Referee’s notes: The following is a record of our latest gaming session. The only content of interest to anyone else besides my players would be the stuff about how I used or adapted material from Vornheim and other gaming supplements.
Cast of characters:
- Protus, the Criminal-Ranger (PC played by Ryan)
- Pytheas, the Sailor-Warlock (PC played by Andrew)
- Arcas, the Noble-Rogue (PC played by Jonathan)
- Adja, the freed slave (NPC ally)
The heroes gathered together one morning to make plans: Arcas was to contact a thief’s guild for info and some noble Seals, Pytheas was to explore the Library of Menkhat to find a way inside, Protus was to find some noble attire, Adja was to drink some nobles under the table and steal some noble seals.
Referee’s notes: The seals would help them pass as Babylonian nobility (allowing them to openly carry weapons).
Protus had some trouble getting directions to the market district: he somehow offended a fortune teller (fish guts) who immediately tried to attack him. Protus managed to disarm the man and ran off. Later, he somehow insulted a circus performer, but quickly diffused the tension with silvered words. Eventually he met a lovely storyteller who gave him good directions and even a cryptic fortune: “a jealous lover will give you a lodestone”… Noble clothes turned out to be very expensive. He managed to find a shady foreign dealer who made him a good deal on some second-hand clothes of an Egyptian minor noble.
Referee’s notes: I used the improvised pricing rules found in Vornheim. I won’t explain what they are here in case one of my players reads this… Hint: the random shopkeeper table provided vendors who charged vastly different prices.
Arcas sought audience with a very well known and wealthy pirating guild. Their base was in an abandoned but renovated section of sewer tunnels. He got the chance to speak with Unwerth the Immense, a very corpulent pirate. He managed to haggle with him and trade three canvases of art for three stolen Noble Seals (the bargain included the acceptance of a job to physically intimidate a minor Lagasian noble). Finally, after some perceptive prodding, he found out that the Pirate guild was having supernatural troubles: the secret of their success was due to a 200-year old pact with a desert demon from the Ziggurat. The fiend was demanding payback which would ruin the guild dramatically. If Arcas and his friends could destroy or banish the devil, they would get high induction into the guild.
Referee’s Notes: lots of fun improvising here. NPCs were created using Vornheim, but the guild’s details, as well as their supernatural troubles, were created using Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque.
Pytheas caught up on some sleep before setting out for the Library. He searched for many hours before resigning to speaking with a statue. To his surprise, its shadow pointed to a spot on the wall. He found a secret door there and finally managed to get inside. He found the botany wing of the library, wherein he found several great tomes. Before he could do any further research, he was shot with a poisoned crossbow dart and passed out.
Referee’s Notes: I had to fudge things here a little. By-the-book, the librarians just kill outright. But in the end, my plan added to the overall plot perfectly. Just another facet of the villainous scheming.
That evening, the rest of the party got back together. Adja had scored another three Noble Seals. They had dinner while waiting for Pytheas to return. When it came apparent that he wasn’t back on time, they decided to set out and find him.
Protus was called into an alley way by a raven calling his name. He met a witch known in Lagash as Dread, who offered him aid in exchange for this continued services. He agreed. She gave him a ring-shaped jade amulet that would help the heroes find Pytheas (whom she warned was in great danger). In exchange, Protus was to bring her the grave dust of three ancient kings.
Referee’s Notes: Vornheim has a rumour about three witches prowling the streets. I decided to use them like the mysterious patrons of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser: Shelby of the Eyeless Face and Ningauble of the Seven Eyes. Protus was first targeted because he asked about the three witches on the first night in Lagash.
Thanks to Dread’s amulet, they were able to follow their missing friend’s trail. Along the way, they hid from a group of black-clothed and armed locals. One of them had a large serpent (possibly a dragon) tattoo.
Referee’s Notes: Another random encounter hooked into the greater plot. There’s a lot of coincidence in a procedurally-generated sandbox.
Soon enough, the three found their way into the library. Here’s a few highlights:
- Finding useful tomes (using Vornheim’s suggestion for abstracting books so that they have a set number of “Answers” that they can give to the reader). Pytheas found a book on flowers and found out lots about the dangerous Lotus flowers of the region. Later, they were happy that they kept another tome about the history of sculpture (it helped them identify some mysterious statues). The characters now see the value in books.
- Pytheas now has both Black and Green Lotus petals and knows how to do a week-long alchemical process to make them into potent poisons… Now he just needs to get a laboratory.
- The Oblong Rug: a mysterious carpet that grants mind-warping visions and wisdom. In exchange for some short-term insanity, Pytheas and Adja gained incredible insights (eg: Adja knows that there is a Hydra kept prisoner in the Library’s dungeon). Note: I lessened the failure conditions a little since my players’ characters are only level 2.
- Protus has been helping Adja cope with her newly-acquired madness (courtesy of the Oblong Rug). Her secret loyalty score has increased and it shows.
- While examining doors, Arcas got two natural 20s while searching for traps and picking locks. To let the success ride on, his character gets Advantage on all door- and portal-related tests within the Library’s walls. He’s just an expert now.
- Ryan‘s mapping of the library so far has inspired me to make the five towers connect as a circular loop instead of a linear row. Very, very cool.