For this year's International Table-Top Day, we at PG GAMES decided to run our first ever published work, THE BARON OF BLOOD for a group of friends who have had a gaming drought recently.
The idea was to spend a few hours, tromping through the Borderlands, but boy, were we wrong. Three hours of planned game-play grew and grew and players were added and something close to nine hours later we called it a night, nowhere near completion. Though, we did leave off on something of a cliffhanger.
The game began, in medias res, with the player characters arriving on the border of the Borderlands, at the King's Gate. They all had their reasons for travelling from the safety of the Imperial City, and these differing goals led to some great teamwork and unity, as well as conflict. These characters were:
- BEAR the Beastmaster and Sunflower the Wolf Cub
- Bear sought to discover the source of the taint in the Borderlands. Something was twisting nature and he was determined to discover it. He was accompanied by a young wolf cub whom he rescued from certain death at the hands of a hungry bear.
- Mechanically, Bear was a combination of some of the moves and ideals of the Druid and the Ranger.
- ERIS the Inquisitor of the Cult of Athena
- Eris sought to teach, by force if necessary, the edicts of Athena to the Borderlands. She would convert the heathans in the lands and keep them on the path of the righteous. Eris, as Inquistor of Athena, did not believe in mercy to heretics or criminals.
- Mechanically, Eris was a combination of the Paladin and Cleric.
- BRANT the Firebrand
- Brant, in its alchemical and sorcerous tower in the Imperial City, felt great power residing in the Borderlands. It did some research and discovered myth and legend about an ancient amulet, said to originate from the region, The Talisman of Arubis, which would allow Brant to better attune itself with the fire that resides in all of us. (And summon meteors.)
- Mechanically, Brant is a very fire focused Wizard.
We made use of the character portraits created by Brennan Reece for Dungeon World to great effect. Each player chose one for themselves and we propped them up with some binder clips. It gave everyone a face to associate to the other character's names, which each player wore on a temporary name tag. It helped everyone stay in character and use character names instead of player names.
As another tool, we used our very own PG GAMES Deck of Many Things, which we've previously discussed and previewed at this very blog before. Whenever a player rolled a 6 or less (a Miss in DW terms) they had an option, they could take the wrath of the DM or the chance of the Deck. Those familiar with the Deck know that it holds both good and bad things within. So as not to break the game, we used the Deck and it's traditional card interpretations only as influence and let both the card and the context leading to the draw better inform our actions.
If we're being honest here, almost everyone chose the Deck. And rightfully so. It led to some hilarious interactions. One of which was the Firebrand attempting to cause a distraction by performing charismatic street magic. The PC attempted to cast the spell "Prestidigitation" but it went horribly awry, they rolled a Miss and drew from the Deck, getting Flames. Given the character, this was incredibly appropriate and we ruled that the PC did indeed gain the enmity of his foes, now the town guard, as the spell instead was miscast and turned into a fiery blast, destroying a member of the audience.
In additional to the Deck, and character portraits, we also made use of the Swords & Wizardry White Box, while it has some great roll-able charts in the back for both spells and magical gear found in the wilds. All told, S&W and DW work almost flawlessly together, with no real need for conversion. We rolled up and the PCs discovered an Amulet of Diminuation which activated with the word "Huzzah!", a Scroll of Read Languages, a vial of Dust of Disappearance, and lastly a Magical Healing Potion.
The party of three was eventually joined by two other PCs, and they are as follows:
- LORD NOH BAEL the Noble, who clearly has originally named.
- Lord Bael the lesser was sent by his father to the Borderlands to secure a fishing settlement, as the Imperial City Bael's are known for their fisheries and transportation businesses and endeavors. Once he heard of the plight of the other areas of the Borderlands, Noh agreed to help the other adventurers who came to his fishing village.
- Mechanically he was a Fighter with a bit of Paladin thrown in for good measure.
- LIEUTENANT "Hildy" HILDEBRAND the military Scout
- Hildy was a former scout in the Imperial Armies who had ventured into the Borderlands to find her missing half-sister. She met the party, now including Noh, as they ventured into the Forgotten Forest and warned them of the dangers within. Hildy immediately recognized Noh, whom she had served under in one of the Border Wars. She had saved his life in one such conflict.
- Mechanically Hildy was a combination of Ranger and Thief.
Throughout these nine (ten?) hours, the party met the titular Baron, ran afoul of him, ventured into the Forgotten Forests and claimed lost relics and treasures, made enemies of the people of Weston, attempted to assassinate the Baron before he fled and reduced Weston to rubble, fought a troll, became lost in the Atlas Mountains, and invaded the brigands of Brigands Keep.
All of this insanity culminated in a show down on Troll Bridge between Lord Noh Bael and Inquisitor Eris, as a former-bandit agreed to guide the party and a group of roughly 25 kidnapped people through the maze-like tunnels under the Atlas Mountains in exchange for mercy and freedom. Eris tolerated this up to the moment that the 25 villagers were free of the mountains and slay him before everyone. "Athena does not grant mercy to criminals," she spat.
Hildy was in shock, as Fergy had sworn his loyalty to her for sparing his life. Lord Noh struggled with his desire to do the right thing and defend those in his care. He challenged Eris on the bridge and the two clashed. The entire room was still and we were all in shock. Eris' player only played good characters, and we watched her descent to pure evil. The best evil. The evil that things that it is doing the right thing. We watched our very own Anakin Skywalker be born.
It. Was. Amazing.
Needless to say, we had a blast with International Table-Top Day, and hope each and every one of you did as well. Our group from Saturday night is planning to get together again, as there is still the Baron to contend to.