Tuesday, May 3, 2016

NMSU Aggies vs Sacramento State Hornets Baseball 5-1-16

I wasn't feeling great and it was cool with a cold wind blowing, but I had to go.  Ron had mistakenly told his wife that the Saturday game was the last of the season.  We had to tell her that the Aggies made the "playoffs" and were playing again today (and amazingly, they'll make it to the next "round" next weekend," their actual last home games of the season).  Gotta be a gamer and show up. 

The Aggies were looking good in their black tops.  The Hornets looked good too, wearing their bright yellow tops.  With the green trim they almost looked like the A’s.  They were without their little bat boy today though.  I came wearing my new San Francisco Giants hat.  I love it.  It’s for my hopefully upcoming trip to Denver to see them and the Rockies later this month.  Even though it’s third-party team gear, a ballpark faux pas, it’s cool.  I rubbed my Aggie shirt on it for good luck.  Besides, the most confused fan award at the ballpark today goes to the guy in the Cleveland Browns t-shirt and the throwback Mariners hat.        

In spite of the weather, not threatening but not really pleasant with the wind blowing into the stadium, there was a great crowd.  The cold did not prevent most of the girls from showing off their gams in short shorts, a definite distraction.  It was police and fire fighter appreciation day, and several members threw out the first pitches.  One of them had what looked like a three-year old with him (perhaps they’re related) and the kid had an arm on him, a future Aggie pitcher, no doubt.  The NMSU Fire Department was present, but left en mass early in the game.  They weren’t in a hurry, but I presume there was a reason. 

A couple of volleyball players showed up again.  They were also evicted from the good seats behind home plate.  (At least I’m not the only one that’s happened to.)  They ended up sitting right below us, and were joined later by a member of the football team and his girlfriend.  (Sorry, I couldn’t identify anybody on the team.  He seemed to be built like a defensive back.)  The girls were all lovely, but very unattractively spent most of their time head down over their phones, pouring over various social media.  The blonde volleyball player on crutches referred to #10 Trey Stine as “Trissie,” so maybe she’s his girlfriend.  Actually, I’ve kind of assumed all of the pretty girls at the park are player girlfriends or relatives.

Treachery!  I’d noticed the “fashionable” girl wearing the other team’s colors on Saturday, but on Sunday, she sat nearby and was in fact wearing a Sacramento State t-shirt.  Betrayal!  This girl’s been to every game, and she’s been a traitor all along.  (Or maybe she’s been seducing visiting players every series and taking trophies.  She’s certainly hot enough that I could believe that.  Or maybe she’s been a scout for Sac State.  In that case, she’s been getting by on her looks, because she didn’t do a very good job.  Or maybe she has a brother on the team.  Who knows?)  Meanwhile, behind us, were a couple of young women who were dishing some really juicy gossip.  If I’d known any of the people involved, I probably would have turned off the radio call and listened.  I’m glad I could listen to the radio though.  Once again, before the game, the Aggie players rallied around a pineapple in their pre-game ritual.  Adam Young explained thusly, that #4 Brent Sakurai’s mother had sent him some pineapples from Hawaii and somehow one of them had become their good luck mascot.  Don’t knock it.  It’s working.  Ron had laughed when I called it the “Rally Pineapple” yesterday.  He got an even heartier laugh today when it turned out to be true.           

The cold wind was likely encouraging the players to go up hacking.  The scoring started with Hornets getting a solo home run to start off the 2nd.  #20 Dalton Shalberg would come back with a pair strikeouts, but then give up three straight hits.  With the bases loaded, a sure double dropped a foot foul in right field.  Shalberg came back to get a fly out to left and end the inning.  The Aggie dugout erupted.  In the next inning, #10 Trey Stine erupted with a two-run homer to left.  The left fielder didn’t even move as the ball rocketed over him.  Aggies up 2-1. 

The Hornets would tie the score in the 4th.  Nolan Fox on the broadcast made a great observation that the bottom three in Sac State’s order was 6 for 6.  In the 5th, the inning started with a popup over first falling in between three Aggie players.  The runner was tripled in and then two more runs scored, chasing Shalberg from the game.  #21 Matt McHugh came in and got a ground out and catcher #25 Mason Fishback threw out a steal attempt at 3rd, ending the inning.  5-2 Hornets.  But in the bottom of the 5th, the Aggies called upon the power of the Rally Pineapple.  Two doubles, a walk, and a pair of productive groundouts produced 3 runs, tying the score at 5.     
The game turned a final time in the 6th, specifically the wind.  It began to blow out hard and to the left as the Aggies came up in the bottom of the frame.  They took full advantage of it.  #44 Dan Hetzel got it started with a solo shot that just cleared the left field wall.  After a hit batter, a new pitcher came in for the Hornets.  #25 Mason Fishbeck greeted him with a home run in the same manner as Dan’s.  With a runner on, #7 Daniel Johnson came up.  He’d already grounded out three times in the game.  They must have thought it was safe to pitch to him.  Johnson pounded one into the scoreboard for a two-run homer.  By the time it was over, we’d gone from tied at 5, to 10 to 5 Aggies.

