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08 July, 2021

Into The Unknown Part Three

 

Loundre awoke to a world filled with pain

and he was thirsty. He forced his way through the agony and managed to lick the insides of his parched lips

but his teeth felt 'strange'.


A familiar voice sounded in his ear..... “Aha, our friend is stirring!”

The dulcet elven tones of Taenaran registered in his foggy brain, and Loundre attempted to open his eyes – managing the task with one, but his right eye remained firmly closed. His efforts were rewarded with the view of a dingy room.......... but NOT the interior of the Mad Mage's dungeon.

Where am I?” was the question he tried to ask – but he thought the words sounded like a muted garble.

Relax Loundre. You are safe and back in the Yawning Portal.” The face of Nakelus came into view as the mage carried on..... “Allinn saved your life, and we managed to get you out of the dungeon. Allinn is away at this moment arranging for you to visit the temple for more healing. Now, you must drink, let me help you” and with that the mage brought a waterskin to his lips.


When we left The Wormriders they were examining two apparently unrelated statues in the recently cleared section of the dungeon.

There is a non-magical link between the two, but it is quite difficult to spot, and so I'd decided that successful “Perception” or “Knowledge” tests were required by the same character on both statues for anyone to realise the connection.

Oh well, perhaps they'll find out another day - if they decide to retrace their steps!


Refreshed slightly by the cool water, Loundre asked “Wha...... What happened?”

The elf took a seat by the bed and recounted the events...............


We had fought off the creatures in the chamber and spent some time examining the two statues. We found nothing unusual about them and there was nothing else in the room, so we followed you through the left hand door into a short corridor.


You were almost at the next door when a trap was sprung. I saw you try to dodge it, but it was too close and too fast – did you feel the loose stone beneath your foot which triggered it?

He didn't – which was a Failed Perception Test. A couple of rolls on my Traps Table, and Loundre was in the path of a pair of battering rams which were swinging down from their hidden upright position in a hole in the roof of the passage. 

 


The heavy rams smashed into his face and chest, causing a LOT of damage – and the dice gods refused to smile when he rolled to try and block some of it, leaving him KO'd and bleeding out on the dungeon floor!


You were out cold and Allinn was hard pressed to save you, but praise be, he did.

We were unsure of what to do next – there was no doubt that you needed carrying out to safety, but our quest was incomplete. I took it on myself to see what was behind that door before we headed for the exit. 


I knew I was taking a risk, but as it turned out we had reached a dead end.

 

The passage had completely collapsed and there was no way through towards the under workings of the City Of The Dead and so with that, we brought you back here.

Now my friend, are you hungry? I'm sure they'll have some soup or broth in the kitchen...... and I've heard that the healers at the temple can work wonders to replace teeth...and reset jaws"

"Shush!" whispered Nakelus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

02 April, 2021

Into The Unknown Part Two

The hinges had rusted with lack of use and squealed loudly in protest as the door was opened - " sounds like my knees" thought Nakelus, as Loundre muttered "well that's announced our presence!" as he led the Wormriders into the dank corridors beyond.


I'd turned the next card from the Uncharted Dungeon deck and rolled a 4 on the D6, which gave me this layout with two exits (at the top of the card) leading East. A few dice rolls on the "featured creatures" tables provided the occupants which would appear at the (red dot) spawn points.

Not being overly careful about being quiet after their noisy entrance, none of the party heard the shuffling of feet as a pair of foul corpses, raised from the dead by some dark necromantic magic, began approaching from both sides of the corridor.
 

Spotting the reflection from the light of Nakelus's staff on the glazed eyes and bared teeth of the zombies to his right, Loundre shouted a warning as he launched into the attack. heeding the cry, Taenaran had just enough time to turn and ward off the attack which came from his side of the dungeon passageway.

Loundre was in mortal combat with one of the undead horrors, and a second rotting creature was approaching as Nakelus stepped into the junction. Without hesitating he raised his hand and pointed, uttering the arcane words of a spell which blasted the monstrosity with arcane energy (a magic missile at a cost of 4 mana points). 

