Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Session #10, Zeb's Notes

6/12/2018, Session #10

As night falls, families begin to arrive with their children, carrying bundles laden with provisions and blankets.  We don’t know if all of the children of the surrounding farms are accounted for; there’s no way to accomplish that, given our means, but we’re confident that most of the families have answered our call.

Drachus and Aibreann approach, and it sends Selben into a panic.  The young man’s eyes roll back into his head, and he falls to the ground, pounding it in a fury, seemingly overcome—physically, mentally, or magically, we cannot determine—and immediately we disarm him of the knife he used earlier to save Erathmar.  Unsure how to proceed, I grab the bucket of water we used to soak the leather straps, and I douse him with it.  Fortunately, he becomes more lucid.  Unfortunately, Selben is still panicked and attempts to escape.  Drachus and Aibreann disappear into the town, and with Audric’s help, we tackle and subdue the young man.

After several minutes of pinning him, preventing Selben’s escape, and after more than a few threats to bind him, it seems like Selben regains awareness.  He admits to not remembering the events of the past few minutes…as if he blacked out again immediately upon seeing Aibreann.

Unwilling to allow another encounter like that to occur, we take Selben back to Erathmar’s camp, where we intend to spend the night.  Selben falls asleep nearly immediately, seemingly exhausted, and I find a quick few hours of rest before I’m awakened for my watch.

During my watch, Selben starts tossing and turning in his sleep.  He starts to visibly sweat and utters a few words.  “I saw her.  I see her.”  The fear that Selben may be under some kind of magical influence has been constantly on my mind, and for the first time in over a year, I whisper a prayer to Malar, calling upon my faith to sever any potential connection or possession.  Malar answers, but for better or for worse, it does not seem as if there was any compulsion, or at least, Malar’s blessing had no effect. 

We are awakened by rain, but other than that ill herald, we are not troubled by anything else, and find that nothing ill befell those of Carrock while we slept.  The next morning, Audric and I have a lengthy conversation regarding his current mental state after the encounter in the woods, his thoughts on the pending threats to Carrock, and plans for the short term.  It is decided, should the situation in Carrock remain unchanged for two more days, that we will make ready and depart towards Mirabar, where Audric may find a temple to Mystra.

We head into the village to find Drachus.  Immediately upon making that decision, however, we hear the cries of a woman in the southern part of the village.  As we circle down towards the calls, we see that there’s someone coming from the road to the west.  The rain is heavy, but her calls pierce the veil.  The woman, limping, leads a pony which looks as if it has something—a body?—slumped over the saddle.  She is short, lithe—almost childlike—perhaps the same age as Aibreann.  Her hair is long, blonde, and tied into a tail.  She wears traveling leathers, a bow slung over her shoulder and a sword at her hip.  We are able to see that her cargo is indeed a body.  Audric and I approach, answering her call.

“We were attacked during the night by wolves, on our way to Carrock.”  Her face is dirty, and she bears wounds that match her story.  She turns to the person, telling us that he’s wounded, near death.  Her burden—a bearded but small man, actually a gnome—who is indeed direly wounded.  Once again I call upon the Beastlord, this time to heal—and the gnome coughs.  Not dead, then, but still not conscious.  When asked, she reveals her name is Bonie, and that she hails from Westtower (at least most recently)—but also states “there’s not much left of it.”

She says that the village was attacked and razed nearly two weeks ago, a tale that reeks of what befell Shadfeld.  Westtower was better prepared for such an attack, having a small garrison of soldiers, but many of its soldiers were killed and the town half-destroyed.  Carcerus was among the attackers, bearing a wicked hook-bladed axe, and Bonie reveals that the guards that confronted him could do nothing to injure the beast, as if their weapons were useless. 

Bonie and her friend were passing the trade season at Westtower, and in the aftermath of the attack, they volunteered to serve as envoy to Shadfeld.  They found Shadfeld in ruins and decided to continue on to Carrock…whereupon they were attacked by wolves in the night.  The gnome—Larimo—bought her the time to fend off the beasts, but only at the cost of being severely wounded himself.

We take the pair to Erathmar’s camp and send for Drachus and Tussugar.  I recruit Selben to help care for Larimo’s wounds, and after sharing her tale again, we realize that the attack was just a few miles outside of Carrock—close enough for us to scout.  Drachus offers us horses from the village, and together with Rould we depart to investigate.

We find the site of the battle—they had camped south of the road, and the wolves attacked from somewhere to the north.  Audric questions her, discovering that they built a fire—and we all find it odd that wolves attacked in the night despite the presence of their fire.  Larimo is not a warrior, but Bonie reveals that he has “the favor of one of the gods of his race.”  A priest, perhaps?  She seems skilled in both bow and sword and tells us she was employed previously as a guard in Westtower.  She says that she killed most of the pack that attacked them, perhaps four in total.  Because of the rain, our hopes of learning anything else here is slim, so we return to Carrock.

Audric goes for a walk, searching for a private place to commune with Mystra and reflect on the events of the last few days.  He hears someone approach but does not allow it to disturb his meditative rest.  The figure comes within 30 feet or so, and Audric sees that it’s Maglarosh, the druid, carrying a walking stick.  “You’re very troubled,” states Maglarosh.  “Beyond words,” is Audric’s reply.  Audric shares his difficulty communicating with Mystra, but the druid’s response is vague and mysterious, revealing something about Audric being protected.  “Protected how and from what?” he asks.  “By the forest itself,” is the reply of Maglarosh, but also admits that he does not know what the nature of the threat might be.  “Stay on your guard, Warrior of the Weave.”

Night approaches once again, so we carry out preparation to protect the children.  We show Bonie around town, explain the defenses, as well as the potential threat of attack in Carrock, whether from Carcerus, wolves, or this “Goddess of the Hunt.”  Bonie seems unimpressed by our lack of a plan, but we counter her argument, explaining that we’ve considered various options, but most of them involve leaving the village unprotected, which seems too risky—something she should hopefully understand, considering the proximity of the wolves that attacked her and Larimo.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Session #9, Zeb's Notes

5/16/2018, Session #9

We begin in the forest, in the aftermath of Audric’s unwitting unleashing of the ring’s power.  The girl—Faylin--is lucid, and we reveal to her that we’ve been searching for her.  Her first words are that she wants to see her mother and father…an understandable sentiment.  She asks what happened, pointing to the petrified form of Arkhen, and we give her an abridged version, stating that we’ll return to see to the hunter.  Though barefoot, she indicates that she’s able to walk, so we hasten to return to Carrock. 

Few words are shared on the trip, except for a brief discussion with Rould regarding the oddity of the wolves—the polarity of their behavior, seeming somehow protective over the prone form of Faylin, yet aggressive beyond expectations when approached.  We arrive back at Faylin’s farm before dusk and find her parents, who are overjoyed to learn of their daughter’s safety, and convince the family to retreat to the relative safety of Carrock for the night.

We arrive safely back to Carrock, and contrary to the grimness of our mood, the townsfolk seem persistent in their desire to cheer our success and celebrate our return.  They do not yet know of Arkhen’s sacrifice.  At the inn, we find a table and warm meal for Faylin and her family while we gather Tussugar and Drachus to share the dire news.  The conversation is a difficult one, and after discussing the events leading up to the attack, Audric seems to stutter and stall, as if not sure how to relate the ring’s role in the matter.

