Ripper DMing: Temple of Elemental Evil VII

This post is two weeks late, and is marked by the last day that my old laptop was functional. I somehow got it booted up one last time, got all of my files pulled off of it and ran it's last game. Fear not! I now have my shiny new laptop, and got everything transferred over to it. I had to learn Windows 7, and tweak everything into submission, but I think that I've got everything set up now; YAY!

Tonight's game has been canceled, as Shannon is setting up house in a new home; right down the street! Which is awesome! Not the no gaming part, just that he lives closer now. Back to the game!

The players must had felt bad for drinking and fighting, they decided to explore different areas of Level 1, and almost got themselves killed by 2 harpies. Again, I forgot about elven super ability number 255, you can't charm an elf. After I had everybody charmed and was getting ready to eat them, Shannon had the brainfart that changed the situation and they were able to get the upper hand. I've even played an elf in the last campaign, and I should know this stuff, but I am a scatterbrain. I told them though, that it is their job to remind me about their special elven abilities during the game. I'm used to DMing for humans only, and that is how I think.

The fights were enormous, and they had a hell of a time keeping themselves alive. My wife felt that this was the hardest part, and they did kill almost a hundred HD of monsters.

I had reorganized the dungeon to catch them off guard. For the last three games they had taken the same route, so I set up an ambush, however when they took the different route, they didn't run into it. COOL!!!! It helped them on two separate fronts, the badguys who were part of the ambush couldn't be at their normal stations, thus they had an easier time fighting large groups, and two . . . well I lied. It was only one front but two fronts just sounds so cool, don't you think?

I also scaled off on the Random Encounters, I rolled one every once in awhile, but not on a regular schedule like I had been. This southern portion of the level seemed more dangerous then the Northern.

We also ran into a big problem, and one that I just wasn't willing to deal with, and hoped for the best which they got. The large collection of pirates laying low scared the crap out of me! We play inside of our heads, but this fight would definitely require miniatures to determine. Way to many men! And I'm just not prepared to do something like that yet, however I'm getting there. We went out and got some giant sheets of paper which I am in the process of marking. We'll put plastic around it and I can use dry-erase marker to mark the things. My wife said that she'll let everybody pick a mini from the collection upstairs, and for bad guys she purchased a huge tub of little plastic cowboys and indians to use as markers. Once I get everything put together and use it I'll definitely be posting about it! I have never used miniatures during a campaign before, and am in the process of ironing out the Mini rules. LOTS OF WORK TO BE DONE!!!

A bizarre event also happened. In the hall of bones, that trap set off and the evil aligned cleric actually rolled a twenty and seized control of one of the monster skeletons! HOLY CRAP!!! They made me play by myself to determine the outcome of that fight, and the monster skeleton won. Now they have a pet skeleton and I have to figure out how long the monster will stay with the party, and refresh my knowledge of stealing undead monsters. Actually, I've never had an evil aligned cleric in the party before, only good or neutral ones who had the ability to turn undead, but not steal it. I found out about that rule by years of playing Ravenloft. It may be just a Ravenloft rule, however I'll keep it in the game. It really isn't that big of a problem, it is just another henchmen right now, and they know that it is a time-bomb waiting to blow. As soon as they run into a high level cleric, he's going to turn it against them faster then a cat with a can tied to its tail.

Overall it was an exciting game! And everybody sighed in relief when it was finally time to put the books away and were really shocked when the XP earned was all in the 4 digit ranges. I think that everybody gained a level.

On a side note, not only was this my old PCs last game, but it was also Rydan's as well, so no more Wizzard :( Rydan loved playing Wizards, and even though he was brand new to the game, he taught me a ton. His favorite spell was "Grease" a spell that in all my years of playing was generally ignored, but he really got thing working for him! He was the deciding factor in many fights though brilliant use of a bizarre spell. I'll miss you buddy, and just want you to know that you will always be welcome at the table.

Seven Authors of lnfluence

I think that we all have different influences to our gaming style, and they come from many different kinds of media. Today I would like to talk about Authors who influenced me, of course, with a book worm like myself, there are too many to mention, so I’ll just talk about my top 7, now keep in mind that these aren’t in any particular order. All of these people are masters at what they do, and I simply can’t pick a favorite or more important influence among them.

Aldous Huxley

Aldous is not a new writer, he wrote the psychological thriller early in the last century called A Brave New World. In this bleak tale of a horrifying future, he takes the wonders of a utopian society to the logical outcome. It is one of the most well-thought out bios of human thought which features mass brainwashing, which is what drew me to it to begin with. Aldous created his own world, complete with culture and a brand new set of bias and bigotry as the taboos in the world darkly mock our own. As it was written in the 20’s, I believe, it is scary how accurate it is and how it figured us to be.

