Tuesday, July 13, 2021

ACKS Session 24: Croc Whisperers!

This session was played on 07/07/21 wherein the PCs traveled and delved until 07/11/21. One day of rest on 07/12/21 as per ACKS rules makes these players can make downtime requests and adventure on and after 07/13/21.

Foreword

1=1 Time Keeping has resulted in players doing alot of fancy footwork to get their PCs into the locations and positions they need to attempt the missions and quests they think will be rewarding or fun. This has had mixed results with some sessions not being particular rewarding with treasure and XP, and some sessions not being fun for some players. This session however, though it took about a month of planning and tackling of logistics, had a very good GP/XP reward indeed. Read on! 


Session Report

The party set out from Turos Orn on 07/07/21 to arrive in the city of Cyfaraun on 07/09/21. There were no random encounters on the road along the way. Daria (PC Bladedancer Level 4) hid her Charmed giant rattle snakes in the party's wagons and was able to get them past the guards at the gate. The party rested a day in the Temple district since they had double timed it to the city and were worn out. 

Their plan was to meet up with Timur (PC Barbarian Level 1) who was stuck in downtime play in Cyfaraun for over a month. He had been in pit fights, fought in the arena, and met an important Patron named Liber. Liber claims to be a businessman and well-to-do merchant based out of the Old District but he's certainly putting out vibes that he may be involved in a crime syndicate. He came to Timur and Donny Keebler (PC Elven Spellsword Level 1) after the party delved the sewers and rumors swirled they had found the Nethercity. Liber stated that elven antiquities one might find in the Nethercity is HIS business so PCs best come through him. But he'd help them delve it if they played nice.

This is one quest that has dropped thanks to Patron play. Problem was 90% of the PCs were off on the frontier far from this city. So it took them about a month to work out their various other goals and get back.


Another possible quest Timur uncovered in Cyfaraun while on downtime play was for Lanista Nuvicus. This is the Lanista (gladiatorial school proprietor) that Timur had been fighting for and training with during this downtime. Because Timur achieved a Friendly reaction roll result with Nuvicus, he revealed to Timur that he tried to smuggle a Giant Croc and some Lizardmen into the city to present for fighting at the next Games. Both escaped into different parts of the sewer during the botched smuggle. Liber's men were to blame but Liber didn't seem to care much.

Nuvicus, on the other hand, was beside himself with worry that authorities would find out and prosecute him. Rumors swirled that the Croc had already killed dozens of dock workers. He offered Timur 3,000 GP to recover the croc ALIVE. Dead would be fine but a much lesser reward. Nuvicus still wanted to field this beast at the next Games. This is the quest the PC's decided to tackle this session.

For a few weeks now they have been asking me about giant nets, cages, croc muzzles, and all other sorts of non-lethal ways to get ahold of the beast. I had no idea what their overall plan was. Did they even have one? They plan in private so I can't see it, so I really didn't know.

After resting in the Temple District the party had info that Timur was likely at the Mink Inn and Tavern where Liber does business out of and where Timur and Donny Keebler have been staying.

ACKS Capital of the Borderlands has interesting and, in my opinion, very good rules for city crawling. I'll give a fast breakdown.

If you've been to a destination from your starting point before you move at Commuter speed. Much faster. If you've not made that commute before you have to move at Meandering speed. This is much slower to account for looking at street signs, asking for directions, etc. Meandering within a district takes about 20 minutes. Meandering from Location 1 to Location 2 in neighboring districts takes 2 hours. Every 20 minutes of travel the DM makes a random encounter roll on the city encounters chart.

So they had 2 hours of meandering ahead of them. Many encounter rolls! But only one hit. 

An assassin shot a poison crossbow bolt at some citizen right in front of the party's litter and killed the guy. Briarwhisper (PC Elven Ranger Level 3) climbed the townhouse the assassin was on and took chase. He got a couple arrow shots on the man in black but eventually the assassin turned a corner and was lost. Some other party members converged to help with the fight but the townhouses were a long row and it took many minutes. BriarWhisper eventually tracked the assassin's trail of blood drops into the backdoor of a townhouse some 10 or 20 minutes after the event. But the party decided not to follow up with this mystery.

The guards annoyed the PCs with questioning for about 2 hours until the party was finally dismissed and they went on to the Mink and met with Timur.

Some players switched out their PCs at this point. Marn (PC Mage Level 3) was retired for the night so he could focus on finding a new master. He gave up working with The Man From Another place and learning magic from the little fella a few sessions back and Marn has been trying to convert from Chaotic alignment to Lawful. He's currently Neutral. Donny Keebler (PC Elven Spellsword) was brought in instead. 

Ashitaka (PC Elven Spellsword Level 1) was exchanged for Timur.

The next day the party went to Nuvicus's gladiator school and reviewed the mission. Nuvicus gave them a map to a sewer entrance along the west bank of the river which is rumored to be where the croc lairs out of . Nuvicus provided Timur with 2 gladiators to go along and serve as henchmen. The party got there quickly with no encounters.

Now they dungeon delved into the sewer. It was a straight sewer tunnel with no juts or side passages. The stench of the sludge along the center made most of them nauseous and get a -1 to attacks and damage. Gross.

Eventually the party came to a circular cesspit filled to the brim with corpses and human bones. BriarWhisper confirmed tracks of a giant lizard around here (and the previous tunnels, actually). 

