Thursday, 13 April 2017

GURPS - Times of Turmoil: Session 1

The Beginning

2 April 2017

Thorm - Dwarven exile enlisted in the Imperial Army (around 160 points)
Rowley - Human sergeant in the Imperial Army(around 160 points)
Arakasi - Human monk with mystical abilities and a mysterious past (around 170 points)

The adventurers started out in a caravan bound for the ruined Imperial Capital with bringing supplies and and a company of soldiers to replenish and relieve some of the troops active in clearing the city. The caravan contains an equal number of civilians, some of which are settlers who will be continuing north with the caravan. The caravan stops to rest for a while and our adventurers gossip for a while, hearing rumours of a particularly horrible sergeant being present at the City, that you can't sleep at night around the City because of shrieking ghosts and that someone has been found drained of blood one morning, hinting at vampiric ghosts. Before setting off again, the commanding officer addresses the troops and civilians, telling reminding them that they are here (conscripted) to assist in cleansing the Imperial Capital and surrounding lands and to expect a devastated landscape, dangers, sweat and toil. He finishes with and a warning not to stray from the caravan or the road once they leave the forest.

As the caravan clears the forest, they all see the black and ash grey plains, void of life, stretching towards the City. Some members of the caravan become visibly downcast at seeing the city with its once shining towers now more resembling a burnt shipwreck with broken, stumpy masts. The caravan continues moving onto the blackened plains and does not stop until it reaches the large camp outside the walls. The camp is full of a bewildering number of tents of different shapes, colours and sizes, but the clearly marked roads.

Thorm, Rowley and Arakasi find themselves directed to make camp together with some of the other travellers in an area next to the straight lines of military tents. After setting up their tents and being ordered to help with chores, they finally find themselves sharing dinner and a fire with a number of civilians and soldiers and gossip, brag about old battles and finally settle down to some gambling. Thorm does well, winning some brandy as well as a few coppers while Rowley just about manages not to loose anything. Arakasi sits by the fire, meditating. After a while they all go to their tents to rest, sleeping undisturbed until morning. Seems that the rumour of shrieking, blood sucking vampire ghosts where all a pack of lies!

After breakfast Thorm, Rowley and Arakasi are assigned to go with a long-serving sergeant, his aide (a veteran soldier) and two torch bearers to start clearing out the first floor of a library in the western wing of the palace. They set out through the empty city and arrive at the palace unmolested. Everywhere they go they see soldiers on guard. Arriving at the palace they are directed towards the western wing and get to work.

The Library

The group enters the library which is set on three levels. The ground floor has a main "aisle" leading deeper into the library flanked by rows of book shelves. The levels above are in the form of galleries or balconies which line the room. The stairs are located further inside the room. The sergeant quickly divides them into two groups and have them start searching the rows of book shelves on the ground floor, keeping only a single book case in between the groups, in case of trouble. Our three adventurers go together with one of the torch bearers down one of the aisles, but find nothing of interest. The books are all old, but seem to be in good condition. The group clears a few aisles more, but the dwarf Thorm soon spots something through the gloom (Night Vision 5). It's a dark pile which upon closer inspection turns out to be a chain mail and a sword. As they approach the two items stir and float eerily into the dusty air. The floating sword strikes, but is blocked and quickly shattered by a might blow from Thorms two handed warhammer. The sergeant asks them if they are all right and receives enthusiastic answers.

The group continues to sweep the ground floor and soon come upon two more dark piles. This time Thorm charges one of them before anything can happen, and strikes a pile of chain mail before it has a chance to move. The other one, joined by a helmet, an axe and a sword, attack the fierce dwarf who is soon accompanied by Rowley who starts chopping at the enemy. The torch bearer and Arakasi are guarding the rear. With little warning, a mace comes flying through a book shelf, scattering books as it aims for Arakasi. He is too surprised and does not have time to move before the mace strikes his shoulder. Arakasi is spun around, but manages to strike at the mace with his staff. The mace vibrates from the strike, but goes to attack again. A second strike sends it flying and shatters it against the paved floor. Meanwhile, Rowley and Thorm have made quick work of the other possessed items.

