Monday, August 15, 2022

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 troops from Legate Gaius (high level Fighter PC/Patron) to return to the New Badlands. The party goal was to check into the Scaled King's former fortress and see if they could find some extra loot that may have been hidden or left behind.  

"buncha slack jawed froggers around here"

There really wasn't much to the session so I'm going to knock out the plotting pretty quick then discuss how my recent ruling on Mass Combat XP splits instigated this session and probably the recent #OperationMuscleThunder downtime stuff that just set the #BROSR on fire.

It took the party 10 days to march out to the Scaled King's fortress because, in ACKS, armies have to rest for 3 days out of 7 of marching to resupply and feed livestock and such. 

They had a map to the center of the New Badlands which use to be a swamp before Drakon built a ditch to drain it. What the PCs found when they arrived was the Frogmen were gone and the lizardwomen were left behind. With no regular swamp terrain around they were just starving out. Even so I ruled a while back that beastmen females will fight to defend their home(s) even though they won't go raiding.

So the lizardfemales were NOT going to simply just let all this humans come into their walls. 

The PCs set to assaulting the walls and they did a Heroic Foray during the first round of mass combat. This was an interesting little set piece where Daria (PC Bladedancer mid-high level) flew up on the wall as, I think it was, Brian (Level 1 Wonderworker) cast Wall of Smoke so the lizards on the wall couldn't hit the rest of the party with ranged weapons. 

The PCs mostly handled their business during the Heroic Foray as they sliced up the lizardwomen guarding the parapet and we finished up the Heroic Foray. The mass combat round then triggered and the rest of the lizards were handled and killed. Some imprisoned for later questioning in the like. 

The party didn't realize the lizardwomen were all starving and had like a -3 on all their attacks and such so really the combat was a bit of a cakewalk.

Daria and the team then questioned the lizardwomen and learned that some months back a ritual with the Stone of Sakkara went awry and the Scaled King's shaman(s) summoned the Frogmen through the portal and their was a mass battle at that time, leaving Froggo the victor due to sheer numbers.

Froggo and his folk moved on to go look for food.

The Party searched the dungeons below the Fortress and found Dairin's old library which was worth a bit in GP (and thus XP). 

We wrapped up after that but not before Brian, MadEye (PC Venturer mid level i think) and Gaius started scheming about how they were going to reclaim the New Badlands while using this fortress they captured as their staging point. 


I knew all along that taking the Scaled King's old keep wasn't going to be too challenging. So my enjoyment of the session came from describing the New Badlands (same as last time the PCs adventured there) and seeing how much scheming the players were doing with regards to what the future may hold for this space on the map.

The New Badlands wouldn't even exist if Palatine Drakon hadn't Drained The Swamp so it's particularly interesting seeing a terrain on the map due to Patron actions and then PCs trying to exploit it for their own ideas, cash, prizes etc.

When they went to the New Badlands the first time about a month previously the PCs petitioned for me to change the rules I was using for Mass Combat XP distribution. Adventurer Conqueror King System: Domains at War Campaigns states pretty clearly that the General of an army gets the lions share of the spoils and treasure (and thus XP for both) when his army is used.

My players petitioned the writer of ACKS, Macris, to be like "are you sure, boss?" and look for some sort of loophole. Finding it in Macris stating that "sure the general can hand out spoils to commanders and such as he wishes". So the PCs came to me for a ruling.

My ruling was that up to 50% of treasure (thus XP from same) could be doled out to adventurers for XP as long as the PCs were of sufficient level to qualify to be Lieutenants at the army scale in question. 

It sounds like alot of rules wrangling I'm sure and perhaps you don't follow it. But the takeaway is the PCs were claiming they'd have no reason to use their armies in Session Play for XP and the like since only the General of the army would be leveling.

Well that would be lame, we wouldn't want a Campaign without session play army battles. Sounds like the worst sort of 5e dnd.

With my house rule the game can no work as I'd prefer insomuch as army Generals get the big payout but mid level PCs and the like can still get a piece of the spoils (assuming the General wants to be giving). 

I believe this allowed and led directly to #OperationMuscleThunder

Operation Muscle Thunder

If you don't know what #OperationMuscleThunder is then please check out this link where I turned the whole event into a big story thread which I posted LIVE on the twitters. 

The bottom line is Drakon finally gathered his massive army and marched it on Chief Froggo and the Frogmen. But in middle of this Valdar the Starman (Patron Starman) used his UFO to bring Timur (PC Barbarian mid-high level) and Kyle Oconner (Patron Barbarian high level) into the field to try and hit Froggo from the side. But Manson (Patron villain Assassin level ???) snuck onto the field with the evil magic sword Stormbringer and just murdered a ton of important henchmen.

The whole thing was madness. A dozen or so players and patrons make downtime requests live trying to find an edge (or just survive!) a massive war and small scale skirmish combat with the fate of the region hanging in the balance.

