Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Session 9: Bandit Boogaloo!

 Foreword

Played on 01.06.21

World in motion! Between sessions I've been keeping up with many factions, NPCs, natural phenomena, etc and how these things change over time. I assign a chance something would happen, in each case, and roll that chance each week between sessions.

Some of these things the players are aware of, some they are not.

ladies love a man in a robe


For instance there's at least one NPC Party of Adventurers, called the Happy Dicers, competing with the player's party. The Happy Dicers adventure each week just like the players do. Mostly they'll delve a dungeon or take on a lair the PCs aren't even aware of. But I roll a chance each week the Happy Dicers tackle a hook the Players are aware of. If I roll a 1 on this check, the Happy Dicers died. If I roll that the Happy Dicers tackle one of the Players' hooks then I assign those hooks to a dice (1d6 if there are 6 hooks the PC's are currently juggling) and randomly decide which one they hit. Then I use the ACKS "Abstract Dungeoneering" rules to see how successful the Happy Dicers were. 

So far the Happy Dicers only tackled one hook the party was aware of at the time: trying to capture or kill the Bandit King the party had their sights on. All they managed to do, however, was claim much of the Bandits' treasure and push the Bandit King deeper into the dungeon. 

This annoyed the players who now didn't know where the Bandits lair was, having just found out its location the previous session. This weeks session 9, however, the party delved and explored enough where they were able to find the Bandits new dungeon lair and tackled it deftly. See below.

This process of keeping the world in motion assures that the Players' don't feel like they are in a video game on pause between sessions. Plans like "hit that location once this session then again next session to assure we have full hit points" might not work if something like this changes between sessions. 

Alex Macris, in his fantastic book "Arbiter of Worlds", advises not trying to keep a world in motion by juggling so many things, by not trying to run the entire world as a turn based strategy game. But when one employs the 1 Game Day = 1 Real Life Day rule from AD&D 1e, this becomes perfectly manageable. 1e wins again!

The random events table in TSR's "Oriental Adventures" and Judge's Guild* "Ready Ref Sheets" are great resources for keeping your gaming world in motion if you're uncertain on how you'd tackle this. If you're running a big adventure tome like those WOTC puts out for 5e ("Curse of Strahd", "Ghosts of Saltmarsh", "The Dragon Queen's Time of the Month"), I'd also advise removing the railroad aspects and seeding the various railroad events onto a random events table. I personally find large railroad style adventure books nigh unusable (they don't even lay flat on the table!) but I think the various seeds one would find in them could likely serve well to populate a region in a more sandbox focused game.

 I recommend all serious GMs employ the real time approach to gaming and juggling all the factions etc week to week with likelihood of them impacting the players or region the players are in. It's a great deal of fun and keeps things interesting. 

 *(Judge's Guild, an outstanding producer of gaming supplements going back to the original editions of D&D, were "cancelled" by weirdos about a year back because it's owner did a little rightwing boomerpoasting on f4cebook. As such, their items are no longer in production. The OSR is a pretty small market. Half of them deeming you "problematic" likely eliminates all possible profit motive. There may be other ways for resourceful GMs to acquire their old stuff. haha just kidding... unless...)

Session Report

I'm not sure if you noticed but the sociopolitics of the usa are getting crazier out there. My players really wanted to chat about it on the voice channel for much longer than they usually would, last week. Don't worry, there was no wrongthink to speak of. Each player clearly disavowed all that our dear leaders said they should disavow and celebrate all those things we're told to celebrate. The process just took such a looooong time. I eventually had to say "5 more minutes, fellas". So, we got a later start than normal.

After this was all said and done the players decided to go back to the Blister of Doom and quickly left Turos Tem to travel into the Viaspen forest. They saw about a dozen beastmen of some sort rustle some leaves off in the distance and attempt to evade them. The party decided not to take chase and leave whatever those creatures were well enough alone.

They stopped at Inthorn's (NPC Brigand Leader) Brigand camp on the way and hired some bowmen to accompany them across the overland trek. Inthorn may have been pretty mad at the party and Jack Filcher (PC Thief Level 1) in particular for sending a green dragon to attack them some weeks back. Luckily for all concerned, however, I rolled a max Reaction Check and Inthorn, the gruff old Auran Legionnaire, found the whole situation quite humorous. "You ol' scamp, Jack! We almost got killed!" The brigands had actually made friends with Ferigno the Dragon and raided a town with him so it seems Inthorn figured no harm no foul.

After spending the night in the camp the party set off and reached the dungeon the next day. The bowmen mercs waited outside.

failed bandit ambush :(

The party explored a bit, crossing the Courtyard room they normally face random encounters in, this time with no incident. Deeper into the old Zaharan temple of Chaos than they had ever gone, they sent Jack Filcher to explore a room up ahead while they stayed behind a bit. Some brigands were ready, apparently having heard the party exploring the next room over, and they took some shots at Jack. He ran out and grouped up with the party.

What followed was a running battle with the brigands, or what I attempted to run as such.While the party was spiking a door to keep the brigands off them, some ratbird butterfly creatures attacked them and were able to land a lucky strike on Yllmeeton (PC Shaman L1) I believe. The bandits were attempting to break down the door so the party sent Jack to watch the hallway behind them while the party posted up to keep the bandits at bay at the door once it was broken.

Once the door was broken down the bandits tried to bankshot some arrows off the wall rather than engaging with the party's shield wall of death. To no avail. The party almost yeeted themselves upon trying to chuck a flaming oil into the room at the bandits around a corner. They handed the oil to the Player who always rolls ones, Mandonio (PC Fighter L1) and he rolled a one. He'd have dropped the oil and set himself up on fire and splashed onto Yasema (Fighter L1 Henchmen to Gaius) but Mandonio opted to use his single Fate Point to re-roll the attack. Not a 1. In hindsight I shouldn't have let him see the results of the bad roll before letting him spend the Fate Point. It won't happen again. No rewind! Retconning is bad enough in star wars.

Jack set up a bear trap in the hall leading away from the party but that didn't stop some bandits that had snuck around behind the party from getting some bow shots off on him and knocking him under zero hit points. 

The party, having left a big pool of flaming oil on the fire between them and the bandits at the doorway, turned around and took on the bowmen that had snuck up on Jack. Daria (PC Bladedancer L1) pulled Jack's unconscious body into the group to attempt to revive him. One of the bowmen came at the party but stepped on and was killed by Jack's bear trap. So sad. The rest were felled by the party with little fanfare. 

After the battle Jack rolled on the Mortal Wounds table and found that he had "taken an arrow to the knee" and would now walk slower and take a hit to his Dexterity based AC. He also needed two weeks bed rest. No more adventuring for Jack tonight. He went back to the party's mercs outside. Soon-after a new Thief arrived name Loki (PC Thief L1) who continued the delve with the group. So convenient!

jack and loki cross paths


The party pressed on into the bandits' lair and found them ready for battle. Drusus the bandit king attempted to parley with the party telling them to leave and he'd let them live. The bandits had a nice defensible position set up with barricades and bowmen so the party decided to go. But not before Kagan (PC Dwarven Craftpriest L1) offered to introduce the bandits to Inthorn the Brigand Warlord if they turned on Drusus. They agreed! However Drusus was reading their eyes and he killed three of his men quite handily before they even drew steel on him. The party took the opportunity to press the advantage. Yasema got a good stab on Drusus with Daria the Bladedancer sashaying up for the final blow on the bandit king. One bandit survived and surrender. Daria brought him along and eventually introduced him to Inthorn at the end of the session. 

Drusus had a sword and chain mail armor that Yllmeeton confirmed to be magic. Gaius (PC Fighter L2) held on to them. The bandits had basically no treasure since the Happy Dicers had taken in weeks ago and the bandits hadn't gotten organized enough to do any raiding. It's why they were happy to turn on Drusus so easily. What have you done for me lately, amirite? The brigand revealed that Drusus was aware of the section of the dungeon being unoccupied due to the goblins getting eradicated some weeks back. He noted that they had to clear out a bunch of headless goblin corpses just to lay out their bed pallets to rest in this section. "Why did they remove their heads?!" It disturbed him.

The rest of the evening drug on a bit as the party explored all over and mapped a large section of the dungeon. They found a well that Loki was stoked to try and rapel down but Mandonio tut tutted him. So sad because all my favorite gaming sessions are when PC's attach a rope to one of their number for some harebrained scheme. Maybe next time!

They also came to some pretty swole dark orange beastmen that fled from them before there was an engagement. The party took chase across a few rubble strewn rooms but didn't chase all the way to a battle. Instead they opted to skirt around the new section of the dungeon to try and find a side entrance. No luck and the night was dragging on and we all had to work in the morning. Cash out!

