Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Session 28 - Manlet Mania

Session 28 - Manlet Mania

Foreword: Throwback to the immensely entertaining and non-lucrative Evil city adventures of old. Name is reflective of every PC being 5'4" or smaller.

Timekeeping: Session started on the 20/05/2022 and ended on the 22/05/2022. Downtime from 23/05/2022


Vick Sangin - 1/2 O F1/A1 - Short half-orc with exceptional strength

Bolshevik Pillypenny - Gnome T1/I1 - Completely hairless gnome with yellow eyes

Greg Chapel - H C2 - 5' and incredibly fat and bearded Cleric of Globulah

Gilthur Goldburrow - D F1/T1 - Greedy quartzite dwarf with a southern accent

Vick Sangin

Downtime Adjudication: No downtime to adjudicate - we had all new PCs except for Greg Chapel (who was spreading rumours about the Butchering of Baleah) and Gilthur Goldburrow (who turned up to the session late)






Session Report:

The game opens up with Vick Sangin (former player of Bale Tyrannus) approaching Greg Chapel at the Globulite stall in the Shale Quarter of Thropsford. He claims to have been drawn to the faith during the Blood Moon a few days ago. Convinced that Greg was a part of the Butchering of Baleah for no reason other than a convenient segue into the party and religion. Afterwards, Vick heads to the bureaucratic Assassin's Guild hideout and asks AAMI if there are any high level jobs available. She asks him to wait a moment, on the phone to some friends gossiping, before giving him a task - 200gp to assassinate a religious figure named Barter Gray in the middle echelon of the Shale Quarter. Church of Rasmus.

So he heads over and disguises himself as a peasant. Gets in past the gate and is totally lost on which building belongs to the Church of Rasmus. He asks a goth looking dude for help and the Follower of Ravos rolls above 90 on his reaction - totally happy to aid him. Tells him exactly where to go - the building with the symbol of a 3 eyed ram, and disciples wearing gold robes trimmed with blue filigree.

Yeah nah mate.
Make sense?

A lot of what followed was social interactions that are hard to document retrospectively - suffice it to say, Vick, who was disguised as "Hugo Boss" found out that the head of the church, Father Dos Antos, created the religion himself, and it's totally a pyramid scheme selling ram oils and has government connections. Father Dos Antos insists that meeting Hugo was a divine stroke of fate by Rasmus himself. So "Hugo" signs a legally binding document to perform 6 months labour in the Ram Fields and before he goes, pleads that he be given the chance to interview the other priests, hoping to find Barter Gray. Dos Antos acquiesces. The other priests palm him off once they find out he signed a contract with Father, but Barter is soon found. He sticks out like a sore thumb. A tall Aussie bloke with a beefy moustache. Sun-tanned and thickly muscled. His priests vestments are actually denim and the sleeves are ripped off.

Anyway, conversation soon not-so-subtly reveals that Barter is up to something. Vick, disguised as Hugo Boss, feigns ignorance and devotion but also is intrigued by the prospect of circumventing 6 months labour. This information won't come free - "Go down to the Swan and Paedo and punch Anlo Gray. Not related."

With this, Vick makes it back to the Swan and Paedo with the rest of the party running amok within. We are introduced to Bolshevik Pillypenny, who is running scams with his dice cups. A peasant calls him out on it, gets angry that he is a gnome, and tries to swing at him. But as Bolshevik was standing on the seat I rule that highest dex goes first (unarmed combat rules) and the gnome just knocks this guy out. He tries to loot the unconscious body but other people inform him this is not what you do in a Good establishment. I think some of this behaviour is that this is an Evil party but also conditioning to not expect consequences built from video-games. Ultimately the inn-keeper gets involved, and all is resolved with drinks for half the tavern. There is a bonding moment between Bolshevik and Vick as they find that not only do they share names, but birthdays. 

Temple of Iron Devotee
In terms of useful information, Vick finds out from the innkeeper Bargus that Anlo is a lieutenant of the guard and he takes his boys in on patrol for a morale boost. The party totally changes their plans now, and instead of punching the guard decide they are going to set up a bait in an alleyway about an alleged assassin trying to get information on Barter. I didn't really catch all of this but before they can enact this plan, Anlo himself walks in. There is a lot of banter here - the takeaway is that Anlo is a totally jacked midget with exaggerated ideas about his heroism. Nobody in the party thinks punching him is a good idea. He ends up hating Bolshevik.

The rest of the night is spent checking out suitable areas for their plan.


The next day, the plan is enacted - they send some of the party to act as bait in an alleyway (the "captured" assassin) meanwhile Vick hightails it to the Shale Quarter to try and bring Barter there. He doesn't bite at all and the plan totally fails. A new proposal is given - Vick wants to take Barter for a drink. Barter agrees and gives him some directions to a place in the Slagzone (a microcosm of civilisation within the city - a walled off ghetto where the impoverished and criminals run free). These are: 1. Tip the guards and ask for Old Bones Tones 2. Follow the gate south to the outside wall and knock on the trapdoor in the earth. (Now, I need to mention that at this point, Vick caught a glimpse of a draw full of gold in Barter's office.)

Vick can't help but agree with the location and runs back to the alleyway and rallies his companions - a new plan is hatched. The thieves are going to rob the Church of Rasmus that night while Vick, followed 5 minutes behind by Greg and Fitzpatrick, will go to the 'tavern' Barter suggested. I shall chronicle the two concurrent events separately:

The Robbery of Rasmus

The two thieves, Gilthur Goldburrow and Bolshevik Pillypenny head to the gate to Shale Quarter. On their way they are waylaid by ruffians in waiting in the darkness and robbed of their collective 30gp. When they arrive at the gates and it's dark, they plead "religious reasons" to enter the quarter. The guards are disgruntled by the system but can do naught but allow them to pass.

