Showing posts with label campaign report. Show all posts
Showing posts with label campaign report. Show all posts

Monday, December 9, 2019

Session Update - Just Let It All Hang Out

After very nearly wiping out the party by accident and the players loving it, I decided to put the pedal to the metal and crank up the intensity. Many of the characters leveled up on the last adventure, so there was some give to the take. 


The characters broke into two groups, then four by necessity. The plan was to meet up at Five Tree Hill, just outside the city gates by lunch time, but it was lunchtime when the first group arrived. Jaime, Jim, Matilda, Megen and Melvin arrived on horse. Jaime made arrangements at the inn and stable for the care of the animals and kicked back to wait for the wagons out on the hill.

Megen and Matilda went to see the sights in Nace. Jim just declared himself to be a 1st level ranger and needed better supplies, so Melvin joined him on a shopping excursion.

The players were given several hints that something was amiss, and everyone but Jaime went to check out the "problem". The denizens of Villa quickly came to the conclusion (click for last pre-session update) that Guilbert should be sent north for trial and execution. Ortaire would be quick marched south to Nace for a mini-Triumph then sold in to slavery.

The four raiders in town were not too pleased by this. Ortaire could rat them out. The elven warband also encountered the sad Triumph over Ortaire, and were thinking of doing something about when Megen noticed them.

The players have an issue with this campaign in respect to the status of non-humans. They have been told elves and dwarves are evil enemies, but they just don't believe it. I decided to let fun and intrigue rule the day and the elves bolted as soon as she pointed them out. The players pursued them using a set of racing min-rules I invented. It was a chase as opposed to combat, which both amused and frustrated the players. It made them believe that the elves were shadowy antagonists without ham-fisting it. The players are probably not inclined to kill off elves for the heck of it, like most citizens of the Empire, which is fine by me. But now they are wary of them.

In the meantime, several other events occurred. All of the characters met up at Five Tree Hill just in time for the wagons to arrive. The raiders also came to Five Tree Hill to see if they could recruit help to free Ortaire by force or maybe just kill him to keep him quiet. Neither was a good plan for the raiders.


In the final act, the characters had not identified the raiders as such, but believed they were cut-purses or something and watched them closely. At this point, all players were playing their main character plus at least one NPC. It takes a load off of me, plus they seem to protect the NPC's better than I do. 

Queue up the finale. The Coven of Ash are the self-appointed defenders of the Empire. They are much higher level than the characters. I figure, why would a high level antagonist hide from the player characters when they have an advantage? This is the opposite of respect and should be every big-bad's operational standard. 

The Coven has walked right into the midst of the party, invisibly. As the party passed near the raiders, Caecilia, the youngest of the 3 witches, dropped her invisibility to cast Stinking Cloud on the raiders. Her intent was to set up the party as aggressors against the town and cause them all kinds of problems when they try to re-enter Nace. 

The Coven knows who and what the raiders are and thinks of them as useful pawns. They also know that the player characters are agents of the Emperor. And the Emperor intends to upset the "natural order of Empire", which cannot be allowed. 

We rolled for surprise. Guess what? 6 siders either hate me or love me*. No one was surprised by Caecilia. The player covering Melvin was living it up by doing some real role-play. He was eating an apple with a knife and managed to hit Caecilia before she could cast. 


Foiled, the other two witches helped Caecilia escape by invisibly tormenting the players, guards and raiders. The guards and raiders lost morale and slammed the gates shut. The players managed to convince them to open up, but only after suffering several rounds of invisible high jinx at the hands of the witches. Wails, loud claps and pokes sent the oxen into a tizzy and annoyed the players.  

The party ended the session in front of a warm fire at the inn, with mugs of beverages to sooth their nerves. The players seemed both frazzled and amused. 

*I have a bad time with surprise dice, but this outcome was even better than the one I planned. I can't wait for the next session. 

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Meet The New Antagonists - The Coven of Ash

For tonight's session, I added a few more problems for the players. These three self-styled witches are dangerous magic users


Looking at the pre-generated character lists, I am missing druids, illusionists and assassins. Druids and Illusionist are coming soon, but assassins will only appear as a historical footnote. In this campaign, the Praetorian Guard was made up of regular soldiers under the leadership and guidance of assassins. The Coven of Ash is a collection of magic users that believe they can do the Guard's job better with magic. 

About 3 years ago, all of the assassins were eliminated by the Coven. The city of Nace recorded 37 dead in just 7 days. Exactly how this happened was a mystery. The main headquarters was the focal point of these attacks, but the last several bodies were found in the Temple to Jupiter. These witches know no bounds. 

The Coven has the same purpose of the Praetorian Guard, except they answer to no one or no thing except the concept of Empire. The do not take orders from the Emperor, as he is only human. The Coven strives protect the Empire against all threats, foreign and domestic, with dark magic and terror.  

In reality, our plucky heroes didn't
 come close to landing a hit.
After a close call with the Coven and the Elven warband, the heroes knocked heads with the raiders failing to lay low in town. 

Session Updates - Level Up and Kit Up

The party is now in 4 groups. Felix, Felice, Gurwinder and Rona will arrive by wagon my lunch time. Melvin, Jim, Megen, Matilda and Jaime arrived by horse at the end of the last session. Melvin and Jim have gone off to acquire new equipment for Jim as he is now a 1st level ranger. Megen and Matilda are exploring the town while Jaime is getting lunch for the party. The plan is to meet up at Five Tree Hill at lunch time.

