Roll20: Life In The Big City

The last few weeks had introduced the adventurers to the depths of the city; this week brought the depths to them.

For most, shopping was the priority. The grand Bazaar beckoned, definitely a step up from the Rat Market, and opportunities were available to dispose of equipment and armour stripped from dead opponents – with deductions for cleaning, repair, and the non-asking of awkward questions.

Others found messages slipped under doors, or messages left at the nearest House Sivis message station, and made contact with sympathetic souls interested in meeting the newest adventurers in town.

A week went by without contact from their patron, and then it all kicked off. A visit to the message station found the place in disarray and the gnome clerk unconscious.

Papers and ink were spilled around the office, and footprints in the ink suggested an attack by Kobold, led by another warforged. The party learned from the revived clerk that a message had just come through from their patron, and seemed to be the only thing missing.

A backup message was then delivered by a giant owl, promoting cries of “The Hogwarts Express Delivery!” by the players. Summoned back to the Broken Anvil, they found their patron dressed for travel. She handed them a haversack and was telling them about instructions places in one of the pockets, when the Kobold and their leader began their attack on the inn.

With the party having posted guards at the door, they weren’t as penned in, or taken by surprise, as their attackers might have hoped. The kobolds proved to be troublesome rather than dangerous, unlike their leader who was skilled enough to be able to hurt the most fully armoured of the adventurers.

The tide soon turned however. First Koff grappled and captured one of the kobolds, having realised that he could easily weather the attacks of his foes. A sleep spell from the Bard and crossbow shots from the inn’s windows soon whittled down the rest of their attackers.

Lady Elaydren fled the scene, fearing more assassins, leaving the party with a magical haversack filled with supplies, a letter with instructions to head for the Mournlands, and credit for travel on the lightning rail.

Seemed a good place to stop playing for the evening…

It’s Rollercoaster season again

It may have been sunshine and showers, weather-wise today, but being British, we’ve not let that stop us today from picking up our renewed Merlin passes and throwing ourselves back down some of our favourite roller-coasters at Thorpe Park. It’s been good to get out in the air – even when that air has been whipped with wind and rain – after such a miserable winter. Hard to believe that only a few months ago the Park was being used as a base for emergency vehicles rescuing people from the floods, and people were being put up in the budget hotel attached to it.

Now it’s back to its regular use, and this afternoon we’ve reintroduced ourselves to most of our old favourites. My daughter was heard to quip: “with any luck the rain will drive away the tourists,” when she heard our plans (I’m so proud), and to a degree this was true. We had relatively small queues to deal with, and while we had one ride stop loading while we were waiting, it was only for “essential cleaning” rather than a mechanical breakdown – i.e. someone was sick all over it and they needed to disinfect the ride.

So yeah… after a disappointing day on the job front, this was just the thing to distract me and bring me out of myself. Now for an evening of assorted Marvel film catchups with the girls – Blade and then Iron Man 3 I think…

A Few Site Changes

I’ve been getting some good feedback from my fellow Roll20 players about the write-ups, so I thought I’d make it easier for everyone to pick up the narratives without seeking through all the blog posts.

To that end there are now pages devoted to the various campaigns we’ve been playing over the last year, each session listed in order – and when I’ve finished, fully linked so you don’t have to use the drop-downs to follow the story. (The only reason I’ve not done it all yet for the Croomik campaign as of the time of writing is that it’s getting late and I’ve got both a job interview and a full day of work lined up for the morning)

Anyway, enjoy, catch you later.

Roll20: The Forge

This week’s session brought the players to the endgame for their first adventure, set in the ruined vault of a long abandoned House Cannith Forge.

It was also a Bank Holiday here in the UK, so I had hoped to get started a little earlier. A combination of technical issues and multiple coffee brewing requirements put a bit of a damper on that, but we still started on time.

Much of the out of game banter during the week had revolved around the bat swarm that had caused so many problems, so I had promised there wouldn’t be any bats this week. I gave them a beetle swarm instead. Think of the beetles in The Mummy, that’s the sort of scene they faced.

