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Hack For More

WEEK 26: 09/30/04

by Edward McEneely
Oct 12,2004

 

Hack For More

WEEK 26: 09/30/04

We met at the usual time for the my first "new" Hackmaster session. I'd learned a few lessons by now, though, and I planned out nearly all the aspects of my dungeon, even the areas that I didn't think the players would likely reach in the first two sessions.

The dungeon itself was a smallish keep on the Fangariean-Orc League border, built origanlly by humans many years ago but taken by the Orcs during the last war. I mapped it out as three levels: a top floor, a ground floor, and a basement; none of the levels were particularly large, but they were reasonably full-up with monsters, so I figured there should be enough of a challenge in the slaughter department.

The players arrived via the good old-fashioned Gnomish railroad, no choice, no exits until the last and final stop, and no deviations on the way. I find that it's for the best, and makes for a nice retro experience. I know this is in general a pretty bad GMing tactic, but considering what happened next, and considering the style of play that HackMaster encourages, I don't really care. It's not like being a GM is a paying position. (Though, to be fair, I think Erich's spent way more in soft drinks for everyone than I ever will on gaming products.)

Standing outside the battered-looking keep, the players stared at the dead orcs outside, who appeared to have been fleeing from the building. Being fearless adventurers, they immediately sat down and had a serious think about whether or not they'd actually want to go into such a dreadful place. Only dire threats from The Voice Of God, in the person of myself, finally sufficed to motivate them into entering the dungeon.

They slowly advanced, following the old adventurer's saw (which I suspect Erich made up, solely to irritate me) that you only make left turns in a dungeon. By pure coincidence, Erich was mapping.

The players soon found a locked door with water seeping out from under it, so they smashed it down. Cunning, eh? An aquatic ogre (kept as a pet by the prior inhabitants of the keep) broke free of his restraining chain and lunged at the PCs, only to be handily smashed to gory bits by them before doing very much. His treasure yielded a +1 shield, a Wand of Magic Detection, and the ever-popular Philtre of Lust. (I rolled for this, I swear.) Erich nabbed the shield, Laura swiped the wand, and Seth got the philtre. Lucky dog.

Moving on, the players discovered a well surrounded by Orcish corpses. One of the Orcs clutched a large stoppered vial full of a red liquid close to his body in a death grip. Seth almost drank it, but then figured out it might in fact kill him incredibly quickly, which was quite correct.

As the PCs considered the implications of this, they were attacked by a roving patrol of Lizardmen, who're surprisingly decent monsters even without a 20-HP kicker. The ten Lizardmen actually put up a decent fight, battering Erich and Seth both into the realm of Not Very Many Hitpoints Left. Laura hung off in the back and unerringly struck her targets for a whopping 1d4+1 per Magic Missile and generally covered for the boys, who couldn't seem to hit for the first few rounds. (Erich's voice hits this strange fluttering falsetto when he says "crap" in desperation. It's a joy to hear.) Eventually, the players killed the squad leader and forced a morale check, causing the Lizardmen to flee, whereupon Erich toasted them with his Wand of Fire set to "Fireball". That was a bit unexpected for me (I'd forgotten that I was dumb enough to give him that, instead of, say, a Wand of Magic Missiles, or a Wand of No Charges Left), but I was okay with it, and threw ten more Lizardmen, alerted by the hubbub, at him. Erich promptly nuked them again. This was actually great by me. If he wanted to waste his (very few) remaining charges on 2-HD grunt monsters instead of the heavy hitters in the wings later on, that wasn't my problem.

The party was feeling pretty smug now that they had firepower equivalent to a Star Trek Away Team riding in Erich's hip pocket, so I threw ten more Lizardmen at them, who again vanished in a burst of flame as Erich was overcome with the thrill of wanton destruction. War may be a force that gives us meaning, as Chris Hedges reminds us, but fireballs are a force that give us EPs.

It was getting late by now, but everything had gone pretty well. I'd had fun, the players were happy, and the dungeon was actually working. God only knows what will go wrong next week.

If I die, I expect RPG.net to run a nice obituary, full of made-up accolades.

Hey Away Teams Totally Have Way More Firepower Than A Mage:

Seth: That's true. Good teeth do destroy street cred.

Ed: Lesser cable? Is that cable with only 4 hit die?

Ed: Man, pretty much anything with a groin, you can kick.

Laura: ...and then Marc Chagall climbed out of the sea and beat Kandinsky up, thereby saving Tokyo.

(Seth's character has mistaken the philtre of lust for healing potion and chugged it.) Ed: You're struck by Laura's exotic...poppin' fresh beauty.

SPECIAL BONUS QUOTES FROM LAST WEEK:

Ed: It's not bizarre, it's drywall.

Seth (worried): This cavern is retaining water.

Laura: You sucked all the air out of the cleric?

Ed: It's just like a huge microbe...I guess it's technically a macrobe.

Ed (on Seth's druid magic): He's like a freakin' fax machine: 'We got your magic, but it'll take a while to print'.

Ed: Thor would let me scry with pee. Omnes: Your patron is Zeus. Ed: Oh, he would too.

Seth: Oh, I'm going to miss that head.

Ed (outraged): TRANSPARENT EARS! LISTEN TO YOURSELVES!

Seth (watching a teleport trap break and go into reverse): It's like the Windows ME of dungeon defence.

Ed (takes a critical hit to the foot): Whoa! Hit the, uh, ankoral artery!

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What do you think?

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