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Campaign Journal

by Bouv

So I have convinced my girlfriend to play some classic D&D (and we're working on getting more people together). What I did is started with "The Red Box" and expanded from there. I placed the town northeast of Specularum and am using Bargle as the main villian. The party is first sent to the "Borgov" manor (aka the ruined castle) to track down Bargle - I included two more levels (the 4th being home to a powerful lich which is frozen....a challenge for a later day) and a red dragon (to be tackled later). Since Bargle escapes, the PC's are going to be tasked with tracking him down. This will lead them (in order, so far) through: Eye of Traldar, The Jade Hare, The Dymrak Dread, Palace of the Silver Princess, Keep on the Borderlands, In Search of Unknown (I'm moving its location), Horror on the Hill, King's Festival, Queen's Harvest, Rahasia, and The Veiled Society. Bargle will keep escaping them the entire time. I'm hoping the final adventure (at some point) will have them stopping Bargle from becoming a lich or something along those lines.

My girlfriend also wrote in the background of a missing brother (nice, plot thread!) and I'm using Sargon (from Ghost of Lion Castle) as a recurring plot thread and Bargle's mentor, Marcus. I don't want to plan out too far ahead as I'm not sure where the campaign will really go (most of the people will be novice players). And yes, I'm using the classic D&D rules!

I just hope the players don't get too frustrated at Bargle escaping them at every turn

Yeah I was thinking of that. Except for the first adventure, they will always be "one step behind" so to speak. In the Caves of Chaos, he will have already left (discovering that the cult was planning to use him as a sacrifice) and Marcus will recognize that Bargle will be an excellent pawn in his schemes. After a while, as the party gains in levels, Bargle will become less and less of the focus until the end when he starts reappearing.

Right now, my plan is to go:

Home-made adventure
Eye of Traldar
Jade Hare
Dymrak Dread
Palace of the Silver Princess
Keep on the Borderlands
In Search of Unknown

After that I'm not too sure, I'm still trying to figure out what the best order would be, depending on where in Karameikos I deposit them. I dont' want to get too far ahead though since I want to change some monsters around depending on what levels the characters get. I also have to incorporate how Bargle is going to fit into more of the modules.

Yeah though thankfully the Jade Hare is also generic enough that it can fit most anywhere. I putting it near the the Dymrak Forest on Eastron Road. One reason to invstigate is it "may' be Bargle but the guy will end up being a fellow student of his (Marcus, a NPC was their teacher). If he isn't killed then he will end up trying to team up with Bargle.

Marcus is going to end up being a former student of Sargon (whom he killed) from BSOLO Ghost of Lion Castle (I ran my girlfriend through a modified verison of it and she has his ring, which Marcus will recognize when they meet up with him).

We had our first official session last night - my girlfriend is a cleric, her brother is a magic-user and his girlfriend is an elf. They did pretty good, the "worst" part was mapping. I'm thinking of dropping that since a lot of time was spent making sure the map was correct (as these guys are all new so I wanted ot make sure they had a good map to work from). I'm thinking of just blowing up the maps and revealing them as they go.

Overall, they had a good time and we actually finished up this morning. We kept it pretty light - They know they are in Karameikos but their backgrounds are pretty light to begin with. I'm hopefully planning on letting them know about the immortals in our next session, building up more background on the campaign.

They actually made out pretty good, even with random rolls, for treasure. Most are just 1 xp away from 3rd level! They got a lot of gold but not an overabundance of magical items (some scrolls, some potions, a ring of protection +1, 10 quarrels +1 and an elven cloak). They got low on hip points a couple times (even having to invoke the -10 = dead rule to keep two alive at certain points).

My cousin's husband is going to join us and hopefully he'll play a thief (he has said he's considering it already so that would be handy). I had to modify some traps and secret doors so that had a chance to actually find them withtou a thief being there).

My next step is to go through DDA3 Eye of Taladrar. Wygar (NPC - he's the fighter you first play in the Red Box) will go off to continue tracking down Barlge so I can use Stefan for the NPC fighter (don't want too may NPC's hogging all the glory!). He'll be with them through that, The Jade Hare and The Dymrak Dread. I think for the B3 Palace, there will be no fighter (not too sure if I'm still going to play through that one, going to see how the campaign is going).

I've laid some plot and subplot seeds already. My own mystery of the Borgovs (who once lived in the ruined castle in the Red Box). Marcus has been mentioned (Bargle's mentor/teacher). In DDA3 I'm going to get some Fort Doom subplots going (the party may or may not be too involved, haven't decided but stuff with happen with Fort Doom).

So the girlfriend and I had a game night with my cousin and her husband on Friday and they rolled up two characters for my campaign. She is going to play another elf and he is going to play a thief. Since we have run an adventure, I set them both at Level 2 and they should be pretty close to level 3 by the end of the next adventure, which will be nice, since they will put everyone just about even for XP.

So far my party has:

2 Elves

My NPC fighter, Wygar, will be leaving them for a bit since the campaign won't take them directly to Bargle anytime soon. In his place will be the NPC from DDA3 who will stick around for that, The Jade Hare, and DDA4. They'll probably play (if I still run it) B3 without a fighter and Wygar will rejoin them for a bit for B2 and some beyond.

I'm glad Tom decided to play a thief since that means I can actually put traps back into some of the dungeons!

Played the second full adventure for the campaign, DDA3 Eye of Traldar with everyone (5 PC's and an NPC). I began them in a small town north of Specularum and they wanted to head towards the Castellan Keep (B2) but bridges out meant that they had to go around, the long way. There they ran into Alexi (NPC plot hook from DDA3) and had to do combat on the roadside. The next morning, they head out but, not really wanting to run 2 NPC fighters (I want them to do as much of the stuff as possible) Wygar (the first one, introduced in the Basic Set) sets out for the Keep and will meet up with them later.

The Party heads to Luln and while going into the shop (where the Thief was also going in too) they were ambushed by more agents of the Black Eagle Barony/Fort Doom! They met up with their contacts and slip into Fort Doom and into some minor dungeons beneth. Here they got good - the Theif and Elf #1 kept sneaking ahead to check out rooms. Elf#1 also made a "glow stick" - she cast continual light onto a torch. Clever thinking! They didn't explore the whole of the mini-dungeon since the path they took them where they needed to head. The Thief was able to pick the next lock which meant they had surprise in the cell level. They took out the torturer and freed prisoners and hostages (extra XP). They didn't find a hidden ring (had they searched one more time they would have found it, I tried hinting at it).

After the first group of prisoners/hostages were freed, they located Elf#2 and were able to retrive her belonings and free more prisoners. I had to use the NPC Fighter (Alexi) to suggest that they dress up like guards before they go up into the keep in order to help fool the soldiers stationed there. They did good up there able to capture an NPC and get info on where they needed to go. Tehy were able to help an NPC who was forced to work and finally retrieve the Eye of Traldar and escape back to Luln.

They had some good role-playing tossed in there (they are still learning) - the Cleric gave "last rites" to an NPC contact that had been killed, thinking outside the box, etc. They are getting better at actually searching rooms (before it was just "loot the bodies!" though they do leave a lot of equipment, some of it magical).

In the end, they ended up with a lot of trinkets, minor jewerly, money and some gems. They picked up a spellbook, a couple scrolls, a short sword +1, ring of protection+1, ring of fire restistance, and a lot of potions. The Thief was happy because they found some posion for his blowgun (and he made good use of his bola). They also (thanks to a random die roll) 6 potions of delusion!

Overall, they had a good time. I tried something different with the mapping - I put out the dungeon maps covered in post-its and depending on where they went, removed a posty. I'm going to have to do a bit more when it comes to covering up traps and stuff in the future through but they liked it and it worked out well. I'm thinking that in the future I'll do XP and treasure at the beginning of the next adventure, since that it was takes so long and email the group on how everything is split up. They are getting better at increasing their numbers on their own.

The next adventure will take place on their way to the Dymrak Dread (DDA4) - the Jade Hare (with connections to Bargle in it!)

Ran through The Jade Hare last night. It was good, made a for a quick adventure. I placed the setting near the Dymrak Forest (they went from Luln, after The Eye of Tradlar and found the Hare on their way to help out for the Dymrak Dread). The funny thing is, they all went over a trap and no one triggered it (1 on a 1d4) and pretty much found the path of least resistance to the Magic User in it (whom is going to having connections to Bargle via the same teacher). He was able to escape so after finding the treasure they went back and explored the rest of the dungeon. They had to fight a "minor" gargoyle which was their first experience with a "hit only by magical weapons" monster. They didn't realize this (and only have a couple magical weapons) but a few magic missiles took it down. Some good character actions (well we don't need a reward since we're lawful, we'll help the town out anyway; we interrogated a sleeping goblin we found so we will let him go, etc).

We're all set to play through the Dymrak Dread next time. Here I'm going to start leaving clues to The Queen's Harvest. After that I'm a bit stuck - do I want to run through Palace of the Silver Princess or not. I like the idea of it being someplace "seperate" so at the end they can be "transported" to their destination. However, I'm just not a fan of the adventure itself. I may do something similar with another adventure, any suggestions?

Well my plan is to run B2 next, followed by a quick B1 (it will lead to a portal to a major NPC) and then they will be dropped near B10. However, I want to re-read it but I'm thinking of running Rahasia before B2, similar to B3 in that they get "zapped" to another place by Immortals and then zapped back but at B2. It will also be a good way to introduce the PC's to the Immortals of Mystara.

Just got back from tonight's session, pretty good, the party is getting better at working together and using their skill sets (the thief slowly opened a door and used his blow gun to knock out one of the goblins before the party attacked).

Ran through DDA4 the Dymrak Dread. This will be Alexi's last outing with the PC's and they will be fighterless until they meet up with Wygar again (the fighter introduced in the Basic Rules). I kept the module pretty much as it but added a couple features. The wraith in the bottom level was making noise (otherwise, the party might not have ever opened the coffin), I tossed in a thoul, and there was a letter from "The Queen" (from Queen's Harvest) asking for the Dread to join up with her (thus adding more plot threads and connections). Once again, they surprise me - instead of completely tackling top level, they instantly go down to level II (which, in this case, is just a side part for more treasure).

I'm thinking that my next module will be Rahasia modified. The PC's will notice things wrong with the forest and eventually make their way there. However, they've actually been transported by an immortal to help the elves out and at the end will be transported to the Castellan Keep to run through some B2 action (with the Chaos Cult & Bargle, more connections to the Queen, etc). Coming along nicely!

One thing I have to start doing now is modifying magical items to fit the players and the campaign. The magic-user (4th Level) only has a ring of protection +1 (and he has become quite good as his sling!). My thief uses slings, bolas, blowguns (with knock-out posion till he can get some real poison), and a net. Our cleric has a couple warhammers. But they are having a good time ("LOOT THE BODIES!")

So my plan is to run Rahasia and make connections with the other plot threads I have going. Currently, my plot is straighforward:

Go capture Bargle

However, they have been "side treked" with other adventures with their own plots. Within those, I've started weaving some subplots that will hopefully rise up in B12 and B10.

Iron Ring Slavers - they've met a few in Eye of Traldar but haven't had too much more contact with them. Rahasia will have a dual-agent - working for both the Queen and the IRS. There will also be some threads elsewhere to them, to be devolped until the big showdown in B10. IRS is somewhat aware of the PC's because of their actions in Fort Doom

The Queen - I figure if someone is raising an army of humanoids, there is going to be some evidence of it around. In The Dymrak Dread the PC's found a letter from the Queen asking to join his forces with her. Rahasia will also have that in the dual-agent. In B2, one of the humanoid tribes will have a similar letter hidden about. At the end of B1, the PC's will be transported to the tower of Marcus LaFarge, Bargle's & Abu-Ghabar's (from The Jade Hare)'s teacher. He will let them know he told Bargle to search out the Queen to offer his assistance (mainly because he's too busy to care and never really liked his pupils).

