Skip navigation

Category Archives: Swords and Sorcery


Today is Dec. 16, 2014. I will update this date every time I add something to this blog/site. This is my 3rd addition/character.  Today’s character addition is a human wizard named May-Ren.

———————————————————————————————————

This is simply a Tunnels & Trolls character of mine whose old character sheet is cluttering up my apartment. I don’t want to lose him, but I don’t want to keep the paper, so I’m putting the character here. You will note that the character name is kind of a play on my own first name which is Kenneth, and I often describe myself as a wizard, so now  you know: this is one of my alter-egos or secret identities.  (I may update this character from time to time if he ever has any more adventures or makes any progress.)  Oddly enough, I forgot that I had this character, but didn’t forget the name. I used the same name as a Dragon Warmaster among Lerotra’hh’s high-ranking minions.  Perhaps this character is what he pretends to be when walking the streets of Khazan.

NAME:  Kennarith Ko      GENDER: Male     KINDRED: Human     TYPE: Wizard     LEVEL: 3

PERSONAL ADDS:  47      MAGIC KNOWN: 1st & 2nd level spells   ADV. PTS:  25

ATTRIBUTES

STR:  23                                   INT:  23

CON: 23                                   LCK: 28

DEX: 27                                    WIZ: 32

SPD: 17                                      CHR: 28

AGE: unknown                       HT:  5’11”               WT:  200 pounds         HAIR: Gray                        BEARD: sometimes

LANGUAGES KNOWN:  Common, Low Elven

WEALTH:  71 gold pieces

POSSESSIONS

WEAPONS:                         Sax (big knife) 2D6+5

Common sling and a bag of pebbles  3D6

FOCUS DEVICE:                Staff Ordinaire (quarterstaff) 2D6

CLOTHING

Wizard’s robe of  black cloth, tunic, trousers, calf-high boots, hat, cape, pack, pouch.

HISTORY: Kennarith has gone on several adventures and always survived. He has a liking for elves and elvish things. His personal quest is for immortality, or at least more longevity than humans normally have, but he is getting old, and has never achieved high level status as a wizard.

WizardKen2013

 

 

And speaking of old Tunnels and Trolls characters, here is another one I found.  This one belonged to Paul O’Connor and probably dates back to 1979.  This is a 5th edition character, and so, not quite compatible with the modern game, but it would not be hard to add a WIZ and SPD attribute to the sheet and bring him up to date.

—————————————————————————————————————–

NAME: Lanact’oor     GENDER: Male     KINDRED: Elf     TYPE: Wizard     LEVEL: 3

PERSONAL ADDS:  26                    MAGIC KNOWN: 1st, 2nd, 3rd levels          EXPERIENCE PTS: 5634

ATTRIBUTES

STR:  19                          INT: 33

CON: 18                           LCK: 28

DEX: 15                           CHR: 18

AGE: unknown            HT: 5’5″                    WT: 120 pounds            HAIR: Blonde      BEARD: No

LANGUAGES KNOWN: Bear, Wolf, Spider, Bird, Wraith, Wight, Ogre, Orc, Half-Orc, High Elf, Japanese, Flame Demon, Troll, Gremling, Goblin, Dragon, Ghoul, Fairy, Giant, and Undead.

WEALTH:  40 gold pieces

POSSESSIONS:

WEAPONS:                 Yuurk (magical sword will take 100 hits in combat for the wielder)

Deluxe staff (named Pendragon)–it is green.

OTHER STUFF:

17 applications of hellfire juice

4 days worth of provisions

Lantern and oil.

119 feet of silk rope

(Suitable clothing is assumed but not specified.)

I still have a typed note from Paul with a little more info about his character.  It says:

Dungeons he was spawned from are: 5 trips DED (Deathtrap Equalizer Dungeon), 2 BSP (Beyond the Silvered Pane), 3 Dargon’s, and 2 into Overkill (note: both trips into Overkill were made with groups of 12 levels of characters. Both times Lanact’oor was the only survivor.) Also, next to Instep du Brain-Brain, this is the highest level magic user that Sherman Oaks or Van Nuoys has spawned. Our moderated dungeons tend to be tough.  Spells: Whammy, Poor Baby, Yassa Massa.  Send him in door #3 of Tombs of the Gods, or if that is chosen, and door that hasn’t been. That’s about it, see you on the other side of the Tombs.

———————————————————————————————————–

NAME:  May-Ren      GENDER: Male     KINDRED: Human     TYPE: Wizard     LEVEL: 2

PERSONAL ADDS:  6      MAGIC KNOWN: 1st & 2nd level spells   ADV. PTS:  135

ATTRIBUTES

STR:  10                                    INT:  12

CON: 13 + 4                             LCK: 14 + 3

DEX: 16 + 3                             WIZ: 22

SPD: 14                                      CHR: 11 + 3

AGE: unknown                       HT:  5’10”               WT:  unknown        HAIR: unknown                       BEARD: unknown

LANGUAGES KNOWN:  Common

WEALTH:  0 gold pieces

POSSESSIONS                   A skeleton key, Amulets that add + 3 to Dexterity, Luck, and Charisma

WEAPONS:                         Dirk 2D6

FOCUS DEVICE:                None

CLOTHING

Nondescript gray wizard’s robe, sandals, and dungeon pack.

HISTORY: May-Ren has gone on one adventure, and survived.  He was fortunate enough to come away with a number of amulets that enhanced some of his personal attributes.  (This character may be used by anyone who wants to use him as a T & T delver. If he develops more personality, let me know, and I’ll update this record–Ken)


Introduction by Ken St. Andre

The following tale of wizardly cunning was created by playing a solo dungeon authored by Scott Grant–a dungeon expressly designed for wizards, instead of those more commonly created for warriors.  Using magic well within a solo dungeon is a difficult task for a game master/scenario writer to manage, and Scott, one of the many rather brilliant members of Trollhalla, has managed it very well.

I did all the writing here, but because Scott created all the situations and characters, and because the members of Trollhalla voted to determine the hero’s next action each time, I have given them authorship credits as well.  An adventure created from a solo may or may not end happily but what I want here is fiction, not an exhaustive retelling of the game. I have decided to leave some of the game mechanics visible (usually in parenthesis) in order for those who are not familiar with Tunnels and Trolls to have some idea what is happening and why.  If I submitted the story for professional publication, I would take all the game mechanics out of the narrative.  It’s really just a short story.  Such a narrative typically only shows a small part of the total adventure. Markus was supposed to retrieve at least 9 out of 10  tokens, but . . .

I have also left in some of the commentary I  wrote while playing through the adventure the first time. This breaking of the fourth wall between narrative and readers is generally frowned upon by the literary establishment, but this tale is a kind of special case.  I am hoping that it will not only give you a few minutes of reading pleasure, but also illustrate some of the gaming principles involved in roleplaying a game like Tunnels and Trolls.

And now, on with our tale . . .

Final Exam

by Scott Grant, Ken St. Andre, and members of Trollhalla

Markus of the Myre looked good in his new dungeon delving gear. He had a complete suit of leather armor with high-topped boots and fingerless gauntlets–protection for the hand, but maximum dexterity for casting spells and fighting. A wickedly curved jambiya was thrust through the belt at his waist–he counted on his armor to keep it from cutting him–and his trusty staff was in his left hand. He kept a serious expression on his face with some difficulty as his gnarled old instructor droned on and on.

“You have one final test to complete your education,” said old Oinkenwartz. “All those who train in Cormac’s School of Wizardry, also known as the Cedar Corral Wizards Guild, must learn to use their training in a very real way. We don’t just send you out into the world with a pat on the backside and hope for the best; we want you to be truly prepared.”

“I appreciate that, Sir,” said Markus, when what he really meant was “Can we get on with this?”

“Follow me.” Oinkenwartz pushed aside a curtain and revealed a stairway heading down to the Tower’s basement. They had gone that way many times before on training exercises. The old wizard muttered a word “Tnalov” and levitated about six inches.  He then floated effortlessly down the stairs. Markus had to walk.

The young apprentice thought he knew everything that the basement had to offer, from the Library of Stone to the Practice Room to the Janitors Closet, but Oinkenwartz put his hand on a stretch of blank wall, muttered something. Then the wall shimmered and disappeared, revealing another stairway leading down into unknown depths.

“I survived this dungeon myself many years ago.  Though it has seen many changes, it is still very challenging—and very deadly.  You will need more than just your magic; you will need to be smart, clever and lucky. Less than half of our students ever make it out. Perhaps you will meet some of them down there.” Oinkenwartz snorted, making a wheezing noise that could have been a laugh, a spell, or perhaps his last breath.

The old teacher pulled a gem out of thin air—actually he reached up and pulled it from behind Markus’s ear. The apprentice wished the old coot wasn’t such a stage magician at heart. “Before you enter the dungeon, you may cast two spells. This gem will allow me to restore your kremm after each casting.  Choose your spells wisely.”

Markus looked at his instructor quizzically.  “That’s a very kind offer, Sir, but what good does it do me to cast a spell now, when I will undoubtedly need it later?”

“Good thinking, lad. Most of the spells would be useless to you now. But surely there are some that might come in handy later.”

“Hmmm, well, hocus focus might be useful, but I already have a staff ordinaire.”

“That was a wise investment on your part.”

