Monday, September 28, 2009, 11:52 AM
Sabulum is an ancient city, its foundations laid thousands of years ago. Throughout the ages it has been in ruin several times, sometimes due to war, others not known to current history. The history of Ancient Sabulum is sketchy at best, few records in the east or west mentioning the city at all, but known to encompass several eras of the city's existence, including at least two wars which left the city in ruins, the last one about 1600 years ago known as the War of the Serpents.
The second session started off with introducing a completely new player to D&D and indeed to pen & paper RPGs in general. Creating his character and going through the basics of the game system led into the story and his meeting with the rest of the group.
Bryan arrived in Sabulum after a long journey from the western kingdoms, where he studied the arcane at a very highly reputed academy. After a few years of higher apprenticeship in the field, his mentor presented him with a proposition; to travel to Sabulum and put himself in the service of a man by the name of Talib Rashid who would need his help. He should seek out Fearghal Scar, who would know where to find him.
Bryan arrives at both Faerghal's and the Three Sails tavern just behind the other four, and manages to follow their trail through the catacombs to the Red Claw den. The area outside is deserted, but upon entering he comes upon four humans searching through the remains in the first room of the den for money. They attack him, but he holds them off with a carefully placed Storm Pillar (they're all minions) and proceeds to pick them off with Magic Missiles.
As he is about to exit the room, a halfling comes running into it from the exit Bryan was about to take. Leaping at him with a dagger, the halfling meets the same fate as his friend who moments before had been defeated by the other four heroes. In the next room the group is finally fully assembled, and the five of them continue on.
Moving deeper into the complex, the group comes upon a room with more bedrolls, this time with actual doors set into the frames. While looking about the room they hear someone shouting something about an amulet, and somebody approaching the door. They ready themselves, and once a hobgoblin opens the door they rush him and proceed into the room beyond to find two more, and another halfling with a sling. Now armed with a Wizard, a Shaman Guardian Spirit, and a Warden, keeping control of the battle becomes a bit easier, and they quickly dispatch of the enemies, again making sure nobody escapes out the next door.
During battle they decided to keep their opponents alive, figuring they're hired hands who will likely head off once defeated and let go. They discover that the hobgoblins carry both the symbol of the Red Claw and the (un)holy symbol of Bane, the latter hidden inside their shirts. They talk with the captured halfling and learn that he doesn't know a lot, only that none of the thieves or mercenaries are allowed to go downstairs. He is allowed to go and departs with a warning to watch out for the rats.
Picking up more treasure, including a set of Fayleaf Vambraces for Ioan, they press on. Scouting around a corner they see that the next room is empty but for a number of big rats. Moving into the room a number of smaller rats run to hide while some big ones attack them. Additional rats appear each of the first few rounds, and as they enter into melee one of them shifts into the montrous form of a wererat. The big room and appearance of new waves of rats makes keeping them off the spellcasters tricky, and the heroes pull back toward the corridor from which they entered until they have better control. As victory seems clear the wererat turns and runs, dropping down a hole with a ladder. However, Mud quickly steps over to the top of the hole and finishes the creature off with a well-placed Chaos Bolt.
Licking wounds and realising that Gauthak has picked up Filth Fever, they still feel quite high-spirited and decide to move on down the hole to see what they'll find there. However, as time was limited this time around the second session ended at that point.
Monday, September 28, 2009, 11:11 AM
The city's catacombs are at least as old as Old Sabulum, and likely much older than that. They run under the whole city, but as part of the rebuilding have been walled off between some districts, and are guarded below as above ground where entry is restricted. Unguarded parts of the catacombs are home to several shady groups of people, and rumours of strange creatures and horrors might just be their way of keeping nosy people out.
Kicking off the campaign, four of the heroes all have ties to Faerghal Scar, a goliath who runs a guard & protect service for caravans and traders in the city. Gauthak and Rangrim, having just arrived from the Gleimiz mountains, know his name as a place to get work in Sabulum, while Mud and Ioan get regular tips from Faerghal about unprotected parties to take advantage of.
Faerghal trusts all four to be honourable enough to do their best and not get him in trouble, and picks the four of them for a job he has been asked to find people for. An unnamed contact esorts them to the Three Sails tavern at the docks, where a barmaid recognise them immediately on entry and points them to a table where a man awaits them.
