Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Expedition to The Forsaken Fell, ep02

We got together last night after a quick switcheroo of schedules. I had secretly been talking to another of our group that used to play with us and surprised Alex and Bryan when they opened the door and suddenly Rob popped into Roll20 and they met his character. We played for a little less than two hours but it felt just about right. I think we could have easily continued longer as everyone seemed to be enjoying playing again but it was already 11:15 for Alex so we opted to head back to camp and rejoin our two retainers up in the ruins. I think everyone had a great time and I am looking forward to having a running game, it has been a long time.

At the end of the session I asked if anyone wanted to write up a play report in exchange for XP (something I have done in the past) and Rob jumped at the opportunity. I think he did a great job and I love when players write reports from their character's point of view. Below is his report, from the viewpoint of his character, Heimlich.


The Great Room and Meeting
“Sound? Footsteps. Possible salvation from my plight.”

Heimlich had spent the last 10 hours keeping the demonic wolves away from him and the bodies of his fallen friends. They had died trying to save one of their own, they wouldn’t be forgotten, but first the dwarven cleric had to get out of this room in one piece. He could offer last rights for his fallen friends once the wolves were dealt with. But merciful and selfless Goirin Fignus had sent him the help he had prayed for.

He tapped on the doors to get the attention of those beyond. Perhaps it was a terrible decision, but at this point it was a better option than being eaten by the foul wolves.

CRASH!

The doors flew open and Heimlich found himself looking at a halfling and a human, adventurers like himself by the look of them, but before he could greet them properly, the halfling asked about a girl as the human charged forward into the room, past him, to confront the approaching wolf.

“What girl?” was all that he was able to get out before his two saviors struck fast against the wolves. The human tossed a hand axe and the halfling tossed a pair of knives. One wolf went down immediately, while the other growled and prepared to attack.

Heimlich wasn’t about to allow the saviors delivered to him by Goirin to fall to the beasts that had already killed off his party. He charged forward to the side of the human and swung Arty, his trusty mace hard and across the wolf’s head, causing it to stumble against the might of the blow and trip over his fallen den mate before crumbling into a heap.

The third wolf charged past the well-armored combatants toward the halfling in the back who met it with a battleaxe blow to the head which partly scalped the creature. The human quickly turned to help the halfling, but lost his footing in the gore that had spread on the floor for the first two wolves that had been felled. Heimlich was able to dispatch the wolf with Arty’s assistance once again.

The group rested for a moment having dispatched the immediate threat and some quick words were exchanged as the halfling questioned Heimlich and the reason for his being there. As Heimlich explained how his misfortunes had brought him to the room, Wulfgar noticed two more wolves stalking toward the group from the darkness and excusing himself from the conversation charged the wolves.

Quick on the uptake, Heimlich rushed forward to join him and with two amazing blows from Heimlich and a couple well placed strikes from the human, the wolves were destroyed before they could even attack.

With the last of the wolves gone, the group once again conversed.

The human, Wulfgar, and halfling, Kendrik, were a little weary of Heimlich at first, but Heimlich quickly showed his value and true nature when he healed Kendrik’s wounds. The group then searched the room gathering up provisions from Heimlich’s fallen companions and Wulfgar discovered an immaculate dagger tucked away in another part of the great room.

While Kendrik considered skinning the wolves, Wulfgar and Heimlich turned their attention to the only other door in the room. A pair of great stone doors stood opposite the doors that Kendrik and Wulfgar had entered through. Wulfgar and Heimlich began searching for possible defenses around the door and discovered a large pressure plate and several openings in the walls to either side of the doors. Wulfgar tested the pressure plate with his torch and quickly realized that that had been a good decision as clicking was heard from the holes unleashing a large cloud of dust and ash. As the cloud settled, Wulfgar found several darts stuck in his torch!

