Sunday, November 30, 2014

DOTA School Hack: Initial Concept

Okay, so I've been mulling over various ways to structure character classes and certain monsters for my Neo School Hack of Old School Hack.  OSH gives six unique talents per class, with the option of "multiclassing" by taking talents from other classes as you level up.  OSH doesn't provide for improving talents you already have, although there is a talent or two which you could take more than once to stack the effects.  Andrew Shield's Fictive Hack has some great talent improvement ideas.

But I was thinking about the ability (talent) structure in Warcraft III and the later derivative multi-player arena game Death of the Ancients (DOTA).  In Warcraft III each hero had a basic attack which was ranged or melee, three spells or abilities with three levels each, and an ultimate ability which unlocked once you'd bought all the nine ability levels below it.  So what if we adopt that structure of "three of three, plus one ultimate" for OSH?  One of my favorite heroes was the Naga Sea Witch.  She had a regular ranged bow attack, core abilities of forked lightning, frost arrows, and mana shield, plus an ultimate tornado spell.

Lady Vashj by strannytsa (at

In OSH terms we could build her like this:

HP: 3, plus 1 per level to a maximum of 12 HP
AC: 12, plus 1 every three levels to a maximum of AC 15
Attack: Bow, 1 x 2d10, 1 wound; gain one extra attack at level 6
Attack: Dagger, 1 x 3d10, 1 wound ; gain one extra attack at level 6

Frost Arrow 1/encounter
- Imbue an arrow with magical frost, doing extra damage and slowing the victim; +1 wound of damage and enemy moves at half speed and must pass a Brawn save to make other actions.

Frost Arrow 2/encounter
- Imbue an arrow with magical frost, doing extra damage and slowing the victim; +2 wounds of damage and enemy moves at half speed and must pass a Brawn save at -1 to make other actions.

Frost Arrow 3/encounter
- Imbue an arrow with magical frost, doing extra damage and slowing the victim; +3 wounds of damage and enemy moves at half speed and must pass a Brawn save at -2 to make other actions.

Forked Lightning 1/focus,encounter
- Blast of magical forked lightning strikes three targets in a 60 foot long, 45-degree cone, doing 2 wounds to each; a Daring save dodges 1 wound of damage.

Forked Lightning 2/focus,encounter
- Blast of magical forked lightning strikes three targets in a 60 foot long, 45-degree cone, doing 2 wounds to each; a Daring save dodges 1 wound of damage.

Forked Lightning 3/focus,encounter
- Blast of magical forked lightning strikes three targets in a 60 foot long, 45-degree cone, doing 3 wounds to each; a Daring save dodges 1 wound of damage.

 Mana Shield 1/encounter
 - Radiate mana in a swirling shield which absorbs damage; will absorb two wounds of damage and then dissipate.

Mana Shield 2/encounter
 - Radiate mana in a swirling shield which absorbs damage; will absorb three wounds of damage and then dissipate.

Mana Shield 3/encounter
 - Radiate mana in a swirling shield which absorbs damage; will absorb four wounds of damage and then dissipate.

Tornado/ultimate, focus, rested
- Unleash a magical ocean tornado at a spot up to 90 feet away; raging wind and salt water toss everyone with in a 30 foot radius up 30 feet into the air and brutally buffet them; creatures take 3 wounds per round for two rounds, but a Brawn save each round will reduce the damage by 1 wound; objects in the tornado's radius also take similar damage but get no save; on the third round all creatures and objects in the tornado fall to the ground, suffering a further wound but get a Daring save to land safely.

This structure takes character classes in a definite direction.  Each now has four different talents (three core and one ultimate) instead of six.  So, less variety but more depth per talent plus a very powerful ultimate if you stick with the class.  Multi-classing would be taking the first level of a core talent from another class. This multi-class talent replaces one of your original core talents and so you must have one core talent available in which you have not taken any levels--which also means you cannot multi-class after level seven.  You could limit each PC to just ten levels, resulting in a quick ramp up in abilities (but capping the overall power level) or maybe go up to level 20 with talent buys only allowed at odd levels.

