Thursday, August 8, 2019

You are in a maze of twisty passages all alike

Review - The Nightmare Maze of Jigrésh by Michael E Mayeau
Judges Guild 1981 for Empire of the Petal Throne

     As part of my recent splurge buying old books and adventures, I saw this for sale for a reasonable price and snapped it up from williams_books on the Amazon Marketplace.

Frankly, I had never heard of it before, nor was I aware that JG had published any  for EPT.  I knew that they were a big D and D shop, who had a few offerings for RuneQuest too. Overall and over the years, I've found the Judges Guild RuneQuest products quite good, while the D and D products have been uneven in quality - City State of the Invincible Overlord being groundbreaking, while the Purple Worm under the bed in Tegel Manor is an object of wonder and/or ridicule.  This product is firmly at the low end of the spectrum as far as being an adventure I would consider running - but I am VERY happy I picked it up.

The Good , the Bad and the Ugly
And the Turning of the Volume to 11
And why I'm excited to own it

The Ugly
The author explains that he was inspired by a maze being copied and passed around the office, which he took and modified to create the dungeon (left).  Not a labyrinth, a maze, one of the ones you look at and try to draw a line from the start to the finish.  The whole point of it is that you can see the whole maze, and still have trouble figuring out how to get from Point A to Point B.  Now take that and try to do it using Theater of the Mind, there is a reason why Zork had the tagline I used as a title.

Oh, and the scale is problematic too, the DM's map is ¼ inch = 10 feet - measuring the passages, the vast majority are 2½ feet wide with 3 inch walls.  One character at a time can fight in a passage, maybe a spellcaster in the second rank could get a shot off, of course if the first rank goes down, the spellcaster is toast.  A extremely strong character or one with a pick could break right through them - assuming they're stone.

The author appears to have had some appreciation of the issues the map would pose, as he offers a real time based movement system, rather than forcing the hapless DM to measure tiny curves to estimate distance traveled - which is how EPT tracks elapsed time in the dungeon.

Fixing it:  Draw a new labyrinth, great use for geomorph tiles I think, create a few standard patterns and use them more than once in your labyrinth layout.  Make sure that you put traps on monsters where they will be found if the characters try the 'follow the left/right wall' trick to navigate the labyrinth.  Why?  Read about the Bad and find out.

The Bad
Really a sort of nice idea horribly executed.  The author provides a blank copy of the maze (partially shown above) and gracious permission to photocopy the page, as a Player's map.  Ok, if they get it, you could time them as they did the maze, I suppose.  But they can't get the map until after they have reached the end of the maze and found the McGuffin, in other words it becomes an available resource at the point where it has little to no value to the adventure.

Fixing it:  Give them a chance to get a partial map upfront, no need to make it to easy and it doesn't have to show the shortest safest path either.  Remember those repeating geomorphs?  Use them to keep the players can mislead themselves into thinking they are on the right path when they've wandered onto a completely different trail.

The Good
The McGuffin - "The Claw of Srükráum" a neat little artifact that creates undead, different kinds depending on the freshness of the body you stab in the heart.  Pulling it off in combat creates a very powerful monster to fight for you.

The Turning of the Volume to 11
Monsters, what a variety of monsters.  A 16 page dungeon, of which only 5 pages contain monsters and area descriptions, yet the author packs Twenty Two different kinds of monsters into those pages.  Twenty directly from EPT and two brand new ones.  The Jájgi - a powerful undead which became a staple of Tekumel, appearing in Professor Barker's books and the Tekumel Beastiary of 1992.  And the forgotten Hwo'ár, which get a quarter page write up and a handful of encounters - then flies off into Tsuru'úm - the Underworlds of Tekumel, never to be heard from again as far as I have found.