Let’s just pile on.  In the 8th after a couple of walks got on, Johnson came up again.  Surely he couldn’t hit another home run.  Let’s go ahead and pitch to him.  Well, that turned out to be a 3-run mistake in judgment.  I want the Pineapple’s autograph!  Lucky for the Hornets, the game and the series ended before DJ could come up to bat again to hurt them.  Once again, three Aggie relievers were used in each of the last three innings to close it out.  Final score 13-6 Aggies.  Here's your stat of the game (and the reason why you keep a scorecard): Hornets 13 runners left on base, Aggies 1 LOB. 

Given the scoring, surprisingly there were no errors by either team.  There were some drops on pop-ups, but given the wind, you’d be hard-pressed to hand-out errors.  In fact, there were several great catches in the outfield by both teams.  (Actually, just about every catch was great given the conditions.)  Adam mentioned how the Aggies do practice pop-ups with a pitching machine, shooting the ball high into the air, and the players have to make 10 catches in the row.  There was one glaring mental error in the 7th, as #11 LJ Hatch missed first base legging out a double and was called out on an appeal.  The reason its glaring is because this has happened before earlier in this the season apparently.  I shudder to imagine Coach Brian Green’s punishment.           

I need to give the umps a nod.  Home plate was a bit tight and the crowd let him know, but he was consistent.  One of the field umps caught Hornet pitcher, #32 Tyler Beardsley, licking his fingers for grip and gave him a warning.  I’d noticed he’d had a great located 95 mph fastball on the pitch before, where he’d missed badly every time he’d thrown that hard before.  Nice pick up.  (And, of course, catching the missed bag.)

My obvious player of the game is, of course, the Pineapple.  All hail the Rally Pineapple!  Now the Pineapple didn't do it alone.  It's a team sport.  I have to give extra kudos where it is due.  Nice job by the 6th inning Wind.  That Wind made a crucial difference in the game by blowing out to the left.  What can you say about the Wind other than "clutch."  Of the minor supporting cast on the team with their small contributions to the victory, I passing-ly mention #7 Daniel Johnson with his two home runs, driving in 6 of Aggies' 13 runs.  Nice effort there to support the superstars on the team.  All in all, in spite of the cold wind, it was a great three hours at the ballpark.  Ron and I left glowing.

After the game, we went to Jason's Deli for dinner.  (It was delicious.)  One of the perks of the restaurant is that they have sports on their TV.  In this case, they were showing a NCAA Women’s Softball game.  If you’d told me two years ago, I’d be watching a softball game with rapt attention, I’d have chuckled dismissively at you.  “But dude, there are hot chicks playing.”  “What!” my two-younger self would say, “Why didn’t you say so?  Why don’t people tell me these things!”  In this case specifically, UCF pitcher #18 Jamie Ujvari had my attention.  Yikes! 

Then I felt guilty.  The Aggie girls had only been away for a week and here I was cheating on them with another softball team.  (Yeah, but look at her!  Even when she was out of the game, the director kept putting the camera on her.)  Congrats to the Lady Aggies anyway for sweeping KC this weekend to win the conference.  Hey, I looked at my poster schedule.  The Aggies played UCF earlier this season, but in Florida.  Jamie is a Senior.  No chance of ever seeing her in person here.  How cruel is fate.    


Dark Continent Redux: The Last Bridge

Dark Continent Redux
A Fantasy Core Adventure
© Jerry Harris 2016
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Playtest Rules.)

The Last Bridge
No doubt the Players are wondering about their mission.  “What about our next contact?”  “Are we going in the right direction?”  “What’s going on?”  At least, the Characters will now all be fully healed and well-provisioned the next day (give each 2 full Healing potions, 5 days rations, and a waterskin).     

At dawn, they’re personally roused by Colonel Killgore for a little hike.  The river isn’t navigable further up river.  Four hours away by portage path from Inner Station is the narrowest, shallowest part of the river, which is next to Leon Falls.  There is a nearly ruined bridge and two small forts on either side of it, Forts Stanley and LivingstonFort Stanley is on the Characters’ side of the river and is still being held.  The Fort Livingston, on the other side, has been abandoned for the moment.   

During the trip, Killgore will be constantly chatting to the Characters.  “You hero boys faced down a dragon?  I love the smell of dragon breath in the morning.  It really clears up the sinuses.”  He’ll pepper them with questions about their adventures, what they’re doing in Africannes, and “What’s this Kurtz fellow like?  I’ve never actually met the man, but I’m sure he’s magnificent if half of what I’ve heard about him is true.”  Play up that the Commander is not only nuts, but he’s also a fanboy of Kurtz.  (You really should watch Apocalypse Now for help in setting the tone for this scene.) 

