Friday, 9 October 2015

Self-indulgent retrospective!

A brief conversation at my Wednesday night D&D game inspired me to look up how long I've been running it. I checked the Facebook group we use for announcements and discovered that the group was created on Halloween in 2013. Since I know the group postdates the actual start of the game by at least a few weeks, I'm comfortable declaring that the game has now been going on for two years. Herewith, then, some nostalgia about it in the form of a recap and maybe, in the next post, some lessons-learned stuff.

One of the things you'll see if you're familiar with the OSR overall is that I swipe and repurpose a lot of things, including scenarios, monsters, placenames, etc., but without any real pattern. Also, I am not totally clear on the order of some of these scenarios.

Unnamed first scenario

In the dank depths of a dungeon in the coastal city of Kamor, four strangers awaken in a foul cell. Charming barbarian skald Eyvind, tough half-orc poacher Tag, confused priestess Frances and self-proclaimed artist of crime Felix must figure out how to get out of the jailhouse before the well-connected cult of Dagon claims them for human sacrifice. Tag proves exceptionally proficient with a brick in a sock.

Eyvind (haltingly): "excuse me, is this the embassy?"

After escaping from the dungeon, the four proceed to Frances' home village, where they discover a party of soldiers accompanying a cleric of Daoloth; the cleric is looking for a religious artefact which he believes Frances has stolen. It transpires that Frances is an exact match for Kastor Lieberrung Zenobia, Pirate Queen of the Thousand Isles! In a dramatic battle, our heroes and the villagers repel the cleric and his goons. The timely intervention of a horse is decisive. Horses in 3.5 are pretty tough!

Tomb of the Iron God!

(Based on the Swords and Wizardry module of the same name by Matt Finch, but much adapted to fit my game.)

A rumour of treasure in the ruins of a monastery attracts the team; they get chased around the place by a corrupt monk transformed into an iron statue, but are saved by the random treasure table that granted Felix a vial of concentrated rust monster digestive fluid.

The House of the Beast!

Together with new recruit Dexter, an itinerant potion salesman, the party are captured by a village of wereboars and thrown into an ancient ruin inhabited by psychic fungus, animated skeletons and a marauding party of little kobold bastards. Much eating of psychic fungus, grossout rot horror and brawling later, they emerge victorious, sabotaging the ancient customs of the beastfolk villages by impersonating a god using a big cloak, some low-level spells and an old skull they found. They also acquire their first hireling, unemployed weaver Albrecht, better known as Torchy.

Me: "Everyone in this party is a scoundrel except for Tag, who is a ruffian, and Frances, who is a weirdo."

The Fane of Chemosh!

An inept piece of bluffing by Felix lands the party in hot water with a local cult, who bully them into robbing a temple devoted to Chemosh the Destroyer, one of the Old Devils. The raid is successful, but Felix is killed by one of Chemosh's clerics! The cult round up the party with all the other riffraff and run them out of town; among the riffraff they encounter would-be fighting pit champion Ike Capstan, who joins up out of aimless necessity. This might also be where army deserter Ovgrod joins up as a hireling.

The Magonium Mine Murders!

A series of mysterious disappearances, a mob scheme to counterfeit important Imperial documents, the assassination of a mine official, a rigged prizefighting ring, and the schemes of a tribe of mole people all combine to make our heroes' lives a misery. Ike chases his dream of prizefighting glory while Dexter tries to help an old wizard-school buddy solve a murder. Tag kills a member of the sinister Veiled Society, thus earning their wrath for the whole party. Spoilers: the old wizard-school buddy did it. I enjoyed playing the mole men, who got to say things like "you lie! All surface-dwellers are the same!" Wannabe prizefighter and elf fangirl Karud joins up as a hireling.

Castle of the Hive Queen!

Staying off the main roads to avoid both the law and the mob, our heroes find themselves guests in a lonely castle under the sway of a mad wizard who wants them as specimens for his bizarre experiments. A big fight ends with the alien queen turned to stone; also, the party investigates a ruined Imperial fort and acquires a new follower in the shape of damaged Imperial war golem Mister Plow, who is convinced that Dexter is the Immortal Buffalo General.

The Bazaar of Ink / Galleries of the Nyctites!

Dexter asks the party to investigate a local bazaar where books and scrolls are on sale. While there, he falls in with a sinister bookseller who offers to teach him arcane secrets in exchange for rare volumes, while Tag agrees to escort a local bonehead on safari. The safari takes them into the mysterious Galleries of the Nyctites, where they discover strange magic and bizarre creatures and also Tag gets killed by a swarm of angry Nyctites after cutting down their leader. Death cleric Aznar Vartsson joins the party after being freed from his imprisonment in a magical painting.

Prison Colony #41 / Curse of the Volcano God!

