Age of Worms Adventure Path – Game Session 93

Game summary for July 29, 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), Saedd West (human fighter/pious templar/wormhunter), and Syvarius Strongbow (moon elf archer-ranger/peerless archer).

The team found an exit from the Unlife Vortex chamber leading to the surface. It was trapped, but the group was able to disarm the magic and emerge from a mausoleum in the Mintarn boneyard. They quickly headed back into the town where they encountered a house full of people under attack from Kyuss minions. The Mercenaries wasted no time engaging.

They found themselves up against another colossal overworm, a pair of Kyuss high-knights, and two strange new enemies. These lightly armored Kyuss spawn carried bows made of human bones with an open skull that the arrow passed through. Instead of arrows, the Kyuss archers plucked worms from their form, which elongated and fired through the bows like projectiles. The worm-arrows attempted to burrow into the team members as they hit, reverting back into Kyuss worms.

Ranulph and Saedd brought the fight to the Kyuss minions, but they seemed more interested in sweeping past the frontline and going after the casters in the rear. Eolas began ray spells such as disintegrate and scorching ray to bring down his foes. Syvarius found himself in a brutal exchange of arrows between himself and the archers. Morak held the middle with healing magic and flame strikes. Lyrin unleashed area blasts and plucked worms off his allies with magic missile. The team brought the Kyuss minions down fairly quickly. The worst injuries were sustained when Saedd took a crippling bite from an overworm and then bravely positioned himself between two Kyuss high-knights and Morak. Beardfist was able to restore him to health as he withstood the assault.

Afterward, the group escorted eighteen Mintarn citizens to the temple of Kelemvor. As the survivors entered, the team could see the fainted glimmer of hope in the eyes of the people. Depleted of mana and resources, the Mercenaries decide to rest within the temple.

You Never Mentioned Him to Me

My family and I have been attending Vacation Bible School at Mt. Pleasant Church of Christ this week. Tonight’s guest speaker for the adult class was Shelton Peeler, minister at Scottsville Church of Christ. He had numerous good and thought-provoking points in his lesson this evening, and one of them I found particularly moving. He opened a songbook and read to us the lyrics of “You Never Mentioned Him to Me”. The first verse and chorus are below.

When in the better land before the bar we stand,
How deeply grieved our souls will be;
If any lost one there should cry in deep despair,
“You never mentioned Him to me.”

You never mentioned Him to me,
You helped me not the way to see;
You met me day by day and knew I was astray,
Yet never mentioned Him to me.”

The point was this (refer to Matthew 25:31-46). Imagine yourself at the day of judgment on the right side of God prepared to enter into His presence for eternity. Across on His left side, you see someone you knew in this life, a friend, a loved one, someone you knew day in and day out. Imagine the horror if that person had the ability to say to you, “you never mentioned Jesus to me!”

Now, we don’t know what we will be able to do or say on judgment day; this may not even be a possible scenario. However, I feel it well illustrates the point. Are there people you interact with day-to-day to whom you haven’t mentioned Jesus? Can those around you see Jesus in your actions? Do you talk about the meaning of Christ in your life? Do you invite those around you to come and study with you and your church and learn more of His will? What a tremendous opportunity we have every day to encourage others to seek Christ; how sad it is every chance we take for granted.

I found this portion of the lesson very poignant. I teach an adult Bible class every Sunday morning to all who will come. I preach from time to time as our church has need. I think these are good things, and I speak from the heart to my friends and family at church; however, what about all those dear to me who are not there on Sundays? I’ve known I should be doing more, but tonight’s lesson really helped drive that home.

I also know some friends and family read my blog from time to time. This is one more chance for me to say, “Let me tell you about my God.” I welcome the opportunity to speak more of Christ, answer questions, and do what I can to help you know of His love for every one of us. Romans 3:23 illustrates the need each of us has for our Savior. In 2 Peter 3:9, we see God is willing to forgive every single person who will come to repentance. There is no one who cannot find Christ through learning and obeying His holy Word.

