Tonight I'll be running The Dalish Curse...

Discuss our dark fantasy adventure tabletop roleplaying game based on BioWare's computer game, Dragon Age Origins.

Postby Saisei » Mon Dec 21, 2009 1:55 am

Aaaaaaaand Thread Necromancy!

So I managed to gather my group Friday night and we started the Dalish Curse. I was hoping to get as far as Vintiver and the RP encounter with the villagers but we actually finished at the same point as Drew's group.

So here's how it went. (This won't be of the quality of Drew's but hey)

______________________________


The players

Teegan Stonebrow
Dwarven Noble - Rogue

The Stonebrow House is a lower merchant class house in the great Dwarven city of Orzammar. Despite their station (or perhaps because of it) the head of House Stonebrow has had to seek unusual methods of gaining greater sway.

Under the pretext of joining a expedition into the Depp Roads, Teegan was snuck out one of the passages leading to the mountain side. There she was met by an Avvarian Hillsmen who was to be her guide and protector. Now she must make her way to Denerim to find the head of the Order of Templars.

Cullen Gormanhold
Avvarian Hillsmen - Warrior

A warrior scout from the Frostback Mountains, Cullen was hired by the patriarch of a Dwarven family as guide and bodyguard of the youngest daughter.

Cullen is an experienced warrior and has scouted the length and bredth of the Frostback Mountain range alone. He is a pragmatist first and a warrior second and see's no reason to engage in battles when they can be easily avoided. Being a pragmatist Cullen is well aware that his scouting knowledge covers only the area of the Frostback Mountains. For that reason he has sought the aid of an old acquaintance, a Dalish Elf, to lead himself and his charge the rest of the way to Denerim.

Falos Bloodcrow
Dalish Elf - Warrior

Falos is a rarity amongst the Dalish: he often leaves his clan and travels alone up and down Ferelden, learning news and gossip where he can. With this knowledge he returns to his clan so that he can best inform them of where in Ferelden it is safe to travel.

Like all elves he excels at the use of bow and arrow but his preferred weapon is a human bastard sword. Again unlike most Dalish Falos has spent quite a bit of time with humans, most notably the Avvar. He has hunted and feated with the Avvar for months at a time and grew a strong bond with Cullen of Gormanhold. When Cullen asked for his aid in travelling east away from the Frostback Mountains Falos had no hesitation in agreeing.

Ahnika
Elven Circle Mage

Born to Dalish parents, Ahnika was unfortunate enough to be travelling with her family through a small village at the same time as a small group of Templars and Magi. She was forcibly taken from her parents when it was discovered that she had an aptitude for magic and was brought back to the Tower of Magi to study and so she could be kept an eye on.

Ahnika is a bitter person and curses both the Templars and the Circle Mages for imprisoning her in the tower. She was a rarity in the Circle and isolated herself from the other students, choosing instead to focus her study on anything she could find in the tower's library about her roots and the history of the Dalish. reading the 'truth' from the human's point of view only served to stoke the fire inside her.

After completing her Harrowing she begged to be allowed leave the tower and seek out her Dalish roots. After months of pleading the circle relented and allowed her to go.

She sought out the nearest elven tribe she could find, and this is how she came to travel with Falos.

Unbeknownst to Ahnika the Circle have sent a Templar to follow her progress. This Templar is in possession of her phylactery and is able to track her wherever she goes.

________________________


And that's all for now. I'll post up info on the actual session soon.
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Postby Aldaris » Mon Dec 21, 2009 2:16 am

Sounds in interesting, I like the dwarven noble twist of sneaking out onto the surface.
Looking forward to hearing more. I'll run the adventure on wednesday.
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Postby Drew D Scott » Mon Dec 21, 2009 3:52 am

Nice mix of characters! I look forward to reading your AP.

Part 2 of mine will be up tonight or tomorrow morning. Once again we had a blast.
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Postby Saisei » Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:16 am

The game begins as our party makes their way along the West Road, bound for Denerim. An uncomfortable misty rain is falling, obscuring vision and leaving the party clammy and uncomfortable.

