View Full Version : One-Shot Turned to Campaign: Advice? (Updated 4/6)

2009-03-10, 03:05 PM
Hey all- I’ve got some situations that I’d like some general advice on, if you all are willing to give it.

Sunday was my first time running a game-session- there’s a D&D meetup once a month in my area, and I’d vowed that I would give it a try. I set up a premise, had a few basic ideas, and bluffed- and the guys loved it. They’re now demanding a campaign.

The premise is that the characters (3rd level, barbarian, fighter, wizard, ranger, rogue, battle-sorceress, monk, and nobody picked the cleric sheet) are all the daughters of a Conan-esque king- a hulking barbarian having conquered a civilized land, with many children but not one son to his name. The lack-of-heir complaints got loud enough that the king said anyone of his blood interested in a shot at the crown should show up in the courtyard, he had a test for them. The test turned out to be an armed escort to the border, with orders not to come back until they were heroes worthy of guest-right or conquerors at the gate. (He subscribes to a very, ah, survival-of-the-fittest school of philosophy.)

They were thrust out into a mostly-untamed world, specifically open grasslands, with little more than the clothes on their backs and some cheap decorative blades. They then proceeded to hunt and tame some horses, survive for a few days, and then hijacked a shipment of tribute that was headed towards their father’s capital, from some of the lands just outside of their kingdom’s recently expanded borders. (They tried the diplomatic flim-flam route first, which I admit I had not anticipated, but it worked out nicely even before the topiary boar got woken up and started rocketing around, destroying things.) In the end, they slipped away while the tents of the caravan were afire and the guards and two dwarven wizards were attempting to put it out after telling them to take what they wanted and go.

They now have dwarven steel blades, in a world where bronze is the material of the day, a kidnapped hired guard-captain (the rogue seems to be taking a creative approach to the ‘anything not nailed down’ methodology), and, as I overheard them plotting, intent on eventually organizing a female army and possibly a Lysistrata scenario in order to get their dear ol’ dad to hand over the kingdom willingly.

Now, my intent was for this to simply be a series of episodes of raiding, pillaging, occasional stops in interesting tombs or cities- should I perhaps just continue with that idea for the moment, and build the world around them that way? My next idea was for them to stumble across a burial mound and encounter staked-rider zombies, Scythian burial style, but they’ve also just gotten some rather nice loot (which I still have to catalogue, but mostly nice-quality blades and weapons) and I’m wondering if giving them ‘easy’ treasure, so much so early, is wise.

I figure one of their next moves may be to establish some sort of base from which to carry out their plans, so that could be an adventure in and of itself, including encounters with peoples or monsters who dislike the idea that someone’s set up house in the middle of their lands. My question to anyone more experienced than I is- what should I plan for next time, and the time after that? Should it continue to be episodic encounters with whatever dangers seem likely?

I’m used to playing in games where there always seems to be a vast conspiracy of stuff intent on ending the world or preventing us from reaching some goal, and sometimes a MacGuffin, but that doesn’t seem to be the right style of things here. I’m working more on the lines of survival/travel/meet interesting new people and try to keep them from killing you while taking their stuff, in true wandering-barbarian fashion, with occasional interruptions as people realize that there’s a rather nice stockpile of loot under the control of seven outcast princesses and attempt to rectify the situation. They’re only third level, so they can’t really start building armies for a while, but I feel like I ought to give some thought to what to do then, too.

Any thoughts?

2009-03-10, 04:49 PM
Very interesting concept!

First, I would say that you should try to leave the direction of the story up to the players as much as possible. And I know that can be difficult since they'll try to go somewhere or do something you haven't thought of.

Second, if you can, try to slip in a few seeds of a greater story or menace during some of your next few episodic adventures. Try to make it seem irrelevant at first, so later when your players look back they can see that there were clues all along. As for what these clues could be about: Maybe there's some great item that the PCs can quest for which will greatly help their quest for the throne? Or perhaps there is some Dark Magician who covets their father's kingdom and wants to use the PCs to get it? He'd probably approach the PCs in disguise and try to befriend them, steering them towards whatever he needed to complete his schemes.

Third, maybe consider increasing the Level prerequisite for taking the Leadership feat? 6th Level isn't that far away since they all started at 3rd. I guess it depends on how far you think this campaign will get (Level-wise) and if you think your players will want Leadership at all (sounds like they will). You could kick up the Level requirement to 9 or 10, or maybe just leave it at 6 with the added caveat that they actually have to do something above and beyond typical adventuring to earn enough fame or the loyalty of a particular group.

