Wednesday, December 2, 2020

More Hommlet Podcasts!

Every now and then I lower my Gillnet of Knowledge-Gathering into the depths of the internet to dredge up new Hommlet content. My latest trawling efforts have yielded not one but two recent podcasts. 

First up is Open Dice Night, an ongoing game-play podcast wherein a gang of PCs known as the Party Folk are using actual 1e rules (descending AC! D6 initiative!) to take on Hommlet. The gang are not old timers, but curious youths (relative to old creeps like me) going back in time to see what AD&D was all about. I always like to see what other folks do with Hommlet so this is pretty fun for me.

Next: Dungeon Master of None A couple of dudes, one a mere whippersnapper and the other an appropriately seasoned gamer, shine some loving attention on the greatest 16 pages of D&D ever printed.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Your Druid broke my Moathouse!

It took a societal lockdown but, at last, I took the now-teenaged [barely] progeny to Hommlet. He seems to finally have achieved the requisite maturity to handle a [simplified] character sheet, so he actually rolled up characters for the first time; though he did complain that "it took like nine hours". He was off by a factor of 12 but nonetheless I took over once it got to equipping the newbs mostly because I wanted to break out my old quick n' dirty PC starting equipment rules.

Once in town, he recruited a few NPCs at the inn--wisely shunning Zert's advances but taking on the wily Furnok, the drunken Elmo, and the pedantic Spugnoir instead. At the moathouse he got past the frogs outside the gate and the huge spider in the tower without much trouble. Then the kiddo wandered straight to the giant lizard encounter where his druid does the ol' Animal Friendship thing. So now he has an awesome giant lizard friend. He even has the MU cast a sleep spell on it so that he can remove the obstruction (a shield) that's stuck in it's craw. (See/listen to GGNoRe for an explanation of this situation)

D&D's Scariest Monsters (1977-1983)
Blogspots new insert image function really sucks.

This screws up--in a good way--the entire upper level of the moathouse. The bandits in room 7 are smart enough to know that they are just maybe up to taking on a small gang of novice adventurers, but are going to get slaughtered by a party of six accompanied by a voracious giant lizard. So they parley for their freedom and skip town. Two encounters out of the way thanks to one 1st level spell. 

But we're not done yet. Now the PCs wander toward the pantry where a herd of giant rats are waiting to feed on them. Maybe you can justify giant rats hungry enough to see a smallish anthropomorphic creature like a halfling or a gnome as food, but are rats  gonna attack a voracious, 25' long lizard? Hell no! They fled in terror, running down the stairs to the undercroft and triggering both green slimes hanging out on the ceiling. By the time the PCs catch up, the lizard has eaten 3 rats while 3 more are turning to slime and the rest have disappeared into the garbage heap. Two more moathouse encounters eliminated without an initiative roll.

Technically, this shouldn't have worked because the Giant Lizard is a 3 Hit Die creature and Animal Friendship, by Ed. 1 rules, only allows a 1st level druid to befriend a critter of 2HD or less. But, because I didn't have my 1e PHB on-hand, we were using the Castles & Crusades rules (basically 1.75 ed AD&D for those unfamiliar) which are not entirely clear on the matter. 

That all happened two months ago and we've been playing almost non-stop ever since. It's a lot more fun playing in person than the online game I've been involved with since society broke down and we moved into our Omega Man bunker. But that's another post.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Demographics of Hommlet: the Spreadsheet

My trusty colleague Rear Admiral D. Osgood III once again noticed that the ol' blogomatic device was out of gas so he wired a shipment of fuel over to Dicechucker Towers in hopes of restarting the boiler. And what form did this fuel dump take you ask? Why it's a spreadsheet detailing all the inhabitants of everyone's favorite town that nerdiferous pedants will tell you is actually a hamlet. 

Osgood has pored over the text of the Village of Hommlet (I understand he is using the Hommlet portion of T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil as his base text rather than the original, stand-alone module) and developed a thorough census of the population. If you're just here for the handy spreadsheet, here it is. Use it in good health. Or poor health; I won't discriminate against the infirm.

If you want some analysis--or you're just killing time until the pandemic is over--stick around for further reading:

The Male:Female ratio is 7.7 men to 1 woman. This is made more significant when one considers that just 10 years ago the region was at war; you'd expect at least a few widows in this town. Or perhaps it was the women of Hommlet who cleared the moathouse, thus leaving the menfolk to step in and fill the gaps in the militia in the years hence.

The write-up on the Inn mentions that "when the season arrives there will be one or two "likely lasses hired on". What exactly is a "likely lass"? And what season is it that brings more bustle to the burg of Hommlet? Fall foliage? Hunting Season? Hockey season?

Over at Rufus and Burne's tower, the 16 mercenaries share a 20' d. room at the top of the tower for their lodgings while their capt and lieutenant get tiny yet private chambers on the floor below. But there are two 2nd level fighters posted as guards in the tower who do not appear to be affiliated with the mercenary posse that sleeps up in the turret. Since there are no other 2nd level fighters at the tower to relieve them, it must be assumed that they are always on duty and therefore have no need for a place to sleep.

Scale mail: Good enough for Thor

Also, those two guards have AC 5 and carry shields which means they must be wearing scale mail. No one in AD&D ever used scale mail. Leather and chainmail are prevalent, obviously, but studded leather and even ring mail--studded leather's disfigured troglodytic half-brother--occasionally make appearances, but no scale mail. And this despite it's cinematic appeal.


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Scarabs of Hommlet Continued

T1 has this to say about Rannos Davl's famous TZGY scarab:
"The [TZGY scarab] is a pass in an area of the Temple of Elastic Underpants but there is only a 20% chance that even a sage would recognize it as such."

Or, to look at it another way, 20% of sages are likely to know that the ToEE has used these scarabs as passes. Since the rebirth of the temple is still a secret at the time that your characters are wandering through/pillaging Hommlet, it must be assumed that this sagely knowledge is based on the old Temple. Which is to say, the new Templonians have revived the practice of using scarabs as passes as they did in the old Temple.

We want our names on the scarab too!
In my last post I pointed out that the four letters on the scarab--TZGY--are not a misspelled abbreviation of Zuggtmoy but, rather, they indicate Rannos's four co-conspirators in Hommlet: Terjon, Zert, Gremag, and Y'dey. Rannos (10th level thief), as the highest level baddy in all of T1, is head of the Hommlet Task Force. His underlings are the aforementioned Gremag (7th level assassin) and Zert (2nd level fighter) who we already know about, as well as Y'dey, Canoness in absentia of the church of St. Ebert, and Terjon (6th level cleric), who is standing in for her. It is not made explicit in the module that these two are Templers, but it is now apparent that that is the case.

The scarab "pass" is really more of a badge indicating to other Templonians that Rannos is a member of the Black Scarab unit, and also notes his underlings. These four, and only these four, may accompany Rannos to the Temple. Zert, however, does not know that the traders are part of the Temple Conspiracy; clearly he must be taking his orders from Terjon.

Meanwhile Calmert, the rector of the church--for such a small parish, this joint sure commands a lot of hierarchy!--is obviously too low-ranking to know that the Church of Cuddy is really a front for the New Temple. However, he has seen Terjon meeting surreptitiously with Zert and the Traders, who he has determined are unsavory characters.

Knowing that Terjon is up to no good and having uncovered evidence that a band of brigands is forming in the area to, he believes, harass the population, Calmert has decided to put his trust in Rufus and Burne to defend the growing flock here in Hommlet. This is why he's embezzling church funds and sending them to the tower construction fund. Unwisely, he still trusts Y'dey and is looking forward to her return so that he can let her know about Terjon's sinister doings.

Of course, things aren't quite as lawful good as they appear over at the tower either: guess who else has a scarab? Rufus does, that's who. Rufus's scarab is carnelian (a red gemstone) and lacks any glyphs, which suggests that he has no underlings and has not been activated as an agent yet. But we do know that he has, upon achieving 8th level (he's currently a 7th level fighter) been ordered to report for duty to the Viscount of Verbabonc who will indoctrinate him in the Red Scarab Division at that time. He is as yet, a sleeper agent. Note: now the Viscount has been implicated in this plot as well!

