Borderlands Session Thirty

At the end of the last session before last I knew the plans of the player: they were going to attack the forces of the Imperium garrisoned at the city they had just reached. The tortle druid scouted the building to find out where the forces of the god-king were stationed, so they could “free” the town while on their quest/ mission to kill the god-king and end slavery in the land.

Civil Unrest

This made planning simple: I needed to be ready for combat in a city. Likely two or three encounters with guard patrols.

I can play it by ear as far as building the encounters. While I could just build a completely balanced combat encounter, I’d like to aim for some “realism”. Plus, if the party is sneaky or coordinated, they might be able to eliminate the patrols without raising the alarm. So I should plan to be reactive to their actions rather than scripting the encounters.

I can crunch the numbers and find out how many guards should reasonably be in a town that size. With over five-thousand people in the city, there should be fifty or so guards. Maybe less. Some would be patrolling the road and surrounding farms, so there may only be 10 or 20 in the city proper, working shifts to patrol the streets. Maybe 6 during the day (patrolling in groups of 2) and 4 during the night. The party might be able to ambush a group or two before they signal for reinforcements and rally for a major offensive.

Because I had some time, I dusted off my TerraClips and build a cityscape. Over a half-dozen buildings with nice wide streets and narrow-ish alleys for combat. Generic enough to serve as the map for a couple combats.

(I love my TerraClips and wish I’d bought more city sets before they went out of print. I wish WorldWork Games would bring them back.)

I should also do some thinking on the number of slaves managed locally, given the party’s primary goal at the moment is “free the slaves”. It will help to know who owns the slaves and where in the event the party decides to stage a mass-liberation.

Bath Time

The previous session was a one-shot that ended with the separated character making it to the city where they hoped to be reunited with their allies. The session would start with the groups finding each other and then filling each other in on what was missed.  

I’d also like to include a bathhouse drake, from Kobold Press’ Creature Codex. Mostly because I ended up chatting with the creator on the ENWorld Discord, and they were excited to have been published. So, suddenly, the town needs a bathhouse. Which actually works nicely as I described it being rainy previously, and the player characters would be covered in mud after a couple days on the road. A bathhouse would be the perfect place to reunite.

Post-Game Report

I remember the end of two sessions ago, when the players declared their next course of action: “we’re going to kill the zealots in this city and free all the slaves we can on our way to the capital.” I kept a straight face while thinking “that is a STUPID idea that’s going to attract a ridiculous amount of attention“. But I kept my mouth shut.

Then my players showed up for the game and declared, “yeah, were were thinking and decided that just attacking the guards is a dumb idea. And we’re going to keep a low profile.

Well, there went all my prep, including the giant 3D city grid.

Enter an all-improv session. I just laughed and rolled with it. It was a dumb idea and I didn’t want to force them to stick to it. I know if I had pushed the issue or made a big deal of it, my players would have gone along with their old plan. But it’s not their fault I over-prepared or didn’t plan for other decisions

Instead, they had a spontaneous travel adventure including an encounter with some werewolves and a few guard patrols, one of which went badly due to overreaction and poor diplomacy on the part of the players.

It was a very different session than I planned, but it still had some amusing moments. Such as when the tortle druid got infected by lycanthrope. And them, a couple days later, when they murdered a patrol of guards, and had the druid wild shape into a wolf to maul the bodies to “frame” the werewolves, only to discover he enjoyed the taste of blood a little too much….The session ended when they reached the edge of the Briar Ruins. Which are basically a set of ruins I added to my world’s map while creating the setting to pad the area. It’s basically a city completely covered by brambles, like the castle in Sleeping Beauty, for “reasons”. A generic adventure location. They saw that and decided to investigate, which gives me a framework for the next session.