Friday, October 29, 2021

ACKS Session 33: The Owls are what They Seem

Session was played on 09/15/21. Spending 5 days adventuring and 1 day of rest as per ACKS rules. PCs can make downtime requests and adventure on and after 09/21/21.

Foreword

Praised and blessed be Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Session Report 

The party set out from Oakhilt's Fastness as soon as they could. They "parked" there at the end of the last session and Oakhilt, an Elven Lord of the Poul Anderson and Dunsanny school (NOT Tolkien's Elrond) was none too happy to host humans at his decidedly NOT Homely House. 

PCs wanted to meet with the Elf Lord and discuss some seemingly aligned goals they had with him but he had no interest. According to most of the elf rank and file at the fastness, Oakhilt was bummed about a recent magical experiment that blew up in his face and he was going to take the next few months, or decades, lamenting his lot. 

Kalan, an NPC Elf Commander under Oakhilt, told BriarWhisper (PC Elven Ranger Level 4) he'd try and convince Oakhilt to go along with Briar's Big Plans soon. Who knows how that would turn out...

So Oakhilt as much as kicked them out of the beautiful hidden fastness and the party traveled north to Turos Orn. One the way a random encounter with 5 pit vipers hit. This was the only encounter of the night and considering the level of the party it wasn't really a big deal. I tried to rush through it because the only thing that really mattered in this battle was if any of the vipers would get a lucky bite off and instigate a Save Vs Poison or Die roll from the PCs.

Gaius (PC Fighter Level 4) did indeed get bit and the whole table (including me) held its breath as he rolled Save Vs Poison. Keep in mind this is the second (soon to be first) highest XP player character in the campaign. He's faced Ferigno, Dairin the Mage, BOB from Twin Peaks, and the Hags; and lived to tell the tale. Would a dumb snake take him down?

No. He saved.

From there we wrapped the battle up quickly and the party easily mopped up the snakes without any further bites from them.

From there they followed the Auran road to the city of Cyfaraun and parked their wagon of goods with the Merchant's Guild. They paid a pretty steep toll at the gate into Cyfaraun to bring their wagon(s) of goods in. I was surprised they went along with it since most PCs I've DMed would rather murder an entire town than pay a pittance of a toll.

At this point the Players wanted to switch out their PCs who had traveled thus far for other PCs. I'm still on the fence about allowing this, if it's in the spirt of #brosr gaming. But I didn't want to argue about it and was more interested in seeing what sort of trouble the Players could get into before we were out of time.

They debated their next action, checking the calendar and trying to assure none of their PCs would get stuck in time compression if they went out of the city to adventure. So they gamed out they'd have 1 day to leave town, look around for trouble, and get back before dark. Thus allowing these PCs to be usable in the next session a week away.

This is how Elite BrOSR players do things. You can whine about real time not being the best way to play, make complaints that you'll never delve a deep dungeon or go out deep into the wilderness, or you can except the game as is and find ways to win. 

They spent the day scouting a lake to the south of the city. I'm not exactly sure what they were looking for. Lairs with easy treasure, for one thing. But they've found that there are much fewer lairs close to the city than deeper into the Borderlands. They found none near Cyfaraun or the Lake.

BriarWhisper sent his pet owl Shadowfeather (Owl henchmen NPC) out to fly around Lake Laman to scout it for lairs and stuff. I guess the PCs thought they'd find an island of riches and maybe rent a boat to go get it next session? No idea.

Daria (PC BladeDancer Level 5) promised Shadowfeather he'd find lots of mice to eat out on islands around the lake and have a fine time hunting and eating. He found no such thing and some hours later he came back quite annoyed with the PCs indeed.

He said that all he saw was a big island of fire and dancing pink elephants. It was a total loss, in his owl mind. He started complaining on and on until Daria cast Charm Animal on him and he calmed a bit.

That was pretty much it for session play. A bit of travel a bit of scouting. We were wrapping up and telling very polite and absolutely not politically incorrect jokes on the mics for a bit before we logged off. When one of the players mentioned that Gaius had magic lamellar armor to sell that he had absconded from Ferigno's lair back in Session 30. BriarWhisper also had a magic sword. 

They tried to sell it when they arrived in town but I misread the ACKS economic rules at that moment and thought they only had a low chance to sell the items, which are each worth 5,000 GP. Turns out with Bautiatus (PC Venturer Level 1) or Timothy (PC Venturer Level 1) handling the transaction, there was a 100% chance to sell either item.

