[Mercenary, Liberator, Tyrant] Tyche's Favourites

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Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13
[Mercenary, Liberator, Tyrant] Tyche's Favourites

For the longest time, I’ve wanted to run a straight historical game set in the early Hellenistic era, when all the bowl of the world was in turmoil as Alexander the Great’s former companions each vied to make himself master of the empire. It’s a period in which a lot of the various tropes common to fantasy; a fallen empire, numerous warring states, opportunities for adventurous types willing to risk their lives for glory, a common spoken language and universal culture understood by many people, a well-known pantheon of gods; all hold true. It's perfect for low fantasy of the sort I've been itching to run.

Changes in our group (like the arrival of a newborn) have shifted things around ago, meaning I've ended up being able to take the GMing mantle on for a bit, which I'm really pleased about. My hack is tentatively titled Mercenary, Liberator, Tyrant.

As always, recordings of our sessions will be podcasted on our site. On to the detail!


The setting

It's 300BC and the Hellenistic world has been upended and the pieces and players in the struggle for Alexander the Great's empire shaken once again. At the Battle of Ipsus all of the other powers united, briefly, in order to deal with the common threat to them all: the Antigonid kingdom of Antigonos and his son Demetrios Poliorcetes. Antigonos was slain on the field and Demetrios fled for his life, and the victors carved up their holdings in Asia Minor between themselves. Thus the Diadochi were reduced from five to four: Kassandros in Greece and Macedon; Lysimachos in Thrace and western Asia Minor; Seleukos in eastern Asia Minor, Syria and Persia; Ptolemaios in Egypt.

All the player characters (PCs) were involved in some fashion in the battle, and indeed some in the other major actions leading up to it. It is in the aftermath that they are made an offer to escape the unending political strife and travel west to one of the furthest flung parts of the Hellenistic world: Massalia.

The earliest Greek outpost on the coast of Gallia (France), founded by colonists from Phokaia, it became a local power in its own right. The gateway into Gallia for goods from Italia, Sikelia and beyond, it was a commercial rival of the Carthaginians and Etruscans, an ally of the burgeoning Roman Republic and often in conflict with the local Celto-Ligurian tribes. While able to hold its own, it never really became a regional Hellenistic power like Lysimachos' Thracian Kingdom or the Bosporan Kingdom on the Euxine sea. That was history as it was; this game is explicitly alternate history in that respect, if the PCs take hold of the region and do something more with it, then obviously we will be changing what "really happened" and that's fine.

It's a significant place that is comfortably distant from the ambitions of the Diadochi and at a time long before the ascent of Rome, which at this time is only a power within Latium and central Italia, and locked in a long conflict with the Samnites. Indeed, the major power are the Carthaginians, who are focused primarily on trade and economic exploitation of the region, not conquest. As a maritime empire, anything the PCs do at sea is likely to draw their interest, along with anything interfering with their established interests. The very act of travelling to Massalia has subtly altered the power balance and will draw a response. A fading power still with enough influence to cause trouble are the Etruscans of northern Italia. Syrakousai on the island Sikelia to the south is the leading light of Magna Graecia, one of the largest cities in the west and could be ally or rival.

Of course the Keltoi are not to be disregarded either; Gallia is claimed by them and as a people they have spread across much of Europa, displacing or dominating the local peoples whenever they have come into contact with them. This is very much a game about that meeting of Greek and Celtic cultures, with Massalia the nexus of that interchange.

Just a brief note on historical games, my approach is largely going to be one of using history in the gaps; we have few surviving sources on the period in general, and fewer still on our specific location, so at best they're going to be suggestive of the broad swathes of what was going on. Where I've got any hint of things happening, I'll try to use them insofar as they don't interact with what the PCs are doing. On the other hand, if the PCs take a hand in those events, they change if it makes sense for things to come out differently. History is the grounding in which everything happens, and an inspiration providing some motive force, but it is not a straightjacket determining how things will out regardless of what happens in the game.


The player characters

So on to the PCs themselves. Ironically, for a game ostensibly about Greek culture, there's only one Hellene, and even then he's a Macedonian. That's getting ahead of ourselves, though. The critical thing I wanted to avoid here was the sort of connotation that is often carried in historical games - that you can only have games about nobodies who die prematurely of impacted molars, disease, accident and war. This was an age of colourful characters and to play a game which ignored that would do the period a great disservice.

So from the beginning it was clear in my mind that we would have larger-than-life heroes, capable people who had already established themselves with a reputation, and critically their own retinue of followers. Without bodyguards, attendants, agents and other hangers-on, they would not be taken seriously by the people who matter in the world, invariably aristocrats with landed interests.

Four PCs wandering around unattended in the classic RPG mould would be taken to be vagabonds or some other sort of undesirable. Having their own people around them makes them leaders and people of significance. It gives a little bit of cushioning against the potential lethality of a world without any real magic whatsoever. Both because there can be bodies between the PCs and danger, but also because there are "backup characters" who are already established who might take up the PC mantle should anything untoward happen to the any of the main four. It also opens the possibility of some troupe-style play, where certain situations might call for a player to use one of their main character's retinue for a scenario where they might be more appropriate.

Thus an additional overhead on the usual process of character generation was the creation of a horde of NPCs, from 5-7 individuals for each PC. Most of this was borne by me after taking outline ideas from the players as to what they wanted, then we had some iterations back and forth until we arrived at a set they were broadly happy with.

Without further ado, here are the heroes!

Rhyanidd - a princess of the Lugii, from the most northerly fringes of Keltoi influence bordering with Germania, she is an experienced warrior and warleader. Like many aristocrats amongst her people, she is an excellent horsewoman and has served in the role of mercenary cavalry since her mid-teens in the wars of the Greeks. She was on the winning side at Ipsus, seizing much plunder. Her bodyguard are devoted to her, they have earned wealth, status and renown following her (and in some cases, freedom).

Meshullum - an Alexandrian Jew originally from Tyre (evacuated as a child from the siege that resulted in its destruction at the hands of Alexander), perhaps it was that early dislocation that led him to his wandering lifestyle. He is a mercenary captain of archers, having been involved in all the major conflicts, since the Gaza campaign, and changed sides more than once. His retinue is comprised of his most loyal archers, and his nephew, a doctor from the Alexandrian school.

Septimus - a Latin from central Italia, he is an enterprising man who considers himself the foremost merchant of war in the Hellenistic world. He provided Demetrios with siege equipment during his famous siege of Rhodes. But he is no idealist allied to the Antigonid cause, he goes where the profit is. His retinue comprises agents, savants and a trio of Cilician pirates.

Philipos - a giant of a man from Macedon, he was a hypaspist like his father before him, wearing a fortune in heirloom armour purchased with Persian plunder. On the battlefield he is bronze god of war, almost impervious to harm. He was on the losing side at Ipsus, but came away with his honour intact. His retinue comprises his closest companions; Greek officers, a dubious Ionian, his valet and his nephew.