Now came the fun part for me. On the trip back to Turos Tem through a dangerous monster crawling forest, would there be a random encounter? Normally there are two chances for it. But alas. Nothing.

 The party made it back to safety with no further incident and claimed the 800 GP reward for bringing proof of Drusus's demise. Overall a successful night for the Gang. 

Surviving PCs Present

Daria (L1 Bladedancer 0% xp bonus) played by JB. Liquid treasure gained in Session 9 was 125 GP, 6 SP. XP gained was 146. Current Total: 1,251

Jack Filcher (L1 Thief, 5% xp bonus) played by Chant. Liquid treasure gained in Session 9 was 2 SP. XP gained was 13. Current Total: 386

Kagan Booklearner (L1 Dwarven Craftpriest, 5% xp bonus) played by RR. Liquid treasure gained in Session 9 was 125 GP, 6 SP. XP gained was 153. Current Total:798

Gaius (L2 Fighter 10% xp bonus) played by VoC. Liquid treasure gained in Session 9 was 106 GP, 5 SP. (15% to henchman) XP gained was 161. Current Total: 2,677

Loki (L1 Thief, 5% XP bonus) played by Chant. Liquid treasure gained in Session 9 was 125 GP, 6 SP. XP gained was 141. Current Total: 141

Mandonio Terkikos (L1 Fighter 10% xp bonus) played by RM. Liquid treasure gained in Session 9 was 125 GP, 6 SP. XP gained was 161 Current Total:1,831

Yllmeeton (L1 Shaman, 10% XP bonus) played by SS. Liquid treasure gained in Session 9 was 125 GP, 6 SP. XP gained was 161. Current Total:651

Yasema (L1 Fighter Hench to Gaius). XP gained was 73. DM tracking totals secretly.

Inactive:

Broll (L1 Barbarian, 10% XP bonus) played by RR. Current Total: 214. Current Location: Inthorn's Camp "as a spy".

Bucky (L1 Barbarian 5% xp bonus) played by VoC. Current Total: 27. Last session 6. Location: Turos Tem

Puru (L1 Mystic, 5% bonus XP) played by S. Current Total: 685. 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 "dirty white boy" by foreigner

Monday, January 4, 2021

Session 8: Library Raid!

Foreword

My players seem intent on "clearing out" the dungeon I introduced in Session 1 to start out my campaign. This is the "Buried Temple" of the Adventurer Conqueror King System module "The Sinister Stone of Sakkara" 

Much discussion in the BroSR (the high T, elite powergamer faction of the normally twee and pudgy OSR) is about how modules aren't really the thing. And about how players generally aren't interested in "clearing" areas out. This was certainly the case in the BroSR 1e AD&D game I was a PC in. Clear a dungeon? Bruh we weren't even interested in delving a dungeon. 

get ready to get cleared, you!

My ACKS players, though. Big on clearance! What means?

One player has decided that the Buried Temple (which they call the Blister of Doom) has the best return on investment. The Legate is offering 2,000 GP to the party that fixes the problem. Nothing to sneeze at. Another mentioned that he's curious to see how the region changes if the source of the evil the Blister seems to possess is dealt with. He assumes (perhaps correctly) that the forest the Blister is in will change for the better if the PCs do their part.

It's certainly possible. I've been very explicit that the forest is INSIDE the borders of the empire and the extreme amounts of beastmen raids and dangerous monster/brigand lairs in there are not of the normally low frequency, historically. 

It could also be that my other hooks haven't grabbed the players as tightly, or offered prizes as tempting, as those in the Blister dungeon. Right now there's a rumored magic blade held at an undead camp, some strange magics infesting the legion's border towers, and a fortress guarded by manbearpigs just outside the border which the Empire has offered rights to any who clear it out. Solid hooks, imo, but the latter appears too daunting, I imagine. The others are perhaps not apparently gilded or challenging enough, respectively. Now that I'm 8 sessions in, I'm dropping very few new hooks unless players push them themselves. The world is in motion so things will happen, of course. But it's my game theory that brand new campaigns need 3 to 5 differently themed hooks but not much at all as the campaign itself grows around the players' interests.

