Tag Archives: D&D

RPGaDay 2016- Day 24, Game you are most likely to give to others?

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Thats an open question if ever I heard one. I guess it comes down to what that means to me. For me a game I would give to someone else means a game I would suggest others to try and introduce them to the hobby.

For me then, there are two options and it would depend on the people. For the great majority of people, especially children or people in their teens I would suggest D&D, probably either 3.5 or 5th ed, more likely the latter nowadays. D&D is such an easy and manageable game to play to get into the hobby, it can be combat heavy if thats what people want (and it often is when they are new, because it’s easy to manage and understand), it has worlds to fit all tastes and everyone has at least heard of D&D.

For older people or people with more of a serious temperament, I’d use Call of Cthulhu. The advantage of Cthulhu is that it doesn’t require people to learn complex rules and it’s set in the real world, which gives people an easy basis for understanding the context of the game. Further, it relies far more on ideas than actions, especially in investigation heavy games, which is something many people would find easier than detailed rules governing combat.n

 

RPGaDay- 2016, Day 22 Supposedly random game events that keep recurring.

This one made me chuckle quite a lot when I read it and it reminds me of the late, great, Terry Pratchett quote from Mort-

 “Scientists have calculated that the chances of something so patently absurd actually existing are millions to one.

But magicians have calculated that million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten.”

It certainly seems to be an untold rule in RPGs, that those random and million to one shots come up a whole lot more often than they should.

My two best examples are with characters I’ve played (which makes a nice change). The first was my wizard, Sam, from my long running 3rd/3.5 D&D campaign. In that campaign Sam died a total of 3 times and we never actually had a priest, nor could we find one much of the time, so our only recourse when a character died was the druids reincarnate spell. Sam died twice in the campaign (I’ve covered the 3rd death on a different post) and both times he was reincarnated as a Pixie, requiring a very precise roll of something like 51 on a D100.

The other example is much more recent and relates to my current character in a Dark Heresy campaign, Lady Pandora. Recently we were reaching out to our contacts to try and obtain some equipment between missions, we’d been after a few pieces before but always seemed to come up short on the acquisition roll. On a whim, realising that Pandora actually needs very little else, I declared I was searching for a force sword, which required a roll of 001 on a D100, after the modifiers. I rolled and, low and behold, 001. The GM was surprised.

Next someone wanted to try and acquire some power armour and they failed their roll, I reached out to my contacts and rolled a 004, obtaining power armour. I don’t recall what the last item was, I think it was some form of gun and, again, we needed a 001 on that D100, another player rolled and failed, I rolled and got another 001. At that point I declared that I’d stop looking, having exhausted my contacts as it seemed to be getting a bit out of hand. However, the next week, we needed something else, it didn’t need a 001 but that’s what I rolled when I tried.

Rather amusingly I was a Rogue Trader I our last 40k RPG campaign and I collected Xenos weapons. I wanted to try and obtain an Elder Warp Spider Death Spinner and, again, required that supposedly elusive 001 roll and, against all odds, that’s exactly what I rolled.

As a final example there is a rather silly story involving one of my players. I don’t recall the specific scenario but he got it into his head to try and force a D20 into his ear (he was in his late 20’s at the time, which I feel is relevant here). He managed to hold it for a second before it rolled out and landed on a 20. They were in combat at the time, and since it was his turn I let him keep the roll and that meant rolling to confirm the critical (it was a D&D game) for which he tried to jam the dice back into his ear. Again it fell out and again it landed on a 20. Somewhat surprised I told him that if he could do it again and get another 20 I’d let him get and automatic killing blow on the enemy and, much to my surprise, that’s exactly what happened.
They say that it’s ‘random chance’ but I prefer to put it down to the fickle whims of the dice gods, as a great many players do. Those supposedly million to one chances happed all too frequently for it to be coincidence.

RPGaDay 2016- Day 20 Most challenging but system I have ever learned.

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I’m not a huge fan of complex games systems, I’ve played a few and I tend to find that they get in the way of the game. As with a great many in the roleplaying community, I’ve moved towards a preference for rules light systems that favour flexibility over rigid details that cover every minor occurrence in a game.

