Tuesday, May 24, 2022

THE DEFENCE Of SAN FLORIA: A Short Glog adventure/Session Recap


I had a GLOG session a while ago that was quite interesting.  I wrote a recap, and I told myself: why not just slightly change it and publish a little adventure? :)

Enemy design:  Spekkio at black rat big hat
NPC guard/mercenary class design:  Petty Sell-Sword
Ruleset:  the GLOG, but I hope that there are enough details here that this could easily be run in B/x or something similar.

Basic scenario concept:  

In this campaign, the heroes are part of a large-ish mercenary company (the Fox's Company), who's captain has made enemies (as they do).  The captain, Ricardo Volpe, receives rumors of a plot to raid a monastery and frame him for the raid.  He sends some of his trusted followers (the PCs) to protect the monastery and his reputation.  There is a roughly 1 week window of time in which this raid will occur.

Feel free (of course) to modify this intro to fit your campaign.   The only real requirement is that the PCs would be seen as trustworthy enough to be hired for this.  If they aren't... you could reverse the scenario on its head and have the PCs be the raiders!

This adventure was play-tested with 4-5 2nd-level PCs using the GLOG system.  

The Monastery:

The Convent of San Floria 

Leader: Abbesss Maria:  A no-nonsense woman with a strong will, with sharp features and green eyes.  She is a bit dubious about this entire situation, and does not trust the PCs entirely, but will allow them to defend the monastery.  She is worried about the relic being stollen, but also concerned about the monastery’s extensive wine cellar, and she doesn’t want it raided or even discovered. Most of the other sisters will stay out of sight and not interact with the party.  She will provide some lodging (sleeping in the hayloft or something of the sort) and food to the party while they stay at the convent.  The convent has about two dozen nuns and a few servants.

Guards:  3 eunuchs, rescued from a difficult situation and devoted to the convent.  No armor, armed with quarterstaves, 5hp.  Will help the heroes defend, but more in a "extra pair of eyes" role - they see their main objective as protecting the convent itself and would rather let the PCs do the fighting.  The leader is Bernard, a boarman, 10 hp.  He did some soldiering in his youth, which makes him both relate to the party and yet not trust them fully.  The guards’ attitude towards the party will depend on how respectful and competent the PCs behave.

The Relic: a silver and glass reliquary containing the Hand of San Floria, said to be able to remove curses during lunar eclipses... it doesn't really matter, it's a McGuffin.  Worth a few hundred gp to the right buyer.

By Dyson Logos, see link above

Monastery grounds:

A wall surrounds the monastery, but in the north and part of the east is "incomplete" - a series of graceful arches beautifies but make it easy to bypass .

The convent is on a large patch of poor soil, used for pasture.  They have little agricultural activity beyond a few apple trees and beekeeping.   About 750 feet north-west of the monastery is a tiny hamlet - a few modest homes where an extended family of shepherds live.  A dirt track leads past it to the nearest town.   To the north and east there is a small cops of woods, and less than a hundred feet to the south there is a small river (15 feet wide and fordable on foot) in a small, bushy valley.

Rather bland, but it shows the layout.  each square = 30 feet.  Taken late in the session.

The opposition:  

Marnie's Movers, a group of petty-sell-swords (designed by Spekkio, I added one member, Burak)

= Marnie (leader) =
F Human
9 9 9 9 14 9
Atk: +1 / 1d6 dagger [dual-wield]
AC: 12 (leather)

Items: 5 daggers total, 3 rations, shovel, 30' rope, a small insignia of Fox's Company to be left behind.
Treasure: 4gp 8sp various coinage, anklet worth 17sp
Skills: Literate, Brigandry (+2 to checks relating to executing an ambush), LOW CUNNING (+2 Stealth, can perform crude deception)

Appearance: Esmerelda from Quasimodo, but aging and with a few scars and pockmarks.
Personality: Dry and lowbrow. Motivated by greed.

= Burak =
M Dwarf
9 9 14 9 9 9
10 HP
Atk + 0 1d6 (hand axe)
AC: 13 (leather, shield)

Items:  3 rations, matock, large sacks
Treasure: 4 gp, ring worth 3 sp
Skills: Brigand  (+2 to checks relating to ambushes)

Appearance: stout even for a dwarf, black hair and eyes
Personality:  Cautious, suspicious, and protective, sees himself as Marnie's bodyguard.  The voice of "reason".

= Nicolin ("Young Nick") =
M Ratling
9 9 9 10 9 9
Atk +2 / 1d6 dagger (Fell Handed)
AC: 12 (leather)

Items: 3 rations, shovel
Treasure: 2gp various coinage, locket worth 13sp
Skills: Urchin/Pickpocket.

Appearance: Black fur. Squinty eyes.
Personality: As Todd T Squirrel.

