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Monthly Archives: February 2011


I thought I’d get back to what this blog is supposed to be all about–real Tunnels & Trolls fiction that developed from a real Tunnels and Trolls game–in this case a solo adventure that I ran using my Trollhalla character of the time.

Khenn Arrth meets the guardian of the Tree.
Khenn Arrth in the Tree of Life
By Ken St. Andre and Dr. Sid Orpin
Long ago before the elves and dragons came to Trollworld, but after the planet developed atmosphere and vegetation there was a time when great plants dominated the landscape.  The greatest of these botanical wonders were the firien trees.  Their forest spread from the Dragon’s Teeth to its very Tail.  But, fire and axe and sorcery depleted their number until now there is only one firien tree remaining, the greatest of them all.  At one time, it was home to the elf lords of the Shindyr Forest, and after that it became the domicile of  the dark elf wizard Glebus-o-Glebarriel, also known as Gnarledfingers.  He vanished, but the tree remains hidden in the depths of the Shindyr Forest.
The Trollgod sent me, Khenn Arrth, to investigate this great tree.  It probably wouldn’t accept me in my true Trollish form, and therefore I have taken the shape of a human warrior.  As a troll, I am nothing special, but when I take human form, I can modestly say that I am a champion.
[Because this is a Tunnels and Trolls tale, I will show you, the reader, the mechanisms underlying the fiction.  This information will be given in square brackets, and I’ll start by showing you Khenn’s attributes.
Khenn Arrth, level 3 Human Rogue
All characters in Trollworld have 8 attributes that measure their abilities.  The higher the number, the more ability the character has in that field.  Here are Khenn’s numbers:
Strength  24,  Constitution  31,  Dexterity  24, Speed  25, Intelligence  34, Luck  26,  Wizardry  37. and Charisma  31.  He has 51 combat adds, making him a fierce fighter.  He wears robes of steel that will take 20 points of damage for him, and he carries a shield called a  pavise that will take another 7 points of damage.  The shield is usually strapped to his back unless he needs it.  His main weapon is a crossbow.  Khenn has three Talents, but they did not come into use, and will not be mentioned at this time.  Khenn also carries the best of daggers, the fearsome sax.  He generally uses his dagger for cleaning his fingernails and cutting his meat at supper.]
After days of making my way through the Shindyr Forest, occasionally showing some elven guardians my writ of safe passage from the Trollgod, I came at sunset to the remotest part of the forest.  Cresting a small hill, I looked down into a green valley and saw the most enormous tree ever.  The trunk was more than 60 feet in diameter, and it rose for hundreds of feet into the air.  As I stared at it in wonder, the sun dipped below the western horizon and the air darkened with astonishing speed.
I made camp for the night, ready to begin exploring in the morning.  I found some dead wood, called some flame to make a fire, had a filling but tasteless meal of elven waybread.  The only thing that really tastes worse is Dwarven moss food.  One thing you can say for the humans of Trollworld—they know how to make the best food.  You’d think that elves would have learned to make their food taste better.

Khenn Arrth rested by his campfire before continuing his exploration in the morning.

I rose with the dawn and approached the great tree.  As I got closer I saw that the tree was not only at the bottom of the valley, but actually set into a great pit perhaps 100 feet across and at least that deep.  A narrow flight of wooden stairs spanned the gap.   On the other side of the causeway was a round wooden door with a bronze handle in the center.  I had seen such things before—it was a typical entrance for an elven tree-home.

