The romance of archeology: extract


I’m gonna put a bunch of these extracts on my blog. I fucking love this book. The writing… the entertainment value is incredible!

Magoffin, R.V.D, Davis, Emiy C., The romance of archeology, Garden City Publishing Company Inc., 1929, New York


Chapter One: The spade is mightier than the pen, p10

The recall of the veterans to arms was sponsored by Alcibiades, handsome, aristocratic, very rich, and very clever, and quite the most gifted in effrontery of any Athenian of that time; and in the sequel he proved to be the most debonair of all the plausible rascals of history. The soldiers, and boys under military age, and the discharged veterans all leaped to the call of opportunity. Our veteran in Euboea got together what little he needed, and then, before he left his new little house, he buried in a terra-cotta pot under his floor the balance of his money, among the pieces being a number of the new coins that had been minted that very year and paid to him when he was discharged. He hurried to Athens, was enrolled, and sent on board the fleet which was so eager to go that the ships raced one another down the Saronic gulf, as all the women of Attica on top of the houses at Piraeus waved them bon voyage. The expedition was the greatest debâcle of history. The entire force was killed or captured. The pot of coins, after 2,333 years, turned up accidentally by a spade in 1921, is one of the thousands of pitiful mortalities of that ill-starred expedition now archeologically authenticated.

Session 7 – Tiryki River – day 7


  • Flyzus, Wood Elf Ranger (hunter), Outlander; sole survivor of his tribe after an orc invasion
  • Varis, Drow Rogue (thief), Far traveller; exiled scion of a noble family on the losing side of a feud
  • Droidoc, Halfling Druid (circle of the moon), Outlander; was there when Camp Righteous fell, now he’s a cannibalistic loony

The PCs are now very near their objective (the grung village) but they’ve decided to sidetrack a little, following the clues found on a dead to explorer that lead to a place called “Firefinger“.

Day 7

Angry Green Grung (1)

River – N-C encounter

Brandishing a stick and yelling at them, the green grung standing on a rock didn’t seem too happy to see the PCs. Unfortunately, none of them had any means to understand or communicate with the frogman. (2)

Leeches, they suck

River – Combat

Rapids in the river forced the PCs to portage again but while they were getting their canoe out of the water, two Giant Leeches attacked them. The PCs killed the creatures and kept going, less a pint or two of blood.

I Needed Boots

River – Combat


A huge Constrictor Snake sprang from under the water and tried to get away with one passenger but ever-alert Droidoc reacted quickly, shapeshifting into a snake himself. The confusing battle left once again the PCs as victors. (3)

6 arms is better than 4

Jungle – Camp – Combat

Now the PCs had got out of the river and hid their canoe expertly. They were a day’s walk from the Firefinger they wished to find. Setting camp attracted the attention of a local resident. Varis poisoned bolt hampered greatly the monstrous 4-armed ape’s combat ability. A moment later, after a quick melee, the severely wounded Girallon tried to flee but the PCs, as usual, were having none of it.

Day 8, morning (end of session)


Jungle- Combat

Walking through the dense vegetation, the PCs spotted two parrotbears (4) a mere 200 feet away. The pair was moving directly toward them so the PCs prepared for battle. First, Droidoc cast a Spike Growth spell. One parrotbear moved directly through it, taking full damage, while the other circled around. Varis and Flyzus shot at range the wounded beast, killing it. The surviving parrotbear, far from dissuaded, charged its foes but soon rejoined its mate as worms food.


DM’s notes

  1. Grungs or gripplis, I don’t really care, all I know is that I don’t want them to be yet another evil humanoid race
  2. Just a bit of foreshadowing
  3. we we’re playing sunday morning with a 12 hrs session the day before, this part is a little hazy for me…
  4. refluffed owlbears, cause jungle…

Session 7- Tiryki River – day 6


  • Flyzus, Wood Elf Ranger (hunter), Outlander; sole survivor of his tribe after an orc invasion
  • Varis, Drow Rogue (thief), Far traveller; exiled scion of a noble family on the losing side of a feud
  • Droidoc, Halfling Druid (circle of the moon), Outlander; was there when Camp Righteous fell, now he’s a cannibalistic loony

Day 6

Old River King

Crocodile head, Siem Reap Croc farm, Cambodia.

