Sunday, August 14, 2022

Ultraviolet Grasslands D&D 5th Edition with Kids - episode 22


Having decided to explore the tomb of the Dragon Who Rises, they join the archeologists and head south, off the trail to the Way Stone, through the arid rust desert. After two days travel they reach a small valley, framed by rusted and graffiti'ed ruins, and in the centre is an incredible crystal flower, over 70 meters tall. It is pristine as if it was created that morning. They approach, and a small spherical droid rolls out of a hole, and sprouts two little arms. They see that the valley is full of lots of these little burrows. They debate trying to steal the robot, or trying to get it as a pet, but eventually decide to leave the crystal flower alone, and they head away. As they leave, they see two hooded figures - limelanders who are dressed as monks. Asmodeus steps up and bellows at the, and, intimidated, they hurry away to the East.

Two further days away they come over a crest and behold the valley in which the tomb lies. There are three huge collapsed arms or pylons, which obviously used to frame the valley in an angle, but now are a twisted and ruined husk. In the centre of the valley is a lake, covered in a thick layer of rust and desert dust, but it ripples gently in the breeze and so is obviously sitting on top of liquid. At the far end of the valley is a thin pillar of smoke.

Shgalang sneaks over to the pillar of smoke, and sees a large man, almost a giant, sitting in a well-established campsite, with a hut made of debris, cooking a meal. He introduces himself, and the large man introduces himself as Ottokar. Shgalang hunts a crab-deer and makes Ottokar a lavish meal, and even manages, somewhat impressively, to scavenge enough wild ingredients to make a cake! Ottokar is intrigued by the Kenku bird-man and they soon are talking like old friends.

Meanwhile Stanton casts detect magic, and sees no magic in the valley but detects only the Sina and Xina are magical. He asks them why they are registering as magical and they tell him to mind his own business. Asmodeus sets up a camp, and the archeologists set up their yurt. Asmodeus goes hunting and gets two antler rabbits, and cooks them. 

Meanwhile Stanton is determined to try and identify the location of the tomb. He transforms into an alligator and plunges into the lake - and emerges moments later, his snout burning and streaming - the whole lake is made of mercury! He is poisoned but rests to recover. 

He ponders what to do - and decides to detect the location of the nearest dragon scale - and gets about 300 feet straight down. He transforms into a badger and digs down - and at about 150 feet he finds a stone, digs around the mortar, and finds himself in a tunnel. He widens the tunnel while he can retain the form of the badger (he wanted a giant badger but had never seen one). 

The expedition (leaving Gilded 3-era and Ottokar on the surface to guard the gear) clamber down a rope slung down the tunnel, and find themselves in a corridor stretching out in both directions. They choose one direction and soon come across a huge animated snake skeleton! It blasts lightning at them, and they shoot and hack at it. Sina is charmed by the creature, but Stanton conjures two dire wolves and they fall on the creature and tear it apart. Montague pockets the two large rubies that make the eyes of the creature.

They find themselves in front of a large stone door, inscribed with ruins that Asmodeus identifies as draconic in origin, but he is unable to translate them. They decide to open it, and they cut the first seal and ... an enormous fireball erupts out of nowhere, burning them all horribly. Nobody is killed, but they are badly burned and they retreat tot he surface to camp overnight and take a long rest.

The next morning they clamber down the badger tunnel again. They gingerly cut the remainder of the seals - no more fireballs. They roll the door open - inside is a chamber filled with chains. In the centre is a huge scarlet figure swathed in chains - it growls at them to leave or suffer destruction. Stanton casts Moonbeam, causing it to growl in pain, and it lashes at him with multiple animated chains, ripping deeply into his flesh and binding him in chains. As an Eldaren he teleports 30' away, nearly dead. They attack the creature - Xina zaps it twice with a lightning bolt wand, but the creature slashes her and she falls. Finally they are able to strike the creature down with a couple of crossbow bolts and it disappears under Sina's furious blows. Stanton rushes forward and revives Xina. They review the now empty room still smelling of infernal sulphur and blood...

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Ultraviolet Grasslands D&D 5th Ed. with Kids: Episode 21


Back at the Last Serai, the crew pays sages and dig around the ancient libraries for research on treasures . Stanton becomes obsessed with the legendary 'Radiation Dragons' and wonders how he might be able to acquire an egg. He pays a sage a large sum of money who is able to inform him of their ancestral roosting grounds, far to the north of the Moon-Facing Ford. 

Shgalang and Jack spend some of their loot on Strider Birds - the same ones the riders ins ervice of the big-head ride. They are very comfortable on them as they are both small sized. Asmodeus, while searching for information on the radiation dragons, is recognised as a hero of the revolution, and gifted a book on the creatures of the Grasslands by a grateful alley merchant. 

They eventually decide to set off - still unsure as to whether they are still seeking the fireblade, or a radiation dragon or something else. They decide to head to the Waystone, and provision up before heading east into the desert. The way is dry and gruelling - they are albe to carry ample provisions for themselves and their animals as they rely on the druid to cast create water once a day for them. On the second day they enter a deep and fierce rust storm, which rages around the Waystone incessantly. 

