Tuesday, February 23, 2021

ACKS Session 11: Ettin Attack!, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Time Compression


Played on 02/10/2021

My players played a trick on me.

All of my pre-session discussion (scheming) was about how they were going to assault the cave lair of an ettin deep in the Viaspen Forest. I had everything ready: stats for the monster, treasure, the creature's schedule (I knew they'd tried to catch it outside it's home or something or burglar him whilst away from home)*, everything!


*[FelixOscar ettin leaves the cave on a d6 roll of 1, checked once each day. 5 PM plus 1d12 to determine what hour he leaves because he prefers the dark. How long is he gone? Roll 1d6. 1: 1d4 turns, 2-5: 1d4+5 turns, 6: 1d4+1 hours. He notices the party, upon his departure, on 14+ on a d20 roll due to heavy armor wearers in group. Adjust this chance as needed if the party only sends a scout type to be near the cave for recon. None of this came into play.]

So, of course, the party trekked off past the lair towards the largest city some three weeks away, instead.

If you've been following this blog (why wouldn't you be) you know I've been using the Jeffrogaxian Method of Real Time Timekeeping. Meaning, if the PCs travel to a location three weeks away, those Characters will be unable to play in a session that takes place in 2 weeks or less in the real world. Additionally, this caused a few weird timekeeping rulings I had to make in session for outstanding hooks and World-in-Motion situations that I'll document in the session report below.

So instead of mine session being a straightforward beeline for the ettin lair, I instead had to make a couple dozen random encounter rolls, toss out quick descriptions and rumors from 3 lawful settlements the PCs passed through, and try to quickly describe the biggest city in my campaign region on the fly with minimal prep on that particular issue. Quick, describe the impression the PCs get upon first arrival at a fantasy roman city that was formerly built by elves some two centuries past before being conquered by the fantasy romans!

Then, when it was all said and done, the players decided they would, in fact, attack the ettin. Three weeks in the future!

It was frustrating, it was slapdash, it was amazing. It was real D&D.

Session Report

Why did the party decide to travel to the city of Cyfaraun this session? Well, it's complicated.

Back in Session 5 the party stumbled across a powerful Brigand Camp led by a retired general of the Auran Legion. Mandonio (PC Fighter L1) and Gauis (PC Fighter L2) were certain the general must be under some form of enchantment to have turned to brigandage in his retirement. Yllmeeton (PC Shaman L1) seemed to confirm the theory by using Sense Power (Detect Magic style class ability) to learn that the fancy plumed helmet General Inthorn wore was quite magic indeed. It must be a Helm of Alignment Change!, the players theorized. It didn't help that Inthorn had a Chaotic Wizard retainer and a Chaotic Lady-Cleric Paramour.

So down the primrose path of PC scheming we go.

Inthorn, the man of the hour!

One: Mandonio, during downtime, seeks out a Remove Curse scroll to use and free the general. He also had a mock Fancy Helmet made up to "make a switch".

Two: Priestess Genelen of Turos Tem failed her Magic Research Roll to make the Scroll for the party. She needed three weeks to try again, if she'd even do so. She's not super high on our heroes, anyway.

Three: Genelen sent word to her mother superior in Cyfaraun that she needed such a scroll (pretty please!) and was told "nah, grrl". 

Four: The party, after gettinglucky and selling some expensive jewel between sessions, was determined to go to Cyfaraun and simply buy the scroll with their phat stacks.

Five: Plan was to get the scroll, bring it back, walk into Inthorn's Camp, ?????, Remove Curse, Swap the Helmet, Profit!

Further, Mandonio and Gaius both got orders that the Legate's army at Turos Tem would be attacking Inthorn's Camp soon, maybe in 2 weeks or up to 6 weeks hence. So the party wanted to accomplish their ridiculous scheme plan before the battle begun. Think of how many Legionnaire lives which could be saved! With Jeffrogaxian Timekeeping this becomes a bigger issue. Could their Legionnaire PCs die off screen between sessions?!

