Minicon Recap

  • Last weekend at Manhattan Minicon, I ran and completed The Redoubt of Hades over two play sessions.

Players were Greg, who I met for a pickup game of GURPS Infinite World, and who has played through two of my other con games, Beneath the Fallen Tower, and Shame of the Deepguard. He played Jelani the halberdier, and made great use of called shots to the neckJelani Character Sheet 187 for Greg

Next was Andre, who has played several characters in my online game, Northport, including the goblin priest of the Erl King, Zeelzeel Shadowspear.  He was torn between Marlo, the thief of indeterminate gender, and Zeelzeel’s necromancer cousin, longtime NPC Razakeel Shadowcloak , who had some zombie allies. He ended up settling on Marlo, due to his love of knives.

Marlo Character Sheet 187 for Andre

Mark, enthusiastic and new to GURPS, was also attracted to Razakeel, became torn between Ofelia, the Sleep centric mage from Shame of the Deepguard, and Thornstripe, a movement and missile mage, equipped with both fireball, and the now off-book Winged Knife. He succumbed to the sweet lure of pyromania, which worked well against the undead being faced.

Thornstripe character sheet 187

Nick briefly contemplated an adventurer, but decided to complete the classic quartet and wonderfully played the cleric Sister Clarissa

Sister Clarissa 187

(Note: her will is 13, not 11)

Nick is French, and my campaign is set in a caricature of medieval France, so there were some awkward moments as I mangled the names of some of my NPCs. He took everything in stride and was hilarious in his depiction of the charitable but severe priestess.

“Good morning Heretic, we are here to enter the Undercity.”

The adventure started in the common room of the Adventurers Guild, which is my conceit for accommodating a West Marches style of play.  They were called upstairs by Bellarius (high elf Agent from DF15), the secretary of Camilla the Quest Coordinator (Agent+Adept) who brought them to her, where they also met with Plutocrat Remulos of the Hadereum (cleric+a couple of social lenses with rank and wealth), Margeaux le Manifique (the apparent sole survivor of that poorly managed expedition by a bad player), and Karlow the orc working for the Department of Acueducts and Sewers.

Due to increased cult activity in the Undercity, several members of the hadereum (12 cultists and 2 initiates) had entered to rededicate a long abandoned temple of Hades in order to strengthen the presence of law amid the chaos below. Two weeks ago (a week before Margeaux returned) they went dark, and a guarded caravan of food and supplies sent to them disappeared.

The route from the Hadereum has been blocked, as something large (the bhole {super dire Rotworm} that came through the Ymid’s Bone Gate) collapsed part of the tunnels. Margeaux’s story suggests another route, and Karlow will be their guide.

Margeaux is accompanied by the ghost  dof her dead husband Claude, who really wishes their wedding vows had included “to death do we part”, and she talks to him, suggesting he keeps himself hidden with the Plutocrat present. (The Hadereum likes everyone to stay dead where they belong)

Claude spells out something in water drops from a glass nearby “Anything to get away from you!” Which is spotted by Thornstripe on a critical perception roll, allowing the mage to see the shimmering form of the spirit.

Sister Clarissa, having higher purpose: slay undead starts chanting an exorcism, which is interrupted by Remulos, who asks her to refrain from her non-pagan ways in his presence (Sister Clarissa is a Triunist, and comes from the Bishop of Sonne, who is currently paying Adventurers to fight wights in the abandoned Monastery).

They proceed to Ashbury’s Abattoir , meet the crew their, and find their way to the ladder well left unsecured when Margeaux’s group had lowered their dwarf sized iron golem down it. This caused grumbling from Karlow, who closed the hatch. Now on the second level, they ran into the terribly hungry and frightened young speaking Otyugh (IQ6) in a catchment room, trying to keep out a handful of horde zombies who fell to fireballs, thrown knives, halberd work, and True Faith. (The zeds had been released from impromptu burial chambers by evil cultists with the Brotherhood of the Dead perk).