River – N-C encounter

A Giant Crocodile was basking in the morning sun on the riverbank. Oddly, a shotel (sword) was protuding out of its scaly back. Tempting, huh? (1) Well, Droidoc got up to the task. He shapeshifted into a rodent, jumped unto the giant lizard, unshapeshifted, managed to get the weapon free, reshapeshifted, tumbled down before the mildly-annoyed-but-also-kinda-relieved Old River King decided to swallow him whole. (2)

Pristine Waterfall, Naked Elf

Waterfall – Combat

Me: There’s a waterfall in view, you’ll have to portage again.”

Player C: “A waterfall? There must be a cave behind. There always is!”

Me: “Yeah, yeah, sure. It looks like there’s one!

Me, grinning evilly: “Soooo, who’s first?”

Players C and D: “Flyzus!”

Player F, a bit unsure: “Okay, I guess.”

Me: “You go through the waterfall and BlOoooOOOooooOoP *mime floating*…”

Player D: “Gelatinous Cube!”


Flyzus was in a really bad spot (3). Droidoc and Varis slashed and bashed the ooze but to the Wood Elf it seemed like an eternity. Two times the druid healed him in extremis before he died from acid damage. Finally the Gelatinous Cube was defeated, releasing his now-naked and shaking prey.

Dinosaur Stampede

River – Combat

A few hours later, the relative tranquility of the jungle was shattered by an incredible ruckus, as a herd of brontosaurs crossed the river at full speed! The reason soon became apparent to the PCs:  BIG ASS MOSQUITOES! Or stirges rather, dozens, harassing the dinosaurs.  A few of these bloodsuckers spotted the adventurers and split from the main swarm. The PCs dispatched the nuisance effortlessly.

Light is Fast and Evil

Camp – Combat

Some kind of battle had happened there; rusted armors, broken weapons, but no corpses or bones. Ominous. But the PCs badly needed to rest (Flyzus in particular) so they set up camp. Varis was on duty and he saw light, two lights in fact, fast approaching. He quickly woke his companions and then the two light-creatures were upon them. The PCs weren’t sure what they were facing (4) but they soon got their hands full. The lights were really hard to hit and gave generous doses of shocking attacks. In the end, the adventurers prevailed but it was a hard-fought battle.

DM’s notes

  1. kinda like excalibur, or maybe not
  2. yay! a better sword for Flyzus
  3. The joy of a first time with a Gelatinous Cube!
  4. will-of-the-wisps

Session 7 – Tiryki River – day 4 & 5


  • Flyzus, Wood Elf Ranger (hunter), Outlander; sole survivor of his tribe after an orc invasion
  • Varis, Drow Rogue (thief), Far traveller; exiled scion of a noble family on the losing side of a feud
  • Droidoc, Halfling Druid (circle of the moon), Outlander; was there when Camp Righteous fell, now he’s a cannibalistic loony

The first few days weren’t uneventful by any margin, but being closer to Port Nyanzaru, things weren’t so rough either.  By the fourth day on the river Tiriki though, the three adventurers had some close calls…

Day 4


River – Ambiance


Piles of bones on the shores with humanish footsteps around gave the cue: ghoul territory…


Portage – Jungle – N-C challenge – Combat

Droidoc failed to notice the danger and sank waist deep into a quicksand. The two (flimsy) elves threw him a rope but that wasn’t enough as something was holding onto him. They could see a clawed hand clasped to his back. After the creature began to rake him with its claws, the Halfling got really, really pissed off and he shapeshifted into a giant frog, quickly swallowing his assailant (a ghoul, of course) before disappearing under the surface. His companions were understandably upset for it seemed that quite some time had passed but then, sand erupted into a spectacular geyser as the giant frog jumped out of his predicament!


Floating Cadaver

River – Ambiance

Its face in the water, both its legs missing, the PCs didn’t bother and (wisely) stayed clear of the floating body.

