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Handy Haversack
Handy Haversack
Handy Haversack


Actual play from last session:

Well, I guess that could have gone better!

-- The party got back to Felchapel ( after just a little bit of wandering through the now-corpse-grafittoed Piteous Forest ( around the now-empty Ruined Palace of the Metegorgos. Lots of corpses hanging from trees, all carved YOU ARE DAMNED.

-- The geas-object demon-slaying sword was given to the Kybernetes, who took all the wind out of the let's-kill-the-Kybernetes sails by being basically decent to them and offering them work.

-- After Mato Firebear trained and others did some spell research and whatnot, they decided -- since they didn't want to either start Maze of the Blue Medusa (#MotBM) or go librarian hunting without a couple of missing players -- to take the Kybernetes up on her offer and go explore an ancient zoo that had recently come to light within the huge ruined pile of Felchapel. Apparently, research indicated that yet another Medusa sister was in there, and Solon had decided killing all of them is a pretty good quest. Also, the Kybernetes wanted an apparently very unsettling toad, recognizable by its unsettlingness. And she offered them a condo in exchange!

(Spoilers for Zak Sabbath's Vornheim Zoo)

-- So they went into that. And figured out pretty quickly they might be trapped in that the door was a Master Door that only the Master of the place could open -- though Solon had his ball of knocking things down, so that was one idea.

They explored and mapped. Creatures encountered:

-- Nightingale: Flies away

-- 15' wide four-headed tortoise creature with massive extra criss-cross mouth on shell. Had been released from cage. Just about took out the ceiling while attacking. Did quite a bit of damage. Solon cast his first (and only??) fireball. Eutropia went gut diving afterward and found a massive pearl in its insides. Some party members convinced this is an egg

-- ASTRAL PEACOCK???!@@@???@@: Efforts to calm down with lots of rope and tugging prove unsuccessful. Eventually killed and tail cut off.

-- Room covered in fungus

-- Vampire monkey still in its cage (you see, This Witness, Mystic of Aurorus ( (+Logan Knight), read the plaques and learned the ancient Mandarin dialect at the expense of Atlantean and so could identify the type and feeding requirements of all the animals)

-- Mutant snail that only eats printed matter that begins with the letter "s"; quite a conversationist despite sounding a lot like T. S. Eliot. Reveals that toad is to NW. Really gets along quite well with Mato Firebear

-- Very Unsettling Toad: So unsettling that Halstan the bard and This Witness go blind when they look at it. During subsequent toad probing, attacked simultaneously from two directions by vampire monkey and blue tiger. These are defeated (monkey turns into pool of black blood and flows away). Unsettling Toad bagged up.

-- Bathroom

-- Firefly woman: This Witness, blind but not useless, manages to learn the clicking, hissing language of the firefly folk (forgetting Tundra Esquimeaux). Firefly woman has been trapped for eons, can't count the time. Very grateful for chance of rescue. Reveals that the nightingale is actually in charge somehow and is the master.

-- White Octopus -- its cage unlocked, came out of tank to attack. Serious fight but party wins, even though beat up. As Ulva and Mato go to heal, Solon goes by himself to look at tank and is the only one on that side of room when a goatscorpion demonic nightmare creature charges into the room and gets surprise on everyone. It grabs Solon in a pincer. The next round, people are charging and Billy Ray Valentine has to make a half-move to cast his spell and Mato's bag tiger has to charge, too, and the upshot is that no one is there in time to keep the thing from plunging its stinger into Solon, who takes 38 HP of damage, which, it turns out, is way more than he had. Everyone else got there including the tiger and did some serious damage, but too late for Solon.

-- And his brown recluse familiar emerged from his foaming mouth and shook its tiny forelimbs at the goatscorpion before prostrating itself in grief.

-- And we basically freeze-framed right there. There's talk of summoning a daemon to see if it can bring Solon back! That could not possibly backfire!

