Monday, June 5, 2017

Monday Recap: The Adventurer's Guide to Luskan

Don't panic!
We had another session for Storm King's Thunder this week! I love me some city games. The players are never at a lack of options, which means they get to explore their characters and the world!

Cait wasn't feeling too well this week, so she popped in occasionally to let us know what Mialee was up to. Hopefully by the next time we play, she'll be back in the game!

Storm King's Thunder: The Adventurer's Guide to Luskan


Cast of Characters
Jon: Dungeon Master
Megan: Cecelia Sondheim, human bard, a Harper hoping for a bright future!
Cody: Rolen Dundragon, half-elf Warlock of the Archfey, a scoundrel with a heart of gold
Cait: Mialee Galanodel, elf ranger, from a distant land and doesn't have personal space boundaries
Shannon: Kye Bosunen, human Purple Dragon Knight, carries a big sword and his honor

When we last left the group, they had begun to explore Luskan. Kye had just discovered he was holding a cursed stone, Mialee was about to help a young boy find his brother (who had been stolen by fey), and Rolen and Cecelia had thawed out their Kobold friend and learned his name.

Mialee (since her player was absent for this adventure) was going around town, collecting flowers and preparing for Greengrass. Greengrass, a spring festival of harvest and growth, was Mialee's very favorite holiday of the year, mostly because it was perfectly fine to make out with whoever you wanted to during the festival.

Back at the tavern, the Kobold, named Kyroon (Rooney for short), had agreed to join the group for the time being, partially because being a Kobold in a human city was a dangerous situation. He refused to leave the safety of their tavern bedroom. Rolen attempted to make a mask to disguise him, but they needed some halfing-sized robes to hide his Kobold-esque form.

Cecelia and Morgana (Rolen's fey cat familiar) went down to the market and purchased some short robes for Rooney. However, on their way back, a group of muggers accosted them and demanded she pay them 50 gold. Cecelia hummed a gentle refrain to cast Calm Emotions, hoping to defuse the situation. Unfortunately, the muggers resisted her charm, and increased the "toll" based on her status as a spellcaster.


http://deivcalviz.deviantart.com/art/Seaquen-199765911
It's not a great place to be
Just as the thugs began to pull out their weapons to take Cecelia's gold by force, Kye happened to walk by, heading back to the tavern they were staying at. Sensing danger, he drew his sword and attacked one of the thugs!

Meanwhile, Morgana let Rolen know what was happening, and he crawled out the upper-level window onto the rooftops. Jumping from roof to roof, he made his way towards the battle, arriving just in time for Kye to drop the first thug.

One of the other thugs ran away, disappearing into a crowd. The last mugger tried to drag his wounded friend away from the fight, but Rolen leapt down and cast Hold Person on him, paralyzing the vagrant.

A crowd had gathered around them, and Cecelia wanted to take the muggers back to their room at the inn to get more information from them. Rolen used his enchanted belt to create a Fog Cloud, then cast Invisibility on the muggers. Kye slung both of them over his shoulders and they made their way back through the crowd to the tavern.

Once there, Cecelia stabilized the wounded mugger and Rolen un-paralyzed the other. Cecelia began to scold them, saying that if they had only asked nicely, she might've given them the gold. She went on for several minutes before Rolen stepped in and began to get some actual information from their captives.

Rolen, with no qualms about being nice, held his snake staff of Hyrsam close to the mugger's face and not-so-subtly let him know what would happen if he didn't cooperate. The thug gave in, willing to tell them whatever they wanted. He introduced himself as Ben.


https://www.artstation.com/artist/taewonhwang
A city like Luskan lives or dies by its ships
Ben informed the group that he was a member of Ship Rethnor, a faction in Luskan. They were the smallest and poorest of the ships, delegated to mundane tasks like guard work. To supplement their livelihood, they also ran under-the-table "tolls" on out-of-town citizens. Ben said that he'd willingly take them to the Rethnor headquarters, where their leader Hartouchen Rethnor would help them with whatever they needed.

Rolen had recently had an idea for a luxury sailing ship where the passengers could drink ale and enjoy the sights. He asked Ben if Hartouchen might be interested in forming a business partnership. Ben didn't know, and was bad enough at math that Rolen convinced him it was a great investment.

Around this time, the other Rethnor crew member woke up, and introduced himself as Jerry. Jerry asked if he could go home. The group decided this was okay, but not before Cecelia gave him another piece of her mind. They sent Jerry on his way, with Morgana discreetly following him. Jerry went straight to the Rethnor headquarters, which worried the group.

At this point, I want to bring up a mechanic I'm using (that was once again inspired by the Angry GM) to give the group's visit to Luskan a bit more excitement. Every time the group takes an action in the city (something major, not a six-second turn), I add a die to my "Danger Dice Pool". If they do something normal, it's just a d8. However, illegal things merit a d6, and things that incur the ire of the Ships of Luskan result in a d4.

After each action, I roll the entire dice pool. If any of the dice come up on a 1, something bad happens. The bad thing can be anything, but overall they are events that will result in the players losing time, resources, or reputation. The mugging was one such event. If things get too hairy, there could be some major consequences here. Luskan is a dangerous city.

