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 Post subject: Ayronis' Rise of the Runelords
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 8:07 am 
The Annwyn Society plays "Pathfinder: Rise of the Runelords"

Our group features a diverse group of players spanning three generations and connecting from three very different time-zones. We play using the virtual tabletop software Maptool, by RPtools, as well as Skype for out-of-character voice communication. Our sessions generally last about four hours each.

This thread contains numerous spoilers about the RotRL Adventure Path.

Please feel free to ask questions or make comments. Since I have full transcripts for every one of these sessions, it is an easy matter for me to reproduce specific details.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 8:09 am 
Setup
We are using Maptool 1.2 instead of 1.3 because there is nothing more frustrating than having the software lockup or crash in the middle of a session. I am sure that the features in 1.3 will be great when they are ready, but I can be patient until they are guaranteed stable.

In anticipation for the meetings some of the players and I loaded the software and attempted a few memory intensive experiments. There were absolutely no problems and I was surprised by how quickly the load time was on larger maps - I had heard stories from these boards that they can be quite bad but what I experienced was endurable.

Unfortunately one of our players had 10.3 OS X on his Apple so he was not able to login for the first session. It wasn't as problematic as it sounds though, we simply conducted the chat in Skype (using a home-made dice-roller application one of the players coded) and had someone FTP the maps to a stable URL periodically. It worked very well and everyone enjoyed themselves without any frustration. A week later, the Apple user was able to upgrade to 10.4 and he connected without difficulty the following week.

I am extremely satisfied with the low learning curve and ease of setup in Maptool.

Each player created a character using a standard (25) point buy, the Players Handbook (3.5) and the Pathfinder: Rise of the Runelords Players Guide. They created the following party:
  • Het Arrah: Varisian (human) Paladin of Abadar (Cities and Law).
  • Akram: Shoanti (human) diplomat and linguist (Rogue)
  • Kalie Silversfall: Elven midwife and resident of Sandpoint (Cleric of Pharasma, goddess of fate, death, and birth)
  • Sheen Vexeld: Elven refugee fleeing slavers who shipwrecked in Magnimar (Sorcerer)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 8:10 am 
Session 1 - Burnt Offerings Part 1

Lamashan 1, 4707 AR

It is the first day of Autumn in the small town of Sandpoint, a quiet yet industrious town on the edge of the Lost Coast just north of the great city of Magnimar. It is a day for celebrations. The memory of the "Late Unpleasantness" should be purged on this day, five years after those awful events.

For five years, the faithful of Sandpoint have attended church in smaller wooden structures rebuilt after fire destroyed the previous temple, and while their new pastor Abstalar was helpful, kind, and wise, church wasn’t the same. Now, the new cathedral is finally done. All that remains is for the Swallowtail Festival to renew the site’s blessings from the gods and it will be as if the Sandpoint Fire had never occurred. Today is the Swallowtail festival.

With those fateful words our new campaign was underway. The festival was interrupted by dozens of goblins who thronged throughout the city raising hell and causing a ruckus wherever they went. Three goblins stepped into the festival square and slashed the throat of a local dog before turning their attention to the pedestrians in the square. The PC's leapt to the defence of the town, with the Paladin stating:

* Het Arrah raises his left arm to tell the other holy men to stand back. With his right arm he loosens the flail on his waist, grabs the handle, and lets the ball drop.

In the ensuing battle the goblins leaped on and off tables, and managed to kill a fleeing townsperson. One goblin hid in a tent selling rugs and managed to throw a large rug over the head of the Paladin before escaping out the side - highly amusing goblin antics.

* Het smacks a pile of rugs and hears giggling beneath. "Loser" is uttered somewhere in the tent.

Subsequently, a pack of goblin pyromaniacs found a wagon loaded with firewood and attempted to burn the town down. The PC's engaged them and defeated four goblins and their warchanter captain. The warchanter's whip proved to be more irritating than they initially expected. They captured one alive and asked the town's pastor to escort him to the local garrison, which he did.

