on Jan 13, 2007
My wrap-up post on the campaign got too big to be a single post, so I’m breaking it up into a series. First up: All the stuff that got left out.
When I do wilderness travel, I sort of make it a branching maze. For example: “You are in a broad clearing. From here you can go east into the valley or you can ascend the large hill to the southwest. You could also turn around and return to the pine grove to the north, which you just left.” The players understand that I’m presenting them with choices that are likely, given the terrain. Sure, they could choose some unlikely course of action, like going halfway up a hill and then walking around, but this will be slower, pointless, and they will just end up at a recycled version of one of my established locations anyway. This gives them a bit of freedom, and makes wilderness seem less arbitrary. Some ways are faster, some can be very slow (like a valley which gets thick with vegitation once they enter) and some can have encounters.
Upper Bolwood was one such maze, with Ettins at a few of the map points. I’d googled around and had pictures for every map point. They managed to route around all of this.
The weather hills were infested with Goblins, who loved to build traps and ambushes. They were another wilderness maze, although almost every point had some pit or trap which would require some reflex save for the poor slob out in front. Once the trap was sprung, (assuming it took someone down, knocked them over, or otherwise worked) then Goblins would emerge from the underbrush and attack. The Goblin camp was also in the hills, although it was a little hard to find. If the players stumbled on it or tracked it down they could clean the place out for a little payback.
I thought I’d devised the map so that they would have to journey through Upper Bolwood OR the Goblin territory, forgetting that with Enoch’s help they could walk on water. They skipped Upper Bolwood, then crossed the river and dodged the Weather Hills.
West of Crossway is the Carrow Valley. Early in the island’s history a battle was fought here between the Lormanites and one of the other factions. The battle was long and more or less a mutual slaughter, with both sides taking such massive losses that nobody could really claim victory. There weren’t enough people left to even begin the task of burying the dead, who were left to rot. At some point later folks came along and errected standing stones as a sort of halfhearted memorial / mass tombstone. The valley is quite cursed by now.
If they had entered the valley they would have gotten trapped in the curse, and would have needed to kill some sort of lesser spirit or ghost to break the curse so that they could leave. I didn’t fill in the details of this adventure, since by session 2 it was obvious they were not going to be coming this way, and they were not in the mood to explore.
The players would be faced with this pitiful guy, who was asking for help.
If they freed him, the queen would know. If they were stupid and obvious about it (like if they tried to take gibbet-boy into town with them without cleaning him up and giving him clothes first) then the guards would catch them and question them, and they would have wound up in front of the queen that much sooner. If they got away with it, the queen would still know, and when they met with her she would bring it up. In any case she would simply point out what an awful guy he was, and list some of his more horrid crimes. Crimes bad enough that the players would probably really regret freeing him.
It was a good chance to demonstrate that the “good guys” in this war were only just a little better than the bad guys. The queen would have waived their punishment in any case, in exchange for them hearing her out on the quest to kill Noreeno. So, the quest was harmless either way. I would have given an XP bonus if they had wrung the truth out of the guy in the cage (maybe by using Zone of Truth) and then acted (or not acted) once they knew the whole story. Really, the true goal of the “quest” was to avoid being duped.
Why did I skip this quest? Sigh. I forgot. The gibbet notes were in with the wilderness travel notes, and not with the notes on the city itself. So, I didn’t describe the cages on the way in. Dang.
As I mentioned in session 10, the mines had a maze and some grave walkers to fight, but they routed around it.
In my original plans, they were going to have to bust Garret out of prison if they wanted to free him. (Or sneak into jail and get the info they needed.) But by the time they got to Telwin Port I felt like they were getting restless, so I made it possible to just bail him out for a few gold.
I’d planned for the Dwarves to arrive after Mordan was defeated. They were originally going to land in Warfield (just north of Fol Thron) and attack the capital from there. This didn’t make a lot of sense. (Why would they land on the opposite side of the river, so that they would have to go all the way to the bridge?)
The players would have enough knowledge at this point that their help could swing the war either way if they decided to take sides. They could give the Dwarves a nice map of the city defenses, or reveal to the Queen the Dwarven food shortage. Doing one or the other could tip the battle whichever way they wanted, but the real solution was to free Fiore so people would stop fighting over this $#@ing mountain.
I thought they would defeat Mordan, and then worry about lifting the curse of Fiore, which was the real cause of all of these wars.
I changed things around because I thought it was time to start wrapping up the campaign. Then they managed to free Fiore before the Dwarves even arrived.
The more I think about it, the more I like the ending we got.