The Maze du Châtel

Side Note: I think that technically, the restore life and limb spell is supposed to always prompt a Tampering with Mortality roll. However, when I looked at the possible results, rolling for someone who lost a hand seemed … odd.

So at least for my games, RL&L only prompts the roll if it is actually restoring life.

On the other hand, I’m not convinced that’s best. I may roll at +6 if alive during the casting, instead. Anyway, just wasn’t sure and thought I’d mention it.

Session 6
This week’s session was extra-short due to scheduling conflicts. As it was, that meant more of a cliffhanger than usual, which I’m happy with. Player emails have been fast and furious the last few days as they try to figure a way out of their predicament.

I think they have a solid, if risky, plan, but that will have to wait until next week.

Day 1
Lord Sigimund asked - if not in so many words - if the Grim Fist was willing to wipe out or drive off a village of ogres for him. While it is obvious that these brigands are lawless … the party decides it’s worth doing for its own sake, especially if they can get some help.

However, Sigimund is unwilling to give them assistance - indeed, he seems to think he’s doing them a favor by directing them to the ogres.

The party decides to go for it anyway, and camps near Sigimund’s site to recover from their forced march.

Day 2
Rather than face the ogres en masse, the party thieves watch the ogre camp for schedules and typical paths. They also learn that they wiped out roughly a third of the village’s warriors … and that outside the narrow confines of the Maze, the ogre champions mount giant boars.

A census gives 50 warriors, 10-15 champions, 5 sub-chieftains, a shaman, 50 females, and 40 young.

Still …

The party plans a quick succession of three ambushes for the largest gangs, intended to occur fast enough that the ogres can’t mount an organized response. This fails at the first gang, as the champion survives the volley and flees on boar-back, too fast for the party to follow, shouting warnings.

Within a few turns, ogre gangs are swarming the woods, hooting signals, looking for the hated Human In Shiny White Armor And His Posse.

Which reveals problem two: the ogres know the area better than the Grim Fist.

Our heroes flee for their lives, get lost in the wilderness, then stumble into a warband of seven hill giants. The party is Surprised.

Not their day.

After a brief and horrible battle, they wake up in crude, but effective cages, stripped of gear. Only Vulfelind (who successfully fled and hid) remains free. Nearby, a cast iron pot sits suggestively empty …

End Session Notes
Not much to say, really. One hill giant is rough for a party. Seven is ouch.

The giants dealt all nonlethal damage because they like their meat fresh. This ended up making the mortality table mostly a formality - the main bad thing was that every henchman lost -1 morale as a result of the calamity!

Just a quick note to say that July 4th kind of blew my usual schedule, and I probably won’t have time to do a session update until next Tuesday.

We had fun, though :-).

Oh, man. I hope to hear how the party escaped the hill giants. Or failed to do so, and become glorious, tasty stew.

Day 2
Sorry for the briefness of this write-up. Trying to get it written quickly.

Vulfelind had escaped the giants during the battle and remained hidden. The party had been captured, and the cages that were so easy to open from the outside were less so from the inside. One of the giants hung around, and hung around, and hung around …

And finally Vulfelind had enough of waiting. So she shot him with an arrow from behind. The giant roared, stood up, and turned around … and she shot him again. These are pinpricks on his hit points, mind you, but it still got him properly mad, and he went after her, first throwing rocks (she took cover), and then picking up his club and giving chase.

Vulfelind managed a pretty creative discussion of his ogre ancestry while fleeing for her life.

Once the two of them were gone, the party went to work on the cage. With less need for silence, they made pretty quick work of it, and began scouting the camp for their gear. This took … longer than they might have liked, and still no return of giant or Vulfelind.

(I ran Vulfelind’s chase in a separate room, and the player, bless her heart, kept a good poker face about her fate.)

As they were dressing, one of the other giants wandered back into camp, saw what was going on, and …

Chlodomer told the lie of his life. “Oh, Mister Giant, Sir! We’re soooo sorry about this, we were just going looking for you. We were bargaining for our lives, and that other guy agreed, so we told him where a real treasure was, and he let us go, and that was great, but THEN. THEN. Oh my goddess. He took off looking for the treasure! By himself! As you know, we’re Lawful, and if we’d thought he wasn’t going to share with his friends, we’d’ve waited until you came back before offering. I mean, really! Anyway, we made the deal, but we wanted to make sure you got the location, too, so he doesn’t keep it all to himself.”

If there was ever a time for Chlodomer to roll boxcars on a reaction roll, this was it, and he did.

And then Grizzba gave the giant directions back to the ogre camp.

And then the party sauntered out.

With no way of tracking Vulfelind or the giant (Vulfelind was the party tracker), the party decided to return to Sigimund’s camp and demand the assistance of a tracker.

It doesn’t go too poorly. Lord Sigimund is vastly amused by their request, and - given some recent difficulty with Baldaswind’s morale - he decides that Baldaswind can aid them in finding Vulfelind. However, he warns them that making further demands on his time will end primarily in horrible fates, picked individually, for them all.

Vulfelind was still unaccounted for at the end of the session.

Session 8
Day 3
Baldaswind seems relieved to get away, and they stealth to the area where the giants were, where she picks up the trail fairly quickly.

