Friday, August 6, 2010

Accidental Rebels - a new d6 Star Wars campaign!

Having some time off with the family led me to thinking about how to include the youngest Apprentice in a game of some kind. I decided to try out d6 Star Wars as an option and he was very excited to play a Star Wars game. So for this campaign we have 3 players at the moment - Apprentice Red (who has some D&D under his belt now but has not played Star Wars RPG's of any flavor), Apprentice Blaster (same), and Apprentice Who (no RPG experience of any kind, other than seeing the family play).

I have books for every edition of Star Wars RPG's and I seriously considered using Saga at one point but I fell back to the d6 version because I think it's better as an introductory game and I have never run a d6SW campaign. Plus it will be good to let the Apprentices see a system that doesn't use classes or levels. So I handed the boys their own copies of the rulebook (I'm a big believer in having multiple copies of a core book at the table, especially when it's a new system) and told them to make up their characters. We ended up with:

Apollo Greenblade, minor human Jedi - A former padawan, he is journeying across the galaxy for knowledge of the Jedi when he is forced to use his lightsaber to defend himself at the wrong time and is captured by the Empire. He is placed aboard the VSD Subjugator for transport to Lord Vader.

Brog Dragonslayer, human cyborged pirate - part of a too-successful pirate operation the band had the misfortune of falling into a trap and being ambushed by the VSD Subjugator. Brog's ship was destroyed but he got to an escape pod in time.After the massacre he was picked up and taken prisoner, charged with piracy.

Rrog Starflyer, wookie smuggler - His latest run went bad and while attempting to escape his ship was tractored and brought aboard the VSD Subjugator where he was imprisoned for smuggling. 

We are using the 2nd edition rules - the 2nd edition revised and expanded rulebook is a thing of beauty and it's 14 years old! -  and the game is set during the classic rebellion era. I explained the basics about difficulty numbers and the wild die and we were off!

All of the PC's have been captured by the Empire and find themselves in separate detention cells aboard a Victory Class Star Destroyer, unaware of each others existence. A series of explosions rumble through the massive ship, then the lights go out. The PC's start breaking out but only the wookie is successful. He eventually frees the other prisoners, including an aged human named Walex Blissex who seems to know a lot about how this ship works. 

Before more than cursory introductions can be made though, 4 guards approach, coming down the corridor. The wookie, the Jedi,and the old human quickly hide but the pirate cannot find a good spot. The guards open fire and 2 of them break into a run, planning to secure the escaped prisoner. The pirate takes cover in an open cell. The guards take one step more than they should have, and find themselves face to face with an angry wookie who pounds one of them to the ground then turns on the second. The Jedi goes prone and grabs the blaster pistol from the fallen guard, opening fire down the hall. The pirate jumps out of hiding and engages the two covering guards in hand to hand while the old man hides. The pirate manages to grab one of the blaster pistols from one of the guards and starts shooting, as does the Jedi. The wookie pounds a second guard senseless and closes in on the more distant pair. The battle ends quickly with 4 dead or wounded guards and 4 armed and dangerous escaped prisoners.

Determined to find their personal effects and get off of this ship (as the explosions continue) the band advances back down the detention corridor to the control center. This is still manned by 2 guards so the Jedi and the Pirate provide covering fire as the Wookie charges. The battle is quickly over as it appears no normal guards are capable of standing up to the wookie in close combat. 

The consoles appear to have partial power and the group soon figures out how to open the storage lockers and quickly recovers their gear. Blissex, having assisted in this walks down a short corridor to try and get the turbolift open while the PC's try to figure out how to escape from the ship, settling on Rrog's YT-1300 as their best chance.

A cry from Blissex brings the PC's running as they see the old man lying on the floor while a hovering black interrogation droid floats over him, the open turbolift doors  where it presumably appeared from. Energized by the recovery of his lightsaber Apollo leaps and slashes the droid with his glowing green blade, nearly cutting it in half. Rrog walks over and stomps it, just to make sure. Blissex is unconscious but alive - looks like the wookie is going to have to carry him. Checking the open turbolift doors, Brog sees a shaft running up and down but with no lights and no hum of repulsorlift modules, it's clear the power is off. Looks like climbing up or down is the only way out of the detention block..

DM Notes:

This was a lot of fun though I could feel the rust shaking off with every move. I was encountering rules questions right from the start - I want to grab the gun out of the guard's hand as he goes by, I want to use 2 blasters, does the -1d for multiple actions affect damage? Does the -1D for wounded affect subsequent STR rolls to resist damage? All kinds of questions and I ended up just winging it for most of them when it became clear I was not going to find them rapidly in the book. 

The Wookie was played by Apprentice Who, the youngest of the boys. This was his first RPG session every and he had a blast beating on things, and with a STR of 5D and a brawling skill of 6D he is a monster in close combat. I think it's important for a character to be good at something specific, especially with a new player or a new game, and he is really good at breaking heads. 

As some of you might recognize, we are using the classic adventure "Starfall" as our kickoff. I think it's a cool adventure with a clear starting point and a clear goal, and multiple ways to achieve it. I don't like to assume that characters are automatically experienced members of the rebellion - I like that association to come naturally if it comes at all. So I scrapped the starting situation and the script and rearranged it as written above. If they get away, especially with Blissex, they will probably be picked up by the Rebels and offered a position, but they don't have to accept it. I think it works better that way.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The New Old Campaign - Part 10

Back at the keep Orrick the Dwarf joins the group as a replacement for the fallen fighter (lost to an Ochre Jelly last session) while Skullduggery II digs into his spellbook and does some magical detecting on the treasure discovered so far. He realizes that he has been carrying a wand of paralyzation ever since the encounter with the evil magic-user back in Session 1! He also determined that the Eagle shield found by Horus was a +1 magical shield. He also takes Charm Person as his second spell, having levelled up to 2nd. Fortified, they now decide to head back to the Caves of Chaos instead of facing the horror that lurks inside Quasqueton.

Reaching the caves the party decides to see where their onetime orc companion lives and enter that cave. They pass a wall decorated with the heads of former enemies of these orcs and enter a guardroom. As fighting breaks out a second wave of orcs crashes in from behind, but the heroes are victorious nonetheless. Exploring further, they end up pinned in a large storage room with a large number of orcs and the orc chieftain bottling them up. Sensing his moment, Skullduggery casts Charm Person at the pig-faced leader.

Smiling, the orc chief walks in, arms wide, and greets his new old friend. Weapons are sheathed, backs are slapped, but language is a problem as no one in the party speaks orcish! The party moves to leave but not before Skullduggery is gifted with an ogre head and a solid, almost mournful handshake from the chief.  The group makes camp up the road a ways and discusses what to do next. 

The next morning the band heads for a different cave covered by a small wooded area. They move in but as they come to a T intersection several things happen: 

-The two dwarves at the front of the party disappear from view as they fall into a covered pit trap which promptly closes again, leaving them cut off from the group

-A group of small doglike reptile things pops up in front of the party and begins throwing javelins at them

-Another group of the things drops out of the trees and charges the party from behind

This is a terrible tactical situation as the party is reduced to 4 members -Elf, Halfling, Thief, and Mage. Combat lasts a long time and numerous weapons are dropped, bowstrings snapped, as general unluck seems to have taken over the battlefield. The Elf is badly wounded, as is the mage, but the halfling and the thief fnally finish off the kobolds, even dropping one who attempts to flee. The wounded are patched up while the dwarves are freed from the pit and the whole group heads back towards the keep.

DM Notes:

The apprentices were not at all interested in going back to B1 this time so they decided to check out the orc lair instead. They ended up cut off in the storeroom with about a dozen orcs outside who called for the chief. Fortunately the MU remembered that he had Charm Person and was eager to try it out and this led to the realization after it worked that no one had taken the orc  language. This was pretty funny and worked out nicely in the end. 

They decided to try a different cave and ended up in the nasty kobold ambush in about as bad a situation as they could be in with their two heaviest melee hitters unable to contribute, but they survived with no losses. This did show them that non-fighters could do alright at fighting though, which is probably a good thing for the long run.

I took time at the beginning of the session to remind the M-U player that he had other spells besides magic missile that might be useful at the keep. He had forgotten some of this so it helped to have a refresher as he leveled up to 2nd. Hopefully he will start using his spells more from now on - he certainly did better in this session.

Overall I am happy with the campaign so far - we're starting to see some leveling-up and some good instincts develop through both common sense and hard experience. Everyone is having a good time so we plan to continue for a good long while.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The New Old Campaign - Part 9

Picking back up in the dungeon, our heroes have ventured deep into level 1 of Quasqueton with the game paused near the throne room.

Continuing their explorations, the party discovers several empty rooms including the room of the apparent captain of the guard and discovers stairs down, but decides not to take them just yet. Moving through more hallways they eventually come to a huge irregularly shaped room with numerous pools spaced regularly throughout. 

Splitting up they each move to a different pool and begin examining the contents. Sniffs are taken, arrows are poked into various liquids, and some deductions are made, many correct, some not. There is a pool of cold water, a pool of wine (which almost puts the dwarf to sleep but he is able to fight it off), a pool of acid, a pool of green slime, a pool of dry ice - all are checked and nothing terrible happens. The one more pool is poked with a sword...

The non-carpet-carrying henchman uses his greatsword to prod a pool that has some swirling shapes within. It rears up and slaps him with a pseudopod, slaying him instantly, sword clattering across the floor. The thing in the pool slurps out of the basin it had occupied and engulfs the body, which begins to dissolve. The rest of the party begins to back towards the door while Kiran the fighter jumps in to attack the creature.This was not a wise move as Kiran had been wounded previously. Slicing into it with his greatsword, Kiran sees the creature split in two. One of the blobs stays on the hireling's body while the other strikes at Kiran, blorping on to him and slaying him as well. The party suffers complete morale failure at this point and runs for the door, fleeing out the door, out of the dungeon, and back to the keep. 

DM Notes

I have never managed to have a party get into the Room of Pools in B1 before so I was very happy to see them do it. At some point in the past I had placed the Ochre Jelly(#21) into the dry pool and I decided to keep it there, figuring there should be one terror-inducing monster on the first level and this was definitely the place to do it. Much time was spent checking pools and testing what happened to arrows dipped into them - very refreshing and not something you see a lot of in more modern skill-laden editions - as each character (and the help) went to one pool to check it out. The initial appearance of the Ochre Jelly rattled the apprentices and they were uncertain whether to fight or run, but when it killed the fighter the rout was on.

I was glad the hireling was the one examining that pool - it gave me the chance to demonstrate the jelly's power without insta-killing a PC, always nice when it works out. The warning wasn't heeded though and so another PC paid the price. Some lessons are harder to learn than others.

I did award XP for the last 2 sessions back at the keep and the Thief is now 3rd level and most of the other characters are 2nd, except for the Elf. I allowed the surviving man-at-arms to level up to a 1st level fighter and become a henchman, making him a little more survivable for the future. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The New Old Campaign - Part 8

The action begins in the Hobgoblin Lair's torture chamber where our heroes are releasing some prisoners. They free a merchant and his wife, who each promise a reward for an escort back to the keep. They then free two men-at-arms who promise to serve for a year if they are freed. Horus the Dwarf and Apollo the Elf each take one of these bondsmen. They also free an Orc as he promises to help fight on the way out of the dungeon. 

The exit is uneventful as the party retraces its steps and heads out. The orc takes his leave once they exit the hobgoblin cave thought the Elf watches him until he can see which cave he enters. Then they depart for the keep.

They remain for 2 days, receive the promised rewards (gold from the merchant, a +1 dagger from his wife) and outfit their new henchmen with decent gear - namely platemail. Then the company sets out again, this time planning to explore the large clearing  they spotted on their initial journey to the caves. Rumor has it that a strange cave lies somewhere in the area, and they intend to explore it.

Our party consists of:

Apollo the Elf, Steven the Thief, Kiran the Fighter, Horus Bloodaxe the Dwarf, Skullduggery II the Magic User, Davyd the Halfling, and 2 Men at Arms

Within an hour of reaching the clearing, they find a rocky hill with a single cave near the top. Inside, a 10' passage leads into darkness. Entering, the push past some old broken doors, pass some niches carved into the walls, (checking for skeletons - see their very first adventure) and are startled when a magic mouth begins speaking in a loud booming voice. It accuses them of being thieves and fools and mentions that Zelligar and Rogahn will deal with them as such. Horus recognizes the names as two of the adventurers that were with Duke Sutherland when he freed Dragonport. They later left the city and were not seen again though there are several legends about them and their possible fate. The rest of the party cares little for stories from 100 years ago and pushes on. 

A short distance later the group comes across a scattering of bodies, apparently an earlier adventuring band that met with ill luck. Examining the bodies the party finds little to learn or loot and continues on through long and winding passages, finding little of interest until they round a corner and see what can only be described as a throne room.

The party finds itself in a large columned room with dual thrones atop a raised dais at the far end. There are also so rough looking men in the room who demand payment for the party's intrusion. Horus tries to negotiate but the humans demand payment, the band refuses, and combat ensues. A few minutes later, the party is looting the bodies of the 4 brigands. Horus finds a shield hanging on the wall emblazoned with an eagle and claims it, thinking it might be worth something.

 Exploring a bit further, the group finds a trophy room full of interesting creatures and creature parts. Among these is a huge dragonskin which fascinates Apollo and he takes it down, rolls it up, and orders one of the retainers to carry it. He plans to make something out of it, possibly armor, or at the very least hang it up in HIS room, not leave it here in some dusty dungeon. 

DM Notes:

This session featured an unexpected turn of events as the apprentices decided that they were taking too many casualties at the caves and wanted to explore the other place they had heard about. I had not specifically placed anything in the "Cave of the Unknown" as I assumed the boys would keep hammering the caves for a while. Since one of the reasons for doing this campaign is to give them a tour of some of the "classics" of D&D, I went to the closet and double-checked the map for B1- yep, it fits perfectly: 1 large cave-like entrance, 2 levels, some cool old-school dungeon type things - so that's the way I went. I had considered using the dungeon from B5 Horror on the Hill but I decided it was more complex than I wanted for this side-trip type dungeon. I plan to use it for an alternate starting area in this same campaign anyway.  SO "In Search of the Unknown" it was.

They liked the entrance area (the mouths, the bodies, etc) but they ignored some of the nearby doors and went off the the East and South on the map, winding down and around to the south east corner and eventually stumbling into the throne room where I had placed the bandits (#20) and a +1 shield (W) - I am using the old lists right from the module as I have never run it in-depth, only having PC's stumble across it then pull out before really digging in and I wanted to see how well it worked. So far I have no complaints.

There wasn't much combat this time, but they spent time exploring and checking torches and oil supplies so it was just fine. The trophy room was a lot of fun and the idea of one of the henchmen walking through this dungeon basically carrying a roll of carpet inspired quite a few laughs. One of the apprentices already has the "who cares he's just a hireling - he'll do what he's told" attitude already and he's never read KODT or Nodwick or anything - it's just a natural development and it's very funny to see in action again after all these years.