Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I'm going to the Temple and I'm gonna get Healing

One issue that came up in last Friday's Dungeon Crawl Classics game is that of going back to town and going to the temple for clerical healing. It's not covered in DCC so I tried to fall back on DCC's inspiration: D&D. I remembered seeing some guidelines for prices somewhere in the Dungeon Master's Guide, but in the heat of the game I couldn't find it. At the time, I spot-ruled a price of 400 gold pieces, equivalent to the value of a potion of healing.

Later, after the game, I found the section in the original DMG for the price of clerical healing spells.

It's 100 gold for a healing spell.

So, at its simplest, pay 100 gold, get a lay on hands.

However, I wrote this up to provide something a little more detailed. The following rules are meant to provide some additional realism and verisimilitude to the setting. It's little things like this that make the setting feel like a real world.

What the players need to realize is that their characters are not the only people in town who want/need healing, and that there are only so many clerics of level in the temple.

In our campaign, most of the characters worship or pay homage to Justicia, the goddess of justice and mercy.

In Thither, the temple of Justicia is right across the street from a hospital, built by Bo-Mont.
17. Temples to Justicia and Bilgelik. These two new peripteral* temples featuring dozens of gleaming marble columns were built in the last twenty years by wealthy merchant and philanthropist Bo-Mont Oacha.. They are temples to Justicia, Goddess of Justice and Mercy, and Bilgelik, God of Wisdom and Prosperity. The priests and acolytes of these temples endeavor to offer succor for the sick and poor. Their progressive philosophy is very unpopular with the established nobility of the Patricians who occasionally hire mobs of thugs to attack and vandalize the temples and their worshippers.

*peripteral - (of a building) having a single row of pillars on all sides in the style of the temples of ancient Greece.

18. Hospital. Philanthropist Bo-Mont Oacha also constructed this hospital and hired chirurgeons and healing priests of Justicia to tend the wounded gladiators of the arena. The hospital also serves as a school for new healers and chirurgeons.

So, your characters are injured and your own priest is out of healing. You decide go to the hospital (18). You get in line, take a number, and wait in the waiting room for a priest to see you. 

The temple of Justicia has one 4th level priest (Bogot), one 3rd level priest (Ota-Ram), two 2nd levels (Zaki, Kibogo), and three 1st levels (Phaisho, Aie-le, Hachugyu). Each priest takes a turn offering prayers of healing for the sick and injured for two hours each day.

Roll a d12 to determine which priest is on duty today.
  1. Bogot (4th level)
  2. Ota-Ram (3rd level)
  3-4. Zaki (2nd level)
  5-6. Kibogo (2nd level)
  7-8. Phaisho (1st level)
  9-10. Aie-Le (1st level)
  11-12. Hachugyu (1st level)

Next you roll 1d16 to see where you are in line. You have to wait 10 minutes for each person in front of you. If you roll 12 or higher, you are too late. You'll have to be content with herbs, medicines, poultices, leeches, and chirurgery (+1 Hit Point for the day) and come back tomorrow.

If you get in, the priest makes healing checks for each person in front of you. The priest will continue to pray for each person in line until they receive healing, meaning their Disapproval may increment by the time they get to you.  The bad news is that you may not get healing. The good news is that you are only expected to pay a tithe of 100 gold pieces if you actually receive healing. If you do not receive the healing, you are not obligated to offer a tithe.

Absalom is injured and is taken to the temple.
I roll an 11. Hachugyu is on duty today.
Absalom is third in line!

Hachugyu sees to the first person and rolls a 16+1=17. Hachugyu lays on hands for 3 hit dice of healing.

Hachugyu moves to the second person in line. He rolls a 6+1=7. Fail. Disapproval is incremented by 1 to 2.
He tries again: He rolls an 8+1=9. Fail. Disapproval is incremented by 1 to 3.
He tries again: He rolls an 11+1=12. Success! Hachugyu lays on hands for 2 hit dice of healing.

