Thursday, February 14, 2019

Fate of the Norns – Fafnir’s Treasure – Session 1

[Fafnir’s Treasure is an introductory adventure written by Pendelhaven to introduce the game to players and gamemasters to Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok.  The Other GM is using it for our playtest of the system.]

[Spoilers – This will spoil the intro adventure for this game system, so if that’s something that worries you, be aware.]

Player Characters

Vigdis – a female Daughter of Ratatosk, Death Dancer subtype (Essence: 4, Destiny: 3), Hero of Renown
Masrur – a male Ulfhednar, Wolfen subtype (Essence: 6, Destiny: 2), Hunter/Trapper
Gunnarr – a male Galdr, Enchanter subtype (Essence: 6, Destiny: 2), Foreign Import Merchant
Elric Windgazer – a male Galdr, Diviner subtype (Essence: 4, Destiny: 3), Liberated Thrall
Bodil – a female Daughter of Ratatosk, Death Dancer subtype (Essence: 6, Destiny: 2), Town Guard

Missed the Session
Einar – a male Galdr, Enchanter subtype (Essence: 6, Destiny: 2), Gravedigger

[All characters started as Level 10 for character creation, which is at the top end of low-level characters.  Each character archetype has three subtypes that help differentiate characters playing the same archetype a bit.  Powers and Skills chosen during character creation do that better.]

[Galdr are runecasters, one of three types of magic in the game.  The other two types of magic are Seith and Spellsong.]

[Daughters of Ratatosk emulate Ratatosk, the cosmic squirrel that runs messages up and down Yggdrasil between the eagle that lives on the top of Yggdrasil and the dragon that gnaws on the roots of Yggdrasil.  Ratatosk twists the messages to keep the two antagonistic towards each other and the Daughters of Ratatosk taunt opponents into brash actions that they can dance around.]

[Ulfhednar are warriors with a wolf motif and a tendency to turn into a giant wolf.  We are starting to think they may be overpowered, but we’re not certain yet.]


Day 1, Sometime in the 2nd year of Fimbulwinter
A group of viking would-be heroes and one hero of renown [Vigdis] heard that the mine near the town of Evingard had mysteriously stopped producing ore.  Rumor had it that there was a reward to be had for re-opening the mine and defeating whatever was the problem.  The group traveled by longship to Evingard, across the ice-choked sea and surviving several monster attacks on the way.  They and the captain of the longship were the only survivors of the trip.

Evingard was a walled town that showed signs of a recent attack by raiders.  Parts of the wall were still smoking and charred, bodies were still being cleared, and blood was congealing in the snow and on the walls.  The local town guards at the gate challenged the group to state their business.  Gunnarr stated that the group had heard the mine was no longer producing and were here to do something about it.  Masrur, a mountain of a man, just growled at the guards.  Vigdis stated she was here to see Hakon, the Captain of the Guard.  Satisfied with these answers, the guards let the vikings into Evingard.

The vikings split up to find different locals they knew who might provide more information as to what is going on.  [Part of the set up for the adventure, the Norn (the GM) assigned three local contacts to each PC based on their background occupation.]  Masrur suggested going to the tavern for drinks [which our group immediately renamed to “The Snugly Duckling”] and those not going there agreed to meet there later.

Gunnarr went to the local house of pleasure where he knew the owner, Astrid.  Astrid was talking with a client to get him paired off correctly, so Gunnarr patiently waited as he had no money to spend after the trip to Evingard.  Once Astrid was available to talk, Gunnarr greeted her, telling her he was in town about the problem with the mine.  Astrid knew the mine had stopped producing ore but little else.  The one thing she knew that caught Gunnarr’s ear was that the mine was considered un-owned now.  While this meant no owner would pay to have the mine issue fixed, being able to claim a known, profitable mine was a reward in itself.  Astrid suggested Gunnarr talk with Sven at the Snugly Duckling for more information about the mine.  Then Gunnarr and Astrid exchanged news and gossip about other places that each had heard.  Once those social niceties were complete, Gunnarr headed over to the tavern.

Vigdis went over to the barracks for the town guard, looking for Hakon.  She found some other guards who recognized her standing around a fire pit to keep warm.  Vigdis asked where Hakon was and was told he was questioning some troublemakers.  Knowing Hakon was a bully who kept control through power and domination, Vigdis knew that “questioning” was really “beating up on” and making enemies of the guard was not what she was here for.  She instead stood with the guards around the fire pit and made small talk until Hakon came out from the back of the building.

Hakon and Vigdis talked.  Vigdis learned that about four months ago, no one returned from the mine.  When the owner went to see what the problem was, he never returned either.  A few more went to see what the trouble was and they never returned.  With no ore from the mine, commerce through the town stopped.  Hakon indicated that he had some additional information Vigdis would want, but he needed a favor done before he’d share the information.  There was a group of rowdies over in the Poortown part of Evingard who were causing no end of trouble.  If Vigdis would “take care of them”, Hakon would share this additional information.

Vigdis thought it over and then accepted the proposal.  Hakon told her where the rowdies would be and how to identify them.  She then left the barracks and headed to the Snugly Duckling.  It never hurt to have some friends backing you up.

Masrur, Bodil, and Elric had walked from the town gate to the Snugly Duckling.  Along the way, they saw a pair of owls, one black, one white, sitting on a roof.  Both owls took off as they were noticed and Elric interpreted this as an omen that someone would lie to and betray them this day.  [He made a successful Omens and Portents check per the adventure.]

At the Snugly Duckling, Masrur and Bodil were warmly greeted by Sven the bartender and owner of the tavern.  Elric and Sven were introduced to each other and then the group fell to talking.  Sven knew some about the mine and shared that information with the trio of vikings [same information Vigdis gained from Hakon], but he also knew one other thing – rumor was that Fafnir’s Treasure had been located within the mine and the curse on that treasure was why people were disappearing and the town was being attacked.

