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19 January, 2021

2021 January Musings

 

...and my usual New Year Resolutions.

Every year.. in January, I take a deep, hard look at the long twelve months lying ahead, and make a New year hobby resolution. I always look forward to this immeasurably as a time of change, and a time of positive, personal forward thinking, and hobby challenge. It excites me very much, and causes me to enjoy this time of the year.. looking forward to it with great relish, each and every time this month comes around.

I know many gamers think New Year resolutions are stupid or silly, but for me it works. So what exactly is a New year resolution?

Well, the dictionary says it best:

"A New Year's resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western World, in which a person resolves to continue good practices, change an undesired trait or behavior, accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve their life at the start of a new year."


For me, applied to the hobby, this means I get to start a fresh page. A clean sweep. A chance to de-clutter the previous year`s stalemates, and concentrate (with excited vigour) on the things that really matter. For me this usually means a chance to start a new project, or begin a project that has, until now, only remained a pipe dream. It doesn`t necessarily mean buying something new.. although Christmas presents often do seem to kickstart new projects in this way.

It`s no coincidence that starting a new project in January provides the best incentive to success, and if you think about it.. there is a simple but logical reason behind this. Leading up to Christmas the wife will (at some point) usually sniff, and say - in a calm but firm voice: "you will be moving those things, wont you?" as she eyeballs the piles of miniatures cluttering all the furniture tops, the piles of magazines and books littering the coffee table, and the rows of paints and half assembled figures parading the kitchen table: "Only.." she will remind you "our Christmas guests will be arriving in a few days!" So feeling suitably chastised, away goes all my treasured things, stuffed here and there in every available space you can find (out of sight and out of mind of the beloved spouse); so that by the time the festive season is done and dusted, and hobby time once again hits my hungry senses, I do so without the clutter of the previous year, as I physically HAVE to find out all my stuff once more (and begin the clutter all over again).

THIS is what I mean about New Year resolutions. The deck is clear, the wife has made sure the planks have been swabbed, and you literally face an empty palate. This is ideal and sooooo conducive to starting a new project: especially if your doting family or thoughtful friends have furbished you with some new much desired hobby stuff to inspire you in your fresh endeavours.


For me, this year, this came in the shape of two Italeri boxed sets of miniatures and terrain. Sold mostly, I suspect, for modelers to make set piece dioramas. However they make the most extraordinary cool self contained skirmish sets for conducting small `platoon level` skirmish wargames. With each box containing heaps of wooden and plastic terrain, craft, tanks, bunkers, and over 100 1/72nd miniatures per set, these are the ideal little projects to keep me happily entertained throughout the cold winter months ahead. Best of all, they are extremely cost effective and complete, and will allow me to dabble my toes in two new genres of game, without needing to dig any further into the wallet. Sometimes it's good to break away from the mainstream hobby, and delve into some of the less obvious choices available


Normal years, I tend to immerse deeply into any new project... allowing myself a self imposed goal of 60 or 70 days to see the whole thing completed (like my 54mm Red Coats and Zulu project last year). But this time round I am approaching things differently: (a) because I rarely buy anything new nowadays and instead rely on utilising things I already own.. but haven`t gotten round to playing with yet.. and (b) because I have a lot more time on my hands now that I concentrate on the hobby a lot more and less on blogging. I find myself not needing any time restraint, as I have, literally, the whole year ahead of me (and beyond) in which to enjoy myself.


This effectively means I can indulge in whatever whim takes my fancy any given moment. Last of the Mohicans and The French Indian War once month, Platoon and Full Metal Jacket the next (I rather fancy having a go at M.A.S.H as well), Age of Sigmar the next, Necromunda, and Russian Front the following month and so on and so on. And of course 2021 will see me immersing heavily into our shared world of The Forgotten Realms AND I can finally think about diving deep into Middle Earth and perhaps even a bit of Samurai (Test of Honour) gaming and even a bit of Napoleonic Sailing Ship gaming (and Travel Battle for a bit of Imagi-nation War and Peace).. as well as cracking open the boxes of my much beloved Commands and Colours Ancients (Boudicca and Romans eat yer heart out).

I`ve already started the Middle Earth ball rolling with our very first issue of the new virtual magazine "The Emerald Musketeer" which has already gone out to everyone who asked to be included on the TGC list for this quarterly publication. Coming in at around 116 pages (split into two PDF files), this pilot issue has certainly started the ball rolling in that direction.

 

Four magazines a year, each corresponding to the four changing seasons of the year.. this is, we hope, a delightful new way to bring the hobby to those who support the site: and future issues will include a host of gaming material for everyone to enjoy.

Roll on 2021.. know I will certainly be `rolling` for a while, as I work on losing some of the Christmas fodder I`ve consumed this festive season *grins*.


Steve

 

07 January, 2021

HAPPY NEW YEAR......

 

.. and felicitations for 2021. Also, many thanks for your “get well soon” messages to Mrs G. They seemed to have worked, and she is now well on the way to a full recovery – but methinks she has become a little TOO used to the pampering she has received of late!

I trust you all had a splendiferous time over the festive season, and I do hope each and every one of you appeared on Santa's “nice” list!!


With the holiday now behind us, I thought it was high time The Game Cupboard reopened its doors and returned to the business of reporting on what's occurring in our little corner of the gaming community. Let's start with a bit of 'admin chat' first and get that out of the way before turning to 'the good stuff'.

As you probably are already aware, due to technical problems inflicted by the changes made to the Blogger interface, I'm currently acting as sole editor of the blog (and its sister The Emerald Musketeers). Despite his best efforts Stevie has found it to be an impossible task to contribute directly (the machinations of the blogger interface versus his version of Windows, in conjunction with slow internet access have proved to be his Nemesis – though I live in eternal hope that at some point the technical gods will smile upon us and “the gang” can be re-united on these weblog pages!), and therefore dear friends, we are unfortunately running a 'reduced service'.

To be as efficient as possible, I've decided to make a couple of subtle changes to the way my own campaigns will be posted with effect from today. The Wormriders will be continuing their adventures here at TGC, and will become my main focus on the gaming table. Hank Taylor will still be hunting for the rogue replicant Cindy here too, but these games (and therefore the write ups) will be secondary to the Wormriders and subsequently less frequent.

The planned “Land of Nippon” campaign will feature over on The Emerald Musketeers blog, since I feel it fits the “ImagiNations” theme there, and it will be my main focus there. The 'Napolionique' conflict continues on TEM, but will assume a supporting role from now on.

Over on my own humble blog - The Wargame Addict, I'll be concentrating on the struggle between Roundheads and Royalists, witches, vampires et al, in the troubled Erewash Valley. Meanwhile Brad and his group of survivors will also continue to appear as they struggle to survive the zombie outbreak, and of course the “Dark Conspiracy” fantasy campaign will continue (since it's 'linked' to the events in Waterdeep).

If the above sounds like a New Years Resolution, it's not – I don't make them anymore – but it IS the result of a little 'deep thought' during the holiday. I've touched on this in my recent blog post over on TWA, and I'd encourage you to think of the three blogs as interlinked volumes. If you're only interested in following one or two of the above campaigns, then you only need to follow along on that (or those) particular blog(s), but if you'd like to see the complete picture (and you might – especially when the time and dimension hopping Steam Punk shenanigans start!) I'd urge you to keep tabs on all three.


OK, with that out of the way I'd like to mention the events in Waterdeep.

I've not been able to “play” any of the campaign on the table over the holidays, but I have had time to sit with my camaign journal, a note pad, some dice and an oracle deck (in this instance the Game Masters Apprentice) to determine what's been going on since the last session.

The big news is that after their audience with The Open Lord, where the charges against them for causing the fire on Shield Street (The House of Bane) were dropped and they received a hefty reward for their part in recovering the embezzled gold, the Wormriders left Waterdeep by ship to escape any unwanted attention from Manshoon and the Zhentarim.

Well, that's what almost everyone thinks! Short of arranging a parade, fanfare and red carpet, a concerted effort was made to convince any interested parties who might harbour malicious intentions that the Wormriders had indeed sailed off to seek further fortune elsewhere, when in actual fact, they had been smuggled off the ship almost as soon as they'd boarded it!

Allinn wasn't even there at all! He hadn't recovered fully from the electrical blast he'd received from the Banite cultist, and had collapsed on his way to see The Open Lord. Arrangements had been swiftly made to whisk him off to a little known temple of Sharindlar where he has received healing and has spent some time “recuperating” (There's actually more to it than that – the electricity must have 'rewired' his synapses somehow because he's now 'seen Sharindlar's Light'. Believe it or not, Allinn has put aside his axe and become a cleric!)

