Saturday, December 15, 2012

I Failed

Well, this past Friday’s game was another GM-ing failure from my perspective.  I am really having difficulty getting the CSIO to come alive like it did about eight years ago when I ran it for another group.  Somehow, I’m just not able to get on my feet and get running with it. 

Here’s a quick write-up: the group started in Tonto’s (the thief) hovel.  Heading out first thing in the morning, the group is struck by how quiet it is in the street.  Looking around, the short street is deserted with only the body of a human about 2/3 of a block away lying in the street in a pool of blood.  The elven mage/fighter fires an arrow into the body to determine if he’s alive…while the rest of the group is moving up to check on the guy.  The Mycretian cleric immediately is checking for vital signs and trying to stop any bleeding, even the newer bleeding from elven arrows.  Tonto and the Altanian fighter begins rifling through the guys clothes, looking for identification and valuables.  He’s cleaned out.  And then arrows start to rain down upon the group.  On the rooftops are five guys in leather with short bows obviously aiming at the group.  A short fight ensues which includes the thief and the cleric running up the stairs of one of the tenement buildings in an attempt to get to the roof.  The ambushers are quickly reduced down to one, who then turns tail and runs…straight into the cleric and thief.  They subdue him and question him.   Now, this took almost 30 minutes because there was constant interruptions and lots of side punning, sexual innuendos, and rock song lyrics sung.  (Don’t ask.)

The group then takes the guy to meet his contact and (in an absolute failure of intelligence on my part) sit there while I talk to myself to present the argument between the contact and the ambusher.  In disgust at myself for what I have slipped to, I hand over two direct bits of information and hire the group to find a missing box (a third box because working things in three’s allows for interesting situations…usually).  From this, the group decides to set up the Valonian sorcerer and this wizard (the contact) to meet in such a way that things will reduce to chaos.  It does.  I then determine to have some of the magic items each wizard had on him to fail/interfere in such as to teleport the bystanders into the Plain of Cairns, almost 100 miles away.

And I feel like a failure because I lost it as a GM and essentially did a “rocks fall, everyone dies” stunt but without killing the characters.  So, I’m going to sit down and work on my dungeon that I had planned for a little later in this campaign and present it in the next session.  I’m also going to try to spend some time brainstorming through all the situations I had planned and see if I can salvage anything.  While my pride wants to blame others, I know….I KNOW….this is entirely my fault because I was not prepared as I should have been and I had not done my job of making the city come alive.

I think I’ll close the comments on this one.  While I appreciate my friends trying to convince me that I’m too hard on myself, I still believe that it is the duty of the GM to set the tone of the game and I failed to do that.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

AD&D/OSRIC Freeport, Game 3

After nearly a month of cancelled games due to no one being able to meet or having half the group with obligations elsewhere, we finally almost all got together this past Friday for part 3 of the excursion into my version of Freeport.  Two players were still unable to meet due to various job related problems.  Hopefully the next game will have everyone present.

I didn't get the prep time I had hoped for this game because I managed to get the bug that most of the 7th grade was sharing at school.  Ugh...never like being that sick.  Then, I had promised to do a Christmas show in our planetarium and suddenly found that looming.  So, as the group gathered I had two hooks ready.  And they promptly squished both of them.

Well, fine then.  I pulled out a resource I had forgotten I had: Vornheim.  What a great urban resource!  I rolled a random encounter for the group: Ice, all movement at -4.  So, I said, "well, you get up this morning and open the front door to find the entire street caked in ice.  A layer of ice stretches in both directions about a block, though it stretches further to your right than your left."

Immediately, they were hooked.  "Wait, isn't it fall?"  "It's not due to ice at this time of year and it never ices this bad."  "Did we hear anything?"  "Can we find the epicenter?"  "How is everyone else reacting?"  The group decided to find the epicenter and then try to track the creator of the large ice patch.  This involved trying to break into a business (a woman engineer), talking with folks on the street, and lastly interviewing 25 kids.  They learned the "wizard" was wearing red & green robes, running from something, and disappearing in a "hole in the sky".

