Friday, October 02, 2020

Return to Terrinoth: Five Torches Deep in Barrowmaze

(Image from DriveThruRPG)

Changes in my work schedule has finally allowed me to return to Monday evening sessions after a seven-month hiatus. I had wanted to go back to A Team and complete the campaign arc, but not everyone was ready to get back to gaming yet, and to be honest the players had forgotten where we left off, so I just retconned it such that the PCs just lived happily ever after in their little village...

To cope with everyone's schedule, I decided start a new campaign, and fall back on the same format I used for our Space Opera campaign: a drop-in, drop-out (what I call) 'East Marches' style.

For the rules, I decided on Five Torches Deep, which is a simpler, cut-down version of 5E, with some nice mechanics for the resource-management part of old school style D&D.

For the campaign, I decided I will finally try to run a megadungeon. I don't know how long our new campaign will last, so I wanted something that can last maybe more than a dozen sessions, and a megadungeon seemed like a good way to keep the 'plot' contained and something that's easier to prep for.

The key then was finding a megadungeon module that would fit inside my current game world of Terrinoth, and also make sense to me. Huge Underdark campaigns that involve Drows are cool, but don't really fit in Terrinoth, while those that featured more traditional dungeons are usually the products of mad wizards' minds, which was not what I was looking for.

The perfect solution came in the form of Barrowmaze, which not only made sense as an "ecosystem", but also dovetailed with our previous campaigns.

Both the A Team and the B Team campaigns started off in the Ashen Hills, a desolate region that was home to ancient standing stones and barrows of a forgotten civilisation. I decided that after their exploits, the local garrison became aware of the treasure hoards that may be buried in the barrows. Word reached the Baron, and he decided that best way to profit off these treasure hoards was to lease the rights to "explore" the region to private contractors. A charter was thus granted to an Adventurer's Guild, which had the right to remove treasures from the barrows in a specific region, with the Baron getting a cut of the proceeds.

Our PCs are thus adventurers from all across the realm of Terrinoth, who had joined up to seek their fortune... or die trying.

This being an old school campaign, PC death is a real possibility, and I asked each player to create two characters; they can choose to play either one for a given session, and if a character died the player will simply use his other character, and create another level one character as a back-up.

The characters so far are:

Aksinya, Human Zealot (Druid of Kurnos)

Erik, Dunwarr Dwarf Warrior (Barbarian)

Folly, Human Mage (Warlock)

Francis, Human Zealot (Paladin of Kellos)

Grak, Broken Plains Orc Warrior

Graves, Low-Born Elf Zealot (Druid)

Kelso, Deep Elf Mage (Warlock)

Kimly, Forge Dwarf Warrior (Fighter)

Laethan Autumnloft, Low-Born Elf Warrior (Ranger). Died on 1st Ostar at the hands of a undead in barrow #34.

Leowe Blackclaw, Stone-Dweller Orc raised by Forge Dwarves, Mage (Sorcerer)

Madian Moonridge, Human Mage (Wizard)

Moonshadow, Low-Born Elf Thief (Assassin)

Piper Willowwind, Gnome Thief

Tamira Reid, Free Cities Elf Zealot (Cleric of Kellos). Died on 18th Ostar when she sacrified her life to destroy the Heart of Nodros.

I will update the list as the campaign progress, and in the event of a PC death, also chronicle how the character met his or her end.

With a megadungeon format, chronicling the sessions in the traditional format I have used will probably be difficult, so I decided to try to write up the progress of the PCs in the form of the Guild Ledger, recording briefly which barrows they have visited (plundered) and what they found inside. This will serve the 'real-life' purpose of reminding me what happened and to update the description of each location in the module.

The records may seem dry at first, but one of the reasons why I chose to play Barrowmaze is that there is in fact a meta-plot to the whole campaign, so if you will be patient, all will be revealed in time...


Maxamillian said...

If I remember correctly, I followed this blog several years ago now. It was more for the wargaming side of things, but returning now as more of a rpg player. Saw the barrowmaze cover and instantly recognised it. I've not played it, but it's definitely on the list of possibilities (maybe once my current Caverns of Thracia open-table draws to a close).

captain arjun said...

Hi MW!

Yes, my blog started as a wargaming blog, but a few years ago I started playing RPG on a regular basis, and so I decided to document my sessions here too.

These days it's a task balancing between wargaming and RPG: there is only that much leisure time a week!

Glad to learn that you are also running a megadungeon: I will have to spend some time reading your Caverns of Thracia reports today and try to benefit from your experience!

SteveHolmes11 said...

Great to see that Terrinoth is back!!