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hairylarry
Session notes for October 14, 2020

New Character - Jennifer, a fighter - Liz

We lower the rope down into the temple and climb down. In the temple there are pews or benches, an evil looking statue, and 5 doors. Two to the north on either side of the statue, one each east, west, and south. They are all wood with push down latches. The one to the south is a light brown color. The others are a reddish wood.




The statue has a face like a monkey. On it's chest is a picture of a tree with an eye in the middle of the foliage. The cleric recognizes the statue as Moloch.




We open the door to the south and see needles on the walls for blood sacrifice and a blood stained floor with a red runner carpet leading to the door. Their is an exit door to the south in the needle room.

We are definitely creeped out so we close the door to the south and listen at the west door. We hear scratching.

Leaf and Caper listen at the east door and hear nothing so we check the east door first.

Jennifer opens the door. We see three stone coffins, a door north, and shelves of books.

We check the books which are mostly about magic and history. We find.

Leaf the elf - a spellbook
Fighter the cleric - a book about Moloch
Caper the halfling- a book about magic items

Jennifer hears scratching from the coffins. The middle coffin is marked in gold and white with the symbols of Marusan, the evil wizard.

Jennifer slides back the lid of the left coffin and Leaf reaches in with his sword and kills the skeleton scratching in there. There is a shiny silver and black mace in the coffin with the skeletons broken bones.

Fighter the cleric grabs the mace and tries to fight the skeleton in the right coffin but for some reason she can't hit it. A voice in her head says the skeleton is her friend. It is a cursed mace.

She can't drop the mace. Leaf cannot get the mace from her. Ari sprinkles holy water on the mace but that doesn't help either.

We kill the skeleton in the right coffin and find a book. It is the journal of Marusan's scribe. It mentions the mace and also has a page about Marusan's wife, a sorceress who he loved so much that he gave her the magic rod, Pann-Severi.

The middle coffin is empty. No Marusan entombed.

We hear a dripping noise. It's coming from the south. When we open the door we see that a needle has been used and it is dripping fresh blood. Super Creepy.

Leaf really hates the Moloch statue so we devise a plan to burn it. We pour oil all over it. We climb the rope to the roof and throw it back over the side so we can climb back down on the outside of the building. Caper lights a torch and gets ready to throw it on the statue. Everyone sees a door open on the back of the statue and a dude dressed in white runs out and escapes through one of the north doors. Caper throws the torch in and burns the statue.

The party climbs off the roof to reconnoiter, read the books, and decide what to do next.



hairylarry Oct 21 · Tags: osr, family game, dnd, basic
hairylarry
Gamer+ News October 19, 2020

The NEA Game Fest wrapped up yesterday with two interesting events. Sarah, Kier, and Megan gave their personal top 10 board game list discussing each in some detail. Then Kier hosted an online game of Um Actually, a trivia game about all things geek.

So our opening topic for Inspired Unreality tonight will be Online Gaming and Online Conventions. As always we will be in the gamerplus chatrooms at Tenkar's Tavern on Discord at 9:00 PM Central. Open game chat, everyone is welcome, all gaming is on topic. If you're new to Tenkar's Tavern Gamer+ has an invitation for you here.

https://gamerplus.org/index

Another great event at the NEA Game Fest was "Make your own adventures!" hosted by Carl Heyl and featuring panelists, Mike Stewart, Casey Christofferson, and Levi Combs. They discussed the creation of exciting adventures to wow your players and bedazzle your dungeons as well as playtesting, publishing, and marketing.

This panel and the top ten board games discussion were recorded on Zoom and we'll post the links on Gamer+ when we get them.

