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Thread: Superball's Age of Mortals Campaign - Key of Destiny

  1. #1
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    Default Superball's Age of Mortals Campaign - Key of Destiny

    Superball, here. Welcome to the campaign journal for my recently begun Age of Mortals campaign! I'd like to take a minute to offer my sincere thanks to my players, without whom I couldn't tell stories like this one, and especially to UngainlyDodge here on the forums. She's my Cleric, and also the writer of these notes! I do some editing, but 90% of the effort is hers, and my hat is off to her for her dedicated note taking and taking the time to turn some disjointed details into the beautiful account you'll read. Character creation was accomplished prior to session one. It has been over half a decade since the last time I'd collected players of my own at a table to play a game in person. If I'd have remembered even briefly how much fun character creation as a group really was, THAT would have been our first session, for certain. I won't make that mistake in the future. Anyway, the hammering out of final details done, we sat down to begin. I give you the cast of characters below:

    Caran Hith Male Qualinesti Elf Urban Ranger 1:

    A tall, wiry blonde and blue-eyed dark elf with a reputation as a "slayer of men". Dressed in scale mail, he carries a two-handed sword, and incongruously, an injured wolf cub in a knapsack over his shoulder. Given a chance at forgiveness, he is tasked with protecting at all costs his travelling companion...

    Jhandra Magfen Female Qualinesti Cleric of Chislev 1:

    A petite acolyte of the militant arm of the Holy Order of Chislev. Loose brown robes cover scale mail armor, and the sword on her hip. She bears her Kagonesti mother's straight black hair, and her Qualinesti father's amber eyes and lighter skin, which shows every scar inflicted by Gyre, the young wild falcon on her glove.

    (I'll pause here for a second, and explain the animals. Companions of any kind, either from the Ranger class feature or the Animal domain don't come into play until level 4. However, my players didn't want to miraculously acquire trained animals overnight, so I allowed them to start with them. They are there for roleplay, and downtime training, and aren't factored into play otherwise in or out of combat. I love them for this. It actually makes sense, and they came up with that solution themselves. Moving on...-SB)

    Almarden Soth Male Ergothian Wizard 1:

    A young arcane scholar from Ergoth whose mixed human ethnicity is evident in his black curls, deep brown skin, and intelligent green eyes. He is clean-shaven, and wears a white tunic and loose brown robes over his slight frame. He carries a gnarled wooden staff.

    Krusk Male Kazelati Minotaur Fighter 1:

    A lanky, young, three-hundred pound minotaur with red fur and a black stripe running down from beneath his chin. He carries several weapons, his favorite being a long-hafted halberd. Crowning his head are sharp black horns as shiny as the bronze hoops piercing each ear.

    Session One: Part One

    (I should note that UngainlyDodge has being thorughly researching the setting and time period with a frenzy that is hard to listen to without breaking a sweat. She had originally included a summary of the history leading up to the campaign which is very well written several paragraphs, but also very well known to the majority of the readers of these journals, so I'll leave it for now. -SB)

    Our epic story begins outside Khur's capitol city of Khuri-Khan, in a ramshackle tent-city of exiled elves (like Calais, but hotter and sandier. Also "swarming" with elves instead of Syrians. Thanks, PM Cameron! -SB). Two relatively young and inexperienced Qualinesti elves are summoned to the tent of the Speaker of the Sun and Stars, Gilthas Pathfinder, for a mission, and there is an unspoken understanding that no one more essential to the survival of their community can be spared.
    The Speaker informs the steely-eyed Caran and wary Jhandra that for weeks the exiles and treasures desperately needed to keep appeasing the Khan have ceased to trickle in from the South. Gilthas orders the pair to journey south to Pashin and contact and elf called Shaylin Moonbow in charge of a kind of underground railroad for elven exiles. They are to investigate what has befallen the elves and provide Shaylin any aid they can. He offers them a document with his official seal, one-hundred and fifty steel pieces for expenses, and strong advice that they enlist allies for their assignment. (See what I did there? -SB) Caran claims to know just the man for the job, a minotaur mercenary, while Jhandra hopes to attract the aid of a human wizard said to be studying the Art among the elves at the behest of his Master, a White Robed Tower Mage. Little do they know the two they have spoken of have recently met and struck up a friendship while shopping in one of Khuri-Khan's souks (open air bazaars).

    (At this point, I know what you're thinking. SB, you have FOUR players, remember? FOUR. I got it. My group is really cool with the idea of telling a story that makes sense, and they were both finishing up their character sheets, and happy to wait, so cut me some slack, okay? -SB) The elven duo explore the bazaar and draw catcalls and threats (Laddad! Laddad-Ihar! Laddad-Ihar! Pests! Go back to your anthill! Go back to your anthill! Thanks for that book, Ed! -SB) from a group of seven Torghanists (Khurish worshippers of Sargonnas) armed with knives. When they refuse to leave, Caran and Jhandra are surrounded and viciously attacked (And I mean, viciously. I was rolling like CRAZY-HOT this entire session, and the Paizo Critical Hit Deck was voted into use prior to game starting! -SB). Soon, the elven pair are barely conscious, but fortune conspires in the elves' favor, for the clamor draws the aid of the very two individuals they sought. (Imagine that! Am I good or what?! I love it when an adventuring party comes together. -SB)

    Superball, here. At this point, I brought in my other two players, and they came in like a wrecking ball, albeit without the nakedness and licking of hand tools. My wizard, Almarden, is the bravest wizard I've ever met, hands down. He came in spraying rainbows, to ridiculously good effect. In melee at least as much as the others, I just couldn't seem to hit him in combat. Frustrating for any GM that smells a wizard within one move action, I know. The Minotaur Krusk charged, using his gore attack to it's fullest, and followed up with his warhammer, leaving behind a broken pile of one-hit-kill ragdolls in his wake. Whatever people say about Millenials, they've never seen one equipped with a +5 Strength modifier at level one. It was GLORIOUS. Back to the good stuff...

    Those not already dead of their wounds are swiftly dispatched by Caran's blade, never again to threaten him or his allies (Caran takes his job as bodyguard VERY seriously. -SB). The four left standing flee the scene, and find a place to lay low (until the buzz from their self-defense induced murder spree dies down -SB). After introductions the elves ask the Kazelati Minotaur and the Ergothian man to accompany them to Pashin and help investigate the cessation of the flow of elven exiles and treasure to Khurinost (Thanks to my work pre-game tying them together with perfectly feasible relationships, this was for the first time in gaming history not a strained or unbelievable conversation. Praise be my name. -SB). Krusk seems restless with his recent lapse in work and eager for a challenge and another chance to fight beside Caran. Almarden is sympathetic to their cause, having spent enough time amongst the Kagonesti elves to learn their language, and is persuaded that some real-world experience would be a valuable addition to his education.

    A five-day cruise down the coast to Ak-Krin, two weeks on a flat-bottomed cargo barge down the Thon-Thalas river, and a two-hour hike takes the newly formed band of adventurers to Pashin. Just outside the gates sits an orderly tented encampment of Dark Knights in their signature black garb with a white lily crest. The elves prudently cover their ears with scarves and hoods, (completely on their own before I could say anything! -SB) but the Minotaur cannot evade minor harassment from the Dark Knights ("cow" is the new "peck"! -SB) flanking and bullying the Pashin guards who admit visitors. Inside the remote city of squat buildings and colorful awnings which is clearly less urbane than Khuri-Khan, Caran and Almarden perceive something strange amid the crowd jostling them all. Caran seizes a child with his hand in his pocket, only to realize that he's caught a Kender thief. Almarden rifles through his pouches and retrieves the companions' effects, along with two potions marked with temple seals. (This was supposed to be a roleplaying encounter. Make nice with a Diplomacy check and get your stuff back, plus some potions. It turned into a successful Combat Manuver check, followed by an unsuccessful attempt to punch Rowan Whispertouch's lights out. At least he's consistant. -SB) The Kender protests that he merely picked up the items that they dropped and rushes off, claiming to have spotted his cousin.

    The companions locate the Kender and restore his pouches to him and he insists they keep the potions ("No hard feelings, happens all the time. Hey, I didn't even know that I had those! -SB). They watch his cousin Grace perform with two others in a kind of acrobatic circus (The Street Performers encounter! My favorite rando in Pashin! -SB). She drops from her perch, tumbling (awkwardly, this time. -SB) into the crowd. The heroes see a silver amulet set with red stones slide out of her tunic, which she quickly replaces before clandestinely pressing something into the hand of a man in the crowd. Her contact immediately sprints away, too fast for pursuit. (excellent Perception checks! I wonder if that's some kind of foreshadowing of future events?! -SB).

    Superball, here. At this point, the crowd had grown suspicious and ornery, reaching for their pouches, and exhibiting some severely well-deserved racial stereotyping here. Jhandra manages one of MANY stellar Diplomacy rolls (i.e. several natural 20's -SB). The crowd disperses immediately, but not before paying the acrobats, who split their take with the Heroes. Back to the good stuff...

    Rowan is unable to explain either Grace's behavior or the recent complete lack of elves wandering around Pashin - it seems the elves simply vanished weeks ago. Next, the companions find a Khurish street urchin to guide them and head to a local temple of Mishakel to ask about the Presence of Dark Knights in the city and any recent violence or strange happenings (Not going to be that easy, guys! -SB). One healer reveals a Dark Knight General manipulates the Khan of Pashin and his minions wield the real power in the town, as well as spilling blood and causing mayhem everywhere they go (I admit that I took liscence here. Wanted them to seem more 'bad guy'. They are an untouchable occupying army, though, so...feasible. -SB) She also speaks of an unusual uptick in leprosy in the poor quarter where bandaged individuals wander at night. The companions decide to investigate this odd "leper" behavior (emphasis NOT mine. I think they're onto me. Plot Hooks! -SB) later in case the bandages are merely a clever disguise and the leprosy scare just a clever ruse (Blast! I knew it! -SB).

    Superball, here! So ends part one of session one, as told by me and my faithful scribe, UngainlyDodge. Thanks again, UD! Tune in next time, as our Heroes rescue a "not-frail, completely capable and dangerous in their own right" hooker, Go out to see an aspect of a God live in concert, and catch a mad-cool fistfight instead.

    Same Lance-Time, Same Lance-Channel!



    Last edited by SuperBall; 06-13-2016 at 12:35 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Very nice, sir! I really loved your opening and how it tied into the Elven Exiles trilogy. Everything flowed very well and naturally. I can't wait to how this goes!

    Oh, what are the PCs alignments? You gave us all of the other details! Just curious.

    Keep up the good work guys! I'm digging all these new campaign journal popping up lately written by my friends.
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  3. #3
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    I'll get those for you when we get back together again next week, Dave. Personally, I don't pay attention to alignment too closely. The players are going to play their characters the way they like, and I trust them to be true to their concepts. The only time I really worry are when axis-spells or abilities come into play (Chaos Hammer! Who's lawful?! Let's see the sheets!).
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    Default Key of Destiny - Session One, Part Two!

    Superball, here. Just got the second half of the game notes in the e-mail from UngainlyDodge, beautifully rendered into something that I would actually enjoy reading. This was from the same session on the same night last Wednesday, so all of the characters are the same, etcetera. Here we go!

    Session One, Part Two

    On the urchin's recommendation the companions head toward an inn called the Wounded Crow for lodgings and gossip but in an alley they spy a scantily clad woman being menaced by three thuggish men with knives at their belts (Based on their earlier performance, it really should have been four or five, but like I said before, the dice were hot, and I wanted to play it a little safer. -SB). Jhandra offers to pay the 25 steel pieces the woman owes and Caran threatens the men with dire consequences if they don't leave the woman alone (Again, here's another really easily resolved encounter, but at least Caran is consistent. When he pulled that big greatsword and told them 'I've got your steel right here', the encounter took a turn. -SB). Between Almarden's blinding spell (jokingly referred to as 'throwing rainbows', or my personal favorite 'ribbons in the sky' -SB), Krusk's horns and halberd (between his damage rolls, and the crit deck, I'd say 'cleaving in twain repeatedly' wasn't an understatment. -SB), and Caran's steel (I like to think Caran is a fan of impaling. There aren't really words for the brutal efficiency of either of those two. They should turn their fighting style into some kind of Prince symbol, so unique is the carnage. -SB), they make short work of the bullies. Caran renders the last of their nasty, brutish lives short indeed with a coup de gras (I'll tell you what, this is a signature move that ensures I never bring a villain back to mock them. I don't hate it. -SB). Their corspes are moved into a dark alley, and posed. The doxy introduces herself as Dove and after a chat the party pays her the 25 steel pieces for her boss, Blackbird (which she kept, you know, since her 'collectors' are dead. -SB), and decides to escort her to his inn, the Wounded Crow. Caran pays their urchin guide generously and cautions him to be discreet (to his credit, he didn't threaten the kid, or you know, guarantee his silence with a swift, downward driving thrust. There's still good in him. I can sense it. -SB).

