Wednesday, February 29, 2012

[Varyonde] Varyonde Campaign Region Map

Here is the Varyonde Campaign Region Map (as usual, click to embiggen). Each square is 4 miles across; each of the larger noted squares is 32 miles across. The next level down, the Sub-Region, is the 32 mile x 32 mile section, which is done at a scale of 4 miles per inch. I am working on the first Sub-Region map, which covers squares B1-B8: 41-48, the Sub-Region of the City of Varyonde and Castle Hexpools, the focus of the campaign.

Friday, February 24, 2012

20 Untimate Questions

20 Untimate Questions

1. Ability scores generation method? Roll 4d6 (do NOT roll 1’s over) and take the highest three; do this six times, and arrange to taste

2. How are death and dying handled? Rather complicated, actually, so I’ll post the rule as I have it written:

           When you are reduced to between 0 hit points and a number of negative hit points equal to your level, you may make a saving throw versus Poison; if you succeed, you remain conscious, but are sickened, and all you can do is crawl, groan, and mumble (you cannot attack, defend yourself, cast a spell, use a magic device, pull a lever, shout, pull something from a backpack, or perform any other action, and if you try to do so, you automatically FAIL and immediately fall unconscious). You can drink a potion that is ready and at hand (i.e. in a pocket or pouch, not in a backpack). If you fail the save, or otherwise fall unconscious through attempting an action, you must make a second saving throw, as below, or start bleeding, though you get a +2 bonus to the saving throw (each time you must make it) as your wounds are not as severe.
           When you are reduced to a number of negative hit points between the negative of your level plus one to -10 plus your negative level, you are unconscious. You must make a saving throw against Poison or you are bleeding; you bleed one hit point every round, at the end of the round after all attacks and spells and other actions have been accounted for. If you make your saving throw, you are temporarily stabilized; however, after every turn (10 rounds) which unconscious you must make another saving throw, or start bleeding.
           When you reach a number of negative hit points equal to -10 plus the negative of your level plus one, you die.
o          EXAMPLE: Bobby the Bold is a 5th level fighter. From 0 to -5 he has a chance of remaining conscious, though barely able to move or speak. At -6 he is automatically unconscious, and must make a saving throw every turn or start bleeding 1 hit point per round. When he reaches -16 he dies.
           Any character can stop an unconscious character’s wounds from bleeding by applying first aid. This requires one full round (must start the round at the wounded character’s side and end it there) where the rescuer remains uninterrupted (i.e., cannot be attacked). Remember, during this time you are prone and not using your Dexterity bonus (if any), so any attackers gain applicable bonuses to hit you. At the end of that round, the wounded character can attempt another saving throw against Poison; if successful, he stops bleeding, if he fails, he bleeds again. If the saving throw is a “Natural 1,” you do 1d4 points of damage to him by doing something stupid. If the saving throw is a “Natural 20,” you stop the bleeding completely and restore 1d4 hit points. If you fail you can try again next round. If successful and it is not a “Natural 20,” you must spend the next full round bandaging the wounds (remember, these are one minute rounds, not 10 second rounds), or one turn later, he must again make a saving throw or start bleeding again. Once the bleeding has been stopped and bandaged, the wounded character need not make anymore saving throws.
           Any magical cure, from cure light wounds to heal, or potion of healing, etc., that cures at least one hit point of damage automatically stops bleeding without the need to bandage the wound.
           Any character reduced to a sickened state through hit point loss and then revived to greater than 0 hit points will remain in a weakened state for 1d6 turns. While weakened he suffers a -2 penalty to hit, a -2 penalty to damage, and a -2 penalty to all saving throws, cannot cast spells or use magic devices, and moves at only half speed.
           Any character reduced to unconsciousness through hit point loss and then revived to greater than 0 hit points will remain in a coma for 1d6 turns. Thereafter, he must rest until he regains half his hit points, or no less than a full week at minimum. He will be incapable of any activity other than that necessary to move slowly to a place to rest, eat, and sleep. He cannot attack, defend, cast spells, use magic devices, carry burdens, run, study, research, or do anything else. This is true even if curing spells and/or healing potions are used to return him to full hit points, though if a full heal spell is used the restrictions no longer apply. (DMG p82)
           For each day of complete bed rest in a clean, normal environment (i.e. NOT in a dungeon) you heal 1 hit point, up to 7 per week. However, if you suffer a Constitution penalty to hit points, your healing for the full week is reduced by that many points (from the first day of rest). If you have a -2 penalty to hit points, you would only gain 5 hit points back from a full week of rest, gaining NO healing on the first two days!
           The second week of complete bed rest any character with a bonus to hit points from Constitution adds the bonus to his hit points restored for the COMPLETE week of rest.
           On the third and subsequent weeks of complete bed rest you gain DOUBLE the normal hit points (after first subtracting or adding) each week.