Oh, the only reason why Turos Tem was moving against Inthorn in the first place is because the party accidentally sent Inthorn's wizard a dragon to ally with and attack the town of Siadanos. Legate Valerian, being a vassal of the Palatine of Siadanos, was ordered to take care of the problem. Prior to the dragon attack, the Palatine was content to let Inthorn take a few merchant wagons here and there. No major action was planned. World in motion!

The gang left the border fort of Turos Tem on 02/10/21, traveling north and east along the fantastic Auran road which parallels the Krysivor river. Every 18 miles or so there was a border fort near identical to Turos Tem guarding over the river into the wild lands towards the Dark Wall beyond and to the east. Little guard towers dotted every few miles along the river which the party could see from the road, Auran military tasked with watching the river for monsters attempting to cross it and into the Empire. All the towers were prepared to send signals down the line so that the forts might be prepared and/or send reinforcement to the little manned forts. 

Follow along, kids!

Turos Aster was the first stop for the party. They double timed it to that first fort and needed to rest a day, lest they travel with Fatigue (-1 to a bunch of checks, including attacks). Spending a day resting at the Travelers Inn they were reminded of a rumor that had made it's way some weeks back about a ruined fortress on the other side of the river which had recently been taken up by a violent tribe of manbearpigs. The Legate of Turos Aster was eager to have the nasty brutes removed for the former Auran fortress and was offering legal right to it and the land to any who could accomplish the task. Yllmeeton (PC Shaman Level 1) was eager to get on this mission as he wished for a home for his growing congregation of faithful followers (cult). 

Turos Spen was the party's next stop some two days later. Again the fort was built on a hill, near uniform with whitewashed walls. They opted to only spend the night here then set off the next day. Their short time in Turos Spen allowed them to only hear rumors of a ruined Zaharan monastery across the Krysivor river and into the chaotic lands beyond. Word was it was destroyed but the catacombs the insane death worshipping Zaharans always keep at their old monasteries was still intact; full of gilded unholy symbols and wild magic items. Upon leaving Tuos Spen the next day and turning northwest at the crossroads the party even came upon a seemingly mid powered wizard named Weelen the Wizard leading a donkey cart with his servant and man at arms Grug. He and the party struck up a conversation where he revealed he was heading to the ruined monastery to seek out magic items and materials. "You should look me up if you wish to act as my retainers and share in the treasure! Ta ta!" 

The party traveled northwest and arrived at Turos Orn some seven says later, the forts spaced out further upon getting distance from the Unbroken Line. The party spent very little time here but did hear rumors that the Keep was so ancient there was a deep an perilous dungeon right under ones feet! But the Palatine Valana Telpirion of Turos Orn, however, would take it quite ill indeed if adventurers were to sneak into the rumored dungeon without her permission.

The party achieved arrival in the City of Cyfaraun some nine days after their departure from Turos Tem. The only possible hostile encounter they had during their travels was with some wild boars who BriarWhisper (PC Elven Ranger L1) helped them evade.

Cyfaraun. My description of it sucked.

The massive rolling walls of the old elven city greeted them from across the hedge rows. They lined up with all the other merchants and such entering one of the half dozen gates and, within a few hours, were in the Temple District. This was perfect since they were looking to entreat with Daria's (PC Bladedancer L2) mother superior. The meeting went great and she agreed to set up a meeting with the head of the cult of Ianna wherein Daria could purchase the scroll of Remove Curse some days hence.

The party, at this point, decided to stay in the city a week to look for mercenaries to hire and buy a light repeating ballistae. The stayed at The Mink inn and tavern, one rumored to be controlled by a criminal syndicate. The PCs didn't poke their nose into that rumor (this time).

A week later Daria had 2 Light Cavalry, 3 Light Infantry, 1 artillerist to run her new toy, and 1 archer. They set off back to Turos Tem. The week or so trek back they encountered some merchant caravans but no hostile creatures saw fit to approach their mini army or donkey cart with ballistae installed. 

Now, back in Turos Tem some 25 days later (03/07/21) it was time for the moment of truth. Did the party get back with their Remove Curse scroll in time to try and use it on Inthorn before the Legate's army moved against the brigands? I decided, since six weeks was the estimated time the forces would gather, I'd roll a d6 for each week the party was gone. One a 1, it was that week the Legate was moving against Inthorn. Check 1: no attack on week 1. Check 2: no attack on week 2 .... at this point the party was getting hopeful they may have time to try their scheme. Check 3: I roll a 1. The Legate's forces were moving the same week the party arrived back. But which day of the week? I roll a d7. One day before the party arrived!