    At the Wounded Crow, a three-story structure painted entirely black that looms over its neighbors (with the Mos Eisley Cantina music blaring. -SB), the party joins a bustling throng of patrons inside and beholds the performance of the world renowned entertainer called the Herald (Or an Aspect of Gilean? Maybe they'll find out next week... -SB). The great elderly bard dares to recount the worst defeats of the Dark Knights with several rowdy black armored, lily-crest wearing patrons sitting front and center (Talented doesn't always equal discerning. -SB). Outraged, the six Dark Knights begin to pummel the old Herald with their fists, until the four companions come to his defense. Jhandra orders the unarmed bystanders to disperse and they try to comply.

    Superball, here. I just needed to break in and say that this was one of the highlight moments of the session, at least for me. I had declared the common room of the Wounded Crow a packed out house, and in lieu of a sea of miniatures, just decided to make every square count as difficult terrain. One natural 20 on a Diplomacy check later, I declared on the fly that the difficult terrain would disappear one row of squares at a time as the crowd pushed to the back of the room to get out of the door, and actually made a huge difference in the latter half of this battle. I should also note that UD (playing Jhandra) saved us a bunch of time by opening a folder, and yanking out a ready made common room from one of her scenarios, in color. That was definitely cool. Back to the action...

    Almarden in particular tries to temper his fire magic to something less scorching and harmful (By taking a metamagic feat that applied the Merciful property to his Burning Hands spell. Color me pleasantly surprised. -SB), and Krusk at first tries grappling a knight into submission (He picked up on the tone that I set early on, that fistfights were one thing, but lethal weapons were another. Restraint among roleplaying gamers. I'm dead, and this is what Heaven looks like. -SB), while Jhandra employs scare tactic magic (When I failed a Will save vs. Cause Fear, tried to take the run action in difficult terrain, failed a Reflex save, and faceplanted. Beautiful. -SB) and Caran fires warning shots instead of killing shafts from his bow (This is basically a nice way of talking about Caran, having leapt onto a table to give himself a +1 bonus to attack, missing with a longbow five consecutive times. I felt for the guy. If there had been a telethon or something, I'd have definitely phoned in. -SB). Despite these initial efforts, the fight that began with thrown punches on both sides eventually ends in naked blades and much bloodshed (Or, How I Rolled Like A Champ And Learned To Drop My Players Like A Bag Of Bricks, by William. -SB). The Herald comes to the aid of his fallen defenders with his healing magic (several much-needed Cure Moderate Wounds spells. -SB) and thus enables them to overcome the odds. Caran, as he did before, finishes off any wounded foes who linger and labor to breathe (with the calm, pleasant face of an old man listening to George Formby and puttering in the back garden. -SB).


    The four companions thank the Herald but soon face a new threat. Blackbird the half-ogre proprietor bursts in upon the carnage and extensive damage to his property, armed to the teeth with weapons of his own and backed up by a retinue of enforcers (Sixteen of them! -SB). His cohorts block the exits and aim crossbows at the companions (Sixteen of them, too! -SB) while their crime boss demands the four assume responsibility and offers them two ways to repay him. They can either immediately pay him 1000 steel pieces (impossible), OR they can assassinate his local rival in the stolen goods fencing racket, a Black Knight deserter called Pegrin (Plot hooks! Lots of different hanging plot hooks! -SB). After a brief huddle the companions reluctantly take the job, with the caveat that they will capture Pegrin and deliver him to Blackbird, rather than murdering him (I've never met an outlaw that came quietly, but I'll let them dream. From what I'd seen so far, if anyone could knock out the Heavy in a Boss Fight and bring him in, it would in fact be these guys. I'm tearing up a little right now just thinking of all of the negotiation and final warnings. -SB). Blackbird accepts their desperate compromise and gives Caran an enchanted amulet he will use to spy on them. The half-ogre delivers a dire warning: should the amulet be covered or submerged in water or otherwise go dark, he will know immediately...and their bargain will be off, and their lives will be forfeit to him.