What's Exciting (to me anyways)
Two pages of fluff.  But it's fluff copied from The Book of Ebon Bindings, a very rare volume in the real world retailing as a second hand paperback for about $140 a copy on the day I posted this.  The fluff describes Srükráum - Lord of the Legions of the Despairing Dead and Tkél - The Guardian of the Gates of Flame, Supreme One of Doors, Warder of the Walls and the Pylons and the Portals, He Who Seals with Fire.  Two extremely powerful demons serving the Lords of Change.  Finding extracts of a book I have heard of but never seen - and can't pull myself to spend that kind of money on - is incredibly exciting to me.  Mostly because I know that this is exactly the way manuscripts got passed down from the Classical World, as copied fragments rather than as complete documents more often than not.

Grognardia did a review of this adventure years ago.

Oh, the big green warthog and guy on the cover? No relation to  the adventure.

Friday, July 26, 2019



FrequencyCommonDungeon EncGang(1d6)/Warband(1d3 Gangs)
No. Appearing2-20Wilderness EncWarband(1d3 Gangs)
/Village(1d10 Warbands)
Armor Class54
Movement9" / Burrow 1"90 (30')/Burrow 5'
Hit Dice4+14+1
% In Lair20%20%
Treasure TypeIndividuals M (*10), Q, B, S in lairL per Warband + special
No. Of Attacks2 or 1Claw/Claw or 1 Large Club or Weapon
Damage2-5/2-5 or 1d10 or by weapon1d4+1/1d4+1 or 1d10 or Weapon +3
Special Attacksnilnil
Special DefenseProtected backProtected back
Magic ResistanceStandardN/A
Save N/AF4
IntelligenceSemi- to Low Semi- to Low
AlignmentNeutral or Chaotic EvilNeutral or Chaotic
SizeLarge (9+ feet tall)Large
Psionic AbilitynilN/A
Morale N/A+2

Womgrrs are a semi-successful crossbreed between wombats and ogres.  They inhabit plains and unforested hills, digging communal burrows for lairs.  While Womgrrs physically breed true, their mental capacities vary. 25% of the population are Chaotic Evil and Viscous with Low intelligence, resembling their Ogre ancestry, these fight with weapons and armor preferably.  50% of the population are Neutral with Low intelligence, they fight with their claws and rarely are given any armor.  This group makes up the bulk of the gangs and Warbands which will always be led by one of Chaotic Womgrrs.  The last 25% are Semi-intelligent vegetarians, which will only fight if cornered in their burrows.  A particularly cunning Chaotic Womgrr may use these as arrow fodder, pushing them ahead of the Warband to absorb damage and get magic users to self-identify.  These will retreat, underground if possible, in response to any damage. A DM should not award much XP for killing them unless they are used as above.

* the WomGRRs special ability is improved defense against attacks from the rear.  The thick cartilaginous back end provides improved protection, attackers do not receive any bonus for attacking from the rear.

See also: Surreptitious or Burrowing Tiger

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Review Chivalry & Sorcery Supplement - Swords & Sorcerers: Physical Layout

A recent pick up from Once Read Books out of Long Beach C, it's a supplement to my first ever RPG purchase.

Physical Condition as advertised: "Paperback. GOOD. White and green illustrated wraps, approx. 8.5"x11", 94pp., bagged for protection, small creases to spine end, spine hinges, and corners, 3 holes punched into spine hinges, closed tear across middle  hole on back cover, price sticker remains to middle back cover, rub-wear to covers, most pages detached from spine, many loose pages, no missing pages."

Physical Condition as received.  Bagged as advertised, I'd describe the color as mustard yellow rather than green.  The exterior flaws as noted, plus an additional small tear on the top of the back cover.  Only the residue of the price sticker glue remains on the back, so no idea what the original selling price was.  I want to say the original source book was in the $20 range, but I paid cash many miles and a few decades ago - and don't save my receipts.   I'm not concerned about the holes punched in the book, as I did the same to my core rule book, some time around 1982, the Fantasy Games Unlimited bindings weren't of the highest quality.

Opening the package - the book is really feels like it's in remarkably good shape.  Inside the front cover is inscribed "Paul Rado", in much neater handwriting than I ever had.  Anyone know him?