After several false starts, Tussugar cuts to the heart of the matter—and asks for the return of the ring, holding out his hand.  After several moments of not getting what he wants from Audric, he withdraws his hand.  I’m unsure if the dwarf is disappointed or just saddened at the confrontation and asks us to excuse ourselves so that he can discuss matters with Drachus one on one.  When Tussugar and Drachus return, they invite us to leave the inn with them, heading for the tower.  “I gave you the ring under the pretense that you would be its protector; both of the relic, and of those around you.  You’ve proven that’s not who you are.”  When they step forward, it’s to bind Audric in ropes to be held within the tower.  Audric must choose…the ring, or the ropes.

In an effort to deflect, Audric asks if Tussugar thinks he can do any better, as if turning into a great cave bear within town is any safer, any better way to protect it.  Tussugar attempts to punch Audric, but is clearly overwhelmed by rage at the audacity of the statement and misses.  Disgusted, Audric removes the ring and throws it at Tussugar, storming out of the tower.  After a few moments, Tussugar issues a command—stern, but seemingly not unreasonable—to return Audric to the tower.  I obey.

I catch up to Audric, and the resulting discussion—or argument, perhaps heated debate—takes place in the streets of Carrock.  Tussugar and Audric’s mutual distrust—valid or no—has clouded one or both of their perspectives, and the situation is truly a mess.  Regardless of Audric’s feelings toward Tussugar (and vice versa), I tell Audric that at the very least he owes Drachus an audience, a chance to weigh in on the matter with his own words.

Two days.  The crux of the discussion boils down to two days, and whether Audric is willing to forestall his abandonment of Carrock—based solely, at least from my perspective, on Audric’s distrust of the dwarf—is Audric willing to give me two days to settle matters in Carrock before we turn our backs on the town.  Audric relents…reluctantly…but the return meeting with Tussugar and Drachus does not go well, Tussugar issuing commands to Audric, and Audric throwing words back in anger.  At the end, we are left to stand alone in the streets.  Drachus, unsure how to react to the disintegration of whatever tentative alliance, gives us his blessing and the thanks of the town whatever course of action we decide to take, and the trio—Drachus, Tussugar, Rould—leaves us to find our path.

After some discussion, Audric is persuaded to stay at Erathmar’s camp, even to resume his vigil over the tower of Carrock, though he won’t have anything to do with Tussugar.  Satisfied with that concession, I return to the inn to consult with Tussugar, Drachus and Rould.  I apologize to Rould…the hunter has deserved better in terms of communication, explanation, and inclusion, but the heightened emotions of the day have led to some complicated situations.  I try to rationalize Audric’s actions, but unsure himself just how damaged Audric’s relationship with Mystra might be, he finds little explanation that seems to make any sense, and thus abandon my defense of Audric.

Drachus’ primary concern is whether Audric is a danger to Carrock, to which I reply that “Audric is no more a danger to Carrock than I am, and if that’s a situation that causes you worry, we will leave at first light.”  Fortunately, Drachus’ confidence in us seems unwavering, and he wishes for us to stay on in Carrock, even suggesting that we might eventually make our home here.  The statement has great impact on me, and for a few moments, I can even picture what a future in Carrock might hold for me...but after the events of the day, I fear such peace may never come to pass.

When discussing the ring, which seems ever-present in the conversations of the night, Tussugar shares his perspective.  “The artifact has proven to be unsafe and destructive, regardless of the wielder.”  Tussugar makes it clear that the ring will not be worn by any other until its power can be harnessed and understood; Tussugar is now the sole protector.  I can’t help but think of The Myrmidon in Kezia’s reading, and whether it may be a reference to Tussugar…but given the stress of the day, I abandon that line of thought, as there’s no way to prove anything, in any case.

Meanwhile, Audric heads to Erathmar’s camp to fetch Selben.  I worry, given the predilections of this strange “goddess of the hunt”, that Selben may be at risk, and wants Audric to bring the boy into town.  At the camp, Erathmar takes Audric’s abbreviated version of the events of the day at face value, and afterwards shares that Selben had been acting strangely throughout the day.  He was found sitting alone, either meditating or chanting, and Erathmar shared concern over the boy, given his past.  Erathmar seems relieved that it was our intention to watch over him through the night.

Audric finds Selben, and their conversation turns towards Selben’s queer actions earlier that day.  The teen seems taken aback but finds relief when Audric admits that Selben wasn’t being followed and was only found by accident.  Selben claims that he was trying “to get his powers back”, after which he admits that he was a mage in training, but that he lost his implements, and has been powerless since his flight from Three Streams.  They share a conversation about the source of Audric’s own power versus my own, and they decide that consulting me on the matter may be prudent.

Back at the inn, I finally get a chance to question Faylin.  Her parents are present, as are Tussugar and Drachus.  Faylin describes that there was a woman who called herself “the lady of the hunt” or “the lady of the forest”, and that she saw her as if she were in a dream.  This lady wanted to teach Faylin of the hunt, of the kill…and Faylin followed her into the woods throughout the night.  The lady left her in the care of the two wolves before eventually disappearing; Faylin after that, awoke from her trance to see the wolves, to find herself alone without her family, and was scared…and that’s when we arrived.

When questioned about tattoos, symbols, items or anything else noteworthy or identify this lady’s affiliations, she mentions that several times the “beastlord” was mentioned, as if they might be traveling to meet him in the woods…but when Faylin asked when they would see him, the lady replied, “I am the beastlord.”

Faylin’s parents seem visibly shaken, I give up on further questioning.  My own resolve is momentarily shaken…that this impostor would claim to be the true Beastlord, or to even be acting on his behalf, boils my blood.  This lady’s actions, her tactics, her targets are all antithetical to my understanding of the Beastlord’s dogma, and I’m quick to share that with Drachus and Tussugar, who seem supportive and to understand the distinction.

Rould & I meet up on the tower with Audric and Selben, where Selben’s past is shared with me.  Agreed that a half-trained, unsupervised apprentice may be more dangerous than one under my tutelage, we discuss plans to start Selben’s formal training.  It is a complicated situation…given Selben’s past, I’m sure that Drachus would not be supportive of the decision, but Selben has done nothing since our arrival to make me question his loyalty.

I take some time to meditate on the events of the day, struggling to find some sense of the many threads that seem to be in play.  If there is indeed a pattern developing, it eludes my discovery…

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Session #8, Zeb's Notes

5/9/2018, Session #8

Morning arrives.  Joints are stiff from the night’s endeavors, exacerbated by light, fitful sleep under the stars upon the cold earth, and not enough of it.  Nevertheless, there is work to be done.  We leave Erathmar’s camp outside of Carrock, and approach the inn to meet Drachus.  The hour is early, and we find him alone at work.  He pulls a few ales, and we sit to discuss the events of the past few days.

Despite our tale of the troll and the goblins, Drachus seems most concerned that we were not able to find the third creature that attacked Carrock.  His disappointment is evident, but we spare no comfort for him as we continue the tale, telling of Ignish’s scouting of Carrock, of the true nature of the threat that razed Shadfeld, and of its imminent approach to Carrock.

