Tomb of Horrors #2

Here are those clues again, guys.

Mosaic clue:

Go back to the tormentor or through the arch,
and the second great hall you’ll discover.
Shun green if you can, but night’s good color
is for those of great valor.
If shades of red stand for blood the wise
will not need sacrifice aught but a loop of
magical metal - you’re well along your march.
Two pits along the way will be found to lead
to a fortuitous fall, so check the wall.
These keys and those are most important of all,
and beware of trembling hands and what will maul.
If you find the false you find the true
and into the columned hall you’ll come,
and there the throne that’s key and keyed.
The iron men of visage grim do more than
meets the viewer’s eye.
You’ve left and left and found my Tomb
and now your soul will die.

Gargoyle Necklace clue:

Look low and high for gold, to hear a tale untold. The archway at
the end, and on your way you’ll wend.

And now, the recap.

Things heated up in the second foray into the tomb of horrors.  As I may have mentioned, I sent a high level cleric NPC with the party to help them with their healing needs.  He's a complete coward, and will only follow the PCs into the tomb if there's great need.  He'll never participate in a battle.

In the time that passed since the first entry into the tomb, this cleric healed up the party, and they were ready to rock again.  They ran into the tomb and through the series of secret doors, emerging into the second long hall (with murals of humanoids holding spheres).  Then they realized that the secret door leading in was one-way.  Uh-oh.

Ryld (the Thief) realized that his only means of surviving would be to work with the rest of the group and use his thief skills in their favor.  For now.  He checked the northern door for traps and found none.  Rak (Fighter) opened the door and made his saving throw, narrowly missing the spear trap.  Ryld then checked the southern door for traps.  Finding none, he opened the door and got speared.

They checked out the room, and remembered the "night's good color" hint in the mosaic clue.  Keryth (the Wizard) checked the black sphere painting and found that it was an illusory wall, and everyone piled into the crawlway.

Usul (Paladin) found the secret door at the end on the first try, and they poured into the evil chapel.  Ryld checked for traps on all of the pews, and they loaded up on silver, gold, electrum, and oh-crap-gas-trap-run-right-now.  They made it out of the chapel before it filled with gas, and went back in after the gas had dissipated.

They looked at the arch warily, then looked at the gate with the slot.  They tried putting one of each kind of coin into the slot to no avail.  Keryth drew a badger from his bag of tricks, and sent it through the arch.  It came out fighting mad, but didn't put up much of a fight.  Then Usul boldly marched through the archway (the third misty arch they've passed, the second they've actually looked at, and the first that anyone has tried walking through).  Usul remained a paladin, but his sex and alignment were reversed.  She emerged, threw her holy symbol on the ground and stomped on it.  Xewt the Charity Cleric cast remove curse, Usul walked back through the arch (only once!) and the party's male palidin was back to normal.  He came out and picked up his holy symbol again.

Rak sat in the chair, but nothing happened.  Keryth examined the altar, being careful not to touch it.  Impatient with everyone's ginger behavior, Oktober (Fighter/Mage) grumbled and belligerently touched the altar, which sent a lightning bolt blasting outward from the altar.  Only Ryld was in its path, and after making his save vs. spell, he only took 20 points of damage.  That's a lot for 2e, though.  His player, Travis, started talking and just about said "I'm bloodied", but caught himself and remembered that there's no such status in 2e.

The altar turned an angry blue-red (so, purple I guess?) and throbbed with evil fury, so Usul promptly whacked it with his sword.  This made the altar explode in a 60' radius, because Acererak is a dick.  The Tomb claimed its first victims.  Ryld, Oktober and Keryth were reduced to smouldering ruin on the chapel floor.

Luckily for them, the blast didn't kill the charity cleric.  It was a close thing, though.  He had about 3 hp left.  But the party spent a good long time in the chapel healing up and raising the dead, and soon were on their way again.

They figured out the meaning of the letter "O" traced above the slot, and Rak put his ring of fire resistance into the slot.  The door opened.  Once again, I rolled a 4 on a d6 when Rak fell into the first pit trap.  The second and third were found by the PCs when they decided to be careful, and they actually remembered the "fortuitous fall" section of the clue.  They found the secret door to the south, and actually found the one immediately after that because Keryth noticed it as they walked by.