“I’d like a Do-Over spell, then and a Ground Rule Double.”

“Excellent, Lad, excellent!” Oinkenwartz extended the jewel toward Markus.  “Cast those now, if you please.” Markus concentrated, did some finger flexing, intoned mystic syllables. The jewel cast off some unlikely glows and remained glowing brightly in the teacher’s hand. “You take it my boy! When you want the Do-Over just rub the gem and say do-over. When you want the Ground rule double, rub it and say double.”

“Thank you, Sir. May I go now?” Markus took the gem.

“Oh, yes, go now!” The old wizard lunged forward and pushed Marcus through the portal. Caught unexpectedly, Markus staggered back a few steps and teetered on the edge of the stairway. The stone beneath his feet flattened out; the stairway turned into a spiral slide, and Markus found himself sliding down into the darkness. He barely managed to hold onto the gem, and he did drop the staff, but it didn’t matter. The staff slid down into the pit with him. Then he found himself flying through the air and falling. [L1SR on DEX—rolls 3, 3 plus 3,4 for a total of 13—makes it handily.]

Markus found himself in a dimly-lit room. One stone just above the chute that had dropped him here glowed weakly. He put the jewel in a small pouch that was tied to his belt, picked up his staff and got to his feet. There was a door in the north wall. The chute was in the south wall. There didn’t appear to be anything interesting, although there could have been something hidden on the walls—the light was really too faint to tell.

[Note: only 3 spells had any result on the gem. Hocus Focus was one of them, but it was a waste since Markus already had a great focus in his staff ordinaire. One person suggested the Ground Rule Double. Nobody suggested Do-Over. Spells like Detect Magic are inherently useless in this solo. Markus is a wizard. He detects magic automatically—he can’t help it. Sligo may think it’s a great joke to kick you out of the dungeon on the first paragraph, but I think it’s a waste of our time, so I gave Markus the only two spells that might help him. In my opinion, Vorpal Blade would have been a possibility if the player had a sword or knife. He does have a knife, but the adventure didn’t allow that to work either.]

Markus got up and looked around. It didn’t take long. Two steps in any direction brought him to the wall. Yes, the stone above the entry chute was glowing, a cool light, and not very bright, but as his eyes adjusted to the semi-darkness, he found he could see well enough. For a moment he thought about casting Will-o-Wisp to get a little more light, but why bother? This dungeon, like all the best dungeons he’d ever heard of, seemed to provide its own light. That made sense. If creatures were going to live down here, they’d have to be able to  see to get around.

He thumped on the walls as he walked, just to see if there were any hollow-sounding spots, but that just scuffed up his knuckles. Solid stone has a way of doing that when you rap on it. When he reached the door he found some markings, all done in the Dwarvish runes that everyone was using for writing these days. He stopped to read it. “Dang! Wasted an Oh There It Is. Nothing here.” And “Trrrommm was here.” And a few other comments with about as much content. It did make him wonder if he had brought anything to write with. A quick check of his delver’s pack ™ showed him that he had two large pieces of white chalk—they would do. He made his own mark by the door, M. M. and the date 6/28/1320 A.K.

Then he opened the door and looked outside. He was at a T intersection.  Dimly-lit corridors stretched off to the left, right, and straight ahead. He stepped out into the intersection and closed the door behind him. As he put his foot down, he skidded a little. Looking more carefully at the floor, he saw that he had stepped in something. Ew!

He drew an M on the door behind him and arrow indicating which way he went.

Markus turned left and set off on his explorations. He took a moment to mark his trail with a chalk arrow and an M.  He walked for a while and came to another intersection. Again he turned left, and walked until the corridor ended in a door. He put his ear to the door, and heard muffled voices. They sounded human.

Having decided to go through every door he found, Markus pushed the door open. He found himself looking into a sort of arena.  The room was a good fifty feet square and well-lighted with several open-sided oil lamps. There was a large ring painted on the floor in heavy black paint, and two armored warriors stood outside of it in opposite sides of the room. One had a sword and shield. The other carried mace and shield. Both wore full plate armor. Shield and armor showed a few dents, and both men were breathing heavily.  It appeared that the fighters were very evenly matched.

Markus stood near the northern door. There were exits to the east and west.  On the south wall was a golden podium with a small trophy upon it. The two men had been talking, but when they saw Markus enter, they lowered their visors and turned to face him.

“Good evening, Gentlemen,” said Markus. “Pardon me if I have interrupted anything important. My name is Markus of the Myre. May I ask who you are?”

The one with the sword said, “Hello, Markus, my name is Scott. Is it evening already?”

“Well, the sun had gone down when I entered this dungeon.”

The one with the mace said, “Greetings, Markus, my name is Grant. We’ll get back to our fight soon. Would you care to stay and watch, just to be sure that Scott doesn’t cheat?”

The question made Markus a bit uncomfortable. “Um, why are you two men fighting? Wouldn’t it be better to save it for the monsters in this place? I could use a bodyguard, or two.”

“Monsters?” Both men looked at Markus like he was crazy and burst out laughing.

“Grant is the only monster around here,” said Scott. “He wants to keep me from the prize I deserve.” He pointed almost reverently at the small gold trophy.

“What makes you think you deserve it?” asked Markus.

Scott puffed out his chest. “It should be mine because I am a gallant and brave fighter, and the trophy would make a nice addition to the long list of honors and awards I have received.”

“You, Scott, are a pompous braggart,” sneered Grant, “and you deserve to be taken down a notch. If I win the trophy, I’ll sell it for gold, and give half the money to the poor.”

“I don’t trust you, Grant. I think you lie, and you would do anything to take away the honors that I deserve.”

Grant shrugged and looked at Markus. “See how he is. Who can trust a man who knows no humility? Someone like him would think it’s honorable to cheat, because he thinks it’s his right to win.”

“Cheat! Me? I would never do such a thing!”

“Hah! You would take every advantage you could get, because you know that a dead foe will never complain about your underhanded tactics.”

“Are you calling me dishonorable and a liar?”

“I only speak the truth. It’s not my fault you can’t deal with it.”

The swordsman raised his blade and rushed into the ring toward his foe. “I’ll show you how I deal with those who challenge my honor.”

The mace wielder charged also. They came together with a clang of armor. Grant blocked the swordsman’s swing easily with his shield and then countered with a blow of his own. The fight was on again.

“Hmph!” snorted Markus to himself. “These guys act like jealous brothers. Well, they are going to fight. What am I going to do?” He paused to think for a moment.

It was a very long fight—it lasted a full hour. (30 combat rounds—I fought it out.) Markus took a seat near the door and watched—one would normally have to pay for this kind of entertainment back on the surface. The fighters were indeed fairly even, but it became obvious after a while that the swordsman Scott had more skill, or perhaps the sword was simply the superior weapon. He seemed to get past Grant’s shield more often, and when he scored, he left a bleeding wound behind. The mace dealt crushing blows that sometimes staggered the swordsman, but he wasn’t bleeding much.

(GM’s note: Scott won 18 rounds, Grant won 8, there were 4 ties.)

For the first half hour it appeared that Scott was oh so slowly winning, and then for about fifteen minutes the tide turned—Grant beat his foe back and back. Then it looked like the mace wielder simply ran out of energy. His blows lacked force. He staggered from side to side. His parries missed. Scott saw his chance, and with a final blow to the helm, smashed Grant to the floor, where he lay motionless—perhaps dead, perhaps too weak to go on.

“Ha! Victory!” gasped Scott. “I told you the trophy was rightfully mine.”  He kicked his fallen opponent, and staggered off toward the trophy. He seemed to have completely forgotten that Markus was even in the room.

Scott sheathed his sword. “That was a glorious fight! I shall now claim my prize.” He went over and picked up the trophy.

Markus thought how easy it would be to cast a Take That You Fiend spell on Scott. Then he could take the gold trophy, and anything else these losers had.

“That wasn’t so glorious,” he muttered. “You had him beat for the last five  minutes, but you had to finish beating him to death.”

“That’s what warriors do,” sneered Scott. “He tried to steal my trophy. He deserved to die.”

Markus could feel the spell forming in his mind.  How easy it would be to take him down.  Then he heard the groan. It was very faint, but Grant still lived. The young wizard turned away from the swordsman and went over and knelt beside the defeated. He pulled off the man’s helmet.

Scott took his trophy and staggered out of the room.

Markus opened his pack and took out his first aid kit. He had a couple of vials of healing potion inside it. He opened  one and carefully dribbled the fluid down Grant’s throat. The part he spilled he rubbed into the nearest cut on Grant’s neck. The man’s breathing, which had been  very weak, strengthened a bit.

Grant opened his eyes. He looked a bit surprised to see the stranger bending over him.  “I lost, didn’t I?”

“You almost died,” Markus answered. “You were on your last gasp when I got a little healing potion into you.”

“Thank you, Markus. If you ever need a friend, I’m yours to command.”

“You’re not saved yet, friend. I am a wizard, but healing isn’t one of my talents. That’s why I carry the potions.”

“Just get me to a door, and I’ll be alright. I have a little magic of my own.”

Markus dragged Grant toward the eastern door. The man seemed to get stronger by the second,  and he managed to pull himself to his feet before they reached the side of the room. As they lurched through the door there was a flash of light and Grant was gone. Markus found himself alone in a short corridor. The hall continued straight ahead, and also went right, with the door behind him.