    In deciding what to do with the knights' corpses, Krusk suggests compacting them and concealing them in the nearby wine barrels, and Blackbird seems impressed. Blackbird also seems impressed by Caran's obvious experience in the assassination trade, but the elf is reluctant to get entangled with such a criminal---as he tells his companions, once begun, such obligations never end.

    PARTY LOOT:

    From the First Mission from Gilthas to find and aid Shelyn Moonbow: a document with his official Speaker's seal & 150 steel pieces
    From Encounter #1 Combat vs 7 Torghan-worshipping thugs: 4 daggers [each hero carries one]
    From Encounter #2 Kender Thief: 2 potions of Cure Light Wounds [both have been USED UP]. Gift from circus performers: 14 copper pennies, 5 steel, 5 silver [donated by party to temple of Mishakal]
    From Encounter #3 Combat vs 3 alley thugs: 200 steel pieces [gave 25 steel to Dove]
    From Encounter #4 Combat vs 6 Dark Knights: still being calculated, but includes 6 chainmail shirts and 6 black uniforms with lily crest

    Superball, here. I just want you to take a gander at the party loot note above, and realize with me how lucky I am to have the players that I have. Seven bros with knives, they take four, because, that makes perfect sense. Gets money from street people, donates it to the poor box. Gets a big payday, makes sure the hooker is in the black. I love these guys. They don't feel the need to skin a dude, just to make sure there aren't any subcutaneously implanted coins. It's a dream come true. My npcs behave in ways that make perfect sense, AND SO DO THEY. Never mind. NOW I'm dead, and THIS is what Heaven looks like. That was our first session. I hope that you enjoyed the incredibly readable adaptation of the session notes by UngainlyDodge, to whom I am indebted, and my witty commentary, which I would add whether you liked it or not, because that's me.

    Will our Heroes bring in their man alive?! Are they ever going to find out what's up with all of the "lepers"?! The answers to these questions and more on Wednesday! Same Lance-Time, same Lance-Channel!!
    Last edited by SuperBall; 06-13-2016 at 12:42 PM.
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  5. #5
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    I love these write-ups. Great work and keep them coming.
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    Thanks elder. At some point after Wednesday I'll have another one up. UngainlyDodge does 95% of the work, so I let her work, and I add my bit when it's my turn. I'm not complaining, or looking at deadlines. I'm just glad for the help.
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    Quick question, and apologies if I missed it:. What rule set did you go with William? Pathfinder or 3.5?

    My next time spent behind the DM screen, I have been informed thusly, shall be on Krynn, so I'm excited to read your players exploits!

    Keep it coming!
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    Hi, James! We're running the game in Pathfinder. I'm using whatever pathfinder conversion material we've done on the boards, mostly the races and clerical stuff for right now. I've converted the campaign to Pathfinder, as far as the stat blocks go to Pathfinder. I've gotten all of the way through Key of Destiny, and I've just finished Chapter Four of Spectre of Sorrows.
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    Talking Brilliant!

    Ha ha, these are great, SB! Love the commentary!

    Had my husband reading these over my shoulder last night and we were cracking up. If the commentary were in italics or something so it would be even easier to skim between them...just sayin'.

    I will use the information you provided (the White Robed wizard, Shaylin not Shelyn, etc.) to update my notes before I share them with our group.

    As fun as the session looks from those notes, in reality it was even more of a blast and it stands right beside the best first sessions I've ever had!

    Every player I chat with (which is all three I've met so far) is chomping at the bit for next week's session. As am I!

    Thanks, SB, keep 'em coming!

    -UD
    Last edited by UngainlyDodge; 06-13-2016 at 09:41 AM. Reason: spacing
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  10. #10
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    That's a great idea. I'm going to edit my comments in italics, and use that in future notes, too.
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