Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Roger Brings the Pa(i)n, or, the Brewery Crew Finishes the Banshee's Tower

Well, that was fun.

The Sunday night Meetup game at the brewery went down after a hiatus for the local con. I had two folks signed up, along with my stalwart coworker and my shorter half. Chris continued to run with Frederick, the pocket-picker, and Seana ran Jax, a slightly befuddled barbarian with a sword that whispers to her. Michael, the solo Meetup attendee was another RPG first-timer, but eager to dive in. I ran through a quick character overview, and he responded, "Can I just play someone dumb?" Of course. Michael grabbed a dwarf off the deck and stated, I've been learning how to cook with cast iron, so he's a cook. Can he be armed with a heavy frying pan? I crossed "battle axe" out on the character sheet and wrote "Frying pan." Yup.

Chris and I had previously discussed finishing exploration of the tower space, and I set up a bit of a scenario for clearing the remainder of the space. Since Chris/Frederick was the only returning player, I let him take lead. The party re-entered the fort compound, and cautiously ascended the steps. Hearing scuttling in the rubble, they came upon three giant centipedes defending their nests. The party laid on with blade and pan, while taking a couple of bites. Frederick failed his poison save, so felt slow and sickly the rest of the day. After bashing the last centipede to pulp, the party found the dragon skull, and investigated the commander's quarters. Frederick slipped the found dagger into his belt. Nothing to see here.

Jax ascended the steps to the roof, and was taken by surprise by the eye-level eagle. As previously, the eagle paused, and Jax respectfully backed away, giving the bird her space. The eagle bluffed and squawked, watching the retreat. 

The party returned to the ground floor, discussing if there was anything else to see, when they heard hoofs approaching. The group retreated into the tower, pulling closed the double doors to hide and spy. A pair of riders, a well-equipped soldier and a slight man in a travelling cloak rode into the courtyard, looking about and dismounting. Frederick noticed that for the man's rough travel clothing, he wore a fine pair of boots. Roger's sharp dwarven ears picked up the two discussing something about family land and the old tower. The party discussed course of action, and Frederick chose to fire a warning shot at the two men's feet. The soldier immediately imposed himself in front of his companion and called out for the apparent bandits to show themselves. The party called out as to the men's identities, and the slight man identified himself as Victor Matuli. Matuli was the name associated with a signet ring found during a prior adventure, as well as with the tower.

Frederick proceeded to do something rather unthiefly, and tossed out the found signet ring to the two men. Cravos, the guard, retrieved it, and showed it to Victor, who displayed a matching ring on his own hand. The party emerged from the tower, explaining that they weren't bandits, but had cleared bandits from the tower, as well as other threats. Oh, and you have an eagle on your roof.

Victor recounted the tower's history and fall, and asked the party to guide him through the ruins. He was hopeful to determine the fate of relatives, and perhaps recover an heirloom. The party begrudgingly took on the tour guide role, and showed him about, descending into the cellar chamber to inspect a few unentered rooms. They happened upon a itinerant viper, which Jax and Roger easily dispatched, Roger saving the skin for potholders.

The party struggled to open the door of a locked cell, with neither picking or brute force succeeding. This alerted the remaining fungal wraith (who I'd forgotten to sic on them last session). It waded into the center of the party, clubbing away. The party fought back but their blows went wide. Roger attempted to cast oil at it, but missed, hitting the wall. Frederick tossed his torch, hoping to ignite the hazard, which was successful in setting the wall on fire and filling the air with fumed and choking spores. Frederick failed his second saving throw of the day and ineffectually coughed his way through the remaining combat. Some more back and forth (the wraith missed with its paralyzing filaments), and they slayed the hazard. 

Finally, the party pried open the cell door and found the body of one of the tower's last defenders, who Victor was able to identify as a distant relative by his armor and a signet ring in a tube containing a deed to the tower. Victor shared the doomed fellow's coins and gems with the party in thanks and returned a signet ring, letting them know that if they encountered any of his family on their travels, that they would be given hospitality.

The party and their two new acquaintances returned to town. Frederick limping and coughing, but otherwise generally intact, and Roger with a freshly-seasoned battle-pan. 


OK, post-session thoughts. 

Again, I'm pleasantly surprised at how much brand-new players tend to walk in with no preconceptions and just lean into whatever they come up with. The bare-bones of the retro gaming may help with that, or I should just give people the benefit of the doubt that they simply need to imagine and play. 

With three players, everyone got a role or good moment. Pan swinging, eagle baiting, noble negotiating. 

A couple things overlooked: We'd lost Jax's character sheet, so i ginned up a replacement before the game. I forgot to add Goober the War-Dog. I'll need to put him back in play, although it didn't make any difference for the session. Also, we always joke about Jaz collecting medicinal herbs, and then forgot to use said trait to counter the various poisons.  Chalk that up to an infrequent player.

The dice again informed the environment, with wandering critters, responses, and saving throws. 

I had set up the encounter beforehand, knowing that the session would be brief if the party had simply cleared the tower. So there was a little railroading on my part, and getting to throw a squidgy monster at people is always fun. With the sessions beginning to have some loose cohesion, having touchstones to return to, or prompts for future events and encounters will be good to keep in the quiver.

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