They creep over to the Church of Rasmus and case the place. No activity. Bolshevik picks the front door and they enter. Heading over to Barter's 'room' they rip up his documents (seeming to detail his enlisted novices) and set about looting. Gilthur straight up tries to open the top locked drawer where Vick said the gold was. He sets off a poison dart trap that he somehow survived and opens it. For his troubles is naught but a note that says "Nice try thief, could use your skills. Meet me in the Slagzone". I note Gilthur's carelessness as an infraction of good thieving principles. After this, the party scours the whole building and finds nothing but "Ram Essential Oils" and pamphlets. Except for the Father's room - which is the only one that has a door...

After a careful inspection for traps and some crafty lock-picking, they are in. At this point they hear numerous voices outside - it sounds like guards. They hide themselves inside Father Dos Antos' room and lock it. They left the front door open, which caused some friction as the players insisted they would have closed it behind them. I don't buy it and rule that it matters too much to not be specified case by case. Anyway, there is a lot of shuffling around but the guards decide to leave and alert their force. The thieves wait 20-30 minutes before lighting a lantern and sussing out the room. It's ornately decorated in ram products - gold filigreed ram's skull, horns, gold-flecked pelt, the whole lot. The desk is a stunning mahogany desk in the royal fashion. This time the players are very suspicious. They do take two of the horns.

They check the drawers from bottom to top. There is a book in one of them. The middle is empty. The top is obviously locked so it gets checked for traps - there is a small dart mounted inside it. They stand to the side and fidget around in there with some bent wire - the dart shoots out and begins dissolving some of the door. Lucky. They can't crack the lock though. So Bolshevik, whose player has shown ingenuity in solving problems as a player in the past, pulls the second draw out and cuts a hole into the bottom of the top drawer with a dagger. Eventually a golden key falls out. It's in a false bottom!

With this, they pile up furniture and papers in the middle of the building, douse it in oil, lead an oil trail to a window they open, and, with Bolshevik on Gilthur's shoulders (since he's too short) lights the oil. At the same instant as this is taking place, they both feel a presence behind them. Right behind them. There is a nondescript man just starting at the building. Nobody heard him approach. His eyes flicker yellow for a moment. The thieves scramble off into the night and the strange man just stays there.

They get back to the gate and are let through - I can't remember how they convinced the guard that they had nothing to do with the report of a robbery in the Church of Rasmus but anyway. Once they are arrive in the Shale Quarter they hike back to the Thieves Guild. It's just like in Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, with trap training, young thieves training, lockboxes etc. They go to Shayla the Fence whose office is full of wild artifacts. They cash in the two horns for 100gp each, ending up with 60gp after the guild's 40% taxation on all earnings.  They also inquire about the key to which the fence has no answer... There are many keys in the realm. Something hilarious and epic about this was that the party sent the two thieves to do a heist (obviously, right?) but the thieves just took the treasure for themselves! That's gold. For the thieves anyway.

The two then decide they will go back to the Swan and Paedo and reconvene with the party, but we will get back to that.

Barter's Bargain

Vick hikes to the gate to the Slagzone. He says the words he was told "I'm here for Old Bones Tones" and tips a gold coin. They let him through. A house is on fire in the distance. He reflects on the homeliness of this place. He navigates along the north-south wall and sees the trapdoor he was told of. Two sharp raps, a pause, then a hit, and it cracks open upwards. He descends stairs. It shuts behind him and a figure in black leather with a face mask emerges from behind him in a hidden cavity within the stairwell wall. At the bottom, he sees he is in a room with beds, dart boards, crates, and 9-10 men of similar trappings as the previous one. Barter is sitting there in full plate armour with an ornate shield next to him. What follows is a strange interaction that I will summarise:

  • Barter is trying to rob Father Dos Antos - suspects he has a huge mother-load.
  • Barter wants Vick (Hugo Boss) to help him in this

Now, during the chat, a guardsman in robes came and informed them that a short fat man tried to use the code to get in. This was Greg Chapel. But he stuffed it up! With such audaciousness too. Somehow this was perfect. The fat man fled back the Shale Quarter, and I estimated this would be similar timing to the thieves return. As per the Burroughs rule, they collide. At the same time as a random encounter - with a guard patrol! Bolshevik casts Wall of Fog at the guards and the party all flee to the Shale Quarter, which is just where the thieves came from. Anlo was with that patrol and is hot on their heels - while they are bickering at the gate with the guard, they are surrounded. Bolshevik flees into the dark streets while the rest of the party surrenders. They are let off and Anlo puts a hit out on Bolshevik. Meanwhile Bolshevik passes by a weird owl cult worshiping a totem in a dark alleyway. He also runs into guards afterwards and he gets a good reaction check (they aren't the same guards) and informs them of the strange people. Afterwards he retreats to the Thieves Guild and lays low. The rest of the party made it to the Globulite tent.