3. What about raising the dead? Raise dead spells are generally reserved for heroes of the faith, though some of the more mercenary temples are open to selling their miracles for cash and services (a cash payment or equivalent of no less than 6000 gp plus a magically-induced quest). The only cleric in the party is a 4th level cleric of Thor; it is highly unlikely that Thor would allow the return of a hero gathered by the Valkyries!

4. How are replacement PCs handled? The new PC is rolled up in standard fashion, and begins with an amount of XP equal to half that of the previous PC. He has a chance of having his own magic items (based on class and level), unless he was bequeathed the items from the previous character (in which case he must be of the same race, and of the family or close family friend of the former character).

5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else? Group initiative, with situational positions determining who goes first, with Dexterity breaking ties if there are any questions.

6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work? Critical hits on Natural 20 (if not needed to hit the target) mean maximum damage only; Fumble on a Natural 1 means you miss automatically, and if it would have been a miss anyway you drop your weapon (or the bowstring breaks, etc), plus you lose any other attacks that round.

7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet? Nope, but if you do not, opponents can target your head at no penalty (per DMG p 28)

8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly? Yes, most definitely, as per the DMG.

9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything? Running away is a perfectly viable and often preferred tactic.

10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no? Yes.

11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death? Definitely.

12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked? I call for an encumbrance audit when a big treasure is found. Resources only when something pertinent comes up (what, you don’t have any rope?)

13. What's required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells
automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down
time? No training required for the basic stuff, but in the case of spells, study is required. Magic-users get one spell of any level they can cast each new level “free,” though it cannot be a “named” spell and must be chosen from the Player’s Handbook. Oh, and as XP is given only after the PCs get back to "home base," it won't happen in the midst of the dungeon.

14. What do I get experience for? Killing, avoiding, or otherwise overcoming monsters; gaining treasure; spending treasure appropriately or carousing; 100 xp per level of the dungeon for the first time you get to the level; role-playing appropriately; making the DM or players laugh.

15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination? All of the above.

16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work? Encouraged. Morale per combat as the situation warrants, then at return to town to see if he remains employed.

17. How do I identify magic items? Identify spell for quick and expensive, or one week of study of the item per feature by a PC magic-user for cheap and slow.

18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions? Potions and scrolls generally, yes, in the city. The village alchemist, mage, and cleric have a few items each, but at very dear cost.

19. Can I create magic items? When and how? Not for quite a few levels, except for minor potions and scrolls. Requires lots of down time, and either lots of gold or specific monster parts.

20. What about splitting the party? Please do… oh please oh please do…

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

[Varyonde] The Journal of Vort Eptson of Hexvale: First Expedition Part 1

First Castle Hexpools Expedition
Saturday, February 11, 2012

Magnus the Mighty, Chaotic Good male Iron Man Human 2nd level Fighter/4th level Cleric of Thor [Hans]
Graeyff Trueshot, Chaotic Neutral male High Elf 2nd level Fighter/3rd level Thief [Zell]
Tayvin Grayleaf, Chaotic Good male High Elf 2nd level Fighter/2nd level Magic-user [Robbie]
Vort Eptson, Neutral Good male Common Human 0-level Torch Boy [NPC]

The adventure to date is depicted through the journal of the party torchboy, Vort...

Penned on Tuesday, April 3rd in the 6,698th Year of the Age of Man.

Early morning, ere we set out for Castle Hexpools

Having reached my 13th summer, I, Vort son of Ept, have hired out as a torchbearer for an adventuring party that is delving into the ruins of Castle Hexpools, an infamous pile of stones several hours distant from my natal home of the hamlet of Hexvale.

