Magic: The RPG

An Original RPG Based on the Worlds of Magic: The Gathering

Calendar of Events

Game Recaps

GAME ONE:  (3hr partial game with no clever title)

I'll be darned if I remember anyone's name. It's going to take a few games.

My character was Priam Hawkwood, who works in the smithy, known to folks the town over as "the guy who burned down the Hawkwood family barn".

Mark's character is a short, bald kid who likes hanging out in the cemetery. A charismatic sort.

Alan's guy is the son of the Inkeeper who has had some sort of falling out with his dad and now hangs out with Fishmaster Reed. (I think he played Lolapalooza one summer. Fishmaster Reed on the wheels of steel. Boy that guy could mix.)

And Joes' character is... the sone of Fishmaster Reed? (Question mark) I think so anyway.

Turns out they are geeks one and all, outcasts, dregs. Except for Priam, who takes the other cool kids out into the forest to blow up trees and things with his powers, to show off.

We are each with our mentors, having discovered our gift of mana use during puberty, when in comes someone with a message. Seems that Captain Renton has sent for aid. Our mentors send us, rather than sending themselves.

We show up and are a bit surprised to see each other. Priam is wondering why he's in a room full of geeks, but thinks better of asking Renton. Finally when the last shows up, Renton starts in. He's irritated that the council hasn't taken this seriously and sent children. None the less, he gives us our mission and off we go.

We head toward Famington, a village under seige by something. We are accompanied by a boy named Jayson, who had come to ask for help.

During our travel we think we're being followed when suddenly rushing from the woods comes... Joe's character's sister. She wants to come along. Priam tries to encourage her to come along, because, well... he's a teenage guy and she's a teenage girl. But the others at least make some vague attempt to talk her out of it. Alan does the best argument. The classic, "I'll go tell your dad."

Too bad too. Because she could have seen me annihilate three bears with my torch.

Four bears rush from the forest a bit further up the path. They claw at and inure a couple of us, but Priam whacks two of them in the head with his burning torch, and the third he blows up with a spell. I think it was Joe's character who pacified the other.

We skin them for furs and Mark's character, son of the butcher, hacks up some bear meat.

In Farmington we drop off Jayson and meet the family. Seems that they're unhappy we were sent instead of armed guards, but once they find out I'm a wizard who blew up bears, they're even more unhappy. "They send a cursed wizard!" "Cursed? Who is cursed? What are you talking about?"

But they let us stay. We do some minor investigation that night.

I forget the flirting though. Seems that bald-boy Mark draws the attention of a pretty young girl in the household, but at every opportunity he snubs her. Funny thing is, that only makes her want him more. They talk quietly in the hallway while Priam mocks them, which was fun.

Seems there are LARGE footprints accompanied by a slew of smaller ones (at least 4 people worth).

We follow the tracks up into the hills the next day and manage to trigger a few traps. Said traps kick my ass. First one is a log trap thats swings at us, to some pain. The second is a pit trap from which I am mostly saved, due to Mark summoning a creature to break my fall. I land on some disgusting viscous creature. But it beats landing on spikes.

We finally find the camp in the hills and that's where we end. Well, not the characters, just the game session.

GAME TWO: And Now a Word About Goblin-on-Goblin Violence



Having discovered the goblin camp, we begin to decide our next move.  Ultimately it is decided we need some rest, but that we can watch the path.

During the night, a group of goblins wander down the path.  As Milton moves into position, the rest of us hatch another plan:  Priam lays down in the road and plays injured and draws the goblins closer so that we don’t have to close ground on them (the rest of us not being so sneaky).  After making sufficient noise, they turn and approach the downed individual.  Some of them have enchantments up of some kind (one guy is very fast).  We have our first full-fledged battle with the new system, but acquit ourselves well in a very brief skirmish.

It’s the one later that’s a little more troublesome.  As we rest and plan, the next night, we hear a much larger group coming down the road.  This group quite obviously includes a giant, as the ground shudders with each stride.  We advance to the road and institute our policy of goblin-on-goblin violence (Dorian summons festering goblins, Priam summons ballooning goblins, etc.)  There are three real threats this time.  First and foremost is the giant.  Second is their wizard, a little shaman-type who is behind the giant.  Third is the mob of goblins.

The giant goes down when Milton manages to summon a fireax and bury it in the giant’s head.  That works for a short while until the giant glows and begins to get back up.  But in the meantime, the wizard has to deal with some summoned flyers who keep coming in over the top.  The goblin crew manage to take out some of our summoned creatures (mostly the goblin who had first strike) and take a few pokes at our wizards, but Priam’s summoned artifact collar gets some first strike going for our side.  The giant is downed a second time and away we go, lootin’ and searching.  There was one major flaw in all this;  Seems our company, a youth from the village of Farmington, was dumb enough to rush a giant, and he paid for that move by nearly dying.  He barely survived due to healing magics else he’d be toast.

Next day we head to their village and discover that the goblin citizenry is gone.  Well, except for a pair that try to ambush us, to little effect.  Dorian’s festering goblin takes out one and as it dies it manages to take out the small goblin who is running up the hillside.  A modicum of guilt ensues as he realizes it was just a child goblin.  We try and figure out where he was heading and discover that it was headed to a giant boulder that covers a cave entrance.  There’s some arguing back and forth between humans and goblins as neither can understand one another, but we know they’re in that cave.  Ultimately we roll the boulder back and have a mimed discussion with them.  Finally one figure out that we’ve warned them to go (in a direction we gesture) and they do, leaving behind a cave where they used to live with their giant.

The thing I wonder about:  If you have a cave, why do you need a village?  Had they decided to take up farming?  They did steal a lot of farming equipment.

Oh yeh.  We discovered a bunch of equipment belonging to Farmington citizens.  We make our way back down the trail with the goods (as much as we can carry anyway) and come across a group of armed citizens coming up the path.  As their leader gets ready to lay into us, Dorian lays some bald charm on him and pretty soon he’s offering us his first born.

We stay the night and enjoy a celebration in town.  Dorian has to convince their leader’s daughter not to come with him back to our town.  Loser.  They also gave us money as a reward.  But we don’t use it.

Instead upon return home, Dorian pays Farmington’s debt using that held back cash.  At home we go back to training, but graduation time comes soon.  Our masters best us in wizard duels, but at least two of us figure out that the fights against our masters are purely ritual.  They ultimately throw the third fight so that we move on.  Some of us take up jobs that are offered us.  Priam continues on at the forge, where he gets to burn and pound things.  Jayden wants to set up an herb shop; not sure if he’ll include waterpipes and rolling papers as well.  Don’t recall what Dorian is doing.  Milton is aimless at this point.

Then we have the dream.  THE dream.  We have a horrible shared dream in which we are addressed by different names, have different faces, but recognize one another.  Another guy in a multicolored cloak is calling us these names.  (Do I look like a Sherry?  Your next word better be NO.)  Anyway, he’s there with five wizards—one of each color—and they decide to promptly kick our butts.  Five wizards, each with assistants, each very experienced and summoning many other creatures ultimately adds up.  There’s a moral victory as we take out the white wizard and injure the multi-colored guy for a few points.

We talk to our mentors about it.  Aside from each other there aren’t a whole lot of other things we can do.  We meet later to discuss the dream each other.  Korgan suggested we use the library of one of the mentors to search for a symbol Priam had recalled from the dream.  The symbol turns out to have something to do with mage guilds, the 5 lines representing each of the five colors of mana.  The guy in our dream who was commanding them was a guildmaster; a guy who managed to master all 5 colors.  The names don’t seem to ring any bells.

As we commiserate at a local pub, we notice some guys commonly called grey-cloaks (you can guess why).  They’re unaffiliated mercenaries.  Soon, there’s an alarm.  At that moment, stumbling into the tavern, is Jayden’s little sister.  She is missing her eyes, which apparently are a common trophy among gobliny-types.  Outside there is a fight.  A BIG fight.  There are groups all over town, but we concern ourselves with three immediate groups of combatants.  Charisma-boy Dorian takes control of one group of citizens and leads them, while another group fends for themselves, and a third group has Captain Renton leading them (though Priam is on his way to help).  The core group of wizards and citizens clean some house on the first group, which are a mishmash of foes (Giant cockroach, a Shaman, Goblins, etc.).  Captain Renton’s group get cut down pretty well, canceling out every foe except the shaman.  Finally it is squashed by Renton and Priam.

