Deckenpuppel's Heroes of the Hinterlands

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Deckenpuppel's Heroes of the Hinterlands

Postby Deckenpuppel » Sun Dec 14, 2014 1:45 pm

Hi everyone,

So recently my new group had it's first session, and I've decided to sort of post summaries of what's happening here, both for all those who maybe are interested in that kind of thing, as well as myself to have something I can go back to in order to remind myself of what the group has been up to in the past.

We are playing by Pathfinder rules, but with heavily modified and constantly developing houserules, including P6 and an adaptation of the Blackfang Strain/Mana system. As the title implies, the campaign starts out and is supposed to focus on the Hinterlands, at least for the first big arc. Later, travels to other parts of Lordaeron may be possible. We are playing before Warcraft III, so should I ever think things are becoming too boring, I can always trigger the Scourge event *evil grin.*

Currently, the group consists of four heroes:

- a Half-Elven shaman that was raised by one of the Wildhammer clans
- a Human monk of the Holy Light
- a High-Elven Ranger
- a Gnomish rogue mage
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Re: Deckenpuppel's Heroes of the Hinterlands

Postby Big Mac » Tue Feb 17, 2015 1:16 am

Deckenpuppel wrote:So recently my new group had it's first session, and I've decided to sort of post summaries of what's happening here, both for all those who maybe are interested in that kind of thing, as well as myself to have something I can go back to in order to remind myself of what the group has been up to in the past.


Great! When do you start?

Deckenpuppel wrote:We are playing by Pathfinder rules, but with heavily modified and constantly developing houserules, including P6 and an adaptation of the Blackfang Strain/Mana system. As the title implies, the campaign starts out and is supposed to focus on the Hinterlands, at least for the first big arc. Later, travels to other parts of Lordaeron may be possible. We are playing before Warcraft III, so should I ever think things are becoming too boring, I can always trigger the Scourge event *evil grin.*


What's P6? I don't recall hearing about that before.

Is there a lot of history for the pre Warcraft III era or are you making up details for some areas?

Deckenpuppel wrote:Currently, the group consists of four heroes:

- a Half-Elven shaman that was raised by one of the Wildhammer clans
- a Human monk of the Holy Light
- a High-Elven Ranger
- a Gnomish rogue mage


Is there any chance your players will let you put up the details from their character sheets?
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Re: Deckenpuppel's Heroes of the Hinterlands

Postby Arrius Nideal » Fri Feb 20, 2015 7:14 pm

You're using the Blackfang variant? Did you check my post?

Please also consider to use my update http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=58&t=11749. It keeps roughly the same progression, but with the new formulas (Mana cost = 6 + spell level - 1/3 caster level; Mana Pool = Attribute + 1/2 caster level), it is far easier to track.

I encourage you to post summaries. I have an upcoming game as well, focused in Lordaeron proper about one year before Warcraft III, with a High Elf Mage, a Dwarf Tinker, and a Human Paladin.

I also utilize a pseudo-Pathfinder system, and have a heavy collection of houserules to simulate the RTS strategy scope of Warcraft III--mostly with updates to the Settlement Rules, Mass Combat, and an overhaul to the skill system.

Perhaps you could post your houserules so we could exchange ideas?
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Re: Deckenpuppel's Heroes of the Hinterlands

Postby Deckenpuppel » Mon Mar 02, 2015 7:00 pm

Big Mac wrote:Great! When do you start?


Actually, we had our first session a couple of days before my first post, but after the first session life kept getting in the way, so there wasn't really much to report, and I lost track of updating things here.

Big Mac wrote:What's P6? I don't recall hearing about that before.


Basically P6 means that players do not progress past lvl 6, but still get a feat for every x-thousand exp they earn beyond that point. I chose to do this because one of the most annoying things for me with D&D is to try and make sense of what characters of different levels actually represent in the game world. With only six levels, this becomes much easier. lvl 1 characters will be freshly trained, lvl 2 characters are somewhat seasoned troops/journeyman mages, lvl 3 characters will be elite troops and everything beyond that entering the realm of recognized heroes. Certainly, this raises other issues as far as the rules are concerned, and I explained right from the start that this campaign will include a lot of trying out different things and figuring things out as we go along.

I also added something like 'minor advances' between proper levels, providing the characters with things like 1 hp or 1 skill point and a trait (in Pathfinder something like minor feats) so that the players can develop their characters a bit more

Big Mac wrote:Is there a lot of history for the pre Warcraft III era or are you making up details for some areas?


