Session 09 & 10 of “Liberation of the Demon Slayer”

Here is the full party:

Niblog the Untrustworhty = Assassin PC
Exardell = Mystic PC
Joan = Fighter NPC
Glevina = Elven Ranger NPC
Jerry, son of Terry = Fighter NPC who carries a torch

Hans = Fighter PC (player is unable to join for a while, so he is sitting at the tavern and visiting the horribly wounded former adventurers)

Session Report
Due to session 09 being cut short, I will combine the sessions in this post.

Who needs spellcasters?

This party doesn’t!*

* Actually, they do.

After the slaughter of last session, they returned to town and picked up a few new friends. For some reason, other than Glevina, we have decided that every NPC they hire is now part of the same family. Terry, Jerry, and now Joan (pictured below).

Joan
The Icewind Dale games had the best portraits for characters. Period.

On the 4th floor of the dungeon, they met a kobold named Krinjess who was a worshipper of Ulusek-Lokvarr, along with his “beefy kobold minions”. The party immediately tried to attack the beefy kobolds, but they refused to die in one hit. So, a new tactic was created. Conversation.

After convincing this charismatic leader that they took care of the heretics on level 3, who profaned the holy name of Ulusek-Lokvarr by dividing his holy name into two, they received two loyal kobold followers (Bertrand and Ernesto) to accompany them on a holy mission of butt-kicking. Please note, the party cannot speak Kobold and the Kobolds cannot speak Common.

Shortly thereafter, upon making the acquaintance of a slave trader, they attacked the slaver and freed the slaves. One was a worshipper of Yog-soggoth who wants to restore the temple on level 2. The party let him go. There will be absolutely no consequences to this action. Nope. None at all.

They also found a hobogoblin named Broon who can read, write, and do basic arithmetic. He can also speak Common and Kobold! The party immediately brought him on as an accountant / torchbearer / translator.

They also discovered a strange women dressed in leather bondage gear who wanders level 4 of the dungeon. She did not speak to them, but just walked away. They discovered her bedroom and read from her journal. She is the consort of a powerful demon named Vord down below, which means NO ONE messes with her. Apparently, he is worried about a “code of ascension”, whatever that is.

Further exploration located a group of sexy dark elves who love “experimentation” that would make polite society blanch. Demonic magic? Alchemical drinks? Vivsection? Nothing is off-limits to them. For their next round of experimentation, they wanted some half-dark elves. The party politely declined to assist them in making some half-dark elves… if you know what I mean.

Leaving the relative safety of the dark elf encampment, the party was beset by a mighty monstrous warrior. Upon defeating him, a little imp appeared and told the party that he had possessed the warrior. The imp was looking for the most powerful warrior in the dungeon. The party, in a rare sort of humility, told the imp that Krinjess was the most powerful warrior in the dungeon, not any of them. The imp immediately left to go find Krinjess. Once again, there will be absolutely no consequences to this action. Nope. None at all.

Session 09 ended here and we picked up Session 10 after the imp left.

The party heard some grunting and the stomping of massive feet. They investigated and found a couple of giant demonic, draconic, spider things. One green and one red.

ATTACK!

The red one went down quickly, but the green one fought back with poison gas. Jerry and the two kobolds fell to its anger before it expired. They party took all the valuables that these beasts had stored and went back to town. Another of the blue lions with mind powers appeared, but they were able to convince it that the nasty gnome on floor 4 would be good eatin’.

Upon returning to town and informing the family that Jerry was dead, his sister Sherry the Cleric joined up. This family is a glutton for punishment. Really, it’s an excuse to find names that rhyme with Terry.

The party decided to actually find the demon slaying sword they were told to find, so they though to check the creepy sacraphagus that they ran away from level 1, the one surrounded by giant maggots the size of a fat cat.

Fat Cat
The maggots are “MEGACHONKER” size. And no, I will not apologize to any cats that are offended by this. I will body-shame the hell out of a cat if I want to.

The sword was there and it is intelligent!

Did the party return it to town? Give it to the old guy on level 3?

Nope!