Curiously, his first question is about the boy, Selben, asking what his part is in all of this.  Aside from conjecture, we share that we have no more knowledge than he does.  His second question, understandably, is about the fate of Carrock—we share our discussion with Tussugar, of our resolve to stand with Carrock so that it does not suffer the fate that befell Shadfeld, and that we plan to stand and fight in Carrock’s defense.  He seems relieved by our admission and by our plans to stand by Carrock, so we share the beginnings of our plans for the town’s defense.

Drachus, while shaken, seems supportive of our decision, and clearly has the well-being of his citizens in mind.  He grants us use of the town’s resources to arrange its defense, and we immediately start to plan.  By the time we finish planning, the town has started to stir, and we suggest a town meeting to be held at midday.  Maglarosh and Erathmar are alerted of the plans.  Still suffering from the rigors of both combats last night, I take what rest I can until then.

Drachus shares details of the situation with the town and gives a grim speech in which he shares our plans for the town’s defense.  When given the chance to speak, I step forward, sharing the truth about the situation—that I did not seek refuge in Carrock with the intention of using the town or its folk as a shield.  Not being able to turn back time or change the situation, I intent to stand—and bleed, if needs be—with and for the town, so that Shadfeld’s fate can be avoided.

Finally, we get an opportunity to discuss the situation with Maglarosh.  His response raises more doubts than answers—he agrees that the events of the past weeks all seem related.  Damyca’s premonition, the runes in Moonglow Cave and Oldkeep, the attack of Shadfeld and threat of Carcerus—is there a common thread?  In regard to Ignish’s threat of wolves attacking Carrock, Maglarosh admits that nature has seemed out of balance the past few days.  Things are not as they should be, and while he’s concerned about it, he has no insight to offer.  Maglarosh proves to be a great disappointment.  While he clearly searches for a way to explain things and tie these events together, it seems more academic than anything else.  While clearly a potent ally for the town, and though he may prove instrumental in Carrock’s defense in the case of an attack, Zeb finds little other value in the discussion.

At Erathmar’s camp, we gather the survivors of the attack on Shadfeld, and press them for details on the attack that night.  Any small detail we may learn could help in defense of Carrock.  For the most part, the attack was a complete surprise, carried out by crazed cultists with torches setting buildings ablaze.  The conversation, at least for Zeb, proves valuable in defining the scope of the threat.  Zeb had imagined dozens of attackers, but in reality, it could have been as few as a single dozen, with the advantage of surprise and panic.

Zeb, exhausted, seeks rest at the inn of Carrock while Audric investigates the tower, making preparations for defense and ensuring access to the upper floors, in the case that retreat to the towers is necessary. 

We awaken the next morning, having passed the first restful sleep in days.  The town is intact, but in our morning rounds, we encounter a woman looking for Maglarosh—there was apparently some incident in the night at one of the outlying farms.  Aibreann, helping to comfort the woman, offers to come along as we head out to investigate.  On the way, we’re told that the older of two sons killed a chicken by biting its neck out with his teeth.

They woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of screeching animals; they found the son, who was babbling about “his mistress”, and when asked why he had done it that a woman, “the Goddess of the Hunt,” told him to.  The boy, Connor, now seems lucid, playing with his brother; we decide to talk to him, to see what he remembers of the night.

“The mistress called to me in the night.  I woke up in my bed, and she explained The Hunt to me, the importance of being a predator.”  Audric questions Connor, learning that this was the first time he encountered this “Goddess of the Hunt.”  They met outside, she compelled him to hunt, and the boy says that she was gone by the time he killed the chicken, having disappeared into the night.

He describes her as beautiful, dark hair.  I show him my fetishes, asking if she wore any similar symbols, but he shakes his head, unsure.  Audric asks if she had weapons, and he says he’s unsure, but that he doesn’t think so.  Leaving the boy with his mother and Aibreann, we investigate the coop; it has been emptied except for the dead chicken, but there does not appear to be any clues there.  We investigate the shed where Connor saw the woman—we find a barefooted print—potentially that of a woman. 

We find few other clues but convince the mother to spend the night with her sons within the safety of Carrock.  We return to Carrock, and the rest of the day passes without event.  I spend time training; I have neglected my studies in the action of the past days and nights, and it does much to center me, to prepare myself mentally for the coming fight.

The next morning, we receive yet more reports of events in the night at another outlying farm.  This time, a daughter has been kidnapped.  We recruit Rould to journey to the farm, trusting in his skills as a tracker.  The daughter Faylin, 10 years old, disappeared in the middle of the night.  The mother woke up in the night, having heard something stir in the house, and saw her daughter walking outside, thinking she was going to use the outhouse.  The next morning, they found that she had never returned.

The outhouse reveals no clues, but Rould’s keen eyes reveal footprints of a barefoot woman, the same as those found the previous night.  We resolve to consult Drachus, and to ask that all children be brought into the protection of the tower.  Rould thinks he can potentially follow the trail.  It leads north, and it seems that there are actually two sets of prints—one that of the woman, and a smaller set that may be Faylin’s, headed into the same direction in the woods.  We are left with a troubling decision; if we do not follow the tracks now, while they are fresh, we may not have another chance.  In doing so, however, we leave the town at risk.

Whoever stalks the children of Carrock at night, it makes Zeb's blood boil.  This false goddess, could it be a manifestation of the "Witch Queen" of Tussugar's past?  This "Goddess of the Hunt" certainly isn't related to Korvich or Carcerus, as her tactics are anathema to Malar's dogma.  That her appearance is coincidence seems unlikely, given the stress of the situation.  Beset by foes, wracked by unanswered questions, Zeb seems unsure how to proceed.

Monday, April 16, 2018


Once agreement on plans for the morning are reached, and everyone begins to settle for the night, Zeb will find a place in Erathmar's camp to stow his gear, leaving everything except for his trousers, light boots, Malaran fetish around his neck and belt of sheathed knives.  Zeb's trophy for the night, Ignish's fetish, hangs from his belt, and his prey's blood has been smeared in a thick line across Zeb's chest.

Zeb is tired and wounded, but he has been bolstered by Tussugar's words and feels very much alive after the ritual combat with Ignish, at one with his savage, bestial god.  Zeb's going out...and Zeb's going to Hunt.

Not so much worried about Carcerus, other scouts or any other dangers that might lurk in the forest at night, Zeb feels instilled by the Beastlord right now, and this is how he'll learn that he's either chosen correctly--or that he hasn't, in which case he could meet a very bloody end.  Zeb doesn't know what the formal rite of vorishnaad entails, but this is how he's going to execute HIS vorishnaad. formally severing his ties with the beast cults, and establishing his own new, one-man sect with a new purpose, a new aclupar--seek justice for those slain in Shadfeld, and prevent it from ever happening again.

What Zeb seeks in the forest this night is a nod from Malar, some sign that his vorishnaad is approved.  No longer will Zeb play the role of prey to Korvich's insane aclupar or to threat from the Black Devil, Carcerus.  Stand or fall, succeed or fail, he'll confront them on his own terms.

