Immigrant Song Lyrics

The party headed north, fending off wyvern attacks along the road. They had purchased a luxury camper style wagon so that the mage could use the travel time to learn spells, and for the most part it worked.

Soon enough they reached the gates of Elsarime. The city wall, little more than an overly tall palisade, stretched on either side, and the gate itself was ornately carved with wooden faces on it and thick, metal bound doors. Walking on a platform above the gate was a single guard. In spite of the wind and biting cold, the guard stood stripped to the waist, seemingly proud of is physique and tattoos.

This far north the weather had changed. There was snow on the ground and the temperature had dropped to dangerously cold levels. The halfling was riding in Pinwheel, and he found that, other than protecting from the wind, the steel construct collected the cold and turned into a mobile ice box. The necromancer was immune to the cold, being undead, and the barbarian was simply too tough to care about petty concerns such as frostbite.

The guard challenged them, stating that this was a harsh land and they didn’t get many travellers. After some brief confusion over whether they were there for business or pleasure they were allowed in. The walls and buildings cut out the wind, and while it was still cold, they could move around far more comfortably.

Directly inside the gate was a tavern, promising warmth and food. They notes the ice had been cleared of the sign above the door, but the other buildings in the area hadnt done the same thing. Without any way if knowing already, finding a shop would be challenging. The bar was called “Mahalo!”.

Inside they found the promised warmth, as well as local cheese. The tavern was occupied with a couple of the bronze skinned warriors from the town, as well as a small cadre of dwarves. When asked, the dwarves told them they were merchants bringing goods from a holdfast in the mountains, but before they could elaborate further, the party wandered off.

They knew they were on the clock, so to speak, with the impending apocalypse, so they bought coats and gear for the cold at a local shop they had to ask directions to and prepared to head out. The elderly shopkeeper was surprised and shocked to see… well, anyone, let alone outsiders. He cut them a deal to try and get them to come back.

But the cold was brutal, and the buildings were warm, seemingly without fires. They investigated and discovered the heat coming off of the idols. Being enterprising adventurers, they decided to head to the temple in the center of town to see if they could buy one, to make the trip up the mountains easier.

The temple was by far the largest building in the city, consisting of concentric rings of increasingly high thatched roofs that ended in a point some forty feet in the air. Through the thatch heat leaked out, causing visual distortion between the heroes and he sky above. No snow fell on the temple, despite the fact that it drifted down in a dusting of small lazy snowflakes over the test of the town.

They opened the door and we’re punched in the face with a blast of hot, moist air. Everywhere priest hurried around in loincloths, stripped to the absolute bare minimum required for modesty. One near the door hurried over and greeted them with a wide smile and open arms.

“Aloha!”

The party quickly realized the heat was rolling off the massive idol in the center in radiant waves, hot enough to be uncomfortable if one was unprepared for it.

The idol was the shape of a large stylized woman, with exaggerated female features that implied fertility and procreation. It was a truly massive statue, surrounded by flowered the likes of which they had never seen before, colored in bright reds and blues. Around it four bronze braziers burned, each one at the compass points.

Something a bit like this

The heroes asked about the idol, and if they could aquire one for their trip up the mountain. The priests told them they were welcome to one, but Ahi, the goddess represented by the idol, only provided heat for true worshippers.

The party looked at each other. Their cleric shrugged. He worshipped Yondalla. He couldn’t help them.

The Sorceress stepped up and volunteered. Worshipping a goddess of heat and flame could be fun, she said, and then paused.

“Um, worshipping Ahi doesn’t involve anything terrible, does it?”

The priest laughed, “No, of course not, but to prove you’re an actual worshipper, and not just some adventurer looking to stay warm on a frozen mountain, Ahi demands a small sacrifice. There is a monthly tithe. You must burn small something of value in her name.”

The Sorceress agreed. Her first sacrifice was her coat, burned on one of the four sacred braziers.

Equipped and armed, the party set out up the mountain without delay.

Immunity: Fear

Sir Dellyn Vanse groaned involuntarily as he rolled to a sitting position in bed. His bare feet touched the cold stone of his sparsely decorated bedchamber and he paused there to finish waking up and enjoy the sun streaming in the small window above his bed.

The kiss of Pelor felt good shining on the back of his head and neck. What didn’t feel good was the stiff condition his back was in. He had overdone it the day before, lifting planks of wood and hefting his signature carpenter’s hammer.

