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528 posts. Alias of Allen Stewart.


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Very nice to hear from you Concerro. I hope life is treating you well.

I do give the players full marks for their decision making abilities and their forbearance. That forbearance however appears to have reached something resembling an end, and the campaign appears to have slid into a prolonged 'break' for the present time. Due to my own scheduling limitations, I am not entirely saddened by the main players current time constraints from work and college schedules that are limiting their ability to attend the game. I suspect that the massive character count that the Tomb of Horrors and Slumbering Tsar produced was unexpected to them, and may not have been universally beloved... Such is life...

Hopefully at some point we resume. Regrettably, the eleven posts listed above will likely not have any additions, at least for the next few months, possibly longer. We'll see...
Wonderful to hear from you sir.

This is a write up I did back in October 2018 following my first and only session in a short lived Masks or Nyarlothep campaign that came to an unceremonious end shortly thereafter. I figured I’d post it here, as it was the follow up campaign to the HotOE campaign. Turin the Mad was the Keeper/GM for this game.
In the 10/20/18 first (and only) session of the Masks of Nyarlothep CoC campaign, there were 0 PC fatalities. There were a total of five players participating in the game session. The Call of Cthulhu game was set in the year 1921. My character (having previously survived the end finale of Horror on the Orient Express) had traveled from France to New York City (before the game started), apparently at the invitation of one of the other players characters (who was independently wealthy), and traveled with him from NYC to Lima Peru for the purpose of exploring a newly discovered pyramid. After arrival in Peru, it became apparent to our characters that the person in charge of organizing the expedition to the Peruvian pyramid had some sort of unusual personal problems, including black veins and an apparent affinity for narcotics. At some point, fellow player Haru, got the boneheaded idea to try to perform an exorcism on this guy, at which point, the crap hit the fan. (Not surprisingly, most of the trouble I experience in Call of Cthulhu games, occur when Haru gets some sort of bright idea during the game, which usually leads to all sorts of unexpected problems and consequences, which I inevitably end up reaping the heavy end of…) And naturally, the other characters present in today’s game were in a different part of the hotel and took no part in the fiasco that then ensued…
Our said host immediately began looking somewhat more alien or monstrous in nature, with his eyes turning completely black; and his accomplice began sporting a mouth that resembled a lamprey, and the hostilities ensued immediately. I had no gun with me, (thank you Turin), so I swung pathetically with my brass knuckles and whiffed mightily. I then got hammered for 6 of my 9 HP, and it was looking like a very early character demise in the campaign was imminent. Haru, for his trouble, was trying to run his sorry ass away and leave me to fend for myself in the carnage that he created with his misguided attempt at an exorcism… My goading persuaded Haru (the player) to stop running and try to help me. I made a 25% roll and managed to get around the “sucker” (lamprey) faced guy and run into the hallway and half way down a stairwell. Haru's character was then the victim of a spell of some sort that blinded his character temporarily. “Sucker face” cornered Haru (now blinded) and I on the stairwell. I declared an intent to try to shove the alien attacker through the window on the hotel stairwell, taking myself and Haru's characters with the bastard, if needed. I rolled an ‘01’ and succeeded spectacularly, knocking the ass-clown through the window and impaling him on an object down below on the sidewalk. Haru and I didn’t even have to go through the window along with suckerface, owing to the '01' roll, and I then helped the temporarily blinded Haru down the stairs.
We encountered the Peruvian hotel management lady, who was equipped with a 10 gage double barreled shot gun in hand, and I told her in Spanish that two idiots were trashing her hotel, and “Abuela” then proceeded to punk both of those bastards in spectacular fashion, saving out butts in the process...
Sadly, the campaign ended after the following game session that I was not present for, but I was told did not accomplish much. Hopefully this game can be resurrected at some point in the future…. KGM

Session 11: In today's 11th session of the 2019/2020 Slumbering Tsar Campaign, the player characters finished, or rather, were finished by the Tomb of Horrors. The characters had been playing in the Tomb of Horrors as a side trek from the usual wilderness encounters outside of Tsar. Today's game was an absolute bloodbath of a session. Participating in today's session were Robbin #11 (9th level Rogue), Bob the Cleric #13 (9th level Cleric), Duke #16 (9th level Wizard), Ralph #9 (9th level monk); and they were joined by new characters: Nostradamus (10th level Wizard), Hippie Dan (9th level Druid), Meathead (10th level Fighter), Rhombus the Cleric (9th level Cleric) and Bozo Shaggins (9th level Halfling Fighter). Absent from today's game were Gus #5 (9th level Gunslinger/Magus character) and Biggles #3 (9th level War Priest character). As usual, the nicknames of the characters are ones that I have created for the PCs, and not what the players in the group call their characters. I encouraged the need for additional characters to give the characters a fair shot against what I assumed would be the possible showdown against Acererak.

The nine player characters present resumed their adventures in the Tomb of Horrors. The group was in the Throne Room at area 25 when we left off. The characters eventually made their way to the foyer in area 28, and went about trying to get the door open to area 30. Robbin #11 had another go with the scepter trying to get the door open, and Robbin (not knowing which end the former (now deceased) Robbin #10 had tried, prior to his untimely demise, and he guessed the Silver end. Robbin #11 was immediately teleported off to area 6, arriving buck naked, just as his predecessor did, while his equipment went to Acererak at 33. The player of Robbin #11 then made the same inquiry of me, as he had with Robbin #10, and informed me that he had no wish to play a character with no equipment, and expressed his wish to end his character's existence so he could "start afresh." Always being of an altruistic disposition, I had the Medusa from Session 2 (see the 3rd post in this thread) handy, who promptly gazed at Robbin #11, successfully petrified him, and then tossed him into one of the spiked pits close at hand, shattering Robbin #11 into several thousand pieces [CASUALTY #1].

Robbin #12 then joined the group, and they tried the gold end of the scepter in the door, and successfully gained access to area 30. This room took a while for the group to complete, and from the beginning, the players were highly concerned about the four iron statues in each corner of the chamber. The group had by that point discovered that the room was lined with lead, and that no magic appeared to function. The player of Robbin #12 stated his belief that something would likely trigger one or more of the four iron statues (all large sized) to come to life as full Iron Golems, which the player of Robbin #12 believed would likely be fatal to the group. The characters (all nine of them) at length hauled ALL FOUR of the statues out of the chamber and all the way into the throne room, hoping to avoid being mauled by what they thought were Iron Golems waiting to be triggered into life. Meanwhile, the group searched and disarmed the two chests in the room, and then looked at the Effreti Urn and the sarcophagus. After learning that there were no apparently hostile encounters, the characters tossed the bogus gems into their bag of holding and took the broken Staff of the Magi along with them for good measure. 😊 The Player of Nostradamus the Wizard asked me if it was possible to repair the Broken Staff of the Magi. I offered an intentionally ambiguous answer, not wanting to encourage or discourage the player from having his character claim the Staff. At that point, Nostradamus left the chamber with the broken staff of the Magi. Once he crossed the threshold of the chamber, (the staff now no longer being shielded by the anti-magic field of the chamber) exploded. Nostradamus and four other characters (Rhombus the Cleric, Meathead the Undying, Ralph #9 and Robbin #12) were all in range of the Retributive Strike of the broken Staff of the Magi, and all rolled their saving throws. One or two of them successfully saved, the others failed. It didn't matter, the damage was enough to Obliterate all five characters in range [CASUALTY #2, #3, #4, #5 and #6]. The group was then joined by new characters Rhombus the Cleric #2, Meathead the Undying #2, Ralph the Monk #10, Robbin #13 and Nostradamus #2 and the fun continued...

The characters finished searching the chamber and opened the trapdoor in the floor which they found when they moved one of the four iron statues earlier. The group then began down the hallway, searching as they went. Robbin #13 (lucky for some) noted the presence of a keyhole and subsequently the second keyhole in the floor in the next square beyond. Robbin the Rogue #13 correctly (amazingly) conjectured that the use of the First Key, followed by the Second Key might be the desirable order. He opened the door successfully and the second keyhole in the floor. The characters did not search for any trap on the second keyhole, not that it would have made any difference if they had. After turning the key three times round, the ground beneath the second keyhole began to rumble. All nine characters were close at hand, and all stopped in unison. The floor began to elevate. The player of Robbin the Rogue asked me to describe it, and I said that the floor began to go up, like a "lift" or an elevator. The players of several other characters (Meathead #2, Ralph #10 and Nostradamus #2) asked me if other characters could attempt to jump ON to the elevating section of the floor. Simply Amazing. I read the description of the chamber exactly as presented. The characters judged that they needed to hop onto the raising floor and not jump away from it. Four characters made it SUCCESSFULLY onto the raising floor which flew up 25 feet, and squashed all four characters to jelly, doing 192 HP of damage out of 20d20 (thanks Bruce Cordell) [CASUALTY #7, #8, #9 and #10].The group was then joined by new characters Meathead the Undying #3, Ralph the Monk #11, Robbin #14 and Nostradamus #3 and the fun continued...

The characters were then staring at an iron crypt, and opened the door. Inside was lots of gems and glowing magical weapons, and a certain jeweled skull resting in the far end of the ten by ten foot room. The player of Robbin the Rogue correctly identified what the skull was, though he said nothing to me of it at the time. The Player of Robbin owns Rappan Athuk and there is apparently a demi-lich in that adventure, hence his recognition of the illustrated skull. Robbin #14 then shouted for the characters in the actual ten by ten foot chamber to scoop up all the treasure present as fast as they could into the bag(s) of holding. They spent their round doing that. Once again, our friend Bruce Cordell saves the day, as he stated in the text of the 3.5 Tomb of Horrors update that Acererak’s skull no longer waits in topor, to be attacked, and that if the treasure in the crypt is touched, he moves to attack. Initiatives were rolled. The player of Robbin #14 was astounded at that, stating that he thought that if they grabbed the treasure and didn’t mess with the skull, that they wouldn’t be attacked. 😊

I had anticipated a longer slugfest than what it ended up being. The stat block for Acererak in the 3.5 edition Tomb of Horrors is that of a CR 12 Construct. I looked on the d20Pfsrd for an updated Pathfinder version of the demi-lich, and noted that there was a CR 14 demi lich as the only "official" version of the creature. So I used that. (
What I didn't expect was that our friends at Paizo (my sincere thanks Mr. Jacobs, Mr. Mona and Mr. Bulmahn, and whoever else) had given the CR 14 demi lich the use of a Wail of the Banshee at Caster Level 20 no less!!!!! Well, several characters went before Acererak, and one managed to hit him, but didn't bypass his DR 20/-. On Acererak's action on Round 1, he used Wail of the Banshee. Saving throws were rolled by all present. All characters were within twenty feet of Acererak at the time of casting. The DC listed is 24. Only Bob the Cleric was successful on his saving throw… (Several Nat ‘2’s and 3’s were rolled were rolled by the players.) The other eight characters each took 200 HP damage (as Acererak uses the Wail at Caster Level 20) and screamed and died mightily on the spot [CASUALTY #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17 and #18].

