Category: pen and paper

Stars Without Number – the Characters

I’m playing a pen and paper rpg again!

The game is Stars Without Number, an Old School style science fiction rpg with a cool setting, written by Kevin Crawford and available via rpgnow, etc. The other night we sat down to build our characters and even got a little bit of gaming in, and it felt good. Too early to really declare an informed opinion (we were only half-using the rules, since we didn’t arrive planning to play and hadn’t prepared), but we had a lot of fun. We’ve got 5 of us playing, with CP running the game, and in classic scifi style, we opened with a jailbreak. Our players?

P – Ashok, a weak but pretty confident wanderer that seems to have both a knack for getting into trouble and a talent for talking himself back out of it.

MM – XLT to be Decommissioned (Decom for short), a medical robot that was manufactured with an assassin’s body by mistake. He seems unsure about where his destiny lies.

MR – Weesah, a victim of a misogynist tech-based caste system that was drafted into a revolution and trained in explosives and terror tactics

CD – Asdon, an illegal salvager that’s apparently got some aggression issues and a *very* lax moral compass.

Me – Jaeger, a pilot from a dysfunctional and once-powerful family heavily involved in technology R&D, especially where space travel is concerned. Recent events have left me alone and broke, supporting myself via contract work.

After a contract gone wrong, we all found ourselves locked up in a Star Command prison cell. A riot broke out elsewhere in the prison and we were able to get free of our cell. Weesah hacked some systems, Ashok distracted and misdirected some guards, and Jaeger retrieved or belongings from some lockers before piloting our impounded disaster of a ship out of the prison and to safety.

Decom ran interference and provided support, and Asdon shot a couple guards in the back so he could take their Star Command shuttle. After arriving at a nearby moon known as Luke’s, Jaeger stripped a few useful upgrades out of the shuttle and then Asdon sold it for parts.

We’re a strange crew; it’ll be interesting to see how these characters develop…

Level 9/10 seems to be where things get real.

Pathfinder Saturday night. We started out in a temple that we were exploring last time, where we used a found scroll of stone shape to clear a passage into a moldy old library. The library was occupied by three giant worm monsters. Each had two tails, a sword held in one and a wand in the other. No idea what the monsters were, but they just about killed Jarek with a crazy fear illusion.
I spotted a hatch in the ceiling, so we made our way up to the surface, and fought our way across the Storval plateau. Living gargoyles and a crazy six-eyed demon ape, among other things (plus we’re pretty sure we saw two bulettes fighting for dominance, but something even bigger rose out of the desert to kill the winner of that fight before we had to deal with it). Had a chat with a man we met along the way and eventually found our way to the outlaw town of Kaer Maga. Our first town since the golem incident in Janderoff!
After finding our way in we got our fortunes read by a troll auger who ‘read’ her insides and then discovered the man we’re seeking is her brother (who has of course been missing for days). We sold some of the weapons and treasure we’ve amassed over the last while and then left off for the evening there. Lots happened, but all in all a pretty manageable session. Nobody died (Jarek’s near death of fright was the only really close call) and we’re finally back in civilization.

Although we can’t find anybody that wants to buy the crown we took off the king of the Storval giants when we killed him and his retinue. Which is probably smart on their part since they are no doubt many Storval giants left and they’re probably not happy with us.

I die.

Well, it was bound to happen eventually; Rock was killed in battle, as he approached level 10.

We left the plateau and continued up the stairs, until we approached another plateau, and were attacked by three boulder throwing hill giants. I rushed in, and put one in a hold, immediately after which a sorceress and a heavily armoured super giant came up behind us. Black tentacles were summoned from beneath our party by the sorceress, and I was suddenly the only one not trapped. I proceeded to pin and kill the giant I’d rushed, then leapt down to attempt to deal with the new giant with the impressive stone crown.