You can see much more detail (including both the PC's stats and that of the individual members of the retinues) on our campaign wiki.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

I know I like seeing this sort of thing, so here's the character's stat-blocks. I'll post their retinues separately so we don't end up with an impenetrable wall of text.


Rhyanidd

Warlord 5, Move 120’, AC 7/8, HD 5, hp , Att 4*+/7+, Saves: Fort 9+ Ref 12+ Will 13+, Init +1
Dmg: 1d6+4 (sword), 1d6+3 (spear), 1d4+3 (dagger), 1d6+2 (javelin)
Str +2, Con +2, Int +2, Cha +2.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Combat Reflexes, Command, Diplomacy, Fighting Style (weapon and shield), Intimidation, Leadership, Military Strategy, Performance (Rhetoric), Prophecy, Riding, Theology (Druidic), Weapon Focus (Swords and daggers).
Languages: Celtic, Germanic, Koine Greek
Equipment: Scale thorax (exceptional), medium shield, longsword (exceptional)*, spear (exceptional)*, dagger, javelins (3). Enc 6/7 stone.


Several interesting points to note about Rhyanidd. The original concept was "warrior princess". When I told the player that was a perfectly valid and appropriate concept, she smiled. She's not just a princess (Celtic warriors are generally aristocrats anyway, but she's a prominent one), she's also a priest, having been trained by a famous ovate and given to visions in her dreams. To her people, she's the real deal, a proper druid touched by the gods. She's also had instruction in Greek rhetoric, which should be amusing the first few times she addresses bodies of Greeks and surprises them by being able to speak, gesture and structure arguments in a persuasive way. And of course she's a warleader and a skilled combatant and commander.

She spent quite a lot of her starting money on improving her retinue's gear, which is one of the reasons they have near-fanatical Morale scores.


Her bodyguard:

Sabra - One of Rhyanidd's closest friends from childhood, the two of them grew up together sharing the same training, competing for the same boys and sharing the spoils of the same raids. Strangers could be forgiven for thinking them sisters in a certain light. She is a thoughtful and serious warrior, not one given to boastfulness, but quietly confident in her own prowess.

Bisalkes - A Gallo-Thracian who was originally a slave taken after a skirmish with the Boii. He is the bodyguard's scout.

Tasciovanus - a bard in the old tradition, he went to study with the ovates of Alba. He is composing an ever-expanding epic based on the exploits of the band. Handsome, charming, but also impulsive.

Liath - A Boii warrior taken in the same skirmish as Bisalkes. Left for dead by her comrades and tended back to health, on waking and discovering she had not been made a slave, she swore her life and her sword to Rhyanidd.

Esselt - younger cousin to Rhyanidd, tall, athletic, attractive but headstrong and eager for glory. She believes herself more capable than she really is.

Berdic - the youngest warrior in the band who often ends up being co-opted to do all the menial chores around camp for the bodyguard.

Saskia - originally one of Rhyanidd's tenant farmers from home, the group's groom and the closest thing to the princess' valet.

 

 

Meshullum

Explorer 5, Move 120’, AC 5, HD 5, hp 18, Att 6+/1*+, Saves: Fort 12+ Ref 10+ Will 13+, Init +4
Dmg: 1d6+5 (bow), 1d6+3 (sword), 1d4+3 (dagger), 1d6+3 (spear)
Str+1, Dex +3, Int+2, Cha+2.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Fighting Style (Bow), Gambling, Intimidation, Manual of Arms, Navigation, Precise Shooting, Riding, Skirmishing, Weapon Focus (bow).
Languages: Koine Greek, Aramaic, Egyptian, Libyan
Equipment: Composite Bow (exceptional)*, leather armour (good), short sword, small shield, dagger, spear. Light warhorses (2), ten light riding horses. Enc 3/5 stone.


Meshullum is very much a man of his times. A Hellenised Jew who mostly pays lip service to his faith (his native tongue is Greek!) and matured in one of the most modern cities in the world, Alexandria. What's ironic there is that he was born in Tyre, and it was Alexander's siege of that city when he was a small boy that led to him leaving when the civilians were evacuated. Only to then eventually reside in a city built by that same man who destroyed his old one. He's very much the mercenary, money is what motivates him and he doesn't really care who he works for as long as he and his men are paid. He's changed sides more times than he can count, but that's the prerogative of a valuable person like a captain of archers.

You'll also note he is hideously good with a bow, and is an accomplished horse-archer as well as foot-archer. Though his archers are all of the foot variety, some of whom have served on ships. He's also a trainer of archers, and has a little bow-making craft workshop amongst his retinue. Give them the raw materials to work with, and they can churn out units of archers.


Meshullum's retinue:

Talamenes of Krete - a grizzled, hot-tempered, foul-mouthed native of that isle famous for its archers. As ready with an insult as with his sword, and a teller of tall tales, many of which are embellishments of his times with Meshullum.

Abraham - Meshullum's nephew is an accomplished man in his own right, a skilled doctor educated at the renowned Alexandrian school. He is knowledgeable about poisons, herbs and tonics, and is an inducted priest of Asklepios.

Gelon of Krete - an excellent archer and athlete, Gelon is a handsome youth with idealistic dreams of owning his own ship one day. He loves the sea and has served with distinction in a number of naval actions. He has a tempestuous on-again, off-again relationship with Talamenes.

Zeteres - a Numidian hunter turned bandit when his hunting grounds were stripped of game by a passing Carthaginian army. With nothing left to feed his family, he hunted the mercenaries instead, waging a one-man guerilla campaign for several weeks and raiding their supply dumps. When a band of trackers led by Meshulam finally caught up to him, he offered him a job instead of killing him.

Juba - a Libyan mercenary who first sold his skills in Alexandria and served in the Gaza campaign. There he crossed paths with Talamenes, and was one of the first people they looked up when forming this band of archers.

Nefermenu - a native Aegyptian who escaped the crushing poverty of life in his rural village after demonstrating his skill to Meshullum when the captain's unit was passing through. Using a humble self bow he hit five targets dead centre with five arrows. This new life is a grand adventure for him, every day offers many wonders and more regular meals than his old life.

 

 

Septimus

Diplomat 5, Move 120’, AC 7/8, HD 5, hp 18, Att 7+/6+, Saves: Fort 11+ Ref 11+ Will 12+, Init +2, Dmg: 1d6+1 (sword), 1d6+1 (spear), 1d4 (dagger)
Dex+1, Int+3, Wis+1, Cha+3.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Bargaining, Bribery, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Military Strategy, Navigation, Performance (Rhetoric), Profession (Merchant), Riding, Seafaring II, Seduction, Siege Engineering II.
Languages: Latin, Aramaic, Celtic, Iberian, Koine Greek, Phoenican,
Equipment: Scale thorax (exceptional), medium shield, shortsword (exceptional), spear (exceptional), daggers (3). Three light riding horses. Enc 5/5 stone.