Well selling magic items in ACKS gives 100% of the sale value in XP to those PC(s) who had a hand in acquiring it. Gaius alone survived the raid on Ferigno's lair so he gained a whopping 5,500 XP from the sale of the armor. BriarWhisper and Gaius were the ones who secured the sword so they split another 5,500 XP.

WOW.

So at the end of this mostly (imo) uneventful session Gaius made a level and became the highest XP PC in the Campaign. As such, he deemed it the Best Session Ever.

D&D is so weird.

Surviving PCs Present

Aurora (10% xp bonus) Priestess Level 1. Gained 0 xp. Total: 0

Batiatus (10% bonus) Venturer Level 1. Gained 22 xp. Total: 22

BriarWhisper (5% xp bonus) Elven Ranger Level 3. Gained 2,909 xp. Total: 10,986

Daria (0% xp bonus) Bladedancer Level 5. Gained 20 xp. Total: 14,326

Gaius (10% xp bonus) Fighter Level 4. Gained 9,097 xp. Total: 20,655 [LEVEL TO 5]

Marn (10% xp bonus) Mage Level 3. Gained 22 XP. Total: 5,804

Surviving Hench

Kagan (5% xp bonus) Dwarven Craftpriest Level 1. Gained 11 xp. Total: 1,589

Owl and horse received 10 xp.

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.

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.

Turin (L1 Cleric). Total XP: 0. Eaten by Wargs in Session 32.

Alexa this is so sad play "Jump" by Van Halen


Friday, October 15, 2021

ACKS Session 32: Return to the Unicorn Pool

Session was played on 09/08/21. The party spent one day in the Turos Spen market and adventured for 4 days. Needing 1 day of rest as per ACKS rules (barring PCs with Endurance) means these PCs can begin taking actions starting 09/14/21.

Foreword

It's been a while since this session was played and I'm writing this report a month later. Much of it has faded from my mind. I started waiting to release the session reports a bit later so PCs and Patrons wouldn't have information they shouldn't. Give a week or two from the session events to blog post release, you see. But that then turned into me simply being too lazy to write the reports in a timely manner at all. Sad!

is it real?

This goes against #brosr best practices and I advise you not do the same! Session reports are Proof of Concept which our hobby thrives on. OSR and Nuskool ttrpg sorts rattle(d) off hundreds (thousands?) of blog posts about their various dnd theories and house rules with many (most?) not even providing session reports proving their theories in practice. When you play real dnd you can easily glance at old osr blog posts and realize they must not have played much at all; very obvious things about Real Play escaped their mental grasp. Don't be like them! Be #Elite

What this means to me is this session report will be a bit hazy. The sessions after The Desolation of Turos Tem were a bit uneventful on a macro scale. There was no grand counter attack on Dairin (Player Controlled Patron Mage Level ???) or Ferigno (Player Controlled Patron Green Dragon Level ???) during Session 32, for instance. But it's my guess Players were working behind the scenes on something like this. (I don't know for certain since they plan privately away from mine prying DM eyes.)

This session appeared to be about shoring up their numbers and moving slowly into position for a future Big Event. Read on.

Session Report

This session the party wanted to take Kagan (PC Dwarven Craftpriest Level 1) to get is Mortal Wound healed up by the Unicorn Pool. He lost his leg long ago and had been hanging out in Cyfaraun just chilling. Hopping around town.

Drink from the Pool: get healed up. What a place!

They set out from Turos Spen after spending a day to shop for Military Oil, horses and the like. Leaving the next day it took them about a day to get to the eastern edge of the Viaspen Forest. They befriended a mule (Random Encounter) on the way. Free mule!

Three days into their travels they realized they were lost in the Viaspen Forest. For how long? BriarWhisper (PC Elven Ranger Level 3) sent his pet owl up into the treetops to scout around for a bit and see if they could use that to find their location. The Owl came back some hours later and Daria (PC BladeDancer Level 5) cast Speak with Animals so she could communicate enough with the bird to justify mine rolling a "Not Lost" Check. They failed and so they traveled East out of the forest so they could come back in at a location they knew and no longer be lost. It wasted some hours of travel time and lost Daria her spell (which became VERY important later).

The party came upon a goblin warband, many of whom were riding wargs. The party had Surprise on the warband so the players debated for 15 minutes or so about whether they should attack the goblins at all and whether they should try and ambush the goblins from a rocky outcropping that was nearby. I got a drink.

Gaius (PC Fighter Level 4) wanted to charge his warhorse and his cavalry mercs at the goblins right away so the party used their surprise round to do that. The rocky outropping became less of an element of the battle as a result except BriarWhisper (I believe) who posted up there for the entirety of the battle. 

Daria used the surprise round to cast bless. Gaius charged his horse at the goblin king leading the warband, getting many cleaves and killing screaming goblins on the way. As the battle raged Marn (PC Mage Level 3) cast Summon Beserkers on top of the leaders in the goblin ranks, hemming them up in melee with disposable summoned fighters. Daria cast Blindness on the goblin king making him about useless in melee.

Even with the initial big hit on the goblins in the first couple rounds, the beasts kept making successful Morale Checks; so the battle raged on. Gaius and BriarWhisper were killing many of the goblins by chaining their cleave attacks. Daria waded into melee but was largely ineffective due to using her polearm rather than her dual sword attack. 


Marn used a round of combat to come down from the rocky outcropping to flank a side of the melee scrum. Some of the PCs including I believe Turin (PC Cleric Level 1), and Xanthos (PC Cleric level 1) came along with Marn to give him cover if goblins exited the scrum to get in the Mage's face.

Marn cast a brilliantly placed Flaming Hands spell and burned up and killed 11 goblins. Melting green faces all around. 

Turin guarded Marn when the goblins tried to engage the Mage and sadly died himself, his head chopped off. 

Eventually all the goblins were dead painting the forest with green blood yet the wargs were fighting on (Morale Checks made again!). The party was having trouble bringing the big dire wolves down but luckily my damage rolls against the party stayed low. Marn blinded one of the beasts with Darkness which made him pretty useless (-4 to hit and the dog mostly wandered around confused for a few rounds).

Daria was down one spell the whole fight due to the fiasco of the party getting lost and the gambit on the Pet Owl helping them get found. Daria's player informed me this was a pretty big hit since the BladeDancer could have shot off another useful spell to become less of a support class and more of a killer similar to Gaius. Choices have consequences in real dnd!

By the time all the goblins and wargs were killed (NONE fled) Turin, Daria's pet Giant Snake, and all the cavalry mercenaries were dead. Gaius was most bummed about the latter.

One player said this reminded him of the sessions early in the campaign where the party faced down gobin warbands but this time the Party had a few higher level PCs to make it more feasible to kill all the gobs.

The party scoured the battlefield and goblin bodies for treasure. Sadly this wasn't a warband flush wish cash and the party only found 9,000 copper pieces and a handful of semi precious stones. Sad!

The next day the party traveled deeper into the forest and came to the known location of the Unicorn Pool. Disaster!

The Unicorn Pool had been destroyed and the rubble of the marble gazebo around it had been felled. The marble rubble was laid out to spell the name "Iskara"; the name of the evil chthonic goddess of a Chaos. Queen of the Monsters and seeming patroness of the Buried Tempe (which the PCs call the Blister of Doom). 

Players were bummed, angry, exasperated, annoyed... etc. Their plan to bring Kagan to the Pool for healing was all for naught. Due to Patron or NPC actions by some bad guys, the location was found and destroyed. The Unicorn himself was no where to be found. It was a major loss for the metaphysical forces of Law in the Viaspen Forest and Southern Argolle. 

The party rested at the ruin and traveled to the Elf Lord Oakhilt's Fastness to rest and end the session. On the way they saw a wandering warband of Orcs but evaded it completely either due to the session having running late, not wanting to push their luck, or because they were just plain bummed out.

This is the first time the PCs had ever "Parked" at a non-human settlement to end a session. The Elves met them miles from the Fastness and blindfolded all the non-elf PCs before allowing them to approach the stunning Fastness. They were met with suspicion and not some impoliteness on the night they stayed there.

Afterword

BriarWhisper used some downtime a few weeks (I think) before this session to meet with the Elf Lord Oakhilt (NPC Elven Spellword Level ???) to discuss local events with him and ask his advice on various things. BriarWhisper traveled with an elf ranging party to attempt to scout the numbers of the Gnolls and the ranging party stopped at the Unicorn Pool. (The Gnolls that were being scouted were eventually tracked and attacked by the PCs in Session 27.)

