Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ulthor the Conjurer In the Random Rainbow Maze

The Random Rainbow Maze was the first solo released by Ken St. Andre under his Trollhalla Press brand in 2010. The Rainbow Maze is a "fun house" style dungeon, meaning that it was designed with the sole purpose of luring in delvers with the promise of wealth and fame but typically offering only an early grave. The monsters found within fun house-style dungeons the monsters are a varied mix of creatures with no reason of being there other than to fight delvers. The general rule in a fun house dungeon is that nothing makes sense; assume everything will be illogical.

Interestingly the Rainbow Maze has no instructions and therefore there are no guidelines for how powerful your character should be; no mention of level or adds. Nor does it provide any stipulations on character type or kindred. I'll just have to hope that Ulthor has what it takes to make it out alive. The introductory paragraph does say that the maze is a "magic free zone" but for the sake of this experiment with Specialist Mages, and my own fun, I'll ignore that one rule.

I played using the 7.5e rules which means I used spite damage, did not reduce the number of dice used by opponents as their Monster Rating decreased, used the Wizardry attribute to power spells, and required an Intelligence Saving Roll to successfully cast spells.

Be advised that the following play report contains a lot of spoilers about the Random Rainbow Maze.


Ulthor the Conjurer walked down a long and winding path toward a large square stone building. Lining the path were highly detailed statues of all of the various humanoid kindreds; they were all delvers by their appearance. Many were sculpted in posed of rage or surprise. Ulthor noted the statues, but kept his eyes focused on the building ahead. Here was the famous Rainbow Maze, built to test the skills of delvers and reward those who were worthy. He tried not to think about what happened to those who were not worthy.

Ulthor finally made it to the end of the path. He stood before the great building facing two doors. Suddenly a man appeared in front of him. He was a small man with skin the color of polished ebony. Ulthor could feel strong magic emanating from him; he must be a powerful Wizard.

"I am the Maze Master," the Wizard said. "Do you wish to enter the Rainbow Maze?"

"Yes," Ulthor said without hesitation.

"The task is simple," the Maze Master explained. "Simply enter the Maze, kill any creatures you may meet, and exit at the other end. Any treasure you find along the way is yours to keep. You won't need your lantern inside; the walls glow in different colors so you'll be able to see well enough."

"Sounds simple enough," Ulthor replied.

"Indeed," the Wizard smiled, but there was nothing friendly about it. "Start when you are ready."

Ulthor looked at the two doors. They were identical. Ulthor shrugged, drew one of his banks and opened one of the doors.

Ulthor stepped through the doorway and into a 20' square room. The walls glowed with a deep red color casting an eerie light. On the floor in the center of the room was a strange-looking animal carcass. Ulthor slowly approached the carcass drawing his second bank as he did so. Suddenly the 'carcass' rose to it's feet! It was a bizarre creature the size of a dog with the body of a spider, the head of an eagle, and the claws of a lobster.

"What sort of of demented creation are you?" Ulthor exclaimed.

Suddenly the creature attacked! Ulthor gripped his banks and defended his life. For all of it's horrific appearance the monster was a pathetic thing (MR10), so Ulthor quickly put it out of its misery.

[Ulthor won the fight in a single combat turn.]

Ulthor inspected the now most definitely dead creature to see if he could learn anything about how it was created. In doing so, Ulthor found a pouch containing three gold coins. Ulthor pocketed the coins then began to search the room. There were no obvious exits other than the door he came in and that was now locked. After carefully searching for concealed doors Ulthor finally went to the locked door and knocked. Ulthor heard a click and the door opened. Standing there was the Maze Master.

"It took you long enough," the Maze Master said. "Come on out. Would you like to try the other door?"

"That wasn't much of a maze," Ulthor commented as he walked out. "But yes, I will try the other door."

Ulthor promptly opened the second door and entered the Maze once again. This time Ulthor found himself in a long corridor with glowing orange walls. As he advanced, the passage turned at sharp angles several times but kept to the same basic heading. Finally Ulthor came to two more doors, one in the wall to his left, the other ahead of him at the end of the corridor.

Ulthor decided to go left. He opened the door and entered a small room with glowing yellow walls. Inside was yet another bizarre creature, this one appeared to be half frog and half goblin.

"Fascinating," Ulthor said in admiration of the Maze Master's skills.

The creature held a jagged bronze knife in its hand and approached Ulthor with obviously ill intent. Ulthor steadied himself. Fighting this creature would be tough, but perhaps he could bind it to his will. He would need to be quick. Ulthor focused his mind and reached out to the froglin. The froglin rushed in with knife raised. As the blade descended, Ulthor grabbed the froglin's wrist and forced his will upon the creature. The froglin did not have the strongest mind so it was a brief struggle. Soon the froglin stood looking at Ulthor intently waiting to do his bidding.

[Ulthor cast Spirit Mastery to bind the froglin to his will. The spell requires touch to be effective, so he first made a L1SR on SPD13 by rolling a 7 (+2 for level) to grab the froglin's arm before it could attack. He then made a L2SR on INT14 to successfully cast the spell by rolling a 25 (three sets of doubles!) (+2 for level) costing him 4 WIZ.]

