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Orphizahn Campaign Journal
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Moth
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Joined: 10 Jun 2008
Posts: 276
Location: Grito

PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 10:58 pm    Post subject: Orphizahn Campaign Journal Reply with quote

Session 1 of the Orphizahn Campaign just ended, and I couldn’t be happier with how it went!

The PCs:

Oliver Starbuck- Faith magic user and priest of the Immanian church. Revelation, Tellurgy, and Benefaction domains.
Padraic Ironsides- A fighter hired by Oliver to guard the party.
Leah De Lorme- A ritual magic user.
Cecil Delancey- A scholar and hedge magic user traveling with Leah. The two of them met up with Oliver and company on the road and decided to travel together. Cecil is taking a semester off from his studies to do some traveling.
Beatrix Potter- A 10 year old hermetic magic prodigy. I couldn’t be happier with the name the player chose.

All of the Pcs are humans, created with Astrology plus standard character generation. Cecil, Beatrix, and Oliver's players are all new to RPGs.

The PCs were traveling together in late autumn and came upon the community of Lake Orna at twilight. They stopped at the local inn, auspiciously named the Wayfarer’s Lodge, and had a look around. The place clearly catered to the hunting crowd, and was full of noblemen. Padraic ordered some pumpkin ale, Oliver and Cecil sat by the fire and read, and Leah found an awkward young man to hit on/intimidate. Beatrix boldly approached some Noblemen and used Silent Casting to cast friends on them. They decided she was totally adorable, and one of them gave her a gold piece. The master of the house told Padraic that the place was full up with noblemen here for hunting, and that the best place to inquire about alternate housing was at the local Vicar’s house, near the chapel.

The PCs headed over the chapel, where they found Vicar Timothy just locking the place for the night. He was sympathetic to their plight, and offered to let them sleep in the chapel. Just as everyone was bedding down, Beatrix insisted that Padraic stay up and guard everyone, since he was being paid to do so. He reluctantly agreed to stay up for a few hours. Cecil took the water to wine spell to its logical end and transmuted some scrounged up holy water into a nightcap.

Once everyone was sound asleep, Padraic heard the lock click, and four armed thugs burst into the chapel! Initiative was rolled, and Padraic had a rough time of it trading blows, and began shouting to wake everyone up. I asked for perception checks, and Leah and Cecil were up and fighting by about round 3. Padraic took a lot of hits, surviving only by the grace of his chain mail and shield, and Leah set her ermine familiar to biting the remaining sleepers to rouse them. Eventually everyone was awakened and the battle was joined. Two of the thugs were felled, by a combination of Padraic’s sword and Cecil’s staff, and Leah did what she could to tangle and weaken the assailants (Cue cries of “She’s a witch!.”) After Beatrix wounded one of the two remaining thugs with a force bolt, they fled into the night. Leah looted the corpses and found a few copper pieces, and the key to the church.

The party exited the bloodied sanctuary and Padraic went off to rouse the townsfolk. The burgomaster, the inkeeper, and some farmers with pitchforks showed up and had a look around. The Vicar was brought out, and said he’d lost his key. Leah had her ermine hide the key back on one of the corpses, and the party was pretty nervous about having clearly killed some dudes in a church, but the burgomaster seemed to believe their story. He offered a reward of fifty silver pieces if the party could find those responsible and bring them to justice. The party spent the rest of the night at the burgomaster’s home.

In the morning, there was a great commotion at the inn. Apparently, some nobleman’s daughter had been kidnapped the previous night. The man was horribly distraught, and offered a hundred silver to anyone who could bring his daughter back. The party volunteered, and went back to the chapel to begin investigating. The blood trail left by the wounded attacker had waned considerably, but Oliver utilized the guide spell, allowing him to track any one person or object he’d seen. He chose the wounded thug, and everyone followed Oliver to the edge of the lake. Perception checks were made, and Oliver found a boat and some oars amongst the reeds. The party rowed out to an island in the center of the lake, still following the guide spell, and found a cave entrance in a rocky outcropping.

We left off there for the night…

As I said, I’m extremely happy with the party and how this all went down. I’ll drop some “behind the screen” observations and details in the staff forum, away from prying player’s eyes.
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Gregory Vrill
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome, 100% classic, sounds like great fun. The PCs and their names are excellent, ya for Beatrix Potter!
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JimmySwill
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 12:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, four casters. -That's a handful. It's no wonder they hired a strongman.

Awesome stuff. I love Water to Wine.
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Moth
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 12:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, there was only one computer at the table, so flipping around to remind everyone what their spells did was a headache. I ordered a copy of the book as soon as the session ended Smile
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Gregory Vrill
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In terms of in-game 'realism', spells like water to wine are among the worst though.

Why can't you cast it on someone? On someone's heart, or eyeball? Trying to come up with a plausible magical system that disallows instant kills with what should be innocuous cantrips ain't easy.