Karlow grumbled some more, fed and locked it in its pen and the catchment room., And they determined that the local Sewer employee had been killed by a member of  Margeaux’s group…

They dove into a room that recently held dead to avoid a horde of plague zombies, and Jelani rolled a critical strength failure trying to push the door closed, and instead pushed something out…

Just the TiP


After this encounter, they entered the pool room, where Margeaux’s party met their demise, (along with a crowd of undead whose corpses were  the scattered about)  along with the reanimated remains of her party. The guild was paying them to recover their guild badges, so they collected all but Timeon’s. When confronted with the puzzle of lighting fires atop the pylons, the mage fireballed one, and critically failed another, stunning himself.

Lighting both pylons (in a very Legend of Zelda way) caused the fountain to spill gold coins into the mildly caustic water (the golem had rusted through in a week). Unfortunately, not lighting them simultaneously (which two people with torches could have done) released The Thing in the Pool, or as my players called it, “just the TiP”. It was a multi-tentacled elder thing that had a fear aura, and laid heavily into the party. We even used a bit of Gaming Ballistic’s Fantastic Dungeon Grappling when dealing with the TiP wrapping tentacles around Jelani before it could eat her.

After it was defeated, with both haste and great haste being cast, and both the gold and the golem’s orichalcum maul, which Sister Clarissa took despite lacking the requisite strength.

They exited the pool room into a nearby storage room where Timeon was holding out, using one ancient barrel of rations for food, and another for used foods, and he shot Marlo with his crossbow, and the tribe accepted him as a member, finding out while resting and healing that he had been unwilling to re-enter the pool room for fear of the Void Brute that Frer Noe had summoned to kill the previous party, and  because he broke his lockpicks on the outer door. Once some fatigue was recovered (including some from Lend Energy) they exited the anteroom by means of Karlow’s key, and ran into a horde of plague zombies


True faith and great haste again ruled the day, as they cleaved,  mauled, stabbed, shot, and fireballed their way through the fleeing horde, and ended up Fantastically Grappling a cultist who had been herding the dead.

The second cultist ran ahead and opened a door, releasing three New and Improved Wights.

Unlike my previous versions, which were unkillable with an Achilles heel of Silver or Magical Weapons, these had Injury Resistance (50%) to attack forms other than fire and silver or enchanted weapons. Skeletal undead take 2x from crushing weapons, which cancel out the injury resistance, allowing Sister Clarissa to pound the wights, which is good, because two out of three resisted true faith.  Jelani was closed with after missing a neck shot with her halberd, and was the first to suffer energy drain (FP) from the wights. Marlow made a head shot count, and Karlow stepped in, and was eventually overrun, losing enough FP to end up in a HP lowering Death spiral.

Weakened and afraid of Karlow turning, they took out the wights.

Soon after, they rescued the worshipers trapped in the Redoubt, and headed home.

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Astral Reavers and Void Mystics


One of my all time favorite sets of entries from the Fiend Folio was for the Githyanki and Githzerai. I received my copy in 1982, and was mesmerized by the amazing artwork of Russ Nicholson. A few years later, while in college, I won a costume contest for my Githyanki Cosplay. I had the double shoulder pads, the straps of embellished armor, a funky two handed sword and a pointy hatted, tasselled, mask I had cast out of latex. Alas, no pictures remain, the costume was destroyed and the mask stolen.

I had tried building them as a playable 3e race, but lost that manuscript and many others when my storage unit flooded out. I thought of them again when I found the Astral Reaver entry in Dwimmermount, and Of course, while looking through DF14:Psi. Now that book contains an entry for Chaos Monks, which have a little of Githzerai about them, but I find that while cool and definitely creepy, they lack the serene insanity of that group of escaped Elder Thing slaves.

