Commentary thread for that “Describe your game in five words” thread.


Swords of the Serpentine:

Finally, my duet game player and I managed to resume the adventures of Brother Giuseppe, the non-violent Inquisitor, who isn't an Inquisitor yet at the time this adventure takes place (8 years before Adventure 01).

Carrying on his self-appointed mission to discover the reason some statues are disappearing, he spends some time at the Priory of the Illuminated Swamps to do some research on Eversink's funerary rites* (more about that below). Some eerie whispers echo in the scriptarium, which worry him. Brother Giuseppe still doesn't know he's gifted with Denari's Eye.

He then goes on a stroll to count statues, and two are missing, the ones he nicknamed Irmina and Zelinda, which can be found between the orphanage and the hospital. So he goes to the hospital to administer some last rites and check into the archives, as the statues, and the last rites (check notes at the end), are contracts, meaning there are records of them here. Using Laws and Traditions, he discovers that the missing statues do represent two sisters actually named Irmina and Zelinda (Brother Giuseppe is creeping out, but is excited at the same time). he can also understand that although the statues aren't richly carved, the craft used parallels the importance they two ladies might have had in the neighbourhood.

Whispers: "LOOK AT US!!!". This is being repeated a few times. Brother Giuseppe is lost. "Rip the veil!", but there's no veil in the record room! So, Brother Giuseppe convinces himself there's somebody here, spends 1 point of Spirit Sight, and in the far corner of each eye, a glimpse of each sister. They say he's imbued with Denari's Eye, this is why he can see them, and that they're disappearing because their statues have disappeared. The issue is that they haven't fulfilled their soul's mission yet, so they're scared and keep forgetting important things, such as said mission.

While questioning is own beliefs in death and a bit wary that it's not some kind of test or evil kind of corrupted temptation, he goes to the wharf where the statues of Giorgio and Sandrina had disappeared two days ago, and where he almost drowned trying to drag them up. He asks a fisherman how to fish a statue, and is replied that the canals need to be dredged in order to do that.

So, he goes to the Guild of Architects and Canal Watchers and meets a clerk, Nunzio, a pious man who is also highly committed to his job. He says that files need to be submitted, that all the workers are busy with the upcoming festival, and Sway battle ensues. This is tough, and even though Brother Giuseppe's Morale is badly Hurt, he manages to get what he wants when clerk Nunzio eventually agrees to dispatch a team to help with this highly sacrilegious case. Brother Giuseppe also writes in his Book of Debts that he's indebted to this clerk who will have, 8 years later, become a friend.

In the afternoon, the statues are hauled out from the waters, covered with writhing eels. The workers are happy as they'll keep them for their eel bisque, and the Eel Bisque cooking championship next week. However, the statues have changed: their faces are contorted with pain and next to our pious hero, the ghosts of Giorgio and Sandrina -which are also their real names, are crying.

To be continued...

* In the book Exemption of the Body and Trickling Down of the Soul, it is explained that for the last rites, the dying must hold its most valuable possession. The priest in charge becomes Denari's broker for a moment then drafts down the dying's final contract. There's a transaction occurring between this object against its owner's soul, as payment for their passing. Then both are to be burnt together. However, if that object doesn't burn along with the body, it's considered a bad omen, meaning the soul is too heavy for the Otherworld. It's even said that such a soul turns into a crawling wraith roaming Eversink's sunken ruins.

In this book, there's also a chapter on statues. During its carving, some of the ashes are mixed with the statue, and the rest is religiously cast in the water. The part remaining with the statue represents all the worldly sins of the dead that must remain grounded in this world, while the rest flowing away represents the part deemed pure enough to enter the Otherworld.

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Medusa — it’s what’s for dinner

But not the PCs’ dinner!

We started last session with the PCs’ having arrived back at their manor. They checked in on construction and learned about the last of the three threats in the hex they have to take care of if they want to clear it. Those threats: a pair of gorgons (both in the D&D and in the classical sense, a warp beast, and a stirge nest). It was late, so they retired for the evening. In the morning, they awoke to news that an elven man had arrived overnight.