I walked across.  There was no railing, but I had no difficulty in keeping my balance.  As I reached the far side I noticed a small stunted stump of a tree growing beside the path.  As I got closer I noticed that it had a kind of face in its trunk and a branch that looked almost like an arm with a hand at the end.  I wasn’t too surprised when it spoke to me in a voice like the rustling of dry leaves.
“Ssstranggger!  You mussst . . . musssst  propissshiate the treeeeee  ssspiritssss before you enter.”  The tree hand came to rest in front of me with the palm up.
What could a tree, even an intelligent tree possibly want from a man—other than to not be harmed.  Gold?  Diamonds?  Blood?  I didn’t think so.  I stopped to think for a moment, and to look around.
[Level 4 saving roll on Intelligence.  Rolled an 8 on 2D6.  8 + 34 is 42—I needed a 35.  No way to fail that saving roll.]
I looked down.  I saw an acorn, or perhaps it was a firien seed on the ground.  I reached down and picked it up, and dropped it into the wooden hand.  The strange little face smiled and clasped the acorn tightly.  I felt a little tingle—it was enchanting me, but not in a bad way.  I felt better.
[Constitution and Charisma each got a 1D6 increase.  I rolled poorly.  Got 1 point for CON and 2 for CHR.]
The door swung open.  I walked in.
I didn’t expect a rectangular room with wood-paneled walls and a floor of polished marble, but that’s what I found.  Light came from dozens of small paper lanterns that gave out a warming green glow.  I looked at my hands.  They were green in this strange light.
“Hello, sir!”  A crisp, but wooden, voice startled me from behind.  I turned to see what looked like a wooden elf stepping out of a corner that I could have sworn was empty when I entered.  “I am Needon, the wooden golem.  Welcome to the Tree of Life!”
“Thank you,” I answered.  I pride myself on being courteous.  “I came a long way to be here, and to see this wonder.”
The wooden elf inclined its head graciously.  It didn’t really have a face, but the impression of a face seemed to smile.  “I hope the trip is worth the effort to you,” it answered.
“I’m sure it will be.  I came to learn and to explore.  I have already seen new things that make my journey worth while.”
“I’m glad.  Let me tell you that there are some rules for exploring the tree.”
“Fair enough.  Tell me.”
“First, you may not take any physical means of starting a fire with you.  Fire is very unpopular with trees and their spirits, so kindly leave your tinderbox, and other such tools with me.”
“I carry no such implements.  I am a bit of a magic worker, and I need no such tools.”
“Second, you may not take any axes into the tree.  Other weapons will be permitted.”
I spread my hands in a palms up gesture.  “I do not carry an axe.  Dagger and crossbow are all I need.”
“You seem to be an ideal guest,” said Needon.  “Let the doors appear and your adventure begin.”  As he spoke three doors appeared in the walls of the room.  “You may begin your explorations when you are ready.”  He sketched a bow toward me, and then walked backwards into the corner from which he had emerged.  And he vanished.
I was on my own again.  I looked around carefully.  I could leave by a door to the north, east, or west.  I took a moment to make a plan.  It was a simple plan—just go in the same direction as much as possible.  I decided that I would always go north.
And I also remembered one of the Trollgod’s rules for dungeon delving.  The one that came to mind in this situation was “Always search the room.”  I didn’t see anything obvious, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t something useful or valuable hidden here in the entrance.
I quartered the room from side to side, from south to north.  At one point I felt that I needed to propitiate the spirits of the tree again.  I couldn’t think of anything to do, so I simply made up a little prayer to the spirits.  At first it didn’t seem to be working, but I prayed harder and invoked other beings of nature.  [Level 3 saving roll on STR needed.  Rolled a 4.  24 + 4 is 28, missing the roll, but my level bonus is 3.  Adding that in, I made the saving roll.]
And I found something in the northeast corner of the room.  It looked just like the carved wooden handle of a sword projecting from the floor.  It felt right to take it—it felt like the tree spirits wanted me to have it.  I gripped the handle and pulled sharply.
With a snap like a twig breaking underfoot, something came up out of the floor.  It was a weapon—a sword of sorts, but unlike anything I’d ever seen.  It was all wood–just a smooth pole about three feet long and two inches in diameter, but wrapped with vines that were studded with thorns.  Such a weapon wouldn’t be much good against metal, but would be hideously dangerous against flesh.  I sensed for magic, and realized this weapon was enchanted.  I slung my crossbow on my back and took this wooden sword instead.  I’d have to carry it.  No scabbard made could ever hold such a weapon.
I went through the door in the north wall, and found myself in a large circular room.  The place felt like a shrine and had a numinous quality to it.  There was a door behind me, and others in the walls, and there was some sort of  magical shrine thing.  From some angles it looked like a growing tree.  As I walked around it, it changed from moment to moment.  Living tree, dead tree, magical statue of an elfin woman—every time I looked at it, it seemed a bit different.