They discover that Vulfelind led the giant to the ogre camp.

Dead giants (including her pursuer) are staked out at the entrance. Dead ogres lay in ditches all around the ogre village. And sitting at a tree stump table, sketching on a map and talking to the Ogre Chief … is Vulfelind.

True, she’s manacled. And un-equipped. And looks half-starved. And a bit scared. And badly bruised. But hey! Alive!

The party takes a day to scout and observe. They determine that the giants wiped out a significant fraction of the ogre squads, and Vulfelind’s henches (who managed to remain loyal to her, and possess Animal Husbandry) note that the boars have been over-eating. Enough to slow them down.

(The ogres feed them on a careful schedule; Vulfelind “adjusted” the feed lock.)

(And at this point, Vulfelind’s player indulged in some unseemly begging for the party to save her, and had to be banished from the room. There were maybe two Blackleaf is dead jokes, which were also unseemly.)

Day 4
The party discussed. The party cornered Baldaswind and asked, point blank, if she would help them do something crazy.

She said yes. And minutes later, her tigers showed up as well.

They tried their original ambush plan, again, but with ditches dug to slow down the boars, and better target choices.

They fought in ranks. They targeted the boar-mounted champion first. And they killed the ever-loving snot out of two squads in short order. And then Chlodomer made sure he was spotted in his sparkling white best near the edge of camp before running away.

The Ogre Chief frothed at the mouth. The Ogre Chief jerked Vulfelind out of the tent, threw her behind him on his boar, and gave chase, calling out to his private guard.

The boar ate a ditch and fell. As he hit the ground, Ogre Chief ate four (out of many) thrown spears … and then Vulfelind stabbed him in the back, and he went down for good.

This was the beginning of the end. The party took casualties, but, oh, the casualties they inflicted. (Worse, from an ogrish point of view, Vulfelind had been talking up the horrible power possessed by “the White-Plated Monster” and his alliance with giants.)

The village of ogres finally fled. Healing rolls were made. Vulfelind was fed. Slaves were freed.

And oh, the loot. In the end, they left loot behind (for the first time in the history of the Grim Fist), because they had no way to carry it … and didn’t want to risk the wilderness encounter charts again to come back for it. That gave Galswintha an opportunity to cherry-pick the giant and ogre hoards, however, which she enjoyed quite a bit: the party decided to name her Party Treasurer.

Some discussion later, they decided to ditch the Maze (Vulfelind and Galswintha, unaccustomed to my play style, actually asked if that was “okay,” since I’d obviously put a lot of work into the Maze. Hah!) and head back to Orléans.

And Vulfelind … managed a shaky, but solid-enough reaction roll with Baldaswind to hire her. (Side note: Baldaswind was Neutral, Sigimund Chaotic; and Baldaswind wasn’t happy with Sigimund leaving her out to dry or ignoring her debt to her rescuers - and Vulfelind basically offered her better terms with a more alignment-compatible situation.)

Days 5 and 6
Orléans! More restore life and limb! A little spending to recover gear!

Threats of being locked in a closet if the Party Treasurer’s first week included spending the entire treasury!

The party then spends the rest of the session sussing out rumors of “things to do” near Orléans, and finally decides on next session’s goal: they want to try out the mercantile rules, now that they have the kind of cash required.

We look at the larger-scale map, and they ask about the route to the Greuthungi kingdom - it looks close, and there’s an highway marked with runes.

… and I mention that the highway was an old dwarven highway, still in use two centuries prior (and marked by megaliths), but that the forces of Chaos had bubbled over from some event south of the highway and cut it off, and now it was abandoned. The only real route to Greuthungi is via Paris, much farther north, and much longer.

Grimoald asks if those rune-marked megaliths are the same sort as they saw in the center of the ogre village. And, in fact, that was one of them … which lets them place the ogre village more precisely on the map, and indicates that there might be a more open pass to Greuthungi that no one else knows about.

And then we run out of session, and the players take their discussion to email, so we can get started quickly next time.

But their plan at the moment is to find out what’s popular for shipping to Greuthungi this season, and beat the market there.

End Notes
Between ubiquitous healers (and especially Eldremer, who scampers amidst the party and usually manages the “within one round” bonus) and increased hit points, the party has had no deaths at all for a while. Even in this last session, with seven fallen members, no one rolled low enough to die. Just last month, I didn’t run a single session without someone eating it.

Of course, other things have changed. The players have gotten more accustomed to old-school play. several party members lied through their teeth to save their skins. And they didn’t fight until they had the advantage (and a weretiger on their side). And they stacked the Mortal Wounds odds as well as they could. And they’ve got more henches.

So, higher hit points and more healers has helped, but I think those are only part of the story.

Everyone leveled. That felt about right - this was a three-session monstrousity of a pseudo-war with giants and ogres and a local bandit king.

In addition to the goods and coin (some of which they had to leave behind), the party found two complete sets of magical mail, stored with two magical short swords. No one wanted the mail (everyone can either wear plate and wants the AC, or can’t wear better than leather), and only Vulfelind and Lanthechilde wanted the short swords, so that worked out reasonably well.