Marcus LaFarge - I'm gearing him up to be a major NPC baddie. Bargle's teacher, he has plots of his own going on. Ends up he was a pupil of Sargon's (from Ghost of Lion Castle) and is the one responsible for his death and the disappereance of the castle (he was trying to gain Sargon's power but didn't realize Sargon had plans in place just in case). He will notice the ring my cleric got from running through that adventure and become more interested (not to their knowledge) of the party.

The Veiled Society - This is a bit off right now but Bargle will end up "joining" this group for the Queen on her behalf to see if they can assist her in her plans. This will be where Bargle is during the confrontation with the Queen.

Fort Doom - stuff will happen but slowly. Fort Doom is aware of the PC's but isn't taking any action currently against them

Played for a few hours this morning/afternoon. We didn't finish but started B7 Rahasia.

I modified the module ever so slightly. First off, while they didn't know it, the elven village is actually protected by an Immortal, keeping it hidden from outside sources. However, the Queen (from B12) figured out ways to weaken the protection and the Rahib is her agent there (and also working for the Iron Ring slavers). He was there specifically looking for the Black Opal Eye. And thus, the characters come in.

They were quick to pick up on a couple things. They didn't bother to explore all the first floor of the temple initially and went right down to the second floor. While they did kill some elves, they tried to capture some since they know they are now doing it on their own free will. The cleric entered one of the hidden transports (which, thankfully, popped her out in a swamp instead of deeper in the dungeon). She eventually was able to meet back up with the party. Since then, they throw rocks into areas that might have portals to see if they would disappear or not. It worked well. They fought and defeated the bone golem in one room (this was a tough monster for them, even at 3rd level - four armed, 1d8 per arm, low THAC0). Two of their numbers went down (but not killed) easily so they quickly healed them and pulled them out of the room. After seeing they were pursued, they fired arrows and slings at it and defeated it that way! They also disgused themselves as the temple attendents and that worked out well too. They defeated the Rahib (after putting him to sleep and capturing him! They brought him to the snake guardian). In one of the libraries, I put a letter in from "the Queen" laying out his mission (aka plot threads).

They went down to the next level and found success. That's where we left off. Overall, they did a great job. Defeated a couple though monsters, picked up three NPC's to help them (an Elf, Magic-User, and a fighter from Ylarum). They figured out quickly a few things (walking backwards through an illusion, drinking the wine to get hints and thinking that the wine bottles mean something). Definately giving them props for starting to think outside the box.

So thinking things through with Bargle, here is what I see happening:

Escaped the PC's in thefirst adventure
Tried joining up with the Cult of Chaos in B2 but realized they were more interested in sacrificing him than having him as an ally (BTW, the cult are going to be speciality priests of Thanatos)
Met back up with his teacher, Marcus, who had him work for The Queen (kind of as his spy)
The Queen sends him onto Specularum to be her eyes and ears in the Veiled Society and see if they can assist her (he will learn of her defeat by the PC's and pretty much leave).
He will then head to Fort Doom and become the Court Wizard as seen in the Gazeeters. The PC's will then have to tread lightly with him from there on out ("diplomatic immunity"). However, they will assist in the fall of Fort Doom and may be able to get Bargle then. We'll see how it turns out.

They've actually only encountered him once when he escaped. Right now Bargle is unaware that he is being pursued though after the Queen falls and he realizes it's the same PC's who chased him, he will realize it and thus actually go to the Black Eagle Baroney to get the "diplomatic" immunity (he knows the PC's would be hard pressed to try to pursue him there!). However, at that point, he will begin to keep an eye on them anyway he can (I've kept him 1-3 levels higher than the PC's at this time).

Finished up B7 Rahasia on Friday night. They only had a couple levels left to finish it off. They started off pretty bad - the thief and magic-user were turned into statues by going into the wrong entrance. That left two elves and the cleric (and a boatload of NPC's that they had liberated who were helping them). They did good, looking around for stuff. I thought the cleric was about to figure something out but didn't quite. They got ambushed by one of the possed elven maidens. They also wanted to destroy the Black Opal Eye (needed to complete the mission - they thought that would restore their allies from statue form). However, they got good. They kept testing difference entrances by shooting arrows to make sure they were safe (I ruled that anything passing through the arches would turn into a metal statue so their arrows did when fired through).

They were able to finish (and actually took the path of least resistance towards the end). The maze they ALMOST had the numbers on the bottles of wine figured out (the correct route). They kept getting sidetracked though because one was named "Purple Grapesmash No. 3" and they thought the No.3 there meant something. Our cleric took the worst possible route, ended up in the arena, by herself, facing a green dragon (and down to 5 hit points). She won iniative and RAN for the opposite end and was transported out.

But they succeeded and "saved the day". I had Eriy...something, an Elven immortal, thank them and transported them all the way to the Castellan Keep for the Keep on the Borderlands adventure.

We played last Friday and it went well. The PC's explored a bit of the Keep on the Borderlands, talking with some locals and hearing some rumors. While no one new where the Caves of Chaos were per say, just somewhere to the East. The PC's studied the local wilderness maps and the theif was able to figure out, due to contour lines, where the caves were located. They cleared out the kobold cave first and then went into the goblin cave. However, the goblins were able to summon the orge so that turned into a hard battle but also told the PC's where to look for the secret door there! Exploring further, the found a room full of all sorts of goblins and ended up torching it! They had to make a hasty retreat or be overcome with fumes!

That ended the session for the night, with them heading back to the road to rest.

We played Part 2 of the Caves of Chaos last Friday and it went pretty well. The PC's picked up where they left off and headed into the first Orc cave (B area). They ran into some trouble when they fought 12 male and 18 female orcs (the elf had to retreat to heal her wounds) but once the males were defeated, the females surrendered. Not knowing what to do (and with them claiming they'll be helpful...the party didn't believe it), the theif (Pyke) had some knock-out posion for his darts and was able to use that on the females. They took the 9 youngins' and locked them in the storage room. After defeating the chieftan, they burned his room (tapestries, old furinture). They then began exploring the hobgoblin area and were able to free the slaves.

Since they had prisoners to return, they decided to return to the Keep and realized they may need to hire some NPC's to help them haul the treasure and such. I believe this will be a good time to have "Father Argile" join the party (he's the Cult of Chaos priest as the Keep. I adjusted his story - he actually was once good but touched the goblets and is now a servent of Chaos, speficially Thanatos (whom the cult worships).

So I've prepared B1 for the adventurers. What I've done is connected it to the Caves of Chaos (B2) via the blocked off entrance. Being it was suppose to be for a wizard and his allies, I've put more non-living defenses into it - living statues, golems, and gargoyles, along with undead. The bottom level is where the PC's are trying to get to in order to find a teleporter to Bargle's first teacher, Marcus. In the second level I made the trodlytes into a mini-society and made another lake (with river) in there for them. Tossed in some giant spiders, shriekers, and piecers and it has come together nicely.

Had another session on Friday night and it went well. The party started by hiring a couple men-at-arms (that they had rescue) for the rate of 2 gp/week as guards for their horse & carts. They then wanted to hire some horses and wagons so, not seeing a chart, I said (and this is a lot but they can afford it) 75 gp/week - includes horses, cart, tenders, food, supplies, etc. They loaded one up with lantern oil to help burn out parts of the cave.

They went back, finished searching a couple spots they hadn't gone through before but were sure were empty and then cleaned up the hobgoblin cave (which worked out well, they were all hiding in the secret areas). They cleaned out the gnolls (including a cursed sword!). More references to "The Queen" (including her creations, the thouls!) from B12. Ended the night with them going back to their campsite (since the horse & cart people don't want to camp by the caves).

I'm hoping by next session we can finish up the Caves of Chaos and head to B1 (my modified) to meet Marcus for the first time.

Wow, it's been almost 2 months since we last played!

Well we're planning on Friday to run another session and to finish off Keep on the Borderlands. The PC's still have to confront the Chaos Cult, minotaur, and owlbear. I've added in a thoul or two plus a bunch of creeping claws to the Chaos Cult (will crawl along the ceiling and drop down on the PC's!).

We (mostly) finished up the Caves of Chaos/Keep on the Borderlands last night. Overall, it went really well, they engaged the Chaos cult. My finance's brother brought his new girlfriend. I had made up some characters for her to chose from (and told her if she wanted to continue playing and make her own character, she could). Since the PC's were camping out on the trade road, I had her run into them in the morning.

They started out in the right cave for the Cult and first encountered their "defenses" - I added some crawling claws to the tunnels and had them drop from the ceiling. They encountered the first group of acolytes and my fiance (the Cleric) tried parlaying with them. They discovered their master is Thanatos (since we're on Mystara) and are using scythes as weapons. One did surrender and they went off and found the guest champers, with a giant scorpion. That's were Bargle was staying and he left it there as a surprise to the Cultists since he knoew they were crazy and would kill him. They also found a note from Bargle. The killed the torturer (who first friegned being a captive to sneak attack them), the geleantious cube, the wight, and finally the medusa (who turned the cleric to stone! But thankfully she had the antidote on her so once she was dead, the PC's tried it and it worked!)

They went into the temple and did some cool stuff - the cleric tried putting her holy symbol on the altar so I said it flew off. They wanted holy water to bless it too. Thankfully, they didn't take any of the items (since they turn PC's evil! That's my excuse as to why the priest in town worked for the temple). The killed the next set of acolytes (where the cleric was blinded by a Light spell). They destroyed all the zombies and skeletons (which took a while - the turn only destroyed 2 (out of 20) skeletons and 5 (out of 20) zombies. Some low rolls (this would be the theme of the night).

They went into the bigger temple area, started destorying and burning stuff and encountered the head priest who came to investigate. They lucked out and the blind cleric cast hold person on him and he failed his saving throw so they killed him and looted his stuff (since it was getting really late, didn't have more zombies there so they could finish off. They looted the place and found the collasped tunnel (which will lead to the next dungeon and where Bargle disappeared to).

Next session I'll finish off back at the Keep (sell stuff they got, resupply and equip) and head to the hidden dungeon (my modified dungeons from B1).

So the theme of the night was low die rolls. The NPC fighter, Wygar (that fighter from the Red Box solo adventure) didn't hit ANYTHING till the 5th or 6th fight! The other PC's had some low to-hit or damage rolls (yet the monsters were doing well!). And my fiance' (the cleric) got the brunt of bad stuff - she get the first crawling claw on her face, turned to stone, blinded by Light, and kept getting lied to every time she tried to talk to NPCs (granted they are an evil group of Cultists).

The PC's never encountered the owl-bear or the minotaur, but that's ok. And at the end of the night I was like "no, we're not done, we just have to do one more thing" - I wanted them to find the collapsed passage so the next time we could go onto the next part. So I did A LOT of railroading in the last five minutes to just get them to that one spot (and had to remind them of the letter they found). But they had a good time, I can't wait for next time. Some kid gloves come off in B1 (molds, slimes, rust monsters, "living" plants, golems and living statues!

