Saturday, August 31, 2019

Second Session Update - Who Knew What and When?

This session needs some picking apart because the players did the unexpected.


About a month ago, the Emperor's Council decided they needed to gain intelligence on the southern City of Tabletop. Tabletop should be a backwater town on the sea, but has evolved into a small yet vibrant cosmopolitan city which rivals the Capital itself. While intensely loyal to the Empire, the citizens of Tabletop like doing things their own way.

For example, they have their own unofficial legion, the 888th. It isn't a full sized legion, nor was it commissioned by the Empire. For logistical reasons, it numbers at exactly 888 men and women, human or otherwise. Eight hundred troops are about all the city can muster from it's 4-5000 residents.

Alarmingly, for the Empire at least, the town mustered it's legion and attacked several raiding forces brigands while defending against an Elven, Half-Orc and Dwarven incursion from the west. This unofficial legion, who does not swear fealty to the Emperor destroyed a series of brigand raids while cowing a significant Eastern force. Rag-tag auxiliary force, this is not. How did they muster so many people so fast?

It is disquieting to the Capital and the Emperor. More information is needed.

Two weeks ago, the call for spies went out. The Emperor's Council managed to block out all foreign spies and infiltrators from this very important work. The player's party was interviewed, hired and filled in on details of the operation.

Queue the reconcotion. The players were supposed to board a ship and proceed south. Instead they boarded wagons and set off east, before turning south. The players may go due south or hug the coast. Who knows?

This major hiccup made me rethink the scenario being played out. Time becomes important. The raiders and the Eastern forces of Elves, Dwarves and Half-Orcs are two different groups with no real connection other than stressing the Empire. Right now, the raiders are the more dangerous force, having had their attacks in the south blunted by the 888th Legion. That has pushed the raiders northwards, to the Capital.

The raiders had spies in the Capital and were planning on killing the party at sea. That didn't happen, so that force diverted to pillage small settlements on the coast. On the day before the party left the Capital, the raiders hit a settlement just outside of the Capital's control, north of the major city of Nace. They managed to capture or kill half the thorpe's population of 34.

At this moment, the raiders have a party of six heading south by land to check the status of Nace. Actually what happened was two raiders got drunk and are sitting in the thorpe while the other four rode south.

At the start of this session, the party encountered a pair of wild horses. They avoided the party, but then started following them. Clearly, these are domestic strays, not wild horses. Just outside the the thorpe, the party encountered a 3rd horse, saddled. This one they "captured". They can see the thorpe and are aware of the total lack of activity. Ambush time.

The players brought their wagons to the house outside the northern wall. Jaime, Jim, Megen and Gurwinder circled around to the south on horseback then abandoned the horses at the L shaped building. Rona, Melvin and Matilda, hid behind the north wall.

Comically drunken raiders.
Stephano and Trinculo from
The Tempest are the inspiration.
The raiders aren't too smart. As the party was sweeping the L shaped store house and barn, the two of them wandered out the villa with all kinds of food to greet their friends. The party captured them immediately. The raiders were expecting their patrol back at sunset, which comes and goes uneventfully. Everyone holds up in the barn, the wagons and animals inside waiting for the patrol.

The patrol arrives and death ensues. The patrol went back to the villa, where they left their drunken friends. The party decided to sneak up on them and ambush them with missile fire.

Instead, Matilda waltz up, party dress and all to start a sword fight. Let me mention that Matilda is a swashbuckler and her main skill is non-lethal combat with a pointy weapon. She can perform 3 non-lethal attacks per round, doing 1-2 points of damage each (weapon type doesn't matter). She can only do lethal damage on a 20, which allows her to disarm a person. If the other person doesn't flee or surrender, she can do a run through attack for double damage. She has more opportunities to score a 20 per round but never increases her number of attacks due to leveling. Alternatively, she can make one lethal full strength attack per round, but must roll on the thief or cleric attack table. 

She downs one of the raiders because no one takes her seriously. The other three DO take that seriously and draw swords.

The rest of the party swooped in and the 6 to 3 battle was over quickly. Before anyone can stop them, Rona and Gurwinder killed off the four raiders. The hungover raiders traded information with Rona to avoid joining their friends. They know some villagers escaped and suggest lighting a bonfire. Megen and Matilda correctly surmised that a bonfire is a signal for the ship to come back. They light the bonfire anyway and Megen, Melvin and Matilda take off for the coast 2 miles to the east. I have decided that these two drunks are named Stephano and Trinculo. They are tied up in the storehouse, awaiting justice.

Once the characters reach the coast, Megen dresses up as one of the raiders and they wait for the ship. When it arrived, it signaled with a lantern. Melvin cast his light spell. Matilda marches Megen in front of the light. Silhouetted, she pushes Megen to the ground and goes through the motion of cutting her throat. The lamp on the ship goes out and it put out to sea.

The rest of the session was spent counting up loot, as the villagers filed back into the thorpe.

The characters increase their haul. They have 6 bastard swords, 6 short bows, 6 suits of chain armor, a ton of iron rations and 60 more arrows. They really are playing Oregon Trail, they have an inventory sheet for each wagon. They also managed to do some horse swapping with the villagers and end up with a new pony for Melvin while the villagers accepted 6 daggers and the 9 horses for their losses.

Some details that the party missed. The lord of the villa would be pleased with 9 horses, except he's dead. No one searched the villa. Who killed him? No one knows, yet. Also, 9 horses is great, but there were only 6 raiders. Where did the other three come from? And no one looked at the odd saddle on the third, extra horse.

Next time, I'll upload the raider's characters sheets plus sheets for Felix, Felice and Jim, who are verging on becoming player characters. Normally, I would have players handle NPCs in combat, but they specifically excluded them, on account of the loss of the chef and laborer in the last session. I want to say my players are good, but they are more pragmatic than nice.

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