Sven shared a brief retelling of the story of Fafnir’s Treasure.  As he was wrapping up with the story [this was Read Aloud text in the adventure], Vigdis and Gunnarr arrived at the tavern.  They were introduced to Sven as friends and the group exchanged information.  Gunnarr got into a side conversation with Sven, focusing on the ownership of the mine and how Gunnarr might acquire it if the previous owner was dead [and Gunnarr wasn’t above helping that worthy achieve Valhalla if it came to it].  Gunnarr was aware that the local Chief would need to be approached about this [successful Etiquette check] and learned from Sven that Ingvar held that title as his clan house was in town, an unusual location for a clan of the Wolf Tribe, which favored the wilds.  The previous owner [Olaf Olafsson] had a deal with Ingvar to share the profit and ore from the mine in order to claim ownership.  Sven suggested that Gunnarr would have to make the same deal to claim the mine for himself.  Gunnarr was fine with this.  Gunnarr arranged a tab with Sven in exchange for news of other places and ordered the house specialty – raspberry salmon fishcakes  and some mead.

Vigdis explained to the group that she might have access to additional information from the Captain of the Guard, but had to go clear out some rowdies in Poortown.  The rest of the group volunteered to help and the group left the tavern to go find the trouble.

When they left the tavern, a group of wild-eyed villagers accosted them, threatening violence.  The vikings responded with actual violence and rapidly beat them down, Masrur immediately turned into a Blood Wolf and Elric cast rune magic to put all eight down quickly.  Gunnarr took the time to drag the bodies out of the road and placed them to the side.

[This was an introductory fight to give new players a taste of how combat worked in Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok.  There was no way the PCs could lose this fight and it barely lasted one round of combat.  We initially thought we had killed them all, but I later remembered that the last rune stopped at the top of the wound track when it first entered there.  This made the Denizens (NPCs) unconscious but bleeding to death if not healed in any way.  I like this mechanism as it allows characters to be taken prisoner without adding any additional necessary actions to accomplish it.]

Vigdis led the group through Poortown, to a street on the far north side of town.  There the vikings found a gang of 18 ruffians who thought the vikings were fresh meat until Masrur came around the corner in giant wolf form [about 17 feet long, snout to tail tip].  Masrur charged in amongst the ruffians, biting and clawing them as he went, and dropped most of them to the ground.  Elric, Bodil, and Vigdis took down most of the remaining ruffians, leaving a lone survivor at the end of the round [Gunnar summoned and maintained a Rune Blade, but this took both of his runes to do and left him with no runes to advance or attack with – the downside to a 2 Destiny].  Masrur ended the final ruffian before he could run.

End of Session

[The session ran very long as we spent an hour+ at the beginning finalizing characters and equipment and putting them all on character sheets.  I wish Pendelhaven made a version without the background image – it uses a lot of toner to little effect on a black-and-white printer.  Same with the play sheet (for handling runes and damage during combat) and, in fact, the rules themselves.  I printed out the metatags section and the conditions section for quick reference during the game and they just suck down the toner.  I don’t have to print sections out, but with only two rulebooks for the playtest and six players, extra copies speed things up.]

[Fafnir’s Treasure takes place after the first year of Fimbulwinter.  The implied setting in the rules is some time after all three years of Fimbulwinter have happened, but before the Jotun complete their ship to sail and attack Asgard.  Actual dates are never mentioned and there is no timeline in the rules, though there is a text description of the general sequence of events regarding Ragnarok.  I think the odd timing is because the adventure was written for an earlier edition of the game that is set in Fimbulwinter, not after it.  As a technical writer and editor by trade, this is at least distracting and worries me that they did not think to update all of their materials when they went to 2nd edition.  What else is going to be wrong or out of synch with the current rules?]

[The Ulfhednar archetype feels over powered right now (although the player is very much enjoying it), but we’ve only faced opponents significantly weaker than us so far, so I’m not certain how out of balance it might be.  Masrur is easily equal to the entire rest of the group in combat, which seems like an issue.  This is another place where we’ll have to wait and see if there are big things later in the adventure that justify that level of combat prowess in starting characters.]

[Incidentally, I’m thinking of changing Gunnarr over to being a Skald.  I’m playing him as a form of information broker/news exchange person anyway, and that’s really the realm of the skalds.  The Norn is allowing us to change up our characters for the first two or three session as we get more familiar with the system and see what works and what doesn’t.  This might be a bigger change than he was expecting, but I’m going to look at the skald power and skill “bingo charts” to see if it has things I want.  More on this later.]


Session 2 [Not written yet]


Friday, February 8, 2019

Barrowmaze using ACKS - Compilations

This page provides links to the compilations of my session notes for my Barrowmaze using ACKS campaign.  It will be periodically updated as compilations become available.  Links also appear in the Downloads sidebar on the blog.

Season 1

This is a PDF of Sessions 1-11 of the campaign, comprising the rise and eventual TPK of the first adventuring group, The Motley Crew.

Book 2: Rise of the Revengers [Not compiled yet]
This is a PDF of Sessions 12-35 of the campaign, comprising the the creation of the adventuring group The Revengers and continuing to the end of the first adventuring season.

Season 2

This is a placeholder for the next adventuring season's session note compilation, once it happens.  

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok - Session 0

Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok is a new game for the group, so Session 0 was part character creation and part explanation of the rules and world.  We have two copies of the rules [both purchased at PAX South by one of the players] and one copy was left with me to read before Session 0.  This allowed me to have some familiarity with the rules and where things are in the book.  I should note we are using the Second Edition of Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok.

Some notes about the book design.  It is covered with artwork that is evocative of the sagas and the feel of Norse artwork from the 900's, at least to my eye.  One of the players doesn't care for folk art and was a bit put off by the artwork.  He later came around and is excited to play after we [mostly] finished character creation.

