MERP: Slave Rebellion

After hours of torture, Jor tells the orcs that there were two other people with him (a human and a dwarf) and that they came from the other tunnel than he originally appeared in. He thus managed to direct the orcs directly towards the other half of the party, who thankfully were prepared and killed three of the orcs while the other two escaped.

Jor and Leosil led an abortive revolt against their orc masters and were quickly beaten to the ground. Only Marty, a fearful human prisoner, seized the opportunity to flee down a tunnel towards an unknown fate. At least he will die free.

Araluth, Hammrammr, Elentari, and Bregor led a more successful revolt in another cavern, killing two orcs by arrow and then three more by sword. Araluth called to Theyn Osric, who fought his captors. By the end, the party had swelled in size by 40 prisoners, about half of whom found Orcish scimitars and daggers to wield. Using a key taken from the original three orcs, the party freed the slaves and then headed to the next slave mine to free those slaves. The mine they were headed for was the one with Jor and Leosil. Hopefully they will be freed next time.

 

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Navah: The True Tomb of the Seveysas Queen

Having looted the false tomb of the Seveysas Queen, the party now discovered and explored the true tomb. They were joined by Alexias, who had heard rumors of treasure in the region and joined up with the group.

Ignar proved his worth by disabling a spear trap, then Ian triggered a cave-in and only escaped because of his warrior’s reflexes. Alexias took lead and got too far ahead of the rest of the party, who were troubled by another room filled with breakdown. He failed to notice the triggers and set off an enormous stone roller, 20′ high and 40′ wide. He was almost squashed but at the last moment jumped up, planted his feet on the roller, and sprang into the tunnel at the end of the room. His Acrobatics skill would stand him in good stead for the rest of the night. He discovered the sarcophagus of the queen, her votive figure, and activated the awakening of the five elite guards of the queen, who trapped him between the cylinder and themselves. Alexias surrendered, dropping his mace, only to learn that they wanted nothing less than his death. Four Acrobatic rolls later, he had bounded past them, surviving the various hits he took, and ran on. He dive rolled over a river only to remember he had a backpack on, which brought him to a screeching halt. He struggled like an upended bug for a few moments, then righted himself and ran on. He activated  pit trap, but managed to jump around the edge, and finally joined the rest of the party on the other side of the cylinder.

Battle was joined. The party was outclassed, but they trapped the guards in a bottleneck and were able to double-team one of them, which allowed them to slowly grind through their attackers. Ian took a grim wound to the abdomen, and fell. Brendan and Ignar fought on bravely, while Alexias did rude surgery (First Aid) to Ian’s wound, allowing Josette to heal him through Sorcery. Ignar then fell with an evil wound, and died soon after. Alexias joined Ian and Brendan and together they fought the guards in a bloody final combat. “For the Queen, Honor, and Death,” shouted the guards in their unknown tongue (the referee providing subtitles for the players). The last of the guards fell and Brendan took a bloody revenge by skinning each and every one of the honor guard.

The party then forced open the sarcophagus and gained a queen’s ransom in gold, jade, diamonds, and rubies. They stripped Ignar of his goods and sealed Ignar’s body in the sarcophagus. Ian dumped the queen’s mummy in the 20′ pit. Alexias grabbed the golden crown off the votive figure of the Queen on the dais. I’m sure none of that will come back to haunt them later.

For a moment, just a moment, Alexias considered shivving his companions. There was just SO much loot. His newfound comrades eyed him with hands on hilts, convincing him that party harmony was more important, and they left the caves, returning to Anthavar and Dellick, a fence that Alexias knows. Across Brendan’s shoulders are draped the five bloody skins of the guards, so it seems clear that their return will not go unnoticed. Next week, we find out if the party can keep their stolen gold, or if a city of thieves will become just a bit richer.

