Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Zombie Nightmare Vs. Soultakers
* = This was the question of the weekend...
I’m not sure if I blogged about this a couple weeks ago, but if I didn’t here it is. We had our first Post-J.B. Marvel SAGA session a few weekends ago. It went surprisingly brilliantly. I had this sneaking fear that without Jon’s ability to keep a group moving forward with self-deprecating humor, his love of the Silver Age of Comics, and his amazing Role Playing skills that our group would fall in on itself like so many of my other groups have. I was wrong. We had Mike P. & Dark Dave battling a visiting Ultraman over a jettisoned Green Lantern Ring, & yes you read that right. I interjected Ultraman, Superman, and a Green Lantern Ring at the time of DC’s Final Crisis into my Marvel SAGA game for a session, and it went swimmingly. So Atomic Anvil, Mike P., and Haven, Dark Dave, teamed with Momentum to try and stop a raging Ultraman. Oh, who is Momentum you might ask? Well Momentum is the girlfriend of Jon’s old characters Calvin Hobbes, aka Momentum Man, she now has his powers and doesn’t remember that he ever exists even though Mighty Mike, Mike P., & Dave do. There was a breakout staged at the Deep Freeze prison facility by Doctor Hemorrhage, Agent Orange aka Mighty Mike’s main nemesis. At the same time Zarkko, The Tomorrow Man, let Agent Orange in on the fact that time is not what it seems, and he and his teammates only exist at the ‘Paradoxracy’s’ whim. Agent Orange escapes with his on again off again girlfriend Miss Saigon who had been falsely imprisoned as an ‘Urban Terrorist’. In the process MANY a Sentinel Mark 3 was destroyed. We welcomed Woody back to the fold, as his character Detritus was co-opted by S.H.I.E.L.D. to work on Spin-Tech. Upon Captain America’s fleeing the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, circa Civil War issue #1 I think, Woody decided to get the heck outta Dodge. Haven, Momentum, & Atomic Anvil managed to slow Ultraman long enough for Superman to Boom Tube in and clean up. In the process the Green Lantern Ring was cracked and dubbed useless, that was until the now de-powered Haven put it on. He's now wearing a weapon from another Multiverse that feeds on his inhibited powers as well as his will. All the heroes finally got back together in the Clock Tower to hear Tony Stark announce the Super Hero Registration Act being signed into law, officially kicking off Civil War.
I’m not sure when we’re going to try and play again, but things are just starting to percolate. We’ve got a team made up of Haven, Agent Orange, Atomic Anvil, Detritus, Momentum, & The Shooter holed up in the Twin Cities. Haven, Agent Orange, & Atomic Anvil all remember Momentum Man, no one else does. Haven & Agent Orange know that somehow, someway they have been inserted into this time stream artificially. Doctor Hemorrhage has kidnapped two of Agent Orange’s closest friends and plans to “make them part of his ‘Family’” if Agent Orange doesn’t surrender himself. There is still the M.G.H. fiasco going on in the background, and Detritus still can’t find a job! WHEW, it’s a busy campaign, and I can only hope they are enjoying it as much as I am.
So now that that’s caught up, the Regular D&D Group met Sunday post Zombie Pub Crawl/Hangover. We had a new player trying it out, Gina, with her character the elf Boga. Let me first say, her name was actually Boga-something, but I kept BUTCHERING it so bad that I just went with Boga. Yes, I am an idiot. The group had been left to clear out the Zombie infested tunnels beneath the Old Haige’s Borni tribe. This is where he stored his ‘undesirables’, criminals, dissidents, and prisoners. A few nights previous to the PC’s being brought into the camp ‘something’ tore through camp attacking his men. Everything it killed immediately raised as the walking dead. Through his ingenious tactics, and the bravery of his men they corralled the thing into the tunnels and resealed them. It’s been three days and below the village is a rotting abattoir of the living dead. He told the PC’s that if they want his help against the Horde crawling towards Brook’s Glenn they needed to prove themselves and clear out his tunnels. They were lowered down and immediately met by an Elf woman, in high-heeled boots, named Boga. She explained how she had come through the Black Woods to ‘make’ the Borni stop their raids and instead ended up a prisoner. She vowed to help the PC’s if they’d get her out. I have to admit it was interesting having another ‘Brand New To D&D’ person at the table. It’s challenging to try and sell the fun factor to the skeptical person without them looking at you and thinking that you are absolutely M-A-D-! All in all I thought Gina was a good player, seemed to have had some fun, and who knows she may come back and join the group again. Either way she’s always welcome at my table.
