Friday, September 30, 2022

Wandering Monster Table

A joke 13 years in the making.

Ornate tables carved with fanciful design and given unnatural life through arcane arts, typically with lions claws for table feet and a set of fangs on a side drawer.

AC 14 (6), HD 4, Attk 2 x claw (1d4), 1 x bite (1d6) THAC0 15 [+4], Move 120' (40'), SV D10 W11 P12 B13 S14 (4), AL Neutral, XP 35, NA 1 (0), TT O, Q

  • Immunity: Unaffected by sleep spells.
  • Magical Origins: Created by powerful wizards.
  • Wanderers: Have no lair. Keep treasure in drawers in own body.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

In Fair Cuccagna - a Pun Delayed

The Wandering Monster Table

The Mute Woman -- A Scheme -- A Scintillating Serpent -- A Companion Lost -- The Fountain -- A Secret Door -- A Terror Out of the Past -- The Room Beyond -- Treasure -- A Compromise -- A Retreat -- A Termination of Contract -- The Golden Sword -- Of Spells

Characters Present
Cristobert 2nd Level Karslish Mountebank [Later in the Session]
Jules Mozarin 1st Level Averois Magician
Maglor 1st Level Changeling
Folavril 1st Level Averois Rogue
Emmelot, 1st level Averois Magician
Bouduin, 1st level Frogling

Hirelings
Baldassare - A cuccagnan magician now apprenticed to Jules
Magdalena - A woman pirate
Zaneta - A woman pirate (eaten by a serpent)
The Mute Woman - A mute linkperson

Events
  • In the Great Wen the party debated which of the new crop of hirelings they were going to pick up, and Jules seemed intrigued by the presence of a mute woman whose services he acquired as a porter. The others were avoided as they wanted shares of treasure and experience instead of a daily wage.
  • Folavril, having heard of the miraculous healing powers of the fountain in Prospero the Blue's manse, quickly came up with a scheme: they would enter the dungeon, retrieve more of the water from the fountain - preferably several doses worth - then demonstrate its effectiveness on the mute woman who was clearly only mute because of the removal of her tongue under mysterious circumstances.
  • The scheme was met with tepid enthusiasm from the rest of the group, who seemed to prefer delving for its own sake and wondered whether the mute woman even wanted her tongue back. For her part she seemed indifferent and, through careful use of gestures, expressed that she saw herself as merely the pawn of fickle fortune and the restoration of her tongue would be the equal of losing it.
  • They again entered by the secret entrance and made their way down the long eastern corridor. Once they found themselves outside the room with the fountain, Maglor spied the strange patterns of a scitalis approaching from the north easterly bend of the corridor.
  • Soon the creature had advanced within the light of the torch, striking more than half of the party with the strange fascination that is the purview of such beasts.
  • It then wrapped itself around Zaneta and began to unhinge its jaw to swallow her. The fighters of the party merely stared dumb-struck while the few magicians tried to figure out a solution.
  • Emmelot used a scroll she had prepared of magic missile to strike the beast, which greatly upset it, and seeing the beast was woundable the mute woman moved to strike it with a wooden scratch plow - her only possession.
  • The creature was bleeding profusely but as it made to retreat - Zaneta still firmly in its mouth - it was decided that the best  course was not to  follow it, even when the fighters regained their senses. And so was Zaneta taken off into the dark never to be seen again.
  • The party was then able to make their way to the fountain unimpeded, and a new waterskin full of the stuff was gathered by Folavril. The rest of the party engaged in a debate of why anyone would keep a single scitalis, much less more than one.
  • They then preceded down the hallway the scitalis had come down, but Maglor's keen senses spotted a secret door they had passed by several times, though only in outline and not the mechanism by which such a thing would open.
  • The party began to search, but as they did so they heard a loud clomping coming from the direction immediately behind them. They turned to face whatever foe now charged them and found a strange thing.
  • It was a Wandering Monster Table* - that is a table imbued with terrible life and given fangs and the ability to ambulate around the dungeon. 
  • Bouduin quickly used his ability to hop to great effect, both hopping onto the table itself and then hopping again to flip it over.
  • The beast... er... table flailed about with its strange, rubbery legs (ending in carved lion's claws of course) but was unable to hit anything. Soon it was dead. Or destroyed. One of those.
  • Beyond the secret door they found an old store room that someone had made a makeshift sleeping area.
  • In the storeroom was a great amount of treasure, quickly found by the efforts of Folavril and Jules. It included coins, fancy objects, books, and a clearly magical sword.
  • They party then debated whether another door exiting the room should be explored or if they should instead quit while they were ahead.** A compromise was made where Jules, the one most fervently for continued exploration, was allowed to examine the door, but not go through it.
  • And so the party exited the dungeon.
  • Back in the Great Wen Magdalena announced that she would no longer be following the party into the dungeon due to the unfortunate fate of Zaneta.
  • Meanwhile, Jules used his read magic spell to read the runes on the sword, which named itself Caliban's Claw.
  • The party wizards then looked over the scroll they had uncovered from within the secret chamber. Jules, Emmelot, and Baldassare tried to add one of the spells - sleep - to their spell book. Emmelot and Baldassare were able to do so, but Jules has yet to comprehend the complexities, much to the amusement of his apprentice.

