Friday, October 30, 2020

Traveller: Research and Rescue [Part 3]

The following are GameDoc's session notes for the last session of our exploration of the ziggurats...

Fantasy Grounds Traveller - No Smash Mouth
** Welcome, Traveller... **

After stuffing another shootout with the strange humanoid soldiers, the Travellers continue their exploration of the alien ruin and discover one last survivor of the previous scientific exposition, a man named Aldred Giles.

Giles tells them that they were ambushed while unloading their equipment. Half the team were killed. He and the research assistant that the Travellers previously encountered were held here while the other survivors were taken away (where he doesn’t know). 

Giles and his colleague were made to attempt to sort out the dormant computer banks but all they managed to to was turn the power on by randomly pushing buttons. He really has no idea how anything works. At some point, they did “something” that caused the lights to go out for a moment. The Travellers deduce it was the gravitic pulse that downed their transport. 

He was also able to deduce that his captors were some sort of organic automaton with only rudimentary intelligence. They could only seem to operate within a narrow range of operating parameters.
Fantasy Grounds Traveller - Ziggurat Underground
This looks like a good spot to leave.

Using the Artefact Module, Hernando learns that this facility is powered by tapping the planet core but that the exact science behind this is unclear. It served as a defense station for the now long-extinct civilization that one inhabited the planet.

Having explored the ruins and discovered the fate of the missing research team, the Travellers decide its time to head home. Giles directs them to a working lift that emerges at the top of the second ziggurat, directly across from the one they entered through. Unfortunately, the plaza between them is patrolled by more of the automatons. 

Fantasy Grounds Traveller - Exfiltration
Protip:  Always know where the proverbial back door is.

J.C., having repaired their vehicle, slowly circles around through the forest and hovers at the back of the ziggurat. But with an injured Giles in tow, they Travellers aren’t able to be stealth enough to avoid notice. Amadeus drops a pair of frag greases on the advancing automatons to cover their escape and they all safely board the transport.

Back in the city of Serson, the Kingfisher is within a few days of full repair. Baroness Edda is grateful for the return of the surviving researcher and curious to know the nature of the automatons who assaulted the expedition. Hernando performs a study on the creatures DNA only to make a horrific discovery - it’s genetic code has been derived from human DNA. Once again, the Travellers are confronted with a type of unknown, advanced science.

More questions remain: If their enemies are barely-intelligent automatons, who created them and sent them to the ruins? What were they after? Where did the human DNA come from? Who will ultimately control the gravitic alien tech?

Fantasy Grounds Traveller - Real Doctor
Of course I can provide credentials.

Meanwhile, J.C. remains highly suspicious of the Baroness and wants to steer clear of getting drawn back into the politics of the nobility. When the Kingfisher is repaired, he and Riley are determined to head back to space.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Evolving Our Campaigns

Embrace solutions.
Inspirobot knows what must be done...
So, 2020 has brought with it this whole big mess.  

I don't really want to get into it, you already know what it is.  Anyways, I haven't had an on-table game THIS ENTIRE TIME.  I'm a good boy.  

I gave up the idea of actually completing any of the wargaming campaigns that were currently in-progress or set to begin.  I had been thinking for some time about what the 'appropriate' number of games was for any specific campaign - and I think it's time we evolved our mindsets about what constitutes a wargames campaign and what we want to get out of one.

For the old club, this was easy.  As many games as you could physically play with that large a group of people was the appropriate number of games for that campaign.  This led to some truly epic campaigns, some of you may remember.  We kind of carried that mindset forward into the era of Iron Seer, but the hard stop earlier this year has put some things into perspective.  What this really means is that the big change we're enacting now is exactly the opposite of the ideas I had when we started - meaning more campaigns with fewer games in each.

I want to start campaigns up again, but it's going to have to be very different to accommodate what we need to call 'modern existence'.  For one thing, my area is in the middle of a 'flare-up' and lockdowns are rolling past like the cascade of doom it is.  Quarantines and self-quarantines are the order of the day.  I had already consigned the year as 'lost' even though I already declared 2019 my 'lost' year.  To be fair, I accomplished a lot more hobbywise this year than last but what-hoo.

So what's in the toolbox?  Let's put something on the menu.  I'm hangry for some wargaming.

Well, I've talked about Game Masters for wargames for some time now, and I think it's time I started running these campaigns more oriented toward that mentality.  Let us forgo the pretentions of tournaments and such - it's a pain to keep up with that anyway.