They are keeping it for themselves. There will be absolutely no consequences to this action. Nope. None at all.

Finally, before the session ended, they went back to level 4 and fought some demonically twisted gnolls (tentacles, odd growths, and even shark heads grafted onto their bellies) that had a bound and gagged prisoner. Next session, we will see what happens to that prisoner, now that the party is victorious.

Lesson Learned
I cannot roll monster initiative to save my life. Seriously. 2’s and 3’s everywhere. The party consistently rolls 4’s and up. Combined with their love of ambush tactics, they can sometimes get two rounds of attacks on the enemy before the enemy can react.

Remembering the Fallen

tombstone
Jerry, Son of Terry the former torchbearer / Fighter (death by poison gas of a green demo-dragon spider)
Bertrand the Kobold (death by poison gas of a green demo-dragon spider)
Ernesto the Kobold (death by poison gas of a green demo-dragon spider)

Do You Want In?
Sunday nights from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm-ish Central Time on Roll 20.

It’s a “drop in / drop out” deal. You can’t make a session? No big deal. Don’t like my GMing style and want out? No big deal. You can hit me up on Twitter (@NotJohnDaker), email (themixedgm@yahoo.com), or MeWe (if you know Power Word: My Real Name)

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Session 08 of “Liberation of the Demon Slayer”

Here is the full party:

Bord Fask = Mage PC
Ilkhannar = Elven Nightblade PC (elven thief + wizard)
Iloni = Nobrian Wonderworker NPC (wizard + cleric spells, but no combat skills)
Glevina = Elven Ranger NPC
Jerry, son of Terry = Fighter NPC who carries a torch

Hans = Fighter PC (player is unable to join for a while, so he is sitting at the tavern and visiting the horribly wounded former adventurers)

Session Report
After the absolute slaughter on level 3, the party ventured down to level 4, loaded up with phasers and plenty of magical items. Shortly after arriving, they met a dark elf named Teft who just wanted to be left alone. He had escaped from his dark elf clan and was seeking some solitude.

The party had other plans.

They killed him. He wasn’t hostile, but they killed him anyway. Ilkhannar, the Elven Nightblade, initiated the battle with a backstab. As one of the players said, “Elves are magically malicious”.

I am slightly afraid to meet my players in real life.

Upon his death, they acquired his staff that makes a hailstorm once per day, as well as his magical amulet that protects against 10 cold damage a round, and a +3 dagger.

They were hurt and went back to town for rest. Upon returning to the dungeon, they were attacked by degenerate cannibals, but fought them off with no problems. The cannibals were eating the dead dark elf. If a human eats an elf, does that make the human a cannibal? Hmm….

Further exploration revealed a room full of bloodless bodies and a room with a door covered in a bat motif. They went in and saw a coffin covered in jewels. Approaching the coffin, a vampire wielding a two-handed sword came out.

Vampire
Imagine the sword has a bunch of evil-looking runes on it.

He was initially friendly and offered them gold to bring him some “food”. The party considered finding the annoying gnome they met earlier on this floor (which I have not mentioned in the blog post until now) and giving him to the vampire, but decided to attack him instead.

He charged them and, despite the slight bonuses that a ‘Protection from Evil’ spell afforded them, he went through them like me through a Chinese buffet. 4 party members hit the floor and only two ever got up again. Cleaves are brutal when the enemy can use them on you.

Somehow, the damage the party did (particularly the flaming arrows from Glevina) dropped the vampire, so this did not turn into a party wipe. We’ll see what happens next week with a bunch of new party members!

Lesson Learned
The Cleave rule cuts both ways.

Remembering the Fallen
tombstone08
Iloni the Nobirian Wonderworker (cleaved in twain by an angry vampire)
Bord Fask the Mage (cleaved in twain by an angry vampire)

Furthermore, Ilkhannar is completely blind and he has wisely decided to retire from adventuring. Jerry, son of Terry lost one eye, but he still can fight!

Do You Want In?
Sunday nights from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm-ish Central Time on Roll 20.

