Monday, 22 November 2010

Peace During Wartime: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards - Part 4

Chapter Nine
All Dressed up and Nowhere to Go

“With the loss of the Romanov estates, the conspirators were now on the back peddle. They needed something to turn their plans around. The troublesome band of adventurers had already eliminated a few of their brothers, and Lord Shiabow knew that it would not be long til they would come for the rest of them. Upon that, he and Chapter Master Wallace devised their next move.
The adventurer's investment in stopping the conspiracy was purely mercenary, and the conspirators had already a tried and tested method for turning people over to their side. In the noble district of Wardovia, that very night there was already a planned party to sway the interests of the rich and influential. Lord Shiabow planned to use Chapter Master Wallace as a lure, and then invite the group, via planer portal, to the party, and offer them a share of the wealth upon victory.
- Silvio de Blum - The Ragnar Conspiritors: The Wardovia Coup

In this session the group arrives at Tarp, to see it dominated by the large cathedral like chapter house. As expected, Kara, Azreal and Damon play the parts of travelling pilgrims, while Trust climbs the rafters above. Unfortunately after a quick scan of the area, the group needs to contact Trust, so Damon blinds everyone in the room with cascade of light as a message via arrow gets to Trust. Further infiltration gets them to the Chapter Master's private quarters, but upon entering, the Chapter Master and the mercenary recruiter were already expecting them.
They make the group an offer, a night sampling the delights of what they could have by siding with the conspirators, and in the morning automatically returned to the town. Of course, less of an offer, they don't really have a choice. Arriving there, dressed to the nines, Kara runs into Sakari, who updates them on goings on in the city. Also in attendance is Sofia, who provided the alcohol for the party.
After a bit of perusing and making small talk, Trust sneaks into the back rooms, and eliminates the two conspirators, mainly down to the fact that they could not provide the money up front. With the bodies concealed but brains removed, The group head to the confines of their rooms, except for Azreal, who instead accepts an invitation from Sofia to spend the night at hers. He has now took a level in being a ladies man. The card!
True to the conspirators words, our heroes are returned to Tarp in the morning, with a bonus bag of holding, and on the way back to Skull cove, run foul of a band of demons, evidence suggesting that there is yet another player in the struggle for Wardovia.

Chapter Ten
The Terror of the Gelatinous Cube

“The Aasimar? Yes I remember him. Kept me as his possession for three years, I wouldn't likely forget that in a hurry. Yes, he had this big plan to run a mercenary company of deamons and creatures he'd summoned, of which I was one of them. Started making a good name for himself too, hiring them out to idealists and revolutionaries.
Of course, hell hath no fury like a Succubus scorned. Well actually thats not true. Hell hath no fury like a Succubus full stop. So when this bunch of adventurer types turn up, I bedazzle the big one and use my wiles to force my captor into fighting against them. Even with his summoning powers he was no match for them in the conditions I'd set up. Clever man, but I was cleverer”
- Unnamed succubus from Stories on the Road

With Clodhopper now dedicating his forces to the resistance, all that is required is a seige weapon to breach the walls. At Evergreen, a map suggests that there is a Black Hand seige works near the docks. On the way, our heroes encounter bigger problems. A massed army of demons ready to mobilise. Sneaking past, they face a few foes by a recently sacked caravan. The trader tries to give them some useful information, but Trust decides to “put him out of his misery” before he can reveal anything. They store his corpse in the bag of holding and continue on their merry way.
Trust notices an unusual amount of Teiflings at the docks, and upon questioning a drunk one, finds out they are summoning a demonic army in a secret base under the boardwalk. Investigating, they meet the summoner in charge, who agrees to have the demonic army work for the resistance, in return for Azreal as a mesmerized bodyguard. His succubus concubine has other ideas however, and as the undead servant Mr Bones heads off to take over the Black Hand's siege works, the summoner turns against them.
A botched summoning results in the creation of a gelatinous cube, that attacks everyone indiscriminately. After the ensuing battle, Mr Bones returns, but now has no master. With this taxing the groups attention, the succubus steps into the summoning circle and escapes without punishment. All is not lost however, Mr Bones agrees to turn over the siege weapons to the resistance, and Damon receives a fancy new summoning tome.

Chapter Eleven
Absolutely Everything

“Making up the bulk of the attacking force was a motley selection of brigands and outcasts. The pirates of the saw coast, united under the banner of the Illithid Captain Clodhopper served as hit and run raiders. The force of elves under the command of King Tim would serve as archers and healers, with some mounted cavalry protecting the flanks. The dwarfs would man the siege weapons and serve as hard hitting formation of troops. Finally the backbone of the army was the free city guard of Wardovia, who had to most to gain from the attack. The liberation of the city.
The attack was to go as follows: the walls were to be brought down by trebuchets. Any battlements that could be valuable for counterattack were taken by men in siege towers. A small force was sent through a tunnel excavated by the dwarfs, to within the city where they could raise the gate to the inner wall. Then nothing could prevent the attacking force from entering the palace and put King Calidan back in place.”
- Christoper Iax – The Siege of Wardovia