The reason I bring this up now is because during this scene, I rolled a "1", but the bad thing that happened wasn't something the characters would have knowledge of. So I just told the players a bad thing happened, and they started to fret. You might think this is metagaming - well yeah, it is metagaming. I'm using the metagame to make the players feel like Luskan is a dangerous place, which is exactly how they should feel.

With Jerry gone and Ben ready to lead the party around town, Kye spoke to Rolen about his discovery on the rock: the strange metal-inlaid rock they had found was cursed, and Kye needed an Identify spell to find out what the curse was. Rolen was able to cast the spell, but the rock resisted some of its power, as cursed items often do. All they could tell is that they would need a powerful Remove Curse spell to break the effect.

A small, humble, church, about par for the course in this town
They had Ben lead them to a church, which was a small and somewhat ramshackle building devoted to the Morninglord Lathander. A kindly priest greeted them, but sadly informed the group that there was likely no cleric in town that could cast such a powerful spell. However, the Arcane Brotherhood might have a caster of such power.

Unfortunately, the Arcane Brotherhood was kind of an exclusive club, according to Ben. You had to be a member to even talk to the more powerful wizards. The group decided to go check out the Rethnor headquarters instead, in hopes that High Captain Hartouchen Rethnor would be able to provide assistance.

They went to the Rethnor HQ, which looked like a fairly innocuous building, but was decorated with many fishing trophies and various sailing paraphernalia inside. Their leader, Hartouchen, was sitting at a small table. Jerry and the other mugger were talking to him. The group approached, causing Hartouchen to rise.

Although Hartouchen wasn't able to help them with Kye's curse problem, he was able to give them some information on the other ships. Rolen also pitched his luxury ale ship idea again, but Hartouchen had good business sense and turned down the idea.

As they left, dejected, Kye noticed the cursed rock had disappeared (this was another bad thing happening). At the same time, the nature of the curse was revealed to him: any boat or ship he was on would spring leaks. Kye, being from a shipbuilding family, was devastated. Rolen found it hilarious.

Fortunately, every curse has a mundane way to break it (in my world, anyway) and this was also revealed to Kye. To break the curse, Kye could get in a shipwreck.

This curse doesn't rock
Cecelia, upon learning this, immediately dragged Kye down to the docks of Luskan, where she purchased two rowboats. She placed Kye in one, and herself in the other. Then, while Rolen watched and laughed, they tried to crash their boats into each other. Unfortunately, they weren't able to get much speed before Kye's boat sank, and the hulls simply bounced off each other.

As they paddled back to shore (in Cecelia's quickly-sinking boat), Rolen found an old fisherman and began to pitch his business ideas to the man. The fisherman, whose name was Bartholomew Addison, seemed to talk at length about whatever he found appealing. Rolen found this hilarious. He gave up on his business ideas and tried to get Bartholomew to work as a stand-up comedian, with Rolen as his agent. Bartholomew said he'd think about it.

With Kye's curse unbroken and their business prospects low, the group started to head towards the magistrate's offices, where they hoped they could find work of some sort. They wanted to buy or influence their way into a position that the Arcane Brotherhood would notice. However, in a turn of good luck, they happened to pass a group of wizards from the Brotherhood on their way.

Though these seemed to be different wizards than the ones Rolen had bought drinks for the previous night, they were still curious about his powers as a Warlock, and the group got their attention. The Arcane Brother's ears perked up even more when they described their group as "Giant Slayers". The collective of wizards asked the group to accompany them.

They travelled through the city, crossing a finely made bridge to reach Closeguard Island, the headquarters of Ship Kurth. The Brothers made them wait here, and left the group to go speak to their fellow wizards. Kye and Cecelia chatted up a Kurth guard who was very cute but also suffering from some sort of cold.

The group heard the sound of screams coming from Cutlass island, where the Hostower of the Arcane stretched into the sky like a grotesque hand. Looking up, they saw wizards pouring onto the battlements of the towers, peeking out windows, to look at a massive castle floating on a cloud above them. After a brief moment of stillness, boulders began to fly out of the castle and strike the tower.

In retaliation, a swarm of Fireball spells flew from the Hostower. One of the wizards who had brought them to the island ran towards them, yelling "It's as we predicted! A Giant attack!" The group ran forward to fight the Giants, who were Feather Fall-ing out of the sky, as in the distance they heard Mialee's battle cry.

Now that's a nice wizard tower
We stopped there for the night. I love this type of game, where the group can really explore and flex their interaction abilities. Everyone had really good moments, and we got a lot accomplished. I'm sad Cait missed the game, but I'm glad she got some rest!

Next time we play, I'm expecting a lot to happen - there's still quite a few bad things left for the group to run into. Luskan is proving to be quite the adventure! I'm hoping they don't mind walking to the next city, once we get there - it will certainly be less exciting. However, hopefully with my updated wilderness danger levels, it won't be too annoying either.

Thanks for reading!

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