Skip to main content

Unfathomable! Sesssion 13

Ye Dogs of Destiny make bloody mayhem in the Temple of Nul! Plus, bonus encumbrance shenanigans!

The Campaign: Operation Unfathomable! and Odious Uplands!, both by Jason Sholtis

The Ruleset: 5e

Ye Dogs of Destiny:

  • Brother Ded, a monk/political shit-stirrer. (absent)
  • Mort, a fugitive from Imperial justice.
  • Greta, a baby-eating hag-turned-Citizen Lich. 
  • Ulther, a ranger and artifact smuggler. 
  • Zinee, a wooly neanderthal druid/cosmetologist. 
  • Toljin, a magical boy raised by pirates. 
  • Doloth, an unwilling-Citizen Lich.

The Story So Far

Ye Dogs of Destiny have traveled into the Underworld in pursuit of the legendary Nul Rod. They have found the Temple of Nul, met with Mother Futility, and begun murdering acolytes.

This Session

Psaltir 17 (5th day in the Underworld), 4th Bell

The session began still in initiative order, although the Party had killed everyone in the main area of the Temple at the end of the last session. The tramping feet of more decapitantes could be heard, and an alarm was blaring. There was some debate whether to go find Mother Futility or try to rescue Ulfer's Uncle Henrik. It was decided that Mother Futility could probably help them find Uncle Henrik, so the party climbed some stairs to the Temple's second floor and busted in on a control room. 

Banks of pseudo-technological equipment surrounded a hole overlooking Nul's Abyss and the floor below. The equipment was operated by silent, emaciated figures—Cerebromorphs—whose heads were faceless masses of convoluted tissue, like moist brains crackling with magenta electricity.

Ulfer dashed in and threatened one of the cerebromorphs. It raised its spindly hand in mute surrender. The other cerebromorphs backed away from the banks of controls in a compliant manner. 

The party, feeling confident that no threat was posed, began to make their way through the room, weaving among the brain-headed figures. Zinee, still wildshaped into a bear, realized that she didn't detect any scent from Uncle Henrik on the second floor, and dashed back to down the stairs with Mort to see if she could pick up the scent again. At this point, the cerebromorphs, in telepathic consultation with one another, decided the numbers were more in their favor and began zapping the remaining party members with magenta brain-lightning.

Zinee and Mort ran downstairs and smack into a new phalanx of the Cult's headless minions, the decapitantes. They immediately felled Mort. 

The party was split, both parts were outnumbered, and characters were starting to fall. Good thing I'd printed out back-up characters! But! Then! Polar bear-Zinee picked up Mort's unconscious body in her mouth, rolled an incredible Athletics check, and leapt over Nul's Abyss, grabbed the ledge of the viewing hole for the control room, and climbed back up into the second floor melee as decapitantes threw javelins at her.

Around this same time, Toljin was fighting some cerebromorphs and had backed up by a door in the control room. The door opened and Mother Futility looked out. Sizing up the situation, she hissed at Toljin, "Boy! Kill them all! And do it quickly!" and started taking out cerebromorphs with spectral green magic-hands.

The party cleaned up the room pretty quickly after this. Mother Futility ushered everyone into her room, and then used the equipment to send out a communication that the intruders had gone out the back, towards the Boulevard of Sorrows. She joined the party, closed her door, and everyone listened to the sound of decapitantes filing past on their way out the Temple's back door.

Mother Futility spilled the beans: Her sister, Svetlana, was Toljin's birth mother. Mother Futility could sense a divine void-ness connected to Toljin, and concluded that he was to be a powerful figure in the Cult on Nul—a messiah figure, even. But there was too much chance of her losing control of this valuable asset if he was raised in the Cult hierarchy, so she had the Dread Pirate Goddard abduct the baby and deposit it with some out-of-the-way peasants. But now they've been reunited, and she can use him to tear down the Cult and rebuild it in her image!

She didn't bother to give Toljin a chance to opine on this plan, instead asking him, "Which of your companions is the strongest?" Toljin indicated Zinee. Mother Futility disappeared—shrinking down to the size of a bean, jumping like a flea onto Zinee's fur, and climbing into her ear. Zinee heard a voice tell her "You will do whatever I say, or I will cause you excruciating pain. First thing: lead this party across the Temple to Bishop Emptiness's room and kill the bastard."

The Party was happy enough to oblige, although Greta took a moment to steal Mother Futility's spell book before leaving the room. 

They busted in on Bishop Emptiness, whose room was a picture of ostentatious comfort, replete with silk upholstery, embroidered pillows, a locker of stinky cheeses, and elaborately scrimshawed ivory furnishings. The Bishop himself had been resting his eyes on his bed, but sprung up and started casting spells. He was a formidable spellcaster, but not able to overcome the action economy of six-against-one. He was dropped pretty quickly. 

The whole time, Mother Futility was commanding Zinee inform the Bishop that he was a fool, a fraud, a jackanape who didn't deserve his promotion, and where was his old boys' network to help him now? Zinee, still in bear form, was unable to relate any of these denigrations. But when Mother Futility worked her self up enough to command "Bite his fucking face off his skull!" Zinee was able to comply.

