Re-taking the Greydelve

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Majestic
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Re: Re-taking the Greydelve

Post by Majestic » Wed Apr 04, 2018 9:23 pm

I think it's a great idea, and not too derivative at all (just make sure the dragon is different enough from Smaug).

For a dragon very much like what you've described, check out the ones they made (as examples) in the Erebor book, Lytegan and Kibiluzn; both have elements that very much remind me of what you're looking for.

The whole concept of the Greydelve is a fun 'quest', which my players very much enjoyed for many Adventuring Phases. I didn't make any elaborate maps or intricate details, but kept things more loose and free-form. James Brown's Mythic Battles document is well worth checking out, too!
Adventure Summaries of our campaign, currently playing through The Darkening of Mirkwood

Wyrmling
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Re: Re-taking the Greydelve

Post by Wyrmling » Thu Apr 05, 2018 4:08 pm

Yeah, the idea for the Dragon that I made up came from Kibiluzn, just translated over to the Gredelve. And I do like the idea that he may decide to "trade up" and try to corrupt the Dwarves that take over the place. I may try to figure out a way to work that in somehow.

PencilBoy99
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Re: Re-taking the Greydelve

Post by PencilBoy99 » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:07 pm

Majestic, can you provide some information on how you built out your Greydelve adventure?

Wyrmling
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Re: Re-taking the Greydelve

Post by Wyrmling » Fri Apr 06, 2018 10:49 pm

Here are my PCs and a synopsis of their first Adventuring Phase (2.5 sessions total):

Nur the Younger (Lonely Mountain-Scholar) is a bit of a fop and dandy for a Dwarf, he has set himself on a quest to recover Dwarven treasures of old and enter them into the Erebor Index. His father, a prominent merchant,\ died at the Battle of Five Armies and he is accompanied by his father's best friend (the Dwarf that he is named after as well, leading to lots of "No relation" comments from both of them) Nur the Elder (Iron Hills-Slayer). Not only did the younger Nur's father die, he did it saving Nur the Elder's life and now the older Dwarf has dedicated himself to looking after "the boy" a repayment for that debt. Nur the Elder is as gruff and stoic as Nur the Younger is eager and charming.

They are joined on their quest by Vidar (Lonely Mountain-Slayer) and his cousin Otar (Blue Mountain-Treasure Hunter). Vidar is bold and eager to go forth and win fame and fortune, having been just a bit too young to participate in the Battle of Five Armies. Otar, at his cousin's urging, relocated from the Blue Mountains to Erebor, intending to start his own workshop as a stone-mason. Imagine his surprise when he learned that his skills weren't considered good enough to earn him a place of his own and that he'd have to become an apprentice again (Blue Mountain Dwarves have Craft 2, and Craft 3 is needed to establish yourself in the Lonely Mountain according to Erebor). A proud sort, Otar refused the offer to apprentice with his cousin's family and instead settled in Dale, where he hooked up with some less reputable characters. Now, he's decided that his goal is to make the Dwarves of Erebor ask him to live under their mountain. And they'd best ask nicely.

==============

For the first adventure, I used a modified "Don't Leave The Path" from Tales, saying that instead of going through Mirkwood they're escorting a merchant and his son (old friends of Nur the Younger's father who called in a debt) through the Grey Mountain Narrows. The plan was to hug the eaves of the forest, so I just modified the encounters to take that into effect. Knowing that the group was setting out, one of King Dain's advisors also gently suggested that the King might be pleased if they checked in on Bofur's (of Hobbit fame) son who had set out on a fact-finding mission to determine the feasibility of re-opening the Old Dwarf Road through Mirkwood. As intended, they took this suggestion as a command from their King!

About a half day's travel out of Dale, the Fellowship was accosted by a band of three toughs who claimed that Baldor (the Man they were escorting) owed them some money and that they were intending to collect it...right now. Although intended as a way to show them how the combat system worked, Nur the Elder overawed them with his growling, gruff threats and the craven trio decided that the debt could wait and they were needed...elsewhere.

Vidar worked to befriend Belgo, the young son of the merchant, learning that the boy had a good luck talisman that his mother had given him and that she'd died in Smaug's attack on Esgaroth years earlier. When time comes to make Corruption checks, both Nurs and Otar fail and some good RP ensues when the Nurs gang up to accuse the "shiftless" Otar of sneaking extra helpings of food when no one else is looking. Vidar tries to calm the situation, but their raised voices echo in the hills and a band of Goblins tries to sneak up on them. The twin Slayer team of Nur the Elder and Vidar make short work of them, with help from everyone (including Belgo) and the matter is dropped...for now.