Megen, Matilda, Jim, and Rona have all leveled up last session. The players will check out their new character abilities and proceed from there. You can click the link to see the PDF file.



I have also created a reasonable list of provisions in the wagons, as record keeping became a nightmare last session. I believe the party somehow acquired an extra horse. Not sure, but it is now official, they have two wagons, 4 oxen, and 6 horses. The players don't seem to be abusing their character sheets, so I'm letting this one go. They don't need six horses and perhaps don't realize they have that many. It seems they gave Gurwinder a horse to search for the raiders last session, but now she's riding on the wagons like a captain of a fleet of ships.

They'll have a chance to obtain new horses and such in town. The players don't seem to be making a distinction between horses, but by my records, they have 3 riding horses, a medium war horse and 2 draft horses.

As a gag, I plan on firing up my old Mac and letting the players play a little bit of Oregon Trail. That should be fun.



If the numbers seem right, I'll let them obtain provisions like this. They need more Oxen and a few wheels. :)

I have to run. I need to generate some raiders and a couple of witches.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Campaign So Far

Last session, mistakes were made. The raider party was not much of a combat, it was a just an opportunity to chew up NPCs and scenery.

Here is the set up for tomorrow. First, Guilbert and Ortaire surrendered themselves at the Villa. Guilbert was outmatched and Ortaire was exhausted. There is no more fight in either of them. The players got some information out of them, but decided they were safe to leave behind for the Empire's justice.


The elven war band is still out there. They were hampered by their uniforms, so they stole some clothes from the Villa, plus a horse.

Horses have become a record keeping nightmare for me. The players seem to absconded with too many horses, so at their next stop, I will present them with a livestock auction so they get the animals they need and dispense with the ones they don't. They swiped horses from the raiders and the elves, then lost some to the Guilbert. Now I am convinced they have two too many. We'll fix that with some auction fun. The characters are flush with cash.

The raiders are just as scattered as the characters and the elves. So, let's get everyone together.

Step one, the elves flinched some stuff from the Villa and have entered Nace ahead of the characters. They are doing about as well at disguise as Spock, Capatin Kirk and Bones but no one has noticed them yet. The elven sloop is in the south, marked in green on the map. It is too far away to help, even if they had more troops, which they don't. I'll give them all something to do in a moment.

There are five raiders in or around Nace. One is going home to never again venture off the farm. His farm is the small structure on the right hand side of the map. It's isn't important, I'm OCD. We'll likely never hear from him again. The four raiders in town have been drinking themselves stupid. Their ship is marked in red, so it's of no help to them. Let's have them join the elves.

Guilbert and Ortaire were back at the Villa the last time the player saw them. Justice was swift. Guilbert is on his way north to the Capital for torture and execution if he doesn't come up with a plan. He has a plan. He is pretending to be a much high rank than he is and will happily make up anything he can to save his neck. This got Ortaire's neck out a noose. Ortaire has been taken to Nace for a mini-triumph. He is being paraded around on a donkey and will be auctioned off a slave as soon as the humiliation gets old.

(Remember, the Emperor is NOT into slavery and he is the only person who can declare a Triumph, so heads are going to roll over this. Luckily, his agents, the player characters are on hand. Maybe they'll do his will or maybe he can spin whatever happens to his will. The Emperor really needs a name because he is turning out to an ex post facto, arch-machiavellian, super Amadeus.)

Queue up the 3 elves and 4 raiders. The elves hate slavery and the raiders are horrified by the capture of their friend. Both groups are going to attempt a rescue. The characters will become embroiled in the mini-triumph over Ortaire and will definitely meet the raiders and the elves.

Maybe, everyone will wear disguises. Wouldn't that be fun?

Aligning the Stars and Setting the Stage

Last session, the players romped all over the raiders then chewed scenery. I totally lost track of both real time and game time and probably let them do too much. This caused the party to be fragmented, with half at the gates of Nace and the other half still traveling with the wagons.


To get around any sort of headaches, I'll start the session at Five Tree Hill. It's a location just outside the Eastern gates. The "hill" is actually the slope to the city, so it is lower than the gates, but still dry.  As you can see, I have revamped much of my map to look more Roman.

Just inside the gates, there is an inn, a stable, water on the outskirts of the city. Food is also available at the Inn. Five Tree Hill is a convenient meeting spot for travelers. It's a large open area marked out by some arrowroot trees. The guards keep this trees pruned, so they don't interfere with the defenses of the town. No camping is allowed, but a lot of people grab a meal here while waiting for news, deliveries or friends. It's a good place to find a walking stick and swap gossip.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Well... that was different. Campaign update.

Alright, nothing went as I expected. For what I expected, see this post.

The mission was to escort the bodies of the dead to Nace. That part was initially unsuccessful due to a great number of injuries to the party but they got the job done in the end.

The dice went in the party's favor, especially the 6 siders. They were unsurprised by the raider's ambush, which was devastating to the raiders. The party lead on every roll of initiative for the whole combat.

(I was expecting a fun run back to the Villa, with the characters picking off raiders. Nope, didn't happen like that.)

