Saturday, November 7, 2015

Pathfinder RPG: Session 18 - The Hagfish

Lexi, Elven Rogue (played by Jojo, 10yo)
Sharpblade, Skeleton (Human) Fighter (played by Evan, 8yo)

Adventure Notes:
Okay, so after doing some research, I finally pull the trigger and purchase a copy of the ‘Rise of the Runelords’ Adventure Path. This is a full-on campaign path that brings adventurers up from Level 1 to 18 – if we ever get around to doing this, I’ll probably have to hike up the difficulty for some of the early level 1 scenes. 

Right now, the main prize of the book though is the appendix – there’s a rich detailed layout of Sandpoint and its many denizens. Incredibly, there’s an old sage named Brodert Quink whose portrait looks exactly like what we’d envisaged Fastidus to be. So in our campaign, Brodert Quink is Fastidus.

He even likes cats!
So armed with more details about Sandpoint, I launch into the next session with the kids.

The two ogres working for the evil cleric Thelsikar were posted outside the main prison entrance to dissuade unwanted visitors. I had thought about getting the kids to face off the ogres guarding the prison on the way out, but decided that they’d had enough fights for one adventure, so I basically narrated the very short encounter.

“The ogres are completely surprised when the guards, led by a very angry Shalelu, charge out of the front entrance behind them. Shalelu downs one with an arrow that goes right through its eye and out the back of its head, while the other ogre flees with the rest of the guards in hot pursuit.”

Before leaving the prison, the adventurers search the place, and find a stash of treasure in the altar room. By now, I’d become reliant on rolling up random treasure, so I threw some dice, looked up the random treasure table, and my jaw dropped when I saw what had been rolled:

Completely random coincidental treasure!
The kids demanded to know why I was making gagging noises, and I tried my best to convey the significance of this find. “Thelsikar is making black potions for Black Fang, right? Black Fang is a dragon, right? So why is Thelsikar keeping an arrow of Dragon-Slaying? Maybe he’s keeping it – just in case, because he doesn’t trust Black Fang? Or maybe he had some devious backstabbing plan in mind? It’s like, random game master plot generation!”

Yes, I do love it when a plot comes together. Once the kids finish waiting for their dad to recover from being completely geeked-out, the adventure continues.

“Lexi, Sharpblade, Shalelu and the guards arrive back in Sandpoint. Shalelu thanks you guys once again for coming to their rescue, and leads off the very battered group of guards to the Temple of Sarenrae for healing.”

“Let’s go to the Rusty Dragon,” suggests Jojo. “I think I’m running low on cheese cubes for Pseudo.” The adventurers make their way to the tavern.

As they enter the place, I say, “The Rusty Dragon is surprisingly quiet even though it’s quite close to evening. Usually this place is bustling, but there’s hardly anyone here tonight!” Ameiko the tavern owner greets the adventurers as they head up to the bar counter. She immediately brings up some fish and cheese cubes when Lexi asks for some for Pseudo, and soon the tavern owner is giggling with delight at watching Pseudo gobble up his treats.

“You know, it’s reeeally weird that no one else seems to be here,” I say to the kids off-handedly.

Evan finally rises to the bait. “I ask Ameiko where everyone is.”

The tavern owner snorts in disgust. “Oh, everyone is off at the other tavern near the wharf called ‘The Hagfish’. A group of adventurers came into town this morning claiming that they’ve slain the black dragon called Black Fang, so everyone is there to listen to their adventure.”

It takes a moment for this to sink in. “They did what!?” exclaims Jojo.

I shrug nonchalantly. “Black Fang. The dragon. These adventurers claim that they’ve killed him.”

It doesn’t take very long for the adventurers to be on their way to The Hagfish tavern to hear the tale for themselves. “You arrive at the wharf and make your way to a very seedy-looking building that is actually sitting on stilts raised above the water. The place is packed with people, and you guys find it hard to squeeze your way in.”

The Hagfish is hardly big enough to accommodate the sheer number of people in it, but no one seems to mind. Everyone is paying particular attention to a table located in the middle of the tavern, where three adventurers are sitting. “You see a large brutish man guzzling down a drink, next to a dark-skinned, hooded woman and a handsome roguish half-elf. The half-elf is entertaining the crowd with his tale of their adventure.”

The handsome half-elf rogue flashes a smile. “And then! Just as the great dragon was charging out of his dark lair towards us, my brutish friend here swings his war hammer with all his might! And he smashes, not the dragon, but the pillar supporting the roof of the lair! Rubble collapses on the roaring black dragon, and soon, Black Fang is slain, buried under tonnes of mountain rock!”

“What, that’s it?” sniffs Jojo. “They just buried him?”

The half-elf seems to have overheard Lexi and turns to her. “Ah! But of course we checked that the dragon was indeed dead! Behold, the trophy of our accomplishment!” He holds up, over his head so that everyone can see, a long, black fang.

Adventure Notes:
The Black Fang adventure in the Beginner Box uses the long black fang (found in the carcass of some farm animal) as the basis for sending the adventurers to find the creature which the fang belongs to. I like re-using plot devices in my own adventures. Makes it almost like we’re in a different dimension.

Speaking of re-use, if you’re familiar with the Rise of the Runelords adventure campaign, you might recognize who these dodgy adventurers are. ;-)

“Everyone gasps!” I dramatize. “The black tooth is almost as long as a short sword! And then someone starts to clap, and soon everyone is joining in.”

Everyone except for Sharpblade and Lexi. “I’m going to stay close to the table,” says Jojo suspiciously. “Maybe I can check if the tooth is fake.”

I nod and say to Evan, “Meanwhile, you notice something odd at the bar counter of this tavern. Behind the wooden counter is a large aquarium that seems to be filled with murky water. There’re letters carved into the base of the aquarium which spell out, ‘NORAH’.”

“Norah?” repeats Evan, looking interested. The skeleton walks over to the bar and tries to peer into the aquarium but the water is much too murky. He asks the bartender what ‘Norah’ means.

“Almost all at once, the people sitting at the bar stop their chatter and turn to you. You can see some of them grinning, and not all in a friendly way.” The bartender finishes wiping a mug and speaks to Sharpblade in a gravelly voice. “I see you be new around these parts! ‘Norah’ be our pet hagfish! And there be a challenge to any who dares drink a mug of foul water from Norah’s tank! A bag of gold for the one who manages the feat!” The bartender (obviously an ex-pirate) gestures to a pouch hanging on a hook next to the aquarium. It looks like it’s full of gold coins.

Norah the Hagfish
“A challenge? You mean, like a contest?” asks Evan. The boy loves contests ever since that tournament during the festival.

“Yes, and the winner gets the bag of gold,” I tell him.

You can almost see the gears turning in his head. “Oh, I know!” he says to Jojo. “I’ll drink the mug, and it won’t affect me because I’m a skeleton!”

