Friday, March 11, 2011

The Achaean Age Campaign - Session 1: A Final Obligation

We open in the great coastal city of Argos. Argos is the main port for travel and trade with the island of the minotaurs and is quite prosperous. It is also the favored city of Posiedon, which doesn't hurt either. Three of our party members are newly arrived from Minos (Crete) and have spent their first day in town looking for equipment for exploration and travel. Talking with a like-minded Artificer they met in the agora, they are approached by a slave from the temple of Hephaestus. Jordon, the Artificer, knows him and welcomes him to the table.

The slave has bad news - the last priest of Hephaestus in the city has died and his final wish is to be buried in the shrine of the smith god outside of town. The slave knows where it is but no one has gone there in decades and the countryside is crawling with bandits and monsters. He knows he would never make it alone and asks Jordon (and his friends) if they would escort him on this journey. After a brief discussion the party agrees and they plan to meet at the main landside gate at dawn the next day.

Meeting up without incident the group sets forth, 4 adventurers and a slave pulling a cart with the body of his former master. The shrine is about a day's travel away and for the first hour things are uneventful as they follow the main road north, which is now in a sad state of disrepair. Then a pair of ragged-looking men step out of the woods on either side of the road and signal them to halt. The bandits then demand payment or they will attack. The party refuses as all good Acheans should and the fight is on.

The two bandits find themselves quickly outmatched when they are rushed by Spartakos the warrior and Jaak the minotaur berserker. Then 5 more bandits step out and hurl javelins and for a moment things appear to be more even. That's when Kettenbar charges them as Jordon unleashes some of his magical concoctions and in a short one-sided fight the bandits are slain to a man.

The heroes take a short break, toss the bodies to the side of the road - scum like these do not deserve burials like honorable men - and continue on their journey. Hours later as the sun sinks low they spot the shrine ahead.

It is a simple stone construction - a raised stone platform with columns surrounding a central altar. It appears it might once have had a roof but it does not any longer. The whole thing is set in a quiet open area though the grass and scrub are brown and withered despite the onset of spring. Approaching cautiously they realize the shrine is not uninhabited.

Atop the platform they spot 1...2...3...4 scorpions! Man-sized scorpions! Briefly discussing a plan the heroes decide to open fire with missiles and let the beasts come to them. Spartakos heaves a Javelin at them, while Jordon pulls a man-like framework off of the cart and sends it marching towards the shrine. Jaak charges, clearly understanding the plan. Shrugging, Kett charges after him.

Jaak reaches the steps of the shrine and is seized by one of the beasts, discovering that besides being man-sized these things' claws generate some kind of lightning effect, blasting him even as he is caught in their grip - Stormclaw Scorpions! Could they be a divine agent of some kind?

The rest of the party charges forward to support the minotaur and a melee fight breaks out along the steps of the shrine wit hall four scorpions engaging all 4 heroes as the slave guards his master's body. Jaak breaks free as hits are given and taken between the two sides. Spartakos comes around one side of the steps and rams his spear up into the softer underside of the one scorpion, slaying it. Jaak and the automaton team up on another one, killing it as well. Jordon blasts one with a cold blast then Jaak goes berserk and kills it and cleaves into another, setting it up perfectly for Kett who plunges his fullblade into the thing's back, ending the fight.

After catching their breath, Jordon mentions that the traditional burial place for priests is somewhere under the shrine. He fiddles with the stone altar and finds a movable block, which allows the altar to slide back smoothly, revealing a stone stairway down into darkness. After discussing options the heroes slide the altar back into place, deciding to rest for a night and venture downward in the morning.

DM Notes: This was fun and the boys really got into it, working together fairly well and not arguing at all. Normally I like to give players multiple choices when it comes to adventuring options but to start this off I wanted to take a firmer hand, thus the slave's request for aid. The artificer's divine connection to Hephaestus played right into this so it was a done deal from the start. It also emphasizes the decline of the gods in the region which will be a theme for the campaign, at least early on. 

The combats were short and clean, lasting 3 rounds and 5 rounds respectively and not a kobold in sight!  We were all pretty happy with the game and are looking forward to the next run sometime after spring break.

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