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11/21/2017 9:35 am  #1


AS&SH Roll20 Campaign

Crawling for Coppers

We're taking a break from MCC and beginning a new campaign with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.  I backed the kickstarter for the second edition last year.  At the time, I knew nothing of the game, but I loved the idea of a setting based on the works of HP Lovecraft, Robert E Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith, and the artwork looked great, so I figured I'd mine it for ideas at the very least.  Last June at NTRPG con, I had the opportunity to play the game in Chainsaw's Lost Treasure of Atlantis dungeon and loved it, so I promptly asked Jeff Talanian to upgrade my pledge from pdf level to the hardback.  The kickstarter delivered the pdfs in September, only a few weeks behind the original projected date, which is a huge win as far as kickstarters go.  Books began delivering in October, and although I haven't received mine yet (Jeff is hand signing each one in backer order, and I'm backer #853 of 897), the pictures folks have been sharing on the G+ community are beautiful and the praise has been pretty universal.

Aside from my one game at NTRPG con, this is a completely new system to our group.  We had a session zero a couple weeks ago to go over character creation and run a quick skirmish to get everyone exposed to the combat rules.  My group loved the character class options, and although most of them have never played a descending AC system, combat went pretty smooth.

The Party
Badulf is a Kimmerian Shaman and follower of Krimmr.  With his draw poison and medicine man skills, he is the healer of the party.
Ingolf is a Viking Death Soldier.  He was a sailor on a longboat out of Vikland that was sank in a storm off of Brigand's Bay.
Hogsalt is a Kelt Berserker and follower of Yoon'Deh.  He is the strongest and fastest member of the party and a ferocious warrior in close combat.
Sheela is an Amazonian Ranger and follower of Artemis.  She is skilled in wilderness survival and in archery.

The Adventure
We began our campaign in the village of Swampgate, a setting described in the AS&SH Appendix.  The players met a rogue named Dunukar who told them that while traveling to Swampgate through the Fields of Vol, he'd run into a Kimmeri-Kelt hunting party and had to hide in a cave.  Exploring the cave, he found a large cavern with ancient altar, upon which was a grotesque toad-like idol.  The toad's great mouth was open and a massive gem could be seen inside.  Before he could take it, some terrible horror manifested out of the darkness - shapeless and convulsing, all mouths and teeth and bile.  He fled the cave empty-handed, but seeks companions to return and try to steel the gem from that abomination.

The adventurers set out from Swampgate, following the river to the northeast.  Dunukar told them it'd be a two-day trek along the borders of the Fields of Vol.  On the morning of the second day, they were ambushed by a group of hairy ape-men who attacked from high on a ridge overlooking the river, throwing stones down.  Sheela's keen senses spotted the ambush just in time, warning the party to prepare.  Sheela, Badulf, and Ingolf stayed below, firing arrows and quarrels up at the ape-men, while Dunukar ran up a nearby footpath to flank them.  Hogsalt, enraged by their cowardly attacked, flew into a berserk fury and bounded straight up the steep ridge to crash into the ape-men.  The slaughter was quick.

Arriving at the cave, they lit torches and descended a damp and slimy tunnel.  The rough ground and sharp, narrow cuts made for slow travel through the cave system.  When they came upon a cave filled with refuse and rot, Sheela examined the floors and identified the tracks of giant rats.  She prepared the group for the rodents, and when a swarm rushed in, their readied shots quickly dispatched them.

Eventually they came to a massive, open cavern, where the ceiling rose up out of sight.  A loud buzzing announced an approaching swarm of stirges.  Dunukar had one attach itself to his neck and begin draining the blood from it, but Sheela rushed in with a whirlwind of dual hand-axes to cut it off him.  The rogue was shaken, but grateful for his life.

This cavern, he was sure, was where he'd found the altar.  Crossing to the far end, they found a raised section of cavern floor with a path rising up to it, upon which sat a large stone idol.  In a nearby alcove, Ingolf spied a few old straw beds and several empty bottles.  He warned the others that there might be other residents of this cave.  They examined the altar, observing the amphibious designs on its base, the grotesque idol rising over it.  The surface of the altar was concave, as a basin, and stained with blood.  Ingolf noticed scraps of parchment scattered around the base, which examination showed partially described some evil rite to the god Xathoqqua.

