Age of Worms Adventure Path – Game Session 80

Game summary for April 24, 2008; present characters included Grim Firestorm (shield dwarf barbarian/battlerager/frenzied berserker/warmain), Mael Gabrian (human cleric), Morak Beardfist (shield dwarf fighter/rage cleric), Ranulph Wathbater (human berserker/fighter/hellreaver/paladin of freedom/rogue), and Taravin Truesilver (human gray guard/paladin of honor/pious templar).

With the door to the temple of Kyuss destroyed, the team followed in behind the cloudkill. Within, they discovered a vaulted ceiling supported by pillars and a large fountain of thin green slime. Broad stairs lead down in one direction, and a worm-like door leads the opposite way. With a brief flash, several niches along the walls disgorged half a dozen loyal minions of Kyuss—a disciple, two dark ladies, an advanced wormcaller, an advanced sword of Kyuss, and a disgusting avolakia priest. The creatures wasted no time before trying to defend the temple.

A dark curse was laid across the party, weakening their abilities. This was followed with evil, sinister prayers to the dark wormgod, which granted a boon for the cultists but further diminished the heroes. With their curses laid and protective charms invoked, the battle was joined. Ranulph bravely charged into the fray and drew the attention of the sword of Kyuss and one of the dark ladies. Together they dealt grievous wounds to the brave warrior, but the power of Mael kept his injuries from being fatal. Grim grappled the wormcaller and pinned the monster to the ground. Morak called upon the power of Moradin to aid his allies, while Taravin put pressure on the disciple and other dark lady.

The avolakia and disciple did what the could to destroy Mael but were ineffective. Ranulph succeeded in chopping down the dark lady and sword of Kyuss. Spells and determination eliminated the wormcaller tangled with Grim. Finally, the remaining foes found themselves outclassed and overrun. The heroes made short work of them, finally burning up the avolakia for its wounds kept regenerating.

After the skirmish, Grim snatched up several items to replace the gear he lost to the green slime minutes earlier. Prayers were invoked, granting healing to injured Mercenaries. Now the team, already short on mana, must choose a direction. What other horrors of Kyuss lie within the temple? Can the team reach Dragotha, and will they have the strength to slay the great undead wyrm when they get there?

Age of Worms Adventure Path – Game Session 79

Game summary for April 17, 2008; present characters included Eolas Windmaster (moon elf duskblade), Grim Firestorm (shield dwarf barbarian/battlerager/frenzied berserker/warmain), Lyrin Sinbal (simian incantatrix/ring sage/warmage), Morak Beardfist (shield dwarf fighter/rage cleric), Ranulph Wathbater (human berserker/fighter/hellreaver/paladin of freedom/rogue), Syvarius Strongbow (moon elf archer-ranger/peerless archer), and Taravin Truesilver (human gray guard/paladin of honor/pious templar).

After the previous encounter with the Kyuss chimeras, the team pressed on into the cave, following it down for about a mile. Eventually, it opened into a vast chamber holding a oozing lake of green slime. Viscous waterfalls of the stuff cascaded from up above, while the shore was lined with millions of green worms munching on the drying slime, their mandibles filling the air with a constant click-clack. In the middle of the lake stood a huge stone formation like a castle. Six natural pillars supported massive 70- to 80-foot long Kyuss worms gazing “blindly” about the cavern. A pair of massive doors could be reached by crossing a huge rock archway spanning the river.

Using their magical key and hat, the party transported themselves to the door. They discovered it appears to be made of stone, but it rippled with the undulations of thousands or more worms within. They attempted to tug on the door with telekinesis, which triggered some kind of summoning—a massive overworm appeared on the bridge and tried to eat Morak! The team tore into the vermin, and Beardfist tumbled back down to the bridge as the worm slide off into the slime and was dissolved.

The group began tinkering with the door, trying to discern its secrets. Repeatedly, overworms appeared on the bridge and sought to consume the party. Grim tried to hack through the door, dealing it a tremendous blow, but where the stone split, dozens of worms sprayed forth and burrowed into his flesh. He moved back and engaged the latest overworm and was slapped by a flailing tail sending him hurtling into the green slime below. Somehow, he managed to use his flying armor to extract himself, but not before a large amount of his equipment dissolved into nothingness.

The team triggered and fought seven of the overworms while Lyrin used a blade barrier to reduce the door to pulp. His cloudkill prevented the spraying worms from infesting the party. Meanwhile, Morak healed Grim of his damage and infestation. With the last overworm destroyed and the doors torn down, the party stands at the entrance to Kyuss’ most unhallowed temple. As the cloudkill drifts through the opening, what horrors will the team see revealed? Did anyone notice the half-dozen battles that took place on the front porch?