Instead of narrative-framed 'leagues' with lots of players and timed in months, I'm going to devise smaller campaigns focusing on smaller groups of players.  Instead of 'winners' in the campaign, they will operate more like RPG's in the narrative.  That is, it will worry about what faction wins, much like our team campaigns.  It will matter which player wins what, and who's the Op-For at the time (usually I'm sure this will be me).  I'm sure there will be some accolades in there to call out specific honors for each campaign.  Maybe we'll start a Hall of Honors on the site.

Anyway, look for campaigns to overlap.  We'll be keeping track of these in the Campaigner.  Generally any game will be open to anyone who wants to play.  I'll generally want to do a spotlight for games that I've recently introduced, but it's time to revisit some of the old ones nice and proper as well.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Howl of Oblivion - The Bandit Plague [Part 3]

Howl of Oblivion by Iron Seer
** Howl of Oblivion Campaign Page **

Hanasib Ibn-Xers joins the party at the next dawn along with Doctro, a traveling foreign mage living among the Tevarsi.  He is warned of dire consequences for any treachery he may be planning, but seems sincere in his desire to repent.  Hanasib tells the party about the trail at the base of Mt. Vesir, and the party sets out.

Fantasy Grounds - Walkul's Warning

The party loses the trail on the first day, but early the next morning they are quickly back on the right path.  The bandits are encamped much the same as before, and the party quickly ingratiates itself to the warband using Hanasib's connections.  Though Tep El-Bakir left early in the morning heading west for Yecha, they learn of this group's intent to rove near the nomad bands and attract more warriors, linking up with other small bands at predetermined points throughout the Tevarsi / Zyrjan lands. 

Fantasy Grounds - Diplomatic Approach

There are Tevarsi among the small number of brigands, but they are too drunk and stupid to realize the Amir's advisors aren't actually joining the revolution.  It isn't until late that night that things get tense when Tevarsi who AREN'T that drunk and stupid arrive and accuse the party of being lapdogs of the Amir, and enemy to those present.

Fantasy Grounds - Walkul's Jokes
Fantasy Grounds - Walkul's Jokes 2

The party diffuses the situation, but everything remains tense.  As more and more powerful warriors arrive, the warband's views on the player characters could take a quick turn for the worse.  The party waits until later the next night, stealing horses from the brigands and making a break for it...

...BUT, Doctro doesn't go with the plan, putting Khaine in danger as he doubled back to the encampment to 'rescue' the mage.  Dodging flying handaxes and whooshing sling bullets, Khaine is forced to withdraw when Doctro actively avoids his attempt at extrication.  The party is forced to leave Doctro with the warband, who quickly take him into custody.  Though he talked fast and managed to keep his head, his position is left precarious as the warband puts him under guard and prepare to take him to the next rendezvous to be handed over to another bandit leader - if he manages to keep his head that long...

Fantasy Grounds - Gnoll Attack
Fantasy Grounds - Gnoll Combat

Not far from the warband camp, the party notices strange humanoids standing near the rocks on the trail, but ignore them.  The following night, the party is headed towards Yecha and is attacked by monstrous gnolls who simply hiss the word "Tevarsi!" before attacking.  Killing two of the monsters and causing another to flee into the night, the party makes a shocking discovery...

Fantasy Grounds - Letters to Iuz

Sunday, October 18, 2020

HeroQuest Tombs, Sorcery and Alchemy

HeroQuest Alchemist's Benches
Shadow-Demon Binding 101 - Lesson 1:  Always Shadow-Bind in a well-lit area, especially with demons you don't know personally.

There's a few more gubbins left in the ol' HeroQuest casket.  Miss Anthropy painted up pretty much the whole set in a quick minute, and really did a good job on the weathering of the ancient stone and wood.  These look especially great on dungeon tiles, if you're not using them on the old HeroQuest board.

Which I do NOT have...buuuuut now there's a Kickstarter for a new set and I'm all in.

HeroQuest Tombs
"Yo, I'm check my pocket-watch - and it says it's time for you layabouts to get your sorry loafs to baking!  So, GET UP!  You're on the clock!"

Of course, the astute will be able to tell that this isn't just one set.  As I've said, I acquired these pieces later on down the line, my own copies (plural) of HeroQuest disappearing in trades over twenty or so years.  Thirty?  Ye gads - more like thirty.

HeroQuest Sorcerer's Table
Lesson 6 - Make sure your charms of binding are in the correct order for the type of plane your demon is being summoned from.  Incorrect seating of the "M" rune above certain other sets of runes can be interpreted as dire insults, for which any summoned demon might feel provoked.

