Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lost Colonies Session 1

This experiment began because there were only three players available from a 3.5 campaign that had to take a week off due to obligations of the other players. The three that remained were willing to give Labyrinth Lord a try. Fortunately, they enjoyed it enough to make a campaign of it. The initial party of three consisted of two brothers — Deacon Guran the Cleric and Hamlen the Fighter — whose father was a local farmer, and Turgan the Magic User, who travelled into the wilds from the City (which, as of yet, has no formal name) in order to find adventure. 

Between the three they knew of four rumors about potential adventure in the area. To the northeast there is a place called Redwraith that has a persistent undead problem. Directly south is a jungle that is known to contain giant insects. Southeast is an abandoned monastery that has recently been occupied by orcs. Also to the southeast, a few days travel beyond the monastery, is a fort called Longwood. It has recently been victimized by attacks from the air.

Of these, the monastery seemed the most attractive. The group equipped themselves, embracing non-metallic weapons and armor in order to avoid the price hike for things like swords and chainmail. Despite encouragement by the referee, they did not try to find any hirelings or henchmen. Instead, they bought a pair of dogs. 

The monastery itself is a fortified structure on top of a stone pillar a couple of hundred feet tall. Three cave openings dot the large column of rock and there is a large stairway that winds up to the main entrance of the fortifications. A large hill sits opposite the monastery. There appears to be a large door that leads into the hill. The only access to this seems to be a causeway from the fortifications. The hill around the door has been hewn away to almost vertical, making any climb up hazardous. Beneath it are the ruins of a town — the only structures that remain are the ruins of two towers, the gate house and a church. The party was quite wary of the fortifications and decided to busy themselves with the ruins beneath.

They found the gatehouse and one of the towers unoccupied. The other tower was clogged with webbing, which they wisely decided to leave alone. Finally, they entered the ruined church. Inside, they found several orcs and a secret door behind a statue of St. Nesoran, to whom the church was dedicated. After routing the orcs, they discovered that the secret door led to a sacristy and some stairs down behind a locked door. Of note, the secret door could only be opened from the inside using Deacon Guran's holy symbol.

The stairs led to some catacombs. Within they found a fount with blessed waters capable of healing wounds once a day when placed on the wound. Drinking it just quenched thirst. They also found a section dominated by giant rats. This encounter proved to be short and bloody. Both dogs died, Deacon Guran contracted a nasty disease and the party was forced to retreat.

After getting proper medical treatment, the party hired on a local hunter named Guy. Returning to the catacombs, they avoided the rat infestation and stumbled upon a sub level guarded by a living statue labeled "St. Gabriel the Guardian." Remembering the secret door, Deacon Guran flashed his holy symbol and the statue let them pass. 

Beyond, they found a number of frogmen and giant frogs occupying a series of natural caves. They experimented with fire and oil, with mixed and often hilarious results. They managed to secure an obsidian statuette of a humanoid with a tentacled face before they had to beat a hasty retreat in the face of overwhelming numbers when a few well-placed shriekers were set off, but not before Harmen's beloved spiked club was swallowed by one of the giant frogs. Harmen was determined to return and gut the creature to retrieve his favorite weapon.

I only give experience for treasure spent, so the characters quickly went about trying to sell the statuette. They struck up a good relationship with the local alchemist Alidor, who, while being a bit absent minded, is interested in strange artifacts and various ingredients one might glean from the denizens of a dungeon. They managed to barter for some potions and offered to bring back various potential ingredients, to which Alidor happily agreed. The brothers ended the evening's play by purchasing a new stud horse for their father's farm.

This is an example of a consequence of exerience for treasure spent — players must find things for their characters to spend their money on. This process is easier to accomplish when the players find financial goals for their characters to try and accomplish — in this case, getting more potions and helping with their father's farm. It should be noted that this really only works in an environment where the players are free to drive the campaign in directions that they choose. In an environment where the story arc of the campaign is thrust upon the characters, character goals become largely irrelevant and the experience for treasure spent loses much of its luster.


  1. Hi :)

    Considering that PCs only gain experience for treasure spent, how do you allocate experience if a very large purchase is contemplated, say a tower? The cost may be large enough that treasure will have to be banked for an extending period and then spent in such quantity that the number of XP, if delivered only then, will exceed the advancement requirement.

  2. When a character begins contemplating such large projects, I make sure resources are available to do them piecemeal. An architect becomes available. A quarry has enough stone to build a foundation, etc. That way, characters can be constantly spending part of their treasure on larger projects like a tower. It also allows them to contemplate these kinds of things much earlier in their careers than 9th level (though they aren't necessarily able to finish them prior to 9th). In other words, I establish the reality that larger purchases are always a process, rather than an instant purchase.