Technical Comment: The movable stamps that I used to make tables, tents, and food in this encounter greatly enhanced our experience. Although we had used VTT's before, engaging with the environment directly was never so easy! It almost certainly encouraged the players to pay more attention to the environment and it made the goblin antics all the more amusing.

Click here to see setup for the the battle in the Festival Square.


Last edited by Ayronis on Sun Oct 28, 2007 8:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 8:12 am 
Session 2 - Burnt Offerings Part 1 Continued

The PC's recover from the initial encounters and observe that the battle has shifted to the north. It seems that most of the goblins were fleeing out the north gate as the Town Guard attempted to contain them.

The PC's move to the north edge of town and discover a well dressed nobleman and his pet dog under attack by a goblin commando. The commando is engaging the dog and just as the PC's arrive the dog is killed. The nearby goblins give up a cheer and four greenskins descend on the nobleman and the PCs.

The PCs struggled in this combat. Both the Paladin and the Cleric were knocked into negative HP totals but fortunately the Paladin was healed and the Cleric stabilized naturally. The Shoanti Rogue, Akram, wielding a Boggard's spiked club, successfully killed nearly all of the goblins with the help of Vexeld's elven use of the goblin's short bow. It was a close battle.

* Goblin2 misses as the blade unravels from his Dogslicer, and falls off. The goblin looks up at Vexeld and says, "Uh-oh" (goblin).

*Akram jumps nimbly to the other side of the commando and swings, laughing.
*Akram's spiked club shatters the commando's rib-cage, he wheezes for a moment before expiring with a cough. Goblin blood is splattered around the area.


The PCs fled back to the town cathedral where many of the townspeople began to thank them for their heroics and tended to their wounds. They PCs then spend the rest of the evening getting to know another and attempting to figure out what had just occurred.

The highlight of this meeting was watching the heroic Shoanti flitter about the battlefield ending the threats that seemed to overwhelm the rest of the party.

Click here to see the battle at the Northwall.

Technical Comment: I began using descriptive text on some of the stamped items in this session. The barrels of water were labelled according to how the water looked inside. I found this was an effective way to begin teaching the players to click on things while they waited their turns, and it cut down on the amount of times I needed to repeat myself. The preparation time is worth it if you have time to do this in advance.

This was also the first meeting that all the players were able to login to Maptool without any problems. I've decided to begin each session with a discussion of a particular feature of the Maptool. Last week was simply moving and pointing at things. Next week will be vision and light.


Last edited by Ayronis on Sun Oct 28, 2007 8:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 8:29 am 
Sounds fantastic. Any chance of some screenshots?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 8:54 am 
torstan wrote:
Sounds fantastic. Any chance of some screenshots?


I've added two screenshots (I will remember to make more in the future).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 7:05 pm 
Looking good Ayronis! Thanks for the tokens, they were very handy :)

My group will be starting the Battle of North Wall at our next session. It will be interesting to see how our different groups handle the adventure path. My group is 5 PCs and the build is a 32 pointer with 5 extra hit points at 1st level. Thus I threw a few more gobbies at them as well as the exploding fuel cart. And with the extra hitpoints I didn't fear a lucky crit would take out a PC too soon before they got started.

Did your group start out knowing each other or was this their first gathering?

Glanrus


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Codeum Arcanum (RPTools Founder)
 
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2006 4:16 pm
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 8:54 am 
Ayronis wrote:
had someone FTP the maps to a stable URL periodically.


Did you use the built-in ftp upload feature ?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 8:57 am 
This is a great read Ayronis, very much enjoyed it :)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 1:25 pm 
trevor wrote:
Ayronis wrote:
had someone FTP the maps to a stable URL periodically.


Did you use the built-in ftp upload feature ?


Trevor-

Indeed, we did use the built-in ftp upload feature. To be honest, it saved our session because without it, one of our players would have been unable to see the map at all; with over 9 moving characters in that scene, it would have been impossible for him to visualize it otherwise.