No doubt the Players will likely be looking for some means of escape from this chicken outfit.  Unfortunately, they are surrounded by 50 extremely wary troops and are travelling through deep, uncivilized jungle, so desertion is not a wise idea.  If they’re getting truly uncomfortable, you’re doing your job correctly, but you might give them a wink, letting them know this situation isn’t going to be lasting long.   

The Commander and his troops arrive at the fort with the characters in tow.  The troops being relieved are completely shell-shocked from constant attacks.  The Commander’s first task, as he sees it, is to re-take the fort on the other side of the river.  He’ll order a two-pronged frontal assault over the bridge and fording the river at its lowest point.  The troops already at the keep will strongly advise against it (“That’s native territory, sir.  We can’t hold it.”), but he’ll only chastise them for not doing it themselves (“It’s our damn river, son.  It’s already ours!”). 

If the Characters ask around among the local troops about Kurtz (or more likely the troops will ask them about him, hearing from Killgore that they know him), they know that Kurtz is somewhere in the Interior.  Sergeant Randal knows the landscape fairly well.  The only way to get on the trail to Kurtz’s plantation is to get up the Falls and hook up with a friendly native tribe.  However, at the top of the Falls is an old native temple held by unfriendly natives and lead by (slight quiver in his voice) “some demon creatures.”  There is a narrow portage path up the side of the Falls on the other side of the river.  It’s suicide to try it.  There is also a hidden tunnel behind the Falls that leads up to the temple.  It’s guarded by something dangerous.  There’s also another option, which the Sergeant doesn’t know about, that we’ll discuss shortly.

The Colonel asks for volunteers to join him on a recon of Fort Livingston before the attack.  In other words, he orders the Characters to escort him and his guards and personal staff.  If the Players are smart, they’ll recognize this as a great opportunity to escape.  The party will ford the river.  It’s only ankle deep here.  Large stones on the bottom make the crossing fairly easy.  The guards are alert, the aides nervous, and the Characters bewildered, as Killgore strides in front of them, certain of impending victory.        

[This map works for either of the forts.]

The front gate of the small fort has been smashed open.  The inner bailey is partly submerged from a flash flood of the river during the initial attack upon it.  Everything is ominously quiet within.  The keep itself is actually nearly deserted, but for a few dead bodies floating in the water.  Seeing it deserted, Killgore will want to start moving troops over at once and attack the temple at the Falls tomorrow.  Then there is a series of high-pitched shrieks outside overhead.

If you own a copy of Ride of Valkrieyes, this is where to start the music.  Taking off from the top of the Falls, a squadron of 30 red-eyed Chimp-men riding giant bats attack the other fort.  They begin firebombing the battlements with primitive Molotov Cocktails and then dive crapping it for good measure.  A large force of 100 red-eyed Ape-men comes howling down the stone steps of the portage path beside the Falls.  They charge across the low part of the river and begin a frontal attack on Fort Stanley.  Colonel Killgore is flabbergasted.  He and his men begin running for the other Fort.  He tells the Characters to hold this position in a rearguard action and to await reinforcements.  At this point, the Characters are finally back on their own. 

Though investigating Fort Livingston was the trigger for the attack, the flooded keep is actually fairly safe from it.  There aren’t enough troops there to bother attacking it.  How the battle goes on the other side of the river is irrelevant to the Characters’ mission.  They may choose to wait it out, join the battle, or perhaps (hopefully) try to find a way up the waterfall to get to the temple.  While they’re deciding, mention that 6 of the Giant Bats will lose their riders and decide to rest on the fort’s towers.  They seem docile enough and have riding harnesses attached to them.  Hmm.  

[You’re wondering why I’m not providing stats for Killgore (8th level Knight, by the way) and didn’t key the fort map (which was reused from another adventure I’ve posted and isn’t even original either).  Simply, this is a cut-scene encounter.  You’re free to key the map, which is why it’s included.  Perhaps stock some undead troops inside and a few Ape-men and Chimp-men (stats follow in the next encounter) and let the Characters earn a couple of cheap XP.]    

Monday, May 2, 2016

NMSU Aggies vs Sacramento State Hornets Baseball 4-30-16

Today was the “Stuff the Skew” promotion.  $2 tickets were actively sold to the community before the game.  Our business bought 250 of them.  Including ourselves, I saw five employees at the game.  I hope at least some of the remaining tickets got used by somebody.  The official attendance was 810.  I still don’t know how they count that.  It wasn’t stuffed, but there was a really good and interesting crowd present for the game.  (I talk about the crowd, because more than other sports, they are a part of the game in baseball.)  This weekend in Las Cruces also featured a Country music festival downtown (I love you, Bri Bagwell!).  On the road to the stadium, there were signs to a rodeo also taking place on campus.  At the stadium, Ron and I found the street blocked.  Across from the game was the “Convoy of Hope” fair.  I think they were handing out food, but there was also stuff for the kids and they put on a concert, which we could easily hear at the ballpark.  It was a busy weekend in town. 

