"The Shadow over Wilderland" campaign AP -- SPOILERS

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gsecaur
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"The Shadow over Wilderland" campaign AP -- SPOILERS

Post by gsecaur » Tue Aug 01, 2017 3:39 am

My gaming group has just started playing The One Ring in our rotation. I'm not sure how frequently or for how long we'll play, as we swap in and out of various campaigns pretty regularly. If I have my way, we'll return to TOR as often as the group agrees!

One of my players is a reader of this forum, so I'll avoid too much commentary that might spoil future events for him. These write-ups are the summaries that I share with the players after each session, so they are pretty detailed, perhaps more so than some on the forums will appreciate. There are, needless to say, tons of spoilers therein for anyone who hasn't read or played the same scenarios.

I'll post AP reports here as often as I can. I always enjoy reading about others' experiences and adventures, and I hope the community enjoys reading about ours.

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Session 1: An Auspicious Meeting (March 12, T.A. 2946)

The characters:
Caranthir, an Elf of Mirkwood, Slayer
Gerold, a Man of Woodmen-town, Warden
Gylfir, a Man of the Beornings, Warden
Nali, a Dwarf of Erebor, Wanderer

It is nearly five years since the Battle of Five Armies, which followed the death of Smaug and the destruction of Lake-town. The Free Peoples of Wilderland are at peace with each other, and the Orcs and Wolves have returned to their mountains in defeat. The Dwarves have reclaimed Erebor, where Dain Ironfoot sits as King under the Mountain, and a thriving city of Men sits at the foot of the mountain, in the ruins of the old city of Dale. Bard, whose Black Arrow slew the dragon, is king of the Men therein. The lake-town of Esgaroth, too, has been rebuilt and trade is returning.

On the shores of the Long Lake, four adventurers are each attending to their own affairs when they hear a high-pitched cry in the distance, moving toward them in the tall reeds. It is a child of about 10, his head barely visible, and he barrels toward the Beorning, who stands tallest above the grasses. "Help! Help! Father -- the guards -- they're going to kill him! They were taking us to Mirkwood, but they turned on us! Father sent me to find help! Help!"

The Beorning puts a hand on the boy's shoulder as three more heroes come running. "Where?" he asks the boy, who leads them back along the marshy shore and into the woods. The track twists and winds, and the heroes hear snarled threats ahead.

Bursting into the clearing, they find an older man, a bit soft around the middle, with his back against a tree and a heavy branch in his hands. Five rough-looking warriors in leather shirts and brandishing short swords stand on all sides, one of them with a fresh, red welt across his face. The largest of them turns to see the heroes crashing through the underbrush and sneers, "Be off! This is none of your affair."

The dwarf speaks, "What is this?"

"We were playing at dice, and now he won't pay up." This gives the heroes pause. Could the anger of these men be somewhat justified?

Gylfir, the Beorning, is gifted at discerning the truth in men's hearts, and he does not believe the story. His face darkens, and the man sees what direction this is going, so his story changes.

"Look," he says, "just turn around and let us finish this business, and we can split the take."

That was the wrong way to address Gylfir, because he has sworn oaths to Beorn to protect travelers and innocents. He draws himself to his full height and brandishes his great spear, to tremendously intimidating effect. (I'm sure he said something, but I don't remember it.)

Two of the bandits immediately break for the trees and disappear, but the other three decide in a split-second to protect their score, and they charge the heroes!

The Woodman is accompanied by a massive, shaggy wolfhound, which steps in front of him, allowing Gerold to draw a long-hafted axe. His companion, Caranthir of the Woodland Realm, draws back his bow and readies a shot while Nali and Gylfir move to intercept the bandits.

Gylfir is aggressive, leaving himself open to attacks, and the leader of the thugs gets a jab in at him, but Gylfir soon makes him pay with a massive downward thrust of the great spear that knocks him back.

Gerold and Nali each engage another bandit, while the wolfhound nips at their heels. Caranthir struggles to get a clean shot, as he dares not hit his old friend, Gerold, or his new fellows.

Jonar, the leader of the bandits, is the first to go down after Gylfir drives the spear through his shoulder. Nali challenges Kelmund to face him, enraging the man and forcing him to stay locked in battle with the dwarf. Gylfir therefore moves to assist Gerold, and Finnar does not last long against the pair of them. Soon all three bandits are wounded and unable to continue.

The merchant drops the branch and rushes to embrace his son. He thanks the heroes for their aid, and explains that these men had been hired to escort him and little Belgo to a place at the edge of the Elvenking's domain. He sighs deeply and notes that he will now have to travel all the way back to Lake-town to recruit new guards, hinting that he will pay the heroes if they are willing to save him the trouble. They agree.

The party travels with Baldor and Belgo for two days through the forest, finally reaching a place where the river flows out of the Elvenking's realm, marked by a sort of tunnel formed of trees spanning the river, mist flowing outward. Baldor makes camp here, and begins unpacking the four ponies. Later that day a trio of rafts drifts out of the tunnel, punted toward the bank by Elves. Baldor greets his Elf-friends warmly, and explains that he does a great deal of trade with them. One of the elves approaches Baldor's ponies and whispers in their ears. This calms the ponies so that they walk calmly onto the rafts and stand stock-still in the center. Baldor invites the heroes to stay with the group and visit the Elvenking's court, which they agree to do.

The Elves push off from the riverbank and the rafts travel back up river into the darkened tunnel. Days later, they enter a network of caves and reach a dock, where the rafts are unloaded and the party is greeted by Lindar, master of the wine cellars. He and Baldor share a warm greeting, but he looks with some scepticism at the party, particularly Nali. He declares that they are welcome to camp here, at the docks, until it is time to return downriver.

But the heroes are on their best behaviour. Caranthir, of course, is welcome here, though King Thranduil's palace is not exactly his home. The rest do the best they can to muster up some courtesy. Nali praises the craftsmanship of these underground halls, and his words are apparently pleasing to Lindar, as he accepts the compliment without an insult in return. Gylfir shares a snippet of verse sung among the Beornings about a disaster of hospitality, and Lindar laughs musically, saying, "It is a point well made, if not subtly." (I don't remember what Gerold said that impressed Lindar.)

Finally, the wine-master declares that the heroes will be given rooms in the Lower Caverns, with warm, soft beds, good drink and food. From these rooms, they can hear the distant singing of the Elves, and they spend a restful night, recovering from the exhaustion of their journey.

The next day, Baldor declares that he and Belgo will be continuing along the Elf-path through Mirkwood, but that the Elves have offered to guard his caravan. Therefore, he releases the new fellowship to return to their own business, paying each a few coins for their service.

The Elves will conduct them back downriver and deposit them at the point where they were picked up. From there, the companions decide to travel together back to Lake-town, to solidify their new bonds and strengthen their friendship. Along the way, they get to know each other and decide to form an adventuring company.

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Loremaster notes: This was just a mini-scenario I ran after our character-creation session. Obviously, I just used the opening scenes of "Don't Leave the Path", which I didn't intend to run as presented anyway.

In the flush of conducting our first combat, we didn't address what the PCs did with the bandits, which I regret. One of my favorite aspects of this setting is that the players are expected to uphold certain honorable standards -- not just be murder-hobos. As such, I think it's important to deal with the moral ramifications of handling defeated foes.

These men are injured, and the honourable thing to do is to dress their wounds. They could be forcibly brought along on the journey, in order to hand them over to either the Elves -- who may not care about crimes committed outside their lands, though they are supposedly on friendly terms with Baldor, the merchant -- or to the Men of Lake-town, but both options would be exhausting for the PCs since the bandits would likely choose to make this difficult. Another option would be to tie them up and leave them in the forest, to be retrieved on their return, but that would be days from now and in the meantime they'll need food and water. A final option might be to let them go with the promise that the company will report them to Lake-town authorities.

The conversation with Lindar allowed us to take the Encounter rules for a spin. That went okay, although we're still getting the hang of balancing the role-playing of the scene with the game mechanics. Part of the problem, I think, is that this party doesn't have a lot of interpersonal skills -- they're a pretty rough bunch! So any scene that calls for Courtesy, Persuade, etc., is bound to be a bit of a mess. They've got Awe down pretty good, though!

We have one player yet to join us -- he couldn't make this session -- and he's deciding between a Barding Leader and a Hobbit Scholar. Either way, I'm going to impress upon him that we need some social skills out of that character.

I thought it was funny that the Elf's player chose the name Caranthir from the list in the book, not knowing that this is the name of the pre-gen Elf PC. Inadvertently, he nearly created an identical character too. The main difference is that he's a Slayer, but he even changed his weapon array after this session to use the Spear skill instead, just like the pre-gen. (We felt that ranged combat would be too frustrating for him at this early stage of the campaign, when skills are pretty low.)