I posted a blog called "What I Did AT NEA Game Fest", about my personal experience.

https://gamerplus.org/blogs/post/361

Follow Me And Die says "I've just updated my Silver Seller PDF, Locks, Vaults, and Hiding Places with a second edition that is revised and expanded." Highly recommended. It's a DM guide chock full of tables you can use at your table and it's only 2 bucks.

https://gamerplus.org/newsfeed/2917

If you are looking for background music for your table or music to use in your podcast, vlog, or other project check out this morning's Free Culture Mix. Songs from my "Bop Soup" album are included as well as six other albums. The music licensed CC-BY are free to use with attribution. Just mention who did the song or include it in your credits scroll.

https://archive.org/details/FCMix2020-10-19

So have you been doing any gaming online? Join us tonight on Inspired Unreality and we'll talk about it.

Thanks,
Hairy Larry
https://gamerplus.org/user/hairylarry
hairylarry@curators.mixremix.cc (on my Friendica)
hairylarry@deltaboogie.com
hairylarry

Well, today is the last day so it's not too late to check it out.


http://neagamefest.com


It's a benefit for the Paragould Children's Shelter. Today you can buy a badge for $5 or contribute directly here.


https://www.gofundme.com/f/nea-game-fest-2020-for-the-children039s-shelter


I played "Goat Crash!" hosted by Will Hose and "Lizard Wizard" hosted by my granddaughter, LizardQueen aka Elizabeth Brown.


And I also attended "Make your own adventures!" hosted by Carl Heyl and featuring panelists, Mike Stewart, Casey Christofferson, and Levi Combs. They discussed the creation of exciting adventures to wow your players and bedazzle your dungeons as well as playtesting, publishing, and marketing.


I also did a bit of hanging out in Discord chatting with other gamers, always the most important part of any gaming convention.


So I am sending out a big thanks to the NEA Gamers Guild for putting on such a fun event in trying times. It got me through another week anyway.


https://www.facebook.com/groups/neagamersguild/


It's still going on. I am now attending "Sarah, Kier and Megan are about to count down our top ten board games for anyone who wants to witness the madness!!!".


They are closing out the Game Fest with "Um Actually".




hairylarry
2020-10-07
New Campaign - Basic D&D

DM Carl
Ari - human wizard
Caper - halfling
Fighter - human cleric
Leaf - elf

Ari and Caper enter Birkenstock looking for information about the Archive Of The White Master. They have heard of this library, home of an undead man eating Eagle and Pann-Severi, a magic rod. The Archive Of The White Master was the home of Marusan The White an evil wizard now deceased.

They approach the Birkenstock church and see Fighter the cleric. They also see Leaf the Elf snoring on a bench outside of the church. They talk to Fighter and when Leaf awakes he joins the conversation. Fighter says, "The Archive Of The White Master is north of here, past the woods.". Since Leaf is a woods elf he is aware of the woods to the north of Birkenstock and he thinks he can find the archive even though he has never been there. Caper and Ari buy a vial of healing balm from the cleric and then the party heads north.

After walking a few hours they hear a sound like an animal in distress. They rescue a raccoon hanging in a net trap high in a tree. Leaf climbs the tree and cuts the net free. Caper looks at the ground and finds large goblinoid tracks. They don't follow the tracks but continue north on their quest. The raccoon follows.

After a while they exit the forest onto a large plain. The see a giant eagle soaring above. Close inspection shows that the eagle is decaying and they decide this must be the undead man eater they heard about.

Caper shoots the eagle with an arrow and hits him between the wing and the body. The eagle attacks and Ari dips her dagger in holy water and throws it at the eagle killing it.

We continue north to the library. It's large made of white stone with a big front door. We decide to reconnoiter, circling west first then around the north end. No windows. On the west side we see a broken place where there is a hole in the wall about three feet high. Examining the hole it looks like someone tunneled out a long time ago. Peering in with Ari's lantern it looks like a prison cell. Caper walks in and looks around. The party follows. It's a locked cell, 15' x 10' with bars and a door with a large padlock. We can't pick the lock and we can't bend the bars so we go back outside.

Caper climbs a rope to the roof. It's flat and sturdy with a stained glass skylight. Caper ties the rope off and the rest of the party climbs up. Looking through the stained glass we see a temple with an evil statue and a wooden bench.

