This site is an online accumulation of the Post Reports for my current ongoing D&D Campaign - for anyone who might be interested in reading them.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Meet 2, Adv 1, 11/19/16

The party was once again in a "bottle episode" being inside the mining camp. Something had happened here as the miners were no where to be seen and parts of it looked like it had been broken into and looted. But not by the K'Morat, that was obvious.

What there was though were lots of raw supplies to be gathered, but maybe too many. Not everything was going to be salvageable and time was ticking. The K'Morat were going to keep trying the defenses of the camp, looking for new ways to get in and get the group. Every 15-20 minutes was another mad attempt at the wall.

The third wagon with all the hay, lumber, and simple wheeled carts gives the kobolds a big advantage. It allows them to set multiple fires to the walls and not force them to use the main gate as their one point of entry. They are working on a battering ram and when the attack comes it will be with 80-100 of the K'Morat, with a dozen plus supporting atlatl fire to keep the party's head down.

Write up follows:

Negan and the helpful teamster were continuing their work at the main gate, Larry and Conall were heading back to the Foreman’s house to give the place a second look over, and Avilstein and Einar were heading to the back of the camp to find out how Korsdottr was doing as well as find out what happened to the 3rd teamster who was supposed to head off to the back to gather rocks to drop from the guard tower later.

Upon arrival the half-orc and the wizard noted that some of the rocks had been displaced but the teamster wasn’t loading the rocks, instead he was cowered in the corner and complaining that he heard noises from under the rubble. Terrified he’s hidden in the corner and waited for either some help to arrive (the group) or this all to go away (a bad dream). He was chastised by the two party members who went to investigate the rubble…and sure enough, there WAS the sounds of someone groaning underneath.

We shifted stones and dug around until we managed to unbury one of the guards, a human fighter and master slinger named Darius. We let us know that when the explosion happened he shoved the rest of the group ahead of him while he tried to dance backwards and out of the way. He had managed to make most of the distance but a few of the larger stones hemmed in and then he passed out from the rock dust and smaller rocks pummeling him to unconsciousness.

Once he was upright we castigated the teamster who was cowering here, reminding him that the K’Morat kobolds were not going to just let us go and we all had to help out and do our part. He was inspired by our words and anger to gather some rocks again and bring them to the front to help Negan out. On his way, Larry and Conall has emerged from the Foreman’s house and further yelled at the Teamster to move on as well as call out to Darius and the others.

It was here that Einar heard something from the North wall and taking a good look, was able to see a 4 count of K’Morat warriors had snuck up to the Slag Gate and were trying to force it open while perched on top the wall. The call to repel them was shouted out and the group sprung into action. Conall charged towards the other side of the compound while Darius took a few steps closer and let fly two sling bullets, striking one of the K’Morat in the head and hurling it off the wall while a second one broke a 2nd K’Morat’s arm and he too slipped off and fell to his death. Einar went running and Larry loaded his crossbow, shooting a third one off the wall.

The last one refused to leave and was trying real hard to lift the locking bar but was unable to get it open in time. Conall hit the wall of the Ore House and clambered up top, rolling to his feet and tried to run and intercept the last K’Morat. But Darius was even closer now and let more sling stones fly, knocking the K’Morat off and he fell – but NOT off the cliff! Instead he was on the other side of the wall. The distant K’Morat were yelling and cheering him to get up but he was stunned and hurting. Einar ran up to the top of the slag pile and started hurling rocks over the wall trying to knock the K’Morat free. Then Conall leapt to the slag pile and helped the Half-orc on knocking the K’Morat free.

Once it was over we regrouped, reminded the teamster to keep on gathering rocks, and went through the wagons. We made a list of bags and supplies on what we wanted to bring with us and between loading our packs we also made sure there was enough food and supplies (and oil!) ready for us to bring into the cave once they way was clear.

Larry stayed up top the guard tower watching the distant K’Morat (we were now over 50) many of which were around the bend in the path and were doing something with the cart that had the hay and lumber.

Then the K’Morat started atlatl-ing stones and spears at the top of the south wall, knocking the aqueduct apart, breaking the water trough and preventing any new water from running into the camp. The Cistern was full but the K’Morat wanted to prevent us from getting any new water. Why? What was the purpose?

We found out shortly when a 15 count of K’Morat with simple wheelbarrows, a hay bale loaded on top, and a shield of hammered wood protecting the running K’Morat from hot burning hay and flying arrows. And they were running the wall. Lots of them. And cheered on by the other K’Morat in the area. When we dared to stick our heads up we were shot at. It was here that the flasks of oil and crossbow shots were plied. The areas in front of the K’Morat was hit, sending a few of them careening over and dropping their barrows. But at least a dozen made the wall and dropped their burning hay at the base where they then turned and fled. We pot shotted them but our concern was now the burning fires on the other sides of the wall.

The palisade was 14’ tall, with 2’ of the logs set into a trough in the earth. They were roped together towards the bottom, towards the middle, and towards the top. The strength was in their combined unity. And if the ropes burned through, we would have to face the K’Morat sooner – and not through the main gate as Negan had prepared.