Due to time constraints, we only played for a couple hours on Friday. They've decided to keep the Helm in order to maybe "interrogate" a future captive (thinking if they are now good, they'd be more willing to talk and help). They traveled underground a couple miles before getting to the maps from B1. They focused mainly (without knowing, as I didn't put a map out for them) on the left hand side and upper areas. In the garden, I added a lot of the veggie creatures from Creature Crucible and they had to retreat, though not without trying to burn them up (one flask of oil wasn't going to do it). They then went to the upper areas where they ALMOST got stuck in some of the loops and mazes around there. The NPC, Wygar, did fall into the one trap (since he's the fighter so he's head of the marching order).

This made for a slightly boring session as there wasn't many combat or other types of encounters (I didn't realize when I filled out the rooms that most everything ended up on the right hand side of the map!). Our thief was in a mood since he couldn't see the map (I didn't want to put one out since everything is so packed tight together it's tough to hide the stuff they can't see). The new player (g/f of my finance's brother) just started packing up stuff and told him they were leaving. I guess the 18 year old was tired and couldn't be up past 10pm on a Friday night (which didn't make the rest of us happy about that! They were just getting to all the encounters).

Some good did come out of this session. The thief decided to mark the walls where there were doors or turns they took so they helped them figure out they were getting turned around and in maze-type areas. The elf, in the veggie combat area, turned invisible and just start emptying a flask of oil about, hoping to burn everything. They learned that sometimes it is better to run away than stay and fight. I think next week we will continue (in my new house). We may try doing Castle Ravenloft for a session, just to help get the new girl into playing (since that has minatures and maps and helps new people visualize what is going on).

I had half the group "finish up" B1 Friday night. I kind of made it quick, instead of my original plan since 2 of the players weren't there and we're sure they're not coming back (more on that later!) so I had to "get rid" of their PC's. The group fought a couple gargoyles and an obsidan golem in the magic-user's study area. Instead of level II of the dungeon, I put a teleport gate there which the PC's used (though they were worried since they saw scorch marks on the wall and thought it was a fire trap of somesort).

After being teleported out, they ended up in a wizard's tower - Marcus, whom I've determined is the first teacher of Bargle. He gave them more hints and then teleported them away to the town B11 takes place in. It was here I was able to teleport away the other two PC's that aren't coming back and if they do, their not dead, just someplace else. They did some town stuff and next will run King's Festival.

So as for the two players. As I mentioned, my future brother-in-law is "dating" an 18 year old (they are to be married in June...ugh and have barely known each other a year). She seemed very disinterested in the game the first time she played, doing "cutesy" things with him most of the time instead and just announcing that they were leaving at one point. So we've pretty much written them out of the game (as everytime we've invited them over, they are always busy) Well this weekend, the brother was talking to another player and asked when we were going to game again. ARGH! :head on wall, head on wall:

Had another session last night with our neighbor joining us, playing a magic user (I averaged all the XP and determined he was 4th level). He's a bit nervous about playing but overall did pretty well.

So they were left off in Stallanford (setting B11 King's Festival) and had visited the town a bit and the cleric had talked to Father Aralic (the catalyst for the adventure). The next day I started the festival off in full swing, they got to visit different vendors (Glantrian book seller, who had a couple spellbooks and some scrolls which the elf and magic-user bought), dwarven smiths (cleric bought two masterwork throwing hammers and the elf bought some masterwork bolts), and an alchemist that had "love potions, brain tonics, and vitality drinks" for sale, along with a potion of super-healing and some posion (that the thief bought). The elf visited the seer for a true fortune (100gp and a vial of blood!). They enjoyed it (even if I took ideas from a current game I'm playing in!) The next day they discovered Father Aralic had been kidnapped.

So they headed out and I had rolled some random encounters ahead of time. They fought some draco lizards, then a decapus (I love that creature!) before making it to the caves. Instead of the standard orcs in the caves, I instead made them gnolls (so they would be more challenging) with xvarts helping them. Before they stopped, they almost cleared out the entire first level, including some giant ferrets and more lizards. They then killed off the bugbear emissary (who had some Broken Ones as bodyguards) who had a note from "The Queen" (B12 - I've been laying hints down she's been building to something). Overall, not a bad night! We had a good 3 hours worth of actual gaming in!

The party finished off the first level of the dungeon last night and were able to rescue Father Aleric. They started by going to the gnoll barracks and almost getting themselves killed. The elf in the party tried to open the door to the barracks "silently" (they knew it was occupied since the thief had listened to it). However, the doors are old, large, and in dank dungeons so they creak when they opened so neither side was surprised. The elf was at the front of combat with the cleric, fighter, and magic-user joining her! The cleric was taken down to 0 hit points at one point, the magic-user and elf got pretty low as well. I think it was a slight learning lesson for the group - the magic-user should stand back when he can and shoot sling rocks.

They then went up to the gnoll lieutentent's room and fought him and a couple giant spiders he had as pets. The rescued the halfing there (though they were suspicous of him). Almost giving up since they hadn't found the secret door, they decided to do a thorough search (since I told them the areas they had searched). The magic-user debated casting "Locate Object" to help but goot too analytical with himself and never did. However, they finally did find the secret door. The thief started exploring and was able to surprise another gnoll lieutenant (he failed his move silently roll but had on an elven cloak). He was able to kill the gnoll solo. However, he did fail to notice the pit trap and fell and took some damage there.

Finally, the party came to the throne room and opened the door. Though they lost iniative, the gnolls were at the opposite end and weren't able to make it to the party in one round (though the wotan did cast magic missile). The magic-user then used his wand of fireballs and just launched one into the room and cleared it out (doing 26 points of damage - the only creatures that made their saves had only 6 ppints to begin with!). I was worried they would do the same when they opened the door to Father Aleric but didn't. They were able to rescue him, clear out the chief's bedchamber (missing the spellbook though) and finding the secret door behind the throne. They found the gnoll women and children and debated what to do. I had Father Aleric tell them if they are brought back to town, they would be tried, found guilty and killed. Others wanted to kill them there but the cleric debated against killing them and just letting them go (extra XP there!)

So the party made it back to town (chosing to ignore some robber flys eating a deer carcas) and were celebrated. They did some good role-playing and learned to be better prepared when opening doors and such.

I hope they go back and fight the evil cleric (who will have a note from The Queen). I also added a third dungeon level (from the 1e DM's guide) with some undead fun in it

The team went back into the gnoll cavern last night and explored the second level. I beefed it up a bit - added in more creatures (ugh, had to roll combat for three carrion crawlers at once - 24 attacks a round!) and some surprised creatures - elder ghouls from the creature catalog, crawling claws from the Monsterous Manual, more thouls, ju-ju zombies, and blackbone skeletons and skeletons warriors from the Basic Fantasy creature book. The ghouls and carrion crawlers caused the mosnt problems with their paralyzation (and almost had some TPK because of it but I allowed other saving throws to shake it off). The cleric offered some challenges. He started with hold person (all made their saving throws), tried silence (saving throws again) then cast striking on his scythe (since he worships Thanatos) but kept getting single digits on his attack rolls! The cleric (who fell into a pit so was limited in what she could do) threw some hammers at him and used her staff of healing on party members (when they got close to the pit).

Once he was down, the explored some more (and almost went into the third level before finding the treasure). They did go down but decided to camp the night outside (and I rolled a random encounter for oil bettles). They finished off level 2 and, due to low hit points, decided to head back to town to rest up. I did lay down hints about what was in the lower level (the cleric believed it was a temple of Kyuss and was planning on using the knowledge in it to help The Queen). I filled the bottom level with standard undead plus some insect type creatures, Sons of Kyuss, and mummies. Should be interesting.

On Friday the party decided to start exploring the third level, the temple of Kyuss. They hired on another cleric from the temple for additional healing support. They explored the beginnings of the third level and early on found the secret door they needed. They took out some minor undead and actually, unknowingly, made a beeline towards the treasure room! After that, they encountered the first of the Sons of Kyuss (love these creatures!). They then discovered the mummy chambers and the magic-user discovered he shouldn't be the one to open tombs. The mummys did hurt them but they were able to recover. They did a bit more exploring and found another exit to the surface and some old offices. They headed back to town to cash in their treasure (and everyone will level up!) They have a bit left to explore.

After they finish off this last bit of the dungeon, I'm going to lay down hints for a giants storyline and then finish off a bunch of their arcs with B12 (facing the Queen, discovering what happens with Bargle).

Alright, they finally finished up B11, with my add-ons. They fought a lot of Sons of Kyuss, though I kept forgotting all they could do and so I didn't run them 100% correctly till the last encounter, which proved to be a toughie for the players. Only 2 people made their save vs. fear (the elf and the NPC fighter). However, the elf didn't run, despite the hints from the fighter. Finally, she did, the players regrouped, went back to the library they had kinda just skimmed over and found out how to defeat them. On the way back, they fought a few stone giants and cave bears (thus planting some seeds for a later storyline using the giant series from the Basic Fantasy RPG website).

I think the PC's learned some good lessons - retreating is ok (the elf wouldn't retreat 'cause her husband was worried they would get attacks of opportunity on her despite the fact they kept regening and getting back up). They also learned to read up on stuff they find and not be afraid to get creative (the elf, who is getting bold, reached her hand into a barrel of stagnent water and was attacked by green slime. Her husband, the thief, gave her a potion of gaseous form).

Overall, very good. Next I'll finish up the Queen storyline from B12, show clues as to what happened with Bargle and lay the seeds for what's coming next (they're getting up to Expert level so the challenges are getting tougher).

Alright, finishing up one of the story-arcs shortly, we started B12 Queen's Harvest. Early on I started planting hints about the Queen and now the party is getting ready to face her! They went into the basement, though I had to beef up the challenges in it. They did pretty well but were almost wiped out by the NPC party. The PC's were too sure if they were allies or not but thankfully, with their surprise round, the elf webbed the magic-user and fighter and the rest were able to take out the dwarf and cleric (who was only able to "hold" our cleric!)

They did good, they know now who the Queen is and where to find her. Made some good contacts (Father Alaric, the baron of Threshold, and more!). I'm going to plan, possibly, for Father Alaric to go insane or something. He may get corrupted by the temple of Kyuss as he is in the processing of cleansing the evil from it.

I'm thinking that after B12, running a modified B10, Night's Dark Terror. I'm going to focus more on the Iron Ring Slavers aspect because 1. they party has encountered them before and 2. I plan on doing some big plot stuff with them as well. So none of the goblin attacks (my PCs are 5th+ level), none of the hidden valley stuff either. I'll have to beef up some of the encounters and changed a couple things around but it should work (being hired from the get go to find missing people).

I want to run the Giant-series from the Basic Fantasy RPG (already laid down the seeds), do more with the Black Eagle Baroney, run Lost Caverns and more. Going through B10 again I'm just going to use one of the encounters to introduce another villian for the PC's (with close personal ties to them!)

Had a quick session last night. The party was updated on where they where and what their new mission is (take down the Queen!). They were given a pack mule with some tents, torches, oil, rations, and a couple lanterns to help them out. Using the crude map they were given, they slowly found the keep and began to sneak up on it but realized (since it was told to them earlier) that a frontal assualt would be suicide. They went off on one of the game trails they found and the thief (using elven cloak and boots) saw some trolls with some dead deer head into a cave. Switching his boots and cloak with the elf, she went in with her infravision (going in I rolled a 1 for her boots so the trolls could hear her but not see her. When she was going out, I rolled a 1 on her cloak so they saw her but couldn't hear her!) I gave the PC's a "free" round to get ready since the elf was able to get out of the cave and warn them. The elf used her wand of cold to hit the trolls (though most made their saving throw). Our cleric used hold person on them (since they are "humaniods" though the extreme end of it) and so did their NPC cleric. They were able to defeat the trolls, raid their cave and set up camp for the night.

