Age of Worms Adventure Path – Game Session 34

Game summary for April 26, 2007; present characters included Aker Cruven (litorian exotic weapon master/ritual warrior), Eol Seregon (half-elf hexblade), Grot Bloodtunneler (shield dwarf barbarian/warmain), Lyrin Sinbal (simian incantatrix/warmage), Morak Beardfist (shield dwarf fighter/rage cleric), and Valgen (afflicted wererat human fighter/rogue).

The party mixed and mingled with the gladiators in the Coenoby for a while, learning what they could about the opposition. They found that the team Pitch Blade had won the first match and that Auric’s Warband was favored to win the next. Their manager, Lord Urtos Phylund II, came to deliver their winnings and also revealed his true reasons for bringing them into the games. His father’s corpse has gone missing, and because his father died in an “accident” beneath the arena two years ago, Urtos believes foul play is afoot. He suspects Aridarye is involved but said his father and Prendergast go way back and were good friends. Urtos revealed he was a werewolf and thus Aridarye’s son is the heir to the Phylund family riches. Offering to pay them all of the winnings from the games, Urtos asked the party to explore the understructure of the arena and look for any clues that may reveal what really happened to his father.

The party crept off down a side tunnel and found the old Titan’s House. They went into a pool of water and smashed a stone seal, which forced the water to gush down the exposed cave, carrying Grot with it. He was dumped on his head at the feet of nine slavering ghasts who attempted to eat him. Fortunately, Lyrin destroyed most of them with a fireball.

A side passage was explored and found to look out over an underground gorge teeming with ghasts. The party decided to slip back down the corridor and leave them for the moment. They re-blocked the entrance to the area and found a submerged tunnel leading into a room filled with ochre jelly. The jellies tried to consume the group, but another fireball and several bashing attacks later, all the oozes were dead.

They found the room fed with sewage from above, and the dwarves guessed they were roughly beneath the arena at the moment. The party scaled the sewer chute and Valgen peeked his head out of the hole into a small round room. Ahead lay another room, with a wooden coffin propped against one wall in view.

Artists Show Their Colors

I posted yesterday about the upcoming Ziggurat Con in Iraq. This was announced on the E.N. World news site, and I hope that gamer response is fairly high. I encourage everyone to show their appreciation for the troops who are putting their lives on the line every day. This is not about whether you are for or against our situation in Iraq, it is about the men and women living over there in harm’s way.

Knowing that a number of people are likely to send books and dice, I wanted to explore the door prize option. I am collecting funds from friends and family to purchase t-shirts to send over. I have asked for assistance from the artists in the role-playing game industry in the form of artwork we can print on the t-shirts. Response has been very good! Thank you so much to these great people willing to help with this cause. I’m gathering the art, but now I’ve got to have the funds to get more of these shirts to our soldiers. A mere $10.00 will pay for the shirt, taxes and help cover the cost of shipping it. If you are interested in donating to fund these shirts, please contact me. I do accept PayPal. I am all ready sending shirts, but every donation means one more can be added.

You can also send things to our soldiers yourself. Please read up on the Military Mailing Restrictions and on the Customs Forms required. It does involve some hoop-jumping, but when you consider that you are shipping a box into an occupied terriorty, it makes sense. There are some greatly helpful instructions here.

If the idea of dealing with shipping and customs is too much for you, you can also go to an organization that sends pre-built packages for you. One such web site is Treat Any Soldier, and they have numerous options to choose from.

 Go to

Support Our Gaming Troops

It may be a surprise to some, but many of our men and women in the Armed Forces are role-playing gamers. The first known game convention in an “occupied zone” takes place on June 9th, 2007. It will be known as Ziggurat Con and is open to all allied military personnel and civilian contractors in Iraq.

Please do your part and support the troops in a bit of morale building. It sounds as if they can use books, dice and gaming items to use in the games and as door prizes.

Blood Cell Chronicle – Operation: Plague Walker

On Saturday, April 21st, we embarked on our second game of the Blood Cell Chronicles, playing the Operation: Plague Walker adventure. The game used the Storyteller System from the Vampire: The Masquerade 3rd Edition rulebook. The starting cast included “Boomstick” Anders, “Boon” Wilkins, “Jarhead” Smith and “Rocket Man” Winchester. Later appearances were made by “Dom” Santori, “Ghost” Lee and “Whisper” Vasquez.

The team hit the beach and engaged a trio of soldiers immediately. “Jarhead” used the SAW to spray the two in the treeline, and “Boomstick”, “Boon” and “Rocket Man” made sure they were out of commission. “Boon” took a round to the thigh, but his ghoul blood quickly healed the injury. The landing was almost without incident except for “Boomstick’s” embarassing moment where he ejected a full magazine from his pistol instead of pulling the trigger.