Beyond that, definitely have people who don't like the PCs operating in their territories. If the PCs want to set up a base of operations, then the dissent of these groups will increase. These attacks should continue to grow over time until the PCs are finally forced to oust or eliminate the resident power structure. And if they've already gotten a ton of loot, try to focus the next few events more on roleplaying. Perhaps they arrive at a city in a foreign land and have to negotiate with the dangers of the streets with which they are less familiar. Be sure to include some strange laws that the PCs don't know about.

Please let us know how everything turns out, and good luck! :smallbiggrin:

2009-03-10, 04:57 PM
Power of Faerun is by far the most Leadership-centric book : lots on various types of leader, and how to handle it. (most of the content works just fine in any setting)

I do think, to collect followers/cohorts- the player should work at it. An rebel/outlaw type giving inflammatory, inspiring speeches, should have people "flocking to his banner" If he hardly ever interacts with NPCs though, he should not be attracting an army.

2009-03-10, 05:46 PM
perhaps you might wish to have some local kingdoms that resist the current leader who look very warily on the Daughters of Conan coming to their lands (perhaps they refuse tribute to his hordes and defend themselves accordingly) but are willing to allow them in IF they're willing to cut them a piece of the action (territorial lands that were theirs in bygone era make sure that some of them are quite desirable) OR to take on a challenge well outside their current skill level. As far as the leadership feat goes, let them get it and form their Sapphic army, but remember that Conan the king probably has more experienced troops than the cohorts and followers of the Daughters. The lack of a cleric makes for some problems shoring up the troops as a conqueror seeing as they can control many more undead than all but the most charismatic Leader (perhaps have them run into an evil church planning to try to take their birthright through necromancy) plus the fact that the army can be marched all day and night without tiring and they move on the cheap. You never mentioned the party's disposition with regards to "darke majicks and vile enchantes" perhaps they're willing to bind demons to their will and use them against their father?

Kol Korran
2009-03-10, 06:16 PM
some general ideas:
1) have one of their father warlords, an influential and powerfull chap start sending his minions to kill them, or hire/ persuade monsters to kill them and so on. the warlord wishes to take over once "dear old dad" is out, but he doesn't want any competition. he does so in a discreet manner, working through intermediates so his name is never known.
once the adventurers get some renown he sends after them killers in his adverseries uniforms, seeking to use the ladies to do his "colleague" some harm.
once they gain even more skilled and famous, he might step up, maybe as a saviour with his army on a dire occasion, or just a sympathiser. hey, he might even try to woe one of the ladies into marriage- an easy way to the throne, no?

2) another warlord, with fewer forces, but with a moral backbone might also start tracking down the hoodlams, wanting to bring peace to his terroitory and the father's realm. most of these attmpts will fail of course. he might come face to face with the ladies but retreat. he will however gain respect for the women, and might come to care for them and well being. he might be the ally they didn't expcet, perhaps the next king, or at least a military advisor (there could be a clash between the warlords who stand on one side, or the other). the warlords themselves could come to clash.

note about the warlords: though there are suggestions as to how things might evolve with the players and them, never let that dictate. the first warlord is easier to run because he has less personal interactions with the ladies. if you do want to use warlord 2 then make the first face- to -face interaction be under a greater threat (against invading hordes together, stuck in the wilderness when undead/ a dragon pursues you). make them work together first- it might lengthen the warlords life (at least if your party kill first and ask questions later like most barbarians do)

3) stronghold/ base of operations: make it somewhere special, preferably with some special link to them as the daughters of the great barberian. i suggest that while the players start asking around for a place, send someone to them, a holy man/woman/shaman/ spirit guide/ prophet that will speak of thsi forboding place, with awefull dangers, that holds great treasures for "the 7 of eve" (or whater you wanna call them). the place could be a mountain fortress called "the sisters" or something like it. what's in it? you're to decide, but make it interesting and epic. once the characters clear the place out, have special features in it that relate to each of the characters. for example: the ranger could find stone animals she can take as companions (animals with DR?) but she must return them here once a month to "recharge" (find a more appropriate term). the fighter can find pieces of magical plate, that he can combine to create various magical armors for specific adventurers. but again- the plate pieces must be returned to recharge. the wizard may find a special scrying mirror, and so on...