As the others examined the idol, Hogsalt peered into the darkness of the ceiling above, just in time to see a glistening black ooze ebb and undulate above them.  The amorphous blob dropped to the cave floor beside them, convulsing to reveal dozens of mouths gleaming with fangs.  Dunukar made to grab for the star ruby out of the idol's mouth, but in his panic knocked it out and onto the cavern floor behind the idol.

Hogsalt, Ingolf, and Badulf rushed the mouthy abomination while Sheela leapt atop the altar, firing arrows at it.  Dunukar scrambled behind the altar searching for the gem.  The warriors quickly found their best strikes useless in cleaving the horror, and Hogsalt was bitten by two of its mouths with a half dozen more stretching open and seeking to rend his flesh.  Dropping down for the altar, Sheela spotted the gem and grabbed it up as the warriors called out a retreat.  The party scrambled away and jumped off the ledge, Dunukar nearly splitting his head open on the fall.  Behind them, the terrifying mass ebbed and shifted in a slow pursuit.  The adventurers retraced their path out of the cave as fast as they could, back into the safety of daylight.

The journey back to Swampgate was mercifully uneventful.  Sheela hunted for game and gathered berries which Badulf enchanted to help the party recover from their wounds.  Ingolf used his sorcery to confirm that the gem was not magical.  Back at Swampgate, Dunukar offered to take the gem to his contacts in the thieves' guild, but the adventurers did not trust the rogue with the gem out of their sight.  They were sure the village's general store would be unable to offer a worthy price on a gem of this size, so they decided to try to sell it to the wealthiest man in the village, town mayor Connar Nill.

At the mayor's manse, they impressed upon the guard the value of the gem and obtained a meeting with the mayor.  Regaling him with the tale of their exploits - although carefully omitting anything about possibly defiling an altar to a dreaded elder god - they were able to sell the gem for a fair price.  The mayor was also impressed with their heroics and mentioned he'd have some work for them soon, if interested.

For now, the adventurers return to the Swampgate Inn to rest and plan for their next adventure.
XP Total: 2306 (462 each)
Gold Total: 1400 (280 each)

Impressions
We had a lot of fun with our first session of AS&SH.  The built in setting is a fantastic swords & sorcery world that feels ripe for adventure.  We ran four combat encounters and I felt like it ran smoothly.  The phase 1/phase 2 initiative system feels like it should be cumbersome, but instead it creates a flexibility that other systems lack.  There are so many combat options without feeling like too much crunch.  These are rules for covering the stuff players naturally want to try to do, rather than a bloated system of feats or moves.  It's only one session, but this might end up being my favorite combat system I've ran yet.

Another highlight for the system is the character classes.  Each character felt unique and useful and had moments to shine.  The ranger class's wilderness skills came in handy multiple times in the adventure, the berserker proved to be as frightening a combatant as you want that style of fighter to be, and the warlock and shaman both were effective support combatants with added arcane utility.  I think my players all enjoyed their roles and we look forward to the next adventure.

 

11/21/2017 9:41 am  #2


Re: AS&SH Roll20 Campaign

Thanks for posting!  That was a fun read!


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

11/21/2017 10:32 am  #3


Re: AS&SH Roll20 Campaign

Second that, nice presentation on your site also!

Good maps!

 

11/21/2017 11:48 am  #4


Re: AS&SH Roll20 Campaign

Thanks.  They're just dungeonographer maps, but they import easily into Roll20.  I like using elevation lines to add another dimension to combat, and the dynamic lighting makes exploration interesting for the players, restricting their vision to only what they can see.  For example, here's what the players could see at the start of the stirge battle.

     Thread Starter
 

11/22/2017 1:00 pm  #5


Re: AS&SH Roll20 Campaign

Great write up, Zach!

Your party's first adventure sounds fun, man, reminding me of the The Tale of Satampra Zeiros by CAS. One of these days I need to get my act together and get a Roll20 campaign going. When I do, I'm coming to you for advice. Yours looks smooth!


