Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Legate Valerian's Campaign Against Inthorn the Brigand Warlord

Foreword

If you've been reading this D&D ACKS blog for some time (only the best people do) you know the players have been causing trouble in the Auran Borderlands near Turos Tem. So much trouble, in fact, that their actions have led to major mass battle movements for the NPC rulers and generals. 


On their way to the introductory dungeon in an early session the players came across a Brigand Lair. By some freak dice roll, the brigands found the PCs charming and invited them to sup with them. After this session, the PCs would often stop at the encampment on their way to the dungeon to rest and avoid random encounters at night. 

In doing so they learned it was led by a retired Auran General named Inthorn. He was highly decorated and the two Legionnaire PCs were shocked that a man of such high prestige would turn to brigandage. The party became convinced Inthorn was enchanted in some way by his mage retainer or evil cultist paramour. Inthorn was wearing a fancy plumed helmet he never removed; surely it must be a Helm of Alignment change!

A few sessions later the party had a random encounter with an adult green dragon named Ferigno. Its reaction was Neutral so it circled the party demanding tribute. Jack Filcher (RIP), the party's level one Thief, instead promised the dragon he would find riches undreamed of if he raided Inthorn's brigand camp. Ferigno was intrigued and Jack gave him directions to the camp.


Unfortunately my between session reaction checks etc for the dragon engaging the camp didn't lead to a full on assault from the serpent. Instead, the brigands teamed up with the dragon for a short term alliance to attack the Lawful Human Town of Siadanos. The raid was highly successful and Inthorn sat on his laurels for weeks. The dragon took his spoils to a Lair somewhere in the forest the party has yet to discover. 

The Palatine of Siadanos was enraged. He was all too happy to allow Inthorn to take a merchant wagon on its way to Turos Tem now and again. But a a full on assault on HIS town? It would not stand. Worse yet, he demanded the Legate of Turos Tem, the Keep on the Borderlands the PCs called their home base, take care of the problem himself. It's in his region, after all!

It took the Legate about six weeks to call his bannermen. The Palatine, additionally, sent a few units led by his retainer Veritas the Prophet; a strange cleric whom the Legate found off-putting and likely a bit mad. It was obvious the mad cleric was there to assure the Legate carried out the orders exactly.

The party made a mad dash to try and rid Inthorn of his Curse but were unable to accomplish it before Legate Valerian had gathered his armed forces. In another session, the party engaged in a mad assassination plot against Inthorn's retainer(s)... and succeeded! The Legate moved up is timeline to engaged with Inthorn immediately, since the PCs had eliminated one major retainer of the brigands and apparently burned much of their food supply and some of their walls. Amazing.

The Turos Tem regulars gathered at the Parade Ground on March 6th, 2021. From there they marched off into the Viaspen Forest and the PCs had no idea what happened. Two PCs are Legionnaires (Veteran Infantry) and players were worried they could die off-stage. Maybe. 

I ran all of this using the ACKS Domains at War: Campaigns book.  I allowed my dad to roleplay Legate Valerian, giving him his general orders from the Palatine and his Order of Battle. He does NOT have a PC in the proper D&D game, so his motivations had nothing to do with helping or hindering the Players. All was roleplayed as if by the Legate himself; uncaring of PC's needs or wants. Pops brought a more curmudgeonly aspect to the Legate than I would have envisioned myself. His interpretation was the Legate was put out from not being offered a place in the major foreign campaign the Empire was engaging in against Skysos. His career likely going nowhere fast. My below correspondence from the Legate attempt to emulate the voice he gave him during RP.

At this point the Military Campaign was run as a wargame of sorts whose results would echo into the TTRPG campaign. If you've seen the documentary Secrets of Blackmoor, you are aware that D&D began with wargaming; with the referee then zooming in on the individual captains, generals and such. Proper D&D, then, is actually a region based wargame wherein we zoom in from time to time on various major regional players; oftentimes the D&D Players.

As such, I believe I am upholding the spirit of True D&D by allowing a side mission wargame like this. Additionally, by using Jeffrogaxian Timekeeping, I didn't need to figure it all out at once. ACKS Domains at War rules move a week at a time for overland campaigns. Essentially a turn each week. 

The Campaign

On March 6th the Turos Tem forces were gathered: four units of elite catapharacts,  three units of horse archers, three units of bowmen, and five units of heavy infantry. At platoon scale this meant each normal unit was 30 men and each unit of horse was 15. At such a small scale the enemy wizard was thought to be a great threat indeed; calculating at a value in mass battle about 6 times that of a normal heavy infantry. For one man! Legate Valerian was unconcerned and marched off into the Viaspen before lunch time.

