Saturday, December 21, 2013

K20 - The basement isn't clear

This long overdue session report covers two sessions and follow on the K19 - Under New Management

The tactical situation

The natural cave is oriented East-West. The dwarves are progressing from the East. They crossed a door some 300 yds earlier where the cave had been walled in. The ceiling of the cave drops to 3 ft in many places, making the progress difficult and forcing a crouching position (-2 attack). On the ground, there is a meandering frozen stream. The stream is covered in rubble and ice, making it rough footing (-2 attack, -1 defense). The echoes are severe, making Per checks -3. There is only a single torch lit, held by Goldo, the vision penalty is -1 per 2 hexes beyond a range of 3 from the torch. Finally, the air is thin and toxic, causing double FP damage.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Fractal combat resolution in GURPS

s to define, as a first draft, a way to smooth the transition from personal to mass combat such that a PC at the head of 7 dwarves will be presented with interesting challenges.

Key Principle

The cohesion of a unit is a matter of the tactical skill of a unit's direct commander. The abstraction here is that the higher the tactics skill of a commander is, the more predictable and sound the squad will behave. 

This is assuming that the commander has trained the squad. If not, a penalty should be applied on the tactics skill. 

Key Mechanics

Who does what?

Each turn, a passive tactics check is made to determine whether subordinates are going to act according to doctrine (In practice, moved by the commander). If the Tactics check is failed, the NPCs are going to act on impulses that are randomly determined (using a Roll20 table).

The maximum movement is limited by the tactics' MoS and the Adjusted Move of the subordinates.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

K19 - Under new management

It's all about location

Gror lead the assault on the huorn which lasted a mere fifty minutes. The tree fell to its doom from the top of the tower, freeing the path to the terrace where a contraption was mounted on a bronze brace. Lathmelen, the resident elf geek, didn't know anything about the artifact. Gesdrek was eventually pulled away from a book to examine the piece. It was a looking glass capable to terrorize whoever entered its sight. Unfortunately, the operation of the device remained a mystery and its effect a matter of conjecture. 

Goldo reported to Bain that Thalladan's library was a treasure trove of knowledge on dark arts and the underdeep. Most interestingly, Goldo identified a number of papers pointing to an agreement between Thalladan, the green wizard, and a party refered to as the infernals. The contract stated that Sarn Goriwig was to produce 150 orcs per years. The payment was to be made in exotic material, and take place once per calendar year.

Prince Imeptanen was eager to get the dwarves out of Sarn Goriwig. The dwarves delayed as much as they could. Many of them wanted to get back to the lower levels and explore the way beyond the door. The prince was adamant that this would not be possible. Bain managed to sidetrack the prince sufficiently to drag on the negotiation while he was grasping at straws. He saw an opportunity for Gror to shine and asked him to expose the role of the obsidian tower in the wider dwarven strategy. Unfortunately, the prince didn't seem to care at all for the business of the dwarves. Khazek attempted to throw the prince off with his trademark familiarity, but the attempt fell flat. The prince was visibly annoyed and wanted the intruders out of his property. 

Thordar pulled enough well turned sentences from his beard to distract the prince from his predicament. The prince was intrigued, maybe amused by the antics of the dwarf. The prince opened for further negotiations. Bain explained that Erebor was considering using the underdeep as a backdoor to Khazad-dum. This could get the dwarves out of Mirkwood earlier than planned. The prince liked that. After a few more minutes of negociations, the prince agreed to grant Sarn Goriwig for 10 years under two conditions: The first one was that the dwarves would prevent wickedness from deep underground to enter Mirkwood. The second term was that dwarves couldn't enter the orcs' nest until King Thrandhuil had presided over its purification. The deal was to be revisited in 10 years. 

Bain ordered the Bronze attack under Sundtak Orcslayer to take over the guard of the tower. Two herds were assigned to the task. The rest of the unit returned to Browek Bridge to await departure for Khazad-dum. Some hoped to go through Mirkwood such as Farin II, and others begged to go underground such as the commander of the Mithril-Attack, Kiro Rockdigger.

The thespian viceroy

Time flew by as the sun began to shine again on Mirkwood. Farin II, again, began to show disinterest for the whole of the expedition and spent all of his time training Battlegroup West. Thordar went by the command post a week later in search of new agents near Farin. His luck was thin, but he brought back a message from Farin to the viceroy requesting the permission to resume the overland walk. 

Bain obliged and returned to the CP of Battlegroup West. He found a pumped-up Farin who peeled himself from field exercises to meet the viceroy. Bain figured out that if he stroked his ego a little bit, he'd be able to get a clear idea of Farin's motivations (Psychology check). With this in mind, Bain played stupid (Acting check) and convinced Farin that he was really coming to see him to get a lesson in strategy. Farin, boasted his preparedness, and contempt for the troops on Battlegroup East. He exposed to Bain how he planned to take on the watcher in the water by the West gate. The lack of thought about the Eastern approach became evident. Gror suggested that taking on the beast may be a good way to come back to Erebor on a shield, but Farin dismissed the thought as weak. Bain estimated that Farin was probably capable to carry on his glamorous mission, decided that it was time for Gror to take over command, and ordered BG-West to march again. A date was set to begin the assault.

A day later, nothing was left of Battlegroup-West but a few kilometers of despoiled roadside encampments. Gror smiled and turned around to look upon the bustle of Battlegroup-East. Thordar, too was happy as the last of Farin's troop disappeared into the thick of Mirkwood. 

The sound of two shadows when they clash

Thordar had this itch in his hand. An itch that doesn't go away and comes to him when someone must die. He hoped for an orc raid, something fast and violent in which he could release the energy that he kept bottled in for weeks. A way to cast a net into destiny for him was to stroll around the HQ of Battlegroup-West. There was this Eastern dwarf there, Jaheev, which he suspected was responsible for the disappearance of Emerek: his agent in the Gold-Attack.

Thordar wandered around the unit, but didn't find much of a lead for his next agent. He had been drawing blanks for over two weeks and was wondering if he was losing his mojo. This is when he ran into one of the cooks working for the Attack-Lord himself. The guy's name was Kirel "Fanghook": an homely dwarf who feared him enough to pay attention. Thordar chatted a bit with Kirel and figured out that he was amenable to report to him on mundane matters. Kirel wasn't going to be the spymater that he was looking for, but at least he thought that he could count on him for simple stuff.

This is about that time that Farin III himself found Thordar and asked him to pass along the request to resume the march. Thordar scanned for Jaheev, who was nearby and observing him. He smiled, and returned to the viceroy with in his pocket a good excuse to come back with a distraction.

Thordar decided to take advantage of Bain's visit to confront Jaheev. If anything, this would prevent the Easterner from interfering with Bain's engagement. Thordar asked about Emerek, but Jaheev was dismissive. Feeling that this had something to do with his manliness, Thordar explained in no ambiguous terms that whatever happened to Emerk was better never again to happen to any other friends of his. Jaheev didn't need to be an empath to figure out that Thordar was glancing disturbingly at his throat. Jaheev made a veiled admission that he at least knew what had become of Emerk. He then promised to ensure that such dissapearance wouldn't happen again.

Jaheev was elated to hear that Battlegroup-West was leaving at first light. Most importantly, leaving behind Thordar and the disturbing twinkle in his eye.

The long way down

Khazek was a bit unimpressed when he learned that King Thrandhuil had been in Sarn Goriwig for the last few days without him noticing. Thordar also felt a little dejected to be the last to know about it. The King had gone and Prince Imeptanen came to Browek Bridge to inform the viceroy that the dwarven from then on had the duty to keep Mirkwood safe from the dark creatures of the underdeep.

The company comprised among many the viceroy, Bain, and his butler Thordar. The viceroy's son Gror was to lead a guard of axmen (7 of them) while Khazek, a royal family favourite was to take Gimvar and a guard of rangers to the depths. Also included were Gesdrek the Loremaster, Lathmelen the niece of the elf Queen Ildamadhui, Tov the holy dwarf and Goldo, and old friend of the viceroy and resident architect.  All 22 dwarves packed enough supplies to last a week, and headed deep under the mountains of Mirkwood.

The orc's nest was now a crypt for the tortured souls of 5 elves. Right of way to the Mirkwood elves was granted as the place was considered to be sacred to them. The company opened the gate and tip-toed through the rubble beyond.  Khazek identified a number of old tracks of orcs walking in files, and the strange footsteps of bipedal canine creatures, probably carrying whips. They proceeded down in a ricketty set of stairs going down a hastily dug shaft for 200 yds. They then reached a staging camp. There was more tracks there, and evidence of violence in the dust. The descent resumed for another 500 yds of vertical drop. At the foot of the shaft, there was the body of two orcs that didn't came down the slow way, and a squeeze leading into a large underground hall thundering with the noise of a waterfall.

