Qelong Tabletop

Ran the first session of a game set in Qelong using the ACKS rules tonight.  Four players generated a fighter, paladin, cleric and thief.  For a group new to ACKS I elected to start without picking proficiencies and just let them choose in play to get going quickly.

Starting in the Village of Suong, out of a couple of leads the party chose to follow up on rumors of goblins lairing beneath an abandoned watchtower outside of town.  These goblins were known for stealing trinkets and food from the villagers, but lately one had been seen running off with the spear a plague-ridden warrior had claimed was magical before his untimely demise.

After seriously considering rushing the main entrance of the half-ruined tower on top of the hill, the party circled the base of the hill and found a game trail leading to a small cave...  Entering they found a larger chamber, off which they found and killed several giant ferrets peaceably feasting on dead giant rats.  Exploring further they found stairs downward and a very narrow passage on the same level; they descended.

One level down they found a more artificially excavated level with squared off corridors and rooms.  Lucking past two encounters due to their fear of opening doors, they entered a small open room where goblins pelted them with hallucinegic toads.  This had little practical effect, and the players swiftly dispatched all but one of them.

The last survivor fled.  The fighter and paladin gave chase at a run, around a bend and into a door, and the cleric and thief followed them for back-up... at a more careful walk.  Two giant-sized goblins almost as big as a normal man and several normal goblins came back out the door.  The thief didn't like the odds and ran; the cleric was persuaded by his example.  Clarifying, I determined both meant to move all the way to the dungeon exit, and the less-encumbered thief was not slowing to match pace with the cleric.  All good so far.

The paladin and fighter decided to try their luck in battle... and strength bonuses plus cleave carried the day.  From the bodies and the room they came up with 1000 gold pieces, two goblin potions and a fine human-made axe.

I caught up on wandering monster checks for the two more discrete party members; they were lucky.

The fighters pulled a wandering monster check from the noise; more goblins.  They tried fighting again, but the Paladin got dropped at exactly 0 hit points.  Fortunately this happened the same round as Fighter's attacks forced a morale check for the goblins; impressed, the last large goblins stayed out of his sword range as he slowly dragged his companion away.  Their wandering monster checks were lucky on the way out.

Mortal wounds roll was a lucky sixteen, and a local monk was found to provide a cure light wounds.

The axe was lost when the Paladin went down, but the fighters got out with the gold and potion bottles.  Cleric and Thief were lucky Fighter's a nice guy, because he still volunteered to split the gold, which I don't think they had actually expected. 

The split came after paying for healing the Paladin and the Fighter buying four war dogs as a party expense though.  Fighter took the Animal Training proficiency.  Cleric took Healing and Divine Blessing.  Paladin took Martial Training so he could use ranged weapons.  Thief picked Alertness and Lockpicking from the book.

Then they went back!  Fighter's player wanted that spear.  First their dogs killed a watchpost of goblins for them.  Then they found an even larger haul of gold searching in a (now) abandoned room they hadn't wanted to open the first trip.  The Thief volunteered to carry the gold, and a straight face very nearly pulled it off, but the Paladin remembered him running last time before I moved the action on, so he carried the haul instead.

With a great deal of gold in their hands they... pressed even deeper!  Fighter still wanted the spear.  On to the end of a corridor, where two more large goblins herded a half dozen giant fire beetles to attack them.  Fire beetles couldn't roll for **** and dogs made short work of them, then fighters made short work of the goblins.

Wounded but still up, the party decided to turn around...  after searching.  Which got them some gems, but pulled a wandering monster on the way out.  More goblins, coming down the party's only exit route.  Fighter and Paladin melee'd.  Thief wanted to shoot one; rather than get into "rules say you can't shoot into melee at all" I told him "okay, don't roll a 1."

He rolled a 1.

Shot in the back and already wounded, the fighter dropped at -3 hp.  Paladin cleaned house in his place.  Mortal wounds roll didn't go as well this time.  He needed magical healing within a day, and lost 1/3 of his (admittedly high) Con score.  He took a chance on a goblin potion, which actually was cure light wounds in the adventure!  That covered half his problem, but he's still down some Con and needs more frequent rest.  They returned to town, and that's where we ended.