* I have had this monster on the encounter tables for many years - going all the way back to about 2008 or 2009 - but this is the first time it ever came up as a result. Probably the most appropriate campaign for it too.

** Except for Zaneta

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

In Fair Cuccagna - Wasted on the Young

 

A Dream - Those Half-remembered - The Secret Entrance - A Hall of Great Length - The Fountain - An Arm Restored - A Man Pubescent - The Narrow Theater - A Battle - Cristobert Arrives - The Long Hall Again - A Kitchen - Yellow Mold - Yellow Treasure

Characters Present
Cristobert 2nd Level Karslish Mountebank [Later in the Session]
Jules Mozarin 1st Level Averois Magician
Maglor 1st Level Changeling
Curart Staig 1st Level Karslish Fighter

Hirelings
Maria - a (formerly) one armed man
Baldassare - A cuccagnan magician now apprenticed to Jules
Magdalena and Zaneta - A pair of woman pirates

Events 
  • Cruart awoke from the last day of his convalescence after having a terrible dream. He remembered returning to the Lapis Vaults, challenging the King of the "Monopods"* to single combat, and being slain by him with great ease.
  • Luckily, this was just a dream,** though the wizard Jules Mozarin correctly informed him that it is an omen and should he repeat the actions of the dream he would meet the same fate.
  • This must have been disturbing to Cruart when, heedless of his own warning, Jules Mozarin hired a pair of women pirates despite their presence in Cruart's dream.
  • They also accepted a new full-share member of their party who seemed to have some spiritual connection to the  dream but was quite different: a frogling by the name of Bouduin whose armor and high dexterity made him a prime candidate for the front rank.
  • They took the wormship to the isle of Prospero the Blue and soon decided to enter by the secret door - again much to Cruart's distress.
  • Luckily the dream-born doom was thwarted when, instead of turning in the direction of the "pseudopods,"*** they turned down a long tunnel which took them far away from the lair of those creatures.
  • Instead it took them to a room with a strange fountain. Experimentation with a 10' pool showed that it turned part of the pole into fresh, green wood.
  • Eventually Maria was convinced to try drinking the water and soon found himself apparently 10 years younger and with a brand new arm ripping through the seams of his old shirt. Maria seemed pleased so the party was as well.
  • Some discussion was had as to whether anyone else should drink from the fountain, and eventually Cruart decided to take a drink. He found that he too was de-aged, but to a much more extreme degree than Maria. It left him a few hit points fewer and about 14 years in apparent age.
  • Jules, deciding this that despite the apparent gamble involved in drinking it, decided to fill a water skin with water from the fountain in case they should need healing in the future.
  • Leaving this room, the party then continued along the long corridor where they found a second door. Exploring this chamber they found it was a long, narrow theater with glass statues for players. The statues possessed faces in the form of tragedy masks. Their arms were quite articulate but their legs had been sculpted into the form of a diaphanous robe and therefore had limited articulation.
  • The glass players sprung into hideous action, moving to attack the party. The party backed into the long hallway, pulling some of the seats with them to block the doorway. A fight ensued with clever use of the seats to knock over several of the statues, making them unable to get up, and then lighting them on fire and pouring water on them.
  • During this fight Christobert, who had not joined the party in the Great Wen, arrived - having seemingly been exploring the dungeon alone.
  • The theater seemed absent of treasure so they turned again to the long hall.
  • They passed by a set of stairs descending down to unknown depths and instead explored a chamber which seemed to be a kitchen.
  • The kitchen seemed largely covered in yellow mold. Jules burned up some of the yellow substance with a "firelance of the ancient hyperzephyrians."****
  • Near the area that had been cleared they found a crate containing a large amount of saffron. Luckily this was still-stem intact so they did not confuse it for yellow mold. They wondered if what they had just burned was itself the spice in its powder form, but not willing to risk interacting with the remainder of the substance they decided to leave the dungeon with their treasure.
Monsters Defeated
6 Glass Statues 