In terms of games that I considered complex at the time, it’d be AD&D 2nd ed. It was the first rpg that I properly played, the first I ran, the first I learnt and given that I was in my early teens at the time, it was a pretty damn complex game but it was also the game that set me on the path i’m on today, decades later.

For games that at truly complex, maybe Shadowrun, 3rd is probably the most complicated i’ve ever gotten properly to grips with. Shadowrun is one of those systems that has rules that cover everything, including the infamous chunky salsa rule for rebounding shockwaves from explosions. If you ever want an interesting challenge, check out the various rules for building and creating your own cyberdeck and programs in Virtual Realities 2.0.

The most complex i’ve read and tried to get to grips wth is Alpha Omega. That game has something like 12 modifiers that apply to EVERY SINGLE COMBAT ROLL, including, attacker’s stance (lying down, crawling, crouching ducking, standing), defender’s stance, attacker’s movement speed, defender’s movement speed, relative distance between attacker and defender, cover, concealment, lighting, distance between attacker and defender and more. That’s all before you get to monstrosity that is it’s magic system.

 

RPGaDay 2016- Day 16, Historical person you’d like in your group? What game?

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I’m going to be very unoriginal here, I don’t think I’d like to play with any historical person of note, I can’t see what Tesla or Gandhi or anyone could bring to the table that would interest me. Thats not to say I wouldn’t like to meet these people, I’m just not sure what they’d add to a game, boring I know.

So, if I could game with any historical person it’d be Gary Gygax and, unsurprisingly, it’d be D&D. Why? Honestly I’d love to know where the game came from, I’d love to experience what his group did back in the 70’s when roleplaying was in it’s infancy.

See, I told you it wasn’t going to be original.

RPGaDay- 2016 Day 15, Best source of inspiration for RPGs?

It used to be books, I am, or more accurately was, a voracious reader and since I’d read a significant amount of literature set in the games that I wanted to run or play in then I could use that to my own ends. That’s changed though, I have significantly less free time and so when I’m running a game virtually all of my reading time is usually devoted to the rules and adventure, as opposed to wider reading. I still use books as inspiration and I still recommend certain novels to people who want to play certain games, 2XS and House of the Sun for Shadowrun, The Chronicles and Legends for Dragonlance, At the Mountains of Madness and The Dunwich Horror for Cthulhu and many others.

For me, nowadays, it’s TV, far more than even movies (though I saw a whole lot of Numenera in Guardians of the Galaxy). TV has advanced to such a state that it’s held almost in the same regard as film, actors don’t see it as a step down if the show is right (say like True Detective) and networks pump massive amounts of money into shows with Game of Thrones reportedly costing $6 million per episode and Walking Dead around $3 million. Plus, with the rise of traditionally fantasy and sci fi genres in the mainstream, like the aforementioned Game of Thrones and Walking Dead, plus the surge in popularity of Comic Book movies, more subjects that would traditionally be too niche for the mass market are being greenlit.

This means I can find great, hard edged sci fi, like in The Expanse, or fantasy like Shannara or Game of Thrones, it means that I can see settings and themes I love treated seriously and with respect and that helps me form ideas in my head how I want to run games or what kind of character I want to play. If I want to understand how close nit a criminal organisation might be then shows like The Sopranos can help me, if I want to understand gangs then Sons of Anarchy, the Shield and the Wire all give me different perspectives on different types. If I want source material for Deadlands then I need look no further than H*** on Wheels or Deadwood.

I’ve even found inspiration for games like Call of Cthulhu in TV shows recently, with Season 1 of True Detective essentially being about a worshiper of Hastur and with more supernatural shows like Sleepy Hollow essentially being a mash up between Cthulhu NOW and he forthcoming Pulp Cthulhu. H***, Hunter the Vigil is literally embodied in the TV show Supernatural in everything except name and all this is before I start looking into lower budget shows like Dark Matter and Killjoys that make perfect inspiration for Traveller, Firefly (which has its own show anyway) or anything in a space operah setting.

