Monday, December 29, 2014

RPGaDay #29 Most Memorable Encounter

Most Memorable Encounter?  Great question for the noob, but after 25 years I've forgotten encounters greater than the sum of some players entire experiences.  Where to begin?

How about my playtest of the Talislanta game I was going to run at Lehicon back in '91.  My friend Charles was running Draxx the Saurud, an oversized, super-strong, low intelligence reptilian race that could be a PC in the 2nd Edition.  In hindsight he ran it like a fantasy version of a Ram Python from Battlelords of the 23rd Century.  At one point, they discovered the back end of a one-way secret door.  At some point, Draxx got his hand stuck the the door trying to open it the wrong way, and in his panic, he ripped the door away.  I always thought that was ridiculously impressive.

The time in our Hackmaster campaign when Mutumbo inadvertantly killed a party member by training like Rocky?

My first Risus-IOU game that involved a Funnelcake Mecha and Yoda fighting Snake Gandhi on the top of a Ferris Wheel?

The Return of Echellon?

I guess the winner would have to be It's a Wonderful Reunion from my AD&D "College Game."

The advantage of being a hybrid college student who stayed at the dorms, had a car, and lived less than a half-hour from campus was that I could cultivate my new group of gaming friends while staying in contact with my old friends "back home."   The College Game was the most ambitious campaign I have ever done, just in the sheer scope of the campaign, the number of players involved, and the logistics of a rolling cast of characters.

The Spring semester was coming to an end, and the number of players who would not be able to meet to game almost put the campaign on Summer hiatus.  But I had an idea.

First thing, I had all the characters whose players were avaible get teleported to Talislanta.

Not just the people, but the entire inn they were staying at. Over the next three months Ashe, our half-elf ranger, Rolf, the barbarian from the plains of Galmar, Norm Dingleberry, dwarf fighter, and a few others were caught in a series of quests to obtain the materials necessary to recreate the teleport spell.

Back in the Kingdom of Crosedes, I really had the remaining PCs split up. Party mage Mellandria had become a Baronial Sorceress in some far-flung corner of the Kingdom, Velandro the cleric was setting up a school for wayward kobolds, and one by one, others left until it was essentially down to Talis Makolin, Echellon the Cleric, and the retinue of NPCs.

Returning to their headquarters in the Barony of Eding, Talis and Echellon were thrust into the public eye due to a series of natural disasters, baronial abdications, and a haphazard attempt by the “Dread Lord” of Crosedes to usurp power. By the fall of that year, the duo was left near penniless from saving the barony from monsters, disasters, and starvation, and the moneylender came calling.

When the Chateau D’Echellon was built (see the Return of Echellon above), his manservant Carthon made tidy sum selling livestock to purchase the property but between the cost and day to day expenses, he had taken out a decent sized loan with a reputable man, Nebuchadnezzar Tinpenny. With the doom and gloom in the barony, Tinpenny was executing a clause in the loan requiring payment in full for the remainder of the loan. I left Hoyce and Steve (Talis and Echellon’s players) in a funk as I left for the semester and started the Summer game without them.

For the triumphant return to gaming, I announced the first game of the Fall semester would be the night of move-in. The group had not communicated between each other, so I took full advantage of the dorm basement and separated each group, brought some props, and started It’s a Wonderful Reunion…

World of Georic, Continent of Talaishia, Kingdom of Crosedes, Barony of Eding, Chateau d’Echellon...
The month of Decdec in the year 1061 – Somewhere around the Guyan holiday of Yule….

· The Chateau was quiet and cold. Most of the furniture and accoutrements had been given away to people worse of, destroyed in the chaos, or sold off to afford supplies. Talis, Echellon, his manservant Carthon, and Dew, the heavyset nursemaid/servant sat quietly around the small fire in the fireplace, overcome with a depression that a dinner of mashed up corn dodgers couldn’t solve. Any day now, Mr Tinpenny would return from Hydincal and seize the estate, and god only knew how many other townsfolk had a feel his greedy wrath from similar arrangements. Even their intelligent wolf, Pathfinder, curled up in the corner in a defeated pose.