These builds will follow character construction. I am afraid that I may have to write up both a 125 point base mentalist template, and a 125 point lens to go with it at some point, probably calling them Sensitive and Pychic; the Psychic lens would be the same as the 50 point Mentalist lens, with IQ +1 [20] Psi Talent +2 [20] and 85 points of further mentalist advantages, powers and skills. (Update: this already exists asthe 125pt lens Psi in DF15 )

The races of Gith are Jumpers, and contrary to what Things Psi Can’t Do, on page 7 of DF14, it is a psionic ability.  The power has a limited number of uses per day, about three, so the total cost is 80 points (Jumper, can trace +10%, limited usage -20%, Psi powered -10%)

Astral Reavers

These have the following traits: Jumper(as above)[80], Elder Talent 1[8] Intolerance[-10], bloodlust [-10], Chummy[-5] (because they are always found in groups).[63]

Base templates (from DF15 ) would be Skirmisher (with sword and weapon mastery) or Squire (without lance, and all riding and animal handling skills focused on Slorn) plus the 50 point Mentalist lens.

The Reavers have a variety of leader types,, some adding the 50 point Knight/Wizard lens, others with the full 125 point Adept lens. They also have unholy warriors (plus mentalist lens), and may have 50 to 75 points of mentalist abilities. Their upper echelon will have Veteran+Knight(with weapon master:Sword)+Psi.

They are believed to be ruled by a Lich (see Pyramid 3/72) + Priest+Adept+Psi.

The reavers usually wear heavy Lamellar armor, and all of their equipment is ornate. They tend to have quite a bit of magic, leaning toward armor enhancements and Silvered swords with Ghost Weapon.

Void Mystics

These are a little different, and not as inclined to be magical.

Their basic traits include Jumper[80] as above, Magic Resistance +5[15] and unfazeable[15], Will +1[5] vow of silence[-10] [105]

Their base template is the  Skirmisher (martial artist option) +Mentalist lens.

Their leaders are full Mentalists, +Monk lens, or Skirmisher +Mentalist lens + Martial Artist/Wizard Lens (with an upgrade to their magic resistance to enhanced magic resistance), or Veteran+Skirmisher+Mentalist or Psi.

Their leader is also a Lich, but built as a Mentalist +Adept+Monk+ Skeletal Undead.

Void Mystics use plain and simple equipment, and tend toward light armor, leather or thieves’ mail, and may have magical or silvered swords, but tend toward short swords, while the Astral Reavers are fond of two handed and bastard swords.  Void mystics get along with Void Brutes.



Gang Agley

The best laid plans of a GM are often befuddled by die rolls, player agency and the preponderance of spellcasters with Weirdness Magnet in the party.

Four of my juniors have it; Jareth Mooncalled, a weird sage (with a Clarence Montague, a torchbearer and Charlene LePoire, guardswoman. Yes, henchmen with henchmen. love me some DF15); Razakeel Shadowcloak, a goblin apprentice necromancer; Jocelyn Lemru, apprentice wizard;and Ludlow the Munificent, another apprentice wizard. A (normal) dungeon crawl became something more when affected by the reality warping influence of this crew.  Ostensibly, the gang consisting of Grimbo the goblin killer and jugger player, Mario Crowfoot the archer, Nodwin Zideqick the initiate of Vejovis and the leftover hirelings of a player who left,( Jocelyn Lemru, Brodak the orc brute, and Mellarill the psychotic elf archer), had stopped by for the guild with their License to excavate (bought from an endangered Acolyte of Hades who lost at gambling) to recruit a guide or spellcaster as backup.  I offered both Razakeel and Ludlow as respondents, and they accepted both.

The group was originally aimed at dealing with the social unrest created by tensions between goblin and orc jugger teams created by the goblin quick running off with an orcish cheerleader, but they ignored that hook, and ended up trying to use their license for the purpose intended; hunting members of the Saturnine cult which two other groups had already tangled.

