Navah: An Unwanted Pregnancy

The party decided to exit the Red Elf’s lair, but when they came to the room of the ancient pouka statues, Alexios spotted a bubbling black ooze (a Jaldak) come straight for him. He slammed the door on it, trapping Josette’s fire elemental on the other side. Its last commands had been to return to Josette, so it began to burn through the door. On the other side, the party was plunged into darkness; the fire elemental had been their only light source. Alexios flung open the door, trapping the fire elemental between door and wall. The Jaldak extruded three black tentacles that whipped Alexios’s left lower leg. It did only minor damage to his leg, and then to his chest as the party retreated. Josette called for the fire elemental to burn the ooze, and it tried to do so but failed. The party ran headlong down the way they had come. No-one smashed into the corner as they took the turn into the hallway, but Brendan, Ian, and Alexios all smashed into the wall at the t-intersection and piled up one on another. No one was badly hurt. Josette called for the fire elemental to return, and they once again had light. They continued fleeing down the hallway, as the Jaldak was moving slowly. Now that she could see it, Josette banished the demon.

Alexios cast Body Control to heal his minor wounds, but fumbled and fell unconscious for 56 hours. Nothing could wake him, not Josette’s Sorcery, Brendan’s shouting, or Ian’s rough shaking, though Ian was pretty sure he heard something pop in the vicinity of Alexios’s neck the last time he tried.

The party now decided to explore the areas they had not seen already. They came to the door of a prison cell, in which was a gorgeous green-skinned woman. “Help me,” she cried, explaining that she was Lithoniel, a Green Elf ranger captured by Menaithelen (the Red Elf) during a scouting mission. The party debated, with Ian, Brendan, and Alexios agreeing it was a trap before releasing her. She proved very thankful, and lavished her attentions on Ian. Ian resisted her advances; he was already going out with his Seeress. As they continued to adventure, she made her charms apparent, jiggling as she ran and bending over in provocative ways when asked to help search for traps. Ian continued to resist, but Brendan started to weaken. Alexios was still unconscious, and was carried by the earth elemental and Brendan.

The other rooms were largely empty. They found a summoning chamber and Josette destroyed the pentacle with Shaping. They found a ruined bedroom, and they found another cell, this time with Bubbles the Monaciello. Menaithelen had not appreciated Bubbles leading the party to him, and showed this by cutting parts of Bubbles off. The fingers of his left hand, the toes of his right foot, his left eye, and several teeth were missing. Ultimately the party took pity on Bubbles and freed him. In return, Bubbles promised to guide them to others involved in the Dreamwax trade.

They exited the secret hatch in the Downmarket like clowns getting out of a car. Four humans in animal masks, a cat pouka,a Selkie breastfeeding a human baby, a crippled Monaciello, a gorgeous and nearly naked Green Elf, a fire elemental, and an earth elemental. It was quite the procession, and yet the guards did not notice them. For once the dice were in the party’s favor. Brendan took the opportunity to buy a set of mithril lockpicks, returning Alexios’s to his still-conscious body. Ian bought clothes for both the Monaciello and Lithoniel.

They then headed for the Downlow, where they were spotted by the guards. Brendan tried a humorous but ill-advised misdirection (“look! what’s that over there?!”) which fooled no-one, and the rest of the party disappeared down nearby alleys while the centaur tried to kill Brendan. Brendan escaped and the party returned to Auntie Pig’s place, except for Bubbles and Garryan, who had both taken the opportunity to skedaddle.

Eight hours later, it became apparent that Lithoniel was most appreciative of aid and that Ian had not been able to resist any longer. Auntie didn’t notice, and the party went to the Lost to prepare for the return to Anthavar. Ian and Brendan then went to the Outsiders to retrieve Garryan, while the others stayed with the Lost. When they returned, Ian noted that Lithoniel had been very appreciative, and so were about six of the Lost. He was not surprised.

The party returned home safely, Alexios still unconscious. A Healer’s Restoration revived him. Before returning Bailey, Ian found his old Sergeant and got him to apologize. Then Ian found the parents of two of the Lost. One was wealthy and paid a large reward. Another of the Lost proved to be Gerald, a stolen baby from thousands of years ago, and the subject of an ancient folktale about such thefts. Apparently, time passes strangely in Faerie.

They learned that Rametta Walshe was dead. She had been assassinated in a very secure prison. The legendary assassin had done his job, and the Walshe gang was now down to four people. The party learned later that Edolina Waller was dead as well, but Waller gang simply found new leadership and moved on.

Finally, Ian began gaining weight inexplicably, and discovered that he was six months pregnant. He was not pleased. Going to the Imperial College of Wizardry, they consulted with the wizards (50 s. consultancy fee) and learned that likely Lithoniel had been a Succubus, and that Ian would give birth to a demon child. Ian refused, and had Waverick the Vivisectionist cut him open like a fish and take them out. Waverick administered a sedative (moonshine) and did as he was told (at a cost of 700 s.!), but he only managed to kill one of the five bat-winged demon children in Ian; the rest escaped. He sewed the warrior up and Restored him, leaving an enormous scar up Ian’s stomach. To make matters worse, Ian’s Seeress did not believe that he had done all of this against his will, and broke up with him. None of the Lost suffered a pregnancy; Ian had fumbled an important roll but the rest had made theirs.

On the positive side, the rest of the Lost are now linked to the party. Alexios took six and began his own gang. He didn’t have a high enough Reputation yet to gather the surviving members of the Walshe gang. Ian took ten and began to mold them into a fighting unit. Brendan went hunting with six, and Josette began to teach two of them the basic elements of magic.

Posted in Navah Campaign, Navah Game Summaries | Leave a comment

MERP: Escaping the Mines, Rashomon Style

The MERP campaign is on hold for the summer, due to work concerns. Since this left us hanging, we decided to each write a tale of how the Escape from the Mines adventure ended. These are those stories.

Story, the First

The Heroes struggle valiantly against overwhelming odds as they cover the escapee’s flight. Hamrammr, in bear form, begins flinging orcs into the water as Araluth beheads others and disembowels the rest.

On the other side of the underground lake, Joranilithin and Leosil bravely help Osric lead the escapees in holding back the tides of Orcs, until all have crossed the lake.

With a lunge, the party throws the orcs back! Bregor heroically cuts the raft rope, and uses it to drown many orcs upon the raft!

Suddenly the orcs rush forward with their Cave Troll poised to smash the lines – and that’s when Jor, battered, bruised and exhausted, steps forth. He reaches down, deep down, and pulls the last of his magical essence from his tattered soul to cast a critically successful fireball and incinerate the troll and the orcs.

“I … I didn’t – didn’t know I could do that!” he gasps — and then, to his companions’ horror, his head explodes in a fiery, gory spray, and his body falls on the ground, smoke pouring from the ruin of his neck.

His companions bear his body out, plowing through the remnants of the orcs, to take his body outside. They bring him to Maethelburg, and his grave marker reads, “In the end, he became one with magic.”

Story, the Second

Theyn Osric leads his men against the Stone Troll, followed by Leosil. Though the troll initially pulps several of the men, including Bregor, but Osric cuts the Troll’s left leg from under him and they swarm atop him. Leosil delivers the final blow and then leads the survivors towards the daylight visible at the end of the tunnel. Ten goblins attack the men from a side tunnel, and another hard battle is fought. Jor, though exhausted, prepares another spell.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the lake, Hamrammr is taking too much damage to continue. Poorly armed men rush to fill the gap and pull him to the rear. Araluth and Elentari fight on but everyone is forced to retreat and more goblins swell the attacking force. All seems lost when suddenly giant otters leap from the lake and hurl themselves into the attacking force. “Fly you fools!” yells a figure whose upheld staff sheds a blinding light. The defenders stare in amazement, and in a mere fifteen minutes, manage to ferry the rest over the lake.

Jor and Leosil defeat the goblins from the side tunnel with great difficulty. Theyn Osric is tired, but aids as well. United again, the little army gratefully enters the daylight and marches to Goblin’s Gate, killing the few goblins brave enough to face them. They throw open the gates and make their escape on the giant eagles parked outside.

Story, the Third

Osric valiantly stands up to the oncoming cave troll, holding it back for several minutes of violent combat as his men, Leosil, and Jor harry it from all sides with all manner of pickaxes, daggers, and magically induced hot feet. But then, enraged, it strikes Osric in the chest, smashing his rib cage and flinging him up against the wall violently. He smashes into the stone and slides down it, dying. Horrified, the escaped slaves scatter, some of them running down into the cave and others retreating into the cold waters.

Meanwhile, tentacles rise up from the water, as the great underwater beast that had plagued Araluth earlier returns and begins to wrench slaves off of the ferry. Bregor valiantly slices tentacles away, screaming in terror as he does this, single-handedly keeping the men on the ferry alive, at least until a tentacle wraps around his leg and pulls him into the water. Most of the escaped slaves on the ferry desperately try to cross the river faster as others are pulled underneath by the beast, never to be seen again.

On the other side, the endless horde is overwhelming the party, even as Araluth and Elentari cut down goblins faster than they can be replaced. Hamrammr the bear, roaring in pain and cut and sliced from a dozen different wounds, charges the goblins and begins ripping off heads, biting skulls, and tearing off limbs and beating the owners with them with even greater fury. Still, he is soon dealt the mortal blow of dozens of different wounds and, with the last of his strength, begins smashing the pillars of the mine (because I’m saying there are mine pillars now) and causing a cave in that crushes him. He turns back into himself in the last moments before he dies with a smile. Araluth and Elantari stare grimly for a moment, then turn, for they have been saved from death by horde only to meet death by horrifying tentacle beast.

At the same time, the troll is eating the men on the other side quite gleefully, and the goblins are chopping down those who remain. Leosil remarks that none of this would have happened if he had his sweet dagger, and begins weaving in and out of the creatures, cutting throats and Achilles tendons, and being very dishonorable about hiding in corners while doing it. Still, the party appears doomed and that they have nowhere to go, but then Jor starts screaming inarticulately, waving his hands at the goblins so fervently and belligerently that the goblins become totally unnerved and begin to retreat. “Run!” they scream. “He must be performing some great magic!” The cave troll looks as if it doesn’t care and is going to eat him anyway, but then Bregor bursts out of the water, chopping away severed tentacles from him with his eyes bugged out and screaming insanely as he charges the troll, spears it through the heart, and then begins stabbing madly.

Meanwhile, Araluth offers to carry Eentari across the water using his water-walking powers. She rolls her eyes and says, “Please, I’ve been able to do that this whole time,” and runs out in front of him onto the water. Embarrassed, Araluth runs after her, saying “Wait for me honey!” The two of them race across the water, chopping away tentacles that rise up out of the deep. Halfway across, a great mouth larger than can be conceived of by human minds opens itself from the water and goes, “MWAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!! I AM HONGRY!!”, tentacles waving about. Araluth howls, “GAH! It is the unkillable mouth of madness of the deep! I will kill it!” He then charges the beast, leaping on to one of its tentacles and running up it, avoiding the lethal suckers, slicing away errant tentacles and then leaping through the air with a howl and stabbing it in the great eye with his blade. It roars in rage and begins thrashing about. Elentari rolls her eyes at this display and shoots all the waving tentacles that threaten to rip apart her husband.

Meanwhile, on the other side, Bregor continues to stab the dead cave troll, sobbing, having been driven quite mad already by his underwater battle the tentacle beast. Leosil turns to Jor and says, “Should we, you know, do something?” At that point, a Balrog bursts from the cave floor in a shower of rock and lava and shadow, incinerating Bregor and the troll. It roars and Jor drops his staff, delighted, and goes, “We’re saved!” Leosil’s eyes nearly bug out, but then the Balrog stops roaring and it turns out it was only yawning. It shrugs its shoulders, sees them, and says, “Sorry, guysSlept Badly last night.” Then it sees Leosil and goes, “Hey bro, this is yours, right?” It hands him his magic dagger, Leosil goes, “Sweet!”, and they all smile happily. Then the Balrog launches itself out into the water straight at the tentacle beast, flies into its maw and down its throat, the great beast’s eyes bug out, and flames shoot out its mouth as it begins to dissolves as if its blood and flesh have become lava. Araluth pulls loose his sword, falls to the water, and runs away from the water that is being set aflame just behind his feet. He and Elentari retreat for shore, just barely making it, and the entire party turns as the unkillable monster of the deep sinks below into the water.

Everything is quiet for a moment, then Jor says, “See. I told you Balrogs were nice.”

Anyway, Elentari briskly goes over to Osric, who begins sputtering out his last words for his daughter, and she tells him to shut up. She mutters a few words, heals him briskly, and he blinks in surprise and gives thanks. She says, “Yeah, well, I do what I do.” Araluth then points into the deep of the cave and says, “Quickly, we must find our escape!” And Hamrammr, naked and smiling and standing right next to him, laughs, and says, “Yes! That makes sense! Ha ha ha!” The entire party turns in shock, with Araluth saying, “We thought you had died!” And Hamrammr just shrugs and says, “Yes, well, I have +10 to caving, so…”

And so they went further into the deep, and eventually found the escape. And Osric stopped the war between the Hillmen and the Northmen, and a great statue was built for Bregor, and his bravery was passed down to schoolchildren forever. The end.

Story, the Fourth

Araluth, Elentari, and Hammrammr were failing and being driven back to the lake, when the escaped prisoners pushed forward bearing pickets. “Great Goblin Unfair.” “Goblins & Slaves Unite!” “Where There’s a Whip, There’s a Nay!” But the one that truly stopped the goblins in their tracks was, “Goblins are People Too!” “You care, you really care!” screamed the Uruk in the front, as he collapsed in tears. All dropped their weapons and embraced, immediately forming the Misty Mountains Goblin-Slave Friendship Society. That night, the goblins slept the first peaceful sleep of their lives, for at last they knew the contentment of friendship. And that night, when they were all fast asleep dreaming happy thoughts, the escaped slaves gently crept in and slit the throats of every last one. “What losers!” they chortled as they tried to relight their lanterns with flint and steel. And everyone lived happily ever after.

Story, the Fifth

One troll became forty. What the forward half of the party had failed to notice was the nature of the cavern housing the troll. You see trolls are a close relative to barnacles and as such will coat surfaces waiting for nourishment to pass by. Seeing a batch of humans triggered them all and whipped them into a rampage.

The mountain shook with a bellowing fury. Eighty trunk-like arms and sixty brain cells thundered into a cavern of cowering humans, demanding their tribute of terrified nourishment. Having few options and no time, the group escorting the thane executed a strategic bail as did the rear front of goblins. Cave trolls will attack indiscriminately in a bloodlust and the local goblins had long since learned not to be in the way.

Though the party was terrified by the lake and its inhabitants, the cave trolls were not. Throwing water like an angry lawnmower, the wave of muscle and teeth bore down on the escaping raft. Jor was enveloped in a desperate flash of light as the trolls met their target, sending pieces of the raft, thane, and party members about. Araluth watched his new friends die in horror. Such monstrous beasts could not be outrun, certainly not here. “I will fight!” he declared, scraping the tip of an arrow through the remnants of their burning oil trap. “I will die, but I will take some monsters with me! They won’t see me flinch!” Araluth notched the arrow and drew it, fire in his eye and on his weapon.

What the rear half of the party had failed to notice was that Jor had worked a phenomenal final bit of magic. Tapping into his garment soiling terror, Jor had converted several hundred tons of water into pure hydrogen. Araluth loosed his arrow, his finger slick with oil. The shot sailed past the sea of hollow heads into the lake.

And that’s how Goblin Crater was formed.

 Story, the Sixth

When last we left our intrepid adventurers, things were looking very dire indeed.  Half the party was stuck on one side of the river with an ever-increasing horde of well-armed goblins with mad fighting skills.  The other half was across the river facing a large cave troll.  The ferry to move people across was small and slow.  There didn’t seem any chance for the party to survive, let alone escape from Goblins’ Gate.  Hamrammr and Araluth were wounded but fighting on with the help of the stronger of the remaining slaves.  Elentari was behind, getting ready to step in as needed, when she noticed a commotion from the cave passage.  The goblins, eager to replace fallen comrades and get into the action, were now looking behind themselves.  They turned to fight some unseen throng.  It appeared that reinforcements had arrived and the great goblin force was now fighting on two fronts. And losing!  But where had these reinforcements come from?

Marty scuttled through the cave passages, muttering about “Damn fools and their damn rebellions.”  The goblin caves were in chaos and he was going to use this opportunity to get out of this hellhole.  He ducked into a small crevice as a group of goblins hurried by, roaring and ready to fight.  He spotted a light ahead and peeked around the corner into another large cavern with slaves and their goblin guards.  There were fewer guards than normal here; clearly the passing group had come from here.  Marty looked carefully and decided he could sneak through the cavern along the darker side of the room on his way to freedom. He shambled on, past the dumbfounded slaves who quickly spotted him and questioned him. As he explained about the rebellion that had started in his slave area, the slaves realized this was their chance to rise up and fight the guards as well.  The odds were in their favor.

Araluth and Hamrammr noticed the change in the goblins they were fighting, and were able to divert all their skill to defense, holding the line without further injuries.  By the time the ferry had delivered Bregor plus others to the other side and returned, the fight was over.  The party took a moment to recover then loaded up the next group of slaves while Araluth stepped forward to talk to the new arrivals.  It turned out that goblin guards from the other slave rooms had been called to help capture the escaping slaves.  When the slaves heard Marty’s story, the stronger of the slaves in those rooms had quickly formed an attack group to take out the remaining guards.  Then they followed the goblins and had overwhelmed them with sheer numbers.

Meanwhile, when Bregor reached the other side of the river, he joined the others who were keeping the cave troll at bay by throwing anything they could find at the troll.  Bregor was badly wounded, but he bravely stepped forward.  Over the course of the journey, he had realized that he alone was blessed by Lady Luck and it would be his duty to defeat the cave troll.  Fortunately for Jor, Leosil, and Osric, his luck did continue and he was able to land a series of devastating hits on the beast.  By the time the last of the remaining fighters arrived, Bregor was practically being worshipped by the slaves.  The ferry continued to bring over slaves, but without any goblins to fight, the slaves could take over from there.  The large party marched on their way to the outside and freedom.  The party led Thane Osric, his men, and all the slaves to the nearby village, where they recuperated for a few days before returning to their homes (except for the freed slaves who decided to follow Bregor the Bold).  Thane Osric traveled to his daughter’s wedding and the party celebrated for many days before their next adventure.

Story, the Seventh

After guiding the party to the secret back entrance to Goblin’s Gate, Rennel returned to Dulin, where he and his father celebrated their new mules. Rennel began to tell the tale of the brave, foolish heroes and the story spread like wildfire. Soon Hammrammr’s far-flung family began to hear the tale. “Hammrammr’s in trouble,” each said, and then packed up their few belongings and headed for Goblin’s Gate. The family was a large one, and as they approached the mountains they kicked up trouble in every town, village, and burrow.

There was Lorrammr, the tall Woodsman from Southern Mirkwood, who brought his deadly curved axe. There was Gringrammr, the famous knife-fighter of Dunland, and Borrammr, the outlaw of the Old Forest Road. Jimrammr left his hobbit wife and ten kids in Buckland, and came running. He had a far distance to travel, and he got there last, but he got there. Hornrammr, the Pirate King of the Anduin, came, along with his entire crew of swarthy Amazons. Glumrammr, the lone fisherman of Gladden Fields was there, along with his traveling companion, The Creepy Guy. Yumrammr, Master of Bear-style gong-fu, arrived with his older brother Vimrammr, a gifted lawyer who terrified all who saw him. “We’ll pursue this matter in the highest court of the land,” he yelled, and the glint in his eye showed he meant it. There was Duckrammr, who gouged out the eyes of anyone who made fun of his name. There were few who taunted him a second time. And there was Rumrammr, the drunken minstrel from Dimriff Dale, who… well… really wasn’t much of an asset. Let’s just forget him.