The man was a merchant who had been traveling to the south when he saw a fin slicing through the dirt. Not wanting to be dinner* himself, he abandoned his camp and headed for the PCs’ manor. While it’s not really a functional settlement yet, it’s been used as a meeting place for years, and it’s known that people are occupying it more permanently now. I’m not exactly sure what he expected them to do though because bulettes are nasty†.

While the PCs are being apprised of the situation, they heart shouts coming from their guards. The fin had been sighted! It was about a hundred yards off from the settlement to the south. The cleric and the captain of the guard started mustering their small guard force (they only have twelve guards so far). In the meantime, the barbarian had a crazy idea. She was going to get on a horse with a ton of meat on it, and try to lead the bulette away from the settlement.

While it aims for compatibility with B/X for monsters and adventures, I use 3d6 and conflict resolution in almost all other situations. You can also sacrifice things to add more dice to the roll. In this case, the barbarian was sacrificing a bunch of their supplies, so she got +2d6 on top of the +3d6 she got to ride out.

The barbarian rolled Convince (INT) to see if the land shark would take the bait. Convince is used for influencing others to do what you want, particularly if you have something they want (food in this case). We went with INT because the approach was in how she executed the plan. The barbarian rolled quite well (20+ with a target of 15+ for a complete success), so her plan succeeded. The bulette was following her after she took off and cut the meat loose.

After that, she got the idea to lead the bulette to the statue garden where the gorgons resided. It’s about an hour west of their manor on foot, which is not very far on horseback. The bulette is faster on land, but it prefers to stay burrowed until it attacks. Due to her prior success, it was following her. The barbarian just needed to find where she wanted to go without using a map, which is Survive (WIS).

The barbarian got a 12, which is a partial success (10–14). She was going to get what she wanted (she’d make it to the statue garden), but I needed to add a complication. I decided the “robed figure” (the medusa) would be out in the garden along with the gorgon. I asked the barbarian how she was approaching the garden, and the player indicated she was staying focus on riding — meaning there wasn’t a risk she might accidentally look at the medusa.

The barbarian blew through the garden, and all she heard behind her was swearing in a language she didn’t understand as the bulette succeeded at its Fortitude (CON) saving throw to avoid petrification and then lept on the poor medusa. It hit with all its attacks, and four times 3d6 does way more damage than 18hp. Even if I had rolled the medusa’s hit points, she stood no chance because I got 36 damage from the bulette.

So the barbarian took care of one of the threats in their hex with a clever tactic, and the medusa is what was for dinner (well, breakfast, but I don’t think land sharks care all that much about when it’s meal time).

* Homebrew setting, so my elven aren’t quite the same as traditional elves, and land sharks aren’t quite as picky about what they eat.
† My homebrew system uses B/X for its bestiary with a fair degree of compatibility. The bulette is actually from OSE Advanced, so I can’t link it, but it’s nasty. 9 HD and four attacks that deal 3d6 each if it leaps on you.
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The Monday evenings AD&D 1e party have been going for about a year and a half, game time. They've reached an average of 8th level, and while they have not stopped any major threats to their home country themselves, they have discovered important information that has enabled other people to quash threats. Last session, they attended the Overload's summer garden party, and received his thanks, plus personal awards.

500 km north, the volcanoes on the Orcish Plateau are erupting enthusiastically, and the winds are blowing the ash-cloud over the Elven woods. It's not clear who's responsible for the eruptions and winds, but it does not seem to be the orcs, who are quite unhappy about the situation.


(he, him)
Sunday: Cancelled due to player holiday.

Thursday: Cancelled due to GM holiday.
The Sunday game only has two players, so we cancel if anyone is missing. The Thursday game is a more normal sized group, so we go ahead with one player missing and cancel with two....unless the missing player is the GM.

(Actually the GM's brother is one of the players and is on the same holiday, so we would have cancelled today even if it weren't his week to GM.)


We seem to have messed up the occult Nazi plot in pre-invasion Oslo, although we don't know all its details.