Age of Worms Adventure Path – Game Session 92

Game summary for July 22, 2008; present characters included Eolas Windmaster (moon elf duskblade), Morak Beardfist (shield dwarf fighter/rage cleric), Ranulph Wathbater (human berserker/fighter/hellreaver/paladin of freedom/rogue), Saedd West (human fighter/pious templar/wormhunter), Syvarius Strongbow (moon elf archer-ranger/peerless archer), and Taravin Truesilver (human divine crusader/gray guard/paladin of honor/pious templar).

Wasting no time, the Mercenaries moved forward and found the awesome Unlife Vortex contraption. It was a mechanical monstrosity of steel girders, whirling gears, and complex controls. The room housing the vortex was illuminated by dozens of green flames emitting light but no heat. As the team approached, four ghostly avolakias materialized and launched attacks. Curses and divine fire flowed over the party, but the team remained resolute.

Quickly, the main brawlers of the team charged forward to find themselves swinging right through the ghostly forms. Some blows rang true, but the majority swished through empty air. Syvarius, and his bow, encountered a similar problem, but his ability to launch such a volley of attacks allowed him to drive some of the spirits back. The ghosts moved into positions where negative energy flowed into and healed them. One went into the vortex itself, and two others floated within a circle inscribed on the floor. These used some fell power to shove Taravin into the circle where he became trapped and blasted with negative energy.

Soon, the ghostpriests found themselves over matched, and the Mercenaries began splattering their ectoplasmic forms into puddles of goo. The avolakia in the vortex bought himself some time with a wall of stone, forcing Morak to step into the ethereal plane to pass. Ranulph, on the ghost’s side of the wall, floated up and attacked with his blade. The spirit mystically shoved him directly into the vortex, which ripped asunder his soul, sending pieces of it hurtling into oblivion. The brave warrior barely escaped using his skeleton key.

Taravin went in next, warded by the strength of Kelemvor. Meanwhile, Eolas flitted past the wall with but a thought and a dimension door. Taravin channeled positive energy into the ghost, weakening it greatly. From the ethereal plane, Morak blasted the ghost with scathing divine fire, destroying it.

With the guardians defeated, Saedd was able to discover the secret of the vortex controls and shut it down. The island shook with Kyuss’ screams of rage. When he emerges from his prison, he will no doubt seek to carve out satisfaction to his frustrations from the Mercenaries’ hides.

Restaurants in Panama City Beach

I recently returned from another trip to Panama City and Panama City Beach. I ate at a number of restaurants there, and here are some of my thoughts on them.

  • Bishop’s Family Buffet – We ate at Bishop’s toward the end of our trip. The buffet is very well stocked with a good variety, including steak, spaghetti, fish, crab legs, shrimp, and chicken. I really enjoyed the food, but be prepared to pay dearly for it. The evening buffet is upwards of $23 a person. Part of this is the all-you-can-eat crab legs; since I don’t like crab legs, this is not a selling point for me. Overall a good experience, but the price keeps it from being on my “must return” list.
  • IHOP – We don’t have an IHOP around here, so we try to eat at them when we find them. There is a new one at the end of 23rd street at the junction with U.S. 231, on the left past Panama City Mall. It is your typical IHOP, but I include it here because most people wouldn’t go this far out and stumble upon it.
  • McDonald’s – We went once to the McDonald’s at 16990 Front Beach Road. They don’t have the Dollar Menu, so don’t ever bother going there.
  • Pizza Hut – We called the Pizza Hut at 16726 Front Beach Road at around 7:00 p.m. on a Sunday or Monday evening. They had a two-hour wait. We ordered Domino’s and got it in 30 minutes (just like the commercial).
  • Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-BQ – I ate at the Sonny’s on the corner of Back Beach Road and Beckrich Road. This is becoming one of my favorite restaurants in the area. The food is excellent and prices very reasonable. I was disappointed to find they changed the menu this year and no longer offer the build-your-own combinations that allow you to try several different things at once. However, we ended up eating here twice, and I had the pulled pork one night and pulled chicken another. Both were excellent. If you get cornbread, you get less than if you get garlic bread. The baked beans are very good as well. Overall, I was very pleased with Sonny’s and will certainly eat there again in the future.
  • Treasure Ship – My wife and I love to go to the Treasure Ship on Thomas Drive. The food is really good, and the atmosphere very pleasant. It is not an inexpensive meal, but I’ve always found it worth it. Get the Treasure Ship Trio appetizer; it is cheese sticks, chicken fingers, and fried shrimp. Delicious! This year, for the main meal I got mahi-mahi and really liked it. Their salads, sadly, have a lot to be desired though. Me, my wife, and my two-year-old ate for around $70.
  • Whataburger – We don’t have a Whataburger locally, and I really like the food. We stopped at the one on highway 331 in Defuniak Springs, FL. The food is good, but it is way overpriced. It was $17 for the three of us to eat, and we got nothin’ fancy. I like a good burger, but for this much, you can keep it. I have an idea to save some costs and lower those prices; I don’t need a flat screen TV over the urinal.