Rufus's scarab also confers resistance to poison on him so clearly he gets more love than Rannos. Not surprising when you consider what an A-hole Rannos is.

And yet there is another member of the conspiracy at the tower: a 2nd level fighter hired by Rannos to pose as a laborer and spy for him. This dude is just a hired hand, not actually a Templonian, which is why he doesn't rate a glyph on Rannos's scarab--or even a name for that matter. But his presence their indicates that Rannos is not getting intelligence on the castle project. So either Rannos has taken it upon himself to gather intelligence or he has been ordered to do so by the Black Scarab Division leader--not realizing that its construction is being overseen and funded by another division of the Temple!

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Scarab of Hommlet: The Conspiracy Continues, part XVII

I recently received an email from Darrell, Director of Research down at the Home Office of Dicechucker Enterprises. He kindly delivered up an impressive pile of demographic stats on the villagers of Hommlet that clearly need to be published on this here blogsite. Inspired by his handiwork, I dug out my old Hommlet notebooks to compare his findings with my own research and came across a drawing amidst some notes I wrote approximately 4 years ago:

I admit that the sketch is a bit shoddy but Hommlet loons the world over might hopefully recognize it as a rendition of the Scarab of Rannos Davl, one of the evil traders cum devotees of Evil most Elemental. Said loons might also likely remember that the scarab is known to be a hall pass for certain portions of said Temple.

Now I understand that for many/most/all of you TZGY is just an abbreviation for Zuggtmoy goddess of fungus, which makes sense when you realize that her name was once spelled Tzugtmoy, which might not even be true but too late, I just said it so now it is. But for those of us who were barred admission to T1-4 The Temple of Elephantiasis of the Esophagus we had only the text of T1 to go off of. And in T1 there is only one deific entity mentioned in association with the Temple of Elevated Estrogen and her name is Lolth, not Zuggtmoy. For folks like me, TZGY was some sort of code used by Lolth worshippers, sort of like how folks of a certain persuasion will immediately recognize INRI as a signifier of Jesus Christ without necessarily knowing what the letters stand for.

"Ok, but what's your point, D-Chuckles?" you ask? Here's my point: if you live in a world where Zuggtmoy doesn't exist--as most of us did until 1984-ish, then what does TZGY stand for? Well, on the same page in my notes as the above referenced scarab drawing is a list of four names:
Holy Crap!
While some of you are probably thinking "why is this jackass lumping two clerics of St. Cuthbert in with two known Culstists of Evel Knievel?"* Those conspiracy wingnuts amongst you will remember that years ago some internet nutjob posited that the coincidence of Y'dey's sabbatical from the Church of Cuthbert and Lareth's arrival at the moathouse was no coincidence at all. If you don't feel like clicking that link, I'll give you a brief summary: Y'dey = Lareth.

Terjon knows that Y'dey was sent off to live in a dank dungeon under a swamp with a squadron of brigands and he's jealous. If you would rather live in a dank dungeon under a swamp with 16 unbathed brigands as your roommates than hang out at Cuddy's posh new church in Hommlet then obviously you too are a devotee of the Temple of Eloquent Eros. I'm aware the logic here is circular but bear with me.

And if Terjon is in on it, it stands to reason that the Arch Cleric of Veluna--who assigned to Terjon the task of covering for Y'dey while she assumes her alter ego (Lareth)--is also in on it. This Cabal goes clear to the top of the Cuthbert hierarchy! 

*And for those who are wondering who those 4 names refer to:
  • Terjon, interim canon of the Church of St. Cuthbert  while Y'dey is off "adventuring."
  • Zert, Inn resident and known agent of the Temple of Erectile Enhancement. 
  • Gremag, Rannos Davl's colleague at the Hommlet dry goods depot; also a known Temple associate. 
  • Y'dey, absentee Canon of St. Cuddy, Hommlet diocese.