Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sandbox game sessions 1 and 2

The Labyrinth Lord sandbox game is on! We've played twice already and it's been a lot of fun although there are some details in the game mechanics to improve. The rules are new to all the players and I've been DMing 3.x for to long. Reading Philotomy's OD&D Musings and Quick Primer for Old School Gaming over and over, as well as other articles about what a sandbox game is supposed to be, has been of great help to put me on the right path.

Session #1: After a group of caravan guards got into trouble at the local tavern (The Crooked Billet) and ended in baron Fent's dungeons, for almost killing Kragg, the tavern half-orc bouncer, Brenner, a worried merchant aproached the party for help. The party, composed by Kratos the Veteran, Vanon Acolyte of Trithereon, Scarlet the Prestidigitator (illusionist), Phillip the men-at-arms (Scarlet's hireling), Tamryn the Rogue and Brom the Ranger (NPC), agreed for a fair price to help the merchant end his journey. They were to go from Ramshorn to Glendour, the cross the Gloomfens to Broomsage abbey and finnaly to Stornawane.

Over the next days across the snow covered moors and misty fens the party fended off several attacks: an albino ape (by throwing some rations), a tiger (which was later skinned by the ranger), a pack of wolves (blinded with a color spray) and several ghouls (turned by the cleric).

This session had some roleplay to get the characters together and several encounters (a lot of 1's in the wandering monsters checks) that allowed to test the combat sequence.

Session #2: At Broomsage Abbey the cleric was to meet Morris an old friend and Cyndorian priest. The priest asked for help to recover a relic (a human sized marble statue) stolen by bandits. The abbey resorted to the baron of Stornawane for help but he dismissed the plea. It seems the baron who, as many others, uses these bandits as enforcers and mercenaries in border wars, doesn't want to act against them. Not knowing what to do he sent for his friend and now offered him a very generous reward to get the relic back before the Festival of Forever which wil be help in a month. The cleric promised to help after ending his contract with the merchant.

At the end of the journey in Stornawane the merchant payed them a bonus and also offered them to get bonded with the Merchant's Guild. All but the cleric accepted to bond. After that the cleric, fighter and man-at-arms went looking for some action so I decided to use Chgowiz's post about ladies (or dudes) of the night. At the last minute Scarlet's player decided her hireling to head back. The other two rolled a d100 to see what kind of company they find and I rolled a d20 to see the consequences. On the d100 the cleric rolled a 15 (brazen strumpet) and the fighter an 81 (expensive doxy), and on the d20 I rolled an 8 (disease) both times! They'll start felling the symptoms soon...

Back to the tavern (The Leather Exchange) from the fun, the celric told the rest of the party about the stolen relic and all agreed to accompany him back to the abbey. At the abbey they asked for several supplies (horses, a cart, arrows, rations, a longword and a dagger) before leaving for the hills where the bandits were supposed to have their hideout. To reach the hills they crossed a forest where they were attacked by a pack of dire wolves. After dealing with the wolves, they encountered another party (they were in fact bandits patrolling) composed by 4 men and 3 orcs. When questioned about what they were doing in the forest, both groups lied to each other. The party said they were looking for wolves and the bandits said they were bounty hunters after a half-orc wanted for murder. After bidding farewell they both continued their way, the bandits double backed to follow the party and the party sent the ranger to see if they were being followed. The dices said the ranger was not seen and that allowed the party to set up an ambush.

They made a campsite on elevated ground and hid in the surroundings: the thief climbed a tree, the cleric and fighter in the cart, the illusionist and her man-at-arm in a ground depresion and the ranger in the bushes. The illusionist made an image of the fighter as being the only on watch. They were to wait the ranger's attack to spring the trap. The bandits approached the camp in a wide arc with the 3 orcs in the center and the 4 humans split 2 to left and 2 to the right. When the orc charged uphill to attack the lonely guard one of them fell dead with an arrow in the chest. The fighter and cleric jumped from the cart attacking the remaining orcs who belived the illusion and were then outnumbered 3 to 2. The thief unhung herself onto one human (I ruled it counted as a backstabbing) killing him on the spot but leaving her face to face with the leader. With the surprise lost the bandits put up a fierce fight, but fell one by one, until only the leader remained and, after being severly wounded, surrendered.

This session had a lot more roleplay and big encounter that allowed the party to hone their skills working together as a group.

Until next session!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Past, Actual and Future Campaigns

My Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk (D&D 3.5e) campaign is officially on hold. One of my players got a great job at Google Ireland and left for the lands of the leprechauns. Other two, a couple, are expecting a baby anytime soon and they won't have much free time to play in the near future. I hoped we could finish the module before these events happened but it could not be.

So, last weekend I finally started my new campaign, sandbox-style, set in the Blackmoor region of the World of Greyhawk. I have four players (possibly a fifth one) which two of them are experienced players (one is my wife) and the rest are complete newbies to tabletop RPG games. We're using Labyrinth Lord Core Rules with some classes and spells from the AEC and some house rules. The all-human party is composed by Kratos the Veteran, Vanon Acolyte of Trithereon, Scarlet the Prestidigitator (illusionist), Phillip the men-at-arms (Scarlet's hireling) and Tamryn the thief-wife. We are going to play once every two weeks.

Also, since the guy that went to Ireland was the DM of our Oriental Adventures campaign, that one too is on hold indefinitely. That left three of the guys (one also played in my EttRoG game) without any game. So, I decided, upon my wife suggestion, to resurrect another dormant campaign: Maure Castle (D&D 3.5e).

Yes, I know I said before I was moving away from 3.5e, but the guys are gameless and I'd really like to run those levels. This campaign will see existing characters Denar High Priest of Heironeous, Quinath Leafholder Warlock/Defender and Knight of Luna and Master of Autumn Kentsui Inowe (wife) face the perils of Maure Castle dungeons. They will be joined by another character to be rolled on our first session. We are going to play once a month.

I'm very excited about the future of both campaigns.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Blackmoor underbaronies II

In the Canonfire! forums, users Chameleon and StuGIII shared some comments and ideas about the same topic. I decided to take them into account and make some changes on the previous list of Blackmoor's underbaronies.

The still inhabited and surviving underbaronies are:
  1. Dantredun.
  2. Dearthkettle (includes Glendour keep).
  3. Blackmoor - The town is in ruins and occupied by Orcs but the underbarony it is not. Mosshold and the Wizard's Wood are part of it.
  4. Ramshorn - After the castle was rebuilt a small village grew around it.
  5. Tonnsborg - The seat of power is not properly in Tonnsborg, but elsewhere in an inland manor or estate to the NE.
  6. Stornawane (includes Broomsage Abbey).
The ruined underbaronies are:
  1. Trollbar - The town/castle might still be inhabited but the open country to the North and East is abandoned.
  2. Egg of Coot - The area is a ruined underbarony only inhabited by the Egg's automata, Orc and Qullan tribes.
  3. Kolbenborg - The area west of the Egg, north of the Burneal Forest and south of the Land of Black Ice is ruined and abandoned.
  4. Greenhead - The village/keep, south of Stornawane in the middle of the Cold Marshes, might be inhabited but the area around it is abandoned.