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?

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