On March 10th the Players received their first word about what was happening in the Viaspen Forest and the Legate's campaign. The Praeco took to a small stage outside the Turos Tem Villa and made the following announcement:


"Auran Citizens! It is my pleasure to announce the traitor Inthorn, disgraced General of the Legion, is on the run. Our glorious Legate Valerian and our stalwart Legion have harried the traitor from his den of trollops, sending Inthorn to flee into the wretched Viaspen forest. Great spoils were found in the traitor's camp, as well as the much abused corpses of Temple faithful; one Damianus (PC Cleric Level 1), an Acolyte of the Ammonar sect and Swoleous Maxiumus (PC Paladin Level1, a new paladin of same. Both men have be posthumously named 'Petty Heroes of Turos Tem' for their work in infiltrating Inthorn's camp. They will be provided a Turos Tem funerary pyre and shelf space for their urn in the Hospital at a place of honor intended for Petty Heroes. Any citizens heard referring to these Petty Heroes with the contemptible title of 'Adventurer' will be subject to summary judgement. Auran Citizen Jack Filcher (PC Thief Level 1), also found dead at the scene, may be referred to as 'Adventurer'. "

"Upon gathering the spoils of the camp for his Men, our Legate has taken chase of the disgraced general, his remaining forces, and his warlock puppeteer Dairin. Citizens are advised to make extra tithes to the various temples, as per their patronage, in divine defense against nightmares and cacodemons said warlock may send to our Legature, as reprisal. Our Legate has no timeline for his campaign and the Legions return and encourages our patience!"

"As per our majestic Palatine, this campaign cannot be abandoned until Inthorn is brought to Auran Justice. Dead. Or alive. Further news of our Legate's Viaspen Campaign will be sponsored by the Miller's Guild. True Auran bread for true Aurans."

Players bought drinks for some of the Legion who returned to Turos Tem with this news. It seemed the Legate had lost two units of infantry in a rear guard action against Inthorn who was fleeing the ruins of his burned up camp. The 30 or so injured legionnaires from this action were sent back to Turos Tem to pass the news along and be treated in the Hospital. They reported to the players that Legate Valerian took no prisoners, executing all captured brigands and burned unceremoniously, so that the Turos Tem forces might take chase of Inthorn who had fled off into the forest. 

What follows is new info for mine players documenting what happened with the campaign after March 10th. Correspondence from the Legate to various parties.

"Juselen 19th, 382 IY (March 12th, 2021 in our world)

From the mouth of Legate Ulrand Valerian, dictated to his humble servant Cyr the scribae.

My Palatine: The campaign goes well. The traitor Inthorn fled his burned up parapet some two days ago. My men are taking chase with great alacrity and discipline. I believed Inthorn was heading for the swamp on the western edge of the Viaspen but now his movements seem random. Perhaps trying to lose me or, we fear, attempting to taking a roundabout path to the lair of Ferigno the dragon. Its difficult to tell what Inthorn or his warlock may be planning. I personally witnessed Dairin the warlock riding a flying nightmare during our initial engagement. He appears trained in elementalism and his fireballs greatly injured some of my infantry who were sent back to my keep. I regret that Veritas the Prophet, your retainer and cleric, has been unable to divine anything of tactical value to the above. Our supply line and morale remains strong. May the Emperyan gods guide my path and steady my blade."

"Juselen 20th, 382 IY (March 13th, 2021 in our world)

From the mouth of Legate Ulrand Valerian, dictated to his humble servant Cyr the scribae.


My Palatine: I beg you keep your mage close and, if you deem it wise, request the company of a templar for some days. My life was endangered this night by an invisible assassin, conjured by chthonic magic  from the warlock Dairin. I consider my life indebted to you for sending Veritas the Prophet for this campaign. His kinship with the gods gave him sight to see and eliminate what was otherwise a silent and invisible assassin. I have my problems with the man (he is a drunkard and lacking in stoicism) but he eliminated the invisible stalker in my tent with mace hand before returning to our chess match. He became too drunk and I subsequently won. We have yet to engage Inthorn's forces in direct battle but know he is close. The fact he would employ such a cowardly attack on my person speaks ill of the man. A legionnaire in my service who met with the traitor recently claims him a good man, but I become unconvinced. May the Emperyan gods guide my path and steady my blade."

 "Juselen 22nd, 382 IY (March 15, 2021 in our world)

From the mouth of Legate Ulrand Valerian, dictated to his humble servant Cyr the scribae.