Treasure Gained
A crate of saffron (500gp)

Xp Per Player
244

* They are actually not true monopods, as they lack the giant feet and their single leg is often off center.

** We ran a session I did not report but technical errors made me very angry about Foundry and so my adjudication of that earlier instance was taken to be tainted. With the ascent of the majority of the group Cruart was saved from death.

*** As Maglor dubbed them.

**** Torch tied to a 10' pole

Monday, September 19, 2022

Gods of Asterion

Before the founding of Asterion along the shores of the Inner Sea, the Aramites of the city which stood on the same shores worshipped a trio of goddesses: Manat, Al-Uzza, and Al-Lat. In the years after the sons of Orontes came and set the walls of Asterion upon the old city they maintained the worship of these three and had only small shrines to the gods of Ilion.

Manat - Aramite goddess who doles out dooms* upon men, affording them their portions of life and death, fortune and misery, pain and ecstasy. A temple to her may still be found in the desert town of Olizon, to the south of Asterion.

Al-Uzza - Aramite goddess who sunders the veil which prevents us from sight, granting access to visions of other places and other places in time.

Al-Lat - Mistress of the moon and binder of stirrer eddies the hearts of men and women.

Then the satrap Ajaxos came to dwell in Asterion, and due to his ailment - a mystery to all the healers and philosophers of Ilion and Yavana - through out the goddesses and set up for himself new temples to gods from his homeland.

Hyperion - Giver of the light of science to the sons of Orontes. His priests are aesthetics who eat only seeds and who drink only water purified in strange tanks made in some time out of time by those who first knew Hyperion's light. They dwell on the abstract mathematics which bind the universe together and which drive all things in mechanical certainty, or so they say.

Iapetus - Psychopomp and knower of ways. He was the first being to die and it is through him that men may know the way to the underworld, and perhaps eventually transmigrate back to the world of the living and dwell again upon it. He also guards travelers upon the earth.

The Aramites in Asterion venerate him as Japheth, who they claim was a man before his descent into the underworld. Their rites to him are strange to the Ilionians, but they claim they predate the worship of Iapetus by centuries.

Koios - Ponderer, searcher, striker with visions. Koios like Al-Uzza shows that which has not yet come to pass. He is also a blinder, and his punishments turn men catatonic. He is fond of brooding and requires libations and doles them out to his friends as well.

There are gods beyond Asterion which still influence the people within.

Abzu - Aramite god who dwells beneath the ocean deaths. His temple was set in the mangroves near the city but has since been abandoned by man.

Dead Gods - There are many gods of the people who lived in Yavana before even the Aramites. Their names and natures are unknown to the Ilionians but they still may have puissant dooms** to distribute on those that violate their abandoned fanes.

The Saurian Gods - Gods of the beings who lived even before the coming of the Men of Gold. There are tombs where their idols still stand and it is said the worship of them is maintained among the Iguana-people and the Gorilla-people


*In the original sense. Judgements.

**In the normal sense. Bad stuff.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

In Fair Cuccagna - All that Glitters


A Proof of Puissance - Of Pirates and Shares - A Debate of Doors - A Body Found - Magic Mouth Again - On Mapping - An Old Room - On the Languages of Twins - A Grand Hall Without a Puzzle - The Fickle Fate of Dogheads and Pirates - Cracks in Reality and Cracks in Walls - A King of Piss - Finding Loot - Labor - Another Hook for the Same Fish

Characters Present
Cristobert 1st (now 2nd) Level Karslish Mountebank
Jules Mozarin 1st Level Averois Magician
Craveel the Craven 1st Level Zenopolitan Fighter
Folavril 1st Level Averois Rogue
Gax-exiled-from-his-own-council Smythe 1st level Karslish Cleric

