Planning: A 3 day weekend of getting my life and apartment in order. Yay!
Writing/Creating: Too much notebook, not enough keyboard.
Switching the night we gamed from Tuesday to Friday changed the way the game felt. It felt like a party, not like something in the middle of the week that I enjoy but also have to maneuver my adult life around.
The players had a few days to kill until the halfling caravan headed out to study Deadshire, guided by the player-characters. Janaki said something interesting about wanting to explore Big Shire more, get to know the town. They talked to Hugh Briskett, their trusty NPC guide about where tall-folk foreigners could go to sample local culture. Jokes were made about having an authentic halfling experience. He suggested a wizard’s tavern in the River Farthing called the Chalk and Wand. The C&W has cool slate walls for drawing arcane theorems in chalk, hookahs in the middle of every table for smoking fine halfling weed and lots of wizards on sabbatical, who have come to Big Shire to chill out.
The players (two drow and a quaggoth) cloaked up and took a table. They overheard a wizard proving to his comrades that the underdark was in fact Hell itself. A skill roll later, Fal’ethon (Drow/Rogue/Scholar) had proven that the Underdark was in fact only an underground set of caverns. The wizards were excited to meet new folks, sat at their table, re-stocked the table with some Fine Halfling Weed and it was a DC 10 Con check to see if the PC’s could handle their shit.
They couldn’t. I made an impromptu Halfling Weed Failure table. 1-2 Honest, 3-4 Paranoid, 5-6 Stupid Deep. Each player rolled a different effect and it made for a fun night.
Backgrounds are fun. They give the D&D group a different way to connect to the world. It can connect just like their class: Rogue/Criminal, Wizard/Scholar, Cleric/Acolyte or it can play against type in really interesting ways. I’m sold on them. I dig ‘em.
The night ended with the players stumbling home in the pre-dawn light, running across the dwarven adventurer in a shirriff’s crow’s cage, the one who had figured out that the thousand years were up and venturing into the underdark was fair game. Both Zuul, the Quaggoth Ranger/ and Saav, the Drow Monk/Acolyte both felt they should free the dwarf, that he was a kindred soul who only wanted to explore (and perhaps loot) a new world. The Quaggoth failed a Strength roll to bend the bars, making lots of noise, so by the time a Fallathon picked the lock a halfling sling-stone was raining down on them, causing damage to Zuul.
They told their guide Hugh to head home and ran like hell to Bil’s place with the sound of shirriff riding dogs barking in the distance. Bil hid them until it was time to leave Big Shire.
Yes, they inspired a group of guild wizards to go looking into the underground world for themselves.
Fal’ethon, in an argument with the halfling caravan on its way to Deadshire, showed her drowness. They all freaked out and the total lack of a chain of command showed itself. At the end of the day, only Regina, the leader if the cart drivers sent by Bil, stayed with her posse. They were clearly hardened criminals sent by Bil to oversee his interests. They expressed interest in both Deadshire and heading into the underdark to look over business opportunities.
The game ended with a ghost entering camp on Fal’ethon’s watch. It was a lightly armored human lady with a spike through her torso. After talking to her a bit they found that she was an Ululan mail-carrier who was ambushed by a manticore while she was flying on her giant owl (Janaki and Laura got pretty excited about procuring their own giant owls). They buried her with her armor, sword and ring on her body, marking the grave that was high on a hill. They agreed to deliver her mail in Corvuston, holy city of the Raven Queen.
I love how this group is really interested in exploring and experiencing the surface world. What’s more, the players are enjoying what they are finding, which is fun.
Random Encounter Tables continue to be good fun. Because these characters often travel by night, it makes the encounters quite different. When they met up with a mercenary company, they were on a hilltop, camped for the night. The players got to decide whether or not to engage. With the ghost, they were on a daytime schedule, so the ghost came to them during Fal’ethon’s watch (rolled randomly) and when they agreed to help her out, she felt no need to possess anyone.
So, a little behind-the-screen thinking: I rolled a 10 on the Random Encounter Chart for the Area Around Big Shire, that asked me to roll again on the Random Encounter Chart for the Area Around Corvuston. I rolled a ghost but had no idea the ghost of who or what. I saw that Corvuston also had Ululan Riders, and figured that would make for a solid ghost with nice setting details and motivations. It took me a while to come up with that. I let it stew, asking the players questions about how they set up their watches at night and rolled randomly to see who was on watch when the ghost stumbled in.
Mental note to self: There is a manticore in this area.
I’ll need to make some rules on followers. It seems like a bunch of PC’s have NPC’s who are following them. We have the goblin (tentatively named, Floyd the Biter), the scholar (Yon) and now the dwarf adventurer (Falko) and each aligns pretty well with a PC. When the player is gone, is their follower available to the group? I’m thinking they’d have to ask the player for permission. How do they level? I’m thinkig they gain a level appropriate to their actions, 3 for every 1 the PC gains. You can have 1 follower +1 for every point of Charisma bonus the PC has unless you get the Followers Feat, which will allow for more.