“But they’ll see the puddle of water on the floor,” points out Jojo. “They’ll know you’re tricking them.”

“I suppose it depends on how well Evan rolls on his Bluff,” I reply, casually spinning a d20 with one hand. “It won’t be easy, but he might be able to pretend that he’s drinking the stuff.”

Of course, Evan decides that he’ll do it, and the challenge is set. The bartender scoops out a mug of foul, slimy water from Norah’s tank and places it in front of Sharpblade. A crowd of spectators gathers around him. Sharpblade takes the mug, and begins to pour it down his mouth. “Sharpblade is trying very hard to pretend to drink. The water is pouring into his armour where it will hopefully stay!”

I hand the d20 to Evan who closes his eyes, takes a deep breath, and shakes the die around in his hands before tossing it.

He rolls a 2.

It takes some time to calm Evan down over his agonised pleas for a re-roll. I hold firm though. “Then someone suddenly says, ‘Hang on! Isn’t this Fastidus’s skeleton guard!?” and someone else says, ‘He’s leaking water from his armour!’”

“Oh no!” groans Evan while his sister just rolls her eyes.

Enraged at being tricked, the angry crowd lifts the skeleton up and carries him to the nearest window. “They throw you out of the window, and you fall straight into the water with a big splash! Sploooosh!!!” It’s important to provide good sound effects.

By now the kids are laughing at the poor skeleton’s misfortune. They make up a scene where Sharpblade encounters more hagfish waiting at the bottom of the harbour, and by the time the skeleton walks out to shore, he’s covered with flopping hagfish biting his armour.

Picture courtesy of Evan
Jojo decides that it’s time for her to leave before the unruly crowd in the tavern remembers that she came in with Sharpblade. “As Lexi makes her way to the front door, she recognizes someone!” The elven rogue spots Shalelu wearing a discreet hooded cloak near the doorway. The tall huntress signals to Lexi with a smile, and they both leave the Hagfish together.

When they are some ways away, Shalelu draws back her hood. Lexi can see that the elven huntress is still recovering from some cuts from her ordeal in the dark cleric’s prison. She still wears a determined smile though. “I thought I might find you here too, Lexi. I was also very curious about these adventurers who claim to have slain Black Fang. A little too coincidental, and convenient, don’t you think? Now no one is going to go looking for the dragon by the time the full moon comes around.” Lexi nods thoughtfully in response.

Shalelu glances around before continuing, “I don’t think we can risk believing that the dragon is dead. I need you and Sharpblade to go investigate if the tale is true. Go to Black Fang’s lair and see for yourself if the dragon has been slain. Meanwhile, I’ll follow these so-called dragon-slayers around. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that they are up to no good.”

Adventure Notes:
And there we have it – a lead-in to the Black Fang adventure. Yes, it was a long, convoluted adventure path, but I hope you guys have enjoyed it as much as we have.

Onward to Black Fang’s dungeon!

Plot hooks: Three so-called adventurers. Is Black Fang really dead?

Pathfinder RPG: Session 17 - The Prison (Part2)

Lexi, Elven Rogue (played by Jojo, 10yo)
Sharpblade, Skeleton (Human) Fighter (played by Evan, 8yo)

The kids decide that the chute which Erik had been dumped through looked like the best way to get into the prison. They spend some time arguing about how they were going to push poor Erik up the chute with them, but I solve their dilemma by telling them that Erik has passed out. Unwilling to lug around a comatose guard with them, the kids decide to hide Erik in the chamber under some junk and ghoul remains before heading up the chute.

“You both climb up the chute, and at the top, you find a small hatch that opens easily. Peering through, you see that the chute opens into a corridor with jail doors on the sides. You don’t see any one in the corridor.”

Jailhouse carnage!
The adventurers decide to check out the closest jail door. “Looking through the jail door bars, you see a couple of Sandpoint guards! They look pretty beaten up and miserable.” Lexi calls out to them, and the guards are surprised (and very much relieved!) to see them. Lexi immediately starts working on the jail door lock while Sharpblade checks out the other cells.

“The rest of the cells contain Sandpoint guards as well! You come up to the last cell. This one contains a single guard who seems to be staring at the wall with his back towards you. He hasn’t seem to have heard you.”

“Hey you!” calls Evan. “Are you a ding-dong or something? We’re here to rescue you!”

The guard in the cell turns around, revealing dead eyes and a gaping mouth. “You realise that this is no longer a human guard but a horrible zombie!” With a lurch forward, the zombie moves towards the cell door, arms outstretched. Sharpblade backs away from the door as the zombie sticks its hands through the bars, moaning grotesquely.

“Uh oh,” I say. “The zombie moans seem to have attacted some attention!” With a shriek, half a dozen goblins burst into the corridor, attacking Sharpblade the moment they lay eyes on him.

I expect Jojo to continue working on the cell doors to free the guards, but she decides to draw her rapier instead and fight the goblins. The fight is surprisingly tedious because of the narrow corridor, but eventually the adventurers defeat the raving goblins. My memory of the fight is somewhat hazy, but I seem to recall the kids feeding the dead goblins to the zombie.

The room where the goblins had come from contains a wooden table and a pile of junk in the corner. “It looks like stuff taken from previous prisoners.” Some of the guards find their equipment among the junk. Rummaging through the junk, Lexi pulls out a few valuable trinkets worth some gold.

Beyond the goblin chamber’s door is a north-south passageway. The passage to the south turns westwards into a long hallway which the guards say leads to the front door which is guarded by a couple of ogres. The way north is dark, and is likely where the dark cleric has Shalelu captive.

The kids head up north while the guards head south to deal with the ogres. They come to a pair of double-doors which they open. “The double-doors open into a dark chamber. There is an altar on the other side of this chamber, and you instantly recognise Shalelu lying on the altar! Next to the altar is someone dressed in black robes and a hood. This must be the evil cleric who is going to sacrifice Shalelu!”

The Big Bad Evil Cleric room
“Interfering fools!” The evil cleric reaches out his hand, and I get Evan to roll to resist a ‘Hold Person’ spell. He rolls a 17 and saves. Lucky kid.

Infuriated that his initial spell failed, the cleric tries again, this time with Channel Energy, which in his case channels negative life energy. I roll d26. “Dark energy swirls around Sharpblade, and to everyone’s surprise, the energy heals Sharpblade for 7 damage! It looks like the cleric hadn’t counted on an undead opponent turning up to fight him!”

Why does he look like an anime?
“Hoho, thanks for that!” Sharpblade charges towards the cleric while Lexi follows closely, hurling her fire dagger when she gets a clear shot. Snarling with rage, the dark cleric draws out his mace and meets the adventurers head on.

Sharpblade readily trades blows with the dark cleric. I was hoping to use Thelsikar’s Bleeding Touch on a living victim, but Lexi was happy enough to stay away and pepper the cleric with daggers. In the end, a final blow from Sharpblade smashes the cleric against the wall where he explodes into a mass of dark shadows with his dying scream.

With the death of the cleric, the Hold Person spell on Shalelu dissipates, and the elven huntress can move freely again. “Thank Desna that you came!” she says after she jumps off the dark altar.

The elven huntress seems to have learnt a lot in her captivity. “That foul being is, or was, Thelsikar, an evil cleric who worships Lamashtu, the goddess of monsters! He has somehow been given a vision from his dark goddess to create these black potions, which greatly enhances the strength and size of any creature which drinks it, but at the cost of turning them chaotically evil!”

I glance up at the kids who seem more interested in doodling on the map. “Hey, are you two listening!?”

“Yeah, dad. Black potions. Chaotic evil. Got it.”

“Huh. What’s the name of the evil cleric?”

“The what?”

“The guy you guys just… nevermind!” I shake my head, and continue my narrative. “Anyway, the EVIL CLERIC THELSIKAR has brewed up a new batch of these potions, and has sent it to Black Fang the black dragon! The dragon needs to drink them in the light of a full-moon. And the next full moon is in three days!”

Adventure Notes:
The beginners box adventure has the adventurers starting out not knowing what sort of creature Black Fang was – only that it had a very long black fang. By now, I didn’t see the point of concealing what Black Fang was from the kids – I mean, there’s a black dragon ON THE BOX COVER which Evan has continually pointed at and asked, “When are we going to fight THAT?”

Reviewing the session report, I think the kids are getting way too lucky with their rolls. It would have been interesting to have Sharpblade affected by the Hold Person spell, but that didn’t pan out. I’ll have to up the challenge rating on these encounters soon.

This session, I’ve given the kids a big hint over how Sharpblade can be healed with negative life energy that dark clerics use. I’ll let that stew in their heads for a while, and then propose some unorthodox suggestions in some future adventure. (Muahaha!) Suggestions welcome! devil

Plot hooks: Face Black Fang before the next full moon.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Pathfinder RPG: Session 16 - The Prison (Part1)

Lexi, Elven Rogue (played by Jojo, 10yo)
Sharpblade, Skeleton (Human) Fighter (played by Evan, 8yo)

The kids spend some time in Sandpoint upgrading their gear. It’s interesting to observe the spending habits of both kids - Evan spends all his recently earned dosh to get Puddlebug the gnome to enchant his Warhammer with Acid damage, while Jojo frets over the potential purchase of a +1 Chainmail before changing her mind and deciding to save her money.

There is no doubt who I’ll be bailing out on credit card expenses in the future.

I used the stats of the Acid Arrow spell and applied it to the Sharpblade’s warhammer.
“Just as you two emerge from Puddlebug’s shop, you both see Snoozy Bob the old cleric coming down the street."

"There you are!", he says. "Shalelu came around looking for you two yesterday but you were both away." Snoozy Bob explains that the elven huntress had gotten approval from the Sandpoint council to investigate rumours of an evil cleric inhabiting a nearby abandoned prison. "Apparently, this evil cleric has been obtaining ingredients to brew up some strange black potions…," finishes Snoozy Bob with a knowing nod.

“Where’s Shalelu now?” asks Jojo.

“Oh, she left town yesterday with a company of soldiers. She left a message for you if you turned up. Said that they’ll be heading across the nearby hills to where the old prison is.”

Adventure notes: 
The GM Guide in the Beginner Box provides a sample dungeon layout for an abandoned prison outside of Sandpoint called ‘Raven’s Watch’. It’s supposed to be a follow-on adventure from Black Fang’s dungeon, and aspiring GMs are given an evil cleric baddie with a motive, and encouraged to come up with their own adventure. 

Personally, I think the adventure progression is back-front. Why face the dragon in Black Fang’s dungeon BEFORE the Raven’s Watch adventure? So instead, I decided to use Raven’s Watch to set up the events leading to Black Fang’s dungeon, with the dragon encounter being the final big adventure climax.

Hope this works.

The two adventurers head out of town, following the directions left by Shalelu, and eventually find themselves on a old trail leading into the hills. After a couple of hours of hiking through the hills, I tell them that they smell something in the air.

“I can’t smell because I’m a..” begins Evan before I cut him off with a, “Yeah, yeah – Jojo, you smell something up ahead. Smells like… blood.”

“Pseudo flies forward and checks it out,” says Jojo immediately.

The little dragon wings his way up and sends a mental message, “Big fight happened over the hill!”

The two adventurers creep forward. “As you come over the hill, you see a bloody battlefield before you! There’s red and green blood on the ground, and some bodies of goblins and soldiers lying around. You can hardly recognise them because they’re so badly bashed up, but you do see that they are wearing Sandpoint guard armour. There are tracks everywhere, and in particular, you spot a large footprint in the muddy ground, much larger than what a goblin, or human, or orc foot-print looks like.”

The kids discuss this for a minute before asking if they could see Shalelu anywhere. I shake my head, “Nope, no sign of an elven body anywhere.”

Leading from the battlefield is a wide array of tracks heading further into the hills. The adventurers follow this cautiously, and eventually come to a large ruin on a hill. I tell the kids that there seems to be two ways to get into the ruins – either through the front entrance, or through a cave at the base of the hill.

The prison and cave entrance. Which way in?
 The kids decide to check out the cave entrance. I fill in the details. “At the base of the hill, you see the mouth of a dark cave with vines hanging loosely in front of it like a ragged curtain. On the wall next to the cave, you see crude writing that says, ‘Goblins rule! Ghouls drool’ with the final letter trailing off into the cave, as if something had grabbed the writer and dragged him off.”

Adventure Notes:
And yes, I admit I completely forgot that in Pathfinder, goblins can’t read or write because they think writing steals words from their heads. This goblin obviously learned to write in secret and aspired to be a famous children’s book author before becoming an unfortunate snack.

“What are ghouls?” asks Evan. I hold up the GM guide to show them what a ghoul looks like.

Preciousss!! Whoops, wrong adventure.
The adventurers creep into the cave, following the scrawl along the wall until they come to a severed goblin hand still holding on to a bit of charcoal.

“Dad, that’s gross,” blanches Jojo.

I shrug nonchalantly and proceed to draw out the rest of the cave. "There’s a cave chamber with a pool of water on the side, and a corridor going further in. It’s pretty dark in here, and you hear shuffling feet up ahead, coming from the corridor!”

The caves under the Prison
“I’m jumping into the pool!” declares Evan. “I can hide underwater because I don’t need to breathe!” Sharpblade lunges into the pool of water, only to find that it’s about hip deep. Unperturbed, he flattens himself down, like someone trying to hide in a kiddie pool.

