Tag Archives: Companions of Xarth

Scourge of the Slave Lords

My Friday night game had its 4th session last night. We missed two Friday’s, one was to play a random dungeon with David as the GM and another because I had to be out of bed early Saturday morning. As of last night, I think all but one character is now 2nd level, I believe the party Thief may have made 3rd. Last night the first magic item of the campaign was found, I suspect it will be the first of many.

slaveloadsWe are playing the Slave Lord campaign, an old AD&D 1st edition set of 4 modules. This campaign was recently reprinted as a hardbound book “Against the Slave Lords”. Included with this new printing was a new module, A0 Danger at Darkshelf Quarry. Additionally, Wizards of the Coast recently released A5 The Last Slave Lord, in Dungeon Magazine #215. If your read through all of these modules as I have, it becomes very apparent that magic items flowed like Niagara falls back in the day. If the players search every single room and kill every single opponent and successfully identifies every magic item, by the closing credits of the last module, these guys will be loaded up to their eyeballs in magic items. I realize the thinking here, I understand the original writers thought “No way they find everything, better put in extra chances to get some items.”. I can tell you, I have seen adventuring parties descend on a dungeon like locusts, stripping it of all its resources, destroying everything in their paths, leaving only scorched earth behind them and as I remember, we were a lawful good party.


Outsourcing your internet persona

So the other night during our Friday night game, it came to light that Thor had outsourced his internet persona. We were actually gaming with a fellow named Sanjay in Bangladesh, whom Thor was paying $2 per hour to impersonate him on the internet. This was a brilliant idea on Thor’s part, first because Sanjay is a better player than he is and second because if I could pay someone to do all my screwing around on the internet, that would free up a massive amount of time to do more constructive things. Mind you, by constructive things, I mean masturbate.

Friday Night HackMaster

With Friday Night Magic now behind me along with a nice long break from the Friday night RPG group, it is now time to get back into a serious game. I feel much better these days, things have slowed down for me at work and I really did need a break. We discussed moving the game to Sundays, but Sundays are impossible for David due to work, so we are keeping it on Friday nights at 9 PM CST.

My plan is to gather for the first time on August 30th to roll up characters and then play our first game on September 6th.I plan to play HackMaster, again I considered A&D1E, but decided meh!, HM and 1E are more or less the same game and everyone has the books already. My plan at this point is to play the Slavers series. Wizard of the Coast has once again published it as part of the retro reprint effort, included is a whole new adventure in the series and by the time we finish that, I should have something else lined up.

Hopefully everyone will be returning to the game. Three months is a long hiatus from playing. With that kind of gap, it is easy to get to doing other things. I suppose we will see how things go.

Friday Night Oddities

This year has been seriously slow gaming year. Normally we play 40-45 games year, this year we will be lucky to hit 30. However we do seem to be making the most of the the games we are playing and they seem to more entertaining. Last Friday night, the party finally found the Faerie Dragon who is appropriately named Chong. The dragon hits them with his breath weapon, which is a cloud of euphoria, everyone failed their saves. The next thing anyone remembers is reality coming back into focus with everyone sitting in a circle taking hits off a bong and listening to Chong tell stoner stories. The point of the quest was to get a whisker from a Faerie Dragon, which Chong gives up willingly to his new bong buddies. However, Chong feels bad because he played several rather cruel practical jokes on the party in their journey to find him, so he wants to give them something back. He pulls a bag out of his pile and tells the PC’s to each put something in the bag and when he is finished, wonderful things will come out. So they each place a personal item in the bag. Chong digs through his treasure pile, and pulls out a potion, he opens it and the cave is filled with a gag inducing odor, he pours the obnoxious liquid in the bag. He then opens a box with some strange glowing slime which he dumps into the bag, then he takes a hit off the bong and blows the smoke into the bag. Finally he shakes the bag up really hard, says some magical words in ancient archaic elfish. He then opens the bag and looks in, with a perfect deadpan says, “Well that didn’t work out the way I thought it would.”.