My Palatine: Victory is ours. This afternoon, after nigh a week of chase in circles around the elf touched briars of the Viaspen Forest, we closed with Inthorn's forces and engaged in a pitched battle. One imagines what Auran honor was left in the warlord finally appealed to the better angels of his nature, temporarily eliminating the cowardice which sent him fleeing here and there on this pointless ramble. After our rear guard action on Inthorn some days ago, he had the following at his command:

-Seven units of medium cavalry

-Five units of bowmen

The Auran forces much superior in numbers, my only fear was what sort of mischief the warlock may get into during the engagement. As before he was circling the field on a flying steed of flame, singeing the treetops with hoofbeat. Our bowmen exchanged volley with Inthorn's and both side took losses. Fireballs fell from the sky removing the last of our bow from the field. I ordered a melee engagement as quickly as possible. I held no delusion Dairin would care if his magic fire landed upon his supposed allies but I intended for both sides to take losses from such cruelty. 


It happened just as this. Fire continued to fall from the sky as our horse and infantry clashed with Inthorn's. Despite Inthorn's men being much better trained than any brigands I have yet engaged with his many remaining bowmen were scattered with fear upon sight of our veteran catapharact and the warlock's wild flames from the sky. Veritas appeared to have brought the strength of the gods to his unit of cavalry and their strikes were true indeed. He and my own Centurion proved their worth.

I personally brained Inthorn with my lance in a full charge, knocking him from his horse. He surrendered as best an nigh unconscious man might. His helmet did indeed appear magical as it did not take flight from his head as is the norm. Dairin the cowardly warlock never touched down to face justice and flew off away from the battle leaving his brothers-in-arms to their fate. One is thankful the mages at the Tower of Knowledge know the empyrean gods, understanding justice and order. Not vile slaves to the chthonic supposed gods of chaos and decay, as is Dairin. Veritas divined Dairin's location later and believes the evil mage has gone to beg the service and protection of Ferigno. Such are concerns for vagabonds and adventurers, but I repeat myself.

The rest of the day was a simple cleanup action. Most of the brigands attempted to flee but were easily ran down and destroyed by our horse. I have claimed one hundred and one prisoners which I will send back to Siadanos with your retainer Veritas to be adminstered Justice as you see fit.

This number of prisoners includes Inthorn the warlord himself. I can report my legionnaire who moonlights as an adventurer was correct. The General was under a curse. Veritas removed the curse and Inthorn is very contrite for his actions. He has asked the I behead him personally for his transgressions.

But I send him back to you for your Justice. I advise leniency as many a man has fallen to the wiles of a black widow. Much less one who whispers schemes with Nasga herself.

The losses I faced were more than I would have preferred. Though none of my units were destroyed, many were crippled. Including:

-three unit of cataphract

-two units of heavy infantry [DM Note: The Unit with Mandonio (PC Fighter Level 1) and Gauis (PC Fighter Level 2) were not among these.]

-three unit of bowmen (all of them)

-one unit of horse archers

I regret that your forces were among these losses. These men will need to be given bed rest and time to combine the forces to reconstitute new units. 

Many spoils were taken; 32,000 gold piece in value in all. I send 5,000 of this back to you as apology for your loss of men. I also will send you Inthorn's spear and sword which Veritas claims are of great magic indeed. [DM Note: as per ACKS Domains at War rules on "Spoils of War" on page 75, the General of an army takes 50% of the spoils. The other 50% is disbursed to the men on a pro rata basi in relation to their wages. This gained the PCs Mandonio and Gaius each about 15 gold pieces in spoils and 15 XP.]

I expect my return to Turos Tem on Juselen 28 (March 21) as a funeral pyre will need to be provided for our lost men and travel through this forest is quite taxing to us; especially with casualties. May the Emperyan gods guide my path and steady my blade."

"Juselen 23nd, 382 IY (March 16, 2021 in our world)

 Wife: I have won. I will return by the end of the month.

Your husband, Legate Valerian"

Friday, March 12, 2021

ACKS Session 13: Wandering Stooges

 Session played on 03/10/2021

Foreward

Every session has its own feel. This one was a bit more laid back and focused on info gathering. That's not to say the players WANTED to fail to find a good score (or even the dungeon they set out to find). It's just that, in hindsight a month or two from now, this session will likely be seen as one where the game world got bigger and some major points of interests were discovered for future exploitation.


Tonight the players were still running with The B Team since the main party PCs were still stuck in Time Compression due to their adventuring into the future many weeks.

Players were less hyped this week to make a major change to the campaign world. Perhaps losing most of the party in the previous session gave them pause or they were tired of rolling up new level 1 PCs. Instead they set up a simple goal of going to a new dungeon the bard PC brought to the table and checking it out. Unfortunately, they never found the place. Read on!

Session Report

Things started quite a bit quicker this session, with players only taking about 25-30 minutes to decide on the goal of seeking out the book The Lost Cults of Cyfaraun the new historian bard Felix the Elder (PC Bard Level 1) was interested in finding. He guessed it to have a value of over 2,000 GP to a collector. With a game using GP = XP this was all the motivation some of the players required to agree to help him acquire it.

 The codex was not near Turos Tem, however, where the party currently resided. The ruined Zaharan monastery rumored to hold the codex was across the Krysivor River from Turos Spen. For reference each hex on this map is 6 miles across. The party discussed a bit if such a mission would trap them in a time compression situation ("If it takes 2 weeks to get there we can't play these PCs in next week's session.") but their main PCs were catching up to our irl calendar on 03/15/21, before session 14 was scheduled. Team A would thus be available next session!

follow along!

So Team B set off and took about a day to get to Turos Aster. This party was a bit faster since none of them were wearing plate mail or carrying a great deal. In Turos Aster is when things took an interesting turn. 

Broll (PC Barbarian Level 1) decided to try and sell the ruby encrusted d1sney princess tiara he ripped off the lady cleric he assassinated in the previous session. Being valued at 1,300 GP he was unable to find a buyer in Turos Tem. He only had a 5% chance of finding a buyer in Turos Aster upon the party passing through but, guess what... it hit.

The party celebrated on the mics and slapped electronic high fives. Broll and Felix split the cash but then all the players started to realize they could hire some mercs with their newfound riches. Broll and Felix agreed to invest some of their gains for long term success.

In ACKS it takes a week to try to find hirelings and such so the party decided to go all in and spend a week there and attempt to find:
1. Henchmen (who would delve dungeons)
2. various mercs (light infantry and bowmen)
3. animal handler to handle the mules and horses they were also hoping to find.

This process took longer than when we did it in session 11 at Cyfaraun. My game slowed down a bit as I looked up chances men showed up to offer their services and as we tried and wheel and deal to get them to come on and join the party. Felix kept rolling "Try Again" result for the chance to hire NPCs. My house rule on that is you have to up the offer 25% up front and monthly pay or guarantee the guy 1% more treasure take.

Eventually the party gained 1 henchman named Boe (Normal Man Level 0 hench to Flavius) and 3 Light Infantrymen (Larry, Moe and Curly). The animal handler, or it may have been a Level 0 henchman PC, was so offended by his offer that he's bad mouthing the party around Turos Aster (-1 to future reaction rolls here).

Boe joins the party to great acclaim!

Flavius (PC Cleric Level 1) spent the week in Turos Aster at the Hospital/Temple making friends with the Mother Superior there. He ended up with some more comfrey (healing herb) and holy water from the priestess, as a result.

Next on to Turos Spen, which took about a day of travel.

Because my players are surprising me with these long trips across the map I have begun to pre-roll my random encounters. When I do so I number them for each roll then just go down the list for "roll 1", "roll 2" etc. Many entries are "Roll 1: nothing". So if I was to check twice a day I'd use my entry for Roll 1 and Roll 2. 

When I pre-roll a random encounter for Roll 3, for instance, I also roll the monster it is, whether there is a lair, distance encountered, and reaction (number on the dice). I then use this info and compare it to the party at play the night this entry comes up and play it out from there. Five orcs with a Neutral reaction may attack a party of 3 PCs but won't mess around with a party of 6 PCs and 6 henchmen; too daunting. For instance.

I highly recommend doing this for games where players are doing or will do a great deal of overland travel. Rolling up ALL the things I list out above is a pretty slow process for players to wait through. Additionally, overland travel focused sessions are ones where only the Caller is talking much. Spending even MORE time to roll up encounters, numbers encountered, etc causes the other players to zone out even more than they already may be doing.

The only random encounter the party had during their long trip to Turos Aster, despite making about 6 checks, was with a Skysos elementalist mage and his man Friday Farran. The mage had an anemic look to him and played with the flame on his torch (despite it being daytime), obsessed with its flickering. He was out looking for magical components, herbs, dead animals, etc. The party was polite but the NPCs were Neutral towards them so the players moved on.

In Turos Aster Bakup (PC Fighter Level 1) asked normal folks about the Zaharan monastery rumored to be nearby in the wilderlands. A fisherman told him that the party would need to ferry across the Krysivor and to do so on the north side of the confluence to avoid having to make two river crossings. The party did that and paid the fisherman to ferry them and check back once a day for a couple weeks for when they would come back.

As you can see, some of the travel and planning details of this adventure were slowing down play. These were important details and, if the party just set off towards the river without learning this, they'd have had to head right back to town to look into a solution.