Eh, that's what you get I suppose.  Nothing lasts forever, especially the tips on your HeroQuest Sorcerer's Table's candlesticks and Alchemist's Bench Scales.  Those snap right off at some point and they never even bother to tell you about it.  Rude.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Howl of Oblivion - The Bandit Plague [Part 2]

Howl of Oblivion presented by Iron Seer
** Howl of Oblivion Campaign Page **

After receiving the Amir's orders, Jaan Dhar meets with his new companions in his yurt.  Borz Lockwarden, Khaine Son-of-Man and Iris the Elfmaiden join his warband to track down the dirty dogs despoiling the Tevarsi territory.  Jaan Dhar is a fine hunter among his people and all these outlanders are mercenary types, so the amir is fine putting setting them to such dangerous tasks.

Fantasy Grounds - The Bandit Plague [2] Jaan Speaks

Taking a scrawled map from Lopollah's acolytes showing where a set of tracks that do not belong to the Tevarsi were recently found, the party easily tracks them to Hanasib's camp.  There, the brigands mistake them for recruits and the party begins to hang around and get to know their quarry.  Everything seems off, from the way the men talk of conquest to the way the aarakocra circle in the sky some distance away.

It soon becomes apparent that Hanasib was buying what El-Bakir was selling.  In fact, so do all the assembled nomads at the camp.  Many are intent on conquest, but more disturbing is the idea of a restored Baklunish Empire that seems to be floating around.

The party pretends to help the bandits ready to move their camp, but lures Hanasib aside.  They fail their planned ambush but capture Hanasib uninjured after the bandits prove themselves a rather bumbling lot. 

Fantasy Grounds - The Bandit Plague 2 Battle
"Yeah, he's hogtied now - but did you see that other guy fall and crack his skull open?!"

As they begin to return to the Tevarsi Encampment, the aarakocra they saw in the distance earlier begin to circle and signal their intent to land.  After a short trade with the birdmen, the party obtains a slab of meat prepared by what happens to be the best birdmen cooks in over a hundred miles.  The party is the first humanoid encounter with birdmen in the area for a long, long time - a noteworthy accomplishment on it's own.

When the party arrives at the Shrine of Istus, Xers Dai slaps his son Hanasib right in the face with nary a word exchanged.  Dinner is prepared from the Birdman's Beef for the Amir and the party, along with the Xers and Hanasib Dai.  It is a huge hit with everyone and the party is able to talk about how they were the first people to trade with Birdmen in over a century...AND that they had eaten the exotically spiced delicacy AUTHENTICALLY PREPARED by ACTUAL BIRDMEN.

It seems that a contrite and repentant Hanasib wishes to regain his father's favor and also not be executed by Amir Beif.  Considering such, he has agreed to show Amir Iruz's warriors where exactly on Mt. Vesir that Tep El-Bakir intended to meet with his new recruits after they were gathered from across nomad lands.  If the party wishes, he will even guide them personally. 

The party carefully begins to consider how exactly to proceed, and whether or not they can trust Hanasib Dai.

Fantasy Grounds - The Bandit Plague [2] Walkul shares a Wisdom

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Pillars of Good and Evil

Reaper Pillars of Evil

Pillars of Good and Evil!

These are Bones models from one of the Kickstarters - honestly I'm not sure which, but you can grab them on the Reaper site.  I had only one of each, but we came across a Frostgrave scenario that requires six such statues.  So a quick order on the webcrawler got me the extra pieces I needed.

Reaper Pillars of Good

Like a lot of projects right now, we didn't have a lot of time to spend on this.  Miss Anthropy made short work of these when she found them on the paint bench.  A layer over the Bones material on each statue, followed by an inking and a highlighting with a lighter color.  Honestly I'm not even sure which paints she used, except that the "good" statues got a Turquoise Glaze that was twenty-plus years old.  I have a whole bottle still...and it worked great!  Naturally.

Good Job, 1990's Games Workshop!

Reaper Pillars of Good and Evil

Friday, October 9, 2020

Howl of Oblivion - The Bandit Plague [Part 1]

Howl of Oblivion presented by Iron Seer
Howl of Oblivion Campaign Page

The Greyhawk Wars have passed.  From the ashes, the nations of the Flanaess retreat to their holds to lick their wounds.  Though peace is said to flourish across the lands and the wars have ground to a halt, the Flanaess is perhaps more dangerous today than at the outbreak of the wars.

All folk across the Flanaess are justifiably wary of even their neighbors, to say nothing of strangers.  The wars and their insidious belligerents have made everyone paranoid, and the general rule is to keep to one's self.  In these uncertain times, caution prevails over social niceties.  The distance between communities (as well as the folk within them) has grown greatly over the last few long and hard years. 

