Tag Archives: horror

Carrion Crown Chapter 2, Trial of the Beast, Session 3

We continue with Trial of the Beast, the second chapter of the Carrion Crown Adventure Path. Sorry if the session summary’s a bit briefer than usual; I found out I was doing it late and only had Evernote on the iPad to do it with, impeding my typing speed (swapping attention between gaming and the summary is hard enough when you’re not having to hunt-and-peck).

Third Session (9 page pdf) – We’re making headway on the Beast’s defense, and investigating a ghast-filled ruined lab gives us the clues we need to go confront some serial killers in their super dangerous lair! Now if we just weren’t our own worst enemies…

We scamper out of town quickly to get some investigation done before the mob violence hits. We cleanse a lab of ghasts and are quickly led to an alchemist’s factory in Lepidstadt, Vorkstag & Grimes, which operates with an unknown workforce “Willy Wonka” style.

Just an aside.  This happened with the skinsaw cult lumber mill in Rise of the Runelords too – how the hell do you run a business when everyone is a monstrous freak who attacks everyone else on sight? That’s not a sustainable business model! I mean, they have to sell shit, don’t they? And deliver it? And buy supplies? “Notes with gold attached” only goes so far – there’s literally not a person in this place that can show their face in polite society.  Anyway.

We totally lucked out on this one – the very first room we break into is the mother lode of Buffalo Bill style people skins and Beast costumes!  Vladimir wanted to just ‘go take it all to the cops’ but I pointed out that “here’s some evidence we found somewhere, and removed, trust us” is not usually well regarded in law enforcement circles.

And then we get to fight the alchemists – eek!

grinevorkstag

So that was pretty messed up. “HI I’M THE SKINLESS MAN!” Well, I had a trick for him – Sredni Vashtar’s Girl just learned Vomit Swarm from her little evil hell-weasel and she used it on them – much to the rest of the group’s chagrin. Vladimir couldn’t resist running into the swarm, of course. The skinless man tried to get away and went to climb down a ladder into a three story room full of acid vats – Girl was like “slumber hex!” and he fell three stories. But not into a vat, which was actually OK with me because I wanted him alive for arresting purposes; live freaks are better than corpses for getting the Beast off the hook.

I had Sredni Vashtar get more hands-on this time – he went down to bite the skinless man and delivered a Cure Moderate touch attack to kill an undead in the last fight. It’s hard to bring their abusive-relationship dynamic to life in game as much as I’d like (without going over the top) so I’m experimenting with it.

Then we wandered the freaky factory – we sent Vladimir to go get help from the authorities since he’s the fastest, and then we start searching rooms and we find him in one of the rooms poking around!  I was kinda pissed. Just say “no, I want to be here for the looting,” don’t lie to us… That’s dangerous. You can “be evil” all you want but when your dicking around endangers me, that’s when you get put on the optional-to-save list.

I reckon the end of the trial’s next time, then I suspect we need to go waste Doctor Frankenstein out in the swamps.

Carrion Crown Chapter 2, Trial of the Beast, Session 2

We continue with Trial of the Beast, the second chapter of the Carrion Crown Adventure Path.

trail-of-the-beast-poster_1

Second Session (10 page pdf) – We testify in court on the Beast’s behalf with what we uncovered in the swamps of Morast, but see no clear opportunity to scream out “You can’t handle the truth!!!” without getting cited for contempt. Then we have to go murder child ghosts for a while.

We also got to meet an old wheelchair-bound author lady, which was lovely.  This session was exciting – the three ladies who lived together just about got murdered by Vladimir on the grounds that “three women living together… It’s certainly a coven of hags!” Good to know we’re getting into the Medieval mindset.

Then we dealt with spooky child ghosts (spectres) in the ruined town.  This was a bit of a bummer.  Even when we successfully negotiated with them, like the main girl Elsa, there was no way to free them from their undead state except “initiate combat and kill ’em!”. This really bothered Sredni Vashtar’s Girl; she put herself in quite some danger trying to “put down” Elsa humanely (had her lie down, did a positive-energy touch on her) but in the end, it was just combat. Poor form there on the author’s part I think; an alternate way out except for “roll initiative” was merited.

