02 April 2021

grodog's post-GaryCon-XIII Repose - Part 1

Yet-again, I had a wonderful time at GaryCon this year.   Here's the first part of my post-convention recap, working off of my schedule for GaryCon XIII!

Wednesday, 24 March

In our usual fashion, members of the Legio V gathered on Wedsnesday night for our pre-con get-together, which was a fun time as always.  We didn't game this year, just hung out and caught up on life, the universe, and everything.

If you're not familiar with the Legio V, here's some info:

The Lake Geneva Legio V began as a handful of gamers who have attended Gary Con since its inception. We have grown over the past few years to include like-minded individuals united by a respect of Gary Gygax and his legacy. We are the dedicated attendees who love Gary Con for the camaraderie it establishes, the Game Masters who run games from across the decades, and the committed gamers who spend these four days in a fervor of dice rolling and old school good times.

Although events run as LEGIO V Presents will use a variety of rule systems, our focus is on games authored by Gary and his contemporaries as well as those systems whose designers pay homage to these pioneers.

Thursday and Friday mornings - grodog's Castle Greyhawk: 
Escape from Level 14

Over Thursday and Friday I ran two sets of players through levels from my version of Castle Greyhawk.  Both opted to attempt to get away from Level 14, which I first ran at the North Texas RPG Con #1 in 2009, and subsequently at GaryCons #2 (2010), with reprises at NTX and GaryCon #10 in 2018.  The scenario premise is: 


Escape From Castle Greyhawk – Player Background

 You are veteran explorers of Castle Greyhawk.  You have worked as a team over the past two years to pursue, plumb, and plunder the depths of the Castle, looting it of treasures and raining doom upon its inhabitants. 

Several days of torrential rain finally let up last night, so today you immediately entered the Castle dungeons, to slay a pair of mated pyrohydras that you discovered on one of your more-recent expeditions to level 10.  Your plan was to follow your normal “wet route” through the dungeons: 

  • enter the ruins through the breached southern gates
  • locate the mobile well in the western bailey, and descend into dungeon level 2
  • use the nearby teleporter to move across level 2, and take the northern stair to level 3
  • go to the central elevator, and take it down to level 8
  • slide down the chute-stair into one of the level 9s
  • descend to level 10 from the secret stairwell, move to the lair of the pyrohydras, kill them, and take their stuff
You would normally have used the long passage from the fens, but with the recent storms, this entrance and the level it leads to are sure to be flooded.  However, things went awry on level 8:  one of the stairwells on the level, that lead to the chute, deposited you into unfamiliar territory, and disappeared leaving a blank wall for your return path.  That is where you are now.

The Thursday crew chose to combine both of my offerings so it our session became "Kill the Holaki which has escaped from the Four Way Hub Level to Level 14" (or something like that).  They did manage to kill the dreaded Holaki, a fearsome creature created by Erol Otus as part of an art commission for members of the Acaeum:

The Holaki - by Erol Otus
The Holaki - by Erol Otus

In addition to the Holaki, the Thursday crew battled with some new monsters created by my 13-year-old son Henry---a pack of Mind Hounds lead by a Mind Spider.  Henry wasn't expecting to battle these--I slipped them into the adventure to playtest them a bit since I knew he'd be playing---and they almost got away with kidnapping some of the PCs (but to what end?....). 

Escape from Level 14 - and - Kill the Holaki,
player map by Henry Grohe


Henry created both creatures as part of his The Fortress of Alexander 'zine project for a class at school, and our older son Ethan illustrated them:

The Mind Spider - created by Henry Grohe, illustrated by Ethan Grohe
The Mind Spider - created by Henry Grohe,
illustrated by Ethan Grohe

Expect to hear more about Henry's zine as he works over the summer to expand it from a school assignment for publication.

The Friday crew explored in a different direction, so they didn't encounter the Holaki or Mind Spider, but they did encounter a pair of Fire Weirds from The Twisting Stair #3, who proved a vexing foe.  They were also the first players to discover the Gaming Parlor on the level, where their PCs were able to enjoy Boot Hill, Chainmail, The Awful Green Things from Outer Space, and other classic TSR board games.  (In true grogardly fashion, they opted to battle orcs vs. dwarves at The Battle of Five Armies between the arms of the Lonely Mountain, using Chainmail).  

In that chamber they also found a Deck of Many Things, which resulted in several interesting conclusions for the PCs:

  • Dex's ranger PC drew first, and drew two card with good results on each
  • Julian's fighter Preson also drew twice, but also drew The Fool as his second card, which permitted him a third draw
  • Rich's dwarf F/T Archie Rubblesworth drew thrice---twice with good results, but the final pull drew the infernal attentions of Asmodeus himself!
  • Kevin's bard Joanie Blackheart drew only once, but was whisked away to Acheron to fight Hextor in personal combat!
  • Robert's druid, Trebor, also drew twice:  he gained three wishes, once of which he used to bring all of the PCs back to the City of Greyhawk (including the earlier-slain wizard Silvermane, who spontaneously combusted in battle with the fire weirds); his second draw, however, forced him to change alignment or to be judged---he refused to change, so he ended the session upon the scales of the Cosmic Balance, awaiting the judgment of The Grey Lords!

