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So, I'm listening to this interview with George R.R. Martin, and he mentions he was working with some guys who published a zine in the SF/Bay area and one of the editors was Clint Bigglestone! Clint, was pretty close with Dave at one point, even mentioned in the AG's, as well as published some OD&D/Arduin material of his own back in the 70's. Now all this has got me thinking: did Dave published any fiction, and maybe even more important, did he have any contact with GRRM? I read years ago that Martin wrote a story in the 80's that had " kill kittens" in it, but my feeling was maybe it was purely coincidental and that he came up with the vicious little critters on his own. Heh, now I'm not too sure....

Below is the interview. Clint's name drop is at 24:53

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Campaign: Arduous Adventures in the Kingdom of Arduin
Rule Sets: AD&D 1e - PHB, DMG, MMI&2, UA; Arduin Trilogy & Vols. IV & V for additional classes, races, special abilities, & gear; The Complete Alchemist
Setting: Kingdom of Arduin & Stonehell Megadungeon
The Crew:
Skip: Blasto Slamo, the laser-pistol toting, half-Orc fighter 1 & Holly Morningwood, a half-Elven Druid 1 who also speaks about 20 languages. Blasto & Holly are half-siblings, having the same father. Skip also fielded Connor McGill, a dual-class Irish F1/M-U3, & McGill’s staunch henchman Günther (human F1).

Tim: Wayne, a human cleric of Favora (Diora in published Arduinian works), level 1. He is quite a beast-tamer. Also played Flardin, the dwarven alchemist (student chemist, level 1). Flardin brought the two porters in his employ as well as horse & cart.

Session 7 Recap

Our seventh session occurred on July16, 2017 - 18 Kos in game time.

Blasto Slamo, Flardin, Holly Morningwood, McGill, Günther & Wayne met again at the Laughing Witch to plot their next foray into The Gates of Hell, as a month of high living in Pavane & McGill’s magical studies left the party’s coffers dry. They compared notes & resolved to hit the unexplored sections of the Gates of Hell hard & fast, then move on to Stonehell proper. During the last couple weeks of downtime, Flardin & Wayne struck a deal in which Wayne would test Flardin’s newly created elixirs & take careful notes regarding their effects. Flardin promised monetary & alchemical rewards for Wayne’s diligence. Flardin handed Wayne three elixirs: invisibility, contrary to flying, & contrary to friendship. Flardin was uncertain what effects the latter might produce.

[In the intervening 10 days between sessions 6 & 7, I had fun with Stonehell’s restocking table for rooms that our adventurers previously explored.]

The party brought the porters with them this time. They advanced into the curtain wall fortification and surprised three goblins who had taken over the wasp room. Holly approached the group partway and, being able to speak goblin, offered them a keg of beer for passage into the next room. The goblins agreed and Holly forked over the keg. The goblins allowed the PCs to pass after opening the keg and sniffing the contents.

Once through the door into a previously explored room that contained a fire ring, Wayne quaffed an invisibility elixir and slipped back into the goblin room. See, prior to heading out, Wayne had spiked the beer with one of Flardin’s experimental elixirs - an elixir of enmity. The cleric watched as the goblins set about drinking the keg, growing agitated all the while. Unfortunately, Wayne also failed his save and so fell under the radial influence of the elixir as well. A four-way melee ensued, with only Wayne left standing at the end of it.

Simultaneously, the rest of the party was surprised by a pair of stirges that had moved into the old campsite. The creatures managed to latch onto McGill, but quick thinking and poking with sharp bits dispatched the stirges without additional harm to the adventurers.

The PCs took the goblins pocket money while Wayne took notes on the elixir’s effects. Afterward, they used a hatch and ladder in the floor to reach the first story of the curtain wall. Behind the first door they tried, Blasto & McGill spotted five goblins roasting a deer. McGill cast sleep on the lot of them & cut their throats as they dozed. From these unfortunates, the party recovered 5 shortswords & scabbards in addition to 32 electrum coins & a gold nose ring.

The last area that our murderhobos explored was once a mage’s study. They turned over the furniture, torched some giant centipedes that nested among the bedding, & smashed the remains of the writing desk. They left empty-handed, having elected not to search for secret doors & thereby missing the closet containing a magical cloak, umbrella, & healing potion.

From here, the party picked up Coal from his lair & proceeded into Stonehell itself. Using their fine map, the adventurers opted to head in a hitherto unexplored direction - generally southwest from the grand foyer of the dungeon. Eventually, they reached a dead-end room that was dominated by a large stone wheel marked with about 20 glyphs. Even with her vast store of languages, Holly couldn't make heads or tails of the symbols. The party decided that the wheel couldn't be anything good & left it alone. They started back they way they came and, rounding a corner, came upon a work crew of 8 kobolds. Before anybody could utter a word in parley, McGill cast his second sleep spell, bring all the humanoids down. The F-MU then went about cutting their throats. Nabbing their meager belongings, the PCs opted to return to Pavane & sell their loot.

Experience awards were only moderate this time around & nobody has leveled, though Flardin & Wayne are both more than halfway to 2nd level. Going forward, I am going to adjust the amount of treasure in Stonehell upward about 25%; the module was written for Labyrinth Lord which, while using a gold standard, differs from AD&D in that 10 sp = 1 gp as opposed to AD&D’s 20:1 ratio. Copper & silver coins are therefore undervalued when porting Stonehell as written over to AD&D.

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Campaign: Session 6 of Arduous Adventures in the Kingdom of Arduin
Rule Sets: AD&D 1e - PHB, DMG, MMI&2, UA; Arduin Trilogy & Vols. IV & V for additional classes, races, special abilities, & gear; The Complete Alchemist
Setting: Kingdom of Arduin & Stonehell Megadungeon
The Crew:
Skip: Blasto Slamo, the laser-pistol toting, half-Orc fighter 1 & Holly Morningwood, a half-Elven Druid 1 who also speaks about 20 languages. Blasto & Holly are half-siblings, having the same father.

Tim: Wayne, a human cleric of Favora (Diora in published Arduinian works), level 1. He is quite a beast-tamer. Also played Flardin, the dwarven alchemist (student chemist, level 1).

Session 6 Recap

Our sixth session occurred on July 2, 2017 - 7 Kos in game time.

Blasto Slamo, Flardin, Holly Morningwood, & Wayne met again at the Laughing Witch to plot their next foray into The Gates of Hell. Collectively, they decide that they could use help carting off any loot they might find; on their last trip into the curtain-wall keep, the foursome were hard-pressed to drag out the wine cask, tools, & money they’d found. To boot, the adventurers would have been more vulnerable to attack, encumbered as they were. So Flardin bought a draft horse, cart, tack & harness, & hired two porters to accompany the party. The alchemist offered the other PCs the use of of horse, cart, & porters in exchange for a share of the treasure. They agreed.

On the way east, Wayne groused about the expenses entailed in living in town, & how foreigners like Wayne’s other adventuring colleague, Connor McGill, really get shafted by taxes. On that note, Holly broke in, “I’ve already had enough of the city. I want to find an oak grove for camp.”

“There is one north of the King’s Rest, I think,” Wayne replied. “It’s mostly on the way to where we’re headed if you want to check it out.”

“Sounds good. I won’t need much time.”

The party located the oak grove easily. It was situated near an area of low grass occupied by a free-standing wooden door. The adventurers opened the door, peered through from both sides, & even stuck their heads through the doorway, but nothing happened. The cleric recalled from his first trip to Stonehell that their guide indicated that children staying at the Kings Rest liked coming up this way to play, so the party detoured to the inn to talk with the local Kinder. There, they learned that children would use the door to visit “Uncle Ifrm” in his curio shop. The kids related a garbled account of how to use the door.

