Everyone will have a favourite encounter, what's yours?
Posted 28 September 2013 - 11:49 AM
To hopefully get the ball rolling, I GM'd an encounter recently where my groups PC's had been routed from a small village by a sizeable rampaging Beastman warherd. They were fleeing through the forest with the surviving villagers, the Gors had the wind in their favour and had ignited the woods which went up like dry tinder. Following an exciting evening of skirmishes and near misses, the bloodied and beaten survivors reached a gorge and were trapped; a suicidal drop into the rapids below, or the fire and Ungors rapidly approaching. The PC's and surviving villagers hacked at the base of a tree tall enough to topple and span the gap, but this cost precious minutes and the warherd was almost on top of them. Fatigue and Stress was through the roof!
Following the conventions of many a year roleplaying, half the players went across the precariously thin and unstable bridge to test the footing, whilst the remainder had their characters allow women and children to start to cross, knowing the Beastmen wouldn't be able to follow, whilst they wearily waited with their swords drawn. Once they saw the scale of the opposition however they understood their choices were to fight and die, jump with the distinct possibility of hitting the rocks or drowning, or to push past the villagers and cross.
What made the encounter so memorable was the genuine anguish the players had in making their choices. The two Asrai jumped rather than lower themselves to push passed humans, however lowly. The Agent, wracked with indecision, could not decide, until the very last moment when his (or perhaps the players) true nature finally showed and he pushed aside a peasant girl about to alight the makeshift bridge so that he could dodge the blow of the attacking Gor.
The Agent survived, only to relive the guilt and the girl's cry as she was dragged away by the leering beastman, whenever he closes his eyes to sleep.
Moral quandaries...happy days!
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Posted 15 October 2013 - 11:01 AM
Ours occurred during The Dying of the Light at the place of testing. Its basically the ruins of Fimir experimentation. In the center is a tower. Half the group went insane, the other half died (and the other half of those that died was drawn and quartered). Somehow the horse saved the group by a dragging incident that managed to get one of the players far enough away from the Fimir-summoned daemon to gather his wits.
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Posted 16 October 2013 - 12:56 AM
I'm slightly worried now though, a TPK may be on the cards as my group don't have a horse to rescue them!
Cheers for the reply.
Posted 16 October 2013 - 01:19 AM
This is an encounter I had planned in different forms for years with different gaming groups, but never got to actually play until last year. I was pleasantly surprised when one of my players mentioned it recently as one of the most memorable (Or was the word he used crazy? Or disturbing?) sessions he had played. I ran it as part of my norse campaign, but it can be used anywhere as long as the players are not too averse to dealing with the powers of chaos.
The Tree Of Unkindness
Deep within the forest, through a thick wall of intertwined branches and brambles, there is a clearing not fully part of this world. The seasons change by a different calendar and the sky above is not the same as outside this place. Within a circle of raised stones there is a mound of bones. Out of it grows a large, leaf-less, multi-coloured and twisted tree. Its roots snaking through the mound of bones. The clearing is filled with large ravens who silently watch anyone entering.
If a living human is pressed against the roots of the tree, the roots grab the struggeling victim, immobelizing him as the ravens swoop in and strips the flesh from his bones.
Once the feast is over, the ravens all congregate in the tree and through their screeching a voice emerges and commands; "ASK YOUR QUESTION"
For each person sacrificed, the tree will answer one question asked of it. It will answer truthfully, but it might not answer clearly or fully. The tree simply wishes more sacrifices, so it gives answers that lead to more questions which needs more sacrifices to be answered.
When the tree hungers, it sends out its ravens in visions to people attuned to the aethyr. It promises knowledge and power.
So, my players are sent on a mission to this oracle shrine to find out how to save their village from a dragon that has awakened. However, no one knows exactly what the shrine is. Just that it demands sacrifices and can answer questions.
So, they set out with a group of warriors, a group of thralls and a big chest of gold and valuables. They do not know what kind of tribute the shrine wants, so they just bring everything.
They have a hell of a time getting through the mountains and forests of Norsca in the onset of winter. Many succumbing to cold and predators. The fact that they are lugging a large chest with them is not helping. They even run into encounters where they can trade, where they are tempted to start trading the valuables in the chest for food, clothing and other necessities. But they tighten their belts and make due with what they brought with them, keeping the chest intact for the shrine.
So, they finally arrive, over half their followers having died along the way. And they discover that the tree does not care about the chest, all it wants are live people. This is fine at first, as they can sacrifice the surviving thralls. But once they are gone, there are still some big questions that remain unanswered and the only people left sacrificing... are fellow village warriors. The most unpopular goes first, cursing their names as the ravens rip him apart. After him, the weakest companions are weeded out first and the groups number rapidly dwindles.
By this time the players are realizing that if they do not ask the right questions, they will wind up having to subdue and sacrifice one of the other players...
They manage to get somwhat satisfactory answers before it comes to this. And what is revealed is this: A beastman leader visited the shrine earlier that year to find out how to unite the beastmen of the forest and kill all the humans. The tree told him to climb a mountain and take a magic sword from a tomb. Taking the sword broke a spell that was keeping an ancient dragon captive. The party needs to get ahold of the sword and return it to the tomb to imprison the dragon before it kills everyone. While the party has been travelling to the shrine, the beasman has been gathering the tribes and is marching on the partys village. The party must get back to the village as quickly as they can to help defend it, defeat the beastman leader and get ahold of his sword.
So, looking at it with something close to a complete picture: If the party had just stayed at home, the beastman would have attacked the village and they would have gotten the sword (if they defeated him) without ever visiting the shrine or sacrificing their comrades.
Or another step back: If the oracle shrine had not told the beastman to steal the sword, the dragon would not have awakened and the party would not have travelled to the shrine. Taking the sword was not even a good idea for the beastman, as the dragon will kill everything in the valley. But the beastman only asked how to kill all the humans, he never said that the beastmen had to survive.
The tree just manipulates events so people keep coming to it for help to solve problems that the tree caused in the first place.
My party has not seen the last of that shrine It was fantastic to see the look on their faces as they had to turn on their own companions, all the time watching eachother as well, wondering which one of them would be the first to go if the NPCs were not enough. Lots of Stress and Party Tension was handed out that day.
The name, by the way, comes from Tzeentch (or Tchar as the Norse call him) being the Raven God. And a flock of ravens is called "An unkindness of ravens"
Edited by Ralzar, 16 October 2013 - 01:41 AM.
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Posted 16 October 2013 - 11:54 AM
After my group have dealt with MARIONBURG they are heading to NeuEs Emskrank by means of the Sea of Claws, and that would be a perfect opportunity to sew the Norsca legend of the tree for future shenanigans!
Thanks for sharing.
Posted 16 October 2013 - 12:40 PM
Oh and a detail I forgot, which makes the rules of the tree easier to explain to the players: Some chaos worshipers simply stay at the shrine to tend it. Over time, they get crazier and more mutated. Until finally, they turn into ravens and joins the other birds living in the tree. The chaos worshipers are usually not aware of this.
What is handy about this, is that there can be a person at the tree who want the characters to make sacrifices to the tree, so has a vested interest in explaining the rules. It can also be an added bit of horror if for each time they visit the tree, the worshiper resembles the ravens more and more. Until he one day is gone.
As I mentioned, the tree does not have to be in Norsca. In fact, I would say that the tree is actually somewhere far north in the chaos wastes, but you can visit it from certain unholy sites or through certain dark rituals.
Edited by Ralzar, 16 October 2013 - 12:41 PM.
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