4) gender: Gender plays a pivotal role in your campaign it seems. play to it. consider themes like lesbianism, prostitution, pregnancy, women status in the society, marriage and the role of the wife in it, how gender is viewed by other races, and how it affects your campaign. let your character meet with various attitudes, from misconceptions to anlightment, and let them express themselves.
more fun with gender: how about spells specific to gender? (in the game Torment the spell Tasha's hideous laughter worked only on males- it was the laugh of a scorning woman at them) or how about weapons keyed to gender? (like the alignment requirement) and what about curses that transform your gender- that's one way to become king!
even more fun with gender- how about all the mythological female monsters? combine them with the above issues and you have delighful material for adventures- hags, medusas, succubi, harpies and so on... or what about finding a male version of a female typed monster. what does a male medusa act like?

5) adventures: at first at least i suggest you let the characters direct the action, as the freedom to choose is one of the fun things in barbarianism (is there such a word?). drop hints of your adventure ideas through out, and see what appeal to your players, once you have a few better ideas, build a line of action. a few suggestions though:
- think Conan: by this i mean adventures with big creatures, bloody fights, strange locations, and loot! or in short- simple D&D by the books. now you've got the campaign to justify it! dragons, hydras, gorgons, giants, anything powerfull or with a signature magic ability is good. also- wizards/ clerics and their cults of fanatics- also classic, and for a good reason- they're fun!
- the scale and goal is big, so why not add prophecy to match? the prophecies could detail the order of adventures ("only those who slay the red dragon Grasix, and claim the bejeweled sword may claim a right to the iron throne"). i suggest fiarly straightforward prophecies, not vague ones. be carefull however to leave them open ended enough, in case the players do something unexpected.
- gaining influence: i say forget the leadership feat. instead judge the characters actions yourself, and decide how influential they get- roleplay it. i would also advise to prepare the adventures with many opportunities for the characters to get fame, and increase influence. for example: saving the village from the ogres and the hags gains the peasent laborers, saving the dwarfs from the awefull purple worm and the the killing the wizard that unleashed it gains them the dwarfs favour, and many weapons and armor for their army to come. saving the dragoness baby gains them a lot of wealth, fame, and the older dragon brother decides to help the party and guard their keep while they are gone.

6)unique rewards instead of many lower level ones: do you know "weapons of legacy"? the book's basic approach was that instead of replacing simpler magic items and weapons with newer more powerfull ones, just make the older versions gain power. this was usually done through some exceptional deed, and the item's powers were tied to the wielder's history. i suggest you do the same with your players- far fewer magic items (i tried this on my campaign. a level 9 character usually held her signature item, one or tow "simple" magic items, and potions/ scrolls), far easier to handle and remember, and far more rewarding. also- consider exchnging the magic items for other benefits, which might prove rewarding. for example: the barbarian could unlock greater forms of rage within herself, or maybe triats of animals? (not a PRC, on top of that). the sorcerer might find a magical power akin to the prismatic X line that grows with level, the ranger might find a unique or powerfull companion, not necesserily and animal. again- you'll have to work on it, but it think you might like the result.

7) wrapping it up: this is a long way from now, but i suggest you think of it so you can present ideas and plan ahead early enough. is only one of them supposed to be queen, or will they share? how would they do it? is one of them dominant or are they all fairly the same? throw some ideas and let them play it, you'll see where the wind blows...
how do they return? just with fame or at the head of an army? what transpired in the kingdom while they were gone? is all well, or are there voices of unrest, maybe even someone secretly trying to take over the throne (hint: warlord 1 and his/her pet wizard). can they find any allies with in? (hint: warlord 2) and did their father send them away out of the "call of tradition", or maybe there was something greater afoot, maybe he cared for them, but needed them away at this time?

hope this helped, and do share with us how things went. i'm quite interested now.

2009-03-10, 07:40 PM
Thanks, so far this is a great help. The idea of one of the warlords or captains under the king's command deciding to gain some advantage by capturing the princesses is definitely a sound one- my reasoning behind this whole mess is the king subscribes to the idea that when he dies, the strongest will step up and take his place, as is proper. If he'd had sons it would have been them fighting amongst themselves- he's only king because he killed off the rest of the old bloodline when they insulted him, and he got crowned before he could make good his escape with a bag of loot and a concubine or two. As it is, he's annoyed enough at his complaining underlings that he's setting up the same survival-of-the-fittest situation amongst his daughters, and if they actually manage to become fit warriors and worthy heroes to keep the crown in his bloodline, that's just an added benefit. There are plenty of people who would stand to gain from a no-legit-contenders situation.