Turns out he got a +28 bonus to hit on his first of 3 attacks each turn, so I was hit 3 times for a total of 74 damage the very first turn I was in melee. my temporary AC of 29 just wasn’t cutting it, apparently. The sorceress demanded our runeshards, but i refused, threatening to destroy them before I’d give them up! Our cleric gave me a slight healing boost while I burned some ki and made use of our cleric’s fervour spell to get my AC up to 35 by the next turn (I didn’t know about the +28 at this point), hoping that would be enough to keep me safe for another turn or two. As I’m sure you can guess, it wasn’t. I was hit once for 46 and that was all she wrote. Rock was demolished by the Storval King’s mighty warhammer.

We were seriously expecting a total party kill, but the fight continued. Eventually everybody managed to break free of the tentacles, reclaim my handy haversack, and then destroy them both, discovering on one of the bodies a scroll of resurrection! While I wasn’t the first to have died, I was the most recent, and my party decided to bring me back almost immediately. We then explored a massive temple, found a couple more shards, some sort of teleportation chamber, and a dead chamber full of skeletons and magic sustenance. Pretty sweet.

Today’s lesson? I’d probably better start working on a secondary character. Or better yet, start focusing on secondary threats. I’m just not powerful enough to exceed at melee with most of our foes these days (in the last three sessions, we’ve fought a tyrannosaur (monstrous!), several hill giants (quantity!), a flock (?) of harpies (flying!) and now a super doom giant (can’t miss, huge damage, ungrappleable!) backed by a sorceress (magics!), and I have no ranged ability whatsoever. The stuff I can hold my own against I tend to be able to dominate, but the rest is just overwhelming. We’ll see.

Today’s Pathfinder Session is brought to you by the Letter H.

H is for Hill giants, Harpies, and Harrowing escapes. And we certainly had plenty of each.

You may recall that our last adventure ended with us considering a trek back to what may or may not have turned out to be janderoff, the city of our current ‘sponsor’, if you will. When we started this session we first decided to rest for a couple of days in a nearby forest. By the time we were done resting, the trail was starting to look harder to follow, and we had grown less confident in our plans. This resulted in a decision to abandon the trail for a while in favour of our immediate surroundings. You see, I’m not sure whether I mentioned it or not, but we fought our last session’s hill giants at the base of a gigantic stairway cut into a 400 metre cliff face. A stairway that may or may not be the stairway mentioned in a note we found among the second lab of Egarthis. A note that mentioned possibly meeting somebody to attain a Shard, the likes of which we already carry two (out of an apparent seven). Long story short, we decided to climb the stairs.

We got about a quarter of the way up when we reached a smallish plateau with two tremendous structures on it. One was more or less empty, with only a few small windows in the roof and high in a couple of walls. The other turned out to contain three hill giants cooking some sort of vile stew and a bound man about to be strapped to a spit. We actually made pretty quick work of the hill giants (coup de grace to the head!), but we then attacked by several harpies. the bound man was able to loose himself and join us, but our new party was/is not exactly tricked out for flyers. The good news is that the bound man was a cleric (named Jarek, which we all had a good laugh over; even more so when it dawned on Former Avro that he had given himself a rhyming name), which we haven’t had, and boy did it ever help. Azazel was almost killed by the harpies, but not quite. Our gunslinger took a couple down, and I dragged a few down with a bear trap on a chain (remember that bear we freed a few sessions back? I kept that trap…), The cleric was entranced by their siren song, unfortunately, and ran into the other building where he was sealed in, but not before healing us enough that we were able to survive the remaining battle and come to his aid. Turns out Jarek’s not much of a fighter, but he can heal himself like nobody’s business, and that’s mostly what he did until we were able to defeat our own harpies, scale the building he was trapped in and drop through the ‘skylights’. I made sure to drop onto the harpy that was attempting to eviscerate our cleric, and the battle ended shortly thereafter (turns out harpies are a lot easier to kill once you pin them to the ground).

So we took out the trash, made a new friend, and are ready to continue up the mountainside, with our new healer on board… approaching level 10 with two of our original party remaining. Go, go, Rock and Azazel!!!

On Mortality.