“Nice trick,” Markus muttered. “I wish I knew it.” He continued down the hall until he reached a four-way intersection. Then he turned left. That left him in a short corridor with a closed door at the end. Markus walked up to it. When he got up close to it, he found a small sign near the handle that said, “If you like adventure, please come in.’

“I love adventure,” Markus told himself. He turned the handle and  pushed the door open. The room was about 20 feet square, and much brighter inside than outside; several of the glow stones bedecked the walls. A handsome young man stood in the center, dressed in chain mail, and with a broadsword on his hip, looking into the mirror and smiling.  When he heard the door open, he turned to look at Markus.

“Come in, my new friend,” said the stranger. “My name is Tragan, and it was foretold that you would come to help me with my quest.”

Markus stepped into the room. “My name is Markus. What quest are you talking about?”

“This portal leads to an ogre’s lair. I must go through and steal its treasure. Perhaps you would be willing to help me.”

Markus looked at the young fool so eager to rush off and try his luck against an ogre. “Well, what kind of help do you want from me?” he asked.

Tragan thought about it for just a second. “Maybe you could teach me a spell to help me vanquish the ogre,” he suggested.

Markus looked at Tragan dubiously. Something about the handsome rogue bothered him. At first he seemed so eager for help, but he didn’t  really offer very much information. Markus throught about where he was—in the Wizards Guild Dungeon. One of the Guild’s most important rules was DO NOT TEACH MAGIC TO OUTSIDERS AND NON-GUILD MEMBERS. Could this just be a trap to see if he would break the rule?

“I’m sorry, Friend,” said Markus. “I have no idea what spell would help you best, and it is against my vows to share my magical knowledge with others. But, I might be able to help by . . .

Markus was wondering if this magic mirror could be his way out of the dungeon. There was only one way to find out.

“I can’t teach you a spell, Tragan, but I’m willing to go along and help you rob this ogre. What are we waiting for? Let’s go.”

The offer didn’t get quite the reaction Markus was expecting. “You can’t go through the portal with me,” barked Tragan, “not even if we’re holding hands.” The expression of disgusted disappointment on his face was very clear now. “Since you don’t seem very smart, just leave this room. Someone else will come along and help me sooner or later.”

Markus felt his anger starting to rise.

Markus seriously thought about seeing how ready for combat this Tragan fellow really was. A Take That You Fiend spell might teach him a little courtesy. On the other hand, it might just make him mad. He decided to write the whole thing off to experience  and simply leave.

There were three doors in the room. Markus had entered by the one on the north wall, and determined to leave via the one on the south wall. He was already near the center of the room, talking to Tragan. He said, “Good luck with the ogre, Mr. Nimblebrains.”

Then he quickly walked to the south door, pulled it open and stepped through. He found himself in another dimly-lit corridor running north and south. He continued in his southward direction. He walked until he reached another 4-way intersection. Once again he turned left and walked on. When the straight tunnel ended, he turned left again.  This eventually led to a door that blocked his path. Listening proved futile, and when he was ready, he cautiously opened it.

The chamber inside consisted chiefly of a pit that extended from wall to wall blocking his passage. On the far side of the pit about 20 feet away there was another door. Markus stood on a narrow ledge next to a free-standing pole—the kind of pole that would be ideal for tying a rope to, Being a well-equpped young delver, Markus looked in his pack to see what he had for such situations. He found 30 feet of silk rope, a piton hammer, and ten pitons.

Markus moved over to the right side of the room, located a seam in the mortal between stone blocks, took out piton hammer and piton, and pounded the piton into the wall. (12 a.p.) Then he tested it to see if it would hold his weight.  (4 a.p.) The mortar crumbled and the small piece of metal came out of the wall and fell into the pit. Markus almost fell in with it, but managed to catch himself in time.

“This is a stupid idea,” said Markus. He put his pitons and hammer back in his pack. Then he looked at his rope. He could easily tie it to the pole on this side of the pit, but how could he attach it to the pole on the other side of the pit. The rope was made of silk. Light. Extremely strong. He couldn’t throw it worth a darn. It was too light. And he was supposed to lasso the top of a pole higher than his head more than 20 feet away. No. That wasn’t going to happen either.

“This would be easy enough if I could fly,” he muttered. He checked his spell book. No. There was nothing there that would enable him to fly.  “Oh, well, no flying today.”

“Maybe I could just jump across,” suggested his daredevil self.

“And maybe you’d fall short of the other side. It’s a long way down. I think I’ll save that attempt for some time when I’m being pursued by the hordes of hell,” wisely counseled his more prudent self.

That only left one reasonable thing to do—turn around and depart the way he had come. He wandered the halls for a good long time, trying not to retrace his steps. Once he heard what sounded like distant roaring. He didn’t go that way.  Finally, he came to another hall that dead-ended at a door.  He opened the door and found . . . a library.

The walls were lined with shelves, and the shelves held hundreds of books. The door was in the north wall and across from it on the south wall was a marble-framed fireplace containing a cheery fire. Near the fireplace was a large, overstuffed easy chair, the perfect place to sit and read. A lovely mahogany table graced the center of the room, and on the table were various covered containers. Something smelled delicious.

Markus investigated the table and found there were a variety of foods available, and a plate, knife, fork, and goblet. He suddenly felt voraciously hungry. He detected magic of some sort, seemingly all around him in this room.  There was no one else in the room with him.

Markus felt amazingly hungry all of a sudden, but he didn’t trust a meal laid out by someone else.  He reached into his pack, got a couple of strips of lizard jerky, took a swig from his canteen, and gnawed off a bite of meat.  As he chewed on that his hunger came under control, and he began looking at the closest shelf full of books.  He was a bit surprised to see a library in a dungeon, and he wondered what kind of books it would contain.

He closed his eyes, reached out and grabbed a book at random, pulled it off the shelf, and then looked at the cover.  He read the title: Curses, and saw a crudely drawn eye squinting at him.  The eye winked at him. He felt a cold shudder move through his body, felt malevolent magic, and knew that he had just been cursed. However, he had no idea what the curse was.

So much for the idea that reading is good for you!  He hastily dropped the book and kicked it across the room.

Then found himself in the same situation as he was before.

Markus continued to ignore the food. He thought it was a trap. He wasn’t ready to give up on reading yet. Libraries are wonderful places, and he was sure there was a book here for him. He picked another book. This one was called THE WIZARD’S DILEMMA. He settled down in the comfy chair. The tale grabbed him immediately—it was about a young wizard named Slip who indentured himself to a mad philosopher. The philosopher set him on one task after another, each involving some sort of moral choice that Slip had to make. Indeed, the book was written so cunningly that it seemed like Slip could not make a choice until Markus made his.  As Markus read, he felt ever more strongly that Slip’s perilous choices were his own. When he finally finished the book, and the hero, Slip lay dead at the feet of the Mad Philosopher, he felt that he had somehow failed, and that both he and Slip had suffered for it. Slip certainly had.  He had a terrible headache.

(In game terms Markus had to make a L2SR on WIZ.  He rolled a 7. With a WIZ score of 17, and a character level of 1, that would have been just enough to make the saving roll, but Markus is under a curse to miss his next 3 saving rolls. He does not get his level bonus of 1. 17 + 7 = 24. He needed 25. He missed the saving roll.  That’s one.  The effect of missing the saving roll is that he has taken permanent brain damage, but not very much. His INT fell from 33 to 31.)

Markus put the book back on the shelf upside down. He walked around the room and admired the paintings on the walls. He gnawed on another strip of beef jerky. It had been hours since he last ate. He thought about how this room seemed like a place where one could stay forever—if only there was a bathroom attached. Just after he had that thought, he discovered a clean chamber pot, discreetly hidden in a corner.  The room definitely had a magical aura to it. He wondered if that were the trap.  A person could just lose himself in a life of reading in this room.  Hundreds of books, a magical food supply, a comfy chair that one could easily fall asleep in—what more could a person want?

“This is all cozy enough,” mumbled Markus. He had been in this library so long now that he talked just to hear the sound of his own voice, “but I didn’t come down here to get stuck in a library. On the other hand, I am kind of tired. A nap wouldn’t hurt.”

He went over and cast lock tight on the entrance to the room. “No point in letting someone or something surprise me while I’m asleep.” Then he made himself as comfortable as possible in the comfy chair and closed his eyes.  In a short time he fell asleep, and he had a strange dream.

But he couldn’t remember it when he woke up. He felt rested. He took an apple out of his pack and ate it. Then went to the door and cast Knock-Knock to unlock it.  Click. He wet his palm from his canteen and scrubbed the sleep out of his eyes, noting that the canteen was now half empty. He needed to find a safe water source. He could take the wine from the table, but he didn’t trust it. It made him think that someone ought to invent a purify spell for such situations to eliminate drugs, poisons, dirt, etc.

Then he pushed open the door and headed out.

The crowette attacked. Markus didn’t realize it, but he had been secretly hoping for a fight ever since he entered the dungeon. He just had time to point his staff and shout “Take that you fiend!” He visualized a bolt of purple lightning.

