Thursday, November 28, 2019

Deepnight Revelation

Our Savage Worlds campaign came to a conclusion on Monday, and I am two sessions behind on my Campaign Diary, but I would like to share this kickstarter with my readers before it ends in fewer than three days.

The first 'season' of our Space Opera campaign was based largely on the published campaign Heart of the Fury, plus a generous sprinkling of the Pirates of Drinax campaign. I enjoyed the campaign very much, and wanted to run a sequel to it.

When I came across the Seven Worlds campaign, I realised that the central plot of a group of people with psionic abilities playing the villain of the campaign made it a natural continuation of the story we started. I needed to put many years between the first campaign and this second one though, so I sold it to my players as a 'coming out of retirement' campaign.

Then, just days before we played our last session, Dave sent me a link of the kickstarter above, and I realised that it may answer one of the unresolved questions from our second campaign: where did the Grens come from?

The campaign is already funded, and had reached several stretch goals; there is one more, final stretch goal to unlock, so if you like what the campaign sounds like, do go ahead and back it so we can all get one extra book in the package.

Thank you.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Making Gaslands Vehicles II

With the main bodies of the vehicles done, I started to assemble them and add bits to make them resemble their smaller counterparts.

For the school bus, I managed to find a rolled up tarp and a box from some 1/72 AFV bits from Plastic Soldier Company.

I added a rack of cylinders from the Gaslands sprue - I assume it's some sort of oil canister or biological weapons. I had no idea what those on the smaller bus was when I painted it too...

I added two jerry cans on the back of the bus, because you always need jerry cans.

I decided to replace the original wheels of the toy car with the tyres from the Gasland sprue, since the smooth tyres betray the origins of the vehicle.

The Minigun is from the Gaslands sprue. The gun mount is actually a rocket from the sprue too - at FG's suggestion I cut the top off, attached it to the Minigun, and the flanges at the end of the rocket made a nice base for the mount.

The torso and arms of the crew is from the Gasland sprue too; the legs come from a 1/72 AFV crewman from PSC.

The bumper on the front also come from the Gaslands sprue.

 Perhaps the bit I am most proud of is the painting of the Datsun name on the tailgate.

It took a few days to put everything together, but it was a fun project. I am looking forward to playing my first game of Gaslands soon.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Making Gaslands Vehicles I

When Northstar Figures was running its Gaslands Refuelled Nickstarter a couple months back, I pre-ordered the rules, dice, templates, and a couple of sprues kind of on impulse. I have heard about Gaslands previously, but had not looked into the rules; when I googled about the game, I was surprised at the level of enthusiasm and creativity within the Gaslands community.

It was only after I had pre-ordered the stuff that I realised that I in fact already have several post-apocalyptic style vehicles in my collection in the form of the 10mm Dropzone Commander Resistance models, including the school bus. I made a set of scaled down movement templates to go with the vehicles, but decided to go ahead and make some 20mm scale models anyway. In particulat, I wanted to reproduce the school bus in 20mm scale.

Fg managed to find a school bus of the correct scale for me. Fortunately, the metal top of the toy was screwed to the base (instead of riveted), which made it easy to disassemble the toy for paint-stripping and painting.

I also decided to reproduce the a Technical in 20mm scale, using a Hot Wheels Datsun 620 which I bought years ago but never did anything with - I wanted to make a Technical, because that's what all guys want, right? A Technical? I did not have the tools to disassemble the pickup truck, so I removed the wheels and stripped the paint with the plastic base still attached.

I stripped the paint off the toys by soaking them in Dettol. The paint came off nicely, as if they were decals that had been applied to the metal.

Side-by-side of the 10mm Dropzone Commander vehicles and their 20mm cousins
The vehicles are primed with red spray primer. I then applied blotches of orange paint with a piece of sponge to the places where I plan to have rust showing. I did this with two different shades of orange paint. I then repeated the process with a red-brown paint, and then a brown paint. The idea is to give the areas a variegated appearance.

Here I suffered from a bit of poor planning, as I applied the paints to parts of the vehicles which I would eventually cover over with armour plates. Well, no real harm done.

Once that was done I applied masking tape to the insides of the windows.