He shook the cobwebs from his head and flexed his hands into fists, on at a time. First he balled up the left, then the right. He felt the muscles in his forearms flex and relax. Still as strong as ever, he thought with a smile.

What concerned him was the increasing pain. As he balled his hand into a fist, he could feel the bones pop and creak like they hadn’t years before. The price of a lifetime of abusing them, he mused.

He ran his fingers through his thinning hair and set to getting dressed. He slipped off the loose gown he wore to bed and stood there a second before putting his pants on. His back creaked as he bent over to pull them up, and lacing them up the sides only served to aggravate the pain in his hands.

Half dressed he sat back down on the side of the bed.

He knew he had a busy day ahead of him. His morning was usually consumed with training the young whelps that had come to the temple for training. Usually the temple got ten or twelve a year, each youngster believing they had been chosen by Pelor as a paladin. Not all of them were correct, of course.

Sir Vanse had never had any real formal training. He remember the moment, his big moment, when he as a lad of seventeen had picked up his father’s sword and charged the ogre mage that had attacked his village. He had felt the surge of divine energy as he struck the creature, driving the sword far deeper than the simple force of his arm alone.

That was the same moment he had manifested the eyes. Vance looked over at the plain polished metal plate that served as the mirror in his room. His eyes were pure crystal blue, without any white at all, like a pair of sapphires set in his skull. It didn’t hinder his vision in any way, but it marked him. He was a paladin. Only paladins had eyes like that.

He remembered arriving at the temple himself for the first time. The priests and clerics had made a big fuss over his arrival. They hadn’t had a crystal eyed paladin in many years. They said he had been chosen, that he was destined for something great, that he was special.

He’d joined with the other paladins at the temple. Vanse smiled at the recollection. They had seemed so old at the time, all of them in their early twenties. James, Thomas, Nikolai, they had all welcomed him with open arms and taught him as much as they could.

None of them were around anymore. Thomas was confirmed dead facing down a balor on in the Demon Wastes. Nikolai had teamed up with some mad mage to clean out a demilich’s tomb somewhere and never returned. James was last seen charging the steel horde orcs on the Great Grass Sea to the East on horseback with his shining lance. It wasn’t clear if he had died, but the village of Old Merval hadn’t burned to the ground and the horde had retreated, so his sacrifice must not have been for nothing.

How long had it been? Vanse counted thirty eight summers of life. He shook his head.

He furrowed his brow. They laughed at him behind his back, he knew. Old Man Paladin, Failadin, Sir Chicken they called him, the one who wasted his destiny, the one who quandered his gift.

He hadn’t been idle. He had spent years using the carpentry his father had taught him, building houses for the poor. Over four hundred houses bore the holy symbol of Pelor engraved over the door, the mark of each house he had built in the name of holy charity.

He had fought monsters of course, but they had all been minor. A gang of goblins had started harassing on of the nearby villages. An owlbear had carried off some cows. Still, none of the enemies he had faced had been the legendary evil he was supposed to squash. None of the monsters had really challenged him, or even been a real threat.

He had sired no children. Paladins were not supposed to leave widows, and we’re supposed to save orphans, not spawn them. No paladin was expected to live long enough to see his child become an adult.

Still, here he was. Sir Vance started putting on the rest of his uniform as he thought.

Paladins were immune to fear, the clerics had told him. No dragon could make him flee. Yet, here he was, alone with his thoughts. Had he truly wasted his life? There was doubt in him, but it was more than doubt. Was this what fear felt like?

He looked down at his bed where he had nearly folded his bed shirt. He would die in the bed, he knew, if something didn’t change.

If this was fear he was feeling, it wasn’t the terror of a scaled horror of claws and fire. It was the existential dread of advancing age and the fear of a life left unmourned in it’s passing. Was this fear? He didn’t fear death, he knew. What was this that plagued his thoughts as he woke up?

He strapped on his breastplate. It was more snug around the middle than he remembered.

No, he decided. He was not going to spend the rest of his days here. He was going to accomplish something, anything. He would end as a paladin was supposed to, standing between the evil and the innocent.

He had one good ride left in him, he knew, and he was going to have to make it count.

As he strode out of his room into the sunny courtyard he decided. They were going to have find someone else to train the youngsters. He had a destiny to find.

Domo Arigato

The party headed boldly north, to where they had been told the gnomes had last been seen… but first, a pitstop.