We help drive off invaders around town (in narrative) then set to fixing things around town.

GAME THREE:  One Head is Better than Two


On the heels of last game’s sacking of the village, we set to repairs, healing, etc. Two of the town’s big mages are missing. One is Jayden’s (green) mentor and the other is Dorian’s (black) mentor. We are tapped to check on two missing families. One is the Gradys, the family who are comprised of Priam’s Uncle, Aunt, and many cousins, who routinely come to help on Priam’s farm while he is working in the forge or learning spellcraft.

At first glance, the farm is devoid of animals, which is definitely unusual, and the farm house is closed up. A stealthy examination by Milton reveals that there is grunting, likely of the goblin variety, inside, and that there are movements of several beings.

Priam approaches the building and calls out, but no one answers. He and Jayden go to the front and Priam’s knocks. The no one answers, so Priam forces the door and steps back and Jayden’s Kavu Titan (enormous lizard) blocks the doorway. The goblins move in and get wiped out by a combination of summoned creatures (the Kavu Titan, a Hill Giant, and other creatures far too big to have inside a building) and some head-to-torch combat. The sole remaining figure is their goblin wizard who is smart enough to flee below ground into the cellar, but of course that just leaves him trapped. He’s squashed and we discover that the family has been supporting themselves by means other than farming. The cellar is the entrance to a silver mine. Through an iron door below are found a few survivors, including Priam’s aunt.

The group heads to the other building and discovers that while there are a few animals around, the building itself is abandoned. They too have a mine below and have been dumping dirt into the back yard.

Seems that at least part of the town sits on a silver mine. There’s some curiosity as to how much of the town, but we have bigger issues first.

A paper taken off of the goblins we fought seems to include a line from a prophecy. It’s likely part of a book that was in the library we looked through last time, where we’d discovered books with ripped out pages.

First we are accused of perhaps causing all this mess. Korgan (my enter) asks us “What did you do to cause this when you were in Farmington?” We plead innocence and tell him we told him everything about what we did, which is true. We discuss the map found last time. It is believed that between the papers found so far and the map that heads from “Orvy” (the antiquated name of our town of Ivy) up the green river to Garn (the old name for Shangarn), that the goblins are headed north and supposed to meet someone in Garn to make “payment”. Payment could be anything. Could be the eyes they were looting from people and animals, could be the silver they were trying to take from the mines.

As the group do work for the town, rest, and research spells/potions, etc, a boy from a town north of us called New Keep. He says his town is under attack. Priam takes this to mean the goblins, thought it’s actually a lone giant. He tries to rouse the group to action but the two he can find need the night to rest after pulling a couple all-nighters. Next day he explains it’s a giant with two heads. We will hit the place on our way north to Garn/Shangarn.

We learn when we arrive that New Keep is an incomplete structure on a hill, not far from Old Keep. The village sits at the edge of a gorge. When we arrive, a two-headed giant is fighting the local soldiers. He’s on a rope-bridge and trying to cross. As the villagers try to cut the rope bridge, the giant’s two heads argue with one another than then run back across in time to save himself. Now the bridge is done and we need to find another way to him. The father of the boy who lead us here, a man named Mowick, tells us about the giant’s sudden appearance and how it must have killed his other son because he’s been gone since the time the giant showed. He seems perplexed that we are wizards but will get over it if we’ll help him go hunt the giant down in the morning. We decide we’ll hunt it first, so as not to endanger the locals.

But before that we’re told someone has been writing on buildings. We go and check it out and discover that there are 3 cryptic sayings carved on buildings in three different areas of town. Such pithy phrases as “When is a Monster Not a Man” and “Our Fate is One”, dug into the wood at “giant height”.

We move to the causeway to keep an eye on it. This is the other, most obvous way across without the bridge. Seems instead we get a group of goblins who wander toward town through the causeway. We actually smite them in short order, quite efficiently. But while we were staking out the causeway, the giant made his way to town by other means and scrawled something on a fourth building.

We meet up with the hunting party and head toward the Old Keep, where it was previously sighted. We are pointed to a tower that is the likely location and Dorian convinces the soldiers to remain behind while Milton sneaks up and listens. He finds a strange combination of snoring and muttering going on. When Milton calls out he gets a “Sssshh” response from the head that’s awake. Through quiet discussion, the group learns that he is named Jared. Jayden manages to recall that Mowick’s “deceased” son is named Jared. Turns out he never found a body, he was presumed dead. Apparently the two-headed giant is actually the boy who has been cursed and who barely recalls who he is. It takes some convincing (typically by charisma-boy, Dorian) that Mowick’s son may be alive and that his soldiers should be withdrawn in order to keep a fight from breaking out.

In a spontaneously developed rule, Jayden blows through most of his spells as he cycles them to the graveyard until he gets one he can use to break the enchantment. When we’re ready to confront him, we take the door down and the giant fully awakens. The good half takes the opportunity to KO the bad half and the spell is cast. POOF, he changes back to a normal guy and is taken home. We’re invited to stay in town overnight which we do somewhat reluctantly. Two of us wanted to use the tower overnight and leave early to avoid the superstitious locals. Instead we have to go back for our wagon, so we go back to town and sleep.

Next day we continue our voyage. About this time, cries of WOLF come from up the way. We immediately flood out to see and find that a wolf is chasing a little girl. Jayden says it’s “FANG” and not to hurt it. Some call out for them not to attack the wolf and a creature or two are summoned to intercede, but the militia come to a halt when Jayden gets the wolf to come to a halt and sit. They lose interest when the little girl tells them the wolf is her “friend”. They take the girl off to safety while Jayden and Fang play out the “Lassie” scene about Jayden’s mentor being trapped at the bottom of a well. It actually turns out to be something not unlike that.

Fang leads us and we come to an area where the wolf only stops and growls. Some observation doesn’t necessarily spot much. But eventually, Dorian spots movement in a tree and chooses to point and call out such information, causing the fight to initiate. First it’s just a couple goblins. One is quickly pacified and another is up in a tree. But right after this, in comes the wizard. With him come a couple hill giants, two packs of goblins, and all the summoned creatures we can eat. There’s a pit trap that covers the floor of the tiny valley which kills two of our own summoned creatures. An epic battle wages. Highlights…

We find the mentor, who is injured, having been smacked around by goblins. She had been on her way from Ivy to Shangarn when she came across a wizard and some goblins(?) discussing plans. Discovered, she was KO’d and kept prisoner. Not sure why. Goblins typically eat people; but Priam withholds his suspicion.

We continue north to Shangarn. Seems our next game will begin with a likely confrontation with GIANTS. Many, Many GIANTS.

I forgot to mention the white wizard we ran into on the way. Amiable enough guy. We exchanged duels.

NEXT GAME: Probably a month away. Nothing this coming weekend, the two after that Jim will not be available due to vacation (Have fun!). It’s sounding like next game will be early January.

JIM: I did take the Initiative Feat for 3 pts, but I’m holding off on spending the other 3 pts I was gonna put on on Low-Light vision. I’m having trouble deciding between low-lite with next 5 after that going to Enhanced spell research, or spending the combined 8 on a STR of 3 since I spend so much time in close combat.

GAME FOUR:  Journey into FAIL


Credit to Robert for jumping right in with a new white-mage character and helping us out.

So last time we were on the verge of defeating a blue mage when he rode away on a Djinni. We get a rematch with him later, which I have to say, lived up to the first encounter. This time around we reach the town of Shangarn (sp?), which appears to have been mostly sacked. But after a short time we encounter a little girl hiding in the ruins named Eliza. (The little girl is named Eliza, not the ruins.) The big men carried away mommy & daddy, and she has been hiding another magic-man who is injured. She takes us to a root cellar where we find Malachi, another apprentice of Priestess Vera. Seems she’s been two-timing. For whatever reason she has been keeping his magichood secret from others. In any event, he’s injured and we assist him and tell him tales of the sack of Ivy. He’s unhappy to hear this and wants to rush home to check on his family. We convince him to stay and help us defeat the giants in the area.

There’s a long discussion of how to go about taking on these guys but in the end it should surprise no one that we solicit a fight which steamrolls, drawing in monsters from all around.

Seems the giants have taken the villagers hostage. They put half to work in the mines, along with stumpy, long-bearded men, for the giants. While half dig, the other half are kept inside a ring of barrels. It is surmised that you keep people in such a spot if the barrels are filled with explosives. A quick check with confirms. Some history checks bring up knowledge of an explosive liquid of a chemical (non-magical) variety. If that’s what’s in the barrels, then they are obviously there to take out the humans in a hurry, should the other humans in the mines do something stupid.

