Monday, April 4, 2016

FR #6: From Brithem to Port Llast

Note: A bit of additional detail regarding Grimmantle is provided below, as I don't think I relayed Mara's findings completely during the game.

4 Mirtul

After its initial victory rush subsided, the fiefdom of Brithem began to pick up the pieces left from the destruction wrought by the dragons. The majority of the party helped where it could, transporting supply carts and fortifying the castle, while Wren sought Mara to learn more about her unattributed, weathered map. Through the tomes in her study, Mara imparted that "Grimmantle" (the name cryptically scrawled upon the parchment) was a kingdom in the eastern Crags founded by humans in 272 DR (curiously, the "Year of the Weeping Kingdom") to guard against orc attacks. The following passage was found pertaining to the year 306 DR (more curiously, the "Year of the Fanged Horde"), three decades later:

The kingdom of Grimmantle in the Mlembryn lands falls to the Thousand Fangs orc horde, which then assails Illusk and Neverwinter. The horde is eventually blunted and scattered by a mercenary army led by Grauth Mharabbath, "the Knight of Many Battles."
Armed with this information, the PCs set their eyes south to Neverwinter, in hopes that the resources of a larger city might reveal more detail still.

As they prepared to leave, they were approached by a blond-haired soldier, notably one of the ballista operators at the northeast farm. The man bowed, giving the name Aranos Dalebriar, and he humbly petitioned the party for employment. Aranos explained that he had first come to Brithem more than a decade earlier with a lone surviving family member, an older brother, who most recently was slain during the dragons' initial assault upon the castle, before the PCs arrived. Asking for nothing more than food, shelter, and the opportunity to learn (the party declined to offer a wage), an agreement was made.

The morning of their departure, Lady Deidre met the heroes inside the castle gates, gifting them a small, leather pouch containing a polished gray stone with inclusions of deep crimson: "bloodstone," she declared it, and an amount of which valued upwards of one thousand gold pieces, this far west.

Exchanging well wishes, the party took to the rolling trails leading back to the crossroads, which they reached before sunset that same day. No campsites were occupied, at present, though evidence showed that some were recent; fearing Whisper's bandits, they continued south along the High Road for an hour before sleeping, fireless and with watches kept. The next three days passed uneventfully, though Arendeth took the opportunity to converse frequently with Aranos and impress upon the warrior his values. Aranos spoke of having been raised in a small village far south of Neverwinter, many years ago; his father was a stonecutter.

On the fourth night of their journey, rain fell long into the evening, and the party was forced to scavenge for usable wood and set a fire for warmth with the aid of lamp oil and a casting of produce flame. The first watch heard skittering sounds emanating from the underbrush, though several minutes later the noises passed. The following day was dry again; late in the morning, a giant hawk attacked the party from behind, assailing Riwyn (possibly due to the presence of Merlin the owl on her person) multiple times before the bird could be driven off by volleys of arrows and a light spell directed at its eyes.

A few hours later, they crested a hill looking down upon a walled town, and arrived at the gates of Port Llast in the waning afternoon of the Ninth day of Mirtul, 1354 DR (the Year of the Bow).

On Hirelings and Henchmen

Aranos is formally a hireling (albeit an unpaid one, currently). The party's newfound prestige and the ex-soldier's situation brought the sides together, come what may. His actions will be mainly decided by the characters (within reason), and his morale and loyalty influenced heavily by the treatment he receives. This is far from a new concept in AD&D, though it's not one we've employed much in the past. I want to state clearly that Aranos is not intended as a "DMPC" and neither does he consume a share of the party's awarded experience.

Looking forward, depending on how their mutual relationship blossoms (or wilts), there may be an opportunity for Aranos to become something more. Henchmen are a resource we've dealt with even less over the years we've played, but an ally taking on such a status could prove a valuable asset, indeed.

On the Experience System

As posted earlier, I did record damage dealt and received according to the Tao-of-Dnd experience system (my spreadsheet worked quite well). This is only to serve as a proof of concept for the time being, and while I see a lot of merit in the approach, I think certain questions are likely to arise. In the case of the light spell cast by Arendeth against the hawk, that seems to fall under the paragraph quoted below:
"Finally, there are various spells that do not provide an x.p. bonus, though they affect the combatant's attack or defense. Partly this is because of the difficulties in tracking the damage done, but largely it must be understood that casting a spell is very often not a risky action for a spellcaster. This is especially true of spells that can be cast well ahead of a battle, such as bless, armor, phantom armor, barkskin or stoneskin, etc."
(I ended up having a quick email exchange with Alexis to confirm his intentions for spells like light. Casters can take solace in the fact that blinding an opponent still makes it easier to hit, which should lead to greater and easier XP for everyone in the party.)

Again, I'm only dabbling with this system for now; I'll make a formal announcement if I decide to move to it permanently.

A Final Word

I always try to be attentive to the players' interest levels and the varying degrees of distress or frustration around the table when we play. While joking and kidding around during D&D games are inevitable (I'll be the first to admit that I regularly partake), I want to make sure everyone understands that I put a good deal of work into preparing for (and recapping!) our sessions, and that players put a lot of thought and effort into creating and developing their characters, both in and out of game. I think we all need to remember that lines are easy to cross when having alcohol-supported fun, and make sure that our enjoyment never comes at the expense of others' or detracts from the game itself. I've seen some of that over the past couple sessions and kindly ask everyone to please keep these points in mind. I'll work to help set the right example as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment