Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Kingmaker: Part 2, the Return

After almost two years of inactivity, I suppose it would be a good time to pick up from where we last left off.  Let me regale you with another tale from Kingmaker.

The session described herein is a continuation of the last.  Most of the characters are the same, but we added a face toward the end of the day.  Get used to it; players (and thus their characters) jumped in and out of the game frequently.  Familiar faces Paddy McRuleslawer (Roman the Ranger), Mistress of Pain (Bardock the Fighter), Dragonking (Torgar the Dwarf), Whore of Babylon (Lyla the Rogue), and LongDong Silver (Spit the Cleric) returned.  Joining them was Roommate the Terrible, Mistress's then-boyfriend.  While RtT was a terrible, terrible person (and roommate, surprisingly...) he was a pretty good gamer.  He ran a somewhat reformed former Paladin NPC.  He comes into play towards the end of the story.

Now that you are reacquainted with the cast, the show can go on!

Once a price in silver had been agreed upon, the players shook hands with the kobold chief and agreed to get his idol back from the mites of the evil sycamore tree.  Directions were given, and away the party went. 

It was about twelve miles between the two settlements, so the party took their time.  After a day or so (sleep was needed, and walking hurt their feet-sies) they came upon the unmistakably evil-looking giant tree.  Paddy asked if the mites were, in fact, ter-mites.  Dice were thrown his way before the story continued.

As stealth wasn't the forte of the party (and honestly never would be), the combat route was chosen.  Bardock was fairly good at wrecking shit, being a barbarian and all, but the mites were a bit tough for the party.  The racial DR/cold iron was a pretty big bane to overcome.  The party fought tooth and nail before finally making it into a torture room, where they found three kobolds chained to a wall.  Two of them were dead, but the last... He would grow to have a life of his own, far and away above anything I ever dreamed.

This kobold, last of his warriors, was the greatest of them.  He had survived days of torture, even after his compatriots had expired, out of spite.  He refused to give his mite captors the satisfaction of seeing him beg.  Or die.  So, once the PC's arrived, he took his chances with the big'uns and threw his lot in with them.

Announcing himself as Mikmek, the kobold bartered his services as a warrior for his freedom.

"How much of a warrior could you be if you and your men got captured."  Lyla's question drew a hiss of anger from the proud dragonkin.

"They outnumbered us 20 to 1, and we killed more than our fair share.  Also, I know where some cold iron weapons are being kept."

That got him released quickly enough, as well as a round of healing hands from Spit.  Once free, Mikmek lead them to the weapons cache of he and his fellow (fallen) warriors.  The party was unimpressed with the three small-sized short spears, even more so when Mikmek reclaimed his own.  Still, anything to overcome the DR was a step above where they had started.

Proper tools in hand, the PC's mowed through the mites.  Their newly acquired ally, through a series of good rolls that would come to characterize much of his existence, landed the killing blow on the mite leader and picked up the idol both he and the PC's had been sent after.  Thus began the days long trek back (hey, health was needed).

Fully healed, the party returned to the kobold cave.  Mikmek proudly presented the idol to his chief, who promptly called forth all of the tribe and declared holy jihad on the purple interloper who had usurped him.  The chief promised his weight in silver should the players join his cause.  They quickly agreed that the purple-kobold-eater had to go.

Despite the entire tribe rallying behind their chief, only the recent rescue-e joined the players at the forefront.  Bravery is not a trait found common amongst kobolds.  It was a mighty battle, in which the Gnomish sorcerer (heretofore cursed to live as a purple kobold) wounded several of the players before he could be dispatched.  A few healing rounds from Spit (courtesy LongDong Silver) and the party had found itself in the everlasting good graces of Chief Sootscale.  The chief paid his dues, 31 lbs of silver (1550 silver pieces, or 155GP worth of loot for you conversionist pigs who can't stand wealth of other types) for the assistance of the PC's.  When asked about their reward for bringing back the idol, the chief balked.

"Isn't a cache of silver enough?"


The matter settled, Chief Sootscale thought about another possible avenue.

"Hey, do you need a map of the area?  'Cause I can draw you up one of those!"

The players debated his offer hotly before declining with a counter offer.

"What if we take Mikmek as a guide?"

Now, I was shocked, as I had previously told my players that I did not want to run an NPC player under any circumstances.  They had grown to love the little guy with the fiery heart that was so atypical of his people.  I reluctantly agreed, provided that Paddy (resident stat-rolling God) roll me up some stats.  They were appropriately wonderful.

Another matter settled, the group, now plus a kobold warrior, decided to go about their original task of founding a city to help tame the Stolen Lands.  Also to get Olaf, lovable old junk dealer from the intro, his shit back.  And kill bandits.  Roman loved to kill bandits, usually in creative ways and leave their corpses displayed in such a manner as to discourage further banditry.  Mikmek let on that the he knew where the bandit king known as the Stag Lord resided, but that it was a dangerous place full of dark sorcery.  So he lead them there.