A couple of days in, and it is tough going, they see an enormous shape heading towards them - a giant semi-mechanical centipede like creature, as big as a Dune sandworm. They quickly take cover, and manage to hide. It lumbers past them - luckily not noticing them.

In a couple more days they make their way to the Waystone. to their disappointment there is no settlement there - only a few yurts half buried in the storm sand. They present themselves at the Yurt and are welcomed in by a dwarf, two oranglenader twins and a porcelain prince. They introduce themselves as Laszlo Montague, dwarf archeologist, late of the Violet city, Sena and Xina, twin adventurers from the Orangelands, and a rogue polybody, Gilded 3-Era. They are on a contract with the University of the Violet City to uncover the famed tomb of the Dragon Who Rises. 

They offer hospitality, and seem friendly enough. The group offer themselves as guards and hired swords for the expedition. Laszlo agrees, and they strike a deal for a 50/50 split, once the University guaranteed cost of 70k is recouped. 

They rest for a couple of days at the Waystone, and then pack up the yurts and head south. On the first day out, through the storm and rust, they see a strange creature - what looks like a young man grafted onto a centipede body, with a shelter or gazebo on its massive back. It seems aggressive and insane, and screams at them for them to pay the price for it's wisdom. They ask what the price is and it demands a bone from a living creature. They briefly, as they like to do, debate whether to betray one of their own, or slaughter on of their beasts, but finally decide to fight the bizarre creature. After a fierce battle they kill it. Asmodeus tries to find it in his book of Grasslands creatures, and sees it listed as the 'Dispenser of Wisdom' - a creature that has plagued this area for many decades.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Ultraviolet Grasslands D&D 5th with Kids - Episode 20


Ignoring the Bat-Lions, they see on the Chromium Dome strange markings that they, after some study, identify as musical notes. They recite the notes (Purple Haze) and a door melts open in the side of the dome. They attempt to scoop up the metal but it has solidified again. They enter the Dome. Inside are many malachite rods - ancient recording devices with music recorded onto them. 

They decide to return to the Last Serai with their loot. First, they decide to take a detour to the legendary autofarm, mentioned on Nanfoodle's datapad.  There they see bizarre vomish fruits, tended by odd looking biomechanical autocrabs. They attempt to raid the farm, but are driven off by the innumerable crabs. They are badly wounded, but Shgalang manages to capture and incapacitate one. 

As they return, Asmodeus discovers that a burn mark from the death-face in the shape of a dog, rises up and starts to follow him. He seems to have inadvertantly adopted a shadow dog, a ghostly slightly radioactive spirit of a dog, visible only in certain lights and angles. He names it 'Jeremy'.

They return to the Last Serai and sell their wares. Whilst there, Nanfoodle forms a dalliance of sorts with a former polybody who has taken a liking to him. Aware their romance is doomed, they idle away a few pleasant days together. 

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Ultraviolet Grasslands (with 12 year old boys) - episode 19

24 July 2022

The Kenku (Shgalana), Eladrin (Stanton) and Gnome (Namfoodle Nackiestumble) scout closer to the Porcelain Citadel. Shgalana's keen eyesight is able to see from afar, the Great Head flying afar to the south. They discuss whether to attack it but decide it would be suicidal. The next day Shgalana sees bird riders from the head arrive at the Porcelain Citadel, where defences are being created and walkers  and slaves are working to beef up defences. It looks like some sort of alliance between the Big Head and the Porcelain Princes is underway.

They return to the revolutionary army of the Last Serai and report what they've seen. They propose an attack or a capture of the Big Head. The general agrees, and they are given possession of a ground to air shoulder mounted missile. Sadly as both Shgalana and gnome are tiny, they would need both of them to fire it. They give it to Stanton to carry.

They travel out into the Limelands again and suffer terrible itching and rashes from the static storms. As they push their way through the dry grasses they encounter a patrol - three porcelain shareminds and two armed slaves. They immediately drop prone as do their enemies. There is a standoff but Shgalana and Gnome, suing their small size, jungle crawl around and flank the patrol. With the aid of surprise, Shgalana blasts one polybody from existence - leaving only a smoking boot. He quickly takes out the second polybody with the help of elecrical blasts from Namfoodle, but the final polybody blasts Namfoodle with their energy rifle, knocking him back and leaving him a smoking spreadeagled unconscious figure in the long grass. The two slaves flee and Shgalana manages to kill the last polbody, even after his energy rifle runs out of energy and becomes dead weight.

They surmise the polybody is probably in contact with the rest of the hive mind, so they retreat about a kilometer away for a short rest. They see a walker arrive and load up the bodies. They debate attacking it but they are too badly hurt and the porcelain walker lopes off way before they even decide to make a move.