In addition to PCs, this template would work well for monsters--particularly intelligent creatures which are likely to show up as "boss" monsters.  It allows you to easily scale up the creature to the PCs' levels and provides a bit of uncertainty as to what exactly the creature's abilities will be at a given level.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Neo School Hack: Icons (13th Age style)

So I've read a bit about the game 13th Age by Pelgrane Press.  I'm not sure I'll buy it (never say never) but I do like the idea of "Icons" from the game.  As the SRD explains, icons are "Powerful factions that exert their will on the realm in some way or another."  Now, I've used factions in campaigns before.  They are great for providing the driving forces for the overarching plot lines.  They can be good, neutral, evil, chaotic, plaid, whatever.  The PCs may be working for or against multiple factions at any given time.  13th Age makes this explicit right up front with its Icons.  So I thought I'd experiment with a set of Icons for my "Anubia" setting for Neo School Hack.

The Sphinx
- The Sphinx sees all and knows all.  She is mistress of secrets and possessor of hidden things.

The Mummy King
- The mummified remains of a pharaoh so ancient that none but he remembers his name.  He does, however, remember lore from the very earliest age.  The Mummy King is lord of all mummies and commands a host of undead servants

The Pharaoh of the North

- The Pharaoh of the North is proclaimed true pharaoh of all Anubia.  Death to the false, so-called Pharaoh of the South.

The Pharaoh of the South
- The Pharaoh of the South is proclaimed true pharaoh of all Anubia.  Death to the false, so-called Pharaoh of the North.

The Archpriest of Set
- Set is a god from a place of power beyond Anubia and the Archpriest is his right hand on this earth.

Ali Baba, Prince of Thieves
- His title says it all, Prince of Thieves, for that is what he is.  Few know his real name but double cross him and you'll know all about his wrath.

The Nomad Lord
- The tribes who roam the desert bow to no man.  But this one is a natural leader and wise councilor.

The Reaver King
- They say the Sea Peoples who raid the coast of Anubia from the north and sometimes even dare defile the Holy River with their ships.  There is among the many fleets one strong enough to claim the title of king.

The Dwarf Matriarchs
- The women of the dwarvish clans are few in number but great in wisdom.  The council of nine matriarchs may lead rival clans but they know when to ally against outsiders.

The Tree of Life (Ent of Ages)
- Deep in a forest far to the south is the ancient living tree which is the oracle of the elvish peoples.  Its roots reach deep in time and wide in space yet still it walks.  No one knows how ancient it is.

The Mother of All Crocodiles
- The Holy River is deeper than you know and in those depths waits the Mother.  Some say she is the First Daughter of the god Sobek, others that she is his mother.  The river is her domain and all crocodiles are her children.

The Mistress of the Dance
- She goes where she will, dances to her spirit, and none can resist her.  The schools of houris and dervishes all listen for her whispered commands.

The Hyena Lord
- Deep in the desert he gathers the scattered bands of the hyena-born and bends them to his will.  They fear him and obey him--mostly when he leads them to war, massacre, and plunder.

Neo School Hack: Engelings and Teuflings

Okay, so I'm back on the righteous path of my hack of the esteemed Old School Hack.  This bit is a deviation from the Anubia campaign material I was developing but I wanted to do some stuff for my work-in-progress campaign world.  That world features a period called the War of Angels and Demons during which demi-god beings from another dimension called demons and angels left their mark on the world in many ways--including the bloodlines of mortal beings.  The classic D&D aasimar and tiefling player races fit the bill perfectly here, but I need to adapt them to Neo School Hack.  Also, I've never liked the name "aasimar", because an angelic creature shouldn't have a name with "ass" on the front of it.  No, it should not.  Anyway, as with the previous races presented each one has racial talents which can only be taken by characters of that race.  Given that these races have a bit of the hallowed/fel within them which could manifest in many ways in a mortal I gave them each six talents to choose from rather than the usual three--but they can only ever take a maximum of three from those six.