Now comes the salt-weathering part. It really is as simple as applying water with a brush to the places where you want the rust to show through, and then sprinkling table salt over the blobs of water. The salt will cake up and form irregular lumps over the surface of the model.

The process is quite forgiving, since at this stage you can simply rub the lumps off if you don't like the way they look, and re-apply again.

They look like some sort of junkyard Christmas decorations...

Once the salt has dried, I sprayed the bus yellow. Due to the red primer, the more recessed parts of the vehicle ended up having a darker hue of yellow, which I quite liked. I applied two coats, going  little thick on the second coat, which produced some bubbles/pitting on the surfaces, which added to the look.

The pickup truck is given a coat of black paint.

Once the paint has dried, I rubbed the lumps of salt off under a gently running tap. Then I replaced the windows on the bus, and gave the model a coat of matte varnish, followed by a coat of dulling spray.

As you can see, salt weathering created raised, crusty surfaces in the yellow paint, which coupled with the rust surfaces gave a strong impression of corrosion. The paint on the edges of the corroded portions are somehow paler in colour, which again was a good thing.

The dulling spray fogged up the windows, which was the effect I was after. There were a couple of spots where the primer came off, exposing bare metal. I covered these areas with brush-on black primer, and then painted silver over them to represent exposed metal.

I over-salted the pickup truck, so ended up with more exposed areas than I had wanted. Fortunately, it was easy to remedy with some brush-on black primer and then black paint.

I glued on a bumper from the Northstar Gaslands sprue, a piece of "grille" I cut off a kitchen sieve, and a couple of pieces of textured plasticard. The bits were all sprayed with the red primer and then given the same treatment as the rusted spots on the vehicles.

The bumper looked a little odd being all rusted, so I dabbed on some silver paint, and then some black paint over the silver parts.

I added grilles made from some plastic mesh, and some armour plates made from plasticard. The corrugated plate came from the Northstar Gaslands sprue.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Seven Worlds #5 - Broken Circle II

The crew face a Serran swordsman
Campaign Diary

The crew hailed the ships closing in on the station, but received no reply; the ships did not broadcast transponder IDs, which advertised their hostile intention.

The crew ordered Lamar, Ogden, and the rest of the station staff to embark the Magpie, and they took off in a direction away from the incoming ships, while he put the two station shuttles to auto-pilot and fly off in different directions, hoping to confuse the pursuers, but the ruse failed.

The ships soon closed the distance between the Magpie and themselves, and began shooting. Despite Nick's piloting, the ship began to take damage, and soon the ship's shields were down. As the Mapgie rounded Wotan V, Nick picked up the signal of another ship ahead of them - a large ship. He called Kumra to the screen, and Kumra recognised the profile of the ship: it was the Monad, the state-of-the art autonomous battleship that they helped the Robot Collective steal from the shipyard years ago.

The Monad hailed the Magpie, and a familiar face and voice came through:

"You guys still flying that piece of junk?"

It was RB, their old crew-mate!

(Click here for PC profiles)

The Monad began shooting at the pursuers, which turned and fled but were shot down quickly.

The Magpie returned to Harris Station, where the crew reunited with RB.

RB, it turned out, had escaped from the Teamsters Guild years ago, and joined the robot rebellion and had risen to become one of their leaders. Now, learning of the crew's involvement in the Gren invasion, he had persuaded the robots to meet with the crew.

Together with RB, the crew tried to convince the Robot Collective to join in the fight against the Gren. However, the Robot Collective considered the risk to their polity too great, and refused. RB had to make a choice between rejoining his friends, or returning with the Collective - he chose the former.

Once the Magpie was refueled, the crew decided that Jet would return to GCP with Lamar, while they returned to Earth to relay what they have learned to the United Confederation government.

When they arrived on Earth, they learned that three more systems on the Tazanian Empire were lost to the Grens. They also learned that the top management of Telenet had absconded two weeks prior, leaving the corporation in disarray.

