NIGHTWICK ABBEY: The Purple Eater of People Session 73 WAR!

Previously...Level 4!

Blossom (Rogue 5)
Mayfly (Magician 4)
Mechtilde (Fighter 4)
Yevegniy the Coward (Cleric 4)
Verinka (Changeling 3)
Cherwe (Cleric 3)
Liminal Space (Changeling 3)
Krupe (Cleric 1)
Bluegum Lemony Spice (Changeling 1)


Despite last week's discovery of yet another level of the dread Abbey's gullet, the party turns its attention to more earthly matters. South of Nightwick, bandits and pagan forces have combined to harry and pillage the towns along the southern road to Blackleg. Lord Ekard recently suffered defeat there and is licking his wounds. Additionally, the forces of Castle Blackleg emerged to hold the line and throw out Lord Ekard's weak ally.

Hearing about all this, the party previously traveled north back to Lychgate to secure mercenary forces in order to ride south and once again save the Dark Country from lawlessness... or at least lawlessness not originating from the party's own actions. Lawlessness such as opening and reading a lord's sealed letter outlining said bandit problem.


DAY ONE: The party embeds with the Corby Calvary (Black Sheild) in Nightwick Village (1507; the titular Nightwick Abbey is 1607) and ride south to meet with the forces of Netta of Blackleg in 1113 lead by her sister Nethe

Mayfly is almost thrown from his horse, Crow. An ill-omen.

DAY TWO: The party continues to make good time traveling south.

At midday the sortie comes across a strange sight on the road: a Bogdani man is being surrounded and violently questioned by a group of elves (PC NOTE: Think as in North Pole not Tolkien). Liminal steps forward to interpret as neither group understands the other.

Elves: "He is a man in violation of our home! He deserves to be flogged!!"

Bogdani: "I don't understand what they want?!"

Liminal to the man: "Don't worry, you'll be safe as long as you cough up a lot of money"

Bogdani: "I...I don't have any money, but I do know about the trap being laid for Blackleg!"

Liminal to the elves: "Oh we can take it from here. This man will be flogged. Repeatedly."

The party learns that the forces of the bandit Yim Yimsely have laid a trap for Nethe of Blackleg in the Fog-Bound Forest in the form of a false camp. It is decided to dispatch our thief and changelings to recon the supposed bandit camp in 1409 and send Mectild and Cherwe on a forced ride south to warn Nethe's forces. Mayfly is left with the Corbies.

As the sun dips low, Mectilde and Cherwe ride into the Blackleg camp and warn them of the trap. Blackleg agrees to hold until the Corbies arrive. Nethe, out of frustration, proceeds to wail on a tree with her two-handed sword.

Nethe of Blackleg
(who will be fixed by Mechtilde)

Meanwhile, the changeling sortie arrives to find at least one of the bandit camp is only lightly guarded. They quickly sleep the guards and ransack the place recovering 200GP, 800SP, a silver rod, a crown, and 3 amaythest gems. And then slit the guards' throats in their spell-induced sleep as non-evil people do and make off into the night to meet up further south.

A night envelopes the land, Mayfly makes walks the parameter of the Corbie. He comes upon shoe prints forming on the frosted ground. Invisible intruders! Mayfly quietly follows the foot prints (DEX 16) and when they stop- he immediately casts web snaring the would-be saboteur. Mayfly raises the alarm and the camp only loses a few tents to fire. Unfortunately due to some miss handling by the guards the invisible intruder slips away.

DAY THREE- A PLAN: All allied forces gather together and form a war council. As it currently stands, the Corbies Calvary, the Blackleg Calvary, and the PCs form "the good guys", while Yim's Company, Yimsely's Company, The Pagan Liberation Front and a Bogdani Band form "the bad guys". Not exciting odds.

However, scouts return word that a Bogdani Band has been spotted moving south from Frogguts. Given that the party did clear the tomb of Father Winter and we might be able to fork over the crown of Bogdani make-- maybe these forces will flip? 

Liminal rides forth to meet the Bogdani Band and the minute the crown is offered up a deal is struck. 

[PC NOTE: Wait...too easy. Maybe we should have investigated that crown a little more. But that is a problem for future us. ]

Apparently, the "Black" Bogdani are those who resisted the rule of the Relmish Kings (aka Lychgate). The "Red" Bogdani are those who have more integrated in Relmish society in the Dark Country.

