This session was played on 09/01/21 with the party adventuring for 5 days, ending in Turos Spen. Needing 1 day of Rest as per ACKS rules the PCs can make downtime requests and participate in session on and after 09/07/21.
Jesus Christ is Lord.
This was the first session back in action after the Desolation of Turos Tem. What is the Desolation of Turos Tem, you say? Well it's where an evil player controlled NPC (Patron) allied with another evil Patron and marched a monster army on the Players' original Session 1 Home Base "Keep on the Borderlands"... and took it.
Discussions in the game chat for Downtime Requests were fast and furious in the week prior to this session. Lawful aligned Patrons and all PCs had something to say about the Desolation of Turos Tem. This was surely the turning point of the campaign. Nothing would ever be the same! Right?
Color me surprised that the PCs decided they would return to the introductory dungeon from the introductory ACKS Module the Sinister Stone of Sakkara. Okay, sure.
I'm not exactly certain of their motivation for this. Did a Patron put them up to it? Did they think the Big Bad at the bottom of the dungeon would be weakened after her involvement in the Desolation of Turos Tem? I have no idea. Players make their plans in a private chat away from my prying eyes. I can only speculate.
The party left Turos Spen traveling south to Turos Aster. There were no random encounters on the way. They picked up some other PCs in Turos Aster who had fled the Desolation of Turos Tem with the peasant refugees. Ratface (PC Thief Level 2) and Laru (PC Thief Level 3) were in Turos Aster. It seems Ratface had stolen some of the treasure in the Turos Tem vault during the army battle when Tem officials were busy elsewhere. Snuck a big chest of gold and silver right out of the keep.
(More info about what actually happened at the Desolation of Turos Tem will be in a special report on the blog sometime later. I'm gathering my thoughts on the matter and allowing enough time where information about the event will be common knowledge so Players [and Patrons] won't get an unfair advantage from reading about it here.)
They left Turos Aster the next day to enter the Viaspen Forest from the eastern edge. Just before doing so the PCs came across an NPC Party; The Claws of the Lioness.
At this point I pushed back against my fear of running NPC parties. In the past I've always made bespoke Random Encounter tables and removed the "NPC Party" entry because it seems so overwhelming. "How can a DM really quickly roll up and then properly roleplay 4 to 8 NPCs coming upon the party all at once? All with their own weird personality quirks and such similar to the PCs themselves." I ignored those fears and leaned into it.
To answer my initial internal objection to running an NPC party I simply used the one at the back of the "Sinister Secret of Sakkara" module. The ACKS writers put that there in case a DM wanted pre-rolled PCs for the intro module. But it could be used for an NPC party as well. Having it there with all the NPC equipment and a quick blurb about the NPCs' personalities was helpful. I advise DMs to roll up one or two NPC parties as game prep and keep them handy so you're not trying to do it during session time while Players yawn and wait.
My second objection to running NPC Parties as a DM was that I couldn't make them stand out. I decided to not even try. I just called the NPCs by their class and added more detail about what they were like if Players asked me for more info. As you might already know, Players don't actually care about NPCs. So that didn't come up much. I advise DMs to decide who the leader of the NPC party is and use him/her as the spokesman for the NPC Party during the initial encounter with the PCs.
The NPC Party was generally Lawful and they had a Friendly Reaction with the Player Party so, when the party offered to bring them along to go to the Dungeon, the "Claws of the Lioness" agreed heartily.
So now I had 6 PCs and 8 NPC adventurers. This session just became weird.
I advise DMs to let the Players control the NPC Adventurers as much as you can and as much as the players are interested in doing so. Certain player groups will be more open to it than others. I tried to give some of the NPC adventurers to Players to control for the night but few took me up on the offer. I ended up having to roll attacks and such for most of the NPC Adventurers. One player showed up late and was just handed an NPC Adventurer to control.
This all worked out pretty well and it might just have been the perfect session for such an odd occurrence of a PC/NPC Party Team up. The Dice Abide!
