Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple

For my gaming group’s first non-D&D session, I wanted to pick something that was as far from D&D/Pathfinder as I could. So I picked Do. It is built around the assumption that the players will succeed in their tasks, that they will succeed without having to kill everything in their path. It doesn’t use dice or minis, and the game runs entirely without a GM. It is played on a sheet of paper with each player recording their own turn as it is played.

Here is our play notes (a direct transcript, with full names added when a character was introduced without one):
Humble pie does not want to interrupt his party to inform them that the whale was on route toward the party and then swallowed the party.
Humble Pie makes whale sushi to placate the party. And then, you see, Whisperless Pass (in a tactless display) loudly exclaimed, “Mmmmm, this whale is so tasty.” The whale began to sob, shaking the whole group to its core.
Whisperless pass pets the side of the whale until it quiets down, singing a whale lulluby. Meanwhile, the whale’s tears have washed away much of the debris scattered about the whale’s cavernous maw.
The party flies toward the planet in the distance, which contains a worried Melanie, to whom Effervescent Melody plays a song with her magical lute to calm her.
But the sparkling bubbly bounciness of Effervescent draws the eye and draws the ire of Melanie’s parents, who emerge from the house to glower and gloom over the temple-folks’ prospects of liberating a planet.
Merry Toolkit builds a harness for Melanie’s cat and explains his plan to have the cat pull th eplanet out of the whale while Effervescence empowers the cat with her magical lute. Merry cheerfully calls the cat who runs over the horizon and reveals itself to be huge, which greatly excites Merry causing him to call for it even more happily. The cat leaps over the trees and lands on Merry, purring contentedly. Merry is actually happy about this but it did hurt.
In a burst of inspiration, Lucent Flowers causes a patch of catnip to pop up near Melanie’s house, rescuing Merry from his fate as a cat toy.
Humble, having been charged with attaching the harness to the cat, begins to do so despite the mismatch in harness/cat size. He doesn’t want to cause trouble by asking why the harness is so small. In the attempt, the cat eats the harness and Humble’s arm up to his shoulder. Humble then notices the mathematical progression the cat opens and closes its mouth by. Using this knowledge, he jumps into the cat’s face to retrieve the harness. From this perch he can control the cat, using its teeth/control levers.
The harness is thrown out of the cat. Whisperless strolls over to the parents and offers each one a perfumed cigar, regaling them with tales of their extraordinary Temple exploits so they don’t notice Melody appropriating their gargantuan cat.
With a stroke of genius and a stroke on a string, Effervescent Melody moves the planet and propels it out of the whale’s gaping mouth.
Effervescent, flush with frenetic fervor at having rescued Melanie’s planet from the maw of the whale. offers to help Melanie make cookies. With the exaggerated patience only a child can exhibit, Melany asks, “What are you going to do about the whale?”
Merry builds a giant cat/toast powered propeller and a rudder to manouver the planet out of the way of the whale.
Then in the midst of his dance of joy, Merry climbs a tree and gets stuck in it.
Everyone praised Humble and thanked him for his help, but Humble thought they were just being nice.
Licking the last crumbs of whale sushi from her fingers, Whisperless contentedly watches the whale recede into the distance.
Excitedly, Effervescent Melody strums a jolly tune while screaming at the top of her lungs.
Merry, remembering he can fly jumps from the tree and joyfully flies around the planet.
Lucent ate cookies with Melanie’s family and continued on his voyage across the skies.


& Dragons

With the summer break coming, my Pathfinder game is going on hiatus, so I thought I’d try to wrap up with one of the iconic encounters of the game. My party is seventh level, and they are travelling cross country in the dead of winter, so how better to end the season than a White Dragon fight. I also gave them an oncoming winter storm to up the tension a bit. Now I personally dislike the tendency in recent editions of D&D to treat dragons like just another bag of hp and treasure. I think a dragon fight, even against a relatively weak (adult white dragon is a large creature with 13 hd) should always be a fairly difficult encounteer. If you are setting your party against a large number of “true” dragons as a fair fight, you might want to find some other sort of monster to take the role. I’ve written about this before when I posted my Devastator Black Dragon for 4th Edition. Now pathfinder characters aren’t nearly as durable as 4th edition characters, so while I modified the white dragon to make it a bit more interesting, I didn’t go nearly as far as I did with the Black Dragon. I really only added two things, a 30 foot leap attack that allowed it to use one natural attack against every opponent within reach for half damage and send them flying into the nearest snow bank, and I modified the fog spell like ability to be a free action that raises up a 20′ radius obscuring storm of ice and snow.
A party that was less interested in just killing the dragon outright could have either intimidated it or bluffed their way out of the fight, but there really was no way that a “mere” large dragon was going to get away without a fight in the party’s first dragon encounter, so conversation broke down, the party scattered, and the fight was on. I had decided to run the dragon as fairly primal, prone to give in to temporary amusement, not too bright, and more interested in savaging each opponent in turn than in the more tactically sound “eat them one at a time” maneuver. So it would flit from opponent to opponent, using fly and burrow liberally, do something nasty to each target and then move on. With focused attacks, the party being spread out like they were would have spelled doom, but as it stood, the dragon got to attack targets that attracted its attention without worrying about coordinated attacks. By the way, that 12d4 breath weapon? That’s a lot of d4s. He was also thee party’s first encounter with effective levels of spell resistance. Turns out that a sorcerer can just spam fireball until it eventually gets through (also? 7d6 is quite a lot of d6s too.) So the drsagon was a tough, memorable fight that could easily have taken a turn for the tpk but didn’t. The party survived, to have to run for cover in the face of a massive winter hail storm. We’ll see what they find in the ice cave they found at the end of the summer.