Then we fought “Brother Swarm,” which was confusing because Vladimir was trying to… Well, not sure. He went in there boisterously, relying on his undead-ish nature to protect him while he swiped bodies, and it mostly did, but then he tried to shoo it away, but we tried to kill it… In the end it just hid incorporeal from us, which sucks but hopefully the government will send someone or put up “stay out” signs or something.

Our testimony, bolstered by Elsa’s “the Beast was my friend!” from a Speak with Dead made an impact, but the impact seems to be incurring a lynch mob. Well, we level to 4, so time for some ant-lynch-mob powers!

Carrion Crown Chapter 2, Trial of the Beast, Session 1

In Trial of the Beast, the second chapter of the Carrion Crown Adventure Path, we try to prove the innocence of the Beast of Lepidstadt! He’s just a big ol’ pussycat…

The_Beast_of_LepidstadtFirst Session (16 page pdf) – We return Professor Lorrimor’s books to various folks in and around the University of Lepidstadt and hear about the recent crimes of the big ol’ Frankenstein’s Monster called the Beast. Seems fishy to us so we go do some private investigating, only to find that some swamp slasher has pulled a Buffalo Bill on Dr. Vaus’ human girlfriend!

I’m not really sure why we’re looking to defend the Beast, it just seemed like a good idea at the time.  We’re monsters too after all. 😛  Or maybe it’s the fact that they were making a wicker man outside the courtroom to eventually burn the Beast, which caused an unlimited number of Nicolas Cage jokes, that got us engaged.

beeeeeeeees

My new blindness spell worked great against a couple wandering monster attacks! Since it’s from Girl’s evil familiar, to the victims it looks like their eyes are being torn out by weasels.

Also, it took a couple tries for the party to realize that “running around like butt monkeys and getting separated” was a good way to get party members murdered.  Tactics – it’s like natural selection for adventurers!

Se we get duly deputized as Erin Brockovich style defense lawyer investigators and it’s off to the swamp!

Carrion Crown Chapter 1, The Haunting of Harrowstone, Session 4

Fourth Session (11 page pdf) – Serial killer ghosts are no match for us – we are much scarier! We finish clearing out the prison and put the restless spirits to rest. Go, go, Ravengro!

splatterman

We face the worst of the serial killer ghosts, the Splatter Man!  I was proud of Sredni Vashtar’s Girl – I figured since he liked writing down the names of his victims I’d write his name in his spellbook! Every time I did it destroyed a spell and hurt him. Then Doctor Vaus took him out. And we made Vesoriyana’s ghost happy…

Vesoriannafull

Apparently warden’s wives who live in prisons dress like total hookers. Who knew.

In the end, we clean Harrowstone Prison and set the spirits to rest.  All of them, that is, but the Warden, whose ghost seems to have been taken by whoever killed the Professor…

Carrion Crown Chapter 1, The Haunting of Harrowstone, Session 3

Third Session (12 page pdf) – We clear the first level of Harrowstone Prison of its ghosts and other assorted horridness. But the spirits are having an effect on our minds…

haunting

We got to face a wide variety of spooky antagonists.  It feels a little different than those original haunts back in Foxglove Manor in Rise of the Runelords, though. They’re more like puzzles. Is this one something we can attack? Or do we have to use positive energy? Or an animated object? Or do we…  A lot of Knowledge checks and then applying various remedies. I wish they hadn’t mechanized haunts quite so much. My favorite one was when Icobus died at the hands of Father Charlatan but came alive again based on his actions in the ‘dream’ – that’s more horror appropriate. I wanted more “Ghost Adventures” and less “puzzle CRPG” out of this, and the mechanization of all the spooks was somewhat harmful to that mood.

Anyway, we delve deeper into the hauntings of Harrowstone in this chapter and put a couple serial killers to rest! “This level is clear!”

Carrion Crown Chapter 1, The Haunting of Harrowstone, Session 2

Second Session (21 page pdf) – Weird occurrences lead us to the ruins of Harrowstone Prison outside of town to investigate the Professor’s death. Turns out it burned down and was inhabited by serial killers. Awesome.