Gender- I hadn't intended the whole focus of the campaign to be on gender and gender issues, but they can definitely come up in passing, the same as any other adventure seeds. For example- in my version of things, orcs are subtly matriarchal but pretty egalitarian beyond 'strongest wins'. Some of the girls are descendants of great bandit or pirate queens and infamous sorceresses, while others were born of concubines or treaty-brides from some of the nations surrounding their father's kingdom. One of the dangers they may face, completely outside of their heritage, is someone attempting to capture and sell them as slave-girls in torrid Akesh or the piratical Lecian Isles.

I'm still going to have to figure out what to do with that guard captain the rogue kidnapped...

Right now, the girls are in the Ridersea, a huge grasslands in the middle of the continent that's home to vast herds of prehistoric animals, differing human and monster tribes, and surely the remnants of some different civilizations. They can stay there to establish a base or keep traveling, and depending on what they do, they may encounter any number of people wanting to obliterate or join them.

2009-03-10, 08:53 PM
barbarianism (is there such a word?)

The word is barbarism. As in, "the barbaric barbarians practice barbarism."

- gaining influence: i say forget the leadership feat. instead judge the characters actions yourself, and decide how influential they get- roleplay it. i would also advise to prepare the adventures with many opportunities for the characters to get fame, and increase influence. for example: saving the village from the ogres and the hags gains the peasent laborers, saving the dwarfs from the awefull purple worm and the the killing the wizard that unleashed it gains them the dwarfs favour, and many weapons and armor for their army to come. saving the dragoness baby gains them a lot of wealth, fame, and the older dragon brother decides to help the party and guard their keep while they are gone.

This is pure gold. Forget about Leadership and have all the followers be story rewards like this.

2009-03-10, 09:08 PM

I suppose that means the guard-captain can be their first recruit- or possibly their first fugitive, because I don't think he's going to be very happy to be kidnapped by these crazy women...

2009-03-10, 09:16 PM

I suppose that means the guard-captain can be their first recruit- or possibly their first fugitive, because I don't think he's going to be very happy to be kidnapped by these crazy women...
It's either them or anarchy in a state with one of the most powerful armies around. It's not a difficult choice to make.

2009-03-10, 09:19 PM
Of course, I did tell the gals that the guards of that dwarfish merchandise were all from a part of Hiberia (the kingdom) that hasn't been Hiberian for very long... for the most part I think this particular dude is just out to survive and get his pay, but it probably wouldn't bother him any if the whole state collapsed.

2009-03-11, 12:31 AM
Are ALL the Daughters of Conan interested in the throne or are some looking into other options (treaty weddings and the like)? Once this group comes back either way how are they going to divide the pie or is it just going to be continuous war until one of the daughters is victorious?

I believe Some gender inequality is necessary in this campaign, since you've basically already put it out there with the whole dumped out to survive on their wits bit, though I agree it can't be the overarching plot point of it, but most certainly there needs to be some digs about the "fairer sex" from some of the nobility and such as they attempt to solidify their might outside Hiberia to prepare for reentry.

I also would be shocked and amazed if the barbarian settles down BEFORE coming home to daddy (however they return)

2009-03-11, 12:37 AM
So far, the girls are acting in concert, and they agreed that they needed to stick together. I'm not sure if that's going to break down eventually or if they'll elect a leader, so I'm going to let that cook for a while before I try and anticipate their moves. They might end up as a very tight-knit group of queen-and-high-officials.

2009-03-11, 12:44 AM
Weirdlet, sounds like an interesting game.

Without wishing to derail the thread and/or start flame wars, do you care to make any observations on what it's like having a group of all-female gamers?

Assuming that they are, of course...

2009-03-11, 12:51 AM
All-female characters, actually. There was one actual female player, also a part of my regular Saturday group (which ranges from one- to two-thirds female, depending on which game we're playing and who's able to show up).

edit- as for your actual question, the guys seemed to be having fun with it. I'd intended it as a basic 'get out there and survive stuff the world throws at you' sort of thing, and that translates across genders. The premise was well advertised, those who played knew what they were in for, and they didn't ham it up overmuch.

