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  1. 4 points
    During my time here on BRP I've come to more deeply enjoy the world of Glorantha, and may have gotten some understanding of some of its "secrets", the style with which the texts are often written, and arguably some of the intent behind them. While it's unlikely that anything I write down is totally in line with the canon, it would be fun to try my hand at making up some hopefully-engaging pieces, most likely some kinds of flash fiction and the like. These are my current ideas, off the top of my head: - How Moss Was Made and How Moss Died (Green Age, Greater Darkness Plant Myth) - How Ygg Seastorm Saved The World (Greater Darkness Yggite Myth) - The Tragedy of Shargash, Most Dutiful of Sons (Storm Age and Greater Darkness Shargashite Myth, possibly heretical, definitely secret). - The Buraroxi of Northern Pent (Overview of Storm-worshipping Muskox pastoralists of Northern Pent, not based on Guide material). - Yelmalio the Scapegoat (Low-tradition folktale of the Cold Sun's selfless sacrifice in the Greater Darkness, likely apochryphal). - Rearguard Shale's Last Stand (Greater Darkness Praxian Myth, and guide to gaining spell based on said myth). Not sure when/if they will be made, but I thought I might as well post it up so I don't forget about them.
  2. 3 points
    I have decided to start writing recaps of my ongoing RQG campaign, which is centered on the Bardori clan in Sartar, of the Dundealos Tribe. I've been feeling like it would be helpful to get myself writing regularly again, and I would like to have some sort of record of our campaign. Hopefully, folks will also enjoy reading about an ongoing story in the relatively new RQG system. I began my current campaign back in March. My plan is to quickly cover the background and events of the campaign so far, and then hopefully write more detailed coverage once I catch up to the present. Background After immersing myself in Gloranthan material for many months, I found myself struggling to find the right framework for creating a campaign. There was simply so much lore and background information to absorb, I didn't know how to do it justice. Then I discovered The Coming Storm/Eleven Lights, which inspired me to run a campaign focused on a single clan in Sartar. This seemed like the ideal way to tie a group of PC's together, and give them the motivation to go on adventures together. Faced with the choice of which system to use, I found myself more interested in the new RQG rules. I usually prefer more rules-lite systems or story games, but Runequest seemed to be experiencing a revival that was very exciting. I also liked the idea of setting the campaign later in the timeline, after the Lunar occupation. My next big decision was choosing which region in the core book to focus on for my campaign. I felt like Sartar and Prax were the most detailed with prior published material, and Sartar was slightly more interesting to me. With a clan-based campaign, I also had to choose which tribe would be a good fit. The Dundealos immediately jumped out to me as being in a unique position in the setting's start date of 1625. They were one of the few tribes to be completely disbanded by the Empire, but they had returned to resettle their valley after the Dragonrise. This is detailed very briefly in the core book on p. 108, under the section on Swenstown. This would allow me to run a campaign focused on rebuilding, and reforging a lost connection with past traditions (not unlike King of Dragon Pass). The Dundealos also have some interesting neighbors, who could make good allies or antagonists depending on players' actions. These include the nomads and creatures of Prax, the impoverished Balkoth Tribe, and the slave-taking Sambari Tribe. When I was writing notes on the setting, I found the fanzine Hearts in Glorantha very helpful. The first collection contains an article on the Dundealos Tribe by Jeff Richard, of which I used most of the clans for in my campaign. It also has an article on the Balkoth, which I made use of (and it's awesome, there's so much more to them than just goats!). The Sartar Companion was also very helpful in mapping out the Dundealos Valley. The Bardori Clan I wanted to create a clan of my own for the campaign. The Bardori are typical of many Dundealos clans: they herd more sheep than cattle, they produce many fine riders, and they tend to fight in a skirmishing style with bows and javelins from horseback. They are also unusual in several ways: their clan wyter is a rooster, they consider all chickens (especially roosters) sacred, and they see Elmal and Redalda as equally important to Orlanth and Ernalda. They worship several heroes known for their skill in riding, including Hyalor, Ulanin, and Derik Pol-Joni. The Bardori were disbanded in 1618 by the Lunar Empire, after the Dundealos rebelled, and were defeated. The survivors either went into exile, lived as bandits, or were enslaved and forced to work on the New Lunar Temple. The core rulebook for RQG states that the tribe was disbanded in 1615, while the HQ books say 1618. For my campaign I went with the later date, because I wanted there to be a faction of former slaves in the clan, and 10 years felt like too long for anyone to survive in a Lunar slave camp. The core book mentions a "Pol-Joni adventurer" being responsible for recreating the Dundealos tribe. I decided to flesh out this character more, and give him the name Ekil Blackmane (or just Blackmane). He led a band of warriors back to the valley, only a few days after the Dragonrise, and destroyed the remnants of the Lunar Enstalos tribe. He then became the new tribal king. What exactly happened to the Enstalos people, specifically the women and children, was left to the new clan chieftains. Most were enslaved or ransomed if possible. The new Bardori chieftain, Angarr Broad-Back, returned to the Dundealos Valley with his warriors at the same time as Blackmane to reclaim his people's land. The harvest was not yet complete, so he chose to go against clan tradition and keep the Enstalos survivors as thralls to finish the harvest. All of the player characters were either children or teenagers when the clan was forcibly disbanded. When I had my players make characters, I had them think about how they fit into their clan's recent history. This was in addition to the normal family history generation, but they ended up being fairly compatible. They had the following background options to choose from- Exile - Fled with family or sent to live with distant kin. If players chose this option, they had to also choose where they spent their exile. This option allowed players to choose Homelands other than Sartar, to reflect a different style of upbringing. Banditry - Stayed in or near the former Dundealos tribal lands, and lived a precarious existence as bandits. Enslaved - Forced to work in Sartar in Lunar slave camps, or sent to Lunar Tarsh. Players could also choose to be married or adopted into the clan, which opened up even more options. Here is a segment of the Dragon Pass map by Darya Makarava. The river running from Boldhome into Prax (near the Dragonrise), and the surrounding valley, is the campaign's "home base." The river is called the Willow Beck, and the valley is named for the Dundealos Tribe. The Heroes We started with three players, and ended up adding a fourth fairly recently. Garkar - Former bandit, Initiate of Orlanth - Garkar lived as a bandit, and fought against the Empire after the clan was destroyed. The harsh life of banditry formed him into a vengeful, somewhat paranoid man with many grudges (most of his passions start with "Hate"). Garkar has few ambitions other than to see his clan back on their feet, and to punish their old enemies. Erindros - Exile in Esrolia, Initiate of Issaries - Erindros is the scion of one of the two merchant families in the clan. His wealthy aunt in Nochet took him in as a child, and he was raised in the (relative) safety of great city. When the Empire was driven from Sartar, Erindros was encouraged to reclaim his family's land in Dundealos Valley, and he did so (somewhat unwillingly). He discovered his family's farm was in great disrepair, and set about rebuilding it. Erindros is effete and snobbish towards his "barbarian" cousins, but in spite of this he is a great leader in battle. Egajia - Praxian, adopted into the clan by the chieftain, Initiate of Daka Fal - Egajia was born among the High Llama riders, her family were rebels who fought the Lunars alongside Angarr Broad-Back and the Pol-Joni. Her family were all killed, and Angarr adopted her into his own household. She returned to the valley to serve the chieftain as a thane, and lives a strange half-life, spending time with her new kinfolk, and visiting her shaman mentor in Prax. He Who Spits at Chaos (formerly known as Brun) - Exile in Prax, Initiate of Storm Bull - Most of Brun's family were slaughtered by the Lunars after the last Dundealos uprising. He found a sense of belonging with a band of Storm Bull warriors based in Prax. After his initiation, he took his new "name." HWSAC only recently joined the campaign, and is determined to build a shrine to his god on Bardori land, which will also double as an inn and beer hall. His kin appreciate his talent at fighting Chaos, but see his future ambitions as... problematic. Next time... More background material, and covering the campaign events up to the present. Thanks for reading!
