Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Session Report – Barrowmaze – Session 6

[The glory of major loot - the agony of too much XP!  Also - Hirelings!]

[Also?  SPOILERS!  This series will spoil what’s in Barrowmaze, so take that into consideration before reading.]

Brock – male Dwarven Vaultguard, 2nd level
Radagast the Wanderer – male human Mage, exploring Barrow…you know the rest
Harkyn (the Hare) – gender fluid Elven Nightblade, 2nd level
Boris the Fighter – male human fighter, 2nd level
Kord – male human Bard, seeks tales of heroism to tell…and exploring Barrowmaze for the loot
Quillian the Green – male human mage, exploring Barrowmaze for the loot to establish a chantry [but mostly for the loot]

Norman – male human guide, hired to lead the adventurers to Barrowmaze but not fight
Chick-Magnet – female war dog (0-level), actually a male man-at-arms cursed into a different form
Peldar and Nollan – professional torchbearers
Cormak, Gilgar, Barloc, Aris, Radar, Wermak, Ardar, Pelwin, Darmox, Sturgard – The Diggers

Freysday, April 26, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
After some discussion, the group decided to spend a week in Helix recovering from their wounds and putting together a group of diggers to excavate those barrows whose entrances are buried.  They also want to hire two torchbearers, one specifically for Quillian [who now only has one hand and cannot cast and hold a torch at the same time].  To get the word out, they spent 10 gp on notices in Helix, Ironguard Motte, and Bogtown and to have town criers make announcements each Noon in the town square [per the Meatshields random hireling generator] .  They rented a table in the Brazen Strumpet and waited for applicants.

A side effect of this was that Tripp named the adventuring group.  Onund the Lion, the town crier, asked which adventuring company petitioners should ask for and Tripp, caught on the spot, said, “The Motley Crew.”

Brock and Boris paid for the medical attention of Eldrim Bronzeshield, Wandering Physiker, for treatment of their wounds to speed up the process.

Yggsday, April 27, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The Motley Crew signed on four diggers and two torchbearers for a May 3rd expedition.

Boris is now completely healed from his wounds.

Sunday, April 28, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The Motley Crew signed on three diggers for a May 3rd expedition.

Moonday, April 29, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The Motley Crew signed on three diggers for a May 3rd expedition.  This made the full complement of 10 they had set out to hire.

The Boon Companions head out to the Barrowmaze with three hirelings.  They do not return that night.

Hernesday, April 30, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
Brock finished healing from his wounds.

Freysday, May 3, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
Early in the morning, The Motley Crew and their 14 hirelings meet up in front of the Mercenary Guild and then head south, into the Barrowmoor.

Two hours into the march, the group is confronted by the bedraggled remains of the Boon Companions.  Brule Armstrong’s platemail breast plate is askew and has the noticeable imprint of the knuckles of a large stone fist distorting it.  None of the hirelings are in sight.  Sly the Medium accuses Harkyn of setting a trap for them.  The Boon Companions fled from the animated statues, which gave chase into the moors, dogging them for the last two days.  The Boon Companions finally lost the statues the previous day, but were lost themselves.  Norman politely points in the direction they need to go.

The Motley Crew arrived at the field of barrows an hour before Noon.  They selected Barrow 9 as the first to uncover.  Even with 10 diggers, it took six hours to uncover the entrance.  With the sun low on the horizon, the group decides to head back and get the diggers safely home.  The adventurers can return the next day and explore without the diggers.

On the way back, the group ran into a group of seven trolls.  Not wanting any part of that, the group fled.  They failed to break off contact with the trolls until they extinguished all their lights and hid.  The trolls walked past and failed to spot anyone.  [The players failed their Evasion roll, but the trolls completely failed their roll to catch up.]  Once no one could hear the trolls anymore, the group resumed their hike back to Helix.  By the time they returned, the diggers were in better spirits and traded stories with the other townsfolk for free drinks the rest of the night.

Yggsday, May 4, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The Motley Crew reassembled at the Mercenary Guild in the morning, along with Norman, Chick-Magnet, Peldar, and Nollan.  The much smaller group headed south again.  Along the way, they spotted a pair of axebeaks and evaded them.  [ACKS does not seem to have stats for these creatures, which is a shame.  If anyone knows where I can find them, please leave a message in the comments section.  Thanks!]

At the barrow field again, Boris was set to smashing the sealing stone.  The stairs down were steep, so Tripp lit a torch and threw it down into the barrow.  This tricked a giant centipede into dropping from the ceiling.  The group carefully descended into the barrow and found more centipedes on the ceiling.  Kord cast sleep on them and then Brock and Boris went about killing the sleeping centipedes.

Once all the centipedes were dead, they group discovered that the only things of note in the chamber were four sarcophagi.  The group carefully pried up the lids and looted the four sarcophagi, gathering some gold jewelry, an ivory comb, and a bone-handled dagger.  All of that went into the loot bag.

The group then had a discussion about going back to Barrow 19 to see if the animated statues were gone or had returned.  They eventually decided to check and approached the barrow with much trepidation.  In the main chamber they found the body of one of the hirelings the Boon Companions had taken with them.  There were also a set of bloody footprints from the body heading to the stairs out.  

The group cautiously moved into position to see through the now open secret door and into the room that once contained the animated statues.  All they saw was the statue base and the statue of the elven warrior.  No sign of the animated lizardmen statues.

Feeling a little more secure [if not actually safe], the group entered the room behind the secret door.  The bodies of Hyles the Young and Marcus the Black were still where they fell, now covered in insects feeding off their dead flesh.  Harkyn carefully retrieved Marcus’ coin purse and transferred its contents to the loot bag.

Opening the wooden door out of the room, the group found steep stairs down to a room knee-deep with brown water.  They cautiously descended the stairs, concerned they had found another entrance to the dungeon below the barrows.  The quickly realized these steps did not descend far enough to reach the Barrowmaze itself.  The room at the bottom of the stairs contained a stone slab with the withered remains of an elf laid to rest on it, still covered in a tattered green shroud.  On the slab next to the corpse’s feet were a pair of boots in excellent condition.  The boots were retrieved and examined [sadly, my notes don’t say by who].  Radagast was able to verify these were clearly Boots of Elvin Kind.  They are also the boots worn by the elf warrior in the statue, confirming who was laid to rest on the slab.  After some discussion, they were given to Harkyn.