Loundre and Nakelus have been assisting the Harpers, and by joining the group which provides protection to guild traffic (agents or couriers) traveling to and from Waterdeep they've spent a lot of time out of the city – and along with new gear the outdoor lifestyle has very much changed their physical appearance!

Ulenze had to have professional help to rid himself of the Stone of Golorr and the effects it had on his mind. On all accounts he's fully recovered, but very little of him has been seen recently – he has kept in touch with his comrades, but hasn't let on at all about what he's up to!


Oh, and I must mention a curious incident that occurred in the City of the Dead while the stolen gold was being recovered.

The operation itself was quite sizeable and involved a large number of City Guard, the Watch and a militia detachment, and overseen by members of the Gryphon Riders circling the area overhead. Now, STRICTLY between you and me – I don't think anyone in Waterdeep is aware of these details - this large 'official' presence had obviously spooked the mysterious Illithid who had taken up residence in the City of the Dead and caused him to rush whatever nefarious plot he was up to, with disastrous effects, causing a huge magical (actually temporal and dimensional) explosion!

What is common knowledge is that during the recovery of the gold, a huge 'earthquake' rocked the area and a strange vortex appeared briefly in the sky.

 

 

The incident only lasted for a few seconds and luckily there were no casualties reported. The authorities have carried out an investigation, but found no clues to the cause – though Volo does have a theory............


So there we have it. All up to date now and the stage is set for the Wormrider's return in the next post. Many thanks for dropping by, and as ever, your comments or queries are most welcome if you'd like to drop us a comment. Oh, and don't forget to message Stevie with your Email address if you'd like to be on the mailing list for hi e-magazine and you haven't done so already – I know he's working on it and the first issue is due soon!

 

 

 

20 December, 2020

Hi everyone, a quick explanation as to why things suddenly went very quiet here at The Game Cupboard.

As you may already be aware, since Blogger introduced the latest changes to its editorial interface Stevie has found it totally impossible to post articles, and since it is he who collates and uploads the input from the rest of the “Emerald Musketeer” crew (Hils & Tarot) there has been a rapid decline in the frequency and diversity of content.

Unfortunately on top of that, shortly after the last blog post my good lady wife was rushed into hospital for a life saving operation (on a strangulated umbilical hernia which had become infected). The shock of what was happening obviously pushed all hobby related thoughts from my mind. Now she's safely home and I'm acting carer, cook and cleaner, things are settling into a new routine but hobby time is still pretty much at a premium.

However, just like last year, The Game Cupboard was going to be “closed” over the Christmas and New Year period, so hopefully the above factors won't have had too much impact for those of you that enjoy following this blog.


With the bad news out of the way, it's my pleasure to present these seasonal messages

 

Merry Christmas Everyone


Yep! It's that wonderful time of the year again. A month I always enjoy so much; from the gradual build up, the growing anticipation, all the intricate planning & preparation (I always was a bit of a prepper), and present wrapping. Tree(s) to decorate (we always have two trees.. one in the long hall and another in the lounge), foliage to hang from the beams, lights to untangle and set up along the fireplace, and.. and.. and... all that cool stuff! Whilst Hils gets busy in the kitchen making mincemeat, cake bases, jars or fruit soaked in sherry, some in rum, and a jar of sultanas lingering in brandy (with my name on it, earmarked for my trifle), and.. and.... and that yummy stuff! Oh God the list is endless, but we keep the glass half full, never half empty, so we enjoy every last drop of seasonal cheer and try and immerse in the TRUE spirit of Christmas. Just to remind ourselves, we always watch a classic Christmas movie every night, to remind ourselves what it's all about, and to keep the feeling and atmosphere alive in our hearts.

I have a motto I always tell my kids on the big three days itself. "If each person does 10 kind acts a day... from "no I`ll make the tea and coffee, you`ve done enough" or "my turn to do the washing up" or "let me fetch that for you" to "My turn to set the table" and "would anyone like something from the kitchen?" if there are 5 guests in the house with you it means each person will receive 50 kind acts a day. Makes a big difference I can tell ya hehe.

This year our Christmas will be a lot smaller than normal, as we can only invite guests to stay who are able to self isolate completely for the vital few weeks leading up to the big event. But others will come say their warm greetings and be offered a big glass of alcohol free mulled wine, sherry or port.. while we chat with them in the garden (until the cold drives them back into their cars and retreating to the sanctuary of their own home) but never-the-less we will make sure we all have an amazing time. It will just be a bit `different` this year is all.


From a gaming perspective, all my wonderful `toys` have been swept away, boxed up, and the gaming tables repurposed and decorated with fake snow, holly, decorations, and lights... with presents dotted around underneath (and hanging from) the winter foliage. But I do so enjoy the beginning of January, as I don't get sad when the festivities are over. Instead I always go "Right, New Year's Resolution time, woohoo!!" and prepare to embark on a new hobby project on the first day of the year. This time round it will (finally) be my French And Indian War.... Last of the Mohecans, Vietnam, and MORE Necromunda (and the start of a new sci-fi solo campaign - my first one yet). Also some intense delving into Star Wars and a real deep dive into Age of Sigmar. Yep.. a lot on my plate to explore in 2021 and I love it. Can`t wait to get cracking


Steve

 

 

Have a wonderful Christmas everybody, and I hope your seasonal wishes can come true. It's strange times I know, but I truly hope you still manage to overcome the difficulties and embrace all the things this festive season has to offer. Christmas is for sharing and caring. Give a thought to your neighbours, and spread the good feeling as much as you can.

Hugs and kisses to all and each.


Hils


 

Merry Merry MERRY Christmas everybody *hic* may your star guide you to perfect and delightful seasonal cheer.


Tarot


 

Here's to a marvelous Yule - don't forget to look for the “Christmas Kiss” this year as Jupiter and Saturn join in the grand conjunction to celebrate the day, a cracking Christmas – I'm assuming you've all been good enough to be on Santa's delivery list, and a stonking New Year – with the prospect plenty of gaming to come!


Greg

 

 

 

 

 

26 November, 2020

INTO THE VAULT OF DRAGONS Part 2

The party descended the cramped confines of the spiral stairs, enclosed in the walls of the shaft they were only able to measure their progress by the number of steps they took, although the Allinn and Thulmiir's innate senses confirmed that they had descended below the level of the hall they had entered via the great doors. (The stairs descended 120ft)

Once at the bottom step, they found themselves in the middle of an unlit corridor with doors set into the side wall at both ends.

 With nothing to distinguish one from the other, Loundre led the way to the door at the north end. As he listened carefully at the doorway he had no need to bid the others to be quiet – each of them were silent and the feeling of apprehension was tangible.

Hearing nothing, but being especially wary after their earlier experiences, Loundre asked Nakelus if he could detect the presence of any magic around the portal. When the mage indicated that he didn't, he then signaled for Ulenze to check the door for physical traps. After a few moments the halfling also gave a signal that the door appeared to be clear.

With a glance to the rest of the adventurers, Loundre grasped the iron loop of the door handle and carefully opened it – then stared into the dark expanse of a large chamber which they had just accessed in one of its corners.

 Cautiously entering the room, the light from their torches reflected back from a huge treasure pile in the middle of the cavernous space. The thought instantly flashed through all the minds of the party “This must be it!” and with that realisation they each summoned their resolve and prepared for the final confrontation.

(Ulenze instinctively went into hiding behind one of the great pillars of the chamber!)

Advancing slowly towards the gold and gems, Loundre, Allinn and Renaer were suddenly halted in their tracks when a figured stepped forward from the dark recesses of the hall. An old dwarf carrying an ornate staff greeted them “I wasn't expecting anyone. As you can see, the place is a mess, perhaps you should come back later after I've tidied up a bit”.

Loundre said, “Our apologies for arriving un-announced SIR? But we seek an audience with Aurinax, and time is of the essence. May we speak to the guardian of this trove?”.

The dwarf replied “You may call me 'Barok' (Clanghammer), but as you can see, the great dragon is not here currently. May I take a message for when he returns?”

At this Valetta stepped forward from the shadows, “Good day master Barok, I am the priestess of the House of Inspired Hands in Waterdeep and dragonborn as you can see. I see a dwarf before me, but sense the presence of a dragon. May we talk openly? We have made our way here with nought but good and honest intent, as I am sure you will recognise if you will allow Renaer Neverember to explain”.