Realizing the full extent of the trap, Wulfgar and Heimlich covered the holes with their shields as Kendrik attempted to open the doors. Thankfully the trap didn’t activate again, and the others were able to try their hands at opening the doors and failing as well. Then Heimlich noticed a latch hidden in the stonework of the doors and was able to open them as Kendrik tried once more to open them—this time with ease.

The Statue Room
With the doors opened the group stepped through and found two great statues—a female statue of white stone and a male statue of black—both with large grey stone bowls. Wulfgar investigating the white bowl, feeling an energy within.

Heimlich, testing a hunch, poured out his wineskin’s contents into the black statue’s bowl. The red wine began to boil and turned black.

Wulfgar seeing the results, decided to test the white bowl. Emptying his waterskin into the bowl resulted in a similar result with the water boiling, but it turned into a milky liquid. Wulfgar than took a chance and dipped his finger in and then putting his finger into his mouth. The sensation was pleasant, and he decided to go for it. He dipped his cup into the liquid and drank it.

The wounds from the previous fight immediately stitched themselves closed and he was returned to full health with a slight feeling of additional strength warming his body. He then invited Kendrik to partake and receive the same benefits.

Meanwhile, Heimlich decided against drinking from the black liquid and instead lowered a bullet on his sling into the liquid, and quickly discovered he had made the right choice as the sling sizzled and dissolved leaving him with two pieces of leather. He then drank some of the white liquid as well, and was similarly blessed with full health and the feeling of added strength.

Soon after Heimlich’s drink, the liquid in both bowls slowly disappeared into the stone of the bowl, but Wulfgar was able to retrieve one more gulp of liquid before it disappeared.

Then Heimlich had a rather morbid thought, but it was imaginative. He gathered blood from the wolves and poured it into the white statue’s bowl. He was pleasantly surprised to see the blood bubble and turn into the same milky liquid. Submerging his wineskin, he was able to retrieve 11 ounces of the magical elixir before it once again was absorbed into the bowl.

The party then returned to the campsite with their new party member, Heimlich.

Gamemaster notes:
I am running Servants of the Cinder Queen using a map of my own making (Patrons will see it early next month!) in Roll20. I have not used Roll20 extensively in almost a year and they have really stepped up their game since then. I was a Kickstarter backer way back in the day so I get to play around with dynamic lighting (I will be upgrading to a Pro account after the next Patreon payout) and this was my first real experience with it. I also used the ambient music to play some cavern sounds in the background. I thought both worked great, and though they may not have added a huge deal to the game I do think they are Good Things to have and use.

The dynamic lighting I really liked. My first thought was that it was going to be a pain to set up but once I figured it out, maybe ten minutes and watched a video (https://youtu.be/YXciH7gR1Ec but omg he drones on and on, watching it with extensive fast forwarding). His points on keeping the doors as separate items from the walls was keen and worked perfectly. As players open doors I could easily drop to the dynamic lighting layer, click and remove or slide doors out of the way. Worked without a problem and I will continue to use this method in future games. https://wiki.roll20.net/Dynamic_Lighting_Examples is also a good page to read about Dynamic Lighting in Roll20.

I thought the game went smoothly and we progressed quickly through two encounters with the 'wolves' (Devil Dogs)and into the Statue Room. The Statue Room is not in the published adventure but I wanted to offer the players a way to heal up a little as I thought the dogs would tear them up pretty badly. I ended up begin correct as Kendrik was reduced to a single hit point during the encounter. The adventure is written in a more abstract way with randomly generated tunnels and encounters but I wanted to have a map (yo, I like maps, what can I say?) and a little more thought out that completely fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants.

Monday, June 27, 2016

[map] BFRPG: A Matter of Justice

As noted yesterday I have begun running a Basic Fantasy RPG game with my old group. If you have not looked into BFRPG, you really should, even if you play other OSR games. Their site has tons of supplements and adventures you can download. Almost all are crowd sourced from the folks that play the game.

