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9/14/2016 1:09 am  #1


Philotomy Campaign Ref Notes

I'll be kicking off a Hyperborea game sometime this week, and thought I'd record my ref notes, here. (Mostly for me, but also to share -- I don't think any of my players are on the forums. If you are, you're a sneaky bastard or a sly minx and shouldn't read this.)

PCs (all first level) include:
Katarria Naintos the Huntress: N Ranger (from Khromarium, but spends her time in the borderlands)
Vennor the Merciless: LE Cataphract (from the Brigands Bay area, but had to flee to Khromarium)
Riona Inghean Kiaran of the Bone Paw: N(C) Kimmeri-Kelt Witch-Doctor (tribe massacred in a clan war)
Silxa Rhletos the Silent: CE Assassin (from Khromarium, guild-member)
Xulldar Tarros the Alabaster: CE Pyromancer (from Khromarium, guild-member, albino)

Initial adventure will be an adaptation of James Boney's Idol of the Orcs, set in the coastal hill area to the west of Khromarium. Play will begin in a village located in those hills: Ketill Manor.

Ketill Manor
Population ~200, approximate 1 square mile of settled area
2 Noble Households (~25)
15 Businesses (~75)
20 Farming Households (~100)
1 Temple (primary: Xathoqqa - 4 clergy)
1 Shrine (Ullr - 2 clergy)
1 Reeve (Einarr Oddason, oathman to Lord Ketill)

Ketill Manor is ruled by Lord Ketill Hersteinsson, also known as Ketill the Spry or Lord Gouty (neither of these used to his face). Lord Ketill is an aging Viking well past his prime, now obese and prone to chronic flare-ups of gout which healers have been unable to cure. He has few household warriors (five, plus his Reeve, Einarr), these days, and is not well liked by the commoners of his estate, nor by the nobles of Khromarium.  He has one (living) youthful son, Helgi Ketilsson (F1), and also boasts a pretty, young wife (a Kimmeri-Kelt).

One other noble household is established, here, that of Fell Dilltos, who has given his oath to Lord Ketill. Lord Dilltos is better liked: he is younger, more attractive, and dresses and speaks well. He is also quite well off, and a sly, scheming bastard. (Think Littlefinger from GoT, but not as influential.)

Businesses:
Baker (Yannrai)
Barber (Nall)
Beer-seller (Qill)
Bookbinder (!) (Tullrahn)
Fishmonger (Xellrhal)
Furrier (Gunnkamm)
Jeweler (Rhil)
Maidservant (Rhilxannia)
Mason (Nil)
Mercer (Rhilpai)
Old-Clothes-Seller (Dallsamm)
Pastrycook (Qull)
Shoemaker (Vaizall)
Tailor (Qannsamm)
Tavern: The Doomed Minotaur (Vonnrhil) - so named for a cracked "minotaur" skull over the door (actually a bull's skull)

There is no Inn, so hospitality must be sought among the households of the settlement. There is no smith-for-hire: such tasks are handled by the farmers or by individuals serving the noble households.  Several of the businesses in Ketill Manor have connections in Khromarium, proper, but few of the businesses are very prosperous.

Adventure Hooks:

Main Hook:  Lord Ketill has sent word that he needs assistance.  Several outlying farmsteads on his manor have been raided by brigands during the night. He believes the brigands are hiding in the hill-caves farther to the west. He will reward those who can bring the brigands to justice. Due to his unpopularity, little help has been offered, so the PCs are among the few who have answered his plea.

Ref notes on main hook: The situation is a bit more dire than Lord Ketill has publicly broadcast. The farms were not simply raided: all the members of two farmsteads disappeared on two separate nights. No bodies. Ketill is unwilling to send his last men in search of the raiders (who are not mere brigands, but orcs hiding in a cave system), but believes he maneuvered Fell Dilltos into risking his resources, instead.  Fell Dilltos hired a group of mercenaries for this purpose, and sent them into the hills with orders to do nothing except secretly leave the area; Dilltos is trying to make Ketill look bad and increase his unpopularity while seeming to be shouldering the responsibility for the manor's defense.  Unknown to him, Fell Dilltos's sell-swords have not left the area: they are also hiding in the hills in a ruin they discovered.

