Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Session 02: The Greatest Allies

Session 02 played on 11.15.20

Foreword 

After session 1 I instituted a semi real time system for running downtime behavior between sessions. This is a concept I got from AD&D first edition (1e) from reading the 1e DMG and playing in a 1e campaign. The idea is that the game session takes place in the game world on the same day of the year that the session took place in real world. November 8th in the real world and game world.

Warg Riders

Additionally, downtime that takes 3 days to complete will take 3 real days to complete. Meaning players have about a week of days in the game world to work with because that's how many days in the real world between sessions. This may have the strange effect of what our 1e group called "Time Compression" wherein a party decided to travel to a dungeon that is two weeks away; thus making them inelgible to adventure in a session that takes place 1 week away! 

Wild! 

We'll see how this group of players handles that. Player downtime requests were all over the place! 

One player is rumormonging about the upper crusts of the Keep and attached village, the elven ranger wandered off into the forest to "talk to the animals", while another player is attempting to case some good buildings to burgle. What hath I wrought?! 

These divergent player interests allowed me to let the dice tell me where the hooks and game world would go. I'd have never thought to tell a player "hey the animals tell you about a 'white lady of the forest'" if a player hadn't inspired me to come up with some answer to his downtime request. The dice truly have oracular power. 

That said, the players opted to go back to the dome shaped dungeon deep in the Viaspen forest; which they have deemed the "Blister of Doom". 

Session Report 

The party traveled into the Viaspen forest leaving in the morning. Some 8 hours later they arrived at the high dome of black rock which they had delved the previous week. 

The Viaspen forest, despite being overgrown and treachorous to travelers, offered no challenge this day. No random encounters or unfortunate events. BriarWhisper (PC L1 Elven Ranger) had wandered the wood during his downtime learning from the animals that smash-faced green men riding huge rabid wolves had captured some humans on the outskirts of the forest "before the leaves changed". 

The party was unsure if these monsters had gone back to the Blister or not but they were on the lookout. 

Entering the crack in the side of the stone dome, the party noticed the small dogbrothers who held watch at the entrance the previous week were nowhere to be found. They entered the strange temple under the dome and went west along the wide stucco covered hallway, their torchlight flickering dancing reflections off the polished brick floor. Turning a corner the party hit a dead end of black rubble with a wooden and iron wrought door on a side wall. Gaius (PC L1 Fighter) easily pushed the stuck door in. 

Inside was a medium room with a skeleton covered in webs and a ragged leather curtain crossing a hall leading out of the room. The party bypassed the corpse and curtain and found themsevles in a long stone closet. Before they had time to investigate they were surprised by two dog sized spiders that dropped down on them and attacked. 

Leo takes a dive

One of the spiders bit into and ripped off Leo's face (PC L1 Cleric) leaving him unconscious, perhaps dead (?) on the ground. Don (PC L1 Fighter) kicked the diabolical thing off his compatriot. The other spider failed to bite into the flesh of any other adventurer as it hopped around nipping at their legs and dodging the falls of massive steel weaponry which echoed into the small chamber. It eventually scurried out of the room to flee as the other spider was smashed by the intrepid heroes. 

The party found a garnet gripped in the hand of a rotted corpse vicitim of the spiders. Hektor (PC L1 Paladin) used Lay on Hands to pull Leo back from the cold hands of death. But the cleric was shaken and must needs return to civilization to rest for one week. 

The party bravely fled the dungeon. 

At the doorway they were stopped by voices in the darkness outside the range of their torchlight who appeared to be telling them to halt. Halt? No. Charge! 

The two door guards, by Hektor the Foe Hunter's reckoning, turned out to be Gnolls. Beastmen trained to fight with as much discipline as the Auran Legions! It showed, since Gaius took a nasty slash from a glaive that nigh felled him before the party surrounded and slurried the brains of the Gnolls; a handful of gold ducats for their trouble. 

Upon return to Turos Tem Gaius donated 10 GP to the hospital for the healing services from Priestess Genelen (NPC Priestess and Hospitaler). Leo was made comfortable in the hospital to rest from his injuries, nightmares of facehuggers dancing through his fevered imagination. The party stayed in the village a day to recover an rest a bit and search out a new compatriot to replace the lost Leo. 

Dama the Venturer, a replacement PC for Leo, seemed to fit the bill perfectly! What party couldn't use a merchant as they crawl across a monster infested wilderness and deep into the depths of hell itself? 

Back in the Viaspen forest the party did not make it to the dungeon without incident as before. Goblin warg riders! Perhaps the ones the ranger had heard so many animal squeaks about. BriarWhisper noticed the warband before the party was upon them and was able to back up his compatriots from an unfortunate encounter. The riders had 5 human commoners tied at the hands and were leading them on a chain towards the black dome dungeon some few hours away. Surely an ambush was called for! 

The party got off a few missile attacks on the wretched little beastmen but their morale did not break quickly. Hektor was quickly felled as a warg rider was upon him and ripped out his throat whilst its rider stabbed with a spear. Don was not far behind, face-down in the underbrush. 

Dama strategic retreat

The party fought bravely as blood painted the Viapsen vines. Except Dama who appeared to break morale as he took off into the trees back to Turos Tem! Was this our greatest ally, indeed? 

Two warg riders stormed off at his heels. 

BriarWhisper, just before being knocked from his treetop ambush point by the ravenous canines charging the tree itself, was able to get a clean shot off at the goblin king. The little monarch didn't die but his fear of death did overtake him and he rode off as fast as his beast would convey him. Soon all of the goblins, despite their overwhelming numbers, fled behind him; leaving the party victorious if down possibly two of their number. The human captives were left behind by the beastmen. 

Dama (PC L1 Venturer) on the other hand, was forced to bribe the remaining goblin who had chased him some hundred yards away. One wonders if death or the pain of handing over hard earned coin was more painful for the merchant. 

The party wasted no time checking on Don and Hektor, rolling over their bodies and praying to the gods that their time had not yet come. Hektor's time had come, unfortunately, and it was time he be burned so that Calefa could usher his soul to the afterlife and have Turas weigh his valor. As a loyal paladin of Turas, the party had reason to believe Hektor's chances to dwell in glory in the halls of Ammonar were high. 

Scales of Turas
One imagines Don's chances of same were much lower. Thankfully, the hour had not yet arrived for his valor to be weighed by Turas. He only needed a week of bed rest for a full recovery from his ordeal. Perhaps even a day if he could get the Priestess to magically heal him. The scar across his face, however, would stay indefinetly. A remembrance not to block the claws of a warg with one's cranium.

The party brought Hektor's body back to Turos Tem wherein it could receive a proper funerary pyre. The party was awared 20 GP for each of the human captives and celebrated among the citizenry as heroes of renown. 

Player Characters: 

Present 11.15.20: 

Briarwhisper (L1 Elven Ranger) played by RM. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 2 was 50 GP, 10 SP. XP gained in Session 2 was 139. Current Total XP: 570 

Dama (L1 Venturer) played by RR. Liquid Treasure gained in session 2 was 50 GP, 10 SP. XP gained from Session 2 was 75. Current total xp: 75 

Donald the Guardsman (L1 Fighter) played by MP. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 2 was 50 GP, 10 SP. XP gained in Session 2 was 139. Current Total XP:570 

Gaius (L1 Fighter) played by VoC. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 2 was 50 GP, 10 SP. XP gained in Session 2 was 145. Current Total XP: 596 

Leonidas the Inquisitor (L1 Cleric) played by RR.Liquid treasure Gained in Session 2 was 0 GP. XP gained in Session 2 was 67. Current Total XP:498 

Not Present: 

Darius LeVay (L1 Assassin) played by JB. Current Total XP:451 

Felix (L1 Thief) played by Nicholas. Current Total XP:431 

Deceased: 

Hektor (L1 Paladin) played by Moai. DECEASED. Cause of Death: goblin warg rider throat removal surgery in Session 2.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Session Report 1: An Expected Journey...

 

Session 01 played on 11.08.20

Foreword

I decided, a few weeks back, to begin running a campaign of the Adventurer Conqueror King System (ACKS) for some online friends. I was inspired by the AD&D 1st edition game I’ve been playing in. Can any DM say that they play as a PC and don’t spend much of the time analyzing their DM thinking “that’s cool but I’d do it this way…”? I certainly did, much to the chagrin of my DM who I’d play devil’s advocate with about rulings. I decided, rather than drive him up a wall, I’d run my own game. Simple as.

It’s my belief that 1e is the best system for the Adventurer phase of D&D style TTRPG adventure gaming. It does everything for that phase perfectly. PC classes? All unique! Combat? Fast and furious! Useful random tables? Copious!

My interest these days, however, is in the Conqueror and King phases of D&D style TTRPG adventure gaming. I want to see PC’s lead small bands of troops across a blasted wasteland. I want them to claim ancient cliffside ruins for their new banana republic of Bob’s Empire.I want them to dump hundreds of thousands of gold worth of treasure and materials into crafting an artifact, only to have it blast a hole in the side of their lab and leave then with a squid arm waving out their chest.

All gamer men of good will know that ACKS excels at this; so ACKS is my system of choice. Additionally, I love the antiquity style setting of the ACKS official modules. Injecting my own brand of fantasy foolishness into the somewhat grimdark Auran Empire setting should be quite fun indeed.

I also decided that, unlike all of my previous campaigns, I would run this game with theater of the mind. My success and failures of attempting this will be documented over time on this blog.

Session Report

Turos Tem

The party arrived at Turos Tem, a Keep on the Borderlands of the Auran Empire, in the morning of Vinethelen (Elevenmonth) the 15th (Divine-Day). They all arrived for their own reasons but the primary draw to go out to the edge of the empire being that Legate Valerian was offering 2,000 GP reward for adventurers who can put an end to the beastman threat from within the border. It was believed to be originating from the nearby Viaspen Forest due to beastmen raids on the villages and farmhouses near the woodland.

Accosted at the gate of Turos Tem, the PCs gave their name and business to the Subaltern Peleos Methori and the Annalist Hometri Socolo. The former a grizzled old military man with a badly broken nose, the latter with handsome features and a magisterial voice.The Empire records all the things!

Curious to speak with soldiers of Turos Tem, most of the party proceeded to the Headquarters Building, meeting Gaius the Legionnaire (PC Fighter L1). He informed the group about the goings on at the Keep and the party agreed to form a fellowship at least long enough to look into the problem of the beastmen raids.

Darius LeVay (PC Assassin L1) decided to visit the priestess Genelen at the Turos Tem’s hospital. He and a few other PCs attempted to get info and supplies out of her but the older dame was having none of what they were pitching. (Priestess Genelen current disposition to the party: Neutral/Uncertain) She did, however, agree to pay them double the value of healing herbs they may bring back to her up until a threshold of 200 GP a month (then at normal value) until Spring. Such herbs include: birthwort, comfrey, goldenrod, and woundwart.

Donald (PC Fighter L1) met with the Guildmaster Aeropos Karanos about a flyer calling for help finding missing merchants who were last seen leaving the town of Siadanos on the way to Turos Tem. Aeropos had little else to offer in the way of information but did pass along the rumor that Siadanos itself has seen better days. Since much of the Borderlands military forces had gone far west to Krysos, the town was run amok with thieves racketeering, gambling, and various hijinks. No law and order! Donald, curious about trade, also learned that all the border forts import grain, beer, wine and pottery from Siadanos. Though not as much lately.

The party set off to Siadanos and a farmhouse on its outskirts to investigate a recent attack. The men of the farmstead killed, the local peasants had since set up a makeshift funeral pyre for them. Locals claim the farmstead’s women had been taken into the forest by beastly creatures with drooling fangs and brutal weaponry. BriarWhisper (PC Elven Ranger L1) picked up the tracks easily and followed them to the forest and into its deep wood.

Dome of Doom?
The party was attacked by a grisly looking malformed wolf a few hours into their trek. After felling the beast, Bob (PC Fighter L1) broke some of the strange jagged bones growing out of its razored back.

Some hours later the party came upon a perfect dome of black rock rising above the lesser treetops.


Delving into a crack along the side of the dome brought them to some waist high dog creatures that BriarWhisper was able to decipher wanted a toll to allow the party entrance to a big bronze door behind them. The party paid just 4 silver pieces and entered the big door to find a wide hall going west to east with esoteric stuccoes painted on the north wall. The floor was glazed red brick. This was no natural cavern!


Delving deeper into the facility the party found a room with grotesque stuccoes of ritual orgi3s that Leonidas the Inquisitor (PC Cleric L1) realized was depicting acts done by cultists of Nasga, the Chthonic goddess of pain and lust.

