Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Cast and Crew of Bob's Dwimmermount ACKS Game

I've been wanting to post a breakdown of this for a while. This is the group of players I've been writing for, and only once before have I been blessed with as solid a crew. We've been playing every Wednesday and Sunday for about three months with few breaks- and we run by Skype a few nights here and there as well.

Almost every player has a dude or three- ACKS resting doesn't stop the party.

Speaking of parties, the adventuring party (with the number of players and characters, it's more of a guild) recently built a stronghold not far from Dwimmermount to replace the party cottage they were rapidly outgrowing. This one is a 3600 square foot wooden structure, two floors, with a stable/smithy, surrounded by a log palisade and eventually to be patrolled by the two changed hellhounds Trogdor befriended and then had transmogrified into mastiffs who breathe fire.

I'm not going to use real names here, just initials. I will give the real character names- even the silly ones. :) Now, I should note that even though some names are silly, the characters are, generally, not. Everyone's taking the game seriously, and I love them for that.

Player A1
The party house in Muntburg was owned by Trogdor, who started life as my fiance's Thrassian gladiator. After many, many sessions of play, he is now 3rd level, and has been combined with the ruins of a slain manticore in a horrid Chaotic ritual, basically turning him into a Thrassian Value 4 gladiator. (He's got wings, iron scales, iron teeth, a Bowser mane...) Trogdor is Chaotic to the core, but in a friendly sort of way. He does make jerky out of... well... pretty much everything. Trogdor's closest friend is Doric, who has adventured with him since they both began. The kobolds on level 1 (the ones the party left alive) worship Trogdor like the sleek scaly god he is.

After many, many sessions (at least 20? Maybe more?) the highest level party members are just under 4th. The reason for this is manifold. People keep needing rest, so that takes them out of the action. Or, people have altaholism, so they play another dude for a while. Or, worst offender, people just can't make as many sessions as others. The numbers I give for levels are their current ones.

A also has a 2nd level explorer named Lorasaadi, who particularly hates dragons, and carries a voodoo doll of one stuffed with pins. Lorasaadi comes from an old campaign of mine, and was translated out of a LotFP specialist.

Player R1
A staple at our Wednesday night game, R1 started out playing a mage who rolled the Eunuch sorcerer template. He rolled with it, and Whelan-Thiss became the preeminent magic-user. Unfortunately, a gargoyle in the Dwimmermount mangled his hand, so Whelan-Thiss needed a restore life and limb. While he's been recovering (30 days is harsh), R1 has played Cadus the Mad, a 1st level dwarven fury, and Grimdal Stonegrinder, a 1st level dwarven machinist. Cadus was of the Hammerspite clan, but, even though the are the dwarven equivalent of trailer trash, living in a dump in Muntburg, Cadus was too crazy, even for them.

R1's wife, and my good friend, E is playing a 2nd level Nobiran Wonderworker named Daymana. Daymana is about seven feet tall, a master of makeup, and a connoisseur of wigs and jewelry.Nobody really asks Daymana what he or she is really about. Daymana has a wand of polymorphing which has proven very useful.

Rain is a 3rd level elven nightblade who dual wields two magic swords. The better of the two is the fabled blade Karakgoburzgarandak, Foe-Knife-Shatter-Master, or Shatterfoe in the Common tongue. This blade was found in the tomb of a dwarven warrior in Khaz Droonan. Shatterfoe is a +2 sword which warms in the presence of goblins within 60' and, when attacking such creatures, sunders non-magical weapons on a roll of 17-20.  In his off-hand he wields a nameless +1 sword. Rain has been very lucky with the backstabs and the kill shots.

This player started out as a live player, but transitioned to Skype only as she and her partner (B) moved far enough away that they can't just stop in. L is playing a 2nd level shaman, Nymeria. Nymeria's primary claim to fame is being a voice of reason in the party- and when that fails, she's got a horn of blasting.

B is playing a 1st level elf spellsword named Byrt Reynaulds. I wish I were making this up. His picture on our Facebook group is Sterling Archer with ear tips and a bow. Byrt is... not the voice of reason.

