Group 1 – Bandits, Bandits, Everywhere!

Our game begins with a little downtime management and some unexpected correspondence for a few of the players. Katie receives delivery of a letter from home, her aunt and uncle relaying recent news and the fact that they still haven’t found the lost family cat. Innocuous enough stuff it seems. Skar on the other hand finds a less friendly letter tucked into his pillow upon awakening one morning. How did someone manage to get that in there without him noticing? The letter appears to be from the Thieves Guild back home, and they have noticed his recent departure from the city despite the debt still owed to them for getting him cleared of a murder charge. He is instructed to make contact with a member of the guild in Restov by the end of the month to settle his “tax”. At first he hides the letter, but he later shows it to the party, unsure of what to do.

The group sets out for more exploration, covering a lot of ground and running into some encounters with giant trapdoor spiders, kobolds in a patch of moon radishes, and finally an ambush set up by some enterprising bandits. All challenges are vanquished and the party manages to extract information from one of the ambush bandits about the location of their encampment. The group heads back to the trading post to rest up before striking out for the camp, determined to put an end to the bandit menace. They also manage to collect the bounty on the bandits and the moon radishes before they leave, helping to fatten their purses.

Without too much trouble they find the camp and Skar attempts to slip quietly into the perimeter to do a bit of scouting. Unfortunately for him there are bandits on watch, and his stealth proves compromised when he steps on a large branch, sending a loud snap through the area and alerting the guards. Mayhem ensues and several arrows strike the rogue down almost immediately. The party counters with an attack of their own consisting of a well placed entangle spell by Neek and a very effective sleep spell launched by Katie. Needless to say the party makes very short work of what would have been a challenging encounter. The spoils are gathered and more information is obtained from a captured archer who agrees to throw in with the party in exchange for regular pay.

The group once again returns to Oleg’s, laden with loot and having successfully struck the first real blow against the bandit forces in the Greenbelt.

Plans are made to head to Restov to see about getting Skar out of his obligation with the guild. And that is where we pick up next week!


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Group 1 – To Boldly Go…

Charter

Our first game finds the characters meeting at Oleg’s Trading Post for the first time. The party make-up is; Skar – a rogue with a taste for gold and the finer things in life, Neek – A druid with a haunted past, Baag – Chevalier of the Order of the Lion, looking to make a name for himself and to protect the innocent, Katie – A somewhat odd looking “human” midwife who is looking to earn some coin and help those she can, and Luther – A quiet swordsman who lets his blade speak on his behalf.

Once they arrive at the trading post, and introductions are made, they are greeted by Oleg and his wife Svetlana who inform the party that they have been set upon by bandits recently and their trade goods are being stolen. The party agrees to help the Levetons and sets up an ambush inside the walls of the trading post the next morning, when the bandits are due to arrive. Not long before sunrise the keen eyes of Skar spot a number of men approaching on horseback. The group of men slowly approaches the post and halt their horses about 100 yards out, calling to Oleg to open the gates. After some delay, and questioning looks between the party of adventurers inside, the bandits call out again, this time threatening to toss fire inside the walls to speed up the merchant. The party agrees and motions for Oleg to raise the gate.

Seeing the gate open, the bandits ride into the structure, only to be surprised by the party. The adventurers fire off a volley of surprise shots, but not a single missile strikes true, and combat is joined. Four bandits ride into the trading post while two remain outside, attempting to pin down the archers posted on the ramparts and walkways. Skar takes an arrow to the chest and nearly drops from the force of the blow. Luther, not one to miss out on the chance to wet his blade, leaps over the wall and lands on the ground below, outside of the trading post walls. He moves quickly to a horse and engages the rider with a series of thrusts of his Aldori dueling sword. Katie, having realized that shooting a crossbow was not really her calling, chants a few arcane words and watches in approval as three of the bandits inside the post slump in their saddles, sound asleep. Baag and Neek quickly join Luther and attack the bandit leader, dropping him to the dirt and causing the remaining two bandits to spur their mounts and flee the fight. No one gives chase, and the surviving bandits disappear over the horizon.

In the aftermath the group ties up the three sleeping bandits quickly and begin to question them once they awaken. Finding a silver medallion with a stag’s head stamped onto the front the group, after pressing the point with threats, finds out that the bandits work for someone called the Stag Lord, a man who controls all of the bandit activity in the Greenbelt. The group also learns that his keep his to the south, near the Tuskwater, and make a mental note of this fact. They then proceed to press the bandits into service, giving them the option of working for pay or hanging from a rope until they are dead. Combining the smooth talking of Baag and the intimidating presence of Luther the bandits are quick to agree to service, and are put to work immediately. Considering the party offered to pay them more than they would ever make on their own, it was a winning deal for everyone.