Back at the mysterious door, the gang learned by trial and error that if one walked backwards through the doorway three times from the same direction, one would arrive in Ifrm’s shop. [I set up chairs to simulate a doorway & had the players demonstrate how they navigated the doorway based on the children’s garbled description. It was pretty funny.]

[Okay, I am way behind on my play reports, so I am going into summary mode here to get caught up.]

The PCs found that, on their third time through the door, they had backed into a counter (or the previous person to have successfully navigated the portal). Numerous tall shelves & displays surround the party. A mature human male of indeterminate age greeted them from behind his sales counter, introducing himself as Ifrm Z’ban, proprietor of Ifrm Z’ban’s Bazaar Emporium. Next to Ifrm sat a watchful black panther. The IBE was stocked with all manner of wonders: brightly painted toys, shrunken animals in cages or jars of unknown solutions, drawers containing dice, cards, & incense. Ifrm demonstrated a couple of items for his new visitors, allowing them to surmise that several magical devices could be found here. Ifrm answered all questions as to his origin, the location of his shop, & the source(s) of his wares evasively. The party found Ifrm’s prices too dear for the time being & left from whence they came.

Next, the crew decided to tackle the Gates of Hell again. Leaving the porters to guard the cart & horse, the adventurers entered the ruined curtain-wall fortress. Most rooms were devoid of profitable diversion, but they did encounter a five spectral figures lounging about a spectral campfire. When Blasto had first opened the door into this chamber, one of the figures immediately looked over at him. Keeping his nerve, the warrior continued to watch the apparitions long enough to realize that they repeated the same actions over and over in unerring sequence. Wayne stepped into the chamber & implored the apparitions to cease their haunt. Having rolled a successful turning attempt, Wayne witnessed the spectral adventurers wink out of sight. Exploring the room, the party found scattered bones & gear that comprised the remains of the party that had recently vanished. In hopes of preventing the ghosts’ return, Wayne enlisted his mates’ assistance with burying the remains near a few trees west of the curtain wall. Wayne followed with a burial ritual, setting the spirits of the departed to rest. The party called it a day at this point & retired to Pavane to pursue their mundane obligations.

We finished our 7th session today & I am working on the play report now.

Campaign: Arduous Adventures in the Kingdom of Arduin
Rule Sets: AD&D 1e - PHB, DMG, MMI&2, UA; Arduin Trilogy & Vols. IV & V for additional classes, races, special abilities, & gear; The Complete Alchemist
Setting: Kingdom of Arduin & Stonehell Megadungeon
The Crew:
Skip: Blasto Slamo, the laser-pistol toting, half-Orc fighter 1 (last seen in Session 3) & Holly Morningwood, a half-Elven Druid who also speaks about 20 languages. Blasto & Holly are half-siblings, having the same father.

Tim: Wayne, a human cleric of Favora (Diora in published Arduinian works), level 1. He is quite a beast-tamer. Also played Flardin, the dwarven alchemist (student chemist, level 1) who, in Session 3, collaborated with Blasto on a brief expedition into the under city of Pavane.

Session 5 Recap

Our fifth session occurred on June 25, 2017 - 30 Torvaen in game time.

This will be a short play report as it wasn't a very eventful session.

Blasto Slamo, Flardin, Holly Morningwood, & Wayne meet at the Laughing Witch. Holly had strolled into Pavane to check on her drunk brother Blasto. Wayne was drawn inside out of curiosity over the tavern’s name. Flardin knew Blasto from a previous adventure & introduced him to Holly. Blasto wanted to take his sis on an adventure. He & Flardin were leaning toward the recently discovered Pavane undercity but Holly demurred, citing her greater effectiveness in nature, above ground. Wayne, who had been casually eavesdropping, leaned toward the trio & said, “Forgive the interruption, but I know a place that might suit everybody’s purposes.” Perceiving Wayne to be a religious man, the half-Orc, half-elf, & dwarf thought the human might be in earnest & invited Wayne to sit & tell his tale. Wayne regaled his audience with his parties’ forays into Stonehell & the riches brought forth, but impressed on the trio that Wayne & company had left The Gates of Hell unexplored. The quartet resolved to go there directly.