They explored some of the hallways but didn't open doors, and instead went to the Mummy room.  (It's actually kind of funny, the route they've chosen to take.  My OCD would drive me crazy leaving so many doors unopened and hallways unexplored.  See below.)  Usul took his rope and dipped it into the first vat, and nothing happened.  He did the same with the second vat.  When he reached the third vat, the ochre jelly attacked, but it was a seriously weak monster compared to the level of the PCs, so they dispatched it with ease.  They found half of the key in the bottom of the vat.  Usul then found a container and ladled out the contents of the second vat, carefully enough to not get burned by the flesh eating acid that it contained.  They were able to find the second half of the key, snapped 'em together, and decided to call it a night.

This is the map that they've revealed so far:

I think they're starting to get a little agitated with the tomb experience, and that's probably what Gygax intended.  We'll see how much farther they can make it, when next we meet.

The Tomb of Horrors

Over a year ago, I started my 4th Edition players on the Tomb of Horrors superadventure.  They are still in the early stages, having just finished the first of four chapters.  After a few intervening adventures, they're almost ready to start chapter two, as soon as we find time  to get together for tabletop gaming.  In the meantime, we've been having fun with online sessions using Maptool, a handy online tabletop.

None of my players have played the original Gygaxian masterpiece, which is a legend among D&D adventures.  Since it provides both back story and insight as to the 4e adventure, I decided to run them through it, using their old 2nd edition characters, to which they're hopefully no longer so attached.

It's interesting, because we're a 4th edition group, but now we're switching back to 2nd edition rules to play a 1st edition adventure.  The conversion isn't seamless, but it's helping us realize why we switched to 4e in the first place.  We resisted 3rd edition and 3.5, holding firmly to our grognard attitudes, but when I read the 4e PHB I realized that the changes were very much for the better.  Thac0 is whacko.  Problems arise playing a 1e adventure, though -- especially one that says things like "there is no saving throw" and "this trap cannot be discovered".  This makes things difficult, and I've had to pull out rule zero more often than I'd like already, and after one session we're just getting started.

What follows is an accounting of our first foray into the Tomb of Horrors.

I created an NPC cleric of Tymora by the name of Xewt, who tracked down the PCs and led them to the location of the tomb.  They found the skull-shaped hill and stood at the base of the gravelly cliff, looking for the way in.

The rules state that the only way to find the entrances is by prodding high on the cliff with a spear or pole.  As a DM, I thought this was just stupid.  Why make the adventure so difficult to start?  I decided to use a regular search for secret doors.

The wizard, Keryth, took the lead and started searching for secret doors.  Soon after following the cliff, he found the middle entrance.  The other players helped him dig it out, and they looked into the ornate corridor.  Then he promptly tromped down the corridor, avoiding the red path.  His 18 dexterity saved him from falling into a pit trap. My dice were rolling in the PCs' favor, it seemed.  Fine by me.

Next, the Paladin, Usul, walked in.  He opted to follow the red path.  He triggered a pit trap and fell in.  I rolled my d6 and he managed to avoid any of the spikes.  Huh.  The DM's dice once again saved a PC.

At this point, the PCs noticed the message on the floor, and decided that this must not be the actual entrance.  (Teehee).  So they went outside again and started looking for another way in.  (I suspect that one or two of them has read the adventure once upon a time, but I don't think their memory is helping them.  Good deal.)

They found the eastern entrance first.  The thief, Ryld, examined each square thoroughly for traps before proceeding, and he did manage to find cracks in the wall.  He couldn't figure out how the trap was triggered from where he was standing, though, so the innovative PCs hauled in the biggest rocks they could find from outside and started chucking them into the hallway.  *Blam* went the stone trap, and all of the PCs were outside.  They'd avoided another.

Then they found the western entrance.  The Paladin hoisted the Dwarf fighter, Rak, onto his shoulders, and Rak held his flamtongue sword up and burned off the cobwebs.  They noticed the ceiling, and decided to play it safe.  Keryth, standing outside, used his rope of climbing to open the false door.  *Boom* went the ceiling, and the PCs went back to the middle entrance.