The adventurers quickly left that barrow to avoid tempting fate any further and made their way over to Barrow 30 [after 29 was discovered to be another covered mound].  After 20 vigorous minutes, Boris had the sealing stone smashed, exposing the stairs down under the barrow.

The walls of the first room were carved in bas relief, depicting Impurax, the elder God of Rot and Pestilence.  Stairs led deeper on either side of the chamber, the stairs on the left ending at a door, the stairs to the right a hallway.  The group followed the hallway, deciding to leave the door alone for the moment.  The hallway split and they could see a door at the end either way.  Already following a right-handed path, they went right again.  They were rewarded with a 50 ft by 20 ft library, full of scrolls and tomes dedicated to the worship of Impurax.

Realizing that searching through the library for valuable items was going to be time consuming and wanting to explore further, Quillian returned to the surface and asked Norman if he would be willing to start going through the library for a 10 gp fee.  Norman asked if the barrow was cleared.  The adventurers admitted there was another door on this side they hadn’t checked yet.  Norman stated that once that door and whatever was behind it had been cleared, he’d start searching the library for 10 gp.

Returning to the barrow, the group opened the door in question.  Beyond was a circular room with a standing sarcophagus surrounded by funerary baskets and urns.  The adventurers had developed a theory that standing sarcophagi were done so that whatever was inside could get out easier.  So before Boris opened the sarcophagus, they all readied their weapons.  Inside was a barrow wight, which attacked the adventurers, but went down surprisingly quickly.  [And completely failed to drive anyone insane or actually hit.  Very disappointing from a GM perspective – the players were, of course, relieved.]

The adventurers quickly verified there were no other exits and Quillian went to get Norman and escort him to the library.  The rest of the group looted the room, finding three valuable amphorae and a scroll case with 4 clerical spells of high level [one 3rd level spell, two 4th, and one 5th!].  With no clerics in the group, the adventurers nearly drooled at the amount they would be able to sell the scrolls for.

Once Quillian was back [and Norman was searching the library], the group went to the other side of the barrow, where the stairs ended in a door.  Beyond that door was a hallway that curved off to the left and a door on the immediate right.  Again deciding to let closed doors stay closed, they followed the hallway to a preparation room with shelves lined with hundreds of jars, bottles, and ointments.  They spent 20 minutes searching the jars and were rewarded with Ointment of Healing (4 doses), Dust of Disappearance (3 uses), and Dust of Sneezing and Choking (2 uses).  [There was also Incense of Meditation (4 sticks), but I have no rules for that in ACKS, so it became just some incense that was still aromatic.]

Going back to the door, the adventurers found the final room of this barrow.  The chamber contained four mummies on stone slabs.  Adjacent to each mummy was a bowl with a handful of platinum pieces.  Suspecting a trap, Brock borrowed rope from Boris and Radagast and tied up the mummies, which did not react.  Then Harkyn scooped up the platinum pieces from each bowl, directly into the loot bag.  With the mummies still non-responsive, Brock untied them and gave the ropes back to Boris and Radagast.  [Remember that – I’ll bring it up at the beginning of Session 7 once I had a chance to read up on Mummy Rot. ;) ]

The adventurers went back to collect Norman for the trip back to town.  Norman turned over two holy writs he had discovered in the piles and piles of scrolls he had searched.  He had cleared a ten-foot stretch of shelves, so only…100 feet more to go?  Realizing there was no way to search the rest before they needed to leave the area, the adventurers left the barrow, carefully closing what doors they could behind them.

On the hike back to Helix the group spotted another hunting party of froglings.  The froglings noticed the group, but seemed indifferent to their presence, so the adventurers kept marching and the froglings did the same.

Back in town, the adventurers sold their loot and split up Marcus’ money, providing each adventurer with a very tidy sum.

End of Session

[The entire party leveled off the loot from this run.  Two of the characters lost XP to avoid leveling twice, per the ACKS rules.  Kord lost 1400 XP due to this and his player was very bummed.  He also rolled a 1 for his hit points for level 2, giving him a grand total of 2 hit points at 2nd level.  Clearly insult to injury.]

[The new contract gig has long hours on top of an hour commute each way, cutting heavily into my free time.  I get every other Friday off, so there is some benefit to it, but getting started has been rough.  This is not a new thing for me, but it is always tiring while getting used to a new schedule.  I'm going to spend this weekend getting as many sessions of the Shadowrun game typed up plus yesterday's Barrowmaze session.  This will reduce the pressure while this gig lasts.  Hopefully I'll have a full-time job by then or a gig with less commute.]

[I was pressed for time, so I didn't get to do a solid edit on this.  I'll get that done later this week as well as inserting the links to the other sessions.  My apologies for whatever typos snuck in a s a result.]

Session 1
Session 2
Session 3
Session 4
Session 5

Session 7 [Not yet written]

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Session Report – Code Name: Parrot T-Rex – Session 9 - Delayed 1 Week

UPDATE: Starting my new contract work has eaten up even more time than anticipated.  I'm working longer hours and that combined with travel times to the site and the need to get up very early means I have less time in the evenings to take care of errands and keep looking for a permanent job.  I need to delay this entry until Thursday, May 24th.  I'm working to keep up the schedule for the Barrowmaze session notes.  This coming weekend is Memorial Day weekend, a 3-day holiday in the US, and I will have time to catch up better.  I want to get ahead of schedule on the Shadowrun sessions so I don't have to skip a week again and this weekend will help.  Plus, I've finished rebuilding my business wardrobe, so I won't have to dedicate any more blocks of time for that.

Good news and bad news.

The good news is that I’ve finally starting a contract tech writing job today (May 16), relieving one source of stress from my life (no work).  There are also other, full-time employment opportunities (as opposed to contract work) appearing on the horizon, that will relieve a different source of stress once a job offer is made (having to scramble for work).  This is awesome and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities appearing before me.

The bad news is that these have taken up a huge amount of my time this week and, as a result, the write-up of Session 9 of Code Name: Parrot T-Rex is not yet finished.  Therefore, it will be delayed one day and go live on Friday (May 18).  I apologize for the delay, but paying bills has priority over hobby writing (until I can work out how to get this to pay).

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Session Report – Barrowmaze – Session 5

[The players are starting to get more cautious  they are closing in on leveling and don’t want to die just short of their goal.  I think they are starting to get the correct level paranoia for their environs.]

[Also?  SPOILERS!  This series will spoil what’s in Barrowmaze, so take that into consideration before reading.]

Brock – male Dwarven Vaultguard, 2nd level
Harkyn (the Hare) – gender fluid Elven Nightblade, 2nd level [the nickname is GM-granted, but seems appropriate]
Boris the Fighter – male human fighter, carries a big axe, exploring Barrowmaze for the loot
Jersen the Frail – male human cleric of Herne the Hunter [you know why he’s here]
Quillian the Green – male human mage, exploring Barrowmaze for the loot to establish a chantry [but mostly for the loot]

Norman – male human guide, hired to lead the adventurers to Barrowmaze but not fight
Chick-Magnet – female war dog (0-level), actually a male man-at-arms cursed into a different form

April 20-21, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
Harkyn and Chick-Magnet spent a day each getting treated for their centipede poisoning by Eldgrim Bronzeshield, traveling physiker.  Eldgrim travels to Helix during adventuring season and rents a cottage.  Once adventuring season is over [usually in September when the rains start becoming more regular and heavy], Eldgrim packs up and heads back to the town he normally lives in as the locals in Helix really cannot afford his services.

During the same time, Quillian looked into purchasing or building a cottage in the area for disabled members of the group to rest in while healing up [or waiting for the group to gather enough money to get a Restore Life and Limb Cast].  It would also be a place for Quillian to stay when in town without renting a room.  Having retired adventurers there as security would be a pleasant bonus.  Honestly.

After Harkyn and Chick-Magnet were cured, the group discussed waiting two more days for Brock to return.  Having a Vaultguard in a group that was becoming spellcaster heavy had value and the group decided to wait two more days.  They let Norman and Chick-Magnet know to be ready on the 24th.

The Boon Companions [a rival adventuring party] took every opportunity during this time to disparage the player characters and their inability to maintain a stable roster.  To get back at the Boon Companions, Harkyn and Tripp [who was still on the retired roster] took to discussing Barrow 19 and the treasures found there out loud, near the Boon Companions, but not at them.  Harkyn mentioned to Tripp that the exploration was incomplete as there were areas behind the secret door not explored.  Harkyn did not bring up the three animated statues behind that secret door nor why the group had stopped exploring it.  They did mention they were waiting for Brock to return on the 23rd so he could share in the looting.

Hernesday, April 23, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The Boon Companions were observed heading south into the Barrowmoor in the morning.

Late in the afternoon, Brock arrived in Helix along with a cluster of other travelers from Ironguard Motte.  Brock introduced Boris the Fighter, a fellow adventurer who was interested in adventuring into the Barrowmoor for loot.  An extra combatant was welcome.  The group spent the evening bringing Brock up to speed on what had happened over the two weeks of his convalescence.

Magusday, April 24, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
Picking up Norman and Chick-Magnet at the Mercenaries Guild, the group headed south, into the Barrowmoor.  [We were running a bit behind, so I skipped the encounter on the way in.]

Arriving at the field of barrows, the group made their way over to Barrow 21.  It was completely covered in soil and plants.  Instead of digging, they climbed up on top and scouted out what other barrows were nearby.  They discovered that the map they had been using was not so accurate on this side.  There were barrows not on the map and some of those on the map were clearly in the wrong place.  The group took the time to update and add to their map.

The group marched over to Barrow 18 and found it long open to the air.  They started down the stairs to investigate and discovered that the main chamber was covered in peat-colored water up to a human’s waist.  They lit Quillian’s lantern to see if there was any obvious reason to explore any further.  There did not appear to be.  Not liking the look of the water, or what might be under its surface, they decided to move on.

The next mound [#17] was completely covered.  This was the fourth mound discovered that needed digging to get to and the group finally decided that the next time they returned, they’d hire diggers to quickly clear the entrances.  As that was not going to be now, they continued walking over to the next mound to the north.

This mound had a sealing stone.  Boris, being new to the group, was given the job of smashing it open.  The noise from his efforts drew the attention of five giant toads [possibly from Barrow 18].  The adventurers noticed their approach and formed up into a battle line to face the toads.  Harkyn and Brock fired arrows at the same toad, clearly doing a great deal of damage, but it just seemed to anger the bull toad.  The next volley of arrows completely missed, and then melee started.  The smallest of the toads used its tongue to pull Chick-Magnet to it and tried to bite Chick-Magnet.  Chick-Magnet wasn’t having any of it and laid into the toad with his bite, quickly dispatching the toad.

Boris killed the toad with the arrows in it, but two other toads hopped up and attacked Quillian and Jersen, dropping the two spellcasters.  Brock moved in to attack and missed.  That toad opened wide and swallowed Brock in return, while Boris and Harkyn killed the other two toads.  Brock cut his way out of the offending toad, killing it in the process.

With the fight over, Harkyn rushed over to Jersen and gave Jersen their sole healing potion.  This revived Jersen, but it was not enough to save one of his arms.  Jersen used his healing arts to stabilize Quillian, but was unable to save Quillian’s right hand.  [This led to me observing, “Avoid rolling a 3 on the d6 on the Mortality Table.  It’s nothing but lost arms, hands, or fingers.”]

After resting, the group entered Barrow 16.  They found a sword displayed on a podium in a room with six armed and armored skeletons propped up in wall niches.  Recognizing a trap when they saw one, the group pounded the skeletons to splinters before even touching the sword.  The sword turned out to be magical and was scooped into the loot bag for later resale, as were the spears and shields from the skeletons.

Harkyn spent some time looking over the chamber for secret doors.  They did not find a secret door, but they did find the brick wall in one of the niches sounded hollow [made two detect secret door rolls, back to back].  Boris used the sledge hammer and pounded the brick wall.  He almost immediately broke through the bricks, exposing a staircase leading down.

Forming up a new marching order, the group descended below the barrow.  The stairs ended at a t-intersection.  There was a door close to the right, ending the hallway in that direction.  To the left was a side passage and another door before the light failed to illuminate any further.  Normally, the group would have gone left, but with a lone door to the right, immediately by the stairs, they went right.

The door opened into a large room lined with burial alcoves.  There was a passage and a partially open door on the right wall.  The walls dripped with moisture from the moors above, with calcification apparent on many of the alcove occupants, seven of which animated and started climbing out of the alcoves.

The adventurers formed up in the doorway, with Boris and Brock blocking the skeletons from going any further, plus limiting the number of skeletons attacking to two at a time.  This was enough as the fossil skeletons were much tougher than normal skeletons.  Boris took a major hit and stepped back, Jersen stepping up with his shield to hold the line.  It wasn’t enough and Jersen went down in the next round.  Harkyn was able to drop one of the skeletons with two arrows, but the one Brock was fighting was tougher and kept fighting after suffering the same amount of damage.  When Chick-Magnet went down the following round, the group went into full retreat, slowing only to grab Chick-Magnet’s body [it was more portable than Jersen’s].

Fleeing through the Barrowmoor, the group ran across two giant toads.  Harkyn and Brock took them down quickly, Brock claiming his new knowledge of toad anatomy made it easy.  [He rolled two natural 20s in back to back attacks, flat out killing one toad and finishing off the second one.]

Back in Helix, Chick-Magnet and Brock received the last two castings of cure light wounds available at the Shrine of St. Ygg that day.  Chick-Magnet ended up losing a tooth to the experience, but was otherwise ready to go back out.

Cromsday, April 25, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The loot was sold off and the proceeds split amongst the party.  [Boris leveled, and Quillian and Brock each ended within 200 xp of leveling (2nd for Quillian, 3rd for Brock).  Both are now highly motivated to survive the next outing.]

End of Session

[So the party has discovered and used three different entrances to the Barrowmaze at this point.  They are not confident in their readiness to explore the dungeon under the barrows yet.  Each time they’ve gone one room in, got their noses bloodied, and fled.  They are close to all being 2nd level (or higher), and the additional hit points that grants will boost their confidence.  The players are enjoying the game so far, as am I.  I have some technical nitpicks about the PDF, but Barrowmaze really does run “out of the box” – I’m well pleased with the money spent purchasing the PDF.]

[The Roll of the Dead now consists of the following:

  • Brother Thaddeus, Jersen the Frail (same player)
  • Hyles (also Tripp's player, who is retired after taking a pterodactyl to the knee)
  • Marcus the Black
I've been giving some thought about issuing Death Certificates for those characters lost, but it seems a bit too adversarial.  I also decided that new characters entering the game do so with the lowest experience of the group, not including Radagast who has only made 2 sessions so far.  This is currently Tunrock at 1007 xp.  Tunrock is the back up character for Brock, so that player has to make difficult decisions about which character to play for each session.]

Session 1
Session 2
Session 3
Session 4

Session 6 [Not yet written]

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Session Report – Code Name: Parrot T-Rex – Session 8

[This session happened July 24th, 2017, and was run by New GM.  The gap between this session and the last one was due to scheduling conflicts for different people.  My notes are kind of sketchy because Prometheus wasn’t directly involved, so this write-up is a bit thin.]

Baelthor – male human mage with a loud mouth
Killroy – male human street samurai, specializes in hand-to-hand combat (and apparently machineguns)
Void – female night elf physical adept B&E specialist, a shadow that blends in easily
Sin – male human rigger, knows exactly the wrong thing to say and says it
Wren – male human that registers as an elf, no explanation as to why
Prometheus – male human street samurai, handy with any firearm

Bookie – male elf alcoholic hacker, favors whiskey with a whiskey chaser
The Fin – female human con artist and gambler from India, by way of Russia, posh and elegant
Dai – male human fixer who operates in Cara’Sir, recommended by The Fin

July 4, 2076
With a solid physical plan, at least for grabbing the biosamples and prepping for the datarun/firebombing portion, the group decided that some magical scouting was in order.  Baelthor and Wren Astrally projected over to the New Horizons Technologies campus and started reviewing the magical defenses.

They discovered that the roof access hatches on Buildings A and C had wards on them.  The access hatch on Building A had a simple Alarm ward on it, but the access hatch on Building C had an Alarm ward AND a Fire Trap.  As the infiltration team will have improved invisibility on them when entering the building, foreknowledge of the wards was going to be vital.  Avoiding the fire trap was also going to be important, but not as much as NOT alerting the mages on security detail at the campus.

While scouting, Baelthor and Wren also noticed three other mages scouting the area.  One was an elf shaman, who assensed lower in power that either Baelthor or Wren.  [As both of them had a Magic Rating of 7, this was not necessarily saying much, but the estimate was that the elf shaman had a Magic Rating of 5.]  The other two were a pair of elves, possibly twins, working in tandem.  The pair of elves assensed as one of equal power and one of higher power!  As all three of the elves were being cautious and stealthy, it was highly likely they were from the competing teams and the first sign of their involvement.

Suddenly, the clock was ticking!

Once Baelthor and Wren reported back their observations, the team started brainstorming ways to bypass the magical security.  One option discussed was going after the security mages.  Possibilities ranged from bribery to not report intrusions to hitting them with vomit gas so they think they’re sick to knocking them out with NeuroStun.  Killing them would be counter-productive as it would put security on high alert and make grabbing the targets much more difficult.  We needed more information on the mages, so was asked Bookie to gather intel on them from the Matrix.  Depending on what he found out, we could start the biosamples grab as early as the next night.

End of Sessions

[This session took longer to roleplay than it took to read or write the session notes, and that’s my fault.  I’ll be honest here: the magic aspects of Shadowrun are my least favorite parts, so I tend to tune out when the magic-heavy characters are doing their thing.  I learned enough so I could run the game as a GM, but the runs I put together are magic light compared to those run by the Other GM or New GM.  When I’m playing, I focus on the hardware and planning aspects, trusting the magic-heavy characters to know their stuff and let me know where the boundaries are.  So far, that’s worked.]

[You might notice in the links below that Hurricane Harvey is listed.  There won’t be separate entry for Harvey, but it will effect the course of the run and cause a noticeable gap between sessions.  I’ll talk about it more later and link to the posting I did at the time it happened.]

Session 9 (not yet written)
Hurricane Harvey!
Session 10 (not yet written)
Session 11 (not yet written)
Session 12 (not yet written)
Session 13 (not yet written)
Session 14 (not yet written)

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Session Report – Barrowmaze – Session 4

[This session the players hopefully learned that acting out their characters actions means that is what their character is doing right then.  Also, patience is a virtue.]

[Also?  SPOILERS!  This series will spoil what’s in Barrowmaze, so take that into consideration before reading.]

Tunrock Shadowfury – male-ish Elven Spellsword [he’s an elf – what do you want?], exploring Barrowmaze for the loot
Jersen the Frail – male human cleric of Herne the Hunter [you know why he’s here]
Radagast the Wanderer – male human Mage, exploring Barrow…you know the rest
Hyles the Young – male human fighter, exploring Barrowmaze for the loot
Harkyn – gender fluid Elven Nightblade, 2nd level
Marcus the Black, of House Dunsmore – male human Assassin, seeking wealth to restore his family lands to his family [Read: “exploring Barrowmaze for the loot”]

Norman – male human guide, hired to lead the adventurers to Barrowmaze but not fight
Chick-Magnet – female war dog (0-level), actually a male man-at-arms cursed into a different form

Cromsday, April 18, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The group decided to spend a week in Helix so Harkyn could learn the Shield spell from the scroll they bought in Ironguard Motte.  Marcus made a deal with Tripp: when Marcus had the coin, he would pay to have Tripp’s knee restored, but Tripp would owe Marcus a major favor.  Tripp agreed to this as otherwise his adventuring career was effectively over.  Radagast and Tunrock talked and realized they each had a spell the other wanted and spent the week swapping Read Lead Languages for Light between each other.  After spending the week in Helix, the group re-hired Norman and Chick Magnet for another expedition into the Barrowmoor.

Hiking through the quiet but now somewhat familiar Barrowmoor, the group spotted a cluster of 7 zombies wandering the moors.  The group quickly agreed to avoid the zombies and evaded them.

Once arrived at the field of barrows, the group selected the next available barrow to investigate [#10].  Hyles borrowed Radagast’s sledgehammer and spent the next 20 minutes smashing through the stone seal.  Inside was a simple tomb with a wooden funerary casket in the shape of a man resting on a dais in the center of the chamber under the mound.  The adventurers checked the ceiling before entering the chamber and searching for secret doors [none of the current group have the ability to detect traps without doing it the hard way].  The only thing located was a set of eight amphorae mounted on the walls, depicting life in an ancient village near the moor.  They were fragile, so the group decided to leave them here and retrieve them later.

Looking around from this mound, the group noticed that the next closest mound was not actually on their map.  Intrigued, they decide to investigate that one next.  [This is Barrow #19.]  Once again Hyles did the hard work of smashing the stone seal.  Just as he finished breaking open the barrow, a small group of three skeletons wandered up.  Harkyn and Marcus tag-teamed one of the skeletons, destroying it, before Jersen the Frail called upon the power of Herne to send the last two skeletons fleeing.

The group descended into the barrow, leaving Norman as a lookout on the surface.  The central chamber had three corridors leading away…and a secret door right beside the stairs that both Harkyn and Tunrock immediately noticed.  While the rest of the group puzzled out how to safely open the secret door, Hyles the Young checked the three passages out of the room.  The one on the left dead-ended, the one across from the stairs narrowed to only five feet before turning, and the one on the right ended with a metal-bound wooden door.

About this time, Norman came running down the stairs and reported that the two skeletons had returned.  The group quickly destroyed them.  They then turned back to the secret door and opened it.  Behind the secret door was a small room with a low altar.  On the altar was a funerary box containing bones and a silver ring with inset diamonds.  The group added the ring to the treasure sack, replaced and closed the funerary box, and closed the secret door.

The group decided to check the narrow passage next, but it dead-ended just around the corner.  The elves could not locate a secret door here, so they went back to the central chamber and checked the dead end to the left of the stairs.  This, of course, held a secret door.  Behind this secret door was a large chamber with an equally large statue depicting an elf warrior fighting three lizardmen.  The figures were life-sized and the elf’s sword glowed, lighting the room as if it were a torch.  There was a metal-bound wooden door on the right-hand wall.

The adventurers were certain that as soon as someone touched the sword, one or more of the statues would animate and a fight would happen.  They discussed ways to mitigate this, including tying rope around the statues or driving spikes through their feet to pin them in place.  Before anything was decided, Hyles asked if everyone was ready and, without waiting for an answer, grabbed the sword.

The lizardmen statues immediately animated.

Not surprised but not ready either, the adventurers attacked the statues.  Hyles struck a mighty blow against the statue nearest him [max damage of 8 points], but it kept moving [it had 22 hit points].  Harkyn backed up Hyles’ attack, but it was not enough to destroy it ["only" another 5 points of damage].  The rest of the adventurers did minimal effect before the animated statues attacked [the statues had the lowest initiative].  Now up to speed, the statues unleashed a flurry of attacks [they had two attacks each] and felled Marcus and Hyles with one massive blow each [2d6 for damage and I was rolling high].  Harkyn was also struck, but survived due to their experience [Harkyn is 2nd level and the extra die of hit points saved them].