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

11/22/2017 1:59 pm  #6


Re: AS&SH Roll20 Campaign

Very perceptive Chainsaw, Satampra Zeiros has been on my mind for a while.  I only recently started reading CAS, and started with that story, and immediately thought it sounds like a level 1 adventure.  Couple down on their luck rogues who can't afford both bread and wine, so they get drunk and decide to go explore a dungeon.  My players fared a little better against the gibbering mouther than Satampra and his companion, since the mouther is a pretty slow monster, allowing them to flee easily enough.

If you've never tried Roll20 and want to see how it is, I could easily give you a henchman to run with in one of our sessions.  We play every Monday evening.

     Thread Starter
 

11/22/2017 2:16 pm  #7


Re: AS&SH Roll20 Campaign

under_score wrote:

Very perceptive Chainsaw, Satampra Zeiros has been on my mind for a while.  I only recently started reading CAS, and started with that story, and immediately thought it sounds like a level 1 adventure.  Couple down on their luck rogues who can't afford both bread and wine, so they get drunk and decide to go explore a dungeon.  My players fared a little better against the gibbering mouther than Satampra and his companion, since the mouther is a pretty slow monster, allowing them to flee easily enough.

Haha! Awesome! That is one of my favorite, favorite stories. It's such a perfect D&D set-up. Kudos to you for incorporating it. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/cool.png


under_score wrote:

If you've never tried Roll20 and want to see how it is, I could easily give you a henchman to run with in one of our sessions.  We play every Monday evening.

Coooool, my devious plan worked. I will reach out to you in a couple of weeks once things slow down here at work. I would love to participate once even just as an observer to see how all software works together. Thanks so much, Zach. I'll owe you!
 


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

11/23/2017 9:49 am  #8


Re: AS&SH Roll20 Campaign

under_score wrote:

Thanks.  They're just dungeonographer maps, but they import easily into Roll20.  I like using elevation lines to add another dimension to combat, and the dynamic lighting makes exploration interesting for the players, restricting their vision to only what they can see.  For example, here's what the players could see at the start of the stirge battle.

nice, I also am a member of Roll20, but never used it in the year I have been part of it as the fellow that introduce me to it, is living in America (I in Scotland) and I would have to be awake at one o'clock in the morning to play with those I know!

You got me interest, I now in Rolld20 doing the tutorial for GM map creations, might as well enjoy it! It is Free!


 

 

11/24/2017 3:59 pm  #9


Re: AS&SH Roll20 Campaign

I'm a regular roll20 DM as well. I pay for top level of support of whatever which mostly just gets me access to some tokens/pogs/whatever when I don't have a png for a monster or something. I just search the art repo and grab and go. The free tier works just fine I think.

I found a "good" way to resize/adjust/whatever the maps I make with inkscape to scale properly and "snap" to a grid.

I would be interested in your tutorial as well, as much to kibitz as to see if there are any interesting tidbits to learn.

What do you use for audio? Roll20's webRTC isn't quite up to snuff just yet. When I DM I use google hangouts. Another group I'm a player in we use Skype. I've heard good things about Discord as well.

Last edited by gizmomathboy (11/24/2017 4:00 pm)


What? Me worry?
 

11/24/2017 4:23 pm  #10


Re: AS&SH Roll20 Campaign

Yeah, I currently pay the $10/month for a pro account so that I can work on the AS&SH character sheet.  The dynamic lighting is nice too, but I used free Roll20 for well over a year and it's perfectly fine.  Their audio does suck though, so I use Discord.  Pretty happy with it.  Hangouts I've used but it struggles with larger groups (in my S&W game I've had a dozen people on).  Skype I avoid like the plague.

     Thread Starter
 

11/25/2017 7:53 am  #11


Re: AS&SH Roll20 Campaign

I think it just as you do, search for map and load in. I doing for free, so selection would no doubt be small, but found it very easy.

Storing monster in library, etc. Using tools to draw, dice roll, the usual stuff, I guess you would know Giz. I Not even get much time to Solo a game, and if I did, it probably be more easy for me, just to use a table top and my laptop, so after 3 or 4 hours, no matter how enjoyable it was, it does not really suit me!

 

12/19/2017 9:25 am  #12


Re: AS&SH Roll20 Campaign

Crawling for Coppers
I'm behind on campaign updates.  We've had three more sessions of AS&SH, playing weekly on Mondays, although I had to cancel one session due to travelling.

The Party
The party is unchanged.  No one has died, leveled up, or acquired any hirelings/henchmen yet.

