Dustin's Fantasy campaign

GM comments on Session 2

I thought that was a cool fight at the end! Seemed like the right level of challenging, ended with most of the party walking wounded and staggering but still hanging on. I especially liked that moment when Konshu was reeling and Fiona, wounded herself, ran over to sling an arm under him and hold the skeletons at bay with her True Faith, very heroic ‘Sense of Duty – Adventuring Companions’ moment.

That Mass Daze spell is a strong opening gambit from a caster with high skill, though maybe not the most fun for the players to be on the receiving end haha. However, something to be said for not bunching up against enemy spellcasters, those Area spells can seriously fuck you up. Hopefully a lesson well learned, a turn spent on Moves/Waits to spread out instead of everyone rushing in together can be a smart tactical play.

Zardrae is a tricky character with a very useful ability, really kept Yuro on the defensive, stopped him from casting more spells or moving in and straight withering the whole group with his fatigue draining attack (which probably would have crushed the entire party at that point, tightly packed as you were). Also managed to rescue the poor, hapless farmer’s wife at great risk to himself. MVP well earned indeed! However, I was randomly looking at the Body Sense skill, and for that move when Yuro had his back against the pillar and Zardrae teleported upside-down above him, that would have been at around -7 to skill for changing facing and changing orientation! I’ll keep that in mind for the future …

Yuro had some classic lich-type advantages like Darkvision and Injury Tolerance of course, and his Fatigue Draining Aura attack came out to something like a 47 point power. But his Unkillable 1 combined with High Pain Threshold and a ton of Hard to Subdue was the only thing that kept him standing as Liana and Zardrae just hacked him up. I think he took a total of 115 HP of damage before crumbling to ash! Interestingly though, not actually undead, technically still living but held together only through the dark gifts of Nerull – Fiona may have been unpleasantly surprised had she tried to assert her faith on him. And I liked that it came down to the last turn too – had Liana not dropped him when she did, he likely would have put her down to 0 FP on his turn with his fatigue attack. Some tense, exciting shit.

Session 2
The Sanctuary of Nerull

Liana and Seye subdued the surviving ogres in their lair before Fiona drained them of energy as well as the last of their life essence. After resting a few minutes, the party opened the locked wooden door and discovered the captured farmer and his daughter. Through his tears, the farmer thanked the heroes for rescuing them and told the party that the ogres had eaten his son the previous evening, and not an hour beforehand their human captors had taken his wife. He and his daughter then fled the complex.

With the mercenary sergeant giving her a boost, Liana peered over the ogres’ wood piled in the open archway and into the room beyond, describing a square chamber containing one ornately carved, unopened stone coffin and four more plain coffins that had been disturbed. Seye was able to pick the lock to the iron door in the ogres’ chamber, and Konshu and the sergeant proceeded down the dark hall. The pair triggered a devious pit and portcullis trap; while Konshu blinked to safety, the sergeant leaped clear of the false floor only to be impaled by the falling iron grate. Zardrae tossed his dagger past the barrier, teleported over and raised the portcullis off of the mercenary; meanwhile Liana chopped down a wooden door to use as a bridge across the obstacle. Beyond the trap the heroes discovered the cultists’ treasure, including several potions and an unusual stone covered in arcane runes.

The secret door leading to the vault opened into the same coffin room that Liana had seen. As Konshu began to Create and Shape Earth with the intent of sealing the closed coffin, an unknown malign entity made psychic contact and ordered them to leave this place; apparently Konshu’s reply was unsatisfactory, and the horrific wraith within the coffin emerged with a roar. Several of the mercenary hirelings were paralyzed in terror and the party’s initial attacks seemed unable to harm the creature. Fiona brandished her holy symbol with the power of her faith, causing the wraith to flee from her and inflict a toxic touch attack on Konshu. Fortunately Seye was able to wither its limbs with a critical success on his spell, and then Fiona enchanted Liana’s blade with Affect Spirits, allowing the swashbuckler to vanquish the monster.

Before the party could thoroughly investigate the coffin room, Zardrae teleported to the library beyond, where he heard some ominous chanting emanating from the next chamber through and open archway. He raised the portcullis separating him from the rest of the team, then stealthily crept up to look in upon the next room, spying four skeleton warriors guarding two robed figures who stood over an evil-looking altar, clearly preparing to do something horrible with the farmer’s wife.

Zardrae shed all of his gear and armor, then managed to sneak into the temple room and lob his magical dagger into the pool of unholy water behind the altar. Liana then entered the room and created a sexy distraction, managing to stun the lesser cleric with her good looks while Yuro commanded his skeletal minions to kill the intruders. Amidst the distraction Zardrae grabbed the farmer’s wife and teleported her back to safety. As the party moved into the temple room, the skeleton warriors stepped forward to block the heroes’ advance while Yuro blasted the team with a powerful Mass Daze that caught nearly the entire group, threatening to turn the tide against the PCs.

