Another session blog


It's been a week since my last session and I kinda felt like sharing the experience with you. Yup, it's just another "my sessions" blog, but who knows - maybe you'll find it worth a comment or two. Anyway, I'd be very grateful for any tips. Pointing out inconsistencies or bad ideas would be also extremely helpful. OK, here we go:

--WARNING: spoilers from "Messantia" and "AtTR" campaigns ahead!--

The party:
A 2nd level Cimmerian Barbarian (Slaine)
A 2nd level Gunderman Soldier (Otho)
A 2nd level Hyrkanian Nomad (Kai Shah)
A 1st level Aquilonian female Borderer (Sheena)

The plan was to run "Defending the West" campaign from "Across the Thunder River" and - in the meantime - plant some story hooks that would make it easier to connect the campaign with Messantia and Aquilonia (both supplements were too expensive to gather dust :) ). After a while I figured some basic "objectives":

1. The group should somehow get their hands on the Staff of Dekanawidah. The "Defending the West" campaign suggested throwing it at them with the old "dying guy gives you a quest and kicks the bucket" cliche. There was no way I could do that. :)
2. The players should meet Argentio of Messantia. He should help them somehow, befriend them... hell, do anything so they at least give a damn when he dies, triggering the Messantia campaign.
3. Westermarck is a part of Aquilonia, so I decided that an Aquilonian story-hook is already there.

Since the PCs were already on their way to Messantia, I decided to start there. The men were enjoying an afternoon at one of the Messantian bordellos, when a group of bullies attacked (I took it from the Shadizar scenario). Long story short, they were slaughtering the poor bastards, but they knew that reinforcements were on their way. Sheena made her first appearance, helping the group fight and escape to one of Argentio's hideouts. It soon became clear that Argentio was like a "Messantian take on a good guy" - he recruited people by helping them somehow and making them pay their debt with a little mission or two. He helped Sheena earlier and - when he was sure she was a good pick - made her one of his temporary agents. Argentio asked her to find a group suitable for a little trip to Westermarck - a group that sooner or later would find trouble. The PCs were a perfect match.

The group agreed to work for Argentio for a while, especially when he mentioned that he would pay them a little for their efforts. Their mission was to take a sealed wooden crate to Westermarck and deliver it to a Zamoran called Bohdan. Inside the crate was an urn of Stygian Tomb Dust that Bohdan bought from Argentio.

They encountered no problems during their trip to the Westermarck. In a little frontier village they found Bohdan. Everything was fine until they discovered what was inside the crate - the Zamoran blinded the PCs with the Dust and left into the Pictish Wilderness (he wanted to make sure the Dust was the real thing and he was in a hurry). His plan was to use the Dust on a giant ape that guarded the Staff of Dekanawidah - a powerful item that he would sell later.

The PCs were really pissed. They argued for a while about what to do next, but they decided to stay for another day, find Bohdan and beat the crap out of him. He returned at dawn, seriously wounded and carrying a curious staff (he blinded the ape and stole the staff, but the monkey opened a big can of whoop-ass anyway). He fell unconscious, the PCs took him to his house, took the staff...

The following night was full of strange whispers, terrible nightmares and a Corruption point here and there (failed Will saves when trying to understand the Staff's whispers). There was a lot of role-playing, a lot of discussions and so on. Bohdan woke up twice, but he was too terrified to say anything beyond "take it north..." and "the Picts cannot have the Staff". Then, something attacked the village just before the dawn. The giant ape followed Bohdan from the Wilderness to finish him and take the Staff back. The fight was long and deadly. Bohdan died in the attack, the ape was killed and most of the village was no more. The players were extremely lucky, as I forgot about the ape's Crush attack. One PC (the Gunderman Soldier, Otho) would end up as monkey-fodder, but a natural '1' on d20 saved his butt. The Cimmerian Barbarian (Slaine) lost a tooth and broke his jaw, the nomad (Kai Shah) was wounded, but everyone enjoyed the fight.

I asked my players to choose the way they want to go. I encouraged them to do what their characters feel like, not what the story suggests. It was almost the end of the session, so I would have enough time to prepare a scenario wherever they would go. They almost decided to return to Messantia, but Sheena convinced everyone to at least take the Staff north to Schondara. After all, they knew it was important piece of sorcerous junk and Schondara was the nearest town.

The group ended up in Schondara. They have already found the dispatches that mentioned Lady Coelia's mission to retrieve the Staff and the upcoming Pict raid (they should find it after the attack, but what the hell ;) ).

From now on, I'm going to run 'Defending the West' with little to no changes. :D