Simultaneously, Vick is let out by Barter and a group of his men trail him. When he almost gets to the Swan and Paedo, a group of ruffians waylay him. Barter's men turn from prisoners to guards as they assault these scoundrels and a street fight breaks out. The lantern bearer falls and in the darkness Vick charges past them all. He doffs his disguise, and halls ass to the Assassin's Guild. On the way he passes by a tall robed man teaching some robed students. The tall man looks at him and grins. Vick's world shimmers around him and he is transported to a beautiful natural locale - then a huge eyeball closes him up and reopens with him standing before the man. The man winks at him and shoos him away. Vick makes it back to the Assassin's Guild and writes up his report - noting his failure and also omitting the heist he sent the thieves on.

Eventually, everybody except Bolshevik had regrouped at the Globulite stall where Greg, who is paranoid about all the heat flowing his way, is making some drastic changes. He's shaved off his beard and is having some personal training from Fitzpatrick. He's going to "become" Finin O'Conaghain, his deceased companion. Get some pigskin elf ears made up or something.

At this point it was midnight or something. I'm waiting for it to end while the party insists on having a suss of this book they got. It's totally blank. They put blood on it (because of course?) and nothing. They hold it up to light - nothing. Their final musings are that magic is probably involved and also that they need to get the heck out of the city.

Treasure & XP:

Gilthur - 60gp, 100xp

Bolshevik - 60gp, 100xp

Character Performance Ratings:

Vick Sangin - E - Good use of Assassin disguise abilities. In reflection, I found his appreciation and respect of the Guild bureaucracy very Lawful - particularly in how he expressed disdain for the two thieves in the party burning down a building and attracting attention. Nice touch.

Bolshevik Pillypenny - E - Very clever dissection of stimulus. Good use of thief abilities.

Greg Chapel - E - Not ample opportunity to demonstrate clerical ability.

Gilthur Goldburrow - S - Did not check a locked draw for traps at all and nearly died.

Downtime Requests: Vick will be self adjudicating assassination jobs.

Comments: This was a hard report to write up. So much of it was spur of the moment rulings and more-or-less theatrics. If I had a detailed enough city map to run it as a dungeon crawl (which is technically btb) things would have been a lot less loosey-goosey. However, this was certainly more structured than previous city adventures. I treated the city as a bunch of nodes and when players traveled between them I checked for encounters X number of times. If it felt like they had done a lot, then I'd say it's almost their day done. I like this system, and fleshing it out a bit more could be beneficial.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Butchering of Baleah

The Butchering of Baleah

This is a record of the campaign-scale event instigated by a PC who, with his cult, slaughtered a small village during a Blood Moon. But let me provide some context.


your campaign could not do this without 1:1 time
Back at the end of Session 10 last July, two new PCs were introduced to the evil party (after those players PCs had just been killed). They were clerics of their made-up god Globulah, who is a God of Bloodletting. The name came from He-Man or something. Anyway, these two are totally hilarious and insist they are a legitimate religion (the c-word (cult) is banned). This becomes the standard PC religion for Evil characters and over time the following begins to grow. Through trial and tribulation, documented in the session reports, we would see one of the original founders die, the cult's confirmed champion betrayed and killed, and also the franchising of the religion as it expanded from Underland to Thropsford.

Now, some time ago, I sent the group chat an omen. It was an astronomical forecast of the Blood Moons. I inform the Globulites that this is a Holy Day for Globulah and that failure to perform adequate ceremony at this time will result in a POOR rating.

And so it came to pass that, close to the date, only Greg Chapel was alive to give ample respect to Globulah. And by the Bloodletting God himself, he did.

The Lead-Up

So recently there has been a huge shift in the campaign landscape. The Iron Kingdom, which was once quite steadfast and maintained safe roads between the various cities bound under the Iron Pact, has been fracturing. This started with Burnett far to the north, who, due to intense bandit raiding along the Thropsford-Burnett road, withdrew from the Iron Pact and declared independence. Then, after the sacking of Warton by goblins, the King sent his army to destroy the foul creatures, which he did, but then relinquished the territory to the wilds, forcing villagers to migrate to the city or be left unprotected.

Then, between Thropsford and Burnett, quite literally the heart of the Kingdom, monstrous and bandit incursions, amplified in effect by the general unrest, began to shatter even that once reliable road. The tl;dr is that most settlements outside of cities have begun to be abandoned in favour of either cities or walled and defended settlements.

With this information, Greg Chapel and Fitzpatrick Bateman (henchman) set out between the 10th and 14th of May to try and find an undefended village no more than 50 in populace that they could lead the 30-strong Thropsford sect of Globulah in Unholy Slaughter.

I come up with table to adjudicate this - each day has 1 in 6 chance of finding a Thorp (population 20-80 as per DMG). Meanwhile regular encounter checks are made. Well, Greg comes across not 1 but 4 settlements, each of randomly determined direction/distance from Thropsford (no more than 30 miles however). He settles on the thorp of Baleah, which lies 25 miles south of Thropsford, has a population of 50, and has two roads entering it which lead to the south-eastern and south-western gates of Thropsford.

Now we come to the main event, which I broke up into 4 main sections, each adjudicated individually with the result modifying the next stage:

Stage 1 - The Journey to Baleah

Greg, Fitzpatrick, and the 30 cultists (armed with dagger and club) set out from the South-Eastern gate in red robes, informing the guards they are going on a humanitarian and religious mission to Baleah. They journey through the day without any encounters and arrive with hours to spare before night-fall. The player informed me... Well, he sent me this:

"We will commence a ritual outside the hamlet of our choosing far enough to not alert them, chanting and praying to the blood moon for a bountiful harvest of blood. Then we shall march on the hamlet adorned in white robes and slaughter the inhabitants. After all are slain we will vote on the "MVP, (the person who assisted the most in the harvest) Moon Howler (the most energetic and fanatical player, and the most prestigious, The Top Glob (the person with the most bloodied robe)"

So when he arrived at the settlement with no encounters, I moved onto stage 2 of adjudication...

