Friday, July 2, 2021

ACKS Session 23: Giant Flies Attack! [Patrons and Timekeeping]

 This session was played on 06/25/21 and adventured until 06/30/21. One day of rest, as per ACKS rules, means players can play sessions and make downtime requests on and after 07/01/21.

Foreword

The players have been slowly trying to unite all their various PCs in one location. Jeffrogaxian Timekeeping has caused most players to have two or more PCs in various frontier forts in the campaign region. I didn't understand what they had in the mind the last two or three sessions when they kept traveling and traveling. But this session, it became clear.

They wanted to get all their PCs in one Fort so they'd have a bigger range of choice on party composition in future sessions. If one player has a mage and a fighter, for instance, he can only bring one or the other to the adventure that session. If both are in one location, he can bring either, based on party need.


These are the kinds of interesting logistical challenges 1=1 timekeeping brings to a campaign. I'm finding that these sorts of challenges might not be "fun" for all players. I've heard complaints on the tw33ter that it's "like doing taxes". That's fine, don't play my game. I prefer players with  #EliteAuditorMindset

Kidding. Kinda.

If tackling such logistical challenges isn't to the players' liking or interest, they're free to approach the game in a different way. There are plenty of in-game quests, options, patrons, etc for them to interact with that won't push as deeply against the 1=1 timekeeping challenges.

Session Report

The party started in Turos Tem with Crassus (New PC Venturer L1), Daria (PC BladeDancer L4), Gaius (PC Fighter L4), Gundro (PC Gnomish Trickster L1), Marn (PC Mage L3), and Polydoros (New PC Fighter L1). They checked in on a hanging story point from last session: the death of Mandonio (PC Fighter L3). Daria checked into getting the pieces of his body put on a proper funeral pyre down at the Hospital. This was accomplished and Priestess Genelen (NPC) oversaw the services. She assured the adventurers that she would petition to have th deceased Legionnaire named a "Petty Hero"; making him officially recognized for ancestor petitions.

So the party left town with a wagon full of their past treasure and about a dozen various mercs.

They traveled counter-clockwise around the Auran Borderlands circuit of roads coming to Turos Aster after a day of travel. Crassus sold quite a bit of the party's looted goods from last session and gold was passed around as per agreed upon cuts. Daria attempted to get her evil sword (absconded from the Leper Dragon's Lair last session) identified at the Chapterhouse by some Mages. They hemmed and hawed, looked it over, took Daria's money and declared they had no idea what magic it held. "It says 'Kinslayer' on the side her in Ancient Zaharan, ma'am". She already knew that. Thanks alot, fellas. They left Turos Aster the next morning.

During travel they noticed some giant ants a couple hundred yards off the road and decided not to engage. The ants ignored them. They arrived in Turos Spen after about two more days of travel.


Crassus successfully sold some high dollar treasure here and cash was passed around again. 

At this point the players were in a town where quite a few of their backup PCs were "parked" in previous sessions. Polydoros's player decided he'd rather play Xanthus (PC Cleric L1) from a few session back. So in Turos Spen he "switched out" mid session. The player for BriarWhisper (PC Elven Ranger L3) also showed up to play at this point. He also plays Mandonio so he'd have had to make a new backup PC to travel from Turos Tem to Turos Spen at the start of the session. Him being late due to irl concerns actually made placing him into the session easier that it would have been otherwise.

So, with BriarWhisper among the crew and Xanthus taking Polydoros's place, the players started discussing their options. It became super gameist. I love gameist.

Basically they had about an hour and half of session time left and they wanted to make SOME kind of score. Crassus's player in particular was explaining how he'd made hardly any XP in the last few low or no score sessions. Daria's player, who is usually the Caller, was pointing out they don't want to adventure too deep into the game world's future and not be able to play these PCs next time. They were already four or five days into the gameworld future by now so they only had one or two to play with if they wanted these PCs next session.

See the sorts of gaming concerns that come into play with 1=1 time? I find it all very interesting.

The party decides they will travel a few hours north from Turos Spen to a nearby woodland and just look for trouble (Lairs) to beat up and loot. Sounds good!

I went to the ACKS Lairs and Encounters book. It has rules for deciding how many lairs on in a hex and what chance to roll for PCs to find them. Each check is a d20 roll to hit a number (11 or higher, for instance) that takes the PCs an hour of game world time. Each time they check, however, I also roll a random encounter check for that terrain. 

As one player said "this can be profitable and you find an easy lair but you can also find a wandering monster with no lair like HAGS and everybody dies". He was referencing this session wherein the hags in the Viaspen Forest just wanted to #livelaughlove . So sad.

After one hour they were successful! They found a lair for Giant Carnivorous Flies! It was built into the concaved chest of a massive giant's corpse laying among the trees. Gross. The party started throwing military oil fire at the big hole and about a dozen giant flies got angry.