Inspiration for RPGs can come from anywhere but, today, I find it most prevalent in TV as the world embraces geekdom, as ComiCon becomes a mass market spectacle and people tune in every week to find out what an orphaned girl with 3 pet dragons might do next.

RPGaDay 2016- Day 5, Stories others tell about my character

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This one is REALLY hard, mostly because I’m primarily the DM and while I often run DMPCs I do my best to not shine too much so that the players get to be the heroes. Even in the last several years I’ve generally been the DM, aside from playing in a few of my friends various 40k RPG campaigns and, in those, the real highlight points for my characters seem to revolve around improbable dice rolls more than actual actions.

I’ve have to go back a fairly long way to something that really stands out to me and, in a funny twist of fate, none of my current group were actually in the game, in fact I didn’t even know any of them at the time. It was probably the best part of 18 or so years ago and we were playing in a Ravenloft Campaign.

When Black Roses Bloom

We were in Sithicus, playing through the pre-written adventure ‘When Black Roses Bloom’. This adventure holds a special place in my heart because of my love of the Dragonlance and the extended story that Lord Soth received as a result of him being drawn into the Mists. There is a particular part in the last third of the adventure in which you encounter Soth, on his throne, seemingly comatose and exploration brings you to a series of mirrors that seem to be playing images, memories, from parts of the ill-fated Solamnic Knight’s past.

The party enter these mirrors and try to change events with the overall goal of trying to awaken Soth from his slumber in order to protect his domain. One such memory involves trying to stop Soth, while he is still alive, from making a terrible mistake. We spent quite a lot of time discussing what to do, how to distract him or restrain him and time was running out. In a moment of madness I yelled “let’s all dive on Soth” and proceeded to launch myself at him, bodily, wrestling him to the ground.

The next few minutes were spent frantically tussling with the knight, trying to hold him back and, at one point, saw my character sat on his chest, punching him in the face. Most surprisingly the plan worked, we managed to restrain Soth long enough for the course of events to change.

So that’s the one for me, I don’t have anything like many of my friends characters, things like tracking rocks, dying twice in a single minute to the same trap, killing an ancient dragon with a single dragonlance or withstanding hours of torture. My entire claim to fame, the stories the bards sing about my character, is the “let’s all dive on Soth” moment.

RPGaDay 2016- Day 4, Most Impressive Thing Another’s Character Did?

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The most impressive thing I ever saw a character do, bar none, was in an epic level game I ran as an extension of the campaign I mentioned in the last post. After the world was saved the party returned as heroes, were granted marriages and lands and even kingdoms, they opened up magic schools, started druidic circles and generally went on with their lives.

I thought it’d be fun to do something with those characters, kind of a last hurrah, and so i converted up the old 2nd ed D&D adventure A Paladin in Hell and set them on it. One of the first encounters, tailored for the party, was an ambush at a tavern, 9 Pit Fiends, banished from the world at the end of the last campaign, Teleported in and attacked the party. I figured this would be an entertaining and trying encounter for the 22nd level party, one to impress upon them the seriousness of the task ahead. I was wrong.

So very, very wrong.

The Pit Fiends dropped in and took their surprise round, causing a little damage and we wen down to initiative. It was at this point that Pit Fiends move like Gelatinous Cubes when compared to the speed of a 22nd level Arcane Archer (remember it had been a while since the main campaign ended and we’d been playing low level games since).

Lightning Quick the Arcane Archer unleashed a volley of arrows from his Artefact Bow, hitting with a full 7 attacks and dropping, literally killing, 7 of the 9 Pit Fiends in a single action. The other two, thinking twice about the people they’d trifled with were about to Teleport out on their action but it didn’t even come close to that, they were dead before they could blink.

So, the most impressive thing i’ve ever seen in a character do, kill 7 Pit Fiends before they can even act in combat, when it’s the Pit Fiends who set and sprung the ambush.

It’s hard to challenge a party at that point…..

RPGaDay 2016- Day 3, Character Moment you are Proudest of?

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This is a hard question, i’ve been roleplaying for almost 25 years and i’ve had hundreds of characters in that time in dozens of different games and systems. It’s even harder because, despite all that, i actually DM way more than I play and so my proud character moments tend to be few and far between.

