After our heroes battled with the powers of a splinter of the Old Ones themselves, warped time & space & reality, they wanted to settle for some relaxational shopping in the City of Greyhawk. As the tales of their deeds quickly emanated through the city, they were forced to adopt a group name, by which the population could adress them: “Guardians of the Isle”.
Interestingly enough, their newfound fame and importance didn’t motivate them much to adress the big problems Greyhawk, Oerth and the Multiverse were facing. Especially the reincarnated Mage, now an Elf, lamented his lack of power, as he lost 12 of his 20 levels in the reincarnation process, but was allowed to hold on to some parts of his soul by the Boccobite Archbishop.
I use the “Expedition to the Ruins of Castle Greyhawk” module as a basis for this part of the campaign [and the official versions needs much work; thanks railroady-encountarded Paizonians! Thank you Delvanistas from WotC!], so I thought I could use some of the proposed sidequests when the group went to seek offerings at the mercenary’s guildhall. Alas, most, nay all!, of the “sidequests” railroad you back to the entrance of Zagygs Castle. So what is a DM to do? I just grabbed my small collection of FO! and Abenteuer.-Zines (It’s a shame that Kobold Quarterly doesn’t have adventures or at least vignettes. Although I really like KQ, I think I’ll not renew the subscription because of that), and started flipping through for plug & play materiél. And lo, I only realized then the real utility of these mags, only a collection of them really enables their usage at the table.
Anyhow, ruling out the inaprpriate stuff, and ignoring the writers I loathe (actually only one), I found several gems in less then a minute, which could then be offered as alternative missions for the players at the guildhall.
The Players choice fell to “The Spring Temple of Ai” being a mysterious locale by Lux Gabor, p. 42/43 from Fight On! #4. And great stuff it is. I could read it in under five minutes and immedeately DM it, even though I play the totally false edition (3,5 with this group). I introduced this mission via a couple of lovestruck Thieves from different Gangs, who fled the City to seek their luck with the treasures of the Naga they read about in an ancient book. The three girls in the group went half-mockingly, half earnestly “ahhh…sad!” when they met the girl who wanted the body of her lover brought back.
Oh yes, we had a first time roleplayer, a girl bringing their number up to 3 with us this time. She wanted to be a mage, her boyfriend helped her with the rules, and she was decisive with her spell and feat choices. I dunno for sure, but I might have sensed some sceptical glances from the other two girls. But who am I to understand the nonverbal communication of women?
Anyway, when we were just about to start, I said she’d need a name. She wanted to know how people are called in this game. I said were we play, it’s everything from fancy to silly and or anagrams, and that she shouldn’t sweat it. So it was “Kirk the Mage (Wiz 1)” for her, she wanted to play a male character. Later in the game she would really try to participate, but her look was priceless when the first in-character talk started and she was supposed to answer. Just like in the movie Astropia, which is why I dwell on the story so much. Anyhoo, after some investigations and other thigns going on in the city, it was off to the swamps, off to the Frog-Island!
Above is a late battlescene from the Frog/Lighting Bolt-combo. The stats were adjusted on the fly, I figured HD 1 would yield the killer frog a +1 attack bonus, when I needed a saving throw, I ruled a frog has only REF as a “good” one and went with that. The 50[!] frogs did not pose too many problems, although the new/old Paladin (who went from 2nd to 8th level in just two sessions!) got terribly “licked” by a new bunch of killerfrogs coming out of the froghole. And all of them hit! Two of them critical! As you can see, he got lucky and only suffered 20 measly points of damage…but the scars on his pride remain, as everyone laughed and mocked his ass of at the mental picture of how, where and why the killerfrog-tongue would damage a Paladin in Fullplate in a critical way…The curly tongues on the official D&D minis don’t help in that regard.
Here’s the Druid, wildshaped into Toadform, talking to/interrogating captured Killefrogs in Frogian, of which Toadian surely is just a dialect.
Two hours were taken to heal and build cages, as well as to break the spell the Naga below held over Maestran, the Lighting Bolt throwing Wizard. He cooperated, and spilled everything he knew about the Temple below. Kirk the Mage really tried to help out with his first level spells, and actually was the decisive factor in figuring out via Detect Magic, that Mastran was under a spell.
Down in the temple, creepy exploration, no battlemat, just descriptions and whiteboard. Then: screeeching halt for the game, as the Naga didn’t attack but posed a riddle question. Nobody really listened or wrote it down, so they asked again, only to get another riddle question. The riddles are pretty good, and at least one of them works in German too. I had to read the other one aloud in English. Interestingly enough, Kirk the Mages player solved the first riddle, and then the second one was solved by the Druid player. Girls day, I guess: the Killerfrogbattle was coordinated by the Scout player & party leader, the third girl.
Thanks to Gabor for this realization of what WotC allegedly strives for: plug & play situations, nicely presented, with everything I need to know on a double page, batteries included ( illustration & maps).
Fuck, I’m not sure I wasted more words on blathering about playing this fine locale, than he needed writing it down.
As a closing mark I want to point out…oh wait, let’s stay positive and let me bitch & moan about EttRoCG on another day.