We swiped a magical artefact they seemed interested in from the museum where it was being studied on the Saturday evening, expecting its absence to be noticed on Monday morning. Since several of us had been visible at the museum, that meant we needed to leave town early on Monday, but we had Sunday to find out more.

By the end of the day, the magical navigation beacons they had planted around the royal palace in Oslo had been removed and were around a lake just north of the town, in the hope that they'd be used by paratroopers. The two Nazis who'd been planting them in the bushes in the park that surrounds the palace had been arrested by the local police under suspicion of indecency (two men coming out of a bush with one of them very out of breath from doing rituals has a plausible mundane explanation), although they were released later. Careful use of face-changing magic, small doses of paralytic and hallucinogenic poisons and a bit of brainwashing had caused the magician to do a ritual that drove the leader insane enough to murder one of his men, and still be obviously psychotic next morning. The ritual magician is now missing, and nobody knows where he is. The Norwegian police and foreign office are putting parts of the story together, and we've left town.

The ritual was quite clever: he summoned what seemed to be the spirit of Munch's The Scream, and set it on his boss.


(he, him)
Couldn't participate, they played anyway. (which is fine by me)
We do that with out main games if one player is missing, and cancel for two (unless the one player is the GM of course). We just found we were getting too many calculations before we instituted that.

Our Sunday game only has three players (including the GM), so that one gets cancelled if anyone is missing. Speaking of which....

Sunday: Grick, duergar, and a roper.
The previous session (which was two weeks ago) had a fight with a pair of gricks, with one being downed and the other having run away due to a fear spell. They encountered the remaining grick again last night - they wanted to get past it but were not necessarily keen to kill it, so I asked for an intimidate check. Predictably the party royally fluffed it, even with a sizable circumstance bonus I had in mind for them. So the grick attacked. If I had realised that grick only 2 hp left, I might have given them a bigger circumstance bonus....

Apart from that, they tried to negotiate passage with a band of duergar. Negotiations broke down quite quickly, due to terrible diplomacy (they are not the best party for social skills, and failed to roll above a 5 on any social skill all session) and the fact they did not really offer the duergar anything. So they backed away and went to explore other parts of the dungeon.

They explored a bit more, fought a grey ooze (and one player lost a boot* kicking it), and then finished the session about to attack a roper. Since they are level 3** and the roper is CR 12, next session is going to be very interesting....


* The grey ooze's acid ability is somewhat oddly worded as to what it affects and how, but I decided that boots (and claws) striking it would be damaged on a failed save. Luckily, the PCs have pretty good saves. Actually, I forgot about that bit when I wrote the post in the other thread.

** The PCs are tougher than the average level 3 PC because there are only two of them, but OTOH there are only two of them.
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We do that with out main games if one player is missing, and cancel for two (unless the one players is the GM of course). We just found we were getting too many calculations before we instituted that.

Our Sunday game only has three players (including the GM), so that one gets cancelled if anyone is missing. Speaking of which....
Discovered today they didn't play after all. They decided to push back the game. The GM wants everyone because there are only 2 games left to the mini-campaign.


Phandelver with five kids. Amazing.

Same with me, but four kids. Has been a blast.

We are just mopping up the Wave Echo Cave for the XP to start Mad Mage at level 5. When they came to the Flameskull today (from my 5 words), I really couldn’t NOT have it cast fireball. 8d6 is very dangerous against 5 fourth levels (wife also playing)… only two out of five saved… 25 damage to the rest, glad it was a little below 28 average… the halfling rogue would have been at 0. The dwarven cleric was crying in worry… I felt bad, but he (and all of them) needed to see they could pull it off, which they did… thanks to the elven mage blasting away at the Flameskull.

It was a lot of fun.

Didn't fight Beholder; reported it.
We're hexcrawling territory that our home country ("Landcentre") is going to annex, looking for settlements that need to be offered the choice of joining or moving. We found a bunch of gnolls, led by a flind, who were spending their days hunting, and had a crane on top of a seacoast cliff that they were using to lower much of the food they generated to a cave in the cliff-face. This seemed odd, so we captured the flind and started asking questions.

There's a beholder living in the cave. It's been visited by some dwarves, who built the crane, and by an elf who had a basilisk and two cockatrices with him. We knew there was someone around the area with cockatrices, although we'd never met them. We contacted "Room 37", a front organisation for Landcentre's intelligence service, and they were quite interested. They started scrying the cave, and advised us to make ourselves scarce. We had not been sure we were up to fighting a beholder, as an 8th level party (AD&D1e), so we were happy to comply. We headed to the nearest military base and left the flind with them, to be taken back to the capital and have his mind read in detail, them returned to hexcrawling well away from the beholder.


(he, him)
They explored a bit more, fought a grey ooze (and one player lost a boot* kicking it), and then finished the session about to attack a roper. Since they are level 3** and the roper is CR 12, next session is going to be very interesting....

Sunday: Roper TPK in two installment.
As I feared, the party did not survive fighting the roper.

We called the session early due to one PC being killed outright by the roper's first attack (it critted and then rolled above average for damage), and the other was rendered unconscious trying to retrieve his body. So we had a bit of a chat about replacement characters then called the session. And then one of the players realised that his character was not quite unconscious. So after an exchange of messages on Discord we went back into voice chat to conclude fight. It took the roper two more rounds to finish of the remaining PC.

Also, Discord has messed with the permissions for bots, so Dice Maiden has had to change the way it works. It took us about ten minutes at the start of the session to figure how to reactivate die rolls....

Vampires vs werewolves, party intervene.
This is "BCU Black," a GURPS Action campaign set in the present-day UK, where the Civil Nuclear Constabulary has ended up with responsibility for occult matters. We were sent to look for the estranged son of a well-connected magician who is dying of cancer, and found that the son is a werewolf, caught up in a vampires vs werewolves conflict. We have the son, the artifact he was trying to get hold of so that he could summon Viking-age werewolf ghosts, and a young werewolf whose life my medic character was able to save and whom he hopes to recruit. All the vampires we've seen are dead bar their leader, who fled in smoke form. I have a plan involving radioactive gas for future vampire leaders, since radioactivity suppresses magic.

aramis erak

(Wed Star Wars EotE)
inquisitor found jedi via compassion...
(Oops - wrong thread!)

So the explanation... while the rest of the party were off watching/winning a big fight card's main event (starring a PC), the padawan survivor and the cap-ship astromech held down the fort...
an inquisitor was suspicious, and finds the ship's spukami... and mind controls it to drak in a force-using apex predator's tortured by the inquisitor kit as a test for compassion... and, finding it, comes to capture or kill the kiddo...

He fails, but largely because they take out his weapons, and the dark side failed him at key points... he flees...
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Swords of the Serpentine:

Yesterday, Group #4 and I had our first session.

It's early Serpentibile 998, early Autumn, and the Famiglia Di Marcelli (our PCs) have their weekly lunch in a tavern where they book a private room for their secret gatherings. They're delivered the Serpentine Gazette, as usual, and they learn that the Famiglia Cassini, a Mercanti family, will host an exhibition in two days where many inventions will be displayed.

Many high-profile guests are to attend, such as the Losanga, a branch of the Triskadele, but also the Church of Denari, just to make sure that everything goes well and that no sorcery is involved. The Gazette also assumes that it's a way for the Mercanti to carve their way through the new millennium in a positive way, as many bad omens and portents are certainly about to flood Eversink in a few months.

So, our PCs all decide to crash that expo by using their allegiances to secure their ticket in. The sorcerer in the group also learns that one of the inventions, the Prophetic Automaton, will certainly be the highlight of the show, and they way his fellow sorcerers describe it, it seems that it's not a genuine invention, but knowledge stolen from the Di Marcelli family a century ago during its demise (what the family calls "the Great Purge").

However, when they gather in another place in the evening, they realise that they have no real plans and no common objective, an issue this very dysfunctional family will need to fix if they really want their self-appointed mission to succeed.