As usual, there were many attractive young women present (including a co-worker).  Actually, there were even more than usual today, so the promotion worked great as far as Ron and I were concerned.  A couple of NMSU volleyball players were present, also lovely.  The regular “fashionable” girl was there, but disturbingly dressed in the other team’s colors.  Meanwhile, Ron’s nemesis from the softball field, the old man wearing two hats, was there cheering louder and more obnoxiously than anyone.  There was also a large hawk circling the stadium during the game.  I wonder if it’s the same bird that’s been attacking people around campus.  It’s nesting there, but it’s a federally protected bird so they won’t do anything about it.  Well thankfully, he wasn’t a baseball fan and didn’t stick around. 

There were plenty of kids.  One little one was in full military fatigues, complete with a helmet.  Don’t know where he was going after the game.  Another little boy was a full-on, serious cowboy.  He had a number on the back of his vest, so he was probably competing in the rodeo.  A group of Little Leaguers occupied the pavilion next to left field.  I wonder if groups can rent that out.  Sac State also brought a kid with them as their bat boy. 
Broadcaster Adam Young, hustling out of the press box before the game, stopped by us for a second and said, “Hi” and told us that there wasn’t any radio today, since they were doing a TV broadcast.  (Just as well, I discovered my little radio wasn’t charged and was dead.)  Wow!  Me and Ron are now officially regulars at the ballpark.  I wish there had been radio.  The team’s usual pre-game ritual, now seemed to involve venerating a pineapple.  This demands an explanation.  I dubbed it the “Rally Pineapple,” which Ron found rather amusing. 

The large crowd was fairly into the game.  The PA called out “audience participation time” in the 8th while playing Sweet Caroline.  They dropped out the sound during part of the chorus, and the audience chipped in a loud “Bum Bum Bum!”  That was fun, but that’s really a Boston Red Sox tradition.  Anybody else doing it is just carpet bagging.       
I had a moment of friend infidelity.  A guy behind me and Ron was talking knowledgeable baseball the whole time.  He was talking MLB, Aggie baseball, and even Aggie softball.  I briefly considered trying to work a trade with whoever he was talking to for Ron.  Well, good thing I didn’t.  Ron bought pizza afterward, so I think I got the better of the deal sticking with him.  (We went to Zia Pizza.  They changed their crust.  It’s really good, crispy, but chewy.  Highly recommended.  It was so good, we overate and got bellyaches.  Show some restraint.)     

Throwing out the first pitch today was NMSU’s new basketball coach, Paul Weir.  Him and his little son were warming up with the players before taking the mound.  He’s taking over a pretty good program.  Men’s basketball is the only local team that really matters in Las Cruces as he’s about to find out.  Not SEC football-like pressure, but failure will not be tolerated.  Oh, and this opening pitch was brought to you by Ron and mine’s rival bank.  Our bank president was invited to throw out a pitch next week, but turned it down.  Maybe he didn’t want to be sponsored by them either.        

I felt reasonably good about the Aggies’ chances going into the game.  They had won Friday night 14-4 in a run-rule shortened game.  #38 Kyle Bradish worked into some trouble in the first as an opening single ended up at 3rd after a bad throw from the outfield.  A couple of hits brought in a run, but a double play ended the inning.  Aggie scoring started in the 3rd as #7 Daniel Johnson hit a two-run homer, getting the Aggie dugout cheering.  #44 Dan Hetzel drove in another to put the Aggies up 3-1. 

The Hornets tacked on a solo home run the next inning to tighten up the score.  In the bottom of the inning, Johnson would double in another run, making it 4-2 Aggies.  The 6th was decisive.  In the top of the frame, Bradish hit a batter and the ball ricocheted into his face.  I don’t know if there’s any history there, but there was no reason for it to have been intentional otherwise.  The batter and the dugouts got chippy and the finally the ump issued a warning to both teams about retaliation.  In the bottom of the inning, #25 Mason Fishback lead off with a home run that I lost track of that might have gone over the scoreboard.  That one got a gasp from the crowd.  Johnson doubled in another run.  I feel like I just wrote that earlier in this paragraph.  It must have been déjà vu for the Hornets too.  6-2 Aggies. 
After six innings, coach Brian Green, went Kansas City Royals and brought out three relievers to lock down the last three innings.  It worked well.  In the 8th, the Little League team from the pavilion was standing at the rail behind home plate, cheering.  In the 9th, the Aggie dugout was screaming as #27 Joe Galindo ended up striking out the side.  Your final is 6-2.  Aggies win. 

