Sunday, July 12, 2009

St Corbus and the Doomed Outpost

The campaign began as a caravan of merchants and traders trundled into the walled village of St. Corbus, which lies in the northeastern marches of Thuringia, in the foothills of the Iron Mountains, one of the geographic barriers that helps protect the Middle Realms from the hordes of evil humanoids that threaten this last enclave of civilization. Among this caravan were six adventurers, who had come to know each other during the long journey and had decided to seek their fortunes together. There were the human fighters Jink (Paul) and Enos (Domenick), the the elven fighter Aramel. There was also Calista the magic-user (Heather, Odolon the dwarven warrior, and Hendrick, a human warrior of the High Church. Aramel, whose chosen weapon was the bow, did not have a sword, so the party visited Clothar, a weaponsmith, and there learned that Lord Childeric was offering a bounty on goblin scalps. Intrigued, the adventurers proceeded to the keep, where they spoke with Carloman, the Captain of the Guard, who verified that Lord Childeric was indeed offering a bounty on goblin scalps. In fact, he was offering a reward of 100 gps for information on what had befallen his son, Gudrick, who had been found slain at an ancient outpost two days' journey into the mountains.

When the adventurers stopped into the local inn, The Broken Lantern, for a drink and some mutton stew, they received even more information from the inkeeper, an attractive, middle-aged woman named Alda. Alda told the adventurers that the murdered Gudrick, though he was an illegitimate son of Lord Childeric and one of his mistresses, was his father's favorite, and so Childeric had given Gudrick money and men to rebuild an ancient guardpost high in the hills and found his own manor. Several weeks after Gudrick and his followers had trekked into the hills, a party of messengers and porters who had been sent to the guardpost returned with grim news: the guardpost had been overrun and everyone was dead, including Gudrick. The party had tried to investigate and inter the bodies, but they were chased off by goblins.

The six adventurers set off that day for the guardpost, and reached it without incident two days later. The guardpost was situated against a high cliff, in an open, stump-filled area that had only recently been cleared. Part of the stone wall had been reconstructed, and two timber buildings had been built recently. There were indeed goblins, but the party managed to trap them inside one of the buildings - a barracks - and slay them. Because Enos had been badly injured in the fight, the party decided to barricade itself in the building for the night. The adventurers removed the bodies of the goblins and, at Hendrik's insistence, interred the corpses of the humans that had fallen there when the guardpost was overrun. The following day the party investigated a second building, which appeared to be a residence of sorts, and found several more bodies, along with a suit of plate mail armor that likely belonged to Gudrick himself. Most interesting were the corpses of orcs intermingled with the human bodies. The adventurers had been dubious that goblins could cause such carnage, particularly among well-armed men. Thus, the presence of dead orcs seemed an important clue.

The party moved on to find a cave entrance within a recess in the cliff wall. Odolon was able to tell that a stone wall had previously blocked the entrance, but had recently been dismantled, probably to fix the crumbling walls of the guardpost. The party went inside, and quickly discovered a goblin lair. The fight was long, but the party prevailed, and, after collecting some meager treasure from the creatures' lair, headed back to town with its bounty of goblin scalps.

Lord Childeric was happy to part with the 120 gps for the scalps, as well as the 100 gps for the information on the cave and the orc corpses. In fact, he offered the party a reward of 1,000 gps if it descended into the caves and eliminated the threat of the orcs and whatever else might be down there. He provided the fighters with plate mail armor, and each of the adventurers with a healing potion. The adventurers then went to the Broken Lantern to enjoy an evening on the town.

Enos awoke the next day with no recollection of the previous evening. That day he noticed that Captain Carloman, of Lord Childeric's guard, would not make eye contact with him. When the party went to the village herbalist to obtain some aditional healing potions, Valda, the herbalist, remarked that Captain Carloman might be jealous if she got too friendly with Enos. The party then headed back into the hills, much to Enos' relief, no doubt.

The party encountered a next of giant rats deeper within the caves, and managed to defeat them after a lengthy battle. The party moved deeper into the caves, and came upon a strangely glowing, barricaded passage, which they chose to ignore. They descended ever deeper, and came upon a room that was crossed by an underground river. Three orcs were camped by a boat, and rose to attack. Tragically, Odolon was felled by one of these orcs before Calista was able to cast a sleep spell and put a quick end to the combat. The party returned to St. Corbus to seek someone who could ressurect Odolon, but found that there was nobody in the small village powerful enough to cast such a spell. It was here, in town, that the evening ended.

