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A roleplaying campaign blog (WHFRP)


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#1
Walsingham

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I'm refereeing a game of old skool (1980s ed) Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WHFRP) and I thought I'd lay out the campaign as it unfolds as a resource for other GMs. I'll try and describe each but with specific colour, but with broader themes highlighted.

PLEASE DO MAKE SUGGESTIONS if you think of any way to throw in new characters and subplots.

Note that I'm startintg with only one PC, and I'm deliberately going to work others in as we go along as a way of building commitment by my mates to the game sessions.

~~~

Stage 1 - 1 PC - Estalia, Irrana Mountains, some 100 miles of difficult terrain southeast of the port of Bilbali

WHFRP doesn't let you choose most bits about your character, you roll them so my first player had no choice but to surprise me with a youngish dwarf of sinister disposition who was nonetheless an initiate in the cult of Grungni Dwarven God of mining. I chose the location because I wanted to break away from the classic Warhammer Old World and I'd read For Whom The Bell Tolls quite recently along with a bunch of Spanish Civil War history. The Estalian kingdom is as far west and away from 'official' chaos and goblins as you can get. Politically we're talking pre-Imperial Spain. Geographically we're talking hot dry dusty lands with some fertile valleys. Easy GM territory thanks to limited settlements.

The game begins in a dwarven mining colony of some 200 souls. Background for the colony is that they were instructed to set up and colonise an area far from goblin/chaos incursions as a strategic move. They've been in residence only a few generations, but have quarried out the soft sandstone and made a couple of large halls, a chapel, and various dwellings. They trade with local human communities for basic foodstuffs in exchange for building skills, smithying, and copper jewellery. They send shipments of stone building blocks down hill to meet up with the large river where blocks are sent to Bilbali for building. They also have enough material mined to make bronze utensils and fitting for armour, like hinges and rivets, which they also sell.

Politically the chief of the clan and his cadre of warriors are aloof, and effective. But the heart of the community is the old priest who is the PC's mentor. He strictly observes all tenets of his faith, including regularly inspecting the mine workings, and checking safety standards.

~

The adventure begins on a feast day. The snows have finally melted past the entrance to the caverns, and to celebrate everyone is indoors letting off steam. The PC is greeted on waking with a sweet but leathery apple and instructed to have fun. The apple, it seems, has come as a gift from the nearby human village in a very astute display of friendship along with a variety of other preserved fruit.

Although only a few dwarves are already drinking almost all of them will be tanked up by the afternoon. Most are sharing food, embracing, and singing. Many have brought out private crafts which they have been working on all winter: weapons, armour, clothing, pottery. They will sell these to other dwarves at a bargain rate, and our PC buys a helmet, warhammer, and colourful wool cloak in white, green, and red. He takes part in two arm wrestling matches, but eschews the races on foot seeing participants stripping off naked. He also see the older dwarevs playing a game like chess, which he suggests altering to have drinking between rounds, like chess boxing. People like his suggestion (having passed a intelligence and fellowship test), but failing a leadership test, no one actually tries it. He gets XP. He gets drunk. He passes out.

~

The next day he is woken gruffly by his senior and told that he will be taking a cartload of presents in return to the village. 30 loaves of twice baked bread, two boxes of iron nails, and a handful of pottery urns. It is explained that in order for the dwarves to give a gift it HAS to be given by a priest. Otherwise it forms an unspoken contract of obligation. It shows how appreciative the dwarves were of the fruit that he is being sent. A myriad other pieces of advice are given him, along with the cart, goods, and small shaggy pony. He is expected to arrive at the village mid afternoon, and stay the night with them.

Setting out the sky is wide open and blue in an unsettling way for a dwarf. It is sunny, and irritatingly hot (for someone used to living under a rock), but cooled by breezes. The path runs alongside a small stream, the two communities share, flanked by high vegetation and trees. Mildly disoriented he fails two initiative checks and is pounced on by a starving wolf! Fortunately the wolf misses, and the other two wolves fail their cool rolls and don't muster courage to attack. They are all rake thin after winter in the mountains, and appear to have already been in at least one recent fight. The pony, meanwhile crit fails its attack on the wolf, trips over the cart, falls, and snaps its leg. The PC decides aginst fighting and abandons the pony as a means of getting away himself. the wolves feast and let him go.

