Tag Archives: D & D

Recurring Villains

Magic Carpet Ride 5

Now, this is a Saturday D & D post, but for the record, recurring villains are a lot more than just a part of a story-telling game.  Toxic people who have it in for you occur in real life almost as often  as they do in fantasy story-telling with villains who are often orcs.

But unlike insurance adjusters, city pool inspectors, and bank representatives, the villains in a D & D game are severely challenged to survive a single adventure.  Yes, the player characters are constantly on the lookout to slay the dungeon master’s recurring villains so they can’t recur without being raised from the dead.  No matter how much you hate that unfair insurance guy, you are not allowed to slay him with a sword.

Mallora

Mallora is not a sexy female villain… more like vile.

Mallora was a lucky witch woman.  She was one of three agents of Karnak, the Vampire Kingdom, who were trying to thwart the player characters as they sought lost technology in the wastelands of Cyre.  She was a second level sorceress at the time, capable of only a couple of basic-level necromantic spells.  She was a part of the evil organization known as the Emerald Claw, a sort of religious cult built around worshiping the undead, and had an evil dwarf fighter and an evil archer to help her trap and kill the heroes, along with about six animated skeletons who, at second level, are one-chop minions that go down in the first round of battle usually.

The green haired witch successfully trapped the heroes in the mists of Cyre and the dwarf and the archer were taking their toll when Gandy rolled a twenty and not only nailed the archer in the eye with a crossbow bolt, but made the archer’s shot go awry and hit the dwarf in the back of his bald head, shortly after Fate had knocked his helmet off.  So Mallora cast another concealing fog spell and ran like a little green rat directly away.  She survived to haunt them another day.

LucanThis she did as a member of Brother Garrow’s Emerald Claw crew in the next adventure where the heroes had to track down a friendly agent of Breland who had been turned into a vampire.  She was eighth level at that point, just like the adventurers themselves, and a much more dangerous adversary.  She didn’t prevent the characters from capturing the rogue vampire, and she did some damage, but managed to slink off unharmed once again.

 

She would enter the player characters’ lives one more time in the jungles of Xendrick as the mini-campaign was reaching its climax.  She and Brother Garrow pursued the heroes through the jungle to the giant ruins where the monster construct Xulo would finally be brought to powerful and evil life in a necromantic ritual.  Brother Garrow definitely met his end in a spectacular fashion, being sucked into another dimension through a keyhole trap set by giant mages a millennia before.  It was gruesome.

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Garrow before his transformation into a toothpaste-like substance

Mallora was aboard the Emerald Claw’s flying skiff as it chased the airship the heroes were themselves aboard.  A well-placed fireball by Druealia the Wizardess took the skiff down to crash into the jungle below with a fiery explosion that should’ve killed all aboard, including Mallora.  But is she actually dead this time?  They didn’t see her die.  So only the dungeon master knows for sure.   After all, what good is a recurring villain if they don’t recur?

 

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Comedy Relief in D & D

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Dungeon Masters all tend to run their own style of game.  Some like complex puzzle-solving dungeons with complex traps and mysteries involving hidden rooms and old secrets.  I admit to having done that.  Some like hack-and-slash adventures where the slaying of hordes of mindless monsters can last for hours.  I admit to having done less of that.  And some, like me, are all about the people… even if the people happen to be monsters.  Monsters can be people too, right?  Just ask Herman Munster.

And my favorite kind of character is the random buffoon or fool who is essential to the plot.

Eli Tragedy

Eli Tragedy is such a fool.  He began as a computer character whom I used as me in a long ago 80’s computer D & D game called The Bard’s Tale.  It was mostly about collecting doodads and dimbledy-dumb in dungeons, and finding the right keyholes, eyeless idols, or shop keeper to use them with.  But later incarnations were also me, but as a very wise but outwardly idiotic wizard who always knew the answers to the sphinx’s riddles, but would never tell until it was funny to do so.  He also had a number of apprentices.  Bob was rather dim.  But he could do light spells pretty good… so Eli sent him down dark tunnels to see what might be down there that would want to eat him.  Usually over the objections of the player-characters who really wanted to know what was down there, but had grown fond of Bob and his blunderings.    And even burly fighters with a lust for treasure can actually have a heart.

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Mickey the wererat, was another apprentice who caused more than his fair share of chaos.  (A wererat, as I’m sure you know, is a lycanthrope that is human by day, but turns into a rat-man by night.)  Mickey had a penchant for stealing the wizard’s magic hat and using it to do horrendously stupid things that created really big messes for the player characters to clean up.  How do you stop an army of sentient gummibears bent on painting your castle with pink frosting?  It had to be dealt with.  (And why did Eli keep that old hat around, anyway?  He never used it for anything beyond letting Mickey steal it.)

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And, of course, there was the incident with the mermaid whom the players rescued from the Black Reef.  She was a bard with a harp and quite capable of making the magical music that helps dungeon divers  do their dirty-work deep in the dungeon dwellings of dangerous denizens.

They rescued her, and thanks to a fins to feet spell, were able to take her back to Sharn, the City of Towers, to be the bard for their adventuring group.  Unfortunately the fins to feet magic does not include a summon pants spell in it.  And how do you convince a mermaid to wear an article of clothing that no other mermaid ever needs to wear?

Walking around town with no pants, however, proved to be a boon in disguise.  (Boon as in a good thing, not short for baboon.  That would be another tangent entirely, a baboon in disguise.)

