Players are a surprising bunch! One of the reasons I love to GM Legacies adventures is the fact that players are given the choice to influence the storyline. To allow them to do so, the campaign material is open-ended, and although I sometimes guess where the PCs choices will go, I usually end up surprised.
Ablaze went the Swamp, the first interactive battle of the Battle For Gytha series kicked off a little late on Saturday night. I will admit to have stacked the deck against the players.
Before I give you some of the stats, allow me to talk to you about the format. The game could accommodate up to twelve players (I only had six, which I believed turned out in the players' favor). This was a battle interactive-style, so it was not so much a political or social scenario as a battle, or in this case: two battles! Almost everything was designed not around CR, but based on PC levels and numbers.
For example, the first battle had 1 hordesman per PC, 1 wolf per PC lvl 3-4, 1 dire wolf per level 5-6, and 1 bulette per level 7+. These would "appear" at the same time, but they would not all reach the PCs together... Yes, it was brutal.
The adventure opens on the PCs escorting a number of wagons (the number of wagons was 2 per 3 PCs). Unsurprisingly, the Janus Horde showed up and attacked the PCs. My secret target: destroy the wagons. I will admit that I came REALLY close to destroy all four of their wagons. I destroyed three and the final one was damaged some. I used a simple dice system to determine where the archers fired and if their arrows damaged the wagon/content with their flaming arrows. It allowed me to do this quickly on my turn without using a pre-determined outcome.
New players often react negatively to the Protectorate's brutal and genocidal approach to conquering the Janus Horde. However, after one or two skirmish with the Horde they quickly understand why they do so and in turn perpetuate the brutality. This was no different.
Next, the PCs reached their intended destination: an outpost on the edge of the Merzkyi Bog. A little bit of social interaction and the PCs were sent to reinforce a minor garrison to the north. Bring the troops a few supplies.
However, the small outpost of Zcerkov's Farm was under attack by a large force of creatures. There were a number of elements on the board the PCs could see: large wereboars with cannons on their backs in a village, an enormous dual-axe wielding wereboar, and a family of ogres. They had
Here the PCs' Notice scores (remember the Notice/Damage from this post?) came into play. Thanks to Nate's excellent and off the chart score (24), I didn't have to worry about it. I had a few extra goodies: one group of lycanthropes, my ogre wereboar rangers, were natural lycanthropes instead of afflicted, and the first major NPCs (the General, the clerics, or the artillery) the PCs activated went for him as a priority target.
The PCs' highest Damage score, held by Randy's character (who was on his second adventure), controlled the speed at which I could activate my more mundane forces (I could bring 1 hordesman per PC or 1 wolf per PC, or any combination thereof). With a Damage score of four, it was rather slow.
My goal for the Horde victory was to delay the PCs. The PCs' victory conditions, which I did not tell them ahead of time are as follows:
- Defeat general Sublurg
- Keep the flag of the Protectorate flying
- Defeat the horde artillery
- Defeat three Clerics of the Dragon
The players really worked well together and in spite of taking the Horde's beatings from a variety of sources, they managed to return the flag of the Protectorate to its glory and defeat general Sublurg, a wereboar marsh giant.
The Janus Horde went down fighting, forcing the party to take a LOT of healing... The enuka wererats, the ogre wereboars, all of them did a fair amount of damage to the party. But they did not panic or did anything foolish and thus managed to live through the onslaught. Forcing the wereboar to move and prevent him from getting a full attack:
Melee +1 handaxe +18/+13 (1d8+12/×3) and +1 handaxe +18 (1d8+6/×3) and gore +13 (3d6+5) and that is without Power Attack!
The deck was clearly stacked against the PCs and they pulled one out of their rear end.
On the "new stuff list", I premiered something that I never offered before: tradable certs. A small, limited number of these certificates can be traded between players. While I do not want to open trading of everythingh, these items made some sense to allow them to be traded. So I decided they should be. They add some variety, I think.
To make those of you who missed it, here are some of the goodies to make you salivate... there was a unique title, one-time access to a cohort*, an illegal item giving the wearer access to combat feats 1/day*, a slaver's license with additional benefits/drawbacks*, and title of Hero with a set of courtier's outfit that provides additional benefits when worn*. Only one of the titles was not given as no one worked for the patron that offered it.
PS: Thanks to Nate for the pictures!