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Thread: A World Torn Campaign Log
- Join Date
- Apr 2007
A World Torn Campaign Log
Okay, so this is a sequel to this thread where someone gave me the idea to make a campaign log.
I'm going to do this for several reasons. Firstly to always have a recap handy of past events, secondly to get readers' advice on what to do next and thirdly because I enjoy it, and hope you will too.
So maybe I should first introduce you to the player characters.
There's our human fighter, Ezrael Shadowbane, who's got a hatred for paladins because they allowed his parents, a rather evil duo of nobles, to die in a fire. Ezrael has probably got the best stats in the whole party and is played by the player who goofs around the most.
Leah Ellinit, a halfelven female monk, has a strong dislike for all men, stemming from her mother's fourth huspand trying to rape her. Leah is played by an architect who goes back and forth between silly and very capable.
Arkan Andon is an ugly elven ranger with a strong hatred for everyone. This is not uncommon for elves in this setting, but Andon has taken it to new extremes, spending most of his life alone in the forest after a failed and youthly idealistic raid on a human village (the nature loving elves of this setting tend to lean towards eco-terrorism). The ranger is played by an engineer, who tends to approach problems from a very, let's say, engineerlike angle. I've often seen him trying to build stuff all kinds of contraptions that could utterly break the game. His character also has some of the worst rolls, including an abominable charisma stat.
The final character is Roscoe Goodbarrel, a halfling rogue, who tends to hang around and swindle or rob people until he's driven out of town. He is played by my most serious player, perhaps sometimes too serious. I have no doubt that if he wouldn't be as utterly new to this as the rest of us, he would be a rules lawyer.
What brings these characters together at the start of the game is a trip to Highhaven. Highhaven is a haven for, well, prostitutes. This was something I had the PCs decide on at the start of the game. I told them they'd be on a coach together and they could pick where it was heading. The men are going there to have a good time, Leah is planning to set some of the women free (not that they're slaves or anything) in a delusional fit of feminism. However, they get unexpected company along the trip...
SpoilerJoining the party in the coach is the prince of the human lands, Octavus. In this setting there are three great races: humans, dwarves and orcs. The dwarves and humans are considered the civilized great races while the orcs are mainly tribal. This makes the prince one of the four or five most important people in the entire setting. Also joining them is the prince's personal bodyguard, Devon Wallander, though he remains outside, circling the coach on his steed.
The prince doesn't even make any attempt on hiding who he is and freely admits to the PCs that he is going to Highhaven for the same reason the men among them are. He is, however, more worried about the opinion of the court and therefore only a few people know where he is, and only Devon is accompanying him.
Inevitably, disaster strikes, sleeping powder is tossed into the carriage and just before they drift off completely the PCs can see the prince being carried off by what looks to be an elf in a red mask. Somewhat later, they awake in a prison cell. Not of the people who attacked them, but of Highhaven. It turns out that the attack had been carried out with dwarven tactics and came with a dwarven ransom note, and subsequently war was declared on the other great nation, that of the dwarves. When Devon woke up and told the soldiers of the elf, it was decided he needed to be silenced. War had been declared, there was no turning back. They couldn't have people spreading doubt among the ranks. So he and any other witnesses had been imprisoned.
They remain imprisoned together for four days, making friends with the guard in the process. He tells them they are having trouble deciding what to do with them. Eventually, when Devon is taken away for questioning, the guard comes and informs the PCs that they are going to throw him in the Hellpit.
When people originally settled on the Highhaven hill the Hellpit was a bit of a strange feature. This enormous pit sometimes had monsters flying out of it at night, so it soon became the habit to place guards there. Superstition caused many to believe the pit was the gate to hell itself. Any monsters that attacked town and survived were tossed in there as a way of execution. Later came the theory that, well, perhaps it wasn't so definite a punishment. The hole never having been fully explored, it was possible that it had some sort of exit. So, if they tossed someone in the hole and hte gods smiled upon him, he might make it out. Thus it became the habit to toss in people whose guilt wasn't completely proven. Devon had been tossed in with a shipment of criminals.
What was worse, this was going to be the fate of the PCs as well. Being their chum and all though, the guard decided to give them a fighting chance by giving them a knife (they would be sent into the hole without any of their worldly possessions, so a weapon, no matter how puny, is a good gift).
Then they were led out to a sqaure full of people, gathered before the Hellpit. On the other side of the pit there was a wooden construction, leaning over it, with ropes to lower people on and guardposts with crossbows and boiling oil and such in case anything tried to come up through the hole. The heroes were tied tighly and pretty much tossed down.
Their ropes turned out to be somewhat too short, leaving them all dangling about fifteen feet above the bottom. They could have been less lucky though, as the previous load seemed to have had too long ropes, and had died upon impact (all except Devon, who'd somehow managed to save himself, as appropriate for a character of his level).
Now, an important thing to know about this campaign is that it's sort of a tutorial dungeon I'm having my players run through. Neither me nor them have any experience playing DnD. This means that pretty much every room and encounter, certainly in the beginning of the dungeon, exist to to teach them some kind of rule. This first room served to teach them about falling damage
The room also served to teach them about skillchecks like escape artist (to get out of the ropes), tumble (to prevent falling damage) and move silently though. As they were hanging there, you see, a stone was pushed out of the wall and a big fat guy crawled out, and started to loot the corpses of the unfortunate team that had come before them, not noticing the PCs dangling above his head. They managed to free everyone and swing to a ledge at about ten feet high without alerting him, and then finally the monk made her way down to kick his ass, unarmed style, while the rest stood atop the ledge and threw rocks at him.
So now I could teach them about improvised weapons and unarmed fighting, as well as most other combat rules. The level one barbarian would turn out to be one of their toughest foes throughout this entire game. Though he was easy to hit (AC 9) he had a ridiculous amount of hitpoints, especially when raging, and when he managed to hit someone he did a whole heap of damage. He ended up running away with 4 hp left (2 when the rage had worn out).
The PCs decided to explore his little hidey hole behind that rock before moving on, and discovered that he'd been feeding on human meat from the people who died upon impact. When they tried to exit the lair again the barbarian was waiting for them outside, at an advantage since the only way out was a crawl. They did manage to kill him though, but urgently needed healing.
Now, the story behind the Hellpit is that it used to be a research base of a race predating all or most current races where they in fact created creatures. This sort of laboratory of course had a need for medical equipment, and so there are healing pads spread out throughout the building. Any healing pad has a number of charges and each charge can fully heal someone using it. This was a way for me to make their tutorial dungeon not too difficult, and also to compensate for their lack of a healer.
They soon found one of these healing pads, and after being paranoid about it for some time (throwing rocks at various parts and eventually wasting a heal on a dead guy's hand) they managed to heal everyone to full health and deplete the charges. I also allowed them to improvise slings out of cloth for everyone (30% break chance upon use) and a bone club for the fighter.
Next they came upon a room where Devon had already passed. The floor was filled with slaughtered goblins, but four of them were still more or less standing. I had some fun here by giving three of the goblins a handicap (one had a miss chance due to blood running across his face, one couldn't move due to his legs being damaged and one had particularly low hp). It turned out though that even if they hadn't had these handicaps my PCs would have easily wiped them out.
They found a note by Devon telling them to go left, not right (to the right there was an immense colony of goblins) and another note (after being ambushed by a darkmantle in a small hallway) telling them to go right at the next intersection, but the way was blocked. Whatever had happened here, it had caused the hallway to cave in, so they were left with no choice but to go left. They found a suit of scale armour here for the fighter and some fish eggs in one of the labs which they toyed around with some time, smashing some.
Their next encounter was at an underground river, where a kuo-toa was fighting a horde of kobolds. The kuo-toa begged for help so they slaughtered the kobolds and had their first actual NPC interaction with him. The kuo-toa claimed to be able to show them where the exit was so they decided to follow them. At some point Ezrael was foolish enough to mention the fish eggs (which turned out to be the kuo-toa's brothers and sisters) but he managed to deny doing anything to them with a lucky bluff check.
Next they had to cross the river. Now, there was a bridge, but it was built for and by kobolds so I'd set a maximum weight it could take. The fighter obviously surpassed it, what with his scale mail. The bridge crumbled to bits and everyone but the fighter managed to jump to the other side. He had to try to balance on the piece of bridge he was still standing out, but utterly failed and got washed somewhere downshore by the river. They spent some time mucking about here with the fighter taking a lot of damage simply by falling into the river so many times and bashing into rocks, but eventually managed to drag him across with a rope.
They had now arrived at the kobold lair which was filled to the brim with traps, but I'd forgotten kuo-toa have such a high spot check, so all of the traps were found and ignored immediately. They made a massacre of the kobold camp, killing the last three pesky goblins with an improvised firebomb (a pint of oil, some rags and a tinderstick with a lucky craft check) but let their young live (except one, which they accidentally scared to death).
I had foreseen a fight atop a bridge next, but since the kuo-toa had told them the shortest way to the exit was by jumping off the bridge and getting ashore to the right as quickly as possible, they just ignored the fight and jumped into the water. Now, they were supposed to make a swim check to get ashore before the waterfall. However, each and every one of them, even the kuo-toa managed to botch their rolls and ended up going over.
Anothe opportunity to teach them about falling damage, I guess, except now with some water beneath to catch them. I had a whole zombie encounter planned in the room they were supposed to end up in, the last laboratory where some leaking liquids would bring back to life some of the guys Devon just slaughtered, but everyone but the fighter was at 0 health when they ended up in the underground lake at the bottom of the waterfall, so I decided to skip it. The room was shut off from the lake with a gate and after the fighter spent some time mooning the zombies they noticed Devon lying upon the beach, dying.
Devon might have been much higher level than them, but he also passed through a much harder part of the dungeon, not taking quite as many shortcuts. They managed to stabilise him, and then the kuo-toa took a dive in the lake, telling them the exit was underwater. Only the fighter could safely make the trip, so he dived to the outside and found himself in Highhaven's sewer system, where he found a gondolier who would help transport his friends. Next session will start in the criminal underworld (quite literally) of the already pretty criminal city of Highhaven.
So, as you can tell the first session was pretty railroady (not that they were ever forced to go anywhere or take certain decisions, but they were confined to this dungeon) but that won't be true for the second session. For now the PCs don't seem too concerned with the main plot, revolving around the war between the humans and the dwarves, but that was, I guess, to be expected. All of their characters are sort of outsiders, so why would they care?
I expect the main plot to go on in the background for some time until at some point it starts affecting the PCs personally. In the mean time, they are more settled on short term goals.
When I asked the PCs what they would be looking for in the next session, the answers were the following:
- Healing (makes sense, considering three of them are disabled, the fighter is at 3 hp and they are carrying around Devon at -1 hp)
- Weapons (also makes sense, the only decent weapon anyone found in the dungeon was a longsword for the fighter, and he took that from Devon. There was a room with some weapons, but they just breezed right past it, and the kobolds they burned had a bow, but it went up in flames with them. They're making due with two daggers and some slings right now)
- Mercenary work (they made 27 gold in the dungeon, so if they want to go shopping they'll have to look for work)
- Hookers (Yes, despite recent events they all still want to do what they originally came to town for. For Leah that means some kind of mission to free them. I'm not quite sure what I'll do with this yet)
So that gives me some stuff to work with. Other plots threads I still have floating around:
- The kuo-toa: they went their seperate ways, but not exactly on good terms, since he left while Devon was still dying and didn't help them get out of the underwater hole. He was supposed to betray them in the zombie battle by running off and shutting the gate behind him, but that never happened, so I guess I'll now slowly turn him into a returning character.
- Devon: the PCs might not care too much about the main plot, but their high leveled friend does. As soon as he gets better, I expect him to take some sort of initiative to go track down the prince.
- The PC's items: their original possessions were confiscated, but what happened to them? I'm thinking of perhaps having one of their original weapons turn up in a shop when they're looking for weapons.
- The war: a war as big as this one has noticable side effects everywhere. I expect there to be some sort of draft for soldiers, decreased guard activity leading to increased criminal activity, perhaps some sort of initiative against dwarves who happen to be present in the human realm?
- The dungeon: the Hellpit is somewhat of a strange place with strange magical devices and unrecognisable writing. Two possible ways for this to develop into a plot thread is for the PCs to go back to the dungeon (a fairly easy way to get some money and weapons now that they've leveled) or for them to try to find a scholar who can decipher the couple of pages of strange writing they found.
So I think I've got enough material for the next session. What would you guys do with it? Any hints or tips?
Last edited by MrEdwardNigma; 2011-11-06 at 07:49 AM.
- Join Date
- Feb 2007
Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
As for the "Leah wants to save some hookers" - I'd have a split in the ranks, so to speak, of the hookers in the city. There are some who came there of their own will, absolutely - these tend to be the high-class ladies, though. The ones that *know* what they're worth, and charge accordingly. Then scale back the quality based on what your players are looking for; Say, 1 gold for your baseline "She does the job and leaves", 5 for "She makes it seem like she enjoys it", 10 for "She makes sure *you* enjoy it", and 25 for "Best. Night. Ever!" Below these, you can even go cheaper; Say, 5 silver for the "Vaarsuvius special", as detailed in the last frame of this strip : http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0584.html
In that last cast, and maybe some of the 1 gold cases, you're looking at a lady who's got a bodyguard with her, both to protect her, and make sure she doesn't run off. She might want out of the "industry", she might never have wanted into it at all.. and if your party's male members are interested in getting services on the cheap, they might run into some of these ladies. If you're lucky, they might bring the news back to Leah, or if Leah's got hide/move silently, she might shadow the cheaper members of her party and learn about them herself.
I think this is probably the way I'd go, personally; The motivations you were given amount to "get laid" for three members, and "save damsels in distress" for the last. Cater to all of them, give a plot hook with the last, and if she's successful in getting any of these girls out of the life they don't want to be in any more, they drop criminal attention on themselves. Introduce some conflict between the group and the criminals, and if they go vigilante about it between them and the city. Then the war hits, the guard gets thin, have a convenient confluence of consequences where they get cornered by the coppers, then... offer them jobs. They become a "special squad", working under the city, reporting back regularly but mostly left to their own devices to keep the criminal elements somewhat low, without totally crippling the sex trade, since that's the city's major draw.Pokemon friend code : 3067-5701-8746
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- Join Date
- Dec 2009
- Under the sea!
Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
Looks like fun.
I'd get some of them conscripted into the army, force the war on them.
Have the whole crew 'help' Leah save the hookers, just so they would thank them with free sex or something...
- Join Date
- Apr 2007
Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
After loads of preparationwork (I prepared three "dungeons" and statted some twenty NPCs, as well as making a flowchart for the game with a whole branching series of possible events) we finally got to play that second session. I'll have to wait for next session, alas, to Februari. Though on the bright side it does give me ltos of time to prepare.
Anyways, I'm typing up the session we just had (playing for twelve hours straight) right now and should have it for you soon, should there be any interest
Last edited by MrEdwardNigma; 2010-11-21 at 05:42 PM.
- Join Date
- Apr 2007
Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
Okay, so prepare for a long but eventful session which didn't go anywhere near according to plan.
Welcome to Town
When we last left our heroes they were being rescued by a Highhaven sewer gondolier. The halfling introduced himself as Milo Armourfoot and turned out to be even more friendly than first anticipated. He warmly offered the PCs to stay in his home (a shack in the sewer) and share his food (rat stew).
Now, while Armourfoot was up to some shady business (along the boatride he also had a female passenger with a mysterious whale brand on her clavicle whom he dropped off with some thug and at the back of his shack there was a door in the stone sewerwall which he told the PCs explicitly to stay away from) he was also quite welcoming and by far the nicest person the PCs had met so far. After some talk of sneaking in the door in the back they decided to let it be and leave Armourfoot a goldpiece (a fortune for the halfling) as they went to look for healing aboveground, for both themselves and Devon (who was still out).
The PCs swiftly discovered all the temples in town were closed since the clerics and paladins had been sent off to help the war effort. There was one exception though: an ancient priest of Pelor, too old to travel to the front, had set up shop in the temple of St. Cuthbert (the actual temple of Pelor in town being too small to house all the sick) and was offering free healing. One drawback: there was a three day waiting line.
Leah, the most charismatic player but not the most charismatic character, managed to cut a deal with the priest. They would all receive healing and their friend Devon would stay in the care of the priest's aides and get healing once they carried out a task for the father. Father Elbereth, as was his name, was besides a very charitable person and a slightly dementing old man also a scholar on the subject of the ancients. Scholarship in this context meant merely having looked at some of their texts and artifacts. These are of course the very same ancients that built the Hellpit dungeon originally.
The cause of the father's interest in them? Their healing methods of course! Pieced together only from rumours Father Elbereth believes that he might be able to heal people better with more knowledge on the ancients, and it just so happens a translationbook has just come onto the market for their language which would allow the father to translate the few scraps of text he owns. This is of course not a coincidence. Unbeknownst to the PCs the Kuo-Toa was carrying this translationbook all along and cashed in on it as soon as he reached the city.
So the PCs head to Treasure & Trinkets, the local pawnshop, to buy this book. Interestingly, Treasure & Trinkets turns out to have strong ties to the city management and is selling one other item of interest: Arkan's family bow, which was taken from him upon being thrown in the dungeons.
It turns out though that all other weaponsalesmen in town have been moved to the front to make weapons there and manage supplies, so the prices here have skyrocketed. Both the bow and the book turn out to be much too expensive. What's worse, someone walks in and buys the book.
This guy was supposed to lead them to Lord Aspereti's mansion. Lord Aspereti is also a scholar on the matter of the ancients, more so than Father Elbereth even, and the PCs had previously heard of him when asking for someone to translate the documents in their own possession. Aspereti had all kinds of stuff going on in his mansion, but the PCs were smart and mugged the courier in some alley before he could reach the mansion.
The PCs took the book with them to an inn, where they bought the fanciest meals they could get (goose cooked in it's own fat, vegetable soup and rice pudding). Originally I had expected the PCs to stick around with Milo, but as it turns out they went the more realistic route and used their gold to buy some luxury. The Drunken Swan has become kind of their basis of operations and I quite like it. Unlike Milo's shack the Swan has plenty of opportunities to meet new people and get all sorts of quests from them.
The most interesting regular they've met so far in the Swan is probably this jolly fat fellow who insists on buying everyone copious amounts of booze. Little do they know that he is actually a recruiter for the army. He's already managed to get two of the PCs so drunk (botched fortitude checks) that they signed up. Both the fighter and the ranger are in for a surprise when they try to leave town.
They slept at the Swan and took the opportunity to translate their own pieces of ancient writing with the book. The gist of the notes were that some sort of experiment was being held with accelerated growth. Realising they found these notes where they also found the fisheggs, this worried the PCs slightly. Of course, they still have no idea of the effect of the same stuff on dead creatures.
The following morning they delivered the book and had Devon healed. Father Elbereth asked them that if they found any more notes from the ancients they should bring them to him, but offered no reward so they kept their mouth shut about the papers they did have.
Devon set forth a plan (as was to be expected from him) immediately. He tells the PCs the army occupying the town is being led by Fieldmarshal Varkas, a sort of crisis manager working for the king. The normal ruler however is the feudal knight Sir Hugo Von Brandt. Von Brandt might listen to reason where Varkas would not. Devon proposes to meet some contacts in town and arrange a meeting with Von Brandt to get them their paperwork (required to leave town) as well as some equipment so they could go investigate the site where the prince was kidnapped to find the real culprits.
In order not to spook his contacts however, he asks to do this alone, meeting the PCs the next evening. I mainly did this in order to have the high level NPC away from the party, and also to give them some more time to spend in the city as they pleased, as they'd finished healing Devon much sooner than expected. Devon gave them the advice to go make some money and get some equipment, since they were still walking around in the rags they got in the Hellpit.
After some asking around it turned out that Treasure & Trinkets was indeed the only open weaponshop in town, but there WAS one other option. There was a dwarven smithess in town, reknowned for her work, but she had gone into hiding due to the war. The PCs decide to try to find her but only do so as she and her cohorts are being attacked by eight city guards. The PCs wait a long time before they decide to intervene and Helga ends up being knocked out, while the PCs have to flee.
Left with no other options the PCs decide to look for opportunities to make some money to be able to afford Treasure & Trinkets gear. They find a number of good jobs in the Swan and elsewhere which I'll enumerate now.
The army recruiter mentions that the city guards are looking for some sort of escaped animal which has been tearing people apart in the poor region of town. Despite Devon telling them not to get involved with the guards and their recent brush with the law when attempting to help the dwarven smithess, the PCs go and track down the animal, which turns out to be a simple hobo on a homebrew drug. They turn in the hobo but find they cannot get paid without showing some paperwork. With the excuse that they left it at home they leave.
While turning in the hobo they are also told that if they could cut short the supply of drugs to the town, they would also get paid. Of course, they don't even try as there would yet again be a problem in getting paid. Besides, the fighter has been buying the homebrew drug, which works as a barbarian's rage, only with the slight side-effect you might go mental and kill whomever is nearest. So far that side effect hasn't come into play yet, so he's quite content with the drug, and slowly getting addicted.
An old man staying in The Drunken Swan tells the PCs his daughter was kidnapped and he travelled to town to find her. According to him she has been forced into prostitution. Leah grabs the quest with both hands and during a trip to the House of Seven Delights they find the daughter. However, it turns out she is there voluntarily and doesn't wish to go back with her dad, who is a bit of a tyrant.
While the PCs are at the house though, Leah, who has to wait while the others do their transactions with the ladies, talks to the owner of the joint, Madame Aradia, and is told that there IS an illegal prostitution network in town where the girls are being forced to work and branded with a small whale. She offers 200 goldpieces for the head of their ringleader, branded with the whale.
The PCs soon find a girl who has the brand and is willing to take them to the hide-out, a place called Moby ****'s, but decide to put off actually busting in.
Also at The Drunken Swan the PCs meet up with a depressed longfaced fellow who complains his family tomb has been robbed in the absence of the clerics and paladins of the town. Lord Aspereti is secrectly having some men rob graves to be able to experiment on the corpses in his cellar.
Finally the PCs met up with the Kuo-Toa again, now fairly rich by selling his translationbook, and he offered them 100 gold a person to go get his brothers and sisters, the fisheggs, back from the dungeon.
Moby ****'s, Lord Aspereti's mansion and the Hellpit are the three dungeons I had planned out (or expanded) but the PCs have gotten to none of them yet.
We ended the session after Ezrael spent the night with the most beautiful and expensive girl in town and fell deeply in love.
Okay, our next session is in Februari, so I have plenty of time to prepare. What's more, at least two of the dungeons I already prepared will likely still get visited next session.
Do you guys have any advice for how I should handle next session? Any plot ideas?
It would also be nice to get the party rogue, Roscoe, more involved since all of the others got some personal stuff (Leah's quest to free hookers, Arkan's quest for his bow, the fighter falling in love...) going on but he doesn't. His main motivation so far appears to be cash and he is easily the least scrupulous of the bunch.
Last edited by MrEdwardNigma; 2011-03-22 at 08:46 AM.
- Join Date
- Jun 2010
Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
This is shaping up to be a pretty excellent looking campaign! Some ideas for the rogue's personal quest: perhaps Milo decides that the rogue is a man after his own heart, and includes him in a little ... "project" of his. The specifics are up to you, but that seems appropriate.Avatar by zimmerwald1915
Current characters: None, looking for a game.
Wow, it's been a while. Sorry for the unexplained absence!
- Join Date
- Apr 2007
Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
And yeah, I like your idea. Milo is tied to some other plot threads too (the prostitutes he transports, and in his locked room he keeps the rage drugs being sold in town) so it would be a nice way to bring back that NPC and get the rogue tied up more in one of those plots.
- Join Date
- Apr 2007
Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
A brief session this one, at least in description, the actual thing was about nine hours, but mostly combat, so easy to cover.
Heavy Combat, Hookers and a Halfling
SpoilerFinding themselves in rather poor condition the party decides to get some healing. However, when visiting their friend Father Elbereth for his services, they are met by a crowd fleeing the temple. It's being attacked by a bunch of thugs. When they finally cut their way to Father Elbereth's room, they find the leader of the thugs has already escaped, WITH the translation book AND all of the good father's notes on the ancients...
Oddly, the father describes the leader of the assailants as a halfling about the same age has he is. Which would make the halfling very nearly ancient. The PCs check out the secret stairs in the closet which the halfling used to escape, but it ends up in the endless sewers of Highhaven. Father Elbereth heals them anyways for their trouble.
Besides healing, they are also heavily in need of proper weapons (the rogue and ranger are still handling most of their combats with the slings they improvised in the Hellpit). This is why they decide to check out the abandoned smithy of Helga, the dwarven smithess they failed to save from the city guards. Honestly, this whole prosecution of the dwarves thing reminds me a little bit too much of the second world war, but I suppose it's just a very gritty setting.
Besides some rubbish they also find a note in the smithy, by their sewer gondolier chum Milo Armourfoot, stipulating a meeting point and time in the sewers. The party held onto this note, intending to check out what exactly Milo has to do with the dwarves. It's becoming increasingly apparent their kind friend is mixed up in a whole lot of shady business in town.
Another thing Milo was involved with for example was the transport of kidnapped countryside girls into town so they could become very poorly treated hookers for the illegal Moby **** prostitution ring. How much Milo knows about this business is of course unclear, but the PCs decide not to sit by idly and let this go on.
They tricked the guards at the door by pretending to be customers and very suddenly drew their weapons and started slaughtering them as soon as they got past the three gates separating the inside of the building from the exit. The fights downstairs were rather tame, mainly featuring guards who had just woken up from the noise and were therefor neither armoured nor properly armed, but upstairs I'd set up a whole different scène for them.
On the top floor there was a poker game going on, in a huge attic with a floor that was about to collapse in many places. The PCs tried to prevent the ringleader to escape over the rooftops (having been hired to take his head), in the process of which Leah sank through the floor and fell back to the floor below. The ringleader gave them some trouble with some mean tricks like flasks of acid, smokesticks to cover his retreat and ducking into the smoke of rooftop chimneys, but with a lucky shot the ranger managed to nail him with one of their homemade firebombs. The ringleader ended up barely recognisable enough to collect the bounty.
Despite the monk having sunk to a single hit point due to her crash through the floor, the PCs decided to check out the graverobbings they'd heard about before getting any healing. Admittedly, they have to economise on healing, since it's very hard for them to get by (they have to trade in one of their few ancient manuscripts or do some kind of job for the priest every time to skip ahead of the three day line). I'd told them in advance not having a cleric would be hard, but they chose to do it this way, and heck, so far they're not doing too poorly!
The graverobbings were taking place in the Temple of Heironous, which was of course empty, the army having enlisted all of the clerics and palladins. Now, two of my players picked evil gods to worship when the game started, despite their characters' neutral alignements. The palladin-hating fighter's choice for Hextor made some kind of sense, but Roscoe's choice for Nerull was really out there. I tried getting the message across by installing a sort of alarm system on the Heironous temple for invading followers of evil gods, featuring a huge glowy eye in the wall and two metal hands, firing jolts of electricity at trespassers (reminiscent of Heironous' emblem).
The ranger and the monk went in alone, as the alarmsystem would not target them, and made their way to the crypt, where they encountered a half-orc twin, and a very, very old halfling. Surprisingly, it took some time for the players to make the connection with the halfling who robbed Father Elbereth. In fact, they only figured it out once they let him walk out, the old halfling kindly spinning some lie about coming to visit the grave of his son. When they tracked the halfling, the trail again deadended in the sewer, but not before they caught a glimpse of the halfling's rowboat.
The next morning, healed in trade for their last scrap of ancient parchment, they were woken up by Devon Wallander, bodyguard to the kidnapped prince. He gave them the what's what, telling them that in order to leave town and to go investigate the place where the prince was kidnapped for tracks, they would have to get their paperwork back, and the best way to do that would be to talk to Hugo Von Brandt, who might be sympathetic to their cause. Since they were still owed some money by the city guard which they couldn't get without their paperwork the PCs were quite keen on meeting Hugo.
Devon suggested they could meet Hugo at one of Lord Aspereti's balls. As you've read, I'd prepared this "dungeon" for last session, but didn't get to use it, which was quite dissapointing, so it seemed like a nice way to bring it back. What's more, when checking out the mansion for possible underground entrances in the sewer (as the PCs aren't exactly invited to the ball) Arkan discovered a small subterranean dock, with the old halfling's boat moored to it...
Okay, so that wasn't exactly as brief as I thought it would be.