One is a PDF of short adventures called Adventure Anthology 1. The adventures are great, and heck, totally free! They have been working on a second volume for quit a while now, almost two years. I offered to rework one of their maps in my usual style. I don't know if they will use it or not, but I like to share with all my rowdy friends, so here you go.

You might notice that I added a grid on this map, not something I usually do but they requested the map have one so I added it. I kinda like it, expect to see more grids in future maps. If there is an older map you would like me to go back and add a grid to, let me know and I will see what I can do.

And because I like reduced ink, the black and white version:

If you dig my maps and would like to help support my continued effort to create cool places for your players to die, consider dropping me a quarter or two over on Patreon.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Expedition to The Forsaken Fell, ep01

My group has finally managed to get around to getting together again after a six month hiatus. Well, that is not actually true. A few of us have been playing via a play by post for about four months now and we decided to move to Roll20 after lives calmed down and real life offered us a little reprieve. I have been running Servants of the Cinder Queen from Lampblack & Brimstone, albeit with a number of changes (primarily due to the adventure being made for Dungeon World, also, the black and white images below were screen capped from the adventure). The adventure is excellent and I highly recommend it for use with any system, the layout, art, and story are excellent. Here I am lightly tweaking it for Basic Fantasy RPG, my current game system of choice.

As I said, we started in a Play by Post game played over Google Groups since February and it was pretty slow with us finally making it to the ruins of an old monastery called the Forgotten Fell. They had set forth from the village of Meervold where people were disappearing at an alarming rate. They had encountered cultist looking fellows that had apparently-magical flames danced across their forehead (see the image below, except I changed the image on their cloaks to be actual flames. because fantasy). After saving a villager in a midnight raid by the cultists, they had determined the bad guys were coming from the area known as the Forgotten Fell, a ruined town farther up the side of a semi-active volcano. They recruited two assistants as guides and headed up the mountain. Once there, they set up camp and set out to explore the area.
The cultists, looking vile and evil.

Our group consisted of Kendric, a halfling thief, and his companion human fighter named Wulfgar. They had initially split up and began to explore while the two hirelings, Porta (a goofy young kid) and Adrnt (a seriously old dude who lost a wife to the cultists) set up camp at the edge of town. Kendric headed south, following some footprints and came upon a single figure, almost naked, a flame dancing on his head and he staring away into the distance. Wulfgar headed east, coming across two similar figures, except they were busy in an alleyway. What exactly, he was not certain.

This is where our Roll20 session began. Alessandro plays Wulfgar and Bryan plays Kendric. I think I meta-gamed a little here as we started, mentioning a TPK and the oft-erred-upon idea of splitting the party. Kendric almost immediately hightailed it to camp and then on to Wulfgar. ;-)

Map of the Forgotten Fell.

Wulfgar was roughly at E2 and was watching the figures in the alleyway around F3. After studying their activity for a bit, and releasing they didn't give two craps about him, Wulfgar determined the figures were clearing an area and moving the rubble. The figures were barely human, seemingly made up of ashes and bone, almost like a person had been burned to a crisp and this is what remained (see image below).

A moment later another figure entered the room at E2 and began digging. Wulfgar noticed the area looks like all the rubble had been pushed to the outer wall and and area in the middle of the room was depressed...a possible buried doorway. The figure worked at his digging and then suddenly the other two that had been working up and left, walking into the ruined building at G2. Wulfgar and Kendric followed along and discovered the figures disappearing into a deep hole. The hole was about five foot wide with a built in ladder created by hand and foot holds carved directly into the rock. Below Kendric head a woman's faint scream. A damsel in distress!

As they discussed the idea of following the figures into the hole or not to follow, they were suddenly surprised by a group of four men of questionable repute who came up behind them. The men wanted to know what the boys were doing in their area. The men suggested they leave the hole alone and leave the area. Apparently the men had been looking for the hole and followed the figures here as well. The men were not overly friendly and were quite demanding.