Started paging through it to check for missing pages, the pages really are falling out as soon as I get past the preface, so I'll put it in a three ring binder right away.  All the pages are there, the page count in the advertisement did not include the pages in the dedication, table of contents or introduction, so there are an additional seven pages, every one complete and legible at first pass.

Wow, look at the dedication page.  I just read about Ed Simbalist visiting Chaosium, now I see the connection to Arneson.

All the pages are there and in very good condition.

Layout - the font seems easier on the eyes that in the Sourcebook, but I suspect when I look at them side by side they will be the same.  Nope, I was wrong - this book is laid out in 9 point font, single column; the C&S Sourcebook is 6 point font, two columns per page.  Thank you, unknown  layout artist at Fantasy Games in 1978 - much easier on the eyes!  It's divided into three sections, Nordic, Steppe Nomads and "Gaels and Picts" as a single section.  Just leafing through it, I see that I'll want to do a post looking at each section, checking for new material versus repeating sections from the Sourcebook (reusing content from previous products was a bad habit Judges Guild had in their the Wilderlands campaign setting; first chance to see if FGU did it too.). 

I'm very pleased with this purchase and will look to do business with Once Read Books again in the future.  Maybe chase my old college roommate over there to look for bargains.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Christmas in July (2019 Edition)

Had this waiting for me when I got home Sunday
and yesterday the final piece (I think) of the RuneQuest Classic Kickstarter became available.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Surreptitious or Burrowing Tiger

"You should ask Caldwell, he was Old Master Spratt's gardener."

      "He meant well, he really did," that worthy prefaced.  
      "Master Spratt always said that no matter how much I rolled the lawn, the mole tunnels still made the croquet balls miss the hoops.  So he says to me, 'I'll get you a helper, I will'."
      "So he took Top, a wombat he'd picked up in his travels to further parts.  And he took Lily, a tiger cub he'd been given and sort o' made new creatures out o' them."
      "Well, the critters dug through the ground like butter and took care of all of the moles.  But their tunnels were even bigger!  The master gave up on croquet and put in a shuffleboard court instead."

     "But the chicken coops?"

     "O' course, when they finished w' the moles, the beasties started going after the chickens.  That's why all the chicken coops in this area in these parts are built of stone, jus' like little castles." 

Surreptitious or Burrowing Tiger (ACKS Stats)

% In Lair30%10%
Dungeon EncIdiocy (1d3)/Mob(1d6)      Singular(1)/Den(1d3)
Wilderness EncIdiocy (1d3)/Mob(1d6)      Singular(1)/Den(1d3)
Movement60' (20') / Burrow 5'90 (30')/Burrow 5'
Armor Class33
Hit Dice2*5*
Attacks3 (Claw/Claw/Bite)3 (Claw/Claw/Bite) or 1 (Rake)
Damage1d4/1d4/2d41d6/1d6/2d6  or 2d8
Treasure TypeNone10% Chance of F

My lack of artistic talent
on full display
The Burrowing Tiger (Vombatis tigris vulgaris) is a small marsupial predator, whose prey consists of rats, rabbit, mole, earthworms, snakes and other small creatures living on or just under the surface.  In settled regions they are considered a nuisance due to damage cause by their large (6 - 8 inch) tunnels, which damage fences, small buildings and can cause injury to man and beast if they collapse under foot.  They also tend to preying on small domesticated fowl and animals, such as chickens, ducks and rabbits.  It is vitally important in these areas that such farm stock are kept in stone floored enclosures at night.  *The rear of the burrowing tiger is a mass of tough, cartilaginous tissue providing no advantage to attacks from the rear.

The Giant Burrowing Tiger is merely a rumor from antipodal rain forests.

Excerpt from the Society Report on the fate of the Saynsbury Expedition: Sir Oswalt Saynsbury chartered the brig Skua.  The said purpose of the trip was to investigate reports of a species of surreptitious tiger (Vombatis tigris maximus) said to hunt its prey by digging pits beneath the surface of the trail for it to fall into.  Captain Grimbalde of the Skua deposes that at the South Sea Company factory near the mouth of the Bomberra river, Sir Oswalt engaged a native guide with some rough understanding of our tongue, who promised to arrange bearers for the expedition from local Dorrikimbo villages a few miles up the river in exchange for some trade junk.  His mate Wardeby, deposed that Sir Oswalt debarked with his servant, Beale, at village approximately 5 miles from the mouth of the river called Wahrwahr or Tahrway.  Sir Oswalt instructed the rest of his party to return in two days with the trade junk he had brought.  Doctor Annelsey, of the Expedition, deposed that when Wardeby returned them to the village on the stated date, neither Sir Oswalt, nor Beale nor the guide they called Johnny were present.  The chieftain or high priest of the village (the Doctor was unable to determine the man's role with any precision)  presented them with Sir Oswalt's sword and shield while making a pantomime, the Doctor thought perhaps was of someone being attacked.  Based on the lack of any positive information and the multiple reports of the Dorrikimbo people being cannibal savages - we conclude that Sir Oswalt met his death in a cooking pot.
  The Society is open to backing any member or friend of Sir Oswalt who wishes to organize another trip to the Dorrikimbo lands for revenge or discovery.

Note:  These are wombat tiger crossbreeds, loosely based on the rules for combining creatures in ACKS.  Darren Wheeler on MeWe ACKS group suggested the crossbreed.

Sunday, June 30, 2019


% In Lair: 60%
Dungeon Enc: Wisdom (2d6) /Mob (3d6)
Vombatus ursinus -Maria Island National Park

Wilderness Enc: Mob(3d6)/Colony (4d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 60' (20')/(5' Burrow)
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 1*
Attacks: 3 (Claw/Claw/Bite) or
1 (Kick with Rear Legs)
Damage: 1d2/1d2/1d4 or 2d4
Save: F1
Morale: -2
Treasure Type: None
XP: 13

Wombats are short-legged, muscular quadrupedal marsupials that are native to Australia. They are about 1 m (40 in) in length with small, stubby tails. - Wikipedia
[Edit: forgot this when I posted]
* the wombat's special ability is improved defense against attacks from the rear.  The thick cartilaginous back end provides improved protection, attackers do not receive any bonus for attacking from the rear.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Don't Split the Party

Hetalan is toad
Illustration from
"The Adventures of Old Mr Toad"
by Thornton W Burgess
on Gutenberg

All he loves is gold,
Cowardly, like a kobold
In truth, not nearly as bold
I shall see him in the ground,
The ground so,so cold

Bit of a delay as I worked through a week of game time following Tlichnolli + Watseka finding their way to Anvil, while Sydney languishes in jail.   Then Sydney's journey to meet them.

Long post feel free to TLDR it.

Previous Posts
Portly Pomp, 8th Waning - Yellow Moon-Dog, 2nd Rising
Yellow Moon-Dog, 5th Rising - Yellow Moon-Dog, 8th Rising

Sydney’s Journal

Yellow Moon-Dog, 9th Rising Byrny Keep. We rescued Perpetua and Betucia’s son’s bodies today. We stood her up behind the temple, swords out, horror on her face. Perhaps we can find a way to restore her some day. After we returned the mule and cart, I was accosted by a beggar, when he tried to rob me, I pushed him down. Apparently, they encourage theft in Byrny, for now I am in a filthy, rat infested cell beneath the keep.

