Monday, March 6, 2023

The Black Labyrinth of Lord Greywulf - the party gets randomized

Okey dokey - Sunday again, folks, and we had a few repeat offenders, and a couple of new folks at the table.

  • Jax, barbarian
  • Fulvus, halfling
  • Rondel, elf
  • Mareth, another elf
and introducing:

  • Skuli Bodvarsson, cleric
  • Slick, thief (of course)
Skuli rocking his randomly-generated hairdo and 15 CHA

The party convened in Neuforde, with a wandering band of performers arriving in town to entertain and fleece the locals. I did this mostly to practice a bit of improv and to wait and see where the evening was going to go... 

Slick won a few gold in a game of chance, Rondel narrowly lost a knife-throwing contest, and Mareth and Skuli had their fortunes read by "Madame Grebe." Mareth also paid some good coin for "protective incense." Jax and Goober thought the whole affair was sketchy and gave the carnies a wide berth.

Slick also partook in a bit of five-finger discount work and garnered a few gold coins and "written directions to the Black Labyrinth of Lord Greywulf" (thank you, Donjon).

Well, I guess that's where we're going tonight...

<Pause for behind-the-curtains moment>

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Random Monster: Carnivorous Grass

Solomon dropped his pack. This little copse of grass would do to rest for the night. Green and soft - better than that rocky camp last night. He kicked aside a desiccated dear corpse mounded in the center of the grass. He wasn't about to share a bed with that. Solomon threw down his bedroll, took a nip from his flask, and shut his eyes...

The sun hit his eyes. Groggy, he realized he'd slept past the dawn. He felt numb, his limbs heavy... He'd only had one nip... Feebly, he tried to sit up, only to find himself bound to the ground. Farkin' pixies! No, that wasn't right. His vision cleared, and he saw in horror that his skin had been pierced and threaded with countless blades of grass! Solomon struggled, feebly, feeling drained, as the sun continued to rise. He vaguely felt the grass pierce more fully into his body and wrap more securely around his limbs... 

Don't Step On the Grass

One of many banes of the unwary in the wilderness, Carnivorous Grass presents a tempting "bed" of thick, soft turf for a weary traveler or animal to rest upon. The grass may give itself away by one or more desiccated corpses within its bounds, although the age of the corpse may not be clear, as the grass' attack and consumption of victims accelerates any apparent decay.

Only after they slumber, will the grass present its true nature, working its way through bedding and clothing to pierce the flesh and bind the victim to the ground as it slowly drains them of lifeblood and strength.

The grass manages this feat by producing an anesthetic effect (save vs poison to detect/be awakened). If awakened, the victim may escape with little difficulty, tearing away the grass blades from their flesh. Extracting oneself will cause 1d4 damage.

Those who do not awaken will take 1d6 damage +1d4 STR drain (One "attack" per night, three "attacks" per day). A trapped individual must make a STR test upon awakening to escape the entwining and piercing grass. They may make an additional attempt after each grass "attack," but repeated failures will lead to decreasing chances of escape as their blood and strength are drained. 

(AC: Umm, it's grass.  HD: No matter what you do to it, it's eventually growing back...)

Beware of the Lawn

And of course there's real "carnivorous" grass (via symbiotic fungus, but who's counting?)

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Random Monster: The Conflagration Spider

Stumbled upon via a friend's feed:

art by Edward Gorey, of course

Anyway, this fellow looks like a fun time. 

And since I enjoy aggravating my poor players with yet another spider variant...  After all, they almost had their asses handed to them by a single pesky crustacean last session. So let's do this...

Conflagration Spider:
Angry, belligerent, and aflame, these arachnids were the unholy development of the vivimancer-alchemist Vladan Bačić. Bačić consorted with certain abyssal powers to create a predator with flammable glands that bathed the beast in arcane fire as it sprinted after its prey or invaded a lair.