Bob the Cleric then attempted to start ‘negotiations’ with the demi-lich Acererak. I enjoy players’ thought processes… I attempted to drain Bob on the round immediately afterwards while he was still ‘negotiating’ with me, but he successfully saved against the attack. The player of Nostradamus #3 informed me that his character (no sooner than he hit the floor stone dead) was attempting to bargain his soul with any outsider, or power that would humor him. I fully realized that Bob wouldn’t last long, so in the effort of continuity, I humored the player of Nostradamus#3 and agreed to his offer to bargain his soul if he was ‘returned to life’ on the following round. On the following round, Acererak polished off Bob the Cleric [CASUALTY #19], completing the TPK, while newly revived Nostradamus #4 cast a jazzed-up version of Burning Hands that did 50 some hit points damage. I opted not to bother the player with the information that Acererak was immune to the spell, as he appeared to be having fun. The next round, Nostradamus (the player) finally figured that this was a hopeless fight, so he cast Detonate and went for broke. The explosion left him at Negative 3 Hit Points, and unconscious on the floor. He was however outside of Acererak’s ten foot by ten foot chamber at that point. Given that no other character was present to molest the remaining treasure present or threaten the skull, I opted to have Acererak return to his ‘topor’ state and cease combat while awaiting anyone else stupid enough to attack him or grab more treasure. When Nostradamus eventually stabilized at 0 HP, he limped and crawled his way out of the tomb, grabbing the bag of holding with a large amount of loot, along the way for his trouble. I allowed him to eventually make it back to the Camp to recruit new characters to continue the Slumbering Tsar campaign for our next game session. When we begin play next time, I’ll probably have the outer planar being that Nostradamus #3 bargained with show up to “Collect,” and any new characters can pick up the quest of Tsar at that point. We’ll see if anybody shows up…

On a side/personal note, 19 character demises in one game session is probably a new, grotesque record; even for me. There were a total of 47 character demises in the Tomb of Horrors part of this campaign, not counting the ones in the wilderness around Tsar prior to the group starting in the tomb. Such is the Tomb of Horrors…


Session 10: In the 10th session of the Slumbering Tsar campaign there were six player characters participating in today’s game, and a seventh joined towards the end of the game. Present in today’s game were: Robbin #9 (9th level Rogue) Gus #5 (9th level Gunslinger/Magus), Bob the Cleric #12 (9th level Cleric), Duke #15 (9th level Wizard), Ralph #8 (monk, new character), Biggles #1 (War Priest, new character), and Daisy #1 (Magus, new character and new player). Please note that the names of the player characters are nicknames that I have given them (actually the nicknames are as much geared at the players themselves as their characters), and are not what the players call their characters. The “#” following the character’s name represents how many times that same character has died thus far in the campaign. For example, Duke #15 literally means that the wizard character has been greased fourteen times since we started the campaign in March 2019.

Forgive the long post in advance. The tenth session is actually two sessions that were played over the last month. I’m combining the posts, due to the limited events of the first session of the two which was quite short in duration, and the fact that combat was just beginning when we finished the first of the two sessions and I wanted to keep the entire combat with the Lich in one post rather than space it out over two different posts. The player characters continue to adventure in the Tomb of Horrors, while Slumbering Tsar is the campaign in question, the players opted to try the Tomb of Horrors as a side trek, and currently the players want to try to finish the Tomb, before returning to the rest of Slumbering Tsar itself.

During the first of the two sessions, the group finished the lab at area 19, crossed the pit (at area 20) and finished the turbulent chamber (area 21). The characters painstakingly searched every last coffer in room 21, and eventually made their way to the curtains. I successfully got multiple characters totally covered with green slime in room 21, but the group fireball’d themselves to deal with the slime, and no characters perished in this room to my great disappointment. At the conclusion of that session, the group had moved east from room 21 and was at the large four-way intersection that led eastward to area 22 & the Sirine’s room, south to the trapped door (12), and northward to the false door and the elephant juggernaut (23/23B). The 3.5 edition version of the Tomb of Horrors coded this area as “21A,” but on the older editions of the Tomb Map, I don’t believe that this area has a numbered encounter, but is merely a pit in the middle of the four-way intersection.

During both sessions that make up this post, the players were treading very delicately, and repeatedly stating (the player of Robbin the rogue in particular) that they expected the Lich who had TPK’d the group during the 9th session (see the previous post for details) to emerge at anytime to tangle with the group again. I had not expected the group to get completely wiped out during the last session, and I didn’t have a plan in mind for the lich, as I didn’t think he’d be around to harass the player characters any further. But since he was around, and since the players kept expecting him to show up, I decided not to disappoint… (The Lich is from encounter area 18A. In the 3.5 edition update, Bruce Cordell changed the “pseudo-lich” from the 1st and 2nd edition versions of the Tomb of Horrors into a regular CR 13 lich. If you are only in possession of the 1st or 2nd edition Tomb of Horrors, you may be wondering where this lich came from. Now you know. You can thank Mr. Cordell for his inclusion here.)

At the four way intersection eastward from Room 21 with the pit trap right in the middle of the intersection, the characters decided to split up and search multiple corridors at the same time. This turned out to be a rather unfortunate time to divide the characters. Ralph #8 the monk and Robbin the Rogue #10 opted to caddy corner the pit and head down the south passageway towards the door. The rest of the group crossed the pit and headed eastward towards the Siren’s room at area 22. The Lich was tipped off to the group’s presence in room 21 by an alarm spell, and he was readying himself while the group crossed the pit at area 21A. As there were six characters present at this time, rather than five, and they were expecting the lich, I decided to have the Lich precast a few more spells before the encounter began. I went with Freedom of Movement (bloodline spell), stoneskin, protection from fire, fly, greater/improved invisibility, mage armor, shield, and I used a wand to fire off a divine power spell just prior to initiating hostilities.

No sooner had the Monk and Rogue PCs went down the south corridor, then the silently observing lich quietly cast a Wall of Force spell (which created an invisible wall barrier right at the edge of the pit trap and the south corridor) to effectively trap Robbin the rogue and Ralph the monk in the south hallway. Gus, Bob, Duke & Biggles continued to make their way down the east hallway while Robbin & Ralph were searching the door (and unknowingly trapped) at the end of the south hallway. Robbin discovered the trap, disarmed it and identified that the south hallway was a dead end. At the same time in the east hall, Bob the Cleric and Biggles the War Priest were leading the other PCs with Duke the Sorcerer in the middle and Gus bringing up the rear. Gus was about forty or fifty feet behind Bob and Biggles with Duke about halfway in between. At the beginning of the next round, the Lich moved (flew under the effects of Fly and Greater Invisibility) about thirty feet and touch attacked Biggles the War Priest, and then used Spring Attack to move another thirty feet (he was under the effect of a fly spell). Biggles rolled very low and blew his saving throw against the Lich’s paralyzing attack and was permanently paralyzed. I predicted that the players would likely expect that I would have the lich retreat around the corner of the corridor into room 22 proper after paralyzing Biggles. I decided instead to have the Lich move forward and trust to his +46 Stealth bonus to be able to hide from the group, and I parked the Lich right next to Duke the Sorcerer, as I hoped that even if the Lich were detected that he would A) not be targeted by area of effect spells, as those would fry the Sorcerer who was next to him along with, and that if the Sorcerer moved, that I would get an attack of opportunity with the Lich’s touch attack, which would effectively allow me to potentially put a second character out of commission without even using a standard action. And when Duke’s turn rolled around, he tried to move, and was hit by the Lich on an attack of opportunity for leaving the lich’s threatened space, blew his saving throw, and was permanently paralyzed. The loss of Duke meant that the group had no remaining characters who could remove paralysis, Dimension Door/teleport, or other spells that would help already incapacitated characters, so it was down to four-against-one, and I hadn’t even been hit yet. The players now knew the general location of the lich. They performed various actions, including Robbin the Rogue charging into the invisible wall of force (not previously knowing it was there). I didn’t bother to inflict any damage. Seeing the player looking perplexed was rewarding enough…

On the Lich’s next action, he moved and touched Bob the Cleric. Bob made his saving throw, and the Lich moved again, back to where the sorcerer Duke lay prone, again to effectively prevent the group from baking me with area of effect spells, unless they were willing to blast their fellow character right along with me 😊 They weren’t, but they didn’t note my presence also. The Gunslinger Magus PC had turned himself into a bugbear the round before, and he argued that since Bugbear’s have “Scent” that he could more or less track the invisible lich by scent if I was within thirty feet of him. The player of the Gunslinger Magus knew that the Lich was close at hand, but couldn’t find him, so he readied an action to blast the Lich if I came within five feet of him. I wisely allowed the Gunslinger to wait for the attack that never came while I continued whittling down the other characters present.

On the next round, I had the Lich move and attacked Bob the Cleric again, and this time Bob missed his saving throw and was paralyzed. Three-against-one now. Robbin and Ralph were beating on the wall of force and the surrounding stonework in a vain attempt to get around the wall of force. On the following round, I had the lich move past the Gunslinger, over the pit (area 21A) and into the western corridor that the characters had originally approached the four way intersection from. The lich remained in the Western corridor for that round, and cast Dominate Person, attempting to gain control of Ralph the Monk, in the hope that I could have him literally tie Robbin the Rogue up into knots. Ralph made his saving throw against the Dominate Person. Robbin the Rogue was at that point trying to engage the Lich in conversation, literally offering him Gus the Gunslinger and the other three paralyzed characters in exchange for his life and that of the Ralph the Monk. It was rather amusing. My fondest memory of this encounter was the player of Robbin the Rogue trying to haggle with the Lich, literally offering him the Gunslinger/Magus character Gus, who was alive and active at that time and about twenty feet from him, albeit the wall of Force was between them…

On the following round the Lich cast another spell, which was heard by the players, yet nothing appeared to happen. Then, the Bugbear Gunslinger’s “Scent” of the Lich went cold. The players looked slightly confused and concerned at that point. I could sense that the truth of where the Lich had gone to was becoming apparent to the player of the Bugbear Gunslinger, which he soon correctly stated that he thought that the Lich had Dimension Door’d into the south corridor (behind the wall of force) and was now in the hallway with Robbin the Rogue and Ralph the Monk. On Robbin the Rogue’s action, he actually used some sort of item (I still don’t fully comprehend what it was) to incapacitate Ralph, fearing that the next Dominate Person would succeed on Ralph and Ralph’s inevitable grapple attempt against him (Robbin) would effectively remove TWO characters from the encounter. That made the situation all the easier for the Lich, as on the following round, he moved and touched Robbin the Rogue, paralyzing him. On the following round, the Lich paralyzed Ralph the monk for good measure, and the round before the Wall of Force expired, I cast Dominate Person, and Gus the Gunslinger blew his saving throw. Gus was at that time attempting to carry the War Priest character and exit the Tomb of Horrors to safety. I don’t know how the player of Gus realistically thought he’d make out of the dungeon, but that’s another matter. At that point, the encounter was a total party wipe again. I undoubtedly could have greased Gus and completed the route, but the player of Gus stated that he’d had enough of the Tomb of Horrors at that point, and it appeared that the player of Gus was ready to resume wilderness encounters around Tsar. I decided that realistically, I had Gus’s bacon dominated for 11 more days, so I could let him go, and then make things interesting afterwards instead of greasing him now. So the Lich let him go…

Gus headed out of the Tomb and returned to The Camp to recruit more player characters to join him. The Lich then removed all magical items and used telekinesis to drag the five paralyzed characters to the entry hall (areas 3 through 6) and tossed the characters into the sphere of annihilation, ending their unhappy existences (CASUALTY #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5).

