Role-playing reviews

Reviews related to role-playing games, with a focus on Gods & Monsters, and a bit of superhero gaming.

Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

992 9 September 27, 10 PM

Jerry Stratton, April 23, 2016

Undead Dragon

You meet this in a dark room. How quickly do you change your pants? (by Noir1992 and Sikari888, CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Zah Eil and a few others started feeling tired. The pulsing blue light made them drowsy. They walked up the stairway, to a set of unadorned double doors at the top of the stairs. Eddie said they were probably a secret door on the other side, and not trapped.

They opened the door, and discovered a long hall with glowing green columns on either side, and next to each column a statue of a strange creature: a sphinx, a manticore, a hydra, a harpy, and on and on.

Eddie examined the door to make sure he knew how to open it again if it became necessary; pressing on the door where the lock was on the other side worked it. (They also still haven’t removed the rock holding the door in the blue room open.)

As they discussed what this room was and what to do next, the green glowing lights went out. Owen’s magic light remained, but they still freaked a bit. A few minutes later, the green lights came back on again.

Zah Eil, when he received his spirits that morning asked for two war spirits and two healing spirits. He got the healing spirits, but only one war spirit—and one prophet spirit that he didn’t ask for. He guessed (correctly) that this meant Ishtar wanted him to manifest divine guidance. Looking about this room, he realized that this whole area was the temple section of a larger city. And that meant it was a holy area that he could manifest divine guidance in.

He had the spirit manifest divine guidance. A man’s voice spoke to him.

“Why are you taking a man’s voice?”

“I am not Ishtar. She’s not speaking with you right now. I am Tammuz, and I’m not too happy about that because when she starts calling me Tammuz it means I’m going to die soon.”

“I guessed.”

“Why are you here?”

“Well, I guess, the third tablet?”

“She stole those tablets from Enki. They’re hers. She wants them back. Where are you going now?”

“A third secret, the tablet of music and the arts, waits in the court of the lizard king, beyond the ebon demon, beyond the shrine of the moon, past the temples of the dead, in a city lost, ancient beyond imagining. Look you beyond, and beware, the hidden crossroads and the guardians of the lizard king’s rest.

‘We know where the ebon demon is, and the shrine of the moon, but where is the lizard king?”

“I can’t tell you that because (a) it’s a goddamn riddle, and (b) Enki is all over this place. But haven’t you already seen one?

“Oh, shit, that fresco in the hallway before the urns?”

Zah Eil snapped out of his trance and told everyone they have to go back to the hallway that leads to the urns. About halfway down that hallway is a fresco with a giant flying lizard-man being worshipped by other lizard-men.

Zah Eil told Eddie to look for a secret door there. Eddie couldn’t find one. They all tried looking for a secret door; they couldn’t find one. Zah Eil took out his mace to batter down what remained of the fresco. Owen told him not to destroy the art. Zah Eil was absolutely certain something was behind it.

Owen suggested looking in the urn room again. They looked in the rest of the urns; they were also filled with dust. Zah Eil drew a rough map of the area. He decided that there should be something “north”1. He asked Eddie to look for secret doors on the wall, which was glazed over with stalactite material. Eddie didn’t find any, so Zah Eil smashed the stalactite glaze, partially shattering it. He kept at it, and sure enough, there was a door behind it. More specifically, a large block that could be removed. Eddie pried it out with help from Zah Eil and Alvin. Beyond it was a long dark hallway!

Zah Eil healed his own injuries (all but one), and healed some of Eddie’s lost survival.

Owen cast light on a rock, and tossed it down the hallway; just at the edge of the light he saw the hallway open into a room. They headed toward it. Inside, all they saw was an empty room, and two large piles of dust flanking the far opening on the other side of the room. Zah Eil thought it was probably a guardian, and there might be two on this side as well that they couldn’t see. So they peeked as carefully as they could at the edge of the room, but didn’t see anything on this side. Eddie went in to look for traps. Alvin went in to protect Eddie. And it was a good thing, because as they looked around the room the piles of dust swirled into skeletal lizard warriors with halberds! Eddie was taken by surprise. Alvin realized his Elvish rune sword-hilt was glowing—it has the full ghostly-green blade once again.2 Alvin went into combat frenzy.

The skeletal lizards moved quickly to attack Alvin and Eddie. Riana manifested foxfire on the skeletal lizards; Zah Eil manifested divine favor on the player characters. Combined with a couple of mage bolts from the sorcerors and a sheet lightning from Riana, Alvin and Zah Eil made short work of the two skeletal guardians.

