Thursday, 29 October 2020

Belswick interlude - One Question for Hell

"What the fuck happened to your family's armor and shield?"
"Black ooze. Don't ask."

In which my wife and I meet up with Tilly's player on a lazy Saturday to play their haven turns. This mini session of Belswick: heresy, devilish contracts, saying no to promotion, and sending the littlest paladin to Hell.

Last session in Belswick, the party made bone meal out of Xiximanter the lich, earning level 7 and two solid haven turns for all their trouble. This is how Tilly the cleric and Shams the eldritch knight spend that time:

TILLY convinces Baltoplat the Succubus (liberated from Xiximanter's tomb) to serve as his confidant and agent. Baltoplat will assume the guise of Moira the Mouseling nun of the Order of the Scroll and act as caretaker for Tilly's orphanage-cum-spy-school in Crossroads.

The price: one soul freely given for each year of service, or four souls captured through Tilly's infernal Soul Coin, or the contract is void and the devil is free to act as she please. The pair sign an infernal contract and tear it into two halves, each of which heals into the full text; Baltoplat hands one to Tilly and the other to a little notary imp in a monk's frock. If Tilly wants more services - like learning how to summon devils or binding imps, he will have to pay extra.

Then in a dark, dark rite, Tilly uses necrotic power to shear off his left hand, grafting on the Hand of the Betrayer instead. As a nice aside, this desecrates the old cemetary north of Crossroads, allowing entrance to his buddy Jacques Cousteau the Ghoul.

SHAMS returns to the neighbouring fief Witmarrow, where her Dwarf compatriots have built up a fortified trade house above an underground vault and barracks. From here they will trade advanced siegecraft and alchemy to Duchy Belswick in return for food and basic materials. Shams' aunt Tole arrives to stone shape-caulk any leaks in the cellar - and to tell Shams that she's done well, congrats, now accept a glitzy position as captain of a company on the Dwarves' Great Trek Down.

Shams, however, is very ready to turn her back on her race's mad dash into the depths: she wants to stay topside. Together with Tole she hatches a plan to be inducted into the loreseekers of Tole's Marble Library, which will give her an honourable way to stay in the sunlands. We run-skip past difficult discussions with Shams' family in the underground city of Holderhek and her oath of allegiance to the Marble Library.

On Tilly's behalf, Shams talks to the surface dwarf Doravik, a red-bearded miner from Copperstone contracted to get all the worked stone out of the Tomb of the Serpent Kings to build a wizard tower and other fortifications. Doravik is apprehensive at first when he sees the noble dwarf from the deep kingdoms, but warms up a bit after Tilly tells him that the knight actually likes it topside.

SHAMS AND TILLY catch up and discuss all the heretical things they've learned in the Tomb of the Serpent Kings. Tilly warns the Dwarf that this knowledge is enough to get her on the pyre and into Hell which is why he's been keeping it to himself. The Dwarf, however, wants to know what she's in for with this party. Tilly teaches her the Du'van tongue and she learns the following about the Tomb of the Serpent Kings:

  • built by the long-dead Du'van (Serpent Folk) after they fucked up invading Heaven and killed the Creator. The top god is now an angel calling itself the Authority who set up the system of Hell and sin to keep souls from overrunning his meager excuse for a heavenly city. Many current-day devils and demons were hatched after the fall and think this is the natural state of affairs.
  • Du'van remnants set up a colony of 6 tombs in current-day Belswick. Here they tried to revive their race, creating the Elves as a fleshy placeholder to keep the Du'van souls from damnation. This is pretty unique lore; Tilly thinks the party may be the only ones to know.

TILLY asks Shams to talk to her imp familiar Ricky. The little guy was imprisoned by a Du'van wizard way before the Fall, and is not-so-quietly appalled by the concept of sin and punishment that Tilly keeps trying to explain. Tilly wants Ricky to sneak into Hell and get some information out.