Haunting_Harrowstone_Dave_Rapoza_post

The campaign’s going well so far.  I’m trying to expand on my understanding of Sredni Vashtar’s Girl and to play both her and the weasel without going too over the top. Dr. Vaus had a little “roleplayer regret” along those lines; when he takes his mutagen he put on an iron mask and yelled “Ironface!” Turns out he was getting carried away and really wanted that to be a later development when he takes some greater mutagen that really affects your sanity thing and he tried to pull back some from that after.

I feel bad that I keep skunking Vladimir on Knowledge skill rolls – I think he intended to be good at those, but he’s a monk and I’m a witch and I’m an Int machine…  That plus good rolls kept me going on with super in depth explanations – “Ah yes, the Whispering Way is… <paragraphs>.”

I had to go before they started the dungeon delving this time – more to come though!

Carrion Crown Chapter 1, The Haunting of Harrowstone, Session 1

First Session (14 page pdf) – We come to the town of Ravengro to participate in the funeral of our mutual friend, Professor Lorrimor. But all is not as it seems…

Procession

An all new crop of characters makes its debut as we kick into Carrion Crown! I am the troubled Vudran girl named only “Sredni Vashtar’s Girl,” as she is owned body and soul by her god/familiar, the weasel Sredni Vashtar. Chris is playing Icobus Basilisk, a battle oracle type; Bruce is playing Oswald Bainbridge the crossbowman; Patrick is playing Nigel Snodgrass the dirge bard; Tim is playing Dr. Jegen Vaus the eccentric alchemist; and Matt is playing Vladimir Vampijérovic the hungry ghost monk. Character sheets are all on the campaign page for those that provide them.

This session was largely setup – meet and greet the locals in Ravengro, meeting Kendra Lorrimor, and having Professor Lorrimor’s funeral.  Ravengro is creepy and the locals are unfriendly, down to the dog that lives in the town square. The Professor died investigating Harrowstone Prison, a lovely place – the inmates and guards alike burned to death during an attempted escape from the asylum long ago, and there were four notable serial killers held there at the time; now it’s a haunted ruin. Should be lively! Read on…

Geek Related – The Site

I got a question in a post comment recently asking if the stuff on this Geek Related site was also me – it is, it’s my old Mindspring site from before I started the blog.  There’s some stuff you may find of interest there:

The Official Death To Jar Jar Binks Website – ah, youth.  Not really RPG related but the day after Phantom Menace came out I slapped the site together. It got featured on Salon and ZDTV among other media outlets. For the last like ten years I still get emails from people demanding “Don’t you have anything better to do with your time?!?” like I’ve even touched the site in a decade.

The Way, The Truth, and the Dice – I was publisher for the e-zine of the Christian Gamers Guild for a couple years. There’s some good stuff in these mags (especially the realistic combat and friction rules); sadly it all fell apart due to infighting (they eventually put out a fourth issue some 5 years later with content we’d gathered, but nothing since then).

Scooby Doo Cthulhu – Almost as popular as the Jar Jar page, this is the Scooby crew statted for traditional (BRP) Call of Cthulhu.  Used in about a billion con games. “Julianus” did them, I just hosted them. I especially liked using them with the various “Blood Brothers” CoC adventures.

The Monk – I redid the monk class for AD&D 2e based on a more supernatural, free-wheeling style as I was watching a lot of HK movies and playing Feng Shui.  They totally stole my approach for Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords and then D&D 4e. I made up custom monastic orders for Greyhawk too, partially based on on some of Erik Mona’s Oerth Journal work (“Baklunish Delights”).

Horror in Roleplaying – probably one of the most lasting of my game essays, I did a lot of horror gaming back in the day and wrote extensively on how to do it. Nothing from the entire storygame movement has caused me to think any of it should be changed.

Classless Skills and Powers – I really enjoyed AD&D Second Edition and when the Skills & Powers supplements came out I wanted to like them – they let you do more of a custom character generation – but they were deeply, profoundly flawed.  I figured I’d fully GURPS them up and turn D&D classless.  This worked great, we ran several campaigns with these rules (sometimes mixing in non-S&P characters for those who didn’t want to go to the trouble). 3e ended up solving a lot of this in a simpler way so I left this behind when I upgraded, but for 2e OSR fans it could be useful!

Children of the Seed – Feng Shui is one of the best RPGs ever.  And it was powered high enough I thought it would make an even better anime game than a HK action game.  I was a fan of the anime series Blue Seed and so I wrote characters and a con-ready adventure to that end!

