Friday, June 18, 2021

ACKS Session 22: Mandonio's Noble Death

 Session played on 06/16/21 with PCs adventuring until 06/21/21. Resting for one day as per ACKS rules the PCs are able to play in sessions and make downtime requests on 06/23/21 and after.

Foreword

One of my players tw33ted, after this session, that the session "validat[ed] dub's insistence on random player [companion] templates". Thank you! It's great being right all the time.


He is speaking of the ACKS Player's Companion. A very useful splatbook for Adventurer Conqueror King System which has, among other things, something called Class Templates. 

You use the template charts by rolling 3d6 and you gain the Proficiencies and equipment listed for the row in question. For Arcane Casters, like the Mage, this also determines your Level 1 Spell(s). 

It also speeds up the character generation process for ACKS. The only sensible objection the OSR ever had to ACKS was that Proficiencies cause a slowdown in character generation and lead to Players attempting to min-max, power-game, munchkin etc. There's many terms for it and the OSR is correct that min-maxing (AT LEVEL ONE) is not how old school D&D is supposed to work. Templates eliminate this. ACKS players are once again forced to deal with the results they roll for their Level One PC and then min-max or give him life in the campaign itself; not with backstory or "builds". Great!

Here's an example of the Mage Templates:


I also love templates because they deliver on the promise 5e made for professions and backgrounds but are much cooler and more interesting. I personally NEVER have a PC concept in mind before I start rolling my ability scores, when I play D&D as a PC. I enjoy letting the dice decide for me or inform my PC with Oracular Power. So if I rolled a Mage I'd be thinking "he's like Merlin I guess..." but then if I roll the "Soothsayer" Template, well that's a whole different sort of lad innit? No longer am I thinking of a kindly wise old man helping out Arthur to gain his kingdom, I'm imagining some sort of weirdo that speaks to spiritual principalities and powers about his next course of action. Sounds like a strange cat to me. Sounds like a GREAT PC CONCEPT.

Could I have invented that PC concept myself? Sure. Would I? Probably not. I'd probably just grab the Sleep spell and tell the other players "a Merlin kind of guy shows up to adventure with you". Once they all woke up from their boredom of my description we'd set about on our adventure.

One player once criticized Templates from a moral standpoint insomuch as many of the templates in ACKS (and its assumed setting the Auran Empire) imply some really freaky stuff. Notice ye old Eunuch Sorcerer on the above template. That's a yikes from me pal! And what about the Courtesan Assassin type in the Assassin's template? Toxic masculinity much? 

The Necromancer template above also basically forces the player to play a bad guy. Sad!

As a Catholic Gentlemen (the best IRL template) I understand my Player's moral objection to SOME of the templates. My answer was and is that most of the templates (the Necromancer one of the few exceptions) can be twisted with rationalization to eliminate the morally objectionable aspect of the template. The man-whore assassin doesn't HAVE to be an actual whore. Maybe his Seduction Proficiency just implies he's a ladies man but only uses his comeliness for good. And with my house rule of being able to roll 5 PCs if you discard PC1 to try PC2, the chances of you rolling a morally objectionable template to your personal ethic is extremely low.

As far as the nuskool type of complaint that "I WANT MY CHOICE OF SPELLS AND PROFICIENCES AND GEAR"... i don't care. It's my campaign. Go play in one of the thousands of others where you can munchkin out your level 1 PC before play even begins. Hell, write a 10 page backstory. Just do it away from me. 

So, how does this relate to the initial comment about how this session "justified" my insistence on templates? There's a reason I highlighted the Soothsayer above. A brand new Soothsayer Mage came into the session and made a big difference in a very unexpected way. Read on! 

Session Report

The players surprised me (as per usual) by  having a session goal of returning to the level 1 introductory dungeon they have ignore for like 10 sessions now. What gives? No idea.

They departed Turos Spen traveling clockwise on the Auran Borderlands road circuit. Their goal was to get close to Turos Tem then turn north into the forest towards the "Blister of Doom" (also known to normal ACKS players as the Buried Temple). The few days of travel passed without incident, most random encounters thinking better of attacking the PCs and their many mercenaries and henchmen. 