And so everything was prepared. Kara and the resistance would attack the city, giving the group enough of a distraction to sneak in and snatch the Black Hand mage. Then, they'd make good their escape. Sneaking into the city via the dwarfs tunnels, they come across a secret dragon holding area, and come face to face with what had now come to be known as 'the fail dragon'. Being non too bright, the dragon agrees to ride the group to the surface, but gets his head stuck in the exit. Azreal does him a favor by kicking him in the face to get him out. The heroes then get cornered by a snake and a hound, Trust and Damon pass their agility checks to run past them, leaving Azreal to waddle along in his heavy armour.
Exiting in the mages district, this commotion draws the attention of the city guard. Despite Azreal throwing the corpse of the dead trader at them, they manage to get away thanks to Carnack turning up as a disguised commander. Resurecting the trader witht the skull lords magical helm, he revives to tell them about the secret base under the boardwalk. This info being useless to them, they bung him back into the bag of holding, only to take him back out again to thow at a unit of orcs working for the conspirators.
After dispatching the orcs, and sticking the trader back in the bag, the group gets to the gatehouse of the palace, being hassled by Clodhopper and his men, and open the gate to reunite with Kara and Sakari. Now for the final part of the plan. Taking the back door into the palace, they fight past members of the Black Hand. Then they all jump into the bag of holding bar Trust, who sneaks past the guards. Faced with an officer of the Black Hand, the group puts on rings with their insignia they looted from the members they've slain over the course of the campaign. The officer belives them, but goes to check with the chief mage. Bypassing a dense ogre, the group head on to stop the officer before he gives the game away.

“The Holy Shield of Bernard was a highly sought after relic for the Knights of Bahamut. For years it resided in the Imperial Tower of Wardovia, out of reach. At odds with his original mission, Azreal had been tasked to retrieve the shield in the confusion, unfortunately, he wasn't the only one after it”
- Tomas of the order of Bahamut – Oh Shining Day!: The Exalted of Bahamut

While the rest of the team head on to silence the officer. Azreal spies the shield he had been ordered to recover. Slipping away from the team, he bypasses any traps and alarms, and the shield is his. Turning around, he comes face to face with Carnack. The two spar, but Carnack hands Azreal a severe beating. When it looks as though Azreal is done for, a stray round from a trebuchet crashes through the wall. When the dust settles, Carnack is gone, and so is the shield.

“Lady Illiarna was one of the finest minds of the Black Hand. It was her own idea to pose as the Kings closest advisor to secretly influence the path Wardovia took. Despite her cunning however, the Coup took her completely by surprise. All she could do was put the King under a state of magical sleep, and keep the palace under lockdown, until aid came from her superiors. None were to come however, and during the battle for the capital, Illiarna prepared for her last stand”
- Simon Deangelo – Peace During Wartime: The Wardovia Job

Trust successfully silences the officer, and is shortly rejoined by a beaten looking Azreal. Entering the Kings chambers, it was time do do the job they came here to do. Facing off against the mage, she summons a scaled down beholder, this proves useless however as her own fireball manages to destroy the creature before it can act. Damon makes use of the summoning book, but fails a will check to see if he can maintain control of the elemental he summoned. Regardless, the team manages to knock the mage out, and tie her up. Time to escape.
Moments later, Lord Khan of the conspirators enters the room from the stairs above, thanking the group for taking care of the mage, now he can make short work of the King. A sword then thrusts out of Khan's chest, and he drops to the floor. Its Jocasta, arriving to help the group get the hell out of there, and she beckons them to follow her to the roof of the tower.


“After the signing of the alliance Katie (no confirmed second name, though believed to be ûnus nulla ûnus or some derivative therov) could be found side by side with Jocasta, sometimes closer than lovers, sometimes fiercely independent. Upon arrival in Andavia she quickly got the attention of the military with her fantastic talent for mechanics and engineering. Jocasta, being a former guard of the city had been invited to take part in the final phase of the operation in Wardovia, and she requested work for Katie in this also. As it would turn out, Katie's talents would prove crucial, and with a bit of research and a little magic from a down on his luck water genasi, Katie had revolutionized the escape plan.
Five months after the signing of the alliance, the airborne ship Shandra, took to the skies.”
- Alysoun Mifflinburg – No Dykes to Watch Out For: Mercenaries on the Road Less Traveled

Up on the roof of the tower, the group watches as a great ship, suspended by a large air balloon, descends to take them away. Jumping on board, they all pass their agility checks and the ship picks up speed. However, the conspirators have released the dragons seen earlier, and the heroes run to the ballisters mounted on the side of the ship to defend themselves. Damon summons a powerful deva, which makes short work of the dragons, and Sofia also turns up in the iron maiden to provide support, much to the annoyance of Katie, who'd spent months working on a flying ship only to be faced with a far superior one.
Job well done. The group once again are granted an audience with King Richard, paying them their reward and additional bonus for what they had to deal with. King Callidan they are told, is back on his feet, and about to clean house with his government. Leaving the castle, Azreal once again faces Carnack, this time however, Carnack hands over the shield. He reveals he went after it for its arcane power, but this has long been stripped from the relic, and is useless to him. With this, Azreal returns the relic to his order, and is rewarded with the title of Knight Commander, and significant lands and estates. By the docks, the group concludes their business, and Sofia offers to keep Azreal company when he goes to look after his lands. With that, Jocasta insists that the celebrate, and that the first rounds on her.