Blasto et al. had an uneventful walk to the canyon containing Stonehell Prison. They soon stood in the warming summer air before the curtain wall known as The Gates of Hell. The sun at their backs, generations of graffiti wallpapered the east facing of the massive edifice. The party could see three possible entrances: the main gate & sally point in the center and two through-and-through breaches south & north of the gate.

The PCs spent 30 minutes or so reading the graffiti. Holly, a gifted linguist, observed that Arduinian, orcish, elvish, giant, hobbitish, & many other languages were represented. Of particular interest to the PCs were an Arduinian scrawl that vaguely pointed to a stash of gems & hobbitish directions to “the cleric’s bite.” As Wayne jotted down the directions on the party’s map, he commented, “Hmmm! Those directions sound familiar…” Indeed, the party had been to the very room housing the cleric’s bite in Session 4 but had failed to find it. The cleric’s bite is a single tooth that once belonged to a powerful priest.

The PCs opted to climb the rubble in the northern breach to reach the top of the curtain wall. There, they spied two wooden trap doors leading downward to the second story of The Gates of Hell. They explored five rooms, two of which were former barracks, two common areas, and a gallery full of murder-holes. Holly managed to enrage a nest of wasps, forcing her and her mates to retreat to the roof to avoid being swarmed. In another room, the gang surprised a trio of sleeping stirges. Ms. Morningwood took initiative & cast speak with animals on the stirges & learned that “mannish”, dangerous creatures lurked on the ground floor. The party also recovered a pouch of gold sovereigns & a citrine gem from the dessicated corpse of a finely dressed woman.

Returning to the wasp room, Holly cast animal friendship on the wasps, allowing the party to recover a satchel of hand tools & a cask of wine without injury. At this, the adventurers decided to sell their loot in town & gear up, as they had neglected some important gear such as rope, spikes, & extra containers.

Flardin (played by new-schooler Tim) cleverly used oil to grease the hinges of doors that even Blasto couldn't force open.

Wayne successfully navigated a rotten section of flooring by laying prone & wriggling across the way.

Blasto announced that he was henceforth to be called “Blasto Slamo the Chivalrous” because his mates always put him on door duty.

Experience was in the neighborhood of 300 a pop except for Flardin, who played it too safe & netted a paltry 100 XP or thereabouts. Despite the modest yield of their excursion, the party (and players) were pretty happy with their teamwork & few, minor injuries.

The following week, Flardin sought more herbs & rare earths, & managed to make an elixir of lock picking & two invisibility elixirs. The dwarf is going to hawk them for a pretty penny because Sneakus, or Thieves’ Frolic is on 7. Kos, just seven days out.

Wayne visited Coal the black bear & resumed working with Surprise the mountain lion, whom Wayne had started befriending a week previous. Surprise lives across the canyon from Coal.

Wayne & Flardin interact some during the downtime, Wayne haltingly proselytizing on Favora’s behalf, Flardin enlisting Wayne as a Guinea pig for the dwarf’s alchemical experiments.

The next session is on July 2.

We had Session 5 of Arduous Adventures on June 25. I am writing the play report and results of between-session activities right now. I'll post as soon as I can.

Greetings, all. Does anybody know whether the country of Tharkala was covered in the World Book of Khaas? If so, what is the page count like for that country? Thanks.

I am back from holiday & found most of my players busy this weekend. I did manage to catch up with Skip, who plays Connor McGill, Blasto Slamo, & (yet to be fielded) Holly Morningwood. So we played out McGill's downtime between sessions 004 and 005 (hence Session 004I for intermission).