~

Our PC heads into the village, some hour distant on foot, and explains what's happened. The richest villager gathers his cart and two sons, and goes with the dwarf to the wrecked cart, where they load up the gifts, and come back. There is no sign of the wolves apart from the mutilated pony. All failed challenging intelligence rolls or they'd have noticed that something with a knife had cut some chunks out of the pony.

Going back to the village by dusk the dwarf is invited to share a dinner, and most of the village cram into the house of the richest peasant (the one with the cart) and they share round dishes of crumbled up dwarf bread, cheese with nettles, boiled and refried in onions and garlic, mutton sausage, thin red wine, and apple brandy. The elders bore him wth background information on the area, while the young folk flirt inexpertly. It seems the village has six families with a distinct pecking order. The richest one trades goods downstream with his cart and horse. the remainder manage their fruit trees and vineyards on top of small crops of vegetables and hunting the scarce game. Several goatherds work in the area, trading their wares and bringing in information of the surrounding area. All start out disposed to be freindly but teh dwarf fails his fellowship and intelligence test and makes an ass of himself. Although not enough to spoil overall relations.

Going outside to relieve himself, the dwarf notices a figure in rags in the shadows clearly fixated on one young human girl with very blonde hair. He pays no notice as the figure backs into the shadows.

After dinner the younger folk are sent to their homes to get some sleep for the work in the morning. But the older men stay up to smoke and think and talk and ask questions of the dwarf who is still distressingly too tipsy to answer intelligently. But his good humour makes up for this, and the mood is convivial as the older women clean and sort out who gets which gifts.

Suddenly an old woman bursts in an whispers to the third most prestigious family head. He seems unhappy and doesn't want to be bothered, so the woman raises her voice. It seems Lyssandre has not come home. She insists that the men rouse themselves and find her. The dwarf fails his fellowship test so he misses the glances between the men, which suggest she's probably up to no good with one of the young men. But they grab lanterns and head out.

~

Eventually there is a shout of serious alarm, and people rush through the warm night to a chilling sight. On the very edge of one of the orchards, partially drawn into the undergrowth, lies the body of Lyssandre. She has been partly disrobed and stabbed multiple times. A cool check to gain insanity points emphasised the scene quite economically. The dwarf resist the urge to get all crime scene, earning XP, but dscretely looks around the area. He notices that there has been quite a lot of traffic through the undergowth albeit he can't tell how many people or when.

The villagers blame each other, and things get heated until one suggests it could be the beggar who has been hanging around. The dwarf needs begging explained to him, and he gets confused, thinking it sounds like a priest. But not being particularly nice he doesn't bother questioning the diagnosis. He offers to stay and protect the women, while the men search, but they insist he goes with the search party since he can see in the dark and they can't. Plus he's the only one who looks like a warrior. A fine rain begins to fall, and the womenfolk wrap up the body with much wailing.

~

The 'chase' through the night is slightly shambolic because nobody is a tracker, but fortunately for them the quarry is sticking to the path, and his feet and stick is very clear. then, as they try to navigate the path near a waterfall the dwarf loses his footing and crashes down on top of the beggar, sending both of them hurtling through a bush and down a scree slope. The dwarf regains his footing as he goes down, but the beggar does not, twists his ankle and lies in a stupor, muttering. While the rest of the chase catches up going the long way down teh dwarf has time to inspect the clearly unthreatening beggar. Intelligence checks reveal all key points:
- The beggar only has a stick, not a knife
- The beggar is filthy with dirt, but he's not soaked in blood, which he would have been if he'd stabbed the girl
- No one actually saw the beggar do anything to the girl
- the beggar left the village only shortly before the chase began but the girl could have been murdered hours before. Why wait so long to run?