Of the PCs, Vennor the Cataphract and Katarria the Ranger are the only two who have come to answer the call for assistance without other motives, although they have also heard rumors associated with the area. Vennor has heard that gold veins can be found in the caves of these hills. Katarria has heard that in times before the Green Death, the masters of these hills worshiped demons.

Riona the Witch-Doctor has been led here by visions. Her tribe (of the Two Cat Clan) was massacred by the warriors of the Black Boar tribe, in part because her visions showed her a lioness triumphing over a great, evil-looking pig.  After her tribe's defeat, she was cast out by the survivors, and her visions led her south to the place where the stone-dwellers live.  She continues to dream about the lioness slaying the boar, but now that she has arrived in the stone-dwellers place, the spirits have been silent. She bides her time and waits, hoping for more visions from the spirits.

During his studies in the Guild libraries, Xulldar the Pyromancer came across the fragment of an old journal which described a magical chalice of great potency. It notes that the chalice can be found within a cave system in these hills. The journal's author spoke of failing to recover the cup (which gave drinkers increased magical potency) from the "servants of The Gern," but of returning to "his tower" with a "prize of a different sort."  When Xulldar heard that Lord Ketill sought help with brigands hiding in the hills, he seized upon it as his chance to find and recover the magic chalice.

Lastly, Silxa the Assassin has been sent to Ketill Manor on a guild mission: she is to slay a man named Dallsamm the Clothier. The guild provided her with a vial of digestive poison to use, if she chooses. She travels in the guise of a sell-sword answering Lord Ketill's call for assistance.  (Unknown to any save the guild masters, this assassination was commissioned by Qannsamm the Tailor, who secretly hates Dallsamm.)  While she wishes to complete her mission, Silxa is also pleased to be out from under the direct influence of the Guild, and would welcome an opportunity to line her pockets with recovered bringand-plunder, if the risk looks to be a good bet.
 
The PCs can recruit help from within the settlement. There are up to nine able-bodied farmers and farmers' sons who are willing to take action against the threat if they feel comfortable with the leadership and think their families will be taken care of if the worst should occur.  If the PCs lack funds to recruit, Fell Dilltos will step in with an offer of silver "for the good of the people."  

Dill, F0, MV 40, AC 8 (padded), FA 0, HP 3, AT 1, SV 16, ML 9, spear (1-6)
Ralltai, F0, MV 40, AC 7 (leather), FA 0, hp 5, AT 1, SV 16, ML 9, spear (1-6)
Zarr, F0, MV 40, AC 8 (padded), FA 0, hp 5, AT 1, SV 16, ML 9, axe (1-6)
Qarr, F0, MV 40, AC 8 (padded), FA 0, hp 3, AT 1, SV 16, ML 9, axe (1-6)
Renn, F0, MV 30, AC 5 (mail), FA 0, hp 6, AT 1, SV 16, ML 9, sword (1-8/1-10)
Xill, F0, MV 40, AC 7 (leather), FA 0, hp 4, AT 1, SV 16, ML 9, wood axe (1-8)
Nillconn, F0, MV 40, AC 8 (padded), FA 0, hp 6, AT 1, SV 16, ML 9, spear (1-6)
Gill, F0, MV 40, AC 8 (padded), FA 0, hp 3, AT 1, SV 16, ML 9, axe (1-6)
Ullgisl Bleiksson, F0, MV 30, AC 5 (mail) FA 0, hp 6, AT 1, SV 16, ML 9, sword (1-8/1-10)

In addition, Helgi Kettilsson wants to go, but has been forbidden by his father. PCs might be able to convince Kettill (unlikely) or convince Helgi to disobey (much easier). If Helgi accompanies them and dies, Ketill will be most wroth.