McGill cashed in a bunch of jewelry & went to the Colege of Mage's in Pavane to train to level 3 as a magic user. In lieu of payment in cash, McGill traded notes on the spells that he brought to Khaas from Earth (from the Lamentations of the Flame Princess game) and the College found them suitably more powerful than the Arduinian versions that they agreed to train McGill for the right to copy his spells. They agreed & after two weeks, McGill became a conjurer in the College. He also learned the Lamentations spell "Summon".

Well, shoot a monkey! The trollborn, demoniac fighter Grarl is going to assume NPC status - his player moves to Myanmar next week! :-(

Campaign: Arduous Adventures in the Kingdom of Arduin
Rule Sets: AD&D 1e - PHB, DMG, MMI&2, UA; Arduin Trilogy & Vols. IV & V for additional classes, races, special abilities, & gear.
Setting: Kingdom of Arduin & Stonehell Megadungeon
The Crew:
Skip: Connor McGill, a dual-class human F1/M-U 2 by way of Earth and henchman human F1 Günther.

Adam: Grarl, trollborn F1 with demoniac ancestry. Comes from a city well north of Arduin.

Tim: Wayne, a human C1, and Coal the black bear.

Aaron: Fljörn, a trollborn barbarian 1, who was born & raised in a desert tribe but spent time in the north by the sea.

Mark: Max Sharpe, a human witch hunter 1. Max is a teenage cadet with the Purity Scouts, an organization devoted to ridding Arduin of evil. Think Boy Scouts gone militant.

Matthew (cameo in absentia): Draxel, an elven circus performer-turned assassin.

Session 4 Recap

Our fourth session occurred on May, 20, 2017 - 23rd Torvaen in game time. We last saw this group in the middle afternoon within Stonehell Dungeon, having just routed a small gang of orcs (see Recap of Session 2).

Max Sharpe & Fljörn have been adrift, so to speak, in the Kingdom of Arduin for a season. With the arrival of spring, they coincidentally both kicked up their heels on what seemed like an Arduinian frontier: the Kings Rest Inn near the base of the Scimitar Hills. Hearing tales of the latest group of adventurers to have entered the former prison known as Stonehell & returned alive with modest booty for but a few hours’ exploration, Max & Fljörn met on the road from the inn to Stonehell.

“The Purity Code says it’s always safer to go by twos than to venture forth as but a lone strand,” proclaimed Max in his adolescent falsetto.

“Okay,” the trollborn replied, “Maybe we should go to this dungeon together.”

“I sure hope we can join the adventurers that just went in there!”

The two adventurers found their way to Stonehell’s main entrance with no incident. Once inside, the duo saw clear signs of a recent struggle: blood on the floor, scuffs in the subterranean grit, and a dusty smear where a door had been opened. Fljörn & Max opted for the door. Keeping east and south, the explorers encountered Snorri Broadshoulders & his architectural expedition (see Session 2). The dwarves were all too happy to point the dubious duo in the direction of the larger adventuring group. Max & Fljörn caught up with Wayne, Grarl, McGill, Günther, & Coal in the orcs’ common room just after the goblinoids had been routed.

The more experienced delvers were cleaning their weapons & catching their breath when the kid and trollborn walked into the room. The whole lot introduced themselves. The two trollborn warriors were eyed one another.

“I am Grarl, the trollborn fighter!” Grarl announced.

Fljörn replied, “I too am trollborn! I am called Fljörn the Barbarian!”

Max announced that he was come to rid Stonehell of evil.

McGill went to introduce Draxel the circus-elf. “Hey, where’s Draxel?!” Everyone shrugged. Grarl checked his pockets. “It sort of figures that the rogue would just up and disappear…”

The two groups resolved to join forces and to start with finding the Orc captain & his loot. They arrayed themselves with archers trained on the door & the others ready to back them up. Grarl, the strongest, tried the inward-opening door. He shoved it inward easily, but only about 4 inches, for the door had hit a large bed.