The group assembles and can't agree what should happen. The dwarf points out the flaws in his guilt, but only succeeds in getting them to agree to wait until morning. So they assit teh beggar in walking back up hill to the village.


~

On arrival back at the village they get a shock. Fires are lit outside, and there is much hubbub. It seems that barely ten minutes ago there was a shouted scream, and one of the younger boys disappeared!

TO BE CONTINUED

#2
Darque

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What? Too good for the new "dice" version of WHFRP? :)

#3
Walsingham

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What? Too good for the new "dice" version of WHFRP? :)


Too cheap to stump up for a new copy! I dug this one out of my friend's attic. The jabberwock has a moustache drawn on it in faded pencil.

#4
Walsingham

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Stage 2

You will recall that we ended the previous stage with the shock revelation that the beggar could not have murdered the girl because just minutes before they turend up another child disappeared with a scream. The beggar was then taken into the largest house in the village and propped up in a chair, while the dwarven PC and the men of the village argued about what to do next. The dwarf, seeing the better part of valour, argued successfully that he should stay put and look after the women folk. It is worth pointing out that his leadership stat was 49%.

Meanwhile, the second PC was 'parachuted' into his character - that of the beggar! He was informed that he knew nothing of where he was, could not remember his name, age, origin, or even what language people were speaking. His character had been pre-rolled and to compensate for not having any choice I'd elected to give him +1 to toughness. With his randomly determined stats, plus his elective starting bonus his toughness was 6! This is a truly impressive toughness, equivalent to a normal human wearing felt, chainmail, and plate armour. His other personal stats were rather poor, and this tied in wonderfully with his true background - although I won't yet say what that is.

The beggar ate, while the dwarf was lead across the stream to comfort one of the bereaved mothers. Three of the younger men went into the woods on the south side of the village and were immediately - but unbeknownst to the players - engaged in a fierce fight. It was only when the surviving two young men ran back towards teh village shouting that the alarm was really raised.

Keep in mind that the time is just after midnight, and the villagers have lit several bonfires. When I have time later I will draw a map and describe the events of the ensuing battle.

#5
Tigranes

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This is awesome wals. Please carry on. :shifty:

#6
Walsingham

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Thanks, Tigs. I was getting a bit discouraged by the quiet. >_<

Blue:

1 dwarf PC, helmet, warhammer, no other armour, toughness 4
1 human beggar, stout stick, and quite quickly a short bow which he "felt strongly he knew how to use", no armour at all besides his ludicrous toughness of 6 (human standard is 3)
1 NPC youth with a bow and a passion for fighting; demonstrated by two consecutive leadership crit successes which I took as a sign he'd be playing a strong role
4 NPC bowmen/boys with strength 3 bows
4 (quite understandably) nervous NPC men/boys with sticks/billhooks/farming tools - used as standard weapons under the rules
Assorted noncombatants


Red:

26 lesser goblins
4 energetic and motivated lesser goblins
All armed with an assortment of poorly made melee weapons, no effective armour, and a smattering of bows

Terrain:

I'm not going to draw a map, just yet. I'm not in the mood. Maybe later, if my explanation is incomprehensible.

The village of Jarrada sits at the bottom of a shallow east-west valley, straddling a 2-6 foot wide mountain stream. It is six hours walk to the dwarfhold through thick woods, and two days walk downhill to the nearest larger village. The slope runs east-west at a gentle incline at this point.

The southern side of the valley consists of deep woodland, turning to apple orchards. It is from this direction that the goblins are coming. There are three buildings on the south side. One (at the northern end) building [House 1] belongs to the girl, Lyssandre, who was murdered and for both scene-setting and story purposes it is important to emphasise the small capering figures burning and trashing the building. The dancing fiery light from this burning building will serve to illuminate the action. There are also two watchfires lit on the south bank, although they will burn down slower. The other two buildings belong [House 2/3] to the same family and are in close proximity, about half way down the village, and some 15 feet from the stream. Close to the south of them are a number of stone and wood kraals which the local goatherds use on occasion. Although there are no goats in them at present.