While delving ruins under an abandoned castle and trying to drive out a grell infestation, the party had come across what looked like a large but smaller than average iron golem in the treasure lair of a long-dead beholder. They carried off the gold, but had avoided the golem, expecting it to be some sort of failsafe security device they had been fortunate not to trigger yet.

Of course, they were wrong.

Once they got to learning about the gnomes and the fantastic constructs they piloted in battle and how those constructs looked a little like small iron golems and how that might be a reasonable thing for a egomaniacal beholder to keep as a trophy… They went back for a second look.

And so they did. On closer examination (they had pointedlt avoided even going near the thing the first time) they discovered the chest panel had severe structural damage and was propped closed after having been torn open.

Prying the chest plate back revealed a small seat with a safety harness. Two large metal gloves and metal helmet were also there, attached to the golem with thin metal wires.

The party looked at each other, and the halfling cleric shrugged. He was the only one small enough to try it out, and, after the “dress the cleric as a child” incident, he knew damn well they were gonna want him to.

He climbed in and the party took cover around the corner, you know, in case it exploded.

The halfling sat him down in the seat and put on the gloves and helmet. He discovered the helmet covered his eyes intentionally, but otherwise fit perfectly.

Party Time

The halfling immediately found himself standing, disembodied, in a black void of some kind of otherspace. He could see himself, but nothing else was there with him. A gentle voice spoke from all around him.

“Hello, I am Pinwheel, Third Light Gnomish Lance. Where is Commander Dalyn? You are not Commander Dalyn.”

“Um, no, I’m Wolfgang, Cleric of Yondalla. I’m looking for the gnomes. Can you help me?”

“I’m sorry, only Commander Dalyn is authorized to pilot this construct. Are you Commander Dalyn?”

The halfling paused to consider his options. “No, I’m not, but I do need your help to find the gnomes and prevent the end of the world.”

“Please elaborate on ‘end of the world'”

“Pinwheel? How long have you been stuck here?”

“Unclear, time is not known. Presumed a long time.”

“What is your last memory, Pinwheel?”

“Commander Dalyn engaged a beholder to cleanse the area and rescue nearby villages. During combat, this unit received critical structural damage and Commander Dalyn exited the construct to engage to enemy and enact repairs.” Pinwheel paused as if checking something, “Self Repair Protocol is… offline.”

“Damnit, There is a demon army massing to invade and destroy the realm. I need to find the gnomes. Can you help me?”

Pinwheel paused, weighing it’s options. “The only authorized users are Commander Dalyn and repair crew. Are you repair crew?”

The halfling didn’t like lying and made a worried face. Pinwheel continued.

“The world needs saving. I want to help. Are you repair crew?

The halfling took a deep breath and nodded in the void. “Greater good.” He muttered to himself.

“Excellent! Mobility authorized! Magic Missile Pod offline. Scorching Array offline. Force Scythe offline. Grapple countermeasures offline. Gravitational dampeners offline. Inertial shielding offline. Let’s save the world, Repair Technician Wolfgang.”

Before he could respond Wolfgang felt his senses shift to looking out of the constructs helmet and he peered down at where his party was peering back up at him. He had an overwhelming sense of bigness he had never experienced before.

When he spoke his voice came out booming and mechanical. “Ok, guys. I’m in. We can find the gnomes.”

He took his first uncertain steps out of the alcove and into the main treasure room. The constuct moved like his own body naturally would. It was time to save the world!

Forced Foreshadowing

Having defeated the giant stone spider monster, the players expected to be marched through the streets in a parade with flowers and money and maybe some kind of reward.

Boy were they wrong.

While they fought the monster, the city guard was notably absent, as was the team of adventurers that worked for the rival dragon, the rival dragon that was supposed to have controlling interest in the town and clandestine peerage over it’s Prince.

When they returned to the city, they found their rivals waiting at the gate, and they were given 24 hours to dissapear.

You may immediately think that is very harsh. What you are not aware of is that the players are mixed up in a game of Dragon Xorvitaal, and lethal conflict between pawns is not only normal, but expected. That 24 hours head start was a gift and a token of respect.

Their rivals wanted them gone so they could investigate why their town guard, a well paid mercenary group called the Ebon Spear, had chosen that moment to stay in bed instead of acting against the spider, but the players didn’t know that.

They decided to take the deal and boogie.

They met up with their wizard friend (remember naked mage?) who, in an entirely forced and contrived coincidence, was entertaining a visitor when they arrived, their dragoness patron, Inshallah the Silver.

