Saturday, June 29, 2013

039 - Old Lossoth Tales to keep the children awake

Session 14 - Frost Wedging part 1 of 3. 

After an eventful day in the Lossoth village of Mulkan, the company headed back to the shore to beat the terror of the night and quickly update elder Taaso on their success in stirring the hornet's nest among the keepers of the Palantirs. 

Act 39 - Lossoth Tales...
Act 40 - We're not in Kansas anymore
Act 41 - Five wraiths in Mulkan 

Act 39, Scene 1 - Returning to Hlechui

The company walked the 10km back on the frozen water of the fjord. The mood was good because interesting points were scored during the day. They headed to the fisherman village of Helchui to report to Elder Taaso. Taaso took their news coldly, and reiterated that he would step in only if Shapithui (the demon) was to be let loose. He stressed that his responsibility as an elder was the welfare of the Lossoth people, and that he would not condone harm to his kind. He expressed doubt that the Southrons had fared half as well as they claimed. This irritated Arnadil who forcefully reminded the elder that the company was capable to take the Palantirs out of the great white north.

Thannolf cooked up a plan to get Reitu (their Lossoth guide) to go back to Hlechui and spread the rumor that the witchcraft done by the Southrons was bound to get Farathui (The drake hatchling) enraged. It would follow from this that the Lossoths should brace for a new onslaught. Reitu agreed to drop this misinformation on the account that if the rumor gets to Mulkan, it may sway the more moderate elements to surrender the Southron stones to the company and get rid of the threat.

The GURPS Middle-Earth Wraith

The Wraiths in Middle-Earth


Wraiths are the souls of once living beings that are denied entry into Halls of Mandos. They can still be seen in the shadow world, and affect any living creatures that project into this world. If you wonder what is the shadow world, think of the parallel plane in which Frodo and Bilbo transferred to when they put on the One ring. 

Who is liable to be affected by pure wraith

For once, elves are immune to wraiths in their pure form. Wraith are oblivious to elves as if they were under the permanent effect of a Avoid-18 spell. 

Other creatures can be affected to the extent that they project into the shadow world. Only creatures and objects that are blessed by the Valars can seen and attacked by pure wraiths. Wraith must have a physical form to interact and see in the physical world. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

K08 - Warmongering into Mirkwood

In this session, we're shifting the campaign to another group of characters. The Ardacer is a military Attack (a kind of unit containing some 350 dwarves). Their task is to open the way and improve the road to Khazad-dum such that the main force will be able to transit when they set out 30 days later. 

The Characters

There are four PCs in the Ardacer storyline. Drolf  ( +Justin Aquino ) is a wealthy dwarf from Iron Hill who has cultivated his personal legend as a hero of war for his whole life. His last feat was to convince the King of Erebor that he was the man to open the march to Khazad-dum at the head of dwarf mercenaries that he himself had bankrolled and outfitted. The first shoe has dropped for Drolf as he got his wish and is now  leading the Ardacer into Mirkwood. Kalin  ( +Alex Safatli ) is an erudite, master crafstman and staunch chauvinist. He has lived his life in the shadows of his brother Gimli and father Gloin. To appease the contingent from Aglarond, Thorin III has granted Kalin the Title of Lot-Herd of Ice: one of the better units of the Ardacer. Khazek Strongmoss is a PC that participated in the previous storyline. Khazek ( +Jason Woollard ) is a young and impetuous dwarf from Aglarond. His demeanor and incredible luck in matter of social interaction has made him a favourite of King Thorin III. As a result, he landed the gig of master trainer for a crack unit of open-sky dwarf rangers (Khazek, unlike Jason, is no teacher yet). Finally, Vadek is +Arne Jamtgaard secondary character in this storyline. Vadek is a straight-laced professional soldier at the head of the Axmens of the Ice Lot, this puts him in charge of 7 guards and overall some 49 dwarves. His main duty is to protect Drolf. Vadek is no politician, he has no sense of humor and functions strictly on a need to know basis.