Teufling (those with demonic ancestry)

There's One Born Every Minute/focus: detect Good
Can't Catch Me/constant: +1 bonus to Daring rolls
Nether Umbra/focus, encounter: aura of deep darkness, 20' radius; 1 minute or instantaneous nullification of light spells
Venom Veins/constant: poisonous blood
Boo!/rested: suddenly contort your face in a horrific (but painful) manner; +2 to rolls frighten or intimidate
Tail of Woe/constant: you have a long devil tail (not prehensile nor strong enough to use as a weapon by itself)

Engeling (those with angelic ancestry)
Something Wicked This Way Comes/focus: detect Evil
Pure Blood/constant: +1 bonus to resisting disease
Strongheart/constant: +1 bonus to Commitment rolls
Heavenly/focus, encounter: +2 bonus to Charm
Like an Angel/focus, encounter: bright golden light in the shape of a halo or wings (pick one on taking this talent) sheds light, 20' radius; 1 minute or instantaneous nullification of darkness spells
Chicken Soup for the Soul/focus, rested: cure one disease on someone

The Journal of Katherine, Entry 57

I feel like my continued acceptance in this order is hinged on the recovery of the codex.  In my prayers to the Light, I knew then and I now know, I made the right choice.  I gaze at the coals of the fire, keeping the chill of the approaching winter air away, and ponder if my superiors will see my point of view?  I will explain that I could not destroy it.  Our city, all of our civilized world, and all that we hold close to our hearts would be worse if I did.  I convinced my friends to bury it, safe within its cell, made for it by an ancient spirit that we all saw.  Will the order accept this?  The fire spits a hiss, as if to answer, but I know I am right.

All too soon the Royal Kalef will know of our return.  He will want to hear our discoveries.  But he will be most troubled by the disappearance of his seer.  He may think a coincidence is unlikely and we must be cautious.

Let me summarize our return. 

We left the city of Antaw when a sand storm approaches.  We tether ourselves, for we can barely see an arm length in front.  Kull leads the way, Ohm Uri, then Trevor, me and lastly Brute.  How Kull manages to travel the correct way is still a mystery to me. 

We make camp with the sand still pelting us.  We use shields to help keep the tent standing.  All but me fall asleep quickly.  I stay awake, because sand went everywhere.  I can only think about how to be rid of sand.  Whichever way I roll, sand is there, to rub and chafe.  And it is in places men do not worry about.

A few more days of wandering, and we happen to discover a pyramid.  We investigate the inside to provide relief from the closeness of the tent.  Exploring to make sure it is a safe resting place,we find, besides the horde of skeletal constructs, a pool of water, and when we drink, makes us more bold and an appearance of being younger.

Also found in this pyramid is a cursed one.  We find it dressed in rotten clothes and hooded, chained to a wall and appears dead.  Ohm Uri pokes the corpse, and to our surprise it moans and moves, still alive after many years.  When we lower its hood to expose its face, Ohm Uri and I are taken aback by the creature's features.  Its eyes are cut out, leaving dark holes in a grotesque face.  It murmurs incoherent babble, suggesting its tongue also cut out.  I quickly back away and pray to the Light to reveal what is this creature.  I get a very strong dark essence, and if set free, will try to destroy us.  We leave it, chained to the wall with shackles forged from the fiery pits of the dark,  sealing it back in its tomb.

We return to the portal soon after the pyramid without anymore delay.  Cass, who was the oracle for the ruler, waits for us as we enter the main room.  Cass ran away from the "master" with Ohm Uri's help before we left.  Cass explains that she was enslaved by her master.  Brute eluded that since Cass was found wearing Ohm Uri's clothes, and Ohm Uri wearing Cass' clothes, that something "else" happened.  Upon questioning Cass and Ohm Uri, I did not get a decisive answer as to the extent of their encounter. 

The coals are dying out, and the chill is returning to my cell.  I'll conclude with a note on my friends.  My friends, yes, I can call them friends, even though I know they are not true believers.  Brute, Kull and Trevor will see me to treat their wounds.  Brute thought that his kind, half elf and half beast, would not be welcome to my temple.  I assured Brute, that he has earned my trust and is most welcome.  The same for Kull, too.  Poor Trevor suffered the worst.  Mysteriously, he was injured and he collapsed when we return through the portal.  Trevor held the key for us to go there, and for our quick return.  I wanted Trevor to be so much more; I expected too much of him.  Realizing he cannot be a brawny fighter like Ohm Uri, a magic spinner and one with honor and morals like Brute, has been difficult for me.  I must not be so naive.  As for Ohm Uri - I am not sure what he will do next.  Soon, they will be too busy to visit a small priestess.  I will miss them and the adventures we took.