"Is there any treasure here?" Ulthor asked the froglin.

The froglin quickly presented Ulthor with a small pouch. Opening it Ulthor was happy to see six gold coins.

"Good boy. Now lets be on our way."

Seeing no other doors or exits, Ulthor led the froglin back out the door he entered and into the twisting corridor. Ulthor decided to push on with his new bodyguard and tried the door at the end of the passage.

The door opened to reveal a long corridor with a glowing green wall and a glowing blue wall. There was a new door near him and two more doors at the other end of the corridor. They all looked the same.

"Now this is more like a maze," Ulthor remarked. The froglin did not comment. "Ah well, let's try this one."

Ulthor opened the door and entered a large chamber. Standing in the chamber was a massive 8' tall humanoid with the head of a lion wearing leather armor and carrying a broad bladed spear. The lion man roared and attacked without hesitation.

Ulthor once again focused his will, this time attempting to hold his foe in place.

"STOP!" he commanded and the lion man froze in place. "Get him!" Ulthor commanded his froglin.

The froglin happily charged forward and plunged his knife into the lion man's gut. The lion man roared in agony, then broke free of his magical bonds and attempted to skewer the froglin. Ulthor charged forward with his banks and fought side by side with his new companion. Even with the horrific wound the froglin inflicted, the lion man was a formidable opponent. But finally Ulthor and his froglin were able to bring the beast down. Panting, Ulthor checked himself over; somehow he had make it though the fight unscathed as had his froglin.

[Ulthor cast Hold That Pose in the first combat turn. He made a L1SR on INT14 by rolling a 13 (one set of doubles!) (+2 for level) to cast the spell costing him 2 WIZ. The froglin got a free attack on the helpless lion man scoring 21 hits. The subsequent fight lasted six combat turns. While they never lost a combat turn, Ulthor and his froglin took 2 points of spite damage each.]

"Not bad for a Mage," Ulthor said as he set about searching the carcass. "Watch the door froglin."

The lion mans armor was ruined but his spear was not. It was a heavy thing so Ulthor gave it to the froglin to carry. Then Ulthor found a hefty pouch hidden in the lion mans mane. Inside were 200 silver coins.

With no other way to go, Ulthor left the chamber and went back to the corridor to pick a new door. He decided to try the door next to the one leading to the lion man.

The door opened easily and revealed an L-shaped corridor with dully glowing gray walls. There were three new doors, one just opposite the door he entered and two more at the opposite end of the corridor.

"This is getting tiring, let's just try this door."

Ulthor opened the door in front of him and stepped through, only to be attacked by a huge jungle troll!

"COME NO FURTHER!" Ulthor shouted exuberantly. The jungle troll froze in place and the froglin happily rushed forward and stabbed it with his bronze knife. Confident in victory, Ulthor rushed forward with his own daggers hoping to bring down the fearsome troll in hand-to-hand combat. At first things went well; both Ulthor and the froglin wounded the troll even further even if Ulthor did receive a large scratch across his face for the effort. But then Ulthor noticed that some of the trolls wounds were healing even as he fought. The jungle troll then got the best of Ulthor and his froglin delivering more wound while fending off their dagger. As more of the trolls wounds healed, it grew stronger. Seeing his own imminent death, Ulthor steeled his mind and commanded the troll once again.

"STOP!" he shouted with much more desperation. The troll froze in place. Ulthor could see the rage and panic in the trolls eyes as the froglin attacked again. This time the troll had been weakened too much. Ulthor moved in to join his froglin and the troll fell while trying in vain to ward off their combined attacks.

[Ulthor cast Hold That Pose in the first combat turn once again (it's a very potent spell). He made a L1SR on INT14 by rolling a 7 (+2 for level) to cast the spell costing him 2 WIZ. The froglin got a free attack on the helpless jungle troll scoring 22 hits. Unfortunately, the troll regenerated 1/10 of it's current MR each combat turn. Ulthor fought with his daggers for two combat turns then, facing a likely defeat, decided to cast HTP again, rolling a 5 (+2 for level) on his L1SR on INT14. The jungle troll was frozen in place again allowing the froglin a free attack who inflicted 25 hits leaving the troll with a MR of 14. Even after the troll regenerated, the fight lasted just one more combat turn. In the end, Ulthor took 1 points of spite damage and his froglin took 1 hit.]

Ulthor stopped to bandage his wounds then quickly search the troll but found nothing of value.

"Let's get going," he then said to his froglin. "It may get up again."

Looking around Ulthor saw two doors at the other end of the corridor. He picked one at random and stepped through into another corridor. The walls glowed a bright yellow and a bright blue. There was just one door at the other end of the hall.

"This could be good or bad," Ulthor commented to his froglin.

Opening the door, Ulthor was greeted by sunlight and fresh air. He had made it out alive!

The Maze Master was standing there smiling.

"Congratulations," he said. "You surprised me; I did not think you would make it through. I see you have made a friend. I'm afraid that I will have to return him to my maze though."