Suspension of disbelief is always the #1 rule in any of these games, fundamental to the GM-player contract. You've got new gamers in the group, but it sounds like they were pretty smoothly integrated into what's allowable and what isn't... what's 'gaming the system', and what's acceptable bullshit.
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JimmySwill
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I think Water to Wine is more or less safe since you need to touch the liquid, but point well taken.

A thousand times in game design these kind of things come up. IMO, I think there is a balance that needs to be made. If you try to design them out, you risk ending up with a very stale system. However, if you don't worry about these 'breaks' at all, you end up with a system that unravels too easily.

My feeling is to strike a reasonable balance, and let the GM go from there. As GM, if a player tried to change the blood of an enemy to wine, I'd let them cast and then tell them there was no noticeable effect. They'd get it soon enough. I think this is the GM-player contract Greg mentions. (Just as an aside, I think it's best if the GM resolves these issues relying on his authority as referee rather than trying to prove his point using the book. The book is just a tool. The GM is the GM.)

Anyway, it sounds like your players took to casting very well, Moth. I'm looking forward to the next session and any inside info.
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greyfaced
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Location: Pleroma, Oregon

PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 5:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Greg makes a good point, and I agree with it. It's why I have never liked and don't allow summoning of monsters until later levels of play. I think it's silly to open a gate pull a creature through it and dominate it. It strikes me as very high level spellcasting and I, well you get the idea. I'm definately one who thinks magick needs to be thought about. I also agree with Jimmy and probably many others too, that ultimately it's the GM, or Dice Commander, to make the call when things that are just unexpected exploitations come up.

I'm still not sure how I feel that Dice Commander got left out of this game, but at least others noticed and included it as the proper salutation. Or what not....I forgot about "and what not...."
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JimmySwill
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's true that 'Dice Commander' has a real ring of authority to it.

I mean, 'Game Master' sounds pretty powerful, but it could be read as 'referee', or someone who makes sure everyone just plays by the rules. 'Dice Commander' kind of says, "Rules?! I AM THE RULES! I COMMAND THE FATES!!"

It probably was a missed opportunity.
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Moth
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Location: Grito

PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Session 2!

This was mostly a dungeon crawl, with some tough but apparently easily made moral decisions at the end. Things didn’t go quite as I planned, but that’s how it is. Nobody got killed, or even sorely injured, so I definitely need to ramp up the challenge factor for next week.

After a quick recap of the previous sessions events, the players headed into the slaver’s lair. They found a pool in the first chamber of the cave complex, and after Beatrix tossed a stone into it, she saw a white, shimmering face rise up to the surface, and found herself in the presence of Orana, the lady of the lake (a Limnade, for the stat-hungry.) She told them how the slavers had come into her cave, polluted her sacred pool and generally made a mess of things. Beatrix cast friends for some reason, but the Limnade passed her mental resistance check. She offered the PCs healing if they needed it, and they thanked her and pressed on.

The next room had a couple of starving attack dogs in it (one was asleep, the other would bark during its action, waking the other dog and summoning some guards), but the PCs won initiative and Padraic threw some trail rations to the dog, placating it, and Beatrix cast friends again, gaining a temporary animal companion in the form of a mangy, starved, half-crazy attack dog named “Scraps.”

The Pcs took the southern route from this room and found the chamber where other captured travelers were chained to the wall, under the watchful gaze of their pug-ugly brute of a guard, Griselda. Leah tried to talk Griselda into something, and got punched in the face for 3 damage. A fight ensued, Leah took some more damage, but the party subdued and bound Griselda. Beatrix stayed out of the fight, instead trying to free the prisoners, ended breaking her lock picks (botched an untrained pick locks roll) and eventually used force bolt to break the chains of Gustaf, a merchant from the south. The party interrogated Griselda, learned where the slaver’s sleeping quarters were and who the boss of the operation was. Apparently it was a fellow named Hugo, who had the keys to all the chains. The party gave Gustaf a knife and left him to guard the prisoners while they went in search of Hugo.

Leah tried to sneak into the slaver’s quarters, but bungled it and ended up running out, drawing two thugs with her. The party quickly bested these guys in combat, then knocked out the two others who were still asleep and had failed their perception checks to wake up and see what was going on.

The party made its way towards Hugo’s room, but Leah passed her perception check and overheard him talking to someone, haggling over the price of a young woman with blonde hair and violet eyes. The party talked amongst itself, and decided to wait out the conversation to see if anyone came out of the room, despite how cramped the corridor was. Eventually Hugo and his client reached a compromise, and Hugo sent two men to fetch the girl. These two unlucky chaps met the Pcs in a cramped, single file hallway with uneven footing, resulting in a ridiculous fight where nobody managed to do much, but Padraic and the dog eventually killed the guys.