I had a challenge on my hand because this was around the time the Patron(s) involved intended to bring death down on the Unicorn Pool. It was an interesting thing to juggle as I did the math on which day BriarWhisper would be there vs which day the Patron(s) would be there. 

Might the Elves stayed to help defend the Unicorn Pool? Might BriarWhisper end up dying in downtime? Might Dairin (if he was involved) get got by a happenstance Elf Warband? All big questions that come up during real brosr style dnd.

I had to ask the Patron(s) and PC pointed but subtle questions about "ok so when do you leave? when do you get there? etc" without revealing why it was so important exactly which date they were where.

As it happened the Bad Guys hit the Pool some days after the elves had moved through. The timing was quite close, however, and would have be a wild coincidence and campaign scale game changer similar to what happened in the Trollopulous Patron Event with Elric, the cavemen, and Fluid the Druid.

Surviving PCs Present

BriarWhisper (5% xp bonus) Elven Ranger Level 3. Gained 216 xp. Total: 8,077

Daria (0% xp bonus) Bladedancer Level 5. Gained 206 xp. Total: 14,306

Gaius (10% xp bonus) Fighter Level 4. Gained 227 xp. Total: 11,558

Marn (10% xp bonus) Mage Level 3. Gained 227 XP. Total: 5,782

Xanthos (10% xp bonus) Cleric Level 1. Gained 227 XP. Total: 704

Surviving Hench

Kagan (5% xp bonus) Dwarven Craftpriest Level 1. Gained 108 xp. Total: 1,578

Owl and horse received 103 xp.

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.

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.

Turin (L1 Cleric). Total XP: 0. Eaten by Wargs in Session 32.

Alexa this is so sad play "Jump" by Van Halen

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Desolation of Turos Tem

Foreword

How many times have you read tepid osr blogs ramble on about how the titular Keep from "B2 Keep on the Borderlands" was the actual prize in the module? Many. How many actually had a mass combat happen there between the monstrous denizens of the Caves of Chaos and the Castellan's army? Never.

Brosr, as usual, is providing proof of concept to the osr's endless theorycrafting. Play the games, fellas. Stop talking about them and PLAY. 

you ever just?

The Desolation of Turos Tem is where the local monstrous denizens did indeed attack the "Keep" in the Adventurer, Conqueror, King System (ACKS) introductory module "The Sinister Stone of Sakkara". The Caves attacked the Keep.

The events depicted below are the culmination of most of the entire campaign; including actions taken by PCs during session play and downtime. And actions taken by Patrons. The events took months to stew but culminated at the keep of Turos Tem on 08/25/21. 

What happens when a throng of monsters descends on the Lawful lands of the Auran Empire to claim a Lawful Keep? Read on and find out.

Campaign Report

Dairin the Mage (Player controlled Patron Mage Level ???) and Ferigno the Green Dragon (Player controlled Patron Green Dragon Level ???) joined forces to attack Turos Tem on 08/25/21. It took them a long time to gather and organize their forces and agree to a division for the spoils, but they eventually marched into the Legature of Legate Valerian (Player controlled Patron Fighter Level ???) on this day.

Legate Valerian surprised me by deciding to exit his keep and meet the monsters in the field. Valerian was fielding about 30 Horse Archers, 30 Cataphracts, 60 Light Infantry, 30 Heavy Infantry, 4 Catapults, and 3 Light Repeating Ballistae.

The monster host contained 30 Hobgoblins, 125 Lizardmen, 20 gnolls, 36 Skeletons, 36 Zombies, 8 Ghouls, 14 Akira Monsters, and 1 Green Dragon Named Ferigno.

PCs were informed of this event as many of them were "parked" in Turos Tem as a "safe spot" and they were given the chance to have their PCs participate in the Mass Battle or Run Away or Something Else. Laru (PC Thief Level 3) and his henchmen, Ashitaka (PC Elven Spellsword Level 1), and Lord Zyklon (PC Spellsword Level 1) combined as a single mixed unit of adventures and vagabonds. 

Battle Turn 1 (Missile)

Crassus (PC Venturer Level 1) acted as Lieutenant for his 50 or so mercenaries. These are the ones the PCs used for various adventuring and wilderness exploration during the preceding half dozen sessions or so.

