Friday, May 7, 2021

ACKS Session 17: Return of The Dude

Played on 05/05/21

Session Report

Players knew what they wanted to do this session. They did a bit of prep before the session by buying stuff they needed but, thanks to ACKS economy system being a bit too confusing for most players, they still had questions like "is there plate mail available in town to buy for my red shirt I mean henchman". 

Siadanos. A small borderlands town.

Doing all these sorts of shopping chores and cleaning up the PC sheets for the new Player Characters took about twenty minutes. After that we were off and running. 

The PCs wanted to accompany The Dude (NPC Cleric Level 5 [mendicant template]) back to the crypt of the Soul Eater. The Dude would be cleansing the place and putting up a holy Lawful altar to his deity of travelers outside the crypt. Players were informed after last session The Dude wanted to do it with them but each week had a 10% of going without them or with an NPC party. +10% each subsequent week on the chance of him doing so. The Dude abides but not forever!

The party was quite large. All of my regular players showed up and a few of them brought henchman and mercs. They elected not to bring their wagon with repeating ballistae since they'd be adventuring into the Lusaun Forest which was too thick to navigate the mule cart they had it strapped to.

Late into the first day of travel the PCs passed a nice comfy cottage about 100 yards off the road that had, sadly, been ruined by something. The walls were crumbling and the red roof shingles were occasionally dropping off into the muddy ground. PCs were certain this cottage was fine when they passed it going the other way some two weeks back. What gives?

The new elf, Captain Donny Keebler, (PC Elven Spellsword Level 1) caught glimpse of some strange wide trenches coming from the nearby forest going directly at the cottage. Something attacked it along there? 

Daria (PC Bladedancer Level 4) whose player was acting as Caller said "no way" to this situation. Something sinister was certainly in this cottage. The party elected to keep moving down the road. 

But my reaction roll for the monsters was as low as possible. They were very hostile indeed. An earthquake shook the cottage, sending wall to ruin completely and rumbled the road the PCs were on. They decided to spread out, hoping to avoid some sort of area of effect earthquake or something. A mound of dirt started moving towards the party as if a large burrowing creature was coming for them.

Combat began and the front line set for a charge or held their actions, hoping to attack whatever the burrowing monster was once it stuck its head out. Two screeching gray worms of about 8 foot diameter burst from mud. One bit at Mandonio (PC Fighter Level 2) nearly eating his shield before the legionnaire prodded it back with spear and iron will. The other tremor got behind the group into the back ranks but flailed about missing its target (I forget who).

Gaius (PC Fighter Level 3) recently learned the art of Riding and bought a beautiful new light warhorse. He took to a charge across the rain soaked field and stabbed his lance deep into the tremor that was harassing Mandonio. Daria ran behind him on foot at supernatural speed (a blessing of her goddess upon a quick prayer) and stabbed the tremor for a killing blow soon after. 

The back ranks surrounded the worm that got close to them and beat it soundly before it ever had a taste of human flesh. All in all, a combat with what should have been a powerful monster went completely the players' way due to a combination of large party, good tactics, and bad DM rolling. The random encounter was actually a Lair meaning these beasts had some treasure. Daria was wise enough to know to slice the ugly tremors open and sort through the gore in hopes of finding cash and prizes. Worm pinata.

Both beasts had some very nice jewelry pieces lodged in their small intestine. One had eaten a platinum statue of the Eagle of Aura which had Star Sapphire eyes. The other had eaten a woman who had a beautiful silver bracelet inset with turquoise. The total value was nearly 6,000 GP. Not a bad days work.

"I'm sure she was a cool chick man, rest in peace."

The party searched the cottage and only found that the far wall had big circular holes in it and the tremors had destroyed everything and everyone there in upon claiming their new lair. The party made a funeral pyre for the corpse they found. The Dude prayed over the body "I'm sure she was a cool chick man. I mean I didn't really know her." 

The party then made a note to check on who owned this land once they got back to town; to inform next of kin. Or the owners, were they lucky enough to be on vacation .

The party rested a few hours later just off the road near the edge of the haunted Lusaun Forest. No night encounters.

The next morning they set off into the Lusaun Forest and were once again disconcerted by its lack of birdsong or varmints like squirrels about. The animals knew this place holds something unnatural!

They were unable to make it to the crypt before nightfall. Gaius and Mandonio used their legionnaire training to dig trenches and such to hopefully mitigate the advantage of random night time encounters catching them unawares in the dark.

At night the ghouls came. 

Some of the defensive ditches Gaius dug kept the ghouls' surprise round from being so successful. I ruled that only half of the 11 present would be able to get a surprise round attack. Six of undead came out from behind trees and bushes among the party's camp. Daria got scratched and bit a couple times and was unable to resist the creatures' sinister paralysis ability. A few more got deeper into the camp and attacked the weaker PCs and henchmen, eventually downing Yasema (Fighter Level 1 henchlady to Gaius). When the full group of ghouls came screaming from the forest they were able to kill two of Daria's mercenaries. The Dude used turn undead on quite a few, but not before Donny Keebler cast Summon Beserkers; magically bringing some insane cosmic jutlanders to the fray to toss a ghoul out of The Dude's face. Well done, Captain Donny.

Gaius spent a round finding and mounting his warhorse then proceeded to charge into the scrum of ghouls that were surrounding Daria and her henchmen who had converged to protect her. Gaius ran through and destroyed three ghouls in his initial charge. The Dude lifted his holy symbol again the three that remained went sprinting away from the offending holiness back into the haunted wood, yelling about their hatred of the empyrean gods. 

Lusaun Forest. Imagine seeing ghouls here at night.

The dead mercenaries and henchmen were burned at a quick pyre with The Dude saying more prayers "I'm sure Yasema was a really cool chick too, man. We only hung out a couple times though."

The next morning the party was out the clearing in the haunted wood. Oak trees with dripping blood red leaves made an eerie circle a large grey stone base a massive statue of a chthonic priestess used to stand on. The titan had long since crumbled to the forest floor, arms and legs sprawled hear and there. The statues angry cat lady expression of self satisfaction and despair peaking through some shrubs where the large statue head had tumbled. 

The party descended the stairs from the center of the stone base. Traveling into the cramped dungeon they came to a minor altar and The Dude cast blessed on it. Passing through a secret door they found last time the party went deeper into the flooded second level of the chthonic crypt. Alcoves head human finger bones all along the halls. 

They passed through the flooded circular room and traveled on towards a room with two sarcophagi they had looted a few weeks ago. Donny Keebler's elf eyes caught glimpse of a hidden side hall leading out the major hallway. The side hall jutted under the water and would need to be crawled through. The Dude confirmed he wasnt' aware of it but that when he scryed the dungeon with his Crystal Bong he saw many rats in this area. Perhaps the hidden side passage led to their lair. 

The party elected to perhaps return to it later. Moving forward they came to the room with two sarcophagi. The Dude felt pretty certain there was a secret door the Soul Eater was using from this room to access her personal sarcophagus. Neither of these were nice enough for such a powerful undead!

Donny spotted another secret door. The one was a hallway leading out of the room and under water a bit but not so cramped as the previous. The party was loathe to put themselves in such an awkward position but saw no alternative. Getting soaked with brackish water they traveled the cramped hallway and came to the Soul Eater's sarcophagus room, which was elevated enough to keep the room dry. 

The Dude cast Bless on the sarcophagus while the party looted the burial treasures. These included some huge jars of monster parts (for magic item creation), various prayer sticks and unholy symbols, and 1,000 electrum pieces of ancient zaharan mint. Time to cash out!

The party struggled to get the large jars of monster parts through the flooded cramped hall but nothing attacked them during the difficult trek. Mandonio argued they should bypass the possible rat's nest and simple escape the dungeon, having accomplished their goal of blessing the two major evil rooms.

Once outside Daria cast the final Bless spell and The Dude erected a shrine on top of the crypt entrance of his god Naurivus, deity of travel, Lord of the Winds! It was an oversized ship in a bottle a nice rug underneath to really bring the shrine together.

The Lawful PCs all felt blessed by having properly cleansed the sinkhole of evil and each received 250 XP (Chi Roh). The trek back through the Lusaun Forest and down the road to the town of Siadanos was uneventful. 

Afterword

What was interesting about this session for me is the random encounter with the tremors was more worthwhile to the party than the actual mission they planned out and accomplished. There was very little danger from tangling with the big worms but a great deal of treasure and thus XP.