This last bit kind of ruined the finale I had planned, so I wasn’t really sure how to have Hugo react to five armed individuals bursting into his office and telling him to surrender. I decided he wasn’t into cutting and running off into uncharted caves or fighting against suicidal odds, so when Padraic offered him his life if he came quietly, he complied. His client, a frail little man with a rapier who seemed very eager to have possession of blonde girls with violet eyes, turned invisible and fled, escaping into the labyrinth. The players interrogated Hugo a bit, learned that the local priest, Vicar Timothy, was in on the whole slave-taking thing, and decided to have a word with him back in town. They rounded up the thugs they’d incapacitated, freed the prisoners, and headed back to town.

Leah, with Beatrix in tow, confronted the Vicar, and he pleaded that he’d only done it to protect his son and his position as the priest of this village. Oddly enough, the PCs seemed okay with this, and didn’t tell the burgomaster about it, though they did leak that he had a son, somewhat soiling his reputation. Hugo tried to talk Padraic into letting him go, threatening to reveal the full extent of Vicar Timothy’s involvement, but Padraic shrugged it off, saying he didn’t really care what became of the priest at this point. The PCs asked Hugo about the nervous fellow he was dealing with, “Wendell,” but didn’t inquire into it back in town. They picked up their reward money from the burgomaster and Lord Whigby, for rescuing his daughter Sarah, and prepared to head north with Gustaf to Finzel, in order to take Hugo to face justice, and seek adventure elsewhere.

Oh, and the "can I use Water to Wine on the guy's blood?" thing came up at some point, to much arguing.
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JimmySwill
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome, Moth. Sounds like your PCs are a pretty clever bunch. Don't let it go to their heads!

I like how you played Hugo's surrender. Poor guy.

Quote:
Oh, and the "can I use Water to Wine on the guy's blood?" thing came up at some point, to much arguing.


Hilarious. Tell them no. Unfortunately, a first Circle Hedge mage doesn't have any instant kill spells. It should read "non-living, non-magical". But a simple 'nope' should do. That spell is nothing but trouble!
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greyfaced
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 2:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, on the water to wine front you could try using reason.

Here's a way to do it with a, well wanker.

The spell turns water into another substance that is still mostly water, but is also slightly alcoholic. So the spell cast on a person would turn their blood into a substance which is also mostly blood but will contain some alcohol. So the spell cast on a person would make them drunk, not kill them. Not bad really.

Of course the spell would have to be altered for it to be cast in this way as water to wine is specific in that it turns water to wine. I'm not sure how you would address it being cast on mud, for example.

Just a thought.

In the future I would recommend you find a way to abuse your players for having such a kind nature.
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Gregory Vrill
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 6:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Because players do [sarcasm]so well[/sarcasm] when the GM says "nope, because uh I said so". Swill, seriously, you've been there before man.

Water to wine. I dunno. I think the more interesting answer is, well what if hedge mages DID have an instant kill 1st circle spell? In game, it's not available to starting chars, insanely hard to make, and the lore is that some idiot-savant/autistic/lucky alchemist happened to make it, for the innocent purpose of getting a drink, and realizing oh shit I made 1st circle death spell.

...

Or ya, you could just go with grayfaced, and say that the target gets a phys res check or takes 1d6 and a -1 to agil or something.

...

Moth, this is fantastic. Now I'm tempted to run again, and steal, in complete detail, your adventures. Just to see how a totally different group of players would handle the same situations.
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Moth
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry guys, no update tonight. Two of the players skipped town. Next Monday we'll resume our usual fighting crime with scroll and sword antics.

In better news, my copy of the book finally arrived! It looks great and I dig the new illustrations, especially the dragon battle. I'm still planning for the next session, and the city of Finzel is going to be packed with stuff for the PCs to do. They may find getting there in one piece a trifle difficult though Twisted Evil (<-- evil cat?)

I like the idea of running the adventure again with different players. Let me know how that goes if you do it, Greg (and PM me if you want my notes for it, thought it shouldn't be too hard to reconstruct from these summaries.) Or you could always start up some play by post again. That'd be effin' sweet.
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JimmySwill
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to hear it, Moth. I really dig the updates. Look forward to next week.

In related news, Morgannon and I are closer to scrapping a group together. It looks like I am running, and I'm aiming for 5 folk for a bi-weekly game. Maybe 6 people accounting for 1-2 absences.

I'll definitely make a campaign journal available. In fact, maybe we should just start a separate campaign journal thread. They are so much fun to read.
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Moth
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 12:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This session didn’t really go well for the PCs at the end. Leah’s player never showed up, so she got played half-heartedly by me, because the party needed five people for some of this stuff.