It’s a “drop in / drop out” deal. You can’t make a session? No big deal. Don’t like my GMing style and want out? No big deal. You can hit me up on Twitter (@NotJohnDaker), email (themixedgm@yahoo.com), or MeWe (if you know Power Word: My Real Name)

Session 06 & 07 of “Liberation of the Demon Slayer”

Here is the full party:

Bord Fask = Mage PC
Ilkhannar = Elven Nightblade PC (elven thief + wizard)
Iloni = Nobrian Wonderworker NPC (wizard + cleric spells, but no combat skills)
Glevina = Elven Ranger NPC
Terry the Torchbearer = NPC who carries a torch

Hans = Fighter PC (player is unable to join for a while)

Session Report
In these two sessions, the party finished clearing out level 2, but alas, upon opening a door clearly labeled as “DO NOT OPEN”, a beast with hooks for hands and acidic breath tore up Terry. He barely survived.

The part needed a new torchbearer, so they went to town and found Jerry to carry the torch.

Now down to level 3.

This level of the dungeon has a strong sci-fi feel, but more importantly, it has the two rival factions that worship the god Ulusek or the god Lokvaar. These two factions hate each other (and are roughly of equal strength), so the party can get into all kinds of mischief.

Essentially, the Ulusekians have a nuclear bomb and the Lokvaarians are a bit afraid of that. It is a deterrent to any large scale attacks by the Lokvaarians. However, the Ulusekians want to protect “the device”, so they cannot commit as many people to a pitched battle.

ENTER THE PARTY

After meeting with the Ulusekians, they talked rather than stabbed. Once they got the lay of the land, they went to speak to the Lokvaarians. Now, the Lokvaarians have a “friendship bracelet” that identifies the wearer as a Lokvaarian. This bracelet ticks and has a red flashing light on it. Totally, not a bomb.

The party said they were friends of Lokvaar, but took one of the friendship bracelets in their pack before heading back to the Ulusek territory.

Upon meeting with the bomb guards, they found out the there was a giant switch on the wall that would activate the bomb. Disabling the switch would disable the bomb.

Naturally, the party convinced the Lokvaarians to attack the Ulusekians and convinced the Ulusekians that they would defend the bomb switch. How did they convince the Lokvaarians? By saying that they would disable the bomb. How did they convince the Ulusekians? By slapping a “friendship bracelet” on a Ulusekian and revealing the Ulusekian as a traitor!

A massive battle between the forces of Lokvaar and Ulusek ended with a complete slaughter. And 50 phasers for the party to use.

This session was less about combat and more about being a conman. The party could have started attacking everything that moved, but they didn’t. Sometimes, talking can fix your problems.

Before wrapping up the session, the party met three ancient men who tasked them with three tasks:

– Disable the nuclear bomb
– Get the magic sword they were originally sent down into the dungeon (will they give the sword to the town or the old man. Hmmm…)
– Get the magic sword owned by the high priest of K’tulu

Each one promises to teach a party member a special mental power. Ilkhannar can make heads explode like in Scanners, due to disabling the nuclear bomb. Now what kind of trouble can he get into…

YOUR HEAD ASPLODE
KABOOM

Lesson Learned
Don’t try to write two sessions into one blog post.

Remembering the Fallen
None this time. Terry the Torchbearer is out for a month.

Do You Want In?
Sunday nights from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm-ish Central Time on Roll 20.

It’s a “drop in / drop out” deal. You can’t make a session? No big deal. Don’t like my GMing style and want out? No big deal. You can hit me up on Twitter (@NotJohnDaker), email (themixedgm@yahoo.com), or MeWe (if you know Power Word: My Real Name)

Interview With Author Kit Sun Cheah

In addition to old-school roleplaying games, I enjoy reading fantasy and science fiction stories. Unfortunately, there is a lot of garbage out there, so finding the good stuff can be hard.

Luckily, there are some authors out there writing great fantasy and science fiction. One of the authors bringing us good fiction is Kit Sun Cheah.

When I saw that he was doing a Kickstarter for a trilogy of novels that had an OSR influence, I asked him for an interview about the novels. Without further ado, here is the interview:

Who or what was your introduction into the OSR?