Beware the kiddie pool!
Lexi readies her fire dagger, just as the source of the shuffling noise comes into view. It is, predictably, a ghoul, still munching on goblin remains. It sees the elven rogue, and snarls hungrily, its long tongue rolling down, before lunging forwards to attack.

I read from the GM Guide, “Ghouls are undead creatures that are always hungry. They also have a special clawing attack that paralyzes its victims!” I read on. “Oh. I didn't see this. It says that elves are immune to this.”

“I’m an elf,” reminds Jojo.

“And I’m a skeleton,” adds Evan brightly. “I’m immune too!”

Well, who could have thunk it? “Riiight. So it looks like no one is going to be paralyzed by ghouls today.”


Stupid small text.

The fight is over in a couple of rounds. The ghoul gets clipped by a thrown fire dagger, and then pummeled into the ground by Sharpblade who springs out of the cave pool from behind. His war hammer hisses with acid as the skeleton warrior lifts it from the ghoul’s motionless form.

After Lexi retrieves her fire dagger, the two adventurers proceed into the tunnel where the ghoul had come from. “The tunnel opens up into another chamber. Just as you guys arrive, you hear a scream, and someone is thrown down from a chute just near the cave ceiling! It’s a Sandpoint guard, and he’s all battered and bruised and tied up with rope! The guard crashes on the cave floor, and immediately, ghouls emerge from the sides of the chamber, hissing hungrily with their clawed hands stretched out like this!” I do an impressionable hiss and claw my hands at Jojo who smacks me away.

There are about six ghouls in this chamber, but that does not stop the adventurers from charging in to save the guard. The ghouls are surprised to see a few more living beings rushing in, and the nearest one to Sharpblade turns to attack him. “The ghoul snarls at you, it’s long tongue hanging out of its mouth! Harthssss!!”

Evan immediately says, “I grab his tongue and pull it!”

I think it’s a child-like skill to be able to role-play fights. With grown-ups, fights in RPGs tend to become “I attack. I roll. I hit.” repetitions. With the kids, I find it entertaining when they try something out of the ordinary. I hand Evan the d20 and say, “Well, that’s likely a Strength check to see if you grab its tongue and pull it.”

Evan rolls well. Sharpblade grabs the ghoul’s tongue and yanks it to the side where it crashes into the wall. “There’s another ghoul lurching out of the shadows towards you! It tries to claw you.” The ghoul makes a spectacular attack roll of 1. “And it crashes straight into the first ghoul whose tongue you grabbed when it bounces off the wall!”

I’d originally planned to see how the kids fared against the lone ghoul first before deciding on how many ghouls would be in this chamber. Really, ghouls are dangerous because of their special paralyzing attack, and given that the kids were immune to this (which was a surprise to me, I assure you!), I was pretty confident that six ghouls weren’t going to pose much of a problem.

Anyway things pan out pretty much as I expect, with the kids burning, electrocuting, smashing, cleaving and acid-burning the yowling undead creatures into a deader state. It got interesting when a couple of them attacked the tied up guard, but they did not manage to kill him off before the adventurers were upon them. After the last ghoul is dispatched, Lexi checks on the guard. “You recognise this guard! It’s Erik the guard!” Of course it’s Erik the guard.

Erik is still gibbering with fear as he describes what happened to the company of guard led by Shalelu. “The goblins ambushed us on the road! They knew we were coming! And they had ogres with them!” That explains the bigger footprints.

“Where’s Shalelu?” asks Lexi.

“She’s with their master, a dark cleric. He’s going to sacrifice her on his altar!”

Adventure Notes:
Yes, lots of railroading this adventure. But the kids seemed to enjoy the ride, and it certainly was fun making up all the silly details like the message scrawled on the wall.

Plot hooks: Save Shalelu from the evil cleric! Who tipped off the goblins!?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Episode 7 - Tokaido

Haven't done one of these video play-throughs for quite a while now! We play a recent family favourite - Tokaido!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Pathfinder RPG: Session 15 - The Deadly Mine

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

Jojo is full of questions about pseudodragons and how to take care of one. I told her that pseudodragons eat almost anything, from fish to insects to small birds. However, they particularly like cheese, so Jojo makes it a point to pick some up from Sandpoint when they get back. The dragon is just big enough to occupy part of her backpack, and so it spends most of the journey being carried inside while sticking its long neck out the lid and over Lexi’s shoulder so that it can see.

“What are you going to name it?” asks Evan.

We toss around a few ideas, but in the end, Jojo decides to call it simply ‘Pseudo’.

The group of adventurers and guards arrive back in Sandpoint without much fanfare. Shalelu the elven huntress heads off with the guards to report back to the Sandpoint council, while Lexi and Sharpblade head off the the Rusty Dragon. Ameiko, the Rusty Dragon proprietor, screams with girlish delight the moment she lays eyes on Pseudo and immediately conjures up some fresh fish and cheese cubes from the kitchen for the little dragon.

“Uh, I ask Ameiko if I can keep some of the cheese cubes for later,” says Jojo. She is slightly concerned that the over-enthusiastic tavern owner will over-feed the little dragon, which looks sluggishly full and content from all the food and attention.

“Sure, she can spare some,” I assure Jojo. “Free of charge too!” Giving free imaginary food is a GM perk.

The Rusty Dragon is a great place to catch up on current news, and the adventurers listen to a group of locals talking about the missing ship that was supposed to bring a famous singer to Sandpoint. “It be supposed to be callin’ port last week,” says a sailor while swigging from his mug of ale.

“Is he a pirate?” asks Evan curiously.

“Uh, no.” Don’t all sailors talk like that?

The other big news at the moment is that a group of adventurers have cleared out the spider’s den under the Old Light which Lexi and Sharpblade had discovered with Kyra and her pathfinders a few sessions ago.

Mother Spider looks like this. But about 3 times bigger.
“They WHAT?” exclaims Evan. He was hoping to get around to clearing that spider’s den himself.

“Yeah, the Sandpoint council hired this group of adventurers, and they went down and cleared it out,” I reply off-handedly. “You guys aren’t the only adventurers in town, you know. Anyway, they killed the mother spider, and brought up the carcass. Everyone agrees that this is the biggest Grey Spider killed for miles around, and this guy who runs the local Academy has requested for the carcass to be kept at the Academy for study and display.”

The kids decide that they should check on Fastidus to see if he has made any progress on his study of the glowing ore, but when they get to Fastidus’s house, they find no one home.  “Maybe he’s just out for a while?” says Jojo. The adventurers stick around and wait for the old wizard, but there is no sign of the wizard when night falls.

The next morning, there is a light knock on the door. Lexi answers it, and standing outside is the short figure of Clara the cleric from the Temple of Sarenrae. “Oh! You ARE here!” she says with some relief. “I was hoping to find you and Sharpblade, and was told that you might be here! There is someone at the Temple who has requested for you both!”