The organization of the book makes it a useful reference document, but a bit awkward to learn the rules from.  Concepts like rune chains [groups of runes played together as one action] are used pages before they are fully explained.  I was able to get the gist of what was meant, but was scratching my head as to implications.  Having read the rules entirely and then gone through character creation, I think I might need to read through them again to get a fuller understanding of the rules.  This is a barrier to entry for new players and new gamers might be inclined to return the game at this point, especially considering the hefty price tag [$70 for the paperback, $90 for the hardcover].

That said, the rules seem interesting and I'm very interested in seeing how things play out.  The game uses Futhark Runes as randomizers.  I made my own using some wooden disks I had plus Sharpie markers in Red, Blue, and Black [should have been green to match the colors used in the game, but I didn't have a green Sharpie].  The runes are divided into three sets of eight and color coded to align with the three primary Traits: Physical (red), Mental (blue), and Spiritual (green).  I could order a set of wooden runes from the publishers, Pendelhaven, but at $24.95 for what might be a one-shot, creating my own seemed a better bet.  I might change my mind later after we play for a while - we'll see.

Unlike other games, the Norn [FOTNR's term for the GM] decides what level the players start at.  Low level characters seem to be from level 5 to 10, but there is nothing in the rule book that actually says that.  Our Norn started us at Level 10 as the adventure he's running, The Treasure of Fafnir, recommends that.

[Sidebar 1: The Treasure of Fafnir is an intro adventure for the game and seems to be written for first time players and GMs.  It might be the "other book" containing the rules and guidelines for GMs I feel are missing from the main rule book.  As it is the adventure we are going to play, I can't read it yet, so we'll see.]

Levels are used as build points to purchase Essence and Destiny.  Essence is how many runes of the total 24 runes are attached to your character.  Destiny is how many runes you draw when you need to draw runes [which happens for several different reasons].  Each point of Essence costs 1 level and each point of Destiny costs 2 levels.  With 10 levels to spend, I bought 6 Essence and 2 Destiny, which most of the group did.  This gave us a lot of options, but very few will be available at any one time.  Two players chose 4 Essence and 3 Destiny, which means they have a smaller pool of options to pull from, but pull most of the pool each time they need to draw.  This is a critical choice when making your character and going in blind we agonized a bit over it.  Once we start playing, we'll see who chose wisely.

The runes that make up your Essence are used to select Active Powers, Passive Powers, and Skills off of what we called "bingo cards" that are unique to each character archetype [class equivalent].  There is a bingo card each for Active Powers, Passive Powers, and Skills that list everything available to that archetype.  You place your Essence runes on the card adjacent to each other, starting from the center square (no diagonals).  Each rune you place "unlocks" adjacent squares and allows you to place runes on them, unlocking further squares.  The upshot of this method is that each character of the archetype will have a different selection of powers and skills, differentiating them from each other.

The rune used to select a power of skill is also tied to that power or skill.  This matters a lot for Active Powers, but doesn't seem to matter as much for Passive Powers or Skills.  If it does, the rules don't explain how.  The rules also do explain that you can double up runes on squares, but the sample characters in the downloadable PDF for Treasure of Fafnir clearly have for their Skills.  It would have been nice if the rule book explicitly said this was an option and when as opposed to me having to infer it from the sample characters.

[Sidebar 2: There are two PDFs with sample characters that you can download from the website for the game.  The file labeled Pregenerated Dwellers provides characters of archetypes that are NOT in the main rule book.  I have no idea where they come from.  Without the bingo boards they are not very useful.  The PDF labeled Saga: Fafnirs Treasure printable materials has sample characters of the archetypes in the main rule book, but with some differences.  I suspect they were made using the First Edition rules and never updated for the Second Edition changes.  This is speculation on my part, but it fits the evidence.]

There is an option for using the first four runes each player draws to randomly determine some personality traits and starting profession/social standing.  I recommend doing this the first time to help establish the appropriate atmosphere/flavor for the player characters, especially if you do not have a lot of knowledge about things viking.  The downside is starting gear/money is likely to be uneven.  We had a range starting money from 100 to 700.  [Warning: the money is called skatt.  It may be historically accurate, but means something else in English - so be aware of that when introducing others.]

Our group ended up with 3 Galdr, 2 Maidens of Ratatosk, and 1 Ulfhednar.  Galdr use runes to cast magic, either inscribing the runes into things or tracing them in the air.  Maidens of Ratatosk are devil-may-care women living life to the fullest, taunting their foes before cutting them down, making them warriors of finesse.  Ulfhednar are shape-shifters who are all about the hunt and the kill, making them warriors of fury and power.  No one selected to play a Seithkona (wielders of spirit magic) or a Skald (casters of spell-songs).

That's about how far we got in Session 0.  With the wide variety of powers and skills and more players than rule books, we had to do a lot of sharing, which slowed things down.  We were supposed to play our first session this past Monday, but the Norn was unable to attend due to school things, one player had a work meeting, and one was ill.  The few who showed up finished building our characters and buying our starting gear.  Due to the high cost of weapons and armor and low starting money, I suspect the game designers do not expect the players to buy much.  Some players only had enough to buy a single small weapon or shield.  I had enough (after bargaining using my Negotiation skill) to buy medium graceful armor, a longsword, a short bow, a ceremonial knife, and a reinforced shield.  I based my choices on generating a high Parry as a defensive action to avoid being hit.  I'll post information about my character in a later post.  I am likely the party healer.


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Session Report – Barrowmaze – Session 35

[The first adventuring season comes to an end with the arrival of the rainy season.]

[Also?  SPOILERS!  This series will spoil what’s in Barrowmaze, so take that into consideration before reading.]

