To pass the time

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Only a month to go to our next D&D session in the weekend of October 6&7th. So I’d better start working on the reports, or my DM will make up all sorts of nastiness to punish me ingame. And we can’t have that 😉 The Drow world is harsh enough as it is.

To pass the time, here’s a great post on Cracked.com:

It starts with:

D&D, the game that lets you save the maiden, slay a dragon and become a hero; all without leaving your kitchen table.

Just The Facts

  1. Dungeons and Dragons was created by the team of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, and first published in 1974 by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR).
  2. Is credited with being the first modern role playing game, and spawning an entire multibillion dollar industry. If you play WoW, your addiction started in a box in 1974.
  3. Has been the source material for some of the best and worst novels, movies, video games, comic books and cartoons ever produced.
  4. Has a higher nerd to norm ratio of enthusiasts that can be found anywhere outside a Comic Book Convention or high school chess club.

Cracked on Dungeons and Dragons

The world of Dungeons and Dragons is not actually one world at all, but a nearly infinite number of realms and universes, all with spell casters, valiant warriors, and women with the most revealing chain mail bikinis ever imagined by the sordid minds of fourteen year old boys.

The official website describes D&D as “an imaginative, social experience that engages players in a rich fantasy world filled with larger-than-life heroes, deadly monsters, and diverse settings. As a hobby game, D&D is an ongoing activity to which players might devote hours of their time much like a weekly poker game, getting together with friends on a regular basis for weeks, months, or even years.”

And for our group, the D&D fun has been going strong for almost ten years!

Interesting article so far huh? It has much more information on D&D, its history, the dice, how to play, the DM. Go and read Dungeons and Dragons.

In the meantime I’ll be typing like a mad Drow Cleric, so next time you come over to Dungeon DuTchess, you can read more about our adventures in The Underdark.

Charicide

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As soon as the show is over, the Xaniqos siblings pick up their gear and go outside. When they see Charicide leave the Hall of Shadows, they follow her and the troll to the Silk Curtain. The streets are crowded with mostly Drow nobles, but there are also a couple of non-Drow and a few Duergar. Such a contrast with their own district.

The Silk Curtain turns out to be a very big, luxurious house of pleasure, where one can find more than just carnal joys. Again Aleval solders are patrolling the neighborhood. Guttural sounds and cries – either of pain or rapture – fill the air. The four hide their house insignia’s and boldly walk past the two men who are guarding the door. At the top of the stairs is a big white salon, where an albino Drow is entertaining the guests. Spicy aromas, comfortable chairs – the whole scene breathes an air of luxury. On the second floor a hostess approaches. Lilith asks her which offers are currently available in the Silk Curtain, and it seems there are plenty of possibilities; even a surface elf is to be had. The Cleric demands the best private room in stead, so she can decide on her entertainment for the evening in peace, hoping that room will be close to the Bard’s.

A male Drow leads the way to their quarters, upwards, past a lot of rooms. Not many guards are around, and there are only one or two bouncers. He opens the door at the end of a corridor and reveals a big room with table, huge bed, a dancing-or-other pole, brazier, a torture rack, handcuffs and other useful stuff. The window opens onto a balcony. The room in the opposite corridor has probably the same design.

The siblings are going to use a ruse: Lilith is very ‘bored with her two males’ and wants to exchange them for some fresh meat. Silently Phaedra checks out the hallway: only servants and three guards who are enjoying a glass of wine. The Cleric sweeps out of the room into the corridor and boldly walks past the guards, into the adjacent corridor. When a female Drow – whip in hand – approaches Lilith and asks her to lend her the ‘slave’ brothers, the Cleric refuses, declaring she still needs them, and moves on. ‘Maybe later!’

On the other side, the bored looking troll is sitting outside a door, similar to their own. The giant takes up half of the hallway.

I want to speak to your Mistress, Troll. What is your name?

I am Zorg.

Well, Zorg, open that door!

Can’t do that, Mistress, my Mistress will be very displeased with Zorg.

I’m sure your Mistress is very interested once she hears of these two tasty and strong males.

Though the giant hesitates, Lilith can be very convincing and manages to sway the troll. When Zorg knocks on the door several times, it opens and a melodious voice shouts ‘I told  you I do not want to be disturbed!’ A male Drow slave is bound to the pole, handcuffed. The Cleric uses her diplomatic skills and offers Alvra in exchange for the already used and drugged slave. The Bard assesses the Fighter – strong, with much stamina – and agrees to let him in. The door closes again.

Inside, the woman introduces herself as Ariana. Alvra estimates her as beautiful but deadly, gracious and cunning, not overly muscled. But then her voice sounds again, very sweet and alluring this time, and his attention wavers.

Now, male, you may lay your clothes and gear on the table near the window. You are going to undress for me…

Meanwhile the others are still outside, with a giant troll in front of the door. Lilith tries to talk Zorg into getting a drink at the bar – he must feel very thirsty and hungry? – but it won’t work. Next she pretends to hear his mistress in distress, but the troll is stubborn and stands his ground. He is not going to disturb the Bard again. When Lilith tries to put a blinding spell on the troll and fails, the giant gets suspicious.

What are you doing?

I’m trying to enhance your hearing, you deaf troll! Your Mistress seems to be in danger.

Zorg would hear more if you stupid woman would not talk so much!

Outraged, Lilith lashes out at the giant, who stumbles backwards and falls straight through the door. The Xaniqos follow it into the room and find their brother, dancing and slowly undressing. He’s in a total trance, oblivious to what is happening.

A massive fight erupts. Phaedra tumbles past the troll – getting hit in the process – and slashes at the Bard. Charicide counterattacks and casts an enchantment on the Scout, so Phaedra feels the uncontrollable urge to giggle and bursts out laughing, unable to stop. The Wizard, still in the hallway with his Cleric sister, evokes a puddle of slime underneath Zorg’s feet and the massive beast drops down. It won’t stay down for very long though. The Cleric unleashes a spell that negates Charicide’s magic, so Alvra stops dancing and the Scout can control her laughter. Shaking his head, the Fighter finally comes to his senses. He snatches a javelin from the table and aims it at the Bard. It narrowly misses. Suddenly faced by an angry Scout and a deadly Fighter, Charicide’s magic flares again and four more illusionary Bards appear around her.

Jharrath is battling the troll with a ray of flame, which seems to do much damage. When the Wizard subsequently fails to summon a monster to help them out, the troll regenerates and attacks Lilith with full force. She throws a bottle of acid in the giant’s face and steps back. Jharrath’s second try is successful and soon Zorg is surrounded by three creatures, who keep it busy.

An eerie sound fills the room – Charicide has gotten her hands on her lute – and again Alvra falls for her spell. He sits down dreamily and sways to the music. Phaedra keeps a clear head this time and slashes at the five ‘Bards’. She manages to destroy three illusions, while Lilith heals herself and then fires bolts at the troll. Jharrath summons two more elementals to try and take the troll out.

The Bard screams at Zorg to come and help her, but the giant is too busy defending itself. She changes her song to encourage the troll, causing the spell on Alvra to fail. Together the Wizard’s creatures manage to kill the troll and Jharrath finishes it off for good with Kelgore’s fire bolt. No more regenerating for this troll!

Lilith climbs over the carcass and gets out her flail. Alvra – his wits once again restored – activates his piwafwi, jumps on the bed and attacks the Bard from behind; he destroys the last fake image. But the Bard is not defeated yet and casts a spell, after which the brazier sparkles into huge fireworks: colored lights fill the air. The Fighter jumps off the bed and continues his fight, blinded. Charicide is surprised and steps back, giving the Scout the opportunity to lash out. Finally she kills the Drow.

Phaedra also slices the throat of the drugged Drow, who is still tied to the pole, bars the door, and then the Xaniqos escape from the balcony. They disappear into the night and manage to leave the city without being recognized.

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>>  what came before

The Hall of Shadows

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The Xaniqos gather in the throne room, where the Matron Mother awaits them.

Because of the latest developments, House Godeep is not interested in a collaboration anymore. We have been made a fool of. House Vae is still interested – though they are not well liked – but for it will suffice.

The day has come to strike back against the second House. Take all your gear with you, for you will leave the city immediately. Do not expect to return until things have cooled down. You will act against House Aleval tonight!

Your target is Charicide, a Bard of great renown, who was once part of the family of Aleval. This evening Charicide performs in the Hall of Shadows, a theater in the Ghetto of Performers. Afterwards she will pay a visit to the Silk Curtain, to enjoy the company of men. Take care of her there.