Playing dungeon master in this campaign I enjoyed immensely, and really felt the storyteller come out in me. There was still pleanty I would have liked to have included: A bigger dwarvern city, a longer finale, a murder mystery, and the magical seeds that Trust looted were never revealed to be poisonous as originally planned. But what I do know is the players really enjoyed the campaign, and thats the important thing. Now its time for some other poor sod to take over.

“And so, the Wardovia-Andavian alliance was now secure. King Richard had clear evidence of the Black Hands involvement, and over the coming years he and Callidan cleared both their kingdoms of corruption with ruthless efficiency. By the end of the century, the two kingdoms were as close as one, and Richard's and Callidan's families eventually married into each other, officially forming one nation.

Azreal took control of a significant portion of the country, and made a large amount of money out of it. Sofia stayed with him for a short while, but it wasn't long until her wandering spirit drew her back to traveling the plains, though she would still visit from time to time. Azreal got used to the quiet life however, and was content enough as he still had Lady Alriaanna of Helm to call on if needs be. Quite the rogue, young Azreal had turned out to be.

Kara and Sakari stayed in Andavia, going back to their positions they formally held, guardswoman and librarian respectfully. They reminisced with Jocasta for a bit, and were held in high respect amongst the military leaders of the city, but they never forgot their comrades, and vowed that they would drop everything and help their old friends if ever the need arose.

Jocasta and Katie continued with the mercenary life, leaving Andavia shortly after and traveling south to the Florentine lands. Katie continued to garner fame as an inventive prodigal, to rival even the most ancient of dwarven smiths. Jocasta continued to be a skilled and valuable ranger. Both continued to be the talk of the town wherever they went.

Trust, unsurprisingly, would return to a life of petty crime, despite the big payout. She would continue to drift from city to city, picking pockets and raiding homes, biding her time as she waited for the next big score to come along.

As for Carnack and Damon, they would soon find their fates unexpectedly entwined. Both having heard legends of the arcane history of the island nation of Farrel. Making their separate ways there, they soon found that there was more to their arrival than a simple treasure hunt.

But as always, that is another story...
- Simon Deangelo – Peace During Wartime: The Wardovia Job

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Peace During Wartime: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards - Part 3

During this campaign, I produced a small interlude to show what Jocasta was up to during all this. You can read it Here.


Chapter Five
Bastard Sword Overkill

“With the death of Kryptmn, and reports of a loose lipped racketeer in the city slums the conspirtors decided that it would be the best course of action to accelerate their coup.
Part one consisted of bringing forth their most loyal soldiers, and using those in authority to exile those loyal to the king. Part two would be to secure all viable assets in the kingdom, most notably the power that the Romanov estates would bring. Part three would then be a simple matter of bringing in Skelliath's undead army if required, and imposing martial law while a new government was established.
Of course, they still had to contend with the Black Hand, who held the King in a state of 'sickness', while they planned on their counter-coup."
- Silvio de Blum - The Ragnar Conspiritors: The Wardovia Coup

After a short break due to Damon's player being unavailable, I decided to push forward and compromise by joining the campaign as a third character to back up the team. This ultimately ended with me changing the whole route of the campaign. The Ragnar Conspiracy, originally planned as a small side quest, was now brought to the forefront. This resulted in Kara being exiled from the city, allowing me to use her as a guest member of the team if only two were available. In this case Damon had been concussed into unconsciousness by a magic missile.

“Look at you, great men of Wardovia, driven away like rats from a sinking ship. Well look at me! An Andavian, and woman at that. I'm not afraid to fight on. Fight to protect everything we fought for in the war. Did brother fight brother so that a handful of sons of whores can walk into the city and take it? Did they?”
Kara Regnetris – Speech during the routing of the Wardovian loyalists

After clearing out the caves in evergreen our heroes exit to find that Kara and the loyalists have fled there. Running into the violent locals, the village is cleared out, and the men set it up as a resistance headquaters. The undead army to the east now becomes a pressing concern, so Kara, Trust and Azreal head east to investigate reports of something interfering with the undead, originating from the shipwreck, the Iron Maiden.

“Captain Sofia Sloan. The name would bring thoughts of many things to many different people. Mead. Ale. Whiskey. Wine. Sofia was the best bootlegger from Neverwinter to Sigil and back.. Be it the lowliest slum spree to the most prestigious noble banquet, Sofia was in high demand.
Always with an eye for a quick buck and gentlemen who would at the very least pretend they were on some noble quest, Sofia traveled the planes far and wide in her Spelljammer, the Iron Maiden. With only one goal, keep the party going.”
Dara Murry - A rough tavern guide: Heros and Villains

Heading into pirate territory, our heroes discover that the pirates to the east are much more passive. Taking them to their captain, our heroes meet Sofia, aping a cod west country accent. In private she reveals that her Spelljammer crash landed, with its busted capacitors creating a field that negates any necromantic incantations. Sofia tasks the group with locating her some new engine parts, as the booze will only keep the pirates pacified for so long. In return she offers the busted capacitors to use against the undead to the east.
And so, with a wink from Sofia to Azreal, the group sets off back to the Dwarfen city, this time with whiskey to bribe their way in.

