The Diamond Spider Tavern is a rowdy unsavoury public house that is sandwiched in at the end of the street just before the gateway to the theatrical plaza. As the emissary passed by the window he heard rythmic loud chanting and, thinking erroneously that this was some kind of local religious ceremony he entered the holy house. The skinny sallow eyed hirinian dwarf eyed the newcomer and saw – a massive opportunity in the shape of a bizarrely attired idiot. He has a hat shaped like a boat on sideways with tassles and robes that swept to the pissed-stained floor. Clearly he was one of those ‘furriners’ or out of towners. Putting all that aside what he was to the dwarf was a potential grand distraction. How long could you stand in the cut-throat Diamond Spider Tavern looking like that before you got assaulted?
The dwarves question was answered a few moments later when one of the drunken patrons accosted the stranger and demanded to know who the hell he was and why he was dressed like a carpet merchant in a wagon accident. The stranger jiggled his face-mask (face mask!) and waved his hand nonchantly. The height of arrogance. He was about to get belted by the ferret-like patron when the aforementioned slipped on some piss and the stranger sashayed past to a vantage point near the toilets.
Thoughts crammed furiously into the dwarf’s brain like gold pieces into a stuffed purse. He picked through them. All around him a seething mass of baying idiots who were betting on whether or not the over-perfumed, plumed hatted noble could manage another draft of the killer opiate-laced brew the landlord was serving up. There was a lot of money riding on this and the hirinian was keen to relieve the soon to be comatose drinker of what he thought was his purse that he’d shoved clumsily down his massive leather gloves a while earlier. Difficulty was – this was a thieves-guild pub and he was an unlicensed thief. Penalties against unlicensed thieves tended to be, umm, fatal. Still – now he had the massive distraction about to happen in the shape of this feckless idiot in the daft hat.
Sure enough, as the noble started to keel over and all hell broke loose a lot of attention was on the stranger and the seething mob, and less of it – well hopefully none of it was on him “helping” the unconscious stranger for a few moments. He stuffed the whole caboodle – his right glove into his tunic and was slightly alarmed at how massive and heavy it was, but then also excited that it might mean that he had enough money not to go hungry next month. There was only so much begging for jobs at Smithies in the Foul Quarters that he could take. ‘Sakes he even applied for a job at the Tannery and that was taking the piss. Him, a leather-worker!? Unheard of, and so demeaning.
He exited as a fight started to break out and ended up in the alleyway next to the ridiculousy garbed stranger who seemed – vacant. He’d got out at the same time, apparently not so insane as to hang about in the Tavern as skulls were crushed. Also, there was the small matter of the fat noble getting stabbed by someone and the fact he hadn’t paid the landlord’s bar bill for all the lethal cocktails he’d been chugging. What the hirinian needed was somewhere to lie low. Then he realised the walking carpet was trying to talk to him. ‘Sakes he could barely speak the common tongue. In fact, no, he was using the high-language intermixed with common. It was a travesty to language.
In the end he dragged the stranger out of the flickering lamp-light, down the alley and towards the theatre. That’s the kind of place this chap probably would go unnoticed anyway and it was a good place to hide. Difficulty was the idiot was refusing to move staring at the shop just next to the Diamond Spider. It was one of those “Magic Emporium’s”. Now he was ringing the feckin’ bell! The dwarf panicked – this was no way to get out of a bad situation to go ringing shop bells. He fumbled inside the glove and realised that it contained a gauntlet inside – some money, no wait a massive fecking coin with a green sort of gem stone in the middle. He spied it for a minute and realised it was worth a bundle. He couldn’t get the massive coin in his purse so he started to look for somewhere to hide this shit. He was interrupted by the shopkeeper blearily opening his door as the last peal of the bell faded into silence. The noise of a Troll in the street adjacent relieving itself against the wall took its place. The shopkeeper, in his jim-jams holding aloft a lamp, blinked and cried “Emissary!! What on Nehwon are you doing here? Oh no! It can’t be! Sir, Sir you must come up”. They were both bundled in by the man who was jabbering and distraught. The Hirinian couldn’t figure out why he was so beside himself.
