Tag Archives: actual play

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

Waterspout

Eleventh Session (10 page pdf) – “The Key To War Machine, Part I” – The pirates brave the Sodden Lands to find the control key to the superweapon. A shore party descends into a boggy crypt…

First, the ship has to deal with the issue of Serpent’s wife Samaritha being lost overboard in the Eye of Abendego. With clever use of spells and some sharp sailing they find her and are effecting a rescue, when my next random Eye of Abendego weather conditions roll comes up double zero.

The entire crew is lining the port rail, intent on watching the rescue. From the other railing, Wekk the Cloven screams, “Great Gozreh’s cock!” As everyone whirls, they see him pointing at a waterspout forming to the north. (A waterspout is a tornado over water, for you landlubbers.)

The next bit is the PCs desperately trying to keep their ship together as the waterspout hits – my ship rules turn this into a pretty epic and interesting “combat.” Serpent keeps leaping overboard to save people, which in hurricane-racked seas would be suicide if he wasn’t all optimized with a Swim speed and everything.

Finally they get to the Sodden Lands and go ashore. They’re searching a ruined Chelaxian plantation for the control doohickey for the war machine Mase Venjum promised them. This bit is taken from Tomb of the Necrophage from Tombs of Golarion. In the first part they mainly just fight angry juju zombies; apparently someone’s gotten here before them.

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

The Kraken’s Spite

Tenth Session (11 page pdf) – “The Eye of the Storm” – The pirates take on a skald and set off through the Eye of Abendego, which tests their mettle as sailors harshly – and Samaritha is lost overboard when a waterspout hits!

So first they come across a weird sight – an Ulfen longship!  This far south? They decide to parley instead of fight (probably a good idea, as the ship is the Kraken’s Spite from Ships of the Inner Sea, and the crew is pretty stout). They just want to get rid of a skald that needs to go further south.  Why?  Well apparently Ulfen Linnorm King White Estrid sacked Nisroch and sent skalds in all four compass directions to spread the word of her feat!  And those of you who’ve been with us a while remember that the PCs were there when her fleet attacked…

Maar Eiderson

I hadn’t yet determined what happened in the Estrid vs Nisroch battle, and decided to leave it up to the dice, and dependent on the fight between White Estrid’s ice linnorm thrall Boiltongue and the ancient umbral dragon the Nidalese had put in place after her first raid for such an eventuality.  So between sessions I rolled out a fight between the two and – OK I’m such a nerd – composed a skald poem to relate it to the PCs.  The fight took a long time. Here it is, The Battle of the Two Dragons in its entirety, related by the skald Maar Eiderson.