They found a key on the Bishop's body which opened a magically sealed door to the Temple treasury, where they found a fortune. 22,500 gold pieces worth of treasure! Unfortunately, it is in the form of over 100,000 coins of various values. And, by the time they had cracked open all the lockboxes containing the coins, there were sounds of movement back in the control room, as acolytes and decapitantes started cleaning up all the dead cerebromorphs. 

Ulfer magically disguised himself as Bishop Emptiness and went out and commanded the acolytes to send everyone in the Temple out to the Devil's Highway to chase the intruders. Unfortunately, the acolytes knew the intruders didn't go out in the direction of the Devil's Highway, and were under the impression that they escaped via the Boulevard of Sorrows. So this all sounded pretty suspicious. As an acolyte's hand crept towards the decapitante control box on his belt, we called it a night!


Right now the coins are bundled up in silk bedsheets on a polar bear's back. Last thing in the world I want to do is start counting coin-weights, but I guess I need to figure out just how big of a logistical nightmare hauling around 100,000 coins is going to be. By the book, that's a literal ton! 

According to an actual website,, an adult polar bear weighs about 1 ton. Zinee has technically wildshaped into a brown bear, but we've flavored it as a Lisa Frank-style rainbow-furred polar bear with a decorative ice cream cone on its head. A polar bear can probably shift another polar bear, right? So I think she can just barely move with her current load. 

Until the silk rips.

Then the players may choose to split up the loot. 
  • A 5e character can carry 15 pounds per point they have in their Strength score. 
  • One ton breaks into 133 units of 15 pounds each, or 750 coins.
  • 22,500 gp worth of value breaks into 133 units each worth 169 gp.
  • There are 19 units (285 lbs/14,250 coins/3211 gp) per character. 
  • None of the characters has a STR of 19.
If the PCs decide to take the time out to separate the valuable coins from the pennies, each unit comes out to:
  • 9 pp (1197 in the total haul)
  • 40 gp (5320)
  • 50 ep (6650)
  • 150 sp (19,950)
  • 500 cp (66,500)
Depending on the circumstances, I'll ask for some sort of ability check (DEX or INT, I guess) to see how accurately they sort out their coins. Disadvantaged if they're in a rush.
  • 15+: 100%
  • 12-14: (80 + 1d6)%
  • 9-11: (60 + 1d6)%
  • 0-8: (50 - 1d6)%
In my game notes, I've roughed out how much of each character's carrying capacity is accounted for already, in case people start ditching items to free up space.

At the table, I'm sure things will get hand-wavey in a hurry, but these figures should give me some general guidelines to go by.


Popular posts from this blog

Knaves, fancypants

I've prepared a new layout document of Ben Milton's Knaves . Knaves is a great, light rules set that has an extremely elegant core mechanic while retaining total compatibility with OSR material. It's pretty much the rpg of my dreams. This document contains the complete rules, plus a bunch of useful hacks from the community, plus a few of my invention, plus some useful resources from Ben Milton's previous effort, Maze Rats . EDIT: I've updated the layout to fix errata and make a few tweaks. Further, I've made 3 variations: KNAVES TABLET LAYOUT The Tablet Layout is meant for scrolling on screens, and contains hyperlinks. KNAVES SPREAD LAYOUT The Spread Layout is set up to print on Letter-sized paper. KNAVES A4 LAYOUT The A4 Layout is set up to print on A4 paper, and is probably the most elegant of the three versions. This is presented with generous permission from Ben Milton, and should in no way be an excuse for not purchasing a copy of Knav

Maze Rats by Post

In my previous post , I reviewed a bunch of my favorite rulesets for optimization for Play-by-Post. It occurred to me almost immediately that I hadn't really thought about Maze Rats enough. In fact, I'd mis-remembered and mischaracterized it. Upon reflection, one of the mechanics I took issue with is actually a big strength. Re-reading the rules, it seems like just a few very simple hacks could make it a highly-optimized PbP game. As follows: Danger Rolls are rolled by the GM. Danger rolls usually fail, so it is in the player’s interest to describe their actions plausibly and mitigate as many risks as they can, in the hopes that they don’t trigger a danger roll. 2d6 + ability bonus ≥ 10 If you have taken enough precautions to have a distinct advantage in an action, but not enough to have eliminated the distinct possibility of danger, the GM will give you a roll with advantage. 3d6 keep 2 + ability bonus ≥ 10 Because each character only has 3 ability scores (S

Reviewing Rules for Play-by-Post Optimization

I’ve played a lot of PbP games: all your favorite flavors of OD&D, AD&D, and their retroclones, Call of Cthulhu, Marvel Superheroes, Traveller, Dungeon World, etc. ad nauseam. In almost every instance, I forgot what ruleset we were using at some point. Which is a good thing. Once chargen is over, you spend a lot more time describing your characters actions and poring over the GM’s descriptions than you spend interacting with rules. When you do roll, it’s usually a combat to-hit roll, which you’ve probably programmed into the online dice-roller as a macro. Pretty much any game will work for PbP. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t points of possible optimization. Point 1: Resolution. Anything that can keep the action moving is a boon to PbP. A game that requires a back-and-forth exchange of information to resolve an action is going to progress very slowly. A good rule of thumb is that it’ll take 2 or 3 days to get a response from any given player. At that pace, an exch