Malar's Dogma

Survival of the fittest and the winnowing of the weak are Malar’s legacy. A brutal, bloody death or kill has great meaning. The crux of life is the challenge between the hunter and the prey, the determination of who lives or dies. View every important task as a hunt. Remain ever alert and alive. Walk the wilderness without trepidation, and show no fear in the hunt. Savagery and strong emotions defeat reason and careful thought in all things. Taste the blood of those you slay, and never kill from a distance. Work against those who cut back the forest and who kill beasts solely because they are dangerous. Slay not the young, the pregnant, or deepspawn so that prey will remain plentiful.

Friday, April 13, 2018

XP awards for sessions 5-7

Looking at the accomplishments over the past few games, I'm going to continue the advancement rate (for now) of 1,000 XP per character, per session. More reasoning and explanation can be found here.

Updated totals:

  • Audric - 12,000
  • Zeb - 3,000/10,200
This puts Zeb over the key threshold for attaining 4th level as an abjurer. The training requirements set forth last time apply now as well, and I know that Jason has some specific ideas around this milestone that he can work on executing next session. While Zeb's two recent advancements feel a bit close in proximity, this is mainly attributable to his dual-class nature. It's also probably the last time we'll have this situation, since XP requirements going forward are now significantly higher.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Session #7, Zeb's Notes

4/11/2018, Session #7

We spend the remaining light preparing for camp; what traps and snares we have at our disposal are set against potential foes.  Audric tends to our wounds, using the magic provided him by the goddess Mystra.  Three watches are set, and we settle into a light, restless sleep.

We are awakened in the middle of the night by Rould; all is dark, except for the barest of moonbeams that illuminate the forest and area around Oldkeep.  We ascend from the troll’s nest, and feel the warm, damp night air, accompanied by fog.  Goblins have gathered near the corpse of the troll.  Quickly, we climb to the roof of Oldkeep.

From the broken wall, we hear a cry that pierces the night—another goblin, and this one has stepped upon caltrops laid out near the wall.  I summon a creeping fog to obscure the six goblins near the troll’s corpse, while Audric gives us Mystra’s blessing in the case that blades and arrows are brought to bear.

All of us reach the roof, and while Rould & Arkhen defend us with their bows, I assist Audric into his mail.  At least one goblin falls to their arrows, and Audric summons forth a swarm of vermin into the fog; unfortunately, we do not hear the cries of those caught within the swarm.  It is likely that our foes have retreated, and perhaps regrouped to rethink their attack.

The decision is made to allow Audric to rest in order to recover his spells.  Unfortunately, the weather does not cooperate with our plans, and a violent downpour disturbs our rest…again.  At least it’s not goblins.  We retreat to the cover of Oldkeep once again, and awaken to an overcast morning.  We’re wet, we’re wounded, and we’re poorly rested…and we’re ready to return to Carrock.

On the way back, Audric reveals that he has been wearing the magic ring all along, and asks Zeb’s thoughts on the encounter the night before.  Audric’s yell echoed from the troll—or perhaps from his sword—after striking the troll.  Zeb is surprised at the revelation, but has little to add to Audric’s quest for discovery.  The remainder of the journey passes in awkward silence.

We acquire cold drinks and warm meals, and share our news with Drachus.  Tussugar is absent, and no one has seen Maglarosh in days.  During the meal, one of Erathmar’s men approaches us, indicating that Erathmar has established a small camp and wishes to see us about a matter of some importance.

When we get to Erathmar’s camp, we find the trader…and see that he’s clearly injured.  He leads us away to someplace private, into the nearby woods.  Audric immediately suspects that it may have been Selben, returning to his previous unstable behavior.  There’s a lantern in the woods, and in the lantern’s light we see the boy, Selben, holding a dagger in front of him, and a man bound with ropes to a tree.  He is straggly and bearded, with a crazed look in his eyes.  I recognize him—Ignish, of the Beast Cults of Malar.

Erathmar explains that Ignish found the camp during the day several hours ago, encountered Erathmar and stabbed him, clearly looking for me.  Erathmar would have been killed were it not for Selben’s intervention.  Erathmar hands a scrimshaw medallion, upon which is painted a beast’s head with a bloody maw.

I pull out my own humble fetish, symbol to Malar.  I put it around my neck, seeing what reaction it elicits, and throw his symbol on the ground, stepping upon it.  Ignish responds to my goading, revealing that he serves Carcerus—and considers Korvich nothing, compared to the Black Devil.  He also reveals that Carcerus doesn’t know of Ignish’s infiltration of Carrock—can that be used to our advantage?

Audric provides his own manner of interrogation—by calling the blessing of Mystra upon him.  Audric’s intimidation results in the following revelation: “The Black Devil gathers the wolf to his aid in the depths of the forest.  You will be set upon and destroyed.”

It is clear, at this point, that Ignish cannot be allowed to live.  Though simply slitting his throat is the most expedient option, murdering a helpless opponent, even one whose actions have likely justified such a punishment, is not the way of nature.  If Ignish would have my blood…then let him take it.  I reveal my plan to Erathmar and Audric—I am wounded, and will give Ignish a grave wound to match my own and ensure his death, regardless of the outcome…then he and I will fight to the death.  If Malar deems his conviction more powerful than my own, then so be it.

I do not expect Erathmar or Audric to understand, but the trader is stoic about the affair, and Audric agrees reluctantly, though only if Tussugar, Rould and Arkhen are brought to the camp to ensure that Ignish does not escape.  Surprised, I agree to the terms.  Tussugar remains silent about my plans as well, clearly torn between seeking his own revenge and my pursuit of justice with Ignish, but he also allows me to proceed.

There’s a tang of iron in the air, as I slide my blade between Ignish’s ribs, drawing a well of dark blood and puncturing his lung.  I press his symbol—a false representation of Malar, twisted by Korvich’s insane aclupar—back into Ignish’s hand.  A knife is thrown to his feet and he is cut loose, and Ignish attacks me in a rage.

We share slashes, sizing each other up, though it is clear that Ignish is blinded by his rage.  He cuts my side, a grazing wound, while I land more penetrating blows.  He slashes at my face, drawing a long, red line that will leave a scar, but I punctuate the exchange by sinking my own blade deep into his flesh.  Ignish falls, losing consciousness, and I step forward and mercilessly end his suffering.

The kill is swift, a single drive of the knife through his neck, severing an artery and embedding itself deep into his skull with an upward thrust.  His lifeblood coats my hands, and I taste my kill, droning a low prayer to the Beastlord as salt and iron burn my throat.  I make a trophy of his false symbol, expecting others to eventually join it.

I turn to Tussugar.  “They’ve found me.  They’re close.”  

He replies, gravely—"What must we do?”

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Session #6, Zeb's Notes

3/21/2018, Session #6

Summer, leading into early Autumn.

We gather at the base of the “Tower of Carrock”, the half-constructed legacy of leaders past, and of Aibreann’s parents.  Tussugar, Aibreann herself, Drachus, Rould, Audric and myself. 

I don’t know what it is we expected to find.  There are stockpiles of blankets, dry goods and provisions for the town, but beneath the tower—in the cellar—we win access to a chamber behind a locked door.  Stale air confronts us, revealing another storeroom stocked with barrels, but also elaborately carved, moth-eaten furniture that is altogether out of place in a town such as Carrock.  We also find a large chest, on which are engraved the initials ‘ECV’—belonging to Aibreann’s mother, Ethelenda. Drachus reveals these to be the handed-down possessions of Aibreann’s parents.