Later it all became clear. The Emporium Owner, Abdool, explained that this idiot was a Foreign Ambassador from his homeland and he was able to translate. ‘Sakes it was a long drawn out affair, the man kept on insisting on reading long scrolls and waving his arms. Protocol or something or other. He was starting to think it was all going to go well and they could just rob the shopkeeper and get the hell out of his magic shop when the conversation took a nasty turn. It was the ‘Gluditch’ or the coin they’d taken from the noble in the bar-fight. Abdool was incensed when he saw it. He told the dwarf that this was worth half the kingdom and if the Overlord found out he’d got it then, well, they were curtains. Abdool was even more besides himself – half crazy with fear and insisting that the pair of them get out of his shop and never darken his door again. But, he was a native of the Emissaries homeland and this obligated him to help. So, boggling at the contents of the emporium the dwarf found himself being given a ring to put on and Abdool seemed to threaten him with dark magic if he didn’t. so he did. The fool ‘Hew’ was given a small phial of healing/harming potion. Next they were bundled out of a secret door and made to sneak to the College-Temple of Putrexia.
Abdool explained someone owed him a favour. They could hide in the temple-college and be their new ‘Night Security’ team. Then he could figure a way to get them out of the town and to safety, or get help from the Emissaries Embassy – he wasn’t quite sure how. In return they owed him, Abdool, big time. At one point they couldn’t figure how to get over the main college avenue without being spotted. There was one of McKinley’s Night Hearses on the street and other passersby making their sweet lazy way down that big ol’ stretch of cobbled avenue. They just had to get to that guard’s outpost in the wall of the college-temple without being spotted. They needed a diversion. So, the dwarf cranked up his crossbow and after sorting out all the nobs and whistles on it he had a crack at shooting the hearse. He’d planned on just winging the hearse itself but it turned out to be something of an awful shot. A gust of wind caught the padded-safety quarrel he was using to make a big thump, and it ended up taking the driver’s hat off. The petrified Hearse-Man shouted “Alarum Alarum! Call the Watch! I’m being attacked!” as he cowered under the hearse’s horse. The horse didn’t care much for this and reared up nearly killing the driver. In the furore, they scampered over the road. Well, all but that idiot Emissary who just strolled across, oblivious to the urgency. Some tense negotiations later and they found themselves bedecked in College-Temple robes, undertaking their first Night-Patrol with the shouts of the Under-Sargeant ringing in their ears. As far as the Hirinian was concerned, this was a very peculiar development, but one not without profit. At least the feckin coin thing was safe in the guard locker he’d been given. He had a job. He had some food inside him. Ok he had this idiot to deal with and the threat of death, but that wasn’t much of burden given his situation lately. Thing was: could he bear to be in such a run down foul shit hole of a place as Putrexia’s College-Temple with this idiot for the next 24 hours? And was it alright if he fixed all those wonky light-fittings as they were driving him INSANE?
Yes in an unexpected turn of events we have returned. I have a group emerging here in Yorkshire. So Group 3 is afoot. This means – more Hydra work, more summaries of games, more silliness, more gaming, dice-rolling, bluffing, blagging, OM-like Dm’ing and pictures. I know you can’t believe it but this is a resurrection. Hopefully I can get players from Group 2 to skype in and join in. First game of the new campaign: Next Monday!!! Get in! Rather excited. Right as you were – you stop sleeping at the back there – yes he’s started again!
A Tease Shot of A New Character for the Third Wave of Hydra Playtesting.
No really, there is nothing to see here. I have unfortunately fallen off the role playing wagon having moved from Brighton to Leeds last year. I don’t seem to have found any roleplaying type buddies around in this area of Yorkshire. Are there no such types? Is Yorkshire a no – roleplay zone? I hope not. More updates when I have them. I need a RPG group to keep developing Fusion!
Just an update – as you may have notice progress has slowed to a veritable crawl lately. That’s mostly because real life(tm) has intervened brutally to curtail my RPG activities. I can’t see it taking a turn for the better soon either. I am about to move several 100 miles north to Leeds to take up a new job at Bradford University and as a result I’m sad to say the play-testing group aren’t allowed to sneak in our suitcases and come with us. Sorry chaps. I did ask but was told no. However there certainly has been enough playtesting to support writing up the mashed rpg as it stands. Which of course I am doing but at a very slow pace – somewhat akin to a wounded snail trapped on an island of salt. Oooch – strained a metaphor too far there – my apologies for the discomfort caused.
So please bear with us as we slowly eak some kind of productivity into being, and get another group going at some point. Anybody in Leeds want to help with a RPG? Please apply within.
Terrorists Attack the Plaza District: An Early Game Scenario for Lankhmar and the Hydra FRPG System.
Adaptation/Editorial Notes – Suggestions for Adapting this Scenario for your Campaign.