The stream itself is too wide and fast flowing for the goblins to cross at will, while humans could have jumped it with a dexterity check (but never did). There are, however, two fording points. One is almost dead centr of the village, opposite house 2. This is only 2 foot wide, and is easy for humans. The lesser goblins must make leadership tests to jump it, combining fear of the jump with fear of humans. The other ford, which was rarely used, but important for spreading the threat, is a wider shallower one used by livestock, some twenty feet west of the thin ford. Upstream of these points the river is wide (6 foot) and deep. Below these points the river becomes much faster flowing as the ground drops away.

Immediately on the north bank is house 4, which is some ten feet east of the thin ford. It is a relatively small house. Directly north of that house is the large and low house 5. To the east of both next to the road is a communal stone winery where they make and store wines and cider. It is a strong building, made of cridely dressed stone, but without windows. Only a very large double wooden door.

The biggest house is at the western edge of the village, and is built around a much older single story square stone tower. This is house 6, and in our game it's where the villagers very quickly assembled, having eaten there earlier in the evening.

All the houses in the villlage consist in the main of cemented stone foundations (dwarven know-how) to a height of two-three feet, topped by timber frame and wattle and daub. The roofs are thatched, but at the end of winter they are very damp, if threadbare in places.

North of the village, the slopes are long rows of bare grape vines. The night is not moonlit, but running away in that direction won't be easy.


Blue Behaviour:

If left to their own devices the Blue NPCs will tend to try and lock themselves indoors, firing bows from the windows until they exhaust their ammunition. Various noncombatants have hidden themselves in their own houses and will expose this fact at inopportune moments. However, the PCs have the option of suggesting short orders with a leadership check. On several occasions the PCs missed a vital move, like counter-attacking a bridge head by the goblins, and I rolled leadership checks for the villagers. In our game they failed uniformly. (Leadership 33)

The villager NPCs have no great plan, but they will resist any attempt to get them to leave the village. This is actually common sense, as any retreat through darkened woods would turn into a massacre. Our dwarven PC actually wanted this so he could escape under cover of the massacre. Fortunately for our kind villagers he failed these leadership tests. Conversely when he told them to act sensibly he always passed!

Red Behaviour:

The goblins vastly outnumber the players, and have the advantage of movement, and concealment in the shifting darkness. Every round any Blue are exposed they will receive a number of arrows fired at them, diminishing with goblin casualties. I stuck to 2-3. The goblin bows are strength 2.

However, the goblins as a whole don't have much appetite for pressing an attack against the humans. Keep track of casualties of their numbers but the really important ones are the four keen goblins. It is these goblins that will attack by themselves or chivvying on their cowardly brethren. Kill all four and the remainder will be very very unlikely to continue. Not that the players will know this. They have identical crappy stats, but are assumed to want to fight unless something awful happens to them wounding wise.

The goblins are not very savvy in general, but their options are really limited. They will cheerfully fire arrows across the river in skirmish fashion, and will probe the flanks along the river, to no avail. Their main aim is to get at all the frightened human non-combatants, torture and eat them. If things get too tough, though, they will certainly run back to their camp nearby. Tough in this context means losing all four keen goblins or more than half their original number. With no armour, and atughness of 2 this is quite plausible.

One thing to keep firmly in mind is that goblins and dwarves are subject to hatred of each other. Our dwarf crit passed his cool check, and was able to maintain a level head. But the goblins didn't and sadly for the PCs this made them very much more determined to fight than normal. Even after the last keen goblin had been killed the remainder made one attempt en masse to force the ford. But our heroes made a show of face and hauled their badly wounded selves to the thin ford and - after killing three - the mob failed their leadership test and ran like hell. It was a pretty close run thing, with the dwarf sustaining a broken hand and reduced to a short knife.

Daylight doesn't bother lesser goblins, but they will be knackered out by dawn and want to retreat to get some sleep.