Character Awards for Reclaiming Khazad-dum Session 4

Here are the characters awards for Session 4 (Thranduil Hall):
  • Bain
    • 1 pt into Sindarin (spoken, broken level) OR Sindarin (written, broken level)
    • 2 pts toward something else than skills.
      • Arne decided to allocate 2pt to add Ngai as a Contact:
        • Effective Skill 12 (Hidden Lore, History, etc), usually reliable X 2, comes fairy often (9) X 1 . Ngai will be using Dream as a medium to contact Bain. This is the coolest two points spent by a PC I've seen.
  • Khazek
    • 1 pt into either Body language or Psychology
    • 2 pts towards something else than skills.
      • Put these towards a Stalker Talent level.
  • Donarik
    • 1 pt into Shortsword (for playing with it... barely enough not to be at default with it).
    • 2 pt towards Fearlessness (chasing a wraith...)
  • Gimvar
    • 2 pts toward Per or 1pt towards Observation
    • 1 pt towards Acting

Monday, June 17, 2013

038 - A diplomatic surgical strike in Mulkan

This session reports on the Palantir's commission first contact with the tribe in possession of two Palantirs. They know that they are personae ungrattae in terra incognita. A number of demons are lurking around, and the locals to be swayed are xenophobic yocals that eat angels for breakfast. The ice is thin under their feet, literally and figuratively.

Act 38, Scene 1 - The Raven gets skittish

During the night of the 26th, a sailor panicked and climbed the Raven's rigging. In the midst of the raves and pleas for help, he appeared to be fending off an invisible foe. The last that was seen of Paulof was when he got plucked from the ladder and dragged to the black waters below. Then there was silence.

The Captain of the Raven reported the story to the Palantir commission members on the following morning. He made clear that the crew and himself weren't paid enough for this kind of travelling. He bemoaned the lack of commercial opportunities and threatened to cut short the expedition. Halin let out a grunt and a stare good enough to cow a troll [ Intimidation check won by +5] [+]. Arnadil explained to Vacros (the captain) that the commission wasn't going anywhere and that no payment would ever be made without their safe return. Vacros backed down [ Intimidation vs. Will, supported by Halin. Success.] [+], but maintained that his crew was getting restless. It was settled that double pay delivered up-front should be good enough to keep the sailors content for about another week of lingering [ Merchant quick contest, won by Arnadil with MoS +2] [+].   

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Character Awards for the Palantir Commission

Social Map

The company have impressed Kirken and Taaso sufficiently to make them sympathetic to their cause, but within very limited parameters. A good reaction means that they are willing to help if it is profitable to them. A very good reaction implies some level of material support, but no risk taking. 

The sailors have been distressed by the perils of the North, and by the visions of horrors that took place during the walrus encounter. It is difficult to pin them down as a group, but their support varies from Neutral to Bad (will do harm if profitable). 

Collective Delusion

You guys are doing great at turning a blind eye to Kasper's spellcasting: both metagamingwise and also in-game. So many things have occurred during stressful situations that each member of the company is under a minor delusion (Valar Patron). The coincidental and convenient occurence of trolls falling asleep, and wraith raids scaring walruses, combined with your encounter with Linluile in Annuminas, has lead you to the impression that you are under the protecting hand of the Valar Irmo. Delusions affect social interaction where you may find natural to point out your awesome patron, while other will simply assume that you have a delusion.

Area Knowledge, savoir faire,

Everyone may allocate 1 pt into Area Knowledge (Forochel), or Savoir-Faire (Lossoth), or Hidden Lore (Forochel), or keep the points as a free re-roll.

Individual Award

  • Araliniel
    • 1pt into Rapier
    • 1 free point
  • Arnadil
    • 1 pt into Diplomacy
    • 2 pt into any social skills
  • Finbert
    • 1 pt into Blowpipe OR Wrestling
    • 2 pt into any social skills
  • Galdor
    • 1 pt into Broadsword
    • 1 pt into Shield
  • Halin
    • 1 pt Diplomacy
    • 1 pt Grip Mastery Perk (allow grip change without a ready action)  OR
    • 2 pt into Rapid Strike (Two-Handed Axe Mace) []
  • Irina
    • 2 pt into Fast-Draw (bow)
    • 1 pt into Disarming smile shtick.
  • Kasper
    • 2 pt into Panic Spell
    • 1 pt into Longsword
  • Thannolf
    • 2 pt into Wrestling
    • 1 pt into knife
    • 1 pt into Diplomacy, Sex Appeal or Detect Lies.

Monday, June 10, 2013

037 - A narrative crossroad into the Palantir Campaign

This session report summarizes the knowledge acquired by the company members on their next step: getting the Palantirs from a very powerful tribe of Lossoth hunters/guardians. The coming adventure is a sandbox: It should be a mixture of many play style, but I didn't plan for the player to solve the problem in any particular way. I cannot guarantee that it can be achieved for any possible course of action. We will figure this out as the campaign plays itself out...