Anybody that follows my pathfinder posts will be aware that we very frequently almost die. My monk Rock has been brought to negative hit points and ‘dying’ on multiple occasions, and on two occasions has been so far gone that he’s required stabilising from other party members (unable to save himself because he’s so close to fully dead). But until our most recent session, we’ve always pulled through…
When last we adventured, we were hauled who knows where by a teleportation spell. We woke up in a room with a huge metal orchid in it, and several hallways. We traveled those halls one at a time. First we retrieved a garnet from the ceiling of a room covered in cryptic runes. Next an aquamarine gemstone from a mysterious puzzle statue in a very suspicious looking pool of water. Third was a chasm containing wooden pillars that had to be jumped across. Fortunately we thought to tie a rope around our wizard before he tried to cross magically, as his magic was dispelled about halfway across; Rock ended up leaping across and making a bunch of reflex saves to retrieve a diamond from the other side. The fourth room was earthen, full of roots, and resulted in a battle against some very angry earth elementals. Also, in retrieving an opal.
Time to rest, we thought, so we’re ready for whatever is next. Azazel didn’t want to sleep in the main room, and so demanded the ‘safe’ room with the cryptic runes. Where we had apparently simply not hit the trigger our first time around…
We were immediately engulfed in a pillar of fire for 48 damage each. I made a monk’s reflex save and was fine. Everybody else failed brutally. Fortunately we all have some magic scales of armour from an earlier adventure that allow re-rolls, but that still left Azazel and Avro dying and needing me to stabilise them, and our wizard Mordus burned to a crisp. Even half damage was too much for him.
We bundled up his corpse, opened the orchid with the gems, and followed a flight of stairs down into the secondary lab of Egarthis, who had apparently teleported into the orchid and been torn to shreds on arrival.
Found some clues and a gunslinger (Mordus’ player was fully prepared to die, it would appear), and we left via gaseous form potions and a ventilation shaft, completely forgetting the gemstones. In my defense, I was being berated by Azazel for taking Mordus’ cloak at the time (in his defense, he was a bit of a basket case after his rooming demands got Mordus killed).
We set out, began traveling north, and wandered into a tyranosaur. I came out of that one with 2hp, and Avro – our fighter – was torn in half.
So we bagged him, too.
Two hill giants later, we’re on the road again. We think we’ve deducted which way will get us back to our benefactor Heidmarch, where we’re hoping she can help us swing a raise dead or two. Hopefully we can get there in time, as I don’t think we can afford a resurrection, and certainly not two of them (although Mordus may decide not to come back).
Really kicking ourselves over leaving those gemstones.
And over not realising that there’d be a fire trap in that room; I didn’t piece together the elemental nature of the rooms until afterwards.

if it weren’t for that archon and those pesky kids!