Killed quickling, looted the fort.
This is GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, playing through the Pathfinder 1e adventure path Kingmaker. We've just finished part 2, "Rivers Run Red." The characters are probably more capable than the 4th-5th level Pathfinder characters the scenario is designed for, but the party is very small.

We have a knight, operating with broadsword and shield, an air magician, although his player has been absent from the last two sessions, a necromancer and his clerical henchman.

The necromancer is . . . eccentric. He calls himself a psychopomp, and has a sense of duty to the recently dead. So we find ourselves doing funerals for people killed by monsters, and the necromancer goes round in chain and shield, hitting things with a battle-axe. He's considered learning Turn Zombie, but GURPS requires you to know how to make zombies before you can turn them, and learning that would be very much against his principles. I'm not sure just why he's become an adventurer, but his clerical henchman is here to try to reform him.


(he, him)
Thursday: More giants. Drakes. Eldritch blast!
The first three words were pretty straight-forward - things we fought. Eldritch blast was because I, with the GM's permission, had reworked my character to include some Warlock levels, so I had something better to do than resort to acid splash when I was running low on spells (or was worried about running low on spells) - which considering Shattered Star includes a lot of fairly-large dungeons is basically all the time. This was the first time I got to use it!


thief tips with an axe

This session started with a rebuild due to homebrew system changes, but we got some time in playing. The party had made it out of town and through the swamp to a camp site. Wanting to reduce the danger modifier to the event roll, they decided to take steps to hide their camp.

So the barbarian turns to the thief and says, “I’m going to find some branches we can use to find the camp. Use my axe to cut them down.” The thief then asks, “Is your axe a two-handed weapon?” You see, the thief is a vuple (a small, anthro, fox-like ancestry). Small creatures can’t use 2-handed weapons. He’s about two feet tall.

So he’s like, “I grab your axe and tip over backwards.” The whole group started laughing at the ridiculous situation, but it gets better. The barbarian (being of the sort that doesn’t like magic) then tells the thief to use his magical dagger to cut the branches. That really got people going! 😂

Fortunately, they ended up figuring out another way to work together to get what they needed.
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thief makes barbarian punch cleric

The party entered the dungeon this week, which is The Incandescent Grottoes. It’s a trippy dungeon with a nice helping of traps. Inside, they found the ooze cult’s template and started exploring it. There’s one part with a stuck door that reveals a room with some shelving, strange eyes on the ceiling, and a mysterious switch. Naturally, having no sense of self-preservation, the party wants to flip the switch. The cleric and the retainers‡ retreat far back while the barbarian pokes it with her spear and the thief peaks around next to her to watch. The switch activates the eyes, which requires them to make a saving throw or go berserk. Naturally, they both fail.

The cleric hears the commotion and goes to help with the problem: the barbarian and thief are wresting and biting and punching each other. I run with mostly table-facing information, so they know it will be over soon, but the cleric wants to help anyway. She casts cleanse* on the thief, which removes the berserk effect (her cleanse is at +3 and can remove paralysis, fear, poison, and curses; so I figured it was probably something like a curse). With the thief back to normal, he yells at the barbarian, who was still beating him up, “Look, there’s a magic user†!” Which is true. Clerics are in the mage group in my system, so they are magic users. So the barbarian goes over and punches the cleric. 😂

* I’m working on a modification to magic for my system that converts traditional D&D spells into a system that uses magic points and treats spells as a form of magical speciality you can acquire like other specialties. I’ve combined similar spells together in places and made their rank determine what effects you get.
† The barbarian class in my homebrew system takes cues from classic AD&D barbarians in not liking magic, but it doesn’t require they smash magic items or restrict who they can have as a companion. Instead, they have 0 mp no matter what (making them incapable of using magic) and gain extra stress from most beneficial effects.
‡ It is ironic that the group who disliked retainers in Old-School Essentials now has three retainers in a system designed with the expectation they wouldn’t be necessary. 🙃

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