The Maze du Châtel

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Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35
The Maze du Châtel

Why did I think eight players was a good idea? Anyway ...

The base setting is pseudo-Frankish, except with demi-french place names inherited from an "ancient empire," and medieval aristocratic titles so my players can follow the political action without going cross-eyed.

The starting location is the large borderlands village of Châtel (250 families, class V, 20 years old, river bank, forest, hilly). Economy -2 precious metals, textiles, furs, and wood; -1 tea and coffee; +1 pottery, spices, and silk; and +2 monster parts.

Lord Corbus is the reason for that last one. Twenty years ago, Corbus du Châtel founded a wilderness sanctum upon an ancient hill, with an interior of granite and cave-riddled limestone. Into this interior, he hired excavators, miners, and architects, to clear out and then expand into a dungeon of many levels. Each year he would dig deeper, until a vast maze stretched down into what some believe is the very bowels of hell itself. And then he disappeared into his tower for a decade to do research, leaving the maze warrens to lie fallow and fill to brim with monstrous beings.

When he decided it was quite thoroughly stocked, Corbus took soldiers and cleared the entrance of villainy, and built and conquered a highway through the wilderness to the nearby borderlands, to allow adventurers to come and explore his dungeon. Every so often, he "restocks," or closes it for a while to lie fallow.

Basina de Brienne, an enterprising merchant, set up a shop at the entrance, and the village formed around her entry monopoly (she's also a thief-7 and local representative of a kingdom-spanning Night Guild, but that's less well known). The wizard does not seem to mind.

A few days ago, the maze was re-opened for business, and today the Grim Fist, a small group of adventurers with their heads full of the last big success story at the Maze du Châtel, has decided to make their fortune here.

Characters were rolled as Kings (roll 5 chars, pick one, re-roll two abilities), but are first level. No demihumans were allowed (but elven bloodline was). The only classes allowed were the core classes, assassin, and illusionist. The players almost universally sacrificed non-prime-requisites to get their prime requisite up to the +10% XP level, which amused me.

  • Radegund d'Antioch - Neutral Fighter, 22, Combat Reflexes, Survival. STR +2, CON -1, CHA +1. A tall, red-headed spitfire with the muscle to back her temper, but somewhat delicate health.
  • Chlodomer d'Antioch - Lawful Fighter, 18, Diplomacy, Fighting Style (Weapon and Shield). STR +2, CHA +3. Tall and young, with dark curls and soulful brown eyes ... and a ready smile. A poetic tongue and idealist's heart make him more dangerous out of combat than in.
  • Samson d'Orléans - Neutral Assassin, 22, Disguise, Swashbuckling. STR +2, DEX +2. A blue-eyed, tousle-headed peasant of very ordinary appearance.
  • Brunegard de Jouy - Neutral Fighter, 21, Combat Reflexes, Trapping. STR +2, CON +1. A large peasant woman with dirty blonde hair and dull blue eyes. Looks like she would have made a good viking, and sometimes acts the part.
  • Grimoald d'Antioch - Lawful Fighter, 23, Combat Reflexes, Naturalism. STR +3, WIS +1, CHA +1. As large and muscular as an ox, reasonably pretty ... a blond farmboy, all grown up.
  • Galswintha d'Antioch - Lawful Mage, 20, Elven Bloodline, Engineering x4. DEX +1, CON +2, INT +3, CHA +1. Pointed ears, eyes the color of hoarfrost, ankle-length hair the color of a raven's wing, and a distant, wintry smile. She's smarter than you, and she knows it.
  • Vulfelind de Saubruic - Neutral Thief, 16, Tracking, Weapon Finesse. DEX +3, INT -1, CHA +2. Tall and slender, with enormous black eyes, dark olive skin, and black hair cropped as close as possible, with a calming, professional demeanor that far belies her years and a smile that is absolutely dazzling when it appears.
  • Lotharic le Brun - Lawful Cleric, 20, Divine Blessing, Healing x3. STR +1, INT +2, WIS +2. A sorrowful looking young man with a peasant's tan, muddy brown eyes, and a dominating nose, dressed in the livery of a priest of recent vintage. He cares deeply about people, and has an intuition for the right thing to do.

The "default" background I gave them was childhood friends born in Antioch, but a few wanted to come from other cities, which was fine. Main point for me was that they all knew and trusted each other, because I wasn't herding cats, and they agreed to that.

I gave them all max gold - they'll have more than that after the first day of adventuring, and "scrimping" on that first foray isn't our thing; we just assumed that the party had already made ONE foray somewhere else, and blown the extra cash celebrating their first real victory.

Session record from last night to follow soon.

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

The party arrives as Lord Corbus finishes a chat with Basina. They wait respectfully while the two say their goodbyes, and then sign up for dungeon entrance, drop their two gold coins in fees, buy the map currently on offer (Basina also has maps from the last major expedition, but "Lord Corbus changes the layout during fallow periods, so the old maps are usually worthless"), and plan their attack.

Galswintha analyzes the map from an architectural standpoint ("a random, inchoate design, by someone who mistook a mishmash of styles for eclectism"). The others just look at the map and talk. Rumors indicate that the area that is mapped ... is also picked clean. So the main discussion is the safest route to un-mapped regions.

Plan in hand, they head down the entrance tunnel ...

Room 1

The first room puts lie to the rumors. An adventurer's corpse, dressed in shabby leather and carrying only a sword and shield, lies on the ground, splattered in a brown emulsion.

One leg is obviously broken, but no other cause of death is evident. They decide to bypass it, and keep some distance as they walk around the edge of the limestone room. They are most of the way in when they see the gray, stone-like cricket the size of a dog, preening itself against a stalactite.

Quietly, Samson readies his bow. The rest of the party follows suit, and all fire simultaneously ... or near enough. The cricket leaps as they attack, and only Radegund, Samson, and Vulfelind hit aught but stone, but it's enough, and the cricket lands, dead, against the opposite wall, missing Lotharic by inches. (They stuff the corpse in Brunegard's pack.)

They decide against checking the corpse for loot, and are about to move on, when Vulfelind spots a catch in the stone - something most parties would not have been close enough to see, were they not trying to walk around the edge of the walls.

She messes with it, and a supporting column rotates around, revealing a narrow passage and a bend. After several attempts to look into the next room without actually going through the door, Brunegard shoves her way through, then comes back out.

"Suit of armor sitting in a chair. Some kind of board game in front of it, one hand resting on a small chest. Two doors beyond. What looks like a switch for the column, but someone smarter than me should check it."

Discussion, wavering, ... and then they hear footsteps approaching from the entrance. Another party! They rush through the column door, and Vulfelind pulls the switch Brunegard was talking about. The column silently rotates back into place, concealing the door once again.

Only then do they really look at the room they are now potentially stuck in.

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Room 36

The board game turns out to be a simple war game of stones on hexes, vaguely familiar to Chlodomer (who knows only that some nobility play it) and completely opaque to the others. The full plate armor does not move, but then, no one approaches it.

As they are looking, the stone-muffled sound of retching can be faintly heard in the room with the corpse and dead cricket.

Galswintha updates the map they bought, and decides that the left-hand door is the better bet. They carefully work their way around the armor and board game, Vulfelind examines and listens at the door ... and onward they go.

Entrance to Room 36a (WIC)

Opening the door, a chill breeze stirs out and four twisted, emaciated creatures (vaguely human-looking) creak as their heads turn and eyes begin to glow a dull red.

"WIGHTS!" shouts Lotharic - perhaps more of a squeak than a shout - and immediately thrusts his holy symbol at them, squeaking (definitely a squeak this time) "Lady protect us!"

Surprisingly, the creatures hiss ... and all but one back away from the cleric! Sadly, the one who resists leaps for Lotharic's throat, and he barely keeps it at bay, stumbling backward into the war game table and knocking stones about.

The armor begins to stand up.

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

A Battle with Two Sides

Chlodomer and Brunegard step in the wight's path and attack (both miss), while Samson and Vulfelind attempt to maneuver behind it ... without getting too close to its turned comrades.

Galswintha lets loose with a bolt of sorcerous mist, which slows it briefly, but mostly alerts it to the presence of a mage.

The animate armor brings a fist down on Lotharic, knocking him off the table and hurting him quite badly. Radegund changes targets, and nails the armor with her greatsword, a blow that would fell any member of the party instantly. It stumbles, just a bit, and Grimoald follows suit, but misses by a country mile.

Lotharic, struggling to his feet, swings his mace, but the angle is bad, and it glances harmlessly off. The wight does not notice. It focuses on Galswintha, bringing its twisted, clawed hand to her pale, frightened face ...

Galswintha ages a decade in a heartbeat, but clings to life furiously.

Chlodomer misses again, but Brunegard hits, bringing her massive claymore down across the wight's left arm, splintering bone ... but still it stands. Samson moves in with both swords and stabs it in the back, but still it stands. And Vulfelind follows suit, and still it stands.

Galswintha then, feebly, brings her staff up into its nose ... and finds a weak spot in the skull. The horrid thing collapses at her feet, then collapses into itself and turns to dust.

The animate armor turns on Radegund, and punches her hard at a hip joint in her armor. She groans, but remains standing, and her sword never waivers.

With the wight down, however, the armor doesn't stand a chance. The party surrounds it and commences a beatdown until it ceases moving; and then moves on to the cowering wights, whom they slaughter as rapidly as they can.

Galswintha, her voice quavering, "I would like to return for rest, now."

Lotharic attends to all wounds (though he can do nothing for Galswintha), then they loot the wight chamber (which, among other things, has a scroll), and grab the chest, the gameboard, stones, and - in a loot-brained frenzy - the table, chair, and formerly animate armor.

Vulfelind listens at the column door carefully, declares the path clear, and they retreat, carefully closing the door behind them. Stepping past the puddles of vomit (they note that the corpse has been dragged off by ... something), they make their way back to the surface.

(OOC Note: Energy Drain has been replaced with 1d20 years of aging and a save vs. death. I personally hate dealing with level loss - for me, at least, even a dying character is more fun.)

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Day 2, Room 1

The party breezes through the entrance tunnel until they reach Room 1, where they find a singular goblin, muttering to itself and scraping up dried vomit. Galswintha notices that it is well-dressed for a goblin (fitted cotton tunic, cute little pants, sandals) and unarmed, and stops the party for a moment to talk to it.

"Hello, little one, do you have a name?"

It peers up at her suspiciously, "Grizzba. You gone fight me?"

"Not if we don't have to - I'm Galswintha. Are you ... are you actually working for Lord Corbus?"

"Beats gone hungry. Beats gone dead." The goblin pauses, its yellow eyes narrowing, "What you want?"

"I ... nothing, at the moment. I'm just a bit stunned. I would not have thought ..."

At that point, the party starts arguing about what to do about the goblin. Vulfelind and Galswintha want to see if it can act as a guide; no one else thinks it can be trusted far enough to swing by its neck from a rope without stabbing someone in the back.

Finally, the goblin tugs at Galswintha's robes, "Lady? I gotta job already. You don' gotta argue with your friends." A brief pause, then, "An' if you need guide, maybe a maze not the best place for you."

Brunegard bellows out a laugh, and slaps Galswintha on the back, "Runt's got you there!"

Lotharic still doesn't want to leave the goblin behind to tell the rest of his warband where they are, but finds himself out-voted. Brunegard puts it simply, "It's making sure we don't step in vomit, for Lady's sake, and you want to kill it?"

Still, they wait for the goblin to finish cleaning and leave before they open the secret door and slip back into the now-empty "room of the animate armor."

Room 36

The door to the wight's room is still open; the door on the right is still closed.

A skeleton in a suit of cheap leather armor sits cross-legged at a ragged square of cloth, with pebbles in place of the nicer stones the original game board had. There is no chest.

After a long, careful stare, Vulfelind declares that the pieces are in the same positions as they were the previous day. Grimoald taps Lotharic on the shoulder, "Don't knock this one over." Lotharic just sighs sorrowfully.

This time the party gets into combat formation before opening the door on the right. Vulfelind checks the door, hears nothing, and they open it ... and beyond see a shadowed, narrow room with three large pillars on each side.

They step in.

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Room 37

As they finish entering the room, eight skeletons step out from between the pillars, four on each side, and begin attacking.

And mostly miss, although Grimoald and Vulfelind both hurt.

Galswintha retreats into the animate armor room, holding her cut arm and cursing undead of all flavors; Radegund and Chlodomer both decapitate their attacker; and most of the rest of the party at least damage their foes. Another couple passes and the fight is over. Lotharic checks everyone for damage and cinches his status as one of the best physicians in town.

