The Mushrooms Go to war!

image: Erol Otus

A Russian nursery rhyme:

Borovik, mushroom white,

Colonel of the mushroom might,

Sitting under a large oak

Looking at his mushroom folk

Summoned them, ordered them

To go to war

We can’t go, said the ink-caps,

Our foot’s too small for the steps.

We don’t have to go to war.

We can’t go, said the belianki,

We are noble white dvorianki.

We don’t have to go to war.

We can’t go, said the toadstools,

We are brigands, we are crooks.

We don’t have to go to war.

I can’t go, said the morel

I am too old and not too well.

I don’t have to go to war.

Said the russet ryzhiki,

We are simple muzhiki.

We don’t have to go to war.

We’ll go, cried the groozd,

We are brave and willing.

We shall go to war

And make a great killing.

Lonely Vampyre

With my previous post you could think I don’t like The Ruins of Undermountain but that’s not the case, there’s a lot of clever stuff in its pages.

One location/encounter in particular reminded me how much I like unlikely allies as a DM. I’m not talking about factions (which are nice too) but monsters or seemingly evil characters that, under certain circumstances, can bond with the PCs. I like it but I also know from experience that Players are absolutely thrilled by it!

But here’s the one I’m talking about here (1991’s spoiler I guess):

This vampyre was once a female human merchant of Waterdeep, Spadreera Omarkhont. She now appears as a slim, svelte, beautiful (but dirty) creature clad only in ash-covered tatters, her eyes glittering with red fire and much of her hair all burnt away.

Yeah, she’s a fire vampire.

Spadreera is lonely, more than anything else. She’d like to chat and gossip about Waterdeep regularly, with someone she could regard as a friend and will try to befriend any beings who survive her initial attack, and cease hostilities when she offers to. PCs who befriend Spadreera never need fear attack from her again. She will not accompany PCs out of the dungeon, and is reluctant even to leave her lair but she will meet PCs at agreed-upon places elsewhere on this level, and even aid them against encountered monsters. She does not appreciate being used, however PCs would be wise not to try to dupe her into fighting every other monster on this level. Spadreera will plead to any befriended creatures for visits as often as possible! In return, she can guard treasure for PCs, give them all the (sadly outdated) information she knows about the intrigues and secrets of Waterdeep, and give them advice on trade (she was a very shrewd merchant). Her lair can become a hideout and safe house for PCs, if they conduct themselves in the right manner.

She’s still a monster in some way but:

Spadreera’s alignment and tendencies are overruled by her loneliness; she will look for prey and opportunities to unleash her cruelty elsewhere, among the monsters that roam this level, and never harm PC friends. She will even nurse injured PCs faithfully back to health without attacking them!

What an interesting NPC!

Do you know of any other cool unlikely ally?

The Wizard inside a Stuffed Beholder

I was skimming through AD&D Ruins of Undermountain, just to see how it compares with 5E Dungeon of the Mad Mage, and I stumbled upon this:

Old Xoblob’s shop

The shop is named for the stuffed, eyeless beholder that hangs from the ceiling inside. Aside from being a curiosity in itself, the beholder conceals a hired wizard who can fire a wand of paralysis out of the dust-covered eye tyrant’s mouth.

I chuckled to myself when I read this. Just picture the poor guy, hidden in a stuffed beholder, twiddling his thumbs ALL DAY LONG!

Adventurers won’t steal from Xoblob’s shop so easily.

Dandalus will trade with whoever comes through the gate. He makes no enemies, he merely charges more for services to those attackers or doublecrossers. Dandalus always takes the following precautions: he wears a ring of spell turning, a ring of free action, and a greenstone amulet; he always carries two potions of extra-healing, an elixir of health, two iron bands of Bilarro spheres, and six beads of force in his pockets.

The shopkeeper will charge more for services to attackers…

A magic shop, a wizard bored out of his mind and a shopkeeper that EXPECTS to be assaulted by his usual clients…

Hilarious nonsense.

Three Kingdoms – Vol IV – Extract – Foreshortening the Land

The Chinese classic Three Kingdoms is one of a kind historical novel. An epic drama, mostly about warfare and governing; here and there we can find interesting fantasy tidbits.

