Friday, June 30, 2023

Dubzaron Session 98: Return to Glenda's (except they don't return to Glenda's)

This is another guest DMed session; this time played on 02/18/23. Yes I am very far behind on these reports which is why I'm dropping another one just a day later. Also, this is the exact same group of PCs that DM JB was the ref for in session 97. Enjoy! -DM Dubs

Timekeeping:

2/19: party rests 
2/20: travel to 31.34, elf family visit, panther evades party, camp hex 33.33 
2/21: find cliff face lair 34.32, reach 37.30, fight stirges, delve 
2/22: travel back, evade hobgoblins in hex 36.31 
2/23: arrive in Spen One more day of travel allowed before rest is required. 

I was surprised this particular group of PC's wished to return to the hex 37.30 dungeon for a third visit. I believe there's an element of "let's finish this" combined with "it wasn't so hard last time." Travel was notable for encountering an elf NPC (on business with dwarves, he said) who was a little rude. Instead of beating him up they figured out where he lived and had a pleasant meal with his family. (Delayed and veiled threat.) Also notable, the party discovered a cliffside lair (from above) with absolutely massive stone doors, but elected not to explore it. When they reached the hex where the destination dungeon was located, they took the same path which last time went past a lair of stirges in a hollowed out tree. 

This time they slaughtered the striges before proceeding to the dungeon. This dungeon is located at a local microgeography mountain valley desert (inside a broader plains hex) with three stone heads on a cliff above an open sandy floor. They approached through a safer alternative route discovered on the very first delve. This time they noticed a precarious rope ladder leading up to the middle stone head's open mouth. This they climbed. Inside they encountered a warband of gnolls in a large sandy room. Bloody combat followed. Heavy sand inhibited charges. Delcros was downed in the melee and most of the party took serious damage. I limited the amount of focus fire available on both sides with threater-of-mind combat confusion, but allowed fairly easy cover for backstabs when backs were turned and attention tunnel-focused on immediate enemies. Silas the assassin benefitted, which ruined the element of surprise for George's backstab. I also feel that enemies who don't strike downed enemies is unrealistic and unstrategic when gm-controlled enemies fight on the same initiative and restore-life-and-limb scrolls are afforable. To this end the chiefton scored a hit on the fallen Delcros bringing him to an unrecoverable -15 hp.

I'll skip the room-by-room recounting of events in favor of significant actions. The party followed tracks in the dungeon (hoping to find the blond evil elf) and discovered how this entrance connected to the left stone head entrance. The tracks lead outside to a rocky protrusion behind the stone heads but they didn't investigate it very long. They reentered, skipped the healing pool room despite damage, and found a broken eye statue (carefully approached by George), a key, and a chest. The key not did fit the chest. Everyone in this campaign is weary of trapped chests, and this one was no different. Inside they found a map (drawn, not described) which they did their best to decipher. 

In another room they came upon a treasure hoard as well as a giant lizard which George failed to impress with his wildman call. Not long after this they left the dungeon. The party's choices were largely driven by the tension between (A) tracking down the elf wizard now that they had a party of badasses and (B) looking for loot in what they guessed to be an empty dungeon. 

There was some discussion about deciphering the map but that conversation was inconclusive. There was another conversation about the conundrum of splitting the treasure value 50/50 with Daria/Iannavale when most of the value was tied up in magic items. On the way home the party evaded a large group of hobgoblins and then encountered two easily defeated caelians for the biggest score of the night. 

Takeaways: there's a kind of language a dungeon designer speaks when he wants players to find something interesting or worth investigating. There's also an economy of motivation modulated by hit point loss, treasure finds, and to a lesser extent, unresolved but clearly presented mysteries. The PC's lost interest in this dungeon and I have lots of ideas how to create one that yeilds more return visits. It was a very interesting night for me and I believe the players had fun. 

Grading Silas, E George, E Brolly, E Tuck, E Guvnor, E Neutralio, E

 GM: B The sand fight was well presented and made use of environmental details to change the overall feel. However, I never asked myself whether the gnolls would guard the rope ladder entrance. I handled the caeilian reaction poorly. Their reaction was "indifferent" so they should not have moved towards the party at all, but rather fled to underground tunnels, even if they weren't eligible to evade. I think I could have presented the details of the dungeon so it would be more interesting, but this is something learned by experience.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Dubzaron Session 97: More Gnolls

Well hello! It's me, DM Dubs. I have returned to post session reports even though I did not DM this session. This was another session by DM JB. You may notice that the last session report was Session 94. This is one reason I've been slow to drop more session reports. I was trying to figure out what happened in Session 95 and 96. But I couldn't do it! I don't know who DMed these or what happened. I think I was a PC in one as Liano the Elven Enchanter and we convinced Jerry "The King" Lawler to pay us way too much cash to go patrol around the sewers under Dubzaron. But that could have been another session. Who knows! Not me! Let this be a lesson to you: keep good session reports! 

