Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Arcus Against the Black Druids

The other day, I finally got a chance to run Barbarians of Lemuria with Ed, and what follows is a run-down of the game. First off, I have to say, that it was pretty awesome. Really a breeze to run, and a lot of fun.

Ed made his character, Arcus Thaal, a former noble from Parsool. He had begun dabbling in magic, much to the chagrin of his Tyrus-born mother, who disowned him. For a few years he led a hard life as a thief, eventually turning to a more honorable profession, that of merchant, and settling in Satarla, specializing in the finding and selling of antiquated and magical curios.

The game started with Arcus being hired by a lovely noblewomen, Alastriona. A package had come to her by ship from Urceb, and had been stolen by a group of thugs, the Blood Shadow gang. She desperately wanted the package back, was offered Arcus quite a bit of gold.

He went undercover in a tavern in the seediest part of Satarla, and making use of his carousing trait, made contact with the thieves, pretending to be interested in buying strange and/or mystical items. They set up a a midnight meeting at the gang's hideout.

When he arrived, all the thugs had been beaten and knocked out. In the back room of the hideout, he found out why... a woman, a thief, had beaten him here. She had the package and took off through a window. Arcus realized that he had seen her earlier at the tavern. Had she been there too, trying to find out where the package was? Had she overheard him making a deal to meet with the Blood Shadows? Also, he was able to give a name to her face; Zaydara, a well known thief of both treasures and hearts.

He chased her across the rooftops of Satarla, keeping her in sight, but making sure she did not know he was following. Finally, she entered an inn, and he followed her inside. She was not in the common room, so he assumed she was upstairs. He confirmed this with the landlord while renting a room for himself, right across the hall from her. He planned on waiting until she was asleep, then break into her room and steal the package back.

After some time, he went upstairs to his room, and through her door he heard the crack of a whip and a muffled cry. He kicked the door to her room in! There she was naked and bound and surrounded by... Black Druids! It appeared that were getting ready to torture and kill her. Arcus would not allow such a lovely lady, even a professional rival, to die at the hands of those foul Druids! He waded into the room, cutlass and dagger in hand, cutting them down quite handily, using hero points to turn successes into mighty successes.

After freeing her, Zaydara told him that the leader of the Druids, one that the acolytes had called Adranath Va'al, had taken the package to the docks, where a ship awaited to take them away under the stealth of night. The two of them made their way swiftly to the docks. Along the way she explained that she had been hired by someone else to find and steal the package, but she had no idea that the Black Druids were behind it.

They found the boat in question and snuck aboard. The lead Druid, Adranath, came from below deck to talk to the captain. This was their chance. Arcus summoned up magical fire and set the sails on fire, causing a distraction, while Zaydara, cudgel in hand, started fighting the sailors. Arcus leapt into action, rushing Adranath Va'al with his blades. The Druid was too quick for him and side stepped his attack. The Druid then called upon the foul name of Tharungozoth, and a dozen shadowy tendrils, tipped with obsidian curved claws appeared around Arcus, cutting and gashing him. Things were not looking good for Arcus.

Then he got a brilliant idea. Since the Druid was too quick for him to hit, he decided to take the Druid, at least temporarily, out of the picture. Again calling upon his arcane arts, he caused the mast of the ship to swing at the Druid, hitting him and knocking him from the deck of the ship into the cold water of the bay. With the leader of the Druids gone, Arcus took care of the acolytes and the rest of the sailors. He and Zaydara left one standing and told him if he wanted to leave the burning ship alive, he would get the package that the Druids had brought aboard for them. The man complied and they all got off the ship, which was now completely ablaze.

Arcus thought to tell the city guard that there was a Black Druid in the water and to apprehend him, but when he scanned the dark water for Adranath Va'al, there was no sign of him. Had the Druid drowned, or had he escaped? Arcus had the feeling he had not seen the last of the Druid.

He and Zaydara parted ways, and Arcus promised to bring her a portion of his payment for all her help that evening. The next afternoon, Arcus called upon Alastriona at her home, where he discovered that she was an alchemist. She showed him the contents of the package. It was a silvery-green metal tablet; the Tanshazgar Tablet. Actually it was only one part of five. She had another of the tablets. When they were all brought together, and the code they were written in was deciphered, it was said to tell the secret of making the mythical metal, janium. The game ended here, with Arcus and Alastriona sharing a passionate kiss...

Whew. That was the game, basically. I'm sure I skimmed over some minor stuff. Again, nice and easy to run. Of course, I've read over the rule book several times, absorbing the setting. Also in the last three weeks I've read the first three of the Thongor books, as well as the first two collections of the Savage Sword of Conan comics, so I've got the genre crammed into my brain.

5 comments:

Newton said...

Great session re-cap!

It looks like you have a great story-line, but can you tell us how the rules system (BoL) helped/hindered your session?
Was there any rules that your player(s) really liked/disliked?
How long (real time) did combats take to play out? Were NPCs easy to handle/create?

Thanks

Nitrosyncretic said...

I'm interested in the reply to Newton's questions too.

Also, how much of the events in the adventure were preplanned set pieces? How did you produce the nice dovetailing of PC background and adventure hook?

Joe said...

Newton:

If anything, the light nature of the BoL rules helped keep things moving along. The whole game was played in maybe two and a half hours. I just had one player, my cohort in blogging here, Ed. I think I had to look up maybe one or two rules the whole time.

As for the rules, I liked the stuff for Mighty Successes and how you can use it to mow down the rabble. I think it really captures the "characters are bad-ass heroes" vibe. I just like the simplicity of pretty much all the rules. I think, other than combat, I only called for two other rolls: one when Arcus was trying to make contact with the thugs that had stolen the package, and again when he tried to trail Zaydara without being seen. I could have called for a roll to say kick down the door when he rescued her, but it didn't feel right to. Same when he and the thief snuck onto the ship. I just let them get on the boat. What was interesting was what happened when they got on the boat, not them getting on it.

The combats were not very long. The first one maybe went three or four rounds. Granted, all the enemies were rabble, and Ed used a couple Hero Points to make Mighty Successes. The second was a little longer, five or six rounds, mainly because he went up against real opponent, namely the lead Druid. The only NPCs I had stated out were the head Druid and Zaydara the thief. The rest were just generic rabble.

Nitrosyncretic:

I had a few scenes sketched out. I knew I wanted Arcus to find the hideout only to find he'd been beaten to the punch by a rival thief. I knew I wanted the climax of the adventure to be on a ship, fighting Druids and sailors. Other than that, it was all pretty much up in the air, made up on the fly.

As for the dovetailing of PC background, it was a combination of luck and also knowing the kind of characters that Ed makes :-) I had made the adventure quite a while ago, and he made his character right before we started, so I had to change a few things in the beginning, like how he got hired by the alchemist in the first place, but it worked out OK.

Ed:

Do you have anything to add? Your thoughts about the game?

Ed said...

You know, those two other rolls -- making contact with the thugs, and following Zaydara back without being detected -- were huge. They moved the story along in a big way, changed the whole situation and put Arcus Thaal at a big advantage. So... there may only have been two of 'em, but they packed a big punch.

David Nett said...
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