The trio I have signed on with doesn’t seem too promising, so I am keeping a journal so that when we all die, a future adventuring company may know of what happened to me, and with the Luck of Fate or the Will of Chance be able to relate it to my family. I pray in such an event that this journal be delivered to Father Fabolde of Hexvale Parish, in order that he may read it to my family, as I am the first of my line to learn my letters at his knee. I ask that half my worldly goods be given to my family, the other half to the good Father, in order that he may pray for my soul. Would that I had followed him into the clergy as he had wished.

I will describe the Three to you.

First there is the most obvious of them, a worshipper of the Northern Faith who calls himself many pontificated names – Magnus the Mighty, the Hammer of Thor, and so on. He wears plate mail and has an arsenal of weapons about him; although I am very large for my age – this one towers over me. He is flanked by two elves. Both are clearly bowmen – one wears steel while the other wears leathers dyed black.

Graeyff Trueshot, whom I shall herein call simply “The Black,” came up behind me without making a sound – he has dead eyes that scare me. The other, Tayvin Grayleaf, is quite handsome and must be the leader, for he is the smartest of the three, for it was his idea to outfit me. I now have a leather cuirass and shield!

They haven’t armed me, however, so my dagger will have to do. I have a backpack filled with torches, but no means to light them. I don’t want to speak up to show their folly, for the big one will most likely cuff me with his mailed fist; his only concern was that of a large skin of honey mead and that his food wallet was full.

Early Morning, Same Day.

I scribble this as the Man-Tower voids his bladder against some nearby rocks. I am beginning to regret signing on for this and am thinking that Drynn, Zhan, and Dhar were the lucky ones for not being chosen by this crew.

Magnus the Mouthy must think I am a nephew to him or that I really care about what advice he gives me. For instance, he stopped me on the trail with his massive hand and told me the most important rule was when he says, “Run” that I am to stay right where I am. It wasn’t until he burst out laughing that I found out he was joking – he told me to stay behind him at least ten feet when we were in the “Delve” as he called it.

I don’t think any of these warriors are taking this seriously. Either they are very brave or very stupid – my thoughts are the latter, or perhaps both. This was only solidified when they spoke of their plans to go into one of the lesser means of entrance only to find out that climbing was going to be involved. They decided against it not because they didn’t bring rope, but rather that Magnus said that Thor rewards the valiant and to take the path as the crow flies will gain gold and glory.

We’re doomed.

Still Later Morning, an Hour or Two Ere Noon Perhaps

If it is difficult to read this, please forgive me if it makes little sense or if my script is rough, as my hands still shake. I am writing this after we were attacked by some bandits.

About an hour ago we came up the main road towards the ruined keep. When we got within a several yards of the remains of the gatehouse wall, we were told in rough common to not move and then pay some sort of toll to pass. Unfazed, Magnus started parlaying with the brigands. He joked saying, “How mayeth I giveth thee gold from mine purse if I cannot move?” The idiot – I thought – doesn’t he know these highwaymen just as soon kill us and take all of our gold? The bandits said we could move to pay them the five crowns. Then, the fool said that he didn’t have the five pieces of gold and that was why they were venturing into the ruins. He then said he would gladly pay the toll upon exit.

In fact, Magnus then started lecturing the bandits on their foolishness, for it would be smarter for them to wait for parties such as themselves to be allowed to enter the delve, gain loot and treasure, and then waylay them on the exit. That way, the party would be wounded and much easier prey and the bandits wouldn’t have to do all of the heavy lifting as he put it.

He then held out what looked to be some sort of purse and asked the bandit to show himself so he may give it to him. The brigand told him to throw the money, which only caused Magnus to laugh like thunder and say, “If I throweth mine money, it mayeth be lost among yon rubble. I pray thee, come down from yon hiding perch so that I may hand it to thee.” The bandits wanted none of that and decided to take half of Magnus’ advice by killing the Three and taking all of their things.

However, I am beginning to think that all of the loud talking of Magnus was a distraction for the elves to prepare their bows and pick their targets. As the bandit leader gave his command, it was cut off by a black fletched arrow that shot through a hole in the wall no larger than my fist – the leader was dead before his body hit the ground; I can see why the Black is called Trueshot. The other elf, Grayleaf, downed another on the left.