There is some stuff, but the Hinterlands didn't really play a big part in the overall events during that time. Since I wanted to focus on the Hinterlands, I have no choice but to make things up. There will certainly be a lot of Forest Troll activity as we progress. The first adventure, however, is rather simple: Bickering Wildhammer Clans and the players right in the middle of it. A young dwarf from the Thundermantle Clan has gone missing, and his friends are suspecting members of another clan to be responsible, since the dwarf in question had recently humiliated that clan and abducted one of their unmarried women right from under their noses, something that I adapted from a highlander-themed fantasy novel that I read a while back. Tempers quickly rose high between the dwarves, and the group quickly found themselves right in the middle of an extensive brawl between various parties (another clan simply joined because they refused to be outdone). At first the characters tried to negotiate a peace and break things up, but a few unlucky roles eventually resulted in them getting to frustrated that one after another, they joined in the fight. It was actually quite hilarious.


Big Mac wrote:Is there any chance your players will let you put up the details from their character sheets?


I actually keep the sheets from all of my players because we always meet in the same spot anyways and some of them fear they would actually be prone to loosing their sheets *g*. I have to think about this, though. Any particular thing you'd be interested in?

Arrius Nideal wrote:You're using the Blackfang variant? Did you check my post?


Yes, I saw your post. Thank you for that. This was how I stumbled over blackfang in the first place. However, since I wanted to run a pathfinder based campaign and not focus so much on the WoWRpg, I pretty much ended up using a slightly adapted base version, as all the specific feats and class features do not really play a great role in the campaign so far. I also lowered the basic strain value, because I felt casters often feel rather weak and boring at the start, and with only 6 total levels, I don't see them becoming that much more powerful than the other characters anytime soon either (Spell progression is kind of tricky in that system, and I am not yet sure how to best adapt to that in blackfang). Also, there are no "free" powers of any kind any more. Everything magical a caster does now costs mana/adds up strain points. I am curious to see how this will play out.
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Re: Deckenpuppel's Heroes of the Hinterlands

Postby Arrius Nideal » Tue Mar 03, 2015 5:04 pm

I find it a strange choice to go with E6 when the existing game is so accommodating with epic levels. I don't disagree with you, mind: The game tends to break down (or at least slow down) at higher levels.

Well--the mana system is designed to function around 1-9 levels, but an easy fix is not increasing the mana pool: It's decreasing spell cost.
My base cost is 6 + Spell level - 1/3 caster level.
An altered cost would probably be 4 + spell level - 1/2 caster level.
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Re: Deckenpuppel's Heroes of the Hinterlands

Postby Deckenpuppel » Wed Mar 04, 2015 9:59 am

I think it doesn't make that much of a difference as far as epicness is concerned. More hit points, higher acs and abs and more damage does not really improve that much, and I really hate the thought of characters ever reaching the kind of level where they laugh about a group of trained soldiers coming at them. That is not epic in my book, it is ridiculous. What I have often seen done is that gms just tend to scale up the level of "regular soldiers" depending on the level of the group, so at first level your regular soldier is a level 1 warrior, but when they are level 10 the same role is suddenly filled by 5th level fighters. That is something I am trying to avoid. Using P6 is just a tryout to see how it will work out.

I went even a bit lower than you're suggesting, so at the moment a first level caster can cast a 1st level spell for 4 stain. Doubt it will turn into a problem in this campaign, since the mage of the group is focused more on mischief than on mayhem, but I will keep monitoring the issue.
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Re: Deckenpuppel's Heroes of the Hinterlands

Postby Deckenpuppel » Thu Mar 12, 2015 9:10 am

We just finished the first adventure the other day. Following a suspicious set of tracks that the group found between the tavern where the missing dwarf was last seen and his village, the group stumbled over a nasty band of gnolls and after dealing with them tracked down an owlbear/wildkin that was sleeping in front of a small cave. After dealing with the beast, the group entered the cave and at its very end, squeezed into a small gap in the wall, they finally located the missing Wildhammer dwarf, severely dehydrated but luckily still very much alive. Rushing back, the group arrived just in time to clear up the 'misunderstanding' between the clans, thus preventing a confrontation which might very well have ended in dwarves spilling dwarf blood. The Thundermantle thane was forced to formally apologize to the clan they had suspected of abducting their clansman, and things settled down, at least for the moment.
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Re: Deckenpuppel's Heroes of the Hinterlands

Postby Arrius Nideal » Sat Mar 14, 2015 9:00 pm

That's quite nice for an adventure. You don't often see peacemaking stories.

