Custom Mission - The Port Sumac Council

Here’s the mission I’ve put together to run with my group tomorrow night. Let me know your thoughts, and feel free to use if you’d like. If you DO run it, please let me know how it goes.

NOTES: Mission assumes the patrol is already in Port Sumac, so you might need to narrate a way for the group to get there before the intro, or a quick test if you’d prefer prior to really getting rolling. Also, mission is written for Summer, but can easily take place in either Spring or Fall.

After spending some time in Port Sumac, the patrol catches wind of a dispute among the captains’ council that presides over the city. One of the council members, an old sailor mouse named Llewyn, has died, and has left his ship and its crew to his son Griswold. However, Griswold believes that he should also take his father’s seat on the council, seeing as there’s no gap in service time of the ship and crew.

The captain of the Zephyr, Saoirse, has been nominated to take a seat on the council, but the dispute over Llewyn’s seat means that the vote cannot take place, and Saoirse is threatening to pull her ship out of Port Sumac if she doesn’t get made part of the council, as her ship is one of the most profitable in the city.

The head of the council, Laird, needs to make a ruling on the Griswold issue, but he insists on having council with his most trusted advisor, a Patrol Guard named Dafydd currently at Frostic who holds a seat on the council.

Assign the Mission: Track down Dafydd and bring him back to Port Sumac to resolve the council dispute so a vote can be held.

The patrol must make an Ob 3 Circles test to find a vessel willing to transport them to Frostic, which is a small floating watch tower in the northernmost part of the Territories. Failure means the patrol finds a ship to transport them, but the ship’s captain would be forgoing an expedition bonus on a delivery to Rustleaf that he expects the patrol to match. This would lead to an Ob 5 Resources test to raise the transportation fee. Failure leads to the the patrol being indebted to the city merchants - any Haggler or Resources tests suffer a +1 Ob penalty for the rest of the season.

Upon reaching Frostic, the patrol finds Dafydd’s boat docked on the shore, but no sign of the Guardmouse. Inside Frostic, there’s a handwritten note:

“Gone into the woods to investigate some varmints.”

The patrol must succeed at a Journey conflict (Vs Summer 4) in order to track down Dafydd. A minor compromise would be the patrol becoming Tired, a major compromise means the patrol finds Dafydd, but in a battle with a kestrel!

After finding Dafydd, he will tell the patrol that he’s found what appears to be a group of weasels popping through the treeline by the Frostic shore from time to time, but none like any he’s seen before. He won’t go with the patrol without them helping to investigate the creatures. Patrol must succeed at a Scout test Vs Nature 5 to find them. Failure means Hungry/Thirsty.

Once the patrol has found the creatures, they need to make an Ob 5 Loremouse test to try and determine the species and Nature of the animals (they’re ferrets, but of a much more tribal and primitive type than those of Darkheather). Failure means that the patrol has been noticed, and must now fight the group of ferrets! (Note: the number here should be 2-4 depending on the size of your group).

After dealing with the ferrets, Dafydd agrees to go with the patrol back to Port Sumac to decide on Griswold, but he’s undecided as to which way to lean. He believes that Griswold has a right to the position, Dafydd being the oldest of the council and remembering a ruling from back years ago of a similar manner, but he also things that Griswold is a bit of a hothead, and that he’s likely to vote against Saoirse’s inclusion in the council due to personal jealousy. The patrol must make a Persuader test Vs. Dafydd’s Will 4 to convince him to vote either way they choose to support. Failure leads to the patrol being made Angry.

Whichever the result of the vote once the patrol returns to Port Sumac, the patrol will make a new enemy - either Saoirse or Griswold, whichever is not given a council seat (he/she will blame the patrol for meddling and costing him/her a highly-profitable council seat).

End of GM’s Turn

So, I’ve been thinking over this a few days and I have a slightly different interpretation. Maybe I’ll have space to include some questions for clarification.

Intro the Session:
The patrol is invited into a unique mediation over the Council of Captains in Port Sumac. This is an especially prestigious invitation which few Guard members have received in past. The request also requires the patrol to seek out voting members of the council to settle disputes.

As if politics were not enough, Gwendolyn additionally expects the patrol to arrange a recruitment booth at the upcoming Morten Harvest festivities throughout the Darkwater Bay region.

