Switch to full style
Within are to be writ the tales of daring and adventure of those who have placed themselves on the path of glory. Share your exploits with other Castlers & Crusaders!
Post a reply

Adventures in Portown

Sun Nov 09, 2008 11:12 pm

The group I had a one-shot with a couple of weeks ago began a new campaign. I am using a mash-up of the World of Broadsword, Points of Light, and a bunch of other stuff for a framework against which to run a sandbox-like game.

The characters were (all first level):

- Kalamet the human fighter

- Eglin the human ranger

- Jalen the half-elven assassin

- Irithil the elven wizard

"Though small, Portown is a prosperous trading town with a good location on the coast. It lies next to the swampy delta of two rivers, the Riksen River and the Great River, entering the Southern Sea. The Empire of Tyros once dominated the area. The final fall of the Empire came when the Sikkar barbarians poured through Waylander's Pass. In the aftermath of the barbarian attack, humanoid tribes from the Highwall Mountains moved into the lowlands and into the Empire's heartland."

"Following the Empire's civil war, barbarians and humanoids dominate this region, and only Portown and a few villages remain as beacons of civilization. Portown's harbour is a lifeline bringing ships and cargo into the region. With the absence of the law and order of the Empire, the harbour is now also a haven for pirates. With the coming of the seedier element and the encroachment of the barbarians, humanoids and other darker elements, the town of Portown has become more isolated and rundown. The taverns are seedy, the streets littered with filth and honest people bolt their doors and stay inside at night. Who know what fate shall find a person caught alone in the dark abducted and chained to a gunwale on a pirate vessel or even worse."

The party was faced with a number of possible leads to adventure to begin with:

- the ruined tower of Zenopus which looms over the Portown (of course);

- finding a local illusionist, Fenton, who went missing while exploring the ruined tower 6 months ago;

- an old, worn map found in their room at the inn indicating the location of a dead mage and his staff;

- recovering a statuette for a merchant that had been stolen by a pirate that was now docked at the warf;

- the army of the former Empire is assembling to retake the area and re-impose order;

- In the last 2 weeks, two ships have run aground and then burnt to the waterline; and

- Some of the Sikkar barbarians that remain in the area fought a pitch battle against the Broken Skull Orcs under the eaves of the Barrowood and all the survivors were subsequently cut down in an ambush by wood elves.

Deciding to investigate the ruined tower, our intrepid heroes braved the dark passages beneath the Tower of Zenopus, overcame a fearsome white ape, an evil wizard and his warrior companion, and relentless undead skeletons. The spoils gained include a number of items that belonged to the the evil wizard including an ominous book titled The Black Tome of Yildzi which seems to give the instructions to a dangerous ritual that summons a creature of the abyss and the wizards notes detailing his search for a mysterious Crown of Devron.

Returning to town the party faces many mysteries and some new rumours:

- Why was a fighter carrying a holy symbol to a god of honour and perfection willing to fight to the death at the side of an evil thaumaturge?

- What is the Crown of Devron that the evil thaumaturge and Zenopus of old were searching for?

- What to do with the Black Tome of Yildzi?

- Where is Fenton the illusionist?

- What is depicted on the map found in Elgins inn room?

- Who is the merchant and why is he willing to pay so much for the recovery of a small statuette?

- Is there any connection between merchant and the mysterious man that asked you to recover the tablets from the accursed Tyrosian pirate Darsielle Du Moires whose much sought ship, the Hydras Fang, is docked in the harbour?

- Why have the beggars and homeless been disappearing? Does the Church of Jamboor have anything to do with it?

- What caused the two ships to run aground and burn to the waterline?

- Is there any reason to fear if the rumour of approaching the armies of the Empire is true?

Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:21 pm

Portown! That is my default coastal city. So you too, have the old sample dungeon that Gygax used. I have used this old adventure on several occasions.

Love how you are working this into a greater overarching plot.

SPOILERS

Sun Nov 16, 2008 7:11 pm

Thanks. I wanted to use a number of old-school adventures and really go for a sword and sorcery feel. I am currently planning on replacing some of the monsters in the cellars beneath the tower and then I am going to use the Lost City of Barakus underneath the cellars.

I wanted to give the players a number of options though and give them a big sandbox to play in. I don't really have a plot planned out... we'll see where the players go. We are getting together again next weekend. I will post some more afterwards.

Thu Nov 20, 2008 3:15 pm

Sounds awesome. I've been toying with the idea of running a sandbox-style game. Do you mind if I steal some of these ideas?

Fri Nov 21, 2008 5:14 am

Not at all. Please use whatever you want and let us know how it goes.

I am currently trying to figure out what to use to replace the encounters in the first level of Barakus. As I mentioned above, I am going for a S&S feel and I decided to do away with alot of the redundant humanoids such as goblins, hobgoblins, kobolds, ogres, etc. I am looking for something more mysterious and unknown by the players - more in the dark, lost world sense of S&S. Ideally, I would even just change up the description and cultural stuff and keep the stats. The easiest is to just use descriptions for neanderthals, beastmen etc, but if you or anyone else has any ideas please let me know.

Sat Nov 22, 2008 2:24 am

Once, to give an original flair to a dungeon crawl, a friend of mine used black-haired gnolls. They were extremely savage to us, since we were used to fighting orcs and goblins. But the first decimated corpses we found, half-eaten, made us suspect something other than goblinoids, and that night we hear strange ululating cries. They can have an air of mystery about them to a degree greater than any other demi-human race appropriate for a low-level encounter due to their inhumanity and savageness.

Episode 2

Sun Nov 23, 2008 8:09 am

Our brave adventurers returned to the Green Dragon Inn to find the Elf Wizard gone and three thugs ransacking their room. The town watch quickly arrived and brought the situation under control and instructed the adventurers to report to the Magistar in the morning. After the watch left a thorough search of the room found the mysterious golden statuette that Mazdak offered the adventurers a large sum of gold if they found it for him. Deciding that the next step would be to confront Mazdak, the adventurers track him to his warehouse at the docks. Inside the warehouse, the adventurers find Mazdak dead and battle two more thugs and a female wizard. Kalumet quickly falls unconscious in the battle but the enemy flees the warehouse and escapes in a rowboat while the other party members take care of their fallen comrade. The next morning, the town Magistar passes his verdict and the party quickly flee Portown one step ahead of the law and leaving many new and old mysteries in their wake:

- How did the golden statuette get into their room at the inn and why are so many people seemingly interested in recovering it?

- Who killed Mazdak?

- How did the town watch show up at the inn just as the adventurers were confronting the thugs?

- Who was the evil wizard under the ruined Tower of Zenopus?

- Are the rumours of a lost subterranean city below the ruined tower true?

- What is the Crown of Devron?

- What to do with the Black Tome of Yildzi?

- Where is Fenton?

- What is depicted on the map found in Elgins inn room?

- What to do about the pirate Darsielle Du Moire? Is he after the adventurers?

- Why have the beggars and homeless been disappearing from Portown?

- What caused the two ships to run aground and burn to the waterline?

- Is there any reason to fear if the rumour of approaching the Hel-Legions is true?

- What is troubling Elgin regarding his betrothed whom he left back at his homestead?

- What is Kalumet to do now that he fled his life as a city guard in Portown?

- How do they clear their name in Portown?

Episode 3: The Guardian of the Lake

Sun Nov 30, 2008 1:47 am

After laying low in the wild for a few days, our brave heroes decide to return to the dark caverns below the ruined Tower of Zenopus. The adventurers scout the far slope of the hill to the north of the ruined tower and discover a narrow crevice that they take as a back door to the cellars under the tower. Entering the dark warrens they battle hordes of loathsome ratmen while evading the numerous traps and trip wires the vile creatures scattered throughout their dark home. Proceeding deeper into the caverns the heroes discover a mysterious pillar carved with unknown letters. Farther in the caves, they also find what appears to be a long forgotten shrine. Solving the puzzle in the shrine gives the party the supernatural ability to understand the warrior's prayer that is engraved in the mysterious pillar. Exploring further into the caves, the heroes find a large lake of black icy water with three rocky islands. Jalen dropped his gear and swam out to the nearest island to investigate. Suddenly the guardian of the lake rose up hurtling an acidic glob that narrowly missed Jalen as he climbed up onto the island. A noxious fog then sprang up around the island and caused Jalen to drop to the ground wretching. A few minutes later when the fog dissipated, Jalen was gone - likely dragged to his doom in a dark, icy cold grave.

Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:19 pm

Oh my. Poor Jalen. At least he dropped his equipment for everyone else to gank now. I'm curious: What was the puzzle in the shrine? I always have a hard time inventing puzzles for my game. Puzzles are important to my games because they really switch up the action, and give Bards a chance to shine, especially if they have to do with ancient knowledge and what not.
_________________
Scientists will never understand that the world doesn't have to adhere to laws. A world where Firefly gets cancelled and Nip/Tuck thrives clearly obeys powers not known to us.

Sat Dec 06, 2008 4:37 am

I am using a published module for the lost city below the cellars of the Tower of Zenopus so the puzzle just comes from that source with a few very minor tweeks. I have a tough time with inventing puzzles as well. There was a shrine with gravel covering the floor and in three large stones that glowed with a faint red light and were warm to the touch. After moving some of the gravel, the party found a large red circle in the middle of the room. Lots of experimentation discovered that if a character knelt in the circle while one of the other characters touched one of the glowing stones they healed 1d6 hit points and were given the ability to read the ancient language carved into the mysterious marble pillar.

No siege checks - just roleplaying. It was a good old school bit of challenge the players not the characters.

Sat Dec 06, 2008 6:19 pm

Interesting. Sometimes I pick modules up just for the puzzles. Riddles are fun, too, but sometimes it's hard to find a context for them in a dungeon. TLG needs, like, a book of 100 puzzles to use in any dungeon. I know I'd buy it.
_________________
Scientists will never understand that the world doesn't have to adhere to laws. A world where Firefly gets cancelled and Nip/Tuck thrives clearly obeys powers not known to us.

Episode 3B: Safety in Numbers

Sun Dec 21, 2008 1:35 am

Two developments in our C&C campaign: 1. the terrible weather in Calgary has interfered with our gaming schedule and 2. we have added a new player. Recently, we had a small session that only 2 players were able to attend, the new guy and one of the previous players. The new guy played Carrock the Bard and the guy that has been part of the group played Kron the Fighter.

The regular party has decided that since the death of Jalen they would return to civilization. However, they did not want to return to Portown, and instead decided to head to a new town - Delen. To make adding the new player to the group easier, the goal of this session was to get the Bard to Delen as well.

The session began with the two characters traveling with a caravan headed to Portown. The opening scene began in the campsite where the caravan spent the night. Suddenly slavers attacked and amid the chaos, Carrock and Kron fled into the brush where they found Timmon, an 8-year old boy and his 17-year old, and very pregnant sister, Madeline. The two adventurers decided to see the brother and sister to safety. They quickly deduced that there were two roughly equidistant routes they could take: 1. they could continue on to Portown; or 2. they could instead cut across the rugged Faris Hills and make their way to Delen. Deciding to avoid the road and hopefully also avoid the slavers they decided for the more difficult but hopefully safer route through the hills.

While journeying over their chosen path, the small group:

- defeated a pair of slavers and the giant ferret-like creature they were using to track anyone that escaped the attack on the campsite;

- overcame 2 malnourished and desperate wolves whose lair the party used for shelter

- were teleported by a mysterious skeleton whose tomb was in the back of the wolf lair; and

- escaped from a vile cult and their gigantic snake "god" but not before the snake killed Kron the fighter.

The session ended with Carrock the Bard and the brother and sister reaching the village of Delen.

Episode 4: The necromancer's knife

Wed Jan 14, 2009 7:39 pm

After spending a couple of weeks regrouping in Delen following the demise of Jalen our brave adventurers had a frantic couple of days:

- They help an injured agent in the employ of the Baron of Belsa get away from some knights of the Hel-Legion;

- Kalumet and Elgin walk into a fight between thugs in a back alley where Elgin picks up a valuable looking dagger;

- Pursuing a lead from the Belsan agent, the group has to quickly sidestep some gang politics which costs Kalumet his weapons;

- Elgin is overcome by the dark life force of the long deceased owner of the recovered dagger; and

- The group descends into the dank sewers and crypts under the town to find the tomb of Ikhtanabu Xul and overcome the dead necromancer's shade freeing Elgin from the evil dagger's grip.