Gurwinder and Cassia let off a volley of natural 20 arrows, which left 3 of 4 of the horse riding bandits dead. One poor guy was super dead as Cassia and Gurwinder rolled 20s and 6s, one time each. The fourth raider on horseback stopped in his tracks.

Our strategic map. The black marks in the middle are coffee
or the blood of dead raiders... not sure which. 
Jim and Jaime were riding on the right side of the wagons (left side of the map) and totally sidestepped the slingers first volley. Gurwinder, Felix and Megan were hit. Cassius took an a single arrow for double damage... and shrugged it off.

In the next round, things went nuts. Jaime was taken off his horse by a swipe from a two-handed sword as the two raiders stepped out the treeline. Ortaire, the only surviving thief turned tail and ran off with Jim in pursuit. The oxen were hit by sling stones, which caused the wagons to slam to a stop as the oxen tried to back up.

Into the next round, the raiders tried to get on the wagons. Guilbert hit Rona with a bastard sword, nearly killing her. Flortina and Jim, the zero level humans, fired arrows into everything except the targets. Cassius went hand to hand with one of the raiders, downing him immediately. Gurwinder took another down, while Megan and Matilda got kicked around. Interestingly, all of the action came from the right hand side of the map, but the melee type players were confused and thought the main action was to the left.

The theater of the trash heap, or when
you don't have minis for your players. 
In the fourth round, things weren't looking good for the raiders. Cassius and Jaime downed another raider each, while Cassia and Gurwinder pin cushioned three more. Guilbert decided he had enough and took Jaime's horse and booked it. Megan and Matilda got a piece of him, but not enough to stop him. Jim spotted Guilbert galloping up behind him and thought he was being set up. Ortaire got away, with Guilbert not far behind as Jim gave up the chase.

The fifth round was mop up time. Not much to clean up as two of the raiders made it off the map on horseback.

Megan, Rona, Felix, Gurwinder and Cassius were down to a single hit point each at the end of the fight, so the party returned to the Villa to recuperate. They planned to try again in the morning.

I had an encounter with the 3 elves planned, but everyone was so low on hit points, I replaced it with the surrender of the some of the raiders. It was supposed to be for humor, but it would have turned deadly quickly. The player of Gurwinder took control of Rona, while the other NPCs were divvied up between the other players.

By morning, Guilbert and Ortaire showed up at the Villa to surrender themselves. They traded information on the remaining raiders, and search parties are combing the area to the north of the Villa. The raider's information is not especially helpful. Guilbert doesn't know one raider has gone home and doesn't know any of the raiders made it to Nace. They had thought the information would be enough for a pardon, but Rona nixed that idea with a powerful speech. At least for Guilbert. Ortaire never got a chance to attack anyone, so he might escape with a slap on the wrist.

The second foray to Nace was successful and uneventful. The party attended the funeral but had to leave for the Villa to return the honor guard. On the way, they rounded up most of the raider's horses and did a bit of healing.

Briefly, using the horses, the party joined in the search for the missing raiders. They spotted the lone raider hoofing it home but didn't recognize him as anyone important. He'll probably go back to turnip farming. Ortaire and Gil are on their way north to the Capital, to face whatever justice they find. The Villa is still abuzz with changes and excitement. The party, after returning the honor guard to the Villa, started making their way back to Nace. They arrived by morning on horseback, but the wagons will be a bit behind.

The Eastern Gate of the City of Nace. 
Next adventure, Jim becomes a Ranger. This is a relief to the party, because he had a handful health and was riding point far too much. Megan's player will be taking Jim's character as a second. She doesn't like how swashbucklers work a low levels. She'll be playing two characters for now.


Saturday, November 30, 2019

The Raider War Band


The Raider War Band is waiting for the PC's party to the Southeast of the Villa. There are 7 fighters and 3 thieves. The 3 thieves are mounted and have been hunting for food. Ortaire has been keeping everyone fed with his bow skills, but is running out of arrows.

Albé and Guilbert are the only mounted fighters. Guilbert is one of the younger raiders, but has risen to be the nominal leader of the war band thanks to his high Charisma. All three thieves have short bows as does Warren. Raglan, Albé, Frédéris and Guilbert have slings.

One square is 10 yards.
Guilbert has selected a bend in the road to ambush the party. His plan is to hide the sling armed raiders on the right side of the road with the two melee only fighters on the other side. The horse mounted bow men will charge at the party, which will be the signal for the slingers to attack the oxen. That will allow the bowmen to dismount and attack from the front.

Click the link for a PDF of the 10 characters.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

The Honor Guard

The players were not supposed to court any retainers or followers at the Villa. However, due to circumstances beyond their control, they will have an honor guard traveling with them until they reach Nace.

Cassia, Florentina and Lucius have been selected from the ranks of villagers by the Emperor to escort the two accused to justice and then lay their master and mistress to rest. All are slaves that were instrumental in operating the Villa del Vino successfully.

Lucius is an elderly man, however he is a former gladiator. He has a head for accounting. He is in his late 60's but is still powerful. His daughter-in-law is Florentina, the head woman of the villa's mill and presses. Her husband died many years ago and she is representing him. The final member of the honor guard is Cassia, the master's mistress and bodyguard. She was horribly beaten during the raid, but was also responsible for scattering the other villagers before she was incapacitated. She has given a statement that could free or condemn the accused murderers.