Next session we'll probably tackle the PCs actually infiltrating the party, and finally confronting the halfling, who's a character I put a fair amount of work into. I'd forbidden my players to be bards, and that is in fact what the halfling is. I'm also planning to play him like a really sly old bastard, always pretending to be a frail old man and hiding behind his goons.
What's more, we'll get ahead with the main plot some, and with those papers they'll make some more money, though with today's antics they've already managed to earn enough to get back Arkan's ancestral bow. They also might find out some more about the ancients in Aspereti's zombie filled basement...
Comments are really, like, very, very welcome!
Even moreso are ideas about stuff to do next!
Last edited by MrEdwardNigma; 2011-03-22 at 08:50 AM.
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Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
The 'alarm' at the Temple of Heironous was a fun idea.
Also if they're taking a secret underground entrance, won't they have to go through the zombie basement before getting to the party?
I can't believe you spent most of those 9 hours on combat
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Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
Yes, they would indeed, and that is in fact what they ended up doing. After about two hours of deliberation...
But anyways, when the game finally shifted into gear...
The Party Goes to the Party, and Ends Up in the Gutter
The party yet again made their way down to the sewer. It was beginning to dawn on them they were spending more time down here than in the actual city and the most important reason to even bother paying for a stay in an inn these days was the use of a bath. Even with the twice-daily scrubbings they got pretty odd looks from most who weren't trying to kill them and were in full possession of their olfactory senses. That was the good thing about hanging out with dirtpoor Milo Armourfoot, the subterranean ferryman, he smelt worse than them.
Since the underground dock they had found at Asperetti's mansion could only be reached by boat, they chartered Milo and his gondola to ferry them back and forth. They would soon discover that the halfling's rates for a boatride there and back for four were lower than the price of a single matchstick in town, so it came at no great cost to them. They even gave him a two silverpiece tip, feeling particularly generous.
This time the mysterious elderly bard's boat was not moared at the dock, which the party considered good news. They proceeded to make their way down the corridor, only to be faced with a series of traps. Since the rogue of the party has a pretty abysmall Search skill (sinking most points in Hide and Move Silently) they failed to spot the spiked pit trap, but were saved by the rogue's great reflex saves. Then Ezrael, on tank duty as always, soaked all the damage from an arrowtrap and managed to hoist up a gate that had come clattering down after the party set off all the defences.
Still, with the party going on upstairs, Asperetti was none the wiser, and the PCs had plenty of time to loot the books Asperetti had stolen from poor Father Elbereth as well as his own notes and the first part of a mysterious device. They also found a series of zombies caged up in the basement and were wise enough not to set off a device hooked up to some still-dead corpses.
Fearing Arkan's horrible charisma score and Ezrael's terrible stealth, the rogue and the monk went up alone. They exited the secret entrance to Asperetti's basement of horrors, which was hidden by a particularly gruesome statue of a huge maggotlike creature, and managed to knock out a party guest on her way to the loo. Not exactly being a mannered bunch, the team undressed her, tied her up, and stashed her in the toilets. No, not in a bathroom stall or something of the sort, actually in the toilet. The medieval sort, the board with holes in it...
The monk's appetite didn't exactly seem to be affected though. After wringing herself into the dress (taking 20 on the disguise check) she made her way to the buffet at the party and started stuffing herself. The halfling snuck in under the hoops of her dress and spent most of the party idly pointing his dagger at people and begging for scraps from Leah.
Leah finally managed to locate Hugo Von Brandt, the man they came to see, and started up a conversation with him. Von Brandt was a large, gruff and surprisingly practical man. He cut straight to the chase and didn't seem very perturbed at Leah's offer to go investigate the scène of the prince's kidnapping. He agreed to provide them with their passports and a small amount of money to help them on their way and then told Leah to shoo as Fieldmarshal Varkas walked up to him.
The PCs snuck out the way they came, but found an unpleasant surprise waiting for them: the elderly halfling and his two half-orc goons. One of the orcs had taken Milo hostage and was holding him up over the thick waters of the sewer, his big feet bound in heavy chains. The halfling bard suggested a non-violent solution, but the PCs were against it. They charged the half-orcs, but neglected the sway the bard had over their will-save challenged partymembers. Ezrael (whom they really rely upon to tank) and Roscoe (whom they need for sneak attack damage) were soon off to the land of dreams, Ezrael again tipping over and landing unfortunately in the sewer waters.
Leah saw no choice but to dive in as well to rescue both the fighter and Milo, who were each sinking rapidly in the sludge. Meanwhile the ranger was left to his own devices facing the two half-orcs and the bard, none of them damaged. He loosed some shots with his very small supply of arrows and, well, in that moment it looked very bad for the PCs. It looked very much like they were going to croak. Arkan didn't really have a history of dealing a lot of damage and certainly couldn't take much himself. At first level pretty much the whole party had been wiped out by a single brute and now he was facing two plus buffs.
The ranger fled, jumping over the spiked pit trap in the corridor (remember that from earlier?) and managed to land one of the orcs in there with a lucky shot. One of his henchman impaled, the bard swiftly starting rowing away while the half-orc dived in the water to dispatch the monk. Alas, swimming penalties cost him his victory, and he too was downed. Or should I say drowned?
The elderly halfling was caught and Milo and Ezrael were saved. The party returned to Father Elbereth to receive their reward and some healing. The father was not so much interested in the thief, but more in his notes, but the party knew the perfect place to get a profit out of the bard anyways: the man who had promised a reward for the graverobbers. The racist thug was pleased that the trespasser had been a halfling and decided to give the bard a little "taste of his own medicine" as he called it. When the racist was about halfway through burying the halfling alive the PCs got remorse and decided to save the bard, reward be damned. They left the racist beat up in the graveyard and had the bard sail them to Milo's secret meet-up with the dwarves.
If you remember, they had found some scraps of paper indicating Milo was smuggling fleeing dwarves out of the city. Now was the time to confront him. Of course, since the dwarves in question had been captured by the city guard before their eyes, it wasn't long before things went terribly south. The city guards barged in and the PCs, Milo, the bard and the single dwarf that had showed up to the meeting (a paraplegic whose only reason for not attending the meeting at the smithess' was probably that he couldn't take the stairs) escaped narrowly amongst a hail of arrows.
Milo decided to skip town together with the bard and the dwarf and asked the party if they wanted to join them. They were also headed for Bree, the village near the site of the kidnapping, as it happened to be conveniently located nearby a pass to dwarven lands, or in other words: freedom. However, the party decided to stay, to handle unfinished business. Now I had planned on them coming with, or leaving through the gate, which would end them up drafted for the army. In either case they would have had a muchneeded cleric with them (the paraplegic dwarf happens to be a cleric), but they decided against it.
Of course, they couldn't possibly know I had prepared it this way and had valid reasons for staying in town, so I did not protest. Milo parted after a private conversation with Roscoe in which he confessed to all his little pieces of dirty business and asked him to finish some last tasks (thank you mootoall!). I like the way the party has now established a small group of seperately travelling friends who are also headed the way they ultimately will. It makes for a nice set-up for future plot.
After this, storywise, the session was fairly uneventful. The party handled a bunch of Milo's business (the rogue electing to let the others in on his business), did some shopping to prepare for the wilderness, and ended the session by heading back into the Hellpit. Yes, back.
I was as surprised as you might be. They didn't seem too keen on heading back for the kuo-toa's eggs, despite the high pay, and I didn't exactly think it was going to make a difference when Father Elbereth studied Asperetti's notes and the mysterious device and decided a next piece might be found in the ruins below the city. But apparently it did. The party has taken a liking to combat, and the fact that they are going to level at the beginning of next session does make them feel more confident about tackling this dungeon again.
Of course, this time they don't have Devon to clear the road for them... the path just might prove very dangerous...
So, what do you think? Have we gone in an interesting direction storywise?
How do you like the players?
How do you like the NPCs?
Let me know. Please do let me know, I feel like I'm begging here!
Last edited by MrEdwardNigma; 2011-03-22 at 08:51 AM.
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Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
I'm back with more. Barely anyone's reading this, but whatever.
The Party Goes To War
The party found themselves facing a dungeoncrawl. One they had already done, but would now do again, in reverse. Through the sewers they had made their way back into The Hellpit, the dungeon the whole adventure started in.
Of course, first they got to level, making them more apt to tackle the dangerous depths of Highhaven. Ezrael Shadowbane now has three times as much hit points as Roscoe, while Roscoe took two-weapon fighting as his new feat and has pretty much become the silent murdermachine he had always hoped to be. When flanking he gets to deal two hits, both with 2d6 sneak attack damage
The zombies that were blocking the only entrance pretty much proved no problem. Much less the bugbear that I had planned to be utterly destructive to a level 2 party. However, they got cocky and headed down a hallway splattered with blood and the scratchmarks of those dragged down it, only to meet a whole horde of bugbears and have to retreat.
Eventually they found themselves in a section of the dungeon they'd already passed through and found the young of the kobolds they had slaughtered on their first time through hiding there. They had been joined by a kobold known as Thing, a horribly scarred creature who had spent some time as a pet to some abusive humans (the kind that were dropped down the Hellpit to die). In his time with the humans, Thing had learnt some Common, so he was able to ask the PCs for help. Basically he needed the party to guide him and the other kobolds to another kobold camp in the dungeon, because after the party had breeched their defences here, the goblins had overrun the camp.
Ah yes, the goblins. As it turns out, they were taking over pretty much the entire dungeon under the leadership of one Yossoth the Mighty. The party's murderous passage had upset the balance in their favour, and Yossoth was pretty close to exterminating the kobolds pretty much entirely. The party agreed to help them, which, in hindsight, was a good thing. They almost ended up getting slaughtered by some goblins and when three of them were ganged up to coup de grace a downed Leah Ellinit, the kobolds threw themselves at the goblins, providing just the edge the PCs needed to win.
I think at this point it was proven that death is a very distinct possibility in this game, adding to the gravity of the whole thing. The PCs had retrieved the kuo-toa eggs they came to get, but were now all the more inclined to keep searching the dungeon for the missing artifact. Once they found this part of it, they might be able to fix it up and have their own little healing machine to carry with them...
The kobolds rewarded the PCs for their help with a big party and some homemade trinkets (not the kind that are worth anything) and finally their leader worked up the courage to ask them if they might be so kind as to take out Yossoth. To my great surprise, they seriously considered it. The kobolds had no cash or goods to offer, and the great mobs of goblins they'd have to face to even get to Yossoth promised to be overwhelming, but somehow these kobolds had struck a sensitive chord, especially with Roscoe, normally the coldest and most calculating of the bunch. It might have been sort of a shared-size sympathy...
Even as they headed back into town to cash in their reward for the eggs and get some healing from Father Elbereth, the Pcs were seriously divided on whether or not to head back. I ended up dissuading them somewhat, since the dungeon chapter had taken a lot longer than I'd expected anyways, and I hadn't planned anything exceptionally interesting about Yossoth. In fact, I thought it would be more interesting if he could live to see another day
So they spent another day in town lazing around, visiting the hookers, getting a whole lot of drinking done, or, in Roscoe's case, sitting in his room guarding the pile of gold the party had gathered. The next morning they snuck out of town through the sewers, passing through the swamp of **** locals called the Dredge. After a particularly disgusting random encounter there with a crocodile who managed to submerge all of them in the murky Dredge waters, they headed out on the River Filth.
As they were making a pitstop to get themselves somewhat washed up, a carriage passed on a road very near the river, and stopped. The halfling used his ridiculous +12 hide check to pretty much vanish in a patch of grass while the others were immediately spotted by the soldiers exiting from the carriage.
At this point I'd pretty much thrown away the "PCs get drafted into the army" plotline, but it proved I needed to dig it back up. The soldiers asked for the PCs passports, and not only Arkan and Ezrael, but also Leah (on one last drunken night in town) had volunteered for the army. Roscoe hadn't, and how could he considering he spent all his time in his room at the Swan, but that didn't matter as the soldiers hadn't even seen him. The party (sans Roscoe) was shoved onto the carriage with the other soldiers and the convoy departed. Roscoe managed to slip onto the supply wagon.
When the convoy met up with some civilians fleeing to town at sundown, they all set up camp together and a sort of party was held. One last night of freedom before the war begins, that sort of thing. While the monk, still the most sociable player and character, and the fighter were making friends with some of the armymen, Arkan spent his time away from the camp, tightening his bowstrings and contemplating the stars. His seclusion from the group was of course very much in character, considering his poor social skills, his loner lifestyle and his hatred of all mankind. This made it not so surprising that when a little farmgirl came up to him to ask for help, he just snapped at her until she cried.
The little girl, finding no help in the soldiers, decided to sneak onto the supply cart, as she was looking for a way back to Bree, where her parents had left her grandmother behind. Roscoe was also still on this cart, stuffing himself with the army supplies, but he was so well hidden she couldn't even see him while sitting next to him. They spent the rest of the trip in silence. As did Arkan, who, even when offered to switch with someone and take a seat inside the carriage, preferred to stay on top of it, to have a better view of the surroundings and not have to interact with anyone.
Ezrael and Leah had taken a completely opposite approach to things and had quickly found some people they knew amongst the soldiers. I'd thrown a couple of minor characters from earlier in their group to make things interesting. Notably, a Highhaven guard whose life Ezrael had not only spared but saved in combat (pulling him out of the sewer water while he was drowning), the hobo whom they had arrested in the sewer for tearing people apart while on the buzz of what the party has dubbed "ragevials" and finally the prison guard, from waaaaaaay in the beginning in the game, who gave them the dagger that helped in their escape from the Hellpit.
They finally arrived in Bree but rode right past it and to the Dunkragg Pass, which basically leads to dwarven lands. Here a fort was established to guard the border, and here they would be stationed. When they arrived Roscoe disguised himself as a soldier to join his friends and actually helped the farmgirl exit the fort. The PCs were then introduced to their drillmaster, a huge man (think Brian Blessed) with a whip, a voice like rolling boulders and two huge dogs flanking him. They spent about a week in training, and let me tell you, it was hell.
All of them at some point got their hair shaved off, and most of them at some point had to take care of the drillmaster's dogs, which mostly involved cleaning up after them. Each day at least two of them collapsed in exhaustion. The end of training was marked by gladiatorial combat amongst the trainees, where, eventually, they had to fight each other.