So that was all we got to do. Between my son (10 months) not wanting to sleep and our neighbor, the new magic-user, asking a lot of questions (some good, most not) it was a slow night. Our neighbor drinks and usually has between 2-5 beers/hard ciders when he comes over. Add to that he isn't very experienced with the game and tends not to pay attention, three different times I had to tell him what the mission was. He also had good questions, trying to figure out what spells he should memorize for the day, etc. Then both he and the elf had a hard time understanding that using a fireball would not be a good idea since at the very least, the elf would get caught up in the explosion. And though it was all random (random encounter, I rolled random treasure, etc), they did find the intelligent sword +4 too...

So since the PC's are getting close to the end of my first arc/"adventure path", I've been starting to figure out where to take them next. Overall, I think it's going to be more sandboxy, with more choices of where to go. I have a few Dungeon adventures I would like to run. So what I'm thinking is this:

Finish B12
Run Hrothgar's Resting Place (from Dungeon and takes place near where they are)
Ransom (Dungeon adventure in Karameikos - going to use this with Iron Ring Slavers)
and possibly Elexa's Endevor (from Dungeon)

After that, I'm planning that they can run through some Giant adventures (from the Basic Fantasy website) if they follow up on that lead, possibly some X-modules and more dungeon modules. I want them to meet back up with Marcus again (Bargle's teacher) and he will send them on some missions as well (for his own nefirious purposes). Some work well as a "stop here to rest for the night" scenarios.

So Friday we were able to finish up B12 and the Queen's main arc.

So the PC's finished exploring some old trails and found a cave with a secret entrance into the Keep. Entering the secret door, they found themselves in one of the rear battlements. The thief snuck up the stairs and tried to use poison darts on the gnolls up there. It made the save but they ended up arguing with each other and it came down the stairs surprising the thief! After a missed roll from the gnoll, the thief finished it off with the dead body falling on him. He then took down the second gnoll. The rest of the party then snuck in and (for reasons unknown to me...) decided to wait a few hours and the shift change finally came in (two bugbears) and since the party had split up (some on the second floor), it was the elf and NPC cleric vs. two bugbears. They did good.

They finally decided to sneak out and explore the Keep (it was getting dark now and overcast). They had some good role-playing with the orcish cooks in the kitchen. Opening the doors to most of the barracks, they either used the wand of fireballs or wand of cold to clear them out (and I beefed up a lot of the encounters too - hobgoblins instead of goblins, gnolls instead of orcs, added in some thouls, etc.). They did fight a the gnoll commanders and suffered a lot of hit point loss so they felt it would be best to retreat for the rest of the night (actually it was getting close to dawn), rest and heal up.

Deciding to rest till the following morning, the party snuck back in through the secret door (which hadn't been discovered yet) but did notice increased patrols in the Keep now. While the thief wanted to clear out the barracks again (in case of reinforcements), the rest of the party felt that the patrols were too risky so they kept to the back of the Keep, where they hadn't explored. Entering the first room they found a familiar face - the magic-user Abu-Ghabar, who had stolen the Jade Hare! Acting quickly the party took them down and, while Ghabar was killed, the fighter was captured alive. The PC's then discovered a secret door that lead down into the Keep's dungeons.

Heading down, the elf was surprised when the door she was listening at burst open with two owlbears came in and attack the party. As they were defeated, the other door burst open with four ogres! While they called for help, none came. The party explored a bit more, finding cells and storage chambers before entering a room with human guards who, while prepared, didn't seem to have any intention of helping the ogres. The thief continued to scout ahead and after calling the group down a long hallway, the NPC fighter fell into a pit trap, triggered by a warrior who appeared in a secret room behind them and sent his giant hunting lizards after the party!

Finally defeating them all, the party did eventually free a caged, naked female (there was some misunderstanding at first). Continuing back down the hallway, the PC's entered into a throne room where the Queen herself was, with her war dogs, wyrds, thouls, greater thouls, and her cleric of chaos. The party, though hurting, was able to engage them with their newfound ally turning in a weretiger and taking out the dogs. A blast of cold from the elf's wand hurt many of them and the cleric was held by the PC's own cleric. Defeating everyone but the Queen, she cursed them out and teleported away, but not before the elf was able to knock the Queen's sword out of her hand. The party captured the cleric, cleared out the treasure and snuck back out through the secret door, hoping that after a few days of no leadership, the remaining humaniods would eventually leave.

Had another session Friday night and wow - one combat and loads of role-playing. I couldn't find the fully prepped adventure I had planned (Hgother's Resting Place from Dungeon 25) so I ran Ransom instead (From Dungeon # 42 - I just switched the order I ran them).

The party returned with their two captives, treasure (minus some the weretigress took - mainly the silk rolls and some jewerly) to Kaerin in Penhaligon. They talked a lot about what to do next and what the Queen's next move might be - essentially a waiting game as she won't try the same thing twice (plus, many humanoids are going to be wary of joining with her now). They headed into town and did town stuff - the thief joined the local guild and the elf and cleric saw a commotion by the inn and investigated - a local lord's son had been kidnapped and adventurers were wanted to help out. Gathering up the party, they headed to the town hall where they met his advisor who claimed he actually wanted the adventurers to deliver the ransom to get the boy back.

The party headed north, met their contact and he led them to a burned out manor house where the rest of the kidnappers were and the boy. The boy opened the chest and out came lead and iron ignots! No ransom in there! Everyone felt betrayed and while the PC's wanted to talk, the kidnappers attacked for a few rounds before running off (but the PC's managed to capture the one I didn't want them to so I had to adjust on the fly. He was one the thief and elf thought looked familar). So they headed back, spent the night since it was late and reported to the advisor in the morning, quite upset though he claimed ignorance. He then pointed out that the cleric and captive looked a lot alike. Oh boy, that caused more of an uproar since the cleric wanted to know why he looked like her (well...a younger verison of her father). Since they were unsure of what was going on with him (magic? manupluation?) they wanted to let him go but the advsior said no, he had still broken the law by kidnapping the boy. So he was arrested, the party went & found a sage to identify all the loot from the Queen's keep and that's were we ended!

So what the cleric had done in her background was say her mom and brother were killed/captured by slavers. So those are the Iron Ring Slavers and that is her brother. Hehheheheheheh (evil DM laugh). We'll see where that takes us!

Saturday night we played again. And once again unpreppared (since what I wanted was at work). When I couldn't find it, I tried to find a backup and that was at work as well! ARGH! Thankfully, I had the adventure on my flash drive so I just put the laptop next to me and off we went. Ended up running "Lady of the Mists" from Dungeon #42.

The PC's decided to wait around the town for a week while the sage researched their items. In the downtime, they bought horses, practiced skills, and the magic using ones identified scrolls and the spellbook. Once they were geared up with their new stuff, they decided to head to Specularum to spend more of their hard-earned gold, hopefully finding some magical stuff. On the ride there, they heard a comotion behind them and a rider came charging by, a look of fear on his face. Thinking nothing of it, the PC's continued on.

The river turned into a small lake and they could see an island a few hundred feet off the shore, with some mists surrounding it and a lot of commotion from what seemed to be vultures. Coming into a small town, they saw about a dozen townsfolk all standing on the shore, watching the island. When asked what was going on, the PC's were told that a man had rode into town, threatened and demanded a boat and, despite warnings, headed to the island. It seems many try to go to the island but none ever come back. The PC's were a bit intruged so they were lead to the local tavern, where the owner knew more information. He said that, in fact, many did return from the island but not whole - talking about an abudance of statues, mists that seems to be alive, and dangerous hawks that attack. It seems hundreds of years ago a noble lived there till there was a tragedy one night. No one has successfully explored the ruins since. Sensing a chance for treasure and to figured out what is going on, the PC's said they would head over in the morning.

Once they reached the island, the PC's followed an ancient path, discovering a few statues and some skeletons, their bones picked clean. Finding a walkway that headed up the cliffside, the PC's followed it but were soon attacked by some hawks, coming down in waves. They were able to drive most of them away and further on the NPC fighter and the cleric almost fell when some boards gave way. Reaching the top, they followed another path and encountered more statues and their artists - an basilisk! Defeating it, the PC's made their way to the gates of the manor grounds but the mists around them seem to come alive and attack!

Finally making it inside, the PC's discovered a manor in ruins - collapsed cielings and what looked to be soot from an fire from long ago. They also kept encountering events playing out in the rooms, from the night of the tragedy it seemed. Exploring, they encountered some minor pests ghosts, giant spiders, and more flashbacks. Working their way to the third floor, they fought off a group of shadows and were able to piece more of the mystery together when an ancient letter was found. The thief encountered a spectre and lost a couple levels before the rest of the pary was able to put it down for good. He then found a way to shut down the mists. Making their way into a workshop, they found a slew of potions and chemicals and the crystal golem protecting them all! The elf discovered her magic was useless against it but the party was able to take it down.

And that's where we left off (at 1am!) So next time we'll be able to finish up on this and hopefully run Hgother's Resting Place! For not being prepped, it wasn't too bad. The players were definately digging the flashbacks and the mystery surrounduing the place.

So we finished up Lady of the Mists Saturday night. It was good, the PC's were able to find the Lady and get the story. In the meantime, they now have a telepathic tiger as a pet till it passes away. The best part though was they barged into a room and I described it, including a long, furry snake-like object on the floor. This was the tiger's chew toy. Well they were paranoid so they threw a net on it and both the cleric and elf tried attacking it (but both missed, rolling single digits!) As the rest of the party explored, I had the elf keep rolling saving throws after I rolled behind my screen...just to make her paranoid! It was great evil DM'ing!

Once they returned to town, they were told Kaerin from Penhaligon wanted to speak to them so they will be returning again!

Picked up where we left off Saturday night and was finally able to run Hgother's Resting Place. The PC's returned to Penhaligon and met a couple of friends of Kaerin's (Retameron & Halia from X12 Skarda's Mirror - a possible future adventure). He told them about the journal and map they had found and translated it and the location of the cave and possible intelligent sword was just south-east of Penhaligon. So the party rested and set out in the morning - stocking up on some climbing supplies. While they did, a crier rode into town announcing that Baron Hendricks (aka the Black Eagle) of Fort Doom had a new court magician (after some house clearing...which the PC's were partly responsible for) - Bargle! And was bethrothed to Illyana (aka The Queen from B12 who had escaped from the PC's). Needless to say, they were a bit shocked and wondered what to do but decided to head after the sword to keep it out of her hands.

They set off and the first random encounter I rolled was 3 (small) black dragons. I had the tiger sense something strange (smelling their acidic breath) so the party split a bit and went in three directions. Well the dragons attack where the Elf (Eve), my NPC fighter (Wygar) and the magic-user (neighbor) went. They attacked with their breath weapons but since the PC's went first, one only did 10 points of damage while the others each attacked the others (taking down the magic-user). The elf struggled on what to do - cast a fireball, use her wand of cold, cast mirror image, her sword, etc. I had placed the dragons so only 1 could be hit with the wand but two could be hit with a fireball, if done right. She chose the wand (I told her later mirror image would have been the best to protect her). The dragon she hit flew up in order to try to crush her but it missed and she killed it. The second dragon (who killed the magic-user) attacked her and rolled a natural 20 on his claw/claw/bite. My house rules are max damage on a 20....that put her into the negative zone but she made her save vs. death ray. By now the tiger had joined the fray and the thief was within range of his sling. They were finally able to put down the last two dragons and heal everyone after a night of rest.

