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  • Pugmire Campaign(s) Log

    The other thread where people were posting their campaigns was pretty dead, and I'm going to be running two games myself, so I figured I'd just start a new thread so people can read about how it plays if they're interested.

    First session today will consist of Sparky Staffordshire (Worker Stray Soldier with Unarmored Defense), Jaekar Mutt (Mutt Hunter Soldier with Natural Explorer (Forest)), "Scruff" Bloodhound (Herder Guardian Merchant with Fighting Style: Defensive Style who is deliberately modeled after Scruff McGruff), Charlotte Cavalier-Spaniel (Companion Artisan Noble with Focus Magic), and Rowan Belgian-Tervuren (Herder Shepherd Sage with Prayers to Man). The sixth member of the party, Mara Shibainu (Runner Ratter Merchant with Precise Attack) unfortunately can't make it today.

    The PCs are going to be hired by Chet Goldenretriever, a member of the Guard, to investigate bandits which have been raiding tax caravans coming in from the Hound Estates. Specifically, the taxes are needed to fund new wells and maintain bridges between Pugmire and many of its smaller outlying settlements, and the work is being stalled because of the bandits.

    I'm not sure whether they'll go investigating on their own or take the easy offer of just tagging along on a caravan until it's attacked. If the latter, there's a brief combat encounter on a forest road where it will be very clear that the bandits are not trying to die over this money, they'll retreat as they're injured and stop fighting to pull fallen comrades away from the battle. Eventually the bandits will ask for a ceasefire (however the PCs encounter them) so that they can talk things over. They'll meet the bandit leader, Sam Dachshund, who will explain that their land has been less and less productive every year, and they've had to turn to banditry just to survive. From there, it will be up the PCs how they want to continue. Jaekar and Sparky both explicitly had backstories relating to caring about impoverished blue collar dogs, Rowan is actually adventuring because she's undergoing a crisis of faith about what "Good Dog" even means, and Scruff is all about bringing criminals to justice, so there should be lots of opportunities for the party to debate the best course of action.

    If they choose to investigate further, they can find a human ruin - a former power plant - that is leaking Something Bad into the soil upstream from the village. There's no immediate way to seal it, and even if there was, the poison is already in the ground - whether or not they stop the contamination from spreading further, they'll still have to deal with the immediate moral conundrum.

    Tonight or tomorrow I'll post how it goes, I'm really optimistic. I think this is going to be a great game.

  • #2
    Went great! The party asked some good questions, scouted out a likely ambush spot, joined a caravan to guard it. The combat was a little tougher than I originally intended - I statted the bandits as Guardians and Hunters with a standard array and 0 Tricks. The bandits rolled a little well, the party rolled a little poorly, and 1st level characters are *fragile.* If I went back and wrote this again, I might have had the bandits roll attacks with 0 Aptitude bonus to make it a little easier. Fortunately, the Artisan was able to cast Sleep twice and that changed the balance of the fight quickly, plus none of the bandits were fighting to the death (if they had been, PCs probably would have died or risked death anyway). Inflict Light Wounds is pretty great, too. Rowan used Thaumaturgy to make a loud reverberating howl, I ruled that this let her make an untrained Intimidate check using Wisdom instead of Strength, which I think was a good improvised use of the spell.

    They beat the bandits up enough that the bandits asked for a truce, agreed to, the party was taken to the village and met Sam. Sam explained the issue. The party asked to see the fields, the Hunter made some rolls to figure out that something was wrong with the soil specifically, and that the problem clearly got worse in the fields further north. They rested overnight in the village, although Scruff was pretty uncomfortable staying in a village full of criminals. He was pretty adamant that crime was still bad even after the other PCs softened on the story, which was good - it provided a fun bit of tension within the party.

    Hunter made a good Survive roll, found a caved-in tunnel, they cleared it and found the ruins with the oozing toxic waste. The Shepherd was IMMEDIATELY adamant that they not go inside - there were in two fact two Old One corpses, relatively well preserved (think Pompeii), and she thought it was too important to the Church to risk destroying any of the information. The party argued for a while about whether to enter or not, they agreed that a sample of the ooze would help them make the case for the village. They debated lying on behalf of the villagers, saying that the bandits were one problem and this village was separate, but Scruff refused to go along with that. He was okay with the party asking for leniency on behalf of the villagers, but he said they had to make a true report of what they found. He swayed the Shepherd to his side, so they went with that. She entered the gate of the ruin just barely, just enough to get a sample of the ooze in a vial (Scruff rolled high on his Wis check for having a glass vial with him), and came back out. Rowan and Jaekar played hot potato with the vial a little arguing who should carry it, all being very careful because they could smell it was Bad.

    They told the villagers about it. Sam was pretty depressed but understood that they would have to move away, even if this village had been their home for a long time. Rowan said the Church should be able to help them, the party agreed to argue for leniency given the situation, and Sam accepted that he may have to face punishment, but he hoped the rest of the village would be allowed to resettle. Jaekar made a roll with his Free Dog background and I decided he knew of a few Stray/Mutt camps nearby that lived off the land, not as bandits, but also not as part of Pugmire. He told Sam about them so the villagers would have other options to resettle. I also reassured the party that capital punishment was rare in Pugmire, exile or long-term imprisonment would be a possibility for the leader of the bandits and the rest would probably face short-term imprisonment at worse. All things that would make the village more impoverished, but no one was likely to die.

    I also somewhat arbitrarily decided that Pugmire had a roughly modern American legal system? I guess? I kind of did that on the fly. Anyway, given the situation Chet said he would help the villagers get in contact with some good barristers he knows. Sister Snowy reverently took the vial for the sages and shepherds to examine. The party is going to get their reward (one weapon, armor, or shield each, plus some plastic coins) and everyone is going to hit level 2. Whole session took about 3 hours once we started for real, and honestly, it was super fun.

    The initiative system of having each person pick the next person to go was a little non-intuitive for most of us coming off of 3.X/Pathfinder. I might go back to a "normal" initiative system in the future. Ammo rolls worked great, I think we all liked that. Spells felt powerful and high-impact, but ran out quickly, which was fun. Enemies are a bit more lethal than I expected, so I really hope the final book has rules for NPC classes like 3.X had Warrior and Expert and all of that, or just more examples of weaker dog enemies than are in the base book so far. I want more monsters for sure, but I also want more antagonist NPC dogs.

    I'll add more thoughts if I think of any, but overall that's a pretty good report. Everyone had fun, they really got into arguing the ethics of the situation and dealing with how reverently or irreverently they needed to treat the Old Ones ruins, and I think this is going to be a great campaign.

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    • #3
      Glad to hear you guys are having a good time!

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      • #4
        Alright, and yesterday I had the first session of my OTHER Pugmire group that I'm running. Sonja Mutt (Mutt Merchant Stray), uncharismatic child of a merchant family whose marriage went south, leading her to travel the land as muscle for hire; Harvey Corgi (Herder Criminal Hunter), an ex-smuggler between dog and cat lands playing on the boundary between ratter and hunter in personality and abilities; Tychus Staffordshire (Runner Free Dog Ratter), devoted to fighting monsters and also on sort of the hunter/ratter border, but coming from the other direction; Wilson Sheltie (Pointer Sage Artisan), obsessed with the mysteries of humanity, whose focus is a flash drive he clicks in and out as a nervous tic; and Fritz Pomeranian (Companion Noble Guardian), a younger child of a noble family raised to serve the Church of Man and quite full of himself. Amongst other things, Fritz asked for a statue of himself as a reward for the quest. He was denied. Unfortunately, the party was missing their healer today, a Hound Shepherd (Herder Acolyte).

        The party was assembled by Bernar Corgi, Wilson's mentor as an artisan, and Apollo Sloughi, a relatively high-ranking priest in the Church of Man. They knew of the location of a map to an ancient human library, but it was hidden in ruins that were a little too close to cat lands for Pugmire to send official representatives without sparking diplomatic issues. Not technically trespassing, but just on the border of it. Still, with access to an intact Library of Man at stake, it was important that they make the attempt, so they hired the party to retrieve it. They also knew of an Unseen which dwelled in the ruins, and told the party of a cat witch in the swamp nearby who might be willing to help them defeat it.

        The party set out for cat lands, I had them all roll Stealth or Survive to avoid running into a cat patrol. One party member rolled a 4, so they did in fact meet some cat guards. Talking their way out of the mess was looking pretty bad, in part because of Fritz's arrogance, in part because Harvey and Tychus preferred to hide in the woods rather than engage at all. However, once the party brought up the witch, the cats decided it wasn't worth their time - they didn't want to mess in the witch's business. The party was allowed to go on their way.

        They met Maggie in a swamp, curled up in a large hut (actually designed as a cat tree). She knew their quest and knew what they would need to defeat this demon, but first forced them all to agree to give her a boon at a later date. The party made some knowledge checks to get extra information on cat witches like her - as I described it, they're essentially unpredictable free agents, no loyalty to the cat cities, more like hermits, and they tend to ask for tasks rather than treasure in exchange for their aid. The party agreed and she gifted them a scroll with a ritual on it. The Unseen in this ruin possessed ancient human artifacts, and was impossible to destroy because it would simply jump to the next artifact. With the ritual, however, they could trap it in a specific item just as they destroyed it.