PCs (The Revengers)
Godric – male Dwarven Craft-Prelate (7th level Craftpriest)
Adam the Hesitant – male human Sorcerer (7th level Mage)
Boris the Fighter – male human Epic Hero (8th level Fighter)

NPCs
Dergos – male human guide, still sold on the glory of adventuring, hired by Boris
‘Len – professional torchbearer, full name is Morgullen, but he never uses it, hired by Boris
Nolig – male human porter, hired by Hrglclxin
Verya [pronounced Vir-uh] – female human Exemplar (5th level Fighter), hired for 1/3 share of any treasure
Vorgand – female human porter, a university student earning coin, hired by Daphne
Dhekeon – a revenant seeking redemption

Out for Bedrest
Daphne – female human Blade-Priestess (8th level Bladedancer) [Out until 6 September]
Hrglclxin – male human Pathfinder (7th level Explorer) [Out until 20 September]
Scorpie – charmed giant scorpion following Daphne [Out until 13 September]
Sir Pelinore – male human Paladin, bound to serve the Revengers for 1 year [Out until 12 September]


Yggsday, August 31st, 1st year of the reign of King Vladik the Gamesman
With nearly half the team down for bedrest and Adam needing time to memorize new and higher level magics, the Revengers decided to take a week off from adventuring.

Hernesday, September 3rd, 1st year of the reign of King Vladik the Gamesman
Late on a very warm day, clouds started moving in from the southwest.

Magusday, September 4th, 1st year of the reign of King Vladik the Gamesman
The clouds were still moving across the sky, but on this day bands of light rain moved across the area.  The locals spent the day preparing their homes and bringing in those crops ready to harvest.  This bemused those in town for the final days of the Grand Party who instead party with greater intensity and abandon.

Taking a hint from the locals, Tripp had additional anchor lines added to the outdoor pavilions.

Cromsday, September 5th, 1st year of the reign of King Vladik the Gamesman
Late in the morning heavy rains moved in, along with strong winds.  Any unanchored tents were blown over or away, some with people and belongings still in them.  Rainy Season had arrived and Boris made a respectable amount of gold coin on the betting pool [he bet 212 gp on the first week of September at 2:1 odds, earning a total of 318 gp on his bet].

It will continue to rain for the next several weeks at differing levels of intensity.  Portions of Helix become very muddy, especially the public areas as the temporary residents [those only in Helix to attend the Grand Party] hire carts and wagons to get out of Helix.  Their goal is to get to at least Ironguard Motte where lodgings that are not tents can be acquired.  Gradually the rains make the roads in the Duchy of Aerik difficult to travel.  The run-off from the rains drain into the Barrowmoor and it quickly becomes impassible any but the frog people and lizardfolk.

Late in October the rains let up as winter sets in.  The roads in the Duchy of Aerik become passable again, but the moors are too full of water to traverse.  It will take several months for the waters to recede and the land to dry out enough for travelers to enter the Barrowmoor and start up Adventuring Season again – but that is a story for later.

End of Session

End of Season 1


[So that’s it for Season 1 of Barrowmaze using ACKS.  I’ve been very pleased with both ACKS as a rule system and Barrowmaze as a dungeon.  I recommend both products highly.]

[I will be compiling the blogs of session notes into a single PDF and posting it for download.  This might take more than a week as I fix any dating errors or other consistency issues that might have crept in.  I’ll also create some record blog pages for Season 1 and post links on the sidebar of the blog, similar to what I did with my Traveller campaign.]

[The group will be taking a break and playing Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok for the intro adventure Fafnir’s Treasure.  I’ll be playing in that to get some time in as a player and post similar session notes here.  Depending upon how long that runs, I may start Season 2 of Barrowmaze using ACKS with the experienced Revengers resuming their adventuring careers (and the plundering of Barrowmaze).  I need to spend a little time updating Barrowmaze and Helix in light of player activity this season - so if FOTN: Ragnarok doesn't take enough time, there might be another short campaign before Season 2 starts.]

[That’s it for now.  Thank you for reading and keep an eye out for my next blog post where I talk about creating characters for FOTN: Ragnarok.  Later!]


The Motley Crew
Session 1: The Start

Session 11: TPK

The Revengers
Session 12: Rise of the Revengers

Session 22

Session 32
Session 32A
Session 33
Session 34


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Session Report – Barrowmaze – Session 34

[The Revengers finally get some revenge on some mummies, find the back way in to the Temple of Set, get cocky about it, and then regret doing so.  Near-TPK experience ahead!]

[Also?  SPOILERS!  This series will spoil what’s in Barrowmaze, so take that into consideration before reading.]

PCs (The Revengers)
Godric – male Dwarven Craft-Prelate (7th level Craftpriest)
Adam the Hesitant – male human Sorcerer (7th level Mage)
Boris the Fighter – male human Epic Hero (8th level Fighter)
Daphne – female human Blade-Priestess (8th level Bladedancer)

NPCs
Dergos – male human guide, still sold on the glory of adventuring, hired by Boris
‘Len – professional torchbearer, full name is Morgullen, but he never uses it, hired by Boris
Verya [pronounced Vir-uh] – female human Exemplar (5th level Fighter), hired for 1/3 share of any treasure
Vorgand – female human porter, a university student earning coin, hired by Daphne
Dhekeon – a revenant seeking redemption
Scorpie – charmed giant scorpion following Daphne

Out for Bedrest
Hrglclxin – male human Pathfinder (7th level Explorer) [Out until 20 September]
Sir Pelinore – male human Paladin, bound to serve the Revengers for 1 year [Out until 12 September]


Cromsday, August 29th, 1st year of the reign of King Vladik the Gamesman
The Revengers spent the day healing from their last expedition to Barrowmaze.  Daphne cast Restore Life and Limb on Sir Pelinore to restore his damaged knee.  The casting was intense and Sir Pelinore needs two weeks of bedrest to fully recover from the experience.