I informed all participating PCs that they could in fact be killed during the Mass Combat in what amounted to Downtime, for them. With the Legate promising 50% of his spoils should they win (amounting to 25% of whatever the monsters were carrying) the PCs decided to brave the danger.

Legate Valerian took the field attached to his veteran Cataphract unit. He gleamed in his armor at the front of his men, trotting off across the fields and hedgerows to engage the gnashing monster host before they could close on his Keep. The picture of heroism. 

As you can see from the above picture and unit count the monsters had superiority in numbers. But the Legate realized that most of the monsters were only effective at close range. As such he used his large amount of missile capable units to try and soften up the monster host prior to them being able to engage in close range combat.

If you look above the picture isn't an exact replica of the field but is used to track what type of phase the unit to attack on. Units in the Missile Phase attack first. Then, if the armies get closer together, Skirmish Units attack like a cloud taking opportunistic strikes. Then, if the armies get even CLOSER together, all Melee Phase Units clash and can overrun the other types of units as well. A good general can pull his army away even after a Melee engagement and return to Skirmish or Missile phase(s). 

Generals can move units out of their current phase into Reserve at the end of a Phase. Or can move any unit out of Reserve into any other position at the end of a Phase. Essentially it takes two Turns to get a unit moved and positioned, then.

This approach to mass combat is in the AXIOMS Compendium if you'd like to bring it to your ACKS game. If you're running 1e (the only option besides ACKS) then get a copy of Chainmail.

Legate Valerian's strategy then became keeping the combat in the Missile Phase as long as possible. He kept backing away as the monsters would try and get closer. This is done by making a Strategic Ability roll which is a d6 + modifiers like INT, WIS and proficiencies.

To start the battle in phase 1 the Legate Declared "fire at will!" Ferigno, despite being the only monster unit that could act on Missile, decided to be cagey and hide among the lizardmen and protect his own hide. Legate Valerian was able to keep the monsters at a distance for 4 Turns of Mass Combat battle despite Dairin the Mage continually orders his monster to CHARGE!


By the end of 4 turns Dairin was quite angry indeed. Being a Florida Man of some repute, the Mage preferred to lead lizardmen and other monsters of the swamp. Yet Valerian kept the whole host at missile distance and took down FOUR lizardman units. Cold green lizard blood was spilled all across the Turos Tem Legature hedgerows. Ferigno never did brave taking to the skies to try and divebomb the Lawful army by his lonesome. 

I was running all these major combat decisions by the real men playing Legate Valerian and Dairin the mage. Valerian was much less responsive and gave me only a general idea of his battle plan. Dairin on the other hand was chomping at the bit to making turn by turn pronouncements as to his strategy and mogging on the Lawful army. Either approach is fine.

Just like I and the brosr have discussed before you are free to adjudicate as well as you can with regards to Patrons if they can't get back to you with decisions in a timely manner. Patron players understand this and this sort of DMing extends to something like the Battle at Turos Tem.

Phase 5 is when things started to turn against the Turos Tem regulars. Dairin was able to close some distance and get the battle into the Skirmish phase to start Turn 5. As you can see from the above that made two units of Lizardmen and Ferigno available to make attacks. Ferigno, for reference, attacked with a ferocity of about FIFTEEN heavy infantry units. Or THIRTY light infantry units. Insane! 

At this point I informed the PCs that they could engage in a Heroic Foray if they so wished. Heroic Forays are when we zoom in on the battle field at a normal DND combat scale. The sort of scale you'd be used to for fights in a dungeon or something. This is the way ACKS allows things like trying to go after a specific leader in the opposing army, or open the gate to the keep their army is attacking, and other things like that. PCs ALWAYS ask about things like that. So this is how you deliver it in ACKS.

The PCs, however, decided to not engage in a Heroic Foray. "LORD ZYKLON REFRAINS", said Lord Zyklon.

Dairin, however, decide to lead 14 lizardmen into a heroic foray against 30 Light Infantry, 2 Horse Archers, 1 Cataphract, and Centurion Animal Mother (NPC Fighter Level ???). Animal Mother was the Centurion of Turos Spen. In a bold act of altruism Legate Drakon (Patron Fighter Level ???) of Turos Spen sent Animal Mother and ALL his horse units to help some two weeks prior when Turos Tem's army was weakened drastically from some dark trolls that attacked across the river.