Avoiding the slashing claws and snapping teeth of the zombie facing him, Taenaran rained a flurry of blows on his opponent, rendering the creature lifeless. A group of huge rats at the end of the passage were obviously emboldened by the zombies attack and joined the fray, 

swarming around the Taenarans feet, leaping and biting with needle like teeth - and to make matters worse, yet another of the living corpses was approaching!

(Once again the SWADE initiative system really spiced up what could have been a pretty mundane encounter. Also, in the EnDungeoned rules the rats count as a "swarm" if there's three or more of them, which reduces their opponents number of combat dice in melee!)


 From where he stood at the junction, Allinn could now see the remaining zombies and paralyzed them with a Ward Undead enchantment. Nakelus stepped over to aid Taenaran, and the two of them made short work of killing the rats (Taenaran was dealt a Joker for this round and made great use of the "wild" +2 bonus!) Loundre brought his sword down on his stationary opponent in a cleaving blow and the fighting was over.

The party took stock for a moment, checking that everyone had fared well in the encounter and looking and listening into the darkness around them. A scuffling sound could be heard up ahead and they set off cautiously to investigate, spotting what looked like a large tentacle moving just beyond the edge of the passage wall.


Taenaran had already sheathed his sword and readied his bow, and was the first to see the Giant Scolopendra (perhaps better known to you, dear reader, as a "Biggus Maximus Centipedus"!) and fired two arrows in quick succession ("Quick Shot" ability after passing his dexterity test), injuring the the giant insect before it raced out of its lair and along the wall of the corridor, attempting to get past its adversaries.

Loundre missed with his swipe at the creature, and it made clear of the left hand door before turning to face its foes again. Once more though, it felt the painful stab of an arrow piercing the armour shell of its body. It instinctively snapped with its powerful jaws to try and defend itself while writhing in pain. The giant insect was finally released from its agony by a powerful cut from Loundre's sword.

A quick check showed that there were no other creatures around and the party set about carefully searching the area of the dungeon that they had just cleared, discovering nothing of interest other than the two very different statues which stood in opposite corners.

The smaller of the two bore symbols and inscriptions which none of the Wormriders were familiar with,


while the other, much larger and plainer carving had no markings on it at all as far as they could see.


What where they and why were they there? Well that would be telling, and you're going to have to wait until the next episode to (hopefully - it's going to require some successful Perception and Knowledge tests by the Wormies) find out! 

Please feel free to have a guess tough, and in the meantime, all that remains for now is to bid each and every one of you...........






 

25 March, 2021

Into The Unknown

After cautiously traversing the long (100ft) dank corridor, the party found themselves standing at a non-de-script looking door. But just what lies beyond?

 

Just like the Wormriders and you dear reader, at this point I have no idea, but to find out I first turned a card from a shuffled deck of "Uncharted Dungeon" cards from Dungeon Saga and rolled a D6 to determine the location of the exits....

 


 ..... an approximation of the map and a quick check of an oracle for any contents resulted in the first room looking like this as Loundre opened the door...

 


Two of the skeletons advanced immediately, one of them attacking Loundre straight away, pinning him in the doorway and blocking the entrance for the rest of the party!


The barbarian dodged the ineffective spear thrust (the skeleton rolled no hits!) and a split second later delivered a huge blow to the skull of the animated warrior, cleaving down through its spine and ribs - his assailant clattered to the ground. With his companions stuck outside the room, Loundre was quickly assailed by more of the room's guardians and cursed himself for being so stupid as he blocked and parried yet more blows. He heard Allinn yell from outside in the corridor " CLEAR THE DOORWAY!" and with a wry grin he thought to himself "If only it was THAT easy!"

He didn't realise that Allinn's shout was directed at Ulenze and Taenaran, who were directly behind him and blocking the dwarf's view into the room. Taenaran stepped aside as Loundre just managed to block a swing from a vicious looking scythe, and Ulenze pressed himself to the wall on the opposite side of the corridor to clear the way while the hapless Loundre continued to block and parry incoming blows from the skeletal warriors before Allinn was finally able to utter the holy incantation and cast a ward on the undead (he can see three, and managed to roll a three!). The moment that the nearest skeletons became motionless, Loundre cleaved one of them in two, kicking the sundered bones for good measure (and in frustration!). He'd created a gap - would he be able to exploit it?