Around the circumference of the room was a runic message that just looked like leaves, but somehow spelled out a message I could clearly understand. “Pay homage to the spirit of the great tree and go in peace.”  There was an image of someone kneeling in supplication before a tree.
Maybe I should have taken the form of an elf for this adventure.  Although human on the outside, I am still a troll on the inside.  My natural allegiance is to rock, not wood.  I decided to search the room first, and pray afterwards.
I began searching, and I found some jewels attached loosely to the whatever-it-was in the center of the room.  They looked like diamonds and rubies and emeralds, but they felt like wood, or perhaps they felt more like amber.  Still, I thought they might be valuable back in Khazan.  I took them and slipped them into a pouch.
And somehow, the magic went out of the room.  The wondrous tree shrine was now no more than a rather crude statue of a wood nymph.  The runic writing on the walls  vanished—no more than meaningless scratches.  I realized that I had made a mistake.  I had been moving in harmony with the tree, but now I had violated that accord somehow.  The chance to worship the tree had departed, and now there were only doors to open.
I chose the door to the north.  I found myself in a short corridor, and after walking perhaps ten feet I came to a five-way intersection, and here I encountered the first sign of hostility.  I offended the tree in the last room, and now it was striking back.
The creature rushed down a corridor and leaped upon me.  For a moment I thought it was a dwarf, but whoever saw a dwarf composed entirely of virulent green vines and leaves?  I threw it off as quickly as I could, but a leaf brushed against my face and welts rose.  Poison!  The whole creature was poison.
I could only guess why it attacked me, or what it hoped to accomplish, but nothing attacks Khenn Arrth and gets away with it.  I began to flail at it with my new sword.  Whatever this thing was, my weapon beat it down.  My thorns cut it, and it wept a milky white blood.     I struck and punched and kicked.  And I killed the thing.  At least it quit moving and attacking me.
My armor served me well in that fight, for I took no physical harm, but wherever a vine or a leaf brushed against my skin, I gained painful red welts.  The fumes of the thing as I smashed it also affected my eyes.  They were swelling shut.  They puffed up so much that only narrow slits of eye and pupil remained unobscured.
[My foe is called a Poison Ivy Fiend, and it has a monster rating of 50.  It gets 5D6 + 25  adds in combat.  All spite damage counts as 2 hits instead of one.  I have an enchanted sword.  I get 5D6 + 51 adds in combat.  The fight lasts only 2 rounds.  On the first round the fiend has a combat total of 51 with 1 spite damage.  I have a combat total of 69 and 1 spite damage.  The creature takes 18 points of damage and drops to a monster rating of 32.  On the second round the fiend manages a total of 36 with 3 spite damage.  I have a total of 71.  71 – 36 is 35, so it drops to -3.  The fiend is dying.  I could be certain of its death by beating it a third round, but why bother?  The 3 spite actually did 6 points of damage to me.  Although I won the fight handily, I took 8 points of damage, and my CON dropped 32 down to 24.]
I was poisoned, but I could feel myself recovering.  I considered using a spell to repair my health, but I didn’t know any spells to deal with poison.  I could only hope that my underlying Trollish constitution would rapidly throw off this damage.  In the meantime, my face and hands itched and burned
I had taken worse wounds, and lived to tell the tale.  I continued down the corridor to the north.
I find arrived at the southern end of a long straight corridor that ended in an ironbound wooden door.  About every 10 feet or so, the wooden floor changed color from very pale at my end to very dark at the other end.  Between each colored section there was a much shorter gap of tiled floor.  The whole thing reeked of magic.  There was a sign on the wall beside me.  It was written in those strange runes that I could somehow read even though I had never seen them before.  It said:  “This is the Corridor of Death.  Please try to avoid causing unnecessary mess as you are disemboweled.  Thank you.”
Someone must think he is a wit.  Or, perhaps the tree spirits were taking the mocking tone from my own mind—I was no longer in their good graces.
Carved into the floor right in front of me was another message.  It reads:  Hedgehog Alley.  Prick me and do I not bleed?”
As I stood and thought about this, two things happened.  First, there was a sound of grinding gears and wood being warped from behind me.  Looking back I saw that my exit to the south had been closed off and the corridor was now blocked from floor to ceiling by a section of wall bristling with viciously sharp long wooden spikes.  The section of wall began to edge forward at a walking pace.  If it cought up with me, I would certainly be impaled and slain.
The second thing was that slits now appeared in the walls on both sides of the hallway, and inside them I could see crossbows ready to fire.  I didn’t know if the trap was automatic and I could evade all shots by getting down on my stomach and slithering down the hallway like a serpent, or if they had archers who could change the angle of fire.  It was, in any event, very hard to slither with any speed while wearing robes of steel.
I decided to just sprint through the hallway and count on my armored robes to protect me.