Stage 2 - The Ritual

I made up a d100 table with outcomes from crippling failure to unbelievable success, scaled towards success due to the fact that this was a prime time for the ritual and the Globulites are zealous and fanatical. I also ruled that the Globulites would get a divine influence check as per DMG p112 that may be modified by the ritual's outcome. For this calculation I considered this event to be "serving the deity proximately" so they accrued that bonus also.

Dice were rolled, and the ritual was revealed to be a major success - it had all the makings of a successful cult ritual - lots of chanting, praying, high adrenaline, orgy, self mutilation - the whole lot. The Globulites truly felt blessed as the radiant light bathed their white robes in a deep red hue. RPGPundit would be proud. The next stage took place...

Stage 3 - The Slaughter

The important thing to monitor here, I felt, was whether or not any villagers escaped and if the Globulites took any losses. I decided to roll by stages with the following parameters:

  • Globulites inflict 2-8% casualties on a 1-3 on d6 (extra 1 on range due to success of ritual, higher casualty due to blood-lust)
  • Peasants inflict 1-4% casualties on 1-2 on d6
  • The Globulites will not make morale checks
  • The peasants will make morale checks at the usual increments. Morale failure gives the fleeing villagers a 1 in 6 chance of escaping

Now, the villagers were not totally unprepared, as they had some watchmen. It did not matter. In stages of slaughter the Butchering of Baleah was enacted. But, it was no ordinary act of violence. Remember how I said I allowed a divine influence check? Well... It manifested itself as every time a villager died, a vile and vicious creature that looked and acted exactly like the Chestburster from Aliens blew out of the carcass and began killing even more villagers (I ruled this as a cumulative 1% addition to Globulite inflicted casualties for every casualty they deal). With every dead villager another force of bloodshed was added to the entourage...

Do not give in!
Right when things were looking desperate for the peasants, a stout leader revealed himself and rallied the folk! He was the sort of man who questioned whether a strange lady distributing swords from a lake was any basis for a system of government. With him at the helm, the stout villagers gritted their teeth and fought - fought for their lives, fought for their children's lives, and fought for their homes.
Yeah! We're fucked anyway!


But this meant little in the end. Somehow succeeding on both their 50% and 25% forces morale checks didn't matter. Nobody will ever know the tenacity of the villagers as they were mindlessly slaughtered, except for the Butchers of Baleah. Only two Globulites fell. After the massacre, the Chestbursters dissolved into pools of blood. 


Moon Howler: Fitzpatrick Bateman
Top Glob: Tsutomu Miyazaki
Round MVP: Ralph Wiggum



Stage 4 - Aftermath

After standing in a circle and praying to Globulah, thanking him for the bountiful harvest and a few choice words on the slaughter, they (the Globulites) burn their white (now red) robes in a fire and clean themselves up before changing into their uniform red robes. Next, they commenced a forced march back to Thropsford. I consulted the section on this in the DMG which I never really got until now. They had 5 miles of juice left which meant their forced movement would be 20 miles - that's about 67% extra (I rounded up to 70% due to battle fatigue) of their usual daily movement, meaning they would need 3 hours per 10% x 70% forced movement = 210% rest (2 full days plus 10% of the third - as per the exact example given). They miraculously make it back near the south-eastern entrance without event, and, utterly exhausted, camp a bit away from the road, out of sight of the villagers, as they recuperate.

Camping Encounters
Plains (Check Morning, Evening, Midnight)
Civilised (1 in 20)

: 7, 9, [1] = Midnight Encounter!
Monster: Groaning Spirit
Surprise: Spirit: 4 Globulites: 4 = No Surprise
Encounter Distance: 19" (190 yards)
Reaction: 25% (Hostile, Immediate Attack)
# Watchmen = 3 (I nominated)
Watchmen Fear Saving Throw (vs Spells): 10, 4, 12 - All afraid and flee into the darkness screaming
Greg Saving Throw: Rolled a 16 (needed to beat a 15) so is resolute! Fitzpatrick succeeded also.

Both Greg and Fitzpatrick grovel on ground, lying down and waiting, with no idea what to do. Most of the Globulites are running wildly with fear into the shadowy landscape, dully illuminated by the waning gibbous moon. 40 yards away the echo of a bloodcurdling and sinister shriek is heard (I rolled 1d10 to see how many yards it was away from Greg and Fitzpatrick). How many Globulites did it affect? We'll say at least 5 in proximity would cause it to wail, plus a modifier of d4 (I rolled a 2). So 7 Globulites have to make some saving throws vs Death (17 needed). Rolls: 5, 13, 19, 15, 14, 10, 15. Four Globulites' hearts stop.

Now, I roll another Reaction to see if the creature moves on, having scattered the camp and killed several people. 44. Uncertain, but 55% prone towards negative. 92. The creature ultimately decides to move on. The Globulites slowly trickle back, but I rule that 1d4 do not return (rolled a 4). The final numbers left alive at the camp are 28-4-4 = 20, plus Greg and Fitzpatrick.

Another day of rest.
Checks: 5, 8, 12. No Encounters

Return to Thropsford after a couple of hours sleeping in.
Checks: 14. No Encounters

Time will now tell the ramifications of this event - how long does it take for word of the town's demise to reach the capital? Will the Globulites be held accountable? Where are the missing cultists who ran away during the night of the 16th?