SHAMS can actually ask Six Questions to Hell as thanks for freeing Ricky. It turns out basic stuff like "who is this Count Naberius devil" or "is our buddy Mike in Hell" is a freebie; for her first real question, Shams wishes to know what is behind the new war between Kingdoms Pembroke (in which Belswick) and Arrayne to the south. Tilly tacks on the following to get a quick who-is-who / whereabouts of the following:

  • Vorraak Soulbinder, a devil master of chains
    (thank god for Tilly's player's notes and memory; I'd totally forgotten about this one! Improv is nice, but you need to write it down or lose it...)
  • Count Naberius, tamer of beasts
  • Baltoplat the succubus
  • Mike the druid

Shams gets the little imp a backpack full of pocket bacon before he leaves. After she signs the correct form, Ricky turns the parchment into a burning portal and dives into Hell.

RIGHT BEFORE WE END THE GAME, we find Tilly asleep as he dreams of a white-lit room, details hazy but reminiscent of Xiximanter's laboratory. Snake bones rattle on the tiles as the Serpent Mage slithers up. "You're interesting, monkey. We should talk."

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Belswick 24: PCs 1, Lich 0

How does a lich manage to die at the hands of five level 6 rubes? Careful roleplay and following Keith Amman's advice, that's how! In The Monsters Know What They're Doing, Keith sets out how to have a lich lay waste to adventurers in style - but also explains how a lich's arrogance can have it make critical mistakes.

Last time in Belswick, we left the players in the rooms of Xiximanter the Serpent Mage. Dude has been hanging out in the Tomb of the Serpent Kings, experimenting on ways to improve living creatures, cloning them and bringing them back to life. Something to do with the entire Serpent Folk empire dying off after raiding Heaven.

The PCs just want to clear this hole in the ground of any trouble, so they can turn it into a quarry for quality dressed stone. Needless to say, this will end badly.

Terrain: Dwarven Forge Dungeon of Doom and Hellscape (pedestal of pain). Mini: D&D's Sul Khatesh


TILLY - cleric and bard of the Authority, illegal scholar of the Du'van Serpent Folk, Warlock of the Radiant Maiden, buddy to Baltoplat the Succubus, wooer of the nyad in the Boswitch Bathhouse, and friend to ghouls everywhere.
SHAMS METALGROG - Dwarf fighter with minor arcane powers and a powerful drive to break away from her people and build a life under the sun.
GUY - wizard of the Augurs and Diviners and (after weird dreams in his youth) sometimes psion. Currently locked in psion mode and slinging around acid, nightmares and telekinetic punches like they're on sale.
LOMIN MOR - Elf acquirer of unsecured shiny, rogue and (when donning dress and wig) the rightful ruler of Fief Culfield and about to get married when he gets out of this dump.
MORTI FIZZLELOT - Gnomish artificer with an unhealthy appetite for experimenting with Things Better Left Alone. Currently turning Xiximanter's fungal cloning device into a walking sarcophagus-tank.


Xixi clearly hasn't spoken to people for centuries - let alone scatter-brained weirdos like these five. While some PCs try to bluff and negotiate, others try to rob the lich blind while he can see them. It all turns nasty when the party psion shows his powers, Xixi tries to stuff the psion and cleric (possessed of weird Du'van magic) into a holding pen, and instead takes Morti's rocket axe to the face.


  • Because Guy the psion wriggled his acid-covered fingers through a macguffin in Xixi's lab, there go the lich's lair actions.
  • Based on Keith Amman's post and earlier knowledge of just how much damage this party can dish out, I left Xiximanter his legendary actions and saving throws.
  • I wanted a reason for Xixi not to whip out his high level spells at the first time of trouble, so I specified that his lich state is flawed (rooted in backstory that I'm not sharing yet). He takes 2x spell level damage whenever he casts a spell. His arrogance reinforces that: he doesn't need high magic to wipe the floor with these guys!