It worked Once a bolt hit my armor and olted me to the side, but the armor held, and I was not really hurt.  Everything else missed me.
Let me talk about robes of steel for a moment.  They are a form of armor that I invented, and I am proud of them.  Take quilted cotton and sew it in two layers with numerous pockets between the two.  In each pocket put a hand-sized steel plate.  Pad it all as well as you can.  Yes, it is very heavy.  No ordinary man could wear it, and it seems heavy even to me, but trollish strength can handle such armor.  It saved me that morning.
[Two saving rolls were needed on DEX.  Level 3 followed by Level 4.  Rolled a 17 to make the first and a 6 to fail the second by 5 points.  The game says plate armor can take the hits for you, and robes of steel, which can take up to 20 hits of damage count as plate armor.  Although I missed the second saving roll, the armor stopped the bolt.]
The next part of the corridor has a sign that says simply “Be Lucky.”  In front of me was a long checkerboard of sections colored in white red and black.  Each sector was 3 feet long and 6 feet long, and there were six of them.
I looked behind me.  The wall of wooden spikes advanced inexorably.  It was halfway through the crossbow gauntlet that I just survived.  I decided on a zigzag strategy and more speed for the checkerboard obstacle course in front of me.  Starting at the left edge of the hallway, I kicked it into gear and ran forward.
I ran forward right into a lightning storm.  Bolts of static electricity leaped from ceiling to floor all around me as I dashed down the hall.  Missed me, missed, missed, missed, aagh—it hit me and I staggered.  Blue sparks ran up and down my armor, and all my hair stood on end.  But I kept going, and suddenly the lightning was behind me.  I had been lucky.
[This trap did not depend on saving rolls.  Lightning would strike one of the three squares each time as I passed by.  I rolled 1D6 to see if it would hit me.  I rolled 4, 6, 4, 5, 1, 5 and it hit me on the 1.  My CON dropped to 22.]
Once past the lightning field, I found another message.  This one said, “Step Lightly.”  Suddenly the corridor in front of me transformed itself into a swiftly flowing river.  I wondered if it was an illusion, but if it was, it was very good.  I reached down and felt the water.  It was cold and wet.
Scattered in what seemed a random pattern were a number of stones that just reached the surface.  They were slick with lichen, and wet, and offered precarious footholds at best, but looking behind me I saw that the advancing wall of wooden spikes had almost caught up.  I plotted my leaps, and dashed forward as swiftly as I could.
On the fifth stone, my foot slipped, and I thought I was going into the river, but I managed to bring my other foot down on the same stone, then twist and contort my body until I caught my balance.  Three more steps and I was across.
[This feat required 8 saving rolls, 4 level 3s on both Luck and Dexterity.  I needed only a 4 or better for Luck, a 6 or better for DEX. Counting my level adds, the only thing that could really take me down would be a natural fumble.  For Luck I rolled a 21, a 10, an 8, and a 6.  For DEX I rolled a 4, a 7, an 18, and an 8.  Under 5th edition rules I would have missed the first DEX roll, but with the 7th edition rules, I could add my level to a missed roll.  4 + 3 is 7.  I avoided falling in the water.]
There was one last message waiting for me on the other side of the stream.  This one said, “Have faith!”  Blocking my path was a chasm at least 100 feet deep and 12 feet high.  The other bank looked slightly higher than this bank.  There was no bridge.
I could try to leap the chasm, but that would show a great lack of faith, and if the tree spirits wanted me to fall, I would fall.  Perhaps I could get back in their good graces by demonstrating some faith in them.
I closed my eyes and stepped into the chasm, and started to fall . . .
About a foot.  It was a bit of a lurch, but no worse than walking down stairs.  Opening my eyes about halfway, I looked down and saw nothing beneath me, but I kept on walking, and quickly reached the other side.  As I stepped up, I felt a wave of approval from the tree spirits, and I finally felt better about myself.  [Charisma bonus awarded here.  Roll 2D6.  I rolled a 3.]
I had reached the end of the corridor of death—a little singed and with a dent in my robes of steel, but still very much alive.  I looked back, and could see a door at the far end.  There was no wall of thorns coming to impale me.  It occurred to me to tempt fate and walk back, but nah, that’s never a good idea.
I opened the door in front of me and found a long wooden hallway.  Nothing molested me in that hallway, and a few minutes later I passed one last door, only to find myself in a forest glade so far away from the Tree of Life that I could no longer even see it.  The air was darkening.  What seemed to be at most an hour had been the entire day inside the Tree of Life.  There was a camouflaged lean-to not far from the back entrance, and inside it was a large bowl of fruit and nuts.  Inside it was one more sign in that strange tree-runic—The tree finds you acceptable.  Eat freely and be healed.
I have to admit that I’m normally a rock-eater, but that was one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had.  Then I used my magic to heal my wounds.  As the sun sank, I lay down and slept, losing myself in cool green dreams for the night.
In the morning I took my bearings and headed back to Trollhalla.
The End.