So RIP (at least for now), Solon. At least he got to cast fireball once. And no one could accuse him of any risky selfless acts!

Actual Play from last weekend:

We had freeze-framed from last session with the party in various states of strung out and on the doorstep of the Ruinous Palace of the Metegorgos (

Solon: Lvl. 5 Magician: Reasonably OK. Flying.
Eutropia: Lvl. 5 Ranger: Not a scratch!
Billy Ray Valentine: Lvl. 4 Mountebank (ill./thief): Not too shabby
Ulva: Esquimmeaux cleric: Blinded, flying, with further continual light spells giving crotchlight and footlight
This Witness: Lvl. 2 Mystic of Aurorus: Stunned into emotional stupor by having visucalized the last ten minutes of the life of one of the Metegorgos's pariah children (zombies)
Halstan: Lvl. 2 bard. OK
Mato Firebear: Lvl. 2 druid. OK.
--His tomato plant: Poised and ready
Ondrest: Lvl. 2 Scout: OK
Argyros the Coffin(/Coughin'): Lvl. 2 assassin

After some brief scouting around into the darkness of the Ruinous Palace, lit by Ulva's crotchlight, the party decided to retreat and try to rest in the nearby forest. This Witness came out of her emotional stupor and managed to dispel the light on Ulva's eyes, though only after Aurorus misunderstood the first request and locked the mystic's and the cleric's heads together in a vise of darkness that pulled secrets out of Ulva's mouth and poured them into This Witness and so on to the goddess. the cleric decided not to risk dispelling the crotchlight.

By the time they got going, Mato's entangling of the last of the piteous zombies had worn off, and they had to dispatch the last few as they climbed the slope, crying for their mother to witness the revenge they would wreak for their fallen brother, the Obsidian Wyrm, calling on her to finally love them, to let them in, to forgive them for the transgressions that led to their births. The party chopped them down. Then Ulva managed to use a scroll of animate dead on the fallen Wyrm and, with a 40', rather mangled, obsidian-scaled corpse fitting into the marching order, they struck off into the woods.

They found a place to camp and rest, but rest proved hard. Essentially, the wild high druids, taking advantage of the sudden power vacuum created by the death of the Obsidian Wyrm, launched a DOS attack on the party. Surrounding the campsite from up to a few hundred, the whole dog pack howled and howled and howled. The watch roused the party, which was hardly necessary. Finally, Argyros the Coffin (Coughin'; also a homophone in Kimmerian) activated his ring of invisibility and established a range for the dogs. He reported back. Soon the howling faded, and everyone tried to rest again, only to have it start up an hour later. Argyros went off again to scout toward the mound of the ruined palace. When he wasn't back in an hour, Ulva aimed his undead wyrm in the same direction and told it to go and bring back the first dog it found. When it wasn't back in an hour, the spell casters stuffed wax and gauze in their ears and bedded down while Eutropia and This Witness kept watch [saves required to get to rest with those measures; everyone passed!].

In the morning they followed the Wyrm's tracks through the forest, which soon weaved and deviated, showing that the dogs had toyed with it until they led it over a cliff to smash on the rocky ground below. They went back and aimed toward the mound and soon found the bloody mark of Argyros's passing, though his body, its heart and tongue eaten out, was not revealed until Ondrest searched through the blood and pulled the ring off a blood-slick finger [and their was much rejoicing; er, mourning].

Back to the Ruined Palace. Ulva's crotchlight had yet to fade and so was aimed into the crevasse just inside the entrance. What it revealed chased the cleric back to her fellows. The two floating excresences of filth, undulating forward on sine-wave filaments were dispatched rather quickly. This Witness, hoping to send knowledge of the unknown creatures to Aurorus, tried to light them on fire. [Here, everyone, including the DM, had a ten-minute delusion of this working, everyone taking 4 damage from the violent self-fouling induced by the smoke, Ondrest the Scout falling unconscious from the damage, and This Witness "healing" him but committing Malpractice and thus accidentally filling his flesh with psychic antennas that would summon a spirit every week that would mopily follow the scout around bemoaning its fate. But it turned out this was just caused by some Pringles that had been incorrectly ranked on the Extreme-O-Meter and fire didn't actually work AT ALL in the Ruined Palace, and so soon order was restored.]

