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A Red & Pleasant Land, Part 13: You get a duel! And you get a duel!

Prep time 

Since I no longer have any sample locations in the book to fall back on and am usually very bad about preparing detailed adventures ahead of time, I've been trying to make improvements to my in-game toolkit. Before this session, I'd done a lot of work with the instant location drop tables in A Red & Pleasant Land to hopefully make them even more useful at the table. Mostly around combining random locations, encounters, and perplexities onto a single drop table.

I'll hopefully write a more detailed post about that soon.

Players 

  • Borus Bleeve - Borus the one-handed. Borus the hand collector. Borus of the two right hands. 
  • Karl Min Valé - Possible owner of "Min Valé Industries".
  • Gorn the Mad - The demon eater. The actually mad.
And new player
  • Chromula the Egregious - Chromula the brand new to TTRPGs

Events 


  • After last session's debriefing with the Queen of Hearts, the party leaves the throne room. Their attention is grabbed by a hooded figure standing in the hallway.
  • The figure quietly informs the party that she is also human. While she greatly disapproves of all the horrible ways the party has sold out humanity recently -- betraying villages to the Queen of Hearts, kidnapping little girls, etc. -- she hopes to offer them a path to redemption. And also a possible way out of Voivodja.
  • She is working with a group that hopes to reclaim Voidvodja away from the vampires. Right now, the group requires a key piece of information: a map of the interior of Castle Cachtice showing the way from the entrance to the Queen's sleeping chamber. But she warns the party, while the House of Hearts has treated them as guests so far, any wandering around the upper levels of the castle would be treated with hostility.
  • The party decides that, for now, they will go along with the Queen's request to travel with the wedding party to their Rite of Engagement and bring back the lying tongues of the members of the Colorless House. They make their pre-travel preparations.
  • First, the party wants to sell off the treasure they've acquired along the way. They run into a small problem trying to sell the fancy dishes the acquired in the Tower of the Stargazer. Turns out nobody in the castle is willing to buy what is clearly stolen property of the Queen of Hearts.
  • Gorn is able to make a deal with a ceramic merchant. The merchant will take the plates in exchange for a future favor to be provided to Gorn.
  • Next, they await the return of the party's wagon and the Pale Knights they left with it. Gor had previously dispatched his eagle to find the wagon and deliver a message to the Knights telling them to return to Castle Cachtice. But travel overland via wagon is slow going for a group of vampires. It takes a couple more weeks for the Pale Knights to arrive. And their leader, Clarissa Billious, is absolutely livid about the way they've been treated.
  • "Left under a tarp to hide from the sun! Who do you think I am! I demand satisfaction!" Glove slap. A duel has been issued.
  • Gorn accepts the duel. It turns bad for him initially. Both of his legs are injured by Clarissa's masterful sword strokes. But Gorn refuses to give in, refuses to apologize, and eventually secures a victory.
  • Satisfied by the stress release of some good violence, Clarissa calms down and agrees to continue accompanying the party.
  • Gorn immediately goes back to the ceramic merchant and cashes in his favor. Find me someone to help carry me while my legs are injured.
  • The merchant provides Gorn with his assistant, a large-ish footman by the name of Dennis.
  • I'll be honest, I don't remember exactly what happened next, but someone Karl also got in a duel. With Lrak I think? Something about the little girl? Anyway, Karl lost but he lived.
  • The party sets out with the wedding party to the tower where the Rite of Engagement duel will take place. Along the way, they make introductions with the groom-to-be, a Club by the name of Wolfgang the Shrike.
  • Some hexcrawling to the tower. Literally nothing of any importance happens. A few random encounters, all with animals with messages for Wolfgang.
  • The party arrives at the tower. That I have nothing prepared for. I call a 10 minutes break while I use some drop tables and try to come up with something. But I'm still hitting major writers block. I apologize and call the session here.

Questions before next session


  • Same question as before: What the hell am I going to do with this duel!? How do I make an interesting adventure out of this?

What worked well?


  • Honestly, this session was heart breaking. Really felt like nothing was coming together for me.

What didn't?


  • Dueling. Tried my best to judge some Into the Odd-compatible dueling rules on-the-fly, but wasn't happy with the results. Need to re-read that section of AR&PL and come up with a better way to handle it in Into the Odd.
  • Merchants and general castle activity. Aside from the Queen of Hearts, I struggle with everything else I run in Castle Cachtice. Even basic questions like "Where is the party sleeping?" "How does shopping work in the castle?" "How does the party get X service fulfilled?", I feel like I don't have solid answers for.
  • Hexcrawling. Another bit of travel where it felt like the hexmap was providing very little benefit. The party knew where they were going and had no motivation to explore along the way.
  • Leveling up. A couple characters leveled up at the beginning of this session. But the current way I'm mixing Into the Odd leveling with the "Alice Level Up" table in AR&PL is messy. And the "level after X number of successful expedition" rules from ItO are still surprisingly difficult for me. What happens when players join mid-expedition? Are only there for 1 out of 3 sessions that make up the expedition? What is significant enough to be considered an expedition? I think I'd rather move to Electric Bastionland's foreground growth system: scars, union rituals, getting odder, etc.
  • GM burnout and writers block.

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