Arkan had to fight Roscoe, who threw up a dust curtain for cover in the terrible heat of the Dunkragg pass, but was still eventually put down by a well-aimed arrow. He then had to face Leah, which was a problem considering her "deflect arrow" feat. Still, someone threw him a blade so he at least stood a chance, and he just barely managed to take her down. Finally he was up against the fighter. And was one-hitted.
The fighter, declared most competent amongst the trainees, was commisionned by the drillmaster for a special task, despite their initial differences. They were going to blow up the Dunkragg Pass.
So next session will begin with an explosives run to an old dwarven mine.
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Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
Glad to know there's some interest
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Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
The Hunt for Red
SpoilerWe find our heroes sleeping restlessly in the army barracks of Dunkragg Fort. Their dreams transported them to a time in the past, when all was still well. The players were surprised to be handed different charactersheets. These sheets described their characters before the start of the game. I'd hidden some interesting knowledge on the sheets, mostly in the form of inventory items, but most of that was missed out on. That didn't matter much though, as I plan to hand them these sheets more often.
The heroes found themselves transported to the very beginning of the story: the carriage to Highhaven, together with the prince. There was of course some initial confusion as they didn't really know what was going on and the prince got to do a whole lot more of his monologue about his past adventures with hookers than I had planned. At least it led to the players liking the prince, which I consider a pluspoint when the main mission of the entire campaign is to save him.
It was at this point that the coach was, unavoidably, ambushed. This was the ambush where the prince would get kidnapped, the players now realised. They were able to dodge the capsules of sleeping gas that were shot into the coach, allowing them to stay awake longer than they had the first time through. Leah, however, was instantly one-shotted by an arrow when she tried to escape the carriage and her limp body rolled away into the forest underbrush. Without their de facto leader the party didn't manage to put up much of a fight but at least they got a good look at the leaders of their ambushers: a redhaired elf, an enormous lanky man with bulging muscles and a bespectacled fellow handling a huge dwarven gun. All of their ambushers were wearing a piece of bright red cloth somewhere. The designated antagonists at last.
They all woke up in the barracks and heard a tapping at the wall. When Ezrael went to investigate he found Hugo Von Brandt's raven, sent to them with a message. I had a handout for this occassion:
Restorers of the Pact,
I have received word that you have joined up with the army at Dunnkrag Pass, though there is no record of your halfling companion. I hope he is well. As far as covers go, this is probably the best thinkable one for your mission. A band of unallied mercenaries in war territory draws much suspicion, a group of rowdy soldiers much less. I see that my confidence in you was not in vain.
The power balance in Highhaven has shifted heavily, though I hesitate to say it has been restored to its former self. The day after your departure creatures started surfacing from the sewers. This subterranean invasion is led by a certain Yossoth, or The Mighty as his people erronously refer to him.
Fieldmarshal Varkas and his men have left the city to fend for itself against the infestation, returning me to my seat of authority. I believe they felt they could not spare the manpower. I cannot help but smile on this development. However, the nightly attacks have also been accompanied with many problems. A great deal of the wealthier citizens of Highhaven have fled for safer places, and the curfew we've had to enforce combined with the threat and the looming war have brought tourism to a complete standstill.
I have opted to transform the city into a fortress, as safe from both foreign as internal invasion as is possible. The sewers have been locked down entirely and a heavily armed watch patrols the streets at night. We have withdraw from the affairs of the empire almost entirely.
Hugo Von Brandt
P.S. Destroy this message upon reading it and send back the raven once you have relevant information pertaining to your investigation. In the mean time, take good care of her. She can feed herself with small rodents and such but is especially fond of the tender parts of chicken. You may give this to her as a treat.
It seemed to help give the feeling I was going for: that this was a living and vibrant world where things continued to happen even when the PCs weren't present. It also shed some new light on the consequences of their own actions. They cursed themselves for not taking care of Yossoth when they had the chance, but at least Von Brandt seemed to have thing under control.
Back to the here and now! The party was to retrieve explosives from a nearby abandoned mine to blow up the Dunkragg Pass. For this purpose Ezrael had been allowed to select a team of six, himself included. The first three choices were of course obvious, but the latter two were more interesting. He chose the NPC dwarf that was being held captive in the fort as one companion, since dwarves are pretty much the sole race with a handle over explosives in this setting, and the final teammember was... another PC.
Yes, that's right, we had been joined by a fifth player for the duration of this session. He was being played by someone completely unknowledgeable in D&D to whom we were trying to prove the merit of our hobby. This meant I had to provide a character for him, and I went all out, providing four sheets of background story, which he had been immersed in reading as the other players took care of the flashback.
His character was Jacob Miller, a Rogue 1/Fighter 2 who dualwielded a sword and "Elaine's Knife". Elaine being his wife who nearly killed him by stabbing him in the heart with that very knife for being a lowlife. Now he is seeking redemption in the army and he has been approached by the drillmaster to be his spy in the little team of PCs. Should they try to desert or otherwise disobey orders, he was to send word. I'd carefully hidden this snippet of information at the end of the four pages of background. Miller, however, turned out to be a bit of a wildcard.
The party set off, but of course their first stop wasn't the mine. In fact, they never got to the mine during this session. Miller anxiously made note of this fact. Instead they went to the scène of the ambush, which was their original reason for coming to Bree. One very poor tracking check later they discovered that the only traces they could find were those of the coach itself, which had been dragged away. With some more luck on a spotcheck, they also found out they were being watched by a very large bird.
The owner of the bird was a mysterious man known as Alexander Ducroix who didn't seem to mind particularly that his pet had been followed. Ducroix was a junior officer of the post, a Postmaster, and had been sent to track down a missing shipment of mail that had been on the same carriage the heroes had. He had managed to follow the coach's tracks, but they ended up at a large bandit camp in some ruins, so he was happy to meet some people who were heavily armed and also intending to tackle that problem. Ducroix offered them payment for the missing mail, and promised to await them in the local inn, exercising one of his hobbies: sitting hooded in a corner being mysterious.
So they went the only way that made sense: to the bandit camp. Which meant that again they weren't headed for the mine. Miller took note.
They took out some guardposts with ease before arriving at the main camp and discovered that all these bandits wore the same pieces of red cloth their ambushers had. The actual bandit camp was located in a ruin, which was basically a big pit with a single access point: some ancient stairs. The heroes took advantage of this, bottlenecking their assailants when they were discovered. During the confusion of the combat the NPC dwarf found himself alone with Ezrael Shadowbane, and decided this would be the opportune time to flee. He was wrong. He hit Ezrael over the head with his mace, which barely even dented his helmet, and was hit back in retaliation.
Ezrael forgot to mention "non-lethal" damage and made some pretty good rolls, shattering the dwarf's skull with the wooden beam the fighter used as a weapon. When the bandits regrouped inside the ruin, far too many to fight in their weakened condition, the PCs stood bent over the dwarf's corpse. His death changed a lot. He had been an important character in the plot, but they of course didn't know about that. What they had known about was that the dwarf was Miller's responsibility. Miller grievingly threw away his notebook. There was no way he'd be returning to the army without being courtmarshalled.
Before the party could flee the ruin, they suddenly found themselves surrounded by kuo-toa. 8 of them: their old "friend" and his seven brothers and sisters, now hatched from their eggs. The frogpeople were working for a mysterious employer and had business here, same as the PCs. However, all they were interested in is what lay inside the central pit in the camp, where the bandits sometimes chucked prisoners in, to keep the monsters below happy...
They made a deal: they would cooperate, and the PCs would get everything aboveground, the kuo-toa everything below. With the help of eight extra snipers to position around the edges of the pit they had no trouble slaughtering what was left of the bandit troupe, even though the PCs ended up taking the brunt of the combat damage, being stationed at the stairs to prevent them from escaping.
Their weakened status made the party unable to question the kuo-toa, so they just took what they were allowed to, being glad to be given that at least. From the interrogation of one of the bandits who hadn't fled into the ominous pit or died at the volley of arrows and some notes that were lying around in the leader's quarters they managed to piece together quite a bit of information. The three men they had seen in their dream/flash-back belonged to this group of thugs, and the red haired elf was in fact their leader. He was referred to simply as "Red". The man handling the dwarven equipment was his second in command, Doctor "Serious" Sirius, and the monstrous fellow was know simply as "Mutton", and feared for his great strength.
It appeared that Red had spent some time planning the assault, purchasing dwarven equipment through a particular dwarf... the NPC that lay dead right outside the ruins. After the ambush Red and his most loyal men had crossed the pass with their kidnappee, most likely headed for Sanctuary, the nearest city across the border, and also the origin of the dwarven equipment.
Where they would head next seemed pretty straightforward, but then Jacob Miller exited the room where the bandits kept their loot, loaded with everything they'd ever robbed, including the bag of mail from the coach. He grinned at the PCs, and made a small bow. Before anyone could stop him, he leapt down the pit, loot and all.
The player had to head home at this point, and felt the move made sense for his character. They'd allowed him to loot the stash by himself, and coming back home to his wife wealthy might just be the sort of redemption he needed. I agreed that it made perfect sense, and allowed it, much to the chagrin of the other players.
They grudgingly headed back to the local Fork Inn, the kuo-toa threatening them with death should they follow their friend into the forbidden depths, and met up with Ducroix. They related what had happened to him in a hushed conversation, and were soon joined by the halfling bard from back in Highhaven. He, Milo and the paraplegic dwarf had made it to Bree some time ago, and the bard made them some money by occasionally playing in the inn.
The three of them wanted to cross the border through the same mine the party should be headed to for explosives to blow up the pass. The party admitted that this was their plan too, but they were afraid to be tracked magically through their paperwork when deserting the army. Ducroix smiled. He happened to be a bureaucrat, he knew something about this matters, surely he could hide them from detection if he were to travel with them? Of course, he would only be this kind should they retrieve his bag of mail for him after all...
Oh yes, they were heading into another Pit.
Comments and ideas are very welcome!!!
Last edited by MrEdwardNigma; 2011-08-17 at 12:16 PM.
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- May 2011
Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
I am enjoying reding your campaign. It seems like the plot is well thought out and tht the players each have crafted characters that have life and are entertaining (ie. Halfling-under-the-skirt entertaining).
It's good that you have many things happening in the background as well, so it doesn't seem like the pc's have to do everything to make anything progress.
I'd put forth the suggestion that at some point towards a natural break point, like the pc's switching sides in the war or finaly solving the hellpit issue, that the pc's should be pitted against foes that outclass them as those fights, as long as the pc's have a chance of survival, are very entertaining and further help to set the precident of the world moving on it own course as not all encounters are tailored to the pc's power level, although you should definately ensure that you don't wipe them all out as you're just starting to get to know and like their characters now. For example, the pre climax mini climax of phase 1 of my campaign (shameless thread plug: A Swordsage's Journal, the gladiator pits. Soon to be a new HBO hit series), will see 5 level 4 charcters pitted against a level 9 templated pc class villian and his 8 minions, half higher level than the pc's, half lower, along with 3 "secrect weapon" monsters who far outclass them. My pc's will have a few allied npc's, but I expect a number to die on Sunday (although I'm probably a little more ruthless and bloodthirsty a dm than you). I find that capstone encounters that are incredibly tough, maybe even too tough, are fun to run, fun for the players to try to survive and either gives the survivors great sense of accomplishment and any who die a great story about it, instead is just, "I died when a goblin hit me in the head after I killed 4 other goblins.". As long as the pc great risks/deaths enable the game to move on where it would othwerwise not or at a transition between the "phases" of a campaign, when the new characters come in, they'll be excited about picking up where they left off. Think "the Magnificent 7", if Yule Brenner and Steve McQueen then formed another outlaw band and went hunting for aztec gold. :). The kind of stupidly overpowered villains I'm planning on using might not suit your campaign, but capstone threats that truely push the limits of your players are great.
- Join Date
- Apr 2007
Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
I do try using stuff like that. The intention is definitely not to have all fights scaled for the players, and I do believe they have gotten wise to this.
Digging deeper in the Hellpit for example, especially on their first run through, would have proven to be very lethal (think of the chamber of bugbears they had to flee from). The recent bandit encounter would have had overwhelming odds too, and they were wise to flee while they could, until of course they got back-up by the kuo-toa mercenary band. Can anyone guess who those guys are working for by the way? I wonder if it's too obvious.
I'm mainly planning on the most lethal encounters taking place in these dreams they have started having. Their first encounter with what appear to be the main villains for now, Red the banditleader, Doc Serious and Mutton, was pretty much impossible to win, as the one-shotting of the monk before combat even started properly showed. I'm doing this to instill a certain awe of their opponents. They are not scaled villains who they merely have to find to be able to beat up. They are dangerous and should be treated with extreme care and smarts, but if the PCs don't do it, no-one will, and this war will consume their world.
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- Feb 2010
Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
I like it and is very well done. I wouldn't say at Saph's or even SilverClawShift's level but better than some I have seen. Love how organic the characters and world feels. Keep it up I am looking forward to the next session.
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- Feb 2010
- Texas. It's too hot here.
Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
- Join Date
- Apr 2007
Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
While Miller's player enjoyed the game much more than he'd like to admit; I discovered having five players was getting in the way of moving forward with the story, especially because he was as loud and impulsive as Ezrael and Leah's players (great guys, but you don't want three of them in a room together).
So he probably won't be returning. I believe his character will return though, especially since he's now lugging around all that treasure they want back.
Last edited by MrEdwardNigma; 2011-08-21 at 02:51 AM.
- Join Date
- Oct 2007
- Sydney, NSW, Aus
Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
Play more, as I need to see where this story goes. Your sessions are very entertaining. :DMy blog, if you are interested in my rambling.
Avatar by Sneak. Praise be!
- Join Date
- Apr 2007
Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
I wouldn't worry about that, the next session is tomorrow
The plan right now is to head after Miller, and I'm guessing they'll encounter a whole host of problems.
- Join Date
- Apr 2007
Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
Miller's Tale, or How The Party Found Death
SpoilerWhen we last left our heroes they had decided to embark on a gambit to find their traitorous former partner, Jacob Miller, to take from his a bag of mail (and a bunch of money and jewels while they were at it) to then return these to Alexander Ducroix, postmaster and bureaucrat, so he would hide them from detection as they ventured forth into the Dwarven lands, where they would try to track down Red and his compatriots. It was not a very elegant plan.
