Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Malaran aftermath

This is not to imply that a dual-class human forgets everything he knew before; he still has, at his fingertips, all the knowledge, abilities, and proficiencies of his old class. But if he uses any of his previous class's abilities during an encounter, he earns no experience for that encounter and only half experience for the adventure.
(From the 2e PH, p. 45.)

That was really an incredible culmination of this adventure arc. I'd been waiting for an encounter between these parties for some time, unsure of how or when it would manifest, and hoping that Zeb and Audric didn't elect to leave Carrock before it transpired. Depending on the circumstances, they may or may not have been pursued.


Again, I advise the players to revisit Kezia's reading, in order to review it with updated context based on advances in the campaign. At the very least, I think there's musing, if not enlightenment, to be found within.

As for the Malarans, there was certainly a divide within the sect that sought its aclupar in Zeb. Korvich and Carcerus each believed themselves superior to the other; had they reached a point of severance as the power of the cult dwindled, it would likely have come down to whether the magic of Korvich could subdue the "Black Devil" before he and his wolves slaughtered the priest. Carcerus was undoubtedly the more powerful enemy; as he gained sway over the wolves and cultists fell both in Shadfeld and at West Tower, so did control over the alliance escape the Malarans' clutches. Carcerus bore no fealty toward any god; his grand design was to establish dominance over everything he could.


There still are many details to share about these events, but it's probably best to let them emerge gradually, through comments on the blog or as part of future sessions. The PCs did well in securing their victory; Zeb and Audric made sound decisions and used the available resources to great advantage. If the final encounter seemed easy, that's to their credit. The situation could easily have been reversed had the circumstances differed. As I'm particularly fond of saying, success or failure in AD&D is often determined before any dice are rolled.

XP

As this isn't a traditional dungeon-crawl campaign, neither has it made sense to award XP based strictly on treasure found and monsters defeated. While I still want to keep things relatively simple, I'm weighting more heavily the details of the party's accomplishments, in addition to accounting for the dual-class ruling quoted at the top of this post. The critical points to consider are that Zeb should receive no experience for the final encounter, and only half experience for the past two "adventures" (sessions), where he called upon his priestly powers for assistance.
  • For "story awards," this means that Zeb only receives 3,000 XP, compared to 4,000 XP for Audric.
  • An additional 1,500 XP goes to Audric for miscellaneous recovery of items. Zeb only receives half this share (750 XP).
  • A final 1,000 XP is given to Audric for the Malarans and their spoils. Regrettably, this constitutes an "encounter," so Zeb doesn't share in the award at all. (Also keep in mind that there were five participants on the side of the PCs, and total experience has been divided accordingly.)
The values above are rounded for simplicity. Adding them up, and incorporating Zeb's 10% bonus, the total awards are:
  • Audric - 6,500
  • Zeb - 4,125
The penalty for prematurely employing dual-class powers is very real, and I thought it unfair to not enforce it. Audric has his own XP hurdles in terms of the steep advancement table drawn up for Crusader; nevertheless, this allotment crests him over the threshold for 5th level, which requires five dedicated days of training before he can raise his abilities. Updated party totals:
  • Audric - 18,500
  • Zeb - 3,000/14,325
Recovered Items

I'm assuming the passage of time sufficient for both characters to train (five days). During this period, castings of detect magic and read magic can be completed (note that these castings are still being made at Audric's and Zeb's "old" levels):
  • The hook-bladed axe wielded by Carcerus emits a faint magical aura. This weapon deals damage as a bastard sword and can be used one- or two-handed.
  • The wooden spoon carried by Maglarosh (but not the bowl) emits a faint magical aura. When placed inside the bowl, a pasty and unappetizing (but ultimately edible) gruel forms within.
  • The ruby charm worn by Maglarosh upon a silver chain emits a moderate aura of abjuration magic.
  • The necklace recovered from the troll's nest at Oldkeep is valuable, but non-magical. It may have once belonged to a noble or some person of importance. Erathmar appraises this piece at 500 gold pieces.
  • The oakwood medallion bearing the symbol of Nobanion is non-magical.
  • None of the other plundered wares present as magical.
  • Same as previously, Audric's pewter ring radiates an overwhelming magical aura. Its school cannot be discerned.
The spellbook found in the basement of the tower in Carrock contains the following spells:
  • 1st level
    • Cantrip
    • Detect magic
    • Enlarge
    • Identify
    • Light
    • Mount
    • Read magic
    • Spider climb
    • Spook
  • 2nd level
    • Bind
    • Deeppockets
    • Detect invisibility
    • Locate object
    • Melf’s acid arrow
    • Whispering wind
  • 3rd level
    • Delude
    • Dispel magic
    • Secret page
    • Protection from normal missiles
Happenings in Carrock

The party's victorious return brings revelry and accolades. In the ensuing days, Larimo the gnome begins to recover from his injuries, Rould is appointed head-huntsman following the loss of Arkhen, and Tussugar Grim is named Carrock's official captain-at-arms, with all martial training and the entire defense of the village under his charge. Moreover, the dwarf agrees to make his permanent residence within the tower, taking ownership of the structure once commissioned by his longtime friend, Reginald the Stoutheart.


