Thursday, January 28, 2010

Series 2: How Not To Play D&D - Episode 1

All hail Srub-Shiggurath! My name is Skinn. Doctor Skinn, in fact, and I've decided to keep a personal log so as to record mine and my sister's quest. We set out recently to spread the word of the gods Srub-Shiggurath and Ehlonna.


As you may have noticed, this isn't Balthazar. We're running two campaigns at once now. I was going to only record the main campaign, but when I saw how brilliantly this one was turning out, I decided to record this one as well. In case you're wondering, Srub-Shiggurath isn't a made-up god, but rather a made-up name for an existing D&D god. Skinn isn't terribly stable.


We stopped by a town whose name I can't be bothered to remember, and soon fell into the company of a cloaked stranger who had another, smaller cloaked stranger riding on his back. These seemed like exactly the kinds of people that a wandering pair of Chaotic Good clerics would want to associate with, so I immediately sat down and struck up a conversation. Evidently they're hiding their faces because they're secretly a bugbear and a lizardman on a quest to gain more respect for their people. This seemed like a wonderful cause to me, and I immediately endorsed it whole-heartedly. The subject of religion came up, and they informed me that they are both worshippers of Hruggek, a god whose name I've never heard of but whose philosophy of picking off one's enemies in small numbers seems exactly like the kind of pragmatism that keeps people alive on the battlefield.

The conversation had moved to the center of town as I set out to set up a local cult to Srub-Shiggurath. "People of...Um...This town! Hear me!" I shouted, "Srub-Shiggurath shall protect his faithful and bring them wealth and prosperity! Stand in temperance by him and you shall be made wealthy in the end!" The people were immediately enthralled, and were soon lining up to have Srub-Shiggurath's symbol engraved upon their clothing. Then a strange, dark cloud fell over the town, completely blotting out the sun. "Fear not!" I shouted, "Srub-Shiggurath shall preserve!"

The people scattered like mice as a strange breed of goblinoids advanced out of the darkness.


These were some obscure things from the Monster Manual III. Evidently our DM couldn't find any of the other Monster Manuals.


Four of them surrounded our group, and we all drew our weapons, except the lizard man, who jumped off the bugbear and bared his teeth. The bugbear had a massive battleaxe, which made my mace seem kind of lame in comparison. Regardless, it didn't take long to mop up the enemies. A band of townsmen carrying torches to light the darkness came to us and promised to explain everything if we followed them. We did. Once there, we found a butcher who doubled as the town's doctor. My little sister immediately began yelling at him (she isn't fond of meat-eaters), but I was able to clap my hand over her mouth and calm her down before she summoned a Celestial Monkey to claw the butcher's eyes out.

Evidently the goblinoids are regular raiders of the town, but are not the source of the darkness. They saw the darkness, which was caused by a cult of necromancers, and decided to make an attack of opportunity. The bugbear began making a deal with the town's militia leader. The terms were simple. On the militia's end...

1) They would pay us as large a sum of cash as they could spare.
2) They would make known that a bugbear and a lizardman saved the village.
3) They would heal up the lizardman, who'd been wounded in the fight.
4) They'd provide us traveling gear for free for our journey.
5) They'd build a temple to Hruggek.

Naturally, I added in that they would also need one to Srub-Shiggurath, and my sister quickly piped in to add Elohnna to the list. On our end of the deal was...

1) Find the necromancers and kill them.

All in all, it seemed fair. On the way out, a wandering priest offered to heal the wounds of the lizardman, and after he did so I converted him to Srub-Shiggurathianism, setting him up as the town's religious leader. The bugbear also picked out a bar patron he was fond of and appointed him the town's political leader, leaving pretty much the entire thing under our control.


It makes a center degree of sense that a cleric, even a crazed one, be handy with his Diplomacy checks, so I gave him a few ranks to reflect this. The bugbear is just really good with the dice.


We set out to find the necromancer's tower and found that it had been built without a door, which was something of a blunder on the architect's part. Regardless, we had to find a way in, and when someone started yelling at us at the top, we all reacted differently.

The lizardman jumped on the bugbear's back.

My sister began meditating.

The bugbear began climbing up the sheer, smooth obsidian.

And I attempted to convert the man.

