Sunday 28 February 2010

Match Postponed

Apologies to anyone who tuned in last night hoping to see SNFC.

Mummy Grognard needed to use the computer for an important college assignment and I was therefore unable to post. She didn't finish till gone midnight.

Normal SNFC service will be resumed next Saturday with Hill Giant v Ankheg.

Thursday 25 February 2010

Willow wins it!

Maybe it's her red hair...

Maybe it's her awesome witchy powers...

Or maybe it's because she's just so darn cute....

But 84% agreed with me that when it comes to the Scooby gang, the magic-user has the edge over the fighter.

Monday 22 February 2010

Miniatures Monday - The Jolly Green Giant

I'm not sure if this guy was supposed to be a Hill Giant originally but Andy decided to give him a more back-to-nature look. I love the axe, which has that authentically primitive feel and whilst not dripping with gore, has the 'used' look. We can only guess at the havoc that this guy has wrought with it.

If you look carefully, you can see the detail on the bearskin he wears as a cape, and also the splashes of blood in the painted stone floor detail on the base. Again, Andy has eschewed the obvious bright red for something that seems far more realistic and actually looks like spilt blood.

Saturday 20 February 2010

Saturday Night Fight Club - Bully for You

This week, we’ve got a humdinger of a contest. It couldn’t be closer if two of the same monster were fighting each other, so without further ado, let’s meet the contestants. First into the ring is a creature with the head of a bull, the body of a man, who strikes fear into the hearts of men….

No, not that one. This one…


AC 6
HD 6+3 average hp 30
Atts 2 (butt or bite) or by weapon
Damage 2-8 or 1-4 or large axe 2-12 damage - yeah, I think he'll be using that one.
Special defences: Surprised only on a 1
THAC0 13, so he’ll hit the Lizard on an 8

And up against him, a leftover from the age of the dinosaurs, a time when if your name didn’t end in Saurus, you weren’t getting into Club Supremacy…


" cousin is a Basilisk!"

AC 5
HD 6 average hp 27
Atts 1
Damage per attack 2-12
THAC0 13 so it’ll hit Bully on a 7
If it rolls a 20 to hit, it has clamped its jaws on to its victim and will do double damage (a natural critical)

But wait, I hear you cry. Right next door to the subterranean lizard is a Minotaur Lizard, would this not have been a more appropriate opponent? Well, it’s got more hit dice, does more damage and a better armour class…

Okay, I’ll pit them against each other at the end of the fight for your jaded appetites, you bunch of sybarites, you.

So now it’s time for Trial by Combat!

Bully is only surprised on a 1, it says, so I wonder, shall we check to see if he’s surprised by finding a Subterranean Lizard UNDER THE GROUND?


Okay, so it’s reaction time. Bully rolls a 2, Liz rolls a 1.

Bully swings with that axe, gets a 10. It’s a hit, and he rolls his 2d6 to see how much damage that BIG axe does. It’s a stonking 9.

Is the lizard perturbed? I don’t know; what does a perturbed lizard look like?

She must be slightly perturbed because with a 5, she’s just missed Bully.

Well, at the end of round 1, Bully has yet to bleed, whilst Liz is on 18hp.

Ding ding, round 2.

Reaction rolls, and this time Liz gets a 6, whilst Bully is on 3.

That d20 is not serving Liz well tonight; a 6 to hit and those supposedly lethal jaws bite on empty air.

Bully swings the axe again, and with a 17, hits home. Another nine damage. If this carries on the way it’s been going, we’ll have to have a rematch.

End of round 2, Liz is limping on 9 and Bully is wound-free on 30 still.

Round 3

Both Liz and Bully roll 1 on their reactions. I’m not sure what they were waiting for; perhaps a new d20 in Liz’s case. With a 9, the lizard has finally managed to get some beef for dinner. A cracking 10 damage brings Bully down to 20. But does Bully have an answer for that one?

17 – I’ve not seen such good axe work since Iron Maiden last played Wembley…

Unfortunately, the d6 let him down and he inflicts just 3 damage on Liz.

End of that round and Liz is on 6 and Bully is now on 20.

Round 4 – it’s all still to play for (who am I trying to kid?)

Bully rolls a 3 to Liz’s 2. Bully swings the axe…

It’s a 10 – he’s nothing if not consistent. And with 7 damage, he sends the lizard packing.

Okay, so we might as well have a second helping before the main course arrives…

Round 1 –

Let’s see if Liz’s luck with the d20 has changed. Reaction rolls, if you please…

Bully rolls a 4, Liz is behind on 2.

Bully gets an 11 to hit, and does a respectable 8 damage.

At last the wind of d20 change is blowing and Liz gets a 15 to hit. The damage weigh in at 6, which is not great but not bad either.

Liz is on 19 and Bully on 24.

Round 2

Liz and Bully both roll 4 for reaction. Liz gets a 9 and Bully gets an 18. He really is rolling some cracking d20s tonight – I don’t think he’s actually missed. That might stand him in good stead later.

And guess what – they both do 7 damage, which is exactly the average of 2d6.

End of round 2, Liz is on 12, Bully on 17.

Round 3

Liz is a scaly blur with a 6 reaction, Bully slightly more sluggish with a 2

Liz rolls a 9 again, damage of 8.

Bully lets fly with the axe and with all the predictability of a tax rise, he hits with a 14. His damage is 6 and so, at the end of Round 3, we have

Liz on 6hp and Bully on 9.

Surely Bully’s dice luck can’t last forever. Let’s see with the arrival of…

Round 4

Liz and Bully both get 2 on the reaction, so it might be that they’ll kill each other.

Liz gets a 12 on the d20 and does damage of 11 – that’ll take Bully out. However, before he goes, the horny one gets one last roll of the dice and with a 4, he actually misses, for the first time in either of these two bouts…

So there we have it. One-all and it seems that with two such evenly-matched creatures, it’s all down to the dice luck. Bully had it all going for him in that one, with only one missed hit.

So now, it’s time for the after-dinner entertainment. You’ve finished off the chicken in a basket, had a glass of house white, the lights are dimmed and some rather naff 70s disco music comes on the PA system.

It’s time for Saturday Night Fight Club Extra!

We know Bully’s stats, but here is the Mike Tyson of the lizard world…

Minotaur Lizard

AC 5
HD 8 (36 average hp)
Atts 3
Damage per attack 2-12/2-12/3-18
THAC0 of 12 which means he’ll hit Bully on a 6.

A roll of 20 indicates that the lizard has seized its prey firmly in its mouth and can bite it again next round with no chance of attack from its victim.

Okay, round 1

Big Minnie rolls a 1 on the reaction, Bully rolls a 3.

In swings the axe, and with a 15, he hits. Damage of 7. The crowd goes wild.

I can’t believe this – Big Minnie has rolled a 4, a 3 and an 8!

And what’s worse, the damage from that bite comes out at only 7.

So, end of round 1 and Bully is on 23, whilst Big Minnie is on 29. That’s not much of a gap. Let’s see what happens in

Round 2

Bully rolls a 5, Big Minnie rolls a 2.

Bully hefts his axe but his luck deserts him as a 1 comes up. Fortunately for him, he doesn’t roll another one.

Could this be where the tide turns for our bull-headed contender?

Big Minnie rolls the to hits…


One claw, one bite make bloody contact with Bully.

7 and 12 – that’s a stonking 19.

End of round 2 and Bully is on 4, while Big Minnie is on 29.

Round 3 reactions.

Bully gets a 5 and Big Minnie has to make do with a 1.

Bully clips it with a 9, but only gets a 4 in damage. It looks like Game Over for the mad axeman…

15,6,12 – all three attacks hit home. If you are of a squeamish disposition, look away now…

5, 3, 9 – total of 17. It could have been a lot higher but 17 is high enough.

Well, we should give a round of applause for Bully, who really gave it his all for that last fight. Even if he’d hit on every round and done average damage, he’d still have only done 21 damage to the minotaur lizard, who could have taken that sort of pounding for another two rounds and still been on 1hp.

In my opinion, one of the interesting features of SNFC is the way that the obscure monsters get their chance in the limelight. How often have players actually come up against a minotaur lizard before? And yet, they are truly fearsome opponents, capable of dishing out an AVERAGE 24hp of damage per round. They’ve got a THAC0 of 12, which means that even on AC2, a character is going to get hit about 50% of the time. Worryingly, the Monster Manual tells us that we will encounter 1-8 of these terrors but at least they’ve only got a 6” movement rate, so you’ve got plenty of chance to outrun them.

I wonder what would happen if a normal party went up against the minotaur lizard? I’m going to get me a vivarium and start breeding them now for use in my next dungeon, mwa-ha-ha-ha!

I’ve not come up with a combo for next week yet, so I’m open to suggestions.

Friday 19 February 2010

Team Adventure Campaign Log Session 3


I have acquired an office whiteboard, which is more or less the width of our playing table. This, along with a couple of marker pens serves us very well as our battlemat – ideal for sessions when the action takes place outdoors or in areas that would not really work with conventional dungeon floor plans.

Readers should note that this session is based on the Spider Farm module from Dragonsfoot.

The Adventure

Having received the alert from the escaped farm worker about the seizure of the farm by goblins, the party set off up the trackway towards the Spider Farm. Pretty soon, they were there – the distance was only about three or four miles.

I sketched out the overall layout on the whiteboard and the party decided on their strategy. They were accompanied by Sergeant Subaras and Trooper Prebor from the West Gate, with whom they had adventured before and Trooper Frell from the East Gate detachment.

Again, they decided on a three-pronged approach, with Alurax and Akurath and Subaras heading towards the central spider pit to see what it was, Elise and Prebor taking the right flank and Zhastar and Frell on the left.

As it was daylight, the party did not encounter any goblins out and about, since they were not aware that their presence was yet known in town. Zhastar and Frell were the first to find something; listening at the wall of one of the dormitories, they heard some groaning and whimpering, some harsh voices and the sound of punches. They scurried off and got the rest of the party together and, with weapons drawn, they burst in to find two goblins busy beating up the farmer while another four stood around watching.

Sergeant Subaras and Prebor took the goblins wholly by surprise and took down a couple. On the next round, the party came hurtling through in strength (apart from Zhastar and Frell, who were keeping an eye on the outside). Some vicious fighting took place, with the four observer goblins hacked down and backed into a corner where they were soon finished off. Subaras and Prebor made short work of the torturer goblins. In all, I don’t think that anyone in the party even suffered a hit.

Alurax was on the point of getting Elise to give the farmer a Cure Light when Zhastar and Frell arrived back with bad news – there were shouts of alarm and the sound of movement from the farm’s dining hall, the next building up.

No time for regrouping, the party made straight for the main doors and as they burst in, they met goblins in serious numbers coming out. Battle was joined in the doorway. Elise felled one with her Lucerne hammer, Alurax went blade to blade with what looked like a goblin leader. As the goblin facing Elise fell, two goblin archers popped up from behind the counter at the back and opened fire, hitting Elise and taking her down to –2. Prebor dragged her to safety as Subaras manfully stepped into the breach.

Meanwhile, unnoticed by the party, two goblins who had been near the kitchen area vanished form the table. Where had they gone? We’ll see.

The melee in the doorway was going the party’s way now, with Subaras weighing in, taking down another goblin and Alurax opening fire with his bow on the goblin archers. Several goblin arrows came very close to hitting either Subaras or Alurax but none did.

As the fighting inside the dining hall came to an end, Akurath was taken wholly by surprise as the two goblins that had sneaked out of the back door came hurtling round the corner of the building and attacked. Fortunately, they both missed, and Akurath and Frell took them out with little effort.

The final goblin archer tossed down his weapon and offered to surrender but Alurax was having none of it and Elise, having been the recipient of the only Cure Light of the whole game, was sent in to finish him off with her hammer.