We are trying to sneak up on the group when we begin the first of the evenings many fails. This would be Priam’s inability to make a stealth check, so he decides to flop himself in the mud to both gain extra hide-ability, and also to disguise his cleaner clothes and make himself look like the worn-out villagers. It sort of works. Sort of. An angry goblin on the wall shouts things and points him toward the gate. After considering running and luring them away from camp, he wanders up to the gate. Seems they thought he was a dirty goblin who fell over the side. When they see Priam, he cowers and pretends to be a prisoner, so they throw him in with the others. Now he’s the guy least able to figure out explosives, but that’s fine since the rest of the group show up, sneaking into camp and joining the humans. Jayden puts into effect a sneaky plot to poison the goblins using things he’d gathered from nearby. Credit this with taking out seven or eight of these guys.

We actually do a pretty good job on the camp as a whole. Though it’s often painful. We take out the torch-bearers who cover the barrels. Once they are down we’re in business. Each time we put most of a cluster down, another giant and cohorts appears. But as always inevitably happens, they run out of extras and we retake the camp. We lick our wounds briefly then head up the hill to the mine where we find a giant and some goblins tending the miners. Drawing them out, we do pretty well on these guys.

By decree of an earlier game, mana-users are immune to pacifism. This means that any creature with an ability that requires mana use will be immune. So we have some issues with target selection.

Once everyone is freed we get to meet Ivan and Pickles. They are two dwarves held by the giants to do mining. Ivan is the informative one. Pickles has a one word vocabulary. “Wooooooo.” Apparently it means many different things. We find out that they are not mining for ore, but rather digging simply because they are told to dig in a specific area. Ultimately they found a hole with some worked (non-dwarven) stone at the bottom. We go to the hole and they mine it until it breaks through. Inside is a small chamber with a box. Inside the box is a handful of rare spell cards (of mixed usability) and a piece of parchment with a bunch of information on it.

This leaves us in a strange position. You see, we’re expecting the “big meet” to take place here in shangarn, but at the latest in a couple days. It could be earlier if the parties show up earlier. So while Malachi is eager to go home and check on his relatives, Priam suggests going up river and checking out what is likely a dam that has been built by the giants/goblins/et al. The problem is, what if everyone shows up while we’re up there? So that is tabled. We instead wait and prepare, and eventually wind up nearly being washed away in a wave of water. You see, in this “timed game” we were supposed to make it up to the dam in time to stop it from being uncorked on the populace below. Not only is Shangarn washed away, but damage is done to New Keep (and presumably old Keep) and Ivy. We survived by climbing up high from our hidey-holes where we had waited for bad guys who never came to show up.

Now Malachi REALLY wants to go home. We want revenge. Is revenge more important than the safety of those back home? Well, when you stir in the fact that as “cursed wizards” we will likely be blamed for all this and that we let down everyone in the region, we are in no hurry to go back. Malachi parts with us and the rest of us head uptown.

We find the ruins of a dam, and a small cottage made of stone sitting in an odd place above the path of destruction. When we approach, as is prone to happen—a fight breaks out. It’s our old friend the blue wizard. Only this time it’s 3 on 1 rather than 4 on 1.

Talk about see-saw battles. The pure number of creatures the blue wizards summons keeps him in this fight. The fight is so long and complicated that I really can’t do it justice. In fact I could probably only recount my specific plays, so I’ll spare you those details. The wizard is using a giant as a vehicle, of sorts. He’s riding it and casting spells while the giant tries to stomp us. This means he has the giant’s resistance and in some cases we have to pick which target (like in the case of Pinpoint Avalanche, which I FINALLY got to play, where the damage can’t be prevented). Milton goes down once, but late in the fight as things are again getting bleak, Jayden draws a card and heals him back up to consciousness, all the while staving off his own demise with a Daru Healer and blockers with regeneration.

Finally he’s driven from the giant and summons his Djinn-escape-pod. We have one round and someone makes the best of it. Sorry, I don’t remember who got the shot (I know it wasn’t me).

We ultimately have to head home to the chaos left in our wake.

GAME FIVE:  Zombie Girl and the Transvestite Stalker

The Wiz:

This week, the town with an overabundance of wizards gets even more. No wonder someone wants to nuke us from orbit to be sure.

Great session for roleplaying. Wish I’d had my voice fully working.

Last Game we ended having failed to stop the flood. Malachi is down in New Keep. Priam and Jaydn are in Shangarin. No one else has shown up yet. So we begin our voyage back south. We have bound the captured wizard, Santos – the blue mage, and intend for him to stand trial. Problem will be going through New Keep, which has suffered greatly. There’s a good chance we will not be able to get him to people who can properly question him before he’s hanged by expectedly irrational citizens.

Malachi is healing people. Had he not shown up immediately they would have lost more lives. When we arrive with Santos, Mowick, the guard captain, wants to know about our captive. We hedge the specificity of his crimes, hoping that this will keep them from getting too rabid, but that’s to no avail. In the night as we try to rest, some citizens show up and want him dead. Jaydn summons a creature and we back out of town slowly, the mob following along. After we walk long enough the crowd disperses. Eventually Jonlun shows up; He’s the guy we earlier changes back from an Ettin to his normal human form, and he’s son of Mowick. A few games back when we were summoned to come help with the Ettin problem, it was Mowick’s other son to came to get us. Nice guy. Too bad he died in the flood, thus setting off a family blood lust. While Jonlun seems calm enough, everyone tries to keep an eye on him because he could just be putting on a brave face until he’s alone with the captive.

Well, sure enough, one night as we rest, he decides to sneak over and try to put the knife to Santos. He sticks him a few times, and in an attempt to keep Santos alive, Milton puts Holy Strength on him. Problem is, that gives him the one point of strength he needs to break his bonds. So now we’ve got the irrational kid and the crazed evil wizard to both deal with. Still traveling with us are Ivan and Pickles, the pair of dwarves. An instruction to them to “get him” causes both to tackle Jonlun, rather than Santos, which works out anyway. Santos tries to flee, but has to break a few tackles first. Eventually he’s brought down by blows before he escapes the cave we’re resting in.

During the melee, Santos managed to use a cantrip. “Missive” sends a message, but only within 1 mile. Don’t know if anyone was there to get it.

We continue to town and there notify Korgan, who notifies Renton, that we’re back with a likely cause of the flood. By now we’re all present, but Grace is just some odd goth girl who follows us around at a distance.

A meeting of the council promises to turn into a melee when Jonlun rushes Santos again. The trouble is put down by a well-placed Pacifism.

It is surmised by Jaydn that he may be able to make a potion that he can use to gain information from Santos. With that in mind, we set to repairs on our labs, procurement of land, the “processing” of bodies (What that is, I have NO idea, but it apparently involves sawing them to pieces and looting their pockets), fixing the town infrastructure, etc.

Dorian proposes a day of remembrance. His suggestion of calling it “9/11” is shot down though. I imagine it’ll be something like Highwater day or the Feast of Tides, or Thanksgiving. How about the “High Holy One”. Yeh, that’s it… we can all kneel down and celebrate the high holy one. …I blame Robert as a bad influence.

There’s an amusing interlude in which Jaydn enlists Milton to follow spooky goth girl, Grace, around the swamp. After she detects someone is following her she decides to wander the swamp for hours on end, at which point he deduces she must be a zombie because she never sleeps. Funniest part though involved when she went to take a bath in the stream. Milton decides he’s not going to look.

GM: Where are you at?
Milton: I’m hiding [inside] her clothing.

At least every single person present heard it that way, rather than “In sight of her clothing”. One of those moments you had to be there for.

Three days into this, there’s a disturbance. We’re having lunch at the Salty Dog when we hear explosions. Outside we find that the town is under attack by a man in red robes, riding a dragon. He’s flying over cackling and throwing pumpkin bombs—er, I mean, vials of stuff, which he lights off of the dragon’s breath. Evil technology is way ahead of ours it seems.