The next leg of the trip ends with them encountering Pollin and Pommin, a pair of Grey Mountain Dwarves who are also skirting the eaves of Mirkwood to do a little poaching in addition to hunting Goblins. The encounter doesn't go so well, as I played the pair up as having a chip on their shoulder regarding their "rich cousins" not helping them to reclaim their own hold, the Greydelve. I use the opportunity to fill the players in on the Greydelve and it definitely sparked all of their interest. Things get so testy between the Fellowship and Pollin/Pommin that they make separate camps out of pure Dwarven spite.

During the night, Belgo is lured into the forest by some strange lights that he saw and a shadowy vision that he thinks is his mother. When the Fellowship discovers that he's gone, they quickly track him to the edge of the forest, which they were warned not to enter. They ask Pollin & Pommin for help and the pair brush it off as "not our problem" and another argument ensues and they almost come to blows before running the bothersome brothers off.

Leaving Baldor to watch the ponies, the Fellowship girds up and plunges into the forest to find Belgo. I combined the encounter with the spiders with the haunted well from "Don't Leave The Path" and they eventually arrive at an old, web covered fort with an eerie well in the center of the courtyard. With the Shadow lifted from Mirkwood, the Thing in the Well is asleep, but even asleep it occasionally draws people to it and the spiders take advantage of that. The Fellowship sees a fresh cocoon and realizes that Belgo has been taken by the spiders. After a quick conference, they decide to have Otar and Nur the Elder sneak in and free the boy while the spiders are nowhere to be seen. As the pair sneak in, they trip some webs alerting the spiders and a melee begins!

The Fellowship handles itself fairly well, but I could tell they were concerned because the spiders kept coming! They decide to try and collapse a portion of the crumbling inner keep to buy themselves some time, but two of the Fellowship end up rolling Eyes and I rule that the noise and falling masonry wake the Thing in the Well. Not wanting a TPK, I also ruled that the spiders withdraw, having no desire to tangle with...whatever it is. After another desperate battle (and Corruption checks blown by everyone) they manage to do enough damage to cause the tentacles to withdraw. Realizing that the spiders might come back at any moment, the Fellowship decides to get out of the woods...

Just kidding. These are Dwarves we're talking about here!

They take the time to search the ruins of the tower (deciding to give the well a wide berth even though they're sure that they saw something glittering down there) and find a respectable amount of Treasure. In fact, I decided to treat it as a Hoard, so Nur the Younger finds a lovely gold and emerald ring of Dwarven manufacture worth about 40 Treasure, which he takes as his share. After searching, they decide to leave, especially when they hear the spiders starting to come back! After a quick chase and some Athletics rolls, the Fellowship makes it to the eaves of the forest and the spiders aren't willing to chase them any further.

They revive Belgo and reunite father and son and continue on their journey. The only other thing of particular note that happened was they had some minor difficulties crossing the river and lost one of Baldor's ponies. Feeling responsible, Vidar (it was his role to watch out for them after all) gives most of his share of the treasure to Baldor to make up for the loss, earning a friend for life!

Leaving the Narrows, they hustle through the lands of the Viglundings, but aren't harassed by the slavers. Dwarves make terrible slaves after all. When they get south of the Elfwood, they are stunned to smell fried sausages and good pipeweed and they stumble across and inn out here in the Wild! A Hobbit inn, no less!

They decided to break from their journey here and spend a few weeks recovering from their journey, taking a short Fellowship phase, which was where the next session picks up.

Wyrmling
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Re: Re-taking the Greydelve

Post by Wyrmling » Sat Apr 07, 2018 5:26 am

Update from tonight (Friday 4/6):

One of the player's fiancee wanted to join the game and the Dwarven nature of the Fellowship is broken! Despite their good-natured prodding of her to play a Grey Mountain Dwarf so we'd have all of Durin's Folk represented, she went with a young Hobbit lass instead.

Amelia Took (Wanderer) is the younger sister of Agatha Brandybuck, the wife of the Inn's proprietor Dody Brandybuck. Her parents were looking to marry their wild child youngest daughter off to a nice, stable Bolger lad. Instead, Amelia set out with her sister and brother-in-law's family on an Adventure to set up an Inn at the edge of Wilderland. After helping to get the Easterly Inn set up, she began to get a Tookish urge for further adventure, just as the Fellowship came along. Amelia and Otar decided that they knew one another from the time that he'd done some stonework on her family's smial and she spent time with him reminiscing about the Shire and catching up on rumors.

Baldor and Belgo stayed for a few days, but then left to continue their journey now that they were in safer lands.