They relayed the news of a possible Serran Brotherhood involvement in the Gren invasion, but the UC government was unwilling to act based on that information alone, and in any case the politicians had committed the UC fleet to defence of UC space, and could not spare any help. Nevertheless, the crew were able to leverage their fame to have themselves deputised as UC representatives, after which they set off to Hirceptus to investigate the source of the signal that shut the Telenet down themselves.

Upon their arrival at Hirceptus, they noticed that the Telenet satellite was still in orbit. Ignoring the command by Hirceptus Space Control to land on Hirceptus, they instead headed straight to the satellite.

RB was able to hack into the satellite to allow the Magpie to Dock with it, but as they did so, Nick picked up the signal of two frigates approaching them from the planet; this came as a surprise to the crew as Hirceptus famously did not possess a military force.

The crew hurried into the satellite and soon located the server room, where RB began to download the database for further analysis. But while he was doing so, the power to the station was cut off. The red glow of the back-up lighting came on, and the door to the server room opened. Standing outside the door was a man clad in battle armour and holding a sword.

The crew shot before they asked any question. The swordsman charged through their fire at superhuman speed, and began slashing at the crew. His sharp molecular blade cut through the armour on Kumra and AJ without difficulty, and even through RB's chassis. The droid fell to the ground and played dead, and when the swordsman was occupied with the others he got up and headed for the power room. RB restored the power to the satellite, while Kumra, AJ, and Nick finally managed to surround the swordsman and kill him. RB completed the download, and the crew limped back to the Magpie, just in time to escape the frigates sent after them.

The crew brought the data back to Lamar, who was able to confirm that the signal had indeed been sent from the surface of Hirceptus, specifically the headquarters of the Serran Brotherhood. He was also able to determine that the satellite were still actually operational, but now transmitted on a different frequency, utilising the second set of codes which Telenet had tried hiding from him.

In the days that they had left Harris Station, however, the Grens had moved into the Neutral Zone, and that three systems had fallen to them in a short space of time; the aliens seemed to be moving towards the centre of the galaxy, and towards the UC...

The government of GCP had out the system on high alert, and Hassel-Hoffa reckoned that the guild's ships would likely be requisitioned to evacuate the populace soon, and so he bade them to leave before the Magpie would be commandeered too.

Deciding that they needed to know more about the Grens to have a chance at defeating them, the crew resolved to visit Redlhu, one of the Tazanian planets which had fallen to the Grens

When they dropped out of hyperspace at Redlhu, the found the system surrounded by the wreckage of dozens of ships, both military and civilian. There were no signs of any Gren bioships. They scanned the debris field and noticed a derelict ship floating not far from them - attached to the hull of the ship were three organic pods.

Nick took the Magpie close to the derelict ship - a Tazanian frigate - and Kumra shot at the pods. As the blaster burned off parts of the pod, the remaining portion would rapidly grow over the holes made, sealing the pod again.

A scan of the ship showed that life-support and artificial gravity were still present, but the crew weren't taking any chances: they donned their vac-suits, and boarded the frigate.

Inside the frigate they found the bodies of dozens of Rakashan marines. Most had large wounds on them, and some had blaster marks on them - judging from the impact patterns on the bulkheads, it seemed that they may have been shot by 'friendly fire'.

The crew made their way to the bridge, hoping to download the tactical data from the bridge computer. However, the bridge door was sealed, and RB was unable to hack into it. AJ set a demolition charge to the door, but even the explosives were only able to blow the door partially open - large enough for Nick and AJ to squeeze through, but not Kumra or RB.

Nick and AJ entered the bridge to find its crew all dead, seeming from self-inflicted blaster shots to the chest. This was unusual, as Rakashans would rather have fought to the death than to commit suicide, and the 'preferred' way of doing so would be a shot to the head and not the chest.

AJ began to try to remove the bridge computer from the station with RB shouting instructions from outside, but he botched the job and instead caused the module to short itself out. Meanwhile, the noise from the demolition and their conversation had attracted unwanted attention...

RB and Kumra heard a skittering noise from up the passageway, and looked to see a bipedal, four-armed creature charging towards them. RB started shooting as he backed away and took shelter behind Kumra. The creature soon reached Kumra, and began to slash at him with the claws at the ends of its four upper limbs. The sharp claws tore through Kumra's armour. AJ and Nick shot at the creature through the gap in the door, but despite taking fire, the creature kept up its attack on Kumra. Finally, AJ took a grenade from one of the fallen Tazanian marines, and lobbed it through the door - the explosion tore through the creature's body, covering Kumra with a thick ichor.