So Lexi and Sharpblade follow Clara back to the Temple. The timid cleric leads them straight to the Infirmary, and there, lying on a wooden bed, is the Iron Hammer. “The Iron Hammer looks pretty badly injured! He has nasty scratches all over, and his leg is bandaged and has a wooden splint wrapped against it. You arrive just in time to see him hollering angrily at a frightened-looking cleric, ‘GET YOUR PANSY HANDS OFF ME! I TOLD YOU, I DON’T WANT ANY OF YOUR SO-CALLED HEALING MAGIC!”

“Iron Hammer!” says Jojo. “What happened to you!?”

The Iron Hammer sees Lexi and Sharpblade and barks out in relief. “Hah! They finally found you two!” The dwarf takes some time to prop himself up before addressing the adventurers. “I told you that I was going to find where those traitorous dwarves went! Well, I found out from a nearby road-side tavern that they had just passed there recently, on the way to check out an old mine. It seems that they are going there to do some prospecting for gold! So they are at the old mine right now! I came back as fast as I could to tell you guys about it.”

“Great!” says Evan. “So why are you all banged up?”

The Iron Hammer looks a little sheepish. “Well, I was so excited to get back as soon as possible that I hired a horse. I’m not that good a rider, and… I fell off the horse on the way back.”

“Some passing folk found him unconscious in a road-side ditch,” supplies Clara. “It looks like he’s broken his leg, but he won’t let us heal it.”

At this, the Iron Hammer gets all riled up again. “DON’T YOU KNOW WHAT HEALING MAGIC DOES TO BROKEN BONES!?”

“Uhh.. it heals it?” says Jojo.

“Yes, but the new bone is SOFTER than the OLD ONE!” bellows the dwarf. “I’m not going to have my leg going soft on me! It’ll heal naturally all by itself, thank you very much!”

The adventurers think they see Clara roll her eyes. “That’s just a myth,” she says to the adventurers. “There’s no proof that healing magic softens bones or anything. It’s just a superstition that some dwarves have.”

“ARE YOU CALLING ME A LIAR!?” shouts the Iron Hammer.

It’s apparent to the kids by now that the Iron Hammer isn’t going to be travelling anywhere for some time. They bid the dwarf good-bye and promise to ’sort out those mangy dwarves at the mine’ as soon as possible.

Adventure Notes: If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’ve based this adventure off the Deadly Mine adventure, which is a free PDF for the Beginner Box from the ever-helpful Paizo site. Always up for some free adventuring content! Of course, I customised the plot hook to the adventure to suit this campaign, but the rest of it is the same. Well.. slightly the same. Oh yes, spoiler alert.

The kids decide to leave straight-away. I tell them that the journey to the road-side inn takes almost the whole day, and it is evening by the time they arrive. “Do you guys want to check out the inn?” I ask.

“No, let’s go straight to the mine,” they reply. So the adventurers by-pass the inn and follow the Iron Hammer’s directions to where the old mine is.

“It’s dark by the time you arrive at the mine. The entrance of the mine looks recently re-opened, and it looks dark and dingy.”

Deadly Mine Entrance
The adventurers cautiously enter the mine, and I describe the rock hewn walls of the entrance tunnel. When they get to the first intersection, I obediently read out from the adventure module, emphasis mine: “The rusty mine cart rails crisscross the floor in this area, leading west, north, east, and back south to the entrance. Dwarven boot prints are visible all over the dirt floor. The ground to the northeast was recently SCORCHED BY FIRE. A PATCH OF STONE on the northwest wall looks paler than the surrounding stone.”

Of course, my kids completely ignore the text and my emphasis. “Mmm.. let’s go east,” says Jojo.

“Umm.. you sure you don’t want to.. I don’t know, check out the scorch marks, or the patch of stone?”

“What patch of stone?”

I give up. Improvisation time. “You start to head off east, when suddenly Pseudo hisses warning. ‘…something outside! At the entrance!…’”

The adventurers cautiously back-track up the entrance tunnel and peer outside the mine entrance. “Outside in the dark, you see that a large figure is standing right outside the mine entrance! Lexi recognises the large shape! It’s the Earth Elemental that you met some time ago!”

Earth Elemental - friend or foe?
Delighted, but somewhat apprehensive, the elven rogue decides to head out and meet the Earth Elemental which is just standing there. “The Earth Elemental shifts as it sees you. It says in a gravelly voice, ‘Beware!’”

“You can talk!?” says Jojo surprised.

“Just barely,” I reply. “The earth elemental is hard to understand, but you eventually make out what it is saying. Apparently, there’s another earth elemental inside the mine. However, it is ‘Gold-sick’ and is extremely dangerous to anything it encounters.”

“Gold-sick, huh?” repeats Evan.

I nod. “It seems like the gold turns earth elementals.. sick. Hence, Gold-sick.”

“Right, dad.”

Apparently satisfied that it has delivered its warning, the earth elemental sinks down into the ground. The adventurers look at each other, and head back into the mine, following the east tunnel. “Some ways into the east tunnel, you see a short figure lying on the ground. It’s one of those three dwarves you’re looking for!”

This dwarf looks badly battered, and is unconscious. Jojo decides to wake him up with a Heal check, and she succeeds. The dwarf regains consciousness and looks surprised (and alarmed!) to see Lexi and Sharpblade. Nervously, he introduces himself as Grald, and says that he and his brothers were prospecting for gold further down the tunnel when they were attacked by a gold rock monster.

“That must be the gold-sick earth elemental,” says Jojo. “Pseudo, keep a close eye on him. If he tries anything, sting him.”

With that, the adventurers proceed deeper into the tunnel and eventually come to a cave-in. “Bits of rubble block the rest of this tunnel. On the ground, you see two more dwarves. One looks very dead, with his head smashed in. The other is badly beaten and unconscious, but still alive.”

Lexi moves closer to the unconscious dwarf and is about the perform another Heal check when there is a rumble of rock up ahead. “Rearing out of the tunnel floor is a huge earth elemental! There are streaks of gold running across its body, especially around its head and face! The creature snarls at you both and lunges forwards!”

Gold Elemental Lair
Sharpblade initiates the battle with three Magic Missiles which slam into the gold elemental as it charges forward. It hardly slows the creature down, however, and it pummels straight into Sharpblade with its flailing blocky fists. “Sharpblade is badly hurt! Another hit like that, you’re a goner!”

Lexi attacks with her fire daggers and although her daggers do little against the creature’s tough hide, the fire magic inflicts sufficient damage to make the creature snarl angrily. I remind Jojo that she should try flanking the creature to make good effect of her backstab ability.

Sharpblade gets a few blows in with his warhammer before a powerful backhand slams him off his feet and sends him crashing against the tunnel wall. “Sharpblade is down! That blow takes his HPs below zero!” Evan snorts in disgust.

