Friday, June 3, 2011

The Rescue

Toral Powerless DP
Mollie Powerless DP
Athydas MU
Gail MU
Yestlick MU
    Janis hireling
    le bouche hireling
    Pita hireling
    Mika hireling
    Fabrino hireling
Derick F
    Jimbo hireling
    Zigfried trained baboon
Luke F
Sarai Rogue

The party is in Mont St Brise, the City of Pilgrims, their ship has been quarantined the crew and pilot incarcerated, their cargo confiscated.  They find that the prisoners are being held in the shrine of St Letholdus, the pilgrimage destination in the city.   They run into Luke and Sarai, brother and sister, whose mother is also being held for witchery.  The prisoners will be burned in a week.

The party follows the throng of pilgrims up the main processional and into the shrine to get a sense of the place.  The shrine is a three story, damaged keep with two entrances, pilgrims enter by one and exit by the other.

After being prevented from scouting the castle courtyard, Luke reveals he has an inborn ability to become invisible and proceeds to explore the shrine itself.  He goes down a set of stairs and finds a dungeon just below the shrine.  His mother is there, along with the ship's crew, the heretic Isabelle and the laodah (ships pilot).

There is also small sewage grate set in the floor.  He decides to see if he can exit via it. In the noisome darkness he has a hard time navigating, turning one way then another, at one point passing withing breathing distance of a silent, squatting figure.  He eventually finds his way out a grate, into the moat.

Mollie, Sarai and Yestlick decide to circumnavigate the castle.  They find several tall trees next to the walls and several sewage grates emptying into the filthy moat. They see Luke as he wades out of a grate.

After much planning, the party decides a two prong approach: one group will enter via the sewers while the other makes a loud distraction.

Sarai unlocks a grate, the team enters the sewer, finds the passage up into the dungeon with some trouble and begins unlocking the prisoner's cells.  G had learned enough of the sailors' language to know how to say "go down, bastards."  There was some tension about whether Isabelle would come because she seemed happy to martyr herself.  Her decision to escape with the rest made the party very happy.

Above ground, Toral was winding up into a sermon about the falseness of this shrine.  Z turns himself into a wolf as part of the play.  The whole scene is being watched by Sarai through a weird eye-in-egg so the teams can coordinate themselves.  Toral is winning over the crowd as the guards close in.

Back in the sewer, Mollie is leading the long line of prisoners to freedom when they come to a dead end (first complication) much confusion ensues.  A figure comes out of the darkness at the back of the group where G is.  He misses with a thrown dagger and then it is upon him, clawing and biting.  He is paralyzed and the figure begins eating the flesh from his face.

The rest of the sewer team rushes back towards the fight but isn't very successful.  Suddenly a light blossoms in the tunnel as Isabelle, heretic worshipper of St Cecily, drives the foul thing off.  The team figures out they can dig through the loose earth that has caved in their exit, Luke and Yestlick drag the stiff G.  The prisoners pour out into the moat.

Back above ground Toral is delivering a stemwinder (and the video being Facebooked) when a wagon begins leaving the castle by pushing right through the crowd (second complication).  The party finds the wagon is loaded with corpses (of the ill who have died) and Toral's implications that they have been killed by the Order of St Letholdus drives the crowd wild.  they begin attacking the guards as Athydas puts the wagon driver to sleep.  He also puts one of the draft horses to sleep.  He jumps down to cut the sleeping horse free as Z and his hirelings run into the shrine to snatch some of the offertory gold.  Finally, they jump on the wagon and proceed out the gate just as the straggle of prisoners is coming around in the moat.  Those all jump in the wagon, ad furious descent down the processional ends up with the party being dumped in the sea.  The still-paralyzed G is helped aboard and the party hastily sets sail in their ship.

Unknown to them, their sacks with 12,000 silver pieces were one floor up in the shrine.

Some Thoughts

If you take anything from this, ladies and gentlemen, it should be that a DM can make plenty of big mistakes and everyone still have a rip-roaring time.  So, learn from your mistakes, but don't let the fear of making them keep you from DMing.

I'll post next with some specific ideas about running a heist, but a few more general thoughts on last Friday's session:

10 is too many people playing all at once, at least for that space.

I learned from watching I Hit it With My Axe to give one-time visitors something special to give them some spotlight.  What I have learned though is don't give new players information that will be important to the party.  They have too much to absorb as it is.  They will forget.  They won't tell the party when they need too.  Give them powers or things.  Giving Luke's player the ability to turn invisible for 30 minutes once a day was great, he became pivotal early on (it also gave a reason to get involved with the party-- his mother was being burned because she had powers too).  Giving Sarai's players the eggs of Chinweike also worked well, making her important once the heist started.  Oh, I also told her she spoke Arabic.  She was thrilled when she read the magic word that activated Z's turban of climbing (finally).

If you want to give information that will incorporate new players, give it to the old hands who already know that these new players will need to be woven in somehow.  I guess you could say they are more meta savy, where new players are trying to figure out the imagined world itself.

Big d30 rule for the win again.  Toral chose to roll it, got a 30, and the crowd of leprous amputees began assaulting all the guards in their fervor at Toral's sermon.

I seemed to handle two separated groups okay, switching them back and forth quickly.

I could have done a better job of trying to draw in the quietest 3 players.  I did some, but with the volume of people in the room and all the stuff I was juggling there were stretches that they were too quiet.

The players totally misunderstood my portrayal of the shrine.  I guess they thought a D&D shrine would have sick folk go in one door and come out well from the other door.  I'm thinking that divine healing is as rare in my world as magic use.  They thought the whole city was an evil scam.  I was trying to depict it how I envisioned a real medieval pilgrim city might function. Through that lens, Toral's actions seem almost evil: he's fomenting revolt and violence against dedicated Allfatherans etc.

Now the party is back in the same ship, with the same crew, and almost the same passengers, minus their cash.  They are doing it wrong, haha.  I'm frantically trying to prepare for where they might go next.  I'm working on a city dependent on slave labor, with canals, and an invisible dungeon.


  1. Awesome. I love this:
    The shrine is a three story, damaged keep

    ...that gives me a great sense of reality about the whole place, right there. I'm also gratified that they got to knock over the big shrine through surprise and moving quickly (which going upstairs for the silver probably would have messed up). They must have a good, convenient ship to sail off just like that ;)

    And leaving without the cash is a gift to you, the harassed DM. Fantastic.

    Now they have an Arabic-speaker, would it be worth going back to the Alchemist's island, I wonder? Or even trying to find an Arabic-speaking alchemist?

  2. I was entirely too lenient, but the end of the night, with the wagon racing down the cobbled processional before crashing into the sea was so cinematic they all loved it.
    The Arabic speaker had to go back to Indiana, alas. The party just made it into port of the city of Euplolis last night. This sea voyage they encountered their first dragon!