Last night was our Thursday night fantasy RPG romp, currently our Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG night. Last time we ran 0 level characters through the funnel that was Sailors on the Starless Sea. I wanted to have a bit of a break between sessions, so we assumed that the characters, on the run from the Inquisition, lost themselves in the Great City to the south, and learned their trade in the intervening time. They agreed to meet one another at the ruins of their old village in a year.
I still wanted to give the players some hand in what adventure they stumbled into next, so I asked them if they were still set on meeting at the burned out village, and most of them expressed the desire to do so.
Had they not done so, I had a couple of other options ready to go. They could have headed into the Perils of the Sunken City adventure, since I set them in the Great City and seeded them with the knowledge of the Sending Stone and the adventurer culture around it. I was also ready to have the mercenary captain that the party impressed last time around hire the group to head up north to check on some relatives in Hirot.
But, the group wanted to stick to meeting in the old village. Unfortunately, half the group had horses, and the other half didn't, and they all left the Great City separately. For each group, I had the player assign a navigator and a scout. Each one made a check to see if they got lost, and if they avoided trouble.
If nothing else, this exercise seemed to reinforce the wisdom of traveling in larger groups, and running away from big nasty things that you don't really need to fight.
The nobleman cleric from the first group to set out hired a retainer to guard him. They managed to run into a giant skunk halfway through their travels, which sprayed their equipment and more or less ruined all of it. However, the skunk also made it more likely that the group would have yet another encounter before hitting the village, and that encounter came at night, in he form of a pair of goblins. The retainer ended up falling asleep, and one of the goblins murdered the thief in his sleep, but the goblins were quickly dispatched by the hireling and the nobleman, and they made it to the village.
The next group ended up running into a troll. Unfortunately, not only are trolls nasty and vicious, but the troll got the drop on he group and went first, and one of the party members, as well has his horse, were ripped to shreds by the troll. The second character declined to aid his fallen friend, and rode hard and fast away. The surviving character had the horrid luck of running into an ogre, but thankfully, ogres aren't nearly as fast or as cunning as trolls, and at least one character rode into the burned out village alive.
Three groups managed to make it to the village without any particular issues, although one of those groups of travelers, on foot, wandered around for about a week longer than the rest, and miss the initial fun at the village (more on that later).
All of the groups that arrived at the same time managed to notice an ambush set up by a rival adventuring company. Said adventurers had been tracking the elf and his magical ring for months, overheard his plans, and managed to arrive in the village faster than most of the individual groups. The earliest to arrive were fairly oblivious to the adventurers, but the elf noticed them fairly quickly upon his arrival.
The rival adventuring company, the Company of Fortuitous Placement, were being led by a mad wizard that wanted the ring carried by the party's elf. Of special note is the poor, much beleaguered Sred the Vicious, the point man for the ambushing adventurers, who looked like Boromir in the Fellowship of the Ring with all of the arrows and bolts sticking out of him before he finally reached the party.
The party does not appear to be especially good at hiding. The thief, attempting to find cover multiple times, rolled multiple ones. The brave noble cleric also attempted to hide, but after rolling rather pathetically, his retainer pointed out, "boss, I think they can still see you."
The cleric, battling Father Ordus of the Nameless Faith, managed to case paralysis on his sword, and then did enough damage to kill Ordus in one shot, meaning that he cast paralysis by cutting Father Ordus' spine in half.
The elf engaged he mad wizard intent on his ring in a spell duel, and managed to get the fabled Phlogiston Distortion result as he countered his opponents spell. This went . . . interestingly . . . for both characters. The elf began to gain weight, started to grow a beak, got cloven hooves, had his hair turn jet black, and started coursing with blue magical energy. The wizard set his own face on fire and now had a black skull for a face, and passed out.
The rest of the party cut down the rival adventurers, except for the ambushing thief, who ran like hell to get away from the group. Then the wizard managed to case one hell of a magic missile at the elf, who should have been blown to bits, but after the wizard was killed, it turned out the elf just had a flesh wound. Still, that was one hell of a magic missile.
After this resolved, the party waited to see if any of their other companions made the trip to the burned out village, and once the last of their friends arrived, they were surprised to see a column of holy knights and the inquisitor approach them under a flag of truce.
The group's charismatic warrior headed out to talk to them, and the elf covered up head to toe, just in case. The party thief darted into the shadows, and the inquisitor explained that he had received a portent from his god. He was instructed to give the group one more chance to purge Chaos from the world, by investigating a rift to the south, for which he would pay the party well and provide them with a writ declaring them free of any heretical charges.
The party accepted, after making sure that the elf would get a special writ explaining that he certainly wasn't the victim of evil Chaos taint, and the group set out for the rift, and thus, next session, we start playing The People of the Pit.
I'm pretty happy to hear that most of my players were talking about how much fun they had in the session. That's all you can really hope for as a GM.