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7/20/2017 9:17 am  #1

Rats in the Walls - First Time DM

As my group has just wrapped up a successful AD&D campaign, we are in a bit of a hiatus while Welleran preps for a return to a previously running campaign. To give him some extra time to prep, I have taken over as DM of our usual Friday night Skype game and will be running a session of Rats in the Walls. This is my first time DMing any sort of RPG and have been really drawn to AS&SH since I survived Chainsaw's game of Crystal Point at Gary Con IX. 

Current Party Configuration:
- Assassin
- Berserker
- Barbarian
- Cataphract
- Pyromancer
- Ranger

I rolled up pre-gens for the party and decided to start them at level 2 to give them a bit more health and a better FA/CA. I'm looking forward to seeing how the evening goes, both for the DM experience and seeing the game unfold. I'll be running the game more-or-less as written but do have some out of the box things ready to go.

I will post an after-action report this weekend after my recording finishes uploading. I've been using OBS to record our AD&D sessions and uploading them to Youtube so I'll be doing the same with any online sessions I'll run for AS&SH. Not quite as easy for me to record an in-person session at this point in time. Not that I expect people to watch but it does provide us a good way to dispute arguments at a later date.

"You're in big trouble though, pal. I eat pieces of sh!t like you for breakfast!"

7/20/2017 2:27 pm  #2

Re: Rats in the Walls - First Time DM

Exciting! I'm sure you will do a great job. Make sure to let us know how it goes. 

And don't go easy on them!

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

7/21/2017 4:15 pm  #3

Re: Rats in the Walls - First Time DM

This sounds great, ScooterMcG! I look forward to hearing how it goes. Rats in the Walls is a nice start to a Hyperborea campaign. It's designed to be both familiar to the traditional RPG player, and yet rich with the sort of tone that makes the AS&SH setting of Hyperborea a unique place. I hope it goes well. The party composition is solid.

Jeff T.

HYPERBOREA- A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Science-Fantasy

7/25/2017 1:09 pm  #4

Re: Rats in the Walls - First Time DM

Sounds like fun! I haven't run that yet. On a side note, I see your group has no Cleric/Priest. Same as my group, and they are suffering for it...


7/26/2017 7:53 am  #5

Re: Rats in the Walls - First Time DM

Thanks guys! My weekend/week so far have not provided me time enough to get the AAR even started but I'm hoping the rest of my week will be a bit lighter. I also found out that I do not like listening to a recording of myself talking so editing the recording of that evening will be interesting. Though I think it'll really help me identify the things to improve on for next time.

I can say that overall, I believe things went well. I definitely under-estimated the amount of time the adventure would take and didn't take into account the start time. If we started in the morning or mid-afternoon it probably wouldn't have been an issue. It was a late night, since my group starts later on Friday night, so I believe that next time I run a game for them, I'll be sure to find a decent stopping point so we can pick up later. By the time everyone seemed like they were ready to call it quits for the evening, there was just the battle with the Daemon Rat so we stuck through that instead of picking back up a 20-30 minute battle/wrapping up. I had another surprise for them planned but I'll recap that in the AAR since I told them what it was going to be. I don't plan to run this again for this group but have notes for next time I run this module. 

chainsaw wrote:

Exciting! I'm sure you will do a great job. Make sure to let us know how it goes.  
And don't go easy on them!

Don't worry, I didn't go too easy on them. I started my rolling for the rats against Brian's PC with a nat 20, followed by a nat 20 for double damage (using Welleran's crit tables), followed by a 1 for rat disease, a failed death saving throw by Brian but rolled the non-fatal rat disease. In the end, I think Dex's character was the only PC to almost die, he ended up at -9 HP when they fought the skeletons. I think one of the other PCs hit 0 but Dex was the only negative. A few were infected with the rat disease but I haven't made plans to continue using these characters for a further campaign to see if they need to quest to get cured. 

Ghul wrote:

This sounds great, ScooterMcG! I look forward to hearing how it goes. Rats in the Walls is a nice start to a Hyperborea campaign. It's designed to be both familiar to the traditional RPG player, and yet rich with the sort of tone that makes the AS&SH setting of Hyperborea a unique place. I hope it goes well. The party composition is solid.

I really liked the adventure for a start to a campaign. I'm not sure if I'm going to keep these characters to run my own campaign or move on to one of the pre-gen campaign settings. It was definitely a good experience for my first game as a DM. I'm really looking forward to diving into Hyperborea more, especially with the 2nd Edition coming.