Having learned that fire would not light, and with Ulva convinced that some curse laid by the gods was on the place, Solon had his henchkid, The Kid, activate his electric torch as the cleric's crotchlight was starting to fade. This Witness, after failing to secure permission to relight said crotch, also managed to coax magical godlight onto an unlit torch after only a few incidents. And they proceeded, after Eutropia's social advances were completely rebuffed by the stone-playing rock creatures who were decidedly not amused by the dungeon marbles she tried to add to their game.

And so. Down the stairs. To an ancient shrine where the Metegorgos herself cooed and cuddled a golden idol that was both ikon and child. Here the miasma of anticlimax threatened, for the players achieved surprise and scattered effectively as Billy Ray Valentine fired off his wand of lightning at the Metegorgos. The good news for trivia buffs was that this was the first time he had used such a thing at close range and so was not expecting his own lightning bolt to bounce back and hit him (after hitting the Metegorgos twice). Fate was kind, though, in figuring rather than bouncing back a time or two more, it would somehow angle itself up the stairs. And so fell the Metegorgos. And almost Billy Ray valentine, too.

But wait--wasn't there something about Old High Thunder Hag being a language rich in information density and pathos but somehow completely useless against tigers?

Indeed there was. For the party found the only daughters of the Metegorgos at play in their rushing river. After only a moment of parley, the group retreated and searched the Metegorgos's bedchamber carefully, there finding the only thing in the Ruined Palace they suspected had not been birthed by her: a black velvet bag with seven irregular lumps. Solon took one out, and it leaped from his hand, a tiger! After a moment's hesitation, the great cat seemed to bond with him.

For some reason heartened by this enough to convince themselves that winning could always be winninger, they boldly set back forth again to confront the Thunder Hags. Here, This Witness steered into the skid of her class by allowing one of the languages she knew to be completely replaced by the tongue of the Thunder Hags (Old High Thunder Hag). Of course, the one she lost was Common. But before the rest of the party attacked, she learned from the monosyllablic grunts and fish-to-wall smackings that the Thunder Hags basked in the glow of a mother's love for her only (nonzombie) daughters, that the joy of running water and robust blind cave fish was a sensory delight ever renewed, ever refreshed, ever revealing itself again as each crystalline instant was rooted in indelible memory by the elemental sounds of current, the infinite varieties of condensation, the invisible rainbows of water dashing itself to vapor in the dark.

Then the party attacked.

The fight was long and insanely dangerous and involved rank after rank of PCs stepping forward to the ledge only to be grappled down into the pounding current by a leaping Thunder Hag. Until the tiger got involved. And it leaped from Thunder Hag (favored daughter) to Thunder Hag (infinitely treasured consciousness), powering its mighty springs by raking its back claws through viscera to bone. And the blood was soon gone for the river will wash away all sins and all memories when nothing is left to speak them.

It turned out that other than blind-cave-fish toys-food, the Thunder Hags had no treasure except their legacy of experience. So the party trooped outside only to find a fresh human head, Kimmerian, tongueless, eyeless, posed on the top step just outside the door of the Ruined Palace. After some [lengthy] debate, they retreated back into the mound, hoping to be able to rest in the Metegorgos's bed chamber, where they felt the curse was slacker and fires might light.

In the shrine, though, they found the last two Thunder Hags weeping over their mother's seared remains and vowing eloquent vengeance. Solon remembered to tell This Witness (in Atlantean, the only common language the Mystic had with the party at that point) to tell the Thunder Hags to mention to their mother and aunt in hell that Solon had sent them and would do the same for the other ten or eleven or however many Medusa sisters, and then, even though the tiger had faded to nothing, the party dispatched the last two Thunder Hags and left This Witness as the only speaker of Old High Thunder Hag in all the great, abyss-tossed disk of Hyperborea.