You were, actually.

In 2017, I saw the term OSR floating around the PulpRev community and the Castalia House blog. I started investigating the term, and found a number of blogs discussing OSR. Including yours. That was my first introduction to OSR, and the mindset and aesthetic stuck with me since.

What about the OSR inspires you, over more modern approaches to D&D?

Modern D&D rules cheapen death and violence.

My first exposure to D&D was the Forgotten Realms Gold Box. It’s a compilation of games based on Advanced D&D’s ruleset, bestiary and lore. I didn’t finish them, but I regularly devoured the lore books. Among the things that stood out to me were the mechanics for death and combat. A character who fell to 0 HP is out of the fight, and at negative health a character is unconscious must pass a saving throw every turn or lose health. At -10, he dies. To prevent this, other PCs can heal him. There was a resurrection spell, but it was restricted to high-level magic users, and it imposed a permanent cost of 2 Constitution points with every successful use.

In 5E D&D, characters must make at least three death saving throws. A player must roll a 10 or higher on a d20, and rolling a 20 restores 1 HP. A resurrection spell imposes −4 penalty to all attack rolls, saving throws, and ability checks, but this is reduced by 1 with every long rest.

What we see here is a trend towards reducing the penalty of combat gone wrong. And even when the worst happens, you can bring the dead party member back without (too much) penalty.

In addition, 5E combat rules allow the player to stack the odds in their favour through abilities and maneuvers, such as Bonus Actions, moving between attacks, and so on. I find that these are meant to aid the player in winning a fight instead of mechanically reflecting the chaos of a true battle. It makes the player feel powerful by granting an artificial advantage over the monsters, instead of having the characters earn their victories.

These rulesets allows players to experience a long narrative, and to preserve their characters with their backstories and attendant emotional investment. But I feel this also insulates players from the consequences of bad decisions (not to mention carries some disturbing worldbuilding implications if resurrection spells can be flung around without permanent penalty).

In contrast, OSR games tend towards very lethal combat, in a nod to D&D’s wargaming roots. A decision to do battle has true impact and emotional weight, and becomes a genuine risk-reward calculus. Preparation for battle — as opposed to using special abilities in combat — is critical to success, and avoiding combat is a valid option. At the same time, if a character dies, well, you roll a new one and carry on. I find this to be a better reflection of how combat — especially large-scale combat — is fought.

If it won’t spoil anything in the novels, is there a particular OSR concept or module that inspired you when writing Dungeon Samurai?

OSR’s deadly combat, lasting consequences of death, and lack of special PC abilities to turn the tide in their favour.

I wanted death and injuries to have lasting consequences. This in turn meant lethal combat. Humans can use healing prayers to recover from wounds, but these prayers are limited to clerics and have a sharply limited stock. Once exhausted, the clerics need 24 hours to replenish their stocks. Further, the more severe the wound, the more powerful a healing spell is needed — and the greater the drain on a cleric’s mental stamina. In addition, there are no resurrection prayers. When someone dies, he’s done.

That said, the demon occasionally rips into our world to abduct humans from across time periods. This is the functional equivalent of rolling a batch of new characters.

The highly lethal nature of combat here translates into a very methodical approach to clearing the dungeon. Nothing is left to chance, you cannot count on a prayer or skill to save you all the time, and sending in inexperienced and untrained rookies into the dungeon will lead to a bloodbath.

The humans here do have special abilities, granted by a benevolent power, like modern D&D’s feats and class features. But these abilities don’t make them overpowered, and the most powerful ones come with great cost. The protagonist, Yamada Yuuki, has the special skill of Kamikaze. When activated, he becomes a berserker — but using it leaves him exhausted, and overuse can kill him. These abililities must be saved for special occasions.

Other skills have lower costs, but more subtle and low-key effects. There are characters who can carry heavy loads and walk long distances without fatigue, but it doesn’t necessarily make them better fighters. Other characters can grant passive buffs, but they are not instant win conditions. Sharpshooters are extremely deadly with ranged weapons, but if they are surprised, terrified, or don’t know what to aim at, their skill is negated.