The party did, however, get a random encounter with two giant rattle snakes who were mostly neutral about them. Incredibly enough Daria (PC Bladedancer Level 4) approached the snakes and successfully cast Charm Animal on one. I was shocked there were no crass jokes about her being a snake charmer. Gundro (PC Gnomish Tricker Level 1) got the other snake to tag along with the party by regular diplomacy and being able to Speak with Animals as a class power. The next day Daria Charmed the other snake. 

Two 4 HD creatures in the Party's wilderness travel crew? What a boon! 

Eventually the PC's had completed their travel and were at the Blister of Doom. There was some discussion about whether the snakes would go into the dungeon. By ACKS rules only "henchmen" go into dungeons and only PCs with Animal Friendship can make animals into henchmen. Daria doesn't have that. We re-read the Charm rules and saw the victim of charm would "not do something they'd normally not do" so I ruled this included going into a dungeon without being a henchman.

With this ruling made... we delved!

The party stayed along the western path side of the old Zaharan Temple dungeon, stopping in a hidden room to allow Proteus (PC Mage Level 1) do his Soothsaying thing. This Proficiency allows the Level 1 Mage the ability to cast the Level 5 spell (!!!) Contact Other Plane once per week. Great stuff.

It's a very wild spell that allows the Mage to take a big risk of going insane for weeks on end based on how many questions he wishes to ask some Outer Planar entity. Check this:


Proteus opted to ask 9 questions which means he had a 35% chance to GO INSANE for NINE WEEKS. With Jeffrogaxian Timekeeping this is a real risk, I'd say. The PC would become unusable by the player for over two months of real time. Awesome.

But it also means the entity would be more powerful and more likely to tell the truth. Also awesome.

let's dance
I decided to roll the chance for insanity in roll20 so everyone could see what happened. I rolled a 39! Proteus was on the brink of insanity as he peered through the astral plane and past black lodge curtains to communicate with a spiritual patron...Phillip Jeffries!

This is after he transformed into a teapot transformer... thing. He communicated yes and no answers to Proteus's various questions by spewing steam that formed into "YES" or "NO" or "UNSURE".

The players debated for a while about what questions they should asked so I went to grab a beer and give them some time to argue. Then I handed it over to Proteus's player. Got back and we roleplayed the scene out (storygaming!). I don't recall everything they asked but they surprised me once again with a bunch of questions about the age of the dragon they believed to be in the next room. Was the dragon asleep? Was it in its lair or off somewhere else? etc etc. This information (assuming any of it was true) was used by the players to gauge their risk/reward for engaging with the dragon.

It took about two turns for Proteus to do all this so I ran a random encounter check. Nothing (damn). 

After all this they opened a secret door they suspected would be a shortcut to the dragon. They were right and caught 6 dumb kobolds off guard and slaughtered them. Leaving that room the came to a large open chamber they had mapped out before. Twas a massive one with a giant obelisk pyramid thing in the center. They knew from a past session the dragon's lair was in there. So they climbed the pyramid to check at the chthonic altar and stone temple at the top.

The altar was clearly used hundreds of years back for human sacrifice. Daria sent her henchmen Kareem (NPC Henchmen Explorer Level 1) to check out the temple behind the altar. He reported it had snake bas reliefs everywhere and some spiral stairs going down. 

They began their foolproof plan of having Marn (PC Mage Level 2) cast Summon Beserkers and send the four angry neopagans down the stairs to see and attack the dragon if it was down there. Off they ran hollering "witness me!" They never came back. Dragon breath seeped up the stairs as the beast apparently breathed a weird disease ridden steam at them and killed them instantly. No PCs were downstairs to see what exactly happened.

So Marn cast the spell again and sent a second wave of beserkers. The PCs followed this one behind. Upon descending to the bottom of the stairs they found a freaky purple and black dragon in a large treasure room inside the pyramid. It apparently had the Mirror Image spell on and had destroyed all but one of the total of eight beserkers. 

this is fine

The PCs charged with Mandonio (PC Fighter Level 3) leading the way. The fight became a scrum with PCs doing their best to eliminate the Mirror Images so they could attack the dragon proper and get some damage on it. The beast breathed fire twice more hitting multiple PCs in the process. Most made their saving throw vs blast but the thing was putting out heavy damage. Mandonio got hit twice with dragon breath and his face burst out in leprosy from the diseased steam and he fell to the ground certainly dead. Proteus and Kareem fell in the same manner before Gaius got a killing blow on the monster with his magical sword, spelling the dragon's vile tarlike blood into the room and across the gleaming treasure.