They decide to find the Big Head and take it out. After a few hours though they see, flying high above, ignoring or immune to stuckshards in the sky, a purple bird of ultraviolet hue, so it drops in and out of their visible wavelength depending on how the light hits it. As it flies south, the dry yellow grasslands beneath it become a luscious green, and the see ghostly figures of the rich and vibrant civilizations and people who once lived here, before the great war. As the bird passes overhead they hear a voice ask them if they wish to walk the paths of the past - they both say yes.

They wake up lying in the long grass in the same location. They have no idea how much time has passed. They remember amazing adventures and pleasant travels in the distant past, but only as if in a dream, and the memories fade as quickly. Shgalana holds a solar powered laser pistol in his hand, and Namfoodle has a datapad containing a wikipedia of the ancient grasslands (comprehensive but several thousand years, at least, out of date).

The journey changes their priorities. No longer interested in the petty war between Princes and Dwarfs, they decide they want to follow the path of godhood, and complete the great ceremony of the sandwich to become gods themselves. They also decide they want a base to call their own and they review the datapad for likely locations, and also any references to god nearby to reduce into a god paste for the ceremony.

They find that at the Last Serai there is a Demiurge knwn only as the Rebuilder whose temple is a building the recognise as the shunned 'Ignored Tower'. They find several interesting references to underground installations neaby - a quarry, the Glass House, the Autofarm, and the Chromium Dome. 

They decide on the Dome as the most likely location, and set off immediately north onto the badlands adjoining the Death facing Passage. Straight away a dark and thick Hazestorm engulfs them, and travel is slow and vicibilit poor, but after four days they enter a gulley choked with scree and rubble, and find the dome - less shiny than it once might have been and covered in dust, lichen and rubble. Nearby are three black creatures - enormous feral lions with huge bat wings. Shgalana, with the aid of Namfoodle's jump spell, does a huge war leap to scare them off and intimidates them - they slink away. They appear mostly only interested in keeping safe and warm from the storm. They approach the great silvery dome....

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Ultraviolet Grasslands with 12 year old boys - Episode 18?


They are spotted only a few hundred meters from the perimeter of the Serai. It is just before dawn and the defenders let out a shout - they are unprepared for an attack but quickly assemble. The rebel (mostly dwarf) army opens fire. There are flashes of light, darkness, explosions from artillery fire and it is near impossible to see what is going on.

The party are given the signal and charge from their hiding place, and the Porcelain Prince army counter charges, supported by a number of porcelain walkers. 

The Kenku uses his energy weapon to great effect, cutting down slave/conscript soldiers. A walker advances on them and they blast it with concentrated fire. It blasts away at other troops - it seems the pilot is unsure where the fire is coming from. They at the lest minute get a volley off, wounding the Eladdin who transforms into a bear, is blasted into oblivion, and then struck again as a person before the leg of the walker is shattered and the walker comes down. A second walker comes to assist, but by this time the group have used their spells to drive off or kill the ground troops and can concentrate their fire on the second walker, which falls beneath a volley of energy bolts, magic missiles and wooden arrows.

They look around - there is too much smoke and darkness and dawn is just lifting to tell what is going on but they hear a great cheer and they realise they have successfully taken the Serai!

The revolutionary army declines their request for magic items (all such items have been conscripted into the defence force) but pay them lavish amounts of gold and honour them with medals.

They decide to spend their recovery time celebrating.They carouse for a week - and luck is with them, they all win big at the gambling tables, especially the Gnome, who has a legendary run of good luck.

They watch the dwarfs and freed slaves prepare for the inevitable counter assault and debate what to do. They discuss heading west again, toward the Near Moon, but eventually decide to offer their services to the Revolutionary Army, which gratefully accepts. They are sent on a reconnaisance mission, to find out what the Princes are up to, and see if there are any advance forces.

They head out, refreshed, emboldened, and ready to face anything. Which is just as well because on the second night out, they hear something huge approaching - loud booming footsteps. Whatever it is stops and - sniffs the air. With horror and surprise they realise - it is the golem from the Copper caves! It has been hunting them for weeks now and has finally found them. It lurches toward the campsite.

They blast at it - it smashes the Eladdin several times while the others try to take it down. It takes an impressive amount of damage but finally it cracks, and crumbles lifelessly into its component rocks, lying in a scattered pile by the campsite...

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Spire: Eidolon Sky: Episode 1

Blixa Pew, a resident of New Heaven and Carrion-Priest, is contacted by his handler in the Ministry, Azekel Dorna, another charnel priest. He asks him to meet him at an address in New Heaven with a team to help investigate something - he will explain when he is there.

Blixa was a killer for th eAelfir and is now a charnel priest. He has a trained hyena, and wears unimpressive leathers. He knows Argenta from when he stopped him from taking venegeance for Argenta's friend, who was killed.

Blixa gathers a group of associates and fellow revolutionaries;

1. Argenti Silver-in-Sunshine, an Idol artist who is well connected with the Aelfir and makes art from his own blood.

2. Choronzon Zanner, a Vermissian Sage who knows secrets about Argenti's blood art, and is close friends with a demonologist expert, Abraxas Kadaman.

