Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Omegea - Session 1
The first session of my new Swords & Wizardry campaign went well (at least, everyone seemed happy enough). Character generation was a breeze, of course, which I think surprised the 3.5 vet of the group. I had everyone roll on the Skeletons in the Closet table, with some interesting results that I was able to start working into the game thanks to a bit of palm reading later on. I didn't go overboard with the houserules (yet), since everyone is new to S&W, but did use wound binding and let everyone know there were no class weapon restrictions.
I started the session with a quick combat tutorial, in the form a bandit ambush on the road to Majinta, and went very slowly and methodically through all the steps, reinforcing that an attack roll wasn't necessarily a "swing" and damage a "wound", but rather a minute's worth of slashing and parrying and hacking and dodging. The players quickly picked up on the old-school rhythm of state-your-action / roll initiative / take your turn / repeat, and were improvising their actions as early as round two. It was refreshing (and reassuring) to see how easily the rules lite framework almost insists the players step outside the basic attack roll - damage roll rut.
From there I moved to the introduction, and cut the players loose to explore the city of Majinta. I borrowed heavily from my Sword & Sorcery Dyvers the Wicked for the city, making a few changes, and letting the rest emerge in play. The players took to the sandbox nature of the game easily, and quickly soaked up some adventure hooks. They immediately became curious about the great obelisk in the center of town - and were quickly targeted by an agent of the local crime underworld looking to sell a means of getting into the thing. The players went and met with a "man in a silver skullcap" at the Headless Wench and bartered for a scroll which supposedly will gain them access.
They then secured rooms at an Inn near the slave market, and relaxed a bit in the place's bathhouse. The next morning they hired a guide and set out to explore the city a bit. They met with one of the city's two rival Sage's Guilds to find out more about the obelisk, as well as where the Sword of Rhoghrim might possibly be (and picked up a possible "job" relating to the rival guild's possessions). They then traveled outside of town to the edge of the wastes where they met a witch rumored to be in possession of a few important old tales relating to the obelisk. The witch's price for the tales was the intact tail of a local menace, a sort of lizard-bird with a scorpion-like stinger and a gaze that could turn a man to stone (a creature of Law, perhaps?).
The party went out hunting - baiting the creature with a tasty live goat. The combat was a near thing, a couple of saving throws were necessary (both successful, luckily), combat once again moved outside the realm of roll attack - roll damage into the realm of improvisation, which I found highly entertaining to adjudicate. They returned to the witch with their tail, got their tales, and got their palms read. They then returned to town, made some contacts among the local merchants, acquired some very potent lemon-liquor, and began plotting how best to undertake the several possibly lucrative missions ahead of them.
The players seemed to take very naturally to the sandbox nature of the game, I had come prepared to give them a bit of a "primer" on the concept if necessary, but it was never needed. They took very strongly to following their nose from lead to lead, taking notes on the info gained, and exploring all the clues and options presented. They also contributed to the world around them, as they were quick to speculate out loud about the things and places they stumbled across (especially an onyx eye ring they took off a dead bandit early on), which allowed me to take those ideas and run with them a bit. Majinta itself quickly took on a life of its own, rivalries emerged between the main temples of Uz ( a cult of drug-addled, possibly cannibalistic sensualists) and the Eye (a cult of cruel, ascetic, conspiracy-obsessed fanatics), and histories and legends emerged around the city's landmarks and ruins. For example the city is run by seventeen great families, which evolved from the seventeen nomadic tribes that settled here when the plains to south became the "Sinking Lands". The obelisk was there before them, and a hero from each of the tribes entered it through a disappearing door. Their heads were thrown out a window at the top shortly after. In response, the 17 tribes began a siege of the obelisk, a permanent settlement grew to support the siege, and eventually the siege itself was forgotten, the obelisk proving impervious to harm and unbreachable.