Tiger Tim’s scenario writeup

To start with let’s get some general information about the runs.  First, given the con goals (to get artifacts and shards), there was no need to have a combined plot for my runs and because of that, they did not.  Each run was unique.  Alex had given a guideline of what each run should have (based upon how far we were into the con) and I used that as a high level start.  From there I just tried to come up with an interesting combat or role-play situation and add an exciting setting and colorful NPCs.  I had an outline and run notes, but all of my runs were left intentionally open ended to allow the players plenty of opportunity to be creative.  From this frame of perspective, let’s take a look at each of the individual runs.

 

Run #1 Return to the Village of Hommlet.

 

Theme Goals that were addressed in this run:

  • discover existence of mini-Mals and defeat some (though not that they are connected to Malchion). Each has some special item (rod/staff/ring/necklace etc) that is clearly evil and clearly is the source of their power.
  • get first hints that there is an active god aside from Aru, Daglir, Gaia, and Mavors (i.e., cleric casts unknown prayers; unknown holy symbol; etc)

Run high level summary:

The characters have a chance to save a small village from a mini-Mal who has taken it over.  I used the village of Hommlett (from the temple of elemental evil) as my backdrop for this run. Years ago two sisters from the small town of Hommlet, one a sorcerer (Emeralis – The mini-Mal), the other a seer (Kandella), find one of the fragments.  The wizard is corrupted, the other one (knowing its danger) hides the fragment.  Years later the sorcerer finds another fragment.  She now realizes that the first stone, the stone her sister kept from her is another fragment and she wants it.  She chases her sister back home (where the sorcerer is known as a murderer), and tries to get the stone back from her.

 

Players:

Blazing Star (Suzanne Bergeron) 5th level Epon Mavors Cleric
Lefty Darkpaw (Spencer Kipe) 5th level Perrin Hero (Ratri)
Witch of the Wood (Steven Wolfson) 5th level Human Mage (Gaia)
Fishmen (Monty Rubin) 5th level Perrin Aru Cleric
Alain G. Leandre Sylvain (John Kliminski) 5th level Cat Hero (Leo)
Duff (Michael Brokes) 5th level Dwarf Hero (Mavors)

 

How it unfolded:

Players meet Prince Conrad Ashland, get mission details (go to Hommlet and ‘rescue’ his lover).  The Prince is Charmed (note this is not a standard pcon spell, it came from a scroll of Ratri).  The players did figure out that the prince was charmed and more importantly, that an item (the first shard) had been stolen by his lover. 


Before they reach Hommlet, they encounter a local farmhand wounded and running on the road ahead.  An Orc band has attacked the village! Ready for action, the players get to the outskirts of the town. 1st encounters are with typical orcs, who are no match (unless in great numbers) for the PCs.  The only real danger is that the orcs may alert the rest of the horde that the players have a counter attack in progress (this would be done by the orcs blowing a bone horn).  Note that the horn, in addition to calling reinforcements could also sound retreat (getting the orcs to flee the village).  The players smash a number of Orcs before they find their target (the prince’s lover) is down the road at the local inn.

 

On the way there Lefty sees a black cat trying to catch his attention.  Lefty – not taking any chances – fires an arrow at the cat and it disappears in a magical flash.  Had the cat been followed it would have lead him to a dying healer (the cat was a familiar to the healer).  This would have opened up other options for the party. At the inn a battle develops with the key moment being the mini-Mal attempting to summon a large fire elemental (had this happened, there was the potential that the whole battle – at that point the PCs had the upper hand – to reverse). Alain (using a successful disarm) managed to prevent the summoning.  Alain flicked the charm (which was used to summon the creature) across the room and almost into the hands of Witch of the Wood.  Witch of the Wood (using knowledge Arcana) was unable to identify the item.  In spite of this, the Witch of the Wood activated the item – an uncontrolled and angry large fire elemental). It immediately attacked its summoner (the witch) and knocked her unconscious.  On the plus side, as it was not commanded by the mini-Mal, it returned to the plane of fire and was not a problem for the other PCs.