For the Fellowship phase, the PCs decided to stay for two weeks at the Easterly Inn and spend some XP. After the succession of failed Corruption tests, most of them chose to raise their Wisdom. Nur the Younger expanded his Broken Spells Virtue instead and saved the rest for a larger purchase later. Nur the Elder strengthened his bonds to his young friend and chose Sworn Allegiance. Fighting Goblins stirred up Old Hatred in Vidar and Otar chose to explore his musical side with Deep Songs.

For their Undertaking, they all chose to Heal Corruption and the Nurs and Vidar decided that they'd pitch in and do some repairs and improvements on the Inn, with the owner's permission of course. There was an old stone bridge across a small stream that could use some work and that was the project they chose. Otar relaxed instead, singing and smoking with his new friend Amelia. Everyone succeeded in their Heal Corruptions checks except for Nur the Younger, so it was decided that he was more hindrance than help and the other two Dwarves shooed him away after a while.

The Fellowship planned to head towards the Old Ford and then towards Woodmen Town to see if anyone had heard word of Bofri, son of Bofur. Given his dislike of Dwarves, they decided that they would skip trying to see Beorn, and instead make inquiries of his people along the way. It was a fine Spring morning when the newly strengthened Fellowship set forth along the banks of the Anduin.

After about 4 days of easy travel, they encountered a grim sight. A boat had drifted ashore with two dead Men in it. Vidar and Nur the Elder were easily able to determine that the Men had been killed by Orc arrows. Further investigation revealed that there was apparently a third person who had been tied up in the boat, but escaped. Amelia recognized that the dead Men had badges indicating that they were in the service of Beorn.

The Fellowship decided that the only decent thing to do was to bring the bodies to Beorn's House and they had their ponies tow the boat, bodies and all, with them. Another day's travel back the direction that they had come from and across fields of clover brought them to Beorn's house. Once there, they were greeted by the barking and howling of his marvelous dogs who led them to Beorn himself.

Needless to say, Beorn was quite upset that his friends had been killed and demanded answers. The Fellowship didn't completely embarrass themselves, but Beorn didn't seem terribly impressed by them. Especially since he seemed to suspect that they had helped themselves to a pouch of coins that the men had supposedly had with them. It was only the presence of the Hobbit that kept him from completely disbelieving his story, as he generally believed that the Hobbits were people of good character.

Also, since they'd done the whole "At Your Service" greeting, Beorn decided to take them up on it and tasked them with continuing south and finding out what had happened and more about the prisoner they were transporting. The Fellowship tried to refuse gracefully but, given that the skinchanger was insistent, decided they'd rather have him as a potential friend than enemy. He offered to let them stay for dinner and for the night and to head out in the morning.

Dinner was a sad affair that they tried to lighten up somewhat with stories and songs, but to limited effect. They did learn that Bofri and his party had traveled through these lands last summer and had said that they were heading first to the Mountain Hall of the Woodmen folk and then to Woodmen Town. When bedtime came, Beorn disappeared and the Fellowship bedded down in one of the side chambers of Beorn's Hall for the night. Early on, the night was restless as they heard noises as if some large animal was prowling about outside, but that stopped soon enough.

In the morning, Beorn had returned and was in a better mood and fixed the Fellowship a tasty breakfast of toast and cheese. He pointed towards a collection of battered Orc helms and said that he'd tracked them down the night before and exacted at least some toll for their murder of his men. He was still insistent that the Fellowship head south to track down the prisoner and gave them the bear tokens that the dead Men had worn to show that they were also operating under his mandate.

After breakfast, the Fellowship set out again along the Anduin, this time they kept an eye out for any signs of the prisoner's passage, but had little luck in finding any. However, on the second day out they encountered an old man fishing on the banks who said that a young fellow had stayed at his home four nights before and left a few silvers in payment for the trouble. The Dwarves recognized the silver as being part of the Treasure that had been given to Beorn in thanks for his help at the Battle of Five Armies, so they realized that they were on the right track!

A few hours further travel had them encounter a boat full of river folk pulled up to the shore and they traded rumors and gossip. It was there that they learned that a week ago there had been a murder in the small village of Stonyford, about two days travel south of the Old Ford. With further confirmation that their course was right, they continued on towards the Old Ford...

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Agnot
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Re: Re-taking the Greydelve

Post by Agnot » Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:22 pm

I love reading how players adapt the adventures to their player's particular narrative. Keep up the good work and let us know how your band of Dwarves (and one Hobbit) fair in their adventures.

