Session 40: Longwinter: End of the Underbaroness

We played our 40th session yesterday night and I learned a few things. I posted about it on Google+ and the post got long and then folks suggested I blog it so ... ok. Fine. Expanded repost.

The background to this session is basically this whole blog. Valleys, rivers, winter, artifacts.

A few days ago I was reviewing my point crawl and felt it had too many points. This was that point crawl, in node form:

Point crawl, node version.
The consensus was that I was being silly and didn't have a problem, that there weren't too many and that if I thought some were boring, I could just use them to have bad stuff happen there.

I ruminated and then spent about 10 minutes redrawing the point-crawl on A3 for my players to scribble on, spill food and drinks on.

This was that version 3:

Point crawl, version 3.
Anybody else notice that blogger html composer editing is really poor at layout?

OK, so that map started off the whole thread.

I guess it wasn't too many points. I trimmed a few of the more egregiously boring ones and made a few more loops. Full lines for cart-accessible routes, dashed lines for feet only, dotted for perilous terrain where you want a mule and don't bring along Grampappy MacDwarf, 'cos he's got a gimpy leg.

Each node is approximately 4 hours travel from another one, so a day's travel is two steps. In bad weather or terrain, a survival check determines if the travel is successful (so, potentially, a journey that should take 4 hours could end up really long if the PCs roll really badly). Getting lost is assumed to be included in that wasted time. Getting "really" lost is when you head off the node map.

Interestingly, I've found my games get better the less effort I put into my maps because I'm less invested in the artifact and materiality of the place - the unfolding adventure and gaming with friends becomes the heart of the product, not the map itself.

Here's a quick rundown of what happened at the table this week:

  • Todd Odd, Royale and Salami purchased ice lice infested mine, 
  • Hi John the Cultist stayed with Salami as his follower
  • Belhak assassinated underbaroness Izolda of Gomilsk, 
  • Todd Odd accepted a quest from Mongo Muti of the Cult of Indigogo to stop the Heresiarch of the Ultramarine cult in Vrelez, 
  • Quinn got a lead on the whereabouts of her missing cat Sparklebutts, taken north by a filthy wildling,
  • Quinn and Royale robbed a hospital, 
  • lied to the militia (badly), 
  • helped the militia, 
  • achieved a 400 golden goat reward posted on the head of somebody who looks suspiciously like Belhak the Backstabber
  • Belhak the Backstabber shaved
  • Todd Odd the Doc did some dental work at the hospital, 
  • The whole group went to the Funky Badger Karaoke, 
  • They accepted the Count Mostar's grudging suggestion that he would accept a wishing orb for his curse-marked son,
  • Royale got a letter of introduction to Count Rudolf of Rudvik,
  • they met some filthy wildlings, 
  • Lots of the PCs had a chit chat bribe session with the underbaronesses' butler, Herr Snoor,
  • They went to Bunker Hill, 
  • They drank Oscar's Spinal Chord, 
  • They played with cats and goats,
  • They learned that the difference between tsarists and wildlings was some very difficult to measure differences in average nose angle and face width-to-height ratios and about two bars of soap, hedge shears and less childhood malnutrition,

I don't really fully comprehend my players anymore, but oh well.

Crew: Belhak the Backstabber, Todd Odd "the Doc", Quinn Medicine Woman, Royale wit Cheese (bounty hunter), Salami et Rocquefort (bounty hunter).

Missing: Blanche de Namur, a warrior, the Necromancer Lawyer (forgot the name), another Warrior, another Thief

And here's a blow-by-blow account of how a hospital robbed, to give an impression of play style.