Some folks on the ACKS Discord asked me how I juggled all this and honestly it wasn't that hard. All that is required is the ability to scale combat up and down based on numbers of participating units. ACKS explicitly spells out how to do this in Domains At War for Mass Combat units. The BDubs trick was scaling it DOWN to be suitable for D&D size skirmish combat. 

The most important part of it, however, is the players. This is not the sort of event that can be set up like a plot in the DMs mind. You can't plan for an Operation Muscle Thunder, as a DM. It comes about by allowing Patrons and PCs to do whatever they like within the confounds of the game's rules. They find the exploits, tricks, and strategies they think will work. They communicate to eachother about alliances and targets of opportunity. Then there is a force of motion between them all (or in this case Drakon) who decides when it's time to strike.

And strike they did.

Manson the Assassin was killed, Froggo was destroyed, Drakon took some losses but also copped massive spoils and treasure, and Valdar grabbed up Stormbringer and flew it into space to "throw into the sun". The last of which is still in the works so stay tuned and check out #StormbringersFate on twitter for the unfolding tale.

The bottom line to this is that 1:1 time allows everyone to be on the same page enough to work out these sorts of events. Time is a resource that some PCs and Patrons exploit to its fullest and some let slip away like sands through the hourglass.

The result is players easily engaging with the campaign world in ways most of us always wished we could when we began playing D&D as kids. But without the #BROSR methods it is often untenable or the DM just forces the issue.

You can have this sort of campaign too if you channel the Muscle Thunder Mindset (TM) and give #BROSR methods a go.


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.

Lord Zyklon (L1 Elven Spellsword). Total XP: 0. LORD ZYKLON DISEMBOWLED LORD ZYKLON upon finding himself on the losing side of the Desolation of Turos Tem.

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

Rat Face (L2 Thief) Total XP: 1,577. Seemingly grabbed in the dark by a Xenomorph in Session 36. In a sinkhole your party can hear you scream! 

Smarticus (L1 Mage) Total XP: 0. Captured by a Xenomorph in Session 36 for all the party to witness. Taken deep into a sinkhole.

Hearticus (L1 Cleric) Total XP: 0. Gored to death by giant horned beetles in Session 39 after projectile vomiting all over himself from the stink of sewer sludge.

Mickey Mouser (L1 Thief) Total XP: 0. Gored to death by giant horned beetles in Session 39 in the happiest place on earth: the Cyfaraun sewer!

Aenes (Level 1 Paladin) Total XP: 62. Swarmed by giant flies in the sewer beneath Cyfaraun in Session 40.

Acianus (Level 1 Mage) Total XP: 0. Chopped to pieces in Session 42 by a six armed demon statue from behind and quickly forgotten about by his compatriots who saved MadEye and lamented Hardar instead. But I'll never forget you Acinanu nanu...nanite... nananaa...

Hardar (Level 2 Mage) Total XP: 2,832. Chopped up in Session 42 by a six armed demon statue as he held his Darth Vader Choking Grip spell long enough for his compatriots to escape an unwinnable battle. His dream to become the most evil being in the universe suffers eternally the indignity of being remembered for self sacrifice and laying his life down for his friends.

Nubbs (Level 3 Thief) Total XP: 4,017. Swarmed by scarabs which bored into his ears and brain in Session 45.

Grummz (Level 1 Dwarven Vaultgard) Total XP: 0. Ripped limb from limb by a throng of skeletons and their undead golem leaders in Session 46.

Grommzs (Level 1 Dwarven Vaultguard) Total XP: 2,168. Torn to bits and eaten by trolls in session 48

Rapunzel (Level 4 Priestess) Total XP: 11,540. Torn to bits and eaten by trolls in Session 48.

Schizo (Level 1 Mage): Total XP: 0. Frozen to death by an assassin's guild ruffian bard wielding a Wand of Cold in session 54.

Marteen (Level 1 Thief): Total XP: 0. Fell to his death in Lamalla's Temple upon a pile of dragon horde gold. Corpse eaten by Sheila the Beautiful, an Ancient Blue Dragon in session 56.

Ambrose (Level 2 Cleric): Total XP: idk. Strangled to death by cursed octopi in a canoe on Lake Laman claiming the Sinister Stone of Sakkara for Law and eventual destruction in session 63.

Traiticus (Level 9 Fighter): Total XP: alot. Head split in half by Froggo's bronze magic "Fren Axe" during Operation Muscle Thunder on 08/09/22.

Alina (Level 7 Mage). Cut in half at her belt line by Froggo's bronze magic "Fren Axe" during Operation Muscle Thunder on 08/09/22.

Olgar McKenzie (Level 5ish Barbarian). Soul eaten by Stormbringer wielded by the Manson the mad assassin during Operation Muscle Thunder on 08/09/22.

Celeste (Level 7ish Witch). Soul eaten by Stormbringer wielded by the Manson the mad assassin during Operation Muscle Thunder on 08/09/22. Said Ancient Soul caused a backfire effect and blasted Manson's face off leaving him dead in the sea foam.

Alexa this is so sad play "Witchy Woman" by The Eagles

1 comment:

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