Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pathfinder RPG: Session 13 - Betrayal in the Dungeon under the Old Light

Lexi, Elven Rogue (played by Jojo, 10yo)
Sharpblade, Skeleton (Human) Fighter (played by Evan, 7yo)

Evan starts off this session by asking, “That skeleton fire priest we just destroyed? Does it still have its robe?”

I reply affirmatively, and the kids immediately start arguing over who should take the robe and put it on. In the end, Evan actually makes a very good point that he’s a skeleton, and one skeleton pretty much looks like another, and so Sharpblade should wear the priest robe and act like a skeleton fire priest.

“I’ll also take the wand,” he says while Jojo pouts next to him. “Is it still blazing?”

“Nope,” I reply. “It looks like whatever the amulet said, it disarmed it completely.”

We had discussed at the end of the last session over what the name of the talking amulet should be. I said that it had to be a very long and complicated name. After numerous suggestions, we finally decide to call it ‘Fred’, which was short for some long complicated name that nobody can pronounce.

According to Fred, all the fire wands that the fire priests use had a disarm command phrase, and the one he had just used loosely translated to ‘Don’t burn the pancakes’.

The iron grate room proved no issue for the adventurers passing through. Once across the tricky grate floor, the adventurers pass through the iron door on the other side, and up the short corridor into the funnel chamber. Fire beetles still swarm the chamber, and the Iron Hammer laughs at the sight. “I’ve never seen so many in one place!”

Back here again in the Funnel Room
“Yeap, well you wanted that glowing ore? It’s right there inside that pit in the middle of the room,” says Jojo.

“Do we see the Animated Statue?” asks Evan.

I shake my head. “You look around, but you don’t see it anywhere.”

The three adventurers make their way cautiously to the pit. “You guys make it to the center of the room, just as you see something disturb the fire beetles in corner of the room.”

“Uh oh,” says Jojo.

The Animated Statue strides towards them, and stops in front of Sharpblade. It peers at the skeleton in the fire priest robes, and then demands in a grating voice, “Brzzachk-amu-gazzk?”

“Uh, Iron Hammer? What did he say?” asks Jojo.

The Iron Hammer coughs uneasily, “I’m, ah.. not sure. I only know a few words of the old language, and this is only vaguely similar.” He is startled when Fred the amulet speaks up. “He wants to know who are these people with you.”

“When Fred talks, can I make it look like I’m talking?” asks Evan.


“Then I get Fred to say that these are my servants.”

The Animated Statue considers this, and then nods and backs away.

“Phew!” says Jojo. “I thought we were going to have to run around and distract the statue while Iron Hammer gets his ore!”

The Iron Hammer grins. “Well, that was easy!” He eagerly drops into the pit, and the kids can hear him exclaiming at the sight of the ore. “I’ll just pick out a few chunks,” he calls out.

The Animated Statue tilts its head and asks another question. “He wants to know if you are here to replace the power stones,” translates Fred.

“Tell him yes,” say the kids.

Fred relays it to the statue which replies its grating voice. “He says that he and his three brothers have been waiting a long time for someone to come and replace those stones.”

“THREE brothers?” asks Evan amazed.

“Apparently, there were four Animated Statues once guarding this room. But this statue says that he hasn’t heard from his brothers in a long time. They were probably on the side of the room that has caved in.” I tell the kids, “Then the Animated Statue says something, and Fred, sounding very surprised, replies back with a question of his own. They both converse with each other back and forth.”

“Wait, what?” asks Jojo. “What’s going on? Fred, what’s he saying?”

“Oh,” says Fred, sounding a bit worried. “The statue just told me that we came just in time to replace those power stones because they are quite unstable. In fact, they could explode at any minute!”


“Just a minute!” calls out the dwarf below. “I’m almost done!” The kids are practically hopping until I say that the Iron Hammer finally climbs back out of the pit. “The Iron Hammer hefts his backpack behind him. He doesn’t notice this but you can see smoke coming out of his pack!”

Evan says, “I tell the Animated Statue to grab the dwarf and hold him upside down!”

“What’s the big rush- HEY!” The Iron Hammer is lifted up by the Animated Statue, and held upside down by his legs. “What are you guys doing!?” His backpack opens up, and the whole variety of things come toppling out; tools, torches, a change of underwear, and chunks of glowing ore.

“One glowing chunk lands on the ground, and it is vibrating madly! Smoke is coming out of it!”

“Uh oh,” says Jojo.

I look expectantly at the kids, but they just look blankly back at me. “What? You’re going to just stand there next to this thing that’s going to explode?”

“Kick it into the pit!” Sharpblade kicks the ore chunk into the pit.

“Immediately, an explosion rocks the bottom of the pit! The whole place shudders, and the room starts tremoring! I think it’s time to get out of here!”

The adventurers rush towards the room entrance, followed by the Animated Statue which is still holding a struggling Iron Hammer upside down in its grasp. I say, “Bits of rubble crash down from the ceiling. It looks like the rest of this room is about to be buried under tonnes of rock!”

“But what about the statue?” exclaims Jojo. “He’s too big to get through the door!”

“I tell him to smash his way out,” suggests Evan.

At this point, I realise that the kids want to TAKE the Animated Statue with them. Visions of them roving Sandpoint and the surrounding country-side with a huge Animated Statue lumbering alongside them set off alarm bells in my head. I know what my Chaotic Neutral kids were capable of. “The Animated Statue speaks, and Fred translates that it and its brothers were built to protect this room, and cannot leave under any circumstance.”

The kids are disappointed and are quite vocal about it, but I manage to distract them by saying, “Just as you reach the iron grate room, you see people standing at the iron door on the other side! It’s those three dragon parade dwarves! One of them lifts up his hammer and says, “So long, suckers!”, and smashes his hammer down on the iron grate floor! The other dwarves follow suit, and soon, half of the floor gives way and splashes into the murky waters! The dwarves laugh and leave through their door.”

Evan is shocked. “Why did they do that?”

“Because they REALLY want to kill me,” mutters Jojo. They retreat back into the funnel room which is still tremoring. “Ask Fred if there is another way out.”

The amulet answers, “There are two entrances into this room, but the other one is likely under all that rubble on the other side. However, the Fire beetles in this room reminds me that there used to be a Fire Beetle breeding room somewhere nearby. We used to breed them for cheap lighting, you know. Anyway, if these beetles are in here, then that means they must have found a way in from their breeding room.”

The adventurers survey the room, and then the Iron Hammer (who the statue has put down by now) points to a vent near the ceiling. “Look there! There are fire beetles going through that vent!” The vent is quite high to climb, and I was all set to get the kids to make some Climb checks, but the adventurers get the Animated Statue to give them a lift up instead.

The adventurers crawl into the vent and behind them, they can hear a big crash as the rest of the ceiling buries the rest of the funnel room. Crawling onwards, they eventually reach a crack breaching the side of the vent tunnel. The Iron Hammer points, “Look! There’s sunlight through that crack!” They all squeeze through the crack, and push their way upwards towards the light.

“You finally emerge into a dirty, garbage-filled alleyway. The Iron Hammer pulls himself out, angrily brushes the dirt off himself, and growls ‘Alright, let’s go find those dwarves and bash their heads in!’”

Adventure Notes:
We had a lot of dialogue this session, but not very many dice rolls. Role-play, as opposed to Roll-play, I suppose.

Honestly, it wouldn’t have mattered who wore the robe - the Animated Statue would have recognised either the robe or the talking amulet. After this session, I did have some second thoughts about letting the kids leave the Animated Statue behind. It’s a good plot device, and the kids were somewhat emotionally attached to it. Perhaps a lead-in to a future adventure.

Plot hooks: Traitorous dragon parade dwarves

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pathfinder RPG: Session 12 - Fire Priests

Lexi, Elven Rogue (played by Jojo, 10yo)
Sharpblade, Skeleton (Human) Fighter (played by Evan, 7yo)

Early the next morning, the adventurers follow the Iron Hammer to the Temple of Sarenrae, where they are to meet the rest of the party going down under the Old Light to deal with the skeletons. “You all arrive at the Temple, and are immediately ushered into a large hall where there are several people already waiting for you.”

