Tuesday, April 21, 2020

What Happened?

Now that I'm stuck at home, off and on, I figured I should post something about what's going on in the Rich/GSI gaming world.

In place of wargaming, I've pivoted to running an RPG, thanks to one of the young ladies at work...

Alex(andra): "... yeah, Rick and Morty is great!  Do you watch The Big Bang Theory?"
Me: "Yeah, my wife and I watch it, sometimes."
Alex: "Oh! Your kinda' a nerd.  Do you play D&D? ... No offense."
Me: "None taken. I played D&D like 35 years ago for a loooong time. Back in the Basic Red Book days. I still have the books, too."
Alex: "Karen!  Rich is going to teach us to play D&D!"
Karen: "Yaayyyy!"
Me: "Ummm, OK.  I'd rather run a GURPS game, if that's OK."
Alex: "Whatever, we won't know the difference, anyway.  What's GURPS?"

So, I've had this idea for a campaign for a decade, or more.  I work with some great people and after asking around we raised an adventure party of 5 people (6 at the time of posting) who are all less than half my age.  Now, about once a month we get together after work, gather in the Mech-E Room, and play for a few hours.

Here's the short backstory I wrote to bring the players into the setting.  They each got a copy of the History and I read the Funeral bit to them the night we started the campaign proper.

You've arrived at The Well, essentially an outpost at the edge of the Second Hurani colony. A village that became a small town, built around one of the very few freshwater wells on the Meneloth plains. The West Road from Huran literally ends at the eastern edge of this place. Just beyond this settlement is where the unknown begins.

The Well was once filled with adventurers, merchants, and explorers. That was 200 years ago.

The First Hurani Colony, the default capitol of this early effort, rotted from within. Corruption and greed began the necrosis. The Blank, a horrific disease of complete passivity, finished the job.

The Blank infected 7 in 10 of the world's population. It caused people to become motionless, expressionless, silent. 5 of those 7 infected simply starved to death where they were struck. 2 of the 7 infected survived, but they could no longer communicate. Their faces were slack, they could not speak or even gesture. Oddly, some survivors could still sing, but the songs held no words. Just eerie sounds from slack faces.

The Blank destroyed the world.

Amira, the motherland, barely holding on itself, lost contact with the First Hurani colony, as well as all of its other colonies and protectorates. Civilization faded from the globe for 100 years. These were dark times.

Eventually, Amira did collapse. Though, not completely. Wise people hoarded knowledge, secured the libraries, created great repositories of understanding. The other major resource, people, were carefully shepherded. Amira bounced back quickly compared to the rest of civilization. They built ships, filled them with fresh colonists, and sent them back to their old settlements. People they could ill afford to lose should things go wrong again. Amira risked complete collapse to rebuild what they once had. Unfortunately, the timing was poor.

Four of those 100 ships carried a handful of Second Colonists, your great grandparents among them, to the ancient docks of a nearly empty Huran. Astoundingly, a few descendants of the original settlement occupied a portion of the city's north side. The wilderness and wild creatures took the rest.

Over the next 100 years, Huran was cleansed of all that was wild and the great city rebuilt. The population thrived. Art, engineering, and magic became what Huran was renowned for.

Amira, on the other hand, became embroiled in war after war with its neighbors. Constant conflict and infighting caused Amira to isolate itself. As Amira withdrew from the world stage, the colonies were once again left to their own devices.

While help faded from the motherland, Huran flourished. A wall was built around the city, a small navy built, and a skilled army was raised. The wilderness provided raw materials and food. The city became wealthy and taxes were collected to finance it all. A great expansion was in its infancy.

In the last 5 years the outlying towns, The Well among them, were reclaimed and rebuilt. Because of that, an exodus is beginning. People, explorers, settlers, fortune hunters, are moving west.

You stand at the edge of a vast, unclaimed, and wild continent. Your fortune will be made in that frontier.

The Funeral of the Copperniks

It's midday on a rainy October day. There are 39 remaining townsfolk. You stand at the edge of the cemetery, watching as they finish installing the Coppernik family in their final resting places. You can see this hallowed and muddy ground has tripled in size in the last few months. Something has been coming down from the hills to pillage and kill.

