Thursday, October 30, 2014

Frimmsreach Episode #29



Game Date: 10-27-14
Cast: Sparruu, Frothgar, Argus, Azmooth
Supporting Cast: Quilliam

Sparruu leads them to the chest. But alas, though the four black and red robes remain, along with the statue of a worm-faced demon, the sacrificial knives are missing!

Curious. What’s that weird sound…like whispering?

The Deep Mother moves upon you…”

Frothgar prays to Frimm for vision and peers around the place. An evil figure floats above the ground! What apparition is this?

The figure zooms across the room. Argus tries to tackle it and fails. Azmooth hurls a dagger, missing. Her dagger sticks into the opposite wall and then comes zooming back. Magic!

All heroes assault the creature as it pulls out one of the wicked knives and throws it. Argus summons the power of his newfound sword, the blade called Haverok, and cleaves the ghostly thing in two. It’s hiss and howl dissipate into thin air.

But more apparitions remain. Down in Bjarn’s cellar…where the foulness of the stinking creatures remains – creatures Azmooth called “nobberlochs”. Two more spectres are joined in battle and once again Haverok comes to bear, cleaving one in two. The third spectre is promptly dealt with as well. Is there yet another down in the darkness? Four cloaks and four spectres?

End of Episode #29

Frimmsreach Episode #28



Game Date: 10-20-14
Cast: Sparruu, Frothgar, Argus, Azmooth
Supporting Cast: Quilliam, Gul’Daryh

The toll of the battle is high, most of the villagers are dead or fled. Over the course of several days Frothgar and Sparruu help with holy rites, healing and other Clerical matters. Hunters and fishers trickle in from other areas to help or, in some cases, to leech off the remains.

Gul’Daryh takes it upon himself to step into the role of sheriff for the poor local sheriff was killed. He also plans to restore the temple on the lake as a shrine to the elemental gods. His path of adventure with the party has come to an end, for now.

Quilliam, having come so close to death, holes up in Bjarn’s old place to study his books and improve his craft.

Among the newcomers to the village are some seedy hunters. Frothgar prays to Frimm for the vision to see evil and is able to stroll about the village, noticing those folks who may be up to no good. He notes one in particular, a surly hunter named Luud who has been eyeing the impressive sword Argus took from Urk-Kak the Swine. He and Argus have a mutual dislike, though Luud attempts to play nice with a thin veneer of courtesy.

Frothgar meets with Krakster Farznickle, the dwarven general. Krakster says
The hammer that fell into the pit…it was not other than Thrumbok! The very hammer of the north! With that hammer in our hands we could deal a deadly blow to the wicked norg who stole our city so long ago. But I cannot go after it. There is much to do…might you and your capable friends do this deed?”

Frothgar is eager to go after the mighty artifact. But can he convince the others?

Meanwhile a new face in town…she appears at the south end and has a short exchange with the hunter Frimlod, who is on watch. It is Azmooth, a wilderness-ready woman from a bit to the south. Her daggers and bow mark her as an adventurer or hunter of some kind.

And it turns out she knows Quilliam…perhaps intimately?

Soon the crew is sitting in the common room having a biscut and drinking bark brew. The food is not the same without Edda’s hand in the bowl, Frimm rest her soul.

Sparruu enters, a bit addled. He has discovered something in Bjarn’s place. A locked and trapped chest bearing accoutrements of cultish design. Could Bjarn have been in on the Shrine of Worms? It seems unlikely.

Plans are discussed. To go once more into the Shrine of Worms in search of Thrumbok, the dwarf hammer? It is to be seen. First, a quick trip to Bjarn’s place to see what sort of supplies may be acquired…and to check out those cultish accoutrements.

End of Episode #28

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Hyperactive World Builders Beware

A note to the world-builder DM.

Hey DM...nobody cares about your lovingly crafted, delicately balanced, softly nuanced epic fantasy realm and quasi-Tolkienian meta-story. They mostly just want to find treasure, throw fireballs, and behead some orcs. This may be a bitter pill to swallow, I know. But if you want players at your table you need to choke it down.

I remember an incident in the 90s when I gathered about 5 or 6 good old gamers under one roof to play. It had been several years since I played and I was excited. I was so excited I spent the previous weeks prepping an elaborate setting. This culminated with me handing each player a little packet of information about the world. I figured they would read it at the table, then create a PC that fit MY world.

The game never got played. The handouts never got read. The characters never got made. I suppose I realized my mistake when I handed one player the little packet of my mini-epic and she smiled, rolled it up, and began socializing.


It's a common problem. You might call it the Seminar Yawner Syndrome. The players, upon being handed a stapled packet, feel like they just walked into a seminar. Cue the desire to look at a clock and wonder when it will be over.

