Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tower of the Stargazer - Actual Play Report


That was an awful lot of fun.

Warning: the following Actual Play Report contains spoilers for James Edward Raggi IV's Tower of the Stargazer. Read further at your own peril. You have been warned!

The party were five in number (eventually; we got started late because people straggled in):

Horsch, a Halfling (Jesse),
Abraxis, a wild Fighter (Aaron),
Alexis, a Magic-User (Herself),
Minnick, a Specialist (Trevor), and
Max, a Cleric (Sean)

Quote of the Day goes to Max: "Wait -- did I just gamble my soul?"

Since I wanted to run Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role Playing Game, I naturally wanted to run the included beginning adventure, Tower of the Stargazer. But I needed a world in which to set it. For a few weeks I idly wondered what to do with it, but then a solution presented itself: I already had one! I'd created a one-page wilderness, the Barony of Northmarch (which you can find in your copy of Fight On! number 7, on page 27. Or if you're really lazy, at my blog post here.)

Since hex #0304 already has an "abandoned wizard's tower", the party set off from the village of Dolders. They decided that they had met in the inn there, where Minnick was recruiting for an expedition. (Being a specialist, he was the only professional adventurer around. Also, with an 18 Charisma, he was the natural leader.)

They marched for the day without molestation, arriving near the tower by nightfall.

Observing the lightning strikes, they spent the night (again, unmolested) and finally approached the tower at dawn.

Horsch gathered the rope from the body at the base of the tower, discarding the grappling hook (he took the sword, too, but discarded it when he found it broken.)

Minnick and Abraxis took the stairs while the others waited at a "safe" distance.

Avoiding the serpent-shaped handles, they knocked with the knockers. This resulted in a very loud 'bong', but opened the doors. The whole party entered, finding the foyer and the sitting room. Horsch took three of the bottles from the cabinet and Minnick took the other. Abraxis checked out the cloakroom, but found nothing of value.

Bypassing the statue, Abraxis looked up the stairs but didn't venture up them. Instead, he tried to pry open the top box of the stack in the corner, discovering them to be a false stack covering a trap door.

Horsch and Minnick, meanwhile, investigated the status and discovered that it would move (and thus revealed the other trap door).

The party opened this second trap door and dropped a torch down it to see what was there. Horsch climbed down, with a rope tied to him so he could be retrieved, and found the portcullis. He came back up and Minnick went down, but he came back up also.

The party then checked out the other trap door and came upon the storage room. They moved boxes around (didn't want to open any...) and got to the door to the workshop, where Minnick debated removing the gold thread from the corpse but decided wisely not to touch it.

Abraxis meanwhile investigated the mirrors in the corner, and got sucked into the closest one on the right. At this point, Alexis the Magic-User cast her Identify spell on the mirror (and I admit right out here that I hadn't read it carefully enough to know that it took an entire day back at a lab -- my bad) and learned that he was screwed. (Aaron immediately started rolling a new character.)

Horsch twiddled the dial on the elevator shaft and brought the disc to the room. But then Minnick checked out the door on the south wall, leading to the cells, and they

fought the undead corpses for awhile, finally killing them all. (we rolled a lot of simultaneous initiatives -- I was using the traditional d6 for the party and d6 for the opponents). Minnick took some damage.

Horsch then got the brain parasite from the unmarked corpse, so he drank off an entire bottle of wine and got good and drunk. Then he closed his eyes and faced one of the mirrors, hoping that whatever was inside him would get a blast. It didn't, so he opened his eyes at the mirror on the end and was blasted by the light.

And then there were three.

So the party went back up the trapdoor and back down to the other part of the basement, where Minnick and Max opened the portcullis and entered the room. They were fascinated by the fissure in the floor, so they weren't even looking for an attack -- the stone spider got surprise and attacked Minnick, missing handily. The party fought valiantly, scoring 10 of 11 points of damage on it. Finally (and on another tied initiative), Alexis hit it, but not before it hit Minnick, who missed his saving throw and died.

Reading the plaques on the doors, Max chose the workshop. Inside, he moved to investigate the vials on the workbench and was trapped by the portcullis. He tried drinking the potions (and I didn't bother with potion miscibility; it was too much fun to let him go), which resulted in him:

Developing a very strong body odor,
Becoming incontinent,
Losing all his body hair,
Losing his teeth and nails, and finally
Shrinking to 2" tall, which enabled him to get back out of the room.

He and Alexis then checked the treasure room, but upon finding that the chests appeared to all contain stones carved and painted to look like copper pieces, they left that alone and went back to the elevator.

They took it up to the very top. They looked at the book, taking it with them. Then they used the control panel to open the roof, extend the telescope, unblock the lens, and ignite the coal chamber. Since the last didn't do anything, Max put a double handful of the mysterious black powder in the chamber and flipped the switch again. This caused a thin beam to come forth, but had no effect on the other end.

They didn't check out the pool.

Next they went down one level and found (and ruined) some books in the library. The found the room with the Ghost, but when Max tried his hand at the game, he lost.

Here is where the quote (above) occurred. (I didn't have a game handy, like chess or anything, but we both suck at chess anyway, so we just rolled for it.)

This is where we left it. Herself, playing Alexis, was the only survivor.

Jesse came up with an interesting suggestion: If I was to create a random creature using the Random Esoteric Creature Generator, and felt that it was acceptable to play (much like Original D&D allowed people to play Balrogs and whatnot), he'd play whatever I came up with. I'm going to try it.

Aaron meanwhile has already rolled up his character: A dwarf. Named Abraxis.

While this is a bare bones recitation of what happened, we all had a great time. The players were laughing and attentive, and nobody was really upset about dying (hey, if you play old-school, death happens. Frequently.) I'll definitely run it again.

We especially liked the encumbrance system and the convenience of the "skill" system, what with the skills represented by d6s right on the character sheet. It's probably the most convenient character sheet I've ever used.

Overall rating: Two thumbs up.

And afterward, Herself and I went to Outback Steak House, where I had steak and lobster and beer, and a really, really good creamy potato soup with cheese and
bacon. It was the perfect reward for getting up off my fat bottom and actually running something.

Now I just need to plan the next session...


Christopher B said...

Sounds like fun. :D

Will Douglas said...

I thought it was.

Haven't heard back from my players, though...

kesher said...

Arrgh! Sorry it took me so long to
comment on this!

It was indeed fun! The system itself is a snap, and the adventure was more fun than your average introductory-scenario-included-with-the-rules.

It was a melancholy (or at least anticlimactic) ending for Abraxas, but hey, that's what he gets for boldly staring into mirrors in a Wizard's tower!

With my new Abraxas, I'm indulging in something I NEVER did when I was younger---making variations of the same character over and over.

We'll see how long it takes for one to stick...

I'm looking forward to playing again, speaking of which, Will, we should talk about a date for the next session.

Will Douglas said...

Well, I don't know about this month because of the holidays and all. But I'm open...

kesher said...

We could certainly see who'd be available/interested on, say, the 26th.

Otherwise we could aim for maybe the second weekend in January...

Will Douglas said...

See, that's what I mean about holidays.

I'll be out of town on the 26th. And when I get back to town, I've got my AD&D game.

Although one possibility, as far as I hate crowds and stuff, is to play at my house. I have a basement that's crying out to have gaming in it...

kesher said...

You are correct---that basement does indeed cry out to be gamed in!

Why don't we continue this discussion via email?