Finally, he comes to Absalom. Chit chats for a bit, asks him where it hurts, etc. He lays his hands on Absalom and offers a prayer to Justicia.
He rolls a 5+1=6. Fail. Disapproval is incremented by 1 to 4.
He tries again: He rolls a 3+1=4. DISFAVOR! 3d4 = 5: Hachugyu must undergo the test of humility. For the remainder of that day he must provide foot-rubs, cook dinner, etc. He's also at -10.
He'll try one more time: He rolls a 4+1-10=-5. ANOTHER DISFAVOR! 4d4 = 5 again. His ability to lay on hands is severely debilitated at -20.
Absalom is not going to get any healing today. Hachugyu tried, but apparently Justicia just has it in for Absalom today.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

"Whither Thither?" Chapter 7 of the Xanthus River Campaign

Our party consists of:
Valerius (Level 1 Warrior)
Absalom (Level 1 Cleric)
Gwen (Level 1 Elf)
Nip (Level 1 Cleric)
Babu (Level 0 Man-at-Arms)
Jack (Level 0 Man-at-Arms)
Shau (NPC)

When we left our intrepid band, they had reached explored the first floor and cellar of the abandoned and supposedly haunted house of Saltmarsh Manor. Behind a secret door in the wine cellar, they found a large room being used as quarters and barracks by pirates, but as yet encountered no pirates. Exhausted and weary of further encounters, they slept the night in the abandoned study on the first floor. After fending off a late-night incursion by goblin explorers, they woke the next morning refreshed.

At dawn, the party decided to send Nip, Babu, Jack, and Shau back to Thither, a 2 hour hike away, to secure proper lodging and to keep Shau safe and out of the way. Soon afterwards, they were surprised to see Gwen, who had followed them from Wince, where they had left her for dead. After a wary examination and test to ensure Gwen was not a zombie or vampire, they proceeded. 

The party returned downstairs, past the pained screaming spell placed upon the top of the stairs to the cellar, past the decaying body of the knight whose armor Valerius now wore, and into the barracks, which was empty. 

After exploring the barracks they entered a smaller room belonging to a leader. Valerius found a locked box hidden under the bed. Smashing open the box sprung a trap, exploding bright blue eye all over Valerius and half the room, causing Absalom to collapse in paroxysms of laughter. Within were discovered five potions and some coins. In addition, Gwen found a spell-book and a long overcoat.

Another door was sealed from the outside and marked "DANGER" in chalk. This room was left unopened. 

Gwen easily found another secret door leading to an underground passage and some caves. 

The party explored the caves and walked under some dripping corrosive slime. Luckily, Absalom was able to neutralize the slime with a miracle from the goddess Justicia.

They soon found a cavern containing several cages. Within the cages were imprisoned slaves, recently captured from the nearby farms, a few had recently traveled with the party from Wince. Guarding the slaves were three lizard-men from the Screaming Swamps and a man in the robes of a wizard. 

The wizard, surprised by the intrusion, called out, "Who the hell are you? Ah-HA! You are wearing my coat! And YOU are covered in blue ink! So my trap worked and you have been caught red-handed stealing my property! KILL THESE INTRUDERS!!"

A fight ensued. The lizard-men were killed, as was the wizard, who died after two failed casting attempts. Absalom took a great blow to the head, reducing his mental faculties and nearly killing him. Gwen, likewise, was nearly killed. Unfortunately, due to Absalom's handicap, the party was bereft of healing. 

The captives were freed. They said others were recently taken aboard the slavers' ship and that they were coming back for the rest. Among the captives were the dwarf named Sausage, Kern the corn farmer, and Rings the animal trainer.

Soon afterwards, voices came from a deeper passage. Fearing discovery, the party fled. Voices, having found the bodies of the wizard and the lizard men, cried out behind them, giving chase. 

The party made its stand in the barracks, creating a choke point at the secret door. 

Valerius and two of the newcomers fought valiantly at the entrance against three pirates. Absalom threw a clay pot of oil on the pirate and then set him aflame. The pirate fled down the stairs, dying. A second pirate fled in fear. The third pirate fought to his end, having been killed by Valerius.

Weary of their brief encounter, the party decided to return to Thither. It was now only two hours past sun-up.  They arrived at their lodging and met Shau and the others only thirty minutes after them. 

The group sought healing at the temple of Justicia but were unable to afford the tithe. They decided to take care of business, exchanging coins and gems at the money-changers for scrip to be used for large purchases within the city. 

On their way back, they encountered a small group of town guards harassing some neophytes of Justicia at the Old South Gate. The neophytes were carrying recently purchased medical supplies back to the temple. With them was a wealthy-looking merchant with his two bodyguards. The town guards pushed and shoved the young neophytes, knocking their load to the ground. 

Valerius, wearing the tabard of Justicia, and Absalom, being an acolyte of Justicia, intervened on the neophytes' behalf, with Sausage, Rings, and Kern backing their play. They stood up to the guards. The guards decided to back down and let them pass. 

The wealthy merchant introduced himself as Bo-Mont Oacha, wealthy merchant and patron of Justicia. He had recently purchased these supplies to provide to the poor and needy people of Thither. He explained that he was a wealthy philanthropist of humble origins who wished to give back to the oppressed of the city, and that the city establishment did not appreciate his efforts to redistribute wealth and power. 

He thanked the party and offered his villa to them for the evening, and invited them to join him for lunch at midday. 

After lunch, the rest of the day was spent conducting business, having potions identified, loot appraised, etc. 

On their way back to the villa, they encountered a mob riot at the Old South Gate. A mob of the poor had heard about the incident this morning and were seeking revenge against the guardsmen and a riot had erupted. Several of the guardsmen saw the party and peeled off to chase them down. The party fled and was able to make it within the safety of the villa gates. 

They spent the night in the villa but never saw Bo-Mont. They woke the next morning and Absalom promptly healed everyone of their injuries. 

They broke their fast with Bo-Mont and explained that they were headed back to Saltmarsh Manor. Bo-Mont expressed surprise for the manor had been abandoned twenty years and was now haunted. Also, slavers were raiding the area and that the party should be careful. The party mentioned the slavers they encountered and Bo-Mont told them that there was a bounty on the slavers and a reward for each captive rescued. 

When asked about the house, Bo-Mont said that the house once belonged to a powerful alchemist named Yithother, who was searching for the secret of the Philosopher's Stone, the ability to turn base metal into gold. The stories say that the old alchemist up and disappeared overnight twenty years ago. The house was utterly abandoned. 

On their way out of the city, the party was forced to make way for a large wagon carrying pleasure slaves from the south. After it passed, one of the slaves was somehow able to kick open the locked door and escape into the bazaar, chased by two guards. The party chose not to intervene.

Once more at Saltmarsh Manor, they decided to explore the top floor. In the east wing, they quickly dispatched two large spiders in a fireplace. Jack, however, was bitten by a spider and paralyzed. In the next bedroom, they found a middle-aged man bound and gagged. Kern the corn farmer went to his aid but fell through the floor and was injured. Rings the animal trainer took a different route and freed him.

The man was named Edmund. He claimed to be Master Yithother's valet and personal assistant. He said that a few days ago, he awoke standing in a closet and that the house was overrun by miscreants and ne'er-do-wells. He was quickly bound and left in this room. He validated that Shau was the master's niece. He also worried about the master's young nephew, William. He hasn't seen either in the last six days, and he is terribly confused and worried as to the current state of the manor.

Upon exploring the west wing, Rings was killed when he investigated a coat which turned out to be infected with a noxious yellow fungus. 

In the attic they came across four bat-winged blood-sicking creatures known as "Stirges". One of the creatures killed Kern before all four creatures were destroyed.

After that, the party prepared itself to re-enter the cellar.



Two things I wished I'd have done differently:
  1. I changed the hyenas in the module to lizard-men. At first they were going to be fish-men, but I changed to lizard-men at the last minute. Now I wished I'd have made them frog-men. I love frog-men!
  2. I should have had the Illusionist spellburn! He's an NPC, he doesn't need those stats! BURN THEM! But I forgot all about that rule. As a result, none of his spells got off and his death was kind of lame. 
Also, one of the key points of the plot is that the pirates are smuggling goods in the dark of night. I just realized that I had my pirates doing their work after dawn. I should have had all ten pirates asleep or at least resting in the barracks. MISSED OPPORTUNITY!!

On the successes side, once again the Cities source book was invaluable! Every encounter in the city was an unplanned random encounter that I was able to seamlessly integrate into the story!

Encounter 1: the party comes across a fight happening between two factions. 

This allowed me to introduce Bo-Mont and his conflict with the patricians of the city. 

Encounter 2: the party encounters a mob riot and is mistaken by both sides as allies for the other side. 

This just worked perfectly to further illustrate the tensions of the city and made it a very real place.

Encounter 3: they witness a slave escaping. Ironic given the storyline with the slavers in Saltmarsh manor, but the bottom line is that owning and selling slaves is legal in Agartha, but capturing Agarthans to sell as slaves is illegal. Anyway, it was totally up to the players to intervene or ignore, and they chose to ignore. Nevertheless, the escaped slave will return!

I should also point out that this week we were joined by special guest star Jeff who was able to play Sausage, Rings, and Kern. Jeff's portrayal of Sausage the Grossly Overweight and Overbearing Dwarf was inspired and hilarious!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Seven Sources of Magic

Agarthan Magic derives its power from the seven supernatural planes of existence, extra-dimensional realms parallel and coterminous with our own. There are various points of access between our world and the seven worlds of magic, allowing creatures, gods, entities, and even the player characters to cross back and forth.