Falos leads the way, the Dalish staying a few dozen yards ahead of the group to keep an eye out for trouble as Cullen watches the surrounded trees lining the road with a wary eye.

After travelling for nearly a fortnight the party is weary and in need to resupply. Falos suggests a nearby human settlement which is on the road to Denerim anyway and the party begin to move more swiftly, the thoughts of a soft bed and a warm meal speeding their steps.

As the party comes into the surrounding farmland around Vintiver Falos spots a number of carrion birds circling one of the outlying farms and suggests they make their to see what exactly it is the birds are circling.

At this Cullen voices his opinion, stating that it is more than likely some dead livestock and also pointing out that the death has likely drawn more than just a number of birds. The party stands in indecision for a number of minutes. The main road leads to Vintiver and the continuation of their journey. A side road leads to the farm with the carrion birds. Whilst Falos and Ahnika argue with Cullen about going to investigate, the dwarf Teegan slips away and begins to stalk through the mist. Cullen rolls his eyes and follows the group, his charge having made his decision for him.

From out of the hazy rain the party make out a large wooden sign. On it in a flowery black script are the word "Fuldor Farm". Teegan continues on, growing closer to where the birds are circling and seeing that they are in fact circling a human body. Carrion crows perch on the form pecking and tearing at it's flesh. The Dalish Falos moves closer to inspect the body and sees that the man has been completed gutted, his intestines lying spread across the muddy earth. Being very wary of human settlements Ahnika casts Rock armour on herself.

As the three others move to inspect the body Cullen hears a low growl. His head whips around and he sees six dark forms emerging from the murky rain. They look like wolves but some sickly black ichor drips from their maws and jagged spines protrude from their backs.

He snatches his bow from over his shoulder and readies an arrow, muttering a less than satisfied "I told you so" as he and his companions are encircled by the Blight Wolves.


Two wolves leap directly at Cullen, one larger than the rest that is clearly the alpha of the pack. The alpha slams directly into him sending him sprawling to the dirt. The snapping maw of the creature is only inches from Cullen's face as he does all he can to hold it off. He quickly snabs his readied arrow into the throat of the beast but only catches the meaty flab of its hide before knocking it aside. As he pushes himself to his feet he parries away the other wolves attack with the but of his bow before dropping it in favour of his longsword.

The other four wolves strike at the rest of the party. Falos is attacked and latched onto by two of the beasts whilst Ahnika has a chunk taken out of her shoulder but most of the brunt is taken by her timely use of Rock Armour. Our dwarf nimbly rolls aside as the last wolf pounces at her, leaving the creature scrambling in the dirt.

Now battle is joined in earnest. Cullen battles against his two opponents, doing his best to keep one between him and the second wolf. He manages a number of swipes which serve to hold the beasts at bay.

With the wolf having pinned her on the ground, Ahnika struggles to free herself. In frustration she grabs the wolf by the side of it's snapping maw. Ice rushes through her palms and freeze the creature solid. she shoves the wollfen statue off her and struggles to her feet.

Falos and Teegan are being harried relentlessly. They both manage slight blows to the wolves but come off far worse for wear in the encounters.

The battle is not going well.

Falos tries to yell across the din "We may need to run!" but his companions are all locked in combat.

Just as the battle seems to be entirely in favour of the wolves Falos turns the tide. He slashes viciously at one of his enemies with his dagger forcing the creature back. With the other hand he cracks down on the second wolves skull sending it sprawling into the dirt. As the creature struggles to rise Falos' sword whips back around and cleaves it's skull in two. The second wolf looks suitably wary.

Ahnika tries to dart across the battlefield to administer treatment to Falos' wounds but the wolf she had frozen breaks free and darts after her. A yell from Falos draws her attention to her pursuer and she whirls around catching the wolf in mid air. As the wolf dives for her it's entire form shrivels and by the time it hits the ground it has withered to an emaciated corpse. She has no time to celebrate as Falos has a chunk torn from his side by his second opponent.

Teegan struggles on the ground under the weight of her opponent. With a snarl the dwarf viciously jabs the wolf in the throat not once but twice. The creature cries out in pain before slumping to the ground.

