Monday, July 28, 2008

The First Two Adventures


The first three sessions of my BFRPG campaign are in the books. There were two "missions" completed in that time, take-your-time exploration-and-mystery adventures, because I wanted to see how these guys operated... and the first two sessions only had a few players, and heavy action with a small number of 1st level BFRPG characters would be a massacre. I won't give "session reports," but I'll describe the adventure setup for the two.

Adventure 1

A remote mining village at the end of civilization is celebrating a late spring/early summer festival. The six most beautiful couples are getting married, and then the next day the husbands compete in "games." The games continue, day after day, until one of the men dies (Consider it a sword-and-sorcery version of "Extreme Sports."). The day after that happens, his new bride is taken up a mountain, bedecked in expensive jewels, and sacrificed to the "spirits of the mountain" who ensure that there are no raiders, earthquakes, avalanches, cave-ins, or any other sort of catastrophe.

  • The village does this every five years.
  • There have been no raiders or bandits or plague or seismic or mine problems for hundreds of years, so the villagers all very much believe in this whole ritual.
  • The couples feel honored to be selected, and in fact a common problem with the "games" is the participants falling all over each other to be the one to die.
  • There are no "spirits." The girl is brought up the mountain and chained to a post as a sacrifice to a dragon that protects the valley. The "spirits" are a story put forth by the town authorities and clergy in order to prevent interference. Nobody wants to mess with spirits, but you say "dragon" and every idiot within a thousand miles with a sword and dreams of glory is going to show up to try and kill it.
  • ... but the dragon died decades ago. Of old age. The first to come across the body were a tribe of goblins who cleared the place out, and when the sacrifice was brought up the mountain, they had their way with the sacrificed girl and robbed her. But then the dwarves of the mountains showed up, slaughtered the goblins, and took a look at the situation. The dwarves knew that the human's mining area was rich and would provide gold and ore for hundreds of years, and they knew that humans spread like roaches over the world. By keeping the humans satisfied and happy here, the dwarves would be able to have the rest of the range to themselves for a good long while, even by dwarven standards. So the dwarves make sure (through human agents) that the humans in the area are well educated about proper mining techniques to prevent accidents, and they make sure the territory is secure from monsters and bandits. And every five years, the dwarves sit in the dragon cave with a flamethrower device (for "there really is a dragon!" purposes) and when the girl is chained in front of the cave, the dwarves come and strip her of valuables... and leave her there. Letting her go would mean the whole scheme is unraveled, they don't want to take her with them, and killing her would just seem cruel. So for decades now, the young woman expecting to be taken by a dragon (they do tell the poor girl) instead dies of starvation, dehydration, and exposure.

So how do the PCs get involved? The well-to-do family of one of the "lucky women" getting married is secretly unhappy with the whole situation. The festival attracts a good number of travelers who want to see the games, and this family has spies among the festival crowd listening for people who express displeasure with the whole thing. (The PCs will say how screwed up this is when they ask what the festival actually is, right?) The family will then basically beg these anarchic dissidents to save their daughter, if she is "chosen," take her far away from this place, and of course keep the jewels as payment. But they have to do it without letting the villagers know that everything didn't go as planned - they'd panic. The family isn't concerned about the dragon (they know) getting pissed; they're confident that a few more sacrifices hastily put together would solve any situation.

So that's the adventure. I'm telling you, the look on players' faces when they start to think their first level characters are going to deal with a dragon... priceless.

Adventure 2

There's a missing geologist in a dangerous area! His brother will pay money for his return. The PCs are given his last known location, and going there, they learn where the guy went up in the mountains...

There's an old manor house up in the mountains, but its been abandoned for a long time. The place was built over a volcanic cavern, and the house was built amongst strange stone formations. Volcanic steam is breaking through these formations, so the inside of the house is just full of steam and heat and the entire place is filled with a REALLY LOUD ROAR so it's impossible to talk to other people in the place.

... it's also haunted by a banshee, which is bound to the house during the day, but may wander the whole grounds at night. So when the PCs first encounter it in the house, it screams... but they can't hear the scream. That's good for getting characters to shit their pants.

Investigating the house reveals the owners were a human man and an elven woman...

... Investigating the grounds reveals that one end of the manor grounds ends in a cliff... and the family graveyard is slowly falling off the cliff, with shattered coffins and remains far below, and some caskets sticking halfway out the cliff... but the grave of the lady of the house has been dug up, and the ring finger on her left hand is missing...

Down the cliff a bit is a ledge with a cave with steam flowing out of it... and there's a decent sized cavern complex in there, and of course there's the geologist's body, and of course he's got the ring.

A simple setup, I think. The PCs took the ring and reburied it with the woman's body, ending the haunting. Now, they didn't have to, as the banshee couldn't pursue them off the grounds... but they did, and then stayed the next night on the grounds... now I'd written the adventure so that returning the ring to the corpse "dispels" the banshee. If this was a proper sword and sorcery tale, the haunting would still continue and the PCs sticking around would have been dead, dead, dead. :P

I've run this adventure twice, once in Vaasa and now in Helsinki. Decent for first level characters, but perhaps overdoing the verisimilitude of the area made for a lot of empty, boring areas to explore.

This time I'd added a bonus thingy to the cavern complex... basically an entrance to a grander underground cavern where I had notes for a four-tribe version of Red Nails to be going on. They didn't go for it... they'd achieved their objective, and chasing after strange things wasn't a good way to stay alive.

Good thing I'd only detailed the entrance area and not the entire scenario down there. ;)

First session had four players, second had three, and the third session had six players. And there are a couple more wanting to join the campaign that couldn't start quite now. But now with the party up to "standard" D&D strength, I can throw more time-urgent and action-oriented adventures at them... and since I've seen how they operate for a bit now, I can tailor the hooks to them and try to push their individual buttons.

Next game might not be for a few weeks (so many players have other plans next Sunday, and the following Sunday is Ropecon...), but I'll let you know how that works out.

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