We leap to action. Priam spends several turns running back and forth to figure out what to do. Dorian ceaselessly taunts the red wizard (named Roatan) into hurting him. Masochist. Jaydn the creature factory is slow in developing big guns, but eventually gets a few out there. Milton’s Djinn shows up on cue and starts to peck, peck, peck away at the dragon. Malachi is healin’, and whipping out the occasional monster, but his most impressive creation, a Best of Burden, keeps fluctuation in size (because POW/DEF is based on number of creatures in play, and that’s ever changing); of course it’s facing at one point a creature that fluctuates based on number of sorceries in graveyards. Grace takes some of the shine off the dragon by causing it to suffer -1/-2, thus making it more harm-able. While the red wiz had many big plays, his biggest was one that did 4 damage to all creatures and killed 4 lands of every player. That set us back quite a bit, as you can imagine and slowed combat down.

The most entertaining combat exchange involved the dragon being weakened to the point where he couldn’t hold up the wizard and thus he fell through the building he had been bombing, sending the wizard into the basement, where the other wizard was. This causes the dragon to cover the opening like a cork in a bottle. We don’t get down there until the entourage of beasts chase the dragon out, who promptly dies, and then is batted away from the hole by the djinn. The red wiz dispatches the blue wiz, but himself winds up being captured.

We now have a few more buildings to fix, and an unhappy citizenry who seem to think that we are the cause of most of their woes because things were quiet before we graduated.

Going back to our tasks we are interrupted by a storm. Seems there’s a natural storm coming that somehow has been buffed magically. Naturally we are in its path, and we decide that the militia house is no longer the right place to keep the captive. Instead he’s hauled to the Grady’s mine, because it’s underground and outside of town (thus away from the focus of any assault).

The storm rages as the game ends.

GAME SIX: Just Say No to Shrooms and Psychedelic Toads

No, it's not a Grateful Dead concert, it's the gameweek write-up.

We have a couple days to try and do things, so we start by interrogating the Rotan, the red mage. He doesn't give up too much, though there are some pretty good attempts. The storm abates so we exit and check things out. Things were pretty crappy from the flood so it's hard to say that they're crappier, except our personal sanctuaries take a little more damage. Jaydn has taken on an apprentice, in the dwarven "druid" named Pickles. Ivan is still around. I'd make him an apprentice but Pickels is the cool one.

We are given some personal distractions. Seems that Milton has a family to raise, what with a woman and her child wanting his body. Then there's the former in-law of Malachi who wants him to step up and take over where his brother left off. Priam has a kid trying to get him to train him to be a wizard; problem is that the kid isn't a mana user, he's just a nuissance--so Priam has put him to work doing things in the smithy instead. Jaydn is involved with his hairy new little partner.

We decide to have a meeting with the town council, which is always a bad thing because it seems to be then that something attacks town. This time the first disturbance is when Grax, the patron of Dorian and the father of Grace, shows up, stumbling into town. We take him into the council chambers. As he's being helped another sound happens and we discover a small cadre of mushroom people are coming for him. They start hurting citizens as we try to close in on them. They're pretty big so they ignore most single hits (such as Priam's fire attacks and hits from small monsters) but once a few big guns are called in they're no problem.

Seems Grax was captured and held by the vegetables. There's a green wizard in the swamps plotting against the town. We alter our plan to head to bone hill the next day so that we are heading into the swamp.

There we find a spiral structure made of trees, mud, and anything else they could find, at the center of which is an opening. It basically looks like a big snake coiled into a spiral, with an open mouth at the inside end of the spiral. A protracted discussion takes place. Priam half-listens to them forever (or more like 10 minutes real time) as they plan and plot, the he just decides to do one of the plans half-cocked. Torm would be proud. Priam grabs a rope and heads to the structure. He scales it like spiderman and ties off the rope. Two groups of shroom-folk. He goes down the other side to draw their attention as the rest move up to the wall and start climbing. At least those with some kind of climb skill do. The others are hauled up.

A relatively easy battle takes place in comparison to some other large-scale things we've done before. I mean, we can take out the small shrooms with a single hit and the big ones we've fought in town so we know what won't work on them. The shroomfolk are routed. Don't get me wrong, we took plenty of damage, and used a lot of useful spells (as was pointed out to me by the many irritated members of the group who had to use their good spells on these guys rather than on the big wizard to come).

As a few fleeing shrooms head down the tunnel, a pursuit is attempted. However, when the summoned creatures durations end, we wind up regrouping and heading to the bottom as an ensemble. At the bottom, Priam breaks down the door and inside is a room with a snazzy looking torch in the middle, several smaller torches, a giant toad, a tree with roots sticking into some running water, and the green wizard.

There's a brief discussion which follows his question of whether we'd like to die first or after a talk. Mr. Charisma tries to talk the green wiz into joining us because we're less of a threat than the guild of Ptolus. The talk is broken up when Jaydn casts a detect magic and everyone flies into action. Down spells and life points, it won't be easy.

Especially since we're going so fast that we seem to be going forward in time.

This wizard has plenty of black spells, and that comes back to haunt him a little when swampwalkers come about from Dorian's hand. Priam does a little fire damage to the wiz, but mostly he's pecked at by many smaller creatures who will eventually take him out but not until after he's exhausted stream-of-life scrolls and life-drain scrolls to keep himself alive. Priam is the only good guy to go down as he charges the tree and takes a smackin' to put him at exactly zero. (Holy Strength and Bracers breed overconfidence.) The minions and summonables are easy to take care of, but once the wiz is down, the tree and frog are not all that easy. Seems one is a familiar of the wiz. It even prompts a retreat by the group after the green wiz goes down, only to find that more shrooms are coming up the tunnel behind us. Seems the Tree and Frog dont' like Dorian, but that's probably because he's able to successfully parry them with some big monster of his.

When the tree and frog are down, it's declared that the rest will not be a problem as we'll seal the doors and plink them off.

We retrieve what we can from the place and then return to town. We'll have four days now, assuming nothing breaks out.

Since, we're told, the guild of Ptolus sends out a full circle of wizards, this means we've yet to face a White and a Black wizard.

There's a rumor that there's a lich of some kind in the same swamps where the green wiz was felled. If true there might be some connection, or it might be coincidence. We also think Bone Hill would be a good launching point for a Black Wiz attack.

Among other things we find out: The door in the cellar below the Gradys' place is dwarven made (says the dwarf Ivan); he's seen ones like it way back home.

We're told by the GM that we can do some internet roleplaying. I will be sending a separate e-mail to Jim about a couple things I'd like to know.

GAME SEVEN: Journey Into Fail 2: Fail Harder!

We have 4 days to do stuff. We hope. In retrospect, we could have used that 4 days for our Journey. Damn timed game!

We do some personal stuff. Jayden and Malachi coordinate on a project to set up Malachi's home for wayward women. Malachi tries to make friends with the town's richest man (Preston). He gets Jayden to use one of his salves, which helps his toothache go away. In return he gives Jayden a good price on a bridge--er, rather on a building to house the town's widows and children. (I'm suggesting "Burning house of love" as the name of the facility.) Meanwhile my new wannabe-apprentice (Edgar) shows up bruised. Seems his dad doesn't want him working with me. I tell the kid maybe he should listen to his dad. Next day the kid doesn't show up but his dad does, and tries to pick a fight. Now Priam might normally throwdown with him and his pigheadedness, but truth is he's taking the kid off Priam's hands and also somewhat amusing Priam with his indignation. So instead Priam treats him in a "thank you, come again" manner. Too bad he didn't take a swing :-)

There's some politicking. The election is close. Oily guy is doing well in the polls by buying drinks for every drunkard who can vote. Preston is doing well because of his years of service. The guy from Farmington is trailing, and Oily-guy tries to paint him as an absentee ruler. "What will you do for us if you're spending all your time in Farmington?"

This is where Jayden tries to buy the election for him. And the stage is set, the Wizards Lobby owning the candidate from Farmington. Though so far the rest of us don't know this.

I don't remember much else of what people were doing in their off-time.

Our protracted discussion with Roatan finally concludes after many, many restatings of the conditions of his release. If I remember correctly: He will tell us all he knows about the Wizards who are coming for us (and he DOES know stuff), he'll teach one of us a ritual that assist us greatly, whithout which we cannot defeat one of the wizards, and in return we will set him free with two weeks of food, his pointy sword, and a rumor that he was killed. He tries for an additional deal; if we give him back his casting thingie (though no spells) he will assist in peforming this ritual. This part we can't guarantee.

The ritual, it turns out, involves the Standing Stones. Seems they are an ancient means of transportation. He says to fight the wizards we will need a device, and that device can only be had by using the standing stones to reach each part. When the parts are together he believes their assemblage will be self-evident.

