Principia Discordia

Principia Discordia => Propaganda Depository => RPG Ghetto => Topic started by: Doktor Howl on April 12, 2019, 02:56:28 am

Title: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Doktor Howl on April 12, 2019, 02:56:28 am
Okay, it's time for Rappan Athuk again, as there are not nearly enough PC corpses choking up the harbor.  Running two groups, Saturday and Sunday, in the Lost Lands campaign area (Rappan Athuk, Slumbering City of Tsar, and Tomb of Abysthor). 

Medium track, 25 point buy (5 extra points because "Rappan Athuk"), 6 players per group.  One group will be doing tomb of Abysthor and then Tsar, the other group will be doing Rappan Athuk (Classic entrance) after a short lead-in arc.  Write ups will be posted here.

For the Rappan Athuk group, we have
1.  Paladin
2.  Wizard (going into rogue and then arcane trickster)
3.  Cleric (going into Holy Vindicator at 9th level)
4.  Ranger (trap archetype)
5.  Bard  :lulz: 
6.  Samurai

I have not gotten the info back from the other group, which will not actually start for a couple of weeks after the RA group starts.

Bear in mind that this campaign area has an 85% mortality rate. 
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Doktor Howl on April 12, 2019, 02:59:14 am
Campaign History

300 years ago, the empire fell, it's capitol of Tircople in ruins to this very day, its overseas colonies lost.   Its chief gods, Thyr and Muir are almost forgotten, and the former empire is now a collection of bickering and petty successor kingdoms, usually no larger than a day's horse ride from each kingdom's capitol.  The great magics have been forgotten.

How this happened is partly history and partly legend. 

The vile city of Tsar - a den of demon worshipers - had been allowed to grow unchecked, for reasons now lost to time.  When the forces of good finally decided to deal with the followers of the demon prince Orcus, the evil ones had had centuries to prepare.

The imperial forces dispatched by Emperor Graegor were led by the Arch-Wizard Zelkor, the most powerful wizard in history.  He and his lieutenant, the paladin Bishtu broke the field army of the demon worshipers, and routed them back to Tsar, where Zelkor laid siege to them.

After a long siege, the forces of Orcus simply...Vanished.  Tsar suddenly stood empty.  Zelkor was able to divine the fact that they had in fact been transported miles away.  Bishtu was given the empty city to guard, and Zelkor took the majority of the army and pursued the Orcus worshipers along the coast, into the Forest of Hope.

Neither side was ever seen again.

Likewise, something caught Bishtu and his smaller forces, as about the same time as Zelkor entered the forest, the gates of Tsar swung shut of their own accord, trapping Bishtu and his knights in the city.  None ever made it out.  This effectively cut off the trade routes with the Northern half of the empire.  In the South, sea-going barbarians in a seemingly unrelated attack sacked the city of Tircople.  Emperor Graegor fell in his palace, surrounded by the last of his guard. 

The remains of the empire shattered, with each local lord looking only to his own benefit, pressing his or her own claim to what remained of the Southern half of the empire.  Civil wars raged for a century.  The population of the Southern empire was reduced to a third of its size, mostly living in cities such as Bard's Gate, Freegate, Derindin, and Reme, and the smaller towns around them.  Tsar is avoided by everyone, as are the haunted ruins of Tircople.  The Forest of Hope is considered a cursed place, and none but fools venture there.  Civilization has, 300 years after the war, reached its low point. 

Until now.

Recently, King Horatio of Bard's Gate has merged the petty kingdoms of Bard's Gate and Reme though first diplomacy, then marriage.  He seeks to broaden the civilized lands and reclaim some of the treasures of empire.  Both his military and collections of freebooters and adventurers are flocking to his banner...Some for wealth, some for the dream of the old empire returned.

Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Doktor Howl on April 12, 2019, 03:03:43 am
RA group initial goals:  Recover a small semi-ruined castle that was believed to be of imperial origin.

Twist:  It wasn't an imperial fortress, it was built by the demon worshipers, who have over the last 6 days or so begun moving back in.  The demon worshipers don't know much about the place, either, and the basement has a TON of fun for whomever gets there first.

ToA group initial goals:   Investigate rumors of a lost shrine to Thyr and Muir.

Twist:  The shrines are there, but have been profaned.  Following up leads the party to an ancient cliffside burial site that turns out to be far more than some noble's private plot.  There are signs that the Orcus assholes have been around (*VERY* alarming signs, such as The Font of Bones), but no initial sign of cultists at present.
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Doktor Howl on April 12, 2019, 03:14:18 am
Notes:

What neither the cultists nor the PCs know is that there is another cult in the area, this one to the Elder God Tsathogga (Bigass frog demon of horrible death).  They are in the tomb looking for an ancient site of evil (same one the Orcus dudes are looking for).  They also have "scouts" near the fortification the other group is investigating.

The "dead" gods Thyr and Muir were just napping.  They are awake again and really pissed off about the empire falling and new gods moving in.  Granted, they're lawful and good, but so was the old testament god, right?  This can be good or bad for the PCs, depending on their actions ("Sure it's safe to plunder this shrine, those dudes have been dead for 300 years" yuk yuk yuk.)  King Horatio is a secretly a member of the cult of Thyr and wants those shrines restored.  Unfortunately, communications got fouled and the PCs just know they're supposed to look for it.  What they do when they find it may make things interesting.

Numerous adventurers from the Northern part of the old empire have been trying their (non-existent) luck in Tsar and Rappan Athuk, and have stirred some shit up.  In fact, they have set off a "timer" and in 36 months, the bad shit in Tsar wakes up again.

ETA:

Hireling treachery for the Tomb group.

Local boss treachery for the RA group.  Way more subtle.

Both groups are being shadowed by some evil NPC parties (not aligned with the demon cults, just out to grab cash and notoriety from robbing/killing the PCs.)

Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Doktor Howl on April 12, 2019, 03:21:49 am
BBG for fortress:

Elizer Grim      CR 5
XP 1,600
Male human Disciple of Orcus 5
CE Medium humanoid (human)
Init  +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft; Perception +3
Aura Evil (moderate)

Defense
AC 24, touch 11, flat-footed 23 (armor +10, Dex +1, Shield +3)
HP 46 (5d8+20)
Fort +6, Ref +2, Will +7

Offense
Spd 20 ft
Melee +1 heavy mace +8 (1d8+4/x2)
Spells Known/Memorized (concentration +8)
3rd - animate dead (D), cure serious wounds, prayer
2nd - death knell (D), desecrate,  cure moderate wounds, sound burst (DC15)
1st - cause fear (D)(DC 14), cure light wounds, shield of faith, command (DC14), sanctuary (DC14)
0 lvl -  detect magic, read magic, light, mending

Tactics
Before Combat Elizer casts shield of faith and desecrate
During Combat Elizer orders his undead to attack and then casts spells and channels to support them.
Morale Elizer is a fanatic and will fight to the death.

Statistics
Str 16, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 14
Base Attack +3; CMB +6; CMD 17
Feats Toughness, Command Undead, Craft Wondrous Items, Armor (heavy), Weapon Focus (heavy mace), Traits (reactionary, sacred touch)
Skills Knowledge (arcane) +8, Knowledge (religion) +8, Spellcraft +8
   Racial Bonuses
SQ Domain (Death), Orisons, See in Darkness, Undead Lord's Proxy, Favored Class (cleric, 5 HP)
Languages Common
Gear +1 heavy mace, +1 full plate, +1 heavy steel shield, belt of giant strength +2, folding boat, 800 GP worth of onyx, map to Rappan Athuk

Special Abilities
Variant Channeling (Su) When used to heal undead or creatures with negative energy affinity, channeling is enhanced (+50%).  When used to harm other living creatures, the damage is normal.
Channel Negative Energy (Su) 3d6 negative energy, DC 14 (DC 16 to command undead)  5/day
Bleeding Touch (Sp) As a melee touch attack, you can cause a living creature to take 1d6 points of damage per round.  This effect persists a number of rounds equal to 1/2 you cleric level (minimum 1) or until stopped with a DC 15 Heal check or any spell or effect that heals damager.  You may use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Wisdom modifier.
Advanced NPC:  Elizer has PC stats and gold, and is therefore CR +1
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: The Wizard Joseph on April 12, 2019, 03:34:53 am
Cool! Can't wait to hear how this plays out. Thanks for sharing your gaming stuff here. I'm really looking forward to it.
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Doktor Howl on April 12, 2019, 03:35:35 am
Cool! Can't wait to hear how this plays out. Thanks for sharing your gaming stuff here. I'm really looking forward to it.

Yeah, I'm going to use this as my scratch pad, because no players are current members of this place.
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Doktor Howl on April 12, 2019, 03:41:52 am
Hireling treachery:  Party's local guide is a larcenous bastard who steals everything that isn't nailed down, once the opportunity presents itself.  He's not affiliated with either cult, he's just a thief.  He will be left outside to guard the horses, etc, once the PCs enter the tomb.  He will then run off with the horses and anything he can grab from the shrines (thus aggroing the two gods).