and pathfinder is back! After a very lengthy hiatus, we were finally all available at the same time and managed to have an adventure! It took us a little while to get into the swing of things, and we had to look up some stuff as we played that we’d normally know (I am a *very* grapply monk, yet I totally had to look up grappling and combat maneuvers in order to make sure I was doing it right), but within about an hour or so things started to pick up. When last we played (April?), we had rescued a damsel/contact from a family of vicious ogres, and had gone on to the town in which she lives, in search of a shop where we could finally get our hands on some super cool magic stuff. Grin.
The first hour or so of playtime was mostly us looking up equipment (many jokes were made at our DMs expense regarding our inevitable need for anti-golem gear, since everything we fight seems to be a construct and immune to criticals…); we’d all done this over two months ago, but we’d also all managed to forget our research at this point. Upon returning to the home of our hostess, we were put in charge of setting up her new security system. which was, of course, golems. They of course attempted to kill us, but we actually made pretty short work of them. They used most of their flaming death attacks on me, since I was holding the magical control unit (assassination plot, anybody?); I handily avoided those with my sweet monk reflex saves. Searching the golems, we found that they were missing the maker’s mark that usually showed who’d created them, and it didn’t take long for us to realise somebody had made an attempt on the life of our hostess, Ms. Hydemark. That’s right, it was mystery solving time!!!
We gathered the gang together, grabbed our baby blue kerchiefs, and set out to paint the town red. Well, at least the city’s finest golemworks. The foreman there directed us to the office of one of their most distinguished and recognisable makers, who took his sweet time getting to his office. More than enough time for us to search the place, and for Azazel to spend an extended period of time questioning and threatening an ornamental statue (it’s clear at this stage in the game that we’re perpetually attacked by golems, right?)
When he did finally show up, Mordus sensed an illusion in effect and we found ourselves locked in combat. It was going pretty well until he used his final conscious breath to summon a massive earth golem to smash me to a pulp; having just finished tying up our suspect, I was closest and probably viewed as a fair threat. Plus the rest of the group was tied up dealing with a variety of animated furniture and a certain fancy wooden statue that did indeed golemify and attempt to kill us all.
I ended up unconscious and dying (ah, the life of a pathfinder monk) but not before doling out a sizable whack of damage. We won the day, discovered a trap door under a carpet, and then rested. Yes, I just said that… rested.
I feel like this is getting way to comprehensive, so I’ll be speeding this up. The next day we traveled through the tunnel and found ourselves in a garden behind a nearby fancy doll shop, which we of course entered immediately, meeting an old lady that we eventually discovered was a young witch in disguise. We killed her and her ninja looking compatriots, searched the place, finding another trap door, and also the disassembled corpse of my mentor, preserved in a hole in the floor! I didn’t take it well.
I leaped down into the trap door without taking time to heal at all (classic pathfinder!) And that’s when it DM went to get this:
So cool! A magical clone lab complete with mad scientist! Agarthis, one of the heralds we let live during our cult infiltration escapades, was down here trying to clone Mordus’ dead mom to be his companion. Eww. He threw some tentacles at us, but they couldn’t grab me, so I ran/vaulted across the room to attack Agarthis. Fear acid was launched at us, the whole machine started to fall apart, and then after a lengthy battle (due in no small part to his mirror image effect) he wanted us away in some sort of crazy portal. Can’t wait until next time. Especially since we haven’t finished solving our original case yet.

Azazel learns a valuable lesson…

…in not blurting out ‘hilarious’ courses of action too often.

Deciding against settling down in Kasen and opening up cap’n walgreen’s lobstah shack, we met with our mentors (well, some of us did; my mentor was apparently on a very extended walkabout) and learned a little bit about the seven pointed stars we had to burn into our flesh when we teleported into the local cellar. Something to do with runelords and some ancient pacts and such.
I’m sure we’ll discover more later, for now we were mostly filled with visions of dollar signs and anxious to find somewhere that we could buy and sell gear. So we took a quick day trip to lay the corpse of Mordus’ evil cult high priestess mom to rest, and returned the amulets to their original and very dead owners. No guarantee that *that* isn’t going to bite us in the ass later. Hopefully we’ll be too busy and too far away to deal with any razmiran cult fallout.
For now, we set out in the direction of a dwarven trading village, while keeping a keen eye or two out for a missing friend of our magic users’ mentor. After a solid chunk of time on the road, we came across a bear stuck in a trap, and our fighter just couldn’t stand to see it like that. I suggested we could kill it (a mercy thing?) but Avro insisted on running in and attempting to pull the trap’s chain out of a nearby tree. So he started getting swiped by the bear at about the same time as we heard dogs baying nearby. Azazel jumped in and also started to get mauled while failing to free the bear. Eventually I (Rock, resident monk and combat maneuver expert) grappled the bear. Just in time for the party to get attacked by a one-fingered ogre and a pack of five hunting dogs.
Mordus dropped the ogre into a pit of acid, Azazel and Avro helped him out with the dogs, and I grappled, pinned, and tied the bear before disabling the trap and freeing it. In happy news l, we managed to spot a sweet belt on the ogre before it was destroyed in the acid bath, and Mordus levitated it out of the soup. +2 belt of giant strength for the monk!
We tracked the ogre to a very disturbing farm, and this is where Azazel started to get into trouble. In the barn he investigated a still, which drew the attentions of some three ogres. We then found a deep dark hole covered in thick webs, and he leapt straight in. He managed to land on his feet, but not to avoid getting bitten by an enormous spider and poisoned (strength down!). We defeated the spider and moved on to the farmhouse, where we got a saw blade in the foot, then jumped onto a super creepy flesh couch and fell through onto some bone spikes. Poisoned, of course, with more strength-depleting poison. Azazel at this point got a little more careful about announcng ridiculous actions, though he still spent the rest of the encounter with a strength of 3.
All in all, I did pretty well. 8th level was pretty big for me, and that belt helped boost my attack enough that I can go back to uaing power attack on occasion. Getting a little frustrated with my stunning fist though; I swear everything we fight has a fortitude save of +8 to +14… Anyway. We killed a horrifying ogre mom, rescued the damsel, and even came away with a bit of treasure. Next time we do some shopping. I’m hoping I can track down some boots of speed (although I’ve already got some backup choices figured out).