Back to my temple for me.  I must pursue my priestly climb in the temple.  First task, find new members and what better place to search than inspiration point...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Journal of Katherine, Entry 56

After a short rest, we open the door on the far wall and see a huge cavern with lava at the bottom.  A narrow stone walkway bridges a platform in the middle.  Something is there, but we cannot see exactly what it is.  We start our cautious trip, knowing one slip and an unpleasant fall to a hot, burning death waits.  To our left, we see a second walkway, most likely accessible only from the middle room.  The walkway has two gaps, which if connected, would form a bridge straight across the room to a door on the far side.  It has two missing bridges.  Behind even farther, is a third walkway similar to this one. We all simultaneously conclude there must be two levers that control two drawbridges.  Brute finds a lever and soon, we hear a loud grinding, and a walkway rises from the depths to connect half of the bridge.

We move to the room from the left door, the one with a lava river and many statues.  Kull has the idea to put the statues into the lava river to make a stepping stone bridge.  With the strength of three men, he picks up a statue and tosses it in.  It sinks, but finds a bottom.  A little part is exposed.  More statues!  Just then a few start moving and attacking. 

Brute, Kull, and Ohm Uri's intense aggressive fighting gives me great concern, for they care not for their own health and safety.  I feel obliged to help.  All three take nasty cuts and bruises.  I run amongst calling on the Light for aid to bind their wounds.  And they keep fighting.  And continue to get hurt. 

I hear Brute telling me I am reckless.  Instead of running around, I decide to help and attack the statues, too.  I rush over to swing, but before I do, I rise up in the air.  "Put me down!"  I scream and see the creature's claw swipe, barely missing my legs.  "Brute, put me down!"  For a brief moment, I feel vulnerable, as he can easily carry me away or worse, but he did not.  The last time Brute picked up a woman, he took her home as a trophy.  But he sets me down, gently.  I put aside the anger and the animosity, realizing he saved my life.

I turn towards Trevor and plead with him so he can help with his magic.  But he tells me his magic effects the mind, and these statues have no mind.  I turn back to look at the three.  Ohm Uri is badly injured.  I focus on the sorcery power easily, but instead, I use it to reach for the Light, twice, to call upon the healing aid.  Ohm Uri is better. 

When all the statues on this side of the lava are destroyed, I suggest we rest.  Kull notices movement from a statue on the other side of the lava river. 

I curse.  And Kull has an episode.

His rational mind hides away.  Then a primal force unleashes.  His eyes roll back into his head and foam drips from his mouth.  He looks grotesque.  His muscles tighten.  Sweat beads on his flesh.  I fear for his wellbeing. 

He jumps over the lava river and throws his body into more statues, knocking many over.  Kull is up first and with single blows, statues break.  But more move and soon they surround him.  Brute jumps the lava and Ohm Uri also joins.  My concern for Kull makes me want to get over our makeshift bridge.  I'm not that agile, but I think I can do it.  At my first gesture to climb over the bridge Brute looks at me.  In the midst of swinging his weapon, he takes time to focus on me.  The battle waits for him to raise his hand in gesture.  One word: stop!  It hits me hard, like all the air slammed from my lungs.  I wait, sit down, and worry.  How can he know or see me when he is in the fight?  I focus inward.  I search for the Light within me.  I worry and I search.

Trevor taps me on the shoulder, returning me to this battle scene.  I look around, and the scene is quiet.  Stone dust from the statues cover our clothes and wounds.  No more moving statues.  No more still statues.  All are smashed and knocked over.  Kull is out, but alive and resting.  Brute extends me a helping hand to cross the lava river, over our make shift stepping stone bridge.  Once we are all safely across, again Brute follows the pathway through the heat, to turn the lever.  The magic or mechanics still work after a thousand years.  Just as impressive as before, a second bridge rises to finish the connection of the walkway.

We rest.