The players 'covertly', and by that I mean stayed well enough away to avoid being spotted, surveyed the area.  Dragonking had a plan.

"Hey, wasn't there a beat up ballista back at Olaf's?"

"Erm, yes?"

"Good.  Torgar has ranks in Craft: Siege Engines."  I had to double check Torgar's character sheet.  Not because I doubted Dragonking mind you, but the sheer good fortune of it blew me away.  Sure enough, max ranks (all of 2 at that point) plus a couple of points from Int and Trained.  A +7 total.

"It may take you awhile to fix it, not to mention weeks to pull it to the location!"

"Great, that gives me the time to fix it."  Dragonking and I bantered back and forth about the need for lumber and tools, but they players were able to get everything they needed from either Olaf's or the nearby forest.  Then the march began.  Along the way, a catapult was built as well.  High craft rolls and weeks of time can do that for you.  The PC's arrived with enough ammo to bring down Camelot.

The players fired an opening volley to get the bandits' attention.  Their gambit succeeded, as the Stag Lord drunkenly made his way to the battlements.

"Surrender yourselves to the lawful authorities, us, and we will deal with you fairly!" cried out Torgar as he stood atop the ballista.  Paddy had a better idea, but thankfully Roman muttered it only loud enough for his fellow party members to hear.

"Yeah, we'll kill you all slowly then leave you for your friends to find."

"Surrender!?  Pfft, we'd rather die than surrender to the likes of you," came the Stag Lord's predictable response.  Enter Terrible the Roommate.  His character was the second in command of the fort.  Unlike his fellow bandits, he didn't much care for the lifestyle of raping and pillaging.  The only reason he stuck around was because a far worse fate awaited him back home, should he ever be found and deported to his home country.  Something about the way Dragonking presented the case, along with the impressive armaments and TtR's own lack of desire to die, caused a wonderful scene.

"I stab the Stag Lord through the heart, throw him off the ramparts, and declare 'We Surrender' at the top of my lungs." 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kingmaker: Part I

Ah, Kingmaker.  An ongoing campaign that began sometime in 2009, making it the longest running single campaign in my current groups' history.

Some of you may be familiar with this product from Paizo.  For those of you that are not, let me tell you a bit about it.  It was billed as the ultimate sandbox adventure where your PCs literally built a kingdom as they saw fit, governed it how they wanted, built cities where and how they wanted, the whole shebang.  If you have read my previous entry, the Undermountains of Madness, you will know that this is not an uncommon desire in my group.  And to actually have rules to support such conquest?  I was eager to run this campaign.

I gathered together quite a large group.  Familiar face Paddy McRuleslawer heeded my call to arms along with several new additions.  The former ran Roman the Human Ranger.  Now let me take some time to introduce all the latter.

First we had the Mistress of Pain, running a human fighter.  She runs a "weekly" 3.5 D&D game and, as DM, frequently lives up to her moniker.  That, and girl is just kinky.

The second lady (I use the term generously) who joined us was the Whore of Babylon, a nickname earned from something her significant other did.  Plus, she eventually lived up to the name...  Anyhoo, she too ran a human rogue, Lyla.

WoB's then boyfriend, a frequent collaborator of ours going back a few years, is LongDong Silver, a man whose endowment is legend (I seen it!).  He portrayed a Human Cleric of Erastil.

Lastly (for the first session, anyway), we were joined by the Dragonking.  On top of sharing my religion (Asatru, if anyone was wondering), he also shares my penchant for loving Kobolds and Dragons.  He was the first to suggest adding Kobolds as a permanent PC race.  It was with him that I created the Kobold modified starting attributes (+2 dex & cha, -2 str, in the event you were curious).   Also, he was an extremely competent DM in his own right.  He controlled Torgar, a Dwarven Fighter.

The cast assembled for the first session (more were added later; gird yourself for future introductions), we began in Olaf's trading post.  We had been sent out by the mighty Swordlords of Restov to curb the recent influx of bandits as well as chart the massive swath of land that separated Brevoy from the River Kingdoms.  This land, widely dubbed the Stolen Lands, was home to all manner of beasts and brutes.  It was also home to a lovely elderly couple.

Olaf, a hard man with a heart of gold, and his wife, Svetlana, operated a little place just outside of recognised Brevoy territory, situated on the southernmost corner of the South Rostland Road, a major trading route.

While there provisioning themselves, my PCs were informed by Olaf that they had come at a most opportune time; bandits were scheduled to arrive any day now to collect their "due".  My PCs politely informed him that they had not been sent to aid him, as was his misconception, but they would gladly do so out the kindness of their hearts.  This rare outburst of altruism warmed my own.

The PCs got together with Olaf and Svetlana and discussed what usually went down when the bandits arrived.  My players at first wanted to deal with the thieves immediately but Dragonking pointed out that they were unlikely to be carrying the previous loot on them and that a bit of sleuthery would net them Olaf's missing valuables, which included his wife's wedding ring.

