Friday, May 03, 2019

Terrinoth #37 - Strongholds and Followers

(image from MCDM Productions)

Running and Prepping the Game

I'll skip right to the Running and Prepping the Game section here, since this part of the session was done mostly OOC.

I was initially a little apprehensive about running this part of the game, as the players have not been the most enthusiastic when I announced I wanted to transition the game to a "domain" game - certainly with a new group I would not have proceeded, but with this group I felt we have been playing together long enough for me to push things a little. Just a little.

I began by asking the players what they wanted to do now that they have their own "stronghold". They talked about establishing trade routes, improving the agricultural productivity (yes, one player did), and setting up an alchemy lab.

I grinned, told them to 'hold that thought', and then played the first encounter.

A dragonkin Knight-Sorcerer named Amran Ambrol turned up at their tower one morning, and challenged Strigoi to a duel to the death. Amran is based on the concept for the B Team character for Strigoi's player; we never did use him, so I thought it would be a nice opportunity to bring him into the story. In his days as a mercenary captain Strigoi had "neutralised" many dragonkin settlements, and now the survivor from one of them had come to avenge his family.

The stats for Amran is based on that of a Retainer from the Strongholds and Followers supplement. He was of course no match for Strigoi, but the orc was impressed by the young knight's courage, and offered to take him as a retainer and train him. Amran agreed, but said he reserved his right to vengeance. Percy thought it was a bad idea for Strigoi to train someone who might one day be able to defeat him, but Strigoi's logic was that as his disciple grew stronger, so would he; and in any case, death in combat was preferred to death in a bed.

I handed Strigoi's playing a piece of paper with the Amran's stats on them, and then passed out more all round, based on what the players said they wanted to do for the village; most were NPCs they have met in their adventures so far.

There was Trystan, the smith who made a scabbard for the magical sword Strigoi found in the first adventure, now come to seek employment.

There was Uth'rul, the dragonkin farmer and his family, whose lives the party saved from a lynch mob; they have come seeking some land to build their new home and farm on.

There was Zach and Brach, the gnomish merchants whom they met on the way to Nornholt; they asked for the right to hold a market at the village, for a cut of their profits, and to help Entana gather information of the lands around them (and spread misinformation, if he so desired).

There was Gartulf, whose inn was burned down when Mondock attacked the PCs when they were staying there; he wanted to set up a tavern at Fulhurst, and offered taxes in exchange for the monopoly on brewing and sale of alcoholic beverages.

There was Glint Khertrason, son of the dwarven metal merchant whom the players met at the inn. He offered his services as a miner for bog iron found in the swamp on the village land.

Two bards offered their services: Wilhem of Woodside, who left his village and began life as a traveling minstrel after the death of his beloved, and Elvahn the Trabadour-warrior, a fan of Gio and the composer of an opera based on his adventures (that closed after a week in the theatres of Nerekhall).

And of course, there was Til Terraghast, the gnomish alchemist-wizard, who was sadly asked to return another day... but I have plans for him, so he will definitely be back.

The NPCs were either retainers, who acted more like henchmen and could go adventuring with the PCs, or artisans, who "stayed at home" at the village, but conferred certain benefits to the PCs, like helping them gain information, or in the form of taxes. Retainers cost (I decided) the party 3 gp per
level per month, while artisans could bring in 10 to 15 gps per month.

To make this list, I went through my notes for the campaign and made a list of all the NPCs who may made made an impression, and who could reasonably offer their services to the PCs. Some of these matched the roles given in the Strongholds and Followers supplement, while others I made up to suit. I feel that offering them choices of NPCs whom the players had a history with made things more real and engaging.

The catch was, each PC could only take on as many retainers or artisans as their Charisma modifier, with the minimum of one, plus one for each level of the tower.

The players spent a good hour discussing which followers to keep, and debated over the wisdom of taking the right to brew ale from the villagers for money. Eventually they settled on taking in the metalsmith and the miner, for the synergy, and because they suspected they would eventually need an army, and these two artisans granted bonuses to troops; Entana granted Uth'rul and his family land, Strigoi took on the Amran, and Percy took on a healer retainer, and Gio took on Zach and Brach. Sadly there was no place for Til, but the players plan to take him on as soon as they upgraded their tower.

With the addition of more people to the household, the party needed to expand the keep. The PCs all chipped in for their share, and I gave Entana's player the task of drawing out the floor plan for their build. All these, I imagined, came together: trees were cut down for use in the construction and for the forge, and the land was granted to Uth'rul. The bog iron could be sold off to Zach and Brach, or be made into items by Trystan, which could then be sold... we got a whole medieval economy going on here.

By the end of the session the players were pretty pumped up at the prospects of getting their own space in the keep.

On my part the NPCs are a source of drama and dressing for gameplay.

I imagine Glint and Trystan would be working closely together. Will they get along? Or will they be at constant loggerheads, necessitating intervention from the PCs?

Amran and Uth'rul would most likely find a common bond, but how will the villagers feel about having suddenly to live alongside so many non-humans (six dragonkin, a dwarf, an orc, and a gnome)?

Amran will also likely share the duty of the guard at the keep, and of course there will be tension between him and Strigoi.

The upgrading of the tower would take about two months in game time. I asked the players what their characters would like to do during this period.

Entana did some spell research based on the rules in Strongholds and Followers, and now has a more powerful version of Magic Missile.

Gio wants to accompany Zach and Brach on their travels to the surrounding villagers and gather intelligence on what is going on in the region, as well as to spread tales of his adventures.

Percy decided to explore the lands around the village, and to get to know the villagers.

Strigoi wants to train Amran, and learn about mining and forging from Glint and Trystan.

It will be around six months in real life before we return to this campaign, and during this time I want to prepare the plot for the next arc, and paint up the figures required for it.

No comments: