Believe it or not, we actually got to sit down and play this past Friday. It's been months since I've had a chance to sit in the DM seat. Life is still very chaotic, busy, stressful, and (in some instances) painful. Some more bad-ish news filtered in since the last blog post. If you're just interested in the play report, jump down to "Play Report".
Bad: Dad started having pain a few days before his chemo treatment. Nothing severe but it just shouldn't have shown up at all. A few hours into the treatment, the pain did its usual "start-get uncomfortable-fade" routine....but it didn't stop at "uncomfortable". It hit 12 on the 10 point pain scale, and hung on there for about half an hour. It reappeared a few more times like that. The doctor could not find a reason but prescribed some morphine derivative painkillers for the moments when it appears. Next week, Dad goes in for a CT scan to check on the tumors' sizes and shapes. We're hoping for reductions in both. Then more chemo.
Sad: The department chair announced her retirement at the end of the school year. She's been a very good friend and a wonderful mentor. I am going to miss her dearly.
Stressful: A lot of well-meaning people have come by and offered support and encouragement, or I'm sure they thought their words were supportive and encouraging. However, hearing stories about cancer from others does not encourage me much. I know how differently a person's reactions to chemo or radiation can be. I really do appreciate the sentiment, but knowing you're praying for us or something like that is better than hearing about how your uncle or friend's mother's boyfriend survived (or didn't) isn't really that helpful.
Play Report: (at last, right?) So, we were missing a ranger, a fighter, and a cleric when the players gathered to pick up on the Freeport adventure. Last time, the group had chosen to change sides and work with the Illusionist who had rescued his people from a demon incursion on their home plane. He gets vague, angry and defensive when the subject is brought up, suggesting he was somehow connected to the start of the incursion. The previous two game sessions had the group running around in a modified version of the Portals of Torsh module from Judges Guild. The group had managed to get a wagon load of iron bars and such cheap in Freeport and bring it to Torsh where iron is more precious than gold. They left with a wagon and a half of gold. The session started out with the group spending their money on magic items and equipment. The Illusionist was going to send them to another plane to pick up some weapons to help him destroy the demon invaders and retake his home plane. So, after buying what they could (see paragraph below), they got a simple map and were whisked away to the base of White Plume Mountain.
Aside: I vaguely remember an old Dragon magazine article which pointed out some problems with the prices in the 1e DMG. Specifically, Gauntlets of Ogre Power are 10k GP and give you a 18/00 Strength. However, a Girdle of Hill Giant Strength is only 2500 GP and gives you a 19 Strength. My guess is that the girdles were supposed to be 25k and up, but I can't find the Dragon article on that. Granted, I haven't looked that hard yet, but I will.
Back to Play Report: So, after spending a bunch of the gold, the two fighters present have Fire Giant and Stone Giant strength Girdles. The thief has an improved version of the Ring of Fire Resistance modified as a cloak. The mage has Wings of Flying and a magic dagger. The ranger (halfling) has a Hill Giant strength girdle and a Frost Brand. They also buy 5 sheep from a shepherd and take those with them to White Plume Mountain. They follow the map up to the entrance and find the door in. The sheep fall down the stairs, proving there are no traps there. At the end of the first corridor, one of the sheep is grabbed by a black pudding and eaten. The pudding is then pounded to death by stones and rocks thrown by the super strong fighters. The gynosphynx gives her riddle and asks the party to kill a mage in blue who imprisoned her down there. She lets them by without a fight. They go after the magic sword first. The sheep find a pit trap but managed to survive. They then find a greased floor to a pit trap with blades...and now the group only has 3 sheep left. The induction field trap (I love that one...great use of Physics) manages to strip the fighters down. As their suiting back up, one of the fighters sees the secret door in the wall. He goes over and knocks on it, saying "Hey guys, here's a secret door!" Just as he does that, he's ambushed by ghouls who promptly paralyze him. The other fighter leaps forward to attack, kills one ghoul, and then gets paralyzed by another. The thief pulls back and starts shooting arrows. The mage flies up to the ceiling and starts magic missiling the ghouls. The ranger pulls out a magic skull taken from the serpent folk way back and lobs it at the pack. My rolls put all the remainder of the ghouls in the blast radius. The ranger rolls 2d6 and gets 11. The ghouls have 10 hp. But it also damages the paralyzed folks, so not all is lost.
As the group overcomes the paralysis and gets ready to move on, two gargoyles show up, checking out the sound of the explosion. One fighter literally slices one of the gargoyles in half while the other fighter drops the other gargoyle down to 2 hp. They didn't have a chance. Further exploration leads to the Arena Room with all the creatures. The group backs out quietly and goes toward another room. This room has a couple of wights, which the group takes out in two rounds but they lost a sheep in the process.
And that's where we stopped. The group is holed up in the room with the magic river and kayaks. The next game probably won't be until the 31st because of all the end of school demands upon my time. While most of them had heard of the module, no one had played it. They all really liked the puzzles and challenges. I look forward to the next game.