Searching for the hole, they found an invisible opening about 8 feet in the air and just above the location where the mage's footprints stopped.  (1st ed Rangers are ridiculous trackers.  65% to track in a city.  Wow...)  So, the group climbed up into the opening to find a 30 x 30 room.  The opening was in the wall and bordered by an oval frame, being roughly 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide.  One door exited the room, locked.  Opening the door, they forgot to try to track him anymore....(snicker....) and found a hallway stretching left and right.  Going left, they found a barracks room, a partially worked cavern and lastly a strange door with 2 buttons to the right.  Pushing a button, they heard and felt a hum.  In a few moments, a "ding" was heard and the door parted in the middle to show a small room (about 10' x 10') with a broken mirror opposite the door, no other doors...and no floor.  Looking down and dropping a torch, they figured it was 8 feet deep since it took the torch 8 seconds to hit bottom.  (Remember, this is the half-orc group....)

 So, they pushed a few buttons on the interior wall on the left and let the doors close.  Then they forced open the doors and saw the top of the room sinking away.  To the right though, they found a ladder that went up and down, and was recessed far enough to not get hit by the moving room.  Looking up, they saw 2 doors above them, one at about 10 feet and another at about 25 feet.  Looking down, they noticed at least 6 more doors.  Going up, they opened the door 10 feet up. The hallway that stretched off had gray very smooth walls and a floor of a white granite like material but the slabs must have been huge.  There were odd torch sconces on the walls that produced light and heat but no smoke.  The cleric went to pull one off the wall and there was smoke and sparks, and the torch went out.  A little panicky, they dropped the "torch" on the floor and opted to go up another floor.

Opening up this door, the light was everywhere but there were no obvious torches.  Moving into the hallway and walking down it looking for doors, a section of the wall opened up with a "shushing" sound.  Inside, they found a room with an odd shelf opposite the door, 5 tables each with 4 to 6 chairs, and more of the strange lighting from the ceiling with no flickering, heat or smoke.  The right wall had 16 small concealed doors which presented plates of hot food as each was opened (different food for each door, but the same food as the same door was opened).  The left wall had a concealed door with odd handleless mugs that were very light, translucent, but apparently unbreakable.  Also, there were 7 small round openings, facing down with small levers behind them.  Pushing a lever caused fluid to disperse from the opening.  The favorite fluid was a warm brown liquid that, though bitter, was rejuvenating and invigorating.  On the tables were 2 small cylinders, one black and one white, and three tall cylinders with pointed tops: one yellow, one red, and one brownish.  They grabbed the "mugs", the cylinders, and as much of the brown liquid as they could.

Continuing down the hallway, the walls didn't open up until they got to an intersection.  The room beyond the wall as dark and there was snoring as well as bunks.  It looked to be about 40' x 40' with several human sized creatures in it.  After a few moments, one shouted something angrily toward the group.  When there was no response, he at up and looked at the group and let out a yell.  He grabbed an odd stick like device and started throwing magic missiles toward the group. One hit the ranger and one hit the cleric.  Then several other sat up and did the same.  One of the fighters threw a handaxe at the first "mage" and apparently killed him.  The ranger fired two arrows into the room, hitting and apparently killing another.  A short melee followed as the mages started trying to put on white plate mail while shooting magic missiles.  However, three failed to react well and ended up shooting their compatriots.  Eventually, the thief and the other fighter threw lamp oil in the doorway and followed that with a torch.  The ensuing blaze caused a raucous sound to start coming from everywhere and the hallway light changed to red which then flickered in a pattern moving toward the fire.  The group hightailed it back to the vertical shaft and went back down one level.

Exiting into the gray hallway again, they found the broken torch still sitting one the floor where they left it.  They didn't hear or see smoke, so they continued exploring.  The hallway had several doors before branching off left and right.  The first door opened upon a temple like place with tables and chairs all facing away from the door but toward a large altar like object opposite the door.  The room was 40' by 60' and sloped gently down.  The far wall was all white. Moving down the slope, the discovered concealed doors in the white wall.  Opening one door displayed a wall which had odd knobs and buttons.  Pushing one caused it to light up green, then an image appeared on the white wall.  It was animated and a voice speaking an unknown language was loudly coming from everywhere.  Pushing other buttons caused other images to appear, or the sound to get louder or softer, or the lights in the room to change from brighter to dimmer.    Opening the other door showed a bookshelf with odd items (none sharp) and several pieces of paper, some with odd writing and some blank. 

