This session we had a loss of players, so decided that the two who were able to make it would make new characters for a side-campaign. It was an amazing disaster, a vignette into the world of the adventurer, and pretty damn fun.
Drogo the scoundrel was a petty thief, scheming cartophile, and was sorely lacking in moral fiber.
Izzy the wizard was an escaped slave from a Lydosian Research ship that made his was on the tides to Haven along with his physically wrecked former mentor Jimmy.
Jimmy wants a meat pie. Jimmy thinks it smells down here. Jimmy, formerly Sir James, was Izzy's henchman (the henchman rules work really well)
|Side Note: the Henchman Rule|
Roll your stats and total the action modifiers. If the total is 0 or less, then the character is a henchman, not a playable adventurer. Set them aside and roll again. Keep rolling until you get a viable player character. You can keep 1 henchman that you previously rolled as a loyal retainer for each positive point of PRESENCE modifier.
Both were dirt poor (failed "Working Hard" and poor starting funds rolls) and Destitute (alley living at its finest). A lot of table time was spent describing the terrible memories and backgrounds of these hard luck characters. The were probationary members of the Guild of Defenestration but weren't looking for a dungeon run, so I asked the players what rumors their characters had heard. Two things popped up
- A warehouse in Richardtown, owned by the Guild of Bricklayers and Cobbilists, had recently had some breakins and was hiring unsavory types to guard the warehouse. No Cops. Inquire at the Hogg's Nipple on Bell Street.
- There were several sightings of disturbingly large rats on the Briteside docks. The Sunflower House (Seamstress Guild local 121) near the Briteside reported seeing some sort of unclean commingling of man and rat outside in the back alley.
Getting Things Going
Drogo knew Harry, the Guild (BL&C) Steward and along with his crew met him in seriously seedy Hogg's Nipple. After much haggling and henchman Jimmy getting drunk, the party agreed to the watch job at the warehouse. They were clearly suspicious of the "no sniffing around and mind you post" talk, but had a few hours to kill. Another band was hired for the earlier shift - some tough guys that were always getting jobs first.
After a successful pickpocket on a minor noble slumming in Richardtown, the crew went to the warehouse. No=one answered the door. after some scouting and climbing up to the second floor window, Drogo saw some wan candlelight.
It Starts to Go Bad
There was stealth and skulking about in the dark. The party stumbled upon the body of one of the tough guys. They found a single candle left on an open crate, various crates opened and contents spilled about, and the bodies of the other tough guys and the guild nightman Smitty.
There were some silver candelabras and other material that looks the like guild warehouse was being used as a smuggling or fencing base - something unsavory. All the stuff lying around that weren't bricks and cobbles was pretty good ... so why was it there?
Izzy peeked into the astral and was immediately swarmed by the Gloom and mosquito. He came back quickly. No one had a good feeling about this situation. They followed a blood trail through the dark warehouse to find, hidden beneath a crate, a grate that leads into the undercity. Sewers and dead dungeons. Uhg.
|GM Thoughts: Clues|
The tough guys and Smitty not just killed, but mutilated, was a clue. The source of their demise was clearly something dangerous and tough. The multiple candles indicated there were multiple foes. The lack of dead foes, whoever they are, further adds to how dangerous they are. The loot left lying about means they were after something specific, not just treasure. Peering into the Astral and seeing Gloom means something mystical is involved. GM Tip: don't tell the players, show them.
It Gets Worse
In the undercity they follow the blood trail and eventually find a dead ratman, his guts spilling out as he tried to hold them in. His end is merciful, but the trail ends. The adventurers wander the sewers a bit, rouse something large from one of the cistern, but eventually find where they believe the ratmen are holing up - in a dead dungeon connected to the sewers (surprise! come on - it was an improv adventure and i was pretty tipsy).
Hearing faint flute and banjo music, the party creeps forward, but in the first room Drogo falls into a 20' pit trap filled with garbage and refuse. Ouch! The music stops, Izzy holds a rope as Drogo climbs out and from one of the other doorways 3 ratmen rush out.
The fight is tough, the ratmen are barely damaged by anything (very high DR against non-silver), but the pit in center of the room features as main point. Izzy gets knocked out, but not before two of the ratmen are shoved into the pit. Unfortunately, the last ratman managed to knock Drogo into the pit, ending the combat and the game.
TPK, but valiantly fought.
- More G.O.D. member go missing on unsanctioned missions. The Guild cannot protect you if you don't follow the rules!
- Rumors about town are that there is a new king of the undercity. a Sir Jimmy, who claims to be king of the ratmen.
- Smitty was post-mortem implicated in a smuggling operation. The warehouse was shut down for a month for detailed inspected. the Guild of BL&C were furious. Parts of the city are falling into disrepair as a second Guild War seems to be brewing.
TPK is both satisfying and unfortunate. I'm definitely not the opponent of the other players and I want them to succeed, but at the same time watching things completely collapse into chaos and death is pretty fun from the GMs side. How many times the players have destroyed my clever plans or circumvented my amazing traps. The TPK also adds some seriousness to the games, makes retreat an reasonable option, and makes success, when it does occur, to be that much sweeter.
What I did like out of this adventure was a bit more flavor for Haven came out. Guilds, neighborhoods, and seedy activity all around. At one point the players were talking about stealing whatever contraband they could from the warehouse and ditching, which would also have been fun and interesting. The minor noble they robbed (from House Doorn) would have come looking for them had they survive, adding some potential political intrigue. ANd during character creation is was learned that Cardinal Tichonderoda has a map that shows a generally unknown entrance into Sorrow.
So while the adventure at had ended in disaster, I'd say the session was a success from a world-building and fun perspective. And after all - this is a game and fun is the main objective.