At this, Barok smiled and bowed slightly before answering with a wry smile “Your senses don't deceive you my Lady, and yes, 'Aurinax' is never far away” before turning to Renaer “I see that you have inherited your fathers likeness master Neverember. How can I be of assistance?”

With that, Renaer explained the whole story of the embezzled funds, his role within the Harpers Guild and their mission to prevent the Zhentarim and Xanathar finding and acquiring the gold, and how the Wormriders discovered the vault's location and keys while acting against the Black Network.

When Renaer mentioned that his father had been ousted from his position of Open Lord and was no longer even in Waterdeep, Aurinax understood that he had probably been duped by Dagult Neverember and agreed that the gold should be returned to its rightful owner – but pointed out that the gems were his, since they were payment for his guard duties.


Barok agreed to accompany the party back into the city, where he would speak to the “new” Open Lord, Laeral Silverhand. Although he trusted his instinct that Renaer's tale was true, this would provide final proof and allow him to relinquish the gold with a clear conscience.

On the journey back through the levels of the vault, Barok hardly stopped talking – obviously enjoying the company after his time in solitude! He explained how much he enjoyed his dwarven form, which made carrying the staff SO much easier, and described at length his previous role as ward of the Dragonstaff when it was passed to him by his good friend the archmage Maaril, and how much he'd really like to reside in the Dragon Tower once more........ Fortunately, it didn't take TOO long to reach the exit!!

Dawn was approaching when they finally left the Mausoleum. Loundre asked if Rasbar and his Harpers could remain on guard at the entrance, to which the dwarf readily consented and the party headed off towards the city.

Unfortunately, a Zhentarim spy had watched the cart arrive in Keel Alley and followed it to the City of the dead. His suspicion had been proved right when he saw the Wormriders emerge from hiding and he had immediately sent word to Manshoon, who rushed the repairs he was carrying out on his simulacrum and sent it as quickly as he could to the nearest secret portal to intercept the party, also instructing the surviving members of the Temple of Bane to make their way to the City of the Dead and retrieve the Stone of Golorr.

Suddenly, one of the sentries shouted a warning as Manshoon strode determinedly down the path towards the mauseleum at the head of a group of Zhentarim thugs!

As everyone's attention turned to face the threat, a group of Bane cultists were spotted making their way across the graveyard.

The simulacrum's icy heart was set on revenge as it bellowed a challenge. Barok turned to Ulenze and said quietly “Hold my staff master halfling – take shelter in the crypt”. In his weakened state Ulenze didn't hesitate and ran for the door as the dwarf transformed into the Great Gold Dragon!

Startled by this turn of events, Manshoon disappeared (cast invisibility on himself) while the nearest thugs dived for cover.

The mere sight of the dragon was too much for one of the cultists, who fled immediately. (Failed his “fear” test”)

Two of the Zhents were oblivious to Aurinax's appearance, intent on silencing the guard who had given the warning, only to receive their own nasty shock as the treant appeared from the grove and joined the fray!

The bow armed Harpers were also hardly aware of the transformation, concentrating on their aim before loosing arrows at the nearest attacker.

Allinn was hit by an electrical bolt of energy (Witch Bolt) from the sorceress of Bane....

.. just as Aurinax belched a cone of flame towards the spot Manshoon had just occupied, (The flame caught the simulacrum and set it ablaze – revealing its position.) while the arrows found their mark and the treant dispatched the Black Network assassin.


Aurinax pounced on Manshoon and his powerful jaws snapped shut on the hapless mage.

 Meanwhile, as the treant advanced, the remaining thugs lost their nerve and ran for their lives.....

.. while Nakelus and the Harper mage joined in the arcane duel with the Banites,

a fire bolt and a fire ball dispatching a cultist and the priestess, ending the threat from this group as the remaining pair took to their heels!

Despite Manshoon's struggles, the badly damaged (and poorly repaired) simulacrum's fate was sealed. Aurinax had no intention of relinquishing his grip, and delivered a crushing second bite, destroying the mages effigy!

The fight had been swift and brutal – though no-one had any doubt that things would probably have gone very differently were it not for the presence of the great dragon.

Allinn was the only casualty on the party's side, and though he was badly injured and in pain, he insisted that he was well enough to make his way back to the city once Valetta returned (she had ushered Nim away from the fighting when it broke out, fulfilling her vow to keep her safe) and administered healing.


