Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Session 7: Beastman Bonanza!

 Foreword

There is a long standing theory in the OSR scene that players have more fun when they don't know the name of the creatures they are fighting. That the GM should never say "you see 5 orcs and they attack you with spears". "That's boring!" they claim. "Better you roll on this random chart I'm selling which has 12 weird features of orc type creatures. That way your players will always be confused because of the MYSTERY of it all. Certainly assure that the orc-type monsters your Players face are in an interesting lair with weird descriptions of what's in the room."

beastmen. does it matter
what they are if they're dead?

Session 7 of my ACKS game put the lie to all of that. 

The players face a dozen or so "pig men" (orcs, probably?) in a square room. They were just standing there waiting for the players to enter a square featureless room, like your DM would have happen when you played DND in middle school. Did you really care? Well that's not exactly true, I tossed out some throwaway line about how the not-orcs were sparring with their spears like they were in a Star Wars prequel, thus explaining why they were surprised. 

But the monsters didn't do anything particularly interesting in combat, just died mostly. And guess what? The players said this was the best session yet!

What means?

Well I believe the real fun for the players came from their own jokes with each other and the fact that they won and (so they thought) acquired a nice treasure haul. They also confirmed, in the most dramatic way possible, that a staff they acquired a month back has some sort of healing magic capability. Once I tallied up the treasure later some of the players adjusted their rating of the session saying it was great but they thought they made more cash.

So it seems that the "fun" factor in old school DND type games doesn't necessarily hinge on great evocative descriptions from the DM or mysterious monsters. There's something else there, something I haven't yet grasped. Stay tuned!

Session Report

Just a few minutes into the players logging into the voice channel and they were already saying "Blister of Doom!" That's the name they've given to the dungeon in the introductory ACKS module that I used to start my campaign. We've added a great deal of other locations and hooks as the game has progressed but that dungeon has been the linchpin of the campaign; letting players return to it if they were strapped for crazy creative schemes else where. The "Blister of Doom" is filling the role OSR theorycrafters said a megadungeon would: allowing the Players a quick location to jump into with little thought.

They set out from Turos Tem and at the end of a day of travel into the viney Viaspen Forest they rest at the Brigand Camp with whom they've made friends. The player of Mandonio (PC Fighter Level 1) has expressed interest in seeing what can be done with the Brigand Warlord Inthorn. The players are convinced the warlord NPC, a retired Lawful Auran general, is being controlled by his chaotic cultist paramour and/or his chaotic mage friend. They believe it has something to do with the odd helm the warlord wears which has a puffy plume. This session, however, the party simply spent the evening resting at the camp for safety through the night in the Viaspen Forest. No schemes to save the Warlord... as yet.

The next morning the party arrived at the "Blister of Doom", a big dome of black rock burying an ancient chaotic temple of some sort. Their plan was to check out the section of the dungeon they believed the bandit Drusus resides in. There's a warrant out for his capture of execution and the party hoped to collect. Sadly, however, they knew that last week an NPC party had attacked Drusus and (as per rumor) "driven him deeper into the dungeon". 

The party explored Drusus's supposed wing of the dungeon for quite a while, about an hour of game time. They found dead bandits everywhere tossed over sleeping pallets. They came to a heavy barred door deep into the lair which they unbarred and explored, finding stairs leading down. Likely to LEVEL TWO of the dungeon. The players debated going deeper, weighing the risk and rewards but cautiousness won the day. Instead of delving deeper into the earth they decided to make a hit and run on the "orcs" section of the dungeon.

Traveling there they found and surprised three jackalmen who were investigating the bandits the party had killed 2 weeks back. It was a slaughter, with the monsters not getting off a single attack.

Then the party traveled to a chamber they've deemed "orc barbeque" because they burned up some orcs with military oil there some sessions back. Delving deeper into this section of the dungeon brought them to 6 pigmen (orcs?) sparring with their spears as if they were practicing for their part in "A Phantom Menace". The party, despite having some zoomers among them, quickly eradicated these orcs.

While the party investigated the chest the orcs kept, more of the beasts came from the west and south. Many entrances to this nondescript square room! A full on battle began with the party's shield wall members, Gaius (PC Fighter Level 1) and Mandonio taking separate hallways to prevent a full on assault on the room from multiple fronts. Jack Filcher (PC Thief Level 1) at this point was nearly naked to investigate the chest because "that's how I work ok. Don't question it." Apparently #skyclad has found its way into my campaign as well.

The battle waged with a second wave coming that included some kind of pigman champion and a warg being led by handlers. The warg got loose and into the room at a bad moment and was able to get a good chomp on Broll (PC Barbarian Level 1), leaving him nigh dead on the brick floor.

The champion decided to make a strategic retreat once the players were winning the day and this is where things go interesting.

Broll has a "Fate Point" which allowed him to basically cheat death once. He used it and was mostly ok because Barbarians are hard to keep down. But Marina the henchlady (NPC Henchmen to Yllmeeton Level 0) fell during the battle and Daria (PC Bladedancer Level 1) was unable (or unwilling, I can recall) to heal her up. She was truly dead. Not to return unless she received magical healing immediately.

Yllmeeton (PC Shaman Level 1) decided to try out his brand new brass staff designed to look as two snakes entertwined. He knew it was magical but not how. He prayed to his Neutral patron "The Seeker" and raised the staff high. Bringing it down on Marina... she stood! She was healed!

At this point the players hit the ceiling with excitement. A healing staff! Some of the PCs pledged to serve "The Seeker" and believe in him. Jokes flew and crosstalk abounded. Glorious. True D&D.

Jack Filcher meanwhile was attempting to stuff some of the coins from the chest in his boots. He failed his Pickpockets check and was caught by the rest of the party. What a rascal!

The party exited the dungeon with the chest in tow but found that Gio (NPC Torchbearer and Mule/Horsewatcher) was dead along with Daria's horse he was supposed to be guarding. Yllmeeton tried the the staff again and Gio was able to talk but was fading to the death lands fast. He said "I got stung by a giant scorpion man. It was wild!" When Yllmeeton tried the staff again it did more harm than good shocking Gio and sending him to eternal rest. The party was forced to lug his large corpse back to Turos Tem, slowing them down.