The rangers proceeded to the Eastern end of the hall and waded into the river rushing down into the chasm below. They found the desiccated body of one of these dog-like creatures pushed aside along the wall. The river gushed into the hall through a carved portal of unknown origin. There was about 2 ft of water and a strong current. The water itself was not as cold as the rest of the hall. Khazek peered into the dark tunnel and turned around. The rest of the company was gravitating around the western end of the hall.

That end, unsusually, was walled in. Again, the construction was no more than 10 years old according to Goldo, and no one knew who would have been using this style. There was a steel door at it centre. Clearly, the concern appeared more to keep things from coming in than going out as the door was locked using a large steel bar hung on their side. They lifted the bar and opened the door. Tov's drumming was silenced, only one torch was left alight. 

Beyond the wall

Beyond the wall, the hall kept on heading west. The air was thin, but breathable enough to hike through for a few hours. The silence was deafening once that the roar of the fall were left behind. The door shrank as they proceeded forward.

The ceiling was low and uneven. Often, they needed to crouch to squeeze through to higher vaults in the tunnel. A small brook, mostly frozen, was trickling to the west. They hiked for some 300 yds in difficult terrain and tight squeezes until the rangers motioned to keep still. Something was stirring ahead. Goldo moved forward in hope to shed light. Only some faint motion could be perceived. Khazek swiftly ordered the rangers to spread out. At the edge of the light, they kneeled in a squeeze and readied their bows. Time stood still.

The ambush sprang on them as a countless ghoulish creatures tore from the dark towards their positions. It was dark, the little breathable air was filled with the steam from their breath and the echoes of dozens of screeching roars.

Beyond the wall, in a glance.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Khareo's Tale #7 - Fairies and lizards

Shadows in the night

Karim, self-portrait.
Karim was shuffling in the dark on his way back from a day's work. He knew that something was wrong, but couldn't explain why until he heard the muffled steps of feet on the pavement. He slipped behind a pile of refuse and let the shape of two hooded men walk away. Something was indeed wrong: He could smell danger. 

They came back a few minutes later as he resumed his walk. This time, there was no way to hide: the hooded men came from ahead and from behind. Karim climbed up a waterspout and reached the roof of a building. Four hooded men arrived and saw him slip away. Karim was scared. He peered down to try to find out who his pursuer were. 

Leila was a tree fairy. She had little to worry about for as long as her plum tree remained a secret. That night, she was fluttering over the sleeping city when she spotted a panting boy on the roof of a house. Below, there was a number of agitated hooded men. 

Curisosity got the best of her as she flew down to see what was going on. She could see three men. She flicked her fingers an lit the nose of one of them with a bright light. The light revealed the face of a lizard. Leila felt the cold in her hands, but mustered enough mana to summon more magic. Dust flitted from her hand but got swept away in the wind. The lizardmen were startled by this sudden light and stopped paying attention. Karim took advantage of this distraction to climb down on the other side of the house. 

Leila guided Karim through the streets without showing herself. When they got close to Kassandra's home, she became visible.  She led the way through dark streets until they were safe as the hooded lizardmen were converging all around. Kassandra shut the door, hid Karim under the table and held her breath. The footsteps grew distant down the street. 

There was something about this boy that she couldn't put her finger on. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Tolkien-style Huorns for GURPS

Huorns (Grumpy, evil, barely sentient trees)

ST: 16 1d+1 imp, 2d+2 crHP: 16 X 4 (homogeneous)Speed: 5.00
DX: 8Will: 11Move: 2
IQ: 6Per: 10
HT: 12FP: 12SM: +3
Dodge: 5 (trunk), 8 (limbs)Parry: 10DR: 3 (Trunk), 1 (limbs)

Traits: Callous, Dislike (animals), Terror I

Skills: Brawling-14, Wrestling-15, Wrestle(Sweep)-14

Gears: Huorns are gearless.  They have a face, which can be spotted at Per-3 and then targeted. The face contain one seeing eye. Without this eye, Per goes down to 8 and is based on motion alone. 

Tactics: They use their limbs to either impale (thrust), sweep, crush (swing) or grapple. Against multiple foes, they will use sweep to hit many in one attack (up to 3 linear yards). If they impale, they will use the impaling limb to exert control points (CP) on their victim (for those of you using GURPS MA:Technical Grappling). If there is a need to hit hard, they can use their limbs to cause a 2d+2 crushing. If advantageous, all attacks can be considered to be coming from above, except for sweeps

Why they are awesome: Multiple limbs! A Huorn is made of a trunk (2 X base HP) and three limbs (16HP each).  Killing the trunk neutralizes the huorn, even though it doesn't destroy it. Consider the limbs to be freely moving around the creature at an angular speed of 1/2 rotation per game turn (This means a full slam from one side to the other. All three limbs can perform independent attacks as if they were three individuals. This makes the huorn a potent foe. 

A Huorn was featured in the session report of Reclaiming Khazad-dum's "The botanical Educations of dwarves".

Saturday, November 16, 2013

052 - Snuffing lives: the end of the Palantir Commission Campaign.

Before you read on, none of the deaths were PC deaths. So there, the title is misleading but the post isn't. The Palantir Commission has run its course. This post is the last session report for it, although a character-wise epilogue post will follow (so we can all have some closure).

Ulrich, 324 y.o., ice troll, tumbled down, way down.

I tossed my rock at a little archer, but she stepped aside. Across the room, I saw Armech fall to the ground for no obvious reason, Erlich was teetering. The intruders were streaming up the stairs and were about to break into the temple hall. I jumped over the bannister in an attempt to stomp on the little archer. I missed by a yard, slipped on the snowy stairs and toppled into the void (critical fail). My hand caught the stairs on the other side. I swivelled down by one swirl of the spiral staircase.  I landed on my back, with slightly more than my body overhanging, the snow under me turned to ice as a I slipped.

It didn't hurt, I landed head first on Merloch, who tumbled down the shaft at few minutes ago when the invaders first attempted to get to the temple. It could have been worst.

Erlich, 578 y.o., ice troll, humanely disposed of by a hobbit

I tossed my rock at the leader of the invaders. He, and the little bearded northmen had spoiled our surprise. Me was angry. My rock missed the mark and rolled down the stairs into the wall. To my left, Armech fell over backward for no particular reason. The last thing that I remember is the sight of a knight waving a twig at me. I blacked out. 

I wasn't awake when the battle was over, that Farathu lay dead on the floor and all of my friends but Borkum had died. I wan't awake to plead for mercy: a little hobbit gently walked to me and snuffed my life with a few strokes of a sword. I had so much potential.

Armech, 221 y.o., ice troll, inhumanely disposed of by a hobbit

I didn't even had the time to throw my stone when I felt the choking grip of witchcraft on my throat. I remember the look of Ulrich as I slipped backward and hit my head on the stone bench against the wall. 

When I woke up, both my eyes had been gouged and I couldn't find my bearings. The pain was searing. I could hear the rumours of battle, but I knew that my fate was decided. I tried to stand up once or twice, then I passed out for good.  

KerKhan, 324 y.o., ice troll, his last straw was a... knee lock

KerKhan is enjoying his last second in the upright position.
By the time that I managed to shoot my rock, a hobbit and an elf (without a nose) had run by me. I missed the elf by an inch! I jumped over the bannister and slammed into a Lossoth warrior (Nilppi). The lossoth made a crunchy noise and never stood up from my slam, at least until I expired. 

A little bearded Northling grabbed on to me. I tried to push him off, but he instead latched on with both arms and legs. There was no way that I could get rid of him (10 CP, pretty helpless). A dwarf sung his hammer at me, but I dodged it. Two more humans in chainmails moved forward. The chubby one with a longsword stabbed me in the arm, the other scratched me on the chest. I couldn't do much: even the filthy elf was coming back to hit me from the rear. 

My best bet was to try to jump backward over the bannister in an attempt to pop the northling off my chest. My jump attempt failed, badly: my foot got caught and I hit the bannister at the height of my shoulder blades. In the reclining position, I noticed that reinforcement had arrived! Farathu used his irresistible shout to force the Northling to let go. Borkum was picking up a stone bench to throw at the invaders. The dwarf tried to hit me on the head, but their leader managed to sink his sword deep into my throat. Out of breath, in utter pain, I could feel the Northling grabbing on to my leg but I couldn't shake him off. I don't know how he did this, but he snapped my knee backward. The shockwave ripped up my spine and I finally closed my eyes. 

An airborne stone bench grazed my cheek and slammed heavily on the invaders. But this is not part of my story: I was dead by the time that the bench hit the ground. 

Farathu, 4 y.o., Winter Drake, beheaded in his sleep by a warhammer (ouch!)

Less than a second before Farathu lose his head.
I am the campaign supervillain. I was a little unimpressed when Borkum roused me from my sleep with the news that there was invaders in the temple hall. By the time that we arrived in the hall, KerKhan was swarmed by them. I used my command to force the Northling to let go: he rolled off KerKhan and slipped from my sight. 

By then, KerKhan had been mortally hit at the neck by an inordinately tall man in chainmail. I caught the glimpse of another knight in the background waving a wand at me. His magic was weak, but I flukily was weaker. It was bedtime for this drake. 

I could feel Borkum dragging me on the ground, I was about to wake up. A blind dwarf was running in my general direction, I knew this dwarf... the invaders were the demon slayers from Forochel! My last memory of the screech of a possessed warhammer shearing my head off before I could move it out of the way. 

Borkum, 322 y.o., ice troll, retired to live another day

When I opened the door, a lossoth lay dead on the stairs while the other invaders were swarming KerKhan. I picked up a stone bench and threw it at the knights. The dwarf dodged, the leader mostly got out of the way but got hit on his leg. The brunt of the bench's mass landed on the third knight's groin. He should have died, but he didn't. He instead teetered until the elf caught him and used his witchcraft to prop him up for good. 

I pulled Farathu out of harm's way, but got overtaken by one of them hobbits. The dwarf ran up to the drake and pinned his head against the ground. I panicked and ran off to the hoard room. Some of the invader followed me there. The hobbit tried to make me surrender, but the nicer knight told me that my life would be spared if I helped them recover a large glass sphere. The sphere was across the chasm, and the little bearded Northling tried to make me jump across to get to it. 

The invaders were pretty smart: they found a secret door in the temple which lead to the hoard. They stuffed their pockets with as much gold as they could carry. I carried the big rock for them as we hiked out of the temple and through the valley. We parted the following morning. I was free, and frankly I still don't know what to do with freedom. 

There is a twist, which will be explained in the epilogue post!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Snow Elemental for GURPS

A Snow Elemental for GURPS


Shapithui is a voxel-based monster of size SM +3. It is a lich-form wraith which manifest itself as a 50 cubic yard animated entity of snow and ice. It isn't bound to specific snow/ice, but cannot exists in a smaller volume. Once a given cubic yard is possessed, Shapithui can use it to move like an amoeba: remove a block from somewhere and grow it back somewhere else. Shapithui's main strategy is to trap and smother its foes under pillars or walls of ice.

Shapithui's heart is one block (1 cubic yard) in which the tribal totem of the elders of Mulkan was inserted centuries ago. This allows elder Tiani to communicate with Shapithui as a fellow tribe member. Tiani's grip on Shapithui is not as good as the lore claims: the demon considers the Southron Stones to be his own, but cannot harm the Lossoths of his own tribe and thus must let them keep the stones for the time being. Shapithui is immortal, he is a patient demon.

An account of this snow elemental is found here. The PCs ended up fighting the demons as wraiths, which wasn't exactly planned when I designed the creature. 


ST 18, DX 10, IQ 8, HT 10, FP:- HP: special, Per:8, Will:10, SM+3, Move:(7, amoebic)
Traits: Unliving, Homogeneous, Controled by Magic, blind (Perceive auras at +4), 

Made of 50 blocks: 49 X HP39 1X1X1yd + 1 heart HP 20 DR5(semi-ablative)

Fighting against an Elemental


Shapithui must maintain a connection to the snow/ice pack at all time. He can extend over rocks and pavements, but cannot "disconnect" from the frozen ground. Shapithui can move up to 7 blocks of snow/ice per turn:
  • Release one block and claim a new one from existing snow or ice which is in contact with its own body. This is is main mode of movement where he can snake under the snow or in ice without being seen. Hearing the creaks is an easy (+2) hearing check or a hard (-3) vision check.
  • Absorb one block (remove from board) and grow another one above ground level (add a block). The growth must be in contact with the body, but can either be placed above or to the side of an existing one. The Absorption cab be done from under the feet of opponents.
  • Break away one stack of blocks and pivot it such that the blocks fall to the ground. This counts as a single move, regarless of the size of the stack.


Each block is made of 64lb or snow, ice, rocks, branches and bones scraped from the ground. Each has 32 HP and is considered homogeneous for the purpose of damage multipliers (X 1/2 impaling, etc.).  The damage cause varies with the block's position in the stack. Blocks falling from:
  • 1 yd: 1d-1
  • 2 yds: 1d+1
  • 3 yds: 1d+2
  • 4 yds: 1d+3
  • 5 yds: 2d
  • 6 yds: 2d+1, and so on...
The damage type caused by a falling block depend on the block's content: roll 3d6: 
  • 6 or less : impaling (Ice, bones, branches)
  • 7,8,12,13 : cut (Ice, assorted blade fragments)
  • 9-11: crushing (stones, bulk snow) 
  • 14+: Pi++ (bones, branches)


Once that a player has been slammed into the ground by falling snow by failing a dodge, the character is itself buried under. The character will be disoriented and must succeed a Per-2 check to figure out which way to dig in order to pull out. There is no need to check if the head or at least half of the body isn't buried. As per normal rules, a suffocating character incurs 1FP of damage per second while either the head or chest are buried. 

Breaking free is resolved similarly to a grapple against a ST 13 foe. Add +1 ST per block on top of a character (ST 14 if buried under two blocks). Others may assist if they succeed the a quick contest against the appropriate ST. In all cases, pulling out from Shapithui incurs 1d-2 damage (determine the type as described above). 

Moving over Shapithui

Shapithui growing a pillard to strike the wraiths.
All movement over Shapithui are done in rough footing (-1 to attack, -2 to defend), which may not be such a big deal since all snow and ice environment are already rough footing. Climbing 1 yds during a move action costs 2 MP, or 1 to end-up kneeling (SM0, SM1) or Lying down (SM-1). SM2 foe are not significantly affected by a 1 yd step. Standing up while a block is absorbed or grown requires a DX or acrobatic (whichever is better) or end kneeling (lying down on critical fails). 

Attacking Shapithui

Each block has 32 HP of homogeneous material. The elemental doesn't feel pain nor has any organs other than for the heart block. A major wound, causing 15 HP in one blow, expels the spirit from the block and also to all other blocks that depended in the collapsed block to connect to the heart. Discard all these blocks for the rest of the engagement. If there is enough snow or ice to be claimed around, Shapithui will regain these blocks at a rate of 2HP per day (16 days per blocks). If Shapithui is caught on pavement or rock, the loss of block is permanent. 

The company are going after Shapithui's heart.
The Heart is a special block which occurs randomly within the creature. The creature isn't aware of the position of its heart until it is struck and that it can feel pain. The position of the heart will be determined randomly. Seeking the heart is done at Per-3 if a character is actively searching for it and more than 1/2 of the blocks are in LOS to the character. If only 25 blocks are visible, the check is Per-4, 12 blocks mean Per-5, Per-6 for 6 blocks, Per-7 for 3 and Per-8 for 1 blocks only. If a character is not taking a concentrate action, the check is done at a -2 penalty. Finding the heart shouldn't be an easy feat and require a lot of agile footwork. Once a block is found, mark it as such.

The heart of a solid piece of clear ice which can be covered with dirt and snow at its surface. The heart itself has 20 HP and a semi-ablative DR5. Penetrating damage will expose the totem, which can be removed with a quick contest vs ST 13. Further penetrating damage reduces the ST by 1 each time. Shapithui will feel pain if the heart is struck. Suffering shock and attempting to bury its heart for 1 turn before becoming oblivious of its location again. If the heart is destroyed, Shapithui will return to the ground and regroup at the same rate as  described. The heart forming first.

Ripping the totem

Removing the totem from the heart will free the demon to do what he wants. And what he wants is to absorb the masterstone of Amon Sul as its new heart. Devoid of tribal affiliations, Shapithui would certainly enjoy a little retribution against Mulkan before vanishing deep into the frozen wastes of Forodwaith. 