The spiders, bred and controlled by the vivimancer, were used to protect his lord's fortifications and to raid the camps of besieging enemies or an opposing army, wreaking destruction and panic. The spiders eventually broke free of their bond-magic, escaping into the mountainous region of the Kawrwel Wastes, a rough land of sparse forests and rocky escarpments, where they lurk and dwell among the ruins and caverns of that ancient borderland to this day. 

Stalkers and sprint-hunters, the spiders lurk among the rock, before bursting into the open, igniting their flames, to descend upon panicked and confused prey. Although born of arachnid stock, Conflagration Spiders have a distinct intolerance for other spiders, stalking them, burning their webs, and consuming any that they capture. 

Attributes: HD4, AC 5/14, Atk: 1d8 bite + 1d8 flame damage (1d3 rounds). Anyone in melee takes 1d6 automatic heat/fire damage. The flame is arcane fire, and not readily extinguished. An individual spider can maintain its fire for 2d3 rounds before needing to regenerate its fire-gland stores. Resistances: Immune to fire, half damage from cold attacks. Curiosities: The glands may be of great value to alchemists and similar researchers hoping to reverse-engineer Vladan Bačić's methods. Great care is required to safely remove a spider's flame-gland, requiring an appropriate attribute or skill roll at difficulty. Failure will result in an explosion (2d6 damage, 10 foot radius, save for half).

seemed apropos

Note: According to the table of contents I found for the book, the cover image depicts "The Black Spider," by Jeremias Gotthelf, a horror story/morality tale of misfortunes befalling a town after a bargain is struck with the Devil (and his avatar, the eponymous spider). I was hoping to find a Project Gutenberg or Librovox version, but it looks like "free" English versions aren't currently available... What translated excerpts I have been able to find have an atmosphere of classic gothic horror and desperation.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Sunday Session - Don't Knock Over the Urns

 What happened this week, folks?

Tonight's party:

  • Jax, barbarian+dog
  • Frederick, thief
  • Fulvus, halfling
And introducing:

  • Brandor, dwarf
  • Nolan, thief
We started in Neuforde, observing some of the new settlers and developments in the area (toll booth at new bridge, a few new homes, militia barracks, survey markers for future walls and a new temple). Things are booming in our little town on the frontier... (Oh, and Frederick just returned with the local halflings after finding some random goods that fell off some wagons. The local Adopt-a-highway program is effective.)

A bit of introduction, and the PCs sought out some rumors about the past history of the land. It seems that there was once some sort of barrier or network that helped keep Chaos at bay generations ago when the land was more settled. With the ensuing loss of the lands, and general instability in other domains, much of the local history has been lost. It is known that the "Ring Road" as the trade road passing through town is known, was formerly part of a border, although the route has been altered somewhat.

As a starting point in their search, the party headed upstream to a lake and cave previously explored and cleared of a polluting alchemist. On the way, they encountered a band of bullywugs, set on defending their territory. Through a bit of pidgin language, the party made clear that they were just passing through, and the leader seemed to recognize Jax. The bullywugs demanded a fee for passing. Frederick offered some pearls, and Fulvus his bag of marbles. The bullywugs were a bit meh regarding the pearls, but quite excited about the marbles. 

shiny marbles!

Reaching the cave, the party now sought to investigate some carvings that had been noticed during the prior exploration. Clearing some moss and debris, they deciphered what appeared to be a schematic representation of the local area, with a number of mystery points. Conveniently, one appeared to be nearby. Oh, and Brandor found a couple of unbroken bottles with mystery fluids in the ruined lab. I'm sure they are perfectly harmless...

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Random Magic Item: Lamp of the Hound

Inspirational image originally found on r/greyhounds (because we have those silly running couch-hounds).


From the item description: "Bronze plastic lamp in the form of the head of a greyhound, holding a hare in its mouth. The hound's eyes are inlaid with discs of silver (one missing)..." 

Really, I can't do better than that...

Lamp of the Hound