Monday, May 16, 2022

Session 27 - Razorback

Session 27 - Razorback

Foreword: A "successful" session - the players scored big, got off scot-free, and had a fun adventure!

Timekeeping: Session started on the 14/05/2022 and ended on the 24/05/2022. Downtime requests available from 25/05/2022


Caelestis Daemon - 7ft lump of muscle with traps to his ears - 18 years old - Human F1 - CG - 11HP

Daubeny Jamwine - Some Hobbit with a crazy dex bonus - 45 years old - Hobbit T1 - NG - 6HP

Malcolm Mount-Batten - A refined ranger with one of those wide-brimmed British archer helmets - 22 years old - Human Ranger 1 - NG - 11HP

Finesstro the Nimble - Sportacus with bath robes and nothing underneath - 28 years old - Human Magic User 1 - NG - 4HP

Downtime Adjudication: 

Due to this being a new roster there was no downtime to adjudicate except for Finesstro the Nimble (who had downtime from 14/04/2022). Having heard of his friends dying in the sewers beneath Underland while he was sinking ale after ale in the tavern above, he decided to see if the city guard would go down with him and check out the explosion that was heard. They came across a strange study-room with alchemical equipment (mostly destroyed now), as well as the charred carcasses of what must be his friends, for the distinct jawline of Sixtus Sunwalker was evident on the skeleton. The bodies had been picked clean and very obviously after their demise - for sooty trails and disturbances were everywhere. While he was there with the guards, a phantasm appeared! The guards fled, but Finesstro remained and witnessed the traumatic recollection of Milton North being ripped to shreds by a ghastly troll. As an act of Good he gathered his friends remains and set to Sunland where a proper burial was held. The Lord of the town (a Patron player whose PC was one of those who died) declared that the 13th of April would be Saviour's Day (the day of the heroes death), and that monuments to the fallen heroes who have aided Sunland would be erected. 

Aside from this, Finesstro also uncovered some knowledge in the Underland library pertaining to two alleged ruins - the journal of a time-lost explorer documenting a supposed wizard's tomb 70 miles north of Thropsford, and an old ledger specifying a strange ruined village uncovered during patrols far to the south-west of Underland.

Session Report:

The session opens up in the Giant's Shin in Underland. There is no period of awkward introductions as the 3 new PCs are wrangled together by Finesstro the Nimble and soon find a common bond in their conveniently shared birthdays. The 'sacrifice' of seriousness for the unbelievable is totally run-over by its efficacy in driving the game forward. Anyway, for some reason all the players joined hands and I had no idea why. Caelestis got Finesstro intro a friendly headlock when Bill came up to the table.

In the city discord channel Bill posted a notice a week ago about some troubles with a giant boar in the outback. 

A notice has been posted at the Giant's Shin by an estranged farmer and hunter who is requesting aid in hunting down an elusive and vicious giant boar ravaging the countryside to the west. He claims it's tusks are over a foot long, while the creature itself is the size of a carriage. Bill is offering considerable payment and undisputed access to the spoils of the beast's lair if someone can provide it's head! The man is staying at the Giant's Shin for a week. Otherwise, find him at his campsite on Broken Hill, by following the road North-West of Underland towards Brill, and heading due south from Traveller's Lake for another 30 miles."

Yes. This is totally a Razorback reference. After Elf Finder General's Thread on Razorback I watched the movie (something I should have done a while ago, being Australian myself). I couldn't resist sticking it in the game... And it stuck. The players pounced on this and soon enough, after some supplying and equipment checking by Finesstro, the crew were on their merry way to the scrubby north-west of the continent. The temperate moist plains of Underland conveniently gave way to bush-land and after a day of riding they rested. On this first night Bill confessed to Finesstro some anxiety about the parties efficacy when it was revealed that the three new PCs all shared parental complexes related to abandonment or violence. Finesstro was dexterous with his words and calmed the old farmer... Thus they rested. The following day the party arrived at Traveller's Lake, and ran into their first encounter...

Hi there
It was near night-fall when the party sighted a bonfire and large group of people prostrating before an idol by Traveller's Lake. Bill swears and informs the party about the local Fish Cult who he hoped to avoid. Apparently they charge a toll for camping and accessing the water, and as long as you follow their instructions there won't be any trouble. The party gets closer. Someone makes a joke about Old Gregg and I inform them that the idol does look like Old Gregg. Anyway, this weirdo in fishy looking robes with gaunt face comes up. He comments on the Hobbit having favourable blood but nothing comes of this - Finesstro fronts the 10gp camping fee for each member, and informs everyone they will pay him back when they get some treasure. Bill warns everyone to go to sleep straight away and not open their eyes that night. Everybody is tense while very obvious Cthulhu chanting is going off down by the lake and the water is lapping. While everybody is asleep in their cloaks and bedrolls (or pretending to be) they hear squelching steps and a gurgling heaving like a fish out of water by their campsite. Finesstro feels slimy scales rub against his face but... The night passes peacefully. Everybody is up before the cultists. There is some talk about wanting to do something about these evil people - at least robbing them while their asleep seems noble. Cooler heads and impatient Bill's prevail, and the party follows a dusty trail due south into some red-dirt hills for the rest of the day. They go to Bill's shack about 5 miles North-West of Broken Hill, and camp there for the night...

