Crusader Kingdoms of the Unholy Lands

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James C. Bennett
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Crusader Kingdoms of the Unholy Lands
We played the first session of my new campaign yesterday. I set up a blog to record session reports and house rules. Here are the actual play reports. Introduction and Character Creation Session 1: Hijinks EnsueNike
Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

I love your setting. Atlanteans, deserts, crusaders, lost gods, what else could you ask for!

Session 1 was magnificently brutal. For a moment I thought the Romance-Novel bard was going to get horribly maimed or something from his fall, which would have been a very George R R Martin moment. 

In reading the PC descriptions, I had a sense that "these players have no idea how brutal this game is." No one in their right mind has a 0th level henchman be a family member. That's like ASKING to have your family murdered. (PS: In the Auran Empire playtest, one player, Viktir, had his 3 sons as henchmen. Whilst under control of a Magic Jar, he slew all 3. Oh, the pathos.)

 

James C. Bennett
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Thanks Alex. I'm really trying to bring on the pulp for this campaign.

Thjorolf's player and I (who both played Basic D&D in our youth) have made sure that the other players (2 of which have played with us since the 2nd Ed Player's Option days, and the other three of which have only played 3rd & 4th Ed) know, in an academic sense, how brutal this game is. They won't really understand it until they experience it, though. I think being relegated to playing a 0th level henchman for most of the night may have driven this home for the bard's player. Our group has always been of the "audacity, more audacity, always audacity" school of adventuring, though, so who knows how much it will actually affect their play style. They are all big roleplayers at least, so they will eat up horrible things like Viktir's tragic loss, or having a family member devoured by rats/beastmen/Lovecraftian horrors in the first dungeon.

Oh, and the dice love the bard's player, so the rest of the us shrugged off his plummeting 30' and winding up with nothing more than a minor scar that only served to make him look even more dashing with the same "Meh. Typical." as we did his above-average-in-almost-every-way stats. The assassin's perfect result on the Mortal Wounds table was awesome though. I have to say that I love the Mortal Wounds table. The barbarian continuing on with a limp is much cooler than just rolling up another 1st level character.

James C. Bennett
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Joined: 2012-01-17 20:17

We finally had a chance to play again yesterday.

Session 2: In Which I Roll 6 for Wandering Monsters 5 Times in a Row

Still no treasure, but the party did end up with the mask, robe, and keys of one of the Chosen of Zargon, which, in the hands of their assassin with the disguise proficiency, should prove as useful as any magic item. That is, if they are ever able to reunite with said assassin.

James C. Bennett
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Joined: 2012-01-17 20:17

I've posted the play report from Monday's session.

Session 3: In Which the Party Earns a Dubiously Heroic Reputation at the Cost of a Third of its Membership

I like to think of them as "failing forward."

James C. Bennett
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Joined: 2012-01-17 20:17

The latest session report is up.

Session 4: In Which an Expedition to the Isle of Death Yields Actual Treasure

House rules posts covering the Atlantean Tycoon and the custom undead appearing in the campaign will follow as my schedule permits. Looks like to the trip to the Isle of Death took place just in time for Halloween!

James C. Bennett
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Joined: 2012-01-17 20:17

The report from Saturday's session is up. The players are getting the hang of this, and put the barbarian's natural stealth to good use.

Session 5: In Which a High Priest is Assassinated and a Barkeep Takes an Arrow to the Knee

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Great campaign updates! Of the various actual play recordings I've read to date, your campaign's fights seem to most resemble my own campaign's -- gruesome and very, very deadly. I physically winced when your zombies ripped out that guy's tongue...

How many players do you have running the various PCs and henchmen?

 

James C. Bennett
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Joined: 2012-01-17 20:17

Thanks Alex. The Mortal Wounds table is great for pushing you to get creative with the combat descriptions.

We currently have 5 players:

  • Milnos-Sim Neutral Male Atlantean Tycoon 1 (I haven't posted this class yet. It's Zaharan 1, Thieving 1, Arcane 3, with the thief skills replaced with Venturer mercantile skills.)
    • Sablain-Xee*, Neutral Male Fighter 1. A Cynidicean with 17 STR.
    • Amab-Rah*, Neutral Normal Man 0. A Cynidicean siege engineer.
  • Thjolstoff Darkskull, Lawful Male Barbarian 1. He currently has no henchmen, as his gruesome scarring is putting off potential recruits.
  • Mercedes di Portia, Neutral Female Assassin 1.
    • Eva di Portia, Neutral Female Explorer 1. Mercedes' sister.
  • Aisha Alendi, Neutral Female Atlantean Stormtrooper 1.
    • Lunatha-Sim*, Neutral Female Fighter 1. A Cynidicean with a beastman ancestor.
  • Spinello di Lombabasso, Neutral Male Bard 1.
    • Odgrim Silverbeast, Neutral Male Light Infantry 0. A crusader from the Ygren barbarian tribes who has spent so much time recovering from mortal wounds that he has yet to reach 1st level.
    • Simbra-Nar, Neutral Male Atlantean Swordsmage (basically the Spellsword, but Zarharan instead of Elf). He will be recovering from the zombie ripping out his tongue for a few more weeks.
    • Meldotia-Nar*, Neutral Female Fighter 1. No relation to Simbra, she is a Cynidicean who is quite enamored of her employer.
    • Ablos-Nar*, Neutral Normal Man 0. Middle aged, but extremely confident. Again, no relation to the other Nars.

