Thursday, November 24, 2011

Lost Baronies - session 8

I didn't have time this week to prepare munchies for the group, but our newest player brought some very tasty homemade oatmeal bars made with raisins and pear butter. yummy.

The game was light, and mostly consisted of travel, but started off in the Dweomer forest at the Church of the Big Gamble.

A younger priestess lead the group through the woods along game trails. As they neared the center of the woods the forest went rough a progression of changes, first to autumn, into winter, spring, on through summer nearing harvest time. An enourmous clearing loomed before them, nearly a mile across and in the center, atop a small hill stood a structure shaped like an egg on its side lenghtwise halved.

At the entrance they left their boots and entered the circluar domed main chamber. Within was a circular dais upon which stood a podium topped by a large book. Surrounding the dais were five tables with stone stools.
Myla explained that the High Priest would soon come welcome them and lead them through a ceremony of fortune.

The High priest and priestess entered and 5 acolytes spread out, one per table, inviting the companions to join them with at least one per table.

The ritual the High priest would lead everyone through was a gambling game wagering gold pieces on rolls of the dice. Each participant would ante a gold coin and then each in turn could bet up to an additional 5 gold. Those that choose not to match the increased wager would drop out of that round. Percentile dice are rolled with the highest roll winning the jackpot. All the while the high priest would exort his diety to grant good luck.

The first round resulted in the acolytes winning on every table. The party began to think this god was a scam artist until the second round saw some winning by Thorgrim, Ellana, and Seamus. Thorgrim was blessed with a roll of 100 and given a gift by the high priestess of a platinum piece to celebrate his great fortune, and the three winners were then invited to a table together with the acolyte that had won the most gold.

The high priest then circled the table blessing each player in turn and the new round began. It quickly reached a high jackpot and the acolyte won the rolls, but instead of taking the winnings he offered a chance for anyone interested to match the pot and play again for all of it. Each of them, plus the acolyte, put in another 32 gold pieces into the pot. The total was now 160 gold, a small fortune equal to nearly 40% of the party treasury and easily above what individual party members had on their persons. Then the rolling began.
When the dice settled Elanna had come away with the grand jackpot. In celebration of a good ritual the priests invited the party to join them for meal.

A good lunch later and another quick round of gambling in which Elanna again won and then Myla returned, this time armored and armed. She was there to escort them to the edge of the forest on their journey and to offer blessing that they may have good luck on their way.

Before parting ways Myla tells the party that there are a series of small towns between the forest and the city of Kroten where they are heading. The closest village is less than a day away. This comes as good news to the group.

The party reached a small farming village just before nightfall and were able to find cheap lodgings. The night was uneventful and they were pleasantly surprised to find their donkeys and cart ready for them in the morning along with all the supplies they had been looking to buy.

The second leg of the journey was not as quiet. Along the road to the next village the discovered a wagon that had been overturned down into stream and when they began investigating were attacked by halfling zombies.

The fight was brief and lopsided with only a minor injury to one party member. Searching turned up a small amount of copper and a tiny key, but no lock present that it fit. Nothing obvious had been stolen from the halfling farmers that were slain and turned into zombies. All of the bags of grain and a barrell of iron nails were in the stream. Now they were convinced that the people responsible for the barn incident were a short distance ahead of them going north.

They decided to pull the wagon and the spilled good back up to the roadside. After an hour of tiring labor this was done. The only thing among the goods that they decided was worth taking was the barrel of nails.

They rolled into the next village shortly after nightfall. Again they found cheap lodgings and spent some time talking to locals in the tavern.

Several farmers were present and some asked Pedro if he would come out the next morning to bless their farms with good weather for the upcoming harvest. Others asked questions about Restenford once it was determined that this is where the party had traveled from. "Is it true that there is a haunted guard tower in Restenford?" Valen and Thorgrim confirmed that this was a rumor and may be true.