Are you playing this as a sandbox, or a scripted story?
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Re: Deckenpuppel's Heroes of the Hinterlands

Postby Deckenpuppel » Sat Mar 21, 2015 3:24 pm

The story is rather scripted. Of course, how things exactly play out depend on the characters, but I usually provide specific hooks/plots and throw the heroes into it. For example, if the heroes had not found the lost dwarf in time (or only recovered his body) they would have had a much harder time to stop the clans from clashing with one another, and if they had failed in that, the overall outcome of the adventure would naturally have been much more negative. I am not trying to make things too hard for them, but I am also not allowing my players to win no matter what.

Honestly, I have never really tried playing a sandbox campaign, but I feel my current players wouldn't be very well suited for that. They enjoy getting through the stories I set up for them, but so far they have shown very little initiative to take a direct hand in things or making suggestions what they would like to do next.
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Re: Deckenpuppel's Heroes of the Hinterlands

Postby Big Mac » Thu Apr 23, 2015 11:52 pm

Deckenpuppel wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Is there any chance your players will let you put up the details from their character sheets?


I actually keep the sheets from all of my players because we always meet in the same spot anyways and some of them fear they would actually be prone to loosing their sheets *g*. I have to think about this, though. Any particular thing you'd be interested in?


Mostly, I like to see character sheets of other players, in case they can be raided to be used as NPCs. :twisted:
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Re: Deckenpuppel's Heroes of the Hinterlands

Postby Big Mac » Thu Apr 23, 2015 11:54 pm

Deckenpuppel wrote:We just finished the first adventure the other day. Following a suspicious set of tracks that the group found between the tavern where the missing dwarf was last seen and his village, the group stumbled over a nasty band of gnolls and after dealing with them tracked down an owlbear/wildkin that was sleeping in front of a small cave. After dealing with the beast, the group entered the cave and at its very end, squeezed into a small gap in the wall, they finally located the missing Wildhammer dwarf, severely dehydrated but luckily still very much alive. Rushing back, the group arrived just in time to clear up the 'misunderstanding' between the clans, thus preventing a confrontation which might very well have ended in dwarves spilling dwarf blood. The Thundermantle thane was forced to formally apologize to the clan they had suspected of abducting their clansman, and things settled down, at least for the moment.


This sounds pretty interesting so far. It seems a bit like the start of a WoW MMO quest chain. :)
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Re: Deckenpuppel's Heroes of the Hinterlands

Postby Deckenpuppel » Sat May 09, 2015 3:33 pm

Do you have anything specific in mind? There is a lot of mmo content I have never seen for myself.

Anyways. We had another session a couple of weeks back. I started by using some connection npcs for whom I had my players submit ideas/wishes. Naturally, I had to tweak a few things in order to make things a little more interesting in some cases.

The monk of the group found himself at the local tavern, chatting with the barkeeper (a connection if his). The character is brewing beer at the local monastery. With regard to christian monks as well as Pandaren, I saw no reason why he shouldn't, and his "Lightbrew" or "Lichtenbreu" has already become something like an insider joke for the group. The barkeeper was pretty much just gossiping, and one piece of gossip concerned the son of a local merchant, who apparently stole a valuable piece of jewelry from his father's shop to give it to the woman he had fallen in love with. As it turned out, this woman was no other than the apprentice of the group's mage. As she is indeed a pretty girl, our monk left it at that for the time being, even if the barkeeper added the information that he had thought the merchant's son was smitten with the smith's daughter.

In the mage's alchemy shop, he flunked every role I granted him to notice the valuable necklace his apprentice was wearing (which again was a source of laughter at the table, especially when every other character spotted it instantly when the group met later). Eventually, the monk decided to pay the mage a visit and shared with him the rumor he had heard at the tavern, which spurred the mage into action. A little bit of lighthearted, comical investigation followed, the mage naturally also failing his roles for stealth when he tried and shadow this ostensible new lover of his dear apprentice. Things got a little more serious when the mage noticed the last fading traces of a spell lingering upon the merchant's son. As far as he is aware, his apprentice and himself are the only arcane spellcasters within the town of Norderpine. He spent the rest of the scene in very thick and theatrical denial, not wanting to believe that his treasured apprentice would be capable of such a thing (even though the character himself is not exactly a beacon of honesty) and trying to come up with explanations that didn't include his apprentice casting the spell.

Meanwhile, at the hunting lodge of the High Elves, the ranger of the group got into an archery contest with a fellow ranger. After winning it, she noticed that her wolf companion was missing, and went to look for him. She eventually found him in the woods, being padded by an unknown and mysterious human stranger. Surprised both by her wolf's unusually friendly reaction to the stranger, as well as by the fact that this person had managed to get this close to the rangers' hunting lodge without anyone noticing, the ranger approached the stranger, he promptly turned away and disappeared between the trees. When the ranger tried to follow, she was jumped, grappled, and knocked out by some poison or chemical that the stranger was using. She awoke about an hour later, completely unharmed. The stranger, however, was gone. -> This is a hook for a future adventure

The last little scenario dealt with the group’s shaman, and also was the main hook for the adventure. She, and most of the other shaman of the surrounding clans received a vision that dealt with the destruction of Aerie Peak as a symbol for the entire Hinterlands by some shadowy force or entity. Naturally, this concerned the shaman quite extensively, and so the character’s mentor called for a meeting in a sacred grove not far from the human town of Norderpine. With the appropriate amount of dwarven grumpy- and stubbornness, the gathering eventually agreed not only to dispatch an envoy to Aerie Peak, but also dispatch to group to seek the help of a water spirit called Adrippion that has helped the Wildhammer clans in the past. Located at the bottom of a huge waterfall, in an area known as the Pools of Clarity, the only problem was posed by a tribe of Murlocs who taken up residence right outside of the spirit’s cave several decades ago. Eventually it was decided that the characters were the best choice to handle this matter, even though not all shaman present agreed. One of them secretly arranged for his son to meet them on the way, to ensure the mission’s success (npc barbarian).

A couple of things happened on the journey (I am usually avoiding random encounters, since I feel they rarely add much to an adventure). First of all, the group was surprised by a herd of wild horses being chased by some griffons out for their lunch. Before the griffons could score, though, a massive horse broke through the trees, stormed onto the clearing that turned one of the griffons into a bloody pulp. That horse was Geignun der Herdwarder. I haven’t quite decided yet whether to make him the actual horse Ancient or just some really powerful magical animal. The players were quite cowed when I took the words demi-god into my mouth, which was a new experience for me. Haven’t had that before. It was kind of nice for a change.

The second thing was the npc barbarian catching up with them, talking a bit and eventually asking to join their party. So far, I don’t think anybody is suspecting him to have any kind of agenda. He seems to innocent and good-natured for that. Looking forward to their faces when they return next time we meet and find out that he is the son of one of the shaman from another clan. Thirdly, there was some remote Wildhammer farm, just some place for the group to rest up and gather a little bit of information about the Pools of Clarity. Last, but not least, on the next day, close to the pools, the group triggered an alarm spell bound into a shrunken head, and shortly thereafter they were attacked by a pack of charmed wolves. The first sign that maybe something else was going on at the pools.

Finally arriving at the pools, it did not take long until the group encountered the first group of Murloc guards. Neither of the groups attacked at first, though both were very distrustful of each other. Unfortunately, they were not able to communicate properly, and eventually the Murlocs decided to disarm the strangers and take them to their oracle and started throwing their nets. Part of the group wanted to allow the Murlocs to take them, but others didn’t and started to fight back, which then turned into an all-out confrontation in which the Murlocs were eventually vanquished. The group decided to pull back and rest up, before approaching the pools for a second time.

As the group moved through the pools toward the Murloc village, they started to notice that there was something wrong with the water. The magic users of the group determined the source of the pollution to be of magical nature. In the village, they saw that most of the Murlocs were actually suffering from some sort of sickness, leaving only the Oracle and a handful of able warriors left to oppose them. Again, the two parties approached each other wearily. Then the group’s mage cast a minor flame enchantment unto the monk’s fist. In that situation, I deemed it that the Murlocs interpreted that as a sufficiently hostile action to fear the worst and attack the group. The ensuing battle was fierce, especially since the group allowed itself to be engaged by the normal Murlocs and allowed the village’s oracle to move around freely and cast his spells, which did quite a lot of damage. Ultimately though, when his spells were depleted, the oracle and what little fighters he had left surrendered, surprising the group with the fact that the oracle was in fact able to speak common. Realizing that a diplomatic solution might have been possible after all, the group felt a bit bad about the whole affair, and helped the oracle in rescuing several of the warriors downed by them mere moments ago. The oracle told them that what was making them sick comes down with the waterfall that fed the pools, and has also poisoned the water spirit, turning it angry and aggressive.

Resting up again, the group decided to search for the source of the magical poison. Having a griffon mount at your disposal certainly came in handy when it came to searching and getting up the cliff. The group found a cavern right next to the waterfall. Rather than climbing, the group decided to drop one party member after another in front of the cave with the help of their griffon. The first member to be dropped before the cave was the gnome mage. Unfortunately for him, a dire troll suddenly came out of the cave and spotted him despite his best attempts to hide. Luckily for him, he monstrosity proved unable to resist his charm spell, and he was able to talk his way out of the situation. The group retreated to a smaller ledge further down the cliff and gathered there, after hearing what sounded like the dire troll’s master chiding his minion for its stupidity. When they were all finally gathered in front of the cave, the Elven ranger snuck in to see what exactly they were up against. As it turned out, it really just was the dire troll and another forest troll that was his master, conducting some barbaric ritual over a cauldron close to a small stream that also fed into the waterfall.

Where against the Murlocs, the group’s tactics wasn’t all that effective, against these two opponents, they dealt with these two quite masterfully. The encounter was designed so that the large dire troll would block the tunnel, preventing the heroes from reaching the (rather weak) shaman and therefore allowing him to harass them with a few first level spells as the heroes dealt with the dire troll. However, despite the dire troll’s rather good fortitude save (simply used pathfinder ogre stats for him), the group’s mage sheeped him (homebrew spell, much closer to the mmo version than to baleful polymorph), and the group quickly dispatched the shaman before surrounding the dire troll and wrestling it down. A few successful roles allowed the group to spent some of their own mana to reverse the Troll’s ritual to a certain degree, saving the remaining Murlocs and hopefully also appeasing the water spirit.

Entering the spirit’s sanctuary, the still pretty confused and angry spirit was soothed by the group’s shaman. Despite this, the spirit still asked for the heroes to prove their wisdom and worth before helping them. In the next room, the group found a well, and a stone tablet. As they approached, water began to drip onto the tablet, forming the following riddle:

More valued than gold, more precious than silk
Pouring like wine, flowing like milk
A count’s nightly feast, an offering of war
A pact is now sealed forever more

I was really torn up about this one at first. I am not very good at coming up with riddles, and so far I have avoided them for the most part. I took that one from a third party book and thought it was rather fitting for the background of the adventure. Also, I did not translate it, even though me and my players are not playing in English. There was also the problem of the reference with the “count’s nightly feast”, which probably does not make much sense in the WoW setting, but since riddles are more of a challenge to the players rather than their characters anyway, I thought maybe it would make things a little easier. As I said, I have avoided riddles so far, and was not sure how well they would do.

The answer to the riddle is blood of course, and the well is a wishing well, so the heroes had to drip some blood into the well and name/think their wish or ask their question and the well would then grant them a vision accordingly. As it is probably often the case, the group had pretty quickly mentioned all the necessary words and concepts, but simply did not manage to put the specific things together within the multitude of other ideas and choices that they had.

In the end, when the group was dripping blood into the well for the second time without asking for anything, I asked the players what their characters were thinking and feeling while they were doing this. The monk’s player told me that his character wanted to solve the riddle as badly as he did as this point, so I decided to give the monk a vision where he saw a wildhammer dwarf pour some of his blood into the well, saying the words ‘I wish’. After that, the rest of course understood what to do. The ranger asked whether the stranger from the forest was a threat, and she was given a vision of a cabin up in the mountains, where she saw the stranger, but also a young woman, and dark shadows slowly creeping towards them from all around. The mage asked to see who put a spell on the merchant’s son, and the vision showed him that it was indeed his apprentice. The shaman asked to learn more about the threat to Aerie Peak and the Hinterlands, and she was given another elaborate vision, in which she saw a dark storm rising in the east, as well as flashing images of what will turn out to be integral parts of the main villain’s ritual to try and bring the Loa Shadra into the world, as well as showing her the villain’s face and providing a name.

And that’s pretty much where we are at this point.
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