4Ward/FrankenFourth: Age of Worms, Episode 102

  • Adair (level 2 elf war cleric)
  • Hedris (level 2 gluttonous cambion warlord)
  • Humal (level 2 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Sumia (level 2 elf rogue)

After using the alchemist's frost to dispose of the brown mold, the party proceeded to examine the workroom. Two things stood out among the tables, vices, pottery wheels, and stone blocks of various types.

The first was a statue of a bare-chested, bald humanoid wielding a notched staff. Hedris approached it, and when it did not attack he adjusted the staff in its grip, assuming that the notches meant something. When still nothing happened, he took the staff: it was sturdy and perfectly balanced, making it an ideal weapon.

The other item of note was a black, egg-like object perched atop a pillar that was made of an unknown, red metal. Despite the fact that he could not sense magic emanating from either the pillar or egg, Humal advised against disturbing them, and the party left to investigate the underground level underneath the green lantern.

The final hallway lead to a broad staircase that descended into a chamber that was almost completely flooded with dark, filthy water. Hoping to find treasure, but fearing a monster lurking about, Hedris volunteered to go with a rope tied around his waist: if they felt any tugging, Adair and Humal would pull him back. Sumia followed, carrying a torch as best she could above the water to provide light.

As expected, something was waiting for them. It struck at Sumia first, dragging her under and extinguishing the torch. She frantically kicked about, but strong currents battered her against the wall and square pillars. Fortunately, she was able to maintain her grip on the rope; Hedris grabbed her, and with Adair and Humal's help they pulled her back to the stairs and out of the water.

A hand shot out and clutched one of Sumia's legs, pulling her back in. Humal rushed forward to help, but a women seemed to materialized from the water, and with a gesture of her hand conjured a powerful torrent that bowled Humal over. Adair stepped in and struck her with his maul, and though his blow demolished most of her head she remained standing, manipulating the water so that it flowed into Adair's lungs.

Fortunately, before the woman could drag Sumia back in or drown Adair, Hedris ran her through with his sword. Her body dispersed into water, and the tumultuous pool became still.

Unfazed, Hedris and Sumia returned to the room, confident that there wasn't another creature lurking about. They found only one open room. It was small, with stone benches and shelves carved into the walls, similar to what they'd found before. A corpse floated near the center. Hedris examined it as best he could, and discovered both that it had been partially eaten and was clutching the red lantern.

Hedris and Sumia swam around the perimeter of the room, and found only two other closed stone doors. Not wanting to risk stumbling upon whatever had gnawed on the corpse, they returned to the rest of the party with their find.

The party returned to the sarcophagus room and placed the red lantern on the only empty hook. When nothing happened, they tried rotating the sarcophagus again. When it pointed to the indigo lantern, another elevator rose from the floor. It seemed functional, but when they inspected it saw a demolished skeleton inside.

During the rotation they had seen a skeleton piled underneath the blue lantern; Adair suggested gathering up the bones and hurling them in the elevator, to see if they would also be crushed, but as he collected them noticed that the legs were shattered, as if from a great fall. He looked up, and saw that the lantern chain vanished into the darkness above. He climbed the chain, and found that it led to a passage high above the rest of the tomb.

The rest of the party climbed the chain and moved slowly down the hall, wary of a trap that might push them over the edge: Adair tapped the floor with his hammer, Humal scanned for magical energies, and Hedris and Sumia just kept their eyes peeled. They eventually arrived at a long, wide chamber. A thin walkway spanned it, leading to a massive, metal vault door, and numerous iron spheres haphazardly filled the lower part of the chamber.

Adair tried straddling the walkway and slowly scooting across, but once he was about halfway the entire room shuddered to life, and iron sphere began shooting across the room from formerly concealed openings in the walls. The frequency and location was seemingly random, but when he realized that none were shooting beneath the walkway, flipped underneath and kept going.

When he made it across he realized that the door had no levers, knobs, or even any keyholes. Assuming they were hidden, he called Sumia over, but when she hopped into the ball pit four skeletons emerged and clumsily advanced upon her. At this Hedris and Humal also jumped in, while Adair slowly scooted his way back.

When the skeletons were destroyed, Sumia investigated the door and confirmed that it could not be opened from their side. She then examined the walls around it, and found a loose stone panel. Underneath was a complex series of glowing runes. Humal examined them, and believed that they could be defaced in such a way as to disable the trap. He tried explaining the process to Sumia, but at some point she erred, causing the runes to explode.

The explosion flung them across the room and rendered them both unconscious. Adair patched them up, but after Hedris helped haul Humal and Sumia both out of the pit, he spotted a short, ghostly form standing in the hall. It looked to be a boy, in his early teens, though his neck and been clearly broken.

After a long pause, Adair crouched down, displayed his empty hands, and asked the ghost-child who he was. The ghost introduced himself as Alastor, and inquired as to what they were doing here. Adair explained that they were trying to get through the door. Alastor said that he could open it, but wanted a favor, first: his bones returned to his family.

Adair agreed, and after the bones were collected they rested until Humal and Sumia regained consciousness, after which he informed them about their agreement. The party left the tomb and followed the directions Alastor provided them to his home. The house was dilapidated, with sections of the room and walls caved in: it had clearly been abandoned for some time.