Here’s your stat of the game.  There were no walks issued today.  I had to recheck the scorecard, because I didn’t believe it when I noticed it.  No wonder the game only went 2 hours and 45 minutes and seemed to have great pace.  Let’s eliminate the walk to improve pace of play.  I’m talking to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday.  Seriously though, the players were all either putting the ball in play or striking out.  There were several errors today by both teams, but also several good plays.  The standout was #18 Greg Popylisen making a great jumping catch at the wall in the 3rd.  Bradish also fielded his position well in the 5th, catching a liner, then doubling off a runner at first.  He came out of that inning fired up.      

Can there be any doubt for the player of the game?  #7 Daniel Johnson only went 4 for 5 with 4 RBI’s, including a 2-run homer.  We only have three questions about DJ.  What can we do about his hair?  (Orange Mohawk?)  What can we do about his walk-up music?  (Seriously, the PA played the Beastie Boys’ Fight for Your Right to Party from the 80’s one inning, and it sounded like an opera aria compared to the rap music the players are using.)  And finally, why did Sac State keep pitching to him?  Really, you might to pitch around him with guys on base.  Johnson also had the play of the game, though it didn’t occur on field.  After the game, the Little League players rushed to the fan area next to the Aggie dugout yelling “DJ!  DJ!”  All smiles, Johnson appeared and started signing autographs.  Shoot, I wanted an autograph after that performance.  This is what’s great about baseball.  It brings out the little kid in everybody.   


Dark Continent Redux: Hellion

Dark Continent Redux
A Fantasy Core Adventure
© Jerry Harris 2016
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Playtest Rules.)

Hellion is the immortal guardian of the hidden graveyard of the dragons.  If killed, he will resurrect at the boneyard (and be in a very bad mood).  I’m not going to make up some elaborate mythology to explain this.  It’s just there as far as I’m concerned.  Any further exploration of the mystery is up to you.  The Characters won’t be facing off against a full strength Hellion in the adventure as written.  The stats are provided mostly for possible action at the end, but use him as you will. 

Hellion is a friendly dragon.  Not that he won’t eat you, but his solitary life, his immortality, and his solemn duty, has made him rather lonely.  He’d like nothing better than a chat.  Generally, Hellion has little to fear from talking to anyone and has supreme confidence in his abilities. 

Red Dragon Spellcaster (8th level)
HD 10 (d12), Hp 95 (at full strength), AC 20 (Natural)
Fort +10, Ref +7, Will +8
Melee: Up to 4 Attacks/rd at 4 opponents, bite/claws can be used against the same opponent, but not the tail slap
Bite +7 to hit 3d6
2 x Claws +10 to hit 1d8 each
Tail Slap (vs opponents to the rear) +5 to hit 1d10

Ranged: Can be used up to 3x a day.  Breathe Fire 4d10 + 1d6 continuing damage/rd until smothered, other combustibles in the area are likely ignited as well, 20’ area of effect, DC 16 Ref Save for ½ damage, M range.  It may be used once per encounter automatically, DC 12 Fort Sv to use again in the encounter, DC 18 for a third time.  Requires 1 turn of rest to use again automatically, but still not more than 3x a day.  Breath weapon is a full attack, cannot make melee attacks that rd.

Flight ability.  Wind Blast from the wings to take off will knock down everyone in 30’ radius (DC 18 Ref Sv).  This attack can’t be used in the same rd as melee attacks or breath weapon.  This attack is usually used to escape.

Spellcheck +8, Save Against 16, up to 2 failed Spellchecks/encounter

Cause Fear: One creature of 5 HD or less flees for 1d4 rounds. (Will Sv)
Charm Person: Makes one person your friend. 8 turns. (Will Sv)
Disguise Self: Changes your appearance. 8 turns.  Disrupted if injured, Will Sv to see through it, but only if suspicious.
Expeditious Retreat: Your speed increases by 30 ft. 8 turns.
Identify: Determines properties of magic item.
Magic Missile: 12 impact damage + Knocked down. (Ref Sv all damage) Short range.
Sleep: Puts 4 HD of creatures into magical slumber, 1 turn. (Fort Sv)

Acid Arrow: 12 acid damage + -1 to non-Dex bonus/magic AC. (Ref Sv all damage) Short range.
Glitterdust: Blinds creatures (1 rd), outlines invisible creatures. Fills confined area or 20' sq. Encounter. (Ref Sv)
Scare: Panics targeted creatures of less than 6 HD.  All non-allies in immediate area.  8 turns. (Will Sv)
See Invisibility: Reveals invisible creatures or objects. Encounter.