This problem has other manifestations as well. What about the Storyteller Syndrome? When I was younger I had a DM who loved to weave tales...about his own character. This got so bad that one of the last sessions we ever played involved his own character caught up in a fantastic trial with emotional moments, heroic struggles, and a trapped audience. We rolled no dice and made no important choices that night. And it sucked.

That's not to say you can't weave tales and offer handouts. Quite the contrary. Players appreciate long as the investment of their time and energy is accompanied by a payoff in play. Nobody wants to read about the history of the kings of your version of France unless it is going to have an immediate and visceral impact on their play experience. So do yourself a favor and don't force it upon them!

If you want players to come back they gotta have fun. And "fun", subjective as it is, involves agency. Choice. Involvement in what's happening at the table. That kinda stuff. If the game isn't about the PCs then the game isn't about ANYTHING THAT MATTERS. Your epic setting be damned, these people want to behead some orcs.

So you better damn well let them. The world builder in you needs to cut back on the energy drinks and allow itself to become a partner in the creative act of shared storytelling, dice rolling, and the beheading of evil things. Consider it a give-and-take. You get to create a world as long as you are willing to share some of that creative space with your players. If you don't let them in they will simply walk away.

At that point you might as well just write fiction.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Frimmsreach Episode #27



Game Date: 10-13-14
Cast: Sparruu, Gul’Daryh, Frothgar, Argus
Supporting Cast: Quilliam, Skat

With stinking monsters crawling forth and several of our heroes puking their brains out as a result the team is on the retreat. Grabbing the surviving dwarves, including the stunned Killminster (now freed from his control with the death of Ayall’Nyar). But Skat is not in good shape. The stench and foulness has poisoned him. In a moment of courage he screams “Run!” while taking on the approaching horde with his glowing green dagger.

The heroes do not see Skat’s fate…the green glow disappears in a wave of monsters. Surely the intrepid scoundrel perished! Brave soul.

The team notices that one elf survived. She rushes toward the exit but disappears. Secret door! With the help of Killminster the door is quickly opened and the team slips into another hallway, closely pursued by stinking monsters with wormy mouths.

They find themselves in a weird torture chamber with a dry basin that once held liquid. Bones are scattered across its bottom. But the fleeing elf has ran ahead and Killminster spurs them on. “There is a battle raging on the surface!” He cries. The orcs are attacking the village of Frostmyr! Perhaps to draw attention away from the ritual?

Frothgar dons his magic boots that make him run like lightning. He chases the elf down, striking at her. But she is wily and quick and narrowly dodges each swing of the axe. Argus drops his own axe and runs like a wild beast, leaping for the fleeing elf. But no dice! She’s just too fast! And now she goes invisible…

As she flees past Frothgar she stabs the dwarven Cleric, revealing her position. The heroes descend upon her and soon the elf is dead.

Quilliam takes her leather armor of red and black, which seems to have a magical charm. She is found to possess a skull filled with poison, which Frothgar destroys (nearly killing himself!). And Quilliam takes the elf’s cutlass, which Argus is certain radiates strange vibes.

Onward! The long corridor leads to the cellar of Bjarn in the village of Frostmyr. Down here the smell of nasty, foul monsters is also present. The door is blocked and the team goes out into the snow…and battle.

The village is in the clutches of a great fight! Dozens of orcs and dwarves go at each other. Villagers are fallen. A giant, sabertooth ogre rages! Ur-Kak the Swine, leader of the orcs, hacks dwarves left and right!

And a chair, on its own, is doing battle! What?!

The strange magic the villagers hinted at, that Blart warned again, has animated the chair and, possibly, other things. But no time to investigate.

Sparruu takes to the air and belches fire on the ogre and a few surrounding orcs. Quilliam unrolls a scroll he’s been carrying and reads the arcane words of Magic Missile, sending bolts of electric energy into the monster’s chest. It turns, angered, spewing froth! It charges the hapless wizard!

Argus, charging the ogre, is intercepted by Ur-Kak who lays into the barbarian with a mighty chopping blow from his broadsword. Badly injured, Argus turns to face this challenge.
Quilliam, fearing the 12' monster bearing down on him, reads another spell from his scroll, knowing that by doing so he cannot later copy it into his own spellbook. He immediately turns invisible!

Gul’Daryh leaps gracefully, plunging an arrow into the monster’s throat with his bare hands. And Quilliam, sneaking around without being seen, drives the saber into the ogre’s back…an act of fear and rage and desperation! Sparruu flies overhead and dives silently upon the beast, rending with his claws, sending a spray of blood into the snow. The beast’s death rattle sprays a mist of blood.