 Taenaran could see the situation and shouted "Push through!" but frustratingly, the grinning skulls closed in all too quickly and he felt a stab of pain as the trident wielding 'netter' thrust under his guard and pierced his side (one hit, no block = loss of one Body point). The "Barbarian Rage" was bubbling to the surface, but Loundre forced himself to keep calm, methodically slamming his heavy blade down onto his assailant and rendering it to yet more scattered bones on the floor (three hits, no blocks!). The sense of victory was short lived, as the skeleton partly behind the door to his left stabbed him in the shoulder (two hits, one block = another point of Body lost. The initiative order produced by the card draw meant that Allinn and Ulenze were unable to do anything this round, but once again there was a gap - could Loundre exploit it? or would the initiative draw prove unkind once more?!) 


A second stab was aimed at him from beside the door, but Loundre saw this one coming and took it on his shield, turning just in time to parry another swipe from the scythe to his right. The gap was still open, and seizing the opportunity he charged through it, rounding on the middle skeleton and felling it with one blow. The doorway was now clear and Taenaran was followed by Allinn into the room to join the fray!


The elf's pent up frustration exploded as he slammed into his opponent, raining a flurry of blows that destroyed the undead spearman (three hits, no blocks!). Allinn swung his mace but the blow was parried by the scythe wielded by the boney hands, but now, the tide of battle had turned and Loundre felt the onset of rage subsiding........


.....as he calmly stepped up unseen by the skeleton facing is companion and dealt the final blow of the encounter.

With the fighting over, the rest of the party set about searching the room while Allinn administered to Loundre's wounds.


Finding nothing of value and clear of traps or hidden doors the Wormriders headed for the exit door, and the next part of their adventure.

 

A very short episode, but I'm afraid "playtime" has been somewhat scarce these past several days. I HAVE however had plenty of "thinking time", and have addressed the issue of Time (a factor not addressed in the EnDungeoned rules, but important to consider in our linked campaign - for instance when Stevie described the raging storm in a previous episode, the rain affected the water levels in the sewers at the time the Wormriders were exploring them), and time keeping is very much a part of my personal D&DNA!

The problem arose when the party rested after their previous encounter


and I needed to know how much time had elapsed and just how long they'd been down in the dungeon. From a previous chat with Mortis, I knew that EnDungeoned was based on "the best bits" from HeroQuest,

Dragon Strike,

and the "Easy To Master" edition of D&D...

...so I simply took the time mechanic from this early edition of D&D, which suited me just fine since it is basically the same as that in my beloved Holmes edition "Blue Book"!


If the above make these rules sound very much like a pure 'nostalgia trip' - there's even more! It doesn't take a detailed analysis to realise that there's also influences from Warhammer Quest


and a taste of Advanced HeroQuest too,


Ooh, and if you look at any of Mortis's games, the imagery is VERY reminiscent of the old legend of Grimrock,


a pc game which I've never owned or played, but I do indulge in a little Moonshades on my android phone and tablet to while away the time when we're away from home........ and this 'free-to-play' dungeon crawler app shows a marked similarity!


But I very much digress, and please don't send in a deluge of "hate mail" because of the mention of computer games! This postscript was about Time, and I'm afraid that's all the time I have for this post! 

Please let us have your comments and questions, and please join us again here in The Game Cupboard. We love hearing from you and having your company.

10 March, 2021

The Wormriders Vs

 

hmm, I haven't got any of those.....

 

Leaving the crystal and bone strewn hall, the party found themselves in a long hallway lined with life sized statues of human warriors. The ceiling is partially hidden behind a thick covering of spider webs. Ignoring the junction a short distance to the west, they followed Volo's scribbled instructions on their map and headed east, counting a total of thirty eight statues on damaged plinths, and passing the dead bodies of three giant spiders riddled with crossbow bolts before reaching the far end of the hall and a set of double doors.

Ulenze carefully examined the doors and declared them “safe”, but just to make certain, Nakelus employed his 'Wych Sight' to check for the presence of magic – which revealed something arcane, but he was unable to discern its nature.