Kumra has a close encounter with a Gren

More skittering noises could now be heard. The crew decided that they had outstayed their welcome and would have to leave empty-handed. Returning to the Magpie, they found that a bioship had taken off from the surface of Redlhu and was now approaching them. Kumra took aim at the Tazanian frigate and blew it up, while Nick took the Magpie outside the gravity well, and entered hyperspace.

Prepping and Running the Game

Jet's player could not make this session, but RB's player rejoined the group, which made the table a veteran's table.

This session was pretty much 'off-script' from the original module, partly because I didn't like how contrived the original storyline went (the hooks were basically anonymous tips from an alien benefactor), and partly because I wanted to give the players more free rein so the whole campaign is more organic. As it turned out everything they did was not something that I had specifically planned for.

I had initially expected them to travel to Hirceptus and try to confront Amahrius over Lamar's revelations, but they instead went back to Earth, which I was totally not expecting.

They then traveled to Hirceptus as I had expected, but chose instead to investigate the satellite instead of the surface, which I expected them to. Still, I was able to use the Serran swordsman, which I was planning to use for another encounter.

Finally, they chose to investigate a system that had fallen to the Grens, so I had to make up a name and an encounter on the fly. I had some vague idea that they may stumble across a derelict ship with some Grens inside, so I had the stats for the Grens ready, but I did not have the figurines ready, and it broke the momentum of the game when I had to dig them out.

Of the two fights they had in this session, the first one was the deadlier one, with three out of four characters having sustained two wounds. The second fight by contrast saw fewer hits on the PCs, but due to the lead up to the encounter and the fact that the party was divided, the level of anxiety was much higher.

At this point of the campaign they have gathered a lot of clues and learned a lot about the Grens, and there really is just one major plot point to reveal before the last act.

I do feel that so far I have not myself appreciated the scale of the destruction and loss of lives inflicted by the Grens, and thus had not conveyed that to the players. I plan to remedy that in the next session by putting the PCs on a system when a Gren invasion arrives.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Seven Worlds #4 - Broken Circle

Campaign Diary

The Magpie dropped out of hyperspace at the Tazanian system of Uppulu, where the crew were detained by the military. But once their identities were verified and their account of the battle corroborated by the civilians on the ships that fled Tabari, the data on the aliens they have received from the UC fleet were received with much gratitude, and they were permitted to return to the Neutral Zone.

Due to the Telenet crash, news of the battle had just preceded the crew's arrival at GCP. It turned out that about half of the ships in the second wave of the UC fleet managed to withdraw before being engaged by the aliens, although the commander chose to fight to the last with those in the first wave.

For a while the crew were divided on what their next move should be: to try to access one of the Telenet satellites to learn why the system crashed, to try to learn more about the aliens, or to continue their search for Lamar. Eventually they decided that Lamar's disappearance must have been linked with the crashing of the Telenet, and Jet, Nick, AJ and Kumra decided to return to Earth to deliver the data their have on the aliens to the UC, and to try to pick up Lamar's tracks again.

(Click here for PC profiles)

Arriving at Earth, they learned that news had arrived the UC had declared a unilateral ceasefire, and had moved all their ships out of the Neutral Zone. They were met at the spaceport by the UC miliatry, and invited to the Defence Department to debrief the UC Undersecretary for Defence; during the debrief, the crew coined a name for these aliens: Gren - short for Grendel, whom Beowulf fought.

Leaving the UC HQ, Nick and Kumra used their connections in the criminal world to track down Monty 'the mover', an 'independent operator' in Boston who specialised in helping people obtain new identities and go off-world. With some aggressive persuasion from Kumra, Monty revealed that he did indeed help Lamar switch his implanted ID chip and help him get on a transport, but in exchange for the information, he wanted the crew to get him off-world; Telenet, he revealed, had sent some hired help to try to get the information off him, and he knew it would be unwise to remain on Earth once they realised he had knowledge of Lamar's whereabouts.