Sometimes Darkvision is not Enough

River – Combat

Not very warm to the idea of making camp on friggin‘ ghoul territoty, the PCs opted to paddle all night- or rather- Varis would paddle all night while his companions slept (!) on the canoe. That… did not went that well… Sure enough the Drow had no trouble seeing at night but- maybe it was sleep deprivation (1)- he couldn’t react fast enough when an assassin vine attacked him viciously from above. At least, his panicked and womanly screams did wake up Flyzus and Droidoc as their canoe went without direction. The dangling Varis soon lost consciousness as the plant’s lethal poison coursed through his veins. Fortunately, Droicoc could save him before it was too late, as he climbed up the tree in gorilla-form and applied much strength so that the drow fell in the river. Flyzus picked him up and they all fled further away, having survived one more day…

Day 5

Riverside Ruins

River- Combat

Having put ghoul territory behind, the PCs felt they could do a bit of exploration. They had spotted some ruins, visible from the river. Crumbled walls and toppled columns, the site invaded by the surrounding vegetation, it sure felt like it could hide something interesting. Moving cautiously around so they could take a peep inside, the 3 companions could see someone standing idly aside a column. The stranger turned to face them, a yellow flower was emerging from one of his orbit instead of an eye.

Musk Creeper” whispered the Halfling druid.

They started to shoot at the zombie but then Varis was distracted by an irresistible fragrance nearby that lured him toward the monstrous plant. Fortunately, he regained control of himself before he was turned into yet another zombie and together with Flyzus and Droidoc he slashed the Musk Creeper into pieces. They searched the now inert body of a dead explorer and rummaging through his stuff they found a map along with some notes that referred to a “Firefinger” (2).

Deinonychus Ambush

Portage – Combat


Portage in the jungle is always a tense affair. This time the PCs were being followed by half a dozen deinonychus. The Elf ranger could figure that the predators had some kind of ambush prepared. The PCs could see a large fell tree, a perfect spot for a few more of the beasts to wait for them. Droidoc decided to take the initiative, he shapeshifted into a deinonychus himself and jumped on the tree to issue a challenge. He then pounce on one of the raptor, savaging him enough to make him flee. He then duelled the apparent pack alpha in a flurry of claws and bites. He had the upper hand and gained the acknowledgement of the pack as the new, albeit temporary, leader (and an escort to the river).


River- Combat

A Mantrap (monster plant again!) tried to lure the PCs nearer to the shore where it waited. Almost worked with Varis (3).

It can wait until morning

Camp – Combat

It was Flyzus’ turn awake while his companions slept, some ruckus alerted him and there he stood in front of a beautiful nubile woman with her leg in the bear trap that he had set… She asked for his help… Plaintively… He looked at the wounded leg, he looked at the attractive lightly-clad female, and he said: “it can wait until morning” !!! (4)

She had other plans… Discarding disdainfully the bear trap, she let down her apparently useless magical disguise to reveal a Sea Hag. She clawed angrily at the elf but he was too nimble. Flyzus was soon joined by the sleepy Varis and Droidoc and together they killed the ugly creature even as she attempted to dive in the river to flee.

The rest of the night was uneventful.

DM’s notes:

  1. he got a 1!
  2. exploration should be rewarded with riches (even in 5E), or at least, lead someday to riches.
  3. Varis’ player always roll bad against plant creatures it seems. The drow must have allergies or something!
  4. Flyzus’ player, poor young Félix, had no idea what to do… We had a good laugh!


The Fun in Fungus (magic: the gathering)

A few weeks ago I tried MtG for the first time. I’d never played in my youth (it seems like you choose either tabletop gaming or card gaming, rarely both). My good friend, who was nostalgic about his own gaming past, introduced me to this famous money pit (what a friend hey!). He explained me the basics and we had time to play twice The first time, and most interesting from my pov, was with bare-minimum dominaria decks.

I had a black and green deck, with not much going on with the notable exception of FUNGUS!

Here’s some cards I had:


That sufficed to make me like the game as I’ve been quite fascinated by anything mycology-related for a while now. In fiction, since I read the Ambergris books from Jeff Vandermeer and before that in gastronomy, when my wife and I became wild mushrooms enthusiasts.

The M:tG Thallids (how the fungus creatures are called) seems to have much more impactful art and concepts than their D&D Myconids counterpart and I will certainly steal a few things for my Ruins of Chult campaign!

Sadly I don’t own this big guy… Yet!


Session 7- Tiryki River – day 2 & 3


  • Flyzus, Wood Elf Ranger (hunter), Outlander; sole survivor of his tribe after an orc invasion
  • Varis, Drow Rogue (thief), Far traveller; exiled scion of a noble family on the losing side of a feud
  • Droidoc, Halfling Druid (circle of the moon), Outlander; was there when Camp Righteous fell, now he’s a cannibalistic loony

Day 2

Is it still waste?