The Maze Master snapped his fingers and the froglin vanished.

"Now for your final reward," the Maze Master said. He reached into his robe and pulled out a pouch that he pressed into Ulthor's hands. The bag was full of gold, silver, and copper coins.

"Do you wish to try again?" the Maze Master asked. "The challenges will be twice as difficult but the reward will be twice as great."

The Maze Master's smiled evilly and waited for Ulthor's reply.

"No, I think I will need to rest," Ulthor answered, "but thank you for the offer."

Ulthor bowed to the Maze Master and walked back down the statue-lined trail grateful that he did not encounter whatever had doomed the scores of delvers around him.


Thus ends the adventures of Ulthor the Conjurer in the Random Rainbow Maze. Ulthor racked up quite a few Adventure Points from casting magic and combat, but I only gave Ulthor half the MR rating of the lion man and jungle troll in APs since he had help in those two fights. In addition to the APs earned from defeating monsters and making Saving Rolls Ulthor was awarded 1D6 x 100 = 600 bonus Adventure Points for successfully completing the adventure! In all, Ulthor earned 795 Adventure Points. He did not get a lot of treasure out of the ordeal however, only earning 43 gold pieces worth of coins in addition to the lion man's spear. Using my house rule table for selling items, Ulthor made a L1SR on Luck and was able to get 16 gold pieces for the spear. I assumed the large 6D6 spear was roughly equivalent to a pilum and worth 40 gp.

Ulthor's magic was quite effective. I intended to use Spirit Mastery as soon as possible to obtain some more fighting power. Hold That Pose was another incredibly effective spell; it allowed Ulthor and his froglin servant to defeat the lion man and jungle troll. The real challenge of magic in 7.5e is that it requires the caster to make a Saving Roll on Intelligence at the level of the spell being cast. That can make magic a bit of a gamble, especially when delving solo. I got really lucky with some of the magic saving rolls. The casting of Spirit Mastery was especially risky; if Ulthor missed the SR, that froglin would have gotten a free attack and likely killed him. But getting a bodyguard was essential if Ulthor was to have any hope of in the maze success, so the it was worth the risk. The same is true of the Hold That Pose spells. If Ulthor had missed those SRs then the froglin would have history and Ulthor likely would have joined him in short order.

But as it was Ulthor successfully navigated the maze and emerged alive and victorious. With the Adventure Points he earned Ulthor was able to increase his Intelligence to 17, his Luck to 14, his Dexterity to 13, and his Charisma to 9 with 15 APs left over. With the money he acquired, Ulthor decided to invest 30 gp in a kukri to give himself a little more power in combat. The rest he held onto to keep himself fed and sheltered.

Name: Ulthor the Conjurer

Type: Specialist Mage - Conjuring
Gender: Male
Kindred: Human
Level: 2

STR 12
DEX 13
CON 10
SPD 13
LUK 14
INT 17
WIZ 28

Adds: +4

Talent: History 18 (INT+4), Arcane Symbology 19 (INT+5)

Adventure Points: 15 (795)

Money: 35 gp

Weight Carried/Possible: 352/1200

Spells: Call Flame, Call Water, Dem Bones Gonna Rise, Hold That Pose, Oh-Go-Away, Sparkle, Will-o-Wisp, Spirit Mastery

Weapons: Kukri (2D+5), 2 Banks (2D+3), Common Sling (2D)

Armor: Soft Leather (5 hits)

Equipment: Cotton trousers and shirt, leather belt, hooded cloak, ankle-high hard boots, sling stones, backpack, belt pouch, lantern, 4 flasks of oil, flint and steel, small mirror, parchment (10), quill pen, ink bottle, chalk (10), small sack, water skin, first aid kit


  1. An interesting play report. :0).

    I also hadn't realised just how potent the combination of HTP and Spirit Mastery could be. Walk into a room, run into a great hulking beast, ask him to hold still and, then enslave it.

    Out of curiosity, did you have sufficient attributes to hold the Lion Man in place with HTP, walk over to him and, let yourself a second slave? (Assuming you made the SR's that is).

    1. Thanks Tom.

      Yes, the INT Saving Roll requirement really keeps Wizards in check. As I said above, using Spirit Mastery was a gamble. If I'd missed the SR, Ulthor would have been in real trouble.

      Ulthor's combined INT, WIZ, and CHR was a 50, so no he could not have bound the lion man to his will with Spirit Mastery.

      In addition, the way I see Spirit Mastery working is that your INT, WIZ, and CHR have to be equal to or greater than the combined MR of the creatures your are binding to your will. So to get the froglin (MR 22) and lion man (MR 58) you'd need a combined score of 80.

      Of course the issue with Spirit Mastery is that this score is based on your current attributes. As you cast spells and your WIZ decreases you may suddenly find yourself losing control of your servants.

    2. I agree with your take on Spirit Mastery. A potent spell but not without it's risks, such as the almost certain backlash when you free your "followers".

      Interesting to think though that even a Specialist Mage (the heads of their respective fields) struggle despite all their gifts. It's almost like they need beefing up.. Not that they don't get enough beef as they level up.