Cullen continues his war with the alpha wolf and the final blight wolf. He sidesteps a dive from the alpha and spins, turns in a vicious arc. His blade sings as it sweeps through the air cleaving the wolf's head clean off.

The remaining two wolves, upon seeing their pack viciously dispatched, give impotent snarls and dart off into the woods.



With the battle over the party take a moment to rest. Wounds are bandaged as best as possible and the group lets the adrenaline recede back before continuing their exploration.

Cullen goes to the body in the field and takes it up in his arms. He heads towards the farmhouse hoping to find firewood to make a pyre for the man. As he gets closer the true horror of the situation dawns on him: In the fields lie 4 more men, each torn asunder by what was clearly not wolves. Seeing the danger at hand, Cullen puts down the body and draws his sword. "A pyre will have to wait..." he says to Falos, who had followed him.

"Agreed," returns Falos "Go tell the others we are leaving." With that Cullen jogs back to Teegan and Ahnika.

Falos moves around the farmhouse. His eye catches sight of a form inside. He warily moves into the house. The floors are sticky with blood. The form he saw is that of a woman. She is draped over what was once a babe in swaddling clothes but is now no more than a bloody mess. The woman's head has been completed torn off. On the wall he recognises a word written in blood: "Mythal"

As Cullen makes his way back to Ahnika and Teegan he hears a low moan coming from the barn behind the farmhouse. Changing direction he slowly moves towards the bar, Teegan following behind.

The two are more than a little surprised to find an elven woman slumped against a pile of hay red with blood. Falos emerges from the house and the three move the woman to a nearby cart before going to get the fittest looking horse in the stables.

With fear and death in the air the group gladly turn the steps towards Vintiver, the elven woman in tow.


_____________________________


Holw cow that ended up being really long!
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Postby Riggswolfe » Mon Dec 21, 2009 7:02 am

You know, Saisei, I'll be interested to know how well things go for this group in Vintiver since the players have made a group that is pretty much guranteed to face some kind of prejudice no matter where they go.

And with two elves Vintiver should be...interesting.
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Postby Saisei » Mon Dec 21, 2009 7:19 am

I'm really looking forward to it. I'll be running it on Wednesday now so should be fun. I think what I'll do is have them encounter Coalan and the others and no matter how that ends, when they go to sleep in the tavern it gets set on fire.

An excuse to use the Burning Inn hazard! :D
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Postby Warden-UK » Mon Dec 21, 2009 8:49 am

I only skimmed the text, but I did catch how the wolf bundled over one of the characters, was this because of a stunt action?
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Postby Riggswolfe » Mon Dec 21, 2009 8:50 am

Warden-UK wrote:I only skimmed the text, but I did catch how the wolf bundled over one of the characters, was this because of a stunt action?


I'd guess it was the knockdown stunt myself.
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Postby Saisei » Mon Dec 21, 2009 9:21 am

Yep it was from a stunt. For flavour I said that the wolves pounced on top of them but didn't give the players any penalty to get up. Most actually attacked and then got up so it worked fine.


Saisei wrote:
Just as the battle seems to be entirely in favour of the wolves Falos turns the tide. He slashes viciously at one of his enemies with his dagger forcing the creature back. With the other hand he cracks down on the second wolves skull sending it sprawling into the dirt. As the creature struggles to rise Falos' sword whips back around and cleaves it's skull in two. The second wolf looks suitably wary.


This bit was actually brilliant. the battle actually was going really badly. I had taken the advice someone gave in this thread and had a wolf for each PC plus another two. At the start of the battle I though I had overdone it but in the end it turned out really good.

The above was the player getting 6 SP. He used 2 for Defensive Stance, then Skirmished, then used Lightning Strike. And he rolled amazingly well. He got 25 damage, - 3 for the wolf's AR, to take 22HP from a wolf with 21HP.

It was very cinematic and dramatic and actually completely shifted the tide of the fight.

As far as 'Things I've Learned' goes the major one is: Don't scare your PC's so much with mentions of battles you've to run from, enemies who won't hesitate to Coup De Grace, and a very real chance of death.