Current party:

  • Party Reserve - 5,088 XP. Total XP shares 11.25 (Eldremer does not get an XP share); total treasure shares 6.65 (Eldremer, Shadow, Garal, and Salha do not get treasure shares).
  • Chlodomer d'Antioch - Lawful Fighter-4, 18, Command, Diplomacy, Fighting Style (Weapon and Shield). STR +2, CHA +3. Sword +3. Tall and young, with dark curls and soulful brown eyes ... and a ready smile. A poetic tongue and idealist's heart make him more dangerous out of combat than in. Wears a quilted white silk jack of plates, with gold threads and a jade-and-emerald Circled Eye over his heart; carries what is obviously an ancient dwarven kukri; and bears a simple copper ring with the Grim Fist sigil visible upon it. XP 19,348; 14,400 gold.
    • Grizzba the Goblin - Lawful Goblin Thief-4, 16, Caving, Mapping, Weapon Finesse. STR -1, DEX +2, INT +1, CHA -1. A very well-dressed goblin (black silk-covered leathers, fine boots, and a very jaunty beret) with a pointy sense of humor. XP 5,784; 2,910 gold. Morale +10 (Chlodomer CHA +3, Command +2, fanatic +2, levels +4, calamities -1)
    • Galagunde d'Orléans - Lawful Illusionist-3, 25, Familiar (Tarantula), Animal Husbandry x3. DEX -1, CON +1, INT +2, WIS -1, CHA +1. A sharp-nosed, bespectacled woman with a cautious, occasional smile. Outfitted in sturdy tunic and pants, hiking boots, pack, and walking stick. Does not seem to care much for appearances! XP 5,646; 1,760 gold. Morale +5 (Chlodomer CHA +3, Command +2, loyal +0, levels +1, calamities -1)
      • Eldremer the Bold - Lawful Tarantula Familiar, 3, Illusion Resistance, Healing x2, Mimicry. Move 120 ft. (40 climb). Bite 1d2 (mild poison, 1d6 damage, save for none).
  • Grimoald d'Antioch - Lawful Fighter-4, 23, Combat Reflexes, Fighting Style (Two-Handed), Naturalism. STR +3, WIS +1, CHA +1. Shield +3. As large and muscular as an ox, reasonably pretty ... a blond farmboy, all grown up. Neither Grimoald nor his henches are dressed fancy, although all have simple copper rings showing their affiliation with the Grim Fist. Bears an ancient dwarven quarter-moon shield, and a gash-like scar across his left cheekbone. XP 19,343; 17,900 gold.
    • Alaric du Châtel - Lawful Fighter-3, 19, Combat Reflexes, Healing, Fighting Style (Pole Weapon). STR +1, DEX +1, CON -1, WIS -2, CHA -1. A pudding-faced peasant with poor manners, but a strong back and a strong desire to help. He had a bit of brain trauma from an ogre's club, but it has been restored. XP 5,077; 3,370 gold. Morale +2 (Grimoald CHA +1, loyal +0, levels +3, calamities -2).
    • Rufismund le Ruge - Lawful Fighter-3, 30, Berserkergang, Fighting Style (Two-Handed), Weapon Focus (Swords). STR +1, CON +1, WIS -1, CHA -1. Used to have only one eye, and squints as if he is still missing it. A seasoned soldier with a mad glint in his eyes. XP 4,989; 1,750 gold. Morale +3 (Grimoald CHA +1, fanatical +2, levels +1, calamities -1).
  • Galswintha d'Antioch - Lawful Mage-5, 30, Elven Bloodline, Engineering x4. DEX +1, CON +2, INT +2, WIS -1, CHA +1. An apparent teenager with pointed ears, eyes the color of hoarfrost, ankle-length hair the color of a raven's wing, and a distant, wintry smile. She's smarter than you, and she knows it. How she is dressed depends upon her mood; she is currently renting space in Châtel for her wardrobe, which contains both finery and "more sensible adventuring silks." A copper ring upon her finger shows her membership in the Grim Fist. Has a damaged knee (max 6 stone, cannot force march). XP 20,153; 12,400 gold.
    • Gurund d'Orléans - Lawful Mage-3, 30, Alchemy x3, Knowledge (Natural Philosphy). STR -2, CON -1, INT +2, WIS +1, CHA +1. A salt-and-pepper gentleman in silk robes. "Your eternal servant, mademoiselle." Dressed in tailored silk robes of severe mien, and looks the part of an overly serious alchemist and apprentice sage. XP 5,786; 1,750 gold. Morale +0 (Galswintha CHA +1, loyal +0, levels +1, calamities -2).
    • Deuteria du Châtel - Neutral Mage-2, 24, Loremastery, Mapping, Navigation, Seafaring. STR +1, INT +2, WIS +1, CHA +1. A muscular, red-headed sailor looking for more adventure than her ship offered. Dressed in raucous silks that show far too much skin. Has some minor scarring which she has gotten a mermaid tattoo over. XP 3,286; 1,750 gold. Morale +0 (Galswintha CHA +1, loyal +1, levels +0, calamities -2).