Day 4 of our trip in the desert

The day starts after our short rest, so we can recover our stamina.  I am not sure if the sun set and rose again while we rest, as we are deep underground, in an ancient temple.  Most importantly, my vision to the Light is clear now.  I worry that asking too much would cloud my vision, as I have witnessed this with others before.  The fighters are still in poor health.

For our food, I bless three, three day old loaves of bread, to nourish and give strength to our mighty warriors: Ohm Uri, Kull and Brute.  When I finish the blessing, the bread smells freshly baked, with a slice of butter on top.  The warriors are skeptical about the bread, but soon they feel the healing power.  I nibble on wilting vegetables, to push the starvation feeling away, while Trevor does not appear to eat much.  He is very strange and distant to me on this trip.  I talked to him before about helping with his magic, but all he says is that if he dies, the rest of us are stuck here.  On past trips, we grew together, but on this trip, we are growing apart.

We study the next room with the traps.  There are many grooves in the floor and matching ones in the ceiling, but no real order to them.  Ohm Uri enters with his magic shoes and walks on the walls, safely to the door on the far side and hops down and waits.

Brute takes a shield and rolls over a groove.  I hear loud metal whirling sounds and many large circular steel blades roll up from the floor and down from the ceiling in every groove.  This room is pure mechanical evil!  No creature can survive in there.  I gasp to think Brute may be in pieces when the whirling blades retreat back to their resting place. 

To my relief, Brute is not hurt.  The shield takes the blow.  The mind of Brute works to take this as a challenge when most men would give up in fear.  Confident, he continues to roll over a second groove and no blade comes up or down.  Trevor, thinking quick, tosses chalk, stating to mark that groove as safe.  There are many more grooves to mark, and with each move, I hear the loud whirling sounds and feel the vibrations of the cogs moving.  I find myself sneaking a smile as I watch the two of them find the safe route.

Kull is another challenge to get through.  His size alone has problems.  But Brute works to keep Kull calm.  On my turn, I summon courage to make the first step.  The noise, sight and vibration are enough to make one go running, but I freeze, envisioning the blade, stuck before, but now free, to slice through me, cutting me in half.  But no.  I pass intact, and it gets easier with each pass over the chalk marked grooves.

We cross the lava pit to yet, another room.  This room is cool, instead of hot.  Powerful magics effect this room after many years to keep this so cool.  It is filled with books and tables and chairs.  In addition to the door we came from, two other doors exist, one of ivory and one of ebony.  A small fountain bubbles into a basin in a corner.

Against my suggestion, Brute drinks from this fountain, for he wants refreshment after the room with the blades.  He says the water is refreshing and invigorating, then passes out, slumping to the floor, fast asleep.  No amount of prodding will wake him - a magical slumber.  I pick up a book, willing to read it, for we will be here a while. The writings are similar to a strange language I learned when I stayed at the priory.  I scan through the book, and with illustrations, I decipher some passages.  Two in particular state the codex will possess who ever picks it up, and destroying it will release a dark spirit to cause destruction.  This confirms Trevor's dream.  An item of power it is, but it is also a manifestation of pure darkness.  I cannot return with it.  Yet, I said before I would destroy it.

Brute wakes, finishing his sentence from where he left off, unaware of his long nap.  We can proceed.  I open the ivory door.  The room is cold and has no other exits.  A blue gem is encased in ice in the center.  This room gives me a pleasant feeling, but we cannot stay long, for we are here to find the codex.

Brute opens the ebony door.  A passageway leads to a round room with a large statue of a desert cat, three times the size of Kull, with glowing red eyes and a large ruby red gem on a chain around its neck.  When we enter, the statue of the cat starts moving.  And chaos engulfs me.

The three strong agile men run into the room, past the cat, or on top of it.  The cat seems to play with its three new toys, and Trevor runs to a lever on the left.  What?!  I am left alone in the corridor.  I follow Trevor and quickly state not to pull the lever, for it has magic, fearing the floor will collapse, if he does.  Visions haunt my mind of the whirling blade room.