As the Wei cavalry raced after the procession, they noticed a chill wind blowing in little gusts and an icy mist spreading around them. They pursued strenuously for another stage but failed to catch up with Kongming, The soldiers reined in and said in amazement, « How strange! There they are still –we’ve gone thirty li without catching them! What do we do? » When Kongming saw that the pursuers had stopped, he ordered the porters to rest facing the enemy. After a long pause, the northerners resumed the chase; and Kongming returned to his wagon and began moving with studied slowness. The northerners pursued another twenty li but never reached their objective. Dumbstruck, they watched as Kongming had the wagons turn round again and advance toward them. The Wei troops wanted to pursue. But at that moment Sima Yi arrived with a company and issued an order: « Kongming’s marvelous skill with Eight Gateways and the « Taboo Days » formula has enabled him to control the Six Ding deities and the Six Jia deities. As he is now using the technique « Foreshortening the Land » from the divine text of the Six Jia, the army cannot overtake him. »

Magic Items – Chult- II

Here’s a few more homebrewed magic items that have appeared in my campaign recently. The Warclub of Death is based on one of my son’s ideas. He’s awesome!

Cloak of the Dragonfly

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wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)

While flying, your speed is increased by 10′. Additionally, Stirges are very reluctant to attack you and won’t do so unless absolutely cornered.

Boots of Bug Squashing

téléchargement (1)

wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)

As a bonus action, you can make a (strength) melee attack against an insect-type creature (or swarm) for 2d6 + str damage.

Poniard of the Ancient One

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weapon (dagger), rare

This + 1 dagger has 3 charges. When you hit with an attack, as a free action, you can expand a charge to paralyze the target for 1 round (constitution save DC 12). The poniard regains all of its charges after a long rest.

Warclub of Death (probably yours)

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weapon (club), very rare (requires attunement)

This is as a Nine Lives Stealer +2 club.

Curse, Atavistic Instinct: While attuned to the Warclub of Death, you can’t stand the idea of wearing any clothing or armor.

Three Kingdoms – Vol III- Extract – Rattan-Armored Soldiers

The Chinese classic Three Kingdoms is one of a kind historical novel. An epic drama, mostly about warfare and governing; there and there we can find interesting fantasy tidbits.

« There is a kingdom that can defeat the Riverlanders. » « Where? » asked Meng Huo. « To the southeast, seven hundred li from here, » the chief responded. « The Black Lance kingdom. Their chief, Wutugu, is some twelve spans tall, eats no grain, and survives on live snakes and vicious animals. His body is covered with scales no arrow or blade can pierce. The men in his command have rattan armor made from vines that grow in the ravines and wind around their rocky walls. Natives pick the vines, soak them in oil for half a year, then dry them in the sun. After being thoroughly dried, they are returned to the oil. The vines are dried and soaked this way ten times before being made into armor. The cured rattan keeps the body afloat and dry, as well as safe from arrow and blade; that’s why they’re called « rattan-armored soldiers ».

[…]

The Man warriors swarmed, covering the terrain. The Riverlanders shot their crossbow bolts; but the rattan was impenetrable, and the arrows dropped harmlessly. Neither the strokes of their blades nor the thrusts of their spears could break through it. The Man wielded their sharp knives and steel forks against the Riverlanders, who, unable to defend themselves, eventually withdrew. Wei Yan turned back and rushed to the riverside, where he watched im amazement as the enemy crossed over in full armor: those taken by fatigue simply removed their armor and used it to float across.

[…]

On the sixteenth day Wei Yan led his battle-worn men forth to oppose the rattan-armored Man. Riding an elephant, Wutugu took the lead. He wore a wolf-beard cap decorated with the sun and the moon. Gold and pearls laced his garment, through which his torso’s hard-scaled skin showed. A subtle fire darted from his eyes. Pointing to Wei Yan, he pronounced his malediction. Wei Yan wheeled round and fled again. The Man gave chase in full force. Wei Yan maneuvered around into Winding Serpent Valley as he made for the white flag. Wutugu closed in for the kill; seeing the hills bare, he had assumed he was safe from ambush.

When he reached the middle of the valley, Wutugu saw several dozen wagons with black-painted containers blocking the road. A soldier reported, « This is the Riverlands grain transport route. Your Highness’s arrival has caused them to flee and leave their carts. » Wutugu triumphantly urged his warriors to press the chase to the other end of the valley. There they found no Riverlands troops; but great logs and volleys of rocks crashed down, sealing the exit. Wutugu ordered his men to open the road, He had resumed his advance, when carts of all sizes loaded with burning wood loomed out of nowhere! Wutugu ordered immediate retreat. But from his rear ranks shouts went up: « The exit is blocked by dry tinder, and the carts, filled with powder, are in flames! » Wutugu remained calm because the site was too bare to conceal an ambush.. He ordered his men to escape however they could. Then, lo, from both sides of the valley torches were hurled down, hitting fuses on the ground that ignited iron missiles. The whole valley began dancing wildly with fiery light, and the rattan armor caught fire when touched by the flames. Wutugu and his thirty thousand men perished in Windind Serpent Valley, huddled together in the inferno.