The moment was tense as the boys tried to decide what to do, they were outnumbered...but were they out manned? Kendric was halfway in the hole but decided to climb back up. Suddenly Wulfgar stopped questioning himself and moved faster than lightening!

Wulfgar's hand axe flew at one of the men, landing squarely in the man's chest, spewing gore and blood. Without hesitation he charged the apparently leader, bracing his shield in front to try to smash the man. In his haste however, he completely missed ;-) and instead crashed into the low and crumbling wall of the building. Rock and ash flew everywhere as Wulfgar crashed through the wall and landed out in the street.

The attack completely caugth the remaining men off guard (they were surprised) and Kenrdic quickly launched his two throwing knives at the still-standing leader. Bryan, the player rolled awesome here and managed a natural 20 (we quickly scanned the rules but found no mention of how to handle a critical so I ran with the old "double damage and describe something cool" method). Bryan said the leader raised his hand in defense, the knife landed in the palm and continued through into the man's eyes. I already knew the double damage was enough to kill the leader but let Bryan go ahead and roll for the second knife...a 19, he was totally on fire tonight. The second knife landed squarely in the man's neck.

He flopped over dead.

Now, I knew the leader and the guy Wulfgar had killed were the badasses of the group of four so I immediately rolled morale. I figured seeing your boss killed in a split second without a struggle would be enough to make you pee your pants. The third and forth guy completely failed their roll and both high-tailed it out of there as fast as they could. Wulfgar gave chase but opted not to continue on his own and returned to his companion.

When Wulfgar returned back to the room, he discovered Kendric was already looting the bodies: chain (unharmed because of Kendric's excellent knife throwing skills), a bow, sword and a bit of gold.

For a moment they considered heading back to camp, it was late and getting dark, but then adventure took over and they quickly climbed into the hole...

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

We played for roughly two hours, some technical difficulties (called Netflix hogging the bandwidth) slowed our start but once those were resolved the game ran smooth as silk. I would estimate we spent a total of an hour and a half playing.

 I had initially decided we were going to switch our game from BFRPG to The Black Hack but the players talked me out of it. I am glad they did. In reflection, I can say that BFRPG is probably just as lite as TBH but with much more familiar mechanics and no quasi-storygamery silliness going on. Take away the spell lists and the monsters from the rule book and it is probably the same number of pages as TBH. Plus the rules are easy to read, free, and have a huge base of support over on their site. Also, for those who want the books IN their paws, they offer some of the books in print on Amazon for $5 or less for each. With Prime I can have nearly everything they offer in print for around $25 at my house in two days. Done.

I thought the game went great and was a joy to run. We originally planned on every other week but we all said screw that and planned to meet again the following week.

Friday, June 24, 2016

[map] Findalgo's Mountain Railpost

Findalgo’s Mountain Railpost is a popular stop along the very busy but dangerous stretch of rail that runs through the Grimpeak Mountains. Findalgo’s ancestors utilized dwarven masons thirteen decades ago to carve out the initial rooms and since has continually expanded the facility. As mining operations and peace between the races has increased, the rail has grown in importance. Today it boasts a large common room with over forty sleeping berths, a famous restaurant (you must try the Cave Scorpion Haggis, it is to die for!), a casino (faro is the popular game), a general store, and a brothel for those so inclined.

Due to the dangerous region the track inhabits, the Railpost was built with the track running along at mid-level height in an extremely tight crevasse in the Jearglin Valley. The track is elevated, with the Railpost built into the surrounding rock. South of the Railpost, the track enters a tunnel and reappears in the valley to continue along its route. Due to the remoteness of the Railpost, it is the only civlized area in the surrounding twenty miles, the stop has become very popular and grown in size as people opt to stay a few days before pressing on.

Rumors are that Findalgo has hired on dwarven masons and druidic elementalists to begin expanding the Railpost even larger so that individual rooms in a large scale hotel can be added, along with a large casino to keep the people entertained as they slow spin away their gold and silver.

Color version:

And black and white version: