Monday, July 19, 2021

Night's Dark Terror Sessions 9 &10: Tower of the Abusive Narcissist


Imagine spending the better part of a session listening to the cleric talk to some stupid wolves that have nothing to do with anything. That is what it is like to play D&D with me.

 

 Session 9: Talking to Wolves and killing a Cow.

I don’t feel like a lot happened this session because my character spent like half an hour talking to some wolves. That’s my bad. That one is definitely on me. The wolf conversation was largely fruitless

Then we went to Lake Titicaca where the bad guy is. He is a wizard and he wants this tapestry thing. We accidentally rescue the guy we were supposed to rescue. Or maybe that was what we were trying to do. I can’t remember.

This guy we were trying to rescue was all “go after the evil wizard and take his treasure!” we were all “Dude you look terrible, you have been tortured, get your priorities straight we are taking you home!”

We killed this guy. It was no big deal


Anyway we made a new goblin friend named Jithers. We killed a bunch of stuff in front of him. Including the hobgoblin who we were hoping would help us kill the rapey horse man. At first we were trying to get a job working in his posse but he wouldn’t let us join because he was racist.

Anyway Jithers had a lot of trauma related issues we hoped to work through in the next session.

Session 10: Raised by Narcissists

Jithers had a really hard go of it. Through our continued talks with Jithers  we were able to lay out the whole pattern of abuse. The evil wizard had classic Borderline Personality Disorder with serious narcissistic tendencies. Jithers had developed a really unhealthy attachment.

We told Jithers that he could come live on a horse farm and animal therapy. We offered him a way out but he just wasn’t ready to take it. I think this evil wizard character has been built up into an omnipotent godlike character in his mind to the point where Jithers cannot imagine himself as a separate distinct entity.

So, we left Jithers and took the guy we rescued, who was wondering why his homestead was now being marketed as a therapy retreat for goblins.

When we found our horses they were being dry humped by evil baboons. So we started humping those baboons back to establish alpha dominance. Long story short; it worked. As we humped the baboons into submission we gazed back to the evil wizards tower and saw Jithers gazing out the window at us. It was a really gut wrenching experience.

Just thinking about life after a hard day humping and being humped.


On an unrelated note, one of the other players couldn’t be there so he let someone else control your character. This is really dangerous not because your character will die but because when you get back your character will be into some weird stuff. Oso the fighters new thing is pissing on everything. He pissed on a baboon. HE pissed on the wizard’s tower. He pissed on the dead wizard. Spoiler: we kill the wizard.

Oso wrote a long letter to the evil wizard in his pee telling him that we had the thingy he was looking for and to come and get it. Then we went home to the goblin therapy horse farm and got ready. We did like an A-Team montage. There was this whole battle. Then the wizard came and it was scary for a bit but I guess he didn’t know fireball so we all lived. After he was dead Oso pissed on him and then we had to loot his body after it was covered in Oso’s urine. Oops.

I know it is gauche to bring you weird fetishes into the game but I swear we are not into pee stuff (that I know of) so it is ok. Besides, this is More Calvin and Hobbes bumper sticker peeing than sex peeing.




Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Night's Dark Terror Session 8: Grooming Horses the Bad Way

TSR UK, You should be ashamed.
Bytor Goldenbeard was horrified.

 Last session I said we would have to kill more stuff in the petrified forest lair of the Wolfsex goblins or whatever they are called. We did. We slaughtered them. We did it for money; money we have no hope of spending. We did it just to look at the money We did it just because we could. I felt debased.

Little did Yutnib and company know that standing in that den of goblins covered in goblin viscera breathing in goblin blood and feces and sweat, that was as clean as they were going to feel all session.

They had to talk to Loshad again. The party had hit a dead end. The trail leading to the guy we were looking for had run cold. It turns out Loshad had known about the human trafficking operation the whole time and had just neglected to tell us. He had been letting us run around like assholes.  We came crawling back to him begging him to tell us how to save the people that had been kidnapped by this ancient cult or something (I am not exactly sure what is going on honestly).

Loshad refused unless we did him a favor. He wanted us to kill a werewolf. We asked why. I wish we had not asked why. So it turned out that Loshad had been ‘in love’ with this horse. A regular horse not a magic talking horse. This horse was the property of a woman who became a werewolf (through no fault of her own near as we can tell). As a werewolf she ate the horse that was Loshad’s “lover.”

We were all repulsed. This guy wanted us to kill a sentient being because this sentient being killed a non sentient being for food. Also he was having sex with the non sentient being. We wanted to slay this pervert right there but we could not because he was the only one who knew where the spooky city of whatever it is we are trying to find is.

Naturally the party was disgusted. Some were disgusted because this horse guy was disguising himself as a regular horse to have sex with horses. Others were disgusted because we spent ninety minutes or so discussing the ethics of a half horse half man taking the shape of a regular horse to have sex with horses instead of continuing on with the adventure.

Regardless I think we all agree we need to kill

this creepy rapey horseman. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Nights Dark Terror Interlude: Stolen Content

The dungeon master no doubt about to go insane from isolation recreated some scenes from our last session with his dolls.

We were fighting some goblins in a petrified forest. The dm and I made those big petrified trees about a year or so ago out of poster tube and coffee grounds.  The smaller logs are dowel with coffee grounds. 
He got minis to play Frostgrave with me but I fled to California so he is all alone. If anyone is in the Philadelphia area and wants to play Frostgrave reach out. It will probably give him the motivation to base his minis.
 Maybe one day we will get to play in person again instead of over roll20 or zoom.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Night's Dark Terror Session Report: Hate the Police and See Through All Time and Space

Hobgoblins.

 Session 6: Hate the Police

This session we do some more nonsense in the cave with the orcs and rescue this gnome we were supposed to rescue last time.

He knows what he did.


More importantly my cleric memorized speak with animals because I have never had a character memorize that spell ever. Obviously, I talk to my horse.  Uh oh Turns out the creepy horse guy from before his name is just the Russian word for horse has been up to some funny business with our horses!

We confront him later when he is trying fine us for riding our horses too long. He tells us he is prepared to issue a citation for Horsey Negligence.  We tell him that we know that he is a perverted corrupt half-horse horse cop.  He rides (or I guess he just runs cause he is the horse)  away and we start looking for his archenemy, who is this wolf who breathes cold breath or something (I don’t know it doesn’t really sound that scary to me).

Vlack the Spooky Hobgoblin has a magic wolf and bat friends. He is really into watching us sleep. We chase after him to figure out what his deal was  and he got very confrontational so you know he is up to something weird.
Vlack has bat friends



Anyway we find the wolf and this hobgoblin guy riding it and they are totally unreasonable. They do not want to chase down the horse abuser. Instead we fight him (turns out cold wolf breath only does like 1d6 damage or something so no big deal).




Also I talk to some bats. and the magic user, Io charmed a hobgoblin and we named him “Hob Lowe”.

Hob Lowe our charmed goblin also seems to have very limited knowledge about his life before he became charmed. He can tell us very little about what he was doing with the main bad guy Vlack the spooky Hobgoblin.


Session 7: Seeing through all Time and Space

We had to cross a stream filled with piranhas, which was pretty classic.

was a real turning point for Bytor Goldenbeard, our stout and hearty dwarf. You see, Yutnib the cleric (that’s my guy( who is a girl)) was plotting a way to kill or subjugate the horseman fro his continued transgressions against defenseless horses. Bytor asks “wait is this all real, with the citations and horses?”

The snake guys had a cool snake statue outside their house.
Here is Scrud Pud posing with it.



 Yutnib insists that it is real but now it seems like we are living in a fractured unreality. How can we say which part of our shared unreality is ’real’ and which isn’t? When we were joking about the horse guy being a sexual predator was that a joke. Did the fact that the players playing the characters and the dm all seemed to buy into and laugh at the joke make it a real part of our shared reality?

Inside the snake boy house there was some really cool graffiti by the wolf boys. We asked the snake boys if they wanted revenge but they wanted to die instead.