Checking the room with better light, they find eight alcoves (empty and unadorned), symbols carved into the floor, and a red "X" above the door at the far end.

After some debate, they form up, and open the door ...

Room 38 Entrance: Stair and Dome

Through the door is a spiral staircase down into an open, vaulted dome roughly three stories high. A smashed statue lies in the center of the room, and six doors, each 60 degrees apart, face outward from the center.

The ceiling has a painting (life-sized!) of a dragon spread across a flat rock and conversing with a nymph.

After further debate about the meaning of the red "X", they decide to leave the room alone, re-shut the door, and then spike it shut.

They return to what Grimoald is now calling "the vomit goblin room."

Rooms 2, 3, 5, 8, And 11

Moving along from the entrance room to the publicly-known antechamber, the party follows their map to the estimated "unvisited" area with reasonable safety. In the spot marked Room 11, there are two doors marked, one visible, one secret ... and no rooms mapped beyond.

A failed attempt to pick the lock of the visible door, or FIND the hidden one. A lack of sounds heard ("but the door looks heavy enough to block quiet sounds").

A show of hands. A girding of loins. Grimoald kicks open the door.

(OOC: I'm pretty sure I looked a little too gleeful here - the players got REAL cautious all of a sudden, before they finally got up the guts to go through the door.)

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Room 17
Three ogres sit in a ragged circle. The biggest one is rolling a carved goblin skull when the door slams open.

The ogres stare, open-mouthed with surprise. The smallest one, missing an eye, casually and stealthily tips the skull onto a different side while the larger one is distracted.

The party attacks.

Vulfelind and Samson move first, in what appears to be a pre-planned tandem, and stab the biggest, snick snick deep into his torso, and very nearly kill him ... and Galswintha finishes the job with her sorcerous mist.

As his body is falling, Brunegard and Chlodomer do act in tandem; Brunegard tackles the mid-sized ogre and knocks him prone, and Chlodomer kicks his club out of reach.

Radegund, Grimoald, and Lotharic all fall upon the prone, surprised ogre and he dies swiftly and messily.

And then the one-eyed runt ... flees. Although, Vulfelind later notes with some satisfaction, not without grabbing his and the larger ogre's treasure sacks in a smooth, practiced motion that belies years of being the smallest, greediest ogre in the tribe.

That's when they discover the dead ogres weigh 69 and 81 stone each. Several minutes are spent discussing everyone's worthlessness as beasts of burden, and then they decide to try tying the two ogres together and dragging them rather than carrying them.

The. Entire. Way. Back.

This takes a very long time, but they manage it, although they have to untie and retie them twice due to narrow doors. But no one bothers the party, and eventually they make it to the entrance to sell the corpses.

Grimoald grins and quips, "Good thing one of them got away, eh?"

End Session.

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

End Session Notes

The scroll turned out to be a simple parchment with a long, crooked line dotted at regular intervals. Very mysterious.

Both days, the party did poorly on the monster parts sale value, getting 80% and 70% of the average value of the corpses, respectively.

Galswintha is now 30 years old. If she survives another wight attack, there will likely be ability score penalties.

The party missed at least two secrets because no one had the right proficiency (in this case, Strategy and Theology). They may find them later.

XP 421 each; haul, 332 gold, 6 copper each. A little anemic on the treasure, partly because of the skeletons and the one-eyed runt ogre running off with the party's "fair share."

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Some adjustments:

Galswintha
Spoke with Galswintha's player about aging. Here's the revised character:

  • Galswintha d'Antioch - Lawful Mage, 20(30), Elven Bloodline, Engineering x3. DEX +1, CON +2, INT +2, WIS -1, CHA +1. An apparent teenager with pointed ears, eyes the color of hoarfrost, ankle-length hair the color of a raven's wing, and a distant, wintry smile. She's smarter than you, and she knows it.

One-Eyed Runt
Originally just a low roll on hit points, in play he acquired a fair amount of personality for a two-round showing. In my long tradition of GMing, that means it's time to stat him up a bit more and make him more interesting.

... especially since two players have emailed me their plans to find him again (one wants to get "their" loot back, the other wants to see if he's civilizable).

I've decided to give him thief abilities equivalent to his hit dice (including attack and saving throws) and two proficiencies. It's short, sweet, and makes him a worthy opponent/ally, without breaking the existing ogre too much. I've also dropped his STR to 17 ("scrawny") and upped his DEX to 17 (improving his overall AC), which will make him a little less scary unless he backstabs ... but will also improve his survivability slightly.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Great session update! Sounds like a total blast.

One quick note - if Galswintha has Elven Bloodline she shouldn't suffer the normal aging penalties of a human. She'd age as an elf instead.

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Alex wrote:
One quick note - if Galswintha has Elven Bloodline she shouldn't suffer the normal aging penalties of a human. She'd age as an elf instead.

That is an excellent point, and one Galswintha's player forgot about. I think she'll be pleased when we meet again next week - elven bloodline is apparently an (almost) free pass against energy drain under my house rule.

Of course, now Lotharic's going to want to throw her under the bus every time they face wights, as a meat shield for the poor, crunchy fighters ... >:->

jedavis
Patreon SupporterPlayer's Companion BackerDomains At War BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara Backer
Joined: 2012-03-08 01:21

Wait, Illusionist? Wherefrom cometh this class?

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

jedavis wrote:
Wait, Illusionist? Wherefrom cometh this class?

http://www.autarch.co/downloads - Under Supplemental Rules, "Illusionist Optional Rule."

It includes the class, spell list, and a number of new spells.

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Had two sessions this weekend - two players dropped out after Saturday's session, and the smaller remaining group was up for another round of ACKS. However, I am out of time this evening, so the write-up may have to wait for Tuesday.

We've been having a real blast with ACKS, though. Thanks!

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Session 2
Day 3
The party takes a day off for Vulfelind to heal.

Vulfelind and Galswintha share costs on buying a war dog, and then proceed to pamper it. Lotharic visits the church. Samson, Radegund, Chlodomer, Brunegard, and Grimoald share rounds at The Limping Rat Tavern.

Day 4
The party explores further, comes to a decision point: chittering voices to the left, silence to the right. Galswintha wants to go right; everyone else, left.

Left is kobolds, whom they mostly slaughter: one begs for its life, the other flees ... and dies (noisily) beyond the door.

While the party bickers, skeletons march in. Lots of them. The party beats a fighting retreat, slams the door, flees ... gets lost, falls down a slide pit, and finds themselves in another section of the maze.

Between kobold wounds, skeleton wounds, and the fall, Samson dies outright of a crushed skull; Radegund lands on a hand, crushing it beyond Lotharic's ability to repair; and Vulfelind cracks her chin open, leaving a minor scar. Everyone is hurt, however, and Lotharic can't heal everyone, so Galswintha goes without, "I'm dead if someone gets near me anyway - fix the front line first." Lotharic and Grimoald, the next least injured, go without as well.

The party argues about where they are and how to get back. Vulfelind draws a line-map of directions taken from memory ... and Chlodomer, staring at it, pulls out the scroll with a crooked line, "I wonder if the dots are distance intervals?"

Their immediate problems forgotten, the party puzzles out the scroll line-map, matching it to their map ... and discover a secret door they missed. Which brings them back to that immediate problems: getting out.

Vulfelind finally manages to wall-climb up the slide (crawling along the less-slick wall) and drops a rope down.

Everyone wants to know why the whole party fell into the pit, and some examination tells the story.

The room with the illusory floor has two counterweights - one just outside the room and one inside. Any weight outside the door at all locks the metal floor into place; any weight on the metal floor drops it into "slide" position, unless it is currently locked. One person standing outside the room makes the room safe, but as soon as they step in, everyone falls. The illusion covers the suspicious-looking, slick metal floor with an image of ordinary damp cobblestones.

The players comment, once again, that Corbus has a few loose gears in his head.

They hike back to their supposed secret door and search with little luck until Chlodomer decides to push every stone on the wall, working his way from top to bottom and left to right.

Which does find the secret door ... and opens it! Two kobolds spot the adventurers and flee down a hall, yipping warnings. With a sheepish grin, Chlodomer pushes the stone again. The door shuts.

The Grim Fist flee for their lives once again, but this time they return to the surface.

In town, they strip Samson down and sell his gear to pay for a funeral. No priests powerful enough to restore life are in the village, and no larger towns are within a short enough travel distance - and they definitely don't have the funds for a long-distance, two-way trip.

End Session Notes
XP 57 each (including 25 XP bonus for map puzzle). No treasure aside from Samson's gear, which they mostly spent on a funeral. Samson is dead and buried.

Samson's player decided to drop out at this point - he was hoping for a more political-from-the-outset game (Disguise is not exactly helpful against kobolds), and Samson biting the big hand in the sky is a pretty good stopping point.

Brunegard's player also dropped out - her job changed her hours. I really miss not having to worry about that sort of thing. Her character "wanders off" while they're back in town.

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Session 3
Days 5, 6, and 7
Healing and recovery; plus an extra day to get some tasks taken care of. Radegund swaps out her weapon selection, commissions a hook hand, and chats with people all over town. Galswintha plays with the war dog and follows Vulfelind around town.

Grizzba. Chlodomer and Grimoald try to track down "the vomit goblin," meet with dismal failure, suspect "guild business," and ask Vulfelind to look into it for them. Vulfelind tracks down Grizzba (and pays a slightly-overdue guild tax) and arranges a meeting. Meanwhile, Chlodomer has a heart-to-heart with Lotharic, and Lotharic agrees to let Grizzba bring ruin and shame upon the party before he kills her (approximately his words). Chlodomer offers Grizzba standard hench rates, and between his CHA +3 and a small bonus for treating a goblin like a human being, manages fanatical loyalty!

  • Grizzba the Goblin - Neutral Goblin Hench (0th), 16, Caving,
    Mapping. STR -1, DEX +2, INT +1, CHA -1. A well-dressed goblin (fitted tunic,
    pants, sandals) with a pointy sense of humor.

Lotharic visits the local medical ward and offers his services, and starts to ask questions about the local goblin. He doesn't much like the reply: "Which one?"

Day 8
The party buys an updated map from Basina and is disheartened to find that their secret wargame room was found; but the other secrets they know are still clear. Grizzba is discovered to understand maps, and she fills in a few empty spots on the map, although not the connecting passages.

Why? Because Corbus built servant corridors into the top levels of the maze. They're tiny and require a talisman to pass through, but there you go.

They head back into the maze, and go back to the secret door at the base of the stairwell - that's where their line map leads, darnit, and that's where they're going to go.

Chlodomer parleys with the kobolds this time, and pulls it off, if by the skin of his teeth. The Grim Fist will be allowed safe passage to the next spot on the line map, in return for not brandishing weapons, murdering lots of kobolds, or telling anyone else where the kobold lair is.

The line map takes the party to a tight, narrow, scary-looking stairwell down.

The party descended and with the tenacity that only comes from ignorance, fought their way through a gang of ogres, carried the corpses back, and then returned to find another two gangs of ogres investigating the scene of the previous fight ... including the one-eyed runt, who squealed something in ogrish, and all hell broke loose.

The party fled to a narrow door, where Radegund managed a perfect crossbow shot, switched to her mace, and held off two ogres at the door long enough for Galswintha to kill one of them. Then the whole party dropped their packs and ran, with a parting shot from an ogre finally killing Radegund.

They had to leave the bodies of Radegund and the war dog (who took a hit for Vulfelind near the start of the fight, and whose armor slowed it down too much to outrun the ogres).

... and then Chlodomer had to give the fast-talk of his life, when they tried to pass through the kobold territory looking ill-equipped to handle a fight. He managed it, but it was obvious that the kobolds were going to try something sneaky and nasty the next time through.

Still, they returned with all but Radegund (and dog). And missing most of their backpack-contained gear.

Galswintha and Vulfelind pinky-swear vengeance on the ogres. Everyone mourned.

Weeks 2 and 3 (End Day 21)
We ended the session with another two weeks passing, so that some long-term things could be done. Galswintha wanted to see if another war dog could be found; Vulfelind wanted to hire a hench; and so on.

End Session Notes
XP 785 each; haul, 476 gold, including corpses and map sales. Grizzba received 163 XP (1/2 share of kills award + 76 gold) and made level 1. I decided she would progress as a thief rather than a fighter, however - her background (and her contacts with the guild) imply that she had close-enough training already. Chlodomer gave money to Vulfelind to "equip Grizzba well," and so she did.

After replenishing their packs, that leaves them with approximately 1,000 gold each, which they put in safe-keeping with Basina.