1st level characters suck

So we started our new campaign last night. I started them off in Stoneburg, hex 808 on the Borderlands map of Points of Light. In the grand tradition of sandbox games, I presented them with several choices. They could go join the Dukes Militia and help defend the Dukes territory in various capacities. They could go to the Temple of Veritas and become gods own trouble shooters. They could become wise guys in the local crime family. Finally, they could enter the employ of the local hedge wizard and get involved in whatever hidden agenda he has.

The party decided to go see Professor Stormwynd, the local Mage and see what kind trouble he has brewing. Stormwynd asks them to go get the whisker of a fairy dragon for him. He tells them there is one in a grove in the Grenar Forrest, about 30 miles to the North East of Stoneburg, he gives them a sleep elixir and tells them if they can deliver this to his face it should knock him out for a while. So our intrepid party sets out to the Grenar Forrest by way of the Andros Pass and gets ambushed by 8 kobolds. The fight starts out badly when Ahbrom the Ranger gets hit with a butt load of penetration damage from a crossbow bolt and in the subsequent turn takes critical hit which leaves him with just 3 hit points. This forced Narumi the Cleric to stop attacking kobolds and heal Ahbrom. Even with the heal, Ahbrom is unable to hit a kobold until the last round of combat. After a poor showing in the first 2 rounds, they recovered and were able to defeat the kobolds, but in the early stages it looked like they might suffer a humiliating TPK.

After playing mid to high level characters for the last couple of years, it was really surreal watching this group flail around having difficulty with a group of kobolds.

Here is the starting line up:


By the way, this is my 250th post.

Arduin Grimoire Redux

Friday night we spent the evening doing character generation for our replacement campaign. Seeing as we have been having difficulty with attendance, I allowed everyone to roll up two characters. Feeling in a particularly good mood, I decided to give each character a roll off of the Special Ability Charts in Arduin Grimoire Volume 1. Back in the day, we used the Arduin Grimoires a lot, we had Techo’s and Phraints running around and hardly a campaign went by where one of the weird Arduin magic items appeared.

These charts appeal to me because they add a bit of background to the character by adding a single phrase to their description like; Natural Woodsman, Good Horseman or Talent for throwing daggers. There is also the possibility of picking up something very cool like Midget Hill Giant or Sired by a Vampire. All of these things brought some sort of special ability, usually +1 with daggers, +2 save versus spells or 20% discount when buying horses and  sometimes there was a trade off like -1 to Charisma. Again occasionally you got something really cool like immunity to fire, immunity to level drain or even +2 to everything.

I enjoyed this exercise so much, I think I might sit down one these afternoons and convert the charts to HackMaster and make them a regular part of my game. I might convert Phaints too while I am at it.

RE: Companions of Xarth

This year is not shaping up well. Even the Friday night game seems to have lost its momentum. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, after all the group is almost 9 years old, and it has been a good run. The problem is I don’t want to let it go. Unfortunately, Bruce has been having difficulty with his Internet and will probably not be attending the game for the foreseeable future and Thor has been ill off and on for more than a month. This leaves me with two active players, David and Scott. This also makes it difficult to run the current campaign which is not just high level, but really requires a broad mix of characters.

So what I am thinking is putting the current campaign on hiatus until Bruce and Thor are better able to play and start something new. This would allow me to focus more tightly on David and Scott and allow them the opportunity to build a balanced party better able to adventure. This would also be a good transition time to switch over to the Points of Light setting. Perhaps this is a good opportunity to change the name of the server and possibly the group name as well. I think I will change the server name to Carnifex for consistency, since it resides on the carnifex.game-host.org sub-domain. For the group name I am not so sure of, the Companions of Xarth name has a long and proud (?) history reaching back to Billings Montana in the 80′s, so I am less inclined to change it. I am not completely sure what I want to do yet, I suppose time will tell.

Well then, right, I suppose thats it then….

This is actually how the Lord of the Rings would have went if it were run with my group as a HackMaster game.


Post #200

This will be my last post for the year, oddly enough, it will also be my 200th post on this blog. I was going to make this post an end of year montage of various subjects I have talked about, but about 10% of the way through writing it, I was bored to tears. So then I start writing post about my expectations for the coming year again, about 10% in, I said to my self, fuck this, no one wants to read this shit. So I put it aside and went to catch up on the various blogs I read. I found there had been a multi blog discussion about how the commercially developed RPG products were not that good, especially back in the golden age and this probably stunted how the hobby grew up. A lot of the focus was on the creativity of the modules.