The next day the crew met Monty, now with a new identity, at the spaceport. Lamar, he told them, had assumed the identity of one Antoine Novak, and had asked to the taken to StarMart at Wotan V, a place familiar to our crew. StarMart was a 'truck stop' that orbited Wotan V, a gas giant, and was a pit stop for ships making the 'Catalian Run', a route that went through an uninhabited stretch of the galaxy.

Arriving at StarMart, they learned that two more Tazanian systems had fallen to the Grens. The attacks were similar: the Gren ships dropped out of hyperspace barely two hours from the systems, leaving little time for the people to escape.

Jet attempted to hack into StarMart's database to pick up Lamar's trail, but the laptop Hassel-Hoffa gave him crashed, forcing him to use a shared terminal at an internet cafe. Here he was luckier, and found that Antoine Novak had arrived at StarMart as Monty had said, and had soon left the station on PEC-2, a transport ship based at Harris Station, which was the station that mined Helium from the atmosphere of Wotan V, in the company of one Mr Ogden, the Chief Engineer of Harris Station; what is more, Ogden was at that moment on StarMart!

The crew found out the berth the PEC-2 was docked at, and staked it out. Sure enough, they soon saw Ogden walking to the ship. Nick noticed that Ogden was being trailed by a man in a helmet and a droid. The crew acted nonchalant and let Ogden pass them, but when the man saw Nick, he turned to the droid, grabbed hold of its arms, and pulled on them - the droid's forearms were a pair of disguised blaster pistols, and they hid another pair of pistols that were attached to his arms!

The man and the droid started shooting at Nick and AJ, who charged at their attackers. Kumra grabbed Ogden and pulled him into a side corridor, and asked Jet to keep him safe, before charging into the the fight too. Jet told the confused Ogden that they were there to help him, and convinced him to open the door to his ship, and then rushed in to grab the blaster pistol that was kept in the cockpit (carried as standard against pirate attacks), but when he returned the fight was almost over. Despite being unarmed, AJ and Nick managed to disarm the man, while Kumra managed to break off both of the droid's arms. Sensing imminent defeat, the man ducked out of the fight, and pressed a button on the console on his forearm: the droid began to emit a beeping sound...

The crew dived for cover as the droid exploded; AJ and Kumra were unharmed, but Nick took a shrapnel in his chest, and the man had vanished.

The crew returned to the Magpie, and followed Ogden back to Harris Station, some four hours away on the other side of Wotan V. Here, they finally met Lamar Hassel-Hoffa. Lamar recognised the crew, and related his story to them:

A few months ago, while checking the codes he wrote for the next upgrade for Telenet, Lamar noticed some strange codes which he had not written. They seemed to be for a parallel transmitting system which he did not know about. When he questioned his employers, he was told that they were by a second team working on redundancy and business continuity, and asked to focus on his part of the work only. When his brother James called him regarding the strange signal recorded on the footage from the Beowulf a few weeks later, he decided to look into the codes again, and found additional lines that triggered a 'suicide sequence' that would wipe the codes on all Telenet satellites simultaneously, while leaving the parallel transmitting system intact. Curious as to its purpose, he decided to add more commands to the code, such that the data trail for the activation of the suicide sequence would be sent to him. Then, on a hunch, he hacked into his personnel files, and found that he had been scheduled for 'termination' by the company. Unwilling to wait to find out what 'termination' meant exactly, he decided to go off-world, and managed to find refuge as a chemical engineer at Harris Station with his old classmate Ogden.

Due to the crash of Telenet, Lamar had only just managed to access the data that he programmed to be sent to him, and by a process of triangulation, he was able to determine that the source of the signal that initiated the suicide sequence came from Hirceptus, home planet of Amahrius of the Serran Brotherhood.

Before the crew could make sense of the revelation, they were interrupted by Ogden: two fast ships of the type favoured by pirates had just 'crested' Wotan V and come into the sensors of Harris Station, and they were closing quickly...

Prepping and Running the Game

Broken Circle is actually the 4th module in the Seven Worlds campaign, but I felt that it would fit better as the third module we played.