Freysday, August 30th, 1st year of the reign of King Vladik the Gamesman
The Revengers gathered their hirelings and followers at the Mercenary Guild building and then headed south, into the Barrowmoor.  Along the way, the group noticed a wyvern circling overhead.  Not wanting to mess with it, they took evasive action and eventually left it behind.

At the field of barrows, the adventurers decided it was finally time to get some revenge on the mummies and whatever was in that white marble sarcophagus in Barrow 34.  [Revenge for what?  Making them flee in terror.]  The group headed over Barrow 34 and entered it.  Little had changed since their last time in this barrow.  Godric cast Bless on the group before Boris opened the door to the partially flooded room that was their target.

The mummies that attacked them in the past were leaning against the wall to the right of the doorway.  The white marble sarcophagus was closed again.  After some hushed discussion, Boris, Daphne, and Godric waded across the room and climbed the stairs to the dais the sarcophagus lay on.  As they approached the white marble sarcophagus, the three mummies reanimated and moved to attack.  Ready for this, Godric and Daphne presented their holy symbols and turned one mummy each.  Before the third mummy could reach them, Godric turned it as well.

Meanwhile, Boris and Daphne were waiting for the sarcophagus to be opened by its occupant.  When that happened, Boris struck it and nearly destroyed the barrow mummy inside the sarcophagus.  The barrow mummy activated Platinum Neshralk Funerary Figure buried with it [which grew into a golem and attacked] and then pulled the sarcophagus closed again and Daphne turned it.

Boris quickly dispatched the golem while Daphne and Godric handled the mummies.  Boris then pushed open the white marble sarcophagus and ended the barrow mummy.  The group looted the barrow afterward, recovering a Platinum Death Mask in the form of a skeletal raven, a Terra Cotta Funerary Figure, and four Ivory Canopic jars with gold lids in the form of mythic creatures.

Feeling properly revenged, the Revengers left Barrow 34 and went over to The Pit [Barrow 47].  There they climbed down into Barrowmaze and started exploring to the north again.  Just past the now-collapsed enormous chamber [Room 256] was a door on the right-hand wall.  Boris opened the door and found a triangular room.  On the far wall was a door out, flanked by two tapestries.  Both tapestries were in good condition, making them the best tapestries the group had ever seen in the dungeon or any of the barrows they had explored so far.  Suspicious of things that hide behind tapestries, they threw a rock at each tapestry to see if they could provoke anything that might be hiding behind the tapestries.  When nothing happened, Godric approached one of the tapestries to investigate it.

[At this point, Boris’ player joked that it was really a mimic and its tongue rolled out to attack Godric.  Both players laughed.  Godric’s player even referenced the meme about “I laughed, the bartender laughed, the table laughed”.]

As Godric lifted the left tapestry aside to see what was behind it, a large pseudopod rolled out of the mimic and it attacked him.  [The expression on the players’ faces was priceless.  Actual jaw-dropping surprise!]  When Boris stepped up on Godric’s right to help him fight the mimic, the other tapestry also attacked, it also being a mimic.  The fight was intense but short as the adventurers quickly cut down the mimics.

Boris opened the door the mimics had been flanking and discovered an empty room with two other doors leading out.  He immediately closed it and said, “Nothing worthwhile in there.  Let’s go back to heading north.”  [He recognized a distraction when he saw one.]

The Revengers were about to turn back as the corridor they were following turned east ahead, which was not the direction they wanted to go.  They decided to at least take a peak and found there was an intersection just around the corner that offered a path north, so they continued in that direction.

There was a door on their immediate left once they turned north again.  The room beyond the door was empty except for some piles of rubble along the walls.  There were no other exits, so the Revengers closed the door and continued north.  They ignored a side passage to the east, but took the passage to the west just beyond it.  This passage turned north again and they could see there was a lighted side passage ahead.  As the only self-lit portion of the dungeon they had found so far was the Temple to Set area, this excited them.

At the T-intersection, the long corridor to their left was lit by torches while the corridor to their right led to darkness.  This seemed to match up with part of their map, enough so that Adam started repeating his new catch phrase, “Set commands and I obey.”  Part way down the lit corridor, a secret door popped open in response to Adam’s words.  The adventurers grinned.

Beyond the secret door was a 10x10 chamber.  The secret door on the other side opened when Adam said the code phrase again and the group entered a lit hallway.  A short passage to their right ended in a doorway, while the passage ahead went a short distance before turning left.  The adventurers went right and Boris opened the door.  The door led to a 20x30 room that was the bedchamber of a necromancer of Set, who was in the room and very surprised by the adventurers entering his private room!  [Room 214A]  Boris talked with the necromancer, asking after mongrelmen.  The necromancer told Boris he knew where the mongrelmen were, but there was an issue.  It was an issue easier to show than explain and he offered to lead the adventurers to where the mongrelmen were.  The adventurers were suspicious, but accepted this proposal.

The necromancer led them past a curtain to another door.  He opened the door and entered the room, closely followed by Boris.  This room was the private room of another necromancer who was present.  Being closer to the door out of this room than Boris or the other necromancer, this necromancer quickly ran through the door behind him.  The captive necromancer offered to go after him and quiet down any alarm he might be raising and Boris responded with, “Yes, please.”  The captive necromancer calmly walked to the door, but once through could be heard crying out, “Alarm!  We are invaded!” as he ran away.  Boris sighed.

The adventurers proceeded forward, through the doorway the necromancers had fled through.  The next room was more of a three-person barracks, but no one was present.  [Room 219]  The doorway on the far side of the room was partially open and Boris could see a corridor running left and right beyond it.  Pressing forward, Boris went through the door, looking both ways to see if he could determine which way either necromancer had fled.  To the right, the hallway made a turn to the right.  To the left the corridor went a long distance with a couple doors on the left side.  Boris could hear commotion behind the first door, which was only a short distance down.

