1st Session - Sunday Sept. 23
The Dark Forces Rising Campaign began tonite, and ran very well I think.
The party is as follows:
Bah-Ra, a Half-Orc Cleric of Daladan (daughter of a human lord and his Orc slave in New Aenochia), who fled at a young age and was taken in and taught to respect nature by a group of Druids, LG (ironically the only LG character is the Half-Orc).
Gehenna, Half-Elf Marksmen, who was found wandering naked in the Barren Wood by Bah-Ra, and the two of whom have found a friendship in. CN
Lord Destro a self-styled "Lord" of Magic, a Human Wizard who is obnoxious, arrogant, self-serving, NE (I decided Aihrde is a setting where one could play NE as more evil in the self-absorbed way, so after talking with player I decided to go this way - especially as the group as a whole has basically turned out to be made up of mainly social outcasts).
Gerydn, a Half-Elf Lore Warden devoted to the worship and respect of the Legendary Dragon Fafrong. CN
Ralfe, a sneaky and very N Half-Elf Assassin, devoted to the skills of the assassin for personal benefit, not really trusted by any in the party.
And, since this party was light on "muscle," there is an NPC: Andre, Human Fighter who is basically VERY strong and tall, but not very bright (M-O-O-N.... that spells "Moon.") He is CG, but has become devoted to the NE Lord Destro because he thinks magicians are the wise ones he should follow. (I have another potential player coming who may play a fighter, at which point I'll figure how to lose this NPC).
The players all began in Ortlof's House of Sludge. I'd never done the cliche of "you meet in a tavern," so we did that out of nostalgia. It also set up getting them together. Bah-Ra had entered town with Gehenna looking for clues to the Half-Elf's past, and had been at the tavern for several days. They found themselves in the common room with the others, and the fact that all were not exactly welcomed in society had drawn them to at least hang out together despite mistrust (especially of the Half-Orc and the Wizard, and the Assasin by all). They began by dealing with their NPC's proclivity to drink "Fire Juice" (aka Whiskey) - and, the Lore Warden engaged the pathetic mage Malinimous in some games of Chess. They talked to the Ortlof's and others, hearing some of the various rumors about Baron Dietboldt, the Molkin twins' dissapearance, the whispers of Volkar having poisoned Clement, etc.
The party became aware of a hooded man smoking in the corner and watching them. Two of the party decided to leave and explore elsewhere (the Assassin went upstairs, intending to search any empty rooms and listen to the goings on in other rooms, the Lore Warden went into the town to find out more about the missing boys.) In the tavern, Bah-Ra and Gehenna approached the hooded man and asked if he wanted something from them. The hooded man asked them to "bring the Wizard if you wish to talk," and Bah-Ra sauntered back over and said "he needs to talk to you" and proceeded to lift Lord Destro intending to carry him. The not-so bright Andre NPC started to pull sword to help his "Lord," and Gehenna also became tense. Lord Destro, hissing a bit, said "you know if you just asked... I only demand a little respect!" Gehenna politely suggested to her Half-Orc friend that, while expedient, just moving the dark Wizard by hand was probably not politic. Bah-Ra considered, sat Destro down and said "I'll never call you 'Lord,' but I will ask politely." Lord Destro considered and responded, "Good Enough."
They sat with the Hooded Man who revealed himself to be Aldadius, the Baron's Mage, who desired a group from outside to do a "job" for him. He wants them to seek out the Witch Neegle in the Barren Wood to get a medicine to cure his friend Clement, who's disease is progressing and will soon die. He thinks Volkar may have poisoned his grandfather, but can't prove it and can't trust asking those around him to leave on this errand. The group, of course, asked what was in it for them, and Aldadius threw a sack with 20gp on the table and said "that's an advance - bring me the cure and you get 5 times that amongst you." The greedy Lord Destro agreed imediately. As he left, the group noticed the Dwarf Gurdin watching them closely. Bah-Ra challenged him, but he only muttered "I'd take you up on that Half-blood if I didn't have more important things to do."
Meanwhile the assassin had searched Gurdin's room and discovered a note, written in Goblin, from the head of the Red Caps saying they had been notified of his presence by Dieboltd and that they knew to not kill him as long as he wore a signet ring with a gaudy S. The ring was with the note, Ralfe took both and left just before Gurdin came back upstairs.
Gerydn the Lore Warden meanwhile sought out the Molkin family and offered to help find their twins, got offered an heirloom amulet to do so since "that damn local Sheriff doesn't seem to be able to do much - them's nobles only care for themselves." She also questioned the farmers about why they brought their cattle in from the fields at night, learned more about the Red Cap raids and also that some Aurochs (cows) had disappeared and others had come back with weird blood splatters on them. Gerydn went to the edge of town, saw the fields south about a mile were next to the cemetary outside of town. She started to go and walk out to check it out before suddenly saying "whoops it's getting dark - I guess I probably shouldn't do that without the rest of the group."
In the morning Lord Destro and Andre had breakfast, meeting with Aldadius again and getting more details on where to look for the witch in the woods. Bah-Ra went to the Chancel and prayed, as well as conversed with Hermannus while the other priests watched nervously as the big Half-Orc talked to their head cleric. Gerydn, still thinking about the cows, asked Gehenna to go with her and they went to the fields. Looking around, they spotted blood stains heading off towards a grove of woods to the S. They got charged by an undead Auroch, moving faster than it should, which immediately got a bite into Gerydn. She also failed a CON check, and became infected by the zombie-auroch (my own adjustment). Gehenna was able to finish it off, but Gerydn was down and dying, and the skin was also turning grey and dark. Gehenna covered the body, ran back to town and got the rest.... luckily they were all at the temple and Hermannus, hearing the description, provided at discount a potion of restoration. They returned, got Gerydn and restored her. Lord Destro commented "maybe this is a good sign we should stick together as a group from here on - we won't gain anything if we run off and die."
