Monday, April 15, 2013

Savage Midnight: The Crown of Shadow Actual Play Volume 1

This was a new experience for us…Savage Midnight, using the Midnight Conversion Document by Jeffrey L. Scifert. Years ago, we had started, but not finished, the Crown of Shadow adventure using D&D 3rd Edition…nowadays, neither me nor my one remaining player are fans of said system…but we are both Savages.

The D&D version of the group consisted of three PCs and an NPC, but two of those players are no longer available…so we NPCed them. The group:

Thorin Stoneskull – A Clan Dwarf from Durgis Rock, stubborn and loyal. Carries a pair of enchanted Urutuk Hatchets called The Wrath of the Moon and the Fury of the Sun. His Heroic Path is that of the Null, making him resistant to magic.

Hammer – A Dworg berserker who is smarter than he appears…he is Ironborn, and a Channeler of the Loremaster tradition as well as a warrior. He was raised among the surface dwelling Kurgan Dwarves.

Eldon Ralda-Zir – An elfling thief who is Quickened. Raised among the Danisil Elves in the jungles of Eredane. His word is his bond.

Merwan the Steel Eye – A Pureblood Erenlander. The only human in the group, he is hunted by the minions of Izrador just the same as the Fey. Eldon is honor bound to him after he saved Eldon from a demon.

To recap: The dwarven contingent met up with the outlander contingent and Elven emissaries at Kurgan Falls, where they defeated goblins and avoided a stone golem. Upon returning to Durgis Rock, they found that it had been sacked by orc raiders and that an intimidating human had been asking about them. While the elves battled stone golems, the party found Woden, Dothin of Durgis Rock, mortally wounded. The party took the Dragon Case from him and swore an oath to deliver it to the Queen of Elves. Thorin also found Woden’s hatchets.

The elves gave their lives to stop the Stone Golems…and the party set out into the mountains, much weaker. They camped with Dorn refugees, but had to escape into the tunnels to avoid a very large orc force. Unfortunately, they were separated from Gnomish guide Wendell Gale in the process.

In the passages under the Kaladrun Mountains, they managed to bring down a wounded Umber Hulk and saved Golan, Scion of Pardrum, which allowed them time to rest in the Pardrum Holdfast.

As the respite ended, the four remaining heroes headed out into the underground tunnels with Calia, a dwarven Wildlander guide. (A very broad recap of the events played out under the d20 rules.

The group ventured into the tunnels and the one party member without Low Light vision, Merwan, spotted Orc Scouts moving through the tunnels. Eldon snuck up on them and tried to slash one scout’s throat, harming him but not killing him, while Merwan drove an arrow into the head of the other. As the wounded orc turned on Eldon, Thorin moved in and hurled one of his hatchets, taking it out.

The party emerged from the tunnels at night time, and Hammer and Thorin were both taken aback by the openness. Growing up with the Kurgan, Hammer has a knack for mountaineering, and he helped the group navigate down to solid ground. After a couple of days of travel, Thorin was visited in a dream by black-eyed Elven woman who warned that they were being hunted, but that they could find allies in the “City by the Sea”, a reference to Baden’s Bluff, home of the resistance. Eldon was skeptical of this dream, but in lieu of anything better to go off of, the group decided it must have been a useful message. While staying up late on watch, Merwan and Thorin decided that that the Queen must be guiding them.

A few days later, the group spotted vultures in the skies and moved in to investigate to find a wrecked Halfling camp. Nearly two dozen slaughtered Halflings were strewn about, along with three dead orcs and four wogrens, though one of them was still alive. Merwan and Thorin were able to identify that a dozen slavers seemed to still be alive, with about forty Halfling slaves. As the group prepared to head out into pursuit, Hammer drew their attention to an orc tied to tentpoles. At first glance he appeared to be dead, so Thorin dropped a drop of water on him to get a reaction.

The orc called himself Sardric, and after parlaying with Thorin for a bit – and explaining that he is a follower of the White Mother, who believes that Izrador is using the orcs as slaves, and who cut down one of his own brothers for torturing a Halfling instead of just enslaving him, Thorin asked for a spare blade…so Eldon moved in with a fighting knife, preparing to cut Sardric’s throat. Thorin cut him off and the two argued, with Eldon pointing out that Sardric is an ORC. Thorin wants to get this resolved so they can rescue the Halflings, which Eldon also scoffs at, noting that there are a dozen orcs with the Halflings. When Thorin questions Eldon’s devotion to the Halflings, Eldon counters that he was raised in the jungles by Danisil, not in the plains by Halflings. Thorin set Eldon off again when Merwan nursed the wounded wogren back but said he was too hurt to take with them…so Thorin left him rations, which Eldon strongly disagreed with, though Thorin did also tell the Wogren that life is hard, and he’ll have to find his own way to survive. Ultimately, Thorin left a hand ax at Sardric’s feet and told him that if the White Mother is looking over him, he will find his way free…but if their paths cross again, Thorin would kill Sardric.