The seven sources of magic are as follows:

  1. The Counterworld
  2. The Otherworld
  3. The Underworld
  4. The Overworld
  5. The Shadowworld
  6. The Innerworld
  7. The Outerworld
The Counterworld, or Mirror Universe, is a parallel dimension to our own. Everything and everyone that exists within our world exists within the Counterworld, only there it is a twisted and evil parody of our existence. The Counterworld is the source of anti-magic and meta-magic spells. The Counterworld can be accessed through magical mirrors and reflective pools.

The Otherworld, also known as Faerie, Fairyland, Elfland, Tir-na-Nog, and by other names, is a realm of thought and energy. There is no physical matter in the Otherworld. The Otherworld is the source of magical animus, creativity, and energy. It is the source of all natural magic and life magic. It is from the Otherworld that elves and fairies come. In our world, these normally ethereal spirits take on mortal form. The Otherworld can be accessed through faerie circles, stone circles, and sacred groves in ancient forests. 

The Underworld or Netherworld, sometimes called Hell, Tartarus, or the Abyss, is a volcanic land of earth and fire, bottomless chasms, and vast chambers. It is a realm of pain and torment and is the source of pain-based magic and diabolism. The Netherworld is the realm of dark gods. Demons, devils, and asuras hail from this accursed place. The souls of evil beings are collected by the gods of this realm to feed their metaphysical appetites. The Underworld can be accessed through certain deep fissures and caves or through magic demon-circles and blood sacrifices.

The Overworld, known by some as Heaven, Olympus, Elysium, and other pleasant names, is an ethereal realm of light and goodness. It is a realm inhabited by good gods and demi-gods and is the home of angels, devas, and saints. The souls of good beings are rescued by the gods and servants of this realm to spend eternity under their protective authority. The Overworld is the source of all holy miracles, true reincarnation resurrection, and healing magic. The Overworld can be accessed through magic circles and portals or after performing lengthy ceremonies.

The Shadowworld is known by some as Limbo, Purgatory, Hades, or the Shadowlands. It is a grey misty realm of nothingness. The souls of neutral beings are reborn into this realm to spend eternity. The Shadowworld is the most difficult realm to access with no known entrances from our world. Only beings native to one of the other magical realms may enter the Shadowworld. The Shadowworld is the source of all necromancy and darkness magic.

The Innerworld, also called the Dream World or the World of Illusion, is created by the shared unconscious of all living beings. It is a realm of dream, imagination, and fantasy. It can be accessed through dream or the consumption of magical elixirs and drugs. A few portals exist beneath giant trees deep in ancient forests. The Innerworld is the source of all illusion, sleep magic, and wish magic.

The Outerworld, or Astral Plane, is a strange realm of chaos at the edge of existence. The Outerworld surrounds all the other magical planes, touching each of them as well as our own, and stretches into infinity. The deep recesses of the Outerworld is the home of aliens, the Outer Gods, and powerful entities such as Ulutuk and the other Ancient Ones. The Outerworld is the source for all travel magic, astral magic, and stellar magic.

Monday, February 3, 2014

"The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh" Chapter 6 of the Xanthus River Campaign

First bit of business. During the carnage that was the near TPK last week, everyone forgot that you could spend Luck points to modify your death save. I offered them a chance to retroactively do that. Plus, it was a very unfair scenario and one I was not happy with so I ret-conned a little bit of what happened.

In that light, Nip the turnip farmer did not die. He regained consciousness in the cellar piled with several other bodies waiting for interment. He was assumed dead but had somehow survived! 

The root cellar under the barn showed no evidence of cult activity, nor any sign of a giant skeletal snake demon! It was nothing more than a dark root cellar. Emerging into the light, Nip was told that there was a fight between some out-of-town merchants in the cellar and some smugglers over some bad deal or something. The smugglers were all dead and the merchant and his entourage were getting ready to leave town on their boat. He rushed down and rejoined the boat crew and off they went. 

There was no mention of a cult or battle with the snake demon. It was an odd omission. Was it all a nightmare? An illusion? A cover-up? And what of Gwen the Elf? Her body was nowhere to be seen among the dead. Definitely a mystery for a later date! (and the seed for a future adventure)

Our party now consists of:
Valerius (Level 1 Warrior)
Absalom (Level 1 Cleric)
Nip (Level 0 Turnip Farmer)
Babu (Level 0 Merchant)
Jack (Level 0 Cheese maker)
Shau (NPC)

When we left our intrepid band, they had reached Thither and journeyed on through the night to the mansion of Saltmarsh on the coast of the Smaragdine Sea, where Shau promised a wealthy uncle, a reward, a warm house, fine food, and a comfortable bed in which to sleep. 

