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Hack For More

WEEK 25: 09/21/04

by Edward McEneely
Oct 05,2004

 

Hack For More

WEEK 25: 09/21/04

Seth and I rejoined Erich to continue the mini-campaign, our ranks sort of bolstered by the additiion of Laura. Unfortunately, we didn't gain any actual numerical advantage in-game from this; Laura just took over Seth's spare halfling thief, as I was reluctant to part with The Chea---er, The Cleric.

By this point, I had gained the unofficial status of party leader, mainly by interrupting everybody, but also by having two votes to the other players' one each. Additionally, I had a chokehold on the Cure Light Wounds spells, so it was perilous to defy me.

We slogged further into the caverns, soon coming to a strange sort of steel airlock. It had one of those neat wagon-wheel style doors on it, so we sat around and dickered and checked for traps and stalled and meandered and then I made Brother Bung open it.

It led into a smallish metal room with an identical door on the other side. Again, the hapless Brother Bung was detailed to open it, and the whole party clamored to know how many turns it took to open the door.

In case, you know, it was a clue.

I'm pretty sure it wasn't. I've been a GM. I recognize that exasperated "GodDAMMIT" expression they get when somebody starts to focus on the pointless. Erich told us we couldn't tell, as Brother Bung had (a) only one arm and had to spin the wheel a little each time, and (b) his vast bulk blocked the way.

"Look, about how many degrees can he spin it in a turn?" Seth wasn't going to give up.

"Look, dammit, he's just spinning it, uh, about, uhhhh, ninety degrees a turn. Roll under you Int to figure it out."

I rarely if ever have a good idea as a PC. But I know a little something about circles.

"You fools! Just count the number of times he spins the wheel and divide by four!" (90 x 4 = 360)

Erich seemed a little annoyed that things had gone this far, but the issue was happily resolved and we pushed onwards.

The next room was a largish tomb-like area (well, without any actual tomb, mind you, but whatever), with an enormous carpet covering the floor, wall art depicting figures apparently sacrificing each other and then being resurrected as skeletons, and a supply closet. Oh, also a few doorways, but we weren't too interested in those.

The other players puzzled over the tapestries, but I had noticed a huge grille back in the "airlock", so I grabbed a bunch ofstuff from the supply closet and started chucking it down through the grates. Most of it vanished with a weird sort of zipping noise, but eventually I crammed enough stuff into it to cause it to make a weird blooping noise, and the place started to fill up with water. Fast.

I gave the other PCs a shouted heads-up and we beat a hasty retreat. Then, behind us, we heard someone say something about "lousy adventurers," and the waters receded.

We dashed back, but the source of the voice was gone. With nothing better to do, we headed into the crypt-like room and followed one of the passageways leading from it into a rather nice-looking room with a flight of stairs leading downwards. We started to go that wway when we ran into a bunch of fiendish humanimals guarding the way down. Thinking quickly, we lit a blanket on fire and rolled it down the staircase at them, then charged in to do battle.

There's a distinct advantage to knowing your hacklopedias. I'm glad I only let Erich borrow mine, or there could have been trouble.

The session ended with a large skeleton bursting out of a closet and lunging for us seconds after we had dispatched the humanimals.

On the drive home, Erich and I decided that (a) he was fed up with GMing, and (b) I was just about ready to give it another try.

I re-learned a couple of important lessons from Erich, but the most important was having pre-statted monsters written up in the margins of the dungeon, with all of the vital info prefigured. That really, really cut down on the time that we needed to spend waiting for Erich to thumb through things, and it spared him a lot of trouble.

Now I know that Walt's column already has the "good advice for GMing" angle pretty much sewn up, but I figure this one is so genre and system-specific that it doesn't hurt to mention it here. Taking the five or ten minutes to figure out a few "standard" monsters for your dungeon and statting them out can not only save you a ton of time in-session, it can obviate the need for a cumbersome random encounter table and makes your dungeons seem that much more "real".

Inasmuch as any place with a Subterranean War Moose seems real, of course.

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What do you think?

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