 

[Hobby Hack: I realised that I didn't have any double doors painted and it was too wet and horrible to take any outside to prime with a rattle can, so I just brush painted grey primer onto this Mantic door surround and brown paint onto the doors. As soon as that was dry I picked out the metal hinges with a Sharpie pen and then gave the grey paint a black wash, and the brown paint a brown wash. Not brilliant, but super quick and let me get on with the game!]

 

(Halaster had cast an ELDER RUNE on the doors, set to target a random character in the hall within 60ft when they are opened. I shuffled the deck and dealt “Savaros”, Rolling an odd number on a D6 produced the bane effect “All non magical coins and gems in targets possession vanish” - a D10 decided that Taenaran would find his pouches empty the next time he checked them!)


Bracing himself, Loundre opened the doors, and relieved that nothing had seemed to happen he stepped into the room with his companions following closely behind.

The first thing they noticed was the stench of the room – it reeked of urine and feces Then, as that shock registered, they noticed four pairs of eyes reflecting the light from the mages staff, and heard the deep guttural growling which began to rise in volume!


(The module specifies three Manticores for this encounter but to my shame I have none in my collection. I could have proxied them, which would have been fine if I was playing for my own entertainment, but I decided it would be better to substitute them so that a. it would look better on the blog, and b. it would demonstrate that you CAN still ad lib as a DM in solo games.

I came up with Dire Wolves from the bestiary because their basic stats equated quite nicely, and to me they seemed to fit the scenario perfectly. I added an extra one though as compensation for the Manticore's flight ability!)

 

[Confession Time.....I've no idea how, but I really messed up the combat previously, so what follows by way of an apology is a proper walk through of how it should be done! As already mentioned, for EnDungeoned solo play, I'm using the activation system from Savage Worlds: each round a card from a standard deck is dealt for each character and 'monster' to determine initiative order. This adds a level of randomness and uncertainty to the encounters which is ideal for solitaire gaming. ] - all actions will be described in turn order - Round 1

One of the wolves immediately charged Loundre, who was hard pressed to stave off the fangs and slashing claws (He still carries a wound from the previous encounter so his “Body” is 9. The wolf scored a whopping 4 hits, but Loundre blocked 3 of them – his Body stat is reduced to 8) before the snarling beast managed to evade most of his own attack in return (Loundre scored 3 hits, the wolf blocked 2 and its Body is reduced to 3)

 


Ulenze crept away along the wall to the right, heading for the pile of rubble in the corner of the chamber while another of the beasts leapt into the fray and attempted to savage Allinn (2 hits, both blocked by the dwarf) as Taenaran loosed a pair of shafts in quick succession at the Dire Wolf on the left of the pack (he passed his “Dexterity” test for his 'Quick Shot' ability, the first arrow scored 3 wounds with 1 blocked, the second 4 wounds with only another 1 blocked!), killing it where it stood.

At this point one of the wolves had seen Ulenze sneaking away from the group (passed its “Perception” test) and leapt at its diminutive prey (scoring 2 hits which Ulenze failed to block)


Allinn cast “Holy Bolt” at the wolf he was facing (expending 1 Fate point to do so and scoring 2 hits, reducing the wolf to 2 Body points) and seeing his old friend in trouble, Nakelus cast a Magic Missile at his assailant (burning 4 mana* but only causing 1 point of damage on the wolf.), failing to even distract the wolf and give the halfling a chance of escaping.

Here ends round one of the encounter. The Dire Wolves have a “keeper” who could be in any one of three locations, and might or might not be alerted by the sound of battle. At this point of the game I rolled a D3 for his location, and a Perception Test for his reaction, which told me IF he'd make his way to the room and WHEN he'd arrive if he does.