I am sure the original reason for including that feature is different from how we used it, but I was very appreciative that it was there.

trevor wrote:
This is a great read Ayronis, very much enjoyed it :)


I am glad you are enjoying the report. I will do my best to update this after ever session but there will be some delays when life gets busy.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 1:26 pm 
Session 3 - Burnt Offerings part two

On 3 November we held a special game session in honour of Worldwide Game Day. Even though we are an online group we saw no reason not to participate in our own little way - besides, the idea of playing D&D at the same time as thousands of others all over the world is pretty neat. We held our regular meeting the following day, thus making last weekend a double-header (an Ettin, as one of the players pointed out.)

Following the goblin attack that took place in part one, the PCs settled into Sandpoint to recover and to try to figure out the reason for such an irregular attack. Getting to know Sandpoint took much longer than we expected, but everyone seemed to have a good time. Roleplay (RP) sessions in a chat-based game take a long time, this is something I (as a veteran DM of face to face gaming) am going to have to adjust for. The entire session was spent roleplaying encounters with the various NPCs in town.

In this session the PCs learned that Kalie, the party's elven cleric, works in her father's Archery Shop in the centre of town. They used her experience to familiarize themselves with the town, and to just generally get their bearings. Their investigation reveals that the remains of the town's previous pastor were stolen from the cemetery during the goblin raid, but they have no idea why.

The landscape immediately south east of Sandpoint is rough and rocky but it quickly gives way to flat farmlands and grass areas.
* Aldern Foxglove says to Kalie, "My Lady, I have been to Sandpoint many times, but we have never been acquainted." "I am Aldern of the Foxgloves. Who are you?"
* Kalie drifts in and out of the conversation, but focuses her attention when Foxglove speaks directly to her. "My name is Drikannalie Silversfall..." She turns her gaze back to the mare. "It is nice to meet you..."
* Aldern Foxglove asks Kalie, "So how does an elven Silversfall find herself in Sandpoint?"
* Kalie "As easily as anyone else finds themselves here, I would think..." She watches the passing landscape for a moment before continuing. "My family has a business here, and so here is where we live..."

The following day they accept their reward from the nobleman they saved during the festival. He takes them along on a boar hunt in the nearby woods and the party enjoys a casual day of hunting. The man is attractive, charming, and generous, and he seems to have a keen interest in Kalie, who seems more confused than anything else by this. They manage to flush a boar and with two swift arrows drop the beast, which they then carry back to the inn to enjoy as dinner. The rest of the evening is spent enjoying the jovial company at the Rusty Dragon Inn.

* Vexeld goes on " I search for a Varisian mute who befriended me ..." trails off as he notices no one is paying attention.

Image of the boar hunt.

Technical Comment:
Whispering in maptool is tedious. Unless you create a macro to whisper to specific people, it seems much too tedious to use for entire private sessions. It would be convenient if there was a way to create private sub-chat windows.

The export chat-window was a crucial factor when making my decision of which VTT to use. Although I have satisfied with its current functionality - i.e. it exports the chat-log - it would be even more convenient if there was a way to filter what information is exported. Sometimes I want a pure transcript, but when archiving the session for my players it would be nice if the line, "You are now impersonating X" didn't appear in it several dozen times. If such a filtered export were possible, I could envision other formats I'd like to see. For example, I would love to be able to export a narrative transcript which contains only the "/e" and "/me" lines, but ignores all the game code typed normally.


Last edited by Ayronis on Wed Nov 07, 2007 1:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 1:28 pm 
Session 4 - Burnt Offerings part two

This is the second part of our double header for Worldwide Game Day. Like the previous meeting, it was mostly roleplaying various encounters with NPCs in Sandpoint, but as the days begin to pass things start becoming more serious. Some of the moments in this session are among the funniest RPing moments I have ever participated in.

The PCs continue to explore the town and trade for items they are interested in. For days, several of the young women in town have been flirting with the paladin, so when a shopkeeper's daughter approaches him with a transparent story about rats in her basement, he allows himself to be fooled into following her. The moment they reach the store's basement her bodice comes off and she is in his arms kissing him.