Oh, corpses are a ghoul's best friend!

This isn’t a story, but it is a kind of fiction from Trollworld–fiction in the sense that I hope to God it’s not true.

The Ghouls of Trollworld

     By Ken St. Andre

          T&T ghouls are very much Lovecraft ghouls. I haven’t spent much time thinking about them. Let’s see, what can we do to set them apart. Being a ghoul is a disease–a disease that gradually warps the body and the mind. The disease can be contracted in one of two ways–eating rotten meat where the ghoul bacterium has begun to thrive–not all-rotten meat has it, and the bacterium is destroyed by cooking, or by being bitten or scratched by a ghoul. The longer one remains a ghoul, the stronger one becomes. The healing feeling spell would also cure the disease, and a ghoul could be returned to normal humanity. There are two side-effects of being a ghoul.

 

1. They regenerate, but always in a more ghoulish shape–that is the body becomes more and more baboon-like, the skin gets greener and scabbier, the jaws elongate, the talons get harder and sharper, and they never ever die of natural causes. To be a ghoul is to share the same kind of immortality that vampires and trolls have.

 

2. Ghouls cannot have children. New ghouls must be recruited.

          What else do we know? As the vocal chords change, it becomes harder to speak their former language and they meep and glibber more. Meeping replaces long vowels like oh, eee, ay, uuu. Glibbering which is a sort of bblr sound tends to replace b’s, d’s, p’s, and v’s. Thus a short sentence like, “I love good meat.” In ghoulish would be, “meep lobblr gulobblr m-meep-t.”  As this may be hard to understand even by other ghouls, they often use pantomime gestures while talking to supplement the meaning.

          Other side effects of the disease are satyriasis and extraordinary hunger. Thus, ghouls love orgies, and will steal women or attractive males for sex and to infect them and gain new members. This is a revolting thought, and I don’t want to go there in much detail.

          Ghouls tend to live in underground necropolises/graveyards. Harsh or bright light pains their eyes and reduces their vision, but they develop excellent vision in low light conditions. Ghoulish skin turns green over time, getting darker and darker as the

disease progresses. Ghouls give off a disgusting carrion odor. A normal human getting a direct whiff of ghoul would need a level two saving roll on CON to avoid throwing up. Their own sense of smell changes and becomes more acute so that everything we think smells rotten smells sweet and wonderful and attractive to them.

          Ghouls hate vampires–it’s envy really. Vampires live forever and get to feast on fresh blood. Ghouls need rotten food, and cannot pass in normal society the way vampires can. It’s envy grown into hatred. Vampires despise ghouls. Ghoul hunting is a sport for them.

          Over time ghouls lose all their hair except for what grows on the top of the head–that becomes coarse and bristly and elongates into a ridge of hair that grows down the neck and along the backbone.

This ghoul wants some Rogaine, and so do I!

          Nobody makes clothing for ghouls or baboons either. As they become more deformed from the human norm, they tend to wear less and less clothing. They may opt for collars, bracelets, or necklaces that can simply hang from their body or fit around a limb. Ghouls like rings and shiny rocks attract them. Anything shiny will do.

          Ghouls have hands and are perfectly capable of using weapons. Former warriors that become ghouls keep all their skills and usually have a passion for collecting weapons, especially magical ones-they realize that better weapons may mean better food and more ghoulish recruits. A wizard that becomes a ghoul would retain his wizardly knowledge and skills. There are ghoul-wizards, and they tend to be the leaders of ghoulish communities. Ghouls may also have Talents.

          The ghoulish pecking order is dependent on physical or magical might. The strongest rule and tend to take advantage (sexually and otherwise) of those weaker than themselves. Ghouls enjoy the society of other ghouls-especially for sex, feasting, fighting, and ghoulish games-the roach races-but nobody likes to be beaten up all the time and that means that ghouls will often be solitary creatures, especially if they aren’t mighty enough yet to command a band of followers. However, ghouls never kill each other. That is their greatest taboo. There are relatively few ghouls in the world, and they are hard to replace. Since they regenerate stronger than before their injury, a ghoul that is badly hurt will get better if it gets any food. It is not uncommon for an aggressor ghoul seeking followers to beat a weaker ghoul almost to death and then nurse it back to health with plenty of rotten food. Over time such behavior will generate small bands of ghouls that are socially linked.