She and Audrafinn the archmage were discussing current events and we’re glad to see the players. The sky was opening again and the demons were coming back… soon. It was unclear how soon.

Now, this demon invasion I had been hitting them with as ham fisted foreshadowing as I could, and I needed to bring that to the fore.

Audrafinn explained that she had built her wizard tower to observe the Demon Wastes, the blasted and corrupted lands left over from their last invasion, and she told them the sky had opened again, but only just a crack.

(Ominous Music)

Inshallah told the players that in times of great threat the dragon game could be “paused”, so that all pawns could focus on a problem that threatened the world, and by extension, the game itself.

She said that she had already contacted the Games Master and a great council of dragons had been called, all of the local players at once and their best pawns, to discuss the Pause.

As her best pawns, the players were going to accompany her…

They flew in the back of the dragon, a feat of wonder and awe that was glossed over in favor of getting the PCs back to the part where they killed stuff. Decending into the northern desert, they saw the location they were heading to.

Beneath them was a platform, a natural stone mesa made of reddish stone. It was over a hundred feet across and possibly two hundred feet tall. On the top, waiting for them, was a colossal ancient gold dragon. Inshallah explained to them as they landed that this was Grendontorth, the Games Master.

The Games Master was forbidden to play, she explained, but his rule was unquestioned. He was a cleric of Io, the draconic god of neutrality, and the meeting place was holy ground, consecrated to Io. No one dared question Grendontorth here. Even if they did, he was still an ancient wyrm gold dragon.

The rest of the dragon players arrived shortly after the heroes did. There was a green dragon that refused to look anyone directly in the eye and was pointedly trying to look bored flanked by lizardfold, a spastic little bug-eyed white dragon with a twitch and a cadre of barbarians, a fang dragon clad in full plate and nursing fresh wounds on his legs and chest and traveling with an ogre, and lastly Thanadrukk, the black dragon, the players nemesis, accompanied by the same party that had been hounding them the entire time they were staying in Bechamel.

The cast had assembled, and the Pause was announced, to much grumbling and complaining from the dragons. Business concluded, the dragons mostly left, leaving the players, Inshallah, Grendontorth (who lived there and wasn’t leaving) and Thanadrukk.

They chose not to talk to him, even under flag of truce.

Unsure how to proceed they asked Grendontorth if he had any ideas. The dragon told them that while he was not allowed to play the Game, he still had agents in the world, and he had instructed them to figure out a way to stop the demons.

He had this idea that if the Elochian gnomes could be found, their magical talents could be used to either seal the tear or at least assist in battle against the invasion once it broke through.

Armed with this knowledge, and facing a ticking clock, the players decided to set off and find the gnomes!

Custom Art

So my son and I were sitting in the car and he says to me “Hey dad, I want to draw something. What should I draw?”

Thinking about my current story I’m working on, I say to draw a snow goblin.

Cute lil parka

So I was impressed, and asked him what’s the table thing he’s looking at.

“Oh, that’s a ballista.”

My man 😎

Quest Givers Pt2

Once upon a time I ran a larp.

Scratch that. Start over.

So for the record I absolutely love, when choosing a game setting to run in, frontier towns. It gives room for expansion, an element of exploration, built in stresses and problems, and the arm of the law is short enough for most players liking.

I mean, imagine being off the boat founding Jamestown. That right there would make an amazing game. You’re in the woods. Your resources are limited. Best of all, help is only a mere six month away.

(Side rant: I freaking hate the “let’s call the cops” or “this looks like a job for the army” player copout. You’re a damn hero. Pull up your big boy pants. A random NPC could do call the cops. The story isn’t about them. End rant)

So I have this setting I’ve used several times, called Cappy’s Rock. Basically it’s a town founded by this guy named Captain James Harlow.

Yes, I actually look like this guy IRL.

Harlow goes by Cappy, very retired ex cavalry, granted the right and funding to found a town outside of the kingdom proper on the frontier of unclaimed lands.

I roleplayed him as old, tired, overworked, more than a little flustered, a little indecisive, and rather inept in battle. I even gave him a limp as an old battle wound as an excuse as to why I couldn’t join the adventurers in the field. When he did, he usually stayed in the back and yelled exposition and encouragement.

As far as I could tell, he was the perfect NPC. He had position, inertia, and the inability to deal with the mounting problems in the area. He also had the financial backing to fund adventurers to clean things up.