 

Last edited by Philotomy (9/14/2016 1:14 am)

 

9/14/2016 2:18 pm  #2


Re: Philotomy Campaign Ref Notes

*Yoink*

Totally stealing this idea for my ASSH campaign. Not sure which one. Maybe the one with the kids, but will have to adjust since it looks like the girl isn't as interested as she used to be.


What? Me worry?
 

9/14/2016 3:13 pm  #3


Re: Philotomy Campaign Ref Notes

Cool; glad you think it's interesting enough to steal! In that case, I'll add a few more details. 

Idol of the Orcs is a cavern orc-lair with a dungeon beneath. The dungeon area was the base of a group that worshipped a demon known as "The Gezn".  In my game, "The Gezn" is a demon swine.  The unknown mage who wrote the journal that the Pyromancer found went to the caves/dungeon to recover the magic chalice (which is still in the dungeon, and detailed in the module), but failed. He did, however, come away with The Gezn, magically bound and imprisoned.  He took the imprisoned demon to his tower in Khromarium.

His tower was located on the site which is now "The Silvery Eel" (see Rats in the Walls). I'll be placing some clues in the dungeon level of Idol of the Orcs which could lead the PCs to the site of the Silvery Eel.  The demon in that adventure and "The Gezn" are one and the same.

     Thread Starter
 

9/14/2016 7:28 pm  #4


Re: Philotomy Campaign Ref Notes

Good stuff! I've used some of James Boney's adventures in my campaign, too. I like his work.


Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea - A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Fantasy
 

9/15/2016 12:48 am  #5


Re: Philotomy Campaign Ref Notes

Ghul wrote:

Good stuff! I've used some of James Boney's adventures in my campaign, too. I like his work.

Yes, me too.  To be honest, I was hesitant to use orcs as the bad guys for the initial adventure, but I decided that I could introduce their demonic heritage this way, and it seemed to fit with the demons in these modules. In this case, the orcs are fairly recently come to this area, and are grabbing slaves to sell.

     Thread Starter
 

9/18/2016 10:07 pm  #6


Re: Philotomy Campaign Ref Notes

The players had their first session. As is often the case, they spent a lot more time in town than I expected them to, but we did manage to get into the cave system and get some combat encounters played.

The PCs met many of the significant NPCs in Ketill Manor, including Lord Ketill, Helgi Ketilsson, Fell Dilltos, and Einar Oddason.  They first scouted the raided farms: no significant clues were found, there, other than a few small blood-stains.  The PCs surmised that the raiders didn't kill anyone, but perhaps kidnapped them.  The ranger examined the surrounding terrain with an eye for how she might have mounted such a raid and searched those areas for tracks. She was successful, and the PCs found the remains of an old cold camp where the raiders had gathered. The ranger was able to follow some signs back to a sheltered valley in the hills, where she located a hidden cave entrance. Little daylight remained, so the PCs decided to return to the manor and see if they could recruit more help for an expedition to the caves the next morning.

Arriving at the Doomed Minotaur tavern, the PCs found it packed with locals, including Einar Oddason, Helgi Ketillsson, and Fell Dilltos. To make a long story short, they recruited a bunch of stout farmers to assist them, as well as Helgi Ketillson (who is going in defiance of his father's orders against it). Fell Dilltos encouraged the participation of Helgi, and also made a big public display of supporting the manor, offering a to pay a man-price in silver to the families of any farmers, should the worst occur.

The next day, the PCs and the farmers traveled to the cave system.  The day was partly cloudy, but not rainy or overcast, so light was plentiful. The Ranger and the Assassin scouted the entrance and discovered brass pot "alarms" set up in the concealing brush; they removed these without incident, then went on to scout the actual cave mouth (more of a slit descending beneath the earth).  Sunlight filtered in, showing a natural fissure descending beneath the hillside. They snuck inside as far as they could without using torches, and both heard and saw a couple of orc guards at a widening in the cave, where there appeared to be some sort of intersection. The dim light glinted off a gong hanging on the cave wall.  

