Grindbangers : Return to Skogenby

Hi everyone,

So, this evening I just ran my second Meetup TB session with three players (another one dropped a few hours before the session…), among them a returning player from the first session, playing Beren again.

This time I was caught off guard with something unexpected from the start which resulted in random calls from me.

Ulrich, having noticed tracks of “someone” that emerged from the crypt and returned, decided to set a snare trap and waited in the dark.

I had them make an Ob 3 Carpenter to set it up on the yew tree for tension and the ring they had as a bait. Then an Ob 2 Survival for waiting at night in the cold. These increased the grind enough to become hungry/thirsty.

Eventually Jora got caught, they noticed her eeriness, gagged her and brought her back to Skogenby. Everyone greeted them in the morning, when the sun washed the curse away, and were invited by Jora’s family to rest in their home (they had no checks to spend for recovery).

Obviously, I wanted them to get some dungeon action so the next morning, one of the village elders was found dead in his home, its body mangled without a trace.

While people where gathered in the village, Marius’ mother showed up looking for her son who disappeared, one of the kids who disturbed the crypt revealed that Marius secretly kept a ring with him.

This time it was about saving Marius and putting an end to this curse.

Somehow, while looking for another entry, they came across bandits and wanted to use them as porters or guards, this led to a Convince Conflict they won but with a minor compromise, the bandits would only take loot, one of them will only help in fights.

They managed to earn a check to camp but not enough to recover the numerous conditions.

The session took 3.5 hours, one of the new players was getting the hang of it while the other dropped a little bit of attention, finding the rules quite dense, so I reassured them all that it was ok for a first game. The returning player was really enjoying it.

Yet I was hit with a double whammy, first the whole trap situation with the premature return to Skogenby, then the convince conflict I wasn’t prepared for.

It definitely was a more challenging session although I thought I was better prepared having tied down some concepts and anticipating their moves.

I’m still wrecked from it yet curious how any of you would have handled these off the rails situations, ie. trap making, dealing with hires outside of the Town recruitment, etc.

Thanks for reading !

4 Likes

Hey Karim,

The big question is how did the player describe the action? If it was just setting a snare the old fashioned way, then a Hunter test might have done the trick. Hunters are good at setting snares to catch food or for bigger traps. A typical snare trap like this would be Ob 3 from the factors for a snare trap type and a human size (page 139).

But, what you did with Carpenter and then Survivalist sounded fine too. Only you as the GM know where the test really is based off what the players are doing. In this instance and for this particular situation, it could be plausible that the challenge was getting it all to work with the tree or working with wood.

As far as “off the rails” goes, there should be no rails. The players are driving, and what happened sounded awesome. The only thing to add here is that they should be burning resources while they do all this stuff. That keeps them grinding and depleting torchlight, and that keeps them focused. If they want to spend time doing all this investigation, let it pay off but at a price.

I think it is pretty smart to capture Jora. That really makes the adventure more suspenseful.

What you did with the convince conflict seems fine too. Returning to town phase was not an option since they didn’t have any loot to pay lifestyle, and even if they did go into town phase, they couldn’t hire help until level 2 anyway. If the players are investing all that effort and won with only a minor compromise, they should be rewarded for their actions and creativity.

As far as “adventuring in a town” vs. “town phase actions” goes, that gets complicated.

Here are some principles (not rules) to help guide you:

  • You can go back to the town area while in the adventure phase, but that is not town phase. You are still adventuring and grinding. Think of the town as a part of the dungeon. It is just another area on the map.
  • Town phase is meant to really only replenish supplies, reequip, and prepare for the adventure. This is an opportunity to increase Resources and Circles too.
  • Town phase takes days, weeks, or sometimes months based upon how much stuff the players are doing (e.g. training, leveling up, recovering).
  • No roleplaying in town phase. If you are truly in town phase, the adventuring pauses while you go to market, rest, etc.
  • Don’t mix town phase actions with adventure phase stuff. If the group needs to go to market, they all have to go back to town with everything that entails (finding a place to stay, paying lifestyle)
  • In adventure phase, players can make tools, find supplies, interact with NPCs, etc. But it all balances out because of the grind and your ability to twist and pivot.

It sounds like you handled everything quite well and you have some more fodder to throw at the party because of their investigations with the Marius stuff. The bandits also make for possible twist fodder in the future-that’s playing with fire the Torchbearer way!

3 Likes

I like the player creativity attempting a snare / trap which would apply to mortal beings; however, knowing that Jora is possessed by a not-mortal-being (even if it isn’t immortal in your perspective), I would have described the ghostly visage of a floating figure bypassing the preparations without causing any impact. I’d describe the being in that way, while also describing fresh tracks being left as though existing on another plane of existence. That’s my viewpoint on that; it might end up as a missed “Good Idea,” but I’d prefer for the players to realize they are dealing with something beyond mortal ken.