POSTSCRIPT


With Aurinax back in dwarf form and reunited with the Dragonstaff the party set off once more for their appointment with Laeral Silverhand.

The hoard was retrieved, Barok was reinstated in the Dragon Tower, and the Harpers services to Waterdeep were recognised. The Wormriders received an official pardon for their previously alleged arson attack and a healthy reward for their part in returning the stolen gold, leaving them in a comfortable position to make plans for the future – “comfortable” bearing in mind the likely threat of Manshoon's desire for vengeance!


And that, dear reader, concludes the Wormriders tale of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, although I do intend on writing one more “reflective” post (so now would be an excellent time for you to pose any questions you might have on the campaign so I can be sure to answer them). I can only hope that you've enjoyed reading the campaign as much as I've enjoyed playing and writing it, and if that's the case I hope you'll join me again when Loundre, Allinn, Nakelus and Loundre continue their adventures in The City of Splendours.

17 November, 2020

INTO THE VAULT OF DRAGONS

 

Thulmiir set the keg of dwarven ale down in front of the vault doors and Loundre placed the beholder eyestalk on top of it, asking Nim to step forward and stand beside him. A moment later, with barely a sound, the huge doors slid apart.

As the adventurers stood looking and listening into the darkness, Loundre felt the slightest touch of a breeze as the air pressure on either side of the doors equalised.

There was no light in the hall sized room that now lay before them, the partys lights illuminated three columns, each supporting a stone bridge which spanned the width of the room, and double doors stood in alcoves spaced around the walls.

 
(You'll have to use your imagination I'm afraid, these are in-game photo's which reveal how I go about running my tabletop sessions.)

The party began making their way around the room, trying each door as they came to it. Ulenze first checking for traps, before either Allinn or Loundre attempted to open the doors.

The final door along the left hand wall opened, (the previous door WOULD have opened if Allinn had tried it, but unfortunately it was Loundre who made the attempt, and these two doors would only respond to a dwarfs touch!)
Revealing a room with large recesses at the end of both side walls. Ulenze carefully stepped into the room and indicated that the left recess was in fact an opening into a larger space, but then he turned to the right and simply stood staring at whatever was around the corner, ignoring all attempts to get him to explain what was there.

Allinn had stepped into the room after the halfling, and he now crept forward to find out what was happening. As soon as he looked around the corner, he too simply stood apparently enraptured by what he saw.

(They were looking at a large mosaic on the wall of an alcove, which depicted a large battle scene between dwarves and goblins.)

Nakelus suspected that some magical effect was at work and entered the room, taking care to stay by the right hand wall and avoid looking around the corner, once close enough he cast a Detect Magic spell, confirming that their companions were victims of an aura of enchantment.

Loundre and Renaer came forward and helped Nakelus to push the enchanted pair away from the alcove, but both of them became agitated and tried to fight their way back. Seeing this, Thulmiir hefted his hammer, set his eyes firmly towards the floor and stepped into the recessed area.

 
Soon the dull thuds of Thulmiirs hammer hitting the wall and fragments of masonary clattering to the ground were heard as the dwarf set about trying to physically destroy whatever was causing the spell (thinking to himself between blows “Why.... do.... damned.....wizards....... not …... learn..... dispel....... bloody..... magic...... spells!”)

Before too long the dwarfs hammer had done enough damage to the charmed wall decoration to break the spell and the struggle to keep Ulenze and Allinn away from it ceased.

Once they'd regained their composure, the party set off to investigate the stairs.

("In-game" photo)
 
("Arty" version) 

(and here's a map to clarify where they are,


and here's an annotated overview of what they've found – this basic layout is what I'd probably use to play the game solo if I wasn't going to photograph it for a blog post,


and here's a proper map to go with it.


Quickly adding the pillars, additional walls and room contents brings us back to the narration.)


Ulenze led the way over the first bridge, with Loundre following behind. The structure proved to be much sturdier than it appeared, and the two made it across safely and found themselves in a small square room which contained a fierce looking statue of a dwarf warrior and a trap door in the middle of the floor.


After searching around for obvious traps, the halfling bent down and grapped the pull ring of the trapdoor – immediately sensing that something was wrong! The ring had moved slightly, but the door hadn't budged. “It had to be a false door” The thought flashed through his mind as his reflexes sent him diving away towards the wall, just as two jets of magical fire streamed from the eyes of the statue.