As the party regrouped, they came under bow fire from the corner of the next building. Four goblin archers had appeared and were busy trying to turn our heroes into pincushions. Alurax, Akurath with his newly-purchased heavy crossbow and Trooper Frell with his crossbow were returning fire. It must have looked like some sort of Western gunfight, as neither side made any attempt to close, just exchanged missile fire.

Eventually, the party’s superior to hits told and two of the goblins fell. Only Akurath had taken any hits and as his HP were 10 to start with, he wasn’t that bothered. The two surviving goblins took off into the forest surrounding the farm.

It was then that Zhastar mentioned that he thought that he had heard muffled voices whilst in the dining hall. The party headed back there and soon fond a trapdoor at the back near the kitchen. When they opened it, there were five surviving farm workers, very glad to be rescued.

A cursory search of the outbuildings revealed the bodies of five other workers in two buildings, and the party was on the verge of investigating the pit in the centre of the farm when the farmer told them that this was where they kept the spiders, and there was definitely no need for them to go down there.

Flushed with the success of their mission, the party headed back to Antiar’s Landing with the chink of gold in their pockets (the farmer had rewarded them with 100gp) and some hard-earned experience points; okay, only goblins, but every little helps where you’re first level and in the case of Alurax and Elise, multi-classed as well.

We will see in the next session what happens when the party gets back to town.

I had downgraded the opposition from Shadow Goblins to normal goblins, because I surmised that with their illusionist and thief abilities, they would be able to run rings round JG and his party, even using Subaras as the DM proxy. As luck would have it, they managed to locate and kill two of the goblin leaders and four of their men in the first fight and the second large group of goblins were only in the next building so it was a simple follow-on for a party that was already fired up. If they had been obliged to split up and search the farm again, they might have fallen prey to goblin ambushes, but even then I would probably not have consigned any of them to certain death; I would have had them captured and prepared for sacrifice to the spiders, with a generous chance to escape if they had used their heads and not done anything stupid. As it was, I didn’t have to worry about that. If a DM wants to run this adventure with younger players, I think that this is probably a good choice to take; it gives the party a chance, there is mortal peril and the players are encouraged to think up ways of escaping with what is lying around.

Thursday 18 February 2010

Team Adventure Campaign Log Session 2

It being half-term in Merrie England, JG and I had time enough for two sessions this week. This is the first - the second I'll post tomorrow.

You join us on Day Three of the campaign (I decided it was the spring, since that's a good start to the adventuring year).

The day after the encounter with the ettin, the four surviving party members traipsed down to the armourer's. There are two in town, Zhallak and Severan, and JG decided on Severan. To get the image right in his mind, I compared the place to the ski hire shop that we'd visited on our winter holiday December 2008, so it was complete with a kind of hot chocolate urn at the door to greet visitors and comings and goings from newbies, old hands and such like. With the small amount of money that they had, they were able to upgrade Alurax and Zhastar to scale mail, AC5. Akurath bought himself a heavy xbow and Alurax also replenished his stock of arrows. I did a tick box schematic to make it a bit easier for JG to keep track of his arrows and bolts. Whether he remembers to use it is another matter.

(Regular readers may be wondering where the two new starters that were rolled up last week had got to. JG decided that he wanted them to arrive later and I thought that this was quite canny since if he gets more cash as a result of his next adventure, he can afford to upgrade the weaponry and armour of the new guys as well. Whether being under-strength is going to cause a problem, only time will tell. It also gives me that little bit longer to work out a way in which they can enter the campaign and bring a bit of the sandbox to life while doing so).

In the afternoon, Elise and Alurax started going through the spellbook that they had acquired in the Training Dungeon and that, as a 'present', I had decided to let them have. They'd taken nothing else from the TD, and I wonder if JG actually remembers any of the stash.

Because it might be a bit complex for JG to remember min and max spells, etc, I ruled that each character had to make a Know Spell roll for each 1st level spell that they were trying to copy out into their spell books. And to be even kinder, I allowed both characters to learn from the same book (yes, not really the done thing, but it was quite generous of JG to allow Elise to share the book in the first place).

Elise now has
Read Magic, Enlarge, Affect Normal Fires, Detect Magic, Magic Missile, Dancing Lights, Ventriloquism, Hold Portal, Identify.

Alurax now has
Feather Fall, Affect Normal Fires, Charm Person, Read Magic, Magic Missile, Ventriloquism, Hold Portal, Enlarge, Identify.

They still only get one learned spell per day, but I'll give you three guesses as to which one it'll be...

The party retired to bed after a good meal and late that night, Alurax was awakened by the sound of breaking glass from downstairs. He jumped out of bed and saw two shadowy figures in the stable yard. He woke the others and they hurriedly donned their armour and grabbed their weapons. As they came into the kitchen, they saw one of the figures climbing in through the window. Alurax fired his bow and missed, at which point the shadowy figure dived back through the window, closely followed by Alurax. The others were struggling to get the kitchen door open.

In the yard, Alurax came face to face with a short sword and was hit for 6 points of damage. He went down to -2. As his attacker was about to finish him off, he was struck down himself. The rest of the party burst through the door into the stable yard and chased the second shadowy figure down the alley to the street. Alurax, with a freshly-slain corpse atop him was slowly bleeding his life away when the corpse was pulled off him and someone he'd never seen before starting administering first aid.

To cut a long story short, the rest of the inn was soon roused, including Mobok the landlord and Rulla the stable-lad. When lanterns were lit and the rest of the party returned, they found Alurax propped up against the wall on 0, and his rescuer standing guard to make sure no-one else was about to attack. He introduced himself as Bosla, who had been on his way home when he heard the sound of glass smashing and decided to investigate. He found the fight going on and weighed in to help Alurax who was on the ground...

[If you're thinking that this is as fishy as Billingsgate on a hot day, you're right]

JG, on the other hand was only too pleased that his life had been saved and that he had made a new friend. Mobok the landlord wanted to close up and, having got Alurax a cure light, the party went to bed.