Through Aldous I was introduced to alternative ways of thinking in regards to law, society, and how people captured in bizarre circumstances keep insisting that everything is fine and normal. It taught me how to manage NPCs and keep them interesting by changing how they see the world and how they judge their place in it.

Bram Stoker

While Bram wrote more that just Dracula (Stoker was a dirty-bird), it is this title that is most famous.

Where to begin? Stoker was a genius when it comes to settings, and adding little details which truly bring the book to glorious life; but what inspired me the most, and why you need to actually pick up the book, vs. just watching some movie, is that in the book, you never see Dracula. We have no idea what he is up to, except through the eyes of the characters who must deal with him.

This is important because, unlike movies or most books and even videogames these days, one always sees the Point of view of the bad guy when he is planning something big, but Dracula keeps you in the dark and this shows us how we can do the same thing in our games. Dracula was a master manipulator, pulling strings in the background. His presence is always there, however he very rarely makes a true appearance in the book, and we just witness his handiwork. I strive to do this same thing with my games. Keeping the villain in the shadows, vs. an in your face kind of baddy seems to be preferred and really fit with the style which is required of tabletop gaming.

We can, instead of dealing directly with the cause, simply have to make due to confronting the effects of the bad guys choices, and trying to minimize the damage as much as possible.

H. P. Lovecraft

Like many of us, I think that Lovecraft has made the largest impression upon me. A master story-teller who has influenced almost everyone who has ever picked up a horror story.

Lovecraft has influenced my gaming style in more then just one way, but his greatest influence has always been mystery. How to take a simple object and really flesh it out. He also gives out secrets and tricks to pacing if you can read between the lines. Nobody could keep you on the edge of your seat, nor in the dark for so long, as the master Lovecraft could do.

I can’t single out any of his short stories, all are of equal greatness. He developed his own religion which threatens the lives and sensibilities of those who live in his world. He blended sci-fi with horror in such a way that we forget that his tales are science fiction. He also tricks us into his realm, he had a way of suspending our disbelief by a masterful blend of truth and fiction which is also something that we can learn from him.

His effect on terror was even larger, as the creatures which he brings to life were wonderfully kept in the shadows, we never quite know what they are, and only get brief glimpses of these horrors, many of which have made it into the Monstrous Manual, and one simply needs to enjoy his tales to figure out how to best present them. Presentation is also a major influence point, how to integrate a setting and characters into the players minds with the greatest efficiency and power as possible.

Steven King

A modern writer and no doubt the most popular on this list. While most folks would look at this list and only know a few names, this is the one that everyone will know. Steven King is the modern master of our time, and his tales will stand the test of time for generations of readers to come.

King is another writer where all you have to do is pick a title, any title will do. Everyone has their own favorites (as well as ones that they hated) but the deal with King is that he has taught me to think way outside of the box. He can take an everyday item, and twist it in a way that it becomes dark and foreboding.

Themes are big with him, but he creates his own themes which is really cool. He blends tried and true staples of the genre and mixes them with new ingredients that nobody has ever seen before. We should strive to do this with our own games. Not being afraid to try new things, if they are well-done then you have succeeded.

Anne Rice

Anne Rice is well-known for her Vampire Chronicles, but my personal favorite series by her are the Witches stories involving the spirit Lasher. While she struggles with characters, namely that it seems that all of her male characters have to be gay, her true strength is settings. Her settings are most definitely inspiring, she shows the reader how to increase tension through adding layers of elements together to form a perfect whole.

A DM normally struggles with this area, they use staple settings however they don’t bother blend other elements into them and truly paint an unforgettable portrait in the players minds.

Edger Rice Burroughs

Through this master, I learned how to add an element of fun! It is one thing to add everything together, but if it isn’t fun, then why bother? Burroughs was a master who created unforgettable characters, they didn’t have to be likable, but they did seem real. He knew where the audience wanted to go, and he took them there. In a time where there were many promises made, he actually followed through with the idea and pleased the audience.

Emily Bronte

My favorite title of hers, is Wuthering Heights. In this tale, characters are the centerpiece. She tells the story through gossip, which makes them a lot of fun to read. She also knew scandal (as did Anne Rice), but where she really influenced me is the love and care that she gives to her Villain, Heathcliff. You get to really know him, and understand why he does the things that he does. Heathcliff is broken and hurt, and while we come to follow his logic, we still can’t agree with his methods. An awesome biopsy of an evil mind, and one that we should put into our own games from time to time.

Random Junk

Here is just some stuff that I've stumbled over in my online travels seeking adventure and internet glory!

A 700 year old house

A cool cave map generator

One Bad-Ass Sandcastle to avoid over exposure, or joining sites just to see content, and probably never returning again. BRILLIANT!!!!