J has a couple of distinctions going for him. One, he's my oldest friend- practically my brother. This allows me to fuck with him mercilessly. Two, no matter who he is playing, he always seems to be first through the door, which has resulted in more deaths, dings, cuts, scrapes, lost arms, eyes gouged out... the list, man. He was also the first PC death... in the second room of the first session. That character, Roshin, was a 1st level Nobiran wonderworker. He has since played Doric Bosley up to 3rd level cleric. Doric got literally eaten by troglodytes, and so after they got his and Rory's mangled skeletons back and life and limbs restored, he started playing Koster Stonegrinder, a 2nd level dwarven craftpriest. Koster was also out of action for a bit, so J started playing Ssarook, a 1st level Thrassian gladiator, and his henchman Damian Hawthorne, a 2nd level alchemist. Having a henchman worked out, because Ssarook had three stories of tower collapse on him a few sessions ago. For about half a session, Doric had a thief henchman named Jean-Luc, but a trap caused that to not work out. So yeah. Six total characters. Roshin has the inglorious fate of being the last primary PC to die before the party got rich enough that Restore Life and Limb flows fairly regularly.

J's fiance, T2 has also played a few folks. She started as Rory, a 2nd level bladedancer, but died and was eaten in the same messy fighting retreat as Doric. They went back and slew the troglodyte feasters, and Rory and Doric are about 20 days through their 30 days rest. In the meantime, T2 has played Urian Hammerspite, a 3rd level dwarven delver, and Veriswen Tathlond, a 1st level elf courtier.

R2 is A1 and I's roommate. She's played a variety of characters, primarily Vartan, a 3rd level elf ranger. Vartan bears a sword +1, +2 vs spellcasters, which he has christened "Bitchin'." When Vartan was unavailable, R2 made Delphina, a 3rd level cleric, and when SHE wasn't available, she made Phil of Panzance, a 1st level assassin. Noteworthy is that this area is hundreds of miles from the ocean, so a pirate-themed assassin sticks out like a sore, sore thumb. Stupid template rolls.

R2's boyfriend, R3 is playing Zayne Lionheart, a 3rd level dwarven machinist. Zayne is noteworthy in that he got leather armor +2 in an assault on the brigands of the ruins of Winterburg, and immediately went to Adamas to trade it in for... a caravan. As no one there (class III city) had the liquid wealth to purchase the armor, he chose to trade it for about 25% of it's worth for a 6 wagon caravan and all it's goods. He sold a bit of it, but is still sitting on 90 barrels of preserved fish, stacked floor to ceiling in his cottage in Muntburg.

I know a lot of people whose names start with R. R4 is playing a level 1 assassin named Meric Calloway. He has only made one session so far, and was beaten up by gnolls.

A2 was there at the first session of this campaign, playing Alisdair, a 1st level warlock. Woe to Alisdair, however, as in our first session, the second tromp down into Dwimmermount was met with an enemy NPC party which both outnumbered and outgunned the PCs. Trogdor, the following day, discovered the bodies of Felix, Doric, and Alisdair, naked, stacked like cordwood near a statue of Mavors. Alisdair's fingers were all broken and his tongue torn loose. He retired to obscurity, sans spellbook.
A2 made a new character, Artemis the 1st level elven ranger, but has yet to rejoin us to play him. A2 has played with us before, so I don't think he's mad at me...

A3 is an old friend of mine, playing a character dredged up from our ancient Hackmaster campaign Nimloth Remmirath is a 1st level elf spellsword, albino, who has nightmares and talks in her sleep. She was recently in charge of delivering over a gallon of azoth from Muntburg to Adamas, literally flooding the market.

A3's husband, M is playing an old character from a different old campaign of mine, that one ran in Basic Fantasy RP. M is playing a gnome assassin-esque character, here called a skulk. He's only been able to make one game so far.

Olan the Incautious. 2nd level barbarian. Another shipwrecked character from the same campaign Lorasaadi came from, Olan is young, naive, and happy to hit it with his axe. G lives in Massachusetts, so he only ever Skypes in. G is also one of my best friends, so I am happy to do the Skype thing just to get to game with him.