3. Tavesh Szat, a Masked who worked as a spy for his mistress, Alari Nariael, a diplomat to the humans. He is still close with her maid, Kaviri Unaro, and her cook, Hagiro Ulaira. He also knows a dark elf human emissary called Joran Havini. He knows Unkasu Nasiavi from when he found some information for him from an Aelfir household to help him profit on a trade. He wears green robes with black trim and carries a knife.

4. Unkasu Nasiavi, an Azurite dealer. He wears fine blue robes and gold necklages, nose rings and bracelets holy to Azur. He   knows Azekel from when he helped him out of debt for reneging on a contract to kill someone. He also knows Drada Dinuil, a trader who distills pain and sells it to the Aelfir. He has a bodyguard, Zakfaein, who fears snakes and the outdoors.

They travel to the safe house at New Heaven. Zakfein refuses to come outside, and waits a level below for Unkasu to return. The safe house is a badly appointed single room apartment below an apothecary in the commercial district of New Heaven. They are unimpressed.

Azekel Dorna arrives soon after them, and greets them. He explains that a new drug, Drek, has hit the streets in New Heaven, and it is having a very destructive impact on the area. The Ministry also believes that a recent implosion of a building was a demonic incursion, and they think it is linked to the drugs somehow. He wants the players to stop the drug problem.

He explains that Drek is a cruelty drug - it makes the user cruel and heartless, laughing at others misfortune and actively seeking to cause it.

Unkasu sees that Azekel really wants to be confident that the group can solve this problem, and they immediately begin exploring theories and showing off their confidence in the situation. An almost tearfully grateful Azekel is convinced they are capable and will solve this problem, and tells them he will visit them again in two days.

Blixa knows a small-time drug dealer, Imbay, in the neighborhood and decides to make him a visit. They find him in a bad way - shivering and in withdrawal from Drek. He agrees he can get some for them in return for a few silver coins. They follow him and see him pleading with the street hustler who reluctantly gives him some Dreck - Imbay returns to Blixa, and then uses the silver to pay off the dealer. Blixa gives a sample of the drug to Choronzon who enters the Vermissian to find Abraxas and his lab, to break down the drug.

Choronzon quickly deduces that Drek is a cut down and dirty derivative of Sulphur, a drug made by scraping off the residue from demonic incursions. So the Ministry was right - the demonic incursions are almost certainly related to the drugs. The drug is extremely addictive as well, and acts by destroying the empathy centres in the brain and making the user cruel.

Meanwhile, Blixa and Argenti follow the dealer. Argenta attempts to help by putting a glomour on the dealer, a street dealer named Percum, and taking him to a bar where Percum lets out a little too much to Argenti - he mentions he knows the big boss, a man named Bern. But Argenti pushes it a little bit far and Percum suddenly becomes suspicious of why Argenti is so curious. Argenti distracts by suddenly creating a party at the bar. 

Blixa seeks out Bern - he is a wealthy but relatively low key merchant who seems to be heavily protected by guards and has signs of new wealth. Blixa follows him and after a while sees him go to a heavily guarded warehouse - and then several hooded gnolls with a pack animal go in, and then leave without the pack animals. 

Blixa follows the gnolls to another heavily guarded building, but he manages to find a way to look in. Inside he sees gnoll and drow workers assembling some sort of large, fridge sized, ornate brass device...

He returns to share the news to his companions but is waylaid by three giggling Drek addicts kicking a hyena puppy to death in an alleyway. They turn and see him, and giggling, and leaning on each other, they draw knives and approach him. Blixa's hyena leaps at them, and he cuts one in the femurial artery before fatally slashing a second across the eyes. He takes the second thug's unreliable looking pistol, and then swiftly kills the third thug. Surprised by his own effectiveness in the fight, he leans and quickly patches up the hyena puppy, carrying it gently in his arms as he hurries back to the safe house...

Friday, June 19, 2020

Alien: A Season in Hell Episode 3

Aliens Log Episode 3

This is episode 3 in an ongoing campaign - did not write up episodes 1 & 2 but basically the crew are salvagers who got  sweetheart lead on some abandoned computer parts on a remote world as a result of giving dirty nuclear bomb equipment to terrorists on the occupied world of Tientsin.

The crew retire to a seedy spacers bar to discuss what to do. Finally they agree to the extra $10k offered to them by Ancane Shipping, on the expectation that the company lives up to their offer of a generous contract next time. The idea of trying to sell the components of a dirty bomb to terrorists on reflection seemed a little risky.

They let Bolan, their agent know, and she is relieved to hear they've accepted the deal. She tells them that the remaining payment will come through once the Agamemnon is docked at Cartwright Base. They ask if it's safe to bring all that contraband in and Bolan tells them that Ancane has ... people who will take care of that.