My proudest is probably the death of one of my more beloved characters, a wizard by the name of Sam and that was back in 3rd ed D&D. It was at the end of an extended campaign, one that ran for probably 2 and a half years at uni with session twice a week, sessions that regularly lasted 12 hours.

The campaign spanned my homebrew world, Ravenloft, Planescape and back and ended with a grand incursion of Tanar’ri into the world through a rift caused by the the Altraloth Bubonix. The only way to seal the rift was through personal sacrifice, one of the players needed to sacrifice their soul to hold the rift closed and save the world.

The party didn’t shirk from this responsibility, even the evil members, they’d travelled long and far to get back home, they’d lost friends and allies, killed friends and allies and sacrificed everything for the chance to live (and maybe rule) in their home plane again and they would not give it up without a fight. Several argued that it should be them, that they should be the one to make the great sacrifice but, in the end Sam took that choice from them.

Sam was a twice dead wizard, killed and reincarnated twice, as a pixie, though he’d never let you know it, he never wore that form. He’d been dead before, he’d held his dead friends and he’d been to the Abyss and fought Demon Princes and he knew this incursion would mean for his world.

Most importantly, Sam could not, would not, let any more of his friends die while it was in his power to stop it and, as a level 22 wizard with epic level spells at his disposal, it was within his power. Sam stopped time while the other argue, he stopped time and teleported himself into the rift, sacrificing himself and his power to save the world.

A lot of people would argue that a DM PC shouldn’t have this final great moment, but Sam was more than a DM PC, he was MY character, he’d been with the party since level 5 (when my former monk contracted vampirism and left the party) and he’d been through a lot. Sam was much more than a DM PC, he wasn’t a plot device to drive the story forward, he wasn’t their to make up numbers (the party was regularly 7 players and me), he was there because I wanted to play the game and my players had no problem with that.

Tasslehoff’s Map Pouch- Age of Mortals

Name: Tasslehoff’s Map Pouch- The Age of Mortals
Type: Accessory
Publisher: Sovereign Press
System: Dungeons and Dragons any edition
Setting: Dragonlance
Pages: N/A
Cover: Softcover
Price: Out of print
Rating: 3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)

Tasslehoff's Map Pouch- Age of Mortals, Cover

There are some things in a collection that are considered prized possessions, items that mean more to you than they would to others because of their rarity, because of their link to a cherished memory or because of who gave them to you. Tasslehoff’s Map Pouch- Age of Mortals is one such item for me and it’s for all 3 reasons and more.

Tasslehoff’s Map Pouch- Age of Mortals was released as part of the D&D 3rd ed range of Dragonlance products that Sovereign Press produced. At that time Sovereign Press, owned by Margaret Weis, had licensed Dragonance from Wizards of the Coast and was producing a line of books that covered various periods from the classic ‘War of the Lance’ line all the way into the ‘Age of Mortals’ and ‘War of Souls’. Tas’s Map Pouch was released as part of a series of map based accessories and was the first product in that line.

All the maps were drawn by Sean Macdonald and the cover art for the set was created by Larry Elmore and Ken Whitman. The cover is particularly nice, being a really good up close illustration of the irrepressible Kender behind a table of maps, that may or may not be his but are definitely about to make their way into his possession.

In the set you get 12 maps. Eleven of these are A4 sixed small maps and then there is a single poster sized map. The maps included are-

  • Ansalon in the Age of Mortals- this is the poster sized map.
  • Solace
  • The Tower of High Sorcery in Wayreth
  • Citadel of Light
  • City of Teyr
  • City of Solanthus
  • City of Sanction
  • Nalis Aren- The Lake of Death
  • Storm’s Keep
  • Darkling Hall
  • Ansalon in the Age of Mortals as drawn by Tas
  • The Desolation

Tas's Map Pouch- Age of Mortals, Poster Map

I’ll start with the poster map as it’s one of my most treasured possessions. As expected the map covers Ansalon in the Age of Mortals, which means such things as The Desolation and the Great Swamp are depicted since huge swaths of the continent were reshaped by the Great Dragons during this era. Also, because of the era, there are some notable changes to the map from the more well-known earlier periods and the most prominent is the absence of the maelstrom in the Blood Sea of Istar.