The group moved to one of the helicopter crash sites and found the chopper had not exploded but fuel was leaking all around. Somehow, the pilot’s intestines had animated with WD-41 and attacked the group. The thing was thrown toward the chopper, and “Boon” shot the fuel tanks causing a horrendous explosion. Unfortunately, the team was caught in the blast and badly injured. Nursing their wounds, they investigated the other crash site and found it already burned out.

Next, they moved on the military base and found it littered with corpses. A number of WD-41 zombies charged and attacked but were soon cut down in overlapping fields of fire. The team fired up a generator they discovered and moved into the underground lab. They quickly came upon the mess hall and four WD-41 zombies. The team was swarmed, leaving “Jarhead” and “Boon” cut off and mobbed. “Jarhead” cleared the way for the rest of the team at the cost of his and “Boon’s” lives; he pulled the pins on his two frag grenades and blew up everything in the room.

The remaining team called in reinforcements, “Ghost” Lee and “Whisper” Vasquez. Together, they found Heinreich’s lab. Unfortunately, it was protected by a WD-41 Die-Borg and two WD-41 zombies. “Whisper” was caught in the lab with two of the creatures, and “Ghost” had one clamped onto her back. “Rocket Man” fired his rocket launcher into the room, destroying the Die-Borg. Sadly, the backblast also injured his allies, including causing the death of “Boomstick”. The group dug in and waiting for “Dom” to arrive before proceeding past the lab.

Down another hallway, they found the suite of Dr. Heinreich. Unfortunately, Heinreich had become a monstrous creature with huge rending claws, a WD-43 Ripper! A single swipe of his claws decapitated “Whisper”, but it was quickly put down with a 3-round burst from “Rocket Man”.

After clearing the complex, the team gathered the datafiles and evacuated the island. Four of the Blood Cell team were killed in the operation, but all objectives were met. Central Command was quite displeased with the casualties, but the spread of WD-41 and its variants was stopped.

Age of Worms Adventure Path – Game Session 33

Game summary for April 19, 2007; present characters included Aker Cruven (litorian exotic weapon master/ritual warrior), Eol Seregon (half-elf hexblade), Evo Shandor (human fighter/rogue), Grot Bloodtunneler (shield dwarf barbarian/warmain), Lyrin Sinbal (simian incantatrix/warmage), Morak Beardfist (shield dwarf fighter/rage cleric), Thoril Songsteel (human thug), and Valgen (afflicted wererat human fighter/rogue).

The party visited Dagsumn and learned more regarding the coming Age of Worms. When he mentioned the Apostolic Scrolls, they revealed they found a bill of sale for those to Prendergast Brokengulf. Dagsumn seemed most troubled by this news and indicated Prendergast is a very wealthy and popular man in Waterdeep. He is a retired gladiator champion and owner of the Champion’s Games and the Field of Triumph arena. So, they decided to seek a way to join the Champion’s Games and explore the arena between matches.

The group went and bought items to help them in the arena. In the meantime, Dagsumn located someone to sponsor them as team manager. In two days, the group signed on as a gladiator team called The Mercenaries, under the banner of Lord Urtos Phylund II. Now legally in the games, the group went to Prendergast’s Free Dinner for the contestants and nobles of the city. Within, they rubbed elbows with many of the city’s elite and made a wager or two, or three. They also encountered Tirra, a known ally of the current champion, Auric. She indicated she represented Thoril’s former guild and was willing to work an under-the-table bet on the party. She promised a 7,500 gp payout for winning the games if they would agree to pay 2,500 gp up front. After much deliberation (and much concern on the part of Thoril), they agreed and paid her. Also during the dinner, The Mercenaries got their first looks at Prendergast, his lovely wife Lady Aridarye, and Prendergast’s right-hand man, Captain Okoral. The games’ judge, Talabir Welik, went over the rules of the arena. Afterward, the group descended the elevator system in the middle of the arena and entered the Coenoby.

The following day, The Mercenaries got their first opportunity to display their skills in the arena. They were involved in the second battle against three other teams. The Mercenaries got hit hard by a charging horseman and a group of elven archers, but the moment The Mercenaries got rolling, enemy gladiators died. It was a short, brutal, and rather spectacular battle wherein The Mercenaries outmatched every opponent and slaughtered or intimidated into submission every team. The crowd was impressed with their prowess, and the ratings board listed The Mercenaries at rank 6 by the end of the battle. Valgen offered a wink to a scowling Prendergast as The Mercenaries were lowered back into the Coenoby.

With their first match behind them, and gold won from gambling lining their pockets, The Mercenaries now face the daunting task of figuring out what to do to try and catch Prendergast in his foul deeds. They will not fight again until sometime on Day 3 of the Champion’s Games, so they have some time snoop about, assuming they can avoid Okoral’s elite guards…

The Dragon Dies

Here’s the announcement.