However, at this very moment, it all boiled down to "jump into the pit". The gruesome screams coming from the pit each time before they had witnessed someone jump in there made the party a bit cautious, and they took care to break down the entire wooden plateau covering most of the pit. At this point they discovered the source of the screaming had been some Shriekers, mostly harmless mushrooms. Just to be sure they destroyed every single one of by slinging small rocks at them from a large distance.
Then they headed down into the pit and were so clumsy with the ropes that both the monk and the ranger were almost brought down to zero hitpoints through falling damage. To make matters worse, their clumsiness had pretty much destroyed their way back, so now they had to find another way out of the dungeon.
One scuffle with some gnolls later (who survived down there mostly by eating whomever the bandits threw in the pit) the monk had been brought down to -2 hit points. She was dying. Everyone failed their heal checks, so they decided to feed the monk one of the rage vials they'd been saving, to temporarily boost her health. As the turns she was alive through the singular grace of raging ran out the party was lucky enough to find a healing pad like the one in the first dungeon. They were actually just lucky here, since it had been in my plans all along, and wasn't just added to help them out of this situation.
The party proceeded into the darkness and after hacking their way through some huge spiderwebs and more mushrooms they found a little girl, mostly intact. The monk pressed her to her bossom and consoled the poor thing, who had lost her parents in the dungeon. The fighter just thought it was mighty suspicious she'd lasted this long and decided she must be evil. From this moment forth he refused to go in front of the girl in marching order, insisting to be right behind her with his blade drawn at all times. He also kept proclaiming she was evil. Eeeeeeevil!
However, the girl had seen their "friend", Jacob Miller, pass by, and could lead them through the mazelike corridors in the direction where he went. They followed her and walked right into a gnoll ambush. The fighter of course blamed the girl, until they took a proper hack at her, from which point the party practically threw themselves onto gnoll blades to save the girl. The ranger went so far as to taunt the gnolls into mostly attacking him, instead of the monk, who was again down to below zero hitpoints, or the girl.
This had a rather nasty ending. The ranger, Arkan Andon, reluctant hero of the human continent, found death in that corridor, by two good whacks of the gnolls. While the monk recovered again from her little trip into negatives, Arkan did not, and we hit a low-point. The party sat down and grieved as I thought about how to handle this.
Death was everything but easy to fix in this setting. I'd already told the players Raise Dead was basically unavailable (not per se impossible, but unavailable), besides, no-one felt like trucking down to the next big city to find someone who could help them. They needed to head to Sanctuary, and detours would only make Red's trail even colder.
A second option was letting him roll up a new character, which I would strongly suggest he would make a cleric. However, we'd grown attached to the grouchy and solitary elven sniper. I briefly contemplated rerolling the damage, perhaps not killing him this time, but quickly decided this woud set a poor precedent.
It was at this point the fighter surfaced two green vials from his backpack. The fluid which had turned dead creatures into zombies in the first dungeon and in Asperetti's secret cellar. He smashed the glass and poured them on the corpse of Arkan, whom I allowed a will save to retain his personality. He succeeded.
We messed around with his character sheet a bit until we found a suitable compromise between zombiehood and still being sentient. He'd gotten less agile, but stronger, his lowlightvision had been turned into darkvision, and his -2 modifier for charisma had become a -5. Arkan rose, and the party rejoiced.
They then continued following the little girl, and moments later the fighter was screaming "I was right, I was right!" as she spat some webbing to block him and the rogue off from the monk and the ranger, whom she'd led to her little lair. She was an Aranea (not sure how commonly this monster is actually used, but it's a spider who can take human and hybrid form) and the scariest thing in the entire dungeon. Her lair was filled with corpses, taped to the wall with webbing, and mostly eaten. Her favourite part seemed to be the face.
The fighter, who only managed to struggle through the webbing after Arkan had already killed the girl with his newfound Zombie Powers, spent about half an hour beating the corpse into a bloody pulp as the rest of the group searched the lair. They quickly discovered Miller had passed through, but had escaped from the webbing. They picked u the few coins and letters that had gotten stuck in the webs and followed the tracks Miller was now making: bloody ones.
They got disctracted on the way there by noises from an adjacent hallway. Calls for help. Very careful after the encounter with the spider, they sent the rogue there with his ridiculous hide and move silently checks and had him check it out, looking around corners by means of a mirror. He discovered a pit where one of the kuo-toa had fallen in to. They pulled him up, and then had a long debate about whether they REALLY felt like rescuing him. The debate was only decided once the kuo-toa said he was a cleric, and could help them.
Newly healed, they found the exit of the dungeon, an underwater swim through a narrow corridor. Miller had headed outside, so they followed. Outside they found traces of the rest of the kuo-toa (who had built a grave for the one that was tagging along with them, probably thinking him dead) and somewhat further on a stranded cart full of beer. The driver of the cart told them his horse had been stolen by a man passing by without a face: Miller, whose face had been eaten by the Aranea.
Over a few beers, the group discussed what to do next. The kuo-toa admitted that his brothers were looking for Miller as well, as he probably had the item they needed from the ruins. He wanted to join back up with his family, so he asked to join the party as they searched for Miller. The cartdriver needed to get this load of beer to Sanctuary, but first he needed to get his horse back, from Miller. He asked the party to arrange both these things when he found out the Dunkrag pass had been closed off.
Somewhat inebriated, the group of five headed off, following the horsetracks to a huge farmstead, surrounded by a moat of 25 foot wide, and closed off with a huge gate. Zombie Arkan decided the moat was no problem and just swam across, while the other decided to simply ring the bell. A farmer with one arm in a sling and a crossbow in his other arm soon arrived. He walked with a limp, and his face was covered in scars.
"Whattayawant?" he asked, dangerously waving around his crossbow with one hand.
"Uhm, we want to stay her tonight, is there like an inn or something?"
His mood swayed.
"Oh, no, there's no inn, but we always welcome travellers! Come in! Have you had dinner? There's someone else staying, and the wife just made him a good stew, you want some too? Homegrown veggies and homebred beef! Hrm, not sure about that frogfellow pet of yours though, you might wanna keep him on a leash not to scare the wife and daughter"
He walked them to the farmstead. Besides the actual house there were three other buildings surrounding the courtyard: the stables, a huge barn, and an even bigger barn with a walkway on top.
The other guest turned out to be an albino elf named Snowy, who wasn't exactly good at conversation. Most of his answers were wordless nods of yes or no. As the others were being bathed and fed, the lone ranger wandered around the courtyard, and finally found what was probably Miller's horse in the stables. Not knowing what else to do, he just sat down in hiding somewhere, and waited for something to happen.
The night proceeded somewhat calmly. The fighter was insensitive about Snowy's lack of pigmentation, after which he retired to his room, and Ezrael then tried to hit on the farmer's daughter. Only for some fun though, as he was still deeply in love with the Highhaven prostitute. His logic must have been: if she gets to sleep with others, so do I, but he failed somewhat and sleeping arrangements were made so that the monk (the only girl in the party) slept in the daughter's room, the rogue and the kuo-toa slept downstairs and the fighter slept in the storage room.
I asked the ranger to roll a spotcheck. He failed horribly. I rolled some checks myself. I asked him to roll a listencheck. Splashing in the water. Curious, he went over to the moat. It seemed three large Orcs had gotten the same idea as he. There was a glint in his eye as he reviewed his character sheet and found the bit saying "Favoured enemy: Orc". Then he rolled a 2 for initiative and they a 20 and they beat him to a pulp with their falchions (non-lethal damage, thank Gruumsh).
It was right about then everyone decided to sneak around the house, looking for Miller, whom the farmers must be hiding. Unfortunately they weren't the only ones to be sneaking around. Leah opened her door (using the excuse that she was going for a glass of water to the daughter) only to get a face full of sleeping gas. Ezrael tried to get out of the storage room, but someone had put a padlock on the outside of the door. Roscoe and the kuo-toa ran for the stairs as they heard Leah bump onto the floor, and were met by Snowy.
The elf grinned, and tossed another vial of sleeping gas. Two failed will saves later the dynamic duo was out for the count. It was down to Ezrael. He rammed his door, unhinging the thing and bursting out into the hallway. Right across the hallway the Farmer did the same.
"Where's my daughter!" he growled as he shook the monk back to life.
His daughter was outside, being mounted onto a horse by some veyr unscrupulous orcs. Snowy grinned, but his smile soon faded as the rogue, the kuo-toa and the fighter ran onto the courtyard. Then the upstairs window smashed and the farmer stepped out, blasting a crossbowbolt at one of the orcs and fiercely yelling "Wife! Reload my crossbow!". Then the monk smashed through the window, ran across the roof of the porch, jumped down into the courtyard, tumbled, and threw a spear, right into the horse, which ran off into the night after throwing off the daughter and an orc.
Snowy swore and mounted his own horse, riding off (and leaving behind the orcs). The orcs mostly ran instead of putting up a fight, recognising a superior force when they saw it. However, suddenly they turned around, and started running towards the PCs. The rest of the kuo-toa group had tracked Miller here as well, and was now walking into the farm's gates.
Caught between two fires, two of the orcs were quickly dispatched, while a third fled into the farm. The fighter ran after him, but then he heard noise both upstairs and downstairs. He went for the upstairs noise. Miller bolted past him, smashed a window and tried to vault across the chasm between the first floor of the farm and the walkway on top of the big barn. He missed, smashed into the wall and fell, failing a tumble check.
The fighter and the monk started pursuit, while the kuo-toa held the rogue and the ranger (retrieved from the mud) hostage. They really wanted that artifact.
The chase was sort of crazy. Miller climbed up a tree, jumped onto the walkway, and jumped off, into the moat, trying to swim across. The fighter followed from below, the monk from above. Miller dramatically failed his swimcheck, and sank to the bottom of the moat, where the fighter had to save him.
Naturally, when the kuo-toa arrived at the scene, they'd already pocketed all of Miller's money, the jewels, the bag of mail (thoroughly soaked), the artifact, his precious knife and a sunrod. They denied having seen or found the artifact, and the kuo-toa sent two of their number to investigate the room Miller had been staying in, where they found the last Orc.
The combat that ensued providing enough noise and distraction for the rogue to pocket the artifact and hide it properly upon his person. The kuo-toa were unable to find it when they searched his bag, which was absolutely stuffed with the weapons of fallen foes. The rogue shrugged and said he wanted to sell them in the next city they came to.
Dissapointed, the kuo-toa dragged Miller off to the place where the Farmer slaughtered his cows, to "question" him. They bade the party farewell, healed the ranger, and witnessed them quickly leaving, claiming they'd just sleep somewhere else, as it was nearing morning already.
They then returned to the cart of beer and celebrated.
A nice, self-contained story, even if I do say so myself. As soon as they took care of the Miller problem the session seemed sort of wrapped up. Crossing the mountains will be for the next session.
Oh, and somehow it wasn't mentioned in the log, but the farmer's big barn was where he bred his velociraptors. He only kept the cows as velociraptorfood. I was hoping someone would open up the velociraptorpatch at some point, or at least fall inside and die horribly, but alas.
When they recompensed the farmer for his dead horse, he gave each of the party members a ticket for the arena though, for whom he bred the raptors. Should they ever go to that part of the world, they will have free entrance and a complimentary snack! Yay!
Comments are as always thoroughly welcome and appreciated.
- Join Date
- Apr 2007
Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
Fire and Ferocious Fighting
SpoilerWhen we last left our heroes, they were in dire need of sleep. As once before, when they started playing, they were handed character sheets of their past selves. This time however the dream took them back further in the past.
The party found themselves in an armoury, where Ezrael was absentmindedly honing his blade. Arkan and Leah's sheets were pretty much unchanged from their last visit to the past, but Roscoe found himself shackled without any memory why. It is important to mention that this far in the past, the characters didn't know each other and Arkan, leah and Roscoe really have no place in this setting. This is Ezrael's memory, and a very tragic one at that.
A small serf entered, and asked Ezrael if he was ready for the fight. He nodded, and the serf ran out. Outside, someone was calling for Ezrael. "Shadowbane, you blasted coward, come out and face your beating!". The warrior picked up his blade and exited into the courtyard, where a man in gilded armour with a toothpaste smile was waiting. Maximus, a fellow trainee at paladin school, because that is where this particular memory has taken us. "Ah, there he is! Let's make this quick, shall we? I have some maidens to please! Haha!" laughed the hulk. A circle of men formed around the two combatants. Maximus took out his flail.
Meanwhile, inside, the others had made a pitiable attempt to free the halfling from his shackles. This having failed, Leah headed to the kitchens for something to eat, as she felt just as hungry as during the fasting in the monastery. Arkan headed up some s tairs to a gallery to overlook the battle, and Roscoe followed, hopping clumsily up the stairs.
The battle was quite a sad affair. Both me and Ezrael's player rolled a load of critical fails and the epic confrontation was sort of reduced to a slapstick farce. Still, I spiced the thing with a whole lot of banter from Maximus. "Is that all you've got? Haha!", "Stand still and take your beating like a man!" or "Tis but a scratch, you hit like a commoner, sir! Haha!".
Ezrael eventually beat Maximus down to one hitpoint, but then he noticed a plume of thick smoke rising from across the street and remembered what day it was: the day his parents died in a fire. He ran off, Maximus shouting "Like the dog you are, fleeing with your tail between your legs!" after him. He plummeted in through the blaze in the front door, into the hall, where he found his father's corpse, thoroughly hacked to death. He sunk down to his knees crying (a nice feat of roleplaying), closed his father's eyes, crossed his arms and switched his blade for the ancestral heirloom his dad was wielding. Then he followed the bloody footsteps to the courtyard, again diving through a wall of fire and taking damage.
There he heard a soft scream from inside the stables, where he found his mother, floating about four feet above the ground. Lucinda Blackwater-Shadowbane, not as common a woman as she had always seemed. The revelation that his mother had magic powers sort of startled my player. He'd never imagined there could be a twist to the background story he had made up for himself. Showing himself a true roleplayer, he tried to talk to his mother, even when she tried slinging spells at him and when the others entered and started firing at her.
Roscoe was the only one who'd stayed outside. Due to his low hitpoints and shackles, the player decided he'd be better off trying to put out the fire. No-one would help him because everyone hated the evil Shadowbanes (present company excluded) and he was forced to hop two streets further where there was a well. He spent pretty much the rest of the dream trying to hop there and fill a bucket of water, difficult tasks when shackled.