Just before escaping the forest a day or so later a green dragon was swooping over the party looking them over. Jack decided to quaff his "Potion of Dragon Control" and give it a shot! It apparently failed and, while the rest of hte party hid in the bushes and brambles, Jack tried to save his bacon by flattering the giant lizard and informing it of the nearby Brigand Camp of Inthorn and his Chaotic minions nearby. "Go there and kill them to find great treasure!"

The party returned to Turos Tem and arranged a funeral pyre for Gio. It wasn't until some days later they heard rumors of Inthorn's Brigand band traveling with the dragon and attacking the nearby town of Siadanos. Inthorn's mage mounted on the back as the brigands hit the town hard and successfully.

Live and learn? Probably not, for a thief.

Surviving PCs Present

Broll (L1 Barbarian 10% xp bonus) played by RR. Liquid treasure gained in Session 7 was  172 CP, 66 SP, 25 GP. XP gained in Session 7 was 95. Current Total: 200

Daria (L1 Bladedancer 0% xp bonus) played by JB. Liquid treasure gained in Session 7 was  172 CP, 66 SP, 25 GP. XP gained in Session 7 was 86 Current Total: 453

Gaius (L1 Fighter 10% xp bonus) played by VoC. Liquid treasure gained in Session 7 was 172 CP, 66 SP, 25 GP. XP gained in Session 7 was 95. Current Total XP:1,799

Jack Filcher (L1 Thief  5% xp bonus) played by Chant.Liquid treasure gained in Session 7 was  172 CP, 66 SP, 25 GP. XP gained in Session 7 was 90. Current Total: 373

Mandonio Terkikos (L1 Fighter 10% xp bonus) played by RM.  Liquid treasure gained in Session 7 was  172 CP, 66 SP, 25 GP. XP gained in Session 7 was 86. Current Total XP:953

Yllmetoon (L1 Shaman 10% xp bonus) played by SS. Liquid treasure gained in Session 7 was 146 CP, 76 SP, 21 GP due to 15% of cut going to Marina Henchwoman. XP gained in Session 7 was 95. Current Total: 490

Henchman: Marina the Corcani Wench and Congregant of the Mountain Owl Cult. Level 0 henchmen to Yllmetoon. XP gained in Session 7 was 42. Current Total: 177

Inactive:

Bucky (L1 Barbarian 5% xp bonus) played by VoC. Current Total: 27. Location: Turos Tem

Deceased:

Dama (L1 Venturer) played by RR.  Current total xp: 75. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.

Darius LeVay (L1 Assassin) played by JB. Current Total XP:451. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.

Donald the Guardsman (L1 Fighter) played by MP. Current Total XP:570. DECEASED. Intra-party justice in Session 3.

Felix (L1 Thief) played by Nicholas. Current Total XP:431. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.

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

Leonidas the Inquisitor (L1 Cleric) played by RR.Current Total XP:498  DECEASED. Frozen undead blistering cold aura left his skin frostbitten and broken in Session 6. Body not recovered.

Mard the Mage (L1 Mage) played by Nicholas. DECEASED. Frozen undead blistering cold aura left his skin frostbitten and broken in Session 6. Body not recovered.

Alexa this is so sad play "don't stop believing" by journey


Session 7 on 12.23.20 quick notes PCs Present: Broll, Daria, Gaius, Jack, Mando, Yllmeeton (12 XP cuts) Hench Present: Marinia (hench to Yllmeeton) (1 XP cut) No Deaths XP from Kills: 3 jackalmen (60 xp), 16 pigmen (160 xp), 1 warg (140 xp). Total: 360 XP from Treasure: 1,000 CP (10 xp), 400 SP (40 XP), 150 GP (150 XP). Total: 200 Total XP: 560 Each PC receives: 86 XP 5% bonus: 90 XP 10% bonus: 95 XP Hench: 43 XP Liquid Treasure (see above): each PC receives 172 CP, 66 SP, 25 GP Yllmeeton receives: 146 CP, 76 SP, 21 GP due to 15% of cut going to Marina Henchwoman. Note: Jack failed in attempt to Pickpocket gold so no bonus to XP from treasure for him to party detriment.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Session 6: Gio and the Haunted Mine

Foreword

The campaign appears to be settling in. A new sandbox focused campaign often starts out as a bit of a mess with players casting around the region you've plunked them into trying to deduce the game system, the other players' styles, the setting, and the initial GM introduced hooks. 

Wise PCs gauging risk/reward and
angering the storygamer dm

Regarding the hooks, the players tend to weigh them at the beginning of each session while everyone is still arriving. They try to decide which potential rewards are worth the potential risk. Since they don't know the GM's quirks too well, this can be very hit or miss. I've attempted to have supreme clarity regarding the rewards for my initial hooks, with NPCs clearly defining what the players would receive if they accomplished the goal.

One DM in a campaign I was/am a player in rails on this approach as "muh low hanging fruit". But it's my contention that if players have little or no info about the world in which to engage in the gameplay loop (gold=xp, in the case of TSR era D&D games) then their initial decisions are meaningless. It's akin to a dungeon with a left hall and right hall. If there's no info about the hallways then it doesn't matter to players which they choose. If the GM puts a sound down one, a smell down another, a glimmering light down one etc then the decision suddenly matters. We've all been in sessions where the players joked that it didn't matter if they went left or right.

It doesn't mean a wandering monster might not interrupt the players' quest for the low hanging fruit (that happens this session in my game!) but it means they had an initial goal that, even though their info or expectations may have been wrong, at least they had some info to make a decision on. I'd imagine a GM who doesn't see the value in this rarely plays as a PC. He knows what's going on in the world so he doesn't understand the player feeling of "whatever, what does it matter, who cares?" when dealing with only opaque hooks and adventure locales.

