Tuesday, November 18, 2008

11/15 Actual Play

Finally got to play in Dan's one-shot. Well, one-shot like. From the campaign description:

Character creation: as per our usual. Monsterous races are a go as
well. Characters start at 4th level. Players are encouraged to roll up
several characters and pick the one they wish to start with.

Character backgrounds: do not write them! In fact, don't spend a
moment's time thinking about it. I know this is a bit unusual, but the
"ideas" I have for the campaign make it necessary. The 1st session
will explain all ;)

Setting: The bulk of the campaign will take place on the island
(almost continent in size) of Scarrowfell, though the party won't
start there perse. normally I'd give you a low-down of the region, but
your group will be discovering it so...

On death and dying: I'm not going to pull any punches. If the hairy
nappy ass of death should sit upon your character, don't worry
though... I have a system in place to accommodate this.

In attendance were:

Me, playing Ayler the Half Elf Star Pact Warlock,
Jesse, playing Grom the Minotaur Cleric of Kord
Colin, playing a Tiefling Wizard
Chelsea, playing a Halfling fighter
Dan, DMing and running Lyla his Halfling Rogue.

I did not catch Colin or Chelsea's character names, so I will not be using character names this time. Sorry.

We started with a very cinematic opening setting the scene in the belly of a ship about to be hit by a legendary (and possibly evil definitely dangerous) storm. We awoke in a room dressed in rags, surrounded by some dead bodies dressed like us and some not. Introductions were made, and we began exploring.

Colin found Dan's DMPC in the next room and began tending to her, as she seemed more badly hurt than us (we started at full health, with all our surges). Jesse began breaking down doors, and found a room with crates filled with magical gear. As the pre game posting established, we did not remember anything about our past, but we sure knew this was our stuff. After outfitting ourselves we approached the stairs leading to the deck.

Peeking from the crack in the door we saw that the sailors on the deck were pretty busy with sailory things that we could not see, as we were below deck. Jesse boldly strode through the doors and there was a brief uneasy standoff. The Captain said that we could fight them if we wished, but that we would die in the storm if we did. We could help them if we were able, and possibly survive it together.

The Minotaur and the Halfling got to work, both possess inhuman strength and took right to the work. Not long after that we saw in the gloom a wall of water advancing. With not much time, Jesse pointed and shouted "Wave!", and latched his arms around the main mast. The rest of us bolted for the door down, and almost made it.

Chelsea was last through the door. Just as she went to close it the wave hit. The power of the water was obviously too strong for her to overcome, but somehow she held the door while the wave crashed over the ship. Jesse called upon his god for aid and locked his arms together.

The violent motion of the wave tossed the ship about, and once again we all lost consciousness, only to wake floating on the flotsam that once was a large and powerful ship. Jesse was still hanging onto the mast with both hands, and we made our way to him, lashing several of the larger pieces together and tying them together. Colin and I performed a ritual meant to mend broken things in an attempt to shore up our flimsy raft, and we began the slow journey to the line on the horizon.

Jesse kicked for hours and slowly moved us closer, allowing the land to take shape as a low island in the distance, then as a beach with a dense forest beyond, and finally as something firm under our shaky feet. We immediately went into survival mode, searching for food and water.

We walked up a low hill, sticking to a game trail in the hopes that it would guide us to water. The sound of a waterfall began to get louder, and we rounded a bend to a small waterfall feeding a brackish pond. We drank our fill, refilled our water containers and continued on the game trail. The sharp scent of smoke caught our nose, and we began to suspect that we were not alone on the island.

After a short time travelling we came to a road. The game trail continued on the other side of the road, but we now knew that there was some kind of civilization on the island. We followed our nose up the road, and before too long were at a wooden palisade manned by a nondescript human guard.

Still unsure about where we were, or even who we were, we asked the guard a few questions. We learned:
- The smoke is the result of a warehouse owner burning down his warehouse to eliminate a rat infestation.
- The town is ruled over by some 'Lords'.
- There is an inn.
Jesse and I suspected that there was something that he was holding back, but Jesse was blinded by his desire for rat stew. As he went to let us in, I noticed something. Some new questions were asked:
- Why does the gate lock from the outside? To keep the slaves in, of course!
- Slaves make up a large part of the population of this city.
- They are identified by a magical sigil on their forehead.
- Guards could not see this mark, but some arcanists could.
After a team huddle to see whether we had this mark (we did), some more questions were answered:
- There was one other hospitable human habitation on the island, the capitol some distance away. They also had a wall, and slaves, and magical forehead sigils. Orcs and others populated the rest of the island.
- The guard was not a slave.
We were all set to ditch this town and try the Capitol, when I asked a curious question:
- Did they have any riding lizards in this town? As a matter of fact, yes they did. One. Washed up from the wreckage of a trade ship that went down in the storm the other day. Vicious beast.

I really needed to find that riding lizard. I may not have remembered anything about my life before, but I did remember Miles. The party reneged, and we went into the city despite our better judgement. Miles was retrieved from the stables while the party went to grab a bite at the inn.

The inn was small and did not seem welcoming to strangers. There were no patrons at the bar. At one table sat two men who kept to themselves. At the other sat a sick man alone, continually coughing into his handkerchief. As he went into a coughing fit and began to choke, Jesse and I moved to his side and attempted to help, but it was too late, and he died. The barmaid matter-of-factly told us that it was likely due to the plague.