Traversing the aisles, the group defeats more animated weapons and pieces of armour and soon finds that they have cleared half the library. They meet up with the sergeant and his team in the middle and are just about to start clearing the other side, when a swarm of weapons and what looks like small dust devils come at them. Rowley is sucked into a dust devil and is spun around and disoriented. The others start attacking the assortment of animated weapons, chain mail and helmets. Rowley soon manages to get his bearing and break free from the dust devil and attacks a nearby floating sword. Suddenly Thorm sees something moving towards them at great speed. It's vaguely human shaped, but larger and coarser. They guess that it is some kind of golem and Thorm charges with a battle cry. Arakasi clears his mind and starts to focus on the quickly approaching shape and a moment later a burst of flame appears around it and implodes. The brick coloured thing reels a bit, but keeps coming. Right then, Thorm reaches what is now clearly a golem, and strikes it square in the stomach with his warhammer. Big cracks appear all the way along its torso and the creature stumbles backwards. The rest of the group are now quickly approaching, but not before the creature can strike at Thorm who takes a heavy clay fist to his chest. This only serves to make him angry though, and with a massive over head strike he finishes the golem which bursts into shards.

This is where we had to break off as it was getting late.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

GURPS - Times of Turmoil: Session 0

I'm starting a new GURPS roleplaying campaign with some friends and thought I'd record the sessions for posterity. Both so that it will be easy to look up what we've done previously and to help us remember.

Session 0 - Characters and setting

The group consists of four people:
The Game Master - Myself
Thorm - Dwarven exile enlisted in the Imperial Army
Rowley - Human sergeant in the Imperial Army
Arakasi - Human monk with mystical abilities and a mysterious past

The world is a Fantasy world with magic, races such as elves, dwarves and orc, is around Tech Level 2-3, which means somewhere around the Iron Age, and the events take place in something akin to the real worlds Roman Empire called the Empire of Baresh. The Empire is slightly more technologically advanced than the Roman Empire and has the added advantage of employing organised magic users in the form of a Collegium of Magic

The Empire of Baresh has been the major power in the area for centuries, enjoying a long heritage of strong rulers aided by capable advisers and ambitious noblemen. Its power is based on three pillars:
  • Might, in the form of its disciplined and professional, but expensive, army  
  • Money, mainly supplied by its cunning merchants who have secured a monopoly on the export of items from the northern realm of the dwarves; and finally
  • Magic, provided by the Imperial College of Magic. 
Province, by province, a great part of the known world (known to the Empire, that is) has come under the rule of the Empire and found life good under imperial protection based on the great Code of Baresh which dictates the rights and obligations of all subjects in the realm.

Times of Turmoil

However, the Empire has seen better days. About 25 years before our heroes come into the picture, the town of Roggle Hill was turned to volcanic glass and a foe popularly called the Terror appeared. This Terror summoned hordes of monsters and waged war against the Empire from inside its most central heartland with the assistance of powerful magic. After a while undead creatures were added to this invasion. During the early war, the Dwarven kingdom in the north provided military assistance and supplied the Empire with quantities of weapons, iron and coal, but the King and his council soon had a change of heart and closed themselves inside their mountain homes, severing all ties to the outside world.
The Elves evacuated all their domains but left their greatest heroes behind to support the Empire in the struggle.
Despite the help of the Elves and focusing all the resources of the Empire on this titanic struggle, it seemed impossible to make headway. Soon, the Imperial Capital was besieged and all hope seemed lost. Then one night, the Imperial Capital and the surrounding landscape was devastated by immense magical force which left the city standing, but eradicated all life and left the city weathered as if hundreds of years had passed and full of violent spirits. After this, the Terror was not seen again and the armies of the Empire started to regain lost ground as the monstrosities now lacked leadership and the support of magic.

As the war against the Terror was brought to an end, the impact of over a decade of war is becoming known:
The Empire has spent all its resources on this one task, drawing upon the manpower, supplies and wealth of all its provinces. As a result, the heartlands are greatly depopulated and most now live in the cities. The outer provinces have been less affected, but have still had to pay heavily to support the war effort.
With the Emperor dead and the administration gone, the Empire is weakened and cannot defend all its provinces. Some regions have already banded together into new kingdoms and principalities for mutual protection while others have become snapped up by active neighbouring realms. To the north, the orcs are making inroads, laying claim to abandoned forts and villages. To the east, the Fen Princes are taking possession of all undefended provinces they can without exposing any weakness to each other. In the south and on the islands, ambitious vice-roys and lordlings are proclaiming themselves independent and on the seas, pirates roam unchecked now that the Imperial Navy is no longer able to protect trade.

While there are many veterans in the army, everyone in the Empire is tired of war and there are no resources or leadership which can bring about a reconquest. The people of Baresh are occupied by trying to rebuild and resettle all the lands which have been reclaimed from the reign of the Terror. A major effort is now being made to reclaim and cleanse the Imperial City and this is where we join the players.