Outside as other party members were unhitching the donkeys and preparing the wagon for the night they noticed two men preparing to ride out in the darkness. A brief discussion with them led the party to believe this may have been the Duke of Kroten and a guard. They mentioned the wagon, but said nothing about the zombies. The more lordly looking of the two men said that he would ride south in another day to check on it, but for tonight he must head north.

In the morning Pedro kept his promis of blessing the fields and Rowenna and Elanna took advantage of the free day to go into the nearby woods and cast the find familiar ritual. When all was finished they had new familiars bringing the party familar total to three.

 < Sparkle

Campari >

v  Darwin  v

(Note: Sparkle is the kind of name for a familar that results when a player drops out and everyone else has to run the character.)  :)

While out blessing the farms Pedro noticed an old ruin beyond the farthest field. All the locals could tell him is that everyone stays clear of it as it seems to be cursed. The closest farms also keep their livestock in barns at night to avoid finding them dead, drained of blood, or just plain missing the next morning.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lost Baronies - thoughts on where things stand.

Now that the party has been attacked by zombies of bandits they had fought before along with their former slain companion, they are of the mind that they have made an enemy with some resources and a determination to get revenge. That is part of what motivated them to get back on track with their original goal of exploring the island, surveying the existing baronies and leadership, and determining if there is room for others. They are also now a bit paranoid about what they may encounter along the way and who is behind this worrisome attack.

As a DM I like where this puts the players and their characters, and they like where it has put me. I now have to get back to reading up on the region they are traveling through and preparing for potential encounters. The party is again spending good sums of money and looking for ways to gain more treasure, a win for moving the campaign along.

Despite being a sandbox campaign, it is a living sandbox with the actions of the characters having effects on the soundings and the surroundings not being just static and passive, but instead active and reactive. There are plots and plans by npcs that the players can easily become a part of or influence and from the first session they have indeed done exactly that without knowing the bandits had allies.

It will be interesting to see how the game progesses now that the characters are on the move again.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lost Baronies of Lendore Isle - session 7

After a very long hiatus we finally got the campaign going again yesterday. This session also saw the introduction of a new player taking over running a couple of the currently unassigned characters. To celebrate I broke out the triple crock pot and put together a couple of quick recipes so we would have some hot food for the afternoon. In two of the 1 quart crocks were meatballs in a sauce of Masterpiece original bbq sauce and Smuckers Concord grape jelly. In the other was a mix of white hominy, diced potatoes, chopped red onion, and diced oven roasted chicken breast. As an aside we had restaurant style tortilla chips with salsa and cheese. And now on with the mayhem.
The party had bedded down in the barn and stable of Abraham's Inn along with 4 men at arms, two draft horses, and their 2 donkeys. Despite being stuck with the stable for a sleeping place, they were looking forward to getting a good night of rest.

Sometime after the mid-point of the night things went very wrong. It began with the bursting of 9 two foot tall clay canopic jars as the reduction spell wore off and the undead within them returned to full size. The zombie jars had been placed ahead of time in various places within the stable and now the deadly contents moved to attack their sleeping prey.
The sound of the breaking jars and movement allowed the dwarves Fred and Thorgrim, as well as Seamus, and Rowenna to wake up. The stable was pitch dark, but the dwarves were able to make out several somethings moving about and those awake could also hear some thumping sounds from the stall the men at arms had chosen to sleep in.

Seamus hopped over the half height wall of the stall and into the stall where Pedro the cleric was snoring away. Rowenna was trying to figure out what the disturbance was and stood at the gate of the stall the women were resting in, straining her eyes to try and see something in the dark. Fred and Thorgrim meanwhile had an attacker to deal with and could now determine that it appeared to be an orc as it punched Thorgrim for a little bit of damage.

The horses and donkeys had now become fully panicked and their noise along with the scream of a man at arms were enough to awaken everyone.

Tok found himself hoisted off his feet by an unseen attacker that had hold of his tunic, his only certain clue that this was not someone friendly was the thick smell of death overwhelming even the heavy odors of the stable.