  • Vulfelind de Saubruic - Neutral Thief-6, 16, Swashbuckling, Tracking x2, Weapon Finesse. DEX +3, INT -1, CHA +2. Short sword +1. Tall and slender, with enormous black eyes, dark olive skin, and black hair cropped as close as possible, with a calming, professional demeanor that far belies her years and a smile that is absolutely dazzling when it appears. Dressed in jet black leather armor made from the hide of a giant black widow (the hourglass symbol is still visible between the shoulder blades) and the softest imaginable suede gloves, boots, and jacket made from same. A copper ring declares her and her henches' membership in the Grim Fist. Has some long-term scarring which is stiff (-1 initiative). XP 20,353; 15,100 gold.
    • Thorismund du Châtel - Neutral Fighter-3, 22, Animal Husbandry, Command, Fighting Style (Two-Handed). STR +2, INT -2, WIS +1, CHA +2. A mercenary with craggy good looks and a kind heart, but no head for math. Dressed in well-made plate armor. Has minor scars (2) from his battles. XP 5,416; 2,870 gold. Morale +2 (Vulfelind CHA +2, loyal +0, levels +3, calamities -3).
    • Ingunde du Châtel - Neutral Fighter-3, 18, Animal Husbandry x2, Command, Weapon Finesse. STR -2, DEX +1, CON -1, INT +1, CHA +2. A stunningly good-looking mercenary and wife to Thorismund. Does the finances for the household. Dressed in plate and silks. Lost and restored an arm. XP 5,156; 2,870 gold. Morale +3 (Vulfelind CHA +2, loyal +0, levels +3, calamities -2).
    • Veneranda le Vulin - Neutral Cleric-3, 16, Elven Bloodline, Animal Training (Dogs), Beast Friendship. STR +0*, DEX +1, CON +1, INT +1, WIS +2*, CHA +1. * +1 with adulthood. Green, dryad's hair, emerald-colored eyes, and pointed ears. Petite and obviously elf-blooded, with a dog she is training. Dressed in flowing silk pantaloons, a jet black satin jacket threaded with silver, and a number of wrist and ankle bangles, a pair of earrings, and attractive but not excessively expensive rings. XP 3,257; 1,810 gold. Morale +5 (Vulfelind CHA +2, fanatical +2, levels +2, calamities -1).
      • Shadow - War Dog, HD 2+2, attack trained. Move 150, bite 1d6. A handsome, black beast with red, slavering jowls. Dressed in a fitted black satin jacket that matches his mistress, in which he looks absolutely adorable. Lost and restored an eye. XP 4,086. Morale +5 (Veneranda CHA +1, fanatic +2, levels +0, calamities +0, racial +2).
    • Baldaswind de Calais - Neutral Weretiger-5, 23, Beast Friendship, Running, Swashbuckling, Tracking. STR +1, DEX +3, CHA +2. Tiger form Move 180, attacks 2d6/1d6/1d6. A red-haired, green-eyed woman with faint tiger-like markings along her arms and thighs, and a ferocious smile. Likes to dress in loose silks. XP 56,000; 0 gold. Morale +2 (Vulfelind CHA +2, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0).
      • Garal - Tiger, HD 6. Move 150, bite 2d6/claw 1d6/claw 1d6. Surprise -2 in woods. The larger of the two tigers, Garal is a handsome and vain beast with a scarlet scarf tied around his neck. XP 28,000. Morale +5 (Baldaswind CHA +2, fanatic +2, levels +0, calamities +0, racial +1).
      • Salha - Tiger, HD 6. Move 150, bite 2d6/claw 1d6/claw 1d6. Surprise -2 in woods. A slender and graceful tiger with a scarlet scarf tied around her neck, and an air of casual arrogance. XP 28,000. Morale +5 (Baldaswind CHA +2, fanatic +2, levels +0, calamities +0, racial +1).
  • Lanthechilde d'Antioch - Neutral Thief-5, 20, Healing x3, Intimidation, Sniping. STR +1, DEX +2, CON +1, INT +1, WIS +1, CHA +2. A low-level version of Rebecca de Mornay's character in The Three Musketeers, before she has her heart broken. Soft-spoken and kind, but a little too clever with the daggerwork. Dressed in fine leather, or an aristocratic dress, according to the occasion, and a Grim Fist copper ring. Short sword +1. XP 17,853; 16,600 gold.
    • Harberic d'Orléans - Neutral Thief-3, 22, Alertness, Art (Sculpture) x2. CON +1, INT +1, WIS +1. A wild-eyed, wild-haired artiste who supplements his meager living as an artist with larceny. XP 2,918; 1,750 gold. Morale +1 (Lanthechilde CHA +2, grudging -1, levels +2, calamities -2).