Age of Worms Adventure Path – Game Session 91

Game summary for July 8, 2008; present characters included Eolas Windmaster (moon elf duskblade), 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), Saedd West (human fighter/pious templar/wormhunter), Syvarius Strongbow (moon elf archer-ranger/peerless archer), and Taravin Truesilver (human divine crusader/gray guard/paladin of honor/pious templar).

The team returned to the defiled shrine and opened the remaining doors to find a hallway of mosaic green tiles rippling with energy. A stylized green worm was inlaid in the floor and crossed to the far door. Taravin walked onto the worm and out into the room, only to find himself blasted by numerous orbs that bestowed negative levels. Saedd quickly moved to rescue him, and Ranulph borrowed Mael’s negative immunity ring to traverse the room. Soon, Saedd had the doors open, revealing a statuary room fill with pillars, tables, marble, and partially-carved figures. Beyond the room was a raised platform and another massive room filled with some kind of swirling black energy. Standing within the statuary room was no fewer than eight liches, which the group found as they dimension doored into the room!

Battle was joined immediately, with spells and invocations flying. Some of the liches rendered themselves invisible, and others cursed the party with various afflictions. The priestly lich Cardinals hit the bunched-up team with blistering flame strikes. The archmages favored weakening effects and magical holds. The warlocks were less elaborate, blasting away with eldritch spears.

The party wasted no time engaging but hit some rough patches early on. Lyrin greatly wounded most of the lichs with his sun magic early, and even blinded some. This singled him out as a “must kill” target instantly, and the group focused fire on him until he went down in a heap. The two party clerics were also targets as soon as their casting abilities were revealed; however, the liches never could get their fire concentrated enough to bring them down. Saedd and Taravin found themselves under effects such as ray of enfeeblement and waves of exhaustion. This mainly bought the liches time to try other tactics, but they ran into several immunities granted by Mael–acid and cold seemed a big mistake for the liches, rendering several volleys utterly ineffective. Their blistering flame strikes continued to inflict painful wounds, however.

Things began to turn around as Mael blasted out a blade barrier to divide the enemies, and Syvarius shook off his compulsed holding and could launch arrows. The two clerics nullified the worst of the damage dealt to the party, and Taravin, Ranulph, and Saedd kept pressure on several liches. Eolas found his scorching rays of particularly good use, burning several liches to cinders! Soon, the power of Kelemvor brought Lyrin back to life, and he made of up for lost time with the nasty attacks he launched.

Finally, the lich corpses lay in smoking ruins around the room. But what lurks on the other side of the platform? Is the energy the Unlife Vortex? The liches appeared to be workers; if that is the case, what could possibly be the vortex guardian?

Nightlife by Rob Thurman

This week, I finished reading Rob Thurman’s Nightlife, book one of the Cal Leandros series. It is one of many in the avalanche of urban fantasy novels in the last couple years. Being a big fan of Jim Butcher, I have been branching out to similar authors. What I found in Nightlife was interesting, but far from spectacular.

The book is mainly written from the point of view of Caliban (Cal) Leandros, who is a pretty un-endearing, forgettable individual. I think the author really enjoyed being able to write cuss words because “that’s what those teenagers say these days.” He is supposed to come across as a clever, witty, wiseass. Instead, he became a character in a book I set aside for over a month. Horribly, terribly, unoriginal. His brother, Niko, is a more appealing character, although he plays second fiddle throughout the book. Despite the Cal character being a flop, Thurman’s re-imagining of the faerie tale world is quite interesting. The Thurman “elf” (a mispronunciation of “Auphe”) is a wicked, nasty creature of pure evil. They make passable boogeymen, although their nastiness is never really demonstrated, just hinted around at. The Thurman “troll” is really intriguing, with the ability to absorb others into its massive tentacled form. Satyrs make an appearance, as do boggles. The vampires are barely explored, but the werewolves felt a bit “off”. Overall, the fantasy world itself is different and intriguing. I much prefer Kim Harrison’s fantasy world from the Hollows, but this is passable.

The plot is not bad, if not cliched. The big bad guys want to destroy humanity, and the good guys don’t want that. Typical, but pulled off in an acceptable manner. The biggest problem is the Cal character is lousy. There is no empathy for him, he’s not amusing, he acts like a twelve-year-old with a pistol, and he is uninspired. Everytime he goes into another one of his long tirades about life, I find myself going on a long sleep.

Overall, I think the book showed a lot of promise. I would be curious to see how the later books (this was Thurman’s first) develop the character. For a first novel, it is a good attempt and shows some creativity. I would like to see characters that hook me into the story. Honestly, by the end of the book, I didn’t care if Cal made it or not. In fact, at times I rooted for the bad guys, because it would finally end.

In the end, I put this particular work on the B-list of urban fantasy. It is an okay story with some very neat twists on myth and legend, but character development needs a lot of work. I’m willing to read one more and see if Thurman was able to fully come into his potential.


Age of Worms Adventure Path – Game Session 90

Game summary for July 1, 2008; present characters included Eolas Windmaster (moon elf duskblade), 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), Saedd West (human fighter/pious templar/wormhunter), Syvarius Strongbow (moon elf archer-ranger/peerless archer), and Taravin Truesilver (human divine crusader/gray guard/paladin of honor/pious templar).

The Mercenaries attempted to use Saedd’s instant fortress to rest within the complex. It worked for a while until they were attacked by a horned devil that slipped inside. The fiend killed Morak in his sleep, terrified Syvarius, and injured Mael and scared him so badly he could only roll down the stairs and babble, “It killed Mael! It killed Mael!”, much to the confusion of his allies. When he recovered his wits, he then told them the devil had killed Morak.

The team rushed up to that floor and viciously embattled the devil. It fought valiantly, but it was unable to withstand the onslaught. It was soon beaten unconscious, though regenerating. The team quickly dragged it into a prismatic sphere, which killed it. The team then locked themselves back in the fortress and continued their rest.

When the Mercenaries emerged, they immediately proceeded to the mirror wall and used wind walk to go through the crack. Once through, Morak dismissed the spell. Within, they found a treasure trove of items and a pair of devils, another horned and a pit fiend! Battle was joined immediately, with the devils dropping fireballs and swinging massive chains. Although extraordinarily dangerous, the Mercenaries were able to swarm the devils and beat them unconscious quickly. The horned devil was blasted into oblivion with a destruction, and the pit fiend was trapped within a magic circle against evil.

After ransacking the room, they found an item Lyrin recognized from lore, the dreaded Baalphegor’s Grace. He realized this was what controlled the Blessed Angels in the city of Mintarn. He also remembered it was extremely dangerous to use. They made a deal with the pit fiend to exchange its freedom from the circle for the answer to three questions. Both parties agreed not to attack each other as well. True to its word, the devil answered their questions. The first, who does it work for, it indicated it was bound by Lashonna. Second, what is the source of the negative energy, it replied the Unlife Vortex. And finally, in answer on how to use Baalphegor’s Grace, it told them to drink it. The devil then teleported to parts unknown.

Armed with new knowledge, the party now seeks the Unlife Vortex in their quest to destroy Kyuss.