Unfortunately, the grounds were overgrown by what look like twenty years of neglect and the house was a decrepit shambles.


The party entered the house, asking Shau about the layout and nature of the rooms. Shau admitted that she was feeling disoriented and that her memory was mysteriously hazy, but that living areas were in the east wing, studies and libraries in the west wing, and kitchen and servants quarters in the north wing, bedrooms were upstairs.

The team went west, carefully exploring each room in turn. They found a study with a desk and an iron stove. Within the desk they found an unmarked potion. They noted the room as a possible place to rest for the night. Next they explored a living area which had obviously been looted long ago. When approaching the north end of the room, they were startled by a loud ghostly voice hearalding their imminent doom! Several members of the party were frightened out of the room. In a pile of debris they found a large gold hoop earring. The next room was a library, in which they found a few treatises on magic and alchemy. 

Having finished the west wing, they took on the east wing. They found two empty living areas, devoid of interest.

They then entered the north wing. In a drawing room, while searching around the inside of a chimney, Nip was attacked by a large spider the size of a small dog. The party quickly dispatched the arachnid horror. Inside the chimney was a metal box holding a fancy ring.

Next they found the dining room, in which nothing of import was discovered.

In the kitchen they encountered five large aggressive centipedes which scurried from rotted cupboards. In the scullery they found stairs descending to the cellar. When they approached the stairs, they were once again met by a frightening ghostly voice screaming in pain.


At the bottom of the stairs they found the wine cellar. All of the wine had long ago been eaten. In the center of the room was the body of a warrior in plate mail, dead 3 weeks. While investigating the body, Valerius was swarmed by 7 rot grubs! The rest of the party applied fire to the beasts, burning Valerius in the process. Afterwards, Nip found an emerald hidden in the dead warrior’s boot.

While searching the cellar, they noted that the fireplace was made of cemented riverbed stones. A few of the stones appeared to have been chiseled out. Very odd. It was then that they noticed that the back of the fireplace was made of plywood. Even odder!

The plywood easily fell when pushed, revealing a passage through the fireplace. Beyond was a large space filled with beds, barrels of grog, food, and other supplies. It was obviously a well-used living area for up to ten men! Nervous of their chances, the party backed out and returned upstairs to rest.

They nestled down in the study with the door closed. Absalom cast Detect Magic on the party, making note of Valerius' dagger, newfound plate armor, and glowing globe as well as Nip's ring and potion. Afterwards, they went to sleep. In the middle of the night, Nip, who was on guard duty, heard the shuffling and murmuring of voices in the hall. The sounds came closer, then tried to open the door. He quickly woke the others. They opened the door to reveal a small group of four goblins! One goblin was immediately dispatched. At the sight of his dead comrade, another goblin fled. The remaining two goblins stayed and fought. When the second goblin was killed, the forth goblin fled in terror. The goblins, as it happened, were simply scavengers who happened upon the house and were exploring it themselves.

Upon completion of the melee, Nip heard the call of Yigdrassl, the Goddess of Nature. He has decided to become a druid (Level 1 cleric)!

The party returned to their rest.

Next week, the party returns to the hidden cellar chamber, and g…g…g…ghost pirates!!!


I'm running the AD&D module U1: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, with some significant story changes. The 1st level monsters are very uninspiring. A spider! Five centipedes! GASP! The rot grubs were a little scary. I don't think any of my players, who are long-time D&D players, had ever encountered rot grubs. I was a little confused how they worked at first. Do they attack? They have an AC of 9 (11 in DCC). Does that mean you have to hit them to apply fire damage? In the end, I ruled that you had to hit them, but just in case I doubled the number of rounds before Valerius would die.

Which leads me to my other failing: turns, turns, TURNS!

Turns != Rounds. Turns equal 10 minutes. Why am I so bad at remembering that distinction! Detect magic lasts two TURNS = 20 minutes, not 20 seconds. Rot grubs kill their host in 1-3 TURNS = 10-30 minutes, not 10-20 seconds.

It's very old school, and I know and understand the distinction, but damned if my brain keeps forgetting.

Similarly, I kept forgetting to invert the armor class of the AD&D monsters. I saw the goblin AC of 6 and thought "wow! pushover!" then I suddenly remembered, "No! 20-6 = a DCC AC of 14!"

I must remember that next week when the party takes on the pirates and their allies!