Boris led the adventurers to the left and opened the first door.  Behind it was another barracks room with four necromancers hiding behind an overturned bed in the back corner.  They immediately cast magic missile at Boris and he was struck by four missiles.  He, Dhekeon, and Godric charged into the room and Boris cut down all four necromancers with cleave attacks.  Daphne and Adam were still in the hallway when two necromancers in very ornate robes came around the corner behind the group [Nathalas and Thala-Kul].  With these necromancers were two steel skeletons, two brass jackals, and six black skeletons, all ready for battle.

Asking for healing when it became possible, Boris quickly stepped from the room he was in out into the hallway, stepping between Adam and the necromancers where he waited for the skeletons to attack.  Godric followed Boris, taking position next to him while holding forth his holy symbol to turn some of the skeletons.  He was only able to turn two of the black skeletons, which was slightly disheartening.  Daphne cast Sword of Fire to arm herself for the coming fight.

Before anyone else could go, the necromancer High Mage cast Minor Globe of Invulnerability, protecting both himself and his number two from any spells of third level or less.  Adam cursed and fled back into the room where Boris had slaughtered the four low-level necromancers.  The most effective spells he had in his repertoire were third level or lower and the High Mage had just blocked him from casting them on the necromancers.  [Adam would spend the rest of the fight in the doorway, leaning out to snipe skeletons with his spells.  This turned out to be very fortuitous for him.]

The remaining four black skeletons advanced to engage in melee with the Revengers, allowing Boris to use his saved attack on the first one.  Despite the impressive damage dealt, the black skeleton kept standing and attacked back.  The brass jackals and steel skeletons stayed back with the necromancers, protecting them.  

Then the lesser necromancer cast Lightning Bolt.

Luckily the bolt was relatively weak, but it struck Scorpie [clinging on the wall by Boris to help fight the black skeletons], Boris, and Daphne before racing down the corridor and expending itself.  Adam received a very close view of the bolt as it raced past him, but being in the doorway took him outside the bolts area of effect and spared him the damage.

Being on the front line, Godric had to attack with his enchanted hammer, which kept him from casting for several rounds.  As the adventurers slowly destroyed the black skeletons, the steel skeletons moved forward.  Godric took a chance and cast his lone Flame Strike spell on the necromancers.  The divine column of flame dropped the lesser necromancer, destroyed the brass jackals, and injured the High Mage, but not fatally.  The High Mage dropped a Stinking Cloud to little effect [everyone made their saving throws], but followed it with a Lightning Bolt of his own that dropped Scorpie, Boris, and Daphne in one go.  Once again, Adam missed being hit by the spell because he was in the doorway and not the corridor.  He counted his blessings.

Godric responded by casting Cure Serious Wounds on Daphne to get her active again.  Adam took his own chance and cast his last spell, a Fireball he dropped on the steel skeletons.  He slagged the steel skeleton that had been previously injured, the last black skeleton, but not the second steel skeleton.  In response, the High Mage summoned a fire elemental that filled the corridor in front of him.

In a desperate ploy, Dhekeon and Godric charged forward around the last steel skeleton, through the flames that comprised the fire elemental [getting burned by doing so], and attacked the High Mage with their weapons.  Their combined attacks were enough to kill the High Mage, releasing the summoned fire elemental while Verya held the last steel skeleton at bay so Daphne could heal Boris and then Scorpie.

The battered adventurers dog-piled the last steel skeleton to bring it down.

Knowing that the rest of the necromancers would show up soon, the adventurers quickly looted the bodies and fled back the way they had come to the surface.  There they took some time for additional healing [using healing proficiencies and finally rolling on the Mortality Table].  Boris ended up losing 2 fingers, Daphne lost her left hand [needs one week bedrest], and Scorpie lost one of its eight legs [needs two weeks bedrest].

They then marched north into the Barrowmoor and back to Helix.  Along the way they had to evade a manticore as none of them were in any shape to fight it and all of their spellcasters were depleted of spells.  Once safely back in Helix, those still injured made donations to the Shrine of St. Ygg for additional healing.  Lots of additional healing.

End of Session


[The fight with the necromancers went long, so after it was done we wrapped up.  This meant we did not assign experience or work out the value of the treasure they had, something we’ll do at the beginning of the next session.]

[Minor Globe of Invulnerability is in the Player Companion and not the main ACKS rulebook and would not normally be available based on the campaign rule of “only the main rulebook”.  This rule was instituted when we first started as none of us had played these rules before and we wanted to reduce the number of variables we had to learn.  I’m running Barrowmaze as-written, so I did not change the spell when it came up, despite it not being available to PCs.  I’ve decided that I’m going to introduce the Player Companion spells as the players find spell books containing them, representing those spells as lost lore.  The group of us are familiar enough with the ACKS system now that I feel comfortable adding things from the Player Companion.]


The Motley Crew
Session 1: The Start

Session 11: TPK

The Revengers
Session 12: Rise of the Revengers

Session 22

Session 32
Session 32A
Session 33

Session 35 [Not yet written]


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Session Report – Barrowmaze – Session 33

[The Revengers spring an obvious trap.  Rocks fall – Hrglclxin dies (plus 2 NPCs)!]

[Also?  SPOILERS!  This series will spoil what’s in Barrowmaze, so take that into consideration before reading.]

