Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Concerning the Wilderlands

I've been thinking about making this post for a while. Some of you may be aware of the extremely vile statements made by Bob Bledsaw's son. As Rob Conley noted his attempts to clarify or apologize have not been any better. For this reason Conley has decided to terminate his business connections to the Judges Guild. Last I heard Goodman Games was still working them to publish works by Jennell Jaquays in order to do right by her even if the Judges Guild is run by a shit, and I respect that decision.

I have no financial ties to the company and merely have talked about how I like the setting (in both it's original and d20 forms) on this blog numerous times. I also often run it. For a while I thought I'd never run it again but as summer approaches I find myself again in the mood for Sword & Sorcery adventure in lieu of or in addition to my normal spooky affairs. I have, in fact, restarted a Wilderlands game (with at least two of the characters from the old Cutthroat Inn campaign returning). I've decided my connection to the setting outweighs my feelings on Bledsaw II's racism. I would likely feel different if I had been involved with the business as the aforementioned people had been.

Anyway, I wanted to start posting about the campaign here but I thought I should clarify that my still using the setting is in no way an endorsement of anything Robert Bledsaw II has said or done.

Oh, and if you want to read a post about how to handle social justice issues in your tabletop rpgs I highly recommend this post by Humza.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

The Saints will Eat You

  
The Sphere in Judgement, a common motif in the art of the Western Church, by Chris Huth

James at Grognardia recently made a post about his use of saints instead of gods in his Urheim project. I have, to some degree, done this in the World of Nightwick as well. Originally this was just a set of oddball references I used to fill out the doctrine of the Western Church, and in the form of St Santa Claus it became a running NPC/faction in the game. However, since I have switched to 5e for the two games I'm currently running, saints have taken increasing importance since they are a vector for mechanics: they provide clerics access to divine domains. Below is a list of the divine domains and their associated saints now that new ones have been provided in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything:

Forge - St Joel the Witty
Grave - St Ingels the Ghastly
Knowledge - St Simon the Wise
Life - the Lady*
Light - St Richard the Prior
Nature - St Simian the Fool
Order - St Toad
Peace - St Henrich Kiss Monger
Tempest - St Santa Claus
Trickery - St Ralph the Liar
Twilight - St Roderic the Sterling
War - St Gax Lawgiver

*The role the Lady plays in the Church is of paramount importance and for more information you should check out this patreon post.


Saturday, November 28, 2020

Kommando Kronikles: The Sword


...kinda.

Characters Present
Sir Istvan the Vulgar Knight (Foul Changeling Fighter)
Sir Uein of the World (Human Fighter)
Abraham, Lord of the Prison (Human Rogue/Ranger)
Father Kozel of the Wood (Fair Changeling Cleric)
Mother Johanna of the Church of St Santa Claus (Human Cleric)
Frederick van Bull (Frogling Fighter)

November 27th, 1396
  • Uein had concocted a plan to defeat the last Hochmeister and gain the seals needed to open a door on the Baroness Level. They believed this door concealed either a relic cross or a powerful magic sword.
  • Entering through the graveyard entrance, the party soon found that the geomorph they normally enter through had changed orientation, meaning the way in was no longer the way out and led instead into a series of catacombs.
  • Heading into those catacombs, Istvan was able to see with his special eyes that there were a number of odd, hunched figures down one of the passages. 
  • The party planned to attack them, but the lighting conditions of the dungeon proved difficult to overcome, and in setting up they soon attracted the attention not only of the foes they expected (which turned out to be a group of ghouls) but also a formation of Blind Bruders.
  • This led to a combat on two fronts, with the clerics and Istvan heading to face the blind brothers and the two fighters engaging the ghouls. Uein was fairly significantly wounded but both battles went easily in favor of the Kommandos.
  • There was then some debate about which way to go, and as it was decided that north was the  proper way, the party was ambushed by a pair of broken dead. These too were fairly easily overcome, but there was a brief moment of panic as the creatures are often a great annoyance to delvers.
  • Making the way north they found an altar covered in offal and depicting dead beings dancing around a great sphere, rusted and pitted and covered in eyes. This they remembered from a  previous delve, but were at first convinced that it lay near the lair of Great King Death. Luckily Abraham was eventually able to remember that it actually lay near the Hochmeister they sought.
  • Their previous encounter with the Hochmeister had ended with them retreating for at the time they lacked clerics, area of effect spells, and blunt weapons.
  • This time, however, the creatures were easily dispatched due to the magic of saint Santa Claus and the potent sling bullets of Abraham.
  • The monster's lair was in a great catacomb, which the party spent some time exploring to find some treasure. This they did, though perhaps not as much as would normally befit such a potent adversary.
  • However, most importantly they found the fourth and final sword brother seal.
  • Uein realized that a simple walk west would lead outside the dungeon and that their best bet was to reenter through the East Tower in order to make their way to the Baroness level. Their current position on level 3 had no established root to that level, though previous outings showed it was possible to get there.
  • So they did indeed exit and return by the East Tower, soon finding themselves on the second level.
  • They passed through a portal of darkness and into strangely regular square rooms they knew to be associated with the God of Law, and to house the item they sought.
  • There was some confusion as to where everyone needed to stand to put in the seals simultaneously, but eventually this was sorted out and the seals placed and the door opened.
  • It revealed a two handed sword composed entirely of right angles - with a flat top, cubic hit, rectangular handle and guard, and a razor thin blade. Kozel was able to recognize this as a fabled "shard" of the God of Law, struck off him during the War in Heaven. He also determined the area they stood in was consecrated, though the sword itself seemed neutral in aspect.
  • Johanna and Uein then each toyed with it while it was still shoved in the dais. Uein ultimately pulled it out causing a thrum to emit through the room as though he had struck a tuning fork.
  • They then decided to make their way back to Nightwick village, to study the sword in greater detail.

Monsters Slain
19 Blind Bruders, 6 Ghouls, 1 Hochmeister, 2 Broken Dead

Treasure Gained
5,000sp, a suit of strangely spotless half plate of  great antiquity, a shard of the God of  Law

XP Per Player
875


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Kommando Kronikles: Hunting the Hundprest

Characters Present
Sir Istvan the Vulgar Knight (Foul Changeling Fighter) (only first session)
Sir Uein of the World (Human Fighter)
Abraham, Lord of the Prison (Human Rogue/Ranger)
Father Kozel of the Wood (Fair Changeling Cleric)
Mother Johanna of the Church of St Santa Claus (Human Cleric) (only second session)
 
November 13th - 16th, 1396
  •  As discussed in the previous write up, the countryside has been harried for the past several weeks by a creature unleashed by the Kommandos themselves.  
  • Now armed with a mace which could banish his spirit back to hell and two clerics capable of casting banishment, the party believed they had what they needed to end his reign of terror.
  • Since they did not know his precise location, they decided the best thing would be to make their way to Knightpath and ask there for more specific directions to his new camp.
  • En route they were first stopped by an encounter with some of the Hundprest's own hunting hounds - unfortunates who had been transformed by his terrible curse. Abraham used his rod of rulership to cow some of them, while Kozel removed the curse from as many as possible. Some were unfortunately slain before they could be helped.
  • Heading further down the long road, the party encountered a large set of bandits (somewhere between 30 and 300) whose ambush Sir Istvan was unable to spot in time. Kozel summoned a thunderhead and used call lightning to destroy a small set of the bandits, causing their leader to flee. Upon seeing their leader flee, the rest of the bandits followed suit. 
  • Istvan decided to chase down the leader and engage him in single combat, and seeing how fast the barbarian could move, the leader indeed turned to face his opponent. Istvan was ultimately able to defeat him (with some aid from a well placed bolt shot by Abraham).
  • Abraham and Kozel then set about killing who they could of the remaining bandits with bolts both crossbow and lightning.
  • Realizing that the commoners and dogs they had in tow were a burden and could be endangered by further such encounters, the party decided to alter their route and head to the Rumpelfort. This is a small fortified manor that once served as the home of a being called the Little Magic Man, but the Wild Daggers (i.e. the gamestore group) had cleared it to be occupied by the Order of the Elk.
  • They found the guards of the Rumpelfort quite ornery and suspicious, but they quickly realized that this was because the plague in Lychgate was having a resurgence and many who traveled from that city to the various villages along the Long Road were now infected.
  • A cleric was summoned to inspect them for disease, and finding none they were allowed in - and apologized too on account of their fame in the bishopric.
  • The next day Kozel and the chaplain of the fort removed the curse from the remaining dogs.