And got nothing. (L1SR on INT. Rolled 7. Failed because of the curse) The crowette tore into him in a fury of raking claws, flapping wings, and pecking beak. Markus’s leather armor served him well—indeed it saved his life, but he was still hideously wounded. Blood poured off him from a dozen wounds. (Crowette has a monster rating of 12. 2D6 + 6. Rolled a 5 for a total of 11. Leather armor absorbed 6 hits; thus Markus takes 5 points of damage. His CON drops from 13 to 8.)

His magic had failed him. As the crowette broke free of him and circled up towards the ceiling preparing for another attack, Markus wondered what to do next.

The idea of being knocked down from behind caused Markus to discount the idea of fleeing. Although badly hurt, he didn’t want to be beaten by a crow.  As the huge bird dived at him once again he got ready to smack it with his staff.

(Combat roll: Crowette rolled 2D6 + 6 = 12. Markus rolled 2D6 + 7 = 14.  Markus needed a L1SR on DEX to hit. He did no damage.)

The giant crow nimbly avoided Markus swing, but it did not manage to sink its talons into the wizard that time. As he flailed at it, and missed, Markus felt like a heavy burden was lifted off his spirit. He thought he heard a voice saying “The curse has expired.” But there was no one nearby.

The bird flapped its way back up into the upper reaches of the room again.   It landed on a projecting stone and cocked its head at Markus. The man thought the bird might be actually considering whether to attack again or not.

The crowette perched up near the ceiling on a small outcropping of stone. Markus thought maybe it would leave him alone now, having failed twice to take him down. He could feel himself bleeding, and knew he had to administer some first aid to himself quickly. He pulled off his pack and reached for both bandages and the half a healing potion he had left.

When he took his eyes off the crowette for a second, it attacked again. He had been expecting it, and the harsh caw croaking sound the bird couldn’t help but make also alerted him. He closed his eyes for just a second, visualized the purple lighting, and tried his Take That You Fiend spell one more time. (L1SR on INT to cast. Rolled 8, gets 8 a.p. Succeeds.) Purple lighting shot from his staff to the body of the diving black bird and enveloped it in purple flame. The crowing noise abruptly stopped as the bird died instantly. Its dive fell short, and it impacted the floor at Markus’s feet. (12 a.p. for killing it.)

Markus kicked the bird once just to make sure it was dead. Yep. He then finished digging bandages and healing potion out of his pack, and fixed himself up as best he could. The healing potion brought his Constitution back up to its normal value (13). The bandages and astringent stopped the bleeding.  He ate and drank from his supplies, and rested, and in about two hours he felt ready to go on.

Markus took a crowette feather as a trophy.  Then he headed for the west door.  He walked through an intersection and continued down his narrow corridor until it finally ended in another door. He listened and heard nothing, tried the door, and walked in. The first thing he noticed was a very bright, hot light set in the ceiling far above him. The room was so hot that he immediately broke into a sweat.  In the center of the room was a short pedestal made of an unknown material, but glowing redly—perhaps from the heat. Sitting atop the pedestal was an orange token.

Markus looked at the token. His mentor hadn’t said anything about needing tokens, but he had a feeling that he needed this one. He sensed for magic. The strongest source was the light in the ceiling, but the pillar also seemed a bit more than ordinary. The sweat trickled down his face in hot little streams.

“I’m pretty sure this is a trap of some sort,” Markus mused. “But what can I do about it?

Of the 36 spells that Markus knew only a few of them seemed useful in this situation. Finally he narrowed his choices down to five:

  1. Call Water. Costs 8. Briefly summons a forceful dash of water.
  2. Cloud o Dust. Costs 4. Raises a 10 foot wide cloud of dust, obscuring vision.
  3. Complete Drip. Costs 3. Drops 20 gallons of water on the target.
  4. Spit in your eyes. Costs 2. Produces a drop of mildly stinging liquid in the eye of a foe.)
  5. Call Ice. Costs 8. Briefly summons an icy blast of frost.

Markus had figured out that the token itself was superheated. He cast Complete Drip (10 a.p.) and 20 gallons of water materialized and splashed over the token. A flash of steam arose when the water hit  the hot token. He had hoped that the water would wash the token off the pedestal but that didn’t happen. Perhaps it was stuck or attached to the pedestal in some way. The big splash of water cooled it off for a few moments, but because of the extremely bright light overhead, it started to steam and heated up again immediately.

It occurred to him that he would have to do something about the light overhead. There was some kind of magical reaction going on between the light and the token that produced enough heat to make it glow.  It would certainly hurt him to grab the token while it was red hot. Yes, the light up above was hot, but it couldn’t be hot enough to have that kind of effect without magic being involved.

Markus thought about the trap a bit more, and decided that the Cloud o Dust spell might obscure the light enough to allow him to get the token. He had never thought that spell would be good for anything, and he had a hard time remembering how to cast it, but finally he managed to get it right. (4 a.p.) The room filled with a big cloud of dust, making everything kind of hard to see.

As he approached the token, Markus could see that it was still glowing with heat. It occurred to him that perhaps he could knock the token off the pedestal with his staff, and push it out of the room to get it out of the light, but he decided against trying that. This was meant to be a magical test, and if his instructors were watching him, he wouldn’t get any points with them by figuring out a non-magical way of beating the test.

The Complete Drip spell had seemed to work before, and it was the least expensive of the ways available to cool the token. Markus stood far enough away that no steam would hit him, and cast it again. (7 a.p.) The deluge cooled the token enough for Markus to grab it and stuff it in his pouch.

As the dust settled, he noticed that the room seemed to be heating up again, and he decided to make a rapid exit. He saw a door other than the one he had entered by and headed for it. He came out into another hallway.

Closing the door behind him, he sat down, had a meal and a drink, and rested for more than an hour until his kremm was completely restored. He also examined the token. It was a curious coin made of iron—perhaps it was magnetism that held it to the pillar. Markus had noticed that it was difficult to pull it away from its resting place. One side of the coin had a small picture of a well on it. The other side showed a hill with a fortified village on top.  He wondered if the token had a secret message for him.

Markus continued to wander through the walls until he reached another door. Entering it, he found himself in the exit room. On the opposite wall was a portal, and beyond the portal, a fiery pit. In the wall next to the pit were a number of slots of curious shapes meant to hold tokens. Each slot was a different shape and color.

Also inside the room were five of his classmates. They all seemed to be in a trance. One of them held a piece of paper, and on it was a message.

“We have assembled 8 of the 9 tokens necessary to leave this place. If you have brought the 9th, please insert it in its slot, waken us, and let us all leave together.”

“I do have the ninth,” Markus mumbled. He searched the walls until he found a slot where the token would fit.  Before he put his coin in its place he thought, “I haven’t really seen that much of this dungeon. Perhaps I should just keep the coin and wander around a bit more.”

(Khenn’s commentary: having reached the exit room completely randomly, and learning that you need 9 of a possible 10 tokens to get out, I have to say, Scott, that I consider this challenge way too tough.  Three tokens would be fair; five would be tough but perhaps do-able. Nine out of ten?  Yikes!

By all means, O Ye Elite who love a challenge, be sure to get your own copy of Final Exam. It is mappable, and should make you think a lot. If you manage to find the exit room with any tokens in hand, I do think you should give yourself the option of escaping.)

Markus put his token in the slot designed for it. For a moment nothing happened, and then the portal shimmered and changed. The other side now showed an examination room in the tower of the Wizards Guild.

Markus shook his classmates awake. They snapped out of the trance fairly easily.  Holding hands they all stepped through the portal together. They felt an electrical shock that made every hair on their bodies stand up, and heard a loud zapping noise. The portal vanished behind them.

Old Professor Oinkenwartz had been dozing in his chair. He woke with a start when the loud zapping noise told him that someone had found the way out of the training dungeon. He opened his rheumy old eyes to see Markus and five other students beaming at him.

“Here! What’s this?” he snarled. “You’re supposed to get out one at a time, not in gaggles.”

“Why is that, Sir?” asked Markus. “Don’t you think that cooperation is a viable survival strategy in the outside world?”

“NO!” snarled the professor. “Er, well, um, maybe it could be once in a while, but in my day, we wouldn’t . . .”

The sound of Markus and the other students laughing at him further ruined the old professor’s day.

The end.


For the last few days, members of Trollhalla have been seeing me talk about a new T & T novel that I am thinking about writing.  Scenes and situations have been going off inside my head.  Sometimes I have lain awake for hours in the early morning, mentally writing and imagining parts of the new book. 

The book is to be based on a solo adventure that I wrote back in 2010.  It has been a year since I created it, and I think it is just about ready for publication.  Last week it came to me–in that half waking trance between midnight and morning–that the solo was only a preface to a much better work of fantasy fiction that I could do.  And then, this scene came to me, and played itself out in my mind.  I didn’t get a chance to write anything until I got to school, and then I sat for a couple of hours, creating what you will see here.  I am fairly slow as typists and writers go, but I don’t need a lot of revision either.

The best thing with a novel is probably to keep it to oneself, write it, revise it, and try to get it published.  Mostly, that is what I will do.  However, as I have struggled with this idea over the last week, I have also taunted the members of Trollhalla with hints and questions.  Darrgh Tarrho, and Garrlakk, and Moondragon have seen the solo–nobody else has, so they have some idea of what I’m thinking about.  I hope you all get the chance to read and play the solo before the month is over.  Meanwhile, it is time for me to start getting these ideas out of my head and into written form.  They may not come out in a nice orderly sequence.  The story will probably assemble itself like a jigsaw puzzle, but . . . here is the first scene.