My notes on the battle itself are chicken scratchy so I'm just going to give you the hits. Gaius charged his horse right up to the hole and killed like 3 of the flies. Crassus, proving his mettle, followed right behind Gaius and actually got a kill with his little goofy merchant's short sword. Amazing.

The flies went everywhere and hit many different ranks of their crew. As a DM this is something to keep in mind with crazy unintelligent flying monsters like this. I totally randomized who they attacked, giving priority on the PCs and/or mercs closest to the lair itself. Some of the weaker less armored PCs took a few attacks and I'm sure the players got nervous they'd lose a PC. But all the PCs held strong. Their allies soon converged and helped them take down the one or two flies that got in their face.

Sadly Gaius lost two of his remaining 3 light cavalrymen. Daria lost a handful of her light infantrymen. Her snakes, which she charmed last session, got forgotten during the session even though they were following the PC's caravan. Sad. They likely would have enjoyed eating some giant flies.

When the flies were dead the party spelunked the hole in the ground and found nasty giant guts and fly eggs everywhere. Among the gore was 4 gems of various value. There were some possible valuable wooden statues in the hole but the party had destroyed those by tossing military oil down the hole. Sadface.

They rolled their loot back to Turos Spen and the whole caper only took about 4 hours of game world time. They weren't trapped in time compression for future sessions and they could cash out their XP. Success all around, from my viewpoint.

Afterword

I've been introducing Patrons to my ACKS campaign. What are Patrons? They are major NPCs that you hand off to be played by a human. Said human decides the actions of the NPC based on the handful of goals and detailed resources the DM provides them. 

A few days after Session 23 I decided to give Legate Drakon of Turos Spen to a friend to run as a Patron. A few of the rumors/goals I gave him was that a Gnoll Lair was in the nearby Viaspen Forest that his scouts saw monster sign of, and that Crassus the PC venturer was shopping for trade goods in Turos Spen. He wanted to meet the PCs immediately!

 On an off day with no session Legate Drakon sent his Centurion Adam "Animal Lover" Baldwin to give the PCs a message. 


"Good afternoon, Legionnaire," he said meeting Gaius at the Travelers Inn "I assume you're the leader of this band of assholes called Team " He shows Gaius the letter. "Look man, it's a letter from the Legate. He's summonsed you all up to the villa tomorrow. Seems he wants you to slaughter the gnolls in the Viaspen and maybe help your perfidious merchant with a trade venture. Don't worry, I won't be there at the villa. I got better things to do than circle jerk with a bunch of dumbass adventurers." At that, the Centurion left.

We opened up a private group chat and the Patron player ran his plan by the PCs as they joined him at the villa. The scene got a bit testy as the Legate himself was short saying "listen up, gnolls are in the forest and I want you to take them out." PCs, nigh always resentful of authority figures, bucked his short tone and assumption of their obedience. Daria argued with him a bit about the time frame the party could do it in and the Patron had this fantastic line:

"It sounds to me like you want me to do your job for you. You appear to be under some delusion I come to you on bended knee begging for your aid. You're a mercenary of little not. Do not presume to lectur me on the cost of maintaining an army." Wow. An NPC figure of authority figure would be unlikely to speak thusly to a PC. The DM would have the worry that the player himself would take offense and become angry with the DM and campaign. Instituting Patrons allows NPCs of note to act like they would actually act around some murder hobos.

Now, the Legate and PCs eventually came to terms and a price and time frame was agreed upon. The Legate is in private chat with Crassus these days (and with me) trying to work out some trade caravan planning. 

I have a handful of Patrons in my campaign now. Some may be villains. In fact, two of them may have just had some PVP fighting (Spoiler: they did). Stay tuned to this website for more information on how that went down.

Have a happy fourth of july, everyone.

Surviving PCs Present

BriarWhisper (5% XP bonus) Level 3 Elven Ranger: 316 XP gained. Total: 5,781

Crassus (10% XP Bonus) Level 1 Venturer: 331 xp gained. Total: 331

Daria (0% XP bonus) Level 4 BladeDancer: 301 XP gained. Total: 11,669

Gaius (10% XP bonus) Level 4 Fighter.  331 XP gained. Total: 8,965

Gundro Aleslosh (0% XP bonus) Level 1 Gnomish Trickster. 301 XP Gained. Total: 1,951

Marn (10% bonus) Level 2 Mage: 331 XP Gained. Total: 5,408

Xanthus (10% XP bonus) Level 1 Cleric: 331 xp gained. Total: 331

Surviving Hechmen Present

Gwen (Daria): gains enough XP to become a level 1 fighter. Agrees to continue adventuring as Daria's henchmen.

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 "fortunate son" by creedence clearwater revival


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