[Actual Play] Like Unto Gods Pt. 1 (AD&D 2e); Unstoppable Force

It was in the Year of the Splintered Throne that from mount Thalask came again the evil force that laid waste the region around the Sleepers Teeth, bringing with it impossible storms, crop blights, plagues and deformed livestock, so that even the Orcs and Giants of the region fled for fear of their lives, and the village of Tharakil was threatened with famine and extinction. Heeding their desperate call for aid with a promise of fertile tracts of land for reward, the Six did gather from all the corners of the Realm, and turned their wrothful gaze upon mount Thalask.

One among them did not heed the call, lost in contemplation of the nature of good and evil. He would join them soon. Five assembled. Brandoch Daha, a fearsome killer of giants and dragons, endowed with terrible strength by his gauntlets, belt and terrible hammer of thunderbolts. Sir Gisselher, the greatest knight and paragon of justice in the Realm. The mysterious figure, master thief, assassin and spy known only as Gyges, the Neutral Archmage Simeon, and the hero Lemmikainen half-elven, whose deeds and songs are known even in this later Age.

Hearing that the villagers suspected the Archmage Azureax, who had ascended Mount Thalask two centuries prior, built there his sanctum, and by his deed renamed the mountain The Cradle of the Gods, they set out to work. Simeon did use his arts of metamorphosis to create jars of powerful acids from salt and water and carried these. When he peered into his orb, he espied the lower mountain, but could not see the Tower of Azureax, for it was surrounded by enchantments of a power beyond even his.
Brandoch daha did gather his Shield-Biters, who are considered fearsome throughout all the land, and endowed each of them with quarrels of silver. Every night of their week long sojourn to Tharakil, Sir Gisselher prayed to the God for guidance, and received as an answer that Azureax was connected with the terrible calamity that had befallen the Sleepers Teeth. But of any other questions regarding the dealings and capabilities of Azureax, there was only a terrible silence. In the crystal ball they found many caverns in the roots of Mount Thalask, and also saw that its peak was ever wreathed in terrible storms. But the peak itself was hidden from the prying gaze of the Crystal Ball, so that it revealed nothing. The divination revealed also the existence of a would-be king of giants that the heroes would face afore they could ascend the mountain.

In Thalask they met with the village elder by the name of Trondlanc, and they inquired also after the sage Hheltus the Elder, a venerable half-elf who in his youth had met Azureax, and gave extra explanation. After the decimation of a clan of mountain giants, Azureax had retreated from the world, to construct his sanctum. It was thought that he visited devastation upon the surrounding countryside in anger over failed experiments. And this had happened before in the long history of the region, though never this severe. It was resolved that Azureax had to be confronted.

They learned also of one who knew the region well, the Barbarian Kauth Redhelm. Redhelm was not intimidated by the likes of Brandoch Daha, and called him an idle boaster, and that he would only serve those who bested him in a contest of strength. At this Brandoch Daha gave a hearty laugh, and met the bronze-thewed barbarian on the field, taking off his impregnable mail (which has in it links of adamant) but keeping his girdle and gauntlets of ogre strength. The two met, Redhelm twisting Brandoch’s ankle, Brandoch soon taking the barbarian in a headlock, and having taken hold, delivered such crushing pressure that the barbarian passed out. When he awoke, he uttered a hearty laugh, and vowed to teach them the ways of climbing the mountain. ‘For climbing a mountain is like making love to a woman,’ he spake, ‘you need a firm grip, lest she slip through your fingers and cast you into the void!’

At about this time they decided to reconnoitre the area. Sir Gisselher used his sorcery to speak unto the Birds, and finding a hawk, attempted to sway the creature to scout the valleys for the camp of the Giant King. The hawk prattled of mice and songbirds that it had taken, and then denied Sir Gisselher’s request. Irate, Simeon used his magic to turn himself into a Hawk, and scouted the area until he found the camp of the Giant Lord, and watched it well until orcs spotted him, and made to slay him with arrows.

Twoscore ogres, sixy orcs, ferocious trolls, and led by cruel half-ogres and terrible frost and mountain giants. So mighty were they, they had subdued a white dragon of great age to their will, and had bound it and forced it to drag their treasure like a beast of burden. All manner of devious plots were afoul, in that camp, until these were abruptly ended. For they warred against the Six, and none can stand against them. Even though Gyges had wandered off, making use of his ring of invisiblity, on some strange errand, and they were but 4, this army of monsters was no match.

