02 July 2012
Pen & Paper: Some Actual Play part 1
So, the group happens to be in deep shit. They had, tasked by the lord their apprentice-knight-leader, left the safe ground of the Empire, crossing the river into the territories of the barbarian tribes of the North, to aid a local king in a matter that needed intervention by foreigners. Now, Northern Barbarians do sound more terrible than they actually are, being mostly peasant-warriors minding their own business and/or carrying around wooden idols to worship their strange pantheon of gods but neighboring their lands are the swamps and moors inhabited by the Naga Queendoms, of which the entire party was rightfully afraid (except for the animal-trainer-chick from the Kalifate - she'd immediately hatched a plan to get a hold of a Naga egg to start breeding them or something...). After some back and forth the party managed to more or less accidentally escalate the situation between the Nagas, who had captured the local kings son and wanted to trade him for land, and the local king and his men, who had rushed out after the party had returned only with the childs hand (as they had only brought part of the silver intended to pay off the Nagas, the Nagas had only brought part of the prince - Nagas have no concept of respecting health and/or life of humans). The whole thing went terribly wrong with the king and his men and the party of adventurers fighting off one of the Naga Queens and her warrior escort. As the group was well prepared because their alchemist, having let herself into the house of the local barbarian scientist-guy, had developed a skin-effective poison that would hurt Nagas but not humans - bottles were thrown, chemical warfare was invented and the Nagas driven off eventually.
This didn't leave the group unscarred. The alchemist got a Naga crossbow-bolt through the lung, permanently reducing her strength and stamina (in my system a single attribute) to a rather low level, while the groups healer lost her left arm whilst saving her friends (in return I did give her a girl-apprentice, the daughter of the man who had sold the group and his king out to the Nagas). After a few weeks of recuperation and getting used to disabilities and injuries, the group got another task from the king, this time to be paid directly by him. As the coffers were starting to run low and there were rumors of a new civil war in the Empire, which would mean first drafts in the street and later marauding bands of soldiers, it would be better for them to stay clear of their homelands for a while anyways, so they accepted. What is that quest? To get the wisdom-teeth of a giant in order for the barbarian healer to wake up the comatose prince whom the party had rescued in the heat of the earlier battle.
Now to get a giants wisdom-teeth there are several obstacles that need to be overcome. First, the group needs to travel quite a bit up to the mountains where there are actually any giants left. Then they need to find a way of getting at the teeth, which may or may not involve fighting a fifteen-foot humanoid and the ethical dilemma of whether or not they should kill a giant for that (which at least half the party is not willing to do - I love my players for actually being ethical about things).
After some minor adventures the group had reached the foothills of the mountains that is home to the last known tribes of giants. To spice things up, I thought I'd throw in some threat and, during the nightly camp, they were attacked by a cave-bear. Sadly, only one of my players realized, what a cave-bear is (or was, as it is extinct in the real world) but her pleas for being careful were unheeded by the groups tank/knight, who thought he'd stand his ground against the monstrosity. In the end he found himself badly wounded and buried under several hundred kilograms of fur and muscle, which, as one of the groups two archers had used poisoned arrows, wasn't even edible anymore.
Now the group is stuck with a horribly injured (but thanks to some epic dierolls by the group-healer alive) warrior they cannot transport in some godforsaken mountain outcroppings. So they send their pathfinder to return to town in order to get help so they may carry/lug the wounded man back to civilization. He has just gone off, as three travellers arrive, heavily armed with what appear to me magic weapons. Their leader is the disgruntled warrior-princess of one of the northernmost tribes, always living in the shadows of both her grandmother and her father, who have started a family-tradition of slaying actual dragons. She has inherited her grandmothers spear but has thus far been unable to find a dragon to slay and is rather frustrated at that, living the lives of mercenaries with her two remaining compatriotes, a warrior from her tribe and a strange foreigner who is wielding a repeating-crossbow.
At first the group was all jolly about having new companions and help in case other bears may attack but then they heard why the trio were here: They were searching for robbers who have killed a child from one of the barbarian villages. The group slowly realized that the child killed was a boy they had killed while he was attempting to steal the groups horse at night, having felled the kid with an arrow. So in they are now playing host to people who are looking for them, having them with them in their makeshift-shelter. At the same time, tensions within the group are mounting, as the groups handyman and carpenter realizes that the healing that the wounded knight has recieved from the healer can only be explained with witchcraft...
Meanwhile the pathfinder has reached the city and is almost immedeatly jumped by a group of army-recruiters. He tries to run off and gets a helbeard to the back for his trouble, getting hurt pretty damn bad and crawling under a hay-cart during the riots that follow (because it was in the poor part of town and the people were already on edge due to the press-ganging happening for the new civil war that the Empire is facing). The city is now in full revolution-mode and the wounded pathfinder has to think about how he might still help comrades stuck in the mountains and also how he himself can get out of this situation alive...