Dairin's forces didn't realize that Turos Tem had actually been recently weakened by a bad luck random encounter roll on Turos Tem. And Valerian's luck just kept getting worse.

During the Heroic Foray, however, Dairin wildly cast a fireball into the throng of units clashing and killed as many of his lizardmen as his killed human infantrymen. Then he cast Summon Beserkers to try and keep the infantry and Animal Mother from getting him in Melee. Dairin just barely escaped a melee strike from Animal Mother which would have surely killed or incapacitated him. After his fled, Animal Mother and the Horse Archers remained and killed the rest of the 14 lizardmen that were involved in the foray. A solid overall loss for Dairin and he nearly died in the attempt.

Dairin chose to do no further Heroic Forays during the rest of the Mass Combat.

In Turn 5 of the Mass Combat the Lizardmen claimed the open skirmish field with javelins and arts as Ferigno circled overhead. They attacked and destroyed the humans ballista team but are left winded as the unit of Adventurers , led by Laru the Thief, used clever positioning tactics and bear traps to finish the lizardmen off. All lizardmen were injured enough to be removed from the mass combat!

End of Turn 5, start of 6

Ferigno then swoop[ed with tail and claw, grabbing and lifting up horse archers and throwing their horses into eachother to bowl over the rest. Both Horse Archer units were lost. Ferigno then dropped down on the last full Light Infantry unit and eats them all before taking flight again to move into the Reserve for late repositioning.

After this turn Legate Valerian attempted to disengage his units and flee back into the Missile Phase but his Strategic Ability failed against the brilliant mage's mad schizo mind. Dairin yelled charge and the monster and human host clashed all together finally for the start of Turn 6.

One turn 6 the host of monsters finally closed the distance with the Lawful Forces. The hobgoblins and one of the units of skeletons was dispatched by Turos Tem's Elite Legionnaires as they stood alone against the initial onslaught. Sadly they were eventually overrrun and left decimated on the field as the monsters ran over them to get into Valerian's reserve. The monsters surrounded and destroyed Centurion Animal Mother's elite Cataphract.

At this point there was finally enough carnage for Morale to become a factor for both sides. The unit of adventurers Rallied (+50% strength) as did one catapult, light infantry and bow unit. Legate Valerian was a general who inspired his men!

Ferigno actually wavered! (-50% strenght) which was a major boon for the Lawful forces. Some of the undead and a unit of akira monsters also lost focus and wavered as well.

On Turn 7 Ferigno, despite wavering, landed and attached with the melee forces. The throng of monsters clashed with the light infantry, cataphract and adventuring party unit. The cataphracts were surrounded making yelping sounds as they ate the cataphracts well bred horses and left the cataphract warriors unable to continue. Legate Valerian re-attached himself to the Adventuring Party unit. A unit of ghouls was destroyed by the Lawful Forces.

As you might image this is when the Lawful army began to fall apart. One catapult unit abandoned their machines and went screaming across  the hedgerows toward Turos Tem, fleeing. All the remaining Light Infantry followed suit. Only the adventures and one catapult unit were left in the field for the Lawful army. 

On the other side of the field one unit of akira monsters, led by a Lady Ruinguard named Zakiti (NPC Big Bad from "Sinister Stone of Sakkara" module) lost control of them and they fled the field. She angrily cursed them and "the peasants they were bred from!"

End of Turn 7

At this point I informed the PCs they could likely flee the mass combat and get back to the Keep and survive. Every single PC decided to stay until the bitter end. 

Laru and his henchmen held fast by the Legate and started a chant "FOR CALEFA AND EMPIRE!"

Lord Zyklon stated that "LORD ZYKLON FOLLOWS VALERIAN THROUGH FIRE AND WATER".

Phase 8, despite the heroics, didn't go well for the Empire. The Legate attempted to Withdraw again and moved many units to Reserve for later positioning. The gods were not on the Legate's side and he was unable to withdraw. The forces of the monsters easily roiled their way into the reserve and bowled over the last catapult unit and the unit of Adventurers. They then had free reign of the field and Dairin laughed maniacally to the sky in triumph. 

Aftermath

Crassus' mixed unit of bowmen attempted to flee but Ferigno chased them down and ate them. 