The next day, after a visit by the police, investigating the break-in (they insisted that Alurax tell them everything that happened, because I wanted to get JG to fix it in his mind) they decided to go and check with Arazak, the 1st level dwarf cleric who had been left to look after the shrine after the previous cleric had gone across the river. Arazak greeted Akurath in the dwarf language, and asked Zhastar if he was a homelander or a settler. Zhastar answered the former, which was correct. Arazak wished that his cause should prosper and that one day, his home would be free.

Hrazhkag, the former dwarf cleric, went off with four dwarven adventurers, who had come to him very mysteriously talking about dwarven magic items and a dwarf hero who had died in the area now known as Dwarf's End, beyond Redstone Ruins and the Watchful Eyes. That was the previous autumn. Nothing had been heard of any of them since. JG got very fired up with the idea of going across the river and trying to find out what had become of them.

As a parting courtesy, Arazak offered Akurath a tankard of dwarf beer. JG decided that Alurax should try some too. I ruled that as it was so strong, he needed to roll below his CON to avoid any unpleasant effects. He failed the first roll and ended up spitting out the beer all over the floor of the shrine that Arazak had just swept. Undeterred, Alurax had another go and this time rolled a 20. I ruled that this time, he fell over backwards and had a shaking fit. He was groggy and dizzy for the rest of the day. Akurath and Arazak had a good dwarven chuckle about this.

(It occurred to me that I need to get some Elesalian drinks sorted out - various beers, spirits and wines from various areas that can add a bit of flavour to the proceedings - excuse the pun. I don't want it to be like that Alistair McGowan sketch spoofing EastEnders, when the cast go into the Queen Vic and ask Peggy for a pint of non-specific).

The next day, the party was disturbed during breakfast by Rulla the stable-lad (yes, he has a speaking part this week) who came rushing through, shouting "They're back! They're back!". JG though that he might be referring either to the robbers or the dwarven party, and this was reinforced when they followed Rulla towards the river and saw a boat being rowed across. But when they got to the docks, the boat was just pulling in and there were no dwarves on board. There were four adventurers and two wrapped body-sized bundles. When Rulla saw this, he broke down in a fit of screaming and crying and had to be dragged back to the inn. It transpired that he was a bit sweet on one of the dead adventurers.

The party hung around to chat with the new arrivals, and while the bodies were taken off to the temple court, everyone went back to the Soaring Falcon to have a valedictory drink for their comrades (as yet unnamed). Whilst there, the new guys were telling JG's party about their voyage across the river and into the wilds. They had, it transpired, been as far as Ratman's Hill, beyond Redtooth Peak and Goblin's Pass. I dropped a hint of Dwarf's End in there, but I don't think that JG picked up on it. The returners had come under attack from marauding humanoids and had lost two of their party as a result. Dire warnings were issued about not going across the river unless a party was up to it. JG was starting to get cold feet about the whole idea of crossing over. The returners did say that they might be looking for extra numbers for a second trip but warned that it was going to be tough.

JG's party were left to mull this over, but they didn't have long, because just afterwards, Sergeant Subaras and trooper Prebor came in and suggested that they come down to the guardhouse quickly as something interesting had happened. When the party arrived, they found a battered, bruised and terrified man, clearly in shock, who had just arrived in town having run all the way from his workplace, a farm up near the hills, where spiders are raised for their body products. All he could say was "G..g..g..g..g..g..goblins!"

And that's where we left it for today. No prizes for guessing what happens in the next session, which may be this week or might be at the weekend, depending on schedules.
So again, a good session; if JG's attention wandered a little bit, that's to be expected. There were a lot of new things to take in.

Now we have more detail about what lies across the river, a new friend (or is he?) for the party and some possible ideas for adventures that the party might want to explore (but, as always, it’s up to them). Next time, the party embarks on its first scripted adventure – what will become of them?

(thanks to Mr Gone for the boozy dwarves picture - superb!)

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Undead Wednesday

Yes, it's mid-week and so it's time for another jaunt down the road to Unlife. You will recall the Skeleton Ogre from yesterday? Well, he's brought a friend along today.

And hot on his heels come some absolutely spiffing Skeleton centaurs...

And this pair - see what careless use of a Gate spell will do?

The ogre is another Armalion piece from Germany and the centaurs and extra-planar monstrosities are from Rackham, a French company.

Bliss_infinite - this site is for you... it will take you to places that your bank account doesn't want you to go.

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Tuck in!

Welcome, Jay and the Lord of Darkwolf Keep. I was just sitting down to a lovely plate of fish and chips from the legendary Hull chippie, Bob Carvers. Please do pull up a chair and join me. Mugs of tea, white bread and butter, mushy peas are optional.

What about this for a monster?

I know that some of you use minis. And some don't. However, just imagine the look on the players' faces when this arrives on the table...

This, my friends, is the Skeleton Ogre from Armalion - doncha just love it?

Monday 15 February 2010

Miniatures Monday - Kick-ass Demon!

From the deepest pits of Stygian blackness, filled with a burning lust for havoc and chaos, keen to slake his thirst on the blood of men...

Yes, you'd better hope that you've got a seriously good cleric in your party when this guy comes into view. Just check that face out - does that expression say "Hi, my name's Balor and I'll be devouring you tonight" or what?

And here he is from behind - that's the view you'll get after he's whupped your ass!

I'd love to see what my brother Andy (this blog's resident artist) could do with the latest crop of Otherworld Miniatures...

Uh-oh....Otherworld Miniatures...must resist....must resist....

Saturday 13 February 2010

Saturday Night Fight Club - Monkey Business

Carnivorous Ape v Yeti

Yes, I know that technically, neither is a monkey because they don't have tails.

Carnivorous Ape

The D&D equivalent of Mighty Joe Young.
HD 5 (average hp 23)
3 attacks 1-4/1-4/1-8
If it scores a hit with both hands at the same time, it does an additional 1-8 of rending damage

THAC0 15 so to hit the yeti requires a 9 as well.

And from the very last page of the Monster Manual (unless you count the treasure tables)...


HD 4+4 (average hp 22)
2 attacks
Damage per attack 1-6/1-6

If it hits with a 20 on either of its attacks, it does 2-16 extra damage.