          Ghouls sometimes develop relationships with animals. They domesticate rats, and sometimes create rat-ghouls. Rats are great at finding dead things to eat. Ghouls also like cockroaches. They feed them and breed them, and have cockroach races and battles in their ghoulish communities. And they tame the gigantic bone-eating dholes that live in lightless caverns far beneath the earth. Dholes can serve as mounts for ghouls.

          Ghouls hate fire. Fire cleanses and purifies. They avoid it, and tend to use phosphorescent mosses and fungi as their light sources for deep underground.

          I wouldn’t want to be a ghoul.

End

oh well, here I have ventured into the realm of non-stories.  Consistency was never my strongpoint anyway. 

–Atroll


Hobgoblin Holiday in Khazan

      By Ken St. Andre

Boozer prepared for his trip to Khazan

 

Boozer the Hobgoblin arrived at the river gate on the eastern wall of Khazan with the sun. There were hundreds of farmers with wagons waiting to bring their produce into the city, but the guards saw his weapons and armor, and that he wasn’t human, and brought him in through the Warrior’s Gate. When he told them that he had a message for the Death Goddess, they gave him a map to the palace and wished him good luck, not bothering to mention that no one had seen Her Frightfulness for years.

 Boozer remembered what the Trollgod had said to him when giving him the pouch. “Be sure to do any sightseeing that you want to do in Khazan before you go see the Death Goddess. Things might get hairy afterwards.”

Booozer went to the Trollgod’s armory and outfitted himself for the journey. When finished, he looked in the mirror.

He wore soft, ankle-high leather boots, in dark green, with tiny axes embroidered onto them at the front, normal clothing (woolen trousers, cotton shirt and vest!) in ‘earthy’ tones, including waistcoat and hooded cloak. He also had a broad black belt with an ornate dragon head buckle.

He carried a backpack containing a delver’s pack, a small grapple hook with 20′ of fine elven silk rope, a few provisions for the day, flint and steel, a water skin, 3 wax candles, a magnetic compass and a small bullseye lantern with spare oil. A large, battered drinking tankard hung from his pack. It had a dragon pattern, and at its bottom on the inside were the words “drink to me only with thine eyes.”

A buckler and soft green leather armor comprised his armor.

He carried only small weapons so as not to appear threatening (as Pacino said in _Devil’s Advocate_: “Always be the little guy. They don’t see ya coming!”), so he chose a fang-wing dagger, which he could throw if desired, a sax for hand to hand fighting (usually hidden within his cloak), and a very light self-bow (across his back) with a sheaf of fishbow arrows. Although Boozer was skilled in swordcraft, he did not choose a sword. He was saving up for a special one!

Once inside the city, he passed by the entrance to the Dwarven City of Thrindol, skirted the already bustling marketplace, and spotted the high coliseum walls of the Arena.  On the southern edge of Thrindol, he saw a sign saying “Future location of Gristlegrim: Khosht” that bore the picture of a grinning, one-eyed Dwarf.

As he wandered toward the palace, he saw a magnificent building all made of green stone. Approaching it, he learned it was the Temple of the Money Gods. “Hmm,” said Boozer. “I didn’t know that gods had money.”

As he wandered around the building away from the front, he found himself by a waterfall with a pool. Through the clear water he could see many coins lying on the bottom, only a couple of feet down. Checking to see if anyone was looking—no one seemed to be—he waded in and scooped up a handful of gold and silver (3 gold, 6 silver). As he tucked the money into his pouch, he felt something strange: he was rising, levitating.

“I’ll give it back!” yelled Boozer, but it was too late for that. The force that held him propelled him through the waterfall and into a cavern of some sort. Enough light came through the water so that he could dimly see a doorway ahead of him and words carved into the stone. They said: “Go forward, thief! To retreat now would be your doom.”

Boozer had seen stranger things in his life, so he didn’t panic. As his feet touched the ground, he looked around carefully to see what his options were.

The waterfall roared and pounded behind him, seeming to be the obvious way out. Off to the right was a pile of large round stones, and protruding from the pile was the hilt of a broadsword with a finely wrought hilt. Ahead of him was a tunnel entrance moving into darkness–not that he would have any trouble seeing in such a place. The rest was only stone.