During the battle Marn ran into the chamber and used his herbal healing ability to stabilize Proteus. His valorous bravery changed his spiritual alignment from Chaotic to Neutral. 

After the battle, then, Daria was able to get Proteus back to his feet but he would need to be healed within a day and need a week of bed rest. It seemed, also, that his left hand was nearly melted off by the leprous steam. No longer useable for much save scratching his chin in thought. 

Kareem and Mandonio were sadly unable to be healed up. Mando's entire face and body was melted into a black charred husk. Daria took his shield and his hand to be presented for a ritual burial pyre back in Turos Tem by the Empyrean Temple. 

She then cast Bless on the altar at the top of the pyramid and the party smashed the vile thing, cleansing the sinkhole of evil surrounding it and gaining all Lawful PCs 100 XP.

The party escaped with the dragon's substantial treasure and, as they held their breath with anxiety, I rolled a handful of random encounter checks which came up "NO". Damn. They got home to Turos Tem and cashed out.

Mandonio will be missed but with such an excellent player and the power of Class Templates, I'm sure he'll have a new beloved PC in the campaign very soon.

Surviving PCs Present

Daria (0% XP bonus) Level 4 BladeDancer: 1,584 XP gained. Total: 11,302

Gaius (10% XP bonus) Level 3 Fighter. 1,736 XP gained. Total: 8,561 [LEVELED TO 4]

Gundro Aleslosh (0% XP bonus) Level 1 Gnomish Trickster. 1,584 XP Gained. Total: 1,620

Marn (10% bonus) Level 2 Mage: 1,743 XP Gained. Total: 5,005 [LEVELED TO 3]

Surviving Hechmen Present

Gwen (Daria)

Paulus (Mando... so he's reconsidering his employment)

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.

Bucky (L1 Barbarian). DECEASED. Became a illegal pit fighter during his downtime. Had two bouts to the death, winning the first and losing the second. Was killed by Young Jack Sparrow who sashayed into the ring, drank rum, and mogged on Bucky before putting a dagger into his ribs, killing him. This happened during downtime between Session 17 and 18.

Broll Wolf-Eater (L1 Barbarian). Current total XP: 1079. DECEASED. Carried off by harpies after falling for their enchanting song in Session 19.

Brother Franklin (L1 Cleric). DECEASED. Decapitated by a mad cultist of a Lovecraftian slime thing in Session 19.

Felix the Elder (L1 Bard). Total XP 825. DECEASED. Captured by mad cultists and fed to a Lovecraftian slime monster in Session 19.

Templar Flavius Africanus (L1 Cleric). Total XP 7. Killed by the claws and beak of mad harpies in Session 19.

Xendi (L1 Explorer). Total XP 6. DECEASED. Carried off by harpies after falling for their enchanting song in Session 19.

Yllmeeton (L3 Shaman). Total XP 4,563. Bludgeoned by the corpse of a bowmen by Rosie Odonnel hag in Session 21.

Longinus (L2 Assassin). Total XP 2,036. Had his face ripped off by Rosie Odonnel hag in Session 21.

Mandonio (L3 Fighter). Total XP 4,779. Charred to a leprous crisp by diseased Dragon breath in Session 22.

Alexa this is so sad play "party rock anthem" by LMFAO

Friday, June 11, 2021

ACKS Session 21: The Hags Live Laugh Love once again

This session was played on 06/09/21 with PCs playing through 06/23/21. With a day of rest in Turos Spen the PCs can begin making downtime requests and playing in sessions on and after 06/25/21.

Foreward

This session was a microcosm of everything I've seen in the campaign with regards to player triumph and catastrophe. The PCs successful returned to the Unicorn Pool with a different group of PCs to heal some Mortal Wounds. No problems at all up to this point. About an hour left in the evening to play so they decide to recon Ferigno the Green Dragon's Lair for next time. Suddenly... HAGS!

the horror!

Session Report

The Players' goal this session appeared to be:

-go back to the Unicorn Pool and let BriarWhisper (PC Elven Ranger Level 2) and The Dude (NPC Cleric Level 5) drink from it to heal their Mortal Wounds. BriarWhisper was blinded by a SoulEater and the Dude was struck dumb by same a few weeks back.