The Parties arrived at the "Blister of Doom" about a day or so later with no Random Encounters in the Viaspen Forest. They easily crossed Level 1 of the dungeon to get to the pyramid thing in the center with stairs going down to level 2.
A door was jammed wherein Virgil (NPC Dwarven Machinist Level 1) broke the PC party's crowbar when I rolled a 1 on the check to unjam it. This became his backstory: he's a clumsy moron. The them continued when he stumbled into a weird yellow mold creature that attacked him and the party on level 2 of the dungeon. He fell, seemingly dead, but the healers were able to get him back on his feet. Though he could no longer fight
The party easily dispatched the monster without further ado and explored deeper into the dungeon. Emptiness was the theme of this night of adventure. Room after room of level 2 of the dungeon was explored with no monsters in sight. They found a lake of blood with weird bloody vines growing out of it akira monster style. In the center of the lake was a tree apparently made of flesh and bone that was dead or dying. Nothing left to feed on? One player mentioned this description was quite spooky and the concept was very weird indeed.
For DMs reading this I will mention that the flesh tree thing was destroyed a loooong time back by a competing PC party called Pink Lemonade, setting off a spiral of events wherein the Big Bad (a Ruinguard named Zakiti) of the dungeon was quite angry and looking for vengeance against Turos Tem. The players I write about on this blog weren't even involved in the flesh tree's destruction, yet they had to live with the consequences in the form of a Dynamic Dungeon and a drastically changed campaign world when the leader of the dungeon decided to take to the wilderness. This is a form of PVP in Real D&D I outline in this blog post. I may be revealing too much behind the curtain to Players by telling this but I believe it's important to note just how dynamic this dungeon truly was thanks to BROSR play.
Everything in the dungeon not nailed down appeared to have been taken. What was indeed still deep in this evil place were two big evil altars. The Party smashed them both and acquired 100 and 200 XP respectively for all Lawful members of the party. Sorry Neutrals, pick a side!
One altar was covered with jewels with 2,000 GP in value. A pretty good take if it hadn't needed to be split 14 ways :(
The party eventually got to the chamber they believed the Big Bad RuinGuard Zakiti used until recently. In the center of the floor was carved an elevated ouroboros with a circular altar designed to house... something? Something that was no longer there.
In Zakiti's bedroom beyond the altar room Laru found a note Zakiti had seemingly written. It was in Ancient Zaharan so the thief gave it to Marn (PC Mage Level 3) who intended to read it later.
The party felt they had explored all this abandoned dungeon had to offer and decided to leave. On the way out they came across a small band of 5 orcs whom the 16 adventurers easily killed. One orc was captured and absconded back to Turos Spen for more questioning. Gaius (PC Fighter Level 4) planned to sell the orc as a gladiatorial slave.
The PC party left the NPC party at the entrance to the dungeon since the PCs all had horses and wanted to travel back home faster than the 8 NPCs could go. The PCs told them to "look us up when you get to Turos Spen!" to possibly hire some of them as henchmen. I handled that later in downtime.
So the dungeon was obviously mostly abandoned. I won't go into details why or anything but I will discuss my methods. I didn't expect the Players to go back here tonight. So I quickly decided since most of the creatures inside had left for Reasons that random encounters would be less frequent. Normal ACKS encounter rolls are done once every 2 turns (20 minutes) with a d6. On a 6 there is a random encounter. I rolled it once every 4 turns, instead.
In hindsight I could have instead used a d12 and have one hit on a 12. I did that whenever the party listened at a door to ask "do we hear any monsters inside".
The Party was inside the dungeon for a very long time in game world time. They traveled into about 10 rooms and across some really long hallways. They listened at almost EVERY door (which takes a turn). And after all that there was only 1 random encounter, the orcs.
Despite a lack of lethal combat we had alot of fun and it was very cool to expand my horizons by running an NPC Party without fear. In hindsight I also think this was a way for the Players to "wrap up" the intro module they began at the start of the campaign almost a year ago. Tie up loose ends, as it were.