Keryth started searching for secret doors, and although he didn't succeed in finding the secret door in the hallway, he cast a knock spell on the painting of the door (the pit trap had already been sprung by Usul), which succeeded in blasting out the plaster and lath that covered the portal.  Meanwhile, one square to the north, the Dwarven fighter/mage (yes yes, I know that dwarves can't be mages in 2e, but I allowed it anyway) Oktober was examining the box being held by the jackals.  Ryld was standing next to him.  Oktober pushed the button, but made his save vs. poison when the "easily detectable" dart sunk into his flesh.  Then he grabbed the lever in the box and said, "Well, we came here to die, didn't we?" and pulled the lever.

Ryld has a ring of feather fall, so he was fine.  Oktober plunged downward for 3d10 damage, but once again the dice saved a PC and he avoided any spikes.

The rest of them got him out of the pit, and forged ahead into the room with the gargoyle.  They actually completely pummeled the gargoyle before he even got a hit in, so that was...amazing.  Then they started with the square rooms.

Guys, I know you're reading this, and hindsight is 20/20.  If you all would have gone together, only one bolt would have hit a random character in each room once per round.  That would have saved some HP.  However, that's not what happened.  Keryth, the wizard with the lowest HP amount, spent a lot of time in those square rooms finding secret doors, figuring out how to open them, and getting blasted by bolts.  Side note here:  The adventure just describes them as bolts, with no ability to be disarmed.  I described them as something like a magic missile (to explain why they can't be blocked by protection from normal missiles) and instantly my mages wanted to dispel the magic.  There was a 'soft' rule zero here - more of a rule Gygax - they can't be dispelled, so I had to say that the wizards weren't able to find the source of the magic in order to dispel it.

After Keryth became dangerously low on HP, Ryld took his turn.  (He had actually been spending some time in the rooms with visible doors.  He found several doors as well, and then retreated.  Then Rak took a turn.  This went on for a while, and eventually they found their way into the long hallway.  At this point, the party decided to call it quits for the night.

For me, it was a lot of fun so far.  I'm not sure if it was fun for them, but I can't wait to continue with it and see how far they get.  I'll post more each time we return to the Tomb.

Hey y'all

It's almost summer.

Just typing that makes me laugh, since my last blog was in December. I'm becoming a blogger that only blogs about his own lack of blogging. I had promised myself not to do that, but I fell into the rut. Onward! New things! New blogs!!

So what's new in my life? Well, there are things. Oh yes. I mowed my lawn a couple of days ago. I think I'll mow it again. I played some golf.


That's why I don't blog. I really don't do anything these days. Every once in a while some exciting stuff comes around.

Last week was crazy, and full of massive ups and downs. I'm not going to talk about the downs. You know me, you know them. So let's talk about the ups. Last Wednesday, right smack in the middle of the week, my friend Reuben hosted the 3rd not-so-annual Jabbergathering. We all like to get together about once a year for some good ol' fashioned drinkin'. Well, our schedules have been getting harder and harder to synchronize during summer weekends, so we collectively came up with the absolutely brilliant idea to each take Thursday off of work, and meet at Reub's parents' cabin in the middle of the state.

We did so. It was epic to say the least. There was drinking and carousing, singing and poor attempts at canoeing that resulted in my phone and Corey's phone becoming, shall we say, waterlogged. All in all, it was a fantastic time.

Then we'll fast forward to the weekend -- my parents took my kids Friday night and watched 'em for us until Sunday evening so that Kerry and I could stay in the Minneapolis area with friends of ours. Kerry worked her last weekend ever, and I had sweet sweet Dungeons and Dragons time. There's not too much to tell as far as the D&D goes, but that it was a ton of fun and that we played for 8 hours and only had three encounters. Good times.

Other than that, it's pretty much business as usual around these parts. Hope you're all well.

Blog! I have a blog!

I just remembered that I have a blog. Well holy moley. I'd better get on that, it's been months.