Frothgar, Killminster, and Argus face Ur-Kak. Argus tries valiantly to wrestle the orc chief to the ground but is too weakened from loss of blood. A blow from Killminster’s hammer and another from Frothgar’s axe are enough to send Ur-Kak to whatever darkness he calls gods.

There in the bloody snow Argus sees that the blade wielded by Ur-Kak is none other than Haverok, a barbarian blade of legend!

End of Episode #27

Frimmsreach Episode #26



Game Date: 10-06-14
Cast: Sparruu, Gul’Daryh, Frothgar, Argus
Supporting Cast: Quilliam, Skat, Silverchain

Orcs! And worse…the hunched, thick figures of drokk soldiers rushing toward the party. Argus engages the drokks with fearsome rage, slashing and hacking like a wild man! Quilliam carefully throws darts with deadly precision. Skat sneaks into the shadows to get a better view.

Gul’Daryh nocks an arrow, takes careful aim, and cringes at the sound of a breaking bowstring! No!

Frothgar prays to Frimm and several drokks are suddenly held in place, unable to move. Sparruu prays to Miana Musina who delivers similar justice to the foul beasts. And Quilliam works his arcane magic, sending a host of orcs to sleepytown.

As the battle progresses the party winds its way up each side of the stairs, flanking the cultists. The platform is flat and at its center is a hole into darkness. Kneeling at it are 5 dwarves in some sort of trance. Surrounding them are 5 elves in black and red robes chanting sinister words. The leader, Ayall’Nyar, carries a terrifying mace topped with a skull that has a spiked tongue dripping blood. Next to him stands Killminster Barrackbomb, dwarf ally! But he is possessed or controlled and bears a mighty hammer of obvious magical significance.

As the fighting continues the elf leader, arrogant, underestimates our heroes and, after slaying one of the kneeling dwarves, is cut down. He falls into darkness, taking the evil mace with him.

Now the smell of foulness rises from the pit. The strange, stinking creatures encountered earlier begin to crawl up from the darkness of the well!

Sparruu pulls out a tye-died bottle of liquid. A little something he’s been saving since the raid on the ganguth’s lair….a potion that transforms him into any creature he desires. Suddenly Sparruu disappears and in his place is a small red dragon! Testing the limits of his form, he breathes a blast of fire on the remaining cultists, frying several of them to ashes as well as catching some of the creatures trying to climb out of the well. The moment of fire reveals to everyone that from the well is crawling many, many nasty things.

Time to leave! But Gul’Daryh, Quilliam, Frothgar, and Silverchain are engaged with drokk guards. And now Silverchain, hit with a spear, falls into the pit. Everyone has taken a beating and depleted their arcane and divine resources.


End of Episode #26

Frimmsreach Episode #25



Game Date: 09-29-14
Cast: Sparruu, Gul’Daryh, Frothgar, Argus
Supporting Cast: Quilliam, Skat, Silverchain

The team is in an expansive natural cavern. The ceiling is frozen and icy while the floor is wet and rocky. It’s getting warmer down here…

Exploration reveals more small holes in the ceiling. Strange critters live there. Best not awaken them!

At the far end of the cavern is a gap in the floor. Ice on the wall, rock on the floor, and a draft. And sounds! Marching feet. There’s something down there. A bit of divine ice magic from Frothgar, servant of Frimm, and an opening is created wide enough to crawl through.

This leads them to rocky hall with stairs. One direction leads into darkness, the other down several flights of 15’ wide steps. Each flight is punctuated by flanking statues of snakes with the torsos of men. This bodes ill…

Carefully the team makes its way down. The intrepid sneaky gnomes figure out the traps. Spiked floors that can be disabled by tickling under the statue’s armpits. And so they go down, down to a set of double doors. On the other side can be heard sinister chanting.

Frothgar summons 4 dwarven spirits and Silverchain, drawing on power she didn’t know she had, summons a warrior spirit of the ancient world. The spirits open the door, sending darts flying left and right. But our heroes didn’t just fall off the turnip wagon…they were well out of harm’s way.

Through the doors is a great, tall chamber at least 200’ wide and deep. In the center is a massive black pit with 4 sets of stone steps leading up to its center where a raised platform sits atop a column of stone. On the platform are robed figures in black and red, chanting. But from either side of the door come cyclopean orc guards! Battle is joined…

End Episode #25

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mace of Blood

In last week's game the party assaulted a raised platform on which an evil ritual was taking place. During the fray the evil elf high priest was slain (cut in half, if I remember correctly) and fell into a bottomless pit...taking this mace with him.