Badulf: Kimmerian Shaman, follower of Krimmer, level 1.
Ingolf: Viking Death Soldier, level 1.
Hogsalt: Kelt Berserker, follower of Yoon'Deh, level 1.
Sheela: Amazonian Ranger, follower of Artemis, level 1.

The Adventure
Following their last adventure, the party spent a few days relaxing and celebrating in Swampgate.  They were soon contacted by the mayor, Connar Nill, who they'd sold their treasure to earlier.  He explained the difficult situation in Swampgate and why he needed people with an aptitude for sneaking into difficult places.  The town was being pressed by Khromarium to deliver an ever increasing supply of peat, but payments were stagnant.  The region's trade minister, Korrhil Xai, was responsible for setting the price of such commodities.  Korrhil had a manse outside the town of Pella's Wish, two day's south of Swampgate.  The adventurers were hired to sneak into the manse and impress upon the minister the wisdom of conducting fair trade.  They were also asked to gather any useful information that Connar might use for leverage, but to avoid any unnecessary bloodshed.

On the road south to Pella's Wish, they encountered another adventuring party being overrun by a large group of half formed dwarves - Worms of Ymir.  The adventurers rushed in to help.  Sheela took a high ground position and set arrows, proceeding to rain hell on the Worms.  Hogsalt rushed straight into their midst, wreaking carnage in his enraged blood mist.  Ingolf noted the stream the creatures were crossing to engage the strangers, and cast his Shocking Graps to send electrical currents across it.  One of the strangers, a half-blood Pictish woman, nearly fell in the melee, but Badulf was able to provide her healing.  After the fight, the strangers introduced themselves as the Hounds of Lug, a group of treasure hunters on their way to Swampgate.  They were thankful for the intervention and swore to raise their drinks together at the Swampgate Inn the next time the adventurers were in town.

When they reached Pella's Wish, the party spent some time reconnoitering the manse.  They learned that Korrhil Xai had once been a fair and generous man, but after the death of his wife to the plague, he'd become increasingly reclusive and cruel.  He kept a squadron of guards and trained wolves patrolling his grounds, but other servants had seemingly vanished and he no longer attended any functions in the village.  His only guests were dark cowled strangers that visited the manse on nights of ill omen, when Phobos was dark in the sky and shadows blocked out the stars.  The manse itself they found to sit alone on a barren hill, surrounded by a 10' stone wall.  The manse was near the back of the complex and had a servant's door, which no one was seen to use recently.  The front grounds had a few smaller structures, presumably guard barracks, kennels, and tool shed.

At night, the party crept up the rear of the hill to the servant's door.  Hogsalt climbed the stone wall and, seeing no patrol moving behind the manse, dropped inside and opened the servant's door to allow the party in.  The rear rooms of the manse appeared unlit and they began to study the back door for entry when they saw the light of a lantern approaching around the back corner.  With Sheela's guidance, they hid and lay in ambush, and when the guard came round the corner, Ingolf cut his throat before he could raise alarm.  On him they found a key to the manse and were able to slip inside quietly.

Once inside, they moved through kitchen and dining areas, searching for Korrhil's quarters.  Doing their best to stay hidden, they could hear a guard patrolling the manse and ducked into adjacent rooms at his approach.  As they moved down a dark hall, they heard a distant scream from behind a door.  Checking the door, they discovered stone steps descending into a cellar below.  They quickly rushed down the steps into a newly constructed dungeon.  A pair of cells were empty but showed evidence of recent use.  A large set of double doors stood at the opposite end.  The screaming was clear behind it, and the flickering light of a fire shone around the edges.

Kicking open the door, the adventurers saw a gruesome sight.  Raised on a dais stood Korrhil Xai next to a stone table on which lie a half mummified woman's corpse, in disturbingly varied state of decay.  At the foot of the dais a man was chained and bleeding, evidently having suffered much torture.  Around the room stood four dark cowled figures, one holding an ornamental dagger, another a silver chalice.  These men were so stunned by the interruption that the adventurers cut them all down before they could act, leaving Korrhil Xai in mute dismay.