        Fritz also tried to force Maggie to say "I, Maggie, Cat Witch, am hereby under the protection of Fritz Pomeranian." She turned her back and ignored him.

        The party found the ruin, which was basically a rundown studio apartment. After they entered, a roomba screamed to life, Frightening two dogs which failed their Wisdom saves. This drove them closer to a television, which made Fritz fall asleep, and a refrigerator, which attacked with a cone of cold damage. As the TV took damage, the demon hopped into a golem created of LEGO pieces, which rolled maximum damage on a slam attack and took Tychus from full to 0 health in one blow. Fortunately, he rolled exactly 15 on his stabilization check and was back up the next round. The Artisan tried to roll a knowledge check for weaknesses of the refrigerator, and I decided he exposed some ductwork that was a weak spot and gave the entire party Edge on attack rolls. (In retrospect, I could have just had him use the Help action, but this worked well thematically.) The party focused fire on the refrigerator and, with the ritual, destroyed it and trapped or destroyed the demon (intentionally left ambiguous, in case I want to bring it back).

        Exploring the ruin, they found a sock, some dust bunnies, and an item matching Wilson's focus - a flash drive. No map, at least not in a form they recognized. They retrieved the roomba, TV, and a desktop computer in the room to bring back to the sages for study. Harvey tried to pocket the flash drive, but Sonja gave him an elbow while they were meeting with Bernar and Apollo for him to return it. Bernar explained that, he had never told Wilson this because it was only rumors and hearsay, but he had heard that humans used to somehow store information on these small devices. Perhaps the map is on the device itself. Of course, now they have to find a way to access that information...

        One note: I realize Fritz might come off even more pompous than he was in text, but everyone in the party thought it was hilarious, fun roleplaying. Very overbearing paladin played for comedic effect, especially since he's a tiny little pomeranian. At some point here I'm going to post a few of the character backstories, a few of the players wrote some very impressive stuff.

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        • #5
          Not trying to be that guy but wouldnt the ratter 'Tychus Staffordshire be a worker breed and not a runner ?

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          • #6
            He can be whatever breed he wants to be.

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            • #7
              Eh, I actually thought it was a weird pick too. Especially since I have a player playing a Worker Staffordshire in the other party. But at the end of the day the two parties are never going to directly cross paths, and it was what the player wanted, so I just rolled with it. I told my players I have a few hard lines insofar as like, don't make a Chihuahua a Worker, but besides that I'm mostly letting them assign breeds however they like.

              I've actually been laughing about the fact that for all my GM experience and general tabletop knowledge, I know almost nothing about dogs and am therefore a hilarious fit to run this particular game. But it's going well overall.

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              • #8
                We've had THREE sessions since I updated this last, so I have a lot to report!

                The Sunday party, that is the group with the bandits and the Human ruin oozing toxic waste:

                For their second session, the group was joined by Mara Shibainu, a Ratter with a shady past and a heart of gold (she's... basically Shiba Han Solo). Sister Snowy and Chet told the party of a ruin, a University of Man, that Pugmire had known about for some time but been unable to explore or excavate due to the presence of several badgers in the area. However, texts speak of an ancient human version of alchemy, "Chemistry," that they believed may be useful in mitigating the damage from the toxic waste that the party had recently encountered. The party was sent to explore the university, find as much about chemistry as they could - textbooks, kits, anything - and return.

                Party heads out, fights a group of badgers on basically what used to be the campus quad. I used ferrets and weasels for skirmishers, and a badger statted as basically a 5e Berzerker. Ferrets and weasels tried to flee, but the badger fought to the death. It was pretty dangerous, too, a couple party members came close to dropping. They focused fire on the badger, which I can see the reasoning at the time, but also meant that they were getting peppered with arrows the entire time that they might have been able to avoid. At any rate, they wound up with two weasel hostages after the fight was over, interrogated them quite a bit. The badger bands in the area were loosely organized, with not a lot of contact between them - usually more competitive than cooperative. Some Knowledge checks filled in background on Badger society on the whole. The party really wanted to try to get some move to negotiate safe passage or similar, but the badgers were just too disjointed for anything like that to work. Finally they just let their captives go and moved on.

                They found a signpost with ancient human runes. Both the Shepherd and the Artisan made Know Arcana checks, fortunately the Shepherd succeeded (I think it was a Triumph, too). The signpost clearly labeled buildings: CHEMISTRY, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, HISTORY, and BOTANY. (The party joked EXTENSIVELY about how no university has ever had a map that good or been that easy to navigate. Seriously. That joke went for the entire rest of the session).