S is playing Sander, who started out as a Neutral, world-weary huscarl of a barbarian. An encounter with a shrine of Law in the Dwimmermount transformed him in a flash of lightning into a gruesomely-scarred, Lawful character with characteristics of both barbarian and paladin- a "Changed Crusader." S recently obtained a sword +1, +2 vs. spellcasters, which he intends to use against the witches and heretics. Sander's religious conversion has made him a stalwart of Typhon.

My descriptions would not be complete without the two NPC henchmen the party takes with them quite often.

Felix is now a 2nd level fighter, up from the 0th level fighting-man they hired in their first session. He gets full XP and shares of loot, since he is totally aware he is better than half the party. Felix is utterly, completely devoted to Trogdor, even though it's not the wisest course of action for him, as he's died three or four times. He was also "Felicia" for a while after a bad roll, and had a baboon leg. All things considered, though, he's done well- even going adventuring with his own henchmen once or twice, Gerrald and Scar.

Gurn Hammerspite is a 1st level dwarven vaultguard, who also had been hired as a 0th level meatshield. He's not loyal to anyone, specifically, but he does like his PC cousin Urian and his PC dwarven fellows Zayn, Grimdal, Cadus and Koster. Gurn just started adventuring again, having had his arm regrown from being sizzled off by gray ooze in a forgotten Thrassian temple.

There have been a few more NPC henchmen- Rita, Sammore, Oscar- but Rita got killed by a spider, Sammore was returned from death all... stupid, and Oscar saw them looting the corpse of a fellow PC and gave up on the party entirely.

The party has two dwarven personal automatons, a cadre of guards at Zayn's machinist shop/pickled fish warehouse in Muntburg, some guards at the stronghold near Dwimmermount, and two "hell hounds" named Hellfire and Brimstone which have been crossbred with normal mastiffs to have 2 HD and the ability to breathe fire, and look just like normal dogs.

Whew. I think that's it.

Tomorrow I may post a map of the area we're adventuring in- I separated out the globe into a Dymaxion projection and drew one triangle- so, basically, Europe. The world of Talis is the size of Mars, so the map I'll be posting runs from the 30th parallel to the North pole.

Monday, December 9, 2013

[ACKS Monster] Huecuva

So, my version of the Huecuva is a bit different. I wanted an undead which feels different from a ghoul and from a wight, is pretty tough, and more importantly screws over clerics who try to turn everything that even looks like an undead. I don't like disease generally, as it's one more thing to track. 

As usual, the number of special abilities stars is totally handwaved. I'm not super good at assigning those things. :-/

% In Lair: 70%
Dungeon: Assemblage (1d4) / Procession (1d8)
Wilderness: Procession (1d8) / Conclave (1d8)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (40')
AC: 2
Hit Dice: 2***
Attacks: 2 (claws)
Damage: 1d4 energy drain/1d4 energy drain
Save: F3
Morale: +4
XP: 47
Huecuva are the undead remains of clerics who were unfaithful to the tenets of their deities. In death, they are rewarded by Chaos with endless pain and a desire to slay those most like what they could not be- Lawful, faithful clerics.
Huecuva appear as worm-ridden, bloated corpses in the rotting cassocks and vestments of their orders. Invariably they wear twisted lead holy symbols- images perverted and cheapened from their original shapes and meanings. Three times per day, huecuva may mask their appearance as living clerics- though always with something subtly wrong, such as the vile smell of decay, a forked tongue, or blasphemous markings upon their flesh.
Huecuva are immune to turning attempts from Lawful clerics. Indeed, such attempts cause the cleric to save vs. Death or suffer 1d6 damage as unholy power cascades from the huecuva's battered frame. Multiple huecuvas can easily demolish an unwary cleric who attempts to drive them away. 
The touch of a huecuva drains energy from the living. See my earlier blog post about Energy Drain. Fortunately, only Lawful clerics are able to return as huecuvas, which they do after 1d4 days.
Huecuva may only be harmed by magical weapons, spells, and weapons made of silver. Like other undead, they are immune to the effects of sleep, charm, and hold spells. Holy water deals double damage to a huecuva.

