Someone begged me to write up what’s happened so far in my present non-D&D campaign, so this is an attempt to shut him/her up.
First off, I am using the old 2nd Edition D&D Boxed Set called “The Night Below.” A poorly-written, but well-conceived project that I’ve played in once before. It is among the best campaigns I’ve ever enjoyed as a player (not as GM) and I wanted to run it for my present group. However, we are not using D&D for the rules and there is little to no magic. The background is akin to 800 AD Anglo-Saxon Britain, with a small list of gods and a short write-up (by me) on how people view shamanism, sorcery, witchcraft, and superstition.
We are using a slightly modified version of the Dogs in the Vineyard rules set. We aren’t rolling dice all that much, though. And when we do it’s just for random stuff like, who notices the smoke or the footprints. I am not running this campaign with DC values. If it’s important for them to spot the dead body, they spot the dead body.
The players have all taken on the roles of four absolutely nobodies ranged age 15 to 20 — a farmer, an apothecary, a silversmith, and a failed merchant. They have been tasked with visiting the town of Thurmaster (from the game) and convincing Luther (was Tauster) into returning to Divers with them to aid the Baron who fears another siege upon his city in the coming months. They were given a box (an actual game prop, I should add) filled with who knows what, in order to curry Luther’s favor.
Character creation was very different on this one. I did not pigeon-hole the players, but instead came up with eight different categories of limited choices for them. Some included goal, age, value of relationship to the Baron, value of relationships to one another, and so on. Using these ingredients, the players constructed their characters and backgrounds. Each and every foible and obstacle on their character sheets have been placed there by the players. Not by me.
Aaron is playing Verner, a merchant whose father betrayed the Baron and who has been stripped of his wealth. Having some allegiance to a high-ranking councilor of the Baron, Verner was cleared of the charges associated with his father’s treason on the condition that he seek out Luther.
James is playing Crandel, a self-deluding and small-minded silversmith (of limited skill I might add), who has taken to this task in order to prove his value to the Baron and thus (in his mind) reclaim his lost business.
Jason is playing Ian, a scholar and an apothecary who served during the previous siege as a medic. Ian is the least damaged of the four characters, but has recently begun smoking a great deal of herbs that have “medicinal value.” He is Verner’s oldest friend and among one of the few people the counselor can trust AND afford to be without.
Finally, Weston is playing Straug, a farmer and the youngest of the group. He was conscripted into defending the city during the previous siege and instead of being let go after the battle, was then assigned as a jailer. His role in the group has been the most quiet so far, but stellar nonetheless.
The first two sessions of the game were purposely slow and quiet. I characters were sent along a remote and desolate path to Haranshire in order to avoid any enemy patrols. In addition, they disguised themselves as traveling merchants, “just in case.”
In addition, the first two sessions were designed to show the disparate nature of the setting. The outlying villages are taxed and belong to the Barony, but otherwise feel no kinship to the city. People do not value the word of outsiders, they do not go looking for news of the outside world, and mostly want to be left alone.
This will matter in the coming weeks.
The characters also encountered evidence of orc and goblin tribes fighting over territory on the far-reaches of the Barony. It’s not land the humans would want, so… who cares? But it does shed light (for the characters) that there are many orc tribes and they do not get along, nor do they like the goblins.
The Story So Far
Divers (name stolen from Greyhawk) was sieged by the city of Lakhmar (also stolen) some seven months ago. The siege lasted nearly three months, after which time the attackers returned home for more men and supplies and the city Elders examined their options. The Baron, falling ill, has been unable to rally support among his own counsilors and so a power vacuum has formed. His most trusted aid, Counselors Kreiger and Enrich have hatched a plan to get Luther (a rumored Warlock) to come to Divers to help the city fend off another attack.
But all of this must be kept quiet, thus enlisting the aid of four people who no one would ever notice went missing (except perhaps Ian).
Over the next two weeks, the characters traveled overland in a roundabout way to reach the town of Milbourne (nestled in the Haranshire) where they encountered desolate villages, ranches, a hermit, an orc, a defunct lighthouse, and a shipwrecked crew along with a gyspy caravan. They also saw activity of logging and mining along the western side of the Shire.
The second session ended with them arriving in Milbourne. More in the next post.