Rona has healed Cassia as much as she is able to. Gurwinder has encouraged the woman to take up her master's bow, which is a +2 weapon. Cassia laments not having it during the attack, as she is a deadly archer.

The honor guard will travel with the party several miles north to hand over the prisoners. They will then return to the Villa and transport the Master's family to it's final resting place in Nace. This is a little trickery on the Emperor's part. He wants the bodies of the family removed from the Villa proper, but also honored in a major city so that when he replaces them with his own leadership, no one will have a reminder of the former Master.

NPC stats will have to be generated for these characters as they will respond to any encounters with the enemy with lethal force, for vengeance. These will be loaded to the Pregenerated character lists when time permits.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Who's Out There - Post Twoth

Twoth by sea. Who is out on the water ways?

The elven schooner and the raider ship. The elven schooner put 3 elven warriors ashore and left to go chart the comings and goings of ship of the Empire. The Schooner has a problem as the raider's ship has been ghosting them.

The raiders have a spy and informant network on the shore and believes that the schooner is the source of a power band of warriors who hit them at the Villa del Vino. Well, that's not true at all. The party captured two, killed 3 and the remaining men are scattered to the winds. They know the sea and the coastline, but have poor land navigation skills.

The raiders have a myoparo, a ship with 15 rowers and a crew of 55 men who are also raiders. Most of the rowers are slaves but some of the younger, inexperienced raiders also man the oars. The real crew is less than a quarter of everyone on board.

The raiders believe that the schooner has inflicted all the casualties on their crew, which they count as 25. In reality, only 5 are dead, three are horribly lost and wandering eastward on to the plains and the last two were captured. There are three groups of raiders prowling the area, each unaware of the others. Technically, most of the raiders are not lost, they merely don't know where the others are.

There is a group of 5 men on foot, northwest of the Villa del Vino. They are busy dodging patrols. In actuality, these "patrols" are runners bring news back and forth from the Capital to the Villa. They would like to reach the shore, but keep getting forced into the trees due north of the Villa.

There is a tiny group of 4 that has wandered in to the city of Nace. They are currently drinking themselves silly, believing that the Empire's assassins are on their tail. They couldn't be more wrong.

The third group is southeast of the Villa, waiting to bushwack anyone coming south. There are 10 men, half on foot and half on stolen horses. They have seen their myoparo come and go several times, but they believe that they can catch some or all of the slaves fleeing the Villa. Unfortunately for the raiders, the people of the Villa are now heroes surrounded by real heroes, namely the PC party. They won't be fleeing anywhere and the PC party will encounter these guys soon. So could the elven war party, which could make things interesting.

The last raider is walking home, to his farm.

Meanwhile, back on the myoparo, there are only 35 raiders and 10 slave rowers. All of the inexperienced raider/rowers have gotten lost on shore. Since the ship needs 15 rowers, the older raiders are pulling double duty and are very angry about this. Words have been said that can't be taken back and violence will erupt if they don't find something else to fight. So far, the only thing they have seen small enough to engage is the elven schooner. Things are getting dangerous on the ship, for everyone, except possibly the slave rowers.

(Hey, that adds up to 17 raiders... I am updating the numbers to add to 25.)

Who's Out There?

Ok, the characters are not all alone out there. These are 6 mile hexes, so there are a lot of unfriendly forces hanging out.

Closest to the party resting at the Villa del Vino is an NPC party. This group is unusual as they are made up of 3 elven spies/warriors. Eirien, Liscë and Turu have a couple of problems they need to solve.

They aren't supposed to make contact with anyone as they are spies. But they are wearing military uniforms. They were dumped off just south of the Fortezza Port di Nace during rough weather, because the horses were going crazy. The schooner that dropped them off is tailing ships and marking the tides. The spies are zig zagging the area making maps and avoiding people. They started with 3 horses but lost one, so they are in trouble. This is one of the horses found by the player characters. They don't realize it's an elven horse. 

The elves have spotted Jim, Felice and Felix riding their horse, exploring the area around the Villa. They intend to take the horse back. Elven horses are supposed to respond to a whistle. It should throw any unfriendly rider and return to the owner. Except Jim has been feeding the horse apples galore and the horse now believes Jim is his owner, so it doesn't respond to Turu's calls.

Jim is a zero level character and scout, so he hasn't noticed these calls. In fact, he has walked right by the elves several times.

Plan B. Solve two problems at once. Knock Jim off the horse and steal his clothes. One of the elves will get a horse while someone gets a non-military outfit. Jim's clothes are not much of a disguise, but at least they are not military uniforms.

They do know that Jim has a bow and that he is kind to the horse. He is also not much of a scout, as he has trotted by them several times. They will use Shield to protect themselves from the bow and try to use Floating Disk to prevent Jim from cracking his head. They think they can overpower him and rob him without killing him.

We shall see.

Why hasn't the schooner come back? I'll cover that in the next post.

The Misunderstandings So Far

It looks like we'll get in a game session this weekend. The whole thing petered out two months ago, so I need to refresh myself with what is happening.

The Emperor's Council hired the players to head south and gather intelligence on a Keep. The Council was willing to pay the characters 1d6x100 each for this mission. Additionally, the characters were supposed to buy a ship using 4000 gps cash and a script for 36,000. The ship should be left at the southern port as reinforcement.