And freeze frame.

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This is a good thing. Now you can make it your thing!

Seriously, it can fit really well with Hyperborea. At least it did with my version of Hyperborea.
So it looks like Ruinous Palace of the Metegorgos is live and available for purchase!

This 20 page location-based adventure by +Evey Lockhart offers some dynamic challenges for your adventuring party and brand new monsters to deal with, including sad zombies, sunstroke daemons, thunder hags, and the Metegorgos herself.

It features beautiful, original artwork by +Sam Mameli as well.

If you'd like to read an actual play of the adventure contents in use (be warned, spoilers ahead), check out +Handy Haversack's post here:

Have fun!

OK! More from GaryCon IX. A couple of notes for AS&SH G+ers who were not there.

I ran Meal of Oshregaal ( on the grid Sunday afternoon. There's always some Sunday attrition, so I ended up with five players, one of whom is in my home group and two friends from GaryCons past and the Hyperborea boards (+Elijah Elder). While it did end up a TPK, that happened only at the end of our four-hour slot, so I call that a success! My impression was that the players had a lot of fun and really liked both the mechanical and flavor aspects of the adventure. Arnold's set-up fits well with my descriptive abilities (I skew ewwwward).

I heartily recommend this to the AS&SH Referee. though. Very easy to drop into Hyperborea.


I set them up on a mission to extract Grandfather Oshregaal's scribe (Plum) and return her to her vat sisters. A shadowy gang of replacement PCs waited in the caverns. This party ended up splitting up early in the game, two of them being escorted by the imp to use the facilities, the others leaving replacement PCs with Grandfather and going to "rest up."

My players had not gone upstairs when I first ran this, so that was new to me. They avoided Grandfather's room and did not mess with Nathema's gift, but they did go in and talk to Grandfather's sister, who became one of my favorite NPCs of all time. Her dedication to her art provides a built-in depth that actually arises from single-mindedness. In her room, working on the chair, she really just didn't care about anything else and was perfectly content to let the PCs hang around as long as they kept quiet. She tried to convince two of them (CHA 14s) to volunteer as material and so reach apotheosis in art, but when they turned her down, she was content to be merely disappointed. Artists are used to failure.

I think, though, that it was too much for one player, who tried to take her head off when she went back to carving. He screwed his surprise roll, and then she really came into her own. Her first move (well, after the stinger) was to cast infantilize. Then, while her bed roused and dealt with the other PCs, she charmed the adorable baby berserker swinging its adorable baby two-handed scimitar at her. The fire-thief climbed (fell) out the window, and the bed knocked the fighter unconscious, and I drew the curtain of charity over what happened next in that room. Let's just say that art can still be OK even if the materials don't offer themselves willingly . . .

At any rate, there were some fun shenanigans with the peacocks, and one of the new characters ended up stranded in a peahen body after watching his new bird sisters devour it. I told him that he could try to leave it at any time but that there was no guarantee he could get back in. Unfortunately, this made the player too nervous to try possessing one of the mountain ape (ogre) butlers, which might have proved useful.

The other group, after killing the imp, did some exploration, drank some wine, grew some gills, distended their jaws, learned how to harden objects by whispering to them (I used two(!) mutation tables from +Scrap Princess and would ask the mutating player whether his favorite number was 30 or 100 and then roll on that table; this was a big hit), missed pretty much all the clues and treasure as they quote "top-down[ed] this motherfucker," but found Plum and got her quite invested in her own escape, the poor dear. Good catch phrase for Plum: "Let me check my notes . . . no, I got nothing."