Chanticleer had something similar when he ran his brosr version of "Waterdeep: Dragon Heist". A Patron (mine, bc I rule) and NPC were the ones who actually secured the titular dragon heist horde. But we couldn't carry it all. In a "Battle of the Five Armies" sort of way the PCs came in during a session AFTER the heist and carried out what they could. They also found clues about what myself and the NPC had done.
Session 31 seems similar. Smashing the altars was a major win for the good guys. It certainly spoke to one or two of the Players who, being Catholic Gentlemen, enjoy such goodly triumphs quite a bit. Will it make a big impact in the game world? I'm unsure. Perhaps those altars were very important to someone or something.
Time will tell.
I asked the players for their opinions on this session and what they found noteworthy. One mentioned he found it very tense and was "waiting for the other shoe to drop" wherein they stumbled upon some overwhelming odds hidden in the seemingly abandoned dungeon. Whilst I found it boring on my end I now realize players weren't sure about all my dice rolling. Each drop of the dice may have had them wondering if a powerful monster was going to jump out from the darkness.
Chanticleer, another player, mentioned he found the Dynamic aspect of the dungeon very interesting. I credit this to brosr best practices for DMs. The Real Time aspect of our gaming style, coupled with Patrons, made this dungeon change drastically during the course of the campaign. Nu-skoolers and osr types say they want a dynamic dungeon environment but the brosr is truly delivering on it.
I'd like to thank all my players for their dedication and passion for this campaign. It is only due to all of them that this is the longest running long form #brOSR campaign. Thank you, friends.
Surviving PCs Present
BriarWhisper (5% XP bonus) (Lawful) Elven Ranger Level 3. 455 XP gained. Total: 7,861
Daria (0% XP bonus) (Lawful) Bladedancer Level 5. 434 xp gained. Total: 14,100
Gaius (10% XP Bonus) (Lawful) Fighter Level 4. 477 XP Gained. Total: 11,331
Laru (5% xp bonus) (Neutral) Thief Level 3. 141 xp gained. Total: 3,200
Marn (10% xp bonus) (Neutral) Mage level 3. 147 xp gained. Total: 5,555
Xanthos (10% xp bonus) (Lawful) Cleric level 1. 477 xp gained. Total: 477
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.
Corydon (L1 Joker). Total XP: 0. Burnt to a crisp by chimera breath so thoroughly his corpse wasn't even fit for the crows. Died with a smile on his face and a song in his heart. that's life and as funny as it seems... some people get their kicks, stomping on a dream... In Session 25.
Donny Keebler (L1 Elven Spellsword). Total XP 2,238. Had his legs burned completely off by chimera fire breath in Session 25.
Marina (L2 Fighter). Total XP: 2,204. Burnt into ash by a chimera fire breath in Session 25.
Gundro (L2 Gnomish Trickster). Total XP: 2,575. Had his mouth and tongue bitten off by a lizardman ambusher in the dank sewers below Cyfaraun in Session 26.
Polydoros (L1 Fighter). Total XP: 0. Had his legs ripped off and eaten by Akira monsters in the dark canopy of the Viaspen Forest in Session 28.
Odrum (L1 Explorer). Total XP: 287. Javelin to the heart from the hands of weird vine goblins hidden in the walls of Ferigno's lair in Session 30.
Garvin the Nutless Wonder (L1 Mage). Total XP: 0. Fell off the side of Ferigno's lair 20 feet to his death in Session 30.
Blackmoon (L1 Assassin). Total XP: 768. Choked to death by BOB from Twin Peaks while stealing treasure from Ferigno's dragon horde in Session 30.
Xanthus (L2 Cleric). Total XP: 2,364. Choked to death by BOB from Twin Peaks while hanging out on the roof of Ferigno's lair in Session 30.
Alexa this is so sad play "Halloween Theme" from the "Halloween" official motion picture soundtrack