Vvvarrr, the dragon that made Lerotra’hh an immortal.
The art is by Miika Spray, also known as Moondragon, a terrific artist and a valued friend and member of Trollhalla.  I hope she won’t mind me showing the first sign of it here.

********************************************************************

Vvvarrr looked at her new servant, and wondered if this human man was smart enough to be her servant.  The urukin woman, Lerotra’hh, was already an accomplished wizardess when she came to the dragon and offered herself over seven centuries earlier, but this man, this Neth was only a rogue.  Yes, he had daring and courage, but did he have wit?  She decided to test him.

“Thiss iss your firsst tassk as my sservant,” she hissed.  “Give me everything you own.  Jusst put it all on the treassure heap!”

Neth thought it was a very strange command.  The dragon owned so much, and he owned so little.  Why would she want to take that little away from him.  Perhaps it was some kind of test.  He shrugged out of the straps that held his pack, and then swung it off his back, and pitched it onto the treasure heap.  It didn’t contain anything breakable.  Then he unbuckled his sword belt, and lightly tossed it along with the attached sword and dagger onto the pile of gold.  Finally, he turned out his pockets, producing a few gold and silver coins along with a very small folding knife, some string, and a few pieces of flint.  Tossing that bric-a-brac onto the edge of the pile, he turned to face the dragon.  “I think that is everything I own.”

“NO!” Her voice was louder now, with an undertone of menace.  “I ssaid, give me everything you own.

Neth looked at the great green reptile in dismay.  He had just given her everything he owned, right down to the lint in his pockets.  Pockets!  He still had pockets and clothing.  Could she want that too?  She did say everything.  He hastily took off his fur jacket, and tossed it on the pile.  Vvvarrr watched him, and did not say a word.  She just let a bit of steam escape from one of her nostrils.  After the coat he lost his shirt, his trousers, his boots, his loincloth, tossing each item onto the dragon’s pile, until he stood there naked.  He had no rings, no jewelry to add.

“That is absolutely everything I own,” he told her with hands spread wide.

Vvvarrr roared and a jet of flame shot above the rogue’s head.  The sudden heat made sweat pour out of his body.  Her eyes glowed with hellish red light, and her mighty talons clenched and unclenched.  “I tell you for the third and lasst time!” she bellowed.  “GIVE ME EVERYTHING YOU OWN.”

Neth knew that he was failing his new mistress in some way, but he could not think how.  He had given her everything he owned.  And she wasn’t satisfied.  In that moment he knew he was going to die horribly in the next few seconds.  He could see her inhaling.  The next gout of flame would roast him.  What else could the dragon want?  Did she want his hair, his teeth, his immortal spirit?

And then it came to him.  Maybe she wanted all of those things.  Closing his eyes, Neth threw his body on the great pile of treasure, landing spread-eagled and butt up just as a blast of dragonfire blossomed in the place where he had been standing.
“Much better,” purred the dragon.  “You could have ssaved much time if you had done that at the beginning.  Being a sservant iss new to you, but I expect intelligence and obedience from you.  I gave you three chancess thiss time, but it will not happen again.  If you cannot undersstand ssimple commandss, then you are not worthy of immortality–not worthy to sserve me.”

“Yes, mistress,” Neth answered, remaining on his bed of gold.  “I am sorry.  I did not truly understand what you meant.”

The dragon simply glared at him for a while.  He lay quietly and did not dare to look at her.  Then he felt a human hand smack into his buttocks and heard a silvery laugh.  Looking up, he saw the sorceress who had called herself Rav now standing beside him.  “Dress yourself and take your old weapons and gear, but remember that those items as well as you yourself belong to me now.”  She spoke now without a trace of the sibilance that had marked the dragon’s voice.

He quickly put his clothing back on, all except for the heavy coat.  The cavern had grown much too warm for him to need it.

“We must find a place for you to rest,” said Rav.  “Follow me.  I think perhaps the urukin’s old bedding place might serve.”

(to be continued)


Part 4

For several weeks Yorrdamma wandered alone in the woods, living off the land.

 He was now nine years old, and because of Aylgamer’s enchantments, had already

 reached physical maturity, standing about six feet tall and weighing around two

 hundred and fifty pounds. His bones were ogre-hard, and his trollish muscle made

 him twice as strong as a man of similar build. Given the spells he had learned and

 the fighting and brawling skills he had been taught, he was not to be taken lightly in any kind of fight.

So, when one night, he was set upon by a small patrol of SWA consisting of six orcs,

he gave an excellent account of himself, slaying five before their leader finally wounded

 and overpowered him. As the big brawny orc cursed him and prepared to deliver a fatal

 stroke with his sword, an Elf arrow suddenly pierced his thick neck, killing him instantly.

Throwing the body of his foe off, Yorrdamma struggled to his feet. Out of the trees and bushes

 around the scene of the fight came a group of fighters, all applauding him. After cautious

 introductions had been made, they bound up Yorrdamma’s wounds, and took him back to their camp.

This was a small group of mercenary fighters dedicated to making war on Zekrim Gedokrist

 and his evil servants. All of them had been injured, and/or lost friends or loved ones to the

 depredations of the Withered Arm, and were sworn to vengeance. Their chief and leader

 was a wood Elf named Feyanor who was master with the Elf bow. The others included:

 Barlow, a Hobbit Rogue and Assassin; Mikallus, a grizzled veteran of many wars and

 conflicts who was deadly in battle; Hogar, a hulking Berserker and one man wrecking

 crew; and a female half-orc named Zunda, a Rogue both woods wise, and skilled in the

cantrips and hedge magics known to the forest peoples.

When they had heard Yorrdamma’s sad story, and shared their own tales of woe,

 they voted to adopt him into their little company. Yorrdamma’s ability to render

 first aid and healing served him as well as his fighting prowess, and his ability to

 throw a good sized rock like a small cannon ball amazed them. Over the next year

 he served well and faithfully in the group, and was, in turn, taught many useful things

by each of the members. With his eidetic memory he soaked up new knowledge like a

 sponge. For twelve months they labored to kill and harrass the SWA wherever and

 whenever they could, and they became a major thorn in the side of the commander in charge of the area.

Finally, tired of having to report this nuisance to his superiors at Hari-Na-Gregulden,

the commander put together a squad of his best warriors and sent them out to rid him

 of these pests, or not to return! In an ensuing ambush by this large and terrible force,

 Yorrdamma alone was able to extricate himself from the trap and flee. Grieving his slain

 brothers and his sister-in-arms (she had taught him more that just magic and Rogue skills),

 he fled from the friendless and now deadly Fenwood, and headed out onto the great plains

 of Valesia, looking for a city somewhere where he might finally make a life for himself.

Part 5

To understand the world in which Yorrdamma Vrash struggled to survive,

 it is necessary to give a bit of the history of the kingdom of Valesia. This nation

 was founded by the Priest Kings of the City State of Mora who ccnquered their

 neighbor states and united them into a single large kingdom. They then built in

Mora a great temple to their deity Omvar who sent them a stone tablet containing

 laws and spells to ensure their sovereignty.

But, in the far west, the Gedokrist family, who worshipped dark gods,chafed under

 the rule of the of the Valikor monarchs, During the reign of Valikorin VI,

Diskorjia Gedokrist came to Mora and used her dark sorceries to seduce the king.

But, when it was learned that she carried the king’s child, she was forced to flee

back to the fortress on Mount Angwich, and her dreams of becoming the queen of the land were dashed.

Here she festered, full of hate and frustration, and she gave birth to Zekrim Gedokrist whom

 she swore to vengeance. It was also at this time that she began the experiments in Troll husbandry

 that produced Urdammu and eventually, Yorrdamma.

When Zekrim reached maturity he and his mother took their army and set out to attack Mora.

(This was the time when Yorrdamma was born and his mother escaped from the castle).

 Diskorjia’s agents had stirred up much unrest in the nation over the years, and she had

 pursuaded the Duke of the city of Kardyak to attack Mora promising him aid (which never came).

While the army of Mora was off crushing the hapless forces of Kardyak, Zekrim and his host entered

 Mora at night through the vast sewer system beneath the city. They stormed the palace and slew the

 king there. They then took the crown and went to the great temple. No one could be king of Valesia

 unless crowned in the presence of the Holy Tablet. But, Falordin, the High Priest, would not crown

 Zekrim, and, when he received word that the army of Mora was returning in haste, in his rage he

 slew the stubborn priest, and then threw down and shattered the Holy Tablet. Immediately

 the temple was rocked by an earthquake, and with a great peal of thunder the Deva Aramvolt

issued forth from the broken tablet, and smote Zekrim with his rod of Divine Retribution. ” Withered forever

 in dire agony shall remain the arm that dared profane the tablet of Omvar”, said the Angel. He then gathered

up the shards and disappeared.

Zekrim was carried away in great pain by his minions. As they fled from Mora,

 the cavalry of Mora entered the gates in pursuit. Diskorjia stayed to delay them,

but her act cost her her life. Hard pressed, Zekrim’s group fled west, hotly pursued.