  • Xiximanter relying on 3 cantrips a month (for 15-20 damage each) in addition to low-level spells, before he gets needled enough to break out the big guns.
  • Morti dealing 40+ damage in 2 attacks through judicious use of sharpshooter feat and magical axe.
  • Xiximanter using Dominate Monster to turn that Gnome into a handy meat puppet to attack Shams.
  • Shams rushing forward with a great two-handed blow of her non...that doesn't even scratch the lich's skull. Shams switching to arcane spells (lich going WTF is this,
  • Guy smashing his psionics through Xiximanter's magical defenses like a hot knife through butter and getting Thunderwaved into a wall for his efforts - dropping to 0 hp with a beautiful concussion!
  • Xiximanter going for his stash of healing potions - only to discover that Lomin has swiped them!
  • Tilly the cleric inspiring and actually healing his allies! Shocked faces on the Skype call. Doppleganger! The end times are upon us!
  • Xixi catching Lomin and Morti in a beaut of a Cloudkill.
  • Lomin dropping his bow and igniting his Sun Blade to move toe to toe with the snake skeleton. Xixi's eye-flames growing WIDE with shock as he recognizes the ancient holy blade straight through Lomin's (expensive!) illusionary disguise for it, and burning Shield after Shield spell to avoid getting wasted by it. Then paralysing Lomin with a touch...only for a restored Guy taking him in a telekinetic grasp and crushing the lich's bones to dust.


Stealing a healing potion, making the lich cry because Guy wrecked years of work, Lomin actually charging in, killer axes, the Dwarf that burned the Lich with a cantrip.

Lomin trying to pick a lich's locker with the guy not 10 feet away πŸ‘πŸ»
Very cool combat with lots of nasty surprises!
Tilly didn't get the chance to cut a deal (no doubt he'll get another chance) but very useful with his hex curse.
Guy is scary just really really scary
Shams, just had to takea swipe at Morti for the command monster (serves him right 🀣). Also well-placed healing potion.
Damn that command monster was bad! But on the plus side now he can read the Duvan instructions on his cloning machine 😈

Lomin being on brand and wonderfully cheeky.
Awesome Lich. Delightful quirks πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌ
Morti is a bad-ass.
Guy is squishy.
Tilly, damn you and your love for the Du'van.
Breaking Ricky out of that binding circle was my best choice yet. Including the decision to stick with this group.

What a wonderful villain. Especially him pointing Guy and Tilly to the holding pen: "well go on, jump in". Legendary. I was slightly less of a fan of his combat skills...
Morti the axe maniac in in full effect. Too bad he was fighting us this time! (Something tells me it's very good that Lomin was hidden out of sight...)
TilbΓΈrd just not having the chops to close this deal. Amazing!
Shams getting blocked by Morti pretty hard, but good for her for not getting roasted by that cantrip. Ricky was very active, even if invisible most of the time.
Guy was mainly very, very scary. But luckily on our side.
And Lomin? He was very happy with all the distractions you caused. And a bit richer, even if he had to use a dust pan to gather up that broken gem...
Oh, one final hilarious moment: DM informing the group that the lich has 1 hp left after Lomin's suicide strike with the sun blade. Then unleashing murderous counter which leaves Lomin at...1 hp with a little help from TilbΓΈrd πŸ˜…

Deal was out the window when the entire party walked in with me πŸ˜…
Then again, walking up to that lich alone would have been... unpleasant 🀨

We could have had a flesh golem, IF the group didn't deal such a truckload of damage 🀣
We would all have been murdered by that lich, IF the group didn't deal such a truckload of damage πŸ˜†
The lich was perfect - enough brakes on his powers and in-character bad decisions to give us a chance, but still very, very tense. We were close to a TPK πŸ˜…

Guy is a walking nuke. Morti a railgun. Lomin has a lightsaber and a sniper bow. Shams is a steel-plated Swiss army knife - good luck trying to pierce that armor, while she comes after you with sword, hammer, magic and healing potions.


After finally clearing the Tomb of the Serpent Kings, the party hits level 7!

  • Lomin snatched two focus crystals from two cobra statues projecting a wall of fire. One fell and shattered into 350gp worth of gem dust, the other is a fist-sized emerald worth 450 gp.
  • Guy snatched Xiximanter's spellbook and Lomin swiped a bunch of stuff from a locked chest. To be IDd next session: 3 potions, a heavy bag of chainmail, a platinum ring in an ivory box, a multi-colored stone in an amulet, and three tuning forks of milky-white crystal, red-flecked iron and ruby-encrusted brass.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Selling Dwarven Forge terrain: large tower

EDIT: sold all of these!