That said, one of my players asked when I'd stop dropping GM hooks and let the players drive the hooks. Soon! Session 7 is likely to have no new GM hook info at all except which the players revealed or instigated on their own. 

At some point a sandbox campaign gathers enough player focused steam that it can run on ahead without much GM pushing. We are about at that point but I don't believe a new campaign can start out that way unless nigh every player is Elite.

This session, however, had the players checking into a GM dropped hook from a few weeks back. Gio and the Haunted Mine!

Session Report

The players debated the hooks for a bit while I helped a returning player roll up his new PC (Mard the PC Mage Level 1). They were down the player of Mandonio (PC Fighter Level 1) and thus deemed it inadvisable to return to "The Blister of Doom" since they'd certainly "muck up his map". Likely, it was meticulous indeed!

Daria (PC Bladedancer Level 1) had been pretty high on a purported haunted mine where a magic blade was rumored to be held and was able to convince the other PC's it was their best bet this week. The player of Broll (PC Barbarian Level 1) brought his long-rested Cleric instead: Leonidas (PC Cleric Level 1). The players devised his ability to Turn Undead would suit them well at the "Haunted Mine".

Real Time D&D, where one real life day = one game in the PCs' world, tends to naturally create a stable of extra characters for players. In AD&D 1e this happens most often from training time required upon leveling: with the least amount of time to train being a week. Want to play next week? You'll need a new PC, pal! 

In Adventurer Conqueror King System (ACKS) it has happened a few times from results on the Mortal Wounds Table. This table is rolled on when a PC reaches zero hit points or lower. A good roll has the PC hop right back up after a battle only needing a day of rest. Some of the worst results have the PC needing a week or more of rest. A terrible roll on this table, of course, means the PC is simply dead.

Leo needed a week of rest early on in the campaign to recover from a nasty blow and his player seemed to prefer his replacement PC of Broll. But no Broll this week!

The party's guide was Gio Givani, a large and in charge classically trained painter who moonlights as a torch bearer and mule-watcher for adventuring parties. Whilst keeping the mule in good health as his adventurers risk life and limb scrounging gold coins from death holes, Gio paints scenic vistas of happy little trees.

thank you gio very cool

Some weeks ago his (former) party didn't come back to camp for days. Upon investigation of the mine they were delving, he saw an ancient rundown prison camp with undead prisoners going through the motions. Guards barking (eerily silent) orders and prisoners working ineffectually with picks and shovels up against a cliffside. 

After some days of travel, without incident, the party arrived nearby the adventure locale at night. They opted to rest in a nearby cave and brave the old mine in the morning. 

During the night Gaius (PC Fighter Level 1), recently returned to action from a week of bedrest from a mortal wound, heard the sound of massive wings outside the cave. Then a large horse sized creature landing among the bushes of the hilly forest. He awoke the party's thief Jack Filcher (PC Thief Level 1) to go investigate.

The thief checked it out and described an abominable bull sized creature of chaos: dragons wings, scaly body, and a lions roaring head with a lizard's flicking tongue. Chaos!

The party was contemplating a plan, certain the creature was going to enter the cave from its sniffing and tongue flicks, when Yllmeeton (PC Shaman Level 1) sent his Owl totem animal out of the cave. If this was to investigate or escape, I'm uncertain. I rolled a chance the monster would take notice (it did) and would care (it did). It jumped and attacked the Owl to pull him from the air without injury. The two creatures began to talk in animal gibberish. Most of the party waited to see what it would mean while Jack Filcher snuck into a better position for a future backstab attempt he was certain was coming.

The Owl then hopped closer to the cave entrance to holler out in Owl-ese to the Shaman, the only one who could understand him, that the Monster would let the party live if they sent out "the fat one" for him to eat. 

This is when all hell broke loose on the mics with planning, schemes, and accusations (at poor fat Gio who they now thought knew the creature and would betray them). Eventually the party decided they were too Lawful to offer an innocent to a Monster even to save their own skin. They were certain an attack on the creature would get them all killed but they pledged their sacred honor to fighting to the end against odds surely lost. The thief wasn't in the cave and did no such pledge.

Fight!

They pretended to bring Gio out as a snack wherein some hid behind the big fella, pushed him to the ground, and attacked with spears. Daria charged the beast and attempted to clamber onto its back to no avail. Jack the Thief thought this a good idea indeed and did the same; success!

Soon the party was in an all out brawl with a dragonlion from the nightmare realm. Mard the Mage attempted to use a Sleep spell on the beast to no avail: too many hit dice! Jack rode its back getting a backstab in as the beast bucked here and there. Gaius took a harsh bite but kept fighting and landing stabs with his spear alongside Daria doing the same. Even Leo the Inquisitor swung his mace at the monster.

Eventually the party were the victors. Miraculous! Surely the Empyrean deities of Law shone down upon their bravery. The shaman's Owl was quite annoyed that his partner refused the deal he had cut with the monster.

this but with one head bc reasons


Yllmeeton wasted no time in looking over the monster to see if chopping some bits off of it could be worth cash. His Loremastery told him mages would pay dearly for its wingtips, goat horns (??????) and lions paws. The fur, though worthy indeed, has been cut to shreds by the wildly waylaying adventurers. Worthless.

The items were heavy but the party encouraged Gio to carry them. He could use the exercise.

Now is the time when most adventurers would cash out. The night was getting late and the players were certain the killing of the beast would be worth vast sums of XP. Daria's player, more familiar with old school gaming, correctly estimated a value of about 200 XP for each PC.

Yet no. No cash out, double down! The party sent Jack Filcher to check out the Haunted Mine they had originally come to raid. He found much what Gio had described, a ramshackle fence abutting a cliffside, some tilting guard towers along the fence and a wooden building of some sort between the fence. Jack looked in one of the many windows and saw an undead man of blue standing listlessly in a corner avoiding the piercing sunlight. So Jack set the building on fire.

One military oil later and the place was aflame. Yet, sadly, the blue shambler came out with a magical looking sword with an icy blue dragons tooth, slapped the side of the flame with the blade and the flames magically went out completely. Jack wisely returned to the party and reported his findings.