The two PCs decided to try and eliminate the guards, but their attempt went sour; the orcs shouted, yelled, and fought back when attacked. The Ranger managed to slay her orc quickly, but the assassin had trouble with her well-muscled guard, who managed to strike the gong with his spear-butt while fending off her attacks.

Outside the cave, the Vennor the Cataphract heard the shouts and sounds of battle, and led a charge of spearmen into the cave. His own spear skewered the remaining orc guard, and he hastily reformed his men, pulling the formation back from the intersection as he heard the sounds and yells of approaching defenders.

The first wave of defenders rounded the corner and ran into the bristling spear formation.  The PCs were lucky with their rolls, killing several orcs immediately, with no losses of their own.  As the melee continued, Helgi Ketilsson took a wound, but fought on.  The orcs broke, so Vennor led the PCs' force in pursuit, cutting their enemies down before they could make good their escape.

A second wave of orc defenders, accompanied by several wolves, arrived at this point. Again, the PCs did well in the combat, primarily because Xulldar the Pyromancer threw a vial of incendiary oil into the charging orcs, scoring a direct hit on the orc he perceived to be the leader.  Again, after a few rounds of melee, several orcs fell, a wolf was slain, and the PCs' enemies broke and ran.

We left off there.  The PCs have been lucky with their rolls, so far, and have slain a large number of orcs without taking a single casualty (although there have been wounds, of course).

Last edited by Philotomy (9/23/2016 3:23 am)

     Thread Starter
 

9/19/2016 6:05 am  #7


Re: Philotomy Campaign Ref Notes

Philotomy wrote:

The players had their first session. As is often the case, they spent a lot more time in town than I expected them to, but we did manage to get into the cave system and get some combat encounters played.

The PCs met many of the significant NPCs in Ketill Manor, including Lord Ketill, Helgi Ketilsson, Fell Dilltos, and Einar Oddason.  They first scouted the raided farms: no significant clues were found, there, other than a few small blood-stains.  The PCs surmised that the raiders didn't kill anyone, but perhaps kidnapped them.  The ranger examined the surrounding terrain with an eye for how she might have mounted such a raid, and searched those areas for tracks. She was successful, and the PCs found the remains of an old cold camp where the raiders had gathered. The ranger was able to follow some difficult signs back to a sheltered valley in the hills, where she located a hidden cave entrance. Little daylight remained, so the PCs decided to return to the manor and see if they could recruit more help for an expedition to the caves the next morning.

Arriving at the Doomed Minotaur tavern, the PCs found it packed with locals, including Einar Oddason, Helgi Ketillsson, and Fell Dilltos. To make a long story short, they recruited a bunch of stout farmers to assist them, as well as Helgi Ketillson (who is going in defiance of his father's orders against it). Fell Dilltos encouraged the participation of Helgi, and also made a big public display of supporting the manor, offering a to pay a man-price in silver to the families of any farmers, should the worst occur.

The next day, the PCs and the farmers traveled to the cave system.  The day was partly cloudy, but not rainy or overcast, so light was plentiful. The Ranger and the Assassin scouted the entrance and discovered brass pots "alarms" set up in the concealing brush; they removed these without incident, then went on to scout the actual cave entrance.  Sunlight filtered in, showing a natural fissure descending beneath the hillside. They snuck inside as far as they could without using torches, and both heard and saw a couple of orc guards at a widening in the cave, where there appeared to be some sort of intersection. They also saw light glinting off a gong hanging on the cave wall.  

The two PCs decided to try and eliminate the guards, but their attempted went sour, and the orcs shouted, yelled, and fought back when they were attacked. The Ranger managed to slay her orc quickly, but the assassin had trouble with her well-muscled guard, who managed to strike the gong with his spear-butt while fending her off.