Basically this
The characters are up early and leave Bill (who has a peg-leg from the boar) for a watering hole with a wind-mill to the south-east about 5 miles. They get given a map. Now this is a very interesting situation as the party has a ranger - who can follow tracks! As they arrive at the hole they notice two things - a group of boars drinking around it and, roving over the red hills, a pack of 7 huge wolf spiders charge into the boars and start attacking. The swine flee but 3 get pulled down. The party waits it out and once the coast is clear heads down to the watering hole - where they pull out a waterlogged and mostly consumed corpse of a human buried in the mud. Huge prints are around the site which Malcolm the Ranger picks up and finds a trail! The hunt is on! The party follows him east and by late evening they make it to a strange cave-like formation - two hills intersecting with thorny brambles forming a roof. A pungent and acrid odour permeated the air. There is no activity. Daubeny the Hobbit elects to scout ahead into the darkness while I dutifully roll his Move Silently check. His predator vision doesn't pick up anything but a huge amount of tiny signatures which are presumably maggots given the stench. His foot kicks something and he hears coins tip out. All breaths are held as the echo subsides. Nothing. He calls out. Nothing. Quickly he scoops up a handful of coins and returns. Turns out he found some electrum, and pocketed 20 of them for himself.

The tone changes now as night comes and the party tries to decide on a course of action. They unanimously agree they will fill the place with oil, lead a trail of oil away, and when (if) it returns they will blast it while it sleeps. Firstly they scope the lair out - a lantern is lit and... Score! There are just bags and bags of electrum coins scattered about. Dead, maggot-filled carcasses adorn the place. No signs of plate armour on the corpses, only some banded and chain. Though they do find a couple of gems. Four oil flasks are poured around what appeared to be a nest, and the party, after spreading the oil, drags the fetid bodies over it to mask the scent. They depart from the cave and lie in wait some distance away...

They hear a deep pig-like squeal over the hills. Then, a huge hulking shape can be felt nearby. It is making a ruckus as it shuffles through the dry, red dirt. The players are all on the edge of their seats waiting to see what it does. It rears up a bit as it gets closer to the den... Then, after a pause, it enters. About 30 minutes later Daubeny sneaks up and lights the oil - in moments the brambles are on fire, and pained squealing can be heard as this wagon-sized razorback charges out, with its bristly hide aflame like a burning cape. Triple rate of fire for surprise results in a huge amount of missiles shot at the great beast, which is an easy target due to the flame. Now I call for actions declaration and initiative is rolled - but the beast fails morale and tries to flee, confused and panicked. That same round the flames engulf it and it drops to the ground dead. Every cheers as roast pork is on the menu and nobody got hurt! Still remaining cautious, they camp a little distance away from the burning cave... Resting without interruption. 

Finesstro dumps his spare rations and all the saddle-bags are loaded with electrum, amounting to 1200EP total. Next, Daubeny's two large sacks are tied to the warhorses (owned by previous PCs - decent inheritance!) with 400 EP each, amounting to 2000EP total to be hauled away. As per Bill's request, the Razorback's bristly head is severed and brought back. Finesstro skins the beast too intending to utilise its rough hide. They make it back to Bill's camp safely by evening, and the haunted man is at a loss for words as his vendetta is ended with a charred head thudding on his doorstep. He promised the party a family artifact if they did this task, and so, he hands them the dingy old heavy crossbow he carried around... But not before showing them that it auto-cocks itself. All eyes were wide open as this item was received. The players immediately discussed (away from Bill) how they were going to sell it. *facepalm* Malcolm also donated 400 of his EP to Broken Hill (via Bill).

Over the next few days they journeyed back, which was uneventful except for an encounter with 2 red-desert berserkers who charged them (but got mowed down by missile weapons + the new crossbow, which Caelestis used though non-proficient). Looted 24 silver pieces off them. They also came across a trail of giant arts marching into the north, but had surprise and avoided them. (note: need to find out if PCs should actually get the 'sold' XP if they end up using the magic item on their adventure back to civilisation. This session I gave it to them but probably not kosher - you either keep it and that person gets the keep-reward, or you sell it and divide the GP for group XP. Use of the item then selling means you keep it for a short period and selling won't give group XP)

yeah, yeah... So you robbed them? I'll call off that hit then
The party makes it back to Underland and we round off the session with some haggling. Two of the PCs (Daubeny and Caelestus) take their gems to Alfie Solomons who is conveniently the last jeweler in Underland. He regrets to inform them that their have been some changes to his business and will be charging 100gp per gem-stone evaluated for price (Jewelers don't evaluate for free! Read the DMG!). They refuse and leave on bad terms, insulting Mr Solomons. The other two PCs (Finesstro and Malcolm) go to Barbanikos to sell the magic crossbow. Barbanikos says he needs to check it out and after a while ends up calling Finesstro saying he'll buy it for 5000GP. The players jaws' all drop and the deal is immediately accepted. Finesstro requests his share be kept by Barbanikos in exchange for magical knowledge (the result of which is yet to be revealed). Afterwards, Finesstro and Malcolm take the gems from the other two PCs and go to Alfie to get them evaluated. They notice Alfie is a bit down and inquire - when it's revealed he had some bad customers, Finesstro says he had some gems that he stole from some chumps. Alfie notices that they are the same ones the rude customers brought in, and kindly gives the PCs who "robbed" them a discount of 50gp per evaluation. I note this event as two Good players intentionally lied for personal gain. Turns out the gems are rubbish anyway and Alfie buys both of them for 54gp. It is agreed that Malcolm gets this XP since he fronted the cost. There was some talk of going to Thropsford but the PCs seem to be a lot more cautious now since rumours in the campaign discord have revealed that settlements between cities have been dwindling due to raids from bandits and monsters. The Iron Kingdom is rusting.

