Friday, July 26, 2013

10 Random Questions, and a short HMS Apollyon Play Report

Random Wizard*, a fellow who thinks a lot about systems and game history posted 10 questions.  They are today's old D&D blog post of choice - so below are the answers for HMS Apollyon, and the questions in general.

(1). Race (Elf, Dwarf, Halfling) as a class? Yes or no?
Generally I like race as class - it makes race a distinctive choice and emphasizes the rareness of and stagnant cultures of Demi-humans in the world.  I don't use Elves Dwarves and Halflings on the Apollyon - rather Froglings (Halfingish MU/TH, Passengers (devil tainted MU/F), Flying Monkeys (F/TH), Merrowmen (Th or F or MU depending on stats).  Ultimately there are also dwarf analogues as well on the vessel, but they haven't been 'unlocked' yet.

(2). Do demi-humans have souls?
Sure, well some passengers likely had their souls sold at birth by their power hungry families, but otherwise of course.

(3). Ascending or descending armor class?
Descending, but only out of habit.

(4). Demi-human level limits?
10 I think - but I would like to impose a level limit of around 10 on everyone. Maybe 10 +1 per prime requisite bonus (Max 13).

(5). Should thief be a class?
Well thief as written is kind of silly, but specialists are key I think - most adventurers aren't fighters or wizards.  Most are some sort of skilled skulker and jack of all trades.  I want my thief/specialist class to represent a huge variety of skills though: Safe crackers, Animal Handlers, Archers, Assassins, Hunters, Academics, Doctors, Con Artist Preachers, Skirmishers, and even Martial Artists. 

(6). Do characters get non-weapon skills?
Yes, see above.  It's hard to balance, but I like PC to feel different and have strange proficiencies as they level. I want to change from apoint buy system to something more organic, but haven't gotten it all written down yet.

(7). Are magic-users more powerful than fighters (and, if yes, what level do they take the lead)? Depends on the player, depends on the Fighter, depends on the enemy.  I don't worry about power much.

(8). Do you use alignment languages?
 No, everything talks common - even the undead.  I love factions, and digging about on the sheet to see who speaks Sasquatch is boring.  I like social interaction with monsters - even if they mostly shout "I'm gonna eat your eyes!".

(9). XP for gold, or XP for objectives (thieves disarming traps, etc...)?
 XP for Gold, XP for Exploration, XP for player decided objectives

(10). Which is the best edition; ODD, Holmes, Moldvay, Mentzer, Rules Cyclopedia, 1E ADD, 2E ADD, 3E ADD, 4E ADD, Next ?
I use B/X via Labyrinth Lord mostly - quite fond of Little Brown Book D&D, and will convert Apollyon to that someday.  It's not important though - I think the system matters, but only so far as it determines the feel of a game.  Whatever system I'm using I have modded it a fair bit.

PLAY REPORT! HMS APOLLYON - Higher Level Campaign Session 1.
A party of seasoned adventurers decided to again brave the tangled gangways and vaults of the great vessel's stern.

Semm, fighting priest of Lyris
Quartle, mutated frogling sorcerer (with his loyal water elemental Skeetum)
Charlie Ogg, tattooed magsman
Fist of Grok, renaissance orc (formerly elf)
Mister Mister, numismatic foreigner
Best Haunted Armor I could find

Following a map provided by Charlie Ogg's organization (the possibly revolutionary Krab Brother's mafia) the adventurers obtain passage through much of the Sigil Maze behind the fortress of the Marines (The HMS Apollyon's almost defunct order of quasi-religious knight-like protectors).  The map suggests heading Northwest to find a hidden entrance to an ancient (an possibly unplundered arsenal), but the marine patrol will lead the adventurer's no further than an ancient riveted iron hatch.   Beyond the hatch is a series of tombs.  A  crystal clear pool is tested with a coin, then almost poisons Mister Mister as he reaches after the coin, only to be purified by Quartle's water elemental companion.

Beyond the pool are tombs - niches in the walls, sarcophagi both free standing and supine and even piles of bones.  Almost all the male dead are clad in white ceramic armor, with patterns like a china plate, but seem unmoving and still.  Other (female) mummies wear brown wrappings and long brown robes.  Quartle deduces correctly that this is a Marine tomb complex - filled with honored and holy dead marines, and their female auxiliary, the Umber Brides (marine widows and orphans who are highly feared assassins).

A trail of footprints in the still dust leads through a broken wall and into a smashed tomb, where ceramic armor lies shattered amongst dismembered and burnt mummified corpse bits.  Port from the broken tomb is a hall of four doors.

The Northern most door is picked easily by Ogg to reveal a tomb, where the sarcophagi begin to shift almost instantly open and a form made of hanging fire coalesces above the center tomb.  Dead scavengers (likely from an aborted expedition by the still missing Rangvar the Crowbar) are scattered about.  Fist banters with the fiery geist that materializes over the central carved alabaster tomb.  The creature appears to be a small withered corpse, suspended in the center of a suit of antique looking boiler mail - armor made completely from fire. The dead refuse to let the party pass without battle, so the adventurers close the door and head South.

To the south they find a chilled and misty tomb almost identical to that of the fire giest, and decide to avoid it. Beyond another Southern door (bronze and sculpted with a romantic scene) is a despoiled double tomb.  A rubble filled hole in the Northwest corner shows where looters (or worse necromancers) dug into the tomb.  Before it can be explored fully, Ogg is cursed by an ash covered skull levitating from the floor - apparently a farewell gift by the tomb robbers.  The tomb is defaced with black graffiti (mostly necromantic symbols and circles) as well as candle stubs around the central tombs.  The adventurers decide to dig out the hole, and soon find it magically sealed.  Fist dispels the magic with the brutal power of Grok, orcish god of slaughter and battle rage, but digging through the rubble is a slow process.

On guard, Semm spots a trio of spectral figures - women in brown robes that float amongst the hall and nearest tomb (the one filled with dismembered bodies) and begin to rearrange the corpses there. The spectres notice Semm and stare him down but continue to go about thier business until the priest retreats back to the party's diggings.

The party has managed to dig almost through the blockage before the brown robed ghosts suddenly appear and one touches Quartle, possessing the wizard.  Unsure how to fight the ghosts (protection from evil fails to stop them) the party keeps digging, and is startled again when Quartle looses a fireball directly at the floor.  Luckily only Fist's hired torchbearer is killed.  Before additional ghost related injury occurs Semm is able to use the power of Lyris to halt the ghosts and they agree to parley with the adventurers.

After extracting a promise to bring the spirits the heart of "plague King - Serkat, the King Scorpian" within six month, the ghosts manage to pressure several magical items from the party in exchange for aid in negotiating passage by the fire geist.

The geist agrees to let the adventurers pass (into the ancient fortress beyond) if they will name a champion to fight him for five rounds.  Semm accepts and with divine protection and great aplomb manages to get the best of the geist in the short exchange of blows.

*I should add Random joined the 2nd Google+ game I played, a trip into some swampy catacombs with Joe the Lawyer's unkillable (though now orcish) triple classed AD&D elf thing "Sir the Fist".  Random played an unfortunate henchmen that was sacrificed to ghoul no. 2 by Bobo the Monkey Zouve.  He's also played in several Apollyon session and a game of ASE - most often as an understated warrior named "Red".


  1. how can I get in to your next HMS Apollyon game. I love the idea of this campaign and have followed your blog for the last year.

    1. Look up the HMS APPOLLYON G+ Game page and join.