The group set out on a forced march after the slavers, and a few days in, Thorin noticed the wogren – affectionately dubbed “Spot” – was following them. Merwan told Thorin that Spot had been following them since they left camp…and that his strength was returning. The group was hastened along as they began to find butchered Halflings in their path.

When the group happened on the slavers, the orcs had four sentries and the rest of their number were sleeping, with the Halflings huddled together, chained by the neck. Thorin sent Eldon ahead to release the pack animals and send them running, while he and Hammer charged the orcs remaining at the camp and Merwan opened fire from a distance. The group wasn’t terribly surprised when Spot charged the camp…but when Sardric joined in as well, that did stun them a bit. Sardric, Spot and the party, using the element of surprise, fended off the orc slavers and put them down. Sardric asked Thorin if his life were still forfeit, but the Halflings jumped to his defense. Thorin saw no reason to end his life and the Halflings offered to adopt him to the tribe! Sardric and Spot left with the Halflings, while the party tried to get back on track with their mission.

As the group headed across the plains, they were ambushed a day or so later by Sarcosan riders who were very unhappy to see the orc-like Hammer with the group. Merwan, taking a noticeably different demeanor, interjected and talked the Sarcosans down…eventually convincing them to give the group a ride on horseback closer to their destination. Along the way, the group learned about how unhappy the Sarcosans are, as many of their leaders just folded, betraying the Sarcosan people.

After parting ways with the Sarcosans, Merwan noticed that there seemed to be an odd change in the environment, though none of the rest of the group noticed it. They were in a kind of a swamp forest, when Merwan pointed out that it used to be farm land. This set the group on edge a bit.

The group came up on a town, Redwinde, and spotted a girl playing by the river…until she fell in! Merwan and Eldon were the only swimmers, so Merwan dove in as the group ran to the river bank. Merwan was pulling her out…when she bit him! And then the group found themselves surrounded by stalking, undead villagers!

Merwan fought himself free and scrambled onto the river bank as the villagers swarmed on Thorin, Hammer and Eldon! A man began yelling from a temple in the town that he could shelter them from the villagers if they could get free! Hammer was kept on the defensive (repeatedly Shaken), while Eldon was badly injured (two Wounds). Merwan and Thorin did most of the damage, with Merwan shooting undead down with his bow while Thorin hacked away with his hatchets. Hammer made a grim observation that “magic was gone”, but Thorin paid him no heed and still threw one of his hatchets, only to be surprised when it didn’t return to him. Eldon, badly hurt, ran to the temple but Hammer soon followed. Merwan and Thorin finally broke for the temple as well, finding a priest and three followers inside. They also found themselves staring at a menacing black mirror.

Everything was going alright in the temple…until Thorin asked which God the temple belonged to and the priest answered with “Izrador.” The group prepared to fight as the priest, Astegar the Damned, ordered his acolytes to attack! Astegar made particular note of Merwan, indicating that Legates throughout the land were looking for him. Merwan kept trying to keep enough room to fire his bow in the temple, and the group took down an acolyte, but were disturbed – but not shocked – to discover that the acolytes were undead as well. Astegar summoned the power of Izrador and blasted Hammer with a CRUSHING burst of energy…and one of the acolytes drove his blade into the defenseless Dworg’s chest to end his life. Eldon fought Astegar desperately, even spitting blood in his eyes at one point (Agility Trick to shake him). Astegar surrounded his mace in black flame and drove it into Eldon’s sternum, making a sick, wet sound. Merwan and Thorin were taking down acolytes and inflicting wounds on Astegar, but not enough. Merwan rattled Astegar when he shrugged off a blow from the flaming mace, but it still took several more arrows to finally bring the undead Legate down! Merwan rushed to the side of Eldon…but he had already passed away in the fight.

Merwan and Thorin reluctantly beheaded their partners…before stealing the robes of the Legate and one of acolytes to escape the tower and slip past the villagers.

NOTES: Our first time playing Midnight under the Savage Worlds rules, and I wasn’t TRYING to trim down the group…but I had also let my player know that if we were doing Savage Midnight, there would be no kid gloves. Thorin was saved by being the best fighter and actually having armor, while Merwan is living at range in fights. In fact, the only fights that gave the group any trouble were again an undead Legate and an undead attack with Merwan out of position to use his bow.

We didn’t play this weekend, but we’ll likely continue this next weekend as we aim to at least finish the Crown of Shadows…but hopefully also play much more Savage Midnight in the future.