Hirelings
Maria - a one armed man in search of his complimentary one armed friend.
Baldassare - A cuccagnan magician now apprenticed to Jules
Agostino and Pietro-paolo - Two (deceased) pirates
Giacomo - A pirate still possessing his life

Events
  • The session began in the Prince Dauphin/King Fish with Jules Mozarin asking his potential apprentice the nature of his foreign spell - The Importunate Insult. Baldassare merely answered with a gesture of a wand and soon Jules found himself overcome by the desire to kill his opponent. However the effect was over in an instant and Jules, laughing, agreed to hire the young magician, offering to give him one half of his own share.
  • The party then began to debate a trio of pirates who wished to split a share between them but offered to serve as toughs and bodyguards. It was eventually decided that the dungeon is dangerous enough to warrant the use of such ruffians even at the increased cost, and Cristobert professed a hope that they would all die in the upcoming outing.
  • They then took the worm-ship again to Prospero the Blue's manse. Outside they debated whether to again go by the secret entrance or the main entrance into the squat blue tower. Without their mapper they were unsure how near the secret entrance the land of the pseudomonopods lay.
  • Soon one of the company noted some figure placed near the secret entrance that did not appear to be one of the strangely realistic statues. Soon it was discovered this was Testus, who earlier lost his life to the pseudomonopods. He had been strung up on a set of small boards, perhaps to serve as a warning against further trespass.
  • Gax-exiled-from-his-own-council moved to get the body so it could be removed a bit and await a proper burial. He asked the priates to fan out and protect him but also carefully watched their reactions at seeing their reactions to a hireling being found in such a fashion. They seemed somewhat at ease with such violent ends. They were pirates, after all.
  • There was a brief discussion of just what a "monopod" was, as Gax-exiled-from-his-own-council had not encountered the creatures. It was agreed that the party generally also had yet to encounter true monopods, due to the smallness of foot of those within the dungeon.
  • This sign was taken to mean that the secret door was indeed near the pseudomonopods and therefore they headed south through the stout tower. Progress was slowed somewhat by Jules taking up mapping - the absence of their earlier mapper having shown the group the necessity of multiple copies.
  • It was decided that they would hug the southern wall of the great room which contained the Magic Mouth in the hopes it would not trigger. Unfortunately it was found that their proposed destination - a large hall they had passed by a few times in the outing before last - could not be gained without crossing the magical threshold.
  • The mouth made its pronouncement ("I can't come to the door right now...") but no creatures came ot molest the party.
  • Passing up a nearby hall they found a door that they only vaguely remembered from previous exploration. A debate began about whether or not it should be opened with Jules ultimately arguing it should be since it would help complete the map and could not contain too large an area due to the fact that it lay between their current location and the exterior.
  • Beyond they found a t-intersection and took the path south. There they found a small room used for firing arrows at trespassers. They had been here before, as was indicated by the empty arrow barrel and empty weapon racks; however, it confirmed Jules suspicion and also meant they had yet to pass through the north door of the intersection.
  • Folavril listened at this door and heard many creatures clicking and warbling in some private language unknown to the outside world though clearly perhaps derivative of some earthly tongue.
  • Some debate was had over whether or not this door should be opened. Ultimately this course of action was decided against and they left to go investigate the hall that had been their first target.
  • And soon they found it - colonnaded and lined with braziers. Folavril lit all the braziers but seemingly this provided no effect outside of lighting. The room was dominated by two thrones, both broken. One seemed to have been smitten with some sort of great heat, with charred marks along its cracked face. The other had been destroyed by the traditional action of blunt force.
  • One of the members of the party began to look through the rubble which attracted the attention of a number of toy dogheads from a nearby room. At first the dogheads seemed happy to see the party, as a few were recognizable to those that had previously fought alongside them against slimes. They were given a great number of rations and asked about nearby rooms.
