Friday, April 2, 2021

ACKS Session 14: Attack of the Grrlbosses

Foreword

Is prep a waste of time? I haven't ran my game for three weeks and spent some of that time preparing for the players to go off to a new dungeon. I thought about making a bespoke dungeon but instead chose a one pager I had lying around and will re-purpose its monsters and mise en scene as needed. This is because there's not a huge chance the players will go there any time soon. Why spend an hour or two drawing it up?


I also drew up the treasure map the players found last session, using my kids' crayons. The players never asked about it.

I also ran a two week mass combat military campaign with my dad which echoed into the region and the players hooks and options. Worldbuilding through wargaming! But this didn't come into play much this session either.

So what did? One (1) random encounter. That encompassed the entire session. 

I did pre-roll this. So it seems the prep I did that truly mattered was mine pre-rolling random encounters in case the PCs decide to set off in a random direction for miles on end. 

It's not that prep is a waste of time it's just that you can never really guess what prep is going to save you time in session or give you what you need when your players are left to their own devices.

Session Report

Mandonio (PC Fighter Level 2) was back! He was off on campaign with Legate Valerian for weeks and the player was forced to play backup PCs during this time. Everyone was excited to have a front-line fighter with heavy armor back in the mix. Because Gaius (PC Fighter Level 2) hasn't been playing lately, it's been a very long time since the players have had big AC up front.

Yllmeeton (PC Shaman Level 2) only required 1 xp to level, since he gained enough for TWO levels in his last session but making two levels in one session is against ACKS governing rules. So the players decided to use the party based out of Turos Tem and get Yllmeeton his 1 xp and grab Level 3. The players also have a "Team B" based currently out of Turos Spen who have some pretty interesting unique hooks of their own. Perhaps we'll return to them next time. Jeffrogaxian Timekeeping wins again!

The players decided to set off for the Blister of Doom; the introductory dungeon they haven't delved in many sessions. Just grab Yllmeeton 1 XP and get out. What could go wrong!

Well...

The party traveled into the Viaspen Forest towards the dungeon, coming upon some trained war-dogs apparently lost from the Auran army that made campaign in the forest recently. Yllmeeton had his new henchmen Vincente (Normal Man Level 0) try and calm the animals. He's an old men who has a way with animals. He used to be a hostler before he got kicked in the head by a goat. He's also a congregant of Yllmeeton's cult. The four war dogs liked Vincente and joined on as followers of the party. Random encounters can sometimes be a resource addition!

The party traveled the wood until nightfall and needed to make camp. They chose to camp in the ruins of Inthorn's brigand camp. It was now fully burned to charred wood and ash thanks to the PCs and Legate Valerian's army. 

During the rainy night (I use my local weather to inform the game weather) four hippy ladies with flowers in their hair padded out of the treeline, barefoot, into the clearing in front of the camp ruin. Giggity?

Daria (PC Bladedancer Level 2) greeted them with a resting-bitch-face. All the players were certain something wasn't right here. Why were these women traveling around the forest in the middle of the night?

There was a bit of banter where the women claimed they were trollops who would come to hang out with the brigands. "oh no what happened to the, poor dears!" Daria wasn't buying it. Two of the flower children skipped off into the trees and disappeared, leaving two others gabbing.

 Yllmeeton used his Sense Power ability to grok the ladies were quite magical; each being about as powerful as Dairin the Wizard who the PCs were quite terrified of indeed. Four of them?! Yllmeeton approached to clearing to speak and the head hippy dropped her beautiful illusion exposing her true ugliness. Long rotting fingernails. Stringy hair falling out in clumps. Pale pasty skin with shocks of purple veins. Historically bulbous cankles! It's Hillary!


The other hippy actually looked Rosie. 

Daria was done with this and dropped her hand to signal her artillerist to fire the party's repeating ballistae. The battle was on!

Bard the Bowman (NPC Henchman to Daria Level 0) missed with an arrow. The repeating ballistae was off target!

Vincente released the hounds. Mandonio charged across Inthorn's killing field and missed with a spear attack on Hillary. Yllmeeton prayed for divine power from the Seeker and commanded Rosie to flee. She did so, wobbling off into the tree line and not seen again this battle.