The PC's continued to the caves with no more encounters but played it safe in the caves, expecting more black dragons (bigger ones too...they were shocked to discover those were "small" ones!) They found some trolls and the thief tried to take them down and two of them rolled natural 20's on him, putting him to 0. The party was able to take down 3 out of 4 of them (4th ran away). They took out some cave toads and harpies (with only Wygar being charmed). They headed to the second level, fought some giant worms and gelatinous cubes but found no sword...only a sling. And that's where we left off!

So pretty much I killed off the magic-user...though that wasn't my intent. I have tried to contact the guy for the past 5-6 sessions, knocking on his door, leaving notes but he hasn't joined us and as a group we decided to just let him die during that encounter and write him out. As it was, I was running 3 characters - him, NPC fighter, and a NPC hireling.

The PC's will hopefully encounter Marcus again (Bargle's mentor in my campaign) and set in motion a new plan.

So now I need to figure out the next adventure. I know I want them to meet Marcus again and he will act as their "agent" from time to time, sending them on missions. Essentially, Bargle stole some of his tombs with the possible locations of powerful magic items so it will be up to the PC's to get those items before Barlge can.

I'm thinking something from Dungeon magazine or possibly XL-1 Quest for the Hearthstone. Maybe Skarda's Mirror but I want to wait a bit on that one I think.

So I plan to run my PC's through the Dungeon adventure "Prism Keep" (from Dungeon #45) this weekend. Within it are some tanar'ri (a babau, Bar-Igura, and some dretch).

When adjusting the XP's from 2nd edition down to BECMI/RC, the babau fits fine (12,500xp to 9525xp). However, the dretch go from 8000xp to 65xp. That seems awfully low. I'm thinking of just making them worth 1000xp or 1200xp, give or take a bit. And the Bar-Igura goes from 25,500xp to 3650xp. I'm thinking of making that 12,000xp, give or take. Should I go ahead and do that or keep them their adjusted rates (I based it upon HD and the number of special abilities they have, all added together).

Bar-Igura - HD6+ (350xp) with 11 special abilities (300xp apiece).
Dretch - HD2 (20xp) with 9 special abilities (5xp a piece)
babau - HD8+ (775xp) with 14 special abilities (625xp apiece)

(For some reason, in 2nd Edition, the Bar-Igura has more XP than the Babau)

We played Saturday night. The PC's did one last search for the sword (it wasn't there, I didn't want them to have another intelligent item so I replaced it with a sling for the thief). Some good thinking on the PC's part in searching too. Upon going back up to the first level, the PC's found a glowing rock in the walls and pressed it and <poof> they met Marcus again! He let them know that he discovered Bargle had stolen some old tombs from him and he would like the PC's to either try to get them back or track down the ancient treasures. The PC's agreed (unknowing that Marcus is even more evil than Bargle!). And he teleported them away again, outside of Hegela (far north from their last spot!).

I gave them a few hints of where they were (oh they only sell potions to warriors, a lot of blonde beards and the temple is dedicated to Thor). They stocked up on a few items and then a floating castle appeared overhead and a stone came falling down. The elf picked it up and read (to herself) the words on it and shared it, by writing it in the dirt, with the PC's (very clever on her part - had she said it, she would have been transported up). So they all said it together and went up and encountered a castle made out of different color glass (Prism Keep from Dungeon #45).

They were super paranoid about the stone and almost left it behind (when it's also the key to get in). They entered the Keep, encountered margoyles and gargoyles (who hit them pretty hard), and instead of letting some guards pass by, they attacked them. They fought the dretch, entered the green spire and did not follow the women beckoning them (which is good thinking - it's a trap by a bar-irgula). They found an ally who filled them in on some of the backstory. In the blue spire, they found the pool of water but the gem they needed was too far down. They decided to leave the keep (it won't go anywhere while they have the stone), memorize a few good spells (water breathing, etc.) and tackle some of the problems.

I'm not too sure, I'll roll but I may have some manticores attack them at night or in the morning (they are part of the Keep as well). They had some good thinking and good ideas and were almost doing what they needed to to get the blue gem - they wanted to throw a rope with a grappling hook down to it (but it's in water, wouldn't work). Instead, they should have used weights and rope to lower someone down. Impressed they didn't follow the woman and get ambushed.

Saturday night the players finished off Prism Keep. They came back and were able to get the green & blue gems easily enough. They ended up getting separated by a bar-ilgura and he attacked the thief and elf by using his darkness spell on them but was finally taken down. I replaced the brass golem it had listed with the bronze one to make more BECMI compatible and they had a tough time with it (tough creature! Plus if you use edged weapons it damages you). After that, they headed back to the ground to rest & heal up.

Since this was their 3rd incursion, I made it so that the inhabitants had figured out what was going on and waited in ambushed in the purple spire (which is actually the last one they went too). So they only encountered some servants here & there and found some treasure. The final battle was a doozey - 6 fighters between level 2-4, a babau, the BBG (12th level magic-user), an elf, and then 2 manticores & another elf joined the fray. The hardest part was the babau, with a -3 armor class, they needed 19's or 20's to hit it (and forgot to call over the fighter to help, he was dealing with the manticores).

They had a good time and were able to restore the keep to its rightful owner and that's where we left off. For experience, I pretty much did division from the babau and applied that number to the dretch and bar-ilugara.

Had a quick sessions Saturday night. The PC's were left off in the floating Keep and I had them spend a few days there as the owner tried to figure out where they were (since he had been trapped and not controlling it). He dropped them off at Surra Mann-Ra, on the northern coast of the Emirites of Ylarum. Realizing it was quite hot, they had to ditch their heavy armor. Realizing they had to take ship out of the city to get back to Specularum, they tried to find one heading in that general direction and were eventually hired on to escort a Sultan's daughter to her bethrothed (thus running "Object of Desire" from Dungeon #50)

The party headed out the next morning (and not fully trusting the vizier - he's good but a big-time jerk). They fought a giant sea-snake and then some gargoyles ambushed them (and the vizier tried charming the cleric to get her to protect him!). Then they saw a bright flash, the gargoyles flew off following a ball of light - and which had taken the princess! The ship sailed close to shore (near some cliffs) and the party set out in one of the skiffs to shore. There was some disagreement over whether to just use some potions of flying to reach the cliffs but they decided that they wouldn't have a way back if they did that.

Once on the beach, they found some giant crabs and that's where we ended for the night. They will set up camp, rest, heal, and find the "evil" beholder during the next adventure!

Another game Friday night...low on combat high on problem solving.

So the party, rested up from the battle with the crabs, continued into the caves and fought some ghouls (and found their chest). Heading up the stairs, the party found some glowing red eyes (essentially magical "glow in the dark" paint) that disappeared on them. It took them a bit to figure out the rusted shut door (more than 1 person pushing on it). Reaching the top, the found themselves on top of the cliff, looking down on the ocean and a set of towers in the distance. A few hours later, they were at the "qa'lat" (palace) and fought the gargoyles again (easier since they were down on hit points). Entering through the gate, the passed the remains of a village, worn down by the weather. The found some worn statues that they suspected had been turned to stone.

Seeing a non-working fountain and a black gemstone stuck in it, the thief successfully removed it but released some desert ghosts (from the DMR2 Creature Crucible - nasty creatures that can do 5d8 points of damage per strike, save for half!). The party was finally able to take them down though did suffer a few wounds, temporarily taking down Wygar (the fighter) and Pyk (the thief). After they were defeated, fresh water flowed once again from the fountain.

Heading into the palace, the party saw a beholder, being tended to by a woman, turn her to stone saying she was no longer the fairest around and Yasmin would be his new bride (she did not seem to fear him at all - the party correctly surmised she was charmed). Wanting to rest up before confronting the beholder, the party explored further, exploring the western tower (and it looked like it had been long abandoned) and down into the basement, where they found some gremlins trying to cook. Pyk fell into a pit of green slime but quick thinking and a potion of gaseous form saved him. He did some exploring and discovered more bedrooms, a chapel and a library.

Pyk, meeting back up with the party once the potion wore off, they decided to rest in one of the abandoned rooms in the west tower. However, it seems the gremlins had other plans as they wanted the party to clean the dishes and there was just a stream of pots, pans, and noisy gremlins in and out of the room. They had mentioned a ghost in the east tower so the party decided to forgo rest and explore the east tower more.

Heading to the top they found a furnished bedroom with some lock chests but no key. In another bedroom, they found a magi incant wedding gown and lower down they came back into the library, with a skeleton slumped over a book, a bottle of ink spilled (and dried) on part of the book. Opening a drawer, they found some writing supplies. Thea, the cleric, decided to say a prayer over the skeleton and that caused its ghost to appear and it, through gestures, tried to answer some of their questions, which mostly lead to pointing at the paper. It seems the beholder was once a sultan who was going to marry the daughter of a powerful wizard. In revenge, the wizard cursed the sultan and turned his daughter to stone. Only the writer remained and tried to find a way to cure the sultan but died before he could do it and, of course, the ink had spilled over the cure. Pyk, using the chalk powder from the drawer, was able to put it onto the paper and read (from the stylus indentations) what was written for a cure.

Before they found the letter, the party was actually considering trying to poisoning the beholder by pretending to be wedding guests (which the gremlins think they are). They wanted to sleep, regain hit points, and do a charge at the beholder but I was trying to get them to explore the other tower (and find the answers they sought) so I made sure the gremlins kept bothering them to the point they left the room they were trying to sleep in.

So after some thought, I've decided I wanted to run Castle Amber. But, I was going to find it hard to really get my PC's there plus I know they may not have as much "fun" with it (testing the food, etc.) using their well established characters. So I plan on running it as a "side-story" using pre-gens I've made up AND using (or attempting) to use 4E rules. I've already made the PC's (I didn't want to go too overboard so I kept them pretty basic - fighter, wizard, hybrid wizard/cleric, rogue, cleric, bard, & a druid and dwarf, gnome, halfling, human, elf, & half-elf races). I made them all Level 6 (though I may adjust that as I fill it with monsters and make the Amber family NPC's).

As for the reason these guys would be going there - in Prism Keep, I made the BBG an Amber (Amberville). So the owner has hired this group to go in and see if they can locate her at the family estate and bring her to justice. And of course, then things go downhill from there.

Had our game on Saturday and continued on with "Object of Desire". The Players picked up where they left off and were able to quickly make the antidote for the sultan-turned-beholder and figured out to put it into the wine for him to drink. And when he worked!...kinda. His mind was restored but not his body so the next step was to track down the evil magic-user Nazzir and get him to change the rest. The beholder used his mirror to transport them all to Nazzir's hideout. The party went through the caves while the beholder tried to go up (he couldn't fit).

The party fought a chimera (used as a magical trap) and found their way to a large garden with a beautiful woman (who was able to charm the males, thankfully just 2 out of 3). The didn't want to leave but no one was violent which put the others in a bind but they finally relented and attacked the lady (they didn't know if the source of the charm was from her or the fruit tree). It ended up being a lamara (desert dwelling half-woman, half-snake from the Creature Crucible) and the females were able to defeat her (thankfully quickly before they had to attack their male counterparts). Following that, they found a room with doors leading elsewhere (but it was a trap!) The elf went through the door and disappeared (into a crystal that would begin to drain her life-force).

