Saturday, April 26, 2014

S&W in the Southern Reaches: Session 5 - Castle of the Mad Archmage 2 - Chutes & Slopes

We went back to the Castle of the Mad Archmage in the Southern Reaches B-Team game. For a much better summary, check Doug's blog. Where our accounts differ on specifics, he's certainly the correct version. Mine is from memory, his is from notes.

Here is the GM's perspective on it, too.

Minister, Half-Elf Cleric/Magic-User (lvl 1/1) (Tim Shorts)
Mirado the Bloody, Human Fighter (lvl 3) (me)
     Beggar #1 (lvl 0), human wretch with staff and torch
     Beggar #2 (lvl 0), human wretch with staff and torch
Rul Scararm, Human Fighter (lvl 3) (Douglas Cole)
Alisha, Human Druid (lvl ?) (Michael)

We started out at the gates of the Castle of the Mad Archmage. Rul had wisely purchased some healing potions last time but foolishly didn't buy more this time. Mirado once again hired some hirelings, wasting 50 gp on recruiting considering the two miserable specimens of doltish cowards he ended up hiring. Still, a torchbearer is a torchbearer, and the sunk cost of the 50 gp convinced him to take them along.

The guards from last time were gone - clearly they left in some haste. It occured to Mirado that something must have come up and chased them away, and the idea that they'd fled real authorities or more badass adventurers once their possible scam had been discovered didn't yet occur to him.

We headed down to level 2 without stopping on level 1. We discussed continuing down to level 3 (I was all for it) but everyone else felt compelled by a) Minister being a novice yet and b) level 3 being quite potentially dangerous. So we opened up the double doors.

We immediately started to go left. Minister reminded us Left is Sacred, and indeed, the Church of the Left Turn has treated this flock well. We've occasionally had to bend to the whims of the evils of straights and rights, but often once we re-orient ourselves after passing them, those false rights turn out to be well and truly lefts, and it's okay for us to continue.

We found a Magic Mouth which told us a limerick about an elf that slid down a pit into the depths, or something, and what looked the a Grimtooth trap - a long corridor with spikes at the end. Uh, nah.

In short order we found a room with fungus, a passage on the other side, and five giant crickets in it. There was also a small door - 4' tall and 2 1/2' wide. Our druid tried to listen at the door, but the crickets prevented that. In frustration, Mirado attacked them - briefly considering and then discarding the idea of using oil. Oops. Mirado preceded to whiff over and over on the crickets, as did Rul, allowing them to bite Minister and Mirado. Minister had to bust out his Sleep spell to put them down. Which was actually good, because it also slept a pair of megalocentipedes charging in to the fray. We slew them and searched their room, but nothing.

Behind the small door was a chest with silver pieces, and a suit of human-sized full plate, which Mirado took, and gave his plate mail to Minister.

We continued on and found a long corridor with sloped slightly down. We figured it went to level 3; Mirado argued we needed to see if it did and then Rul argued strongly we needed to check a room. Especially after it took our poor GM a while to pull the map up to look at it. (Sorry)

We tried some doors and failed to open them. Behind another we found a room with a door and 16,000 odd keys hanging on the wall. A message on the floor told us a story, and we started to puzzle out the message. Rul pounced on the answer right away, and selected the right key and opened the door. Nice.

Beyond it was a room with a wardrobe and three chests. (At this point, Michael was tired and had to go, so our Druid headed to the surface)

Mirado looked for obvious traps, because if he was a Mad Archmage he'd put a totally awful deathtrap behind a difficult puzzle, just to be like that. But we found nothing of that sort - just the usual deathtraps on the treasure.

We got the chests open, although Mirado got his arms slammed with a beartrap. We found 10,000 cp and a bunch of silver and 3000 or so gold, and a shortsword. Finally there was the wardrobe. The idea was to pull it open with a rope, so Mirado went to tie it on . . . but got nailed with an Old School Save or Die poison needle. Hah, I say. Hah. He easily made his save this time. Behind it was a leather cloak. We took the better loot and marked the location in our minds to come back to.

We went back to level 2 and explored more. We met and killed some troglodytes - and a timely Sleep spell by Minister put them down along with their reinforcements. Nicely done.

We kept exploring.

We bashed open a door and surprised some orcs playing cards. Mirado rushed in and attacked, killing one and then whiffing on the next - but only barely. So I spent 1 Luck for a +2 and made it barely hit, instead. That told - Mirado sliced down four orcs before he could cleave no more. The fifth and sixth went down to Minister.

We heard orcs in the other room call out. Mirado responded in Orcish with something like "Come help us!" but they weren't fooled. They piled up stuff in front of the door. Heh. Mirado got out oil, but then thought better of it. We looted the downed orcs, and Mirado called out what we found on each one. The orcs on the other side complained they were card cheats. Then Mirado decided to negotiate.

He offered the orcs the copper from level 3 if they'd help carry treasure. They asked for the ep we found on the orcs. Mirado said, sure, yeah, if they help carry the treasure they could have the copper and the ep, but not any of the rest. They agreed and opened the door. Notice that Mirado didn't say anything about not attacking them. Not even close to violating his word - he just offered a job and a reward for the job. When they opened the door, Mirado looked at Rul and said, "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

Rul had no clue.

So Mirado clued him in - when he attacked the orc leader. Slice, he went right down, as did some of the others through Cleave. The group piled on and the orcs went down.


Mirado briefly considered raising an orc army to back him, but then, nah. Not those orcs. They cheat at cards.

Mirado turned to Rul and said, "I'm disappointed you didn't know what I was thinking." Geez, do I have to spell it out in pig common? "ets-lay ill-kay ose-thay cs-oray."