The party bound Korrhil to the table along with his spouse's corpse, and set a swamp beetle on his skin which began to feed.  They quickly explained the importance of just economics to the bewildered minister, then left him there and unchained the captive.  Parsai, the man called himself, was the last remaining servant of the Xai family.  One by one they'd all been ritually sacrificed in an attempt to resurrect his deceased wife.

On the dead cultists, they recovered the ornamental dagger and silver chalice, as well as a pair of scrolls.  Parsai led them to Korrhil's chambers and office, where they found some gold and a trade ledger.  At this point they heard Korrhil screaming from the dungeon and remembered they'd forgotten to gag him.  The guard they'd previously heard patrolling the house sounded the alarm - the sound of the barracks rousing and the howling of wolves warned them it was time to flee.  They made there way back to the servant's door but were intercepted by a pair of wolves, which they were able to cut down just before the pursuing guards caught them.  From here, they rushed into the darkness of the bogs, and with Sheela's wilderness guidance were able to lose their pursuers before long.

The journey back to Swampgate was tiring.  They rested very little in the bogs, and did their best to avoid any encounters.  They hid from a swarm of stirges that buzzed over the tepid waters, and refrained from pursuing any hunts that would take them further into the swamps.  On the second day, while wading across a stream, Hogsalt was attacked suddenly by a giant swamp eel.  The creature struck from surprise and nearly tore him apart instantly.  The pain enraged him, however, and in a few blows Hogsalt cut open the length of the eel.  His companions looked on from the banks of the stream as he bathed in the bloody waters and cut out the eyes of the creature.

Outside of Swampgate, they encountered a patrol of rangers who escorted them back to the village.  A the inn, the drank heavily with the recovering members of the Hounds of Lug.  The mayor rewarded them well for their success, which Parsai was able to corroborate.  He gave a bonus for bringing a member of Xai's household and for the ledger they'd recovered.  They sold their other treasures, Sheela bought a pair of war dogs and barding off the falconer, and they began making their next plans.  Ingolf wished to meet the Black-Moss Hag he'd heard about.  Soon they'd need to set out into the bogs again.

XP Total: 2768 (692 each)
Gold Total: 2255 (563 gp, 7 sp, 5 cp each)

Impressions
AS&SH continues to be a very fun system for our group.  A stealthy, breaking and entering style mission is not the norm for our group, so the manse quest was kind of fun for something different.  AS&SH's simple skill resolution system handled it very easily.  Hiding, climbing walls, ambushing patrols, listening for danger, all is resolved quickly and satisfactorily.

Combat is also flowing very nicely.  The roadside encounter involved the 4 PCs, an NPC adventuring party of 4, acting as their own initiative group, and 12 Worms of Ymir.  Spell casters in both the PC and NPC adventuring groups, and a few terrain obstacles to account for.  That's a fairly complex encounter in most games, but AS&SH handled it easily.  The combat was very fluid and only took about 20 minutes.  I've come to really like the 2 phase combat round as it keeps everyone engaged more frequently, where in a lot of games players can check out a bit in between their turns.

Everyone is really enjoying their characters and beginning to form personal goals in the setting, which really speaks to how vivid Hyperborea is to play in.  With a mixed party, their goals are somewhat tugging in different directions, so it will be interesting where they decide to go.  After the manse mission, I'm trying to move away from handing out quests and just feed lots rumors of things they might be interested in so that they can make their own plans of what they want to accomplish.

Lastly, I've really been digging into Blackadder's AS&SH Encounter Tables.  I really love the work he's done on this.  Aside from all the beasts and monsters to encounter, there's interesting tidbits in the encounters with men to give extra inspiration, and the celestial and natural encounters are fantastic for developing the feel of Hyperborea as a weird and hostile land.  I'm eager for my players to strike out from Swampgate a bit more, as these encounter tables can fuel a lot of adventure. 

     Thread Starter
 

12/23/2017 8:56 am  #13


Re: AS&SH Roll20 Campaign

Keep them coming, I love a good story!

 

12/26/2017 5:44 pm  #14


Re: AS&SH Roll20 Campaign

Do you have room for another player? http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/confused.png

I am typically free Monday evenings and I'm dying to immerse myself in this system, with an eye to running it myself.

(looks like you could use a mage...)