Back in town at the Camp, Gus had rounded up new characters, including a New Player who began playing in the game session about that time. Enter characters: Robbin #10, Ralph #9, Biggles #2, and Daisy #1 (Magus, new character and new player). Bob #13 and Duke #16 were not “fully statted up and ready” for action when we resumed playing, so the players opted to have Bob & Duke “remain in town” until the characters are ready for use at which time they would teleport in and join the other characters. Thus it was only five characters who went back to the Tomb of Horrors at that point.

The player of Robbin the Rogue #10 stated that his character was a sibling/family member of the late Robbin the Rogue #9, and wanted to know the location of his family member’s demise. The player of Gus stated (lied) to the Player of Robbin, that his character had no idea where Robbin #9 had perished. Then the Lich intervened, and exercised his domination/control over Gus#5, and had Gus inform Robbin #10, that yes, he knew PRECISELY where the remains of Robbin #9 were located, and that he would gladly escort Robbin #10 to the very spot to retrieve them!!!!!

So Gus#5 led the new characters right back to the Tomb of Horrors for more fun. Upon arrival, the group eventually made their way back to the dreaded four-way intersection where the previous carnage had occurred. This time, there was no lich. After consideration, I wanted to see if the characters could survive to the end of the Tomb, and the lich was becoming too much of a major obstacle and detracting from the adventure by that point. The group eventually went north at the intersection and ended up springing the Elephant Juggernaut at 23B, and the Juggernaut damaged the new Magus/Sorcerer character Daisy, but she was saved by one of the other meddling characters from being flattened.

The group then eventually made their way into the great pillared hall at area 25. The characters meandered about in the central vastness of the pillars, before they decided to search the periphery of the chamber. The Gunslinger/Magus ended up searching the throne in the south end, while the other four characters all gravitated towards the northern end of the chamber. None of the characters were willing to inspect the glowing orange gem (at area C) for fear that they would get incinerated as they assumed the remains of past adventurers suggested. The Gunslinger put on the crown from the throne to the chagrin of the other players present. Meanwhile, Daisy #1 the Magus/Sorcerer opted to open one of the doors to 26. This area contained a sarcophagus, which she opened, and found a mummy. The Magus/Sorcerer evidenced little in the way of impulse control and decided to try to grab the gem continued within the mummy’s eye socket. Daisy #1 was immediately grabbed by the creature. The scripted text called for a Mummy Lord, which is a CR 10 opponent by Pathfinder d20pfsrd terms. I opted to give it the advanced monster template to make him CR 11 to make it a more even fight. The Magus/Sorcerer immediately blew her save versus the Fear effect (DC21) and was paralyzed with fear for 4 rounds. The other players, save for the Gunslinger, who was across the room, acted on player knowledge and had their characters move towards area 26 to try to save the Sorceress’ bacon. On my next action, I had the Mummy go for a Coup’ de Grasse attack on Daisy the paralyzed Sorceress. Some readers might deem me rather cruel. This was a new player in my group, whom I only met about an hour before this moment, and I was now informing this new player that the mummy was disemboweling her character with a spoon and that the Sorceress expired in heinous manner. I had assumed that this was Casualty #6, but I was thereafter informed by other players that the Sorceress had a headband that duplicated the ability of a cyclops to “choose” any result on 1 dice roll per day. The player then opted to “select a Natural 20” on the Save versus death on the Coup’ de Grasse attack, and she may have survived. I opted not to take the time to stop and go over the rules to verify it, and I allowed the character to survive at least for the moment. Daisy #1 was however still held with fear and couldn’t move. Biggles the War Priest had made his way over, and Ralph the Monk was close behind. Biggles sadly also failed his save against the Mummy’s fear attack, and was paralyzed for 3 rounds. On the next round, I had Mr. Mummy perform a Coup’ de Grasse attack on Biggles the War Priest. The player of Biggles informed me that he had one of those idiotic Aegis of Recovery, and that this somehow stopped a Coup’ de Grasse attacks. I wasn’t buying it, but he was held for another 2 rounds, so I figured I’d get back to him soon enough. On the following round, I did a dice roll to determine which held character (there were 3 paralyzed characters now, as the monk Ralph had arrived and he blew his saving throw as well) I was going to go after. The player of Biggles volunteered his character to be the one. That sounded strange, but I was agreeable, so I had the mummy attempt yet another Coup’ de Grasse attack on Biggles. The player stated that he had a 2nd Aegis of Recovery to save him yet again. Given that the Aegis of Recovery is a neck slot item, and he would have to swap out the old one and don the new one, which he couldn’t have done if he was paralyzed, the Mummy then successfully popped Biggles head like a grape (CASUALTY #6). The Gunslinger PC then dumped a sizable chunk of his daily cookies into the attacks he then put into the mummy, but he couldn’t take him down. Before the Mummy could 86 the monk or the sorceress, the Gunslinger and the Sorceress (now no longer paralyzed), emptied their “guns” into the mummy and barely polished him off…

That was about where we finished for the day. Except for Robbin the Rogue, who was playing with the Scepter from the throne and managed to shove the wrong end into the door at area 29, and that sent Robbin #10 packing off, buck naked, to area 6, and all of his gear went to the demi-lich. The player looked totally exasperated, and stated something to the effect of can we just get rid of this character so I can play a fully equipped character and asked if there was a spiked pit nearby that his character could dive into? I don’t want my games to descend into a point where players are actually having their characters harm themselves in some misguided effort to get an edge... So always being a compassionate sort of GM, I figured I’d help out Robbin #10. I had the Lich move to area 6 and tap Robbin #10 on the shoulder, paralyzing him, and then tossed his buck naked ass into the Sphere of Annihilation (CASUALTY #7). Then entered Robbin #11 and he headed to the Pillared hall to resume his previous comrade’s investigations…

That was where we called it for today. We’ll see if anybody shows up next time…

My main gripe with the players today was their knowledge that they would likely be facing the same lich who had TPK’d the group during the last game session, and did nothing different to try and change the outcome in today's session. None of them made any preparations to help safeguard themselves against the Lich’s paralyzing attack. That is totally on them. There are a number of options available to them, but they chose none of them. Hell, I’d have showed up with a Duergar character, since those guys are totally immune to paralysis. Bottom line, the players (who are experienced) just didn’t prepare to deal with the Lich’s touch attack, even though they could have logically expected that the same tactic that TPK’d them the previous game session would likely be employed again today… Lesson learned.


Session 9: In today’s 9th game session of the Slumbering Tsar campaign, there were five players/characters present. The characters were 9th level from the beginning of today’s game session. Present in today’s session were: Robbin #8 a 9th level Rogue; Ralph #7 a 9th level Fighter; Gus #4 a 9th level Bard; Duke Red Shirt #14 a 9th level wizard; and Bob the Cleric #11 a 9th level cleric. The characters names are nicknames I gave them, and not what the actual players call their characters.

There was a TPK during today’s game session. The characters are currently in the Tomb of Horrors. I previously gave the group the option of playing in an adventure that would give them more gold/loot than the standard Slumbering Tsar adventure gives them, and the players continue to stick it out in the tomb, rather than heading back towards Tsar for more punishment there. When we left off, the player characters had been using a Lyre of Building to demolish parts of the tomb, hoping to destroy any traps that might otherwise cause them harm. The group had previously used the Lyre to demolish the entire hallway from the chapel (area 15) all the way to area 16 where they had lost several group members to the teeter-totter-into-the-lava trap during the previous game session. As we got started today, the characters then got around to going through the secret door in the pit trap, that put them en route towards the “pseudo-lich” at area 18A. Having heard the group demolish the hallway for some time, the lich had literally several hours to prepare for the group. I only ended up having the lich precast 5 spells. I am pasting the lich’s stat block that I created at the end of this post for anyone’s use who cares to see/use it. Bruce Cordell made the “pseudo lich” from the 1st edition version of the tomb into a standard 11th level (CR 13) lich in the 3.5 edition update. I opted to keep the lich at 11th level, as that is the minimum level that a lich can be used at. I did however switch him from wizard to sorcerer to take advantage of the primary statistic for Sorcerers being the same as the score that fuels the lich’s special abilities as an undead creature. The effects of the switch were quite devastating 😊 And to think I’ve been down on sorcerer’s for all these years…

The characters explored the hallway that ends in the fear gas. The characters found the secret door that leads towards the Laboratory and the final parts of the tomb at the same time as Bob #11 was panicked by the fear gas at area 18. The PCs opted not to open the door that led to the lich’s chamber and instead went through the secret door that leads to the laboratory at area 19. They did not close the door behind them as they went. When the player characters were entering the lab at area 18, the lich exited his chamber and flew (Stealth check 10+46=56) invisibly to the characters location (taking all of about 1 round to get there). Three of the characters had entered the lab by that time, while Bob #11 and Ralph #7 were still in the hallway, looking for trouble from behind. Well they found trouble, but they didn’t make DC 56 Perception checks to note the presence of the invisible lich. The lich moved 30 feet, touched Bob the Cleric, who happened to be the closest one to him, and then used Spring Attack to move back 30 feet. Bob failed his Fortitude saving throw, and was Permanently Paralyzed via the lich’s touch attack. Bob fell over. Ralph couldn’t figure out what the problem was with Bob. The other three characters in the lab were otherwise occupied. On the next round, The lich moved and touched Ralph #7, and then used Spring Attack to move back 30 feet. Ralph failed his save and was permanently paralyzed also. At this point, the other three characters/players present were highly concerned about the situation and moved back into the hallway to try to rectify the situation.

On Gus #4’s action, the bard moved into the hallway and cast some sort of major magical spell/ability into the hallway, and didn’t hammer the lich merely because the range of his spell didn’t reach the lich (about ten feet short). Robbin the Rogue moved into the hallway with Gus, but Duke Red Shirt#14 opted to shut the door and tried to bar himself in the room… Very astute tactics from Duke today… The lich moved on his action the next round and touched Gus #4, who rolled high, but didn’t make his save, and was permanently paralyzed. At that point, the players fully grasped that they weren’t going to pull this one out, as Bob the cleric (who had Invisibility Purge, Remove Paralysis and Remove Curse) was already paralyzed, and Robbin #9 & Duke Red Shirt had no means of removing the paralysis from their three comrades and couldn’t get out of the dungeon either… On the next round, Robbin the Rogue was paralyzed by the lich and joined his three pals on the floor. Duke remained in the lab. The Lich used Dimension Door to transport himself (still invisible) into the room. Duke had up Detect magic, so he could more or less perceive that something was in the lab with him. Duke cast a Shout spell and did minimal damage to the lich, who made his saving throw. Duke was paralyzed by the lich on the next round, completing the route. The lich then removed the magical gear from the player characters and then used Telekinesis to drag the characters to area 16 and dumped them into the lava and incinerated all five characters present [CASUALTY # 1, #2, #3, #4 and #5 and a TPK]. 😊

The lich later used the lyre of building to repair all damage previously done to the tomb by the player characters using the Lyre of Building...
The players present then discussed what they were planning for replacement characters for about the next ninety minutes before we finished for the day…