Wasting no time, Lemmikainen called up his phantom steed, and rode it across the heavens, setting down near the camp, unseen, and cast on him a spell of improved invisibility. Moving up to the dragon, he distracted the nearby Orc guards with his wand of illusion, making a great roaring of the wind, and under cover of the noise, snuck up to the dragon, whispering to it. He had already deployed his spell of mind-reading, so he was proof against deception, and whispering, promised the Dragon freedom and only bade it flee once the crack of thunder sounded. The Dragon was desperate for freedom, and acceded. With his scimitar of speed, Lemmikainen struck the ropes binding its wings, and with a roar, it set itself free and unleashed its fury on the giants. 10 of the Ogres perished, and the Giant King was smitten as the creature took of, strafing the camp. Confused, the camp armed themselves.

Lemmikainen was now slow, for in his desperate flight for the phantom steed, he had forgotten to give the signal to his comrades, and so cost them some time. He again used the wand of illusion, and conjured forth the aspect and roar of a great Red Dragon above the camp. This marked the signal, and his comrades came, brought in by teleportation. Running back, Lemmikainen was in time to raise a wall of stone around the tents of the giant kings.

As sudden as thunder they appeared. They were but three, though only one was visible, the rest concealed behind invisibility. The camp rallied, ogres and orcs and half-ogres roaring with hate as they made to charge the lone hero. With a great roar, Brandoch Daha cast his Thunder Hammer, and smote the evil priest in black mail in the chest, so that his armor deformed under the blow, and his spell was ruined. And the noise and power of the impact was such that all the orcish host and the ice trolls were numbed and could not react. And sir Gisselher too stepped forward, and with the holy sword smote the Ogre chieftain, stopping him in his tracks. Simeon cast on the immured tents a cloudkill spell, seeking perhaps to punish the giants. Ogres without number surged forth, their clubs and blows deflected by impregnable mail of adamant, or breaking on skin like stone, for Sir Gisselher had been protected with the Stoneskin spell before they had set out. The giant lord and his frost giant thanes stepped over the stone wall with a contemptuous roar, grasping weapons, eager to get away from the killing mist.

With a leap of his striding boots Brandoch Daha, impervious to all but the most felling blows, leapt over the throng of ogres, and smote the Frost Giant dead with a single blow. His brother roared a giantish oath of vengeance, and dealt Brandoch Daha a blow in turn that made even his shield groan. But Brandoch Daha was not afeared, and with a second blow, struck the giant’s brother dead. Sir Gesselher struck dead the Ogre Chief, and one more Ogre fell, as the mountain Giant, shielded by a gang of Ogres, prepared to deal him a terrible blow. Simeon unleashed on the assembled Orcs a ball of flame from his staff of power, and orcs and half-ogre chieftains burned, and their armor ran like molten wax. From behind the Ogres, Lemmikainen came and struck an Ogre in the back with his scimitar, so that he cried out in surprise and pain.

Now again, but minutes had passed when Brandoch daha raised his hand and once more cast the Hammer of Thunderbolts at the Orcs and their half-ogre chieftain, and though he was enveloped by powerful magics because of his ring and bracers, the Hammer pierced all such feeble protections, and smote him so that he reeled in pain, and the orcs were again stunned by the fury of the thunderclap. Sir Gisselher had by this time struck down another Ogre, and was yet untouched as even the Giant could not pierce his skin of stone. Simeon unleashed the spell of Slow, and all were enveloped in it, so that they moved as poured molasses from a bottle, and their roaring became drawn out and slow. Only around Sir Gisselher, the enchantment had no effect, for he was protected by his Holy Sword. Another Ogre was struck down by Lemmikainen in the confusion.

Their morale buckling, the Giant King roared some inaudible command, as from the ranks leapt Brandoch Daha, with a curious grace imparted by the Slow spell, to strike him dead with a single blow. Ogres fell to the swift swords of Gisselher and Lemmikainen. Even Simeon ran forward, and joined in the melee. Demoralized by the death of their foes, the Half-Ogre lord Urgz sounded a retreat, which became a rout, as the creatures ran for the protection of the forest. But Lord Ugz was permitted no such retreat, for Simeon followed him with his boots, which endow him with the speed of the fleetest horse, and when he was near he loosed more missiles from his staff at the Chief, who, stricken with darts, kept running. His magic ring allowed him to shrug off the spell of Slow that Simeon unleashed upon him, but he could not escape Simeon, who moved at almost double his pace.
A second rain of darts came, and with a dimension door, a cunning ambush, and all in vain, for Lord Urgz, though bleeding from many terrible wounds, yet lived. He drew his sword and swung at nothing but air, for Simeon was as of yet invisible. The wizard struck him with his staff of power, and Urgz spat teeth.