Vulfelind just tipped over second level. Radegund's player rolled up Lanthechilde (who is presented as a friend of Chlodomer's who was arriving late to the party). A few party members aquired henches, pulling from the military population of the village.

The party as they stand now (including 10% XP bonuses):

  • Chlodomer d'Antioch - Lawful Fighter, 18, Diplomacy, Fighting Style (Weapon and Shield). STR +2, CHA +3. Tall and young, with dark curls and soulful brown eyes ... and a ready smile. A poetic tongue and idealist's heart make him more dangerous out of combat than in. XP 1,389.
    • Grizzba the Goblin - Neutral Goblin Thief, 16, Caving, Mapping, Weapon Finesse. STR -1, DEX +2, INT +1, CHA -1. A well-dressed goblin with a pointy sense of humor. XP 69. Morale +6 (Chlodomer CHA +3, fanatic +2, levels +1, calamities +0).
  • Grimoald d'Antioch - Lawful Fighter, 23, Combat Reflexes, Naturalism. STR +3, WIS +1, CHA +1. As large and muscular as an ox, reasonably pretty ... a blond farmboy, all grown up. XP 1,389.
    • Alaric du Châtel - Lawful Heavy Infantry, 19, Combat Reflexes. STR +1, DEX +1, CON -1, WIS -2, CHA -1. A pudding-faced peasant with poor manners, but a strong back and a strong desire to help. XP -100. Morale +1 (Grimoald CHA +1, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0).
  • Galswintha d'Antioch - Lawful Mage, 30, Elven Bloodline, Engineering x3. DEX +1, CON +2, INT +2, WIS -1, CHA +1. An apparent teenager with pointed ears, eyes the color of hoarfrost, ankle-length hair the color of a raven's wing, and a distant, wintry smile. She's smarter than you, and she knows it. XP 1,389.
  • Vulfelind de Saubruic - Neutral Thief-2, 16, Tracking, Weapon Finesse. DEX +3, INT -1, CHA +2. Tall and slender, with enormous black eyes, dark olive skin, and black hair cropped as close as possible, with a calming, professional demeanor that far belies her years and a smile that is absolutely dazzling when it appears. XP 1,389.
    • Thorismund du Châtel - Neutral Slinger, 22, Animal Husbandry. STR +2, INT -2, WIS +1, CHA +2. A mercenary with craggy good looks and a kind heart, but no head for math. XP -100. Morale +4 (Vulfelind CHA +2, fanatic +2, levels +0, calamities +0).
    • Ingunde du Châtel - Neutral Slinger, 18, Animal Husbandry x2. STR -2, DEX +1, CON -1, INT +1, CHA +2. A stunningly good-looking mercenary and wife to Thorismund. Does the finances for the household. XP -100. Morale +4 (Vulfelind CHA +2, fanatic +2, levels +0, calamities +0).
  • Lotharic le Brun - Lawful Cleric, 20, Divine Blessing, Healing x3. STR +1, INT +2, WIS +2. A sorrowful looking young man with a peasant's tan, muddy brown eyes, and a dominating nose, dressed in the livery of a priest of recent vintage. He cares deeply about people, and has an intuition for the right thing to do. XP 1,389.
  • Lanthechilde d'Antioch - Neutral Thief, 20, Healing x2, Intimidation. STR +1, DEX +2, CON +1, INT +1, WIS +1, CHA +2. A low-level version of Rebecca de Mornay's character in The Three Musketeers, before she has her heart broken. Soft-spoken and kind, but a little too clever with the daggerwork. XP 0.
Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

I love the flavor of yor camaign. Great stuff. With the two players who have dropped out, you're really at more of an ideal party size, especially with henchmen.

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Six players is feeling a lot more manageable. I'm not very good at saying "no."

This has also been my first DMing run in quite some time.

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

A few too many weren't able to make it Saturday or Sunday, so Chlodomer, Grimoald, and Lotharic - rather, their players - and I hung out. Some questions came up about the campaign, and they seemed to me useful information for the whole party, so in lieu of a real update:

  • Dungeon Questions.
    • It does get more dangerous. Yes, the first level was designed by Corbus as a deliberately easy wading pool. He wants would-be adventurers to hit the first couple of rooms and think, "I can do this," not "I wanna go home."
    • Corbus' maze might qualify as a small megadungeon. Kilodungeon?
    • Chlodomer was really curious about the ogres. I tried to avoid spoilers, but at this point, it should be obvious to anyone with a successful Adventering proficiency throw that there has to be an ogre village somewhere ... and ogres are not known for building their villages underground. Yes, that's *&^%ing deadly for level-1 characters, what did the party think they were going to find three levels down in Corbus' maze?
    • On a related note, there are non-maze hooks in the maze, and the maze is primarily intended as an introductory dungeon.
    • Heck yes, Corbus has screws loose.
    • Every secret door and trap has a described mechanism. All of them can be found, opened, and de-activated without a thief in the party. The thief class provides a shortcut. I think a party with no thieves could beat the entire dungeon - a party with thieves will just do it faster.
  • Rules Questions.
    • A finger bone fished out of an ogre belly is sufficient to reincarnate Radegund. Restore life and limb is out of the question.
    • Given a large number of pre-existing skeletons, a fourth level Chaotic cleric can amass a huge army of skeletons ... for 40 minutes. Useful for herding, probably not for long-term siege or similar. But, yeah, herding done right can be downright awesome.
    • Goblins are not inherently evil. They're not even guaranteed to be Chaotic. They just have an extremely strong racial predilection for Chaos (from their 25% troll blood), and a culture that promotes being jerks.
    • The Lady (species goddess generica generica) does not hate goblins. She hates Chaos. Goblins are almost always Chaotic. Unfortunately, barring spells, The Lady does not provide Lotharic with any particular ability to determine whether The Lady hates Grizzba - mortals have to do some of the work themselves.
    • It is theoretically possible that the alignment listing for one or more PCs are lies, lies, lies.
    • The animate armor was a custom creature.
    • The ogre who tipped a die over while Surprised: that was a flavor issue. He may or may not have any special abilities related to Surprise, but the humorous aside of him flipping the die over to favor his side of the game was not a subtle hint of his abilities.

There were probably other questions I forgot about, but those were the ones I noted as broadly applicable when they were asked.

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Lotharic quit at the end of the session tonight, and there was drama, so ... no update today. I should be feeling better about it and have time on Tuesday. (At this point, I might as well just plan to update on Tuesdays anyway.)

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Oh no! I'm sorry to hear it. I hate when things like that happen. 

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Session 4
Day 22
The Grim Fist decides on discretion where the kobolds are concerned, and heads instead to the illusory floor room. There, they spend some time examining and then breaking the trap - now a permanent slide - and tie off a rope under the illusion for a permanent way back that isn't obvious.

It's a very clever use of the trap itself, and I approve.

They descend and explore the narrow, unlit, barrel-vault passages, until they are surprised by a pair of rhagodessa, who capture and drag Lotharic and Chlodomer up into the vaulted ceiling. In this battle, Chlodomer successfully wrestled his back down to the ground and held it in place while Grizzba, Vulfelind, and Lanthechilde backstabbed it to death. The other rhagodessa, however, inflicted mortal wounds on half the party before they brought it down. Lotharic lost his eyes while the rhagodessa chewed on his head; everyone else was more or less intact afterward.

While the others discussed what to do, Vulfelind climbed up and investigated the ceiling ... and found a tiny hole, with a glint beyond. Lotharic was the only one who objected when Chlodomer helped Grizzba squirm up and into the hole, and a few moments later, she began lowering a veritable hoard of treasure!

  • Tiny chests full of silver, plus another full of gold.
  • Enough gems and jewelry to run fingers through, including three of note:
    • A statue of The Lady cut from a single piece of opal,
    • An alabaster flute, and
    • A jade ring with an ancient family crest.
  • Several exquisite fur cloaks, and numerous other bits and pieces.
  • Far too many stone of richly-colored, demi-metallic feathers; goblin-sized avian bones; gorgeous unicorn-like horns; and the bird-like skulls the horns are attached to.
  • A beautiful kukri made of mithril, with gorgeous inlay showing a striking bird, and a single dwarven rune. Magic? Very probably.

(OOC: To be fair to Lotharic, the once-impoverished goblin did make a loyalty roll when presented with such an easy party theft.)

Loading themselves to the maximum, and dropping armor and gear, they eventually stagger back to town with the entire hoard and rhagodessa corpses. They are beginning to get a reputation for returning without their packs, however.

As before, there are no powerful healing magics, so Lotharic takes his portion of the treasure and leaves with a merchant to buy restoration in the big city.

Chlodomer retains the sword, but until the true value is known, it remains a "party" treasure.

Galswintha also keeps one unicorn-like horn and a handful of demi-metallic feathers.

End Month 1, plus Weeks 1, 2, and 3 of Month 2
After recovering and re-buying basic gear, Galswintha requests a road trip to Orléans (Class II) for "real shopping." The party maxed their level gain, however, and wants to make one more maze trip first - amazing what a difference 1 XP makes!

The dungeon trip is fast. The Grim Fist buys the new map, marches to the edge, hits a cluster of fire beetles, slaughters them, and marches back.

Galswintha begs for a road trip again, and they join a merchant heading to Orléans.

Ah, Orléans!

Vulfelind almost buys an elephant, and does buy a suit of leather "tanned from the hide of a giant black widow," along with numerous other lovely toys.

Chlodomer buys excessively expensive plate armor ("jack of plates, quilted white silk threaded with gold, and a jade-and-emerald Circled Eye over the heart").

Everyone acquires silver daggers, and a few silvered swords are acquired as well.

And then there is Galswintha.

She is terrifying. She is glorious. She spends all the monies, then sweet-talks more out of her friends, and spends that, too.

Every available jeweler in Orléans for the next six months is busy carving a set of rings (both full-membership and retainer-membership) for The Order of the Grim Fist from slices of the avian-unicorn horn. A number of tailors and seamstresses have found employment for the season. And countless merchants are wondering whether they rolled "teenaged hurricane" on the City Encounter table. Afterward, she comments, "Next time we should go to Paris instead."

The party also spent time interviewing potential henches (Chlodomer had difficulty because he only wanted henches that would get along with Grizzba), arguing over a mule, and so on. Grizzba argued with the local law, and Chlodomer paid some fines. And Galswintha picked up some new spells. Then they made their way back to Châtel.

We ended the session with the Grim Fist standing outside the Maze again.

End Session Notes
Good grief, there are a lot of henches running around now.

Lotharic's player quit at the end of the session, bringing us down to five players.

I established a new house rule:

There is no reserve XP rule. Instead, there is a "party reserve" associated with the party, equal to 25% of the highest-XP character currently alive and in the party. New PCs start with this reserve. (Lanthechilde was ret-conned to take advantage of this.) This caps out at 8th level.

The party has quite a bit of money in Basina's bank, although the trip did manage to bleed them fairly well. Galswintha spent 13,000 gold, of which only 7,000 was hers.