I manage another scolding look from Brute as I rush to Ohm Uri and Kull, calling the Light to intervene to keep them alive while we all battle this monstrosity.  Strange for a cat, for it focuses on Trevor who is the only one not running around, and charges him.  Without hesitation Trevor pulls the lever.  A large stone falls from the ceiling, crushing the creature. 

This is almost comical, as if I were watching what a young pupil did with a book, years ago.  I forget his name now.  He drew a small picture on the corner of a book.  Then on the next page, he drew the same picture, just a little different.  He did this many times, and then he flips the pages very fast.  The funny scenes he portrayed came into motion, with large anvils falling, like this stone.  Our superiors were not amused when they found out, and punished him. 

After the stone fell, an outline of a door appears.  We open the door and follow the passage to a last room.  There are three iron bound books that all have slid from alters or tables.  The tables tilted due to an earthquake that happened a long time ago.  All have a dark aura.  Are there more than one codex?  I sit and meditate.  What can I do?  My judgment has been very poor recently.  I am failing with almost every decision.  I pray. 

In my prayers, I have dark visions of the iron codex, especially if it is destroyed.  The Light confirms me.  I also feel lifted as if floating through the air, flying and then back down.  I open my eyes from my prayer and the room is different.  One alter is here now, and only one book.  I shout to Brute as he is swinging at the book.  No!  Stop!  Don't destroy it.  The book slid from the alter and should be righted.  Then Kull, feeling the will of the Light, sets the alter straight, so it is level.  Then he picks up the book with cloth, so as not to touch it with his hands, and sets it on the alter.  Calm passes over me.  It seems a magical calm from the alter, and others must also feel it, too.  A vision of a boy appears, and says something we do not know, but also smiles, a kind smile, and then disappears. 

Brute picks me up, and proceeds to get out of the room.  He must still think I am in prayer, and many rooms and halls pass by before he sets me down.  We are in the entrance area where we started.  As he sets me down, a feeling of compassion, no, desire, washes over my entire body.  I think of Veronica.  In a fleeting moment, if I were her, then it is gone.  I push the feeling away, far away.  I close my eyes.  I fight this feeling and the tears swell.  Why must this be so difficult!  I want to only serve the Light!  I wait a while, prone.  After what seems like an eternity, I get up, controlled and without looking at anyone, gather my writing things and start recording these events.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Chronicles of the Amazing Trevor: Chapter Fourteen (Hallway to Hell)

I stumbled up the stairs from the cellar into the kitchen, still invisible under the effects of the ring which I could not remove.  The scene was an absolute shambles.  Did these people never wash anything?  Also, there were quite a few dead and dying persons on the floor. Pressing my hand against my bleeding side I watched as my companions put down the last of the ruffians.  I rejoiced to see that none of our plucky band were missing--except for Uhmri, who was probably elsewhere in the house of the Lady.

The situation was still very much up in the air.  There was a wounded assassin-flavored desperado and a black living statue downstairs and a witch with heaven-only-knows how many retainers upstairs.  We had mere moments before they rallied and attacked from all sides.  Naturally, Katherine took this as the perfect time to remonstrate with Kull for offing some alley-runner outside.  Ah, sweet K.  Apparently the fellow was actually the driver of the cart which brought in the new tranche of captives.  However he was unarmed at the time that Kull abruptly cancelled his future career plans by stomping on his head.  K was trying hard to explain about the ethical dilemma inherent in crushing the skull of an unarmed enemy and Kull was trying hard to understand why there was an ethical dilemma inherent in crushing the skull of an evil slaver.  Sensing that this might take a wee bit more time to resolve than we had at present, I braved the ethical dilemma inherent in simultaneously risking annoying both of them by interrupting suddenly.  So I interrupted suddenly and blurted out the situation below us, with cages full of slaves, piles of bodies, masked desperadoes, the black statue back on our trail, a powerful witch, so do try to keep up, won't you?

Brute asked, "Slavers?"  "Or worse", I replied.  "None leave alive", was his rejoinder.