So we gathered water from the cistern and ran to the fires, tossing them through the slats and gaps, soaking the ropes and hopefully keeping the fires low. Avilstein, and the two teamsters were pivotal in the keeping the fires low at first. But there was something wrong; this seemed to be effective…but also a distraction. Larry remained at his perch and watched carefully.

That’s when we looked around and noted a 12 count of K’Morat warriors scaling around the southern cliffs and attempting to make the walls and over them. Negan, Einar, Darius, and Conall made their way to the Foreman’s house, clambered on top, and then Negan dared to stand up (shield blocked by his friends) and hurled one of the 2 gallon barrels of oil at the cliff wall in an attempt to knock the K’Morat free.

He failed. The barrel slipped and did not hit nearly where he expected, coming up short. 2 of them did fall to their deaths but the other 10 had no issues and continued to climb. Wearing tightly woven quilted armor and sporting a number of sharpened knives we knew these were going to be more difficult to fight. So we clambered off the building and ran to intercept them when they jumped down and tried to tackle Negan to the ground. The Half-ogre twisted and blocked and stomped and most of them were unable to get a grip, only two of them on his shield arm.

As the rest of them clambered over the wall, Darius was slinging like mad and Einar grew angry, the Half-orc swelling up with barbaric rage. Negan, Conall, Einar, and Darius fought the K’Morat hard for 4 solid minutes until they finally broke their morale. Three of them mad a mad dash towards the slag gate but two were torn apart with Einar giving terrible chase to the last one, his sword whistling wildly. He caught the kobold and finally ripped him apart.

From here Einar grew tired as his rage faded and we were being called by Avilstein that the fires were growing up and out of control. They needed help. The party scavenged around, getting two more cauldrons from the mess hall and adding their efforts in bringing the fires down and under some control. Negan stood in the lumber yard and through the wall called to Odin to create water, smothering one fire at a time.

Some of the fires were guttering low, others were growing huge. And a few were behind the walls of other buildings. Running into the latrine, Darius used a sledge hammer to bash at the back wall in order to get to the fire behind it. However it was a load bearing section of the wall and the roof of the latrine fell in on him, burying the slinging fighter once again.

It was now ten after six and the walls were slowly getting more burned. We needed to put it out as best we could, and time was ticking. It was at least another half hour before Korsdottr has the opening clear enough for us to crawl in. We needed to decide what to do now and soon while we still had the opportunity to make these sorts of decisions.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Meet 1, Adv 1, 11/12/16

There was the obligatory box text effect in the beginning because I didn't want to waste time with individual histories and wanted to get to rolling d20's asap. It worked. The action ramps up next week.

Write up follows:

You come from someplace else. Some of you were born to open hills and cool breezes, the stars were your stories and your history proud. Others were born with comforting stone and rock as your cradle and walls, warding you as you grew in the warmth of its halls. And still others were born within the walls of towns where the rich tapestry of many cultures were your canvas to draw upon. Wherever it is you came from, wherever it is you started your journey, it has led you throughout the years to the realization of one simple thing…Life is hard, opportunities are fleeting, and the world doesn’t care.

You started out trying to do things the way that was expected of you. You may have been apprenticed to a local craftsman and tried to toe the line. Maybe you had a minor stake in the family business but were not slated to run it one day. Perhaps you were too gangly or large to blend in properly; your questionable lineage might have held you back. Or maybe you just didn’t fit in.

As the stars above called to you, you always felt you were destined for something else, something more. When the Reetersbeard Caravans would come to town you would listen to the strange dialects of people who had travelled for two months and never saw the same souls twice. Clad in velvets and furs, festooned with jewelry, never worrying where their next meal would come from or what it would cost; they imprinted on you a desire to not only see more than the home and town you’ve lived in, but to reach further and higher than anyone in your family or circle of acquaintances ever did before.

So you repurposed yourself. You hung around the guild halls and did odd jobs for bits and commons. You made yourself available to the journeymen who were on the lookout for raw talent and kept your pride private and small. You sweated with each blow, strained with each study, ached after hours of meditation. The days passed and then weeks and months. When the going got tough, you were enticed by well-meaning family and friends to “give it all up” and “come home and live the normal life”. That only spurred you on to not give in.

Every available coin went either to feed you or pay for your training. There was nothing left over for frivolities. But the day came where you were either accepted, ordained, or given your own journeyman card and set off to make a fortune and name for yourself.

What a fucking farce.

Being a member of the League of Odin’s Warriors did not make you rich. Stepping free from your master after years of study with the ability to warp the fabric of reality did not open doors of opportunity. After your ordination ceremony you found yourself performing miracles for the faithful like a dancing bear but no closer to having a fulfilled life. You had changed for the better, but it was not enough.

Through back alley bars and mead halls, across open tents at the bazaars and trading posts, spoken on line at the impressers near the labor queues for mining work – you had heard, like others before, of Bork Keep and the Terror Dungeon. Never did you speak to anyone who was ever there but always someone who knew someone who had gone in and come out again richer than Midas. The talk of daring Mylfys and her struggles against the Grue, the Ballad of Torridson and the Silver Four, the dark tale of Ulfric the lone survivor of Brightblade and Company. If ever anyone was to make a name for himself and lift themselves out of the doldrums of mediocrity, it would be to plumb the silvery depths of the Terror Dungeon.