So the downstairs party (barbarian, necromancer) and the upstairs party (fire thief [still alive! spent some time as a shark; has gills], fighter, astral peahen) start to reconverge toward the feast hall because the downstairs (top-downing-this-motherfucker) group decides (with some dissension) to not figure out what's going on with the folded hallway and instead try to fight their way out with Plum's crystal sword.

And then everything went wrong, big time.

First, the necromancer decided on some subterfuge, went back and got the cursed portrait painting and managed to convince Plum to hide in it while they tried to get the crazy old man to help them fight (after first trying to catch Plum by surprise and just let the old man grab her). She finally agrees.

The crazy old man mentions that he had been looking for the Grey Grim Blade, which the necromancer figures he had seen in the trophy room, so the two of them go back to get it.

The smashing. The burning. The Shadow Children. The Walrus Revenant. The end of that part of the party. (And eventually a horrible surprise for Plum!)

So the astral peahen, fire thief, fighter, and barbarian all try to attack the feast at one time. The barbarian actually manages to get surprise on and would Grandfather O, which pisses him off. He uses the mass command. The fire thief had had a drink from the fountain and so docilely sits (NB: At first they did not think the one-word command was "sit").

The barbarian forgot to stuff the gauze he had been keeping in his cheeks ("I don' want his mother to see him like this") in his ears before attacking, but made his save--and then was knocked out by Grandfather's fully operational claws. The peahen failed to possess Nathema and was captured. And the fighter was knocked out, too.

I did narrate for them the appearance of the eventual fusion creature that soon was terrorizing the nearby countryside.

All in all, success!

One thing I noticed: for con or one-off play, requiring someone to stay with Grandfather can be fun limiting. I was happy to let them make that a "shadow" PC as long as they stayed in the spirit of the place and accepted what it would mean to leave). In campaign play, no problems with that.

Also, it's very easy for a party to get separated in lots of ways here, so be prepared to deal with that. Since most of the players didn't know my style, I made a point of saying that while their characters could not act on areas where they were not present, as players they should feel free to lend their brains to all the aspects of the adventure that were testing player skill rather than character skill, and that worked well. (I think they would have figured out the hallway if the top-downing hadn't gathered such unstoppable momentum!)

Great adventure. Would run again!

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Some actual play reporting from yesterday's crazy session is available here:

Murder by Crotch Light!

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Haven't done one of these in a while! I actually took a break from DMing for a bit, and one of the players (Solon's) took over. Now we've switched back.

AS&SH. Hyperborea.
Solon = lv. 5 magician
Eutropia = lv. 5 ranger
Billy Ray Valentine = lv. 4 mountebank (illusionist-thief)
Argyros the Coffin = assassin
This Witness = Mystic
Mato the Firebear = druid

I think there's a bard, a scout, and now a cleric floating around, too.

10/8/16: Somehow, Billy Ray peer-pressures Sophia and Drest to death. Using a trail of dead fish-people to lure an ooze into a trapped hallway leads to only partial redemption.
Port Greeley (by +Jeff Talanian) episode 2!
We ended up trying to outsmart the super-tough bad buys by sleeping in their treasure chamber. It went poorly. The row-boat chase scene was pretty cool. We lost some 1st- and 2nd-level PCs but managed to escape so that that powers that be could fuck with our business some more. Sweet.

11/5/16: That Hyperborean fighter sure looks a lot like that other Hyperborean fighter who just died. And I don't think Solon is coming here for the Drunken Debauchery.
We cycle through some more 1st-level dudes and manage to prove that we run bounty-hunter-chaos-panic-slaying business in this town! And the weird plant business. Oh, Rel, god of thieves, geases Solon to go find some Daemon Slayer sword and bring it to the Kybernetes in Felchapel, with whom we had thought we were quitsville. The pronunciation of "geas" gets a real workout.

12/3/16: One-off! GaryCon practice: Meal of Oshregaal (by +Arnold K.): Why are all those trippy peahens mad at Peter? Why did Manny get eaten by that space whale? And when does the adventure start? Also: Never leave a man behind. Necromancers don't count.
Warming up the game I'm running at GaryCon.