What actually happened was, no one mentioned the ship, the characters thought that the 40,000 gps was their pay and that more money will come after the adventure. Since 40,000 gps was put on the table from the get-go, the party thinks the reward will be on the order of 100's of thousands of coin.

The party purchased a modest 1,400 gps worth of supplies, pack animals, horses and wagons using the 4,000 coins they were given. Additionally, they are flashing around the Emperor's signature at the bottom of the script, like it means something more. Most people they have met believe that this IOU from the Emperor is some sort of warrant, order or title. They can't or don't want to read it.

The party has no idea that this is the general interpretation of an IOU letter in the Emperor's hand. They believe they are honoring the deal to the best of their ability and people want to help them.

The Council is a bit confused by all of this. Since the players never inquired as to their pay, the Council believes that they are dealing with professional, super-patriots. There has been some back and forth about either not paying them at all, killing them off or rewarding them handsomely with titles, land, military ranks and duties, etc.

The Council also believes the party is traveling by ship. Because of this misunderstanding, when the characters attacked the raiders at the Villa, the Council believe that the party destroy an enemy ship and killed as many as 100 raiders, not merely 5 guys left to fend for themselves. The captured raiders are rare prize. In the intervening weeks, the Council has received mixed messages from the Villa, which they find suspicious, but continue to believe the characters are on a ship.

The view from on high is not any less confused, but IS slightly better.

The primary reason for human/demihuman antagonism is human slavery. To the Elves and Dwarves, humans are evil because of their culture of slavery. They are only slightly better than the horde of sea-faring raiders who take and use slaves. Since the raider are mostly human, there is little reason for demihumans to look for differences. If this could be settled, the détente with the demihumans could turn to a real peace.

If only there was a way for the Empire to flip a switch and end slavery. The Emperor is willing, but there is too much societal momentum for him to simply command this. What he needs is an opportunity to unleash the manumission sects in the Empire, without setting up a palace coup.

Well, one good thing has happened. The master of the Villa was no friend to the Emperor. The man had hundreds of slaves on several farms around the port towns. Now that he and his whole family is dead, the Emperor has ordered the council to set up several more manors or villas in the area, operated by freedmen. This had been tried before, but each one failed because they couldn't compete with free labor. He has also ordered all the Master's slaves freed, for their service in the defense of the Empire. Thanks to the raiders and the PC's conflict, the Emperor now has a freedman foothold just south of the Capital.

The Emperor himself has taken personal interest in the battle for the Villa, the accused murderers Stephano and Trinculo and perhaps a Triumph for himself if they are convicted. Oddly, the Emperor is fair and good, so Stephano and Trinculo could be found innocent, which would make them a valuable set of prisoners as they are still thieves and brigands. Exactly which is better is a matter of point of view. If the party can continue to kill raiders and slavers, make promises they can't keep and complete the mission, the Emperor should come up smelling like roses.

Next, post: The Slowing of the Party.

The destinations, Tabletop, the Compass Rose Inn and Victory. 

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Session Update - Save Vs. Disease

My players, their children have all failed their saving throws vs. disease. Another session will buy it due to cold and flu season.

So this weekend I want to try something different. I want to do an inked action scene on 14"x17". I normally work on images no larger than 8x11. I started laying it out. Excuse the low quality phone images. This doesn't fit in the scanner.


I have 3 characters converging on a central character.

The lightly drawn figure on the right is an archer readying a shot. She is wearing a pallas, a sort of cloth garment worn over a toga.

The figure on the left has been blindslided with a bolt of energy. She is not quiet on the ground. She will be wearing a gown and doesn't appear to be a typical combatant.

The third foreground character is a man with a sword and buckler or target shield.

The woman in the middle is a magic user with some interesting magical items and powers. First, she has a custom spell called "Disruption". It is very much like a magic missile, except it does 1d4 per shot, shots can hit any living or non-living thing with a to hit roll. It never increases in power, but the number available increases every two levels instead of three. She does not wear any "protective" magic, per se. She wears a wolverine pelt, with an intact skull as a stole. It can be commanded to attack, making defense rather moot. I have only hinted this magic item with a snaking line through the middle of the sketch.


I'm not sure if this is the one I will be working with. I think I can find some images which will help me get the proportions correct. Something is very wrong with the bow right now and I should have drawn a horizon line first.

Not bad for a first shot at something I've never tried before.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Campaign Session 3 - The Party So Far

My embronic idea for the Peninsula of Plenty Map
Alright, I have reached out to all of my players and we decided to skip next week's session, too. Everyone has some sort of ick or children are down due to illness. For the time being, I am taking suggestions from the party by text and email. The whole party is convinced they need to hang out at the villa to get them back up and running again. 

Just to recap, the party arrived at a manor or villa just after a raid. They killed a small patrol of raiders in short order and have two raiders as prisoners. Gurwinder and Rona dislike captives, but have not killed these two fools because of the location. They figure enough law and order exist right now that they can leave them be. 


Our current map of the Peninsula of Plenty.
There have been many changes since first conceived.
I have been instructed that the party is attending to the needs of the villagers until help arrives. We are assuming one day passes for every week of game play at the moment. 