THAC0 15 so to hit the carnivorous ape, the yeti will need a 9

Heh, this looks like an even match. It’ll all come down to the die rolls, methinks.

Okay, round 1

Joe rolls a 4, Yeti rolls a 5

The Yeti’s attack rolls are 19 and 7. Didn’t get the 20 he needs for that chilling hug. So let’s see what his damage dice are...

Damage of 3

Joe gets three attacks – let’s see if that gives him the edge.

He rolls a 20, an 11 and a 16 – the dice are good tonight!

Okay, so let’s take a look at his damage rolls and see what he does. Not forgetting his rending attack – an extra d8

4, 4, 2 – for his claw, claw bite and rending damage of 7. That’s a hefty 17 damage! Phew!

End of round 1 and the yeti is down to 5hp and Joe is laughing with a total of 20

Round 2 and it’s all to play for.

Reaction rolls and the yeti is quicker off the mark with a 4, whilst Joe has to settle for a 1.

Yeti gets a 14 and a 7 – so one of his attacks hits home. However, a score of 3 just isn’t doing the sort of damage that he needs to inflict at this stage of the game.

Joe weighs in with his three attacks, and get 14,13 and 12. Things look grim for the white one.

He rolls a 4, 1 and 3 for his damage, a total of 8. The yeti is history. Any rending to be done is on the corpse. Academic, really.

Right…that was a short one. Let’s see if it’s a different outcome second time around. Hit the SNFC reset button and let’s do it again!

Round 1

The Yeti is first away with a 3. Joe was clearly thinking of something else (like was the Charlize Theron remake a good film or not), having got a 1

The Yeti’s attack rolls are a 16 and a 4. He rolls but his damage is only a 3

Joe rolls 6,17 and 13 – damage of 3 and 4, for a total of 7.

End of round 1, the yeti is down to 15, Joe to 20

Round 2

The Yeti and Joe both get 4 on the reaction dice, and both get their attacks at the same time.

Unfortunately, the yeti gets a 5 and a 7 and misses with both his attacks. Well, that’s dice luck for you.

Joe hits back with a 7, 9 and 20 – damage of 3 and 5.

End of round 2, the yeti is flailing with 7hp left, and the Joe is still on 20.

Round 3

Yeti gets a 3 on his reaction dice, and Joe gets a 5.

This time, the dice are not on the side of Joe and he only gets a hit with his bite attack. Let’s see if it’s enough to finish this bout.

5 – not quite.

The yeti fights back with 13 and 1 – he can’t seem to land both attacks at the same time. He managed to get 4 damage in.

End of round 3, the yeti is on 2hp and Joe on 16.

Round 4

The yeti gets a 1 for his reactions and Joe a 6.

Joe rolls 2, 16 and 16 and rolls 3 and 5 for damage. This knocks the yeti right out of the contest and it’s game over for him.

So that’s two-nil to Joe, But wait, I hear you cry. The yeti has a chance to paralyse his opponent with fear if he surprises it. I haven’t ruled that either side was surprised in the two combats we’ve just had but what if Joe was surprised? Would the yeti’s mysterious gaze weapon make a difference? Joe is a 5HD monster and therefore would save on an 11 or better. If he makes the roll, I don’t think he’ll need to roll again, since he can’t be surprised twice.

Let’s see.

Round 1

Let’s roll for that save. Guess what – an 11

Since we’re ruling that Joe was surprised, the yeti should go first.

14 and 4 – yep, he’s still got the same dice luck.

Damage of 6, so that’s not so bad.

Joe retaliates. 3, 16 and 1 – damage of 4

End of round 1, the yeti is down to 18, Joe to 17

Round 2

The Yeti and Joe both get a 2 for reactions.

18 and 15 – the yeti finally lands both attacks in the same round. Damage of 7

Joe has clearly picked up the lucky D20 and rolls 19,15 and 16

As he’s made all three attacks, that means he gets his d8 of rending damage in addition.

4, 3, 5 and 8 – a full 20 of damage against the unfortunate yeti. White fur and blood go everywhere.

Well, if the yeti had got his attacks in after a successful gaze attack, he would have done on average 16 points of damage against his luckless opponent. That might have been enough to tilt the balance against the carnivorous ape, but tonight, the dice were in the ape’s favour. Why not give it a try yourself and see how it comes out? You never know – with your dice luck, the yeti’s performance might not be so abominable.

Let us not forget that according to the Monster Manual, those pesky hobgoblins have a 60% chance of having 2-12 carnivorous apes as guards in their underground lairs. Yes, the samurai of the D&D world suddenly aren't quite the cannon fodder that we might imagine.

Next time, we’re pitting the Minotaur against our old friend and dungeon predator the Subterranean Lizard. Should be quite a match.

And before I go, I just couldn’t resist this for my British readers of a certain age…

Tuesday 9 February 2010

The Training Dungeon is the real adventure begins!

As promised, here is Junior Grognard's first foray into the world of AD&D without the soft corners. The rules have slightly changed for Team Adventure. In the campaign proper, they will get experience points and the chance to advance but once a character dies, unless they have access to raise dead or resurrection, that character stays dead.

Just so you know.

I started by going through the character sheets and explaining a bit of backstory for JG, who hadn't got round to thinking about it yet. This grounded the characters in Elesalia and gave some hint as to the possible pasts that might come back to haunt them. It also avoided the old ‘you are gathered together in an inn, when a mysterious stranger approaches you…’

They arrived at the frontier town of Antiar's Landing, which is just across the river Elfwater from the start of the wilds, and were let in by the gate guards, who gave them the once-over and not much else. JG misunderstood me when I said that they needed somewhere to stay - I guess that in our day, the first thing that you did when you arrived somewhere was hit the local tavern but despite my hints, he decided that he was going to find some wood and build himself somewhere.


The local timber yard was not particularly keen on people just walking off with half a hundredweight of wood, so Team Adventure went about a mile or so outside town and cut down two trees which they dragged all the way back to town. A bit of hacking with swords and axes, much to the mirth of the gate guards and voila, a bivouac to make Ray Mears jealous.