Now the invisibility wore off, and Urgz uttered a last desperate curse, and swung his blade to hit, only to have struck yet another illusion. Tired of fighting ghosts, he cast down his sword in disgust and surrendered. Taking him captive, the Four picked over the remnants of the camp, and finding three great chests filled with gold coins, and the enchanted rings and bracers and weapons of the half-Ogre, they prepared to take him to Thalask, and there to put him to question regarding the wizard Azureax.

Their ordeal had only begun. Now they were only Four. Soon they would be Six. But what challenges yet lay in wait for them?

The Heroes
Brandoch Daha (Ftr 17, hp 83)
Sir Gisselher (Pal 15, hp 78)
Lemmikainen Half-elven (Bard 20, hp 54)
Gyges (Thf 20, hp 69)
Simeon the Magician (Mu 15, hp 30)

The Vanquished
King Zhrodar IV
2 Frost Giants
20 Ogres
2 Ogre Thanes
1 Ogre Chief
60 Orcs
5 Ice Trolls
Lord Urgz – Half Ogre
Burlyhir – Half Ogre
Hafjak – Half Ogre
Azakyi – Half Ogre


14 thoughts on “[Actual Play] Like Unto Gods Pt. 1 (AD&D 2e); Unstoppable Force

    1. An excellent choice of module, it will be interesting to see how it plays. The “picture of Dorian Gray” villain in this one has cast a great many wishes on his fortress to hinder magical attempts to enter. The archmage’s scheme makes reasonable sense; spell limitations are plausible; it is genuinely a task for high level types, with the prospect of a substantial land reward. Not stellar stuff, but three stars seems fair. Will flaws emerge from play?
      I would imagine the intention was for this to be played with Unearthed Arcana rules, rather than 2E. Stoneskin is a little different; 2E fireballs are limited to 10d6 (but, if I remember correctly, Delayed Blast Fireball is not?)

      Decent tactics from the PCs against the mini army. How experienced are the players?


      1. [Experience]

        One DMed Dream House for us so extremely. Others are complete neophytes.


        I suspected it would be easier to adjust this one to 2e then it would be to run Labyrinth of Madness for 1e. Its true, there are a few changes, Giants and Dragons are tougher too, but for the most part it is manageable. DB Fireball is still nerfed in 2e but the Skills & High Level options sets the cap at 15d6 instead of the usual 10. MR and its operation is one of the worst changes. Still, 2e is serviceable. I have figured out a system where everyone types in their speed factor while declaring their actions.


    1. Thank you for your kind words. Nothing obsessive practice and reading Viking Sagas, Tolkien, Eddison, Blood Meridian, Milton and Hodginson’s Night Land won’t get you. I love writing but I do not know if I will be inspired enough to try my hand at fiction.


  1. There are some fairly blatant differences between 2E and 1E already showing up. Improved invisibility in 1E is restricted to illusionists…here we have it as a ready spell of both the wizard and bard (the practical value of II is not to be underestimated). And stoneskin is far more potent in 2E, as the UA version (if I recall correctly) only protects from a single attack sequence.

    Still, great to see you getting back to your roots and running some AD&D2.
    : )


    1. R.E. Stoneskin. II and Stoneskin will demonstrate their merits throughout the course of the early adventure I am sure. I am trying to recall if a similar provision for high HD creatures seeing through invisibility exists in 2e btw.

      Great fun so far. And I already have an idea for a high level adventure that I might include in NAP III if it does not become too big.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. IIRC you need very expensive material components for Stoneskin. That can help limit its usage. Wasn’t it hundreds if not thousands of gp worth of diamond dust?

        I have a co-worker who quit D&D because of that spell. Apparently back in college he was playing in an Undermountain campaign and the DM got sick of them always casting Stoneskin at the start of the adventure. He got fed up and ambushed the party with an overpowering NPC group (who, naturally, all had Stoneskin cast on them). The players got so fed up that they all quit. My co-worker hasn’t played D&D since.


      2. “Powdered granite and diamond dust” is listed as the material component for both 1st & 2nd edition, but no cost is given (nor even an exact amount…how much is a ‘sprinkle?’). A gross oversight, and…naturally…yet more reason to not play 2E nor use UA.
        ; )


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