Outside the cave, the Vennor the Cataphract heard the shouts and sounds of battle, and led a charge of spearmen into the cave. His own spear skewered the remaining orc guard, and he hastily reformed his men, pulling the formation back from the intersection and hearing the sounds and yells of approaching defenders.

The first wave of defenders rounded the corner and ran into the bristling spear formation.  The PCs were lucky with their rolls, killing several orcs immediately, with no losses of their own.  As the melee continued, Helgi Ketilsson took a wound, but fought on.  The orcs broke, so Vennor led the PCs' force in pursuit, cutting their enemies down before they could make good their escape.

A second wave of orc defenders, accompanied by several wolves, arrived at this point. Again, the PCs did well in the combat, primarily because Xulldar the Pyromancer threw a vial of incendiary oil into the charging orcs, scoring a direct hit on the orc he perceived to be the leader.  Again, after a few rounds of melee, several orcs fell, a wolf was slain, and the PCs' enemies broke and ran.

We left off there.  The PCs have been lucky with their rolls, so far, and have slain a large number of orcs without taking a single casualty (although there have been wounds, of course).

This was a fun read thanks for sharing!
 


"Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,"
 

9/20/2016 5:22 am  #8


Re: Philotomy Campaign Ref Notes

What an excellent start! Thank you for sharing your notes. I hope you find the time to continue to do so!


Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea - A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Fantasy
 

9/22/2016 11:15 am  #9


Re: Philotomy Campaign Ref Notes

Looking good, Jason!  Thanks for sharing this :D

Are the players the same crew from your Wild Coast Greyhawk group, or a new mix?

Allan.

 

9/22/2016 7:17 pm  #10


Re: Philotomy Campaign Ref Notes

Fun! Thanks for posting, man. I'm stealing this town (and the hooks) and buying that module. Sounds like you guys are off to a good start. I hope you keep posting the journal. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/cool.png


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
 

9/23/2016 3:26 am  #11


Re: Philotomy Campaign Ref Notes

Thanks. I'll try to keep posting the journal entries, but I can't promise (I have a poor track history in keeping up with such things).

Allan, this is mostly the same group. I did get a few complaints that we were switching campaigns and starting with 1st level PCs, again, but they got over it.  Besides, I don't intend to completely abandon the Greyhawk game.

     Thread Starter
 

9/26/2016 12:28 am  #12


Re: Philotomy Campaign Ref Notes

A quick update, as we got in another session this weekend:

We had stopped with the PCs still in the dungeon, so the new session started where we left off. The party advanced their formation deeper into the caves, following a blood trail from the fleeing orcs.  They penetrated fairly deep into the tunnel system, locating a few side caverns which they gave brief attention (mostly to confirm they appeared to be dead ends and didn't hold orcs waiting to ambush them). While reforming after checking out these side caves, the Assassin (who was on lookout duty) reported hearing movement from the tunnel where the blood-trail led. The PC hastily resumed their spear formation as several waves of arrows came out of the darkness, downing Dill, one of their farmer spearmen.  Vennor (the Cataphract) led an immediate spear charge down the tunnel, and melee was soon resumed.

This time, the PCs were not rolling as well. Their front rank had better armor than the orcs they faced, which helped a lot, but the combat was a grinding, cramped clash of shield walls in the dark tunnel. Although the PCs and their stout-hearted farmers did well (and it's good that Vennor enjoys a high Cha), the numbers of their orc foes started to tell. (There are a LOT of orcs in here for a 1st level party.)  Vennor, perceived to be the leader, received a lot of attention from the orcs and took several wounds. The leader of the orcs in this engagement was a large creature wearing ill-made armor and a plumed helm (one of the orc lieutenants), but that orc stayed out of the front rank.  At length, Vennor, down to three hit points, decided to go for broke. He took advantage of the deaths of two orcs in the front rank and flung himself into the disrupted orc formation, dropping his spear in favor of his axe, and trying to reach the orc commander.  Vennor was supported by a mailed swordsman-farmer named Renn, as well as the Ranger.  Together, they hacked their way to the orc commander and cut him down. Vennor hooked the orc's shield with his axe, pulling it aside, and Renn struck the killing blow. (I decided to elevate Renn to a 1st level Fighter if he survived the battle.)