After the orcs, it would have been pretty smooth sailing back. But right as we were thinking about returning to the surface or pushing our luck a bit, Mirado prompted everyone to see if a corridor on our map linked up. Tenkar subtly hinted we could just go right back to the surface, but we ignore that, mostly because I knew if I didn't check that right now, I'd check it next time first thing, and I was curious if it linked up. That cost us a bit of fun and a brief moment of me wondering if my guy didn't just up and get killed.

As we moved along the hallway, Mirado got a little in the lead. We'd neglected to keep tapping the floor (or maybe just to remind the DM we were doing so) and Mirado hit a pit trap. He blew two pretty easy saves (I needed an 11, thanks to level, DX, and my magic ring, a second one after blowing two Luck, and dropped down a chute. I didn't know it was a chute, and when I heard I'd dropped down and was gone I figured I'd gone where that Magic Mouth told us the elf went. I stopped and asked Erik, "Is my guy dead?" - it would have sucked if so.

It was kind of a Dungeon Robber moment right there.

But he wasn't. Mirado fell into a 30 x 30 room with skeletons in it. He still managed to pop up and attack them first, and began to melee them. The hole in the ceiling closed, but the guys above could hear fighting.

Then - and this is why Mirado adventures with these men - they grabbed the two beggars and jumped into the chute-bottomed pit and slid into the fray. One for three and three for all. One beggar landed on Mirado (ouch), another on a skeleton (ouch). Minister was hurt, too, if I recall correctly. But with Rul there with his undead slaying sword, the skeletons went down quickly.

Naturally, there were no exits. But "Mad Archmage" isn't the same as "total jerk" so we were sure there was one. We found it.

This is where our mapping (well, Tenkar's mapping on our behalf) paid off. And where our scouting paid off in spades. We were somewhere North and East of our way back up to level 2. Heheheh. We kept pushing for a connection, and - after being mocked and questioned by a Magic Mouth (who Mirado owned up to that we had no idea what us dolts were doing here) - we eventually found one.

With that, we headed home. Ah, Mirado's companions are some really good guys.

We paid off the hirlings their two gold (which they barely earned), split the rest four ways, and then hit the shops to get more potions. We did, cleaning them out of healing-type potions for next trip.

The shortsword turned out to be +1, but cursed to always be in your off hand. Mirado briefly considered taking that, but since it's not any better and considerably less cool than an ogre head, he didn't. We sold it off to pay for the Remove Curse. The cloak was a Cloack of Protection +2 and while Mirado would love that, Minister needs better saves and AC so it was a no-brainer that he would get it.

Great game.


- Mirado went from nearly level 4 to nearly level 5. And rolled a 1 on his HP, like the last two levels, but that triggers an automatic re-roll. He got a 7, so +8 HP. He's now at 34 HP. Nice.

- Once again the hireling were largely useless. I'm sort of tempted by getting actual henchmen - level 1 dudes, now that I'm a flush 4th level fighter. With the per-room exploration bonus Tenkar is using, it wouldn't matter if they take a full sized chunk of XP. They're welcome to it.

If that per-room bonus was not per-person but divided amongst the group, then it might be more of an issue (and really tempt people to solo trips.) But it's a mechanism for advancement in a 12-times-a-year game, so who cares?

That per-room bonus is why we gave a full share to the druid even though his player had to bow out just before we found all the good loot. Why stint? He probably needs it, and Rul and Mirado wouldn't have leveled any more with it and Minister couldn't. And the freaking hirlings didn't earn it. The most any of them did was 1 HP of damage to a skeleton he fell on.

- We need better guards for our six and a scout of some kind, preferably a thief. Double-preferably one with secret door detection abilities. Maybe I need to find and hire those two guys I spared last time.

- I always wonder when I'm driving or walking why you wouldn't notice a low incline when you're moving. I might not be able to tell you the degree of slope, but it's really clear when things slope down more than a very slight amount. Or up. Anyway, I bought some clay marbles and I'm going to make a simple plumb line with a sling bullet and a piece of leather and a short wooden handle.

- I need to re-write my character sheet.

- Tenkar has gotten very, very good at slicing the edge on Fog of War. No longer do we find secret doors just by noticing map artifacts, and we've had to check some spots that look likely but turned out just to be well-FOW'ed wall edges. Nice.

- Save or die poison? We need to buy a scroll of Slow Poison, assuming that actually would stop "instant" death poison. Also, I always get a grin out how poison needles are armor piercing in D&D games. It's not like I'd take my gloves off to open a wardrobe, and if I had to, I wouldn't handle the handle. Oh well. Next time, axe.

- Once again, Mirado is living the dream. Cut him for 4 damage? Then he's stabbing you and your sleeping buddies four times and healing up. Rul (reasonably) asked to borrow the sword to heal himself.

I did my best George Thorogood impression when Rul asked.
"Hey, I'm wounded, do you think you can let me stab people with your sword a little bit?"
"I dunno, I have to go ask Wounderlicker."
(moments later)
"Uh, she's kind of funny about that . . . "

Out of game, I'd do it. In game, I suspect Mirado is slightly worried by what might happen if his sword is more willful than it lets on and I go passing it around like a HP-healing soda straw. So he won't be doing that. There is potentially real downsides to messing with a sword that drinks blood.

I do need to stat up a variety of vampiric weapons for GURPS - that might be a fun Pyramid article for DF. I'll get on that. I need to ask Erik if Woundlicker is his and if I can use the name, though, or come up with my own. BTW Woundlicker would make a great Kiss song title.


  1. original version of Woundlicker (Talizmar's Woundlicker)

    it has changed (simplified) over time, but at the core, the same sword


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