Saturday, May 26, 2012

Duchy of St. Cuthbert Chapter 1: Open Playtest

Our Pathfinder game was a no go, due to no shows.  But I still had 3 players and another player was interested.  4 is a game, so off we went.

The Cast:
Matthias Doomgrinder, 1st Level Elven Fighter (basically mixed and matched the Dwarven Fighter & Elven Wizard).

Braun Ironfall, 1st Level Priest of Moradin from the nearby Thard Harr Seminary.

Wilhem "Wilm"  Lotuseater, 1st Level Elven Wizard from the nearby magical College of Exeter.

Esmeralda "Esme" Toomy, 1st Level Halfling Rogue Thief.

•  A monster has been rampaging through the Duchy of St. Albus Cuthbert for several weeks.  Four heads of cattle have been found mutilated, one is still missing, nearly a week ago, Old Man Ballard was found half-eaten outside his homestead, he lived alone.  Then, 4 days ago, young Annabell McCaul was found ripped apart as well.  Apparently she'd been out seeing Master Josiah Martin, well past bed time.

•  Duchess Katarina Malifaux (yeah there is a connection to Primeval there) has offered a prize of 40 Gold to kill this monster.  Her court sage, Verilous the Wise, describes the monster as a basilisk.

•  Matthias, Braun, Wilhem, and Esmeralda are following it's tracks and looking for the missing cow.  They've entered the Wraithwood and are pursuing it along a well worn trail in mid-afternoon.  Esme has been promised 4 home cooked meals by Mrs. Gorton for finding her husband's cow.  The whole group was weary of the Wraithwood because of the legend of the Green Wraith.

•  Matthias smells something rotten off the trail and tells the group to hold up.  As he goes to  investigate, Braun and Wilm hear something larging moving in the canopy of leaves above them.  Braun peers into the dense foliage, finding nothing, but Wilm casts a Light spell, illuminating a large web and a giant spider stalking them.

•  The trio begin to attack it and call to Matthias for help.  Braun is webbed, but Esmeralda frees him, just as the spider pounces on them.  Matthias charges is and the spider is quickly destroyed.  Esme removes it's venom sacs to later use.

•  Esme has a Seer's Pouch and uses it on some very suspicious tracks they find close by.  The Pouch reveals it is an ember drake they are hunting, not a basilisk.  This is not a surprise to Wilm.

•  Matthias takes them to the remains of the cow, which he discovered was the source of the smell.  Based on the amount of the corpse that's been eaten and the number of tracks moving back and forth along a nearby game trail, they feel the drake might return for some easy food.  Esme decides they should set a trap and Wilm and Matthias give her some help.

•  The trap is a large branch they bend back with 8 sharp spikes, coated in giant spider venom.  Matthias will activate the trap, if the drake returns.  They also move the spider's corpse near the remains of the cow and open up its guts.

•  Just before sunset, the drake cautiously draws closer, enticed by the smell of spider guts.  It fails to notice the lurking group and is hit hard by the trap and quickly slaughtered by the quartet.

•  Wilm realizes the tail is valuable for material components and some research he has read let him know the heart and back left paw have value as well.

•  Braun informs them that ember drakes are not natural predators.  That like a basilisk, they are created from a normal egg, in this case a duck's egg.  The process takes nearly 2 years and is a profane ceremony practiced by cults of Nilat the Corrupter.  This drake is not newborn, so he estimates the cult that created may have been active in the area for over a decade.  The group debates about wether the monster escaped are was set loose on the Duchy.

•  The quartet decides to head out of the Woods before it gets darker and set off to see the Duchess of St. Albus Cuthbert soon after first light.

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I like the current version of the rules, very much.  Braun's player was brand new to DnD, Matthias' player is 11, and Esmeralda's player is 8.  It was simple to explain and fast to get moving.  Reading about the rules for Advantage and Disadvantage had me uncertain, but in actual play worked well.  Fights were quick and deadly, but it is low level DnD...although not as deadly as 0 through 2nd Edition.  I can't wait until we get more options to use.
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