I used the H. R. Giger tarot for the deck, which set a suitably ominous tone ;)

Thursday, 25 March

Thursday night, I played in Rich Frank's "Lost Temple of Set" dungeon, where we successfully threaded the needle of a very large dungeon level to find and recover the fabled Eye of Horus:

This adventure has been designed to run as a pickup game run for member of LEGIO V, on the Thursday night of Gary Con XIII. Pre-gen characters are provided by Keith Sloan, and are identical to those used in his Sea Lords games, run at past Gary Cons.

Premise:  The party has traveled through a jungle to locate an ancient and forgotten Temple of the God, Set. Set has not been worshipped in any notable or public way in centuries, most of the old temples having been thrown down and replaced with temples to other Gods. However, Set, being a major God, has been able to maintain a cult of worshippers despite being forced out of the consciousness of most of the population in this world.

The motivation for the characters is to find the fabled Eye of Horus, a large piece of jade in the shape of a pointed oval, with the symbol of the Eye of Horus carved into it, and inlaid with gold. Among the purported properties of the Eye is the ability to roll back time and view what happened in the area the Eye is currently placed. (More on this in the description of the Eye of Horus at the end of this document.) Indeed, the characters have traveled here to find the Eye, as part of a larger investigation to find who/what abducted the daughter of a great King of the Realm.

We had a good time digging around in the ruined pyramid atop Rich's dungeon level, and fought several fearsome creatures within (that we learned afterward were Minions of Set from D&DG).  

A fortuitous series of discovered secret doors led us straight to the EHP and his treasure horde, including the Eye of Horus!:

Rich Franks' Temple of Set - player map by Allan Grohe
Rich Franks' Temple of Set -
player map by Allan Grohe

Rich Franks' Temple of Set - player notes by Allan Grohe
Rich Franks' Temple of Set -
player notes by Allan Grohe

My map shows about 1/50th of the level that Rich designed for our delve, so we got very lucky in our exploration and secret-door-detection rolls!

Notable quotations from the night's revelries:

  • "We're up to 0.8 Jon now"---Jon was having internet connectivity issues
  • Set slave kabobs - 50 deep!
  • "Sometimes counter clockwise is good"
  • Michael earned the "most valueable elf" award---he was also the only elf PC ;)


Friday, 26 March 

Friday night, I played in Carlos Lising's livestreams Twitch game, "The Nine."  This aired on the GaryConGreyhawk channel instead of Carlos' regular caslEntertainment channel (which also has a YouTube archive as well).  We didn't experience any technical difficulties, and you can watch the replay of our game session with Carlos, as well as pre-order a copy of The Nine, which is scheduled to release in May. 

I had a wonderful time exploring Carlos 600 CY version of the Flanaess, and role-playing through the grim-and-gritty level 1 scenario with my fellow players:

The Great Kingdom once stood as a testimony to the heights which mannish civilization could aspire. A place of magic and miracles where law and order held sway, a proud army ensured its peace and defended its common folk against the terrors beyond its borders. But no more. After decades of corrosion from within, nightmarish horrors now stalk the Great Kingdom, eager to prey upon those that formed the soul of this once-mighty nation. With its potent military shattered, few exist to defend these innocents outside small pockets that have managed to remain intact through the harrows that saw all they once held dear fall to ruin.

One of these groups is the 9th Division of the Sign of the Crimson Wyvern.

And this is their tale.

The PCs consisted of:

  • Jono (played by Dave), a young male human Fighter 1 in charge of our motley crew---all out on our first mission
  • Katin (played by Gregory), a female human Fighter 1, and Jono's (older?) sister, much more cautious than her brother
  • Gully (played by Emily, Dave's wife), a female halfling Thief 1; she took the lead once we arrived at Caldera's Burrow, where a large group of halflings may have been enslaved or killed by humanoids
  • Lovian (played by Jeremy), a male elven Magic-User 1 missing his left arm from the elbow downward; the hand is replaced by Bigby's Metallic Gauntlet, but the gauntlet floats mid-air, unattached to the arm that guides it....
  • Lord Morrow (played by Bill), a male human 0-level Cavalier of Hextor (he may have been a 0-level Paladin, not sure)
  • Baran Kolvigg (played by me), a male Flan human Cleric 1 of Pelor; I've not played a PC worshipper of Pelor before, so it was fun to explore the sun god through Baran's eyes

Baran Kolvigg - The Nine pregen PC
Baran Kolvigg - The Nine pregen PC


Our PCs spent 4 days on the road south from Bulwark Keep, and on the way to Caldera's Burrow encountered a creepy female necromancer of Nerull who had animated a large group of halfling skeletons to tend a field---but what exactly they were sowing, we don't know....  We spent the last hour or so of the session exploring the humanoid-occupied halfling burrows, and managed to kill an orcish witchdoctor (perhaps?), turn his halfling skeleton bodyguards, and slay a few orcs as well---all without any of our hapless PCs being slain!

We decided to continue the game after the convention, so you'll be able to follow-along with our exploits, fumbles, and likely-demises in 4K Technicolor, at some point ;)

More to come soon, in part two!