Clairaudience/Clairvoyance: Hear or see at a distance for 8 rds.  Line of sight, through 1 wall.
Lightning Bolt: 14 electrical damage + Stun 1 rd + Knocked Down. (Ref Sv ½ damage) Medium range.
Suggestion: Compels non-hostile subject to follow stated course of action. 8 turns. (Will Sv)
Wind Wall: Deflects arrows, smaller creatures, and gases. Encounter.

Arcane Eye: Invisible floating eye moves 30 ft./round. 8 turns
Charm Monster: Makes monster believe it is your ally.  Encounter/turn. (Will Sv)
Fear: Non-allied subjects within 40’ flee for 8 turns. (Will Sv)
Hallucinatory Terrain: Makes one type of terrain appear like another (field into forest, plain into lake, or the like). 8 turns. Area is 8 miles.  (Will Sv to disbelieve if suspicious.) 
Ice Blast: Hail deals 16 freezing damage + Stun 1 rd + dropped to last in Initiative. (Ref Sv ½ damage) Medium range.
Illusory Wall: Wall, floor, or ceiling looks real, but anything can pass through. 8 turns. Area is 80’ squared (Will Sv to disbelieve if suspicious.) 
Locate Creature: Indicates direction of creature (specific or type within 1 mile.  Requires a Sympathy.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Dark Continent Redux: The Mine, The Keep, Afterward

Dark Continent Redux
A Fantasy Core Adventure
© Jerry Harris 2016
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Playtest Rules.)

The Mine
Award 1 XP if the Characters recruit the native workers by themselves.

There is a short path up the bluff to the Keep which goes right past the Mine.  The entrance to the iron mine was buried by a landslide, created by the attackers, just after many of the workers had gone in for the day.  As the Characters go up to the Keep to investigate the dragon, a group of miners has finally made their way out of the cave-in.  Emerging are 2 Colonial Overseers (Militia Sergeants armed with swords) and 10 Native Workers (Native Warriors armed with pick axes, 1d6 damage).  Most of the other workers are dead, but there are several wounded inside.  The senior Overseer is Mr. Tindal, part of the local militia, and after seeing the damage in town, he and the other Overseer volunteer to face the threat when it’s described to them. 

If Seeker is with the Characters, he’ll talk the natives into joining them.  Otherwise, they might be enticed to fight.  Their families are not in town, so there’s nothing for them to fight for, except their jobs.  By the same token, they’re only working here to get paid, so their services could be purchased.  One of the natives will know about the dragon from experience.  His name is Hellion.  He comes to his home village to collect a human sacrifice once a year.  He is powerful and fearsome and possibly immortal, according to the tales.  But even when taking his due, he is cordial and friendly.  There are no stories of him engaging in this sort of destruction.  The Colonials didn’t even know there was a dragon in Africannes.  He’s never shown himself to them.  

The Keep
1 XP for running off the dragon.  2 XP for killing the dragon. 

It seems very quiet.  The fire has gone out in the Keep and it is now just smoldering.  The buildings are charred ruins.  There are breaks in the wall, and all of the towers have had their tops broken.  There’s no human life left inside. 

If the group coming to the Keep is not actively trying to be quiet and stealthy, the dragon will be alerted to their presence.  If alerted, Hellion will cast Disguise Self and pretend to be corpse (until disturbed) or a lone survivor.  Otherwise he’ll be lying in the courtyard, sleeping, and clearly badly wounded amongst a pile of dead bodies.  His current stats are Hp 30, no breath weapon left for the day, but he does have his spells.  (This makes the assumption that he’s had at least 1 turn of rest since his attack.  Yes, his hp includes a rest healing.  His full stats are in the following post.) 

What happens next may be more determined by the Players’ disposition and whether this encounter is ending a gaming session or beginning it.  If the Players are itching for a fight, give it to them.  Assuming they’ve got surprise and several (expendable) allies, it should be a stiff fight they can win.  Hellion will try to fly off and escape if reduced below 10 hp.  Ref, don’t worry if they kill him here in this weakened state, this wasn’t meant to be a big fight, and (spoilers) Hellion is going to reincarnate, so they’ll meet him again. 

If this encounter is perhaps taking place at the end of a session and the Players seem the slightest bit sick of fighting, Hellion will address them without appearing to wake up, “You come here for a fight or to talk?  Because talking would certainly be a refreshing change.”  He’ll invite them into the courtyard under a truce.  All of the NPC’s are going to stay away, at least under the pretext of keeping the Characters covered. 

“I’m guessing Kurtz’s attack on the town has failed,” he’ll say, “Are you responsible?”  He’ll laugh if they say “Yes.”  “Well, good for you, heroes.  You know, he told me there wasn’t going to be any serious resistance to someone like me, but you people surprised me.  After meeting Kurtz, I shouldn’t have been surprised about that.  I also shouldn’t have been surprised that he lied to me about the strength of the garrison here.”  Hellion may be willing to divulge some of his story with Kurtz here, if the Characters are nice and attentive.  He might make the connection for them about the attack on the Intended’s townhouse to get the dragon bones back.  It should fairly apparent that Hellion is not really an ally of Kurtz, especially now.

