Saturday, August 31, 2013

K12 - The Evil Eye

Recollections from Donarik, ranger of the Ark.

"Bimbo" the troll gets a hatchet blow in the kidneys and another one in the guts
from an unseen dwarfy thing. 
Once that the screaming in our heads stopped, we noticed two large trolls coming out of suspended animation from alcoves in the walls. Khazek-boy and I shot but hit the wall instead. I dropped my bow, drew my axe as I stepped back. I hit the troll really hard in the face and knocked him senseless. As he was teetering, I hit him again on its skull. This seemed to snap him off of his stupor. The troll grabbed me and used me as a projectile on my leader. Khazek dodged, I landed heavily on the ground. Rough day.

Around me, Khazek took over to push the troll back. Drolf and Vadek were about to fell the other troll. A number of orcs were streaming into the hall. Khazek and Vadek covered my flank as I stood up again. Kalin and I pushed the troll back into its alcove and finished him off as the rest of the battle unfolded.   

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Khareo's Tale #5 - A devil's untimely end

In this session, the Lothal sisters are trying to finish the work started in the last session where they confronted a devil that was destroying the life of a noblemwoman. The devil turned out hard to kill, and the first contact ended in a withdrawal from Merbaum (the devil). 

Looking for Lorenz Lothal

The day after the confrontation with Merbaum, the sisters assumed that things would get quiet. They decided to head for the court of Sharna III to investigate the circumstances of their father's disappearance. They met with someone from the chamberlain office. It turned out that this man, named Karmen, personally knew their father. He left the sisters in a lobby while he knocked at a few other doors.

When he came back, Karmen told the sisters that their father has set out on a diplomatic mission to Lorthalen, a sovereign island in the Golden Archipelago. He set out on an independent sailship, never came back. As a result he was declared missing and his salary was terminated a month ago.

The sister went back home and worked for the rest of the day. Martha drew a star chart for her father and found out that within the last 6 months, her father had indeed been in the Golden Archipelago. Not a lot more could be read from the chart. At least the two pieces of information corroborated.

Tracking Merbaum through Khareo

Merbaum entered back into the sisters' lives with the knock of a door. Lady Fremton was waiting on the threshold with the crumbled remains of an amulet in her hand. She explained that the vitality amulet had shattered into the night. Mary recognized that Merbaum had possibly attempted to do her harm, and that the amulet had stopped the ritual. Mary advised Lady Fremton to wear the ring that she made to poison Merbaum since it was also a vitality amulet.

Both agreed that Merbaum would not let got of this easily. They anticipated a time where Lady Fremton could end-up without Mary's protection. Something had to be done, soon. The problem mainly was that there was no way to find out where Merbaum was in the first place. Lady Fremton didn't want to return to her flat for the time being.

The sisters splitted to attempt to find traces of a devil in Khareo. They knew that Merbaum was probably preying on other wealthy citizens in the city. However, the odds of finding any of them bragging about their curse were very low. Mary, whom had a fantastic rapport with the business community, decided to tap into this network to scrounge for rumors. She asked around for anecdotes about recently destitute or otherwise gloomy upstanding merchants. Unfortunately, a full day of running around left her empty-handed.

Martha was at a lost for rumors: most people that she knew treated her either as a child or as a weirdo. She got sneers from neighbors and shooed away from market stalls. Her best bet turned out to talk to Sheriff Stanton, a grumpy horologicalist with enthusiasm for tax collection. Martha had fallen in his good book by being so openly at odds with the local Architecturalist congregation.  

Stanton came back to her a few days later with the tip that a goldsmith called Elmira Acker had suddenly closed shop and isolated herself from her social circles. If her problem came from Merbaum, then he really had found the best kind of professional to harrass.

The curse of Elmira Acker, goldsmith.

Merbaum tangled into the net while Martha takes her sweet
time aiming.
When the sisters knocked at the closed shop's door, they were quickly turned away. Martha interjected and mentioned Merbaum by its name. The goldsmith, a woman in her forties, let them in and asked about everything that they knew about the devil. Her story was similar to Lady Fremton, except that her husband had left her a long time ago and didn't get killed by it. The sisters inspected the goldsmith shop and her adjoining apartment on the upper level. They then hatched a plan. Mary convinced Ms. Acker to invite them over that night so that they could ambush Merbaum. Hopefully, to wipe him from her life for good.

On the way home, Mary bough a net in the style used by demonstration fighters at festivals. She spent the rest of the day figuring out how to throw the darn thing. Martha loaded both flintlock pistols and wrapped them in a piece of canvas. Merbaum was about to get a taste of Lothal medicine.

The ambush according to Chloe ( Martha )
Later into the night, the sisters went back to the goldsmith shop. They consulted with Ms. Acker to find a good ambush setup. Usually, the devil came from the back door and got fed on the counter of the shop. Mary and Martha found dark corners in the store to hide.