Episode 5: The Lisping Bard

Tue Jan 20, 2009 4:21 am

The last time we saw our brave adventurers they had decided that Delen had become rather uncomfortable. They had decided that a trip to Belsa, even though a long and hazardous journey by foot, would be the best thing to do. They could put some distance between themselves and the Hel-Legions, which were increasingly looking like an occupying force in Delen, and they could hopefully earn some gold and some favours from the Baron of Delen by delivering news from the east as well as word of his agent Maya.

After making the various logistical arrangements for a long journey they set off and quickly came to a halt as the ferry man recognized Carrock the Bard and refused him passage across the river (due to unfortunate events during an evening of the bard carousing). A HUGE bribe and the fact that he was leaving town managed to convince the ferry man to transport the bard and his companions across the river muttering his good riddance the whole while.

Reaching the far shore of the Great River, the party took some precautions against being followed and set off on foot across the plain. By the end of the first day they had travelled far enough that the eaves of the Barrowood were in sight and decided to make camp well short of the haunted forest in a stand of trees. During the night the party was awakened by the loud sound of the passing of a herd of 30 tall bipedal lizards stomping past their campsite. Everyone laid low and prayed that the giant lizards would not stomp on them or stop to graze on the foliage around their campsite their prayers were granted.

They traveled for three more days, keeping the eaves of the forest in sight, during which:

they saw a large stone totem roughly carved in a humanoid shape;

were attacked by a pack of ferocious wolves that had a strange brand on their hindquarters and the druid and bard were very injured the bard suffering a vicious cut on his bottom lip which split his lip down to his chin;

came across a large woven leather basket which had been laying on the plain for quite some time;

discovered a natural cave which, after the briefest if investigations, they decided to leave alone;

narrowly avoided a column of armoured men that had two very heavy and large wagons and carried a black standard with three interlocking white rings; and

found an old skeleton laying on the ground still wearing its rusted chainmail. In it's old backpack was an ivory scroll case.

A long journey still remains before our heroes

Will the heroes survive the long and dangerous journey to Belsa?

What will the reception be like when (or if) they arrive in the city?

What is in the ivory scroll case?

What was the strange brand on the wolves?

Who were the armoured column of men and what was in the wagons?

Are the Hel-Legions pursuing the brave band?

What happened to Maya?

Will they find a way to dispose the Black Tome of Yildzi and the gold statuette?

Episode 6: Meeting the Baron

Sun Feb 08, 2009 11:10 pm

The Bard is now 2nd level! As a refresher the party consists of:

- Kalument, 1st level Human Fighter

- Elgin, 1st level Human Ranger

- Carrock, 2nd level Human Bard

- Orin, 1st level mixed breed Druid (think half-orc)

After reading the contents of the ivory scroll case, the brave adventurers continued their trek to Belsa. The scroll case contained a letter from a dwarf describing a small group of dwarves trying to keep a group of orcs from discovering a significant artifact. The party hummed and hawed about checking out this new lead but decided to continue to Belsa and maybe come back after getting rid of the Black Tome of Yildzi and the golden statuette.

I decided to try something different this time with the journey. Taking the 4E-style skill challenge and knowing that the party was still about 12 days away from Belsa, I decided that we would go around the table and each person would describe a siege check that they would try - a success meant an uneventful day of travel and a failure would mean some sort of encounter. Also, two consecutive failures would deplete their provisions from high to medium to low to out.

During the journey, the party found an old sledge, were ambushed by tattooed elves from the Barrowood, avoided a hunting giant snake, hid from a small group of Hel-Legion knights and met with a group of knights from Belsa who were pursuing the Hel-Legion knights.

Arriving in Belsa the party went directly to the Baron's palace but were told to come back the next day. The bard mentioned the name of the Baron's agent they met in Delen, Maya to the Seneschal.

After coming back the next morning, the party was quickly shown into a meeting room where the Baron and a servant named Boudency. The Baron was very inquisitive about news from the east and of his agent. Lots of good roleplaying.

After the Baron excused himself, Boudency payed the party for bring news and also acquired the Black Tome for study by some mages in the Baron's employ.

Party spent the rest of the day looking around Belsa and getting a sense of the vibe of the city.

Returning to their inn, the party finds a note from Boudency requesting a meeting at a shady inn near the city gates. Meeting him there, the party discovers that Boudency is a man of some importance to the Baron and he offers the party a dangerous job - to travel back to the east and rescue a Tyrosian General who has renounced the diabolic activities of his Emperor and is now being held in a secret prison in a foreboding swamp.

At this point Kalumet and Elgin both also reached 2nd level.

It was a good session. The mechanic I used for the journey seemed to work well and the players gave me good feedback about it. The ambush by the elves conveyed the feeling that I wanted - that elves are secretive and alien. And the roleplaying with the Baron went well.

Episode 7: Mushrooms Suck!

Sat Feb 14, 2009 7:44 pm

Our brave heroes began the mission to liberate the imprisoned Tyrosian General. I decided to get past the sea voyage quickly to get onto other things.

Being put ashore in on the edge of a coastal marsh in Tyrosian territory, the heroes set out in the dark of night. Having a crude map and knowing that the trek would take at least eight hours, the heroes decided to head for some low hills that bordered the marsh to gain cover and hopefully make better time on dry land. After a few hours they came to a road heading north-south which, they believed from their map, led to Tyros to the north and a small village called Red Creek to the south. Carefully crossing the road to avoid any possible patrols, the party crossed into the hills to the east and found a place to camp for the short remainder of the night.

Waking to an eerie pink sunrise, the party set out once again and soon discovered the cause of the creepy sunrise... a vast spongy swamp full of enormous mushrooms of various sizes and sickly colours. Cautiously entering the swamp, the heroes trudged through the spongy ground in the dim light blocked out by the umbrellas of numerous monstrous mushrooms. They soon found that this alien landscape was full of danger with exploding mushrooms, fungus that struck with razor-like tendrils and acid pools underfoot. After traveling for nearly the entire day in this oppressive environment, the heroes spotted a Hel-Legion Knight mounted on a giant lizard with large, round, padded feet. An arduous chase ensued. The knight's lizard was slow and plodding but its large feet kept it on top of the spongy ground and its large size helped him plow through many of the alien and dangerous obstacles of the mushroom swamp. Leaping across acid pools and dodging the various dangerous fungi, the party managed to eventually catch the Hel-Legion before he was able to escape and report the heroes presence.

After overcoming the Hel-Legion knight the party discovered the ruined keep where they were told the Tyrosian General was being held. Entering the keep, they overcame a group of guards and discovered a secret door into the dungeons beneath. Descending the dark secret stairs, they were ambushed by another set of guards which were overcome after a bloody battle.

GM Notes:

- I generally dislike naval encounters so we skipped most of the sea voyage.

- The mushroom swamp seemed to capture the players imagination.

- The chase scene mechanics were taken from one of Paizo's adventures from their "Curse of the Crimson Throne" AP and modified to fit the swamp and to use the siege engine. The players gave good feedback and seemed to enjoy it. It took longer than I thought it would but most of that was caused by poor die rolling by both the players and me.

- The ruined keep is a slightly modified version of the ruined moathouse.

- We are using Paizo's critical and fumble decks - there were a lot of fumbles lastnight and a critical that broke Kalumet's jaw.

My player are mostly former 3.5 players and it took some time for them to get comfortable with the slower level advancement but I heard a great line from one of them, "I have never been more proud of reaching second level."

Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:22 am

It's been a while since my group gathered to continue the adventure. There was one more session after the last post where they fought through the dungeon below the ruined keep and found the General. There was a large pitched battle that saw the party flee down an unexplored hallway and into a crypt. Luckily they then found a secret door that allowed them to escape.

The next session will see the party try to get back through the swamp and then back to Belsa.

Re: Adventures in Portown

Sat Aug 15, 2015 7:52 am

This is very entertaining as a form of nostalgia - as this was the first time I ever played C&C - I was both Jalen the hunter (deceased) and Orin the druid.
As Pdiddy noted, most of the other players had come from 3E but I had only played 3.x a few times and was a 2E guy throughout the 1990s. Living in Calgary after finishing my PhD was a great opportunity to get back into RPG. Portown was a lot of fun, and Pdiddy was a great Keeper. The chase through the mushroom field was great (I'd love to recall the way he used the SEIGE mechanic - if still out there). I liked the use of dinosaurs too; contributed to the S&S vibe!
Sandbox as a concept is OK but there were a few too many tangents for my taste (meaning I couldn't keep track as a player) - As a CK I definitely prefer an overarching narrative or some broader world/region-shaping events that draw the players back in whether they like it or not!
Post a reply