I've been listening to way too much Ghost lately.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

[ACKS Monster] Cloaker

% In Lair: 40%
Dungeon: Solitary (1)/Rack (1d4)
Wilderness: Solitary (1)/Rack (1d2)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 10' (3')
Fly: 150' (50')
AC: 6
Hit Dice: 6**
Attacks: 2 (tails) or 1 (bite)
Damage: 1d6/1d6
Save: F6
Morale: 0
XP: 820

When resting or lying in wait, these creatures are almost impossible to distinguish from common black cloaks (the cloaker's ivory claws look very much like bone clasps).

When it unfurls itself and moves to attack, however, its true nature becomes all too obvious. At this point, its white underside is clear and the monster’s face is fully visible. This face, with the glow of its two piercing, red eyes and the needle-like fangs that line its mouth, is a truly horrible sight. At this point, the monster also uncurls the whip-like tail at its trailing edge and begins to swish it back and forth in anticipation.

Cloakers receive a +3 bonus to surprise rolls. If an attack roll is successful, a cloaker engulfs its prey within its folds. Any creature that falls victim to this attack is all but helpless and can be bitten easily (no roll required) for 1d4 points of damage and their target is grappled. Shields offer no protection from such attacks. Any attacks made on the cloaker inflict half their damage to the cloaker and the other half to the trapped victim. Area effect spells, such as fireball, cause full damage to both the monster and its victim.

A cloaker can emit a dangerous subsonic moan as an attack. By changing the frequency, the cloaker can cause one of four effects. Cloakers are immune to these sonic, mind-affecting attacks. Unless otherwise specified, a creature that successfully saves against one of these effects cannot be affected by the same moan effect from the same cloaker for 24 hours. If a cloaker moans, it can not use it's bite attack in the same round.

Unnerve: Anyone within a 60' spread automatically takes a -2 penalty on attack and damage rolls. There is no save against this attack.

Fear: Anyone within a 30' spread must succeed on a save vs. spells or flee in terror for 2 rounds.

Nausea: Anyone in a 30' cone must succeed on a Save vs. Poison or be overcome by nausea and weakness. Affected characters fall prone and become nauseated for 1d4+1 rounds. During this time, those who fail their saving throws are unable to act in any manner.

Stupor: A single creature within 30' of the cloaker must succeed on a Save vs. Spells or be affected as a hold person spell for 5 rounds. Even after a successful save, the creature must repeat the save if the cloaker uses this effect again.

Each of the various effects of the cloaker’s moan can be defeated by the use of a neutralize poison spell on a victim.

Cloakers also have the power to manipulate shadows. Known as shadow shifting, this power can be used in a number of ways, but in only one particular manner at any given time. The cloaker can employ its shadow shifting ability to obscure its opponents’ vision, thus bettering its Armor Class to 9. Or, the creature can produce precise images from the shadows that can be used to trick its adversaries. One common means of employing these images is to create a duplicate of the cloaker to draw away enemy attacks. If this method of shadow shifting is employed, it can be treated as a mirror image spell that creates 1d4+2 images. Otherwise, the shadows can be considered to be similar to a phantasmal force force spell.

The thought processes of cloakers are utterly alien to most other life forms. As such, they can only be communicated with by mages who have devoted long hours to training their minds in the arcane discipline necessary to understand these creatures.

[ACKS] Barghests, the Fathers of Goblinkind

% In Lair: 50%
Dungeon: 1d2/1d2
Wilderness: 1d2/1d4
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 150' (50')
AC: 6
Hit Dice: 6+6***
Attacks: 4 (2 claws, 1 boot, 1 bite)
Damage: 1d6 energy drain/1d6 energy drain/1d8/2d6
Save: F8
Morale: +3
TT: J (in lair)
XP: 1280

Barghest appear as huge, feral looking, red-skinned goblins or hobgoblins. Their frames are twisted into wolfish form, with fangs, claws, and black manes running halfway down their backs. Their eyes are their most wolfish feature. Barghests speak Common, Goblin, and Infernal (Zaharan). Typically, a barghest wears only a belted loincloth and great, red-hot iron boots. Barghests trace their descent from the Demon Lord Amon.