KARN the Sorcerer King
Human Male Lich, Advanced Template, Sorcerer 11, CR 11 - 1 Npc value gear + 2 Lich + 1 advanced template = CR 13
Elite ability score array, save for Charisma, which I gave him an 18
Str 13+4(advanced) =17
Dex 14+4adv=18
Con -
Int 10+4adv+2Lich=16
Wis 12+4adv+2Lich=18
Cha 18+4+2human+2Lich+1+1=28(32) with Eagles Splendor
HD 11d8 + CHA 99 (121 with Eagles Splendor) = 165 DR 15/bludgeoning PLUS Stoneskin & DR 10/adamantine (if precast)
AC 30 or less (+5 natural, +4 Dex, +3 Deflection (shield of faith), Mage Armor 4, Shield 4
Saves: base 3/3/7, abilities 9(11)/4/4 = FORT +14, REF +7, WILL +11,
Immune to Cold & Electricity, Undead Traits
ATK +5 BAB +3Str/+4Dex = 8 or 9; CMB: 5+(3)+d20, CMD: 5+3+4+10=21 (Freedom of Movement)
Divine Power ADD +6 to HIT (Ftr rolls) & + 3ATK/+3 DMG) +4 Dex = +18 Touch/melee ATK
PARALYZING TOUCH: DC 10 + 5 (half level) + Charisma 9 (11 with Eagles Splendor) + 2 Ability focus feat = 26 (28) with Eagles Splendor
Fear Aura: DC 10 + 5 (half level) + 9(11) Charisma = 24(26) with Eagles Splendor
Perception: +8 lich, +11 ranks, +3 class, +4 Wis, +6 skill focus, +5 item = +37, Permanent See Invisibility
Stealth: +8 lich, +11 ranks, +3 class, +4 Dex= +26 (ADD +20 for Invisibility = +46)
Use Magic Device: ll ranks, +3 class, +9(11) CHA = 23(25)
Know Arcana 7 ranks + 3 INT = 10
Spellcraft 8 ranks + 3 INT = 11
Know History 5 ranks + 3 INT = 8
Acrobatics 2 ranks + 4 Dex = 6
Human: Toughness
1st: Skill Focus Perception
3rd- Dodge
5th- Mobility
Sor 7- Maximize Spell
7th-Spring Attack
9th- Quicken Spell
11th-Ability Focus (Paralyzing Touch +2 to DC)
SPELLS: DC 19(21) with Eagles Splendor plus spell level, Destined Bloodline
1ST: 6+2/day [5+bloodline]: Mage Armor, Shield, Magic Missile, Alarm*, True Strike, Color Spray.
2ND: 6+2/day [5+bloodline]: Eagles Splendor, Hideous Laughter (DC 23), Acid Arrow, Scorching Ray,
Cat's Grace, Blur*.
3RD: 6+2/day [4+bloodline]: Lightning Bolt, Suggestion (DC 24), Dispel Magic, Fireball*, Protection from
4TH: 6+2/day [3+bloodline]: Stoneskin, Improved/Greater Invisibility, Dimension Door, Freedom of
Movement*, Maximized Magic Missile (25 HP Dmg each)
5TH: 4+2/day [2+bloodline]: Telekenisis, Cone of Cold, Break Enchantment*, Maximized Scorching Ray (3
rays, 24 Dmg each), Quickened Magic Missile
Possessions: Wands of Shield of Faith (CL10, 3 charges), Divine Power (CL 10, 3 charges),
Eyes of the Eagle (+5 competence bonus to perception) cost 2,500.

The lich had the following spells precast, while the player characters were demolishing the hallway outside his chamber with their Lyre of Building: Freedom of Movement (4th, bloodline spell), Eagles Splendor (2nd), Greater/Improved Invisibility (4th), Fly (3rd) and Divine Power (4th, wand, needed 2 or higher on UMD check).


And speaking of the next encounter...

The “Pseudo-lich” encounter, as scripted, is for me the most disappointing encounter in the entire original Tomb of Horrors adventure. When I began playing the game in the early 1980s, I was all of eleven or twelve years of age. And like many young, immature adolescents playing an ‘old school’ game where character death was a pretty common occurrence, me and one or two of my pals were quite keen on GM’ing modules for one another, which we hoped would be downright difficult or even lethal on the characters of our friends… Aspiring adolescent killer GMs in the making… As such, I was always on the lookout for a deadly module or monster that would let me “put the hurtin’ on my friends’ characters. Then I heard about a module called the Tomb of Horrors and something called a Demi-Lich… And I resolved that moment to get a copy of Tomb of Horrors for myself. Little did I know that the 32 page booklet I was determined to purchase would forever hold such a lofty place in my twisted heart😊

I have vague memories of the day in 1982 when I went to the ‘White Dragon’ game store in northern Virginia. I can still vaguely remember seeing the front cover of the S1 ToH module and the excitement I felt at finally laying hands on it for the first time. The adventure had the green jacket/cover rather than the original white cover from the 1970’s. For those of you who don’t own a copy of the “Green Cover” version of the ToH, the cover illustration displays a fearsome lich wearing a crown, who is about to obliterate several characters depicted in a room with pillars. I was quite fascinated by the lich depicted on the cover of the module. I assumed that this same depicted lich was included in the adventure module itself and that he would be the means by which I would utterly annihilate the characters that my friends used in the module. I was highly disappointed to subsequently learn that the bad-ass lich depicted on the cover of the adventure, was not in the actual tomb module itself, and that the only thing even faintly resembling him was the pathetic “pseudo lich” who can be scragged with a mere three hits with the stupid golden mace. However, the illustration within the module for the pseudo lich and his chamber looked NOTHING like the cover illustration. So where I wondered, was this awesome depicted villain I was hoping to find and use against my friends?

The other day I was thus reflecting, and I noticed that Cordell in the 3.5 version update had upgraded the “pseudo-lich” into “full lich” status, albeit he kept the stupid golden mace. I’m going to take it a step further and insert my own lich, without the gold mace, to do justice to an illustration that captured my imagination over thirty years ago, and hopefully ‘entertain’ the player’s characters. We’ll see how that goes next session… ~KGM

Session 8: In today's 8th session of the Slumbering Tsar campaign, there were five players present. All characters present were 8th level each. The participants in today's session were: Robbin the Rogue #9, Ralph Da Fighter #6, Duke Red Shirt #12 (wizard PC), Gus the 4th (now a Bard character), and Bob the Cleric #9. *Please note that the characters names are nicknames that I gave to them, and not what the players actually call their characters. The characters left off back in the camp, looking to recruit new characters to replace their previously deceased comrades.

Upon their return to the Tomb of Horrors, the characters began where they left off. The characters entered the remaining secret crawlway from the second great hall (area 10). Gus the Bard spent more than half of his gold available to purchase a Lyre of Building, and used this to increase the size of the hallway, and eventually the characters entered the chapel area (area 14). It appeared to me (the GM) as though the player's hope was that the lyre of building was going to help the group to circumvent traps and other hazards. Read on and you'll see whether that was an effective venture on Gus' part...

The characters had discovered the 'slot' in the chapel wall, but did not initially understand what to do with it. As a result, they continued to fiddle about in the chapel. The group resumed their interest in the archway. The orange mist never cleared, so the player of Duke Red Shirt #12 handed his possessions (such as he had remaining) to his fellow player characters and stepped through. Duke made his saving throw against the alignment shift (that was the one I was really hoping he would miss), but failed his saving throw against the gender change. Duke was quite horrified at the anotomical changes, but kept it under wraps, and when he searched the ten foot area beyond the archway, and discovered nothing, he went back through the archway, and was changed back into his original gender...

The characters then began fiddling with the altar. Unfortunately for the group, three of the five characters present were standing in front of the altar when it was inspected. After Bob the cleric (who has no levels in Rogue, I might add...) attempted to search the altar, the altar blasted forth a lightning bolt and electrified Bob #9, Duke Red Shirt #12 and Gus the Bard for 60 HP damage each. Gus made his save, but Bob and Duke failed theirs and ate 60 HP electrical damage. Duke was killed immediately from the lightning bolt [CASUALTY #1], and Bob #9 was at Negative 4 HP. Bob then went on to successfully save versus massive trauma and did not die from the shock from the massive HP loss from the lightning bolt hit.

The other characters present then healed up Bob the cleric for about 2/3 of the damage he took and resumed searching the room. The characters eventually turned their attention to the slot in the wall. My patience only lasts so long, and I eventually started giving hints to the group simply to move the action forward and alleviate Player frustration and GM boredom. The characters at length agreed upon who's magic ring was going to be dropped into the slot. The secret door opened, and the group moved on... But not before the player of Bob the Cleric #9 was goaded by yours truly into another pass at the blue altar. Bob checked it out, Failed his saving throw and was then Blown to pieces when the altar exploded for his trouble [CASUALTY #2]:-D

Enter Duke Red Shirt #13 and Bob the Cleric #10.

The characters then orchestrated a long careful march down the long hallway towards area 16. They found every pit trap, and filled the pits using their Lyre of Building (including the pit trap with the secret door that they needed to find). The group eventually got to the door at 16, and heard voices from the other side of the door. Not finding any traps, they bravely battered down the door and proceeded into area 16. Robbin the Rogue and Gus the Bard amazingly made their only significant failed Perception checks in today's session, and neither identified the trapped hallway. The group reached thirty feet into the corridor and triggered the "Teeter-Totter-into-the-lava" trap. Reflex Saves were rolled. Only Gus made his saving throw...

I was feeling in a generous mood, so I accepted the player of Robbin the Rogue's lame explanation of his character using his ten foot pole (which he did have in hand at the time) to halt his rapid decension down the slide and into the lava. The other three characters (Ralph the Fighter #6 Duke Red Shirt #13, and Bob the Cleric #10 (a long term campaign veteran...) fell into the lava and were incinerated [CASUALTY #3, #4 and #5]. The group opted to halt today's action after this encounter to lick their wounds and prepare for next session. I had given them some previous clues to the "pseudo lich" encounter (as it was commonly known in the original Tomb of Horrors), and the group didn't elect to continue to try this encounter during today's session. This was where we finished for the day.

We'll see if anyone shows next time, and if they want to continue in the tomb or get back to the Slumbering Tsar wilderness encounters. ~KGM

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Session 7: In the Seventh session of the Slumbering Tsar campaign, there were five player characters present in today’s game. Characters present were: Robbin #7 (8th level Rogue/Assassin), Ralph Da Fighter #6 (8th level Fighter), Gus #3 (8th level Magus), Bob #9 (8th level cleric) and Duke Red Shirt #11 (8th level Wizard), and briefly, Thrud #1 (9th level Barbarian).

The characters are currently in a side trek in the Tomb of Horrors (ToH). The group picked up where we left off last session, with the group having camped out in Room #8 on the standard ToH map. The group spent more than an hour wading their way through the slew of secret doors and false doors in area 9, and eating a modest amount of damage from the traps that were discovered along the way. At length (and painfully long length at that), the group made it to the Second great hall (area 10). The group searched the northern end of the hall first, and ended up in the room with the gargoyle statue (area 11). The group were very suspicious of the statue of the four-armed gargoyle, having had multiple characters nearly get shredded by a similar gargoyle last session. The group searched the room (but not the statue) and eventually left the room (without the main treasure to be found).