Write Up

Illustration from
Liber Vagatorm
Martin Luther (ed)
on Gutenberg
Leaving the mining office after returning the mule and cart, a ragged cripple approaches the group.
“Alms for a poor man! Alms for a crippled warrior!” he cried.
Sydney dug into her pouch and dropped some coins in his hand as she went past. Then she felt a tug as the beggar tried reaching himself into her pouch. “Damned ingrate!” she swore as she kicked his crutch out, causing him to fall into the muddy street.
A burly passing miner grabbed her. “Who are you to attack one of our own? He lost that leg fighting goblins last month!”
“He tried robbing me! After I gave him coins!”
By now a group of miners had gathered, Tlichnolli had a hand on his sword and Watseka stepped back out of the crowd.
The beggar whined as he rose “She gave me a few copper, then cursed and struck me, you all saw it”
“They saw you try to rob me!” Sydney shouted.
“I did not” said the miner holding her. “Did any of you?” Heads shook, and “No” murmured on the breeze. “You no have to right to come into our town and attack a man just because he’s a beggar. Come on let’s take her to the Governor for justice.”
Sydney looked a Tlichnolli, he shook his head. “There are eight not counting the man holding you, and I do not know the customs here, if such a combat would be allowed. “ he stated, “We will get Tallulah.”
The miners hustled Sydney off to the keep as Tlichnolli and Watseka went back to the Temple of Athena.
Try again the next day -no outbound encounter. On return Sydney accosted by crippled beggar.
Does he try to pickpocket he? Likely - 42 yes. Succeeds on 15+ . Fails!
Swing to kick crutch away 11 - hit.
9 passer-bys. Do any of them raise a hue and cry? Likely - 01. Grabs Sydney
Did any of them see the attempted theft? Doubtful - 46 - no
D6-1 days to wait in jail - 5 days
1-2 Stocks 3-4 Fine 5 Flogging 6 Banishment => 3 Fine
1d4 sp (3) + 1 Gp court costs + 2sp/day upkeep

Tlichnolli + Watseka
They returned to the Temple of Athena. Tallulah informed them that striking a beggar was a minor crime, assuming that the beggar was a citizen. Sydney could be expected to be kept in the keep until the governor, Hetalan, held a public audience. Then she would be fined, and if unable to pay, put to work in the iron mines at half wages until she paid off the debt. Hetalan held audiences irregularly, it could be a few days to two more weeks until the next audience.

Sydney’s Journal

Yellow Moon-Dog, 10th Rising  Byrny Keep. I scarcely dare use the hole in the floor, for the rats crawl out of it at all hours.

Write Up

Tlichnolli + Watseka
First they went to the keep to visit Sydney, being informed that prisoners awaiting trial were not allowed visitors, they returned to the Golden Chimera. Talking it over they decided that they should see if there was another group heading along the road to Anvil and join them, deliver the statue and letter to Flahdal, then return to see if Sydney was freed yet.

Waiting for a caravan heading north or Sydney to get out f jail
1d6 -1 days (5, so 4 days after Sydney’s arrest someone else departs up the road to Anvil.
Four hexes - encounter second hex. Rorystone Vale (7) - were tiger

Sydney’s Journal

Yellow Moon-Dog, 11th Rising  Byrny Keep. The food is slop, if they would spit in it it would taste better.

Write Up

Sydney in jail, Tlichnolli + Watseka waiting for a caravan to depart Byrny to the north

Sydney’s Journal

Yellow Moon-Dog, 12th Rising   Byrny Keep. I asked if my companions or the priestess had come to see me - the gaoler said no visitors while I was awaiting trial.

Write Up

Sydney in jail, Tlichnolli + Watseka waiting for a caravan to depart Byrny to the north

Sydney’s Journal

Yellow Moon-Dog, 13th Rising Byrny Keep. Working on songs describing Byrny and the governor.

Write Up

Sydney in jail.
Tlichnolli + Watseka
The merchant’s name was Azhar Sabeen, he was taking a load of food (rabbits and chickens) to the dwarves in Thunderhold on two large carts. Oddly, he made a point of walking gracefully downwind of the wagons during the march and didn’t eat with them that night. He agreed they could accompany him as far as Anvil, they swore to obey his orders and that if they were to vanquish any foes, he would divide any treasure among them and the rest of his party.
I was considering how an encounter with a were-tiger could play out, when I realized that being a  merchant would make a great cover for a were-tiger, as tigers are well known to become successful business men..
Image on