Merbaum arrived late into the night. He was rude and threatening to Ms. Acker. She led him down to the store and manipulated her lantern such as to have the sisters on the other side of the glare. Merbaum landed on the counter and began wolfing down a few gold pieces.

Mary threw her net at him. He recoiled to dodge but slipped off the counter and landed on the ground, completely tangled. Martha walked to the powerless fairy and carefully shot him to the heart. The devil was leathery tough! Once the smoke cleared, Martha could only see a graze on his chest.  While she switched pistol, Mary hopped on the counter. Martha shot at Merbaum again: a great rift opened in his chest and yellow sparks were streaming out of it. Merbaum had given up on escaping the net and was instead trying to chew his way out.

Merbaum realized that a dodge retreat is impractical atop a
glass counter. 
Mary jumped down to the ground and trample him. She snapped her vitality amulet off her neck and shoved it into the rift. A surge of white light filled the room and the screaming got the best of Martha who fled to the upper level. Mary had been badly burnt by her last move and couldn't move her hand anymore. The devil tried to plead with Mary to let him go: Mary would have none of it. Martha came back in, snapped off her amulet from her neck and shoved it in the rift as well. Merbaum's body was now smoking, his mouth frothing. The sight and the pain from her burn sent Mary retching to the floor. As Martha was about to draw her foil, Merbaum stopped writhing and became silent. The devil had eaten his last golden meal.

The ambush by Sophie ( Mary Lothal ).

Peddling the body

The sisters had a hunch that a devil's body would fetch a good price from an alchemist. After a bit of negotiations, they managed to sell Merbaum's body to one of them for the great sum of 500 silver ( nearly a years' salary). It could have proably fetched a lot more, but this would have required an amount of leg work that the sisters weren't ready to put forth.

Mary and Martha realized that they now had enough money to support their mother and family home while they travel to Lorthalen to investigate the disappearance of their father. Hopefully Mary will be able to recover from her crippling burns on her right hand!

GM's notes: 

  1. A net is a very potent weapon in GURPS!
  2. Sophie had the brilliant idea to use the white magic of a vitality amulet to poison the devil: this is pure awesome!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hit points are for reeling...

As I prepare the last chapter of the Palantir Commission campaign, I am prepping for some extent of high heroics in some dark places. I don't want to loose the gritty touch and the Tolkien feel. This means that heroes in Middle-Earth should be able to shrug off damage without resorting to healing magic and six packs of potions sold by the alchemical ACME company: it just doesn't work with this world.

Wounds are what tracks medium-term character conditions

I see HP as a way to gauge how hard you ought to get hit before it cause long term harm. Buff warrior can take a hit and without flailing, little ones can't. The medium-term effect of a battle is in my opinion the sustained wounds.

HPs are good to track short term conditions

I want to look at HP as "flesh fatigue": a countdown to reeling and the point where a character needs to roll against HT to stay up. For this reason, I decided to buff the first-aid skill as follow:

  • First-aid can be initially delivered to control bleeding and in the process grant up to Margin of Success or 4 (1d6-2 as per TL4 as  per Basic Set), whichever is the smallest. A success by 0 means simply that blooding is under control. This step requires 30 seconds. 
  • After 30 minutes (TL4 delay as per Basic Set). Another First-aid check can be made if the conditions are right, granting again the least of MoS or 4 HP. This step requires clean bandages, splints, balms, and time.
  • Daily healing rates are raised to 2 HT checks per day or rest, 4 for Hobbits. First-aid can only recover freshly lost HPs, not these from previously tended injuries.

This means that as much as 8 HP can be regained within 30 minutes of a wound, assuming a very skilled First-aid deliverer. These recovered HP are, however, not going to negate wounds until all outstanding HPs are recovered. Cripplings are treated normally. I anticipate that wounds will accumulate and force the character out of danger to recover for a few days every now and again.

Addendum, with Nirodel the elf joining the campaign, there will be a bit of healing magic in the commission. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Character Award for the Palantir Campaign, Chapter 2

  1. Compulsory
    1. You are all now very famous as "the Southron". This is a very potent Reputation 3. It isn't worth any points because it is likely to be a either +3 or -3, depending on the crowd. 
    2. All disads coming from wearing the tribal amulets are removed (no points modification).
    3. Stage 1 itemize cp awards for ending Chapter 2. 
    4. Stage 2 cover training and roleplaying while on the Raven
    5. Stage 3 is a preparatory step for Chapter 3, with optional training.
    6. Free points used on skill *must* make sense. Either by use in adventure, or if training allows it.
  2. Optional
    1. Anyone who has been a wraith can buy a 3 pts version of Medium to be able to see and hear into the shadow world ( at Per-2 ).
    2. Anyone may upgrade your spoken Lossoth from Broken to Accented for 1 point.