The crypt also was not so dangerous. This dungeon is on the ACKS official mini-dungeons for this region of the world. It's designed in an interesting way in that it doesn't have room encounters or random encounters. It has a hybrid thing where you roll 1d6 each time players enter a room. On a 6 there is an encounter from a random table. This could make the place very dangerous with fight after fight (even on the way back out) but the 6 never came up for the party on this delve. The place was clean this time. Last delve? Not so much.

The strangest thing is how the random encounter with the Level 2 monster (ghouls) was much worse than dealing with the mid level dungeon or Level 6 random encounter (tremors). The ghouls getting a surprise round was very dangerous. Mandonio's player, at one point, stated that if the Dude couldn't get his Turn Undead off they were all dead. It certain felt that way!

This was a bit of a wrap up session, returning to The Dude's little quest and finishing it up. I think there are other hooks the players were more interested in but the players want to leave Siadanos soon and I'm sure they felt it was unlikely The Dude would wait around for a month or more for them to come back and accompany them to the crypt. It was now or never!

Jeffrogaxian Timekeeping and Real D&D play like this is very cool because it doesn't take very long (probably only 6 sessions for this campaign) before the number of hooks and intriguing actions PCs can take is spinning out of control. Let review some of the threads hanging in my campaign:

-Broll (PC Barbarian Level 1) knows where a damsel can be rescued. The centurion of Tuos Spen is offering a solid reward. Broll also has a rumor about where he can find the mythical BAPBook; a mysterious tome that will help him with gains and leading armies of fit bros.

-Felix the Elder (PC Bard Level 1) knows of an ancient book called The Elven Cults of Cyfaraun; a normal but very rare book worth thousands of gold to a collector. The party spent a session trying to find the dungeon it's rumored to be in, only finding its location at the END of the session and not yet returning. He also found an actual map, which I actually drew with my kids' crayons, leading to some other mysterious dungeon much further into the wilderness.

-Pink Lemonade (a second Player Character party I'm running irl) has been delving a dungeon unknown to my other players looking for the Blade of Van Helsing.

-The Dude told the party about a Unicorn Pool hidden in the Viaspen Forest. Drinking from it was reportedly cure a Mortal Wounds such as BriarWhisper's (PC Elven Ranger Level 3) blindness from when the Soul Eater ripped his eyes out. But only for Lawful characters.

-Speaking of the Viaspen Forest, the party discovered a Hill Giant Lair there but chose not to engage (ran away terrified). Also the Viaspen STILL has the original dungeon from session 1 and, word is, Pink Lemonade is making progress in clearing it.

-Marn the Mage, who was captured by Hags and then sold to Ferigno the green dragon, returned to the PCs in their nightstand doorknob for a few minutes. His hand was found in the drawer tattooed with a map of the sewers beneath the city of Cyfaraun and the writing "the mage you like is going to come back in style! Come here for the stench of wealth!"

-Happy Dicers (NPC Party) haven't been heard from for weeks. They claimed in fortress from manbearpigs in the wilderlands but stopped making supply runs to the nearest Auran Fort. No one is sure what happened. Yllmeeton (PC Shaman Level 2) wants to go here and claim the fortress as his own. Unfortunately the Soul Eater ripped up his leg and he can't walk.

And that's just a taste of the hooks in the campaign, almost ALL of them exist due to player direction of the campaign. It's not a case where some of the hooks aren't important so the players don't care. It's a case of them ALL being important and at least one player is quite interested in every hook about (and some I've forgotten to list). 

This is what Real DND is truly about. Follow the #brosr on the tw1tter and you can have the same!

Surviving PCs Present

Daria (0% XP bonus) Level 4 BladeDancer: 1,392 XP gained. Total: 9,194

Captain Donny Keebler (5% bonus) Level 1 Elven Spellsword: 1,462 xp gained. Total: 1,462

Gaius (10% XP bonus) Level 3 Fighter. 1,531 XP gained. Total: 6,248

Laru Scribewll (5% bonus) Level 1 Thief: 1,199 XP gained. Total: 1,199

Mandonio (10% bonus) Level 2 Fighter: 1,531 XP gained. Total: 4,512 [LEVEL UP TO 3]

Surviving Hench Present

Gwen (Level 0 henchlady to Daria): 517 XP gained. Total: 517

Bard the Bowman (Mercenary Bowman to Daria): 409 XP gained. Becomes a Veteran Bowman

Arty the Artillerist (Mercenary Artillerist to Daria): 409 xp gained. Becomes a Veteran Artillerist

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 "how bizarre" by OMC


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