Gwirith 26 FA 16 (April), Bay of Forochel

"Something happened while the Gondorians were hunting walruses. Something bad. This place is evil, and the crew is not willing to risk their souls for 2 celebins a day.", Haram complained out loud to Captain Vacros on the quarter deck of the Raven. Thannolf's attention was drawn by the shouts.  He worked as part of the crew since Tharbad, and had the chance to keep track of the ship's attitude towards the voyage north. He was worried with this turn of event. 

A few minutes later, Vacros and Thannolf were discussing the day's events. The two men were standing beside the two huge walrus carcasses. Vacros wondered aloud whether there was any chance that the carcasses could spring back to life. Thannolf tried to be reassuring, but neither men were satisfied.

"The men witnessed three burst of green energy, or wraiths, coming out of one of the chainmail knights". Vacros expressed to the company the concerns of the crew, and their wavering support for the expedition. Galdor and Kasper denied any knowledge about the green manifestations that took place during the combat. Thannolf further interrogated [ Detect Lies on both, failed on Kasper.] [+] the knights and couldn't find any evidence that they knew anything about it.  

Vacros also explained to Arnadil that he was concerned that there would be no opportunities to salvage scrap metal, nor find clients for their ware.

Consequences :

  • The crews and Vacros' attitude to the Company is decreased to reflect the perceive threat on their lives and the poor commercial prospect of the expedition. The sailors are now vaguely debating about leaving Forochel and cutting short the contract.
  • Since the company keeps on getting help from an unknown and mysterious source of help: orcs/trolls falling asleep, trolls walking pass them, bursts of wraith terrorizing their foes, the company members now collectively suffer from a minor delusion that they are helped supernatural forces when they get in trouble. This means that the company will not shy away from stating this fact out loud, and it will make you look like you have partially lost your marbles. 

Gwirith 26th, FA 16, Forochel, off the shores of Hlechui (Fishermen village)

The Raven arrived near the shores of Hlechui in the last lights of the 26th. Reitu, the hunter from Talta and their guide into Forochel, got off the Raven and made contact with the Chieftain to announce the company's arrival on the following morning. 

Kasper had a sleepless night as a number of tornadoes kept on roaring on shore. Through their roars, he thought that he could hear them calling his name [ Incurring 2 FP of sleep deprivation.] [+]. With anticipation, Chief Kirken received the company in the village on the following morning. He offered them a ceremonial broth and an audience in his hut. The company offered to him the two walruses as a gift and told him about their hunting adventure. Kirken was most grateful and impressed by the donation. He looked upon the 10 walruses heads and told them that they would have to talk to Taaso the Elder once the audience over.

The company got from Kirken that the Southron stones were at the heart of tensions within the Lossoth nation. The Lossoth of Mulkan, a most powerful tribe, were the custodians of the stones and drew from the stones the power to control a powerful spirit called Shapithui. A winter drake hatchling called Farathui was now raiding Forochel to appropriate the stones. The devastation left behind by the Drake's raids, and the looming threat of Shapithui had driven the Eastern tribes to demand that the stones be disposed of. Mulkan firmly refused to this request. Chief Kirken showed sympathy to the company's mission to take the stones back to the south, but caution against the means to accomplish this as Mulkan is a very powerful village. Without the Stones, there is a good chance that Shapithui will be turned loose and exact a terrible revenge on the Lossoth people in retribution for centuries of servitude...

The company then met with Elder Taaso. Taaso explained to them that in the Lossoth Lore, amulets carved from the tusk of the same walrus binds the souls of tribe member and allow them to provide mutual protection against demons. Without an amulet, the living must face demons on their own when the terror descends from the highlands. Tasso also explained that amulets embedded in totems were also used to ward off the tribe's demons. He pointed out at the dozen of totems scattered around the village. The company was most interested on possibly exploiting this vulnerability to strip Mulkan from its defense if the need arises.

Taaso also told them that there was TWO stones, a small one (40 lb) and a large one (900lb). Both came from the Southron King and were recovered from the sea a thousand years ago. Arnadil and Araliniel figured out that the Masterstone of Weathertop (Amon Sul) must be the large stone. This will cause a logistic problem to simply get this stone back on the Raven. Tasso told the company that both stones were easy to access, in a shrine in the village, but that taking them forcibly from a tribe tasked to keep a lid on the Gate of Baatan (an open gate to the underdeep), was simply not possible without a large armed force. Taaso, in fact, didn't advocate for a violent solution: the Western tribe folks are impossible to deal with, but they are not bad people.

