Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dwimmermount, Session 44

Because the last few sessions have been strongly focused on mapping and exploration, with relatively little combat -- or treasure, to the chagrin of the players -- there have not been as many trips back to Muntburg or Adamas for re-supply. Consequently, these sessions have picked up more or less immediately after the previous ones. That wasn't the norm for the first year or so of the campaign, which makes me wonder whether it's more the result of the higher average level of the party than anything having to do with the content of the sessions themselves.

Regardless, the party continued its investigation of the necromantic lab/temple they discovered. Unlike other parts of Dwimmermount, this area showed no signs of having been visited recently by anyone or anything. The rooms were covered in thick layers of dust and (normal) cobwebs were everywhere. Most of the opposition they encountered was in the form of metallic golems in the shape of human skeletons. They also encountered several incorporeal undead, whom they initially feared were ghosts. Brother Candor has historically had a rough time with turning the undead; most of his attempts, unless they result in automatic turning or destruction, have proven inadequate. The last session proved no different and one of the undead struck him.

There was naturally concern that these undead drained levels or aged their targets, but, as it turned out, they instead permanently drained Charisma, which is the cleric's highest ability score. Candor's player seemed a bit disappointed by this turn of events and asked about a restoration spell. Such things do exist in my campaign setting (generally, if it's found in OD&D or its Supplements, I allow it), but it's a 7th-level spell, meaning that only a 15th-level or higher cleric could cast it. Now, the highest level cleric the PCs have met is Morna, high priestess of Tyche, in Adamas and she's only 9th level. If there are any 15th-level clerics in the setting, they're nowhere nearby, so finding one will be quite the adventure in itself. (I'll likely have more to say about this and related topics in another post)

The party continued to press on, along the way finding many dusty rooms, some filled with evidence of being used as barracks, armories, and storage areas. They also found an alchemical lab whose apparatuses were of a most unusual type and intended -- if the pallet with straps and restraints on it were any indication -- to be used on living subjects. Judging by the blood and other stains on the pallet and around it, such subjects did not survive whatever was being done to them. The party also discovered cells with manacles that they surmised were used to hold other "test subjects" for the alchemy lab, whatever its ultimate purpose.

Beyond this, the other discovery by the characters was a silver charm or fetish in the same of a bearded man's head. They found it inside what they took to have been an acolyte's robe. The charm was smaller than a human fist in size and sculpted in a very stylized fashion. Interestingly, its neck was jagged and rough. At first, the PCs thought this indicated that it had been broken off a statuette or sculpture of some sort, but closer examination revealed that wasn't the case. Instead, it had been made in this fashion, as its jaggedness was just as stylized as its face. Clearly, its appearance was intentional rather than the result of violence.

And that's where things ended for the night. It was a slow-moving, quiet session without a great deal of "action," but things happened, new clues were found, and another portion of another level was mapped out in greater detail. All in all, I can't complain.

16 comments:

  1. Great post. Reading about Dwimmermount always gets me excited for my own game. I'd definitely be interested in hearing more about the thought (or random) process you went through in determining what level NPCs would be in the setting, and where they would be.

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  2. "...There was naturally concern that these undead drained levels or aged their targets, but, as it turned out, they instead permanently drained Charisma..."

    Interesting. What happens if a character reaches zero charisma? In RQ (III only, I think) Sorcerers had the spell "Tap" available, which allowed them to steal characteristic points, including (including Appearance) from a victim. Reducing any stat to zero, IIRC, killed the character, so it was possible to "ugly" a character to death.

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  3. I'm often reminded of the many mistakes I made in the past... although since the vast majority of my previous campaigns were in my teens... I suppose I can be forgiven.

    Finding a high level NPC was NEVER a problem, no matter how small or quaint the village. I had archmages rubbing elbows with stable boys at "the local inn." Follies of youth I guess...

    I'll be interested to hear just how important that point of CHA ends up being to Brother Candor...

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  4. I'm also curious about charisma drain, because I need reminding of what charisma means in the LL/LBB game you're running. AFAICT a character's level reflects their experience, confidence and dramatic weight - their ability to get stuff done - while charisma is the face they put on, their ability to communicate their importance to others. I'm having a hard time decoupling the two (even though they're explicitly mechanically decoupled in D&D): if you lose charisma, do you suddenly present yourself less confidently, without actually being less confident?

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  5. I'm interested in your theories as to whether you make an NPC available if the PCs go looking or if this is something they're going to have to suck up and move on.

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  6. cosign Nick's comment! These posts are like rocket fuel for my own sandbox game. James, any chance you would post that character sheet in pdf format? I would like to see how you arrange things.

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  7. Interesting. What happens if a character reaches zero charisma?

    Using shadows in OD&D as a model, loss of all points in a given ability kills the character and he rises again as another example of the creature in question.

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  8. I'll be interested to hear just how important that point of CHA ends up being to Brother Candor...

    It'll be interesting to see if his player decides to do anything about the Charisma loss or just accept it as another example of the Lady's fickle favor.

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  9. I'm also curious about charisma drain, because I need reminding of what charisma means in the LL/LBB game you're running. AFAICT a character's level reflects their experience, confidence and dramatic weight - their ability to get stuff done - while charisma is the face they put on, their ability to communicate their importance to others. I'm having a hard time decoupling the two (even though they're explicitly mechanically decoupled in D&D): if you lose charisma, do you suddenly present yourself less confidently, without actually being less confident?

    Charisma, as I interpret it, is a combination of one's innate personal magnetism and external factors that contribute to it. So, a high score may represent someone who's simply powerfully magnetic or it could represent someone who's reasonably magnetic but also physically attractive or any combination of those things. Like Wisdom, it's a very vague, catch-all ability score.

    Mechanically, Charisma as I use it affects reactions from NPCs, the ability to attract henchmen, and the loyalty of same. Candor's loss means that, for example, his henchman Gaztea has a lower Morale score and is thus more apt to run away during difficult situations.

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  10. I'm interested in your theories as to whether you make an NPC available if the PCs go looking or if this is something they're going to have to suck up and move on.

    Me too! :)

    More seriously, I have no idea how I'll handle this when/if they decide to seek out a high-level cleric. My suspicion is that I'd provide them with rumors/legends of such a powerful character and then let them follow them, along the way deciding whether or not there was any truth to them. I try very hard not to predetermine answers to things in the campaign and this question is no different.

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  11. James, any chance you would post that character sheet in pdf format? I would like to see how you arrange things.

    I can arrange to do that. Give me a couple of days.

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  12. More Hirst Arts pics please :)

    I'll do my best to oblige you. Last session, we were so focused on mapping and there were so few combats that I got lazy and didn't lay out the whole thing in miniature, so there wasn't much to photograph for the blog.

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  13. @JJ: The character sheet is available in jpg back in this entry, but perhaps our host will be kind enough to add a pdf version as well.

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  14. Could you post stats for the skeleton golem and the charisma draining undead?

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  15. Could you post stats for the skeleton golem and the charisma draining undead?

    I'll likely do so at some point.

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