Some DMs may have hand-waived these kinds of concerns. I certainly considered it this night as things slowed. But I think playing this out for real and not ignoring the dice is how you get a real DND game and a real fantasy realm that feels alive and important.

Felix hit the Chapterhouse in Turos Aster to see about finding maps or info about the ruined chthonic monastery but didn't learn much. The party had no one with the Mapping proficiency and no guide to the location so they had no choice but to go to the general area and look around; hoping for the best. 

The best isn't exactly what happened.

The party crossed the Krysivor River (hex 2005 above) then followed the river north until they could see the forest. Then they traveled along the southern edge of the forest looking for the monastery. They were aware that it could be in 2105, 2205 or in the forest at 2204. That's a large area to investigate.

Upon nearing the forest edge they heard rustling of some large cat creatures the party chose to evade successfully. Never got a good look at them. Traveling along the southern edge they eventually came to a big oak with strange black wilting leaves, silvery bark, and dead stirges lying everywhere. The trunk of the tree was all hacked up by an axe or something. The party looked around a bit yet eventually set off into the woods.

After a few hours deep into the wood night was falling and they rested. During the camp on Felix's watch some massive scorpions came across the party but appeared affraid of the large camp fire. The party set up a few other fires to avoid further disturbance.The next day of travel about the woods, the party got lost.

They made a circle of sorts looking for the monastery and tried to return to the hillside they had camped at the previous night. At this time I allowed the Explorer PC (X'enti the PC Explorer Level 1) make a check for Getting Lost. He failed so they couldn't find the hill. 

At this point they decided to go north and west and hopefully either exit the forest near the river or find the ruined monastery dungeon which was the session goal (remember that? I didn't.) They came across a silkworm farm that appeared cursed. The silk turned into ash when touched and the worms themselves had faces of the PC's lost friends screaming in agony. The Mercenaries in the party had to make a morale check but succeeded with flying colors.

The party did break out on the northside of the wood eventually and found a harsh cliffside with a massive circular doorway some 40 feet up its side. The ancient crypt stone door, a big circular stone with weathered illegible Zaharan runes, lay broken in half on the ground at the base of the cliffside. 

Well this had to be investigated right? So Broll, being the only PC with the ability to climb sheer surfaces, climbed up the side. And rolled a 1. Broll got about 20 feet up the cliffside, his hand slipped, and he went cartwheeling off the side landing on his back directly on the big stone door lying on the ground, knocked out and probably dead.

Flavius the cleric ran over and began to heal the barbarian. It took a few minutes and Broll appeared like he was going to survive but could barely walk. As Flavius was stooped over to heal Broll there was movement way up the cliffside at the big circular opening. Hawkmen began tossing spears at the party. A battle ensued!

Six hawkmen revealed themselves with a chief of sorts decked out very nice gear including a beautiful and powerful shield. Spears rained down on the group but only Larry the Light Infantryman was killed. The party exchanged missile volleys and were also able to take a hawkman out of the skies. The chief directed two of his hawkmen to engage with the party with polearms made of jagged lizard teeth.

Flavius helped the injured Broll into the woodline away from missile fire, blocked some javelins that were sent their way from impaling the barely walking barbarian. 

they're lawyers. Terrifying!

About a minute or so into the battle a blue blur flew out of the cliffside, a 30 foot long blue dragon, in fact. It hovered 100 yards in the air and surveyed the field. The PCs (and the players) were terrified. It seems they had stumbled onto a dragon's lair and the hawkmen were her guards. So the party ran away.

The remaining 2 infantrymen were the only ones engaged in melee so I ruled if they won initiative Moe and Curly could disengage form melee and the whole group could attempt a Wilderness Evasion roll. The Explorer in the group was doing pretty good at those and seemed like a good way to escape the dragon's wrath. If not, the party may have to leave the stooges behind. (Serves them right for demanding 75% higher pay!)

They won. The party succeeded at Wilderness Evasion and ducked off into the woods so their flying enemies would be less likely to pursue. At this point the players decided to cut their losses and head home. They kept the river in their site and followed it upriver to where their ferryman should be.

On the way they came across a big nazca lines of sorts with tiny stones laid out across a massive hill to form some sorts of shapes. When X'enti climbed a big tree nearby (not poor Broll!) he was able to make enough notes to get the generally idea that it was a map of some of the nearby area and to a spot marked by a Vulture Statue. Using it and a Mapper I ruled the party would be to find the monastery they were looking for all session. They'd also be able to make it to the Vulture State marker which was much much much further away. Translation of some of the runes on the massive map would need to be interpreted in downtime, these PCs had no clue what it said.