It was then that Magnus swept his arm behind him and shielded me with his body as he said, “Get thee behind me, Vort!” Arrows began to rain down upon us from the ramparts. Several of the missiles struck Magnus who paid them no mind as they broke upon his plates while he instructed me on how to hold my shield. He smiled at me and said, “Good, now there be a debt to payeth – in lead.” He began to swing the purse around his head by its long string and released. A shrill whistle pierced the air as a bullet slammed into one of the bandits, imbedding itself into his head. It was hard to see what else happened, for I was keeping beneath my shield as instructed.

I have learned that these bandits were hobgoblins. They are orange-skinned and fanged and quite foul smelling; this last I can attest to since I am now wearing a suit of their chainmail.

Magnus is done leaving the symbol of the Three upon the wall. It is what looks to be a hammer shape made by bows and a sword. I have drawn it here.

Shortly Thereafter, At the Entry to the Main Stair

We made it to the Main Stair and the Three are re-adjusting their equipment to prepare their decent. They have me carrying the torches and the extra gear from the bandits. Magnus joked with me again by saying I am to lead us down so that whatever creature down there will eat me first. I am beginning to understand that this is his nature, for he continues to mock his companions in a similar fashion. My torch was lit by Magnus who reminded me to say at least four of his strides behind him. I could tell he meant it, for his voice changes when he is serious and his gaze becomes sharper.

Some Hours Later, The Same Day

The Three have a method of clearing the way. Magnus walks first with his sword in his hand with his other hand free for his drinking horn or to reach into his food bag. When they come to a door or something that needs to be inspected closely, the Black appears like a shadow and will give his opinion on what to do. Grayleaf acts as rear guard with his bow ready to fire.

Magnus is the strongest man I have ever met. There was a door on the way down that was locked and barred. The Black told Magnus to use his key. Magnus smiled and took the torch from my hand. I was impressed that the Three had keys to the doors of this ancient place, and I wasn’t sure how he was going to use a key with both hands full when he raised his massive foot up and stomped the door in with one kick.

We are in a room now, and the Three are carefully ransacking the place. I can see why they all stand back when Magnus opens the door, for he triggered some sort of a trap on the way in. It was some sort of gas that put the warrior to sleep - I think it would have killed a lesser man. He was out for the duration of a torch! One thing for certain is that he snores even louder than he laughs. This room must have been the lair of some alchemist, for there are bottles with chemicals and papers. Magnus took the papers and used the charcoal from the burnt torch and uses it to draw a map which he has shown me how to do. The paper and map are now rolled up and are stuck in my shield grips.

Perhaps an Hour Later, More or Less, I Know Not, as Time Passes Odd Here

Gods there are lots of traps here.

The Black found one on the other side of the door. Magnus found the other by nearly falling into it. He nimbly stepped back as it went off beneath him. Trueshot sent an arrow down the hall with his bow for no apparent reason then he deactivated the trap since there wasn’t any other pieces of furniture large enough to span the gap (Magnus hefted the bed from the alchemist’s room to span the gap of the first pit). When we moved ahead, a rotting corpse was on the floor with Trueshot’s arrow stuck in its back. Magnus picked it up by a moldy boot and dragged it to the pit that was open and dropped it down – impaling it on the spikes below.

We are now in some sort of crypt or catacomb. I would worry that the Gods might think us grave robbers, but there is nothing holy about these crypts.

Magnus has been smashing frescoed walls revealing hidden chambers behind. The first had something Grayleaf called a sarcophagus. It looks like some sort of large stone box. The warrior looked it over and saw strange sigils in the lead that was used to seal the crack around the lid and base. He said one word, “Vampyr,” and backed away grasping the iron hammer symbol around his neck. He apologized to the group saying that his connection to Thor is not yet strong enough to face this threat.

The next room was odd. There was some mummified person clinging to a skull topped pot. Grayleaf took one of his bowstrings and used it to remove the lid from a safe distance. There was gold inside. Strangely, the party didn’t just take the gold as Magnus said that it was most likely cursed. Grayleaf nodded and called out in some strange language and a mouse crawled up his boot. The elf must have some mastery over the creature, for it seemed to do what he wanted it to. He sent the mouse into the urn to retrieve a coin, but it stayed in the coins instead. When Grayleaf approached, the mouse lost all timidity and started to chatter while it took up a protective stance. Magnus spat and said, “Cursed…Greed.”