Absolutely fantastic. These are some of my favorite actual play reports ever. I love how you've put the players into situations totally above their league and they've had to use cunning and treachery. For a party of 3rd and 4th level characters to wipe out hill giants and ogres is just amazing.

Great stuff.

Thank you! I think this last two sessions, the players really got it.

There were some half-hearted plans to go back and wipe out that hill giant in the Maze, too, but then common sense returned - there’s no handy ogre village to use to kill off the Maze hill giant.

Session 9

Months 3, 4, and 5
The party decided to build a small-ish caravan to take advantage of what is probably a safer-than-usual highway between Orléans and Atanung, a city about which they know very little, but which is part of the Greuthungi kingdom and therefore may have a high demand for silk, coffee, and iron goods.

They aim for silk, and Chlodomer persuades two merchants to sell them 28 loads of silk for 39,200 gold. Then they commission five wagons and ten heavy draft horses, and end up paying the first merchant for the use of his warehouse to store the silk he just sold them.

Wagons and horses acquired, they hire ten longbowmen and twenty slingers, an armorer, stablehands, and drivers. Galswintha ups the cost by insisting on decent quality rations for everyone.

Along the way, they get pretty lucky on random encounters, and the ogre village was the only real threat I’d mapped there. Of some interest, a dozen pegasi were spotted in the air, heading toward a distant mountain … and Galswintha took notes. We’ll see if she remembers her obsession in the future.

They have a rough time selling the silk in Atanung, even though demand is high, but they finally manage to sell the last load. Even after mercenary costs, up-front investments, tolls, stabling fees, and so on, they managed 42,000 gold in profit from the deal!

However, only those already close to leveling, levelled.

Knowing their home market better, they haunted the market for a while until they could acquire 50 loads of porcelain for 35,000 gold, and then set off for the return trip.

Month 6, Days 1 and 2
… and on the first day, six giant scorpions boil up out of a hole in the ground and attack, enraged by the ground vibrations of the caravan. The slingers fall back, demoralized; Grimoald dies of poison in the first round; and the front wagon comes to a stop when a horse dies.

Scorpions are tough, especially in a rout, but the party finally puts them down, and marches back to Atanung to restore life for Grimoald.

Grimoald regains life, but loses his sight in the bargain, and decides to retire, passing his dwarven quarter-moon shield (still party property per agreements) over to Chlodomer. Galswintha arranges an address with Grimoald to deliver his Grim Fist ring when it is completed.

Rufismund le Ruge, fanatically loyal to the man who restored his sight, and a bit less interested in mad adventures, stays on with Grimoald as a retainer and life assistant (this has nothing, nothing at all, to do with the fact that Grimoald is still loaded with wealth). Alaric du Châtel, shaking his head, leaves and takes the safer route back home, via the north and Paris.

The temple that Grimoald is healed at has a young cleric, Shadagrunde d’Atanung, who wishes to see the world and approaches the party to see if they will let him join. They do!

And so the party goes on.

Month 6, Weeks 1 and 2
The way back is harrowing. The party fights off two bat swarms and brigands, a pack of hellhounds (the Grim Fist unanimously decide to not explore the fissure from which the hellhounds erupted), and a phase tiger.

A giant hawk is also spotted veering off, and a grizzly bear is “talked” to by Veneranda before wandering off.

And then the worst: three basilisks, a mere day away from civilization.

The petrified giant owl is a good hint, and the party takes it - everyone (mercenaries, drivers, everyone) switches to one-handed weapons or tasks, and covers their eyes with the other hand (keeping a small glimpse downward to watch where they are going), slowing the caravan to a crawl; those who have mirrors, use them.

The basilisks (all three) get surprise, but fail to catch anyone’s eyes. One bites Vulfelind, who makes the coin-flip save, and the other two try to bite Chlodomer, but fail to get purchase on his armor.

Shadagrunde casts bane. And then things get messy and violent.

Vulfelind and Chlodomer both withdraw, clearing the field for archers and slingers to blindly fling their missiles all over the place; and then Lanthechilde attempts sheer insanity - she jumps a basilisk, wrestles it, and then asks if she can use a second wrestle attempt to force an eye open in front of her mirror.

Natural 20, and the basilisk’s save is a 2. And its petrification save is a 5. Bam.

And then one of the other basilisks bites Lanthechilde, and she turns to stone, too.

Eventually, the party triumphs.

They find the nest just off the road, collect the one human statue in the nest along with their own statues (and end up dumping some porcelain), and continue on to Orléans.

Month 6, Day 15
They sell the porcelain almost immediately, for 67,200 gold - and spend 13,500 gold on stone to flesh, and a bit more on bonuses to mercenaries.

Restoring the human statue they found has a benefit, however. She turns out to be the daughter of the local thieves’ guild leader, and as a reward, the party is given four amethyst cylinder seals, each depicting a different ancient and powerful elemental granting wisdom to the famous sage Elwinoald the Wise, and a chunk of untraceable gold (metagame: just enough to bring their wealth baseline back into sync with their XP numbers).

They decide to keep the scrolls for now, rather than reap the XP rewards of selling them in a market where they are potentially “hot.”

There was another round of hench hiring …

End Session
This was a long session - almost seven hours - but everyone wanted to see the venture through to the end. Next time, I’ll remember to break it off at the mid-point, before more wares are bought :-).

As a side note, it has gotten really hard to permanently kill anyone with a Class II market nearby.

XP: I have been divvying up XP incorrectly. After discussion with the players, and because I wanted something quick, I decided to just increase everyone to a flat starting point (with the usual XP +%), and we’ll track it correctly from here. I adjusted the henches proportionally.