The party now looks like this:

  • Party Reserve - 1,252 XP. Total XP shares 10.25 (Eldremer does not get an XP share); total treasure shares 6.5 (Eldremer and Shadow do not get treasure shares).
  • Chlodomer d'Antioch - Lawful Fighter-3, 18, Command, Diplomacy, Fighting Style (Weapon and Shield). STR +2, CHA +3. Tall and young, with dark curls and soulful brown eyes ... and a ready smile. A poetic tongue and idealist's heart make him more dangerous out of combat than in. Wears a quilted white silk jack of plates, with gold threads and a jade-and-emerald Circled Eye over his heart; carries what is obviously an ancient dwarven kukri; and bears a simple copper ring with the Grim Fist sigil visible upon it. XP 4,008 (10,016); 3,500 gold.
    • Grizzba the Goblin - Neutral Goblin Thief-2, 16, Caving, Mapping, Weapon Finesse. STR -1, DEX +2, INT +1, CHA -1. A very well-dressed goblin (black silk-covered leathers, fine boots, and a very jaunty beret) with a pointy sense of humor. Chlodomer has been slowly winning her over to a Lawful viewpoint, but there is a long way to go. XP 2,398; 1,125 gold. Morale +7 (Chlodomer CHA +3, Command +2, fanatic +2, levels +2, calamities -1, align -1).
    • Galagunde d'Orléans - Lawful Illusionist-2, 25, Familiar (Tarantula), Animal Husbandry x3. DEX -1, CON +1, INT +2, WIS -1, CHA +1. A sharp-nosed, bespectacled woman with a cautious, occasional smile. Outfitted in sturdy tunic and pants, hiking boots, pack, and walking stick. Does not seem to care much for appearances! XP 2,500. Morale +5 (Chlodomer CHA +3, Command +2, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0).
      • Eldremer the Bold - Lawful Tarantula Familiar, 3, Illusion Resistance, Healing x2, Mimicry. Move 120 ft. (40 climb). Bite 1d2 (mild poison, 1d6 damage, save for none).
  • Grimoald d'Antioch - Lawful Fighter-3, 23, Combat Reflexes, Fighting Style (Two-Handed), Naturalism. STR +3, WIS +1, CHA +1. As large and muscular as an ox, reasonably pretty ... a blond farmboy, all grown up. Neither Grimoald nor his henches are dressed fancy, although all have simple copper rings showing their affiliation with the Grim Fist. XP 4,008 (10,016); 6,800 gold.
    • Alaric du Châtel - Lawful Fighter-2, 19, Combat Reflexes, Healing. STR +1, DEX +1, CON -1, WIS -2, CHA -1. A pudding-faced peasant with poor manners, but a strong back and a strong desire to help. XP 2,226; 1,125 gold. Morale +3 (Grimoald CHA +1, loyal +0, levels +2, calamities +0).
    • Rufismund le Ruge - Lawful Fighter-2, 30, Berserkergang, Fighting Style (Two-Handed). STR +1, CON +1, WIS -1, CHA -1. Missing an eye. A seasoned soldier with a mad glint in his eye. XP 2,000. Morale +2 (Grimoald CHA +1, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0).
  • Galswintha d'Antioch - Lawful Mage-3, 30, Elven Bloodline, Engineering x3. DEX +1, CON +2, INT +2, WIS -1, CHA +1. An apparent teenager with pointed ears, eyes the color of hoarfrost, ankle-length hair the color of a raven's wing, and a distant, wintry smile. She's smarter than you, and she knows it. How she is dressed depends upon her mood; she is currently renting space in Châtel for her wardrobe, which contains both finery and "more sensible adventuring silks." A copper ring upon her finger shows her membership in the Grim Fist. XP 5,008 (10,016); 1,500 gold.
    • Gurund d'Orléans - Lawful Mage-2, 30, Alchemy x3, Knowledge (Natural Philosphy). STR -2, CON -1, INT +2, WIS +1, CHA +1. A salt-and-pepper gentleman in silk robes. "Your eternal servant, m'moiselle." Dressed in tailored silk robes of severe mien, and looks the part of an overly serious alchemist and apprentice sage. XP 2,500. Morale +3 (Galswintha CHA +1, fanatic +2, levels +0, calamities +0).
    • Deuteria du Châtel - Neutral Mage-1, 24, Loremastery, Mapping, Navigation, Seafaring. STR +1, INT +2, WIS +1, CHA +1. A muscular, red-headed sailor looking for more adventure than her ship offered. Dressed in raucous silks that show far too much skin. XP 0. Morale +1 (Galswintha CHA +1, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0).
  • Vulfelind de Saubruic - Neutral Thief-4, 16, Swashbuckling, Tracking, Weapon Finesse. DEX +3, INT -1, CHA +2. Tall and slender, with enormous black eyes, dark olive skin, and black hair cropped as close as possible, with a calming, professional demeanor that far belies her years and a smile that is absolutely dazzling when it appears. Dressed in jet black leather armor made from the hide of a giant black widow (the hourglass symbol is still visible between the shoulder blades) and the softest imaginable suede gloves, boots, and jacket made from same. A copper ring declares her and her henches' membership in the Grim Fist. XP 5,008 (10,016); 4,000 gold.
    • Thorismund du Châtel - Neutral Fighter-2, 22, Animal Husbandry, Fighting Style (Two-Handed). STR +2, INT -2, WIS +1, CHA +2. A mercenary with craggy good looks and a kind heart, but no head for math. Dressed in well-made plate armor. XP 2,229; 1,125 gold. Morale +3 (Vulfelind CHA +2, loyal +0, levels +2, calamities -1).
    • Ingunde du Châtel - Neutral Fighter-2, 18, Animal Husbandry x2, Weapon Finesse. STR -2, DEX +1, CON -1, INT +1, CHA +2. A stunningly good-looking mercenary and wife to Thorismund. Does the finances for the household. Dressed in plate and silks. XP 2,216; 1,125 gold. Morale +3 (Vulfelind CHA +2, loyal +0, levels +2, calamities -1).
    • Veneranda le Vulin - Neutral Cleric-1, 16, Elven Bloodline, Animal Training (Dogs), Beast Friendship. STR +0*, DEX +1, CON +1, INT +1, WIS +2*, CHA +1. * +1 with adulthood. Green, dryad's hair, emerald-colored eyes, and pointed ears. Petite and obviously elf-blooded, with a dog she is training. Dressed in flowing silk pantaloons, a jet black satin jacket threaded with silver, and a number of wrist and ankle bangles, a pair of earrings, and attractive but not excessively expensive rings. XP 0. Morale +2 (Vulfelind CHA +2, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0).
      • Shadow - Neutral War Dog, HD 2+2, attack trained. Move 150, bite 1d6. A handsome, black beast with red, slavering jowls. Dressed in a fitted black satin jacket that matches his mistress, in which he looks absolutely adorable. XP 0 (7,000 to HD 3+3). Morale +5 (Veneranda CHA +1, fanatic +2, levels +0, calamities +0, racial +2).
  • Lanthechilde d'Antioch - Neutral Thief-3, 20, Healing x2, Intimidation. STR +1, DEX +2, CON +1, INT +1, WIS +1, CHA +2. A low-level version of Rebecca de Mornay's character in The Three Musketeers, before she has her heart broken. Soft-spoken and kind, but a little too clever with the daggerwork. Dressed in fine leather, or an aristocratic dress, according to the occasion, and a Grim Fist copper ring. XP 2,508 (9,322); 5,000 gold.
    • Harberic d'Orléans - Neutral Thief-1, 22, Alertness, Art (Sculpture) x2. CON +1, INT +1, WIS +1. A wild-eyed, wild-haired artiste who supplements his meager living with larceny. XP 0. Morale +1 (Lanthechilde CHA +2, grudging -1, levels +0, calamities +0).
Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Session 5
Month 2, Day 22
With small army in hand, the party ascends the stairs, descends the illusion trap (the mules give them a bit of trouble), and makes their way through the maze to where the rhagodessa were (carefully checking the ceiling as they go, this time).

They explore cautiously.

Based on their map, when they are roughly 100 feet from where they fought the ogres (but approaching from the opposite direction), they find themselves at the edge of a vast, open room, one story up from the floor. Down in the center of the room, various hides hung from pillars form a vaguely private room, although from above, they can see the embers of a bonfire, with an enormous cast iron pot in the middle of it, and the scattered bones of humanoid-sized snacks all about.

The thieves all listen as carefully as they can, and make out a slow, methodical crunching sound ... directly below them. With the utmost of care, they back away from the ledge, and then Vulfelind stealthily approaches and peeks.

Hill giant. Eating. Someone's thigh.

They flee as quietly as they can ... then stumble on the monster's larder.

Two orcs, a human, and a boar, all stripped of gear and crammed into small, crudely-formed but effective cages. The larger orc is the first to speak, "Release us, and I won't yell for the giant right now."

Chlodomer stabs that orc through the bars of the cage, then turns to the other one, "Yell and we'll flee. But I'll gut you, first."

This starts an argument with the rest of the party ... but a quiet one.

After discussion, they free the human, and the surviving orc grins, "Kill me or release me. Your strength has earned my silence, either way." They let him go, and he keeps his word.

The human reveals herself to be Baldaswind de Calais, an adventuress who fell prey to the giant due to a lack of caution. The party accepts that at face value, they go back to the rhagodessa lair and outfit her with stuff they left behind, plus Grimoald's spare mace, and ask her if she wants to accompany or get an escort to the surface.

She hesitates, peering at them, then smiles, "I will accompany. You seem like good people."

After forever (to hear Vulfelind tell it), they find a wall behind the ogre lair area ... and a secret door through.

Day 22, Ogre War
Things go surprisingly badly for the ogres.

The party stomps the first three ogres and their champion into paste.

A second ogre gang shows up without reinforcements, and gets similarly stomped, although Grimoald receives a notable scar - a gash across his left cheek - and Alaric suffers a brief vision of the afterlife before healing treatments revive them.

The third group is three gangs - eleven ogres! - and the party gets serious. Galagunde produces an illusory hill giant, successfully routing four; Galswintha's web pins down four more ("Team Backstab" goes to town). The remaining three are stomped as mercilessly as the first.

... and a Tracking throw later, they find the temporary camp. Galagunde brings back the hill giant. Chlodomer takes two hits from the chieftain and remains standing.

Grimoald gets three lucky rolls in a row, dropping one ogress per round before they start fleeing.

Party members begin dropping as well, succumbing to the ogre's brute force, but careful tactical positioning keeps the majority safe ... and Eldremer the Bold demonstrates that a tarantula familiar with Healing proficiency is both exceptionally creepy and exceptionally useful.

When the chieftain is dropped, the loss of morale is too much. The ogres make a full retreat, and a few more drop to vicious backstabs, before the party switches to ranged weapons and very nearly cleans up the remainder as they flee.

Captured adventurers are freed. Loot is grabbed (against convention, they share a portion of the loot with the former prisoners to get them back on their feet again).

Then they face the real problem. Carrying roughly 180 stone of ogre corpses and treasure back.

Treasure:

  • 26 sacks of ogre gold.
  • Scattered bits of electrum.
  • Leftovers of giant boar.
  • An entire wagon, filled with boxes of glassware, some of which is unbroken.
  • The chieftain's personal casks of - if the label is to be believed - finest whiskey.
  • A potion, found on the chief's person.
  • A noble's white-handled dagger.
  • A beautiful quarter-moon shield made of mithril, edged and inlayed to resemble the half-closed wing of a bird, and a single dwarven rune on the interior. The leather strap is long since gone (the ogres were using it as a wok), but the shield itself is obviously magical ... and equally obviously related to the dwarven kukri Chlodomer is carrying around.

The party spends a bit of time tryin to determine whether the sword and shield do anything extra when used together, but they don't, so Grimoald gets the shield.

In the final checks, Grizzba loses a hand to damage, and bears up bravely under the sadness. Gurund took a club to the genitals, and has born up in as craven a fashion as could be desired. Veneranda took the worst, however - an ogre tried to bite her face off, and took her nose entirely, leaving her face hideous.

Week 4
Once returned, Baldaswind thanks the party and takes her leave.

After some discussion, Vulfelind and Galswintha persuade the party that nothing will do but to get their henches restored. Which means trekking back to Orléans. Which means ever more time lost returning to the Maze.

The party agrees on a compromise: they won't travel with a slow caravan this time, but will try to make the distance as fast as they can on their own. The caravan took seven days at a leisurely 9 miles per day. The party force marches the same route in a day and a half, although they have three brief encounters:

Another party, also traveling to Orléans - no hostilities, but no trust, either. They pass on the first day.

A band of 35 brigands, who attempt to ambush the party, but are spotted. Chlodomer attempts to talk "sense" into them, aided by the fact that the Grim Fist is 15 strong, and persuades them to let the party pass unattacked.

A group of zombies, which the party slaughters despite a distinct lack of Turning.

They rest for most of day 24 and all of day 25, then spend two days buying every restore life and limb casting in town, then forced march back.

Month 3, Day 1
On the way back, they encounter a group of nomads and respectfully avoid them, and ... the brigands from before show up with another hundred bandits to escort them to their leader.

The leader introduces himself as Lord Sigimund, and he is a charismatic, friendly fellow who just happens to murder and loot for a living.

At his side is Baldaswind. The soot and rags of her dungeon apparel replaced with the silks and satin of a swashbuckler, the party can now see the clear - if faint - tiger stripes along her arms and shoulders. Her smile, described as "ferocious," seems suddenly more meaningful. And the pair of massive tigers sprawled lazily beside her give the game away entirely.

Lord Sigimund thanks the party for rescuing his lieutenant from the belly of a hill giant, compliments them on their ferocity in dealing with ogres and orcs alike, and says any number of kind things that do not in any way admit a debt.

Then he mentions that he knows where the ogre's village on the surface is.

End Session Notes
Chlodomer's Charisma score continues to reap dividends, and his immensely expensive non-magical armor has let him be recognizable by reputation alone (as he was with the brigands, who had heard of him from Baldaswind).

The dwarven kukri is a sword +3; the quarter-moon shield is a shield +3. The party finally managed to get enough combat data to establish that. They have now added to their standard dungeon search list "looking for the dwarven rune."

I was impressed with how organized the party was during the ogre war. Chlodomer, Grimoald, and Alaric formed a front line of sword and board; Rufismund, Thorismund, and Ingunde formed a polearm line behind; and the thieves hung back with crossbows and the occasional backstab rush when an ogre was knocked down or webbed. The tarantula with Healing proficiency ran amidst the combatants, administering aid as soon as needed, and Veneranda used sling and war dog to harry.

They used force back and knock down to restrict the number of ogres they fought all at once, and when hit points were low, the front line swapped places with a polearm fighter (Chlodomer handed his sword to Ingunde at one point, and she then handed it to Thorismund; Grimoald was the only fighter who stayed in the front line the whole time).

It wasn't perfect - the ogres broke the ranks and nailed a few back-line characters a few times, and Grizzba took a hit during a backstab rush - but for the most part, they just crushed ogres.

It was brutal and I loved it, but I'm going to have to make the next encounter with the ogres harder :-).

As a quick system note: I decided to roll Morale for the seriously injured henches again when restore life and limb was cast, at +2 (who pays for that for henches?); on a "fanatical" result, I eliminated the calamity penalty for that hench. In Grizzba's case, I decided that was the "tipping point" for Lawful-ness. She's pretty much Chlodomer's servant for life at this point.

Current party:

  • Party Reserve - 1,956 XP. Total XP shares 10.25 (Eldremer does not get an XP share); total treasure shares 6.5 (Eldremer and Shadow do not get treasure shares).
  • Chlodomer d'Antioch - Lawful Fighter-3, 18, Command, Diplomacy, Fighting Style (Weapon and Shield).
    STR +2, CHA +3. Tall and young, with dark curls and soulful brown eyes ... and a ready smile. A poetic tongue and idealist's heart make him more dangerous out of combat than in. Wears a quilted white silk jack of plates, with gold threads and a jade-and-emerald Circled Eye over his heart; carries what is obviously an ancient dwarven kukri; and bears a simple copper ring with the Grim Fist sigil visible upon it. XP 6,824; 5,000 gold.
    • Grizzba the Goblin - Lawful Goblin Thief-3, 16, Caving, Mapping, Weapon Finesse. STR -1, DEX +2, INT +1, CHA -1. A very well-dressed goblin (black silk-covered leathers, fine boots, and a very jaunty beret) with a pointy sense of humor. XP 3,236; 1,425 gold. Morale +10 (Chlodomer CHA +3, Command +2, fanatic +2, levels +3, calamities +0, align +0)
    • Galagunde d'Orléans - Lawful Illusionist-2, 25, Familiar (Tarantula), Animal Husbandry x3. DEX -1, CON +1, INT +2, WIS -1, CHA +1. A sharp-nosed, bespectacled woman with a cautious, occasional smile. Outfitted in sturdy tunic and pants, hiking boots, pack, and walking stick. Does not seem to care much for appearances! XP 3,098; 300 gold. Morale +5 (Chlodomer CHA +3, Command +2, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0)
      • Eldremer the Bold - Lawful Tarantula Familiar, 3, Illusion Resistance, Healing x2, Mimicry. Move 120 ft. (40 climb). Bite 1d2 (mild poison, 1d6 damage, save for none).
  • Grimoald d'Antioch - Lawful Fighter-3, 23, Combat Reflexes, Fighting Style (Two-Handed), Naturalism. STR +3, WIS +1, CHA +1. As large and muscular as an ox, reasonably pretty ... a blond farmboy, all grown up. Neither Grimoald nor his henches are dressed fancy, although all have simple copper rings showing their affiliation with the Grim Fist. Bears an ancient dwarven quarter-moon shield, and a gash-like scar across his left cheekbone. XP 6,824; 8,300 gold.
    • Alaric du Châtel - Lawful Fighter-2, 19, Combat Reflexes, Healing. STR +1, DEX +1, CON -1, WIS -2, CHA -1. A pudding-faced peasant with poor manners, but a strong back and a strong desire to help. XP 2,836; 1,425 gold. Morale +2 (Grimoald CHA +1, loyal +0, levels +2, calamities -1).
    • Rufismund le Ruge - Lawful Fighter-2, 30, Berserkergang, Fighting Style (Two-Handed). STR +1, CON +1, WIS -1, CHA -1. Used to have only one eye, and squints as if he is still missing it. A seasoned soldier with a mad glint in his eyes. XP 2,580; 300 gold. Morale +4 (Grimoald CHA +1, fanatical +2, levels +0, calamities +0).
  • Galswintha d'Antioch - Lawful Mage-3, 30, Elven Bloodline, Engineering x3. DEX +1, CON +2, INT +2, WIS -1, CHA +1. An apparent teenager with pointed ears, eyes the color of hoarfrost, ankle-length hair the color of a raven's wing, and a distant, wintry smile. She's smarter than you, and she knows it. How she is dressed depends upon her mood; she is currently renting space in Châtel for her wardrobe, which contains both finery and "more sensible adventuring silks." A copper ring upon her finger shows her membership in the Grim Fist, and a noble's white-handled dagger adorns her side. XP 7,824; 3,000 gold.
    • Gurund d'Orléans - Lawful Mage-2, 30, Alchemy x3, Knowledge (Natural Philosphy). STR -2, CON -1, INT +2, WIS +1, CHA +1. A salt-and-pepper gentleman in silk robes. "Your eternal servant, mademoiselle." Dressed in tailored silk robes of severe mien, and looks the part of an overly serious alchemist and apprentice sage. XP 3,138; 300 gold. Morale +0 (Galswintha CHA +1, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities -1).
    • Deuteria du Châtel - Neutral Mage-1, 24, Loremastery, Mapping, Navigation, Seafaring. STR +1, INT +2, WIS +1, CHA +1. A muscular, red-headed sailor looking for more adventure than her ship offered. Dressed in raucous silks that show far too much skin. XP 638; 300 gold. Morale +1 (Galswintha CHA +1, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0).
  • Vulfelind de Saubruic - Neutral Thief-4, 16, Swashbuckling, Tracking, Weapon Finesse. DEX +3, INT -1, CHA +2. Tall and slender, with enormous black eyes, dark olive skin, and black hair cropped as close as possible, with a calming, professional demeanor that far belies her years and a smile that is absolutely dazzling when it appears. Dressed in jet black leather armor made from the hide of a giant black widow (the hourglass symbol is still visible between the shoulder blades) and the softest imaginable suede gloves, boots, and jacket made from same. A copper ring declares her and her henches' membership in the Grim Fist. XP 7,824; 5,500 gold.
    • Thorismund du Châtel - Neutral Fighter-2, 22, Animal Husbandry, Fighting Style (Two-Handed). STR +2, INT -2, WIS +1, CHA +2. A mercenary with craggy good looks and a kind heart, but no head for math. Dressed in well-made plate armor. Has minor scars (2) from his battles. XP 2,867; 1,425 gold. Morale +2 (Vulfelind CHA +2, loyal +0, levels +2, calamities -2).
    • Ingunde du Châtel - Neutral Fighter-2, 18, Animal Husbandry x2, Weapon Finesse. STR -2, DEX +1, CON -1, INT +1, CHA +2. A stunningly good-looking mercenary and wife to Thorismund. Does the finances for the household. Dressed in plate and silks. XP 2,796; 1,425 gold. Morale +3 (Vulfelind CHA +2, loyal +0, levels +2, calamities -1).
    • Veneranda le Vulin - Neutral Cleric-1, 16, Elven Bloodline, Animal Training (Dogs), Beast Friendship. STR +0*, DEX +1, CON +1, INT +1, WIS +2*, CHA +1. * +1 with adulthood. Green, dryad's hair, emerald-colored eyes, and pointed ears. Petite and obviously elf-blooded, with a dog she is training. Dressed in flowing silk pantaloons, a jet black satin jacket threaded with silver, and a number of wrist and ankle bangles, a pair of earrings, and attractive but not excessively expensive rings. XP 638; 300 gold. Morale +4 (Vulfelind CHA +2, fanatical +2, levels +0, calamities +0).
      • Shadow - War Dog, HD 2+2, attack trained. Move 150, bite 1d6. A handsome, black beast with red, slavering jowls. Dressed in a fitted black satin jacket that matches his mistress, in which he looks absolutely adorable. XP 3,640. Morale +5 (Veneranda CHA +1, fanatic +2, levels +0, calamities +0, racial +2).
  • Lanthechilde d'Antioch - Neutral Thief-4, 20, Healing x3, Intimidation. STR +1, DEX +2, CON +1, INT +1, WIS +1, CHA +2. A low-level version of Rebecca de Mornay's character in The Three Musketeers, before she has her heart broken. Soft-spoken and kind, but a little too clever with the daggerwork. Dressed in fine leather, or an aristocratic dress, according to the occasion, and a Grim Fist copper ring. XP 5,324; 7,000 gold.
    • Harberic d'Orléans - Neutral Thief-1, 22, Alertness, Art (Sculpture) x2. CON +1, INT +1, WIS +1. A wild-eyed, wild-haired artiste who supplements his meager living as an artist with larceny. XP 580; 300 gold. Morale +1 (Lanthechilde CHA +2, grudging -1, levels +0, calamities +0).
Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Side Note: I think that technically, the restore life and limb spell is supposed to always prompt a Tampering with Mortality roll. However, when I looked at the possible results, rolling for someone who lost a hand seemed ... odd.

So at least for my games, RL&L only prompts the roll if it is actually restoring life.

On the other hand, I'm not convinced that's best. I may roll at +6 if alive during the casting, instead. Anyway, just wasn't sure and thought I'd mention it.

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Session 6
This week's session was extra-short due to scheduling conflicts. As it was, that meant more of a cliffhanger than usual, which I'm happy with. Player emails have been fast and furious the last few days as they try to figure a way out of their predicament.

I think they have a solid, if risky, plan, but that will have to wait until next week.

Day 1
Lord Sigimund asked - if not in so many words - if the Grim Fist was willing to wipe out or drive off a village of ogres for him. While it is obvious that these brigands are lawless ... the party decides it's worth doing for its own sake, especially if they can get some help.

However, Sigimund is unwilling to give them assistance - indeed, he seems to think he's doing them a favor by directing them to the ogres.

The party decides to go for it anyway, and camps near Sigimund's site to recover from their forced march.

Day 2
Rather than face the ogres en masse, the party thieves watch the ogre camp for schedules and typical paths. They also learn that they wiped out roughly a third of the village's warriors ... and that outside the narrow confines of the Maze, the ogre champions mount giant boars.

A census gives 50 warriors, 10-15 champions, 5 sub-chieftains, a shaman, 50 females, and 40 young.

Still ...

The party plans a quick succession of three ambushes for the largest gangs, intended to occur fast enough that the ogres can't mount an organized response. This fails at the first gang, as the champion survives the volley and flees on boar-back, too fast for the party to follow, shouting warnings.

Within a few turns, ogre gangs are swarming the woods, hooting signals, looking for the hated Human In Shiny White Armor And His Posse.

Which reveals problem two: the ogres know the area better than the Grim Fist.

Our heroes flee for their lives, get lost in the wilderness, then stumble into a warband of seven hill giants. The party is Surprised.

Not their day.

After a brief and horrible battle, they wake up in crude, but effective cages, stripped of gear. Only Vulfelind (who successfully fled and hid) remains free. Nearby, a cast iron pot sits suggestively empty ...

End Session Notes
Not much to say, really. One hill giant is rough for a party. Seven is ouch.

The giants dealt all nonlethal damage because they like their meat fresh. This ended up making the mortality table mostly a formality - the main bad thing was that every henchman lost -1 morale as a result of the calamity!

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Just a quick note to say that July 4th kind of blew my usual schedule, and I probably won't have time to do a session update until next Tuesday.

We had fun, though :-).

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Oh, man. I hope to hear how the party escaped the hill giants. Or failed to do so, and become glorious, tasty stew.

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Day 2
Sorry for the briefness of this write-up. Trying to get it written quickly.

Vulfelind had escaped the giants during the battle and remained hidden. The party had been captured, and the cages that were so easy to open from the outside were less so from the inside. One of the giants hung around, and hung around, and hung around ...

And finally Vulfelind had enough of waiting. So she shot him with an arrow from behind. The giant roared, stood up, and turned around ... and she shot him again. These are pinpricks on his hit points, mind you, but it still got him properly mad, and he went after her, first throwing rocks (she took cover), and then picking up his club and giving chase.

Vulfelind managed a pretty creative discussion of his ogre ancestry while fleeing for her life.