From a hilltop Kongming looked down upon the incinerated men strewn over the valley. Most of them had had their heads and faces pulverized by the falling missiles. An unbearable stench rose from their corpses. Kongming wept and sighed at the carnage. « Whatever service to the shrines of Han this represents, my life-span will be shortened for it », he said. His words deeply touched every officer and man.

Three Kingdoms – Vol III- Extract- Four Poisonous Springs

The Chinese classic Three Kingdoms is one of a kind historical novel. An epic drama, mostly about warfare and governing; there and there we can find interesting fantasy tidbits.

The first, the Spring of the Mute, causes loss of speech; whoever drinks it (though the water be sweet) will perish in ten days’ time. The second, the Spring of Death, is hot, and bathing in it leads to putrefaction of the flesh; death follows after the bones show through. The third, the Black Spring, has somewhat clear water, but a few drops can turn your hands and feet black, and death will follow. The fourth is the Spring of Languor, whose icy water takes away the drinker’s warm breath while his body turns limp as cloth and he perishes. Neither birds not [sic] insects live there. During the Han, the General Who Tames the Deeps passed through; after him, no one.

Session 29 – The Hermit of Kir Sabal

Petite session avec une side-quest spécialement désignée pour le perso d’Olivier, accompagné encore une fois par ses deux jeunes cousins.

  • (Olivier) Leon, (level 5>>6) Human Monk (way of shadow), Outlander, revenu à la vie grâce à Zotzilaha à condition qu’il élimine un esprit renégat, ce qu’il a fait, maintenant libre de faire ce qu’il veut
  • (Isaac) Anfi, (level 6) Locathah Fighter (eldritch knight), Outlander, venu sur la terre ferme en passant par la Caverne-Tunnel, là pour découvrir ce nouvel environnement
  • (Edmond) La Salamandre, peut maintenant changer de taille temporairement et devenir géante

Rusés Raptors

Après avoir entendu parler du Grand Maître d’arts martiaux de Kir Sabal, Leon est résolu à aller le trouver pour apprendre de lui. Accompagné de ses deux compagnons, il traverse le fleuve Olung pour aller ver le Sud. La nuit suivante est mouvementée puisqu’ils doivent repousser une attaque de Deinonychus. En effet, Leon avait aperçu un des raptors sans se douter que celui-ci faisait diversion pour plusieurs de ses compères. (1)

Singe Démoniaque

La journée suivante, les aventuriers doivent se montrer vigilants puisqu’ils frôlent le territoire du Dieu Singe. Et effectivement ils seront confrontés à un de ses soldats.

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Tout d’un coup le sol sous leurs pieds devient du sable mouvant! Mais ce n’était qu’une illusion, devant eux apparaît soudainement la vraie menace: un singe monstrueux! Après quelques échanges de coups, le singe disparaît avant de ré-attaquer par surprise. Cependant, les PJs ont rapidement le dessus et abattent leur adversaire.

Flanc de Falaise

Les aventuriers arrivent à la demeure de l’ermite mais son habitation se révèle difficile d’accès (2).

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Après de l’escaladé périlleuse, des pièges évités de justesse et un combat contre 3 zorbos, les PJs prennent une pause le temps de souffler un peu.

L’Accueil de l’Ermite

C’est à ce moment que le maître des lieux se manifeste, descendant vers eux en lévitant! Il semble content de leur visite et leur offre du thé (3). Ensuite ils les invitent à son dojo pour une petite séance d’entraînement. Leon et Anfi ont un aperçu des vastes pouvoirs du Grand Maître et apprennent des techniques inédites de combat (4).

Notes du DM

  1. un classique à la jurassique park, mais aucun d’eux ne l’a vu!
  2. dans Tomb of Annihilation mais je n’ai rien gardé sauf l’apparence des lieux
  3. ce que les garçons voient d’abord avec suspicion
  4. Olivier s’est empressé de calculer ce serait quoi le potentiel dommage maximum de sa nouvelle attaque…