Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Post-Game Report: What Lurks Below

Last Sunday, we continued our Warriors & Warlock campaign, using a somewhat re-imagined version of Paizo's Shadow in the Sky in the Second Darkness adventure path.  The characters were, as before: Zarac the fighter, Renin the psionicist, and Gannon, the thief-monk.

When last we left our intrepid heroes, they had just finished a pitch battle with a group of thieves and thugs hired to ambush them, by their (previously) trusted employer, Saltus, at the Grinning Goblin Gambling House. When their employer slipped into some secret tunnels, the players encountered their first dilemma of the evening--whether to loot the gambling house or give chase.

They did a little of both, allowing Saltus to make good his escape into a cave system ("smuggler's tunnels") beneath the gambling house. After delivering the coup de grace to a psionically stunned boar (the pet of Saltus' right-hand lackey), they quickly determined that none of them were particularly skilled at lock-picking, and so it fell to the psionicist to crush the locked trapdoor with his mental powers.

By then, their desire to get revenge on Saltus was beginning to pick up. It allowed them to avoid arousing Zarac's usually ever-present avarice, which would no doubt have led them to a submerged pirate treasure--but all a vengeful wight. Instead, they chose a different branch and wound up activating magical stalactites which served as a sort of cave security system for a den of troglodytes. These guys had their gambling interrupted:

So throwing down their "simple but inane" (according to the module) game, they came running for the party. The dice were fickle for the trogs. They kept getting natural "twenties" and equally natural "ones"--making them alternate between shrugging off the PCs best blows, and crumpling like paper. One troglodyte went down before they're even in melee range, felled by Renin's mind-bullets.

The other three didn't fall so easy. Zarac (already injured from the battle above ground) and Renin took wounds before they dispatched their foes. Each of the player's put down one trog, and Zarac delivered a killing stroke to the one previously blasted into unconsciousness by Renin.

So far so good--except the sounds of battle had alerted the other trogs, and the remaining adult males of the den came running. The PCs quickly assessed the odds, and made a strategic retreat. They climbed back up to the basement of the gambling hall, then removed the ladders, so the troglodytes couldn't follow.  They had by then recognized the odd smell they had noted in the basement earlier as a lingering sign of troglodyte presence, and weren't eager to have such visitations repeated.

They assumed that Saltus must have escaped. Again they returned to searching the various rooms of gambling house for valuables, or something that might explain his betrayal.

They'd forgotten something.

They forgot the elven ranger that lent them a hand last adventure, and the warning he gave of a renegade elf, apparently working with Saltus, at some unknown purpose. They forgot, and gave their hidden adversary, warned by her troglodyte minions, time to escape.

While they broke into the gambling hall's strangely sparsely funded vault, the weird shadow in the sky that had previously been of much interest, disappeared. While they sat at a bar, trying to figure out how to sell the business they now found themselves in possession of--and who to sell it to--a falling star streaked across the night sky. It slammed into a small island just beyond the harbor, leading to a earthquake and a tsunami.

These natural disasters had been foreshadowed by the dream that had brought Renin to Raedelsport. A dream the PCs had spent parts of several sessions trying to find someone to interpret. The looks on the players' faces when realization dawned was priceless.

The session ended with the characters looking out over the chaos in the city from the second floor of the Grinning Goblin, wondering just what might happen next.

Something I found interesting about the module was that it had a timeline of events that played out on their on. The players were able to interact with them, but they didn't require the PCs to be railroaded into doing so--were free to pursue their own agenda, and often did. While definitely a scenario with a plot (at least in the background), rather than a sandbox, I found it to have a lighter touch than other "story-centric" modules I've played in the past.

The conversion to Warriors & Warlocks has taken some extra work. Luckily, a large numbers of D&D monsters have been statted in Mutants & Masterminds terms on The Atomic Think Tank Message Boards. The three week breaks between sessions should have helped--and I suppose they did, in terms of providing more time to procrastinate.

The long between game intervals probably also led to player's forgetting some important details. From my perspective, this didn't impair the adventure in anyway, though the players felt the lack at times. Since they were relying on notes anyway, that just means they need to take better ones.

Overall, I think a good time was had by all.

In about a month, we undertake Chapter 2: Children of the Void.

1 comment:

Jim Shelley said...

You're just kidding about missing the pirate treasure right? :\

And yeah, I agree about the notes thing - it was painfully apparent we aren't going to be able to rely on our memories - I think it was telling that I had the best recollection of the previous events. :D