  3. 3 points
    Last night was my first time GMing Runequest. As a veteran GM of DND (all versions since 2) and Call of Cthulhu, the challenge for me was making sure that I effectively communicated just enough Glorantha lore, system feel, and fun all in one evening. I think it went well. I did a lot of prep for this game, with most it focusing on making sure I had blocks of text to introduce lore, and that my players had the resources to engage with the combat system. Example: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10uZrm72-Sd6_CAA0L8tWetBnomVZqw9Bw2QHuetI2zA/edit?usp=sharing I recognize that there are probably errors in that document. Feedback is appreciated. Try to see all the newness through a new player's lens! Cattle Raid spoilers to follow. My players chose from among a pre-selected sub set of the starters. I included the complete rules text of every one of their spirit and rune spells, including the stat for the rune they were associated with next to it. The goal being to not have to flip through a book or packet in order to know what they could do. I began by reading the "blurb" at the start of the QuickStart and added in some specific information about the Dragonrise. My players were really interested in the in media res aspect of starting with a cataclysmic event. I began by just having them walking through Apple Lane and seeing a sign advertising the need for a group of heroquesters to protect local cattle. This was a good opportunity to emphasize some culture of Glorantha and I had them make some culture and homeland rolls. The fruits of these rolls were gaining some reasons as to why their characters would want to take risks to protect cows. I tied these reasons to their passions as well, particularly loyalty and devotion to temples. This provided a further opportunity to talk about passions and augmentation. I introduced Brightflower, who served as a strong intro NPC to give them further reasons to help. I also used this as an opportunity for them to introduce their characters using the italic text on the sheets. Brightflower played off of each one after they gave their little speech and I used her as a vehicle to give the players some insights into the motivations of their characters, given how new everything was. The big challenge of the first adventure of a brand new game is that players really don't even know what questions to ask. So, as GM, my job becomes finding creative ways to feed them information from the adventure text questions, without it seeming canned. I think I did a good job of bringing up some things to get them thinking. They took the job and suggesting bothering after Brightflower offered the 50 Lunar. They lead with room and board as an add-on, but Brightflower was so impressed with their Critical success roll on Bargain that she upped the sakkar fee to 100 Lunar. She fetched Heotarl (who I nickname Tarl, because I find Heortarl awkward to pronounce) and they set off for the Gejay Hills! I portrayed Heortarl as written in the text, being a bit overeager towards heroquesting. I went and had him express marriage interest in one of the Adventurers as a way to introduce the "forwardness" of Glorantha social custom. My players did a great job of playing off of what I was doing. I was able to include in the information that Heortarl is designed to give the players about ignorance of the ruins, as well as setting up the Orlevings as an antagonist. Upon arrival at the herd, I used Jareena as a counterpoint to Heortarl, with her chiding him for his "frequent proposals" to young women. One of my player's played Nathem and asked if she could send her Shadowcat on a scouting mission. I wasn't sure how to play this, given that I don't know the extent to which trained Shadowcat's "follow orders" like familiars in DND. So, I had her roll Nathem's Beast Rune. She got a regular success, which I deemed as not good enough for the Cat to go wandering off away from the safety of the fire. I wasn't trying to say "no," so much as do what I thought was realistic. I also wasn't interested in her losing her shadowcat by it just being eaten by sakkars, although maybe that was the most exciting play. Let me know what you think about that? The group followed the cattle the next day, as written. My players made judicious use of Scan and Search to find some sakkar scat. One of my players rolled Critical on Scan and noted a significant rustling in the grass right before the sakkars attacked. Cattle Raid suggests that the sakkars don't want to fight humans. While I totally understand that from a Runequest flavor perspective, I was getting the impression that my group was ready for action, and it was starting to get late anyway. So, I elected to have them fight to the death. Here is the map I prepared for the encounter. Solid lines are increasing elevation and dashed lines are decreasing. The X is where the sakkar attack occurred, and the circled letters refer to the herders. T is HeorTarl. I asked the players how they planned to move with the herd and they elected to spread out. I deliberately made the scale large to increase the tension. I also made a point to emphasize with them that the down slope towards the upper left of the diagram leads to Orleving farm lands. My players did discover that the Varmandi had been grazing within Orleving boarder stone boundaries prior to this. This close proximity made them appropriately nervous. The sakkars attacked! My plan was to keep them near the kills and to feed on them, until anyone chose to intervene. With my players being spread our over the whole map, the challenge was getting them involved with combat and not be sidelined just because of positioning. Vostor was the only one close to the attack, and he elected to use his javelin as a melee weapon. A big part of this first combat was players figuring out "how this works" and I think they did a fine job given the newness and circumstances. They did a good job of attempting augments with skills like bargain, homeland, culture, etc, but really struggled with the idea of augmenting weapon attacks. This is my fault because I could have done a better job of emphasizing that weapons could be augmented too! The "it is whatever it says on my character sheet" mentality is potentially a barrier for people coming over from other games, because skill augmentation is pretty novel for most role-players. Mobility was the most commonly used Spirit Magic and the player playing Yanioth was absolutely dead set on making the biggest Earth Elemental possible to deal with the threat of the sakkars and I couldn't blame them. The beginning of the combat was a brief introduction to how Strike Rank works and the logic of it was well-received by my players. The first few rounds were largely positioning rounds and getting out of the way of cattle. I had the cattle split into three main groups, and having the map really helped here. Players really had a lot of positioning choice and many of them were adept at "finding the gaps" between the three groups to avoid being trampled. Everyone had to make at least one DEX roll and nobody was trampled! But the THREAT of the trample played out really well and definitely influenced the sense of threat. Vostor immediately took a savage gut swipe to his abdomen from the big male sakkar. 17 points to that one location! I basically was fudgy on the movement rules during this section. I recognized that the scale I provided for the map was perhaps a little too much on the harsh side for the combat, as some players were starting hundreds of meters away from the battle. They used Mobility and full moves to get there as quickly as possible. On the other side of the coin, I recognized immediately that I had set it up risking a lot of players just being straight up irrelevant in the battle. Which is not a good thing. So, that resulted in some generous movement responses to player decisions. I didn't play it perfectly by the numbers, because if I did, it really would have punished some players who basically made the logical choice to protect on all sides. That said, Harmast was close enough to Vostor to be able to get to him with a healing potion. We did the Strike Ranks accurately (Dropped weapon, 5 SR take out potion, 5 SR administer) but I did fudge the movement a little. With mobility, Vasana and Yanioth were able to cross the field and get to the threat by the fourth round. Yanioth dropped all four of her Rune points to make a medium elemental and used it to engulf the female sakkar. Vasana trampled it's head with her Bison, killing it. Harmast made a special success sword attack against a failed parry of the male sakkar and it went to the head! It didn't quite do triple damage to the head, but given that it was at less than zero main hit points, I called it a beheading. Where was Nameth this whole time? Nameth ran after Heortarl to guard against any shenanigans with the Orlevings. I had Nameth see two riders in the distance. She (the player) grappled Heortarl to prevent him from doing anything stupid. She wasn't able to wrestle him to the ground. Deseros and Erlanda approached and I played out the expected threats between them and Heortarl. Kari did a great job of rune and passion augments to bargain with them. With a great speech, a logical augment, and a good roll, she talked them into only taking half of the cattle from this sub herd! So, all told, the group only lost 18 cattle and managed to eliminate the sakkar threat. Yes, I know that cuts across the "sakkar run" tactic of the scenario, but based upon the combination of time, table feel, and this being their first adventure, I felt that it was appropriate to have a longer fight. Even if that cuts against the "monsters and people flee" rule of Runequest. We did get the cultural thing in at the end with Nameth and the Orlevings and the negotiation. Most importantly, they want to play again. So, the current plan is to play Defending Apple Lane for our next session! Questions: 1) What do you think about the Shadowcat situation above? Do Shadowcats "follow orders" like familiars? Whether they can or not, how would you have avoided an effective "no" under that situation? 2) Is an elemental's damage physical or magical damage? In other words, does Armor apply? I wasn't sure in the moment, so I made it physical, with the hope being that Yanioth would roll a 4, 5, or 6 on its damage to overcome armor. She rolled a five, and it was appropriately epic, but I'm wondering if I played it correctly. It just seems odd to me that you'd drop four rune points to control an elemental, roll a two for damage result when it engulfs, and have the elemental do no damage to a foe with armor. Seems a potentially huge waste of a large rune point investment. 3) I wasn't sure how creatures with natural weapons "parry," so I just used their claw statistic. Correct? 4) Any skill not in any NPCs list happens at base value, correct? The biggest aide that was missing was a list of skill base values, and I will have that for the next session. Thanks for reading!
  4. 2 points
    Preparing for the Expedition For this session, we played without Egajia. Because everyone was heading into Prax again, and she was ready for her shaman initiation, we explained this by saying she had ventured out early to meet with her mentor and prepare. The other three party members would organize the caravan, and meet with Egajia at the Paps. Here is the route that everyone decided on for reaching Pavis. The party divided up their loot from the raid on Ft. Enstala, and made some purchases. They gave a portion of the goods and silver they found to the Togarth clan, another portion to the Bardori, and some for personal use. The rest they put aside to purchase trade goods, supplies, pack animals and steeds. I allowed them to purchase animals on loan from various sellers around the valley, so they ended up with three pack mules, two bison, and a sable antelope at a discount price. The heroes had achieved a small measure of fame for successfully looting the ruined fort, but their chances of returning alive from Prax were still seen as not good by the clan's elders. They set off on their journey with little fanfare. As they passed through the neighboring Hyaling clan's territory, He Who Spits decided the caravan needed more hired guards, and grew very excited at the prospect of hiring some "real native baboons." There happened to be a mercenary troop camped near the household of the Hyaling chieftain. HWSAC continued the party tradition of botching Communication skill rolls while negotiating for rates. The alpha baboon would only offer the services of two green recruits, but Erindros still managed a good price for their services. Thus, baboons Kurruk and Garr joined the caravan. Day's Rest and the Block After roughly three days of travel, the party arrived again at Day's Rest. The oasis had changed somewhat since their visit back in Earth Season 1625. There was a great mustering of Praxian warriors, several hundred in all, from four different tribes. Erindros learned that most of them were riding to Pavis, where Argrath White Bull was gathering his new army. He saw a familiar face among the Bison Riders, the very same Storm Bull warriors who rode with them to hunt the wicked shaman (see the second blog entry). Their leader, Mokwar, greeted them as friends. He and his band were also traveling to Pavis to join the White Bull's army. Before they did so, they planned to travel to the Block with a young member of their clan, a boy of 16 named Argwaha. The young lad was preparing to initiate into the Storm Bull cul t, but before he did so, he needed to visit the Devil's Marsh and kill a creature of Chaos. Erindros and the rest of the party were undecided on whether they wanted to make a detour to the Block. Mokwar told them that he would consider it a favor if they could accompany young Argwaha, and act as witnesses for his initiation trial. He also offered to give them the name of his cousin, an Issaries trader at the Block, who was known to trade in precious Truestone. The party agreed, and Mokwar and his Storm Bulls left immediately for Pavis. Argwaha proved to be something of a handful. His desire to kill a creature of Chaos was somewhat unsettling, and he saw enemies in every shadow. The journey to the Block took a day and a half, and when they arrived, they didn't have time for sightseeing. Argwaha immediately dismounted his bison, and ran off screaming in the direction of the Devil's Marsh. The PC's followed in hot pursuit. HWSAC had been to the Devil's Marsh on several occasions before. Although he had also shown little restraint around Chaos creatures in the past, now he was cautious, having seen many good men lose their lives to the Marsh. He encouraged Argwaha to show caution as well, but the boy was scornful and bellowed challenges to any creature who could hear him. After a few hours of mud, quicksand, leeches and mosquitoes, the landscape of the marsh took a more Chaotic turn. Soon there were tentacled trees, whispering puddles and frogs that shrieked in human voices. Argwaha finally blundered into a broo hunting for its dinner. The broo defended itself against his attack, while secretly it's mate lay hidden in the bushes from all eyes present. Everyone else initially stayed out of the fight, only casting protective magic on Argwaha. But then the hidden broo threw a javelin, piercing the boy in his side. The first broo took advantage of this and drove it's own spear into his leg, impaling him. Argwaha fell to the ground, but stayed conscious. Garkar flew at the hidden broo, trying to drive it off. Erindros healed Argwaha in time, and HWSAC "shared" a portion of the Bull's rage by casting Fanaticism on the young warrior. Argwaha rose up and then struck a mighty blow in the broo's most vulnerable location (you know the one), killing it at once. Garkar crippled the other broo's leg, and allowed the boy to finish it off as well. With two bloody broo heads to bring back for the Bull priests, the young Praxian had succeeded. He thanked the party for their help, and apologized for his rash behavior earlier. Upon returning to the Block, everyone found that a raucous celebration was beginning. This was no great surprise, as people were always getting drunk and celebrating there, and there was no particular reason for it other than surviving another day. When the Praxians there learned of Argwaha's success, the party grew more wild still, and everyone broke out the bison kumis. Erindros managed to drink a seasoned Storm Bull warrior under the table (he has unusually high CON), while HWSAC was doomed to suffer a hangover the likes of which he had never experienced before. The next day, the party located Mokwar's cousin, and presented a token that he gave to them. The trader revealed his hidden wares, several shards of valuable truestone. He drove a hard bargain for it, but Erindros managed to drive the price down slightly, and purchased three good-sized shards. Argwaha planned to stay and complete his initiation rites, and the party was free to venture on to their next stop, the Paps. Next time, I will have finally caught up to the present session! The party will reunite with Egajia at the Paps, and she will attempt her shaman initiation rite. Thanks for reading!