So basically the party has just handed over a uniting symbol for the "Black" Bogdani potentially against Lychgate who the party fight's for so they will flip sides and fight with us against Yim Yimsley's Company who are against Lychgate.

[PC NOTE: YOLOjimbo]

The plan is revised. The party will hide itself in the Black Bogdani Company (star on black field) which take a right flank position as normal in Yim's (green man) trap. Corbies (solid black field) will take the left flank and Nethe (yellow diamond, triskelion) will "fall" into the trap. However, as the battle commences, the Black Bogdani will attack Yimsley's Company (red snake) and press into the Liberation Front's Flank (red deer) where all "good guy" forces will converge.

DAY FOUR- BATTLE!: Nethe of Blackleg is more than willing to walk into the heart of battle and wet her sword on the sap of humans, pagans, and whatever else can "bleeds" or at least be cloven in two. 

[PC NOTE: Alright, as noted, this time Miranda decided to try out The War Machine which is a set of rules I think found in later additions of BECMI, but you, dear reader, might most easily find on pages of the Rules Cyclopedia pg 117. 

Basically, each force shown above has a rating from 00-126 based on troop class, which is modified by its composition in terms of missiles, magic items/weapons, spells, and speed. There can also be modifications based on the leader's WIS, INT, CHA or morale, tactics and/or even PC actions before battle. 

Once those scores are determined, each side rolls a d100 and adds it to their base score for a final combat result. The difference between that score determines the scale of casualties, fatigue, and location for the winners and losers

From the above picture, there were three battles that were fought so three rolls of a d100-- and that was it!]

With the Black Bogdani converted and the bolstering from the party, Yimsley's Company (red snake) was met with 2:1 odds, and despite some trouble (Rolled a 32 on the d100) the right flank collapsed allowing us to push in on the Pagan Liberation Front (red deer).

The Corbies easily defeated the far less battle-hardened Yim's Company. And Nethe, full of bloodlust, routed the Pagan Liberation Front, gave chase across the river, and smashed them on the other side. What became of the "witch" who was leading this rebellion?

Yes that is the Abbey north in 1607



I like it. I think for the scale of what our group wants to do and the level at which there is interest in large battles it is a good middle ground. tWM basically has you calculate a combat check. And while the math is a little extensive it's nothing that also could not be rolled into an Excel sheet for quicker automation. But even without that, a little back-and-forth in a Discord chat will establish the biggest parameters for a DM to have all the math ready.

But maybe most importantly, it was easy to allow the party to perform some hijinks or make some critical decisions that factored into the battle. Which is most likely how a majority of players would prefer it. We were still able to use the resources of our ~3-5th level characters while not having to drop down into Chainmail scale.

Does this mean that tWM is better than Chainmail? No. It is just a different tool. If our group consisted of more war game nerds then I would have no problem maybe doing an off-cycle Chainmail battle to determine outcomes. But that is not the case and instead, we have a system that allows the resolution of regional-level battles in an evening. And allows the players to see the effects of their choices on the world.

That last bit is key to most RPGs: player actions result in (majority) observable change. This is what keeps players coming back.

NIGHTWICK ABBEY: The Purple Eater of People Session 71 FAILURE!

Session 71. What. A. Nightmare.

Tonight, on a very special Weeknights in Nightwick,
the party learns that despite having felled giants with fireballs and possessing the sword of Father Winter and a shard of the God of Law-- you still might have to run like cowards. But still living cowards nonetheless! And living stands in contrast to the poor fates of the 3 brave souls we hired that morning. Two of which were horribly incinerated by once-man-now-monster created, no doubt, by a concoction of hubris and satanism. The third was literally torn in half by a group of #3d6+1 Blind Dead.

For previous excursions, please check out Mycelium Mischef


Mayfly (MU 4)
Verinka (Ch 3)
Ulf (MU 3)
Liminal Space (Ch 3)
Bluegum (Ch 1)
Mechtilde (F 4)
Hirelings: Gutteral Noises, 2 other hirelings


LEVEL TWO: The intent of the party in this delve was to "simply" sojourn down into the Abbey (1). Finish mapping the second level and hopefully make it back with ~500-1000 XP each. Instead, when we hit Level 2 and turned south, we ran smack into a horrible radioactive abomination.  The party ran through a series of ill-formed plans hindered by a simple door that we could only see the eldrich light shining through.