<shameless plug> If you've read some of my session logs, you'll have seen photos of cool 3D Dwarven Forge terrain. I'm selling off a bunch of those kits to make space in the hobby room. If you're in the EU, buying one of these sets saves you the massive shipping and tax hike you take via the Dwarven Forge store. 

Drop me a line in the comments or to oorlof at gmail if you're interested!


In almost new condition. Factory-painted packs, easy to touch up if the mood takes you. I ship internationally from the Netherlands and combine shipping. Payment via paypal. 

Price as below + shipping; we can definitely discuss a discount if you buy multiple packs. I figure about €10-30 for shipping costs within Europe, €30-70 to the US - can give more detail if you know your order and location.

  • 1x Watchtower set (+ additional set of crenellations), $320* 
  • 1x Alternate floors, $38 1x Big buttresses, $40* 
  • 1x Castle stairs pack, $62 
  • 1x Cube spacer pack, $48 
  • 1x Large ruined tower, $30 
  • 1x Large tower balcony & bridge base, $35 sold
  • 1x Large tower - palace, $90 sold
  • 1x Stone Bridge pack, $24

* lower price because some of the accessories went missing during a move: 

  • Big Buttresses: 4x Gargoyles
  • Large Watchtower: 2x Battlement Blade, 1x Arbalest, 1x Wooden Pole Stand, grappling hook


Alternate floors; for half-open towers you can look into from the side.

Big Buttresses

Cube spacers (2 inch blocks) with one magnetic side - useful to quickly build up height.

Large Balcony and Bridge Base; turns a tower wall into a balcony or into the connection point for a bridge

Large Tower - Palace pack: 2 full floors with large open windows and stairs

Large Tower - Palace pack put together

Castle Stairs, including square and rounded wall blocks

Large Ruined Tower - use these wall pieces (and rubble) to break a tidy tower apart after an earth elemental hits it, or place in a forest to show a tower once stood here. Pieces connect to each other magnetically.

Large Ruined Tower, put together (they fit perfectly into a round tower wall; I've left gaps here to show the individual pieces.)

Stone Bridge Pack. Works standalone to cross a river, or as a connector between side-by-side towers with balcony/bridge connectors.

Large Tower Accessories: siege gear, flags, stairs (more in the other pic) and a LED glowing arcane artifact as a quest objective.

Large Watchtower, assembled. Comes with two sets of Battlements, so you can make two towers for the price of one (add the Palace Pack to make them extra high and connect them through the Balconies & Stone Bridge!)


Sunday, 4 October 2020

Lankhmar #2: thief! stop!

Session two in a second campaign to my main rural/medieval Belswick one. This one is a city campaign following the adventures of three people of the rogueish persuasion as they navigate the joys and perils of the great city of Lankhmar.

Lankhmar on the river Hlal, greatest city of Nehwon and home to uncountable secrets!



DCC Masks of Lankhmar, a two-part adventure by Dungeon Crawl Classics. I added material for my home game - will do a review after the group completes the module.


  • XALO, nosy and curious gnome warlock with trouble understanding the concept of ownership; read a weird book once and is able to cast spells - and take someone's dying breath to strengthen herself.
  • SIX BURDEN, half-drow rogue: a thin reed of an orphan who grew up in Lankhmar and knows every little shortcut through its mazy streets. Not a member of the Thieves' Guild, but surely that can only be a matter of time?
  • BUNTY, half-orc druid who wants nothing more than to start a bakery and learn how to make the wonderful sour and hard-crusted bread she once got from a passing merchant.


The trio convince Igris the Collector that they can prevent his beautiful new acquisition - a golden key - from being stolen by the Thieves' Guild; hatch a plan to stand watch during Igris' masqued ball; confront two thieves and their bodyguards from the Slayers' Guild; and are all horribly surprised when a third party takes the Golden Key from the supposedly impenetrable vault, leading to a wild chase across the city until their quarry mysteriously escapes from a walled-off alley. At least the characters manage to recover half of the Golden Key, which turns out to be hollow and contains a rolled up parchment inside...