They jump a day into interstellar space and hook up the Agamemnon and tow it back to Eta Bootis A III. They dock it at Cartwright Base and Ancane comes out to thank them, arranges their payment, and then goes off to discuss something with a military officer called Colonel Ross. The crew wonder if this means that the military are really planning to fake a dirty bomb to destroy the rebels, or whether Ross is working with Ancane to get the contraband through customs. Before he goes, though, Ancane shakes Jones' hand and hands her a sealed manila envelope. "This is to say thanks."

Jones first checks its not a bomb or cash by feeling the envelope, and then opens it in the privacy of the ship. It is a series of maps of a scientific outpost in the nearby 2 Tau Bootis system, run by a company called BioDyne. There's a number of printouts of reports and equipment manifests - it seems that about two years ago the lab was rapidly packed up and abandoned for reason or reasons unknown - after operating on this remote ice world for seven years to study local single celled bacteria. A highlighted item is on the printed manifest - $150,000 of computer and technical equipment, which apparently was left behind. That's a lot of money they could use to shore up their mortgage.

Between the money they stole and the extra cash for the job they have about $7k left over after making their last mortgage payment. They leave $1k in the petty cash, put $1k aside to buy a new android eventually, and give each crew member $1k each. They gear up.

Meanwhile, Jones does a bit of research - she manages to find that the owner of BioDyne, a man named Damian Drew, died at about the time that the lab shut down - after a long illness - so she guesses that the reason for the shutdown was that once Drew died, his heirs had other plans. She reads some other reports of high security at the base - but that's not uncommon for 

The only glitch in this heist is that it requires an ability to land on a planetary surface - a capability the Korsakov lacks, since it doesn't have a dropship or landing capability. Jones and Simon work to try and solve that and they find a broker called Sweeney, who is prepared to loan them an ex-military UD4 Cheyenne dropship (in pretty poor nick, to be honest, and with all weapons and military tech removed) in return for a share of the booty worth $20k. They feel happy with the deal - even when Sweeney insists he come along as well to keep an eye on his asset. Jones likes the look of Sweeney and is happy to have him along.

They load the Cheyenne into the cargo bay and set off. The crew sleeps and Simon takes care of the maintenance of the ship. The first thing he does is blast all of Torres' cigarettes out the airlock. During the 20 day trip (Syd manages to crank a little more out of the engines to reduce the travel time from 25 days to 20 days) Simon unfortunately makes an error in maintenance and breaks the artificial gravity. Fortunately the sleeping crew don't drown in their pods, and Simon works diligently to just repair the gravity in time for the crew to wake up at their destination and never notice that anything was ever wrong.

The crew rouse themselves and gear up. They scan the planet - they easily find the base (it has an active navigation beacon still going). They decide to spend a prudent 24 hours doing a few orbits of the planet - it's an icy rock, covered in sheets of water ice, average temperature -50 at surface. There are dark patches where bacteria are clustered on the surface, around thermal vents or sheltered area. There is only one sign of human habitation and that is the abandoned lab.

Satisfied that they know the lay of the land, they clamber into the dropship. Sweeney decides to stay on board the ship - he didn't sign up for any risk nor any heavy labour. They debate whether to leave anyone with him but decide to let him alone - but Jones carefully locks him out of the computer systems just in case.

The descent is rough due to the atmospheric storms but not especially perilous. The dropship is old and a bit shaky but fairly solid. They manage to located the landing pad above the y-shaped lab next to what appears to be a small energy plant. The borders of the lab and the energy plant are smeared with black mold. They also see some sort of large shape buried under the ice - perhaps a vessel of some kind but it is covered in ice and it is hard to tell.  

They set the dropship down and review the lab - the whole place is dark. Though scoured by winds there is very little atmospheric water so barely any snow. They don their suits and exit the vehicle - the dropship doesn't have an airlock so they are straight into the icy air. They make their way to the airlock and try to open it - but are unable to crack it. 

Torres lights up his cutting tool and makes an excellent job of cutting and then sealing the airlock behind them. They are inside the compound. As expected the lab is completely empty - it has been totally stripped. In a warehouse they find boxes and boxes of the expected computer equipment. In an abandoned lab they find that outside the window there is a large pile of scorched and half buried synthetics - about twenty or so. They look like they have been melted with an incinerator unit and then abandoned outside.

As they head down the corridor they come across - a man, zipping up a jumpsuit. He seems shocked and surprised to see tham - he says he has just woken out of cryosleep and when they tell him the year he says he has been in sleep for two years. He says he was left behind due to a shortage of cryochambers and expected to be rescued within a week or two, when they abandoned the base. He says his name is Tait, and he was a scientist on this base. He says he was doing research on the monocellular molds that grow on this world.

He mentions he's hungry and they go to the canteen and try to rustle up some food - but the cupboards are quite bare. He's dehydrated from his cryosleep. Jones goes and inspects the cryochamber - there is one open pod and the others are empty.

Meanwhile Syd and Simon try to see if there is any evidence of files or the research on the base. Pretty much everything has been stripped and scrubbed but they find one video file, corrupted, buried deep in one of the servers embedded in the station. Simon and Syd take a shift to try to repair the file enough to read.