The ceremony is over. The funeral rites have been read. The shallow holes filled over these unfortunate mortal remains.

From what you have gathered, the Copperniks, a family of 8, were killed two nights ago. They are the latest victims in a long chain of murder and fear that started in March. The bodies were discovered just outside the western border of the town yesterday morning. They were left as a display of terror for the rest of the citizens.

A small group of townsmen were then dispatched to the Coppernik farm to find the stores were pillaged, their handful of livestock stolen, and the farm burned. This is the fifth farm to be destroyed in this valley since last spring.

You have clearly arrived at a bad time. There are nothing but suspicious looks and angry dagger-like glares pointed at you. You are neither trusted nor welcome here.

The assembly bell in the town square rings, calling everyone to the center of this sad settlement.

Entering the square, you see other adventurers. Like you, newly arrived from Huran. You each give the short nod of recognition granted to equals.

An old man in finer clothes than the rest leaves the crowd and approaches the west end of the square. He climbs the platform stairs and waits for everyone to quiet down. He speaks:

"As you all know, a force of brigands or monsters has been slowly destroying our town for 7 months now. They have killed our Sheriff, picked apart our small militia, and destroyed 5 of our local families. They have stolen crops, burned farms, and kidnapped our friends for their larder. None have laid eyes on them and lived.

It is thought that they have taken the Old Abbey for their own. That cursed place, built by the first Colonials, stands between our town and the only outside help we can expect. I sent four separate groups to sneak past or around the Abbey to reach Huran and return with assistance. None have. I suspect our enemies watch the mountain pass through the Great Snake Mountains.

We can wait no longer. With the attack that came two nights ago, our circumstances have become dire and our tormentors bolder. We think a final attack may be imminent.

Of the 84 townsfolk that lived here last spring, only half of that number now remain. Some have left and gone back to Huran. Many have been killed. All of those that remain now stand in this square.

As your mayor, I know none of you are familiar with war, weapons, or monsters. We are all too young or too old to take up arms. But, I ask for at least 5 volunteers to try one final time to save our town. Set off in the morning. Find these bastards and kill them.

Accomplishing this mission will not only earn heroic glory for each of you, but also 25 pieces of gold to be split among the party. Nearly all that remains in our treasury. If this mission is successful, but you do not return, know that your family will be granted one piece of gold from that sum and freed from taxation for the next 10 winters. Any treasure secured during this mission will also be free of taxation.

Should we not hear from you within the month, the rest of us, the old, the infirm, the children, will push north and attempt a long march through the Hags Forest, across the White Water River, skirting the Wisp Marsh, passing far north round the Abbey, and finally on to the East Road as near to the Great Snake as possible. This route will take a minimum of 30 days and may be just as dangerous as passing under the shadow of the Abbey itself. I think we all agree, better a slim chance at life on a perilous journey than certain death here in our poor town.

Many of us have donated food, equipment, weapons, and even a pair of mules to help bolster the chances of success. Know that we who remain love you and have given what we have to help you succeed.

Do not mistake the gravity of this situation. Those who undertake this endeavor will likely meet a bloody and horrific end. In taking up this challenge, you risk it all.

Volunteers will please step onto the platform with me."

Only two of my co-workers have ever RPG's before, and that was for a very short time years ago.  They are pretty much Noobs and it is so much fun running a game for them.  Currently, I'm trying to break them of the habit of asking what they can do ("Can I climb the ruins and see over?") and get them to tell me what they do ("I climb the ruins!")

I've printed a bunch of terrain.  Laser cut some stuff, too.  Bought like $200.00 worth of figures and Terrain Crates.  And I'm having a hell of a good time getting in touch with my 12 year old self, again.  The difference being, I can now afford to buy the RPG toys I feel I need.  And, I'm really enjoying playing with people rather than against them.

Unfortunately, we can now no longer meet after work, 'cause Virus, so I don't know when we'll get to play again.  In the mean time, I'm working on more GURPS figures and terrain and a Bolt Action US force that is actually quite a bit of fun to paint.

Until next time!

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