Stage 1 - Session 16 and 17

  • Arnadil ( 2 sessions )
    • 6 free points
    • May choose to purchase Alcoholism [ -15 pts ]. Alcoholism is a debilitating disad. You may want to consider the milder compulsive carousing, or the made up quirk Must drink away his sorry at the end of a bad day [-1 pt].  
    • Pelvis injury came back to normal in about 15 days.
  • Finbert ( 1 session )
    • 3 free points
    • 1 point in climbing
  • Galdor ( 1 session )
    • 3 free points
    • 1 point in Bow
  • Halin ( 2 sessions )
    • 6 free points
      • Wrestling is eligible (due to sparring on the Raven).
  • Irina ( 2 sessions )
    • 6 free points
    • Gain Careful [-1]
    • May purchase Reputation 1 (Performer) for 5 points, it would have to be valid in Minas Tirith an area only. Point value may be less if not everyone end-up recognize you.
  • Kasper ( 0 session )
    • Lasting injury: Your crippled hand took 1 full month to heal to an acceptable level.
    • Acquire Araliniel's Seeker spell book.
    • 1 point into Fear (Use on Farathu)
    • 3 points to put in any spell, including the Seeker spell from Araliniel's book.
  • Thannolf ( 2 sessions )
    • 6 free points
    • 1 pt in Diplomacy, Fast-talk or Leadership
    • 1 cp for the "GM's awesome rookie playing award". Use this point wisely, son.
    • 2 cp for wrestling (or wrestling technique such as hand grappling)

Stage 2 - On the Raven

You had a lot of time for yourself! Here is a breakdown of free time that you may allocate to skills. Tell me what you want to improve, and how. I'll let you know the odds and whether you get character points out of it.
  • 400 hours ( 8 hours per day )
    • All but Thannolf
  • 150 hours ( <4 hours per day )
    • Thannolf. You free time is restricted by your contract with Vacros and your compulsive need for carousing.

Stage 3 - In Minas Tirith

In Minas Tirith, here are your situations for the coming 30 days:
  • Arnadil : Stay at home and rest. No incurred cost. 240 hours of free time ( 8 per day ).
  • Finbert : Need money to pay for a 2 celebin/day lifestyle ( rent, food, parties ). What is your plan? 
  • Galdor : Need money to cover a 2 celebins/day lifestyle ( claim to hospitality, expensive tastes, gambling ). Will stay at fellow Dol Amroth noble home. May work as Legal apprentice, may work in the city watch, may just have fun for a month.
  • Halin : Need money for a 2 celebins/day lifestyle ( rent, food, ale). Is free to work, research or do as he pleases.
  • Irina : Needs money for a 2 celebins/day lifestyle. May perform to make a living. Some free time during the day.
  • Kasper :  May remain at the services of Galdor, or go alone. Either way, will need about 2 celebins/day. May return to Anorien to family estate.
  • Thannolf : Minas Tirith is your playground! Your Northmen social stigma doesn't apply here, neither is the criminal one. What gives?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

K11 - The obsidian tower

Phew, is has been a month since the last session of Reclaiming Khazad-dum. We left our dwarven heroes in the midst of a magic attack on top commanders of the dwarf vanguard.

Diary from a Murik "tumbletorque", war drummer of the Ice Lot

An air of confusion and excitement had overtaken the camp. The rants of the sergeant major were overridden by the Attack-Lord's own monologue. People were digging holes and filing them back in. A bad scene.The victory to take the bridge had been followed by another to the north and vast amount of ale had been seized. The word on the lines was that the ale would be kept as personal loot by the brass. This rumor didn't please the dwarves. Our commander, Kalin "Stronghold", a noble from Aglarond had entertained us all in the afternoon with his antics. As the night fell and the orcs became restless, the commanders were all of a sudden nowhere to be found.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

045- The longest day on Middle-Earth

This session picked up at the height of a cliffhanger from last session. Arnadil, the company's moody but fearless leader had fallen off the mast and seriously injured his pelvis. Kasper, the squire with spells, has managed to climb up to another mast with only one hand working. The rest of the company is running around trying to hit a winter drake hatchling which is having fun ripping off the ship's rigging. It was dark, in the middle of an unnatural snowstorm, and the company were caught in this while binge drinking, following the death of their friend: Araliniel the seer.

Act 45, Scene 1 - Slipping right through the fingers

One thing that got clear for both parties was that this combat wasn't going anywhere fast. Thannolf began negotiations. The drake asked all to lower their weapons, and in turn the snowstorm immediately subsided. The drake pointed out that their ship was getting in a terrible shape, and that they would need it to escape the angry Lossoths from Mulkan. He pointed out that his army would also be there in a few hours to collect his treasure. He proposed to stop thrashing the Raven against both Southron stones and the gondolin sword.