Fortunately, I also climbed onto the bugbear so that he'd carry me closer to the man and we could discuss religion more comfortably. Unfortunately, the man wasn't terribly fond of religion, so I ended up swatting his head off with my mace. This promptly drew the ire of the guard's friends, who were almost immediately cleaved in half by the bugbear.

I looked down from the tower. I noted that it was a 500-foot drop, and that I had only fifty feet of rope. I noted that my younger sister was at the bottom. I noted that the tower itself was still potentially chock full of hostile entities. This, I decided, was not my most well thought-out plan.

We entered the tower, dodged a few elementally themed booby traps, and arrived at the bottom, where the necromancers were waiting with an army of skeletons. Which I promptly rendered so much dust by making use of the divine powers entrusted me by Tsol'Kaa, while meanwhile the lizardman wrestled one of the casters to the ground and bit his eye out, the bugbear cleaved two of them in half and converted the other Hruggekism, an exchange which went something like this.

"Worship Hruggek."




"Hey, look what I found, a converter!" At which point he unsheathes his axe, which was bigger than the necromancer.

"Hm, I'm beginning to see your point," the necromancer conceded.

By the time we'd arrived back at the town, makeshift shrines to all three gods had been constructed, and the four of us set off, determined to make this divine triumvirate the new power in the world. Soon, all of mankind shall know the name of Srub-Shiggurath!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Episode 2

Things have changed.

The Liberators paired us up with an elven Sorceror named Zalan, and around dusk we went to a gully outside of town, as instructed by the Liberators, and found it guarded by a pair of men with a longsword and a spear. Regrettably, there was no time to parley and we were forced to dispatch them both. Soon after the fight, a bard named Alon joined our group, perhaps because he was an elf, and our group had the highest concentration of elves he'd likely seen in years.


I was running late, and wasn't actually here for this part of the game. That's why it's all exceptionally vague.


Inside the tunnel that led beneath the city and to the keep where the sorcerer was hiding, we found an altar to Nehrun, the god of evil. And soon after, one of his monstrous minions found us. A choker began to fight with the party, and when I arrived around the corner (having been lagging behind the rest), it almost immediately grabbed me around the neck and began attempting to drag me up the wall. Zalan blasted it with an arcane missile, but the creature barely even noticed. Then Fenrir swung his sword at the beast, cleaving through its arm and slitting its neck in a single blow, leaving the monster dead. It seems I've been demoted from leading the group into battle to providing distractions. For Fenrir.

The alter had a struggling deer atop it along with two small canals. A riddle directed us to slaughter the deer and pour its blood into one canal and take the bleeding corpse of the choker and pour its blood into the other. When we did so, the room lit up and one of the smooth, obsidian walls slid open.

Moving through the tunnel, we discovered two things. First, we were now in the heart of the city, just one wall away from the castle. Second, it was now broad daylight. It was dusk when we entered. Having no immediate answers for this, we decided to scale the wall. I climbed up first to check to see if it was all clear and found the castle deserted. I turned around and found Falric had somehow scaled the wall without my noticing, while meanwhile the bard scrambled upwards with ease, Fenrir and Zalan following with a bit of difficulty.

After searching the ramparts, we discovered yet another hidden passage, which led us into another tunnel. Fenrir went in first, and lit a torch for myself and Falric. We followed him in, along with Zalan and Alon. Once inside, a ghost appeared before us, skeletal, cloaked in black, and holding a scythe. It beckoned us towards him and, drawing our weapons and advancing cautiously, we followed. It led us into a temple to Nehrul, in the far corner of which was a dragon caged, and in the center of which was a massive throne, presumably for the god himself, with Nehrul's symbol emblazoned upon it. The ghost vanished.

At the top of the dais upon which the throne sat was a sorcerer, working his magic. I pulled my sword out and slung it over my shoulder, so that it wasn't immediately threatening but still ready for use, and advanced towards the sorcerer. As I approached, he noticed me and turned around to greet me. "I am not who you think I am," he said, "And if you wish to kill me, I won't stop you. I've plenty of treasures to steal, and I'm sure the Liberators will be grateful. But if you've any good in you, hear me out instead."

"I never trusted the Liberators," I said, "What can you tell me about this?" I turned my gauntlet upward and exposed the talisman to him, and can't really remember much for the next few minutes. According to Fenrir, I fell to the ground writhing in pain, which I remember vividly, along with the voices of the dead kings crashing through my mind. When it cleared, the sorcerer was kneeling over me, having evidently done something to keep the powers of the amulet at bay, though for how long I'm not sure.

