(I'm cross-posting from my blog, since the good folks in these forums may appreciate this.)
Brian – a friend and gaming buddy of many years – died in November
. Many of his friends, as well as his teenage daughter, Rose (now a gamer herself), have been trying to get together for an appropriate sendoff. We decided to do a “farewell” D&D game last Saturday, with us playing Brian’s characters from our various campaigns over the past few years, plus a few new PCs to round out the group of eight mourners/friends/players.
I agreed to be GM … but what to run? Do I run a setting-neutral game … or somehow try to put the characters’ appearance in context? Brian deserved better than a “Throw random PCs into a fight” game, yet as a one-session adventure, it needed to get right to the point.
I ended up going with one of Castle Whiterock’s
sub-levels, “The Ruined Chapel of Bobugbubilz,” written by Adrian Pommier. It’s straightforward, challenging, easily adaptable to any setting, and features my favorite Whiterock villain, Most Bloated Muthren! And since the last campaign we had played (prior to my China trip) was my DragonMech one
, I kept to that setting.
So here’s the lineup of Brian’s PCs: Cirro
(a human rogue from my friend’s Dave homebrew world), Belial
(a paladin from Dave’s Forgotten Realms campaign), Aagute
(a bear-like caliban from my Ravenloft campaign), and Jian-Tor
(a half-elven sorcerer in the current DragonMech adventure). What could possibly tie these characters together?
Well, on Cirro’s world, bizarre pockets of time were popping in and out of reality. Belial was dealing with the arcane aftermath of a “meteor” that blazed across the sky – apparently from another universe! Aagute … well, the “Land of Mists” certainly seems out of place in any
universe. And as for Jian-Tor, the DragonMech players were just stumbling across the first signs of a reawakened evil from years past.
The answer: Something is making the fabric of Time and Space go kablooey. As Cirro, Belial, and Aagute are about to fall through suddenly appearing temporal voids, they’re rescued by this odd-looking fellow
, who transports them to DragonMech’s world of Highpoint in his self-described (ahem) “temporal mech.” They’re united with Jian-Tor and the new PCs: Rocktoe
(gnome monk), Irina
(human stalker, a DragonMech roguish class), Humphrey
(human cleric of Delvyr the Luminous), and Grast
(human steamborg/steam monster, with a barracuda-like steel jaw).
The players: Nanci (Cirro), Kevin (Belial), Rose (Aagute), Dave (Jian-Tor), Kelly (Rocktoe), Andy (Grast), Jim (Humphrey), and Rose’s boyfriend Anthony (Irina) in his first D&D game!
(Note: The following has a couple of spoilers for this part of
Castle Whiterock, but not enough to get in the way if you plan to play it yourself. And why shouldn't you? It's awesome!)
The shabby-looking stranger quickly explains that he’s traced the source of the temporal disturbance here to Highpoint. An incredibly powerful “chronomental” (inspired by the time elemental from Necromancer Games’ Tome of Horrors Revised
) was foolishly imprisoned by members of the stranger’s race and has escaped. The stranger is trying to clean up the mess they’ve made, but the means of controlling the chronomental has apparently fallen into the webbed hands of the Cult of Bobugbubilz -- the vile Toadfiend! The cult doesn’t quite know what it possesses, but Muthren has been experimenting with the crystal controller, causing the ripples in Time that have affected all the campaign worlds. If he masters the chronomental, then the Toadfiend’s foul eggs could be spread throughout Time and Space, threatening the homeworlds of each of the heroes. The stranger calls upon the adventurers to get into the cult’s lair and retrieve/destroy the chronomental’s controller. He’ll stay in his curiously unseen “temporal mech” and try to keep the fractures in Time from getting worse. And they’re off!
Since there were eight players, I had no qualms about bumping up the published level’s encounters. At the entrance to the cult’s grotto, they faced troglodyte zombies and “smoking dead” (steamborg undead from DragonMech). Later, their “temporal signatures” interacted with the energies from the chronomental and literally brought pieces of their past back to haunt them, i.e., villains from each of Brian’s earlier campaigns. So in between fights with the Cult of Bobugbubilz, the PCs would encounter a “who’s who” of our group’s iconic bad guys: evil fey, giant undead spiders, a steamborg pirate, etc.
They had a tough time with the level’s first big encounter, an underwater battle with the savage Children of Bobugbubilz. Grast, the aquatic steamborg, had ventured into the submerged tunnel to scout ahead. But did he tie a rope around himself? Noooo!
He got into a losing exchange of bites with the first Child and would have quickly become dinner (mmmm, lots of iron!) if the other PCs hadn’t sensed something was wrong. Belial the paladin and Aagute the caliban dove in and got into a good skirmish with the Children.
After Humphrey healed Grast’s many wounds, the whole group went under – with ropes this time! Emerging in the pool, they were soon attacked by a pair of skeletal Children, but Humphrey’s great turning roll and Belial’s sword’s damage bonus vs. undead made this a rout. For good measure, they incinerated a massive pile of Toadfiend eggs which I had placed in the next chamber.
In the module, there’s not much of a threat around the altar, so this is where most of the nostalgic “Bad Guy Highlight Parade” occurred. Fun times. Unfortunately, by this time, everyone at the table was really tired (we had reminisced and told gaming “war stories” for hours before sitting down to play), so we didn’t get to the final battle with Most Bloated Muthren and his tenuously controlled chronomental, but everyone said they had a great time, including me. I think Brian would have been pleased, too.
My thanks to Adrian for writing a kick-butt level to get my brain rolling. (Bonus thanks, too, to Doctor Who
for providing the story glue.)