Deciding discretion was valour, the PC's hid out while the bad guys beat around on old Olaf.  Eventually, after making certain that the old geezer hadn't broken a hip, they left and the hunt was on.

Our heroes competently tracked the bandits (Paddy rolled really well) and followed them to a clearing.  The battle was harrowing but they made it out alive, liberating the ill gotten gains of their fallen foes.  They returned the booty to Olaf and Svetlana only to discover that, while the ring and several other stolen goods were there, a large chunk of what had been stolen in previous months was not.  It appeared that these were not the chiefs of the bandit operation.  That's when Olaf told them about the Stag Lord, king of the bandits.  Oh good.

So, new goal, the group begins exploring the world that is the Stolen Lands.  Along the way they encountered a berry patch with kobolds stuffing their faces.  At the sight of the PC's they squawked but could do little else, for they had eaten themselves silly.  Berries are irresistible to the little buggers and they simply couldn't help themselves.

When the PC's didn't slaughter them on sight, they began to relay their tale of woe and misfortune; mites (evil, goblin-looking fey) had stolen the tribes idol, the latest development in their lifelong war.  Seriously, the war between the two species had been waged for decades, which in kobold time, means several generations.

Once they could move, the kobolds led the PC's back to to their homeland, a silver mine.  The $$ in my players' eyes were unmistakable.

The entrance was 'guarded' by a sleeping kobold who awoke at the piteous mewling that their captured mite made at our arrival.  The players opted to not put it out of its misery.  Go figure.

After being cautiously escorted to chief Sootscale of the Sootscale tribe (originality runs deep with kobolds...) he pulled the PC's aside and told them of their ills.

A purple kobold (he stood out because all the Sootscales' were black of scale) had recently come in and taken over the tribe with his foul magics.  During this time, the idol representing the tribal gods had been stolen by the mites.  He had sent his most powerful warriors to retrieve it.  Dragonking looked over at him.

"If you sent the strongest, why didn't you go?"  The question befuddled me momentarily, until I remembered that kobolds, despite their awesomeness, are quite evil.

"Who would govern if I were gone?"

"The purple one," Mistress muttered, to much laughter.  The kobold chief was not happy but knew better than to cross the large party of skilled warriors, especially since all his own were gone.

"Look," the chief said, "if you help me out and rescue the idol, I'll make it worth your while."

"How's that," WoB asked, to which the chief spread his arms wide.

"Have you seen where we live?"  The matter settled, the party headed north to the old sycamore tree to fight the evil mites and retrieve the idol.  I did not then comprehend just how much that decision would shape the rest of our 4+ year campaign.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Godzilla review: The King Has Returned!

It has been many, many years since I viewed a good Godzilla movie.  Legitimately good, not just campy good.  The 1999 reboot was an okay film but a terrible Godzilla movie.  One wonders how they got so far afield, what with all the rampant destruction and all...

I digress.  What I will attempt to do is give a spoiler free review before getting to the really good stuff.  It's a trial; we'll see how it goes.

Let me start off with the negatives.  The music was... odd.  Not bad, mind you, but awkwardly placed in several instances.  Especially towards the end, when Godzilla is triumphant in battle, there is a weird uplifting score that just really took me out of the moment.  It had it's ups (I especially enjoyed the Japanese inspired tunes) but it did more to pull me out than anything.

Also against it was the odd acting.  There were times when I couldn't believe in the portrayal of two of the main cast members, Ken Watanabe and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.  They were usually really well, and I wouldn't say that at any time they phoned it in, but there were certainly some strange acting choices going on in a few scenes.  

Now, on to the positives; its fucking Godzilla! Gone is the angry lizard from Broderick's fiasco, this is the real deal.  Straddling the line between hero and force of destruction, this movie had a great interpretation of our titular kaiju.  Also, he looked bad-ass.  And those effects!  Stellar.  The building destruction was excellent and the other CGI was great.  And for anyone who has seen the trailer; when the king roars?  Just breathtaking.  It took me back to my childhood.

A final, pre-spoiler note; I saw this film in dbox.  The 3d effects were neither good nor bad; never drawing me out of the film but never adding much to it either.  The dbox effects were meh at best, and damned uncomfortable as I couldn't lean back, but that is not an issue with the film.  I recommend seeing it in Imax if you opt to go the glasses route but 2d viewers likely aren't missing much and saving money.

Now, I notice that my wordcount of negative v. positive may make my position seem like it was a bad or otherwise unenjoyable movie; not so!  I highly recommend this movie.  Please, if you're a fan of Godzilla, or kaiju in general (I'm looking at you, fellow fans of Pacific Rim), do yourself a favour and watch this flick. 

Now, spoilers on. 

From the get go, this movie showed that it was all about the humans involved, but in a good way.  Not the shitty Transformers way.  Bryan Cranston turns in an amazing performance for the bits of movie he was in.  Yeah, he dies.