They set out from Lake Orna with a merchant named Gustaff (sound familiar?) and the leader of the slavers, Hugo, tied up in the back of the wain. They headed to the city of Finzel across the Fedora Grasslands and were attacked by a couple of ogre shepherds during a heavy rainstorm. Fortunately, the ogres were unsuccessful in toppling the wain (which would have freed Hugo, greatly complicating things). After a brief battle, the party killed the ogres and gladly looted them. One had a wooden holy symbol, but the other had a bag containing a ring and a book of children’s stories. Cecil read to his friends while they cleared ogre corpses off the road. The book contained a story about a young boy who has a bunch of vicious ogres and hags as his aunts and uncles, and they make him do all their work and clean up after them and hunt for them. Eventually he steals a key from one of the ogres and checks out the cellar, where they locked his mother up when he was born. He frees her and massacres his wicked relatives. It was kind of a messed up fairy tale.

The party finally arrived in Finzel and had a look around. Beatrix enrolled at the local chantry and learned a new spell, while Cecil checked out the local cabalistic order of alchemists (known as the Azothic Brotherhood) and couldn’t really afford to be tutored in hedge magic. Padraic dropped Hugo off at the jail and got some menacing threats in return. Later, the party checked into an inn and passed a few coins to the bartender, asking about work in the area. He told them to check out the cathedral or the garrison. The party chose the cathedral, and found two offers there. A fellow named Lord Reginal Nantes had been promised a Bishopric if he could clear up some trouble a northern community was having with a local witch coven, and needed brave adventurers to help him. The church was also troubled by reports of an alleged miracle to the west, in the Bloor Marshlands. The party decided to check out the “miracle.”

They bought some horses and traveled west, eventually ending up in the creepy, rotten little town of Bloor. They visited the mayor, Theodorus Stebbins, an eccentric fellow who constantly badmouthed the town and its inhabitants. He claimed his once-noble family had dominion over this place as a punishment for a crime committed by some distant paterfamilias. The party also talked to a hick named Jacob who had apparently been the one to witness the alleged miracle: he had seen a figure dressed in shining robes walking on the marsh waters near the ruins of a sunken town. Many in the local community believed it to be St. Olias, the patron saint of their town, living once again.

The party borrowed Jacob’s fishing boat and headed into the marsh. At one point they had to portage across a carpet of floating grass, and a large snake dropped out of a tree branch onto Cecil. He managed not to get wrapped by it fortunately. Next round, however, Oliver wasn’t so lucky, and was nearly strangled before Padraic and Cecil managed to kill the beast. This wasn’t the end of the party’s tribulations, however. A nasty little monkey-turtle creature burst up through the float grass and slashed at Cecil. Beatrix used magic to befriend the creature, who told her his name was Griswald, and that after he killed her friends they could get to know each other. Unfortunately, the party killed “Griswald” the kappa later that round. He fell gurgling into the swamp and was never seen again.

The party continued on and the ruined town came into view, a few roofs and church spire sticking out of the muck. They explored what bits of the ruins they could, which was mostly just roofs, an empty attic, and a small shack on a hill. In the shack they found a glass ball which displayed a girl very close to the description of the one that Wendell fellow was looking for- blonde hair and violet eyes. Hmm. Then, as twilight fell, the mysterious entity did indeed appear, and began to look around amongst the buildings. Beatrix called out to it, and it fired a force bolt at the party and fled back into the marsh. Oliver used a guide spell and the party gave chase.

They tracked the shining figure into a small stone building in a cypress grove. Inside, the found a sort of laboratory, which contained some odd potion making stuff, a journal, some weird little animals in cages, and a dead body with some chunks cut out of it. They checked out the journal, which was mostly gibberish, but seemed to hint that someone was looking for something out here and though they needed the body to find it. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t have much time to contemplate this, because the strange entity was still there! It buffeted them with force bolts, turned Oliver deaf, and sent Padraic screaming into the marsh in terror. The fight with the invisible opponent was difficult, but eventually a fog spell provided some degree of amelioration, since invisible beings still displace water vapor. The party and their foe were both running low on spells and hit points, and the mysterious figure didn’t want to risk dying, so it dropped a darkness spell, grabbed its journal and potions, and hightailed it out in the confusion. The party eventually gathered its wits, and we ended the session for the night. No casualties yet, but Oliver got KO’d by a force bolt.

Couple of rules questions came up this game: The book doesn’t provide a method for Feats of Strength by monsters, i.e. the ogre knocking over the wain. My solution is to use the monsters physical resistance check as a feat modifier.

The second problem came up when the party wanted to buy horses, and the book didn’t list prices. I went with 15 silver for a horse that will get you where you need to go but isn’t well bred or trained.

Overall, I’m enjoying planning for and running the system, and hope I get to run some of the other adventures I planned for this session. The swamp incident has some pretty interesting implications “behind the screen.” I’ll talk about those later.
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