Much attention was paid in the nature of Shapithui. This spirit is allegedly a giant snow spirit which travels through ice and crush its enemies by smothering them under ice and rubble. Taaso explained that the spirit's heart contained the amulet of the tribe of Elder Tiani, and that this amulet was the basis for the spirit's control.  The company was most interested in the possibility to swap the amulet to one of theirs to take control of the spirit. They made a case to Taaso to help them take control of Shapithui. Taaso, very reluctantly and probably out of fear of letting Shapithui exact its revenge unchecked, agreed that he would step in if the company was capable to remove Tiani's amulet from the heart of the snow spirit.

A last alternative was presented, which is to appropriate glass shards from the Imenstone. These shards allow their owner to pass into the world of shadows. Tasso, however, cautioned that becoming a shadow was a very dangerous option and that most people attempting the feat do not come back to the world of the living. Nobody in the company showed much enthusiasm at this possibility.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

036 - A walrus called Wanda

In the previous session, the company members decided that a simple charge against 200 walrus was a good way to harvest a little bit of ivory. Why ivory? To satisfy some Lossoth supersition about warding off demons. The intention here was good, and the plan certainly shone for its elegant simplicity. When the last session wrapped up, +Alex Safatli suggested that the engagement was over, which I almost believed to be true. However... wrapping up took an additional two hours of swashbuckling and wraithswirling. BTW, the GM is a flake, we all know that. I really want to commend my players for pointing out how their own disadvantages and situations complicate things: this is bloody awesome that we're doing this together instead of having a GM vs player atmosphere!

This is where we left...

K07 - Diplomacy 101 with elves

This encounter is a continuation of the previous session I was trying to imagine how I'd think if I was a few thousand years old, on a delayed trip to the undying land. I don't think that I'd care either. I kind of dropped the ball as a GM in this session and left unexplained most of what happened underneath. Herion's backstory is funny and related to some of the trouble in this adventure, but maybe this will come back so I'll keep quiet. But that's OK, elves care about the world only on an elective basis. Getting down to the bottom of things of people living idle for millenia is probably worst than fighting the Balrog all over again. 

Giant Walruses in Middle-Earth

The Giant Walrus of Forochel


In the terrifying region of Forochel, only the toughest creatures stand a chance of survival. The Giant Walrus is an example. They live in colonies of 100 to 400 beasts and feed on open-water fishes. At night, they escape the muderous waters of Forochel and spend the night tighly packed on the shore.


ST 19, DX 11, IQ 4, HT 13, Will 11, Per 10, Sp 6.0, Mv 2(land)/6(water), dodge 8(head), 5(body)
SM +1 (5yd), HP 30, FP 15, DR 6(body), 4(Face)
Skills: Wrestling-12 (Grapple with tusks, Slam dmg:1d-3), Brawling-10 (striking with tusks, dmg:2d+1), Intimidation-14 (Effective 16 with in colonies)


  1. Move until 2-3 yards away.
  2. Group intimidation to surprise/paralyse their predator/foes.
  3. all-out attack with Giant Step (1FP) [Their active defense is useless... so might as well.]
    1. Grapple if ends in reach 1
    2. Slam if ends in reach 0 (Slam counts as a grapple, but with their huge bodies.
  4. Follow-on actions
    1. Strike pinned/choking opponents 
    2. Pin slammed/Grappled foes (+6 SM+1, +9 SM-1)

Walruses use an aggressive tactic designed to protect their females and pups. Once threatened, they concentrate the weak elements inside the colony and form a solid wall of mature males all around. They will remain tightly packed as to avoid being attacked from the side or the rear. Once a predator gets in range (2 yards or so), they will coordinate a group stomp-and-scream (Intimidation-14 (individual), Intimidation-16(group)), which margin of success is applied as a penalty to a Fright check. They will repeat this maneuvers a few more times during an attack on the colony. The collective stomping is also liable to weaken the ice underneath their body. If the colony feels that it cannot repel the predator, it will endeavor to shatter the ice under their body in order to drown the threat. This has a downside to them, as plunging in the dark waters at night expose them to the terror. They won't resort to this unless they females and pups are endangered.

Engaged, the Walrus will charge and attempt body slams (Wrestling-12). Their main strategy is to pin foes to the ground and smother them. In case of imminent danger in doing so, they will resort to crushing attack with their strikers. This is more a plan B for them. They will often gang up 2-3 walruses to attempt to overwhelm a predator. Once a foe is pinned, the walruses will strike with their tusk to finish their victim. 

During the day, they will tend to flight if a few walruses are killed. At night, they will fight aggressively until the ice under their feet is shattered. They will not fly into the dark waters of Forochel.