Drelb Guardian (Haunting Custodian)

Dark, Subterranean
Frequency: Very Rare
Organization: Solitary
Activity Cycle: Any
Diet: Negative Energy
Intelligence: Average to Very (9-12)
Treasure: Special
Alignment: Neutral (evil)
No. Appearing: 1
Armor Class: 2
Movement: Fl 6 (B)
Hit Dice: 5+3
THAC0: 15
No. of Attacks: 1
Damage/Attack: 3-12
Special Attacks: Chill, 90% seems retreating
Special Defenses: hit only by magic weapons, reflects psionic attacks
Magic Resistance: None
Size: M (6’ tall)
Moral: 12 (Steady)
XP Value: 1,400

The Drelb are seen as black, vaguely man-shaped clouds that have no true substance, but tend to shape themselves with two upper limbs, a torso, and a head with two glowing red eyes. Most people who see them mistakenly identify them as wraiths, however unlike wraiths, they cannot be turned as undead.

Combat: The touch of a drelb is so cold that it causes those struck by it to lose all body warmth instantaneously, which causes not just the damage (3d4), but also causes the victim to fall shivering to the ground, dropping all items which he was holding (no saving-throw). Victims of this attack are unable to act until this chill passes, or 1 round.
When confronted by a cleric attempting to turn it,or if prey is hesitant, the cunning monster uses a trick of illusion. It causes its form to rapidly diminish in size while gliding smoothly forward. This is 90% likely to give the viewers the impression that the drelb is retreating, while it is actually moving up to attack.
Magic weapons are needed to harm drelb; silver has no effect, unless it is magicked silver, which causes double damage. Drelb also have the faculty of imitation and/or reflection of psionic power. All power used within 30 feet of the creature or any psionic attack directed at it is imitated or reflected back upon the attacker.
Habitat/Society: Drelb inhabit the Negative Material Plane, but evil-minded persons will sometimes call them to the Prime Material Plane to serve as guardians of hidden wealth or secret places, so whenever they are encountered on this plane they are guarding something. Magic which draws the drelb to the Prime Material Plane is likely to function only from sunset to sunrise; so, much like undead, drelb appear only in twilight or darkness.
Ecology: Drelb serve as protection only, summoning them is considered an act of evil as the life of an innocent must be taken at the time of calling them forth from their own dimensions. While this spell has been lost to time, the Drelb do show up often enough to suspect ancient evil forces of great power is behind each and every one of them. It is also known that the Drelb is considered a minor spirit in the negative material plane, and many more powerful beings from this negative plane are more apt to using them successfully then a creature native to this plane—but of course that doesn’t stop people from trying to call them.

Ripper DMing Temple of Elemental Evil part VI

This game wasn't all that hot. It was half D&D, & half Shannon's Bday party, which essentially means that all of my players, with the exception of myself and the thief got wasted on rum.

Travis started play, pushing the PC party to 8, and everybody showed up. His character is a Neutral Evil cleric, an alignment that I allowed because everybody was playing Chaotic Neutral and I have learned to hate CN more than any other alignment. Seriously! NE is much easier for me to stomach these days.

What the party did get done was a whole lot of fighting. We are talking some serious hack-n-slash. Unfortunately they weren't all that thorough, and a lot got by them. We did have one interesting encounter that was made worse by a random encounter. The party had pinned down a couple of bugbears who had flipped the table over and was chucking spears at them, when along came a carrion crawler, YEAY!!!! I simply love those things! It almost ate Summer's cleric, too. Until my wife's fighter knocked it for a loop.

The MVP of the game, was without a doubt, Kim, who played the teams only thief. She had looted and picked her way to twice as many experience points than any one else! The next runners up were all of the fighters, they killed about 87 HD worth of monsters. I think that everybody had fun, but it wasn't as fulfilling to me. No problems on my side of the screen, it was just that everybody was so easily distracted. We ended up pulling the plug at midnight and just sat around jawing until 2 a.m..

I did run into one problem, I don't have any stats for a monster called a Drelb Guardian. I updated the necessary bits to 2e, so that I can run it in the dungeon, however I would love to see the entire listing for this thing. The module said that it was in the appendix, but somebody screwed up and never added it.

There is also a monster in the dungeon that uses psionics, and while I have retained most of my gaming knowledge from the good ol days, psyionics are completely lost on me, so I've been re-reading the Psionics Handbook (or however that word is spelled, cut me some slack I'm stoned on Cough Syrup). I've never been a big fan of Psionic PC's. I played one in the past, and it was always like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. While I don't enjoy Player Psionics, I do like Monsters that use them, and may even through in a classed Psionic badguy or NPC, which could be fun . . . if I can remember how these things work.

On another technical note, I tried to update my DM's Secretary 2.0 up to 5, but my rusty old laptop simply can't handle it, which is a bummer, because I have it on my main PC and I think that it would be awesome to play with. I'll just have to wait until TAX time when I get my shiny new laptop, YAY!!!!

Maybe then things will be more active around here, huh? Who knows. Until next time!


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