(PC NOTE 1: Return to the Dungeon: Megadungeon campaignsI think, have a wonderful strength in that the dungeon is the thing. This provides a convenient, well-known, easily understood "(5') square one" to always return to. This is especially advantageous in an open-table format where you might have different players, different competing interests, and PCs of different levels. There is less reliance on everyone or at least a core group to make every session in order to advance the "plot". Rather, if the party that week has the needed capabilities then you can run the delve you want. Or easily change the goal of the delve)

Should we fire up spells now and kick the door in, then fireball? Maybe we could phantasmal force? Maybe we could phantasmal force and then fireball? But what if we can't see the target, do we wait? Who would go first? Whoever does, MUs should move next- but wait then they can't cast spells and we might lose a round of combat initiative-- so what now? Our DM starts moving 1-by-1 and asking: "What is YOUR character doing?"(2)

(PC NOTE 2: Plans Are Especially Exciting When Occasionally Poorly Executed: With a totality of information and cross-table talk, its easy for players to dither and/or recursively make plans. Good plans are key in old-school D&D. However, this can sap excitement and tension. So when Miranda started asking for what each PC is doing without cross-checking with everyone else-- it really brings me into the game world. The tension returns. The stakes get raised especially when it comes to an important battle. The confusion, while one part frustrating, also adds realism- sometimes plans don't come together perfectly.)

The door is kicked open- SUPRISE MOTHERF****R! - to an empty light streaming out of a doorway further south on the east wall. One hireling is ordered down the hallway to verify the target- a once-man-now-monster created, no doubt, by a concoction of hubris and satanism. Yup, its there. Mayfly slings a fireball into the sliver of the room he can see and lets the blast radius do the work-- 19 points of damage! (solid). But with a wail, the first hireling is reduced to an ash-coated skeleton. Disintegration is not what we are craving. The party runs, beating another hireling to the door, and therefore creates a second ash-coated hiring skeleton in the process (3). We make it out and up to Level 1, then out of the Abbey to circle around to the crypt level.

(PC NOTE 3: Second Level- Still Scary: I still like that there are things that can insta-kill, especially when combined plans gone awry as in (2) it creates great tension. It adds to the horror vibe of Nightwick. Our party has 4th and 5th-level characters, powerful magic swords, and equally powerful magic, it is nice to still have something on Level 2 (!) that can potentially kick our ass. It also is something that helps keep the level in a perennial state. And these perennial elements of Nightwick's three levels combine to create an environment that has kept a party playing weekly going for 2 years now. No sorta of 400-page Aduin Vul situation is needed; three levels with ~250+ rooms total. Not trying to say there should not be more, but hopefully demonstrating a DM needs far less than one might think before kicking off a campaign.)

LEVEL THREE: The party regroups to try Level 3, which we have a solid map of, and know that in an unexplored area there is a set of stairs back to a different room of Level 2. Okay, good plan B. Down to Level 3, up to Level 2, find some loot and scoot (4). The party turns north then east to hit this set of stairs and just as they are discussing what to do-- a hireling is torn in half by two skeletal figures! 

(PC NOTE 4: I still think mapping is great. For me it is a form of exerting control over a space that initially seems sprawling. As the unknown is revealed, you can take better action and anticipate outcomes- survival becomes easier. Maps function as a sort of emergent quest log due to its record of hallways, doors, portals, and areas unexplored. And at least in Nightwick, creating a map allows a form of fast travel in that we don't have to crawl square by square, but the DM will just roll the required encounter checks from point A to B and zip us to our goal if nothing pops up.)

Stretching before us is a long column of skeletal dead. F**K. The party re-forms ranks. Mectilde, with the sword of Father Winter, cuts down 4 of the things, but fearing wading into the mass given the rend ability that was just one display. A quick vote is taken among the PCs: Let's leave.

The party leaves Level 3 and the dungeon as a whole. DM calls it a night as that was the second route (5).

