Reavers on the Seas of Fate, Season Five, Ninth Session

Ninth Session (12 page pdf) – “The Sea Queen’s Pearl, Part II” – While they are making their escape, the crew encounters their own Jurassic Park. Once they return, it’s all shopping and celebration and planning for their voyage south to reclaim a secret Chelaxian superweapon!

I like the sessions where they have their pirate crew around; I really try to set a certain tone with their pirates, best described as “murder frat” – equal parts casual brutality and juvenile fucking around. It’s that contrast that makes similar fiction compelling, from the Sons of Anarchy biker gangs to the Goodfellas mobsters. The PCs seem to have an unlimited appetite to getting drawn into whatever problems or shenanigans their crew is into.

Little Mike gets a new nickname, “Tasty Mike,” this session, for how the monsters all seem to want to take a bite out of him.  He takes this on enthusiastically because being “Little Mike” to Big Mike really irritates him.  (This is actually taken from my Memphis gaming group, where we had two Mikes and dubbed one Little Mike and one Big Mike and Little Mike just couldn’t ever get over it.)

After more shenanigans and equipping, it’s off to get the Chelish superweapon, the Terraken, to become terrors of the shipping lanes!

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Reavers on the Seas of Fate, Season Five, Eighth Session

tarins-crown-coverEighth Session (8 page pdf) – “The Sea Queen’s Pearl” – A trek overland to a pirate hideout, and then it’s pirate on pirate murder as they storm a rival captain’s redoubt!

Pretty much the entire session is a lightning raid on the pirate keep, which is from the Legendary Games adventure Islands of Plunder: Tarin’s Crown, only very slightly modified from its original form. It’s hard hitting action all the way through!

Weather Generation For Golarion

The topic of weather generation is popular among sim GMs.  The answers boil down to either random tables or using an almanac to find relevant weather from a place/time similar to the campaign’s.

Since I run a naval campaign, specific temperature, wind, etc. is an important part of the game to me and my PCs. I was using a random table method (using tables cobbled together from several sources because no one source has tables that are complete and don’t suck) – but I think I have a new plan along the almanac method line!

Enter VentuSky. Frickin beautiful isn’t it?  An animated map of temperature, wind, etc. for every hour of every day. Wind… Waves… All the info you’d ever want.  And on Golarion most areas are “Earth-like” – my PCs are sailing down the coast of Garund, which can be easily mapped one-to-one with the African coast. In fact, use this very cool interactive Golarion map to set up equivalencies!

The only problem it’s a short window forecast instead of all historical data, so you’re kinda stuck to same time-of-year as current IRL, but I thought I’d share it anyway! I emailed them to see what the chance was of getting historical data in there as well… I’ll update you!

Mummy’s Mask Chapter 2, Empty Graves – First Session

First Session (15 page pdf) “Auction of Souls” – We are happily selling off our tomb raiding loot when it goes all Walking Dead in the city of Wati.  We save some locals and then start trying to quell the problem.

The auction starts out as an exercise in whipping up the interest of buyers.  Everyone tries to talk the attendees into bidding on our lots. My favorite was the Andorens who were looking for weapons; we had a lot with weapons and a chariot together, but they weren’t interested in the chariot.  But Khaled, knowing Andorens are all about emancipating slaves, spun a tale about Harrieteb Ptubman and her Underground Chariotway in ancient Osirion that helped slaves escape from the pharaohs and they bought it (and the lot!).

amadjawet

Amadjawet the Hot Mummy

And then the zombies attack!  (After we get paid, luckily).  We beat back the first wave but then see a whole bunch of zombie hands coming down the street (from the display of severed thief hands in the public square).  When Usif and Denat go into the kitchen to find something to burn them with they’re beset by what we all agreed was a curiously hot mummy.

We defend the inn for a while until it’s clear it won’t hold up forever; we exfil the noncoms across the roof and withdraw.  We escort them to the Temple of Pharasma where it’s safe.  We get requisitioned to go out as an anti-undead strike force, so we do.

balthemm

Balthemm

We find various targets of opportunity.  We help a priestess named Balthemm by the necropolis wall; she had character art and a hypno-shield and everything so we hope she recurs.  Some of the events are combats, others are irate crowds, friendly fire from others fighting the undead, etc.

