Kingmaker: Days 8 – 11

Day 8

The party journeyed back to the gold mine.

Day 9

Early in the morning, as they were breaking camp, a wil-o’-wisp ran into the party. It hovered around ominously for a few minutes, before becoming downright menacing. Sufficiently creeped out, the party attacked, and destroyed it. They then traveled on North, toward Oleg’s Trading Post. At night, they were attacked by a squad of bandits. The party reacted with swift, merciless anger, easily slaughtering the lot. Jack used magic to force the last remaining bandit to attempt to copulate with a tree for several minutes before killing him. There were incredulous grumblings from the party, in slight disbelief that any bandits dare attack the party, after the dozens of bandits the party had already easily routed.

Day 10

The party arrived at OIeg’s Trading Post, and spent all day enjoying home-cooked meals, cold beverages, and telling tales of their adventures. Oleg and Svetlana were ecstatic to have the wedding ring returned. A couple of guards that had come from Restov rewarded the party handsomely in cold hard cash in exchange for doing so much damage against the bandits. Oleg also rewarded the party, with some cash, and also a 1,000gp credit for anything at the trading post. Asher and Sparrow also took the opportunity to inform the party of the massive horde of treasure the party had accumulated: over 20,000gp in value. The party would have to head back to Restov to spend that kind of money! They spent the night sleeping comfortably at Oleg’s.

Day 11

The party headed in to Restov, where Asher and Reyes worked to sell their unwanted goods. Asher advised Reyes on prices and values, as well as seeking out connections to profitable vendors; Reyes did all the talking. Over lunch, the party evenly split the money – 5,400gp for each member, with the leftover cash remaining in party funds. The party then split off to go on a well-deserved shopping spree. Reyes introduced Asher to his adoptive grandfather, who ran a forge. After placing orders for armor, Asher headed to Reyes’ grandfather’s favorite alehouse to celebrate. When he was joined back Jack and Sparrow, the three managed to kick off a rowdy, naughty party in the alehouse by sundown.

Jack, being the most gorgeous of the trio, attracted much unwanted attention from other patrons, particularly a middle-aged woman he couldn’t convince to leave. In desperation, Jack paid Asher 100 gold coins to make the woman leave. Asher slapped her, hard, and ordered her out of the tavern. He then attempted to buy liquor for everyone, but the barkeep refused Asher’s business, explaining that he had just slapped the wife of a famous ex-gladiator, and the gladiator was probably going to seek revenge against Asher and the barkeep.

Asher paid a drunk to pretend to be him, earning himself a cheap decoy. He waited a while for the gladiator to show up, but he never did, so Asher tracked down the gladiator’s house. Asher killed a vagrant, dumped the body in the gladiator’s front yard, reported the body to a guard, and watched as the gladiator and his wife were arrested and escorted away for questioning. Sparrow then revealed herself to Asher (she had been shadowing him for quite some time) and demanded to know what he was doing. Asher suggested they rob the house and burn it down. Sparrow happily agreed.

Back at the tavern, Reyes’ grandfather came in after closing his shop to spend some time relaxing with Reyes and the party, and was shocked at the rambunctious party. After the grandfather remarked about how strange Reyes’ friends were, Reyes and Jack suddenly realized that both rogues – giddy with being back in the city after two weeks in the country – had been gone for some time now.

Designing a Kingdom

Brian wrote up a post on designing a kingdom for Kingmaker on his blog, Tales of Asher. Hit the link to read more about it:

http://talesofasher.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/designing-a-kingdom/

He discusses the reasons for choosing the colors and symbols he did, as well as a potential name for the Kingdom: The People’s Republic of Draconia.

This probably won’t be the final name, or flag design. This is only the first!

Here’s the finished version of the flag:

Flag of the People's Republic of Draconia

Flag of the People’s Republic of Draconia

Kingmaker: Day 7

Day 7

In the morning, the party discussed their plans and pooled their knowledge concerning the kobolds. They realized that these are the Sootscale Kobolds, so-named for their blackish scales and their leader, Chief Sootscale. They live in what was formerly “Oaktop Silver Mine.” The party set out in the afternoon, and found the lair at sundown.

