Monday, March 30, 2009

Fantasy Campaign Summaries (Continued)

SYSTEM TO DO LIST for Sunday Campaign
Weapon Tables
Character Sheets
Some Additional Definition of Costs
Strength Chart
Armor Chart
More Discussion under Spells and Magic
Stunting and Drama Points
God Powers
Combat Statuses
Critical Hits and Fumbles
Hit Locations

More Campaign Summaries

The First Sirayn Campaign (1991)
Rob, Amy, Paul, Eric, Dusty, Carl, Barry, Jason*, Kenny*, Gene*, Art*
Several months

Crenadar, a half-elemental Elf of uncertain origin agreed to take on a mission to the far west at the order one of the feuding factions among the Miremallians. Too late they discovered their mission involved killing off one of the exiled leaders of a faction there. Miremal itself had become a difficult place with various elements in rebellion. The matter was made a little worse by the group having among their number a Drow Assassin and a Centaur from the Druids of Kislev, easy targets to pin blame on. Reaching Sirayn, the group was joined by Samiir Ajbach, a paladin of Ladnoca. They became involved with the politics of the land and met the Hawk of Ormal, a supposed raider who had in fact been moving back and forth from Ardor through special gates.

Some of the group began explorations in Sirayn, uncovering one of the secret citadels of the Tarakson. They explored the place, beginning to discover some of the secrets of Ardor, including the fact that the Tarakson was a renegade lord of Ardor, master of Time. The Ardorans had apparently been looking towards the world with an eye towards conquest. The group managed to escape relatively undetected, but not before they pitched a container of liquid time through a gate; the end result of that would be to create the Void Drake of Tul Isra who reappeared randomly through the ages to level the city. The group returned to Tul Harar and found themselves called upon to battle against a necromancer in the southern woods. They were joined by the mystical detective Achmed Tracy.

This in turn led them to an old city which held the secret of the location of the lost Anzeti capital of Tanjiim. Evading the Tarakson's men, they entered the great brass stairs which took days to climb. This proved nearly fatal to a few of them, not least the Centaur who found the going rough. The eventually discovered and freed the sorcerer Uthron Rendor, a necromancer for good, or so he said. They also found additional evidence to show the coming of Murkavan, although they weren't sure exactly what that meant. Stealing a flying ship they escaped Tanjiim but found their flight cut short. They battled against agents of the Tarakson, the Lich of Sul Cul (slaying one of his forms), and Murkavan. In the process they came across a powerful artifact, the Eye of Veccna. They decided to travel to Water Hill, capital of the Dwarves, where this item could be destroyed. Uthron Rendor betrayed them, fleeing with a sorceress guest of the Dwarves. The campaign was cut short there, but several things would happen out of game. Rendor and his companion fled to Crantyle; Samiir returned back home to continue the fight against the Tarakson; Achmed Traci would bee captured by Murkavan; and Crenadar and Paul's smith would be caught and imprisoned in Sensalia Itatain's extra-dimensional dungeon.

Memorable Moments: Bob the Midshipmen being eaten by a sea monster, Achmed Tracy's love for stinky cheese, having to lower the centaur down into the dungeon by ropes and pulleys, Gene activating the trap at the top of one of the levels of Tanjiim thereby flattening the stairs and sending everyone sliding down, Paul spending two days climbing down and up the stairs to get his equipment, Barry's centaur being the ugliest centaur ever, Crenadar's Void Wisp evolving into the Drake, Carl making a convincing case for his necromantic skills being for good, Rendor getting the group to kill a mage who had been sent to kill him, Samiir and Crenadar being sent to infiltrate only to realize both characters had the Honesty disadvantage, Paul carrying a forge door with him everywhere.

Gameplay: I'll admit I'm a sucker for chrome in a set of game rules. I'd enjoyed Gurps but when I came back, Rolemaster had added a number of features that we got to try out in Paul's campaigns. By this time they'd produced Companions I-IV, War Law, Sea Law, some other junk and especially the Elemental Companion. The many classes and spells lists seduced me and I decided for the next campaign on the Second Continent, I'd use RM. While it played as well as RM ever did it became obvious after a while that the relative realism/level of power differed hugely between a game run in the two systems. In Gurps you faced the constant fact that a sword blow not only could kill you, but most times if it connected you were likely to be fairly injured. In Rolemaster, yes that same sword could kill you with a spectacular critical, but most times you were simply managing hp, bleeding, and avoiding stun. That combined with the sheer power a character could deal out if they put their mind to it made the tone of the game very different. The new material added to the system also ramped up the game power with each new class. RM had its place, and I would use it several times again, but for the lower power and fragility I would stick to Gurps or Gurps-like systems for the second continent from that point forward. The campaign itself has a weird number of players with many coming in late and others falling out. Achmed Tracy passed from Jason to Dusty halfway through. While there were some great moments, it never quite came together and ended early because of my leaving for Baltimore.

