Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Taenarum Games 4 and 5 - Bad Luck Ain't No Luck

It's been a while since I put a game report together for the regulars.  We had a game night before my San Francisco trip, and another this past weekend, so this post is covering both sessions.

One thing about the upper levels of Taenarum, there are lots of cultists and devotees of the gods that wander into the dungeon, looking for lost shrines and enchanted statues - either to pay homage or make mischief.  Encounters with clerics and acolytes of various gods are common.  One of the first areas the adults visited on this night was a spectacular temple to Poseidon in a vaulted, sea-green chamber.  The paladin, a follower of Poseidon, wanted to have a 'Poseidon Adventure'.  And he did.  There was a gang of iconoclasts desecrating the temple, rustic-looking fellows with helmets adorned with curling rams horns and goat's fleece mantles.  Pan cultists!  The paladin cried for an attack against the defilers.

Connell, their Celtic henchman, went berserk (which gave him immunity when a cultist tried to "panic" him with a Fear spell and a shrill note on a reed pipe).  Etor the explorer cleaved through multiple lightly armored acolytes.  In typical hero fashion, the paladin rolled a 1 on initiative, missed his save vs Hold Person, and got to watch the rest of the fight from the ground.

The Pan cultists weren't too difficult to defeat.  When he finally recovered from paralysis, the paladin vowed to buy a mop and bucket and clean up the temple on his next trip.  The players went on to explore a few rooms, eventually figuring out how to open the secret door that led to a monument to the Fates.  Before the three statues of the weavers was a brass bound book, the Book of Blessings and Curses.  It's basically one of those 'wheel of fortune' type effects, where the metal plates of the book randomly flip to an effect when it's consulted.  Kids love the random stuff.

My players were brutalized by the fates.  The party wizard was polymorphed into a house cat.  The cleric lost all his experience.  Etor was knocked unconscious and Connell was injured almost to the point of death.  Only the bard came away with a blessing, but by then, they needed to leave the dungeon and try to recover.  This is what happens when all the kids at the table chant for each next player to roll the book, roll the book, roll the book.  "I hope we've learned a valuable lesson here," said the kids after the train wreck.  "Peer pressure is bad".

A fair amount of the next game was spent in town getting town stuff done.  Moe the bard did some networking with other adventuring parties, and ultimately made friends with Lamachus, a magic user associated with the "Nefarious Nine", the most successful adventurers active in town.  The Nine are also the leaders on the scoreboard.  Lamachus was in town for a few days and was willing to Dispel Magic on their magic user for an appropriate fee.  Now the running joke is they frequently catch Talus, the party mage, grooming himself by licking his skin, gnawing on raw fish, that kind of stuff - cat habits.  "I'm doing it again, aren't I?", when he realizes everyone is watching him.

The paladin was good for his word, and bought a bunch of expensive fish to burn on Poseidon's altar as an offering, along with a mop and bucket to clean up the desecrated temple.  They scared off some Zeus cultists who intruded on the dungeon temple during the clean up - if the wandering encounters are any indication, that Poseidon temple must get trashed all the time by opposing cultists.  The paladin player was delighted to receive a divine blessing for restoring the temple.

As the night progressed, the players killed some bandits, ambushed some pig men, and found "The Black Door".  If only they knew where to find a Black Key.  (I'm joking, they had heard how to get a Black Key at one point, I'm sure it's in their notes, they just can't seem to put a complete game together yet).  They found a statue of Apollo with an inscription calling for offerings of poetry.  The players interpreted poetry to mean humorous limericks, and a few of the guys immediately set to writing limericks as the night progressed.

Sadly, this was another game night that ended in crushing defeat for Moe's Marauders.  They lured a "gray ooze" out of a room where it was pooled up against a door, and defeated it in the open.  However, beyond the door were some desperate and crazy Hades cultists, led by an arrogant jerk (Xerxes).  The situation might have resolved okay, but Mack the Dwarf took exception to some of Xerxes' haughty insults and sucker-punched him in the groin, inciting a brawl.  The cultists were heavily armored in bronze mail and quickly beat down the paladin and Gregorius, another henchman.  Moe the bard was scared off with a Fear spell and fled into the dungeon.  Hit points were dwindling.  Talus the Mage threw himself prostrate before Xerxes and begged for mercy, claiming how foolish it was for them to challenge the power of Hades.  One spectacular reaction roll later and they began to discuss terms of surrender (instead of facing a TPK and rolling new characters).

While Xerxes began to call out options to allow the players to ransom themselves, the others did first aid on the wounded.  Gregorius was dying unless he got some magic healing; the paladin chose to lay hands on himself and let Gregorius die.  Yikes.  This is the problem with paladins in the game - I don't like being in the position of determining which selfish behavior goes over the line.  Regardless, letting a companion die while using magic healing to pad your life total is very non-paladin like.

The players ended up paying some money to the Hades cultists, and giving them the body of Gregorius - Xerxes and his gang were off to find a Hades shrine somewhere below level one.  As the players bandaged the survivors and limped out of the dungeon, they grumbled about looking forward to a rematch with the Hades cultists.  They have a villain to target now.

Here are a couple of the limericks that were eventually offered to Apollo.  There was another funny one, but the player hasn't sent it over yet - the lure of free XP wasn't enough.  Moe ended up gaining the favor of Apollo and was granted a permanent +1 to charisma.  Here's Apollo's favorite limerick:

“The Tale of Moe’s Marauders”
By Moshe ben Avraham (Moe the Bard)
(copyright 2014)

The Marauders stormed Tanaerum in throng
For they knew that their trip would be long
As the story would unfold
They found little gold
So all they could offer was song.

“The Ballad of Talas”
By Moshe ben Avraham (Moe the Bard)
(copyright 2014)

There once was a wizard named Talas
Who turned into a kitty, so callous
He’d spray his scent on the walls
And cough up furballs
But his kitty litter box was his palace.

Cast of Characters
Moe, a Bard
Talus, a Magic User
Mack, a Dwarven Craftpriest
Alantir, Paladin of Poseidon
Etor, Spartan explorer
Connell the Celt (Billy) - NPC
Gregorius - NPC