Meanwhile the others try to get more information out of Tait. Torres threatens him with a wrench, and Tait seems frightened and confused. Torres ups the stakes and makes to take a swing at Tait. To his surprise Tait swiftly pulls a pistol from his jumpsuit pocket and plugs him. The others pull their weapons and Tait takes cover, letting loose several shots. But Torres brains him with the wrench and he takes a bullet. He is hurt and he drops the gun and surrenders. Jones, furious and suspicious, steps forward and kills him with a well placed bullet between the eyes...

They repair the file and cluster around the monitor enough to watch. It is a grainy file and they see a dissected human body, connected via tubes and wires to a large black object that looks like a huge ribcage. Syd is shaken - this looks like alien technology. The body is hooked up to a Simon synthetic, strapped to a gurney. A scientist directs a number of other scientists, and they seem to set some machines going. The Simon wakes up, and starts screaming and thrashing around. It manages to break one strap and it's arm thrashes about, striking a lab worker. The head scientist gestures and a security man steps forward with an incinerator unit and incinerates the Simon while the lab workers flee. The file ends...

Sunday, February 9, 2020

The Lost Tomb - a Five Room Dungeon for kids

A Five Room Dungeon for my kids

Recently, my two kids expressed an interest in playing Dungeons and Dragons. I had to decide between D&D 5th Edition - which is the most 'modern' version of D&D, but I landed on Old-School Essentials, as it is a lot simpler and easier for kids to understand.

My daughter rolled up an Elf, Pine Goldwood, and my son rolled up a Dwarf, Lead Hammer (Lead as in Leader, not as in lead pipe).

So I decided to create a short 5 room dungeon, following the guidelines from

The Lost Tomb

The Town of Bodmin

On the fringes of the great Western forest, days from the nearest town, is the small village of Bodmin. There are few travellers, but there is a small inn 'The Gamekeeper' for the occasional traveller and noblemen who hunt the fringes of the forest.

The innkeeper in Will Barrowman, a portly man in his fifties, who takes great care with his guests. If they ask after dungeons, or it becomes known they are aventurers, he tells of the last time adventurers came here - three of them, a man, a woman, and a halfling (man) who asked after the Hill Tomb nearby - they went out and never came back. This must have been twenty years ago.

The Tomb itself is two miles away, west into the forest. It has a bad reputation and locals shun it, and is thought to be haunted. It is far from the hunting trails. But he is happy to give them directions as long as they pay their bill ahead of time.

In the town, they might notice three men keeping an eye on them. These ne'er do wells have assumed that these strangers will not be missed. They rob noblemen when they can and they are not used to people fighting back.

The Bandits

About half an hour into the woods, the three men will step out of the trail ahead of them, and demand their purses. They will not be expecting a fight - and if they are attacked they will fight for a couple of rounds or until they are injured and then will flee.

Bandits AC 8, HP 4, THACO 19, Dam 1d6 (Stannis, Jed, Magwitch)

The Tomb in the Cliff
For a further hour, the trail winds deeper into the woods - it is overgrown and hard going. But then the trail opens up into a little clearing. At a far end are two large stone slabs set into a low cliff, with a lintel stone atop it. However, it looks like the cliff is unstable. 

The rightmost door is cracked - and has been wedged open and broken. The previous adventurers used hammers and crowbars to crack open the large stone door to the tomb, in order to slip inside. However, in the decades in between the lintel has slipped, and the cliff face has consequently become unstable. Any dwarf will see the danger - as will anyone making an INT or WIS roll. 

The players will need to think of some clever way to get past the unstable doorway - they might use massive strength to move the door, or construct a support to stop it from collapsing, or use DEX to slip in without disturbing the cliff face. Any clever idea should be rewarded. 

The Flooded Chamber

Inside, there is a wide tunnel 20' wide and 40' long. Either from the broken door or from shifting water tables, the tunnel is flooded. The water is dark and it is impossible to see how deep it is (it is pretty evenly 6' deep). It is also freezing cold. The challenge will be to travel to the far end, where large stone double doors and steps leading up can be seen. 

The danger, aside from drowning if the character is short, is that goods become soaked - such as magic books or torches and lamps. They will be useless and perhaps permanently damaged. Also, the weather is icy cold - a saving throw vs breath attacks is required to not have numbed fingers and uneven breathing and be -4 to fight.

The Stairway Guardians

Stairs rise up from the icy water. As the players approach, three skeletal guardians rise up. One looks ancient - its clothes and armour are in an ancient style and the skin is completely rotted from the bones. But the other two are mostly skeletal, but their weapons are varied and their clothes not rotted - these seem to be the adventurers who obviously destroyed a couple of guardians but then joined their ranks. 

The three attack until destroyed. 30 XP to fight them all.

Skeletons AC 7, 4 HP, D1d6, THACO 19 

Any characters who die will rise up at the next full moon and join the ancient guardians to defend the tomb.