K stanched my wound with the power of the Light.  Then we descended to the cellar and arrayed ourselves for battle.  Our goal was freeing the captives in the vault and to do that we would have to deal decisively with the statue and masked desperado.  With any luck the battle would leave the rather decent little wine cellar nearby untouched.  Kull and Uhmri faced the vault door.  Knowing that reinforcements might descend from the house above at any time, Brute guarded the stairs with Katherine, and I stood by to lend my skills wherever need was most.  We did not have long to wait.  The statue within was already pounding heavily on the massive door to the prison vault at the end of the corridor.  Despite its immense bulk the door soon collapsed into the hallway, revealing the dark figure framed against the lit room beyond.

To my surprise, Uhmri shot forward like an arrow and threw himself bodily upon the thing!  Kull moved forward with his sword, ready to rain blows upon it.  Seeing that the stone woman was well engaged, I dashed past as quietly as I could in my invisibility.  Slipping into the room beyond I sought out the masked villain.  I spotted him immediately, rising wounded and dazed from the floor.  I quickly cast my old standby, Dragon Image, hoping to finish him off quickly.  Alas the impertinent fellow saw through my reptilian mirage straightaway--no mean feat for a chap with only one eye.  Uhmri suddenly dove past me and slid along the floor towards him in a bold and clever maneuver which actually missed the ruffian quite entirely.

Behind me I could hear Kull and the thing of stone trading blows like titans. With only my old Color Spray still uncast I drew my dagger and moved to engage the masked one.  But I was distracted by the clamor of enemy reinforcements crashing down the stairs to where Brute awaited them with death in his hands.  Uhmri quickly leaped forward against the masked henchman and landed a perfect kick to his gentleman's bits.  The blighter collapsed nicely.  A scream down the hall told me that Brute had felled the first of the intruders on the staircase.  Things seemed to be well in hand so I grabbed the stricken henchman and attempted some blunt interrogation.  However he fought to break free and I slit his throat with my dagger.  Blood sprayed everywhere.  It was an unpleasant moment.  I do so abhor physical violence.  I checked the corpse for keys to the cells.  He had some fascinatingly ornate keys in his pocket, but then I spotted a rather more ordinary set on a peg on the wall.

K then entered the prison vault and took in the scene.  I suddenly felt rather ashamed of my blood-spattered appearance as I crouched over my fallen opponent, even though I knew she could not see my in my invisible state.  Then to my horror and consternation, Uhmri bent down and drank of the blood of the desperado, smeared it all over himself, and tasted of the red heart blood.

Then the Lady and her henchmen arrived in force from upstairs.  She attempted some spell, which the doughty Brute shrugged off, then set two of her minions on him.  With a mighty roar he cut one of them down with his first blow.  Kull finally brought the dark statute down, returning it to a motionless chunk of stone.  The battle was fully on.

I took the cell keys from the peg and began freeing the prisoners.  Uhmri, still covered in fresh scarlet blood, followed casually and began cordially shaking hands with each of the unfortunates as they emerged.  One woman staggered out and collapsed on him, smeared in the same blood.

Kull suddenly roared in outrage.  I glanced down the hallway and saw that a richly equipped man-at-arms had somehow gotten into the passage (later we surmised he'd used the laundry chute) and struck the massive odd-fellow from behind.

K cast some spell, I thought perhaps to discern the presence of any magic in the room.  Then she warned the freed captives to stay in the room because of the danger raging in the main hall.  And indeed the situation became even more dangerous.  Another noble-looking fighting man emerged from the laundry room and assaulted Brute from the flank as he battled a swordsman on the stairs.  Then Lady Miranda plied her fel talents again.

All of  a suddenly the two odd-fellows began screaming like madmen.  Fearing some witchery I stepped over and glanced down the hallway.  Kull engaged the man-at-arms with gusto.  But suddenly Brute came pelting down at me howling like a banshee.  I dived aside and he ran by into the vault room shouting "the horror!".  Having seen Brute face the fearsome chaos beasts by the lake like a lion I knew only a powerful enchantment could affect him thus.

As Brute dashed across the vault in seeming panic, Uhmri suddenly joined him and began running about screaming in mock fear.  Once again I wondered what was affecting the fellow.  Were his wolf pelts possessed of some strange spirit?  Was the enchantment on Brute contagious? Kull, too, appeared possessed of some animus and wrath blazed from his face like a sun gone wild.  Surrounded by three assailants now Kull wielded his sword with magnificent savagery.