(*One of the things I REALLY like about EnDungeoned is the points based magic system. I've never been a fan of the Vancian magic and the “Learn, cast, forget” system just isn't how I imagine spell casting to work – drawing on a pool of arcane energy works far better for me......... oh, and don't get me started on how grossly overpowered “cantrips” have become in 5e!) - on to round 2

Loundre remained locked in combat with the huge wolf, unable to land a telling blow past the creatures lightning fast reflexes (He rolled 1 hit and the wolf rolled 1 block)

The wolf however, once again overcame Loundre's defences and opened up another wound (wolf rolled 3 hits, Loundre 2 blocks so he takes 1 wound and his Body points reduce to 7)

Desperate to save his friend, Nakelus launched another Magic Missile at the Dire Wolf (burning another 4 points of mana and this time scoring 2 hits, reducing the wolf's Body Points to 1)

Allinn lashed at the head of his opponent with his staff, but the wolf parried the attack (the dwarf rolled 2 hits, the wolf 2 blocks)

Taenaran joined the melee brandishing his sword but made very little impression on the wolf (scoring only 1 hit which was blocked)

 


Not happy about being struck about the head with a cleric's staff, the wolf facing Allinn lashed out with its huge claws (scoring one hit, Allinn scored no blocks and so takes a wound. His Body Points are now 9)

Obviously now distracted by the magical damage it was taking, the wolf which had Ulenze pinned by the wall only made a half hearted attack (rolled no hits, so the halfling doesn't need to roll for blocks)

Sensing an opportunity, Ulenze lashed out with his dagger at the not-too-healthy looking wolf (Ulenze only musters 1wcd but rolls a hit, only to see it blocked and his hope of ending the melee snuffed out!)


Remember I mentioned the wolves had a keeper? Well, the dice decided that he was in the corridor within earshot of the commotion and has turned up to find out what's going on – round 3!

At that moment, the southernmost of the three doors was suddenly thrown open and a huge Feral (Common) Troll squeezed its bulk into the room (and at this point I had to carry out a “Stupidity” check for the monster to determine how he would react to the situation – which he 'passed' and behaved, erm, normally?! Well, he didn't go berserk or freeze to the spot or anything!)

 

 NB: This model was the "new thing" I was working on for this post Stevie :-)

 

There was no let up in the fighting due to the new arrival, and Allinn managed to wound his opponent with a well aimed swing of his staff (I'm dropping the “who rolled what” from the commentary at this point, I'm sure you've picked up the mechanics by now) and a moment later Loundre caused another wound on the beast he was locked in combat with. 

Was he distracted by the Troll, or maybe by Loundre's battle cry – whatever, something must have grabbed Allinn's attention because he totally failed to defend against a massive swipe from the wolf he'd just wounded (OK, I said I'd stopped this bit, but THREE HITS on the cleric and none of them blocked! Ouch, the dwarf is down to 6 Body Points)

Nakelus now decided to put his trust in cold steel, and he charged sword in hand at the wolf he'd previously been targetting with Magic Missiles. The wolf saw the blow coming and managed to dodge the blade.

Ulenze saw his chance, and while the snarling beast was distracted by the wizard, he struck once more with his dagger (Sorry, can't resist – the attack rolls just 1WCD !, which results in a hit !!, the wolf only has 1 Body Point left, could this be its demise?? No! He manages to block the attack ….. tense or what?!)

The wolf now has two opponents (I let a D6 decide who he'd attack, 1-3 Ulenze, 4-6 Nakelus) and it turned suddenly to launch an attack at the wizard, who narrowly managed to deflect the blows with his sword and staff.

 The dire wolf facing Loundre had more success and its attack drew yet more blood from the barbarian.

Taenaran could see his friend was in trouble and he attacked the beast with renewed effort, driving his blade deep into the creatures torso. The wolf gave out an enraged howl then dropped to the ground dead.

The troll made its way towards the group of adventurers wher he had just seen and heard one of his pack killed.


Round 4

Things were becoming desperate for the party, and looked very bad for Nakelus when he took a HUGE blow from the wolf he and Ulenze were fighting. Instinctively though, he raised his sword after suffering the awful wound and managed to catch the creature as it followed through – it only caused a slight amount of damage, but that was all that was needed, and the beast let out its death rattle!

 


Loundre now charged at the approaching troll. The massive creature managed to block half of the blows the barbarian rained on him, but took some damage (tracking wounds is always important, but on Trolls especially so – he regenerates at the rate of one body point per turn!)

