Running around town,
random travel leads nowhere.
Good crit! Back to town.
This weeks session was both the best and worst of times. One of our players can now only play intermittently, and he's the one I've gamed with longest. There's a thread of continuity in life, and when I look up at the table and see four players that are completely different people then the three I started with back in 2008, it unnerves me a little. I know people who used to game, and when I look at their lives (too busy, no group, etc.) free of gaming, I hesitate - grace and chance go before me. Role-playing is fundamentally a relationship activity. And like any relationship activity, it's difficult to coordinate - even if you can find a partner. So when there's a group, and it's not beset by problems (it meets regularly, the players are mature, everyone is having fun), it's a special thing. Don't think I don't know the value of that.
On the other hand, I don't know how it was for the players, but the Sunday's session ranks as one of my favorite sessions to date. It was a lot of fun for a variety of emergent reasons. Things were disjointed, and a bit chaotic at first, but that was to be expected. The party (amazingly) has survived, and is starting to reach that middle power level, where they can journey away from town without needing to return every few minutes. I have a few NPC's that I enjoy playing. The following isn't chronological, but it hits the high points of the evening.
Kyra got to train for second level. She had no one to train her, but it turned out one of her masters followed her in disguise. His name was not given (nor asked for) but he is TERRIBLY MYSTERIOUS. Their short interaction was characterized by him giving her bits of wisdom such as "To train your experience, you must experience training!"
Once they had gone out, she took a pretty serious critical to her hand, doing enough damage to disable it (almost enough to totally remove the limb) and causing internal bleeding, as well as the disease caused by those wild dire rot dawgs.In order to heal the damage, she converted to the worship of Klax, apparently in name only, as she reversed the little beetle cloak when she left town.
Grigori went ahead and used the corrupted spirit of the raised snake-man in an attempt to subvert the curse of the snake-man. While this was happening, I had the interesting experience of looking up the spell and discovering that to cure sorts of lycanthropy, the cleric caster must be 12th level. That not being the case, and the fact that the snake-man bite is a special sort of curse, I hand-waived this away. Since the corpse was not fresh, and he was using strange tinctures and potions in order to delay the curse far past the point it would have taken over his soul - the cure technically worked, although it left certain residual effects that remain to be discovered.
Aroldo went and had another conversation with Jayla the Black, the cautious gnome to both retrieve some antiseptic as well as identify some herbs. She only communicates with the party though a slot in her little metal door two feet off the ground. It's fun to role-play her high pitched voice, paranoia, and sardonic wit. There's always lots of laughter whenever someone chooses to talk to her. Aroldo offhandedly mentioned that they were no longer in the country of Albion, that they were in some strange continent to the west. She was incredulous at the very thought, leading the party to wonder if she ever leaves her little metal hut, and indeed if it had been transported here in toto without her knowledge.
Arolodo's player had rolled up another character as a henchmen. To offset the difficulty of dying and having to start from scratch, we allow henchmen to be around and to gain levels, so they can be taken over in case of death, to avoid the player having to start from level one. However, he took several flaws, perhaps too many. There is a Quirk & Flaw system in Hackmaster. At a certain point, the flaws become compounded, and tend to get away from you. Taking two is usually pretty safe - I'd never take more than four. One of my players routinely takes five. In general, taking that many flaws is almost always a trap. Especially if the player is doing it to offset low stats.
I don't know if my players have noticed, but stats are primarily irrelevant. It in fact explicitly calls this out in the GMG. "Most player characters put too much importance on their Ability Scores. . . if you want to reward someone, increase one of his abilities. They will think this is a much bigger gift then it really is." This, of course, plays out at the table. No one is denying that strength for a fighter can increase their efficacy, but when looking at the options of how you create your character, a package or an appropriate background, or any character in the game with money, can far outstrip an additional point or two of damage per hit (or hitpoint or three per level).
Regardless, his henchmen has enmity towards halflings. This flaw means that when he thinks he meets halflings, he must attack them and attempt to kill them. So, without even realizing it, one of the groups that came over on the boat was a group of halfling slingers. Of course on the journey he attempted to kill them, and was overborn by the mercenaries on board. So he is sitting in jail sentenced to death for seven counts of attempted murder and a bevy of lesser charges. I don't exactly know how this situation will resolve itself - the player had an idea of 'sending him back home on the next ship' because it would be cruel to let him die. He was also pretty explicit about not wanting to break him out of jail. (Of course, when they actually talked to him, I could see why they didn't actually want to take responsibility for him, what with his plan of murdering everyone who was a halfling-loving freak.)
They went west, and discovered two giant (200') Zunel statues made of strange green translucent stone. They stood facing each other on this desolate plain, their owners having abandoned them uncounted years before. Between the two mighty forms was a buried building, the top of its dome still visible. They descended and began to explore. The floor was covered in a mural visualizing the theory of portrals and travel though dimensional folds using portals. The walls were made of strange dark grey translucent bricks, a dimly glowing rune encased within the center of each one. Each door contained a strange carving.on it's opaque glass like surface.
They did several interesting things once they descended. Within moments of walking around they found a staircase which they immediately descended. This was extremely unusual for the group, normally they are very. . . through. They had an altercation with the aforementioned wild dire rot dawgs. This was even more strange. The dogs were at the bottom of the stairs, so they greased the stairway. The dogs, having an intelligence of low, know well enough to only attack prey once it's off the staircase. So the party came up with the plan of tying a rope around Aroldo's waist and shoving him down the greased stairs so that they can shoot the dogs that rush foward to maul him.
Aroldo is the party mage for those of you just tuning in.
Unsurprisingly he was bitten, though they did manage to kill several dawgs before yanking him back up the stairs. They then sent down the fighty folk, and made somewhat quick work of the remaining dogs.
They explored a little to the west and ran into several 'fish men' (I'm obfuscating the real name). This was the first time they'd encountered an intelligent enemy and I was so pleased with finally getting the chance to parley. I got a glass of water and used it to help my fish voice. Grigori talked to O'laoiob, Ckhhskol, Mrbblblrbl, and Frank, discovering that they 'came up from below' and were 'hanging out here, drinking this wine' and that their general plan was 'to murder all surface dwellers and take back the land into the sea, but you seem like a great guy, why don't you come drinking with us?' The decision was quickly made to murder O'laoib and his friends which was done without much difficulty. It was sad to see them go, but thankfully, there are millions more where they came from. Also, it provides an interesting prospective of evil creatures in a universe where objective good and evil exist. Being so low level, they don't yet radiate objective evil, and their races plan is certainly malign, but these four guys, were just in the wrong place in the wrong time. This encounter was tremendous fun to play, as well as the voice.
It was decided to call an end to the night there.