The thiefs dexterity had saved his life but he was now terribly wounded (He passed his saving throw, reducing the damage by 50% but still lost 9 of his 10 hit points) and Loundre had to help him up, out of the room, and back over the bridge to where Valetta could administer some healing.


The halfling's condition is only partly improved (Valetta rolled 2!) and he is still physically very weak. He apologised to Loundre for endangering him - “I should have suspected some sort of magical trap, but I'm just not thinking straight.” (He is still under the influence of the Stone)

After checking that the thief is well enough to continue, Loundre and Allinn cross the walkway to the second room, clearing the gap easily with a running jump. The chamber appears to be empty apart from some old rusty dwarf armour in each corner.


The eastern wall bears an inscription in dwarven runes...


Finding nothing else in the room the pair returned to the rest of the party, where Allinn translated the words as “A secret never before told will part Dumathoins lips” and explains that Dumathoin is a dwarven god of secrets.


No-one had any immediate ideas as to what the words might mean other than Renaer, who wondered if the statue in the previous room was “Dumathoin" (which Allinn doubted from Loundre's description) so the party decided to press on, and set off to the end of the corridor and the third and final bridge.

[!]

Loundre asked Nakelus to join them to investigate this room since it was now obvious that there were more problems of a magical nature in this dungeon than physical ones.

 

Loundre, Allinn and Nakelus made their way to the third room which has a large iron anvil mounted on a stone base (yes- I know, just imagine OK) in its centre and walls filled by mosaic images of dwarf smiths at work. On close inspection they noticed that the anvil base is inscribed “Let the hammer fall and the anvil ring”.




While they are pondering the meaning of the inscription, Nakelus is studying the mosaic images and notices that the hammer on one wall is actually a real one set into the artwork. Carefully removing it from the wall, he takes it down and examines it – the haft previously facing the wall is inscribed “Let hearts be lifted and battles won”.

Stepping into the middle of the room he taps the anvil with the hammer. The sound of metal on metal reverberates around the chamber and suddenly the three heroes feel “refreshed” (They have actually received 10 hit points each!). Loundre moved to the doorway and called over to Ulenze, telling him to come over and join them. When he arrives Nakelus tapped the anvil with the hammer again, but with no effect.

Disappointed that they couldn't help the halfling, the decision is made to return to the second room, convinced now that there must be something they have previously missed.

[!!]


The entire party make their way over to the middle room and study the inscription and the rusty armour – even the walls and floor but find nothing. They were about to give up and begin retracing their steps when Valetta called for their attention. She then said “I told you that I was accompanying you on this quest to act as interpreter for Nim and to prevent her causing mischief, which is true, but what I didn't say – and what Nim probably won't believe because of the number of times I chastise her, is that I'm also here to protect her. Because of all the wonders in the House of Enlightened Hands, Nim is the dearest to my heart!”

At this, Nim rushed into Valetta's arms and was hugging her, at the same time that the previously magically hidden trapdoor appeared in the centre of the floor and fell open, revealing a spiral staircase descending into the darkness.

 


TO BE CONTINUED


[!] Anyone familiar with this module will now be asking “Where's the Black Pudding?” To me, it just didn't make sense to have this type of wandering monster in a "sealed" dungeon complex, so I substituted it - or should I say "them"!  I added the chance of more encounters by using a shuffled deck of playing cards, turning one card each game turn. If an ace was revealed I would roll on an encounter table.

[!!] Yes, they've completely missed the secret room and the small fortune that it contains! The party have “missed” a couple of hidden or secret items since they entered the crypt, purely because of the fact that they are focused on finding the hoard and confronting Aurinax. At each location therefore, if an obvious route forward has presented itself they have pushed on, rather than spend / waste time “exploring” in the manner of a 'normal' dungeon delve expedition.

I thought I'd include some 'revealing' photo's to accompany this post - they might detract from the story a little, but I thought you might be interested to see a little "behind the scenes" of my solo games in addition to reading how I play. 

It's been a bit of a struggle to get this post up - Blogger has been playing up again (I suspect it's my interweb connection though), so many thanks for reading through and following the Wormrider's tale as they take on the Dragon Heist module. The end is in sight now, so please make a point of coming back to see how they get on.