-Recon the Lair of Ferigno the Green Dragon

The players gathered a pretty large entourage of henchmen and mercs prior to this session. Nothing like last week, however, since their base town of Siadanos is a smaller market than Cyfaraun. They departed the town going east on the Auran Roads circuit on 06/09/21. Two days into their wet rainy trek some freaky magic dogs teleported, ripped one of their mules to shreds, and teleported away. The PCs chose not to take chase or try and find the hounds. 

A day later, a few hours outside of Turos Tem, they noticed an oak tree with some peasant offerings at the base. Upon investigating they decided it was likely a nesting place for some hawks; a Lair in ACKS terms. Ashikata's (PC Elven Spellsword Level 1) eagle familiar confirmed this to be the case. The party chose not to engage and arrived in Turos Tem at nightfall. 

The next day the party continued counterclockwise around the Auran Road circuit until they eventually turned north into the Viaspen Forest. They trudged a few hours through the forest and were nearly surprised by a scouting party from a lair of jackalmen.  Congar (PC Barbarian Level 1 "Skysos" template) was the only PC that surprised the scouting party which included a shaman picking herbs and a gang of nine or so jackalmen warriors protecting him. Congar let loose an arrow at the shaman and missed. Upon all sides gaining their wits, the party decided to Evade the encounter and was successful. They did scope there to be a jackalmen lair at that location; it's wooden palisade topped with the skulls of enemies. The party marked this on their map and continued north. 


After a few days in the woods they came upon the Unicorn Pool. The Unicorn was skittish but, upon The Dude hanging over his Crystal Bong as an offering, it allowed all Lawful PCs to approach and drink if they wished. The Unicorn stepped on and destroyed the Crystal Bong upon which The Dude admitted "yeah man I probably spend too much time with it if you know what I mean man".

BriarWhisper drank from the pool first and was freed of his blindness. The Dude drank and was no longer struck dumb from his past nightmares of the Soul Eater. Triumph! Surely this DM could not challenge such #elite #dnd play? These players have surely flubbed the Dubs.

But wait!

The Players took a vote on what to do with their last hour or hour and a half of game time. The options were:

1. Go back to the jackalmen, kill them, take their stuff

2. Find the exact location of Ferigno's Lair and recon any info they could about it so that they'd be ready to come back with force with Team A.

Number 2 is what got voted on and the party set off west in the forest where the unicorn assured them Ferigno laired.

ACKS has rules for calculating the number of lairs in a 6 mile hex. It also has rules for finding said lairs. This is so the "Conqueror" stage of the campaign can be engaged in wherein PCs clear all the lairs from a piece of land to build their own keep etc on. These are the rules I used for the PC's finding Ferigno's lair the first time. 

Assuming they were in the correct hex, the party begin to search and zig zag for the place. Xanthus (PC Cleric Level 1) used his Prophesize ability to commune with his deity and ask a few questions about where the lair was and what it looked like. The deity described it as massive trees laid as a teepee with an old ruined tower in the middle. He assured the cleric they'd find it today "unless you are truly fools".

The Find Lairs rules are a d20 roll done each hour to hit a particular number. They received a bonus to the roll for having air recon from Ashitaka's eagle familiar and Yllmeeton's (PC Shaman Level 3) owl familiar. I gave another bonus for BriarWhisper's ability to talk to animals.

Each check, unfortunately, also instigates a random encounter roll. 

After about three hours of search the party had yet to find any lairs, most especially Ferigno's. But they did find some very comely trollops who were dancing about the forest about fifty yards away.

"Hello again," they whispered somehow loud enough to be heard "we are happy to see you and would love to offer you a deal..."

Before they could finish elaborating on their offer Yllmeeton released the houds; his 5 hunting dogs, at them. At this point the new player (Xanthus) was very confused by the Players violent reaction to some wemmenz. The legacy players talked over eachother and themselves to elaborate on the session sometime back where Hag's set upon their camp at night and nearly killed them all. This sort of passionate hatred for a villain only comes when you're playing real dnd, folks.

The fight was on!