The image on the glass is a demon. Leaf wants to break it so Caper gives Leaf his shield. Leaf smashes the skylight with the shield breaking it into thousands of pieces which scatter into the temple below. We see something flitter into the sky and vanish. The skylight was a stained glass golem guarding the temple.

hairylarry
Gamer+ News October 5, 2020

Inspired Unreality open game chat tonight at 9:00 Central in the gamerplus chatrooms at Tenkar's Tavern on Discord. Bring your own topic. All gaming is on topic. Vivian and I have been meandering on about pre D&D roll playing so if you have any knowledge there fill us in. Or any topic is good. As long as it's gaming.

NEA Game Fest starts today! This year's event will be held online and has been expanded to run from Oct. 12 to Oct. 18.

http://www.neagamefest.com/

So I just went and bought my badge and signed up for Game Master Round Table Discussion tonight at 8:00. So I may be doing a little bit of double Discord by 9:00.

Yes. It's another Fringe Review: The Terran Trade Authority Roleplaying Game from ZDL's blog. As usual she goes into detail with insightful commentary.

https://gamerplus.org/blogs/post/350

Follow Me And Die says, "I just published my latest video in my Roll20 series. Roll20 For The Absolute Beginner No. 20 - Quick Macro Tips."

https://gamerplus.org/newsfeed/2913

And here's a Writer So Good He's a Master: The Return of John M. Ford. He's been out of print but Tor is republishing his award winning fantasy. Ellid writes this review/overview.

https://gamerplus.org/newsfeed/2730

Stay in touch. I hope to see you online at the NEA Game Fest.

Thanks,
Hairy Larry
https://gamerplus.org/user/hairylarry
hairylarry@curators.mixremix.cc (on my Friendica)
hairylarry@deltaboogie.com

ZDL
This one is a weird one folks, so strap in and get ready.

Today's game is The Terran Trade Authority Roleplaying Game (henceforth TTARPG – and yes there's a reason why I'm using such a clunky initialization) released by Canada's Morrigan Press in 2006.  It's a science fiction RPG that …

Let's roll back the history a bit, because this is really unusual.

History


In 1978, Hamlyn Publishing released a book called Spacecraft 2000-2100 AD by Stewart Cowley.  It was a large, hardback art book filled to the brim with science fiction artwork of spaceships, planetscapes, and future cities/bases that were rendered by some of the greatest SF artists of the time: Angus McKie, Gerard Thomas, Chris Foss, Peter Elson, and others represented by J.S. Artists.

More than an art book, however, it was also a detailed future history with little vignettes of space battles, a future history, etc. all paired with pictures showing the subject.  It was a brilliant concept that was well executed, leading to more books in the series authored by Cowley—Great Space Battles (1979, with Charles Herridge), SpaceWreck: Ghostships and Derelicts of Space (1979), Starliners: Commercial Travel in 2200 AD (1980).

All of these books were tied together in a future history involving the name of the Terran Trade Authority (TTA) hence the name of the RPG.

Translations and repackagings aside, that was the end of the TTA.  Other books in a familiar-looking setting were produced, but not explicitly tied to the TTA setting and, frankly, they weren't, for the most part, as nicely produced.

And then everything went silent.

Silent, that is, until 2006.  Morrigan Press, after its release of the 5th Edition of Talislanta, started work on an ambitious project to republish the entire TTA catalogue.  Since the original artworks had long since reverted copyright back to their artists there was no way to republish the books in their entirety, so the plan was to use CGI to recreate the feel of the setting for an RPG.  The first publication in this project was Spacecraft 2100 to 2200 AD which put the setting forward a hundred years with 3D illustration by Adrian Mann and writing by K. Scott Agnew, Jeff Lilly, and Steward Cowley providing consultation.  It was a rushed product full of errors, both typographical and grammatical, that received lukewarm reactions, but they persisted and published TTARPG in late 2006.  (Sadly the Local Space: 2200 AD guide book was never published because Morrigan Press was hit by financial difficulties that ended all of their publishing projects.)