Brute paused for a moment in his enchanted state and I quickly offered him my last bottle of wine.  A major sacrifice to be sure, but the fellow needed something and it was all I had.  Several large gulps revived him and he dashed back into the fray.  Uhmri then grabbed the seemingly floating bottle.  I hadn't meant him to partake of my final example of the vintner's craft but in his present odd state it might help restore him as well.

Brute rejoined the combat none too soon because his hulking battle-companion just then collapsed under a rain of blows.  As Brute engaged the two men-at-arms and the common swordsman by the fallen Kull, K and I positioned ourselves behind him and began casting our arcane best.  Uhmri simply hung about in the vault sipping from the bottle.  I thought to myself that we really must find out what was behind his odd behavior.

K unleashed an impressive blast of arcane power at the witch and caused quite an injury.  Then she cast some enchantment on one of the men-at-arms and caused him to stand staring off into space.  The other two fighters then rushed towards K to prevent further injury to their fel mistress.  The witch cast some hex on K but it dissipated immediately, perhaps due to the Light within our plucky priestess.  Brute cut down one of the men-at-arms and intervened to protect Katherine.  I stepped clear of the fray, took a deep breath, and performed a lovely casting of the old Color Spray on her witchyness.  Take that you wench!

To my consternation it not only failed to affect the vain trollop but rebounded from her staff and rained blazing rainbow sparks around me in profusion.  The sudden turn of events took me quite by surprise and I only narrowly avoided the intensely humiliating experience of being hoist on my own petard.

Behind me Brute felled the remaining man-at-arms and minion chap with typical efficiency.  K rushed over and channeled the Light into the expiring Kull just in time.  Temporarily out of arcane mana I crept up invisibly on the Lady at the end of the hall.  Picking a moment I thrust with my bloody dagger!  Alas, once again her hidden hexes turned aside my assault!  And now she was well aware of my presence nearby.

Another of the witch's armed minions leapt forward and managed to wound our Brute.  The witch dashed forward to take advantage of K's momentary focus on healing the prostrate Kull.  Sprouting long claw-like nails she raked them cruelly across the young cleric's back.  Angered by this assault Brute dealt a cruel wound of his own to his opponent, who staggered back to the wall and slid down to the floor gushing blood.  Katherine ducked away from the Lady and poured more of the Light into Kull.

Glancing past this unfolding drama in the hallway I espied Uhmri beyond.  The druid was still hanging about in the vault.  He had apparently finished off the last of the vintage and was mingling with the recovering people around him.  To my amazement he was alternately hugging and and fondling the male and female persons indiscriminately with happy abandon.  They seemed no less amazed by the behavior than I.

Alone but undaunted the witch drew out a dagger with a blade of a strange greenish metal.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Finally bought the Pathfinder Chase Cards

Okay, so I recently happened into my FLGS, Games and Stuff, and purchased Ponyfinder (details in a future post) and Pathfinder Chase Cards 2, Hot Pursuit.  We've been using the Plot Twist cards in our games for a while, both decks, and we've enjoyed them more than I thought we would (to be honest).  Paizo has lots of other decks, but the only one which really interests me is their two Chase Cards decks.

I will admit to having avoided chase scenes (well, planned ones) in my games because they were tough for me to do well.  So when I saw that there was a deck of cards out to make it easier to run random chase scenes I was intrigued.  And so yesterday I finally jumped in and bought one.  They were out of the 1st deck, but the two are designed to be used independently so it really didn't matter.

The cards come divided into ones for dungeon, wilderness, and urban chases.  Each has a situation and two ways to get past it, usually with skill checks but also using saves and other mechanics.  It's quick and straightforward and I think these will be fun.  In play I will put the deck in the center of the table and let the players pull each situation from the deck themselves.  I like the idea that they get the fun of seeing what comes up next.

The only disappointing thing with the cards is that there aren't a lot of options offered on each card for resolution.  I generally set the creative content bar high for reviews of Paizo Pathfinder products because I know they are capable of really good stuff.  The Plot Twist cards each have about half a dozen ideas on each one so I know they can do better.