The characters then began searching the rest of the hall (area 10). The characters fell victim to several spear traps, taking a decent amount of damage, and expanding numerous cure light wounds spells out of the groups’ wands to patch their sorry tails up. Before bothering to inspect the colored spheres in the hall, the group first went to the archway at the end of the chamber. The group had avoided the archway in the first great hall, and weren’t keen to mess with this one either, but the players didn’t know where to go, so it seemed like a good option to them at this point. The player of Robbin #8 had his character shove Duke Red Shirt through the archway, which was clouded. This resulted in Duke Red Shirt being teleported to area 3, and arriving buck nekkid, with all his equipment going to the demi-lich at area 33. Duke’s Imp familiar could telepathically communicate with Duke, and the Imp then informed the other characters present that Duke was still alive and was at area 3, the beginning of the tomb. The player of Gus the Magus then decided to toss the Imp through the archway, and then went in himself…

Gus, Duke and the Imp, all stood completely naked and without any equipment at area 3. The player of Gus then opted to run down the hallway as quickly as possible to the archway in the first great hall (area 5). Gus encouraged Duke Red Shirt to follow him quickly. Duke attempted to do so, but stepped on a pit trap that Gus had managed to evade on his way down to the end of the corridor. Duke Red Shirt blew his Reflex save and fell into the pit, got nailed by 3 spikes. Duke’s really got a thing for pit traps… Within 2 rounds Duke #11 died from the Black Lotus Extract poison, losing upwards of 20 points of Constitution in the process [CASUALTY #1].

Enter Duke Red Shirt #12.

Gus then left his fellow PC in the pit and ran back through the gauntlet of secret doors to the glowing archway in area 10, thinking that if he went through again, he might somehow get his equipment back… Naturally, Gus ended up back at area 3, as the glowing archway at area 10 doesn’t clear for travel no matter what sequence the colored stones are pressed…. Gus repeated the process several more times, eating more damage each time he returned through the secret door gauntlet.

Upon recognizing the futility of his situation, Gus and the other characters then began to search the second great hall hoping to find something… Anything… Duke Red Shirt #12 had by that time joined with the other characters. The group found a hidden passageway behind two of the other spheres, and elected to explore the Red sphere passageway before the black sphere. The red sphere took Gus and Robbin (who went first) into area 13, the chamber of three chests. Bob the Cleric, Duke Red Shirt and Ralph the Fighter all bravely waited outside room 13 in the passageway, waiting for Gus and Robbin to tell them all was clear. Robbin thought he was being clever in selecting the wooden chest first, and opened it. Out popped a Bone Golem. In the combat that ensued, Gus and Robbin fought the Bone Golem, with Duke, Bob the cleric and Ralph the Fighter bravely staying out in the hallway, too gutless to get involved… Their absence made the otherwise manageable encounter more difficult for their comrades. After landing one or two critical hits on the golem, Robbin was then hit by a hasted golem, critically hit and killed [CASUALTY #2]. Gus the Magus finished the golem almost immediately thereafter. The characters then utilized a magic item (graciously furnished them by yours truly) which Reincarnated Robbin… as a Goblin…

Enter Robbin #8, the Goblin.

The player of Robbin reported that his character was heavily built upon being an elf, and his current reincarnated status as a goblin made certain feats/abilities of the character basically unusable. The player of Robbin the Goblin then stated that he didn’t want to play his character in his present condition. I informed the player of Robbin that he was welcome to have another crack at reincarnate, but someone would have to 86 the character before that would occur. The player of Gus inquired as to how many experience points he would get if he dispatched Robbin # 8. After I informed the player of the proposed amount of XP to be received, Gus #3 wasted no time before attacking Robbin #8. Within two or three rounds, Gus had annihilated Robbin # 8 [CASUALTY #3]. The player of Robbin then was reluctant to have another try with his Rogue/Assassin on the Reincarnate Roulette wheel, and opted to bring in a Barbarian PC (9th level) that he had used in another campaign. Enter Thrud the Barbarian #1.

The player of Thrud #1, who was previously the player of Robbin #8, apparently took exception with the player of Gus, obliterating his late Goblin-version of Robbin #8. The player of Thrud #1 then decided to attack Gus #3. I offered 1,000 X.P. to the winner of the combat between the two. Eventually, Thrud #1 dispatched Gus #3, [CASUALTY #4].

Thrud #1 then decided to open the silver chest in the room and continue looting the place. Thrud #1 used an explosive on his possession to blow open the lock on the silver chest. He then went to recover the valuables in the chest, and was shot by 5 poison darts (all hit successfully), which was unfortunate for Thrud #1, because he failed 3 out of the 5 poison saving throws against the Black Lotus Extract poison, and Lost 5 points of Constitution. On the next round Thrud #1 lost 9 more points of Constitution, as Bob the Cleric #9 apparently did NOT have Neutralize Poison or Delay Poison on his spell list the day… Oops…

On the third round Thrud #1 lost eleven more points of Constitution and expired mightily [CASUALTY #5]. At that point, the players decided to retreat back to town and recruit replacement characters. I don’t know whether the players will choose to return to the tomb for more punishment or not. I will dutifully attempt to goad the players into more misguided heroic attempts in the tomb, and we’ll see what happens in two weeks from now. ~KGM

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wraithstrike wrote:

I think I've been running incorporeal creatures incorrectly for a long time.

Not if your players don't know you have...

I'm not a big fan of Disney either, though I wasn't aware of some of the reasons you listed above until reading them now. The sheer cost of visiting Disney parks is insane. I have a family member who works for Disney, so I paid nothing to get into the parks in Florida, and I still dropped somewhere between four and five grand for a 7 day vacation there.

And they don't sell those bottles that you pay 15 dollars for, and can fill at any time you want throughout other amusement parks. I was shelling out 20 bucks for water bottles and Gatorade every 2 hours on a 97 degree Farenheit day at the Magic Kingdom to avoid anyone passing out from heat stroke, dehydration or exhaustion...

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Orthos wrote:
"live every moment as if eternity could begin in the next".

Good words to live by.

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Session 6: In today’s 6th Session of the Slumber Tsar campaign, there were Five player characters present. Present in today’s session were Robbin #5 (Rogue/Assassin/Shadowdancer), Bob the Cleric #8 (a 7th level cleric), Duke Red Shirt #9 (a 7th level Wizard), Ralph #5 (a 7th level Fighter) and Gus #3 (a 7th level Magus or something along those lines). The characters all reached 8th level around mid-point of today's game. Please note that the nicknames for the characters are ones I gave them, and are not what the players call their characters. I don’t honestly even know what the characters actual names are…

The group had last sessions’ characters replaced (Gus) and reincarnated (as in Bob and Duke). I had rolled on the 1st edition PH Reincarnate table (which is much more creative than the current Pathfinder table for reincarnated characters), and Bob came up as a Lynx and Duke was a badger or something along those lines. I felt that these new forms would unduly hamper the characters in today’s game, and as they were likely in for a rough ride in today’s game as it was, so I elected to just make them human to reduce their difficulties.

We picked up where we left off last time, with the players having been informed about a ‘legendary’ amount of loot buried in some ancient tomb. The PCs were in the wilderness at the eastern edge of the map in the Ashen Wastes, not far from the Chaos Rift, near encounter A8. The PCs having heard of a large amount of loot buried in a tomb, and they were eager to try to cash in, as Slumbering Tsar is pretty minimal in the treasure department. The PCs eventually went off the map, and at length arrived at the supposed site of the tomb, a rather large hill that resembled a skull…

I will confess that I opted to omit a ‘small’ detail to the players that the location of the supposedly legendary buried swag happened to be a certain rather infamous tomb… a certain Tomb of Horrors that is… I usually try to run Tomb of Horrors for any new group that I GM who isn’t overly familiar with it. There is a lot more treasure in the Tomb, than the PCs are going to get slogging it out in wastes outside of Tsar, and the difficulty level isn’t much different. Given the characters only being 7th & 8th level each, I did offer the group another (less dangerous) quest for them to make some loot, but the players present wanted to stay where they were… Not that they entirely understood exactly WHERE they were, but…

The PCs investigated the hill. They quickly figured out that several depressions in the hill gave the hill the appearance of having two eye sockets, a nose, and several teeth. The PCs also found a concealed door hidden in one of the eye sockets, and upon opening it, found a staircase leading down into darkness…

The PCs at length followed a tunnel into the hill itself, and after a hundred yards, came to a small chamber with a large hole in the floor and an iron chain anchored in the ceiling that allowed the characters to climb down. They eventually did so. They entered a dark chamber, and found that upon their arrival, dozens of black candles slowly flickered on and began to illuminate the place. The group noted that there were FOUR tunnels (not the usual Three), heading north, south, east and west.

(Not knowing if any of the players who would be attending had had any past experience with the Tomb of Horrors), I added a ‘4th’ entrance tunnel, and switched up the illustrations, in an effort to confuse any player who had actually played or GM’d the Tomb of Horrors previously. I used several illustrations from the Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure Crypt of the Devil Lich and one or two others that I found on the internet and printed. As it turned out, none of the players present had even played in The Tomb of Horrors before, so it didn’t end up being necessary… It just added to the fun.

The players ended up first selecting the new tunnel that I had created for today’s game. Their characters went down a long corridor filled with statues. Upon seeing the statues, one of the players present was continuing to express concern about ‘that medusa’ that had previously petrified fifteen characters a few game sessions ago, (being nearby and responsible for the statues) but all the statues present were genuine… well, Except for one, that was a stone golem. The PCs won initiative, and amazingly managed to pound the stone golem (a CR 11) to dust within 2 rounds. Simply amazing for 7th level characters that don’t have much in the way of treasure to obliterate a CR 11 golem that ignores many attack forms. After that, I didn’t feel so bad about the harm that I expected would be coming the PCs way…

The PCs got to the end of the statue hallway and found a door. The characters then proceeded to boot the door in! I very much enjoy player characters who boot in doors in the Tomb of Horrors. This door was naturally trapped, as the actual area #1 in the Tomb, and the players (three out of five) were then crushed by a collapsing ceiling trap for 16d6 damage. Reflex saves were rolled, and I was informed that Robbin #5 had been smashed into lasagna from the crush damage [CASUALTY #1]. The two surviving PCs (Ralph the Fighter and Gus the Magus then rejoined Bob the Cleric and Duke the wizard who had been bravely hiding out in the main entry chamber to stay away from any additional stone golems that might show up.

Enter Robbin #6. The PCs then looked down another one of the halls. There was a large door, inlaid with carved skulls and other similar sorts of motifs (a new door with new illustration that I added). The PCs were surprised to find that the large door was unlocked and un-trapped. While that might have caused me to think twice in a place like the Tomb of Horrors, the PCs happily “went right in,” to see what was inside…

Beyond the door, was a hall about fifty feet long and twenty feet wide, that ended in an arched doorway on either side of the end of the corridor. The hallway was depicted by an illustration that I had selected from Dungeon Crawl Classic #45 adventure Malice of the Medusa. I showed the group the illustration of the hall. The players looked at the illustration, but apparently did not note the details of the illustration presented, and did not identify the clearly observable medusa outlined in the drawing. The group eventually went down the hallway, tried to open a door, and failed to find (much less disable) the magical trap which then Petrified Robbin #6 (he really lasted a long time…), Ralph #5 and Duke #9 [CASUALTY # 2, 3 and 4].

