14 November 2015

Averaigne campaign - session 04(a)

[The story so far]

Session 04(a) - Back to the gully with a new party, and introducing the Summoner

The "Four Javelins" coaching inn was busy. It was late afternoon and the light was fading from the early spring day. Locals, and travellers who had decided to stop the night rather than risk not reaching the next welcoming fireside, thronged the bar with its flagstone floor and oak-beamed ceiling. At one sturdy table a group of farmers toasting the birth of a healthy son, traders swapping gossip from the capital at another, here a rich man, there a poor man, most of them human but a couple of halflings and maybe even the odd elf thrown in. A roaring fire in the hearth gave not just warmth and light, but a glow of civilisation, comfort and security most welcome after a damp day's work or travel. Serving girls with trays filled with mugs of foaming ale or platters of simple but good quality meals weaved their way through the press, and, overlooking it all, the landlord. A man in his late forties, perhaps, stout and bearded. The sandy hair on his head thinning, his beard streaked with grey, but his eyes still sharp to spot newcomers and his voice still loud to welcome them over the cheerful din.

The Four Javelins wouldn't have that half-orc or, indeed, half-undressed wenches, but this was close enough. 
In one corner, though, the mood seemed more fraught. A worried old man, a priest of Alathea by his robes, was talking animatedly with a small group of circus folk (two identical, chubby, smooth-skinned men, a halfling woman with an arm in a sling, and a man with an exquisitely trimmed and oiled jet-black beard). Any wary observer would have noticed that the good-humour of the bar did not extend to this party.

A sudden hubbub near the door as a frantic man, a farmer by his dress, shoved his way through the throng to reach the priest, grabbing him by the shoulder and gesturing wildly, evidently bringing bad news because the priest reeled back in dismay. A ripple of quiet spread outwards from the group as those nearby tried to hear what was being said. The man with the beard climbed up onto the table and bellowed for quiet, evidently used to a rowdy audience. "Listen! Listen! Earlier today some friends of this worthy priest headed out from here to look for this man Jerome's nephew Carl, missing for two days. Jerome is a local man, one of you, that they were happy to help, though they were strangers. They have not returned and now the afternoon is fading. Will you help find them before nightfall? He says they were searching up near the ravine beyond his farm."

A rumble from the locals. They knew Jerome, knew him for a coward but also a generous sort and a hard worker. They knew Carl, too. Still, that ravine was a bad luck sort of place. Felt wrong. Spend too long there and you started too feel like you were unravelling like an old bit of cloth. Go up there in the dark? Not a chance! Best wait until morning; they might have turned up by then anyway.

"Please!" It was the old priest speaking now. "Please, I feel something dreadful has befallen them. If any of you will go now I will come with you and you will be well rewarded by the temple in Corcelle. My companion, young Bregans, was with them and I feel responsible for him."

And now the landlord chimed in. "Aye, and I'll lodge you free tonight if you do go. I owe my life to a cleric of Alathea, as I've told you lot often enough," he said gesturing to the regulars clustered along the bar. Despite the promise of free beer and whatever the priest could give, no locals were prepared to search before the morning. Five travellers stepped forward, however, three men and two elves. The old priest, Berignon, hurried them out into the late afternoon with gratitude, Jerome the farmer following in their wake... 

So, this was our restart after the TPK of last time, with five new characters: a human fighter, a human cleric, a human magic user, an elf magic-user/fighter and an elf magic-user. On the suggestion of the elf magic-user player I've come up with a new class, the Summoner, whose magic tends to interaction with, summoning and command of spirits (faery, elementals and the dead). I based it very closely on the existing Swords & Wizardry Magic-User, the Summoner class for AD&D that was published in White Dwarf #27, and the Boring Spells and Spellcasters suggestions from Joel Priddy. I'll try to sort out a proper download at some point, taking proper account of SRDs, OGLs, and art ownership when we've playtested it a little; this is just a jpeg of the document I knocked up as first draft for our houserules. I've got as far as the 1st level spells, and here is what I came up with:

I couldn't find the origin of the excellent illustration I've used here - if you recognise it, please let me know!

The idea was also to provide some difference between the characters in the party - three magic-users!