Early in the first round the Hags all dropped their disguise of beauty and appeared or horrible hags: Rosie Odonnel, Oprah, and Carmella Harris! The horror!

run!!!

Rosie shook her fat rolls at the front ranks, causing many of them to become afraid and run. This included Odrum (PC Explorer Level 1). He took off and the player was joking about how he has both the Run and Endurance proficiencies so he'd outrun anyone trying to help him and never tired enough to take a break. Longinus (PC Assassin Level 2) also tried to flee by Yllmeeton tackled him and was intending to cast Remove Fear the following round.T This was never accomplished, read on. The Dude had cast Bless on the party which gave them a +1 to save vs fear but most of those targeted by magical fear were still failing the save. One player commented "we need a more powerful bless!"

In the second round the dogs who were going to bite at Rosie were Feared off of her by Oprah. BriarWhisper, who had ducked into the bushes the round before, got off a beautiful Snipe attack on Rosie, rupturing one of her warts as it seeped with pus. But she continued to fight on. In fact... this is where things got bad.

Rosie flew (as per Fly spell) through the trees towards the PCs and started ripping the mercenaries apart. Two bowmen were killed by her brutal claws as she cleaved through their low HP totals with ease. She then ripped Longinus's face off and dangled it in front of her face looking at BriarWhisper saying "you're next, elf!". Longinus perished.

Next she picked up the corpse of one of the bowmen and used it as a club to hit Yllmeeton perfectly skull to skull. He died lying in the foliage of the Viaspen Forest.  His henchmen Marina (Fighter hench Level 1) and Vincent (Level 0 hench) failed morale and backed away from the battle carefully.

From the trees some thirty yards away Carmella was making a magical speech about lgbbq rights and how The Dude and Congar should join her in being the change they want to see in the world. Both were charmed by her impressive magical political psyops and started walking towards her obediently. Totally MK. So sad.

At this point the surviving party members said it was time to "book it like lavar burton" and I laughed heartily. 

They made an Evade check since none of them were engaged in melee any longer (Rosie killed all who were) and escaped into the forest and back home. I made the random encounter checks for the trek to Turos Spen but the dice had now become merciful. They were back home safely.

Afterword

Hags just want to live, laugh, love. Yet the party keeps attacking them with dogs! What means?

The voice chat in the aftermath of this session was quite somber. The most interesting thing was that Yllmeeton's player asked if Marina could become a PC. I decided we'd use the Morale rules to decide. An average score meaning she continued as a PC but rejected Yllmeeton's diety, The Seeker, as being weak and getting the shaman killed. A really bad roll meaning she retired from adventuring to be a tradwife. A great score meaning she took up the mantle of The Seeker and continued the work of the cult!

Average roll. So this player now has Marina the Fighter as part of his stable of PCs. We all agreed she had a very cool backstory. Better than anything a nuskool gamer might write up for his in a dumb session zero.

I'm sure the new player we had on hand was quite confused by all of our foolishness. He did well to lurk a bit and learn the nature of this strange brosr style dnd campaign. This is what you do when you're new to such campaigns, kids. You don't demand everyone bow to your gaming needs. You treat it like going to a dinner party where everyone there are old friends and you're meeting them for the first time. Chill and listen. Jump in with jokes. Look forward to being the life of the NEXT party. This is a social #winningsecrets from me to you. 

As far as the Hags and the PCs? They want revenge so badly. Yllmeeton died holding a STAFF OF HEALING; a very valuable magic item that is now lost to the players. Very sad. Real dnd is harsh but exciting.

Surviving PCs Present

Ashitaka (L1 Elven Spellsword) 0 XP gained. Total: 0

BriarWhisper (L3 Elven Ranger) 0 XP gained. Total:5,465

Odrum (L1 Explorer) 0 XP gained. Total: 0

Xanthus (L1 Cleric) 0 XP gained. Total: 0

Surviving Henchmen Present

Marina (L1 Fighter) 0 XP gained. Total: 1,620 [UPGRADED TO PC]

Vincent (L0) 0 XP gained. Total: unknown

PCs (NPCs) who may be captured

Congar (L1 Barbarian)

The Dude (L5 NPC Cleric)

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.

