Monday, April 29, 2024


Spent a big chunk of the weekend on the PS4 and just... trying to catch up on sleep. I'm still just tired way more frequently than I feel like I should be, and I desperately need to catch up on a bunch of things and start on some other things and to do that I have to have some energy. So I'm resting and trying to get myself back together, and that means that I'm not getting writing done. (It doesn't help that we've had a lot of real-life upheavals including people being sick.) Used to be I could just get moving and run on adrenaline, but that's not working right now; I think those reserves are exhausted. I think a few weeks of having a meltdown and stopping to recover would do me a lot of good, but somehow I still have to go to work at the same time. 

Also, how the Hell is it almost May? 

Anyway, I'm still here, I will get back to things, but May is usually the month when all my stuff goes right off the rails -- so if I don't update the blog or I drop off the Internet entirely, it's only to be expected. I'll pick back up when... well, when I pick back up, as it were. 

The one actual activity I undertook (aside from unloading the dishes and starting a new load) was to go see Abigail with some friends. It was fun, included everything I expected and then some, and generally made good on everything the trailer promised for it. I'd recommend it for anybody who enjoys horror movies, and vampire movies in particular. I wouldn't classify it as horror-comedy, but it does have some very funny moments.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Whuf and double-whuf...

So, Secondborn and Beautiful Wife are both sick but apparently recovering, and Monday night my right ankle decided that I wasn't experiencing enough pain in my life, so it lit up with... I don't even know. Sudden onset arthritis? So On Tuesday I took Secondborn to the doctor's office, limping painfully all the way, then came home and took some meds and napped for the afternoon... and woke up with my ankle feeling little twinges of soreness here and there, but basically fine. 

So, I mean, A) What the Hell? and B) Man, I hate getting older. 

Secondborn, meanwhile, got over his fever, and since we're right in the final run of school I went ahead and sent him back in on Thursday; he seems to have most of his energy, though his cough hasn't gone away. Beautiful Wife taught her classes (masked) because Thursday is her long day and we're at that point in the semester where she really can't afford to cancel. 

I got some things done at work (and had yet another exchange with support over our line-of-business application not doing what it's supposed to do) but at this point I'm ridiculously behind and I need to just... stop taking calls and keep working until I'm caught up, basically. Problem is that if I do that, I'm going to have another whole load of stuff to catch up on when I check back in. 

Since I don't seem to be sick, I'll probably go into the office today and get as much done as I can, but I'm here to tell you that this has been a long week.

Nothing new on Dark Armor today, obviously. I'll come back to the various writing projects when I can. Y'all have a good weekend, okay?

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Lithos Foundingstone: Supreme Ultimate Power

"What were you trying to do?" asked Hylos Windborne, drifting easily through the air. 

Lithos shook his head, frustrated. His master was better known by his nickname, Flyleaf, but the young goblin would never call him that. The elf's teaching was delightfully informal by dwarven standards, but calling him anything but "Master" felt like crossing the line into disrespect, and Lithos had nothing but respect for the elf who had taught him magic. 

Well, respect and just a tiny bit of jealousy. "What am I doing wrong, Master?" he asked. 

Master Windborne considered the elaborate design laid out on the stone in chalk and charcoal, the careful arrangement of candles within it, and the twin braziers just outside of it. "At a glance," he observed, "I'd say you're getting ahead of yourself. What is that delightfully visceral human expression? Biting off more than you can chew."

"I was trying to open a gate," Lithos admitted. 

"Why?" asked Master Windborne. "And why ask me to attend to this...?" He trailed off, leaving the word foolishness to hang unspoken in the air.

"So you could stop it if something went wrong," Lithos said, and then added more quietly, "and so that someone would believe me if it actually did work."

Master Windborne sighed. "You're still too eager. I know, I know, you don't have the centuries that an elf could devote to these studies. Still, at this point in your learning you should be practicing basic conjuration, not trying to summon things that could easily devour you. What would you have done if something had come through?"

"Asked it to make me stronger," Lithos said immediately, "but no less intelligent or learned."

"That's still a dangerous request," said Master Windborne thoughtfully. "You might have ended up as an intelligent and well-educated ape, for example. Difficult to cast spells without the power of speech."

"Um." Lithos looked away, abashed. "I just... I'm so different. And if I'm going to be different, I want to be leave-him-alone-he's-dangerous different, not let's-make-fun-of-the-goblin different. I wouldn't mind people staring at me so much if they were wary instead of contemptuous."

Master Windborne sighed and drifted down until he was floating cross-legged just above the stone of the shore. "I would like to tell you that I understand, but in truth I can only imagine. My experiences have been very different from yours. The best advice I can give you is to continue your study of wizardry, and not risk your future on dangerous shortcuts such as this. The respect you crave will come as you grow in skill, power, and reputation."

Lithos sighed back at him. "I know, Master... but I would also like to be larger, stronger, and harder to damage." 

"There are spells for those things as well," Master Windborne pointed out. "They will come to you faster the more you study and practice." He held up a hand, palm up, then turned his other palm up beside it. "I cannot command you in this, but... striking bargains for power with Outsiders is dangerous, and I firmly believe that by the time you are ready to do so you will no longer need to."

Lithos considered that for a long moment. "I still want to make myself better," he said.

"There are other ways," said Master Windborne. "Spells made permanent, magics powerful enough to transform one's essence. You excel at research; see what you can learn. But always, always make certain you know the price."

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Blogging Challenge: Childhood Songs

(This post is part of the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge. You can find links to other writers' answers over at Long and Short Reviews. I have not been following along as reliably this year as I did in previous years, but I'm still participating! Mostly.)

Prompt: Songs that confused me when I was a kid...

I don't remember being especially confused by songs I heard as a kid. I really don't...

But in the course of talking about this with a friend of mine I got reminded of a couple of childhood songs that... well... have kind of a different flavor from what I hear of kids' songs these days. I wasn't confused about them, but I think they might be a bit confusing to modern children just because the entire genre seems to have gone out of fashion. 

Case in point: 

Or how about this one?

Or there's, well...

Okay, this last one isn't strictly a children's song, but I'm throwing it in here anyway because apparently I'm in a mood:

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

D&D 3.5 Homebrew: The Bladebinder

The Bladebinder

Hit Die: d8


To qualify to become a bladebinder, the character must meet the following criteria:


Knowledge (Arcana) 8 ranks.

Must be capable of casting third level arcane spells.

Class Skills
The bladebinder's class skills are Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int) Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually), Ride (Dex), Speak Language (none), Spellcraft (Int), and Swim (Str).

Skill Points at Each Level
4 + Int modifier.

Class Features
The following are class features of the bladebinder prestige class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency
Bladebinders gain proficiency with one individual weapon of their choice, and with daggers. The chosen weapon and and up to two daggers must be bound to the bladebinder with a secret ritual that takes half an hour to complete and require 50 gp worth of components. The bound weapons may be mundane or magical. If the bladebinder wishes to change to a different set of bound weapons, she must repeat the ritual with the new weapons.

Arcane Blade
When using her bound weapons, the bladebinder calculates attack and damage bonuses based on her spellcasting ability score (Intelligence for wizards, Charisma for sorcerers and bards).

Improved Caster Level

At the first, third, and fifth levels of bladebinder, the character's effective Caster Level improves. This does not add additional spell levels, feats, or other features, so a wizard 9/bladebinder 2 would cast spells as an 11th level caster for purposes of saving throws, penetrating magic resistance, and level-based spell effects -- but would still only have access to the spells, feats, and familiar advancement available to a 9th level wizard. If the character had more than one original arcane caster class, they much choose which class to apply the advancement to. Once assigned, advancement cannot be shifted.

Bonus Spells

Bladebinders gain bonus spells at second and fourth level, as if from having a high ability score, as given on Table: The Bladebinder. A bonus spell can be added to any level of arcane spells the bladebinder already has the ability to cast.