In examining the room, we discern that most of the belongings are mundane in nature, though artfully crafted, if worn from time and neglect.  The chest is full of women’s clothing, presumably having belonged to Aibreann’s mother, but within the chest, Audric detects a magical aura, and with Aibreann’s blessing, rummages through the chest.  None of the items within are the culprit, but he does discover a hidden panel at the base of the chest containing a pair of books and a leather pouch; the aura emanates from the pouch.

One of the books appears to be a book of spells, the other a journal.  Within the pouch, there are three black marbles.  When handed the journal, her eyes tear up—this was clearly an unexpected find.  We hand the items over to Aibreann, expecting to revisit their importance—and potential value—later.

Recognizing that we need a guide to find Oldkeep, we ask around the various hunters of Carrock, setting up a meeting for later that day.  Back at the inn, Aibreann confronts us about our findings earlier that day.  She entrusts the black marbles to us, as we intend to use them in service to and defense of Carrock.  The journal is a pregnancy journal from her mother; it refers to the book of spells, revealing that it was plunder taken from band of orcs.  It’s identified as “particularly suitable to a young apprentice”.  She entrusts that to us as well, then reveals one last secret—that there is something else she wishes us to see.

Drachus and Tussugar, along with Rould, gather around the table.  Aibreann reveals one of the last pages of the journal, where the final entry—several pages—the only thing scribed on the page of the journal is the same mark found on the faces of the creatures we killed.  The mark looks like it may be some sort of a rune or a character of a foreign alphabet, but beyond that it holds no meaning to us.

I use my magic to examine the runes; they appear to be similar, or in fact a wizard mark; an arcane sigil, a wizard’s personal rune.  I explain to Tussugar that it may be that the creatures were in Carrock seeking the book; more likely, however, they were searching for the blood of the book’s author, Aibreann.

Tussugar reveals that he needs to ‘amend’ the story shared with us before.  When he says “he watched them both die,” he actually witnessed Ethelenda attack and kill her husband, Reginald; Tussugar retaliated, striking down Ethelenda with his axe.  Ethelenda was the ‘Witch Queen’ of Tussugar’s tale, though whether the Witch Queen existed before—as a separate entity—is unknown, as Tussugar did not arrive until later.

The hunters arrive, three of them, answering our call for aid.  One among them—short and bearded—reveals that he found the tracks, that he knows the woods better than anyone, and offers to come willingly.  His name is Arkhen.  Though short—perhaps 5’3—he looks strong and capable.  He agrees to leave in the morning.

We spend the night, preparations having been made, and awaken fresh—if anxious—and ready to go.  If we hurry, we will arrive with daylight to spare.  I spare only a moment to remind Tussugar to watch over Aibreann, and we depart.

Arkhen doesn’t know much about Oldkeep; being a day out from Carrock, it would mean spending the night in the wild to visit it, which is a dangerous proposition.  He has been there enough times to know of its location, but hasn’t been within the walls.  Our journey is uneventful, and two hours before sundown we reach Oldkeep, approaching it from the west.  The north wall is mostly intact; the south wall, however, is mostly collapsed, standing only a handful of feet high.  Inside the walls—or remains of the walls, is in interior structure, perhaps a storage chamber or shelter.

I conjure forth an unseen servant to carry a torch in advance of our investigation.  With cover provided by Rould and Arkhen, Audric & I approach the interior structure.  I notice movement within--perhaps an animal, perhaps something more threatening—but we continue our approach.  The ground inside the walls is cobbled, but most is crushed and ground with the passage of time, consumed by the earth.  Nothing is tended, but we do notice scuffs.  We find scatter—it has an odor to it, so it is not old.  There is a subtle unpleasant odor.  We see movement again; this time obviously humanoid, a gangly limb.  I order the unseen servant to raise the torch to the height of the interior structure of the keep.

The realization occurs to me that the detritus I’ve stepped in is in actuality a severed, gory arm.  As the fire reaches the top of the keep, long, clawed hands reach over the wall, and a dark, rubbery creature scales down the wall.  The creature has empty eye sockets, and evil intent.

It rushes me and Audric, and we suffer greatly from its claws and deadly bite.  Audric’s retaliation against the creature is mighty, however, and the aim of our new comrade Arkhen is true.  We flee melee, narrowly avoiding disaster, and Arken slays the creature with a well-placed arrow as it rushes forward to finish us off.

Its wounds begin to stitch and mend, the corpse to move with unnatural life, but that ends when we set flame to the creature—revealed to be a horrid troll.

Within the interior structure of the keep, we discover the troll’s lair, as well as a dilapidated stairwell leading below.  I send the unseen servant down with the torch, where we discover what appears to be the troll’s nest or bed.  The torch illuminates runes that are very similar to those found in Moonglow Cave.  Unsure how to proceed, but in need of secure shelter for the night, we ponder our findings, and make to explore the cellar further…

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Session #5, Zeb's Notes

2/21/2018, Session #5

In the aftermath of our encounter with the creatures, we lick our wounds and assess our options.  Little light can be shed on the attack or the nature of the attackers without the light of dawn; fearing that the dead citizens of Carrock may rise or present some other evil, I suggest that the dead—both the creatures and the citizens of Carrock—be burned.  If nothing else, it will serve as a grim reminder that danger has not passed.

Crude alarms and preparations are made to warrant against additional attacks, or at least provide some means of notification in the case that something else happens.  With little more to add to that effort, we retire for the night, accepting Drachcus’ offer to stay at the Inn of Carrock.  Audric tends the worst of my wounds with the blessings of Mystra, and we sleep.

We awaken in the morning, and the town—as expected, the townsfolk are abuzz with rumors, most of them pure conjecture about the nature of the beasts.  Tussugar looks much the worse for wear, having recovered little over the night.  No words are shared.  Rould assists the hunters, so we leave them to their work while we rest, recuperate, and see to our training.  I take a few opportunities, throughout the day, to inquire of Drachus and his wife of any magic users or history of magic around town—extended family with “gifts”, old scrolls or tomes passed down or inherited from previous generations, oddities turned up from passing merchants or unearthed when plowing a field.  Audric ministers to the folk of Carrock, investigating in his own way, hoping to turn up rumors or news as well.

The effort is not fruitless; we learn that a married couple, Reginald and Ethelenda—historical figures of prominence within Carrock that started construction of the tower, which still lies unfinished in the center of Carrock—were companions of Tussugar.  We also learn from a grandmother of Carrock that “Everybody knows that Aibreann is actually the daughter of Reginald and Ethelenda, and that Bartley and Emmet aren’t her biological siblings.”  We had guessed the latter, but the former is news—perhaps of some significance.

Later in the day, while searching for Drachus to attain permission to visit the tower of Carrock and explore within, we find him with Aibreann, who appears emotional—as if the result of some conflict or unpleasant discussion.  Tussugar lumbers from the room shortly after, perhaps having participated in the affair.  Though it takes a few ales to lubricate the conversation, we eventually learn more of Tussugar as he recounts the tale of himself and his companions, the “Spine Breakers.”  From the tale, we learn that the acolyte’s daughter and bowmaster’s widow was Tyoness, priestess of Shadfeld, slain by Korvich.