2009-03-11, 12:54 AM
that's good, solidarity is always nice to some degree, though I think that there should at some point be little issues that you add in that start to drive a wedge into it, be it the potential for romantic/political entanglement or a high potentate of one of Hiberia's outlying nation states asking them "who will rule when your father passes?" this is a campaign that seems to me to be both a group conflict AND individual challenges ((Unless they form an Oligarchy I don't see them ruling jointly unless they break it up into territories and destroy their father's empire)) I am interested in the campaign and would love to hear more about it later. Please tell us more of the Daughters of Conan as they continue their adventures.

2009-03-11, 01:30 AM
All-female characters, actually.

Ah, not quite as interesting to me, then.

I've already seen my fair share of male gamers playing female characters...

Kol Korran
2009-03-11, 04:26 AM
suggestions for the captured guard captain:
1) he could be their first "recruit", but let the characters gain his trust first. in the mean time, he can be a source of information and adventure hooks. (remember my suggestion about spreading out hints for possible adventures?) he can tell them of taxes caravans (if they feel the need for more loot), or perhaps moan about the troubles at the dwarven stronghold he was supposed to reach with the traders (the characters first "regular adventure") or perhaps tell the tales of a hidden treasure in the hills of the hags, and so on. once they do another job where they prove thier worth, he might beg them to help his family/ clan/ village that is suffering some disaster

2) gaining his trust: first of all- try to roleplay it. but a few things that may play into account- decide what the guard captain values and respect. it could be martial prowess, high morals, a sense of humor, piety, or whatever. let the captain confide wit hthe first character he values about some secret (which may or may not be revealed to the party). and build from there. once the party actually saves the guy's village or whatever he is fully theirs.

3) rewards: if they gain his trust, offer some reward. the above mentioned secret taxes caravan route is a fine way to go.

4) romance? try to play it if it works out. could be interesting if done with the rogue that kidnapped him.

5) another way to go alltogether: this guy is in fact the first of warlord's 1 infiltrators into the women's group... (might be a doppleganger or changling even, though it is realy not necessery). he plays it as if "i would have joined you if i knew who you are!" sort of type. i personally think it's a stretch and premature, but thought to suggest it non the less...

that's all from me,

P.S- again, please keep us posted.

2009-03-11, 04:49 AM
I just want to point out... if you're going to turn this into a full-on campaign, you need an end. It sounds to me like the end is "They do heroic deeds X, Y, and Z, and can come back successful to take their father's place when he moves on".

Working toward that, then, means that you need to fill out some heroic deeds in your storyline; Defeating "undefeatable" monsters, performing impossible tasks, and other typical heroic fare.

2009-04-06, 05:51 PM
I'm hoping this won't count as thread necromancy- those who posted here wanted updates, and I figured a whole new thread might not be on their radar.


Yesterday was the second session- between one thing and another I had little preparation time but I think I bluffed fairly well. Relevant maps and the full report can be found here- http://societyforcreativebarbarism2.wikispaces.com/

The princesses began to travel up the river away from the site of their raid on the tribute caravan, eventually finding a small fishing village along the bank. Using the non-threatening-mages-go-in-first approach, they got little respect, much doubt as to their rank as princesses, but a little traveling food and some advice not to go to the northwest of the village, for that was haunted lands. Men were known to have come back from there mad, or not at all.

Of course, they proceeded right there and promptly fell into a burial complex (The rogue got the lowest survival roll, so I declared that she would be the one to find the weak spot in the roof). It turned out to be a mostly-empty sattelite chamber to a large, ring-shaped complex, the walls lined with small trees or beams supple enough to bend over into a roof, containing some crude stone altars with a scattering of silver coins old enough to be blackened with tarnish. They found the main ring-hall and discovered a set of footprints in the ancient dust, as though someone had been treading the same path since the day the tomb was sealed.

They then proceeded to wait for whatever it was with trip-wire established, and soon caught themselves an ancient zombie, scraggly-bearded and with crude arms and armor, a slave set on eternal sentry duty. After a short battle, the cleric managed to rebuke and control him, and thus Bob was added to the party. Lee, the former guard-captain who had been kidnapped from the caravan, was once again demoted in favor of the new guy, this time for the role of torch-bearer.