Treasure Recovered
2000 EP (1000GP value)
5000 GP
20 EP (10gp value, Daubeny only)
54 GP (Malcolm only)

Monsters Slain
Razorback = 465XP
Wild men x2 = 22XP (total gain reduced to 9XP by relative strengths, as per DMG p84)

Experience Gained
Caelestis = 1618

Daubeny = 1628

Finesstro = 1618

Malcolm = 1672

Character Performance Ratings:

Caelestis = E = Apt adventuring spirit, brave, generally behaved in accordance with Good.

Daubeny = E = Employed thief abilities appropriately, took advantage of opportunities to make some extra money

Finesstro = E = Thought strategically and avoided the front lines. Was eager to give up his treasure share to Barbanikos the Wizard for magical knowledge. Note, did lie to the jeweler Alfie Solomons for personal gain.

Malcolm = E = Appropriate use of ranger abilities in tracking the Razorback. Considered the well-being of the outback residents of Broken Hill when donating his excess share. Note, did lie to the jeweler Alfie Solomons for personal gain.

Downtime Requests: None given at end of session. Downtime will be from 25/05/2022.

Comments: It was nice to see the players come back strong after the past two sessions had ended in either a TPK or loss of resources with minimal gain. After 1 session we've got a Thief ready to level up and the other 3 PCs pretty close.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Session 26 - Pride and Precipie

Session 26 - Pride and Precipie

Foreword: This session had a weird social dynamic crop up. Aside from that, it was a really cool wilderness adventure, with some bizarre encounters neither the players nor I have experienced! This felt like real uncharted territory.

Timekeeping: Session elapsed from 30/04/2022 until 9/05/2022. Downtime requests available from 10/05/2022.

Characters: Bale Tyrannus (1/2O F3), Greg Chapel (H C2), Gilthur Goldburrow (D F1/T1), Ruck Mudsplash (1/2O F1)[H], Fitzpatrick Bateman (H C1)[H]

Downtime Adjudication: Party had downtime from 2/04/2022 until 29/04/2022.

Bale Tyrannus

  • Trained to level 3, spending money on hiring equipment and lancers to learn how to use a Heavy Lance
  • Bought chain armour for his guard dog
  • Had his blood-stone embedded in the pommel of his morning star
  • Sought out an alchemist to make a Potion of Heroism but they wouldn't do it without materials

Greg Chapel

  • Preaching on the Street of the Gods. I worked through with the player how I would determine the outcome, to help enlighten PCs for self adjudicating downtime. We came up with a d12 table of outcomes, and he invested 50gp. Ended up with 12 new followers at the Thropsford stall!
    Cult of Globulah
    Thropsford Branch:
    30 members
    Underland Branch: 8 members

The players also told me that since the Blood Moon was coming up on the 15-16th (the MOST important religious observation of the Globulites) they were going to try to make sure that they are back in civilisation so they can go and slaughter a village. This was hilarious. If the devouts do not do this they will get a Poor rating on their record.

Session Report:

First session back after holidays. Evil PCs in tow, hoping to complete their quest for Winston Churchill and make some serious bank. They stock up on food, oil, and the clerics prepare Create Water for their drinking needs. They follow their map north of the city walls, passing through the plains on foot since the new dwarf Fighter/Thief Gilthur Goldburrow (who is made of quartz - a material which is found next to gold. His eternal struggle...) couldn't afford one. They arrive at the cusp of the swamp by nightfall and rest. It was a peaceful night.

Greg digs a hole and casts Create Water. The party sets out into the swamp, and it is very rough terrain. They take almost the whole day to cover 5 miles and arrive at the Lizard Man huts they murdered the occupants of for loot last time. There is some sign of activity in the shacks and the henchman Ruck suggests everyone pretends to sleep. This doesn't amount to anything and they go to normal watch/sleep. I'm making the party roll their own encounters. This becomes hilarious later as wilderness marshes call for 6 encounter chances a day with a 1 in 10 of occurring. The groans whenever a 1 came up! Delightful. Anyway, Greg and Fitzpatrick are on the first watch when they notice some blinking lights floating outside the swamp. Fitzpatrick wants to follow them, and the group notices the lights going further into the swamp as he approaches - so they call him back and go to sleep. No other encounters.

The party treks further north, eventually seeing some plains in the distance. They enjoy a reprieve from the fetid swampland, and eventually arrive at the start of a great lake stretching north and west. To the east, some huge stone crags reminiscent of badlands jut out on the horizon. The dwarf Gilthur, who has a southern accent for some reason, which became the running gag of the night, specifies that the blighted badlands are exactly the type of place an evil dungeon would be located. They camp at the 'precipie' (industry term) as the lake, swamp, and badlands intersect. There are no encounters.