But the amulets weren’t cheap, and too many knockoffs were sold on the docks of Ashak for a “great price” only to find they were worthless rock when the wearer tried to pass through the great stone archway.  The talk was an amulet would cost upwards of 400 nobles, the amount of money a fair craftsman earns in a given year; assuming he didn’t eat. And that was the rub of it, in order for the opportunity to make money; you needed a kingly sum to begin with.

So maybe your morals grew shadowy, your need and your future took central stage to your desires. You could muck stalls as unskilled labor for 2 commons a day or join a K’Morat hunting troupe for three squares and a full share of the bounty. Private guard for wealthy dwarven businessmen and their wives paid better than planning lumber at the mills. The purse for fighting murderers and rapists in the pits were better salary than shepherding flock along the trails of the Passian Hills.

This allowed you to outfit yourself in better gear and weaponry, to make a local name for yourself, give you an opportunity to do something more than what you’ve been capable so far. The name for you and others like you who sell their services sometimes no questions asked was once derided in your na├»ve youth, but now it’s who you are. Mercenary. Sword and Spell for Hire. Adventurer. Daredevil. Opportunist.

You have travelled from where you came from; joining up with others like yourself, hoping that their good luck and fortune, their opportunities will enrich you and your chances. In ones and twos, the tentative tendrils of grudging respect have tightened to something akin to camaraderie. And as the circle of trust has expanded, pulling in other like-minded folk from all walks of life, so too have to job opportunities.

West of Thak, in the low mountains of the Sorton Peaks, is some of the most active mining operations outside of Ironcamp. Scores of small operations plumb the stony hearts of the mountains for iron ore to send back to hungry forges. But so far from safety and civilization, they are more like armed camps with wooden palisades and keen eyes with flatbows and spears. Profit margins are tight and they only get paid if they are mining. So they have goods come in every two weeks supplied by wagon by whatever mercantile operation wants their product.

It is here that mercenaries are in demand. The pay is rich: 8 nobles total for two days work, with the promise of a warm bunk and a hot meal upon arrival at the mining camp. Guarding three wagons with 5 or 6 teamsters and merchant representatives was good work and the companies were happier to hire larger groups that already had a history of working together.

It’s been a good 5 weeks. 11 trips out and 11 trips back have allowed you to finish equipping yourself. Glittering swords, fine clothes, doughty shields. It’s enough to not only kit out your gear, but to also make you more attractive for hire down the road. The hope is to do this here for the rest of the spring and summer and then find similar employment in Sorton where a letter of recommendation from the Darbeard Company (who you are currently working for) for your two seasons work will go a long way towards getting you hooked up with one of the major operations of the Jarlborinn Thanedom.

This latest trip, this time to Fingelt’s mine, was put together like any other, no issue no foul. But when it came time to leave Nuggle Darbeard, the company’s rep and cousin of the Darbeard Company boss, was in a foul mood. His second, Sigurd Eindaud, had lost a sizeable stake in betting at the fighting pits and his marker was putting pressure on him to pay up. Nuggle had to promise the bookmaker that Sigurd would repay his losses and gave Darbeard scrip to cover the shortfall for now.

Since this morning’s fiasco, the caravan did not leave until after 9, almost 2 hours later, and the entire group had had the opportunity to listen to Nuggle tear Sigurd a new ass in alternating Common and Dwarven as the three wagons wound their way through the mountain roads. For his part Sigurd has been uncharacteristically argumentative with Nuggle, getting close to screaming at the dwarven merchant about how he’s tired of getting robbed by the Darbeard’s for stealing every merchant deal he sets up.

It’s been embarrassing to say the least.

The guards and teamsters have done their best to ignore the long winded screaming matching between their employers, but it’s obvious from listening that Sigurd’s been in this situation before and recently. Nuggle has flat out called Sigurd a “dangerous liability” for paying off one debt collector by borrowing from some other shady practice. Which Sigurd denied and now the conversation has degenerated to claims of theft and smuggling.

At just after 4, the caravan has come within sight of Fingelt’s Mine. Situated near the top of a rise along one of the many stony outcroppings of the Sorton Peaks, it is a wide plateau of stone that is partially fenced in by a 14’ wooden palisade. Two squat guard towers are near the ponderous gate that is currently closed. The palisade goes around the buildings within and end up butted against the rock wall that rises another 140’ or so at a steep angle. A natural runoff of water is collected above the Mine where it is run through a number of aqueducts and troughs to disappear within the minecamp.

The call is given but no one answers. Nuggle is grumbling and Sigurd is furiously quiet while looking about the desolate landscape. The teamsters dismount and our guards all emerge stretching while the call to open is given again, and again with no answer. The main teamster motions two of the party to join her as she goes to the gate, peers through the wooden slats, and then motions the teams to back the donkeys and carts up. Once room is cleared it takes 4 to open the gates and the call to “hello” is given again. You can see there are a number of simple buildings inside: stables, mess hall, lumber yard, dry goods, latrines, miner’s barracks, foreman’s house, and towards the back the ore house and smithy.