As far as players making their own hooks like we did when I was a PC in 1e: my ACKS players appear to be making their own story during downtime more than during the sessions themselves. The shaman is gathering congregants, one legionnaire is trying to befriend the priestess, one barbarian is installing himself as a spy in a brigand camp etc etc. Great worldbuilding! But all done during downtime. 

I have no particular insight into the above, merely waxing philosophic about it Grognardia style. I'm having a wonderful time with a terrific team of players. It's shocking yet delightful how different players approach a campaign. This is not what I expected but it's certainly been a great time.

Session Report

Back to the Blister of Doom! The party was a little bit short handed this session since Yllmeeton (L1 PC Shaman) and Jack Filcher (L1 PC Thief) were unavailable to play. The show must go on!

A new player came on the scene bringing Puru (L1 PC Mystic) to the table. This is the ACKS version of a monk. Puru's claim to fame was a very nice halberd weapon and being quite perceptive to sound and secret doors. Well, come along champ! 

The party debated whether or not to stop off at Inthorn's brigand camp on the way to the dungeon. The previous week the thief, Jack Filcher, had sicced a Green Dragon on the brigands after encountering the beast in the wood. The party decided that Jack wasn't there and the dragon hadn't seen the rest of them. So, after about a day's travel into the wood, off to the camp they went.

The brigands were living large. They were carousing with wenches and gambling drunkenly with an obscene amount of ill gotten gains from their previous raid on the nearby town of Siadanos. Players were reminded that Jack's plan to have the dragon attack the brigands had backfired. The dragon instead helped the brigands raid the town and they took much more than normal. 

Inthorn himself was "predisposed in his tent with his paramour if you know what I mean wink wink say no more". Dairin the wizard, who the party believes quite powerful indeed, was about and making his usual underhanded insults; knowing the party wouldn't "clap back" (CC: at daringdanny)

predisposed iykwim


The party had some ale and celebrated with the brigands, the Legionnaires among the party holding their tongues, while Daria (L1 PC Bladedancer) and Broll (L1 PC Barbarian) hired a couple of brigand bowmen each to accompany them through the forest to the dungeon. The poor fellows had apparently lost all their ill gotten gains gambling with their brothers and agreed to go along for 3 gp for the job.

The next morning the party was at the Blister of Doom. Leaving the bandit mercs outside they made a beeline for the pigman lair in the place. Some more of the rat-dragonfly beasties attacked them as they crossed one room in the dungeon they've taken to calling the Courtyard due to foot traffic being so high there; constant random encounters!

The creatures nearly killed Broll, jamming stiletto shaped noses into his new dire wolf helm but piercing through his thick Jutlander skull. I ruled that attacking the things off a companion whilst they're latched on and feeding is done at -4 and there were many missed attacks. Puru the new player began what would be a long night of bad dice rolling. He kept the faith and didn't lose heart. Stay tuned!

Broll recovered from his near death experience ready to keep adventuring because barbarians in ACKS are hard to keep down. Yet the player was ready to try something new. Broll went back to the brigand camp with his 2 mercs and decided Broll would install himself at the camp to spy on them. I ruled that Broll could not return to an adventuring party unless he was "picked up" by that weeks group or he used his previous downtime to go back to Turos Tem (our main civlization/keep) rather than "spy". He agreed.

you ever just eat a barbarian's head
through your straw nose?


He dropped the game for a bit to roll a new PC. Sure why not. Go for it, kid. We kept playing without him.

The party delved deeper and found the square room with 4 exits where they had fought waves or pigmen the previous week. The explored north and found some zombie goblin heads on stakes (????) including the goblin chief's whom they had fought with twice in early sessions. They left it be.

Next they came to a couple of pigmen guards. They were quickly and easily dispatched. Yet the battle gave the pigman king and his honor guard in the next room time to prepare for battle.

Four honor guard and the orc chief fought hard but the players were able to get Gaius (L1 PC Fighter) and Mandonio (L1 PC Fighter) up front with their heavy plate armor and shield/spear specialties. The pigmen couldn't land a strike. They also held their morale fast and fought to the last. To no avail. 

Mandonio chopped off the chief's head to show to the Turos Tem Quartermaster later. They also discovered Broll's new PC. A dwarven craftpriest who specializes in bookbinding. The lad had been captured by the pigmen to read or destroy the books (or something idk his backstory was very quickly made; sorry PiBs).  He knew where the valuable books in the room were and knew a magic scroll was buried under the chief's throne of tossed over bookshelves.

the players never saw him on his
glorious throne of books he'd never read like an
OSR collector. Sad!