Introduced: Murkavan as a real and present threat on the second continent, the Court of Ardor, Elementalism, the Dwarven Civil War, the Miremallian Civil War, Drowish political assassinations, Sirayn politics, the concept of the Lythic pantheon having other forms, Water Hill, the existence of a first (and hinted at) third continent, travelers from the first continent, the differing kinds of Unlife-- Aether vs. Conventional, Tanjiim and the Anzeti civilization.

The Pillar of Fire Campaign (1993-1994)
Rob, Eric, Paul, Carl, David, Carol, Henry, Mike D*, Kenny*, Charles*, Dusty*

The group began as a select group of Agrikan Worshipers, part of one of the great mercenary-religious orders. Gathered together in Virocana with the other orders, they found themselves betrayed and purged by a number of their fellow orders. The group escaped, making their way south eventually into Prax and the great fallen city of Pavis. There they began to plan how to rebuild and exact revenge upon their enemies. They explored some of the lost ruins of the Big Rubble as well as locating a lost fortress of the Agrik they were able to liberate. They'd gathered resources and allies when news came that the Laranians had taken advantage of the disruption of the Agrikan Chapters to launch an invasion, aiming to liberate the supposed Laranian allies among the Orlanthi from the sway of the Lunar Empire and her mercenaries.

The group sailed to The Land of the Shankara, establishing themselves in the only port city there, a place designed to keep outsiders from making their way to the interior. Here the group plotted and planned further, making mercantile arrangements and undermining the local government. They managed to make their way into Shankara where they uncovered a rich trove of treasures and ancient items. They met and made an alliance with a lost powerful Sorcerer called Nation. In exchange for certain services, he agreed to provide them with support and magical resources. The group eventually overstayed their welcome when the kidnapped, tortured and murdered a number of visiting dignitary Laranians.

Escaping under darkness the group arrived in Laksmi where the King was prosecuting a two front war against a rebellion of nobles and a terrifying supernatural enemy known as the Suldu, a lost evil race created by one of the Sorcerer Kings. The Pillar of Fire restyled itself as a mercenary company, stealing from rivals and eventually finding service with the King. They fought against the rebellion with honor, eventually putting nobles holdings to sword and flame. The profits from this they then turned to increasing their numbers and securing a major position with the kingdom. They found themselves caught up in a mystic game as Yearturn arrived in the capital, where the group were magically slaughtered by a sentient Earthnode. This ritual transported them to another version of the city where they put down a Laranian version of their own company. The group then turned their attention to fighting the Sulda on their own terms, with magic and darkness. They managed to find and destroy the Mad God of the Suldu, now putting these beings in their own control. Even as they began to consolidate their power, vicious in-fighting resulted in the death or vanishing of some of the key leadership of the group.

Memorable Moments: Bringing down the traps on their rival Agrikan brothers, exploring the dungeon of traps, Paul getting many NPCs killed, putting an arrow in Charles' head, Paul running through the streets after he cut his own throat so the spider bite poison wouldn't get him, the expert manipulation of the First Traitor, the awful kidnapping of the Laranian priestess, the Consort, Rob's release of the Broo into Pavis, organizing the army in Laksmi, Rob's killing Paul's mentor in front of the whole camp, Rob's discovery of the Leviathan, the Battle with Ven-Shallay Turican, the mysterious appearance of new characters who had “always been there” during Yearturn, Paul accidentally killing a horse and alerting a few hundred enemy warriors, Carl's s'wa moment when I killed his character by pitching him down a pit trap, the follow-up moment when I killed the entire group, Rob killing Paul after he killed a valuable NPC, Rob realizing his situation and grabbing him and throwing them both into a Death Cloud, Rob out-talking a Halean priestess.

Gameplay: Rolemaster with all the trimmings. We pretty much used everything available for old RM. Again, it went as well as could be expected for that system-- high power and over the top abilities. The game went really well for about the first three-quarters of it. It combined resource management, NPC gathering, organization building, military adventures, mystery and dungeon exploration. The game had come out of three things-- my determination that the third continent would have a religious focus, my desire for a very different campaign structure, and my attempt to copy the success that Rob had had in running a Villains game. I won't run an evil game again-- or at least, as I did with the Vampire game, I'll put in place pretty significant breakers. I handled some things very badly in the last part of the game. That ended up essentially breaking the game because of inter-party fighting. I learned that the claim of “just playing your character” is often an excuse to do pretty shitty things. I should have taken steps to fix the problem before it occurred but I didn't. I ended up cutting the game off and promised to run again after a break, which I never did. I used pretty extensively the Pavis and Big Rubble Module as well as Grimtooth's Dungeon of Doom, both to good effect.

Introduced: The Third Continent, the Wave Theory of History, the association of certain of the Lythic Gods with religious ideas from Glorantha, Pavis and the Big Rubble, the Pale King, the Sidhe, the Sorcerer Kings, the Created races, the Lunar Empire as Agrikan sympathetic, the Orlanthi as a Laranian offshoot, the mercenary companies, the Aperkitas, Yearturn, an Ardoran conquest alternate future, many characters who would reappear as villains in later campaigns, Third Continent hatred of Magic

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