Monthly Archives: December 2022
Gatekeeper’s Campaign for PF2, Session 3
Since people still seem interested, here’s the notes for session 3 of my Gatekeepers game for PF2.
The PCs wake having stayed the night at the farm run by Morgan’s Dad — whose name is Ferris, and can go by Goodman Ferris, Yeoman Ferris, or Landsman Ferris (since he owns his own land and has the deed on register in the Imperial Archive on the Continent). Player’s start to jokingly refer to him as “MorgansDa.”
The storms which have wracked the area for the entire autumn have suddenly stopped, but it’s unseasonably cold – winter cold. There’s barely any wind, the sky is clear but the air crisp, and the night was so cold dry wood cracked and frost formed on stones around the farm.
Heading out from MorganDa’s Farm, the Pcs see a group of 7 sailors coming down to road to the farm, pushing a cart. Hailing them, the PCs discover they are from the “King of the Crest,” an enormous 14-decked imperial Gantharian warship (Ganthar being a major kingdom on the Continent). The sailors are looking to buy food, and offer to pay in gold, or double-price in spellsalt. Gantharians being legendarily proper and polite there’s no sense of threat, so Morgan takes most of the sailors (lead by Deckmaster Rithan) goes to take to Ferris and see about buying some food.
“Bohrgun the Badly-Named” (the ship’s bosun) – stays with the other PCs to answer questions. They learn the Continental Empire nation of Curtalia, “the Grainhouse of the Empire,” has been stricken by a blight that both destroys crops and rots food in warehouses within hours. Curtalia is being avoided and quarantined, but many of the major food stores of the Empire are already infected. The King of the Crest managed not to put in at any quarantined harbors (which would have led to it being quarantined), but as a result it is seriously low on foodstuffs.
Further, the PCs are told Tidesgate is being flooded by other ships looking to buy food. Because the sea is suddenly becalmed, only ships large enough to afford a storm witch or sea warden (druid) can make it to the island easily, and those ships are too big to put in anywhere by Tidesgate or Seagrace. Most are avoiding Seagrace unless they have contacts or contracts there, so Tidesgate is being inundated with big ships.
MorganDa agrees to sell some preserved food, all for spell salt, and the Pcs get to see that he has potato cellars on his land that aren’t easily spotted (being under trap doors covered in sod and then under scattered hay and where he parks his empty wagons and large items waiting for repair.
The group then head back to Tidesgate. As they approach they see other groups of sailors from different nations (not all from the Continental empire) heading out of town, but in this case each is accompanied by someone the group recognizes as a responsible citizen of Tidesgate (often guards-for-hire). The harbor is choked with huge warships, many from distant lands that normally bypass this island when making a route along the Circle Trade, but must now be desperate for supplies. One is a huge ship with a spiked roof covering it, and rows of long oars in addition to massive ribbed sails, and is clearly not from any nation of the nearby Continent.
(Art by Juulijs)
In town, the price of food is skyrocketing in town as captains go door-to-door to buy anything people will spare, and send their men out of town to buy from farms directly (such as the Gantharian soldiers were doing). Rumor is some ship’s crews are threatening or outright stealing, while others offering to buy with spell salt at x2 to x5 food’s normal cost, and even black sugar is being used at 2/3 its normal value. Some are sending foraging parties into the plains and woods, which is technically illegal. The law is normally ignored, but there are so many now that local residents that depend on forage are beginning to run low on food, and there’s been a spike in apparent wolf and trihorn steer attacks, suggesting the sailors are stirring up trouble.
The PCs see Pottage’s Tottage has been turned into a central depository, with townsfolk bringing anything they are willing to part with to sell on consignment (and then locking their home’s doors and placing “No Thing For Sale” signs on them), while Pottage takes lists of desired items from a line of ship’s quartermasters, and makes them wait until each evening for him to say what each can buy, and at what price. The PCs grab a moment to update Pottage in private.