If they moved quick they could possibly outpace the Legate's army and try the scheme just as the battle may be heating up! Now the players started to analyze their plan.

How were they going to actually get Inthorn alone and use the scroll? Didn't Inthorn have a chaotic wizard of extremely high level at his right hand almost all the time? (One play stated at this point "I'm not scared of the wizard. I'm TERRIFIED.") Maybe this plan wasn't all it was cracked up to be...

I'm not sure I had any hair left at this point, having pulled so much out.

They decided to just go after the Ettin instead. I mean, they had a bunch of mercenaries now right?

haha great guys! Lets do it! I was ready for this... maybe not 3.5 hours into a 4 hour session but cool cool.

Back north along the road to leave Turos Tem. Just past Turos Aster then northwest into the Viaspen Forest at about 1505. BriarWhisper knew just where it was, having spent a great deal of down time reconnoitering it. 

The party arrived at the cave mouth and schemed how they might approach it. They laid out some net traps and such but the night was getting late and good planning was going by the boards. Eventually the plan involved Daria pretending to be a lost damsel in the woods or something (???)

The dumb brute with its Felix and Oscar heads came outside to see what the fuss was about. It talked in a language none by BriarWhisper understood but he was hiding in the brush hoping for some snipe attacks when the battle begun, in no position to translate for anyone.

The scheme did buy the party a surprise round of attacks which they mostly missed on. Then half of them won initiative and got a couple shots off. Puru (PC Mystic L1) ran into the cave to consider stealing some treasure while the party distracted the beast, but came back honorably to fight alongside the party, scrapping the burglary plan entirely.

Once the ettin engaged in melee with the mercenaries and Daria in the second rank, the bloodletting begun. Felix's fist punched a light infantry, killed him, cleaved, punched another light infantry, killed him, cleaved, punched a light cavalryman, killed him, cleaved, punched his horse, killed it, cleaved, punched Puru, felled him (exactly zero HP), cleaved, punched another light cavalryman, killed him, cleaved, punched his horse, hurt the horse but did NOT kill it. Cleave chain canceled. 

Now it was Oscar's turn to attack. Oscar Head successfully landed a punch on Daria but did not fell or kill her. Phew!

Well, as my DMs can attest, a single big monster against an entire party (even one with 9 hit dice) will eventually go the party's way. And fast. With a second round of attacks the party was able to fell the beast and Daria's player said "I've never cried tears of joy in a dnd fight". Powerful!

Once again it was so ate by this point I told the players there was a ton of treasure but it was heavy. It would take time to get it back to Turos Tem. That I'd give them the XP and treasure numbers later. You'll see this below, dear reader.

The trek back to Turos Tem from the ettin cave carrying heavy loot took them three days. When all was said and done the party of characters played from 02/10/21 to 03/14/21. The PCs will not be available to play until 03/15/21. We endeavor to play a session each week so this is quite the sacrifice indeed.

True D&D is confounding and beautiful. Start your own campaign, today!

Surviving PCs present
[NOTE: there was a revision on 03/11/21 when the party sold an expensive scroll and made more xp]

XP for Each PC in Session 11 02.10.21 

BriarWhisper (5% bonus) 2,4444.4 XP. Total 3,014 [LEVEL UP TO 2] 

Daria (0% bonus): 2,328 xp. Total: 4,038 [LEVEL UP TO 3] 

Marn (10% bonus): 2560 XP. Total: 3022 [LEVEL UP TO 2] 

Puru (5% bonus): 2,444 XP. Total: 4,241 [LEVEL UP TO 2] 

Yllmeeton (10% bonus): 2,560.8 XP. Total: 3716 (2,999) [LEVEL UP TO 2 BUT CAP AT 2,999 BECAUSE CANT LEVEL TWICE PER SESSION] 

Marina (hench): 1164 XP. [LEVEL UP TO LEVEL 1 FIGHTER. Morale check at +1 + Yll ChaMod before she plays again to see if she stays on]

Original Writeup:

BriarWhisper, L1 Elven Ranger (5% bonus) 1680 XP. Total 2,250 

Daria, L2 Bladedancer (0% bonus): 1,600 xp. Total: 3,310 [LEVEL UP TO 3] 

Marn, L1 Mage (10% bonus): 1,760 XP. Total: 2,221 

Puru, L1 Mystic (5% bonus): 1,680 XP. Total: 3,477 [LEVEL UP TO 2] 

Yllmeeton, L1 Shaman(10% bonus): 1,760 XP. Total: 2,916 [LEVEL UP TO 2] 

Surviving Henchmen Present

Marina (hench): 800 XP. [LEVEL UP TO LEVEL 1 FIGHTER. Morale check at +1 + Yll ChaMod before she plays again to see if she stays on]

Archer, Light Infantry, and Artillerist under Daria become Veterans

Coin Treasure Cuts for Session 11 02.10.21:  

Each PC receives 400 SP, 200 EP, 400 GP 

Daria: 220 SP, 110 EP, 220 GP 

Yllmeeton: 340 SP, 170 EP, 340 GP


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 "lost highway"


Thursday, February 18, 2021

Session 10: War in the Halls


Played on 01.13.21.

My play report and thoughts will be a bit more sparse this time as this session was played a month ago. I took a break after this session and didn't have the drive to write up the report quickly, as such. 

I do recall my prep for this session including some calculations on what sort of defenses the hobgoblins would add to their lair. The party entered their lair the following week but  then departed without pressing into a battle. Since the hobs only had one apparent entrance to their section of the dungeon I had them fortify and guard it pretty well, in preparation for the party returning to harass them. My intention was to have their discipline about this become more lax each week as they'd resolve the party less of a threat.

But the party attempted to go straight for the hobs the following week and thus the beasts were ready! Kinda...
Read on!

Session Report

The party gathered in Turos Tem and departed on what would become their MO: stopping by Inthorn's Brigand camp on the trek towards the dungeon (the blister of doom). Both points of interest in the midst of the Viaspen forest so the party often uses the brigands as a waypoint. 

For reasons unknown the chaotic brigands have taken a liking to the party of adventurers. Daria (PC Bladedancer Level 1) requested permission from the brigand warlord, Inthorn, to hire some of his men as mercenaries for a week or less. I think the PC hired about 4 brigands which play as Bowmen mercs as per the ACKS wargaming rules

The high level Chaotic Mage and Lady-Cleric who make their home among the camp didn't treat with the party this session, if I remember correctly.

The next day the group approached the dungeon and had Puru (PC Mystic Level 1) approach and scout the entrance. No problems. In they go.

They went directly through the dungeon towards the door into the hob lair they discovered the previous week. It was spiked shut from the other side. Mandonio (PC Fighter Level 1) attempted to force it open to no avail. Puru's alert monk ears heard chains rattling on the other side of the door each time Mandonio forced his shoulder against it. An alert system, of sorts? 

The party gave up on breaking the door down and decided the muscular goblins would be too prepared for them to enter from that location. So Mandonio pulled out his map and they decided they may be able to come into that section of the dungeon from a different direction. Unfortunately, said direction would take them past an obelisk pyramid thing they believed a great beast may make his home in.

At the walls surrounding the base of the weirdly glowing pyramid were some doors along the eastern wall. The party certain one would enter the hob lair from that direction they had Puru go along the wall and listen at each one. It wasn't until the last that they found anything beyond except an empty room.

Some chihuahua-men were torturing a human prisoner by poking him with spears to make him run about a dirty old chamber. Some more human prisoners called out for help in a room beyond. The party made short work of the disgusting little beastmen except one who fled to try and hold one of the human's captive with a knife at his throat. 

Kagan Booklearner (PC Dwarven Craftpriest L1) was able to communicate with the vile creature and quickly discussed options. The creature wanted to leave the room and flee towards the pyramid. After such time it promised to release the human prisoner it had held in a (mexican) standoff situation. 

