One of the players in my regular group, my good friend Thomas, is hosting a campaign in which the players (including myself) set up an adventuring guild. Thomas has kindly offered to write up a log of this campaign to share his experiences with the Stage.
So here it is, in its full, unabridged glory: Thomas’s campaign log of session 2 of the Silver Street Guild Campaign! You can find session 1 here (including some background on the setting and the characters and an awesome drawing of the party).
Day 1: New Gate Inn
The players decide to explore their surroundings before going to bed and end up at the nearest inn, the 'New Gate Inn', which lies just outside--you guessed it--the New Gate. The palisade that surrounds Aberford has been extended at least once to make room for new buildings. The inn outside the old eastern gate was co-opted into the town during such an expansion (and now serves as the players' base of operations). A new inn has been constructed just outside the New Gate. The expansion of Aberford was perhaps a bit premature: the unused plots inside the palisade are overgrown and the players’ Guild is surrounded by poor squatters in simple hovels.
At the New Gate Inn, the players are welcomed by innkeeper Griswald. A quick chat reveals that he could use some help: a local girl stands to marry a half-barbarian from the Steppelands and some of the groom's relatives are over for the wedding feast. Griswald is apprehensive about the safety of his property (mighty convivial roars can be heard from the barbarians upstairs). As the town guard is not keen to get involved in any tribal affairs outside the gate, Griswald is on his own. The players, through spokesperson Tirin, decide to take their first official contract from Griswald who is willing to pay them a gold piece if they can keep his Inn and his guests in one piece.
Cesper also meets woodcutter Fanael in the inn, but decides against offering the group's services in cutting up some logs that have been left at the side of the Silvercreek. Guided by Cesper’s Flare spell (see Supernatural Rulebook, page 86) the group returns to town to get some sleep at the Guild Hall. David decides to stay a little while longer to taste Griswald's cheap but tasty variety of ales.
Day 2: the wedding
Cesper immediately heads out to visit the Temple of the Ascending Light in the village center. Tirin heads over to the Merchant Hall, Guy stays behind to prepare some food, and Rolland practices his fighting skills to prepare for the evening’s job at the New Gate Inn. David spends the morning in bed.
At the Merchant Hall, Tirin seeks out Silvana, the local representative of the Syndicate of Electoral Merchants of Penhaven and one of the people who has a vote on the Aldermen’s Council, in order to persuade her to vote in the Silver Street Guild’s favor. Tirin politely interrupts her conversation with some other merchants and she seems pleased when he explains he was sent by the Copper Street Guild. However, when it becomes apparent that Tirin and the crew are not formally linked to the Copper Street Guild and intend to start from scratch, Silvana becomes irate. Tirin doesn’t succeed in calming her and she makes it clear that she is not expecting anything less than a Copper Street Guild in town and turns her back on Tirin.
Meanwhile, Cesper makes his way to the Temple. All Temples of the Ascending Light have more or less the same lay-out: it’s a six-sided building with a large stained glass roof. Sunlight comes in through the stained glass, where it hits a cut mountain crystal that disperses it. Six rows of pews are built around the crystal's base.
Cesper is welcomed by Brother Treyfusis, Priest of Aberford and another member of the Aldermen's meeting. They chat for a while and Cesper makes a donation. Treyfusis informs Cesper that it is customary for new enterprises to donate anything from 5 silver pieces up to a gold piece to the Temple for the well-being of the Aberford poor. Cesper offers his services to the church and Treyfusis informs him that Sister Bee at the Graceful Light Orphanage could use some help.
Cesper heads over to the Orphanage and offers Sister Bee his help with a collection drive for the Orphanage which is to take place the next day. He spends some time with the orphans and then heads back. When he returns to the Guild Hall and relays the request for a Temple donation, Cesper is received less than welcoming by the more mercantile Tirin, who warns Cesper not to "steal" from the Guild's funds without permission. Cesper does not take kindly to the insinuation.