Tactical Note:

The fight takes place on an overcast night, with plenty of fires. This wrecks most night vision. All information should come in via an initiative check. Major failures will mean the players get the wrong impression. Ditto for the goblins. Uncertainty about the flanks, the darkness, the crying and lamentation of the women, and the horrifying smell of cooked meat will compound the sense of desparation.

However, with such amateurish forces at work, there will be definite pauses in the action throughout the night. Although at each point teh players shoudl have limited planning time before some new goblin move is spotted. Fire arrows (ineffective), bridging the stream etc.

In our game it never came to a final fight, but the most sensible place to hole up is the short tower attached to house 6. Although there is only room for around eight to ten people in the tower, which makes it unfeasible at the outset.

Result:

Our dwarf PC attempted repeatedly to run away and leave the humans to their fate. But on each occasion, courtesy of the goblin dice throwing, he was thwarted. Taking the alternative he fought hard right at the ford, and was badly wounded early on by a sword to the groin. The villagers applied poultices, but he remained at just above critical until the final fight when he was critically injured in his hand. He issed several sensible commands which were obeyed, earning him a total of 130 xp along with the roleplaying.

The beggar roleplayed excellently - including resisting the urge to probe his memory too far - and decided on balance to fight rather than run. He appropriated a bow from a dead villager, and a stout stick from a woodpile. With these he killed some 6 goblins. He earned a total of 100 xp. He was basically uninjured.

After the goblins were seen off they waited to till morning and took everyone to the dwarf hold. The enws of goblins, so far from known settlements, shook everyone up badly. The clansire and his 1- strong bodyguard set off immediately on recconaissance, leaving 30 ish fighting dwarves behind. The PCs tried lying at first for no good reason, but the priest saw through the lies. On hearing their true story there was much hailing of them as stout fellows (muted by the titchiness of their opponents). Their wounds were dressed, and the broken fingers cured by magic. The dwarf received an iron gauntlet for his busted hand, and a mail shirt. The dwarves totally failed to understand what a beggar was, and decided on principle to give the beggar help anyway. They bathed him, trimmed his hair, got rid of the lice, and gave him a robe to use as a tunic a simple brown cloak, new shoes, a belt, and a heavy steel helmet. Their looted goblin kit was taken away politely but firmly and burned.

#7
Oner

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Thanks, Tigs. I was getting a bit discouraged by the quiet. >_<

Hey, if I read, I read quietly, not announce it to the whole city. :lol:

#8
Walsingham

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Cool!

I need some ideas for a plot involving at least two noble houses. What are they trying to achieve? What with? Ideas for characters, you get the picture. Next session will probably be on Thursday.

#9
Oner

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I know zilch about Warhammer, and this is essentially a brainstorming, but here goes:
The king information that one of the old and powerful noble houses is staging a coup against him. One house is lead by a cunning merchant (and leader of the biggest thieves guild around). There are rumors that one house has very good connections to the TG, but no one knows who it is precisely. Nevertheless, the king suggests taking care of them. What he doesn't know is that they're (this once) innocent. What the players don't know is that the thieves are blackmailing the king with whatever info (anonymously of course), and the king wouldn't mind seeing the thieves taken care of either way. Regardless, the thieves don't care about (in fact, discourage) any putsches, because they have the king on a leash that is as short as it can get.
On the other side is, for example, the house that has been supplying the kingdom with hierophants for generations and are above suspicion. They have captured (read: hired) the "heretic" who leaks the putsch info, blaming a third house (dunno, a house of accomplished wizards?). The heretic would later be given over to the temple to be executed (or let go, so maybe the players could spot him later in the city or something) by inquisitors. Their aim, I dunno.. create enough mayhem to collapse the corrupt infrastructure and cleanse the nobility, or simply to weaken the power bases to allow a neighboring country to invade and the priests would gain greater worldly benefits and/or more followers (other country would sanction this faith or something) as compensation. Most of the local church don't know his of course, but they don't need to..

#10
Gorth

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1 human beggar, stout stick, and quite quickly a short bow which he "felt strongly he knew how to use", no armour at all besides his ludicrous toughness of 6 (human standard is 3)

Sounds like either a very short Ogre or a mutant :)

#11
Walsingham

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@gorth: actually, using his 100xp he applied the +1 toughness from his career path and now has toughness 7, which is equivalent to a giant or jabberwock

@Oner: I like this. But I think it needs developing.