The party met the ferryman and crossed the river back to Turos Spen where they ended their adventure for the night. Big XP payout for killing 1 (one) [uno] [[ein]] hawkman. The party adventured for 14 days starting on 03/10/21 so these PCs are unavailable until 03/24/21.

Afterword

You may have noticed that some of the things the party came across were not Random Encounters but weird stuff like maps and dead stirges. The is because I used the "Stocking the Wilderness" rules from AXIOMS 8. Here's a picture of the first chart you roll on. 

After this are nested charts for those various things on what "Dangerous Terrain" might entail or whatever.

I love this article and system since I always wanted a good way to toss non-encounter points of interest into my wilderness crawling gaming. 

As I said in my foreword I believe this session, though not very action packed or gilded with treasure, had seeded a handful of interesting locales and possible missions into the campaign. The party now knows where a dragon lair is ($$$), where the dungeon they were looking for is, and where some new point of interest is which is signified by a vulture symbol. It's likely they'll investigate into the latter and find something of interest there with a map to get them there.

This type of gaming can sometimes seem slow. Dealing with encumbrance, travel times, and scads of random encounters/terrain isn't what most newer players of D&D and TTRPGs would consider a good time. But, for me, letting an interesting world open up before you based on some weird dice rolls is much more interesting than trying to cram a plot or story into a game. Let the story come to you based on these crazy rolls and your crazy players. It's more interesting then the one you'll come up with on your own. 

Check out the #brosr on tw1tter to learn more winning secrets on how to do this for yourself. God bless.

Surviving PCs Present

XP Cuts: 11 cuts. 2 for each PC and one for Boe. 3 XP per cut 

Bakup (10% bonus) Fighter Level 1: 7 xp gained. Total: 7 

Broll (10% bonus) Barbarian Level 1. 7 xp gained. Total: 1079 

Felix (5% bonus) Bard Level 1. 6 xp gained. Total: 825 

Flavius (10% bonus) Cleric Level 1. 7 xp gained. Total: 7 

Xenti (no bonus) Explorer Level 1. 6 xp gained. Total: 6 Hench: Boe. 3 xp gained. Total: 3, probably.

Surviving Henchmen Present

Boethius. 3 xp gained.

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.

Yolo Baggins "My friends call me Swaggins" (L1 Gnomish Trickster) played by J. DECEASED. Paralyzed and eaten by ghouls in Session 12. Body not recovered.

Jack Filcher (L1 Thief) played by C. DECEASED. Shot full of arrows by Inthorn's brigands in Session 12. Body not recovered.

Swoleous Maximus (L1 Paladin). DECEASED. Captured then drawn and quartered by Inthorn the Brigand warlord in Session 12. Posthumously named "Petty Hero of Turos Tem" by Legate Valerian. Ashes offered a place of pride in the Hospital.

Damianus (L1 Cleric). DECEASED. Captured and beheaded by Inthorn the Brigand warlord in Session 12. Posthumously named "Petty Hero of Turos Tem" by Legate Valerian. Ashes offered a place of pride in the Hospital.

Alexa this is so sad play "no fun" by the stooges


Friday, March 5, 2021

ACKS Session 12: You Only Live Once

Foreword

Session played on 03/03/21

I don't even know what my dnd game is anymore. This session, most of the major PCs were stuck in Time Compression and would be unavailable to play until 03/15/21. So this entire party except Jack Filcher (PC Thief Level 1) was completely new: freshly rolled. 

the b team

So of course that means some of the players want to try to swing for the fences. To do something really insane and impact the campaign world. 

Problem was, they didn't exactly have the right party makeup or resources to engage in the bandit camp infiltration scheme they truly wanted to. But that didn't stop them from trying! 

All seemed completely lost. A TPK imminent, a complete wash of a night. Yet, as happens in True DND, a sudden amazing dice roll in a player's favor turned certain defeat into an amazing and unexpected victory. Eucatastrophe!

Session Report

The party consisted of a newly rolled Paladin (Swoleous Maximus), a Lawful Cleric of Ammonar (Damianus), a Gnomish Trickster (Yolo Baggins), and a Bard (Felix Trifolium). Jack Filcher, despite being a thief, was the leader of sorts thanks to him being the only veteran to the adventuring life.

So we all logged onto the voice chat and proceeded to talk and scheme. Scheme and talk. Then talk. Then scheme. About an hour. I didn't force them to make a decision and GO because I knew the Time Compression coupled with the upcoming World In Motion Events gave them many variables to ponder.