If the Characters have mentioned that they’re out to kill Kurtz, Hellion will say “I think I’ve had enough of Kurtz, too.  It seems unlikely we’ll meet again, but if we do, maybe we’ll have something more. . . substantive to discuss.”  Hellion will rouse finally himself, “I’m gonna leave now.  You wanna call this a truce between me and you people, or do you wanna fight?”  It’s totally up to the Players here.  If they want to fight, I’d suggest having Hellion puke on the Characters while attempting to use his expended breath weapon.  (DC 18 Fort Sv or sickened 1 turn.)  Hellion’s going to attempt to escape if he takes even 10 hp of damage.  And if he doesn’t escape, that’s fine, too.  If the Characters let him leave, they can report that they’ve negotiated truce with the dragon.  The townspeople aren’t to be entirely happy, but given how their day’s gone, they’ll take it. 

Award 3 XP for clearing the town of invaders.  Nice job.  The people here will sing songs about the Characters. 

It’s not unthinkable that the Characters might be the most capable people left alive in town, unless there’s a military officer present.  All of the other accepted community leaders are dead.  The survivors are going to be frightened, if not hysterical.  If the Characters are in charge, they should have some difficult moments as the townspeople will be looking to them for leadership.  Have people asking them questions about what to do, how to organize, are the Possessed Natives coming back, what about the dragon, what do we do with the dead, etc. etc.?  Go ahead and make things uncomfortable and overwhelming for the Players.  Hopefully, they’ll immediately start delegating to anybody left with some leadership skills. 

In the meantime, they’ll get some rest and get fed, though not very well given the state of Inner Station.  The bar owners will be fighting to take care of them and get their endorsement, but make sure that the Characters notice how many other people are in worse shape around them.  Give them a chance to be gallant. 

At the end of the day, a flotilla of reinforcements arrives from Central Station and the surrounding communities.  They are lead by a clearly borderline insane, gung ho commander, Colonel Killgore.  Thankfully, his capable and more practical subordinates will quickly start getting things organized in town, distributing medical aid and food.  Killgore will be led to the heroes of the day, the Characters.  He will be convinced that they were special reinforcements sent by Kurtz, regardless of anything the Characters say.  Killgore will immediately give them commendation medals and field commissions as lieutenants.  In other words, he’s just drafted them.  The Colonel is going to be leading an expedition to relieve the forts at the Falls up river.  “And you hero boys are comin’ with me.”    

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Dark Continent Redux: The Banana Bar, The Port Town Inn, The Temple

Dark Continent Redux
A Fantasy Core Adventure
© Jerry Harris 2016
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Playtest Rules.)

The Banana Bar, The Port Town Inn
2 XP for liberating the area.

Normally, the most heated conflict at Inner Station is the ongoing competition for customers between the Banana Bar, the Golden Horde, and the Port Town Inn.  Given the large number of traders, agents, and military in town, it’s a fierce battle for customers between these three establishments.  The Inn has actual hotel rooms in addition to an upscale bar.  The Banana Bar features the best food in town and the best-looking waitresses.  The Horde has the cheapest drinks and gambling at their bar (it’s also the roughest).

That’s all academic for the moment.  The Golden Horde, in spite of its usual crowd of mercenaries, was not a defensible structure and its patrons have fled to the other bars, including the owner, Hurley.  The Banana Bar was originally a two-story armored blockhouse used while the Keep was being constructed.  While Mr. Merryman, the owner, had done everything possible to the building to make it not look and feel like a fortification, but he’s damn glad to have it at the moment.  Having his bitter rival, Hurley, forced to seek shelter from him, would be a bonus were it not for the circumstances.  5 Colonial Mercenaries (equivalent to Militia Sergeants) are holding the bar with 8 Civilians. 

[If any of the Eldorado Exploration Company somehow survived their encounter with the Characters, have them show up here as some of the Mercenaries.  They will have NO remorse for their previous actions.  “Hey, that was just business.  Today we’re fighting for the colony.”  Feel free to fan the fire and let the sparks fly.]

Mrs. Emily Salon’s Port Town Inn has had the advantage of being a three-story structure and thus the high ground, and has been doubly lucky to have the Marine Lt. Granger set up his troops there.  The Marine unit got split up between the Docks and the Inn when the attack hit.  Besides the Marine Lt, there’s 4 Marine Shieldmen and 2 Sharpshooters inside the Inn with 12 Civilians.    