We spent some time questioning the sorcerer. Evidently, something is wrong with the timestream in Tolmra. Time is far too malleable in that location, and as such multiple different time streams have sprung up. The sorcerer is seeking to sort this out and put an end to the two consistent threads throughout all the time streams: the Liberators, and a plague of undeath. The only lead he has on this, is that several hundred years ago there lived a man, whose name changes from one story to the next. He lived in the desert at the north end of Tolmra, but the exact location also changes from story to story. We need to find him, and bring him to the sorcerer.

I am not one to be daunted by long odds. While I questioned him for more information on this man we were supposed to find (the sorcerer had nothing useful to tell), Fenrir asked details such as what the sorcerer had been doing and why he'd taken up residence in a temple to the god of death (the answer to the first was experimenting with the time stream to find out why it was so malleable, and the answer to the second was convenience). Zalan was more concerned about getting out of the place alive, and wasn't too keen about running off to another time, possibly never to return, in order to find some man he'd never heard of before, but I told him if he killed the sorcerer and tried to flee back to the Liberators, I'd kill him. Alon wanted to kill the sorcerer just to be done with it. He was off playing a tune in a corner, thoroughly bored with everything. Falric, meanwhile, was poking at the skull emblazoned on the massive throne.

Ultimately, we accepted the sorcerer's quest and took what wealth he had to offer us, which was no small amount. Unfortunately, however, I will have to save our journeys into a different time for another day, as I am very tired now, and need rest.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Episode 1

Personal log of Balthazar, Paladin of the Order of Valor...


Hello, loyal readers (or else not so loyal)! I have a quick note to make to those who are actually in my group, since that's likely to take up the bulk of my readership. First off, yes, my character's name has changed. Nethmaethor sounds too elven (in fact, it IS Elven...Quenya, to be exact), and the only reason I used it in the first place is because I didn't want to hold up the game while I spent an hour thinking up a better one. Nethmaethor's a name I've used before and will probably use again. But now it's after the game and I've had some time to think about it, and I've renamed him Balthazar.

Second, I've greatly expanded the backstory of my character, and in so doing added a little bit of backstory to the world outside of the campaign setting. I hope no one minds.


When we set out from port to fight in the crusades in the east, my head was filled with dreams of finally earning my right to the rank of Templar of Heironeous. Up until now, my only duties have been to keep the peace in an already peaceful part of the country. But things didn't go quite as planned...I'm not sure what exactly happened, if we were ambushed by our enemies or by pirates or by some unrelated third party that mistook us for their enemies, but we were attacked in the dead of night, and the ship was destroyed. I washed up on the shores of this island.

I soon met a wandering monk named Falric. According to him, the island is recently torn by civil war. It began as a war of succession, but then the military and the various mercenary armies revolted together, and set up a new regime. This regime was...Hardly in keeping the teaching of Heironeous, to say the least. For a while, I kept my head low and followed Falric through the wilderness, hoping to find my bearings and get to a port where I could make my way to the east, where I was supposed to be. The plight of the people of this island is certainly not insignificant, but it seemed then to be beyond my control.

Not far from a city twenty miles north of the capitol (landlocked, unfortunately), we bumped into an elven ranger named Fenrir. Elves are rare things, evidently, but more traveling companions are always welcome in a wartorn land. There is strength in numbers. Soon after we met Fenrir, we were attacked, but these were not mortal waylayers. Three skeletons attacked us from the brush. Falric grappled with the first while I ran to meet the second as he charged us from the opposite direction. In the distance, a third skeleton appeared, which Fenrir...Attempted to engage. His aim leaves something to be desired, though his ability to avoid blows is unparalleled.

I took a grievous wound to my arm during my fight with the skeleton, but was able to split him from skull to femur in return. Falric, meanwhile, continued to grapple with the skeleton, who feebly attempted to break away, while Fenrir managed to shoot himself in the foot, then stab himself in the foot, and then managed to accidentally hit his target. I arrived and delivered an uppercut to the skeleton which left it as demolished as its comrade, and meanwhile Falric beheaded the last skeleton with his bare hands, then used Fenrir's sword to chop the top off and began wearing it like a hat. That woman is perhaps not entirely stable, but I don't think I'd have survived the third skeleton if she hadn't kept it occupied.