I'm not sure said death was necessary, the character could have stuck around and been a great foil for Wantanbe's psuedo-spiritual scientist, but I feel his mortality did sort of counterbalance the apparent invincibility of his son, played by the aforementioned Aaron Taylor-Johnson. 

That was a sore point, how Ford (Aaron's character) was always in the place where the action was.  Even if you don't count his appearance as a child in the beginning (and you should), he later encounters all three(!) kaiju at various times.  The odds of a single person doing that have to be ridiculous.  Then, Ford is the sole survivor not once but twice in regards to monster attacks.  There is also a scene where the force of an explosion sends him twisting like a rag doll up into the air only to land on street pavement.  Or a car; his landing is off-screen but seriously, the dude shouldn't have been walking away from that one.

I loved how Godzilla looked, how all the kaiju looked, actually, though the MUTOs (Massive Unidentifed Terrestrial Objects; even though one of them flies) are highly reminiscent of the baddies from Cloverfield.  The fluidity and rigidity that all displayed at appropriate times were great.  The combats were brief but reminiscent of what fellow Gojira fans have come to know and love.  They do, however, lead me to my next issue; the lack of apparent damage.

I don't know if it was a money issue or a laziness issue or what but none of the kaiju had any visible sign of damage until the moment they died.  The flying MUTO (ugh) had been in three combats with our titular character and never showed any injuries until his hilarious end.  The bigger MUTO is a bit understandable in this regard, as she received very little in the way of a beatdown until her satisfying death.  Godzilla is probably the worst offender.  There is a point where the two MUTOs are raining down blows (in one case, literally) with what appear to be sharp forelegs.  One can safely assume that this should do some serious damage to our downed hero, and it is implied that it does towards the end of the film.  Still, the side that ends up facing the camera for an extended shot of a still Godzilla is the same side that takes a brutal pecking, and I didn't detect a whit of damage.  It was off-putting, to say the least.

Still, with all of its flaws, I thought it was fantastic.  If there weren't so many good movies coming out soon (I can hardly wait for X-Men: DoFP), I would go back and watch this film again.  I don't watch many movies twice, especially not in the theaters, but something about spoke to both my childhood memories and the man I am now (jaded though I am) that endears me to it.  I'll probably get the blu-ray when it comes out, the only film this year that I can safely say the same for.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Man of Steel Review: Superman Sinks Again

I just got home from the midnight release of Man of Steel (don't even get me started on the Wal-Mart exclusive early showing) and I feel the need to vent.  So, fair warning, there be spoilers ahead.  Seriously, no bullshit, heavy spoilers.  Read on at your on risk.

I remember a time when Clark Kent was the boyscout of the comics universe.  Captain America maybe stood more for the American way, but he was a soldier, willing to do whatever was necessary, whereas the last son of Krypton always did what was right.  I feel that was lost on Man of Steel.

Nevermind that sending Zod's followers to the Phantom Zone was essentially a death sentence for them, I want to focus briefly on Zod's ending.  I never thought that I would see the day where Superman snapped someone's neck.  Sure, he did it to save a few people, but seriously, the edgier, grittier Batman I loved.  A gritter Superman, a Kal-El who kills?  That belongs in an Elseworlds tale, not on the silver screen. 

Say what you will about Superman Returns, at least it was still a Superman I could recognise.  Yes, Lex's plan was fucking terrible, and yes, the Christ metaphors were heavy, and yes, I know that Superman never used his powers offensively, but still.  Brandon Routh did an excellent job as the titular icon and, given that Returns was a sequel to Donner's Superman and Superman II films, I'd say it did exactly what it was intended to do.  Routh's portrayal of the late Christopher Reeves' Superman/Clark Kent was spot on, so much so that it was eerie to watch, but in a good way.  It was a really good character piece (and not much else) for one of America's most beloved and popular icons.  MoS just... ugh.

Don't get me wrong; Henry Cavil's acting chops were on fine display.  I think he did incredibly well with the script he was given.  Crowe did a fantastic job as Jor-El, but I never envisioned him as a bad ass.  Suddenly, Crowe's casting makes sense on even more levels.  Hel, nobody let me down in the acting department.  I especially enjoyed all the bit parts played by familiar faces; Alessandro Juliani (Lt. Gaeta; Battlestar Galactica), Tahmoh Penikett ('Helo' Agathon and Paul Ballard: Battlestar Galactica and Dollhouse, respectively)  and Harry Lennix (Boyd Langton; Dollhouse).  I thought it was really cool.

That's about all that I liked about the film.  The effects were dazzling and dizzying.  I thank my lucky stars that I never jumped in with the 3D crowd.  I can only imagine how much more my head would have hurt watching this film in that particular format. I did like the combat between Faora-Ul and the humans; she moved like a video game character and it was really bad ass.  Sadly, that was the only time combat was entertaining in the film.  The other fights?  Meh, at best.  Now, the gravity effects of the terraforming machine were pretty cool, but why did the thing need fucking tentacles? 