I think over all they are probably right. Many of the old dungeons were not all that good if you tried to read through them, or god forbid, if you tried to run them as written. I think what they missed here is, no one ran them as written. Do an experiment, go to Dragonsfoot forum and start a thread entitled “Tell me your stories about playing in The Steading of the Hill Giant Chief (G1)” and see what comes out. What you will get a 50 or 60 stories, all of them different, even stories about the same room, will be wildly different. The modules were run by different GM’s in different levels of skill, with different players and different PC’s with different equipment. What you will realize when reading the thread is the creativity came while the module was being played. The module was just a bare bones outline of an adventure, it was the GM and the players that filled out the details and brought it to life. We don’t remember the room because there was a snake with 8 hit points in it, we remember it because this god damned fucking snake was under the old bed and when Evro walked by it, the snake bit him and the poison almost killed him. See the difference there.

The other accusation aimed at the hobby is it is too reliant on Tolkien as source material. On the surface, this is probably true as well, but again, it misses deeper issue. Players and GM’s make this stuff their own. Again, my experience in GreyHawk would be wildly different from another player who didn’t earn his RPG cred in Billings Montana in the early 80′s. I think they are also missing the contributions of other authors to the hobby, Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, H.P. Lovecraft and Jack Vance, all left their mark on D&D. Not to mention all the various mythology, especially Greek and Norse which influenced us. You could probably add more to that list.

Lastly, I’d like to point out what seems really obvious to me. What these other bloggers seem to be missing is the shared experience. Shared experience is an important element in human community building. For instance, people who have been in the Army can go to a VFW anywhere in the country and feel at home. We can do this because we have similar life experiences. We all went to Basic Training, we all took craps in open stalls were another guy was farting 2 feet away, we all ate in chow halls and choked down over cooked grits and under cooked bacon, to name just a few things. This stuff is unpleasant, but it does form a shared experience that makes for a community bond that transcends generations.

While D&D does not provide the shared experience of ultimate male bonding that is open bay crappers, it does provide us with something similar. Going back to my idea of starting a Dragonsfoot thread about telling G1 stories, if you did this you would discover players bonding over the experience in the same way two old soldiers would bond over visiting the same bar in Mannheim Germany 30 years apart, these are the things that bind us together. Next week I am starting act two of my campaign. Act two is going to be the “Against the Giants” series, which includes the fore mentioned G1. These modules fit nicely into the over all plot of the campaign, but more importantly it passes the shared experience to my nephew, whom I hope one day will go to a game convention or a gamer forum and talking to others, realize he has a link to these people that transcends time and geography.

Happy New year everyone, drink, fuck and be merry, because on Monday we have to go back to work.

The continuing adventures

I realised last night I had not posted anything about the Friday night game in a while. Last night, they completed Act I of a very long and drawn out campaign. To recap, last year I decided we needed to play a long long campaign and give everyone a chance to get a character to 15th level, which has never been done in one of our campaigns. So I laid out an 18 month campaign, of which we are now 6 months into.

The over arcing plot line is this campaign is, last year during the Christmas game, due to several bad draws from a Deck of Many Things, Trelissa (David’s Drow Thief) became a prisoner of Ymir, the Frost Giant Gawd, to make matters worse, Hahmez (Thor’s Half-Orc Fighter/Cleric) acquired an extra dimensional enemy, if you guessed Ymir, you are correct. So, now the party is off to rescue Trelissa and hopefully get Ymir off Hahmez’s back. To this end, the party was told by the seer Lilly they needed a guide, someone who could lead them into Jotunheim. To this end, the seer told them to seek the heads of the three hags. The heads turned out to be skulls of Valkyries, when put together, can summon the Queen of the Valkyries. Last night they managed to get the third skull and most everyone is now 10th level, putting the campaign right on track.

We are now headed into the holiday season, so no game next week, the next game we will be playing our mini campaign, which is run by David. After which, we head into the Christmas game, so we will not be coming back to this game until after the first of the year.