“My name is Tim. Son of a murdered farther. Husband to a murdered theory. Farther of a murdered potted plant. And I will have my vengeance”
- “King” Tim of the Westwood Elves

Traveling the countryside, the group comes face to face with the rather theatrical and unhinged 'King' Tim of the elves, who is convinced that the group are machinations of his “nemifis”(sic). Trusts quick tong manages to convince Tim that the identity of his nemesis is the Lord Treasurer, who Kara reveals will be heading to Collat'oral within a few days to make a bid for the Romanov estates. With this our heroes carry on. Eventually stopping off at the Byzannium ruins in an attempt to eliminate Skelliath


Chapter Six
Coup de Whoop

“The two dwarvern families of the Ragnar mountains, House Brut and House Brot, had been feuding for generations. The popular opinion of the gentry of Wardovia on 'lesser' races, had left the Dwarfs struggling to justify their position in the mainly human hierarchy. To maintain their hold, they became weapons manufacturers, for the Wardovian millitary, and off the record work for the Black Hand and the Ragnar Conspiritors.”
- Jack Capricorn - Where there's a mine or a hole in the ground

This session began with a thrilling battle against the skull lord and his undead minions. Using a regular undead model, the group was unaware that a skull lord had to be killed three times to finaly vanquish him, leading to two occurrences of manic laughter when they though the battle was over.
After finally finishing him off, they are granted a powerful helmet, that works as a sort of magical defibrillator, which once a day can be used to resurrect someone. When they arrive at the mountains, their alcoholic bribe works getting them a job offer by the head of house Brot, to do away with his rival and steal the blueprints for an automatic crossbow. While trying to infiltrate the back enterance to the house of Brot, Kara and Azreal have to pull off the oldest trick in the book, to pretend to be lovers passionately kissing while Trust picks the lock.
Finally they manage to sneak in, ham-fistedly do the dirty deed, and be away with the plans. In return the Dwarfs grant them fresh capacitors for Sofia and an agreement to help the group infiltrate the city by digging a tunnel under the wall when the time comes.


Chapter Seven
The Hanged Man

“Collat'oral was the financial capital of the continent. Here whole estates and armies were bought and sold. Standard practice was to open the ceremony first with the hanging of a notorious criminal. Then bids would begin for a variety of items, both valuable and mundane, to get the attendees into the spirit of things. Then there would be a short recess and the starting bids for the main prize would begin. There was then a break in the bids overnight, and the final auction would take place the following morning. In practice through, many events were the setting for crafty plots and dangerous gambits”
- James Khamrah – Mad Money

In this session our heroes head to Collat'oral in order to throw a spanner in the conspiritor's works by sabotaging the Lord Treasurer's plans to claim the Romanov estates in the name of the coup. The opening ceremony involves Carnack being brought up for execution, who breathes his final breath on the noose as the group debates the merits of an attempted rescue. In the end, they decided, It just wasn't worth the risk.
During the opening bids Trust and Azreal get into the spirit of things, bidding for a few bits and bobs. Kara notes the unusual amount of elves for the city, including the mayor of the town. After observing the Lord Treasurer for the day, the group plans to sneak into the town hall at night to steal the deeds to the estate. While preparing in her room, Trust is visited by the not so dead Carnack, who, admiring her ruthlessness, confides his secret of not death to her in return for assistance when assaulting the palace tower.
Trust infiltrates the town hall with ease, but comes face to face with a Black Hand agent, also after the deeds. Trust dispatches him, then leaves with the deeds, and all seems rosy. However the following morning it is revealed that the deeds were simply a decoy, the originals still safely up for auction. As the Lord Treasurer rises to claim his price, and all seems lost, he his killed by an elven uprising led by 'King' Tim. The elves wrest control of the city away from the lord's men, and agree to stand with the group against the conspirators as a reward for their assistance against Tim's 'nemifis'(sic).
After this, the group quickly travel back to the Iron Maiden, to pass the new capacitors to Sofia. As a last request, Sofia orders the pirates to now follow the free city guard and to rendezvous at Evergreen. With a wink to Azreal, Sofia's spelljammer raises into the air and vanishes to traverse the plains once more.


