Shadows of Keron Episode 2: Death of a Tyrant, Part 1

Posted: 6 February 2012 in Shadows of Keron
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“A Marine officer is never lost. He is merely temporarily bewildered by terrain.” – Jeff Cooper

I unleashed my players on GRAmel’s Death of a Tyrant scenario for Beasts & Barbarians last weekend. I’ve suppressed a lot of the information in case you GM or play it.

Lured by the promise of riches, the party joined a caravan to Kenaton across the Red Desert from the Independent Cities. Stopping in the wealthy city of Quollaba, they were drawn into intrigue when conspirators hired them to perform…  well, let’s just say a highly illegal act.

The actual perpetration went very well, thanks to some effort casing the joint beforehand and a solid plan involving hidden horses, grapnels and a high-rolling Boost Trait. (That really is a very under-rated power.)

Elated, but under hot pursuit, the PCs ran to their horses, leapt into the saddle… and only then realised that two out of three had no Riding skill at all, and the third had a d4. I aim for the feel of an action adventure movie in my sessions, but the chase that followed through the cramped, twisting alleys was more like the Keystone Cops than Bullitt or James Bond. Eventually, in despair, they dismounted and stood to, engaging the pursuing guards in a brutal melee which would have ended sooner had The Warforged not decided it was more important to loot bodies than help his colleagues.

On the plus side, Nessime figured out what the Holy Handkerchief does (Greater Healing) and how to activate it (apply to patient’s brow), and they did acquire a warhorse. This creature survived The Warforged’s fear spell with several raises, and acquitted itself outstandingly in the melee. Having recently watched Disney’s Tangled, the group decided they had to have it, and that it must be called Maximus.

Gutz’ player amused himself drawing scenes from the adventure, some of which may get posted later as they are spoilers of a sort, and caught up with me afterwards to say how much fun it was to play RPGs with no map, just one’s own imagination to depict the scene. Another convert to the Old School. Something that the GRAmel adventures do well is battlegrounds you can set up with templates, dice, and whatever else you already have lying around the gaming table, without resorting to drawing on square grids or “proper” wargaming terrain.

Meanwhile, the surviving party members are wandering around the Red Desert, temporarily bewildered by terrain.

A review of the scenario follows shortly.

  1. Funny to hear this report :). Heroes blocked at the city doors could easily end in a TPK, but it seems you avoided it :). Ahh… Riding, what an useful skill to spend a point or two :).

    • andyslack says:

      Their actions earlier sparked off the riot a little ahead of schedule, distracting the bulk of the guards. Just as well, because some of ’em are very invested in their characters and a TPK would’ve hurt. =]

      Something similar happened to me some years back running 2300AD: The PCs were engaged in recovering a priceless painting from the villain’s mountain chalet, and decided the best way to get in would be to hire a zeppelin and some hang gliders. Only when the cargo bay door opened and an icy wind started blowing around them did one PC say: “Does anyone actually know how to fly a hang glider?”

      The reply was: “No, but how hard can it be?”

      It went downhill from there, pardon the pun.

  2. Sean says:

    Coincidentally, I also wound up running this week’s game without minis and mat. It really helped enable player freedom and sped up combat.

    I’ve dowloaded most of the GRAmel free adventures, but haven’t even read them yet. I’ll have to correct that soon.

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