Sydney’s Journal

Yellow Moon-Dog, 14th Rising Byrny Keep. I was taken in front of Governor Toad and sentenced without trial. Such tyranny and injustice cry to the heavens! Three silver for striking the beggar - no crime to steal from me! - over two gold to the fat toad of a governor for the trouble he takes to pass unjust punishments. Still out of the dungeon and on the road!
Tallulah told me that Tlichnolli and Watseka had left the day before with a merchant travelling to Thunderhome. She said a group of dwarf mercenaries had left Byrny that morning and I could probably catch them before dark. Safer to travel with them than by myself. I managed to catch up to them before dinner. Grunni Blueaxe is a suspicious bastard, like all dwarfs, but let me join the throng of humans travelling with him. All the dwarfs in the world don’t have as much of a sense of humor as any of these people. Big Mick is an absolute GIANT of a man. I think Carantodia is some sort of Duneal witch, but can she ever sing! I want to try doing a duet with her. Her companion, Sammula, has the scariest dead white eyes. There’s another family besides Mick’s and the “Grosspetite”, as Mick calls the Amazons in the group. Honestly one of them is a full head taller than the other, fair to the shorter one’s ebony.

Write Up

Tlichnolli + Watseka arrive in Anvil.
Do they find Fladahl?  Easy task as he's the ruler. 00 Astounding success.  Not only do they find him, but in circumstances that put him in their debt.  However, he's very high level, they will wait 1d4 (3) days until they can actually see him.

The rat scuttled down the noisome drain in the center of the cell at the sound of the gaoler’s footsteps - this time accompanied by the jingle of chain mail. Sydney looked at the door of the cell as she heard the bars being lifted and dropped on the corridor floor outside.
“Time to see the gov’ner” the pasty gaoler cried as the door slammed inward.

The two guards escorted her out of the dungeon to the courtyard of the keep. She recognized one as one of the militia that had been sent out after the landshark.
“So, Caeso, any more reports of that monster?”
“Thank Odin, no! With any luck, I’ll be done with my rotation before it shows up again. Rather be in a rock fall in the mines, than face one of those.”
“Hah! You’re right, that’s why I ran like blazes when I saw the thing…. So, what happens to me next?”
“Governor Hetalan sentences you. After these farmers finish complaining about something stalking around the outlying farms.”
“What, no trial? I don’t get to defend myself?”
“The witnesses say you hit him. They’re citizens, so is he - you’re not. Why waste time when no one will believe you anyway? Much cheaper than trials and judges and litigation tricksters and all that folderol is what the steward says.”
The crowd of peasants in front of the dais, shuffled away after Hetalan promised to send someone to investigate the issue, Sydney was pushed forward.
The steward glanced at his notes - “Struck a fool or beggar. Said individual being a citizen of Byrny in good standing. Three silver plus costs, mines for two months if unable to pay.”
Three silver isn’t bad. Sydney dug into her pouch, “Here’s your three silver.” And proffered the coins.
The steward looked at her, “Court costs of ten silver and upkeep was..let me see.. Six days at two silver a day, total is 25 silver. You have sufficient funds?”
Mutely, Sydney nodded as three silver became two and a half gold pieces.
“Take her to the quaestor, then give her her weapons at the gate”, the steward dismissed her. “Next, we have a request from the Shipping Guild….”

After leaving the keep, Sydney went to find Tlichnolli and Watseka. Finding they were no longer at the Golden Chimera, she went to see Tallulah - who told her they had departed for Anvil with a small caravan the day before. She didn’t think that Sydney could catch up to them, but told her a group of heavily armed dwarves had left that morning, and she could probably catch up to them and and join their group for protection.
Before sunset she had caught up to the dwarves who were setting up camp. As soon as the sentry spotted her, he called out and another dwarf joined him in waiting for her to arrive.
“No, but you can join them” the dwarf with the blue metal warhammer said, pointing to another group camped past a picket line of mules, as she came up.
Sydney looked at him questioningly.
“I don’t know you, I have no reason to trust you in a fight and I won’t risk my Guys by doing so. You can join the other tag-alongs, walk with us as far as you want. You set your own watches, shout if you see something and we’ll come unless we’re also under attack. If there is a fight, run if you want, stay out of our way if you fight. Try to betray us and you’ll end up dead.” he explained.
“Pleased to meet you too” she replied, “I’ve been in fights before, and I’ve run from some damn big monsters that I couldn’t tackle. Pretty sure I can run faster than your group if I need to.”
“Hah, no bets on that!” he replied, “I’m Grunni, and these are my Guys. We’re on our way to Thunderhold, how about you?”
“Sydney, just heading up to Anvil,” she said, “ to catch up with some friends.”
A giant of a man stood up as Sydney joined the group of humans on the other side of the tethered mules.