The party, despite the night being indeed late now, decided they must needs have the Magic Blade. The prior week an NPC adventuring party had stumbled into and messed up one of their hooks, they were loathe to have that happen now.

They made a plan to set the building on fire again and launch missile attacks into the undead creature when it exited the building again. It took a while and we had a great deal of confusion with Theater of the Mind and communicating the layout of the place but we eventually came to some semblance of coherency.

I'm not sure if it was my tone, my being new at using "Theater of the Mind", the late hour, or the scout believing he had investigated more than he actually had; but players were convinced that Jack had scoured the location, learning all there was to learn about it. And they were certain there was only one undead creature there.

Upon arriving with their plan of action I had to inform them the frozen undead guy was gathering a troupe of skeletons and zombies from some nearby caves. And there were a handful of ghastly sorts the same as him as well. The party was quite shocked indeed. But they still wanted the magic blade. Let loose the missiles!

The players were mostly getting the better of the undead who had no missile attacks and were far away and mostly slow. Leo turned the skeletons away by waiving his holy symbol about and uttering words of exorcism. But the frozen dead kept shambling forward. The apparent leader, the one with the sword, taunting the party as he approached. As he did so, snow and sleet began to twist around the frozen dead and cover the entire camp with a harsh winter. The adventurers could see their breath.

the PCs hate him already

The players decided this wasn't going the way they would like and decided to flee before starting the third round of combat. The only question was, would they win initiative. Well, Jack Filcher did and he fled into the wood. Yet the frozen dead were faster than most of the other party members and, upon getting close enough, did 2 damage to all within range of his frozen aura. Enough to kill Leo the Inquisitor (RIP) whose skin crackled and turned blue and he fell to the ground in instant full body frostbite. The same happened to the brand new wizard Mard, the player losing his second PC in this oft lethal campaign.

The party fled and made it back to Turos Tem with no further incident. Some were holding their breath as I rolled for random encounter rolls for the day long trip back to the keep as they were very beat up. But nothing hit. 

Maybe next week. Fingers crossed.

GM Notes

Gio the NPC, as appreciation for the party refusing to feed him to a monster, will never tell any other adventurers where the Magic Blade is hidden. Sadly, he may have already run his mouth a bit in the past.

Surviving PCs Present

Daria (L1 Bladedancer 0% xp bonus) played by JB. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 6 was 45 GP. XP gained in Session 6 was 244. Current Total: 367

Gaius (L1 Fighter 10% xp bonus) played by VoC. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 6 was 45 GP. XP gained in Session 6 was 269. Current Total XP:1,704

Jack Filcher (L1 Thief  5% xp bonus) played by Chant. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 6 was 45 GP. XP gained in Session 6 was 256. Current Total: 283

Yllmetoon (L1 Shaman 10% xp bonus) played by SS.  Liquid treasure Gained in Session 6 was 45 GP. XP gained in Session 5 was 269. Current Total:394

Henchman: Marina the Corcani Wench and Congregant of the Mountain Owl Cult. Level 0 henchmen to Yllmetoon. XP gained in Session 6 was 122. Current Total: 135 

Inactive:

Broll (L1 Barbarian 10% xp bonus) played by RR. Current total: 105. Location: Turos Tem

Bucky (L1 Barbarian 5% xp bonus) played by VoC. Current Total: 27. Location: Turos Tem

Mandonio Terkikos (L1 Fighter 10% xp bonus) played by RM.  Current Total XP:867. Location: Turos Tem

Deceased:

Dama (L1 Venturer) played by RR.  Current total xp: 75. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.

Darius LeVay (L1 Assassin) played by JB. Current Total XP:451. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.

Donald the Guardsman (L1 Fighter) played by MP. Current Total XP:570. DECEASED. Intra-party justice in Session 3.

Felix (L1 Thief) played by Nicholas. Current Total XP:431. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.

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

Leonidas the Inquisitor (L1 Cleric) played by RR.Current Total XP:498  DECEASED. Frozen undead blistering cold aura left his skin frostbitten and broken in Session 6. Body not recovered.

Mard the Mage (L1 Mage) played by Nicholas. DECEASED. Frozen undead blistering cold aura left his skin frostbitten and broken in Session 6. Body not recovered.

Alexa this is so sad play "liquid cure" by bright eyes

 

Session 06 12.09.20 quick notes 

XP from kills: dragonlion 1,100 xp 

Split by 4 PCs and 1 henchmen. 9 cuts with 2 going to PCs and 1 to hench 

244 XP for PCs 

5%: 256 

10%: 269 

Hench: 122 

Liquid Treasure 1 liondragon paw sold for 180 GP. 45 GP for each PC (38.25 to Ylllmetoon as 6.75 goes to Marina 15% cut). No XP gain for this as the XP value of material components is factored into the XP from killing the creature(s) in question

 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Session 05: Party of Villains

Foreword

Today a twitter mutual, and PC in my game, tweeted "if you're not playing 1 gp = 1 xp you're not playing real D&D".  So true!

My Week 5 session appeared very fun for the players because they were able to pretty much decimate the many monsters that came across their path. They played very well but, even so, it was easy. There's nothing wrong with easy, of course, and I think PCs should have an easy time of it every now and then. Keeps spirits up. Shows the players how things can go if they plan, coordinate, and play to their strengths.


However, this is Real D&D! ACKS, actually. Meaning an easy time of putting monsters down doesn't always translate into a successful session because it doesn't always translate into treasure gained for the PCs. Little treasure gained = little xp = little progression.

It doesn't seem the Players spirits were dampened due to the low XP gain in Session 5. Quite the contrary, it appeared they were ready to face more challenges. Their plan this session to find treasure wasn't bad (they planned to go back for a chest they left behind) it just failed to take the passage into time into account (the chest, after 2 weeks, was gone). Real time style D&D provides interesting gameplay yet again!

As the DM this is the sort of mentality and play style I'm hoping to foster. To me there is a game within the game of trying to find the low hanging fruit of the least dangerous means to acquiring treasure and thus advancement. This game-within-the-game involves Players feeling out the gameworld and intuiting the DM and his style.