So it's December, apparently. The year is rocketing by as it tends to do. The biggest bit of news that I have these days is that my lil' boy turned ONE. He's a year old already. It's funny, I'd probably written 700 blogs about Gwen during her first year of life, and I've probably written 5 blogs TOTAL in Joey's first year. I've been busy. (And yes, I know that I could easily figure this out by LOOKING, but I like to make up statistics. Did you know that 95% of statistics are made up right on the spot? ;^) )

It's apparently winter again. Everything is covered with snow. I'm once again the lazy last guy on the block to put up Christmas lights, but I plan on getting that done on Sunday. Ahh, plans. Other than that Kerry and I are jetting off (read: driving) to the big city (OK, SLP) because she needs to work at the nature center and I need to play some D&D. It's a crushing need.

For the D&D nerds out there: I'm about to take my players through the notorious Tomb of Horrors, as re-released for 4th Edition. It's going to be awesome. I'm excited for the notion of an adventure that forces them to use their minds. I know it's not really the way 4e works, but I'm thinking of giving xp bonuses to those that figure out the puzzles, because some of 'em are doozies. To add injury (no insult here, there's just going to be injury) I'm starting them on their trek through the garden of graves at level 7. It's ok, there are 6 of them, and they're pretty good in a fight. They need a challenge. Heck, a couple of them are still level 6. Hee hee.

In other news, for some reason I got suckered into playing Fantasy Football this year, and it's been a catastrophic failure. I actually got in a bit of a row with the organizer for comparing it to D&D, which really made me laugh. Like...hard. But that's all done with. I won the argument. It's D&D for the a*****s that used to beat up kids that played D&D. It's also not my thing, I'm currently 3 and 9. Obviously my bad statistics (see above) have hurt me in a game that uses...real statistics. Whatever, fantasy football is what it is, and I'm having fun with it -- I guess that's what's important.

That's about all that's new. I'll try to blog more, blah blah blah, but really, I won't. Work keeps me busy. I'm thankful for being a noob lawyer that actually has a job -- many in my graduating class don't. :(

Talk atcha later.

Homecoming 2010

This weekend, I attended UMM Homecoming for the first time since 2003. The campus has changed a lot since I was there last, and it was awesome to be back. Here are a few pictures of our adventure around campus.

First is Clayton A. Gay Hall, my freshman dorm. The building has been painted (the black used to be blue) and modified (the front door has been replaced with hostas, and a new handicap accessible door has been added.

It's weird to look at the building and think that there's supposed to be a stairway and a door there. We tried to get up to our room, but the stairways were locked and there wasn't a way to get up there without risking arrest.

For some ridiculous reason, people on campus were playing Quidditch. It's apparently quite popular as well, because there were a ton of spectators. But COME ON, PEOPLE. THIS IS DUMB.

I walked into Spooner Hall and found my old room. The RA there (they call them CAs now, much to our confusion) had made name tags from pictures of dragons. I never had an RA that was that cool:

The next place we went was PFM. LOL. There are all new chairs, and the area where the food is served has been totally updated. It's actually really nice in there, but the entryway still smelled exactly the same.

Kristian and I posed by the sign, because we are, in fact, posers.

We went to a bunch of other buildings after that, but I didn't take any pictures of them. These included the new science building and the Student Center, Blakely Hall (where Kerry's freshman room was) and the bookstore.

After our campus infiltration, we went on a tour of town and saw all of our old houses. They all looked pretty much as bad as they did when I lived there.

We found, miraculously, that Don's Cafe was actually open. I had a grilled cheese and fries (of course). Then we went on a tour of local bars. We started at the Ranch House, because Kristian used to bartend there. It was awkward and dark, but full of memories. Then we went to the Met. It hasn't changed much. We were there at 7:00, well before the rest of the homecoming crowd, and we had a couple of drinks and took it all in. We followed it up with a trek over to the Old Number 1 for more drinks, more memories, and an end to a delightful day in Mo-Town.


Hey there, Ostrich Haters. How's the fall going for you? Well, it's not technically fall yet, but the weather of late has seemed to indicate otherwise. Although, today is beautiful, sunny, and in the 70s, so...yeah. Whatever. I'm talking about the weather and it's lame.