The death of their leader broke the orcs' morale, again, so they fled.  Again, the PCs pursued, but soon found themselves in a cave where their enemies turned as there was a dead-end, of sorts.  Some orcs were climbing a ladder, where there seemed to be a larger cave or gallery, above. The PCs caught sight of another tall, armored orc shouting commands from that upper gallery. Badly wounded, himself, and leading many wounded farmers, Vennor realized there were too many orcs to engage, again.  He called a retreat, rather than a charge. The demoralized orcs the PCs had chased were in no rush to pursue, so the PCs made good their escape from the caves, carrying the unfortunate Dill with them.

The PCs returned to Ketill Manor, where they sought treatment for their wounds and reported their findings to Lord Ketill and his Reeve. Renn survived, so I elevated him to 1st level Fighter, and the PCs sang his praise, as well as that of Helgi Ketilsson (much to Fell Dilltos's annoyance).

Lord Ketill was disturbed to hear that the "brigands" were orcs, not men. There was some discussion of laying a trap in one of those outlying farmhouses (pretended to be asleep and waiting for raiding orcs, like Beowulf or 13th Warrior), but the PCs decided not to try this, as they needed rest and healing.  It was decided that all outlying families would shelter in the manor house of Lord Ketil, and men would keep watch in the night. The PCs announced they intended to return to the cave the next day to renew their assault on the orcs. While Lord Ketill did not offer to supply any additional men, Fell Dilltos said he would send some of his own oath-men to accompany them.  

In the night, the outlying farm buildings were put to the torch, but the orcs did not attack the manor or the village, itself.

DM notes:

Fell Dilltos has told his oath-men that he would not weep if Helgi Ketilsson were to fall in battle.  I haven't decided exactly what the orcs are going to do. They have lost many warriors. Their god-idol has told them to wait for the humans in the caves is certain doom, and that they should leave the caves (this advice makes sense when considering how/why the idol is speaking to them -- detailed in the module), but flight is distasteful to the orc chief, and he has nowhere to go. He has been thinking about the idol's words, and is wondering if he should send a lieutenant and a force of orcs to hide outside the caves ("leave the caves") with orders to follow the humans when they re-enter the tunnels.  This would cut off their retreat and trap them, and would also follow the idol's command to "leave the caves to avoid certain doom."

As a side note, if it weren't for experienced players, men-at-arms, and morale rules, I think the number of orcs in the lair would probably TPK many low-level groups. If you run Idol of the Orcs, keep this in mind.  As it is, though, my group is liking the challenge. They also liked the "classic tale" aspect of how the scenario is working out. The discussion about feigning sleep like in Beowulf got all sorts of grins and chuckles around the table.

Probably thinking about the 13th Warrior movie, the players have also mentioned searching the valley and surrounding area for another way into the caves. As written in the module, that doesn't exist. It might be worth adding something like that, though.

 

Last edited by Philotomy (9/26/2016 12:44 am)

     Thread Starter
 

9/28/2016 10:34 am  #13


Re: Philotomy Campaign Ref Notes

Good stuff, thanks for sharing the details, Jason! :D

Allan.

 

9/28/2016 12:05 pm  #14


Re: Philotomy Campaign Ref Notes

Gosh, you really have me curious about this adventure, PJ. I love Boney's other works, so I should pick this up as well. No doubt part of my interest is derived from how you are running it for your crew. Great stuff!

Cheers,
Jeff T.


Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea - A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Fantasy
 

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