Anyways, there was a hell of a lot of Rammrs, an army of Beornings. By the time they hit the Gate, they were an army of bears, enraged and powerful. They tore the Gate apart with their claws and then did the same to the goblins. When there were no goblins left, they descended into the caverns, slaughtering stone trolls and whatever else got in their way. The devastation they wrought became legend.

They were too late of course. The party had been killed weeks before, but still, it was really impressive.

Posted in Middle Earth, Middle Earth Roleplaying | Leave a comment

Navah: The Forgotten Sodality of the Old Ones

The party found Garryan with the Outsiders, and Brendan convinced him to accompany them to rescue baby Bailey. The Glorious Guard had located the baby and their mage Endoran had hidden him in a Shaped cavern very near the crib from which they had stolen him. They told the party that the only other things they could tell them was that the entrance to the Red Elf’s lair was a secret door in his stall in the Downmarket, and that the lair was below Cramoisi and the Downlow itself.

Alexios found the secret door and easily opened it. The party descended but the first room frightened them. It was filled with stone poukas of Old Ones whom the earth elemental told them were stone but also alive. Expecting them to attack at any moment, the party moved forward. Eventually they found themselves in a large hallway and turning a corner, Brendan found himself face to face with a Slarg (an enormous demon). Brendan tried fruitlessly to parry the Slarg’s thick and immensely strong clawed arm, which then snipped him nearly in half, crushing his plate armor as well. Brendan collapsed with a grim wound (worth 3 major wounds). Alexios tumbled to his side to help, while Ian attacked the monster itself. He struck it with what would have been a terrible blow to a human, but which to the Slarg was only a minor wound. Thankfully, Josette was able to Banish the creature, else it would have slain them all. Ian did some rough surgery on the archer, putting his organs and intestines back inside of him and sewing him shut. Josette cast Sorcery successfully, healing 1 major wound, and then applied an Elfin healing unguent, healing another. Brendan was still suffering the effects of 1 major wound, but he was well enough to cast Body Control and slow his bleeding. Josette lifted his legs and her earth elemental lifted his upper body, and they carried him after the rest of the party, which insisted on continuing their search for Bailey. They thankfully found nothing but an alchemy lab and supply rooms, where they spent several hours eating and resting. The next day, Josette healed the rest of Brendan’s wounds.

The very next room, while they talked with Pongnam the living +2 helmet, they were attacked by another demon, this time by an old man with blades instead of arms (a Slinderjaard). Brendan took some minor damage, but he and Ian put down the demon with a cut across the belly and then a coup de grace. Brendan made friends with Pongnam, who admired Brendan’s hat. Brendan gave Pongnam permission to wear the hat, while Brendan wore Pongnam. Alexios again made futile efforts to keep the party quiet so he could scout ahead, so Brendan and Pongnam took to whispering among themselves about him.

This brought the party to the bedroom of the Red Elf, whom they knew as Loren Leafrustle (not his real name). They began to explore the room, not knowing that the Elf had successfully cast Glamour on all of them and made himself invisible. When he began to attack Josette, only the Selkie, Josette, and Pongnam saw Josette being attacked, and even they did not see the Elf himself. Josette felt the attacks and recognized that the Elf was using a flaming blade on her, though she could not see it. Josette and the Selkie fled, and eventually escaped. Alexios eventually noticed the attacks, and tried to fight the invisible Elf. Brendan saw nothing, but Pongnam told him of Josette’s difficulty, and he tried to snap Ian (their best fighter) out of his daze. He failed, even after punching Ian full in the face and giving him a nose bleed. Ian was still enthralled, and kept searching for Bailey. Both Alexios (at -4 to hit) and Brendan (at -8 to hit) slashed the air hoping to hit the Elf, so the Red Elf fled the room. Josette had returned by this time, and ordered the fire elemental to burn the area in front of her, hoping to hit the Elf. Instead, she unknowingly hit Alexios, whose legs was burnt to a crisp by the time the party came out of their ensorcelment and Josette called off the elemental. Josette cured 1 of his major wounds with Sorcery, but he had to wait another day for her to heal the 2nd major wound. In the meantime, the Glorious Guard found the party and delivered Bailey to them. Surprisingly, the Selkie was able to nurse Bailey, who was very hungry and needed a change. Alexios tried to pick the lock in the Elf’s bedroom, but failed miserably, and refused to let Brendan use his mithril lockpicks in his own attempt, so Josette Shaped the chest open, and they found emeralds, rubies, and diamonds worth over 5,000 s.

The evening ended with a door and a passage unexplored, and the party split on what they should do next.

Posted in Journeyman, Navah Campaign, Navah Game Summaries | Leave a comment

Navah: Gang Wars on Two Planes

The party decided to withdraw with Rametta from the fight, led by Rametta herself. Josette sent her bear to extricate Alexios from the battle. In the two rounds of combat that Alexios and the bear witnessed after the rest of the party left, here’s what they saw:

The stranger whistles and six flying daggers launch from his bandoleer, and begin to harry his attackers, dropping their defense to 2. He begins carving them with each sweep of his sword, stopping only to kill each and every one of the wounded. He is carving everyone between him and her.  