Jocelyn and Mellaril had been part of a large expedition into a ruined and desecrated temple where cultists led by an infernal halfbreed summoned a demon of old, a succubus and squads of doomchildren.  The assorted cultists had spent time with the succubus, also sacrificing their little toes to her, which led to an unpleasant box of treasure, and the group had also fought a demon from between the stars, and sold off the demon’s chain to one of the juggers.  The main thing they were hunting, was a stolen puzzle cabinet that served as an oracular tool for the temple of Minerva in another country. The cultists actually had quite a bit of divination equipment, most of it spoiled, and all of it stashed in a mana free zone, in addition to killing the local oracle, a nymph dedicated to Eos.  As of yet, none of the players have bothered to ask what the cult might be trying to prevent the divination of…

Ludlow, meanwhile, had been making excessive uses of a piece of chaos magic, the spell Whimsy, something that had been a plot staple in Northport when I first ran the game back in 2002 over on Playbyweb. Back then, a 100pt mage had cast it during a proficiency run in the proving grounds, and accidentally teleported herself out of her designated play area into an admin corridor in another area being run through by a different group.  The spell was also the primary weapon in the arsenal of my character Greely, whose story I hope to publish at some point.

Most of the characters from that game on playbyweb found their way into being NPC’s in the current iteration of the game.  Ludlow’s group had faced cultists that reanimated the inhabitants of a tenement street after slitting their throats, and had doomchildren and lesser demons with them.  They had been in the middle of a summoning ritual that was supposed to convert a captive child with wild talent into a demonologist, and Ludlow tried to stop the ceremony, but blew the roll, creating a gate into the nether realms that sucked in the remaining cultists and collapsed the street, after the party rescued the talented child and escaped.


Desirous of some interaction with cultists, the new crew entered the back way that Ludlow had escaped through, although he hadn’t been too specific about what exactly he had done in relation to the street collapse.  Not all of his castings had had negative effects; some exploding alchemist’s fire was dealt with by the spell summoning a water infused being with water jet at will. (He was called HoseA). Once they did realize what he had done they felt a lot more uncomfortable about the spell being used, and about Ludlow in general.

After creeping through an opening in a wall created by the street collapse, they fought off some ghouls, and a Ghast, both of which were incidentally nerfing the ridiculous firepower of Mellarill and Mario by virtue of being unliving, the presence of four weirdness magnets began to affect the plot of my dungeon.  My ghouls all are jumpers, with the limitation that they can only leap to and from the Vale of Pnath into or out of piles of bones (at least three bones from different sources) and have been variously walled up near mass graves on the upper levels of Northport’s undercity. Ghasts as I run them (think ogre sized with bad smell and a stench attack, iron hooves, teeth and claws that remain after the body dissolves when killed) aren’t jumpers. I find myself agreeing with Needles of Swords & Stitchery about undead.

So in the next room they party found a recently activated gate.  Some fairly foolish experimentation lead to the discovery that the gate lead to the underworld of the dreamlands, in addition to noticing that both necromatic and standard mana levels were elevated near it.. Now remember Ludlow’s accidental  hellgate opening? Someone else showed an interest:

Ymid and Yr-go0001

Yep, a Ymid, from +JGarrison‘s adventure Clatterdelve over on Hereticwerks, along with another of James’ creations, the Yr-go and my earlier post on them.

I was completely ready for combat, had a nice selection of spells laid out for it (Acid jet, Frostbite, Sickness) and some cool gear laid out… and the very curious Ymid rolled a 15 for reaction, and let them hold his tablet while he investigated a magic item belonging to Jareth (Jareth incidentally has no magery, but may end up working toward a mentalist lens after this mess).  Secret rolls a plenty went down as three weirdness magnets looked at the thing,  with its glowing orange notes written in Dark one shorthand (Eldrich in Northport) hovering over it’s purple glass screen.  it is kind of a TL7+2 technomagical device, and the Ymid was kind enough to advise them not to press the red button, which would have discharged built up electrostatic energy from the device’s dynamic battery… damn good thing none of them had unluckiness or klutz.

As it was, they were lucky, activating a Windows 93 pipeworks screensaver, and accidentally opening an email from a Dark One minister of finance in need of a bit of help embezzling ingots of trade metal in exchange for some stable currency… Thankfully, I din’t roll for an accidental opening of some elder thing nudes. That would have led to a few failed Fright Checks… and probably someone hitting the red button.