Well, that night (it had been a long time making this thing) there was a heavy thunderstorm (I rolled on Chgowiz’s weather chart) and they all got rather damp. However, during the night they did hear something moving about in the dark, and it wasn't the thunder.

Because of their bivouac escapade, the next morning, the party was in the right place at the right time as a panicked horseman rode up to the gate guards and started talking to them, then pointing up the road and looking very scared. The sergeant came up to the party and said

"You want to earn yourselves some money, get your weapons and come with us. Something big's come across the river, we reckon and we're going to sort it out"
The party needed no further bidding and off they tramped up the track that led west from Antiar's Landing.

I should note at this point that the guard party consisted of Sergeant Subaras and three men, Volse, Qual and Prebor. No-one ever remembers these guys. Subaras was 3rd level, the others were 1st.

They came to more or less the point at which they had chopped down the trees the day before. Only now there was a swathe of trampled undergrowth, snapped branches and big footprints headed off into the woods (the rain had made the ground very muddy). After what can only be described as dithering whilst I waited for JG to make a plan, Sergeant Subaras took over and divided the party into three; himself and Volse in the centre, with Qual on the left and Prebor on the right. They were hoping that the centre would encounter their prey and the right and left would come in on the flanks. JG divided the party into three groups of two, each group with one of the guard prongs.

However, the prey decided to have a bit of fun with this plan and so guardsman Qual was leading his two Team Adventure members (Hruthnor and Elise) through the undergrowth when something very big and very fierce came bursting into sight and smashed him to absolute pieces with a mighty swing of a big club. Our doughty party members took one look at this and ran like ***** for the safety of the central group, with the enemy in hot pursuit.

Subaras and Volse deployed arms and Volse, who was armed with a bow, opened fire. Other members of the party braced for impact.

What was this fearsome opponent? Well, I'd rolled for a wandering monster for the hex that day and as (bad) luck would have it, an ettin came up. Two heads, ten hit dice, one bad attitude.

The central group, which included Alurax and Lannius weighed in - the right flank (Akurath and Zhastar) would take a round or two to arrive. The ettin was not waiting around for the odds to get worse and splattered guardsman Volse to pulp with two heavy blows from his clubs. Attacks from the party rained down on him and he took some damage but not quickly enough. I diced for the unfortunate individual who got the full brunt of the ettin's attack and the bad luck fell to Hruthnor - a bang and a crash and the stalwart axeman departed for the dwarven afterlife in a hurry.
JG was not particularly happy about that, and even less so the next round when, despite having whittled the ettin down a good few hit points more, and having got at least a couple of twenties (how do kids do that?) the fickle finger of fate fell to Lannius.

Right, I thought, he's got AC2 which means that the ettin needs an 8 or better to hit him.

Both d20s came up 8.

Lannius took 23 damage - at this point, JG needed a Daddy Grognard hug; things were getting tearful. Undeterred (well sort of) an oil flask was recovered and with the use of Affect Normal Fires (a lesson he’d remembered from the Training Dungeon lesson) the ettin was set ablaze - a bad die roll or two meant that the damage didn't finish him off but, stupid as he was, the two-headed one decided to leg it at that point.

Subaras and Prebor attempted to shoot him as he fled, but it fell to Alurax to let fly with the bow and skewer the ettin between the shoulder blades. Four damage was inflicted, but the ettin only had two left and fell into the bushes, a dead 'un.

JG, I think used the words 'epic take-down', which I think was justified. A first level party (with help) kills an ettin.

Sergeant Subaras sent Prebor back to town to commandeer a cart for the ettin's body and another for the four dead heroes. The town was quite agog at what had come trundling in and after a trip to the local dwarven and elven shrines to see if anything could be done for their fallen comrades, Team Adventure were taken to see Yugaz, the town's baronial representative, who congratulated them and doled out 50gp to each survivor. In addition, I calculated the XP for helping in the ettin's demise, divided the total by half to take the guards' efforts into account and then divided the remainder up amongst the four survivors. Result - 322xp per party member living.

They are now staying the week at the Soaring Falcon, which is one of the two adventurer taverns in town. Also, after a visit to the elven shrine, Alurax is now a follower of Sessilis, the elven god of archery, hunting and wilderness survival.
Akurath, who took Hruthnor's body to the dwarven shrine met Arazak, the 1st level dwarf cleric who explained about Hrazhkag, his predecessor, who went across the river and vanished into the wilds. If news could be found of this individual, then perhaps something might be done for Hruthnor...

(I had rolled up on a d6 the level of the clerics in town, and had got a 1 for the dwarven cleric. I then had to come up with a good reason why the dwarven shrines would be staffed by such a lowly character)

And Alurax has now earned himself a surname...Ettinslayer.

They also have enough money to start looking at upgrading their armour and equipment and have earned the interest and mild respect of the townsfolk and of their fellow adventurers.

Next week, I may well dangle the Spider Farm from Dragonsfoot in front of them to see if they bite.

After the session, JG had a go on the Dragonsfoot character generator and after a few tries that were decidedly average, rolled up two new characters to step into the gaps in Team Adventure left by Hruthnor and Lannius. They are

Zhudar, an elven MU/Thief
S 10
I 17
W 13
D 16
C 12
C 15
HP 3, base AC8, starting gold 25.
I'd have made this one a female, but JG's attitude is probably No Girls Allowed so a male it is.

Argid, half-orc fighter (interesting choice)
S 17
I 12
W 13
D 12
C 14
C 11
HP 2, base AC 10 , starting gold 80

Remember the names - they'll either be covering themselves in glory or appearing on next week's obituary sheet.

At least the party have got a thief with them, so that’s all their class bases covered.

Why, Professor; this Sandbox of yours actually works!

The first session of the campaign and what a result – from a couple of interesting choices by the party and a wandering monster roll, the setting has started to unfold. We have several new NPCs who will have an impact on the party and their doings and the hints of some possible future adventures.

Before I started this week’s session, I had no idea what was going to happen. So much could have gone differently and for me, that is the key feature of Old School sandbox style play. This style of game gives all the choices back to the players in a way that adventure paths don’t.

