Friday, March 27, 2020

Seaward: Massive Update

  The players decided to do a focused scout inside Skull Mountain so set off through the Briars with a party heavy on thieves and light on fighters (although the ranger Starfalcon was there).
  After a long slog up the Old Road slowed down by massive Spring rains and high winds the party reached the Plateau just in time to see a group of human-shaped figures go down what they call the Hunter's Trail on the south slope. Some very careful scouting by familiars revealed a camp about 1 mile down filled with a hobgoblin warband of about 60.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Blackstone: Massive Update

  Time for a dump of all the adventuring done in Blackstone since Christmas!

The Fever Lands
  Two groups of PCs went to the Fever lands.

      In the East a tough team of PCs crept down the Viper River, passt the ruins of Tamoachan (where they saw the ancient city swarming with megalocentipedes), and scouted the foreboding Jade Tower.
  They were forced to be very careful because of the winged apes that hunt throughout this area, but eventually learned that the last surviving leaders of the Necromancer Cult were hidden in the Jade Tower, led by an Ogre Mage chieftain. A judicious  use of illusions and misdirection and they successfully ambushed the Ogre Mage. It was a fierce battle, but the badly-bloodied party prevailed.
  They threw down the tower and left.

      In the West a very different party went to the colony established by the King of Blackstone two decades before and right into the middle of political intrigue.
  The military governor was Baron Addan, formerly an independent nobleman whose domain was annihilated by a dragon (an adventure the players had in in 2009!). Forced to appeal to the King he has been the military governor of the colony for almost a decade. Under his leadership the sleepy village that cost money to own was turned into a bustling trade town making the King great wealthAddan's triplet son Arran, Bordann, and Eamonn, were great assets. The soldiers were 50/50 retainers of Addan (and fiercely loyal to him) and royal recruits (who worshiped the triplets).
  But the king had sent his cousin, Count Farnorr, to the town to become the new noble ruler. Farnorr had brought his own sizeable group of retainers. The triplets were openly bitter and Addan had focused on building a sturdy walled village 2 days South into the jungle and was openly manning it with those most loyal to himself.
  Count Farnorr met with the adventurers (who were there for the Inquisition) along with the local bishop and Farnorr's daughter, Faella. They discussed the search for cultists, the dangers of the Fever Lands, and more.
  Addan left for the remote village the next day. And 2 nights later the PCs were summoned in the middle of the night - the triplets had kidnapped Faella and fled South, taking some of Addan's most loyal with them! As the Count prepared an actual army he begged the party to pursue, and pursue they did.

  things got weird almost immediately. Just 3 miles outside of town they found one of Addan's men beheaded next to a lame horse. The ranger was able to piece together that one of the triplets had had his horse tumble and go lame and then seemed to kill his own soldier and take his horse. They later found the rest of the troops, all killed in melee. But no sign of the triplets or Faella.
  The party forged on with horses, slowly losing ground to the triplets who were switching between 4 horses each.Then the party saw smoke on the horizon.
  The arrived to the village in flames. The dead were Addan's own men and the royal soldiers with Addan himself dead at the door to the main keep. The palisade and keep were burning allowing the ranger to deduce that the soldiers loyal to the triplets had ambushed their father and his men, then the triplets had killed the survivors before setting off South on foot (no horses beyond the village). Faella was still with them.

  The party buried Addan, placed the other bodies in the fires, and briefly rested before continuing on foot.
  Faella was slowing down the triplets and the party hoped to catch them when they were suddenly ambushed by a tasloi warband, including tasloi on giant wasps dropping nets.
  The fight was very tough, especially one the chieftain showed up armed with a Ring of Blinking, a Potion of Invulnerability, Bracers of AC 4,and a poisoned spear. But after a very, very tough fight the party prevailed, killing the chief and shaman and scattering many survivors.
  Pressing onward they were approached by a pair of jungle elves. Impressed that the party had defeated the tasloi warband the elves exchanged information about the terrain and the tasloi village for some arrowheads. The jungle elves referred to the triplets as 'the ancient evil' and reluctantly told the party where to find them.

  The party is soon ambushed by another tasloi warband... and the chieftain?! The fight was rough and the chieftain was insanely tough. And when they killed the chief? He turned back into he normal form.
A doppleganger.

  The party was able to track down Where the warband came from and found "the chieftain" exhorting another warband! The pary ambushed the warband, for once, and when the doppelganger was killed the tasloi fled.

  Following the directions the jungle elves had given (finally!) the party found an ancient Jade Empire (Mayincatec) building. As they approached the 30' stone dwelling two Faella's emerged! There was a bit of a standoff trying to figure out which was which until the mage cast Sleep and they killed the one who was confused, THEN fell down (the mage has a Ring of Mind Shielding).

  Looting the building they learned a lot, including that the dopplegangers had been living there for at least 3,000 years. The found a map to the Flint Skies (the mythical capitol of the ancient Jade Empire). Now, there are 6-7 maps to the Flint Skies but they are all proven inaccurate. This one, though, was complete enough for them to figure out why all the maps are broken - the map gave directions based on the stars and the map was so old the stars have moved.
  The party stashed the accurate map (they can adjust!) and took Faella home.

  They met the Count at the village. He was very happy to see his daughter. Over the next few days the truth of Addan's loyalty, the evidence that his son's had been murdered and replaced a year previously, and his tragic death, believing he was betrayed by his own sons, had a profound effect on the Count.