Orgar N'gorg
Mace of Blood

This evil weapon was created to aid in the dark rituals of wicked deities and demons. When in the hands of a good-aligned person it functions as a normal mace but will burn the wielder’s hand, causing 1d4 hit points of damage per round. In the hands of a neutral user it is a normal mace. But in the hands of an evil user it functions as a +2 weapon with two daily powers. First, it allows its user to animate up to 8 HD of skeletons and command them to fight or do menial tasks. The skeletons collapse when destroyed or when 1d4 hours have passed. Second the mace may steal life on a successful hit of 18 or better, granting its wielder a number of hit points equal to the damage dealt. These temporary hit points go away in 1d10 rounds.

The weapon's primary function is its use in ritual. Upon command by an evil Cleric within the context of a prepared ritual the weapon's tongue will become a spike that can be driven into the neck of a living creature who fails to save vs. devices. The spike will drink all the blood of the victim in 1d4 rounds, killing it. The blood filling the mace's skull head can then be used to fulfill the requirements of the most vile ritual magic. The mace can hold the blood of up to 13 human-sized victims.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Frimmsreach Episode #24

Episode #24

Game Date: 09-22-14
Cast: Sparruu, Gul’Daryh, Frothgar, Argus
Supporting Cast: Quilliam, Skat, Silverchain

Ice crawl! The team explores a subterranean (or sub-lake?) labyrinth of steep sloping icy tunnels and icicle hazards in an attempt to make their way down, down, down to where they hope to find the evil Shrine of Worms.

Soon a stench so foul, so disgusting, fills the air! So bad it makes poor Skat vomit! And the source? Creepy, disgusting humanoids with worms for mouths. Sparruu, remember the words of Blart regarding his red dragon dagger, holds the blade forth and issues the command. From his belly grows a burning fire. Sparruu opens his mouth and breathes a cone of blistering flame, reducing the creatures to ash!

Heartburn and hot lips.

The tunnels are steep and slick and Argus takes a plunge. But Quilliam, resourceful mage that he is, has a feather fall up his sleeve. The team falls ever so slowly down the narrow ice passage to the floor of a vast, wet cavern.

What horrors await?

End of Episode #24

Frimmsreach Episode #23

Episode #23

Game Date: 09-15-14
Cast: Sparruu, Gul’Daryh, Frothgar, Argus
Supporting Cast: Quilliam, Skat

While walking back to the village Quilliam studies the journal more closely.

In the village is a gathering of people arguing about preparations for a possible orc threat. The villagers have brought out various odd, magic items that seem to be randomly occurring in the area…talking dolls, singing spoons, and chairs that can fight. But the words of Blart and the event with Bjorn cause great concern among the heroes. These “magic items” are no good!

A bit of Miana Musina’s charm convinces many villagers that they need to go on a wide march around the village area, a ruse to get them out of the village in case all hell breaks loose.

The adventurers decide to investigate the island at the center of the lake, which seems to be at the heart of all this trouble. Suiting up with some snow shoes, oil, and other goodies they head out.

The island is oddly formed, as if it were growing up from the lake like some kind of frozen plant. Silverchain, who to this point has said little about her experiences in the Ice Forest, summons a spirit warrior…a powerful spear-wielding ghost hovering above the ice. Could this be clerical magic? Is Silverchain now a priestess of some ancient goddess?

The spirit warrior, being asked to guide them, reveals a 3’ diameter stone door under the ice at the island’s heart. Argus puts his mighty muscles behind it and opens the door to reveal a well-like tunnel leading straight down into darkness. Sparruu suggests tying ropes together and climbing down. He and Skat begin the process.

But before the team can begin the descent they become aware of approaching danger…8 lurching, hunched forms running at great speed across the icy lake. Bestial forms, all mouth and teeth and thick manes, dragging great maces and axes…running towards the island! Drokks, as Quilliam surmises. Savage mercenaries and assassins. No time for negotiations. The arrows fly and the battle is joined. Axe and mace, arrow and magic, furious combat!

But these are no mere cyclopean orcs. The creatures are skilled at battle, quick, with thick, tough, furry hides and knotted muscles. And they hit hard. The barbarian takes several blows, nearly dropping from the onslaught. Seeing that the party’s chances of victory are slim, Sparruu suggest a retreat…down the hole.

And so he goes, followed by the others one-by-one as Argus tries to hold off the beasts in an apparent suicide mission. Quilliam pulls at Argus uselessly to get him to leap into the hole as he works his magic, creating a feather fall on the whole party.

Argus, seeing the means to retreat and the necessity, leaps in…slowed by the feather spell, pulling the lid onto the opening behind him. The entire group float peacefully down 150’ to a stony, cold floor in the darkness…

End of Episode #23

Red Dragon Dagger

Dagger, Red Dragon: This +1 ruby pommeled dagger grants its user the ability to breathe a 20’ long, 10’ wide cone of fire, like a red dragon, once per day. The damage is equal to the user’s current hit points (targets can save for half).