Anywho back to the good stuff, the PC’s made their way through the caves eventually running into three Zombies. I used the Dread Zombie template, but gave them low AC, moderate hit points (I think 20), & some high attack & damage numbers to make combat quicker. I had to do that considering they have the ‘Rise Again’ ability, where once they are ‘killed’, if it isn’t by Radiant or Fire damage, they keep getting up with 10 hit points. With their Cleric, Johann aka Anthony, a tad late the PC’s struggled a bit to finish off these shamblers in the tunnels due to corners, tight space, and having no Radiant damage producers. It offered, in my opinion, a nice sense of dread to the encounter, and little did I know it was a precursor of bad things to come. Eventually, Anthony made it to the game and the PC’s finished off their undead foes.
They moved deeper south into the cave complex coming upon a large cavern. In that cavern full of elevated ‘risers’ there was a lone human hollering for help. Once the group illuminated the room they realized it was full of zombies. Inexplicable the majority of the group rushed headlong into combat. I was using a few more Dread Zombies this encounter, but I had them teamed with what I deemed Spawn Zombies. These were built of the Moil Zombies in the old DDI Monster Builder. Again, they have low AC, 20 to 30 hit points, and move slowly. The big thing is they have a breath attack, Breath Of Orcus, which only does 5 points of damage, but it immobilizes. On top of that they do a LOT of damage with a Rotted Hand attack, probably a tad too much. To make things significantly worse for the PC’s I was ROLLING MY ASS OFF! It was a one-way bus to Crit Town! As those pesky PC’s suspected the Human on the riser was really a baddie. When he got down, apparently injured, Johann tried to heal him but instead did a massive amount of damage, but to do so was adjacent. The Ghoul then devastated him with a bite attack. See the thing is this was the BIG BAD of the cave complex, and they essentially found him in the first big encounter. No build up, no ‘power ups’, nothing but sheer T.P.K. potential now.
Anthony went down first from the Ghoul bite and claw. Gina went down next to the Spawn Zombie’s breath attack, and then Cassandra bit it from a claw I believe. Finally Zack (aka Kam) found himself also dead by the Ghoul’s claw. This left Heidi (aka Kit), her bear Cinco, and Bob (aka Bill) to try and finish off the Zombies and save their friends. Well eventually they offed the Zombies, but not without some consternation and a bit of a struggle. In the meantime Cassandra (aka Iris) and Gina (aka Boga) died. I mean really died, failed three death saving throws, do not pass go, DO NOT collect $200.00, dead, dead, deadskies, afterlife kids. Gina laughed and then went to go lay down in my front yard, go figure. Cassandra was a tad irritated because of the bad dice rolling on her part. It’s not fun to kill characters; I try to avoid doing it as best I can. It’s REALLY not fun to kill your wife’s character. Seriously.
Ant and Zack survived, barely. Zack ended up with a permanent limp, -2 to Speed, and Ant was now suffering from Munchausen Syndrome, meaning that he had a SUPER hypochondriac and was inventing things wrong with himself, to the point of wasting Healing effects on minor injury. This later was amended to Arachnaphobia for ease of play. Both need to be healed by a Cleric of at least five levels higher to remove these effects. They found a key in the remains of the Ghoul, and with some rest, inventive use of Tenser’s Floating Disc, and some stellar Perception checks found a secret door in the back of the cavern. They put their Dead mates on the riser, case Gentle Riposte preserving them for 150 days, and entered the secret cave.