Meanwhile, Lucinda escaped in a magical fog, shedding doubt over whether she ever actually died in the fire, and the party discovered a secret entrance beneath the statue of a Shadowbane ancestor in the courtyard. Beneath the earth they found a complex with prisoners, all trying desperately to escape the flaming inferno, a torture chamber, a huge hexagram attached to machines much like those in the ruins of the ancients, and finally, a creature.
They found the thing in the armoury. It had a yellow blob of a body, one eye, six limbs and robes with a symbol with an uncanny resemblance to the maggotlike creature they had seen as several ancient statues. They found another one of the bodies,d ead and with a huge hole in the back of it's skull near the hexagram. This one had armed itself with two shields and two swords. This is a homebrew creature that can make an attack with each limb each turn, when holding a weapon, can use extra limbs for walking for extra speed (up to four) and can stack shieldbonuses by carrying several. With some luck the fight was over sooner than it should have been.
The PCs woke up at their camp near Bree, and for a moment they thought the smell of the fire had lingered, only to discovered there was a new inferno: The Fork Inn was on fire. The wheelwhair-bound dwarf and Milo Armourfoot related some vague story to them about how the halfling bard had set up some deal in the tavern and was still there, probably. In truth he'd gone to sell ragevials to the hobo from Highhaven who had been drafted into the army. Animal, they had dubbed him.
After some dangerous climbing through the remains of the crumbling building, there was a climactic showdown between Leah and Ezrael on the one hand, and Animal on the other, and like any good showdown, it took place on the rooftop. Animal had been transformed by the new batch of ragevials into a reddishly scaled humanoid with huge claws, and he was holding the bard hostage. I thought it funny the PCs were now willing to risk their lives for a PC they had previously intended to kill themselves, without any promise of reward whatsoever.
The battle was fierce, but finally, as the building collapsed under them, Ezrael managed to chop the hopped-up hobo in half, and Leah saved the bard from a plummet to his death. Before the armed forces from the fortress could arrive, the party escaped and rode out to the mines with the cart of beer they were going to sell in Sanctuary.
The trip was a difficult one, even with the dwarven cleric. When they hit some very loose sand, they were forced to abandon the carriage, and move on by foot. They soon found out the reason for the loose sand: an Ankheg.
It turned out that despite all their power, the hit-and-run tactics of the Ankheg were very effective. It snatched Leah, reduced her to below zero hitpoints, and dragged her off into the walls, collapsing the tunnel behind it.
The situation seemed pretty desperate, but eventually they were able to lure out the Ankheg with a mating call (imitated by an original use of Talk to Animals), strapping the undead Arkan to it, as he wouldn't need to breathe when dragged down to it's lair, and then digging to it's lair as Arkan fed Leah their last ragevials for temporary hitpoints and made noise so they could be found.
The Ankheg, previously only scared off by one of their improvised molotovs, later again ambushed them on a rickety elevator, and finally met its death at the tip of Ezrael's blade. It is a fate many of my monsters share.
With a final explosion with some found dynamite they blew their way out of the mines, and exited on the other side of the mountains, Dwarven lands. Levelling, which they had so been looking forward to, would be for the start of next session.
Last edited by MrEdwardNigma; 2012-02-18 at 09:34 PM.
- Join Date
- Apr 2007
Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
It's been about three sessions since the last time I posted, so a lot happened, which I will try to summarize entertainingly below.
Sanctuary, Last Home of the Free
SpoilerThe party crawled out of the mine in an old abandoned railyard. It appeared the mine was to provide a railway connection to human lands but construction was abandoned before it was finished. They crawled out of the railway pit and found themselves in a forest. After some aimless wandering, the four heroes decided that they couldn't orient themselves after the twists and turns of the mine, so they sent Leah up to climb a tree. Ezrael stuck with her, as did the two halflings and the dwarf, but Roscoe and Arkan went off to investigate some howling they'd heard in the distance.
They found a corpse of an elf, nailed to a tree with a strange ornamental spike. Some wolves were feeding off the dead man as they arrived, and Roscoe decided to sneak closer to see if he recognised the elf as belonging to Red's party. Unfortunately, he hadn't taken into account the wolves' sense of smell.
Combat ensued, but with two frontline fighters short it proved difficult for Roscoe and Arkan. Eventually they managed to scare the wolves away, and Arkan caught one, which he calmed down with animal empathy. As the party had just leveled, Arkan had unlocked his animal companion, but I had ruled that he had to find and tame one first. This wolf (he picked the most slobbery and drooly one of the bunch) was to become Horf, his companion.
More bad luck hit the two as an elf appeared out of the woods. He introduced himself as Keeper, a druid, and a guardian of the Forgotten Woods. These woods, aptly so named as the forgotten lands above the dwarven cities, except for this particular cult of treehugging elves, and Sanctuary, a city of hovels home to scoundrels and thieves of all sorts. What's more, the dead elf belonged to his cult, and the treetops were filled with hidden archers. Roscoe and Arkan had some explaining to do.
Without Leah to act as the face of the party Roscoe soon put his foot in his mouth and mentioned that he worshipped Nerrull. As it happens, these guys worshipped Obad-Hai, and weren't exactly friendly with the local cult of Nerrull. In fact, the other cult came around every fall to kill a bunch of them and nail them up on trees. Ouch.
At the point where diplomacy was going to help no further, Ezrael stormed out of the treeline and attacked the druid. Pure muscle soon turned out not to be enough though to bring down the group of elves and after a few quick rounds of combat Ezrael got a final whack in the head with a Shillelagh. With a few good rolls and a great monologue though, Leah managed to save the day and convince the druid they weren't the bad guys. She mostly pulled it off by promising they would bring down the cultists. They took the spike with them for investigation and set off for Sanctuary, which Leah had spotted from the treetops. It was the only bit of civilisation in the vicinity and lay on top of the entrance to a great dwarven city, so it was their best chance of finding a trail of the kidnappers.
Highhaven was a sleazy city and rife with crime, but Sanctuary as it turns out is playing in a whole other league. The streets were crawling with thugs and brawlers, from patchy and scarred humans to luggish ogres, the city was built entirely out of wood, except for a central structure called The Sinking Stone, a Dwarven watchhouse, stalls and vendors lined the swirly avenues and more than a couple pickpockets pushed through the crowds.
This was not what they had expected. The least common race in this city appeared to be dwarves. In fact, the dwarven cleric they had brought with them was regarded with surprise and sometimes hatred. After questioning some of the many pamphletmen patrolling the streets (and getting in brawls with some of the bruisers guarding them) the party managed to get some updates on the political situation and history of the city.
The area lay right across the border with human lands and very near one of the only easy passageways through the mountainrange, the Dunkrag Pass. As such, the area had become flooded with men fleeing justice in human lands and the dwarves had granted them asylum, but no permission to enter their underground cities, and honour reserved for dwarves and a very small number of lucky others. The brigands had thus established a city around the entrance to a dwarven city, The Sinking Stone, which had soon also become a watchhouse.
About half a year ago a series of murders started, targetting dwarves. These attacks were claimed by a mysterious figure known as The Black Hand, because of the calling cards he left at the scenes of the crimes with the imprint of a black hand on them. When a week or two before the start of the adventure a whole dwarven watchpatrol went missing, the dwarves decided to shut down the watchhouse and the entrance to the city and to let Sanctuary fight amongst themselves.
When the war came The Black Hand started having leaflets distributed supporting the human forces that would likely soon invade the city. Opposite The Black Hand rose a man called Broghan "The Bear", a former circus strongman who had established a permanent circus/bar in Sanctuary several years before when justice was on his heels for manslaughter. Broghan claimed that the dwarves had taken them in when the humans wouldn't, and it would only be fair if the city of Sanctuary would support their side of the war. He too started hiring pamphleteers and gangs of bruisers to rough up the opponent's leafletmen, and the violence in the streets escalated. Sanctuary now finds itself in a state of virtual civil war, with the real war soon to come knocking.
In this turmoil the party had to find a trace of Red, the elven revolutionary who had started the war. Since it was getting late and they realised they might take more than a few days, the party hired an appartment in one of the huge living towers at the edges of town. They even hired a seperate apartment for the dwarf and the two halflings. After some trouble with the outlandish and loudmouth orcish neighbours they went to sleep.
In the morning a group of dwarves knocked at their door. It was Helga Bolderd, the dwarven smithess who was arrested in Highhaven, and her followers. They had escaped their captors and crossed the mountainrange, hoping to flee into dwarven lands, only to find the entrance to the city closed. They had then heard that their friend, the dwarf in the wheelchair, was staying here, and made their way up. The dwarves were in good spirits and one of them, a small and very jolly dwarf called Tiny joined the party as they went to run errands on the market.
And that's when disaster struck. My players were just raving about how much they loved the cute and silly Tiny, when his head was blown off. The party had heard about The Black Hand hitman called Red Eye, but they had no idea how dangerous he was. Now they discovered he wielded a dwarven technology sniperrifle and blew dwarven heads off from atop the huge towers lining the town. They also discovered he appeared about two weeks after the kidnapping... Red Eye was very likely connected to Red, and they wanted revenge on him for Tiny, but just like his employer The Black Hand, he turned out to be very elusive.
They spent days and days chasing a ghost. They tailed pamphletmen for their providers, asked around about the murdered dwarves, spent their days scouring the black market (the only kind of market Sanctuary has) for any place one could purchase the kind of weapons Red employed. It seemed that every other trail would lead them to The Knave, a dodgy local bar run by an old man called Mephisto. Mephisto liked to gamble, and every time they wanted to squeeze some information out of him, they had to win it by way of the dice.
In the mean time dwarves were dropping like flies. Helga's crew was reduced to her, the wheelchairbound dwarf and three others. Every shooting the party tried to catch Red Eye, but each time they narrowly missed him.
During the nights they spent most of their time in Broghan's circus. They made quick friends with John The Dwarf, a persistently drunk clown, and Leah and Ezrael joined the annual fighting games in the circus ring, eventually being beaten respectively by the leader of their orcish neighbours, and a huge metal man dubbed Colossus, hellbent on beating Broghan in the final round.
There were some other diversions. They bought a chest of gadgets off the black market that used to belong to the circus magician, the Great Dalmutti, broke into an apartment that was used by Red in one of the towers and were attacked in their apartment block by Black Hand mercenaries (which they eventually managed to solve with a little help from their orcish and dwarvish neighbours and by bribing the hell out of the ogre working for the mercenaries).
Then there was another flashback dream, this time taking the party into a memory of Roscoe he could himself not remember. They found themselves in Tartarus, the biggest and worst of human prisons. They met some of the highleveled wardens: Roscoe was questioned about the location of something called The Worm's Tongue by a female spellcaster called Lethe, Ezrael and Arkan were led to the achaierai torturer Acheron to be questioned about how they got into the prison and Leah's attempt to evade detection was thwarted by a flying Azer called Puri. They also learned the prison was guarded by an army of undead controlled by the necromancer Styx and somewhere below, where the prison was being expanded by forced labour, in a lake lay the horror that had swallowed Cocytus, the final warden, and that now claimed that it was Cocytus. The flashback ended quite dramatically with Leah and Roscoe's deaths.
The next day they went to see the fight between Colossus and John The Dwarf, which Colossus won (leaving only Broghan to be fought). Afterwards the party consoled John, and John told them the sob story of his girlfriend. She was part of a pair of midgets acrobats, but one day she and her brother, Bobo, left Sanctuary by coach for a trip. She never returned. She and her brother were murdered by The Black Hand, but he had never been able to recover her corpse and give her a proper burial. He'd only lost to Colossus because of all the drinking he did, and he only drank because he missed her. All that was going to stop, and to give her a burial, he would have to go to The Winter Palace, and he needed the PCs help.
They travelled to the nearby winter palace, but en route they encountered a couple of human soldiers. They were hiding in the bushes, so the PCs assumption was that they were going to ambush them and they beat them up. The soldiers were not much of a match for the destructive power of the party, and they beat two of them half to death and a third fled. They then had some degree of remorse and stabilised the dying soldiers, only to then run after John, who had simply walked on.
The Winter Palace was a frozen castleruin in the midst of an otherwise autumnal landscape. Above the frozen fields with large icespikes surrounding the castle a white dragon circled. Oh yes, John forgot to tell them about that. Also, a death cult had taken residence in the castle, as they do every fall. And yes, they spend most of fall hunting down people and killing them horribly in Nerrull's honour in the castle, but you're not wussies, are you? John ran off across the ice fields, taking cover in the frozen coach that was still lying there.
The actual corpse though, was in the palace itself, dragged there by the cultists for decorative purposes. Bobo's corpse was nowhere to be found. The party however was having trouble even getting to the coach, the halfway point between the castle and the edge of the iceplain. Besides Ezrael, everyone was too cowardly to try to cross the plain without being seen by the dragon. Ezrael wrapped himself in a blanket and covered the blanket in snow. Some poor rolls later he landed facefirst on the ice, and the dragon landed a couple of feet away. He managed to get away by the hair on his teeth by staying very quiet, and because the rest of the guys threw some rocks as diversion.
He ended up crawling back to the treeline, where the party stood and discussed whether they were willing to take the risk of crossing. They had just about decided to retreat when the dwarf ran back to them, scalded them for being cowards, and then ran across to the coach again. They followed in groups of two, always leaving two behind to provide distractions should the dragon show up.
They got into trouble again when the first group left the coach (the midpoint) and Leah tripped loudly over the edge of the coach. Ezrael kept running to the castle, where he was attacked by two cultists, and Roscoe and Arkan sweat bullets in the coach as the dragon landed on top of it. He did not spot Leah yet, due to the nightfall and Leah's snow camouflage, but the way he was sniffing the air was not promising much good. It is at that point Arkan remembered the power fo the tophat that had belonged to the Great Dalmutti, one of many trinkets that was in the chest. He produced a pigeon from it, and let it fly free. The dragon followed it off into the night.
The party then got a chance to investigate the castle. In the main room, a series of sacrifices were nailed on a great round table, and six cultists were waiting for them. The combat that ensued was one the players would later describe as the most epic combat yet. It was a tough one, as the cultists had a lot of tricks up their sleaves, summoning monsters and sucking the sacrifices dry for hitpoints, but the players showed great strategy and won. It was a win they needed badly, after suffering defeat at the hands of Red Eye and the Black Hand repeatedly, but they certainly deserved it. They used a pincer movement to ward off the cultists so Arkan was covered from both sides and could freely snipe the cultists across the table, and Roscoe took cover under the table and started making sneak attacks from there.