The party fills their waterskins at the lake and enter the badlands. There is a shallow, but discernible, decline in the area, and the rough rocky ground forms an escarpment to the north-east / south-west, forming something of a pathway. However, the terrain is also very rugged and perilous in areas. Since this hex was quite contained, I ruled that getting lost wouldn't put them in another hex but just mean they did circles. Before starting their journey, Gilthur suggested they use his daggers to carve markings into the hoodoos and Greg elects to smear his blood in them. Because of course he does. Anyway they end up going in a circle, but figure out where they are and eventually make it to the end of the badlands - the scenery changes now as the slight decline they were heading down becomes much steeper to the north-east, as some sort of swampy ravine comes into view. It looks like the Dead Marshes, with the fog and all. It's night-fall at this point, and the party camps... But during the night Greg hears a huge shriek from the badlands, and a group of wings begin beating overhead in the darkness. The party is awoken, the fire doused, and Bale sets his predator vision to the skies - alas, whatever it was is gone. No more encounters during the night.

comments were made
The party climbs down into the marsh-ravine, and it is a tough slog - the worst of the rough and the fetid swampland. By noon they are the bottom of it, and see it slopes up now. The rest of the day is spent climbing up the boggy slopes, and eventually they make it to the top. To the north-east the party sees a lake. They camp for the night... And once again, Greg suffers an encounter on his first watch. He hears a large shape walking through the darkness. Then a voice calls out. It is feminine yet inhuman. The group wakes up and wields their weapons, but the voice insists they lay down their arms and it will enter the light. They concede, and a Gynosphinx enters the scene. I don't quite remember how or why, but they ended up insulting the creature and taunting it. I was honestly baffled, that days beyond the civilised lands, being met by a non-hostile being of immense wonder and enchantment, that they would not be amicable and risk angering it. I ruled that due to it's intelligence and alien nature it was equally baffled and instead decided that the party has a chance to meet its payment or it will eat them. They have until morning to present gems, riddles, poems, or knowledge (particularly of the location of an Androsphinx). The players all start talking. Greg tries writing haikus, Bale and Gilthur try to make riddles. The Gynosphinx sits patiently through it all. I inform the party that we can do this two ways - you make your riddles in secret and I'll see if I can answer them, or I will abstract the sphinx's discernment with a roll/some logic. Leaving me to figure it out seems more interesting, and probably seems like better odds to them and so the players conspire.

At about midnight they announce they are ready. Bale presents his riddle:

What is given by the Father
Flows like a river
Pools like a lake

The Gynosphinx answers correctly Blood, but Bale lies and says it's Time. Once more I am baffled. He is granted a chance to explain it, but his explanation broke down at "Pools like a lake". It went something like "Sometimes you have lots of things happening at once, which is when time pools" Then, Greg presented two poems:

Within this moist dry gorge,
In search of lost treasure,
I find the big breastfed creature
of all mankind's dream.

Beautiful badlands
Of all Globulah's blessings
To gaze upon thy titties
Is Holgard's own gift.

Finally, Gilthur presents his riddle:

What has peaks like a mountain,
Lows like a valley,
But does not exist

Now, I did actually hear the PCs discussing this one so I had an inkling, and thus left it to roll. I also came up with my own general answer. Gilthur Goldburrow was thinking of gold stocks. The Gynosphinx said "the value of something" and he conceded it correct.

However, the being was not satisfied with Bale's riddle and decided to test the other two presenters on whether they thought the answer was Blood or Time, their lives versus Bale's being weighed. Gilthur says it's blood. Now there is great tension... Greg Chapel has had some misgivings about Bale Tyrannus. He... Says blood. There is bickering, and the Gynosphinx grants an ultimatum - Bale's life, or all the parties horses, as well as Greg's armour. Gilthur votes horses and armour. There is more bickering... Greg decides to keep his armour and the horses. The Gynosphinx charges Bale. His dog flees, but his henchman is resolute. It doesn't matter. All 29 of his HP gets annihilated as he fails to land any blows. In his final moments, Bale Tyrannus was grovelling before the creature begging for his life. 

The rest of the party fled or hid nearby. Greg did pray to Globulah that, if this half-orc truly was the Champion he was shown through the Guru, then to send some agent for aid. Alas the call was not answered. Ruck stopped attacking the creature, which ignored him and ate Bale. It then took his belt pouch of 99 platinum, and snapped the blood-stone off his Morning Star's pommel, before flying away.

After this, the party regrouped, split the supplies of Bale they desired, began their journey homeward, leaving Winston Churchill's quest to rot with the corpse of Bale Tyrannus. Bale's player made the fitting statement... "Rest in turmoil."

The party spent the next few days, until the 9th, returning to Thropsford. Their map (as well landmarks) guided them well. There were few events:

  • An ominous cave opening was found in the swamp ravine that they decided to ignore
  • Ruck Mudsplash was found dead one morning after his watch, his face in a rictus of horror, with no sign of damage or harm.
  • The strange lights appeared to them again

The survivors settled back at the Swan and Paedo, with naught to show for their efforts, though Gilthur ended up with Bale's horse.

Treasure & XP: Overcoming the Gynosphinx - 1280xp split 2.5 ways means 512XP for Greg and Gilthur, 256 XP for Fitzpatrick Bateman

Character Performance Ratings: Evil alignments were well represented this session, but otherwise not enough opportunity for a fair assessment. Default to Excellent (until I come up with a reasonable way to make a 2-3 rating the standard without crippling the PCs more than 1500gp/wk for Excellence entails) Nagora

Downtime Requests: Greg and the Globulites are preparing a Blood Moon Slaughter for the 15/16 of May, with pamphlets being handed out to keep the night available. There is only one more Blood Moon this year, and the next won't be until

Comments: This session a social issue manifested itself at the table. Both Bale and Greg's players had different views of how their characters understood the party dynamic, and this was reflected in Greg's ultimate betrayal of Bale to preserve his armour and the parties horses. This resulted in much discussion after the game, as both players discussed their position, and ultimately we left with an uncomfortable feeling of disappointment. But the campaign moves on.