Otaku-sempai
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Re: "The Shadow over Wilderland" campaign AP -- SPOILERS

Post by Otaku-sempai » Tue Aug 01, 2017 2:29 pm

Speaking of names, Lindar is an interesting choice for the one Wood-elf NPC as this is also a name that the Teleri use for themselves. If the character is Sindar rather than a Silvan Elf then he is effectively Lindar of the Lindar. :D
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gsecaur
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Re: "The Shadow over Wilderland" campaign AP -- SPOILERS

Post by gsecaur » Tue Aug 01, 2017 5:00 pm

That's an interesting observation, Otaku. I just checked the published scenario to see if I'd somehow misremembered the name, but that's the name he's given in "Don't Leave the Path". Maybe the author had encountered the Sindarin word but forgotten its meaning.

Perhaps I'll edit it to be Lindir in any future encounters, and none of my players will notice...


Greg

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Re: "The Shadow over Wilderland" campaign AP -- SPOILERS

Post by Otaku-sempai » Tue Aug 01, 2017 5:44 pm

On the other hand, Lindar might be of Silvan descent and the connotations of the name were not considered a big deal.
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Majestic
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Re: "The Shadow over Wilderland" campaign AP -- SPOILERS

Post by Majestic » Tue Aug 01, 2017 7:00 pm

Excellent summary, gsecaur. Thanks for sharing it with us!
Adventure Summaries of our campaign, currently playing through The Darkening of Mirkwood

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Indur Dawndeath
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Re: "The Shadow over Wilderland" campaign AP -- SPOILERS

Post by Indur Dawndeath » Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:44 pm

Thanks for sharing the write up!
Not too long at all, when it is well written :)

In my game the thugs became long term enemies, because they returned first to Lake-town, almost a year before the company returned on their own. In Lake-town everybody believed their story about what happend with poor Belgo and his father, that a group of brigands had attacked and made off with the merchant, his son and all the goods.
As soon as the players entered Lake-town, they were identified as the brigands.
Pretty funny...
One game to rule them all: TOR

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Terisonen
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Re: "The Shadow over Wilderland" campaign AP -- SPOILERS

Post by Terisonen » Wed Aug 02, 2017 4:08 pm

This sort of nasties is pretty well to be aborded by emissaries of the shadow... :twisted:
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gsecaur
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Re: "The Shadow over Wilderland" campaign AP -- SPOILERS

Post by gsecaur » Wed Aug 02, 2017 7:28 pm

Indur, I really like the idea of having these three goons come back later. It's too late to have them turn the tables on the PCs by reporting them to the law back in Esgaroth, since the PCs have already returned and been treated as heroes.

But I could see having them joining an outlaw band. After all, by turning Esgaroth against the men, the PCs have left them without a home in which to operate. Maybe they show up with the Viglundings, or maybe they join a gang out of Dale. Either way, I'll make sure they show up again!

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Indur Dawndeath
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Re: "The Shadow over Wilderland" campaign AP -- SPOILERS

Post by Indur Dawndeath » Wed Aug 02, 2017 7:58 pm

gsecaur wrote:
Wed Aug 02, 2017 7:28 pm
Indur, I really like the idea of having these three goons come back later. It's too late to have them turn the tables on the PCs by reporting them to the law back in Esgaroth, since the PCs have already returned and been treated as heroes.

But I could see having them joining an outlaw band. After all, by turning Esgaroth against the men, the PCs have left them without a home in which to operate. Maybe they show up with the Viglundings, or maybe they join a gang out of Dale. Either way, I'll make sure they show up again!
That is exactly what happend later in my game.
After the players managed to get word sent to Belgo, the real brigands fled Lake-town and later joined Beldir's gang. If you are familiar with the Helm of peace adventure...
And they are still out there, now holed up with Valdis.

It is fun with familiar enemies!
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Re: "The Shadow over Wilderland" campaign AP -- SPOILERS

Post by Otaku-sempai » Wed Aug 02, 2017 8:26 pm

Terisonen wrote:
Wed Aug 02, 2017 4:08 pm
This sort of nasties is pretty well to be aborded by emissaries of the shadow... :twisted:
Um...what? No offense, but I've tried reading that forwards, backwards and slideways, but I can't make any sense of it. The made-up word 'aborded' doesn't help. :?:
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