For Zeb's part, the requested pauldron and helm are fabricated by village craftsmen at no cost. Neither is coin accepted from Zeb or Audric for meals, ale, or accommodations for the remainder of their stay. They are truly looked upon as heroes.


When approached about the upcoming journey, Bonie is taken aback, and Larimo even more so, knowing little of the PCs at all. Like Tussugar, the gnome is slow to heal naturally, a generation (in gnome years) more aged than the others. Following her initial surprise, Bonie expresses a need to return to West Tower with news that the valley is once again safe for travel. She pledges to consider the offer, though much will depend on the health of Larimo.

Rould is grateful for the desire of his accompaniment but respectfully declines, hopeful that he might aid Tussugar in fortifying their new home. There is much work ahead in Carrock to prepare for the coming winter. Erathmar, however, is ready cut his losses and agrees to the proposal instantly, along with the rest of his company.

Selben's progress in magery is slow, but not fruitless. By Zeb's estimation, a month of additional study is required for Selben to learn read magic sufficiently to begin scribing a new spellbook from the existing tomes. Neither are the necessary materials available in Carrock; the resources of a larger settlement will be needed. (Such is the danger of losing one's spellbook.)

Moving Forward

I think that's all I have for Zeb and Audric right now. Feel free to post comments to advance things forward. If you choose to pass additional time in Carrock, let me know how much, and for what purpose. If you'd like to open dialogues with specific NPCs, you're free to do that as well. The time of year is early fall, several days before the autumn equinox.

7 comments:

  1. The experience award is very fair. I knew what I was potentially sacrificing when I cast protection from evil on Selben, drawing on clerical powers that had remained dormant for so long...and in the moment, it was definitely worth it. Even though it didn't return any information directly, I learned much from the casting.

    And during the conflict with Korvich and Carcerus, the use of those powers was definitely worth it! I was stressed during the last few sessions, unwilling to take the time to train, knowing I would likely need to use my clerical powers in the coming battle...but it all worked out in the end. The sacrifice in experience is not insignificant, but I don't regret any of the decisions that were made.

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    1. Thanks, glad you're at peace with it. I tried to calculate XP as favorably as possible while still being true to the spirit of the rules. Added up the points a couple different ways, and both result sets were very close. That definitely increased my comfort level that the values were fair, before making them official. Also happy that Audric gained a level!

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    2. I'm always happy to gain levels and loot. I don't think I realized that Zeb used Clerical powers in the battle with Carcerus. I still don't have a great handle on which spells are clerical and which are arcane. I think the uses were very justified and they didn't hurt you much in the XP. You will catch up and surpass me soon enough.

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    3. Zeb used both command and hold person against Carcerus and Korvich, both cleric spells.

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  2. 5th level is big for spellcasters, excited to see how that affects Audric's development. You know...assuming he ever gets over murdering Arkhen and uses magic again.

    I'm thrilled about the magic spoon...will have to see how I can put unlimited gruel to use in martial situations. Joking aside, it's a flavorful item for Maglarosh to have had, glad to own it.

    I didn't expect Selben to learn quickly, especially given our lack of resources. I think you've provided a fair estimate, and it should make an interesting challenge going forward.

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    1. Say what you will about the spoon, but sometimes items like this prove to be valuable resources. I'm reminded of the decanter of endless water that Carmen acquired before the Ravenloft party got sucked into the deserts of Har'Akir.

      Of course, items recovered in the campaign represent artifacts that specific individuals had about their persons for one reason or another - sometimes dating back many years. I try to avoid items that are planted somewhere lacking any purpose but for the PCs to find them. Probably a big reason games I run tend to be low-magic.

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  3. An amendment to Selben's uptake of read magic: I'll rule that any day of fully dedicated and uninterrupted study, aided by a mentor (Zeb), will mark three days off the required total. Each day of study amid non-strenuous travel, daily errands, or similar distractions will mark off one day only. This is designed to emulate the natural healing rules (1 hp/day of rest vs. 3 hp/day of bed rest), both for realism, and to add another variable to the resource management decisions of the PCs.

    Note that any kind of adventuring or strenuous activity will render a given day non-productive for arcane study; to get the three-day benefit, Selben has to be completely holed up and singularly focused (similar to bed rest).

    Selben will still require material resources beyond what Carrock can offer to actually begin crafting a new spellbook.

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