Bucky (L1 Barbarian). DECEASED. Became a illegal pit fighter during his downtime. Had two bouts to the death, winning the first and losing the second. Was killed by Young Jack Sparrow who sashayed into the ring, drank rum, and mogged on Bucky before putting a dagger into his ribs, killing him. This happened during downtime between Session 17 and 18.

Broll Wolf-Eater (L1 Barbarian). Current total XP: 1079. DECEASED. Carried off by harpies after falling for their enchanting song in Session 19.

Brother Franklin (L1 Cleric). DECEASED. Decapitated by a mad cultist of a Lovecraftian slime thing in Session 19.

Felix the Elder (L1 Bard). Total XP 825. DECEASED. Captured by mad cultists and fed to a Lovecraftian slime monster in Session 19.

Templar Flavius Africanus (L1 Cleric). Total XP 7. Killed by the claws and beak of mad harpies in Session 19.

Xendi (L1 Explorer). Total XP 6. DECEASED. Carried off by harpies after falling for their enchanting song in Session 19.

Yllmeeton (L3 Shaman). Total XP 4,563. Bludgeoned by the corpse of a bowmen by Rosie Odonnel hag in Session 21.

Longinus (L2 Assassin). Total XP 2,036. Had his face ripped off by Rosie Odonnel hag in Session 21.

Alexa this is so sad play "lost highway" by hank


Monday, June 7, 2021

ACKS Session 20: The Unicorn Pool

Session played on 06/02/21 with the session taking the PCs through 06/13/21. One day of rest on 06/14/21 means downtime requests can be made and sessions can be played after 06/15/21.

Foreword

Do I have a storygame on my hands? 

critical fail amirite lololol

Session Report

After the TPK last session Team A was back! They spent the lead up to session 20 hiring a bunch of mercenaries, specialists, and henchmen. Daria (PC Bladedancer Level 4) purchased a couple Light Repeating Ballistae. Laru (PC Thief Level 2) took advantage of his class's super fast leveling to level 2 to be able to hire two level 1 "bodyguards" quite quickly into his adventuring career.  Power play.

Marn (PC Mage Level 2) spent his downtime making amends for his degenerate necromancer ways. After his demonic patron, The Man from Another Place, double crossed him and trapped him in a filth ridden crypt beneath the city of Cyfaraun, Marn began to re-evaluate his choice of arcane specialty. 

Mando (PC Fighter Level 3) and Gaius (PC Fighter Level 3) hired some mercs and henchmen. Most notably Gaius, a former Legionnaire of Turos Tem, learned combat Riding at level 3 and hired four Light Cavalrymen to lead into glorious battle. 

I really had no idea what the players were up to. They had just settled into Cyfaraun, the largest city on my regional map. I assumed they'd spend some time in the city getting into hijinks and enjoying the well stocked equipment market. Or that they'd at least check out the Blood Moon Pit Fight that Temur (PC Barbarian Level 1) was planning on risking his life to engage in. Or hang out for the Blood Moon Main Event Death Match between Jeffro Johnson and RPGPundit. 

WRONG!

Marn's patron when he's about to
h*ck him over

They hit the road out of town towards Turos Orn en route to Turos Spen. It only took them about a day to travel the Auran Road towards Turos Orn but they were hit by a surprise attack by Brigands. The brigands saw them the night before and moved down the road so they could launch a massive bow attack on the PCs' traveling train of mercs, mules, and cav with the rising sun at the brigands' backs. 

The initial volley went pretty good and killed 1 (one) mule, 1 (one) Henchman (Mando's Explorer), and a handful (handful) of Light Infantry (Daria's poor lads). Daria heroically ran to the aid of the Explorer Henchmen that hit the dirt, other PCs surrounded the fallen comrade and indicated their Henchmen to do the same. So at the end of the battle Daria was able to revive the Explorer.

This is the sort of thing I didn't see much when I ran 3e and other WOTC editions of the game. I think because players were convinced that they'd not be able to live up to the Challenge Rating if they "wasted" their PCs' actions on doing realistic things like trying to form a circle around a fallen comrade. YMMV and maybe you've seen otherwise.

As far as the battle itself I took a bit longer to adjudicate than I normally would. I think I was a bit rusty from the week off and I spent a few minutes contemplating the fairest way to judge the Brigands getting surprise and to randomly disburse 27 surprise bowmen attacks. After the initial volley Daria sent her Light Infantry up the hill at behind Gaius and high Light Cavalry charge. Gaius and his Cav killed a ton of the poor arches on their initial pass. Twas brutal.