Replacing the totem by shoving another one in its heart will make Shapithui oblivious to the tribe members, but in absence of a controlling elder, Shapithui will proceed on its own free will.

Friday, November 8, 2013

051 - The Numarii King

This session began where the last one ended, in the middle of an interrogation of an orc sergeant that had been put to sleep by Kasper's elf twig hoodoo voodoo. 

Thannolf bent down to the orc's face and repeated his question. The orcs smiled but didn't answer. The northerling lost patience and locked his elbow at a very awkward angle. The orc tapped out from pain and told the company that the dwarves should still be loyal to Farathu. Halin kicked him as they decided to let him go. The only way out was back to his bethren (and into certain death).

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

K18 - Cold rain over Mirkwood

This session introduced our new PCs and se the stage for the next chapter of the campaign. 

The dust is settling over Browek Bridge

At the end of the last session, the Mirkwood elves had learned from the dwarves that there was an orc nest with live elven sacrifice deep underground. Gormiel, the leader of the elves, managed to secure one of the key from Khazek. Four of them entered Sarn Goriwig, four accompanied the dwarves back to Browek Bridge while two other remained at large. After a few hours of grueling hiking, the orb was safe within the dwarf fort. 

On the following day, Drolf appropriated the second key of Sarn Goriwig and handed it to Gror. Drolf announced that the Ardacer was to leave to open the road while Gror would stay behind to hold the bridge. Gror, worried about giant spiders and orcs, ordered the Ledge-Lot to close the perimeter and the rangers to take stock of the surroundings. Gror's hold on the troop was very good (MoS 3), and his defensive plan excellent (MoS 3). The combination of patrols by the rangers and his own axmen allowed him to build a precise mental map of the surroundings (Intelligence Analysis, critical success).  The bulk of the orcs had melted away soon after their expedition within the tower. The reasons of this scattering was unknown, but probably related to the death of the wizard. 

Khazek, now solely at the head of 21 rangers, launched into increasingly far reaching patrols. His command of the troop was adequate (MoS 0), his tracking effort highly effective (MoS 7), which was instrumental in providing Gror with a clear situational awareness. About a few days later, Gormiel linked with the ranger. The tower was sealed, and elven wraiths were haunting it for now. Khazek realized that Gormiel was uncomfortable with the situation. Gormiel told Khazek that Prince Imeptanen was on his way to Browek Bridge to resolve the dispute over the ownership of the orb and the tower.   

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Blowback and Character awards for "The Palantir Commission"

This last session was rather eventful. Here are the awards and things to keep in mind for tomorrow the next session.

  • Arnadil
    • Lasting effect: Claw wound on chest while in dirty water, possible infection.
    • Lasting effect: To fullfill your compulsive carousing after all this excitement, you must get yourself to the drunk level (or else get bad temper...) once that the company has a down time. You aren't sure that you'll have enough booze to get there. Maybe the orcs have a stash of moonshine... It was a hard day, and it ain't over.
    • 2 cp in whatever makese sense, or 1 LUCK point.
  • Finbert
    • Great session! 1 free cp for the spotlight award.
    • 2 cp to whatever you want (stealth would make sense, but your are free with them)
  • Halin
    • Lastin effect: Uncorrected nearsighteness. -2 combat, -6 PER. You may use your one scratched lense and have -2 PER while using one hand. You are temporarily under a Social Stigma (infirm) for as long as you are squinting this heavily.
  • Irina
    • Whoa swordplay girl! 1 cp to shortsword and 2 cp to a brand new HP (ceiling raised, not actual HP!)
    • Lasting effect: You have a bleeding gash in your chest. You may want to put a bandage on that!
    • Lasting effect: How many arrows are left again?
  • Kasper
    • 1 cp into Fear (yes, a critical spell failure is a learning moment).
    • 1 cp into Panic (the old staple)
    • 1 cp into tactics.
  • Nilppi
    • 1 LUCK point
  • Nimrodel
    • Lasting effect: you are missing a nose!
      • No sense of smell (disadvantage)
      • -2 reactions because you are grotesquely disfigured.
    • 1 cp into bow
    • 1 cp into Fast draw
  • Thannolf
    • Lasting effect: You are traumatized by the close call on your groin area, for this one session alone, you must break off combat reach of your opponent if you fail an active defence. The effect is dispelled once you cause someone's bodily harm and get your mojo on (HP, FP or pain damage).  
    • 2 cp into whatever makes sense. 
    • 1 cp into tactics (you learned a lot doing pitched battled this time).

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Naugrim Path of Ritual Magic

Gesdrek's Compendium of Naugrim arts

These rituals uses the Energy Accumulation variant of Ritual Path Magic. Base time in low-mana 1h for dwarven practitioners.  The cost of rituals is indicated within []. The mystic powers derive from Ritual Magic (Naugrim Arts). Each chapter is considered to be a Path, with specified default. Path skills cannot exceed Ritual Magic (Naugrim arts). Each individual spell is a hard technique. 
  • Chapter 1 - Ritual Fires (defaults to -6)
    • Salamander Fire [8] : Invoke salamanders which will live in the furnace of a forge to attain the extremely temperatures required for the making of many enchanted alloys.
      • Requires a missing rune, and Khazad-dum's "True-Coal".
    • Cold Fire [15] : Ignite Khazad-dum's cold forge with the help of a mystic drummer. 
      • You are key missing runes for this ritual.
      • The mystic drummer may be Tov
  • Chapter 2 - Shaping Earth (defaults to -4)
    • Earthquake [6] : Used for mining dangerous veins, dislodging dangerous rocks overhead and the defensive collapse of caves. 
      • Missing at least one rune to cast this
    • Magma Surge (volcano) [6] : Manipulate lava flow to create Laen (Enchanted volcanic glass) and for defensive purposes. 
      • Will work only within Khazad-dum apparently. 
    • Hasten Geological Processes [10] : Unknown use. You have fragments of information on the ritual but are missing too much for it to be used.
  • Chapter 3 - Communication (defaults to -2)
    • Ancient History (Cost as per M106):  Cast Ancient History on rocks that are first marked with a run. Can be used as History spell on marked stone if the rune uses Moon-metal (which you don't have). 
      • This is the only ritual that you can perform at the moment.
  • Chapter 4 - Mystical alloys (default to -3)
    • Eog [8], extremely hard, rare steel-alloy
    • Ithildin [2], Moon Metal, run writing. Mithril derivative.
    • Ithilnaur [2], very hard, weapon and armor, Mithril derivative.
    • Laen [5], Volcanic glass.
    • Mithril [4] , True-Silver. 
    • Ogamur [3], Magic bow string
    • Tasarung [3], glowing, flexible, unstretchable fibers.
    • Non-magical (Khazad-dum specific): 
      • Ardacer: very hard. Can cleave steel.
      • Galnin: Aluminum, light and strong.
      • Naukomalda, dwarven gold, glows.
      • Neukotelpe, dwarven silver, glows.
  • Chapter 5 - Runes (Not a Path)
    • Rune Syntax and Semantics ( your reference for Symbol drawing)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Gesdrek Delver, Loremaster of Erebor

Lets define Gesdrek by attempting to piece together fragments of his biography. 

Gesdrek according to Throdar, son of Ilkrik

There is more to Gesdrek than the eyes can see. I can't quite pin down anything substantial about his past other than he came from the Gray Mountain at the same time as Balin. Gesdrek made my sword, he is a keen smith and an erudite. Yet, his demeanour is very unassuming. When you talk to him, it does feel like he let you in only on the surface of things. 

Character Award for Reclaiming Khazad-dum

Every player receive a 1 LUCK point award. This LUCK point can be used to reroll 1 to 3 dices on a single check. Alternatively, 
  • Arne 
    • 1 LUCK point
    • Vadek
      • What will Vadek do with the Obsidian Rod? Drolf would be amenable to buy the trinket from you.
    • Bain
      • Roleplaying Vadek throught this chapter: You may spend 4 cp on Bain, this must somehow make sense with what he has been up to: preparing for the Emerald's departure, travelling from Erebor to Browek Bridge (where the adventure will resume) 
  • Jason
    • 1 LUCK point
    • Khazek
      • Khazek has gained an artifact Dagger ( highest quality, yet to be determined properties)
      • Khazek has gained an Obsidian rod.
      • Khazek had 2cp on Acrobatics or climbing from the previous session, did you spent them?
      • 4cp: What did Khazek learned in this chapter? Wrestling? Dagger and sword? Hidden Lore?
  • Paul
    • 1 LUCK point for Throdar
    • Thordar
      • 2 cp in survival (forest) or survival (woodland) 
      • 2 cp worth of contacts/allies within the Emerald-Unit
  • Douglas
    • 1 LUCK point for Gesdrek
    • Gesdrek
      • 2 cp worth of contact/allies within the Emerald-Unit
      • 1 cp Area Knowledge (Mirkwood)
      • 1 cp Cartography
  • Gordon
    • 1 LUCK point for Gror
    • Gror
      • 1 cp Intelligence Gathering
      • 1 cp Strategy
      • 1 cp Leadership
      • 1 cp survival (forest)

  • Drolf has gained 1 artifact dagger.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

K17 - Yavanna's eye

Heading back to the light...

