Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lacuna Locurae Play Session Report 3: Death of a Hound, and the Peasants are Revolting (You can say that again!)

Last session, Lilya Jormal, daughter of Uxo Jormal, and Harris Patter, wannabe wizard, were taken prisoner by the Yamash and his (presumably) evil councilor, Sylle Ru. Their inevitable fate will be to appease the fiendish Hound of Hirot, as the Yamash hopes to make up for the missed sacrifice of the day past.

The party needs a plan. They have a (supposedly) magical artifact, a rope of corpse hair. They've been told by the witch, Ymae, that it will be able to bind the Hound, making it vulnerable to their weaponry. Also, a now-friendly Beacon Duu of the Temple of Luz has offered to bless them, though he avers that his faith is weak, these days, and he may not be up to the task. Nonetheless, they will accept his blessing and ask him to make them some holy water, just in case that might help. He gives it his best shot.

The women are taken to the standing stones to be sacrificed, and a guard is left there to ensure that no one will free them prior to the arrival of the Hound. The adventurers decide that they will wait until just before dusk, and then try to scare the guards away before the Hound arrives at the standing stones. One of them, an animal trainer by trade, makes an attempt to mimic the terrifying howl of the Hound... and rolls a natural 20. The guards run away with alacrity, the scent of fresh piss in their wakes. Then, the party arrays itself in waiting. This part of the plan takes some time, as they are trying to figure out (1) if getting on top of the stones will help; (2) if the prisoners (now chained rather than tied) should be freed or left in place--they decide to leave them in place, for some reason; (3) who will mount the animal trainers' ponies for a 'cavalry charge' against the ravening Hound; (4) how best to deploy the holy water against the Hound; and (5) where everyone should stand to wait.

Eventually they work things out, and the Hound arrives from the north, and the barrowlands. Things do not go well. Though two characters are killed outright, and one more is wounded pretty badly, they are able to, through a combination of daring-do, pony charges, and shitty rolling on the part of the Hound (by Yours Truly), bind and slay the beast, which crumbles to ash before their very eyes. They free the prisoners and gather the ashes (They might come in handy, don't ya know), but decide to camp the night among the standing stones, hoping to return to Hirot in the morning. They slay one of the character's goat for purposes of a feast, build a fire, and eventually go to sleep. The night passes without further incident.

In the morning, they return to Hirot, claiming triumph over the Hound. Hearing the hubbub, the Yamash and Sylle Ru confront them, claiming that they lie. One of the characters (can't remember his name right now), has the gift of gab, and launches into a real stemwinder of an oration, displaying their dead and wounded (Nice job waving the bloody shirt, by the way, Chris), and even showing the ashes they carry with them. The crowd is impressed, by the Yamash persists in his shit-talking. Soon though, things begin to get a bit tense.

Uxo Jormal and some of the towns craftsmen and tradesmen have had enough of the Yamash and his councilor, and have decided this is the time for a coup. Uxo tells the Yamash to go stick it. He and the "town council" can do his job just fine without him, thank you very much. The crowd is impressed, and begins to make some noise about it. The party, though, is divided on this. Rebellion against the Yamash is tantamount to rebellion against the Empire, and could draw reprisal from Magyaru (and land them in a heap of trouble).

Sensing the tide turning against him, the Yamash turns to his councilor, Sylle Ru, but the reputed sorcerer is nowhere to be found. No one saw him go, and nobody is sure where he went. The Yamash is cowed by the revolting peasants, and flees back to his longhouse. He is trailed by two characters, who want to see what he is about, and maybe to find out what Sylle Ru might be doing, as well. They find the Yamash and his bodyguard arming themselves to take by force the power that is theirs by right, but no sign of Sylle Ru, who may sense a change in the winds of fortune, and may well have fled for more pacific climes. Either way, the Yamash and his men are well-armed, own warhorses, and are pissed right the hell off.

Next time: Will the party lead the rebellion, follow the Town Council, or get the hell out of Hirot? Tune in to find out!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lacuna Locurae Play Session Report 2: Fetch me my aura stretcher!

When last we left our zero-level schlubs, they had rescued Lilya Jormal, the Innkeep's daughter and snuck her back into town. Unfortunately, their heroics would bear gruesome fruit. Later that night, The Hound would strike the town. The victims were a fisherman and his family, all of whom were slaughtered. Their home had been ripped asunder. Some members of the party decided to investigate.

When they arrived on the scene, the found Sylle Ru, the Yamash's councilor already at work, attempting to discover more about the beast. Harris (the aspiring apprentice wizard, hereafter knows as "Harris Patter") decided she would seek wisdom from him. She inquired what he was about. He answered her gruffly, asking her who she was, and why she wanted to know. She volunteered her name, and desire to be a wizard. He seemed unimpressed. So, she continued to pester him. Soon, her incessant questioning annoyed him past all endurance. "You want something to do, then?" he asked. "Fetch me my aura stretcher!"

Harris, not knowing much about magic, and never having worked in the construction trades, did not realize that he had sent her on a wild goose chase. [Authorial aside: Similar to when I was asked, by one of the carpenters on a construction job, to fetch a "joist stretcher" from my uncle. My uncle, upon hearing my question, fetched a toilet plunger, attached an electrical junction box to it, and told me to, "Tell him I said to shove this up his ass."] In any case, she soon realized the ruse, but returned to find the councilor gone. However, she would not be forgotten, oh no...