The party informed the sentry that they wished to talk with the chief, but when the party revealed the ivory devil statue recovered from the mites, the sentry took the party to the kobold shaman, Tartuk, instead. Tartuk thanked the party… but in truth, Tartuk did not want the statue to be recovered. As the party would later learn, Chief Sootscale is just a puppet leader, with Tartuk pulling the strings; as long as the chief and the other kobolds are preoccupied with war and recovering that statue, Tartuk can continue his schemes unnoticed.

Nonetheless, the statue was an idol of the kobold’s diety, and the tricky situation nearly developed in an all-out fight a couple times as the party tried to negotiate for the wedding ring, and perhaps, the kobolds’ alliance. While Sparrow and Asher robbed the kobolds blind, Jack and Reyes hashed out a deal with Tartuk, wherein Tartuk would convince Chief Sootscale to begin working the mine. The party would earn 25% of the profits from the silver, and in return, ensure the kobolds’ protection and prevent the kobolds from becoming stagnant and bored.

On their way out of the kobold lair, laden with many stolen goods (including, at last, Svetlana’s wedding ring!), the party unfortunately ran into trouble. Chief Sootscale came around a corner with a handful of guards, and, believing the party to be hostile invaders, ordered an immediate attack. Reyes, Jack, and Sparrow demonstrated dazzling spectacles of violence in dispatching this entire kobold force within seconds — capped off by Reyes’ beheading of Chief Sootscales.

As they left the lair, with an angry Tartuk and several other kobolds hot on their heels, Reyes tossed the chief’s head back into the lair and angrily reminded Tartuk to uphold the agreement with the mine.

Kingmaker: Days 5 – 6

Day 5

The party headed towards the sycamore tree for most of the day, but discovered a virginal vein of gold in a cave along the way. After some discussion, the bandit prisoner was judged to be of no further use, and a burden, and was executed by Reyes. Reyes was in an interesting mood after having buried Fionn the previous evening.

Day 6

The party arrived at the old sycamore tree, and found the entrance into the mites’ lair. The assault was rapid and aggressive; no prisoners were taken. The party showed little patience or mercy. It was learned that the mites were breeding giant centipedes, and the party took care to destroy all centipede eggs. The party also found primitive documents that described a war between these mites, and a tribe of kobolds called “Scootscale” to the South. There was a record of a supply theft by the kobolds… and the party assumed that the kobolds were now in possession of Svetlana’s wedding ring.

Presently, the party is loaded with cash and supplies, and has been out in the country for almost a week. As they made camp on the sixth night, they promised to debate pressing onward to recover Svetlana’s ring, or returning to Oleg’s to offload some supplies before continuing on their quest.

Kingmaker: Days 0 – 4

Day 0

Each member of the party came to Restov for their various reasons. Reyes and Fionnius (“Finn”) quickly found each other and began forming the party — seeking to build a formidable squad to take on the rugged Stolen Lands. Eventually, all six members: Reyes, Finn, Kydien, Petronius (“Jack”), Asher, and Sparrow, headed South. They arrived at Oleg’s Trading Post. Oleg and his wife, Svetlana, mistook the party for an official Restov security force — something they had been asking for for some time. Nonetheless, the party claimed to be able to handle whatever it was Oleg and Svetlana needed… in exchange for free food and board, of course. Oleg told the party that bandits routinely come and demand exorbitant “taxes” — and they were scheduled to appear the very next morning!

Day 1

Asher and Sparrow waited by the Trading Post’s gates, while Kydien stood in a watchtower, and Finn stood off to the side with a bow. Jack and Reyes stood in the courtyard. When the bandits arrived early in the morning, they rode right through the gates and stopped, puzzled, at the sight of the two adventurers standing defiantly. Asher and Sparrow locked the gates shut. Jack and Reyes both gave ominous greetings, and Asher threw boiling oil onto three of the four bandits. Finn let loose an arrow into the fourth bandit — the leader of this group — and the arrow flew through the back of the man’s skull and jutted out his eye socket, killing him instantly. Writhing in pain, the other three bandits immediately surrendered.

The party learned that this leader was Haps Bydon, the lover of his superior, a woman named Kressle. Haps also was an officer of sorts under the Stag Lord, the most feared bandit in the Greenbelt. As an officer under the Stag Lord, Haps wore a silver Stag Lord amulet. Asher took the amulet and jokingly claimed to be the new Stag Lord. Reyes interrogated the bandits and learned the location of their camp. The party headed out. By midday, the party found a temporary campsite used by the four bandits, and quickly pressed on.