Eager to end their feud with the Veiled Society, Eyvind agrees to a dangerous undercover mission: the party will infiltrate an Imperial prison colony on a remote island to find Jered Fowderhop, the Gentleman Thief and get him to reveal the location of the swag he is hiding from the Society. Dexter and Eyvind pretend to be new guards, while Aznar is hired as camp physician. Frances and Ike go to jail.

Investigating the mysterious goings-on at the prison colony reveals the workings of the Abyssal Brotherhood, an apocalyptic cult seeking to overthrow the Night-Black Cenacle and also reality. They have a volcano base. Fowderhop and escaped convict Knives join the party as followers, and former Brotherhood enforcer Zylphia Lockwood becomes a party member. Dexter's great-uncle dies, and he returns home for the reading of the will. Mister Plow is sad.

The Eye of Azathoth!

Both the Abyssal Brotherhood and the Veiled Society want the legendary Eye of Azathoth, a twin to the artefact Frances was in jail for having stolen. The party decide they don't want either of them to have it and set out to retrieve it themselves. Along the way Eyvind fights a werebear and Frances and Aznar bond over the idea of vampire-hunting. A deal with a hag leaves the party with a convincing duplicate of the Eye, which they fob off on Veiled Society representative Hugus Keech.

The Wreck of the Antelope!

Eyvind wants to buy a bigger pirate ship, but his pockets are a little short. Hugus Keech suggests a deal: salvage a cargo of fine liquor from the wreckage of a merchant vessel and that'll be enough to make up the difference. The search for the wreck leads them to a remote island inhabited by a tribe of frog people. In single combat with a particularly well-dressed frog-man, Eyvind becomes their king. Also, there are ancient ruins and mummies, and Aznar engages in sacrilege. Island shaman Kaia joins the party, together with her follower, mellow frog-guy Roark.

The Great Eye of Azathoth Heist, Part Two!

Returning to meet Keech, the party discovers that buyers from the Night-Black Cenacle are arriving to take the Eye from the Veiled Society. The experienced wizards of the Cenacle will instantly spot the fake and the party will be properly in the soup. They resolve to steal back the fake that they gave the society to cover up the fact that they already stole the original. All goes according to plan for the first minute or two, but then they realise that the Eye is rather more securely stored than they thought and also that the Brotherhood are trying to steal it at the same time!

Death Island of the Black Armada!

With their new pirate ship, the crew go looking for plunder. Kaia longs to be a bear, but she isn't completely clear on what one is. When they come to the rescue of some merchants, Eyvind invites them to set up shop on Frog Island. The merchants reply that they'll need an investment of 10,000 GP, approximately 10,000 more than the party have after buying the ship. Instead, they decide to raid the base of the privateers who robbed the merchants in the first place. The privateer fortress was once the headquarters of the now-vanished Iron Hawk Legion -- could there be some connection to the mysterious hawk amulet Kaia was found with? They fail to get all the money they need, but the privateer commander, impressed with their daring, offers them a huge reward to discover the legendary flagship of the Iron Hawk, which is said still to wander the seas under a terrible curse.

Down Among the Dead Men!

Still needing cash urgently, the crew decide to kill two birds with one stone by asking the prophetic Bell of Dagon where the Iron Hawk is and then subsequently robbing the temple of the offerings left by bell-consulters. This leads to a big eel-fight, but the crew escape with the gold and the undying animosity of the cult of Dagon, not that they didn't have that already.

Fate of the Iron Hawk!

The search for the Iron Hawk legion takes the crew into uncharted waters; arriving in the distant port of Mahran, they resolve to consult an enchantress who is said to know much of the Iron Hawk's history. However, a time-travel accident and Aznar's hatred of the undead mean that the island is suddenly under siege by the Legion itself! Having resolved that the Peerless Hawk General himself is probably an OK guy for a giant skeletal warrior, the crew concentrate on taking down curse-architect and lich Forenrond, then sending the General to the dimension where he can actually find the object of his quest and break the curse that keeps him undead. Aznar volunteers to go with him and the two depart. Jered Fowderhop gets a job offer from the enchantress (and possibly a more personal invitation from her majordomo Mustafa) and decides to remain behind, but he gives Eyvind the contact details for his nephew Reginald, a promising lad.

The Lockwood Legacy!

With Reginald Fowderhop, the Gentleman Assassin, added to the party, the crew head for scenic New Ejur, where they hope to find Zylphia's long-lost parents. Eyvind gets into a chess tournament in which all the pieces are on fire, while everyone else nourishes a growing hatred for civilisation and its inequalities. Mysterious assassins strike! Kaia turns into a giant bird and goes to the pub! Zylphia comes one step closer to her family! Reginald runs like mad from a dude with a detachable, throwable head!

Wow, that was long! Also needs more pictures.

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