Last edited by Jimm.Iblis (12/26/2017 5:57 pm)


"Role-playing isn't storytelling. If the dungeon master is directing it, it's not a game."  ~ Gary Gygax
 

12/26/2017 10:23 pm  #15


Re: AS&SH Roll20 Campaign

Jimm.Iblis wrote:

Do you have room for another player? http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/confused.png

We actually usually run with 5, but lost one of our guys due to switching jobs, requiring a late shift.  The current group and I have been playing together weekly for almost 2 years now - DCC and S&W mostly.  We use Discord these days for audio.  Would you like to join us next Monday?  We're currently in town, getting ready to set out looking for a witch to learn about some ruins in the bogs.

     Thread Starter
 

2/12/2018 10:22 pm  #16


Re: AS&SH Roll20 Campaign

Not that you are looking for more but just want to make myself available if you ever get another empty spot in your campaign on Roll20. 

I just got my book, but have played plenty 1st and 2nd Ed back in the day.  I am self employed so I have a very flexible schedule.  I have also played some DCC if you flip back to that someday. 

I am currently in a D&D RC campaign that plays once, sometimes twice a month but I don't think it would be a scheduling issue.

 

 

2/13/2018 12:23 pm  #17


Re: AS&SH Roll20 Campaign

Crawling for Coppers

My Roll20 campaign has had eleven sessions so far.  I posted recaps of our first session and another update after a few more sessions.  While I haven't felt like writing up session reports lately, I did want to write a review for the first official AS&SH module that I've inserted into our game, Jeff Talanian's Rats in the Walls.

The Party
We've had some changes in the party over the last half dozen sessions.  The player of Sheela, the Ranger, had to bow out for a while.  He recently had his first daughter and is understandably exhausted with that.  We picked up a couple new players.  I recruited one from the AS&SH forums, joining us as an Esquimaux Witch.  The latest addition is the judge of a Dungeon Crawl Classics game I attend monthly at my local game store.  He runs an exciting and relentless DCC game and I'm happy to turn the screen on him.

Current
Badulf: Kimmerian Shaman, follower of Krimmer, level 1.
Ingolf: Viking Death Soldier, level 1.
Hogsalt: Kelt Berserker, follower of Yoon'Deh, level 1.
Nushniaq: Esquimaux Witch, follower of Kthulhu, level 1.
Naysho: Atlantean Scout, level 1.


Former
Sheela: Amazonian Ranger, follower of Artemis, level 1.

Broad Recap
After their business at the Manse of Korrhil Xai, they returned to Swampgate and decided to look for the Black Moss Hag, with Ingolf and Nushniaq both hoping for training in their dark arts.  The witch agreed to mentor Nushniaq in return for him recovering a book owned by a wizard who had built a tower on a nearby hill.  He was long dead but there was a dungeon beneath his tower that hid is treasures.  The group ended up spending four game sessions exploring the dungeon, covering about half of the first and second levels.  They fought giant bats and giant toads, skeletons and zombies, daemon grubs and daemon-picts.  The zombies, in particular, gave them a good scare.  But they were able to recover the book, found a magic sword (they overcame one of the better puzzles I've devised to get this), made a tenuous alliance with some fishmen in an underground lagoon, and ultimately made it out without any deaths (well, Sheela's war dogs were killed and became zombie war dogs).  They decided to return to Swampgate to resupply, where they found the taproom of their inn overcrowded with sailors and fishermen who reported the Rivermen's Tavern to be having a rat problem.  They also heard from an old friend of a possible employment opportunity worth a fortune in the City-State of Yithorium.  They agreed to make preparations for that journey, expected to take a couple months journey including both land and sea.  But first, they'd deal with this rat problem.

Rats in the Walls Review

Spoilers follow.

This is an adventure for 4-6 characters of 1st through 2nd level.  I could not find it available in print anywhere, checking OBS, Lulu, and the official AS&SH store.  I got it in pdf from RPGNow for $4.29.  It is 14 pages long, written by Jeff Talanian, and features art by Ian Baggley.  From the back:
In the City-State of Khromarium, a dockside tavern called the Silvery Eel is plagued by rats of a most unusual breed.  These abominable rodents have ruined the tavern keeper's business and his life.  The man is desperate, and he offers a substantial reward for the elimination of his horrific problem.
I always like reading adventures written by the author of a game system.  It can offer a great insight into how the author intends his game to be played.  In the case of AS&SH, it also helps to expand on the feeling of the Hyperborea setting.  The introduction text is brief but paints a sufficient scene of Khromarium and the dockside tavern, the Silvery Eel.  Jeff has a distinctive writing style and provides enough background and characterization (there are only 3 NPCs in the adventure) to make the simple setup easy to run.

