Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Soul Matters

I almost got him down to less than 10 hit points for a hitherto overly confident slashing machine. The most recent MERP saw the party show down and slow down against four screaming wights. More to the point that the previously mentioned Tom Cruise/Mage (that is in fact a dual character class) went in first levitation style and lowered himself down a burial tunnel into a crypt. Very rapidly he discovered that he was both being clawed at as well as having his power points drained by non corporeal spirits.

Fortunately the Dwarf and then Animist lowered themselves into the fray, narrowly avoiding a situation where the Mage was considering ascending back through the entrance as the others were coming down. Being in a crypt this is as close to a near death experience as I have seen them in yet. With an hour of nail biting combat as well as plenty of healing spells the party have kept their spirits intact and I have to presume they are a little wiser also. It is also worth noting that the location is not yet necessarily done. The other Mage remains outside clutching the Book trying to stay out of harms way. Whether clutching an evil spell book is better or worse than fighting undead spirits in a crypt I have no idea. Guess we'll find out.

How close does death get in MERP ? Well there is a little wiggle room actually. After a character passes zero, they pass out. However they can continue to lose hits if bleeding or on fire etc, until a negative number equal to their constitution. After that, the soul departs over a 6 round period. As the soul begins to wend its way it is an opportunity for it to do other weird and wonderful things, like be captured in an item, held indefinitely by magical means, astral project or potentially be taken to the negative plane as an undead of some description. This is where Animists are worth their weight in herbs as they can preserve the body or soul until suitable animation or healing is applied. Systems vary enormously and some are a mater of fact but I like the more ethereal options in MERP.

With regard to the 13Age update from GM Bill I am informed that his NPCs are more fashionable than mine. Well I say that beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder.


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Tomb Raider

With a somewhat of an undead adventure going on in the MERP its time for a bit of tomb raiding. Our party find themselves inside a peaceful mausoleum within a beautiful clearing in an ancient forest. Dead people were presumably alive once and there's nothing more embarrassing than cracking open the wrong tomb, only to back up apologetically. Still people say that we should all talk more about death and not be so embarrassed. Not sure that means with those concerned though.
A bit like stealing Mars Bars, cracking open burial chambers wouldn't be considered deserving of a maximum security prison sentence but we should all conduct our selves with decorum when it comes to chambers with Do Not Disturb chiselled onto the door. Best practice is an issue here.
Its worth considering whether an adventuring party actually falls into a specific category on professional terms such as a corner, crime technician, priest, archaeologist or historian. By this I mean that ego massaging is often the weapon of choice where dragons are concerned so it could be useful to have an appropriate ID badge should one be challenged by a security conscious or otherwise officious Lich. Basically should you feel bad rummaging through dead bodies and exactly what should you prepare for ? Do you re-consecrate as you go or simply wash your hands thoroughly before tea ?
Necromancers, thieves and Victorian Egyptologists all have their own view on the matter so perhaps its down to negative plane dominion, hard cash and a better quality top hat at the end of the day.
Either way it will be interesting to see what they will do - they are on Gondor business and whilst that doesn't come with a formal warrant to search a coffin, it may help them sleep at night.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Naked Orc Wrestling

Last club meet I casually enquired about GM Bill's 13th Age game. When engrossed in planning and running ones own session its easy to forget that other things are going on. Whilst we were all catching up over a pint before the games I gainfully asked after the other players as to what had been transpiring and found to my delight that a fight had made its encounter with their party. Even more amusingly it transpired that some orcs had taken the opportune moment to attack the party whilst they were having a bath. Genius. Orcs are not stupid creatures for the most part but often aggressive and spontaneous, but it borders on genius to ambush  a group of people while they are wearing thongs and olive oil.
Now from a mechanics point of view this opens up a whole new avenue of combat possibilities. I can imagine the issues now... How much damage does a soap on a rope do - hits like a morning star but leaves you refreshed and lightly scented ? How fast can I move in flip flops ? What AC is a towel ? How many attacks a round does a loofer have ? On it goes.
I must admit I wish I had been there - there's probably an expansion module just for kitchen and bathroom scenarios. So it would seem that the 13th Age game is well on its way and I do hope they don't slip up any further.
On the MERP side I can report that the Animist narrowly escaped summoning a Penguin as a familiar to do some scouting for him. They have also realised that an ancient and mysterious book they have seems to be raising undead nearby - as the party are based in Minas Tirith and operating from Osgiliath it is also just occurring to them that both cities have several old, large cemeteries. I sense a country trip coming on.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016


Field Log- Cpt Aranor 25th March 3436 Orodruin
The great eye bears down upon our Alliance beyond the Great Gates but as we set forth we know He now has nowhere left to go. We will see it done.
Field Log- Cpt Aranor 4th April 3436 Barad-Dur
Last four days in deployment after a long march. Whilst the men already carry the scars or Orodruin they bear steadfast determination to see the day out. The Siege of Barad-Dur will begin. All units are in position and we expect for our part to assault the Southern Tower at sunrise.
Field Log- Cpt Aranor 10th April 3436 Barad-Dur
Heavy and prolonged fighting. This will be no short order. We have been denied all week but at the cost of the Enemies defences. Orc ranks are thin and the gate shall not stand another week, we are sure of it.
Field Log- Cpt Aranor 17th April 3436 Barad-Dur
Heavy losses and full retreat. I have never before witnessed such a thing. Our banners marched forward through the shattered gates, no quarter was spared and the walls ran black. Broken Orcs lay in our wake and victory was at hand. But the bodies did not lay. As our first blow fell upon the doors of the second tower the very dead awoke about us. All rank and file arose and pressed upon us with a fell savagery. We lost half our force in retreat and even our own slain turned upon us. What can we do against such evil?
Field Log- Cpt Aranor 18th April 3436 Barad-Dur
The men did not sleep and their spirits are spent against the nightmares. Force of Arms cannot bear against such an army. I have dispatched to Alliance command. We need the Dwarves and their siege engines. We will not underestimate Him again.
Field Log- Cpt Aranor 3rd April 3438 Barad-Dur
For a year gone the southern walls have withstood the dread rain of Dwarven missile but no longer. Now is our time.
Field Log- Cpt Aranor 8th April 3438 Barad-Dur
Rubble now lies all about where once stood the first tower. No movement. In and about what remains we have come across a keep of manuscripts, a library of devilry and fell craft. Put to the flame we have destroyed the foul pit for all except a Tome that resists unscorched by way of our purge.
Field Log- Cpt Aranor 12th April 3438 Barad-Dur
Its writing shifts and its secrets it withholds. It brings me dark thoughts and vile knowledge. I cannot sleep and have ordered it secured from the field. It is a weapon wrought not for men and will not serve our means.