12/17/16: Look, if you want to be left alone, just don't fireball us. We're happy to leave! RIP, all the young dudes.
The Daemon Slayer sword is in the sarcophagus of a super-touchy lich who fireballs the whole party as were just trying to leave. The low-level people really don't make it in a big, bacony way. But we got the stupid sword. Oh, but Billy Ray Valentine lost his hand. Looking good, Billy Ray?

12/31/16: A second-level assassin and a full-body tattoo seem like appropriate New Year's gifts. Witches, man - I gotta bail.
Just a little light witch hunting as we break in some new recruits. Argyros the Coffin ("coffin" and "coughin'" also rhyme in Kimmerian) actually lives through an entire adventure. We also find a daemon-summoning scroll and debate the merits of having the daemon deliver the daemon-slayer sword to the Kybernetes right through her neck and then take both her soul and the sword as payment. The logistics of this pretty much prevent our continued punning on "geas."

1/14/17: Dost thou want to kill deliciously, Lt. Calley?
Along the road to Felchapel, which is also Along the Road of Tombs ( by +Gus L. After killing some apes banging on a tomb, the party bangs on a tomb for a while until dignity kicks in. Then they end up fighting creepy hounds whose howling can be heard miles off but not up close, where they are silenced. A night gaunt joins the fun, and Mato the Firebear, brand-new druid, casts entangle on himself to avoid an endless tickle torment in the Black Gulf.

At the Feasters Inn in the Red Massif, where there's allegedly a necromancer who could maybe help with the increasingly missing limbs among the party, Solon ('s brown recluse daemon familiar) overhears one of the waitstaff refer to him as delicious and begins the slaughtering of the entire bar. When he realizes they are all 0-level inn workers, he decides no witnesses can be left behind. Things get very Full Metal Jerkin.

Session ends in a Hyperborean standoff with the assembled creepy-hound- and weird-monster-commanding inner circle of the group that claims to be a sect of contemplative gardeners.

1/28/17: "Wee, sleekit, tim'rous, cow'rin cannibal cultie / O wat a lighting bolt's in thy breastie?"
Burns Night Day (observed)! Somehow, all that whisky fires up Billy Ray, who manages to defeat pretty much the entire cult. Incredibly, the low-level PCs survive, and the Dust Family allies don't even screw anyone over. Super-scary magic items are liberally distributed to the party's weirdest members. Onto Felchapel! With sexy results?

Oh, and Solon and Billy Ray get their limbs back, with some mismatchery. Feeling good, Louis!

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Did I mention that last weekend one of my players had his first-level druid cast entangle on himself just in order to make it too annoying for the nightgaunt to pick him up and carry him away to the Black Gulf and an endless nightmare of torment and tickling? Because that happened. Auto-entangle FTW.

Though he still claims to think that magic grass should entangle a flying scorpion. We have to agree to disagree on that one.

Contra Harley Davidson, in Hyperborea it's better to be alive and uncool than dead and cool.

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So I spent a few hours yesterday working on the next (pre)generation of pregens for my GaryCon games this year. Figured the last batch had done yeoman's work already! I thought I might a request submit to the hivemind for help with images to paste onto the character sheets (I'm using Maezar's Sheet of Wondrous Automation []). So if anyone can post a link to publicly accessible images that fit any of these, I'd appreciate it! (Will update once I do the cleric and thief subclasses, too):

Keltic barbarian (male)
Esquimmeaux berserker (female)
Atlantean cleric (m)
Kimmerian warlock (death soldier) (f)
Ixian fighter (f)
Viking warlock (fire lord) (f)
Hyperborean pyromancer (m)
Common illusionist (f)
Kimmerian magician (m)
Ixian necromancer (m)
Atlantean ranger (f)
Amazon thief (f)
Pict warlock (m)
Esquimmeaux witch (m)

Or a decent search engine for same?

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