Friday, November 24, 2017

Drownlands Campaign Play Report – Sessions #7 to #11

I stopped writing play reports after session #6 and now I have this backlog that I will sloppily try to catch up to.

Session #7 was the reason why I stopped with the reports, as I struggled to write anything remotely interesting about this game. It started with the party deciding what to do about their mission to free One-Eye (their guild boss) and kill Sharp Tooth (t-rex riding Blue Feather Clan chief). I gave them a pretty easy option of infiltrating the Blue Feather war camp, when the t-rex is in its cage, but of course the party had none of it. They came up with a 100% more dangerous plan, that for some reason looked better in their heads. So the great plan was to find the village that will be a target of the next Blue Feathers raid. Their educated guess was that it’s going to be the unassuming village of Torchlight. They arrived there in the middle of a night, murdered a random guy and made it look like a lizardmen attack. (That angered Norvak the Cleric’s mostly benevolent god of redemption so he cracked Norväk’s holy symbol and withheld spells for a few days.) They caused panic and in the chaos took over the political power in the village. Then they went all Seven Samurai on Torchlight. I decided that Blue Feathers will arrive in 2d6 days and rolled high, so the party had a lot of time to train the villagers, build traps, construct watchtowers and all that jazz. Finally the Blue Feathers raiding party’s vanguard arrived. Twelve raptor riders descended on the village. They massacred half of the trained villagers, and eventually got defeated. The next wave of raiders witnessed this and decided to retreat to the main force and inform Sharp Tooth of the events. And that’s when we decided that it’s a good moment to take a break and continue playing the next day. But we also decided to drink peach vodka and talk about Polish government’s authoritarian ambitions so the next day we were too hungover to continue so we played card games and board games and stuff like that. Then we had a long break because of the summer and I saw Boris live.

I love you, Wata.
Sessions #8 and #9 were the best games I have ever DMed. So the main force finally arrived and started raiding the village. The party used guerrilla hit and run tactics to lure the lizardfolk into traps but then Sharp Tooth arrived. On his t-rex. On his 6d6 bite t-rex. My players stood against an enemy they had no chance defeating. It was nerve wrecking, high tension session and I didn't fudge a single roll. The best part? The newbie player figured out how to use his magic missile (that never misses) and saved the whole party with it by destroying Sharp Tooth’s medallion of t-rex control with it. T-Rex went into frenzy, ate his own rider, the Blue Feather chief, and the party escaped. The energy at the table was incredible. Then they evacuated surviving villagers and themselves on rafts they commissioned to be constructed earlier. And they left. Torchlight was in ruins, Sapphire the Fighter was bitten by a t-rex and unconscious, Eno the Thief was badly burned, but they survived and completed their mission. Oh, and I forgot, my players gave me this dry erase battle mat called gamerboard for my birthday:

T-Rex attacks Torchlight, PCs run away
I love my players. So anyway session #9 ended with combined forces of the party and the Stone God Clan descending on half-empty and chief-less Blue Feathers war camp and killing and capturing remaining Blue Feathers. They freed One-Eye and came back safely to the Stone God camp.

Session #10 begun with a council held with the players, One-Eye and Stone God Clan’s chief. One-Eye revealed that some strange organization paid for his kidnapping. And I had a lot of material prepared for retaking Lone Tree from new regime, fighting the shadowy organization behind it, integrating Stone God Clan into the Smuggler’s Guild structures, etc. But of course my players had other plans. They decided to leave their boss with the lizardpeople tribe and go further south to actually deliver the dwarven steel shipment to the Astian city of Samgard and maybe find some sort of vague help for Lone Tree.

What I already established but my players failed to discover or discovered but only partially:

I. The organization that is behind the kidnapping and regime change at their outpost. My players found out the organization's symbol and that they come from the southern free city-states of Baxia. What they don't know is that it's an ancient rakshasa controlled slavery organization called the Shepherds.

II. They know that the city they're supposed to deliver the steel to is not in Drownlands but further south, in the Astian virgin forest. What they don't know is that many years ago Shepherds convinced most of the Astian tribal kings to stop sacrificing their condemned to the forest gods and instead to sell them into slavery. The forest gods are growing angry.

III. They don't know that the reason why the slavers turned their gaze towards Drownlands is because Smuggler's Guild started freeing and smuggling slaves out of Astia via Drownlands. Mostly for profit but some smuggler operatives are also motivated ideologically.

But going back to the actual play: session #11 was this chaotic hexcrawl south. They checked out a haunted cemetery but decided it’s too spooky and possibly dangerous and continued on. They met a traveling sorcerer Rahus the Magnificent and traded rumors and items with him. Misty the Wizard bought two scrolls and sold some exotic grippli ingredients. They fought some Deep Ones, interrupted their unholy feast and then chased them off. Then they found a group of warriors fighting giant enemy crabs. The party managed to defeat the crabs and saved one of the warriors who turned out to be Solay, captain of the guard of the nearby town of Craywick. Craywick welcomed the party as heroes. They even met the town’s chief Kolma in his wooden keep. And this is where again my players surprised me. They decided to help Craywick with their giant crab infestation and find and destroy the monsters’ nest. (Now that I think about it it might’ve been Norväk’s idea how to appease his god and get his holy symbol uncracked.) Solay decided that he can offer two zer’skers (giant riding lizards from the barbarous wasteland of Zubaria) in exchange, so they can replace their two old mules, that are barely able to pull the cart full of dwarven steel ingots.

Barbarians on a Zer'sker by Frazetta
The party decided that since they took the job of tracking and killing the giant crabs they are now basically witchers, paid monster hunters. There was much rejoicing. I think I’ll have to throw some sort of twist on top of the giant crab quest. I mentioned the town’s giant crab problem when I was improvising as Craywick’s chief and I wasn’t suspecting that it might be something the party will be into.

But giant crabs or not – by next session or two I predict my players will reach the Astian city of Samgard and deliver the steel shipment. And what will I do? The party won’t be in Drownlands anymore. Do I have to rename the campaign?