So let’s meet the players!
Gavriil, a Neutral Good Human White Mage Arcanist…which basically means he is a blend of a sorcerer and wizard, and due to his White Mage archetype can sacrifice a spell to cast a Cure spell of the same level or lower like a Cleric.
Elysia, a Chaotic Good Half-Elf Ranger who has spent some time monster-hunting, and used to be part of a group of bounty-hunters.
Noruas, a Chaotic Neutral Human Musketeer Gunslinger hailing from Silver Mount in Numeria.
Eneko, a Chaotic Neutral Human Songhealer Bard who has been learning a bit about healing and forming harmful noises with his songs.
Last night we gathered together for the first session of Kingmaker, and I must admit I had a blast. After a majority of running and playing games online through chat systems, a good online video chatting session was quite refreshing and new. That bit aside, lets get down to the nitty-gritty details.
The party received a charter from the sword-lords of Restov to explore the Stolen Lands, and in particular an area known as the Greenbelt. Those traveling through the region have reported encounters with bandits, and as such the charter has given the party full authority to serve as judge jury and executioner for those practicing ‘unrepentant banditry.’ Upon this particular day, the group was arriving at Oleg’s Trading Post, the last sign of civilization before the unexplored wilderness that was their destination. It had been suggested to them that they restock there at the post before continuing onwards, and so they arrived to meet Oleg and his wife Svetlana.
Oleg and Svetlana quickly informed the group about the issued they’d been having with the local bandits, who as luck would have it were due to come back for their ‘tax’ payment the next morning. Although the majority of the party listened to their troubles with reasonably unmoved hearts, Eneko the Bard was much more sympathetic, and offered the group’s services. After some discussion, a plan was made. The party spent the rest of the day making preparations– digging a pit near the storeroom, preparing a net trap to spring on the unsuspecting bandits, and talking about combat positions for the next day. During this time, Noruas made it perfectly clear that she thought Oleg and Svetlana should take care of their issues themselves instead of looking for outside help to deal with their problems.
As the day wound down, Svetlana brought out drinks and the group talked a little. She chatted with Eneko for a little while, and attempted to talk with Gavriil, but the Arcanist did not seem to be much for chatting. Elysia and Noruas busied themselves talking for a time, before the group went to bed for the night.
Waking upon the morn, they prepared for the coming bandit raid, taking up predetermined positions. The morning was foggy, but it soon began to clear up. It gave the group a bit of a hard time in spotting the bandits arriving, but they were able to get enough advanced warning to get off some buff spells and move back into position. The bandits arrived, three hapless mooks and a cruel looking man who rode in a wagon which Oleg had informed the party was for transporting the bandits ‘tax collections.’ Upon seeing the bandit formation, Gavriil opened up the battle by beginning to cast a Sleep spell upon the bandit’s leader, who they later learned was Happs Bydon. With about half the party going before the bandits in initiative, the entire party gaining a surprise round, and the preparations made the previous day, the bandits really had no chance. The only attack the bandits were able to get off between a sleep spell, pit trap, net, and grease spell, was a single critical hit on Oleg, who managed to survive the attack with only a single hit point remaining.
In the aftermath, the group had a single bandit to interrogate, which they were only all to happy to do. Svetlana, upon finding that her husband Oleg was gravely wounded, begged the party to use some healing potions that she had graced them with the night before in order to help her husband. Gavriil was quick to inform Svetlana that all the potions had been unfortunately used during the combat. No such thing had happened of course, as the PC’s took absolutely no damage, but Svetlana had not been keeping an eye on the fighting and didn’t know any better.
Eneko and Gavriil took over questioning their prisoner, while Noruas took to rifling through Happs Bydon’s person and claiming the wagon and two horses he brought with him. Elysia flitted between the interrogation and looting, assisting a little with both. From the bandit, whose name they quickly learned was Gary (I didn’t expect to have to name him!), the group was able to locate the remaining three horses that the bandits rode in on and kept a short distance away from the fort. They also asked him about a silver amulet in the shape of a stag which was worn around the neck of Happs Bydon. Gary was able to tell them that he wasn’t sure what it was, but that Kressle, the leader of his little gang of bandits, had a similar amulet that she wore. With the fight finished, and the spoils collected, the group sold off some of the bandit’s equipment to the trading post and headed off out into the Greenbelt to begin their exploration.
SARAH, DON’T READ THIS!
So, as the words above might indicate, Sarah is one of my players, and as such she reads what I write…but because some of what I write is for the GM and non-players to hear about, she’ll just have to get used to not being able to read everything. This section is for my musings as a GM on the events of the session, how things went, and any foreshadowing I choose to indicate to others.
My first observation comes with the composition of the party. Some of my players have expressed concerns over the fact that they are without anyone who can dish out a large amount of healing on command, such as what a Cleric or second level Paladin might be able to provide. As it was proven in this session, with the proper application of tactics and lucky rolls, someone who is dedicated to healing is not needed. Indeed, the party actually came away with more healing than they had available to them after deciding to keep the healing potions that Svetlana had given them.
Which brings me to my next point– I will be spending the next few sessions getting used to having a party that is not primarily good-motivated. During my last campaign, with the exception of one player who was chaotic-stupid, the party was primarily operating on the Good side of the alignment spectrum. During this session, I dealt with party members who were mostly disinterested in aiding these poor traders who were beset by bandits, who lied about the usage of healing potions in order to keep them for themselves, and who also interrogated and then allowed Oleg, who had a genuine bloodlust for killing these bandits, execute the last bandit taken prisoner. Poor Gary was begging and sobbing for mercy, yet when done getting information out of him he was disposed. I’m totally fine with them doing this, however it will definitely take some adjusting to get into the mindset of PC’s who aren’t motivated primarily by a wish to do good.
Now I have decided to use a random weather generator for my campaign, to help add to the atmosphere of the game. I found a helpful tool for this at Donjon that decided to give me a foggy day the morning the bandits arrived. It suggested that this give a penalty to ranged attacks made from greater than five feet away…because the entire party uses ranged weapons instead of melee (though most if not all of them carry some kind of secondary melee weapon), I felt this might be too much of a hindrance to the group for their first encounter, and so I limited its effect to simply making it harder for them to tell when the bandits were approaching.
Finally, I want to touch upon something that surprised me, but I suppose only makes sense from the group that I’m running for. During the interrogation, an obvious question came up– where did you come from? The party learned that there is a bandit camp somewhere in the nearby forest, where Kressle and about seven others are camped out. In an attempt to be useful and thus secure his life, Gary offered to show the group the way to the camp. He was immediately shot down with a cry of “No! We don’t want to go near the camp, we want to stay as far away from it as possible!”
The party decided to leave the trading post as soon as they were done dealing with the bandits that morning, excited to begin their exploration. It sounds as though they care little for what happens to Oleg’s trading post in the long run, and simply find it useful for the moment as a place to sell their treasure. They definitely didn’t sound interested in hunting down the rest of the bandits from Gary’s camp and putting a stop to their banditry, at least for the moment. The book suggests that if the party does not visit the bandit camp within a certain number of days, that the bandits will have heard what happened to their men, and will be prepared for the PC’s should they arrive at the camp. As well, it says that they may even decided to mount a full attack on Oleg’s trading post, either to plunder it in its entirety or to simply burn it to the ground. I am loathe to burn it down as a first option, so perhaps the next time the group returns to the trading post, they’ll hear from Oleg that a group of bandits showed up, shouted threats at him for hanging their buddies’ corpses along the wall, and promised to come back with even more men to teach them a lesson….