= Percival ("Perc") =
M Ravenling
9 9 9 9 9 11
8hp (Eating Well)
Atk +0 / 1d6 dagger
AC: 12 (leather)

Items: 8 rations, shovel
Treasure: 8sp, 20sp bauble
Skills: Brigand (+2 to checks relating to ambushes)

Appearance: Beak heavily scuffed from clam habit
Personality: Thinks he's funny

= Nicholas ("Old Nick") =
M Ratling
9 9 9 10 9 9
Atk +0 / 1d6 dagger
AC: 12 (leather)

Items: 3 rations, shovel, lantern
Treasure: 18 sp, 6sp earring
Skills: EAGLE EYE (adv to perception checks), Brigand (+2 to checks relating to ambushes)

Appearance: Greying, with whiskers sticking out in all directions. Rather long and thin face.
Personality: Reticent.

= Winnifred ("Winnie") =
F Badgerling
9 9 13 9 9 9
Atk +0 / 1d6 dagger [dual-wield]
AC: 12 (leather)

Items: 2 daggers total, 3 rations, whompin' shovel
Treasure: 22sp, 3sp Toe-ring
Skills: LOW CUNNING (+2 Stealth, can perform crude deception), Peasant/Animal Handling, can dig

Appearance: -
Personality: Surly in comparison to normal people, rather upbeat for a badgerling. Still likes animals more than people.
Extra: has a small donkey, named Cheeky. She loves him dearly.

= Alais =
F Human
9 9 9 14 9 9
8hp (eating well)
Atk +0 / 1d6 dagger, 1d6 bow
AC: 12 (leather)

Items: 8 rations, shovel
Treasure: 14 sp, 12sp snuffbox (empty)
Skills: Urchin/Pickpocket.

Appearance: Pale and waifish. Tendency to stare.
Personality: Very intense.

Marnie is cunning and objective driven - she doesn't want to fight, she wants the relic.  Depending on what defensive measures the PCs adopt, she will craft a plan to bypass them (or so she hopes!).  She is a big fan of using a distraction to draw away defenders while the main group sneaks in the back. You can read the recap below to see one example of such plan.


If you feel like making the scenario thornier, a third party may intervene - a local taxman who has a dispute with the monastery for example - a taxman the party may mistake for a raider scout/impostor?  Perhaps a young nun is interested in one of the PCs?  Perhaps Bernard is not a boarman but a were-boar and the full moon approaches?  Have fun!


The Abbess will reward the party with a bottle of fine wine each, claiming that they were given to the monastery by a noble a few years ago (true) and that they had no use for it (quite false).  These bottles can be sold for 5 gp each (it's a somewhat famous vintage), or simply enjoyed.  She will also gift them with a large jar of honey.

Captain Ricardo will reward the PC according to their success.  A complete failure yields no reward, a successful defense will earn the PCs 10 gp each, and information about the plot another 10 gp, and perhaps extra equipment from the company store. (adjust according to your campaign, of course)


So how did this work in my game?  Explody.  Here is how it went down:

Ragno, a spiderling sawbwones (level 2)
Xerses, a dwarven Sorcerer from afar (level 1 sorcerer, level 1 thief)
Mr Bill (level 2 human Zouave)
Violetta (level 2 gnome tactician, player is absent for most of it)
Giuseppe (level 2 human hunter, has a crossbow) 

The party managed to establish a decent rapport with both the local guards and the local shepherds - the later achieved with an offer of a few silvers to the shepherds to keep an eye out.  A few days after arriving at the monastery, they got word from said shepherd of "suspicious strangers" seen lurking in the north (Marnie's men were scouting the scene - they paid the shepherds in coppers, not sliver).

Correctly anticipating a nighttime raid, the PCs surrounded  the monastery with fires at night, so that no one can sneak in unseen.  Marnie, seeing this, developed a plan of attack.

First, a distraction - 3 members (Alais, Nicolas and Winifred) "attacked" from the north at night.  Each carried a long pole, each end of the poll having  dummy carrying a "spear" and a torch, creating the illusion of 6 attacking torchbearers and "more" poorly seen.  Once within about 200 feet of the monastery, they stopped, put down the poles on support (the fake attackers are now "standing on guard") and begin shooting flaming arrows at the building from extreme range.  If a counter attack happens, they run.  But because they start their charge from quite far, it takes a long time for a counter attack to work...    The flaming arrows did little damage, but certainly caused a lot of concern, and the monastery guards went on fire control duty, leaving the PCs to take care of the fighting.

(I'll note that in the GLOG, ranged attacks have significant penalties, and these ranges may have to be adjusted so they make sense for your system.  The attackers want to be close enough that shooting arrows at a far range at a large collection of building is possible, but far enough that return fire has little chance of hitting them). 

In the south, Marnie, Burak, Nicodin and Percival snuck close to the back of the monastery, taking advantage of the distraction and cover from the small river valley.  They have with them bales of hay that they soak in the river and use to extinguish one of the fires, and a ladder to go over the wall.