Lastly, traps are everywhere in the dungeon, all of them deadly. You cannot simply tough out a trap and carry on. When venturing into unknown space, characters must tap the walls, floor and ceiling, and must sweep the space in front of them for tripwires. They must pay attention to their safety lamps, or they will suffocate in a cloud of poison gas. If they don’t have the right gear to handle a trap, or they run out, they must turn back and resupply — the dungeon is just too dangerous to risk it.

On the Kickstarter page, you mention “isekai”, a popular genre from Japan where people from the real world find themselves in a fantasy world. In such a crowded genre, how will this series distinguish itself?

Many isekai stories are power fantasies and self-insert stories. These days, isekai stories follow a time-honoured process. Take an average Japanese male, send him to a fantasy world, grant him cheat skills and/or equipment, and have him explore the world. Bonus points if it’s a LitRPG setting based on modern D&D or JRPGs, complete with HP and MP and EXP. Our Hero, heavily reliant on his cheat skills and/or OP gear, breezes through combat and other difficult situations without lasting consequences. Combat is a spectacle designed to show off the characters’ skills by having them mow down tons of disposable mooks. If there’s romance, Our Hero is usually too dense to notice affection and acts like an idiot, but always somehow attracts the attention of beautiful women. If Our Hero is aware of his love interest(s), he is almost always too chicken to do anything more than scream in terror and run away.

Dungeon Samurai, in contrast, takes an ultra-realistic approach. The abductees aren’t bland nobodies; they have histories, skills, experience, all of which comes into play. They do have skills, but these aren’t overpowered, and aren’t necessarily always the right tools for the job. They don’t have any major advantages over the monsters. They must track their weapons, health, prayers, tools and other items all the time.

Combat is deadly, and hinges on being aggressive and seizing opportunities as they arise. A single mistake, or just plain bad luck, is fatal. The soldiers must rely on their training, their experience, and each other. They must be methodical in their preparations, paranoid in explorations, and aggressive in combat. Where isekai heroes fight as individual warriors who occasionally cooperate, here the samurai must fight in disciplined formations. They must learn from the monsters and adapt to them — but the monsters are also learning from them. Prolonged combat exacts a profound psychological toll on soldiers as well, and as the story progresses they must look after their own mental health.

There’s also a love story. Without a dense MC, or an MC too shy or stupid to act. And a feminine love interest who supports the hero instead of being snarky or abusive.

You have a background in martial arts. In your previous work, you have written some realistic fight scenes. How do you adapt real-world fighting techniques to fantasy monsters?

I was planning to write a blog post about that, but here are the highlights:

1. Understand the anatomy of the characters involved. Vital organs are primary targets; joints can be manipulated, locked or destroyed; sensory organs can be targeted to gain an advantage. These tell you what to target — and what the characters (monster and human) will strive to protect.

2. Make full use of a monster’s unique physiological traits. The mole men in Dungeon Samurai have long, powerful tentacles from their snouts, and will use them in close quarters to grapple with a soldier or break his neck. Huge monsters may try to crush someone under their bulk, while monsters with acid spit will attack characters at a distance. Each monster should have a distinct fighting style that allows them to make use of these advantages.

3. Understand and employ the signature techniques and concepts of the humans’ fighting styles. The hero of Dungeon Samurai uses Kukishin-Ryu, a classical Japanese martial art. One of its signature moves is a sudden drop to the knees and a powerful upward slash or thrust. This shows up when appropriate in combat. Speaking of koryu, the classical Japanese martial arts, in general, there tends to be an emphasis on lethality and efficiency. Grappling techniques are designed to lock a target and expose his vital organs for a stab, break a limb, spike his head against the ground, or all of the above. Footwork tends to be deceptively subtle, just enough to reposition yourself without appearing to have made a significant displacement. Older koryu schools also teach the use of weapons for grappling, above and beyond simply slashing, stabbing or striking the opponent. These distinct concepts should show up and be adapted where appropriate.