The group's stated goal for next session is to get to the larger port city of Quampong for a Restore Life and Limb.  So a couple of hexes of overland travel and a city, and we may get to engage more with Qelong as a setting than we did this session.

Anyway, it was a good session.  I thought we were close to a tpk twice, but Cleave did it's job and they swung a couple of combats that looked close to being tpk's. 

They actually picked up quite a lot of xp for one session, enough to get the thief and cleric eyeing second level.  At some moments, watching people cleave every round or not getting many wandering monsters on the way out, it felt like I was going easy for the gold they were pulling out, but again, two Mortal Wounds rolls and a couple of close combats.  Too, the dungeon I was running didn't really present any traps on their line of travel, which would have changed some things given the front line's MO. 

And of course, a Tampering with Mortality roll on the second session is their win condition at this point, so that's cool.

They seem to be doing well for a moderately-sized party with no true henchmen. The dogs were a smart investment, since they are decent low-level combatants and draw attacks away from the PCs.

Did you have them start at level one? the book seemed to suggest Qelong is best suited for LotFP parties of levels 4-6, but I'm also fairly certain there's no goblins so maybe  you're filling out the setting a bit?

We did start at level one; Qelong does say 4-6, which eyeballs about right; but I started them near some published level 1 dungeons to get them going.  The goblins were Dyson's Delve; Tomb of the Iron God and Sinister Stone of Sakkara (just the dungeon, no Turos Tem) are also placed on the map.

If they stick to their plan we'll be getting to overland travel faster than I expected, but it's only two full hexes so they should probably might be fine.  :p

Second session!  Fighter, Paladin and Cleric were in attendance.  Thief will be on a drop-in basis, and one other prospect didn't materialize.

Fighter was still gung ho to get a Restore Life and Limb for his nicked lung [lost third of Con].  One wagon and two draft horses later they set out overland for the port city of Quampong.  I pre-rolled for overland encounters (using ACKS wilderness encounter odds but the Qelong encounter charts).  First day got them a hungry ghost, which I assigned at night.

No one made a hear noises check, so the Paladin on watch slowly came to realize he wasn't alone when a man became visible while devouring a day's worth of rations out of someone's pack.  Paladin yelled to wake people up and tackled the man, passing straight through.  Through a combination of the party promising to give him more food and my never rolling a hostile reaction result despite several rolls over the following days, things never went to combat.  Paladin seemed to realise insubstantial = ghost, but the the other two players either didn't quite, or didn't panic.  But the rest of the journey was accompanied by a steady loss of rations, which always revealed a skinny man with an increasing pot belly.

On the second day of travel they encountered a ruined village.  I slotted in Curse of Ravenmere here.  [Spoilers follow.]  I left out the quarantine guards to make it a true abandoned village, so there was no exposition, and their traveling companion confused things as well - at first they thought he might be connected.  The players found some of the bodies, and I had half expected them to Nope out of there at that point, but Cleric wanted to bury them.  Procuring shovels and raiding the houses for rice and a copper pot revealed still more bodies, and they started on a pit for a mass grave.

Exploring the village shrine, Paladin detected evil on a body there, finding the body wasn't evil but a great curved sword was.  Of course he took the sword.  Fighter and Cleric tried to talk him out of it, but he expressed his intention to master it's powers for the greater good.  (I did not prompt this in any way, by the way.  Dude just wants a magic weapon.)

Ravens on rooftops hit critical mass about the time they started filling in the grave.  Players ran for cover in the shrine and locked themselves in the back with only part of the flock.  Fighter and Paladin dropped those quickly.  Paladin made a save versus spells.  Party camped indoors overnight and left town the next morning without filling in the grave.

Party took rooms, their traveling companion ate out the inn's foodstocks before morning, and they departed for the Temple of the Lotus.  Cleric bought more food on the street and enticed their companion along.

Putting all their problems before a high level monk while they were there, Cleric asked how to get rid of their traveling companion.  The Master of the Temple said that for a fee of 100 gold, he would provide a lavish funeral with mourners and incense and that should settle it.  This was arranged, and under cover of officiating at a funeral the Master made his Turn Undead throw handily.  (Which the Cleric had never tried, nor did I tell him outright that was what happened, so we may still get to enjoy the hungry dead in the future.)

Second, peer pressure persuaded the Paladin to part with his precious evil sword.  From talking about selling it, they eventually progressed to paying the temple Master a fee to take it, which covered the spell cost for a Remove Curse so he could part with it.

Finally the Fighter got his Restore Life and Limb, and a lucky 17-6 gave him a week+ of bed rest before being good as new.

While in town the Fighter recruited an animal handler to drive the wagon and tend his horses and wardogs but not go into any damn dungeons, and the Paladin recruited an out of work sailor to fight alongside him.  Cleric upgraded from the simple wooden club he started with to a commissioned silver-headed flail.

Paladin asked the temple Master if he had any side missions that needed doing, or if he had any leads on magic weapons.  The Master said he didn't know about weapons, but a monastery east of the city had been taken over by heretics, and the party was welcome to keep all the treasure they could find if they cleared it out.  For reasons unclear to me, this sketchy hook intrigued the party more than the three leads I had started them with, and they decided to travel there.

They swung wide to finish burying the bodies they had left over a week ago, which somewhat to my surprise passed without incident.  Over several days of travel they crossed a canal, bypassed a mounted Varangian patrol not interested in them, and encountered a group of sixty refugees, who begged for food.  The Fighter parted with two weeks of rations, which I worked out to feeding about two thirds of the crowd if it was evenly split (which it wasn't quite), but prudently insisted on keeping several weeks of rations.  Paladin got ready to throw down when ten men who hadn't been at the front of the crowd when food was thrown out looked ready to rush the wagon, but another player reminded him he was playing a paladin, which prompted words to the effect of "oh crap, you're right.  Aarrgghhh...  alright, I'll give them all my rations."  Which averted a rush and grapple by a crowd of unarmed civilians.

With the Monastery of 100 Flowers in sight, I ended the session a little early to go prep another dungeon.  :/  I had some lairs and dungeons ready to go, but I boxed myself in when I named a monastery on the fly and wanted a map to fit it.

No treasure xp whatsoever, but combat/challenge xp for the hungry ghost, ravens and refugees gave them a consolation prize.


Third session!  As they're still alive, I probably ought to start using character names.  Especially as our ongoing Thief was absent, but a new player rolled one.  Present this session:

  • Xander the Fighter
    • his three wardogs
    • Pran, animal handler and wagon driver
  • Ares the Paladin
    • Nath, 0 level henchman
  • Father Briar, a Cleric
  • Derval the Mage
  • Brad the (other) Thief

We picked up play outside the Monastery of 100 Flowers, said by the Master back in Quampong to be taken over by heretics and thus fair game.  Xander picked a campsite directly outside the monastery, but it was poorly sited and disturbed a nest of cobras.  The party all climbed on their wagon, which turned out to work fine as the cobras slithered off into the grass on a good reaction roll.  They continued setting up camp, leaving Pran with the wagon, horses and one wardog.

They found a complex of three asymmetrical buildings tightly clustered around a central courtyard, and picked the nearest building entrance at random.  Entering a doorless portal they found a kind of roofed graveled courtyard, with two boars resting in the far corner.  Debating bypassing them, the party talked themselves around to killing them in melee.  With two fighter types, two wardogs present and winning initiative this actually worked out for them.

Ignoring for now a set of double doors ahead of them, they turned to the left from where they first entered and explored a small complex of seven rooms.  These showed signs of being stripped of furnishings and proved largely deserted, except for one which contained a ball of hooded cobras.  Two rounds of combat with flaming oil and melee disposed of these.  It was learned they could spit at range, which not everyone knew going in, but fortunately for the party I continually missed (rolling in the open as always).

Ares and Xander fell into a 10' pit when the floor of of bricks crumbled away beneath them, but neither was rendered unconscious.  Ares laid hands on Xander, being more severely wounded, and they proceeded.  The room behind this contained a half pillar carved into a bowl on top, still half full of water.  The party searched the room, but declined to interact with the water in any way that could have triggered my entry for it.

They did find a minor concealed treasure in another of these rooms: only 100 gold, a piece of turqoise and seven silver arrows.