Possibly due to the coffee refuelling, the players were more on the ball this time, and they distracted the swarm with food thrown in it’s path. Skirting past the ensuing frenzy, they pushed further into a tangle of ruined workshops.

Now, the biggest problem we had was that while I could see the map, no one else could. Some sort of glitch meant that the players could see nothing. I tried removing the Fog of War settings and copying the map into a fresh instance but we had no joy. I’m still not sure what caused the glitch, as everything seemed to work fine for me, maybe it was a file format problem, but I’ll update when I get to the bottom of it.

So we had to go really old school and fall back on my describing things and moving tokens that only I could see to keep track of everything. The chat, video and dice functions were all still working just fine so we just used our collective imaginations and it all worked out fine.

The next hazard they encountered were a group of Horrid Rats, basically weaponised Dire Rats created by druids in the Last War. Each the size of small dogs, covered in bony quills, spikes and plates; with acidic drool and infested with virulent diseases, they attacked this new food source but fortunately didn’t manage to harm anyone. Ruin, the Warforged Druid, even managed to Charm one, providing a potent temporary ally.

Bypassing a generally intact chapel, the group then finally found the sealed Forge and gained entrance by way of the roof. The party’s thief nearly needed new trousers when he came face to face with three Iron Defenders within the workshop itself. These are basically robot guard dogs.

The battle was brief but packed with memorable moments, from Ruin’s charmed ally eating it’s way through one of the defenders, to Koff, the half-orc barbarian, smashing his opponents with well-timed critical strikes.

The shelves of the workshop turned up some masterwork weapons that were eagerly appropriated, and then with the aid of the journal the secret hiding place of the schema was uncovered.

A brief attempt at an ambush by another Warforged, was quickly repelled, and the group returned for their reward. More work was promised by their benefactor, and we stopped there so everyone could go catch Game of Thrones.

The adventure itself was based on the sample adventure included in the Eberron Campaign Book, with scaling and extra adventures in the tunnels to compensate for our larger than average group. Be interesting to see how it develops from here…

Happy Easter

It’s been a wonderfully weird weekend, juggling work, a good friend’s birthday, travel and chocolate with more tequila than I’ve drunk in a while; and now I’ve just realised I’ve even got a Bank Holiday Monday to enjoy.

Being diabetic, I can’t go overboard on alcohol or chocolate too often, simply because of the fluctuations in blood sugar levels they cause. Fortunately though there’s no ban in indulging now and then.

So, I can be moderately disreputable this weekend. Woo hoo! I’ll catch you all later, I’ve a book to finish reading, another to continue writing, and somewhere in there possibly some sleep too

Roll20: The Sewers

Week three brought a more traditional dungeon crawl feel to the campaign; but it was one marked with more than the odd but of laughter.

Investigating the newly unsealed tunnel brought an immediate encounter with a swarm of bats that were as confused and in need of escape as the adventurers were of ingress.

Surprised and battered by the flurry of flying rodents, torches were lit to try and ward them away. The panicked addition of a vial of alchemist’s fire soon filled the air with burning bats, adding a whole new level of terror before they escaped out into the wider sewer complex.

A brief rest in the aftermath allowed a new player to join the group, and then they ventured forth into the deeper tunnels. Knowing that they were venturing into a long abandoned research forge owned by House Cannith, you might have expected a few surprises along the way.

In this instance the surprise came in the form of steam-powered prototype half golem zombies that had been set to guard the final entrance.

It was a hard fight against very tough foes. It probably didn’t help that the party’s cleric completely overlooked the zombie part of the equation and so made no attempt to Turn them.

The gargoyle that had been creeping up behind the party at the same time fortunately made some terrible attack rolls, allowing the raging half orc barbarian to make a devastating critical attack that stopped the threat in it’s tracks.

We ended the session there. If the session did anything, it served to highlight how even the brightest and most clued up players will sometimes just lose the plot. I had expected the cleric to easily Turn the mechazombies, neutralising them but putting the party in a position to make the gargoyle attack the primary set piece of the session. I instead did a little surreptitious rebalancing on the fly to lower the lethality of the encounter.