Septimus is the means by which the other PCs are pulled into the starting scenario; he's a "merchant of war" (another product of the age) and in that capacity has procured the PCs for Menesthios, a Massalian aristocrat. He's using one of the homebrewed classes, which is built on a Fighter frame, but with Thief-like bits and a load of extra Proficiencies. I think the end result is quite satisfying; he's not a frontline combatant, but nor is he a non-combatant. He relies on his gear (but even moreso his people) to get him through a fight. More than that, though, as we've already seen in the game, he relies on his intellect and silver tongue to negotiate trouble.

His people are a bit of a strange mix. He's got two of the foremost savants, a pair of assassins and a trio of "independent mariners". The latter three are mostly combatant, though they're also useful if he's captaining a ship, since they're a trained sailor and two trained oarsmen. The youngest can even repair ships.


His retinue:

Nyssa - a beautiful Persian woman with the grace of a dancer, many assume she is a courtesan, few suspect she is a killer. Her education and bearing suggest an aristocratic upbringing.

Nikeratos of Kyrene - a half-Libyan philosopher with interests in a wide range of topics, he was a contemporary of Hegesias and Anniceris in the Cyrenaic School, and recently studied under Epicurius in Athens. He claims to hold no allegiance to any particular school of thought, finding both merits and flaws in all. He's one of the few men [Chris' character] has ever met who is able to match wits with him.

Cleandros of Syrakousai - A multi-talented engineer, smith and miner, his large build belies a shining intellect and shrewd appreciation of form, function and value. He and Nikeratos are regular sparring partners in debating the value of a strong body amongst other well-trod areas of contention between them.

Isokrates of Samos - a bland and softly spoken Ionian with a faintly sinister bearing. He has dead eyes that never smile, and while he rarely appears to be armed, he always has at least a couple of daggers secreted away somewhere.

The Cilician Brothers - Actually a trio of cousins from that rugged district in the spurs of the Tauros mountains, they call themselves "independent mariners" though that really means they are pirates.

Kyros - the eldest of the three and the muscle. Not the brightest but more than makes up for it with animal cunning.

Marsyas - the thinker of the trio and the ringleader. A certifiable sneaky bastard and master of doing as little as possible.

Pollio - the youngest "brother" and a natural born follower. Happiest when given easy tasks to complete. Was once apprenticed to a shipwright before falling into crime and piracy with his cousins.

 

 

Philipos

Fighter 5, Move 90’, AC 10/12, HD 5, hp 39, Att 3*+/7+, Saves: Fort 8+ Ref 12+ Will 13+, Init +0
Dmg: 1d6+7 (spear), 1d6+6 (battleaxe), 1d4+5 (dagger), sling (1d6+2).
Str+3, Con+3, Int +1, Cha +1.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Alertness, Command, Endurance, Fighting Style (Weapon and Shield), Manual of Arms II, Military Strategy, Riding, Weapon Focus (Spear).
Languages: Attic Greek, Koine Greek, Thracian
Equipment: Hoplite panoply (exceptional), spear (exceptional)*, large shield, battleaxe (Exceptional)*, dagger, sling. Enc 9/10 stone.


There's a double-joke in this character's name. Firstly, that it's also the player's name. Secondly, that it was a ridiculously common name for Macedonians (along with Alexandros and Amyntas) which we might highlight as our own bit of in-game humour from time to time. He's the brick, the frontline fighter who kicks ass and takes names, and for the player it's a rare opportunity not to play a missile-/magic-focused sort (Angran Meithelas, Kane, Hafunail, et al). He's another aristocrat with a sense of honour, so along with Rhyanidd balance out the more amoral tendencies of Meshullum and Septimus.

His people (barring Lysagoras, of course) are the heavy infantry of the group, they'd make up the core of any recruited phalanx, with Philipos himself in the centre of the front rank. They could also serve as heavy cavalry in a pinch.


His retinue:

Eumenes of Athens - An exile who spent most of the last two decades serving Antigonous, he is a learned and cultured man. As an aristocrat he strives to be a gentleman and maintain a decorous and proper bearing. In keeping with the oldest tradition of the cradle of Hellas, he is also a fearsome warrior who dedicates a great deal of time to keeping his skills honed. He stands on Philipos' right in the battle line.

Deon of Miletos - Bastard son of a Milesian aristocrat with one of his house slaves, Deon was raised with his half-brothers and freed when they went off to fight in the many wars raging across Asia Minor. He survived the campaiging, they did not, and unable to face going home to Miletus chose to sell his services instead. Philipos dragged him out the bottom of a bowl of wine and gave him a reason to live. He stands on Philipos' left in the battle line.

Lysagoras of Ephesus - An enterprising Ionian with a talent for the nefarious and illicit, Lysagoras attached himself to Philip early on and realised he would prosper if he continued to make himself useful. He can be totally unassuming and has a talent for getting information and goods no matter where he is. While nominally the quartermaster for the retinue, he also turns his hand to spymaster, fence, interrogator and schemer-in-chief.

Herakleides - A Thessalian mercenary taken captive when Philip was a boy, he served as a groom and riding instructor. With advancing age and the trust of the family, he became Philip's valet and body slave, though the years haven't weakened his spear arm. He fights in the second rank.

Anaxiteles - A youth of sixteen years, he is already bigger than most fully-grown men and promises one day to be of a size with his uncle Philip. He serves as shieldbearer and fights in the second rank.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

Rhyanidd's bodyguard:

Sabra. Fighter 3. Move 90’, AC 7/8, HD 3+3, hp 19, Att 6*+/9+, Saves: Fort 12+ Ref 14+ Will 14+, Init +2, Mor +7
Dmg: 1d6+6 (spear), 1d6+4 (sword), 1d6+4 (javelin)
Str+2, Int+1, Wis+1, Con+1, Cha-1.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Animal Training (horse), Intimidation, Combat Reflexes, Fighting Style (Weapon and Shield), Riding, Signalling (cavalry trumpets), Weapon Focus (spear).
Languages: Celtic, Koine Greek.
Equipment: Mail (good), medium shield, spear (exceptional)*, longsword, dagger, javelins (3), light riding horse, medium war horse . Enc 8/8 stone.


Bisalkes. Explorer 2. Move 120’, AC 7/8, HD 2+2, hp 11, Att 9+/7+, Saves: Fort 9+ Ref 11+ Will 12+, Init +4, Mor +6
Dmg: 1d6+2 (spear), 1d6+2 (javelin)
Str+1, Wis+1, Dex+2, Con+1.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Beast Friendship, Riding, Survival, Tracking.
Languages: Celtic, Thracian
Equipment: Leather (exceptional), medium shield, spear, dagger, javelins (3). light riding horse, light war horse . Enc 5/6 stone.


Tasciovanus. Bard 2. Move 90’, AC 7/8, HD 2, hp 9, Att 8+/8+, Saves: Fort 13+ Ref 11+ Will 15+, Init +1, Mor +6
Dmg: 1d6+1 (spear), 1d6 (axe), 1d6 (javelin)
Int+1, Wis-1, Dex+2, Cha+2.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Knowledge (History), Performance (Singing) II, Performance (Storytelling), Profession (advocate), Riding, Seduction, Weapon Finesse.
Languages: Belgic, Celtic, Koine Greek
Equipment: Scale thorax (good), medium shield, spear (good), hand axe, dagger, javelins (3), light riding horse, medium war horse. Enc 6/7 stone.