PCs (The Revengers)
Godric – male Dwarven Craft-Rector (6th level Craftpriest)
Daphne – female human Blade-Adept (7th level Bladedancer)
Boris the Fighter – male human Champion (7th level Fighter)
Adam the Hesitant – male human Enchanter (6th level Mage)
Hrglclxin [pronounced her-gull-klack sin] – male human Tracker (6th level Explorer)

NPCs
Dergos – male human guide, still sold on the glory of adventuring, hired by Boris
‘Len – professional torchbearer, full name is Morgullen, but he never uses it, hired by Boris
Nolig – male human porter, hired by Hrglclxin
Proximo – male human Rogue, Godric’s henchman
Verya [pronounced Vir-uh] – female human Hero (4th level Fighter), hired for 1/3 share of any treasure
Vorgand – female human porter, a university student earning coin, hired by Daphne
Dhekeon – a revenant seeking redemption
Sir Pelinore – male human Paladin, bound to serve the Revengers for 1 year
Scorpie – charmed giant scorpion following Daphne


Hernesday, August 27th, 1st year of the reign of King Vladik the Gamesman
While the rest of the Revengers were retrieving the library from Barrowmaze, Daphne stayed in Helix, taking a turn at the first aid station for the Grand Party [drunk partiers still do dumb things, even after three weeks of partying].  She also cast Divination to see if the Mongrelmen leaders were still alive.  The response she received was, “Yes, but soon.  Sooon.”  [This is a bit of retcon, but it is reasonable that she would do this and I’d actually been waiting for it, so I allowed it.]

Magusday, August 28th, 1st year of the reign of King Vladik the Gamesman
With a sense of urgency as Adventuring Season neared its traditional end [September 1st, but really until the first heavy rains arrive and make the moors to muddy to travel through], the Revengers formed up at the Mercenary Guild building with their usual crew of hirelings and followers.  The group headed south into the moors.  Along the way to Barrowmaze, another [or possibly the same] empire of owlbears started following the group.  After some time, the Revengers were able to lose the owlbears and arrived at the field of barrows a little after Noon.  [The players failed their initial evade check, but the owlbears failed their pursuit check.]

The Revengers made their way to The Pit [Barrow 47] and climbed down to the dungeon itself.  They went west, down the corridor, and then turned right at the first intersection.  When they reached the complicated T-intersection, they took the left jog in order to continue north.

Part way down this corridor, they came upon a side hallway, 20 ft. wide with a ceiling the rapidly rose to 40-feet high.  At the end of the hallway was an immense set of wooden double doors.  Intrigued, the Revengers decided to investigate.

Boris pushed open the immense double doors.  Beyond was a 40-foot tall very large chamber, its ceiling supported by numerous pillars carved into the shape of armed warriors.  Spread between the pillars were numerous unopened sarcophagi.  In the center of the room was a giant bronze statue of Nergal [Room 256].

Now the Revengers knew a trap when they saw one, but the lure of treasure was strong.  Boris stepped into the room carefully.  When none of the pillars nor the statue animated, he carefully sidled up to the nearest sarcophagi to investigate it.  The rest of the group stayed back at the doorway, where they could see Boris, but were not actually in the room.  Boris opened the sarcophagus by pushing its lid off, which triggered the double doors to the room slamming shut in the faces of the rest of the Revengers.  Then the bronze statue of Nergal animated…

Outside the room, the Revengers first tried to push the doors back open, but the doors were held shut by magic.  They then attacked one of the doors, hacking away at a section where the two doors met, desperate to get past the doors and help Boris.  [During this effort, Proximo accidentally hit Daphne.  She mostly shrugged it off, which kept Scorpie from attacking Proximo to defend its friend.]  It took nearly 30 seconds before they were able to hack away enough door that they could start sidling through, one at a time.

Meanwhile, inside the room, Boris learned a few valuable lessons.  First was that the bronze statue could hit hard.  Very hard.  [Its first attack was a natural 20 on the die, doing max damage per house rules, for 30 points of damage or slightly more than half Boris’ hit points.]  Second, attacking the statue with an edged weapon, like his sword, caused the statue to spray the molten metal that was its core on the attacker.  This burned.  Boris dropped his sword and kept his shield up, using it for defense and to attack.  Luckily, Boris’ high defense [and my crappy rolls] kept the giant statue from landing attacks every time it swung.  Unluckily, several of its swings shattered adjacent pillars, burying nearby sarcophagi in the rubble.  [If there were frogurt here, it would be cursed.]

With a gap hacked into the four-foot thick doors, the rest of the Revengers started entering the fray.  Hrglclxin and Pelinore made it through in the first round, but Daphne’s gear got caught up in the narrow gap and she temporarily held up the others.  Based on Hrglclxin’s suggestion, Daphne called for Vorland to dig the Horn of the Dead out of her gear and pass it through.  

Hrglclxin started firing his small supply of enchanted arrows at the statue, wounding it repeatedly.  Once Daphne was in the chamber, she cast Protection from Evil, which Boris quickly stepped into and started chugging healing potions [he was down to less than 10 hit points at this time].  Godric and Proximo followed Daphne into the chamber, Proximo stepping out of Daphne’s protective magics to shoot arrows at the statue [he accidentally shot another PC at this point, but I don't remember who], but Dhekeon got stuck in the door gap, blocking Adam and Verya from entering the chamber.

Vorland found the Horn in the pack she was carrying and passed it to Dhekeon.  Once Dhekeon got through the gap, he passed it to Hrglclxin, who blew on it, summoning 15 Viking skeletons to attack the statue.  The next person to attempt the door gap was Adam, but he got stuck.  This turned out to be a blessing in disguise for him.

The statue, unable to attack Boris anymore, switched target to Hrglclxin [who had stepped outside the protective sphere so he could continue to attack the statue], nearly killing Hrglclxin in one blow.  The combined attacks from those in the chamber finally brought down the giant statue, but its final flailing attack knocked out another pillar, causing most of the ceiling to partially collapse [meaning, there was not an opening to the sky, but a lot of stone and dirt came down on everything], immense stones smashing everything they landed on.  The displaced air popped Adam out of the door gap and back into the corridor beyond, where Verya caught him.