Chapter Eight
Twist ah Luck

“Tristan's troupe, as they were commonly known, were a band of adventurers of average reputation. Tristan, the devious Teifling rogue was the mastermind behind most of their schemes. Alriaanna was the strong silent paladin of Helm, the muscle of the group. Finally there was Duncan, the wild card. Duncan was a cleric of Bane, and shared his gods perchance for violence. Many theorize Duncan's somewhat camp mannerisms were a mask for his more manipulative nature, and that Tristan was just a patsy, being led to exactly where Duncan wanted him to go. Suffice to say, Tristan's schemes did not always go according to plan”
- Roma Drangasti – On the Road Again

Now to deal with Clodhopper. The resistance needed still more backbone before it would attempt to re-take the city, so a deal must be brokered with the scourge of the seven seas. Arriving at Skull Cove, Damon re-unites with the group, and they infiltrate the carvers, to attempt to have an advantage over the illithid Captain. Trust and Azreal however, get a bit greedy looking at some minerals in the cavern wall, attempting to pry them lose several times only yeilds attention from some Sllaad and a snake, so eventually they give in.
Discovering a small camp on the coastal cliffs, the group take cover for the night, but their checks fail to detect approaching pirates. Knocked out, they are captured, and awaken in a cell with a group of a adventurers who I made, to be honest, as thinly veiled parodies of the group itself. Tristan, the tiefling rogue, had landed them there with a scheme similar to Trust's, of pretending to be city guards and attacking the pirates. Duncan was an overly camp cleric, and Alriaanna said nothing, much like Azreal. After devising a plan, the group escape, and come face to face with Clodhopper.
Damon's diplomatic solution proves effective, Clodhopper agrees to help, but only if one of two conditions are filled. Either face him in battle or get him a brain to consume of better qualitiy than the usual he feasts on. The group chooses the latter, and plan to head to the town of Tarp, where a conspirator resides with the knights there. A perfectly suitable brain!
During all this, Azreals player was placing his model on top of Alriaanna. I decided this signified they had been uncontrollably making out. ITS CANON NOW.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Peace During Wartime: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards - Part 2

Click for Full Image

Chapter One
Stand in the Fire

“The newly ascended King Calidan was unusual for his leniency in the otherwise brutal kingdom of Wardovia. This boded well for King Richard and his proposed alliance, but was never one for leaving things to chance. Years earlier Richard had set up a vast intelligence network to keep tabs on his rivals. Along the way he had discovered that the secret society of the Black Hand had long been the power behind the throne of Wardovia, unbenknownst to its nobles and monarchs. An alliance with Wardovia was too lucrative to turn down, but came with significant risk.
To ensure success Richard had to expose the Black Hand, but without significant evidence would never be able to convince Calidan. Richard needed the truth from the horses mouth, and he knew how to get it. Calidan's chief mage and advisor Lady Illiarna, had long been a high standing member of the Hand, if Richard could get a confession out of her it would be indisputable.
The plan Richard formulated was this, to hire some freelance mercenaries and send them, along with a couple of low standing subjects of Anvavia to ensure loyalty, to Wardovia to 'retrieve' Lady Illiarna. Pirates had long stalked the coasts of Wardovia and were getting more and more ambitious. A raid against the capital would be a prefect distraction to allow the agents to infiltrate the city and extract the target. If the plan failed, the agents would have no real connection leading back to Richard, who could dismiss them as bandits.
If sucessful, Illiarna would be taken to Andavia to be 'questioned' and the truth would out.
- Simon Deangelo – Peace During Wartime: The Wardovia Job

Our first session opened with Trust and Azreal traveling to Andavia with Kara and Sakari on the promise of a new job. Arriving amongst festivities in aid of the signing of the alliance, our heroes sign up for the job with Damon and Bigg. Carnack himself appears to have his own mission.
Shortly after, the group is taken to the throne room to be briefed on the mission by King Richard himself, who gives the characters some funds up for equipment. Azreal is given a counter offer in secret by the grand master of his order, to retrieve a holy relic from Wardovia, in return for land and fortune should he succeed, disgrace if he fails. Trust overhears this however, and then goes about her usual business stealing coin and equipment from citizens who had enjoyed the festivities too much. After the alliance is signed, Bigg tries his hand in the fighting circle, brushing off all comers, including a confident Carnack.


Chapter Two
No Room on Board for the Insincere

“Captain Clodhopper, scourge of the Saw Coast, was by far the most feared Pirate warlord to operate in the realms. His past before piracy is all but unknown. How a mind flayer of the underdark would leave his societies master brain alone is unheard of, let alone to work ones way up the pirate hierarchy as he did. Clodhopper was as ingenious as he was ruthless, he recruited men regardless of race, often employing skilled elf archers during raids, and dwarfs manning his ships weapons. Failure would be punishable by having Clodhopper personally consume the brain of the transgressor. Under Clodhoppers guidance, a large portion of the Saw Coast had been taken almost totally under pirate control”
- Christoper Kalgasi – A history of Piracy in the Realms

This session Azreals player was unavailable. Fortunately I'd designed this campaign to allow players to jump in and out of it at any time. Azreal, it was explained, would meet up in Wardovia later, for now he was to undergo additional training with his order. Bigg, Trust and Damon on the other hand were to set sail.
Within the ship our group questions some of the crew, as well as Kara and Sakari, before taking to their hammocks to wait out the journey.
Rather unsurprisingly, the ship is raided by Clodhoppers pirates, and while Kara and Sakari stay down below to try and plug the leak, the group take to the deck to try and gain control over the ship. Battling pirates, they fight towards the wheel of the ship. Clodhopper flees and Bigg charges to the bridge. I ask his player to roll a strength check when he goes to grab the wheel. He passes, of course. But by passing this shows that Bigg's strength is too significant. He pulls the wheel from the ship, and it cascades into jagged rocks.
With a few possible places on the map where they can wash up, I roll to see where they awake. Coming to, they find the wrecked ship, no survivors to be seen, and quickly deduce they are deep in pirate territory. Making they're way to civilization, they are faced by a band of pirates. Bigg and Damon have a disagreement about how to handle the situation while Trust hides. Damon attempts a diplomatic approach, Bigg favors violence. Trust ambushes one of the pirates and thus makes matters worse, the violent approach being the only option.
After defeating the pirates, the group makes its way to the cover of the Romanov estates.