Hillary then ripped the head off a war dog and bathed in it's spinal fluid claiming it would be great for her skin. Beat another dog against a tree, killing it. 

Marn (PC Mage Level 2) the necromancer coursed with fel arcane power and summoned four Jutlandish beserkers behind Hillary ordering them. The bearded maniacs only care was berserkergang and destroying Hillary as if they were claymore wielding alt-right poasters. 


The melee scrum with Hillary continued with the PCs getting some shots here and there and the engorged witch eviscerating dogs and beserkers with her long daggerlike nails. The hits kept coming but she kept standing, like Hillary Rodham in the 90s!

Suddenly, 30 feet in the sky above the missile wielding contingent of the party, Kamala appeared and cackled (despite nothing apparently humorous going on) which magically terrified Yllmeeton, Vincente, and the hunting dog. All of them ran off screaming into the wood, leaving their compatriots to their fate.

As the scrum with Hillary continued Kamala threw another spell stating something about "come with me to help flatten the curve". Mandonio and Marn became enchanted and followed Kamala off to the north part of the ruins of Inthorn's camp; leaving Daria, her henchmen, and the last beserker to try and fell the nigh unkillable Hillary! 

As Mandonio and Marn followed Kamala into the woodline some 100 yards away from the battle, Oprah appeared and used magic to erect massive thorny vines to bar the other PCs from following the hags and their PC prisoners. Rosie was there too. She apparently only fled from the Seeker for a moment then regrouped with her ugly sisters.

Eventually Daria killed Hillary who screamed about the Russians. The Bladedancer then took off in search of Yllmeeton and the others who were magically afeared, calming them down to regroup.

From this point on the player for Mandonio was cutting and pasting funny memes into the channel about his being dead meat. Marn's player, having so many dead PCs already, was more resigned to his fate. Both players listened politely as Yllmeeton and Daria debated whether it was worth trying to chase the hags down to try and save the PCs.

Vincente pointed out that his hunting dog could likely get them on the trail and the remaining party decided to give it a shot. It took a few hours of double timing it but Carparts the bloodhound followed the trail north and deeper into the Viaspen. Yllmeeton and Daria eventually caught up with their charge at a babbling brook so loud the hags didn't hear them nearby. The hags were arguing about whether Ferigno the green dragon would be happy to take the PCs as a gift. The party never heard them state why they'd be interested in bribing Ferigno. Perhaps next time we'll learn.

But Yllmeeton and Daria's players discussed and decided there's no way they would be able to take on 3 hags, Mandonio and Marn and survive. They had no plan! They had no courage! They went home to Turos Tem and cashed out their XP.

Good luck, friends! I hope the dragon doesn't eat you.

Afterword

One random encounter is all it takes for a few hours of entertaining D&D. Most DMs would be best served to use very little, if any modular materials. Why would you read a 200 page "adventure module" when you could be reading Robert E Howard, Vance or Burroughs? You'll be better served being able to crib ideas from Appendix N and apply those ideas to "Random Encounter roll... 4 hags... Neutral reaction..." with extra inspiration from previous events in your campaign world ("hey there's that dragon from 8 sessions ago maybe they're working for him?"). Modular material can often be the OPPOSITE of inspiration. You become so involved in being true to the module you fail to lean on your own creativity.

"Adventures", of course, shouldn't be used at all. If your published material is advising any sort of plot progression or NPCs with plot-armor: DO NOT USE IT.

So what of Mandonio and Marn's fate? It's possible the dragon my ransom them back to the party or the Legate of Turos Tem (in Mandonio's case). It's possible the dragon holds them prisoner long enough that the party rescues them. It's also possible the dragon may eat them with a bit of salt and pepper. Check back here later and find out!

Surviving PCs present

Daria (0% bonus) Level 2 Bladedancer. Received 1,240 XP. Current Total: 5,278 XP 

Yllmeeton (10% bonus) Level 2 Shaman. Receieved 1,364 XP. Currently Total: 4,363 XP [LEVEL UP TO 3!]

Surviving Henchmen

Marina (Level 1 Fighter hench to Yllmeeton): Recieved 620 XP. Total: ???

Vincente (Level 0 hench to Yllmeeton): Received 620 XP. Total: 620???

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 "go your own way" by fleetwood mac


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