While it’s not my favourite era it is a truly stunning map, accurately showing the scale of the continent (which is much smaller than you’d think at around 1300 miles wide and 870 miles long) and defining the individual regions. While I know where places are, seeing them in context helps bring the setting to life in a whole different way and being able to actually point to places during games really helps my players understand where they are and what is close by. I like the fact that the map also references other continents like Taladas and Ithun’carthia and shows their locations in relation to Ansalon as we as showing where notable places like the Isle of Gargeth would be.

The map has hundreds of locations named on it, from major cities like Palanthas and Solace, to holy sites relevant to individual gods (who are no longer relevant in the Age of Mortals) and other places of interest such as the feared Dargaard Keep. I’m sure that some places have been missed, perhaps because they aren’t relevant to the setting in this era or because they were only ever mentioned in passing in a single novel or sourcebook but, to my mind, everything important seems to be on there, everything I’ve looked for anyway, and so it seems to pretty complete.

It’s not really relevant to the review but when it was in production you could buy directly from Sovereign Press and, if you did, you could request it be signed by Margaret Weis. It’s this signature that makes the map so valuable to me, and it reads ‘May Dragons fly Ever in your Dreams, Margaret Weis’.

Of the other maps nearly all are of recognisable locations to fans of the fluff but there is one exception and that’s Darkling Hall-

Tas's Map Pouch, Age of Mortals, Darkling Hall

Darkling Hall doesn’t exist in the fluff for the setting as far as I’m aware and was inserted as a location that GM’s could use to make their own stories around. I like this idea as one of the biggest criticisms of Dragonlance as a setting is that PC’s can never really live up to the legends of the character sin the main fluff and so adding an interesting and exciting new location helps drive a different approach.

Darkling Hall looks to be a temple to all of the dark gods, located somewhere near a place known as the City of Shadows (which I confess to also not knowing so I presume it’s also an invention for this map). It is 8 sided with an alcove for each of the gods surrounding a area, perhaps a reflecting pool, which shows the constellations of the evil gods high as they would be seen in the night sky. This central chamber is known as the Chamber of Trials and each god appears to have a trial associated with them, such as the Trial of Immortality for Chemosh or the Trial of Vengeance for Sargonnas.

The only explanation given relates to the Hall of Warning which looks to be the entrance and this takes the form of a written warning that advises that those of evil intent can pass a single challenge to ‘dwell among their kind’ while good hearted individuals must face all 8 challenges. There is a lot of possibilities that the DM can expand upon in using this room with each element providing more and more story opportunities.

Tas's Map Pouch, Age of Mortals, Solace map

No collection of maps for Krynn would be complete without a map of Solace, the city famous for being the start of the Companion’s quest during the War of the Lance. Solace is about as iconic a place in the Dragonlance setting as it’s possible to have and it’s nice to see a full colour map of it. As it’s set during the Age of Mortals the map legend includes things like the Last Heroes Tomb, commemorating those who dies during the War against Chaos as well as the Academy of Sorcery founded by Palin.

The Inn of the Last Home is, of course features, as is the Trough, the rougher tavern at the opposite end of town that is generally frequented by mercenaries and other lowlifes. As expected the drawing is filled with trees, as befitting Solace, although a great many dwellings now cover the ground as well since the settlement has expanded over the years since the War of the Lance.

Tas's Map Pouch Age of Mortals- tower of Wayreth

Another nice inclusion is the Tower of High Sorcery in Wayreth. While the sourcebook Towers of High Sorcery contains significantly more information about the tower, it doesn’t include a map and for a place that may well be visited by just about any Wizard character in the game, having a map is a nice thing, even if you never actually need it to run the Test of High Sorcery.

This map is split, covering an aerial map of the compound and then a floor by floor breakdown of the two towers that make up the Tower itself. The only downside really is that having a map takes little bit of the mystery out of the location, a place that should inspire wonder and dread in equal measures, but you can’t have it both ways.

Of the other maps 3 cover cities, Teyr, Solanthus and Sanction and these are of great use when running the game as I find being able to properly help player orientate in a city helps it feel more real and so bring the setting alive in their minds. Of the 3 only Sanction is what I’d call a tier one city, having been the site of numerous important events, especially in the Age of Mortals and beyond. On a personal note though, I like having Solanthus as my own games invariably end up in middle Solamnia at some point and Solanthus makes a good stopping off place. Personally I would have preferred Palanthas but that may well have appeared in the later War of the Lance or Legends map collections.

Two of the maps cover citadels/fortresses, these being Goldmoon’s Citidel of Light and Storms Keep, headquarters of the Knights of Takhisis and Ariakan’s personal abode. Neither is a must have but as both are of great importance during the period, being the symbolic seats of power for the opposing sides of light and dark, they are a solid inclusion.

Tas's Map Pouch, Age of Mortals, Nalis Aren Map

One map is of a wilderness location, being Nalis Aren, the Lake of Death that was once the great Elven city of Qualinesti. These isn’t much to this one, just a short legend defining where notable features of the city, such as the Tower of the Sun, were and the body of the great green dragon Beryl. To be honest this didn’t need to be in the set, it’s an important feature of the period but the map doesn’t really show anything and fluff in the Age of Mortals book more than suffices to cover this.

The last two maps are area maps. One is Tas’s own map of Ansalon in the Age of Mortals (if the signature is to be believed) and serves to be a solid in game hand out of the world. The other is a similar map of the Desolation, the north eastern area of Ansalon that has been taken over by the great red dragon, Malys and turned into a veritable hellhole. Most notable here is the location of the kender city of Kendermore, destroyed by Malys due to her hatred of that race. This map is apparently the property of the kender Kronn Thistleknot, presumably the descendant of the kender hero Kronin Thistleknot.

On the whole this is a nice collection. At the time of release it wasn’t prohibitively expensive and so it made for a nice addition to the collection. It had neither crunch nor fluff and no source material is included to support anything, something that isn’t really a problem but it would have been nice to perhaps have details of where supporting fluff could be found in within the Dragonlance range.

I’m happy with it, but I know I have rose tinted glasses for the setting and especially because of the signed poster-map. There are certainly weak maps in the set, like Nalis Aren, but those that are good are really good and nice to have. I wouldn’t pay a lot for the set and that makes it hard to find now in the UK if Amazon and Ebay are anything to go by, but if you do see a good quality copy out there for something resembling retail price it’s certainly a worthy addition to your collection.

 

Dragonlance: The Prologue

Dragonlance Logo

The campaign starts in the Autumn, in 343AC, in the village of Digfel in Abanasinia. The would be heroes are all children living in the village and this prologue tells the story of their first adventure together.

At this point in the story Aldorin has only been in town for a few weeks, hit mother staying here as it is one of the few places that the young elf has been able to make friends. Thorin is you but apprenticed to the village blacksmith and is learning his trade there. The group of children are all of like physical and mental age and play together when their chores are done, either in their tree-house of Solace, in an old abandoned water mill or in some nearby caves reported to be haunted.

The day started like many others, with the children meeting on the edge of town, just after midday. However something about that day was a little different, their friend Talimarious didn’t show up and so they went to call on him. When they arrived at his house they were alarmed to find out that Tally (as they affectionately called him) wasn’t there and, more alarmingly, that his mother didn’t remember him and that his bedroom was being used as a pantry. The asked around town to try and understand what was going on and were met with accusations of tall tales regarding their friend, no-one, except for them, could remember him.

Unsure as to what to do the group decided to search their most common play spots, to see if they could find any clues as to what had happened to Tally. They first checked their Tree-House, but found nothing there and so just picked up with wooden swords and shields and made their way to the Abandoned Mill. Here they found tracks of some kind of humanoid leading into the attached house. Closely looking at the tracks they determined that they were recent and look like they were made by some kind of goblinoid.

