The Weavers' Loom

Session Three
New Heroes, Old Foes
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Session Two - Saving the Brauers' Bacon
Goblins -- and one keg of ale -- meet their end

“Well,” remarks Jamis Wompley as you finish piling up the dead but thoroughly-looted goblin corpses, “I doubt we’ve seen the last o’ their kind. Little beasts’ve been coming ’round these parts every few months now for the last year or so.” The portly tavernkeeper sets down five mugs of ale on a table near you and wipes his hands on his apron before smoothing out his handlebar moustache. He learns over and peers out the nearby window, running a hand over his bald pate. “Looks like we won’t have too long to wait, either. Look, just there.”

The middle-aged barman nods toward the window and points toward the lights coming from the brewery and the small shadows that pass before them. “Little bastard’s’re making a move on those Brauer brothers’ place. Now, were I a bettin’ man, which, of course, I am, I’d bet a fair crown that helpin’ those brothers out could earn me more than a few back.”

Jamis’s hint of future reward on your collective minds, peering out the window you see the silhouettes of three goblins outside the brewery.

After fighting off the goblins in Jamis Wompley’s Creaky Loom tavern, the heroes set their sights on a new threat: goblins that were stealing kegs of ale from the Brauer brothers’ brewery. The goblins were ready for the heroes and the moment they peaked their heads out of the tavern, the heroes found themselves under a volley of arrows and divine wrath. The three goblins — two archers and a priest of Maglubiyet — fired on the heroes from a distance (which the heroes quickly closed). Althea, the halfling cleric of Sehanine, took a number of serious hits early on and spent a good amount of time recovering. The rest of the group waded into the fray, with Isiri, the Razorclaw shifter barbarian, charging headlong into the goblin priest. The rest of the party worked their way toward the fresh crowd of goblins emerging from the brewery carrying kegs. Jadzeah blasted a goblin warrior with an arcane torrent of thunder, blasting him backward through a dropped keg, ruining it. Ny slinked around the battlefield, cursing several of the goblins with twisted energies from beyond the stars, blasting any in his way with dark magics. Forcing his way into the heart of the battle, Kwill locked many of the goblins down, bringing down righteous fury upon them while his allies beset them spell and blade.

Once the fight was over, Henrik Brauer, younger of the two Brauers (and the one that’s not the master brewer), came out to meet with the heroes and offer them a small reward. Ny rifled the bodies of the dead, lying to the others about how much gold he found on the bodies. Jadzeah was the only one who saw through Ny’s deception and, in private, used magic to intimidate him into the truth. Ny, an inveterate liar and professional bastard, continued to lie to Jadzeah, continuing to claim less than he actually found, but offering to split the difference with her if she’d keep quiet. In what could have been a defining moment of a future partnership between the group’s two arcanists, Jadzeah agreed. Meanwhile, Althea and Isiri found the tracks of an escaping goblin spotter and quickly assessed that Isiri would easily be able to follow the path whenever they were ready to take up the hunt. Kwill walked with the younger Brauer, inventorying the brewery storehouse to find that only two kegs were unaccounted for. As he talked to Henrik, Kwill discovered a bit of history of the town’s trouble with goblins: while the goblins have been assaulting the town at regular intervals for a year now, a few months back, their depredations ended up stealing a bunch of records from the Lodge, seat of the local government; not a usual sort of haul for goblin raiders. Further, Kwill remembered some rumors he had heard that Henrik is the center of Weaver’s Lodge small group of organized criminals; “Brauer’s boys” are believed to run all of the gambling and smuggling operations in and around the Lodge.

The heroes now have some clues to future events and at least passing familiarity with someone who could be an important patron in the future. Why are goblins harassing Weaver’s Lodge? Why are they stealing records? What could the heroes’ friendship with Henrik Brauer mean for their future “business prospects?”

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Session One - Party Crashers!
What's worse than uninvited goblins?

There are some who suggest that every universe is completely unlike any other; that each universe is, if you’ll pardon the expression, a unique and beautiful snowflake. These people, well intentioned as they may be, could best be described as idiots. Aside from recklessly bandying about with bad metaphors, these idiots ignore any number of truisms that the fabric of reality firmly weaves into our ideas of what exactly snow is. Truly learned scholars understand that the same could be said of universes, that the snowflakes are tactless namby-pambery and that there are certain ineffable truths which hold sway wherever reality decides to exert itself. One of them is as follows:

When you want to find an adventurer, first find the alcohol.

Were one, for instance, to look for an adventurer in the village of Weaver’s Lodge, it might be prudent to check its famous brewery, in hopes of finding one on his back beneath a leaky key. A smarter bet, however, would be to visit the Creaky Loom tavern, where not only are the kegs tapped, but they have mugs; lying on the back is a result of the drinking process here, not how it happens in the first place. Were you to take this smarter bet, you’d have won.

Another universal truism known to sages throughout time and space is this:

Should enough adventurers spend enough time congregating around the same source of alcohol, a wizard will inevitably come in and offer them fabulous treasures in return for some service that’s more likely than not to get at least one of them killed.

We’re not going to give these adventurers enough time for that to happen.

Taking a moment’s respite from polishing a ceramic mug, Jamis Wompley, the tavern’s proprietor, shifts his gaze to the front door, wide open against the warm summer night’s air. A puzzled expression creeps across his ruddy face, but it quickly turns to horror and then fades to frustration. As he sighs, “Not again,” he drops behind his long oak bar. After a moment, when he notices that his normal clientele of farmhands, herders, weavers and such has continued their drinks and conversation unabated, he rises from behind the bar and throws a dishrag out into the middle of the common room. “Well?” he cries. “What’chu all waitin’ fer? It’s them damn goblins again!”

No sooner has he admonished his patrons than two short humanoids the size of small children tumble through the open door. One holds a spear as menacingly as he can manage, while the other brandishes a beat-up crossbow. Both are wiry specimens, with coppery-brown skin and wearing little more than poorly-fashioned leathers. The one holding the spear barks what you guess must be a command and six more goblins come filing in after the first two. The spear-wielding goblin steps forward and mangles the common tongue: “No moves, no hurts! We takes tasty-beers. You gives or we kills!”

The group sprang to action and blocked off the goblins’ assault on the tavern. Nyarlathotep, the group’s tiefling warlock, was the first to attack (which was a little tricky, since the player playing him was brand new to D&D), and managed to take a goblin cutter (a minion) down with his first Eldritch Blast, so things got off to a good start. This fight introduced the players to many of the movement-inducing effects of D&D (pushes, shifts, etc.) but didn’t give them a lot of room to move around in. By round three, there was only one goblin left (a sharpshooter, artillery) and he was successfully locked down by Kwill, the group’s wilden paladin.

The game got started later than I would have liked, largely due to some technical glitches. For some reason, WOTC’s Character Builder (the online version) doesn’t like to print starting at the powers cards pages, so I had to print each character sheet in full color. Out of the six of us, four have flexible schedules, but two of our folks have to be up bright and early at 7am, so we knew that we couldn’t keep the game running as late as we’d like to, so I settled on just running one encounter. In order to avoid this in the future, we’ll be moving our gaming night from Wednesday to Sunday so we can start earlier.

As I said, the encounter only lasted three rounds, which was a lot shorter than I thought it would last, though those three rounds did take awhile. As a learning experience, it went pretty well, with most of the players coming to a solid understanding of how their at-will and encounter powers work. Movement was pretty solidly understood, including some of the stranger bits of tactical and forced movement: several push effects were used to keep goblins off the wizard, threatened areas and opportunity attacks started to come into play and shifting (as different from normal movement) was used a few times.

The players received a little bit of homework: they took their character sheets and power cards with them home so they could review what they can do on any given combat round. The folders that my lovely wife Katie put together for the players included a brief rules summary (taken from the D&D 4e Quick Start rules that came out way back in 2008 before the release of 4e), so they’ll have that to reference as well.

Next session: More goblins and the players meet some of the important figures in Weaver’s Lodge!

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Genesis Session
Heroes are made, not born

[Article is from an Out-Of Universe perspective.]