The party was particularly concerned with Inthorn's (High Level NPC Warlord) big camp of nigh 200 brigands. The players are still convinced that Inthorn, an old retired general of the Auran Legion, was cursed to be Chaotic due to a Helmet of Alignment change; thus leading to his recent brigandage. 

INTHORN. i'll stop using this pic when
someone does something about the guy

The players have been contemplating how to get the Helmet off the brigand warlord since they met him months ago. Tonight was no different. 

They convinced me that the Priestess Genelen of the Hospital in Turos Tem (NPC Priestess Level ???) may agree to go with them to the brigands (bringing her Remove Curse spell) since tonight's party had a Paladin and Lawful Cleric. Sure why not. I did a reaction roll (2d6+2 needing 12+... rolled 5) but turns out the Priestess was less impressed with this party than the last one. "B Team"? more like "begone, team". One day into his adventuring and Damianus the Cleric was already questioning his Empyrean faith. smh

Mandonio (PC Fighter Level 1) wasn't played tonight but his player gave some cash to Jack Filcher to buy some Carcass Scavenger poison (?????) which happened to be available from a shady dealer on a street corner in Turos Tem.

After which the party departed and traveled about a day into the Viaspen Forest. They stopped at Inthorn's brigand camp, finding them to be much the same as usual; some wenching and boozing. Hashtag just brigand things. 

They didn't appear to be preparing for a mass battle with the regular forces of the Turos Tem Legature. The party was aware the Legate was gathering his troops to attack Inthorn on 03/07/2021 due to some PCs being in the Legion. This is another reason the players wanted to hurry and do something about Inthorn. Perhaps prevent the battle and save their other PCs who could die off-stage. Jack was more interested in the reward for bringing in Inthorn dead or alive before such a possibility would become impossible due to war.

The players debated and schemed a bit about what they might do to the brigand camp but chose to stay cool and just sleep and hit up the Blister of Doom dungeon in the morning.

The next day they did just that. They entered the Buried Temple and went down the east corridor to a room with some stairs going to the Second Level. I couldn't believe it! I never thought they'd delve a level down!

Attack a 9 HD ettin? Sure np. But go down some stairs to a level 2 dungeon? Too dangerous.

It turns out they were right to be wary. 

They found a natural cave with bars on the west wall some 30 feet long. Only the Gnomish Trickster YOLO Swaggins could squeeze through. Swoleous failed to live up to his name and couldn't bend the bars enough for the human PCs to slip through.

On the other side of the bars YOLO saw the caves continue north and south, northward with the light sound of waves lapping a beach or stone walls. The rest of the party cheered on from the other side of the bars, keeping a healthy six feet of social distance. 

Ghouls got a surprise on poor little YOLO and, despite his having a Mirror Image spell active, the ghouls' many attacks paralyzed the gnome, leaving his heart still beating for good eatin' later on. Three of the four ghouls absconded with YOLO into the darkness. One was killed by the rest of the party's accurate archery.

So they left the dungeon and went back to Inthorn's brigand camp.


Around twilight the players began discussing schemes to assassinate Inthorn or his cleric or mage. But this time, they started taking actions and sort of free-styled a scheme as they went.

Jack Filcher poisoned some sandwiches and brought them to the two guards keeping an eye on the door to Inthorn's wooden shack inside the camp. They chowed down and were paralyzed in short order. Jack slit their throats were they stood. While he was trying to push the bodies into a dark corner of the camp, sadly, some bowmen guards on the wall saw him. Jack got the jump on one, killed the bowmen with a thrown dagger (natural 20 roll) but there were still three more bowmen guards with eyes on him from the wall.

One round of combat later Jack Filcher was dead, feathered with arrows, his body splayed on top of the guards he poisoned.

In the meantime Felix was on the opposite side of the camp regaling the brigands with epic tales of adventure and excitement. "Just sit right there and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip..." It proved to be a powerful distraction and the majority of the brigands responded slowly to the commotion coming from the gate.

Swoleous and Damianus were using some tar and military oil Jack gave them to prep tents to be lit up by cinders from camp fires when the time was right. Neither PC is sneaky at all so this was an all night affair of looking for lucky moments when no one was around or paying attention. When they heard the gate guards hollering about "Jack Filcher killed the General's guards!" they decided the time was now. Five tents went up like the nine hells. Some moments later the mess hall tent's cooking oil must have set off and it exploded, sending salisbury steak into the sky like beefy fireworks.

The Paladin and Cleric realized it was time to leave and ran to the gate. They tried to get the guards to open the only gate stating they "needed water from the creek to put out the fire!" but the guards weren't having it. (I rolled 2d6  needing a 12  for the guards to have a Friendly Reaction and fall for it and got and 11... so close!). They pointed arrows at the PCs who agreed to be taken captive without further violence. 

Felix the bard, meanwhile, used prestidigitation for a puff of smoke to slide off his makeshift stage, realizing the audience was getting to be a tough crowd. He watched the guard tower nearest to him and got lucky (1 or 2 on a d6 to see if the guards were not paying attention) as its guards descended their post to help with the fires. He climbed to the raised platform and hopped over the wooden wall and disappeared into the forest beyond, safe from a brigand beatdown. 

Now dear reader we have come to the craziest part. Crazier than all that, you say? Oh yes.


Broll (PC Barbarian Level 1) had installed himself as a spy on the brigands for the party about two months prior to this session. The player essentially shelved his barbarian PC, choosing to play other PCs as one after another of his other PCs died or were wounded enough to need weeks of bed rest. Now and then I messaged the player online with something like "Broll has some interesting info about the brigands, do you want him to try and get it out to the party?" I'd give him the chances he succeeded vs the chances he'd get discovered as an infiltrator and the player would make a decision and we'd roll some dice. Success meant new info for the party proper back in Turos Tem. Failure, thus far, had only meant Broll couldn't get a missive out to his friends. He had not been discovered as an infiltrator and was living the life of a lawless brigand quite well; easy enough for a Jutlander Barbarian tbqh.

During all this craziness I said to Broll's player (he was playing Swoleous tonight) "Broll would see all this craziness happening with the fires and he may decide to attempt to assassinate Olyma tonight rather than when the armies are forming for battle". He had already decided he would give it a shot before the Big Battle despite my giving him these changes: 1d20 roll. 20+ on the d20 = success. 11 or less = discovered as an assassin and executed.

But I told him tonight he'd have a slightly better chance of success but also a higher chance of being discovered. 1d20 roll. 19+ = success. 14 or less = discovered as an assassin and executed.

Just one roll to decide all this. Similar to Ad&D assassination attempts. I was not giving the player the option to PLAY Broll tonight because he decided to play Swoleous. It's my contention players shouldn't get to play two PCs at once. If you want a bigger force, hire some mercenaries or henchmen imo.

Broll decided to go for it. I waited until the end of the session to let him roll the assassination chance. The players all held their breath. Broll found his luckiest d20 and gave it a roll. 

"Oh man... I have to take a picture of this!" he exclaimed over the mic. "Did you hit it?" "you'll see"

We waited for a picture to load up on the chat room. Then it slides into the room and we see a picture of a d20 dice, with the 20 facing up.

Brilliant success! A night of foolishness and failure turns on a d20 roll! This is why we play this ridiculous game, folks.

Broll the Barbarian. Infiltrator and
Master Assassin.

I rolled that Broll killed the lady cleric Olyma whilst she was in a state of undress doing her makeup, lodging an axe in her head. Broll stoll the fancy d1sney princess tiara off her head, climbed the wall, and slipped out of the camp while the brigands were all dealing with the fires and arresting Swoleous and Damianus. He met up with Felix somewhere in the forest and they buddy-copped their way back to Turos Tem slapping high fives and laughing over their success.

They informed Legion about the situation at the brigand camp and, by all reports, Legate Valerian (NPC Fighter Level ???) intended to speed up his timeline and engage the brigands on battle much more quickly than previously planned, due to them being "weakened" by the party.

This was a wild session of mistakes and triumphs and it was all made possible because we are embracing the old Gygax ways and campaign assumptions. Follow the #broSR on tw1tter and you can learn how to run a similar campaign. You won't regret it!

Surviving PCs Present

Broll (10% bonus xp), Barbarian Level 1: 858 xp cut. Total: 1,072 

Felix Trifolium (5% bonus xp), Bard Level 1: 819 xp cut. Total: 819

PC's Captured by Inthorn's Brigands

Damianus, Cleric of Ammonar Level 1

 Swoleous Maximus, Paladin of Ammonar Level 1

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.

Yolo Baggins "My friends call me Swaggins" (L1 Gnomish Trickster) played by J. DECEASED. Paralyzed and eaten by ghouls in Session 12. Body not recovered.

Jack Filcher (L1 Thief) played by C. DECEASED. Shot full of arrows by Inthorn's brigands in Session 12. Body not recovered.

Alexa this is so sad play "rapper's delight" by sugar hill gang

 

Session 117: Ill Met in Muppetlantis

Session 117: Ill Met in Muppetlantis 6/28/23-6/30/23, rest 6/31/23, active 07/01/23 PCs: Billy Billiamson (L1 Lawful Barbarian) Gront Colds...