My PC's were ready to make a run for it when they saw the slaughter outside the farmhouse without even going in!

I would have done as the adventure suggests and maybe had Warden Tarl return with news. But it would have looked very suspicious on the PCs
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Postby discuit » Mon Dec 21, 2009 11:08 am

Saisei wrote:Yep it was from a stunt. For flavour I said that the wolves pounced on top of them but didn't give the players any penalty to get up. Most actually attacked and then got up so it worked fine.


Saisei wrote:
Just as the battle seems to be entirely in favour of the wolves Falos turns the tide. He slashes viciously at one of his enemies with his dagger forcing the creature back. With the other hand he cracks down on the second wolves skull sending it sprawling into the dirt. As the creature struggles to rise Falos' sword whips back around and cleaves it's skull in two. The second wolf looks suitably wary.


This bit was actually brilliant. the battle actually was going really badly. I had taken the advice someone gave in this thread and had a wolf for each PC plus another two. At the start of the battle I though I had overdone it but in the end it turned out really good.


That was i good Saisei, and that is exactly why i recommeded it.

After our session one thing nagged at me, and that was that the battle was way too easy. I had this gut instinct that said a groups first encounter in DA should be rough and tumble. We actually did i playtest of that first encounter twice recently in preperation for a con event, and each time the additional 2 blight wolves made it much more intense.

Stunts allow the tide of battle to turn on a dime, and imho, that is exactly what makes the DA ruleset, for combat especially, so damn cool. It narrates itself too which is an added bonus if you play with a group that arent very imaginative. ;)
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Postby Saisei » Mon Dec 21, 2009 11:21 am

I completely agree. I can see this system turning me into that which I hate most: A fanboy. lol

Genuinely though this system is hugely enjoyable. I haven't felt that at ease running a session in a long time. For me DnD became too much about tactics. It was like GMing a Wargame (And I'm not so much of a fan of wargames). But anyway, 4e has been torn asunder enough as is, I'll just say I'm exceptionally happy with the DARPG and can't wait for our second session on Wednesday.

EDIT: Oh and btw, thanks for the suggestion ;) We should try to get word to GR before they print the GM guide!
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Postby discuit » Mon Dec 21, 2009 11:32 am

Saisei wrote:EDIT: Oh and btw, thanks for the suggestion ;) We should try to get word to GR before they print the GM guide!


Yes and no. ;)

The adventure is designed for new players so maybe the current threat level is correct for that type of player. I would however suggest a little sidebar or something saying, "Hey are your players experienced at killing stuff? Well then add 2 more Blight Wolves silly!" :)
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Postby Zapp » Tue Dec 22, 2009 9:36 am

Yes, remember there is no bigger disaster than a TPK in your very first rpg fight.

Making the first fight of the first adventure for an intro rpg like DA a guaranteed pushover is quite okay.

There will be more and harder fights later in a budding gamer's career...
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Postby Drew D Scott » Tue Dec 22, 2009 9:45 am

Zapp wrote:There will be more and harder fights later in a budding gamer's career...


The fight between my group and the revengers on Sunday night could have easily resulted in a TPK, but I'll save that for the 'Things I've Learned' section of my next AP report. Christmas preparations have taken precedence for now; I'll see if I can post it in the next couple of days.
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Postby Warden-UK » Tue Dec 22, 2009 10:56 am

The adventure looks quite big, as far as those that are tagged in the back of a rpg core rule book goes at least. How does it pan out, is it straight forward, any things we should look out for?
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Postby Saisei » Tue Dec 22, 2009 11:36 am

Any quick advice for me before tomorrow Drew? Any problems you ran into in Vintiver?
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Postby Drew D Scott » Tue Dec 22, 2009 2:11 pm

The adventure is fairly straightforward, but I found it somewhat lacking in advice should the players deviate from the plot. Read the NPC entries in Vintiver and be aware of who's who: gentle nudging disguised as sage counsel went a long way toward keeping things on track at my table.

And watch out for the revengers. Seriously. 1d6+6 damage doesn't sound like much but combine it with a +5 attack bonus and stunts and things can get brutal very fast. Remember that many opponents in the adventure will flee after 50% casualties. It pretty much saved my players bacon the other night.
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Postby Saisei » Tue Dec 22, 2009 3:53 pm

Good to know. Thanks a lot.