Further instructions will be given to you in Blessed Seahaven, a small Kua-Toas settlement, led by Pliil Seachild. Since – being Drow – we are all honorary Kua-Toas, these creatures will help you. Their demi-god is Blid Dool Poolp. Take the route over the Glimmersea to Dunspeirrin and return overland with an army of lizards in a few weeks.

The siblings prepare themselves for the journey. Lilith hands her sister a bottle of holy water, and together they visit Lolth’s shrine. Platinum and diamonds, worth five thousand gold pieces, are entrusted to the Cleric for negotiations over the riding lizards, plus extra  gold pieces for daily needs. Jharrath has crafted anti-toxin and gives his sisters one potion each.

In the evening they leave for the Halls of Shadows. The buildings in this Ghetto are fancy and lush, it is all decadency – no slums. The old Hall of Shadows was destroyed in the past and the place has been rebuilt into a grand half-circle theater in the typical Drow architecture. The theater slowly slopes down towards the stage and it is crowded with nobles. Aleval Guards patrol the area and the Xaniqos leave their weapons and backpacks in the checkroom.

They are escorted to their seats and watch flashy and magic acrobatics being performed on stage. Next is a mime artist. He is not really that good and the more nervous he gets, the more mistakes he makes. The crowd gets agitated and suddenly a Drow magician stands up, deep in trance. A moment later a dirty filthy demon appears on stage. It grabs a heavy chain that is wrapped around its body and, cheered on by the crowd, crushes the mime artist with its multiple arms. He then devours him. The magician, notwithstanding the clamor that erupts around him, never loses his concentration and sends the demon back to its plane. Bugbears clean up the mess on the suddenly empty stage.

Ten minutes later the curtains open again to reveal a man in flashy – though bit overdone – garments. Meet Shelos, the owner of the amphitheater. He has a ready, cynical tongue. For a Drow, he is even comical. When he announces Charicide, the audience goes wild.

A young Drow female steps out. Dressed in a shimmering cloack she is gorgeous and lithe. Then an ugly troll enters the stage. Next to Charicide, this giant seems extra large. The Bard takes out her 64-stringed lute, called Vazhan-do, and starts playing. A wailing sounds fills the theater. When after a while the music picks up speed, she suddenly draws her rapier and starts cutting the troll, faster and faster, while the music somehow lingers. The giant stands motionless and doesn’t move. Fingers and other body parts are hacked off. Fortunately trolls have the ability to regenerate their limbs (as long as they are not hit by acid or fire). For the next fifteen minutes the audience is captivated, under the spell of the performance of music and fight. When Charicide finally stops, the whole theater erupts in cheers and salvos of applause. This artist is a feast to the eyes: a true performer!

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>>  what came before

The Lizard Rider

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The next day, Phaedra, Jharrath and Lilith are invited into the Matron Mother’s throne room. They are led onto the balcony, which overlooks an arena where three goblins are waiting. Two rows of dummies are situated near the opposite walls. On the other side, their brother Alvra is atop a huge riding lizard, dressed in a brand new shiny piwafwi. Alvra greets the Matron Mother, who nods back. She explains to the others that the Fighter will give them a demonstration of the use of mounts in combat. ‘This might give us an advantage over the other Houses’, Lady Thandysha says, ‘but its usefulness remains to be seen’. Because of the Priestess Wars not many mounts are left; this would be House Xaniqos’ first.

Alvra urges his lizard forward and charges the goblins. The creatures react enthusiastically. Weird, considering their survival chances. The Fighter’s javelin misses the walking fodder in the middle. When the lizard next tries to bite the green creature, it starts to look a bit doubtful. That expression is wiped away when the reptile’s claws rake off its head.

The remaining goblins take up new positions and Alvra takes the opportunity to throw a second javelin. This time he hits and one of the creatures takes a spear in his body. The other humanoid has a big smile on his face, gazes up at the Drow and… attacks his injured fellow goblin!

With one thrust, he kills the other and parades the battle field like he’s the winner. Apparently the creature made a pact with the Drow Fighter. But there can only be one winner, and that is not this goblinoid! Alvra steers his mount towards the beaming goblin and with one swipe of his mighty sword he cleaves the green monster in half. Seems like the deal is off!

Alvra leads his riding lizard towards the balcony. The Lady Thandysha tells her son that he might need more training and further development of his combat tactics, but that overall it was an enjoyable performance.

Well done, Alvra. You have shown me you may spend more time on cavalry. Acquire more of these animals in Dunspeirrin.