Xalo hatching a wildly complex plan to break into a bakery for the party's breakfast; Six Burden just waiting for the inevitable chaos and walking out with a still-warm apple pie.

The entire party subverting the module's plan ("you all meet in a cellar while you are trying to rob Igris the Collector") because I just had to insert a starting scene showing where the group got the intel for this heist in the first place. "Why don't we offer Igris to stop the thieves that are going to rob him instead?" They turned a heist into a castle defence scenario just like that!

Six Burden and Bunty tag-teaming Igris over second breakfast. They not only negotiate a reward of 20gp each when they manage to successfully prevent the robbery, but also secure longer-term employment as Igris' retrievers of other historical curiosities. Privately-employed thieves, the Thieves' Guild will love that... 

Bunty and Xalo negotiating side deals: 

  • Bunty wants to talk with Igris' baker to see if that guy knows the origins of the sour bread Bunty craves (nope, but does know where it may come from: the bakers in either Kvarch Nar, Ool Hrusp or Sarheenmar, three of the Eight Cities across the Inner Sea.)
  • Xalo wants access to Igris' library to see if there's any exciting magic to be found there. Instead, she gets a travelogue with handy phrases and sights across the long caravan route from Igris' home city of Kiraay, all the way to Lankhmar, to keep her busy during the stake-out later in the day.

Xalo sneaking off to inspect the new construction that will add to Igris' mansion; an octagonal tower laced with magical wards and conduits, all leading to a ritual chamber at the very top. It's going to be interesting to get in there when the tower is operational!

The party joining the masqued ball as servants, checking out the high and mighty coming to rub elbows:

  • Igris the Collector, as be-turbaned vizier from his far city of Kiraay;
  • Lord Rannash, a severe-looking man in leathers, a cruel helmet and a riding whip;
  • Demoiselle Hisvin, the daughter of Hisvin the grain merchant; a platinum blonde wisp of a girl in sheer silks, silver chainlets and a rat's mask, and her dark-skinned, imperious servant woman in golden slave bands and a lion's mask;
  • ...and many important looking merchants, sages, minor nobles and ladies and gentlemen of the night to keep them all company.

Xalo hiding under the stairs into the cellar, where the vault is. Cunningly, she uses her prestidigitation magic to mark the soles of the kitchen staff with an arcane sigil, so that she can recognize them coming down the stairs.

Nice reconnaissance by Bunty and Six Burden, who sniff out the two thieves Issek and Tovlis separately entering the grounds disguised as a merchant and as part a delivery party.

A cellar fight that could have gone very badly for the group, split up as they are; until Tovlis goes down under Xalo's life-stealing blade. The Gnome briefly hazes out and runs her dagger across the fallen thief's neck, while the words LET IT FLOW echo in her mind. Apparently this is a regular thing for her. Gnomes, man...

Rail-thin Issek decides to go for gold rather than combat and jumps through the magical fire ward that Igris had inscribed around the vault; opening the vault door, he then gets knocked on the head by someone hiding inside the vault - and running off with the precious Golden Key in hand! Bunty is nearest and sees the new intruder leave a jade, seven-legged spider in the vault before running off.

A foot chase across Lankhmar, in which the young woman clutching the Golden Key leads the party through the masses in the Street of the Gods, crashes through a glass pane carried by two Glaziers' Guildsmen, takes to the rooftops, then down and into the opium-haze of the House of Red Lanterns, finally to run south to the Plaza of Dark Delights before our heroes corner her near Tanitha's Pets, where a feisty jaguar from Klesh is trying to escape.

Six Burden manages to sic the jaguar on their quarry and it tackles the girl into an alley. When the group runs up seconds later, the jaguar is sitting on half a Golden Key, looking surprised at a fading doorway in purplish smoke on the alley wall. On the floor, next to it, is another jade carving of a seven-legged spider, and a mocking note that says no-one is clever enough to catch the Jade Spider - especially not a blundering half-orc, half-elf and gnome.