There are some echoing noises from the back of the camp where a second palisade has been set up to protect the entrance of the mine itself. It looks like that gate is open. Korsdottr, the head teamster informs Nuggle that Fingelt and his crew are most likely in the mine itself. The dwarven rep agrees and motions for half the guards to go with Korsdottr to call Fingelt out while he arranges to get the wagons inside. She picks out 6 or 7 of the group, leaving Larry the crossbow wielding Half-elven Sorceror Thief, Conall the Human Monastic from the Order of Sif, The Half-orc Einer druidic follower of Frey and barbaric Warrior of the Firvinr, Negan the indomitable Half-ogre champion Fighter and Templar to Odin, Avulstein the Human Wizard follower of Hel and practitioner of the Necromantic arts, Nuggle, Sigurd, and the last three teamsters at the entrance.

For all the talk, there is something still wrong that is prickling at the party’s spine. If Fingelt and his miners are in the mine, why did they leave no one at either tower? And if so, why did they not bar the main gate. Also, it’s about 4 or so, someone should be preparing a meal at the mess hall but there is no smoke from the chimney and no sound coming from within except for some deep echoes from the mine and the gurgling slosh of the water as it runs across the wall troughs and into the mining camp’s cistern.

A brief exchange with the other has the party on the same wavelength and weapons are drawn, flatbows cocked, and shields taken off the wagons and handed out. Nuggle asks what the problem is and your group gives the dwarf your concern. He thinks swiftly and agrees. The party is then asked to help guide some of the wagons in, keeping their eye out for any threat which may be inside the wall. He asks Negan and Einar to stay close by out here.

As the first wagon is guided in by Avilstein and the second is making its way through the great gates with one of the teamsters and Larry and Conall guiding it, there is a massive explosion coming from the back of the camp and the sound of falling rock. Everyone turns to look, seeing a small section of the rockface above the mine slide away and crash down, covering the mine entrance and possibly killing or wounding the other half of the caravan guard.

And while this has everyone’s attention, Nuggle pitches forward with a scream, two short spears in his back. The dwarf rep is looking behind him at Sigurd who is standing near a FUCKING warband of 18 K’Morat kobolds decked out in fetishes and wearing blue paint smeared on their scaly skin. He chokes out, “Why?” to which Sigurd, taking a bulging leather purse from the K’Morat leader with a nod of thanks, calls back, “Because you and your family were cheap fucks, Nuggle.” He points to the stunned party and open gate, “As promised,” he says to the K’Morat leader, “they’re all yours. Good eating.” He hoists himself onto the back of a mountain pony the K’Morat have brought for him and pats his bulging leather bag.

And in one voice the K’Morat shout their war cry to the heavens and charge the group with shaking spears and sharpened teeth. Three of them are mounted on war ponies and the others are running, spear shaking and some of them prepared with atlatls. Larry took a “Hail Frigga” shot at Sigurd but his bolt went wide and high. The two teamsters ran, leaving the wagons where they were without concern, only hoping to make it inside and find some shelter. We tried to convince them to stay but realized it was a waste of time.

In the face of so many K’Morat, Negan and Einer turn and run for the entrance, shouting for everyone to get inside. The donkeys were unwilling to move, stubbornly holding their ground regardless of the effort Conall or Larry were putting into getting them to enter. So Negan and Einar shouted “MOVE” and charged the back of the 2nd wagon – the combined mass of the Half-ogre and Half-orc slamming into the back to the wagon shoved the two donkeys forward and they ran into the courtyard of the camp.

Hurled spears began flying, striking everywhere and hitting Einar and Negan, one of them passing through a weak place in his scalemail armor and knocking the mighty half-ogre down with a critical blow! The charging K’Morat on horseback were much closer and Einar saw the bobbing point of the spear levelled at him along with the flashing hooves…and tumbled barely out of the way in time! The K’Morat warrior raced past, and Conall did the same, also rolling out of the way! This allowed the trio to funnel into the courtyard with horses and spears. Two of the teamsters were running across the ground looking for cover while a third stood with Avilstein, a truncheon in his hand and murder in his eyes.

Larry was clambering the ladder by the guard tower quickly while Conall threw himself at one of the doors, slamming it closed. Avilstein shouted out some arcanic words and centered it on the galloping kobolds…putting all three to sleep as well as two of the ponies!

Conall was struggling with the other door, Einar had the bracing bar to lock it closed and Larry was on the tower’s top calling out his own spell to distract about half the charging the K’Morat from entering the camp. Three were close. Flying spears flew about, hitting Larry who staggered back hit and hurt. Einar and Conall shoved hard together and shut the door, trapping the K’Morat on the other side for now. They scrambled to put the bracing bar in place while a few more spears were hurled before Larry came back down. We killed the three kobolds in cold blood, cut the tracings from the donkeys on the two carts we had, and Einar called on Frey to heal Negan from his mortal wound, helping the Half-ogre to his feet.