I am thankful for my Co-DMs while I am on a DM hiatus but do hope they will make better reports in the future. Below is a fine session report by DM JB of which I was NOT a pc. I enjoyed reading about their crazy adventures and wild capers. I'm sure you will as well. I believe this session was played on 02/17/23. 

-DM Dubs 06/29/23

PCs present:

gnoll
Tuck - barbarian  


Neutralio - fighter

Brolly - explorer

Jeev - henchmen venturer

George - beastermaster

Delros - barbarian

Silas - assassin

Wolf - henchmen

Dubs continues to be on hiatus so others step forward to run sessions, myself among them. I had 2-3 things to run this evening. One old, 1-2 new. The players were based out of Spen and opted to return to the dungeon I ran last time, way out in hex 37.30. That may not mean much to you but to the players that means a two day journey east past the protection of the Auran Empire.

For starters I must note to myself to keep better records of what happened in the session.

I didn't think the players had a great time in the previous delve so I was motivated to have new stuff available. Therefore, I was surprised when the players decided the revisit the gnoll encampment and their elf wizard leader. Never underestimated the psychological pull of revenge!

Generally, monsters don't camp out the approach areas to dungeons ready to ambush players. That's more of a fortress thing. So it seemed reasonable they would be vulerable to attack, especially since it was an uncleared hex. It was something like nine days since the previous delve, so while the players discussed their plans, I made wandering monster checks against the camping gnolls. Two hits, some horses (I skipped that) and some angry bees. Props to ACKs for it's easy to resolve BR combat mechanics. 17 angry bees versus 10 gnolls. The gnolls should have won but the bees got really good rolls. I changed the scale so each side counted as more than one unit, and 8 bees survived.

The players overland traveled to the site, more or less knowing way. They traveled through a friendly dwarf hex and also encountered a lair of giant pill bug looking things. I forget what they were and forgot to write it down. My bad. The players avoided the bugs and moved on.

There were some other encounters as well. On the bridge leaving Spen they met a cleric but he wasn't quite friendly enough to hire. At some points they also encountered some giant spider creatures. I can barely remember.

They reached the destination hex (remember they had a map to lead them there) and already knew an alternate route to the gnoll camp so they took that route. Nevertheless, there was a random encounter as they traveled and lo and behold - it was either giant bees or a giant spider. I think it was bees. The insects were surprised and the players moved on.

Skipping the open approach to the gnoll camp the players came up from the southern cliff area which allows approach without being subject to long-range missile fire. Silas the assassin performed admirable sneak-and-peek manuevers and spotted... BEES... coming and going from the open-mouth stone-head dungeon entrance and one of the gnoll tents. I tried to be coy about it but the beastmaster identified the creatures and that was that.

Oddly, the player never opened the tent flap. I suppose they were concerned about waking sleeping gnolls. Anyway, asertaining the threat they formed a forward line and charged with one group and fired arrows with another. Nuetralio cleaved through most of the bees in the first round and whole business ended fairly quickly. The session was quite different in flavor because the players brought heavier hitters with them. (edited)

The players entered the mouth and discovered where the bees had been eating the gnolls. One of the players adjusted his nerd glasses and informed me that GIANT KILLER BEES are herbavorous. Yeah, ok buddy.

Upon entered the stone first room the players encountered a column / statue / construct with a giant single eye that lit up and immediately tried to fry them with a laser beem. If I recall correctly Nuetralio was able to charge it despite a floor-moutned sconse (reach weapon ftw) and the party destoyed it in the opening round.

They searched around the first room and figured out how to unlock a locked door, sort of by accidenet. They entered a water pool room with a timeless kind of angelic matronly healing character speaking to them in ancient Nobiran. They players sussed out this was a place they could get some healing.

On the way out they encountered some cave dwellers who were friendly enough. They offered mutual food. For some reason the players refused the offer of uncooked, rotting meat. (Will this affect the beastmaster's grade?) They offered hard tack which broke of the teeth of the cave dwellers. The players showed their new friends the rotting gnoll bodies found in the mouth entrance and that got them out of their hair.

The players did some more exploring, some more attempts at tracking and largely ascertained this area remained unvisited for a long time. Eventually they encountered another eye statue and this time it's laser beam brough Nuetralio to 1 HP. (Who says you need "balanced encounters" to have balanced encounters?) They healed him at the secret fairy healing water room and continued the delve.