Returning to the entry room, they crossed to an opening opposite their location, or to the right from their first entry.  Here they found a room bare except for a stone altar covered with dried dead lotus flowers.  Derval searched it, then left a gold piece on it for luck.  The only door out of the room proved locked.  After Brad failed to pick it, Ares knocked on the door, then tried bashing it down without success, before Xander and his higher strength bonus showed him how it was done.

The door flying open revealed a burning torch thrown on the ground ten feet past it, illuminating a forty foot corridor opening into a larger room beyond.  Four crossbow bolts flew down this corridor at Xander illuminated in the doorway, but only one penetrated his plate armor, for minor damage.

Wounded already and further down, Xander ordered his dogs to attack but ducked back around a corner.  Brad fired an arrow, and Briar a sling stone.  Derval threw his lamp down the corridor to illuminate that room.  Ares charged.

The four crossbowmen went down in two rounds.  When Ares cleaved, I made the mistake of phrasing that as "the two kneeling crossbowmen go down easily" which delayed play slightly as these bastards have dirty minds.

Picking back up with play, Ares was attacked from behind by a man who'd been flat against the wall the party had charged out of.  An unarmed man behind the crossbowmen who had been directing them transformed into the shape of a wild boar.

At this point things got harder.  Briar had the silver flail he had previously commissioned, Derval had a silver dagger out of starting funds (but had no desire to personally get into melee) and Brad had the silver arrows.  (As an aside, I rolled those completely randomly, though I admit to placing them where they might possibly be found before the wereboar.)

Ares had his steel sword and tried using that.  Xander tried grappling the 'boar to hold it, which would have been awesome if it worked, but even a high roll failed to accomplish anything.  (I think I handled that correctly by the book; if I did I'll give some thought to houseruling those -4 attack throw special maneuvers, because I'd like better odds of things other than "I attack" working out.)

This fight was slightly complicated by the wall guy still trying to stab Ares in the back, but someone eventually took him down and they were able to focus on the wereboar.  Brad tried firing into melee with those silver arrows, but never hit.  I stuck with my earlier ruling of "don't roll a 1" and allowed it.  So I should say never hit the 'boar, because he hit someone in the back for two points of damage, but hey.

Briar got into melee with his silver flail, but couldn't hit at first.  Ares hit twice for successively increasing damage, but the 'boar wasn't slowed.  Xander gave up trying to hold it and took Derval's silver dagger.  Ares went down, gored by the boar.  Seeing this, Derval finally unleashed his dreaded Magic Missile, visibly scorching the boar.  Rolling for targets and being ineffectively harried by the dogs, the boar disemboweled one wardog, and badly savaged another.  The party finally brought him down with silver, and he reverted to the form of a man.

Mortal wounds roll for Ares could have been worse; lamed leg and dead in one day unless healed to 1 hp.  I figured Briar's healing proficiency overnight and Ares' lay on hands the next morning sufficed, but they made plans to get him back to town rather than make him adventure on a crushed leg and low hit points.

Derval pulled all the wereboar's human teeth, so as to keep them.

Xander butchered the two normal boars for meat, planning to sell it in town, and they set out in the wagon the next morning.  The trip was delayed by a monsoon, but they made it back without other incident.  Xander's wounded dog, though it's wounds seemed to have been closing, perished of a fever.

Treasure recovered was minor, but they were able to sell the boar's meat and scavenged weapons for some additional gold.  Ares paid for a Restore Life and Limb partly out of pocket and partly with a contribution from the group.  A second lucky roll on Tampering with Mortality gave a week plus a few days of bed rest.

Possibly I should have explained the Tampering with Mortality table to the group by now, but at this point I figure there'll be time when something interesting comes up.

Xander commissioned a silver spear and bought three more wardogs, bringing his pack back up to four.  (He's got Animal Handling, as well as his wagon driver having it.)

XP was minor since treasure was negligible, but Derval got a minor boost from leaving his offering.  (That was a Unique, I had that down in my notes beforehand.  I'm disappointed they didn't mess with the bowl of water in addition, but you can't have it all.)

The group's stated plan is to return to the Monastery next session.  I think they think that last fight was against the heretics; actually these were interloping treasure hunters and the heretics are yet to come, so that should be fun for me.