From outside the walls we could hear and glimpse the K’Morat have fallen to eating the two donkeys out there as well as Nuggle Darbeard. They have also torn the tarp off the last wagon and were looking over the lumber and hay that was there.

We regrouped and decided to brace the door with both wagons we had, making a “T” with the two wagons, than we proceeded to tear our own tarps off and see what we had. A few of us went back to the rear of Fingelt’s Camp and the mine to see the damage and find out if our companions were still alive and ok. According to Korsdottr, the Teamster leader inside, everyone was accounted for and seemed to be ok. There was a lot of rock and it was going to take some hours to dig free. They had lanterns, tools, and some water. She suggested the rest of the party watch out for K’Morat attacks, find the foreman’s house and see if there was a map of the mine in it, and raid the damned wagons for any supplies we were going to need as well as food and if the Darbeard’s ever find out or get pissed, “they can fucking damned well bill Sigurd for it!”

A few of us wandered to the buildings inside the camp finding little since the place was waiting for this caravan to resupply it. The Drygoods had some dregs of dry food, a few pieces of worn clothing, material for sacks, and a partial jar of rendered bear fat used as a lotion. The lumberyard was down to a couple 10’ 4x4’s and some other scrap sticks, and the stables had no donkeys in it but did have one of the frightened Teamsters. He was convinced to man up, get the hell out of the corner, and go fucking help. He was sent to the back of the mine camp to gather rocks and bring them up front to load the tower.

Negan and Larry and the one other teamster who had stood with us (now sporting a hurt leg) were going through the wagons filled with tons of foodstuff, supplies, tools, clothes, mining equipment, and mine track. We cannibalized the piles for some equipment to flesh out our stores and Negan began using rods, spikes, and rail sections to make even the most determined attempts at opening the gate prohibitively difficult. Under the main wagon was the caravan safe, an iron box built into the floor, locked. The key was most likely on Nuggle’s belt but there might be something in the mine we could use of possibly be forced to beat the safe open with a hammer. Maybe.

We had also found the Mess Hall had pots and pans, dishes, mugs, bowls, and ironware. The Ore House was mostly empty, some 400# of raw iron ore needed to be processed. Inside the Ore House was a closed off area called Shippable, but the door had been forced open and it looked like whatever had once been inside was gone. Taken. Finally a Einar and Avilstein had gone into the foreman’s house (which looked a little picked over) where they did find a map which they took off the wall, and a few personal belongings. The Half-orc had a hard time not ripping doors and drawers off, but he managed to find some paper, a vial of ink, and a ring with three keys.

It was here that the K’Morat tried to assault the main gate. Five of them ran forward with coils of rope, spurred on by others who were keeping the party down with hurled spears. The kobolds climbed the door where Larry and Negan were waiting with Crossbow, spell, and a 40# length of mine cart track. Bludgeoning and beating the kobolds who managed to climb up top, two of them got a chance to attach ropes but were badly crippled. Even the one that tried to grapple the half-ogre was overmatched and the kobold attack was easily rebuffed. We took their ropes and watched as the K’Morat continued to do something with the caravan wagon that they had moved away from the walls. And through it all, the K’Morat warleader, feathered and covered in woad, continued to watch us with critical eyes.

The combat drew everyone back to the front where we tried one of the keys in the wagon lock box…and eureka. The mine’s payroll (couple of hundred crowns and nobles), as well as 4 bottles of dwarven brandy, a 5# bag of candied meats, and a 20+ count of healing draughts, potions, and similar items. We drank them down now for those of us who needed it, and then parted out what was remaining.

Once everyone had we talked about our next plans. Conall and Larry went to the main barracks to check for the last teamster, while the rest of us were going to centralize the items we wanted to bring from the wagon and bring it towards the back of the mining camp.

The main barracks were dirty and looked like someone had rummaged through here. The last frightened teamster was hiding in here and was not very helpful or consolable. He was given a “make work” mission to go on when Larry caught him in the throat with his knife, dragged it across his neck, and helped the dying…dead man to the ground. The Monk said nothing and Larry wiped his knife clean. The two of them nodded to one another and left the barracks.

The question was now where was the other Teamster? He had been sent back to the rear of the camp and no one had seen him for over 45 minutes.

It was 10 after 5 and we had some hour and half or so of daylight left. The number of K’Morat we estimate to be now over 40 with more coming in dribs and drabs.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Background - 11/5/16

For this next campaign, I've moved the focus further north on my map. We are inland, sort of a combination barbaric area with dwarven kingdoms along with a host of marauding orcs just outside the fringe.

I've also told the group that this was not a very civilized area, so the charter and sponsored adventuring groups were not going to be case. Think mercenaries and you have it. So I made everyone roll up TWO characters.

First I did 4d6, drop the lowest, but rolled in order. Then the 2nd character was straight 3d6 but they could apply the scores where ever they wanted. As usual, there was a 2 points dropped for 1 point add if they wanted (nothing could be dropped below 9).