Upon cresting the hill Gaius saw that the brigands had their own Light Cavalry and a brigand captain and his entourage all with Heavy Warhorse and Plate Mail. Uh oh.

For his party Marn cast Summon Beserkers and sent them up the hill behind the party's Light Infantry. 

A new player was brought in as some sort of ringer (read on): Gundro Aleslosh (PC Gnomish Trickster Level 1). He used one of his (unbalanced) illusion class abilities to create the illusion of a hill giant stalking the land across the hillside and towards the brigand bowmen.

turos orn
Whether it was this illusion or because Gaius and his Cav were turning the brigand bowmen into a thin red paste, the brigand captain decided to flee the field of battle to live and fight another day. The PCs didn't take chase but instead grabbed up what meager loot the bowmen had, burned their own dead, and moved on to Turos Orn.


The game and world time in Turos Orn was very fast. The only interest the PCs had was in acquiring a map outlining the borders of the Viaspen Forest. Oh your game doesn't have this? Guess what, no one's does! So I'll tell you how it works. I'm a giving sort.

The player for Mandonio has been pestering asking me for months now if he could use his Mapping proficiency to purchase maps and decipher them to reveal portions of the wilderness from the comfort and safety of Downtime Requests. Well I ran this by the ACKS d1scord chat and the designer Macris himself. The answer? "IDK LMAO GL!" Here at the BROSR we invent house rules when the game designers haven't answered the questions; not because we're special flowers who understand game theory better than the actual writers.

So here are my house rules:

Land Map Purchase: Maps one might purchase will be designated in categories based on DM rules about what a player is looking for. Said map's category will shift to a rarer category for every 6 or more hexes away it is from the Market it's attempting to be purchased. A PC with Mapping and/or Navigation can buy a mpa of one lower cateogyr and attempt to make a throw of 11+ to deduce the info wanted with the cheaper map. 7+ if the PC has both Mapping AND Navigation. If the PC fails this throw he may attempt it again upon achieving a higher level. Such deduction of the map takes 5 Major Actions (5 days of downtime) per category of the info (not the lower level map). After which the throw is made. A second PC can help the Mapper deduce the map with Mapping and/or Navigation. They spend half the time and make the same Throw targets; adding +1 to the Mapper's eventual target. (Minimum 5+)

Common: 50 gp. "how big is the Viaspen? What is the road like from Siadanos to Cyfaraun?"

Uncommon: 300 "Where are the exact borders of the Viaspen Forest?"

Rare: 1,500 "where is the elven Fastness Aurans used to trade with decades ago in the Viaspen?"

Very Rare: 5,000 

Legendary: 10,500

I designated "the borders of the Viaspen Forest" as an uncommon map. Unfortunately for the PCs Cyfaraun was so far from the Viaspen Forest that it was upgraded to a Rare map. The players didn't want to pay 1,500 GP so they looked for the map in Turos Orn upon passing through, instead. With the Keep being much closer to the Viaspen they were able to find and purchase a copy of the map for 300 GP. So I went about removing some of the Fog of War from the hex map we've been playing on. 

A day later the PCs left Turos Orn and went down the road to Turos Spen. It was from there they intended to use as a launching point into the Viaspen Forest to look for the Unicorn Pool they heard about from The Dude back in Session 16 "The Dice Abide".  Story on top of story! I have a storygame on my hands...

The trek into the Viaspen Forest took a few days and passed without any Random Encounter rolls (damnit) and they took a guess around the spot the Unicorn Pool should be. They then went about searching for the pool. I used to rules in the ACKS Lairs & Encounters book which are designed for finding all the monster Lairs on a particular hex. I gave a bonus to the roll since Gundro had the ability to talk to animals. Who is this new guy?!


It took them about four hours of searching around the viney wood and no Random Encounters (damnit) but they found the Unicorn Pool. It was an old elven ruin that was kept in beautiful repair. Vines climbed the columns surrounding the crystal pool of divine water. The Unicorn carefully watched them from the other side of the pool as some of the Lawful aligned PCs approached. The Unicorn's reaction was Friendly so he was merely skittish not hostile at all. Gundro used his ability to talk with the Unicorn and informed the creature of the PCs goal; which was to drink from the pool and be healed of a Mortal Wound. The Unicorn was happy to allow Daria to drink from it, upon which her messed up babymaker was healed but she was given a Geas to eradicate all Chaotic monsters from the Borderlands!