When evening falls, the Guild members make their way to the New Gate Inn and get ready for the job at hand. The players decide that Guy and Cesper (who is still a bit mopey from his discussion with Tirin) will stand guard outside the door while the rest of the party takes care of security inside. Those indoors are soon joined by a band of four boisterous elven and human barbarians (instantly recognizable by their attire of leather and pelts and the beads they wear in their long hair). Obviously, the pagan in-laws were not invited to the religious ceremony in the Temple. After a short while the newlyweds arrive for their party, together with about 25 guests and a small band of musicians.
The celebrations proceed nicely and although the barbarians stick together at one table, the atmosphere is festive. At some point in the evening Guy and Cesper are suddenly (they both fail their perception checks) joined at the door by two ruffians claiming entrance; they’ve heard about barbarians at their gates and would like to have "some fun" with them.
The Troublemakers are enemies with strong intimidation and brawling skills. The players know that Griswald will only pay them if bloodshed and destruction of inn property is avoided, something that seems unlikely should the two thugs confront the boisterous barbarians inside. When trying to persuade the two to walk along, Guy and Cesper are both successfully intimidated by the Troublemakers. Cesper retreats to the side and stares at the ground, but Guy does what any cornered animal would do in his position: he fights.
Fisticuffs ensue and both parties make ample use of the new parrying rules. Inside, David hears that trouble is afoot. He signals Tirin and Rolland and by the time they arrive at the door to help out, Guy has floored his opponent with a well-aimed punch to the chin. Seeing his buddy down in the dirt and armed combatants entering the scene, the remaining bully drags off his companion and danger is averted, the inn guests none the wiser.
After the Troublemakers are dispersed, the feasting continues. The mood turns grim when two barbarian guests start physically arguing over a game of dice. Although their barbarian peers do not seem concerned, the townies grow quiet as the argument goes on. Rather than interfering directly, Tirin decides to try and enforce order by talking to the groom's uncle, the senior barbarian and onlooker to the 'fight.'
The groom's uncle is amused by young Tirin's bravery and helps him resolve the situation by slamming his tankard on the table while shouting "Bumping! Bumping! Bumping!" The others soon join in: a 'Bumping' it is.
The table is carried outside and the quarrelsome gamblers climb on top of it for a traditional Steppefolk wrestling match, which is won by a character called Merek. The guests, townies included, are amused and excited by this cultural display and a good time is had all around. At the end of the night, Griswald pays the party the promised gold piece and on top of it offers to supply the Guild with ale at cost price for a season. The party's spirit is lifted and even Cesper and Tirin talk out their differences, establishing some basic decision making rules for the Silver Street Guild. All return for a well-earned night’s rest to the Guild Hall.
The situation with the barbarian gamblers was less dangerous than the problem at the door, but still could have turned ugly. I had intended to make anyone who directly challenged the quarrelers go through the 'Bumping' themselves, but Tirin's solution to keep it in the family was far more elegant. I rewarded this by having the barbarians carry their table outside, with less danger of damage to the inn which could have upset Griswald.
I love it when players come up with solutions that I had not thought of myself and feel it should be encouraged wherever possible.
Day 3: Sun Day
The next day is Sun Day; Penhaven weeks are six days long and Sun Day is the day the more religious subjects of His Imperial Majesty go to the Temple to share in the Holy Light. Cesper decides to go early to make the agreed donation of one gold piece to Brother Treyfusis. It seems Tirin and Cesper are seeing eye-to-eye again, as Tirin offers to come along so Cesper doesn't get robbed. The priest Treyfusis, already preparing for Sun Day Mass with his younger acolyte, gratefully takes the donation. Cesper, Tirin, Guy, and Rolland attend Mass while David stays in bed (see Ceremony of the Temple of Ascending Light below).
Ceremony of the Temple of the Ascending Light
The weekly ceremony of the Temple of the Ascending Light is a short but impressive affair that many notables of Aberford show up for (such as Silvana, Fredrick and an Elven nobleman who is most likely the Lord-Mayor). First Brother Treyfusis greets the crowd with a customary blessing. After a sermon, Trefusis makes some announcements, including that of yesterday’s marriage and Sister Bee’s collection. After these announcements, the 'Ritual of the Ascending Light' is performed, with incantations by the priest and his acolyte in Old Speak. During the ritual, he points his crystal staff at the Central Crystal which strengthens the refracted sunlight. Mage Cesper recognizes this familiar ritual as a divine Animism spell that grants all participants with a +1 Spirit point and +1 Will point for the duration of one week.