  • Unable to speak except in a yipping bark, they led the party into the room from which they had come. This was a guard room but also held treasure - a pile of platinum pieces and zircon cabachons. The eyes of the party became as the orbs of Valax, such was their avarice, and they concocted a plan seemingly wordlessly to separate the miniature dogheads from their treasure.
  • Gax-exiled-from-his-own-council lifted a staff he carried and asked "do you like fetch?" The dogheads responded only with confusion. Hoping his plan would still work, he attempted to throw the staff back into the hall so that they would race off, giving Cristobert and Folavril time to work their roguish arts.
  • Unfortunately all he succeeded in doing was smacking one of the little dogheads in the face, which greatly angered them and moved them to violence. Jules shut the door hoping to contain the anger to only those dogheads in the room with them, but the struggle soon involved both groups.
  • The dogheads were overcome but not without the deaths of two of the pirates. Some of the party expressed dismay that such cute creatures had to die, but even those that did found their relentless onslaught annoying.
  • Giacomo, now bereft of his two companions, agreed to continue to serve as the front line but only if their bodies would later be brought outside and given burial rights. Gax-exiled-from-his-own-council agreed.
  • They then bound up a number of the weapons - short swords and spears - that were set for the doghead guards in this guard chamber and made their way back into the hall.
  • At the edge of the great hall was either a set of alcoves or passages, and the party decided the exploration of these should be their next priority. They found that they were passages, both extending off greater than their torchlight could illuminate.
  • Cristobert, ever watchful for traps and other mechanical devices, noticed a strange fracture in the door that at first made him feel as though he could see through the very wall. This later turned out to be a secret door and the party made ready to open it.
  • Beyond the door was a once ornately appointed bedchamber, now largely burnt. A strange creature made of various animal parts placed roughly in human shape - much like the lost souls of the infamous Nightwick Abbey - stood before the bed micturating. He wore not but a cape and did not seek to hide the nakedness of his form.
  • The party interrogated him some and learned that 1) he believed Prospero the Blue to be dead and Prospero the Purple to have "taken his color" 2) the manse was a place of arrogance and folly where a pretender sought to make himself king and that 3) he was the true king of the island.
  • For this strange meeting the party dubbed him "the Piss King." They decided they wanted to loot the room and were not going to let some weirdo who "pees where he sleeps" further ruin their treasure. Cristobert attempted to strike him with a shot of his bow but found it bounced off his hide as if it struck granite.
  • This did not deter the party, for they had magic weapons they believed would be sovereign against such a creature. Craveel and Folavril quickly rushed in with Sharp and Witchslayer. Gax-exiled-from-his-own-council followed after and attempted to aid them by pushing over the creature. Cristobert entered in an attempt to see if any treasure was obvious. He saw something glittering under the bed.
  • Soon the piss king's life was ended, his last act was to call out for his mother.
  • The treasure under the bed included a great deal of coinage (only some of which had been marred by the waste of the piss king) and a jeweled torque. The party fished the coins out with various implements to avoid polluting their hands and then had the hirelings carry the coins which were wet.
  • This they decided was a good enough haul to leave the dungeon with and so they did, stopping only to retrieve the bodies of Agostino and Pietro-paolo.
  • Back at the Great Wen the bulk of the party practiced their day jobs - Craveel served as a smith, Jules as a scribe, Cristobert as a lookout, and Gax-exiled-from-his-own-council as a street preacher. 
  • Folavril, for his part, decided instead to gain rumors about "a place that would be easy to rob. Unfortunately he only heard about the opposite. Three bravos it seems had recently set out to rob the infamous House of the Gnoles, but none of them had returned to speak of it.
Monsters Defeated
13 Toy Dogheads, 1 Piss King