Henchmen marked with an asterisk were recruited during the last session.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

I'm very pleased that you've been able to leverage the Zaharan custom race into your own setting. An Atlantean Swordmage sounds like something I'd dig...

 

James C. Bennett
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Joined: 2012-01-17 20:17

Latest play report is up. It was a very bloody day in Cynidicea.

Session 6: In Which the Party Eliminates Three of the Cynidicean Cults, and Alienates the Fourth

James C. Bennett
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Joined: 2012-01-17 20:17

Our latest report is up.

Session 7: In Which a Threat Is Discovered and Eliminated

A lot of time was spent fixing things around town and arguing about the next move, so we didn't get as far as I'd like. Next session should be very interesting...

Fabio Milito Pa...
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Joined: 2011-07-10 16:06

great :)

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Great update! 

Your PCs are beginning to look quite beaten up. They need to get to a high-level cleric...

James C. Bennett
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Joined: 2012-01-17 20:17

They absolutely should make a trip to a city to get some healing and maybe recruit some more mercs. I keep mentioning that they can totally afford supplies and a pack animal for a trip to the surface or to one of the underground cities they have heard rumors of. Alas, they are very stubborn, and seem determined to cement their hold on the city before they leave. We'll see how that goes for them.

In other news, Thjolstoff's player - my brother - got bored at lunch yesterday and set up a Crusader Kingdoms of the Unholy Lands fan page on Facebook. The cover art he put together is pretty awesome.

James C. Bennett
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Joined: 2012-01-17 20:17

The latest session report is up. *SPOILER ALERT* Zargon lives.

Session 8: In Which Zargon Takes Seven Times Seven

James C. Bennett
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Joined: 2012-01-17 20:17

Played another session yesterday. The party lost the assassin and her sister, but gained 3 templars, 3 spearmaidens, and a one-armed zargonian. The PCs are calling themselves the Legion of the Gods Above, in reference to their ever-growing ranks.

Session 9: In Which the Legion Holds A Recruiting Drive In the Pyramid of Sabban-Ka

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

 

Thjolstoff: You know, there’s a lesson here about not interfering with systems you don’t really understand.

Milnos: We are all conservatives now

 

As an avid reader of Hayek and Burke, I found this laugh-out loud funny.

James C. Bennett
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Joined: 2012-01-17 20:17

Thought you might appreciate that one.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Econ humor + ACKS = life complete

 

James C. Bennett
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Joined: 2012-01-17 20:17

I finally got last month's session report up. We've been doing some between-session stuff via e-mail that I wanted to include.

Session 10: In Which the Legion Loots the Tomb of Sabban-Ka

James C. Bennett
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Yesterday's session report is up. The Legion has become a ruthlessly efficient dungeon crawling machine. Until they are tempted with a shiny toy.

Session 11: In Which the Legion Spins the Wheel

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Great update! 

 

"Thjolstoff says that he will pay for everyone who spins the Wheel and survives to get matching badass Wheel tattoos." - I love it.

In general, I have found that "wheels of fate" and similar items are like crack for players. Addictive and very dangerous!

"Thirleiro has been assigned 10′ pole duty, and so is ordered to try to reach through the field with it and try to snag the staff with the grappling hook tied to the end of the pole. As the hook-and-pole rig penetrates the squishy field, it begins to dissolve. Then the irritated gelatinous cube squeezes through the archway, enveloping the thief, dissolving his genitals, and rendering him unconscious." -> HILARIOUS

 

 

 

James C. Bennett
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Joined: 2012-01-17 20:17

The players who were around for the Basic D&D days were kicking themselves for falling for the gelatinous cube. It was great.

I think that putting a classic trick monster like the gelatinous cube, green slime, or rust monster, and a random weirdness generator like the Mystic Stone from B1 In Search of the Unknown in your starting dungeon is almost as essential as stocking it with the standard magic item set (sword/shield/armor, elven cloak and boots, staff of healing, and wand of paralysis). Gotta remind them what game they're playing.

James C. Bennett
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Joined: 2012-01-17 20:17

Yesterday's session report is up. Hard to believe it's been a year already.

Session 12: In Which The Legion Finally Conquers Cynidicea

James C. Bennett
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Sunday's session report is up. Turns out that a barbarian teamed with a wizard with a wand of paralysis makes for a very effective ambush.

Session 13: In Which the Legion Drives the Zargonians From Cynidicea

James C. Bennett
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Joined: 2012-01-17 20:17

The latest report is up. Hubris is beginning to take its toll. Milnos was crippled and will be out for a couple of weeks. It is the start of a new game month, which may prove especially inconvenient for the Legion if Zargon shows up to complain about the lack of sacrifices before their main wizard recovers.

Session 14: In Which the Legion Explores the Zargonian Stronghold, the Eye of Zargon, and the Galleries