This scenario is adapted from a City of Greyhawk 2nd Edition AD&D scenario suggestion from the old 1989 box set. I’ve tweaked it to fit more into the Lankhmar setting – although it didn’t need to much for this as it is a city-based scenario and for the Hydra system. We have a liberal approach to the world in which Lankhmar is set (Nehwhon) and Lankhmar as well, so if your Lankhmar campaign is closer to the Lieber canon you may want to tighten things up more in terms of the priest/god aspects and the use of non-human species in the game. This scenario is intended as an early starter – or even a first scenario to introduce characters to each other. So in terms of conversion it should be a relatively low danger/threat to a party that co-operates, prepares and acts sensibly. If the party fails to act constructively or cautiously in the scenario then they should find that they are in plenty of hot water as a result. The Hydra Playtest Campaign Session Journal, Episodes 1 – 9, give you an implementation of this scenario albeit significantly padded and paced out with other plot-hooks and sub-plots and spread over 9 1.5hr-2hr gaming sessions. Stripping out the plot-padding and with a committed party, this scenario could be run completely in about two 4hr sessions. Feel free to adapt and modify the scenario to fit into your setting – it is presented therefore with alternative possibilities to allow for ready adaption by a DM to the campaign setting and party configuration.
Back Drop Rationale of the Scenario
A disgruntled extremist priest, Heironymous Spune, of the Cult of the Beasts has returned after a decade of exile to Lankhmar. Years of exile in the wilderness and bitterness has maddened the priest, and close communion with the magical forces that surround the legendary Beastmaster has not helped either. Spune has amassed a small terrorist force of enslaved Grungh. These are a race of sentient shape-shifting Bears and he has magically trapped and enslaved them to do his bidding with his ring of Beast Control – a rare item forged in antiquity by the Beastmaster Wizard Orton. He has smuggled his terrorist force back into the city via the sewage system and in covered wagons over time, and has taken up residence in the abandoned Old Park Bathhouse in the neighbouring quarter. He has then initiated an increasing war of terror on immigrants and ‘heretic religions’. He has also set about destabilising the southern districts by attacking its commerce. In time he plans to hold the district to ransom with demands for a new temple of the Beast to be erected in the city as recompense for its excommunication.
The party learn about the terrorist attacks in the southern quarters of the city of Lankhmar through the grapevine. It starts becoming newsworthy in Lankhmar when there are several deaths in the Glipkero Street area. Spune then orders his Grungh Were-Bear slaves to start attacking local businesses he blames as contributing to his temple’s downfall. Local flour magnate Pilsbury (aka The Dough Lord) is hit hardest. He will also order attacks on smaller Temples/Churches in the area. When there are gaps in the player’s investigations have news of another attack reach them and allow them choices to investigate the sites of the attack. They will have to negotiate/get round the local city guard – but as times goes on and if the terrorists are not apprehended then the militia are more likely to allow independant adventuring activity to investigate. They will turn a blind eye for a suitably socially empowered individual or if a sufficient bribe is presented appropriately. The attacks happen initially under cover of darkness (hiding the non-human identity of the attackers), and using guerilla hit and run tactics. For a lengthy period there are no meaningful eye-witness accounts, just the aftermath of the attacks. Initial reports are fragmented, and because the terrorists are non-human treated with skeptism and disbelief – hence people are relatively reluctant to come forward until first hand evidence (i.e. a body of a Grungh terrorist) is in the hands of the authorities.
Ways to Start Off the Scenario
When Pilsbury is attacked he will approach the party in desperation to do something about the attacks. He offers resources and funds. It is also clear to the party that he doesn’t tolerate failure and will go beyond the confines of the law to punish those who don’t do his bidding. You can illustrate this by having him punish a guard or employee in plain sight of the player characters for some minor failureor other. In this way the party have a more challenging relationship with their benefactor/employer. Add into this a reward set up later if the attacks continue unchecked by the Overlord of Lankhmar in recognition of the failure of his city-guard. For a starting party this is an opportunity to earn big. Alternatively the DM could entice the party into action by having a minor relative assaulted/surviving an attack and acting as a witness. If the party is in relatively poor financial straits then the rumour of a reward may be enough to get them investigating the attacks.