Once the two of them were gone, the party went to work on the cage. With less need for silence, they made pretty quick work of it, and began scouting the camp for their gear. This took ... longer than they might have liked, and still no return of giant or Vulfelind.

(I ran Vulfelind's chase in a separate room, and the player, bless her heart, kept a good poker face about her fate.)

As they were dressing, one of the other giants wandered back into camp, saw what was going on, and ...

Chlodomer told the lie of his life. "Oh, Mister Giant, Sir! We're soooo sorry about this, we were just going looking for you. We were bargaining for our lives, and that other guy agreed, so we told him where a real treasure was, and he let us go, and that was great, but THEN. THEN. Oh my goddess. He took off looking for the treasure! By himself! As you know, we're Lawful, and if we'd thought he wasn't going to share with his friends, we'd've waited until you came back before offering. I mean, really! Anyway, we made the deal, but we wanted to make sure you got the location, too, so he doesn't keep it all to himself."

If there was ever a time for Chlodomer to roll boxcars on a reaction roll, this was it, and he did.

And then Grizzba gave the giant directions back to the ogre camp.

And then the party sauntered out.

With no way of tracking Vulfelind or the giant (Vulfelind was the party tracker), the party decided to return to Sigimund's camp and demand the assistance of a tracker.

It doesn't go too poorly. Lord Sigimund is vastly amused by their request, and - given some recent difficulty with Baldaswind's morale - he decides that Baldaswind can aid them in finding Vulfelind. However, he warns them that making further demands on his time will end primarily in horrible fates, picked individually, for them all.

Vulfelind was still unaccounted for at the end of the session.

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Session 8
Day 3
Baldaswind seems relieved to get away, and they stealth to the area where the giants were, where she picks up the trail fairly quickly.

They discover that Vulfelind led the giant to the ogre camp.

Dead giants (including her pursuer) are staked out at the entrance. Dead ogres lay in ditches all around the ogre village. And sitting at a tree stump table, sketching on a map and talking to the Ogre Chief ... is Vulfelind.

True, she's manacled. And un-equipped. And looks half-starved. And a bit scared. And badly bruised. But hey! Alive!

The party takes a day to scout and observe. They determine that the giants wiped out a significant fraction of the ogre squads, and Vulfelind's henches (who managed to remain loyal to her, and possess Animal Husbandry) note that the boars have been over-eating. Enough to slow them down.

(The ogres feed them on a careful schedule; Vulfelind "adjusted" the feed lock.)

(And at this point, Vulfelind's player indulged in some unseemly begging for the party to save her, and had to be banished from the room. There were maybe two Blackleaf is dead jokes, which were also unseemly.)

Day 4
The party discussed. The party cornered Baldaswind and asked, point blank, if she would help them do something crazy.

She said yes. And minutes later, her tigers showed up as well.

They tried their original ambush plan, again, but with ditches dug to slow down the boars, and better target choices.

They fought in ranks. They targeted the boar-mounted champion first. And they killed the ever-loving snot out of two squads in short order. And then Chlodomer made sure he was spotted in his sparkling white best near the edge of camp before running away.

The Ogre Chief frothed at the mouth. The Ogre Chief jerked Vulfelind out of the tent, threw her behind him on his boar, and gave chase, calling out to his private guard.

The boar ate a ditch and fell. As he hit the ground, Ogre Chief ate four (out of many) thrown spears ... and then Vulfelind stabbed him in the back, and he went down for good.

This was the beginning of the end. The party took casualties, but, oh, the casualties they inflicted. (Worse, from an ogrish point of view, Vulfelind had been talking up the horrible power possessed by "the White-Plated Monster" and his alliance with giants.)

The village of ogres finally fled. Healing rolls were made. Vulfelind was fed. Slaves were freed.

And oh, the loot. In the end, they left loot behind (for the first time in the history of the Grim Fist), because they had no way to carry it ... and didn't want to risk the wilderness encounter charts again to come back for it. That gave Galswintha an opportunity to cherry-pick the giant and ogre hoards, however, which she enjoyed quite a bit: the party decided to name her Party Treasurer.

Some discussion later, they decided to ditch the Maze (Vulfelind and Galswintha, unaccustomed to my play style, actually asked if that was "okay," since I'd obviously put a lot of work into the Maze. Hah!) and head back to Orléans.

And Vulfelind ... managed a shaky, but solid-enough reaction roll with Baldaswind to hire her. (Side note: Baldaswind was Neutral, Sigimund Chaotic; and Baldaswind wasn't happy with Sigimund leaving her out to dry or ignoring her debt to her rescuers - and Vulfelind basically offered her better terms with a more alignment-compatible situation.)

Days 5 and 6
Orléans! More restore life and limb! A little spending to recover gear!

Threats of being locked in a closet if the Party Treasurer's first week included spending the entire treasury!

The party then spends the rest of the session sussing out rumors of "things to do" near Orléans, and finally decides on next session's goal: they want to try out the mercantile rules, now that they have the kind of cash required.

We look at the larger-scale map, and they ask about the route to the Greuthungi kingdom - it looks close, and there's an highway marked with runes.

... and I mention that the highway was an old dwarven highway, still in use two centuries prior (and marked by megaliths), but that the forces of Chaos had bubbled over from some event south of the highway and cut it off, and now it was abandoned. The only real route to Greuthungi is via Paris, much farther north, and much longer.

Grimoald asks if those rune-marked megaliths are the same sort as they saw in the center of the ogre village. And, in fact, that was one of them ... which lets them place the ogre village more precisely on the map, and indicates that there might be a more open pass to Greuthungi that no one else knows about.

And then we run out of session, and the players take their discussion to email, so we can get started quickly next time.

But their plan at the moment is to find out what's popular for shipping to Greuthungi this season, and beat the market there.

Thomas Weigel
Thomas Weigel's picture
Joined: 2012-06-20 11:57

Cameron wrote:
Some discussion later, they decided to ditch the Maze (Vulfelind and Galswintha, unaccustomed to my play style, actually asked if that was "okay," since I'd obviously put a lot of work into the Maze. Hah!) and head back to Orléans.

In another post, you explained how Pegasus Mountain came to be (pre-planned stuff, ad-libbed stuff, and stuff mapped out when the requirement came up), and as I was re-reading the story hour archive, I came across this bit.

Was the Maze similarly designed? I mean, did you map out the whole thing, or were you adding levels as you went?

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Ha! I am so lazy!

I laid out the first ten rooms of the Maze level 1, plus one connection to level 2, plus three rooms in level 2. Then I rolled the type of encounter (and species of encounter when appropriate) for another 30 rooms at each level (180 rooms total), but I didn't map them.

When the players cleared a few rooms, I took a break to extend the map in that direction by the same number of rooms, using my list of pre-rolled types.

I treated "Unique" as a code word for:

1d6
1-2. links to another level
3-5. puzzle
6. unique monster

The only real worry was if the players moved too rapidly in the "wrong" direction, which was why I pre-rolled the types of encounters. As soon as they go off the map, I would ad lib the map (taking notes, and not "blind" ad-libbing, it always has to make sense and fit into what's already there) and use the pre-rolled list to describe what they see (or what they run into).

If they ran into an un-mapped puzzle, trap, unique monster, or the like: I have TONS of traps, puzzles, monster ideas, and so on from games I ran years ago. All in a binder. Grab a page! Bam! Done!

So when Vulfelind and Galswintha were worrying about how much work I'd put into the Maze ... there were literally 12 rooms they had failed to explore that were actually mapped.

To reiterate: I am so lazy!

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

End Notes
Between ubiquitous healers (and especially Eldremer, who scampers amidst the party and usually manages the "within one round" bonus) and increased hit points, the party has had no deaths at all for a while. Even in this last session, with seven fallen members, no one rolled low enough to die. Just last month, I didn't run a single session without someone eating it.

Of course, other things have changed. The players have gotten more accustomed to old-school play. several party members lied through their teeth to save their skins. And they didn't fight until they had the advantage (and a weretiger on their side). And they stacked the Mortal Wounds odds as well as they could. And they've got more henches.

So, higher hit points and more healers has helped, but I think those are only part of the story.

Everyone leveled. That felt about right - this was a three-session monstrousity of a pseudo-war with giants and ogres and a local bandit king.

In addition to the goods and coin (some of which they had to leave behind), the party found two complete sets of magical mail, stored with two magical short swords. No one wanted the mail (everyone can either wear plate and wants the AC, or can't wear better than leather), and only Vulfelind and Lanthechilde wanted the short swords, so that worked out reasonably well.

Current party:

  • Party Reserve - 5,088 XP. Total XP shares 11.25 (Eldremer does not get an XP share); total treasure shares 6.65 (Eldremer, Shadow, Garal, and Salha do not get treasure shares).
  • Chlodomer d'Antioch - Lawful Fighter-4, 18, Command, Diplomacy, Fighting Style (Weapon and Shield). STR +2, CHA +3. Sword +3. Tall and young, with dark curls and soulful brown eyes ... and a ready smile. A poetic tongue and idealist's heart make him more dangerous out of combat than in. Wears a quilted white silk jack of plates, with gold threads and a jade-and-emerald Circled Eye over his heart; carries what is obviously an ancient dwarven kukri; and bears a simple copper ring with the Grim Fist sigil visible upon it. XP 19,348; 14,400 gold.
    • Grizzba the Goblin - Lawful Goblin Thief-4, 16, Caving, Mapping, Weapon Finesse. STR -1, DEX +2, INT +1, CHA -1. A very well-dressed goblin (black silk-covered leathers, fine boots, and a very jaunty beret) with a pointy sense of humor. XP 5,784; 2,910 gold. Morale +10 (Chlodomer CHA +3, Command +2, fanatic +2, levels +4, calamities -1)
    • Galagunde d'Orléans - Lawful Illusionist-3, 25, Familiar (Tarantula), Animal Husbandry x3. DEX -1, CON +1, INT +2, WIS -1, CHA +1. A sharp-nosed, bespectacled woman with a cautious, occasional smile. Outfitted in sturdy tunic and pants, hiking boots, pack, and walking stick. Does not seem to care much for appearances! XP 5,646; 1,760 gold. Morale +5 (Chlodomer CHA +3, Command +2, loyal +0, levels +1, calamities -1)
      • Eldremer the Bold - Lawful Tarantula Familiar, 3, Illusion Resistance, Healing x2, Mimicry. Move 120 ft. (40 climb). Bite 1d2 (mild poison, 1d6 damage, save for none).
  • Grimoald d'Antioch - Lawful Fighter-4, 23, Combat Reflexes, Fighting Style (Two-Handed), Naturalism. STR +3, WIS +1, CHA +1. Shield +3. As large and muscular as an ox, reasonably pretty ... a blond farmboy, all grown up. Neither Grimoald nor his henches are dressed fancy, although all have simple copper rings showing their affiliation with the Grim Fist. Bears an ancient dwarven quarter-moon shield, and a gash-like scar across his left cheekbone. XP 19,343; 17,900 gold.
    • Alaric du Châtel - Lawful Fighter-3, 19, Combat Reflexes, Healing, Fighting Style (Pole Weapon). STR +1, DEX +1, CON -1, WIS -2, CHA -1. A pudding-faced peasant with poor manners, but a strong back and a strong desire to help. He had a bit of brain trauma from an ogre's club, but it has been restored. XP 5,077; 3,370 gold. Morale +2 (Grimoald CHA +1, loyal +0, levels +3, calamities -2).
    • Rufismund le Ruge - Lawful Fighter-3, 30, Berserkergang, Fighting Style (Two-Handed), Weapon Focus (Swords). STR +1, CON +1, WIS -1, CHA -1. Used to have only one eye, and squints
      as if he is still missing it. A seasoned soldier with a mad glint in his eyes. XP 4,989; 1,750 gold. Morale +3 (Grimoald CHA +1, fanatical +2, levels +1, calamities -1).
  • Galswintha d'Antioch - Lawful Mage-5, 30, Elven Bloodline, Engineering x4. DEX +1, CON +2, INT +2, WIS -1, CHA +1. An apparent teenager with pointed ears, eyes the color of hoarfrost, ankle-length hair the color of a raven's wing, and a distant, wintry smile. She's smarter than you, and she knows it. How she is dressed depends upon her mood; she is currently renting space in Châtel for her wardrobe, which contains both finery and "more sensible adventuring silks." A copper ring upon her finger shows her membership in the Grim Fist. Has a damaged knee (max 6 stone, cannot force march). XP 20,153; 12,400 gold.
    • Gurund d'Orléans - Lawful Mage-3, 30, Alchemy x3, Knowledge (Natural Philosphy). STR -2, CON -1, INT +2, WIS +1, CHA +1. A salt-and-pepper gentleman in silk robes. "Your eternal servant, mademoiselle." Dressed in tailored silk robes of severe mien, and looks the part of an overly serious alchemist and apprentice sage. XP 5,786; 1,750 gold. Morale +0 (Galswintha CHA +1, loyal +0, levels +1, calamities -2).
    • Deuteria du Châtel - Neutral Mage-2, 24, Loremastery, Mapping, Navigation, Seafaring. STR +1, INT +2, WIS +1, CHA +1. A muscular, red-headed sailor looking for more adventure than her ship offered. Dressed in raucous silks that show far too much skin. Has
      some minor scarring which she has gotten a mermaid tattoo over. XP 3,286; 1,750 gold. Morale +0 (Galswintha CHA +1, loyal +1, levels +0, calamities -2).
  • Vulfelind de Saubruic - Neutral Thief-6, 16, Swashbuckling, Tracking x2, Weapon Finesse. DEX +3, INT -1, CHA +2. Short sword +1. Tall and slender, with enormous black eyes, dark olive skin, and black hair cropped as close as possible, with a calming, professional demeanor that far belies her years and a smile that is absolutely dazzling when it appears. Dressed in jet black leather armor made from the hide of a giant black widow (the hourglass symbol is still visible between the shoulder blades) and the softest imaginable suede gloves, boots, and jacket made from same. A copper ring declares her and her henches' membership in the Grim Fist. Has some long-term scarring which is stiff (-1 initiative). XP 20,353; 15,100 gold.
    • Thorismund du Châtel - Neutral Fighter-3, 22, Animal Husbandry, Command, Fighting Style (Two-Handed). STR +2, INT -2, WIS +1, CHA +2. A mercenary with craggy good looks and a kind heart, but no head for math. Dressed in well-made plate armor. Has minor scars (2) from his battles. XP 5,416; 2,870 gold. Morale +2 (Vulfelind CHA +2, loyal +0, levels +3, calamities -3).
    • Ingunde du Châtel - Neutral Fighter-3, 18, Animal Husbandry x2, Command, Weapon Finesse. STR -2, DEX +1, CON -1, INT +1, CHA +2. A stunningly good-looking mercenary and wife to Thorismund. Does the finances for the household. Dressed in plate and silks. Lost and
      restored an arm. XP 5,156; 2,870 gold. Morale +3 (Vulfelind CHA +2, loyal +0, levels +3, calamities -2).
    • Veneranda le Vulin - Neutral Cleric-3, 16, Elven Bloodline, Animal Training (Dogs), Beast Friendship. STR +0*, DEX +1, CON +1, INT +1, WIS +2*, CHA +1. * +1 with adulthood. Green, dryad's hair, emerald-colored eyes, and pointed ears. Petite and obviously elf-blooded, with a dog she is training. Dressed in flowing silk pantaloons, a jet black satin jacket threaded with silver, and a number of wrist and ankle bangles, a pair of earrings, and attractive but not excessively expensive rings. XP 3,257; 1,810 gold. Morale +5 (Vulfelind CHA +2, fanatical +2, levels +2, calamities -1).
      • Shadow - War Dog, HD 2+2, attack trained. Move 150, bite 1d6. A handsome, black beast with red, slavering jowls. Dressed in a fitted black satin jacket that matches his mistress, in which he looks absolutely adorable. Lost and restored an eye. XP 4,086. Morale +5 (Veneranda CHA +1, fanatic +2, levels +0, calamities +0, racial +2).
    • Baldaswind de Calais - Neutral Weretiger-5, 23, Beast Friendship, Running, Swashbuckling, Tracking. STR +1, DEX +3, CHA +2. Tiger form Move 180, attacks 2d6/1d6/1d6. A red-haired, green-eyed woman with faint tiger-like markings along her arms and thighs, and a ferocious smile. Likes to dress in loose silks. XP 56,000; 0 gold. Morale +2 (Vulfelind CHA +2, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0).
      • Garal - Tiger, HD 6. Move 150, bite 2d6/claw 1d6/claw 1d6. Surprise -2 in woods. The larger of the two tigers, Garal is a handsome and vain beast with a scarlet scarf tied around his neck. XP 28,000. Morale +5 (Baldaswind CHA +2, fanatic +2, levels +0, calamities +0, racial +1).
      • Salha - Tiger, HD 6. Move 150, bite 2d6/claw 1d6/claw 1d6. Surprise -2 in woods. A slender and graceful tiger with a scarlet scarf tied around her neck, and an air of casual arrogance. XP 28,000. Morale +5 (Baldaswind CHA +2, fanatic +2, levels +0, calamities +0, racial +1).
  • Lanthechilde d'Antioch - Neutral Thief-5, 20, Healing x3, Intimidation, Sniping. STR +1, DEX +2, CON +1, INT +1, WIS +1, CHA +2. A low-level version of Rebecca de Mornay's character in The Three Musketeers, before she has her heart broken. Soft-spoken and kind, but a little too clever with the daggerwork. Dressed in fine leather, or an aristocratic dress, according to the occasion, and a Grim Fist copper ring. Short sword +1. XP 17,853; 16,600 gold.
    • Harberic d'Orléans - Neutral Thief-3, 22, Alertness, Art (Sculpture) x2. CON +1, INT +1, WIS +1. A wild-eyed, wild-haired artiste who supplements his meager living as an artist with larceny. XP 2,918; 1,750 gold. Morale +1 (Lanthechilde CHA +2, grudging -1, levels +2, calamities -2).
Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Absolutely fantastic. These are some of my favorite actual play reports ever. I love how you've put the players into situations totally above their league and they've had to use cunning and treachery. For a party of 3rd and 4th level characters to wipe out hill giants and ogres is just amazing.

Great stuff.

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Thank you! I think this last two sessions, the players really got it.

There were some half-hearted plans to go back and wipe out that hill giant in the Maze, too, but then common sense returned - there's no handy ogre village to use to kill off the Maze hill giant.

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Session 9

Months 3, 4, and 5
The party decided to build a small-ish caravan to take advantage of what is probably a safer-than-usual highway between Orléans and Atanung, a city about which they know very little, but which is part of the Greuthungi kingdom and therefore may have a high demand for silk, coffee, and iron goods.

They aim for silk, and Chlodomer persuades two merchants to sell them 28 loads of silk for 39,200 gold. Then they commission five wagons and ten heavy draft horses, and end up paying the first merchant for the use of his warehouse to store the silk he just sold them.

Wagons and horses acquired, they hire ten longbowmen and twenty slingers, an armorer, stablehands, and drivers. Galswintha ups the cost by insisting on decent quality rations for everyone.

Along the way, they get pretty lucky on random encounters, and the ogre village was the only real threat I'd mapped there. Of some interest, a dozen pegasi were spotted in the air, heading toward a distant mountain ... and Galswintha took notes. We'll see if she remembers her obsession in the future.

They have a rough time selling the silk in Atanung, even though demand is high, but they finally manage to sell the last load. Even after mercenary costs, up-front investments, tolls, stabling fees, and so on, they managed 42,000 gold in profit from the deal!

However, only those already close to leveling, levelled.

Knowing their home market better, they haunted the market for a while until they could acquire 50 loads of porcelain for 35,000 gold, and then set off for the return trip.

Month 6, Days 1 and 2
... and on the first day, six giant scorpions boil up out of a hole in the ground and attack, enraged by the ground vibrations of the caravan. The slingers fall back, demoralized; Grimoald dies of poison in the first round; and the front wagon comes to a stop when a horse dies.

Scorpions are tough, especially in a rout, but the party finally puts them down, and marches back to Atanung to restore life for Grimoald.

Grimoald regains life, but loses his sight in the bargain, and decides to retire, passing his dwarven quarter-moon shield (still party property per agreements) over to Chlodomer. Galswintha arranges an address with Grimoald to deliver his Grim Fist ring when it is completed.

Rufismund le Ruge, fanatically loyal to the man who restored his sight, and a bit less interested in mad adventures, stays on with Grimoald as a retainer and life assistant (this has nothing, nothing at all, to do with the fact that Grimoald is still loaded with wealth). Alaric du Châtel, shaking his head, leaves and takes the safer route back home, via the north and Paris.

The temple that Grimoald is healed at has a young cleric, Shadagrunde d'Atanung, who wishes to see the world and approaches the party to see if they will let him join. They do!

And so the party goes on.

Month 6, Weeks 1 and 2
The way back is harrowing. The party fights off two bat swarms and brigands, a pack of hellhounds (the Grim Fist unanimously decide to not explore the fissure from which the hellhounds erupted), and a phase tiger.

A giant hawk is also spotted veering off, and a grizzly bear is "talked" to by Veneranda before wandering off.

And then the worst: three basilisks, a mere day away from civilization.

The petrified giant owl is a good hint, and the party takes it - everyone (mercenaries, drivers, everyone) switches to one-handed weapons or tasks, and covers their eyes with the other hand (keeping a small glimpse downward to watch where they are going), slowing the caravan to a crawl; those who have mirrors, use them.

The basilisks (all three) get surprise, but fail to catch anyone's eyes. One bites Vulfelind, who makes the coin-flip save, and the other two try to bite Chlodomer, but fail to get purchase on his armor.

Shadagrunde casts bane. And then things get messy and violent.

Vulfelind and Chlodomer both withdraw, clearing the field for archers and slingers to blindly fling their missiles all over the place; and then Lanthechilde attempts sheer insanity - she jumps a basilisk, wrestles it, and then asks if she can use a second wrestle attempt to force an eye open in front of her mirror.

Natural 20, and the basilisk's save is a 2. And its petrification save is a 5. Bam.

And then one of the other basilisks bites Lanthechilde, and she turns to stone, too.

Eventually, the party triumphs.

They find the nest just off the road, collect the one human statue in the nest along with their own statues (and end up dumping some porcelain), and continue on to Orléans.

Month 6, Day 15
They sell the porcelain almost immediately, for 67,200 gold - and spend 13,500 gold on stone to flesh, and a bit more on bonuses to mercenaries.

Restoring the human statue they found has a benefit, however. She turns out to be the daughter of the local thieves' guild leader, and as a reward, the party is given four amethyst cylinder seals, each depicting a different ancient and powerful elemental granting wisdom to the famous sage Elwinoald the Wise, and a chunk of untraceable gold (metagame: just enough to bring their wealth baseline back into sync with their XP numbers).

They decide to keep the scrolls for now, rather than reap the XP rewards of selling them in a market where they are potentially "hot."

There was another round of hench hiring ...

End Session
This was a long session - almost seven hours - but everyone wanted to see the venture through to the end. Next time, I'll remember to break it off at the mid-point, before more wares are bought :-).

As a side note, it has gotten really hard to permanently kill anyone with a Class II market nearby.

XP: I have been divvying up XP incorrectly. After discussion with the players, and because I wanted something quick, I decided to just increase everyone to a flat starting point (with the usual XP +%), and we'll track it correctly from here. I adjusted the henches proportionally.

Henches: I don't have any players with less than a 13 CHA (+1). The party, including henches, is now 34 strong (26 humanoids, 3 dogs, 2 familiars, 2 tigers, and a dire wolf in a pear tree). My initiative list looks like a who's who of Old Frankish, and I've started inventing names out of spite.

Mercantile Ventures: In all, I think this worked out reasonably well. The PCs really did their homework on picking what goods to take to Atanung, and combined with some lucky rolls, did quite well. The fact that the whole trip took 5.5 months and netted only a little XP (relatively speaking) was also a good thing, in my mind.

The PCs have definitely grown. Chlodomer is holding up the fighter end of things; the shield and sword have made him darn near invincible (AC 11, attack 2+, 1d6+8 damage!). Vulfelind has proven adept at managing henches in battle - we've been calling her the top pokemon trainer - even where Chlodomer might have slightly better hench quality. Lanthechilde is rocking the thief side of things. (Shadagrunde has only been around for one session, but "the cleric brigade" promises fun times).

Galswintha has been falling behind; I've suggested taking a few weeks off to study new spells - she doesn't actually have any third-level spells in her repertoire right now. She's been more interested in managing party finances, but a fireball or similar would have helped a lot in some of their sticky situations.