After slaying (most of) the gnolls, the victorious PCs entered the river and a few hours later come upon a grisly scene: an entire herd of hadrosaurs had been decimated. It wasn’t hard to guess that the gnolls had killed the beasts, taking meat and leaving most  to rot.


A dozen velociraptors were doing the best they could before something bigger got there. The PCs didn’t stay to see what it would be…


Friendly Frogs- Portage


The party had to get out of the water for a portage, unfortunately 2 giant frogs were in the way. Unfazed, the Halfling druid cast the animal friendship spell and the two dangerous beasts let them pass without harm.

Uneventful first night in the outside on a small island in the middle of the river that was indicated by a fisherman earlier

Day 3

In Shallow Territory

Social (1)


Paddling for a few hours in the morning, the PCs were met by an eblis who advised to take a side affluent, saying that it would be impossible to go further on the main river. He asked for “shiny things” for his well-timed advice.

After a moment of hesitation, the PCs did choose to follow the eblis’ advice and got on shallow waters full of reeds. Not much further, another eblis proposed to sell them “beautiful and magical feathers” and Varis fell for it.

Deeper in what look more like a marsh, a third eblis whispered an offer to raid a nearby nest while he did a diversion and split the content between them. The PCs declined and forged ahead.

By then, Droidoc had had enough of the shady eblis and when yet another one approached, he threw a javelin at it! (2)

Combat: 1 eblis

The eblis cast a Hypnotic Pattern spell, it briefly affected Flyzus. It then attempted to fly away but was instead shot down. The PCs then cut through the dense vegetation to get back on the main river and away from those damn birds!

Octopus vs Plesiosaur!

Combat: 1 plesiosaur


A river plesiosaur broke the surface of the water and savagely mauled the surprised Varis. Droidoc shapeshifted once more into a giant octopus and grappled the marine reptile while the elves slashed at it with swords. The severely wounded beast tried to get away but the octopus did not let go until it was dead.

Uneventful night on the pebble river bank

DM’s notes.

  1.  My eblis were more akin to peddlers. Neutral evil peddlers.
  2. Sometimes violence is indeed the solution!
  3. The fisherman’s tip and the animal friendship both removed a combat situation and that’s perfectly okay, the PCs got xp for it.


Session 7- Tiryki River – 1st day


  • Flyzus, Wood Elf Ranger (hunter), Outlander; sole survivor of his tribe after an orc invasion
  • Varis, Drow Rogue (thief), Far traveller; exiled scion of a noble family on the losing side of a feud
  • Droidoc, Halfling Druid (circle of the moon), Outlander; was there when Camp Righteous fell, quite insane now

Prelude: We’ve been waiting for you…

Combat: 6 thugs

Last session saw the Seven associates capture a pirate ship, the infamous Stirge. Now back in Port Nyanzaru, Flyzus and Varis went to the open market in Tiriky’s Anchorage to spend some hard-earned money. Ennemies were waiting for them: Bridgerunners. The gang members wanted revenge against the two elves for raiding their den in Malar’s Throat. Outnumbered 3 to 1, the situation seemed dire as the thugs approached on two sides. However, Varis, ever the sly one, spotted Purple Stranglers nearby (members of a rival gang affiliated to dye works). He convinced them easily of the outrage! that the presence of these rivals in this part of town meant… Also, for some undisclosed reason, one-time partner Droidoc was following the Purple Stranglers and quickly joined the fun. The Bridgerunners should have taken the cue, but… they didn’t.  The fight was  one-sided and bloody affair. The two elves and halfling were rather merciless, shooting the fleeing thugs in the back and finishing another helpless entangled  one.

River Journey


Having seen firtshand their martial prowesses and ruthlessness in display, the local leader of the Purple Stranglers offered the PCs a job. Their boss, “prince” Jessamine had a lucrative deal with a tribe of Grungs. In exchange for their high quality pottery and rare jungle herbs, she provided the Grungs with goods they didn’t produce (i.e iron knives). But now, the last shipment was two weeks overdue. Would the PCs like to go see what the f*** is going on?