Treasure Gained
10 zircon cabochons (50gp each), 50pp, 1000gp, 5143cp, jeweled torque (500gp), a warped nightstand, 5 spears, 5 short swords

XP Per Player
587

Friday, August 12, 2022

Scitalis

 

A scitalis is a strange form of serpent found only on Cuccagna and its outlying islands. Whether it is the creation of some mad wizard - perhaps Prospero himself - or a relatively natural creature of the World of Nightwick is unknown to scholars. Some scant few believe that it is the descendent of normal serpents who have been warped for centuries by the weird magics of Cuccagna, though most agree that the magicians who inhabit the island have not done so for so long.

It appears as a serpent with a pair of vestigial wings and two stunted limbs, neither of which aid it in locomotion. Its head is rather like that of a normal serpent, but it sports two protrusions that look rather like the clipped ears of a fighting dog. In life its scales are pulsing and scintillating, forever creating new patterns across its opalescent hide. In death they maintain their iridescence but lose all sense of motion. 

Scholars of Cuccagna say that the mesmeric effect of the scales is created by a combination of their strange alchemical makeup and the creature's extreme body heat. The source of this heat, whether organ or stone swallowed in youth, has yet to be found.

AC 15 (4), HD 3, Attk 1 Bite (1d4 + Constrict), THAC0 16 [+3], MV 90' (30'), SV D10 W11 P12 B13 S14 (3) AL Neutral XP 30 NA 1 (1d6), TT U

  • Brilliance: Anyone looking at the scitalis must save vs spells or become hypnotized until they can no longer see the scitalis (including if it dies) or until the victim is constricted. Victims stand still, simply gazing at the scitalis. 
  • Averting Eyes: -4 penalty to hit. The scitalis gets a +2 bonus to attack.
  • Constrict: 2d6 Automatic damage each successive round after a successful bite attack.
  • Body Heat: If either damage die for Constrict rolls a 6, the victim must make a save vs breath or lose all flammable items.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

In Fair Cuccagna (Session 3)

True Monopods, not encountered during this session

Buying Clown Shoes - Blood on the Ground - Debating the Path - Awaiting the King - Monopod Massacre

Characters Present
Cristobert 1st Level Karslish Mountebank
Cruart Staig 1st Level Karslish Fighter
Jules Mozarin 1st Level Averois Magician
Craveel the Craven 1st Level Averois[?] Fighter

Hirelings
Homobon aka Hambone - linkboy turned man at arms (deceased)
Maria and Marco - complimentary one-armed porters (fled to parts unknown)
Testus - Man at arms (deceased before his deal could be sused)

Events

  • Remembering the missive from the "King of the Monopods" that they must only return when they had something of value to the monopods, the party purchased 15 pairs of clown shoes, hoping that their prosthetic bigness would easy the dysmorphia spoken of by those proto-monopods of the Lapis Vaults.
  • They then purchased the services of a new man-at-arms, named Testus and purchased a polearm and armor for young Homobon, recently elated to receive the nickname Hambone.
  • Arriving by wormship they again made their way up the beach and through the gardens towards the Lapis Vaults.
  • They spied that something had moved the corpse of the cyclops they had slain last week, and hypothesized this to either be an enormous creature or a large number of little creatures (such as the toy dogheads).
  • They then debated whether to follow the blood - which most agreed would lead to an early grave - or through the secret entrance. Being without their mapper from last week* they had some discussion about whether or not this was the nearest to their desired destination - the "kingdom" of "monopods."
  • Entering through the secret entrance they had some doubts about their way but eventually landed on the correct door.
  • Beyond the door they found a number of proto-monopod guards on edge, but at least one of the guards was relieved to see Cruart's face.
  • He then left to go fetch the "King of the Monopods." Upon his majesty's arrival, Cruart dumps the clown shoes at their feet declaring they had brought something of value.
  • Unfortunately the party miscalculated. The King of the Monopods does not title himself the King of the Protomonopods and is rather deluded as to the size of his feet. A reaction roll determined his response: immediate attack!
  • "Kill them!" he shouted and his body guard rushed forward. The regular guards fled to rooms beyond as yet unexplored.
  • The ensuing battle saw all of the body guards fall but also saw the death of Testus, Homobon, and the second severe wounding of Cruart Staig. The king was wounded and fled to chambers beyond but the guards returned to try to drive the party out of the kingdom. Craveel rushes to close the door.
  • Jules rushed forward to patch Cruart up, but signs of monopods flanking from the side - evidently alerted by the guards - forced the party to flee through the secret entrance, Jules and Cristobert carrying Cruart together.
  • This handicap meant the monopods had the potential to gain on them quickly, and for a bit it looked quite close, especially since Marco and Maria broke into a full run and fled from the site of the party. Their whereabouts are still unknown.
  • The party did manage to make it to daylight where the protomonopods broke off the chase.
  • From there they limped back to the wormship and returned to the Great Wen.
Monsters Slain
3 protomonopod bodyguards

Treasure Gained
None

XP Per Player
75


* I use Foundry's lighting system but not its reveal fog feature. Given the complicated maps I use for dungeons mapping is still required to be able to find your way.