Sunday, January 12, 2014

Out of the Storm: Actual Play Report, January 4th, 2014

This is the first play report with my new D&D group, a combination of local players in Korea and G+ players from in the USA. If you have been following this blog lately I have been writing about my Swords & Wizardry Home-School game. Home-School is just like any other set of house rules. I have taken the S&W Complete rule set and hacked it... to bits. I am using many classic OSR house rules (e.g. Shields Shall be Splintered!), inspiration from other rules sets (Whitehack, Dungeon Crawl Classics, etc.), and the DIY D&D scene (Zak, Akrasia, and Brendan to name a few) to source the ever developing rules that are being played at my table.

The group is a mix of all generations of D&D players and a complete newb.

Rolling up characters took about forty minutes. More familiarity with pre-3x D&D for my players will cut this down to about fifteen minutes... or less if a player just rolls up ability scores; selects race, class, and vocation; and then gets right into the game, filling in the blanks as we play. Speedy character generation is a must. It facilitates "Old School" play (ie. frequent deaths) and it makes getting into the game for a new player fast and easy.

The Party:
Sam Adams-A runt of a Du'erg (bald, pointy-headed dwarf) and sly con artist from the Iron Canyons of Grondar.
Boss Wiggans-A M'srian (human) cultist, worshiper of the Eternal World Serpent, Shoetek, on a pilgrimage to cleanse the Seven Thurian Kingdoms of their false gods.
Tiny Conan-A Lemurian tribesman (human) and professional thug, built like an ogre with a personality to match.
Johnathan-A Lemurian (human) mercenary and military leader who has traveled the barbarous south, leading soldiers and bandits alike.

I am using Tom Moldvay's Dungeon Module B4, The Lost City adventure module to jump start my new campaign. I have been liberal in my modifications and additions to original the module.

All four party members had in recent weeks signed on as guards for a miles long caravan, traversing the ashen wastes. The caravan's terminus: the ancient blue walled city of Tyre, the gateway to the great cities and even greater riches of the Seven Kingdoms. As the caravan snaked its way along the ancient highway an ash storm approached. It blasted the caravan. Pack animals and their human masters scattered to find shelter. The party members sheltered themselves underneath an overturned wagon, slaughtering  mules and using their bodies as barricades, keeping the flying ash out of their shelter.

The winds howled for hours. After the wind died down the party emerged. They recovered their equipment and quickly scrounged for supplies; they managed to gather a couple weeks of canned rations but only one skin of cheap, tasteless wine. They took stock of their situation. The ancient highway had disappeared beneath the ashy silt of the storm. Johnathan estimated that they might be less than a week or so south of Tyre and that if they hustled, and with a little luck, they would be able to survive the journey relying on only the juices of their rations and a few swigs of wine each to keep themselves hydrated.  The party discussed the value of spending more time digging through the scattered wreckage of the caravan to search for my supplies. Boss Wiggans consulted the Great Serpent...  he convinced the party that they were better off starting their northward trek as soon as possible.

The party moved across the waste occasionally finding a dead body or some wreckage; they traveled all day without incident. They scavenged some scraps of wood and built a fire. A watch was set. Sam Adams curiosity got the better of him. On his watch he slowly crept over to the sleeping form of Johnathan. Sam reached underneath Johnathan's cloak, searching for anything of interest. His deft hands started removing a heavy, golden signet ring from Johnathan's hand. Years of travelling with bandits and other unsavory types had honed Johnathan's senses to the point of healthy paranoia. He has become a very light sleeper. His other hand darted out, catching the Du'erg red handed. "What are you doing?" he quietly asked. A less than civil conversation ensued. But no blood was shed. After going back to sleep Boss Wiggans took the watch. He heard sound on the other side of the dune behind which they were sheltered... as stealthily as he could he crept to the crest of the dune. He lay down and peaked over the dune's uppermost edge. A four legged, blue-green, elephant sized pack lizard called an Orgame' nosed about a small pile a wreckage. It's large, flat footprints led to the south, parallel to the party's. Wiggans noticed the torn saddle and damaged bags which were attached to the beast. His affinity with all that is reptilian instantly put the lizard at ease. The lizard quickly warmed to its new master. The party brought the animal to their camp and tied it up. The rest of the night passed without incident.

The next day the party continued northwards. The party paused as needed throughout the day but kept travelling to the north, the ashy sand making travelling slow at times. Using the Orgame' as a mount made the party's situation much less dire. About mid day Johnathan spied a humanoid figure slumped over a small, open, wooden chest. The party closed with the figure. He was dead. He wore tattered clothes and had nothing on him... maybe another victim of the ash storm? Johnathan pulled the corpse off of the chest. A small sack of gold coins fell from the his hands along side a small terracotta flask. The flask's stopper was lay on the ground. The dead man's mouth and nose were stained black. Boss Wiggans examined the opened vial carefully; it was empty. Another still stoppered vial sat in the chest. Wiggans took the closed flask and carefully placed it in a small pouch. The gold was divided evenly. The party continued its trek. As dusk fell the party saw a small, domed structure on the edge of the horizon. The party halted a few hundred meters from the weathered stone building and made camp. A watch was set. During the night the party was awakened as six metal clad humanoids crept up to the structure. They carried tools with them. As the party watched, hidden among the dunes, the humanoids used the tools to smash something(s) in the small dome to pieces. The party heard the smashing but chose to stay back and observe. The loud noises ceased. The humanoids left, going north.

The next morning, after eating, the party cautiously approached the small dome. The weathered dome was made of squared, cut pieces of stone which had been carefully placed together. The dome was ancient, its lime mortar having cracked and blown away centuries before, leaving only small chunks of lime stained sand at its base. One side of the structure was open to the elements. The dome contained only one small room, approximately ten feet in diameter. Inside was a small altar. The recently smashed remains of three statues lay strewn about the chamber. Upon the altar sat a stained black statue of a grotesque creature. It had rough scaled looking skin, massive clawed hands and feet, and a single protruding horn from its forehead. The tracks from the metal clad humanoids led to a weathered, stone paved path. The path continued north. The party followed the path.

Cresting a small hill the party discovered, pushing its way through a mountain of sandy ash, a stepped pyramid of tumbled, cut stone, similar in construction to the small dome of the previous day but on a much grander scale. A wide stairway climbed its way up the pyramid to the structure's zenith. Atop the pyramid was a flat area with another smaller dome, like the dome from the previous night. The party climbed the stairs. The dome at the top's open side faced them. Inside the dome the party found three more battered crumbled statues. They explored the area, Sam moved around the backside of the smaller dome. He discovered a heavy, stone slab, trap door. He easily discovered it because jammed in the door was a large (7') humanoid corpse clad in heavy iron plates mixed with mail. It wore a masked helm. A corroded crossbow bolt stuck from the unknown creature's chest. The body was pulled out of the trap door while Sam Adams jammed a sword in the door to keep it from closing on the party.

After a few minutes of discussion the party decided to enter the ancient pyramid, hoping to find water and supplies.

The party did quite well for their first time out. They gelled pretty quickly and chose not to kill each other even when a thief was caught in their midst. I was disappointed that they chose not to engage the six humanoids at the small dome but the made a smart choice... monsters do like to kill shit.

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