  • On the third day, the party left the Rumpelfort to head into the Little Heath, an area lying between the Great Swamp and the Mire of Princes. This is where they had been directed by the knights of the Elk and was also familiar to them from an earlier adventure which had led to the destruction of a pagan settlement at the edge of the swamp.
  • Abraham, now having been trained in the arts of the woodsmen of Nightwick in return for his earlier acts of "heroism" on their behalf, followed the mixture of dog tracks and hand and feet prints along the southern edge of the heath. 
  • The trail became muddled, but finding more tracks led them to a burned out building as well as a pile of burnt bodies. Near the building was a large cauldron and the skeletons of small fairy creatures, unidentifiable to those present. Some speculation on the purpose of the bones and the cauldron was made, but it was agreed by all that the house had been burnt by the Hundprest himself.
  • They then made their way to the village they remembered from their earlier escapade. They arrived at dusk to find that it showed some evidence of having been rebuilt only to have been recently destroyed again - likely by the Hundprest. The party decided this would be a fair place to camp as the ruined buildings would provide a place to hide as well as some safety from the pouring rain that had begun only a short time ago.
  • During the night, Abraham caught sight of a groan. When previously encountered, the village had worshiped these creatures, and Abraham observed it approach, see no signs of life, and then slink off back into the swamp as though greatly saddened.

Pecz
  • The next morning, still in the rain, they decided to cross through the middle of the heath in hope of picking up the trail.
  • After only a short trek, Istvan spotted a herd of reindeer ahead, tended to by an old man. Kozel recognized this immediately as a druid dedicated to "St Santa Claus." He had earlier researched reindeer, asking around informants in the Woodsmen's Lodge, and they had told him of such a herd and such a druid.
  • From this druid, whose name was Pecz, they learned that the Hundprest was once a chaplain of the Sword Brothers, and descendants of his flock were bound to serve him as hounds due to the sins of their ancestors. 
  • They also learned that though the Hundprest was bound in death to hunt the Bogdani,* he was not very picky in his choice of victim. These two facts together answered a question that had long bedeviled the party - how does this racist ghost operate? It turns out that while he could not accurately pinpoint his foeman, he did know his compatriots. Thus was his curse endlessly maintained.
  • Asking for some aid, Kozel and Abraham were each provided with both a large stag reindeer and a smaller female reindeer (one for fighting and one for light riding) to serve as mounts.
  • They headed south over land they had already covered, for Pecz had directed them thus, and soon were able to pick up the trail again and find the monster's camp.
  • Currently he was gone, but the camp was attended by a lone figure in Sword Brother robes. Seeing this for one of the Blind Dead, Abraham struck swiftly with a sling bullet and destroyed the creature.
  • The party then set about searching the camp, finding a rack of "sausage" that seemed to be just human entrails, and a spot of frozen ground which Abraham identified as the area where the Hundprest would manifest at night.
  • They set a plan - create a roaring fire on top of his "spawn," cast banishment when he appeared, and if he stayed then wail on him and make sure the last hit was with the mace.
  • The creature appeared as soon as the sun had dipped below the horizon, and at the same time so did a pack of fierce wolfhounds. Abraham subdued these with his rod of rulership - the dogs so charmed fighting with those that made their save. Kozel and Johanna both attempted to banish the creature, but it laughed in the face of their prayers.
  • The combat which occurred thereafter was not terribly difficult, though the cackling of the Hundprest even as his own body burned was greatly unnerving, but ultimately when it slipped out of its body to find a new host, Johanna struck it with the mace casting it back into the Pit.
  • Then they camped and the next day headed back to Nightwick, making a brief stop to inform Pecz of the success of their mission.
Monsters Slain
40 bandits, 1 bandit captain, 1 blind dead, 25 wolf hounds, the Hundprest

Treasure Gained
2400cp, 1000sp, 30gp, 15 crossbows, 45 bolts, 150gp in women's jewelry

XP Per Player
305 per session
* The natives of the Dark Country.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Kommando Kronikles: The Bowling Alley Job


Characters Present
Sir Istvan the Vulgar Knight (Foul Changeling Fighter)
Sir Uein of the World (Human Fighter)
Abraham, Lord of the Prison (Human Rogue)
Father Kozel of the Wood (Fair Changeling Cleric)
Mother Johanna of the Church of St Santa Claus (Human Cleric)