Rould returns late in the day with news.  The hunters followed the tracks into the wood—several miles—while they were not able to find signs of the third creature, the tracks originate from a location called Oldkeep, a ruined stronghold.  Tussugar has heard of Oldkeep and has been there many years ago.  Man last inhabited it several hundred years ago.

We are interested in exploring Oldkeep, but not until fully healed and until we’ve trained, and also not unprepared—we discuss our conversation with Drachus, and our request to explore the tower of Carrock.  Tussugar ensures us that there are no treasures to be found, but we’re not convinced—reluctantly, he agrees to speak to Drachus on our behalf regarding the matter.  Tussugar will not travel to Oldkeep with us, but Rould consents to—and Tussugar informs us that Drachus will allow us access to the tower.

The third night, we are awakened in the dead of night by alarms.  Audric dons his armor, and we leave the inn to investigate.  The alarms are coming from the west part of Carrock.  We bump into Drachus, who seems unsure how to proceed—we inform him that he needs to stay at the Inn and lead, and to organize and control the townsfolk.

The west guard has seen torches approaching along the road.  I send the guard back into town to alert the hunters—they need to know the potential for threat, to gather their bows and spears, and to get into the wood and be ready.  I assume the guards post while Audric waits in cover; we wait for whoever—or whatever—it is to approach.

When they approach within a few dozen steps, their approach stops.  They appear to be humanoids and armed, though not heavily armored.  We’re unable to make out details in the torchlight, so I grab a lantern and approach, slowly.  As I get within a dozen paces, one of the figures calls out “Zeb?”, surprised.  Erathmar!  Four of them are men of Erathmar’s caravan; two of them are women, who we later learn are villagers from Shadfeld.  They’re carrying three large bundles—corpses of victims from the attack on Shadfeld who Erathmar felt should not be left for the crows—all on foot and ragged as if worn from travel.

When Shadfeld was attacked, several people fled the village.  The caravan was among them, and they took shelter in the forest for multiple days.  The road east was closed off by Malar cultists; a number of villagers traveled west towards West Tower.  When the way east cleared, Erathmar led his group to Carrock.  They found the bodies along the way and didn’t want to leave them behind.  We traveled east immediately, however, and did not encounter Malarans—confirmation that some phenomenon of time seems to have occurred.

Tussugar recognizes the women as townsfolk from Shadfeld; the Inn of Carrock is made ready for unexpected guests!

With dawn fast approaching and adrenaline still fueling our actions, we aren’t able to return to rest.  I’m interested in confronting Erathmar to discuss his experience of the attack on Shadfeld—it was a complete slaughter.

The next afternoon, Emmet approaches us.  He informs us that Maglarosh wants to see us—perhaps our prisoner has recovered?  He leads us south into the woods along a winding path to a crude hut in the woods where Maglarosh is waiting.  Seated on the ground next to him is the boy, still not fully recovered but lucid.

“This is Selben,” he says.  “Selben hails from a village called Three Streams, to the north.  He became lost and his memory is not intact.”  The boy’s voice is shaky and unsure.  When asked about Three Streams, he tells us that the last thing he remembers is that he and some other villagers were investigating a cave in search of villagers that had been disappearing over the course of several weeks.  He doesn’t know what happened to anyone else he was with, or anything about the cave.  He doesn’t know how long ago it was, or what happened since.  When asked if he remembers anything about his arrival at Carrock, he has no memory of anything before the last day or two.

Though we have started to discover some answers, we are left with yet more questions…

The Valley of Khedrun

Map of the campaign area so far. The distance between Shadfeld and Carrock is approximately 20 miles.

Click to enlarge

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Class distributions, part 3 (modeling a society)

Part 1
Part 2

From the 2e DMG, p. 17:

Only a few people actually attain any character level. Not every soldier who fights in a war becomes a fighter. Not every urchin who steals an apple from the marketplace becomes a thief. The characters with classes and levels have them because they are in some way special. 
It's common sense, and there are numerous passages to support, that only a fraction of people in an AD&D society are classified as adventurers. Most are normal folk, perhaps trained in some vocation, with some of them being stronger, hardier, or more intelligent than even many PCs. What if we wanted to find out, given a population, how many of each class should really be present?

Let's go back to the original "fall through" algorithm that classifies everyone either as having a single class or being non-classed. When we ran the numbers previously, we said that any qualifying person was assigned to a class; the only individuals not assigned a class were those who didn't qualify.

Ultimately, that's not realistic. There should be factors other than ability scores at play in an actual society: age, alignment and training considerations, desire, upbringing, and so forth.

We determined, rolling 3d6 in order, that slightly more than one in every thousand individuals would qualify to be a paladin, based on ability scores alone. But consider what else is required: the person would need to be of sufficient age, of proper alignment and disposition, willing to adhere to the strictness of the paladin's code, and raised under conditions that would allow for the training needed to ascend the ranks of the class. What percent of those meeting the paladin's ability score requirements would also conform to the above? Ten percent? Five percent? Less?

Let's suppose, very generously, that for any individual meeting the ability requirements for a particular class, there's only a 50% chance of the class actually being attained. I can adjust the algorithm to work as it did previously, but to reject half the sets of scores that qualify for each class. In other words, half of those who would otherwise meet the paladin requirements fall through and check for the "easier" classes instead. Some will end up being bards, druids, or fighters. Others will end up having no class at all.
*** Rolling method: 3d6 (in order) ***
*** Population: 100
   Pal: 0 (0%)
   Rgr: 0 (0%)
   Brd: 0 (0%)
   Drd: 0 (0%)
   Ftr: 39 (39%)
   Thf: 26 (26%)
   Clr: 14 (14%)
   Mge: 12 (12%)
   Nil: 9 (9%)

*** Population: 20000
   Pal: 15 (0%)
   Rgr: 20 (0%)
   Brd: 107 (1%)
   Drd: 322 (2%)
   Ftr: 7254 (36%)
   Thf: 4457 (22%)
   Clr: 2845 (14%)
   Mge: 1827 (9%)
   Nil: 3153 (16%)
As we still have far more "classed" individuals than non-classed, the 50% reject rate is not nearly enough. And perhaps some classes should have lower percentages than others? The paladin's non-ability requirements are such that members of this class should be rare indeed. Rangers, bards, and druids all have alignment (and to some extent environmental) restrictions. Fighters should be more common, requiring only martial training and permitted to be any alignment. Thieves can't be lawful good, and lock-picking can't be learned on a whim. Clerics and mages require access to religion and magic.

I don't have a perfect way to arrive at these values, so to start, I'm just going to make them up:
  • Paladin - 5%
  • Ranger - 10%
  • Bard - 10%
  • Druid- 10%
  • Fighter - 20%
  • Thief - 15%
  • Cleric - 10%
  • Mage - 10%
The above should be read as "Only five percent of individuals qualifying to be a paladin will attain the class." I'm still using a fall-through procedure: those that qualify for a class but get rejected by the percentage check still have a chance to be something else.