I will be sure to not touch anything if I can help it. Perhaps there is still time to become a religious and take my vows, if the Gods see fit to allow me to survive this misadventure...

[This was written by Hans, the player of Magnus the Mouthy... er, I mean, Magnus the Mighty]

Monday, February 13, 2012

[Stuff for Sale] Stuff for Sale 2/13/12

I need to clear some space; I'm still sitting among piles of boxes of books and games from our move back in September, and I just haven't the space for all this stuff that I no longer use.

I'll be posting lists of stuff I'm selling on an irregular basis. Buyer pays all shipping costs. I accept only Paypal. E-mail me at jamesmishler at gmail dot com if you want to buy something.

A Complete Guide To Heraldry (1993 HC), Arthur Charles Fox-Davies, $10 [Cover coming loose]
Ancient Europe: From the Beginnings of Agriculture to Classical Antiquity; A Survey (1976 HC), Stuart Piggott, $5
Chivalry: The Everyday Life of the Medieval Knight (1989 HC), Leon Gautier, $5
Imperial Rome (1962 SC), Martin P. Nilsson, $5
Perdido Street Station (2003 PC), China Mieville, $2
Redwall (1998 PB), Brian Jacques, $2
Roman Arabia (1994 SC), G. W. Bowerstock, $10
Star Trek: First Frontier (1995 PB), Diane Carey and Dr. James I. Kirkland, $2
Star Trek: Sarek (1995 PB), A. C. Crispin, $2
Star Trek: Strangers from the Sky (1987 HC), Margret Wander Bonanno, $3
Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982 PB), Vonda N. McIntyre, $2
The Holy Roman Empire (1966 SC), Viscount James Bryce Bryce, $10

Central Casting: Heroes of Legend [Shelf Worn], $40
Heroes: The Role-Playing Magazine Vol. 1 No. 1, $10
Heroes: The Role-Playing Magazine Vol. 1 No. 2, $10
Heroes: The Role-Playing Magazine Vol. 1 No. 3, $10
Heroes: The Role-Playing Magazine Vol. 1 No. 4, $10
Heroes: The Role-Playing Magazine Vol. 1 No. 5, $10
Heroes: The Role-Playing Magazine Vol. 1 No. 6, $10
Judge Dredd: The Role-Playing Game [Games Workshop Boxed Set], $20
The Armory’s 30 Sided Dice Gaming Tables [Black Cover] $75
The Compleat Alchemist [Wizards of the Coast Edition], $10

[Labyrinth Critical] Amazon Racial Class

Here is the Amazon Race for my version of Labyrinth Critical, based on the Amazon class from No Signal. In my LC, all non-Humans have a racial class, however, they can add one or more of the seven standard classes to this by multiclassing. By my multiclassing rules, the character adds together all the XP requirements for his race and classes and advances in level in all as a single unit. All non-Humans are limited to 12th level. Multiclass humans are limited to 15th level. Only single-class Humans are unlimited in level advancement.

Amazons [Race]
: CHA 9
Prime Requisites: STR and CHA
Hit Dice: d6
Fights As: Fighter
Saves As: Fighter

These canny warriors are all Human-like women of heroic proportions, hailing from deep in the Jungle Planets, and the jungles of the worlds they’ve colonized in secret. They are deadly as they are beautiful. They are usually led by the mightiest Amazon Swordmistress, or more rarely, an Amazon Priestess or Amazon Witch.

Amazons look like Human women of statuesque build, none standing less than 6’ tall with heroic proportions. As one should never ask an Amazon her weight, their typical weight range is unknown, save that it is usually most appropriate to cut a proper figure for her height. Skin and hair color can vary dramatically, including wild colors not normally seen in Human variations.Amazons can use all weapons, armor and shields. They may also use magic weapons, armor, potion, and rings.

Amazons begin play speaking Amazon, Common, and their Alignment Tongue.