I feel like I missed an opportunity when they left Big Shire. I should have made space for the players to say good-bye to their guide, Hugh and his trusty riding mastiff, Abernathy.
Lots of little details come up about their homes underground. I need to have index cards so the players can write this stuff down.
I need to write up a map of the Underdark, using my Underground Cities and this post to figure out the political situation underground and write up a map of each layer, where the cities are located and maybe think to myself how they relate to the above-ground.
I left the holdfast when I was a young man, grog still stuck in my beard and my grandmother’s axe on my back. I reckoned I’d come back and take over the family business once I’d had a taste of the world.
Thing is, I like how the outside world tastes. I like the evening company of leggy women and sinewy men. I enjoy mulled wine and tea. My people have it right on goat stew and mushrooms, no one else comes close to my dad’s recipe on that and I can feed a city block with a stout goat if I cook it his way.
Hell and Blood, I trim my beard and study fencing. My brothers would give me such shite over it. I can’t even tell ya.
I’m having a stupid amount of fun writing this up, always trying to write up choices that are all interesting. My goal is to have the votes be as close as possible, even better if folks are invested and interested in the outcome. It isn’t gaming but it feels like some kind of odd isolation exercise that prepares one for a specific part of gaming, like doing deadlifts to prepare for playing football.
(NOTE: This first chapter was published under a private circle, the rest have been public.)
In which the Drow empress and her displacer beasts hunt the lycanthrope-infected last human…
In which the High Warden of the Matronsguard attempts to avenge her Empress…
In which a newly ascended goddess of were-displacer beasts marries her archangel…
Reading: I put down The Shadow Rising and picked up The Dark Defiles. Morgan’s book just came out and I’m enjoying it. Wheel of Time was driving me crazy with its meaningless trolloc fights, like something out of a poorly D&D game, combats for the sake of action with nothing at stake and nothing interesting about the characters uncovered. My Wheel of Time finish sprint might have lost its steam.
Planning: Two days off this weekend! I’m planning a secret-fun Saturday with the lady-friend and on Monday the buddies be playtesting Space Cops in the Spinward, a Green Lantern-inspired Dogs in the Vineyard hack.
Writing: Choose your own Adventure with G+ polls! Here’s the most recent chapter in which the High Warden of the Matronsguard has a big decision to make in the barren crater gardens of the Moon God.
The party hired a guide, Hugh Bryskett, and his Shire Mastiff riding dog, Abernathy (thanks for the dog’s name, Janaki!) to guide them around the farthings. Shire has strict no-weapons and no inciting adventure laws, so if you hire a guide for 10 gold a day, you can keep your weapons on you because he’ll just explain to the shirriffs that you were just holding old Hugh’s weapons for him, you see.
Big Shire is made up of a dozen farthings, each ruled by its own mayor. It is the Los Angeles of Shires, spread out over the hills as far as the eye can see.
I got to roll on my Big Shire encounter tables. Since the party travels at night, they usually run across folks who have made camp. This time they walked around a few dozen mercenaries, deciding not to engage. Smart move, I thought.
They went to Hugh’s cousin, Bil Niner, an honest merchant halfling as played by Bob Hoskins:
They sold the whereabouts of the Deadshire, after some deliberation for a thousand gold with an extra 200 for accompanying them into the Silent Peninsula and showing them exactly where it is.
Gorgolog continued to work it as a gladiator in a Big Shire bare-knuckle fight:
Tonight Gorgolog, my orc fighter and gladiator, beat up an elf in a pit fight and won the championship belt.
Roleplaying is done. I won it all.
Also, Gorgolog cornered a goblin who was fighting a halfling. The orc’s advice had the goblin bitting and clawing at his opponent. Yes, the goblin will be traveling with them from now on.
Crow cages are set by every road in to Big Shire and are in front of every Shirriff’s office. I had a table for figuring out who was in each cage. Most of the time it was just some halfling thief but last night there was also a dwarven adventurer. When they talked to him, he told them that he had figured out that the surface world’s calendars were years off and there was nothing stopping an enterprising individual from going into the underground world and looting it silly. We are going to start our next game in front of his crow’s cage, several characters thinking about freeing him and having him join up.
I was kind of worried about the game. The two hour time slot is fast, though I’m keeping it fast-paced and there hasn’t been any delving as of yet. I’m making peace with the fact that I have stuff on the map and the players are exploring it at the pace they want to explore it and having fun in the process.
P.S. Dev’s character has named the sun. It is now known as the Hate Star.
Planning: No Swordlords this weekend. :( D&D tonight, getting my Tiefling on.
Writing: Random Encounter Tables for the D&D group’s trip to Big Shire and to-do lists for work.