If a character has more than one arcane spellcasting class, he must decide to which class he adds each bonus spell as it is gained. Once a bonus spell has been applied, it cannot be shifted.

Guardian Blades
Beginning at third level, the bladebinder may use their movement action to command their two bound daggers to fight alongside them, as if those weapons bore the Dancing enchantment. At the end of four rounds, the daggers return to their sheaths and may not be commanded to dance again for four rounds.

Arcane Strike
Upon achieving fifth level, the bladebinder may sacrifice one arcane spell per successful attack. For each level of the spell sacrificed, the attack does 1d6 additional damage.

The Bladebinder

Arcane Blade
+1 +1 
+2Guardian Blades
5 +5+3
Arcane Strike

Notes: This one is basically just me indulging my deep, strong love of gish builds. If taken at a relatively low level (say, Wizard 6/Bladebinder 1) then it give a full caster some ability to swing a blade effectively, and once they reach level 5 in bladebinder then continuing to advance as a spellcaster also improves the power of their arcane strike. The tradeoff here (as with any gish build) is that you give up spellcasting levels in order to be able to swing a blade, which means an overall weaker character than a full caster of the same level. This PrC could also be used for epic levels, where the arcane caster has maxed out spellcasting advancement and is looking to add some other options (and a pair of higher-level spell slots). This strikes me as particularly interesting for a bard, since it could potentially bring a higher-level bard back to being an effective melee combatant. I'd also like to run some numbers and see how this compares against the D&D 3.5 eldritch knight, but that's going to have to wait until I have more time and more brain.

Additional Note: This still isn't anything I'm looking to actually play with any of my current characters, though I think it would be fun under other circumstances.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Back at the house

Ye gods, I don't know whether I've talked about this or not -- I think actually not? -- but we've been staying with my Mother-in-Law for the last six or eight weeks.

We have just returned to our own home. MiL is now on her feet, cleared to drive herself around, and capable of tending to the two small dogs who live with her. We are returning home with laundry to clean and everything to put away: clothing, electronics, toys, books, medications, toiletries, D&D figures... all of it. So that's been most of the weekend: moving, and then unpacking, and then cleaning.

On the plus side, I have now had two full nights of essentially-uninterrupted sleep: nine hours worth Friday, and another nine Saturday night. Hopefully by the time this posts I'll have gotten a full night's sleep on Sunday as well. That's one of those things that's, y'know, really good for me but also just a shock to the system: my body doesn't know quite what to do with itself, and would really like to take a couple of weeks off to recover. 

All of that to say that I am tired on an existential level. 2024 has been One Damned Thing After Another, and I don't know how much more of this I can keep up with. I suggested to my work that I really needed a minion -- that was a few weeks back -- and they countered with the proposal that I try training one of my co-workers. This is a difficulty, because with the current run of issues I've needed to have her covering the Financials & Payroll systems so I could try to troubleshoot the stuff that ideally I should be training her on. Still, nobody could have predicted that, right? 

(Bullshit. I predicted it. But I digress.)

But, all right. Work can just keep on as best it can, and if we do get a chance to do some cross-training we'll take advantage of it. Unfortunately, that also means that I don't have two brain cells to rub together for writing or much of anything else this week. So tomorrow you'll get my next D&D 3.5 homebrew (also not intended to actually be used in the campaign). Wednesday will either be the blogging challenge or music, depending on the challenge question and also my brain. Thursday should be the notes from the most recent D&D session, and with any luck by Friday I'll have enough oomph to add the next bit of Dark Armor. I need to add more of A Wolf in the Mundus, but I need more brain than I currently have for that. 

So that's where I am, and that's what I'm looking at for the blog and other writings. I hope you, Gentle Reader, are doing well.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Dark Armor: The Stone Tower

The vision appeared in fragments and flickers, images called from the misty depth of the tall silver scrying mirror in the antechamber to the chapel. It was placed there so that the Black Knight could look over the field of battle before it went to join the fight; but, as with so much else, nobody had ever bothered to inform Pallian that he had access to that resource. 

I should have consulted with the elders earlier, he thought. I should have been talking to them, learning from, this whole time. Only... when I was first sent here all I wanted was to be left alone, and I assumed that was what they wanted too. He pushed the thought aside, kept his attention on the mirror.

It was... he caught a glimpse of a massive statue supporting a section of curved wall, there and gone again with nothing to establish any sense of scale; a shattered remnant of the city wall, partly melted and twisted up to flow into the smooth white wall behind it; a more distant image of a tower, flickering against a distant horizon; a half-dozen stone statues held in a great stone hand; ramps and balconies and parapets...

"Whatever it is, it's replaced the city," said the sturdy older woman, her expression blank with concentration. "It's using a huge amount of magic, enough to warp the shape of this plane. I doubt there's a House out there who isn't aware of it by now."

"How the hell are the rest of the Second not aware of it by now?" asked Pallian. "Has there been any activity at the Tomb of the First?" 

"Some," said Dakrin Eld. "Not what I would have expected. Perhaps the others are waiting to see what happens. It's been centuries since any of them have truly awoken, after all."

"We have to go back there," said the Shadow of Edrias, in that genderless, whispering voice. "We need to know what's going on."

"The carriage won't take us," Pallian said, frustrated. 

"The carriage won't," said Dakrin Eld cheerfully, "but perhaps the horses could be convinced."

Pallian turned his head slowly to look at the ancestor. I like the way you think, old man. "We'll try it."

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Terra Povos: Show us some spine

We are back in the shrine to Durest. Whisper is looking over the urns; there are two large ones, a medium one, and a small one. Whisper searches the medium urn for traps. He finds no traps; it appears to be filled with ale. 

James tries it. It’s old and yucky but appears to be safe to drink. 

Whisper moves on to the small urn. It has a foul-smelling liquid in it, and no apparent traps. Maybe very foul ale? The larger one has rancid, spoiled food; so does the other larger one. Amergin looks at the small, foul-smelling one and identifies it as a manufactured poison. 

Lithos detects magic. The chair has lost its magic, the weapons are gone, but the skull pile still has some kind of magic; the urns and the chest are not magical. Amergin claims the poison jar. 

Whisper prods the skull pile with the ten foot pole. “Eh! What’re ya doin’! Quit pokin’ me!”

Lithos: “Hey, those skulls are magical! I think it might be necromancy.”

We interrupt the skull’s nap, and it floats up out of the pile. “Hey! You’re interruptin’ my nap! Look, you don’t bother me, I don’t bother you.”

It burrows back down into the pile. “Leave me alone or I’ll suck out your souls.”

We give up on trying to talk to the skull. Whisper goes to check the chest, which is of course trapped. It’s a poison needle arrangement, but Whisper is hopped up on antitoxin and goes in to disarm the trap. He succeeds, and makes a point of breaking it; he then spends some time working on the chest. Inside are twenty acid flasks, which can be thrown to deal acid damage. We hand them out to everybody except Lithos. Baldy has the glass sword. We consider whether or not to dip the glass sword in the poison, but Amergin points out that it’s an ingestion poison. 

We start looking at the puzzle. Lithos positions himself in front of the mirror, looking at the reflection. He tries splashing the candles with acid but only dissolves them. We get some more candles and try again; Whisper takes the other clues, scoots Lithos aside, and then traces his away around the room following the clues. He ends up facing a wall with an illusionary center. He tries the ten foot pole, and clanks something. Finally he reaches in and finds a handle. He pulls it, and after a certain amount of clanking a secret door opens. He probes the floor with the pole, and blocks the door with the pole, and then checks the chest. It looks just like the chest in the cage. Whisper opens the chest and finds a +1 mace of undead bane and disruption.

Whisper takes the mace. 

Lithos: “So maybe the pick wasn’t the weapon.” After some discussion – none of us are particular strong or martial – we hand that off to Amergin.

We consider the chest in the cage. It appears to be identical to the one in the secret passage. We try lifting the cage, but it won’t budge for us. Amergin tries doing it backwards and finds another illusionary pocket. He pulls that lever, and the cage goes up. We pull another identical mace out, and pass it off to James. 