"Ah, Falric," I said, "Once again I'm blessed to have you at my side in battle..." I turned to the elf. "Fenrir...Good effort." I said, and set to bandaging my wounds.

As I bandaged my wounds, Fenrir began to poke around the remains of our fallen enemies, and discovered a curious amulet amongst them (the only thing of value they carried). Upon it was engraved a ghoul with jagged bones protruding from its eyes. Not willing to leave such a clearly evil item on the roadside, I took the risk of grabbing it and suffering whatever ill effects it brought on. A chill came over me, and my mind went numb for a moment, but it soon passed and I thought nothing of it. In desperate need of healing, we headed towards the city which, despite Fenrir's fears, had not been overrun by the undead.

Once there, I found that the combination of a heavily wounded paladin, a monk wearing a skull as a hat, and an elf in these thoroughly human lands made it a bit difficult to collect information, but I found a single small halfling willing to talk to me. "Are there any temples to Heironeous here?" I asked.

"No," he responded, "No one trusts the gods in these times," he said.

I found this disconcerting, but continued. "Any clerics at all, then?"

"How were you wounded?" the halfling asked.

"We were ambushed by skeletons outside town," I responded.

"Ah, that explains the skull, then!" the halfling said, gesturing to Falric. "There is one cleric, in the Sick Pony Inn," the halfling said.

"Very well, then," I said, "What can you tell me about this?" I asked, and revealed to him the amulet.

"Put that away!" he said, "That thing is evil!" I pocketed the amulet immediately, and the halfling left before I could ask him further about what it was. As he left, he grabbed both my coin purse and the amulet. A nearby passerby spotted him and yelled "Thief!", tackling the halfling to the ground. I retrieved my coinpurse, but the halfling had the amulet clutched to him. "Give that back!" I said.

"I would rather die than see something so precious in the hands of a paladin!" the halfling spat back.

"That can be arranged," I hissed in response, leveling my sword against his neck. Ultimately, I didn't have to kill him to get it back, but I did nearly cut his hand to the bone. When I retrieved the amulet, I felt the same sense of numbness wash over me. I decided to lash the amulet to the inside of my scale gauntlet, where it'd be more difficult to see or steal. We headed for the Sick Pony after that, and sent in Falric to try and negotiate with the barkeep for the location of this cleric.

Once inside, a drunk town guard picked a fight with Falric, which proved to be a mistake. She threw the guard onto a nearby table and began punching him repeatedly in the face, and when he managed to break free and swipe his sword at her, she deftly ducked under and punched him in the gut. He vomited and collapsed to the floor, at which point Falric noticed three more town guards, decidedly not drunk, looking irate at the door.

The three were knifed by insurgence members before they could so much as proclaim Falric under arrest. The other bar patrons didn't seem to think this unusual at all. The insurgents provided Falric with the location of their meeting. Then Falric returned outside to us and relayed the information. We deliberated over what to do next for a moment, and eventually I walked into the inn and convinced the barkeep to direct me to the cleric.

Once I talked my way inside the cleric's room, he was quickly able to heal me and, more importantly, tell me more about the amulet. Evidently there were some old kings in this land before the current regime, who were even more wicked than the military was now. They dabbled in necromancy in no small amount, clearly, and the amulet was a sign of obedience. It would slowly drive the wearer mad, but to throw it away now would rend my mind apart entirely. He said the voices would come to me soon, the voices of the dead king. He said that there is no way to lift the curse, but I am convinced this is not true. There must be a way to lift it, or failing that, to keep it at bay.

During my meeting with the cleric, Fenrir met with a shady character in the bar, who invited him to some kind of fight club on the outskirts of town. Fenrir agreed to meet him there later, though why is beyond me. His display against the skeletons was...Less than impressive? Regardless, we met with the insurgents later that evening. They told us that while they were very weak in most parts of the country, they were all but ready to seize control of this town. The only thing in their way was a sorcerer who dabbled in necromancy. They asked us to kill this sorcerer. Immediately I thought of the amulet, and what a necromancer might know about it. For the good of these people, and for the sake of lifting the curse, I've decided to kill this sorcerer, and end the reign of these tyrants if I can. I'm sure the crusades to the east will still be ongoing once I'm finished.