As the dust settled, the Revengers started digging each other out from under the rubble.  Hrglclxin was dead [crushed heart and lungs per the Mortality Table], as were Pelinore [crushed knee] and Proximo [a red stain and shards of bone].  Daphne healed Pelinore and cast Restore Life and Limb on Hrglclxin [his soul is marked and outsiders hate him], but Proximo was lost.  Boris and several others consumed healing potions or received cure light wounds spells from Godric and Daphne.  Once the healing magic ran out, most were still wounded from the fight or the collapse but mobile.

Not wanting their efforts to go for naught, the Revengers searched the chamber.  Only five of the sarcophagi were not crushed and destroyed by the collapsing ceiling.  One of the sarcophagi contained a very angry, but still drowsy vampire.  Godric slammed that lid shut before the vampire could respond and Boris used spikes to seal the sarcophagus.  The other four sarcophagi yielded a magical hand axe [+4 dwarven thrower], a Jasper [minor gemstone], a scroll of ward vs. lycanthropes [1st level spell], and a potion [eventually identified as a potion of delusion, so worthless].  The magical hand axe made the effort worthwhile to the Revengers and the battered and bruised adventurers decided to call it a day.  They returned to the surface and headed back to Helix.  Many drinks were raised in memory of Proximo.

End of Session

[It was late, so I didn’t roll for an encounter on the way back to town to save time.  It would not have gone well for any attackers anyways – Adam never got to cast any spells, so he was full up with fireballs and magic missiles and itching to use them.]

[I have determined when the rains will arrive, so I know what date the moors will become impassible.  It will be sooner rather than later.  I think it will be less than 4 sessions, but definitely before Hrglclxin finishes his mandatory 23 days of bedrest.  Once the season ends, we are going to switch campaigns for a bit so I get to play and someone else gets to run.  I think we are going to do Pathfinder, which will be a huge gear change after the more rules-light ACKS, but it might be the HERO System.  We talked a little bit about it but nothing definite that I recall.  I’ll post more info as I have it.]

[Please note, we will return to Barrowmaze using ACKS for Season 2.  We’re just switching GMs for a bit so I can recharge.  Plus the real-time gap will help simulate the in-game gap in time between seasons.]


The Motley Crew
Session 1: The Start

Session 11: TPK

The Revengers
Session 12: Rise of the Revengers

Session 22

Session 32
Session 32A

Session 34 [Not yet written]


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Session Report – Barrowmaze – Session 32A

[Don’t have a library card?  No problem – just pack out the entire library!]

[Also?  SPOILERS!  This series will spoil what’s in Barrowmaze, so take that into consideration before reading.]

PCs (The Revengers)
Hrglclxin [pronounced her-gull-klack sin] – male human Guide (5th level Explorer)
Godric – male Dwarven Craft-Vicar (5th level Craftpriest)
Adam – male human Enchanter (6th level Mage)

NPCs
Dergos – male human guide, still sold on the glory of adventuring, hired by Boris
‘Len – professional torchbearer, full name is Morgullen, but he never uses it, hired by Boris
Nolig – male human porter, hired by Hrglclxin
Proximo – male human Burglar, Godric’s henchman
Verya [pronounced Vir-uh] – female human Hero (4th level Fighter) , hired for 1/3 share of any treasure
Dhekeon – a revenant seeking redemption
Sir Pelinore – male human Paladin, bound to serve the Revengers for 1 year


Hernesday, August 27th, 1st year of the reign of King Vladik the Gamesman
Wanting to go back and collect the rest of the library they had discovered, Hrglclxin, Godric, and Adam hired 20 workers and 10 guards for a trip out to Barrowmaze.  With the Grand Party now in its 21st day, a number of the locals were up for something different and signed on through the Mercenary Guild.  The hired townsfolk were a bit dubious about Dhekeon, but had grown a bit blasé about who the Revengers were keeping company with.

On the way south, a warg caught scent of the group and came to see about a quick lunch.  The adventurers squared off with it and Godric got a small bite for his troubles before Hrglclxin and Adam killed the beast with a combination of bow fire and magic.

When the large group arrived at the field of barrows, they made their way over to The Pit [Barrow 47].  At the bottom they saw nine giant ants picking over the area for food.  They were mostly clustered around the harpy bodies, so Adam dropped a fireball on them, roasting them all.  The expedition then descended using several ropes [otherwise it would have taken all day just to get nearly 40 people to the bottom].

Using planks to bypass the pit trap, the adventurers led the expedition down the passageway west and around the corner to the library.  There the workers spent four hours packing up the scrolls, tomes, and books while the adventurers stood watch with the guards.  Two necromancers of Set showed up near the end of the packing process and attacked.  Godric went to attack first, but his bowstring snapped as he drew [he rolled a “1” on his attack roll].  The necromancers each cast magic missile at Hrglclxin and Godric, disrupting Godric’s spell casting.  This turned out to be a poor choice on their part as Adam cast magic missile in return and was high enough level to get two missiles from a single casting.  He directed one flaming missile at each necromancer and killed them both!

After that bit of excitement, the expedition hauled the library up out of the dungeon and headed back to Helix.  An empire of owlbears [four of them, group name supplied by Sage Advice] started following the expedition through the Barrowmoor, but Hrglclxin was able to lead the expedition away and evaded the owlbears.

Back in Helix, the contents of the library were sold for a tidy sum, especially only split 3 1/3 ways [remembering that Verya gets 1/3 a share of loot].

End of Session


[This was a short session to essentially run something we could have blue-booked via email if we weren’t all too busy to read our email with any regularity.  I didn’t run it as a formal session and few dice were rolled, so we talked it through for the most part.  Overall it took us barely 45 minutes to work this minor expedition out, afterwards we played Junk Orbit, a board game by Daniel Solis that I highly recommend.  Plus, it got Godric and Hrglclxin enough experience points to level as they were both very close.]

The Motley Crew
Session 1: The Start

Session 11: TPK

The Revengers
Session 12: Rise of the Revengers

Session 22

Session 32

Session 33 [Not yet written]