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MERP: DM of the Rings

I was rereading DM of the Rings (yeah, I know it’s not online any more, but I saved a copy for myself back when) and I’ve got to say, it spoke to me. Reminded me a lot of our current MERP campaign, so I’m just going to leave this page here for the rest of the party.

a page of DM of the Rings, a D&D parody of Lord of the Rings

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Six Sample Sectors of the Mutant World Sector Generator

ComputerVirus99 asked for six sample sectors generated by the new Mutant World Sector Generator, so he could compare that to my old Gamma World Generator from 1990. So here’s a file with that data. Enjoy! If you create a sector map of the resulting data, or use elements for your own campaign, please send me a link to the resulting map or adventure description. SixSampleSectorsMutantWorld SectorGenerator

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MERP: From the Frying Pan…

The party was divided. Jor and Leosil rolled down the tracks in a mine cart, closely pursued by one of the lizards. Leosil threw his dagger and Jor cast Light, but they could not stop it. They did make it stumble and fall across a lever, switching the tracks behind them but it was not until they rocketed over a chasm that a broken bridge left the monster with no hope of capturing them. They slowed the cart and came to rest against a wall of timbers blocking their advance. Through the timbers they saw another huge cavern lit by fluorescent fungi, this one with many goblins whipping and beating human miners. Two of the goblins were coming towards the timbers. The mage and rogue prepared to shoot the goblins through the gaps in the timbers and when one goblin peeked through, they let both of the goblins have it. One took an arrow in the gut, and staggered back. The other was surprised and stunned, but only took a flesh wound to the face. Their second round of fire put both of the goblins down, and miraculously, they were not observed. The elves then removed one timber so they could crawl out and drag the bodies back, hoping to disguise themselves. Jor got his back to safety but Leosil was spotted. Desperately, he raised the unconscious goblin’s head and wave his arm. “It’s okay guys,” he shouted, “I’ve got them under control. I’m just going to go get the other one.” All eyes in the cavern were now on him, and the whipping and joyous orc song stopped as they watched Leosil drop the meat puppet’s head and crawl away through the timbers. The goblins charged the timbers, but Jor cast a Fireball and wounded some. Then the elves set fire to the timbers and waited with bows drawn. The goblins attacked en masse and the elves fled down the tunnel again. Leosil was pulled down by a number of yellow hands, and disarmed. Jor stopped in mid-flight and pretended to be throwing a Lightning Bolt, but failed miserably. Leosil claimed that his dagger would explode if not given back, but the goblines were having none of that. Both were taken, disarmed, and thrown before the Goblin King, who interrogated them as to how they got into his tunnels. Leosil claimed ignorance and Jor claimed drunkenness, and they were tossed summarily into the pits to be tortured later.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party had reached the overlook and were preparing to fight off the assault. Elentari healed some of Hammrammr’s injuries while Bregor and Araluth fired arrows into the two lizards that remained. The injured lizard moved away to the edge of the cave and began honking for its brethren. The other lizard scampered up the ramp to attack them hand-to-hand, where he was met by Araluth and Hammrammr. After several rounds, they had weakened him enough that he fell, just as a host of lizards were heard approaching from the tunnel opposite. The party hung from the cliff’s edge and dropped ten feet to the floor, then ran to the same track that Jor and Leosil had used, and put a tipped over cart on the tracks. Two more lizards entered the cave and charged. After the others got in, Araluth pushed it downwards and then was dragged into the cart. They rushed downward pursued by two lizards. Araluth shone light into their eyes, and Hammrammr threw a Molotov cocktail, but the lizards pursued.

The plan had been to follow Jor and Leosil, but since the track had been switched, the party found itself instead slowing on a rusting iron bridge. One of the support chains broke, and the bridge twisted. They grabbed what they could and began climbing. One of the lizards jumped after them, making that side of the bridge collapse under the weight. Elentari reached the top first, followed by Araluth several rounds later. Hammrammr was at the bottom, kicking the lizard below him, but lost his balance. Bregor caught him with his free hand. Then Hammrammr was climbing and Bregor fell below him, landing on the monster’s back and desperate trying to jam his thumb into its eyes.  Hammrammr reached the top and seeing the scout in trouble, tied a rope around himself. The rangers held the rope while Hammrammr swung heroically downwards, reaching for Bregor. He missed by ten feet, but on his return swing, the rangers pulled him upwards and he was able to snatch Bregor to safety. On their third swing, Bregor kicked the monster in the head, and then they were hauled quickly to the top. The lizard renewed its climbing, and the party smashed away the remaining supports on the bridge, then watched the creature and bridge fall into the chasm. Return that way would be… difficult.