Only Zardrae’s constant harassment combined with Liana’s powerful sword swings kept the lich from moving in to finish the group off. The skeletons hacked away at the mercenaries holding the line, ultimately managing to kill one of the spearman and the sergeant. Obad-Hai was able to break through the evil sanctity of the temple and snap Fiona back to action, and she in turn began striking her comrades to counteract the effects of the daze. There were heroic feats from every party member – Konshu single-handedly fending off three skeletons at once before Fiona ran over to prop up the reeling samurai and drive the creatures back with her faith; Seye using staff strikes, deathtouch spells and a timely judo throw to drop one of the skeletons to the ground and disarm it; Arthur D’Bruin rushing into the fray and shattering several undead creatures; Zardrae tackling the lesser cleric and stabbing him to death while beset by axe strikes; and not the least Liana the Lionness who, nearing collapse after enduring Yuro’s fatigue-draining aura, struck blindly into an area of pure darkness and managed to inflict the final, telling blow on the lich, crumbling him to nothing but ash and a wisp of noxious vapor.

As the last of the skeletons was dispatched and the party began to collect their breath, the door of the temple room burst open. In strode Toren Isegard, the hulking champion of Nerull, followed by a dozen more cultists with swords and shields. Surveying the field and spotting a worthy foe among the heroes, the blackguard ordered his minions back, leveled his massive sword and challenged Arthur to personal combat, and the session closed on a dramatic note.

+3 cp for all – a tough, tough battle well fought, solid tactical play from the group. MVP for +1 cp was Zardrae for his clutch teleportations and dagger strikes, not only rescuing the cult’s captive before she could be sacrificed, but also keeping Yuro on the defensive long enough for the party to bounce back from what could have been a crushing Mass Daze.

Will Arthur prevail? Will the party escape the Sanctuary of Nerull with their lives? I give them 50/50.

Session 1
Into the Depths

The team assembled at the new Fallkeep office of the adventuring company. We met Fiona Ember, fire cleric of Obad-Hai hailing from the frigid southern islands; Konshu, the Kazik-themed fighter/mage with a gnomish technical background; Arther D’Bruin, noble holy warrior of Heironeous and a member of some standing in the company; Liana “the Lionness,” a swashbuckling former pirate with impressive sword skills; Zardrae, an agile warrior with a magically-imbued teleportation dagger; and Seye Tieg, a fearsome Blood Moon martial artist from the exotic east.

After a meeting with Jarrett Barclay, curmudgeon-y manager of the Fallkeep office, a squad of six mercenaries from the Black Marches Brigade arrived and offered their services on the mission in exchange for one quarter of the total loot. The party was dispatched to meet with Lord Ravenguard, scion of a once-proud family and owner of a small fief and estate in the hills outside the city. The nobleman recounted that some of his villagers were complaining of problems that were beneath a man of his station, and he instructed the heroes to discuss the matter in detail with his headman Longtread. Liana helped herself to an expensive bottle of liquor before the team departed, and in the village of Stromguard they met with Longtread in the town inn. The former hunter and tracker explained that in recent months some villagers had mysteriously gone missing; at first it was one individual at a time, but more recently entire families have been taken. He offered the PCs 500 sp each to investigate and put a stop to whatever was occurring.

That night, as the heroes took their rest in the inn and in a nearby barn, a young man came riding frantically into the village, saying that riders in black had come and taken his family while he was out in the woods relieving himself. The heroes left one of the mercenary crossbowmen back at the barn to guard their gear and departed, first to the family’s farm and then off into the dark, wooded hills, following the horse tracks left by these mysterious riders. After a brief encounter with a small band of trolls that were quickly dispatched, the team came upon a pile of horse bones beside one of the many creeks winding through the area. Following the water led them to a cave opening, and after lighting Fiona’s lantern they descended into the depths.

After marching some distance down into the narrow, wet cavern, the group was confronted by three bizarre creatures that Fiona identified as gricks, predatory beasts hailing from another dimension. While their stealth skills, tough, rubbery hides and grasping tentacles proved a challenge to some of the party members, the creatures were ultimately dispatched without injuries, and some of their black blood and beaks were collected for possible profit later.

Another half hour of careful traversing led the team to a crevice in the rock wall through which their quarry seemed to have passed recently, and the team soon found a carved staircase leading down to a passage of quality worked stone and a portcullis barring entry into some sort of dungeon complex. As they descended, Fiona and Arthur noted that this place seemed to radiate unholy energy that interfered to some degree with their connections to their own gods. Arthur and the mercenary sergeant attempted to lift the portcullis and were struck by hostile magic, which Seye identified as a Deathtouch spell, and Fiona was able to heal the sergeant. Fortunately Konshu and Zardrae were able to teleport past the barrier and quietly raise it from the other side. The team noted that the columns and doorways all seemed to bear bas relief carvings depicting bizarre alien landscapes, disturbing creatures and astrological imagery.