Liath. Fighter 1. Move 90’, AC 7/8, HD 1+1, hp 9, Att 9+/9+, Saves: Fort 13+ Ref 14+ Will 16+, Init +1, Mor +6
Dmg: 1d6+4 (spear), 1d6+2 (sword), 1d6+3 (javelin)
Str +1, Con +1, Dex +1, Chr -1.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Endurance, Fighting Style (Weapon and Shield), Riding, Weapon Focus (spears).
Languages: Celtic, Koine Greek
Equipment: Scale thorax (good), medium shield, spear (good), longsword, dagger, javelins (3), light riding horse, medium war horse. Enc 6/8 stone.


Esselt. Fighter 1. Move 120’, AC 6/7, HD 1+1, hp 9, Att 7*+/10+, Saves: Fort 13+ Ref 15+ Will 16+, Init +0, Mor +5
Dmg: 1d6+4 (spear), 1d6+5 (sword), 1d6+3 (javelin)
Str+2, Con+1, Cha+1.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Fighting Style (Weapon and Shield), Riding, Survival, Weapon Focus (swords and daggers).
Languages: Celtic, Koine Greek
Equipment: Scale thorax (good), medium shield, spear (exceptional)*, longsword (good), dagger, javelins (3), light riding horse, medium war horse. Enc 6/6 stone.


Berdic. Fighter 1. Move 90’, AC 6/7, HD 1+1, hp 9, Att 9+/9+, Saves: Fort 13+ Ref 14+ Will 16+, Init +1, Mor +5
Dmg: 1d6+3 (spear), 1d6+3 (axe), 1d6+2 (javelin)
Str+1, Dex+1, Con+1 .
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Combat Trickery (Wrestling), Performance (poetry), Riding, Weapon Focus (axes).
Languages: Celtic, Koine Greek
Equipment: Scale thorax (good), medium shield, spear, battle axe, dagger, javelins (3), light riding horse, medium war horse. Enc 6/8 stone.


Saskia. Fighter 1. Move 120’, AC 4/5, HD 1+1, hp 9, Att 9+/10+, Saves: Fort 13+ Ref 15+ Will 16+, Init +0, Mor +5
Dmg: 1d6+3 (spear), 1d4+2 (dagger), 1d6+3 (javelin)
Str+1, Con+1.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Animal Husbandry, Survival, Riding, Weapon Focus (spear).
Languages: Celtic, Germanic
Equipment: Leather (good), medium shield, spear, dagger, javelins (3), light riding horse, light war horse. Enc 5/6 stone.

 

 

Meshullum's archers:

Talamenes. Explorer 3. Move 120’, AC 5/4, HD 3+6, hp 18, Att 7+/6+, Saves: Fort 11+ Ref 12+ Will 15+, Init +3, Mor +4 Dmg: 1d6+6 (bow), 1d6+4 (sword), 1d4+4 (dagger)
Str+2, Int+1, Dex+2, Con+2, Cha+1.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Manual of Arms, Precise Shooting, Seafaring, Survival, Tracking, Weapon Focus (bows).
Languages: Doric Greek, Persian, Phoenician.
Equipment: Quilted armour (good), composite bow (good), short sword, dagger, buckler. Enc 3/7 stone.


Abraham. Expert 2. Move 120’, AC 1, HD 2, hp 9, Att 10+/9+, Saves: Fort 13+ Ref 12+ Will 14+, Init +1, Mor +3
Dmg: 1d4 (dagger)
Int+2, Dex+1.
Proficiencies: Alchemy II, Healing* III, Knowledge (philosophy), Knowledge (natural philosophy), Profession (scribe), Theology (priest of Asklepios), Wakefulness.
Languages: Aegyptian, Aramaic, Koine Greek, Hebrew.
Equipment: Well-cut clothing, dagger, medical tools. Enc 2/5 stone.


Gelon of Krete. Fighter 2. Move 150’, AC 5/4, HD 2+2, hp 14, Att 8+/6+, Saves: Fort 12+ Ref 12+ Will 16+, Init +1, Mor +3
Dmg: 1d6+2 (sword), 1d6+2 (bow), 1d4+2 (dagger)
Str+1, Wis-1, Dex+2, Con+1, Cha+1.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Craft (bowyer), Fighting Style (missile), Precise Shooting, Running, Seafaring.
Languages: Doric Greek, Phoenician.
Equipment: Quilted armour, composite bow, short sword, dagger, buckler. Enc 4/6 stone.


Zeteres. Explorer 1. Move 120’, AC 2, HD 1+1, hp 7, Att 9+/7+, Saves: Fort 9+ Ref 11+ Will 13+, Init +3, Mor +2
Dmg: 1d6+2 (axe), 1d4+2 (dagger), 1d6+1 (longbow)
Str+1, Dex+2, Con+1, Cha-1.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Ambushing, Survival, Tracking.
Languages: Numidian, Koine Greek
Equipment: Longbow, hand axe, dagger. Enc 2/6 stone.


Juba. Fighter 1. Move 120’, AC 3, HD 1, hp 8, Att 9+/8+, Saves: Fort 10+ Ref 12+ Will 14+, Init +0, Mor +2
Dmg: 1d6+2 (sword), 1d4+2 (dagger), 1d6+2 (bow)
Str+1, Wis-1, Dex+1.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Craft (bowyer) II, Fighting Style (bow), Precise Shooting.
Languages: Libyan, Koine Greek
Equipment: Leather armour, longbow (good), shortsword, dagger. Enc 4/6 stone.


Nefermenu. Explorer 1. Move 120’, AC n, HD 1+1, hp 7, Att 9+/7+, Saves: Fort 9+ Ref 12+ Will 14+, Init +2, Mor +2
Dmg: 1d6+2 (mace), 1d4+2 (dagger), 1d6+1 (longbow)
Str+1, Int-1, Dex+1, Con+1.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Craft (bowyer), Fighting Style (bow), Survival.
Languages: Aegyptian, Koine Greek
Equipment: Longbow, mace, dagger. Enc 2/6 stone.

 

 

Septimus' agents:

Nyssa. Assassin 3. Move 120’, AC 2 (4), HD 3+3, hp 15, Att 7+, Saves: Fort 12+ Ref 12+ Will 15+, Init +2, Mor +5
Dmg: 1d4+3 (dagger), 1d6+3 (bow)
Str+1, Int+2, Dex+2, Con+1 Cha+2.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Acrobat, Diplomacy, Knowledge (politics), Performance (dancing), Riding, Seduction, Weapon Finesse.
Languages: Aramaic, Ionic Greek, Median, Persian
Equipment: Expensive clothing, quilted linen (good), daggers (2), composite bow. Light warhorse, light riding horse. Enc 2/6 (3/6) stone.