Many years ago, I remember first encountering the Narnia stories of C S Lewis. In one of them, Aslan the lion revives creatures that have been turned to stone by breathing on them. Wherever he breathes, the stone turns to living flesh. That, in a way, is what happens with a sandbox campaign – wherever the players touch the setting, it starts to come alive.

Monday 8 February 2010

Four and Six - Forty-six!

Evening all! Winter can't seem to make up its mind whether it's finished with us but the welcome is always warm at DG's.

I'd like to offer it to my latest chums, Ruarigh, Leopardi and Talysman the Ur-Beatle. Ruarigh lives within walking distance of me, and I'm very glad to have him on board the blog. Leopardi, a.k.a Dungeondad is the DM for Dungeonmum, who brightens up the blogosphere with her exceptionally well-written accounts of play - if she's half as much fun to DM for as she is to read, Leopardi must be a happy man.
Talysman's Nine and Thirty Kingdoms blog is, I reckon, required reading for anyone with a claim to be part of the OSR - insightful, informative and packed with Old School goodness. You have to read his Megadungeon, really, you do.

Miniatures Monday - The Ranger

Just got back from the Wilds, the Ranger is the second of our miniatures to grace the blogosphere. I can't remember where exactly he fits into the Citadel Miniatures range, but the figure lends itself to an individualisation by paint and this is just what's happened here.

My brother Andy, the painter of all the figures that you'll see in this series, has given our Ranger a weatherbeaten look, with the sense that this is a man who has been long in the wilderness. The greying hair, unshaven appearance and the slightly haunted look all speak of long days battling against the elements in places where civilisation is either tenuous or non-existent.

Note also the landscaping of the base - the figure was fixed to a penny to give it greater weight and stability and (if I remember rightly) a large granule of cat litter was used to simulate the stone. I'm sure that Andy will put me straight if that was not the case, but it was many years ago.

This figure is currently serving as Alurax, Junior Grognard's lead character in the Team Adventure sessions. Not to give the game away or anything but he is now known as Ettinslayer. I'll be posting about that at some point this week.

Saturday 6 February 2010

Saturday Night Fight Club - Fighting with Dinosaurs

Old School? How old is old? Will 65 million years do you? Yes, back to when dinosaurs walked the earth, Status Quo were just starting out and fights were that little bit bigger.


Move 15”
HD 18 (that’s an average of 81 hit points)
No of attacks 3 (although if we’re talking about his arms, I don’t think that they have much of a chance so I’m ruling them out of the equation)
Damage per attack 1-6/1-6/5-40
THAC0 of 7 so to hit a troll he’d need a 3 or better. Hmm. Will he do it? And to hit an ogre he’ll need a 2 or better.
Swallows man-sized opponents whole on an 18 or more.


HD 6+6
3 attacks
Damage per attack 5-8/5-8/3-12 (that’s an average damage of 20.5 per round)
Regenerates 3 hit points per round 3 rounds after being damaged
THAC0 of 13 so to hit Rex, they’d need 8 or better.


HD 4+1
No of attacks 1
Damage per attack 1-10 or by weapon
THAC0 15 so they need a ten or better to hit Rex.

Okay, so we’ll send the trolls up against Rex first.

Round 1 – let’s see what happens.

Trolls move in for the kill – or so they think.

Troll 1
Rolls his attack dice – 6,5,14
That’s only the bite that hits. Damage of 6

Troll 2
Rolls his attack dice – 3,14,18 hits with a claw and a bite, damage of 5 and 8

Rex gets a 2, which actually misses the troll.

End of the first round, the trolls are unscathed and Rex is down to 62. Does he look angry? Hell, he's T-Rex, he always looks angry. I bet he looks angry on his birthday.

Round 2

Troll 1
Rolls his attack dice – 12,16,14 claw claw bite all hit home. Damage of 5,6,7

Troll 2 rolls his attack dice - 5,12,6 only one claw makes contact for 5 damage

Rex rolls an 11 and does damage of 20 on troll 1, who will start to regenerate on round 5

End of that round, Rex is down to 39, troll 1 is on 13

Round 3

Troll 1 – to hits of 13,14,19 – damage of 5, 6 and 7 (didn't we just have those damage scores?)

Troll 2 – hit dice rolled for scores of 1,13 and 18 – damage of 5 and 8

Rex rolls, gets a 5, which is good enough to hit the troll. Damage of 17 against troll 2 (I just checked for it)

End of that round, Rex is on 8hp, troll 1 is on 13, troll 2 is on 16.

Round 4

Troll 1 rolls that d20 for 13,18,16 - damage of 7,7,7
Troll 2 borrows the d20 from his mate, rolls 16,5,12 - damage of 5 and 10

Rex bites and hits with a 6, damage of 23 damage which kills one of the trolls. Unfortunately, he’s just taken 36 damage and keels over.

I did do a combat between Rex and one troll, which he won easily. Although he has great HD, a superb THAC0 and hefty damage (although the damage only averages out at 22.5 per hit), his relatively high AC and the fact that the trolls get three attacks per round means that with anything more than 1 troll, Rex is swiftly overwhelmed and brought down. Perhaps this explains why the dinosaurs became extinct – a gang of trolls arrived in the late Cretaceous via a time portal.

So the king of the dinosaurs didn’t fare too well against the green and warty ones. Let’s see how he gets on if he encounters a pack of ogres, no strangers to a bit of a scrap themselves.

Round 1

Ogre 1 rolls to hit, gets an 11 – damage of 4
Ogre 2 rolls and gets a 10 - damage of 7
Ogre 3 misses with a 6
Ogre 4 doesn't do too well either with a 7

Rex rolls a 6 but with his THAC0, he’ll find it hard to miss. Damage of 23 and he’s bitten the first ogre clean in half.

Rex is down to 70 and the ogres are looking worried. This isn’t the way that a fight usually goes for them.