Assign the Mission:
The patrol must attend to the disputed council and settle matters in a manner favorable to the Guard as well as according to Port Sumac customs and culture. If possible, initiate planning for recruitment in the region.

Key Figures:

  • Llewyn has died, and left a council seat open
  • Griswold is Llewyn’s son and wants the open seat to fall to himself; he does hold captaincy over Llewyn’s former ship and crew.
  • Saoirse has been nominated to take the open seat; she holds captaincy over the Zephyr and its crew.
  • Laird is the standing Captain of Captains who could rule on the open seat without voting from other captains, but insists he should consult with his close friend, Dafydd; he holds admiralty over a fleet of ships and crews.
  • Dafydd is an honorable Patrol Guard who is assigned to Frostic outpost (at this time) who holds a seat on the council—though he is not a captain of a ship; his duties allow him to participate politically, but not in every matter.

Review BIGs:

  • One member of the patrol should consider a Goal related to recruiting.
  • One member of the patrol should consider a Goal related to the council dispute.

GM Turn: Wilderness Obstacle : Animal Obstacle

Without a Paddle (Wilderness Obstacle)
The patrol arrives knowing only Laird as the first point of contact regarding the invitation to mediate; it is assumed the patrol will hear sides on the matter and make a decision. In fact, before they can speak to Laird directly, the patrol is accosted by Saoirse and given a complete run-down of why she deserves to receive the open seat. Some of her reasons include the rule of profit—her ship brings highly lucrative trade and never fails in a delivery of goods, the rule of loyalty—not a single mouse of her crew speaks against her in any matter and would quickly take her side in confrontations, the rule of age—she is of an appropriate age to receive a seat on the council.

[The GM might inject other customary rules which Saoirse fits the needs of the open seat]

Following the rather forceful introduction, Saoirse deflects questions about her faith in the Guard, willingness to favor or support recruitment, or topics of a similar nature. She’s rough around the edges, but still has a political talent.

Afterward, the patrol has a chance to meet Laird and ask for more details about the dispute. Laird is tired by time he can meet with them, but at least describes Griswold’s claim and admits it fits a few of the rules for the open seat, such as rule of age, rule of heir—that the previous seat has given captaincy to the upcoming mouse, and rule of foresight—that the mouse has shown wisdom and practicality in matters of navigation, seafaring, rationing, and disciplining.

[GM may invent other customs which show Griswold as a worthy candidate]

Griswold is not present for an interview at the moment, but he can’t be too far from port, nor too long at sea. The patrol is sure to meet him if only there were more time.

Laird commands (demands) the patrol leave at once to deliver a summons for Dafydd who should be at Frostic outpost. Laird imagines the patrol will travel overland, but would be willing to order a boat be made ready if requested—sorry, he cannot order a crew to support the Guard.

[The patrol needs to carry the summons to Frostic and move promptly. Moving overland allows them to visit Rustleaf in support of recruitment planning; however, travel by sea may allow a visit to Darkwater and Rustleaf for such arrangements if they are willing to risk the additional time.

Travel overland (whether including Rustleaf or not) calls upon Ob 3 Pathfinder (nearby, infrequently used) and risks a Weather Twist

Travel by sea (directly) calls upon Ob 3 Boatcrafter (as Pathfinder) and risks a Weather Twist; by sea (including a visit to Darkwater and Rustleaf) calls upon Ob 5 Boatcrafter (short journey, infrequent, time) and risks Hunger/Thirst and Tired

Players may suggest or request other options, just keep on your toes!]

The travel is hard, and a trek over infrequently used paths creates no end of labor to distinguish the proper route and make headway—Rustleafers are glad to see the Guard arrive and have a molehill of postal duties they want taken into the central and western Territories; not much time to discuss recruiting, but good attitudes may deliver a helpful contact.

The water trip is troubled by hard seas and the infrequently used route is difficult to navigate and make headway—Darkwater mice are downright confused to see the patrol and Rustleafers are surprised; another patrol had recently passed through both areas to manage postal duties long overdue. No one really wants to chat with the Guard about recruiting.

Not a Moment Too Soon (Animal Obstacle)
The patrol arrive at Frostic outpost to discover Dafydd is away with little sign of which direction he’s gone to. The patrol might know him and something about him (Circles to determine). He’s not shirking duties, nor failing to monitor the outpost—Dafydd has been hunting and tracking ferrets beyond the scent border. If he can get a report back about his observations, it will be a priceless advisory for the next years’ pouring of the scent border.