Shocktober 30th, 1396
  • A few weeks ago, the Kommandos had encountered a revenant known to locals as the Hundprest.
  • This first encounter with him proved that he could not be slain by the party at the time - they lacked powerful enough magic to do so. 
  • Kozel spent some weeks researching the creature, and his efforts will be discussed in a future kronikle. For now, suffice it to say that he felt he knew how the monster could be dismissed but that Mother Johanna would possibly need to advance in level to ensure success.
  • With this in mind, the party decided to return to the fetid hole known as Nightwick Abbey!
  • Their plan was to enter the third floor and clear out a bowling alley of dregs and gambling den of devil-men that was associated with it. This, they hoped, would yield a fair amount of treasure while requiring little exertion.
  • They entered the dungeon by the east tower - for they knew not the relation of the graveyard entrance to the bowling alley but did know that it lay at the base of the stairs down from level 2.
  • On their way, they encountered a group of cultists in garbs they had not seen before - all black. Abraham was able to charm some using a rod of rulership the party had wrested from a pagan tomb shortly before the events in Vollage. The rest were quickly slain.
  • From those enthralled, they learned they served in the cult of a being they called only The Master. Unfortunately, it is quite common for cults to refer to their idols by this moniker, but Kozel was able to ascertain they venerated a vampire.
  • They also discussed how they (and the Master) were at war with a demonic being they called Plutus, and they had come to break open the seals to level 4 to aid in this war.
  • Abraham then explained that they should present themselves to the guards at his prison and begin "infiltrating" by submitting themselves as prisoners there.
  • They found that Uein's remembering of the Baroness's level was apparently incorrect, and while trying to locate the stairs to level 3 they encountered a caged one. 
  • They slew it, but doing so required the clerics to anger the Abbey, causing a shift. Still, the encounter occurred right next to the stairs so while leaving may have been an issue, they could head to their quarry without incident.
  • Heading down the stairs they arrived at the bowling alley, and only remembered that even when bowling dregs make no noise.
  • There was a short attempt to parley, but Istvan's inopportune question of "so are we killing these guys?" ensured its failure.
  • Battle was joined, though many of the dregs retreated to fetch devil-men alleys from the gambling den and even a chamber beyond (that happened to be connected at the time of the battle).
  • Both Kozel and Johanna used effects that automatically caused the abbey to shift, but it seemed not to impede their current aim.
  • These spells, and their companion's blades, proved sovereign against the assembled devil-men and dregs.
  • They did, indeed, find a great deal of treasure, but decided to continue on in order to map out the current geomorph configuration.
  • They found that the chambers they next investigated now housed a warlock and members of the Cult of the Ever Watchful Eye. The warlock they recognized by reputation to be Nymandus, a man who had previously been responsible for the stoppage of Blackleg's mine (their forces encountered him after the incident with the two ghosts.)
  • Again, battle was joined. Though warlocks of Armadeus are known to be fearful opponents, quick thinking, spells, and decisive blows all focused on him defeated him in only a few rounds. The cultists were much more easily killed.
  • With some of Nymandus's goods as treasure, and with the haul from the bowling alley, the party decided now would be a good time to escape to the surface.
  • On the second level, they found they didn't know the way back, but since the party was high enough level that they would all automatically survive being lost on the 2nd level the session ended there.
Monsters Killed
13 Cultists, 19 Devil-men, 22 Mites, and Nymandus

Treasure Gained
5300sp, 1300gp, 6 black pearls (100gp each), 2 peridots (250gp each), and two scrolls

XP Per Player
1171

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Kommando Kronikles: Song of the Shape

The Bishopric of Lychgate

Or Hallowe'en Defeated!

Characters Present
Sir Istvan the Vulgar Knight (Foul Changeling Fighter)
Sir Uein of the World (Human Fighter)
Abraham, Lord of the Prison (Human Rogue)
Father Kozel of the Wood (Fair Changeling Cleric)
Mother Johanna of the Church of St Santa Claus (Human Cleric)