Continuing down the hallway, they opened one door to find a group of adolescent humans scattered in small groups at tables.  Walking amongst them were 2 human adults who were looking on at what the adolescents were doing.  Everyone was speaking some odd language and focused upon the tasks at the desks.  No one was wearing armor or carrying weapons.  Soon, one adolescent female saw the group....which had opened the door with weapons drawn...and in a terrified manner nudged her group to look at the door.  Pretty soon, everyone was looking at the group.  The adult female was carefully walking back toward a small box on the wall while the adult male was making calming sounds and motioning the adolescents behind him.  The cleric and the ranger tried telling everyone they weren't in danger, but no one responded.  However, one female which had been at the back of the room moved forward.  She called out in Pixie, "What are you doing here?  How did you get into this area?"  The only one who could speak Pixie was the ranger.  A discussion ensued, with lots of confused looks between the humans and the girl as well as amongst the group and the girl & ranger.  Finally, they agreed to go back to the room with the portal and to meet the girl there.

Going back to the portal room, the girl met them after a few moments but she was enshrouded.  Some threats moved back and forth, which she finally quelled by having a small snake peek out from behind the veil at them.  The group learned that the red & green mage was an escaped criminal.  The medusa (yep, another steal from Vornheim) was one of a group of Guardians who watch over the different dimensions.  The mage had apparently killed or incapacitated a Guardian and stolen the key to open the portal to and from the group's dimension/plane.  The medusa was willing to give them the rights to sell this brown liquid to sell in their dimension in return for them finding this rogue mage and either bringing him back to justice or bringing proof of his demise.  The key is a greenish blue gemstone fashioned like a teardrop, hanging as a pendant on a necklace.  She also gave the cleric a bracelet that would allow them to communicate with her in case they needed questions answered.  All she could provide is information, not help.

And that's where we ended it for the evening.  Now to work out more about this character....

Monday, December 3, 2012

CSIO, Game 3

The third game started with two players coming in through G+ hangout.  The PCs were flush from the victory of discovering the reason for the disappearances of goblins and were looking for the next mystery to solve.  They settled on trying to discover the story behind the frozen beggar found outside the Pig & Whistle.  A preliminary hunt through the Beggars Guild had presented them with the information that the beggar was working on a few different projects.  One of the projects was information gathering for Torvald One-Hand, a minor noble in town. 

Heading over to the Pig & Whistle, the group learned that the place was a real dive.  So, after talking with the owner and the barkeep, they managed to convince the owner to hire the Goblin Quartet to sing and be spitting targets for a 20% cut of the gambling proceeds.  While talking with the owner, the rest of the group began asking the crowd if anyone knew of the frozen beggar event.  One drunk regular passed on the information that a Valonian wearing a crimson cloak had met the beggar that evening.  The beggar had handed over a package and left.  The Valonian opened the package, grew irate, and followed the beggar outside.  There was a scream, cut short, and then everyone found the frozen beggar.  Further questioning revealed the Valonians liked to hang out at the Cup & Dragon, a short walk away. 

Entering the Cup & Dragon, the group saw the place was a halfling establishment with orc female staff which the Valonians enjoyed teasing.  The group then got quite silly with lots of puns about short people which drew raucous laughter from the Valonians but angry glares from the halflings.  Soon, the group found itself ejected from the place without gaining any information from the halflings.  However, the Valonians were quite talkative.  They told the group about the crimson cloaked individual and where to find him.  He was shortly found in the southwestern part of town making plans to sail within a week.  He initially was annoyed by their questions until they implied that they could find the package he was looking for. 

Going back to the sage, the group discovered that the goblin they had delivered to him was supposed to have delivered a package to a certain minor noble.  However, he instead delivered it to a man in a gold mask wearing black robes.  Further investigation uncovered that this man is known to be a Black Lotus operative.

After some discussion, the general consensus appeared to be that the group really needs a dungeon crawl instead of a set of urban mysteries to solve.  So, I think I'll work on the group of crypts I had started on and place them out in the Plain of Cairns for a future adventure.