Some initial exploration revealed an entry room which the inhabitants of the dungeon seemed to be excavating; a training room with fighting dummies, sparring circles and a table bearing a variety of weapons; a carpentry room with a workbench and tools; and down a long, dark corridor, the team encountered a band of three ogres occupying a filthy, stinking room. The battle with the ogres was brief but the brutes proved to be tough. Fiona opened the fight with an explosive fireball that scorched all of their foes, but they seemed able to shrug off the charring as well as multiple sword thrusts and crossbow bolts. One of the ogres landed a nasty javelin strike back at Fiona while another delivered a solid blow with its oversized mace to Zardrae that might have felled a lesser man. At one point Zardrae was able to use his teleporting prowess to escape from what could have been a fatal neck grapple and Seye administered some healing magic to Fiona, while Arthur, Konshu and Liana charged into the fray. Liana was ultimately able to cut the legs out from under one of them and drop him into Fiona’s flames to burn to death, and the two other ogres then dropped their maces and attempted to surrender in broken Common. Some initial questioning revealed that they were afraid of whatever lurked in the room beyond an open archway into which they’d piled their firewood; afraid of whatever lurked beyond the solid iron door set in the nearby wall; and especially afraid of someone they referred to as ‘Yuro,’ for whom they seemed to be working.

We’ll begin Session 2 in the ogre’s barracks. +3 cp for the team, some good fights, some exploration, novel solutions to some problems, I thought overall a fun session. MVP for +1 cp was Fiona Ember – her Create Fire, Shape Fire and Explosive Fireball spells really made a big impact on those encounters with the gricks and the ogres.

GM comments on Session 1
Some things I'd like us to think about

A couple of comments for the group’s consideration:

First, I thought it was really fun. Six PCs plus five hirelings makes for a big-ass group, so encounters can grind a little, but I’m trying to keep things moving along. Apologies for mixing up turn orders and such, I have a lot of shit going on in my head haha, appreciate everyone paying attention there and calling it out when I mess up. I’m considering making up some markers to place next to PCs with things like ‘Wait,’ ‘Aim,’ ‘AoA’, etc. just to help remind us exactly what everyone did on their last turn. And I was so excited hoping Cory forgot that Parrying wasn’t going to be effective against an ogre’s club, did not consider that he had a much higher ST, I officially take foot and insert into mouth haha.

I saw DJ was not super thrilled when the grick encounter became a little challenging for Liana, after the shield grapple and the fact that her weapon wasn’t super effective against them. I specifically designed these encounters to test different PCs in different ways – just like Dr. Crane was not the star in every Monster Hunters encounter, some heroes are going to shine more in different situations, that’s why you’re part of a team. I personally think that’s all part of the fun! I put a lot of work into planning out these games and I’ll admit it’s disheartening for me, the GM, to see a player resign and just pull out his phone when something doesn’t go exactly his way. So please try not to get super frustrated just because a situation is getting tricky, that’s how it goes sometimes, it’s not me getting personal against you or your character. While Fiona got speared in the chest and Zardrae got his ribs broken by a mace, Liana just waltzed in and diced that ogre the fuck up, right? Some encounters will go your way and some won’t, nature of the game.

Also, I saw when Cory was having Arthur engage with the NPCs that Rob was doing that ‘talk talk talk’ motion with his hand. I thought that was kind of rude actually – this is a tabletop RPG, not a game of WoW; if Cory is engaging with the story and enjoys actually RPing his character, that’s part of the fun for him, and I’d appreciate it if we could be more considerate of other people’s fun. I’m sorry if the NPC interaction ain’t doing it for you, but I try to plan games around what I believe each player enjoys, kind of give everyone something they want.

Okay I’ve said my comments. Floor is also open for comments back to the GM – what’s working for you guys, what’s not, how can I make the games more fun for you?

Enhanced tech and neverwhen Tech

In a fantasy-sword&sorcery setting, the blame for retardation of technological progress can always be laid at the feet of magic industry. Solid foundation in TL3 is standard. But when a world exists for at it for hundreds (thousands in the case of some D&D countries) some items can be a shade of TL4. It is called TL3+1.

Candles; TL3 they are fat, crude, and usually inefficient. TL4 the Taper model appears. Burning better, longer and can vary in size. In a country or fantastical race home where it is a slight breakthrough, it could be considered a TL3+1 item. p. Clockwork; The big kind help windmills and watermills become efficient, Pocket watch at the experimental end of TL3 but well into TL4. But a dwarven clockwork battle suit?, definitely realm of TL3+1 for crude models. Likely TL3+2..

GURPS Low Tech can help explain this better, this is just a glimpse of what can be.

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