  The party rested, re-equipped, and headed right back out. With scouting they located the tasloi village and staged an attack that killed a few, but fell back, planning guerilla tactics against the number humanoids.
  But then a massive green dragon landed. At first the tasloi greeted it warmly, saying they were under attack and asking 'their master' to kill the intruders.
  But the dragon grew angry. When he learned that the magic items he had loaned to them had been stolen he bellowed,
  "You have failed me! You are TOO WEAK to be my servants!"
  And he killed them all before flying away.

  The party left, fast, and warned the count of the dragon just 4 days away!.

Next entry - catching up on Seaward.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Pulp Adventures and a general update

Inside Baseball
The contract that keeps the lights on was not renewed so I have been looking for a new contract/gig/job. Unfortunately, blogging suffers first. Sorry for the light posting

In General
We have continued to play the Seaward and Blackstone campaigns (updates coming) and Champions. The big reveal from Seaward?
The Men of Varied Colors are a type of genie!

Pulp Champions
  When I started the Atlantaverse back in 2013 all I wanted was a setting for my sons and their friends to play Champions. Two of the kids were from a family that thinks D&D is iffy but superheroes are cool and I appreciate but dislike the official Champions Universe (Why? Status quo).
  Well, things got out of hand since all 9 players wanted to jazz band so we quickly had a ton of backstories. I had made a pseudo-history for the alternate dimension of the Atlantaverse (where the US has a commonwealth-style parliamentary system, BTW) that touched on numerous topics ranging from alien invasions to secret cabals to where socks go when they vanish from the dryer (yes, really).
The the crew wanted to play street-level guys in Hudson City so I stole the map, made new hereoes, villains, and groups, and off we went. And then....
  Well, you get the idea. Long story short I signed a license with HERO (God bless them and their business) and am writing the basic setting down in a presentable format.
(Artists I hope to Kickstart a future full art version).

  So what did the hardcore central 3 players demand?
  Pulp adventures in the past! They wanted to be in the Atlantaverse back when radio was king so they can be at ground zero for the Secret History of my superhero universe.

My reply?

Monday, November 4, 2019

DM Report: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks

  As I have mentioned before, over the years I have very rarely used a published module and, when I do, I heavily modify it. The exception has been that over the last few years at Halloween the players all make one-shot characters and I run a classic module.
  Then there is Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.
  For a variety of reasons that could fill a novella in the Winter of 1980 through the Summer of 1985 I DMed Expedition to the Barrier Peaks about 8 times, never for my own "main group" and never canonical in my own setting. Just one of those things.
  So this year the Halloween adventure was Expedition!
  The players all took last Friday off of work and we started Thursday night and played 4 hours. Then 6 on Friday, 6 on Saturday, and 4 on Sunday, wrapping up the module in a grand total of 20 hours that included breaks for meals (I got a new smoker and we blew through a LOT of meat).

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Scaling and Threats: DM Insights

We all know the player where we aren't sure what the heck they're doing at the table. Here's my favorite example, from my old friend Mike Nevala's d6 Star Wars game.

  The young Jedi, hotshot pilot, young senatorial, and smuggler were separated in the Imperial base. The Jedi (me) found the young senatorial (now my wife on what was our first real date a looooooong time ago) pinned down by blaster fire and rescued her. The smuggler (my wife's best pal) had already stolen a shuttle and was waiting for us at a side exit. The hotshot pilot (Dave, in his first game with us) was on top of a lift when this occurred.
  Mike: "Above you you see a metal grate about 4 meters square - the top of the lift shaft. Above it you see the lift machinery. The elevator will be at the top soon, if you don't do something you'll be crushed."
  Dave: "Uhhhhhh. I pray."
  Mike: "Wha?"
  Dave: " I kneel in the corner and pray for the Force to save me."
  Mike: "Ummmm. OK, as you raise your eyes in prayer you see that in the very center of the grate the grill has a different pattern, an area about a meter on the side."
  Dave: "Does the Force tell me what to do?"
  Mike: "....noooo. But that square area could be an access hatch or something."
  Dave: "I don't move."
  Mike: "OK, well. You die."

  Dave never played with us again. I saw him 2 years later and he was still complaining bitterly that Mike was a killer GM.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Play Report: Dragon Heist

  I get to write a play report!
  For my birthday everyone promised to get me at the table in front of the screen more often.
  Jack picked up the adventure Dragon Heist.

  Me: 1st level dwarven wizard Don Jose Francisco Diego Bernardino Mateo Marco Maria Mateo de la Chula Vista, Conde de San Luis Obispo. Noble, bon vivant, and natural philosopher.
  Sam: 1st level skeleton bard Mr. Skeleton. A good, decent man who loved music so much he returned from the grave to play. Can't speak.
  Nick: 1st level half-elven cleric of war Elendil the Blackhearted. Formerly a pirate notorious for his viciousness, he had an epiphany, changed his ways forever, and is now a mighty force for Good and foe of injustice.

Monday, September 30, 2019

DM Report: the trip to Robias

  Over the weekend we had a bookkeeping session/mini-adventure/investigation mission.
  The Party:
  Jennifer = Fiona, half-elven Fighter/Magic-user
  Jack = Athanasius, human Cleric
  Alex = the Sparrow, half-elven Fighter/Thief
  Sam = Clarence, Human Fighter/Ninja (books, wishes, and such involved)
  Nick = Thoren, half-orc Fighter/Thief