The whole party is good or lawful. Matilda is more neutral good and is a bit punchy. Gurwinder and Rona are grimly practical, despite being good. They hate raiders, with good reason. The entire party is rather cosmopolitan when it comes to race, displaying none of the typical attributes of average citizens of the Empire. In this campaign, the Empire is on the verge of war with the Elves and Dwarves. Halfling Tribes started appearing recently from over the northern mountains, flooding the area of like a barbarian horde. The Empire is actually terrified of the Little People. 

While I am honoring the timeline set out by the players via email and text, I have some rather rude surprises for them. 

Here is a list of the Player Characters: 

Matilda the Knife - Swashbuckler, Human, 1st level
Megen the Ruffian - Swashbuckler, Human, 2nd level
Jaime the Fearsome - Fighter, Human, 2nd Level
Gurwinder A’flumine - Fighter, Human, 2nd Level

In case you are wondering, the swashbuckler character class is one of my own creations. You can grab it at DriveThruRPG. They are Errol Flynn types and are aggressive combatants but bad at killing. 

The party also has a whole band of support characters in tow, whom are the subject of this post. Or is that who is the subject of this post? I don't know.

Rona the wisewoman - Cleric, Human, 1st Level, NPC
Melvin the Wise - Magic User, Halfling, 1st level, NPCFelix  - Human, 1 level commoner NPC
Felice - Human, 1 level commoner NPC
Jim the Scout - Human, 1 level commoner NPC

I have another book about Uncommon Commoners, which is also available at DriveThruRPG. 

You can download the complete party rooster in PDF form here. This list of characters has not been updated with current equipment. It is only a taste of what is happening. 

I am trying to make the NPCs conform to something realistic. Rona and Melvin have classes, so they will engage in combat despite not being very good. Felix and Felice will NOT engage in combat, except to protect each other. They are horrible at combat. Felix and Felice have wandering into this traveling circus by accident and are hoping to make enough cash to retire and start a family. Jim the Scout is foolhardy and brave. The party has him on horseback, hoping the horse will protect him from his desire to get into a fight. He has 2 hp but is well on his way to becoming a fighter or perhaps a ranger.  

The party has buried two other NPCs and has a strong desire not to do that again, so they are conforming to my idea of keeping the NPCs away from danger. Melvin is an avowed coward, but he has good ideas. He is also a halfling, which is a hated race in the Empire, so the party is keep him close for his own good. Rona is very old and dislikes travel by horseback. She views the PCs and their wagons as a godsend. Felix, Gurwinder and Jim all take turns cooking, since the death of the cook. Jim is best at it, while Gurwinder is a survival nut and wants the party well provisioned and fed at all times. 

It's a cool party dynamic. 

While the players are hanging out at the villa, I know they are thinking about taking on more NPC followers. The villa can't support that due to loses and I have planted the suggestion that they not make any attempts here. What would probably happen is, the whole pack of villagers will follow them to Nace then bail on the party in favor of safety. Nace is loaded with adventurer types and is a far better place to find skilled help.  

Saturday, September 7, 2019

3rd Session Preview Part 2 - Tyranny's End.

This week's update can be blamed on a mistimed cold and an unfortunate swimming adventure. School started back up this week on Tuesday which meant I needed to catch a summer cold on Monday, so I would be completely ready for school. By this morning, I was having trouble breathing regularly, so off to the doctors. I am taking a course of steroids plus some other stuff to fend off the pneumonia and help with laryngitis. In retrospect, swimming with my class on Thursday was not a good idea.

My next gaming session has been delayed until I can speak again. 

So, let me tell you more about the city of Nace. In the previous post, I detailed the Forum and the two insula due south of the center of the city. Today's post is about the first section of the city built, the only two insula surrounded by walls. 

The Empire has herbal products which are not only unique to it, but are the basis of their competitive exports. Verbena is a magic herb that will stanch all wounds, restoring 1d4 hit points. Emperor's Valerian is a deep purple flower that will cure blindness and head injuries, including lost eyes. Flaming Yarrow is the third herb produced solely by the Empire. It restores damaged and decayed teeth, reduces fever and if prepared correctly, can induce sleep. 

These magical plants require a magical ecology to grow. When the town moved from the port to this location, the first insula to be constructed were the magical gardens. Each garden area is protected by a low, 4 foot wall and four arches as entry points. Since these are the only insula in the town with walls of any kind, they are called Palisade North and Palisade South. Collectively, they are called Tyranny's End.  

The North Palisades
The North Palisades contains 3 manor houses or villas for the families who cultivate herb crops in the two gardens, in addition to a small grove of trees to support the growth of mistletoe. The gardens have tiny non-functional houses or follies, to represent a small farm. They are maintained as if they were real as this is a part of the magic of this place.
The South Palisades 
The South Palisades is much the same, except there are 3 houses and one shrine. The Shrine is a memorial to the Defender of the Port Gardens, the druid responsible for maintaining the weather inside the original gardens. Her entire line perished protecting the gardens when they were located in The Fortezza Port di Nace. Without their sacrifice, the largest gardens for these sacred planets would have been destroyed. The new Druid lives in a stone structure at the southeast corner of the South Palisades. 

This druid and her kin employ magics beyond what spellcasters can imagine. To support the gardens, everything except the weather must free within the boundaries of the Palisades. This is the origin of the name "Tyranny's End". 