Walking through the outer ring, the girls found a few sealed side-chambers that they didn't explore, but soon came upon the entrance to the inner chamber- whereupon they had to make willsaves as the muttering and whining of an unquiet soul began to prey upon their minds. Nobody made the checks to realize it was an allip, so we just went with unquiet soul- only the monk failed her will save, and only the barbarian got any wisdom drain (1 point), but it was dispatched and the main chamber breached.

The central chamber had two low stone sarcophagai, and a ring of staked riders surrounding them. Nothing happened at first, as Bob the zombie sentry had been sent in first, then the girls started coming in. The riders began to tear themselves off their moorings, their horses moving and their riders attacking in a round. It was a tougher fight than they'd been getting, but eventually all were put down, their oaths to follow and protect their great king even unto death and beyond fulfilled- except for one rider that the cleric traded Bob in for. I ruled that the rider was commanding the zombie horse (I've been fudging things left, right and sideways- mostly people are just glad the combat's going quickly and that they're challenged but not annihalated)- the whole 'loyalty after death' theme.

They then lifted the lids of the two stone burial sites, and found what had been a Skith (the tribe involved) king, and his chief wife. Detecting magic, they found a magical saddle and bridle at the king's feet, and a magical cloak and set of reed pipes respectively under and in the hands of the queen. We ended there.

Next time, I think I'm going to have the gals explore the rest of the burial complex, possibly finding a few more allips behind the sealed chambers, and perhaps a skeleton that had crawled out of the unsealed chamber they'd found themselves in long ago, one of the junior wives who hadn't taken her ritual poison or something. I may play the allips a little tougher, since before it was dispatched with relative ease, and it may provide a reason to get them to encounter some orcs (which in my world, tend towards roaming matriarchal tribes with a strong tradition of powerful warrior-priestesses). I'll try to have some more characterization prepped for them, because so far I feel that my npcs have been a little weak in that regard, never really knowing what to say to the girls. The orcs are a little easier to get the lines right on in my head- they know their territory, they defend it, and they're not impressed by human rank. They may be able to point out directions to safe ground the girls could use as a base of operations, depending on how diplomatic they are. Depending on who captures who, as well, there may be some fun cultural misunderstandings as orcish warriors are supposed to capture their mates, regardless of gender.

Some of the random things I want to play with-

At some future date in the campaign, I want to do something with a bard-lich who's literally a dancing skeleton with jeweled bones. Her lair is filled with statues made of skeletons that are nothing more than sculptures made of bone, so when anyone finally finds her, they're startled as all heck when she moves.

Kol Korran
2009-04-07, 06:15 AM
just wanted to say- thanks for the update. i'll keep reading if you keep posting.
is the burial site just a reason to adventure and get some loot (which is fine) or does it play any role in the greater scheme of things? also- do you plan for mounted encounters? if not- why the saddle and bridle for? for their new rider zombie rider?
i wonder how they are going to explain it where ever they go...


2009-04-07, 06:29 AM
I'm totally swiping this concept. It's freakin solid gold.

That said, I second free form campaigning on this one...

But as the King wants these daughters to take the throne?

What if someone didn't?

An advisor, or a noble, that has designs on the throne, but who would be completely derailed by a legitimate heir, worthy in blood and deed...

Someone who believes the best time to solve the problem is before they get powerful...

and who didn't act before... because they weren't in the way until the barbarian king made his announcement.

2009-05-23, 01:50 AM
Hey, all- this last Sunday was the next session of Barbarian Princesses, and it went about as I expected.

The princesses finished looting the central chamber, then worked their way around to the sattelite chambers, wherein the Skith king's junior wives had been buried. One, they found out in the circular hall- hers had been the unsealed chamber that they had fallen into, and long ago she had left her intended tomb, despaired, and killed herself outside of her intended chamber. That would be the source of the allip.

The second chamber held an altar with more of the corroded silver pieces, and the ancient remains of a woman who had been kneeling there when she poisoned herself. No ghosts, no surprises, but there was a bit of jumping when I mentioned the smell of almonds around her.