The players all know that I generally let characters doom themselves rather than setting out to get them, but at the same time I do try to get them involved in telling a story and don’t like making people feel railroaded. That’s why I don’t have any hesitation about giving extra reasonable chances for the group to dig themselves back out of trouble from time to time.

Of course next week they get to the forge itself, so all bets are off 😉

Roll20: Eberron Week Two

More people made it to the table this week, which was a pleasant ego boost. Even with having GM’d for most of these people for many years, I’m still very aware that it was many years ago and that it was in other game rule sets. As a result, hearing people, both new and old, express enthusiasm and demonstrate engagement both in the game and in the on-line forum and chat channel associated with it tickles me.

Floorplan for the Broken Anvil inn
The Broken Anvil – Home from Home

We picked up where they left off last week, having made their way to the Broken Anvil Inn, a refuge from the rainy streets of Sharn. A bit of narrative handwavium was accepted by all to place the extra players here and to retcon their having met on the road.

Settling in and updating each other on their evening’s adventures, the group was soon approached by a prospective employer, the Lady Elaydren d’Vown of House Cannith. She had been working with the murder victim to retrieve a long-lost portion of a schema of historical interest to her House. Offering gold and the goodwill of her house (of particular interest to Ruin, the Warforged druid), she gave them a partial map and the journal that had been held by the murdered man – an enchanted means to open seals that they would encounter along the way.

Their journey took them down into the lowest levels of Sharn, down where the disenfranchised goblins and shifters make their homes. They sought out the Rat Market, one of the shifting temporary markets serving local residents and scavengers alike, where a goblin merchant called Skakarn was persuaded/intimidated into revealing the route to a particular obscure sewer cluster named in the maps. He fled when intruders arrived to challenge the party, no doubt harbouring resentment for the way these rich upper level adventurers treated him.

Once more, they found people trying to steal away the journal. Another Warforged – this time a thief – led a team of trained Shifter warriors against them. The fight was brief but brutal, punctuated by valves shooting streams of sewage across the already treacherous battlefield, leaving the party battered but victorious and able to approach the hidden seal to open the way into tunnels that have been sealed for a thousand years.

So – we’re gathering speed in this prologue, and starting to get a feel for party dynamics. Tactics and partnerships are starting to evolve, and I’m looking forward to how the group evolves as more of the regular players are able to free themselves from various short term work commitments again.

Roll20: Eberron

Well that went well… I have to admit I was a little worried about how much of a car crash my first session GMing in Roll20 was going to be. As it turned out, I didn’t have much to worry about.

Four people had to bail at the last minute for work and family reasons, but that still left five of us, with only one person needing to create a character. With the aid of Heroforge, that didn’t take long at all, and we were able to start what I called the prologue.

I’ve got a number of threads in the forum associated with our game where I’ve been encouraging my players to roleplaying introductions and talk about why they’ve joined together, so that allowed us to brush past any particular narrative bandwagons to throw them into the action.

In this case, the players have met on the road to the city of Sharn and  enjoyed each others’ company enough to carry on looking for work together. The combination therefore of a Half-Orc  barbarian, a Warforged druid, a Human bard and a Halfling cleric  was not as odd as might have otherwise been expected.

Their adventure began as they made their way through the rainy skybridges to look for lodgings, where they encountered the aftermath of a mugging. A shadowy figure fled into the darkness, only to return with an accomplice when the adventurers stopped to investigate the body before them.

The pair of warforged barbarians attempted to retrieve a satchel from their victim, but were swiftly despatched; with one being grappled and thrown from the bridge by the half-orc, and the other perishing under the blades of the bard and druid.

The arrival of a suspicious Watch patrol was defused with cooperation and witnesses from nearby homes, and the satchel was taken as evidence. Directed to the nearest inn by the Watch sergeant, they observed a nobleman approaching the guards as they left, but continues on their way to get out of the rain. The session ended with the group settling to eat, and negotiating food and board.

Hopefully we’ll have a fuller complement next week, as the inn is a perfect staging point for gathering them all together. I’ve more or less got all the maps prepared, so let’s see what happens.