In the meantime, Heidi and Gina had to head back to ‘Soup Town’. I really hope they both had a good time. I mean I know Heidi generally enjoys D&D, and seemed to like it better with some of the combat changes her & Bob made for her character, but being that it was a ‘Zombie Game’ I really hope she liked it. ‘Cause I know how she feels about Zombies. As for Gina, as I stated before I try to be a good ambassador to the game, so I hope she check this off her ‘Bucket List’ and maybe come back and join us in the Land Of Dungeons & Dragons for a visit.
All that having happened the rest of the intrepid group decided they MUST press on. So Heidi and her bear stayed with the bodies on the riser while the other living characters made their way into the hidden cavern. We really were lucky, and I count myself especially lucky, to have Zack in our group. He had made a slew of potential characters for Gina, and this made it easy for Cassandra to have a new character. She chose a Drow Thief. Holy crap did Zack optimize the HELL out of this character. First off it fits Cassandra a bit more to be more of a distance ranged attack, she is quiet possibly the most pragmatic person I know. So it takes some of the variables out and cuts down on her feeling everything must come down to a cost/reward analysis with combat. Instead she just fires at will and fades back into the darkness. Still I thought that the next handful of encounters would pose a problem for the group. I was proven wrong. Story wise we just determined she was a Drow Pathfinder, sort a fringe member of their society doing ‘runs’ through the ‘Shallows’ of the Underdark. In the process her last employer gave her some bad intel/map and she found herself traipsing through Zombie infested tunnels to what she thought was a safe area, but instead was to be the spot of her ironic demise.
The secret cavern was the dwelling place of Giant Spider and it’s brood who had accumulated a great number of ‘things’ in their time devouring both Borni prisoners, but also various Underdark folks. The PC’s wanted this ‘stuff’ and went on a bloody rampage to get it. The idea of the encounter was to have the hatchling spiders just sort of mill about in the background as the PC’s made their way further and further towards the giant chasm in the back of the room, THEN the Momma Spider would emerge and use the hatchlings as artillery while she bashed them first with Acid Spray and then with bites and sting attacks. Instead the now UTLRA wary PC’s slaughtered the tiny spiders the moment they saw them, easily butchering these annoying minions and leaving Momma to fight for herself. They then in turn annihilated my beautiful Giant Spider with relative ease. The PC’s made pals after they noted first how hard it was for the two Halfing brothers, Zack (aka Kit) & Bob (aka Bill), to even see her when she was standing next time them, and how well she killed things. However that did not prevent them from screwing both her and their long time ally Ant, aka Johann, from some of the loot. Tricksey Halflings.
The PC’s then moved on back through the tunnels in an effort to destroy all the other occupying zombies. They mainly figured since they’d already survived the ‘Big Bad’ and crushed a Giant Spider nothing left in the caverns would pose that large a threat to them. I have to admit they were sort of right. They found a room full of a quicksand like material, full of zombies below the surface, but also methane gas. So they blew it up. This caused a cave-in, made a lot of noise, and brought more zombies upon them. They barreled through that tunnel encounter, which led them to another larger room where two Zombie Hulks were feeding. I thought with the damage potential these two large beasts had that this fight had all the makings of a 'slobber knocker'. Again I was sadly mistaken. Zack, Bob, & Ant brazenly marched right up and pummeled my Zombies while Cassandra ‘plinked’ away from across the room. In five quick rounds the fight was done, even with both Hulks having a variation on the Rise Again ability.
At this point everyone was sort of hitting the wall and there were only a series of small encounters left, so I asked them if they wanted the long version of the rest of the short version. They decided on the short. So I took my remaining encounters and meshed them into one ‘Mega’ encounter. They came into a cavern rife with risers, a natural bridge, giant crystals, and a choke point. It was also ripe with Zombies; Rotwing Zombies, Corruption Corpse, Chillborn Zombies, Putrescent Zombies, and a Zombie Cyclops. The Rotwings were up high on the risers to utilize their awkward Charge attack that does a TON of damage if it hits. The Corruption Corpse was slightly hidden to act as artillery. The Chillborn were my frontline shock troops, especially with their Aura effect. The Putrescent Zombies were minions who exploded with Necrotic Filth damage upon being dispatched so they were my minor surprise. Last but not least was my major surprise, the Zombie Cyclops who was built especially for stopping the group’s mad monk, Zack aka Kit. See I’d given the Undead Eye ability which when it’s focused on one character turns all it’s damage output BACK on that character, which worked perfectly since Zack, true to his character, rushed right in and smacked me. Oh and did I mention it was a Crit? It was. I was gleeful. He was shocked. The group was leery, and become down right desperate once they splatted a Putrescent Zombie and were in turn damaged in the aftermath. That desperation only escalated when the Corruption Corpse started bombing them with Necrotic Filth, and the Chillborns moved up and hit them with that Aura Attack. I had them right where I wanted them.