The rogue then scouted ahead and found the above-mentioned skeleton in the middle of the hall, and beyond that, another of the sattelite chamber doors, where they found a slightly different scene on entering. Instead of the bones of a human woman kneeling, these were the bones of an orc or half-orc woman, sitting on the altar like a bench. She was framed by a pair of elephant or mammoth tusks carved with snakes, and pouches of what seemed to be herbal and primitive magical components were at her feet. The players concluded that she'd been a treaty-wife, considering that some of the jewelry they'd taken off the other corpses were, I retconned, of orcish ivory rather than just plain ol' animal teeth.

They ransacked the place, including a heavy gold snake armband from the orc-wife, and proceeded to the next chamber, wherein another skeletal human woman lay across her altar rather than kneeling on it, with two side-tables, each holding a rusty iron sword. I let detect magic find magic on the leather armor she was wearing and an amulet around her neck. These were promptly looted, but it wasn't until our sorceress made a grab for the amulet that a bony hand shot up and tried to claw her to death.

Our dear, dread cleric of death and travel managed to rebuke her- I'd fudged it so she was a four-hitdice skeleton, but she still got slowly but surely hacked into dust. The tomb cleared of nasties and thoroughly looted, the princesses climbed back up to the surface and camped out, figuring their next direction.

Deciding that the little fishing village that had directed them to this 'cursed land' wasn't worth the trouble of conquering, some scouting found an orcish trail leading towards a more rolling, hilly part of the plains, getting even towards some scrubby forest. Following the trail with intent of finding possible trade (or loot-and-pillage opportunities, they aren't a picky bunch), the band eventually made their way into the scrubby, hilly area with cover.

When they were ambushed by orcs!

Or rather, three guard-archers approached them (as they had been approaching very openly) and gave them some terse questions- in this time and place, orcs don't much fear 'maggot-bred' beings, aka humans. But this particular group was rather interested in knowing if the girls had any affiliation with the Wolf tribe. Our resident halforc ranger was fortunately from a mother belonging to the Boar clan, and could identify these outriders as Snake(incidentally, the tribe belonging to those ancient bits of jewelry and paraphernalia found in the orcish section of the Skith tomb).

The cleric had been picking up a feeling from the land as they approached the hills- not quite as strong and direct as a consecrated temple in Hiberia itself, but bigger and more diffuse- and getting stronger the farther they pressed into the Snake tribe's turf. After declaring their intent to trade, the girls waited as the camoflauged archer-orcs scuttled back for leadership. A middle-aged orc warrior they recognized as a lieutenant approached, and questioned them sharply about the goods they were carrying, and the way they'd gotten them. Declaring them to be fairly fought for and stolen, the girls won some credit with the lieutenant- enough that she smirked and offered them a job, pending a meetup with the chief.

Being brought into the camp, it was noticed that the place seemed like it had been rebuilt recently- in the same crude, heavily functional orcish style, but with newer sod, newer branches holding things up. On meeting the chief, the lieutenant hands over the visitors to listen to her explanation. It turns out that the Wolf tribe has been making trouble for the Snake- Snake holds the sacred land, a source of power but difficult to move. Wolf has the warriors, and wants this turf for a base- and Snake won't let'em. There was a scuffle, a pretty bad one- while able to hold the land, this orc tribe can't drive off the Wolf one, and there had been an unpleasant stalemate. The solution- an exchange of sons as peace-gifts between chiefs. Among the orcs, there are shield-mates and war-mates, and these sons are each war-mates to the leader they were given to.

This chief, though, Briagh, has one son- and he is, as she puts it, a lad for the lads. She doesn't trust Magra, leader of the rival Wolves, to treat him well. Of course, she cannot steal him back- that breaks her word, the peace, and all hell will break loose between the two tribes again. But if certain enterprising maggot-bred women, who smell nothing like her tribe, were to make a daring raid, with full permission to loot, pillage, and humiliate....

In exchange, Chief Briagh is willing to offer the clasp of hands between warriors- alliance, to call and be called upon as friends. This, to the princesses, is worth more than gold (although they'll hammer out those trade terms too) as they're intent on building an army and finding a good base to work from. We ended at this point, with intent on having the girls interrogate the Wolf-tribe son who now belongs to Briagh.

I figure the sacred hills have a few caves in them, and am kind of half-borrowing the idea of 'earth-blood' as offered in a pdf by Monte Cook. Those who are attuned to the underground tunnels and caves are especially powerful there, thus keeping the place from being overrun by Wolf-tribe orcs- but it's not mobile. Next up- talking to Magra's son, with intent to find, loot and vandalize the Wolf orcs' camp!