Druvas wrote:

Sounds like fun! I haven't run that yet. On a side note, I see your group has no Cleric/Priest. Same as my group, and they are suffering for it...

That is correct! We didn't have anyone who could do any sort of healing but a lot of people who could smash things quite well. The party didn't run into too much trouble until they got to some Skeleton's with Halberdiers. I did let them rest overnight as well, which they luckily didn't encounter any wondering rats. Though, looking back, I should have only given them a half-nights rest at best due to where they stayed. 

"You're in big trouble though, pal. I eat pieces of sh!t like you for breakfast!"
     Thread Starter

8/03/2017 2:45 pm  #6

Re: Rats in the Walls - First Time DM

I took some time this week to edit the recording I took. I find that listening at 2x speed helped me a lot as I forgot it was four and a half hours worth of session. I decided to skip writing a full AAR for my players for this session but the plan is for me to run AS&SH for the next few weeks so I'll have some write ups of adventures coming. I did decide to write an epilogue as I had some plans for the party but the session went super late. I'll leave it in my next comment.

Skipping the AAR, here are my top three things that happened during the RitW adventure:
1).   Upon killing 6 rats in the basement and finding the secret door to the spiral staircase. 
     Party - "We're going to throw the rats down the hole."
     Me - "Alright, you throw the rats down the hole."
     Party - "Alright, let's light some torches and start going down the stairs"
     Me - "You light some torches and start descending. After about 10 feet you find a pile of rat bodies. Because this is a spiral staircase with railings...."
2).   Dex's character, the Ranger Zurakal, picked up the Cthulhu statue in the sub-basement and failed his save against sorcery. Which lead to him have a vision an immense, other-worldly shadow at the edge of his vision. But to the rest of the party, he was just a blubbering mess on the floor. They took him to a nearby monastery to get cured, which was easy.
     Barbarian - "Great, he's cured, what is it going to cost us?"
     Priest - "What do you have to offer?"
     Barbarian - *starts to list off the treasure they've found so far*
     Priest - "That is exactly what it will cost."
     Pyromancer - "Are you kidding me!? Why would you just list off everything..."
     Cataphract - "Nope, we're not going to pay"
Cut scene to the rest of the hall now lined with monks
     Priest - "Listen friends, think of this as an offering for future prosperity."
3).   Descending down the stairs in the final prison cell area, Welleran's character failed his Test of Dexterity to not slip and fall on the rat dropping covered stairs. Dex's character decides he's going to try and surf Welleran's character down the stairs. Miserably fails his Feat of Dexterity to jump on and both go sliding down the stairs and are now covered in blood, urine and feces.

"You're in big trouble though, pal. I eat pieces of sh!t like you for breakfast!"
     Thread Starter

8/03/2017 2:50 pm  #7

Re: Rats in the Walls - First Time DM


Following your slaughter of the bloated rat, you felt this wave of force blow past you. Almost like a presence was gone from the room, a curse lifting. After collected what treasure you could find, you start to make your way back up the bloody stairs to the main chamber. As you get to the top, you can see a faint red glow and hear a low, ominous voice chanting from the other side of the room. Upon further investigation, you find the voice is coming from a slender woman dressed in a long black robe, hood up. You now notice the bones of the daemon, which were gripping the prison cage in the secret room, now chained to the floor in front of the effigy of Aurorus.  How this mysterious figure was able to remove the bones when your Barbarian and Berserker were unable to even move it an inch is unknown to you.

The pyromancer opens his mouth to tell the party that he's positive that the chanting being performed is not to Aurorus when he notices that the statue of Aurorus has been defiled with a black tar-like substance. He let's out a scream and the rest of you start to call out to the cultist and aggressively move towards her, she stops her chanting, puts a hand up towards you telling you to stop. Instantly, the party is frozen in place and while they Pyromancer is still cursing the cultist, nobody is able to hear him. As she removes her hood, you see that it is actually Annesta, Xill's daughter. She looks up at you with a sinister smile and deep black pits for eyes. You can now tell that the faint glow of red is coming from her and the daemon skeleton. 

