I attempted an urban adventure this week – a change of pace from “here are some monsters, fight ’em!”. Doing this requires improv, which is just something that I am not awesome at. But I know someone who is, and by a twist of fate this week of all weeks the man himself was there at the shop.
I am, of course, talking about Matt.
Matt isn’t playing this campaign. He has, like, a job or something and can’t be there Mondays. Yeah, I know: obviously his priorities are screwed up. But spending a while more or less broke and then not being broke anymore will do that to a bloke.
Anyway. I ran into him in the bottle shop – funny story there, too – and described the night’s game which I was hoping to run. He sat in and very kindly took over to describe the scene where the players met a lord of the dragon clan (we are using l5r as background flavour for the elves).
It was just as I remember – vivid, memorable, and players shutting up because they were keen to hear what happens next. I was as enthralled as everyone else.
Anyway. This was what went down.
So the two brothers Haddock and Sam reunite at the agreed-on rendezvous, and Haddock announces that they will sail again in a week, so they may as well hit the tavern. Miston cuts in and says that he would like an escort around town, say about four of the more presentable members of crew.
John, Daniel, Drewf and Brendan. Don’t know the character’s names yet. Wizard, Alchemist, Bard, and I think sorcerer. Yes, I know what you are all thinking: oops, this could be a problem.
The first day or two passes uneventfully. They do some shopping, tag along after Miston as he visits the libraries in the clan quarter of town and some less reputable spots. After the first day, the other group have gone off on a paid job somewhere.
The town is, is … restless. The bard makes enquiries. First, a elven child has been abducted. Second, in a few days there will be a lunar eclipse. Bad times, and people are planning on staying safe indoors over the inauspicious interval.
By chance, one of them mentions this to Miston. He is alarmed, and asks them to please investigate. The child is of the dragon clan, and it is there they make their first call.
They march up to the front door of the Dragon Clan compound – an embassy, perhaps, or a holiday villa. The bard works his wiles and persuades the guards on the door to go get the butler, who is likewise persuaded to see if the master is receiving visitors. It seems he is, and the party are conducted in.
The bard got his chance to shine. To tell the truth, most of this week’s play was me and Brendan, with interjections from the always irrepressible Daniel. It’s nice to give the bard something to do other than sing his song while everyone else is fighting the monsters.
This is the bit where Matt took over for a while. I can’t do it justice.
They were conducted to a large chamber where, in silence, they participated in a tea ceremony. The tea was drugged, of course, and the Lord’s Lady checked out the party magically, announcing “this is not they” at the end.
Released from thier enscorcelment, they offered thier respects. The rat-man and the human mage were politely rebuffed, but Brendan’s half-elf bard and Drewf’s Ifrit Sorceress were welcomed more warmly – particularly in view of the the sorceress’ command of Ignan.
After a fair bit of table-talk, Lord Tatsuo (?) announced that since fate had sent these to him, that’s what he would work with. His daughter had been kidnapped while shopping about town. He had been hoping to receive a ransom demand, but in view of the fact that he hadn’t got one – well, that was bad news.
“Perhaps it is well that you are not of the clans. What I tell you now must remain in confidence – will you agree to this?” The players agreed, and truthfully (so not running afoul of the Zone of Truth). “Very well – I will tell you this: our daughter has power. Power that she must not use.”
Dun dun dun! And after a bit more, they depart. Having not discussed money. They turn the kid’s room over for diary clues, but nothing there. Then it’s off to town, to check out the route she took on the day.
Dragon clan are mystics. Class-wise, they tend to be monks. They inhabit a mountainous, volcanic set of islands to the north of the rift. As for the cold shoulder to the rat-man and human: ok, he might be a good guy; doesn’t mean he isn’t racist.
Campaign-wise, I wanted the characters to make peaceful contact with some of the elves. As Daniel pointed out: “these are the first elves that haven’t been trying to kill us”.
So they went and spoke to some shopkeepers, waving about a dragon-clan seal. Eventually they tacked her down to a alleyway, a shortcut that she and her four guards took. Signs of struggle? Possibly, but although out-of-the-way, the alley is not unused. Difficult to tell. There was a street-kid clumsily inserted into the alley. The bard tried to fascinate him, and the wizard to approach him, but he beat the save and took off.
The party pursued him over a open hatch for some bakery’s underground oven. They nearly cornered him at an alley, but he managed to scamper over the wall and across a crowded street – the party in pursuit. Finally he tried getting over a roof but slid back: the bard tripping him with his whip. Finally cornered, the party commenced to question the frightened and sullen kid.
We used the paizo chase cards
. It went ok – I’ll use ’em again. The main problem for a DM is that you have to have a backup plan for what happens if the party don’t catch him.
And all they really got out of him was that it was ninjas what did it. So they decided to check the bad part of town. They proceed to make clumsy enquiries (Drewf or John rolled a 2) and were ambushed by 4 ninjas!
But these ninjas were crap. Two falling to a Colour Spray, and two simply being killed. After regaining consciousness, the bard proceeded to intimidate the crap out of them (need to check the rules – is there a limit to how far you can shift someone’s attitude with repeated intimidate attempts?). The ninjas revealed that the girl was being taken to Takaoka (High Hill) by some gaijin.
Everyone is “OMG, we is goig to die!”, but the spellcasters did just fine, even without fighters.
The ninjas were then permitted to commit ritual suicide.
Then it’s back to Miston to ask where TF Takaoka might be.
I gave ’em a geography, nature, local and I think arcana check to know about this hill, but they persisted in rolling crap.
So next week – heading out to a high hill, killing some dudes, and rescuing an elf. Yay! It’s that simple – what could go wrong?