  5. 2 points
    More Character Creation We started our RQG campaign back in March. At this point I don't actually remember how many sessions we've had, something like 8-10. Before character creation, I gave everyone a brief overview of the setting. I explained that their characters' choice of cult was one of the most important, and probably something they should have in mind beforehand. At first, I was kind of reluctant to do the Family History generation. I wanted to fit character creation into one session, and I feared that we wouldn't be able to. Thankfully, my players insisted that we go for it, and I'm now glad they did. Here are some notable highlights for each characters' history. Garkar - Grandmother was a bandit who fought to save Boldhome, then was killed by the Sambari Tribe. Father fought in Starbrow's Rebellion, and was killed by the Lunars. Garkar nearly starved during the Great Winter, and lost other family to troll raids. Fought in the Liberation of Pavis. Erindros - Grandfather was killed at Grizzly Peak. Mother was a Dundealos Vingan warrior who fought in many uprisings against the Lunars, but died of illness. Erindros fought in the Siege of Nochet, and distinguished himself at Pennel Ford. Egajia - Grandmother was (oddly) a Lhankor Mhy sage who married into the High Llama Tribe. Father was a typical Praxian who died in a raid on the Redwood Elves. Egajia refused to pledge loyalty to Argrath, due to the influence of her new Dundealos kin (the Dundealos distrust anyone who would revive Jaldon Goldentooth). Took part in the Liberation of Pavis, but was nearly driven insane by Lunar magic. Garkar and Erindros' players rolled up fairly average characters, who excelled at a few things (fighting and bargaining respectively), but were rather poor at using spirit magic. Egajia ended up having very impressive stats for a future shaman (POW 20, CHA 18), and a spirit combat skill of 125%, partly thanks to her encounter with the Lunar demons. For occupations, Garkar chose warrior, Erindros chose the life of a merchant, and Egajia went with assistant shaman. We had to discuss how these occupations fit in with their character histories. Garkar technically started as a bandit, but after the clan's return to the valley, became a weaponthane for the new chieftain. Erindros had learned the merchant trade with his family in Esrolia, and decided to expand the family business to Sartar. Egajia's role as an assistant shaman was somewhat hard to explain, due to the great demands placed on assistants by their mentors. We decided she would have an agreement worked out with the clan chieftain where she would spend roughly half a season serving him as a thane, and the other half in Prax with her shaman teacher. Early Sessions - The Sacred Rooster The first session of actual gameplay involved a journey east into Prax. It took place in late Earth Season, 1625. The clan was still in the process of trickling back to their ancestral lands, but the PC's had all returned. A new chieftain, Angarr Broad-back, had been chosen by the clan. He in turn had chosen his Inner Ring, including a mix of cults and people representing different groups from the exile. The PC's, being prominent heroes already, were considered to all be thanes on the Clan Ring. Other clans in the Dundealos Tribe had also returned by this time. Most of these had to create new wyters for their clans, although a few had managed to preserve their old wyter. The Bardori wyter was traditionally bound in a red rooster, supposedly of a lineage of males going back to before Time began, originally owned by the clan's founder. The last wyter was defeated and lost during the most recent uprising. Angarr had resigned himself to creating a new wyter from a less exalted lineage of birds, at the risk of weakening the clan's magic. However, he began having recurring dreams of being trapped in a cage, and looking out on the chaparral of Prax. He believed that the old clan wyter still lived in it's original body, and was trying to communicate with him through visions. The chieftain summoned Erindros, Garkar, and Egajia to discuss his dreams. He explained that the Sacred Rooster was likely imprisoned somewhere in Prax, and described a place of weeping statues, with a small sheltered pool nearby. He also mentioned seeing a man with a painted face, wearing a long-horned headdress. He asked the three of them to travel east to the oasis of Day's Rest, and determine if anyone could help them find the place, or the mysterious man. The chieftain provided everyone with riding beasts and supplies. They set off for Day's Rest, which took more than two days to reach. On the way, they encountered a group of Morokanth travelling with their herd-men. Egajia attempted to give them gifts from the clan, and ask if they knew any information to help their mission. She addressed them through song and dance, hoping to flatter and praise them. Unfortunately, she made a poor choice of improvised lyrics and compared them to stupid beasts (the result of a fumble). Instead of talking with them, the Morokanth commanded their herd-men to chase them away and pelt them with feces. Which they did, quite successfully (after all, you can't parry flying projectiles). Eventually the party arrived at Day's Rest, tired and still covered with shit. The oasis was bustling with activity, as the Sable Tribe had recently been driven out, and the oasis claimed by the Bison Tribe. The party planned to stay the night at a Geo's Inn called the Shady Rest, run by a person (gender unclear) named Fosli the Beautiful. They were permitted to bathe behind the stables. Day's Rest included an inn, an Issaries Market, and several sandstone dwellings on one side of the watering hole. On the other side, the Bison Riders made their camps, near a small village of Oasis Folk. The party set about ingratiating themselves to everyone around, seeing if they could gather some information. Egajia met with a group of Bison Riders led by one Mokwar, all apparently Storm Bull cultists. Gaining their trust, she learned that they were hunting a shaman from the Sable Tribe, an enemy of their clan and a Lunar collaborator. After describing to them the man from the chieftain's dream, they confirmed that he was likely the same shaman, named Keshluk. Egajia told them about the place with the weeping statues, and they claimed to know of a place half a day's ride east which fit the description. Unfortunately, the Bison Riders were ready to spring into action immediately and investigate the place, and the party was forced to ride after them in great haste. They rode until sunset, and then approached several tall rock formations, which sheltered an ancient courtyard of ruined statues. The Bison Riders charged in. They quickly found their shaman, but he had been dead for several days, and picked at by vultures. They rode off, leaving the party to poke around on their own. Garkar noticed that Keshluk's throat had been cut, and his various charms and fetishes had been smashed around his body. No one could immediately locate the Sacred Rooster, or any other valuables in the shaman's camp. Egajia used Second Sight to look for any spiritual activity. She found that there were several powerful Death Spirits gathered around the shaman's ghost, which was writhing in pain. They appeared to be inflicting some kind of spiritual torture on him. She attempted to communicate with them, and determined that they had been enslaved to Keshluk, and were now enacting their revenge. They spoke only in the vaguest of terms, and mentioned the shaman being killed by "the boy." No sooner had the spirits mentioned this, than the party was attacked from the shadows by three human-like figures. Up close, they realized that these figures were human, but likely possessed by malevolent spirits of some kind. Their heads, hands and feet were all twisted backwards, and their fingers sprouted long claws. Garkar and Erindros held them off while Egajia engaged them in spirit combat to drive out the possessors. The party defeated them fairly quickly, and the spirits fled after being driven from their hosts, fearing Egajia. The three attackers appeared to be from the Sable Tribe. They needed healing after their bodies had been so grossly malformed. Simple spirit magic fixed the problem. The party bound and interrogated their attackers, and learned that two of them had served as bodyguards to the shaman, and the other, a young boy, was his apprentice. The boy, named Maralak, had murdered his master after he returned from a taxing journey in the Spirit World. Keshluk was apparently a cruel man, and the boy regretted nothing. Except for the fact that all of the shaman's bound spirits were set free, and then took control of Maralak and the bodyguards. The Sable men asked to be ransomed back to their tribe. The party agreed. Maralak told them of a cave nearby where Keshluk kept his valuables. The entrance to the cave was blocked by an earth elemental, which moved when Maralak spoke a certain word. Within the cave, they found the Sacred Rooster, along with other stolen goods and charms. The clan wyter was happy to see it's kinfolk. It had been trapped in a cage made of wicker and iron nails, which sapped it's magic points. The party destroyed the cage (it had been built specifically to hold the wyter), and looted the shaman's former belongings. The heroes traveled back to Day's Rest, and paid an Issaries priest to bring their captives to Pimper's Block for ransom, in return for a percentage. They returned to Bardori lands in triumph, and the chieftain threw them a feast. The wyter had returned just in time for the chieftain to perform a heroquest that would ensure the hens' fertility, and that they would produce a supernatural surplus of eggs to enjoy in the winter. This involved a ritual dance in full regalia for the chieftain and his wife, and then the two of them spending a vigorous night together. Thank you for reading! I've been trying to stick with the seasonal model for my campaign. This first session was the Earth Season adventure, next time, Dark Season 1625. P.S. Comments are welcome, but no chicken jokes please, I've heard them all from my players.
