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


1 comment:

  1. Really was an excellent game! Personally, I love the challenges presented in exploration and discovery. Shear survival becomes its own reward! Now to take out that dragon...

    ReplyDelete

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