Nikeratos of Kyrene. Expert 2. Move 120’, AC -1, HD 2, hp 6, Att 11+, Saves: Fort 13+ Ref 14+ Will 13+, Init +0, Mor +4
Dmg: 1d3-1 (fist)
Str-1, Int+3, Wis+1, Dex-1.
Proficiencies: Healing II, Knowledge (architecture), Knowledge (astrology), Knowledge (mathematics) II, Knowledge (natural philosophy) II, Knowledge* (philosophy) II, Navigation, Theology.
Languages: Aegyptian, Aramaic, Libyan, Koine Greek, Nubian.
Equipment: Clothing, scrolls, various implements and tools. Enc 1/4 stone.


Cleandros of Syrakousai. Expert 2. Move 120’, AC 1, HD 2, hp 9, Att 8+/10+, Saves: Fort 13+ Ref 13+ Will 13+, Init +1, Mor +4
Dmg: 1d6+2 (hammer)
Str+2, Int+2, Wis+1.
Proficiencies: Craft (smith) II, Engineering* IV, Knowledge (mathematics), Labour (miner), Land Surveying, Siege Engineering II.
Languages: Doric Greek, Iberian, Oscan, Sicel.
Equipment: Leather work vest, tools, big hammer. Enc 2/5 stone.


Isokrates of Samos. Assassin 1. Move 120’, AC 3, HD 1, hp 6, Att 8+, Saves: Fort 14+ Ref 13+ Will 16+, Init +2, Mor +3
Dmg: 1d4+3 (dagger), 1d6+1 (sling)
Str+2, Int+1, Dex+2.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Bribery, Climbing, Disguise, Mimicry.
Languages: Aramaic, Ionic Greek, Persian
Equipment: Common clothing, bronze pectoral, daggers (2), sling. Enc 2/5 stone.


Kyros. Fighter 1. Move 120’, AC 5/6, HD 1+1, hp 9, Att 8+/9+, Saves: Fort 13+ Ref 14+ Will 15+, Init +2, Mor +3
Dmg: 1d6+4 (sword), 1d4+4 (dagger), 1d6+2 (javelin), 1d6+1 (sling).
Str+2, Int-1, Wis+1, Dex+1, Con+1.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Fighting Style (weapon and shield), Intimidation, Labour (oarsman), Weapon Focus (swords and daggers).
Languages: Cilician, Koine Greek
Equipment: Quilted linen, small shield, shortsword, dagger, javelins (3), sling. Enc 4/6 stone.


Marsyas. Fighter 1. Move 120’, AC 6/7, HD 1, hp 8, Att 9+, Saves: Fort 14+ Ref 14+ Will 16+, Init +1, Mor +3
Dmg: 1d6+2 (sword), 1d4+2 (dagger), 1d6+1 (javelin), 1d6+1 (sling).
Str+1, Int+2, Dex+1.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Diplomacy, Gambling, Fighting Style (weapon and shield), Seafaring, Signalling (naval flags), Swashbuckling.
Languages: Cilician, Koine Greek, Phoenician, Phrygian.
Equipment: Quilted linen, small shield, shortsword, dagger, javelins (3), sling. Enc 4/5 stone.


Pollio. Fighter 1. Move 120’, AC 5/6, HD 1, hp 8, Att 9+, Saves: Fort 14+ Ref 14+ Will 16+, Init +1, Mor +3
Dmg: 1d6+3 (sword), 1d4+3 (dagger), 1d6+1 (javelin), 1d6+1 (sling).
Str+1, Dex+1.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Craft (shipwright), Fighting Style (weapon and shield), Labour (oarsman), Weapon Focus (swords and daggers).
Languages: Cilician, Koine Greek
Equipment: Quilted linen, small shield, shortsword, dagger, javelins (3), sling. Enc 4/5 stone.

 

 

Philipos' companions:

Eumenes of Athens. Fighter 3. Move 90’, AC 10/12, HD 3+6, hp 22, Att 7+/8+, Saves: Fort 11+ Ref 13+ Will 15+, Init +1, Mor +5
Dmg: 1d6+6 (spear), 1d6+5 (sword), 1d4+4 (dagger), 1d6+5 (javelin)
Str+2, Int+1, Dex+1, Con+2, Cha+1.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Diplomacy, Fighting Style (weapon and shield), Knowledge (philosophy), Pankration, Performance (rhetoric), Riding, Weapon Focus (spear).
Languages: Attic Greek, Persian, Phrygian
Equipment: Hoplite panoply (good), large shield, spear (good), short sword (good), dagger, javelins (2). Medium war horse, light riding horse. Enc 9/9 stone.


Deon of Miletos. Fighter 2. Move 90’, AC 7/9, HD 2+2, hp 14, Att 7+/9+, Saves: Fort 12+ Ref 14+ Will 14+, Init +1, Mor +4
Dmg: 1d6+3 (spear), 1d6+3 (sword), 1d4+3 (dagger), 1d6+3 (javelin)
Str+2, Wis+1, Con+1.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Endurance, Intimidation, Pankration, Riding, Weapon Focus (spear).
Languages: Ionic Greek, Aramaic
Equipment: Scale thorax (good), greaves and helmet, large shield, spear, short sword, dagger, javelins (2). Enc 8/8 stone.


Lysagoras of Ephesus. Expert 2. Move 120’, AC n, HD 2, hp 9, Att 10+/9+, Saves: Fort 13+ Ref 12+ Will 14+, Init +1, Mor +4
Dmg: 1d4+1 (dagger)
Int+2, Dex+1, Cha+1.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Bargaining, Bribery, Diplomacy, Disguise, Eavesdropping, Knowledge (political economy), Lip Reading, Mimicry, Profession (steward) II.
Languages: Ionic Greek, Persian, Phoenician, Phrygian
Equipment: Fine clothes, hidden dagger (good). Enc 1/5 stone.


Herakleides. Fighter 1. Move 120’, AC 6/7, HD 1+1, hp 9, Att 8+/10+, Saves: Fort 13+ Ref 15+ Will 15+, Init +1, Mor +3
Dmg: 1d6+4 (spear), 1d4+3 (dagger), 1d6+3 (javelin)
Str+2, Wis+1, Con+1.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Animal Husbandry, Fighting Style (weapon and shield), Riding, Weapon Focus (spear).
Languages: Aeolic Greek, Thracian.
Equipment: Quilted armour, greaves and helmet, medium shield, spear, javelin, dagger. Enc 6/6 stone.


Anaxiteles. Fighter 1. Move 90’, AC 8/10, HD 1+2, hp 10, Att 8+/10+, Saves: Fort 12+ Ref 15+ Will 16+, Init +0, Mor +3
Dmg: 1d6+3 (spear/sword), 1d4+3 (dagger)
Str+2, Con+2.
Proficiencies: Seasoned Campaigner, Endurance, Fighting Style (Weapon and shield), Pankration, Riding.
Languages: Koine Greek, Thracian.
Equipment: Scale thorax, greaves and helmet, large shield, spear, shortsword, dagger. Enc 8/9 stone.