The dwarven company turned to Drolf for guidance. Gimvar's shoulder was mangled and the ranger was on the cusp of collapse. The wraith had had the best of Donarik, which was laying on the ground, breathing weakly. Gimvar, usually a go getter, reminded the company that to get in the Obsidian Tower, they had to bypass a large force of Mirkwood orcs camping a few kilometers down the vale.

Vadek was fidgeting with the obsidian rod. The air coming from beyond the gate was bad. Any dwarf could tell that unless some mechanical pumping of air from the surface was arranged, that this cave would soon become dangerous. Drolf, Kalin and Khazek seemed to be more interested in the daggers pulled out of the elves. Without much debate, they agreed to try to get out of the tower before the trap sprang on them for good. 

They dragged Donarik up the tunnel, into the great hall where the Huorn died. As they passed by the hall's door, Khazek noticed that the elven wraith was circling slowly above the green orb. Donarik was put down against the stairway's walls. Gimvar and Kalin sat down for a rest. Khazek, Vadek and Drolf entered the hall to inspect the orc once more.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Thordar, son of Ilkrik, the Viceroy's invisible hand

TA 2971 ( 63 years ago )

Thordar was the first born of Ilkrik "StoutHearth". Thordar was born in a long lineage of Kings' butlers. He grew in the muffled comfort of Dain II Ironfoot's personal quarters in Erebor.  At this time, Dain was going through a rough patch, and was drinking heavily. His brother, Bain StoneTongue was keeping a close eye on the sovereign to preserve the King's dark secret. Since Thordar could easily walk through the King's personal quarters, Bain took upon himself to train the child as a first line observer. Thordar grew fond of the King and his brother. Most notably, his quick thinking saved Dain II from death after a day of excessive drinking.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

K16 - The cystic mire

The company of dwarves had barged into an obsidian cave.  In this cave, a statue of the now dead green wizard towered over an orc's nest. Drolf jumped down and hit an orc hard that the orc expired on the spot. Kalin and Vadek engaged the two other orcs that had once worked by the mud pit.  The orcs didn't last for long.

The tactical map of the cave as used on roll20.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Gror, son of Bain.

TA 2930 - Gror is Born ( 119 years ago)

Gror was the first born of Bain, son of Nain III and Brother of Dain III Ironfoot, King of the Iron Hills. He was taught from the start that he was to behave like a King in case that the lineage of Dain II failed. This information never came from the mouth of his father, Bain Stonetongue, who never uttered out loud the possibility of such the failure. This rather came from his mother, who was a very pragmatic matriarch.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

050 - Noseless in Middle-Earth

... or as +Zack Mackay puts it, "Fear and Nosing in Middle-Earth".

Kicking up dust

Nimrodel and Nilppi walked up the valley road towards the orc camp. The goal was to draw the orc army's attention as soon as possible. While the elf remained alert, bow at the ready, the lossoth hunter busied himself throwing dust up in the air to make himself seen. A keen eye would have probably noticed the hobbit creeping overhead off the mountain side. A keener eye would have been required to spot Irina perched above the back gate of the Numarii fort that the company had just cleared. She stood there, motionless, behind a large rock with her bow in hand. 

The rest of the company had fashioned heavy curtain by weaving all sorts of rubbish and orc cots together to make it hard to rush through the open door. The contraption was a sigh for sore eyes, but would probably be heavy enough to cramp the orcs' style for a moment. 

Nimrodel spotted two wargs in the camp. That was just about when Nilppi's dusty mess drew their attention. The two companions sprinted back to the gate to gain high ground.

Thus tumbled down an elven nose

The first wave of orcs to rush away from the camp was 20 strong. Among them, two wargs and their riders. Nilppi climbed above the gate on the cliff side and readied his weapons. Nimrodel found a good shooting nook and arrayed his ammunition. The wargs didn't overtook the orcs and seemed to match the group's speed. Both Irina and Nimrodel had a limited stock of arrows and decided to hold fire until the orcs were in range. Irina mowed four in the last leg of their charge, while Nimrodel cut two down. 

Arnadil prompted Kasper to make the best use of his magic elven wand and "do his trick". Kasper gave him a puzzled look, but obliged. A wave of panic filled the valley and sent the majority of the orcs running away from the gate. A warg rider was attempting to rally the troops, but without luck. Nimrodel and Irina zeroed on the leader right away. Irina almost sprained her wrist in the heat of the moment and was left defenceless. Just at this time, Nimrodel placed an arrow into the warg, with no great effect. Nilppi sprang from his hiding spot and jumped down the cliff side down to meet the warg. 

The charge had failed: most orcs that didn't get terrorized by Kasper's magic had turned around anyway to follow their allies. Nimrodel's fancy footwork as he shot caused him to slip (critical fail #1) and tumble down the cliff. He ended at the bottom of the cliff in the crouched position, presenting his head to the last orc still charging (he failed to notice that he was almost the only one left in the charge). The orc sliced Nimrodel's nose almost cleanly from his face. The elf, in shock, recoiled to protect himself while Halin the dwarf rammed through the orc and knocked him dead. From then on, the company was out of one cartilaginous appendage.

While Irina, now out of arrows, rushed down to the ground to tend to Nimrodel's profuse bleeding. Nilppi and Thannolf were working together to flank the warg. Thannolf's well placed Lossoth's dagger punctured the beast's lungs and knocked it unconscious.  The rider fell to the ground only to get skewered by Arnadil. He arrived just on time to look good (after fighting off a few orcs on his way). 

Irina did stop the bleeding, and the elf used his elven healing to bring himself from the brink of death ( -4 hit points ). The orcs that once were on the run were starting to regroup some 500m down the road. Time for round two.


Keeping the eye off Frodo... ahem Finbert

The plan called for making enough noises to allow Finbert to slip to the orc camp and scope the entrance of the Numariis. Finbert noticed that a second wave of orcs had waited for an orc leader to get outfitted before leaving the camp. Some 20 other orcs left at the jog to link with their companions at some point down the road. Finbert leaned against a rock and determined that there was no more than 10 orcs left in the camp: all of them squinting to find out what was going on at the other end of the valley. 

The second wave, combined with what was left of the first one, didn't attempt to enter the gate. They stood there, jeering and shooting the occasional arrow at the company members. Poo was flung in the process, which was a nice touch. Nothing was happening at the other end of the valley.

Finbert took advantage of this situation to slip by the camp and walk through the open gate of the Numariis. The first gate didn't have door and lead into a kill zone room similar to the first Numarii's entrance. The room was dark and cool. Finbert slipped along the wall until a faint noise caught his attention.

Finbert isn't dropping no eaves on the dwarves.
Through the murderholes on his left, he could hear the muffled voices of dwarves arguing in the Naugrim language. Finbert considered slipping past the open doors at the end of the killzone, but decided instead to back down for the moment.

He sneaked into the camp to find many cooking fires. The tents were filled with straw beddding. Finbert managed to set a few of the tents on fire without being noticed. As he was plotting more destruction, he heard the rumours of many armored feet coming from within the citadel. He slipped out of the camp and found a hiding nook just on time to miss a wave of roaring dwarves.

There was about 10 of them, and the overran the camp: burning what was left and slaying the remaining orcs. When the dwarves were done, they stopped and debated while looking at the far end of the valley. The smoke of the burning tents drew the besieging orcs' attention. A great many of them abandoned the stalemate against the company and ran back to their camp.

The dwarves hurried around to create chokepoints amid the smoke. They were about to fight the orcs! Finbert smiled and began the tedious way back to the company. 