The ancient skeleton has o assets, but the two recent skeeletons carry a total of 20gp in leather pouches.

The Sarcophagus Room

The large stone doors are slightly ajar. Inside is the stone mausoleum with a stone sarcophagus. The corpse is dressed in fine ancient robes, only slightly rotted, and wears a fine gold necklace. It has obviously been here for centuries. Beside the tomb is the halfling adventurer - long dead. A poisoned spike has skewered his hand and he died from the poison. There is the only one trap and the players are quite safe but it will be interesting to see if they are extra cautious in the room and around the sarcophagus. 

There are two main treasures in this room. The first is the gold necklace - worth 120gp. It is safe to remove and can be sold in the village. The second gret treasure is a map - n ancient map with charcoal notes scrawled on, in a map case on the halfling's body. He has 5gp in a purse. The map is a map of the Lost Valley of the Kings. It shows a path from the village of Bodmin past this tomb, deeply into the woods, where, apparently behind a waterfall, there is a path to a secret valley unexplored for 1000 years, where the tombs of the old Kings adventure to come once they have left the tomb...

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Runequest - The Coming Storm - Episode 14

That sacred time there is a disaster. The usual rituals to awaken Orlanth fail and the wind completely stops. This happens, the group learn, at the moment Whitewall fell. Wando, as a priest of Orlanth, can no longer use his magic. Ernalda falls asleep as well - the winter does not end and Ernaldans lose their ability to cast magic. The clan initiates many desperate rituals to try to bring Orlanth back to life, but all fail. Kerolar summons many spirits to bind and give to the Orlanthi, so they have some ability to do magic. 

The Lunars, who are now deeply hated, enclose themselves in their fort and do not come out except in armed convoys. Kerolar asks Estana Goldeneye, a Seven Mothers missionary, what is going on, and between gushes of the Red Mothers bounty, etc, he learns that King Broyan and Kallyr Starbrow somehow escaped Whitewall, the Crimson Bat was defeated, and the Lunars plan an enormous temple to extend the glowline to include Sartar. 

Faradar, the freedom fighter, takes a large number of his freedom fighters and they take to the woods, to fight the Lunars. Word reaches the clan that the entire Culbrea tribe have risen in rebellion against the Lunars.

Brodi though, despite his (many) faults, has been prudent enough to ensure that there are ample food stores in Red Cow Fort. Animals are slaughtered - Wando gives up his two cows. The Ernaldan priestess is deeply distraught her magic does not work. A prophecy is passed around by word of mouth - that Orlanth is dead, but that the Three Stars will bring a new hope.

Winter does not end - it continues for an entire year. Kerolar takes a geas and in return learns the secret of curing disease, to help the tribe. The clan healer decides to convert to the Red Goddess, so she can continue to heal. Many people convert out of hunger, fear or desperation. As winter continues though, many people grow to hate the Lunars more and more for the misery they have inflicted on the tribe.

Refugees flood Red Cow and as many as can be accommodated are put up in the Bothys. Kerolar, never much interested in wealth anyway, gives away 500l worth of good and jewelry to help the hungry. 

After nearly 14 months of winter, Brodi calls the adventurers to a meeting. The day before, he sent Jaronal to Brightwater on a routine patrol, and he has not returned. He asks the adventurers, plus an extra fellow, a wood turner called Harald, to travel to Brightwater to find out what is going on.

They leave at once. On the way they see refugees from the Two Pines, and offer them some food. They tell them that there was some fighting at Brightwater yesterday and they fled. They thank the refugees and head on their way. As they approach the stead they see a pillar of smoke - larger than a stead fire. They stealthily approach and see the stead on fire, many dead, and Jaronal and several other people crucified on hastily assembled crosses. As they watch, many Tarshite mercenaries, assisted by Orlanthi lunar converts, stickpickers mostly, load up two sleds with food and goods. A man, obviously their leader, approaches Jaronal and pulls out the Meteor Spear, a Red Cow clan treasure, from under a blanket. He stabs Jaronal with it and he quickly dies.

Kerolar asks the others to guard his body, and he enters the spirit world. He quickly possesses the leader, and surreptitiously heals the two nearly dead Orlanthi, one of whom spits on him, not realising, of course, what is happening.

He then pretends he needs to relieve himself, and goes tot eh treeline, then circles around to where Wando and Harald are, explains the situation to them, and hands them the meteor spear - replacing it under the blanket with a large stick. He asks them to keep Jaronal's body as he will bring him back to life. He returns to the crucifixes.

A man comes up to him and seems to ask whether they should leave. As Kerolar does not speak Tarshite, he pretends to swig wine and grunts and gestures, and the others pull the sled. He follows them.

Once they are out of sight, Wando and Harald dash down and retrieve the two living Orlanthi and Jaronal. They drag him to safety.