The module involved the crew investigating a report of the sighting of Lamar at a space station, and them picking up his trail and finding him at a Helium mining station.

I kept the basic structure of the module, but allowed the players to decide what they wanted to do after the events of the last session. As a back-up I planned to have another teamster send Jet a photo of someone who looked like Hassel-Hoffa (Lamar) taken at a bar on StarMart, and have the PCs investigate, but I prefer the path they took.

I planned for there to be two fights: one with the bounty hunter and his droid at the bar, and a follow-up running battle as the two try to get to Harris Station before the Magpie.

I had expected the crew to do so old-fashioned police leg work and speak with people and try to find Lamar, but of course they would try some electronic sleuthing instead. As it turned out Jet's player failed to make the roll four times (burning three Bennies in the process), and I ruled that the state-of-the-art laptop that he had requested crashed. This may have consequences downstream, as the breakdown of communications and the chaos that would follow as the Grens destroy more worlds will mean finding gear and parts will become harder.

And speaking of Grens - I asked the players to come up with a name for the aliens (named Devourers in Seven Worlds), and it took them several minutes of brainstorming before they came up with Grendel. I think that's a pretty cool and evocative name.

Next week should see the return of another character from our previous campaign, so stay tuned!

Friday, November 01, 2019

Terrinoth #42 - Laboratory of the Forsaken

Campaign Diary

A voice called out from the other side of the door.

"My lord, is everything all right? I heard a noise - had there been another accident?"

Assuming the dead count's voice, Therion replied that there had indeed been a mishap, and warned the man from entering.

"Very well. The carriage is ready," the man replied and left.

The party began to plot their exit, but before they could arrive at a plan, a ghostly female form appeared over the pool in the cavern.

The ghost declared herself to be Lady Mirabel, the count's late wife. Holzel, (for that was the count's name) she explained, would periodically marry a noble woman and then murder her. He would at the same time kidnap a male infant and, announcing that his wife had died in labour, present the infant as his child and heir. When the child came of age, he would in turn murder him, announce his own death, and assume the child's identity - by this means he had managed to hold his title and demesne over many centuries. Regular change of the servants and guards at the castle helped to keep the secret.

Holzel, the ghost continued, had for years been labouring on some alchemical experiment in his mansion in the forest, and had for centuries sacrificed his many wives and "children" to it - she herself was the latest victim, and now Kolthar, the teenage "son" of the count the party had seen, was to be sacrificed too. Her soul, she said, could not rest as part of her life essence had been trapped inside Holzel's experiment, and she could only manifest at the pool at the bottom of the castle well, which was once the place she went to for solace. She did not know what the exact nature of the experiment was, but she knew it must be evil, and she begged the heroes to travel to the mansion to save Kolthar and end the experiment.

Tom, Giso, and Whisper were willing to take on the mission, but Therion asked for a reward (click here for PC profiles); Lady Mirabel promised to reveal where Holzel kept his treasures if they would save the child and release her soul.

Just then the voice at the door returned, announcing once more that the carriage was ready to take the count to the mansion, but that the bodyguards Lazar was supposed to send had yet to arrive.

Assuming Holzel's voice again, Therion declared that they had arrived earlier and were indeed with him in the cavern. They stripped Holzel of his clothes and hid his body in a sarcophagus. Therion called up some minor enchantment to mend the clothes, and then donning them, he pulled the hood on the cloak over his head, and the party strode out.

A small party of guards were awaiting their arrival at the courtyard, but in the darkness and with his face partially hidden, no one realised that Therion was not in fact the count. Arriving at the carriage, Tom dismissed the guard sitting beside the driver, and the party entered the carriage. The driver drove the carriage to the waiting barge, which carried it to the north bank of the river.

For two hours the carriage passed through the forest, which gave our heroes time to rest and recover. As they neared the mansion, they began to notice signs of death: trees stood withered, and streams were fouled with the stench of dead fish.

When they at last arrived at the mansion, they saw that it was a two-storeyed wooden building, surrounded by a tall wall. Therion dismissed the driver, ordering him to return the next evening, and then the party entered the foyer.