Speaking of simple setups, this adventure is exactly what it sounds like.  A tavern with giant rats in the basement.  The most cliche adventure trope in existence.  It takes a certain audacity to write that in 2014.  Then again, I've never actually sent adventurers into a tavern cellar to smack giant rats.  There was something oddly fun about doing so.

The tavern and its dungeon include 11 rooms total, with 6 of those being the tavern and the upstairs bedrooms.  My group did not bother to go poking through the innkeeper and his daughter's rooms, so that was 3 rooms unseen.  The adventure doesn't really offer much motivation that they would, so I would expect most people to use only the 8 rooms.  Getting into the dungeon proper does require finding a secret door, but the description of the place being riddled with rat holes naturally prompts a lot of searching, and with new rats pouring out randomly to attack, tension is high from the start.

Below ground the rats in the cellar take a different turn. A temple with evidence of human sacrifice, a pair of secret chambers, and a row of cells below.  I appreciated the deity in the temple being Aurorus, rather than a more obviously evil deity like Thaumagorga or Xathoqqua.  Hyperborea is not a nice place, so even the shining gods require sacrifice.

The secrets in the dungeon are concealed by floor to ceiling curtains, which every player knows to look behind, so mine had no trouble with these.  A skeleton ambush was the roughest fight of the dungeon, but a daemon summoning chamber provided context for the giant rats crawling up from below.  Otherwise than the skeleton guards, all enemies in this dungeon are giant rats.  My players had recently acquired a large amount of Greek fire and decided to forgo whatever treasure might be found in the heaps of debris and just torch it all to be safe, so it they avoided most combat until the finale in the cells.  The monster there is fantastic.  Both Jeff's description of the scene and Ian's illustration serve to create a chilling and grotesque ending.

Final Thoughts
It's as basic an adventure as there is, but it works and my group had a lot of fun with it.  It provides just enough extra flavor to make it more than its premise, and being a very confined location it is easy to put into any setting (I moved it to from Khromarium to Swampgate, but it could be taken out of Hyperborea entirely).  My biggest knock on the adventure is that, being inspired by the Lovecraft story of the same name, it doesn't really hit the same themes.  A larger underground complex and more revelations of a dark family history would have improved it.  Since the current owner of the tavern has nothing to do with the temple underground or its cells and human sacrifice, clearing it out just meant it could seal it up and forget about it.  The adventure could have been more haunting by hewing closer to Lovecraft, but it's a fun romp regardless.

     Thread Starter
 

2/13/2018 12:26 pm  #18


Re: AS&SH Roll20 Campaign

Kradonus wrote:

Not that you are looking for more but just want to make myself available if you ever get another empty spot in your campaign on Roll20. 

Hey Kradonus, I will keep you in mind on that.  We've only had a couple sessions with 5 players, and real life has a way of taking players, so if we either lose a player or decide we'd be comfortable with 6, I'll message you.

     Thread Starter
 

2/13/2018 2:33 pm  #19


Re: AS&SH Roll20 Campaign

under_score wrote:

Kradonus wrote:

Not that you are looking for more but just want to make myself available if you ever get another empty spot in your campaign on Roll20. 

Hey Kradonus, I will keep you in mind on that.  We've only had a couple sessions with 5 players, and real life has a way of taking players, so if we either lose a player or decide we'd be comfortable with 6, I'll message you.

Hi Under, I'd be interested also, Once an opening pops up, Though I've never use the Roll20 service, and would need to get setup on it.
 

Last edited by BlackKnight (2/13/2018 2:33 pm)


-- 
BlackKnight, AKA Sausage
Been playing Tabletop games for 40+ years...
 

2/13/2018 3:32 pm  #20


Re: AS&SH Roll20 Campaign

Thanks would appreciate it, I am open to any class or schedule (for the most part)!  Meanwhile Ill be running some arena combat to get some mechanics down.

 

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