Those that had awakened to the sound of the jars breaking had time to grab for weapons to defend themselves and Fred and Thorgrim managed to strike at their attacker doing some harm, but not taking it off its feet. Rowenna decided to risk a spell and summoned light, the flickering of the manna building in her open palm gave her just enough clarity to identify what had to be Tok being lifted from the ground and she sent the light spell flying with him as a target, illuminating his tunic.

The now glowing tunic allowed Tok to clearly see. He had last seen his attacker when he rolled his body down a hill after looting his possessions, but here Samson stood, a rotting corpse and biting Tok for gruesome damage.

The horses and donkeys had bolted from their stalls, running about adding to the chaos as what were identifiable as zombies pressed the attack. The one attacking Thorgrim landed a vicious blow dropping the dwarf unconscious to the floor. Rowenna was struck a glancing blow by another that now menaced her from outside the stall gate.

As the battle continued Pedro attempted to turn undead, but his own uncertainty betrayed his effort and he failed. Tok managed to wriggle free of his tunic and scamper away from his old companion now turned undead horror.  Valen and Aiden defended themselves from a zombie that had entered the stall with them.

The battle raged all around in the barn with people, animals and the undead moving around defending and attacking. A magic missile spell, kicks from horses, strikes to and from zombies, and flowing blood were the order of the moment. Nearby a horse tumbled screaming to its death as a zombie struck it down.

Aiden suffered a greivous injury and fell lifeless to the floor. Finally on his third attempt to turn undead, as a group that had murdered the men at arms gathered around him, Pedro managed to call forth his god's power and channel it with faith to turn 3 of them. With the destruction of a number of zombies and now the succdessful turn attempt, the party managed to gain the upper hand despite having people down.

It was now just a matter of finishing off the remaining few zombies. Once that was accomplished, the beaten and bloodied companions were startled as the barn doors were thrown open and a group of armed and armored persons with bullseye lanterns looked in to see what the heck was going on in the stable.

They explained what had happened and searched the barn for evidence of any hidden assailants then burned the bodies of the orc zombies along with zombie Samson in the street outside the inn. The bodies of the men at arms were left to the care of their employer. The party decided to take Aiden back to Restenford at Valen's insistance for burial.

Getting back into the writing mode after the hiatus is taking a bit of effort so I'll summarize a bit more of the session.

The party rested and then departed for Restenford. No encounters on the trip. They lodged at the houses of Torgrim and Valen. They buried Aiden in the Abbey of Phaulkon graveyard. They also managed to swap some spells with a local wizard. After another 3 days of reast and healing they bought supplies and set out to the north to explore, getting back to their original intended goal.

As evening approached the party was on the road inside the Dweomer forest and was looking for a place to camp. They had noticed that it seemed as if numbers of small animals were watching them, even approaching closely in very uncharacteristic ways. While somewhat unnerving, they decided it seemed safe enough to camp. As they sat eating rations warmed over a fire and Valen prepared for the ritual of Find Familiar, Tok thought a nearby rabbit asked him for a carrot.

Later during Thorgrim's watch he was soaking a hard biscuit in hot water and heard a voice ask "are you going to eat that?" and he kicked Fred (waking him) and said "if you really want something to eat, get up and I will give you a biscuit. Stop asking stupid questions". Fred of course was clueless about having said anything about food and rolled over to go back to sleep.

In the morning as they prepared to break camp, it was noticed that Valen had a new blue jay companion perched on his backpack. It was noticably larger than a typical bird of that type. The they heard a female voice offer greetings. At first they thought the bird had spoken and then quickly realised they had a visitor.

Myla introduced herself as a prestess at a temple located in the center of the forest and invited the group to come and take a chance at great fortune. She was dressed in buckskins and appeared to be unarmed. The party found this entire situation to be very surreal, but after a 5 to 4 vote in favor of accepting the invitation and assurances that their wagon would be safe left where it was off they went.

The next session is scheduled for November 19th. Hopefully all goes well and we can get going with a steady stream of sessions.