                They went to Chemistry first, and, as luck would have it! No badgers were present. They found an intact human chemistry lab, full of still sealed chemical testing kits, old textbooks - everything you would need to run a Chem 101 sort of course, which was exactly what the dogs would need to get started. The party grabbed everything they could carry, with some debate between Scruff and Mara on one hand and Rowan (Shepherd) on the other hand about how fastidiously they had to treat human artifacts.

                The party debated for a bit if it was worth trying any other buildings or not, and decided to check out Botany. If the plants were being poisoned, maybe human plant science would be relevant? Upon encountering, they found a completely overgrown building, barely any of the original surfaces visible. Some Notice checks revealed a hulking plant creature hiding in the mass, along with some sort of aggressive fungi. The party was about to fight, and then someone realized they could probably outrun the plants. They had what they originally came for. Scruff wanted to fight because he's Scruff, it went to a literal vote, 4-2 they ran. They returned, Chet and Snowy were amazed by the bounty they brought back, end session.

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                • #9
                  Oh, in that group:
                  Charlotte (Artisan) picked up Heroism and Disguise Self for 2nd level. AFTER the above session, she took Encouragement.
                  Yaekar (Hunter) took Archery. AFTER the above session, he refined Archery for the second attack as a bonus action.
                  Mara (Runner Ratter) took Instinctive Dodge. AFTER the above session, she took Bypass.
                  Rowan (Shepherd) took +1 Con and Persuade. AFTER the above session, she took Command and Sacred Fire.
                  Sparky (Stray) took Rage. AFTER the above session, she refined Rage for +4 damage on attacks.
                  and Scruff (Guardian) took +1 Str and Search. Scruff missed the 3rd session, so he hasn't chosen his next advancement yet.

                  Other group:
                  Wilson (Artisan) took Magic Missile and Grace.
                  Shirley (Herder Shepherd) took Smell the Unseen.
                  Fritz (Companion Guardian) took Smell the Unseen.
                  Harvey (Hunter) took +1 Dex and I homebrewed a Streetwise skill (nothing really felt like it fit the sort of Knowledge Local/Streetwise feel similar games have had).
                  Tychus (Ratter) refined Precise Attack to use Sneak as a Bonus Action.
                  Sonja (Stray) took Indomitable Will.

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                  • #10
                    Party rewards from the university mission:
                    Sparky: Helm of Intimidation, +2 Intimidate
                    Yaekar: Flashlight with white, red, and strobe settings
                    Rowan: Artifact healing ointment, replenishes every day, heals once/day for d12+5.
                    Charlotte: Circlet of Spell Power, +1 spell slot/day.
                    Mara: Expert ratter's tools, +2 to all Steal checks to deal with locks, traps, etc.
                    Scruff: TBD since he didn't make it to the 3rd session.

                    3rd session of that first group was a little different, time to pick up a different plotline. Still Snowy and Chet giving them the mission, though. At this point, they trusted the party to be... discrete with sensitive matters, so to speak. There were rumors of a Shepherd in a medium farming village, Bluemeadow, teaching some... unorthodox doctrine. Snowy didn't want to tell the party exactly what because it was all hearsay and she didn't want to bias their report, but she needed them to investigate. For the record, I called Bluemeadow one of the larger settlements outside of Houndton, Waterdog Port, and Pugmire. I told the party it was around 900-1500 dogs, the way I'm imagining Pugmire that's "big" for an outlying community. I'm kind of hoping the final book will tell me if I'm wrong.

                    So the party travels there uneventfully, they meet the Shepherd who seems perfectly friendly. He chats for a bit, Rowan says she's visiting because she's interested in learning from different people about the Code (true to her backstory) and she heard he had interesting things to say. The party was just her "friends." Billy Goldenretriever, the shepherd, more or less bought this story. He had to go deal with some things, but he invited them to listen to a sermon the next day. (Hysterically, I planned ahead for them breaking into his house, or tracking his movements, or attacking him - I did not plan ahead for them... asking to attend a service).