Dead Witch Walking

Last night, I finished reading Kim Harrison’s Dead Witch Walking, book 1 of the Rachel Morgan series (also called the Hollows series). I picked the book up at the store because it sounded vaguely interesting, and I was wanting something with a similar feel to the Dresden Files series. For some reason, I did not expect to enjoy this book. Sometimes, I’m happy when I’m wrong!

I found Dead Witch Walking to be a well-written work of fiction with some very creative ideas. It did not take long for me to become hooked on this intriguing version of Earth, where supernatural and the mundane walk side-by-side. The write-ups about the book had not done it justice and even came across as a bit cheesy. I found the ideas remarkably original and exciting, every bit as fresh and new as what the Dresden Files series was delivering.

In a quick summary to not reveal major details, Dead Witch Walking explores the first few days of Vampiric Charms, a “detective” agency run by witch, Rachel Morgan, and living vampire, Ivy Tamwood. They have a rocky start with assassins in the shadows and a corrupt councilman causing trouble. The book sets the stage for an entire series of books by developing the personalities of the main characters, establishing a business and relationships for them, and revealing how Harrison’s version of Earth works. While certainly a solid standalone novel, Dead Witch Walking makes a perfect introduction into this exciting new world.

I particularly like contrasting the writing styles of Kim Harrison and Jim Butcher (author of the Dresden Files). Harry Dresden is a snarky hero from an obviously male author. Harrison’s Rachel Morgan is just as intriguing and just as obviously written by a female author. I really believe a fan of either series would greatly enjoy the other; therefore, there are numerous books to keep the most avid reader occupied for a time between them.

Dead Witch Walking is an easy read that goes quickly due to all the action. I highly recommend giving it a try. It’s a good story on its own, and if you like it, it opens the door to a whole series about these exciting characters.


Age of Worms Adventure Path – Game Session 78

Game summary for April 10, 2008; present characters included Eolas Windmaster (moon elf duskblade), Lyrin Sinbal (simian incantatrix/ring sage/warmage), Morak Beardfist (shield dwarf fighter/rage cleric), Ranulph Wathbater (human berserker/fighter/hellreaver/paladin of freedom/rogue), and Syvarius Strongbow (moon elf archer-ranger/peerless archer).

Once in Longsaddle, the troupe went about re-equipping themselves with new magical weapons and charms. After a while, they arranged an audience with Malchor Harpell through his associate, Cymria. The Mercenaries summoned forth Balakarde and reunited him with his old ally, Malchor. The group discussed tactics and the implications of Lashonna’s involvement with the cult of Kyuss. Eventually they decided that killing Dragotha was still a priority and returned to the Wormcrawl Fissure near the Tabernacle of Worms.

The team crept forward in the oppressive darkness of the chasm and found themselves attacked by a gaggle of Kyuss chimeras. The four monsters tore into the Mercenaries and flung worms about, trying to infest them with the taint of the Wormgod. Syvarius wasted no time unleashing a hail of arrows upon the beasts, while Ranulph brought the fight in close. Lyrin and Morak released a barrage of spells, and Eolas strode into the midst of the undead to flail about with blade and spell. In short order, the creatures were cut down.

Continuing onward, the team found a faintly glowing cave opening with tracks of slithering creatures and chimeras all about. Standing in the opening, Lyrin began summoning forth a small army of elementals to assist in the assault; however, another gaggle of Kyuss chimeras came upon the group and attacked. Lyrin stopped his summoning and engaged the creatures along with his allies. Ranulph wasted no time getting into the fray, charging through the air with his fly effect to meet a chimera head-on. He, and the chimera, discovered milliseconds later that a chimera cannot easily stop during a sweeping dive. The two crashed into one another and felling into a heap on the ground.

Again, the Mercenaries brutally slaughtered the Kyuss spawn, leaving great rotting corpses of worm-writhing hide littering the ground. Ranulph suffered from a burrowing worm but was rescued by Morak. The worm was destroyed by yet another magic missile blast from Lyrin.

With the monsters destroyed, the team prepares once again to consider entering the cave. What causes the green glow? Can Lyrin summon an elemental platoon for assistance? Is Dragotha waiting?

Dresden Files – Blood Rites

I very recently finished reading Blood Rites, book six of the Dresden Files novels by Jim Butcher. I got interested in the books after watching the SciFi Channel’s TV show The Dresden Files. Although the series was canceled, I discovered it was based upon a series of novels about the same character. I started reading them sometime in January, and I’ve been hard pressed to put them down since.

Blood Rites, like the others in the series, picks up and continues the ongoing saga of excitement and tribulation that is the life of Chicago’s only professional wizard, Harry Dresden. From the opening line, I was hooked; Butcher starts the story with action, and it does not relent throughout the book. Of course, this book details a new case for the wizard/detective that leads into more supernatural turmoil. Harry’s previous troubles with the Red Court vampires are well-documented in earlier novels, but Blood Rites reveals much more on the Black Court and mysterious White Court.