(PC NOTE 5: These two delves are about as close to a "loss" as one can have in D&D, short of losing a character or a TPK. We were run out twice, lost 3 hirelings, gained no treasure, little XP, and didn't kill the "boss" monster. I am disappointed but only as much as I would be losing a game of Halo or Catan. It spurs me to do better next game. Bitter defeat helps enhance the flavor of sweet victory. Our windfalls are all that move meaningfully because we have 0xp sessions like this one. In the vein of Farfhd and Grey Mouser, my character, and I as well, experiences the boom-bust cycle of adventure. I think these defeats or setbacks also help ground an otherwise fantastical setting & game realistically-- each adventure does not guarantee a happy ending. And that is also not the fault (or responsibility) of the DM; Miranda runs a great game of D&D.)

Total Play Time: 2 hrs
Total New Rooms Explored: 0.5
Hirelings Dead: 3
Hirelings Left Behind to Haunt Us Again: 3
Enemies Defeated: 4

Damn you Nightwick.

Our fearless scribe has also chronicled the terrible result of this ill-fated outing.




Great illo from the Pyramid of the Undying

Last Friday I was asked to run a game of D&D over pizza and beer. A classic pairing and impossible to say "no" to. The hosting couple was I had previously run my "wine dungeon" . And given that the last outing ended in somewhat of a TPK, they were down for starting over with new characters. I asked if they wanted to try to delve the wine dungeon again or try something more classic? 

"Classicwas the answer and I just happened to have a revamped copy of B4 The Lost City✦ with me. No, not the Goodman Games one, but a lighter PDF call "Pyramid of the Undying"- highly recommend this PDF.  It creates a much tighter layout for the first 5 tiers of the dungeon, changes the gods to the more familar Zeus, Athena, and Hermes, and also creates a small set of boons if you join the factions. Keeps Zargon of course.

This group of novices had played with me before, so they are used to my low(er) fantasy D&D. It doesn't seem to bother them a bit. In deference to this being a friendly game, I just allowed my friend a STR 18 "barbarian" (or a fighter with a background equipping him with a battleaxe, leather, horned helmet, and 2x oil flasks). Each of the 3 players rolled 2 characters, so in total we had 6: fighter, thief, cleric, wizard, wizard, thief. I also started folks at Level 2 because- eh, wanted to keep the game light. I'm trying to get folks to have fun with D&D not prove some sort of old-school bona fide.

What was also interesting was that despite offering maybe a d66 roll for additional power, the players elected just to start the game. Again, I interpret this as your average player of D&D just wants to start playing some D&D ASAP.

Adventuring in The Lost City

  • My brief background is that the party is fleeing through the desert from a definitive war their side lost. I ask three questions to establish this and at least answering one of them brought about the fact that dragons no longer exist. Oops, now we are playing Dungeons & [deleted].

  • Needing water in 2 hours (12 exploration turns), the party succeeds in only setting off 1 trap before figuring out a way to disable the other two. And dropping torches down into the first level to trick the fire beetles below.

  • After a brief scuffle, they investigate the three doors and scare off a pale-skinned "werewolf" by waving wolfsbane (randomly rolled equipment) in their face. The explored northward and ran into a well-armed group wearing the stylized mask of an old bearded man- the devotees of Zeus.

  • Despite the chauvinistic leanings of this group and in desperate need of water, the party decides to join up and receive food, water (!), and lodging. They are led down below to Level 3 where they decide to try delivering a message of parley to each of the other two factions.

  • The exploration yields a remnant of a potential "fourth" faction devoted to a sun god, but the altar is destroyed and desecrated. A vicious fight with a giant black widow spider ensues and almost kills the two fighters. They decide to leave this area and make it back to the Zesus compound to recuperate but not before encountering a group of pale figures clad in the costume of adventurers. A brief beheading (Nat 20, plus max damage, +1 STR bay-bee!) by one of the PC fighters is enough to get them to back down.

  • When the PCs return to the compound they recount their sojourn with gusto. A series of awkward looks are exchanged between the Zeusians: "While we appreciate your need to protect yourselves, we do try to avoid killing the former inhabitants of our great city. It is our duty to protect them."

    PCs: Oh...😓...mah bad
In all a fun session and the same folks reached out to secure another game for end of October so a certified success.

 I've always wanted to do a review of B4 The Lost City because I believe it's possibly the best module of the B series and I think actually deserves a spot higher than the venerated B2 Keep on the Borderlands.