But as they climbed the western hills the stricken wizard found enough strength to

 destroy with a Hellbomb Burst the stone dam that held back the lake in the hills above

 the Mora flood plain, and the pursuing cavalry and the city of Mora were overwhelmed

and buried in a sea of mud and debris.

So Zekrim returned, defeated, to his castle which he named Hari-Na-Gregulden,

the House of Bitter Torment. While Valesia broke again into many small city states,

 he tried to relieve the agony of his withered arm, but to no avail. No remedy could

 abate its pain, and, if removed, another like it grew back with terrible pain and suffering.

 Finally Zekrim became a lich, but even this did not win him respite. He then took a vow

 that he would not rest til he had conquered Valesia, and all the world of Kaball, and all creatures suffered as he did.

Thus he gathered his resources and began to create the Servants of the Withered Arm which

 were to cause so much grief and trouble for Yorrdamma and for all the people of the former nation of Valesia

Mad Roy Cram channelling Yorrdamma Vrash

———————————————————————————————————————–

And here I thought that Mad Roy had promised me a short biography of Yorrdamma Vrash.

Apparently, this semi-biblical narrative will go for a long, long time.


Here I continue the strange tale of Yorrdamma Vrash.  Actually, Roy Cram continues it.  Let me emphasize that I, Atroll, am not writing or making this stuff up–I’m just passing it along. 

__________________________________________________________

Yordamma Vrash, part 2

   After Urdammu fled into the forests near Castle Gedokrist she found herself in a place completely foreign to her experience. But, thanks to Aylgamer’s magics she was pretty smart and a troll can eat most anything. She was able to find fruits and berries to subsist on and baby Yorrdamma had his mother’s milk to sustain him. At first her main goal, and a wise one, was to put as much distance between herself and the Castle as possible. She was lucky too, that she did not encounter any large or really dangerous creatures during that that time.   After about a week of hard travel thru the woods Urdammu heard roaring and cries for help. She went to see who was in danger, and in a small clearing, found two Hobbit women in a small tree threatened by a large brown bear.  The bear then made a bad decision and attacked the 8 foot tall 500 pound she troll, and Urdammu made good use of her big ironwood cudgel and dispatched the creature. When the Hobbit men arrived they found their ladies teaching the huge troll how to skin and field dress the bear, while they held the tiny Yorrdamma.  After explanations were made the Hobbits were grateful and invited Urdammu and her child to stay a while with them. While most of their previous experience with trolls had not been good, Urdammu’s intelligence and docile nature to those who did not offer her harm won them over. In the days that followed the big she troll proved to be a huge help to the little folk, helping them with the heavy chores like tilling, and chopping wood and clearing brush. She also kept away large creatures that might otherwise find a Hobbit an easy prey. The Bobbin family decided to take her and her baby in, and she was happy there with them.

The Bobbins consisted of Grandpa Bobbin and his wife, his two sons and their wives, and a boy and girl Hobbit. They lived together in a nice cave which they had made into a comfortable Hobbit hole.  Yorrdamma grew up here in this pleeasnt and peaceful environment, and all were amazed at how quickly he grew (Aylgamer’s meddling made him develop quickly), and they were even more amazed at his amazing memory and intelligence. By the third year he could speak Hobbit and Common tongue and had learned to read (and had memorized) the few books the Hobbits owned. At that point Grandpa Bobbin began to teach the little fellow (who was now as large as an adult Hobbit) all he could. Grandpa Bobbit had delved for a good while as a Rogue and done well. He taught Yorrdamma all he could of the basic Rogue skills. He also taught him, along with the Hobbit children, how to fight with a knife, a sling, and a club. In addition, both Urdammu and Yorrdamma learned to throw rocks from their Hobbit friends who were masters of that skill. In Yorrdamma’s fourth year the Bobbins became friends with an ageing Crone who lived nearby. They helped her with food and with chores she could no longer perform herself due to age. And here Yorrdamma learned his first magics. The Crone was a powerful witch and saw the potential in the little troll. Like Grandfather Bobbin she taught him all she could about the plants of the woods and how to use them for healing and other purposes. She was amazed at how quickly he picked up the knowledge and the ability to use the few spells she was able to show him. Here he learned to cast: Detect Magic, Bug Plague, Got a Match?, Hello Sunshine, Nofeelums, Psychic compass, Spit In Your Eyes, You Clot, and Will-O-Wisp.

   Alas, Yorrdamma and Urdammu could have lived out their days with the Bobbins happily, but the Gedokrist, having failed to overthrow and conquer Valesia, now sent out the Servants of the Withered Arm. And one awful day, when Urdammu and Yorrdamma returned to the Bobbin Hobbit hole, they found it pillaged and ruined, and the Hobbits all dead except for the two youngest Hobbits who had been hidden away by their grandfather when the SWA attacked. Urdammu and her cudgel made short work of the few SWA goons, except for one that escaped. Urdammu realized that they would come back in force, and she gathered her child and the two young hobbits and what they could salvage and fled for the nearest settlement a two day journey away. They tried to talk the Crone into coming, but the old witch sent them on their way. She gave Yorrdamma an old magic wand that had belonged to a wizard friend, and then went back into her little house to prepare a warm welcome for the SWA.

   Thus ended the days of Yorrdamma and Urdammu’s halcyon stay in the woods

Part 3

About a day’s journey to the east of the Hobbit’s home was the small village of Inyerface. Here a few hundred hardy souls made a living from the woods, trading mainly in furs and wood  products. Urdammu and Yorrdamma and the two surviving Hobbits arrived there and were admitted only because the Hobbits had relatives in the town. Urdammu, however, was able to find work moving freight for a local merchant. The people of Inyerface did not trust or like Trolls though, and were not friendly to the big she troll or her offspring. After Urdammu busted a couple heads of locals for teasing and tormenting her son, she joined a merchant’s caravan as a guard and headed east again.

   They finally settled in another stockaded hamlet where an old Wizard had established a trading post and infirmary and dealt in magic goods. The wizard, Boniface, was pleased to gain the services of a Troll since he used small amounts of Troll blood in many of his healing remedies, and he took Urdammu and Yordamma into his house. He was also fascinated by the remarkable differences in these Trolls which did not fit in with the characteristics of any Trolls he was familiar with. Here Yorrdamma began his education in earnest. Boniface and his wife were astonished at the young trolls memory and intelligence and began to teach him spells and other essential skills. Here he was taught Take That You Fiend, Hold That Pose, Knock Knock, Lock Tight, Oh There It Is, Oh Go Away, Vorpal Blade, Dura Spell,  and Poor Baby. He also became adept at making potions and charms.  In addtition, he was educated by a grim old warrior, whom he tended and helped heal, to fight with two knives at once, and got a thorough education in the nasty art of Brawling which stopped the locals from teasing and annoying him. Soon the yound Troll was a full fledged member of the infirmary’s healing staff and an expert in first aid and treatment of all kinds of diseases and injuries.  In the four years he spent here he reached a height of five feet and weighed a stocky two hundred pounds.

But Zekrim Gedokrist continued to work his evil on the world, and one dark day, the Servants of the Withered Arm fell upon Boniface’s little community and overran it. Yorrdamma was not present as he had left early in the morning to gather herbs and plants for his medicines in the woods, but Urdammu and Boniface and the rest of the town fought desperately. As Urdammu battled furiously with her great cudgel, a wizard entered the fray and attacked Boniface with his spells. Urdammu recognized this new foe as Aylgamer, the one who had made her and her son. Boniface managed to disspell Aylgamer’s shield spell but was overcome by his vicious response. However, his back was turned on the field as he throttled the old wizard, and Urdammu took a large round stone the size of an orange from her belt pack and threw it with great force. The Hobbit’s teachings and years of practice served her well; the stone embedded itself in the back of Aylgamer’s skull. Thus perished the evil monster maker of Castle Gedokrist.  Urdammu fought bravely on, and was the last to fall in this battle, using an orc as a club as the rest dragged her down, pierced by many weapons.

   When Yorrdamma returned he was horrified to see what had happened. There were only a few orc SWA still there looting the ruins. They attacked the young Troll wizard and he dispatched them with his powerful spells and his flashing blades. Then he found his mother surrounded by heaps of the SWA whom she had slain. She opened her eyes and smiled at her son, then died in his arms. He had exhausted his kremm fighting the orcs and could not help her, and he wept bitter tears of grief, Later, as he stood before the cairn under which he laid her body, he swore an oath that some day, some how, he would make Zekrim Gedokrist regret that he had ever been born. Them he gathered his meagre belongings together and headed east again, making his lonely way in an unfriendly world.

 to be continued


The following strange tale comes to me from a member of Trollhalla, one Roy Cram by name.  Back in the day he published a couple of solo dungeons with Flying Buffalo.  He mentions places I’ve never heard of, and mating practices that seem unlikely to say the least.  He seems somewhat confused, but I’ll let him tell his tale.  The troll mother he describes must be one of the fleshy trolls and not a true rock troll as rock trolls do not mate and reproduce in the fashion he describes.  Aside from that I suppose we should believe most of this delirium–after all, we do actually have Yorrdamma Vrsash himself as proof that some sort of miscegenation produced him.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

combination Goblin and Troll--guess at the appearance of Yorrdamma Vrash.