Now the fly in the ointment in all this is that the Dwarves want to go home. It's their right, since they helped out so much. But time is short. It's 4 weeks until the narrow casting window (A holy day of the given season) and it would, at breakneck speed, be two weeks to the Pardic mountains and a like amount back. We surmise that if we can find another set of standing stones perhaps we can use the newly learned ritual to come back faster.

But I skipped the fight completely...

You see, in order to get council approval on our plan to get information from Roatan, we had to convene the council, which as we all know means a fight will happen. And like clockwork, on our way there a cluster of crocodiles (What is a group of crocs called? A flight? A gaggle? A luggage conveyor?) emerge from the sea and attack. There's one big one and a bunch of babies that leap off of it, a la Cloverfield.

So happens we had the right cards pop up, including the now infamous and coveted (nearly outlawed by the GM) Enfeeblement. They weren't much of a problem. Two of the town's other wizards actually showed up at the end to witness some of the mess, and participate just slightly.

Now about our trek with he dwarves: We actually make pretty good time. Using the wagon, the pack mule with the very ironic name of "Lucky", and sleeping/traveling in shifts, we cover a lot more ground than we normally would. Our first real encounter is with an elfen woman on a brand new road that has been constructed that connects the ancient elven kingdoms of Norwood and Llanowar. Seems she is a princess. Dorian duels her, but the conditions do him in (highest health after the duel). Like that, she's off to her home and we're continuing north.

In the Pardic mountains the dwarves summon their brethren, who are a cheerful, friendly bunch. They take us to their king, Bruenor Battlehammer, who treats us to ale and food other than crocodile meat (which we've been eating for days). We ask him about the door with the dwarven runes which is in our city. He says they have a door like it, but that ours has 3 dwarven runes and 3 elvish runes. He has no idea what the key would be. No one is aware of any standing stones in the area. This means we will have to gamble by heading to the elvish territory and hoping they have such stones.

Some of us say we will come back and help the King with a problem he has regarding a group of dwarves that splintered off into another tribe and are currently out of contact. But that will be after we settle things a little.

We head to the elvish kingdom of Llanowar, crossing a fast moving river by use of summoned creatures. We are greeted by elves who are suspicious of us, but we convince them we are there to speak to anyone who can assist us with getting home quickly, as well as to embrace the elvish kingdom on behalf of ourselves and their dwarven neighbors. Seems the Elves and Dwarves once had a pact, but have drifted apart. We carry with us a golden Harp that was once a gift of the elves to the Dwarves. We "re-gift it" as a rememberance of that once great union. Seems the elves have had to deal with the Guild of Ptolus in a hostile manner on many occasions. As they live long but don't reproduce quickly, it's hard for the elves to lose anyone, which invariably happens when the Guild comes after them. We talk of a mutual defense, but it seems that the elves are pretty self-sufficient and we may not have much to offer them. Dorian brings up the idea that with our standing stones and theirs, and the subsequent other stones we will discover on our journey, it may be possible for the elves to get anywhere they want! They decide we can use their standing stones if we take an elven representative with use; that would be Princess Marluna (not to be confused with Princess Bright Moon, Sailor Moon, or Pretty Pretty Princess, who all head other kingdoms) whom we've met. Sounds fine to us.

Now the interesting stuff is what she tells us about Ptolus and the Prophecies. Seems there were 5 prophecies, one for each color. But there was, often forgotten, a sixth prophecy. That one is about how a circle of wizards will rise out of Norvington to destroy the guild of Ptolus. This town was renamed Orvington, then Orving, then Orvy, and now Ivy. So the reason they want both us AND the town dead, is to make sure that no other wizards come from there.

The coastal ruins are the most obvious example of the ancient city which once was part of our immense city.

Oh, and the trip north did not succeed in it's purpose of dropping off the dwarves. Apprentice Pickel wants to stay with us, and Ivan wants to remain and protect him.

So... dangling plotlines...
• The Dwarven-made doors
• The Coastal Ruins
• Bone Hill
• The standing stones (of transit)
• The statue in the town square (that radiates magic)
• The election (We had to leave before the vote so we don't know who won)
• Returning to help the Dwarven king's lost tribe

Did I mention that the White Wizard is a manipulative mentalist type/hot babe? How about that the Black Wiz is building some sort of golem or construct to come for us?

Roatan (the red wizard), if I understand my chronology correctly, has been release by the town by now as the conditions of his release were met.

I'm sure there are more details that escape me, but this was a detail-heavy game. For example, i just remembered that the Dwarves in return for helping them with their problem, will train those of us who pay the XP for the feat, to enchant objects--something I know I'd like to learn.

And the "failure" I mention is that we didn't get back to town in time to perform the ceremony before the holy day. Now we've got to wait an entire season to cast that ritual, during which time the wizards will likely attack and we will not have the device we need to defeat one, if we believe Roatan.

GAME EIGHT: No New Blood Taxes

We use the Standing Stone "portal" to come back to town. Seems some things have changed since we were gone and NOT for the better. Rather than finding either a normal town, or conversely the smoking crater many of us suspected, we found a town gripped in the turmoil of transition.

While we were gone, the council started enacting CrazyBadLaws. Keep in mind the laws are not in front of me.

Talking with our mentors yielded a few things. Grax thought they were crazy or possessed but he hadn't been able to examine them. He seemed in his right mind. Priestess Alara was likely on the same track, but we couldn't verify her health because she'd blown town in search of a cure. Sheesh--you just know she's being held captive by pygmies or something. Now the fun ones...

Korgan tells Priam that he's developed a new method of smithing. You make metal very cold and then bang on it and the metal works better. A demonstration did not hold up, but he seemed undeterred.

Priestess Vera knows how to heal people by putting a mixture of Basil and Oysters into the wounds. Yup. She tells Malachi this.

Milton visits the owner of the Salty Dog (his father) and discovers that he has a new method of blancing the book, which involves putting them carefully on the edge of the table. He's working on another method that involves standing on top of them with some on his head.

This touch of the crazies brought to you by obvious enchantment. All show as emanating magic.

Captain Renton is the new council member. He seems to have no problem with the crazy new laws. He's suddenly changed from sullen and unemotive to very vocal and expository.

One guy who does not show insanity (more than usual) is the man who lost his council bid, Giels. The slimey businessman has taken the opporunity to somehow work his way into council sessions which are now otherwise barred to outsiders.

One proposed fix is for Grax to go to the swamp with the ancient lich and challenge it to a duel. The results being either loss of Grax's soul or Gaining of a method of defeating the enchantment. This is frowned upon by both Grace and Dorian, who actually considers dueling his father for the right to go to the swamp. Instead he convinces him to hold on a few days while we try to work out the issues.

A superficial investigation of Giels (going to his shop and standing around) yields nothing.

We enact the "buddy system" fearing that a stranger in town, a woman with white robes and blonde hair who supposedly came in from Shangarn (though no one from Shangarn recognizes her) might come to them and take control of them. Seems she has been sighted with all of the principle crazies at one time or another.

They post the new law about the blood. It's time to stop this.

So we can't get into the council meeting. "You're not on the list" says the guard. "I think you're reading that list wrong," Priam intimidates. "Ok! Ok! Look for yourself," he says. The only name on the scroll is Giels. At this point Priam tries to bait the guard into a fight. (He plans to take out the guards and then he and his friends can go in and have a seat in the chambers.)

Not liking this particular move, Dorian begins to retreat, until a crowd gathers and Priam decides he'd be better of fomenting a revolution. "Is this kind of crazy law-making the kind of thing we elected them for?" He does a terrible job of stirring the crowd though he has good points. Dorian decides he likes this and starts to stir them up himself with arguments about the blood tax. "Do you want your wives, mothers, children, selves having to bleed? No blood taxes! No blood taxes!..."

Renton comes out and tries to muster the militia but it takes no time at all before there are a couple hundred people in the square and only 10 guards.

Giels tries to run away so at Dorian's behest, Priam chases him down. Milton plays backup and keeps Giels' wife out of the way and plays interference with citizens who are unsure of why that wizard beat up giels.

Renton decides he can defuse the coming fight by sending his militia back to their base. But Dorian forces a rift, encouraging them to look at the insanity they are made to do. Half stay and half head back to the militia house. The crowd is further stirred up by the interplay of Jadyn (shouting things from the crowd) and Dorian.

