Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Colony - Turn 50 - Clanky

Lots of players out on travel for work or vacation over the next couple weeks, so turns are going to be spotty and maybe short.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Daruna - That's a Wrap

I haven't really posted a lot about this campaign, which I've been running since November 2011 for my long-term gaming group. We played this campaign over the course of eight weekend-long gaming sessions. If my math is correct, that comes out to about 28 4-hour sessions. This is campaign is unique for me. Usually, I run very sandboxy games. This time I had something of a plot/story in mind from the start, and, miracle of miracles, it actually worked. What follows is a short not-very-serious summary of everything that happened in the campaign.

Session One

Party members participate in a public tournament that serves as sort of a proving ground for newly minted militiamen and do fairly well. They befriend Pushta, who they would later hire as the captain of their house guards, by saving his life (and losing a match to childhood enemies Vikus, Lat, Rakya and Sudha in the process). They also meet the infamous Sadine! Salar! the Extrodinary! He is a merchant who deals in unique goods.

The match leads to a job, figuring out what's been happening to workers at a local quarry, who have started to go missing. This leads to a Lost Kingdoms complex and the recovery of the first of the Seven Artifacts of the Lost Kingdoms, the Cup of Galibrax. The group slays a croco-thing and befriends Dunatra and Tripur, cousins who join the group as men-at-arms.

Session Two

The Harth family, by way of Captain Selo, hires the party to find out what's happened to two important relatives who were planning to build a villa in the borderlands to the south (a.k.a. "the kids"). The party also hauls some goods to Doy for the shady Bhanda Masa, puppy killer. There is a pirate fight at the village.

The ferry to the southern reaches is out of commission and the villagers tell the group the river spirit Anamika is directing her minions to attack river traffic. A barge from upstream proves this is true, and Orca's rescue of the survivors draws the primordial's wrath. Sula manages to gain Anamika's attention and convinces her the party can solve the problem (apparently someone defiled her shrine). She agrees to give the party a quarter cycle of the moon to return the stolen holy icon.

The party crosses the river safely and visits the village on the far side, which is overly friendly. They find out "the kids" are camped nearby and there are bad things in the woods. At the camp, the party finds the icon (taken by camp guards), fights some corrupt tree spirits and restores the shrine, receiving the favor of Anamika in return.

Back at the camp, they explore the ruins beneath the villa site and rescue the Harth lad from a coffin. After fighting a manticore and a hive of giant bugs, the party finds a strange temple and ends up in a battle across multiple timelines as they try to rescue the woman time-traveling priests plan to use as a sacrifice. They somehow pull this off and end up with the Seal of Scorborax in the process.

Good news, bad news. When they return to the surface, they discover time is broken. Oh, snap.

Session Three

Nityada, one of the three minor gods, appears to the party and tells them, "Yo dudes, go break that thing so time can go again. Head to the volcano and toss it in."

So they do.

Along the way, they get trapped in weird time bubbles, including one where they rescue wounded people from a town about to be flooded by lava, and another featuring a sabertooth tiger. They're also attacked many times by flying creatures who can travel great distances rapidly using a vortex of black wind. The leader of these forces seems to be a bald man who wants the Seal (later identified as Hakesh Lotem, Vizier of Ash-tep, ruler of the Kingdom of Light/Daruna).

After they drop the seal in the volcano (which was not as easy as it sounds), time is restored, and no one but them remembers there were Seven Artifacts of the Lost Kingdoms.

Session Four

Sadine! Salar! has a map and convinces the party there's cool stuff to be had there. The party agrees to go treasure hunting. Along the way, they kill a black lion that was terrorizing the area, but not before it kills Dunatra and Tripur.

The treasure map leads to a tomb/prison that has some nice treasure and the trapped remains of the primordial of undeath. Oops. At least it's not a fungal invasion.

Session Five

Undead invasion. The party takes a trip to visit Anamika but never really gets there, because there are portals sending hideous creatures through that are taking prisoners and dragging them back to the undeath realm. The party fights its way back to their home city Shalish. There's another problem.

Forces of the Kingdom of Light are pushing into Shalish territory. Those That Know say the enemy is looking for a powerful artifact hidden in Traitor's Cavern, which is guarded by the ghosts of traitors (duh).

The party goes, they get past the recurring traitors and eventually find out what's wrong. There's a gateway leading to a primordial plane of fire and something is keeping it open. They go in, negotiate with Chaglar the magma primordial for the Scepter of Eirana, a powerful primordial of healing, exit the realm and seal the portal (the primordial trapped in the scepter was keeping the portal open).

Session Six

Hakesh Lotem (a.k.a Baldy), the vizier of the Kingdom of Light, arrives at Shalish for a parlay (hey, there's rules, you know). He tells them the undeath primordial has reestablished himself in the plane of undeath, and without the balancing power of Eirana, he will destroy the world. Someone has to go to the plane of undeath, kick his butt and use the scepter on him. Guess who?

The party goes to the plane of undeath (assisted by a primordial thing enslaved by Hakesh that transports them using a black vortex). They fight their way to the central fortress and face off against the guardian beast. Now, for the palace!

Session Seven

The party kicks skull butt and the undeath plane starts to fall apart. They find an elf along the way and escape through a rip in space that dumps them into the jungle.

They find a temple complex with a bunch of weird puzzle traps that protect the shield generators guarding a magical shield on top of a pyramid. They defeat the puzzles, get the artifact and discover it's the Shield of Mata, another of the Six Artifacts. They also discover A) that hitting it with Ramone's sword will make both go BOOM and B) Ramone's sword (which they recovered from a haunted crypt in S4) is the Blade of Yolis the Ender of Cycles. Sula uses his cool reverse-time pendant to undo the destruction of these crucial artifacts.

Session Eight

Vikus and his rat-friends, assisted by a ninja, steal the Cup from the royal vault and lead the party on a merry chase to a primordial prison. The party fights their way through and kill Lat, but Vikus and Sudha escape (and Vikus used Rakya as a sacrifice to free the trapped primordials -- two down, two to go). The party ends up outside the Kingdom of Light fort where Bad Things™ are happening. Hakesh has artifacts and knows how to use them.

The party faces Hakesh (who turns into a giant corrupting blob-thing), ninja-girl, Vikus, and Ash-tep himself. The living avatar of Daru proves to be an impostor created by Hakesh (who is one of the few remaining major primordials that remains free). The party manages to destroy the Cup and Vortex during the fighting (I think Lister got them both).

Ninja girl is deadly but eventually falls when Ramone destroys Yup's Mask, which she is wearing. Ramone then destroys the shield and sword next to the Hakesh-thing. This releases Yolis and Mata, who do final cleanup and destroy (or not) Hakesh.

Characters

We used a heavily modified version of D&D 3.5 for this game. It uses a point-buy system, eliminates classes, and has a home-brewed kata system that gives fighters powers. One of the setting features was corrupted magic. Trapping all the primordials in various artifacts upset the balance of the world, so using magic was very risky. Low-level spells were fairly safe, but high-level spells were progressively more dangerous. 

The party:

Ayun - Archer elf who only played in session seven
Orca - Dual-wielding death on a stick
Lister - Magician with a pole arm
Ramone - Master of the passive kata
Sula - Archer priest and healer
Torin - Walking talking suit of armor

The party ended up rich and famous. What follows is the aftermath summary I sent to the players after the final session.

Once the giant figures fade from the sky overhead, the golden wheels begin to spin before they too fade away. You realize that the sounds of battle, loud and obvious during your fight, had also stopped during the confrontation between the primordial powers. Now, you hear them again, but their tenor changes. The clash of arms and shouted commands give way to cries of fear, and of victory. Horns sound, you recognize the call to reform ranks, are swiftly followed by galloping hooves and shouts of surrender. Acting quickly, you run to the main gate and are almost overrun by fleeing Daruna forces. Sula urges you all to display your military badges as you reach the entrance and prevent the guards there from closing it against the approaching Shalish cavalry. The enemy is in complete disarray, and your allies are mopping up. A friendly squad rushes the gate, and it takes a moment to convince them of your identities, but you spot Captain Selo in the distance and hail him. 

It takes hours to bring order to the battlefield. The king and his retinue arrive and establish their headquarters in the fort, and Selo fills you in on what happened. The Daruna forces, bolstered by the many enhanced warriors in their ranks, were winning until, without warning, the powerful fighters all collapsed into heaps of twisted bone and flesh (this accounts for Sudha, the last of Vikus's cronies). Shalish forces rallied and Moha troops, pressed into service by Hakesh, turned on their so-called allies. Daruna forces fled into the woods along the river or surrendered.

Once things settle a bit, you order a squad (RHIP after all) to find Ayun, which they do. He comes to the fort and brings along all your mounts, and together you all meet with the king again. If you said he was delighted, that would be an understatement. He honors you all in front of the troops (even though he glosses over the exact details of what happened because what happened is a bit fuzzy).

Eventually, the prisoners are dealt with (enslaved to rebuild the damage done to Moha and outlying farms for the most part), and a powerful military force stays at the fort (solidifying Shalish's hold on the region). Politically Shalish and Bhavar are now the dominant powers in the area, and the king wastes no time exploiting this. He annexes Moha and its territories, bringing them into the alliance, and appoints an interim governor from the Harth family to manage the reconstruction.

The party returns home and receives a hero's welcome from their staff and families. They're also accorded official honors at the ceremonies held at the palace for those who distinguished themselves in the Battle of Two Rivers. The families of the traitors, Vikus, Lat, Sudha and Rakya are stripped of their possessions and banished from the realm. The king offers the group their choice of the confiscated properties, and you take a beautiful townhouse in the city that complements your villa nicely.

As Lister discovered, the forces of elemental magic no longer suffer from corruption, and there are several 'accidents' in the city as practitioners experiment with their new powers. The words of the Voice of Tamulat come true, as the Shalish military engages in a series of actions that consolidate and expand the borders of Shalish, Bhavar and Moha and push back the forces of Daruna. 

There are also strange happenings beyond the borders. Vishka erupts with great fury, painting the sky black for an entire month, and a wild forest springs up around the fort where the final battle took place. Goba is leveled by an earthquake but remains a haunted place, home to many undead. On the first day of the new year, explosions wrack the Twisted Lands and shadowy shapes streak across the sky, heralding further changes.

By spring, things have settled down. The party takes a trip and revisits Traitor's Cave and the primordial prison. Nothing remains of either site other than a pit in the ground, and you wonder who or what destroyed these old places of power. Sula suggests the major primordials, freed from their bonds, are restoring order to the world and releasing those who are still trapped in Lost Kingdom constructs. It seems a likely enough theory.

After their trip, the party returns to the villa to enjoy the quiet life of wealthy landowners. Their partnership with Sadine! Salar! proves profitable and they go on to live happily ever after.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Colony - Turn 47/48 - Zombies or Not-zombies?

Start Date: August 19, late night
Start Status: Who watches the Watchers?
Start Location: Silverstream Mine

Adventuring: Rennard, Jinx, Mendel, Smoke, Zenobe
At the Tulip: Adrienne, Brigg, Hagan, Xon, Aaron

The Turn

The party manages to wake up and prepare for whatever might happen without alerting the creatures wandering around outside, who still seem unaware of their presence. After 30 minutes or so of aimless wandering, the creatures (there are at least 20), move off along the road to the south in a loose group, traveling at a steady walking pace. "Wonder where they're going?" mutters Brigg as the last of the pack disappears into the woods beyond the clearing.

With the action over, at least for now, the party reverts to two people on watch, one focused on the mine, the other on the road, while the others sleep. There's no further activity for several hours, but as the moon begins to set, the creatures return. The dim moonlight is fading as they move at a good pace toward the mine, but it looks to Jinx and Zenobe like several of them are carrying long, apparently heavy objects. "I think those are bodies," whispers Jinx.

This was the end of turn 47. Very short, but I needed to give the party a chance to respond to events.]

The group debates intercepting the miner-creatures before they enter the tunnel, but facing twenty or more foes with unknown capabilities is not appealing. Reluctantly, they let the creatures return to their lair, taking whatever, or whoever, they were carrying with them.

The next morning, everyone is up early after an uneasy night's rest. They have a plan. First, explore the immediate area inside the mine entrance. Second, backtrack along the road to see if they can figure out where the creatures went. Third, build a barricade across most of the mine entrance to limit the access of the creatures inside.

The party lights torches and lanterns and enters the mine with Smoke and Rennard in the lead. The tunnel extends about 15 feet in, then splits, with another fork visible ahead. The party bears left down a narrow tunnel, that continues 20 feet or so, then rough-cut steps lead down to a fork. Brigg quietly calls a halt and holds a finger to his lips. Everyone stands still and listens. The air is cool and still, but you can all hear the faint but echoing sounds of metal striking stone and shifting, tumbling rock.

"Someone's still digging, somewhere. Where is it coming from?" whispers Rennard.

"Here," says Smoke, pointing ahead and left.

"No, back here," says Brigg, gesturing to the other fork of the main tunnel.

"I don't like that," mutters Zenobe.

The party advances into the fork and Zenobe raises his torch to illuminate the area. The left fork dead ends just beyond a side passage to the right, the right fork opens into an oblong chamber. "Far enough," says Rennard. "Let's check the other passage. We don't want to be too long in here."

The group retreats to the main passage, which opens into a larger chamber past the second branch. The second branch is a wide dog-legged passage that ends in a wider gallery. In each area, the party stops to listen. Each time they hear the same digging noises, but they can't determine the direction. The air in the left and center passages has a dusty smell, but there is faint dampness to the right. The grit-covered floors of each tunnel show many prints made by booted feet, and in the large center room and right gallery there are large rounded prints too. Aside from a few bats hanging from the ceiling, the group sees no signs of life in these tunnels.

Exploration complete, at least for now, the party backtracks to the entrance and heads down the road, moving at a fast pace. With no tracker, the trail is difficult to follow, but Brigg and Jinx think they find a place where it leaves the road. and heads south toward a farmstead. The party's fears are realized when they reach the place. The door to the house is open, the bar broken. There are signs of fighting within and bloodstains on the rough-spun cloth that covers the kitchen table and on the floor. There is no one is here. "They *were* bodies," says Jinx, who is keeping watch outside.

The group performs a hasty search of the area and turns out the cow and horse so they can graze, leaving the barn door to the pasture open. Inside they find indications that five people, two adults and three children, lived here. Rennard closes the farmhouse door before the group heads back to the mine. Along the way, they identify several spots that offer ambush opportunities: a rock outcropping that overlooks the road, a dense stand of trees, and a steep hillside that parallels the road. None are great, but they each offer some cover.

Once the party returns to the mine, they get to work moving rock using the wheelbarrows and tools from the barn and storage room. They heap rocks across the tunnel entrance, leaving a narrow opening in the middle. The irregular rocks are difficult to stack. The walls have sloping sides and end up being about four feet high. The entry is about two feet wide at floor level but widens higher up due to the slope of the walls to either side. There are more rocks available, but without any way to shore up the walls, it's impossible to make them much taller.

It is early afternoon when the party finishes this job, and everyone is dusty and tired from the manual labor. "Should we do a little more exploration before nightfall?" asks Smoke.

End Date: August 20, early afternoon
End Status: Pick and Shovel
End Location: Silverstream Mine


Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Colony - Turn 46 - Dug Dug

The party takes a cautious approach at the Silverstream Mine.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Colony - Turn 45 - Silverstream Mine

The party latches onto the idea of figuring out what is going on at the Silverstream Mine. Word on the street is that a group of miners were sent to open the place back up and went missing. Mercenaries sent by the owner were attacked when they tried to investigate. There's a rumor that, before the mine was closed years ago, the miners found something strange in the depths.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Colony - Turn 44 - About Town

Start Date: August 17, morning
Start Status:
Start Location:

Adventuring: Rennard, Jinx, Mendel, Aaron, Maarek, Xon
At the Tulip: Adrienne, Brigg, Hagan, Kessel, Smoke, Zenobe

The Turn

Most of the group spends their first day back in town cleaning up, fixing gear, resupplying, and relaxing. It's been a long strange trip. The meat the group smoked on the trail is going bad, so they dispose of that. Several people go to have some of the recovered treasure evaluated.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Colony - Turn 43 - River Rafting

Start Date: August ?+5, noonish
Start Status: What floats in water?
Start Location: Lost

Adventuring: Rennard, Jinx, Mendel, Aaron, Maarek, Xon
At the Tulip: Adrienne, Brigg, Hagan, Kessel, Smoke, Zenobe

The Turn

Aaron seems to think the party is just a few miles north of the colony now, but no one is really interested in fording the flooded swamp river. The group turns west along its banks, hoping to find a place to ford or a good location to build a raft. They travel over a mile upstream without finding many variations in the terrain – swampy ground, scrubby trees, and rushing river. Worse, the river is curving south, which, if they are where they think they are, leads toward the shadow folk who ambushed them and left a dire warning about what would happen if they return.