We have (everyone is either 1st level or if dual classed 1st/1st):

Grey Elven Fighter/Wizard, Distance spells, shortbow and leather armor, 5 hps, AC 13
Human Monk, Quarter staff and padded, 14 hps, AC 14
Half-orc Druid to Frey/Barbarian, Broadsword and padded, 8 hps, AC 13
Half-ogre Fighter/Cleric to Odin, Greatsword and scalemail, 21 hps, AC 15
Half-ogre Barbarian, Spears and padded, 18 hps, AC 13
Human Wizard, Necromancy and daggers, 3 hps, AC 11
Hill Dwarf Thief/Cleric to Sif, Crossbow and leather, 6 hps, AC 14
Hill Dwarf Fighter/Wizard, fire based, broadsword and ringmail, 7 hps, AC 16
Gnome Sorceror, Support and Wild magic, stick fighting, 4 hps, AC 11
Half-elf Thief/Sorceror, Personal augment spells, crossbow and studded leather, 4 hps, AC 14
Human Fighter, Slinger and ringmail, 4 hps, AC 19
Half-ogre Ranger to Tyr, Greatsword and scalemail, 20 hps, AC 15

During the campaign, they will each pick 1 character (bringing the party to 6), the other characters will be nearby but can't get into the action at this time. At some point they will have an opportunity to all group up and "swap out" to the other one if they want. Eventually we'll get to where we're going and they can then during the adventures, either concentrate on a main or go to their alternate. They CANNOT play them both at the same time.

We are back to the table this saturday. Fleshing out 12 characters, the maps, world, 1st adventure, and getting it all done in 2 weeks is a labor of love.

The background for the new campaign follows (and even a map of the area!):

The year is 190 of the 30th age as the races of dwarves, men, and elves measure time; and you are in the land known as Rand. Southern Rand specifically. The land is situated on the northern coast of the Borbuta Sea, and for the longest time was the home of four civilizations: the Ancient Mountain Dwarven Gorokian Empire to the north, the Hill Dwarven Jarlborinn Thanedom to the west, the Gnomish Nightwood Kingdom to the east, and lastly the Himaya of the Randari Orcs.

The Randari Orcs had made the mistake of going to war with the Jarlborinn and were soundly trounced, their Kaizar slain and all of his line killed with him. Without anyone of the First Orcs alive to lead the Randari, their empire collapsed and the height of orcish culture was cast into barbarism. This resulted in many of their cities being left fallow and their one time holdings and property were set free.

Their property being the human and Halfling slaves they once owned and had kept in bondage for generations. The Gorokian dwarves had no interest in supporting the now freed slaves and even less interest in “surface dweller” problems so allowed the freedmen and women to wander wherever, pitying them when their paths crossed.

The Jarlborinn and the Nightwood gnomes felt otherwise and made it their business to help the barbaric tribes to survive; bringing them some knowledge of hunting and tracking, the use of fire and smithing, music, art and oral history. The barbaric people grew proud, not only in their freedom but in their friends in the dwarves and gnomes and called themselves the Firvinr or “Friends of the People” as they referred to the dwarf and gnomes.

Time passed and as it was known to do, things changed and stayed the same. The land was filled slowly with more people. Trade made its way throughout the very open land, and the Randari orcs raided where they could but not too much where they would arouse the ire of the two dwarven kingdoms.

Almost 170 years ago, there was a migration of dwarves from far to the south. Making a long journey northward across hundreds of miles of open and unforgiving territory, the entire dwarven thane-clan of Reetersbeard had lifted themselves up from their ancestral home to escape what was portended to be the largest hatching and migration of dragons ever to be seen. They came north to the places their ancestors had left ages earlier to once more settle down and mine the deep earth they loved so much.

The Gorokian Dwarves did not want the 8,000 Reetersbeard dwarves to settle here, and they sure didn’t want the almost 10,000 followers of humans, elves, halflings, and other demi-humans that came along with them. The barbarian tribes of the Firvinr also saw these immigrants with their soft ways, odd magics, and written word as an unneeded burden that was better off somewhere else.

Tired from the long journey, and unwilling to force march past any more orcs, ogres, kobolds, hills, chasms, caves, or dangers, the Reetersbeard dwarves and their supporters arranged settling rites and trade deals with the Jarlborinn Dwarves who agreed to let the newcomers stay. Indenturing themselves to the Jarlborinn for 75 years, the newcomers to the land of Rand settled down and soon began filling in the empty spaces the Randari Orcish empire had left behind.

When the indenturing was over the Reetersbeard dwarves settled along the northern stretch of the Passian Hills and helped to promote trade between the many dissimilar people, tribes, and fiefs that were growing around Rand. Income grew, ideas were spread, and the people moved about, further enhancing the land and those that lived in it. The Reetersbeard trade caravan makes a trip around the entirety of Rand three times per year after the mud season and frost has ended. Its arrival is heralded as a boom time for any town, fort or city that it stops in. Getting your wares on the caravan is almost guaranteed to bring prosperity to your family or mercantile when it comes back around.

But it is difficult to get a space on the caravan and there is sometimes ugly talk that the decision process is not open and is often biased. There is never any proof to this but the stories do continue. So there are oftentimes lesser caravans that follow the trade routes, often coming just after the Reetersbeard Caravan has just come through; or merchants that visit the towns that are off the main trade route. It is those caravans, those merchants and traders who have the harder time.