I was told afterwards the players immediately began plotting to kill him behind my back. They thought he was incompetent and blamed him for what was happening to the settlement. At least, that’s what the other crew that was interacting with the players as NPCs told me afterward.

The first game focused on the conflict between the settlers, who were trying to settle, and a local druidic circle who was trying to drive them out.

Of course, they sided with the druids and I had to wing a resolution that prevented the game from ending with the town folding.

One thing you need to realize is that larp on one important way is not like a TTRPG. You invest a lot in the setting, both money, time, and money, and you can’t just fold the setting and start over without accruing another pile of expenses for props and costumes.

Normally in a TTRPG I would have simply moved along, but a LARP is as much about where things happen as it is about who it happens to.

The next game pitted the town against marauding orcs, who lied and said they had been there first.

The players, calling on their fierce indoctrination from their school days, embraced their anti-progress bias and sided with the orcs.

And still they hated Cappy, and I don’t entirely know why. He asked them to save the people that were being slaughtered, and exhorted them to be heroes.

At the end of the second game Cappy got kidnapped, and it was supposed to transition from “Guided with training wheels” to a more “Players are empowered to step up and run/save the town on their own”. I never got to run that third game though.

I know it may seem like fishing for comments, but if anybody can figure out what went wrong, jump in with a guess. I can’t share a lesson here, because I couldn’t figure out what the lesson was.

Quest Givers

The basics of a normal quest is, there’s somebody that needs something, and the players are he ones that do or get that something.

The basic problem with quests is, someone powerful enough to hire and adventuring team should be powerful enough to accomplish the goal themselves.

A powerful dragon needs McGuffin, so why doesn’t he get it? The king needs an evil wizard slain, so why doesn’t he send any of his ten thousand soldiers to do it?

On the other hand, a poor farmer needs help with an ankheg, what the hell is he going to pay you? A tiny frontier town needs protection from orcs, what are they going to pay you with? Farmer’s daughters?

I’m getting ahead of myself. Lets start with basic philosophy.

In Knights of the Old Republic 2, the old crone Kreia, in one of her interminably long boring monologues, actually said something useful. Struggle leads to growth, and by taking others struggles onto ourselves (as players taking quests) we become stronger (gain experience points) and they do not grow.

In Vampire the Masquerade the elders, who are usually the ones spawning quests and giving the young spawn stuff to do, do not change. They are often trapped in the same mindsets and behaviors (and sometimes asthetics) that they had when they were young. If they do grow more powerful, it is at a glacially slow pace.

This said, the key to a good quest giver isn’t ability, but inertia.

(source: https://www.deviantart.com/robthedoodler)

Player characters do things because that’s what they do. They do things. They do things. Players have agency, drive, and detanglements. (autocorrect changed that to “derangements” twice) They have mobility and speed.

The king can’t send his soldiers because they are all already stationed right where they are supposed to be right now. The mayor can’t ask the police to investigate the “weird goings on” because without evidence of a crime, that’s not what the police do.

Anyone who thinks it would be easy to mobilize an army without notice has never tried to take two young kids to the pool.

In addition, Quest Givers are restricted by their station and their previous obligations.

Adventurers can act outside established social and political norms. They come in from the outside and are essentially wildcards. Anyone who has seen the movie Yojimbo (or it’s entirely underappreciated remake “Last Man Standing”) can see the main character is essentially a player character in a town full of NPCs. This is why NPCs want adventurers.

A nobleman, or an elder vampire, cannot simply strike directly against his enemies without pulling on the strings of the web of intrigued and obligation he is currently meshed in. Likewise a farmer cannot abandon his fields and family and go off and fight a battle. They need the players.

In my next article I’ll discuss the failure of one of my favorite NPc Quest Givers, and hopefully spawn thought on the ramifications.

Erasmus’ Daughters

“Come, child. Sit next to me.”

The little girl looked up from her dolls to see the old woman sitting in the bench in her playroom. She knew the old woman simply as “Nanny”. She had always marvelled at how the old woman’s skin seemed so thin and tight on her face, and had noticed that she always wore the same faded, blue dress.

She quickly scrambled to obey, clambering up onto the bench next to Nanny as she had been told. She smoothed down her plain homespun dress and adjusted the tiny white kapp bonnet that held back her hair.

“Your father has trusted me to raise his daughters for a very, very long time. I know your father is a distant man, and doesn’t spend much time with you. I had hoped you might want to know more about him.”

