarch stated that he couldn’t spare any of the guards in town, but that a new bunch of adventures that he had been mentoring had just finished their training, and might be able to help them with your task. With that, Patriarch brought in and introduced Michifer, Sunblayze, Thordar, and Peregrine.

Michifer was a Cleric of the Church of the Holy Defender. A new initiate, he had been trained under the Patriarch directly as part of his studies. Peregrine was a Paladin of the Church of the Holy Defender, a new recruit to the military order of the church, who had also been trained under the Patriarch with regards to his holy duties. Sunblayze, an Elf maiden, was a Spellsword who had recently finished her apprenticeship with the Patriarch. Finally, there was Thordar – a Dwarf who had been apprenticing under the town guard of Haven.

The Patriarch suggested that the group pool their resources and prepare for an expedition to the Tomb of Alaxus. However, as a precaution, he suggested that a contingent of the party remained behind to help protect Haven should anything arise. The dangers of the Vale seemed to be increasing in recent days, and whilst the guard could protect the town, they would be unsuitable for protecting the rest of the region.

With this, the group departed the Patriarch’s study  with the new recruits, and prepared for their expedition. Between them, it was decided that Elanna and Thaddeus would explore the tomb with Michifer and Thordar, whilst Darkblade, Niles, Sunblayze, and Peregrine would remain behind to protect Haven and the Vale. The neccessary supplies were bought, including a mule to carry any treasure recovered from the Tomb.

When the adventurers were ready, including having named their Mule, which Thordar decided to call “Berliner” for some reason, the party of Elanna, Thaddeus, Michifer, and Thordar set off with their map to the location of the Tomb of Alaxus. The journey took three uneventful days following a stream up into the mountains to the east of the Vale.

Finding the Tomb of Alaxus

They arrived on the supposed site of the Tomb early in the morning, and entered a clearing besides a large cave in the mountainside. The cave served as a local camping site for travelling shepherds in the Vale, who would often travel with their flocks across the mountains to richer meadows for grazing in the north of the valley.

The party came across one such shepherd that morning, who had just broken up camp in the cave, and was about to release his goats from a makeshift pen formed from an improvised barricade of branches and bushes placed in the back of the cave. Wary at first, the shepherd pointed a loaded crossbow at the party, inquiring as to what they were doing there. The party quickly defused the situation, revealing that they were looking for Alaxus’ Tomb.

The shepherd introduced himself as Macques (pronounced “Max”), and stated that he wasn’t interested in such nonsense, as he was focused on protecting his herd from the Kobolds seen in the region. However, having been satisfied that the party had no intention of robbing him, Macques asked the party to assist him in taking down the barricade, and after they did so, the shepherd left with his flock.

Alone in the cave, the party explored the area. Although the cave seemed empty, Thordar quickly spotted a depression in the back wall, which was revealed to be the symbol of a bull’s head once the moss was cleared up. Two bluer pieces of granite made up the eyes, and when they were pressed, the entire slab moved upwards… about three inches. There was a dark passageway beyond, and with a concerted effort, the party forced the door the rest of the way to gain access to what was presumably the Tomb of Alaxus.

The party decided to make final preparations, including replacing the makeshift barricade across the back of the cavern behind them, so as to hide the new entrance from casual discovery, and to serve as a form of protection for Berliner. The passageway went forwards about thirty feet, up to wooden door ahead of them. Thaddeus lit a torch, having learnt from the Ruined Tower, as the party braved themselves to press ahead… next session.

Note: The shopping expedition actually took most of the session, but I have skipped it for the recap, since I am not sure how fun it would be to read. It was enjoyable, as my players considered what they might need for an expedition into the Tomb of Alaxus. I explained that preparing for an expedition like this was an often overlooked part of the game, and that many of the more “old school” adventures would feature the players preparing to explore such sites in this way.