Three times in the past the Reetersbeard Caravan was assaulted. Once by the Gorokian Dwarves who not only refused the Caravan entrance to trade but then tried to tax and take 10% of the tradegoods as payment. This caused a massive conflict that encompassed five days of escalating fighting as Hill and Mountain dwarves assaulted one another before 2,000 Reetersbeard dwarves arrived after a forced march from Ironcamp to support their merchant brethren but also lay waste and siege the entire surface city of Gorok. It took the High Thane himself to come out and publically apologize to the Reetersbeard dwarves and pay reparations to the merchant families to some unnamed total before the conflict was ended.

Since then, the Gorokian dwarves have become even more xenophobic and filled with dislike and hatred of the “newcomer dwarves” and their ungodly ways. To combat this, the Reetersbeard Caravan often spends the least amount of time in Gorok and some merchants will either raise their prices when trading here or short their availability on requested tradegoods.

The other two times the Caravan was assaulted by Randari Orcs whose raiding parties were beaten so badly for their efforts that the Randari have a saying amongst themselves (which has spread to others who tend to agree) that goes, “It’s safer to kiss a snake and fuck a wolf than to take a dwarf’s gold.”

The cities that make up Rand are not connected by any king or overreaching authority, there isn’t a duke or central figure that rules. The Gorokian Dwarves don’t care, the Jarlborinn Dwarves have no interest in ruling the humans, The Nightwood Gnomes don’t care beyond their forest edge. It is a bit of a free for all. Erylond is ruled by a self-appointed King while the leader of Tilani refers to their land and surrounding people as Empire. The Nightwood Gnomes have grown more insular and have dropped from the Reetersbeard Caravan. Visitors have been gently turned away and those who have gone in and come out talk about a Charismatic Theocrat who has taken sway of the gnomes and others who live there.

For the average person though, there is a lot of drudgery. Without a unified system of laws and land-wise network of vassals and baronies, most everyone finds themselves a laborer or serf, bound to whatever lord, warlord, or ruler governs their lives. Randari Orcs will assault small groups if found anywhere off the main roads. Even K’Morat kobolds have become more numerous in the recent decades, stealing sheep, goats, and anything else they could cart off and devour.

About 15 years ago, north of a stretch of the Erylond River, dwarven delvers looking to expand the foundation stones of Bork Keep unexpectedly broke through a capstone of rune glyphed rock and opened the area to some subterranean dungeon. Most attempts to enter the dungeon failed as those who tried were filled with the most all-consuming terror. It took some of Lord Bork’s runesmiths to craft a handful of pendants that allowed brave souls to dare and enter the dungeon.

Most of them never returned. The few who did came back with untold wealth and magic that had not been seen in ages. Which then spurred on others to try. Again, it required more amulets to be made which Lord Bork began selling, since most of them had been lost in the first delving and he was out of their value, effort, and time to have them made. And again, others have tried to enter to dungeon and only some emerged. Some with riches, others barely alive. All reported fantastic beasts below and rooms without end. As for the horrors within escaping and attacking the surface dwellers? That hasn’t happened and according to the best runesmiths, the magic of the Terror Dungeon prevents anyone born within its depth from exiting.

It’s became a veritable goldmine for the young and foolhardy to try their luck and hand at entering the Terror Dungeon. Many a disenfranchised young adult of all races pooltheir coins together for an opportunity to purchase a runecrafted pendant, strap on a sword or armor, and try their luck. Some only go a short distance in and consider themselves lucky to escape with a few baubles, other dare further and come out with enough to purchase hundreds of acres. And some don’t come out at all. It is known though that if you want to make your riches, you make your way to New Erylond and take a 2 day trip down river to Bork Keep and plumb the uncharted depths of the Terror Dungeon.

But for too many, this is a pipe dream. Right now the best option for employment is to guard one of the many caravans of traders or transporters who work the surface lands. The pay is decent but the dangers are real. K’Morat kobolds will attack you for food, Randari Orcs will raid for misplaced glory and plunder, Firvinr barbarians will attack for weapons and gold. And brigands will take advantage of anyone foolish enough to lower their guard or dare to travel off the roads.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Passing in the Dark

As the DM, one of the thankless jobs one has to to juggle the myriad of people who are at your table. Some like the minutia, some like hack and slash, others are quiet, others are loud, some revel in the chaos, others get frustrated when the rules are flaunted, and others just come for the stories.

But any keen DM will get a read from his table, and will know regardless of how much effort he puts into his world, that the players at the table just aren't...feeling it.

That's what's been happening at my table. I've noted it has been growing but it's uneven, the same players who I can tell didn't feel a particular day were very engaged the next, but a different player seemed bothered for his efforts instead. It was maddening since I didn't know who I had to watch out for on my side of the screen on a week by week basis.

Plus, I have two new people at the table - not new players, just people who haven't played in years and are now back to sit and roll d20's. So they aren't invested in the campaign although they do fit in the group.