The girl child wiggled in her seat and nodded. Nanny always told the best stories.

“Your father, Erasmus, is not crazy. You must remember that. When you get older a lot of people will say he his, but he’s not. Those people just can’t understand the depth of what a grieving father will do.

“When you were younger,” Nanny paused and scrunched her brow, as if trying to count the years, “…much younger, your older brother, Charles, was lost at sea. Your father didn’t react well. The clerics said that because there was no body, there was no way to bring him back from the dead. It was a dark time, and your father spent a lot of time and money trying to rescue your brother from death.

“In the end, he couldn’t find a solution. In his grief and rage he cursed the gods that wouldn’t help him, and vowed not to lose any of his other children… ever.

“Many men have made similar vows, but Erasmus had the money and skill to try and actually make it work. You see, magic is a pathway to many abilities some would consider… unnatural.

“He studied life, death, undeath, and the true nature of the soul. It was to protect you, you understand. He found a way to keep you from ever leaving him.

“To do this he started two projects. The first would give you a new body if something ever happened to you. The second would make you live forever and never grow old.

“But something amazing happened. When you…your older sister, I mean, went through the ritual to make …her… live forever, the copy body woke up.

“Erasmus was pleased, and surprised. He loves you very much, and has enough love for you and all of your sisters, no matter how many sisters you have.”

The little girl scrunched up her face. “That does ‘viable’ mean? Daddy said I was viable.”

“Oh, that means he loves you,” the old nanny continued, her neck creaking quietly as she nodded, “That means you’re really his daughter.”

The child pondered, “Nanny? Where do babies come from?”

Nanny laughed, a sound like a dry cough, “Babies come from the workshop. You know the big metal door with the red X on it? You must never go in there. You must never see where the babies come from.”

The child’s face brightened, “But I want to see, Nanny! Can you sneak me in there, maybe? I so very much want to see.”

Nanny shook her head, and for a moment looked off into space, “I can’t do that, little one. Erasmus forbids it.” She paused for a moment, “I cannot disobey Erasmus. You’ll understand when you’re older.

“And when you are older, if you stick to your training and your schooling, your father will put you through the ritual too, and you will become immortal.

Nanny frowned, “It will hurt… a lot, little one, but you will be ready. Your father will prepare you.

“When you get old enough you will come of age, and on that day you will get a new everlasting life, and a new sister too.”

The child nodded her head, not entirely understanding, and scratched at the bandage on her abdomen. Earlier that day she had had a procedure done, when her father had called her ‘viable’. She had lost one square inch of flesh, a bit of intestines that she would never miss.

She was so excited to grow up!

(This is a bit of worldbuilding for my Aoela player. They didn’t give me much to work with, just something about an insular family with a Necropolitain tradition. I hope they like it!)

Tokusatsu

The spider brute forced its way up into the street, and the heroes took a moment to rally and make a quick plan before springing into action.

The barbarian shouldered the cleric and quickly scaled the rubble after it. The additional weight of the halfling and his armor brought his total encumbrance from a light load to… still a light load, so he had no trouble.

The rest of the party scaled as well, moving slightly slower but having no trouble with the shattered rocks.

Once they reached the top, they sprung into action.

Big damn heroes, sir

The dread necromancer charged it, smacking it several times in the legs, provoking it, and getting it’s attention. It turned and lunched at her, it’s purple lambent flames coalescing in its mouth, but she rolled out of the way and ran.

She ran towards the river. She couldn’t outrun it on foot, but she wove between the buildings, never getting out of sight, but making it as hard as possible for the thing to charge at her without having to shoulder though the narrow streets.

The monster distracted and heading in a safe direction, the cleric/barbarian duo came running up behind it. The barbarian tied their rope around his waste, but couldn’t hit a house with a howitzer at range, so the cleric through the grappling hook. They knew the goblin necromancer got inside the thing, that meant there had to be a hatch up there somewhere.

The barbarian scaled the rope easily, landing them both on to, and a quick examination revealed the trap door carved in the beasts stone exoskeleton. Dwarves are amazing at identifying stonework.

The barbarian jumped down first, and the cleric after him into the cramped space inside the spider but he was hit square in the chest with another fear spell. He clambered back out of the spider and flung himself off, leaving the cleric to face the evil wizard alone.

The cleric was not prepared for this, but attacked anyway, swapping inflict wound spells with the wizard until they both ran out of power and resorted to melee.

The sorceress had tried to assist with bow fire, but after her first four arrows plonked harmlessly off the beast, she instead followed cautiously, waiting for an opportunity to assist.

What the saw was the barbarian, the rope still tied around his waist, flailing and yelling as he hung helpless from the spider.

The Dread Necromancer kited the monster to the river, and followed it’s backs south toward the edge of the city, leading the monster out of the populated areas and down a path that caused the least property damage.

By the time she got to the gates of the city, the barbarian had recovered, and scaled the rope angrily, eager to finish the evil wizard off.

The spider hit the city wall like an avalanche, throwing shattered stone and splintered wood as it scuttled inexorably through the gates and into the fields beyond.

The barbarian dropped back into the spider’s hull, screaming “I’m BAAAACK! ROUND TWO, BITCH!”

Weakened by the cleric, the wizard went down instantly. Bits of goblin scattered all over the inside of the spider, and all over the heroes.

The barbarian turned to the cleric and grinned. The cleric blanched as the barbarian started smashing on the spider from the inside. Glowing cracks started forming.

The cleric bailed out, flinging himself from the top of the spider and yelling for the rest of the party to get clear.

As they ran for the cover of the tree kind, the spider went down with the sharp crack of sundering stone.

Then it exploded.

And there, pulling himself out of the rubble, was a badly injuries barbarian, grinning like a maniac.

They had won.

Drums in the Deep

Standing there, battered and spent, the heroes could hear drums further in the tunnels. They didn’t know exactly that that meant, but drums meant drummers, and, barring a lone Matthew McConaughey inspired goblin, it meant more enemies.

Stoned Naked Bongos in the Deep

The players did the prudent thing, rather than the brave, and advanced to the rear. They talked among themselves and decided if something down there was going to kill them, it would either do it while they were warm and well fed in the tavern, or it would wait for them to get back.

Among their travels in the city of Bechamel, they had stopped in the local museum to have some old documents identified, and the curator had off hand asked them to keep an eye out for a missing fossil they had lost from their collection, an unidentified fragment about the size of a football.

If you can tell where this is going you’re paying better attention than the players.

They headed back down into the sewers at first light, again bypassing the first level and all of my carefully planned encounters, and going directly into the goblin warrens. Upon reaching their furthest point, they discovered the drums had not stopped.

They proceeded carefully down the hallway, sneaking around the corner to spy on whatever was going on.

They found a ritual of some kind. A goblin dressed in dark robed stood on a throne shaped like a large stone spider. He was surrounded by small chanting robed creatues they assumed were goblins. A screening force of larger goblins stood around them as guards, and an unmanned ballista stood nearby.

For this encounter I had reskinned Dekanter goblins to act as guards.

The players, noticing the chanting increasing in intensity, decided their best course of action would be to try and take out the chanters and disrupt the ritual. They charged into the open, with the barbarian in the front.

The chanting continued, and the guards moved to intercept, some of them moving to man the ballista, and the others moving in the way.

The cleric attacked the ballista, having a personal vendetta against all siege weaponry from his previous encounters, and the goblin on the throne revealed himself to be the necromancer they were looking for.

It ripped off a spell, provoking fear in the barbarian, punching through his rage and causing him to flee back into the tunnels.

The dread necro used the distraction to slip past the guards and begin slaughtering the chanters and the mage focused her spells on the goblin necromancer itself.

The plan worked well, and the chanters began falling quickly to their onslaught. The guards and their ballista were neutralized, and everything seemed to be going their well. It was just a matter of time before the barbarian recovered and joined them.

That was when the last chanter thew back his hood and revealed himself to be a dark blue skinned goblin, that snarled and shifted into a wolf demon hybrid. The goblin necromancer used this opportunity to slide into a trap door in the throne, and escape inside stone spider dias.

The blue wolf goblin was losing badly, and as the last chanter fell, he teleported away, screaming hideous threats of fire and vengeance from both himself and his dark masters. He seemed oddly articulate for a goblin.

The heroes turned to see the entire spider throne erupt into purple flame and begin moving. The legs unfurled to reveal it was not just a statue, but the fossilized stone exoskeleton of an huge ancient spider. From inside the thing they could hear the goblin necromancer laughing.

The recovered barbarian raced back into the room as the massive spider beast slammed into the ceiling, pushing through the stone into the street above.

They remembered the exploding zombies from earlier. If they killed the spider in the city, the explosion could vaporize a city block.