Chapter Three
Long Distance Runaround

“The importance of the Romanov estates to the kingdom of Wardovia can in no way be overstated. In its hayday the estates controlled five hundred acres of fertile farmland. Fuel for a growing empire, and all under the control of one family. For decades many noble families plotted to usurp the Romanovs, and take the land for themselves. Ironic, then, that ultimately the estates would be run into the ground by Treveli Romanov, last of the line, who squandered the land, spending his fortunes on every vice imaginable.
Still, the estates were highly sought after. In the right hands they could be the fortune maker they were so many years ago. Unfortunately, Wardovian law prevented the lands to be simply commandeered by the state, and should Treveli die without kin, the land would be auctioned away to the highest bidder. No surprise then that Treveli died an old drunk, murdered in his home, and the land opened up to every ruthless noble and ambitious lord who needed decent collateral to fund more nefarious plots”
- Doncostoni Hanlet – Murdernomics: How a dagger in the heart changes everything

Our next session, things start to come to ahead. Arriving at the manor house of the Romanov estates, its previous occupant lying dead in a chair next to Carnack, tucking into the contents of the larder. Despite this, Carnack insists he had nothing to do with it, and an investigation shows the Black Hand to be the more likely culprits. Exploring the house, the group discover a secret cellar, housing some valuables (which trust takes naturally) as well as some seemingly magic seeds. After spending the night, Carnack has disappeared rather unsurprisingly, and we continue on to the city itself.
This session marked a new set of models for Trust, Azreal and Damon, putting away the Necromunda Ganger, Creed and Sailor models, respectively, for proper full blown character representations. The group hooks up with Azreal in the city, along with Kara and Sakari, explaining their survival of the shipwreck. Asking around, Trust hatches a plan to fake an attack by the city guard on the pirates, and hears that there have been suspicious goings on in the town of Evergreen.
After exiting the tavern, our heroes recognize a character from the previous campaign. The conspiring bartender behind the scorpion egg murders. Attempting to confront him only forces him into battle, and while trying to subdue him, Damon does a bit of overkill with cascade of light.

“Searing while light shot out of the lads hand, its beautiful rays cradled Damons almost tear filled eyes. The beauty, however was soon to be replaced, by the gut wrenching image of the human circulatory system being flotted towards our young hero and his pals.”
- 'Tripshot' Murphy - A Rush of Blood to the Head: The Adventures of Damon Volume 1

After gibbing the conspirator all over our heroes new outfits, they come across an unusual note, which Damon manages to decipher, arranging a meeting of villainous intent, in the Ragnar mountains. Curiously, it seems to be connected to neither the Black Hand, nor the pirates.
Shortly after Trust and co question a trader about the Black Hand, giving themselves away too much, and indicating the Lord Treasurer of the city might be allied to the Hand. That night, the merchants try to silence trust, but fortunately are stopped by Bigg, much to the frustration of Damon, trying for the Diplomatic solution yet again.


Chapter Four
Its a wonder that we still know how to Breathe

“Lythander Kryptmn's scheme during the wandering war, was only the first part of a grander plan. Kryptmn had no intenetion of assisting the Yuan-ti enclaves, instead using their resources in order to get away with an army of scorpions to add backbone to the forces of the Ragnar conspiritors.
The rest of the conspirators were ready to move, the Skull Lord, Skelliath had an army of the undead awaiting east. War criminal lord Khan was 'imprisoned' in the palace tower, being able to eavesdrop on the plans of the Kings inner circle and the workings of Lady Illarana of the Black Hand. Other notable members were Lord Shiabow, King Richards minister of foreign affairs and a key member organizing the Wardovia job, and Chapter Master Wallace of the knights of Helm."
- Silvio de Blum - The Ragnar Conspiritors: The Wardovia Coup

Our team get up to a lot this session. Bigg had disappeared, and as it was to turn out, never to return. Our heroes instead travel to the Ragnar mountains, to seek aid from the dwarfs and investigate the mysterious message. Arriving there, they eavesdrop on a meeting of conspirators, planning to stage a coup funded by the Romanov estates, to claim the kingdom and then go to war on Andavia. The undead army in the east, being stopped by a strange presence in the shipwreck of the Iron Maiden. The dwarfs prove to be unforthcoming, refusing to let the group enter their city without official papers. The group heads back to the city, stopping off at the village of noone for some rest and to rob a magic meat plant and special soil.
In the city they meet a morally scrupulous contact who agrees to get entrance papers for the dwarvern city in return for information on the pirates movements. The group then travels to the town of evergreen to investigate claims that there may be a Black Hand influence there. This turns out to be dead on the mark, and Damon takes numerous magic missiles to the face while fighting towards the towns mysterious caves...