As a Player, when this game-within-the-game is not present; I am bored. Mind numbingly bored. Bored like watching a ww2 film. Bored like reading a news report on fake covid "confirmed cases". Bored like seeing a cakebot tweet.

If my campaign fails it won't be because I don't offer Players the game-within-the-game of GP=XP and its assumed play elements.

Session Report

There's a new pit fighter (PC Barbarian Level 1) and Thief (PC Thief Level 1) in town! Bucky the barbarian joined the group because his player was unable to play Gaius (PC Fighter Level 1) since the Legionnaire was recovering from a serious Mortal Wound from the week prior. Jack Filcher the Thief, however, was a new player. He was weighed down with dungeoneering supplies and was ready to hit the adventuring trail.

The adventurers wasted no time; setting off for the Buried Temple with the intention of recovering the Silver Painted chest they had left behind some weeks back due to needing to carry the unconscious bodies of their compatriots. 

Travel back to the black dome of rock the party is calling the Blister of Doom went by without incident. They again stopped to rest at the Brigand Camp of Inthorn the retired centurion. Spending the evening drinking and talking with him and becoming more convinced that his turn to brigandage is due to some spell, curse, or the clearly magical helmet he wears. His second and third in command, you see, are a Chthonic Mage and Chthonic lady Cleric (and Paramour) of Nasga. Mandonio (PC Fighter Level 1) in particular is becoming quite perturbed indeed by Inthorn's apparent plight.

idk inthorn seems happy to me...


Yet this would be a question for another day; the chest the party left behind in the dungeon was calling to them.

The next day they arrived at the Blister of Doom and the new thief, Jack Filcher, quickly took on a scouting role. The party retraced their steps back to the chamber where they had felled the kobold king nigh a month ago; with Jack listening at doors and checking traps the whole way.

In the room some rats with dragonfly wings were feasting upon kobold corpses and they attacked the returning party of adventurers. Bucky got stabbed by one of the monster's long pointy noses but otherwise the fight was child's play for our heroes.

Sadly, though the rotting corpse of Dama (PC Venturer Level 1) was still in the secret room which held the hefty chests; the silver painted chest was no where to be seen. The bodies of previously fought gnolls were also gone. The party sighed and delved further. 

Yllmetoon (PC Shaman Level 1) sent his owl high into a room which was without a ceiling, seeing that it opened up into the massive dome of rock above. A cave unceasing. The Owl returned and reported to his Shaman friend of an uncapped steppe pyramid with an eerie green glow off in the distance to the northwest of the dungeon somewhere. Beyond that he was chased but escaped some more of the odd ratlike dragonfly creatures the party had previously fought.

There's always jackalmen.

While waiting for the Owl to return from his flight the party dispatched some jackalmen that was loitering in the room around the statue of the old mage with an oblong head. The horrible creatures never successfully struck the strident heroes.

The party delved further and surprised some pigmen who were loitering about a small chamber. The beasts squealed as they were easily dispatched. Beyond their room the party could see an armory of rusty weapons and an oddly glowing pool. They explored neither as time was short and more piglike wails would be heard approaching their position.

On their escape from the dungeon the party come upon some brigands who were sneaking a chug at some expensive wine. They appeared happy to see the party and prepared to share their wine with them. Yet happiness turned to horror when, just after pointing out where their leader Drusus made his lair in the dungeon, Jack Filcher backstabbed a bandit and the party dispatched the rest. The bandits never had time to draw their weapons, leading one adventurer to ask "are we the baddies?"

The party grabbed up some of the bandits' equipment to sell back in Turos Tem, and headed back to civilization. Their blades were quite bloody but their pockets little heavier.

Surviving PCs Present

Broll (L1 Barbarian 10% xp bonus) played by RR. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 5 was 4 GP 32 SP 6 CP. XP gained in Session 5 was 28. Current total: 105

Bucky (L1 Barbarian 5% xp bonus) played by VoC. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 5 was 4 GP 32 SP 6 CP. XP gained in Session 5 was 27. Current Total: 27

Daria (L1 Bladedancer 0% xp bonus) played by JB. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 5 was 4 GP 32 SP 6 CP. XP gained in Session 5 was 26. Current Total: 123

Jack Filcher (L1 Thief  5% xp bonus) played by Chant. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 5 was 4 GP 32 SP 6 CP. XP gained in Session 5 was 27. Current Total: 27

Mandonio Terkikos (L1 Fighter 10% xp bonus) played by RM.  Liquid treasure Gained in Session 5 was 4 GP 32 SP 6 CP. XP gained in Session 5 was 28. Current Total XP:867

Yllmetoon (L1 Shaman 10% xp bonus) played by SS.  Liquid treasure Gained in Session 5 was 4 GP 32 SP 6 CP. XP gained in Session 5 was 28. Current Total: 125

Inactive:

Briarwhisper (L1 Elven Ranger) played by RM. Current Total XP: 570 

Gaius (L1 Fighter 10% xp bonus) played by VoC. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 4 was 10 GP 5 SP. XP gained in Session 4 was 97. Current Total XP:1,435

Heath Pawn (L1 Thief 5% xp bonus) played by MB. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 4 was 10 GP 5 SP. XP gained in Session 4 was 92. Current Total: 97 

Leonidas the Inquisitor (L1 Cleric) played by RR.Current Total XP:498

Ravakor (L1 Mage 10% xp bonus) played by Oghma. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 4 was 10 GP 5 SP. XP gained in Session 4 was 97. Current Total: 97

Ulf (L1 Fighter) played by Maoi. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 4 was 10 GP 5 SP. XP gained in Session 4 was 88. Current Total: 88

Henchman: Marina the Corcani Wench and Congregant of the Mountain Owl Cult. Level 0 henchmen to Yllmetoon. XP gained in Session 4 was 13. Current Total: 13

Deceased:

Dama (L1 Venturer) played by RR.  Current total xp: 75. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.

Darius LeVay (L1 Assassin) played by JB. Current Total XP:451. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.