Thus tumbled down a pair of dwarven spectacles

Nilppi lying down after a critical fail, Irina badly hurt on her chest, Halin looking for his
spectacles on the ground, and noseless Nimrodel hidden beyond the gate.
Not exactly the most glorious moment of the company.
The company had braced for a big showdown into the entrance hall. To their disappointment, the orcs didn't dare barging into an obvious trap. When most of the orcs ran back to their camp, Nilppi didn't wait for a cue to launch into a pursuit. About 5 orcs sprang from cover to meet with the lossoth hunter. The company was taken aback by the tactical soundness of the remaining orcs. Halin, perched up above the gate had a rock ready to push down. However, as the company poured out of the gate, he decided to change tactics to flank the green mob.  After a brief conga line to get out of the gate, the company fanned out to engage the orcs. This is when things started to go bad. Nilppi, about to strike slipped on a flung orc dung that was steaming on the ground. Thannolf and Kasper moved into to cover the lossoth.  Halin, some 5 yards overhead, began a charge down. Quickly, the charge turned into a tumble, then into a bowling strike against the nearest orc. The orc was knocked out alright, but in the process Halin lost his spectacles. The world turned into a whirl of blurry sploshes while the dwarf was feeling around. At this point, Thannolf would have suffered a major wound to the groin, but we figured out that his +1 to active defence due to combat reflex saved him. Arnadil had taken on two orcs and Irina, sword in hand for the first time in this campaign's history, moved in to fill a gap. The orc thrusted his sword into her chest, shattering a few mail loops and causing her great pain (Picture above taken at this moment).

This was the low point, Nimrodel's arrows rescued Irina who moved on to strike at orcs in anger. The last orc to fall was their leader. He collapsed to the ground without a strike. From the other end of the melee, Kasper was waving theatrically his pair of elven wands.  

An orc with no hope... wait... nope.

Halin's spectacles go crushed during the tumble, making him now a card carrying member of the nearsighted club (-2 combat, -6 Perception, ouch). Irina tended her own wound briefly to stop the blood flow. Nilppi wiped his foot on some rocks. At the other end of the valley, orcs and dwarves were about to clash and nobody in the company could have explained why. 

They gathered around the sleeping orc sergeant and kicked him until he woke up. The orc considered his options and realized that he was dead. With nothing to lose, he jeered and insulted the company in hope to the slain before he had to say anything useful. The company tightened the ring around him as Halin gave him the best string of dwarven expletives that money can buy. Kasper even used his elven wands to bolster the dwarf in his attempt to take control of the raving orc. 

The attempt was successful, the orc was cowed into silence, his chance to meet a quick death dashed. The company got out of him that orcs and dwarves hated each other. That, the master would skin the company members alive when he'd chose to. When prompted as to whom was the master, the orc replied "Farathu". 

Thannolf roughed him up, trying to get more out of him. But the orc smiled, he knew that he was about to die. "And so will you", he concluded with a smile.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

K15 - The orc's nest

This report is the second part of Session 10 - The Botanical Educations of dwarves. The first part can be found here. This report is incomplete and will conclude during our next session. +Douglas Cole posted some notes about this session here

Barging in...

The companions caught their breath after the fall of the huorn. The defunct tree straddled from the edge of the cliff down to a small opening leading down deeper under Sarn Goriwig. The dwarves decided to explore the way down in hope to find what the wizard didn't want them to find.

The orc's nest under Sarn Goriwig
The tunnel was winding at a steep angle. It lead some 50 yards below into another large chamber made of obsidian. The dwarves were advancing at a good pace and found themselves on an elevated platform. The platform turned into a wooden bridge. The pavement of the bridge crossed most of the room some 2-3 yards above ground. The front dwarves spotted right away an orc archer on guard beside a rough statue made of wood. To their right, there were at least two more orcs working around a large pit of mud surrounded by pillars.

The dwarves charged ahead at full steam. Donarik stayed behind to take aim while Khazek, Vadek and Drolf rushed through to get to the archer. Uncle Kalin and Gimvar slid down the way to get to the other orcs faster.

Drolf blocked an arrows and overran the archer with a sweep. The orc tumbled to his knees as Donarik's arrow hit its chest. Seeing Khazek and Vadek barging in, he slipped down the way to hide by the base of the statue.

Friday, October 11, 2013

049 - One big, elaborate dwarven joke.

The Entrance of the Numarii dwarves.

Walking knowingly into a trap

The gate under the mountain was adorned by two large statues of drakes. The gate itself was made of solid steel. At its center, there was a ring. Two flames shone like bright beacons atop pillars from which the mechanism of a draw bridge was secured. A canal crossed the hall, some 3 meters deep. Dark water was flowing from left to right through a pair of grates.

The company looked around in suspicion. Irina was the first to cross the bridge. She approached the steel gate and kicked it. Her toes absorbed the shock: no sound was heard. This door was in a wholly different league as the last three. Arnadil drew from his past as a fortification engineer to inspect the draw bridge. He noticed that the floor off the far wall was in fact a platform. The platform was made of slates and a steel structure that was bracketed at both ends and off the pillars opposite to him.

While Halin was prompted to inspect the structure, Nilppi got Thannolf to help him fathom the canal. There was only about a foot of water, and the current was marginal. Nilppi lowered himself with the help of a rope. The water was foul smelling and oily on its surface. Nilppi didn't made much sense of the steel structure underneath the floor until Halin got himself down there. The old masterdwarf had carefully removed his armor before taking a dip. It became obvious to him that the brackets holding the platform were moving components of some larger mechanism. Halin noticed that the platform would probably swivel down if the mechanism was triggered.

Nilppi, unable to grok dwarven engineering, headed to the upstream grate. At first, he thought that he heard a noise and stopped. He stretched his neck and drew his torch though the bars to see farther outward. A shockwave of roars rammed into the grate. A wall of claws and bony faces pressed senseless against the bars. Nilppi stepped back, some other members of the company readied their bows.

By the time that they had decided what to make of this. The brawling ghouls had turned against each other and drifted out of sight. The clamor died down. The company turned to the gate. The whole thing smelled bad. The choice left was walking into the trap, or go home.

Waddling in the wading pool

They knew that things would have to get bad before they got better. Two ropes were strung across the hall. They ran between the dragon statues: one on the ground and one at chest level. A third rope was tied to the ring on the door. Kasper, Nilppi and Irina got themselves on the ground-level rope such that they would not fall down if the platform was to collapse. The rest of the company returned to the near side of the canal to tug on the third rope. The pulled on the ring, which slid out smoothly. 

Nilppi jumped in style.
Predictably, the platform swung down into the water and the grates opened at both ends. The gate clicked open. The three company members balanced themselves against the wall. Kasper grabbed the door and slipped beyond. The disappointment was sharp when he realized that the gate lead to a room the size of a closet which housed the trap's mechanism. Nilppi dodged the claws of the ghouls by shoving Kasper into the closet. Irina considered jumping in, but one of the ghoul was in the process of chewing up the rope on which she stood. 

 Nimrodel and Finbert were shooting freely into the pit. Arnadil took a leap and knocked a ghoul off balance on his way down. When the rest of the company realized that he was now in close combat against 6 raving ghouls, they began jumping in as well. Nilppi first, then Kasper dove with his longsword swinging. Thannolf took a flying jump and snapped with his knee the head from one of the ghoul's spine. The ghoul fell in the water, then stood back on its feet. 

The melee was made of an unstructured mix of good and bad guys. Arnadil got clawed on his chest and blood started to drip from his armor. His attempt to retaliate was more spiteful than effective: his sword hit the ground and bent his wrist at a questionable angle (critical fail, crippled hand for 30 minutes). Thannolf, still hot in the collar from his super cool entrance grappled the ghouls from behind and tugged at its head. Halin hit hard but failed to silence the beast which fell only after Thannolf sliced its head with his sacred Lossoth knife. That was the last one still standing.

The company discovered that the ghouls didn't want to stay down. They had to hit them until their bodies were mechanically destroyed. Once that the smallest parts of the ghouls were too small to be articulated, only a floating mess of writhing flesh was left drifting to the right grate with the current. 

The Palantir commission as a novelty act

Climbing out of the pit was a trivial affair, but would lead only back to the entrance. A summary exploration of the upstream hallway lead them to an octogonal room. The room appeared to be the bottom of a chute set at its center. The chute was a mere 1m by 1m, but how far above was its origin couldn't be estimated. Nilppi tried to climb up but slid back down. By tossing a grappling hook, the company figured out that the chute was about 3m long. However, the grappling hook didn't caught on anything near its upper rim. 

