Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Session Report: The Aldsburg Chronicles [A1]

...in which the players create new PCs as a group and decide the Undercity is bad news...

Rebooting Aldsburg
While there were some good moments in the new campaign one of the things that kept coming up was party in-fighting about the morality of actions.  In my heavy metal gritty pulp adventure setting this is really really boring for me to run and, honestly, taking away from the tone of badass adventurers looking for lost treasure, causing social mayhem, and generally being "adventury".  So while we were grilling before the game on Sunday, I proposed that we shelf the existing characters (low level anyway) and as a group come up with a new party.  There was a bit of grumbling, but everyone agreed.  Phew.

Group Party and Character Creation
What our game looked like except we had more beer and were louder.
Image from http://digital-art-gallery.com/picture/4639
While we were enjoying excellent food grilled by J. and a fantastic tomato feta basil salad made by my kick-ass wife I asked the players to figure out what kind of party they would like.  Don't worry about character classes or what they want to play specifically, but what kind of game they want to have - starting with the tone and style of party.  A lot of italics there, but I also stressed that this is going to help drive the overall game experience for these guys.  After some false starts, they got into it.  Way into it.  My only guidelines were that I don't want to run a game for evil characters (I don't find that particularly fun) and they need to work within the existing Aldsburg Campaign.

The group decided they were going to be some "underworld businessmen"A little smuggling, some light racketeering, perhaps offer a bit of protection to a group of working ladies of the "seamstress guild", adventuring for profit, maybe some simple mercenary work.  The group is definitely not evil (a bit morally ambiguous and that is fine) and has some specific types of activities that they get into.

Everyone then proceeded to roll dice and create characters.

As the character were made, I started asking players about other player's characters.  Everyone got to declare a "Damn True Fact" about someone else.  E for example declared that J's character (Alois) was unable to not purchase fruit when he come across it - the guy just loves fruit.  B declared the M's character was stolen from his real parents who later killed his "adoptive" parents but then abandoned him because he was already "raised broken".   It was fantastic.  I made notes as we went and handed out some small bonuses based on what the players said about the other characters - small bumps to skills, that sort of thing.  We also set up the relationships this way.  It was pretty awesome.  And, most importantly, in the end we had a cohesive party.

HackMaster is a tough game and I have no problems letting PCs get in way over their heads and die off.  When new characters come on board,  they are going to come into an established group of characters and the player can work within that framework.  This should smooth things out and make the game move along at a good clip.

Also the four players ended up making a party that contains 1 cleric, 1 fighter, 1 mage, and 1 thief.  Gawds Bless the Old School.

Player Generated Rumors!
One thing I've been wanting to do for a while (and started this campaign) was to have players generate rumors about what is going on and base adventures on that.  A lot more of me winging it, which is tough, but I love it.  More importantly, though, it brings in more thoughts and plots and we now have 5 people (4 players and 1 GM) generating things afoot in the city rather than just me.  In the end these are rumors and may have nothing to do with the truth, but it gets things moving.

Players have the ability to go on the type of adventure they want and everyone is more into it.  And and and it makes the city feel more alive and dynamic, which is fucking great.  If you want to read them check out my previous post.

A Brief Adventure to find Loot
It turns out that investigating an abandoned bakery that is haunted and no one has ever returned from and finding piles of gold and jewels is beyond tempting to a bunch of adventurers.  Top Notch.

The post is getting long, so a few highlights.

  • Someone fell through a rotting floor.
  • Everyone went through the hole.
  • They found a temple to the dark daemon-god Axterlix (an aspect of the most fearsome and vile Demogorgon).
  • A worshiper (identified later as Larissa, companion of the adventurer mage Titus Crow) was found speared to the wall.
  • After some puttering two monstrous beast men were encountered and fought.  Apparently they are "orcs".
  • Secret door, stairs into the undercity.
  • Fought some weird skeletons attached to wires and metal rods that went into the ceiling.
  • Some wandering revealed a portcullis the party could not open.
  • More orcs on the way and seeing the skeletons being rebuilt (and it was getting real-life late) the party bailed.
Summary
Good session - I really liked the way the group character building went.  Also, the rumors the players are coming up with are kicking ass!  Sweet Zombie Jesus I love it when a campaign comes together.