Monday, February 23, 2009

Why huge battles are bad

We last played Kalamar on January 25th, so it's only been a month since we last played this game.

The group continued east, after having killed the nomadic worshipers of the Emperor of Scorn and resting for the night.

By mid afternoon, the group of adventurers and their guides saw amongst the hills squarish shapes which they presumed to be buildings. Once they got closer, they saw what appeared to be a small village. They could hear several voices which were talking with each other, and several humanoid shapes walking around.

Once they got close, however, they saw that the humanoids were not exactly friendly. More than two dozen gnolls in armor were in the village. Some were lying on the ground, and some seemed to be deathly ill. Upon seeing the group, a few of the gnolls prepared to defend themselves while others pressed the attack.

Everyone ran for cover behind buildings, behind the well in the center of the village, or behind their less fortunate comrades. Jelena, quick with her bow began shooting gnolls that didn't make it to cover in time. Darwin followed up with a spell that covered the ground in front of the group with a slippery substance.

Gnolls began returning fire with their short bows, while some began circling around, hoping to catch the group unawares.

A group of gnolls was lucky to approach Raizix and one gave him a sound thrashing with his battle axe, and Jelena took an arrow to her leg but both were able to continue fighting. Darwin continued casting spells into the gnolls as well as using his bow. Ember cast a few spells, but mainly used her scimitar.

At one point, it seemed uncertain of the gnolls would press the attack. A few ran up from behind their cover, only to be cut down. The remaining ones fled, leaving their fighting companions behind. When only one remained, he said, "You have bested me. Allow me to die with honor."

Raizix commanded him to drop his weapons, which he did. Raizix then questioned him. It turned out that the gnolls had been brought there by the Witch Lady, and told to attack the group. They were not well prepared for the climate, and after drinking the water in the well, several became sick with a terrible plague. It seems that the wizard Daresh continues to try to stop them indirectly. After questioning him, Ember stabs him in the heart with her dagger, where he dies instantly.

DM Note: I didn't care for this encounter, mainly because it used numbers instead of strength. Throwing several weak creatures at a group of this level is usually ineffective because the only chance they have to hit is with a critical, or nearly so. I tried to play them in a tactical manner, where they could hide behind terrain until they could swarm up. It's also hard to keep track of 30 monsters and all of their hit points. In retrospect, I think I would have replaced the gnolls with less of something stronger, perhaps five or six gnolls with class levels.

Grand Melee

Monday, February 16, 2009

Where Jade proves she is the (rightful) owner of Vagan's Hook.

The last time we played Palladium Fantasy was October 2008, about 4 months ago. Where does time go?

Atlas the warlock had recently joined our group, and had lead us to a cometary where we had unearthed a large weapon of some sort.

The headstone was originally written in Dwarven. Recently written however, in Elven, were the words "Vagan's Fall" Melkior had recalled that Vagan was a dwarf from the Elf-Dwarf war who was known for his prowess in using and creating rune weapons.

Melkior, holding the item in his hand, could make out the outline of a weapon, similar to a pole-arm. While holding it with one hand, he unwrapped it with the other. It became immediately clear that this was indeed a rune weapon, probably dating from the Elf-Dwarf war, if not proior, considering that the secrets of making rune weapons were lost at that time.

"O great and powerful entity," begins Melkior, addressing the rune weapon directly, "I am Melkior, Paladin of Isis. We have come here by chance circumstance, and do not wish to disturb you. We shall return you to your resting place or wherever you desire. We only wish to assist you. Do not be offended while I attempt to communicate with you." With that, Melkior touches the weapon directly.

Put me down,
says the weapon telepathically directly into Melkior's mind. Immediately, the weapon gains considerable weight and sinks into the ground, blade first. "It, I mean he, wanted to be put down," offers Melkior by way of explanation. He then backs away, removing the rest of the cloth from the weapon.

"Well, perhaps he isn't so impressed with me. Perhaps he would be more inclined to your femine charms, mistress Jade. Or for that matter, he might not like elves at all," says Melkior, while looking at Atlas.

Atlas approaches the weapon, and rests his hand upon it. "Who may wield such a great and terrible weapon such as you?" My owner. "Who is your owner?" A sense of confusion comes over Atlas. I haven't met them yet. "How can someone become your owner?" Defeat my owner in mortal combat.

With that, Atlas shrugs and backs away. "It doesn't know who it's owner is. I think it will know who it's owner is when it meets them though."

Terra the wizard then approaches. "Where is your owner?" There is no response. Terra attempts to read the runes on the weapon, but is overcome by their complexity.