Donald the Guardsman (L1 Fighter) played by MP. Current Total XP:570. DECEASED. Intra-party justice in Session 3.

Felix (L1 Thief) played by Nicholas. Current Total XP:431. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.

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

This is so sad. Alexa play padme's ruminations from revenge of the sith motion picture soundtrack.

Notes:

5 stirges: 1* HD 6 = 30 xp

3 gnolls: 2 HD 20 = 60 xp

6 orcs: 1 HD 5 = 30 xp

5 brigands: 1 HD 5 = 25 xp

Treasure: 

15 gp on jackalmen: 15 xp   2.5

48 sp on pigmen: 4.8 XP    8

25 sp on drunk brigands who were murdered: 2.5 xp   4 s

13 GP from scavenged items (no xp)

Treasure Cut: 4 gp 32 sp 6 cp

Total: 167

 13 cuts. 2 for PCs and 1 for hench. 

12.84 for hench and 25.68 for PC

5%: 27

10%: 28

Items: 3 short sword (7 gp), 2 = -10% (6.3 gp) , 1 - 20% value (5.6 gp). 1 sold for 6.3 gp

4 short bow: (3 gp) 2 -10% value (2.7 gp). 2 -20% value (2.4 gp). 1 sold for 2.7 gp

 4 quivers. serviceable. 4 GP total. all sold for 4 gp


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Session 04: Of Brigands and Goblins

Foreword

So many players! We had eight (8) on this night and it certainly changed the nature of play. One player was deemed the Caller and did most of the talking. As such, after the initial hubbub of all the players jumping onto the voice chat for hellos and edgy jokes, things got very quiet. Too quiet?

You ever just sit on your brigand camp?

One player, after the game, stated it wasn't all that much fun to him and I wonder if the nature of the session itself attributed to this. Perhaps most of players felt ignored and of little importance during the session as my focus was on discussions with the Caller. 

A normal old school campaign with tons of players, in my experience, tends to have those who are not the Caller keeping quiet except to joke around with eachother and tossing out the occasional idea or scheme while the Caller and GM go about the Serious Business of mapping, checking for random encounters, and deeming watch orders.

I noticed very little of this during the session.

That said, I think the players were cutting up a bit in the text chat but I had little time to keep an eye on it. Other players stated, after the session, that they had a great time (despite their PC nearly dying... or, because of it?)

As a GM it's a difficult thing to gauge. I've heard mention from other GMs of Sandbox style campaigns, as mine aims to be, that they had to power through many "milk run" type sessions to get to those Gold Standard sessions of brilliance that GM and Players remember forever. I'm prepared to make many "milk runs" for this experience and hope at least some of my players feel the same.

That said, not every campaign is a fit for every player. And that's fine. But a GM must be true to his campaign and his initial goals for running the campaign in the first place. I intend to do so until no players show up at all.

Session Report

A plethora of fortune seekers and neer-do-wells found Gauis (PC Fighter Level 1) and Mandonio (PC Fighter Level 1) and asked them for a place in the party upon the next adventure. The two Legionnaire were all who came back alive from the last delve from the dome of black rock hidden deep in the Viaspen wood. Yet the hope of adventurers' springs eternal! Surely mine luck shall be better than those fools who died in the haunted dark.


Off they went! Ravakor (PC Mage Level 1) leading the way with great confidence his Loremastery, wits, and Collegiate Training at the Tower of Knowledge in the white city would not lead him nor the party astray. The Legionnaires, used to humoring the robe garbed rhetoricians, were fine with allowing him his way. Back to the "Blister of Doom?" No!

A peasant widow had found her way to the hospital in Turos Tem with tales of terror; her friends and neighbors absconded by goblins with serpent tattoos on their face. This same warband the party had run in with some 2 weeks earlier. Onward to victory! This time the chief would not escape raid again!

The party traveled across the hedgerow fields towards the Viaspen forest, stopping to investigate the burnt farmhouses and barns. Speaking with nearest neighbors it became clear the goblins marched two peasant captives northwest into the dark wood for purposes unknown. The party stayed the night in the husk of a barn, braving the wood in the light of the following day.

Travel through the Viaspen was slow as the party searched for sign or sound of the goblins and their ravenous wargs. Nothing! It didn't help the party had no tracker or ranger to speak of. BriarWhisper (PC Elven Ranger L1), wherefor art thou? 

Some two days into deep wood wanderings the party came across a palisade of brigands. The mercenaries were bemused by the party's failed attempts to sneak into their stronghold, rather than offended. Except upon taking a shot at the party's silent stalker Heath Pawn (PC Thief Level 1) who was reconnoitering sans party advisement. The party slept comfortable in the walls of the palisade, Pawn sleeping in bushes and brambles.

The brigands were led by a retired Auran military commander whom Gaius and Mandonio knew by name for his courage and honor. Now in his latter years, the gregarious Inthorn had rosy cheeks from too much drink and ribald nights enjoying the spoils of his company of more than 150 mercenaries and their brigandage. He was bedecked in rings, jewels, and chains indicating their success. Conversating with the Legionnaires into the wee hours, the old soldier seemed to see no contradiction in his past life as a great commander and his current days of assaulting trade caravans for their goods. 

Yllmetoon (PC Shaman L1) sensed the elaborate plumed helmet atop the commanders head all evening was quite powerful indeed. He also sensed the power of Inthorn's mage advisor Dairin was likely ten times that of his own mage party member Ravakor. 

Dairin, a wizard in elven robes and sporting a heavy but neat beard, spoke openly about his interest in the occult (flaunting it at the obviously Lawful party) and of a coming invasion from the underworld. It appeared to be of special interest.

Camp here? What could possibly go wrong.

Inthorn's paramour Olyma was not seen by the party, though she was rumored to be beauty itself; yet also an occultist of the Chthonic goddess Nasga!

Quite the camp our intrepid heroes had found themselves as guests. It seems the enemy of thine enemy was the rule of the day, for the brigands and their leader cared not for the warg riders and wished the party luck in their hunting.