The company decided in the most bizarre chain of reasoning to make a human pyramid so that the lighter and more nimble member could climb up to the chute's top. To convince the GM, there was threat to fetch video of cheerleader teams performing said action. The GM finally got swayed when the company threw into the plan the trunks used to make the battering ram. Kasper, Thannolf and Kasper were to make the base, supported by the battering ram's components. Arnadil, towering over his 7 feet made the second layer which took the construct into the chute. Nimrodel, nimble and light elf climbed up, then the hobbits. Irina managed to pull herself to another octogonal room. The beams from the ram were passed upward and Irina secured the ropes. In about 15 minutes, even the stoutest company member had made it up to the top.   

The only way out was a set of stair, running parallel to the stairs that lead to the hall. At the top there was a dead end and two small levers. Irina spotted in the dust many recent tracks of orcs and evidence that the far wall swiveled around a hidden axis. Pulling on the level brought them at the foot of a new set of stairs and to another secret door. Crossing the second door took them back behind the third wooden gate that they had rammed through about an hour ago. Irina tracked a large number of orc tracks in the dirty floor. Evidence of outdoors dirt could also be found. The company headed up the stairs and noticed a cool and fresh draught coming from higher up. 

The subterfuge revealed

The company walked through a storage room turned into an orc barrack. Beyond the door, they found themselves outdoors on the other side of the mountain. A path ran down into a close valley. It went back up at the other end, some 1500m away from the door. A camp of orcs was bustling with activity on the mountainside. Beyond the camp, there was another gate carved into the cliff. Arnadil used his looking glass to scan the area. He estimated the number of orcs to 50 to 70. He also noticed higher up on the cliff side there was an elaborate opening. 

The complex behind them seemed to be a decoy to mislead invaders. Halin shrugged at the Numariis' strange ways (The players are actually thinking that the Numariis could be some kind of duergars). The company was acutely aware that it was just a matter of time before the orcs would notice the death of all of their gatekeepers. Irina and Finbert, the resident hobbits in the company, volunteered to scout along the valley road. Finbert stumbled, lost his cool and came back to the gate right away. Irina kept on climbing, identified a hidden spot on the mountainside, but determined that she would be detected if she dared going further. 

The company pondered whether wait 15 days to get the support of Sir Galdor and his the soldiers of Gondor, or somehow trick the orcs into a winnable battle near the exit of the false Numarii gate. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

K14 - I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK...

Recollection from Drolf, Unit lord of the Ardacer

I banked a lot of hope in severing the orb from the roots of the wicked tree. This didn't work. After I chopped it off, the Huorn's full wrath rained down on me with fury. I felt something slip through my armor and sting me on the chest. I dodged the giant whips and found my way back to my men. Donarik was making good progress in attacking the trunk. From up above, Gimvar managed to pull himself from his impaling grip and fell with a thud at my feet. The rattle of heavy armor could be heard behind me, I bent down and watched Kalin's poleaxe slice into the Huorn. The sap sprayed around and left a bitter taste on my lips.

Khazek dots the "i"s

This wizard was so dead from the start. I held him tight with both arms and legs, hard enough to make him gasp. He uttered a few words in an obscure language, which made me nervous. My right hand slipped off and in a flowing motion I drew my knife and sunk it into his heart. The wizard spoke no more. Senseless violence you may say, I though that was pretty cool. Thus died the villain.

Quick glance around, Donarik made a twirl and got off balance. The Huorn slapped him across the chest: that looked like it hurted. I looked up to try to find a face, an eye... anything to strike hard at. I thought that I caught the glimpse of a face high overhead. As the rest of the dwarves had regrouped and were poised to strike again, I fearlessly made for the trunk and started hopping up.

Vadek's recollection (not that he'd share even if you asked)

Garg, why do you care about what I've seen? After I did the orc and snatched the obsidian wand from his armless body, I made my way back up the stairs to find that my lazy colleagues hadn't finished the tree yet. The wizard was dead alright. Khazek has already walked away and was climbing up the tree with his bloodied knife in hand. Gimvar was lying on the ground, covered by his companions as a storm of heavy limbs struck down on them. 

Kalin holding on to his dear life while the
huorn takes him for a ride.
A big sweep came from the left. Drolf artfully jumped over and so did Donarik. However, Uncle Kalin and his shiny armor didn't get airborne quickly enough. The root caught his foot and flipped him sideways until his legs were fully dangling off the ledge. Luckily, the drop underneath was only 10 yards... still a painful fall. Poor old Kalin pulled himself back on even footing just in time to be swept once more. This time, he grabbed on to the root and held tight (the other option was to take 3d6 of fall damage).

Once in range, I shot one of my trusty hatchets at the huorn but the tree got out of the way, if that is possible (Note: this may be the only dodge that the huorn made all night). I tried to keep my eyes on the hatchet to find out where it went but Khazek and his antics caught my attention.

Donarik's take on the Huorn's last moments

I think that I was the belle of the ball on that day. I must have hit the bastard more than anyone else combined, and I kept on going. That tree was about to call me uncle! My axe made it passed the sapwood and into the dark heartwood when Khazek-boy stole the show. I could see it as he managed to pull himself about 8 feet over my head. He stabbed at the huorn twice in fast succession. The first strike chipped the trunk but the second strike seemed to meet no resistance. His knife went in like a needle. A tremor traversed the huorn through and through.  

The tree started to topple into the chasm on its right. Kalin, passing over the heads of the others and dropped to the ground.  He roughly bounced a few times on the way down. Khazek-boy dramatically took a running jump just as the huorn started to tumble down. 


Vadek didn't seem stirred by the turn of even, I guess that he expected that to happen. He walked to the wizard's corpse and really really made sure that he was dead. In the process, he recovered his hatchet and a second obsidian wand. Khazek got back on his feet and busied himself at controlling Gimvar's bleeding. 

Drolf was particularly interested in the orb. A 2.5' in diameter glassy orb with a satin finish. For a brief moment, he thought that he caught a glimpse of Browek Bridge. The vision was short, but Drolf managed to see his command post and a bunch of dwarves hanging out in the trenches. The vision was then gone and mere flashes of light would show every now and then. 

Kalin was tired, Gimvar was reeling. Gimvar pointed out that to get in the tower they had bypassed a thousand orcs "and it'd be uncool if they found out about it". The rest of the companion gave him a glazed look. In Khazad-dum, a thousand orcs will be called "breakfast".

The companions decided to head down the path an find out what the Green Wizard didn't want them to get to. 

End of part I for our 10th session.

Monday, September 23, 2013

048 - Knock knock, who is there?

The Lossoth warriors of Arthon

Nilppi of Arthon, Lossoth Warrior overjoyed to join
the demon slayers from the south
After talking with the Arthedain chieftain in Arthon, Thannolf headed to the Lossoth area of the village. He was received with suspicion by the lossoth leader. His attitude changed radically when Thannolf's identity as one of the demon slayer was clarified. 

To Thannolf's greatest surprise, the Lossoth of Arthon did not appear to be great fans of Mulkan and its antics. Thannolf was treated with a large meal and hours of interesting conversations. The Lossoth leader offered the service of one of his top warrior, a middle-aged man called Nilppi. Thannolf tried to learn more about the Numarii dwarves and their relationship to the Winter drake. Unfortunately, nothing new came out of this interview. Thannolf and Nilppi took leaves of the chief and returned south to Kalt to link with the rest of the company. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

K13 - The Botanical Educations of Dwarves

This session was all combat, it started one that has yet to be finished. Here is the update so we all remember how the last session ended. The session started with this scene:

The orc sarge was excitedly shouting at the Green Wizard. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Notes on Technical Grappling

Here are some notes on grappling according to +Douglas Cole Technical Grappling supplement. I may have to alter these if I'm grossly wrong, but I think that it distill the contribution well enough.

Note 1) Your wrestling ST is now increased a bit by your skill level. This is called your "trained ST". Trained ST implies that highly skilled folks fight at a higher effective ST, which I think is great. Lifting ST and Arm ST also apply. 

Note 2) When grappling, you inflict trained ST thrust damage in control point. Consider it like an affliction. Each 2 CP counts as a -1 to ST and DX action involving the grappled body part. This is called active control. This replaces the flat -4 for grappling from the basic set. 

Note 3) CP can otherwise be used to penalize your opponent in grappling related contests: force posture, shove, etc. they can also be used to break free and offset location penalties. Finally, they must be used if you try to inflict pain or more damage. 

Note  4) Most wrestling actions, including break free are considered to be attacks.