I have been a subscriber to both Dungeon and Dragon magazines for 16 years, going all the way back to issue #165 of Dragon and #28 of Dungeon. I go to the mailbox during the second week of every month in hopes that one or the other has arrived. I’ve done so for over half my life.

Both magazines have now been canceled. Neither were in financial trouble, nor were they losing subscriptions. However, someone at Wizards of the Coast believes magazines are not the future. I agree that many of us want digital content. I would love to get the material from Dragon and Dungeon in an easy-to-use format. That being said, you cannot replace the elation of opening the mailbox to find that next issue sitting there. And I’ve had that feeling nearly 400 times! Can anyone honestly believe a download will ever replace that?

My current gaming group is playing the Age of Worms Adventure Path published in Dungeon. We’ve been playing it for a year, and at current speed, will continue to do so for another two before completing it. If I’m willing devote a night a week of my life to something for three years, it must have made some impact.

I hope the decision-makers at Wizards of the Coast came to this after some well-thought discussion. There is nothing that can replace these two montly installments of gaming goodness. Even during times I wasn’t actively playing, those links back to the gaming world came in every month. They are tangible, physical links to the games we so enjoy. Destroying that with no warning and no input from subscribers is really beyond comprehension.

It appears that Paizo will continue releasing material through Pathfinder, which is a series of Adventure Paths that would have made it into Dungeon magazine. As I said above, I’ve already devoted a year of my life to playing one Adventure Path; I’m likely to buy more. I encourage all fans of the magazines to continue to support Paizo in their future endeavors.

For Wizards of the Coast, I don’t know what to say. I greatly encourage making all material available as easily cut-n-paste PDFs or online documents. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I don’t buy RPG books that are not in PDF format anymore. I don’t disagree with the idea they are looking at. What I don’t agree with is that they didn’t give me a choice. Read the messsage boards and blogs; they’ve alienated a large portion of their customers. This online content had best be spectacular enough to win them back. And if they think the current content quality of their web pages can carry this… go fish.

Age of Worms Adventure Path – Game Session 32

Game summary for April 12, 2007; present characters included Aker Cruven (litorian exotic weapon master/ritual warrior), Eol Seregon (half-elf hexblade), Grot Bloodtunneler (shield dwarf warmain), Lyrin Sinbal (simian warmage), Morak Beardfist (shield dwarf fighter/rage cleric), and Valgen (human fighter/rogue).

The party succeeded in resting and nursing their wounds from their latest encounters. Once recovered, they pressed on to find a whip-wielding drider hanging from the ceiling. She began attacking viciously from above, each strike of her whip drinking in blood from the inflicted wounds. Aker inspired his allies when he made an amazing leap from the ground to brutally slash the spider-creature. Others tried the same thing, and Grot succeeded in knocking her from the ceiling. She crashed to the ground, breaking her neck in the process; however, she also fell on top of Aker! They dragged him from of the twitching corpse, and Valgen took possession of her magical bloodfeeding whip.

They then turned their attention to the doors to the north. They were large, white marble doors with purple veins of minerals running through flanked on either side by white marble columns. Yawning menacingly in front of the doors was a 10-ft.-wide by 15-ft.-long open pit. It dropped down 40 ft. into a bed of spikes. On the far side, a body lay impaled as if it walked through the door and fell in, triggering the trap. Valgen and Grot moved to investigate but triggered the real trap—a pressure plate caused the ceiling along the side of the pit to plunge to the ground. This forced Valgen to leap into the pit and become poisoned by the spikes below while Grot was brutally pinned beneath the weight of the stones.

Suspecting the other side along the pit had a similar pressure plate, Eol took a rope and tightly bound the legs and body of the drider to make it skinny. He then pushed it out in front of him until it triggered the other trap. Sure enough, the ceiling fell and drider gore sprayed out across the pit. Thinking quickly, Lyrin activated his daily use of create equipment to make stilts. The nimble litorian, Aker, used them to scramble across the pit. Using a lasso, he snared Valgen and hauled him up out of the pit. Unfortunately, the fighter had so little strength, he could barely move in his leather armor.

With no other recourse available, Aker decided to go through the doors and look for a reset switch for the trap. As the doors opened, they exposed a large stone statue in the shape of a massive brain. Veins of purple ran through the white stone and pulsed with a faint light. Aker moved in and found a lever marked “Arm, Disarm, Reset.” He moved the lever to reset, causing the ceilings to move back up. Before he could move it to disarmed, he became dominated by the brain. It directed him to kill Valgen, which he attempted to do. Seeing this, the dwarven rage cleric, Morak, hit Aker with a hold person. Summoning his last bit of strength, Valgen tipped Aker’s paralyzed body over into the pit. Lyrin then blasted the brain with a wall of fire in a ring shape, which ended up shattering the stone. Eol’s raven familiar, Nevermore, then flew in and landed on the lever, moving it to disarm.

Having passed the traps, the team found a large circular room with a 15-ft.-deep pool full of tadpole creatures. Hovering above the pool was the mind flayer they had encountered in Sodden Hold! It taunted them and unleashed its octopins, which slowed half the party. The mind flayer girded itself with protective magic such as displacement and shield and then went to work with its mind blast and suggestion abilities. Soon, the octopins were dead, but most of the party was either slowed or stunned from the mind blast. Lyrin traded spells with the monster but could not defeat its spell resistance. Meanwhile, Eol moved about under the protection from evil spell and began peppering the illithid with arrows. Others began drawing ranged weapons and Lyrin discovered his acid orb to be very effective.

Using suggestion, the mind flayer sent Lyrin off toward the brain room to take a nap on some benches. It used ray of enfeeblement to make Eol too weak to fire his bow. Another suggestion forced Valgen to toss his crossbow into the water. Beardfist was hit with a direct blast from an empowered lightning bolt, which forced him to drop his rage and heal himself.

Eol and allies were able to counter the strength damage by using an enlarge person effect followed by bull’s strength from a scroll. Aker spent some time trying to scale the walls to “get the drop” on the illithid; alas, he could get no traction. Finally, Lyrin returned from his “nap” and move beneath the mind flayer. Using a blast of flame, he brutally torched the creature and killed it with his magical might—the accumulation of arrow and crossbow wounds had just weakened it too much to withstand the attack.

Searching the illithid’s rooms, they found a disturbing ledger. It indicated a man by the name Gast Brokengulf had hired the illithid (named Ilserv) to assassinate the party. Ilserv had then had its thrall Telakin (the greater doppelganger) use the shapeshifters of Sodden Hold to try to kill them off. Finally, the last entry in the ledger mentioned Gast had purchased some kind of relic called the Apostolic Scrolls from the mind flayer.

After leaving the mind flayer’s lair, the group returned to the Crooked House inn to recover. They found a message from Dagsumn to meet at his home. In addition, a young boy darted about hanging notices around the area. They read one, an announcement for the Champions’ Games, and noticed a disturbing bit of news. The Games director is one Prendergast Brokengulf!

Age of Worms Adventure Path – Game Session 31

Game summary for April 5, 2007; present characters included Aker Cruven (litorian exotic weapon master/ritual warrior), Eol Seregon (half-elf hexblade), Grot Bloodtunneler (shield dwarf warmain), Lyrin Sinbal (simian warmage), Morak Beardfist (shield dwarf fighter/rage cleric), and Thoril Songsteel (human thug).

The party advanced into the caves, where Aker realized the yellow fungus-stuff ahead was actually yellow mold. They dropped back while Lyrin burned out the mold and some undisturbed shrieker fungus with a fireball. Advancing, they came upon a cavern with glowing water. Moving in, they discovered a spirit naga who brought most of the party under its influence with its mesmerizing gaze. Eol protected himself with protection from evil and did the same for Grot. Before long, the naga lay dead.

Moving ahead, the group ran afoul five drow thralls and a female drow priestess of Lolth. A vicious fight ensued, with Aker falling victim to confusion and injuring Lyrin. The drow thralls were mostly ineffective other than to divide and slow the party. Thoril’s use of sneak attack devastated one of the thralls, and the rest of the party followed suit, laying down the soldiers without too much effort. The priestess saw the holy symbol of Moradin about the neck of Morak Beardfist, and the two engaged in a brutal battle. She walloped the dwarf repeatedly but was unable to bring down the raging, bearded cleric. In the end, it was the halfbreed hexblade, Eol, who struck the killing blow upon her.

Sorely injured and almost out of spells, the party dug in and made camp. During their rest, a trio of octopins came sneaking in across the ceiling. With their slowing gaze and long reach, they brutalized the party for some time. Grot, who was on guard, scored the first strike against the creatures, nearly killing it with a tremendous blow from his hammer. Lyrin broke up their momentum with a wall of fire and then discovered his lightning bolts had no effect upon the monstrosities. Aker drew and hurled his axe while Grot fired away with his magical spike-launching shield. With hammer and blade, the party finally brought down all of the strange critters.

Now exhausted, the party redoubles its efforts to dig in and rest.

WotC Switches to Watermark PDFs

I read an exciting announcement from Wizards of the Coast via a DriveThruRPG newsletter. WotC is dropping the DRM protection on their PDF products; instead, they are using Watermark protection. Woot! Now, if they will just release some newer titles as PDF, I’ll go back to buying official Dungeons & Dragons products instead of only buying Watermarked PDFs from 3rd-party publishers.