Then we find out that Ptemenib the Pharasmin priestess has been nabbed by the Silver Chain, both my thieves’ guild’s enemy but who are also involved in this necromancy business.  But at the same time some rezzed judge is popping out eyeballs of the townsfolk on a murder crusade.  So, we gotta go deal with that… Next time!

P.S. This is what the Internet gives you when you Google “hot mummies”…

Hot Mummies

Hot Mummies

Mummy’s Mask Chapter 1 Retrospective

Well, we’ve finished our first chapter of Paizo’s Mummy’s Mask Adventure Path using the Dungeon World rules!   It’s going very well.

The DW rules are super simple but are very interesting in that they are player driven (the players make all the rolls) and in that they allow for more than just success and failure, but partial success/success at a cost. This has resulted in meaningful decisionmaking in combat – ironically much more meaningful than in Pathfinder, which despite all the options is usually reduced to “who do I unload my full attack on… roll roll roll.” Hit points and damage don’t go up much at all with level so single rolls plus more normative hp = very fast action.

While Dungeon World purists might scoff at the notion of using a written adventure with DW (no really, some do) – we like it.  An adventure, and a defined game world like Golarion, keeps the factor of exploration in the game.  Without that, when you’re just “making it all up as you go” – IMO it degenerates quickly into wish fulfillment and to be honest, most peoples’ off the cuff ideas a) aren’t that good and b) get repetitive quick.  Mummy’s Mask is a good one – it’s “tombs are here, want to explore them?” and then a metaplot that unfolds as other folks take actions.  If I want to directly control what happens with the game world, I’ll be the GM, thanks.

And the GM is doing a great job of melding the concept of Fronts (player initiated action) with the adventure.  So the adventure as written was apparently with the Scorched Hand as primary opponents and the Forgotten Pharaoh stuff just color and “stuff the bad guys want.”  But given our backstories and interests, instead we became fast friends with the Hand – partially through Khaled wanting to seduce Velriana, but also because there’s actually no reason given as to why you should oppose them.  “They want to go explore a temple sacred to their faith!  And she’s kind of a bitch!” Uh, OK.  My response was “sure, we’ll help you!” It wasn’t until we learned the Forgotten Pharaoh stuff was in there did we even have a reason to be interested in the Erudite Eye.  And then it was only because Murdus has declared himself the new incarnation of the Fiend Pharaoh, and that he has a twin sister who also thinks that.  So Hetshepsut his sister became the antagonist instead.  It feelsd perfectly organic and tied to our characters, while having plenty of backing material to provide interesting NPCs, locations, encounters, etc.

The net effect is that we finished Book 1 in 5 sessions rather than the 6 or so it normally takes in Pathfinder – but also nearly half the action in each session was self-generated; not out of the adventure at all.  And the session summaries are longer, because there’s more interesting stuff happening and less math (which tends to get left out of the summaries).

The only problem is that the pace of leveling was too fast.  In Dungeon World you get to level 10 and then that’s it – it’s built around weird old AD&D 1e tropes, so you retire your character or do bizarre “you forgot your powers” dual-classing or whatnot. That’s not exactly congruent with a long story campaign modern style.  So once we got to about level 4-5 just in book 1, we discussed the problem and Paul our GM said “OK, just double the XP needed to level.”  That seems to have put us on a good trajectory, though we do have 5 more chapters to go so we’ll see.

The lack of rules texture hasn’t been a problem yet, mainly because we all have cool Moves, so the limited set of core Moves doesn’t bother us (and the fact that since it’s fiction-first, you don’t have to be worrying about whether there’s a Move for something, you just have good ideas and go with them, and it’s the GM’s job to tell you if you need to roll something or not). It does sometimes get hard to figure out more interesting “partial success” options for the 7-9 rolls especially because they happen a lot (on 2d6 that’s the average result) – seems like a good opportunity to sell us some tables or a card deck or something!  “My third partial on a Volley in a roll… Oh I don’t know let’s liven it up with a random option!”

So far, it’s two thumbs up for the combination!  I think the AP might be a little… trying… under the full-crunch ruleset. But with the DW rules, it’s moving at a great pace and it’s a lot easier to hit our desired mix of fight/talk/explore when you’re not constrained to invest 2+ hours every time there’s a fight.