That was until Zack pulled an insane combination, utilizing a Fortune Card, out of his ass. Cassandra then Critted. Bob then Critted. Ant then hit a MASSIVE Turn Undead, and BOOM! The encounter was over. You see I had them, HAD THEM, in a tough, desperate, and quiet fun pickle of an Encounter and that quickly they pulled it together, tactically came up with a very sound plan, individually shined with rolls, powers, and team work. I was ecstatic. I mean c’mon, NO one wins at D&D when someone ‘Wins At D&D’. However EVERYONE wins at D&D when everyone has fun. I had a blast. They leveled and we called it a night. On one last side note I have to say thanks first to World Works Games for coming out with Cave Works. It's versatle, easy on the eyes, and not to difficult to put together. It's a must have for D.I.Y. Dungeon Masters. Secondly, I have to also say thanks to Cassandra for being a trooper both in gluing together all the stuff I cut out before the game, and secondly for not only getting through your first character death, but also for jumping back in with both feet with your new character.
- Oh there’s the this little movie coming out early next year, maybe you’ve heard of it? The Avengers!
I’d love to give you the embedded video but I can’t find one.
- Friday & Saturday we were in ‘The Cloud’ for some Halloween Costume prep and Seany Bear’s birthday. In the in-between I hung out with my Brolo El Cunado, Ant. We hit up the Uncanny Asian House in Sauk Rapids and gorged ourselves on what is, in my humble opinion, the BEST damn Thai food on the face of Gawd’s green Earth. I mean seriously it is divine. Then we headed back to the new pad. There he indoctrinated me into the world of X-Box 360 Halo. Normally Anthony “HAHAHAHA, I shot your face off!” J. takes much joy from humiliating people in these first person shooters. Instead he took a much more humane approach and we teamed up to kill the crap out of some Covenant scum. It really was a great time.
- In addition I get to spend some time while in the new pad with Ant’s brother Pat. I’ve been around Pat before; he’s a cool guy. I’ve seen Pat’s art before its damn good. All that being said to be in the workspace of an artist is something else. It was incredible. Just fantastic pieces of different art in various stages of completion. In addition there was some talk of collaborating on some comics. I was at first more than a bit apprehensive. Let’s be honest I gush over my artist friends. I have NO artistic talent. I can’t draw, can’t sing, can’t play an instrument, can’t paint, can’t write poetry, etc. I just have nothing on par with those folks who ‘Create’. So I’m awestruck by them, and incredibly lucky to have surrounded myself with so many of them. So to have someone interested in working on something together is intimidating. I stammered through a ‘maybe’. Today I e-mailed him some ‘pitches’. Who knows maybe we’ll churn something out? Either way it was just really cool to see another fantastic artists workspace.
- Pizza Ranch Rules YOU!