Then they head to Hexer Hellaina’s, to report to her. She pays them well for the information (in spell salt), and buys the black glass they got from the broken salt circle around the burial grounds (last game session). That she pays for with silver. Hellaina promises to update the Town Council.
Later, the Town Council wants to see the PCs, and confirms what Hellaina told them. In addition to Tidegate’s other issues, the council tells the PCs it’s been falling below freezing already, months before the norm, and hard freezes are expected in the next few days. The entire fall crops are in danger of being lost, and only having farmers putting out torches all night, every night, may keep that from happening.
With all this, the Tidesgate Council is spread impossibly thin by the combination of early freezes and hungry sailors. They are called on to watch the docks, keep fights from breaking out, and enforce usually-ignored laws on hoarding and cornering markets. The PCs offer to help, and the Council asks them to go to Southmount Farms, 2 days south beyond the God-Knuckle Hills. The farm is normally reliable in regular fortnightly deliveries, and now they are 4 days late. The Council sent Briarbrow Hooffoot (a cousin of Holly’s) to check it out, and he has not returned yet.
Southmount is run by the Braddoc family, who are regular suppliers of the Smoke Pine Taven, old friends of Morgan’s father and Averill’s family. They make “the Clear,” a very high ABV liquid that tastes like stale fire, which Nana Cutthroat often uses to add kick to drinks she has watered down, so people don’t realize how little of the original booze is left in the version for sale.
The PCs head out south the next day. They discuss their concern about things getting worse in town, especially if panic sets in about a lack of food, or folks sell too much of their emergency reserves and then the fall harvest falls.
As they enter the God-Knuckle Hills, they come across 5 shambler zombies, caught on a hill surrounded by a flash flood river from the heavy rains in previous weeks. They identify one of them as a farmhand at Southmount. The shamblers seem to be constantly trying to cough up something (like a hairball). The PCs jump the rushing creek and destroy the 5 shamblers. They also conclude that these are created intentionally with necromancy, not spontaneous undead that sometimes rise. The bodies seem diseased. The heroes burn them, making sure they do so in a hollow that will keep the ashed from running into the local water supply.
End Session 3.
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Now On Patreon: Simple Carousing Rules
It’s common in adventure fiction for characters to need to take a break or blow off some steam. Whether that’s a night of drinking, time spent on a beach, or a monthlong retreat for meditation among flowers (depending on the setting and characters), such time away from the grind of adventuring and danger often leaves characters better-prepared for the next major hazard. In the real world, people also often need time to get away and recharge their mental and physical batteries, and if such a break goes well can come back from it more focused, efficient, and productive.
Tabletop roleplaying games often don’t do a good job of the boost that can be gained from relaxing and having a good time. And while some GMs and players may enjoy playing through heroes spending their money on parties and luxuries, making such activities their own reward, for other groups it’s a failing that anyone who doesn’t need to spend downtime crafting, learning, training, or plotting has nothing they can do that might have a game mechanical effect.
(Art by Helen Trupak)
So, over on my Patreon I wrote some simple system-agnostic rules to allow characters who have a good time to potentially benefit from doing so. I’m making all my Thursday blog posts Patreon-exclusive, because I need to boost my income to keep writing these posts. However, once my Patreon funding level hits $1,000/month, I’ll go back to posting my Thursday posts free for all to see here, AND I’ll create and maintain an index page of all my PF2 articles for Patrons, so they can easily access all my online PF2 content!
Practical Pastiche: Modern News Organizations
“Practical pastiche” is a new series I’ll be expanding from time to time, offering drop-in names you can use in your home ttRPG campaigns to replace real-world organizations, places, groups, and anything else you might want to use in a fictional world without the baggage of using real-world elements.
MODERN NEWS ORGANIZATIONS
Whoever controls the news has massive influence over public opinion and understanding of current events. The news has always been one way the rich and powerful controlled the narrative of the world, but in the modern era the willingness to place dogma over truth. Some blame the creation of 24-hour news networks, others the move to make money off internet news through ads (which encourages clickbait titles and engagement-at-any-cost editorial decisions), while others feel the fix has always been in and modern awareness of it is an inevitable result of greater access to information.