Shocktober 16th

  • With Sir Frederick van Bull away at his trading post in Frogguts, and Stavros Chrysophylax Balsamon taken by some strange and debilitating mood, the leadership of the Howling Kommandos did not wish to again enter the bowels of Nightwick Abbey perchance to face Great King Death.
  • Instead, Kozel suggested that they help open the road between Lychgate and Nightwick by destroying a monster that had been rumored for some time to be attacking those passing through the ruins of Vollage - a being known as the Shape.
  • Thanks to the "rescue" of his "daughter" in the last session, Halfdan the Black was predisposed to helping them and allowed Kozel to use his library to ascertain the nature of the Shape. Research showed that it was a fiend of some nature and likely would be immune to normal weapons.
  • This in mind, the assembled members of the Howling Kommandos set off on foot without companions on the morning of Shocktober 16th.
The Alchemist in Life?
  • Early on their journey was halted when Istvan, scouting ahead of the rest of the party, noticed that one of the burned-out peasant houses in the shadow of Nightwick village had recently had some repairs.
  • Exploring further, he and Abraham (armed with Abraham's medical paraphernalia and Istvan's inhuman constitution) found that the house had recently belonged to an alchemist. 
  • A goopy pile of "rot" was found within the lab, and Abraham's supernumeracy allowed him to quickly ascertain that the "pile" contained roughly the same mass as an adult human. The party decided this must have been the alchemist himself, killed by his own experimentations. 
  • They looted what they could from the lab and then set the house aflame, hoping that no miasma would drift towards Nightwick Village.
  • A sudden, freezing rain beset the party and this setback meant that they would arrive in the ruins of Vollage well into the night and exhausted. Kozel, the party's guide, decided the best way to avoid this would be to ride instead for the Witchfort (now retaken).
  • However, when they left the road where they thought the path to the Witchfort should lay, they saw no such path and soon found themselves inside the Witchwood. Greatly alarmed, Kozel decided to redirect the party west, hoping this would land them around the outskirts of the Witchfort.
The Church of St Toad as it Appears... Today...
  • They exited the forest, but much to their surprise it was not at the Witchfort. Instead they found themselves looking on the Hamlet of Vollage - not it's ruins, mind you, but the hamlet as it once was. Alive!*
  • Disturbed by this turn of events, and the lights burning in the windows at such a late hour, the party decided to first visit the Church of St Toad, which lay closest to where they entered the hamlet. 
  • There they saw a number of priests gathered around a man in armor. This man was blessing his weapon before going forth to fight some evil. As soon as he left the candles in the church blew out.
  • Withdrawing their light sources the party could see the temple was now in a great ruined state. A great secret door had swung open revealing a tomb bearing the visage of the man  they saw in armor in the earlier vision.
  • Kozel and Johana discussed using augury and speak with dead to assess certain facts about the village and the corpse. Speak with dead revealed that the man had indeed gone to fight a great enemy, but it was the White Lady, not the Shape. 
  • This led to some discussion of the ability of Armadeus to create "false pasts" which affect the world as though they happened, though it was admittedy by the scholars within the party that none of them quite understood the concept (or had a postive INT bonus).
  • The corpse did know of the Shape, stating that it was an assassin in the service of Armadeus - "one of many but the only one which wears a mask."
  • Augury was then used to determine if the mace he had with him in the tomb could be taken to fight the shape, and soon it was in the hand of Sir Istvan.
The Wanton Wench full of... "life?"
  • Their next target was the inn of the Wanton Wench. They found this full of patrons, including a whole adventuring party!**
  • One of the Howling Kommandos (I don't remember which) noticed that none of the patrons had any glint of life to their eyes. Istvan observed they were "like the dead eyes of a shark."
  • From the barkeep, the party learned that the shape murdered those who passed through the village and took them to the ruined tower that once protected the village. The party knew that this tower had been the scene of horrible starvation - where even the priest in the tomb found earlier that night had perished after participating in cannibalism.
  • At the end of the story about the shape, the lights went out in the Welcome Wench. Lightsources were taken out anew and revealed that all that was left of each patron was their shadow.
  • These struck in rapid succession, but the combined holy might of Kozel and Johanna destroyed nearly all of them. The more martial members of the party took care of the few remaining with their magic weapons, Istvan's new mace proving particularly efficacious.

Showdown with the Shape!***
  • Armed with the information about the tower, the party made the laborious climb up the artificial mound of the old motte. At the top they found the ruined tower - partly collapsed and lacking the recent signs of life found elsewhere in the village.
  • Inside Abraham was able to see a pale mask move within the shadows of the cracks in the stone, and after directing the party towards it he jumped off the stairs to avoid tangling phyiscally with the fiend itself.
  • The Shape was a thing of living shadow, crowned by a great white mask of a face; however, the battle was fairly short, especially due to Istvan's new mace.
  • Upon defeating the Shape, seemingly forever, they rested in the tower and waited until the morning to gather their loot.
Monsters Slain
23 Shadows, The Shape

Treasure Gained
2500cp, 2000sp, 3000gp, glass windows (25gp total), 2 peridots (250gp each), 3 sets of gold vestments (25gp each), 1 copper chalice (25gp), 1 silk handkerchief (25gp), 1 silver ewer (25gp), 1 unidentified mace.

XP Per Player
1505

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Patreon Update: Level 1 Playable!

 

Geomorph 1-1 of Nightwick Abbey. Key available as a free sample.

I'm proud to announce that over at the In Places Deep Patreon we have created a combined document for level 1 and for the player additions to the OSE rules! Now contributors have enough to begin playing their own version of Nightwick. Next month we'll begin with the second level!

I'd like to thank everyone who has contributed so far for their support! 

In other news I have begun work on the deeper levels of Nightwick, which will soon tear both parties to pieces...