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The owner of the Broken Anvil Inn, where the adventuring team was living, asked the mermaid to go on stage for a song.  She started to sing a seriously sorcery-sort of song… while not wearing pants, and became an overnight sensation in Sharn.  She helped his business so much that he offered the adventuring party a place to park their carcass permanently.  So now, if you go to the Broken Anvil Inn in Sharn, it is pretty likely the entertainment will be the Princess Anduriel, mermaid bard, singing and playing the harp.  And she still won’t be wearing any pants.  The crowd loves her for it.

So it should be obvious to you now the kind of Dungeon Master I truly am.  And it will also help to explain why my kids are totally mortified by the idea of me dungeon-mastering for their friends.  “But, Dad!  We have to be able to show our faces in school Monday morning you know!”

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The Siege at Castle Evernight

Evernight Keep 1a

I believe I gave you fair warning that I would be telling the story of how, in our family D & D game, we conquered a castle that was occupied by the forces of evil.  Well, this is it.  It happened in the castle I described as an adventure setting last week.

The heroes, led by the halfling Gandy Rumspot (number two son’s character) and Mira the Kalashtar (daughter the Princess’s character) were asked by the Kingdom of Breland to investigate what happened to their ally, the Duke of Passage, Dane Evernight, in the Kingdom of Aundair.

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So they loaded up their trusty airship and flew to Passage.  Where they immediately learned of two mysterious boys made completely of stone and, yet, still living.

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They found the two in the city square north of the castle.

Druealia the wizardess; You two boys are golems?  Living statues?

Angel statue;  We weren’t before Dr. Zorgo took us into the lab.  We were castle pages to the Duke of Passage.

Gandy the rogue;  He changed you?  Who is this Dr. Zorgo?

Faun statue; Zorgo was the Duke’s court physician.  When we woke up in the castle, everybody had been turned into some sort of golem.  Stone golems, rag golems, animated statues… even the Duke himself.  None of us remember much about our lives before our minds were put in these new bodies.

Mira the Kalashtar; We have to get inside the castle and put things right!

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So, the question became, “How do we get into the castle without this Doctor Zorgo finding out and turning us into golems too?”

The answer came from a visiting professor from Morgrave University in Sharn.  Professor Hootigan was a sentient giant owl.  Not only could he warn them about the dangers of facing a mindflayer, a psionic monster who can read your thoughts and attack your mind, which Zorgo actually was, but he could fly the two lightest members of the adventuring party up to the summit of the castle, bypassing all the many traps and defenses that Zorgo had most likely laid.  And it didn’t hurt that both Hootigan and Mira were psionically able to protect the group from Zorgo’s mind attacks.

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So up they went.  Hootigan’s flying skill roll was high enough to not only get them inside, but get them in quietly enough not to awaken the sleeping stone gargoyles who guarded the heights.

They were protected from Dr. Zorgo’s routine mind probes of the castle by Mira’s mind-shielding powers.

Once they were past Zorgo’s lab, they soon discovered two different things.  Zorgo hadn’t yet changed the Duke’s daughter, Sien, into a golem yet.  She was still imprisoned in the castle’s dark pit, called an “oubliette”.

They also discovered that fighting golems was extremely difficult.  They discovered this in a fight with three golems they dubbed Moe, Curly, and Larry for some mysterious reason.

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After a very frustrating slap-fight in which they discovered that you can’t kill or wound a rag golem with weapons, they finally won the day when they discovered all they had to do was stop the Larry golem from playing “Pop Goes the Weasel” on his fiddle.  That took away their will to fight.  And they were even helpful as former faithful servants of the Duke.  They revealed that all the golems in the castle were controlled by one golem-control wand wielded by Dr. Zorgo himself.

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First they sneaked down to the oubliette and rescued Duchess Sien.  Then they had to steal back her magical armor and swords.  Many more golem guards and gargoyles were in the way of achieving their goals, but they used a bit of trickery to turn the odds in their favor.

They tricked Major Jak Pumpkinhead into thinking that the castle was being assaulted from the front.  When all the castle defenders rushed to the front towers, Gandy closed the inner gates on them, locking them all inside their very own defensive positions.

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Finally they confronted Dr.  Zorgo himself.  This time Mira’s defensive mind shields were not so successful.  Zorgo incapacitated Sien Evernight and Gandy Rumspot with mind attacks because they did not have their own psionic defenses (and because Mira rolled a 4 when she needed at least a 10 on the 20-sided dice).  Dr. Zorgo set the golden golem that had once been Duke Dane Evernight on a course to killing Mira.  At the last possible moment, Mira threw her magic dagger at Zorgo’s golem wand, rolled an 18, and destroyed it.   The gold golem, realizing he was now free, exacted his revenge.  He grabbed Dr. Zorgo and plunged off the balcony of the castle’s summit with him to a jarring destruction at the bottom of the 300-foot tower and cliff.

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It was a mostly “happy ever after” event.  The player characters now owned a castle, provided that Fate agreed to marry Duchess Sien and become the new Duke of Passage.

The numerous golem servants, having nowhere else to go, and no longer being human, elf, dwarf, or whatever they had been previously, stayed on to be castle servants.  Duke Evernight’s golden head was retrieved from the bottom of the cliff and, still able to talk, was to be the useful adviser of the new Duke.

That is pretty much typical of our D & D adventures.  Full of slapstick humor and mindless destruction, it was a whee of a time that made us laugh and enjoy time spent together playing weird imagination games with various toys, props, and dice.

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Magic Carpet Over Cymril

 

 

Magic Carpet Ride 5

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