Can we undo it? Are Yutnib and Bytor now living in parallel unrealities where the horse guy both is and isn’t a pervy cop? Is one of our characters having a schizoid embolism? Are both? Will the walls of unreality come crashing down around us? Are we now playing Philip K. Dick & Dragons? Are we playing two different games? What is the nature of this game we are playing?

we also did  some stuff actually related to what the module is actually about. So we kill a bunch of stuff.

Hob Lowe died in a daring raid on the wolf boys

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Sublime Aesthetics of the Endless Pounding

 A Response to Ben Laurence

We'll get to this later patient reader.


GREATNESS of dimension is a powerful cause of the sublime. This is too evident, and the observation too common, to need any illustration: it is not so common to consider in what ways greatness of dimension, vastness of extent or quantity, has the most striking effect.
    -Edmund Burke
Since the 1970’s people have been rolling dice and missing goblins. Then those goblins have missed them. There have been times when this process has repeated itself interminably, countless times. There have also been times when a Superhero and an evil Lama have traded blows bashing each other for d6 damage at a time over countless 1 minute combat rounds.

Dear reader, I know that the first scenario begins as farcical but quickly turns to astonishment and “Astonishment, as I (‘I’ here means Edmund Burke not me) have said, is the effect of the sublime in its highest degree.” The second scenario goes right to the heart of the sublime a fight between titans with a greatness of dimension. It has a most striking effect on anyone with a soul attuned to the sensuality of struggle.

There is however a very bad man who does not share our sense of aesthetic refinement dear reader. That man is Ben Laurence and he has written a blog post of pure philistinism. Steel yourself dear reader I am about to quote him at length:

(T)here’s something weird about how you can stab Lancelot with a knife 24 times with no chance of killing him. It suggests video game thinking, as if he had a life bar that could be "full" or "empty", a life bar that grew with each level, and shrunk eat time you got hacked with a sword. (Indeed, it may well have been the source of that video game thinking in part.) My objection to this picture is rather an aesthetic one, both a repulsion to the aesthetic of the life bar, as well as to the associated picture of people taking and dishing out endless beatings, like when the Hulk fights Thor.

As you can see Ben Laurence has entangled the idea of long fights where bashing happens and super heroes. I imagine that this entanglement comes not just from comic books but from the recent Marvel Movies. I imagine that Ben is sick of the Marvel Movies and that this has created a distaste for protracted melee combat. These video game and Marvel associations have created an association in his head that he terms this the “endless pounding aesthetic.”

I want to highlight what I said in the last paragraph, that “in his head” part because the rules and mechanics of Dnd really only take on aesthetic qualities when our minds interpret them into events. Dnd primarily exists aesthetically in our private and shared mental spaces. I would argue (some other time) even when we use miniatures and other play aids. The endless pounding aesthetic is an outgrowth of Marvel Movies or video games because the is what we have been feeding ourselves aesthetically. To alter the aesthetics of endless pounding we don’t need to change the rules or mechanics, but our internal appendix N. If you will. 

 
Here we see the long fight with both endless small wounds and lot of missing


Endless pounding is not the sole provenance of the action movies of late stage capitalism. It is also native to middle stage capitalism (I guess I’m going to call it that). Watch Errol Flynn in Robin Hood. He fights a one on one protracted battle. The length of the battle is how we know it is important. It dazzles and astonishes us. As the battle wears on we see more desperation, cuts, and superficial wounds across Flynn’s face. The battle develops its own narrative. It ebbs and flows it has time for quips. That is the sublime naturing of endless pounding; narrative heft generated through length attrition, “greatness of dimension” as Edmund Burke would say.

 

This clip shows the OD&D one minute combat round in that they hit each other and then stand around waiting to get hit back

 Another classic example occurs in The Quiet Man. John Wayne and some other actor guy fight it out across the town and then take a break for drinks. What would be a minor squabble between to men takes on an epic quality because of its massive length. The meaning and the import of the fight is conveyed to the audience and by audience I mean both the townsfolk in the movie and us the viewers through endless pounding. It is also here that I will first note that sometimes when two guys pound each other endlessly they start to like each other.
The apotheosis of endless pounding comes from John Carpenter’s They Live. Slavoj Žižek has done an excellent job discussing how meaning and narrative are conveyed through the fight but I want to highlight it for the fact that that meaning is all buried under brutal interminable testosterone fueled pounding. By the end our protagonists are left bruised and brutalized. They have gradually chipped away at each other’s stamina. This fight also does not result in death but in a closer mutual understanding between its belligerents.

Armed with these cultural touchstones we can imagine endless pounding as a way to sublimate the common scrapper or ruffian into an epic warrior and a meaningless melee into a profound struggle through the sheer magnitude of its dimension. The meaningless becomes meaningful through astonishment.

I was not being completely honest earlier when I dismissed the aesthetic implications of mechanics in our games. If we want to invoke the power of the endless struggle of 20th Century film we may need a mechanical way to show that the magnitude of a fight can astonish and change the belligerents, most notably pounding between two men leads to affection.

The Bromance Pounding Rule:


This rule is designed to codify the fact that when two manly men engage in an endless pounding it can stimulate manly respect and affection. When two men engage in battle they may grow into friends and instead of killing each other wind up embracing.

The rule is applied in the following manner

Step 1: The Dm decides that a fight is between two men. This is solely at Dm’s discretion as to what that means. Factors to be considered include but are not limited to: alignment, intelligence level, gender, character class. You may wish to limit this to fights involving fighters or “fighting-men”

Step 2:  The Dm sets what we we call the “Bromance Number” to 0.

Step 3: Every time someone takes damage in the fight increase the Bromance Number by 1.

Step 4: If the Bromance Number is Greater than 1, add lowest Charisma modifier to the Bromance Number and roll a d20. If the result is lower than the Bromance Number, the fighters no longer wish to fight but to embrace and tell the other how strong and manly they are.

This rule will hopefully help the players to appreciate the sublime aesthetics of endless pounding.







Monday, March 29, 2021

Night's Dark Terror Session Report: SACRIFICE! SACRIFICE!

 Session Five

 
These Dwarves were kind of miserable and unlikable.


 

 

 

 

The party heads to the north to hang out with some  dwarves. The dwarves are not happy to see Scrud Pud because they are racist. They like gnomes thought apparently. I guess gnomes are like the model minority of the dwarf world or maybe they have one gnome who is like a token so that they can deflect when they are called out on their bullshit.

Anyway this gnome is named Vissarion and his brother is name Caesarean. Vissarion want us to go find his missing brother, who was captured by orcs (maybe) with some dwarven miners. We say ok. Spoiler: We never found any of those guys.


We go into some abandoned ancient mines to look for the missing guys. Our dwarf walks into a trap that seemed to be pretty well labeled on the player map.

We kill a lot of orcs and capture two of them.

 

 

 

We find out they worship a giant spider. Wait. I think maybe the gnome wanted us to kill the spider. All the dwarfs and the gnome called it the ‘black beast’ or something and we were like “hey guys you can’t say stuff like that anymore” and then they got embarrassed and started calling it the ‘blue eyed beast.’

So anyway it turns out that the orcs (who may have been stand-ins for racist caricatures of indigenous people) worshipped the spider as a god and made human (or demihuman) sacrifices to it.
 

I almost forgot. The thief almost died again
We trick/intimidate the orcs into showing us where their god is by telling them we are going to sacrifice the dwarf NPCs with us. At first the NPCs did not seem to like this plan but the cleric winked a them.

Long story short we found the spider god and did colonialism to it. Then went to hang out with the dwarves.

ok ok one last detail. We set the giant spider god on fire and then one of the orcs tried to put the fire out and fell into the fire and died. The other orc was paralyzed and had to watch the whole thing. We left him alive.

I didn't make the spider look scary enough; he was actually kind of tough.


The end




Thursday, March 25, 2021

The Days are Long, So are the Months... (Here’s March)

 After not recording very much information, due to a serious amount of time spent writing something of an autobiographical fiction for herself, Theodora has returned to the page to record the Nese Gard Adventurers time in the dungeons. The following document will cover the past three sessions including a rather EPIC birthday session done entirely in costume - by the players. 


We begin with Ember’s death. 


AGAIN.


No one is amused.