MrUkpyr
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Re: Re-taking the Greydelve

Post by MrUkpyr » Sat Apr 07, 2018 5:48 pm

One thing you might do is have them be helping to re-open the Dwarf Road in the early parts of the adventure, until they are powerful enough to have a better chance with the Greydelve.
MrUkpyr
"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

Wyrmling
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Re: Re-taking the Greydelve

Post by Wyrmling » Sat Apr 07, 2018 7:49 pm

Yeah, re-opening the Dwarf Road was my original intent for the Fellowship and I think I'll gently nudge them in that direction for a while until they build up strength. We've primarily played 5E and D&D for quite a while, so I figure I'll have to break them of the bad habits that can result from that. Unlike the career of a D&D adventurer (I liken their sprint to accumulate power & wealth to a professional football player's career), TOR seems like more of a marathon. I'll just remind them that as Dwarves go, they've got a good 100 years or so of productive adventuring time (probably closer to 50 for Nur the Elder) and that Hobbits are a long-lived folk as well.

They've really been enjoying the game so far. There was some initial skepticism about the "Journey Phase" as they were concerned that it would be dull, but I think I've managed to keep them occupied with fun diversions. They're also liking the narrative nature of the Fellowship phase quite a bit, as it gives them a chance to flesh out their characters and relationships more.

Thanks for the encouragement and I'll keep you up to date on what happens!

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Agnot
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Re: Re-taking the Greydelve

Post by Agnot » Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:53 pm

One thing I've begun doing in the Journey Phase is to have a brief, planned encounter on the road that supports the current adventure, re-introduces a past NPC, or gives a glimpse into an upcoming adventure. For example, in the past adventure our fellowship bumped into Polin and Pomin along the road to the Viglunding's village in northern Mirkwood. Polin and Pomin were originally introduced to the fellowship several sessions ago as part of a longer adventure and the fellowship is wary of encountering them again. However, since I want to keep them fresh in their minds, I had them bump into them along the road where the dwarves offered them a camp for night (which the fellowship declined) and warned them to be on their guard around the Viglundings who are known slavers. So, in less than five minutes, I re-introduced some old NPC's and gave a piece of important information to the fellowship that made them highly skeptical of dealing with the Viglundings.

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Majestic
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Re: Re-taking the Greydelve

Post by Majestic » Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:41 pm

PencilBoy99 wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:07 pm
Majestic, can you provide some information on how you built out your Greydelve adventure?
When I started, I thought we were going to leave it all nebulous, with me just hand-waving that the PCs were tied up for two years retaking the fortress.

So to cover one of the most important parts, I brought up how they ended up - over the years of fighting - hearing some rumblings of discontent from some of the mercenaries about the Dwarf leader, Frár. The players expressed that they would not tolerate this, and would put down any rebellion.

We then backtracked and actually played through specific portions of the overall story, with the knowledge that the putting down of the rebellion would happen much later.

We first played out a combat, but rather than have anything specific to the Greydelve itself, it took place in some tunnels (so nothing that unusual, really). The group was ambushed (and nearly overwhelmed) by Hobgoblins and Bats. Though the PCs survived (it ended up being a battle where both sides retreated), off-camera many of the mercenaries were killed. The mercs were thus facing a crisis of morale, and Frár asked the heroes to intervene. The PCs then persuaded many of the mercenaries to stick with the cause.

I moved things forward and told them how that winter many Dwarves joined the army, but this taxed the resources and made food scarce. The PCs volunteered to go hunt game for the armies (which was resolved with a Hunting roll or two, I think). Frár let them know of a secret entrance far to the north (so in the spring they had to traverse the dangerous journey through the mountains around the fortress) and they found and recovered a massive cache of treasure (they only brought back a small amount, as many Dwarves were needed to haul it all back).

I said that many more months of fighting happened (we didn't play any of this out), and after all of their aid, Frár and the Dwarves gifted many items (recovered in that hoard) to the PCs for all of their dedicated assistance and help.

At this point I used the Mythic Battles rules and we had a session where there was a large-scale skirmish, with objectives spelled out and specific targets and goals defined. This was a major assault on the main citadel, where they took out the reigning commander, destroyed an outer wall, and disrupted major food lines to the enemy. The group accomplished most of what they set out to do, and overall was quite successful, so a major victory was won for the Free Peoples.

I then hand-waved that over a year more of major fighting happened, and we played through one of those fights (just as a representative of what was a regular thing during that period) using AME, where the PCs went up against a massive horde of elite Orcs backed up by some Wolves. The PCs literally killed so many that they had piles of bodies before it was over, which worked in their favor because it was much more difficult to surround them.

Finally, we role-played out some of the bit at the end where some of the sell-swords had a plot to murder Frár. The PCs had none of that, and quickly put down the rebellion (mostly by persuading others; very little fighting occurred).

So overall it wasn't that many sessions (maybe 3-5?), where we just spotlighted a few portions of the larger overall arc.
Adventure Summaries of our campaign, currently playing through The Darkening of Mirkwood

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