Heading east, the party fought some crystal living statues and found a large room filled with crystals (with people in them) and some bandits bathing in a white flame. They were able to defeat the bandits, found their elf in one of the crystals and then proceeded to destroy some crystals (those stuck in them were too far gone to be saved) in an effort to put out the fire. This upset Nazzir who came and attacked them (and was attempted to capture them instead of killing them). A few of the party were held but they were finally able to take him down (and he used a bit of defensive magic as well - mirror image, etc.).

They found his area and let the beholder in who found his former love as a statue. But it seemed magic was unable to free her...but a tear from the crying beholder finally freed her and restored him to human form! We stopped there but the party wants to go back to check the areas they missed (but I warned them the sultan and his love don't want to spend the night so no resting and they are the only way back!)

So once the PC's get back to Karameikos, I'm going to start the next phase of the campaign, going on missions for Marcus to collect items to keep them out of the hands of Bargle & Fort Doom! (without realizing that Marcus has his own evil purposes in mind for them...bwahahaha!)

So what I want to do is run some good dungeon crawls - 2-5 levels with treasure (plots I can easily repurpose). So far I'm thinking of running:

Lost Caverns of Tsjoncath

And other ones I'm going to look into are:
Ghost Tower of Inverness
Lost Shrine of Bundushatur
Kasma's (sp?) Folley (from Dungeon)
Mud Sorcerer's Tomb (from Dungeon)

e played (for the first time) a little munchkin first and then finished off "The Object of Desire."

The PC's had actually already finished it, plot wise, but wanted to go back and explore some places they had missed first time around. They freed a kidnapped woman who had become the cook, took out the last of the bandits (open the door, fire off the fireball spell, close the door). They then freed a efreeti that had been captured (and didn't demand anything of it...impressed with that!). Then off they headed back to the former Sultan's palace. All the former "wives" were now freed of their stone forms and the PC's made sure they all made it back to the ship. While crowded, they were able to make it to the next city and a long rest at the inn.

The thief wanted to see if he could hook up with the thieves' guild but I told him it was a bit difficult, with him being an "outsider" to them.

Now for the next part, they are going to travel over a mountain pass and I can run "Twilight's Last Gleaming" from Dungeon #35, which involves a quick jaunt to the demi-plane of Shadow!

Our usual session on Friday night (I think we might need to move back to Saturday nights...people are too tired on Fridays!). So I had left the party off in the city of Tameronikas, in the Emrites of Ylarum (southern coast). I adjusted the mountains ever so slightly and made it so Twilight Mansion (from Twlights Last Gleaming, Dungeon #35) is going to be set between Tameronikas and Fort Zendral in the Empire of Thyatis (a trade road essentially, connecting the two cities and countries).

The PCs were interested in getting their stuff identified so they waited a couple days for the local sage to do it. They had to pay more since they were "outsiders". They figured getting camels would be the best bet as well. When it was time to leave and pay the sage, he was interested in the Efreeti Bottle they had discovered and willing to pay 3000 gp for it. They felt it was time to haggle so they also picked up three books - "History of Igglwiv" (which will help lead to Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth), a book on the planes (which will be helpful in Twilight's Last Gleaming, with a trip to the demi-plane of Shadow), and lost treasures of Ylarum (possible more adventure seeds).

They headed out and once in the mountains, came across a man babbling about shadows attacking and a giant lizard shadow (shadow-dragon). They met a patrol of guards who led them to Twilight Mansion where they got the run-down on what's going on (portal open to a different place, monsters coming out and attack, can you help!?). The leader of the guards has actually been taken over by an ancient Rakashata who is imprisoned there and wants out and needs the PC's to do it. They wandered around the mansion for a bit (really just a fancy inn) and we left off there, before they headed upstairs (where more clues to what's going on are held).

So our group actually got together twice this weekend, nice!

So Friday night started with something different for our game. I took a cue from 4E and the podcast Critical Hits and did a...SKILLS CHALLENGE! I kept it easy - essentially, they had to use a skill in their investigations in order to help get a clue where/what they need to go/do. Since we are using BECMI and the skill-system (though they generally don't come into play), I thought it would be interesting.

So they had to:

1. Say which skill (thieves can also use their thief skills as well).
2. How they were using it
3. Roll 3d6 under the ability score + skill added in (future I might make it 4d6)
4. It ended with either 5 successes or 3 failures, whichever came first.

They were successful - the using quick draw (playing darts with guards to get them to loosen up and talk a bit), bravery (going down into the basement), tracking (talking hunting and what kind of tracks have been seen around here to, again, help the guards loosen up) among others. The party really enjoyed it!

They then explored the magic-user's room (with the cleric being clever in getting by the wizard lock - potion of gaseous form) and after some discussion, figured out the sleeping magic-user was actually a permanent illusion and rolled their disbelieve. They also found a buried body in the basement. Figuring they had done as much as they could for the night, they decided to rest before heading out to the gate to the demi-plane of Shadow!

Saturday night we picked back up and they talked to the captain again (he was absent the night before, out for a "walk") and he gave good answers though they are suspicious of him. They headed to the gate and the cleric discovered that while she has good bonuses to hit and damage (gauntlets of ogre power, weapon mastery) her weapon is only +1 and makes it tough against creatures needing +2 or better to hit!

They then headed into the gate and headed towards a crumpled tower in the distance, where the mysterious relic keeping the gate open lies. They entered and headed right down and finally discovered the library AND the hidden, secret library. The thief was able to pick a lock on a cabinet but failed to realize it had glyph of warding and got quite a shock! They found a magical scroll but when the elf tried to read it, failed to realize it had explosive ruins on it and the cleric and elf took some more damage and the scroll was destroyed (ironically, a scroll of protection from fire). After some talking, the cleric cast her dispel magic and, with a 25% chance of failure (due to level differences) was able to negate all the traps and the party got a few spells books and scrolls. In another room, they were told, in whispers "wrong way" but continued on and discovered the body of the missing magic-user, chests of coins (actually the inn's treasury) and some items. They took what they could, placing the body in their bag of holding in order to give it a proper burial.

After they failed to find a secret door (which they needed to) they heard the voice again mention "to the west" (where the door is located). They decided to ignore it and in another room met a shadow creature-roper! It almost ate the cleric (she was getting gnawed on). Heading back to the room with the secret door, they found it and the outer chambers and finally to the vault where the relic (a staff) was that was glowing and had a giant body (10' tall) encased in the same light.

The cleric touched the staff, which destroyed it and lowered the body - a rakshasa with 5 heads (tiger, ape, mantis, alligator, human) that had actually possessed the captain and was using the party to free it from the staff (oops!) His consciousness returned and a big battle happened! Thankfully the party had a protection from Evil 10' on them so when it summoned a shadow-hydra it couldn't attack them. Half-way through, the voice, a "Greelox" (beefed up giant spider with arms) attacked too. Though they suffered some good damage (and the cleric had a phantasmal killer cast at her - a giant spider with a snake body) they succeeded and then waited out the hydra.

The captain awoke and of course the party was paranoid about telling him about the magic-user, fearing he would blame them. And that's where we left off.

What's funny is that earlier the cleric was asking about the bless and what a rakshasa was so I was trying to give them hints before the battle started to cast bless on a bolt. But they didn't get my hints.

A couple weeks late but updates from our last session. They finished exploring the keep in the demi-plane of Shadow but had essentially found everything of importance. They did find some giant shadow rats and defeated a few. They headed back and now had to deal with someway of destroying the obelisk that allowed passage between the demi-plane and prime material plane or else shadow creatures would continue to come through and terrorize the mountain pass. The elf cast a magic missile (no effect) and fireball (some effect) on it (it had 80% magic resistance). The thief then thought to get more soldiers and horses from the mansion and ties ropes and just topple the thing over. As they were doing that, the final "BBG", a young shadow dragon appeared (well...5 of mirror image!). They party did a good job of fighting it off and when it realized that it was getting low on hit points, escaped back into the demi-plane and the party finished toppling the obelisk.

After that, they rested for the night and headed out, entering the country of Thyatsis. They had a quick stop in one town (aka cash in XP) and headed off and I ran the DCC module the Haunted Lighthouse. The party did very well with this, finding the halfing ghost early on and headed straight for the top of the lighthouse. They were able to defeat the ghost-troll and the cleric took down the gem. And that's where we left off.

I was told, by my fiancÚ afterwards, that she felt I was being a grumpy DM. Giving it some thought (yes, I do agree with her), I think it had to do with a couple things. I'm not too sure what I want to do next, campaign wise (I know WHERE I want to go, just not how to get there) and between exploring essentially nothing (as I knew...they didn't) and having the Haunted Lighthouse so easy just made me feel like I let them down a lot. Seriously, they went through the whole Haunted Lighthouse in 30-45 minutes. It was quick and I wasn't expecting it to be that fast.

But I think I've figured out what I want to do, at least a little. I'm going to run the Gamemastery module "Gallery of Evil", setting it in Thyastis city and maybe some more city-based adventures for a bit. I want to level them up at least one more level, maybe two (especially the Elf, their only magic-user) before I have them met up with Marcus again and set off to the Lost Caverns of Tsjocanth.

Well I converted it down to BECMI/RC instead of 3.5 and in doing so, made it way too easy. Most encounters are only with 1 creature which, in 3.5 might pose a challenge to a party with maneuvers and feats but 1 shadow in BECMI/RC isn't any problem for a party. Even upping it a bit, they were still able to easily defeat things with very little challenge to them at all. If I were to do it again, converting, I'd definitely add in more creatures to make the encounters more of a challenge (of course, the problem is, they are shadows, wrights and wraiths, with those dang energy and strength draining attacks). They skipped all but the helpful ghosts, surmising correctly they needed to head to the top. Another issue is my players are running level 8 characters right now.

As I read it, I really enjoyed it and look forward to running it but it just didn't work out the way I wanted, in the long run.

One thing I wanted to do is get a list of some good city-based adventures I can run. I feel the elf should be Level 9 so she can have access to some 5th level spells (and we need to start filling out her spellbook). I know Lost Caverns is going to be a tricky one for them!

So we did a little gaming Friday night (first time in over a month!) We did a couple tests for 4E to see if the group wants to do the Castle Amber side-story that way (I'd hate to put too much more effort into it and have them say "no"). I started with a Skills Challenge to sneak into the city from HS1 The Slaying Stones. Then I ran a combat. There was a bit of confusion with the skills vs. powers vs. abilities.

The party chose an Eldrain Control Wizard, Eldrain Vitreous Paladin, and a elf Shielding Cleric. The cleric was almost killed a couple times and the Paladin just couldn't hit anything (she rolled a 4 four times in a row!) The combat went on a bit longer than probably expected and they did have trouble (but it was just 3 of them instead of the standard 4 or 5). They are thinking it over, it had aspects they enjoyed and others not so much.

So Friday night we got back to the BECMI campaign. I filled in the party of where they left off and they were able to make it to Thyatis city fine. Keeping in with the Gazetteer, the guards informed them only daggers and clubs are allowed in the city which put the players on edge. They would have had a lockbox to store the gear in. They were thinking of either sneaking in or just bypassing the city, storing all the weapons in a bad of holding, etc. All good ideas that I didn't want done. They were really worried about the weapons being stolen. I had the cleric notice a sign saying weapons are punishable by death in the arena which put a kibosh on the whole "sneak the weapons in" ideas. I then had a small group of people leave the city carry weapons. After some asking, a higher ranking guard came out and informed them certain higher level dignitaries, those that have served the city or those considered patrons or "friends" of the city are allowed to carry weapons. When asked how to become a patron, they were told it would require a 10,000 gp donation per individual. So they dished it out and got official forms allowing them to carry weapons.