A macabre smorgasbord of Possessed Native bodies cover an extensive kill-zone between the bar and Inn.  Both Colonial groups had a good arsenal with them and have shot at any enemy passing by.  The Possessed troops are making a final rush at the bars.  10 Giant Possessed Natives lead by 4 Witch Doctors are attacking the Banana Bar, while 10 Pygmy Possessed Natives are keeping the Marines busy.  As usual, none of the Possessed will be expecting an attack from the rear and will not respond in force to it.  If you’re not looking to roll everything out, assume 1 Mercenary, 1 Giant, and 2 Pygmies are killed every rd.           

After combat, the bar owners, patrons, mercenaries, and soldiers come out to thank the group.  The Temple bell ominously stops ringing.  Any mercenaries left will stay with the civilians, but the soldiers will immediately want to go to relieve the Temple.  The Players will probably want to rest their Characters, but there’s no time for it.

The Temple
2 XP for liberating this area.

This would seem like an odd area for a religious structure.  It was built after the bars, probably placed to service the nearby troops and encamped natives.  Perhaps it was also meant to be a small warning to the notorious debauchery in the area.  (The Temple also took the place of a proposed dedicated “companionship” facility.) 

It’s also a large, sturdy structure.  Soldiers, retreating from the Keep, immediately took the Temple as the most defensible position.  Several colonists and natives took refuge, praying and hoping for the best.  Unfortunately, all these occupants have made the Temple a target for the Possessed.  It has been under heavy, repeated attacks.  The colonists have been ringing the bell, trying to draw help.     

The last of the defenders have finally fallen as the Temple bell stops ringing.  25 Colonists and natives are left inside and, unable to effectively fight, are being rounded up by 10 Possessed Natives and 1 Witch Doctor, and are being taken out of the building.  The main problem here will be the civilians, as they are essentially hostages and in the way of any area spells.  Called Shot rules may also be in effect.  As Possessed troops are killed, the civilians will be able to get away. 

Finally, whatever Colonial troops are there will want to go to the Keep and see about the dragon.  Let everyone get a 1 turn rest. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Dark Continent Redux: The Military Pier and The Estates

Dark Continent Redux
A Fantasy Core Adventure
© Jerry Harris 2016
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Playtest Rules.)

The Military Pier and The Estates
2 XP for liberating the area.

Many of the local Militia were out drilling with some regular Commonwealth troops when the attack came.  They were caught out in the open by a massive ambush.  Those that stood and fought were massacred.  The ones that ran to the Military Blockhouse and to the Estates were able to survive.  They were joined by the private mercenary guards at the Estates.  Together, this relatively fortified area has been able to hold out.  At the Military Pier, the war galley there was set ablaze and sunk by the Watchtower Witch Doctors.  That shot kept the other ships from even trying to run that blockade.  Being a low value target for captives, Kurtz’s orders have been to simply put the area under siege.  After everywhere else has been pacified, they’ll overrun them later.

The cordon is a loose skirmish line to just keep the troops pinned down.  Though they are in easy bow range, the defenders are saving their arrows for a rush.  There are 20 Possessed Natives, 2 Possessed Witch Doctors, and 5 Giant Possessed Natives.  They are not expecting an attack from the rear, so they will easily be caught by surprise.  The Giants will be moved to engage the Characters, the rest won’t break ranks until the Characters attack them.

The small Blockhouse by the pier is used by the military.  It is a minor fortification.  Currently, the military galley tied to the dock is sunk, and there are  
dead soldiers propped up on the parapets to make it look better defended.  Inside, 4 Enlisted Soldiers, 1 Sergeant, and 1 Divine Specialist are holding the position. 

The Estates are two-story fortified homes with small courtyards.  Their occupants are as follows. 

a)     1 Lieutenant, 1 Arcane Specialist, 2 Native Warriors (Mercenaries), 6 Civilians.
c)      4 Native Warriors (Mercenaries), 1 Militia Sergeant, 2 Civilians.

The Archers and the Wizard will aid the Characters with ranged attacks.  If the group can kill off about half of the besieging troops, the Lt. will call out for a charge (with a bugle), and the defending troops will come out mop up the rest of the Possessed Natives.  After the battle, Lt. Hayden and the Estate owners will thank the Characters.  The Lieutenant, after a 1 turn rest, will want to take his Paladin and the Wizard up the road to the Temple area (the bell is still ringing), with the remaining troops guarding the Civilians.  He’ll want the Characters to join him.  (The Paladin will give 1 full healing to a wounded Character.)

Things have been pretty hectic, but surely one of the Players will remember that they were supposed to meet with the Captain Verity on a military galley.  Hopefully, their Characters will ask about her, putting two and two together with the galley and the military facility.  Alas, the soldiers in the blockhouse saw the captain and crew go down with the ship.  That feeling the Players will be experiencing when you tell them this should be anxiety along with some symptomatic confusion and nervousness.  But, they’ll have to live with it until things are settled in town.