The players then welcomed in new characters Robbin #7, Ralph #6 and Duke #10. The group found nothing else useful in hallway they were in, and decided to return to the main entrance chamber. The PCs then chose a short hallway that contained the old illustration for the doors at Encounter area #1 in the original tomb. The PCs managed to de-activate the ceiling trap present this time, and avoiding getting crushed again. The group on a whim decided to search the wall at the end of the corridor (containing the false doors). This contained a secret door, and was in fact the actual entrance (my ‘revised entrance’) to the tomb of horrors proper. I showed the group Illustration #3, and they began the usual rigors of tackling the first hall in the tomb itself.

The players were quite interested in the ‘path’ that goes down the main hall, and the players stated some sort of belief that if they didn’t stay “on the path” that bad things might happen to them. (The players had by now come to recognize that this place was no ‘ordinary’ tomb. The players discovered the box ‘held’ by the two jackals’ fresco (area 4), but didn’t attempt to activate the mechanism inside. Several of the characters, most notably Gus the Magus began wandering down the hallway (area 3) towards the archway of glowing mist and the green devil’s face. Duke Red Shirt #10 managed to walk onto a pit trap and failed his Reflex Save in sterling fashion and fell into the pit. The damage wasn’t severe, but the Black Lotus extract poison on the spikes was another matter. Duke ate 3 spikes and failed 3 saving throws, taking 6 points of Constitution damage when he failed his Fortitude Saving throws. Duke took another 8 points of CON damage the next round when he failed his 3 saves again and died mightily [CASUALTY #5]. Then entered Duke Red Shirt #11…

Gus the Magus ferreted out that there was a door behind the ‘prison door fresco’ (to room 8). The group removed the plaster and opened the door. Eventually the group got into room 8, and had to tangle with the Large Four Armed Gargoyle. The Gargoyle (on his eventual first action) hit Gus the Magus on 6 out of 6 attacks (one critical) and did 129 HP of damage, and would have apparently killed Gus outright, but the player of Gus reported to me that his magic item, called a Aegis of Recovery, kept him at Zero HP and then healed him for about 10 or 12 HP of damage. The PCs started nailing the Gargoyle, doing a large amount of damage during that current round. I can only imagine how much damage these guys will be doing if their characters ever do get any decent amount of loot…

On round 2, the Gargoyle took a 5 foot step, and Power Attacked Bob #8. Unfortunately for Bob, the Gargoyle hit on the first 2 claw attacks 2d8+24 each (with power attack damage included), and then came the rend, doing another 2d8+34. (This is the scripted adventure text’s encounter, not my handiwork…) Bob #8 was crushed at full HP and killed in one round [CASUALTY #6]. I was hoping to do the same to Ralph #6 the Fighter, but the Player of Robbin #7 reminded me that his character and Ralph’s characters had taken feats that allowed them to use the same stealth check and that the Gargoyle (who’s check I then rolled) couldn’t find either one. Rather Lame. The gargoyle then lost the rest of his attacks that round and went after Duke Red Shirt, who was quaking in his boots outside in the hallway. The remaining characters then dispatched the noble gargoyle in sneaky and underhanded fashion (from stealth) and there was nothing I could do but grumble… That was where we left it for today. Bob #9 was about to make his first appearance when we finished. I don’t know if the players will choose to continue exploring the tomb or not, but they appeared to be having a decent time, particularly after they figured out what the place actually was, so we’ll see in two weeks.


Session 5: I always seem to get behind putting these posts up. We played a week early, so here goes. Present in the 5th session were five characters: “Robin the 5th” a 7th level Rogue/Assassin/Shadowdancer, “Ralph the 5th” a 7th level Fighter, “Bob the 7th” a 7th level cleric, “Duke Red Shirt the 8th” a 7th level wizard, and “Gus” the 2nd, a monk/acrobat hybrid character who was also 7th level.

The PCs finished up a home-brewed encounter I had presented during the last game session. The group pocketed a modest amount of loot in the process. Slumbering Tsar gives out very little in terms of swag, and the characters aren’t making enough loot to keep up with their level increases. I don’t allow PCs to pocket the magical gear of fallen PC comrades, (as this is arguably the number one reason that dnd campaigns get out of control in terms of over-powered player characters).
The characters then looked at nearby encounters on the Ashen Waste Map. For some reason they settled on area A8. I don’t know why the group selected this area, but I’m a sandbox GM, so who am I to discourage player choice…

The group inspected the ‘hole’ in the ground from a distance. Gus the monk/acrobat PC let curiosity get the better of him, and he went down in the hole to inspect. The scripted text states that anyone getting near the hole had to make a Dex check, which he miraculously failed. The rest was history. ‘Gus’ managed to avoid about half of the damage from the 60 foot fall, but was then bit by some gawd-awful monstrosity that Greg Vaughn and company came up with called a Ashborne Arachnae Mother. At CR 12, “Ashborne” boasted a +25 to hit on its bite and talon attacks, and a DC 26 Fortitude save on its poison for 2d8 STRENGH, yes, I’ll repeat, 2d8 STR DAMAGE FULL STOP on its venom. Gus failed his save and dropped to a 5 STR immediately. Gus was in all sorts of trouble, and the other characters up above were having a debate about what to do…

The player of Duke Red Shirt the wizard, opted to slide down a rope that Robin the Rogue/Assassin PC had dropped down, and tied to one of their camels, hoping to pull Gus out of the hole. Naturally Duke Red Shirt rolled a ‘Nat 1’ on his climb check, and lost his hold on the rope and plummeted to the bottom of the hole, and ate 6d6 fall damage for his trouble. Bob the Cleric (who was reincarnated as a Kobold) was up top figuring how he could get down to heal his fellow characters, and Robin the Rogue made it easy for him, literally giving him a shove, causing Bob the cleric to plummet into the pit (yes, Robin is an evil aligned rogue/assassin PC bastard, so he can do that…). Robin stated his intention to try to hit the spider WITH Bob the cleric, but Robin’s d20 Roll was also a ‘Nat 1’ and I ruled that he unfortunately hit Duke Red Shirt instead, and both of them took damage…

"Ashborne" then pummeled Duke Red Shirt into unconsciousness with its talons, and bit Bob the cleric and did something to the tune of about 12 or 14 points of Strength damage… Bob did manage to cast lesser restoration on Gus, who was at Negative 1 Strength, by that point. Gus bravely and feebly stood up, and (the player recognizing that he was highly likely to blow his next saving throw against the venom, and would be unable to hold onto the rope if he were pulled out by the camel) opted to slug it out with the spider. I gave the player of Gus full marks for bravery. The next round the spider ended Bob the Cleric and Duke Red Shirt [CASUALTY #1 and #2]. Up above, Robin was trying to convince any PCs who could/would to grab the rope so he could have the camel pull them up. The spider then responded to Robin’s invitation by pulling on the rope. Robin made his sense motive check, (as the spider has Zero ranks in bluff) and instead Robin the Rotten Bastard CUT THE ROPE, leaving his fellow comrades to their fates, and he bravely beat a hasty retreat along with Ralph the Fighter, who’s successfully scratched his butt in safety throughout the entire encounter… Gus bought the farm thereafter… [CASUALTY #3]. The group retreated back to ‘the Camp,’ and went about recruiting new player characters when we finished for the day.
We’ll see who shows up next time… ~KGM

Session 4: In the 4th session of the 2019 Slumbering Tsar campaign, present in the 4th session were six characters: "Robin the 5th" a 7th level Rogue/Assassin/Shadowdancer, "Ralph the 5th" a 7th level Fighter, “Bob the 6th” a 7th level cleric, a 7th level Inquisitor (new player), a 7th level Arcanist (new player), and "Gus," some sort of monk/acrobat hybrid character (also new player) who was also 7th level. We spent some time in the session allowing the "new players" to have their characters 'get acquainted’ with the other party members before the game moved forward…

The player characters eventually decided to travel back into the wastelands, and for some inexplicable reason decided to head for the crossroads again. I don’t know what it is with that area that seems to attract one or two players specifically about that place. On their way to the crossroads, the PCs encountered another Bone Storm, which caused multiple characters a lot of grief, but the group figured out how to keep their characters from perishing in the storm, so they eventually got going again.

The group thereafter encountered a wandering Vrock demon. You’ve got to love a place that has demons listed as wandering monsters… The Vrock gated in a second Vrock successfully. The demons engaged the PCs from either end. The first Vrock had engaged in combat with the characters for about two rounds before Vrock #2 started engaging the Monk/Acrobat character, who was doing the most amount of damage to Vrock #1. The first Vrock managed to drop Bob the Cleric to Negative 1 hp, before he was finally dispatched by the player characters. About that time, Vrock #2 got going. I managed to hit an already wounded Gus the Monk/Acrobat on 4 out of 5 hits, and dispatched him [CASUALTY #1]. The remaining player characters didn’t accomplish much as no one was within melee range of Vrock #2. The Vrock subsequently chased after the PCs, using its stunning screech and normal movement to prevent the characters from fleeing. Vrock #2 moved and finished off Bob the Cleric, who was at Negative 3 HP at that time [CASUALTY #2]. The PC fighter 'Ralph' charged Vrock #2 on the next round and nailed him for about 30 or 35 HP, but the Vrock was not even down half his HP at that point. On Vrock #2’s next action, he Power Attacked Ralph the Fighter (who had a less-than stellar AC of 19) and hit on 3 out of 5 attacks, and greased the Fighter [CASUALTY #3]. At that point, I judged that the potential for a TPK was present. Two of the new players in the group were playing intelligently and trying to stay alive, and I recognized that I was going to have to be pretty deliberate in my efforts to bring the hostilities to them. Under the circumstances, I was of the opinion that the new players in the group today probably wouldn’t be inspired by my having the opposition ruthlessly hunt them down, so I tried for a non-violent resolution to the encounter. The Vrock then offered the remaining characters a ‘deal’ in exchange for their lives. The PCs ultimately refused, so combat continued... By that time the remaining characters were headed in differing directions, so I opted to allow the Monk/Acrobat PC to “cheat death,” knowing that his continued presence would throw the encounter in favor of the PCs. The monk/acrobat then proceeded to hit the Vrock with several parting shots before said Vrock teleported away to save himself. So much for my rules interpreter mantra… We ended the game shortly thereafter for the day. ~KGM

Session 3: Present in the 3rd session were four characters: a 7th level Rogue/Assassin/Shadowdancer, a 7th level Fighter, “Bob the 6th” a 7th level cleric, and “Duke Red Shirt the 7th” a 7th level wizard (the nicknames are ones I gave the characters and not what the players call their characters). I had meant to write this session up previously and never got around to it. There wasn’t much in the way of action to report in the third session, so I won’t belabor anyone with boring details. During the 3rd session, the PCs traveled back to the Camp from the crossroads. The characters encountered two Willowisps, and during that otherwise nondescript encounter, the 2nd willowisp critically hit and killed Duke the 7th (PC wizard) [CASUALTY #1]. Nothing else of consequence happened in session #3. The PCs arrived back at town and located a replacement wizard character (Duke Red Shirt #8). ~KGM

So have you settled the debate of who Y is, and who his superior is?


Session 2: The 2nd session of the 2019 Slumbering Tsar campaign was a rather unique game session. Present in the 2nd session were four characters: a 7th level Rogue/Assassin/Shadowdancer, a 7th level Fighter, “Bob” a 7th level cleric, and Duke Nukem a 7th level wizard (the nicknames are ones I gave the characters and not what the players call their characters).

… In session 1, the player characters had beaten the Hill Giant barbarian (first encounter in ‘The Town’) into unconsciousness. Presently, the players are demonstrating the misguided notion that they can somehow keep this chaotic evil hill giant barbarian as some sort of a pet, hireling or henchman. I elected to humor them by allowing said giant to tag along at present. But when the party ends up in real bad shape, I will have the hill giant ‘get medieval’ and go ‘Deliverance’ mode on the characters for their trouble. Until then, the giant is tagging along, and sitting out of most fights when he refuses to get involved, causing the players’ misery in the process…

The players were also interested in what happened to the Giant’s ogre friends and the caravan that the hill giant & his ogre buddies were guarding, which supposedly vanished on the road northward from the Camp. One of the players was particularly determined to go and find out what happened to the Hill Giant’s ogre companions and the caravan they were guarding. I don’t know why the player wanted to go looking for the caravan, as it was rather obvious by the giant’s report that the caravan was likely destroyed, but he insisted. To find the caravan, the PCs had to travel north of the “crossroads,” (encounter R1 where you turn West to go to Tsar) and near/around the Chaos Rift in the north eastern quadrant of the map. That is a rather dangerous place for 7th level characters to be at, but the player insisted, and he is familiar with the adventure…

On the road northward, the characters fought 2 Babau demons who were wandering monsters. The encounter proved mildly entertaining, with the one of the demons teleporting directly behind the PCs about the time that the other was due to go after the characters from the front. The combat that ensued was largely non-noteworthy, and the players greased both demons without significant difficulty. The PC Rogue spectacularly succeeded in his diplomacy check to get the hill giant to participate in this encounter, and that made the characters job much easier.

…following the combat with the Babau demons, the characters got to a point on the road northward [Encounter area #R2 in the SW corner of the Chaos Rift Map for those who have the adventure] where the road ended in a deep chasm. The characters saw that road continued northward on the other side of the chasm/canyon, which they could not get across. The group lacked the ability to get every member across the gorge by magic, so they had to do it the hard way. The group decided to skirt around the lip/edge of the canyon towards the west and walk all the way around it until they came from the west (going eastward) back to the north road that was directly across from them now. Sounded crazy, but players do these sorts of things…

…I knew that going near the canyon would be hazardous for the player characters. I gently attempted to inform the players of that detail. They either ignored my suggestion or thought they’d be alright. I don’t offer advice more than once. At that point, it was on them…

…As the characters were walking along near the edge of the canyon in order to get back to the road that was going northward, the characters were easily seen by many of the canyon’s inhabitants. I determined that the CR 11 Advanced Half-Blue Dragon Basilisk (page 73) was the one who saw the characters moving along the rim of the canyon, and that he was going to go after the player characters. The problem was, that although a CR 11 encounter technically may be a winnable fight for four 7th level player characters, I didn’t realistically think that THESE players’ characters had any chance to survive against the Advanced Half-Blue Dragon Basilisk. I have no problem greasing characters, I also don’t relish throwing encounters at the players that appear totally unwinnable for them. That said, the group had chosen to go to this area against my recommendation to the contrary. So it is what it is, and it sucks to be them, but I still cut the players a break. Sort of… I downgraded the CR 11 Advanced Half-Blue Dragon Basilisk in favor of a similar type of opponent, but a more modest CR 9 medusa. The Advanced Half-Blue Dragon Basilisk has 14 HD, 175 hp, a breath weapon and a horrendous gaze attack, and I didn’t believe that the PCs had any chance against him. A medusa is normally ONLY a CR 7 opponent. I added the Advanced simple template [+1CR] and two levels in Anti-Paladin [which as Non-Key class levels are only ½ CR each level]. This reduced the combat stats, HP and HD of the opponent by close to 1/3. The only issue was that the Save DC on the gaze attack was about the same (DC 24/25) as the Advanced Half-Blue Dragon Basilisk.
In the end, it didn’t matter anyway… The PCs approached the Medusa who was wearing a gold mask to conceal her monstrous nature. The medusa played coy and duped the characters into coming near her. With little to no hesitation, the characters soon were all within her 30’ range!!!, … and you can guess the rest…

… I had the players present roll saving throws against the Petrifying Gaze Attack. All four characters present FAILED. I stated to the players present, that we should try the encounter again, and that they should roll for their saving throws again. All four characters present rolled and FAILED AGAIN. I then stated to the players that they should try the saving throws yet again for their ‘next’ characters. All four characters present FAILED A THIRD TIME. This is sounding like the ‘Swamp Castle’ bit in Monty Python’s Holy Grail… I yet again stated to the players that they should try the saving throws A FOURTH TIME for their characters. Bob the cleric made his saving throw, and the other three STILL FAILED. So there you have it: FIFTEEN (15) PETRIFIED CHARACTERS, and basically 3 and 3/4 Total Party Wipeouts... And naturally, the hill giant refused to participate during any of these encounters…

I then told the players that I was going to re-do the encounter (for the FIFTH time) and simply not have the medusa use her gaze attack. Otherwise I’d have been petrifying characters all afternoon… The players then fought the medusa and eventually got the better of the her, as medusa’s strength-sapping poisoned arrows simply didn’t whittle the group down fast enough. That said, I was doing the encounter without using the medusa’s petrifying gaze, which the group literally just couldn’t deal with. When she was down to about 25% hit points remaining, I had the medusa make a use magic device check (she had max skill ranks in UMD) on a Wand of Dimension Door and fled the encounter. One player complained about it, but I pointed out that it was either that, or she uses the Petrifying Gaze again and stones the entire party once more... The Rogue/Assassin/Shadow Dancer PC has Fortitude Save bonus of +2. That’s right, only PLUS TWO. He needed a Natural 20 on the d20 in order to survive the medusa’s gaze attack. I don’t’ know how in the hell any player creates a character with only a +2 bonus on Fort saves for Slumbering Tsar, but there you have it. The wizard PC at +4 Fort also needed a Natural 20 to successfully save. The Fighter and the Cleric had the best Fortitude Saves, and their bonuses were +6 and +8 respectively. To make a DC 24 Fortitude, they needed a Nat’ 18 and 16 respectively. Good times.

We finished shortly thereafter for the day. Session 3 write up to be posted, … soon.

And incidentally, the medusa is having a yard sale, with high quality stonework and statues available for purchase. Anybody interested?

Session 1: In the 1st session of the 2019 Slumbering Tsar campaign, there were Four (4) player character fatalities. The four characters present for session 1 were a Rogue/Assassin/Shadowdancer, a Fighter, a Wizard and a Cleric. The characters were 6th or 7th level each, and were created using the established rulebooks (I don’t allow 3rd party stuff and I don’t run Monty Haul games). The players had the characters (who I’ll assign pet names to as we go) enter “the Town,” and do what characters usually do. At some point, I decided to move things forward. Enter the Hill Giant Barbarian, who is a CR 10 opponent and a tall order for the group. The Hill Giant is ‘insane’ at the time of the encounter, so he was about as subtle as a fat kid in an ice cream parlor. In Round 1, the Rogue hid and moved, the Fighter, the Wizard and “Bob” the Cleric had their characters approach the town’s one tavern, the Wizard casted Black Tentacles on the giant (which accomplished jack squat) and attempted to prepare a rope to “tie the giant up!” Sounded suicidal to me. Onwards. In Round 2: The wizard cast Lightning Bolt and did 22 hp to the giant, and that got his attention. Bob the cleric cast Soundburst (level 2) and stunned the giant for 1 round. The Rogue and the Fighter prepared to try and tie a large insane giant up. In Round 3, the Wizard Lightning Bolt’d the giant again for another 12 HP damage though the giant made his saving throw; the fighter and rogue tried to tie up the giant’s legs and were spectacularly unsuccessful, and Bob the cleric hit the giant with a Searing Light. The Giant then got to do his first meaningful action, and power attacked/vital strike’d and smacked the hell out of Bob the Cleric for 46 HP damage, and the player of Bob was beginning to look concerned at losing 75% of his total HP in one shot. In Round 4: the characters tried to rally, and were having doubts as to whether their plan to tie the giant up was a worthwhile endeavor. The one sensible thing that the player characters were doing was keeping moving, so that the giant only got one attack per round on them instead of two. However in Round 4, the giant’s one attack proved sufficient to smash Bob the Cleric for another 36 Hp damage and killed him outright [CASUALTY #1]. In Round 5, the rogue PC somehow managed to Trip the giant (I’m getting soft in middle age), and the fighter used Power Attack and Vital strike to tag the giant for 32 HP damage while the wizard PC hit the giant with a Shocking Grasp spell (he was about out of useful spells at that point) for 24 hp damage. That attack by the wizard however proved less than ideal, as that left him right next to the Giant. The Giant then power attacked the wizard, and crushed him for 41 and 37 HP damage respectively, and killed the wizard PC in one devastating round [CASUALTY #2]. In Round 6, the rogue PC then hit the giant with a sneak attack for another 24 HP and put him at negative 1 HP and ended the fight. They lucked out.

Later in the first game session, the players had their characters stay the night in the hotel operated by the deranged gnomes. The players had their characters hit the sack for the night, and I had the gnomes wait until the characters appeared asleep. Eventually, my attempts to do away with the PCs in their sleep didn’t work, and the characters all ended up in the lobby, but they were still technically Unaware of the designs of the malevolent gnomes towards their characters… In Round 1 of actual combat, Wizard #2 (who had been previously studied by one of the gnomes for multiple rounds) was successfully assassinated by the gnome assassin [CASUALTY #3]. The characters then began targeting the two gnome assassins while the 3rd gnome (spellcaster) was causing them problems. In Round 3, Bob the Cleric the 2nd was assassinated by the other gnome assassin [CASUALTY #4]. By then, the gnome who dropped the wizard PC was unconscious and the encounter literally looked like a stalemate. The gnome wizard literally ran out of useful spells by the 5th or 6th round of combat. Everyone was hitting one another for minimal damage and the encounter almost seemed like a comedy of errors. Eventually, I concluded that there was no statistical possibility for the gnomes to win against the PCs because the gnomes do 1d4 damage on a dagger hit, and that paltry amount of damage just wasn’t going to give them any chance of winning the encounter, so I eventually capitulated and gave the encounter to the players. Afterwards, the players worked on taking over control of the hotel and we ended the game for the day. Session 2 coming soon… KGM

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I’m back in the saddle after a lengthy lay off. I'm GM'ing Slumbering Tsar. We're playing twice per month. I hadn't expected to GM a game for the foreseeable future, but one of the guys that I played with during 2017/18, requested that I run Slumbering Tsar. Tsar admittedly wasn't my first choice of campaigns to run, but the player in question specifically requested it, so Tsar it is. I’ve played in Rappan Athuk, and I own Richard Pett's the Blight, and I recognized that a similar sort of Frog Gawd product was probably going to be well written/produced and fairly brutal on the characters (like Rappan Athuk), which is a good thing. I may offer the players a side trip to Richard Pett's the Blight at some point in the campaign as well. I have four players/victims involved, and several other possible players soon to join. The campaign has already started, and I am working on the posts for the first three game sessions. I look forward to corresponding with some of you fellow Paizoans that I've chatted with from previous campaigns in years past. Regards, KGM

Mr. Jacobs,
I've had a hankering to draw up an expansion to the 1st edition adventure/module C1 Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan. If you note the large sized green giant-looking guy on the cover of that module. If one were to design a "city of the gods" with a fair number of those large-sized green-skinned fellows, what type of critters would you think they'd be classified as? "Mayan" Giants, outsiders, What?
Regards, KGM

My regards to PH.
From the one session that we have had thus far, it was a very good game. The props from the 7E version of the adventure are nice. The storyline thus far is good. The game mechanics seem excellent. I've played in an earlier version of CoC, and this is my first jaunt with 7E, but it's as enjoyable as the previous edition. I'm still hopeful that Turin will post a journal. If he doesn't, I may do something. I am not much for a player's journal, but who knows... It would seem almost uncouth to fail to chronicle an infamous adventure such as this one... TURIN!!!!