The movie was rife with problems for me.  Jor-El storing the data of all of Krypton in Kal's cells sounds like a great idea, if the general audience doesn't realise that the cells in the body die at a rate of something like 60 billion a day.  I don't care how much information Jor could story in his bouncing baby boy (and can I say that the first shot of baby penis was more than enough; the second was strictly uncalled for), all that info would be gone by the time the kid was six weeks old.  And that's a generous estimate. 

The character assassination of both Jonathan Kent and Clark was just disgusting.  The elder Kent suggesting that his son should have let a bus full of children die just to protect his identity.  Sickening.  Clark wilfully taking a life?  I swear, it was like watching Injustice's Superman come to life. 

And the Christian metaphors just kept coming.  Returns was bad about this, but this one was fucking awful.  Not only did it lay the Christ imagery on thick, but it also took up the war between science and faith.  Several times faith was mentioned (take it on faith, take a leap of faith, etc).  Clark visits a church for guidance as to what to do when his 'fellow' Kryptonians threaten Earth.  There's even a line between Kal and Faora where she tells him that evolution will always win.  This movie isn't bad enough, it feels the need to demonise Darwin.

Overall, I would say that the film is worth watching, but just barely.  I give it a 48/100.  Wait until this thing comes out on a streaming service of your choice, folks; don't waste your money in theaters.  Trust me.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Brothers Stone: Part 4; Are You Happy Now?

The music of love reached my character as well and I was forced to roll a new Will save.  Having failed it miserably, I was as amorous as Paddy's character and also ran back to find that "lovely female" Goliath.

We met somewhere in the middle (there's a song there somewhere...) and began immediately "displaying" our "affection".  I think half the fun of this for Tokyo was seeing how far we would take this, the bastard.

Well, third base will only appease a rock man for so long, so, having previously established that my character's preference for "love tunnels" tended more to the rear, he broke the kiss and turned Paddy around.

Finally, Tokyo allowed an intelligent thought to materialise within our characters.  In Paddy's mind, if I were a woman, why would I want to be behind him?  As a lady friend of mine can tell you, women generally don't want to be the big spoon.

Still, our sadistic (and possibly closeted) DM made us continue under the ruse that we had no clue that the other was a male.  So, Paddy rolled a grapple check and, due to my diminished Strength score (thanks, Rock-Ade), I lost and found (heh) myself face to face with the "gorgeous female" once more.  It was then that Paddy's hand found something it wasn't expecting when reaching down to my nethers.

 The spell broken, we rushed back into the room of sorcery, characters swearing to never speak of the incident again.  The door had appeared and we stuffed our bags full of the food present and got out of that creepy-ass room.

Munching on leftover Gnome and drinking fine wine, we exited the room via the crawlspace and found ourselves in a new room, this one lined with bookshelves overfull with scrolls, the overflow piled on the floor.  In the centre of the room was a statue.  Tokyo moved to recite the inscription upon it but I stopped him.

"Is it written in Dwarven?" 

The look on Tokyo's face was priceless.


"Then we can't read it."  Gleefully, Paddy and I then set about the room.  I read one and took quite a bit of damage.

"This one prepared explosive runes today," I muttered under my breath, to which Paddy replied sardonically,

"No metagame references to OotS.  Also?  Socerery."

As if to prove his point, Paddy read a scroll, which also blew up in his face.  Bad times.  Deciding not to further explore the scrolls, I had the idea that, if I 'read' the inscription on the statue in the mirror, then I would be far enough away from the effects.  I was wrong.

The act of trying to read the words is enough to trigger the trap.  The floor slid out from under us and towards the other end of the room.  We slide uncontrollably that way, followed closely by all the scrolls and the bookshelves that held them.  Paddy passed his reflex save to avoid damage; I did not. 

I slammed into the end of the ramp beneath us, followed closely by the heavy oak bookshelves.  Then by Paddy.  I was down to one HP and Paddy wasn't doing much better.  Also of note; we could feel that the scrolls had unfurled.  So, eyes closed, we blindly groped our way into a hallway far from the opened pages of explosiony death, and we slept.  For days.  Only interrupting ourselves to eat and shit, using the parchment as wipe. 

Well fed and rested, we finally move into the next room.  There is a pulsing red orb in the centre.  There are also two guillotines on either side and a doorway past the orbs.  As we step closer to the orb, the ruby pins in our wrists (one in my case, both in Paddy's) begin to vibrate.  The closer you step, the more it vibrated.  So, I decide to walk up and touch it.  Apparently, this was a fatal mistake, as when I touched it, the orb exploded and I died from the shards shredding me to pieces. 