The Temple has assigned three clerics into this mission. “The first is an old man with a long white beard. He is sitting on a bench, and it looks like he’s having a snooze. The second is a young girl with dark hair, and although she’s young, she’s apparently been on a few missions before. The third is a young thin man who is bragging to everyone about how well he has done in his recent training. This is his first mission.”

As usual, I poll the kids for some good names, and eventually the old man is named Snoozy Bob, the young girl Clara, and the thin man Felix. Snoozy Bob has a tendency to get some shut-eye at any opportunity. Clara is painfully timid, and speaks with a soft, hesitant voice. And Felix? Well, let’s just say that Felix seems to talk more about great deeds rather than actually doing them.

“You also see that there are three other adventurers hired by the Temple to protect these clerics. They glance up when you guys come in, and you see that these other guys are dwarves.” I look at Jojo. “You recognise these dwarves! These are some of the same dwarves from the Festival of Sarenrae! You know, the ones whose iron dragon you sabotaged?”

“Ooooh no,” moans Jojo as she covers her eyes. “I’m sooo dead!”

One of the dwarves stares suspiciously at Lexi and then comes closer. “You!” he says, stabbing an angry finger at Lexi. “Haven’t I seen you before?”

“Who me?” replies Lexi, feigning innocence while looking at the dwarf up and down. Or more like, down and down. “Nope, I’ve never seen you before.”

I get Jojo to roll a Bluff check, and she rolls an 18. “Hmm. that’s pretty good. The dwarf is still staring at you with his finger out, but he looks uncertain. Then the Iron Hammer steps in between you both and booms, ‘These are my friends, and are most certainly trustworthy. If you have a problem with any of them, you’ll have to deal with me first.’ He glares pointedly at the dwarf who eventually slinks away back to his two other companions.”

“Close one,” says Evan. Meanwhile, Clara the timid cleric comes up to Sharpblade to ask him something. Jojo opts to role-play her voice, so I get her to blurt in small voice, “Um.. are you, uh.. a real skeleton?”

Evan retorts, “What me!? What do you think, huh!? Can a real skeleton talk like this, huh!? Or do this!?” He starts doing the robot dance while going, “I. Am. A. Skeleton. I. Am. A. Skeleton.”

I. Am. A. Skeleton.
Clara bursts into tears, and Lexi puts an arm around the little cleric to console her. “I.. I.. just wanted to know.. if he was.. Evil.”

“There, there,” says the elven rogue soothingly.

The little cleric sniffs. “Because if he was, I would have.. destroyed him.”

Lexi nods understandingly, and glares at Sharpblade.

Eventually, the group leaves the Temple of Sarenrae and heads towards the Old Light. The City Guards have replaced the wooden hatch with an iron-bound trap-door, and it takes two guards to turn a pulley system that lifts the heavy trap-door open. The kids decide that the Iron Hammer and Sharpblade should descend first to secure the area.

Sharpblade lands into the corridor, and draws out his warhammer with a fancy flourish. “The Iron Hammer lands next to you, and pulls out his hammer and does a fancier flourish than yours.” Not to be outdone, Sharpblade swings his hammer over his head and makes a few elaborate moves, and the Iron Hammer counters with a few showy moves of his own.

“What ARE they doing down there!?” queries Felix who is looking down the hole, while Lexi rolls her eyes.

Soon enough, the whole group is in the corridor and given that only Lexi and Sharpblade have been here before, it falls on them to lead the way. Jojo immediately jumps at the opportunity to play 'tour guide', and gives out a commentary as the group proceeds up the corridor. “Over here, you’ll notice that the corridor is curved, like part of a big circle. And here, we have the iron door which leads to an iron grate room. Don’t go in there, because there’s a Gray Ooze trapped inside.” Clara gives out a small scream at this, and jumps a few feet away from the door.

“You all travel up the corridor, and soon come to a large room.” I draw a half circular room on paper. “It is very dark in here, and the clerics say that they can sense undead evil in the room. The corridor continues up another exit on the other side of this room, but it’s blocked by rubble.”

The kids wisely decide to throw a lit torch into the room. “The torch falls into the center of the room… and keeps falling! There’s a big yawning pit in the middle of this room, and you don’t even see the bottom of it! All along the edges of the pit, you see a whole bunch of skeletons!” The undead creatures turn as one towards the adventurers and start advancing towards them.

“Okay, blast them, clerics!” says Jojo.

“Oh, the clerics need the skeletons to come closer. And you also notice that there is one less cleric in the group! Felix has disappeared!”

“What!?” exclaims the kids.

“Just great!” says Jojo. “Where did he go?”

“I think he fled back down the corridor,” I supply.

Meanwhile, the advancing skeletons clash into the dwarves in front. Behind the dwarves, Clara blasts the skeletons with her Channel Energy, and Snoozy Bob wakes up to slice three skeletons with a powerful beam before going back to sleep.

On Evan’s turn, he announces that he’ll step out towards the skeletons to see if they’ll attack him. “Maybe they’ll think I’m one of them!”

I roll the d20 several times, and say, “Amazingly, none of the skeletons near you attack, and completely ignore you!”

“Yes!” says Evan, pumping his fist.

“You also notice that most of the skeletons here are wearing the same sort of old armour as the ones you fought in the past mission. However, next to the edge of the pit, you see four other skeletons which are dressed differently. These ones are wearing long robes like a priest does. And the robes seem to have faded patterns of fire on them.”

“Hmm.. Fire Priests,” remarks Jojo, remembering what Puddlebug translated from the Animated Statue.

Evan thinks a bit, and then says, “I’m going to blast my Magic Missiles. At the ceiling above the skeleton priests!”

This was certainly unexpected, and I hadn’t thought about how stable the ceiling was. But given that the kids have seen several places where the ceiling had come down and blocked the way with rubble, it was an easy indication that the ceiling was fairly weak. I tell Evan, “If you can do at least 10 damage to the ceiling, you should be able to bring it down.”

Pit Room, with Sharpblade's Magic Missiles striking the ceiling
Sharpblade blasts his three Magic Missiles, and Evan rolls 3d4+3 to get a total damage of 11. “Your Magic Missiles hit the ceiling, and the whole ceiling starts of collapse on skeletons and adventurers in the room!” I get the kids to do some Reflex saving throws, and they both take some damage from falling rubble.

“The rubble crashes on top of the four skeleton fire priests! Two are buried under the rubble, while one tumbles wordlessly into the bottomless pit. Meanwhile, the last one survives the crashing rubble and advances towards where you guys are!”

This skeleton is holding a wooden wand that is blazing with fire on its tip. Evan declares that he is going to prostrate himself in front of the skeleton fire priest, as if in worship. I still roll the d20 though, and it comes up favourably. Lucky kid. “The skeleton fire priest walks right past you! It lifts its wand up, and a sheet of flame blasts the rest of the party! Dwarves are rolling on the ground on fire, and the clerics are frantically patting flames out of their robes!”

I get Jojo to do a Reflex saving throw, which she succeeds. “You take half fire damage! But ooo, it’s pretty bad - you’re down to 1 Hitpoint!”

“Tell everyone to run back down the corridor!” orders Jojo, and so the clerics and dwarves (pun alert) hotfoot it down the corridor. The skeleton priest lurches after them, its fire wand blazing.

“What about me?” asks Evan.

“Sharpblade is still prostrate on the ground. There are a few skeletons milling around, some missing arms and parts, but they are all ignoring you.”

The skeleton decides to crawl towards the rubble where the other two skeleton fire priests were buried. “Do I see any of them?”

“Well, you do see one. Or more like, half of one. Only the top portion of this skeleton remains, and it’s arms are gone.”

“How about its robe?”

“Well, that’s torn in half too.”

“Oh, come on!” Evan had plans to wear the robes himself.

Meanwhile, the rest of the adventurers are running down the corridor. “You reach the iron door, when you suddenly realise that the iron door which was open before is now closed!”

“I thought the door was busted down from last time,” points out Jojo.

Good point. “Um. It wasn’t really busted DOWN. Just busted open. And someone has hastily closed it again.” Nice back-flip, dad.

Lexi knocks on the door, and from the other side, they can hear Felix’s panicked voice, “Stay away!! Just go away!!”

Jojo rolls her eyes. “So much for the great cleric deeds!” Lexi turns to the rest of the adventurers. “Okay, we’re going to wait here for that skeleton to come up, and when it does, Clara and Snoozy Bob will blast it!”