(Payment (1) includes 400gp each and 25% discount on herbal decoctions on Jessamine’s stock) Upon agreeing, the PCs have to go up the Tiriki river for a weeklong journey before arriving into the grungs’s territory.


Saving the Little Mermaid (2)

Combat: 2 thugs, 1 veteran

A canoe was prepaid for them at the anchorage but once they got there the PCs saw an unusual scene, 3 Flaming Fists were harassing a captured female merfolk.


The PCs immediately proceeded to attack the mercenary scumbags, a spike growth softening them up before Flyzus and Droidoc got into brutal melee (with the sneaky drow shooting his crossbow from the side). They killed and looted the mercenaries, untied the emotional and grateful merfolk and then happily got aboard their canoe.


Something Fishy

Combat: 3 sahuagins

The PCs had been on the river (the bay at this point) for a few hours when they saw a derelict fishing boat farther away. Upon closing in they could see a limp arm dangling from the side of the boat. Still closer (they decided to inspect), they could see obvious signs of a struggle, the arm was in fact severed, the sail was all ripped, blood smears everywhere and 2 shark teeth oddly embedded in the mast.


They didn’t have time to reflect on this as 3 sahuagins surprised them (still on their canoe). 2 sahuagins embarked on the fishing boat, one holding a spear, the other a shark tooth sword. The third one stayed underwater and shook the PCs’s canoe violently, sending an unbalanced Flyzus in the water. Droidoc shapeshifted into a giant octopus (3) and went against the other sahuagins while Varis helped Flyzus get back onboard. Overcoming the initial surprise, Flyzus and Varis killed on opponent with their combined projectiles as Octopus/Droidoc turned the waters red with another. The surviving sahuagin tried to flee but the Octo-Doom quickly overcame him too.

Loot: obsidian knife, shark tooth sword, 4 silver earrings, seashell necklace

One less War Canoe

Combat: 4 witherlings, 13 gnolls, 1 Gnoll Pack Lord

The PCs had heard from local rumors in town about a gnoll camp being erected on the eastern side of the river, and sure enough they saw it, bustling with activity, and worst still, they could smell the horrible emanations of putrescent meat, dejections, etc. , as they passed by and away. What they didn’t expect was to come head to head with an incoming war canoe as they got out of the bay in the river proper. The leader, a Gnoll Pack Lord, shouted some orders and set his crew on an interception trajectory, tireless witherlings rowing in cadence (4).

Far from panicking from the sight of ravenous gnolls approaching, the PCs quickly planned a lethal strategy that started with the halfling casting a spike growth directly on the war canoe (5). Droidoc then got busy, jumping underwater and shapeshifting once more into a giant barksinned octopus while the elves rowed to the shore, so they could defend themselves more efficiently. Some gnolls were good archers and Varis was severely wounded as a result. The 4 witherlings got destroyed by the magical thorns while they rowed. the Pack Lord have had enough and ordered his crew to abandon ship and swin for the shore. Do I have to say that it gave great pleasure to the Eight-Armed Droidoc? He spotted the Pack Lord and completely owned him while his clueless packmates were being shot by the elves as they swam.

Only 6 gnolls got ashore but it could still have meant the end for the two Elves but they managed to prevail with brilliant swordplay (6). Two gnolls managed to flee (7).

Loot: Ivory Armband, bag of precious stones, dinosaur meat

Tej House


The PCs reached their first planned stop, a well-protected tej house. The clients, mostly chultan fishermen, were happy to learn of the gnoll’s débâcle and offered free drinks and a few good tips to the would-be explorers.


DM’s notes

  1. Varis’s player could have bargained a much better reward, he messed up with his maths… Ha! ha!
  2. Saw that image on pinterest and immediately thought about putting it in play
  3. I said half-jokingly later in the session that the giant octopus was the star of the day! This rarely seen beast-form performed AMAZINGLY well.
  4. For this planned encounter, I was guessing that the PCs would flee (with quick-thinking and a few athletics checks) the 18 strong war canoe… But no! Ultra Chaotic Droidoc went full aggro as soon as he could!
  5. I was somewhat lenient with the spell, ruling that the gnolls couldn’t properly manoeuver their war canoe without “moving” so about half of them took damage each round.
  6. Flyzus hunter’s feature: horde breaker,  is ideal in ta fight like this
  7. They are on the wrong side of the river if they wish to get back at their camp so there’s no short-term menace.