Safe, the four healed and rested for six hours. Araluth put on his chain armor. Elentari healed most of their wounds. She thought she heard goblin’s cries and screaming that sounded like Jor, but the rest of the group slept blissfully on.

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Roleplaying “The Expanse,” SSICSIM style

I was doing a web search for material on The Expanse, the science fiction book and SyFy television series, when I came across the SSICSIM site. SSICSIM stands for Secondary School Interactive Crisis Simulation. Founded in 2011, it is an University of Toronto initiative that runs annual educational role-playing sessions for high school students, usually the model UN simulations with which many of us are familiar. In 2016, they tried something a little bit different, something that I think anyone interested in science fiction role-playing would like to know about. That year, one of the simulations was politics of The Expanse. The students involved were split into three factions (Earth, Mars, and The Belt) with six representatives each, plus two third-party delegates (an academic and a journalist).  The material that SSICSIM created for this simulation is a useful resource to someone wanting to do something similarly. They have put that material online. The Training Handbook provides the basic rules for participants in their Model UN simulations. The Expanse Background Guide gives the background for the issues that were at stake in the simulation. By the way, there is also a lot of material online for other past committees. A few are related to science fiction, most notably The Bajor Peace Conference for Star Trek and The Blockade of Naboo for Star Wars. So, if you are interested in the resource materials, go get ’em. If you are interested in being involved, they look for new Directors every year, and they have a Facebook page where you can stay in touch with what is going on.

Screen graphics from The Expanse, a HUD of the solar system, with orbits and other data

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MERP: Into the Caves

After fighting off the wolves, the party slept the rest of the night and then continued to the cleft. There they cached 31 weeks of rations and 2 kegs of water, and after another night, entered the fissure in the dell. Three hours later, they found a small cavern with a 5×30′ dry spot. They climbed the next falls (8′ high) after Araluth fumbled and fell into the water, and after another three hours came to a great underground lake. The rest of the party waded along one side to the tunnel opposite, and then Araluth cast “Walk on Water” and explored the distant side of the lake. His bullseye lantern fell upon a dark ropy mass, that slipped into the water heavily as the light touched upon it. Araluth immediately retreated, weaving through the stalagmites at the water’s edge in hopes of slowing the creature. He made it to the tunnel just in time, pushing Elentari in front of him and pulling Jor after. A huge wave swamped the tunnel briefly, and Elentari caught a glance of a multitude of black snake-like things reaching after them down the tunnel. The party fled from the Watcher in the Water.

An hour later, the party rested for the night on a relatively dry part of the tunnel. At daybreak, they went two hours more, and came to another small caver, this time with a black sand beach. The falls to climb were only 3′ above the water this time, but Leosil managed to fumble and fall into the water nonetheless. The party then went on another three hours. By now, Elentari had used up her two torches, and Hammrammr had used up his as well. Leosil had brought none, which left only Araluth’s lantern (which he was conserving) and Jor’s lantern (which he also had not used). The party relied on Jor’s Light spell.

The next cavern they entered was 500×250′, with an 80′ ceiling. When Araluth lit his lantern, the entire roof lit up with fluorescent lichen, revealing two exits to the right (one of which had water flowing from it) and two exits to the left, both of which had mineshafts and mining carts on rails running into them. Along both the back and front wall was a 10′ wide ramp that led up to a series of small mine shafts, all of which were 10×10′ but which only went back 5-20′. Jor picked up a goblin skull. The floor was covered with crushed and destroyed skulls and bones of goblins, humans, and the rare dwarf. Araluth pulled Bregor up one of the ramps to the high ground 40′ above the cavern, and Hammrammr went up the opposing ramp. Jor investigated one mine cart, and Leosil the other. Araluth was horrified to see Elentari investigating the tunnels at the other end of the tunnel. Scattered and demolished bones indicated predation, and Araluth suspected a troll or worse.