We offer the skull a chance to come with us; we can put him a very nice hat box. He’s… interested. His name is Snort. He opens the bottom of the Durest shrine for us, and a little drawer pops out; it has ten black onyx. He then ensconces himself in Lithos’ backpack. “All righ let’s go!” 

Lithos gathers up his scattered stuff, bags it, and hands the bag off to Whisper. We head back around through the broken door and down the narrow passage to the spot on the wall where it says “don’t keep going unless you have the weapon”. Scratched on the wall is a note that says “giving up freedom opens all doors.” Lithos: “You The Adventures of Lady Ariana in the Flesh Pits of Sol Povos? Giving up her freedom sure opened up all her doors.”

An Allip phases through the wall and Lithos spins around and throws acid at it – and actually hits. 

Amergin yanks Baldy out of the way and steps into his place. Amergin is still sickened from the vipers’ venom, so he isn’t at full strength. Whisper continues to the door and checks it for traps; he doesn’t find any, so he opens the door. 

There are some zombies inside.

Baldy fires off a magic missile at the Allip; James moves in and attacks the zombie but doesn’t hit it. Lithos fires off a Magic Missile at the Allip. It steps into the wall, provoking an attack of opportunity from Amergin, who misses. The Allip is now flailing at Lithos from inside the wall, but Amergin clocks it and it explodes. Whisper slips in the door and slices a zombie; another zombie wanders over. One tries to hit Whisper and succeeds. 

Another Allip appears and hits Lithos, draining four Wisdom from him. Amergin slips into the room and positions himself beside the Allip. Snort is giving helpful suggestions to Lithos: “Her! If you go down, I can drive you!” 

Lithos: “No! No! If I go down, you bring me back as an all-powerful djinn or something like that!”

Another zombie comes through a door, but that closes two other doors. Lithos fires off Magic missile and steps back; the Allip whacks him again. Amergin smashes the Allip, and it explodes. 

Whisper slashes the zombie again. James smashes zombie again, but hers doesn’t explode. Lithos throws acid at the zombie James is fighting. Amergin turns and mauls the same zombie. He whacks it, and it collapses. Whisper slashes his zombie again. 

A door opens and a zombie comes shuffling out. James turns and hits Whisper’s opponent (zombie). Archie fires off the Formorian crossbow at the zombie, tagging it with a magic missile. Lithos drops Mage Armor on himself (as he should have done before we marched in here). Amergin turns on the new arrival, smacks it, and does a big chunk of damage to it. It doesn’t explode, though. 

Whisper tries to attack, gets bumped at the wrong moment, and drops his knife. The zombie whacks him again. James smacks that zombie with her spiffy new mace, and damages him. Baldy fires off another magic missile and lithos follows with acid. Amergin swing, hits, and explodes the zombie. Whisper draws his kukri and slices the zombie; the zombie tries to slam Whisper but misses. James swings but misses. Archie shoots the zombie again, and lithos finishes ot off with acid. 

Amergin leads the way around to the open door; Whisper opens the closed door. That closes the door in front of Amergin. 

There are some stocks and a couple of piles of coins in the middle of the next room. There’s also a zombie around the corner. It comes over and attacks, but misses. James slips over and attacks; Baldy brings out his whip and tries to pull the zombie into the stocks. He misses. 

Another Allip comes out and hits James, draining some of his wisdom as well. Fortunately, he won’t miss it. Amergin moves back around and joins the rest of us. Whisper attempt to grab the zombie and wrestle him into the stocks. He fails. The zombie attempts to wrestle Whisper into the stocks. The frame falls closed and the lock clicks shut. 

All the doors open. Archie zaps Whisper with Cure Light Wounds.

James attacks the Allip, but misses.  Lithos throws acid at the Allip but misses. The Allip yanks down Whispers pants and the fazes back out through the wall. Amergin explodes the zombie, but another one comes over and starts caressing Whisper. James smacks the zombie before rigor mortis can set in. 

Baldy sees the dire straits that Whisper is in, and attacks the zombie with his rapier. “Behold my special attack,” cries Archibald. “FILLET!”

He hits, but fails to fillet. Lithos resists the call of the evil voice that seems to be coming from the Allip, and throws acid at the zombie. Amergin tries to smash the lock, and Whisper again tries to shake loose but fails. 

The zombie hits him with a powerful thrust. James hits the zombie, who does not explode. Archibald attacks with his rapier and the zombie keels over on top of Whisper. Lithos comes and tries to push the zombie loose… and knocks it right off. A zombie comes around the wall, and the Allip comes through the wall to attack Whisper. It drains some wisdom. 

Amergin whallops the Allip and it explodes. 

Whisper sheds a single, manly tear. The zombie pushes past Uncle Baldy and lines up behind a Whisper for a backstab. 

James attempts to open the lock, but doesn’t quite make it; Lithos is starting to wonder if James is under some sort of curse. Lithose throws more acid. Amergin explodes the zombie with his magic mace. 

Nothing is currently attacking us. We drop out of combat and Baldy heals Whisper, then does it again. We pause to collect the coins here: 220 gp, We move around and see massive zombies lying on the floor. Ogres? Probably. 

We settle back into an ambush, and Baldy shoots a magic missile at one of them. The ogre zombie wakes up as Archibald heads for the back of the crowd. As it comes around the corner, Lithos hits it with a Scorching Ray, then ducks back towards the hall. Whisper moves back into the hallway and readies a sling bullet. James lines up, and when it comes stomping through the stocks he swings and hits, doing some damage. It attacks with a giant greatclub, hitting James solidly – but James doesn’t quite go down. 

Amergin swings, hits, and fails to make the thing explode. He does some damage. James attacks and does some damage Baldy moves up and does Cure Light Wounds on James with his wand. Lithos moves back up and throws some acid. Amergin hits the ogre zombie and it explodes. 

Uncle Baldy slides up to the next ogre and shoots it, then retreats rapidly. We wait as the thing lumbers towards us, and Baldy takes another shot. It comes around corner, and Amergin hits hit, James misses, and Lithos blasts it with his remaining Scorching Ray; it clobbers Lithos and he goes down, but doesn’t actually die. James and Amergin swing again and miss as Baldy pulls Lithos away from the thing. Archibald cures him back to mobility, and Lithos crawls over and throws acid. Amergin hits him, doing a fair amount of damage. James hits him too, just not as hard. 

The ogre zombie hits Amergin, who goes down. Baldy moves up to heal Amergin, getting him back to consciousness. Lithos throws more acid; Amergin, still prone, attacks again; James smacks him and takes him down. James: “Finally.” He falls over backwards. 

Archie heals us back up. 

We proceed to the ogre room and check out the treasure there. The chest has no apparent traps; Whisper moves on to the bag and finds no traps; ditto the pile of coinage. He opens the chest and finds a bas relief on the inside of the lid; it shows a dwarf riding in the ribcage of a giant skeleton. It’s full of lollipops. Each takes one minute to eat, but heals one hit point; there are 1,000 of them in the chest. 

10,730 Gp, one wand of cure light wounds, and two vials of silversheen. With everything else, we have a total of 15,852 GP -- enough to resurrect Pythia and improve our equipment.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

D&D 3.5 homebrew: Winged Hunter

Winged Hunter
Hit Die: d8

To qualify to become a winged hunter, the character must meet the following criteria:


Character must be at least level six.

Must have researched and performed a special ritual, or received the blessing of a deity.

Class Skills

The winged hunter's class skills are Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int) Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually), Ride (Dex), Speak Language (none), Spellcraft (Int), Spot (Wis), Survival (Wis), and Swim (Str).

Skill Points at Each Level
4 + Int modifier.

Class Features
The following are class features of the winged hunter prestige class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency
Winger hunters gain no additional proficiency with weapons, armor, or shields. A winged hunter cannot fly while wearing medium or heavy armor, and most standard armor will not fit them.