  6. 1 point
    Note: Up until this point, I have been getting the name of "He Who Spits at Chaos" totally wrong, it's actually "He Who Spits at the Devil." So, from this point onward, HWSAC will be HWSAD. In our last session, the party traveled on from the Block to the Paps, with a brief stop at Tourney Altar. Before leaving the Block, HWSAD took part in Storm Bull's seasonal holy day ceremonies. He entered the Eternal Battle, and witnessed the Bull grappling with the Devil himself. I debated whether or not this should involve a Battle roll or something, but I decided against it. The party then pushed on, leaving their insane young friend Argwaha behind. The journey to the Paps took three days. I wondered if I should be rolling up more random encounters for the travel between locations, but again it seemed inappropriate. Sea Season is one of the only "peaceful" times on the plains of Prax due to the calving season celebrations, so any nomads that the caravan saw in the distance were not interested in raiding. When they arrived at the Paps, they immediately noticed the landscape becoming more green. Dust and chaparral were replaced with palm trees and cool springs. The temple complex itself was vast, and thronging with pilgrims of various sorts, including Praxians, merchants from Sartar and Esrolia, and even a party of Aldryami. I couldn't find any illustrations of the Paps temple itself, so to give my players a good visual, I showed them some pictures of the rock-cut Kailasa Temple. They were unable to enter the temple itself, due to the terrifying Babeester Gor initiates guarding the entrance, but there were numerous shrines around the oasis to be visited. As it was Windsday, Garkar tried to find a shrine to Orlanth in which to pray. He found one as part of Ernalda's lineup of Husband-Protectors, but was unable to reach his god due to a rhino wandering into the worship space (explanation for a bad roll). As he left, he noticed the group of Aldryami watching him, but they were uninterested in talking. Their great height, reddish skin, and needle-brush hair suggested that they were from the Redwood Forest to the north. Egajia was nowhere to be seen at the temple or oasis. Instead the party was greeted by her shaman teacher, Mok. Her mentor has often been mentioned in previous sessions, but this was the first time the rest of the party had met him. Egajia's player decided Mok should be an eccentric, stern Llama Rider who had been somehow "magically enlarged" in the past. He was over twelve feet tall, and did not have a riding beast. He simply ran across the plains like an Agimori. He lead the party further up into the hills, to a narrow canyon littered with broken statues. Here, Egajia was found meditating inside the shattered stone head of an ancient, nameless goddess. She had been fasting and preparing for her journey into the Spirit World for many days, and was in no state to greet her comrades. Mok explained that she would pass into the Spirit World in a few days, to undergo her shaman trials. During this time her physical body would be vulnerable, and her enemies could potentially be drawn to her. As her kin and comrades, it was the duty of the party to defend her, until she either returned or died on her journey. Mok himself could not stay to help. Even though he was also Egajia's kinsman (uncle actually), he was not allowed to interfere with any part of her initiation directly. Before he left, he gave Garkar a spirit charm to use, a simple painted stick. He claimed that it contained a fragment of Oakfed, the Great Wildfire, and that it would follow the instructions of whoever broke it. Mok then left by scrambling up the rock walls. Defending Egajia The canyon in which Egajia was meditating was easily defended. The rocks on either side were insurmountable, and she was well protected inside the stone goddess head, which mostly blocked the side facing the hills. Everyone in the party knew that worship rituals, heroquests, and other gatherings were often disrupted by enemies, and so they expected trouble. HWSAD used his maul to knock down a few statues, to serve as extra cover. Garkar hid himself among the boulders further away from the stone head. Erindros went about instructing the baboons on how to properly defend a confined space. Before long, one of the baboons spotted a group creeping up the hills toward the canyon. Garkar recognized them as the same Aldryami he had seen at the Paps, and counted six of them. Their leader introduced himself as Onakal, and said that his brothers and sisters had come to bring Egajia to justice for crimes that she had committed. He explained that years ago, she had led a group of llama riders into the Redwood Forest on a raid, and burned many trees and elves. The PC's knew that Egajia hated elves for killing her father, but not that she had feuded with them on other occasions. HWSAD attempted to appeal to their sense of honor, asking for them to wait until she returned from the Spirit World, but his words fell on deaf ears. They prepared to attack. The Spirit World Egajia had discorporated a few hours before the elves showed up. She entered the border regions of the Spirit World, and saw the landscape around her come alive with genius loci spirits, and other strange beings. She wandered for a short time, until she saw a huge man, as big as her mentor. His skin was covered with swirling runes and patterns, and a large pair of bison horns grew from his head. She knew him to be the Horned Man. They greeted each other as if they were old friends. He gestured for her to follow him, and she did so. They traveled through the Spirit World (I described it as combination of stumbling, flying, and dreaming), and arrived at the edge of a new place. There was a vast oasis, surrounded by desert and scrub land. In the distance was an enormous mountain, big enough to warp the horizon itself, the Spike. The Horned Man stopped, and asked Egajia if she was ready and willing to give him her gift. She said she was. She reached into her own chest, and pulled out her heart. The heart turned black, and crystallized into something resembling obsidian. With a gaping hole in her chest, she gave the Horned Man her heart, a sacrifice of 15 POW! He accepted it gratefully, and in return gave her a set of chimes, carved from human bones. He left, telling her that she must find her own way to the place she sought. She turned and walked to the oasis, where she saw many people and herds gathered. Meanwhile, at the Alamo Everyone on both sides took cover behind the rubble, and began casting protective spells like Shield and Protection. It was six against five (counting the baboons), so Garkar wasted no time in breaking the magic stick over his knee. Immediately, a huge fire elemental flowed out of the charm (medium-sized), and stood ready to fight. HWSAD also summoned his air elemental to join them. Four of the elves drew swords and spears, and each cast Aldrya's spell Chameleon on themselves. They immediately became very hard to spot. Onakal and another elf stood back and cast Arrow Trance, becoming stiff and focused. Initially everyone stayed behind the boulders, as the Arrow Tranced elves used multimissile to blacken the sky with arrows. The elves with melee weapons quickly moved up the canyon to close in, hoping their stealth magic would protect them. Unfortunately for them, Garkar had very sharp eyes, and a high Scan skill. He directed the fire elemental at them while they were close together. It closed in for a fiery embrace, and two of the elves were incinerated at once. Two more managed to make it past the elemental, but were confronted with Erindros, HWSAD, and the baboons. They proved very difficult to hit, due to the Chameleon spell. No one was able to scratch them until Garkar ran back with his broadsword in hand, and slashed one across the belly for a crippling blow. As soon as he left his cover however, he was hit in the neck with an arrow. His helmet thankfully saved his life. Eventually He Who Spits also landed a hit, crushing the the remaining elf's leg. Before the fight began, HWSAD had built a bonfire near the stone head, thinking that Aldryami were weak against fire. He then asked his air elemental to pick up the burning embers and drop them on the archers. It did so, and managed to badly wound one of them. The fire elemental took care of the rest. Two elves still survived but were badly wounded. They yielded and asked for mercy, and the PC's allowed them to live. The elementals then dissipated. Back to the Spirit World Egajia came to the oasis, where she found the spirits of her ancestors, and their herds, all gathered around the watering hole to rest. She met kinfolk that she had summoned in the past, including kindly Uncle Dimalag, Aunt Sadesh, and Cousin Abjal (who everyone hates). The Founder and Protectress of her tribe were there as well, but she couldn't get close enough to speak to them. Suddenly a strange figure rode up to her. He was thin, almost skeletal, with dry leathery skin. He had golden teeth and bulging eyes, and rode a strange animal that Egajia had never seen before. He wielded a spear, and a dagger-axe that looked more like a scythe. She had seen him before at the Battle of Hender's Ruins, where he was last killed (at least in my version of the timeline). It was Jaldon Goldentooth. He asked her, "Who are you? A Praxian, or a Sartarite foreigner? You are caught between two worlds, and I cannot decide if I should kill you, or embrace you as my kin." Egajia's answer, "I am a Praxian woman of Sartar. If you wish to cut me in half with your blade, do so. One half shall stay here, the other will hop to the Cave on one foot." Jaldon seemed very satisfied with this response, and let her go. He pointed to the spirit of a strangely dressed woman before he left. Egajia went to speak with her. It was her grandmother Sebayok (the one we created in her Family History). She was a philosopher from Pavis, and an initiate of the city cult. She died before Egajia was born, but her own people told her stories about how she died valiantly at the Battle of Grizzly Peak. Sebayok embraced her granddaughter, and they chatted for awhile. She then showed Egajia a vision of her comrades fighting off the Aldryami. She asked- "What do your companions mean to you? Would you lay down your own life for them?" Her answer, "They are my friends and kin, thus they are a part of me. I would have no choice but to sacrifice my life for them, for in losing them I would already have lost myself." She was pleased with the answer. She then pointed to another spirit, this one very familiar. It was a man of the High Llama Tribe, tall and thin, and riddled with arrows. This was Egajia's father Harjoon. He had been killed by elves only a year before the start of the campaign. He praised his daughter, and she gave him honor. He then asked her- "What would you sacrifice to see your enemies defeated? Your life? Your friends and family? The world itself?" Her answer, "They are my enemies alone, and so I could only sacrifice myself to see them destroyed." He nodded, and at last pointed to the base of the Spike. There, among tumbled rocks, Egajia saw the Cave. She bade her ancestors farewell and walked toward it. The Cave When she entered, at first there was only darkness. Egajia's player then described the Cave as having it's own light. It was made up of narrow rock passageways that spiraled and fed into each other. It was a labyrinth. Eventually, she came to an open chamber. Here, she felt the open wound in her chest throb, and something felt as if it was trying to escape from inside her. She vomited out a white, smoky substance, and felt as if what remained of her soul was escaping her. She performed a Spirit Dance, attempting to contain the power leaking out of her, and it formed into something more solid. Her fetch, when it finally materialized, appeared as a large snake, wearing a wooden mask. Finally feeling complete, she continued on through the Cave. As she felt her way through one of the tunnels, she noticed that the walls became increasingly tight. Soon she was trapped, and the light of the Cave faded into total darkness again. She became aware of another, malevolent presence nearby. Someone grabbed her arm roughly, and dragged her through an opening into another chamber. This figure was a living shadow, human-shaped. It's only distinguishing feature were it's red, bloodshot eyes. Bad Man then pulled her into a private hell of his own creation. Spirit combat with Bad Man lasted for four rounds. Each round, he pulled her into another vision, and tormented her by making her live out her worst fears. Her spirit combat skill was 125%, and Bad Man's was 175%. This was adjusted to 50% vs. 150%. In the first round, Egajia was with her old Praxian clan, surrounded by elders including her father and brothers (now dead). They accused her of betraying the clan's traditions, of turning her back on the gods and consorting with foreigners. They condemned her to exile, and severed her spiritual connection with her people. She was unable to say anything for herself, as Bad Man had stolen her voice. Bad Man wins, taboo: Never eat Bison meat. In the next round, Egajia is trapped in a burning forest of redwood trees. They fall and crash around her. A giant Aldryami, at least 50 feet tall, appears and chases her. She calls on her fetch, who coils around the giant elf, and crawls into it's mouth and nostrils to destroy it from within. Egajia wins, shaman ability: To be determined later. Next, Bad Man takes her back to the Battle of Hender's Ruins, where Lunar magic and demons are tearing her comrades apart. She runs from the carnage, only to be confronted by the pulsing glow of the Moon itself. It fills up her vision, and she is forced to relive the temporary madness that consumed her during the battle. Bad Man wins, Taboo: Sleep outdoors once a week. Egajia finds herself back outside the entrance to the Cave. Suddenly, a giant version of Bad Man appears from behind the Spike. A horde of Chaos monsters follows in his footsteps. He directs the horde to attack Egajia's ancestors. She stands helpless as her ancestors are devoured, and their souls annihilated by Chaos. The Spike implodes, leaving only a gaping hole in the earth, and she is sucked into the blackness. Bad Man wins, taboo: Make a pilgrimage to Daka Fal's Fire once per season. Finally, Egajia reappeared by the real entrance to the Cave, still in the Spirit World. Bad Man was gone, but Horned Man was waiting for her. He accompanied her back to her body, and she and her fetch returned to the mundane world. She awoke, and left the broken statue to see her comrades, standing over two terrified looking elves. They explained to her what happened, and she both thanked them and apologized for putting them in harm's way. The party went back to the temple complex at the Paps, where Mok awaited them for a celebration. Next time, the party will finally reach Pavis! Thanks for reading.