Snoozy Bob raises a hand. “Oh, I might like to point out that Clara and myself have run out of Channel Energy blasts.”

“What!?” The elven rogue lets out an exasperated breath, and then turns to the iron door. “Felix! We need you to come out and blast a skeleton!”


Meanwhile, back at the pit room, Sharpblade is about to crawl away when a voice calls out to him, “Psst! Over here! Come over here!”

Evan is immediately intrigued. “Over where?”

“The skeleton! I’m on the skeleton!”

Sharpblade crawls back towards the skeleton, following the voice. “It seems to be coming from an amulet that is hanging around the skeleton’s neck! ‘Get me outta here!’ says the voice.”

Evan is a bit confused. “Out of where? The amulet?” Sharpblade picks up the amulet.

“Just get me outta this place!”

Evan looks at Jojo and shrugs. “How? Do I smash the amulet?”

“NO NO NO! I AM the amulet! Pleeease, get me out of this place!”

I ask Evan if he wants to put the amulet on, and he unhesitatingly says yes. The skeleton then gets up and makes his way back down the corridor.

Back at the iron door, Lexi tries coaxing the frightened cleric to open the door. “Look, think about how great everyone will say that you are when you blast that skeleton that’s coming down the corridor! They’ll all talk about how really awesome you are!”

I was going to get her to do a Diplomacy check, but after hearing her speech, I decide that a Bluff check was probably more appropriate. Jojo rolls and barely makes it. “Felix is still hesitant to open the door, but he eventually cracks it open and steps out. He makes some comment about people wasting their Channel Energy blasts. ‘Jerk!’ mutters someone. It might have been Clara.”

The adventurers ready themselves to face the skeleton fire priest coming down the corridor. I turn to Evan. “You see something ahead of you, lurching slowly forward with a blazing wand. It’s the fire priest with its back to you!”

Evan says, “I’m going to run up behind it, and kick it in the butt!” So Sharpblade strides towards the skeleton, and delivers a big kick which stumbles the skeleton forward. “The skeleton priest staggers forward, but manages to remain on its feet! It turns around, it’s skull snarling as it raises its wand toward Sharpblade!”

Just then, the amulet around Sharpblade’s neck speaks out in an unknown language, “Gazt-nomi-matzoo!”, and the wand loses its blaze! The skeleton fire priests tilts its skull as it inspects the now-dead wand.

“Now, Felix! Blast it!” calls out Lexi, and the thin cleric complies. Channel Energy blasts decimate the skeleton fire priest, and soon it is a pile of bones on the ground.

The adventurers all breath a sigh of relief. Felix is the first to speak, “And of course, that was my plan all along. To conserve my blasts for this. Yes, so I think it’s time we head back to the Temple and report.”

“But there are still a few more skeletons left,” points out Clara. “Shouldn’t we deal with them before we go?”

“Well, sorry, but we’re out of energy blasts,” replies Felix, as if to a small child. “How are we going to deal with them?”

Snoozy Bob coughs politely. “Well, we’ll just have to do it the old fashioned way.” He draws a small mace out from his robes, and charges up the corridor.

“Woo, go Snoozy Bob!” cheers Jojo.

The three dwarves look at each other, and then charge up with him. Clara gives Felix a look, and follows them, and eventually Felix goes too. “Notice that this conveniently leaves the Iron Hammer and you guys here at the iron door,” I mention to the kids.

The Iron Hammer turns to Lexi and Sharpblade and grins. “Looks like we can go get that ore now, eh?”

Adventure Notes:

I love being able to throw in some previously established characters and enemies at the players. Gives it a real campaign feel.

Evan really surprised me with that Magic Missile move to bring down the ceiling, which I thought was a great idea. Magic Missiles aren't really the best offensive magic one can get, and I loved seeing Evan try to use them creatively. 

I try to get in at least one fight in each session, and in this one, the kids were content to let the clerics and dwarves do the heavy-lifting. Not that they didn’t face some challenges of their own.

I think we spent more time laughing at each others antics in this session than anything. And if that doesn’t rock, I don’t know what does. :-)

Plot hooks: Strange talking amulet. Fire Priest skeletons.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pathfinder RPG: Session 11 - Looking for Trouble

The kids are keen to get back to Sandpoint to check if Puddlebug has managed to decipher what the Animated Statue was saying. So after returning the baby piglet to its mom, the adventurers make their way back to Sandpoint, guided by Shalelu. When they reach the town gates, the elven huntress tells them, “I’ll be picking up a few things before going after those pigs. And when I leave Sandpoint, I hope you both will accompany me.”

“Sure thing,” says Jojo. “Okay, dad, let’s go to Puddlebug to see if he’s worked out what that Animated Statue was saying.”

The adventurers stop over at Puddlebug’s shop, but unfortunately, the gnome is still working on it and tells them to come back later.

“Are there any special events going on in the city?” asks Evan. “Is there, like, a festival or something?”

“Ah,” I respond, thinking quickly. “There isn’t a festival going on right now. But you do hear that the townsfolk of Sandpoint are particularly excited because there is a... famous singer coming to town.”

“A singer?” asks Jojo.

“Yes,” I nod. “And there is going to be a major concert for this person. In fact, one of the interesting things about this person is that he was taught how to sing at a very famous conservatory, almost like a temple where people worship music. Of course, this person will be staying at the Rusty Dragon, and Ameiko the owner is proudly telling everyone that this singer might even give some free performances on some nights at her inn.”

I glance at the kids, but I can see that the plot hook is not catching. Jojo declares, “Well, I’m going to go walking in the forest until I find my animal companion.”

Oh well, I can always stash the plot hook for later. I ask Evan, “How about you? What are you going to do?”

“I’ll follow Jojo and walk around the forest. And look for trouble.”

And so the two adventurers walk out of Sandpoint into the nearby forest. “It’s almost evening when you guys leave town, so before long, night has fallen and you’re both walking around in the dark forest. It’s very likely you’ll encounter something in this forest at night.”

Something which I had no ideas for, so it’s time for some random encounters. I pull out the GM guide and turn to the Forest Monsters section. I roll the percentile dice and look up the result.

Looking for trouble, random encounter style.
A Wolf. Hmm. “Although it is quite dark, you spot some fresh tracks on the ground.” Jojo tries to identify the tracks, and I get her to do a Knowledge (Nature) check. “Ah, of course you recognise these tracks! You’ve seen them before loads of times! These are wolf tracks! Just one wolf though, which is strange. What’s a lone wolf doing out here so near to Sandpoint?” Hmm. Why indeed.

Excited at the prospect of taming (or killing, depending on whose perspective) a lone wolf, the adventurers follow the tracks. I get them to roll Perception checks, but both rolls come up dismally. “You follow the tracks, but it leads into a stream. You don’t manage to find where the wolf came out of the stream.” The kids groan collectively.

Oh well, that was somewhat exciting. I roll the percentile dice again and look up the Forest Monsters table. A Dire Rat. “But you do find a curious, muddy hole near the edge of the stream. It looks like a lair of some small animal about the size of a dog.”

Jojo decides to crawl in, followed by Evan. The tunnel is so narrow that the adventurers can barely crawl on their elbows and knees. “The muddy tunnel comes to an intersection. Which way are you going, left or right?”

“Right,” says Jojo, and Lexi crawls that way.

“Left,” says Evan, and Sharpblade complies.

Sigh, so easy to split them up. I turn to Evan first. “You soon find that the tunnel gets narrower and narrower until you’re pushing yourself forward using your shoulders. And then, the tunnel dips into a slide, and you suddenly find yourself slipping forwards! Before you know it, you’re sliding headfirst into a pit filled with smelly poop!”

Jojo laughs at Evan, but the boy is nonplussed. “Sharpblade can’t smell anyway with his skull.”

In the meantime, Lexi crawls up her tunnel until suddenly she comes face to face with a large dire rat! “The creature snarls when it sees you, and claws at your face!” The elf tries to defend herself, but the narrow tunnel proves to be a very tight space to stab a dagger, and she earns a nasty gash across her shoulder.

Rats. I hate rats.
Sharpblade manages to stand up in his smelly pit. “You look upwards, and can see moonlight coming through a hole in the ceiling!” The skeleton attempts to jump up, and (with a successful Acrobatics roll) manages to catch hold of a tree root sticking out near the hole in the ceiling. Sharpblade gradually pulls himself up through the hole. “As you poke your head out of the hole, you suddenly hear.. voices! And you see flickering firelight nearby too!”

Meanwhile, Lexi isn’t having much luck with her encounter with the dire rat. The nasty creature manages to bite her, and thankfully, Jojo makes her Fortitude save against disease. “I’m backing out of this tunnel before I catch some sickness!” declares Jojo, and the elf frantically starts to crawl backwards, pursued by the furious dire rat.

Sharpblade chances a peek out of the hole. “You see that you are actually poking your head out of a hollow tree stump.”

“That’s probably used as a toilet!” giggles Jojo.

“Perhaps. But anyway, you see a campfire.. no, you think it’s a campfire at first, but it’s actually a lantern being held by a person in a black robe and hood. He’s talking to… a goblin boss who is mounted on, guess what? A large wolf!”

I love it when a plot comes together.

The goblin boss growls to the hooded man, “You are late! You promised Black Fang a whole batch of potions by the next new moon, and still you no have it!”

“The potions take time to brew,” replies the hooded man.

“We gave you much gold,” snarls the goblin boss. “Black Fang no like waiting so long!”

The wolf suddenly lifts its head, sniffs the air, and gives a low growl. The goblin boss glances around and hisses, “Someone else here!”

“Of course, the wolf will smell him,” says Jojo. “Sharpblade is covered with poop!”

The goblin boss immediately gets his wolf to lie low, and is soon hidden in the bushes. The hooded man says, ““Tell Black Fang that he will have his potions soon enough.” before whispering a magic word, and vanishing completely.

“Cool,” says Jojo. “He’s some kind of wizard.”

Lexi manages to backtrack all the way out of the dire rat tunnel. The dire rat snarls at her, but does not come out of its tunnel to pursue her. “Well, I’m heading back to Sandpoint,” declares Jojo, and she makes her way up the stream.

I turn to Evan. “You can hear the sounds of footsteps coming closer. It sounds like someone coming up the stream towards where the goblin and his wolf are hidden!”

“I think that’s me!” says Jojo.

Evan ponders a bit, and then announces, “I’m going to jump out of my hole, and blast Jojo with my Magic Missles!”

If this was a comic, I’d have an exclamation mark above my head right about now. “You want to do what!? Why would you do that?”

“Because,” Evan replies. “I want to join them! That guy with the robe and hood looks evil!”

Jojo rolls her eyes as I attempt to reason with Evan, “Well, I don’t know if that’s a great idea. I mean, chances are, they’d want you to kill Lexi in order to prove that you’re one of them! And then Jojo will have to start all over again with a new character!”

Evan thinks this through a bit, and (probably because of his sister glaring at him) decides to change his action. So Sharpblade jumps out of the hollow tree stump, and blasts his three Magic Missles at the startled goblin boss and his wolf. The goblin boss recovers quickly. “This goblin boss is hefting a javelin like a lance! He attempts to pierce you with it.. but the sharp javelin head glances off your armour!” The wolf’s bite is more effective, chewing into the warrior’s leg.

Dire Rat Lair
Lexi comes running up the stream towards the two combatants, and attacks with her rapier, scoring a hit on the goblin boss. Evan says, “Can I grab the goblin boss off his wolf?”

I nod. “I suppose you’re close enough. You’ll have to make an unarmed attack with just your Strength bonus to see if you grab him, and another Strength check to see if you pull him off.” Evan succeeds in both rolls, and so Sharpblade lunges forward and grabs the increasingly surprised and enraged goblin boss off his mount.

Evan chortles. “Okay, I’m going to throw him into the hole!” I get him to do a ranged attack with his Dexterity bonus, but unfortunately, he rolls a 3. “The goblin boss is struggling too much for you to throw him! Instead, he manages to slip out of your grip, and falls on the ground!”

Jojo says, “I’m going to try to tame the wolf!”

I sigh. “I doubt you can tame it, but you do have that Wild Empathy class feature now, so I suppose at best, you can try to calm it down.” I hand Jojo the d20, and she rolls an 18. “Ooo, that’s pretty good. You manage to raise an open palm at the wolf and say some calming words to it. The wolf snarls at you, but you sense that it is more puzzled than anything over why you’ve not attacked it.”

The goblin boss pokes his javelin again at Sharpblade which glances off his armour. Evan  says, “He’s on the ground, right? I’m going to kick him into the hole!” One successful Dexterity roll later, the skeleton kicks the goblin like a football into the air. The yowling creature tumbles straight into the hollow tree trunk hole. “You hear a loud Splat! from the hole, and then sounds of angry dire rat snarls! It sounds like there are more dire rats down there!”

“Oooo!” wince the kids.

The wolf, upon seeing its rider thrown into the hole, snarls one more time at the adventurers, and then lopes off into the dark trees. Jojo states, “At least we freed it.”

Evan is keen to go find more bad guys to chuck into the dire rat hole, but a brief search turns out nothing more in the area. The adventurers decide to return to Sandpoint to check on Puddlebug again, and this time, the gnome is excited to see them. “Ahah! Good timing! I’ve got some good news for you!” He gestures to another person with him, “You might have met this friend of mine - the Iron Hammer!”

“Oh! He’s the dwarf you fought at the festival fighting contest!” says Jojo to Evan.

The Iron Hammer is back!
The Iron Hammer certainly remembers Sharpblade, and claps the skeleton on the back. “Oh ho! Well, met again!”

Puddlebug says, “The Iron Hammer has helped us with not just one thing, but two things! You know that underwater portal you told me that you both found? Well, I’ve just bought a very useful item from The Iron Hammer which you can use to explore the underwater ruins!” He hands Jojo something that looks like a water bottle.

Lexi takes it, “A water bottle? How’s this going to help?”

“Ah,” says the gnome brightly. “Try drinking from it.”

Lexi swigs from the bottle, and looks surprised. “There’s nothing in it but air!”

“Ahahah!” laughs Puddlebug. “Precisely! It’s got nothing but AIR! Ever-flowing AIR!”

It takes the kids a few moments to finally get it. Puddlebug explains that this is a magic bottle that produces fresh air, and that Lexi can use it to take a breath of air while underwater, thus allowing her to stay underwater for as long as she wants. “This is a precious artefact, but I’ll let you both have it on one condition! You must give me a share of whatever treasures you find down there!” The kids agree to the deal, and Jojo writes the Bottle of Air into her character sheet.

Useful item!
The next thing that Puddlebug tells them is that the Iron Hammer has helped him translate some of what the Animated Statue might have been saying. “Apparently, it seems similar to some ancient dwarven language. We couldn’t decipher the whole message, but it said something like, ‘Restricted area… Fire... Priests allowed.’”

“Hmm..” says Jojo thoughtfully.

The Iron Hammer claps Sharpblade on the back again. “Well,” he booms. “I’ve got another piece of news for you. The Temple of Sarenrae is putting together a group of clerics to go down under the Old Light and clear out those skeletons you all found. And I’ve been hired to accompany them to protect the clerics!” He leans close. “Puddlebug told me about the glowing ore you found down there! I want to go get some for myself! I’ll consider it a great favour if you both followed me when we go down tomorrow, and lead me to where the ore is!”

“Uhh..” says Jojo. “What about the Animated Statue? It doesn’t like people coming in and taking that ore.”

“Ahah! I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve for dealing with that,” winks the dwarf.

Adventure Notes:
Plot hook after plot hook. I’m glad I’m journalling all this into a blog. I’d tangle myself into a web of plots if I didn’t. Now, how am I going to put this all together?

That whole random encounter thing in the forest worked out well, plot wise. There are events happening in the background of the world the kids are in, and I try to give them glimpses of it. That hooded guy is actually a character from the Beginner Box GM Guide, as part of a suggested follow-on adventure from the Black Fang encounter. I like to weave in what the guide provides into something cohesive.

Plot hooks: Helping Shalelu with the missing pigs. Famous singer in town. Potions for Black Fang. Exploring the underwater ruins. Clearing out skeletons under the Old Light and helping the Iron Hammer get some of that ore.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pathfinder RPG: Session 10 - Pig Hunters

Adventure Notes:
Jojo has just turned 10! So from this session onwards, I’ll note that she’s now a 10yo, which according to her, is way, way more advanced than a 9yo.