The Yeomanry page is down forever, sadly, and Bruce’s session summary page died with Onramp and he’s being a slack about getting it going again.

The great thing about all of these is that I had a lot of spare time back in the day and took all this real seriously – so this has all been playtested in campaigns and/or many con games, there’s bunches of sample characters and whatnot… About as complete as you could hope house rules and whatnot to be.

So poke around and let me know what you find interesting!

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Two, Fifth Session

Fifth Session (15 page pdf) – “Sex, Death, Gods, and Demons”  – [WARNING: NSFW] The PCs race to kill the last Keeper before the horror from the Dark Tapestry destroys Riddleport. But that’s not the greatest foe they face, as it turns out sex is the deadliest weapon of all.

About Adult Content, or, Love Riddleport style

No, seriously, this session is NC-17 rated (that’s X-rated for you old folks), so don’t read further if you’re easily offended.  Also, there are spoilers for Richard Pett’s adventure Carrion Hill. Below, I give you a look into the planning that went into all this. Some people think RPGs should be bowdlerized like comics were under the old Comics Code. Well, I disagree; even most classic literature revolves around “adult” real world concepts about sex, infidelity, temptation, et cetera. I believe RPGs are a serious art form and don’t have to be just escapist power fantasy – if you disagree, you’re welcome to your own game, but to me it’s like Hamlet vs. Donald Duck comics – you can enjoy the latter, but if you claim they’re the acme of literature like the former, then real people will look down on you like the punk you are.

To telegraph the inclusion of sexual content in this session to the group, I added some sexual tension with Iesha at the Gold Goblin (always do a little foreshadowing) and then because of the nature of the Tommy scene especially I just plain told all the players (and our groupie Georgina who was spectating) that this scene would be sexually explicit and they could take a powder if they were uncomfortable, but they were all down. I felt that they all (Tommy mainly in this scene, Sindawe later on, and the others in their turn) did a great job of roleplaying through all these heavy topics.  Good work guys!

About The Graphic Sex Scene with Tommy, Lil, and Seyanna

One of Tommy the halfling’s long term goals is to become a respected and feared pirate/crime lord with a hot human mistress. He’s recently taken a level of assassin and is notable for his enthusiastic torture of the captured assassin Jesswin, and the trapped tiefling prostitute Lavender Lil has been #1 on the future-mistress list. Well, recently I got Paizo’s Lords of Chaos, Book of the Damned Volume 2 and the idea of the demonic boons and whatnot were interesting, so I thought I’d see if Tommy could be tempted.  Turns out he could! You may remember Seyanna the succubus from the Riddleport Light back in Season One – she was a slave of the old sorcerer who used to keep it, Gebediah Crix. Sindawe ended up gifting her to a helpful imp. Fortunately for her, the tsunami hit the city immediately thereafter and in the chaos she managed to get the golden key that controls her away from the imp, tore him into devil bits, and went on her way.  But a good GM never tosses away an NPC! Upon reading Lords of Chaos, I realized there was a perfect fit here. Nocticula (she’s on the cover) is the demon queen of succubi, assassins, whores, and related shenanigans. An aspiring assassin not afraid of getting his hands dirty and who has a soft spot for the demon booty – well that’s something that’s going to show up on her radar. So Seyanna (who can read minds, so knows all about Tommy, and reckons he’s a good Nocticula prospect) headed over to the House of the Silken Veil to get a job. It took some doing to fool the cunning head priestess of Calistria, Shorafa Pamodae, but that’s where succubi are Vikings.  In fact, last time Tommy visited she was in the waiting room for her job interview – I gave him a Perception check to recognize the clothes she was wearing from their encounter in the lighthouse (she had changed form of course, but not clothing) but alas he failed it. So in short order she sexually enslaved Lil and laid out a high quality temptation for Tommy. In the end he accepted her dark gift. This entire scene was the most graphically sexual of the campaign, and it had to be, to reinforce the nature of these demons  – sexual, perverse, violent – and make it clear what he’s getting into. Like any good ensnarement, there was an element of threat and an element of cupidity, it works on marks every day in real life and it worked on Tommy.  It’s not clear what he plans to do now – go along with it?  Turn against Lil? Try to get the succubus somehow? And what are her plans? Help him? Hurt him? Corrupt his precious bodily fluids? We’ll see, this has provided enough plot hooks to sustain a campaign into infinity.

About the Asylum

This was the climax to Carrion Hill – what is essentially a Spawn of Yog-Sothoth from Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror” is loose in Riddleport and they are trying to get rid of it, starting with killing its summoners so it can’t kill them itself and take their power.  The last Keeper runs an asylum, of course. You should have seen the dismayed looks on the faces of the players, they knew it was going to be Real Messed Up ™. Richard Pett did a good job on this adventure adding all kinds of cool setpieces and Lovecraftian horror tropes.

In the end the PCs couldn’t quite kill the Keeper before he ran away and loosed the resident chaos beast – and then as they slew him, the Spawn showed up. I was liberally adding Will saves to prevent Wisdom damage as a stand-in for Sanity mechanics. The best part of this was when everyone managed to get clear (well, Wogan just about didn’t, but Sindawe helped him out) and ran off as the chaos beast and the Spawn met.  Everyone, that is, except the curious Serpent, who stayed behind, peering at the meeting out of curiosity.  Would they fight?  Is one the other’s baby or something? Would they mate? Well, he’ll never know, because he rolled a natural 1 on his Will save and went completely insane – temporarily (mostly), but his mind blanked out and he came shrieking and gibbering out of the asylum behind the others.

I let them get away with just “blowing up the gas lines” in classic Call of Cthulhu fashion instead of fighting the spawn. They were all beat to hell and were clever slash lucky enough to get the spawn and the chaos beast to meet (that was a pretty low percentage play). And then they were like “Oh, the gas lines!  All that leaking dwarven gas line stuff during the flood was foreshadowing!” And I was like “Uhhh… Yes!  Yes it was!”  So they gleefully wandered away from a burning asylum as many insane people burned to death screaming.  Shadow Riddleport will be quite lively if anyone visits again! And the spawn might be dead.  Maybe.  Or maybe it’s a big ass chaos beast.  Or maybe it’s napping. No hints from me!

About the Guns

We changed our gun rules for this game – we had been using these rules I put together, but Paizo has their new gun rules from the upcoming Ultimate Combat out for playtest so we thought we’d use them. We like using period-appropriate guns especially in a pirate game of this sort, so slow to load black powder wheellock pistols and muskets are in the hands of some of the local guards, and our cleric of Gozreh, Wogan, has a soft spot for them. They’re expensive, but he’s managed to get a small collection.

We had mixed results on the rules. These new guns perform a touch attack at short range, which was a nice boost and let him actually hit things. But damage was just too small (1d12 musket/1d8 pistol). Since you have to reload for a long time, you can’t get in a lot of attacks and certainly can’t get the rapid shot/multishot/iterative attack kinds of things every bowman has. So someone with a bow can pop off 2 or more arrows a round for 1d8 + STR damage each even at low level, but with a pistol you can fire once every other round for 1d8, not easily enhanceable. I’m going to boost damage significantly (2d6 for pistols, 3d6 for muskets) – guns are expensive and require a special feat and are slow, so there needs to be compensation.

About Sindawe and Hatshepsut

I hadn’t been planning on doing this in the same session as the succubus thing, but that’s how it ended up happening. Anyway, you may remember that back in Season One, Sindawe ended up making love to an avatar or something of voodoo goddess Mama Watanna, after which she blessed him but warned him he had to be faithful to her and keep it secret. I basically ripped off RL African deity Mami Wata for this bit. To quote the relevant bit from Wikipedia, “Mami Wata’s association with sex and lust is somewhat paradoxically linked to one with fidelity. According to a Nigerian tradition, male followers may encounter the spirit in the guise of a beautiful, sexually promiscuous woman, such as a prostitute. In Nigerian popular stories, Mami Wata may seduce a favoured male devotee and then show herself to him following coitus. She then demands his complete sexual faithfulness and secrecy about the matter. Acceptance means wealth and fortune; rejection spells the ruin of his family, finances, and job.” And that’s what happened. Anyway, Sindawe got a CHA boost out of the gig and has been faithful so far.