 

Character creation happened this week and took longer than I expected. I had originally thought that we'd take about an hour to make characters and then we could get in an hour play. If we track our actual start time as when we started talking about character creation, we started at 8:30p and finished the last character around midnight (well, other than Katie's character, but since we live together, she didn't have a problem staying later). As it stands, we have an interesting party make up that has me pretty excited. Here's the roster of heroes so far:

  • Nyarlathotep (Ben):  A Tiefling Star Pact Warlock, Nyarlathotep is easily our darkest character. While evil and at least slightly mad (even if it's just power mad), Nyarlathotep survives on his personal magnetism and strength of will. His quest for power has led him into a partnership of sorts with Rad's as-yet-unnamed paladin of Ioun and has put him at odds with Jadzeah (see below). Arcane Striker]
  • Isiri (Ashley): The party's bruiser is Isiri, a Razorclaw Shifter Barbarian. Easily the strongest of the heroes, Isiri channels the might of the primal spirits of the world to defeat her foes. Isiri is missing large chunks of her memory, and she hunts for clues as to her own past with the assistance of the spirits and Alissa's cleric. [Primal Striker]
  • Jadzeah (Katie): Most Devas are dignified and proper; not so with Jadzeah, a Deva Wizard with a streak of mischief and wanderlust that guides her. Her aptitude in trouble making belies her vast stores of knowledge and sudden flashes of insight, but all of these traits have landed her a firm friend inn Alissa's cleric. Like Isiri, Jadzeah suffers from some missing memories; Jadzeah cannot recall the events of her past lives clearly and only remembers in sudden flashes. [Arcane Controller]
  • Unnamed (Rad): A curious young Wilden, this character discovered the faith of Ioun as he went about learning as much as he could about the world's brewing techniques. Ultimately, his search for knowledge became more like a quest and he took up arms in the pursuit of knowledge, becoming a Paladin. When Nyarlathotep let slip details of a treasure he was seeking nearby, the Wilden was intrigued by the thought of hidden knowledge and power and joined up with the warlock. [Divine Defender]
  • Unnamed (Alissa): As the god of beauty, Sehanine is of extreme importance to the textile industry of Weaver's Lodge and Alissa's unnamed Halfling Cleric of Sehanine holds a place of high esteem in the village. Orphaned in her late teens, she tried (and failed) to make a go of thievery, and ended up finding surrogate parentage in the Sehanites and in the family of a local baker. She shares Jadzeah's impish nature and has complicated friendship with Isiri. [Divine Leader]

With this party make up, there are a couple of interesting things to note:

  • No humans. The heroes all come from disparate races, but there's not a single human among them, which is the most populous race among civilized people. They shouldn't have too many serious issues of blending in (most races are accepted by society, so long as they behave in a civilized manner).
  • No Martial-powered heroes. All of the heroes draw their power from forces outside themselves, which places them somewhat outside the realm of experience for most normal people.  
  • Everyone has a reason to adventure. I took care to make sure that everyone had thought about their heroes motivations for becoming adventurers and how they would work together as a group. There may be some awkward moments where motives clash, but there should be enough "story momentum" from these motives to allow everything to work itself out. 
  • New players. We have two players who are entirely new to tabletop RPGs, but they seem to have a pretty solid grasp of their characters and how they'll do what they do (Ben & Ashley). Katie is the only player with previous D&D 4e experience, but she's never played a controller before, meaning that she has some learning to do. Rad & Alissa have never played 4e, but they likely won't have too steep of a learning curve. In order to allow the players an opportunity to learn how 4e works, the first few encounters will be on the easy side with lots of opportunities to "tutorial mode" many of the rules into the game (like in console RPGs where you gradually learn how the game works; FF13 what?). Things like opportunity attacks, healing surges and action points aren't the easiest concepts to explain outside of their proper context, but should make sense when explained at the tabletop.

The group's next meeting will be the first opportunity to play the game, and it looks like the heroes are ready to ease into the campaign. Next time, we'll visit some classic fantasy tropes and see how the party handles them.

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