Paddy and I had a long discussion with Tokyo over how the entire dungeon was bullshit at this point (interesting side note; as I finish typing this, I am listing to three of my other friends [CK, Melonie, and recurring character Jimbo Baggins] suffer through this exact dungeon.  They are telling Tokyo the same thing; this dungeon run sucks)  and essential insta-death should have more warning than "the thing in your wrist(s) vibrates. 

Angry and fed up, I sat there and morally encouraged Paddy to finish.  After my death, he picked up the magic mirror (of the "only one shall live" fame) and screamed.

"ARE YOU HAPPY NOW!?!"  He picked up my corpse, cause we're bros like that, and moved past the shards and out the hallway.  After some minor twists and turns, Paddy found himself facing a ladder.  He climbed out to sweet, sweet freedom.

Finally emerging from the ground like a vampire given new life, he scans the area.  It's the plantation we found ourself at before we were DM fiated into the dungeon in the first place.  Paddy sees a nearby tree and grabs the largest branch he can and breaks it off to form a club befitting our Goliath heritage.

He stalked into the place, headed towards the largest building.  Two armed guards stood blocking the doorway.  They said something to Paddy in common, but even if he had understood it, I don't think it would have mattered.  It was ragey fun times.

Paddy took the first one below half health in one blow.  His partner fled in terror, presumably to alert more guards, while his injured companion threw down his sword and begged for mercy.  Paddy picked up the weapon and promptly slew his pleading foe, lopping the head off to insure that no extra damage came to the armour.  He then picked up the corpse and headed off behind the nearby farm. 

As the rain began to fall, Paddy looked into the sky and screamed in frustration, mourning his fallen brother and our wasted five hours of lifetime.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Brothers Stone: Part 3; There Be Sorcery Afoot!

Awakening, our characters found themselves completely devoid of arms and armour and nude except a tiny loincloth that did little to cover our previously defined largeness.  There was also a third character in the room; a gnome who still slept.  Before we could react to this new person, the walls began closing in.

Tokyo Joe gave us a quick rundown of the room.  Now Paddy, upon character creation, had taken ranks in Spellcraft.  Why?  Who knows, but he used this opportunity to make a check before Tokyo could finish his description.

"Do I detect any sorcery?"

"No," Tokyo responded with a bewildered look, " but you do see three holes in one of the walls that isn't moving to crush you to death."  We ran to them.  Paddy put his hand tentatively into one of the gaping maws to find a lever.  He turned it to no effect.  I did the same to identical result.  Sensing that our new 'ally' wouldn't wake up in time to insert his hand and pull the lever in the third hole, Paddy drew the short straw of the roll-off and his character put his other hand in and we pulled simultaneously.  After a bit of pain our arms came back with ruby studs through the wrists and a door opened.

Grabbing our tiny 'friend' with my bedazzled arm, I slung him over my shoulder and followed Paddy out of the room.  We entered a hallway that went on for a while before entering another room. 

We spotted a mirror in the centre of the room but before we could look at it our tiny friend woke up.  We dealt with the usual "who are you" type of questions (all in Dwarven) for awhile.  Then we looked in the mirror.  A lot.

The mirror told those who looked into it and failed a will save that "There will be only one".  Paddy, the first one to look into it, made another Spellcraft check, failing miserably.

"Do I detect any sorcery?"


Paddy turned to me before shaking his head.

"No sorcery."

While I passed the save after looking into the mirror, the gnome did not and our newfound compatriot quietly flipped shit in the corner.  I took the mirror back and tried to find an exit.  I looked into it and spun around, trying to detect any doors that were only visible when viewed in the mirror itself.  No dice.  Finally, I had an idea.

"The gnome needs a jewel."  With this profound statement, I ripped my tiny banana-hammock off and, catching my drift, Paddy did the same.  The look of horror on Tokyo's face was priceless.  When I stepped towards him the little bastard fled in terror down the hallway and back into the other room.  Perfect!

Paddy and I arrived in the room, completely naked with loincloths in hand, our hugeness dangling as we walked.  You could almost see the gnome's mesmerized look of fear as he watched them swing...  Anyhoo, we grabbed him and he whimpered pitifully.

Paddy took him to the wall with the holes in it and wrapped his speedo around the lever inside while I did the same.  Eventually coming to the conclusion that we didn't want to rape him, gnomeo did what we told him to and pulled the third lever.  Nothing happened.  We tried this a few times in different arrangements but the results were the same.

After giving up, we turned back down the hallway to the room with the mirror.  Along the way, the gnome decided it was time to talk.

"Can... can you please put your clothes back on?"

"... no."

The matter settled, I picked back up the mirror and looked into it.  This time, I failed the will save.

"There will be only one."

Deciding that if there was only going to be one of us make it out, it would be either Paddy or myself.  So, I grabbed the terrorized gnome by the leg and began bashing his head against the wall.  Tokyo did not respond well.  Paddy and I laughed.  (Usually we are not this abusive of our DM's, but Paddy and I, like the majority of our group, despise railroading; better to break him of the habit early.)