The court scene had been generated when she was arrested, although the unnamed steward turned out to be a little worm, that I didn't know of until I wrote the scene up.
I used the same 1d6-1 to see when the next group was heading north 1 = run to catch up.  Since the group turned out to be dwarven mercenaries (Warhammer & banded mail, based on a roll on the followers table in the ACKS Players Handbook) and they can't march very fast in heavy rmor, I decided she ddn't have to cross a hexside and trigger a random encounter check.
1d8+1 people tagging along, trying to figure out what these people were like took me the better part of the week and resulted in the Rabbit Hole post.  I also started a Google Docs spreadsheet to keep track of all the NPCs.
I decided writing up a second meeting was too much work and wasn't going to add to the characters, who I expect to exit the stage shortly

Sydney’s Journal

Yellow Moon-Dog, 15th Rising  On Rorystone Road. I swear I can still see Byrny from here, these dwarfs match so slow!. Carantodia taught me a song today, I could feel the power in it as a bird came, perched on my finger and sang with us. Then Big Mick joined in and got the same response (except the bird shat on his hat)! Carantodia
is a Duneal witch and she talked Mick into joining her - Sefridius, his wife isn’t so sure about that plan.

Write Up

Carantodia and Sydney were singing the song Carantodia had taught her, as wren came down and perched on the finger Sydney held out for it, trilling along with them. Sydney could feel the spell twining through her being and the world around her.
All of a sudden, a bass voice joined them in harmony. Big Mick stood there singing, with an odd smile on his face as a robin perched on his hat warbling away! Carantodia was shocked at his success.
“I’m a bird trainer by profession,” he explained, “as my father was, and my grandfather before him. They never knew this trick! It will make our lives much easier! I thank you, Carantodia.”
“It is not a ‘trick’, ean og.” she said sternly. “It is a Gift from Arduinna, to befriend her creatures. Mi-adh, misfortune dogs those who abuse the Gifts they are given. Sydney, I knew had a Gift of music and I hoped to awaken more in her. You, you are brontanas gan choinne, the unexpected gift. You should come with me and learn of the goddess and what her gifts mean.:
“My family and I will follow you, lady,” he said, “and see what you goddess intends.”
“Perhaps, “ interjected Sefridius, his wife, “But Acelina and I were born in the City State and have no longing for the orc-ridden woods. We will accompany you for now and learn on the journey how far we will continue.”

Does Sydney get Carantodia to sing a duet with her? Easy - 99 Astonishing success. Carantodia teaches Sydney a tune that acts as a spell with effects like the Beast Friendship proficiency. +2 on reactions with mundane animals and Sydney may have an animal companion. Birds come down to perch on Sydney’s finger while she sings. Big Mick is a Bird Trainer by profession, he tries singing the song too (Ridiculous for him as he is a 0 level human with no magical training.) 95 complete success.
Carantodia will attempt to recruit Big Mick as an apprentice.  Carantodia is speaking Google Translate Irish.
Does he agree (Very Hard) 93 Complete success!
Does his wife Sefredius agree? (Hard) 58 Partial success

Sydney’s Journal

Yellow Moon-Dog, 16th Rising A manticore swooped down and killed the Danvers, or was it Devers?  I didn't really get to know them, plain ordinary people who have died an extraordinary death.  Bolla went down too, Amydyma and Big Mick slew it with my help.  We buried William and Milda in a common grave, the dwarves dug it and insisted that we cover it with stones they cut as we watched.

Write Up

Image from AD&D 1e
Monster Manual
The creature flew on the updrafts provided by the rising ground below. It’s instincts knew that the rising ground also channeled prey, like the herd below straggling uphill along the dirt track.