Battle Dancer: An Amazon adds her Charisma bonus to her AC; this bonus is in addition to any Dexterity bonus. If her battle motions are complemented by appropriate musical accompaniment, she gains a +1 to +3 to her AC depending on the quality of the accompaniment.

Advanced Seduction: Though anyone can attempt to seduce a target with the normal Seduction Skill, Amazons have a more potent ability, combining standard seduction methods with ancient Amazonian secrets and judicious application of special pheromones. The Amazon may use this special seduction ability only once per day, plus a number of times per day equal to her Charisma bonus. The seduction target must be male, or of an appropriate orientation in terms of romantic interest. The chance to succeed is based on the time taken to seduce the target: one hour is an Average check, one turn a Hard check, one minute a Difficult check, and one round a Very Difficult check. If the attempt to seduce fails, the Amazon cannot try on the same target until she gains another level. If the attempt succeeds, the effect is most potent, as per the charm person spell. Beginning at 7th level she may use this ability as though it were the charm monster spell. Seduce Skill: Base = STR + INT + CHA; plus (5 + CHA Modifier) per level after 1st.

Advanced Survival: Amazons undergo intensive survival training from childhood. A Survival Skill check can be used to successfully hunt and forage enough food for once day for a number of people equal to the Amazon’s INT + WIS Modifiers plus 1d6; the number rolled on the die is the number of hours the search takes. If the roll is negative, the Amazon has a random encounter! Survive Skill: Base = INT + WIS + CHA; plus (5 + WIS Modifier) per level after 1st.

Missile Deflection: When equipped with bracers of either a mundane or magical nature, an Amazon may attempt to deflect an otherwise successful missile attack by a save vs. Breath Weapon before damage is rolled. In order to deflect missiles, an Amazon may not be equipped with shield. Also, as the Amazon’s hands must be free to deflect missiles, she will reflexively drop whatever is held as if surprised. A single deflection attempt may be attempted per successful attack, but there is no daily limit to the total number of deflection attempts per day. Any projectile that attacks vs. AC, such as normal or magical arrows, crossbow bolts, or sling bullets may be deflected. In addition, Sky God technology weapons such as gunpowder propelled bullets, lasers, or energy beams may also be deflected. Missiles from spells like magic missile or lightning bolt cannot be deflected, or projectiles of unreasonably large size such as catapult ammunition or boulders hurled by giants.
Reaching 9th Level: When an Amazon reaches 9th level she can establish a freehold called a Gynocracy. Because of her glorious deeds and renown, she will attract followers of the female persuasion (mostly Amazons, but also of other races) and Wookies (of either gender).

Amazon Multiclass Options
Amazon/Cleric = Amazon Priestess
Amazon/Doxy = Amazon Wench
Amazon/Fighter = Amazon Swordmistress
Amazon/Magic-user = Amazon Witch
Amazon/Psychic = Amazon Medium
Amazon/Pioneer = Amazon Skirmisher
Amazon/Thief = Amazon Bandit

[Labyrinth Critical] First LC One Shot

So last night we played our Saturday Night Game… actually we got to play two games. As Robbie still needed to roll up his character for the new 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons campaign, while he was working on that, I put the players through a bit of an experiment. I’ve been toying with my own variation of No Signal’s Labyrinth Critical system, and wanted to try a quick run of the rules. So I had all the players roll up Labyrinth Critical characters for a one-shot adventure, in a campaign region I've pieced together from No Signal's Exit 42a post and Jeff Rient's Welcome to Slimy Lake article from Fight On! #6.

Circa, an Amazon from the City of Thunders (Hans)
Hudson Hugebeard, a Dwarf from the City of Blackhawk (Zell)
She That Shall Not Be Named, a Planetary Ape Chimpanzee from the Great Spineywood (Jessie)
Sssselvan the Almost-Evolved, a Lizardman from the Mercenary Coast (Robbie)

What was that?” – Last words of the pilot of the I.S.S. Sweet Chariot

The I.S.S. Sweet Chariot, a modified and re-fitted GC-8 Interplanetary Shuttle (bought second-hand by the Second Imperial Slavers Allied League of Guilds from Xenu’s Pre-Owned Skyship Warehouse before the fall of the Vulkin Empire) was en route from the Sovereign Imperial Slavers Guilds of the North (aka the Slaver Kingdoms) laden with tribute, guild dues, and travel reimbursement claims for the Southern Concatenated Imperial Slavers Guilds when it ran into “extreme turbulence.” Or so the report was made by the ambassador from the Remulan Orbital Authority to his counterpart at Slave Market One, the capital of the Slavers Empire, for such was the assurance of the cloaked Remulan Warhawk fighter pilots who saw the whole thing through their battle screens from slightly above and behind the shuttle.