Inside, they found the place sparsely furnished, but clean. While they wondered where to go next, they heard the sound of an organ coming from a room from across the foyer.

Standing at the doorway Therion saw a man dressed in the clothes of a noble seated at a pipe organ. The man began to speak with Therion, mistaking him for Holzel, and thanked him for inviting him to the final ritual, which will bring to fruition the plans they have been making for three hundred years, and which would allow them to challenge the power of Waiqar.

Before long, however, the man began to grow suspicious, and when he moved to throw back Therion's hood, the party attacked him with the bog oak weapons they have prepared, and quickly took him down. As the man's body laid on the floor, the party saw a few skeletal figures approach the room from the foyer - but these skeletons did not carry weapons, but brooms and mops!

Two of the skeletons picked up the dead body, and began to move back into the foyer, while a third began mopping the floor, cleaning up the mess that the fight had caused. The party followed the two skeletons into the kitchen, where several other skeletons were standing, as if they were waiting for their turns to go to work. The skeletons brought the body into the cellar, and then into chamber where several carcasses of animals were hung, and hooked it to one of the meat hooks, and then they returned to the kitchen.

There were no signs of any living person or creature in the mansion - who or what were the carcasses meant to feed?

Venturing deeper into the cellar, our heroes found a passage that led to a maze. Giso called upon Kellos to bless his shield with a glowing light, and the party entered the maze. The passages branched and turned, making it impossible for our heroes to keep their bearings, and after a while they found themselves ending back at the entrance to the maze. They decided to venture into the maze again, this time using a barrel of wine they found in the cellar to leave a trail on the floor, and Whipser marking the way they went with chalk, but once more they found themselves back at the entrance - the wine trail and chalk marks had strangely disappeared!

On their third venture into the maze, they at last found themselves in a part they had not seen earlier. Here, they notice two skeletal figures approaching them from two ends of the corridor, seemingly floating just a few inches off the ground, and their limbs motionless.

Giso and Tom decided to try to rush past one of the skeletons... and found themselves running into a wall of cold, transparent slime! Belatedly, our heroes realised that the skeletons were actually enveloped in some form of living slime, which no doubt had been cleaning up the wine trail and chalk marks they had made.

Giso and Tom felt their lives being suffocated out of them, and it was with great difficulty that they managed to extricate themselves. Hemmed in by on both ends, our heroes struggled to fight off their silent attackers: Whisper's sword and fists seemed impotent against the things, but at last Therion and Giso came upon the idea of using their powers to alternately freeze and then burn the things, which eventually destroyed them.

The party continued onward, deeper into the maze, and at last came before a door guarded by a strange humanoid figure, whose body seemed to be stitched together from several different bodies.

Therion strode forward, once more pretending to be Holzel, and the creature unlocked the door with a key, and handed him a flask of yellow liquid, "for his protection".

Therion dismissed the creature, and the party entered the room behind the door. It was a large hall with its roof supported by several tall pillars. At the far end was a round pool, inside which bubbled a viscous, yellow fluid. Standing by the pool was Lazar, and beside him was Kolthar, who appeared groggy and unsteady on his feet.

Lazar recognised our heroes at a glance, and immediately surmised that they must have defeated his master and taken his clothes and sword. Announcing that he would nevertheless help his master complete the ritual and complete his work, he began to drag Kolthar closer to the edge of the pool.

But before he could push the helpless boy in, Tom leapt forward and cast his throwing knife at Lazar. The blade spun in the air, burst into fire, and buried itself in Lazar's chest. The loyal servant's eyes widened in shock, and then he fell into the pool.

The bubbling of the yellow liquid increased. Therion hurled the flask of yellow liquid into the pool, but that did nothing to quell its stirring. Soon some of the viscous liquid began to extrude from the pool, like so many tentacles. The tentacles began to strike at Tom, burning his skin with acid where they landed. Whisper ran forward and pulled Kolthar to safety, hiding him behind a pillar.

The viscous fluid now formed into a large blob, and with the aid of its tentacles crawled out of the pool and began to move towards the party. Our heroes made for the door, but the creature outside had by now realised that he had been duped by Therion - he locked the door, trapping the party inside the hall.