Divine Wings
Upon taking their first level of winged hunter, the character grows a pair of wings. If the character already has wings, then their wings are transformed into something stronger and sharper. The winged hunter will use their original flying speed or the speed indicated on Table: Winged Hunter, whichever is greater. Maneuverability becomes perfect. The appearance of the wings varies from one winged hunter to another.

Airborne Adaptation
The winged hunter also becomes uniquely suited to hunting in the sky. She gains a bonus to spot checks equal to twice her winged hunter level while airborne, always knows which way is north, and is aware of her exact altitude at all times. (While underground, that sense of altitude will still provide vague data, e.g. "just below the surface", "pretty far down", "deep in the earth".)

Bladed Wings
At second level, the winged hunter learns to use the cutting edges of her wings and gains the multi-attack feat while using them. (If using a regular weapon in addition, one wing can be used to make off-hand attacks as if it were a light weapon.) Wings are considered natural weapons, have the finesse quality, and deal 2d6 base damage. Because they can also function as shields, bladed wings add a +4 shield bonus to AC.

Flyby Attack
At third level the winged hunter gains the flyby attack feat, allowing her to make a single attack with a wing as she flies past an opponent. Base damage for flyby attacks is 2d6 plus an additional 2d6 for every 30' of flying speed -- though the winged hunter must have room to complete the full movement distance in order to achieve full speed. (A winged hunter who only has room to travel 90' in a straight line will only do 8d6 damage even if their flying speed is more than 90'. This reflects their inability to get up to full speed in enclosed areas.) The winged hunter loses the +4 shield bonus from her wings on any round that she makes a flyby attack.

Puissant Edges
Beginning at fourth level, the winged hunter's wings are treated as magical, adamantine weapons for purposes of penetrating damage reduction.

One With The Sky
Upon achieving fifth level, the winged hunter gains the ability to cast Teleport once per day and Dimension Door three times per day while airborne. This is a spell-like ability which uses the overall character level to determine caster level.

The Winged Hunter

SpecialFlying Speed
1+1+1+1;+1Divine Wings, Airborne Adaptation
+1+1+1Bladed Wings
3+3+2+2+2Flyby Attack
4+4+2+2+2Puissant Edges
+3One With The Sky

Notes: This class was intended to add mobility, melee options, and a fairly devastating attack that required a certain amount of open space to use. It was designed with Ranger in mind for the base class, but could also be added to Barbarian, Monk, or even Bard fairly easily. The inability to use medium or heavy armor limits its usefulness for Fighter or Paladin, but there are still possibilities there. A full caster could add this PrC to create a unique sort of gish build, gaining some melee attacks and extra defense at the cost of spellcasting advancement. 

Additional note: This is not intended for use in the Terra Povos campaign; this is just me playing with character class designs for my own amusement.

Monday, April 15, 2024

The Lost Girl, part twenty-three

Breakfast the following morning was a stiff, elegant, and very formal affair. Tammy and Maggie were seated opposite Peter and Antoinette, with Agatha opposite Elyssa and Morri beside her, opposite Chris: an arrangement that put Chris at precisely the opposite corner of the table from Tammy. 

For her part, Tammy had glanced at him once as they entered the elegant dining room with its long, ornate mahogany table and matching chairs, and ignored him afterwards. He wasn't immediately sure if the seating arrangement was her idea, or whether Amelie Hargrave -- sitting comfortably at the head of the table -- had made the arrangements. It didn't really matter; he'd obviously managed to make himself unwelcome. 

I shouldn't have asked for her card, he realized. It would have been a very forward thing to say even if he'd been mage; for an outsider to make the request was probably scandalous -- the sort of thing that could get him into real trouble with House Hargrave and the Ministry both. 

"You look thoughtful," Morri said. 

"Just hoping I didn't screw up too badly," he replied. "This issue with time flowing at different rates... does that come up often?"

Morri half-nodded in a yes-and-no gesture. "It does, but usually not this much. Usually it's a small enough difference that it's easy to ignore."

"That particular place has always been like that," Agatha said. "My people -- my former people -- use it when they want to get away from something." She paused, looking thoughtful. "They visit anyway sometimes, but they've definitely made it a point to go there when they wanted more time away from some place they'd just visited."

"Huh," said Morri, and then sat back. "Do you think--"

She cut off as a small chime sounded, and a side door opened to admit a trio of liveried servants -- two men and a woman, all slender and good-looking, and all carrying plates laden with food. "Crepes with a spicy creme sauce, maple bacon, and melon balls," announced the woman in front. 

They began with Amelie Hargrave, then moved down the table to serve the magi. Then, after a brief return to the kitchen, they served the outsiders as well. Enforcing the social order, Chris thought to himself and shoved his anger down. He didn't need Amelie Hargrave to remind him of his place here; he only needed her to see that he accepted it. What made it difficult was seeing that they treated Agatha the same way; for this morning, at least, she was lumped in with the outsiders rather than the family. 

He waited until Amelie Hargrave had taken a bite, chewed, and swallowed; then, following Antoinette's example, he dug in. The food was good, at least, though he suspected that he was missing some details that the Hargraves would have considered very important. Then again, that was true of his impressions of the furnishings and decorations here in the dining room as well: he could see that they were expensive and tasteful, but he couldn't have identified a specific style for any of it.

They ate and made carefully casual conversation, and Chris did his best to be unobtrusive and inoffensive; he'd crossed enough lines on this assignment already. He kept his attention at his end of the table, talking quietly with Morri, Agatha, and Elyssa while the magi spoke with each other on the other end of the table. 

When the meal was finished, lady Amelie rose from her seat and raised her glass. "A toast," she said, "to the Ministry, its representatives here, and the help you've given us." 

Peter nodded to Antoinette and raised his glass. "To our gracious hostess, for her hospitality and understanding."

They drank, and as far as Chris was concerned that marked the end of the meal. Peter lingered behind to exchange a few last words with the lady Hargrave, while the rest of them went back to their rooms to grab their packs. When they met back in the foyer, lady Hargrave was gone -- as were her daughter, Tammy Carterhaugh, and the shadow-walker Agatha. 

It was Jacques who led them out the door and conducted them to their rented van. Chris had no idea what the man's place in the household was, but evidently he acted with his mistress' full authority. 

Chris didn't care. He climbed in, still thinking back over the assignment and picking apart the details in his mind. There were so many things he could have handled better... Not fighting with Morri, or at least doing a better job of warning Antoinette first... Not asking Tammy for her card... showing proper deference to Amelie Hargrave... 

He started to sit, and realized that there was something in the side pocket of his pants. He reached into his pocket, touched it, and felt the faintest hint of chill through a slender wooden case. There was a card in there, one of the Arcana. It had to be Tammy's, and Agatha must have slipped it into his pocket during breakfast. 

He didn't know whether to be pleased or terrified. He should never have offered to give the girl answers about her cousin, and he'd have to be very careful about how he contacted her. They could both wind up in a very great deal of trouble over this. Still... it was almost a relief. It felt like he'd been granted a chance to pay off a debt. 

"Chris?" asked Elyssa, studying his face. 

"Tell you later," he said.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Dark Armor: Return to the Crypt

So, I tried a scene out the week before last and it didn't work. We're deleting that one and going another direction. Such are the perils of storytelling.

"Ah, there you are, Boy," said Dakrin Eld as Pallian clumped his way into transport room. "I sent the others on ahead." 

The Black Knight nodded. The guards had not yet returned to their posts here, but it was only a matter of small time, and the fewer people who saw the Elders -- let alone Ember and Ashmiren -- the better. If word of their presence got back to Amedin, it would be a disaster. 

"Come," said the elder, and Pallian walked with him to one of the circles. There was that brief moment of darkness, and then they were back in the crypt. This time, Pallian had not the smallest urge to discover what might happen if he moved during that brief moment of darkness. 