After the Ritual the congregation quickly disperses and Cesper and Guy start a round of collections at the town and market square.
Rolland and Tirin seek out Captain Bartholomeus at the Barracks. Captain Bartholomeus is pleased that the players came to introduce themselves and when Tirin and Rolland offer their help, he confesses that he is not without worry. The source of his troubles is Eyegloom, a mysterious affliction that causes blindness and has infected four guards. It is not uncommon among the elderly, but it is rare for able-bodied guardsmen to become ill. The sickness presents Bartholomeus with the short term problem of understaffing of the night watch and the long term problem of losing some of his men. Due to the shortage of men, he also cannot help Cedric, a cattle farmer at Oakswater Crossing, who claims his cattle is disappearing at night. Bartholomeus could use help on all three fronts.
After Rolland has made some inquiries with merchant Fendrel (who is supposed to be knowledgeable about common diseases), the players decide to go after the Cow-farmer's contract first. Bartholomeus promises them a minimum of two silver pieces’ wage for traveling to Oakswater Crossing to perform an initial investigation. The players decide to set out at dawn of the next day.
Day 4: Strolling by the Oakswater
Cedric's farm is a six hours’ walk away, so the players have plenty of time to take in the Aberford country side. They decide to take it even slower, as they collectively help Cesper with gathering a full bag of Crawlmoss, an alchemy ingredient with regenerating properties.
In the beginning of the afternoon, the team arrives at Oakswater Crossing to meet Cedric, the Elven Cow-farmer. Cedric explains that he has heard wolves’ howling in the distance and that every other week one or two cows disappear during the night, with no cadavers or traces of blood left behind. The players are puzzled: wolves are unlikely to be able to eat a whole cow without leaving a trace. After an examination of the fields, however, woodsman Guy finds wolf tracks near the Oakswater. When he checks them more thoroughly, he finds the tracks of a large two-legged wolf on the river bank...
I wonder what the players will deduce from this information, but will patiently have to wait until session three of The Silver Street Guild!
Once again, many thanks to Thomas for providing me with this excellent campaign log. It is fun and very helpful to see how Game Masters experience the Stage.
One of the interesting things that happened during this session was the intimidation at the door. Personally, as a Game Master, I let people role-play whether or not they are intimidated or persuaded by someone else: that means I usually do not allow player characters to be the victim of, say, an Intimidate (bully) or Speechcraft (persuasion) skill check (see Core Rulebook, pages 60 and 69 respectively). Thomas does this differently: the Skill check determines if a character is intimidated, but the player decides what his character does when so intimidated. My character, Cesper, a soft-spoken, awkward, and physically weak monk, backed off and stared at the ground, hoping the problem would just go away. Guy, however, a burly woodsman, responded to being intimidated by beating the other guy’s face in. That was good role-playing and it surprised me to see how nicely this approach worked. I think Thomas’s approach encourages role-playing much more than mine (to let people decide for themselves if they are intimidated), and I will definitely consider it next time this kind of situation presents itself.
I wasn’t too sure about using the Perception skill (see Core Rulebook, page 63) for finding alchemy ingredients; yes, you need sharp senses to spot the proper leaf or whatever, but you also need to know a lot about the plant you’re looking for, in this case moss, and where it grows, which are arguably the domains of the Science and Survival skills (see Core Rulebook, pages 67 and 70 respectively). Alchemy/chemistry in general haven’t received much thought yet; this is something I hope to change in the next iteration of the rulebooks.
Anyway, it was another great session and I enjoyed myself very much. Now to spend the coming weeks pondering what to do with the exorbitant, cosmos-shattering number of Character points Thomas awarded us: no less than 20, merciful Heavens! And this on top of the already majestic 360 Character points we were given at the start. I can hardly contain myself. Thanks so much for that, Thomas, you benevolent man-beast...
Read about session 3 here!