The blob seemed proof against the heroes' weapons and spells, and for a while things looked grim. Then Therion threw Holzels rapier at the blob - it lodged inside it, but did not seem to do any harm... until Therion started playing his hurdy gurdy; the music caused the rapier to vibrate rapidly, and soon it began to glow with heat. Bubbles began to form inside the blob, and after a while the bubbles rose to the surface of the blob, and steam emerged.

The blob started to move back towards to pool, but our heroes would not allow it. They surrounded it, and set upon it with all their might; bits of the blob were hacked off, and as they fell to the floor they lost their firmness and dissolved into liquid, until at last the blob ceased its movement, lost its form, and became a puddle on the ground. Therion recovered the rapier, and returned it to its sheath.

Our heroes peered into the pool - the water was now still and black, and smelled foul. Therion used the enchantment from his ring to move the water out of the pool, hoping to see how deep it went; but as the water level began to fall, the ground began to shake. Soon the columns started shifting - and the roof slabs began to shift - the hall was collapsing!

Our heroes grabbed Kolthar and rushed to the door, and Giso began to hack at it with his hammer; but Whisper was quicker with her lockpicks, and unlocked the door in a flash, catching the guardian creature by surprise. Giso struck the creature down, and with his glowing shield lighting the way, lead the party through the maze back to the cellar, and from thence out of the mansion. Moments afterwards, the mansion collapsed.

Prepping and Running the Game

The B Team arc was supposed to have ended with the previous session in September, but a few days before that I learned about the module "Weekend at Strahd's", and thought it would make an interest "Halloween Special" finale instead. I ended the session on a cliffhanger, and hoped that the module, which was then yet unreleased, would give me enough material to run a comedic session where the PCs have to go around with the body of the dead count making it look like he was still alive.

Except the module didn't do that.

Still, I liked the idea of the PCs having to do the "Weekend at Bernie's" thing, so I looked for a reason to why they would have to do so. The obvious answer is that they are discovered, and need to hide the fact that they had killed the count. Then I needed to make sure they couldn't just walk out of the castle once they are out of the cavern, so I decided that the carriage was waiting and would be taking them somewhere else. But that still didn't prevent them from jumping out of the carriage, or just running off once they reached their destination...

The breakthrough came when I found the module Laboratory of the Forsaken by Fantasy Craft. The setting of a mansion was of course fitting, as was the idea of a laboratory where a mad scientist had been performing 'unholy' experiments, and the final key was the ghost of the wife of the mad scientist begging the PCs to help her soul rest.

Unfortunately, my players did not go whole hog with the Weekend thing, and only disguised one of themselves as the count. Still, that provided some role-playing opportunities.

The module also gave me a chance to use oozes, something which is an iconic part of D&D, but which I have struggled to fit into Terrinoth. This module allowed me to introduce oozes as a reasonable encounter, and also make them a 'limited edition' monster which have no reason to be found in other locales.

The combat with the two gelatinous cubes was played with slightly modified rules. I picked the maze map on my Big Book of Maps, and placed the PCs in a spot where their exits are blocked by the cubes. The cubes would move one space per turn, while the PCs could move two. This made combat almost like that game where you had to shift blocks of stones around while being pursued by a mummy.

The yellow ooze in the final fight was statted as a Black Pudding, but was given a yellow colour because that was the colour of the model we had. The vial of yellow liquid was supposed to allow one character to be immune to the digestive juices of the ooze, but Therion's player, to everyone's dismay, chose to hurl it into the ooze instead. Fortunately, he did manage to save the day by using the rapier and the Heat Metal spell to defeat the ooze.

All in all we had a fun session, but towards the end I realised that I had committed another error: by allowing them to save the count's heir, they now have a young and potentially impressionable noble who is in their debt. I have no doubt the players will leverage on this.

Once again, the B Team had acquired a strategic asset despite being, well, the B Team in our group. They now have a hidden keep in a swamp which commands a hidden causeway which can be used as a smuggling route, potentially a priory to 'inherit', and the favours of a young noble.

It may be many months before we return to B Team again, but I am keen to complete their involvement with Weiss, the other vampire drug-dealer in this saga. Stay tuned.