Entrance to the Dungeon

Later the party faced down two large groups of the waist high chihuahua beastmen. The chief of the creatures begged for his life but Donald the Guardsman put the dog down.

Just nearby the party found the treasure horde of the creatures and their chief. Dealing with a poisonous asp that slithered among the various goods, the party secured the treasure and high tailed it back to Turos Tem.

 

 

 DM Musings

The session went well. Starting a new campaign has the disadvantage of having to establish the flow of the game itself. I avoided the "tavern meetup" scene as, in my experience, this uses up a great deal of game time. Players were thrust into the keep meeting with one another and establishing their personality and appearance for the Subaltern at the gate. Much like B2.

Theater of the Mind (TOTM) was a success generally. I feel as though the exploration aspect of the session went fast and was clear enough for players to make informed decisions and have a mental picture of what they were seeing. I didn't describe exact dimensions of the dungeon because no PC has the Mapping proficiency. 

Combat was a bit more cumbersome with TOTM. One player aired his criticisms after the session that it slowed things down and a few players didn't appear to know where they were positioned. I take responsibility for some of that and think some of that may have been due to a new game and players less familiar with marching orders and where they were in it. I believe these problems will be shored up in future sessions as I get a better handle on how to communicate with these particular players (some are new to me) and how best to use TOTM in combat. Growing pains!

Even with these growing pains I think TOTM is the proper approach for this campaign so I can respond to any adventure ideas the players want to explore in the future. Making a grid map for every dungeon in roll20 isn't feasible for the sandbox campaign I want to run.

Player Characters:

Present 11.08.20: 150 XP session pity bonus (158 for 5% bonus PC, 165 for 10% bonus PC)

Briarwhisper (L1 Elven Ranger) played by RM. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 1 was 3 GP, 8 SP, 162 CP. XP gained in Session 1 was 431. Current Total XP:431

Darius LeVay (L1 Assassin) played by JB.Liquid treasure Gained in Session 1 was 3 GP, 8 SP, 162 CP. XP gained in Session 1 was 451. Current Total XP:451

Donald the Guardsman (L1 Fighter) played by MP. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 1 was 3 GP, 8 SP, 162 CP. XP gained in Session 1 was 431. Current Total XP:431

Felix (L1 Thief) played by N. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 1 was 3 GP, 8 SP, 162 CP. XP gained in Session 1 was 431. Current Total XP:431

Gaius (L1 Fighter) played by VoC. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 1 was 3 GP, 8 SP, 162 CP. XP gained in Session 1 was 451. Current Total XP:451

Hektor (L1 Paladin) played by Moai. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 1 was 3 GP, 8 SP, 162 CP. XP gained in Session 1 was 431. Current Total XP: 431

Leonidas the Inquisitor (L1 Cleric) played by RR.Liquid treasure Gained in Session 1 was 3 GP, 8 SP, 162 CP. XP gained in Session 1 was 431. Current Total XP:431

Treasure Gained (crossed out means it was successfully sold for GP)

In ACKS PCs gain XP for all liquid value goods they bring back from the dungeon to civilization. This includes gems, jewels, jewelry and trade goods. But, to get coins for the items, they still need to sell it based on the normal ACKS economy rules (ACKS page 40). 

One PC, Gaius, used his downtime to attempt to sell all of the following to the quartermaster at Turos Tem and at the Forum in the attached village. Crossed out items were successfully sold. Others are still in the party's possession. The above list of the PCs with "Liquid Treasure Gained" includes an equal cut of what was successfully sold prior to the next session. Gems and jewelry are sold at 80% of their total value, generally.

1,100 CP

a red-gloss porcelain vase depicting the city of Aura worth 700gp 

14 bone fetishes (32 gp value each) worth 448 GP total

 9 rolls of red-dyed cloth (10 gp value and 4 stone each) worth 90 GP total

1 rolls of red-dyed cloth (10 gp value and 4 stone each) worth 10 GP total

7 Opelenean tapestries with abstract, colorful patterns (20 gp and 5 stone each) worth 140 GP total

Kobold Chief's copper torc worth 25 GP

Tarnished silver ring worth 10 GP

2 agates (25gp each) worth 50 GP total

 


 

 

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