The subsequent continuation of tribute from the Slavers Empire to the ROA did little to assuage the pains suffered by the victims of the turbulence. The vast majority of them, of course, were dead. Of the four survivors, they knew and cared little for the political wrangling of the great empires, and shortly after their hard landing felt only relief at being alive and, apparently, no longer subject to the odious duress of slavery, for all of their captors were messily spattered on the insides of the shuttle cabin.

It was when the four of them stumbled out of the great rent torn in the cabin wall that their joy was turned to ashes, for they discovered that the ship had crashed somewhere south of the middle of nowhere, said location being well within the boundaries of what was more commonly known as the Forbidden Waste. The sun slowly rose to reveal rocky and sandy wastes to the north and west, strangely lush green plains to the east, arid rocky hills to the south, and to the north… well, more arid, rocky hills interspersed with more rocky and sandy wastes. Circa the Amazon thought she could see a large lake far to the north and east, though she surmised that such must, of course, be a mirage; while on the verge of her vision to the north and west, a long black ribbon through the waste, perhaps a Sky God Toll Road.

As the four slowly realized their dilemma, literally being dropped out of the frying pan into the fire, they took stock of what they possessed. Sssselvan was the first to suggest a thorough looting of the ruined vessel. The following items were found scattered between the main cabin and the cargo hold:

A tool box (missing the #10 Metric wrench);
A mace with a large red button on the hilt;
A grenade of unknown variety;
A large crate marked “One Pre-Imperial Era Earthican Machine Gun;”
A sweet portable 8-track player with five “Best Of” tapes: AC/DC, Judas Priest, Billy Squire, Iron Maiden, and Olivia Newton-John;
12 road flares;
A crate of 10 bottles of Remulan Ale;
A motion detector (with the registration number filed off, “Property of USSM Sulaco” struck through, and a tag from “Mad Matt’s Military Surplus” still stuck to the view screen);
A partial case of 14 tins of Dinty Moore Beef Stew;
A machete;
A sack of 13 light sticks (lime green);
A revolver with six rounds in the chambers and a seventh in the pocket of the erstwhile wielder;
A Mark II Laser Pistol (this with a fully-charged belt battery pack integrated with the former Cyborg slaver being forcibly removed by Circa with sharp tools and a hammer);
A holographic chessboard (depicting the New Harlem Globe Trotters versus the Chronos VII Slayers);
A shiv;
A cherry-condition Super-Hawg fresh-grown in the hawg fields of Harley Davidson V;
A GeneriCo Arms 10mm Autorifle with two fully-loaded banana cartridges;
A partially-full Hurry-Heal Hypo-spray unit;
A one-man emergency extraction self-inflating balloon pack;
And 16 bottles of Cool Springs Reconstituted Water.

Dressed only in the rags allotted them by their erstwhile masters, Hudson and She That pieced together a motley assortment of clothing and quasi-armor from the clothing remnants of their former slave and slaver companions. Sssselvan set out to mount the machine gun on the rear seat of the hawg (?!?), while Circa sat down with the toolbox and, with a screwdriver and hammer, proceeded to pry the Slaver Restraining Band off her head. She successfully removed the band, but took with it large chunks of flesh, bone, and hair. As she grew woozy from the pain and blood loss, she and Sssselvan totally missed the stealthy figures who had snuck up on the ruined vessel and secreted themselves among some large rocks fairly close by.

The cry of “Hey you, don’t move!” in heavily-accented Common was the first they knew that they had company.

“Drop all weapons and surrender!” was the second cry they heard, as two of their visitors stepped out from behind the rocks. They were tall and mean-looking Klengon women wearing horned helmets, leather jackets, blue jeans, and knee-high motorcycle boots and holding fancy crossbows.