Here are the results for populations of 100 and 20,000:
*** Rolling method: 3d6 (in order) ***
*** Population: 100
   Pal: 0 (0%)
   Rgr: 0 (0%)
   Brd: 0 (0%)
   Drd: 1 (1%)
   Ftr: 17 (17%)
   Thf: 11 (11%)
   Clr: 7 (7%)
   Mge: 4 (4%)
   Nil: 60 (60%)

*** Population: 20000
   Pal: 2 (0%)
   Rgr: 4 (0%)
   Brd: 15 (0%)
   Drd: 58 (0%)
   Ftr: 2892 (14%)
   Thf: 1945 (10%)
   Clr: 1105 (6%)
   Mge: 1087 (5%)
   Nil: 12892 (64%)
These numbers look OK at the top, but the core classes feel too highly represented. 36% of a population isn't going to have class levels. The problem may be that very few individuals can qualify for a class like paladin or ranger to begin with, so it stands to reason that a larger cut of these prodigies will end up rising to their potential, despite the narrower requirements. I'll leave the numbers for the "hard" classes unchanged but reduce the core classes to:
  • Fighter - 3%
  • Thief - 2%
  • Cleric - 1%
  • Mage - 1%
*** Rolling method: 3d6 (in order) ***
*** Population: 100
   Pal: 0 (0%)
   Rgr: 0 (0%)
   Brd: 1 (1%)
   Drd: 0 (0%)
   Ftr: 1 (1%)
   Thf: 1 (1%)
   Clr: 1 (1%)
   Mge: 1 (1%)
   Nil: 95 (95%)

*** Population: 20000
   Pal: 1 (0%)
   Rgr: 5 (0%)
   Brd: 18 (0%)
   Drd: 67 (0%)
   Ftr: 447 (2%)
   Thf: 296 (1%)
   Clr: 143 (1%)
   Mge: 137 (1%)
   Nil: 18886 (94%)
This looks a lot better. Only one in twenty receives a character class, with a single party worth of adventurers servicing a small hamlet. The prevalence of spellcasters still feels high, but these numbers are usable for modeling a population in a campaign. I don't want to worry about fractional percentages at this point.

I hope this series of posts was interesting for anyone who ends up reading. I certainly think it's something I may use in my games going forward.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

More on class ability score requirements

Building off the previous post, let's look at the numbers from a different angle. The algorithm I created was designed to simulate an actual D&D population. If the results given by the model feel too generous, you can divide by a factor that represents the percentage of inhabitants that even get a crack at having a class assigned. This could account for age distribution across the populace and enforce the notion that only a subset of people are worthy of becoming adventurers. Even at less than 1% of total, 26 paladins in a city of 20,000 may feel like a lot, in which case some kind of adjustment is probably warranted.

Another thing to be mindful of is that, based on the algorithm, all thieves have strength of 8 or lower, all clerics have strength and dexterity of 8 or lower, and all mages have 8 or lower in strength, dexterity, and wisdom. This is flawed, so while the algorithm can be used to derive the distribution of classes within a population, it shouldn't be used to make assumptions about the ability scores of any one individual.

Turning the page, what if the DM is less interested in simulating a population and more interested in knowing the odds of meeting class requirements using a specific rolling method? The code can be changed a little to generate these numbers. Here's a sampling of 100 individuals across the same two rolling methods. Instead of stopping when a set of scores meets the requirements for a class, we continue checking to figure out all character classes for which the scores are eligible.
*** Rolling method: 3d6 (in order) ***
*** Population: 100
   Pal: 0 (0%)
   Rgr: 0 (0%)
   Brd: 0 (0%)
   Drd: 2 (2%)
   Ftr: 71 (71%)
   Thf: 67 (67%)
   Clr: 71 (71%)
   Mge: 82 (82%)
   Nil: 100 (100%)
*** Rolling method: 4d6 drop lowest (in order) ***
*** Population: 100
   Pal: 0 (0%)
   Rgr: 7 (7%)
   Brd: 4 (4%)
   Drd: 4 (4%)
   Ftr: 89 (89%)
   Thf: 85 (85%)
   Clr: 85 (85%)
   Mge: 90 (90%)
   Nil: 100 (100%)
Here are the results against a population size of 20,000:
*** Rolling method: 3d6 (in order) ***
*** Population: 20000
   Pal: 26 (0%)
   Rgr: 28 (0%)
   Brd: 183 (1%)
   Drd: 658 (3%)
   Ftr: 14884 (74%)
   Thf: 14815 (74%)
   Clr: 14751 (74%)
   Mge: 14811 (74%)
   Nil: 20000 (100%)
*** Rolling method: 4d6 drop lowest (in order) ***
*** Population: 20000
   Pal: 314 (2%)
   Rgr: 608 (3%)
   Brd: 1451 (7%)
   Drd: 2896 (14%)
   Ftr: 17935 (90%)
   Thf: 18040 (90%)
   Clr: 17884 (89%)
   Mge: 17911 (90%)
   Nil: 20000 (100%)
This gets us closer to the "truth"; look at how the percentages for the four core classes (which all have statistically the same requirements) begin to normalize.

Now let's change the algorithm further to arrange each set of scores optimally. It actually gets a lot easier to be a paladin when the 17 doesn't need to fall in a specific slot. Ranger proves the most difficult class when rolling 3d6 but allowing the scores to be rearranged. 4d6, however, makes the ranger's 13s and 14s easier to hit, so paladin again becomes the hardest.
*** Rolling method: 3d6 (arranged to taste) ***
*** Population: 20000
   Pal: 1127 (6%)
   Rgr: 718 (4%)
   Brd: 4535 (23%)
   Drd: 7811 (39%)
   Ftr: 19997 (100%)
   Thf: 19997 (100%)
   Clr: 19997 (100%)
   Mge: 19997 (100%)
   Nil: 20000 (100%)
*** Rolling method: 4d6 drop lowest (arranged to taste) ***
*** Population: 20000
   Pal: 5476 (27%)
   Rgr: 6108 (31%)
   Brd: 13734 (69%)
   Drd: 15592 (78%)
   Ftr: 20000 (100%)
   Thf: 20000 (100%)
   Clr: 20000 (100%)
   Mge: 20000 (100%)
   Nil: 20000 (100%)
Using the 3d6 method, only three sets out of 20,000 failed to get even a single 9. No set failed to get at least one 9 using the 4d6 method.

Lastly, here's the same experiment with the population upped to one million:
*** Rolling method: 3d6 (arranged to taste) ***
*** Population: 1000000
   Pal: 57141 (6%)
   Rgr: 36272 (4%)
   Brd: 227410 (23%)
   Drd: 387935 (39%)
   Ftr: 999699 (100%)
   Thf: 999699 (100%)
   Clr: 999699 (100%)
   Mge: 999699 (100%)
   Nil: 1000000 (100%)
*** Rolling method: 4d6 drop lowest (arranged to taste) ***
*** Population: 1000000
   Pal: 270407 (27%)
   Rgr: 305016 (31%)
   Brd: 689606 (69%)
   Drd: 782784 (78%)
   Ftr: 999998 (100%)
   Thf: 999998 (100%)
   Clr: 999998 (100%)
   Mge: 999998 (100%)
   Nil: 1000000 (100%)
The percentages are basically unchanged, though two unlucky players failed to qualify for any class by rolling 4d6.