Guards, clean up the area, and son, report up here within the hour!

With a swipe of her garb, the Matron Mother leaves the scene.

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>>  what came before

Creepy Creeps

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House Xaniqos has calmed down a bit. Occasionally the Lady Thandysha falls into a fit of rage, but is mostly taking it out on her eldest daughter, Quarra. One morning, the Xaniqos siblings walk into K’yorl, the house wizard, who is dressed in an expensive robe.

I hear Jharrath has had an interesting business proposition in which I’m quite interested. I would advice you to check it out as soon as possible!

Jharrath has been talking to Tylesse, a merchant who trades in potions and alchemy items and ingredients. His supply caravan has been ambushed near a cave complex and the only survivor mentioned a big reptile as culprit. If the drow are able to get the bag with ingredients back and punish the perpetrator, House Xaniqos will get a 30% discount. A good deal.

The four set out into the Underdark and reach the crime scene. A huge cave opens up for them, revealing four entrances. It is silent in the cave, the only sound is water dripping. A perfect environment for lizards, salamanders, small vipers and vermin.

Lilith orders her brother to check out the various entrances. The first and second cave are small, with patches of the ever present fungi. When Alvra is about to enter the third cave, the scout warns him. Clicking sounds indicate the presence of large vermin. In the middle of the large bare cave is a nest with two cockroaches. The stench is overwhelming but the Fighter goes in anyway. Phaedra signals the others to come closer and together – in between several gagging fits – they attack the huge insects. Alvra kills both creatures.

In the last cave the company is faced with a stream that leads to the right, with a smaller tunnel on the left. More clicking sounds resonate against the walls. The Cleric tells her Wizard brother to summon an elemental and check out the water. After its appearance, Phaedra follows close on the summoned creature’s heels. The elemental kills the approaching cockroach in two massive blows and the company moves forward. They all wade into the tunnel, past the insect’s carcass, towards the fourth beast. With magic missiles, Kellgore’s firebolt and heavy pummeling, they manage to slay the cockroach. Will there never be an end to this vermin? Another big beetle scuttles close and again it is Alvra who slashes it to smithereens. Lilith, not displeased with her brother’s performance, heals most of the Fighter’s wounds.

Down the tunnel, in a relatively dry part of the cave, they find rotting material, some bones, a purse filled with gold and two tanglefoot bags. The Cleric gives one of the bags to Alvra. A pool of water lies stagnant in the center of the cave. When Lilith looks closer, she sees movement on the surface, but assumes it is caused by the moisture that is dripping down the walls.

Then they discover five relatively fresh kobold skulls and a very fresh goblin head. A masterwork chainmail lies close, flanked by a magical sword. Three skulls are arranged into a shrine; Lilith doesn’t know any religion that uses this kind of display. Suddenly Phaedra warns her siblings of a new threat: a predator sound arises from the water. A large crablike insect emerges from the pool, with dark hungry eyes, mandibles and tentacles, quivering around the beast’s maw. It is a very fast moving crustacean, that clicks its two big pincers.

The beast tries to grapple Jharrath and the Wizard activates a grease spell and attempts to  free himself, but the crustacean wraps his tentacles around him, totally paralyzing Jharrath. The same fate awaits the Cleric. Phaedra manages to chop off one of the tentacles – her brother drops to the ground – but then gets grabbed by the beast herself. Before it can act any further, Alvra kills the monster with a huge hit. Phaedra lands gracefully and checks on her brother and sister. Both are not moving, Jharrath on the verge of death. When he comes by, they offer him a healing potion. Soon after, Lilith also gains consciousness.

Behind the pile of skulls, they find a big bag with ingredients and several potions. Jharrath confirms it is the stuff they were searching for and starts taking tiny samples from the ingredients. Phaedra scolds him and tells him to put them back.

Bloodied and injured, they make their way back to the city and search for merchant Tylesse at the market. The nobles stare at the group and the Cleric glares back. Merchant Tylesse is impressed and tells them she is in debt of House Xaniqos. They have earned their 30% discount on all wares and receive two potions of holy water and two bottles of accid. Then the siblings head back to the mansion, exhausted and filthy. The masterwork chainmail and magic short sword are donated to the armory, though the Cleric keeps the gold pieces. Jharrath finds out that the beast was a Chuul, a predator that has the custom to keep trophies – if nothing else can be found, they will keep the skulls of their victims.

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>>  what came before