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A Red & Pleasant Land, Part 7: Blood sewers are the worst sewers

Falling behind on these campaign logs again. A couple sessions behind at this point, so probably a couple rapid posts of these before the events all leave my head. 

Prep Time 

The biggest bit of prep was my autogenerated campaign notebook. This was the first session after I got it delivered, so it was my first chance to use it. Honestly, that book alone feels like a whole ton of prep work already done. No matter where the players might wander, I now have landmarks and seeds of ideas immediately at the ready.

Another bit of prep, sketched up a random dungeon. Something flexible involving a sewer. Was really just me messing around with isometric dungeon mapping and trying to emulate the style of the interior map in A Red & Pleasant Land. I might post the dungeon up later.

Players


  • Gor Orben - Amazon, "She is Gor"
  • Jhovan the Wanderer - Alistair, seeker of cake recipes
  • Gruntruck - Just "Gruntruck"
  • Borus Bleeve - Borus the one-handed. Borus the hand collector
  • Tyler Breeze - Fancy gentleman with a fancy hat

Gruntruck is our replacement for the lost Zeera

Borus is a recent newcomer to TTRPGs. Started playing a few D&D 5e games with friends, joining us for some first time experience with old-school play.

Tyler is a coworker from a different office who was visiting for the week and wanted to join a game. Old hat at RPGs, Avalon Hill wargames, etc.