As his lifeblood pumped out of his skull and with Tokyo Joe and Paddy staring at me, I used the blood to coat the walls in an effort to reveal any cracks where a hidden door might be.  Despite my ingenious idea, we found ourselves with no way forward.  I smashed the mirror against the wall in frustration, only the mirror didn't break.  It wasn't even scratched.  Inspired by two different circumstances, Paddy and I came to three brilliant ideas.

Paddy, noticing that the gnome didn't have nearly enough blood to coat the walls with, and picking up on our rumbling tummies, decided to used the table upon which the mirror had been found and start a fire.  The smoke would reveal our door while also adding a nice smokey flavour to our gnome-shapped meal.

My idea was to use the mirror as a pick to break through the walls.  Once Paddy voiced his idea, I waited to implement mine until we found the door.

We had to take some time to explain to Tokyo that one can indeed make fire from two sticks (apparently this isn't common knowledge in California...) and, one successful Survival check later, the sweet smell of roasting gnomeflesh filled the room.

While Paddy cooked, I took the time to try and detect a hollow spot in the walls of the room.  Once I found what I was looking for, I sat back and hoped the smoke that was beginning to fill the place would confirm my suspicions.  Alas, it did not.

Feasting upon our fallen comrade did wonders for our spirit.  We put out the fire and toiled away, using the mirror as a weapon against the stone door.  We raced against the clock and our own fatigue and though we made some progress, it wasn't nearly enough.  Just as we were about to suffocate, the door opened.  Greg had us roll another Survival check to determine that we had been conscious roughly a day.  There will be only one, indeed.

Moving forward led us into another room, this one with a bowl of wine, slabs of bread and bedrolls.  Upon entering the room spoke.

"Eat, drink, sleep."  This was followed by the sound of Paddy's dice.

"Do I detect any sorcery?"

"No."  Paddy turned to me once more.

"No sorcery"

That nugget tucked away, sleep sounded good to me and drink likewise to Paddy, so we performed our respective tasks.  Paddy, failing a Fort save, found himself drunk on one glass while I, whenever I awoke, found that I felt no more rested than I had before laying down.

Eventually we tried the bread, which was delicious but only increased our hunger, which we abated by eating more smoked gnome.  Combined with the wine, it was quite the feast.  Coming to the conclusion that the only way forward was to capitulate to Tokyo's demands, we performed all three tasks and, upon awaking, found the way forward visible.

Gathering our things, which included the talking mirror from room two and the talking table from room three,  we picked up the bedrolls and stuffed the remaining bread and gnome into one and marched forward.

In the room was a curtain of fire on the far side and four spigots with pictures over them on the near wall.  The room spoke.

"I have lost my love but don't know where to find him.  His friend says he is in the other room.  Where is he?"

Before Paddy could reach for his dice, Tokyo stopped him.


Paddy then turned to me, a big smile on his face.


The matter settled definitively, we turned to the spigots.  The plaques above them were, in order, water, sand, paper, and rock.  Being a Goliath, I of course grabbed the rock one and drank.  Boom, -5 points of strength, no save.  Greatly weakened, I turned to Paddy.

"Your turn."

He moved to the next one, paper.  He drank from it and then walked through the flames.

"Try the next one."

I was so happy that my character was intelligent enough to realise that Paddy referred to the one that he had taken (the one next to mine) and not the one beyond that.  Having done so, I followed down the hallway after him.

We came to another room, this one filled with a feast.  A proper feast mind you, not that we minded dining daily upon gnome.  Before we could begin eating, I was instructed that I found a beautiful Goliath woman in the room.  Paddy was informed that he witnessed a beautiful Goliath woman enter the room.  Bad times.

"Forgive me, madam," I began, "but I seem to have lost my brother.  I just followed him in."

"Funny," the Goliath woman with Paddy's voice responded, "my brother was supposed to be right behind me."

At this point, we try to explain to Tokyo that we had obviously discovered that magic was afoot.  Even Paddy's muttered 'sorcery' apparently wasn't enough to clue our characters in to the reality of the situation. 

Before we could revolt, music began to play.  Will saves were rolled and my character, having failed, fled in abject terror all the way back to the room we awoke in.

Paddy, after stuffing his face, tried to track down the source of the music.  He had it cornered once, only for it to climb the wall and sound back behind him again.  Before frustration could set in, a second Will save was rolled, which Paddy failed.  He found himself just as amorous as I was scared and he ran down the halls in search of the 'attractive female' Goliath who had moments ago ran screaming out of the room.  He had some urges to take care of.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Brothers Stone: Part 2; the Fuckoning

So, picking up where we left off months ago....

By this time the dwarves around me were incredibly nervous and thanked their maker when I chose to turn around rather than attempt to forcibly free my brother.  Their stubby little legs strained to keep up with my long strides as I found the man in charge, a human in gaudy pirate regalia.