Jor continued to make a lot of noise dropping things, and a six-legged flesh-eating lizard the size of a horse emerged from the tunnel near Elentari, who ran the other direction. The lizard proved twice as fast as a human, which would have been bad enough if Elentari had not tripped and fallen like every woman in a bad B movie, stunning herself for two rounds. Araluth and Bregor shot arrows, doing little damage to its scale mail skin, but Hammrammr ran to her defense, sprinting across the floor and attracting its attention. While Hammrammr fought a desperate battle against the beast, Araluth dropped a rope and pulled Elentari up. Bregor took up a position at the top of the ramp and shot at the two other lizards now entering the cavern in answer to the hoots of the first beast. Hammrammr began to back up towards the rope himself, but took several rounds to do so. Eventually he climbed up, during which time Elentari severely wounded one of the creatures. Meanwhile, Leosil climbed into one of the carts and released the brake. Jor ran after him and was able to climb in when Leosil momentarily hit the brake. The two then accelerated down the tunnel, pursued by one of the lizards.

And thus ended the night. Next week, I anticipate that Leosil and Jor will either do the roller-coaster scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, or the Goblin Chase from The Hobbit, or some combination of the two. At any rate, they’re headed down to Goblintown. Should the rest of us survive, we will only have one lantern left. The only reasonable course of action will be to retrace our way and flee. If we are sure we killed all the killer lizards, perhaps we can wait a day in the dark, hoping that the two will return. That seems all we can do at this point.

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MERP: Meeting with Rinis

Araluth gave a rousing description of deeds of glory that awaited the party at Goblin’s Gate, and convinced Bregor, a Highlander scout for the tower, to accompany them. Araluth, Elentari, Jor, Hammrammr, Bregor, and Morwen left the next day, leading a mule train loaded with trail rations and water kegs. On the third day, they met the wine merchant returning from Moher. After a hearty shared lunch (and shared ale), the party continued on to Moher, where Araluth convinced an incredulous crowd that they did actually intend to dare Goblin’s Gate to free Thane Osric (Thane of Moher). Braul, the acting Thane, was relieved to hear that Freya had been freed and was heading to Maethelburg, but could give the party no aid aside from promising to not attack the Hillmen until the party returned. He did prepare a wonderful feast for the party that evening. The party learned that Gellen, a silk merchant, had come safely through the pass a week ago on his way to Maethelburg. Araluth suspected that Gellen might be in league with the orcs and expected to hear more about him when they returned. In the meantime, Jor exchanged herb lore with the wise women of the town. One of the wise women gave the party four doses of Arlen (heals 4-9 hits) and two doses of Mireana (heals 10 hits). The party also recruited an elvish rogue by the name of Leosil Lorndor, who apparently had “found” Tum’s lost dagger of returning.

The party continued on to Dulin, the hamlet of the Hillmen, where they hoped to meet Rinis. Rinis had escaped from the mines of Goblin’s Gate five years before, and they hoped he could help them enter secretly. On the way to Dulin, the party heard an approaching war party of Hillmen, and got off the road and hid just in time. The Hillmen passed on, and the party continued to Dulin, where Morwen convinced the Hillmen who they were, and Araluth convinced the leader that they were serious. They met Rinis, who told them of a secret cleft from which issued a stream, a cleft that would lead them into Goblin’s Gate secretly. Rinis’s son Rennel agreed to guide them to the cleft (2 days away) in exchange for two of the party’s mules. The party then sold the remaining six mules and 16 weeks of trail rations for a total of 5 gold pieces. Each of the party received one. Morwen overheard some of the Hillmen talking about raiding the Highlanders, so she left the party to travel to the various Hillmen settlements and convince them not to make matters worse.