* Shayliss shirks at the suggestion and pouts. She says, "No, you don't understand...." "the rats..."
* Shayliss brings her hand to her mouth and begins to look nervous.
* Het Arrah tries to comfort the girl. "It's alright. There aren't any rats. If you want to show me around town while we get to know each other, I could use a tour."
* Shayliss retorts, "“Never mind, I’ll take care of them some other way” and walks off in a huff.
* Het Arrah chases after her laughing. "Wait!" He can barely speak between bouts of laughing. "Fine, let's see the rats."
* Shayliss whirls around and looks at Het with enthusiasm. "Really? You'll help me then?"
* Het Arrah 's grin could not possibly get any wider as he agrees, playing along with the obviously lying girl.
* Shayliss takes Het and begins leading him back to the store in a hurry.

Unfortunately for Het, her father returns to the store while they are in the middle of the act. The poor paladin only managed to get his trousers back on before the angry father bursts into the room accusing him of every crime in his vocabulary. With Het's eloquent tongue and sincerity, he nearly escapes twice but both times he accidentally says words that re-enraged the father. In the end, the angry shopkeeper beat Het unconscious. He later awoke facedown in the town square with Shayliss' bodice tied around his neck.

The next day, while Het recovered his honour and pride in the town's church, the other PCs were alerted to the presence of a goblin who had managed to hide in the closet of a local family's home. The PCs arrived to find that the little devil had killed the family dog and the father as well. They engaged the creature in the cramped quarters of a child's bedroom and killed it.

A primal, enraged goblin leaps up from a hole somewhere below the closet. He rushes out of the corner and charges at Akram, hissing like a steam pipe about to explode.

Technical comment:
I tried to run the battle with the closet gobin without a map. I believed, at the time, that this would speed things up, after all, how could we need a map when there is only room for six squares inside the bedroom? It turns out that shortly after the combat began the players were struggling to visualize their relationship - not to the goblin, but with each other. I had previously loaded some wood textures so I whipped up a quick "bedroom" map on a black background in about 45 seconds. It worked like a charm and saved us the headache of trying to back-up and work out where everybody was verbally.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 12:51 pm 
Sessions 5-8 -- Burnt Offerings part II and III

We have played four sessions since the last update. They have been experimental meetings as each of us continues to find our footing with the new campaign, and the new tools we are using to play. We are having loads of fun. Below are some of the highlights and a few screenshots.

Image of home base. (Note the players' use of text-drawing to label stuff.)

In session five, the new heroes in town were summoned to the Mayor's office to meet with the town authorities and to discuss the goblin threat. Once there, they met with Shalelu Andosana, an elven ranger who lurks in the surrounding hinterlands. She informed them that the various goblin tribes appeared to be working together, which suggests that they are under new leadership and that can only mean bad news for Sandpoint. The PCs spent the rest of the day discussing the various particulars relating to the goblins, their heroes, and their hideouts, as well as having various interactions with the different NPCs in town. The following morning, a barmaid from the Rusty Dragon approached the heroes and said that her mistress had gone missing after visiting with her brother at their father's glass factory. When they investigated, they found the doors bolted and the curtains and windows closed. Sensing danger, they broke a window and entered only to discover a pack of goblins playing with the dismembered remains of various humans. They ambushed the goblins and managed to kill several of them, but two escaped into the factory's basement.

Image of the goblin battle in the glassworks.

We picked up right where we left off in the next session. The heroes pursued the goblins into the basement, but foolishly separated from one another. Tsuto, the missing bartender's half-brother, appeared from the shadows and began to pummel the isolated PCs. He badly wounded Het Arrah, the party's paladin, breaking his leg and injuring the others before escaping into some tunnels that led away.

In session seven, the PCs recovered from their injuries. Akram and Vexeld sought out Shalelu in the surrounding hills in order to update her on Tsuto's involvement. She offered to investigate the situation in Nettlewood and Thistletop, where the bartender Ameiko said her brother Tsuto was likely to have returned to, and she said she would meet up with them in Sandpoint after they investigated the glassworks' tunnels further. Akram and Vexeld returned to town, but when they returned to the Rusty Dragon Inn, they found that Vexeld's things had been thrown into the hall. It appeared that his insensitive comments to Ameiko, the rescued bartender, had cost him the free room he was staying in. That evening, a young halfling with a rough face approached the heroes and asked if he could help out. His best friend had been murdered by some of the goblins on their way to Sandpoint and he would like to assist anyone interested in eliminating them.