“We’re adventuring with Norman Bates!”

…cried Azazel, on being reminded that Mordus is hauling his dead mom around in his bag of holding.
More pathfinder last night. Got back to the barge we hired to take us to the Isle of Terror, only to discover it had been ransacked and our dear captain Waldren – one-eyed dwarf sailor and all around chatty guy (our nearest and dearest npc, really) – was missing from his boat. We were attacked by some sort of squid/kraken, and our boat sank as a result of the battle. We gathered some supplies and headed ashore. After some walking, we spied a lobstermonster of some sort dragging a dwarf down the beach. Captain Waldren! Taker of great risks on our behalf! To arms!
The lobstermonster, spotting our approach, crushed Waldren’s head. Jerk. We had our vengeance. Spent much of our remaining time trapped on the island talking about opening up a lobster shack. And we were indeed trapped. Met a drunken tree (it fell on Mordus), found an ancient temple, bluffed an angel-looking extraplanar being, and fought our way through a strength-sapping shadow creature, an ageless evil knight, and some other fun stuff before we managed to brand ourselves in the ancient temple and get teleported back to our hometown.
We almost died some more (at one point only Mordus and his summoned Archon were still standing), but that’s at least partly on us; we never feel very safe so we tend to push on well past the point where we should be taking a rest. We need to stop doing that, especially since almost everything has the potential to do heavy damage to us at this point.
A fun night, and we’re finally home (with some huge bags of money i found in the temple), so I think we’re gonna open up a terrorlobster shack on the edge of town while we rest up and buy some gear (it’s been several levwls since that was an option).

Golems and Dragons and Wolves, Oh My!

Also an elemental. Cause why not? Turns out the city of gold and death is actually the city of golden death. Which struck me as significantly more ominous. Took a few days to get into the isle of terror’s interior, and we were attacked a lot along the way. The acolyte we spared turned out to be a fellow recruit from our halcyon days of cult infiltration, so we decided to bring him along. Kept him alive through an attack of mutated wolves only to have him take off when we were ambushed by humanoid lizards. With all the wolves and lizardmen and quicksand and what have you, I don’t know that we’ll see him again. We survived the lizards, and some dark monsters that exploded when they died, and eventually found the city we were shooting for. And it looks like the entire thing is coated in gold. Some sort of molten gold flood is gonna drown us all unless we can catch up to the cult’s high priestess and retrieve our village heirlooms in 62 hours. All told, we’ve been in the city for 3 hoursish and have already unleashed a molten golem and a fire elemental on ourselves. I suspect this city could very well be the end of us.

Oh right; there was a dragon. That actually went pretty smoothly…

Mmm… bear pepperettes…

Did I mention that I’m from northern ontario? Lived here most of my life and yet bear pepperettes never occurred to me. Pretty delicious, but what else would you expect? I mean, they’re pepperettes.  They taste like pepperettes.
Last night was pathfinder. Made our way to the ‘isle of terror’ in search of a ‘city of death’. Not entirely sure that we might not be just a wee bit *too* ambitious. Several storms, a ghost, and what could fairly be described as a minor sea serpent attack later we arrived at the isle; shortly thereafter we’d stumbled upon several cultists. 4 acolytes were dispatched fairly quickly, and their leader was bound and eventually thrown into a campfire. The last acolyte fainted dead away, so I guess we’re gonna drag him along behind us. We’ll have to wait and see if he ends up being any use at all.
Looking forward to seeing what’s ahead for us. Although judging by what we’ve seen so far, it’ll probably be our very violent ends.