And as for the reaction to the RPG, this review is part of it.


The Basics


I am reviewing the PDF edition of the game, having only ever once seen the physical edition, which is probably good given that it's a 400+ page book (rather like later editions of Talislanta … this is foreshadowing).    It has a full-colour cover illustrated in the 3D CGI style of the 2006 TTA book, designed to look like the '70s-era space art that inspired the original book and, to be fair to it, the unnatural smoothness aside, it does have the right feel.

Internally the book has single-column text in a readable font with a bit of a distracting grey-scale art pattern on the edge.  (Something about it just attracts my eyes away from the text which is kind of a bad idea.)  It has a decent table of contents for quick navigation at the beginning and a *sigh* "index" at the back which is really spartan.

Unfortunately that table of contents highlights in stark relief one of the major flaws of this game.

Information dump


There are 417 pages in this book.  Starting on page 5 and ending on page 93 is a huge information dump about the setting: future history, locations, the titular Terran Trade Agency, etc.  Almost a quarter of the book, right at the front, is devoted to setting information.  Page after endless page there is droning text about wars, places, organizations (but, tellingly, not people!) which really starts dragging.  Unlike the books the game is based on, this future history is not paired with colourful illustrations that attract the eye.  There are some, but nowhere near enough given the sheer volume of information.  The result is intense tedium.  I had to re-read it for this review and it almost dissuaded me from doing it.

And that's only just the start!

Game System


The game rules start on page 94, ostensibly.  They drone on endlessly as well, introducing a simple game system in the most tedious and dull fashion imaginable.  The game is termed the "Omni System" but anybody who's ever followed Talislanta will recognize the system instantly.  Let's see if this rings any bell: 0-centric attributes, d20 rolls, modify for skills and situation, read the results on a table with 0 or less being a mishap, 1-5 being a failure, 6-10 being a partial success, 11-19 a success, and 20 or more a critical success.


Characters are defined by the attributes Intelligence, Will, Strength, Constitution, Perception, Charisma, Dexterity, and Speed rated generally in the -5 to +5 range.  (Ringing any bells, Talislanta fans?)  There are secondary (calculated) attributes called Combat Rating, Ranged Combat Rating, Psi Rating, Piety, Renown, and Hit Points.  (Again, players of Talislanta will recognize many of those either directly or by an echo.)

The game system is simple.  I've already outlined everything important above.  Specifics involve minor procedural lists that can be summarized in a single page and explained in perhaps three.  For sake of more completeness, naturally, in case someone picks up the game who's never played an RPG before, this would have to be expanded, but these rules are 40 pages long for this basic game.  Then there's 15 pages for the psionics system that isn't even used in the setting (!).  Then there's an additional 34 pages of skills and quirks.

(Have you noticed yet what's missing?)


Information dump (reprise)


Then, finally, we hit character generation.  On page 183 you finally get to learn how you actually make a character for this game.  You've been fed almost 200 pages of dry text, barely broken up by small amounts of illustration, none of it of any real interest because you still don't have an avatar for this settingFinally, on page 183, you get to start making a chara…

Oh for…! GOD DAMMIT!

See, to make a character you need to pick one of the races: Alphans, Proximans, and Terrans.  (The latter is human, in case that wasn't obvious.)  30 pages of information are dumped about the Alphans.  Then there is 30 pages devoted to the Proximans.  Finally there is 18 pages devoted to humans.

This game thinks you need 18 pages to explain humans to … well … humans.  This is verging on actual insanity.

There is less than one page of information in those info dumps that actually involve making the damned character!  There's more than that devoted to the Alphan language alone (3 pages)!  You have another nearly 80 pages of info dump to go through just to get the roughly page and a half of actual information you need to make your character.

Rant mode on


And this is in the section actually entitled Character Creation!  This is one of the worst pieces of information design I have ever seen!  The most frustrating part of it is that none of this is bad.  This is good stuff!  This is the kind of thing I like to see in games that have rich, colourful settings.  Games like Talislanta, Jorune, Tekumel, and others in that vein.  But I should not have to go through 264 pages of this before I can even start thinking about what my character's past and personality are like!  Were this game organized sanely it could very well be one of my favourites, but the way it is written and edited I'm just incredibly frustrated every time I look at it.  There is a reason it is a fringe game, and it's not only because of Morrigan Press' financial difficulties!

Deep breath…


OK, that's out of my system.  Again, anybody who's played specifically Talislanta's 5th edition will recognize what comes next.  Species selected, the next step is "paths".  Paths form the complete life history of your character and together build up a character's stats and skills in ways that can make each character unique.  This solves one of the problems I had with earlier editions of Talislanta, in fact, where two characters from the same race were basically the same.  The 5th edition fixed that and this game continues in that vein.

There are paths for regions of birth, family background, careers, and personalities.  Paths result in adjustments to attributes, skill ranks, quirks, starting gear, and other such things.  Some paths have pre-requisites (either in attributes/skills or in previous paths).  An example path makes this clearer:  Asteroid Miners must be Terran or Proximan; get +2 to Strength and +1 to Constitution; get 12 skill ranks to be distributed into preferred skills like Climb, Computers, Demolitions, Profession (miner), etc. (it should be noted that skills can be taken outside of these preferred ones, but they're more expensive); allow quirks to be chosen from ones like Alcohol Tolerance, Good Balance, Windfall, or Zero-G Training;j and give starting gear like a berth aboard a mining station/installation, mining tools, a canteen; and 500 credits of cash.  (The lists given are not exhaustive, only illustrative!)

Interestingly, this is where information design is done well.  Each path takes up about 2/3 of a page.  After the title, each path is given a paragraph to explain what the path entails, then a well-structured list of what the path entails.  This is the kind of information design the entire game needed, but sadly didn't get.

(Wouldn't it have been nice to know these numbers and how they're made before having the game system exhaustively explained to me?  Nothing quite beats having a character sitting there with hard numbers to plug into game systems when learning them…)

Sundries

And then we're back in the info dump.  Starting on page 283 and going on to page 327 we have equipment.  Pages 328 to 375 are spacecraft rules and stats.  If you're expecting another rant about information dumps, look elsewhere.  This is properly designed.

First, this is the right part of the book to put this kind of information.  Characters are made and game systems are explained.  The equipment that's used by characters in game systems should be placed here.  For the first time this game got things in the right order.


Second, as with the paths, this is well-designed.  It's organized by kind, and into small bites of information.  There's no three dense pages of information on irrelevancies like the linguistics of a fictitious alien race.  There's short pieces of information on individual kit (often with illustrations of it!) that's written in a style that's both accessible and digestible.  There is a whole lot of it, but none of it feels like fat that needs trimming (unlike, say, about half of the "game system" chapter) and none of it feels like a tedious, droning essay about stuff that might have added colour if written with colour in mind.

Kudos where they belong.  The equipment section is tight.

Spacecraft


This threatened at first to return to the info dump state, opening with an explanation of the "DeVass Generator" and "Alcubierre Drives" and such, but mercifully that ends after a few short pages and the actual game system begins.

Many SF games have vehicle rules that read like wargames rules, but mercifully this game remembers that it is a role-playing game, not a starship combat simulator and gives fairly simple, punchy (albeit somewhat cinematic) rules for vehicular mayhem.

The rules end off with actual stats for various vehicles, again in a style that is bite-sized and well-organized, often with illustrations which, bonus!, are very clearly taken from the actual TTA books (albeit as 3D CGI versions of them).

It's not quite as tightly written as the paths section or the equipment section, but this part of the book is still something that didn't give me the urge to pull out my eyeballs or fall asleep.  It's pretty OK RPG writing, and the rules themselves are actually pretty nice RPG rules for vehicles.