Maticore
Dwimmermount BackerDomains At War Contributor
Joined: 2012-04-16 15:29

Oh. Oh this bodes well.

I'm very interested in how your players take their domain game and run with it. They've already jumped in, it seems, and their retinues show an outlook to the future - why would they have a siege engineer in their retinue unless they are intending on laying siege to something?

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

Well, one of the player characters is an accomplished siege engineer too. If nothing else, they could hire out their engineer to other people who really need it (making a substantial amount of money in the process). But I could definitely see a siege or two in their future.

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

I cannot begin to express my raw delight at reading this! I hope you all have a fantastic campaign.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

Thanks for making it such an easy sell to my group! I really do appreciate being able to chat various things through with you to arrive at something that works well.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

And to the meat, the podcasts themselves. This was a rather more improvised session than I might normally do, I basically didn't have much prep done yet. That will be different next week, so less of the halting gaps and me rolling on random tables!

 

Tyche’s Favourites – Episode 1 – Part 1

It is 300BC, shortly after the Battle of Ipsus and the bowl of the world is once again in turmoil as the players in the great game to control Megas Alexandros’ empire change positions. A band of mercenaries and their retinues have been engaged by the Latin agent Septimus, on behalf of a Massilioi aristocrat to present themselves at that settlement. Travelling land and sea, they make their way from Asia, westwards across Macedonia and Greece, northwest along the Illyrian coast and turning west once more into northern Italia. We pick up the story on the final leg of a journey to Massalia, somewhere in the lower valley of the Padus river. The party arrive at the hall of a local Insubri chief, Bolgios, where they are invited as guests of honour to a feast.


Tyche’s Favourites – Episode 1 – Part 2

Having parted on good terms with Bolgios (and Rhyanidd making formal ties of guest friendship) and with a trio of Keltoi traders in tow, the column leaves the lands of the Insubri and attracts attention from a small bandit party. The journey proves eventful with bandits, rumours of warring tribes on the road ahead, accidents and hazardous river crossings. There is also time for hunting, competition and feasting. They haven’t arrived at their destination, but already there are ominous speculations about the local political situation and just what their erstwhile employer intends to do with them.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

Some of you may have noticed the music featured on the beginning and end of the podcasts, and perhaps wondered what it is. I can’t claim credit for what is not my work; it comes from the Rome: Total War modification, Europa Barbarorum, which was itself a major inspiration for the game. All the music therein is written/composed by Morgan Casey, Nick Wylie, Musica Romana, Prehistoric Music Ireland and The Persian Cataphract. Specifically, the music used is the main theme (which you can also hear on YouTube), one of many tracks which are modern takes on ancient music. It is used with the permission of the Europa Barbarorum production team, for which I’m extremely grateful.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

I haven't really posted on here with any sort of commentary as to why I've made all sorts of sweeping and wholesale changes to both underlying assumptions and mechanics in MLT which creates numerous differences with ACKS as written.

One of the stark differences which will be immediately apparent to anyone who's looked at the PCs on the wiki is how competent they are.

Firstly, I started them at 5th level. I wanted to avoid the random crapshoot you get at lower levels of older D&D where a lucky blow will kill a PC. Not only that, I wanted them to be leaders in their own right, and have meaningful retinues right from the start. That meant a higher level, and 5th seems to be in that sweet spot of entering the leadership phase (everyone gets a henchman-morale-boosting feature from their class) but where they are still able to participate personally and have some risk. Hit points are in the 20s to 30s range (and non-random) so a single blow, even with damage dice doubled, won't take them down.

Secondly, I immediately binned 3d6 in order. For a number of reasons. Primarily, because it produces low stats where you don't necessarily want them. Also because the whole point was that the PCs were exceptional people picked out by Fortune for great things. We as a group like to approach a game with a concept, then build to that, not roll the dice and try to work out what we have. Furthermore, there was real concern about the possible range of competence within the party - ie one person rolling really well while another rolled badly. We fixed that by having everyone roll to generate an array, but that anyone could use anyone else's array. The method for PCs, to ensure they got some good numbers was to make seven rolls and take the best six. They were: 1d6+12, 2d6+6 twice and 3d6 four times.

We got the following arrays:
17, 17, 15, 15, 11, 9
18, 14, 12, 12, 10, 8
17, 14, 13, 12, 11, 11
17, 16, 15, 15, 11, 9

I also allowed moving 2 points, so everyone went for the first one, though not everyone got used that to get 18s (one PC went for the maximal modifier spread of four 16s). Lastly, in keeping with taking the random out of chargen, they all got max hit points for 1st level, then half-HD for every level thereafter.

I'm not tracking XP, and after some discussion the players said they were actually quite happy with levelling when it made sense to do so without any book-keeping. All the classes were modified so that their XP progressions were roughly equal, so that levelling at the same time wouldn't advantage anyone. They ended up all choosing something based on the Fighter frame; Explorer, Fighter and two homebrewed (not by me!) classes the Diplomat and Warlord (Aristocrat).

I've also changed the Proficiencies progression, which is no longer linked to class, but simply level. Everyone gets a new General Proficiency at every even-numbered level, and a Class Proficiency at every odd-numbered level. This intentionally made for more competent characters, and also a much broader range of variety between them. The Diplomat, with his 18 Int, ended up with an obscene number of them, and what I like is that everyone took things that rounded them out. So for example Rhyanidd has Prophecy and Theology (Druidic) - she's an actual priestess as well as warrior-princess and has prophetic dreams (cue GM being able to make up cryptic foreshadowing stuff) and Performance (Rhetoric). If you were really short of slots, those aren't the sorts of things you'd prioritise.

I've also changed the base numbers for aging slightly, adding some variability as to when it kicks in, and factoring physicality. Two PCs rolled theirs to find out when they'd get their first aging penalties.

Then to henchmen. Everyone went with their maximum number, I don't think they're that concerned with having to share their spoils. Not only that, we agreed they'd be the pool of "backup characters" from which new PCs would be drawn (equalised to the level of everyone else, should that happen) and I think they wanted as many choices as possible. I generated the henchmen using a similar process to the PCs, though they were done individually, rather than with an array for their ability scores. They also used a slightly less generous 2d6+6 twice and 3d6 five times, drop lowest and assign at will with 2 points of re-assignment. Though that still produced a few henchmen with better stats than the PCs, though most were much more normal. Again the notion was that exceptional people tend to attract similarly exceptional people to their retinues. Given the mercenary pasts of most of the PCs, anyone less-than-stellar would probably have been killed off anyway.

What they got was one 3rd level, two 2nd level, and everyone else is 1st level. They also came with their basic equipment, but if the PCs wanted to buy them extra stuff, that raised their morale. I also assumed they had gotten all their levels with the PC, which led to some having extremely high morale when combined with Proficiencies (I think the highest is +6). It's notable how they've each got their own unifying theme or signature.