                    So the party heads to the tavern and winds up drinking hard at 4 in the afternoon, which was hilarious. A couple Notice checks reveal someone nearby talking about how the Shepherd told him the words of "the Prophet" and it helped him sort his life out, basically. Rowan didn't score a particularly high Know Religion check, but I figured some things would be basic Shepherd training - some past leaders of the Church of Man are sometimes referred to as prophets, usually after their death, many of them left writings of course, but no one person is consistently referred to as "The Prophet." So the party was suspicious, but wasn't sure how to just directly ask folks. Yaekar and Sparky are both Soldiers and we'd previously ruled they were in the same squad, so they spent a point of Fortune to say that a husky at the bar was an old friend of theirs from the military. They decided her military nickname was "Snowpaws," because my players are terrible. So they go over to chat with her for a bit, she jokes about settling down and even enjoying farming life - she's thinking of having pups, can they even believe it? We had some fun roleplaying BS chitchat between old army buddies. Since we're playing over Roll20, Rowan, Mara, and Charlotte kept a separate hilarious thread running about Rowan being drunk and flirting with literally every member of the party. Oh, Rowan made everyone flower crowns on the 3-day walk to Bluemeadow, too. Most of the party was still wearing theirs.

                    So after they get the friendship going again, Sparky and Yaekar ask Snowpaws about the religious stuff going on. She sort of does the "Well, since I trust you guys so much..." and reveals that the town recently discovered a creature that looked a great deal like a Man. Not actually a Man, of course, but something very similar. The Shepherd was communicating with it, calling it the Prophet, and using its words to help interpret the Code of Man. Ever since the Prophet showed up, people had been getting along better, arguing less, more productive. The whole town was just in a really great mood, it was honestly pretty incredible. They were cagey about it mostly because there were a lot of bandits in the area - they're too far from Pugmire or Waterdog Port to receive quick aid in case of an attack, and they were afraid bandits might try to hurt the Prophet if they knew about it. She was sure that Shepherd Billy was working on his report for the Church, though.

                    The party is varying degrees of open-minded or paranoid about this, debate course of action for a while, decide to just go to service tomorrow and see what's up. When they go, Billy knows they've been told about the Prophet - because of course he does - and says honestly great, that's easier, he doesn't have to explain. He formally introduces the party to the town and gives a sermon, which I come up with pretty ad hoc. Most of it is pretty standard Code of Man stuff, but it's all spoken with more certainty. Instead of interpreting what it is to be a Good Dog, Billy knows from the words of the Prophet. He can tell the town exactly how to be a Good Dog. And honestly, none of what he teaches is that weird - it's all pretty standard be good to each other, help each other stuff - but he's saying it with authority and certainty, and he's just a good orator in general, so the town is into it. Afterwards, Rowan approaches him to ask him about his report to the church. Billy evades for a bit - everyone's been busy preparing for the Harvest festival, you know, etc. etc. Rowan says she can help him write it. He says he'd rather wait until after she met the Prophet, which can't be for a few days. She's sure she can help him now. He says he needs to go to a harvest festival planning committee meeting. Rowan actually physically blocks his path. (There's rolls back and forth throughout this, of course). Finally Billy sighs and says they can come with him to meet the Prophet now.

                    They track north of town a bit and it gets hillier, they enter a cave. They find a mandrill in the back of the cave, fenced off for his own safety (supposedly). The mandrill is ooking, mostly. Billy talks about how some farmers found the creature outside of town, injured and lost. Some Know Nature checks get them that dogs have heard of monkeys, but the rumors are far, far to the south. Only the widest ranging sailors have ever seen one - this is way outside of the native range. There's some theological debate about what monkeys and apes Mean for the Church of Man, but because they're so geographically far it's not something the Church deals with very often. Mostly theoretical. So Rowan is trying to tell if the monkey is uplifted or not - she doesn't know what monkeys look like before today, so I say she can't really tell. Billy tells them about how they all viewed the creature's arrival as a religious omen immediately - how could it be anything else, with its appearance? And then it started talking to him about the Code of Man, the town basically considers it a direct line to what Humanity would have wanted.

                    No one has Handle Animal and Shepherd Billy is rolling really good Bluff checks, so I eventually just let Yaekar roll a Know Nature to realize - the mandrill is just behaving like a normal animal. That's not speech, those are animal calls. Billy's just lying about communicating with it. So then Billy spills the whole story out - basically Rowan guilts him into being honest. They really did think the animal was a religious omen, but the townspeople kept asking him what it meant, what does it mean, what does it mean - so he finally just started telling them. And it worked! And people were happier and got along better, because they felt like they knew how to be good in a way that the ambiguity of the Code hadn't previously provided. Look how happy and productive everyone was!

                    The party basically points out, you know, the lie always comes out eventually. Billy is further guilted. He sighs a lot. Finally he agrees to let them take the creature to Church HQ. He asks the party to let him tell the truth to the town in his own time, though. They agree. They debate moving the monkey logistics for a while before Billy says he'll just come with the party to Pugmire, the town can plan the harvest festival without him and he can provide his report in person.

                    I'm probably forgetting a few minor parts of that session, haha, but that's the gist of it. It was really great, and not even a single round of combat.

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