They discussed going back to warn the town about the undead cow, but Lord Destro and Ralfe persuaded the group they were already headed to the woods, so they should go find Neegle instead. (Because of this I allowed more destruction and surprise the next day and changed the undead attack to happening while they are gone).
They made their way through the woods to the witch's hovel (I shortened this from the 6-day trek in the mod to one full day into the woods), encountering some of the Sprites on the way. Surprisingly, it was the NE wizard who remembered the stories from the bar of giving offerings of food and who took out some rations and gold, which the Pixies took and departed. Gave him 25 xp for that.
At Neegle's, the group learned of the Vargolg and received her offer of exchange of a cure for Clement if they bring her the "eye of the serpent." She gives them a vile of a weaker antidote to keep Clement alive till they can find it and return. They recognized she can auger because she knows who they are and throws the bones to read the fates of those who ask. Gehenna, of course, asks... and she tells her "you shall learn yourself, but the answer may not be that which you seek" (I have a very Star Wars-esque revelation planned for her now in conjunction with the Witch Queen down the road). She tells the NPC "you will not know old age," and tells the Half-Orc Cleric "you will have to make a decision you will not like." She gives them the divining stone to help find the Vargolg.
The next evening as the group returns to town they find it in a horrifying mess. Undead, both cows and zombie-humans, have swarmed and attacked (they should have warned the town).... they battle and defeat 5 of the undead cows in the fields before entering the town. They turn and kill two at the edge, then are charged by another 4 from up the street. Some buildings are barred successfully, others are burning, bodies are about, some of which soon get up as zombies as well. These zombies don't move slowly - they are fast and vicious. The Lore Warden attempts to turn the 4, but fails. The NPC fighter crit fails (I am using a crit system), and accidentally impales Gehenna in the melee - she is down and dying. Andre the fighter is so upset he just backs up, saying "I'm sorry, I'm sorry" and is so discombobulated he loses his next two rounds. Bah-Ra rushes to Gehenna and heals her. Just as they finish off the four, they look up to see 9 more coming at them. Bah-Ra and others start to run, Gerydn successfully turns the 9, who wander aimlessly. Lord Destro wants to coup de grace them, but the rest are terrified that more may come, so the group flees to the top of the halfling hill (having found the stout halflings barred within their burrows - one takes a shot at the Half-Orc before they realize these aren't enemies). They see from the hill that Hermannus and the clerics are doing battle, and a small retinue of knights and fighters are defending against a small group of undead near the citadel. They decide to go back, killing the turned undead as they pass, then join the clerics battling at the Chancel. Hermannus has destroyed many, but is weakening. One of the other clerics has been bitten and is dead/dying. The group helps finish off the last of the undead here, and Lord Destro points to the young cleric and suggest to Bah-Ra "you might want to finish that one off before it gets up again." My wife, playing the Half-Orc, looked at me and said "tough choice I don't want to make eh?" Then as Bah-Ra she decapitated her fellow Cleric of Daladan.
Thadius and the town fighters (the three left) show up and thank the group for help, and the group asks to see Aldadius. Thadius only will speak to Lord Destro, showing obvious racist disdain for the Half-Orc and Half-Elf. Bah-Ra is enraged and starts to challenge the knight, but the rest hold her back and calm her. Thadius brings Aldadius to the group at the Chancel, and they give the temporary cure. Aldadius asks if the group might, before searching for the Vargolg, find and destroy the source of the undead in the cemetary (since all the undead came from there). Lord Destro again askes, "sure - what's in it for us." Thadius starts to draw his sword on the smirking Lord Destro, saying "you can have the thanks of our town or my blade," but Aldadius calms him, and with a sigh says "if you finish this task I'll let each of you select an item from my personal stores for your assault on the Ridge." Thadius objects, angry that Aldadius will let that "monster" (pointing at Bah-Ra) into the citadel, but Aldadius says "you're down 7 men after tonite - beggars can't be choosers can they?"
Bah-Ra and Gehenna are granted a room at the Chancel, the rest return to the Bent Hook to prepare for the next day.
The session ends. I tell the group that years from now this night will still be referred to as the Night of the Walking Dead in Botkinburg.
The group seemed to have a great time. Originally they had planned to game every other Sunday, but after tonite they asked if we could do it every Sunday so hell yes we are!
It was 1st session CKing for me in awhile, so I was nervous, but I think it ran well. I liked that they were playing tension between individuals in the group, but also (in character) looking for reasons to put aside their differences and come together, and they did it in inventive ways. I have my wife, 3 other women, and 1 guy, so it's a very different kind of group.
Next time comes the cemetary and crypt adventure (my own design), and then getting them to the Blacktooth Ridge environs. I think I feel best that I have them on my basic adventure path but they've mainly chosen how they're proceeding. They had had rumors of the Red Caps raids, and had crossed a recent campfire of Red Caps and decided to stick with the track to see Neegle rather than chase the Goblins at this point.
So I will update future games. I'm just ecstatic to be back playing C&C, and especially feel like a kid in a candy store with all the TLG module material - haven't used pre-written material in a number of years and am rediscovering how fun it can be to use it and meld it to my own campaign.
John "Sir Seskis" Wright
Ilshara: Lands of Exile:
High Squire of the C&C Society