· Then the door opened to young Timmy, an orphan adopted by the party and (Echellon in particular). His little nine-year old frame struggled with a fair-sized evergreen tree that he had cut down himself. “It’s Yule!” the young boy cried out an infectious enthusiasm, as even our despondent heroes could not argue with him (much) and found themselves hanging mistletoe garland and fetching a few more logs for the fire. Traditional songs were sung and Dew went into the kitchen to whip up something with the remaining foodstuffs, and a collection of cheap liquor Talis had squirrelled away. Despite their odd make-up, this was the closest many of them had felt to a family in a long time.

· A knock at the front door (and the basement door of the dorm) Mellandria returned for the holidays. She came bearing gifts, some more food for the occasion, and some big questions as to what happened in town, where everyone was, etc. They barely scratched the surface of the last few months (much less the moneychanger) when there was …

· Another knock at the door. This time it was noble Velandro, Cleric of Akana, Defender of Goodness and Light, and Protector of Kobolds, Small and Smaller. With him was his trusty kobold sidekick, Dag, Dag’s wife, and their two wee ones. All came bearing gifts for Yule, and the scampering of Timmy and the kobold kids turned the growing chaos into a fever pitch.

· The next knock at the door was barely audible. It was some of the nearby villagers who spotted the numerous arrivals up the estate’s road and wanted to be friendly (and nosey) neighbors, sharing what little they had left with the party.

· The subsequent knock brought an even greater cheer than others. Ashe, the half-elf ranger and one or two others who “disappeared” in Hydincal months before, finally came back. He barely got out the story of travelling to Talislanta when…

· The door burst open with other members of the village, merchants, peasants, and tradesmen alike, all getting word of some celebration at the Chateau and wishing to share their gratitude to Talis and Echellon. Cups were raised for toasts, food was being prepared, carols sung, and few people brought their instruments to form an impromptu band. 

· The holiday cheer could only be subdued by the next knock at the door. Upon opening it, they found the snow covered body of Rolf Wolfsblood, barbarian warrior. In the teleport back to Georic, he had become separated from Ashe and the rest of the Talislanta party and trudged back to Eding with little winter clothing. Blankets, warm drinks, and a spot right by the fire were afforded to him. They did notice some unusual facial tattoos (see above pic) had been begun but not finished.

· Then Mister Tinpenny arrived, complete with a squad of royal soliders to complete the transaction and seize the land. Despite all the goodwill and cheer in the home, the villagers could barely scrape together a handful of silver, and the Talislanta party had lost a good portion of their treasure during the teleport. What they had with them wasn’t nearly enough, and Tinpenny wasn’t interested it strange magical artifacts from other worlds. All was lost.

· Just then came a small knock at the door. Outside was everyone’s favorite nose-picking, low intelligence dwarf, Norm Dingleberry. He too had gotten lost upon return from Talislanta, but upon his pony (My Lyl)  was the chest of gold that everyone feared lost. That, and a pile of jewels beneath the gold were more than enough to pay Tinpenny and sent him packing. The soliders were invited to stay and celebrate with them.

· As if there couldn’t be any other appearances that night, there was (surpsrise!) another knock at the door. This time a royal scribe, escorted by a five knights on heavy horse. He had a formal proclamation from the king. A new Baron had been named by King Celowin…. Echellon D’Eding!!!!

· As the players were finally reunited as the characters were, there was a tremendous amount of cheering and glad tidings among all. But there was one more knock at the door in-game. Talis opened it and was met by a kobold Mariachi band, a foot of snow on their sombreros, playing Feliz Navidad at the top of their little lungs. Sure it was a bit anachronistic, but I my friend (and Rolf’s player) Phil draw a picture of the band that fit the mood almost as perfectly as it closed the scene.

Sure, it was corny, it was sentimental, and it was railroad-y as hell, but it reunited the group, rewarded them for their selflessness, and made the group attached all the NPCs encountered (save Tinpenny).

I never made stats for the one-time appearance of the Mariachi band (I did have one sub-species of kobold with Spanish accents), but it looks like somebody finally did it.

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