4. Armour, if present, should be a major factor. Armour influences how characters move and act in a scene. Samurai in armour are trained to move in specific ways to minimise exposure of the openings in their armour, while the techniques they use in armored combat are meant to break open the opponent’s guard and expose those openings. They may look awkward and rigid when moving (at least, when performing kata), but once they engage the enemy they usually stab or slash an opening, disrupt his balance, throw him down, or a combination thereof. In the same fashion, monsters will protect themselves using their armour. If anti-armour weapons aren’t present, then the characters in a fight scene must work their way around the armour.

5. Take full advantage of a weapon’s unique properties. The samurai rely on three main hand weapons. The jumonji yari, a spear fitted with a crossblade; a tanto, or dagger; and the sasumata, best described as a spear fork. In addition to slashing and stabbing, a jumonji yari’s crossblade can entangle an opponent or trip him (or cut his knee tendons from behind). A tanto is a last-ditch close quarters weapon — which, among other things, can be used to cut a mole’s tentacles off you before the monster breaks your neck. Sasumata usually fulfill the role of the iconic 10 foot pole; the samurai use them to sweep for traps and tripwires. However, the wide fork can be used to jam an enemy’s limb or pin him against a wall. A weapon’s form tells you what it can do, and you can adapt these to the threats appropriately.

6. Adapt the techniques to the monsters and environment. One of the reasons I chose samurai as the main characters is because koryu isn’t well-suited for the tight confines of a dungeon. For instance, when grappling with a monster, if you perform any kind of over-the-shoulder throw, you’re throwing the monster into your buddy behind you or to the side. Your buddy won’t appreciate it, and you’ve just opened a hole in your formation. Likewise, if you try to throw a monster onto his back, the monster behind him will prop it up. This forces the samurai to either pull the enemy down and into them, or to pin them against a wall and stab them. In addition, koryu is highly focused on individual combat, but survival in the dungeon demands fighting in tight formations, which negates all techniques that require fancy footwork or side steps. When monsters with armour or unusual physiology and abilities show up, the samurai must work to expose their weaknesses and prevent the enemy from using their advantages. The idea is to have the characters constantly think and adapt to whatever they face, which creates an immersive experience for the reader.

Is there anything else you would like to say to everyone reading this?

Thanks for reading the interview! If the idea of a hardcore dungeon crawl run like a military campaign appeals to you, be sure to check out my Kickstarter!


FULL DISCLOSURE: I have backed the Kickstarter. And you should too!

Session 05 of “Liberation of the Demon Slayer”

Here is the full party:

Venkman = Fighter PC
Ilkhannar = Elven Nightblade PC (elven thief + wizard)
Iloni = Nobrian Wonderworker NPC (wizard + cleric spells, but no combat skills)
Glevina = Elven Ranger NPC who is crushin’ hard on Venkman
Terry the Torchbearer = NPC who carries a torch

Hans = Fighter PC (player is unable to join for a while)

Session Report
The session began in town, so that Ilkhannar and Iloni were added to the party. Then, back to the dungeon!

Speaking of the dungeon, I made the most adjustments to Level 2. I am running a module and, long story short, I decided the Level 2 needed a little bit more stuff. I am the GM and I do what I want!

I created this three way battle for control of Level 2 between the vampire toad bat things, amphibian men, & priests of the entities-whose-names-should-not-be-said-out-loud. So I populated some of the rooms with members of these three groups.

Exploring Level 2, they came across a room of amphibian men who summoned a a tentacled monstrosity and decided to kill them all with the power of cleaves. The monstrosity was stuck in a summoning circle until the circle was erased by the amphibian men. As it escaped the circle, it killed an amphibian man and then attacked the party.

Iloni cast “protection from evil”, which can be maintained as long as she concentrated. Which she did. The entire battle.

Orange Juice
“She was like a blonde looking at some orange juice”

This spell prevented the summoned beast from touching the party, so long as they stayed in a 10-foot radius of Iloni. Naturally, she warned the party to stay within 10 feet of her.

Venkman did not obey that warning. He strode forth to fight it hand to tentacle! Upon striking him, he had to save or go mad.