  7. 1 point
    Edit: I've decided to add more of my AWFUL maps to help visualize the many different locations I'm describing. Storm Season (Off-time) At this point in the campaign, I think we had about 4 sessions under our belt. I decided that I wanted to allow the players more control over what their characters did each season, and so I took a break from the usual, "Chieftain tells you to do this for the good of the clan, so do it." Instead I started giving them a quick overview of what the clan folk were doing week by week, dropping rumors, and sharing news about what the other clans and neighbors were up to. My hope was that they would either choose something interesting to look into, or come up with a scheme of their own. At the beginning of the Storm Season, the events were as follows- In spite of their vindication, the Bardori are still angry at the Togarth clan. There are disputes about stolen pasture land, and their chieftain also refuses to return the cattle that were lost the previous season. The Balkoth clans, in particular the Wozer (another one I created) are hitting everyone in the valley with repeated cattle raids. Now that they don't have to herd goats anymore, they are replenishing their herds (although they still have the goats). Fort Enstala, the ruined capitol of the late Enstalos Tribe, is rumored to be haunted by vengeful ghosts and demons. It is also rumored to still have treasure hidden in the Temple of the Seven Mothers, passed over by Blackmane's raiders. Chieftain Angarr has forbidden anyone from raiding until next year. He feels the focus should be on rebuilding steads, repairing defenses, and reestablishing old ties of friendship and trade with other clans. In spite of this, the young weaponthanes are chomping at the bit, and ready to fight their own neighbors. The atmosphere is a bit tense. Erindros agrees with the chieftain that feuding with the Togarth would be a bad thing, and cattle raiding may not be enough to satisfy the hotblooded warriors. He comes up with a plan that will hopefully improve relations with the Togarth, and also let the warriors test their mettle. Storm Season: The Big Raid (or, Everyone Hates the Sambari Tribe) Political Map of Dundealos Valley Erindros' idea was this. He, Egajia and Garkar would go to the Togarth chieftain as emissaries, bearing gifts and offering to smooth over recent disputes. They would then propose a joint raid as one-time allies against a common enemy: the Sambari Tribe to the northwest. The Sambari are famous thrallholders, and many of their clans once paid annual tribute to the Togarth, who would go raiding against them otherwise. Since the Dundealos Tribe was disbanded, they have not had to worry about this of course. Raiding one of their clans, specifically the Rastorlings, would help to reestablish the old tributes. The Bardori have no quarrel with any Sambari clans (except for Garkar of course), but they would benefit by liberating and adopting more thralls. Erindros and Egajia convinced the chieftain and the Inner Ring that this would be a good idea. They then had to visit the Togarth chieftain, Arnsulva One-Eye, and convince her. The party got a cool reception at first, and had to suffer various insults from Arnsulva, a Vingan warrior. Then Garkar, bolstered with magic and fueled by his irrational hatred of the Sambari, convinced the Togarth thanes that the thrallholders needed to be taught a lesson. He also impressed the chieftain, and plans for a joint raiding party were agreed upon. The Togarth would send the chieftain's eldest daughter Orane, a warrior of Humakt, and eighty warriors. The Bardori would send one hundred, led by the PC's and a member of the Inner Ring named Leif Lightspear. Leif was a Sun Thane of Elmal, and originally from the Pol-Joni. Before setting out on the raid, the clan prepared with rituals and prayers to their war gods (mainly Orlanth, Elmal, and Humakt). The chieftain presented the Black Arrow to the clan's warriors, and took part in the masked war dances. The next morning the raiders set out north, and met up with the Togarth contingent on the way. Rastorling lands would take a full day and a half to reach. On the way, the raiders would have to pass through the Ulandring clan's territory. The Ulandrings are a Dundealos clan, and in my version of the setting, are the more cool-headed parent clan of the Togarth. They allowed the party to pass without issue, and even allowed a few of their own warriors to join the raid. The Rastorling clan (I can't remember if I made them up or not) are based in the northern Tantrell Hills around a hill fort, simply called Rastorl's Fort. The raiding party camped for the night at the edge of Ulandring territory, then struck out the next morning. They stayed under the cover of woods as they approached the fort, and Garkar scouted ahead to help everyone avoid the border patrols. The raiders managed to reach the fort itself without being discovered, and were thus able to strike before the full Rastorling militia was prepared. The fort's defenders numbered about 100, including the farmers nearby who took up arms. Before the two sides clashed in battle, challenges were called out. One particularly obnoxious warrior named Orlestan "Mad-Beard" was getting under Garkar's skin, and he met the warrior's challenge. Unfortunately, Orlestan had a Lightning spell prepared, and nearly blew off poor Garkar's sword arm. Garkar decided the duel wasn't going well, and used his Leap spell to get safely back to his allies, and Egajia's healing magic. The battle was then met. The raiders outnumbered the defenders, and again Erindros' leadership skills in battle helped to win the day. The defenders were driven back into the fort. Rastorl's Fort boasted a high stone wall and a stout gate, and the raiders had little hope of breaching it. Erindros realized however that the Rastorlings' most valuable assets, their thralls, were also likely imprisoned in the fort. He went to the front gate, dodging arrows as he went, and attempted to rouse the thralls within to fight back against their captors, and open the gate for their future liberators. Perhaps sensing an opportunity, the thralls within (who now outnumbered the Rastorling defenders) responded, and after a short brawl within, raised the main gate for the raiders. They swarmed into the fort, and the looting began. Further Complications The raid was a success. The Togarth warriors were allowed to take the larger share of silver and loot, while the Bardori rustled the cattle, stole food, and rounded up as many thralls as they could find to offer them freedom. Erindros, Egajia and Garkar were overseeing this process when they noticed something odd. By this time, it was late afternoon, and the sun was sinking low. Yet, from the southwest, a massive shadow was quickly approaching. It looked as if night was falling, but only over a region a few miles across. Suspecting that some foul magic was at play, they ran off to warn Leif and the other raiders. No sooner had they done so, when a cold shadow swept over the Rastorlings' entire tula. The sun became a dim blot in the sky, and general visibility was reduced to only a few meters. Soon after this, the PC's began hearing terrifying howls, grunts and squeals. A band of trollkin wielding spears came loping out of the darkness, and tried to engage the party. Egajia also sensed through Second Sight that other, more powerful creatures were staying hidden and watching in the darkness. They all decided unanimously that they were too spent to fight any kind of troll, and retreated. The trollkin couldn't keep up with them, and they escaped successfully. Unfortunately, the darkness combined with the bewildering noises made it difficult to find their way, and everyone became lost. After a few hours of wandering, the strange darkness dissipated, and gave way to actual night. The PC's found Leif Lightspear and other Bardori warriors under the effects of a Sunbright spell. They learned from him that trolls had swept in to take advantage of the chaos and carry off prisoners and cattle. The giant shadow was apparently a massive elemental, of the kind found in Shadow's Dance. Among the prisoners taken was the Togarth chieftain's daughter, Orane. The party was then faced with a difficult choice. They felt they needed to save Orane, as it was the honorable thing to do, and it could also potentially put the Togarth chieftain in their debt. By this point however, they had spent their rune magic, and other resources as well (augments, MP). Still, they decided to follow the trail of the Uz war party (which was not hard to find at all). Their quickly improvised plan was to ask Leif to use his remaining rune magic to distract the trolls, while they crept in and rescued Orane. The trolls had left to the south, into thick woods. The party borrowed horses, and rode along with Leif and a few others to follow them. The trolls left a trail of mangled brush and discarded bones that was not hard to follow, even in the dark. The rescuers found that the trolls were traveling with several giant rhinoceros beetles, laden with spoils (mostly food), and crude cages to store prisoners. These were mostly Togarth warriors, many wounded and unconscious. There were dozens of trolls present, and twice as many trollkin. Thankfully, Leif's distraction worked as he blinded the trolls with light, and set trees on fire. Most of them gave chase. Garkar and Erindros freed as many Togarth captives as they could, but were not able to heal those who were otherwise too wounded. They found the chieftain's daughter, who was unconscious, and carried her back to the horses. Several trolls noticed the heroes escaping, but Egajia still had plenty of MP left for Sleep spells. They escaped, as did Leif, and the trolls did not bother pursuing. The group had to go the long way around Rastorling land and avoid their patrols again, which they managed to do. They were reunited with the raiding party, and breathed a collective sigh of relief. All in all, the raid could still be counted as a success. The Togarth were furious at having their men taken as food by the trolls, but none of them blamed the Bardori or the PC's. Orane, when she came to, gave them her thanks. The raiding party returned the way they had come. Arnsulva One-Eye praised the PC's heroism at rescuing her eldest daughter, and threw a feast to celebrate the successful raid. While she could not be convinced to set up a permanent alliance between the two clans, she admitted that she was in their debt. Sacred Time 1625 Originally I had planned to make Sacred Time a separate adventure unto itself, but the timing didn't really work out. Instead it was treated as part of the seasonal off-time. I narrated the story of the Lightbringer's Quest, and each PC took part in a ceremony for their respective gods. Egajia was off in Prax for most of the two weeks, celebrating Daka Fal's high holy days. Here is how the Sacred Time sequence from the core rules worked out for everyone- Worship ceremonies - None of the PC's had more than 4 rune points with their gods, and they manage to recover them in previous weeks. Heroquest - No one felt like they were ready for this, and I didn't have to time to invent my own Heroquesting rules (can't wait for the Campaign/GM book to come out!!!) Harvest - For modifiers, the omens of the previous year were Ill-Favored, due to the Dragonrise and general instability in the region. I also considered the attack from the Lunar garrison to count as Light Raiding (-10% modifier). This added up to a -20% for the Harvest roll. The result was Bad. People were hungry, and barely scraping by, but at least it wasn't a famine. Adventurer Income - Despite the poor harvest, Erindros and Egajia succeeded with their rolls. Garkar did not (should have spent more time on the farm I guess). Erindros' player realized that he did not take steps to increase his stockpiled goods, thus his merchant income was meager. For the next year, he decided he would plan a trading expedition. Aging - Everyone is in their early 20's, nothing exciting here. Family Rolls - Nobody felt motivated to get married yet. One of Garkar's uncles was blessed by Orlanth and received a magical spear. Nothing interesting happened in Egajia's family. Erindros was the big winner, fathering a son! We all tried to figure out when and how this would have logically happened. Erindros' player agreed that the big party with the Togarth clan may have resulted in a drunken liaison. This also meant the baby was not born yet, so this would give Erindros time to figure out how to take care of his new family (and if he was going to get married). Omens - I knew something of what was coming for 1626. I decided the omens would definitely be Ill-Favored again. The chieftain was the one to perform the divinations, using a sacrificed rooster of course. He went into a frightening trance, and gave the following prophecy- "The Red Moon waxes bright, Chaos grows strong. A foul wind blows from the East. A great house shall fall, and after comes war and darkness." The spilled blood from the cockerel then moved of its own accord, and formed into the distinctive shape of a woman holding two curved swords. Next time, Sea Season 1626. The next season actually contains multiple adventures, so I will summarize it in 2-3 entries. Thanks for taking the time to read about our campaign!