As the fleets of the Northmen reaved into Nisroch harbor
Estrid’s Pet wreaked destruction on the darkling city
When an ebon tower rove asunder and a great shadow wyrm arose
The two huge beasts circled each other and darkened the ground
Boiltongue spoke first and his maw sprayed ice across the blackness
The other replied in a cacophony of shadow that drained the icy one’s might
But then the ice hardened and it fell like a mountain to earth
The crash was felt throughout the bay
As darkling buildings were crushed to gravel
But Boiltongue raged aloft, blinded by the shades
As the dark one tried to free itself from the frost
The linnorm’s vision cleared, and he followed the shade to ground
And snapped at its flitting flanks, as it shook free of the encircling ice
The dark dragon’s eyes blazed as it uttered a dark word of destruction
That caused the bravest men’s hearts to quake
But Boiltongue the linnorm is beyond such magics
And continued to press his attack unslaked
The shadow wyrm pulled together the shadows to encircle him
But Boiltongue struck unerringly through the darkness
The shade spoke again and shadows spilled out, covering the wyrm of ice
Whose claws and fangs lashed out but could not find purchase
The shade took to the air with frightening speed
Its wings blew building walls down, like a storm from the north
As men and darklings fought and died around
But Boiltongue followed it into the twilight sky
The shadow wyrm called upon its dark magic and became faster still
Like a shadow flits across a wall, it darted by Boiltongue and each
time opened a rent
In the great linnorm’s side. But the linnorm’s wounds knit
Almost as speedily as they opened; and he bode his time
And iced its wings again as it approached
The shade fell into the bay, and the wave it made as it smote the water
Raised up boats a dozen feet; the ice wyrm followed right after
But the shade broke free of the ice and turned his full fury onto Boiltongue
Ripping into the linnorm with fangs and claws and pinions again and again
Till Boiltongue’s blood stained the dark waters oil-black
The linnorm coiled around the dragon and dragged it down into the icy waters
It burst free and shot out of the waters into the darkened sky
And circled enraged looking for its opponent
But Boiltongue lurked below, the icy waters knitting his wounds
The shadow wyrm descended on a longship, and shadows vomited from its maw
Draining the life from a dozen Ulfen warriors
Boiltongue surfaced by Estrid’s flagship and the king saw he was weakened
By the shadow wyrm’s foul darkness
She ordered her war-priest to restore his strength and enchant his fangs
That they might find purchase on his ghostly foe
And the Lord in Iron’s blessing was given unto the linnorm
The umbral dragon’s fiery eyes espied this and he spoke his word of
destruction against the priest
Whose ears bled, and quaked in agony
Boiltongue surged from the waters to answer this offense
And the dark one eagerly met him
Determined to rip him asunder once and for all
Boiltongue’s fangs sank into the shade in turn
And their serpentine bodies coiled about each other in a death-knot
The shadowy one broke free of Boiltongue’s embrace and shot away
Boiltongue coiled up into the sky proudly awaiting its charge
It paused, muttering draconic magic, and then advanced
But turned aside, hurtling down towards Estrid’s ship
The linnorm ignored this, and charged and struck at air
Whence the real dragon commanded its shadowy double
Taken aback, it again breathed out its shadows on the linnorm
But prepared for its tricks, Boiltongue was barely affected
And his mighty jaws crunched down on the shade’s neck
It roared as the linnorm’s feared venom, the black blood of the earth
Flowed into its veins. In a frenzy it tore into Boiltongue
As Boiltongue replied fang for fang
But the shadow dragon’s pinion struck to the heart of the great linnorm
And this time it was Boiltongue that fell from the heavens
Into the icy heart of the bay; the dragon roared in triumph and followed
Him down to finish off his victim; but in the chaos of the spray
He missed the linnorm’s throat with his claws
And Boiltongue, his wounds healing, lashed from the waves
And raked his foe with poisoned fang; the umbral one raged
And slashed and battered his wounded foe into icy hunks of flesh
Then tried to rise, but the venom in its blood found
Its dark heart, and it fell again into the waters
And sank into the depths alongside the linnorm.
Men on both sides shrank from the fray
To see such destruction wrought by the massive titans
Upon each others’ colossal frames
Ice and shadow unleashing their might
To finally take each other in their death-spasms
But the linnorm is no mere beast
He is a part of the arctic primeval
Even as the battle between Ulfen and darklings swelled
His corpse began to come together
And knit itself back into its ancient shape
Ice gripped the hearts of the Nidalese scum
As Boiltongue rose again from the waves
The umbral scourge defeated
He devoured its dark heart And his roar was like the north wind
And the howl of the wendigo in winter
The defenders quailed and fled from the fight
And thus did the men of Halgrim, led by White Estrid the Linnorm King
Sack Nisroch again.

White Estrid and Boiltongue

Both of them had DR and SR and high saves so the fight went many rounds. The umbral dragon had the linnorm generally outclassed, but its regeneration (and a little help from the Ulfen) kept it in the fight long enough to finally get its poison to proc, and once that happens it’s a short trip.

Well roused by the recitation, the Teeth of Araska sails into the permanent hurricane the Eye of Abendego… The storms batter the ship, and they manage to keep control but Samaritha is washed overboard!  Fly doesn’t do the trick when the ship’s flying before a gale wind…

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!

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!

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.