- New PC: Jyron Huthlin: Halfling pit-fighter (monk).

The following morning, a distraught Shayliss (the young hussy who previously seduced Het) burst into the inn and announced that Het had charged into the tunnels by himself. Overwhelmed with worry, she confessed that she had spent the last couple days in bed with the knight while he recovered from his wounds, but that he snuck out last night. She only learned where he went when she spoke to the night watchmen. Concerned for their friend, Akram and the others gathered their things and went into the tunnels. Their suspense was short-lived. A thousand feet from the entrance to the tunnel they found the paladin's bloodied body. Before he had died, he beheaded some kind of creature and wrote a warning on the wall in his own blood that said the creatures hide in the shadows.

- Het Arrah died. (he was written out as the player wished to retire him - he felt too constrained by the paladin's strict code of honour.)

The heroes and Jyron pulled the body out of the tunnels and cleaned him up, before returning to find out what killed him. Inside the tunnels they found a bricked up section of wall that had recently been opened. Behind it, they found the remains of an ancient structure, but no one knows of what. Some kind of monstrous creature attacked them as they attempted to enter the site. It healed rapidly and attacked them with three talon claws and a vicious bite from its freakish jaw that opened at the chin and contained miniature hands. Deeper inside the ruins, they found a vargouille (a floating head with bat wings instead of ears), and Kalie, the elven archer fired an amazing shot during the surprise round killing it the instant it appeared. They discovered an altar dedicated to Lamashtu, the goddess of monstrous births (and the hated enemy of mid-wives, which is Kalie's primary profession), and behind a pair of skull faced double doors they encountered a tiny one foot tall demoness. The little demoness, who called herself Queen Erylium, proceeded to abuse the heroes badly. The creature appeared and disappeared at will, summoning another "dog-monster" (as the players called the creature with the cleft face) and two monstrous spiders, which combined would eventually kill the foolish Vexeld who charged into the room when he ran out of spells. Erylium placed the killing blow, stabbing her poisonous claw into the disabled elf's head. The surviving heroes fled back to town to regroup and lick their wounds.

- Sheen Vexeld died.

Image of the battle with Erylium.

The next session, session eight, saw the party of heroes return to the ruins better prepared to fight the demoness. After checking with the local sages for information on demons and their weaknesses, they purchased numerous vials of holy water and a couple bags of flour, and they were introduced to Freme, a young scholar of Thassilonian ruins who offered to assist.

- New PC: Freme: Varisian (human) scholar of ancient history and evoker (specialist wizard)

They refused to rest or regain their spells for fear that Erylium would do so also, so they raced the clock to return before sunset (when evil spell casters typically regain their spells). Marching through the chambers, they quickly dispatched another one of the so-called dog-monsters, and they prepared to invade the cathedral chamber behind the double doors. They threw open the skull doors and charged the little queen. It took several rounds, but they were able to cover her with flour enough times to identify her location, which gave Jyron and Akram the chance to tackle the flying imp. Once on the ground, they held her in place while the Kalie poured ounce after ounce of holy water all over her. Hellish screams filled the room as her tiny head was dissolved by the sacred acid.

Technical comment:
I have begun picking up numerous tricks that are significantly helping me to run these sessions. Chief among them are macros. Simply put, token macros rule. They save so much time for me, as the GM, in the heat of battle. Full attacks, in particular, are a breeze to set up and execute now. I can have battles with numerous different creatures, all doing different things, and I rarely have to look anything up now. In conjunction with the InitTool, which I use to keep turn order organized, token macros have virtually eliminated the delays on my (the DM's) turn.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 1:39 pm 
Looking good Ayronis. Keep the updates coming.

Glanrus


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 Post subject: Re: Ayronis' Rise of the Runelords
PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 2:26 pm 
I m getting ready to run this series myself. I like the insight myself.


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