Four gravestones stood in the yard, in front of open, empty pits. Wheelbarrow tracks lead to and away from the graves, which caused Adair to immediately suspect necromancers. While everyone else deliberated as to whether they would need to find the rest of the bones to satisfy Alastor, Sumia decided to explore the house.

Most of the furnishings were gone, and what remained remained were damaged beyond repair. She continued to poke about anyway, but just as she stumbled across a pale, tattooed arm, an owlbear emerged from the darkness and swatted her through one of the walls.

When she regained her feet, Sumia ran and took cover behind a tree. While Adair and Hedris did their best to stab and clobber the owlbear without getting mauled to death, Humal used his magic to daze and distract it, and Sumia sniped at it with arrows. When it finally fell, Hedris noticed other wounds, suggesting that someone else had tried to kill it already.

Another owlbear emerged from the house, this one comparatively tiny, which meant that it was about the size of a large dog. An owlbear cub, and they had just killed its mother. Maybe. They weren't too sure about owlbear genitalia. At any rate, it nuzzled up against Sumia, making soft hooting noises. Sumia didn't ask if she could keep it, she demanded to.

Design Notes
Again, everyone is really enjoying the game. The party is now level 2, and the only thing I need to worry about so far is expanding the enchanter and illusion tree since Humal is all about those things. I might end up changing wizards to be actually Vancian, allowing them to load and use one spell per encounter, but for now they have talents based on schools, and exhaust themselves with their magic (similar to magic from the Dresden Files series).

Got a chance to try out the Lingering Injuries chart, with Sumia taking -1 to attack rolls, and Humal suffering a -10 to Speed until they rested for a few days (which was pretty tame, given that permanent injuries are on the table). Simple, and it actually made an impact during the owlbear fight: Humal could only hobble about, and Sumia's arrows weren't as accurate.

Also getting a chance to try out multiclassing, with Sumia taking a level of ranger for the Beast Companion talent.

Here are some of the The Whispering Cairn changes (which means if you want to play through it, or your DM wants to run it, stop reading):

Everything is pretty much the same up until the sarcophagus room, though I changed the worth of the elven armband to be only like 50 silver pieces (since this game uses a silver standard). In hindsight it should be some kind of Vaati trinket (why the fuck does someone have elven jewelry in an air elemental tomb), but I didn't think of it until just now.

Originally the sarcophagus was trapped with a burning hands spell. and nothing else. This is kind of confusing, because these guys are air elemental-ish creatures, and you can just sleep off burning hands damage without any problems.

The sarcophagus is now trapped so that, if opened, a powerful gust of wind knocks everyone back (possibly dealing damage and knocking them prone), and releases a wind warrior (maybe damaged or "crude", thereby having reduced hit points). This way, the characters can get a taste of one before their eventual encounter at the end of the adventure, Makes more sense, and is more interesting.

I changed the small earth elemental to a gnome. Not a Dungeons & Dragons gnome, but an "actual" gnome. It can speak Common, so characters could feasibly interact with it (as opposed to Terran, which pretty much no one is going to know how to speak). I also changed the small water elemental to an undine, giving it the ability to conjure jets of water with a drown effect.

I had the ghoul in area 21 locked himself in the room by sealing a stone door: this way the "insane" elemental couldn't just kill him, which it certainly would since it can sense anything in the water, and is insane. Also, there's a chance he might be cool with the party for killing the undine, giving him a chance to escape. They could talk to him, possibly learning a bit more about the tomb.

Buuut, the party didn't even bother checking the other doors once they found the red lantern. Since easy access to lot of predictable magic and magic items aren't assumed, there are no everburning torches, and wizards are very unlikely to be able to conjure magical light, I'm thinking that the room should only be mostly submerged. Say, 5-10 feet deep, so characters can still get pulled underwater.

I ditched Alastor Land's entire ridiculous, artificial, flat fucking monologue. Instead I had him, you know, act and talk like a sad, scared, lonely teenager, and it organically reached a conclusion where he offered to open the door if they first dropped off his bones.

A Sundered World is out!

The Monk is now available. It's a very flexible class, crammed with nearly thirty advanced moves (plus all the other extra content that we're known for), so we made another tweak to our character sheet layout in order to make it easier to remember what stance is active, and what it does.

Grave Goods is the latest magic item compilation in our 10+ Treasures line. If you want nearly 30 undead-themed magic items, some monsters, and advice on how to make your own, pick it up!

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out! Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance! Finally, we've updated If These Stones Could Scream.


  1. I linked to this post in my blog today. I thought you'd like to know. :)


  2. @Dither: Hey there! Thanks for the link. Have you actually played Age of Worms before?

    One thing of note is that we're not really doing 4E, but a kind of amalgamation that someone has described as more like BECMI D&D, with a sprinkle of 4E on top.

    If you're interested in taking a look at the alpha doc, lemme know! Always curious what other gamers think about what we're doing!

    1. You're very welcome! :)

      I gathered, after I did some poking around, that you were using a 4e hack of some sort. I am interested, being a design nerd, and would like to review your doc if you've made generally/publicly available.

      It's easier for me to point at things and say I like this or that if it's somewhere I can point . . . to. And if you haven't made it available yet, no worries! :)


  3. @dither: Awesome! It's not "publicly" available, but if you want to look at it, hit me up at antiochcow@gmail.com and I'll send you a Google Drive link. :-D


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