In the shrill voice you heard earlier from the daemon skeleton and the bloated swine daemon rat, she speaks to you, "Welcome. It is a shame that you had to slay my other host, but that is of no concern to me anymore. I lost my stregth for a long time but after the fool upstairs decided to build his tavern above my...", she pauses looking for the right words, "burial chamber, I was able to feed again, grow strong again. Once I had stength enough to overtake the rats, I started to spread my corruption. The girl you stare at now was easy to infect. She practically accepted me with open arms after she lost her Mother and Sister. She was weak and looking for someone to help her pull her from her misery. She isn't strong enough to return me to my full form, but she's a start." 

And with that, you see Annesta begin to chat again, back in the low, ominous voice you heard when coming up the stairs. The skeleton in the manacles slowly begins to animate, moving to a kneeling position staring towards Annesta. Frozen in place, you can hear bones creaking and cracking and see Annesta start to move towards the skeleton. While still chanting, she pulls a knife out from beneath her robe; the blade jagged and black, the hilt a glistening black metal with an opaque red stone glowing at the bottom. When she comes to the front of the daemon, she stops and you can see that sinister smile begin to widen across her face. She raises her hands over her head, each holding one end of the dagger, the red stone beginning to glow brighter and brighter. With an effortless tug, she rips the digger blade through her hand as blood starts to rain down upon the skull of the skeleton. Annesta begins to cackle loudly as she places her cut palm on the forehead of the skeleton, which is now glowing an almost blinding red.

What you witness next will fuel your nightmares for weeks or months to come. As Annesta's hand touches the skeleton, you begin to see her body start to shrivel. It almost seems like she is slowly aging before your eyes. The once gaunt but young women slowly ages to her mid 20s, then 30s then 50s then she appears to be 120 in the blink of an eye. And with that, she is nothing more than a pile of bones on the floor. What is now even more disturbing than the scene that you just witnessed, is you begin the see the skeleton start to stand. As it does, you can see it rip the manacles from the ground with ease. As the Daemon begins to turn towards the party, you begin to see what looks like tissue starting to form across the body. Muscles being formed over veins and fatty tissue. You see intestines, lungs and heart form in the chest and belly of the beast.

After another dozen seconds, the growth seems to stop before fully completing, leaving what looks like a flayed daemon standing in front of you now. With a loud shriek and some loud cackling, the daemon laughs at the party as you get a sense of the full form she would take. You can see how much bigger she looks now with some body on the bones. 

"So nice to meet you in the flesh. Now, as much as I would love to stay and slay you all, I'm feeling a bit fatigued from all of this excitement. But don't worry, I'll be back for you one day."

You hear her chant something else and you're all blinded by a flash of red light. When you're able to see again, you only find a plume of black smoke floating towards the ceiling and a black robe on the floor. You find you're able to move once again and go to check out the robes. Unfortunately, you're unable to find anything more than the robes on the floor. The statue of Aurorus is still covered in an inky black liquid and the manacles have been pulled from the floor but seem like they could be repaired. The Pyromancer inspects the liquid and finds that it burns quite easily and uses fire to cleans the alter. He vows to repair the alter to its previous condition.

The party now has the unfortunate job of informing Xill that, while his rat problem has been taken care of, he has lost yet another daughter. As the party ascends the stairs from the basement to the kitchen, you find Xill polishing another glass and asks how things are going. As you begin to tell him that his rat problem is solved, he lets out a great cheer and tells everyone that drinks are on him as he taps a keg and passes around a full mug to everyone in the party. Not to ruin the moment, the party takes the beers and drinks while filling in Xill of their triumph. 

After the group finishes the keg, with a heavy heart, you begin to tell Xill of the final interaction that you had with Annesta. To your surprise, Xill stops you and asks who this Annesta is? He's never heard that name before. It is quite a beautiful name but is not familiar to him. Prodding him some more, it seems that Xill believes that he is alone in this tavern, has never taken a wife, nor had any children of his own. You all find that rather odd but don't detect any deception on Xill's part, nor do you get the sense that this is an imposter.

Xill, true to his word, gives the party their reward of a Small Silver Shield and a lovely Pearl Necklace, which he says belonged to his sister who had past not too long ago. On top of that, he offers the party a place to stay whenever they are in town, free of charge along with food and drink at a discounted rate if they so choose. Now that his rat problem has been cleared up, Xill has big plans for the future of his tavern.

And with that, the party has taken care of The Rats in the Walls.

"You're in big trouble though, pal. I eat pieces of sh!t like you for breakfast!"
     Thread Starter

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