Yorrrdamma Vrash’s story part one

Oh Great Khenn Arrth:  I, Yorrdamma Vrash, crave Your attention. Attend me I beg you. Here,  on this crude stone altar that I raised, I offer You the life blood of this Goblin who, with his companions, now dead, tried to murder me as I rested here in the midst of the Mistywood (Sound of squealling cut short by the Whack! of a Sax severing a neck). Long I have wished to tell my story, and since the recent battle with the goblin thieves has made sleep impossible, I now propose to narrate the tale of my life. May it please You to hear it.

If not, You are a Deity, and can do as You please. If I displease You, pray do not smite me.

Ignore me if I am beneath or unworthy of Your notice, but my life passes burning through my memory now, and tell the tale I must, if only to these four dead Goblins and these mist enshrouded trees.

Yorrdamma was born in the Troll warrens beneath Castle Gedokrist on Mount Angwich. This was in the days before Zekrim Gedokrist buried the great city of Mora beneath a sea of mud. It was in this time that the Gedokrist was busy raising a huge army to make war on his half-brother, King Valikorum of Valesia. Zekrim was determined to have a large contingent of Trolls in his army for ‘shock’ troops. Since the hill and rock trolls of this region were unruly and mostly opposed to serving as his vassals, Zekrim assigned the wizard Aylgamer to ‘recruit and train’ a group of Troll soldiers. To this hard task Aylgamer diligently applied himself.  He rounded up a large number of trolls and began to ‘train’ them, using magic and harsh discipline. In addition he started a series of experiments in selective and magic enhanced breeding to produce a creature more suitable than the rough and hard to control feral Trolls. His efforts began to create a race of Trolls that were smarter, tougher (!), more tractable, and able to sustain exposure to sunlight. All seemed to be going well.

Yorrdamma’s mother was one of the first generation progeny using Rock Trolls. She was impressive physically and relatively docile, but smart enough not to let on to her masters that she was a good deal smarter than they thought she was. When she reached the age of bearing young she was impregnated with Troll semen laced with traces of magically enhanced human, Ogre, and Demon seed.  Her gestation proceeded at a rapid pace, and Yorrdamma came into the world early and unattended. He was tiny and ugly, a ‘runt’ troll or Trollish equivalent to a human dwarf. But Urdammu’s heart was overwhelmed with love for this tiny ugly helpless creature. She had seen the progeny of her Troll sisters removed from them at birth, and knew that this babe would go straight to the kitchen to enrich some pot of stew. This was the first thing in her life that she felt really truly belonged to her. So, when Aylgamer’s Orc assistants saw she had borne offspring and tried to take the whelp from her, she tore the arm off the first and beat the second one to death with the bloody end of the amputated limb.

Now at this time Zekrim was mustering his army for the assault on Valesia and there was much confusion in the camp.  Urdammu wrapped her baby in a blanket, put him in a box of supplies, found a big cudgel and took off through the camp looking like she had business to attend to. She left in her wake, with crushed heads, a couple of orcs who dared to try and hinder her with questions, and made it to the woods before her escape from the warrens was noticed and an alarm raised.

This is the end of part one – part two to follow soon.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Here the narrative breaks off, although the writer has promised me more of this weird tale.  Note the antique language–orc instead of uruk, also the antiquated notion that gods require blood sacrifices.  In these modern times blood isn’t that much good to us.  Money is the sacrifice we really want from our followers.

Well, we will see what comes of Yorrdamma Vrash’s autobiography.

end

 


Strictly speaking this is not a Delvers Tale, but it is partially about stories, and thus fits better here than in Atroll’s Entertainments.  This blog is a commercial in which I am going to try and get you to buy something from me.  If you’re not interested in even thinking about buying stuff from me, stop reading now.  Nobody is twisting your arm here.  (Grin).  (I mean, if I could send a giant troll to your house to twist  your arm and get you to buy my stuff, I totally would do it, but that’s not possible.)

The glowing demons just kept coming at the black-armored knights of Mandrikor.

Trollhalla Deals  #1

Trollhalla Deals is an occasional publication by me, Ken St. Andre, in which I try to find good homes for some of the material I have lying around the house.  This material should be of interest to anyone who feels that my writings are in any way worth reading or collecting, and probably not of much interest to anyone else.  It also contains some miscellaneous Tunnels & Trolls material by other people.  I am selling it to get some material to support Trollhalla activities (such as paying the artists for their work in Trollhalla Press publications), and to find good homes for the material among my friends.  No one is under any influence to buy anything here that you don’t really want.  This is the October 2011 edition of Trollhalla Deals.

 

Auction Items

Auction Rules:  Send your bid for any of the items listed below to me at: kenstandre@yahoo.com.  Payment is usually through paypal.com, but you may pay by check, money order, or cash.  I will estimate a cost for postage when I tell you that you won the item.  If anyone outbids you, I will tell you what the high bid is and give you a chance to beat it.  If you are high bidder, I will tell you.  Any competing bid must beat the previous high by at least $1, and I urge you all to work in integral multiples of $1—let’s not monkey around with bids like $3.42.

  1. 1.       The Amulet of the Salkti (T & T solo #20) designed by David Steven Moskowitz.  Front cover by Stephan Peregrine; interior illustrations by Michael Kucharski.  A Flying Buffalo Blade Production.  First Printing.  October 1984.  37 p.  condition: very good.  Starting bid: $5.
  2. 2.      The Sorcerer’s Scrolls issue 37.  A gaming fanzine produced by Tori Bergquist in 1991.  Tori is a member of Trollhalla where he goes by the name of Tyrrrannosaurrr.  There is some T & T material in the zine including this quote which seems kind of funny 20 years later.  “There has been some talk, most speculation, going on about the possibility of producing the mythical 6th Edition of T & T (A T & T: the right choice . . .)  It is my advice that all great fans of the game and devout die-hards (all nine of us) should write to Rick Loomis at Flying Buffalo, P.O. Box 1467, Scottsdale, AZ 85252.  Believe me, folks; T & T, as fun a system as it is, needs a good shot in the arm (or swift kick in the butt) to get it in step with modern times, and a 6th edition is the way to go.”  This issue also contain material by Trollhalla members Rrramberrrt and Kroommmp (Dan Lambert and Steve Crompton)  38 p.  illus.  Condition: excellent.  Starting bid: $5.
  3. 3.      Photocopy version of Deathtrap Equalizer Dungeon spiral bound in green cardboard endpapers.  Fiendishly designed by the justifiably infamous Ken St. Andre, Outstandingly illustrated by the artistically imaginative Liz Danforth, modestly produced by the humanitarian folks at Flying Buffalo, Inc.—A Cosmic Circle Production.  First edition.  Copyright January 1977.  The cover has a note in my handwriting: “Ken St. Andre—Corrected Copy”  However an examination of the interior fails to reveal any obvious corrections.  The pages are one-sided.  Liz’s illustrations are somewhat washed out—the heavy blacks didn’t come through at all.  Condition: Good.  Starting bid:  $5.
  4. 4.      Buffalo Castle.  2nd edition.  Designed by Rick Loomis from an idea by Steve McAllister; cover and illustrations by Liz Danforth.  Flying Buffalo, solitaire adventure #1 for Tunnels and Trolls.  13 p.  copyright 1982, 1976.  Condition:  Perfect.  Starting price: $5.
  5. 5.      Strength.  June 1998.  (This isn’t T & T at all.  It is the masters for a personal zine I was doing back in 1997 and 1998 for the Tarot amateur press association.  8 p.  It is based on an idea I’ve been espousing for the last 20 years called Found tarot (i.e. tarot images are pervasive within out culture and can be found in many different places).  It features an original short story called Arcane’s Journal: The Four of Coins by me.  The story went out to members of my Crossover Earth superhero writing group back in 1997 or so, but has not been seen elsewhere.  I am thinking of transcribing it and putting it on the web in one of my blogs—I hate to waste my creative impulses.  Condition: some corners are bent, but otherwise good.  Starting Price:  $5.
  6. 6.      Oracle, science fiction and fantasy anthology magazine, vol. 1, no. 1.  About 32 p.  c.1982.  This isn’t strictly T & T either, but there is a T & T connection or two.  This was a startup fantasy zine in 1982—a paying market that never made it as a continuing magazine.  I was honored to be part of the first issue along with: Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Daniel Gilbert, Eve Linkletter, Bruce Boston, Michael Stackpole, Terry L. Persun, and Dave Lillard.  My story was called “Mandrikor” and it is my favorite of all the swords and sorcery stories that I ever wrote.  Earlier this year in February, I adapted my Mandrikor story into a G.M. adventure for Tunnels and Trolls, and I ran it twice this year—the first time for Lezzirf and Trrrommm at DundraCon in February.  Stackpole’s story—The God of Thieves–is also fantasy and has a very T & T like feel to it.  One is a slightly faded news stand edition, and the illo from my story is on the back cover.  The other is a coffee-spotted free author’s copy and the illo from my story is on the front cover.  The interiors are identical, but one was splashed with coffee which I hurriedly wiped off.  Starting price: $3 for each one.  Specify which you are bidding for. 

 

Store Items

The following items are T & T things that I have that I would like to pass on to other homes, but do not believe them to be worthy of auction.  Many of them are Outlaw Press items produced by James Shipman during the years in which he was a member in good standing of Trollhalla.  These items have a fixed price.  Take it or leave it.  20% of the money raised by selling these items will be donated to Grumlahk’s Transplant Fund.