The PCs Ashitaka and Crassus were not dead but very fatigued and captured. LORD ZYKLON DISEMBOWLED LORD ZYKLON.

Legate Valerian, his officers, and Centurion Animal Mother of Turos Spen were alive by fatigued. Dairin put Zakiti the Ruingard, her akira monsters, and Ferigno in charge of guarding the injured prisoners while Dairin led his remaining lizardmen to the Keep proper to take it despite his decimated numbers.

Zakiti began to pace around the notable prisoners with the grin of the cat that ate the canaray. "So, Legate, you thought you could simply send idiotic delvers to my home to kill my beautiful monsters. And my tree of blood! Oh how it screamed as they burned it. I can wait to do the same to you!"

Crassus, being a Venturer, tried to bribe Ferigno with 1,000 gold pieces to let him and the other PCs and Valerian go. "Let us go. We are worth more to you if you don't have to split the ransom with Dairin. You've won, you've taken Turos Tem. Consider your own best interests here." At this point I dropped the bombshell on the PCs that Ferigno was a Patron. And Crassus could message the Patron player privately to try and make a deal for release. Neither party ever got back to me and I have no idea how it went.

On the other hand Ferigno's player told me he tried to intimate Animal Mother into giving him information about who ordered the attack on Ferigno's home. Animal Mother was not intimidated. "Send me to the gods you overgrown lizard. I'm sure Turas will judge me well. My rank is Centurion and my name is Animal Mother. That's all you need to know." He then looked upon his calvarymen who survived he battle; whom he commanded. He said loudly "and if any of you men tell this dragon a damned thing I'll personally find you in the underworld and kick your pansy ass!"

Dairin eventually overran the Turos Tem Keep itself but not without some trouble. The Mages of the Chapterhouse and the Clerics of the Hospital formed mixed units and did their best to hold the walls with very few proper soldiers. Dairin took some losses.

All reports and rumors in the weeks since is that Zakiti sacrificed dozens of peasants to the strange magic item, the Sinister Stone of Sakkara, whom some hobgoblins were hoofing around the battlefield on a platform and place of pride. The major prisoners such as the PCs and Valerian are rumored to have been tied and taken with the monster army who returned to the swamp or Viaspen forest. Darin's forces only stayed for about 24 hours to pillage as best they could and the Keep itself stands empty except for bodies

Dairin did, however, make a special point to destroy and desecrate the Hospital in its entirety; continuing his pattern of ruining holy places. 

Word is the Palatine of Siadanos will soon send forces to see what can be salvaged at Turos Tem and who might be installed as a new interim or permanent Legate.

Afterword

Before the battle was over, Ratface (PC Thief Level 1) burgled the Legate's Villa, stealing two heavy chests full of gold and silver. Kortes (PC Explorer Level 1) helped him escape the keep with it before Dairin's forces clashed with the keep proper. It was a nice prize and a W for the players who were indeed quite down by the Desolation of Turos Tem.

So what do we make of all this? For one this never would have happened without Patron play and Jeffograxian Time Keeping. If you want interesting events like the above in YOUR dnd ttrpgs you must institute both approaches immediately. 

I had no idea that Dairin and Ferigno would have a common goal of taking down Turos Tem. I had an inkling that the NPC Zakiti might try but my random rolls of that happening weren't coming up against Turos Tem. 

This sort of gaming might seem overwhelming but it's actually quite simple. You let the Patrons do what they wish and what they can. If they want to have a wargame of sorts going on in the background while the PCs do normal session play, much the better. It's documented in the fabulous "Secrets of Blackmoor" documentary that this is exactly how real old school dnd was played bitd.

The Desolation of Turos Tem has changed the map and the nature of the campaign quite a bit. The PCs goals and passion immediately shifted. One PC said the following in the chat: "Dairin is a f###ing bastard. Can't wait for that guy to die."

They absolutely want to kill the bad guy patrons involved in the Desolation of Turos Tem. Legate Drakon may also want to save his Centurion or, if it's too late or not possible, at least get revenge for Animal Mother's capture/murder. 

These sort of REAL feelings and goals are much better than the railroad junk that nuskool dnd feeds to you. It's a pink slime of junk trying to convince its players they are playing dnd while never letting go of their leash and allowing something groundbreaking like brosr campaigns; like THE DESOLATION OF TUROS TEM.




Dubzaron Session 141: Dazed and Confused

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