GM guidance


The remaining 35 or so pages of the book are GMing advice.  Most of it is pretty generic (e.g. "… Take it slowly at first, and don't be too concerned if you or your players make mistakes…"), but some of the advice for interpreting the "Omni Table" results is actually very sound.  (e.g. "… Don't forget the environment …" This is good advice for explaining reasons for unexpected failures or successes that many GMs overlook.)  There's guidance for how to alter the rules to suit the style of campaign you want to run, how to run epic or local scale campaigns, and a decent template for designing adventures that would be helpful for new GMs and easy to use as a baseline for more experienced ones.

But then…

More game systems.  Rules for the environment.  Interstellar hazards.  Gravity.  Diseases and other afflictions.  This is a simple game system whose chapter on it is already bloated (c.f. above) and yet none of this was in it.  Why?  Why is this not in with the main rules and perhaps written in a tighter way so you don't have so many damned pages devoted to small riffs on the same core idea?!  This is beginning to read like D&D3!

Then after this odd interjection of game system rules there's discussion of star systems and their role in campaigns, how to handle "the unknown" (with some very good advice here, along with a nice example!), and a section on creatures and creature encounters.  The rules then end rather abruptly and go straight into the OGL and the (as mentioned before) inadequate index.  A set of advertisements (including for one product never released) rounds out the text.

The Goethe thing

So the three questions:

What was the game trying to accomplish?  That's easy.  It was intending to be a role-playing game for playing out adventures in a popular set of sadly long-since-unpublished books of SF art with an intriguing background.  The people who wrote the game had an obvious love for the setting to the point that they went through a lot of trouble to get the rights for this (the full history of this is a lot more convoluted than what I outlined above) and it's to their credit they got to the point they did.

Did they accomplish this end?  Ugh.  This is a complex one.  I think that the game system they used (a very lightly altered Talislanta 5th edition) is a good system, and the adaptations they made to have it fit a science fiction setting worked well.  In that regard the game is a success.  But the game delivery is terrible.  Which leads us to the third question.

Was this worth accomplishing.

As-is, I'm going to go with "no".  While the raw ingredients for a good game are there, and indeed often so frustratingly close that it makes me want to scream, in the end the poor information design and the poor rules organization leaves me cold.  I really want to like this game.  I love the TTA setting.  I have always liked the Talislanta game system, and the 5th edition expansion of character generation to make characters more distinct is my favourite edition of the game.  (I know this makes me dead to many fans of that game, but I don't care.)  Frustratingly the information content, too, is very good and exactly what I usually look for in games that have evocative settings.

But…

I just can't stomach the way this book is written.  You go almost half the length of the book before you even start making a character.  Information is organized in a way that is backwards and inside-out.  There's obsessive and lengthy attention paid to things that are irrelevancies (like linguistics for a species) all burying the lede of information you need to actually play the game.  Where you get information to play the game it's bloated, it's split up into odd partitions, and it's just generally not a joy to consume.

This book is something you can use as raw material for a better game, but … personally I'll just use FATE or Mythic and the original books instead of this system.

Which is really a damned shame.

ZDL Oct 5 · Comments: 6 · Tags: terran trade authority, science fiction, review, fringe
hairylarry
Gamer+ News October 5, 2020

Join us tonight on Inspired Unreality open game chat at 9:00 PM Central. We will be in the gamerplus chatrooms at Tenkar's Tavern on Discord. If you've never been to Tenkar's Tavern there's an invite for you here.

https://gamerplus.org/index

We have moved If You Play You Win to 1:00 PM Wednesdays, Central Time. Actual play. I'm not sure what the game will be but I'm pretty sure it will be OSR.

https://gamerplus.org/groups/26

Follow Me And Die posted Episode 192 - Death of an Anti-Paladin. I guess they're getting revenge for the near TPK.

https://gamerplus.org/newsfeed/2714

And he has a new video out too. Roll20 For The Absolute Beginner No. 19 - GM View A Map As A Player Without Other Players Seeing It

https://gamerplus.org/newsfeed/2716

I took a picture of some mushrooms in my back yard.

https://gamerplus.org/newsfeed/2692

And also of three miniatures I printed and painted.

https://gamerplus.org/newsfeed/2694

Stay in touch!