Starting points are to investigate the remains of Pilsbury’s burned out warehouse. Following this the party can investigate an attacked temple and other sites if they are slow in locating the hideout of the terrorists. Have two Grungh in hiding at the warehouse. They have started to break free of Spune’s enchantment, but are still not capable of independent action. They will fight tooth and claw to defend themselves if attacked – they are more animalistic then human in their behaviour. Individually the Grungh are fearsome and superhuman, but they are not able to readily co-operate as a fighting force and therefore tactical combat by a party can overpower the Grungh. Grungh can also be powered down by making them diseased, or labouring under the sway of the magical ring wielded by Spune. This could slow the creatures down at random points as the ring exerts its magical force and Spune communicates commands to the Grungh. At a distance away from Spune the ring’s commanding effects could be weaker and the Grungh be more animalistic and less intelligent in their activities. For pathos you could have a Grungh change back to human shape if the effects of the ring completely wear off and come to its senses – this could be a dramatic twist in the narrative as the PC’s realise that these are not dumb beasts after all but enslaved into this situation. It is also possible that it may not be relevant or pertinent to the development of the shared story to reveal this angle of the plot and it may be more expedient not to expose this.
Supporting Developing Parties into Co-Operative Play
If you have a novice group and PC’s who are not well knitted together, then nurturing co-operative play, preparation and caution amongst the party participants should be the DM’s priority. (See the Campaign Journal Sessions 1-9 to see a treatment of the scenario where munificent NPC’s – The Hag of the Blue Moon, the Troll Riffkin, the Alchemist Silver, Moolsh the Thief-Spy etc befriend and support the party). Through advice and services (e.g. healing potions, poisons) that cost money or services in return the company and player learn to prepare and support each other for the party objectives over and above their own character’s objectives. If not then party members will be lost unnecessarily. Even so a sense of danger is important and even with a well equipped co-operative party a party member may be lost through bad luck, poor choices or circumstance. Don’t be too nice to PC’s who should feel that they are taxed and challenged by the scenario situations at times – it’s adventure, and that doesn’t always work out peachy and easily.
Developing the Scenario
Reward good detective work and careful, successful exploration with clues as to the identity of the terrorists. As the party follow the trail and explore sites, interview eye-witnesses, it becomes more and more likely that they will run into the Grungh. Either because they manage to follow their trail, or because the Grungh will ‘get wind’ that they are being pursued and will be sent by Spume to ‘eliminate these trouble-makers’. An ambush by Grungh on the party will happen typically late at night, in a quiet area of the city if possible. It will be scary and ferocious, but lack cohesion and be poorly coordinated. A well prepped beginning party should be able to work together to ward off the Grungh who will become dispirited and rout when 2/3rd of their number are injured/killed by the party. Some will fight to the death and it’s down to the DM to roll relevant reactions/decide on the intent and ferociousness of the Grungh when playing them.
Should things lag a helpful NPC could approach the party and act as an informant, telling them that the Grungh were seen in the vicinity of the Park. They could lead the company of adventurers to the disused Bathhouse and hence set up the final confrontation. If the party has done well in fighting off the Grungh prior to the final showdown, reduce the numbers of terrorists accordingly. Have them still nursing injuries should some of the Grungh escaped death at the hands of the party. Spune is not terribly compassionate about his enslaved minions and won’t trouble himself to have them healed or first aided. He is more concerned about them being able to wreak havok upon the world at large and his hated enemies – which grows and grows as his rage and religious mania continues. Spune however won’t care to be caught or killed by the company and would rather have his magically enslaved terrorists cop the brunt of their brute force and will do anything he can to escape. He has a small array of well-learned and practised spells, but since the demise of his followers and brethren he is not the powerful Mage Priest of the Frog God as he used to be. He is particularly fond of Invisibility, and is nearly Superb at its execution and is also skilled at using Darkwall and Windwall. He uses these spell abilities to best advantage to make good his escape, not necessarily to cause harm to the party or to benefit his followers.
If possible try and keep Spune alive at the end of the scenario so that he can potentially reappear in some guise later on down the line and attempt revenge upon the party. In this way you can have an ongoing enemy of the party. Spune of course will need to recuperate and recover from his losses, so the party could hear about his exploits from time to time and learn about his recovery and potential return. Check out the journal sessions to see how this relatively straightforward scenario was extended and interweaved with other plot-elements and story-hooks.
Just to say that because we’ve just had our baby Daughter, Ruby Mae, things are naturally going to be a bit slow on the RPG blog front for a while. Don’t forget about Hydra though as once things have settled and I’ve learned how to deal with the sleep deprivation, we will return with ongoing game development of this Fusion roleplaying game. There are two RPG session entries waiting in the wings (one half written and in editing, and another hot on its heels). Plus I have nearly finished an overview of the the Hydra Playtest Entry Scenario that was used for the main playtesting sessions (Session’s 1-9).
In the meantime meet the newest roleplayer in my team. She may need some help with characterization, unless you needed cute and baby :)