But the rune sword was still glowing. Alvin, still in a frenzy, ran out of the room into the unexamined hallway. Zah Eil tried to follow and tossed Owen’s lit rock ahead of Alvin so that Alvin could see ahead.

Alvin entered another room.

This room was just as decayed and decrepit as the rest of the areas down here. Sitting on a pedestal on the right end of the room was a giant, mummified, desiccated cross between a gargoyle and a lizard man. If it stood it would be over 10 feet tall with huge, parchment-like bat wings springing from its scaly but withered back.

Its head slowly turns to look at you, as its hand reaches out to a large stone tablet in front of it… and it disappears.

Oh, and there are thousands upon thousands of bronze, silver, and gold coins scattered around the now-barren pedestal.

There’s a hallway leading “west”, which is towards the huge room with the altar, but a giant cave-in blocks the way.

Alvin realized the sword is still glowing! The lizard-king is still nearby. But where? Majelica said she can find it using the undead sword and the ashes of the undead in the other room—but she needs a sacrifice! Alvin kept suggesting money, but that isn’t a sufficient sacrifice. It has to be something important, and personal, and preferably related to the purpose, which left out Owen’s suggestion of Riana’s virginity. They also suggested arms, hands, fingers, which would have worked, but no one wanted to go that far. Finally, Zah Eil gave Majelica his holy symbol. It’s the only thing he owns, and without it he can’t do most of his spirit manifestations. And since it’s a holy symbol of Ishtar, and they’re Ishtar’s tablets, it should work.

While Majelica drew the magic circle in ash, Alvin and Owen searched through the coins and found a sword with lizard tails on the hilt. They grabbed it.

Majelica wrote the chant for the ritual; she gave it to Riana to perform because Riana (being a prophet) is better at performing rituals.3

Riana failed her willpower roll by six points, but the player bid seven mojo and so succeeded4. The glowing sword spun around, and pointed… toward the caved-in hallway.

Owen uttered the magic words for the belt of etherealness, and disappeared; he walked through the cave-in; it was about fifteen, twenty feet long; and sure enough, on the other side was the altar room. And the lizard-king was there, preparing clay at the altar.

Owen returned to report what he saw; they decided they needed to hurry before he finished whatever he was doing. Zah Eil rushed away back the way they came; Alvin, Majelica, and Owen scooped up some gold coins and rushed after him.

They ran all the way around. Alvin ran ahead of everyone into the altar room. The lizard-king was already stepping back away from the altar, and the stalactites and stalagmites and stone rose up into a 25-foot tall stone man5; the ground shook as it walked. Alvin rushed ahead to draw its attention away from everyone else. Three blows from the thing, over four rounds, almost killed Alvin6, and destroyed a whole lot of floor. But during those four rounds, Owen and Majelica mage bolted the lizard-king; Owen tried to use the wand of stumbling against the stone giant; Zah Eil, Eddie, and Riana rushed past Alvin and the stone giant to engage the lizard-king in hand-to-hand combat. The lizard-king cared not for their puny (non-magical) attacks.

However, the lizard-king did appear to be affected by this barrage of attacks from all sides, and… disappeared. Zah Eil realizes that the tablet was still here, and he dropped his shield, grabbed it and ran (as well as he could with a forty-pound tablet) up the stairs and back to the room with the ebon demon statue. He yells at everyone else to run, too. Riana and Eddie followed him. Majelica, Owen, and Alvin ran back into the secret room behind the altar.

The stone giant smashed the altar in two.

In response to Caverns of Thracia session reports: I have been wanting to run Caverns of Thracia ever since I saw it—and probably ever since I heard of it, back in the day when Judges Guild was a producer of myth.

  1. A direction he decided was north, which was, in fact, correct.

  2. The rune sword, picked up in the Lost Castle of the Astronomers, is just a hilt, but what was once the blade glows green when undead is near, and the ghostly green blade can hurt the undead.

  3. Majelica, as a sorceress with the power shift specialty, is better at preparing rituals. A high intelligence, which sorcerors often have, helps in ritual preparation. A high wisdom, which prophets tend to have, is useful for performing them.

  4. And got 300 experience points to boot, at 50 experience a point.

  5. If I’d been thinking, I would have made it take the shape of a stone lizard.

  6. He gained one injury from the attack, after losing all of his survival and verve.

  1. <- Thracia session 3
  2. Thracia session 5 ->