Jade walks up to the sword and rests her hand on its pommel. Jade thinks to herself internally, 'Who's your owner?" There is no response. "Fine. I'm your owner." With that, she lifts the weapon out of the ground easily, resting it on her shoulder as if it weighed a couple of pounds.

With that, they leave the cemetary-like area and return to the small valley with the lake. Melkior says "I don't think we have learned all we can here. I'm going to take a look at the lake." Atlas and Terra, having already looked at it, don't have any desire too, and Jade is too cautious to risk it. Melkior, looking again at the stone slabs serving as seats, finds a suitable unobstruced view and sits down.

After a few seconds, he is filled with a sense of contentment, but also of sadness. He sees images from his past, of which there is much to be sad about. Undead hordes killing innocent villagers. The near destruction of his ancestral home, and loss and unknown whereabouts of his family. The death of his cousin Tobin. The gruesome execution of the king of Talsu.

He is shaken from his reverie by Atlas. "We better get going. It's getting late. It seems time passes faster here. See the sun? I'd say you were here for a few minutes, but it seems several hours have passed." Melkior walks up to the lake, pours out a vial of holy water and fills it with lake water, thinking that it warrants further study.

"Let's return to the doorway. It's the only shelter we have found or seen. Perhaps we can get out of here, wherever here is," says Terra. An eerie feeling comes around everyone, and Melkior grabs his crossbow and loads a bolt.

The group then leaves the lake, and heads back into the forest, following a game trail back towards the doorway. As soon as they leave the vicinity of the lake and valley, they hear what seems to be laughing, such as a hyena would make, but far more regular. Terra begins running ahead, with Jade and Atlas following closely behind. Melkior, brings up the rear, and glances behind him to see if anything is following.

Darkness quickly descends, even unnaturally so. The path, while seeming well used, does not appear familiar, and the sounds have increased in intensity and frequency. Melkior thinks he sees something behind him, indistict and dark. He shouts out a challenge "Halt! Identify yourself or I'll shoot!"

All the sound cease, and are replaced by an eerie and complete silence. Atlas and Terra feel uneasy, and Terra insists they keep moving. Melkior shoots his crossbow, but quickly looses sight of the bolt.

Melkior then puts the crossbow back on his back and draws his spear, preparing to charge the indistinct monstrosity. He gathers up his strength, and calls upon Isis to give him aid against this demonic beast, whatever it may be. He charges forward, running as fast as possible in his armor, with the spear held firmly at his side. He glances forward and is overcome by the horror of what is before him.

The path that lays beyond the thing has been unnaturally stretched. Where the path was a narrow game trail, there is now a wide, clear path. An unnatural face attached to an elongated body that extends behind it towers above Melkior. He falls to his knees, and drops the spear. Just at that moment, a fireball flies through the air above his head, and hits the thing squarely in the chest, appearing to injure it in some way.

Terra cast a spell to light the area, and moved it closer to the unknown thing, but was unable to illuminate it in any meaningful fashion, so she lights a torch and throws it toward the area that Melkior is at.

Jade takes Vagan's Hook in hand and begins running towards Melkior and the darkness in front of him. Melkior waits for Jade to approach while drawing his own two handed battle axe. He timed the approach of Jade, and they both attack the thing at the same time. It reels back from the double blow of magical and divine energy, but looks ready to attack.

Luckily, during this time Atlas had called on his ties to fire and was summoning balls of fire in quick succession. The monstrosity was too concerned with dodging the fire then attacking, leaving Jade and Melkior unmolested for now.

We ended there in the midst of combat, not knowing the intentions or true nature of what we were confronting.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Palladium Fantasy and Puppy Sitting this Weekend

Well, we haven't gamed for a couple of weeks, but it looks like we'll be playing Palladium Fantasy on Friday.

Last night I had some friends over and we watched Dark Knight. It was pretty good. After having watched Batman Begins recently, I think they flowed together very well. I might incorporate some of the technology and personalities into my RIFTS game, but I'll have to think about it some more.

On Sunday, instead of gaming D&D 3.5, Beth and I will be puppy sitting Morgan. On Saturday, we'll be going over to Grandma's for Valentine's dinner and Scrabble, which will be fun. On Sunday morning we'll be going to IKEA for free breakfast and to pick up a few odds and ends.

Our digital camera has pretty much died since it doesn't focus. I picked up a new digital camera for Beth yesterday on the way home from work, so I hope to have better pictures on here soon. It's a kind of 'Happy Graduation' gift since she officially has her Masters in Psychology now. Now she has to get three thousand hours in within six years to get her Marriage and Family Therapy license.