Seeing the obstruction, Wayne grabbed some meat from his pack, shoved it under Coal’s nose, then tossed it into the room. Coal bounded forward, shoving Grarl, the door, & the bed aside in his eagerness to obtain the morsel. The party was surprised to see a large Orc crouched on all fours on the floor. The globlinoid looked back at the bear, then up to the ceiling, and finally at the party. The Orc captain cursed and held his arms up in surrender.

Max tied up the Orc while the others searched the room & debated what to do with their prisoner. Fljörn concentrated on detecting magic inside the orc’s bedchamber & found that a battle axe leaning against the wall radiated magic. The barbarian snatched the axe and began slamming the weapon against the floor. Amidst this cacophony, Grarl leaned over the Orc and removed his golden armband. While thus occupied, Max employed his detect evil ability. He obtained an evil reading from Grarl as his outstretched palms passed over the trollborn & Orc, but misinterpreted the reading as coming only from the Orc.

After many minutes of bludgeoning the floor, Grarl got up and told Fljörn that he should give over the axe before the racket attracts every souls in Stonehell. “Oh, right. You’re obviously the brains of this outfit!” Fljörn said and handed the battle axe to Grarl.

The party then debated what to do with the captain. Nobody spoke orcish, nor the goblinoid Arduinian, so all agreed that the Orc was useless as an information source. “Maybe we can use it to detect traps!” Max volunteered to put the Orc out its misery but had a crisis of conscience of such magnitude that Fljörn brought his two-handed sword down on the orc’s head. Afterward, the party secured the door and made camp in the captain’s room. Wayne & McGill memorized new spells after a four-hour rest.

The adventurers then proceeded westward along a passage emanating from the southwest corner of the orcish common room. Their passage carried on through a rhomboid room occupied by two human statues in armor pointing at one another. Between the statues lay an apparently deceased Orc, its hair standing on end. Discussion about how to proceed ensued. During the conversation, Wayne decided to walk on through to the other side of the room. Lightning crackled from the forefingers of the statues, coursing through Wayne's body as he skipped ahead. Once out of range, the cleric stood vacant-eyed while his mates looked on in shock. “It’s okay, guys - it only hurts a little.”

Fljörn decided the best way to disable the trap was to strike it at the elbow with his Zweihänder. The barbarian’s mighty hew broke the stone arm at the elbow but also snapped off the tip of the sword. To foil the second statue, Max concocted a plan wherein his rope was knotted around the statue & pulled by Wayne, McGill, & Grarl, toppling it.

The group next mapped a route that led back from whence they’d come, then returned to the new passage and proceeded further west. Soon they noted a passage 20 feet long that ended in a wall marked by a glyph. Fljörn immediately walked to the glyph, setting off a fire trap. Touching the glyph, Fljörn disappeared.

While his mates were crossing the fire trap, the barbarian found himself in a study crowded with star charts, alembics, paper, and a heavy book. Fljörn examined the book, which smacked of arcane devilry to the superstitious trollborn. What else to do but smash? Luckily for McGill the magic-user, everyone arrived in time to salvage half the spellbook. After cleverly navigating the trap on their way out, the party resolved to go back to Pavane & plot their next move in safety.

Grarl and McGill earned the lion’s share of XP this session for taking possession of the magic items. McGill is now eligible to train for level 3 magic-user.

I like the contrasting descriptions of Arduin.

In some of Hargrave's writings, Arduin is a multiracial, multi-cultural tolerant society of bunnies and butterflies. Hobbits and Trolls living togeather without mass hysteria.

In other places, it sounds like "fantasy fucking Vietnam". Only worse, with strong racial hatred between super-warriors, cannibal bars and grills in the heart of the Capitol, a place where nobody dares go out at night, and heidious dragon eating monsters stalk the countryside.
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