The urgency of finding Dafydd is immediately apparent when the patrol begins to notice oversized weasel-like beasts popping out of the woods—mostly chasing waterfowl—within sight of the outpost. If beasts of this size and hunting appetite are near the outpost, then Dafydd might have been eaten!

[Addressing these beasts is a complex situation which may lead to a Fight Animal Conflict or Complex test. GM should plan for a few outcomes.

Fight Animal Conflict is a possible outcome based on the PC choices. It also will lead to a complex compromise.

Complex test should include Loremouse to identify the beasts (Ferrets), Scout to search for Dafydd [or his remains in case you’ve convinced the players that is a real possibility], and perhaps Healer [in case GM wants to cause Injured state for Dafydd]

Don’t rush into the scene; add suspense through silence]

Water Over Every Bridge (Weather Twist)
During the trip between Port Sumac to Frostic, the patrol may choose overland or oversea travel, if the dice turn out cowards they’ve run across a serious storm which breaks up the trip with additional rain, high seas, wind, and pretty much every bridge getting washed out.

It is a brief storm, so the key test is to maintain a good attitude about the hardship.

[each PC should test Will vs Season else become Angry]

Following the storm, the patrol completes the route chosen and move on to the Animal Obstacle.

What Should I Decide (Mice Twist)
The most difficult element of the session is actually the decision point of the council seat. If the patrol fails to view this as the critical duty, please don’t seem surprised.
Following the interaction with the ferrets, the patrol needs to encounter Dafydd, discuss the options, and get some opinions—even kneejerk opinions are better than ambivalence. Dafydd may not hold a strong opinion himself on the matter, but that’s okay for an NPC. Dafydd can shy away from being a catalyst of change, but the PCs should be thinking of how to address the needs of Port Sumac as well as the Guard.

All of that relies and depends upon the campaign/backstory for your group. So, the Mice Twist is that the patrol needs to take up a banner of opinion about the open seat, and GM must be prepared to rule on how that is tested.

Whoever is left without the open seat may view the patrol as a potential enemy, but that should not be a given conclusion. Also, whoever gains the open seat may view the patrol as a potential friend, but that need not be a foregone conclusion. I suggest Dafydd or Laird should become a Friend or Enemy of the patrol. If the campaign calls for the patrol to return, those higher contacts will be better choices for a return to stage time while Griswold and Saoirse become Contacts who can be swayed after further exchanges.

I had a few observations about the above items.

First, I love that this mission can fit about any season really well. It doesn’t rely on a specific season to make the best session. When considering my interpretation of Dinkle’s Tower, that’s something I’d probably re-edit. When I included the ‘seasonal mating urge,’ I kinda forced the seasonal timeline.

I don’t love the mission. I agree that’s a critical task for the completion of the mission, but the actual duty should be mediating a dispute. It feels a bit more open-ended when the mission is a duty-related statement. In fact, while it would go off-rails kinda quick, a patrol could say, “we don’t have to get Dafydd; this dispute needs to be settled in another way; we’re here and assigned to mediate.” It would still fit the spirit of their Guard duties and sense of honor, but might require GM to pull out some back-pocket tricks to respond.

Normally, I love a Journey Conflict–I like it more than most other Conflicts. However, the difference I felt here is that tracking out Dafydd shouldn’t be terribly hard–he’s not trying to be deeply hidden from even other Guard. Perhaps there are secret trail signs that mice use to communicate and tracking him would rely on those signs. I don’t know, but I do kinda wish I had fit a Journey Conflict into my interpretation. It might be a fun spot for travel from Pt Sumac to Frostic. I chose not to use it at that obstacle, but it would be a great spot for it. The Wilderness Obstacle is a good placement of the Journey Conflict.

I also left off the Kestrel. If the patrol also has to take notice of the ferrets, I chose to emphasize only one predatory animal. Many players respond to predators with a, ‘fight it or fight it,’ response, so having more than one predator gain stage time will be more stress than it is worth. In addition, the thought of adding urgency by removing Dafydd’s note and adding intent by including Dafydd’s report builds the stakes of dealing with ferrets in the best way. Just fighting them might take away from the observations needed for a studied response, but simply observing may initiate a hunt that emboldens the ferrets in the local area. It’s complex.