Well, he’d developed this friendship with Hatshepsut, monk and priestess of a lost civilization they thawed out back in Viperwall. At first, it was just “let’s not murder her” when Serpent wanted to just murder her… But then he stepped in to help since she doesn’t speak Common and sometimes axe kicks people who violate her weird ancient customs.  And Sindawe wanted to learn Aklo from her to have a secret party language.  As they are both monks they ended up fighting together a lot, and saving each others’ lives from time to time – Sindawe has even spent his precious Infamy Points to help her out.

I wondered how he’d respond to a spark; I just needed the right time.  Hatshepsut got hit by the chaos beast’s attack during the run on the asylum and nearly got mutated. She puts up a stern front but the whole “guess what it’s hundreds of years later and your gods and people are all dead and you’re a hobo now” thing is tough on her, and the chaos thing really shook her. Buty she has her pride. So in Red Sonja fashion, she challenged Sindawe to spar, and when he won, she offered herself to him. And he decided, “OK, let’s do this.”  I knew some random hottie wouldn’t be tempting to him, but a reliable comrade, that’s a different thing.

So what will happen with an irate water goddess?  I guess we’ll see! One PC uses sex to get into bed with a higher power, and one uses it to get out. Interesting times.

Was it sex-drenched?  Yes.  And that’s how you do it!  As a result we have personal investment and drama!  Roleplaying isn’t dead yet. Stay tuned for next time, when we kick the second major campaign plot arc into high gear.

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Two, Fourth Session

Fourth Session (10 page pdf) – “The Rotgut Ripper” – When strange and virulent diseases affect the PCs, their hunt becomes more deadly as it becomes clear their quarry is hunting them in turn. Will they be added to the Rotgut Ripper’s sick collection of trophies, or is an even worse fate incubating under the Stink?

In this episode, we finish out Dungeon #105’s “The Stink,” which I’ve slotted into the plot of Richard Pett’s Pathfinder module Carrion Hill, and then livened up by adding in a crazy bad ass serial killer. Hyram Crooge is mentioned as the guy who runs the junkyard and is secretly both a bugbear and a serial killer in the Riddleport material, but that’s all there is on him. I decided to make him a demented follower of Urgathoa, goddess of disease, who kills women and defaces them to resemble the goddess. He has killed a lot of people – the dead bodies ascribed to him by the locals are actually just the rejects, people he kills and then decides are not worthy (elves and effeminate male prostitutes especially sometimes get killed before he realizes they’re not women – to bugbears, humans all kinda look alike). Eventually some ghouls found him and they started incubating some hellish super-diseases. This plan was somewhat cut short by the tsunami that inundated Riddleport and its dump and generally messed things up. He was participating in the main Carrion Hill plot as a random cultist seeking forbidden knowledge, those guys always smell each other out. Crooge is a creeper, and so in his garbagey lair, he stalked the PCs looking for ways to kill them once they made their presence known.

This was a design challenge for me as a DM.  I don’t like to cheat/fudge especially in situations like this where it’s frustrating for the players anyway, so I didn’t want to just do a bunch of fiatting of how this guy could evade the PCs. Solo rogues are often meat for the beast anyway.

Here’s Hyram Crooge’s character sheet as the Rotgut Ripper. I did two things – one is really maximize stealth, with a +18 Stealth, Camouflage and Fast Stealth rogue abilities.  That worked out pretty well, he’d attack from a distance and as soon as he could move into concealment (which, as they were in caves made of garbage, was practically ubiquitous) he could stealth again.

The other was to try to maximize the Intimidate chain. He had +18 Intimidate, Intimidating Prowess (+STR to Intimidate), Cornugon Smash (free Intimidate on a Power Attack hit), Scent of Fear (special bugbear feat from Classic Monsters Revisited, which was worthless), and Frightening (up the number of rounds of shaken, and escalate to frightened). The plan was to scare people off to avoid being trapped into melee. This worked kinda OK, but not super – he really needed Dazzling Display so he could Intimidate more than one person at a time, but that requires Weapon Focus so however you slice it he comes out one feat short. Of course, Intimidate works a little too easily in Pathfinder so that could have made it too overpowering (and frustrating!).

And in the end, I know that in this adventure the PCs are racing the clock and have to face a bunch of foes without rest, so I didn’t want him to be too high a CR. On his home ground, playing him cleverly, he got a lot more done than he would otherwise against a whole party of fifth level folks. He’d make an awesome foe stalking a smaller number of PCs, so feel free and unleash him on your own groups.

