Friday, January 30, 2009

Haranshire Burns : Round Two

Okay.

Let me try to make sense of last night's rant for you as best as I can. Stick with me, this is just going to go in an order most convenient for me.

Session 1 and 2 have been adequately posted and I've admitted the first one was not as strong as it could have been. But the second more than made up for it with two good fights and some definite plot advancements.

The session ended with the party killing the farmer-bandits, routing the archers, and capturing Carlanis (the leader of the group). While the original adventure is really lame in WHY Carlanis is doing this, I put him in a more active role within Rachefort's (a better name than Rachefus) camp, having sold his farm two years ago to join the "cult." He carried a potion of domination with him, but the PCs have no idea what it is at the moment.

At the beginning of session three, the players spent about 20 minutes arguing about what to do with Carlanis. A good moral debate if their ever was one. In fact, the 2nd edition writers probably didn't take this into account because of the "adventurers are embraced with open arms" mentality of the 90s.

Drek. No wonder people left the game in droves.

After much debate, Aaron's character pulls out some pliers that they found in the capture wagon and rips out a toe-nail. The other two characters are stunned and think torture is wrong. Aaron is trying to avoid the real bad stuff by making it clear to Carlanis that they want answers. Long story short, they hatch a half-baked plan to lure Carlanis into thinking they are asleep so they can follow up back to his "lair," leaving him loosely tied up.

Carlanis, of course, devoted to his cause, attacks the wizard again, in an attempt to choke him out.

The party has no choice but to kill Carlanis.

It's about 8 at night and that party continues down the road. They've seen the mire to the south of the road growing out of control, and consuming the farmland, so they opt to find a dry farm to spend the night in (still 15 miles from Milbourne). They are let into a farmhouse owned by Ivan and Ignacia. They are offered some home-made vodka and asked about their travels. The wife is nervous about an elf in her home, but the husband is excited.

Until the elf shows off his magic to these backwater farmers.

The wife flees to her room and the husband leaves to console her. Yelling can be heard through the walls and after 15 mintues the PCs decide it's time to leave. They travel down the road a little ways and eventually camp in some rows of cabbage. Come morning, they made their way to Milbourne and stopped at the Baron of Mutton (tavern), where the owner was dealing with the missing Elena (was Jelenneth) and the concerns of Haldelar, Parella, and Andren. The scene was tense, as other patrons in the tavern could hear shouting upstairs for most of the morning and a rival adventuring party was scoping out the PCs. What should have set the stage for a very tense and spirited exchange, became an attempt by the players to convince themselves that "this town sucks."

The next 90 minutes of play was pretty good, though, as the PCs encountered locals of various levels of helpfulness and/or drunkenness. An out of work bargemaster even sold information to Aaron for 1sp. The PCs met Janik (was Layfayer) and Konrad (was Semheis) at different points and Aaron continually tried to meet with Haldalar, who was inconsolable. Andren did ask that he help as best as he could and showed a picture to the Druid.

Realizing they couldn't make much time to Thurmaster this late in the day, Dave and Micha rented cots on the floor of the Silver Crown (a run down tavern for local drunks) and sat down for some drinking. After buying rounds for the whole room, the locals were letting slip with as much information as they could about the surrounding area. I gave them Handout 3 and told them they couldn't let Aaron read it, but they could tell him whatever they could remember from it.

Aaron had an exchange with Grizzler outside, near the river, demonstrating just how little Grizzler thinks of everyone. It was, however, most informative. After that, Aaron finally spotted Haldelar closing up the mill for the day and stopped him before he went home. The two had a less than happy exchange and just before Haldelar could turn and leave dramatically, the campaign ended…

… well

Two idiots — let's call them David and Micha — decided to open the box given to them by a high-level wizard to DELIVER to Tauster. Not open. Deliver. And of course, since they opened the box (a prop I had brought with me), well… boom.

I was not nice about it.

Had they not physically rummaged through the PROP, I may have given them fair warning, but I decided to drop the 6d6 fire trap/glyph that was protecting the box right on top of them.

And that was pretty much when the campaign spun out of control and died in the ditch that is now three PCs flaundering in the middle of nowhere trying to explain away their actions to Kuiper and now… that their in Thurmaster… to Tauster.

Oh yeah. The killed some people with that explosion, too. It wasn't just them that go cooked. It was a tavern full of commoners, all dead… and how long will it take for the locals to blame the outsiders who actually "survived" the blast?

Haranshire Burns : Round One

In a move that I can only call the most obnoxious attempt to absolutely decimate the quality of a campaign, two of the three PCs in the group took it upon themselves to open the magically warded box that they were carrying to Tauster.

Fifteen tavern patrons lie dead and their equipment is decimated. The wizard has no spellbook and the entire town suspects their implication in the act. Having introduce a party of four adventurers looking for work, it won't take long to have the PCs facing down the other party in a future stalemate.

What boggles my mind the most about playing with 2/3rd of this group… is this:

Why spend HOURS learning all the rules and making your characters, just to avoid using things like detect magic at key moments in the adventure? Or avoiding key decisions. I just don't get it.

While this seriously sets them back and possibly stops them from doing half the cool stuff that is present in the book, this is hurts them more than it hurts me.

In short, explosive runes did 27 points of damage to two 2nd level characters and a room full of commoners.

Sigh.

I've now bent the bleeding to death rules TWICE for the party members in order to keep them alive in situations that should have killed them.

Not sure how to move forward running for this group.