Boss treachery:  One of the two ex-adventurers that guard the town of Crimmor for the king (Crimmor is the PCs base of operations for RA) will be corrupted by something the PCs bring back from the fort.  Over a period of weeks, he will become an Orcus cultist.  Clues to this occurring will be present but vague.  Once his corruption is complete, he will go to the fort that the PCs have presumably cleared out, and open the secret door to the dungeon's second level.  Once inside, he will find the old reliquary and gain the vampire corruption condition (Ultimate Horror sourcebook) and things will go downhill from there.  If not stopped, he will become a full-out vampire in 60 days.
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: The Wizard Joseph on April 12, 2019, 03:55:04 am
Cool! Can't wait to hear how this plays out. Thanks for sharing your gaming stuff here. I'm really looking forward to it.

Yeah, I'm going to use this as my scratch pad, because no players are current members of this place.

I take it the boss man uses all of that onyx for animate dead spells? It's been a loooong time since I read Rule books for this sort of thing, but I seem to recall an onyx gemstone being necessary to animate dead. Does he just make bog-standard zombies or can he do other stuff?
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Doktor Howl on April 12, 2019, 03:58:41 am
Cool! Can't wait to hear how this plays out. Thanks for sharing your gaming stuff here. I'm really looking forward to it.

Yeah, I'm going to use this as my scratch pad, because no players are current members of this place.

I take it the boss man uses all of that onyx for animate dead spells? It's been a loooong time since I read Rule books for this sort of thing, but I seem to recall an onyx gemstone being necessary to animate dead. Does he just make bog-standard zombies or can he do other stuff?

This is correct.  He can do skeletons and zombies, but can only control up to 10 HD of them.  So he jogs to crimmor at night and animates some in the graveyard and lets them just do their thing.  This will be shortly after the PCs arrive.  He has a vanguard of controlled undead he keeps around for defense, and a pile of bones for reinforcements as they become necessary.
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Doktor Howl on April 12, 2019, 03:59:50 am
Bear in mind, this is just a lead in arc for Rappan Athuk itself, so I'm okay with the idea that the PCs will bigfoot this dude when they reach the dungeon level of the fort.
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: The Wizard Joseph on April 12, 2019, 04:06:21 am
Bear in mind, this is just a lead in arc for Rappan Athuk itself, so I'm okay with the idea that the PCs will bigfoot this dude when they reach the dungeon level of the fort.

Not knowing the actual stats and abilities of the PCs it would seem to me this guy would be quite the challenge to take hand-to-hand unless they can completely overwhelm him and maybe get him on the ground. Is that what you mean by bigfooting?
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Doktor Howl on April 12, 2019, 04:08:48 am
Bear in mind, this is just a lead in arc for Rappan Athuk itself, so I'm okay with the idea that the PCs will bigfoot this dude when they reach the dungeon level of the fort.

Not knowing the actual stats and abilities of the PCs it would seem to me this guy would be quite the challenge to take hand-to-hand unless they can completely overwhelm him and maybe get him on the ground. Is that what you mean by bigfooting?

They'll be 3rd level - almost 4th - before they find him.  I give him 3 rounds, tops.  Action economy is 6:1 once they take down the zombie choads, and then his AC won't save him.  Taking him down is a goal for the PCs (kill the BBG) AND for me (Once he's out of the way, Rufus can gain access to the lower dungeon level.)
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: The Wizard Joseph on April 12, 2019, 04:15:21 am
Bear in mind, this is just a lead in arc for Rappan Athuk itself, so I'm okay with the idea that the PCs will bigfoot this dude when they reach the dungeon level of the fort.

Not knowing the actual stats and abilities of the PCs it would seem to me this guy would be quite the challenge to take hand-to-hand unless they can completely overwhelm him and maybe get him on the ground. Is that what you mean by bigfooting?

They'll be 3rd level - almost 4th - before they find him.  I give him 3 rounds, tops.  Action economy is 6:1 once they take down the zombie choads, and then his AC won't save him.  Taking him down is a goal for the PCs (kill the BBG) AND for me (Once he's out of the way, Rufus can gain access to the lower dungeon level.)

 :lulz: I love your sense of Storytelling treachery. I'm not even playing and I feel invested in seeing how this will play out.
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Doktor Howl on April 12, 2019, 04:20:24 am
Bear in mind, this is just a lead in arc for Rappan Athuk itself, so I'm okay with the idea that the PCs will bigfoot this dude when they reach the dungeon level of the fort.

Not knowing the actual stats and abilities of the PCs it would seem to me this guy would be quite the challenge to take hand-to-hand unless they can completely overwhelm him and maybe get him on the ground. Is that what you mean by bigfooting?