We just started CoC Masks of Nyarlothep. I don't know if Turin is up for a campaign journal. I may post some stuff on it, though I fear I won't do it justice. We'll see.

Perhaps a new chapter in CoC is coming for this group. Time will tell:)

Any of the old crew playing in this Turin?

Excellent stuff Turin, and wonderfully detailed in all of the above posts. I have always enjoyed your expansions on the traditional trimmings in the respective rules editions and house rules that you have smartly implemented. They give both additional flavor and detail to the game. I can fondly recall one game session many years ago with Turin the Mad as the GM, where his wonderful Critical Hit table, that he is fond of using, resulted in all kinds of problems for the player characters during what has since become known as the “battle of the lizard kings.” I had one character getting impaled in the torso with a trident (using those wonderful critical hit tables) who was then hampered for the duration of the 8 hour combat. Additionally in the same encounter, the Rogue PC was literally knocked unconscious via a critical trident hit to the head, and was found hours later after the fight was over (he was invisible at the time of the hit) buried under the bodies of multiple dead lizard kings. Good times.

Um PH, 0 PC demises? A little more cruelty from you might be in order... :)

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Good to see you on the boards Heath.

Hot damn. Thanks.

Dear Mr. Pett,

I've clearly missed the Kickstarter. I tremendously enjoy all of your work, and I would dearly like to purchase the Blight. I have seen what appear to be Blight-related-projects over on Frog Gawd games website. Naturally, hard copies of those products are totally sold out...

I can find no information anywhere I've looked on a potential release date for a Blight hardcover of the entirety of the Blight (ala Slumbering Tsar or Rappan Athuk). I'm very eager to purchase it, regardless the price or the page count.

Would you care to speculate as to a possible release date on the Blight in its entirety, in an awe-inspiring hardcover?

Fond regards, KGM

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This campaign hasn't gotten off the ground. One of my new players was GM'ing Rappan Athuk prior to joining, and offered to continue gm'ing it. I've wanted to have a crack at that dungeon, so I agreed to play for a while. We'll see how it goes.

We played the 1st session of Rappan Athuk a couple of weeks ago. I ended up playing multiple characters. I had a 7th level elf wizard "blondie" who got greased in an absolutely evil 110 ft deep spiked pit, when he was at Full HP, while his duergar cohort "Tuco" survived the fall. Pretty brutal.

Any chance yellow, orange & purple dragons ever make it into a bestiary?

Orville Redenbacher wrote:
What ive gathered so far is that Players and GMs should communicate about what they want out of their games and meet in the middle. Unless of course the player shows up with a drow noble, in which case, you promptly tell them to GTFO.

I just grease said character in brutal fashion. Said player then leaves on his own.

I have no problem with the term special snowflake. I can't remember having a snowflake character in one of my groups for a long time. Special snowflake characters tend to get negative attention from me (the GM), and as I don't pull punches, when said snowflake character buys the farm, I strongly encourage the player to apply their creative juices in a more "conventional" direction when creating replacement characters. Usually, the player takes the hint.
Often the munchkin powergamers looking for an edge, are the biggest offenders.

I'm working on it.

I am expecting to start Strange Aeons in January 2017 with my existing group. We play only monthly, so my journal may quickly fall behind those of other posters who are running the same campaign. My regrets. Currently my players' characters are all 5th level, and are at present grabbing their ankles in the old Judges Guild adventure Tegel Manor (adapted for Pathfinder rules system). The group was expecting to move on to play in Ravenloft's Hour of the Knife, and then onto Return to the Tomb of Horrors. I have not yet informed my players of my hopes of dropping them back to 1st level to begin Strange Aeons, and I expect some resistance from one or more players. I don't know exactly how it will resolve, though I don't want to start them in Chapter 2 of the AP. If we reach an impasse on starting the characters back at character level 1, I will probably have the group start chapter 1 at a higher level and just up the difficulty.

This is the first adventure path I have run since Age of Worms in 2006-07. I have wanted to run another AP for a long time, but I always find things about each AP that I don't like enought to put me off of GM'ing it. Second Darkness, Serpent's Skull and Mummy's Mask each almost made the cut, but I always came up with enough reasons I didn't like the path to where I didn't follow through and run it. I was about to go with a Pathfinder version of 1st Editions's Against the Giants to Vault of the Drow, but the work load of coming up with stat blocks for all of the drow in D1 & D3 put me off of that at least for the time being. But with an AP based on Call of Cthulhu, I have no reasons not to run this gem, and been waiting for a long time in hopes of a Lovecraft-based AP. One of the players has stated that he wants to play a character all the way to level 20, and as Strange Aeons ends at 16th, I'll run a "Sequel" to Age of Worms from 17th-20th if the group hasn't fired me as DM before then...

I don't know what to tell you to expect regarding a character casualty count. In years past, Turin the Mad has advised me to get in touch with my more 'benevolent' GM side, at least to outward appearances. In this AP though, I don't expect a pleasant run for the characters, as the Call of Cthulhu theme of the AP suggests character death and insanity throughout. Either way, this is Pathfinder meets Call of Cthulhu folks, so I will "benevolently" inform my players to bring reams of paper for new character sheets, because they're gonna need 'em. I look forward to corrosponding with many of you I've had the pleasure of chatting with in years past on these threads. Regards, KGM

Good to know. I'll talk to you about this topic in the weeks to come. Please tell me you're planning to treat your current group to this AP, and doing a CJ on it...


For the curious, the GM of my "Horror on the Orient express" campaign, posted his write up on the campaign journals on these (paizo) message boards. Have a look and a laugh, and read what an actual CoC game is like. The GM (Turin the Mad) took no prisoners during the entire campaign, and we died in droves. It was a blast.

Bobmuffin52 wrote:
My consern is that the group has no real way to heal up when they get wounded (the paladin's archetype only lets him heal himself). I know I could just add more cure potions around, but I feel like that takes away from the overall dread of the AP, especially the first book. I was thinking that the wounds and vigor system might help, but I'm not sure. Dose anyone have any advice?

Advice, yeah, wipe the characters out. The players will quickly learn to select a character class that can glue their tails back together again, rather than choosing the useless oddball character class that doesn't lend itself to character survival. Strange Aeons is supposed to be Pathfinder meets Call of Cthulhu. This should mean that characters are getting greased or going insane on a regular basis. If you're already planning how to bail your players out for poor class selection, then you can expect more of the same, and your not grasping the spirit of the actual CoC game, which is that characters don't survive very long, and often go insane at inopportune moments. -KGM

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I may be GM'ing this campaign quite soon, and if I am, I'm probably going to use the actual rules for sanity from the actual Call of Cthulhu game system itself. If that equates to my players characters going insane in spectacular fashion, then all the better. This is supposed to be Pathfinder meets Call of Cthulhu. This campaign shouldn't be for the weak of heart.

Axial wrote:
That does sound like something a "Killer GM" would say. :)

I imagine it does.

I have played in real call of cthulhu games. I probably averaged at least 1 character demise as a player, every 2 game sessions. In some sessions I actually died more than once in the same day. It is a great game, and seeing how long your character can stay alive and sane becomes the goal. During the finale of "Horror on the Orient express", I had 10 (that's right, TEN) character demises that day alone. The CoC game allows you to improve your character's skills, but you remain at low HP, and you're always a "Keepers 01 roll" away from an unpleasant (but often humorous) character squish. The Pathfinder system doesn't remotely translate to the CoC rules system, which admittedly makes it a lot easier for Pathfinder characters to survive in Strange Aeons. A GM who wants to capture the spirit of the actual CoC game, during Strange Aeons for the Pathfinder system, will need to play heavy handed, and ideally inform the players what they're getting into from the get-go.

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This AP is based on the Call of cthulhu game, in which it's understood that your character is going to die or go insane (or both). It's a question of When, not if.
In my humble opinion, the Strange Aeons campaign ought to reflect that spirit of the CoC game, rather than a watered down PF game, masquerading as a CoC game. I say wipe the party out, and let the chips fall where they may.

A tremendous talent. He'll be missed.

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Fair enough.

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I didn't realize that some posters were being banned from posting. I don't follow the messageboards closely enough to note the absence of some of the more "confrontational" posters. I have noticed the absence of a certain "Mr. Betts" over the last few months, which struck me as odd, given the political happenings in the USA. Has he run afoul with the powers that be, or just found other things to occupy his time?

Freehold DM wrote:
I work in psychology and am not state licensed. I have gamed with people who have had diagnoses running from depression to schizophrenia, and gaming has helped all but one of them deal with their issues in some way.

Nice to see someone else from the MH field on the message boards. Regards.

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I work in psychology and am state licensed. Over the years I have observed (to be clear, NOT officially diagnosed) many players I've played with who demonstrate various mental health symptoms which may or may not meet clinical criteria for a MH diagnosis. As a practicing clinician, I've had a few clients over the years, who at some point stated that they were into RPGs.

It is my observation that quite a few gamers have had varying degrees of social deficits or other personality quarks that probably don't reach the level of a clinical mental health diagnosis.

As far as players with bonna fide mental health issues, I have GM'd a number of players who have previously been in treatment for clinical depression (Dysthymic disorder, major depression) and bipolar disorder (they have stated to me).

I think that the most common MH condition that gamers who I've known have had, is attention deficit disorder (ADHD). A large number of players I've known previously have told me that they have ADHD. I don't know if I'd go so far as to venture that 'gamers' are 'more likely' to have mental health issues than non-gamers, but my personal opinion is that this may be the case.

And if you have mental health issues, stay in treatment as needed and take your medications as prescribed. And live healthy and happy :)

It would be awesome to play with each of you. ☺ Failing that, I will try to do better at posting for my current, albeit only monthly, campaign. My players are currently screaming in Tegel Manor. Regards to you both. Al

Turin the mad was hoping to continue our Cthulhu campaign using that adventure, but for reasons I don't recall, we ended up going to the 1-session Carrion Crown, where we had 2 TPKs in the first session. Might as well have been a Call of Cthulhu game, given the casualty count.
I'd gladly have you in the group, if you live in the DC metro area. I hope your game pans out nicely. -KGM.

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I would as ever enjoy playing with Turin the mad, who I've gamed with since 1982, and Pheonixhawk, who I've gamed with since 2000.

Add to that:
Sir Charles Evans (25)
Capnvan, a like-minded gent
Capn Jose Munkamunk, former player
Hexen Ineptus (though he'd likely refuse)
Yoda was right, former player
Psionichampster, former player

And awesome fellow posters on my Age of Worms, Return to the Tomb of Horrors, Campaign Classics and other campaign journals: You guys rule!
Dennis Harry
PH Dungeon
Olaf the Stout
Cato Novus
Jebadiah U
Silent man
Steven Tindall
& Richard Pett

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