What should I be talking about, then? How 'bout my favorite passtime and yours: Dungeons and Dragons! Actually there's not much to tell there, other than that we had an awesome session a couple of weekends ago, and we're gearing up for another one this coming Saturday. I'm amped as always! I think that my players have stopped worrying about being in any danger after their recent exploits, so I've got to take it up a notch.

That's always difficult to do, though. There's a delicate and fine balance that a DM has to achieve, whereby providing sufficient challenge to the players so that they don't get bored, and not presenting too much challenge resulting in a TPK. To provide some different types of encounters I've started including a lot of stat check type things, and I plan on using more traps.

In non-gaming news, it's my lovely and darling wifey's birthday this week. She's turning 34, looks 23, and any references to "rule 34" in response to this post will be summarily ignored.

I was thinking about stuff, and it dawned on me that next month I'll have been a lawyer for an entire year. Here's a fun exercise for you kids playing along at home, too: Check out how many blogs I wrote before I was a lawyer. Now check out how many after. Ugh. It's waaaaay different having a job that I actually care about. ;)

Can't wait to see all 3-4 of you readers for D&D this weekend!


As usual, Phish was amazing.

Kerry and I woke up bright and early on Saturday morning, and had hit the road by about 7:15. We drove to Ryan and Meghan's house in SLP, and from there we transferred into their vehicle and started the long (but actually short, compared to our recent Colorado trek) drive to East Troy, WI, and scenic Alpine Valley amphitheater.

We checked into our hotel at a little after 3:00 and met up with Lundo and Amy, and then we headed to the parking lot at a little after 6:00. We snarfed some snacks, chugged a couple o' brewskies, and headed into the show.

The first show was stellar -- not the best show I've been to, but very good. The band was super tight. They played a lot of stuff I had heard before, but also several that I haven't ever seen live, including the extremely oldschool "F@#$ Your Face" and the Siket Disc jam "What's The Use". We had fun, and the all-too-annoying Phan Kids hadn't gotten to us yet by this point.

We made it back to the hotel around 1:00 or so and hit the hay. I slept until 9:00 am, which is probably later than I've slept in the last 3 years. It was wonderful. Kerry and I woke up and had some yummy muffins, and then headed down to meet the rest of our crew in the hotel swimming pool. We swam. We chatted. We hot tubbed. It was fun.

We headed back to the parking lot around 4:00 the next day, for a much longer time tailgating. I made several grilled cheese sandwiches and hot dogs on Kerry's backpacking stove, and although I managed to burn the heck out of my finger, the food was yummy.

The setlist for our second night kept hearkening back to my very first Phish show, at the Target Center in the fall of 1999. That made me realize that I've been coming to see this band play for 11 years. I looked around me at the kids that were freaking out, and realized that many of them were 6, 7, or 8 years old. On one hand I'm glad that they (at least some of them) have good taste in music. On the other hand I was incredibly irritated by these kids. Not all of them. Some of them. The ones that aren't there because they like the band. They're there because they're freaking scenesters and think it's cool to go to a show and snort coke.

OK. Tangent. WHY is cocaine popular again? It's been on a steady upswing since I left college, and kids just don't seem to realize that it will leave them broke, addicted, and effing stupid. You heard me, kid. Stupid. You look like a freaking fool blowing the money your parents gave you so that you can spend the whole show snorting powders for your 20-minute high and not paying attention to the world around you. I guess it just proves that the 90s were the 60s again, the 2000s were the 70s again (Techno was totally disco) and now we're in the 80s with bad clothes* and morons snorting coke. I'm going to start selling junk bonds now.

OK, back to reality. The annoying kids really didn't bum me out or anything -- I've been to enough shows to know that there's ALWAYS someone stupid there, and that since I'm there to see an awesome band play awesome music, I can tune the rest out.

Coming back home yesterday was nice. It was a fast trip, and Gwen and Joey were ecstatic to see us, and a warm welcome like that is super wonderful.

Also, I ended up recharged over this weekend. Seeing the music reset my creativity button, and I'm eager to write some more music. We'll see if that works out.