A moment later he was back in the antechamber to the crypt, the Black Knight's carriage still sitting where it had arrived. Ember looked up, and the ghostly ancestor beside it said, "You see? He returns intact."

Most of the elders he'd seen earlier were still here, though their presence was louder and cheerier than before: they knew how the battle had gone. Tybben was engaged in conversation with the Shadow of Edrias, but turned and made his way over immediately. "Forgive me, Lord," the hairless, dog-headed man said."I was just speaking to your mercenary." 

Pallian glanced at Ashmiren, though fortunately the armor hid his expression. He would have liked to rest -- he would have liked to give all of them a chance to rest -- but whatever Amedin thought about it he couldn't risk hiding here while his father and brother might still be standing to battle. If his father survived and learned that Pallian had stood aside -- for any reason -- the wizard-king would have him executed. 

So Pallian ignored Tybben and turned to Dakrin Eld, instead. "Any word of the wizard-king and the heir? Or the royalty of Edrias?"

Ashmiren arrived at his side, Ember a half-step behind her. 

"No, Champion," said another of the elders. This one had been a woman in life, sturdy and determined, and it was only the chill grey of her skin and the faint shimmer of mist around her that betrayed her current condition. "Several of us attempted to scry, but... something has happened to the city of Marinul, and we cannot see past it." 

"Doesn't help that this place limits our reach," muttered a short, wizened man beside her. "I swear the Crypt was built to serve as a prison as much as preservation."

Pallian frowned. "What can't you see past?" he asked, before Ashmiren could.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Terra Povos: Vampire Spawn

We’re looking at the room with the shrine of Durest in it. It’s… very full. We decide to go back down and try the side-passages with the skeletons in it. Lithos drops Protection from Arrows on James, who will use his flail. He slides through the door, prepares to fight defensively, and starts singing Jensenian poetry. Whisper opens the door and attempts to hide behind it. 

Lithos drops Mage Armor on himself; the skeletons advance on James but can’t hit him. Amergin tries to tickle a skeleton’s ribs with his spear, but misses. Lithos throws acid and damages one. Baldy fires off a magic missile from the Fomorian weapon at the same skeleton, and it’s nearly dead. Arrows come streaking towards arrows but also fail to connect. 

James swings his flail but misses. Lithos throws more acid and finishes off the first skeleton. Archibald fire off another magic missile. A skeleton tries to spear James, but he’s so bad that James breaks it. James swing his flail again, and takes it out. Lithos throws more acid. Baldy fires off another missile and takes out a skeleton, James attacks the last spear-skeleton and Lithos finishes it off. 

The skeletal archers shoot at James but all miss. James charges the archers. She smacks the first one and wipes it out. Lithos acids the next skeletal archer. James mauls it back out of existence, and Lithos puts acid on the next one. James finishes that one. We continue, and the last skeleton falls. 

Scrawled on the wall on his right is Do not proceed without the weapon. Whisper points out that we should take on the room with the ghasts. We slide up to it, and James waits for Whisper to check the door. He finds no traps, but it is locked. He pops the lock. Amergin casts Guidance on James. 

James charges in and attacks a skeleton, right in front of the altar of Durest. Amergin moves in and hits the ghast with the cure light wounds wand; the holy energy burns it rather badly. The second ghast moves up to attack Amergin. One misses; the other bites him. He is not paralyzed, but he is injured. Lithos moves up and throws acid; Baldy fires a magic missile, and we’re doing our best to take out ghasts. The skeleton tries to attack, and James swings but fails to hit him. Skeletons shoot at Amergin, and one hits. James steps around and flanks a ghast, then whacks it. 

Whisper slings a stone at the skeleton in the corner. Amergin chooses this moment to withdraw, heading out into the corridor and past Lithos. A ghast follows. James swings at it but misses. It only gets as far as the doorway, and attacks Lithos. It misses. 

The skeletons shoot at James; one of the skeletons’ bows snaps and takes its head off; it collapses. Lithos withdraws, leaving Archibald between him and the ghasts. Archibald tags the front ghast with CLW wand, doing minimal damage. James is on archer-smashing duty, though that... really wasn't the plan. He smashes one and moves to the next skeleton. Amergin heals himself a bit, and Whisper gets ready to close the door once a ghast passes through the door. The other ghast turns back, and Sherry Moon Zombie hits him as he goes past; it’s the first damage that ghast has taken. Archie jabs the ghast again; it’s not quite dead yet. Sherry goes to attack the second ghast and trips, it bites her for a bunch of damage. The archer next to James smacks it, then steps over and smacks the next one and takes it out. He is an archer-removing machine. 

Whisper tries to stab the ghast but misses; Amergin hits it with the wand. The ghast bites Archibald, damaging and paralyzing him. The second ghast turns around and rips Sherry Moon apart. Lithos moves up a bit, but can’t get an angle to attack. 

The lone remaining archer shoots an arrow at James; James charges him across the rug in the middle of the room. The rug collapses, and she rolls down the stairs into a room full of snakes. “Ahhh!” thump-thump-thump “At least it’s not ants.”

Whisper steps over Baldy and slashes the ghast, which is barely still on its feet. Amergin tags the ghast with the wand, and it falls back, burning. The second ghast walks over and looks down at the stairs; then it turns to the doorway and licks it lips. 

The snakes are surprised by the sudden arrival of a halfling. There are three large vipers down here, which is… not good. The skeleton moves to the edge of the stairs and fires down, but misses. James comes to his feet and moves up onto the staircase so that hopefully there’s a chokepoint; Whisper comes up behind the ghast but misses. 

Amergin moves in and zaps the ghast with his wand, doing pretty decent damage. The ghast tries to bite him, and crunches down hard. Amergin is badly damaged but not paralyzed. Lithos walks across Baldy and through the doorway, then throws acid at the ghast, which hisses at him. 

The snakes starts slithering up the stairs; one tries to bite James but misses. James attempts to tumble up and past the skeleton, and gets past it; the ghast and the snake both miss her. She swings at the skeleton. She hits it in the arm – very humerus – and it collapses. Whisper slips his blade around using Sleight of Hand, and then slashes him. He hisses. Amergin heals himself a bit. The ghast attacks Amergin but misses; Lithos splats it with acid; and Archibald finally stands up and fires off a magic missile. 

Snakes begin crawling out of the hole. One of them attacks Amergin and hits. He is just barely on his feet, and that only because dwarves are really hard to poison. James swings at a snake with his flail but misses. Whisper tries to deceive the ghast but fails this time. He slashes the thing anyway. Amergin takes a step back and then casts his last Entangle, trying to trap our enemies; what actually happens is that it pins Whisper. The ghast moves up on Amergin. Lithos and Archibald use their magic attack on it, but it’s still up – barely. The snake attacks Amergin again; he goes down, hard, badly poisoned. Two snakes attack James, and one actually hits. He manages not to be poisoned. 

Lithos: “I knew you were a better dwarf than I am.”

Whisper slices but misses; the ghast attacks him, paralyzing him. Lithos finishes the ghast with acid. 

Archibald heals Amergin up to two points, but he’s so badly poisoned that he doesn’t have much health. 

A snake bites Lithos, but fails to poison him. Amergin heals himself with the wand. Lithos steps back from the snake and casts Invisibility on himself. Archibald puts a snake to sleep, and James smacks another one. Lithos stays hidden; Archie uses another Magic Missile on a snake; and James finishes a snake. Lithos starts throwing acid, and Archie fires another magic missile. James crits on the dazzled snake and takes it out. 

We finish off the sleeping snake. 

Next up: we look behind the partial wall on the east side; there’s a cage with a candelabra on one side and a mirror on the other. Downstairs there’s a portcullis with a crank next to it; there’s a sign on the wall that says, “do not open.” 

The torture chair has a sign on it: “Durest will bless one weapon with magic if a friend will sacrifice their blood.” We consider who most needs the help, and grab a light pick from the rack; the other weapons disappear. James sits in the chair and we put the light pick in front of the altar; Lithos pulls the lever for him. James takes some damage, but now has a spiffy magic light pick +1. Amergin heals her. 