Taking great care they managed to sneak into the house and up the stairs without alerting the creature and they ambushed it as it was in it’s makeshift lair. Now, being around 10 years old, a single goblin posed quite a challenge for the diminutive heroes and what followed was a frantic 30 seconds of trying to beat the knife wielding goblin around the head with a rusty skillet what the wannabe wizard through handfuls of flour at it hoping that some of the random gibberish would turn out to be the words to a spell.

Eventually the goblin was defeated after the dwarf, Thorin, managed to leap on it’s back, grapping it to the ground while it was blinded from the flour and Remus knocked it out with the skillet, now dubbed the Skillet of Justice. Feeling rather proud of themselves the group wrapped the goblin up in as much rope as they could find and paraded him through the village before receiving a 2 steel piece rewards, spending it on sweetcakes and then running around hyperactive on sugar for the rest of the day. Of their missing friend, Talimarious, there was still no sign.

The last place to search was the haunted caves. No one knew why they were haunted and the group just recall that it was the older children that passed down this secret knowledge to them. REMUSXX did all that he could to perpetuate this myth and had previously put a scarecrow in the caves to provide a suitably ominous presence for anyone sneaking inside. As always the group approached the caves cautiously, entering through the narrower northern entrance. No-one had ever actually seen a ghost hear but that didn’t stop them creeping forward with fear in their hearts. As they approached the first cavern they heard a noise, something scuttling in the darkness before a wolf pounced on Bastion, who was leading the party. The wolf sank it’s teeth deep into the child’s arm and, in that one act, gave Bastion a lifelong distrust on all wild animals. For it’s effort the wolf earned a solid smack to the face with a wooden sword and ran away whimpering.

While Bastion nursed his wounded arm under the care of Aldoran, Thorin and Remus searched the complex of caves and found that a recent cave in had caused a hole to appear in the floor of the second cavern and that the pit seemed to descend into some form of dwarf made complex that was previously unknown. Remus returned to town to acquire rope but, being particularly intrigued by the idea of dwarven ruins Thorin obtained himself a suitable branch to use as a makeshift ladder and descended into the complex below to find that he was in a corridor, blocked at one end by a cave in and with a door in the other. While the complex certainly appeared to be of dwarven craftsmanship it was human sized in all other proportions.

Thorin proceeded to search alone, creeping cautiously forward through the first stone door and into a room containing the plinths of 5 statues, long since damaged beyond recognition. Another door lead to an north/south corridor and wide hallway with a large set of double doors, made of stone and brass and bearing the image of a fiery gate. Feeling that this last door would indeed lead to treasure Thorin put caution and thoughts of his lost friend to one side and approached eagerly, in doing so setting off a trap and falling into a pit.

When Thorin hadn’t returned the rest of the party set out to look for him, now using RemusS’s newly liberated rope. They found him quickly and managed to pull him free of the pit and after he dusted himself off he was a bit worse for wear but able to stumble along behind the rest of the party. At this point Hett, another of their friends who has been stuck doing chores, turned up and advised Bastion that his mum wanted him and it looked like he might be grounded for getting into a fight with a goblin.

The rest of the group, now with Hett appraised of their missing friend, made their way through the corridor heading north and after it turned west found 2 locked doors, one in each of the north and south wall. Hett and Remus worked together and managed to pick the lock on the southern door with their rudimentary equipment, revealing a room that may once have been a bedchamber for a number of human sized occupants, judging by the rotten remains of beds and mattresses. The northern door revealed little more, with just some smashed pottery, glass and a stone alter in the room.

Further around the corridor, that had taken a southern turn, they found 2 more doors, locked but leading to larger rooms. The eastern door appeared to lead to another bedroom, but with just a single bed inside. The western door was more curious after a glance through the door revealed another stone alter, but once it was unlocked (with Remus setting off another trap, which would have poisoned him had the poison not long since dried up) the room was shown to be clean, tidy and sparsely furnished as a bedroom. Aldorin surmised that the room must have a powerful illusion cast upon it but after trying hard to disbelieve concluded that Thorin had simply made a mistake and the group moved on.