The next morning the party had left Inthorn's camp behind and their wanderings brought them yet again to the dome of black rock hiding an ancient temple beneath. Signs that even laymen could read showed clear tracks of warg and goblin. 

Broll (PC Jutland Barbarian Level 1) agreed to approach the dome and the wide crack along the southern side. Goblins! Inside the large cave at the entrance Broll spied their wargs picketed, their number going about their brutish beastmen business of bloodletting games and arguments over valueless items. Yet, among the horde, the peasant captives were signed bound but still very much alive.

They're baaaaack

Broll let loose a spear at goblin and warg from the entrance, whilst the party had strung a trip line and hidden around a corner in battle preparation. Spears hit dirt and stone, no blood spilled! The goblin chief was able to calm his frenzied forces and got them mounted and attacking in something resembling order; as these things go.

Battle waged! Arrows and spears flew and stabbed. Crimson rained across the ground, dripping the vines of the Viaspen and painting the side of the black dome. Ravakor chanted words arcane, sending many goblins to the lands of slumber. 

The party got the better of the battle for a while until the wargs closed the distance with the Legionnaires. Both fell to furious canine teeth, huge gashes opening as they fell unconscious; dead?

Daria (PC Bladedancer Level 1) saw the desperation of their cause, what with both powerful fighters now crossing the threshold to be weighed on Tauran's scales, and charged the goblin chief! What courage!

The chief's morale broke yet again, having fled from these adventurers some two weeks prior. He escaped into the buried temple under the dome with his goblin champions and some half dozen dire wolves following his lead. The party had barely survived the battle.

Daria went to her herbs to try and revive her fighting men and both survived, yet barely. Gaius himself needed magical healing fast or he'd not live through the night. The rest of the party freed the peasants and took what meager treasure the goblins had in tow, before all present worked at getting Gaius back to Inthorn's camp for rest.

Daria healed him with Lay on Hands some hours later but he'd need a week of bed rest before he might adventure again. Wounded deep, he preferred his stay be at his home in Turos Tem. Some days later the party was greeted again as heroes as they had saved yet more peasants from goblin clutches. Some denizens of Turos Tem have begun to call the party the Friend To All Farmers. 

In the end, a whitepill night.

Surviving PCs Present

Broll (L1 Barbarian) played by RR. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 4 was 10 GP 5 SP. XP gained in Session 4 was 97. Current total: 97

Daria (L1 Bladedancer) played by JB. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 4 was 10 GP 5 SP. XP gained in Session 4 was 88. Current Total: 97

Gaius (L1 Fighter) played by VoC. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 4 was 10 GP 5 SP. XP gained in Session 4 was 97. Current Total XP:1,435

Heath Pawn (L1 Thief) played by MB. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 4 was 10 GP 5 SP. XP gained in Session 4 was 92. Current Total: 97

Mandonio Terkikos (L1 Fighter) played by RM. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 4 was 10 GP 5 SP. XP gained in Session 4 was 97. Current Total XP:839

Ravakor (L1 Mage) played by Oghma. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 4 was 10 GP 5 SP. XP gained in Session 4 was 97. Current Total: 97

Ulf (L1 Fighter) played by Maoi. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 4 was 10 GP 5 SP. XP gained in Session 4 was 88. Current Total: 88

Yllmetoon (L1 Shaman) played by SS. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 4 was 10 GP 5 SP. XP gained in Session 4 was 97. Current Total: 97

Inactive:

Briarwhisper (L1 Elven Ranger) played by RM. Current Total XP: 570 

Leonidas the Inquisitor (L1 Cleric) played by RR.Current Total XP:498 

Deceased:

Dama (L1 Venturer) played by RR.  Current total xp: 75. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.

Darius LeVay (L1 Assassin) played by JB. Current Total XP:451. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.

Donald the Guardsman (L1 Fighter) played by MP. Current Total XP:570. DECEASED. Intra-party justice in Session 3.

Felix (L1 Thief) played by Nicholas. Current Total XP:431. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.

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

This is so sad. Alexa play padme's ruminations from revenge of the sith motion picture soundtrack.

General Notes:

12 goblins killed (60 XP)

4 wargs killed: 560 XP

2 laborers rescued (80 GP total) = 80 XP

42 SP  (4 XP)

704 XP total

Divided by 8 = 88 XP each

92 XP with 5% bonus

97 XP with 10% bonus

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Session 03: It's a Gas!

 Session 03 played on 11.22.20

Foreword

This session was an abattoir. Running old school D&D games like Adventurer Conqueror King System (ACKS) can sometimes challenge the Judge to fudge dice rolls. When you roll up some things that could or will destroy many of the PCs there can be a voice in your head saying "your players may all quit your game!" That happened in this session. Particularly when the Gnolls showed up and got surprise on the players. 

Don't get too attached, kid.

Again when I did the math on travel time and realized the survivors wouldn't be able to get their near-death fellows back to the Keep for healing in time to save their lives!

Ultimately you MUST not fudge the dice. If the players all quit then the game had no staying power to begin with.

Session Report

The party spent a minimal time in Turos Tem discussing their options. I reminded them of some hooks that dropped during downtime: BriarWhisper (PC Elven Ranger Level 1) stumbled upon a system of caves in a different portion of the Viaspen Forest. He reported massive footprints trailing about outside one cave in particular. The party shook their head at this prospect, instead choosing to return to what they have begun to call the "Blister of Doom". 

BriarWhisper, in fact, chose to return to his Fastness to report the new information that had come to light about the beastmen issues in the forest. Instead the party was joined by a new PC for this player, a Legionnaire named Mandonio Terkikos (PC Fighter Level 1). Said Legionnaire had heard of Gaius's (PC Fighter Level 1) great success saving peasants from marauding Warg Riders and wanted in on the action.

 

Blister of Doom

About a day later the party was again entering the crack in the side of the dark stone dome some 12 or 18 miles deep into the vine-choked Viaspen forest. Exploring down the wide stuccoed hallway to the west they scoured a couple of abandoned rooms before coming to one covered with the long rotting corpses of kobolds. Had the party been here before?