The party spends a couple of days at the trading post, resting up from their encounter and waiting to see if any additional bandits show up. On the third day they decide to head out into the Greenbelt and do a bit of exploring. During their first foray they stumble upon a group of wild boar that give them a fairly impressive fight, nearly maiming the horse that Baag rides and knocking Skar unconscious. They win out in the end however, and happily live on fresh bacon for the next two days as their mapping draws to a close and they return once again to the trading post.

Upon their return to the post they find a group of soldiers has arrived from Restov, led by a man named Kesten Garess. Baag recognizes the name as a minor member of the noble House Garess who recently fell from grace due to an affair with a low-born woman. Kesten decided to leave the city and take his chances as a mercenary. Kesten meets with the group for a quick word and confirms that he and his men are to garrison the trading post on behalf of Restov, which helps take some of the feeling of responsibility away from the party.

The next morning yet another traveler appears on the horizon, slowly making his way towards the trading post. Once he arrives the man introduces himself as Jhod, a priest of Erastil on a pilgrimage to offer his aid to those doing the good work by helping tame the savage and lawless lands of the Greenbelt. He goes on to ask the party a favor, claiming that he has heard rumors of an abandoned temple to Erastil somewhere to the south. The temple is said to be guarded by a strange giant bear, who keeps anyone from going to close to the ruins. He asks the party to slay the beast, secure the ruin, and then to escort him there so he can return the site to its former glory. If they agree to this and succeed his spell casting services will be provided to the party free of charge for life.

After resting a few days the party sets out again, more exploration to the east their main goal. On the second day they encounter a house in the middle of the rolling plains of the northern Greenbelt and meet the owner, the alchemist Bokken. They quickly determine the man is somewhat unstable, but it is unclear if the revelation is due to their brief conversation with him or the fact that he greets them as naked as the day he was born, a torn and smoking piece of paper in one hand, and a broken potion bottle in the other. Needless to say, their stay at his home is brief, but they don’t get away before agreeing to bring him back as many fangberries as they can find, not bruising them along the way mind you!

The group spends the next several days mapping out more of the Greenbelt, and only encountering a small herd of elk along the way. After about five days they return to the trading post, looking to quickly rest and restock their supplies before heading out again…


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Five Adventurers Met at an Inn…

And so it begins. I’ve been wanting to run Kingmaker for the longest time, as I feel the setting and Adventure Path have insane amounts of potential. However, I wanted to run it a bit differently than most, having seen the type of railroading that most APs suffer from that can leave the game-play a bit stale after several months. I’m currently running a Reign of Winter AP for a group of gamers I met online, and while the game itself is generally a lot of fun, the constant sense of “Forward, Forward, Forward!” can leave you wanting for a moment to catch your breath! So this time around I’ve decided to take a different approach to the game, and treat it more like the tabletop days of old. Rather than be the instrument of forward motion, I am merely the adjudicator, a bystander filling in the blanks as the party rushes forward to certain death!

My plans are to run this game for two groups currently. The first, who started out this weekend, is mostly composed of newer players. My wife, Holly, started playing Pathfinder about a year or so ago, and is still fairly new to the idea of a campaign-style home game. She has played a good amount of Pathfinder Society so the mechanics knowledge is there. This time around though she will be thrust into a lot more role-playing situations that aren’t always within her wheelhouse. This could make for some interesting times at the table to be sure. The next players are Stacey, Jake, and Nick. Stacey is a former co-worker of mine and Nick and Jake are his two sons. They have played plenty of Pathfinder, but the role-playing thing will be a new experience for them as well. They are typically the “kill first, ask questions later” kind of players, so playing in a game with lasting repercussions for actions will definitely be a switch for them. The last player is Adam, my real life best friend of 20 years. He’s an older school gamer, so this will be a flashback for him. However, he hasn’t done much in the way of gaming for over 15 years, so he’s the true newbie at the table when it comes to mechanics.

The second group will be composed of the online group that is currently running through Reign of Winter. This group includes several writers and board game designers, along with a retired teacher, so the potential for some really interesting games is definitely there. My good friend JP, who recently moved away, has a commanding knowledge of the game and is a stellar role-player to boot. I am on pins and needles to see what he and the rest of the group manage to cook up in terms of character ideas. In a game with this much opened ended potential the sky is the limit, and I am counting on them making the virtual table a very interesting one indeed!

So that’s the plan in a nutshell. I’m hoping to use this blog to share my thoughts, experiences, and tales from what I feel will be an excellent pair of campaigns. And who knows where they might lead? We could be invading Absolom before it all wraps up!


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