Round 2

Ogre 2 he's clearly picked the unlucky d20 out of the box, as he's rolled a 3
Ogre 3 he's had somewhat better luck and scored 12 – damage of 9
Ogre 4 keeping up the good work with a 10 - damage of 5

Rex rolls a 15 and inflicts damage of 19 on ogre 2, which knocks him to the ground. He won't be getting up again.

So now Rex is on 56 and there are only two ogres left, checking their insurance policies.

Round 3

Ogre 3 – gets a 15 on his hit dice - damage of 6
Ogre 4 - rolls a 1 - good job that I'm not making him roll for fumbles.

Rex rolls to hit, gets a 9 and inflicts damage of 17 on the third ogre, who is now staggering around on 2hp.

Rex is down to 50

Round 4

Ogre 3 rolls a to hit of 4

Ogre 4 rolls a to hit die of 6

Oh dear – both miss. Hmm...I wonder what will happen next.

Rex rolls a 12 – and damage of another 17 – since ogre 4 will probably have been pressing home his attack, I’ll rule that he takes this damage.

Both ogres are now on 2hp each and Rex is on 50 still. Not much point in the ogres running, since I think that Rex can actually move faster than them, and definitely on their current battered state. Let’s fight on!

Round 5

Ogre 3 – scores 3 with his attack die.

Ogre 4 – scores an 18 and does 2 damage.

Rex bites home with a 6 and does another 17 damage, ripping ogre 3 to shreds.

Round 6 – Ogre’s last stand.
He rolls a 17, which is a good to hit, but with damage of 4, he’s not stopping Rex, who hits with an 18. This would be enough to swallow a man-sized target whole, but the ogre is just that little bit bigger and he takes 21 damage, which leaves bits of him all over the countryside.

"Trolls? I can't believe it!"

Well, there we are – dinosaur pride recovered somewhat. Join us next week when we pit two prime specimens of simian monstrousness against each other – the Carnivorous Ape against the Yeti.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Some thoughts on clerics

Kids and Clerics

The whole notion of clerics and their relationship with their deity raises the point of whether they are a good character class for youngsters to play. I mean, if you were a seven-year-old and knew that a cleric was a priest and worked for a god, what would be the first thing you'd do when your character got into real trouble?

Exactly. And this presents us with a conundrum. Either the DM allows the prayer/importuning to work or he doesn't. If he does, then there is the inevitable 'me too' from everyone else or 'why not me too?'. Suddenly everyone wants to play a cleric so that they can get out of trouble free.

If the DM turns round and says "[insert your deity's name here] doesn't answer", then the cleric's player might start asking things like 'why not?' or 'but he's my god, he can do anything' and the carefully-constructed milieu and its theology starts to fall apart, and before you know it, you're living with a seven-year-old Richard Dawkins.

I’m aware of the argument advanced in D&DG about the limited ability of deities to respond to calls for help. However, this rather goes against the grain of what kids recognise – if they recognise it at all – as the nature of a god. They’re either familiar with the Greek myths in which the gods seem to be involved in the affairs of mortals all the time or they’re aware of the supposedly omnipotent nature of the Judaeo-Christian deity. Either way, it seems to me that they’re not really old enough to grasp the notion that a god might not answer every time, that no matter how devout their cleric, the reply might be ‘no reply’. Especially if the cleric in question is a 1st leveller and it’s his first adventure. With no precedent to which to relate the experience, any incident that seems threatening is going to be viewed as in extremis.

Now, as adults, we’re capable of contextualising our beliefs or lack thereof and relating them to the way in which deities interact in D&D. We’re much more comfortable with the notion that we might not get an answer when our cleric raises his or her holy symbol and hollers to the skies

“I’m your cleric, get me out of here!”

So, clerics – a good class for kids or not?

Clerics and healing

Which leads me on to one of the most fundamental abilities of the cleric – healing.

I was discussing clerics with Dungeonmum the other day and had the following thoughts that may form the basis of a houserule regarding our holy friends.

In my campaign, clerics may have to be divided into three:

The first type would be the Knight Templar church militant bash-unbelievers-in-with-a-mace type. Keen to smite evil and wage holy war, not so happy about handing healing out to the infidel.

The second type would be the healer type, more like druids with a knowledge of herbal medicine and the current medical practices. They would be happy to lend a hand to whoever is passing by since their deities would be gods or goddesses of healing anyway and their whole ethos would be help-based, with the hope that recipients of their services would reciprocate.

The third type would be the big guns back at the main temples, the hierarchs with a direct line to their gods. They'd have the real powers but would tend to hang around the temples and not go off on adventures (too valuable to the cult). They would have the raise deads and resurrections.

In my proposed houserule, the first type could use the various cure spells, but only on fellow believers. This would reflect the rivalries of religion and give people an incentive to get cured. There may be a 'cure at a reduced rate' service, by which the cure spells would work on non-believers but at half-effect.

The second type would have full access to all the cure spells at normal effect or at a heightened effect, which I would imagine means that every time a cure spell was cast, a d8 and a d12 were rolled and the higher-scoring die would be the one to be counted. This would work on any worshipper but only if the cleric of the healing deity was doing the casting.

The third type, as we have already said, would get the normal spells but as they would be temple-based, recipients would have to go to the temple to get the help.

This argues the case quite well for the use of healing potions, which may well be made by the second type, having access to the various plants and ingredients.

There would be no change to the turning abilities of a cleric – his faith and the divine power that guides him would provide all the power he needs to banish the undead. The cleric himself is the one under threat and an inability to turn would result in his death or at the very least, extreme danger. Whether he is with a party who worship different deities is immaterial – the cleric’s survival is on the line, something very immediate and very different from whether Kravgar the fighter gets some hit points back.

I don’t want to go down the full path of spell domains and areas of speciality and that’s why this houserule is very much concerned with healing spells only, and does not deprive clerics of the ability full-stop. If I had not devised deities of healing for my campaign, this would not have come up but it has and so I felt the need to address it.

Monday 1 February 2010

Miniatures Monday - the Minotaur

Here he is, front and rear shots. I kind of like this figure (although I wouldn't like to get caught by that mace) and he might make an appearance in SNFC, if I can just think of someone against whom to pit him.