Laughing maniacally, Circa responded, “What? How are we supposed to drop our weapons if we can’t move?”

“What? You stoopid, is that it?” was the brilliant response from the Klengons.

“I know what you are but what am I?” Circa called out, as she turned and vaporized the lead Klengon with her Mark II Laser Pistol.

Then all hell cut loose, as the other Klengons cried out, “It is a good day to die!” as they loosed their bolts at Circa and Sssselvan, who leapt for cover behind the hawg. Hudson ducked into the rent in the shuttle, drew his rifle, and started firing wildly (being more familiar with an axe than a gun). Weakened by her crazed attempt to remove the slave band, Circa was felled quickly by a lucky bolt. She That flew across the open space between the shuttle and the hawg, dove behind the hawg, and picked up the laser pistol where it had fallen; She That shot wildly at the Klengons until, in her zeal, she accidentally pulled the cable from the battery. Then, finally, as bolts fell around them thick as flies, Sssselvan finally got the machine gun working…

The clatter and thunder of the machine gun drowned out the cries of the Klengons, whose rocky cover was rapidly being reduced by the rapid-fire power of the machine gun. Just as She That got the plug back in the battery, and Hudson finally figured out how to aim his rifle, Sssselvan’s withering fire from the machine gun finished off the last of the Klengons. A Hurry-Heal dose was used to revive Circa, who immediately claimed the best leather jacket for her own (feeling naked without some kind of armor). The four discovered that the Klengons were apparently members of some gang known as the Hellkyries, from the representation of the angel-winged Klengon demoness on the back of the jackets. They decided discretion was the better part of valor and turned the jackets inside-out before they put them on. They also took the crossbows, as well as the mek’leth short swords the Hellkyries had at their belts.

Tracking the steps of the Hellkyries, Circa found five camels tied up in a canyon not too far away; there they discovered several days worth of rations, as well as a goodly supply of Cool Springs Dehydrated Water Pills (Just add water! Not to be taken internally!) After Circa threatened the herd with her laser pistol and getting no results other than further spitting and kicking, Sssselvan applied more direct methods by pressing the button on his mace and touching the biggest camel; one loud and lightning-enhanced shock later and the camel was laid out, subsequently grilled to perfection by the laser pistol, and the remaining four camels were quite docile.

Seeing that the canyon led out into the hard-packed sands of the wastes, Circa slowly led the troop on the hawg, with Hudson riding shotgun (with his rifle), followed by She That and Sssselvan on camels, each with a heavily-laden camel in tow. Later in the evening, when they figured they were perhaps halfway to the blacktop road, they were suddenly attacked by a pack of man-faced lizard-dogs, which immediately attempted to knock them off their mounts. Failing with spectacular failure, to the extent that one of them seemed to suicide beneath Circa’s hawg’s wheels, the troop thought little enough of these foes that they dismounted and proceeded to attack them on foot with the Klengon mek’leths. This is where the battle turned grossly against them, for, as they sadly discovered, while the hounds of horrific heads were no good at knocking them off their mounts, they were much better at their claw/claw/bite routine.

Hudson and Sssselvan quickly fell to the fangs and claws of the beasts, while Circa laid about with the mek’leth and slew several of the lizard-dogs. She did not see what occurred next, as she was viciously engaged, but apparently Sssselvan, his life’s blood spilling out the rent in his belly, decided to try to “take the bastards with him,” and so pulled the pin on the unknown grenade, hoping to go out with a bang. Sadly for She That, it was instead the quiet hiss of a nerve gas grenade, and she and the camels and surrounding lizard-dogs were all instantly felled by the colorless, odorless gas.

When Circa turned from the last of the dog-lizards, she found herself standing alone amidst a field of the dead, with Hudson, guts strewn all about and half-eaten by a lizard-dog, laying at her feet. Carefully observing the remnants of the further battle, she saw a strange shimmer in the twilight air around her fallen companions, the camels, and the hounds. Waiting until the cloud dissipated, she then looted her erstwhile comrades of all things needed for survival, and with a dry eye turned back to the north, to seek the blacktop highway and, perhaps, freedom…

Following the one-shot, we began our new 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons campaign, in my home-grown setting of Varyonde. More about that soon…