Meanwhile, once they are some distance away, Kerolar shouts, draws his sword, shouts at the Orlanthi to flee if they value their lives, and starts to smash up the skis on the sleds. A Tarshite companion comes up to him, wanting to know what is going on, and Kerolar, with the element of surprise, manages to cut him down with one swift blow. He shouts at the others to flee, and some do, most of the Tarshites stand around in a wide berth, giving Kerolar a good quarter of an hour to disable the sleds. Then he is ejected from his host body.

Kerolar wakes up and then stands over Jaronal's body and calls on Kolat to bring him back from the silent halls. He wrestles with Jaronal's spirit and brings him back to life - he is unharmed but otherwise fine and quite shocked to be alive again.

They follow the sled tracks and find that the Orlanthi and Tarshites have abandoned the sleds, and carried off what they can on their backs. The adventurers load up themselves and Wando's horse with as many supplies as they can, and hide the rest, and return to Red Cow fort.

There they are lauded as heroes for returning both Jaronal and the Meteor Spear. Brodi praises all three but singles out Kerolar for special praise. Jaronal, sadly, is shaken by his experience and retires as a weaponthane to think about his life. To everyone's surprise, Brodi places Ortossi Kettelson, a thorughly brutal and obnoxious man, as his replacement to be the leader of the huscarls. Everyone anxiously awaits the next few weeks as supplies start to dwindle...

Friday, January 31, 2020

Runequest - The Coming Storm - Episode 13

The adventurers volunteer to fight the Telmori. Wando however, is against this and gives an incredible and moving speech convincing most not to help. At the Red Cow, a clan hostage is brought forth - he is a descendant of Sartar but had been kept as a hostage for the Telmori to keep the peace - his life forfeit if they broke the truce.

He is about to be executed when, as he is reciting his lineage, and enormous snake appears. Krolar immediately recognises the sanke as a spirit and charges in with his iron sword. Others join in - one thane is swallowed whole. Wando also senses it is a sacred snake, holy to Esrolia. They kill the snake, inspired by their loyalty to the clan. But the hostage had fled while the battle was joined - but he is quickly found - he had fallen into a hole and broken his leg. Instead of the quick death he was to have, he is killed slowly and painfully. 

Hopi and Kerolar join the army, one of the few score Red Cow fighters joining the battle. The Telmori are driven off from Stonefort, but at the cost of many lives on both sides. 

That ends the year 1620. The adventurers rest and recover. Kerolar teaches the others spirit magic spells (part of his shamanic abilities). They see through the sacred time and wonder what the new year will bring...

Runequest - The Coming Storm - Episode 12

The group are clearly outnumbered by the Telmori, and are already badly wounded and depleted of magic. Kerolar calls on Kolat to bring forth the ancestors of the Red Cow clan - and he succeeds! His fetch is drained of POW and a dozen ghostly warriors rise up and fall on the Telmori. Most are killed but a few run away. The ancestors, enraged by the Telmori betrayal, pursue them into their lands. The adventurers follow them, liberating a couple more mules along the way. Kerolar heals Borngold and drags him to the shore of the river. 

They arrive on a ridge wgere they can see over a large wooded valley - and there they see about 800 Telmori assembled, and watch as Black Paws hands over the remaining mules to a figure with no eyes and no shadow - this is obviously Jokar Sog, the Telmori shaman. It looks like a Telmori army has assembled here to attack - someone. 

They return to Red Cow fort. They relate the news to Chief Brodi, who takes back the treasure but rewards them all with a gold spiral bracelet and a horse each. The warriors take turns boasting about their achievements. Kerolar is recognised for his act of magic. 

Heroloran tries to find Frakor's family - Frakor was killed in the fight - and asks if he can retain the sword he used during the battle. They agree. It is a generous gift. 

It seems obvious from the position of the Telmori army that they are poised to take back the Wolflands, and attack the settlements of Jomas Horstalor, a Lunar lord who was granted the lands from the Telmori. There is much debate about whether to help or even warn Jomas - he is a Lunar after all. This could be a chance to weaken two foes at once. After a long debate, in typical Orlanthi style, they decide to warn jomas, but not to help. Kerolar seeks out the queen and tells her they will undertake this mission, and she rewards him with the genrous gift of an iron sword, which he names 'Ironsword'. 

They ride tot eh wolflands until they are met by some riders from a local stead, lead by hiord the tall. They explain the situation to them, and they take them to a nearby hall. Jomas is away in Tarsh currently, but they immediately begin preparing for wall - building up defences, calling up the army, etc. The adventurers argue over whether they should stay or not but decide to return to Red Cow Fort as originally agreed after a heated oration in front of the Lunar settlers. It was such a heated debate it became known as one of the three great Debates of Stonegate. 

They return to Red Cow fort and word reaches them that Stonegate has fallen, after bitter fighting, to the Telmori. They wonder whether they might have changed the tide.

Back at the fort the clan ring is assembling for war - all expect that the Telmori will attack them next....

Ultraviolet Grasslands D&D 5th Edition with Kids - episode 22

 13/8/2022 Having decided to explore the tomb of the Dragon Who Rises, they join the archeologists and head south, off the trail to the Way ...