But Xercese, the party sorcerer, suspects that something is amiss and heads south.   He manages to signal to the others that the mercenaries are coming, but his efforts to slow the invaders down only spur them to greater speed.  He paralyzes Marnie and her dwarven guard Burak, green sparks shooting out of his ears from the magical effort.  But the fat ravenling Percival and Nicolin the ratling are already over the wall and charge him, with Percival yelling "grab the wizard!!!", and they tackle the sorcerer.

Ragno and Mr Bill are rushing south, and Guisepe is trying to flank, but are just a wee bit too far.  Xerces is not hindered by the grapple -he is not a wizard, but a sorcerer, he doesn't need mumbo-jumbo gestures or chants!  He draws his powers for the third time, and paralyzes Percival with a thunderclap!  Nicolin panics, and decides the solution to the "wizard problem" is stabbing!  He misses.  Guisepe fires a bolt but misses as well.

Ragno and Mr Bill are so close!  Xerces decides to turn invisible for a short moment to escape, thinking that Mr Bill and Ragno should be able to handle Nicolin.  But Xerces has used too much magic today, and the spell catastrophically backfires.  For a brief moment he is engulfed in crackling magical energy (tacking 9 dmg) ... and then he *explodes* in a fireball, inflicting 16 damage to everyone within 20 feet.  Xerces, paralyzed Percival and stabby Niccodin are obliterated....   Mr Bill and Ragno, outside the blast zone, can only stare in shock as Xerces's peculiar hat flutters down from a great height...

(note: in the GLOG, the sorcerer is a caster that the more they cast, the more dangerous it gets - the player pushed his luck too far.  They knew they were going to blow up sooner or later!)

The arcane explosion brings the battle to a stop.  Marnie, still paralyzed, is captured by the PCs, along with a few others.  In exchange for their freedom, she tells the PCs all about who hired them.  The party begin to see the outline of a plot against their captain... 

 Thanks to Kwub for helpful suggestions and revisions

P.S.  I have pretty good notes from this campaign, and I think a few of the other adventures are also "decent enough to publish".  The next one will not be a battle, but a "capper" - The Yamac Sauce Capper.  I think we need more adventures in the GLOG - enough classes!

Thursday, May 19, 2022

The GLOG alchemist: a playtest

 I previously published a GLOG class called the alchemist.  I was pretty proud of my creation, but it was a complex class, and it hadn't been playtested.  Anyone who does game design knows that no matter how "solid" something seems, if you don't playtest it, you can't be certain that it works like you intended.

The first thing I realized is that I hadn't included backgrounds.  Oops

Either come up with something good yourself, or Roll 1d3:

1: wizard.  You have no talent at casting spells, but you can detect magical items as a wizard.  You start with 2d10 silver

2: cultist:   Use the summoner class as a guide to create the cult you used (or still? belong to).  Start with 1d6 silver and a dagger.

3: Inventor:  You start with 1d12-6 gold and a peculiar crossbow that only you can use.  If  you have negative gold, you owe it to someone who may prove troublesome.

The second thing - much more important - that playtesting uncovered was that the  degradation rules and the resulting "stabilize" system just do not work well in play.  The design intent was to prevent someone building up a huge arsenal and "nova strike" with all their spells at once.  It doesn't really, and it really is penalizing to the character.  If a level 1 alchemist prepares a concoction one day but doesn't use it, each day there is a 1/6 chances of it being lost forever - those CDs aren't like a wizard's MDs, they don't "come back".  But if the alchemist doesn't, well the alchemist has no magical powers.  This is *not* ideal nor fun. 

 What we compromised instead was that alchemical preparations should have an "expiry date".   How to do that easily in game?  Simple.  Keep track of the character level at which the preparation was made, and 2 levels  higher the preparation has gone stale and is worthless.  

Example:  Kava the gooseling alchemist has made a smoke pot at level 1.  He keeps it for a while, but if he doesn't use it by level 3, it is now a dud and the CDs are lost.

So why not simply at the next level?  Well it could result in something expiring *very* fast if the PC happens to level up on the same session as the smoke pot was prepared.  

I would update the preparation tracking sheet with something like this:

Lastly, we decided that the sword of St-Germain alchemical enhancement can be used on a dagger - or any vaguely sword-like implement.  It seemed a bit silly that the alchemist could not use the sword they prepared due to proficiency issues.  

So how did it play?  Fairly well!  The alchemist basically plays a bit like a conservative mage, but can be rather good in clutch situations.   It's not for every players clearly, but my player enjoyed it.  We also found that the proposed amounts of CD was about right, at least right for my campaign pacing.  I also occasionally allowed the player to find spare CDs when it made sense, such as finding an abandoned alchemist's lab.

Of course, one PC in one campaign not sufficient playtesting, so if you too have played an alchemist, I would love to hear about it.