I’ve been rereading Robert E. Howard’s original Conan stories, inspired in large part by this awesome Kickstarter. Not all of the Conan stories, just some. I find REH like Lovecraft or Burroughs: I get occasional manias for them, but I don’t want to plow through their entire libraries. About two or three weeks of immersion and I start thinking about the other things one could do with the same ideas – which almost always means turning them into roleplaying adventures.
This is timely, because in London’s and my D&D campaign, our characters just reached the sorceror-ridden Dinosaur Islands. So REH is both reading for pleasure and adventure fuel.
Tomorrow evening is the last installment of my evening teaching gig, and Thursday evening I’ll be out to dinner with folks from the UC Riverside biology dept (unless my seminar talk is so atrocious that no-one will want my company). So realistically there’s no chance for us to play D&D again until the weekend. I wanted London to have something to think about in the meantime – he’s at the age where he can obsess about something with laser-like intensity for days (er, not unlike his dad).
In our previous installment, the party needed shelter for the night, and what the random table (which I still need to post – stay tuned) supplied was a necropolis. We had to fight some bats to get space in an otherwise looted and empty mausoleum. A necropolis on an archipelago ruled by sorcerors must almost by definition have a lich, so… tonight’s session started with the party being awakened in the middle of the night by a cold mist, and a raspy command for them to come forth. The lich told them that they would have pay for spending a night in his domain by bringing him something he needed for a ritual: the head of a tyrannosaur.
I don’t know (yet) what exactly the lich needs with the head of a tyrannosaur, but it’s probably for something not good. But the party doesn’t have a ton of choice in the matter, because the lich decided to keep one of them back as a hostage. Thanks to the dice, that turned out to be my character Alethra, the group’s only fighter.
Now a bunch of low-level schmucks who have a very high chance of being reborn as tyrannosaur poop have to figure out (1) how to find a tyrannosaur before it finds them, (2) how to kill it, (3) how to get its 600kg head over the many rough miles between dinosaur country and the necropolis in the hills, and (4) how to deal with whatever nefariousness the lich wants it for.
So London ought to have plenty to think about in the many dad-less, D&D-less hours between now and Saturday. He loves coming up with baroque strategems, which means that he is pretty much the perfect person to DM for. I’m genuinely curious about what schemes he’ll concoct.
UPDATE: The full story is now up here. The ballista was London’s idea, as were the neanderthal hirelings. And it was one of his characters who delivered the critical hit that turned the tide of the battle. Perfect!