- D&D Old School Group is this Saturday. I’ve sent out three potential ‘missions' for the group;
o Warriors Come Out & PLAY! - ‘Handsome’ Harley Keys and his cohorts, ‘The Black Keys’, have rolled back into Fallenspire. Problem is according to you’re intel ‘Handsome’ Harley is dead, and has been dead for over ten years. You’re ‘handler’ wants you to find out just what is going on. At last report ‘The Black Keys’ were seen in the vast mansion of Madame Ruby in a rough part of the city. What are they doing, what do they want, and if it is ‘Handsome’ Harley where is the Book Of Black Flame?
o The Friend Of My Enemy… - The Tiefling Duke Kole De Souzza is in town to meet with a group of shadowy monks out of the Toland Swamp, rumor has it they are ‘Chosen’ warriors. It’s not a secret that De Souzza desperately wants to unseat his sister from her role as a Regent Ascendant in the Northern Kingdoms. Fratricide is not beneath him in the least bit, the problem is the Duchess Katrina De Souzza is a frequent client. Find the meeting, get the information, and make sure if a deal goes down that the ‘Good’ Duke’s ‘allies’ never make it back to Toland’s Swamp.
o Do Not Suffer The Fey To Live. – Geraestus is the seneschal of the Hobbled King of the Fey Dark. He’s also broken his agreement with ‘The Guild’. He flaunts his power in Fallenspire, spitting in the face of ‘The Guild’, spitting in YOUR face. Rumor has it Geraestus is attempting to have his ‘people’ acquire a map of gates in the Undercity of Fallenspire to make a connection to the kingdom of his master in the Fey Dark. He must not be allowed to do so. The map in Tenser’s Library must not be allowed to fall into his hands.
What do you think? Which one would you choose? If it’s me I’m going either one or three.
- The e-Reader is charging at home, soon I’ll be joining the 21st Century.
- Dark Dave has begun his Helium Francis Soundtracks for movies that don't exist. I had LOW expectations when he told me ‘Write me a movie, fifteen to thirty scenes so I can write a John Carpenter type soundtrack’. SUPER skeptical is how I'd describe whether or nor I felt that he could pull something brilliant off with just a keyboard, an outline of a flick, and his sheer musical genius. I was and am wrong. GLEEFULLY wrong. He’s given me the first part of the opening of the film and it’s everything a Lovecraftian film concerning lost recordings, cabins in the woods, and strange visitors should be. I went with a Carpenter-esque, modern take on Whisperer In Darkness, since I just finished re-reading it. He has the sounds, that creepy chittering drone of the Mi-Go down. The music itself is empty like the void of space, yet haunting and literally pregnant with dread. I am blown away and can’t wait to see what he does with the rest of it. It’s just amazing what a man, a plan, and musical ability beyond peer can accomplish in a basement.
- This blog is MUCH longer than I intended.
- Last night we raked and realized that our yard waste bin is inadequate. So I’m putting the call out to Ant &/or Dave; oh you masters of the hand held leaf blower/mulcher, can we borrow said device to clean yon yard? I have to admit it was sort of fun to get some yard work done in the cool light sprinkle with my wife.
- I spent like three hours last night watching the latest Acquisitions Incorporated D&D game from PAX, go here to see it;
It was really funny in opinion, and I learned a lot as a player and a DM just from the way the game is played and run by these talented and entertaining folks.
- Saturday I crushed my elbow on a door carrying my niece. My entire right arm from elbow to neck is on fire. However I can’t take Ibuprofen right now because I’m also sloggin’ down cough medicine because I’ve gotten a sore throat. I can’t win for losing.
- I’d drown a bag of kitties for a bowl of Chili right now.
- Hockey Night In The Basement starts tonight at 7:30pm!
- More new Pathfinder Minis, this time some Orcs and a Lizardfolk works in progress;
They also released on their blog just what the common minis would be. It's a nice selection.
And with that I think you and I have had enough today…
“When you were a little girl you were stung by a wasp
And the skin on your arm puffed up and went red
Yet you so loved that wasp and all of his brothers that you
Brought the whole damn angry hive into your
Right into your bed
As a child you were riddled with ringworm
So your father cut them out of your skin
Then you felt so alone and remorseful
You tracked each little worm down and put them back in
Have you ever tried to neck with an earwig
Oh, your body is a home to your friends
You've a tick for each nipple and a leech for each finger
And a parasitic love that never ends
Do you have any love left for me
I'm small, but that's a start
Eat me up with your love
Burrow your way to my heart
Do you have any love left for me
I'm small, that's a start
Eat me up with your love, please
Burrow your way to my heart“
* = Schrute Truth.