In the final assessment of a new Enemy, I felt that it was a bit too frustrating. If I were a player, and gained an Enemy simply for not picking one or another, that’s a bit uncomfortable. However, it makes sense in the fiction–to a degree–that these ambitious captains hold a serious grudge against those who cross them. I think that another note in this case is, ‘where is a Friend to offset gaining an Enemy?’ If the player comes away with a new relationship, I think it needs to be on purpose. Coming away with an ominous Contact–one which could become an Enemy–may be a great, ‘less is more’ outcome. Having a new Enemy could also deter the patrol from returning to or staying in Pt Sumac for fear of that Enemy being present in future.

Now, admittedly that’s a gamble. Other factors might arise that indicate why players don’t want to stick with a settlement or return to a settlement. So, balance Friends and Enemies. Give the assurance: “yeah, some folks don’t like you here, but ignore the haters for now; your friends are throwing a huge party and they’ll protect you!”

Lastly, I chose not to generate an NPC sheet for any of the key figures. Partly that was related to available time, but also I’m not worried about presenting them as one-trick pony stereotypes for a single session. I’d actually avoid having players draw those figures into Vs tests until/unless the Mice Twist occurs. If the patrol happens to deal with the ferrets successfully, I’d have them rushing back to Lockhaven with Dafydd’s report while Dafydd heads to Pt Sumac for consulting with Laird. It all really depends on the investment of the play group in these NPCs too. With a handful to recognize and understand, that’s hard to know where to invest interest.

Thanks as always for the feedback Ken. I obviously ended up running the mission as largely I outlined it due to your comment not showing up until after, so I thought I’d give you a rundown of a few interesting points so you can see how it played out in relation to your suggestions:

Probably the most noteworthy change that I made for the session, and one that you keyed in on, was the formation of a new relationship. I stuck with the patrol earning a new enemy (in our case, Griswold), but also had them earn a new friend in Saoirse. This balanced things out a bit more, but it also had a bit to do with the fact that Saoirse and the Zephyr actually were part of the group’s previous session, in which the ship transported the crew and a shipment of medicine to help treat a viral outbreak that had hit Port Sumac hard. So there was a bit of a previous relationship there to build off of that made sense to earn the friendship relationship. That being said, if it weren’t the case, I’m not sure how I feel about the idea to have a friend/enemy outcome, but it worked alright for our playgroup as it stands.

The kestrel twist didn’t come into play, as the group succeeded in their intent to find Dafydd. The journey conflict I think fits well here, given that a) Dafydd is a seasoned Guardmouse trying to track a potentially dangerous group of predators without being detected himself, so it would be quite difficult for the patrol to simply find him, and b) in our lore, Frostic is a very remote Guard outpost, so the wilds around it are very wild. So I think the Journey conflict makes sense here, and helps to get a higher number of tests and checks in for the patrol.

What ended up being the most interesting part of the mission for me (and the group seemed to enjoy this as well) was the end portion regarding who Dafydd should support for the council seat. Two of the patrol felt as though Saoirse was the best choice for the future of Port Sumac, and that while “qualified,” Griswold hadn’t earned his seat as other captains would have had to do. The third member of the patrol felt that the previous history of Port Sumac warranted Griswold getting a seat, and while they might want to work to get that unwritten law changed afterward, as it currently existed there was nothing that should prevent Griswold from getting his seat. She also felt that the immediate economic future of Port Sumac wasn’t really of concern to the Guard, and so there wasn’t enough impetus for the group to interfere and affect the natural outcome of Griswold’s appointment. If the dissenting mouse had been a bit more steadfast in her convictions I may have gone into a Persuader Vs test here, but as she was fairly soft on her stance (and it didn’t inherently affect her BIGs), I let the group settle it with some table chatter. But it was probably the most interesting moment for our playgroup to this point, and coming up on our second Winter session, this was probably the best session we’ve had so far.

I do think that your handling of the ferrets comes off a bit better. In the end, the group ended up passing their Beginner’s Luck Loremouse test without issue, so they got to choose whether or not to engage the beasts. They were quite relieved that they avoided getting into the tussle, but I think it might have been better if this hadn’t been the case. This is especially true because the group did end up with a lot of conditions by the end of the GM’s Turn, so they ended up using checks that they may have otherwise spent on dealing with the ferrets on recovery.