Me: after an (roll d6, comes up 5 not 1) uneventful voyage up the valley from Mostova you approach the little city of Gomilsk ... perched like a crown with it's white ring wall on top of an ancient Barrow from long long ago. Jutting up you see the temple of ... (point to players) ... what's it a temple of?
Royale w.C.: Kickstarter
Me: Seriously ... That's the best you can do?
Royale w.C.: Well, the other guy is the Cultist of Indigogo.
Me: Does anyone have something better?
Odd Todd the Doc: umm ... uhh ... wait ...
Belhak (the Backstabber): it looks like it's going to be Kickstarter
Me: Seriously?!
Salami w.R.: Shumashamashu
Me: What does that even mean?
Salami w.R.: I don't know! It's just not Kickstarter!
Belhak (the Backstabber): uh ... uhm ...
Me: Fine. Have it your way. The Temple of the Saint Kick Starter, who could start any chariot of the long long ago, even the Speed Demon V8, with a single kick. Anyway it's spires jut up and also the peak of the ... (point to player) where does Baron Boris III Borisov live?
Royale w.C. (excited): in a bunker!
Me: O_O ... ok, and the high chimney of the Bunker of Boris. It's said that it tunnels down into the belly of the Barrow, where the long dead of the long, long ago are buried. The Baron's father and grandfather led expeditions into the Belly, clearing out many of the filthy undead and automata that had been there, but the Mythic Underworld still occasionally belches forth, so the Baron lets adventurers go in for a small nominal fee of 1 golden goat per entry (at a silver standard of 20sp to 1gg, it's quite a fee).
Salami w.R.: ... wait, so they charge you to go in?
Me: yup.
Salami w.R.: They don't tax what you bring out?
Me: Nope, they don't care about that. They want the certain money.
Royale w.C.: So if we don't make it out, the baron still gets paid.
Me: Exactly.
Odd Todd the Doc: Are there any other services nearby?
Me: Sure, a graveyard, a hospice for the dying, a hospital for the living run by the Bloodletting Sisters of Mercy who also run a government sponsored health insurance system for adventurers, whereby they offer to take a 30% cut of the take (with a minimum franchise of 10 golden goats) for full healing.
Odd Todd the Doc: I go there to see if they have need of a dentist - i.e. Me!
Me: (roll dice) ... you come to the hospice and find two nurses in blood red wimples and seven patients (roll more dice) three of them had their teeth smashed in by a mace to the face. Ha! Mace to the face.
Quinn Medicine Woman: I ask them what happened.
Me: (mumbling like I had missing teeth) it just came out of the dark! Bump! It went bump in the dark and I was on my rear wiv my teef all flown! (back to normal voice) the others corroborate there was some big undead warrior with a mace and a big, totally dark shield that knocked their teeth out and left them for dead.
Belhak (the Backstabber): I offer my services for 10% of their take!
Me: 5%
Belhak (the Backstabber): 7%!
Me: Ok, they take your deal. (we roll dice and the final take is around 3 golden goats for a day's dentistry. Pretty decent) Right, guys, he's spending the day doing dentistry. What do you do?
Quinn Medicine Woman: So ... this is a hospital?
Me: Yes.
Quinn Medicine Woman: Do they have medicines and drugs?
Me: Of course, locked in the nurses' office in a few cupboards.
Royale w.C.: I can pick the locks! Um ... probably.
Quinn Medicine Woman: Ok, let's do it.
Me: Hang on, there are nurses all around, they'll see you. You need a distraction or something.
Quinn Medicine Woman: I have my cute cats and goats, I make them do tricks for the nurses.
Me:@_@... fine, roll Charisma or Animal Handling.
Quinn Medicine Woman: (rolls 12)
Me: Ok, they'll be distracted long enough for Royale w.C. to have one try, but if he mucks up too much, they'll notice.
Royale w.C.: I go for it. (rolls 17)
Me: Yeah, the ancient and much loved four-number combination lock would fool an illiterate yokel, but you're a heroic adventurer bounty hunter ... robbing a hospital. It doesn't stop you, the door falls open. The nurses are still enjoying Glitterdust and the Golden Goat playing with each other.
Royale w.C.: I quickly grab what I can.
Me: You toss what you can quickly into a bag ... we'll roll for what it was later, ok?
Royale w.C.: Ok.

... and that's pretty much how the hospital was robbed.

Usually bad puns or good plays also get accompanied by cheesy music.

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