Lexi, Elven Rogue (played by Jojo, 10yo)
Sharpblade, Skeleton (Human) Fighter (played by Evan, 7yo)

The next morning, a crowd of excited townsfolk gather around the charred remains of the choker in front of Fastidus’s house. The old wizard is still shut in his basement, so Lexi and Sharpblade are next to the corpse, soaking up the praise from the gathered townsfolk.

A little while later, a group of city guards turn up, and the captain eyes both Lexi and Sharpblade. “Are you two the ones who killed this creature? Good work! I’m sure there’s a reward for doing so. Come with me to the Town hall, and I’ll see that you both claim it.”

The promise of free gold is enough to encourage the adventurers to follow the city guard captain to the Sandpoint town hall, which acts as a court-house during certain times of the day. By this time, there is already a line of people outside, all waiting to see the appointed magistrate for the day. “Today, you see that the magistrate is none other than Sour Bill the fat wizard! He sits behind a large oak desk in the hall, and listens to each complaint or request that people bring to him.”

Soon, the adventurers themselves are presented to Sour Bill, and the fat wizard speaks in his slow, somber tone. “Well done to the two of you. There is no doubt that this is the creature that has prowled around these past couple of nights looking for a magic-user victim. The council of Sandpoint is glad to present you both 500 gold each for your efforts.”

“Ka-ching!” says Jojo as they both write down their new gold.

The adventurers thank Sour Bill, and are about to leave when there is a commotion in the line of people behind them. Lexi and Sharpblade turn to see a very angry elven woman pushing past the line to see Sour Bill. I tell the kids that this is Shalelu, the Elven Huntress, and aside from looking angry, she also looks like she hasn’t bathed for at least a few weeks.

Finally, Shalelu turns up
Shalelu speaks angrily to Sour Bill once she gets within ear-shot, “Sour Bill! What do you mean that my request for guards to assist me has been denied!? I need those men immediately!”

Sour Bill blinks slowly at her before answering, “Huntress Shalelu, I apologise for not being able to fulfill your request, but the council of Sandpoint has decided that sending men to help you rescue wild pigs is, um.. not of such importance at this time.”

Shalelu fumes. “Whole droves of forest pigs are being captured by goblins! I’ve already explained that this is not normal for goblins! They don’t even kill them for food - they are being herded off somewhere! We have to stop them!”

Sour Bill shakes his head. “Until you can provide the council some proof that this is indeed a matter that threatens the safety of Sandpoint, I’m afraid we’ll have to deny your request to send men off to some wild… pig chase.”

Some people chuckle in the audience. Shalelu throws her hands in the air, and stomps out of the town hall. Intrigued by all this, the adventurers follow the elven huntress who goes straight to the Rusty Dragon Inn. She goes in, and calls for everyone’s attention. “Adventurers of Sandpoint! I need urgent help to stop goblins from capturing wild pigs in the forest! Will anyone help me?”

Everyone in the tavern stares at the elven huntress, until someone on a nearby table lifts a pork chop that he’s eating. “Shalelu, we hunt pigs, and they hunt pigs. No crime in that.” He belches loudly.

“Ewww!” go the kids. I ask them if they want to speak to Shalelu, and Jojo opts to talk to her. She approaches Shalelu, and asks rather shyly. “Shalelu? Do you know where I can find an animal companion?”

Shalelu turns and looks at the elven ranger-rogue. I get Jojo to roll a Diplomacy check, and it comes up favourably. “Shalelu softens a bit when she sees that you are an elf like her, and a ranger as well. She says to you, ‘Little sister. Finding an animal companion is a special thing. But when it happens, you will just know that this animal is the one for you.’”

“That’s what Trax said too,” points out Evan, recalling that Jojo had asked a similar question to the halfling when they last saw him with his pet ferret.

“Do you have an animal companion?” asks Jojo.

The elven huntress smiles. “I’ve had several. And they were all very special to me. In fact, I’ve got one right now.”

“Really? What is it?”

Shalelu gets an idea. “Little sister, why don’t you help me in my task to rescue the wild pigs, and I’ll tell you about my animal companion.”

With my kids, I’ve always found curiosity a bigger incentive than anything else, so soon, Shalelu is leading Lexi out of the city, and into the forest. Evan says that he wants Sharpblade to follow them discreetly, but after several attempts of clumsily running around and hiding behind trees, Shalelu finally asks Lexi why her friend who is following them acting so weird.

“Um, Shalelu, can you tell me what your animal companion is now?” asks Jojo.

The elven huntress smiles. “I can tell you that he’s watching us right now.” Both the adventurers look around uneasily, but they spot nothing.

“It’s some kind of cat,” guesses Evan, looking at me closely to see if I’d give it away. I shrug and tell them that Shalelu is leading them off the road, and onto a hidden path. In fact, the elven huntress seems to know this whole area like the back of her hand, and they cover an amazing distance over the land in a very short time. At one point, she leads them over a fast-flowing river by going through the hollow of a dead tree trunk which had fallen across the river like a bridge.

By the end of the day, they reach the bottom of a ridge which would have taken them days to get to if they’d followed the road. The elven huntress climbs the ridge to the top, as quickly as a cat. Lexi follows along, while Sharpblade makes several attempts before he finally drags himself over the top lip of the ridge.

“Shalelu tells you both to keep low, and crawls through the bushes. You both follow suit, and soon, you all come to a very large grassy clearing in the middle of the forest. The moon is rising in the sky, and in the moonlight, you can see almost a hundred wild pigs milling about in the clearing! Shalelu has brought you both quite close, and just about 10 feet away, you see a mother pig with her litter of squealing baby piglets! Roaming about, looking quite fierce, are wild boars with their tusks. None of the pigs have noticed you three.”

Shalelu quietly explains that there were larger droves of pigs than this, but those were recently captured by goblins. This is the last large group in the area, and she reckons that the goblins will hit this one next.

Lexi turns to the huntress. “Okay. But when are you going to tell us what your animal companion is!?”

The elven huntress responds with her mysterious smile. “I can tell you what his name is. It’s…” And here, I draw a blank, so I poll the kids for a good name. After a few options, Jojo suggests, “What about ‘Binda’? That’s an aboriginal word for ‘deep water’. I learnt it from school.”

Why didn’t I learn cool stuff like this in school? I nod approvingly. “That’s perfect! Binda is the name of Shalelu’s animal companion.”

The adventurers watch the pigs for some time. The moon is quite bright tonight, and they can see the entire clearing from where they are. I tell the kids to roll some Perception checks, and then say, “You both notice nothing, but Shalelu draws your attention to some movement in the bushes on the other side of the clearing. She tells you to sneak around one side while she goes round the other side.”

I get Jojo to do a Stealth check, and she rolls a natural 20. “As you get closer, you can hear a goblin voice. You sneak up so quietly that you are in the bushes right behind the goblin who is speaking! He seems to be giving instructions to a group of about 8 more goblins, all holding nets and sticks.”

The goblin (who looks like the leader here) snarls frustratedly. “Nonono-NO! FIRST, we wait for signal from other group! THEN we run out and catch pigs!” Some of the other goblins still look rather confused.

The clearing
I ask Evan what does he want to do, and he says that he’ll follow Lexi from behind, but not too close.

Jojo thinks a bit before saying, “I’m behind the goblin, right? I’m going to reach out, and yank him into the bushes!”

I look at her, rather amused. “You want to do that while he’s talking to the whole bunch of other goblins? I suppose that would be rather unnerving for them to see their leader yanked out of sight from right in front of them.” I order her to do an attack roll (to grab the goblin which I considered Flat footed for this turn), and a Strength roll to see if she successfully yanks the goblin back. Jojo rolls a hit with the attack roll, but botches the Strength check. “You grab the goblin by the ankle, and yank hard! However, the creature is much heavier than you expect, and you only succeed in tripping him. He falls face first on the ground!”

The goblins in front laugh at the sight of their leader falling flat on his face, while the other goblins behind call out in confusion, “Hey! Where he go!?”

It’s Evan’s turn. “I’m going to jump out of the bushes and blast the goblins with my Magic Missles!” So Sharpblade springs out of the bushes, and lands on top of the goblin leader lying on the ground. “Jarvis, Activate Magic Missles!” he orders, and his armour blasts three surprised goblins before they can even react.

The goblins scream in anger and confusion (some of them wailing, “ARGH! He turned into BIG, UGLY SKELETON!”) and on their round, they charge towards the skeleton who is still standing on top of the squirming goblin leader. Sharpblade takes off into the bushes with the goblins hot on his heels, most of them trampling over their leader in their haste.

Lexi remains hidden until the whole group passes before following them. “Dad, do we have to fight these goblins? I just came along to find out what Shalelu’s animal companion is, you know.”

“You’ll find out soon enough,” I assure her. “Meanwhile, I think your brother is in trouble.”

Sharpblade breaks out into the clearing and the goblins follow suit. The wild pigs snort in surprise, and the whole group scatters before the charging skeleton. The pigs stampede away from Sharpblade, right in the direction of another group of goblins charging out of the trees. Obviously the ‘other group’ that the goblin leader was referring to.

“You notice that this other group of goblins is led by a larger creature. You think it might be an orc.” I tell them. “They come charging out waving their sticks and hollering, and are surprised to see that the pigs are already panicked and running - straight towards them! They turn and run back into the trees, yelling in fright!”

Evan is more interested in getting away from his little group of bloodthirsty pursuers. “I’m going to jump and grab a tree branch and pull myself up into a tree!” I get him to do an Acrobatics roll, which he succeeds in admirably. So Sharpblade swings himself up a tree, and looks down at the group of goblins circling the tree like a pack of ravenous wolves. “Jojo, help me! Remember what happened last time I fought goblins!? They knocked me out!”

Jojo thinks a bit, and shakes her head disinterestedly. “Nah, you can handle it yourself.”


“I already told Dad that I’m just interested in seeing Shalelu’s animal companion. Where is she anyway?” As if in response, Lexi spots a slender arm reach down from a tree branch above where the second group of goblins are fleeing under, and yank a startled goblin up into the leaves. “Hmm.. she’s good.”

I decide to lean in a bit. “Well, Jojo, you did take up that Goblinoid racial enemy trait when you multi-classed into a Ranger. That gives you a +2 bonus when fighting goblins. You might as well use it.”

Jojo snorts irritatedly. “Uh! Fine! I’ll help Evan!”

The goblins are attempting to climb up the tree, and are taken off guard when a very annoyed-looking elf marches up out from nowhere and impales one of them with her rapier.

“Woo hoo!” whoops Sharpblade as he draws his axe and jumps down to join in the fight. Evan rolls a hit, and after his damage roll, I remind him that he has a Cleave ability which means that he can hit another goblin right next to the first one. Evan gladly takes the free attack, and cleaves into a second goblin, decapitating it with his axe.

In a very short span of time, the adventurers whittle the group of eight goblins down to two who are no match for Lexi’s precise rapier strikes and Sharpblade’s cleaving axe. The two goblins turn and flee across the open clearing.

“Just then, something swoops down from above! You see a huge hawk, about the size of a double bed, fly down and grab the two fleeing goblins with its talons, and then take off into the night sky with a shrill cry!”

Shalelu appears out of nowhere beside Lexi and Sharpblade who are standing in awe of the magnificent bird of prey. “THAT's Binda,” she states, making them both jump.

“Gah! Don’t sneak up on me like that!” says Lexi.

The elven huntress laughs, and shows them something in her hand. It looks like a sharp, pointed rock pendant that is suspended on a bit of twine. “I found this on the orc. The pigs did most of the work, so there wasn’t much left of him. It’s a talisman that orc shamen enchant with their crude magic and give to their warriors. It’s a bit like a compass, but this always points to a specific location.” Shalelu smiles. “Wait till the Sandpoint council sees this! If orcs are helping the goblins catch pigs, then something big is definitely brewing! And I bet if we follow where this talisman is pointing to, we’ll find where they’re bringing these pigs to and rescue them!”

And as if to emphasize her point, the huntress reaches down, scoops up a baby piglet hidden in the tall grass, and deposits it into a delighted Lexi’s arms.

Adventure Notes:

The collective noun for a group of pigs is a ‘drove of pigs’, not a herd. I must have typed 'herd' at least half a dozen times before I looked that up.

In case you were wondering, Sharpblade carries both a warhammer and an axe. He mostly uses his warhammer, but occasionally pulls out his axe like in this session. I threw in an orc in the encounter just in case Sharpblade needed a challenge, but it was fun enough battling goblins that I deemed it unnecessary to drag it out with the orc.

And yes, when it comes to ‘co-operating’, the kids act like this in real life.

Plot hooks: Where are the orcs and goblins bringing these pigs to?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Pathfinder RPG: Session 9 - Night Intruder

Adventure Notes:

Okay, I’m getting behind with the session reports. The kids and I play about one or two sessions per week, and if I’m putting out one session report per week (and skipping some weeks), it sort of makes sense that I’ll get further and further behind :-p Will try to keep you all updated though.

Lexi, Elven Rogue (played by Jojo)
Sharpblade, Skeleton (Human) Fighter (played by Evan)
Kyra, Human Cleric of Sarenrae (NPC, normally played by Mummy)
Skye Ironblade, Human Paladin? (NPC)
Bulk, Half-orc Fighter (NPC)
Puddlebug, Gnome Alchemist? (NPC)

Several things happen immediately after the adventurers come out from the tunnels under the Old Light. First, Bulk the Half-orc brings Skye to the Temple of Sarenrae to have her arm looked at as it was pretty banged up after her encounter with the Animated Statue. I conveniently make Kyra follow them as Mummy isn’t playing in this session.

Puddlebug the gnome tells the kids that he’ll meet them at the Rusty Dragon Inn tomorrow morning and heads off elsewhere. The kids bring the sample of the glowing ore to Fastidus who eagerly takes it down to his basement laboratory and shuts himself in. He obviously does not want to be disturbed.

What do you want to do? is usually a risky question to ask the kids, but I ask it anyway, “So guys, what do you want to do now? Wait till morning and meet up with Puddlebug?”

Evan speaks up first, “I want to blow up a house! Is that Yoo-hoo guy who runs the armour shop still open?”

This was definitely a new turn of events. I cautiously query Evan, “Why do you want to blow up the armour shop, Ev?”

“Because I want to be EVIL!”

Jojo rolls her eyes. “You can’t be EVIL because the game allows you to be Chaotic Neutral at worst, and we’re already that! There’s no setting for EVIL!”

“Well, Dad said that we can do anything in this game, and I want to become evil!”

I ponder a bit. “Well, Evan, it’s true that you can do anything in this game. But you can’t blow up the armour shop because it’s not open right now.”

Evan is somewhat disappointed, but the kids decide to wait till morning and meet up with Puddlebug at the Rusty Dragon Inn before deciding what to do next.

So the next morning, the adventurers arrive at the Rusty Dragon Inn to find Puddlebug already there, along with Bulk and Skye who looks a lot better after her visit to the Temple. The serious woman nods at Lexi and Sharpblade before speaking, “We’ve already briefed the mayor about our findings under the Old Light, and some groups will be organised to be sent down to deal with the spider den and the skeletons. That animated statue though, is a real problem.”

Jojo says, “The statue was trying to say something before it attacked us. Maybe we should find out what it was saying.”

Skye nods. “Yes, that might give us some clue on how to deal with that creature. Puddlebug has already started trying to decipher what language that statue was speaking in.” The woman motions to Bulk. “Bulk and I, unfortunately, are unable to stay to help solve this puzzle. We have been called elsewhere by the Pathfinder Society. However, Puddlebug has some news to share.”

The small gnome beams at the adventurers. “I’ve decided to stay in Sandpoint, and open a shop! And I’d like the two of you to be my very first customers! Free, of course!”

The kids are immediately interested. “What sort of shop are you opening?” asks Evan.

“Well, I’m an accomplished Artificer, which means that I can enchant items to make them magical! For you two, I’ll enchant an item of yours for free!”

“What sort of enchantments?” asks Jojo. “Can you do fire magic? Or electric?”

“Both,” says the gnome, somewhat smugly. “If you want, I can enchant those throwing daggers of yours with fire or electric!”