While real-world new organizations served as inspiration for some of these entirely-fictional sites, these are presented not as efforts to accurately characterize any actual business or journalistic endeavor, but to offer a range of fictional news media that cover a narratively useful range of options. Whether you need someone on FAQS News to constantly spin everything a superhero does to make them seem villainous, an intrepid ANZIS reporter to give constant updates of a local war, or have monster hunters discover a surprising amount of fiction covered by Looky-Loo sites has real supernatural information, these organizations can act as background or major plot points for any modern ttRPG setting.
(Art by Alex White)
ANZIS: “Australia/New Zealand Information Services,” a government funded, theoretically-independent worldwide news service that’s been in place since WWI. Has 24 radio news feeds and web information, a wire service local news agencies often subscribe to for access to international news stories, a reputation for asking hard questions, and though underfunded its funding is not dependent on advertising or sponsors to pay the bills.
Broadcaste: The largest news organization in the world, though a typical person may only be aware they sell internet and cable television packages. But they are also the owners of NBS (National Broadcast Service), NBS News, MSNBS News, CNBS, and Cloud One news channels and services. Some of their channels have a firmly liberal bent, while others sew more conservative, suggesting those biases are intentional and cynical efforts to attract all possible markets.
The Boston Lantern: One of the last Great Newspapers, though most people read it through online subscriptions. Still operates out of the Lantern Building, built in 1919, though they now occupy less than 1/10th of the floors, and others are rented out as office or storage space or vacant.
FAQS News: “Frequently Asked Questions News Networks,” the mouthpiece of a conservative billionaire, FAQS is famous both of often reporting conspiracy questions while claiming they are “just asking questions,” and for being classified as entertainment rather than journalism in some countries.
GNN: “Global News Network,” one of the earlier 24-hour, worldwide cable news networks. Still among the most respected, though extremists often call it “fake news” when they don’t like what it has to say.
Looky-Loo: A media company that runs dozens of specialized topical news websites, such as 1138 (Fantasy and Scifi entertainment news, including comics, movies, novels, ttRPGs, and television), Clutch (racing and vehicle news), Lilith’s Pen (women’s issues), Silver Scream (horror stories, mostly movies & TV), Staydium (sports-news), Smackhead (stories of people being stupid and the oft-humorous consequences of their actions), and Vertical Slice (video game news). The quality of both journalism and writing varies wildly, but the people covering the topics are usually also true fans of the things they report on.
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Now On Patreon: Gamifying Hangovers
Hey, it’s right between two holidays that often involve a lot of drinking, and that got me thinking.
It’s pretty common for ttRPG adventurers to overindulge, either as part of some greater scheme, or because they live work-hard/play-hard lives. This can naturally lead to having a hangover later. But few games have any rules for hangovers, and sometimes such rules can enrich the impact of the fictional poor choices, consequences of taking a risk, or narrative of player character’s lives.
So, how do you make game rules for a hangover? Well, let’s look at the main causes of a hangover. Here we are looking specifically at the impact of alcohol on humans, but if you run a world where fairies get drunk on buttermilk, or skesilik who invoke blood-frenzy for too long are hungover with “crusteye” the next day, you can extend these real-world concepts to fictional physiology.
So I wrote an article over on my Patreon looking at the real-world causes of hangovers, and how a GM might adapt the effect to a ttRPG rueset. This content (and all Tuesday and Thursday posts) is currently exclusive to my Patreon. When we raise my Patreon to $1,500/month, I’ll go back to making all my weekly posts double posts here and on my blog. (And at 1,000/month, I’ll go back to including Thursday posts here on the free blog.)
At the $1,500 goal, I’ll also create and maintain Starfinder and 5e article Index Pages for my Patrons, with links to all my 5e and Starfinder blog and Patreon content.