The dwarf formation marched in front, leading their pack mules. The witch Carantodia and her companion Sammula followed, talking with Sydney about their life in the Dearthwood. Big Mick Remy and his family followed, his wife Sefridius trying to dissuade him from his sudden decision to follow the witch and their daughter Acelina trailing bored with parental squabbles behind them. Then came the Amazon Amdyma and her companion the Skandik warrior Bolla Kjallakdottir. Finally, straggling along looking for savory herbs were William and Milda Danvers.

The first warning Sydney knew of the attack was Milda’s cry. The manticore’s spikes had perforated her husband William before she had succumbed herself to the darts of the beast’s first salvo.
The travellers are ascending a narrow cutting when attacked by a manticore (20hp - a bit puny, AC 5). Order of march Dwarves, mules, Duneals, Remys, Grosspetite, Danvers. Sydney is marching with the Duneals.(I decided the dwarves marched in front, given Grunni's distrust of tag-alongs, then random for each of the groups and Sydney with a random group.)

The manticore has surprise, it will act like a carnivore, attack the stragglers, cut them from the herd, spook the herd and then settle down to eat.
First round it hits the unarmored Danvers who are close together - randomly the 6 spikes landed four in William and two in Milda.  He's way dead, she could be saved - if there is healing....but that gets used for others

Rutherford!” shouted Amdyma as she launched a javelin and Bolla loosed an arrow before Sydney could get her crossbow cocked. The javelin sailed wide, but the arrow sailed true into its target, passing through a cloud of spikes heading towards the archer.
Bolla went down as Sydney and Sammula joined Amdyma, their bows tracking the creatures movements.

Second round the Barbarians get to act and beat the manticore on initiative.  One hit, but the SKandik goes down in a hail of spikes.  Later rolls show that her legs are mangled.
Yeah, an Amazon should be shouting in Greek, but Sutherland's manticore always looks like Rutherford B Hayes to me.

Big Mick came running up waving his club inexpertly. Sefridius called on him to return as Acelina retreated towards the dwarves. Their formation marching back in step, stopping to dress their line after passing the mules.
Morale check (-2) for the 0 level family Remy.  Big Mick ends up with a 9 - Pursue and Advance; his wife a 6 - Fight On; and their daughter a 3 - Fighting Withdrawl.  The others are character types and don't check morale.

The manticore swerved out of the way of the missiles rising towards it as it spiraled down over the kill, it’s volley of spikes landing a few feet from Sydney.
Round 3 - everyone misses
It landed next to the Danvers’ corpses - and began tearing off a chunk of meat. Big Mick and Amdyma rushed up in front of the monster striking with his club and her long spear, followed by Sydney who managed to put her own sword into its haunch. The manticore pulled the Amazon in with a large paw, biting her severely, but she and Big Mick struck again. The beast expiring in a last feeble attempt to bite the tiny Amazon.
Round 4 - Everyone hits, except Sammula who is dancing around looking for a clear shot.
Round 5 - The Amazon and Big Mick put it down, it acts on the same action as the last blow, but misses
Carantodia came up with Grunni Blueaxe as the rest of the dwarves fanned out looking skyward for a mate. “Watch and listen” she told Big Mick. “Ag fas agus ag leighas” she chanted as she removed the spikes from Bolla’s legs. Sydney could see her hands leaving a trail green as the first leaves of spring as she wiped them around the punctures. The Skandik woman stopped bleeding and her eyelids fluttered open. Then she repeated the spell on Amdyma, removing most traces of her injuries.
Again, playing with ACKS Spell Signatures.  Bolla is a t 1 hp  (50% chance she prepared two Cure Lights (1-3 on d6 = yes)). Rolled a 1, so Amdyma gets healed instead of Milda Danvers who can't speak up being busy bleeding out.
Bolla rolls on the Mortal Wounds 11 & 2 -2 hp; +1 healing magic +1 healing skill; -3 after the fight 1hp, both legs lamed. 2weeks bedrest