The next room had a giant, giant chest. The players have become rightly afraid of booby trapped chests. I had fun with Silas. "You open the chest. You heard it snap open, spring loaded. You heard a click. [audible sigh from the players] It holds itself open."

Inside they found a lantern (magic?) and some treasure - a paltry amount, to be sure, but there was a magic shield.

This is about when the players called it a night. On the way out, they met some kobolds who demanded payment and they gave in.

If there were encounters on the way back I forget.

Grading. I'd prefer grading to be a little tougher but I've got to stay within the precedent set by the lead GM. I am concerned my barbarians are not playing savage enough. I'm watching you! If I docked the whole party for not fighting the kobolds we'd be playing 5E, so forget that.

Tuck - barbarian, E (fought well)

Neutralio - fighter, E+ (excellent damage output and risk taking)

Brolly - explorer, E (kept the party out of danger on the road)

George - beastmaster E (used magic sling for good effect and identified the killer bees... must be one of those newage beastmasters that doesn't eat raw meat)

Delros - barbarian, E (risked trap danger to open chest)

Silas - assassin E+ (used infiltration tactics when appropriate)

GM grade: B. Good call making up lore on the spot and good call rolling random encounters for the gnoll gaurds / maintaining a living dungeon. Didn't roll all the hit points for the first gaurd statue. Didn't kill any of the PCs. (edited)

February 19, 2023

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Midsommar Nights Campaign Event

Updated on 06/23/23 at 11:40 est. Notes added to Weirding Time Section and the initiation of violence. Also "Dungeon Delving". And Domain Encounters.

Near the end of May: The Man From Another Place began haunting the dreams of madmen, druids, soothsayers, and spinsters with warnings (threats?) of some upcoming actions he may be taking on Midsommer. 

"Brovenloft is lost to me, for now!" he cackled in backwards talk, "but Dubzaron is not! Midsummer Nights eve approaches and so does the doom for man! Things which were will be no longer. See you again in 29 days!"

What could it mean? In true Lynchian fashion I refused to elaborate. Until now!

The Dubzaron campaign continued on as normal with perhaps some sense of concern or confusion in the air amount the PCs and Patrons. Or perhaps they figured there was nothing they could do to affect the situation so best to let it be. 

Yet some days into June, as Midsommer approached, The Man From Another Place returned. And strange poetry and prose was dropped into the psychosphere (twitter) with promises and spells. I will place screenshots as this blog rolls on.

"Four days will quickly steep themselves in nights; Four nights will quickly dream away the time; And then the moon, like to a silver bow new bent in heaven, shall behold the night of our solemnities." 
-"Midsummer Night's Dream"

Event Goals

To class up the BROSR a bit this event will bring in Midsummer Nights Dream, King of Elfland's Daughter, "Three Hearts Three Lions", "The Hobbit", some fairy stories, and (of course) "Twin Peaks" metaphysics. It will be Fey focused. It will be esoteric. 

Another goal of this event is to test out a bit of variable time in the midst of a 1:1 Jeffrogaxian Time based campaign. If successful, this will become a yearly event where players can plan to exploit the variable time which is brought to a front by the unseelie fey.

Players won't know all the information about this campaign event right away so this blog space will be updated here and there so keep your eyes peeled on this space. I will drop a tweet as new aspects of the event are revealed and highlight the change on the blog. 

Night of Dreams

As the sun goes down on 06/23/23 the stars can't be seen. Instead, there is a swirling of colors out of space, vaguely purple and mauve though undefinable except in bard song. Also unexplainable is the Weirding Way and Weirding Time which ensorcells all living things. This Weirding Time lasts from sundown until when the sun should be rising on 06/24/23 (more on that later).

Weirding Time

As the purple and mauve circles the lands, eyes and minds of all living things across the fields we know, the following is true:

-Weirding Time is at 1/2:30 time. Or each real-life evening takes 30 days of game time to pass. Another way of stating this is each 12 hours of daytime hours is a regular twelve hours of game world time and each 12 hours at Weirding Time night is 30 days of game world time.

-Only fey can initiate violence during Weirding Time. Non-Fey can defend themselves as normal. Undead can initiate violence if someone enters or is near their Lair. All folk can initiate violence if they realize they are being burgled or something like that. 

-Dreamwalking: Non-Fey travel overland at 1/60 of the speed as they are walking as you do in dreams when you feel as though in sand or walking backwards. This does not affect combat movement or walking around ones domicile, Lair, or city (town, village etc) of which you find yourself in when Weirding Time strikes.