Marn was next to approach. If you recall he had been in the process of shifting his alignment from Chaotic to Lawful. He and some of the players believed he could perhaps jumpstart the process if he drank from the pool. AD&D First Edition has rules for PCs changing alignments but ACKS does not (1e wins again) so I decided to let the Unicorn's reaction check to Marn himself decide if this player concept would work. It's feasible to me that a Unicorn can read the true nature of a man and know if he is truly contrite. Rolled a 5. "Nah fam", neighed the Unicorn. "Cmon bruh for real", declared Marn the Mage. Rerolled for a 7. "sheeeeiiii sorry chief", signed the Unicorn. "maybe if you do something for me?" "what's that my nbba," Marn said expectedly. 

"KILL FERIGNO THE DRAGON", the Unicorn declared. Some of the players said it with me like a rote prayer. They saw it coming. Such is the case with a story game! Read that dialogue. Brilliant stuff. I was on my Improv game. I actually don't remember how it was said but that's the gist of it.

The Unicorn gave them an estimated direction and distance to Ferigno's Lair which Mandonio noted on his map ecstatically. Then they rolled back to Turos Spen and finished the session. There was a Random Encounter Lair rolled on their way back but they chose to ignore the cave in question (damnit).

Afterword

I'm joking around about my campaign becoming a storygame. It's an exaggeration on the fact the players were focused on a goal that wasn't so much about XP as it was about PC goals and "stories". One player, at the conclusion of the session, mentioned that our Campaign is a "better storygame than an actual storygame". This collection of random encounters, random reaction rolls, randomized PCs and NPCs have created a better fantasy tale than anything produced after 1980. Sad!

It takes time to have this sort of investment in your campaign and its underlying story/fiction. Two or three sessions won't cut it. It also helps to use Jeffrogaxian Timekeeping since it gives the DM and Players a way to harness Downtime actions to gather info and invent (or find) hooks.

Knowing my campaign and the way it swings from one extreme to another the next session won't have any story to speak of. I can't wait to find out!

Surviving PCs Present

Daria (0% XP bonus) Level 4 BladeDancer: 36 XP gained. Total: 9,618

Gaius (10% XP bonus) Level 3 Fighter. 40 XP gained. Total: 6,715

Gundro Aleslosh (0% XP bonus) Level 1 Gnomish Trickster. 36 XP Gained. Total: 36

Laru Scribewll (5% bonus) Level 2 Thief: 38 XP gained. Total: 1,664

Mandonio (10% bonus) Level 3 Fighter: 40 XP gained. Total: 4,779

Marn (10% bonus) Level 2 Mage: 40 XP Gained. Total: 3,262

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.

Bucky (L1 Barbarian). DECEASED. Became a illegal pit fighter during his downtime. Had two bouts to the death, winning the first and losing the second. Was killed by Young Jack Sparrow who sashayed into the ring, drank rum, and mogged on Bucky before putting a dagger into his ribs, killing him. This happened during downtime between Session 17 and 18.

Broll Wolf-Eater (L1 Barbarian). Current total XP: 1079. DECEASED. Carried off by harpies after falling for their enchanting song in Session 19.

Brother Franklin (L1 Cleric). DECEASED. Decapitated by a mad cultist of a Lovecraftian slime thing in Session 19.

Felix the Elder (L1 Bard). Total XP 825. DECEASED. Captured by mad cultists and fed to a Lovecraftian slime monster in Session 19.

Templar Flavius Africanus (L1 Cleric). Total XP 7. Killed by the claws and beak of mad harpies in Session 19.

Xendi (L1 Explorer). Total XP 6. DECEASED. Carried off by harpies after falling for their enchanting song in Session 19.

Alexa this is so sad play "everlong" by foo fighters

Dubzaron Session 64: Return to the New Badlands (and Operation Muscle Thunder)

Session Played on 07/06/22 and ending on 07/16/22. Actions available again on 07/18/22. Session Report The party was able to secure many tro...