It is finally decided that we must go into the chamber and confront the council. We have to convince the citizens to do something for which there is no law... Dorian invents the concept of a "recall". With the assistance of "Jerry the Guard", an NPC he recommended for the job in the militia (thus gaining his gratitude) Renton is temporarily replaced. But there's the matter of custody.

A fight breaks out. The posessed Korgan and Renton try to take on our group of heroes, but fail. They were not fully prepared or capable of dealing with our numbers. Vera doesn't do any real resistance (aside form not wanting her spell focus taken away).

Jerry is temporary guard captain. We enlist him in holding the council overnight and lending us a guard as witness while we search Giels home.

Seems Giels has a workshop for building shoddy tools and adventuring implements, forging fake artifacts, and a secret door for accessing a dungeon below the city. We do some dungeon crawl, defeating two animated statues and six guards. The rest of the crawl is traps which are either noticed and defuse or knock Milton unconscious as he tries.

The other end of the Dungeon exits into the beach near the river. Seems there were people here (footprints) but not recently.

In Giels quarters we had found the smoking gun, in the form of a communique from and outside individual with some vague details about their plans. They plan to crack the council's hold on town by use of the crazy laws. When they are overthrown the new council will be headed by Giels, supposedly.

We meet with Grax at his palacial shack in the swamp. It's decided that we will head back up river to the point where we exited the dungeon, then a mile beyond to the strange arch in the water that we suspect may be some kind of portal or something. In any event that's the direct the people's footprints had gone. Jadyn will stay behind to work on a potion of truth-telling, while in his stead will be his buddy Pickles.

Pickles might have been better off not coming because when we get up river and beach the boat, we're attacked by a crab that had been disguised as a sand dune... A crab with a taste for pickles! Though eventually it decides it wants a bite of nearly everyone. The crab is destroyed by the black family, as Dorian casts an enchantment that makes him die if he sustains any damage and Grace follows with a spell that drains some life. The crab cracks, and you know there's nothing like cracked crab!

GAME NINE:  Two Girls, One Archway

I'll save Joe the suspense: No familiars were found during this adventure.

Having reached shore not far from the strange natural arch landmark, we leave Pickles at the boat and after a brief time considering crossing the sand bar that runs from land to the arch, we finally just take the plunge and do it. Thing is, if you can't manage an athletics of 6 then you're moving at half speed, which for some people is like not moving at all. Priam runs across and sure enough down come the eagles. They decide to engage him first. He vaporizes one withe a volcanic hammer, but then a young blonde girl with a handful of guards show up from the arch and try to engage as well. She summons things that go out to engage the encroaching Milton and Dorian while Priam smacks down some birds and fries others. Dorian calls up a Mortivore, which gets pretty big because of all the cards in our graveyards. When she's low on defenses, the blonde girl runs inside a cave at the arches and Priam pursues. By now he's a 6/4 First Strike creature who breathes fire, so intimidating her into surrendering is pretty easy. Dorian encourages the two archers who were sniping at us through a defensive position into fleeing because his Mortivore is so frightening.

Then the made rush begins to find our foe before our spells run out.

This has since prompted a somewhat logical change in the rules, which will likley be in the next errata. Basically, instead of the spells continuing for a number of minutes after fight ends equal to your primary stat, instead the spells stay up as long as you keep drawing cards each round. Once combat has ended and you decide to stop drawing cards or engage in a physical action that forces you to stop drawing, then your spells will drop.

But back to the action...

We run up the inside of the pillar, the fire-breathing red mage leading the way, triggering traps without much care. Milton is canceling lightning-bolt traps, and Dorian is spotting secret doors and floor traps. It all works pretty well but as we're using the old rules at this time, spells eventually run out and we can slow down again and draw back up to full.

When we find the true white mage, she is in a cave with 4 guards, two enormous golems, and she's riding a manticore. What happens next is a fight that lasts several hours, which is pretty impressive for a card-based system. By the end of the fight everyone has gone through a significant portion of their decks. Here are the highlights.

Priam starts out low on health so a blow from a Golem forces him to back down the hall and play support. For most of the fighting he uses a dwarven forger to keep buffing people, casts the occasional direct damage spell to take out things the white mage has summoned, and when he gets a chance, heals himself with an enchantment.

Dorian gets a big hitter into combat and uses it to block out the golems, and subsequently smash them to bits.

At one point we have a host of creatures up on the table when the White mage decides she wants to start over. She throws down card and kills every single creature in play, and the fight, in effect, starts over, except she has lots of health from various things she's cast.

This does however fill the graveyards with creatures. This means that when Dorian's Mortivore comes out again, rising from his graveyard, it becomes a 31/31 creature at one point.

Milton is doing a great job of cancelling out the white mages potions and spells, but is incredibly low on cards. In fact, he avoids unconsciousness only by using two cards in tandem; the continually reclaim one another from the graveyard, returning to the library, thus giving him something to draw each turn.

Milton's Djinn is out there wanting to kick some butt, but is running up against some tough things.

The Mortivore can't reach the girl because she's banded with her Manticore. So she gleefully flies overhead and attacks from there.

Malachi uses his "tap to prevent damage" creatures to keep the Djinn and various others alive.

She's down to 8 cards when she takes the last point of damage and goes down. By this time much of the team are on their last few life points, and her manticore decides to flee out the exit and try to fly away. However, the manticore crashes when Milton is carried out far enough to catch up and set in the water; He manages to cast his last couple of spells from the surf that cause the manticore to crash and burn (well, drown anyway). The white mage is decidedly dead. We have to dredge the sea bottom to find anything of use that might have been on her body.

Between that and the cave we come across some money, a bunch of lab equipment (which we can use to repair our labs if we need to), and 5 potions used for breaking enchantments. We beat a hasty retreat back to Ivy where we use the potions to cure the 5 town council, bringing them back to their right frame of mind.

We set to having the council right some wrongs. They come up with a method of recalling council members by popular vote. They repeal their silly laws.

Only Malachi knows this and hasn't related it to the party yet: Seems Priestess Vera is interested in retiring from council. She's deciding whether to do it now and force another election or leave when the next election happens, thus two seats will be up for grabs.

Alara finally returns, with some Norwood elves in tow. They are there to "cure out curse", which we've already done. They offer us in friendship a neat little bow that never runs out of arrows as long as the user has mana. Would have been good for use on Stirges. (That's foreshadowing!)

We need to find the black mage. We decide searching Bone Hill would be the easiest way to go. However, it seems that the group fail to check their health. The only guy going in uninjured is Priam. We find nothing important down around the bottom of the hill, but it seems that there might be a reason for this. When one steps on the hill the gras seems to clutch at your feet. Sound doesn't carry well up here either, as if there's no echo.

At the front gate we get our first real glimpse of the place. We see a couple of holes in the walls but we opt to try the front gate, at which point we're unde seige by groups of rats and a bunch of crows (stirges) that line the walls above the gate. The inured team are hardly a match for them. The stirges get bigger after a successful hit, growing by 1/1 each time. This means that when Milton goes down and Dorian sounds retreat, Priam still has to smack them down otherwise we end up with a bunch of stirges coming after them and getting bigger each round. Malachi drops outside the gate and Dorian comes back. He manages to get some creatures out to hurt the rats; as they take damage their power and toughness shrink, so eventually they're small enough that they can't hurt the two concious characters. The other two are hauled away to be healed.

We spent a day or two of down time healing and trying to make spells.

Oh, and Grax has gone Lich Hunting (or dueling). Dumbass.

Current list of Ivy curiosities...

• The statue in the middle of town likely is holder for a more powerful magic item or artifact.
• The dwarven/elven door. <--------- Are the Norwood elves still in town? Might be good to take one of them down to see the door.
• The coastal ruins
• Bone Hill
• The sunken ship off the coast
• The Pirates that attacked Korgan, who was investigating the sunken ship off the coast.

GAME TEN:  Name the Recap Contest

Contest! The person who comes up with the best name for the recap will henceforth have it named thusly!...

Ok, okay. The truth is I just can't remember ANY of the suggestions for names for this game recap. I held up sending this for an hour while trying to remember. Sometimes it's less like a game than it is like open mic night at the Comedy Store. Unfortunately, short of bringing a tape recorder or a secretary, most of it is lost. I recall lots of double-entedres, monkey-touching, and other things best left out of print.

I mean, c'mon, it's a tough job. I've got to... um... mention only things about my character, forget who killed what (unless it was me), and dismiss all the combats as way too easy or way too difficult. It's hard out there for a pimp.