Again, I’d have some different perspective on the possession of Jora. So first, the being would have endowed Jora’s body with inestimable strength and allowed her to burst the bonds of any trap or snare, and to ignore the impact of a gag by forcing her declarations into the minds of the adventurers–they cannot stop the intrusion of such ethereal communications!

Regardless, I like the idea of breaking the curse by sunlight–I just would have made a massive fight out of forcing the body of Jora into such an incapacitated state that the adventurers would be able to hold it in binds to take back to town in daylight. If the possession is so easily mitigated, I would have made a bigger conflict over keeping Jora outside the dread crypt at daylight. And, if the body of Jora were destroyed in that fight, the disturbed spirit could easily attempt to possess an adventurer, or to enter the dread crypt without a body for a rest before heading out the next night to find another body to possess.

Good stuff, this. And I can certainly imagine this scenario as a result of any effort to remove Jora from possession. Such as a Compromise result from any attempt to hold the body until daylight with hopes of forcing out the disturbed spirit.

Kinda awesome encounter for the bandits to be enticed as assistants.

Regarding the premature return to Skogenby, and the difficulty of removing Conditions, I would have suggested a brief pause in the game session to discuss rules and options aside from a return to Skogenby. Tell the players, ‘we’re all authors in the story, so you need to understand that walking away here is not the path forward. It gives an opportunity for everything to get much worse.’ Afterward, describe some of the ways in which things get worse as the adventurers are attempting to rest elsewhere.

If I recall, your first report stated they left the crypt with stolen loot, and that’s a good reason for other forces to take interest while the adventurers yet live. Other ideas for that stolen loot to get snatched may include a powerful magister aware of the dread crypt occupant, cultists aware of the dread crypt occupant, or evil monsters attracted to the undead spiritual vibes.

I don’t dispute anything mentioned by Koch above. That’s great stuff.

1 Like

Hi Koch,

Thanks a lot for your feedback and the good words, you’ve practically answered everything. :handshake:

The big question is how did the player describe the action? If it was just setting a snare the old fashioned way, then a Hunter test might have done the trick. Hunters are good at setting snares to catch food or for bigger traps. A typical snare trap like this would be Ob 3 from the factors for a snare trap type and a human size (page 139).

That’s the first thing I always ask them as they tend to name the skill, trait or wise for their action.
How didn’t I think of Hunter ? Because they weren’t equipped I immediately assumed they had to “build” it.

As far as “off the rails” goes, there should be no rails. The players are driving, and what happened sounded awesome. The only thing to add here is that they should be burning resources while they do all this stuff. That keeps them grinding and depleting torchlight, and that keeps them focused. If they want to spend time doing all this investigation, let it pay off but at a price.

I hear you and totally approve that, though because I’m still not experienced enough I tend to feel overwhelmed hoping I’ll live up to the player’s expectation of the game when improvising.

Returning to town phase was not an option since they didn’t have any loot to pay lifestyle, and even if they did go into town phase, they couldn’t hire help until level 2 anyway. If the players are investing all that effort and won with only a minor compromise, they should be rewarded for their actions and creativity.

About the hirelings, that was a tough call because that’s exactly what I read but the players really wanted to convince the bandits to join them in the crypt and even fight for them. At least the compromise helped make the payoff more realistic but I knew I was messing with this level 2 perk :sweat:

Here are some principles (not rules) to help guide you:

That’s awesome ! thank you so much, it all makes sense.

1 Like

Hi Ken, Thanks for your feedback !

I like the player creativity attempting a snare / trap which would apply to mortal beings; however, knowing that Jora is possessed by a not-mortal-being (even if it isn’t immortal in your perspective), I would have described the ghostly visage of a floating figure bypassing the preparations without causing any impact. I’d describe the being in that way, while also describing fresh tracks being left as though existing on another plane of existence. That’s my viewpoint on that; it might end up as a missed “Good Idea,” but I’d prefer for the players to realize they are dealing with something beyond mortal ken.

Yeah, I think I underestimated Jora’s potential, but pushing the otherworldly possession of Jora is helpful to introduce the threat. Somehow I understood from the module that she was more passive that she should be, like when not taking part in the conflict with Haathor-Vash and the Honor Guard.

I would have suggested a brief pause in the game session to discuss rules and options aside from a return to Skogenby. Tell the players, ‘we’re all authors in the story, so you need to understand that walking away here is not the path forward. It gives an opportunity for everything to get much worse.’ Afterward, describe some of the ways in which things get worse as the adventurers are attempting to rest elsewhere.

That’s great, at the time I might have worried that it would limit their agency especially when I downplayed Jora’s dangerous potential.

If I recall, your first report stated they left the crypt with stolen loot, and that’s a good reason for other forces to take interest while the adventurers yet live

Well, in the first report the whole party died inside and they didn’t think of camping nor accumulated enough checks to recover.

Other ideas for that stolen loot to get snatched may include a powerful magister aware of the dread crypt occupant, cultists aware of the dread crypt occupant, or evil monsters attracted to the undead spiritual vibes.

These are juicy twists !

Thanks again for the great insight.