I stood idly while he concluded his business.  When he turned to me, I motioned for pen and paper.  Once supplied with a quill and ink as well as paper, I began communicating with my saviours in the only way I knew how; stick figures.

I drew myself, large hammer and all, and pointed to myself.  He nodded.  I drew another image of myself, but this time with a huge sword in place of my hammer. Then I drew a cage around the second image. I pointed belowdecks.  He nodded.  I drew another set of images identical to first but this time I left the cage off of Paddy.  The captain nodded reservedly.  I then drew a third set of figures, but this time I drew a cage between us.  I pointed to myself, then belowdecks, then I mimed carrying a cage.  He nodded once more and, grabbing some guards in the event things went south, we headed back to Paddy.

Once there, I informed Paddy of what sort of work would be involved in his release.  Trusting in his older brother's wisdom, he did not question why we were helping the people who had almost killed him.  I showed him to my our room.  I only had room for one cot, so we had to take turns sleeping.  Still, it beat a cage covered in one's own excrement. 

Before he could rest, however, we were escorted back to the beach to continue working.  After a days hard labour, we took a quick dip to wash away the sweat (and the shit, in Paddy's case) before going back to the room.  Once we had eaten, we slept and prepared ourselves for another day of work.

Paddy and I, not limited by the slow speed of the dwarves, moved the cages as fast as they came to us.  About midway through the day, cages bearing familiar faces came into view.  Our village had been capture.  They looked to us, hope welling in their eyes that we would somehow free them from their fate.  I locked eyes with the village elder.

"Tiny metal men are real funny now, aren't they?"

Once the out of game laughter had ceased, Tokyo Joe said that the villagers wept openly and spat at us as we mocked them while carrying them into the hold.  I was especially rough with the elders' cage, jostling it as much as I could, laughing all the while.  I had officially taken my first step towards evil and I loved every last second of it.

With all the cages loaded, we eventually set out to sea.  It took two weeks for Paddy to learn the Dwarven tongue.  I didn't pick it up nearly as quickly but I had a good head for their alphabet that Paddy lacked.  Having learned the tongue of the natives, I did what any sane pirate who had turned on their people would do; I asked for a concubine.  Paddy had to translate my demands, of course, but still.

We brought our request before the captain who grinned knowingly.  He led us back down to the now cramped hold.

"Pick one out," he said to Paddy, who relayed it to me.  I pointed to a woman who I envisioned having turned down my character's advances at some point in his fictional past.  The captain, seeing her relative beauty, shook his head and pointed to a more comely Goliath girl.  I nodded.  She would do.

So, after rolling for penis length (we were quite large, apparently; I didn't know that I was capable of jealousy towards one of my characters' fictional junk before that day), we eventually made it to our destination, wherever that was.  A huge bazaar meeting place full strange creatures was where we were taking those deserving captured souls below.  After unloading quite a large number of cages, we were instructed to grab one last load.  On our way belowdecks, a cage of our own dropped down atop Paddy and I.

Thinking that perhaps some unfortunate mishap had occurred, Paddy tried to communicate with the pirate leader.  Sadly, this was not an accident.

We were informed that we would fetch a handsome price at the auction.  As Paddy and I pleaded our case with the pirate captain (and Tokyo Joe) that we were relatively cheap labour that was far more efficient than the Dwarves they had on hand, I quickly got the sinking feeling that we were being railroaded.  And I was right.  Once logic and wisdom failed to sway the rookie's mind, we hopped aboard the Fuck You express and were delivered to the next pre-rendered plot point, the auction.

Once there, we endured the taunts of our former Goliath folk.  Paddy and I ignored them and instead focused on trying to prove our worth to anyone who came by.  Paddy spoke to them in fairly fluent Dwarven but this disgusted most people (apparently, the 'help' talking to them pre-sale was quite... unseemly).  However, we finally found someone who was intrigued by talking brutes.

I did what I could to impress our potential purchaser by flexing my muscles.  Paddy wove a tale of woe before pointing out our selling points.  Beside our obvious strength, Paddy indicated my armour and my weapon (something that the dwarves had, after a failed sleeping dart that would have knocked out a mammoth, never possessed the courage to attempt to disarm me in the cage).  He told them that he had made my armour and I the weapon.  We would make good smiths, given the proper tools.

Evidently we drove the price up quite a bit, netting 10,000gp each.  Once the transaction was complete, we were loaded onto a wagon and hauled off.  Our people, what few remained, mocked us even more furiously.  I had the perfect answer to wipe off the smug satisfaction from their faces, though.  I had paid attention to the prices that our people had been sold for.

"Even as a slave, we're still worth more than the rest of the tribe combined."  Ah, their misery was delicious and we had the last laugh over those useless gits.

We travelled for a few days, never once being let out of the cage.  Eventually, we reached our destination; a large plantation.  A hooded figure came out to greet us.  Before we could do anything, we had to make a will save, a save that my 19 on the die failed.  Ugh.  DM fiat... go.