Henches: I don’t have any players with less than a 13 CHA (+1). The party, including henches, is now 34 strong (26 humanoids, 3 dogs, 2 familiars, 2 tigers, and a dire wolf in a pear tree). My initiative list looks like a who’s who of Old Frankish, and I’ve started inventing names out of spite.

Mercantile Ventures: In all, I think this worked out reasonably well. The PCs really did their homework on picking what goods to take to Atanung, and combined with some lucky rolls, did quite well. The fact that the whole trip took 5.5 months and netted only a little XP (relatively speaking) was also a good thing, in my mind.

The PCs have definitely grown. Chlodomer is holding up the fighter end of things; the shield and sword have made him darn near invincible (AC 11, attack 2+, 1d6+8 damage!). Vulfelind has proven adept at managing henches in battle - we’ve been calling her the top pokemon trainer - even where Chlodomer might have slightly better hench quality. Lanthechilde is rocking the thief side of things. (Shadagrunde has only been around for one session, but “the cleric brigade” promises fun times).

Galswintha has been falling behind; I’ve suggested taking a few weeks off to study new spells - she doesn’t actually have any third-level spells in her repertoire right now. She’s been more interested in managing party finances, but a fireball or similar would have helped a lot in some of their sticky situations.

Current party:

  • Chlodomer d'Antioch - Lawful Fighter-6, 18, Command, Diplomacy, Fighting Style (Weapon and Shield), Leadership, Military Strategy. STR +2, CHA +3. Sword +3, Shield +3. XP 35,200; 28,400 gold.
    • Grizzba - Lawful Goblin Thief-5, 16, Caving, Mapping, Riding (Wolf), Weapon Finesse. STR -1, DEX +2, INT +1, CHA -1. XP 17,600; 4,460 gold. Morale +11.
      • Grace d'Antioch - Lawful Human, 17, Profession (Scribe) x3. STR +1, INT +1, CHA +1. A convention-defying young woman fresh out of university, with a strong arm, a ready mind, and a smile like sunshine. XP 0; 0 gold. Morale -2.
    • Galagunde d'Orléans - Lawful Illusionist-4, 25, Familiar (Tarantula), Animal Husbandry x3. DEX -1, CON +1, INT +2, WIS -1, CHA +1. XP 17,600; 3,510 gold. Morale +8.
      • Eldremer the Bold - Lawful Tarantula Familiar, 3, Illusion Resistance, Healing x2, Mimicry. Move 120 ft. (40 climb). Bite 1d2 (mild poison, 1d6 damage, save for none).
      • Agalinda d'Orléans - Lawful Human, 19, Navigation, Tracking. STR -1, DEX +1, CON +1, INT +2, WIS -1. A studious young lady who wants to be an illusionist, and is apprenticing herself to Galagunde. XP 0; 0 gold. Morale +1.
    • Amarante le Certaine - Lawful Mage-3, 32, Familiar (Pygmy Marmoset), Knowledge (Astronomy) x3 (Sage), Theology. CON +2, INT +3, CHA +2. A quiet, short, and stout woman dressed in the somber blacks of the Minor Clergy of Stars. XP 5,000; 0 gold. Morale +5.
      • Leoncito - Lawful Marmoset Familiar, 8, Healing x3, Magical Engineering, Navigation. Move 150 ft. (90 ft. climb). Can pick locks as a thief.
    • Haramer d'Orléans - Lawful Fighter-3, 22, Command, Fighting Style (Pole Weapons), Leadership. STR +1, CHA +2. A grizzled but charismatic sergeant. XP 4,000; 0 gold. Morale +5 (CHA +3, Command +2, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0)
  • Galswintha d'Antioch - Lawful Mage-5, 30, Elven Bloodline, Engineering x4. DEX +1, CON +2, INT +2, WIS -1, CHA +1. XP 35,200; 18,700 gold.
    • Gurund d'Orléans - Lawful Mage-4, 30, Alchemy x3, Knowledge (Natural Philosphy). STR -2, CON -1, INT +2, WIS +1, CHA +1. XP 17,600; 3,500 gold. Morale +1.
      • Geofferic d'Orléans - Lawful Heavy Infantry, 22, Profession (Bodyguard). STR +1, CON +2, WIS +1. A mutton-chopped side of beef dressed in plate and built for taking hits. XP 0; 0 gold. Morale +3 (CHA +1, fanatical +2, levels +0, calamities +0)
    • Deuteria du Châtel - Neutral Mage-4, 24, Loremastery, Mapping, Navigation, Seafaring. STR +1, INT +2, WIS +1, CHA +1. XP 13,200; 3,500 gold. Morale +1.
    • Merovia d'Orléans - Lawful Mage-4, 51, Elven Bloodline, Alchemy x3. STR -1, DEX -2, CON +1, INT +1, CHA +1. An adult of recent vintage with pointed ears, short-cropped raven hair, and dark blue eyes. XP 10,000; 0 gold. Morale +0.