  1. 1.       Troll Quest, a T & T Monsters! Monsters! Solo, by James L. Shipman and Jack Spencer Jr.; edited by Brian Penn & Jack Spencer, Jr.  (originally developed by Alan LaVergne.)  Muse help by Thomas K. Loney.  Etc.  22 p.  The art looks like clip art, but is skillfully inserted.  <No copyrights, no trademarks 1st edition, May 1st, 2001>  Condition Excellent.  Price:  $5.
  2. 2.      The Hobbit Hole Magazine #6. (4 copies).  42 p.  profusely illus.  This T & T zine was produced in May 2006 and contains material by several Trollhalla members including: Andy Holmes (The Ice Cavern of Isahill—mini solo dungeon) and Mike Hill (The Dungeon of the Rat) and Tom Loney and Christina Lea (Kopfwerks).  Condition: Excellent.  Price:  $5.
  3. 3.      The Hobbit Hole Magazine #13 (1 copy).  March 2008.  88 p.  Color covers.  Profusely illus.  Contains material by Trollhalla members Rob Lotze, Ken St. Andre, Dalton Calford, Andy Holmes, Tim Labor, Mike Hill, Jon Hancock, Jeff Freels, Gynn Stella.  This is very high quality work, probably some of the best that Outlaw Press ever did, but there is reason to believe Jim was already using appropriated artwork.  Price: $10.
  4. 4.      Tunnels and Trolls Free RPG Day Handout 2007.  (Many copies).  Features a short version of the T & T rules.  A reprint of Goblin Lake, the first mini-solo by Ken St. Andre designed for a goblin protagonist with the original interior illos by Liz Danforth.  A great original Goblin Lake painted front cover by Simon Tranter. (Ramsen Triton of Trollhalla).  Condition: Like new.  No.  not free from me any longer, although I will give one to anyone who pays the Trollhalla Troll tax for 2011.  Price:  $3.
  5. 5.      Strange Destinies; written by Ken St. Andre, Covers by David Schumacher and Jarek Gach; interior illustrations by Jeff Freels; edited by Mari Volmar.  Outlaw Press, c2007.  24 p.  This solo dungeon never should have been included with the 7.5 version of the T & T rules—it is much too difficult for beginners.  The intro says it is “written for warriors only: big warriors.  Rock Trolls, Ogres, and Balrukhs are the recommended kindreds.”  Condition: Like New.  Price:  $10.
  6. 6.      The Hobbit Hole Magazine #16.  (1 copy).  July 2009.  Color covers.  Profusely illus.  Contains material by Trollhalla members Brian Penn, Andy Holmes, Robert Lotze, Ken St. Andre, Tom Loney, Andy Holmes, Dan Hembree, David Crowell, Mari Volmar, and Jeff Freels with additional material by other people.  This is a very high quality production, but may contain appropriated artwork.  Condition:  Like new.  Price:  $10.
  7. 7.      The DewDrop Inn; (many copies) imagined and written by Ken St. Andre; illustrated and tweaked by David Ullery; with a sexy succubus by Katje Romanov; interior covers by Robin Stacey.  Trollhalla Press, copyright August 2011.  72 p.  Conditon: New.  Price:  $12.
______________________________________________
If this method of redistributing stuff from my collection to yours works at all, there will probably be a Trollhalla Deals #2 in a couple of weeks.  If it flops, this page will probably be deleted from the internet forever.  Today is September 30, 2011.  The auction part of this page is definitely out of date by October 7, 2011.  The store part may be valid after that date, but definitely query me first before sending any money.  I can be reached at kenstandre@yahoo.com, and I don’t care who knows it.  
–Ken St. Andre

Liz Danforth's picture of a goblin in goblin Lake has always been the way I visualized these little 2D6 monsters.

Sixteen is a good number for Goblins–they like to run in packs, and 16 is a good monster rating for them, too.  A monster rating of 16 gets the goblin 2D6 + 8 combat adds–average combat roll around 15.  Almost any first level T & T fighter can beat a single goblin in a fight, but 16 of them at a time might be a bit much.  Time for strategy, tactics, and a quick retreat if you meet 16 Goblins at one time.

In 5th edition, Level 16 magic is for anti-magic spells and Exorcism.

16 is the Dexterity required to use heavy bows in combat effectively.  It is also the Strength needed for a hand and a half sword–sometimes called a bastard sword.  They called it that because they hated what it, not because they couldn’t find its father.

Sixteen is also for sweet 16–a very good age to start role-playing.

If you have some sweet 16s to add about Tunnels and Trolls, please put them in the comments below, and come back tomorrow to see if I have anything for 17 in Tunnels and Trolls.

–end


The Troll's treasure hoard.

Fifteen is for the Troll’s Hoard in Trollstone Caverns.  TC is the short GM adventure that I wrote for 5th edition T & T.  While much of the text in 5th edition actually came from Liz Danforth, the Trollstone Caverns is all mine.  The map has 18 key locations, but location 15 is the deepest point, and the spot where any adventurers are most likely to get good loot.

Fifteen is a number widely used in the weapons tables of the 5th edition.  Medium self bows and medium longbows both require a DEX of 15 to use them.  I took 2 semesters of archery a million years ago when I was in college.  It’s harder than it looks.  Really light bows don’t have much penetrating power.  Heavier weapons that take more strength to draw tend to wobble.  Modern bowmen all want to be sharpshooters–too much of the Robin Hood legend, I think.  Ancient and medieveal bowmen didn’t worry so much about shooting straight.  They were grouped in companies, and they laid down barrages of arrow fire by making high arcing shots.  The bow was the artillery of its time.

15 is also the number of weapon adds that all the early forms of pistols get in combat.  If your character gets shot with a gunne in T & T, he/she is gonna get hurt, and hurt pretty bad.

Yes, there are guns in Tunnels & Trolls. They are rare, but deadly.

There is one 15th level spell in 5th edition T & T.  Air, Earth, Fire, and Water allows the caster to conjure an elemental to use as a servant for 5 game turns.  Its monster rating will equal the total of the caster’s attributes times two.  That will usually generate a humongously powerful servant.  300 years later in 7th edition T & T, this spell has been lost.

If you can think of any other fine fifteens used in Tunnels and Trolls, please list them in the comments below, and come back tomorrow to see what I can do with sweet Sixteen.

–end


Oz, the god wizard of the land of Oz. Being a god can be a lot of work.

Fourteen is for fortnight–a term never once used in Tunnels and Trolls.

Fourteenth-level Spells and Beyond: Spells of 14th level and higher are not sold by the Wizards Guild in the Empire of Khazan.  There are rumors that they can be learned from the Nagas, but they are generally considered to be god-level magic and should be distributed only at the discretion of the GM.

Which leads me to talk for a little bit about god-level wizards.  Originally, there were no gods postulated for Tunnels and Trolls.  The game developed in a religious vacuum.  As far as I know, no human society yet has ever existed without the idea of gods.  The gods might be benevolent, malevolent, or indifferent, but there were always gods.  On some basic level, people need to believe in powers greater than themselves.  They need explanations for such questions as “why is there lightning?”

Well, we all know the answer to why questions.  The answer is because.  There is lighting because Zeus is throwing thunderbolts at things on Earth.  Or if not Zeus, then Thor.  How can they be powerful enough to hurl lighting?  They can do it because they are gods.

On Earth we made up gods to explain the unexplainable.  In Trollworld, there are people–wizards–who can do unexplainable things.  They can fly.  They can cast lightning bolts.  They can disappear and reappear in different places.  These people are wizards–magic users.

And some wizards are clearly more powerful than others.  Some wizards like Gristlegrim or Loopo the mad mage are so powerful that they have created whole new races/kindreds to be their people.  Gristlegrim literally made the Dwarves of Trollwold.  He carved them from stone and brought them to life.  Loopo made the uruks.  He warped and twisted the basic nature of elves into a vile parody.  Yet, elves and uruks can mate–Lerotra’hh, the Death Goddess of Khazan, is one such example of what happens when such a mating takes place.

Wizards who have learned to transcend any imaginable limits of power are known as god-wizards.  They can do anything.  They use the natural kremm energy of Trollworld itself to get their effects.  The only ones who can oppose them are other god-wizards.

You should have noticed that I’ve avoided giving these so-called god-wizards any other supreme titles.  None are known as all-wise, all-loving, all-evil.  That is because they are not supreme gods–not even real gods.  They are just beings of such power that they might as well be considered to be gods.  Some of them even think of themselves as gods.

They aren’t gods.  There are no true gods on Trollworld.  There are, however, a lot of god-wizards.

That’s all 7th edition theology, or lack of it.  There is a 14th level of spells in 5th edition T & T, though it only has one spell.  Force Shield is the 14th level spell in the old days.  A force shield is a wall of colored light that cannot be penetrated by any lower-level magic or weapons.  The wizard can shape and move the Force Shield as he wishes.

Fourteen is used frequently in the weapons tables as STR or DEX requirements for various hard to manage weapons.

If you can think of any notable uses of 14 in T & T, please add them in the comments below.  And come back tomorrow to see if there is anything good to be said about the number 15.

end