While this data does little to simulate a population, it might be a great tool for DMs who want to influence the likelihood of players achieving certain class requirements by choosing a specific rolling method.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Class distribution over population size

This is an experiment I've wanted to try for a little while now. In an actual settlement populated by individuals having ability scores generated by the classic "3d6 in order" rolling method, how many would qualify for the various classes?

To obtain some data, I wrote a simple program that rolls sets of ability scores X number of times, based on the desired population size. Each "person" is evaluated based on the minimum ability requirements for the standard AD&D classes and assigned to the "best" class for which the individual qualifies.

In this context, "best" can be interpreted as "hardest," or most stringent ability requirements. The algorithm I implemented is a "fall through," such that each set of scores is "tested" for the most difficult class (paladin) first. If the scores fail to meet the requirements, they get tested for the next most difficult class (ranger), and so on.

When we get down to the four basic classes, which each require a 9 in the prime requisite and nothing else, they're ordered like this:

  • Fighter
  • Thief
  • Cleric
  • Mage
This means that, if an individual qualifies for a fighter, they're a fighter. If not, but they qualify for a thief, they're a thief. Then cleric, then mage. This allows mages, clerics, and thieves to be proportionally rare compared to fighters, even though the requirements for all four are statistically the same.

Here are the results for a hamlet with a population of 100:
*** Population: 100
   Pal: 0 (0%)
   Rgr: 0 (0%)
   Brd: 0 (0%)
   Drd: 3 (3%)
   Ftr: 73 (73%)
   Thf: 19 (19%)
   Clr: 3 (3%)
   Mge: 2 (2%)
   Nil: 0 (0%)
No paladins, rangers, or bards. Two mages, three clerics, nineteen thieves, and 73 fighters. "Nil" is for scores that qualify for no class at all (ouch).

Of course, in a "real" AD&D village, most of the population would be non-classed (i.e., 0-level villagers). So it's important to read these numbers as representing the top end of the population's potential, rather than an actual class distribution. Most of the "fighters" are likely to be simple common folk with a strength score of 9 or higher. There's also the fact that the population would be spread across different age groups: a five-year-old with a 17 charisma isn't going to be a paladin (at least, not yet).

Here's another hamlet:
*** Population: 100
   Pal: 1 (1%)
   Rgr: 1 (1%)
   Brd: 1 (1%)
   Drd: 4 (4%)
   Ftr: 72 (72%)
   Thf: 15 (15%)
   Clr: 3 (3%)
   Mge: 2 (2%)
   Nil: 1 (1%)
Similar distribution, but this village could have a paladin, a ranger, and a bard among its inhabitants. Of note, I think druid, of all the classes, feels "easier" to qualify for than it should. In terms of realism, druid should have a similar rarity to the three classes above it. The bard's requirements are clearly much harder to meet, even though both include a 15 charisma. Remember that only those that make druids but also fail to make bards are assigned to be druids.

Let's take a look at a small town of 500 residents:
*** Population: 500
   Pal: 1 (0%)
   Rgr: 0 (0%)
   Brd: 6 (1%)
   Drd: 13 (3%)
   Ftr: 354 (71%)
   Thf: 104 (21%)
   Clr: 15 (3%)
   Mge: 6 (1%)
   Nil: 1 (0%)
The percentages begin to normalize with a higher population size. (Also, the previous hamlet was fairly lucky to have both a ranger and a paladin.) Here's a city of 20,000:
*** Population: 20000
   Pal: 25 (0%)
   Rgr: 31 (0%)
   Brd: 166 (1%)
   Drd: 625 (3%)
   Ftr: 14197 (71%)
   Thf: 3606 (18%)
   Clr: 969 (5%)
   Mge: 272 (1%)
   Nil: 109 (1%)
Now the "true" percentages become clearer still. At this sample size we greatly reduce the chance of outliers.

One thing I wondered before doing this was, which class requirements between paladin and ranger are more difficult to meet? Paladins definitely feel like they should be rarer; since both classes have stringent yet different requirements, what happens when we roll the 20,000-person city but allow individuals that qualify for both classes to be rangers instead of paladins?
*** Population: 20000
   Rgr: 39 (0%)
   Pal: 26 (0%)
   Brd: 180 (1%)
   Drd: 599 (3%)
   Ftr: 14255 (71%)
   Thf: 3618 (18%)
   Clr: 972 (5%)
   Mge: 224 (1%)
   Nil: 87 (0%)
The numbers are really close, so we might want a higher sampling still to root this out. Here are results for both class orderings at population size 1,000,000:
*** Population: 1000000
   Rgr: 1804 (0%)
   Pal: 1352 (0%)
   Nil: 996844 (100%)
*** Population: 1000000
   Pal: 1380 (0%)
   Rgr: 1754 (0%)
   Nil: 996866 (100%)
Still very close, implying that characters who qualify for both classes are exceedingly rare (maybe around one in 20,000). This also shows that the paladin's requirements are statistically harder to meet than the ranger's, since we end up with fewer paladins regardless of which class is favored. Makes sense, since there's only a 1-in-54 chance of even hitting on a 17 charisma, let alone the paladin's additional requirements.

I'll go back to giving paladins the benefit of the overlap. Now let's adjust the rolling method. Here are two hamlets, the first using "3d6 in order," the second using "4d6 drop lowest" (but still in order):
*** Rolling method: 3d6 (in order) ***
*** Population: 100
   Pal: 1 (1%)
   Rgr: 0 (0%)
   Brd: 1 (1%)
   Drd: 5 (5%)
   Ftr: 60 (60%)
   Thf: 23 (23%)
   Clr: 6 (6%)
   Mge: 2 (2%)
   Nil: 2 (2%)
*** Rolling method: 4d6 drop lowest (in order) ***
*** Population: 100
   Pal: 2 (2%)
   Rgr: 5 (5%)
   Brd: 3 (3%)
   Drd: 12 (12%)
   Ftr: 67 (67%)
   Thf: 9 (9%)
   Clr: 2 (2%)
   Mge: 0 (0%)
   Nil: 0 (0%)
Those are large percentage gains in the difficult classes, and not even a single set of scores falls all the way through to mage. This effect shows me that the 4d6 method should probably be reserved for PCs and significant NPCs only, not the general populace.

Finally, let's blow this up to a 20,000-person sampling:
*** Rolling method: 4d6 drop lowest (in order) ***
*** Population: 20000
   Pal: 308 (2%)
   Rgr: 535 (3%)
   Brd: 1241 (6%)
   Drd: 1738 (9%)
   Ftr: 14395 (72%)
   Thf: 1568 (8%)
   Clr: 189 (1%)
   Mge: 21 (0%)
   Nil: 5 (0%)
Interestingly, the fighter percentage actually looks like it's preserved from the 3d6 method. Even though many more characters qualify for the classes above fighter, the 9 strength requirement is also easier to hit for anyone that falls through the upper ranks. In the end, we have fewer sets trickling down to thief, cleric, and mage (around 9% total, as opposed to 24% with the 3d6 method).

Keep in mind that the 4d6 method employed by most DMs allows the player to rearrange the ability scores, making any class much easier to qualify for compared to keeping the rolls in order. I'm sure there are more experiments I can run with this code, but I'll cut it off here for now. Interested to hear any thoughts or ideas.