Soon, the party encountered a shambling mound. It proved a fearsome foe, one difficult for traditional tactics to defeat. However, being plant-like, it was susceptible to fire. Sparrow fired flaming arrows at it, and then Asher came and splashed a flask of lantern oil upon the shambling mound, and it succumbed to the flames. At night, the party was beset by bandits who tried to catch the party sleeping. Jack was nearly killed with an arrow before the rest of the party slayed the bandits — but discovered no connection to the Stag Lord or Kressle. These were merely freelance bandits.

Day 2

Although the day was uneventful, at nightfall, Asher rigged a trap around the campsite to alert the party of any intruders. The adventurers had no sooner settled in to sleep than the various sticks and pots and pans clanged and banged, meaning someone was approaching the camp. The party quickly drew weapons, and a confused, filthy man approached, holding beavers. It seemed as if he wanted to trade. The party was highly suspicious, and asked the man many questions. It became clear he was a crazy hermit named Joe. The party traded meat for some of his beavers. Asher offered to pay Finn a handful of small gems in exchange for a high-quality beaver hat.

Day 3

Again, daytime travel was easy, but night remained the party’s bane. As Asher stood watch on first shift, a monstrous centipede the size of a horse crawled into the camp. Alarmed, the party armed themselves and attempted to fend off the creature. However, Asher lept from the tree and buried his Aldori sword into the centipede, deftly slicing it in twain.

Day 4

The party came to the area where the bandit camp was supposed to be. Finn, Sparrow, and Asher scouted around until they found the camp. They reported back that the camp was very rustic and open, but had East and West watchtowers, with a cache of supplies under the West tower. They formed a plan for Finn to take down the East tower with alchemist’s fire, Sparrow to take up position in the West tower, Asher would slip into the main part of the camp and quietly slit throats until the alarm was raised, and then Jake and Reyes would ride in for a full assault.

The plan, however, did not go quite as expected. Asher was caught by Kressle before he made it to the camp proper. Playing for time, he showed her the amulet of her dead lover, irreverently worn around his neck, and taunted her. Enraged, she slashed at Asher but barely nicked him. Suddenly, the sound and sight of the Eastern tower going up in flames distracted Kressle, and Asher took this opportunity to stick his blade straight through her heart.

One by one the bandits were easily killed by the party, until the last one, which was only wounded and then tied up. Fionn was killed in a freak accident, falling on his own sword. The bandit prisoner was interrogated, and the party learned much about the Stag Lord and his fort. It seemed the best way to get to the Stag Lord was posing as the next shipment of a greenish liquor favored by the Stag Lord. The party also learned that a group of mites had stolen some supplies from these bandits, possibly including Svetlana’s wedding ring. The mites were said to have a lair beneath an old sycamore tree East of the bandit camp.

Kydien was caught whispering with the prisoner, and revealed that she is the sister of the Stag Lord. She was detained, and the party planned on bringing her back to Restov to be hanged. In the night, Kydien went missing, presumably dragged off into the woods, where her trail stopped cold. Asher denied involvement. Crazy Joe stalked Jack at night, and was promptly killed by Asher.

GM Brian’s Campaign Analysis, Part VII

So last session, the party had gone looking for a group of mercenaries responsible for killing their defense lawyer and stealing key evidence of the Lumber Consortium’s vast corruption in the process. A massive sinkhole opened up in the swamps, and the party fell down, down, into eerie, forgotten tombs buried over a hundred feet below the acrid, black mud.

The party rested and sketched out a quick map of the tombs to discuss tactics. They had managed to clear the West side completely, but there were unopened doors to the East and South. They wisely decided that open corridors would take priority over doors, and that put them on an Eastern track. In one room, they encountered a Basidirond. This was a really cool encounter, because of the hallucinogenic effects of the spores. The party knew the plant was bad news, and wanted to just skirt around the walls of the room to get to the next passageway, but Aria spotted the skeleton of a dead adventurer in the roots of the plant, with a big, bulging backpack. She couldn’t resist.