The walls are not a defense for the gardens, but a warning. The weather is always controlled to the needs of the plants. This would be danger enough inside the confines of the town, but the druid's authority over the weather requires a sacrifice of all other worldly control within the walls. Any agreement wrought by man can be ended here. Emperors have come to the garden to abdicate. Any slave that enters the walls are immediately freed. If horses or other beasts enter, they are no longer the property of anyone. Arranged marriages can be nullified here, but never marriages of the heart or conscience. 

There are interesting cases where animals enter and then return to owners of their own free will. Some of the most epic tales of the Empire revolve around couples attempting to end an arranged marriage here only to find one, the other, or both really loves their partner. If these couples stay together, blessed by the gardens with fame and fortune. 

There is a legal issue for slave owners entering the walls. The magic will instantly set all of their slaves free. Sometimes the owner and slave will receive the same blessing as the couples mentioned above. Technically, it is illegal for a slave owner to set all of his slaves free all at once, but if he or she receives no apparent benefit to it, a blind eye is turned. However, many Usurpers has attempted to reroll fate by setting vast numbers of slaves free. If that becomes apparent, the punishment is always death. 

For slaves entering the gardens, the circumstances are different. If they were ordered to do it by their master, that slave becomes a free client of the former master, a nearly familial relationship where favors are traded back and forth. If the slave enters the garden to escape a cruel master, the authorities will view all that that former slave's statements as absolute fact and WILL legally pursue the master, usually to the most extreme limits of the law. This fact causes the slaveholders of Nace to act on their best behavior. 

There are very few cases where a slave would accidentally enters the gardens. In those rare instances, if the former slave asks forgiveness and it is accepted, they become an adopted family member to the master and both receive a title and small stipend from the Emperor. If the master does not accept the apology then the former slave may, at his or her choice, enter the household of the Emperor as a paid servant or enter the military. This is where the Empire gains many of their trusted messengers. The alternative choice of military service grants a low officer rank. If the slave refuses to ask for forgiveness, he or she is still free but exiled from Nace. The masters of the gardens may provision this person as they see fit, but they cannot accept anything from anyone else in the city. 

The six houses that care for these lands are made up of both hereditary post holders and those who have enter the gardens in an effort to end some sort of loss. Many a widow, orphan and widower have entered the gardens seeking to end the heartache of loss and find salvation in service to these houses. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

3rd Session Preview - A History of a Town

Welcome back for a preview of my campaign's third session. We are using pre-generated characters for this campaign and the assumption is that they have been up and down the coast, so none of this is secret DM information. 

The Fortezza Port di Nace started off as a town, but one hurricane too many sent the townspeople fleeing northward to a more protected location. Their intention was to rebuild the whole town of Nace. That did and did not happen. The town of Nace is set somewhat back from the sea, and as a consequence is not a port town. 

The Fortezza Port di Nace was supported by the Empire, even through massive population shifts and has grown even bigger than the town that once supported it. The Fortress has become a more industrialized site while Nace proper has become a fiera or Fair town boasting traders from all over the empire. This homely setting is more conducive to civilian life than the militarized fortress port. 


I have begun sketching out the main area of the town, starting with the Forum.


Directly to the south of the Forum is the Thermae, or public baths. The Thermae's insula also has one very expensive villa house. Being the oldest part of the city, the remaining apartments, houses and shops are are merely the first in the area, not the best.

Scattered through out Insula 2 are various stationaries. A stationary is a shop with a fixed location, specializing in books, scrolls and parchments. The close proximity to the forum allows these shopowners access to priests, mages and other who can work magic, which is necessary for creating spellbooks. Many artists and illuminators reside in this insula. There is no other place like this in the city.


Much of this post draws upon the excellent book City by David Macaulay and is fused with Kevin Stroud's History of English Podcast, episode 106. 

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Second Session Update - Who Knew What and When?

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

Again.

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.

Friday, August 30, 2019

#RPGaDay2019 - Familiar/Obscure - Tonight's Recap

I have the good ol' pregame jitters tonight as I get ready for another D&D session. Feels familiar.

Let's recap what is happening. In the last recap, the players nearly wiped but recovered nicely. On the map below, they are at the blue crossed swords. They intend to run down the coastline to that small settlement. 


The party moves at 2 hexes a day, perhaps a bit faster on a road. You can review the party's state here.

Now for the obscure part of the post.

Last time I posted 5 numbers: 28, 53, 58, 52, and 10. They are from a particular random encounter table and 28 is Wild Horses. The first thing the party will encounter is two horses running by, followed by a third with a saddle and bridle.

This is where tonight's story starts. Check back tomorrow to see how it goes.
 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Letting the Dice Tell the Story

Welcome to the land of Misfit Toys!
I wasn't expecting my party to go all Oregon Trail on me. I had a brigand warship waiting for them, but now that won't happen on the plains.

So what's next? Time to roll some dice. 28, 53, 58, 52, and 10. I should play those numbers. If I win the lottery, the mystery will never be solved, because we'll be in Disney before the next session.

(I wonder, does anyone play D&D in Disney World?)

Anyway, I am sort of dying for Friday night, because these five rolls told me what will happen next. I think the players will be pleasantly surprised. I was.