Have to go back and reread all the NPC entries anyway.
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Postby Warden-UK » Wed Dec 23, 2009 10:21 am

I didn't want to start another thread about the Dalish Curse

How would I go about justifying my son's (he's only 10 so he can't be expected to come up with a reason) human 'mage' character, who lives in Vintiver? The character is about 19 years old, and is beginning his adventuring life.

How do the circle of magi work?

Would my son's character be an apostate until he 'turns himself in' so to speak?

Ooh the possibilities
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Postby Saisei » Wed Dec 23, 2009 10:25 am

You could have him be an Apostate. There is a Chantry in Vintiver but no Templar's so it's a possibility. But you'd have to decide if the Priestess would turn him in. It says in her character description that she is somewhat loose with the Chantry's teaching so maybe she'd help hide him or at least not turn him in.

Alternatively you could say he has been sent out by the Circle after the Harrowing. He was brought there by a Templar but the Templar was called back to Denerim. The boy is now under the watch of Sister Arda in Vintiver until the Templar returns or indefinitely.
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Postby discuit » Wed Dec 23, 2009 10:37 am

He may have been born in Vintiver, then sent to the Cirlce for training when his magic ability surfaced (either willingly or by force) by his parents, and has just now been allowed to return to visit his family following his Harrowing. Circle mages aren't always followed or escorted by Templars, only if they misbehave in some way.

Eg. Wilhelm lived in a small village left alone by the Templars providing he reported (in writing mostly) back to the Circle regularily.

It seems to me the Circle has many mages doing "unofficial" reseacrh into many subjects outside of the close watch of the Chanttry and Templars. ;)
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Postby Warden-UK » Wed Dec 23, 2009 10:55 am

I like it, thanks all

Now for a really stupid question...

Chantry and circle of mages, same, different, what are they exactly? Housing for one?
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Postby discuit » Wed Dec 23, 2009 11:21 am

The Chantry (church) "oversees" Mages to ensure they don't bring doom and destruction to Thedas. They have an order known as the Templars who are their foot soldiers and enforce the will of the Chantry. Stuff liek hunting and killing apostate mages! The Templars are given lyrium in order to grant them special powers to fight mages when need be. Anti magic stuff! Lyrium however is extremely addictive and as such the Templars become addicted, which in turn allows the Chantry to control them absolutely through their addiction. Cool huh!

As a rule the Circle abide by the will of the Chantry, but also tend to do a lot of research outside of their direct supervision, research into things the Chantry probably wouldn't like, when possible. :wink:
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Postby Warden-UK » Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:42 pm

Thanks for that discuit, very awesome indeed!
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Postby Saisei » Thu Dec 24, 2009 4:27 am

Sooo.... Last night I ran we continued our Dalish Curse adventure. We had a lot of fun. AND quite a few problems.

Mechanically everything was fine. But RP wise... I think my group shall serve as a warning to others lol.

I'll just give a run down of what happened rather than a full report.

So we had a new player joining the party. Kariel, a human Warrior. I set him up as Tarl Dale's deputy in the town. He knew some of what had happened druing the festival but hadn't actually witnessed the events.

Our game started off with Teegan our dwarf going a little bit crazy and paranoid (We think her player had too much caffeine...) and jumping about defencively when Kariel came to find out what was in the cart and saw a woman looking almost dead.

Anyway, Sister Arda was called to administer healing and a crowd began to gather. After a while Coalan emerged and upon seeing a heavily armoured elven warrior, a mysterious elven mage and a half dead elf in a cart, he got suitably irritable. Queue a run in with him and Kariel.

Eventually the crowd dispersed, Eshara was temporarily brought into the Chantry to be given first aid before being moved to a bed in The Arbor Inn.

The PC's (minus Kariel who continued patrolling) headed for the tavern where Haran was very pleasant to them, even offering them a free bottle of chilled Vintiver Red (My attempt to show the PC's that the entire town wasn't inhabited by bigots). The PC's ate and drank and retired to their private rooms.