Along the way, threads from previous books are woven together, including more information on Harry’s family and his relationship with his mentor. Old enemies raise their stinking, rotting heads once again, and unexpected allies appear. All of this happens to the narration of the witty, sometimes over reactionary, Wizard Dresden. Jim Butcher continues to improve with each novel, and Dresden’s unique personality and humor have completely come into their own. Sometimes you think, “Harry, don’t behave that way”, but you already know that he won’t be able to help himself.

The novel ends, like the other Dresden books, with lots of loose ends and looming threats. Butcher has mastered the subtle cliffhanger—you know your questions will be answered, but Butcher does not simply plod along revealing secret after secret. Each is woven into the background, and you discover your answers throughout the novels, not just from one to to the next.

I highly recommend this series for anyone interested in a modern supernatural thriller. Dresden has a sense of style and humor unlike other “heroes” you will find. It reminds me of a combination of Spider-Man’s sarcasm and biting wit meshed with the stoic determination and drive to do the right thing, no matter the cost, of Batman. The books are not for a very young audience, including lots of violence and some sexual content. It seems Wizard Dresden cannot help but attract the murderous attentions of flying purple-furred flaming-poo-flinging monkey demons. All in a day’s work.



Age of Worms Adventure Path – Game Session 77

Game summary for April 1, 2008; present characters included Eolas Windmaster (moon elf duskblade), Grim Firestorm (shield dwarf barbarian/battlerager/frenzied berserker/warmain), Lyrin Sinbal (simian incantatrix/ring sage/warmage), Mael Gabrian (human cleric), Morak Beardfist (shield dwarf fighter/rage cleric), Ranulph Wathbater (human berserker/fighter/hellreaver/paladin of freedom/rogue), Syvarius Strongbow (moon elf archer-ranger/peerless archer), and Taravin Truesilver (human gray guard/paladin of honor/pious templar).

Trapped in the fortress with Thessalar and a polymorphed twelve-headed pyrohydra, Eolas found himself in dire trouble. Fortunately, his insanity was suppressed for a short time, allowing him to grab Mael’s corpse and dimension door to safety. Outside, Beardfist rained down healing through the power of Moradin, and Mael’s cloak of the phoenix restored him to life. Thessalar quickly pursued Eolas outside, a huge tactical error. Ranulph used his flying ability to charge the lich and press him viciously. Thessalar unleashed several more spells but could not stand against Ranulph and his allies.

With the lich destroyed, the team moved immediately into the fortress where Mael tried to consecrate a vat of bubbling, plasmic flesh. The result was the unstable material condensed and burst forth as a fully grown, deadly powerful thessalhydra. The aberration tore into Taravin, sending him spiraling into a bloody, poisoned death. With the paladin slain, Lyrin and Syvarius still petrified, and Eolas low on mana, the team was hard pressed by the powerful monster. It hissed and snapped and tore into brave Grim. The clerics unleashed divine prayers upon the beast, weakening it, but not laying it low. Finally, with his last ounce of energy, Eolas cast a powerful polar ray at the thessalhydra. The monstrosity froze and died beneath the power of the duskblade’s spell! As the beast shuddered into death, a white light shone forth and settled into Eolas’ blade—a second fragment of Balakarde’s soul!

Nursing terrible wounds, depleted of mana, and with two of their own petrified, the Mercenaries made camp within the now-empty fortress of the lich. After several hours of rest, divine prayers restored fleshy life to Lyrin and Syvarius. Using translocation magic, the Mercenaries went to the tower of the lillend to bargain for the statue of Balakarde. They presented her with the dust of the lich as proof of his destruction. They also offered her the powerful blade—Stalker—of their fallen ally, Iapetus. The lithe elven archer offered to craft a bow the likes of which the lillend had never seen. Indeed, his skillful hands flew lovingly across the wood and coaxed forth a work of perfect craftsmanship. His mighty bow was delivered to the delighted lillend. With all of their conditions met, and Ranulph set to serve the lillend for a year, starting in three weeks’ time, the statue was theirs.

Upon combining the purse, the statue, and the sword in a pile, the spirit of Balakarde reformed. The ghostly entity spoke telepathically into the minds of all the Mercenaries. He thanked them for restoring him and pledged his assistance in destroying Dragotha. The team told him what they had learned, and he blanched when they mentioned their service for Lashonna. He revealed that Lashonna was Kyuss’ high priestess and next in line of power behind Dragotha. She had betrayed him years before, sending him to kill Dragotha. When he failed, she was found out, and Dragotha drove her from the Writhing Sanctum.

With this new information, and some details regarding Dragotha’s defenses from Balakarde, the Mercenaries decided to translocate to Longsaddle and re-equip themselves. When they next see the dark depths of the Wormcrawl Fissure, they will be armed and ready to face one of the greatest evils to ever walk the earth, in his own fortress!