The party went into the mountains, led by Rennel. On their last night, they were attacked by six wargs. Since there was no fire, Jor cast a light spell on a rock in the center of camp, so the party could see. Leosil fatally wounded one wolf with his dagger from an eyrie in a tree. Araluth drove another away. Hammrammr & Jor defeated another. Rennel took a great deal of damage but Araluth came to his aid and Elentari came to Bregor’s, and the party drove off the remaining wolves. And there ended the night.

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Navah: The Cave of the Winter Wolves

Ian, Josette, and Ignar hunted the last of the winter wolves, assisted by Brendan, a hunter who had arrived too late for the main fight. Brendan was poorly equipped with leather armor for legs and arms, but he did have a visored bascinet and jacke armor for his body. He was accompanied by Erin, his wolfhound. Ian brought his last hunting dog, Sergei. Josette was followed by her fire elemental, the naked Lystdogga, and Fiona the Selkie.

The party tracked the wolves to a cave, where they made short work of the remaining three wolves, who were normal enough. They discovered a chimney heading up and an underground stream with three feet of air above it. They crawled down the stream until it connected with a second cavern system, which had a passage heading down and a puzzling set of depressions in the wall. They solved the puzzle of the depressions and a secret door in the stone appeared and opened. They left Ignar behind to keep the door opened and entered. They found a series of caverns decorated with snake and lizard motifs, and filled with deadly traps. Two humans had entered a thousand years before and paid the price.

The party avoided several traps, found numerous examples of art featuring snake-headed humanoids, perhaps the lost race of the Seveysas, known more commonly as “The Snakes.” At the end of a passage, they found a stone sarcophagus, but as they moved closer they felt warmth in the cavern, then a warm gentle breeze and the smell of orchids.

Turning, they found the tunnel behind them had been replaced by a dense tropical jungle, from which issued six man-sized lizards with pointed teeth, a razor sharp 10 inch claw on each foot, and evil dispositions (Velociraptors). They launched themselves angrily on the rear of the party with flying kicks with their toe claws. The mage was hit in head and leg and was knocked unconscious immediately, bleeding copiously. Sergei was cut in half, and Erin was ripped open in the hindquarters and fell whimpering to the floor. Lystdogga immediately ran to hide behind the sarcophagus, while Brendan and Ian readied their shields and moved forward to combat. The fire elemental, its master unconscious, floated motionless above them, illuminating the battle. Brendan’s new jacke armor saved him from several nasty strikes to the abdomen, but his leather armor did little to protect his leg. Ian was in half-plate, and as the best melee fighter in the party, he managed to evade every blow. The two men slashed the lizards to the floor, and Brendan then cut their throats while Ian wrapped the mage’s wounds. He failed to do so for poor Erin, so he called Brendan to assist. Brendan could do no better, but tenderly held Erin and wept as she slowly bled to death.

A velociraptor lunging to the right.

The Lystdogga chose this moment to leap out and shout, “Yay, we got them!” A moment later, he said, “oh, too soon?” and crept back to his hiding place. Brendan and Ian looked at each other and agreed silently. Ian took one of the lizard legs that had been cut off, and approached the Lystdogga. The small naked creature, sensing the malice directed at him, tried to grapple the leg away, but Ian swung the leg and its attached razor sharp claw down into the Lystodogga’s backside for a grisly wound that slew him instantly. They later told Josette that the Lystdogga had been killed by the lizards.

After skinning the lizards, they took the mage and skins back to the entrance of the cave, then built a fire and melted the snow enough to bury their two dogs. They spent the rest of the night there, and in the morning returned to the village, where Josette was healed by the village witch. The party sold their pelts, but the trader refused to buy the razor sharp toe claws that Ian had brought, claiming that they were demon claws.

The party returned to open the sarcophagus, and found both gold and jade worth about 4,000 s., a great haul indeed. As they left, Josette mentioned seeing a depression in one of the walls, of the kind that had opened the initial secret door. The party ended for the night, uncertain if they wanted to return to the caverns.

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A List of Lovecraft’s Arkham Characters

When I was prepping for an Arkham campaign, I went through Lovecraft’s stories and put this list together of all the characters he mentioned. If you are running Call of Cthulhu (COC), you might find it useful.

Lovecraft’s characters in Arkham

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