For themselves, barghests are the progenitor demons of goblinkind, having bred with wicked elves and men centuries ago to form their own servile mortal race. These so-called sons of the Wolf, when on Talis, attract great groups of hobgoblins, goblins, and other beastmen to their red-stained banners. Barghests have little patience for planning or rule, however, and lead their devout subjects in great waves of slaughter, before almost invariably being driven back by the better prepared, more strategic armies of man, elf, and dwarf. In the modern day, many hobgoblins have turned away from the direct worship of barghests, choosing instead to worship Fenris, the Wolf of the End Times. These hobgoblins are fare more methodical and organized.

All barghests are treated as having the Berserkergang proficiency. They are immune to non-magical weapons, and even magical weapons not made of silver do half damage. Barghests are immune to fire and natural cold.

Barghests tend to fight intelligently, unarmed, letting their great, energy-draining claws, burning shoes, and massive jaws do the talking for them. A creature reduced to 0 damage by a barghest dies immediately, and the barghest is restored to full hit points. A common tactic of barghests is to slay a goblin minion for their soul's energy when the barghest is heavily wounded.

A barghest is able to transform into the shape of a greater hellhound, and remain in this shape indefinitely. In either form, barghests leave burnt footprints where ever they tread.

Many barghests (75%) are also mages of level 1d6. Other barghests (25%) possess thief abilities at level 1d6.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

[ACKS Monster] Largha

% In Lair: 60%
Dungeon: None
Wilderness: Hunt (1d8)/Tribe (2d4 hunts)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90' (30')
Swim: 120' (40')
AC: 4 (3 natural, 1 hides and furs)
Hit Dice: 3*
Attacks: 2 (tusks, by weapon)
Damage: 1d8, by weapon +2
Save: F2
Morale: +1
TT: J (per tribe)
XP: 65

Largha are a bizarre blend of humanoid and walrus, with powerful, 7' builds, neckless torsos ascending into great, tusked heads, and thick, three-fingered hands clutching driftwood harpoons and axes. Largha have wide, flipper-like feet with thick nails. Their hides are thick and blubbery, and largha are able to swim and dwell in the coldest of natural climates with no penalty. Some largha (75%) are primarily sea-dwelling, possessing many longships and skin boats, while other largha are land-based, and possess sleds and the hunting dogs to pull them. 

Largha are fiercely territorial, and will attack interlopers for the sheer joy of it. Largha tribes will not cooperate, and if they encounter one another, it almost always comes to blows.

Most largha fight with harpoons, which they throw with great efficacy. A thrown largha harpoon deals 2d4 damage. Usually, these harpoons are attached to ropes, which the largha uses to reel in their prey. A Save vs. Paralysis is required by the target of a successful largha harpoon, failure resulting in the harpoon remaining embedded. The largha may then reel in their foe at a rate of 30' per round, dealing an additional 1d4 points of damage. A harpooned opponent may continue making Saves vs. Paralysis to break free, or may attack the rope (AC 2, 5 hit points) in order to free themselves.

Largha females are somewhat smaller than the males, having 2 HD and dealing 1d6 damage with their tusks. For every hunt in a lair, there will be 1d6 females and 1d4 non-combatant children. Each hunt of largha will be led by a huntmaster with 4 HD and deals +3 damage with weapons. Each tribe of largha is led by chieftain of 5 HD, who similarly deals +3 damage with weapons, and whose tusks deal 1d10.

25% of largha tribes have a male kagog, which is a spellcaster with the stats of a huntmaster, plus 1d4 levels of shaman and 1d4 levels of warlock. Each tribe will also always possess 1d4 female largha who are able to cast spells as a shaman of level 1d6.

50% of largha tribes will possess 1d4 polar bears as guard animals and companions.