Round 1: Mabilla the Mask is on his left. She is caught on a table as she stumbles back. The stranger’s blade cleaves her side and her body pitches to the right, gushing blood. Nick Wynteryngham is in the middle, and desperately tries to parry. A critical hit carves him in two and the stranger takes a slight step back as Nick’s upper half lands facefirst in front of him.  Agetio is on his right and though much more skilled than the other two, he fares little better. He manages an attack but the stranger parries it easily, and the tip of the longsword rips along his abdomen, and he drops in pain. A second slash cuts off his left foot, and a third separates his two halves. The stranger’s final attack is to Magge Elvet, whose left hand flies off, accompanied by the dagger that was in it. Magge snarls and prepares to attack.

The youth  faces Helewis and Oldio. He cuts Helewis across the chest (minor wound), and then strikes Oldio a major wound in the left arm. Helewis loses his sword as it flies across the room, but Oldio scores a critical hit on the youth’s left arm, and deals a major wound.

Round 2:  In Old Imperial, the stranger says, “back” to his companion, and then ease to the right to cover him. The dancing sword follows. The stranger first cuts down Magge, slicing through her right upper leg, and then brings his sword down on Oldio’s helm crushing his skull. Oldio drops immediately. Helewis manages to retreat back through the other men, as they are now milling in confusion. The youth retreats and wraps a scarf around his left arm. The stranger advances. Mylecent Maudevyle is trying to get out of the fight, but she is blocked by Helewis, and her head flies past the eyes of Jeliana Bours. Jeliana’s head follows Mylecent’s.  Olyver the Bastard lunges at the stranger, and seems to strike him in the head, but his blade passes harmlessly through the other’s helm, placing him dangerously off balance and in the next second, Olyver’s head is split in two. Cecili Crossby, a fine archer but a poor swordswoman, screams and flees, only to be cut down with a slash to her back.

More graphic bloodshed follows, but the players are not interested in hearing it, which disappoints me as a DM but is perfectly understandable I suppose. The players flee, with Rametta leading them to the main guardhouse where she hopes to take refuge. Of her many guardians, only the players and Reine and Helewis escape alive.

The party decides this is a good time to visit Faerie with Garryan, so they purchase animal masks (Alexios is a Rat Snake, Josette is a Cow, Brendan is a Beagle, and Ian is a Lion) and follow Garryan into the Thieves’ Tunnels that lead from the Maze to Uptown. From there they go to Beleby Manor and climb the wall, avoiding the black ooze that guards the top of the wall. They enter the famous Beleby Gardens but their talking brings Raadrapo the Mad Gardener, who protects the Gardens with his slingblade. Ian and Brendan both make several Speak rolls, convincing Raadrapo that they will not harm the garden, and he grudgingly retreats. The party discovers the hidden passage to Faerie in the gazebo and descend, all except for the bear, who cannot fit.

The party emerges in the Gardens of Cramoisi, the Red Elf city. Garryan warns them of the dangers and tells them to follow him. When Garryan is suddenly eaten (an illusion), Ian continues faithfully on and is apparently eaten as well (another illusion). Brendan takes the bait and steps off the path, right into the clutches of a psionic man-eating plant. Luckily, he had his sword out, and he cuts his way to freedom. After a daffodil barbershop quartet and a tempting purple flower that looks like jewels (from Rappacini’s Daughter by Hawthorne), the party emerges into the Downlow, the lowest of the ten levels of Cramoisi. For your edification, here’s the levels, as described by Garryan:

  1. “The Exalted is the top level, for the exclusive delight of the Overlord and his guests. Pray you never go there, because you won’t come back, at least in one piece.”
  1. “The Lord’s Walk is where the city’s leaders live. Nobody I know has ever been there.”
  1. “The Red Elves live up in Pleasant Hills and above. The Citedal, they call the top three levels. Beautiful they say. A few minstrels have played up there, and they tell tales of the magnificence of the furnishings, the elegance of the ladies, and the unmatched quality of the wines. We’ll never see that place, I assure you.”
  1. “The Gallery! Oh what I wouldn’t give to get up there! The finest goods from all over Faerie. Weapons of Quality, Demon Blades, Fancy Potions, and Deadly Poisons. Heavily guarded of course. Nobody gets up there up except the Red Elves and the richest of those from the Market. About the only way to get up there from here is to work with one of the merchants from the Market, one that has a license to sell in the Gallery occasionally. And none of them are going to take a chance on losing that license, especially when it would probably mean being drawn and quartered as well.”
  1. “Oh, you don’t want to go up there. That’s the Towers — giants, ogres, and dragons. It’s always forty feet high or more, but there’s no need of guards. Anyone caught up there just gets eaten.”
  1. “Ah, the Market! This place is great. Good food, lots of things to buy, and enough guards to keep people civil but not enough to get in the way. Lovely!”
  1. “The Plains! Yech. The City Guard is everywhere, and those well-off enough are anxious to keep everything they have, and crawl over each other to get higher.”
  1. “Downmarket. That’s where we’re headed. It’s the lowest of the markets and anything can be purchased here, if they have it. A lot of thieves though, so watch out. Besides the Brambles, this is probably the most dangerous level.”
  1. “The Jungle is pretty safe — it’s most workers’ homes. There’s lots of poukas, but also a lot of Wee Folk. The Wee Folk are better off than most, ‘cause most of them have a secret passage up to the Gallery or Pleasant Hills. They are constantly fighting against the rats, which is why we don’t see the Glorious Guard much in the Downlow.”
  1. “The garden is in the middle of the Downlow. That’s the bottom level of the city, or at least the ground level. It is inhabited only by the poorest of Poukas and the Iron Folk. The Brambles is to the southwest, but we definitely don’t want to go there. The Gnoles control that area and hire Geraede to guard it. But Red Elves rarely come down here, so the Downlow is safe, as long as you can take care of yourself and as long as you don’t stir up one of the gangs. There’s bunch of them: The Toughs, the Iron Folk, the Lost, the Fancies, the Fliers, the Hounds, the Outsiders, the Pounders, the Gnawers, the Old Ones, the Ogres, the Pitfiends, the Puffers, the Unseen, and the Glorious Guard. I’ve got an in with the Guard and with the Lost, and of course the Outsiders, but none of them are very strong. The Unseen are no problem. But around the rest, watch your step. You can see the Gardens is the biggest open space up here. It goes up all the way to the Plains, but we can’t get there from here. Too many guards. We’ll work our way up side paths that run along the Causeway. And the garden is pretty dangerous, so people look, but don’t generally visit.”