The schemes began!

Gundro (PC Gnomish Trickster Level 1) was asked to make an illusion of a goat on the end of some gore the party fished into the middle of the cesspool with a grappling hook and rope. Trouble is the illusion wasn't powerful enough to make sound. 

"So here we go fellas we need to make the goat sounds ok? A goat sounds just like a sheep but more angry... not bahhh but bAAAh. Do you get it?" No one ever gets what Gnomes go on about, Gundro. So sorry.

No croc was fished up. So they decided it must not be there and they would just wait for it to return.

Four hours later it did indeed come. I rolled that it was Hostile and would attack. I also rolled it surprised the group closest to its approach. I was prepared to kill like three PCs because the closest group were all low level and/or hit points. But alas I rolled that it was at a distance beyond it's combat movement! So all it could do with its surprise round is close the distance speedily. 

Initative was rolled as normal. Fast PCs were throwing nets at it to no avail. Some took missile attacks which did a bit of damage here and there. But as I counted down the initiative it was looking like the croc would at least get to eat and cleave through a few PCs before they'd be able to start getting major attacks on the thing. Woe!

But Daria (PC Bladedancer Level 4) surprised me with Charm Animal spell. I knew she had the spell but what I didn't remember is that it HAS NO SAVING THROW. So This 10+ HD creature was now a pal and a friend. Mission success! That easily! No one died and no one was even bitten. Amazing.

The party marched the giant croc out of the sewer and up into the street. The Plaza Disctrict wasn't too happy and everyone in the thoroughfare ran into their homes and shuttered the windows. The Festival District near Nuvicus's school however... they loved it! (I rolled a maximum Reaction Roll for the districts reaction to this strange occurence.)

A big parade began in the district with bards and clowns hitting the street to march behind the party as they went right up the street towards Nuvicus's school. Music blared and carousers caroused. What a show! 

Nuvicus met them at the gate to his school and was beside himself with happiness. Not only was the croc back but his school got amazing publicity with this impromptu parade! He threw money into the street for carousers and gave the PCs a 500 GP bonus for a job well done.

Timur made a soapbox speech about how Nuvicus is the best school and h*ck with Maximus's competing school. He probably thought he sounded quite fantastic rather than the 3 INT dolt that he is. The session ended with the players all feeling very high on themselves.

Afterword

Seems like they had a really easy win, right? I mean... no saving throw for an overpowered spell. Dubs, do you even know how to challenge players? But reader you forget that this particular Win for the players involved the following:

-good downtime play by Timur to go looking for Lanistas to serve and become a gladiator. This wouldn't have happened without Jeffrogaxian Time Keeping.

-lucky/good reaction roll check of 12+ on a 2d6 +modifiers from Nuvicus to tell Timur about the mission at all. If the PCs just delved the dungeon and stumbled across the croc would they have tried to capture it? Why? They'd just fight it and/or run away with no cash reward. No big win

-PC with Charm Animal coming all the way out from the frontier forts to get back to the city to help on this mission. That alone was about of dozen or more wilderness encounter checks

-Time. This all took REAL TIME. Timur had to send a rider with a message out to the rest of the Party telling them they should come back to the city. That took a few days of REAL TIME. 

Now, I will admit I was shocked that Charm Animal is so powerful as to not need a save. But that's the rules as written and I play RAW. The players knew their spell before they ever started planning. Doing research like that and finding out how to exploit your strengths is how real DND works. 

Nuvicus is a normal NPC and is not a Patron. So this was all done abstractly during downtime with Reaction Checks. If you're reading this and would like to run Nuvicus and try and make him rise up to be the most prominent Lanista in Cyfaraun and the Borderlands perhaps contact me. 


Most Patron play being explored right now is about moving armies around. But creative DMs (me) and a good game system (ACKS) offers other sorts of play that some may not have considered. ACKS has a minigame for running a gladiator school and fielding gladiators, putting down revolts, and Spartacus type things like that. 

The PCs ended the night stoked that Nuvicus would be able to field the Giant Crocodile in the next gladiatorial games and hopefully beat down Maximus's gladiators, a guy they've decide they don't like. Though they've not met him.

I love the fact that my PCs can be part of it all in a way where they help tilt the scales in the favor of one Patron or NPC or another. This is what real dnd is all about.

Surviving PCs Present

BriarWhisper (5% XP bonus) Level 3 Elven Ranger: 655 XP gained. Total: 6,436

Daria (0% XP bonus) Level 4 BladeDancer: 624 XP gained. Total: 12,293 [LEVEL TO 5]

Donny Keebler (5% bonus) Level 1 Elven Spellsword. 655 xp gained. Total: 2,238

Gundro Aleslosh (0% XP bonus) Level 1 Gnomish Trickster. 624 XP Gained. Total: 2,575 [LEVEL TO 2]

Marina (0% bonus) Level 1 Fighter: 624 XP Gained. Total: 2,240 [LEVEL TO 2]

Timur (10% bonus) Level 1 Barbarian. 686 XP gained. Total: 1,580

Xanthus (10% XP bonus) Level 1 Cleric: 686 xp gained. Total: 997

Hench:

Gwen (Daria Hench): 312 gained. Total: ???

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 "Am I not Merciful?" from soundtrack of the hit film "Gladiator"

 


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