  8. 1 point
    Edit: I've added some AWFUL maps that I made in a free paint program called Artweaver. Dark Season (Off-time) To the best of my recollection, my players and I spent one session doing off-time activities, and then preparing to introduce the next big adventure. Still, they were very busy during this off-time. Sartar was in great upheaval, and emissaries arrived at the chieftain's hall claiming that Fazzur Wideread was marching on Sartar to crush the latest uprising. The PC's were given the option of joining Kallyr Starbrow in the north to defend Sartar against the Tarshite army. Partly because all the PC's had relevant Passions (Hate: Lunar Empire), and partly because they all wanted to take part in a big battle, they rode north to Swenstown and joined the 1st Swenstown Foot Militia, and then on towards Kallyr's camp at Red Cow Fort. I used the material at the end of the Eleven Lights campaign to provide details and imagery for the battle, and actually read Kallyr's speech before the big fight. In some ways this felt like cheating, because players in the Red Cow campaign have to come a long way to earn this epic finale. But I thought it encapsulated the struggles of the last few years very well, so I went for it. After a whole lot of buildup, we actually handled the Battle of Dangerford as a simple series of rolls using the Battle skill. Garkar and Egajia fought well, but Erindros (who oddly enough had the highest Battle skill) took command of a group of fighters defending the Isle Dangerous, and played a decisive role in holding off the Lunar advance. After the battle ended in fiery carnage for the Lunars, Kallyr Starbrow herself commended Erindros for his leadership. The party returned to Bardori lands in triumph, but they found that all was not well at home. The clan's ancestral spirits, who resided in a series of sanctified barrow mounds, had manifested and marched into the chieftain's hall, in a rather foul mood. They demanded to know why their descendants had deigned to keep thralls when doing so was forbidden by clan tradition. The chieftain had in fact kept about 50 survivors of the Enstalos Tribe as thralls to help finish the harvest after the Dragonrise occurred, and ensured his people wouldn't starve for the winter. The chieftain told the spirits as much, but they were unsatisfied with the answer, and threatened to withhold their blessings unless the situation was rectified. Chieftain Angarr then summoned a clan moot to discuss the issue. These Enstalos survivors were mostly women and children of Tarshite origin, although they included several families of former Dundealos who had converted to the Lunar Way. These families had joined the new Lunar tribe instead of supporting their kin in the last uprising. When they were discovered by Angarr and the returning clan, all were spared death to avoid the curse of kinstrife. The clan moot was a loud and raucous affair, and it became clear that factions were forming between different members of the Inner Ring. Two different solutions were proposed- Free the thralls and adopt them as full members of the clan, or- Sell them at a slave market, either to the Sambari Tribe or at Pimper's Block. The PC's mostly argued for the former option, with Garkar abstaining from the debate, and only saying that the Sambari Tribe didn't deserve anyone's business (Garkar hates the Sambari Tribe). On of the main sticking points for the adoption argument was that the thralls seemed reluctant to abandon the Lunar religion. The PC's were unable to sway the chieftain's opinion, and so he vowed to think on it for another week before he made a decision, and call another moot then. Dark Season - Murder and a Nighttime Raid Bardori Lands The party gathered again at the chieftain's hall a few days later, after hearing grim news. A young man of 16 had been found dead that morning at the edge of some pastureland. His name was Aldis, and he was a member of a Pol-Joni family that settled with the clan. Many of the clan's cattle had also been stolen. Some were found scattered throughout the tula, while others were sighted across the river to the north, in the lands of the Togarth clan. The Togarth are a Dundealos clan (also of my own invention), but also a War Clan who were known conduct cattle raids against fellow tribesmen. Many Bardori thanes assumed that the Togarth attempted a cattle raid that went badly for them, and Aldis was killed before he could alert the militia. More hotheaded voices demanded immediate retaliation against their northern neighbors. The chieftain called on the PC's to discretely look into Aldis's murder. He personally suspected that the Togarth had nothing to do with it, and wanted to avoid a potential feud so soon after resettling. They agreed, and started by examining Aldis's body. They met with the boy's father, and convinced them to allow an "autopsy." They had only one chance to examine the body, as the family were Elmal worshipers who cremated their dead. They found that Aldis had been shot from behind with several arrows, but were unable to gather any more relevant information. They did notice that Aldis's sister seemed nervous and reluctant to speak with them. Erindros attempted to speak with her in private, and she offered to give him more information on her brother's death after the cremation, when she could get away from her father. Next the party decided to inspect the place where Aldis was killed. This was at the edge of pasture land belonging to one of the clan's main bloodlines. There were many confusing tracks, and much spilled blood. There had also been light snowfall the previous night. Thankfully Garkar had decent Tracking skills. He discovered that Aldis's body was likely dragged to the place where it was found, from closer to the southern edge of clan territory. They walked to this place, near the edge of a tract of woods. Here they found more fresh blood, and the tracks were much clearer. The evidence suggested that the boy was attacked by a small group that came out of the woods. They also noticed poorly concealed tracks leading back towards the thrall stockade, where the Enstalos folk were kept prisoner. At this point, various theories were being batted around about the killing, including bandits, some other clan, or a person within the clan who had a motive to kill. Before jumping to any conclusions, Erindros decided to speak with the victim's sister, whom he had met earlier. She told him that Aldis had been seeing an Enstalos girl named Sostra, who was a thrall. She didn't want to reveal this in front of her father, for fear of dishonoring him, and because her family hate the Lunars. With this information in mind, the party finally went to visit the thrall stockade. This was a hastily constructed series of shelters, surrounded by a wooden palisade. Within they found Sostra, and encouraged her to cooperate with them, for the good of her own family. She admitted that she and Aldis had been meeting each other secretly in a hay loft for the last few weeks. The previous night, Aldis had awoken and seen a cowled figure leaving the stockade. He followed in order to determine the person's identity, and then never returned. Sostra lay awake worrying for the rest of the night, and then saw the mysterious figure return to the stockade shortly before dawn. The party promised the girl their protection, and went about privately interviewing the other community leaders of the Enstalos thralls. They proved a tight-lipped bunch, and no new information was gleaned. At this point, the day was drawing to a close, and Erindros and Garkar decided to report what they had learned to the chieftain. Egajia, sensing that something dangerous might occur soon, decided to visit the site of the killing again, and attempt a divination spell to reach Daka Fal. Chieftain Angarr, after listening to the report with a grim countenance, decided there might be a danger that one of the thralls could be communicating with outsiders, and planning something. He raised the fyrd, increased patrols along the boundaries of the tula. Thinking that the thralls might be planning an uprising, Garkar decided to have them all moved to the chieftain's stead, and placed under careful guard. Egajia, meanwhile, had successfully contacted her god, and asked him to show her the face of Aldis's murderer. She received a vision of a man walking through a forest, holding a torch. She had never seen or met this man before, but he wore the battered armor of a Lunar infantry officer. She also saw that he marched at the head of several dozen other well-armed men. Egajia assumed that this was the mysterious group whose prints they had seen at the edge of the woods, and that they might be headed for the tula. Still naked and covered with ash, she ran off barefoot through the snow to tell the others. When she reunited with the party, they saw that farms were burning on the northern end of the clan's land. Knowing that the chieftain was already riding with his weaponthanes to deal with any raid, they decided to head for the thrall stockade. They suspected that the intruders, apparently Lunar soldiers, might try to meet with the mysterious cowled figure they had learned about at the stockade. If this were true, then an ambush could be staged. Erindros organized a group of militia to hide in the thralls' huts, and wait with bows drawn. Garkar and Egajia waited by the palisade gate, planning to close it after the soldiers entered. The Lunars did in fact come, bearing a bundle containing swords, spears and axes. Egajia saw the officer from her vision leading a handful of men into the hut which belonged to Sostra's uncle. She then closed the gate behind them, and cast Glue to shut it. A fierce battle ensued. Egajia was nearly burned alive by a fire elemental, and the others narrowly avoided being struck with Lunar madness. But with the help of the fyrd's bows and javelins, and Egajia's Sleep spells, they took all the Lunar soldiers alive. The chieftain fought and killed the other raiders, who had been sent to burn steads as a distraction. The raiding party was discovered to be made up of Lunar garrison survivors, who had been hiding in the hills since the loss of Fort Enstala. Their commanding officer was a man named Vasilides, from Tarsh. He was executed by Aldis's father. The next morning, it was found that Sostra's uncle, a thrall named Gontar who was once of the Dundealos Tribe, had been sneaking out to meet with Vasilides, and was planning an uprising. Aldis had discovered him meeting the Lunars at night, and Vasilides killed the boy with his bow before he could escape. Gontar then tried to make the murder look like part of a failed cattle raid. He came forward to the chieftain to proclaim his guilt, and implicated his sons and a few other followers in his conspiracy. But he claimed that most of the other thralls did not know of his plans, and asked for the people's mercy in judging them. The chieftain called another moot to discuss the issue. Most of the clan folk were enraged, and ready to take extreme measures to punish the conspirators. Egajia successfully calmed the crowd, and reminded them that most of the thralls were likely innocent. Gontar clearly was not, but killing him and his family would still technically be kinstrife. She proposed exiling Gontar and the others to Prax, with little more than water and some supplies. The chieftain was swayed by her words, and assented. Egajia then spoke to the remaining thralls, saying that it wasn't impossible for them to be accepted as future members of the clan, but they would need to work hard at winning everyone's trust, and leave their past behind them. Taking her implied meaning, they all publicly renounced the Red Goddess and the Lunar Way. The chieftain later chose to adopt the Enstalos thralls into the clan as cottars. The clan's ancestors were satisfied by this, and stayed quiet in their barrow mounds afterwards. Next time, Storm Season 1625, and maybe Sacred Time!