During their investigation a half dozen goblins came upon the party and seemed eager to talk. Dama (PC Venturer Level 1) instead used his nigh magic merchant machinations to distract the goblins while the party turned the tables into a surprise combat. 12 blood soaked seconds later and the martial band had tenderized many a goblin skull to their end. 

Deeper they went. But it appeared they had been to this place before! Kobold corpses upon every inch of blaze bricked flooring. The kobold king, no more. The kobold treasure room? Ransacked by these same heroes 2 weeks thence. Calefa, Cruel Lady of Fortune! So much exploration time seemingly wasted. Until, what's this? The party came upon a hollow in the wall. Exploring further it opened into a room with three chests; painted Bronze, Silver and Gold. 

Rather than rush ahead full tilt the party allowed Felix the Thief (PC Thief Level 1) to investigate in a manner most careful. Some 30 minutes later (3 Turns in OSR-speak), the chests appeared safe indeed. Traps? Certainly not.

Sadly Felix's years of study in locksmithing under the wrinkled lockmasters of the white city of Aura failed him. He could pick the locks on none of the chest. Their wealth stood inaccessible until such time as Gaius smashed the bronze chest open with his sword.

Yellow acrid gas filled the tiny treasure chamber! Gaius fled easily but watched with shaking head as Felix fell in fits of coughing. Dama, who wisely loomed over the Auran Thief's shoulder to prevent pilfering, was also trapped in the chamber of certain doom, rolling here and there upon the floor with lungs full of sour.


At just the moment three jackal men chose to strike from behind the party. Those adventurers standing bored whilst Felix tapped and scraped at lock and chest were caught off guard and in darkness. Don was struck roughly with a thrown spear from the darkness. Darius (PC Assassin Level 1) hugged the wall and avoided the wrath of unseen foes. Mandonio (PC Fighter Level 1) chose to charge at the hidden haranguers but merely closed the distance; unable to strike true. 

Don (PC Fighter Level 1) and Pratashabi (NPC Henchmen to Dama, Normal Man Level 1) fled to the other end of the chamber. But where to? The end was dead. Through the fracas they fled past Mandonio and the halberd holding jackal men. Treachery or wisdom?

Dama held his breath to chose to brave the room of acrid gas. Groping in the smoke for Dama's grappling hook with the intention of fishing his unconscious poisoned friends from certain doom, he sadly gulped his last breath as well. Live by the poison, die by the poison.

Gaius found his way to the battle with jackal men and he and his fellow Legionnaire locked shields to bring the beastmen to their final judgement. The chamber was quiet again.

Don returned from his previous fleeing quite nonchalantly, prepared to claim his cut of treasure, such that Mandonio was quite offended indeed. Flee yet expect pay? Legionnaire justice was instead the rule of the day, as both fighters chose to strike down their former ally. Yasema's (NPC Henchmen of Gaius Normal Man Level 0) eyes widened with shock. Could such fate await him? His tongue would wag when he returned to Turos Tem. (DM Note: for 1 month the party has a penalty to recruiting henchmen).

The fighters looted the bronze chest, finding glorious treasure indeed. Enough to warrant the loss of so much life? Tauran's scales will tell in time. 

"Look at my face. I'm the party now."

They grabbed up the unconscious bodies of Felix and Darius, leaving Dama to foam at the mouth to death upon the floors of this place of nightmares. One assumes Dama will count his interest in the life hereafter. But greedier hearts prevailed and the fighters carried the gold painted chest instead. 

The Legionnaires double-timed it through the night, muscles aching and crying out for relief, to get their unconscious companions back to Turos Tem so that the powerful Priestess might heal them with words of the divine. Yet, the fever took both lads. Too young they were gone, Dama and Felix would both find their way, in the coming days, to a funeral pyre. Ave, lost friends!

In some days to follow Mandonio hired a locksmith to unlock the gold painted chest, allowing the tradesmen to hold the container for a fortnight. Near the end of the time Mandonio was visited by the Subaltern of Turos Tem. 

"Legionnaire", after a strong salute, "we have your chest and items in custody. The locksmith was found dead over your opened chest. His records were clear and we have surmised this chest is yours from the darkness beneath. Foul play is suspected. Poison? We have Priestess Genelen looking over the body. All the locksmith's affects, including your chest and treasure, are in holding for four weeks. Assuming you are not a suspect you might claim them from the Quartermaster after such time."

The gods must be crazy.

Surviving PCs present:

Gaius (L1 Fighter) played by VoC. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 3 was 43 GP. XP gained in Session 3 was 742. Current Total XP: 1338

Mandonio Terkikos (L1 Fighter) played by RM. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 3 was 43 GP XP gained in Session 3 was 742. Current Total XP:742

Henchmen Present:

Yasema (L0 normal man) henchman to Gaius. Liquid treasure Gained in Session 3 was 0. XP gained in Session 3 was ENOUGH TO GET L1 FIGHTER. Current Total XP: 0 upon hitting Level 1 fighter. Can no longer serve under Gaius since the PC is not level 2. Told Gauis to look him up when he advanced to
Level 2 and he'll hear out his offer at a +3 Reaction Check to hiring.

Inactive:

Briarwhisper (L1 Elven Ranger) played by RM. Current Total XP: 570 

Leonidas the Inquisitor (L1 Cleric) played by RR.Current Total XP:498 

Deceased:

Dama (L1 Venturer) played by RR.  Current total xp: 75. Poison gas in Session 3.

Darius LeVay (L1 Assassin) played by JB. Current Total XP:451. Poison gas in Session 3.

Donald the Guardsman (L1 Fighter) played by MP. Current Total XP:570. Intra-party justice in Session 3.

Felix (L1 Thief) played by Nicholas. Current Total XP:431. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.

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

 

Dubzaron Session 64: Return to the New Badlands (and Operation Muscle Thunder)

Session Played on 07/06/22 and ending on 07/16/22. Actions available again on 07/18/22. Session Report The party was able to secure many tro...