  • Vulfelind de Saubruic - Neutral Thief-6, 16, Swashbuckling, Tracking x2, Weapon Finesse. DEX +3, INT -1, CHA +2. Short sword +1. Has some long-term scarring which is stiff (-1 initiative). XP 35,200; 25,400 gold.
    • Thorismund du Châtel - Neutral Fighter-5, 22, Animal Husbandry, Command, Fighting Style (Two-Handed). STR +2, INT -2, WIS +1, CHA +2. XP 17,600; 4,420 gold. Morale +7.
    • Ingunde du Châtel - Neutral Fighter-5, 18, Animal Husbandry x2, Command, Weapon Finesse. STR -2, DEX +1, CON -1, INT +1, CHA +2. XP 16,000; 4,420 gold. Morale +7.
      • Louis d'Orléans - Lawful Human, 17, Profession (Accountant) x3. CON +2, INT +1. A neat, tidy man who does neat, tidy work. Now the house accountant for Ingunde and Thorismund. XP 0; 0 gold. Morale +2.
    • Veneranda le Vulin - Neutral Cleric-5, 16, Elven Bloodline, Animal Husbandry, Animal Training (Dogs), Beast Friendship, Divine Blessing. STR +0*, DEX +1, CON +1, INT +1, WIS +2*, CHA +1. * +1 with adulthood. XP 13,200; 3,560 gold. Morale +7.
      • Shadow - War Dog, HD 3+3. XP 6,000. Morale +6.
      • Silver - War Dog, HD 2+2. XP 3,000. Morale +6.
      • Sable - War Dog, HD 2+2. XP 3,000. Morale +6.
    • Baldaswind de Calais - Neutral Weretiger-5, 23, Beast Friendship, Running, Swashbuckling, Tracking. STR +1, DEX +3, CHA +2. Tiger form Move 180, attacks 2d6/1d6/1d6. XP 66,000; 1,550 gold. Morale +2.
      • Garal - Tiger, HD 6. XP 33,000. Morale +5.
      • Salha - Tiger, HD 6. XP 33,000. Morale +5.
    • Almalinda d'Orléans - Neutral Human, 15, Animal Husbandry x3, Animal Training (Horses). STR -2, INT +1*, CHA +2. * +1 with adulthood. A very excitable brunette who loves nothing quite so much as horses. XP 0; 0 gold. Morale +4.
  • Lanthechilde d'Antioch - Neutral Thief-6, 20, Healing x3, Intimidation, Sniping. STR +1, DEX +2, CON +1, INT +1, WIS +1, CHA +2. Short sword +1. XP 35,200; 26,900 gold.
    • Harberic d'Orléans - Neutral Thief-5, 22, Alertness, Art (Sculpture) x3, Swashbuckling. CON +1, INT +1, WIS +1. XP 12,000; 3,300 gold. Morale +4.
    • Medonic d'Orléans - Neutral Thief-2, 20, Trapping, Trap Finding. STR -2, DEX +1, WIS -1, CHA +1. A nervous little man with very proper attire. Finds Harberic unnerving. XP 1,250; 0 gold. Morale +2.
  • Shadagrunde d'Atanung - Lawful Cleric-5, 20, Command, Engineering x2, Leadership, Military Strategy. DEX +2, INT +1, WIS +3, CHA +1. An extremely cheerful convert of the Lady, with a driving desire to see the world. XP 17,200; 9,200 gold.
    • Merideth le Chocolat - Lawful Cleric-1, 22, Healing x2. WIS +3, CHA +3. A small, dark-skinned woman with ankle-length platinum hair and a constant, ready grin. XP 0; 0 gold. Morale +1 (CHA +1, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0)
    • Grimaric d'Orléans - Lawful Cleric-2, 35, Labor (Farmer), Healing. STR -1, CON +1, WIS +1, CHA +1. A grim-faced, pot-bellied older man with farm-worked sinew. XP 1,500; 0 gold. Morale +1 (CHA +1, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0)
    • Aggulita the Goblin - Lawful Cleric-2, 14, Animal Training (Wolf), Animal Training (Dire Wolf), Beast Friendship, Riding (Wolf). INT +2, WIS +1. Dire Wolf mount (AC 3, HD 4+1, Move 150, bite 2d4). Short, even for a goblin, an obvious runt who found the Lady early in life and fled his origins. XP 1,500; 0 gold. Morale +1 (CHA +1, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0)

Great stuff! Sounds like an epic 7 hour session.

With a Class II town, most character death will not be permanent, but as you saw with Grimoald, the side effects of Restore Life and Limb can end an adventurer's career just the same. As side effects accumulate, the roll just gets harder and harder. In most ACKS campaigns, the players' attitudes tend to follow an arc like this:

  1. Restore Life and Limb will bring me back to life! I'm invincible.
  2. The minor side effects of Restore Life and Limb are annoying.
  3. The major side effects of Restore Life and Limb are becoming very troubling. Perhaps I should retire.
  4. I am a grotesque monster. I wish I WAS dead. 

Speaking of dead, is Shadagrund controlled by the same player as the now-retired Grimoald?

Do you have a copy of Domains at War? It sounds like, at the rate your party is advancing, they'll soon be ready for it!



Radegund → Lanthechilde.
Grimoald → Shadagrunde.
Chlodomer, Vulfelind, and Galswintha have managed to survive the whole game so far.