Other members of the party, though, sought out the witch, Ymae. They arrived at her squalid hut to find an old woman weaving golden thread from the flames of her cooking fire. Surely she must be quite powerful, both to accomplish such a feat and to avoid the wrath of the Temple of Luz (which abhors sorcery and witchcraft). After speaking to Ymae for a bit, she offered that she might have a way to make the Hound vulnerable to mortal weaponry, but there would be a price: One of the characters would have to marry her. After some discussion, someone agreed to do it. She rewarded them with a rope made of corpse hair, all magicked up good, and (supposedly) what they needed to get the job done.

About this time, the Yamash, Sylle Ru, and the Yamash's body guard descended on the town square. Clearly, the Hound had taken its revenge on Hirot the night before, leading Sylle Ru to proclaim that the sacrifices had not been accepted for some reason. Investigation led to the truth of the matter. It would seem that, in the absence of the PCs, Lilya's presence in the inn had been discovered. So, her life would remain forfeit. Even worse, another sacrifice would be selected in the lottery. If there was any doubt whatsoever, at this point, that the lottery was rigged, it was dispelled. The Yamash selected a name (among which were all of the party's names). "Harris Potter!" he proclaimed, and Sylle Ru smiled nastily at the lass. Lilya and Harris were quickly corralled and led away until such time as they would be taken to the standing stones.

Also, in an act of kindness seemingly uncharacteristic of him, the priest, Beacon Duu, of the Temple of Luz, attempted to provide comfort to the party. He believes the Yamash's councilor to be a sorcerer, and wicked through-and-through, but feels powerless to gainsay him, lest the Yamash decide to dispense with him and his acolytes. Clearly, there are faultlines in the power structure of the town of Hirot.

Can the PCs rescue Harris? Will they be able to slay the Hound? Can they get to the bottom of Sylle Ru's fiendish plot? Tune in next time to find out.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Lacuna Locurae Play Session Report 1: Shipwrecked on Magyaru, and Problems with Very Bad Doggies

My apologies for the long absence. Writing deadlines, wives with broken arms, day job, etc., have conspired to limit my time and energy. I've decided to get back into the swing of things by posting some reports of the sessions I've been running in my Lacuna Locurae setting, as part of the DCC RPG World Tour.

I've been running some DCC RPG World Tour sessions (three so far) on my campus, for members of our student gaming club, and others who are interested. It's been pretty great. I'm starting them off with a zero-level funnel version of Doom of the Savage Kings, with some of the encounters nerfed just a little bit. Though, as you shall see, this probably wasn't all that necessary.

I've had a fluctuating group of players. We game on Friday afternoons, but sometimes people can't make it, or show up a bit late, so we end up with somewhere between 4 and 7 players on any given day. Most of the players are veterans of various flavors of D&D and/or Pathfinder, so they know what they're doing. One even has played DCC with me before. They're playing smart, and they're very, very careful. So much so, that I sometimes have to force a decision by providing artificial time constraints on planning, if the planning takes too much time.

Here's what's happened so far.

Our party consisted of those whose lives had led them to leave the Great Empire--third sons and daughters, indentured servants, slaves, fortune-seekers, and whatnot. The were en route to Magyaru, a colonial port of the Empire. The Great Empire is, culturally, a bit like the Ottoman Empire and the British Empire, put in a blender. The native folk of the island are modeled on the Picts and Gaels of R. E. Howard's stories. So, in essence, I'm trying to mash up something like the Roman experience in Britain with the settlement of Colonial America.

The port city of Magyaru is on the southern coast of an island roughly the size of Texas. The island itself is a single, gigantic mountain, bigger than Everest by a long shot. Parts of it extend out into the surrounding sea, and manifest as various island chains, fertile fishing grounds for both honest fisherman and ruthless pirates. The island is home to savage tribes of pale-skinned, fair-haired folk. They tend to keep clear of the colonials, but there have been incidents. There will be more. I've also placed Magyaru and some of the surrounding settlements in the midst of ancient ruins and barrowlands. This could be consequential, later.

The party's ship ended up running aground on a reef when it got lost in the fog. The survivors made landfall about 80 miles west of Magyaru. The crew died in the wreck, and all record of the nature of the ship's passengers was lost. With no records of identity, indenture, or bondage, all of them are now free colonists. They need merely assume whatever identities please them, and start with a clean slate.

One passenger died as he jumped from the ship (fumbled), and broke his neck on the rocks. The rest made it to shore and found that the coastal road was not too far inland. They made camp and rested the night. When they reached the road the next morning, they spotted a native, who ran away from them. Two of the players decided to pursue him, but instead encountered a sounder of wild pigs. The boar managed to kill two zeroes before they killed it. They left the bodies and hauled away the fresh pork.

After walking the rest of the day, they found themselves on the outside of a fishing village, Hirot. Just outside of town, they stumbled upon a group of townsfolk leading a young woman to be sacrificed at a group of ancient standing stones. They didn't announce themselves, but watched and waited for a bit. After a while they approached and found out that the sacrifice was intended to appease some kind of demonic hound. The Yamash (a title for the ruler of this town) and his advisor (Sylle Ru) had concocted a scheme whereby sacrifices would be made. This time, it would be the innkeeper's only daughter, Lilya. Her father, Uxo, had gotten on the wrong side of them, it seems, and this was their revenge.

The source of conflict, as the players would find out later, was contention over governance of Hirot. The appointed rulers, the Yamash and his bodyguard of noble warriors, had come into conflict with the town's notable men of affairs. This tension between the old nobility and the rising merchant class will be a source of constant tension in this setting.

In any case, the party freed the girl and disguised her with a hooded cloak. They entered the town and made friends with her father, while she hid upstairs in her family's lodgings.

Later that night, the Hound of Hirot returned. Not finding a sacrifice to appease it, the beast leaped over the wall and ripped its way into a house. After eviscerating a family of five, it returned from whence it came.

Next Installment: The Day After