He did not save. Venkman went mad and the monstrosity broke both his arms. Don’t worry, we sent him to the nice retirement home for adventurers!

So the player rolled up a new character, a wizard named Bord Flak. Now, with no frontline people, the torchbearer has been upgraded to meatshield. This can only end well.

Further exploration yielded some robes for the party to disguise themselves as priests of the entities-whose-names-should-not-be-said-out-loud. Disguise time!

Who needs a disguise skill? If you put on a cloak and act like an evil priest, they will think you are one of them. Simple enough. The party used skill and exploration to acquire the disguises, so I am not going to take them away because of a bad roll.

Of course, the party found some of the priests and began talking to them. As a GM, I was wondering what information they were going to try to acquire…

SURPRISE STAB!

… never mind.

Our elven nightblade has the absolute worst luck when it comes to damage rolls for backstabs. Double damage on a successful backstab is great… until you roll a ‘1’ for damage. Maybe next week, there will be some successful, high-damage backstabs.

The session ended in the dungeon, but if anyone wants to join, hit me up and I’ll find a way to work you in.

Lesson Learned
The cleave rule in ACKS makes fighting lots of weak opponents possible!

Remembering the Fallen
None this time. Just the retirement of Venkman.

Do You Want In?
Sunday nights from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm-ish Central Time on Roll 20.

It’s a “drop in / drop out” deal. You can’t make a session? No big deal. Don’t like my GMing style and want out? No big deal. You can hit me up on Twitter (@NotJohnDaker), email (themixedgm@yahoo.com), or MeWe (if you know Power Word: My Real Name)


P.S. One of my players is a great author who has a collection of stories that came out on today. Check it out!

Session 04 of “Liberation of the Demon Slayer”

Here is the full party:

Venkman = Fighter PC
Hans = Fighter PC
Ferrutious Alanious = Barbarian PC
Eddie the Disfigured = Fighter NPC
Thadeus = Elven Spellsword NPC
Glevina = Elven Ranger NPC who is crushin’ hard on Venkman
Terry the Torchbearer = NPC who carries a torch

Session Report
Forget the “Big Game”. This was our big game!

Or as I like to think of it, “that session dominated by a blue lion that can dominate minds”

Hmm… a fictional lion with mind control powers dominated the minds of real people for an evening. There’s a story in there, but I am not the right person to write it.

Anyway, actual session report. Back on Level 2, Hans the PC (player wasn’t there) and Eddie the Disfigured were sent to guard the stairs up to Level 1. The party began to explore the cave and discovered the cave walls contain strange green crystals which explode when thrown.

Then, the party encounters the blue lion that can dominate minds and it tears them up. First with mind domination. Then with claws.

lion
“Lay down and cover yourself with barbecue sauce. That hasn’t been invented yet? Just lay down.”

Several characters succumbed to the lion’s wishes. It came down to one saving throw to shake off the mind domination and keep one character fighting back. One saving throw to prevent another TPK.

And, despite how awful the party had been rolling for saving throws, the throw succeeded!

After this near-disaster, they somehow beat it up and made it run away.

While pursuing the lion, it tried to dominate a water elemental to make it help assist in fighting off the party, but the water elemental saved and the two began fighting. The party watched as the two fought and once the combatants were weakened from fighting each other, the party threw a crystal at them to finish them off.

The stuff of heroic epics, this wasn’t. But they lived and found the Rod of Strange Things! Which is an odd magic item that I cannot describe here, because I know my players might read this. I hope they us it. *insert evil GM smile here*

Further exploration revealed a church of an evil cult that was surprisingly empty of cultists and the players considered getting into real estate when they found that the the high priest’s chambers were nicer than the inn they stayed at in town.

Now… my players are great. Really smart and clever fellows. But I am afraid of them. Very afraid.

They came to a door and heard some croaking sounds behind it. Assuming the worst, they all got a green crystal, opened the door, threw the crystals in, and shut the door.

BOOM.

They nearly killed a third of the amphibian men inhabiting the chamber! Despite the attempts of the some of the survivors to summon a strange tentacle-y monster, the party managed to kill all the amphibian men and return to town quite wealthy.