They're a pretty massive mob of NPCs right now, but I expect that to change when they arrive in Massalia and break off to do various things. I'm hoping we might get to experiment with some troupe-style play, where players might run one of their henchmen instead of their PC in certain situations, and possible even playing someone else's henchmen sometimes too. Thus if Rhyanidd and her bodyguard are sent off deep into the wilds of Gallia on some secret mission, each player picks up one of them as their character for that segment.

And there we have it.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

We had the troupe play conversation last night. The verdict was that they were relaxed about roleplaying their own henchmen, but didn't want to do that for other players' minions. Happy enough to run them in combat to speed things up. The concern was mostly around potentially having to play twenty-odd characters who might have different characterisations depending on who had played them, resulting in a jarring to the sense of continuity about them.

We also talked about the loss of henchmen, the feeling there was a mixture of combat being dangerous and these things happen, and not wanting to be left undermanned/having the opportunity to replace them. I explained that they are headed to a settlement with Market Class II (second-largest) and several of them have class abilities which boost it to Class I for recruitment, so they won't be short of options to add more. I like that there's already some attachment to the people they have, too. We had some good interplay between the characters and their people as well, they're starting to feel like separate entities in their own right.

Managed to squeeze several trial combats (actually hunting) in, with everyone getting a chance to do a bit. We're getting more familiar now, but it highlighted how critical doing initiative fast is to keeping things flowing.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

Tyche’s Favourites – Episode 2 – Part 1

On the final rest-day, there is more hunting, but this time more dangerous quarry than deer. There are contrasts between the Greek and Keltoi styles of hunting. Everyone returns with trophies and tales to tell. The first destination of their journey, the village of Nikaia is in sight, and waiting there is an extravagant gift for Rhyanidd. An envoy opens negotiations, promising to reveal just what Menesthios has in mind for the intrepid band.


Tyche’s Favourites – Episode 2 – Part 2

After oaths of secrecy are sworn, negotiations with Apollodoros, Menesthios’ son and envoy, begin in earnest and agreement is struck. Deals are made both for the benefit of Massalia and for Menesthios himself. An ominous warning comes in a dream and a more earthly warning is offered about the lands ahead. A short trip finds them in Antipolis, where a counter-offer is made which will have far-reaching consequences, as a Carthaginian senator shows his hand. Everyone is vigiliant, armed and armoured on leaving that village for the territory of the Oxubii.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

Tyche’s Favourites – Episode 3 – Part 1

Almost as soon as they leave the village of Nikaia, the band feel the weight of impending danger. A chance encounter reveals some of the designs against them and several ambush sites are negotiated without incident. The ominous piping returns and a horn signals the commencement of battle in earnest. Outnumbered, they must fight for their lives against a determined enemy.


Tyche’s Favourites – Episode 3 – Part 2

In the aftermath of the battle an accounting is made, of both the butcher’s bill and plunder. A prisoner is taken and one of the instigators of the attack revealed. At a small fishing village up the coast, a chase begins and a previous adversary is captured. At Olbia negotiations are concluded with the Oxubii. A suspicious ship’s captain is met at Tauroeis, then their destination is finally in sight. There proves to be an unexpected welcome in Massalia.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

Tyche’s Favourites – Episode 4 – Part 1

The quartet and their retinues are invited to the country estate of their employer, Menesthios, who plans to host a grand feast in their honour. Gifts await them, as do their companions shipped to Massalia with Apollodoros, who have not been idle. They outline the lay of the land from a number of perspectives, provoking suspicion and speculation as to what schemes are in motion and who might be driving them. At the meal everyone enjoys fine food and good company, and tales of past exploits are shared. The festivities wind down and a visitor arrives with urgent business. As everyone settles into sleep, there is a disturbance…


Tyche’s Favourites – Episode 4 – Part 2

The house of Menesthios is under attack! Hurrying into the fray, the mercenaries find themselves pitted against well-equipped and professional opposition. Not only that, sounds of fighting elsewhere in the house suggest their employer and his family are in grave danger. Fighting across the main courtyard, they come to the aid of Menesthios’ family, only to find their enemy prevails. The outcome brings grim tidings and oaths to seek revenge against whomever orchestrated the outrage. It has not even been a day in Massalia and already they are mired in a web of intrigue.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

I was really unsure of just how the last session would play out. The first part was a lengthy introduction to their employer and his lifestyle, as well as an opportunity for the PCs to introduce themselves now the players had been with them a little bit. It was a bit heavy on the detail, both in terms of environment and a big info-dump of who's who, what's going on, and a lot of conveying just how complicated a place Massalia is. I hope I managed to do that with the briefings the henchmen sent ahead delivered.

The second part really was a gamble. See if the PCs ignored the danger to others in the house and got properly armoured up, they'd be completely safe as we saw in the last fight where they walked it. However, in doing so anyone else in the house could be dead by the time they were ready to stride out, which might mean they've come all this way for nothing. I was also interested in how invested they felt in Menesthios' cause and with the NPCs they'd already met. Never an easy thing to gauge.

As it was, they went for the "scoop up shield and a weapon" option, and got stuck in. The difference from the last fight was quite distinct. For one the PCs felt a lot more vulnerable; for another their opponents were much more capable, and they held them in the main courtyard for quite a while. The appearance of the assassin (who downed a henchman and nearly did a PC too on his opening attack) really scared them, and competent opposition really contrasted with not-so-competent from before. Though 1st level opponents still have a tendency to die in droves if one of the PCs gets their cleave-chain on (Meshullum machine-gunned four in one round at one point).

What was scariest for me as a GM was the medical attention offered to the critical NPCs after the fight, all of whom were taken out in the fighting. We rolled for each of the three, Menesthios, his partner Dianan, and their son Apollodoros. The first two survived (mostly because Abraham and Nikeratos, two henchmen, are really good physicians), but the roll for Apollodoros failed by 1. Which the players were disappointed by, they quite liked him (still, that gives a nice personal edge to investigating what happened). I have to say, though, I was really worried about what might have happened if Menesthios had been killed. He's their employer, the means for them to get involved in any/everything happening, and a significant motive force independent of the PCs.

As it stands, he'll be bedridden for the next month, and Septimus is also out for a couple of weeks. Septimus' player is talking about using one of his henchmen as a backup character for the next few sessions, so that's henchmen working as intended already.

We've ditched the Permanent Wounds part of the Mortal Wounds table as too silly and disconnected from what actually happened in-game for us. We're sticking with Condition and Recovery, just not bothering with the d6 roll for the other part. Instead, I think we'll decide as an when necessary what impact serious injury has once a character has recovered.

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

My players have described the Mortal Wounds table in many ways but "silly" is not one of them! Heh.

I'm glad that the rules are delivering a high-level of tension and fast-paced combat. It's great to read about your party's adventures.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

It was the "genitals ruined" result coming from a backstab - it just didn't make any sense in the context and some of the others similarly didn't fit the fiction of what was going on in the fight. I must admit, as a general rule I'm not a big fan of random critical hit tables anyway, though at least the ones in WFRP (overcomplicated as they were) were limb-specific.

That aside, yes, the rules are certainly delivering both tension and fast-paced combat. It was pretty tense for me when I wasn't sure if the main NPC was about to croak it having been barely introduced!

Though if the PCs are properly prepared, they can deal with almost anything available in a non-fantasy world. The only real threats to them are other hyper-capable people like themselves, they mow through Normal Men and 1st level opposition like chaff. It might help that they're all Fighters or built off the Fighter frame. :)

I can already see that whether or not a fight is something the PCs were prepared for is going to be a major factor in their difficulty. For example, if they are within the walls of Massalia itself, as non-citizens they are not allowed to bring weapons or armour through the gates. Which means unless they have help to stash things somewhere, they're going to be unarmoured and possibly even unarmed any time they're in the city. Obviously that's a really bad time for them to get in a scrap.

Another instance is if they're guests of someone at a formal function - again not a time when they'll be armed or armoured. Which is quite different from the usual fantasy aesthetic where PCs all but sleep in their armour, only taking it off for their bi-annual baths.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

My players are away at the Empire LARP event this weekend, meaning the podcast for Episode 5 will be a little slower in going up (and indeed my happen at the same time as that for Episode 6, assuming we meet as planned on the coming Thursday). Episode 5 was taken up by investigations into who was behind the attack on Menesthios' estate. I really wasn't sure where things were going to go, so had the sketchiest notes as to locations and people who might be visited in the city. What was interesting was that they were laser-focused on getting information and to the heart of the thing, even to the exclusion of everything else. I think being surprise-attacked, and losing an NPC they liked has really affected them. They want revenge; their employer, unsurprisingly, does too.

It's becoming something of the PCs modus operandi to kill off mooks and take leaders captive for questioning. To put that into the context of last game, the leader of the Iberian mercenaries who attacked had been taken prisoner, and was questioned. He gave them his employer, a middle-man called Abdeshmun. Said employer turned out to be dead in his bed, with his scribe Lysanias missing. Lysanias had fled to the docks, but was grabbed by a bunch of thugs working for Bolon, a crimelord. They tracked those thugs down to a dockside wine shop, and in trying to question them provoked a rather nasty knife-fight in which a lot of thugs died, but the PCs managed to take their leader away for questioning back at Menesthios' country house.

I should add here, I'm not intending to get them into dangerous situations in which they are not really prepared, but they certainly seem to manage it. In the wineshop fight, they were unarmoured, unshielded and armed only with daggers (and only armed at all because they all sneaked those daggers past the gate guards). So were their opponents. But they had two 5th level PCs and henchmen comprising a 2nd level Fighter, 3rd and 2nd level Assassins and a 2nd level Expert, up against a 4th and 2nd level fighter and about a dozen Normal Men. It was fast and brutal, almost everyone on the PC side was wounded, but everyone on the opposing side ended up dead. Maybe it was a perception of home advantage, but they rolled high on their morale checks each time, and opted to continue fighting.

They are now pretty certain that Metallo - who Abdeshmun works for - isn't behind the attack as some of the evidence would imply. However, even after a missive from that man to come meet him when they can, they seem to be avoiding him until they have all the information.

We had some amusing points too, like when they charged the hoplites at the games, scaring the crap out of them. That was Philipos demonstrating the necessity of the training he and his people will be providing fairly soon. Didn't get to a "training day" scene, but I hope to next session.

An optional rule I discussed with the players for Mortal Wounds was thus. Under normal circumstances, we only roll on the Condition and Recovery part. If that indicates the character is dead, they can opt to re-roll with the Permanent Wounds table instead, thus increasing the likelihood that there will be something lasting.

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

Thanks for keeping us posted. Your method of handling the Condition and Recovery table sounds good. It's essentially giving everyone a bit of "Savage Resilience". They can have a "serious wound" or "critical wound" even that does no lasting harm, but if the die they roll again and then might get a lost arm, etc.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

Precisely. This is a game where dead means dead (no resurrection) and permanent wounds are genuinely permanent (no magical healing), so I'd expect it's a real choice to make when in that position.

We've already had one player using henchmen in the last session, so they know if it comes to it, they can always have one of them take on the PC mantle.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

Tyche’s Favourites – Episode 5 – Part 1

The investigation begins into who was behind the attack. Clues are examined, a prisoner is questioned and Menesthios gives his instructions on how to proceed: this insult must be answered, the shades of his sons cry out for vengeance. Septimus and Herakleides are bedridden for the time being, but will recover. Preparations are made to enter the city for the first time.


Tyche’s Favourites – Episode 5 – Part 2

Philipos causes a disturbance at the gates to get the measure of the men he is to train. Meshullum talks to Isandros, a prominent man amongst the artisan class, and Philipos visits Menesthios’ Greek son, Idomeneus. Following up on leads from the attack brings the pair to the house of Abdeshmun, and on the trail of a missing scribe. That brings them to the docks and a confrontation with men working for the notorious crimelord who rules the city’s illicit trades.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

Tyche’s Favourites – Episode 6 – Part 1

Funeral preparations for Apollodoros and Lykon continue while a prisoner is interrogated, giving up a name: Bolon. He is sent away with an ultimatum from Septimus for his boss – assist in the investigation or be destroyed. Rhyanidd arranges the first meeting of the city hippeis. Philipos receives an invitation to the gymnasium. And at last a visit is paid to Metallo who broaches a mutually beneficial scheme.


Tyche’s Favourites – Episode 6 – Part 2

Plans are set in motion for training regimes for the task ahead. Meshullum continues to make preparations, enlisting the aid of the shipwright, Telekles. Rhyanidd visits the temple of Herakles, making new friends amongst the local Celtic population. Philipos attends the gymnasium, meeting Akestes and several influential men of the hoplite class and narrowly escapes humiliation at the hands of Glaukias.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

Tyche’s Favourites – Episode 7

Bolon delivers his reply to Septimus’ ultimatum in gory fashion. Rhyanidd begins training the city hippeis, demonstrating to those worthy men just how unready for war they are. Plans are made for an appropriate response to Bolon’s the insult and allies enlisted in what will be a bold strike to change the playing field in Massalia.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

Tyche’s Favourites – Episode 8 – Part 1

Matters of the heart and conflicts within the band arise, and Menesthios asks Septimus for advice on family matters. A delegation from the timoukoi tries to dissuade the PCs from the plan to send the militia in to the docks to hunt down Bolon, resolving to take the matter to a debate in the council. Rhyanidd brings funds and followers to Lugobelinus.

Tyche’s Favourites – Episode 8 – Part 2

The hoplites muster and Philipos puts them through their paces. Septimus is back on his feet, though not fully recovered. The council meets to discuss the attack on the docks. Rhyanidd receives a message from Metallo. The Cilician brothers return from the city wounded having had a run-in with Bolon’s men. A surprise attack is prepared while the council continues to debate, a direct strike to keep the crimelord off-balance.


This was the last session for the time being, with the arrival of my second-born, running a game won't really work for a while. As a group we're reprising our D&D4e Icewind Dale game for the third and final time, then moving on to a 13th Age game using a homebrewed setting.