They'll be 3rd level - almost 4th - before they find him.  I give him 3 rounds, tops.  Action economy is 6:1 once they take down the zombie choads, and then his AC won't save him.  Taking him down is a goal for the PCs (kill the BBG) AND for me (Once he's out of the way, Rufus can gain access to the lower dungeon level.)

 :lulz: I love your sense of Storytelling treachery. I'm not even playing and I feel invested in seeing how this will play out.

Best case, Grim gets away and becomes a recurring villain, especially if Rufus goes totally sideways.

I have always been a fan of the power vacuum plot hook.  Party clears out bad guys, other bad guys are free to move into the territory.
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Cramulus on April 12, 2019, 02:48:32 pm
(https://froggodgames.com/frogs/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Book-of-Dirty-Tricks-1.png)

I've got a copy of Bill Webb's Book of Dirty Tricks (https://froggodgames.com/frogs/product/bill-webbs-book-of-dirty-tricks/) (by the same guy who wrote Rappan Athuk) -- it is a cursed tome. But I think it points at the best elements of Gygax style play. You familiar?

It has great tips like  -- sometimes when your party is camping in the wilderness, the watch will hear something in the bushes... but it's not a monster, it's a skunk. If they jump up with weapons drawn and start waking up the party, the skunk panics and blasts them. For the next few days, they have penalties to stealth and charisma checks.

Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: The Wizard Joseph on April 12, 2019, 02:52:25 pm
 :lulz: :lulz:

I might have to get me a copy of that!
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Doktor Howl on April 12, 2019, 03:26:07 pm
I own a copy.  It's worth mentioning that I've been DMing since 1977, so a lot of those tricks were pretty famous at the time (Through Dungeoneer magazine, etc).
Title: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: nullified on April 13, 2019, 08:23:57 pm
I’ve been digesting this slowly.

D&D and PF are things I’ve always liked for the sheer amount of shit you can do with them as a DM, there’s something for almost any diseased idea to fall out of the back of your brain, but I’ve always had trouble with the “half the things you want to do are worthless” part of it as a PC. What’s the point of a billion classes and races if you end up useless with all but a couple of them, is sort of the thought process I have on it.

That said: this looks incredibly fun. I even like the fluff and probably should grab the book for that alone. I’d love to play a TTRPG with the Dok one day, even one as bloody and deadly as this one seems to be.

EDIT: I don’t know why I said “even”, because my /ideal/ D&D/PF style game involves a body count many times higher than the number of players.
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Doktor Howl on April 13, 2019, 10:33:33 pm
I’ve been digesting this slowly.

D&D and PF are things I’ve always liked for the sheer amount of shit you can do with them as a DM, there’s something for almost any diseased idea to fall out of the back of your brain, but I’ve always had trouble with the “half the things you want to do are worthless” part of it as a PC. What’s the point of a billion classes and races if you end up useless with all but a couple of them, is sort of the thought process I have on it.

That said: this looks incredibly fun. I even like the fluff and probably should grab the book for that alone. I’d love to play a TTRPG with the Dok one day, even one as bloody and deadly as this one seems to be.

EDIT: I don’t know why I said “even”, because my /ideal/ D&D/PF style game involves a body count many times higher than the number of players.

The book is really steep.  The PDF is more affordable, but that's a relative term.  You can find it on https://froggodgames.com/frogs/
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Fujikoma on April 13, 2019, 10:59:56 pm
Just play cleric, or thief... or cleric/thief.
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: nullified on April 13, 2019, 11:00:51 pm
Thanks for the link, I bookmarked it for when I have that kind of money (or Christmas rolls around, who knows?)

I’m a firm believer that originality is just remixing and happy accidents, so I like to consume everything remotely of interest, which this certainly seems to be. I’ve got three or four settings I work on off and on, and I can see this fitting well with one in particular.
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Doktor Howl on April 13, 2019, 11:40:35 pm
Thanks for the link, I bookmarked it for when I have that kind of money (or Christmas rolls around, who knows?)

I’m a firm believer that originality is just remixing and happy accidents, so I like to consume everything remotely of interest, which this certainly seems to be. I’ve got three or four settings I work on off and on, and I can see this fitting well with one in particular.

The entire adventure set is:

Stoneheart Valley
Rappan Athuk
Slumbering City of Tsar.

It's like 3000 pages of madness, horror and death as a body of writing, obviously there is no campaign track to complete all of them.  So far, there is a running total of 85% mortality in Rappan Athuk (54 dead PCs), and one party that tried Tsar (5 out of 6 dead PCs).  Stoneheart Valley is a bit easier if you play intelligently and has a 40% mortality rate (15 dead PCs).

Mind you, I've been running Rappan Athuk occasionally since it's 3rd ed incarnation, so since about 2000-ish.  Tsar is more or less unplayable, so I mine it for ideas.
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: nullified on April 13, 2019, 11:43:33 pm
I missed Stoneheart but found the other two. Still too rich for my blood (a good meal for me lately is one of those 6 dollar bagged pasta meals in the frozen section of Wal-Mart) but I have /goals/ now!

What makes Tsar unplayable?
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Doktor Howl on April 13, 2019, 11:54:35 pm
I missed Stoneheart but found the other two. Still too rich for my blood (a good meal for me lately is one of those 6 dollar bagged pasta meals in the frozen section of Wal-Mart) but I have /goals/ now!

What makes Tsar unplayable?

It's fricking HUGE.  You start at the camp at 8th level.  After about 6 months of play (1 5 hour session/week) you get to the gates of the ruined city.

This is where the party all died.  Just outside.  (from what the party referred to as the "Jersey tire-fire beast")

If you get through the gates, it is an entire city.  Like the size of Buffalo.  And every single encounter is written like the boss encounter for a module.  It's an AMAZING body of work, and it would make the most fantastic computer game or MMORPG ever, but running it would be a full time job.
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: nullified on April 13, 2019, 11:57:01 pm
There’s a place for that if you run one of those “real play RPG” podcasts and it’s popular enough. But yes, MMO material.
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Doktor Howl on April 14, 2019, 06:48:29 am
Adding one more house rule, which we don't like to do normally:

Spellcraft as a skill is abolished.  Appropriate knowledge skills take it's place.  So for a wizard learning a new spell, knowledge arcana (same DC).  For determining what spell an opponent is casting, use the skill tied to that class (so to determine what a cleric or oracle is doing, use knowledge (religion), for a wizard or sorcerer, knowledge (arcana).  For druids, knowledge (nature), etc.  If you don't have the correct skill, you don't have a chance to do it.

To identify an item, do the same thing.  You make a single knowledge check role, and apply each bonus.  If the correct knowledge check is high enough, you recognize the item.  For items that don't require a spell as a component, any applicable spell will do.

Example:   A ring of invisibility.  The DC to recognize this is 15+ minimum caster level (3) = 18.  Invisibility is an arcane spell, so the appropriate knowledge is arcana.  No other knowledge check will get you the result.

Bob the Cleric has only knowledge (religion).  Bob cannot identify the ring.

Spedge the Wizard has knowledge (arcana).  If his check is an 18 or higher, he identifies the ring.

Dave the bard has both skills.  He rolls a single die roll, and adds that roll to each of his knowledge skills *separately*, and if the *appropriate* check is high enough, he knows it is a ring of invisibility.  If his roll fails but is at least a 15, he knows that it is arcane.

The advantage of this from the PCs point of view is that it frees up a skill point for a caster.  From the DM's point of view, it forces the party to broaden their skill base.  It also removes a redundancy from the game.

Note:  This gives wizards, sorcerers, and bards a significant advantage over other spell casters, as they have access to the identify spell, which nobody else gets (except for a domain, IIRC).  A qualifier added to the spell would be that when identify is cast, the knowledge it is being added to has to be named at the time of the casting...And since an untrained knowledge skill check maxes out at 10, it's useless if the caster hasn't got at least one rank in the appropriate skill (except for bards, who can use knowledge skills untrained.) 

This would *imply* that identify be added to the spell lists of other casting classes as a 2nd level spell instead of a 1st level spell, but this is still under discussion.
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Don Coyote on April 14, 2019, 01:22:29 pm
Democracy Spellcraft can get fucked.
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Telarus on April 14, 2019, 08:55:22 pm
Good thread! Thanks for the peek into your campaign, Dok.
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Doktor Howl on April 15, 2019, 02:03:34 am
Good thread! Thanks for the peek into your campaign, Dok.

The campaign starts in June.  I will be posting notes from now til then, and then I will record the horrible carnage.

This is one of those campaigns where you KNOW you need extra character sheets.
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Cain on April 16, 2019, 07:38:16 pm
I'm guessing this is Pathfinder and not 5E, given the "bard lol"?
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Doktor Howl on April 17, 2019, 05:35:26 pm
I'm guessing this is Pathfinder and not 5E, given the "bard lol"?

Yeah, we're sticking with PF1e.
Title: Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
Post by: Cain on April 18, 2019, 07:00:57 am
Yeah, that bard is toast.