The corridor took another turn, this time east and another two doors were found. Aldorin followed the corridor round a further turn to the north to discover that it liked back up with the original corridor to form a square. Of the two new doors, one couldn’t be opened and the other seemed to lead to some form of a library. The walls were covered, floor to ceiling with bookcases containing all manner of books and scrolls that Aldorin surmised must be magical from the runic writing on their spines. Summoning all of his power he cast a mighty spell of Detect Magic and found that all of the books and scrolls were protected by a powerful spell, all except one, a scroll buried beneath some detritus on the floor, a scroll bearing the necromantic spell of Animate Dead.

While Aldorin was “playing with boring books” as Remus put it, Remus and Hett made their way back to the mighty double doors, convincing each other of the magnificent treasures that must be held within. They knew the door was locked but with the open pit could find no reasonable way to reach the door to try and pick it and hit upon the plan of taking the bed from the neat and tidy room and using it as a ladder/stepping stone. Between the two of them they managed to manoeuvre the bed to the door but, try as they might, they couldn’t get it out of the door, either one would slip, or it would get jammed in the door or, in one instance, it simply vanished from sight as it crossed the threshold. This convinced them that magic may indeed be responsible but, again, they were unable to see through whatever illusion may have existed.

It was around this time that the children decided that they may need to go home for supper and vowed to return the next day to discover the secrets of the big room.

On day 2 they completed their chores as normal and discovered Bastion was still not allowed out to play so they went onto the caves without him. Descending down into the dwarven halls once more they approached the pit in front of the double doors. Thorin had hit upon a reasonable idea and had brought along a hammer and nails and went about constructing a platform to bridge the two sides of the pit and allow Remus and Hett to try and pick the lock. Despite REMUS’s reservations as to the sturdiness of a platform built by an apprentice blacksmith he risked using it anyway and consequently fell down the pit when it broke, twisting his ankle.

Aldorin noticed that there were large stone carvings above the door, and hit upon the idea of throwing a rope over them to suspend Hett in front of the door so he could open it. While the plan seemed dubious, it worked and the doors were unlocked causing the party to scurry to safety behind a nearby wall in case some huge creature swooped out and tried to eat them. Using a branch gathered earlier Thorin carefully pushed the door open from a distance so as to avoid any potential traps or protective wards that may have been set to guard the room. No such defensive measures were forthcoming but the group were met with an unholy screaming and flickering prismatic lights as the door edged open.

Hett, the first to enter, found himself in a large room with an arcane looking circle dominating it’s middle. Floating above the circle, surrounded by a bubble of roiling prismatic smoke was the source of the screaming, their missing friend Talimarious. The bubble was being bombarded with bolts of crackling energy emanating from 3 vases set upon ornate marble stands, in 3 of the corners of the room. A 4th vase lay broken on the floor in the north west corner. A quick search found a reset switch for the pit trap which allowed the others easy entry into the room and they instantly set upon throwing stones at the remaining vases to break them, under the belief that this would help their friend.

It was at this time that Bastion, having managed to sneak out of his house joined the group once more just in time to see one of the vases break., Aldorin was the first to strike true, shattering the south east vase with a ray of frost that left him exausted and this set of a chain of events that they would remember for a long long time and that would leave permanent scars on the children.

The room erupted with an almighty explosion, blinding all inside and bolts of light rebounded off the walls, striking both Aldorin and Thorin. Thorin began to run, heading out of the door and back to the entrance as a thick green acid fog began to rapidly fill the room, seeping out of all 4 vases. Of Talimarious there was no sign.

The group tried to run but the smoke got to Remus before he could plant a step, forcing Hett to run back and rescue him, carry his friend on his shoulders. Aldorin, exhausted from his spell, staggered after Hett and Remus, forcing his wearing feet to carry him forward faster than should have been possible. Bastion, struck with the terrible awe of the moment, was the last to leave, barely escaping as the acid fog descended on him, horribly burning the right side of his face.The group escaped with their lives, but without their missing friend. They returned to town changed by their experience, brought closer as a group and, although they didn’t know it, with a destiny mapped out for them.

Also, they were all pretty much grounded for the rest of their childhood and none of them could sit down for a week.