I've decided that the girl who was killed was a daughter from a noble house. She was sent into the mountains to live with the realtives of a feudal retainer in order to protect her from enemies. BUt the enemies are not officially her enemies. Possibly a more ruthless branch of the same family? Her father's/mother's side?

I can picture a band of horsemen turning up with a captain of the house at their head, demanding the girl. The locals will all say she's dead but of course the body will have been burned by the goblins in House 1. So they won't get any 'satisfactory' answers and will haul the PCs back for prolonged questioning. The dwarf's mates won't like this when they find out but they're going to be busy with a goblin invasion.

#12
WorstUsernameEver

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Wow that's quite long. I'll read it but now I really have no time (and no mental strength to be honest).

#13
Walsingham

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I've decided that the girl in question was promised in marriage to another house, and that the union of the two houses will bring peace a stability to the land, but the people who are doing it are wankers. Of course it's also true that the girl is dead now, so that's not going to help. But it will explain why the

I need some spanish names for these noble houses.

I also need some subplots to throw in the works of the main plot which will be a search for the dead girl.

Got it! The opponents of the two families will be keen on 'rescuing' the PCs before they can divulge the whereabouts of the girl.

Also, the main families may decide the dwarves have got the girl. This in turn may lead inadvertantly to a human army descending on the dwarfhold ... just as it is about to be attacked by goblins! :ermm: Yes... yes...

#14
Gorth

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I need some spanish names for these noble houses.


http://members.cox.n...-generator.html or http://www.atlantaga...Names/index.php?

Does male and female in a number of languages (including Spanish)

Edit: Plan B - Get Numberguy to send you a phone book :ermm:

#15
Walsingham

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Thanks, Gorth. But I think it would be more fun if you chaps suggest the names.

#16
Gorth

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Nobility have fairly long names in Spanish, don't they?

Alonzo Francisco Juan de Navarra y Gorthoba etc.

Edit: Might give it a more "exotic" flavour if you introduce regional Iberian languages. Looked up a few Basque phrases: Xanti Basajaun, Matxin Josepe etc. Could be passed of as "Old Estalian" I suppose. Maybe look up a few Visigoth words too?

#17
Walsingham

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Great thinking, Gorth. I particularly like Matxin Josepe de Gorthoba. And the Maria-Anna Basajuan de Gorthoba is the girl's mother. I have also decided that she has an elder sister who - in true Philip Marlowe fashion - will be the spitting image of the dead girl Lyssandre. The beggar will fall in love with her eventually, as he fell in love with her younger sister. But he still won't be able to recall the events of that deadly night, or his part in them.

It occurs to me that there might be a broader theme here. Why was Lyssandre blond? Was she the fruit of some illicit union? If she was then is her sister also? Who wants to know this? How would they prove it? Magic? Where is Numbers when you need him? I want a more Spanish feel to the plot and I don't feel like it's there yet.

As for the PCs I think I may spin a broad theme of battling one's internal forces. Clearly our beggar has issues from teh past he would rather forget. but I think our cowardly dwarf may find it takes a brave manto be a coward in the service of Grungni. If he persist I think I shall drop his movement by 1 with stiff knees. But perhaps give him an outsized ist where he broke it and had it mended with Grungni's magic. A message from his god to fight and not flee. :ermm:

#18
Gorth

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I was kidding about the Gorthoba part... :ermm:

#19
Walsingham

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I know. :ermm:

I have also decided that I won't curse our dwarf with sore knees unless he submits himself to the vigil to attain full cleric status and magical powers.

#20
Gorth

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I have also decided that I won't curse our dwarf with sore knees unless he submits himself to the vigil to attain full cleric status and magical powers.

A Dwarf with magical powers?!?

Valaya will have his liver for breakfast :p




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