Jojo agonises over which enchantment she’d prefer until I tell her why not enchant some of her daggers with fire, and some with electric. So, soon enough, Lexi is the proud owner of four Flaming Daggers, and four Shock Daggers. She is concerned that the Flaming Daggers would set fire to her backpack when stored, but I explain to her that the magic daggers look normal and only flame up (or electrify) when she is about to use them.

Evan says that he wants his Half-Plate armour to be enchanted, and asks Puddlebug what sort of other enchantments can he do, and the gnome explains that he can do all sorts, depending on what ingredients he has on hand. “In fact,” he says, “You can tell me what sort of enchantments you’d like to have, and I can tell you what ingredients you’ll need to provide to me so that I can do it. It’s a bit like cooking, really.”

Jojo exclaims, “Ooo! What ingredients do you need to make an enchantment which can allows us to understand all creatures, including animals!? That’ll be awesome! And we’d be able to understand what that statue is saying too!”

I tell her that Puddlebug will come back to her with that one. Meanwhile, I'm straining to think up some interesting enchantments for Evan’s armour when I suddenly get a great idea. I open the GM Guide to the Minor Scrolls Randomiser table, and hand Evan the percentile dice. “Roll these three times, and I’ll look up this table to see what sort of enchantments Puddlebug can give to you.”

Rolling up Magic Items is more fun than it looks!
Evan rolls 89% and I check the table. “Oh, this is good - Puddlebug can enchant your armour with Invisibility! Basically, your armour can turn you invisible once per day for about 5 minutes.”

Evan thinks about it and shakes his head. “Nah, I want something cooler.” He rolls again and gets 15%.

I check the table. “Ah hah! You’d love this one - Cause Fear! Basically, Puddlebug can put a skull symbol on your armour, causing an opponent to quake with fear! Pretty awesome, eh?” I glance up and am surprised to see the kids looking quite unimpressed.

“Sharpblade is ALREADY a skeleton, dad,” points out Jojo. “If he wants to scare anyone, he can just pull his helmet off!”

Ah, right. “Okay, one last roll,” I say. Evan rolls 50% and I look it up. “Magic Missle? From an armour? Hmm…” Some inspiration takes hold. “Puddlebug can put this glowing stone on your chest-plate. And once per day, it can shoot out three Magic Missles which hits up to three opponents. Or all on the same one. You get to decide.”

Evan stares at me. “You mean, I get to shoot out a chest beam? Like Iron Man?”

“Uh. Well. Um. Yeah.”


Oh Yeah! Uni-Beam FTW!
I tell Evan that he needs to come up with a command word to activate the Magic Missles, and of course, he comes up with ‘Jarvis, Activate Magic Missles’.

Puddlebug tells the adventurers that he can have the armour enchantment done by later that afternoon, so Lexi and Sharpblade hang around the Rusty Dragon Inn to wait. “While waiting at the inn, you listen to the other patrons talking. Apparently, the talk of the town is all about the strange happenings that occurred last night. It seems that something has been seen prowling the rooftops at night. Something black with long arms has been trying to get into people’s homes.

“And it seems that the creature has been targeting the homes of magic-users. You know Sour Bill, the fat wizard with the water-walking boots who was the judge at the Festival’s fighting contest? He lives in a house (that’s really shaped like a tower, because, you know, wizards like towers), and something tried to break in from the roof. Fortunately, Sour Bill’s got magical home defenses that scared the creature off. And a visiting magic-user who’s staying at this very inn says that she was woken up in the middle of the night by something trying to get in through her window on the second floor. Thankfully, she cast a spell and it ran off.”

“Interesting,” says Evan. The kids realise that this is the same creature that escaped the Old Light in the previous session.

Being the fairly railroady GM tonight, I poke in a few more details. “You guys think about the only wizard you know, Fastidus, working all alone at home. Hopefully, nothing will happen to him.” I leave it at that, satisfied that the train will arrive.

Jojo waves her hand. “Fastidus? Oh, he’ll be fine. He works in the basement after all. And this thing is trying to get in through the roof.”

Evan tosses a suggestion. “Maybe, we can get Fastidus on to the roof. So that the thing can come and try to get him.”

“Oh, good thinking! And then we can trap it, or kill it!”

I stare at the kids, quite uncertain over what I’d just heard. “You mean,.. you kids want to use Fastidus as BAIT?”

The kids nod enthusiastically.

“Okay, well, how are you going to get Fastidus on the roof? You know he’s really busy in the basement.”

Jojo thinks a bit. “I’ll go down and ask him if he can help us find our lost cat on the roof.”

And so the dastardly plan is hatched, which I suppose is in line with two Chaotic Neutral characters. After the adventurers pick up Sharpblade's new enchanted armour from Puddlebug, they arrive back at Fastidus’s house. Jojo convinces the old wizard to help come up to the roof to look for a lost cat, one named ‘Black, Long-armed Thing’. One Bluff check later, the tale works exceedingly well, as apparently, the wizard is a cat-lover, and soon the old wizard is wandering around the roof of his house calling out, “Black, Long-armed Thing! Where are you!?” in the middle of the night, much to the annoyance of his neighbours.

Roof-top Recon
“Thankfully, the roof of Fastidus’s house is quite flat, and easy to walk around. There’s a chimney here, and the roofs of neighbouring houses. This is the street in front of the house, and the roof of the house across the street. You know, it’s a whole new world up here on the roof-tops. Sort of like that scene on the roof in Mary Poppins.”

Chim-Chimney-Chim-WHAT THE HECK IS THAT!?
Jojo decides to hide next to the chimney, while Evan patrols the street below with a ladder. I get them to roll Perception checks.  “For some time, nothing happens, aside from shouts from the neighbours to be quiet. Then, Lexi notices something move on the rooftop of the house on the opposite side of the street.” I give her one chance to warn Sharpblade about what she’s spotted, but Lexi opts to keep hiding instead.

“Suddenly, a black thing launches itself off the roof, over the street, to land on Fastidus’s house! You see that it is a short ugly creature, with long tentacle-like arms which end with flat fingers with little hooks! The creature snaps out one of its arms at Fastidus, and wraps its hand around the old wizard’s throat!” I show the kids a picture of the creature which I’d read up on from the Paizo site.

Here Kitty Kitty Kitty
I explain that this creature is called a Choker, a predator that lives in tunnels and dungeons waiting to catch unwary adventurers with its long arms. “In fact, it particularly likes to catch magic-users, which is why it has those long arms. It tries to choke the magic-user before he can even say any magic words to cast spells!”

Jojo nods. “That’s so clever! I’M THROWING MY FIRE DAGGER AT IT!” She rolls to hit, and misses badly. The creature must have spotted the flaming dagger hurtling towards it, and ducks its head out of the way in time.

Sharpblade is running to Fastidus’s house and placing his ladder against the roof. He climbs up in time to see the Choker fling out its other arm towards Lexi, wrapping its finger hooks around the elf’s arm. “Jarvis, actviate Magic Missles!” he commands, and three brilliant blue bolts surge out from his chest-plate and smashes into the black creature from behind. The choker bellows in rage, badly injured.

Lexi tries to stab the choker’s hand wrapped around her arm with her other hand, but in the struggle, only the flat of the blade glances the creature, barely damaging it. Sharpblade swings his warhammer at it, but smashes the roof instead.

Finally, Lexi manages to stab the creature’s hand with her flaming dagger. “The flame erupts from your blade, and races up the choker’s arm! The choker lets go of both its victims, and soon the whole creature is on fire! With a screaming wail, the choker collapses into a charred heap on the roof!”

Jojo is impressed. “Wow, I really like these fire daggers!”

Fastidus gets up, coughing badly, and tells Lexi that he’s found her cat, and that he’ll be down in his basement. The old wizard disappears back down into his house.

Adventure Notes:

On hindsight, I think most of us have used NPCs as trap-springers or mine-prodders before, regardless of alignment, so I suppose I can hardly blame the kids for using Fastidus as bait. Still, it was amusing to see them come up with the idea, and I ditched the original plan of them saving Fastidus from the choker breaking into his home.

Not sure why Evan wants to become an Evil character. Probably influenced by all that Sith stuff he's been watching.

The kids will probably get hooked into getting spell ingredients for Puddlebug in order to enchant more of their stuff. That's a great lead-in for more future adventures.

