23 Feb

The Lonely Coast Campaign – Brea’s Garden Part 2 (Session 5)

When we last left our heroes, they had been “rescued” by the Fey Queen, Danu, who put them ashore on an island that they soon realized was Brea’s Garden from old Cesvani legend. Their early exploration of the island showed that something strange was going on. A hag had somehow interrupted the “proper” transfer of power from the island’s sleeping Lord and Lady to their mortal avatars and had gained much of that power herself. She had corrupted some of the island’s fey and the party had been attacked twice already. Some of the fey, however, were only bound to their particular areas of the island and not yet corrupted. These fey had provided bits information and had asked favors in exchange. The party was deciding if they should take on another task to gain the favor of another faction of the island’s fey as we ended the last session.

Spoiler Alert: This session is heavily influenced and based on the adventure Beyond the Crystal Cave, both the original (UK1) for AD&D and the 4e version which was part of the D&D Encounters series. I’m going to depart from my normal format to say a few things about this before diving into the session recap.

Once I had hit upon this as one potential “out” for the party from being stranded way out at sea (yes, there were other options that would have happened if they had declined Danu’s offer…who’s to say if they would have been better or not), I decided to use the 4e version as the primary inspiration. So far, with 5e, I have used modules from all prior editions of D&D in this and our Side Quest campaigns except for 4e. So far, all of the “conversions” have pretty much been on the fly and have been relatively painless for me. So I was curious about 4e’s convertibility.

Mechanically, I don’t think the conversion is a big deal. Instead, what has really jumped out at me is the structure of the adventure particularly in comparison to the original UK1 version. The structure of the 4e version is, essentially, a series of scripted encounters while the original was much more open. There is, for example, no overall map of the area covered in the adventure for the 4e version; instead, only encounter maps. The original is pretty much the opposite with an overall map but not many encounter maps.

This, of course, isn’t an indictment of 4e…there are LOTS of published D&D adventures that are highly scripted (adventure paths anyone?). The difference is just how blatantly scripted the 4e version of Beyond the Crystal Cave is in comparison to its predecessor and I’m finding that to be rather jarring. Perhaps it is a result of it being a D&D Encounters adventure and I probably should have considered that before I started using it. Regardless, I’ve found it difficult to run because it is largely a scripted plot rather than a situation. I’m sure I’d have just as much difficulty with an Adventure Path.

It has been so long that I had kind of forgotten how much the adventures I ran back with 3.5 and 4e both needed to be prepared or strongly scripted…at least for me…to run relatively effectively. Despite running 4e for a year and 3.5 for a number of years, I never ever really got comfortable running things on the fly in those games. I’ve largely lost interest in overly scripted games. 5e, and I guess this is the point of all this, has been really easy to run in a non-scripted fashion. I probably should have given the 4e version of Beyond the Crystal Cave a closer look before committed to using it (even if it was just a committment to myself).

Oh well…in for a penny in for a pound, right? We pick up with our heroes, particularly Isenthorne, deciding if it is worth engaging in carnal activity with a satyr to gain favor with his lord, take on a different task offered by the satyr to gain his lord’s favor, or to simply carry on with other tasks on their to do list. So, obviously, I’ve departed from the script a bit…the encounter with the satyr in the adventure certainly doesn’t include one of the PCs being pimped out by the rest of the group. 😉

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16 Feb

The Lonely Coast Campaign – Brea’s Garden (Session 4)

When we last left our heroes, they had barely survived a near mutiny by the crew of the Nydam and an attack by a ghost ship. The heroes plus two of the sailors and a prisoner, Wineric, who was being transported to Wolverton had launched a landing boat and piled in before the Nydam and the Sea Maiden, both hopelessly entangled, were sucked down into some whirlpool vortex. The sea was calm, a cool breeze was blowing, and the sun was shining…all very pleasant except they were probably days from land and had no water and little food in an overloaded boat taking on water. That’s where we pick up after the break.

Thomas had to miss this session and so Muse played Thalimor in his absence. Spoiler Alert: This session was inspired and partially taken from both the original classic UK1 Beyond the Crystal Cave and the more recent 4e version plus, of course, my modifications and additions. It was also Valentine’s Day and so it seemed appropriate to have a bit of a love story element as well.

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09 Feb

The Lonely Coast Campaign – Intro Session 3

At the end of our last session, our heroes were in somewhat desperate straights. The ship they had been taking passage upon, the Nydam, had become becalmed in a thick fog and its captain, Frithgar, had died. Various accusations had been flung back and forth between various members of the crew and the Frithgar’s other guest, Selewulf his lover and fiancée. The crew’s mood was pretty gloomy and dark with many wanting to throw Selewulf overboard. Hereric the First Mate had taken command of the ship but others were planning mutiny and were looking to get the heroes to side with them. All of this was interrupted by the sight of another ship drifting nearby the Nydam; a ship that looked abandoned. The heroes were “ordered” to go over and investigate and they just had finished some of their preliminary investigations and that is where we pick up this session below the break.

Muse had to miss this session and so RJ played Osric for her. Muse had randomly picked who would play Osric at the end of the last session. I wonder if she’ll do that again after she learns what happened this session.

Spoiler Alert: A good portion of this session (as well as the prior) was based on and inspired by Atlas Games’ adventure, Maiden Voyage.

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05 Feb

The Lonely Coast Campaign – Intro Sesssion 2

In our last session, we began our new Lonely Coast campaign. The player characters had come together and all found employment upon the Nydam, a ship bound for Wolverton. They settled into their cabin and started their duties as guards aboard the ship with the crew obviously not being happy with their presence. In addition to the crew and captain, two other “passengers” were aboard as well. One was the captain’s lover and the other a prisoner being transported to Wolverton where she had killed six people…at least that was the accusation. As the ship departed Hamwic’s harbor, a crazy person that Magnus had encountered the day before apparently committed suicide by deeply slicing a spiral symbol into his abdomen and then following into the bay.

This session we had a full table with all five players in attendance. Just as a reminder, the PC lineup is: Bay (RJ), Isenthorne (Rachel), Magnus (Miles), Osric (Muse), and Thalimor (Thomas). We pickup with the session below the break.

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02 Feb

The Lonely Coast Campaign – Intro Sesssion 1

As I mentioned in the last post, we’ve started our new campaign, The Lonely Coast. Our first session was taken up with character creation and then the actual start of the campaign. As we borrowed a bit from FATE, character creation took a bit longer than it would have otherwise but it gave a nice foundation for the characters as well as ties between the PCs.

Based on those ties, Thalimor and Osric had arrived in the port town of Hamwic together with both hoping to find passage on a ship bound for Wolverton, the largest town in the Barony of Stansig (aka The Lonely Coast). They had both heard that Frithgar, the captain of the Nydam, was looking for some hired swords to accompany his ship to Wolverton…how fortuitous! Thalimor had decided that they could go early to the tavern, The First and the Last, where Frithgar was planning on meeting the hopefuls later that night and the bard could practice his trade.

As the duo was heading to the dockside tavern, they were passing through something of a market area and their attention was caught by the sound of a crashing cart. Turning to look, they spotted a young woman dashing towards them, having just overturned a fish cart. Two fairly burly men were obviously in pursuit of her. The woman made a beeline straight for Osric and pleaded for his help.

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