+Zak Smith was right: the revolution will be televised on Google+ (no, he didn't say that, but Constantcon is real). I was fortunate enough to be invited by +Tim Callahan to play +Jeff Talanian's "Rats In The Walls" adventure from Knockspell #4. I will be honest and say that I have NOT been on Google+ for a long time and I feel I have a very minimal online presence; I read Zak's blog and a few others OSR-related, and I actually post some stuff and hopefully will get my first published anything when Gorgonmilk gets Expanded Petty Gods out. So, needless to say I was surprised, excited, and terrified when I got the invite; I haven't actually been a player since probably 2000/2001. But I took the plunge, and it was awesome!
So, our party consisted of Harpylos (sp?), a Kimmerian Barbarian who may also be a Librarian, played by +Jose LaCario; Aziz, an Ixian Legerdemainist played by +Mark Malone, Marketa, a Warlock whose race escapes me, played by +Sarah Richardson, and Burt the Mongrel, a(nother) Barbarian played by +Thom Hall. I played a Hyperborean Monk named Indrid, which is a class I have zero experience with, but I had good stats for it, so I tried it, and just like Mikey, I liked it.
HERE THERE MAY VERY WELL BE SPOILERS; YOU WERE WARNED
We start in the Silvery Eel, an inn that has seen better times. Tim states we are all dining together, having been previously on adventures (we only had 3 hours real-time, so I get it). The innkeeper takes our orders and explains the sounds we keep hearing are, you guessed it, the eponymous rodents. Offering us a sob story about the death of his wife and child from a rodent-vector disease, we decide to help him when he offers us LOOT. The innkeeper (whose name escapes me) also has a daughter currently suffering from the aforementioned rat-bite disease, but he won't let us meet her, so we begin by investigating upstairs of the Silvery Eel, which is the living quarters.
Burt the Mongrel stays behind and the rest of us head outside to where stairs lead to the living quarters. We see a Hyperborean sailor overseeing the arrival of cargo from a ship at the dock. Heading upstairs, we locate two bedrooms and some storage crates. Harpylos investigates the crates and notices some rodent droppings, curiously with some crimson stains. Bedroom #1 appears relatively rat-free, so we move on to bedroom #2. In here, Marketa investigates and discovers a book hidden under a floorboard. Reading it, we learn it is the ravings of a previous owner about a "demon woman", the "swine-faced one", and that she is "inescapable". Harpylos decides to see if there is anything else going on with the crates, and is rewarded with RATS! We have a tight fight in the hallway, but emerge relatively unscathed, and pick up a magic shield in the process.
Heading back downstairs, I decide to parlay with the Hyperborean sailor. He tells me that long before the Green Death, the location of the Silvery Eel was the foundation for a wizard's tower and that it is "foul". Meanwhile, back inside, Burt has been attempting to chat up the innkeeper's infected daughter and investigate around the ground floor. Regrouping, we head down to the basement. There are a lot of crates here, and more RATS (are crates rat-apartments?)! After defeating the rats, we discover a platform in the basement that is blocking descent. Tim asked if anyone has a prybar, and surprisingly, I was smart enough to have one (I also brought a fishing net, steel mirror, iron spikes, and ceramic marbles). With the Barbarians' help, we open it up to discover a spiral staircase descending into the depths.
We enter into a temple dominated by an altar. On the altar is the likeness of a three-faced woman, that of Aurorus (who, after reading her description in AS&SH, may very well be my patron). There are more rat-apartments (crates), that Harpylos investigates and discovers they hold mad loot and RATS! Aziz investigates around the room for secret doors; to facilitate his search, Burt the Mongrel tears down the moldy curtains on the walls. They discover the secret door that is also ajar. The Barbarians also discover a strong sense of magic and refuse to enter. Thus, Marketa, Aziz, and myself enter and find a prison holding a 12 foot tall skeletal demon with a SWINE face. A-ha! Wait, what? Okay, there also is a pentagram carved in an alcove. A silver dagger lays in the center of the pentagram. After debate regarding if removing the dagger will reanimate the demon skeleton, Aziz grabs it and we hear laughter. From the demon. Skeleton. Whose eyes begin glowing red. And it tells us it will find a new host.
Yeah, so we all regather in the altar room. I decide, based on the principle of Hyperborean symmetry, there may be another secret entrance opposite the demon prison room. Again, Barbarians remove wall tapestries and behold, another door! This one appears to conceal the priest's quarters. It also concealed six (!) undead guardians with halberds! Aziz misses, the Barbarians kick butt, I decide to go kung fu and Marketa couldn't fit in the little room with us. A magic halberd was found and Aziz discovered some prayer and ritual books and three potions, blue, green, and clear. Based on trial and error, we discover the blue heals, the green cures disease, and the clear confers invisibility. At this point, Burt the Mongrel had been infected with rat-fever, and Marketa and Harpylos were hurting. Harpylos used the potion to heal, Burt the Mongrel used the green pulpy to feel better, and I used my cellular adjustment to heal Marketa. Feeling fairly confident, we descend down steps to the next level.
These steps are made of skulls and this level is full of skulls, bones, and RATS! Also, a giant demonic rat mother with baby rats hanging from its teats attacks us. Harpylos spears it with the magic halberd, Marketa casts Protection from Evil, and the rest of us begin fending off rats. I send Mark a chat to see if he can backstab the giant rat momma; he casts Spider Climb and heads up the wall to drop onto the unsuspecting monster with his shiny new dagger. Fortunately, we defeat giant rat momma, but the an evil red mist begins escaping from her and FORMING INTO A DEMON! Aziz drops from the ceiling and the silver dagger sucks the red mist into it. We head back to the prison room and replace the dagger in the pentagram, instantly relighting the candles and trapping the demon FOREVER (or until some stupid schmuck removes it)!
More looting, curing, and wrapping up and XP. All in all, a wicked fun time was had. Tim is a good referee and has mastered the classic art of not saying no. It was fun to play with people I didn't know and I think they had fun, too. I cannot believe that I can role-play now with basically anyone on the internet; it kinda boggles my mind. I'm also stoked to find Knockspell #4 now and see what we might have missed. Also, shameless plug for Jeff: go vote for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea at http://ennie-awards.com/vote/. Hopefully, I'll get around to reviewing it soon. And if I was smart, I'd link to Sarah's way cooler play notes, but I'm not smart enough (yet).