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Peace during Wartime: Brawlers Bawlers & Bastards - Part 1

'The Wardovia Job, as it was to be known as, was a revolutionary operation for its time given the realms more common disposition for honour and chivalry. The cunning King Richard of Andava is still one of the most disputed characters of his time, described by many as having a ruthless and cowardly disposition in contrast to his more popular image of a generous and thoughtful monarch.
With the conclusion of the 'Wandering War' between the Yuan-ti enclaves and the Roc descendants, Richard found himself in the unique position of having no pressing threats against his Kingdom. Only three years ago was the kingdom split in a bloody civil war with Wardovia, its sister kingdom across the channel. The newly elected King Calidan of Wardovia had agreed to an alliance with Andavia, but this was not a popular decision amongst its people, particularly not with the secret society known as the Black Hand, who had many influencial individuals withing Wardovia.
If a true alliance was to last King Richard understood that he must take care of such discontent, without appearing to take offensive action against his new ally. As we now know, The Black Hand were only the tip of the iceberg'
- Simon Deangelo – Peace During Wartime: The Wardovia Job


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Taking the rains of dungeon master, It was time to up the ante with my first crack at a campaign. Being the kind of person who likes, nay, relishes the chance to improvise, this campaign I would not put too much fore planning towards. Our heroes would be tasked on a mission to the late medieval celtic themed Wardovia under orders from King Richard. While there, they would work towards they're ultimate goal by traveling the surrounding kingdom undertaking tasks that would aid them in the final battle, but they would not have enough time to achieve all these tasks, making the final battle have a variety of factors influencing it. With white board, marker pen and generic mooks in hand. Our story began...

“After the successful assassination of the Yuan-ti high command, Jocasta was to part ways, for a time, from her companions, where she was to go, nobody knew, other than she tasked them to meet with two old acquaintances of hers on the outskirts of Andavia.
The Paladin Azreal of the order of Bahamut had clearly been affected by his actions on the previous adventure, no longer a stoic man concerned with delivering divine justice on behalf of his God above all else, Azreal was now a more foreboding man, a heavy heart, throwing himself into violent conflict, seemingly to take him away from the responsibility of moral deeds.
No such drastic changes however for the tiefling Trust. As before, her current priorities were simply to make money, through legitimate means or no, and she would walk the long early spring roads even for the mere suggestion of a big payoff.”
- Roma Drangasti – Beyond the Wandering War

Returning from our previous campaign is Trust the kleptomanical Teifling and our Paladin of few words, Azreal, now downgraded to Lawful neutral by request. Trust was to remain her self centered self, maybe even developing more of a sadistic streak. Azreal went through a significant character evolution throughout the campaign, though not necessarily in a way you'd expect. They're first task, before the introduction of our other player characters, was to meet up with two old associates of Jocasta's, who were the first of many influential characters I had decided to include to create a backbone and identity to the campaign.

“Sakari Gempeitōkitsu was an orphaned immigrant from the east who grew up tending to the once great library of a small village known as Fostaf. Often neglected by members of the village, Sakari ultimately led a very empty life, enriched only by the worlds the books could provide stories of. Her means of escape was to come about when, during the Andovian-Wardovian civil war, when agents Loggo Logmond, “Chrissy” Dean and Jocasta Laxcroix, took refuge in the village. While information is hard to come by it is believed that Lacriox attempted, or was successful at taking Sakari as a lover, resulting in much stigma from the inward inhabitants of the village, and there are a few accounts of a violent incident between Logmond and Dean. Irrespective of this, Sakari and Jocasta were often close after the conclusion of the war, but as with many individuals involved with Miss Lacroix, were to part ways not long after...

...Captain (Later Commander) Karatrana “Kara” Luxor Regnetris, was a well respected member of the Anavian city guard, who first came to prominance when training under Jocasta Lacroix shortly after the conclusion of the Andovian-Wardovian civil war. The two were often seen as a professional partnership, and Kara's ability soon exceeded her Captain's, earning her own position under that rank. After a fine start to a career, Jocasta was to leave the guard once more, Kara being the only true remnant of her time there. Kara became known as a level headed and forward thinking commander, marred only by a few eccentricities, such as her modified armor and relationship with a certain city librarian”
- Alysoun Mifflinburg – No Dykes to Watch Out For: Mercenaries on the Road Less Traveled

Kara and Sakari were both created when I was trying to come up with a ideal partner for the otherwise material Jocasta. Sakari was a meek somewhat oriental inspired book worm, Kara the exact opposite, A muscular straight to the point warrior woman. In both cases for a time they seemed to work for Jocasta, bringing out the best of her and filling in the holes in her character. Jocasta is as Jocasta does however, and the relationships never worked for long, though as it turns out Kara and Sakari were a perfect match for each other.
In game, the two were to work as important NPC's, Kara would keep the character informed of all things combat related, occasionally providing support to the team as a guest character. Sakari on the other hand would provide the group with background and information, often giving hints regarding quests and jobs, both a good compass to keep the character moving in the right direction.