Experience points are noted in the post below. Thank you all for a great night of gaming.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Experience Points

I will post a detailed recap as soon as I have a chance, but I do want to post the experience point totals from last night's adventuring. This version of the game awards bonus experience points if a character has a high wisdom or charisma, or has a high score in his/her prime attribute, so I will list those separately.

Base Experience Points: 209
If your character's wisdom score is 13 or higher, add 10 additional XP
If your character's charisma score is 13 or higher, add an additional 10 XP
If your human or dwarven character's prime attribute is 13 or higher, add 10 XP
If your elven character's prime attribute is 15 or higher, add 10 XP.

These bonuses stack, so a character can gain a total of 30 bonus XP.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Middle Realms

The new Swords & Wizardry campaign will be set in the Middle Realms, an enclave of human kingdoms that struggles to survive against the chaos of the vast continent that surrounds it. The Middle Realms were once home to the Ilian Empire, which controlled vast territories and pushed the evil races of humanoids to the far edges of memory. It is said that in the empire's heyday, the countryside was abundant with grain and meat, and the cities and towns were abundant with art, commerce, and learning. As the centuries passed, however, the empire grew weak and corrupt within, and a slow decline began. The evil races, which had always tested the empire's borders, began to press inward, sacking towns and cities, reconquering large tracts of territory. The empire shrank inexorably, until only the area of the Middle Realms remained in human hands. It is there that humans, along with sizeable populations of elves and dwarves, hold fast against the savage races that never give up hope of overrunning this last bastion of civilization.

The campaign will begin in the northern marches of Thuringia, a kingdom in the northeast corner of the Middle Realms. Here, the land begins to rise into the Iron Mountains, the rugged range that shields the Middle Realms from the tribes of orcs and bugbears that control the lands to the east and north. Though humans nominally control this area, their power is tenuous, and those who venture too far from the safety of one of the few scattered keeps often find themselves in peril. Needless to say, many adventurers seek their fortunes there. Your group is no exception. You met on the road and banded together out of common interest, and have decided to begin your search for adventure in St. Corbus, a small, fortified town situated on a bend in the Merdret River. To the north and east of St. Corbus there is little but wilderness, danger, and hopefully, opportunity.

Good luck, adventurers!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

An Unexpected Turn of Events

The Kharschum Campaign is at an end. It started off well, I thought, as the party defeated the necromancer Ogodei and took up residence in his tower, and it still felt like fun as the characters tangled with the various underworld figures in the city and took over their criminal organizations. As the characters pushed past 10th level, however, the 3.5 rules became unimaginatively complex, and the characters became so powerful that they took on the feel of superheroes or gods, which required me to challenge them with equally potent enemies, which caused the tone of the campaign to shift from something that felt like fantasy to something that felt more and more like an X-Men movie. The party had also lost most of its muscle, and when Alayna died, leaving the party without an arcane spellcaster, it felt like the game had reached a crossroads.

I am going to start a new campaign with the Swords & Wizardry system while Carl continues with his own Swords & Wizardry campaign with Matt and the new group he formed. My hope is that at some point, we can merge the two groups and be fully intact once again. For the moment, however, we have done such a great job of pulling in new players that two groups seems the only practical solution.

The new campaign will take place in a new campaign world, which I will initially sketch out, and then develop as our game progresses. I will follow this up with a post that describes the campaign world so that those of you who will be playing can get a sense of its peoples and cultures. Although the game was heavily influenced by pulp fantasy, it also draws heavily on Medieval history and culture. Therefore, I am going to model this campaign world after the historical world of the Early Middle Ages, specifically on areas of present day France and Germany during the late Merovingian period. During this period, Europe was still heavily forested and sparsely populated; vast tracts of forest dominated the landscape, and the roads that linked the scattered manors and towns were dangerous places where lepers begged for food and bandits assailed unwary travelers. Society was feudal, and was dominated by the Catholic Church. Expect more detail to follow. I will also post house rules in a third post.