Realizing they were out matched by the animated statues, most of the adventurers immediately fled.  Tunrock and Chick Magnet staged a fighting withdrawal.  Chick Magnet grabbed the glowing sword in his mouth and fell back to the doorway.  Tunrock wanted to get through the doorway but couldn’t quite do it [half move only when doing a fighting withdrawal action].  Luckily, the animated stone statues were also slow and only one reached him to attack.  It missed with both attacks.  The next round Chick Magnet fled and Tunrock was just able to get through the secret door and pull it closed on the statues.  The statues piled into the door, but did not attempt to bash it open.  [I ruled the statues were programmed to target intruders they could detect and once the door closed, they could no longer detect intruders and so stopped attacking.  But woe to the next people opening this secret door…]

Demoralized and wounded [plus wanting to give the other two players a chance to get back into the game], the adventurers returned back to Helix early.  Along the way they noticed a flight of pterodactyls following them and used their previous experience trying to escape pterodactyls to evade this group.

Back in Helix, Harkyn made a donation to the Shrine of Ygg for some healing [they are still down 2 hit points].  The adventurers spent the rest of the day and the evening recruiting replacement adventurers: Frank, a cleric, and Quillian the Green, a mage.  [I also assigned experience for this trip to those who survived.]

There was a debate as to whether or not to sell the glowing sword or not and who would get a cut from the sale.  Chick Magnet wanted a cut as reward for retrieving it.  The adventurers were OK with granting him a cut, but Jersen was adamant that Chick Magnet was not owed the cut.  This argument started getting a bit heated, so the group agreed to go to Osen for arbitrage.  Osen ruled that the terms of the contract clearly stated Chick Magnet got paid a flat amount and was not entitled to any shares of treasure.  Jersen and Chick Magnet both accepted the ruling and then Jersen gave Chick Magnet 200 gp, which would have been a share of the sale of the sword if the group had not decided to keep the sword.  [The sword had Continual Light on it as a permanent feature, which the group decided was too useful to sell.  I counted the 200 gp as experience points for Chick Magnet.]

Freysday, April 19, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
Early the next morning, the adventurers met up with Norman and Chick Magnet and headed south again.  On the way to the field of barrows, the group avoided a swarm of insects [but never getting close enough to see what the swarm was feeding on…].

After a short debate, the group returned to the same barrow they had fled the previous day [#19].  They VERY cautiously re-entered the barrow and found the secret door still closed.  Somewhat relieved, they investigated the regular door down the right-hand corridor.  Beyond ten more feet of corridor was a 30-foot wide room.  Against the back wall was a pedestal with a large amphorae and a tablet resting on it.  Frank borrowed Quillian’s staff and used it to prod the floor in front of him as he moved in, discovering a pit trap and avoiding it.

Harkyn and Tunrock looked around for secret doors while Frank and Jersen checked out the pedestal.  The amphorae was very ornate and sturdy, probably worth a good deal back in town.  Jersen read the tablet and received a blessing!  [This was a Runic Tablet and he randomly received an automatic success on his next saving throw.]

With nothing else in that barrow they could get to [there was another door in the room with the statues, but they knew death waited for them in there], the group made their way to the next barrow [#20].  They found the barrow already open and plundered.  Inside was a broken sarcophagus decorated in bas relief with skeletons dancing in the Underworld.  Looking around, Harkyn and Tunrock realized that the sarcophagus was some sort of secret door [scrapes on the floor], but they had no idea how to open it.  [At this point I explained to the players that this was a puzzle and they had to solve it without dice rolls, old school style.]

Radagast investigated the skeleton bas reliefs and discovered one of the skeletons was slightly more worn than the others.  He fiddled with it and it wiggled, but could not turn due to the sculptures to either side of it, so he pulled on it.  It slid part way out!  He turned it to the left and pushed it back in, which audibly released something.  Pushing on the sarcophagus, the feet end slid sideways, revealing a slender staircase lined with dust, cobwebs, and distinct footprints. This staircase was used recently!

The group descended deeper into the earth.  The stairs ended in a narrow, dusty hallway full of cobwebs that turned east.  Twenty feet along, the narrow hallway ended in a T-intersection with a wider passage that ran beyond light range either way.  There was an arch in the opposite wall a little to the right that seemed to offer access to a parallel hallway, which had some debris on the floor.  When investigated, it turned out to dead-end either way after ten feet.  Suspecting a secret door, Harkyn and Tunrock moved to the front to investigate.  [Incidentally, Tunrock had the Continual Light sword and was providing most of the light for the adventurers.]

The northern dead-end had a secret door in it, but it also contained a nest of giant centipedes in the floor debris.  The centipedes were quickly killed, but not before they poisoned Harkyn, Frank, and Chick Magnet, making them horribly sick [can only move at ½ speed, and no other physical activity is possible].  With half the group unable to fight, the adventurers decided to return to Helix to recuperate.  They went back to Barrow 19 and retrieved the amphorae before heading north.

On the way back to Helix, the group ran across a hunting party of froglings.  The adventurers negotiated with the froglings, offering the location of the insect swarm in exchange for safe passage.  The froglings decided to accept the offering and let the adventurers pass.

In Helix, the adventurers dealt with H.H.R. Huffnpuff at The Rosy Quartz Jeweler and Money Lender.  The amphorae turned out to be really valuable [for amphorae – 600 gp], so the trip was not for nothing.

End of Session

[Notice I refer to the players as a “group” and not a “team”.  They are still working on their teamwork and this is why several died this session.  Hyles’ player got impatient and triggered the obvious trap before the other characters were ready.  The players are learning that not everything they have access to is within their capabilities and preparation is important.  OSR also stands for “Oh shit! Run!”.]

[That said, the players are also learning that just because they don’t have a skill for something, it doesn’t mean they cannot puzzle things out for themselves.  Radagast’s player worked out how to open the SPOILER passage by describing what his character was doing and acting parts of it out.  This was rewarding from a GM perspective.]

[The adventure is running well otherwise.  I would have liked it if the section describing the animated statues had mentioned whether or not the statues would pursue or not, but a ruling was easy and I went with it.  I also need to print out my PDF so I can add tabs.  Trying to get between sections in an electronic file without bookmarks is a bit bothersome.  If I had the full version of Acrobat, I'd fix this in a heartbeat.  Sigh.]

Session 1
Session 2
Session 3

Session 5 [Not yet written]

Friday, May 4, 2018

Shadowrun Session Notes Delayed

Session notes for Session 8 of Code Name: Parrot T-Rex are delayed due to job search activities this week.  I spent parts of this week job hunting and parts prepping for the short contract I have to start on Monday, but the client's HR department says they cannot get me in their system in time and need me to delay a week.  Quite frustrating, but not unusual for the industry.  Plus, there was a major trade show this week, which I think is the real delay.

Anyways, to avoid stressing too much this weekend [my wife is having an event at the house that is important to her], I'm delaying Session 8 until May 10th.  I'm going to try and post the next session of the Barrowmaze campaign on Tuesday, which will use my unexpectedly available writing time on Monday.  I should be able to write up Sessions 8 and 9 after that and queue them up to post on the 10th and the 17th, respectively.

My apologies for the delay, but getting an income again is highest priority for me right now.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Session Report – Barrowmaze – Session 3

[This session the players finally got a glimpse and taste of the actual Barrowmaze.]

[Also?  SPOILERS!  This series will spoil what’s in Barrowmaze, so take that into consideration before reading.]

Tunrock Shadowfury – male-ish Elven Spellsword [he’s an elf – what do you want?], exploring Barrowmaze for the loot
Harkyn – gender fluid Elven Nightblade, also exploring Barrowmaze for the loot
Tripp – male human Thief, exploring Barrowmaze for the loot
Marcus the Black, of House Dunsmore – male human Assassin, seeking wealth to restore his family lands to his family [Read: “exploring Barrowmaze for the loot”]

Norman – male human guide, hired to lead the adventurers to Barrowmaze but not fight
Chick-Magnet – female war dog (0-level), actually a male man-at-arms cursed into a different form [that's the war dog's story anyway]

Magusday, April 10, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
Brock was back in Ironguard Motte healing from the loss of his arms.  Brother Thaddeus was permanently dead.  Radagast was off acting as a caravan guard for a Silver Standard Caravan Company caravan heading to Bogtown and back.  To replace these losses and missing people, Harkyn talked up two adventurers that were travelling to Helix while Harkyn was returning the previous day.  Both decided to hitch their stars to adventurers with experience at the barrows.  [Radagast’s player is heavily involved in choir, both teaching and singing, and could not make the session – again.  (I’m busting his chops here.)]

Tripp made an early stop at the Mercenaries Guild to hire Norman again and asked for another man-at-arms to supplement the group’s fighting capacity.  Hiring Norman again was no problem, but with the Silver Standard Caravan Company having just cleaned out the available men-at-arms, Osen only had one available and it was a special case.  The “man-at-arms” was actually a talking war dog who claimed to be a human male under a curse.  Osen has never used him before and was willing to give Tripp a 10% discount for this first time.  Tripp decided to take the chance and hired Chick-Magnet at 9 sp a day.  [ACKS uses a base-10 currency exchange.  When I do my Holy Roman Empire campaign, I’ll use something a bit more historic – read: confusing to the players 😈.]

On the way south to the barrows, the group ran across that same crocodile pack from last week, now only 3-strong in numbers.  They decided to avoid this fight again and quickly evaded the crocs.

At Noon, the group arrived at the field of barrows.  Harkyn had brought the rest of the group up to speed as to what had happened last week on the trip here, so the group went to barrow #6 to finish exploring it.  They reviewed the rat corpses in the side room before opening the secret door behind the back statue in the first room.

Behind the secret door was a short hallway to a round chamber.  A black altar at the back of this room had two golden statues that brightly reflected the light from Tripp’s lantern.  Tripp suspected the altar was trapped somehow and approached it with Chick-Magnet at his side.  Tunrock followed Tripp across the floor, but triggered a pit trap in the center of the room that Tripp had not [the trap only triggered on a 1-in-6 chance].  Tunrock landed well despite the fall [only took 1 hp damage] and spotted a clockwork cobra in the pit and killed it before the device fully activated.  While Tunrock was helped out of the pit trap, Tripp checked the altar and idols on it for traps.  There were none and Tripp bagged up the two solid gold couchant jackal statues.

Finished with this barrow, the group moved over to the next closest barrow [#7].  This barrow had a huge bronze door inscribed with a skull face and dozens of pentacles inscribed upon it.  Tripp pulled out his sledgehammer and started hammering on the bronze door for 10 minutes to no effect…except the arrival of 5 zombies.  The group of adventurers tried to shoot down the zombies on their approach, but their accuracy is off and Harkyn’s bowstring broke on the second shot.  They switched over to their melee weapon, which convinced Marcus to do the same.  Chick-Magnet asked if he had to really bite the walking corpses and Tripp replied, “Only if they close for melee.”  They did and Chick-Magnet did and complained about the taste for a while afterward.  Once the zombies had been dispatched, Tunrock checked the bronze door for magic and found it was strong with divine magic with an underworld vibe and not likely to yield to the sledgehammer.  The group decided to move on.

The next closest barrow [#13] was collapsed, with some stone rubble jutting out of it.  Harkyn and Tunrock looked it over in case the rubble was a disguise, but found no entrances into the collapsed barrow, secret or otherwise.

The next closest barrow [#8] was completely covered in dirt and grass, with no obvious entrance.  The adventurers spent 10 minutes investigating the mound, prodding the soil with their blades.  The confidently locate the entrance, but realized that it would take a day or so of excavation to clear away enough dirt to access the sealing slab.  Not wanting to expend that amount of effort right then, they marked their map and moved on to the next closest mound [#12], the largest barrow in the immediate area.

The group had been ignoring this barrow as the entrance had been clearly forced already.  Out of a sense of completeness, the group entered the barrow and were surprised to find an old, rusty six-foot high tripod with a block and tackle suspended over a hole in the floor of the large chamber.  This was unexpected.

Tunrock checked the rope while the rest spread out and check the chamber.  The chamber was empty, with a large number of tracks in the debris on the floor, some in boots and others not.  One of the sets of bootprints looked familiar to Tripp, but he could not quite place them.  Tunrock found the rope to new, with a knot in it that allowed the rope to go down the hole but not fall down the hole.

Harkyn dropped one of their candles down the hole to check its depth.  The candle dropped 40 to 45 feet before landing on a floor covered in bones and skulls.  With little treasure in the bag so far, the group decided to go down the rope and explore further.

The chamber they landed in was covered in bones and partially collapsed.  After poking around in the room a bit, the group headed out into the long hallway that was the only exit.  Implementing the Left-Hand Rule, the group turned left 20 feet down the hallway to explore the first side passage they came to.  This led to a wooden door.  Tripp looked the door over thoroughly while the elves examined the area around it [including specifically checking the ceiling 😉].The door was did not appear to be trapped, but one of the paving stones near it was loose.  Tripp carefully pried it up with a crowbar and found what was obviously the reset mechanism for a trap.  This was puzzling as no traps had been found so far.  The group consensus was to put the paving stone back and proceed through the door.

The door opened on a 20-foot square chamber with a door on the far wall.  Assuming that was the door that was trapped, Tripp and Chick-Magnet entered the room [Tripp rolled a 5 on Detect Traps].  Before anyone else could follow him into the room, Tripp heard a “click” sound at his feet and a stone wall dropped down out of the ceiling behind him, isolating him and Chick-Magnet in the room.  Then the door on the opposite wall popped open and Tripp could see a number of skeletons in the hallway beyond animating.  Tripp called out for help and then rushed forward to hold the skeletons at the doorway.  Chick-Magnet scrambled forward to follow and the two of them faced off against the attacking skeletons.

Back outside the room, Harkyn quickly pulled out their own crowbar and leveraged the paving stone off the reset mechanism, quickly understanding what it was for.  Marcus reset the mechanism once Harkyn had exposed it – the stone wall started ratcheting back up into the ceiling.  The next round Tunrock rushed in to assist Tripp against the skeletons.  “Click,” said the floor as he triggered the trap, dropping the stone wall in Harkyn and Marcus’ faces.

Marcus reset the mechanism again, his sword and shield at the ready.  When the stone wall was back up in the ceiling again, Marcus and Harkyn could see that a number of the skeletons were down, but Tripp was bleeding profusely [he was down to 1 hp] and stepping back so Tunrock could step in and fight.  Harkyn wanted to acrobatically leap the trigger mechanism and then tumble into position behind the last three skeletons so they could use their backstab ability.  Instead, they mis-stepped and rolled across the trigger ["Click"], slamming the wall down in front of Marcus a third time, and landed in front of the skeletons, shutting out Tunrock from the fight.  [Harkyn’s player rolled a 1 for the acrobatics roll and this is what I came up with as the result of the critical failure.]

Marcus sighed and triggered the reset mechanism yet again.  By the time the wall was up this time, the fight was over.  Chick-Magnet had destroyed five of the seven skeletons while Tripp, Harkyn, and Tunrock accounted for only two total.

The group took a rest and bandaged up Tripp as best they could.  They discussed what to do next.  They decided that heading back to Helix to heal up a day or so would be the best course of action before returning to explore further.

On the way out of the area, they investigated a standing stone [#11 on the map] and found it covered in Dark Tongue runes.  Tunrock knew that writing and was able to translate those parts that were still legible.  It exalted Nergal and mentioned his Chosen.  Choosing not to ask the elf why he knew the language of necromancers, the group moved on and checked the next barrow on their way out of the area [#9].  It was another completely covered barrow mound.  They spent 10 minutes locating the entrance and then planted an iron spike on the opposite side of the barrow from where they estimated the entrance was.  This was to help them locate the entrance spot again on a later trip but not give anyone else a useful signpost.

While hiking back through the Barrowmoor, the group drew the attention of a flight of five pterodactyls looking for a snack before the sun went down.  The adventurers shot down three of the pterodactyls before the last two closed and attacked.  One of the pterodactyls slammed into Tripp and savaged one of his knees before being killed.  The last one decided this meal was too tough and tried to fly away, but was killed before escaping.  [Tripp went into negative hit points and rolled “One of your knees is damaged (carrying capacity reduced by 6 stone, cannot force march).” on the Mortality table.  This gave him a day to get back to 1 hit point before dying.]

The group carried Tripp back to Helix and woke Brother Othar to get some healing.  One 100 gp donation to the Shrine of St. Ygg later and Tripp was healed, but now had a bum knee and needed a week’s bed rest to fully recover.  The group decided they could wait a week before returning to the barrows, especially after selling off the solid gold jackal statues and splitting the money.  Harkyn spent the week studying the shield spell scroll they bought in Ironguard Motte.  [Harkyn made second level, even on the sparse experience for this trip.]

End of Session

[There was a pause in the game about midway through.  I needed to print out the map section of Barrowmaze they were on, but my printer suddenly decided to stop talking over the WiFi.  I spent more time than I should have trying to troubleshoot the issue before just attaching a USB cable and doing it the old fashioned way.  Unfortunately, by that point we'd lost 30 minutes of play time.  Next time I'll be a little more prepared and/or ready to go immediately to the printer cable.]

[Days of the week: I think I’ve settled on the names of the days of the week for the campaign.  This is what I am going with:

Sunday         Sunday
Moonday Monday
Hernesday Tuesday
Magusday Wednesday
Cromsday Thursday
Freysday Friday
Yggsday Saturday

This is a mix of things that include the names of deities listed in the Barrowmaze book (Herne, Magus – the “Latin” name for Arcantryl, Crom, and Ygg) and some borrowing (Sun, Moon, Frey).  I’ll go back later and update the previous two entries to bring their days match this list of names.  I wanted something that sounded vaguely similar so it was possible to tell where in the week a day was but “local” sounding.  Let me know in the comments if this is too distracting and/or you have any recommendations.  I promise to read them, even if I choose to not make use of the recommendations.]

Session 1
Session 2

Session 4 [Not yet written]