I will be acquiring DaW when it comes out in final form, but I don’t have a copy now. Same for Companion. Nothing against them, but I’m not comfortable with beta rules in my campaign.

Loving this. Here’s hoping there’s more Maze Du Châtel posts coming. I’d love to see your adventure notes and maps when this all comes to a completion.

Here are the continuing chronicles of the Grim Fist party.

Ha! Of such stuff legends are made…

This thread and the next one show pretty clearly that this is a game where you and the players are enthusiastically engaged. It seems to me you’ve brought some very valuable content to the table in the process of working up that mutual enthusiasm. The references to names, languages, political backgrounds, tectical setups and so on are all signs IMO of an excellent match between prep and play.

I have a question about that prep: at this point in the game, how much had you prepped about ‘Pegasus Mountain’?

On possibility I can see is that maybe the pegasi were a rolled encounter and you knew there was a mountain nearby so you described the pegasi as flying in that direction.

Alternatively (or additionally?) you had created the pegasus mountain lair when building the regional map before this point? So when rolling the pegasi encounter it’s neatly apparent they might come from the mountain.

At what point did you decide there were additional ruins on that mountain?

KarlM wrote: The references to names, languages, political backgrounds, tectical setups and so on are all signs IMO of an excellent match between prep and play.
Thank you.
KarlM wrote: I have a question about that prep: at this point in the game, how much had you prepped about 'Pegasus Mountain'?

On possibility I can see is that maybe the pegasi were a rolled encounter and you knew there was a mountain nearby so you described the pegasi as flying in that direction.

Pretty much exactly that.

I have a high-level overview of the world showing major cities and kingdoms, general terrain type, and so on. I map out six-mile hexes as I need them, mostly.

I rolled pegasus, neither side surprised, spot distance was far away, and the reaction roll was indifferent. So the pegasi fled rather than risk anything.

My notes for the ancient, abandoned dwarven highway listed an ancient, failing magical effect that prevented monsters (these days, it only prevents lairs), so it made sense that pegasi might forage there; and there was a mountain two hexes south on my overview map, so …

That was pretty much all I had at that point in the game.

KarlM wrote: At what point did you decide there were additional ruins on that mountain?
"Mountain" pretty much means "abandoned dwarven ruins" in this setting; dwarves owned almost all mountains, and when they disappeared, the structures were left behind. So I knew there would be at least a fortress there.

I actually mapped out the fortress between sessions 10 and 11 (and I may have thrown an extra encounter out in session 10 to buy time … heh).

When I actually sat down to map it, I made a cliff for the pegasi; the made the mountain very vertical, so I had an idea of the area being a bit more tectonically unstable, so I noted that the area was a magma bulge. I made some vague notes about fire elementals, lignemaids, salamanders, etc.

Then I started rolling up the fortress monsters and treasures. One treasure was a map; rolling that, I got an efreet bottle.

Then I had a brainstorm for a microdungeon with a fire-and-earth theme, took my earlier notes, threw in golems and a big rock trap, and had the map direct a path to the microdungeon.

Then I mapped out rest of the mountain. I gave it a vertical pillar of magma in the center. I put the dwarven fortress right next to the pillar, along with ceramic pipes and heat taps. Then I put the secondary dungeon on top of the pillar - a lake of magma at the top tip, beneath a granite dome.

Of course, that put the fortress below the secondary dungeon, which ended up having an emergent property: the Grim Fist dug a hole and flooded the fortress!

A brilliant explanation of Judging technique!

Cameron wrote: Some discussion later, they decided to ditch the Maze (Vulfelind and Galswintha, unaccustomed to my play style, actually asked if that was "okay," since I'd obviously put a lot of work into the Maze. Hah!) and head back to Orléans.
In another post, you explained how Pegasus Mountain came to be (pre-planned stuff, ad-libbed stuff, and stuff mapped out when the requirement came up), and as I was re-reading the story hour archive, I came across this bit.

Was the Maze similarly designed? I mean, did you map out the whole thing, or were you adding levels as you went?

Ha! I am so lazy!

I laid out the first ten rooms of the Maze level 1, plus one connection to level 2, plus three rooms in level 2. Then I rolled the type of encounter (and species of encounter when appropriate) for another 30 rooms at each level (180 rooms total), but I didn’t map them.

When the players cleared a few rooms, I took a break to extend the map in that direction by the same number of rooms, using my list of pre-rolled types.

I treated “Unique” as a code word for:

1-2. links to another level
3-5. puzzle
6. unique monster

The only real worry was if the players moved too rapidly in the “wrong” direction, which was why I pre-rolled the types of encounters. As soon as they go off the map, I would ad lib the map (taking notes, and not “blind” ad-libbing, it always has to make sense and fit into what’s already there) and use the pre-rolled list to describe what they see (or what they run into).

If they ran into an un-mapped puzzle, trap, unique monster, or the like: I have TONS of traps, puzzles, monster ideas, and so on from games I ran years ago. All in a binder. Grab a page! Bam! Done!

So when Vulfelind and Galswintha were worrying about how much work I’d put into the Maze … there were literally 12 rooms they had failed to explore that were actually mapped.

To reiterate: I am so lazy!