The man introduces himself as Talib Rashid, and makes it clear he doesn't want any questions about himself. He says he can give little information, as he has little himself. Someone he trusts suggested to him that someone should have a look at a newly formed band of thieves. The latter someone is the four heroes, and their task is to locate this band known as the Red Claw - he laughs at the name - and find out what they're up to, who's behind them, and put a stop to them if necessary.
Off the heroes go with nothing but "Red Claw" to go by, and enter the adventure's first encounter; a skill challenge. Can they locate the Red Claw without arousing too much suspicion and confrontation? They start off in the dodgy areas just inside the catacombs at the docks. (The first level of the catacombs is like a huge cellar for the entire city, its ground level at the same level as the docks.)
Through identifying who to talk to (Streetwise), friendly conversation (Diplomacy), overhearing a muffled comment (Perception) and pressuring for information (Intimidation) the group learns that the Red Claw is located somewhere near what is known as The Vault, deeper into the catacombs to the northeast. Navigating based on both underground knowledge (Dungeoneering) and careful study of rodents' movement patterns (Nature - very good roll), they arrive at a big underground area with small fires and several people around. Walking straight in among the people they notice they arouse suspicion (automatic failure), and decide to Bluff their way through by putting on a haughty attitude and looking impressive. It works, and they avoid to have to fight for that pile of XP. The rest of the first play session is battle though.
Crossing the area with the people "outside", the heroes enter a short tunnel and quickly come upon a room containing several bedrolls, chairs and tables, and a good number of humans. Trying to keep up their bluff, they walk straight into the room, but it doesn't work and eight human thieves (6 minions) fall upon the group, with a halfling with a sling being spotted halfway through the battle. Lacking the Wizard, the crowd control mainly consists of the Warden stepping up and drawing attention and the spellcasters making sure he also works as cover against the halfling. The battle is won, some coins are found, and it is confirmed that this is indeed the Red Claw.
After a quick rest they press on into the den, and as they come around a corner spot another room ahead. Hearing voices inside the room they decide to storm it to try take the occupants by surprise (not really surprise, but rolling Initiative and delaying until they all act at once). Rushing in their path is blocked by a medium sized drake, while further back two halflings are seemingly saying something to a huge rat. All join the fight, and the heroes make sure to maneuver themselves to avoid anyone - especially the rat - from escaping deeper into the complex. However, this allows one of the halflings to slip out the way they entered and escape.
They pick up some more coins from the dead halfling, and that was the end of the first play session. I'll get back to the escaping halfling, and the fifth player, next time.
Saturday, September 5, 2009, 8:18 AM
Where the river Blegh ends its southward run from the Gleimiz mountains through the Dauthaz desert and spills its water into the Bay of Silence, lies the city state of Ghel-Sabulum. Here it intersects the great trade road between the kingdoms of the west and the Geolu Empire and Sporas city states to the east, and is a base for ships that sail to the strange lands of the south across the Deofol Sea, and boats carrying gold, gems and supplies between the city and the prospector towns in the desert.
The river splits into two arms just before the bay, forming an island in its run. On this island, between mighty stone bridges and fortified riverbank towns, lies the city of glass and stone most commonly referred to as just Sabulum.
Figured that if I would blog about anything, I should blog about the campaign I just started. It will also give me somewhere to summarise the game sessions and share it with people should they be interested.
The setting is a city state surrounded by desert on all sides except a large bay to the south. It's a city of narrow walled streets and bustling activity as a major trade point in the world. The intent is for the entire campaign, level 1 to 30, to be confined to the city and its catacombs - preferably 90% or more within the city walls.
The current 5-player group consists of the following adventurers:
Gauthak, a Goliath Warden, hailing from the mountains at the northern edge of the desert, a land plagued by orcs and dangerous monsters.
Rangrim, a Dwarf Shaman, from the same mountains as Gauthak, and likely from the same settlement. Goliaths and Dwarves have joined arms in the hostile locale of the Gleimiz mountains.
Ioan (pronounced 'Owen'), a Halfling Rogue, native to Sabulum and somewhat of an outsider in the city's more "opportunistic" community, partly due to hanging out with Mud.
Mud Madslay, a Goblin Sorcerer, former slave of a local arcanist and bestowed with magical abilities in an accident caused by Ioan breaking into the arcanist's lab at the wrong time.
Bryan, a Human Wizard, from a university of magic in the kingdoms of the west, and despite being Human the one in the group who is most of an outsider to the city.
Enough of an introduction, I gather. Next, summary of the first session.