Events


  • The group starts again in Castle Cachtice. They had been granted favors by the Queen of Hearts for their actions in the last session. Zeera's request to be turned into a vampire sealed his fate. Gor's request was less dangerous: We want to play a bigger part in your war on the Red King. Let us assist you.
  • Because of that request, the party is now being granted more information about events in the Slow War. Messengers had recently been dispatched by another of the vampire houses -- the Pale House. The Pale King is considering allying with the Heart Queen. But he needs the Queen's assistance first.
  • The Pale King desperately wishes to find the Unicorn, but its whereabouts are a mystery. Word has reached him that a certain fish, a loach, has information on the Unicorn's location. But the loach was captured by the Red King's troops. It is currently being held captive at a location in the Interior some distance south of Castle Cachtice.
  • So the Heart Queen again charges her favorite day-walking, traveling over fresh water pets/scouts with a mission. Find the loach, find out what he knows about the Unicorn, deliver the information to the Pale King, make him happy, buy his support in the war.
  • Borus also has a personal mission. During character creation, he randomly rolled a spellbook: "The Seal of the Wonder-Worker King". With this, he can bind an extraplanar creature to an item, to call upon for later service. He also randomly rolled a fancy, feathered hat. So the objective is obvious: Find a demon, bind it to his fancy hat.
  • The party asks their various contacts in the castle what they know about demons. They learn that in Voivodja the are called "Guests" and should be treated as such. Guests are frequently invited by witches. And there happens to be a witch on site: the Duchess in her tower. The players have met her before.
  • The party makes a visit to her tower where they have to choke down the smell of black pepper. Seems that she's cooking pepper soup and can't quite get the balance of pepper to soup correct. She has a long, boring story to go along with it. So boring it costs the party d4 damage to their WIL.
  • She does know quite a bit about Guests, which she is happy to go on about. At great length. Great boring, boring length. d4 WIL damage boring length. She hasn't invited any Guests recently, but she does know of one who overstayed his invitation and wandered into the mountains to the east. Right around where they party helped her recover her "sense of direction". You'd recognize him immediately by the overwhelming sense of terror he causes.
  • Brains bored slightly to mush and unable to remember exactly where they had previously encountered the Guest, the party leaves the Duchess' tower with plans to head south on the Pale King's quest. On the way out, the party tastes the soup. Despite being only a couple drops of soup in a mound of black pepper, the Duchess wasn't wrong -- it does need more pepper.
  • The party heads due south. They find themselves once again camping overnight at the entrance to the Watchtowers. Where I once again roll a random encounter. No matter how big I make the world, everything seems to happen at these two towers. Good thing I now have my campaign notebook to give me an idea of what else might be going on here.
  • A vampire Knight approaches them in the night. At first, he's looking for taxes and blood, but as the party mentions their quest for information on the Unicorn, his attitude turns favorable. He is a Pale Knight in service to the Pale King and charged with his own quest. He seeks the legendary Golden Rattle. It's a rattle made of gold which rattles most golden. Rumor has it was created by the finest rattle artisan centuries ago. And then eaten by a wolf. Which was then eaten by a giraffe. Which was then eaten by an ostrich. Who traveled to Voivodja and to these very towers. Where she was then eaten by a crocodile. The Pale King would like the rattle as a gift for his Good Queen Jenny. So this Knight, Leopold Ohm, is in search of it.
  • The party agrees to help the Knight, hoping that he will, in turn, help them with their quest. They remember a location in the tower where they had seen crocodiles before -- the mysterious pool of blood on the ceiling of one of the levels. They head there.
  • A short battle with the crocodiles breaks out. The party slays one of the crocodiles and the rest flee, swimming up into some unseen passage in the blood pool.
  • The party examines the dead crocodile. No rattle in its stomach. But they do notice something they had not seen before -- these crocodiles have claws made of silver. A rare element in Voivodja, and one that Leopold the Knight is visibly concerned to be near. The party spends some time to skin and declaw the crocodile and takes those parts with them.
  • There is now the matter of where the remaining crocodiles went and how the party will follow. They throw a rope and grappling hook up into the corner of the blood pool the crocodiles had swum towards. It hooks on to something. Gor climbs up to take a look.
  • There is apparently and underwater (aboveblood??) tunnel in the blood pool. They can't see how far it goes (hard to see through blood), but Gor decides to risk it. She plans to attach a rope to her waist, swim through, and tug on the rope twice if she makes it out the other side.
  • She succeeds. The tunnel rises up and exist down (or is it up?) from another ceiling blood pool on the other side.
  • The rest of the party heads through. They decide to leave a few things behind: food and a keg of gunpowder they had been lugging around. Tyler is also very concerned about ruining his fine, fancy hat with all of the blood. So he strips naked and wraps the hat up in his clothing for protection. I decide on a simple Luck roll to see if they hat makes it through without being soaked in blood. Success -- the hat is safe.
  • The party finds themselves in a warm bath/sauna of blood. A hallway leads out one direction, and a small waterfall of blood leads down to some kind of blood sewer below. The party follows the hallway.
  • The hallway leads them to an ancient, crumbling staircase suspended over another pool of blood below. Tyler leads the way down the stairs. The first stairway crumbles away beneath him and he falls (failed DEX save) into the pool of blood below. Another Luck roll -- success -- Tyler keeps his head above water, once again saving his precious hat from a bloody fate.
  • Before Tyler can gain his feet, he is assaulted by a coiling vine of thorns with a giant rose and baby head atop them -- a Rose Nageire. The attack does not go well for Tyler. He takes STR damage, fails his save, and faces a special consequence for Critical Damage -- the thorned vines coil around him and begin bleeding him. His hat is still safe though -- successful Luck roll lands it on top of Tyler's chest as he floats coiled and bound on top of the pool of blood.
  • Striking from the stairs above and leaping into action below, the party destroys the Nageire. They are able to get Tyler back on his feet, although he's hanging on by a thread.
  • A few paths are open to them. They can pull themselves back up onto the stairs and pathways above, where there are a couple hallways they can go down. Or the can remain in the blood pool and head down what looks like the entrance to a blood sewer. The party chooses the path above.
  • The hallway above eventually opens into what looks like a classroom -- rows of desks and a lectern up front. On the ground in front of the lectern is a single corpse. The party wants to kick the corpse. The exquisitely jeweled turtle sitting atop the corpse tells them that would be a bad idea.
  • "Don't you all have a job you're supposed to be doing! Don't think the Queen doesn't notice that you're no closer to finding that loach. Who am I? I'm a turtle obviously! Although, and this is a secret.... I'm not really a turtle...  You say you're looking for crocodiles? Then what are you doing in a classroom when there's a perfectly good sewer right over there!? Anyway, wrap up things here and go finish your job!"
  • The not-a-turtle leaps a foot into the air, turns downwards, and vanishes as it dives into the corpse.
  • Borus begins to examine the corpse. His hope that it has fresh, intact hands he can collect is quickly dashed. The corpses arms have been completely ripped off and are nowhere to be seen. Two trails of blood lead from the corpse to a doorway in the corner of the classroom.
  • Jhovan examines the door and immediately feels that sweating, crawling, sheer terror he had experienced when camping months before. He can only assume there is a Guest on the other side of the door.
  • Everyone looks at Tyler -- its binding-demon-to-hat time. But as much as Tyler wants to do that, he decides to play the pragmatist. He's already one foot in the grave and the Queen's spies are watching -- opening the door to a Guest is the last thing they need right now. So they leave the classroom and head for the blood sewers.
  • As they're heading back towards the stairs leading down to the sewers, they see a figure dressed in white, like some kind of bride, heading down a different hallway. The Cheshire Cat that is suddenly floating behind Jhovan tells him what a good idea it would be to go talk to her.
  • "Look at her! (smile) I bet she just has the most wonderful things to say! (smile) Don't you think you should go have a little chat? You can tell me all about it later! (smile)"
  • The party is done getting side-tracked (for now). Onwards to the sewers!
  • The blood sewers are the worst. It's all blood. It smells of rust and rot. The walls are all coagulated scabs. It sucks. And it kind of goes on forever. Until the party finds a pile of assorted garbage at one end. Where the remaining crocodiles wait in ambush.
  • The fight turns rough for our party. The party has taken out one crocodile, but the entire party is taking damage. Tyler wants to light the garbage pile ablaze, run for it, and let the fire take care of the crocodiles. But Borus takes Critical Damage and has been knocked unconscious right next to the garbage. Gruntruck to the rescue.
  • Gruntruck also rolled up a spellbook during character creation: "Reality Shift". It creates a small sphere around the caster that renders everything in the sphere invisible, insubstantial, and ethereal to everything on the outside. Gruntruck dives atop Borus' body and casts the spell.
  • Tyler throws oil and lights the room ablaze. Gruntruck and Borus are both protected from the flames in a (very tiny due to miscast) magical sphere. The crocodiles not so much. The party makes a fighting retreat from the garbage room, shooting muskets and pistols at the crocodiles until the bullets and flames have done their job.
  • When the flames settle down and the Reality Shift wears off, the party examines the crocodile corpses. Most are too charred to be worth skinning, although the valuable silver claws are still intact. Most importantly, however, the legends were true! Inside one of the crocodile's stomach is the Golden Rattle. After what they've been through, the party agrees: It rattles most golden.

Questions before next session


  • Now that they've found the rattle, what will Leopold the Knight do? I feel like his priority is delivery of the rattle to his king, but there must be some assistance he can provide to the party on their quest to find the loach.

What worked well?

  • So totally happy with the autogenerated campaign notebook! I'll write up more in a spoiler-marked post later, but it was really nice to have at the table. The map was obviously the generic sewer one I drew up during prep. But the adventure that ended up sitting atop it -- Pale Knight looking for a valuable rattle -- was provided by the notebook. I get that this isn't a revolutionary thing. It's basically the equivalent of the content Wilderlands of High Fantasy, Carcosa, Hot Springs Island, etc. have always provided. But there's something cool to me that this was all generated automatically from whatever tables I wanted to provide to it.
  • The map. I've been getting lazy lately and relying on dice-drop tables from AR&PL and Vornheim mid-game. I've had great results with those and will continue to use them. But it was really nice to have a fairly detailed map ready-to-go. When I have more time (i.e. when I'm done with development of HexPop!) I should sit down a draw up a whole bunch of them.
  • Pretty sure I've said this before, but holy crap Into the Odd runs fast! I think the reason I'm getting so far behind on writing these campaign logs is that they keep getting longer and longer. This session was maybe 3 hours max. But so much stuff happened. I'm not sure I've played a TTRPG where this much gets done in a single session. Even my OD&D sessions didn't have this much happening.

What didn't?

  • Honestly, I think I'm totally fine with this session.

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