Ferrutious Alanious and Thadeus were both crippled this session. Ferrutious retired from adventuring and Thadeus might be retired*. But, in town, new characters can arrive!

Lesson Learned
Sometimes, it is okay to retire a character.

Remembering the Fallen

tombstoneasdasdasdasd

Eddie the Disfigured / Fighter 1 (killed heroically in battle)

Do You Want In?
Sunday nights from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm-ish Central Time on Roll 20.

It’s a “drop in / drop out” deal. You can’t make a session? No big deal. Don’t like my GMing style and want out? No big deal. You can hit me up on Twitter (@NotJohnDaker), email (themixedgm@yahoo.com), or MeWe (if you know Power Word: My Real Name).


* Thadeus knows the floating disc spell and is crippled. My players might make this real:

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Check Out These Two Products!

There are a couple of products I

The first is a Kickstarter: Cha’alt by Venger Satanis.

It is a Kickstarter that ends soon and I really want to see it succeed. It a little over $1,000 away from funding! Here is the description from Kickstarter:

…science-fantasy, eldritch, gonzo, post-apocalyptic campaign world focusing on The Great Pyramid megadungeon.

If that doesn’t get the blood pumping, I don’t know what will! I adore adventures that throw in all kinds of unique and strange elements into the dungeon and Venger does that quite well.

He even has a free sneak preview here. It’s a free mini-dungeon and, as always, contains some strange ideas, including a cat-snake. Yes. A cat-snake.

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We might need some more catnip to deal with this…

As you can see, the great art & maps that Venger’s products typically have is on full display in the free min-dungeon. He does not skimp on quality!

Now, to those who have never seen one of Venger’s products before, I want to give a little warning. He typically has a little more sexual stuff in his adventures than you might be used to. However, I am a bit of a prude, so a normal person might take this little warning with a grain of salt.

The second is Ruined City of Cyfandir by Simon Forster with Alexander Macris.

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Truth in cover advertising. There is a ruined city and there is a dragon!

ACKS version here

5E version here

The softcover book is on its way, but I have looked through the pdf of the ACKS version. Unlike normal dungeons, this a ruined city. So instead of going through a dank, musty underground tunnel, the party will be going through ruined buildings and streets with more potholes than New Hampshire in early spring*!

Due to the fact that this is a city, you are free to go anywhere in the city you want at any time. You aren’t as constrained as you are in a dungeon. It is dungeon-crawl sandbox, if that makes sense. There is even a d100 table to roll on when the party decides to a loot a random building!  Furthermore, many of the random encounters are not simply “monster x attacks”, but many are engaged in their own activities that are unrelated to the party’s actions. This makes the adventure feel more real, rather than a shooting gallery.

For those of you who are interested in the Borderlands region of the Auran Empire setting, there are several hooks to draw your players elsewhere when the adventure is completed. Even in your own setting, it would take minimal effort to rework those hooks into your own campaign world.

This is the kind of adventure that reminds you why the reaction roll (and being willing to talk) is so important. There are multiple groups with their own agendas. A quick-talking party can turn a potential fight into an ally, but a belligerent party could turn a potential ally into a fight!

Why is it so important to talk? Let’s not mince words. There is a dragon on the cover of the book. A DRAGON. You will want meatshields valuable allies to assist in taking down the dragon. Because who can say no to a dragon’s hoard?

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The pdf of Ruined City of Cyfandir, as well as the free adventure mentioned above, include numbered maps for GMs and an unnumbered map for use with online gaming, such as Roll20! Honestly, this should be standard for all modern pdf adventures and I am glad to see it in these two!

There are no affiliate links in this post and I do not financially benefit in any way from the purchase of these products. I have backed the Kickstarter for Cha’alt and bought the Ruined City of Cyfandir with my own money. Just wanted to fully disclose that.


* In my university days, I spent a semester up in New Hampshire. Due to all the snow and plowing, the roads were torn up by the time spring came around. I would hit a smaller pothole while avoiding a larger one! That’s how bad it was.