The party is caught between a gang war between the Fancies and the Iron Folk, but Josette Shapes a door and they escape into the home of an ancient Pig Pouka. Announcing that he is her nephew, Brendan gains her trust and she provides tea and cookies for all of her nieces and nephews. She is amazed that they have visited, since Faeries cannot have children (that’s they they steal human babies), but she figures she must be an amazing pouka. Garryan takes them to the Outsiders, who tell them that the Monaciello named Bubbles has the baby, and is selling him in the Downmarket.

Garryan leads them on to the Downmarket, where they purchase a few items and then track Bubbles to a stall run by a fox pouka. The pouka sees through their disguises and soon they realize that they are merely talking to an illusion. The fox pouka must have been a Red Elf! Garryan flees, leaving the players to their own devices. The party returns to the Pig Pouka, where Ian manages to convince her he is a lion. He is forced to hide silently in the room while the rest of the team enjoys the cookies once more. Brendan finds the location of the Lost (human changelings) in the Downlow from Piggy, and they visit the Lost, where they agree to help the Lost return to Navah if the Lost help them find the baby.

The Lost take them to the Glorious Guard, where the party buys their help with a silver mirror and some string. Shortly thereafter, the Guard reports they have found the stall where the baby is being held, and that Garryan has returned to the Outsiders. The players prepare for an assault on the stall, while Josette sends word to Garryan through the Lost as to what they are about to do. And here we ended for the night.

Posted in Navah, Navah Game Summaries | Leave a comment

MERP: Trying to Map Middle Earth

I got pretty obsessed with Middle Earth again when I started playing MERP. Pete Fenlon put together a bunch of great Middle Earth maps that were published through ICE in the 1980s, and I have all of those (I think) but they didn’t have everything, and they didn’t have it all on one big digital map. When I game in my world (Navah), I have maps of different scales, all digital, usually with a multitude of layers (geographic features, water, cities & towns, trails & roads, names, forests, secret features) that let me print off whatever maps I want for either myself or my players. All of the ICE maps are set in the Third Age, and our campaign is in the Second, so names are incorrect, and there’s a lot of things missing that are listed in the ICE modules themselves. So I have now made four abortive efforts to create my wondrous map, and have decided to concentrate on mapping only the Anduin Valley (for our campaign) in the Second Age, and then go back and work on my world. Here’s why:

1. First Attempt: I have all those Pete Fenlon maps, so why not scan them in and just stitch them together? Because production of each of these included a camera, which created lens distortion. The further one is from the center, the greater the distortion. To get Northern Mirkwood to match up with Southern Mirkwood and the Anduin Valley, I have to cut up the Valley into 3-4 pieces, move those about in various layers, then distort those pieces to make them match up, make corrections by hand to the sections that don’t match up, and then merge them all again. It would look good, but it would add a lot of distortion to the image. Also, I’d still want to remove all the names from the map (so I can put those on separate layers — Players, 3rd Age, Referee’s 3rd Age, Players’ 2nd Age, Referee’s 2nd Age, etc.) and again I would be left recreating mountain and forest sections that were written over on the original map.

2. Second Attempt: Remember that great black and white map from the LOTR back in the 1970s? The one with all of the red lettering? Well, there’s a huge scan out there of that. It’s covered with the words, and someone’s green and blue markings, but I can remove all of that and then patch the sections where the words were. So I do that, but what I learn is that the resolution is so poor that I’m basically going to have to redraw the entire map, and THEN add in all the details that ICE made. Not my idea of fun either. But anyway, I got the initial clean-up done, and some of you might want to use it, so here it is. I redrew the trails, added some trees (some well, some not so well — I was about to make a tree template png to redo that), and added new symbols for Minas Arnor and Minas Ithil.

B&W map of Middle Earth, without names

3. Third Attempt: My referee gives me the map he uses. We still don’t know who put it together originally, but Michael Heilemann used it as well and aged it for his One Ring game. Kudos to whoever actually finishing that effort of stitching Pete’s maps together! Here’s the unaged map.

Unfortunately, the resolution on the full map is not as good as I was getting in my stitching effort. Here’s what I mean:
My MERP stitch map compared with the completed one on the web.
You can see the junk at the right showing that mine was still being worked on, but the resolution was better. But it didn’t satisfy my desire for the best MERP map ever. So…

4. Fourth Attempt: I am giving up on a grand detailed Middle Earth map and instead concentrating on an Anduin Valley map for our campaign. When Peter Jackson tried to make the Hobbit into a trilogy of movies (shudder!), he hired some enthusiastic map makers. They came up with a cool Google Earth style view of Middle Earth (go to “Explore the Map”), or at least the area involved with the Hobbit. It’s actually six maps. Four of these make up the physical landscape, and are 4 tiles of equivalent size. I glued those together and will try using that as my map, though there are a lot of problems. Right off the bat I can see that Mirkwood Forest comes way too close to the River Anduin, but maybe I can play that off by saying that this is the Second Age, and the forest is larger. I’ll let you know what happens. The other two maps, by the way, were a map showing the heights of the peaks, and a mask map of the water regions, so they could add sparkle and waves.

And in the meantime, I’ll just reread the ICE stuff and organize my old Pete Fenlon maps so I can find them easier. However, I see that Pete Fenlon released a style pack in The Cartographer’s Annual 2, so I think I’ll buy that as well.

Posted in Maps, Middle Earth, Middle Earth Roleplaying | Leave a comment

MERP: Escaping the Mines

Elentari, Hammrammr, Araluth, & Bregor lead forty freed slaves, including Theyn Osric, into another slave mine. There the six guards run away, followed quickly by the five guards in the center. The group swells to sixty freedmen, including Jor and Leosil. Arms are not plentiful — over their flight they scavenge 12 scimitars, 10 pickaxes, 7 daggers, 2 clubs, and 2 spears. They flee downwards, cutting two suspension bridges behind them, but the goblins still pursue them from one of the remaining tunnels. The group keeps going, assisting the wounded, with Hammrammr in rear guard and Jor, Osric, and Leosil in the middle, while Elentari, Araluth, & Bregor lead. They reach an underground lake and kill the sole guard, and then start ferrying the wounded across to the other side, 15 at a time. Jor, Osric, and Leosil are sent to the other side. Elentari, Araluth, Bregor, and Hammrammr prepare to hold the rear.

On the other side, a group of goblins descends, and Jor sends a lightning bolt among them. The goblins flee, and the party pursues, only to retreat once more as a Stone Troll comes towards them.

On the near side, Araluth uses two oils to create a flaming barrier 40 feet in front of them, giving them a few rounds of arrow fire to attack. Araluth dons his chainmail and Hammrammr removes his clothes and transforms into a bear. As the fire dies down, Hammrammr attacks and the others follow with sword and shield. They kill another three orcs, then Bregor is sorely wounded and is sent with the third ferry across the water, just as Leosil shouts that there is a Cave Troll. So much for sending Bregor to safety. Hammrammr is taking a lot of wounds, but he does have more hit points as a bear. He’s not doing much more damage though. Beorn is usually pictured as a giant bear, and even in his smallest representation, he’s tearing through the goblins.

David Wenzel's illustration of Beorn killing orcs at the Battle of Five Armies.

There’s even a painting by Tolkien himself showing how he saw a bear fighting goblins.

Tolkien's Polar Bear fights the goblins easily

And here we paused. Our treasure so far? 17 c. and 3 s. but among the freed miners are 4 dwarves, 2 elves, and 12 Northmen. We haven’t lost any…. yet. That will probably change in the next session. We went the same way that Marty the escaped slave did, but we never found him. Too bad, I was hoping we would meet up.



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Magic the Gathering Cards for the Cold War

The Spanish blog 1d10 en la mochila posted a set of cards based on Magic the Gathering but aimed at re-enacting the Cold War. Natxo corrected me on these. Originally I thought he had created these for his 4th grade English class, but what really happened was that the students developed the cards themselves. Better pedagogical practice, really. The history is messed up at times, which might expect. Here’s some examples:

  • Stalin gives the Soviets +2, instead of killing millions of his own countrymen.
  • Khrushchev actually resurrects Stalin, rather then burying him with the Secret Speech.
  • The Russian bomber in the game is a B-29 Superfortress, not a Tupolev TU-95.
  • South Korea uses a picture from Vietnam (black top rather than white is the giveaway).

On the other hand, the U.S. comes off looking awfully good, with 4 American medics giving lives to everyone and 3 Privilege cards showing how good it is on the other side of the wall. Thanks to Natxo for correcting me! It is always good to see a creative teacher and the work his students do!

Posted in Card Games, Education, Thoughts | 2 Comments