Meanwhile, Lexi has manoeuvred herself into a good position and launches a flurry of dagger strikes. The creature snarls and tries to swing at her, but the nimble elven rogue ducks under and strikes again with her blades. “At last, the gold elemental staggers back, and before your very eyes, the creature crumbles into fragments of rock and dirt! As the rest of the creature disintegrates, you notice a smooth ball of stone rolling towards you.”

Lexi stops it with her foot and examines it. “It’s not completely a round ball - it looks slightly lumpy, like two ovals fused together at an angle.”

“Like butt-cheeks?” asks Evan, making Jojo giggle. Lexi decides to keep the strange rock before going to inspect the unconscious dwarf and her fallen companion. Before long, Sharpblade is back on his feet, and the dwarf (who introduces himself as Durn) is up also. They limp out towards where Grald and Pseudo are waiting, and soon the group is out of the mine.

“Lexi, in the distance, you see the familiar shape of the first earth elemental waiting for you.” The elven rogue makes her way to meet the creature. The earth elemental regards her and asks, “Do you have… his heart?”

“No, we have his butt,” says Evan cheekily before his sister shuts him up. Lexi offers the smooth stone to the earth elemental which nods in gratitude. “We will bury this, and in a hundred years, our brother will be with us again. Our thanks.” The creature sinks back into the ground. “In its place, you see a brownish-grey gem!” The elven rogue takes this before joining the others.

Grald squints at the gem in Lexi’s hand and says, “That’s an Elemental gem. They say that if you crush it, an elemental will be summoned. You must have done a great favour to your elemental friend!”

Favour of the Elemental
The kids ooo and ahh over the gem, and immediately resolve to collect more gems of different types of elementals. Jojo, in particular, wants to collect a water elemental gem which will almost certainly be blue.

It takes slightly longer to return to Sandpoint with the injured dwarves, but they finally make it to the Temple of Sarenrae. The Iron Hammer is shocked to see the two dwarves coming in with Lexi and Sharpblade and bellows angrily, “WHAT ARE THEY DOING HERE? THESE SCUM-SUCKING VERMIN SHOULD PAY FOR TRYING TO KILL US!”

“We have lost our brother,” replies Grald soberly. “We are truly sorry for what we have done. Perhaps we can make it up to you by sharing our findings with you of the gold seam we’ve discovered.”

“Gold, you say? Really?” says the Iron Hammer in an interested tone. He then shakes his head angrily, “No! I will demand a duel to satisfy my honour!”

“Well, you’re not duelling anyone with that broken leg of yours,” remarks Clara nearby with uncharacteristic firmness. “Anyway, these dwarves need some rest and attention, so we’re putting them in here.”


Adventure Notes:
It’s fun role-playing the Iron Hammer. I think every campaign needs a loud, abrasive dwarf.

And yes, the whole "healing-magic-phobia" thing was to get the kids to enter the mine without the Iron Hammer, who I felt would just get in the way anyway. Still, it worked out wonderfully, story-wise.

Plot hooks: Missing ship, Mother Spider defeated by other adventurers, Iron Hammer's duel

Friday, February 13, 2015

Pathfinder RPG: Session 14 - Heroes of Pig Valley

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

Adventure Notes:
Yes, yes, I know I'm behind on these reports! We went for a holiday last December, and I had grand plans to catch up with all the session reports by then, but did absolutely none of them :-p I'll probably be spending the rest of 2015 playing catch-up.

The adventurers head off to the Temple of Sarenrae, keen to find the three dwarves who left them for dead under the Old Light. Once they enter the Temple courtyard, they bump into Clara the timid cleric who is immensely surprised to see them. "Lexi! Sharpblade! Thank the goddess that you're all alive! We just got back ourselves not too long ago! Those three dwarves told us that-"

"Let me guess," says Jojo dryly. "They told you that we were dead, right?"

Well, can't blame me for being obvious. River of logical conclusions flowing down the path of least resistance and all that. "Why, yes! I'll let Snoozy Bob know that you all made it!" The cleric hurries off, and soon re-appears with Snoozy Bob in tow.

Evan asks, "Are those three dwarves still here?"

The old cleric shakes his head. "They left immediately once they collected their pay, which you deserve as well. Ah, here's Felix now. He handled the payments."

Felix is coming towards them, talking incessantly to an elderly cleric who doesn't seem to be paying him any attention. "And then, sir, after I destroyed the fire priest skeleton single-handedly, I decided that it was our duty to go clear out the rest of those- Hey! What are you guys doing here?"

"Breathing?" suggests Snoozy Bob. He turns to give a nod of respect to the other elderly cleric who nods in return. "Father Zantus, these are the other adventurers who accompanied us. We thought they perished under the Old Light, but thank the goddess, they made it out as well."

The GM Guide of the Beginner Box comes with a brief description of the denizens of Sandpoint, and refers to Father Abstalar Zantus as the head of the Temple of Sarenrae.  Introducing the kids to Shalelu the Elven Huntress seemed to be a hit, so I thought I’d give Father Zantus a go. I describe him and his station to the kids, but they don’t seem interested in the elderly, respectable cleric.

“Where could those dwarves have gone?” ponders Evan.

Looks like ‘petty revenge’ out-classes ‘meeting Temple Head Cleric’ any day.

Jojo thinks a bit. “I say to Iron Hammer, ‘You’re a dwarf, right? Like those other dwarves?’”

The Iron Hammer snorts. “Yes, but I will say that those traitorous, scum-suckers have dishonoured dwarves everywhere, and I am ashamed to be even associated with those low-life, dirt-crawling, mongrel-stinking-”

“Yes, yes,” interrupts Jojo hastily. “What I was asking was if there are any dwarf things going on, like a festival or something? Maybe we can find them there!”

The Iron Hammer shakes his head. “Unfortunately, nothing significant for a while." The dwarf thinks and then says, "Tell you what. I'll dig around to see if I can find out where they went. And once I find where they are, I'll come and let you know about it!"

So with that, the adventurers collect their reward from the Temple, and bid goodbye to the Iron Hammer as he heads off. Sharpblade and Lexi leave the Temple of Sarenrae, and once on the street, a familiar voice calls out to them. "Lexi! Sharpblade! I'm glad I found you!"

Shalelu approaches, waving a greeting at the two adventurers. "I've finally convinced the Sandpoint council to give me some men so that we can go track down those pig-snatching goblins and orcs! I'd be honoured if you both could join us!"

The kids like Shalelu, so it was soon agreed that they would join in on her expedition to rescue the pigs. “You see that the Sandpoint council has given Shalelu six guardsmen. And you recognise one of them! It’s Erik the guard, the one who Sharpblade defeated in the first round of the Fighting contest!” Yes, I do love repeat characters.

Erik again!
Evan says, “Ooo! I stare at Erik like this!” Sharpblade stares intimidatingly at Erik, who shifts uncomfortably in his armour before looking away. Evan snickers.