EDIT: I just now (another 15 minutes later) remembered one of the names... PORNO, THE DOG THAT CUMS WHEN YOU CALL. But I couldn't put that in the subject of any e-mail that will be going too and from work. And yes, if I own a dog, I may very well have to name it Porn. That also gives us such Robertesque lines as, "Come back to my place and see my doggy, Porn."

THE WIZI: (Plural for wizard!)

On the heels of last game's failed incursion into Bone Hill we have a discussion over what the next thing is that we should do. March on Bone Hill again, or head to the Coastal Ruins, or go find Grax, who may have gone off to fight the Lich in the swamp.

We decide to go find Grax, when next morning we arise to do so and instead find Grax is home. What's more, he's shown up for the city council meeting (at the begging of Grace). The meeting is not being held in order to encourage a fight with some random creature, as usually happens, but because the emissary from the Llanowar elves (Marluna, their Princess) has shown up and requests an audience. She brings with her some gifts for us. This includes an acorn we plant in order to grow a tree that can feed 100 people, which will likely be used as part of our memorial to the city's fallen and drowned. Each one of us gets something nifty. (Priam gets an acorn that Blows up real good, Jayden gets a seed that grows a tree that he can use as a new sanctuary, as two examples.)

With no need to find Grax, we get back to deciding where to go next. We have a black mage out there somewhere waiting to kick our butts. We have 6 weeks until the holiday that allows us to use the lay-line portals. There's some fear that investigating Bone Hill might stir up much more trouble that has been slumbering, so we set sight on the coastal ruins. The other reason to head that way is that blood from livestock that have been attacked seems to lead that general direction (or so Jayden leads us to believe). We follow the trail and discover more blood-sucking crows.

We spend a couple rounds setting up spells, then engage. At first it's a pretty scary proposition, but after a couple rounds we have most of them put down; problem is that one nearly every round comes flying out of the nearby cave, like clockwork. This leads us to believe that inside there is someone/something continually summoning them. Banged up by now, we realize we don't have any option but to rush in. We discover that the crows are being generated from a pool of evil, from which they form and fly out to attack us. Standing beside this pool is a raven-headed fellow who caws out some things we can't understand.

I can't say that we were in major danger during the following fight, but it was a long, eventful struggle. Priam had to be saved a couple times by the application of "instants" by others, but he also delivered some solid damage to raven-guy. A lot of the crows got taken out by Milton's spider that would zap all flyers, though that did some damage to Priam and to Jayden's new familiar (a huge winged ape). Raven-boy decides to escape, and nearly does. Everyone chases after, with hope of getting off running him to ground. He's brought down by a parting shot and there is much rejoicing. His pool stops producing blood-sucking crows, and we bury it to make it less noticable. After that we head back to town because we realize by following the blood trail wer'e actually further from the Coastal Ruins than town was from the ruins.

Some reasearch on Bone Hill combined with some information from Marluna tells us a few things about that place as well as the Lich in the swamp. Seems there was once a power struggle between the King of this region, who lived in that keep, and the Lich of the swamp. Eventually the king lost and was somehow condemned by means we don't yet understand. It's likely he who haunts the ruins at Bone Hill. Also, it seems there was a Banner of Protection which affords some sort of, well... protection, naturally, that seems to be missing, which likely made it easier to invade the keep.

At the gate we encounter stuff similar to what we faced last time; big ablative swarms of rats and bloodsucking undead birds. As last time, it's not easy to take them down, but it helped that we prepped a bit first and that nobody was going in injured. But after the fight we have a few injuries and decide to press onward, maintaining spells (via the new method where you draw and discard each round to keep your spells up).

Priam breaks down a door and we walk down a hall and can hear sounds of combat. Priam picks the double-doors and nearly opens the door (the Djinn or a Kavu Titan or something finishing the job) and inside is not only the undead king of legend, but a court full of skeletons and zombies doing combat. He commands them all to attack us and they charge. Generally, the 2/2 regenerating skels aren't all that bad, the 3/3 zombies are a little more trouble (but not much, because we have so many creatures up) but the real problem is the two spectral hounds the king calls for.

It's worth noting that the king seems to be stuck in some kind of loop. He calls for his minions to defend him, says to get his children to "the gate", lather, rinse, repeat. I can't recall now if it was Malachi's enchantement killer or... actually I think it was Jayden's creature that kills enchantments when it comes into combat, that temporarily dispelled the king (who was insubstantial and could not be struck otherwise). When he disappeared, he took his hounds with him. However, since he's a broken record on a turntable, he comes back later after we've killed his minions.

While he seems to be out of it, he is actually engaged by characters with high diplomacy, to answer a couple questions. It seems his children have been rushed to the gate (which is not the front gate, but rather down in the Wizard's lab, downstairs). Seems we can put him to rest if we retrieve and properly dispose his remains. We do some house cleaning on the whole castle. We discover (by blundering into it) a room that has no exit. A detect magic shows where the door was, and a dispel brings it back, long enough for everyone to get through. In that room was one of the adventurers form an earlier party, now deceased of course. Next place we check out is the adjacent room, in which there is wizard equipment and a gate that seems to be open, with a body half thorugh it. Retrieving the body gets us only half of it. The body is that of the wizard who created the gate. While two of us read the diary of said wizard, the rest check the castle's as-yet unchecked areas, then return.

While we'd love to go in now in theory, many of us have cycled far into our decks. We'll have to do this another day. It's said that maybe we should sleep in the castle, but castle DEATH is not exactly an inviting and restful environment. Pluse we might want to make some deck changes.

When we come back the next day, it's all there again. However, Jim doesn't want to run all that stuff a second time and we don't want to fight it all a second time, so we use some personal judgement and burn off some cards to advance time, discarding anything we feel we would have used to gain access (I know I lost about 1/3 of my deck doing this).

The gate, by the way, is called a SHADOW GATE. Seems it's a link to an alternate version of Dominaria. There are some serious downsides to this place. First off, it's full of things that people here may have thought up. Dream it here, have it become real there. Next, once inside, if you tap land, that land stays tapped. That means any trip we do will be short. We learn that upon crossing over, all standing spells (all permanents) go to the graveyard. Inside is a castle exactly like Bone Hill, and we are at the same gate in the same room in the basement, only slightly different of course. We know what room to go to, so we head up to find the king, so we can kick his butt, take his body back, and dispose of it. We think that without doing this the gate will not close and anything can wander through.

So we end up with the same Zombie & Skel action. But we also have a fully functioning king who summons two spectral hounds and also fights along, AND who calls for his wizard to reinforcements. In this case it's this world's version of the wizard who discovered the gate. First off, this king can hit for a LOT of damage (about 5 pts a pop) and has plenty of armor, vigilance, and first strike. The spectral hounds will be touble again (being 5/5 creatures with fear) but one gets taken out quickly. Jayden has up a big nasty ape that is wailing on foes and nearly goes down a few times but for the instant buffs of Milton and Malachi. Ultimately it dies when the enemy wizard hits it wich a kill non-black creature spell. Fortunately for us, the king is a hands-on guy, so he's at the doorway, preventing others from rushing through to get us. Jayden is blocking the way.

Once again it turns out that possibly the most helpful spell we've come across in this game is the much maligned Enfeeblement. When Grace slaps that on the king, his armor goes away and he doesn't hit for so much, so Jayden can stand there and prevent bad guys from coming through. When the king drops, he runs off with the king to the gate and Priam blocks the doorway. We perform a room-by-room retreat until we're through the gate. Milton suggests that the king should come through after us, because we don't want the gate to close on us. This is the right choice as the gate closes once he's through.

We can now put the king to rest and perhaps reclaim Bone Hill, which was once the focus of defense for the region.

In minor administrative doings: Malachi's brothel has a woman running it for him. And there's a ruling by the council that allows Milton to run a sort of "lottery" to parcel out the pieces of abandoned land to the new citizens of the city who are homeless. Damn commie. Ivan, the dwarf, is now a full-time employee at the forge, working for Korgan. Milton's dad is still banging his ex.

Oh, and we found the banner of defense. It gets attached to a structure and those within get some bonuses. No word on weather that's what goes in the statue's hand in the square. It sounds more likely since it lends it to a structure that it probably was attached to the keep.

Did I mention the in-game time change? Seems that time passes differently in the Shadow Realm. We were gone nearly 6 weeks. So right now it's just two days before we jump through the portal. So start considering what you do for 2 days.

