Monday, March 21, 2016

Nightmares of the Black Goat [ACR-003]

... where a party of mages and a cleric learn that the underworld is woeful indeed ...

The Story So Far
This is a quick summary of adventure points rather than a detailed recounting - i'll leave that to one of the players.

  • Micha, a member of the MSR was found dead after a group nightmare (about the Black Goat)
  • Micha was hired for a job related to Marlowe of HouseVonManx
  • Tyrna of Minor House Quin, died in a similar manner to Micha, happened at House VonManx
  • Tyrna spurned Hargran of Minor House Orzin for Marlowe
  • Micha's job was related to love letters from Marlowe to another woman
  • Apparently Marlowe cannot read or write (scandal!)
  • Micha's nightmare was caused by a Somnia Venu'um (Dream Poison) - a creature of the patchwork
  • The create was clearly related to the Black Goat - and may be infecting others!
  • Micha's body was burned and his goods recovered from the MSR, except for one person
  • This was Edmun, friend of Micha and former Blighter (a more powerful gang)
  • Tracking Edmun the party found his body with a pair of multilated halfing
  • Edmun was killed by a ritual magical dagger
  • A nearby beggar says he saw a man in black with gnarled horns run "that way" 30 minutes ago
  • The beggar also pointed to the goat man's "blood money" which he would not touch
  • The party followed a clue and went into the Undercity to follow the now somewhat cold trail of the goat man
The Party
The party makeup was not the standard group ... this lead to some issues.
  • Boreas, 6th level Winter Mage
  • Pendergast, 5th level Dusk Mage
  • Jonas, 1st level Skyward Mage
  • Rena, 1st level Cleric of the Unfettered Raven
No fighters, no thief, and two first level characters among mid-level characters.  The role playing was strong, but the actual strength of the party was seriously unbalanced.  This led to some issues.

A Bloody Shame
After much discussion the party of 4 determined the best course of action was to follow the ramblings of the beggar and the bloody hand-print into the sewers.  Marching order became important.  Who carried the light source became very important.  And when things started climbing out of the sewage to attack the party, all of this became wildly important.

The nasty things were driven off with an incredibly violent spell from Boreas.  The party ran into a small issue with some grates blocking the way but managed to climb to the other side.  There was some discussion of what was carved on the door and what is might mean (a bit of levity with the literacy skill check).  It read "Fynk Of" ... which was a poorly carved version of "Fuck Off". 

After dealing with a rather nasty trap the party managed their way through the door, and was confronted with massive amounts of graffiti about how awesome the Blighters are, how much this or that person sucks this or the other, and that the Black Goat Rules.  Everyone agreed they were on the right path.

Down the passage they go, with the lantern burning bright giving off tons of light.  And then the ambush happened because they were wandering around gang territory with a huge beacon of light.  It went poorly.  While the only non-mage too to the front to protect everyone, a single battle axe blow drove her to the ground and spilled her guts everywhere (-13 HP is a tough place to end up).  A huge blast of hardened snow (hold persons) and an eruption of oily black shadow (smoke cloud) and the party, minus their now-dead cleric, fled.

What Followed
There was some more role playing, but Rena's player took off.  It was a nice day and no one blamed him.  I don't recall much past that moment.  Later I talked with Rena's player about it.  He was fine with the situation - he did what he thought Rena would do but forgot that he wasn't playing his 5th level character who could have likely taken those jerks out or at least held his own while the mages lobbed artillery.  The adventure didn't go poorly because of bad role playing, but because of bad gaming choices.  This first part of the adventure was level agnostic - anyone can follow clues and look for things and interview peeps.  This part, though, was tough and the combat too much.

I Almost Forgot
I got to introduce the NPC Fritz Oon and his Conduit to Lydos.  Basically think of Khan Souphanousinphone (the asian neighbor) from King of the Hill mixed with the vulgarity of Mooj (Gerry Bednob) from the 40 year-old Virgin.  That was fun.  Also I introduced the first bit of "Magic of Scions" into this itteration of the campaign.  One of my players may write something up.  We shall see.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Nightmares of the Black Goat [ACR-002]

I took the time to write up a mystery/investigation adventure based on what we started in the previous session.  The players are still mid-adventure after another session, so I can't write up everything, but a few notes until we get where we are going.

Writing a Good Mystery Adventure is Tough, but not impossible
Writing any sort of adventure is tough, but coming up with a plot that is intricate enough to be interesting but not so convoluted as to be unplayable as a game is a tough line.  I took my notes from the first session and put together 3 things

  1. The Story of who did what and why
  2. A Timeline of events both past and possible future
  3. A Location and Character point-map

Then I let things go and the players will drive the actions. The timeline of possible future events is based on the party not wrinkling the plans ... those will change as the NPCs react to events.  I'll post up more details about the above once the adventure is completed.

The Adventurers as Sleuths
The fun part of this is there is a building sense of dread without any direct conflict.  The party is getting involved in something that is happening - sticking their nose into some dark business and becoming part of the story. They can see that murder is definitely involved, a botched thieving job, love and jealousy, treachery, a class conflict between nobility and the common, and of course dark magic, mind-control creatures from the patchwork kingdom (the Venenum Somnia or Dream Poison), possible infection and outbreak, and the machinations of the most wicked and vile Cult of the Black Goat. Watching the players find clues and weave them into a narrative and expound on possible theories is somewhere in between a law and order episode and True Detective (Season 1, of course).  They seem to be having fun and I'm LOVING it.

This post was delayed ... I was expecting a write-up of the adventure from one of my players but it didn't happen, which is too bad.