The blood has gone through the floors to the coffin on the lower level. 

There is something inside the coffin, and it’s knocking. James’ blood is flowing down some tubes into the coffin. 

We… might be about to fight a vampire. 

James starts picking up treasure: 600 GP worth of platinum. 

Gas comes out of the coffin and starts flowing towards us. Amergin tags it with a CLW wand. Whisper grabs a handful of silver pieces off the floor and slips off a sock. He’s just assembled himself a custom silver club. Lithos throws some acid, but misses. James attacks with a magical pick.

The vampire tries to mesmerize Amergin but misses. Amergin zaps him with the wand again. Whisper comes up behind him and swings… and misses. Baldy zaps it with magic missile; Lithos tags it with acid. It looks at James and dominates him. He drops the pick. 

Amergin tags him with the wand, doing a bit more damage. Whisper attacks him with the sock of silver. Baldy tags him with magic missile. James attacks Whisper with the flail and very nearly takes him out. The vampire attacks Whisper but misses. Amergin tags him with the wand again. Whisper swings but misses; Baldy and Lithos do their things. James attacks Whisper again and loses his flail. The vampire spawn heaves a profound sigh of disappointment. James: “That’s how they feel about me, too.”

Whisper is now dominated as well. Amergin tags the vampire again; Lithos leaps down the stairs, yelling about stakes and beheading and such. James stakes him, and Whisper beheads him and stuffs silver coins in the mouth to finish it off. We add 90 more gp worth of silver and gold, plus two black onyx. 

We check treasure. There’s 300 GP, a sword made out of glass, a genie-looking lamp. The lamp appears to be a potion of cure moderate wounds. The glass sword is a single-use sword; there’s nothing magic in the chest. Whisper checks over the chest and finds a poison needle trap. 

We decide not to open it yet, and retreat to heal up and rest. 

We come back and investigate the coffin; there’s a bottom half of a scroll, probably companion to an earlier one. OOC, we pause there. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Terra Povos: A Minor Mistake

Lithos settled back into his corner of the captain's quarters on the newly-rededicated Pinnace McPinnaceFace, leaning back as Whisper scribbled furiously on his slate. Across from him, James yawned casually... but he was watching Whisper, too. Their brother's expression was exactly the sort of intent that indicated that if they tried to go to sleep right now, he was just going to wake them up again. 

He turned the slate so they could see it. What were you thinking??? it said. 

"Um," answered Lithos. "We were thinking that James needed a magic pickaxe?" 

"The wall said not to go past there without the weapon," James added. "So we got the weapon!"

Whisper's face screwed up into his wide-eyed, lips-clenched, I-am-frustrated-with-you-in-particular expression. He wiped the slate and wrote, And you didn't think anything would happen? HERE? In Durest's Deathtrap Dungeon?

The two siblings exchanged a glance. "Well, we thought we'd get an enchanted pickaxe," James pointed out, "and we did."

More wiping. More writing. Two words: 


"Well, yes, that wasn't my favorite thing," Lithos admitted. "Especially since it wouldn't turn me into a vampire." Not that he especially wanted to be a vampire, as such. But it would be nice to be stronger, tougher, and harder to kill. Maybe he could find a dragon who could turn him into another dragon? No, dragons didn't work that way. Too bad. Lycanthropy would make him tougher... maybe he could...?

Whisper grunted at him, pointedly, and tapped the slate. 

Check for traps first.
Everything else second.

"Oh," said Lithos. "Oh, right, sure. We'll be very careful and strategic from here on out, Brother."

"We will?" asked James, sounding dubious.

"We will," Lithos affirmed, nodding earnestly at Whisper. He really hoped this conversation was over now; he had a spell to copy, and then he needed to rest. 

Whisper rolled his eyes but left them alone, and Lithos promptly forgot all about it as he pulled out his new scroll and focused on its content. It was written with Eldraster's method of annotation, which meant that that the corner-markers indicated the gestures to make with the associated words, and he was going to have to focus if he was going to convert that over to the Harbinmoor method that he used for his own work...

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Music: People Like Us

So, I'm still very much in a recuperation phase, and trying to take things as easily as possible. I was going to continue A Wolf In The Mundus -- and I will, later, when I have time and energy -- but for this morning I'm going to do something I haven't done here in a while: I'm going to put up some music.

Matt Bomer: 

Monday, April 8, 2024

System Purge

So after yet another round of Wait-How-Long-Have-I-Been-This-Burnt-Out? culminating in a serious case Overdoing-It-At-The-Worst-Possible-Moment, I'm back trying to get myself in order. I spent last week being a fountain of mucus with a low-level cough that got progressively worse, until I finally went went to see the doctor on Friday morning for what felt like it might be a case of swimmer's ear or a straight-up ear infection. 

This was sort-of mostly almost correct. Diagnosis: negative for plague (though it's possible that there was some sort of milder Head Crud that kicked this off), positive for a massive sinus infection that was generating all that mucus (and thus causing the cough) which was now trying to push its way in to take over my middle ear (ears, really, but the left side was very definitely worse). 

Dr. B prescribed some antibiotics and a pack of anti-inflammatories and told me to keep taking Mucinex. (I'd tried both Nyquil and Theraflu, but they both dried things out -- less mucus flowing out of me, sure, and they did help me sleep, but I think that was actually making the infection itself worse.) I'm writing this on Sunday morning, and the difference is absolutely night and day: I'm still a little stuffy, but the cough is mostly gone, I've been able to sleep without feeling like I was drowning or waking myself up to cough/swallow every few minutes, and most importantly I'm starting to have some energy again. 

...Which leaves me feeling like I should be waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I'm doing my best to ignore that. Pretty sure it's not a rational assessment, just my body being unprepared to feel well after feeling that crappy for that long. 

Anyway, Spring is in the air -- actually that's mostly oak pollen, but I'm doing my best to ignore that too -- and it's time to be extra-nice to my health. (At this point, I don't think my body is going to give me a whole lot of choice.) What I'd really like is some clean living and violent exercise, but I don't frankly think I'm up to violent exercise yet (despite the dreams I was having last night) so it'll be clean living and gentle exercise for the next little bit. Also slow exposure to daylight, so that when I do have spend a bunch of time in the sun my body isn't completely unprepared for it. 

And sleep. Body wants lots and lots of sleep, the really deep kind with the good rapid eye movements. Which, y'know, I can do that. I used to be pretty good at it. Clearly I should try doing it more often. 

Meanwhile, by the time this goes up we'll be heading into the eclipse. I feel like that ought to give me vast supernatural powers, or mark the end of the world, or both... but it probably won't. I'm trying not to set my expectations too high here. 

Right, well, one more cup of tea and then back to it. Onwards and upwards! Nothing but good times ahead.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Terra Povos: Saving Myself for Magic

Lithos Foundingstone watched as his brother Archibald's head swiveled to track the attractive young dwarf as she passed in front of them. Archibald was human, but he didn't seem even the least bothered that the young woman's shoulders were broader than his own. Nor did the young woman seem bothered by his attention; even without the ability to grow a proper beard (and the consequent nickname of Uncle Baldy), Archibald was charming. 

And they were dwarves now -- dwarven citizens, anyway. In theory they could court and marry other dwarves. That might even work for Archibald, but Lithos knew that it would never work out like that for him. For all that he'd been raised as a dwarf and accepted as a dwarven citizen, he'd been born a goblin and that was what most dwarves saw when they looked at him. So, to fend off any attempts at matchmaking and other, equally awkward discussions, Lithos had one day announced that he was "saving himself for magic" -- as if chastity were any sort of prerequisite for wizardry, as if wizards never fell in love or married. It was just a way to avoid talking about it...