The party set to searching the room high and low for all the valuables, finding a glossy magazine of Zaharan ritual hornt practices (worth 500 GP to a coomer collector), and a scroll of some divine spells. There was a chest full of electrum and silver as well. There was also some apparently raided Tirenean glass ware in big heavy crates the PCs opted to carry away, slowing them down. I rolled for random encounters while they searched but to no avail. Alas. Don't worry, reader I get them later.

The players debated exploring further but Gaius was certain he'd make second level from the loot they'd acquired and demanded they cash out for the night. All relented and out they went. No random encounters in The Courtyard! Amazing!

Yet on the trip back to the brigand camp as night fell Puru spied some yellow eyes shining from the bows of trees surrounding the party. Wind blew cold as 4 (four) panthers jumped from the treetops at the party. Puru met one in the middle swinging his elephant stick (oriental halberd) wildly. He reacted more quickly than the rest of the party who were completely caught off guard with an ambush. The new dwarven craftpriest was quickly knocked under 0 (zero) hit points. Alas, whats your name, we hardly knew ye. 

The battle waged as the big cats were wild and agree for reasons unknown. Feral from the nearby evil of the Blister of Doom? Bad reaction roll from the DM? Affirmative Reaction Checks each time? Yes and perhaps yes to all. When all was said and done Gaius fell as well. Just before he was likely to finally level to 2! Hate to see it. His player was sending me angry private messages impugning my character, my fashion sense, and my fairness as a DM (jk that wasn't until the next day).

panthers attac!

The bowmen mercs also gotten involved in the battle, getting off one strike before the panthers ripped both their throats out.

Daria set to tending to the fallen PCs (sorry, bandits) leaving Mandonio and Puru along to dance to the death with the remaining panther who kept fighting for reasons unknown. Round after round neither myself nor the players getting off a final strike that would decide if this was for glory or a TPK. Mandonio finally landing a solid strike and Puru, the hero of the day, finally getting off a massive slash across the panthers throat and beheading it. 

Daria was able to revive both Gaius and The Dwarf due to a blessing from the goddess Ianna. Glory it is!

The party stopped by the brigand camp and was able to entice Inthorn's paramour ladycleric of the chaos goddess Nasga to purchase the glossy magazine of eyes wide shut rituals; the first time they had met her! She wore a wispy dress and acrylic nails. Not very talkative yet somehow judging them as low-value as she looked down from towering heels through fake eyelashes. 

The party left the next morning and made it back to Turos Tem with no further encounters, panthers or otherwise. The gods shined on the party's raid into the pigman library this day.

Surviving PCs Present

Broll (L1 Barbarian 10% xp bonus) played by RR.  Liquid treasure gained in Session 8 was none. XP gained in Session 8 was 14. Current Total: 214

Daria (L1 Bladedancer 0% xp bonus) played by JB. Liquid treasure gained in Session 8 was 400 SP, 240 EP, 100 GP. XP gained was 652. Current Total: 1,105

Kagan Booklearner (L1 Dwarven Craftpriest, 5% xp bonus) played by RR. Liquid treasure gained in Session 8 was 400 SP, 240 EP, 100 GP. XP gained was 645. Current Total XP: 645

Gaius (L1 [levels to 2 this session] Fighter 10% xp bonus) played by VoC. Liquid treasure gained in Session 8 was 400 SP, 240 EP, 100 GP. XP gained was 717. LEVEL UP! Current Total XP: 2,516

Mandonio Terkikos (L1 Fighter 10% xp bonus) played by RM. Liquid treasure gained in Session 8 was 400 SP, 240 EP, 100 GP. XP gained was 717. Current Total XP:1,670

Puru (L1 Mystic, 5% bonus XP) played by S. Liquid treasure gained in Session 8 was 400 SP, 240 EP, 100 GP. XP gained was 685. Current Total: 685.

Inactive:

Bucky (L1 Barbarian 5% xp bonus) played by VoC. Current Total: 27. Last session 6. Location: Turos Tem

Jack Filcher (L1 Thief  5% xp bonus) played by Chant. Last session 7. Current Total: 373. Location: Turos Tem

Yllmetoon (L1 Shaman 10% xp bonus) played by SS. Last session 7. Current Total: 490. 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 "cotton eyed joe" by rednex

 

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...