“That’s what I get for stealing from money gods,” Boozer said to himself. “What was I thinking?”

“Hurmmm,” said Boozer, “a sword in some stones. If I pull it out, maybe I’ll become the King of Khazan. Naaaaahhhh, that only works in fairy tales, and I’m no fairy. Still, let’s take a look at it.”

He walked over to the sword. As he got closer he noticed that some of the rocks seemed to have a few chips and scratches on them. And the sword looked better and better. He also felt a kind of tingle in the back of his mind, but whether it was a good tingle or a bad tingle he couldn’t tell.

Boozer stretched out his hand and pulled the sword from the stone. As it came free it rang like a bell and began to glow with a white light.

Just then the rock pile began to pull itself into a vaguely humanoid form. Even as the legs formed, it lunged at Boozer!

The sword seemed to know what to do. It pulled Boozer’s arm out straight into a stop thrust. Magical glowing metal met stone and entered a crevice between two stones with a clang.

The rock monster seemed to pause for an instant when the sword penetrated it.

“Oops,” said Boozer to himself. “Out of the waterfall, into the whirlpool. Yikes!”

Boozer stuck the glowing sword into the onrushing rock monster as it flailed wildy at him. Then he ducked as a huge rocky arm came swinging at his head. It missed and whooshed over.  (L3-DEX SR to see if he put the sword back in the right spot.  Rolled 8, missed it, but got 24 ap. L1-LK-SR to see if running away would save him. He rolled 19 and made it handily. 19 ap.)

Then Boozer turned and sprinted for the dark passageway. At the end of the passageway, he exited in a circular white room with two silver pillars standing in the center. Each pillar was about waist high on a human, and they seemed to hum faintly as he approached them.

Boozer walked all around the silver pillars. In the far distance he heard the sound of sword and rocks clashing together. It didn’t seem to be getting any closer.

Then he walked between the pillars and the world changed around him. He found himself in an intersection. Four corridors led away into the darkness. Above each one was a symbol, the symbols being stylizations of fire, water, air, and earth. (L1-SR on INT. He rolled a 6 and missed it by 8. 6 ap.)

Boozer felt a cold breeze spring up, and a momentary sensation of danger, but it passed without anything happening. (Check for wandering monsters: none.)

“I guess I’ve gotten away from the rock monster,” Boozer mumbled. “Now which way should I go?”

Boozer studied the symbols for a minute and then turned down the earth path. He walked along for a while, and it seemed as if the walls widened out on both sides and the ceiling got higher and higher, and the rock underfoot got softer and greener, and….

He found himself standing in the middle of a green field under the open sky, and worse, he was standing there in the nude. All that nice equipment that he had taken from the Trollgod’s armory just magically crumbled away.

“Hey, Boozer!” yelled a voice from behind him—a voice not unlike his own voice. Boozer turned around and saw a being that looked exactly like him. It was charging at him.

“This world isn’t big enough for the both of us,” cried the duplicate.

“You got that right,” said Boozer. There was a terrible fight.

 <This scene deleted for graphic violence and explicit nudity.>

 Still he had nothing to show for it. Looking around the meadow a bit more, he saw two signs. One said “Blue Frog Tavern” and had an arrow. The other said “Danger and Death” and had an arrow pointing the other direction.

Where the rogues wind up in Khazan

Once Boozer set out upon the path to the Blue Frog Tavern, it was as if an irresistible force swept him along. As he walked, the sky darkened into night and the buildings of the city appeared around him. In the distance he could see a half open doorway with bright light spilling out of it, and a raucous noise coming from within.

Just before he reached the tavern, Boozer noticed an old goblin lying in the gutter. The goblin was snoring loudly, and as Boozer approached he detected a stench of cheap beer rising from the unconscious one’s mouth.

The old drunk didn’t seem to have much but he did have a ragged brown tunic, a belt, and a small dagger thrust through it.  That was a lot more than Boozer had at the moment.

It occurred to Boozer that he didn’t have to walk around completely naked and unarmed. The drunk was not going to be able to resist if he took his tunic and weapon.

Boozer stepped fastidiously over his sodden comrade in the gutter, but reached down and nicked the dagger (2D6 + 1). Then he pushed open the door to the Blue Frog Tavern and stepped inside.