GAME ELEVEN:  The Tension Between Beavers and Nuts

The Wizzenest:

We went through that shadow portal last time around and though we weren’t gone all that long from our perspective, it turns out we were gone a full season in the real world. They’ve put up a plaque in our honor, the tree that the elves gave us has grown to full size, Malachi’s whore/boarding house has been emptied of most people (they have been placed on farms), and they’ve had a strong period of prosperity in our absence. So you know something bad is going to happen.

Some of the folks seemed to have wished we gave our lives ending the threats to the town, because things have gone so well. Some of our sanctuaries have been packed up (Not Jayden’s because people couldn’t get to it and not Priam’s because it seemed too dangerous to touch). Things have gone on, though we are presumed dead.

Anyway, the trouble begins anew with another council meeting. We are two days from going through a portal to retrieve the first part of a device/weapon/something that must be assembled in order for us to defeat whatever construct it is that the bad guys have sent after us. So naturally, with a council in session we should have some drama. In this case, a stranger breaks into the meeting. He’s come from a town a few days distant which is besieged by ghouls, ghosts, zombies, skeletons, what have ya. More accurately, he said there was a man riding a flaming horse, four giant skeletal things, and a bunch of cockroaches and stuff that materialized out of nowhere.

We have two day ‘til it arrives. Yet we have to go tomorrow to do this item retrieval thing because that’s the holy day, which is when the portal will take us where we need to go. If we stick around and prep the city then we’ll never get the object we need. If we go, the city is defenseless.

However, lurking about town, are two factions of soldiers. We have the familiar grey-cloaks, the mercenaries who it turned out last time were there to work against us. Naturally this is a different group, but they may be hired to help the town. The other group of soldiers are a famed group of soldiers who always work together. They too will help defend the town for the right price. Alan takes up the part of the mercenary leader and Joe negotiates on behalf of the town.

Some ideas for defense of the town include using the newly liberated Bone Hill keep, the underground cavern that had been beneath Giles shop, and using a good ambush point on the road to town to perform a first strike.

It all sounds good, but we have to go. We do as much as we can (which includes drinking all night and dancing with the town’s new resident “Happy”, who is a woman who showed up in town and dances for no reason out by the statue). Our last act before taking off is to attach the Banner of Defense to the Statue. This causes the defense to amplify, protecting the whole city.

Next day we get together early, Milton uses the ability to use lay line portals, opens a shimmering red portal, and away we go.

Welcome to the desert, noon. So we’re probably across the world somewhere. We climb out of a recess in a dune and head to a large brass tower in the sand. Immediately we are assailed by lizard men riding even bigger lizards. They’re big, but only because they’re banded. Once we do enough damage to take out their rides or do direct damage to the rider, they start to drop reasonably quickly. That leaves us with the typical question: Keep spending a card per turn to advance to the next area and maintain spells, or drop ‘em and be more cautious. Priam drops his everyone else maintains.

At the tower we have to break down the door then rush the stairs. Those who fly up get there a round faster. Up top is an Efreet with an assortment of Magma Giants. The ensuing fight is like many of our fights; we start picking off his friends, he summons creatures that begin to be a pain, but once we plow through his helpers the Efreet himself cannot stand up to a concentrated effort. Still it’s a long battle, and the Efreet’s biggest pain is Milton’s Djinn, as they fight for desert myth superiority.

The prize for our effort is a green bracer with a ruby inset. It gives the possessor immunity to normal fire, +1 DR vs. red spells, and Vigilance. Priam wears it proudly. Vigilance is just what he needed to add to his first strike arsenal.

We are pretty dang injured by now over all. So do we go back to town, go on to the next site, or rest here then go on to the next site. We have time issues. Well, it turns out that resting there wasn’t necessary, as when we pass through the gate we end up back in town anyway. The gate closes behind us and the proximity of our new treasure causes a new gate to open… this one green.

Well, we check in with the town, nothing has happened yet, so we plunge back through. This time we end up in a forest. Some wolves come after us but after one round of fighting, they are called off by… a tree. Elmbeard, the local treant master of this area, has come and apologizes for the attack. He wants to know if we are friends of Willowmist, which we are not. We tell him why were are there (to find an object, likely with a green gem inset). He has such an object. We ask for it and he says he likes it and why should he give it. We tell him we’ll help him with his Willowmist problem, which is that a local dryad (so named) disrespects him by encroaching on his dominion and keeps his forest friends from water they need to grow. We tell him we’ll try to convince Willowmist (by whatever means appropriate) to allow his creatures through to the river. This is the mission that launched a thousand nut, bush, and beaver jokes. Jim claims it wasn’t pre-meditated, but how could he not think that a Dryad whose beavers are damming up the river would not inspire such behavior.

So we go seeking the Dryad. Malachi notices something odd as we walk. Seems that Milton stared off into the forest at some point and then continued on as if nothing had happened. Yes, he’s seen the dryad and she’s hot. Next up is Jayden, however he mentions it to us (“Hey, I saw a smokin’ hot dryad”). We call her out and she comes out to talk with us. Seems that her problem with Elmbeard is that he’s too territorial, too rigid. She’s all about fun. Frankly, she reminds me a lot of “Happy”, the dancer who appeared in town; he won’t let her and her creatures travel through what he thinks is his area. We convince her to come back and discuss this. The condition to come back and negotiate is that Milton (who had the highest Charisma I believe, among those who showed for the game) had to agree to come back to her after he’s finished his work protecting the town, and stay with her for a season.

After some negotiation we wind up with these terms: Elmbeard agrees to allow her and her friends to pass freely through his area for all but the winter months, and she agrees to allow the water to flow freely. For our troubles, we get the Barkskin amulet with the green gem. It allows the wearer to create a 3/3 bear, for no mana cost, every turn; they count toward maximum summoned creatures.

Didn’t take all that long. We pass back through to town, the next gate is black. Of course neither black wiz showed for the game.

Through the black portal we find that we are underground or indoors. It looks like a dungeon or tomb. Through the first door we find a statue with two faces. He lets us walk by, but when I try to open the door on the other side of the room, he rushes me. He’s stopped by a Pacifism from Malachi (much to my pleasure, because I wasn’t going to survive another hit like that). We find a glyph in the hall which prevents the undead from passing. Oh good, it’s time to head into undead lands.

We are greeted by a g-g-g-g-ghost. By greeted, I mean assaulted. Seems each time he hits someone he becomes more solid and gains more abilities. Milton and Priam try to flee for their lives. Priam has the ghost between him and the exit, so he spends his time trying to open the new door at his end. Well, good thing the fear only lasted for two turns because had it gone longer I would have run into a HORDE of undead who were behind the door. Take every physical undead type that could be restrained by a door, and put them on the other side of this door. Good thing the guys killed the ghost is all I can say. We had to yank the door closed and bar it again.

At the other end of the hall is another door with a chamber at the end in which resides… a sarcophagus, home of the lich of this tomb. He comes at us and a long, long battle takes place. Now the big thing working in his favor is that each time he attacks us and does damage, he gains life. So by the time we actually are able to harm this guy because he has blockers down, he’s got what? 70-something health? He’s able to call up lots of blocking guys but he doesn’t have any fliers, so with everyone eventually having a fly spell on them, he can’t attack us, and he can’t target our creatures (because that’s not how MTG works), he’s stuck being unable to get bigger. There’s a long series of draws where we’re trying to break the stalemate. We kill lots of his minions (I got to use Flamewave for the first time so I’m happy).

The turning point comes when the Lich runs out of library! He’s got the feat that lets him stay conscious, but still… he can’t get more stuff. So we’re waiting on a series of events. We need: Priam to draw a direct damage spell so that he can kill the Assassin (who otherwise kills anything that taps when it attacks the lich), so that Jayden can send in one of his major over-stuffed creatures. Malachi is keeping folks alive with his prevent-damage abilities. In the meantime, Milton gets a creature that can’t be harmed by black creatures; so he gets to attack away and not be harmed. Finally, the assassin falls into some quicksand and the floodgates let loose. Jayden is doing tons of damage to the Lich, who crumples in short order. His item gives the wearer health for every time the wearer does damage.

So now we’ve got 3 items and have 2 to go. Nothing has attacked the town YET. We don’t have to know how to combine them; they simply gravitate towards one another, as if magnetic; so they’ll just combine easily enough.


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