They ended up having to allow Ludlow to demonstrate Whimsy (effectively teaching the spell to the Ymid… sure that is a safe idea), but I let the party vote on what he was attempting… and he got a box with a comb containing hair dye for men.  The Ymid asked for the hair product after Ludlow used it to dye his once white hair and beard (resulting in a change of avatar in my little pbp game) and then left them to continue investigating other Elder thing events.  It also left the dreamlands gate open.

Naturally, I have been scrambling through mythos wiki’s and illustrating friendly encounters for them (see this post) and plotting what sort of thing I would implement to depict the Tower of Koth. Naturally, the players intend to  destroy the gate and investigate other areas. Thankfully, I always have a backup plan for dealing with new areas of what’s under the streets of Northport.

Interloping antagonists and some reviews

Recently, I was asked on social media if I made use of Creatures of The Night, a GURPS product line of fairly disturbing horror creatures. I own the 3rd edition of the book, but rarely use it, as my current game line is 4e DF, and that particular volume is scaled more for modern Horror. I immediately responded to the questioner that I had made some heavy uses of a critter called the Interloper.  As one of my favorite things in D&D like games was the Mind Flayer, right along with the assorted races of Gith, the tentacle headed, intellect devouring playable race was right up my alley.  They weren’t genius level psionic villains intent on subjugating the world and darkening the sun, they were slightly oafish beasts compelled to consume the minds of sapient beings to avoid degenerating into imbeciles hellbent on breeding.  It makes for a much more angsty enemy. At some point I will re-stat them, and brand them as Elder Things and drop them in on my delvers.

Currently, the Jugger playing henchmen have been joined by a debased elder touched elf, along with another archer, a pair of weird mages and a necromancer. Definately, I am going to include some elder things. Nothing as fierce as a Mindwarper, but maybe a Ymid. Of course, the party of full strength delvers heading back into troll country are going to probably face some of the enemies of the trolls… the people of the pit.

This week I purchased a pdf of Pits & Perils, by Old House Rules. The artwork actually comes from medieval woodcuts, the font is typewriter and the feel is of a mid seventies gaming zine.  The game is wonderfully minimalist, almost like Searchers of the Unknown,except you do roll for an exceptional attribute – only one (unless your roll boxcars). The presentation is wonderfully evocative of the very beginings of this hobby, and a great bargain, as it is currently running for $4.99.

Pursuant to my current commissions, I also bought Blood & Treasure Compleat. John Stater, I must say is insanely prolific, with 27 issues of his mammoth zine, in depth reviews of old Dragon Magazines on his blog, and new micro game rules being released regularly, I must say he is probably one of the most prolific designers I know.

In any case, B&T reads like B/X as 3.0, with great little subclasses simply designed and an easy flow.  I like it, but as most of its art is open source, and while not bad, I can see where my work will be cut out for me. The book was made with love, and is worth it for those who recoiled at 4e, but like a little more complexity than most Whitebox Retroclones, or even Labrynth Lord Advanced Companion, which I happen to enjoy.

The People of the Pit

People of the Pit

People of the Pit

While working on the history of the Trollfolk of Northport, I had the good fortune to acquire Brave Halfling’s adaptation of the A.Merrit classic, The People of the Pit through an OSR Humble Bundle. It can also be found here. At about the same time, I picked up the Alternate Dungeons edition of pyramid . Which described Unknowable Things, very closely resembling the people of the pit. If you were to take that template and add ST+10, DR+1,  SM+2 and either of mentalist/wizard or mentalist/cleric lenses, and you have my people of the pit. The image above was presented as a carving in a stone table where my PC’s were feasting with the trolls, after completing their challenges. The carving depicts the valiant triumph of the people of the Eastern depths over the child stealing People of the Pit. This caused much consternation amongst the party, but isn’t that what elder things do?