In the west, in the lands populated by the Baklunish folk, the scars of the war are only just beginning to be felt.  Far from civilization, some bands of nomads never saw  battle in the recent conflicts of the eastern nations.  

And yet...something sinister stirs in these lands.  The unrest across the Flanaess has risen dramatically since the wars' end.  In these dark times, danger stirs to threaten all one could ever hold dear - and even those far removed from the conflicts of these last years will suffer.  

The Tevarsi Encampment

In the eastern part of the lands of the Tiger Nomads, the Tevarsi clan plies the space where the foothills of the Yatils meet the ice of the frozen north.

Loyal to the Unvanquishable Tiger Lord Ilkhan Cligit of the Chakyik Horde, the Tevarsi have lived on these lands for hundreds of years.  They have a fine tradition of horsemanship, and are proud to serve as warriors for the Ilkhan when he calls for them.

The encampment is sprawling, with many yurts set up in concentric circles.  While approximately 400 people populate the clan's grounds, only 100 or so of them are fighting age males.

The Tevarsi are typical Tiger Nomads, one might even say exemplar of the sort.

The following are points of interest within the encampment, where ever it may currently be:

  • Amir's Yurt
  • Elder's Council
  • Shrine of Istus
  • Artisans' Ring
  • Outfitters' Row
  • Hunter's Lodges
  • Stable Yards
  • Night Market

While the Tevarsi have plenty of normal supplies, it might be hard for PC's to find exactly what they are looking for within the encampment.  To represent this, the premium on any non-food item other than basic weapons is raised to 25%.  Otherwise, the normal 10% still applies as it does all over the Flanaess due to the lasting effects of the war.

The Bandit Plague

Neighboring tribes to the east and west both have concerns regarding roving brigands.

The nearby Zyrjan clan of the Tiger Nomads have sent emissaries who will arrive shortly, and the Faraku Wolf Nomads just beyond the foothills have also sent word of their concerns back with the border scouts, and will arrive within the week to speak to the Amir.  

The player characters are trusted advisors of the Amir of the Tevarsi, Sulan Iruz.  The adventure begins with the players standing with the Amir.  Sulan Iruz requires the PC's to escort the emissaries of the Zyrjan into the encampment, who are expected to arrive later in the day.  Nothing untoward is expected, but the amir wants some of his best folk on the job. 

The players approach the ridge at mid-day and post-up.  They must wait until the Zyrjan envoys appear on the horizon and let them approach.  Once contact has been made, they are to bring the envoys back to the camp.

However, that plan doesn't exactly pan out.  

A string of nomad commoners from the lands outlying the camp arrive, and are waved into the encampment from a distance.  Lopollah, the Tevarsi priestess of Istus, visits the party while they are on the ridge soon after.  She and a few acolytes bring water and begin singing to the goddess.

Suddenly, three horses come running fast over the far ridge.  Nothing seems to be pursuing them, but when the horsemen draw closer it can be seen that they are panicked and fleeing. The players flag them down, and though they are frightened at first the party identifies themselves quickly, they they stop and are becalmed enough to speak.

It is Calikankir Fashrazradir of the Zyrjans, and two of his men.  They are injured and bleeding, and they bring word from their  Amir Beif Castandreh of increased brigand activity along the main routes through both Zyrjan and Tevarsi territory.

It seems they had been ambushed further up the trail, just over the far ridge!  Although they managed to escape, but lost a man and cart (full of food). They saw four brigands, and were taken by surprise at close quarters.

The party did not wait, sending Fashrazradir into the camp with Lopollah.  Advancing on the ambush site, they are spotted by brigands who are plundering the Zyrjan cart. The party of adventurers make short work of the brigands, some of whom manage to run into the wilderness.

Victorious, they notice the unconcious body of an old man, Xers Dai, the eldest of the Zyrjan envoy's party.  He was assumed dead by Fahshrazradir and was left.  Xers is very grateful once he realizes the party means him no harm.  The party also search the brigands for loose change.

The party safely delivers Xers Dai to the envoy and the amir.

The Zyrjans bring dire news.  All across the northern nomad lands, brigands have been rising in number and disrupting the otherwise idyllic lives of the folk who dwell there.  Dealing with this will have to be a combined effort, especially if the brigands manage to form an army.  This is Fashrazradir's prime concern.

The party is named as the forefront of the body of soldiers the amir will commit to help hunt down these brigand dogs before they can form an army.  When the other members of the Zyrjan envoy leave with the amir's pledge of these warriors to the hunt, Lopollah approaches the party along with Xers Dai.  He had remained behind for another concern.