The Necrothane Part 1

Deep within the heart of Vostin’s Fang lies the Maze of Bone. At the center of the ever shifting maze, shrouded in the distilled essence of death, there is a stark white fortress, home to one of the more elusive powers of the Na Essad. Born Mortimer Winthelthrop, it was inevitable that he would turn the rage and pain of his early life to the study of death in all its forms. As these things go, his story is pretty standard, undead horde, a few towns razed and then raised to form an unstoppable army, the forces of light gathering against him, plans in disarray, a final escape route surprisingly used before one of the stalwart champions managed to split him down the middle with a gargantuan steel pokey thing.
Unfortunately for him, his escape did not lead him to the hidden stronghold it was supposed to. Instead he found himself in the main gate chamber of the unescapable demiplane of Na Essad. When confronted by the gathered factions of the Fang, he declined to choose an allegiance and instead went wandering the world for a while. The first thing he did was lose his name. He shed his past like his past had shed its respective flesh when he began his reign of terror. He found a world that was teeming with lost spirits and wandering undead, and over a century or so, he came up with an idea. He was still twisted and evil, but murdering and then reanimating all of the people who he had a childhood grudge against took the edge off of his particular mania.
He started harvesting the local undead, gathering them up and locking them away from the people of his new home. Over decades, he searched out a place to build a stronghold, the better to protect himself from meddling wanderers and to provide an isolated holding facility for the captured undead. As time went on, he left his fortress less and less often, becoming more involved in his research.
During one of his infrequent outings, he stumbled upon one of the great secrets of Na Essad. He found one of the Grottos containing the Soulstones of trapped deities. His first instinct was to bend even those powers to his whim, but he triggered Na Essad’s defenses when he started to absorb the trapped powers of a god. He escaped, but barely. The danger presented by his new home caused him to search for an escape, for he no longer felt safe. So concerned was he that he made peace with the Ice Lich of the Great Glacier, one of the undead he had most hoped to capture and bend to his will. The Ice Lich instructed him in the secrets of the great binding. It is the lore of the Giants that, combined with his necromantic mastery, has set him on his current path.
He went forth from the great frozen tower of the Ice Lich and recruited those who would best serve him. His gathered corpse takers travel up and down the Fang, retrieving the bodies of the dead before they can be raised and capturing or dispersing those undead whose creation they were incapable of stopping. His Ossifers or Bone Men provide a public service which is not always welcome, but none deny that the realms they walk are safer now than ever before.
The corpses his servants bring to him are used in the creation of skeletons and zombies that he stores in the Maze of Bones and in crypts hewn from the walls of Vostin’s Fang. The thousands of minor undead he has created as well as all of the greater undead he has captured and bound have in his mind but one purpose. Each one of them is little more than a battery of necromantic energies that he is setting aside for the day his plans reach fruition. His plans are two-fold. First he intends to ascend to godhood by absorbing the necrotic energy bound up in his collected undead, and then he intends to sacrifice himself to power a ritual that he believes will let him pierce the boundaries of Na Essad and return to the greater multiverse as a living mortal. He believes that the death of a god will unleash so much power into the realm of the dead that he’ll be able to bring his mortal self across through the barrier without triggering any of na essad’s defenses.
If the first servators ever find out about his plans, they would certainly oppose him, either sending parties of adventurers in to destroy him, or raising a force of Giants to confront him in his lair. If they fail, the twin pulses of necrotic energy released by his ascension and his subsequent death would be likely to be sufficient to kill almost every living thing on or in Vostin’s Fang. It is also probable that the damage to the intricate bindings that keep the thing at the center of the world both dormant and trapped inside Na Essad will lead to the ultimate destruction of Na Essad and from there the multiverse.

Infinite City

Several years ago, I saw a print in the art section of the gencon main floor that I just had to have. It felt particularly Sharn like to me so I bought it and found out that it was one of the pieces coming out for a tile placing board game called infinite city. A couple of years later, the game came out and I bought that from my flgs. Now I don’t get to play board games very much, so it sort of just sat there on my shelf of unplayed board games until last night. My D&D group was mostly absent (and mostly on short notice) from our weekly game, so those of us who were actually there decided to play something different. We played a very brief (sub 30 minute) game of “let’s talk about what board game to play” and decided on Infinite City, mostly, if I recall. based on the box art. (So ladies and gentlemen, if you want people to randomly pick up and play your cool tile based board game, the lesson here is “Get Charles Urbach to do your art.”
The game play is pretty simple. Play a tile, follow the tile’s instructions, draw your hand back up to 5 tiles. My only complaints are that I wish the game had slightly clearer rules, or definitions of all of the terms. We kept running into questions like “does a power station stop players from adding tokens to a hotel?” That said, the game was great fun, with an ever growing and shifting play space. We played two games with three people in under 2 hours, while learning the rules. I do wonder if the board wouldn’t become a bit unwieldy with the listed maximum of 6 players.