Plague? The smell of smoke and booming rat population now made a lot of sense. According to the barmaid a supernatural plague had been ravaging the city of late, and there was little that could be done about it. Many had died, slaves and nobles as well as commoners. She said that the Lord of the town had been attempting to find someone or a group of someones to take steps to end the plague, but had so far not been very successful.

We left the inn and made for the Lord's manor. Our arcane marks could be removed by Colin, if he had the right ritual, and we figured that in exchange for ridding the town of the plague, we might be allowed to learn this ritual and free ourselves. The Lord seemed agreeable to this plan of action, and gave us a map to a nearby cave. He seemed to believe that the cave was the source of the plague, but had us speak to a Seer about it before we left.

The Oracle was an old woman in a run down shack. She seemed ill, but was able to give us some hints and direction. The source of this plague was indeed inside this cave we were headed to. We should trust nobody outside our group. She did not know our past of posses our memories, but knew that the same thing that had stolen our past had spread this plague (and was the source of the storm).

With that we made for the cave. It was not a short journey, and required us to follow the map. We had not been doing that well, and were somewhat off course when we all fell into a sinkhole. It was not a serious fall, and we would have immediately climbed back out, but as we looked at our surroundings we saw that we had fallen into an old ruin. The walls were decorated with motifs that indicated that this temple dated from the time of the old Tiefling empire, but the details had eroded away. We decided to look around a bit before we continued on. Dan went ahead, being the sneakiest, and came back a short time later, saying that we were not alone down here.

Down the hall a ways was a room with several goblins and orcs. She had not been able to tell much more from her quick scout out. Spoiling for a fight we stormed the room, and began busting heads:
- Chelsea was first in the room and started us out with a bang, hitting one orc and cleaving into another.
- Colin followed it up with a huge burst of flame from the palm of his had that roasted half of the room, and several goblins dropped writhing to the floor.
- We all moved up and began fighting, but Chelsea was most effective, hitting and marking two more orcs.
- Colin shoots another jet of flame that bursts and kills the rest of the goblins in the room, leaving a couple orcs standing.
- The mop up begins, and the battle appears over. Colin is forced to fire a spell to close to himself and is bathed in flames. Luckily his kind have innate resistance to fire.
- With only a couple orcs remaining the battle shifts back to the other side when re enforcements pour into the room, rushing past Jesse to get at us all. Their leader is a large orc with horns on his forehead and skin too loose for his face.
- Jesse heals Colin, who had overextended himself and was now in melee with several orcs, hits an orc with a Blazing Beacon, and then hits him again.
- Dan disappears, hiding in the shadows.
- Chelsea finishes off the orc she was fighting and engages the demonic orc. Her hit catches him unaware and does devastating damage. He slowly turns, and begins to focus his attacks on her.
- Dan reappears and manages to hit the demon orc, dazing him for a spell.
- Jesse, having spent all of his healing on keeping Colin propped up is looking bad, and then goes down in a heap of fur.
- In a valiant effort Colin moves in a blur to Jesse's side and rouses him from his stupor. With a start he comes to and is back in the fight.

And we stopped it there....


This session was shortened, as first sessions usually are. It takes awhile to get everyone's characters ready and to get calmed down. Also, like most first sessions this one had a lot of talking, a lot of roleplaying, and not even one full encounter. Two players had to go, so we had to stop mid-epic-combat and agree to start it up next session. On the bright side, this week we have the time to plan and possibly escape what is seeming like a grim situation. Here is where we left off:
On the left is Ayler on Myles. The minotaur is easy to spot. Chelsea is the small one next to him. Colin is the blondie in the middle of all three orcs. Dan is the other small, flanking an orc with Chelsea. The orc they are flanking is the Demon orc. We are throwing around suggestions about how to win now. Wish us luck.

As with all of the material that is not combat related, I don't feel I do it justice. I only take notes during combat (otherwise it would just be one big blur in my brain), and I don't really have the chops to relate the feel of the non-combat scenery. That whole part before we started fighting was probably almost three hours of roleplaying, with very few dice rolls (specifically, in the beginning there were some Perception rolls to check out our surroundings, some strength rolls to bust into rooms, a couple damage rolls on locks, two strength checks for the two 18 strength tanks to survive the wave (the minotaur and the halfling, natch) . . .a bunch of Nature rolls to find water (which everyone but the DMPC did poorly on), Perception rolls to smell smoke, and two Insight rolls at the conversation with the guard).

The roleplay with the guard was interesting. Nobody really dwelt on the fact that some insane person burnt down a warehouse to rid it of rats, which should have been a HUGE clue that something was wrong. We were far to concerned with our status as slaves, and like rats in a cage our only interest was in finding a way out. Ah well, hindsight and all that.

I am sure that the bit with the Oracle and the Lord is a little muddled, I was losing focus by that point (which I am sure contributed to a lot). And the combat, well. . .by that time we had been playing for a few hours with no real action, and I think that the players, not the characters, were spoiling for a fight. We did not really think our actions through. We rushed in and. . .I think we overextended ourselves a little. That room has a great chokepoint that we aren't using. We will see how things turn out next week, though....


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