It seems that his son, Hanasib, has gone missing. Due to both this event and his unique placement in the Zyrjan tribe, Dai has developed a theory about what may be happening with the brigands but was hesitant to bring it up in front of Fashrazradir.  It seems that a Ketite amir named Tep El-Bakir appeared in their lands, offering work to the men who could fight.

Hanasib listened to El-Bakir's rhetoric, which alluded that those with might could find conquest in the east in the wake of the war.  El-Bakir insinuated ideas of wealth and glory in the minds of the young men. This angered Amir Beif, and he summoned El-Bakir - who could not be found in the Zyrjan encampment.

Against the orders of Amir Beif, many of them went to join El-Bakir in the night.  Hanasib was one of them.  Dai insists that Hanasib is a good young man, but taken with the lies of a budding warlord.  He pleads with the party to bring Hanasib back alive, and without telling the Zyrjans of the issue.

Lopollah seems to endorse this, which seems odd for a follower of a Fate deity.  She was the only one Dai trusted to speak to, as a Priestess of Istus.  Additionally, she has one of her acolytes point the party in the direction of mysterious tracks found in the last few days that don't seem to belong to any of the Tevarsi.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

HeroQuest Dungeon Elements

As everyone probably knows by now, I love chests.  I mean, face it - everyone loves chests.  Nice pretty chests, full of ... treasure.  I'm totally talking about HeroQuest pieces.

Heroquest Chests and Weapon Racks

I like a nice rack.  Just about any size rack is great, as long as it's sturdy and reliable.  I tell you what, I just looking at racks when they are all gussied up.  Nothing quite like admiring a good looking rack.  

You can never have too many racks.  You know, for weapons.  Or otherwise.

Heroquest Torture Racks

Friday, October 2, 2020

Howl of Oblivion

Howl of Oblivion by Iron Seer
** Last Updated 07/23/21 **

Western Flanaess, 585 C.Y.

The Greyhawk Wars have raged across the lands known as the Flanaess for the past three years.  In the west, the wars largely passed the Baklunish people by.  However, no one will be spared from the repercussions of these titanic conflicts.

Around the rim of the Dramidj Ocean, things remain much the same as they were before the wars.  The exception is in Ket - the opportunistic ruler, Beygraf Zoltan, seized an opening and has subjugated the southern state of Bissel - after allying with Iuz the Evil One.  It is widely assumed (especially in the east) that he is searching for other "opportunities" in the near future.

The Baklunish West includes:
  • Tiger Nomads
  • Wolf Nomads
  • Ekbir
  • Tusmit
  • Zeif
  • Ket
  • Plains of the Paynims
  • Ull
  • The Dry Steppes (to the south of Ull)
The Tuflik-Blashikmund river is the natural border between these Baklunish states.  The Fler river serves as the border between the northern nomads, and flows through the Burneal Forest into the Land of Black Ice.

The Peace of Greyhawk

In the Free City of Greyhawk, the warring parties met when it became apparent that the wars could no longer be sustained.  After much discussion, a unifying treaty was signed that put a stop to the total war consuming the central nations of the Flanaess.  It will remain to be seen if all the belligerents hold to it.

Iuz the Old, dark lord of the Flanaess, has withdrawn his armies and a relative peace has settled over the land...though Dorakaa isn't that far from Eru Tovar.  While Iuz's attention was focused to the east, the Baklunish folk were content to ignore him.  Now, the attitude is much more cautious.

A Time to Adventure!

Though folk are wary and paranoid, it is a time of great opportunity for those willing to risk life, limb and sanity.  Adventurers and mercenaries during these times are likely to find work to be very lucrative and plentiful...if more dangerous than ever before.

To the east, the nations are ravaged by injustice and paranoia.  The land and its' folk have been depleted by war and sinister dealings of cowards and politicians.  Be warned, be wary.

Welcome to Greyhawk.  

Player Characters

Active Members

The Laughing Legion
  • Walkul Shieldheart, Neutral Good Human Cleric of Pelor
  • Borz Lockwarden, Neutral Good Dwarven Fighter/Thief
  • Iris, Neutral Good Elf Fighter
  • Khaine Son-of-Man, Human Thief
  • Anverth, Neutral Good Gnome Fighter/Illusionist

  • Vicros Swordhand, Chaotic Neutral Elven Thief
  • Ravynn, Neutral Good Elven Mage
  • Doctro, True Neutral Human Mage
  • Jaan Dhar, True Neutral Human Fighter
  • Keshik, True Neutral Human Druid
  • Kelil, Neutral Good Human Ranger

  • The Death Roll is empty.

Session Logs