Soon, Shalelu is leading the group into the forest and on to one of her hidden paths. This time the journey takes almost three days. Occasionally, she’d pull out the orc talisman to give her some guidance before leading them off again. “At one point, she leads you all high-up along the tree-top branches of a very still, misty forest. You’re so high, you can’t even see the forest floor! Shalelu swiftly clambers along the branches and warns everyone not to fall off because there are things down on the forest floor which they’d rather not meet.” Evan is so inspired by this scene that he spends the next few minutes drawing his depiction of it.

The falling guy on the left is apparently Erik
On the third day, they find themselves in the foothills of the Devil’s Platter mountains. Shalelu brings them to top of a small cliff and points towards the entrance to a dark narrow valley. “The talisman is pointing to that.” The adventurers look, and they see that a ramshackle wooden gate about six feet tall has been erected at the entrance of the valley. At first it looks like there’s no one guarding the gate, but some keen observation reveals that there are four goblin helmets peeking over the top of the gate. They must be standing on a platform behind the gate.

Shalelu says, “I think we’ll need some details on what’s in that valley.” She walks off some distance, and makes a shrill bird call with her fingers against her mouth. Soon, the winged form of Binda, Shalelu’s large hawk companion, swoops down and lands next to her.

“That’s a Blue-banded Hawk!” exclaims Erik the guard in fright. “They are extremely wild and viciously dangerous!”

Jojo sighs. “I poke Erik with my dagger. The electric one.” Lexi proceeds to shock-prod Erik who yelps and jumps away.

When Shalelu finishes consulting with her hawk, Binda flies off again, and the elven huntress returns to the group. “That valley is actually a dead-end. There are several dwellings and tents inside with lots of orcs and goblins, and the pigs are penned up at the end of the valley.” I sketch this out for the kids to see.

Pig Valley
After some discussion, Shalelu comes up with a plan. “I’ll deal with the four goblins guarding the gate. Then, Lexi, you sneak in and open the pen with the pigs and get them to stampede out. That should take out a number of those goblins and orcs. When the rest run out, we'll attack them from here."

Some good dice rolls show that sneaking up to the gate proves no issue for Lexi. Once the elven rogue is creeping right next to the gate, Shalelu lifts her bow and smoothly fires four arrows one after the other. "You can hear the goblins chatting with each other. Then an arrow strikes a goblin off the platform. The other goblins blink in confusion and one turns to ask another "Where he go-?" before another arrow slams him off the platform too. Alarmed, the last two peek over the gate and both get an arrow in the eye. They fall off the gate."

"Nice shooting!" admires Jojo. The elven rogue easily vaults over the wooden gate. "On the other side, you spot several tents. No one has noticed you yet, but there are dozens of goblins and orcs walking around next to the campfire." Lexi creeps into the nearest tent. "It's full of smelly bedding. Fortunately, no one is in here."

I turn to Evan. "Meanwhile, you guys are lying in wait on top of a low grassy hill. Then one of the guards says, 'There's a group of orcs approaching!' Sure enough, in the distance, you can see a group of about a dozen orcs coming close. Shalelu hisses under her breath, 'We can't let them get to the gate before Lexi frees those pigs! They'll raise the alarm when they see those dead goblins!' Looks like we'll have to ambush them before they get too close!"

GM note: It's always important to make sure that everyone has a job to do.

Sharpblade and the rest of the guards immediately move off to set up an ambush for the approaching orcs. Back in the tent, Lexi slips out cautiously and enters another tent. “This tent is full of wooden crates. One of them is half-open.” The elf glances inside and sees vials of black potions. Jojo says, “I drink one!”

I raise an eyebrow. “Are you sure? Drinking unmarked potions usually is a very bad idea.”

Jojo re-considers her potion-quaffing, and prepares to slip out of the tent when I tell her, “You suddenly hear, no sense, something speaking to you in your mind! It says, ‘!…’”

Jojo looks at me suspiciously. “A voice? In my mind? Is this going to be my animal companion? Because if it turns out to be a pig, I’ll.. umm.. I really don’t want a pig animal companion!”

I shrug. “You sense that the owner of the voice seem to be trapped in a small closed box in the corner of the tent.” Lexi approaches the box and opens the lid.

Immediately, a small winged creature shoots up and out of the box! “You can hardly make it out; its wings are frantically fluttering about as it looks for a way out of the tent! It looks like a tiny dragon the size of a cat! There is a barb at the end of its long tail which is whipping about. “...Free!!...Free!!...” you hear it calling joyfully in your mind!”

Excited to see such a unique creature, Lexi rushes to the tent flap door and opens it. Immediately, the tiny dragon darts out of the tent and flies off into the air, vanishing from sight!

Evan laughs at Jojo’s dismayed face. “So much for that!” Meanwhile, Sharpblade and the guards have hidden themselves in the undergrowth. They can hear the company of orcs marching closer, and at a pre-arranged signal, Sharpblade and the guards burst out of their hiding spots to attack the surprised orcs. The skeleton fires his magic missiles at three orcs in front.

“Your first orc is completely surprised by the appearance of a large, armoured skeleton in front of him! He’s flat-footed, which means that you only need to roll a 10 or above to hit him on the first round.” Sharpblade smashes his axe into the orc before it can even raise its own blade. Enraged, and badly injured, the orc trades blows with Sharpblade, but eventually Sharpblade manages to sink his axe into the orc’s forehead.

I tell Evan, “Amazingly, even with its head smashed in, the foul creature is still flailing about!” The dying creature makes one last attack at Sharpblade before finally succumbing to its wounds. I show the kids the orc’s stat block from the GM Guide; orcs have an interesting ability called Ferocity, which gives them an extra attack after they get killed.

Nasty ability!
Meanwhile, Lexi has recovered from her experience of finding a mini-dragon, only to lose it moments later. The elven rogue sneaks out of her tent, slowly making her way closer to the pig enclosure. I get her to do some Stealth checks. “You sneak past several orcs and goblins standing around, and just as you reach the last tent, the flap opens up, and you find yourself face-to-face with a very surprised orc!”

Jojo mutters, “If I was trapped in a box and was rescued by someone, I’m sure I’ll re-pay that someone right about now!”

Sure enough, a small winged blur zips down from above, and the very surprised orc is even more surprised when it feels a sting across its face! As it tries to look at the rapidly retreating creature, it keels over and falls face-first on the muddy ground. “It doesn’t look dead - it’s just asleep,” I tell Jojo.

Unfortunately, the commotion has attracted the attention of some nearby goblins, and Lexi barely has time to creak open the pig enclosure gate and slip inside before those goblins come around to investigate. I describe the smelly enclosure full of grunting, squealing pigs, and tell her that she sees a stack of dirty straw at the other end of the enclosure. “Perhaps a fire would panic these pigs into a stampede?”