No one is excited to return to the dungeon to face the Black Pudding again and loot Ember’s body. It is unknown the reach and expanse of the Pudding. Would it still be in the same spot or would it be constantly on the move?


The team ventured to the tavern before stopping by to visit Xylarthan (who had returned and told the group that Nupo was indeed a spy. He suspected some spell had been used on the entire continent to cause mass memory erasure. Removing the gods, many parts of religion and the calendar from the populous’ memory).


There they met an elf who looked LITERALLY SHOCKINGLY LIKE Ember. Her name was Phoenix. She was apparently Ember’s sister. Lucky, that.


She wanted information on what happened to her sister. The group was surprised by her very existence as Ember hadn’t been very open or into sharing about herself, her past, her family. Phoenix however implied that the two elvish women had been close. Theodora was suspect. She wondered if there was far more to that story than was shared. 


Phoenix (also known as “not-Ember”) was interested in items her sister had been carrying, or finding the remains of her sister to send them off in the elvish way. 


The party had only bad news for her.


Theodora was more suspicious.


Whatever, sometimes you just have to let shit play out. She doesn’t even know how fucking suspicious she is.


Theodora still wore the Elaphore Ring but the keen sword and a number of other artifacts could still possibly be on Ember’s body. The group opted to make there way back there and find out. 


They travelled to the room of the mating Kobolds. The kind, still wearing the hat Theodora had given him was there in a special mating room. He was wearing a mostly destroyed but familiar set of armor. 


The lizards asked the party to join the in egg laying. Phoenix did her best to act/play laying an egg, while stealing an egg from another Kobold and passing it off as her own. For this she was invited to visit the king. The group counted the numbers, noted the treasure, and moved on, still returning to Ember’s corpse. 


As they edged their way along it became clear that Ember was nothing more than a gross back smear on the floor. And the Black Pudding was still near by. They abandoned their dreams of looting her body and instead hatched a plan to murder the mating Kobolds and rob them of their treasure. Especially hoping to find some of Ember’s items among the hoard.


All went to plan. Sort of. The group stormed the room, Theodora won over the Kobolds by offering an egg, but instead of laying one she cast web on the group. From there they were stabbed/executed. And put to sleep.


The group waited. Merriweather was ready to back stab, the others to attack. 


As the group of Kobolds with the king emerged, melee was entered. Merriweather dealt a crushing blow to the king but was injured. Theodora cast sleep. The king was killed by Ves who also was dangerous injured. 


She died before the group could escape. Merriweather got out with her life, though injured. Sven, Phoenix, and Theodora were largely unscathed. 


The party killed all of the Kobolds, including the king. They went forth and crushed/destroyed all of the eggs. They looted their treasure and stole back all of Ember’s items.


The party walked away with 1500 gold, 2025 silver, 2 gems (non magical), and the Keen sword.


This was not split with the hired men this time because the team had forgotten to hire them.


During their off time the group worried over Ves, whose corpse was cooling at Xylarthan’s tower, waiting for resurrection.


(In an amazing turn of events the entire party showed up for this session in full character to celebrate the DM’s birthday. Sneak Peak...)


(Deposed) Empress Theodora

Svenasus the Pegasus 

DM/Birthday Boy

Group Zoom Shot

Phoenix (the NEW Ember :P)


Ves, hidden under a shroud, emerged from her cocoon a beautiful butterfly, AKA as a gnome! WOO! Two gnomes in the party.


And from there they ventured forth. Nupo had still not returned, Moogle was still as the shop acting like a cry baby, and the hired man signed up for another campaign (Idiots).


Theodora flirted with Dingle out of loneliness (See Theodora’s backstory fiction for more).


The team made quick work of heading for the third level and the chapel, hoping to venture down the northern corridor. 


They did not make it. As usual. 


Instead they opted to turn east at a corridor just beyond the slug room and corridor which lead to the stairs to the third level realizing the area was fresh and unplucked, so to speak. 


The followed a corridor where they found a square room filled with the long rotted, mummified corpses of lizard people. To the south they found a room with a statue at the center. That statue turned our to be Heget, the frog headed goddess of fertility, worshipped buy the dagonites. An inscription lead Theodora to climb the statue and cut her finger, there she ate a bite of ration, waiting to see if she would be healed. She was not.


Her next idea, almost joking, was to suckle from the statues teat. People though quickly jumped on this idea and no one would test it, but Theodora, “because she was already up there”. Guess what? The statue produced life saving milk from its rock hard nipples.


The group quickly (as quickly as possible, it was slow) expressed milk into their mouths and spit it out into their empty wine skins to keep the milk for future use.


Next they checked the east door. This lead to another corridor. The door at the other end had noises behind it that made the group uncomfortable. They skipped it.


The door to the north also exposed a corridor. At the end of that corridor was another door. On the other side was a room filled with statue arms growing out of the ground and a desiccated corpse (we have seen so many my iPad just guesses the word desiccated now...).


Ves, brave as ever, now a gnome, just started moving around. Like she had learned NO lessons. And she made it about six hands before one turned and grabbed her, crushing her leg. 


The party managed to free her, grab the corpse, and remove the gems many of the hands were holding when Ves cast Protection from Evil on herself. 


There was a door on the other side but only Ves could venture that far so she did not explore too much. They returned to the main hall, which lead to the third level but went straight across, west. There they found a door with a skull carved into the rock above it and went right on it. As they always do. 


There was running water through the room and while looking around Phoenix and Theodora, with Night Vision, noticed the heat reading of some very fast moving creatures. Fearing the Weresharks, and knowing they couldn’t be too far from their liar, the party turned tail and ran, Theodora magically closing the door.


They made it back to the surface with 9 Onyx gems, worth 150 gold each and 50 garnets. 


They made a hefty sum and the hired men were happy to finally be paid. And not dead.


They hired men were so happy they signed up yet again the following week. 


So Ves the gnome, Theodroa the gnome, Svenasus the Pegasus, and Phoenix the Elf (sibling, supposedly) went into the dungeon. 


They once again had to leave their (lazy) orphans behind because they make the hired men uncomfortable. It was one or the other and for the particular mission it seemed better to have the hired men honestly. 


The group is slow to start and Theodora knows she needs to leave a bit early for a prior engagement. 


The group checks in with Moogle who is becoming a real PIP. And then makes their way into the dungeon, heading straight for the second level, at least. 


Theodora has leveled up and while partying with Xylarthan the past week to celebrate (and flirt) has managed to learn Fireball and Fly. Fireball is awesome but makes her nervous but Fly is super cool!


The party maneuvers past some goblins on the first level and manages to make it back to the second where they find many of the corpses they know to be there - GONE. As well as much of the fungus. 


The find the Goblin and Trog bodies gone. The Owl Bear. The fungus. But then come across a Carrion Crawler! They battle it and win. Yentil is paralyzed.


They give him week old milk from the statue which he can not swallow. And is probably old and sour. It does not help.


They are forced to go back to the pool room, which happens to have a second slug monster in it (fucking fuck) but the group does not engage and runs for it, escaping into the hallway. They opt to further explore the passage ways of last time. 


As the party moves down the passage way south of the slug room Ves moves ahead to glance around a corner, carefully, as Theodora is on high alert. A second Carrion Crawler grabs her by the leg and drags her off. The group is briefly stunned but tries to formulate a plan!


They hurl Yentil’s paralyzed corpse as a diversion, trap, for the crawler, hoping it will come back. 


It does not.


So they follow, rendering the old lizard corpse room. 


Even those with Night Vision can not see much with the corpses but Theodora hears movement and casts Sleep in the general direction. 


They manage to kill the Crawler and save Ves, whose foot has been managed by the creatures mouth, and escape. 


They do not find the Crawlers nest/lair. 


Yentil is miraculously still there when the party returns. Sven carries the two paralyzed players out of the dungeon and they all return to the surface ALIVE, which is something.


And so, now, to wait and see if Ves needs a peg leg (fingers crossed!)


XOXO - Theodora


Night's Dark Terror Sessions 9 &10: Tower of the Abusive Narcissist

Imagine spending the better part of a session listening to the cleric talk to some stupid wolves that have nothing to do with anything. That...