This was nice for me to get rid of some of the cash they had lying around. They also had to pay for their hireling so each chipped in another 2500 gp. Especially as this adventure won't be a big "pay day", it will make their reserves go down a bit. I then directed them towards the nicer section of the city ("Gallery of Evil" takes place in a good section of Abaslom in the Pathfinder campaign). Plus, the inns cost a bit more (10 gp for a night, they have baths, good food, etc.) So on their way, they heard a commotion and some windows breaking, screams. They were worried to investigate, fearing they maybe blamed (being outsiders and all). The thief snuck in and saw two giant octopuses destroying a home and a couple bodies lying around. So he went back out and the party decided to fire missile weapons through the window (still fearing being blamed). I had their NPC fighter go inside (he has no missile weapons) and the cleric followed. They were able to finally take down both of them and they dissolved into paint (a couple rolls determined this).

They were given the description of a man who had delivered a painting earlier and started asking around, especially the inn, where they got some information. Those that were covered in paint cleaned up while the thief went to the seedier sections of town to get some info and see if he could find a thieves' guild. He was able to turn up a little bit more information but not a lot. The next day, they had planned to use Helping Hands (cleric spell) to try to find the courier. The courier was with a rather unkempt servant but I told them they didn't have enough information to track down the servant but enough for the courier but his chances of follow the hand were slim so they decided not too.

After more searching, they discovered a party going on and that a painting had been delivered. Since it was a lot of drunk party goers, I made it difficult for them to actually get to where the painting was going to be reveled to the guests. First they encountered some drunk people that they kept engaging instead of just going by. Then they had to pretend to be the "entertainment" and I called for a....SKILLS CHALLENGE! Being a 3.x module with different DC's for Skills/Feats, I felt a skills challenge would be better. Essentially, they had to move through this crowd to the other side.

They had to have 5 successes before a failure rolling 4d6 on their skill with attribute. They could only use a skill once and couldn't use the same skill the person right before them used. If they had a failure, they had to make a saving throw as not to get "distracted" by the guests. So here's what we had:

NPC Fighter - use Intimidate to move people out of the way, success
Cleric - Knowledge (Farming) - Different things they were going to do for entertainment, based on a farmer's life, success
NPC Cleric - Ceremony - detailing a religious ceremony, failure
Thief - Acrobatics - put on a display of flips on his way to the front of the room, success
Elf - Intimidate - moving people aside, success
NPC Fighter - Leadership, leading the group while having everyone else stay to the side, failure
Cleric - Animal Training (rat) - tried to have her pet rat do some tricks, failure

Since they failed the challenge, they didn't prevent the painting from being uncovered but since they had 4 success out of 5, they are actually really close to it so have less worry about hitting bystanders. The painting was uncovered to show a picture depicting some bearded devils which promptly came to life. And that's where we left off.

I felt the players did a good job with a lot of stuff. They were thinking ("well, who else collects art") but being in a large city in a rich section, I told them, "Well, just about everybody, depending on their mood on any given day." Using the Helping Hands spells was creative. And they did good with their skills challenge. Their next combat will be tricky as they are now in a room filled with drunkards and will try to fight these bearded devils.

So I was thinking of running the PC's through Castle of the Blind Sun (taking out the whole elvish plot) from Dungeon #49, tying it in with the Pathfinder module Tears at Bitter Manor. While I do like Castle, I just don't think it would work well. It's a very heavy "bard" focus adventure, needing a lot of music talent from the characters.

Had a quick session Friday night, didn't get nearly as far as I had hoped. Our thief player seemed disinterested, which is frustrating. The party picked back up right where we left off. I had emailed the group and let them plan out what to do since they were fighting 3 bearded devils in a social gathering with 70-80 drunken aristocrats and I pointed out that the key was to not let them die. And, thankfully, the elf had web memorized and she ALMOST figured out what to do ("well it has to connect to 2 points..." oh she was so close. I actually let her make an intelligence roll to figure out to web all the guests in the one section they were in so the bearded devils couldn't get to them). This is what made the our thief player disinterested because he had a plan but it wouldn't work or had the high potential not to work - he wanted to web the devils but they have 30% magic resistance on top of a regular saving through and then just hammer them (which given each had 50 +/- hit points, would have allowed them plenty of time to cause havoc.).

They were able to find the courier delivering the paintings and save him from an invisible stalker (though they're not sure if it was part of a defense of the place he was at or was actually sent by his employer to take him out). The courier was able to give them some good information on where to find who employed him, though he is unsure of the name. The party decided to go to one more house that had a painting delivered but the owner wasn't in, his servants hadn't seen him in a while and there were not signs of a struggle. The painting was also uncovered (he is actually IN the painting and if the PC's touch the ink, they'll be transported in as well). They recovered the painting and took it to the nearest constable and that's where we left off.

Hopefully we can finish it off this week and the PC's can take down the evil mage and move onto Tears at Bitter Manor. I'm excited to run this one!

Finished off (mostly) Gallery of Evil Friday night. We "fast forwarded" to the wizard's house. The PC's checked out the outside and heard some loud growling coming from inside the door. The thief climbed up the ivy vines and broke a window. He then had to make 2 saving throws (vs. magic for Firetrap and then vs. paralysis for hold onto the ivy and not fall to the ground). The rest of the PC's climbed up after him (he lowered rope, I had them all make dex checks). So they explored the second level first - found a lot of guest rooms and servant quarters. They discovered his art studio and study (but not the treasure map). They destroyed one painting and had a dead body come from it. Fought a lot of "painted servants" here and there. In the master bedroom, the thief was impacted by a Phantasmal Killer spell but our NPC fighter knocked him out (which stopped it). Back out in the hallway, they faced off against the "Barbarian" (made from the "Id Portrait" which split the wizard's mind into 3 pieces - a barbarian, a thief, and himself).

I've "upped the ante" with NPC's now, and have included weapon mastery with them, so the Barbarian and Thief were a bit tougher than normal with secondary attacks and higher damage. They headed downstairs and fought a massive mastiff (actually a hellhound with a permanent illusion cast on it). Some more exploring and down to the basement where they fought some living statues and some tricky creatures, "shadow lurkers" that live in paintings. So if the shadow lurkers won initiative for the round, they would strike and vanish into the walls. The PC's then destroyed all but 1 painting (a "painting of healing" as it were) which they took with them. They finally found the wizard and he had some allies - an amber golem, some summoned orcs, goblins, and bugbears. The thief finally went invisible and got an excellent backstab on the wizard, taking him out. It was a tough battle for the PC's, I had the wizard using his spells pretty good (magic missiles, summon monsters, web, etc.). The PC's were worried about the goblins and bugbears but the thief picked up on it - they're essentially cannon fodder troops at this point and not a true threat (till I roll a natural 20) to the PC's. I used them as a living shield for the wizard, keeping the PC's out of melee range of him.

Next session I'll plant the seeds for Tears at Bitter Manor and begin that one!

So the way I'm thinking the campaign will proceed from here is:

Finish off the "world tour" section - Tears at Bitter Manor followed by Realm of the Fellnight Queen (both Pathfinder)
Start the "Marcus Quest" section - Lost Caverns of Tsjoncanth, Plunder & Peril (Pathfinder), Curse of the Witch Head (Advanced Adventures), and maybe 1 or two others before finishing with The Endless Stair (with a final confrontation with Marcus!)
Then the "Fall of the Black Eagle Barony" with Tower of the Last Baron, and Secret of Chimera Cove
Somewhere in there I want to toss in parts of Egg of the Phoenix, and Nightmare Keep. Working on how to fit those two into the narrative.

Played again Saturday night, picking up where we left off. The PC's did some city stuff, buying supplies, making some contacts and meeting the NPC's for the next adventure who said "meet us here and we'll buy you more drink" aka the adventure seed! I gave them two options to get there - land or sea. They chose sea so we played a few random encounters. I had rolled these all up beforehand and had some fun. I just didn't roll "griffons" but turned it into a real encounter. And I rolled creatures from the Rules Cyclopedia THEN added in another creature from the Creature Crucible to flesh it out. So my ecounters were:

1. (day) - Griffons were circle overhead and one tries to swoop down and take a sailor (actually failed!) However, their shadows helped attract a sea serpent that then attacked the vessel (which, drove the griffons away). PC's had to fight off the sea serpent. The captain complained about the increase in monster attacks at sea because of the war with Alphatia.

2. (night) - fog rolls in and "ghost pirates" attack. This went different as planned since the thief decided not to go to his quarters so he was able to spot something moving in the fog. The pirates dressed as ghouls and had a cleric use a horn of fog and silence 15' radius to sneak up on vessels. The PC's were able to fight them off. The PC cleric tried to turn them and they laughed at her which confused her a lot (though I was trying to lay hints they weren't really undead). While the pirates escaped, the PC's threw oil and flames into their small boat and killed the rest (and any possibility of following them back to their lair). Definitely a "Scooby-doo" moment as they weren't really ghosts, just dressed up to scare people!

3. (day) - the next attack came from a sea hydra. The PC's had it on the ropes before two giant octopi showed up. One finished off the sea hydra (and wasn't seen again as it had its meal) so the PC's just had to fight one giant octopus.

4. (day) - a swarm of 2 dozen sea snakes try to assault the boat. As everyone is busy looking at them some kna's snuck aboard and stole some cargo. When I first designed this, I meant for the snakes to attack but then realized, "they would have no actual way to get onto the boat" But it worked as everyone was too busy seeing them and keeping an eye on them to notice the kna's sneak aboard.

5. (night) - the last night some gargoyles landed on the boat but didn't attack. I told them they seems to be looking and the PC's smartly left them alone. The gargoyles then flew off. What I had built was that some devil-rays had stolen something the gargoyles were protecting and had anyone either looked overboard they would have seen the devil-rays and had a tough encounter if they tried to fight them (with gargoyle backup though).

After landing, I mentioned how sad the city looked - dark, dingy, and just as if something is hanging over the air, even though the weather is nice. They meant back up with the two NPC's from Tears at Bitter Manor who mentioned how worried they were their two allies hadn't showed up so the PC's went and checked Flinn's resident (he's the main NPC baddie of the module) and found it empty but fought a couple minor daemons. They also encountered a haunt (and I gave the PC cleric access to the Speak to Haunt spell from Pathfinder to help them). And that's where we left off. Building up the mystery and next they're going to explore an even more decapitated town.

So here are the random encounters the PC's "missed" by taking the sea route:

1. Day 7 (Night) - Giant Toads start croaking the in distance and slowly make their way to the PC's camp...and attract a group of surtaki.

2. Day 8 (Day) - The PC's come across a group of cattle around the road (the encounter rolled) and a couple feywings swing down to steal some cattle.

3. Day 9 (Day) - The PC's can hear commotion coming from down stream and see some lizardmen trying to tackle a giant catfish

4. Day 10 (Day) - During a rainstorm, some giant shrew attack the PC's...then some daggers start attacking the PCs! A Crone of Chaos is in the distance and if the PC's find her, pretends to be a hurt maiden but will subtly attack them with giant hawks and giant oil beetles along with her flying daggers.

This was the second time I tried using a crone of chaos and the second time the PC's didn't take the route I had planned her in!