The First Game Session for Peninsula of Plenty - Beyond the Pale

Fits and starts. I planned this campaign in the spirit of X1 Isle of Dread. The players were gathered together, given the premise, then selected from a series of pre-generated characters (which are all available in the tab above). The goal was to travel from the Capital on the west coast, to a town on the south coast. The Emperor's Council needs intelligence, and sending a party down there was the best option. Simple.
Here is the party at the start:

Melvin the Wise - Magic User, Halfling, 1st level
Matilda the Knife - Swashbuckler, Human, 1st level
Megen the Ruffian - Swashbuckler, Human, 2nd level
Jaime the Fearsome - Fighter, Human, 2nd Level

Not a cleric to be seen. The party wasn't done provisioning themselves, they hired a cook, a hunter as a scout, and a laborer. Then we got to the part where they were to hire a ship. Or so I thought.

It turns out, that in reflecting on the Council's directions to head south, no one mentioned a ship. Not me, not the characters. So the characters used all of their Council provided funds to buy two wagons, hired some NPCs and a bunch of horses. We've gone from Isle of Dread, to Oregon Trail.

Well, I am nothing but adaptable.

The characters decided to proceed south as quick as they could. I mentioned that an inn at the edge of town would be a great place to rest up, have a few drinks and maybe try to pick up a few more party members or NPCs.

No.

Out the gate they went. 5 miles outside the palisades, they made camp. This is exactly what "beyond the pale" means.

The players are sort of wily. It turns out that the wagons have small stoves, tons of rope and wood,  bedrolls and a supply of fuel. They parked the wagons 30 feet from each other, drove in some posts and corralled the horses between them. Water bags and feed bags were hung off the side of wagons for the horses. And decided to sleep in the wagons. Efficient as heck.

Since they lost the opportunity to hire more people, I decided that two of the other candidates were making the same journey and would catch up shortly. In the morning, the party spotted them on the road, and decided to wait.

That when the evil random encounter started. Uninhabited/Wilderness Table, die roll of 02, brown bears. Two brown bears.

Game on.

Jaime and the scout were making their way back towards town to round up the stragglers, on horseback. Melvin, the cook and the laborer were in one wagon, while Matilda and Megen were harnessing the other horses to the wagons.

The bears bushedwacked the first two horses as Matilda leapt into Melvin's wagon and Megen hopped into the other wagon. Matilda stabbed one in the head. As the first bear mauled both horses to death, the second tried to get Matilda. She stabbed him again, while Melvin missed. The wizard got a good bite for his effort and collapsed, seeming dead. The cook went down, next.

Matilda and the laborer went for the other wagon as the bears milled around. For several rounds, the bears milled about deciding to eat the dead horses rather than chase the characters to the other wagon.
 
Jaime came thundering on his horse and began to accost the bears. Megen jumped on the other horse and joined him. Two rounds later, Jaime's horse was dead and he had taken a good hit. Jaime and Megen took refuge under Matilda's wagon. It was beginning to look like a total party kill was in the works.

Thankfully, Jaime's foresight saved the day. He sent the scout ahead to get the two trailing NPC's: Rona and Gurwinder. He dropped Gurwinder off some distance away and went back for Rona without provoking the bears.

Before Jim the Scout could get back with the cleric, Gurwinder and the rest of the party trapped the bears between long range missile fire and rear attacks. Since the party had the cover of the wagon, Gurwinder could shoot the bears in the back with little chance of hitting friendlies. The repeating flanking attacks melted the bears AC away and they were done in just three rounds. 

Click to enlarge. Blue crossed
swords indicate party position.  
At the end of the day, the party lost 1 laborer, 3 horses, Chef and Melvin. Melvin didn't die, he just wants to go home. His player now wants to play Gurwinder, instead.

Ok, fine by me.

Under Gurwinder's direction, the party took one wagon back to town, sold the bear and horse meat along with their pelts. They paid burial expenses for the cook and laborer. With the additional funds from the kills, they obtained two drovers to drive the wagons and care for the horses. They are a husband and wife team, Felix and Felice. They also bought 2 horses, one for Jaime and one Megen, and four oxen to pull the wagons. Matilda, Rona and Gurwinder don't ride (by choice), so Jim the Scout has the last horse.

The party has now agreed to head to the next town with the intention of picking up a healer or another cleric and missile weaponry for everyone. They also desire either a pair of ponies or smaller horses for the shorter characters (Gurwinder and Melvin), plus more oxen. The next settlement is 18-20 miles away, the next small town is a little more than 30 miles away.

Here is the party as of now:

Melvin the Wise - Magic User, Halfling, 1st level, NPC
Matilda the Knife - Swashbuckler, Human, 1st level
Megen the Ruffian - Swashbuckler, Human, 2nd level
Jaime the Fearsome - Fighter, Human, 2nd Level
Rona the wisewoman - Cleric, Human, 1st Level, NPC
Gurwinder A’flumine - Fighter, Human, 2nd Level
Jim the Scout - Human, 0 level NPC
Felix and Felice - Humans, 0 level NPC

Marching order is:

Jaime and Jim on horses, leading.
Wagon 1 with Felice driving and Melvin and Gurwinder riding.
Wagon 2 with Felix, Matilda and Rona.
Megen trailing Wagon 2.

More next week.