Thanks,
Hairy Larry
https://gamerplus.org/user/hairylarry
hairylarry@curators.mixremix.cc
hairylarry@deltaboogie.com

hairylarry
Gamer+ News September 28, 2020

Tonight on Inspired Unreality the Gamer+ Book Club discusses "The Epic Of Gilgamesh". This will be our last book club meeting this year, we are taking off for the holidays. There is a link to a free download of Gilgamesh here.

https://gamerplus.org/groups/28

Last week we finished the "Milyagon Treasure Hunt". I've been blogging our gaming sessions. Now I've combined them together in one story and posted it on SFF Short Stories.

https://gamerplus.org/newsfeed/2571

Follow Me And Die reported a near TPK. The players all said, Man, he means it.

https://gamerplus.org/newsfeed/2548

And now all of this stuff but mostly music is going on over at my new website, Hairy Larry Rocks.

https://hairylarry.rocks

Please let me know what you've been doing.

Thanks,
Hairy Larry
https://gamerplus.org/user/hairylarry
hairylarry@curators.mixremix.cc (follow me on mastodon, friendica, etc.)
hairylarry@deltaboogie.com
hairylarry

Caper and Bones found a bench under an oak tree and sat down to rest while Ari and the witch made the squamish salve.


They ground the squamish mushrooms into a paste with wild cherries and sage to make the salve which is good for treating carbuncles and other skin ailments and can also cure light wounds. About 2/3 of the salve filled a jar the witch had set aside so she went and got a smaller jar which she filled and gave to Ari.


With that task done Ari and the witch walked over to Caper and Bones and the witch said, “The items are for the Ogre up in the foothills Northwest of Milyagon. He has been under pressure from orcs and hobgoblins moving in. The branch makes a magic quarterstaff to fend them off and the mushrooms are the important ingredient in a salve for his carbunkles. And the feather? That's for his hat. The Ogre has a magic hat and the owl's feather, willingly given, is a component of the spell. He is smart for an ogre because of the hat so it is very important that the feather in his cap does not become bedraggled.”


Enlightened but still very tired the party made their way back to the inn where they ate a hearty supper and turned in early for the night glad to be sleeping on beds under a roof instead of on the ground under the stars.

hairylarry

In which we recover all the loot, branches from the ancestor tree, squamish mushrooms, and a tailfeather from an owl, and complete our quest.


Last week we left off talking to the fairies near the fairy circle. Cautious not to ask a favor and indebt ourselves to them we finally found out that the fairies remembered when the woodcutter came through here and found the ancestor tree. When the fairies pointed out the trail that the woodcutter took, Caper couldn't see it but Ari and Bones could and Caper soon discovered that it was a game trail and he could also help follow it with his tracking skills.


After hiking for about 4 hours we found ourselves at the foot of a large hill. The trail seemed to continue up the hill but it was not distinct. We decided to climb to the top before dark even though we were already tired.


It was dusk when we got to the top so we waited for dark to see if the big tree at the top of this hill was the ancestor tree. Ari detected magic on the tree and it was magical. She detected magic on branches on the ground and they were not. So this might not be the ancestor tree but at least we were in the right vicinity.


The moon was already up in the sky when the sun set. Soon it was dark and the moon lit the treetops but we didn't see a fey glow. Bones helped Caper up to the first branch and Caper carefully climbed to the top where he could look out over the moonlit forest. After Caper got back to the ground he said, "I think we've come too far. The moonlit glow is brightest to the northwest and I think the ancestor tree is back a ways in the direction we came."