So we've lucked out and been able to play the past two Fridays! Continuing on with Tears at Bitter Manor. So after discovering Flinn had been kidnapped, the party met again with the two main NPC's. They send the PC's off to find their other friend in another town down the road called "Hope's Hollow." They meant a creepy undead on the way and when they entered Hope's Hollow, they saw a town on the verge of being abandoned. Everything looked run-down, the people looked sad and hopeless (all part of the BBG's evil plot). They found the care home and a lady outside watching it. They went in and the "doctors" weren't very helpful, telling them only family is allowed, they can't go in, etc. The cleric went back out and talked to the lady who said her father had died in there and that the conditions seem deplorable. Some great role-playing happening by the elf as well during all of this. Finally, they force their way in and discover the doctors are actually dark creepers and some more daemons come out (vulnudaemons, which look like little kids, and they were able to summon some cacodaemons). During all this, the thief was sneaking around the complex and discovered how bad it was. After the battle, the discovered the nurses knew next to nothing and really didn't care.

They found Dern in a drugged up state but were able to get him out of it and he told them that Flinn is behind everything and that the other two NPC's are in danger! He told them where to find some items in his home to help them. Outside in the streets, they stopped a brawl between a brother and sister who were fighting for the hand of the same girl. The PC's were able to break it up and they siblings agreed to, essentially, go to mediation on the matter. After finding Dern's gear, they came out to a mob who were upset that the PC's were butting into "town business", them being strangers and all. A few fists flew but the PC's were able to calm the mob and get them to disperse just as a former mayor, who was tried and hung, mob justice style, was attacking the down as a revenant, leading some specters. A tough fight and two PC's lost levels from the specters. However, the PC's overall did a great job in Hope's Hollow, did some really good role-playing and came out on top!

Back in Machetos (in Thyatis....replacing Cassomir in the module), the PC's encountered the haunt again of a son arguing with his father and then killing him. Each time the PC's passed, it (or anyone), they have to make a save or try to kill someone nearby. The PC's never failed their saves but the jail did have a few prisoners in it who did. The cleric used her Speak with Haunt spell to discover that they needed to bury the murder weapon with the father to put the haunt at rest. When they got back to inn, they discovered the two NPC's had left to find Flinn, heading straight into his trap! And that's where that session left off.

This past Friday we picked right back up. The PC's headed to the constable to find out more about the murder and were able to get the knife that was used so they can bury it. They visited various other places and picked up a lot of sub-quests, some which run concurrent with their main quest. Before leaving town, the mayor and a crowd stopped them and gave an invigorating speech to everyone (and really worked up the crowd).

the PC's, with a crude map, came up upon a small abandonded village and evidence of some rangers being kidnapped. They found some lacridaemons and found a lot of stolen stuff from missing people at their camp. The found and fought some new monsters (subquests), came across an old hermit (who is more than he seems to be) and came across a caliban (creatures from the module) camp, creations of Flinn. Their toughest encounter came from a half-daemon/nymph druid who used call lightning that almost TPK'ed the party! A lot of healing, a lot of negative hit points, but they made it through. After that, they headed back to town, since they had a lot of bounties to collect on (new creatures, daemons, etc.).

Can't wait till we play again, it will be the big exploration of the sinister house where all the evil is taking place. They've pieced some clues together already (constant "love interests" and they suspect it's all the same person...and it is!).

The PC's picked back up where they left off last week. They went back to the city, rested up, picked up another quest and headed back to the manor. They explored the outside to see if there was another enterance. Then they went in, met a wounded druid, found more clues, and explored the outside. They buried the knife to dispel one haunt and found off some Elder Ghouls and Zombies. Then some Hecuvas and found a shrine to Thantaos. They tried to enter the house and I did a Skills Challenge - the elf opened the door and was able to save herself from a pit trap but was hanging on the door and a couple bull shadow mastiffs were bearing down. The PC's failed so she was tackled by one and a combat happened. Entering the house, they explored the downstairs and fought off a wererat hidden in the walls and some giant rats.

Now, on the giant rats. My PC's are 7-9th level. These rats were doing some damage! I kept rolling 18's and 19's! - when they were first and second level giant rats never did this much damage! The PC's quickly took them down and started bashing the walls tying to hit the wererat and were finally able to do so (the thief didn't pick up he should search for a hidden door). And that's where we left off!

My main group will eventually help take down the Black Eagle Barony and that will have an impact.

The way I'm planning the beginning is this:

Starting in Stallanford, about six month's after the events of B10 King's Festival. My main party came through, helped save the cleric, discovered the ancient temple of Kyuss (which is now being excavated) and defeated the Queen. Stallanford has seen a rise in adventures both coming to the town and from the town. Most tend to work as guards for the excavation of the temple but, with the defeat of the Queen and the temple being cleared out, most of the "guard" work is a bit boring, as many humanoid tribes in the area have retreated to lick their wounds and recover. Essentially it's like the Home Depot - the "workers" go to the city gates and get "hired" for the day - some wait around to see if a better offer comes but that's about it. So the new group will be anxious to get out there and actually adventure!

I'm thinking of starting them up with the Gamemastery Module Hangman's Noose (modified for whatever game system we chose and for Stallanford). They might pick up some events that my other party overlooked (giant incursions, more with the Iron Ring Slavers, etc.). Long run, they might not ever meet but will (hopefully it both keep going) get to be at the same event going on that will have major repercussions for the world.

We finally played again Friday night, yay! We picked up right where they left off, in the kitchen of the manor. They proceeded to the second floor and fought against Lusera. In the original Pathfinder version she is a antipaladin so for BECMI I made her a 11th level Avenger with spell casting, mastery in sword shield and expert in the sword. She challenged our cleric to battle and quickly took her out with a slam of her sword shield and a secondary attack against the elf. Needless to say, the rest of the party ganged up on her and learned a valuable lesson - don't accept one-on-one challenges! A venedaemon witnessed it so he prepared for battle by casting blink which made it hard for the party to defeat him (if he won initiative, he would "blink" out before they could hit him). Fought some embalming bears (new monsters) and an ephemeral echo before heading to the attic.

Up in the attic, they met a mothman who warned them about the dangers of the BBG and what would happen if they fail, especially since they are an "unknown" factor to the situation. However, they did receive a +2 to everything for the final battle (saves, to hit, damage, etc.) They disarmed a nasty trap (knocks people out of the window to waiting ghouls below) and fought some attic whisperers (creepy ghost children things). We left off there with them trying to figure out how to get into the basement (only through the chimney or teleportation). I did suggest to my wife that they might really want to stop and heal/rest before continuing as they are out of healing spells and are sucking down their potions pretty fast.

Alright, finally finished up the main storyline for Tears at Bitter Manor last Friday. The PC's headed back to town to rest up and restock a few things (they were REALLY low on spells and hit points). After resting, they headed back and I rolled a random encounter with some hobgoblins. I had the hobgoblins look beat up and brag about their encounter and how their group met a glorious defeat. The PC's didn't investigate further (would have led them to one of the Tears side-quests). They let the hobgoblins go but did warn the town at the end of the adventure about them.

Back at the manor, they scaled the outside and made it to the chimney and prepared to descend to the bottom. The cleric went first (failing her Dex check to climb) and trigged the trap, which made her stuck and buried some bricks on her. The thief then climbed down and slowly started removing the bricks. The cleric then continued, failing her Dex check again, and fell to the bottom, suffering damage and having the wizards at the bottom get first attack on her. Essentially everyone else was coming down as this was happening. During combat, the elf managed to web the two acolytes and the cleric cast "hold person" on the leader, ending the battle in 1 round.

The PC's then battled the BBG - a daemon who had been manipulating everything for centuries and the reason the area was so doom and gloom. She was a tough battle, able to do a lot of damage per hit. The PC's did luck out and were winning most initiatives so she wasn't able to get off many spells. The thief went down once (to zero) but was revived quickly. He actually tried to set her on fire (rolling a natural 20 on throwing oil at her, so I ruled 2 points of damage from the container). She had fire resistance so it didn't do much good. The NPC fighter just couldn't roll to hit at all (single digits!) and the daemon I rolled twice natural 20's! That was 20 points of damage per claw attack! But they persevred and won the day! After that, they found an alchemical golem and freed the captured NPC's, who got the elf wizard to confess. Everyone left, prisoners in tow and the thief torched the building.

We went back, did treasure and reminded them of the few side quests they can still do. This was a long one, taking 5-6 sessions to finish up! Up next, after the side-quests will be Realm of the Fellnight Queen before we head off to the lost caverns of Tsojnacnth.

On Friday night, we started up Realm of the Felnight Queen. The party started out staying 2 months in the town so the Cleric and NPC Fighter could attempt to gain Mastery level in their chosen weapons (both failed). The thief just hung around town doing thief-y things while the elf holed herself up for a good many days and just began studying her captured spell books and scrolls. She was able to learn 8 new spells (stinking cloud, power word: sleep, create air, ghost armor, flame arrow, phantasmal killer, polymorph other, wizard eye). What I said is after 8 hours of studying a spell, she got a base 20% chance to learn the spell, gaining 5% per 8 hours after that. This was good as it let her chose which spells she wanted AND beef up her spell book, which was looking pretty sparse for her level.

So afterwards, they continued heading west back towards Karameikos but the mayor had them drop off a wedding gift to his cousin (aka PLOT HOOK!). They did so, and so started the next adventure. Swarms of bees began attacking so the party did a skills challenge to help save the guests. They then fought some spriggins and saw one of the main NPC's do his whole "I shall have my revenge" spiel. They rested up and headed out into the now mist-covered forest to try to solve the problem, locating a local druid. They encountered a dying dryad but were able to save the dryad's sister and a unicorn (which made my cousin, playing the elf, happy to no end as she constantly is saying she wants a pet unicorn). And that's just about where we left off for the night.

Next session they'll look into getting more answers, allying with more of the forest creatures and taking the fight to the Queen herself!

A couple weeks ago we picked up where we left off. The party rested and healed up and continued on their journey to find the druid. They did finally encounter him and he did act strange and finally attacked the party. Ends up he was being controlled by a couple will 'o wisps which left his body before they got killed but the party was able to defeat them anyway. He filled them in more on what was going on and that the stones were probably stolen and tossed into some waterfalls. The PC's made it to the falls but had a hard time coming up with a way to search where the stones might be. The elf wanted to enlarge herself and search below the falls with her wand of detect magic to find the stones. I reminded the player that the stones are the size of a small football(American football) and it would take days to try to search one section. The poked around a little bit and realized that the spot between where the river splits into two falls might be a good spot to look for the stones.

The thief used a potion of gaseous form to travel to the small island-thing and found a small cave with the stones and some treasure. The elf then used a scroll with teleport to bring him back to them. After he was redressed and equipped, they decided to leave only to discover they were now surrounded by the enemy. However, after letting them sweat it out for a bit and try to figure out a solution that wasn't them surrendering and dying, some timely intervention from some unicorns (including the one they saved) saved them and teleported out of there. They then met up with more woodland creatures - elves, dryads, nymphs, the druid, etc. They were all figuring out what to do and how to do it, with a lot of squabbling. So the PC's performed a SKILLS CHALLENGE (including the thief hopping back onto a unicorn and doing some Braveheart motivational speaking)! They were able to convince the gathering that working together was best and now that they had the stones, they just needed to get them back to keep the Queen and her realm from entering the Prime plane. And that's where we left off!

There was an encounter with a drunken treant in the module but I decided to skip that one. And the module didn't have much to go on to actually figure out and find the stones at the waterfalls. I had to show them the map so they could actually see how the falls were set up. Overall they did a good job and the next session will be them traveling to the demi-plane and confronting the evil Queen herself and ending her threat once and for all.