Note 5) Your effective ST changes with the number of limbs that you use. This makes sense. 

Note 6) Disarming is now an attempt to reduce someone passive Grip to 0. It is now possible to unready a weapon as a consolation prize. Grappling a blade is also a possibly dangerous operation...

Note 7) Impaling weapons that are left stuck inside an opponent provide as many CPs as the damage of the blow. Shoving, forcing posture change and inflicting more pain are allowed follow on moves. That is a great use of such weapon to force a rapid end to a fight.

There is a lot more, but I think that this stuff can be applied without disturbing ongoing games and possibly adding awesome where it makes sense. Combat going south often end in a wrestling matches, and these new rules turns the process into interesting tactical challenges. 

A cheat sheet of techniques would be awesome here. I may work out an example combat if I have time.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Character Awards for Reclaiming Khazad-dum

  • Khazek Strongmoss
    • 1pt Staff
    • 1pt Bow
    • 2 pts (free) Achievement 
  • Vadek Rock
    • 1 pt Main weapons (hatchet right?)
    • 1 pt Slam ( DX or Brawling or Sheild)
    • 2 pts (free) Achievement 
  • Drolf, Attack-Lord
    • 1 pt Main weapon (Two-handed Mace right?)
    • 1 pt Main Weapon ( Feint )
    • 1 pt Tactics or Leadership
    • 1 pt (free) Achievement
  • Kalin Stronghold
    • 1 pt Main Weapon (Poleaxe)
    • 3 pts Lifting ST 1 ( increases your basic lift... running in this really heavy armor is getting you some nicely chiseled calves)
  • Donarik 
    • 1 pt Main Weapon
    • 1 pt Bow
  • Gimvar
    • 1 pt Main Weapon

Friday, September 6, 2013

How I designed Chapter 2 of the Palantir Campaign

This post presents an image export of my core mindmap for chapter 2 of our Palantir Campaign. I absolutely loved creating the adventure using the iPad version on MindJet (which is free).  During gameplay, I would collapse most nodes except these that I needed. 

Here is a link to a full size map. The graphics below is "a little" useless.

Zoom a lot on the full size image to read the labels... sorry about that.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

047 - A journey up the Lhûn valley

The Gulf of Lhun

The Swan had entered the gulf of Lhun two days earlier and was making good progress against the current. A small elf-made craft approached the large Gondorian hulk as the harbor of Gray Haven got in sight. The elves on deck were neither friendly nor hostile, but made the whole crew uneasy. The ship attached itself and pushed a gangway up to the Swan's deck. An austere looking elf introduced himself as Alumnim, dockmaster of Mithlond, and informed the crew that Gondor was not allowed to sail passed this point.  

There was a pile-up in the leadership of the Swan as Arnadil, Galdor and the ship's captain all felt that they should address this edict. However, Arnadil had the key document: a letter from King Elessar. Arnadil introduced himself the best that he could in Sindarin, and managed to convince Alumnim to let the Swan enter the port under a number of restrictive conditions.

The Swan sailed into the harbor. On both sides were arrayed a number of ships being built to take more elves to the undying land. The Swan moored itself to a pole off the shore and a few of the crew members made it to shore with a rowboat.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

046 - The legend of Sir Galdor

This post refers to play that occurred in a more abstract way in between Chapter 2 and 3. Some was played by post, some was done at the table. Some really neat gameplay took place in this session: I skimped on the technical details but the Social Engineering book saw a lot of page flicking. 

Session 18

  • Part I - The Legend of Sir Galdor
  • Part II - A journey up the Lhûn valley

Arnadil wrote a masterpiece

With his hip badly mangled, Arnadil had to find a way to kill time while sitting down. Arnadil began gathering notes about the commission's journey. He really got into it an began writing prose from his notes almost right away. His keen intellect allowed him to learn fast, and by the time that the Raven had touched the docks in Osgiliath, Arnadil had a manuscript that read like a professional piece from a chronicler. Little did he knew at this point that his manuscript would play a key role in thwarting Sir Galdor's takeover bid on the commission!

Meanwhile, and after his hip got better, Arnadil also spent a good amount of time teaching swordplay to the hobbits. He learned a lot about teaching while his companion got to refine their rough skills a little bit. 

Thannolf the sailor man (toot! toot!)

On the way back from Forochel, Thannolf busied himself to become the first mate of the Raven. He wanted to get the pay boost, and definitely had some time to burn off in between drinking binges. He applied himself to the craft of seafaring. Using his empathy, and a good dose of acting at the right moment, he won the respect of the crew and the affection of Vacros, the captain of the Raven. This got him to the position of second mate with a small pay increase. An unintended secondary effect of this effort was that it became clear to him that the Palantir commission had been deceived by the crew all along: The Raven was indeed on lease from Dol-Amroth, but Vacros had assembled the crew specifically to take the commission to Forochel in hope to sail away with the Palantirs and fence them to a mysterious high bidder. With the Winter Drake involved, Vacros cut his loss and dropped the plan.

Vacros, knowing Thannolf all too well at that time, bribed the northmen into keeping this secret for long enough to avoid trouble with the other commission members. Thannolf added his celebins to his (ethically muddled) stash and decided to take the secret to his grave. 

Finbert's lost treasure is really lost 

Finbert was very sore that his purse had disappeared at the Imenstone, unlike all other commission members. He suspected Thannolf, whom he distrusted because of his insatiable greed and criminal past. Over the length of the trip, he tried to take advantage of Thannolf's compulsive carousing to interrogate him while he was drunk. However, Finbert got more often than not drunk happy faster than the young northmen [Carousing contest won by Thannolf.] Furthermore, Thannolf's empathy allowed him to get cued that the hobbit was on his tail and caused him to remain guarded. Overall, Finbert's attempt to pull information from Thannolf was unsuccessful [resolved as an influence check as the gameplay was abstracted]. To make things worst, Thannolf's Fortune telling allowed him to read through Finbert very well. The northmen took advantage of this. He ended up having a little fun at the expense of the hobbit. Finbert stopped drinking, which was hard for him as he is fond of food and drink. But Thannolf was already cued and kept his guard up. 

When Finbert arrived in Minas Tirith, he sought employment Public Houses. Surprisingly, what got him the job came from an unexpected place: Finbert was the companion of the now famous Sir Galdor of Dol-Amroth, champion in the North.

The Legend of Sir Galdor, Hero in the North

A buzz came upon Mina's Tirith in the early days of July. A minstrel name Petron proposed a new epic saga put to music which told the story of Sir Galdor, knight of Dol-Amroth. According to the epic song, Sir Galdor met with Linluile, patron said of Annuminas, struck down a demon in the north and confronted a winter drake. He was accompanied by valiant hobbits, a legendary dwarf warrior and a rabble of other who played no large parts in the tale (other than giving up too fast when facing the drake). This tale spread like wildfire through the city, and rubbed the party members as both offensive and inaccurate. 

Arnadil invited the nobility and the gentry to a ball in his Mina's Tirith home. Petron may have wrapped his fingers around the crowds in public houses, but Arnadil intended to make truth prevail for the upper crust of Gondor. Arnadil's invitation made the rounds in the City Watch mess halls, and throughout the King's court [Propaganda check success]. Arnadil passed his manuscript to Irina who started to put keys parts to songs [Signing check success with MoS 3]. The evening was well attended, except for the notable absence of Sir Galdor himself. Irina's music moved the crowds and a few good laugh were shared on Petron's version of the company's adventures. Although at a great expense, Arnadil's ball had the effect of setting the records straight at least on the 7th level of the city. Irina couldn't outperform Petron on the public house circuit, but the ball had a deep impact on how the coming week developed.

The news that Prince Imrahil of Dol-Amroth had pledged a navy ship and a small force of horsemen and pikemen shook the company at first. The word on the street was that Sir Galdor was to lead the new expedition. The company learned from Kasper (still Sir Galdor's squire), that Mildred Imrahil, the grand-son of the prince, had joined Galdor as a page. Some company members expressed the concerns that the legend of Sir Galdor was drifting from a bad joke into a potential disaster. However, the Lord Chancellor made clear to Arnadil that King Elessar had never specified who should lead the company, nor that anyone could impose a leader no matter how generous the pledge may be. It was thus decided that Sir Galdor and his new pet would be given the command of the slow soldiers while the rest of the company would rush ahead and hopefully solve the problem before the circus hit the town.

Another point of note is that Sir Galdor wasn't capable of coming up with all this on his own: a force was seeking fracture lines within the company for its own purpose.