And I'm quite impressed over how rolling for random magic items works so well to jog some creative juices. I'm normally leery of randomly generated items and encounters. I'll have to do this more often. Do you do the same in your campaigns?

Plot hooks: What was that animated statue saying? Glowing Ore.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sushi Queens

I brought my copy of Sushi Go! to work to play with some work colleagues during Friday lunch, and when I opened it, the first thing that greeted me was a score sheet from the last game my wife and my daughter played:
She is the Sushi Queen.
Great game. We should do a video review of this soon.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pathfinder RPG: Session 8 - Under the Old Light (Part 3)

Lexi, Elven Rogue (played by Jojo)
Sharpblade, Skeleton (Human) Fighter (played by Evan)
Kyra, Human Cleric of Sarenrae (NPC, normally played by Mummy)
Skye Ironblade, Human Paladin? (NPC)
Bulk, Half-orc Fighter (NPC)
Puddlebug, Gnome Alchemist? (NPC)

It has become a habit to start off each of our sessions with me asking the kids, “Does anyone remember what happened last session?” I find it helps jog the kids’ memories on where they are and what were they doing. This time round, I’m impressed by Jojo who not only remembers the last session’s details, but also what the strange room looked like, which she draws out on another notepad.

Pretty accurate re-construction of the strange room
“That’s right,” I nod. “So, who wants to go in first?”

Mummy isn’t playing in this session tonight, and I've told her that I’ll put her character on “auto-pilot”. The kids decide among themselves that the lightest character should go in first, and so Puddlebug the gnome steps cautiously into the room. He makes an observation, “Hmm.. there is rust all over this iron grate, except for over here where the door is. In fact, it looks like there’s a trail of less rusty bars going all the way to the hole.” Stepping lightly, he makes it all the way to the other end of the room.

Lexi is next, and so the elven rogue steps in. After a few Reflex rolls, I tell Jojo, “The rusty iron grate squeals alarmingly under your foot, but it seems to hold your weight. You carefully make your way across the room.” I order Jojo to make a Perception roll. “You notice something shifting under the water! It’s a dark shape that is fairly roundish, almost like a sting-ray!”

Jojo and Evan argue a bit over what it might be. Evan’s first thought is that it’s a Reefclaw from the GM Guide (he reckons that a cross between an eel (possibly electric) and lobster must be fearsome indeed) while Jojo thinks that it’s a real sting-ray, and perhaps she can tame it to become her animal companion. In the end, they decide to throw something into the water. Jojo takes her rope out, tosses one end to Sharpblade, and lowers the other end into the dark murky waters.

“The end of the rope slips into the water, and you can see a dark shape moving towards it. Suddenly, something grips the rope and starts pulling it down!” The elven rogue and skeleton pull up with all their might, and I order a Strength roll. “You pull and pull, and something breaks the surface of the water, clinging on the rope! It’s some kind of grey, blob-like creature!”

Both the kids go, “Ewwww!”

The rope then snaps, and the creature sinks down into the water once again. The end of the rope has been eaten through by acid. Puddlebug shouts a warning from across the room, “It’s a Gray Ooze! I’d recognise one anywhere!”

A Gray Ooze. Ewwwww.
“That thing can live underwater?” asks Jojo, somewhat surprised.

“Sure, it can,” I respond airily. “It doesn’t need to breathe, right?”

Evan then surprises me by solving the riddle of the hole in the middle of the room. “I know! The ooze must have come through the door, and its acid ate away the rust, leaving a trail! Then it got to the middle of the room, and fell through because it melted a hole into the iron grate!”

That boy could have been raised in a dungeon, I muse to myself. I let them both read a bit about the ooze from the GM Guide, and they are intimidated enough by its acid attack that they decide to leave the trapped creature alone.

Lexi makes it to the iron door and rolls well on her Disable Device skill to pick the lock. “This iron door doesn’t seem as badly rusted as the first one. The iron lock opens with a satisfying clank.” The elf pushes the door open and goes through.

Kyra and Skye come over the iron grate floor easily enough. Evan makes good rolls on the d20 for Reflex checks, and so Sharpblade treads carefully across with no problems.

Bulk, however, looks uneasy as the iron grate complains loudly with his every step. I roll a d20, and say, “Bulk makes his way carefully across, but then an iron bar snaps under his foot, and his foot goes down, dangling just above the water! The ooze in the water goes crazy as it tries to reach him, splashing waves everywhere, but in the end, the half-orc manages to extract his stuck foot, and makes it to the other end.”

The kids breath a sigh of relief, and the adventurers pass through the iron door. They troop down a short corridor, which leads to a huge cavern-like room. The room must have once been round, but a massive cave-in has covered half of the room with rubble. “You also notice hundreds and hundreds of fiery lights flying around, like fire-flies. One of the lights flies near, and you see that it is a beetle about the size of a watermelon! It has two fiery red dots on its outer shell that glow like embers. Puddlebug identifies it as a Fire Beetle.”

Fire Beetle chamber
The gnome explains that Fire Beetles are mostly harmless, and are sometimes kept in little lantern-like cages by miners as a source of light. They are attracted to hot things, so this colony must have found a heat source somewhere here. Perhaps in that pit half-covered by rubble in the room.

Lexi and Sharpblade make their way to the pit. The floor of this room slants like a funnel towards the pit. The fire beetles are clustered in greater numbers here, and I tell them that they can see something glowing inside the pit. The pit is fairly shallow, so Lexi climbs down.

“You see glowing rocks embedded in the sides of the pit, like ore. The fire beetles seem attracted to these.” Jojo asks me what ‘ore’ is, and Evan reminds her that they’ve seen plenty of them in Minecraft.

Minecraft came in useful after all
Jojo decides to take some of the ore, and she scrapes out a chunk of it. Sharpblade is more interested in the fire beetles, and tries to pick some of those up.

I tell them, “Just then, there is a rumble, and parts of the rubble gives way!” A large arm thrusts out of the rubble, and a large stone creature pulls itself out of the rubble. I show the kids the picture of an Animated Statue.

Introducing, the T-1000. BC.
“This statue is huge! Lexi barely is taller than its knee! The statue looks down at all of you, and demands in a grating voice, ‘Grrnk-ankh-zzffnaargh-gok!’”

The kids asks me to repeat what the statue said, and so I do. Jojo decides that perhaps it’s asking for the chunk of ore back, so she holds the ore out towards the statue. However, the statue is not appeased, and lifts a threatening fist. Lexi barely manages to dodge out of the way before the fist smashes the spot where she was standing.

The rest of the party explodes into action, with Bulk smashing into the statue with his mace, Kyra with her scimitar, and Skye with her sword. Sharpblade hits it with his warhammer, but hardly dents the creature.

“This statue is extremely tough and seems hard to damage! Evan, your attack barely scratches it!” Lexi manages to duck behind it, and sneak attacks it by sticking her rapier into a knee joint, causing a small explosion of sparks.

I randomly roll to see who the statue attacks. The creature grabs Skye in a crushing grip, shaking her like a ragged doll before tossing her across the room into a heap of rubble. The woman gets up, her arm bent in an odd angle. “Retreat!” she orders.

The rest of the party complies, and soon, everyone has made their way back to the short corridor. The statue is too large to follow them, and bends its head to glare angrily at them.

Skye decides that they have explored enough under the Old Light, and so the party makes it back to the hole in the middle of the curved corridor. They go up the rope ladder, and are greeted by the two guardsmen at the top who seem extremely nervous. When Skye questions them, they say, “Just now, we thought we heard you all coming up the rope ladder, and so we called down to see if everything was alright. And then, this black creature with long, ropey arms sprang out of the hole and before we could stop it, it fled off into the night!”

Adventure Notes:

I noticed only at the last moment that the Animated Statue had a Hardness ability of 8, which means that any damage dealt to it is reduced by 8. That effectively ruled out most of the kids’ current weapons, unless they were lucky enough to score critical hits, or if Jojo got in more of her sneak attacks. Nevertheless, I decided to forgo the safe “The NPCs defeat the creature for you.” routine, and save the Animated Statue as a future challenge for the kids.

Note to self - the kids really should upgrade their weapons. And get into battles which they don’t need to retreat from.

Plot hooks: Glowing Ore, Angry Animated Statue, Black escaped creature with ropey arms

And the Ooze. I think I’ll name it Oscar.