Friday night I ran my friend through my alabaster tower solo. I need to revise that thing because some of the puzzles are still too confusing or obscure. But it was fun. He ended up naked but for a loincloth and a turban stuffed with gems. The most fun I had was when he explored the grey drapes in the hidden treasure room which is a gate to the ethereal plane. He was creeped out in the muted twilight of the place and thought he was in the land of the dead. I have never DMed anyone in the etheral, so I had to decide what it was like. I finally decided it was slightly askew from reality, a little off-sync. So the water of the ocean was jelly-like and he could walk across it. He ended up dragging a stone canoe full of treasure across this ethereal ocean to another island that he saw in the normal plane of existence. Once there he found a crystalline looking crack and was able to squeeze through it into the mundane world.
The next day some of his mates woke up on the shore near him. So We had:
Toral - DP
Z - F
Yestlick - MU
Spike - F
The party found themselves on a steep, terraced island with what looked like a structure of some sort at the top. They found a path in the jungle and started following it. A branch off the path seemed to lead toward drumming, they ignored it and pressed on. They soon came to a sandy spot with a skeleton half buried in it and lots of weathered white sticks. The skeleton had a beautiful cap on and something glistened in the crook of its arm bone. Toral and Spike immediately set out to investigate.
Spike's instincts kicked in and he jumped back. Toral found himself sinking in quicksand. Z used his Turban of Climbing to create a walkway to help. Just about then some skunkbats attacked. The party fended off the attack and retrieved the treasures from the skeleton. Spike took what turned out to be a silver scroll, Z put on the cap.
Creatures immediately started streaming out of the jungle attracted to it. There were rats with the heads of gulls, black swans with the heads of black vipers, more skunkbats, and a jaunty parrot-headed pig. Z, worried, walked out on his still-stiff turban, dooming the walking creatures to the quicksand.
A group of burly headless natives came out of the jungle dancing around Z and his cap (it turns out they had heads, just the heads of ants). When they saw the silver scroll in Spike's hands they started genuflecting. A battle ensued when more skunkbats showed up. Spike, Yestlick, and Fabrino ended up unconscious. Toral ended up 6 inches tall when he unknowingly drank a potion of Dimunition. Z was puking his guts out after being sprayed.
The headless natives scooped up the unconscious and took them back to their crude village where dancing began. They had two similar silver scrolls that they appeared to worship. Remarkably, they gave up these scrolls when asked by the party and, after healing the unconscious enough to wake them, followed the party along the jungle path.
They passed a waterfall and up into another, dryer, terrace. There they encountered giraffe-flamingos and were attacked by a panther with a pheasant tail. It was dicey for a bit as several of the party were entranced by the beast's beautiful tail. After that they made their way to the top of the island where a two story villa stood with several outbuildings. I'll tell that story later . . .
It was really fun because this was all played out by the campfire, no maps, no books, just dimly seen die rolls, BBQ hot dogs, s'mores, and cheap cerveza.
What turned into a running joke was how I was so proud of the parrot-pig and intended to annoy the party with its salty sayings and oinking when Spike . . . pushed it into the quicksand to die. Hehe, so much for piggy sue.
I was astounded by my reaction rolls. I had assumed the headless natives would be dangerous but I rolled two 11s and a 12 for various reaction checks. Never had rolls that high before. It turned from tense into some sort of Balearic islands session with bongos and dancing.
Another running joke was poor Toral stuck at 6" tall. I kept refering to him as Thumbelina. Also, one of the other players said, "Hey, wouldn't all his clothes stay big?" Realizing the amusing potential of this and seeing the look on Toral's player's face as he said "You don't give the DM ideas," I made it so and Toral was naked for the rest of the game. It gets weirder in the next session when he's riding around on a compelled donkey. Then I started calling him Mr. Godiva.
Another note: I hadn't seen my players for weeks. Apparently that was too long for them to go without D&D so one of my players started DMing. He had never played D&D before me, but is pretty confident. I asked "What version is he using?" They said some of your stuff, some of his, and I think he got a 4th edition book. Those 4th addition monsters have a lot of hit points!" Haha. I'm telling you this DIY, kit bashing, run whatever, culture is contagious. Long live the Resurgence.
One player was also asking, how much of this stuff is random and how much is in the books. I don't think he realized until encountering 4e that pretty much everything in my game I made or borrowed from other bloggers. So all that effort to make stuff and they didn't realize I wasn't just pulling it out of a book, o_O