Without the firepower of the fire elemental, the battle was quickly (ok, using pcon combat rules – not so quickly) won by the players. They captured the mini-Mal and the shard.  They discovered why the mini-Mal had returned to Hommlet (she pursued her sister – who had another shard hidden there).  Discovering the existence of the other shard the players tried to get the seer to give it to them but she refused telling them that they could not keep it safe.  Note this was intended to be a hint to the players that – all good intentions aside – they did not yet have a way to destroy the shards.  The mini-Mal had several scrolls and items that were intended to hint to players that they needed to keep an eye out for clerics of other religions.  And so ended my first run.

 

Run #2 Into the Orcs’ Lair
Theme Goals that were addressed in this run:

  • discover that the other active god is Ronkel
  • get first hints at the specifics of the ceremony
  • Recover artifacts that can be used to destroy shards.

Run high level summery:

This run was to recover an (Aru) artifact from an orc tribe.  The players need to penetrate an orc stronghold, recover the artifact and get out.  The idea here is a stealth mission as the orc tribe is far too powerful for the players to be able to handle.  In addition to the artifact a human Ronkel cleric was working with the tribe.  This cleric gave the players a chance to get more hints about Ronkel’s involvement with the plot.

Players:

Ozymandias (Greg Arzoomanian) 7th level Fay Mage (Mavors)
Aris Blackthorn (Janet Anderson) 6th level Elf Gaia Cleric
Kenworthy Lord (Paul Anderson) 7th level Human Hero (Pantheist)
Phage  (Joe Appel) 6th level Fey Mage (Pantheist)
Jared Lockeson (Tyler Vogt) 6th level Human Hero (Ratri)
Malank (Rob Greer) 5th level Dwarf Cleric (Gaia)

How it unfolded:

Players meet a hobbit Aru cleric and her agent (a hobbit thief) and uncover that an orc tribe has ambushed a caravan that was transporting both a friend of hers and an aru artifact back from frontier lands. This was a straight role-play segment (giving players a chance to learn of the goal and ham up their characters – which all players did very well).  No real hidden information (except for the fact that the Aru’s agent was a thief with guild ties).  It was also a chance for the players to have the agent come along, but none of the players attempted to push this issue (we will see later, this was a good thing) so the NPC thief stayed behind.

The players go to the ambush site and find everything you would expect.  In addition, they found the following clues:

Some of the Orc shields left at the battle site had a sickle painted in blood by a small (human female) finger.  This was a clue that a human cleric was with the party.  The sickle is a symbol for Ronkel. In story, this symbol marked Orc followers of Ronkel that had received his blessing prior to the attack on the caravan.

Some of the items taken were luxury goods.  This was intended to be another clue to tell the players that non orc forces (specifically the female Ronkel cleric) were working with the tribe.

The players follow the orc raiders into the woods and to the edge of centaur lands.  The no trespassing sign is the decaying bodies of several humanoids (orcs, gnolls, goblins), demi-humans, and grafts. Players (if they were inclined would have noted that there were no elves among the demi-human bodies.

The players decided to follow the orc raiders through centaur lands. This led them to an encounter that was intended to be the toughest of the run.  The centaurs in their domain are unbeatable by the players (they will be supported by mage and gaia spells and have numbers and home field advantage).  This encounter did not turn out as hard as I expected for a few reasons.  The 2 key reasons were first; there were no grafts in the party.  The centaurs treat the grafts like orcs and would not give a warning shot or use non-lethal attacks.  Second the players did not have the NPC thief with them (the thief would have panicked and not held fire – even if ordered to do so by the players).  As it turned out the encounter was equivalent to a two groups pointing guns at each other and talking but with no shots being fired.  I had expected this encounter to start with a few shots being traded before any attempt to parley.

The group of players managed to get accepted by the centaurs, which gave them a number of advantages.  For example, they found out about a ceremony that the Orcs were having in a few days.  While this sounded like simply an opportunity to sneak in, it also was a chance to get information (the ceremony was to Ronkel and being run by the new cleric).  In addition the centaur knew of a tunnel system that players could use as a back door to sneak into the orc camp.

At this point (as tends to happen) Players knew the keys to the mission (Greg said that the key was finding where the artifact was, Janet later said that because it just looked like a stick the artifact was very probably with the slaves).  But with the information about the Ronkel cleric, the party sensed that she was important to the run, but did not understand exactly how.  As a result, they decided to go in before the ceremony and take out the cleric (in the hope that she had the artifact).  While this was a brutal combat, there was never much of a chance the Ronkel cleric and her lover would win.  As a dying action the Ronkel cleric cursed one of the players (Jared Lockeson).  This was (as a curse at the con can be) used by other GM’s to make the follow-up runs a lot more interesting for Jared.  After killing the cleric and her lover, the players (wisely) decided to end the run.

Some what if notes to the players: had they observed the ceremony they would have gotten more insight into the Ronkel cult.  In addition, had they run their attack after the ceremony, they would have found the artifact with the cleric (because she would have sacrificed the NPC carrying it at the ceremony).  However, the fight would have been much tougher because at the ceremony she would have been grated an aspect of Ronkel as a minion.  This minion would have been in the fight against her and made it much more dangerous.  And so ended my 2nd run.

 

Run #3 That Lying mage
Theme Goals that were addressed in this run:

  • Provide more information that Ronkel is the active god.
  • Recover artifacts that can be used to destroy shards.

Run High level summary:
The manipulative mage Mordenkinen has found where an artifact of his patron Magus is kept in some lost tombs.  Unfortunately a rival (a Beholder) has stolen his key to the tomb and is on his way to recover the artifact before Mordenkinen can get his own forces there.  Knowing that the players are looking for artifacts, he decides to see if he can trick them into recovering the artifact for him.  He gives them all the information they need to hunt down his rival (and the artifact) and provides the party with a 2 magic items that he thinks will allow him to steal the artifact from the players once they have it.

Players:

Blazing Star (Suzanne Bergeron) 8th level Epon Mavors Cleric
Lefty Darkpaw (Spencer Kipe) 8th level Perrin Hero (Ratri)
Witch of the Wood (Steven Wolfson) 9th level Human Mage (Gaia)
Brolaf Truth Ecclesiastes (Joshua Gabai) 9th level Human Hero (Janda)
Alain G. Leandre Sylvain (John Kliminski) 9th level Cat Hero (Leo)
Kors Damiszoon (Kermit Cuinn) 8th level Perrin Hero (Gaia)

How it unfolded:
The players met with Mordenkinen and were informed of his rather unsavory reputation.  In spite of this, the meeting went smoothly with the players getting all the mission details and accepting Mordenkinen’s trapped magic items with such calm that I started to think that I would be able to trigger them during the run (one item was a teleport scroll, the other was a powerful magic item that was intelligent).

The players first encounters were with scouts from the gnoll tribe in the area.  My intention was to turn this into a nasty fight, but the players bypassed it.  First, they did not wait for the strength of the gnoll tribe to be gathered, second (and more importantly), they realized they did not need to deal with the gnolls.  The gnolls knew the location of the tomb that held the artifact that the players were after, but Mordenkinen’s rival (the beholder and his party) was already there.  So instead of negotiating with the gnolls for the location of the tomb, they started a search for the beholder.

Eventually the players were able to find the tomb where the beholder and his party were extracting the artifact.  A rather nasty fight broke out, but even with the high powers I had given the beholder the players were able to win an impressive victory.  They recovered the artifact, but were smart enough not to use the scroll that Mordenkinen had given them (which he told them would take them back to the city of Delft, instead it would have sent them to a magical prison where they would have been relieved of the artifact and all the other ‘annoying’ magic items they had collected).  With the successful recovery of the artifact this ended my 3rd run.

In looking back on this run, I regret the opportunities that I missed.  The first was not one that I planned, but that developed. The players all met with Mordenkinen except Brolaf who stayed on the street alone holding all the party’s magic items!  I should have at least tried to pick pocket a minor magic item, or better yet, run a good old fashioned mugging.

The next missed opportunity is that 2 party members had shards and were in some stage of corruption by them.  Had the combat with the beholder been more intense, I might have gotten them to use their shard items and there would have been a very good chance that one (or both) would have lost control of their characters for several rounds – this would have made the combat something to remember!

The final opportunity I missed is to trigger Mordenkinen’s final trap.  I had given the characters a very powerful intelligent weapon. My intention was that it would go to a hero (who tend to have the worst will saves).  The weapon was loyal to Mordenkinen and would have tried to take control of the character wielding it (Blazing Star), if it got control, it would have forced the player to seize the artifact and use the scroll to return to Mordenkinen.  As it was, I never triggered this item.  York, the GM of this player’s next run noted the item, but I had not included just what artifact it was after (and that artifact I think was on another run anyway).  So this trap never got used.  Triggered at the right moment this could have lead to a very interesting encounter.

Run #4 Enter the Dragon
Theme Goals that were addressed in this run:

  • Recover artifacts that can be used to destroy shards.

Run high level summery:

This run was to recover an (Mavros) artifact from a dragon’s horde.  An old and powerful dragon is kept calm by a dragon song lyrist who servers as his emissary.  But this calm has been threatened recently when a thief has attempted to steal the Mavor’s artifact.  The players are sent to get the artifact (the method of ‘get’ was left up to them, they could kill the dragon and recover the artifact or negotiate for it).  At all costs the players needed to avoid angering the dragon or this would cause tremendous collateral damage to the surrounding towns.

Players:
Vel Rille (Ayse Gursoy) 9th level Fey Aru Cleric
Malank (Rob Greer) 9th level Dwarf Gaia Cleric
Otto Streamswimmer (Tim Sullivan) 10th level Perrin Hero (Gaia)
Brolaf Truth Ecclesiastes (Joshua Gabai) 10th level Human Hero (Janda)
Zhindyra (Tom Carman) 9th level Elf Mage (Pantheist)

How it unfolded:
The players met with their patron who wanted the Mavor’s artifact found and returned.  The item was currently believed to be part of a dragon’s hoard.  She told the players that she had hired a thief who specialized in stealing from dragons but had lost contact.

It was at this point that problems started to develop.  I designed this run so that there were 2 ways to recover the artifact: fight and kill the dragon or negotiate with the dragon.  While the party decided at this point that they wanted to negotiate with the dragon, I did not get the feeling that everyone was really committed to that.  While the group may not have been on the same page as far as the plan, what this group did a good job of was playing their characters to the max!

The party tracked down the hoard stealer’s front man (or woman in this case) and after convincing her that they were not a danger (the hoard thief feared that the dragon my still seek revenge) brought them to the hoard stealer.  The key information that the hoard stealer had for the players was that the dragon’s real liar was not the tower (which everyone else assumed it to be).  He also told them about the dragon’s emissary (but not her role in keeping the dragon calm).

With this information the party headed out to dragon’s domain.  They joined a caravan on its way to offer tribute to the dragon and met the dragon’s hobgoblin servants.  They told the hobgoblins that they wished to negotiate with the dragon where the hobgoblin told them they would summon the dragon’s Emissary and she would meet with them in the morning.

The party discussed what they wanted with the emissary and she warned them that the item they wanted was dear to the dragon and any trade would not be a bargain.  The players were unconcerned however.  Lastly the emissary told the players that her word (as a representative for the dragon) was only good for things the dragon received (negotiation of tribute for example).  For a trade they would need to deal face to face with the dragon.  At this point, I attempted to placate the players that were disappointed that no battle was planned by offering a chance for the players to demonstrate their power, but it fell flat (players who wanted to fight, wanted to fight a dragon!).

The negotiations with the greedy dragon the next morning almost became a disaster.  One player made the mistake of upping the players’ current offer (for the Mavor’s artifact) with another artifact! Brolaf realized that this was a loss as far as the run was concerned (this is where it is critical to understand the con and it’s plot – the goal was to recover artifacts to destroy shards, trading 1 artifact and several powerful magic items for another artifact would have been a loss).  He attempted to convince the dragon to trade for something else, but once the artifact was on the table, the dragon wanted it.  The dragon finally in anger decided to end the barter and fly away (basically: no deal).   It was at this point that Brolaf decided to attack the dragon!

I am not sure how many players I have killed in my time as a con GM but the number is small (I unlike many other GM’s at the con have never had a TPK and this is the closest to that I think I have ever come).  While I admit that it was intended to allow players to use combat as an option to achieve this run, the idea was they would find the dragon’s lair, get surprise, and get a good solid round of damage before the dragon could counter attack.  Attacking the dragon on a lark, with it ready (it had all it’s magic items on, and a number of spells cast before it went to the negotiation) and it’s large hobgoblin army surrounding the players was not what was intended!

Still players can get a little heady with the power that a high level character and his magic items brings.  I tried hard to make it clear to Brolaf (the only player so far to attack) that this was not going to be a combat, but a massacre and to his credit he found a solution. He used his attack as a chance to demonstrate the power of his magic item and gestured for the dragon to take it.  The dragon found it clever and bold and agreed to take the magic item (in addition to several more) as a trade for the artifact.  So ended my final run.

 

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