Current party:

  • Chlodomer d'Antioch - Lawful Fighter-6, 18, Command, Diplomacy, Fighting Style (Weapon and Shield), Leadership, Military Strategy. STR +2, CHA +3. Sword +3, Shield +3. XP 35,200; 28,400 gold.
    • Grizzba - Lawful Goblin Thief-5, 16, Caving, Mapping, Riding (Wolf), Weapon Finesse. STR -1, DEX +2, INT +1, CHA -1. XP 17,600; 4,460 gold. Morale +11.
      • Grace d'Antioch - Lawful Human, 17, Profession (Scribe) x3. STR +1, INT +1, CHA +1. A convention-defying young woman fresh out of university, with a strong arm, a ready mind, and a smile like sunshine. XP 0; 0 gold. Morale -2.
    • Galagunde d'Orléans - Lawful Illusionist-4, 25, Familiar (Tarantula), Animal Husbandry x3. DEX -1, CON +1, INT +2, WIS -1, CHA +1. XP 17,600; 3,510 gold. Morale +8.
      • Eldremer the Bold - Lawful Tarantula Familiar, 3, Illusion Resistance, Healing x2, Mimicry. Move 120 ft. (40 climb). Bite 1d2 (mild poison, 1d6 damage, save for none).
      • Agalinda d'Orléans - Lawful Human, 19, Navigation, Tracking. STR -1, DEX +1, CON +1, INT +2, WIS -1. A studious young lady who wants to be an illusionist, and is apprenticing herself to Galagunde. XP 0; 0 gold. Morale +1.
    • Amarante le Certaine - Lawful Mage-3, 32, Familiar (Pygmy Marmoset), Knowledge (Astronomy) x3 (Sage), Theology. CON +2, INT +3, CHA +2. A quiet, short, and stout woman dressed in the somber blacks of the Minor Clergy of Stars. XP 5,000; 0 gold. Morale +5.
      • Leoncito - Lawful Marmoset Familiar, 8, Healing x3, Magical Engineering, Navigation. Move 150 ft. (90 ft. climb). Can pick locks as a thief.
    • Haramer d'Orléans - Lawful Fighter-3, 22, Command, Fighting Style (Pole Weapons), Leadership. STR +1, CHA +2. A grizzled but charismatic sergeant. XP 4,000; 0 gold. Morale +5 (CHA +3, Command +2, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0)
  • Galswintha d'Antioch - Lawful Mage-5, 30, Elven Bloodline, Engineering x4. DEX +1, CON +2, INT +2, WIS -1, CHA +1. XP 35,200; 18,700 gold.
    • Gurund d'Orléans - Lawful Mage-4, 30, Alchemy x3, Knowledge (Natural Philosphy). STR -2, CON -1, INT +2, WIS +1, CHA +1. XP 17,600; 3,500 gold. Morale +1.
      • Geofferic d'Orléans - Lawful Heavy Infantry, 22, Profession (Bodyguard). STR +1, CON +2, WIS +1. A mutton-chopped side of beef dressed in plate and built for taking hits. XP 0; 0 gold. Morale +3 (CHA +1, fanatical +2, levels +0, calamities +0)
    • Deuteria du Châtel - Neutral Mage-4, 24, Loremastery, Mapping, Navigation, Seafaring. STR +1, INT +2, WIS +1, CHA +1. XP 13,200; 3,500 gold. Morale +1.
    • Merovia d'Orléans - Lawful Mage-4, 51, Elven Bloodline, Alchemy x3. STR -1, DEX -2, CON +1, INT +1, CHA +1. An adult of recent vintage with pointed ears, short-cropped raven hair, and dark blue eyes. XP 10,000; 0 gold. Morale +0.
  • Vulfelind de Saubruic - Neutral Thief-6, 16, Swashbuckling, Tracking x2, Weapon Finesse. DEX +3, INT -1, CHA +2. Short sword +1. Has some long-term scarring which is stiff (-1 initiative). XP 35,200; 25,400 gold.
    • Thorismund du Châtel - Neutral Fighter-5, 22, Animal Husbandry, Command, Fighting Style (Two-Handed). STR +2, INT -2, WIS +1, CHA +2. XP 17,600; 4,420 gold. Morale +7.
    • Ingunde du Châtel - Neutral Fighter-5, 18, Animal Husbandry x2, Command, Weapon Finesse. STR -2, DEX +1, CON -1, INT +1, CHA +2. XP 16,000; 4,420 gold. Morale +7.
      • Louis d'Orléans - Lawful Human, 17, Profession (Accountant) x3. CON +2, INT +1. A neat, tidy man who does neat, tidy work. Now the house accountant for Ingunde and Thorismund. XP 0; 0 gold. Morale +2.
    • Veneranda le Vulin - Neutral Cleric-5, 16, Elven Bloodline, Animal Husbandry, Animal Training (Dogs), Beast Friendship, Divine Blessing. STR +0*, DEX +1, CON +1, INT +1, WIS +2*, CHA +1. * +1 with adulthood. XP 13,200; 3,560 gold. Morale +7.
      • Shadow - War Dog, HD 3+3. XP 6,000. Morale +6.
      • Silver - War Dog, HD 2+2. XP 3,000. Morale +6.
      • Sable - War Dog, HD 2+2. XP 3,000. Morale +6.
    • Baldaswind de Calais - Neutral Weretiger-5, 23, Beast Friendship, Running, Swashbuckling, Tracking. STR +1, DEX +3, CHA +2. Tiger form Move 180, attacks 2d6/1d6/1d6. XP 66,000; 1,550 gold. Morale +2.
      • Garal - Tiger, HD 6. XP 33,000. Morale +5.
      • Salha - Tiger, HD 6. XP 33,000. Morale +5.
    • Almalinda d'Orléans - Neutral Human, 15, Animal Husbandry x3, Animal Training (Horses). STR -2, INT +1*, CHA +2. * +1 with adulthood. A very excitable brunette who loves nothing quite so much as horses. XP 0; 0 gold. Morale +4.
  • Lanthechilde d'Antioch - Neutral Thief-6, 20, Healing x3, Intimidation, Sniping. STR +1, DEX +2, CON +1, INT +1, WIS +1, CHA +2. Short sword +1. XP 35,200; 26,900 gold.
    • Harberic d'Orléans - Neutral Thief-5, 22, Alertness, Art (Sculpture) x3, Swashbuckling. CON +1, INT +1, WIS +1. XP 12,000; 3,300 gold. Morale +4.
    • Medonic d'Orléans - Neutral Thief-2, 20, Trapping, Trap Finding. STR -2, DEX +1, WIS -1, CHA +1. A nervous little man with very proper attire. Finds Harberic unnerving. XP 1,250; 0 gold. Morale +2.
  • Shadagrunde d'Atanung - Lawful Cleric-5, 20, Command, Engineering x2, Leadership, Military Strategy. DEX +2, INT +1, WIS +3, CHA +1. An extremely cheerful convert of the Lady, with a driving desire to see the world. XP 17,200; 9,200 gold.
    • Merideth le Chocolat - Lawful Cleric-1, 22, Healing x2. WIS +3, CHA +3. A small, dark-skinned woman with ankle-length platinum hair and a constant, ready grin. XP 0; 0 gold. Morale +1 (CHA +1, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0)
    • Grimaric d'Orléans - Lawful Cleric-2, 35, Labor (Farmer), Healing. STR -1, CON +1, WIS +1, CHA +1. A grim-faced, pot-bellied older man with farm-worked sinew. XP 1,500; 0 gold. Morale +1 (CHA +1, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0)
    • Aggulita the Goblin - Lawful Cleric-2, 14, Animal Training (Wolf), Animal Training (Dire Wolf), Beast Friendship, Riding (Wolf). INT +2, WIS +1. Dire Wolf mount (AC 3, HD 4+1, Move 150, bite 2d4). Short, even for a goblin, an obvious runt who found the Lady early in life and fled his origins. XP 1,500; 0 gold. Morale +1 (CHA +1, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0)
Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Great stuff! Sounds like an epic 7 hour session.

With a Class II town, most character death will not be permanent, but as you saw with Grimoald, the side effects of Restore Life and Limb can end an adventurer's career just the same. As side effects accumulate, the roll just gets harder and harder. In most ACKS campaigns, the players' attitudes tend to follow an arc like this:

  1. Restore Life and Limb will bring me back to life! I'm invincible.
  2. The minor side effects of Restore Life and Limb are annoying.
  3. The major side effects of Restore Life and Limb are becoming very troubling. Perhaps I should retire.
  4. I am a grotesque monster. I wish I WAS dead. 

Speaking of dead, is Shadagrund controlled by the same player as the now-retired Grimoald?

Do you have a copy of Domains at War? It sounds like, at the rate your party is advancing, they'll soon be ready for it!

 

 

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Radegund -> Lanthechilde.
Grimoald -> Shadagrunde.
Chlodomer, Vulfelind, and Galswintha have managed to survive the whole game so far.

I will be acquiring DaW when it comes out in final form, but I don't have a copy now. Same for Companion. Nothing against them, but I'm not comfortable with beta rules in my campaign.

KarlM
Patreon SupporterDwimmermount BackerDomains At War BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters BackerBarbarian Conquerors of Kanahu BackerACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook Backer
Joined: 2012-04-13 18:21

Of some interest, a dozen pegasi were spotted in the air, heading toward a distant mountain ... and Galswintha took notes. We'll see if she remembers her obsession in the future.


-Cameron

Ha! Of such stuff legends are made....

KarlM
Patreon SupporterDwimmermount BackerDomains At War BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters BackerBarbarian Conquerors of Kanahu BackerACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook Backer
Joined: 2012-04-13 18:21

This thread and the next one show pretty clearly that this is a game where you and the players are enthusiastically engaged. It seems to me you've brought some very valuable content to the table in the process of working up that mutual enthusiasm. The references to names, languages, political backgrounds, tectical setups and so on are all signs IMO of an excellent match between prep and play.

I have a question about that prep: at this point in the game, how much had you prepped about 'Pegasus Mountain'?

On possibility I can see is that maybe the pegasi were a rolled encounter and you knew there was a mountain nearby so you described the pegasi as flying in that direction.

Alternatively (or additionally?) you had created the pegasus mountain lair when building the regional map before this point? So when rolling the pegasi encounter it's neatly apparent they might come from the mountain.

At what point did you decide there were additional ruins on that mountain?

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

KarlM wrote:
The references to names, languages, political backgrounds, tectical setups and so on are all signs IMO of an excellent match between prep and play.

Thank you.

KarlM wrote:
I have a question about that prep: at this point in the game, how much had you prepped about 'Pegasus Mountain'?

On possibility I can see is that maybe the pegasi were a rolled encounter and you knew there was a mountain nearby so you described the pegasi as flying in that direction.

Pretty much exactly that.

I have a high-level overview of the world showing major cities and kingdoms, general terrain type, and so on. I map out six-mile hexes as I need them, mostly.

I rolled pegasus, neither side surprised, spot distance was far away, and the reaction roll was indifferent. So the pegasi fled rather than risk anything.

My notes for the ancient, abandoned dwarven highway listed an ancient, failing magical effect that prevented monsters (these days, it only prevents lairs), so it made sense that pegasi might forage there; and there was a mountain two hexes south on my overview map, so ...

That was pretty much all I had at that point in the game.

KarlM wrote:
At what point did you decide there were additional ruins on that mountain?

"Mountain" pretty much means "abandoned dwarven ruins" in this setting; dwarves owned almost all mountains, and when they disappeared, the structures were left behind. So I knew there would be at least a fortress there.

I actually mapped out the fortress between sessions 10 and 11 (and I may have thrown an extra encounter out in session 10 to buy time ... heh).

When I actually sat down to map it, I made a cliff for the pegasi; the made the mountain very vertical, so I had an idea of the area being a bit more tectonically unstable, so I noted that the area was a magma bulge. I made some vague notes about fire elementals, lignemaids, salamanders, etc.

Then I started rolling up the fortress monsters and treasures. One treasure was a map; rolling that, I got an efreet bottle.

Then I had a brainstorm for a microdungeon with a fire-and-earth theme, took my earlier notes, threw in golems and a big rock trap, and had the map direct a path to the microdungeon.

Then I mapped out rest of the mountain. I gave it a vertical pillar of magma in the center. I put the dwarven fortress right next to the pillar, along with ceramic pipes and heat taps. Then I put the secondary dungeon on top of the pillar - a lake of magma at the top tip, beneath a granite dome.

Of course, that put the fortress below the secondary dungeon, which ended up having an emergent property: the Grim Fist dug a hole and flooded the fortress!

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

A brilliant explanation of Judging technique!

Granger44
Dwimmermount BackerDomains At War Backer
Joined: 2012-01-05 20:42

Loving this. Here's hoping there's more Maze Du Châtel posts coming. I'd love to see your adventure notes and maps when this all comes to a completion.

Cameron
Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Here are the continuing chronicles of the Grim Fist party.