After Crooge, I put in a Daughter of Urgathoa from “Seven Days to the Grave,” part of the Curse of the Crimson Throne AP. She had a big ol’ bucket of hit points and towards the end, she got lucky – down to 2 hp, she lasted 2 additional rounds due to bad dice luck on the PCs’ part.

Next time, we finish up Carrion Hill!  I suspect portions of the next session will be X-rated, so be warned.

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Two, Third Session

Third Session (9 page pdf) – “The Stink” – As they seek the cultists who summoned the creature, the PCs head into the city’s garbage dump, freshly stirred by the tsunami, and discover some wonderful smells, as well as a friendly neighborhood serial killer!

I went onto the Paizo boards asking for good adventures to do a “Katrina horror” kind of scenario with, and both Greg Vaughan and Richard Pett checked in with some recommendations.  As a result, I am combining the Pathfinder module Carrion Hill with the Dungeon Magazine #105 “The Stink.”  That whole run of Dungeon mags was gold.

Kevin, Tommy’s player, was out sick.  Which was fine, because his character was also afflicted with disease, one of the themes of the day.  To tie it all together and fit it into larger campaign events, I retrofitted The Stink substantially.  It was easy to inject by just making Riddleport’s junkyard man slash serial killer, Hyrum Crooge, one of the Keepers from Carrion Hill, and then make him the principal of The Stink. The Stink suffered from not having a strong villain anyway.  I changed the bad guy mobs to ghasts that spread the six new plagues in the adventure – in the original a lot of text was spent on those diseases but chances to contract them were few and far between.  I remedied that by making the ghasts’ bite transmit one at random. (Or, conversely, biting a ghoul, which unfortunately meant that Serpent’s pet snake has like two different diseases now.) Two of the party members being monks means that’s not as bad as it could be.

I like how when the players invest in the game world it pays off.  They found the desecrated statue of Sarenrae and Paul (Serpent) immediately put two and two together – undead, disease, females desecrated from the waist down – and determined that the dark goddess Urgathoa was involved. Then, something started toying with them, attacking from the dark and melting away when they investigated… And left them a present, a female corpse mutilated to resemble the goddess.  For anyone with a good bit of Knowledge: Local, the inevitable conclusion is that the victims of the Rotgut Ripper that have been found – usually effeminate men or elves left disembowled – are actually just this killer’s rejects; the good ones he brings home and treats real nice…

I think it came across well; our gamer groupie Georgina was in attendance and she declared it “creepy.”

Next time, more Stink, and then we recur back up a level to Carrion Hill for the finale!  Then, on with Second Darkness.

Fantastic Fest 2010 Day Four

This was Sunday, and I took off most of the day to go to an amusement park with my daughter; my company had rented out Six Flags Fiesta Texas for Family Day so it was too good to miss.  But it’s Fantastic Fest, so even after a reasonably brutal day in the Texas sun it was back for a couple movies!

First I saw Primal (7/10), an “Ozploitation” movie in the vein of Cabin Fever, The Descent or The Ruin, where some college kids on a camping trip to look at cave paintings way out in the middle of nowhere, Australia run afoul of a… Well, we’ll call it a “disease,” that turns people into feral “fast zombie” style savages.  This was decent; a simple premise but well done.  There is almost a tentacle rape, and the heroine takes some good punches in the uterus.  Good times.  It wasn’t an exceptional movie but I thought it was an enjoyable representative of that “camping horror” genre.

Then I saw Gallants (5/10), a Hong Kong martial arts comedy.  It was billed as “Cocoon with kung fu” because the protagonists are old, I guess.  HK humor is admittedly a bit of a different beast from American humor, but I didn’t enjoy this movie all that much.  The comedy was just goofy slapstick, the martial arts sequences weren’t all that good, and the melodrama was eye-rolling.  The most memorable part for us was that the villains had an odd penchant for carrying man-purses (much like Elijah Woods, who attended a lot of Fantastic Fest).  I suspect you are supposed to like this because the old guys are huge kung fu movie stars from the old days.  But, no.

Only two movies on Day Four, but I crank it back up into overdrive in Day Five!