...Or at least he'd meant for it to be a way to avoid talking about it. Everybody, including his siblings, had been so charmed by the announcement that even the ones who knew better (or had known better at one point) had gotten caught up in it. On the one hand, it was kind of embarrassing: Lithos didn't really enjoy being looked at as the cute wee goblin who didn't understand how all this worked. 

 (It wasn't like he didn't have his own copies of Ariana Virtue's The Misadventures of Lady Willing in the Lands of the Heathens or the even more scandalous The Adventures of Lady Ariana in the Vice Dens of Sol Povos, author ostensibly unknown. It certainly wasn't as if he hadn't read both volumes repeatedly, and committed certain sections to memory.) 

On the other hand, it was still a convenient fiction now and then... and every once in a while it was hilarious.

So, "Did you need to talk to her?" he asked Archibald, doing his best to look wide-eyed and innocent.

"I, ah-- well, it's more a possible opportunity than an actual need." Archibald looked slightly pained; they were supposed to be on their way to the market to renew the Shattered Golem's supply of eggs, which formed the basis of many regional dishes throughout Silvergard. 

The young woman glanced back at Archie, and he offered her a smile which she returned.

And they think I don't know anything about it... Lithos kept his face smooth and managed not to giggle as he hesitated, dangling his older brother along for one full breath. Then: "I can place the order; I'm sure old Ironbender would loan me his dog-cart to get everything back safely."

"Would you?" asked Archibald. "I'll... I'll try not to take too long."

"It's fine," Lithos told him, still looking as innocent as he could possibly manage. "Take all the time you need."

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Terra Povos: Some trickery, but mostly undead

We are standing in an L-shaped hallway. There is an armoire sitting at the bend of the hall; there is a doorway on the right slightly before it. We use the ten foot pole to check the floor. It sounds like there are three creatures crammed into the armoire. Amergin uses Produce Flame to aet the armoire on fire, and the doors flip open; a rectilinear zombie with three heads sits there and burns until it collapses. As they finish burning, each has black onyx for eyes; we grab all six. 

We turn to the nearer door; Whisper checks it over for traps. The door is unlocked. Amergin opens it, and we behold a small graveyard with a small room back in the right corner, behind another closed door. Amergin uses Detect Magic and detects some from the small locked room. 

We carefully enter the room, with Amergin scouting; nothing bas happens. One of the headstones says, “Indra – fuck that guy,” Another says, “Vecna, what a bitch.” The coffin on the left says, “madness and wisdom” while the one on the right says pain and treasure. That one rattles when James pokes it. He thinks there’s more than one thing in there. 

Whisper defaces the tombstone insulting Vecna, There’s also a note that says “Stand before thy reflection to begin" on one of the other tombstones.

Whisper opens the Pain & Treasure coffin, and four kobold zombies pop out. James goes after them with the pick, hits one, and does a little damage. They appear to be annoying little sacks of hit points. Whisper withdraws and gets his crossbow out. He takes a shot, though the kobolds have cover from the gravestones. He misses. 

They swarm around James, and he swings at one but misses; they attack him and miss. Lithos realizes that we’re in combat and starts throwing acid splash; he actually hits. James swings again and misses. Baldy moves up behind a gravestone and attacks with his rapier, flanking with James. Whisper reloads and fires again, missing. Amergin also sees an expensive-looking blue gemstone in the coffin. Lithos throws another acid splash for a teeny bit more damage. 

James swings, misses. Baldy attacks with his rapier: “Have at thee, stort-stuff!” and misses by a country mile. Whisper reloads and fires off another shot. They flail at James again and miss. Lithos throws more acid; he’s not doing much damage, but he is at least connecting. James swings at the wounded one but misses. Archibald: “Will you hold still, you scaly little son of a bitch!" Whisper fires again, misses. 

The zombie between James and Baldy tries to rear back, and just…stabs itself on Baldy’s rapier and kills (well, destroys) itself. Lithos throws more acid. James swings and misses. Archibald swings around and stabs another kobold zombie. Whisper fires off another crossbow bolt. One of the zombies trips. Amergin stabs one with a spear. Lithos throws more acid. 

Baldy: “I’ve done it once, I can do it again!” He stabs another zombie. Whisper puts a crossbow bolt in the back of one’s head. 

Lithos continues throwing acid; he’s melting them a bit at a time. Archibald finishes a zombie: “I am unstoppable!” 

Whisper hits with a crossbow bolt. The fallen zombie stands up, takes a stab from Baldy on the way, and swings at James but misses. Lithos throws more acid, hits again. There is one zombie left. James swings and hits, doing a bit of damage. Baldy and James shift to flank the zombie, but Baldy misses. Whisper fires off another bolt, Amergin hits the thing, and Lithos finishes it with acid. 

James looks at the sapphire and James adds it to out treasure. It's 1500 gp worth of Sapphire. Amergin uses his spear to pop open the Madness  & Wisdom coffin; a shadowy figure flows up out of the coffin. It’s some sort of phantom creature made of pain and darkness; it alternates between screaming and laughing. It also alternates between being material and immaterial.

Lithos throws acid and manages to hit; James switches back to the flail and cries: “Archibald, is this one of your exes?” He swings, but the flail passes through it without touching it. Archibald takes a step, stabs the thing with his magic rapier, and smiles. Whisper moves up a little and angles where he can shoot without hitting Baldy – which is good, because his crossbow bolt goes straight through the phantom.

It grabs at Baldy but he slips out of the way. Baldy and James start babbling like Crazy Dave from its aura of madness. Amergin is unaffected; he casts Produce Flame and burns it; Lithos tags it with Magic Missile. Whisper manages to damage it as well. This time it grabs at Archibald again, but again misses. Amergin misses.

Lithos hits it with more acid; Whisper puts another bolt in it, and it phases over to Whisper; Amergin burns it as it retreats, damaging it a bit. Whisper avoids its attack. Amergin moves in and touches him with magical fire and immolates it; it dissolves into wisps of smoky shadow as it fades. There's another clue in the bottom of the coffin.


(I haven't been describing these clues very well, but now that we've got six or seven of them: they seem to have a number of dots on the left half, like the face of a die; then a dividing line in the middle; and then an angle or an arrow and/or possibly a number on the right half. So far, this has proven indecipherable; I'm hoping we'll find some sort of puzzle that these provide clues/instructions for, since they don't seem to have anything to do with the maze itself.) 

Baldy: “That’s a restroom over there. I need a moment.” He goes over to the door and knocks on it. 

Voice: “Is everything dead out there?”

There’s a dwarf in there; he appears to be a merchant. Baldy shoves him out and goes inside to take care of his business. “I trade in the currency of Durest Inglorian: black onyx." Black onyx is well known for being a component for Raise Dead and similar spells. He was a member of the congregation of the priest who built this place ages ago, and he has wares. For two black onyx we can get a pet zombie; four gets us a clue to the treasure; eight was a magic stick; twelve gives us a scroll with a clue to the treasure. 

The dwarf has a stick strapped to his back; it’s weirdly shaped, almost like a crossbow without the bow. Whisper considers this. The dwarf adds: “If you defeat the beast at the end of the maze and all its trickery, you will free me from the maze!”

Baldy: “Whew! Much better!” He emerges from the dwarf’s room. 

Whisper: “How long have you been back here?” 

Dwarf: “Forty or fifty years.”


Amergin: “How many people have been here before us?” 

“Seven. Six. I don’t really remember.”

If we were to pull him out of the maze prematurely, he’d be in terrible pain; it's part of his offering to the god. Okay, so what’s at the center of maze? He thinks it’s maybe a zombie… a big zombie? He has no idea what kind. 

Archibald has made a bit of a mess on the pet zombie; Lithos cleans it up with Prestidigitation. Archibald: "Wait, all these years and you could just... clean that up? With magic?"


James slips into the room and quickly searches it. The rest of the stuff seems to be on the dwarf’s person, because aside from a couple of dormant zombies there's nothing in here.