  9. 1 point
    Storm Season Postscript There was one important detail I forgot to mention in my last entry. Actually, we forgot to address it in actual gameplay too, so we had to do a flashback of sorts. One of the main reasons Erindros proposed the joint raid on the Sambari clan was to liberate thralls, and then offer them a place in the clan as cottars. Even with the former Enstalos cottars bolstering the population, the Bardori are still at just over half their former numbers before 1618. The party was able to liberate just over 100 thralls in the big raid, they were mainly composed of 3 distinct groups. Sartarites - These were the biggest group, made up of former outlaws and indentures who had fallen into debt. Most of them agreed to join the Bardori clan, and Erindros was able to convince the chieftain this would be a good idea. Praxians - Mostly Impala and Bison Riders. Egajia attempted to convince them they would be welcome in the clan, but I gave her a pretty hefty penalty for her roll, due to the Praxian distrust of the settled lifestyle. All of the Praxians decided to take their chances on the plains, and attempt to find their former clans. Egajia generously gave the group a portion of her loot, to help them purchase new mounts. For this I gave her a free 1% bump in reputation. ??? - The third group were mysterious to the PC's, and no one could figure out where they came from. They spoke a strange dialect of Heortling, and didn't have any identifying marks or tattoos. One of them came forward to explain that his people were purchased by the Rastorlings from the Sun Dome Temple to the west. They called themselves "Ergeshi," and claimed to worship their own gods and ancestor spirits, although none of their past owners had allowed them to worship these. Their spokesman claimed that they had kin in the Holy Country, but that they would not be welcome there, having been isolated from them for generations. Egajia was personally offended that their worship rights had been denied to them, and insisted on offering them a place with the Bardori. The Clan Ring debated whether it was a good idea to let them stay or not, as they were "weird and unsettling," but the issue was allowed to lapse, and they hung around, out of sight and out of mind. Sea Season 1626 - Planning an Expedition Here were the local and major events that occurred in Sea Season - Kallyr Starbrow failed in her Short Lightbringer's Quest, with serious consequences for all of Sartar. Chaos attacks were reputed to be on the rise, and the Prince's position as leader of the kingdom became much more tenuous. The Bardori had cattle and sheep stolen by their immediate neighbors in the Balkoth Tribe, the Wozer clan. Argrath White Bull has been building a new army in Pavis, and gathering more Praxian warriors to his cause. He is rumored to be planning an attack on the Lunar Empire, or their allies. Would-be heroes from many clans have gone to explore the ruins of Fort Enstala, but none have returned. We discussed what the PC's next course of action would be. Erindros expressed interest in planning a trade expedition, either to Pavis or the Holy Country. Egajia felt ready to attempt her shaman initiation, but was willing to wait until other business took them back into Prax. Garkar was on board with a trade mission. Between Nochet and Pavis, the group decided that going east would be a better idea. Egajia could visit her mentor, and the clan could reestablish old trading links with the their distant kin in Pavis, and among the Pol-Joni. They did some calculations, and decided it would be prudent to ask the clan for a loan for purchasing mules, trade goods, and other equipment. They met with the chieftain and the Inner Ring, and made their case. The Issaries representative on the Ring, Stolf Argin's Son, was the head of a Bardori bloodline which had long controlled the clan's trading interests. His family considered Erindros and close kin to be rivals, and the feeling was mutual. Stolf argued that an expedition to Pavis would be reckless and dangerous, and that the clan should instead work to reestablish regular caravans in Sartar, and expand their influence in Swenstown. Egajia is generally the party spokesperson in these situations (which is funny because she only speaks a little Heortling), and she tried to rouse the Inner Ring's excitement by pitching the journey as an adventure that would be worthy of a clan of heroes. Once again, she fumbled on her roll. Her player explained this by inadvertently putting emphasis on the dangerous aspects of the journey - "Only a clan of true heroes could face the hordes of broos, screaming nomad warriors, cannibals, whirlvishes, dust storms, etc!!!" The chieftain and the Ring refused to give them a single clack. They would have to fund their expedition themselves. They tried to think of a way to quickly get some disposable income. Raiding was out of the question, as most of the clan was involved in sowing the crops. Garkar pointed out that Fort Enstala was rumored to still have piles of silver hidden away somewhere. The party agreed to check out the ruins. Before they did so, another exile arrived in town from Prax. He Who Spits at Chaos Our newest PC, hereafter known as HWSAC or He Who Spits, rode into town and introduced himself to the chieftain. He was boisterously welcomed and offered mead. HWSAC is a follower of Storm Bull, who had spent his exile in Prax riding with a mixed band of Sartarites, Pol-Joni, and Praxians, all Storm Bull cultists. He returned to his kin upon learning of their resettlement. He also harbored ambitions to build a shrine in honor to his god, which would double as a beer hall. He immediately pitched his idea to the chieftain, who responded with hesitancy. Being strapped for cash, and hearing of his other kinfolk going raiding in a potentially Chaos-infested ruin, he asked to join them. They welcomed him along, thinking that his skills could be useful. Fort Enstala The fort was the capitol of the Enstalos Tribe from 1618 to it's recent destruction in 1625, after the Dragonrise. The chieftain, Angarr Broad-Back, was present when the fort was attacked and razed. He met with the PC's before they set off to describe it's layout. The fort itself consisted of a stone tower, with a surrounding village and temple, all encircled by a wooden palisade. He mentioned that Blackmane had allowed the Lunar garrison to evacuate their women, children, and elderly before the attack, but some had insisted on staying. The outer wall was easily breached, but the garrison held out in the tower for days. In the end, someone had lit a fire which consumed part of the structure. The remaining soldiers either fled, or burned to death. None of Blackmane's warriors were able to breach the Temple of the Seven Mothers. It was apparently guarded by a powerful spirit or demon, in addition to more warriors, and so they left it alone. With this information in mind, the party set off. The fort was located in the foothills of the Stormwalk Mountains, and technically lay within Togarth lands. This was a complication, as that clan might decide that any loot within the ruins might belonged rightfully to them (even though they had so far failed to take it). At Angarr's suggestion, the PC's decided they would initially go to the fort in secret, but then offer a portion of any treasure they found to the Togarth chieftain out of respect. They traveled north for a day, through the foothills, and arrived without incident. SEE AWFUL MAP ABOVE - Entering the ruins was simple enough, as the walls had been breached and the main gates destroyed. The former village was in shambles, with most of the longhouses partially burnt down, and overgrown with vines. Nothing of major interest was discovered. The party continued to the fortified tower. Here they found many corpses in various states of decay. Most were in a charred pile near the base. Other bodies were found that were more fresh, appearing to be slain Togarth adventurers. Most curious of all were several dusty skeletons, wearing antique hoplite armor. Erindros recalled various painted urns he had seen depicting Dara Happan soldiers from the First Age, which these seemed to resemble. Before investigating the tower, Egajia used Second Sight to see if she could locate any ghosts or spirits. She was not disappointed. She witnessed dozens of ghosts arrayed around the tower, some of them resembling Sartarite warriors, and others Lunar soldiers. They were locked in combat, and ignored Egajia completely. They appeared to be caught in a loop, reliving their final moments in the battle to capture the tower. The PC's decided they needed to learn more before they could help lay any of these spirits to rest. Within the tower itself, they found more of the odd armored skeletons slumped against the wall. Unlike the ones outside, these were the moving variety, and they attacked. HWSAC proved his combat prowess here, using Berserker and smashing skeletal limbs and heads with his maul. It didn't actually take very long to wipe them out, and Egajia had to use a Sleep spell to put him out of commission, before he turned on his companions. The party left their new Storm Bull friend asleep outside, and continued to explore the tower. Egajia used Detect Enemies to see if any other threats were inside. She felt a malevolent presence on the second floor, and so everyone attempted a stealthy approach going up. Unfortunately, they all had to climb a creaking wooden ladder going up, and everyone failed their roll. The second floor was partially collapsed, and a man watched them from the darkness. He was dressed like a local, either a hunter or else a bandit. Yet he also wore a Lunar officer's plumed helmet and cloak, and had a wild, haggard appearance. He demanded they help defend the tower from "the accursed rebels," and then began asking what regiment they were with. Egajia immediately suspected possession by a ghost or spirit. She used Second Sight to confirm this, and tried casting her Free Ghost spell to remove the possessor. The spell worked, and the man fell unconscious. Soon after another man, who looked to be in even worse shape than the last, called down to the party from the top of the tower. He introduced himself as Bermakt, and claimed to be a hunter who was passing through the area with his companions. One of these was a woman named Yandissa, who was badly wounded at the top of the tower. The other was named Harstar, who was the man possessed by the spirit. Bermakt was otherwise very vague about which clan they came from, or why they were in the ruins in the first place They had been camped near the tower, when they were attacked by the armored skeletons and chased in. Soon after, Harstar began acting strange, and attacked the other two. They managed to climb up to the roof, where they had lain for an entire day. The party offered to heal them and give them supplies. Bermakt warned them that they had seen the skeletons come out of the Seven Mothers Temple, and that a voice had told them to leave when they tried to enter. The PC's did a little more exploring in the tower, and then moved on to the temple. It was a rectangular structure, built of marble. The outer walls were decorated with scenes of the Red Goddess's victories, and a large red globe protruded from the top of the temple. The first room contained a series of small shrines with votive images, devoted to many different Lunar deities. The party was not able to admire them long, as He Who Spits began smashing and defacing them with his maul. Immediately after that, a horrible creature materialized out of thin air. Eight feet tall, four-armed, fanged, and with skin coated in black slime, it introduced itself as the temple's guardian, a demon of the underworld who served the Red Goddess. HWSAC's Chaos sense was tingling, and without any hesitation called on Storm Bull to fill him again with the holy rage. The others stood back and cast magic while the berserker went after the demon. It drove it's claws into his stomach, and raked his arms, but then He Who Spits aimed for the head, and rolled a critical. Overcoming the demon's (very high) armor, he crushed it's head like a rotting pumpkin. The demon, now headless, turned, walked into the altar room, and disappeared. HWSAC gave chase, but it had apparently discorporated. He then set about trying to bring down the temple by smashing it's supporting pillars. Egajia used Detect Enemies to see if the demon was still present. She found that it was, although it's presence seemed to be dispersed throughout the temple. The party was now in the main hall of worship, where there was an altar, and a silver plaque depicting the goddess. The hall was littered with the bodies Enstalos men, women, and children, in an advanced state of decay. Something had brutally killed the people who had fled to the temple for safety. Each adjoining chamber was a smaller shrine to each of the Seven Mothers. Egajia searched each one, using Second Sight. She eventually found the demon in incorporeal form, hiding within the altar to Queen Deezola. She bested it in spirit combat, but even this would not drive it away completely, as it continued to flee to the other shrines. The party decided they needed to loot the place before the demon could reconstitute itself. HWSAC eventually came out of his rage before the building came down. The party went through each room, some of which were trapped with Safe spells. In the dormitories they found an old man, and a young girl dressed as Teelo Norri. The man turned out to be a wraith, mad with grief and rage. Egajia defeated it, and trapped it within a charm she had kept as a family heirloom. The girl was a ghost, but not hostile. She told the party that she had been hiding with her parents in the temple during the attack. The junior priest had called the temple guardian to fight off the Dundealos raiders, but then lost control of it. It turned on everyone inside, killing all her kinfolk. She did not seem to be aware that she had died. Egajia again used the Free Ghost spell to give her rest. The vaults on the upper floor of the temple held silver, trinkets, and valuables including silk and rare books. The PC's took as much as they could carry, and made ready to leave. They noticed as they were prying off the silver plaque, that there was a passageway underneath the altar. Egajia crept down it and used various Detect spells to see if anything dangerous was there. A tunnel ran beneath the temple, into what appeared to be a large barrow. She sensed many beings ahead of her that sounded like the skeletons from before. She raced back up, and tried to block the entryway. Erindros realized that the large globe that hung above them, made of interlocking bronze plates, was suspended with ropes and wedges. He and Garkar cut the ropes, and knocked the globe free (after everyone cleared the area). It fell onto the altar, crushing it, and fully blocked the tunnel entrance. The heroes then ran for it, dragging their many spoils behind them. They determined to come back at some point, and permanently exorcise the place of it's remaining ghosts, and demon(s?). But for now they had what they needed. Behind the Scenes I spent a lot of time planning this adventure, since it was our first dungeon experience. There were a lot of things the players ignored or avoided because they had burned through their resources fairly quickly. These include- The 3-Headed Dragonsnail from the map - I included it just to give the Storm Bull player something to use his abilities on, but he used his spells really quickly on other (non-Chaotic) things, and it didn't seem fair to hit everyone with such a tough monster after that, for no story-related reason. The Priestess' quarters - The former priestess of the temple was the one who bound the demon to serve as a guardian, and she knew of various ways to control it, mostly based on impersonating the Red Goddess. Had the PC's been unable to defeat it, they could have tried some more theatrical solutions. Honestly the demon was pretty tough, he had 15 armor and 15 hp! I just didn't count on that critical hit, and he almost rolled maximum damage to the head. That's the way it goes sometimes (sigh). The possessed guy also had a Seven Mothers "rosary" amulet that they could have used to repel the demon, had they examined it or tried using it. They took it off him, but forgot all about it afterwards. There was also a Trickster NPC that I wrote up who would have acted as a sort of unreliable guide, but we just didn't have enough time in the evening to fit him in. Anyway, next time the party sets off on their big trip to Pavis. Thanks for reading!
  10. 1 point
    I've had the recent fortune of having a few Keeping Conversations with new Keepers. They always want advice, and I am normally happy to provide some, so long as the advice can actually do some good. Most advice given in the world is wrong. Not in of itself, but given with poor timing and without considering someone's improvement needs. Human experience is too varied for advice to do what it is intended to do. It isn't about "what worked for me." It is about what will work for the other person. I've been mentoring colleagues as an educator for many years, and the way we address this problem is by giving less advice and instead asking more questions that can help someone find what they need to be successful. I do believe that there is some baseline advice that can be safely given to new Keepers. 1. MGF (Maximum Game Fun) 2. Work towards balanced involvement at the table. (Quieter people may want to stay quiet, and that's ok. But also, some people need to be invited to participate. You shut down a table hog by inviting others to be involved and using the phrase: "Great idea, I'll come back to you" for people who Bogart time.) 3. Communicate with players early and often. (topics that are off the table, are we at MGF? etc) I think that is pretty safe advice and gives new Keepers actionable things to practice. Anybody can practice asking questions around a table so all are involved. Each of those has their own specific skills that need to develop, but it doesn't hurt to have them as axioms to aspire towards. But what about advice that most Keepers wouldn't immediately think of? What is deeper advice that could make a big difference? I'm specifically thinking about scenario execution. This leads me to the title of this post. I also just want to give a disclaimer here that I am not a scenario designer, nor am I trying to unfairly criticize scenario designers. I don't have those skills, but at the same time, I know what I most frequently change about scenarios. I think there is a generalized fallacy that is assumed in role-playing games that I'll call the "perfect timing fallacy." The idea is that many encounters are designed such that player characters are expected to be in the right place at exactly the right time. This classically manifests itself in a variety of ways. Dungeons are all stocked full of monsters that, for some reason, stick to within the boundaries of their room despite their being open corridors between them. They are always awake. Investigators stumble upon a ritual exactly as it is being completed, or right before they can have an impact. The cop who saw something is on duty when the investigator's ask for them. Monsters in a room are always prepared to fight, or willing to fight. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of those examples, so long as it is fun for the participants. Scenario designers frequently do a great job of proposing "alternatives outside the norm." And sometimes "the norm" is what produces MGF. And that's great. Perfect timing is arguably critical from a narrative standpoint. It moves the narrative along when it needs to move. That isn't lost on me. Managing the ebb and flow of the story at a table is another critical skill for Keepers to develop. But what advantages can be gained by breaking with perfect timing? I think that it is also worth considering the potential benefits of imperfect timing for investigative horror role-playing (or role-playing in general). I think Jaws is a perfect example of using imperfect timing as a narrative tool. Brodie, Quint, and Hooper spend most of the movie too late to do something. And the shark is only barely on screen for the majority of the movie. Them always being late produces a frustration that drives the narrative because it just makes them work harder to engage the threat. Now, imperfect timing works until perfect timing is needed. The movie has a time cap and they gotta ramp it up, so the shark shows up. And when it does show up, the payoff for the audience is huge. They had to work to get the payoff, rather than the payoff just appearing immediately for all to see. So how does this translate as a tool for gaming? Here are some examples: 1) Curating existential dread. Fear of the unknown is one of the greatest and most primal human emotions. This is why horror movies that work are those that don't show the threat ever or until as late as possible in the narrative. In the Jaws example above, the dread is created by the heroes arriving after the shark attacks and seeing the grisly aftermath. And the shark promptly sinks back into the waves and out of actionable distance. It is often better for the Investigators to arrive late to something happening, especially if violence is involved. The pendulum can swing the other way too. Don't underestimate the power of investigators arriving early and then having no idea how to prevent or engage with an issue. Being early and being late is often far more frightening to people than being "right on time." This also has the advantage of really selling the idea that "shooting your gun" or "swinging your club" isn't going to fix this situation. Taking that off the table forces investigators to use other means to address a threat. As always, know your group and what they like. 2) Eliciting healthy struggle. If your players always arrive on time, there may not be as much brain work that they have to do to work out a situation. Speaking for myself, when I play, I love not knowing what is happening with a situation because it encourages me to turn the wheels in the head. This can be particularly useful when players arrive really early and the number of clues present in a location, right at that moment, is minimal. Or, they may stumble upon a total orgy of evidence but have no idea how it all relates to the current time at the current location! That in of itsekf can be frightening. Or, maybe they arrive early or late and what could have been a critical narrative location has now become a red herring. This last one is particularly useful when running games in which the players know the scenario and are struggling not to metagame it! 3) Keeping investigators alive in campaigns. If you play mostly one-offs at conventions, it is understood that the gloves are pretty much off for lethality. People who play CoC at Cons know that their characters aren't likely to live, even if they make a string of good decisions. There is also the "Sandy Petersen killed me" dream of a lot of gamers. But when you do campaign play, it is a completely different ball game. This is an area where communication is key. And while some players are perfectly ok with their character getting slaughtered or going insane at any turn, many players get attached to their characters. If we could criticize one aspect of early (1970s) scenario design, it is that a lot of early scenario work featured "gotcha" deaths that were nearly impossible to avoid if ran as written. That does not contribute to a positive table feel unless it is known in advance to expect that. People often ask me how I am able to Keep (capitalization intended, he he) characters alive when playing campaigns with a reputation for lethality. The answer to that question is that players often arrive early or late to situations that would just end the narrative unnecessarily prematurely. in thinking about MGF for my group, they are very attached to their characters. I think it is incumbent upon CoC Keepers to consider that scoffing at that attitude in players isn't the most productive way to get to MGF, even if you think that "frequent character death and insanity is how CoC should work." This is less about how a game works, and more about how your table works. If you play a game the way it "should work" and your players aren't into that, then you've failed. You can have your cake and eat it too in campaign play. It just takes considering having characters arriving early or late to encounters that are designed to be "right on time." These techniques are not new to horror role-playing. Many published works emphasize rigid or flexible timelines for events. The key is simply to consider the possibility that "right on time" may not be the best decision for maintaining a slow descent into madness. I'm prepared to venture that going extended periods being alive and sane is far more frightening than just dying and going insane instantaneously. Your game will vary, of course. There is a sprawling continuum of what different people find fun. The key is to consider: How can you avoid being trapped by perfect timing as a Keeper?
  11. 1 point
    No statistic has been as ill defined from the very beginning of role playing as the Charisma stat. I think this is true for most games. In some ways I imagine it derived from "leadership" scores that many units or generals have in table top war games. I do not know this for sure of course, but I surmise this was the case. No one seemed to use it correctly and at least early on among the games I played it lacked real emphasis in design. When I began playing Runequest and found that the role playing stat had been replaced with an appearance stat and now I could role play however I wanted, I was quite pleased. It held a great deal of appeal to me. To say that many years later when I noted CHA creeping into d100 games, I was a bit baffled.Why was this happening? Why were designers making this choice for a stat no one cared about before anyway. Was it the sudden use in d20 games, which revived CHA as a meaningful stat? Despite my confusion, I was forced to reconsider some kind of stat that encompassed an element of personality and decided that personality was just what I was looking for. In Q21, PER / Personality is an important stat. It is a measure of force of personality and presence of the character. How the character chooses to use this depends on what skills that they choose.Those skills are listed under Communication skills. But what about appearance? On the one hand no one can help the face they are born with and we have to make the most of it. Often a strong personality overcomes societal preferences, but is there something useful in having an actual appearance stat? I do not want to put in a stat to just have one and I want to not be on the fence about it.Right now Q21 does not have any appearance stat and I am not inclined to add it in, even though I have a great deal of nostalgia for it.
  12. 1 point
    [h=3][/h] The short answer; "Open" vs "Class" The Long Answer (explained); As Newt Newport mentions in his introduction to OpenQuest's rule set, the "Open" in OpenQuest refers to the ability to create fantasy settings and characters in a completely unrestricted manner. This is in distinct difference to Mr. Leary's approach to the genre with "Classic Fantasy", a Chaosium monogram. Classic Fantasy attempts to model Dungeons & Dragons directly to the Basic Role Playing D100 system. Both authors accomplish their goals well and demonstrate how well Basic Role Playing (BRP) responds to "Homebrew" creation and game play. Leary hews closely to the Dungeons & Dragons cannon by first identifying the types of characters players are able to play. A characters "Class" is all enveloping in the world of Gygax,its game function mainly concerned with resolving the characters combat interactions and whether or not the character survived the encounter. Each class has the requisite limitations which define these capabilities as compared to those of other classes. A players choice of race also carries the same net of limitations which further narrow the scope of capabilities, and therefore define the player character. Newport's fantasy mash up, on the other hand, begins character creation with a brainstorming session, requesting each player to come up with a character concept. As the author explains; "A character concept is a one sentence summing up of what the character is all about." The rule set continues on as a guideline in how to translate the character concept into your fleshed out character sheet. I love this type of game experience myself where the initial player character, while not all that powerful yet, is still a product of my imagination. I was quickly able to come up with intriguing character concepts off the one sentence rule. It started to become a game of interest and brevity; Disturbed Wizard, Searching Sailor, Cashiered Ranger, Disgraced Warrior, Hunted Magician, Retired Gladiator, Etc... If you are manic about gaming all the best aspects of fantasy found in literature, or being open to new inspiration you can do this well with OpenQuest But if you are looking to go Gygaxian, you should go with Classic Fantasy because, well, Leary has already gone through the trouble of converting the standard classes, races, and spells. A lot of hard work, I assure you. Unlike Dungeons & Dragons retro-clones, launching a D&D campaign with BRP's Classic Fantasy does allow much more in personal customization of your character class, mostly do to the use of a skills list, and the players characters are more robust overall. Running some friends through TSR's B10 Night's Dark Terror proved Classic Fantasy characters can chop through goblins and minor undead well. Proper tactics assure swift death to surprised opponents. True to BRP form, once these tables are turned on players, swift death can ensue. All in all, Classic Fantasy will give you a great D&D game without the garbage mechanics of Old School, retro or otherwise. Those who do not like a d100 system should not even bother. And that is why I use OpenQuest. If you are looking for a great system for your own fantasy creations, classic or otherwise, OpenQuest gives you the tools to go right at it! It does put more weight on the Game Master. The GM will have to be invested in the brainstorming session during character creation with the players. Or the GM can offer pregenerated characters. Either way, it means more hands on time by the GM. For me, this takes the form of ripping off literary sources, as well as available game aids to create classic fantasy adventures.
  13. 1 point
    We have been trying to create the Perfect RPG for over forty years now. Through new ideas, changing needs and expectations, and a socio-technological boom that allows many of us to jump into that pursuit, game designers in corporate offices, home work places, and nerdy basements have been seeking that ONE system to rule them all (apologies. to Professor Tolkien). We have never found that system and likely never will, but that won't keep various people from trying. Including myself. People change and people want things their own way and to leave their own mark upon legacies. It isn't a betrayal and there isn't anything wrong with it. Admittedly some handle it better than others, but overall we feel threatened by change almost as a knee jerk or allergic reaction. There is nothing logical to our reaction, but there is a great deal of emotion. I think that is fine but it makes for grumpy customers from time to time..... Obviously I am speaking about the recent RQ6/RQNext revelations. Some folks are elated and some are angry and some are passive aggressive and I get it, I really do. It can be exasperating because to the player these are games and settings we are passionate about. Well us designers are passionate to. No one does this to get rich but if you are in some kind of business, you need to do smart things to make money. Business vs. Art. So stay positive. This too shall pass.
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