Click for Bigger

After almost walking in on a compromising situation, Trust and Azreal delver a letter from Jocasta to Kara and Sakari, and they mention that the King is recruiting mercenaries for work in the city of Andavia. So to the city our characters head, and upon arrival are met by a few more interesting characters.

“Having a duel upbringing studying as a cleric of Ioun and working the docks of the channel coasts, Damon was a boisterous and headstrong individual, motivated by nothing more than to get out and see the realms, as was the creed of his religion, in the service of the goddess of knowledge. Having heard of mercenaries being recruited in the cultural of Andavia, Damon drew up his pay and jumped on the first boat to the city, with only his sailors skivvies and the knowledge of a few spells to his name. Damon's introduction to the world, through his involvement in the Wardovian Job, was to be a rough ride”
- 'Tripshot' Murphy - A Rush of Blood to the Head: The Adventures of Damon Volume 1

Our previous DM leaped into this campaign with the Cleric Damon, whom he played as a rather self confident knowledgeable chap, sometimes perhaps a bit too self-confident, and on occasionally rather misogynist too. Damon's stock in trade was to be ham fisted diplomacy checks and obliterating everything in sight with Cascade of Light. Damon didn't pay too much heed to possessions, with his player losing his character sheet several times, his inventory log with it.

“Striking an imposing figure in the predominantly human settlements of Andavia, the goliath known as Bigg could have been the biggest asset in the Wardovian job. His martial prowess had few equals, honed living a harsh lifestyle in the outdoors, reflected by often 'tent pegging' people he would have little patience for. However, pay particular note of the the use of the word 'could'. While showing a fair amount of loyalty to his fellow mercenaries, and showing thorough dedication to the mission, Bigg suffered from a particularly bad case of what is now known as Attention Deficit Disorder. What could have been the killing fist, risks being little more than a footnote.”
- David Davidon - Sticks and Stones: Respect and Dismissal of Goliaths

Our very first, one hit wonder DM also joined us, trying out his new character book by giving a goliath a spin. Bigg Fuckar (ho ho play on words!) was a rather aggressive character with a big emphasis on using camping equipment in combat. In particular, tent pegs. Bigg had a lot of potential as a character, but made it difficult as DM, because he was just so hard to challenge in comparison to the other characters. In time I'm sure I'd have found a way to give Bigg a less easy ride in regards to combat, but unfortunately, was unable to have that opportunity, but we'll get to that in time...


“Carnack Cousland wants only one thing, to be the most powerful individual in known existence. He cares only for this, he lives only for this, he will pay any price for this. I tell you now his history that you may use it as best you can.
Carnack grew up as the second son of Teyrn Bryce Cousland, who brought his sons up as a wealthy noble should. To use they're status for the good of the lands they own, and the people they serve. Teyrn wanted Carnack to train as a fine warrior, to be a fine example of nobility, and to be married off to another noble family to secure political stability, or become head of the family after his fathers death should anything happen to his brother.
Carnack had no interest in any of these things, not money, not women, not land. It is unknown when his disregard for anything but his own absolute dominance came about, but he has often related tales of his jealousy of an unpopular child bullied by his contemporaries. Carnack envied the outcast status of this child, nothing expected of him and free to be his own man. In his twenties Carnack was relived to find his hair had fallen out, making him less of a target for the affections of young noble women. He was to follow this up with fierce warrior tattoos covering his face, which he would later repeat on all portions of his body.
So its was to be, on one faithful day, the Cousland house was attacked by a political rival, wiped out to a man. If he can now be called a man. Carnack. As it turned out, the killing of his family was to be part of a larger conspiracy involving dark arcane powers. Carnack shed not one tear for his family, his lifeline, his legacy. He did not seek vengeance or the possibility of survivors. He coveted only the arcane power, and thanked the day he was given to seek it out.
Since then Carnack has worked as a freelance mercenary, fuel only for he quest for more power, be it martial or arcane. He has been touched not by religion, or patriotism, touched by no woman or the material vices. He has worked to put tyrants in power, then worked with rebels to overthrow them, all so long as Carnack can one day find himself in a position safe from that that struck down his familiy. To never be a victim of fate or chance.”
- Ella Howe – Not Now, Not Ever: Existences most Wanted

Last of the campaigns major NPC characters, Carnack was the second character I created for Dragon Age: Origins. I wanted to do a playthough were I was a complete evil bastard for once, but Carnack took selfishness to the absolute extreme. Carnack wanted extreme power, not monetary wealth or political standing, though if that was to get him closer to his goal then he would persue it. Carnack wanted nothing short to be a god, despite the fact he didn't believe in them. I liked the way Carnack worked so much that I decided to stick him in the campaign, as a sometime ally, sometime antagonist. Carnack could be at odds with the character, but would aid them it they could help him get closer to his undisclosed goals.

So thats the cast, who find themselves in the service of King Richard of Andavia for a special mission to the kingdom of Wardovia, which turned out to have more going on than anyone could possibly imagine, but we'll get to that, next time...