Several party members started tripping out as Aria’s intrusion stimulated the plant to action. Rais thought he was suffocating, and one of his wolves thought there was a terrifying viper in the room. At some point, Aria believed she had shrunk to 1/10th her size and was afraid someone would stomp on her in the chaos. Nonetheless, the party defeated the basidirond, with Eydan using her sylph powers to blow away the dangerous spores.

The party also fought off some custom “swamp zombies” of mine that had distended bellies full of congealed swamp chemicals — basically a petroleum jelly akin to sterno. They were easy to defeat, especially with fire, but the results created dangerous, burning terrain. Although the party saw value in putting out the fire and salvaging some of this flammable jelly for themselves, they immediately wasted it by playing with it on a stone door – which was ineffective, to say the least.

At last, however, they came to a tall room in the tombs with walls lined with sarcophagi. At the center of the room lay the last mercenary, dying. Ghostly faces flickered into and out of existence around the room to watch the events unfold. The sight of the dead mercenary combined with the unsettling ghosts was enough to click the party out of their “dungeon grind mode.”

They ran to the dying man, and saw a bag of holding tucked in his belt that probably contained the body of the defense lawyer. But then four faceless stalkers emerged from hiding and pounced! It was a tough battle — the toughest yet for this party! And it was my favorite encounter of the entire campaign so far, because the party came together like never before. When one party member fell to dangerously low hitpoints, the whole party would reposition themselves so that the wounded could heal, safely protected by the rest of the group. It was beautifully fluid, as if they had rehearsed this tactic.

Four faceless stalkers against six level 3 adventurers… and the adventurers won. Barely. The previously malevolent spirits in the tomb ceased bothering the players immediately. One ghost woman appeared and explained they were grateful that the party had rid the tomb of the nasty creatures that had taken up residence over the years, and now the spirits could rest in peace again. As a reward, the ghost pointed out one of the sarcophagi that held nothing but treasure.

This treasure was custom-tailored for the group. Aria got two immovable rods, allowing her more use of her racial features. Abdiel got lucky gloves to make up for his INCREDIBLY terrible luck at rolling throughout seven sessions of playing. Rais got a huntsman’s shortsword. Eydan got goggles that could reveal secret doors and passageways. Elias got a Cassock of the Clergy, and Haru got a quiver that turned metallic arrows red-hot (for extra fire damage).

The party returned to Almas and handed over the dead mercenary and the recovered evidence to the Eagle Knights. They were hailed as heroes, and celebrated. They spent a week spending their hard-earned loot on various upgraded gear and such, and then hopped the next boat to Absalom, where they will spend the next three years training to be Pathfinders. This was the end of my turn GMing for the group (we rotate GMs). When next we pick up, they’ll be ready for their final test as Pathfinders, and they’ll set out once more for grand adventures!

GM Brian’s Campaign Analysis, Part VI

Having learned my lesson from last session, I really prepared for this one. In fact, I even wrote myself a script. And it paid off in spades! I was able to set an eerie atmosphere as the party raced through a small swamp in a storm to find the safehouse used by corrupt Lumber Consortium agents. In the safehouse, they found a large pile of unmarked bars of silver — the agents’ payment for murdering the lawyer who had solid evidence of the Consortium’s corruption. (As an apology for the previous session’s awfulness, I decided these agents hadn’t yet found time to safely deposit their silver.)

Then the party heard a noise from a nearby abandoned cemetery, and ran over. Much of the graveyard had been swallowed by the swamp, but a large crypt entrance still stood, and was likely where the agents had fled to. The party pulled a lever to open the large stone crypt door, but this proved to be too much strain for the swamp to handle. A massive sinkhole opened up, and buried the party in the forgotten tombs beneath the swamp.

They were sufficiently creeped out by the ghostly atmosphere inside the tombs, and were even more on edge when I gave them fair warning that this particular dungeon was NOT messing around. (Their first dungeon was built by a mentally deficient mage, and I didn’t want them to mistake that dungeon’s easiness for my style, or anything.) The first creature they encountered was a mummy, and there were groans and murmurs of “oh no!” at the table. I had never actually seen this party fear an encounter until now.

But the bard won initiative, and scored an insta-kill on the mummy, shooting its head right off its body with her shortbow. This certainly cheered the party right back up! It was a cool moment, too, and I think it brought the party closer together. They all but demanded the bard (who was the newest member to the party) stick with them from here on out.

Still, my dungeon fought back with a vengeance. Between scary ghosts, nasty traps, and creepy messages written on the walls, I had them on the edge of their seats, I think. The Paladin was a bit of a smartass, as he was in his element, but it was all in good fun. I nearly killed the druid with a fire trap, but the Paladin saved him from the brink of death JUST IN TIME.

The gunslinger got a much-needed armor upgrade, and finally was able to use his gun to great effect against a Crypt Thing, scoring some awesome hits.

As far as the sandbox nature of the campaign goes, I think it’s safe to say the party has found their groove. They have a clear antagonist: The Lumber Consortium. They have their individual goals, which have changed somewhat, but are still meaningful. And they also have a party goal of reaching Absalom and becoming Pathfinders. And they have a side quest lined up: Investigating Victor, eldest brother of 5 dungeon-building mages, who resides in a castle in Cheliax.

Should I continue to post these breakdowns, even though the campaign’s really clicked into place? The sandbox is still there, of course, and the players could go off their own rails any time they choose. But now it feels far more streamlined and focused. It just took a few sessions — and a healthy dose of party bonding — for everything to come together. Once you get past that awkward phase of “Uh, what now?”, completely open campaigns kind of just write themselves!

GM Brian’s Campaign Analysis, Part V

This was a bad session.

I was absolutely slammed by work this week, so my preparation was severely lacking. I’d say so far, my sandbox campaign has required far more preparation than running published campaigns. And I knew my players were going to be interacting with a lot of NPCs and possibly stumbling upon a dungeon… unfortunately, all I was able to bring with me to the table were my skeleton notes on the NPCs, and a vague scribbling of “small level 4 – 5 dungeon under marshlands.”

Now previously, the party had been hit hard by the Lumber Consortium, who not only hired assassins to kill the party off, but also falsely accused the players of heinous crimes in the event that the assassins failed. The party also believed the city guards to be agents of the Lumber Consortium, so after defeating the assassins they were toying with the idea of fighting off the guards, as well.

At the last second, the party surrendered (through mush gnashing of teeth), and only two members snuck off. These two members ran into a special task force of the Andoren Eagle Knights who were trying to build a huge corruption case against the Lumber Consortium, and were very happy to meet and help these two players. The rest of the party was transported to the capital city to stand trial for crimes against Andoran and the Lumber Consortium. Their defense lawyer, however, was excellent, and informed the players that the evidence found on the assassins was solid gold.

Wisely, the players immediately begged her to make copies of that evidence and give it to them for safekeeping, but the rules of the prison were quite clear: All personal property and evidence remains custody of the government and legal teams, respectively. But she promised to make copies as soon as the trial was over, since she had to hand it over to a certain task force of Eagle Knights anyway.

This is where I failed as GM: The most important, exciting trial of the last decade was glossed over in just a few minutes. I was dead tired and had very little prepared; there is no other excuse. My players felt the trial was very anticlimactic, but at the same time they said it was ok, they really wanted to get their hands on that evidence and formally assist the Eagle Knights in taking down the Lumber Consortium.

As can be expected, however, they were just a minute too late in being released from prison: Their defense lawyer was shot dead in the street, her body scooped up into the assassin’s bag of holding, and the assassin had a hefty head start in fleeing the city. And though they lost track of the assassin, the Eagle Knights knew he would likely flee to a Lumber Consortium safehouse in the small marsh outside the city. Desipte their power, the Eagle Knights could not assault the safehouse without a warrant — which would take at least an hour to obtain, even in emergency circumstances. The recently freed party, however, operated under no such rules, so the Eagle Knights told them about the safehouse.

And that was it for the session. I felt really bad about how short and unexciting it was for my players, but I had an idea on how to make it up to them. I know that with the constant attacks by the Lumber Consortium and being under arrest, they’ve had little time to acquire wealth along with their experience — they’re level 3 now, with an average wealth per player of 300gp. And they don’t have any special/magical gear to speak of. So, it just so happens that the Lumber Consortium’s payment, 9,000gp in unmarked silver bars, are still sitting in the safehouse. The assassins, ahem, forgot to deposit it safely. That’s 1500gp per player ON TOP OF the treasure they’ll find in the dungeon in the marsh.

But that’s not all. Money is well and good, but I think I’ll make a special encounter in the dungeon — an exciting fight in dangerous terrain.