This was a good session for Roscoe's player, as he is always complaining about his low effectiveness in combat, but now took the effort of jutting down some statistics. For the final battle they boil down to the following:
- Total DMG: 56
- Accuracy: 83%
- Average DMG: 11,2
- Median DMG: 7
- Total DMG: 52
- Accuracy: 86%
- Average DMG: 8,7
- Median DMG: 7
- Total DMG: 43
- Accuracy: 83%
- Average DMG: 8,6
- Median DMG: 9
- Total DMG: 18
- Accuracy: 60%
- Average DMG: 6,0
- Median DMG: 6
- Total DMG: 21
- Accuracy: 50%
- Average DMG: 7,0
- Median DMG: 5
This makes Roscoe firmly the most effective fighter in a combat. Ezrael's results are highly dissapointing considering he is usually seen as a power house, but no track was kept of the damage soaked, which he usually excells in. Furthermore, Roscoe got his own flashback, and at the end of the session they found an ancient book in the castle that whispers to him, and only him. The book is called The Book of Worms and speaks dreadfully of an end of times, rapidly approaching, and of Roscoe being chosen to wake it.
I am the smoke that rises beyond the mountains.
I am the funeral pyre that eats at the flesh of the dead.
I am the beginning and the ending.
I am what slumbers beneath.
I am what waits.
I am the fire that burns without heat.
The ending is nigh, and I shall return.
Only one can make me rise from burial mound.
Only one will control my power.
You are chosen.
Come to me, I will show you the way.
This caused some conflict in the party. The others seemed to want to destroy the book, but Roscoe insisted on keeping it. The session concluded with the decision that they would take the book, but Roscoe was to consult the others whenever it spoke to him.
Comments are very welcome, as always. I'd also welcome some input on what to do with Colossus. I threw him in the rankings for the circuscombats sort of spur of the moment and merely described as a huge man made out of metal and gearwork, but I'm not sure whether to make him some creature in a clockwork suit, or some kind of robot, or... You tell me what you guys think.
- Join Date
- Aug 2012
Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
I'm late coming to this thread (I've still got the last two posts to read through) but I wanted to let you know I am really enjoying it so far. It seems like you've brought life to this world and have drawn your players into the plot quite nicely.
EDIT: For the Colossus, I would make it a Warforged Juggernaut (Eberron Campaign Setting pg. 83). You can easily make a background to have it fit in with the world. Perhaps ancient dwarves created it years ago, and it has only just recently been reawakened. There's an excellent sample Juggernaut on page 84 named Battering Ram.
Last edited by fishbrains; 2012-09-29 at 11:57 AM.
- Join Date
- Apr 2007
Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
Thanks for the feedback and the suggestion
It's always great to hear someone is enjoying this.
I'd considered warforged myself as the most plausible option, so it's good to be given a place to find a suitable one. I've mostly been getting my material from the basic sourcebooks and my own homebrew so far, but I don't think finding the aapropriate material will be a problem
- Join Date
- Apr 2007
Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
A Little Life and a Lot of Death
SpoilerThe players found themselves in the Winter Palace, amidst a bunch of half-dead elves they'd saved from the death cultists. After they helped John the Dwarf load the skeletonised remains of his beloved into a handcart and promised to come to the funeral later that day, the druid they'd met earlier in the woods arrived together with some of his followers.
They were very grateful the PCs had saved their kin, and promised each of them a boon (at this point Roscoe jumped out from under the table, having hidden fearing they still wanted to hurt him for following Nerull). One of the boons the druid suggested was the transferral of a human scout they had caught in the woods, the one that had escaped the PCs last session, to their custody, but they refused this boon. A shame, because the scout could have told them about Dog's imminent attack plans.
A second boon the druid suggested was safe passage at some point through the Forgotten Forest, that cover all of the surface of the dwarven lands. They decided to keep this in mind for later. Ezrael used his boon to get a curse the death cultists had put on him removed. Arkan asked if the deity both he and the druid served, Obad-Hai, could restore him to life. This was agreed upon, and Arkan accompanied the druid and his men into the forest, where he was allowed into the Hidden Wood, the realm of Obad-Hai. The druid explained that he was lucky he followed the same god, for only worshippers of Obad-Hai were allowed entry.
Meanwhile the others returned to Sanctuary and somewhat aimlessly continued their investigations into The Black Hand and Red Eye. In fact, they didn't get much of anything done while Arkan walked through the lush lands of the Hidden Wood and was brought to a circle of ancient stones were a group of druids was meeting with an ancient man, swaying slightly in the breeze. The ancient man communed only in whispers to the druids, who had to repeat what he said to Arkan and the others, and asked everyone but the undead ranger and one druid to repeat his words to leave.
The druid asked Arkan to repeat his request, and the ancient man frowned his thick eyebrows. He told him, through the druid, that this was an important crossroads. Should Arkan decide to abandon the path he walked, there would be concequences, and there would be no going back. Arkan agreed all the same and was asked to lie down on a central stone in the circle. The ancient man then scattered some leaves over Arkan, and breathed into his mouth. Arkan woke up back in the Forgotten Forest, alive. That is, un-undead.
He returned to the rest of the party just in time for the funeral of John the Dwarf's girlfriend, where John had promised they'd have the chance to meet Broghan. The others had brought along Mr. Sunday, who was working on yet another new businessplan. Well, it wasn't very novel: he'd brought in a load of rage vials and was planning to sell them to Broghan so he could have an edge in the fight against Colossus. If Broghan would approve of the vials, surely he'd order more for all of his fighters once the war started good and proper in Sanctuary.
The funeral took place in a church that was abandoned in the midst of construction. The church was in Whisper Lane, a place they'd visited before, which was home to the city's temples. It was also covered in a permanent thick fog, related to some sort of strange incident years ago in the temple to Vecna. This is relevant, because it meant that when a bullet suddenly pierced the coffin as it was being lowered, sending a shower of splinters around, they didn't know where it came from.
A horde of armed men and three ogres stormed into the graveyard's only gate as the party sought cover behind the tombstones, and another bullet shrieked through the mists, this time striking through, and blowing off John's arm entirely. The fight turned out to be harrowing. Even with Broghan at their side, they appeared to stand little chance against the Black Hand's hitsquad. As Arkan, Ezrael and Roscoe were desperately fighting off the waves of thugs, Leah scaled the walls of the graveyard and tried to find the tower where Red Eye was sniping from.
The sniper only fired once every two rounds, but the shots, when they hit, were devastating. A second shot meant permanent death for John the Dwarf. He fell back onto the coffin of his beloved, and the two sunk into the pit. The others were fighting a losing battle, even though Leah had almost made it to the sniper. It looked fairly hopeless until Mr. Sunday conjured an illusion of a huge worm ripping the earth apart. It was soundless, but he pulled off the bluffcheck and sent the thugs running.
Leah triumphantly flapped open the hatch to the correct tower, only to see Red Eye glide down a zip line. She quickly cut through the wire and saw him plummet into a house in the residential area below, crashing right through the roof. Leah jumped out the tower, feather fell down, pushed herself off the wall when she reached the end of her featherfall distance and tumbled onto the rooftop, into the house, and right on top of Red Eye. They'd caught the elven sniper, alive. Sort of.
They dragged him back to Broghan's circus, leaving Broghan to bury his friend and Mr. Sunday to try to pitch his ragevials as the fistfighter dug. The questioning proceeded rather well, I'd say. They got a lot of information about the Black Hand, mostly technical details, and some useful leads. They discovered The Black hand was really Grim Untersberg, one of the only dwarves left in Sanctuary, and the person running the expansive archives. The irony was that Grim was being guarded by Broghan's men, because they feared he might become one of Red Eye's victims. Grim was also responsible for running the presses and printing pamphlets for Broghan, and by night it appears he would use those same presses to print Black hand pamphlets.
Despite hating Red Eye for understandable reasons at first (the multitude of homicides of likeable characters, as well as being aligned with what seems to be the main bad guy (Red) and the main bad guy of this arch (Grim)), the party grew to have sympathy for Red Eye. Perhaps they couldn't forgive him entirely, but his talk of the crimes that had been done to the elven race, of the only solution to him being these desperate measures... It softened them. In return for full disclosure, they decide to spare him Broghan's torturesessions that were no doubt coming up, even at the risk of angering this important ally. They slit his throat and walked out of the cell in the circus' bellows.
They decided to wait for nightfall until they'd try to breach the archives' defences, opting instead to sleep the rest of the day, a decision they would later regret. They woke up just in time for Broghan's fight with Colossus. It was spectacular. I simply described the battle, but my players were listening mouths agape. They had really been looking forward to this clash of titans, so I made sure to make it long and juicy. Broghan finally emerged victorious but heavily wounded.
As the crowd's cheers were dying out, a voice suddenly called out for every to surrender. The building was surrounded by the empirial army. It turned out Dog had foreseen most of Broghan's supporters would be gathered in the circus during the fight and had strategically chosen this moment to attack. The PCs started a brawl, and once the fighting got going they leapt into the arena and followed Broghan, who walked into the dark corridors without a word. There he crushed what ragevials he had received from Mr. Sunday in his hand and drank them all, then ripping the locks off the cages with dangerous beasts. The wave of lions and bears stormed up the stairs, and Broghan followed, transforming along the way much like Animal had done in the Fork Inn.
The party followed and used Broghan's brute assault as a distraction for their escape, though they did stick around long enough to see Broghan and Dog fight. A few arrows tipped the fight in Broghan's favour, and he tore the army drillmaster limb from limb.
That was the last they saw of Broghan. They fled into the now burning streets of sanctuary, soldiers and thugs clashing at every streetcorner and griffins soaring across the town, dropping balls of fire on the wooden structures. It was clear that the empirial army would soon reduce Sanctuary to cinders.
It was at this point they ran into Maximus, Ezrael's haughty sworn rival from his flashback. Maximus was clad in gilded armour from head to toe and headed a regiment of soldiers, most of them archers clinging to the rooftops around the alley they were in. Maximus mocked Ezrael mercilessly, assuming his presence in Sanctuary meant he himself was one of the cutpurses and rogues making a living here. He then challenged Ezrael to a duel. If he fought fair, he would not have his troops interfere.
Ezrael agreed, but did not like his odds here, and almost immediately betrayed Maximus' confidence. Roscoe unleashed one of the artifacts they'd gathered on Maximus, a coil of rope that would constrict any nearby targets as soon as it is unleashed from it's bag. Unfortunately this included Ezrael and with Maximus summoning his steed and the archers bearing down from the rooftops, they were soon at an impasse. Ezrael demanded they'd kill Maximus, wanting to take care of his rival once and for all, or that at least they'd leave him there naked and dishonoured, but the party had very few bargaining chips, and eventually it was agreed they'd go to the edge of town together and they'd be allowed to depart, in return for Maximus' life. Maximus himself did not at all agree.
It was funny imaging the sight of the two rivals, hogtied together, their allies making deals to save their lives and them all the while demanding they'd be merciless and kill the other. That was the way it came to pass though, and Ezrael was dragged into the woods by his friends, where they soon found the druid. They asked for another boon. They wanted safe passage to The Isle of Storm. The druid looked at them solemnly.
"The Forgotten Forest burns already with empirial fire, and the flames spread faster than any man can run. However, you have saved the lives of many of us, and I have sworn an oath to grant you safe passage. I have also sworn many other oaths, most of which I shall now have to break"
He sighed, steeled his look, and then took them into the Hidden Woods.
So we have ended the Sanctuary chapter and will now be heading to the Hidden Woods, the realm of Obad-hai. My knowledge on the subject is somewhat lacking, so thusfar I've mostly filled it with what seems logical to me. However, if someone could enlighten me somewhat on the subject of this realm, that would be great.
Also, it seems a whole load of important NPCs died this session. I never quite had this big a killstreak, normally being quite careful with my NPCs. However, it just fit into the story, the PCs actions led to this course of events, and for some of them (like John the Dwarf), I didn't have much future use anyways. I do think the party got the vibe that anyone can die in this setting, and I far prefer that over seemingly immortal NPCs. What do you guys think?
- Join Date
- Apr 2007
Re: A World Torn Campaign Log
Not out of the Woods yet
SpoilerThe party left the burning forest within the view of the crumbling city of Sanctuary, and found themselves deep within the Hidden Forest. I described the place as having thick, ancient trees, covered in sprawling mosses and unkempt bushes, every step you take there having to wrestle free from the wild vegetation.
The group, led by the druid, moved on in silence, but it wasn't long before they were found. A man in wooden armour, with a thick, woven beard, was standing among the trees. He introduced himself as Loremaster Tarwick, and asked them to come along quietly. A couple of perception checks revealed a number of hidden archers in the trees, and reluctant to get into another fight with so few hitpoints, the party agreed to surrender. Loremaster Tarwick summoned some woodland creatures, a bear and two stags, and had the party's menacing collection of weapons packed up and carried by the beasts.
They proceeded through the woods, and once they reached the end of the woodlands and the beginning of nigh-endless rolling farmland, it turned there were a great deal more archers accompanying them than they had been able to spot. They passed by the ancient circle of stones where the old man had breathed new life into Arkan, and proceeded to yet another vale of trees, this time behemoths big as houses. They were ushered into a hollowed tree, and a druid closed it up with bars of ironwood. They were told they would be on trail the next day. Then one of the druids lulled the party to sleep (immunity to sleep for the Elves was circumvented due to Obad-Hai being able to change the properties of his realm).
Another flashback happened during their rest, this time delving into Arkan's past. They found themselves at the edge of a forest with a blind druid (lotsa druids in this session, they proclaimed to be sick of "old bearded men" at the end of it). The druid informed Arkan (as he wasn't aware the others were there as well, and they weren't supposed to be in this timeline) that in order to proceed with the plan, he would have to make his way to the centre of the nearby lumberjack town, into the great wooden citadel, and there he would need to kill Lord Strongfell, head of the lumberjacks. This was based on the character background Arkan's player gave me at the very start of the campaign: he attacked a town with some Elves because they were destroying the forest, but got caught, and was whipped and tortured as a punishment. It's why Arkan is covered in scars, and why he has a Glasgow smile.