In the morning Bones suggested that Caper climb the tree again for a daytime view but it was slick with dew and Caper couldn't do it. (I rolled a 4) So we headed back down the hill the way we came and at the bottom with the sun peeking up over the eastern horizon we searched for a path up a hill to the northwest. Soon we were climbing the next hill and were at the top well before noon.


Of course there was a big tree at the top of this hill too. Bones boosted Caper up and he was easily able to scramble up to the top. When Caper climbed back down he said, "The next hill to the northwest is even taller than this one. I'm not sure the ancestor tree is there but I'm pretty sure this isn't the ancestor tree." So after we ate we continued on to the northwest again. Ascending the next hill we found a huge tree. It was time for supper. After we ate we thought we would look around for squamish mushrooms just in case this was the ancestor tree. Bones found a patch of them due west and then Ari found a big patch north of them.


After the sun set the big tree glowed brighter than the moon. We went to the big patch of mushrooms and followed the moonbeams penetrating the forest canopy and shining on the ground. With half the night gone Bones finally saw the moonbeams light some mushrooms and he was able to pick five of them which barely covered the bottom of the witch's bag.


In the morning we ate and although we were tired we decided to search for a branch from the ancestor tree before we slept. We searched here and we searched there and then Ari found a big branch just north of the tree. She detected magic on the branch and sure enough it was a branch from the ancestor tree. Caper searched again to the northeast and Bones searched around close to the tree. Bones found one but Ari couldn't tell if it was magic or not. Caper suggested that Ari carry her branch and that Bones should carry his back to the witch to find out if it is magic.


After their naps Ari searched for medicinal plants and Caper searched for mushrooms. Ari found a fever plant and harvested leaves. Caper found two large mushrooms he knew to be edible but when Ari detected magic on them she discovered that they were magical and Caper decided not to eat the magic mushrooms until he had talked to the witch about them.


It took two more nights to find enough mushrooms. The third night we spread out a little with Bones looking at the patch to the west while Ari and Caper looked at the big patch. We had good luck toward morning. With the moon near full it didn't set until almost sunrise. We ended up with 30 mushrooms. 20 filled the witch's bag half full and Ari put the other ten in another bag stowing them carefully in her pack.


Although we were tired we decided to hike on back to Milyagon. We found a game trail heading east and we left the Wilken Woods in the farmlands to the west of Milyagon. Soon we were across the bridge and at the Inn having a hot dinner, something Caper really missed while they were camping.


After we ate it was a short walk to the witch's cottage to the northeast of town and she was vary glad to see us. She kept the branch Ari was carrying saying it would do fine. She looked at the branch Bones found and said it was also from the ancestor tree and was in fact a magic quarterstaff. She told Bones to keep it and thanked him for his help. When Ari showed her the two bags of mushrooms she was delighted and said that she would teach Ari how to make the squamish salve and she could keep the extra for her medicine kit. She grinned wide when she saw the tailfeather, stuck it in her bonnet where it looked right at home, rolled her eyes three times, touched her nose, and said, "Yes, this will do nicely. My thanks to all of you." Then Caper showed the witch his magic mushrooms found beneath the ancestor tree and the witch said, "Now these are nice. These mushrooms are not dangerous but they should be consumed in moderation. One half of one of these large mushrooms will affect three people as if they had two large tankards of ale. And, of course, the mushrooms are much easier to carry then a keg of ale. Unlike ale the mushrooms don't slow you down in fact they do the opposite and make you slightly more dextrous for about four hours."


XP

Group XP

For finding the ancestor tree and completing the quest - 400


Ari

For finding mushroom patch - 20

For finding mushrooms - 40

For finding a branch - 100

For finding the fever plant - 20

Following fairy trail - 40

Detecting magic - 40

Total for session - 660


Bones

For finding mushroom patch - 20

For finding mushrooms - 80

For finding a branch - 100

Following fairy trail - 40

Total for session - 640


Caper

For finding mushrooms - 60

For finding edible magic mushrooms - 40

Tracking - 20

Climbing trees - 40

Total for session - 560

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