Kagan's player was open to this but, as a whole, most of the Players were convinced the beast wouldn't keep his end of the bargain. Also, after having learned a dragon lived atop the pyramid, they were scared the chihuahua-man would bring the dragon down on them in short order. They decided to try and save the prisoner in 80s action flick style by killing it before it could slit the throat of its prisoner.

Puru, being exceedingly fast, was the only one with any chance of accomplishing this. He pulled out a ninja star and tossed it perfectly at the chihuahua-man's pug nosed little face, killing him before it could kill the human prisoner.

I arbitrated this by using a surprise roll to see who would act before the knife could slit the prisoner's throat. Puru was not surprised, everyone else was. Then I had the chihuahua-man and Puru roll initiative. If Puru rolled a worse initiative it he would be too late. He rolled very good. He succeeded at an attack roll at -4 (due to prisoner in the way) and did enough damage to finish off the 1-1HD enemy.

The party rescued two human laborer prisoners who revealed they had been trapped for weeks and the chihuahua-men had fed man of their friends to the nearby dragon. They were terrified and malnourished. 

The party searched the east wall of the room, finding a secret door into the hobgoblin's section of the dungeon just as they hoped. They passed by a weird bas-relief of a multi armed demon before coming to another chamber scattered with rubble, two doors on the south wall to what the party assumed was the main chamber of the hobgoblins.

While instestigating the doors the lights went out. A darkness spell cast by an evil enchanted doom-spider hidden in the ceiling above. The creature, being possessed by demonic forces, was pre-disposed to attack the party's Lawful cleric's first. I flipped a coin and it went straight for Kagan, felling him in the magical darkness, gnawing off the Dwarf's leg. The party fought blindly in the dark but was able to kill the demonic insect. They healed Kagan and he survived but would need a week of rest to adventure again. Kagan's player began rolling up yet another backup PC.

After the skirmish the party went back to investigating the doors and found them jammed as well. Enough! They broke them down, finding an obvious quarters of some beastmen, but abandoned. Arrows flew from across the large chamber from doors on the opposite wall. 

What followed was a long and complicated battle with some hobgoblins who had set up a trap to try and tempt the PCs into a murder-hole of sorts with wooden barriers in front of an open room where the hobs would lay arrow fire down while holding a front line. The party didn't really fall for it and instead sent an away team to run around the dungeon to come the hobs from behind. They weren't able to get to the battle in time to make a difference from a flanking position (4 rounds of movement but the battle was over in 3) but they did stumble upon Marn the Mage (PC Mage Level 1), the new PC for Kagan's player. The mage appeared to have astral projected into the dungeon near the weirding statue the party passed before. Appeared just in time to get his XP cut for the hobgoblin horde!

During the extended battle the beastmen fought extremely organized, similar to the Auran legions, and were able to fell Daria and Daria's new henchman. She can't seem to keep one. 

The hob's shaman escaped with a handful of beastmen who weren't killed, fleeing to parts of the dungeon unknown. Future villain?

Yllmeeton (PC Shaman Level 1) was able to heal and get Daria back to her feet but she took a major mortal wound and would need a week of bed rest. 

I hand waved the rest of the night as it was late and simply told the party they found a major stash of cash, jewels, and trade goods. Their trek home to Turos Tem, though I did roll for random encounters, went without incident.

Surviving PCs Present XP Gained:

Daria, Bladedancer Level 1 (0% bonus): 459 xp. Total: 1,710 [LEVEL UP!] 

Kagan, Dwarven Craftpriest, Level 1 (5% bonus): 42 xp. Total: 840 

Gaius, Fighter Level 2 (10% bonus): 505 xp. Total: 3,182 

Mandonio, Fighter Level 2 (10% bonus): 505 xp. Total: 2,336 [LEVEL UP TO TWO!] 

Marn, Mage Level 1 (10% bonus): 461 XP. Total: 461 

Puru, Mystic Level 1 (5% bonus): 482 XP. Total: 1,167 

Yllmeeton, Shaman Level 1 (10% bonus): 505 XP. Total: 1,156

Surviving Henchmen: 

Marina: 229 gained

Yasema: 229 gained


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 "despacito"


How to Total NonStop Braunstein your Traveler Campaign

"We have tried to make these rules as complete as possible, with provisions for both solitaire and unsupervised play". - Traveler ...