I also informed them of something new: Arkan had a sister, Anastria Andon, and she would be leading another part of the attack. They did some messing around with the blind druid. The three who weren't supposed to be present kept talking, scaring the hell out of the druid because he thought the humans had found them. Luckily he was very old and suffered from dementia, forgetting the incidents every time after a couple of seconds. A lot of fun was had with that, and each time the druid forgot they just couldn't help themselves and scared him again.
Eventually they moved on and snuck down the slope towards the village, hiding and ducking away behind the stumps of trees. Once there, Ezrael boldly stripped off his shirt and armour, grabbed an old axe that was lying around, and strode into town. His ruse worked and everyone believed he was one of the lumberjacks, but for the elves and the halfling things weren't so simple. They found an old rickety ladder, and decided to approach the citadel over the rooftops. Where Ezrael found a closed door and some very burly guards, the others were able to bridge the gap with a ladder, and climb in through a window on the second floor.
By that time however, Anastria had struck, and the whole town was panicking. Some men walked in on the party sneaking in, and they were forced to flee, but not before setting fire to the citadel. Ezrael however, unaware of what was going on with his friends, saw the rising smoke, and joined the guards in their efforts to go put out the fire. Once inside, he ran up the stairs, to the top floor, where he found a huge lumberjack, Lord Strongfell.
I switched quickly back and forth now.
The group of three fled out of town in the confusion and watched the burning silhouette of the citadel.
Strongfell was in no mood to talk or fight. He and Ezrael fled the tower, ending up at the village well.
Anastria appeared in the forest, a smirk on her face, and her pet snake crawling across he shoulders.
"I didn't think you had it in you, brother"
One of the soot-covered lumberjacks walked towards the well, to get a drink. Strongfell stopped him with a shout.
"We Andons, we do whatever is necessary, to protect the forest, and to rid this world of the plague known as man"
"What did you do, sister?" Arkan asked.
"It's been poisoned!" Strongfell bleared.
"He drank it... My son, he drank it..."
"Whatever was necessary" she answered.
The flashback ended, and I allowed the players to level. I had been intending to once they left Sanctuary, but I had to wait for them to take a rest. Level five was a fairly uninteresting one for their classes, so there is not much to be said there.
The party was released from their prison and brought to the circle of stones, where the old man, Loremaster Tarwick, the druid that had saved them, and a whole collection of old, beardy men had gathered. Cue sighs from the group. I painted the old men generally as a collection of foggy minded idiots. Tarwick, on the other hand, not so much. He viciously prosecuted them and the druid both, suggesting that the druid should be stripped of his powers and banned, and that they should suffer a punishment no lesser than death. The old men cheered in agreement, mumbling their approval.
Then, it was time for them to defend their cases. The druid argued that he would take a different path, and prove himself by fighting the most gruesome beast in the Hidden Woods. Should he lose, the beast devour him, and this would be his punishment, should he win, he would have proven his devotion. This, apparently, was customary, and the old men cheered him on for his bravery, murmuring their approval. The final decision, however, appeared to be up to the old man, who communicated only through whisperings to Loremaster Tarwick. The druid got what he wanted.
This was proving an ugly kind of justice, was the general sentiment of the party. Arkan could easily escape persecution, as he was a follower of Obad-Hai and had broken no laws. The rest of the party had more trouble, arguing this way and that, rolling a whole score of diplomacy and bluff checks. What eventually turned the tide is when Leah noticed what got the old men most riled up and supportive had been Loremaster Tarwick's story of their past. Deciding they must be suckers for a good story, she set off on a story of her own, illustrating the bravery of the party and the terrible fates that had struck them. The old men cheered and wept at all the right moments, and stroked their beards in approval.
Eventually the old bearded man whispered something to Tarwick. Somewhat grudgingly, he announced that the verdict had been decided: the party would not be harmed, and would be returned their possessions, but no further breaches of holy canon would be made, and no druid would be allowed to take them out of the Hidden Woods. Essentially they were prisoners.
A third case was presented: apparently some woman, also a follower of Obad-Hai, had appeared in the Hidden Wood and was heading towards a dungeon to pick up the Armor of the Fallen Leaves, supposedly to return it to Obad-Hai.
The history of this dungeon is somewhat complicated, but essentially it comes down to this: the city Leah grew up in (before the monastery) was the last city of the Elves, all others had been abandoned due to the forests around them being destroyed by humans. It was called Tarwa Linga (or the hanging garden in Elvish) and most of it's inhabitants worshipped Ehlonna. In order to escape the destruction of the forest that was also rapidly approaching this city, they took a risk and transported the entire city to the Hidden Wood, breaking the very same laws the party had broken, only more excessively so. Obad-Hai's favorite disciple at this time, and bearer of the Armor of the Fallen Leaves, led a party into the city to fight the intruders, but failed, and died there. The Armor of the Fallen Leaves was never returned, having originally been a gift of Ehlonna to Obad-Hai, and their relations had now soured.
Are we all caught up? Good. The woman heading to the dungeon was described as malodourous, pale and unhealthy, and more importantly: accompanied by a snake. The party quickly drew two conclusions from this: she was Arkan's sister, Anastria, and she was the new chosen one of Obad-Hai, a zombie, like Arkan had been before. Oh, how cruel the twists and turns of fate can be! She was overheard talking to her snake, saying that she'd use the Armor of the Fallen Leaves in her fight against mankind instead of returning it. Arkan realised that his choice to abandon the path fate had laid out for him had indeed had dire consequences, as the old man had predicted. He had not wanted to be chosen, and certainly not a zombie, but now his sister was, and according to some of the ancient prophecies if she died eternal winter would follow.
I'm not sure how clear this is to you all, because now that I've explained it it seems a bit complex. The PCs were totally on board though.
Anyways, then more stuff happened. It was announced some cultists of Nerrull (the guys they fought at the Winter Palace) had also made it to the Hidden Wood, and a Wild Hunt was declared on them. For the duration of the hunt Obad-Hai would colour the foliage of the trees above them red, so they could be found easily.
The party left the stone circle, and started to discuss how they would leave. Ezrael was in favour of finding the druid, and helping him fight the beast, but some of the others thought that would invalidate the verdict. Arkan wanted to chase down his sister, possibly to talk, possibly to kill her. Leah then, quite astutely, pointed out that Roscoe was a follower of Nerrull, and that they couldn't cross the woods to Tarwa Linga until the Wild Hunt was off, or they'd be hunted down too. She also expressed her need to go to the ancient city, as she wanted to visit the place where she was born.
Roscoe was quiet throughout all this, and eventually suggested a solution: they would go and join the Wild Hunt, in order to kill al of the cultists and end it sooner. Meanwhile, he would simply wait in the fields.
They quickly agreed and set off, but Roscoe had no intention to sit around. He had his own hidden agenda. His Book of Whispers, the dark artifact he'd picked up in the Winter Palace, had spoken to him.
This dimension is your prison, mercy your shackles.
One of two must be fed to the gaping maw of death.
One walks with a cane, the other shambles.
One breathes life, the other death.
One dies eternal, the other dies not at all.
They have violated the laws of decay.
They thwart the call of the grave.
Your blades must colour crimson.
The soil upon which they fall shall not be that of the Hidden Forest.
Winter is coming.
His player isn't very good at riddles, so he'd been thinking this one through throughout the trail. He'd eventually figured out who one of the people referred to was though: the old man. Rather than stick around to find out who the other was (it's Anastria, in case that wasn't clear!), he decided to set to work, and started asking questions on the whereabouts of the old man.
The rest of the party just thought he was trying to fill his time as he did this, and they went on to do some battles with cultists, winning each with relative ease.
Meanwhile, Roscoe had been pointed to the clearing where the old man stood, besides an open grave. The single tree in the clearing coloured red as he approached, and the old man positioned himself in front of the pit.
"Are you sure?" he whispered, as Roscoe sliced deeply into his flesh with his daggers. He fell, back into the pit, and it instantly closed up, the tree withered, and the plain gave place to an immense charred forest. The party was reunited, and in the big tree three birds rested, each with a message for them. One was the raven they already knew, from Hugo Von Brandt, one was an owl, from Devon Wallander, and one was a woodpecker, from an unknown source.
They read these letters (included seperately below) and then quickly concluded they were back in the real world. Precisely what had happened wasn't clear to them (even when Roscoe explained what he had done), but they had no choice but to move on to the next stop on their route, the trade post.
I had actually not foreseen it taking Roscoe so little time to kill one of the intended victims. Perhaps I'd anticipated his conscience slowing him down, but it seems some halflings are simply too small to have room for a conscience. I'd prepared a whole bunch of stuff for Tarwa Linga, but now we had to skip all that, and in order to get in some good combat (the session had been fairly low on it), I had Loremaster Tarwick track them down.
Now, Tarwick was never built to be fought. I mean, it was a fair fight, he was a cleric and level 5, like them, and he had four archer cronies of level 3. In the Hidden Wood he would have had a lot of terrain advantages and extra archers and would have been an exceptionally tough challenge, but here I thought the playing field had been leveled. I was wrong.
Loremaster Tarwick tore into them with rightful vengeance and due to bad rolls he soon decimated the party to just Roscoe and Horf, Arkan's wolf companion. The rest of them were sprawled about the forest, bleeding to death. Tarwick himself had, by this point, had his throat torn out by Horf, but three of the archers were still standing, and loosing arrows on Roscoe.
By some miracle he managed to intimidate one into running away, and resuscitated the others, who in turn could kill the remaining archers. They then limped their way on, finding the druid who'd saved them from Sanctuary, equally wounded as them, but in his case from the claws of a huge beast. He was never able to explain whether he'd won, because as soon as he'd guided them to the clearing surrounding the trade post, a sort of crater with a big house and a metal framework tower in the middle, he was shot. Sniped. Dead.
They took out their own sniperrifle, which they didn't know how to use, and looked at the tower through the scope. At the top three dwarves were hanging from the side by leather straps, each with a huge sniper rifle. The party decided to take a detour.
While circling the crater, they discovered another abandoned railyard. This time they were able to force open one of the doors, and proceeded through a dark tunnel. Eventually they hit a shaft, where rising and lowering platforms continually passed. They each hitched a ride on a seperate platform, hiding themselves in minecarts. Each minecart went somewhere different, up to the tradepost. Ezrael, with his inability to stay quiet, was quickly discovered by some dwarves, but a dwarf in gold armour stepped in to save him. He smiled broadly.
"Now, now, gentleman, as we all know that sort of violence isn't allowed around here. Yet. Now let me take this young man to dinner, and let's see what he has to say for himself"
At that point Ezrael looked up at the building in front of him, and the metal framework tower. On the building, huge white letters read "BARTERHOUSE".
I try to give each letter the party receives its own personal style. I hope I managed that.
SpoilerRestorers of the Pact,
I write to you from dire straits. Since I last wrote to you Highhaven has been overrun by these subterranean fiends. They, and their legions of shambling undead, now control the city, and I have been forced to barricade myself in the citadel with a few squadrons of soldiers and what notable citizens had not yet fled the city.
Yossoth's treatment of what citizens could not be taken to safety has been cruel and vicious. I dread to speak of details. I begin to fear that his ambitions go beyond the possession of my fair city, but find myself powerless, and still no help from the army is forthcoming.
Yet, I find myself more concerned with the progress of your mission than my own fate. I am glad to hear you have successfully crossed the mountains and are arduously tracking the brigand known as Red. I no longer receive communications from the armed forces at the border, so my overview of the situation is lacking at best, and I am in no position to provide you with any further details as to the war. In fact, the last message I received announced your desertion, a sad but inevitable fact indeed if you need to travel deeper into Dwarven territory to complete the heavy task put upon you.
Hugo Von Brandt
P.S. Destroy this message upon reading it and respond as soon as possible. I yearn to hear of your fate, as the future of the entire world lies in the scale, and I have no other means of informing myself.
SpoilerBrothers in arms,
As promised, I have reached the capital Drakespire.
I am employing my every effort to stop the conflict.
Alas, the machine of war keeps grinding.
In the north, there is daily combat at the gates of the Second City.
In the south, Sanctuary was overrun and the Fifth City lies under siege.
The Dwarves have so far taken no initiative.
This worries me.
Other parties have yet to take sides and remain neutral.
The orcs vie for leadership of the tribes.
Once they have a leader, the question remains who he will lean to.
The Elves can only be happy to see Dwarven and human blood spilt.
The Gnomes choose to sell their weapons to the highest bidder.
A time will come when they too must make a choice.
Time is vital.
Every day men and Dwarves alike perish.
Stronger proof of innocence is needed.
I rely on you.
You have not yet experienced the honour of meeting me, nor, I fear, will you ever. Since you merely know of me, rather than know me, allow me to briefly introduce myself. I work for three men (or more, but I am willing to speak of three). Two of those men should be in some measure familiar to you, as you certainly were to them, frustrating their efforts at every turn. Grim Untersberg, whose secret identity, much like many other mysteries, was not a secret to me for long, took an interest once you were joined by your Dwarven compatriots and styled yourselves as defenders of all things Dwarven. He was surprised to find I had already compiled files on the whole lot of you and had tracked your movements since weeks before, more or less since your arrival in Bree.
These files I had compiled on behalf of a second employer, a man whose name appears to refer just as much to his haircolour as the amount of blood he leaves behind in his wake. As a concession to you those files are now ablaze, like the rest of this city, and will no doubt be destroyed along with me. I should warn you though that my previous communications with my second master have been very fruitful and informative, for both parties involved.
This is where my third, or rather first, employer comes in, a man of my blood, and a man I owe my loyalty to, insofar as I possess any at all. His name is Dante Rossi and he awaits you in the Mirrorcloud. To gain entrance to the cloud you will need to be shareholders. For outsiders it is difficult to acquire shares in the Mirrorcloud, but I have personally stashed some in case I wish ever to return, and it appears I shall be needing them no longer. Below the floorboards of room 24 in the Barterhouse you will find five shares.
There is no need to reply to this message, by the time it reaches you I shall long be part of the dwindling ashes of Sanctuary, consumed by the hot inferno of war. Do with my woodpecker messengerbird as you wish, though I doubt he will be much use to you, as he is loyal only to my charred corpse.
My players loved the story this time round, but they thought the combat was lacking. They're probably right since, flashback excepted, they only got one proper fight (the cultists were pushovers) and that ended up almost killing them.
I did like how since this session the party doesn't really think as one unit anymore. Everyone appears to have their own goals and drive, and is forced to think for themselves.
Comments, appreciations, thoughts, as always welcome and almost begged for!