“Oh no!” exclaims Jojo. “I don’t have anything to start a fire with! No matches or anything!” Evan and I both stare at her as she scours through her backpack inventory. “I’ve got some rope, a bedroll, but no matches!”

I sigh. “Oh dear, it looks like you’ll have to fight off the horde of orcs and goblins all by yourself! What are you going to use to fight them? Maybe that FIRE dagger of yours?”

“My rapier is better,” replies Jojo absently.

“Hmm.. okay. But maybe your FIRE dagger can be useful too.”

“But I.. OOHHH!”

Lexi leaps over the squealing mass of wild pigs and lands next to the dirty pile of straw. Drawing her fire dagger, she strikes and sets the straw ablaze.

“Seeing the blaze, the pigs all run away in fright! Some of the larger ones smash open the enclosure’s gate, and the rest follow in a stampede! The goblins and orcs who came up to investigate why one of their comrades is lying face-down in the mud are completely bowled over of the squealing drove of rampaging pigs! You are left in the enclosure with a few pig stragglers.”

“I shock-prod some of them with my Electric dagger! Yee-haw!” says Jojo.

Back with Sharpblade and the guards, the battle with the orcs is barely over before they see the wooden gates at the valley entrance burst open with wild pigs, goblins and orcs streaming out! “There is a sudden commotion, and you see a very large orc charge out towards where you are. It’s an Orc boss!” I show them the pic from the GM Manual:

Evan says, “I charge towards him with my axe!” The skeleton warrior lunges towards the charging, bellowing orc! The two combatants close-in, orc howling, axe swinging, and I get Evan to roll for Initiative. He gets first strike, and rolls a natural 20! “HA HA!! YES!! CRITICAL HIT!”

The skeleton carves into the orc boss with his axe, and the howling creature tries to strike back, but fails miserably. Sharpblade does a spectacular spin, and lands another hit against the orc who defends weakly. A final blow smashes the orc boss a few feet into the air, before it falls on the dirt ground.

I pick up the d20. “Remember? Ferocity.” The orc boss makes a strike and manages to score a hit against Sharpblade’s side, before finally slumping over.

Lexi chases the remaining pigs out of the enclosure with her Shock daggers when she suddenly hears a massive bellow. “You turn to look at a large tent that has fallen down. There was a large cage in this tent, and breaking out of the cage is a huge, crazy-eyed wild boar! This thing is larger than any boar you’ve ever seen (about the size of a horse!), and it is clearly savagely insane. A saddle flaps loosely against its sides, and there are smashed black potions everywhere.”

I tripled the stats of this for the Mutant Boar
Jojo says, “Gosh, do the black potions do that to the pigs? Thank goodness I didn’t drink one earlier!”

Evan nods sagely, “That’s probably why the goblins are here. They train the boars for riding, and then use the potions to turn them big for the orcs to use.”

What a brilliant master-plan! Honestly, I just dumped the goblins and orcs together, and hadn’t bothered to reason out why. Yeap, claiming credit when the players give better plot explanations is what impromptu GMing is all about.

The huge boar snorts and charges at the elven rogue who leaps out of the way. Lexi does a half-spin somersault and lands behind the boar’s neck and stabs it maddened creature with her daggers. The boar bucks and manages to throw its small rider off, and Lexi lands on her side. “Suddenly, just as the boar prepares to charge at you, a winged blur zips down and stings the creature with its barbed tail! As the miniature dragon flies off, the boar shakes its head, as if trying to stay awake.”

Lexi takes the opportunity to draw her rapier and strikes at the beast again, getting her arm grazed in the process. The boar staggers around before the rogue ends the combat with a final slash. The boar collapses in its death-throes, and then is still.

“Whew!” says Jojo. The elven rogue wipes the sweat off her forehead.

I glance at the Boar’s stat block and notice something I’d missed earlier. “Oh! I forgot! The boar also has the Ferocity ability!”


In true not-quite-yet-dead-monster fashion, the monstrous boar suddenly thrashes around and attempts to chomp Lexi on the arm. Fortunately, the elven rogue’s lightning reflexes saves her as she skips back, barely inches away from the boar’s foam-dripping teeth.

“Just like in the movies,” I grin at Jojo as she glares back at me.

By now, most of the orcs and goblins are dead from arrows, guards or stampeding pigs. Lexi sees Shalelu and Sharpblade coming close. Just then though, a winged blur zips down and lands on Lexi’s back, scrambling to find some way to hang on. The miniature dragon pokes its head over the elven rogue’s shoulder. “...Friend!..”

Shalelu is smiling in delight as she approaches. “A pseudodragon! I’ve never seen one so close before!”

The little dragon tries to scramble onto Lexi’s shoulder, but finds itself too big to perch on it, so it ends up clinging onto Lexi’s backpack and staring over her shoulder.

Jojo laughs. “I saved it just now! What’s it called again? A pseu-what?”

Shalelu grins. “Looks like you found your animal companion! I’m happy for you, little sister!”

Adventure Notes:

Yes, so in typical doting fatherly fashion, I gave Jojo a pet dragon. Funnily enough, in real life, the kids have been pleading with us to get a dog. I wonder if giving Jojo an in-game pet dragon would keep her content for a while ;-)

That fight between Sharpblade and the Orc boss was truly epic. The boy couldn’t stop guffawing when he rolled the natural 20. And the fight between Lexi and the mutated boar mount was pretty intense too.

Plot hooks: Iron Hammer looking for those traitorous dwarves. Where are these black potions coming from?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Scotland Yard: Dad versus the Crazy, Psycho Serial Killers

I picked up an old copy of Scotland Yard from an Op Shop some time ago. I decided to teach my kids how to play it, so I brought it out one Sunday afternoon.

"In this game, you can be either one of two sides," I explain while setting up the board. "You can either be the tireless detectives from Scotland Yard, or you can be the crazy, psycho serial killer."

It wasn't hard for the kids to decide. After some dispute, eventually they both decide to play as a single player controlling the crazy, psycho serial killer.

I set up my detective pieces, and soon had the game going. By turn 3, I tell the kids that they have to place the marker on the board indicating where their first victim is. The kids felt that the sterile, transparent marker did not sufficiently convey the full extent of their crime, so they took some time to make their own crime scene marker:

Personally, I enjoy thinking out aloud and watching the expressions on the kids' faces as I deduce their possible movements. "Ah, so if you've taken a Taxi, that means you can either be here.." Giggles. "Or here.. " Muffled shrieks. "Or here..." Innocent stares.

Alas, the violent crimes and erratic random movements of the crazy, psycho serial killer was no match for the blood-hound-like aptitude of the Scotland Yard detectives, and the killer was apprehended around Turn 13.

They say that the mark of a great game is when it stands the test of time, and this definitely fits the bill. Perhaps I should try to track down a copy of Fury of Dracula, although I doubt I'll ever get a chance to play the vampire lord.