The characters, along with the players' self-composed back-stories, are:

Nomos Horne, human fighter
(STR13, INT12, WIS14, DEX14, CON12, CHA14)
Nomos Horme, as was expected in his native town of Comptone, had always planned to follow in the footsteps of his father, one of a few guards who protected the growing but rather dormant town of Comptone against threats of petty halfling thieves and parties of drunks, but rarely anything more. Having done his basic training and having been on the job for a good few weeks, Nomos began to grow bored of the mundane, repetitive nature of being a guard, and wanted to put his skill set to better use, he wanted to see the world, wanted the name Nomos Horme to be spoken in hushed whispers by bandits who prayed they'd never cross his path, to be revered the world over as a hero, a legend. So, Nomos, against the wishes of his parents, hopped on to his noble steed Mule-an, riding east in search of something more worth his time, and, as is the nature of 22 year olds, within a few miles managed to end up in a pub, which is where we find our adventurer, straight out of Comptone and with a gleam in his eye.
 Dumnorix "Nori", human cleric of Alathea
(STR17, WIS9, INT11, DEX11, CON12, CHA12)
Dumnorix was born into a privileged family, as the son of a wealthy and moderately successful knight and high-born noblewoman. Being a knight, his father could often be found honing his skills in the courtyard of their estate, and Dumnorix would spend much of his time as a child there, assisting his father in training. His father did as other knights did - taking wives and putting them away in an attempt to boost his position in the realm, and making enemies as he picked sides in the various quarrels which would crop up amongst the nobility. For Dumnorix this meant two things: firstly he had a step brother - a paranoid chap twenty years his elder with a mother of questionable lineage, and, secondly, his father was killed when he was but a six year old. Dumnorix' step brother was quick to assert himself as the successor to his father, and, in his paranoia, had Dumnorix' mother die of 'heartbreak', and ol' Nori himself anonymously deposited at a distant monastery. The monks gave Nori a pleasant and humble upbringing, but it soon became clear that he wasn't cut out for a lifetime of reading scrolls. Fortunately, while not truly understanding what had happened to him, Dumnorix did recall the time he had spent in the courtyard with his father and, conveniently enough, the techniques his father was practising. This put Dumnorix in good stead when it came to being martially competent from an early age, and, indeed, really rather strong. The natural path form this point was that of becoming a cleric - a warrior monk, and so he did. At the age of 25 Dumnorix was sent out on his first (and I'm really hoping not last) quest as a cleric, fully intending to kill stuff in the name of Alathea and thus for the betterment of mankind. 
Or something like that.
Rubeus Mangold, elf fighter/mage
(STR13, INT13, WIS16, DEX13, CON14, CHA15)
I feel like my character should have a backstory of having previously lived in a fairly pleasant settlement, but he was never quite satisfied, even by his skill for minor acts of illusion-forming. He always trained (hence the moderately high strength, dexterity, and constitution) until, eventually, at the age of 60, he secretly took a mule (he left money for it due to his alignment) and left, hoping for adventure.
Aurelius, human mage
(STR10, INT16, WIS8, DEX11, CON12, CHA11)
Neighbouring Averaigne, to the East, is the land of Lombria. Within sight of Lombria's capital city, Ghalent, is the large College of Goldhaven in which magic is studied There all the younglings try to attack each other in decreasingly innovative ways and the adults, among other things, try to patent their various magical “inventions” in order to make profit. The High Mage has the power to restrict the capabilities of all the mages if they have not given the patent holder substantial pecuniary reward for their “invention”. The council, led by the High Mage, is formed of the richest men and women in the nearby city and its suburbs, allowing the rich to stay rich and forcing the rest to keep losing their money just to keep intermediate magical abilities. Infuriated by such an unfair and corrupt society, Aurelius decided to leave and head for Corcelle, buying some supplies from a guy who sells supplies out of the back of his cart, and paying a nearby ageing fellow to take his horse. Then he rode for Corcelle. His aim was to rally the students of magic there so they would never be oppressed the way they were at the College of Goldhaven. On his way he stops off at an inn, too tired to keep on riding, for some food and a chilled beverage.
Grat Ismort, elf summoner
(STR10, INT17, WIS10, DEX7, CON11, CHA14)
Fascinated by an encounter with the shade of a recently dead human, and frustrated by being unable to communicate with it, Grat focussed his efforts on summoning spirits. Firstly, those of nature (sylphids, wisps and the like), but increasingly his interest in what his fellows decried as necromancy drove him to wander afar, searching for the knowledge that eludes him.

Phew! This post is already long and wordy enough, so we shall leave our newly introduced party as they approach the lightning-blasted tree, silhouetted against the darkening sky, where Jerome says Bregans and the others headed when looking for Carl earlier in the day.

Stay tuned for player delight at object permanence, metal that gets warm when bloodied, and a cunning trick that... Well, you'll have to wait and see whether it really was cunning or not.


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