And finally of the original party, I only have 2 members of the original group (Flimflam and Marcus) who have their own roots and long story arcs in the campaign to day (one is the leader of the adventuring group, knighted and soon to be member of the Baron's council; the other has his own tower and achieved the title of Wizard-Lord and truthfully, has other things he needs to devote his time to besides running around the countryside punching goblins in the face). So the new characters by the other people at the table just feel superfluous and maybe marginalized.

So, I am NOT a fan of abandoning a horse in midstream (I am an unabashed completist and loyalist and make no secret about it) but I sat with the group and flat out asked them...with all that I've seen, is there any chance that we might want to shelve this campaign and reroll at 1st?

It's been going on for 4 1/2 years (with a 22 week break for the house repair and a 13 week break for the birth of my son) with this campaign (9 years with this group or at least the core of it) and asking the group to restart was going to generate some lively discussion - how about 2 weeks worth and 3 hours in person? We talked and discussed with the end result being 4 to 2 (my vote doesn't count) to shelving this campaign and starting over...with the two being the players of Flimflam and Marcus.

But everyone was willing to defer to those two and they had the grace to talk about it and we all mutually decided to shelf the game for now and start over.

So that's what we've been doing, rolling up characters. I am making everyone roll up TWO characters: 1 of them 4d6 drop the lowest but the stats are rolled in order, the 2nd one 3d6 but assign the stats where you like. Then it's fleshing both of them out and the idea is that we are mercenaries, not an adventuring group (at least to start) and there will be many opportunities during the meetings to swap characters out and try out the "B" team guy and see which one you like.

So there you go, 2nd campaign has been shelved and we are rolling and finishing up the next party. I will post the background for that party in a few days and our first meeting is this Saturday.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Meet 124, Adv 7, 10/15/16

Not much to say for this week's meeting. Something's been going on with the undercurrent I've been picking up on that violates Rule # 1: Always Have Fun.

So on the next posting, we'll discuss what went down and how it all played out.

Write up follows:

The group stayed low in the tree line and waited, eventually feeling calmer and more at ease. Weapons were dropped and swapped, healing kits broken out, and Marcus took out his spell book to refresh the spells we spent earlier. While Steiner and Flimflam were attending to the group, Caidius wanted to have eyes on the goblins so started working his way up the hill to observe.

About halfway up the slope, he noted that some of the grasses were moving strangely. His senses alive he suspected we were being watched and made his way back down the hill to the group. Closer he warned the party we were being watched, most likely goblins, up there.

Tranis and Avidius went to go climb the slope but a shot rang out and we were hit! Everyone ran for cover, the ranger and thief circled around the side of the hill and were shot at, shield splintered! We needed to gather ourselves together and make a fast call on what to do.

Back in the valley side, Tranis and Waldo (Lynx) made a bee-line towards where the sniper was shooting at us, Avidius slowed down, Caidius left his hiding and began climbing the hill, Flimflam mounted Whosea and taking Princess left the camp to Steiner with orders for everyone to stay behind trees.

Tranis took a few shots, one of them blasting through one of the shields he was tossing away and scoring a deep gash in his chest. He was getting closer when the Sniper turned and began making his way down the hill. The lynx put on a burst of speed, not following Tranis who detoured to the west a dozen running paces, passed over a tripwire and was hit by some grenade traps the sniper had left.

At the top of the hill Tranis stopped and took aim as the sniper and 4 other goblins were heading away down the hill, bows at their back. He called his shot…and hit the sniper in the head. The goblin sharpshooter pitched forward, arrow in his skull, vomiting and in pain. Return fire shot at Tranis and the Lynx ran fast…hitting one of the goblin bowmen. Meanwhile the distant sniper was helped to his feet, made a ragged shot back…missed, and was then shot in the chest, killed.

Caidius and Avidius slowed at the top of the hill while Flimflam (in fox form) and his two animals ran to help the lynx in the fight. Waldo was shot, and then stabbed, the lynx falling over dead as the three canines hit the group just after another withering fall of arrows hit them from the ranger’s uncanny bow shots.

The last goblin grabbed the sniper’s Windchaser and ran for the woods…but was felled by a 200’+ shot by Avidius and then the entire area was entangled by Flimflam to prevent anyone from taking the weapon. The battle ended and the dogs tore apart the last goblins. We waited for the entangle to end and then took the Windchaser, returning to the group.

It was noted that whoever took it felt ill, like something was wrong. Also, any magic they had or carried seemed to flicker and fade, and only after 10 minutes did the dampening effect from the Luciferian weapons reverse and people and items felt and behaved normally again.

We spent 40 minutes messing with the Windchaser until we felt comfortable on how it worked, if not comfortable with owning it. Then the thought went to do a speak with dead on the goblins to learn if they knew anything about the Windchaser but when we went back up the slope…the bodies were now gone. Shit.

We spent some time healing the party again and Marcus was encouraged to continue studying since we were still here. The interest to reenter the goblin cave and gather Sisspak was being pushed off to do the next day. Instead the decision came to destroy the Windchaser and bury the pieces and its ammunition in the dirt here.

Eventually we ended it with waiting for Marcus to finish and then finding someplace else to camp...returning to the cave tomorrow and them barreling in and through to Sisspak.