The Blue Frog Tavern was a typical Khazan bar. Sawdust covered the floor to soak up the blood and puke. A dozen tables, along with some benches and chairs filled the room. A large blazing fireplace filled one end of the room and a wide wooden bar lined with stools filled the other. Behind the bar was the entrance to the kitchen. A swinging front door, four large windows across the front of the tavern, and a multitude of lit lanterns hanging from chains attached to the ceiling finished off the simplistic decor. A wooden door also led into a meeting room in the back.

Boozer saw Lucky (the one-eyed, one-armed, one-legged bartender) and Chereva (the hot centauress bouncer). He scanned the place to see if anyone he knew was there.

“Hey,” shouted Chereva. “The entertainment has arrived, and it looks like he started without us.” A roar of laughter greeted this sally.

Boozer saw a wide variety of kindreds sitting around the bar getting sloshed. Ah, there was one person he knew—it’s Taran Dracon the Uruk and his brother Jax. Ok, that’s two. There were also two wizards, a drunk, a tiny fairy eye-balling him, a skeleton man, two ladies of dubious virtue and a winged toad.

“Ahem,” said Boozer, clearing his throat loudly. “I have just escaped from some sort of magical otherplace—”

“By the skin of your teeth, no doubt,” shouted Taran.

“And I’m on a mission for the Trollgod to see Lerotra’hh—”

“Looks like she’ll be doing the seeing,” snorted the centaur.

“And I could use a little help, mainly clothing and a drink.”

“That doesn’t sound like entertainment,” cried Taran, leaping to his feet.  “Give me your cloak, you,” he ordered a random barfly.  Before said barfly could respond, Taran jerked the cloak off his shoulders and poked two holes in it with his claws, holes big enough for hobgoblin legs to fit through.

“Here, step into this,” Taran told Boozer. “Now we fold the front and back up like this and pin them at the shoulders. Desuma, some pins, please?” The demoness snapped her fingers and two cheap broaches (not roaches) appeared. In less than a minute, the hobgoblin was presentable, although just barely.

“What happened to you, Boozer?” asked Jax.

“Magic. There was this fountain. I took a couple of coins out of it, and got attacked by a rock monster that stole my newly found magic sword….”

“Sounds like a typical day in Khazan,” Jax responded as heads bobbed around the tavern.

Boozer joined the Uruk brothers at their table. Taran signaled for Lucky to bring Boozer a drink, and then asked, “What did you say you were doing in Khazan?”

“Trying to deliver a package to the Death Goddess for the Trollgod, but I lost it.  Do you think I’m in trouble?”

Taran and Jax exchanged a look. Jax seemed to shrug. “Eh, don’t worry about it,” Taran answered. “Nobody has seen the Death Goddess in these parts for a while now anyway. Just tell His Forgetfulness that she wouldn’t see you.”

“And that a hobb thief ran off with your package,” added Jax. “Hey Boozer,” he continued, changing the subject, “it looks like many of the regulars are here tonight. Can I introduce you to anyone? A better crew of adventurers you’ll never find.”

“Hmm,” said Boozer looking at the motley bunch with some dread. As he was thinking it over, Shipy the Hobb walked in.

“I’d like to meet her,” said Boozer, pointing toward the door.

“Shipy’s a dude,” Jax guffawed.

“No, her!” Boozer persisted loudly.

Chereva noticed, and trotted over.

“Problem boys?” she stated with mock sweetness.

“Chereva, I’d like to introduce my friend, Boozer,” said Taran.  Jax lifted Boozer up to stand on the table top. From that elevation, the hobgoblin could almost look her in the eyes. Not that he tried.

“Up here, short stack,” said Chereva, directing the hobgoblin’s gaze from her open vest.

“I’ve never met a Centaur before,” said Boozer, in awe. “I guess I was, uh, also looking for a ride back to Trollhalla. I wouldn’t be much of a burden for someone as magnificent as you, and I can make it worth your while when we reach the stronghold of the Trollgod.”

“Flattery will get you nowhere, you know,” Chereva neighed with much jiggling. “Yet, you seem sincere enough…” With that, she quickly flipped him up over her head, and drop-kicked him out the door into the street. “But you must understand,” she called out after him. “I am NOT a taxi service!!”

Boozer lay dazed in a muddy rut in the middle of the street.  The old drunk goblin hobbled over and said, “Tough luck, mate. Oooh, my dagger.”

The End

 

The beautiful towers and palaces of Khazan are not where you will find most Tunnels and Trolls characters.