So we’re happily rolling forward into Chapter 2.  I’ll keep you all updated!  Enjoy the summaries…

Mummy’s Mask Chapter 1, The Half-Dead City – Fifth Session

hetshepsut

Hetshepsut

Fifth Session (16 page pdf) “Race for the Erudite Eye” – Velriana lies abed poisoned and Khaled vows revenge as Murdus races to get to the Erudite Eye before his sister does so he can claim the dead pharoah’s blessing. But first we have to work our way through the Fiend Folio… Before the climactic showdown!

First I go trade in our proceeds from the grey-market selloff of our tomb goods for a brace of healing potions and similar.  And I go buy a rapier, explaining to the shopkeeper that “I need to kill a man.”

We make our way to the Erudite Eye, and are ambushed by Hetshepsut’s well-oiled henchmen along the way. When we finally get to the tomb Usif uses a guiding flame spell so that we can skip the side rooms and follow in their tracks.  We fight through some trash mobs (including caryatid columns) deeper into the complex.  I leave doors re-locked behind us to prevent their easy escape.

We find evidence that some necromancer got here before any of us and got the mask and staff, or similar items, with the spirit of Hakotep, the guy who killed the Fiend Pharoah.  That’s depressing as that’s what we’re looking for.  But then we come across Hetshepsut, her cold lizard (the bane of Usif’s life), Azaz, and Khelru. Luckily Usif used a ritual-friendly room we’d come across to summon a fire elemental!

We engage with them and I see my quarry Azaz.  But simple death, that’s too good for a traitor.  Read on and find out who lives and who dies (it’s about fifty-fifty) in the final confrontation.

 

Mummy’s Mask Chapter 1, The Half-Dead City – Fourth Session

velrianahypaxes

Velriana

Fourth Session (17 page pdf) “Raid on Gaunt Cadaver” – The group goes to kill a rogue necromancer and his Frankenstein monster. Then they conduct a super ghetto “Ocean’s 11” sting on the church of Pharasma.  Then their mass sexytime is interrupted by Murdus’ sister!

First we meet some freaks on the streets of the necropolis who are wearing funerary masks.  They tell us they are “funerary mask enthusiasts” and are called the Forgotten Pharoahs.  Murdus declares “they’re coming right at me!” and kills them with basically no provocation.  But we back his story.

Our raid on Gaunt Cadaver’s place goes well – we insert in over the roof and discover he has an irate undead and/or flesh golem trapped in the courtyard.  So we let it into the villa and it does a lot of our killing for us.  We have to face the dark folk necromancer but since they can only see in the dark I “hide in light” and give him a good backstabbing. Mistress Unwrapped Harmony is very thankful and gives us gold funerary cones and crappy food.

Then it’s a bit more Keystone Kops than Ocean’s 11 as we break into the temple.  Denat tries to start a street party as a distraction and fails twice, getting chased off the first time and fined by the local guards the second. I get into the temple’s storage room with the room assignment chits with that stupid doru div Imanish providing cover but he’s not doing well either, his illusions and suggestions aren’t going over big.

But finally the other party members, wearing Forgotten Pharoah getups, cause a commotion and lead the guards on a merry chase around the temple. This distracts the guards interrogating our illusionary guard stand-in and they run off.  To cover it up I smear some mumia (mummy drugs, don’t ask) on the unconscious real guard’s upper lip and skedaddle, having switched the tokens.  Ideally they’ll think he’s acting weird because he was stoned out of his gourd.

Khaled finally hooks up with Velriana the Taldan noblewoman.  Murdus makes do with her “daddy issues” bodyguard and Denat somehow manages to seduce an entire adventuring band.  Usif tries to go do something useful but he gets caught by Murdus’ evil sister Hetshepsut, who then comes and has her Cupid-dressed goons kick down our inn doors. We murder them and get set to move on to her when she summons some crazy dark whirlwind demon thing that slurps people up like milkshakes and seems mostly invincible. We only get our bacon saved by some clerical visions and summoning of ki-rin (the tornado demons’ natural enemy).

But meantime, the sorcerer Azaz turns out to be a traitor! He’s a member of the Scorched Hand, mostly notable for having a crush on Khelru that makes him easy to manipulate.  But he sends his greensting scorpion familiar to sting Velriana!  I kill it but she’s poisoned; I go for him but he charms Khelru and escapes with Hetshepsut. Now we need to beat them to the Erudite Eye – and murder them all of course.