While this had been happening Kariel returned with Eshara on a stretcher and brought her up to rest in a room. Upon leaving he encountered Coalan again who swore that they would take out justice on the elven witch. Kariel promptly turned on his boot heel and marched up to guard Eshara in her room (The elf still unconscious).

And hour or two later, once the inn was locked up, the PC's wake to hear a smash from downstairs. Some of them look out to see a huge mob gathered, the others begin to don their armour upon hearing the threats.

A back and forth between Kariel and Coalan begins (The advanced test) with Kariel failing miserably for the first few attempts to reason with the mob.

Whilst this is happening Falos, our Dalish warrior, slips away to his companions rooms and suggests they leave town immediately.

Now I'll just say at this point I was screaming internally. The players were playing perfectly in character and that was going to lead them to abandone this adventure. Agh!

Thankfully Kariel switched tactic and managed to pass the Advanced Test with Intimidation in just two rolls. The crowd dispersed with impotent threats.

Next comes a banging at the door as Teegan tries to get in to see the elf woman. Kariel refuses to let her in (Y'know.. I need her to explain to them whats I going on...). I say the woman is beginning to stir while once more stifling a scream.

So being a rogue, Teegan picks the lock and pushes the door open. Kariel draws his maul and dagger, Teegan's katar are by her hips. Now Eshara wakes up to see a lunatic with 2 weapons drawn standing near her arguing with a dwarf and a hillsmen (Who has decided to pop his head in).

While this is going on Ahnika and Falos are basically half way out the feckin window.

Finally in stomps Tarl Dale. He is polite to the two elves who seem to be trying to scamper but asks what is going on.

Aaaaaanyway, with much cajoling and promises of rewards and potentially magical item the party FINALLY agree to seek out the cause of the attacks (Along with Eshara's map).


But oh wait! That's not the end of the trouble!

Next morning off the party set, somewhat peeved at having to do the dirty work for a town that has basically been nothing but racist to them, and are then jumped by Coal and his cronies. The PC's all spot them before they are attacked and all roll better initiative.

Everyone stops and says they ready themselves to attack but only if they are attacked first. "Phew!" says me "A little bit of diplomacy!". Until it gets to Falos, who rolled the lowest initiative but still better than the enemies.

"I've had enough of this bigotry..." he mutters, loosing an arrow which bursts into Coalan's shoulder and through to the other side.

"Oh for f*ck sake!" yells Kariel.

So the fight commences with some vicious attacks, many stunt points and much awesomeness. Coal is almost completely taken out by another arrow (This from Cullen the hillsmen) and Winter's Grasp from Ahnika.

All of the party except for Kariel begin to completely whomp on their attackers. Kariel does his best to attack without doing major damage while also intimidating his foes to get back to the village.

The fight ends with no casualties. A number of the goons almost die (One left with 1hp by a brutal attack from Falos) while Kariel finishes off Coal with a stiff crack across the jaw from the butt of his maul.

Queue more in fighting between Kariel and Falos, with Kariel almost leaving the party.


And they all lived happily ever after!

The END!


____________________________


Oy. So there you have it. Now, things I've learned...

1. A party consisting of 2 elves and a dwarf are unlikely to help a town that is being quite racist.

2. The large silver link was a deterrent rather than an incentive. The PC's figured that Eshara was being chased for the link and that it would lead the darkspawn to them if they took it.

3. Even the offer of monetary gain wasn't really enough to convince a party that been so poorly treated to take up the cause of the town.



Jebus. Never has it been so infuriating to have players play in character lol.

Don't get me wrong we had a fantastic session as far as roleplaying goes and there's no way i can fault the players for that. It was aggrivating though having to somewhat railroad my party.

The session has given me a lot to think about. My party aren't just out for adventure. I need to get a clearer list of goals from them so that I can gear adventures towards what they want. The setting itself (I feel) doesn't lend itself to gallivanting heroes trapsing around the country to save the day. It's not going to work and I'm actually going to abandone an adventure I had planned.

So my warning is that if you have players for this adventure, just think about whether they actually will WANT to save the village.
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