The troll fought back against his attacker, swinging one huge fist and then the other, pummeling Loundre who desperately tried to fend off the blows but inevitably took yet more damage.

 


Ulenze had now rejoined the main group of the wormriders and gave Allinn a helping hand (and ”one hit wonder” does it again, only to have the wolf roll a successful block!)



Taenaran attacked the troll and he too found it difficult to get past the creatures defences, only managing to land one of his strikes with any effect (but another body point is taken from the troll!)

Allinn should have kept his concentration on the wolf, not on what Ulenze was doing, or the troll for that matter – either way, he completely failed to land a single blow on the dire wolf he was supposed to be fighting. Then, to make matters worse, when the wolf put in its own attack against him, the dwarf failed to block it and he was wounded yet again.

 


Round 5

(Taenaran was dealt a Joker and for anyone who doesn't already know, Jokers are “wild” in the Savage Worlds activation system. The character can activate at any point he chooses during the round and not only that, they also gain +2 to any combat or trait rolls made during the round!) The elf launched a veritable flurry of blows at the troll, (but infuriatingly only landed a couple on target – SO infuriatingly, that he spent 4 Fate points to reroll the four misses he'd just scored, managing to convert two into hits... only to see his opponent block all but one wound! The troll is now down to 2 Body points)

Ulenze (the one-hit-wonder) strikes again, but this time his blow makes it past the wolf's defences and the last of the dire wolves is dead!

The troll (regenerates 1 Body point) turns his attention on Taenaran and lashes out in an almost frenzied attack, landing blow after blow on the hapless elf (5 hits actually and Taenaran blocked none so he swiftly spent two more of his fate points to reroll two blocks! He's now down to 5 Body points and has no Fate points left)

 

With the wolf dead thanks to Ulenze, Allinn charged forward while the troll was pummeling Traenaran.


With his forward momentum as he leapt over the wolf's corpse and into the attack, the dwarf delivered a massive blow with his staff. The monsters hide was unable to soak up much of the impact and with a groan the last of the creatures fell dead.

The wormriders quickly glanced around at each other, mutually checking that everyone was on their feet after the battle, and each of them recognising that they weren't in great shape. The halfling broke the brief silence - “It STINKS in here, can we get a move on and find somewhere less smelly to eat?” It raised a smile, but Taenaran insisted that they should burn the trolls body - “I've heard too many tales of these things coming back from the dead, why take the risk?” so they foraged around the room picking up the soiled tapestries and curtains which made up the Dire Wolves bedding (picking up a chain shirt, serviceable flail, a pouch containing 14sp and 29cp and a silver chain with a bloodstone pendant worth around 250gp – when the loot was shared out, Taenaran discovered that what coin and gems he had were now missing. He said nothing, but shot Ulenze an angry look)

They formed a pyre with the material and soaked it with lamp oil they'd picked up from the bandits lair, setting light to it and burning the trolls remains to Taenarans satisfaction before leaving the room.

In the corridor they found a blood trail leading south to the first of what appeared to be three feast halls, all equipped with stone tables and benches. It smelled and looked like “food” had been taken regularly from this first hall to the dire wolves, probably by the troll.

The second hall was clear and relatively clean (and certainly less smelly), the only thing of interest was a rather splendid copper tankard which Allinn decided would come in handy when they were out of this place and toasting their success!

The door to the third hall had been a little difficult to open, thanks to the maggot eaten corpse of a dead female dwarf adventurer laying directly behind it, her burglars pack beside her (which Ulenze laid claim to).

Back tracking up the corridor, the chamber to the north was obviously the troll's den, which stank and contained nothing of value.

Much more importantly, to the east of the upper food hall they found the green door which Volo had indicated on the map, and which would lead them off of the charted area of the dungeon and into the unknown.

Tired, injured and hungry, the wormriders decided to rest in the middle hall before continuing.



So there we have it. The wormies will be going “off piste” in the next episode and I'll be utilizing solo dungeon generation techniques as the saga continues. Many thanks for visiting The Games Cupboard and please don't be shy about leaving comments – it's your input which inspires us to keep the cupboard doors open.