-Dungeon Delving: Dreamwalking will also apply to dungeons as non-fey are not familiar enough with the places for them to be considered a domicile, town, home etc. Whereas the monsters Laired there could consider it at such and move without Dreamwalking. 

-Non-Fey do not NEED to eat or drink during Weirding Time but certainly can for fun and digest as normal.

-If you contemplate what this means you will see that each night of this event you are gaining 30 days of time for crafting, training, studying, burgling (general thievery), carousing, and the like.

-Fey type (including elves) are not hindered by dreamwalking meaning they can engage in overland travel, including marching armies and the like. Have very clear records for your DM for approval and rulings if you choose to take advantage of this to have your elf PC or whatever travel or march an army about. Acquiring a fully fey army may be a bit challenging.

Unseelie Fey

Fey type include elves, fairies, pixie, nixie, redcaps, treants, nixie, dryad, and other things which I am likely forgetting. If in doubt, ask your DM. Said Fey have become a bit odder, a bit Dunsayan, a bit Lynchian, a bit dickish.

So, every day during the event (not only during Weirding Time) fey have the following attributes:

-Fey type for this event include elves but not dwarves and not half-elves.

-Wilderness Encounters have a 75% chance of being a special Fey focused encounter chart your DM will have access to.  

-Fey cast spells as 4 levels higher. This does NOT mean they have more spells per day or in their repertoire.

-Fey type act as 3 HD higher for HP and attack chart.

-On a natural 20 attack roll with an iron weapon, fey save vs spells or disentegrate.

-NPC fey type are -2 to reactions with non-fey and +2 with fey and animals.

-Domain Encounters: Since each night lasts a month and Fey can travel overland as they like, players (or patrons) with domains should make a check on their normal schedule each 30 days of Weirding Time. If your schedule is once a month then check once each night. If once a week then check 4 times each night. Domain encounters during weirding time would ONLY be from the Fey chart. Remember the -2 to Reaction as they are angry unseelie buggers for a while. The rate you should be checking can be found in AXIOMS 3 "Wandering Into War".

-Morning of 06/25/23: NPC Clerics, Paladins, and Priestesses have discovered that Unseelie Fey, during the course of this event, can be turned as if undead by Lawful characters with the Turn Undead ability. 

-Morning of 06/25/23: During hard fought defenses from fey and elves at villages, forts, and smaller towns; the NPC Temple has discovered that bonfires which have Bless cast upon them by Divine Casters of level 9 or higher will weaken and have a change to Turn Undead on fey type. The power of said bonfires lasts for 12 hours or until the fires become too low. The effect works wherever light from the bonfire is cast.

Eternal Twilight

When the sun should rise on 06/24/23, the purples and mauve swirls instead dissipate, and bright stars twinkle across the landscape. This continues and time returns to its normal passage for 12 hours until the colors out of space return and Weirding Time begins again until the next Star-Rise. During the Twilight hours Weirding Time does not apply. There is nothing particularly odd about the Twilight Hours except it's dark. This would help creatures that are damaged by sunlight (vampires for instance) but is otherwise unremarkable except aesthetically.

Crafting and Economy

Many economic factors (especially in ACKS) are contingent around travel and supply lines. As such, the economy will not be resetting during Weirding Time. Trade caravans can't transfer their goods overland during Weirding Time. 

"But how can I buy enough materials to make the magic items I want to create during Weirding Time" you ask? Well thankfully The Man From Another Place is near at hand!

Simply close your eyes as if to dream and he will appear to make a deal. He will provide whatever raw materials you need, including rare monster parts, for the purpose of crafting in Weirding Time. One can imagine The Man From Another Place may also ask a favor of the Player at some later date? I'm sure it will be fine. Don't fret this! Be as beholden to him as possible.

-Chaotic PCs and Players can purchase any raw materials for crafting purposes at 3/4 their normal price.

-Neutral PCs and Players can purchase raw materials for 1.5 their normal price.

-Lawful PCs and Players can purchase raw materials for 2 times their normal price.

Conclusion


The Man From Another Place has apparently initiated this strangeness with the help of the natural oddness of Midsommar itself. Most Temple folk have become aware of The Man over the years and generally fear his power and look not to anger or annoy him. Most Arcane casters know him as well but have been known to strike deals with him as a metaphysical patron. This may be a good or bad idea. But the important part is to stay in character and #PlayToWin.

For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. 
-Eph 6:12


Dubzaron Session 141: Dazed and Confused

Session played on 02/21/2024. Participating PCs:  Daria: L9 Bladedancer, Lawful. George of the Jungle: L4 Beastmaster, Neutral Reaver: L5 Ba...