Whisper tries to distract him, but he moves away from where James was going to try to pickpocket him. We go ahead and purchase the clue and watch which pouch he pulls it out of; Amergin continues distracting him by badmouthing Indra. (Which, to be fair, Indra kind of deserves; he isn't just a trickster, he's a traitor.)

James attempts to reclaim our onyx through sleight of hand and succeeds; Whisper also goes through the dwarf's room but finds nothing else. Also, the dwarf is disappointed that we opened the second coffin; now we have the second clue that he was going to sell us. Lithos asks him if was planning to just open the coffin and release the mad spirit for twelve black onyx, but the dwarf demonstrates a hidden drawer that would have allowed him to draw the clue out safely.


Archibald starts going off on his horrible standard of zombie care. He goes back into his room to cry. 

We argue a bit about whether we should sleep here or head back to the boat; Lithos is concerned that if we go outside, the old dwarf will reset everything; Whisper is concerned that if we sleep here we’ll get turned into undead. We jam his door closed and go back to the boat for a full night’s sleep. 

He’s banging on the door to be let out when we come back. “I just want to be able to wander around the dungeon a little bit.” We let him out: “Remember! When you find more black onyx, come back!” The magic stick shoots magic missiles; it is actually a Formorian arquebus. (These are magical artifacts that showed up in the previous campaign; it fires off one Magic Missile per round, which isn't a lot of damage but it's self-targeting, good for twenty shots a day, and may still be functional in situations where most magic isn't.)

There second door is set up like the outer door was: a latch handle in the center, and then a lever that opens the door but also brings down a wrist-severing blade. This one has a hand still stuck on it; we go to pull it off, and parts of it are still stuck. We stick the remains of the severed hand on the handle, and it sticks again. We look at this again, because nobody wants to be stuck to that thing and lose an arm, and weirdly nobody keeps a rag or a pair of gloves or even a spare cloth pouch on their person. 

So we go back and purchase the pet zombie for two black onyx and then we have it open the door for us. The zombie is Roberta – Rob for short. She grabs the handle and pulls back, and Whisper attempts to disable the device; he jams a bugbear bone in there to hold in in place, and then we yank most of Rob’s hand back off the handle. We open the door. 

We see four ghouls coming towards us. They can paralyze you; Lithos fires off a Magic Missile, then the first one lumbers forward and bites Whisper. He is not paralyzed, fortunately, nor is he infected by disease. We send Rob forward; she slips past the ghoul and blocks the other three in the hallway beyond. 

Amergin drops Entangle, to hold the ghouls where they are; the ghoul at the back is the only one who isn’t affected. James moves up and kills the nearest ghoul. Whisper slides over to the side-passage, takes shelter behind a treasure chest, and gets ready to shoot. Archibald uses Flare, and Lithos blows a second magic missile; Rob punches a ghoul and ends it. 

Amergin slings a stone, and Whisper pauses to inspect the chest that he’s using for cover. He doesn’t find any traps, but it’s locked. He attempts to pop the lock, and sets off a Color Spray trap; he’s out of it. Baldy uses Flare, and Lithos goes back to throwing acid; the two remaining ghouls try to escape and get themselves tangled even further. Rob, meanwhile, rips loose and moves forward. Amergin slings another stone; James throws a spear; Whisper is out cold; and Baldy casts Flares again, dazzling a ghoul; Lithos throws more acid. 

The ghouls try to break free and fail; Rob the zombie attacks and kills another ghoul. Amergin slings another stone and does a teeny bit of damage to the last one. Baldy Flares again, and Lithos finishes the last ghoul off with Acid Splash. We find Whisper next to a large chest that has been opened; there’s a slightly smaller chest inside. "Well," says Lithos, "I guess we wait until it wears off."

Once recovered, Whisper checks the smaller, inner chest. It has two traps on it: grease followed by burning hands. He looks for some way to open the lid without being in front of it. We could have Rob do it, but we’ve decided we like our zombie. The rest of us hide, and Whisper attempts to discharge the traps without being caught in them. The hallway fills with fire for a few seconds, and then it burns itself out. We go look at the next chest, and there’s a small chest inside that. It has a small trap. It’s a Sleep trap. 

We all move back well out range; Whisper opens it and sets it off, and Amergin collapses. Centipedes come out of the chest, and Whisper hauls Amergin away. The centipedes go for the ghouls, and Lithos picks them off with acid while they’re eating. 

There’s a teeny wee chest inside. Lithos then pulls out the tiny box using mage hand. He opens it. There’s a ring of protection inside; James claims it. 

There’s also a treasure pile. We poke it with the 10 foot pole. A Ghast crawls out. Lithos: “Ghasts are like ghouls, but meaner and stinkier.” We get ready for combat. 

It steps in, and claws Whisper. He is paralyzed. Baldy uses Flare again, but it shrugs it off; Lithos hits it with acid. James moves up, and is sickened by its scent. He swings and misses the thing. Amergin grabs Whisper and hauls him away. Rob comes shambling up and attacks, but misses and falls down. 

The ghast attacks Rob, hitting twice and doing some damage. Baldy takes a shot with his crossbow. He misses. Lithos throws more acid, hitting. James, dry-heaving because of its stench, swings and misses again. Amergin heals Whisper. Rob stands up (the ghast misses) and attacks and misses. It claws Rob twice again, tearing her up further. 

Baldy uses Flare again, and Lithos uses acid. James manages to stab the thing. Amergin manages to move up and stab it with a spear, doing more damage. He is not sickened by the stench. Rob hits for a bit of damage. 

It tears Rob apart and moves up. Archibald casts Dancing Lights and attempts to distract the thing. It’s mildly distracted. Lithos tags it with another acid splash. James swings and misses; Amergin stabs with a spear and misses. 

Rob is destroyed and the ghast is distracted, so neither of them do anything. 

Archibald moves up. James swings and misses. Whisper snaps back to movement. He attempts to tumble past the ghast, which doesn’t manage to attack him. He attacks, but misses. 

The ghast attacks Amergin and misses completely. Baldy moves up. He stabs but misses. James swings, misses, and hurls his flail down the hall. Whisper attempts to stab, misses; Amergin attempts to attack and misses. The ghast attacks Amergin and hits him twice. Amergin is now paralyzed. Baldy drags Amergin away and cures him. Lithos zaps the ghast with more acid and it goes down. 

We grab the pile of silver and gold totalling 250 gp, a scroll of scorching ray which Lithos immediately claims, 4 more black onyx -- two from the ghast, two from Rob the zombie -- and a masterwork light crossbow. We hand the scroll to Lithos and the crossbow to Archibald, then go back to buy the magic stick. We hand that off to Whisper for the moment, since Lithos can do almost that much damage and almost as reliably with his acid cantrip.

The dwarf is offering to sell us a second zombie, but it’s the last one. We buy it, and fail to steal the onyx back from him this time.

We have also noticed that there are more inscriptions on the wall. We tap our way down the ghoul corridor, using our standard marching order for trap-finding: Whisper, James, Amergin, Lithos, Archibald, and Sherry Moon Zombie. We tap the last square, and a hidden door opens up and a big old boulder comes rolling towards us. 

Lithos shrieks, turns, and runs. 

Amergin casts Entangle, and the others make an orderly retreat while the boulder is restrained. We wait, and eventually the boulder rolls past us and shatters. We have gained another clue. So, at the end of the side-passage there’s a broken door that James could probably wriggle through; there are eight skeletons that start tromping down the corridor towards him. He retreats back through the door. Four of the skeletons had bows and four four spears. The passage was narrow, and the archers at the back were firing through the spear-skeletons at the front. 


Going back the other way, at the end of the ghoul tunnel there’s a door with a viewer; Whisper takes a look. Inside are two ghasts and a bunch of skeletons with bows. There’s a rug on the floor, urns, a sack, treasure pile, a couple of more inscription clues, a torture chair, and a shrine to Durest complete with depiction of his shadow staff. There are also piles of skulls, and probably a few other things. 


We back off to make plans.