Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Guest Post: Trollopulous Reloaded

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Jeffro asked, so when asked one gives it the college try. After hiatus, Trollopulous rises again. 

It was Jeffro’s fault the last time too. Hard to think it was five years ago and more. Back then Jeffro and I were playing wargames at our local club. We’d meet after work, get tacos, and ride the bus to the club and chat about our gaming dreams – one of which was to run AD&D 1st edition as closely to the rules as possible. But then Jeffro moved out of town and we never put out chats into action. Nonetheless, I did start an 1st Edition Oriental Adventures game soon after. I had three players who notoriously cheated on their rolls. They quit after five sessions. The reason being given is they didn’t like AD&D and wanted to play Werewolf or some other similar game that I wasn’t interested in. What didn’t the like? Well, I’m pretty sure they didn’t like the TPK we had in the first session. This was my own fault. I’d repurposed the Lamentations of the Flame Princess module Tower of the Stargazer into the OA game. It’s one of the safest LOTFP modules and I didn’t force them to drink the poisoned wine. Still. Then the other thing they didn’t like was saving throws. Saving throws? Yep. Too scary. They hated the idea that their character could die at the whim of a dice drop. And, 1st ed AD&D low level saving throws are rather difficult. But, I had a good time in the other sessions and their barbarians did level up 2nd in a memorable fashion by using the scrolls they’d found as smoking papers. Still, the game ended. They didn’t want to play AD&D and I didn’t want to run the games they preferred. That was that.

And the world changed. Now, subject dispersal and a tyrannical dystopia Jeffro set out on the quest again. Riding a mutant moose called the Internet, we played online in the most stupid way possible, plain video call. No Roll20. No online dice rollers. Just mics, jerky video, and the honor system for rolls. And it worked. Jeffro’s written all about it. Go read his columns. If you are here you likely already have. It was some of the best AD&D I’ve played ever. Certainly, better than the time that guy came at me with a carpet knife but that’s another story.  Then Jeffro kicked it up a notch. He introduced Patrons, mediated by Twitter DM with game news advertised through the Trollopulous News Service twitter feed. But then it stopped and now what?

Trollopulous rises again. Under new management. Jeffro asked me to take up the reins. And, it’s big boots to fill. I’ve never used Patrons, I’ve never used 1 ot1 time, and I’ve never not used modules. But, Jeffro asked so we ride again. 

This time it’s going to be both sessions, 1 to 1 time, and patrons. And like our own world there has been a Great Reset. It’s not all the same players and not all the same patrons. Hopefully, unlike our own it will also be a bigger world. And it is already. In preparation used the DMG Appendix B, to generate the lands west of Trollopulous. The method shown is random but, did pretty well in generating a playable setting. It does have its quirks. I ended up with five cities, all within a hundred miles or so of each other and few on water. But, that’s the beauty, like the Traveller planet generation system you roll and then you rationalize what you got. And the table below summarizes what I got pretty well – likely years’ worth of gaming is what I got. Assuming of course, that players decide to travel that way.  Play’s can be perverse that way.

The Lands of the Five Cities

So, I put out the call and players and Patrons are rolling in. It’s catch as catch can. Whoever shows is whoever plays. Similarly I’ve only a small number of Patrons and could use a few more but that’s okay. I’ll play the other patrons until others show interest. It’s the DMs job.

One problem I have is I don’t quite know where everything left off. As a player I only got the parts of the action relevant to my character. No matter. We begin at The Octogon – the Adventurers Aid Society which lies in the western reaches of Trollopulous (360 miles away from The City). 

The Lands of Trollopulous

The party starts as five and becomes six as the night goes on. The first sessions characters are:

  • Druggo Hairycock – 2nd level Thief
  • Franz – 1st level Fighter (a former henchman)
  • Tancred – 1st level Paladin
  • Pius the First — 1st level Cleric
  • Slomo Goldberg – 1st level Cleric
  • Fagor the Half-Orc Hero – 4th level Fighter

Our party meets and trades rumors. 

  • At the Octogon resting from their travels is a large diplomatic mission of the Five Cities heading to Trollopulous. Representatives of the Five Cities are there with their retinues – about 250 living (presumably) souls or thereabouts.
  • An earthquake has struck leaving the AAS in a shambles and most importantly the AASs rental dungeon collapsed. 
  • A plague has struck Trollopulous, apparently starting within the High Panderers Society but now spreading among the general populace. The city has locked down and quarantined itself.
  • A dragon has been seen flying west over the barrier mountains.
  • A fleet of strange ships has been spotted entering South Bay.

 The party mulls this over and decides to first go check out the Diplomatic mission. From the get go it’s obvious there are tensions between the various five factions which include: 

  • Sahar, a bellicose paladin of the City of St. Therese. He tells them St. Therese is the largest and most important of the Five Cities. Not yet strong enough to dominate them all but, soon the evil ones will be bested he promises. Sahars retinue is fifty horse of cavalry
  • Emlyn, a cleric form the City of Wisdom Glen. She’s very much an earthmother given to flower wreaths and gentle touches. Her retinue is all handmaiden clerics. They are allied with St. Therese. The 
  • Azothinaktus, a saturnine visaged counter to Sahar from the City of Hammerhand.
  • Ruks, a warrior of the City of the Three Regiments. He’s angular fierce in golden armor and a high crested helm. The City of the Three are mercenaries who sell their services to the highest bidders from the other cities. He has fifty golden armored foot who stand at attention, march in time, and glare at all and sundry with their square eyes.
  • Hasthoth, of the City of Yauhiklendusz. Hastoth remains unseen. He travels in a giant rune-carved steel palanquin whose poles are carried between mammoths. The retinue is of slender courtiers in robes of unknown color who faces are blank as waxen masks. 

From their inquires the group finds that the Five Cities are clearly allies only of convenience (or possibly inconvenience). Sahar and Azothinaktus argue and look daggers at each other. Emlyn stands between them making peaceful entreaties while the robed servitors of Hastoth shuffle this way and that on mysterious errands. Ruks and his golden warriors look on impassively at all. 

Having gathered what they could about the envoys, the group then decides to check out the collapsed cave. Druggo discovers that he can wriggle through the rocks to find the passageway beyond is not completely blocked. Large glowing beetles crawl randomly about he dark hall. He comes out and soon the party has cleared enough rocks to let the others enter. They proceed and kill a couple of the glowing beetles which sends the others scurrying away down the hall. Proceeding cautiously ahead they discover a vast sinkhole, perhaps the result of the earthquake. Glowing beetles crawl the walls of the sinkhole. Forty feet down at the bottom of the hole sits a glowing rectangle. Druggo convinces the others to lower him down on a rope. He approaches the glowing rectangle and notes that the border is ringed with symbols similar to that of Hastoths palanquin. Boldly Druggo lowers himself into the opening only to discover himself pulled to one side to find himself laying in a giant square or park surrounded by huge cyclopean towers. The land is litters with rocks and crystals. Druggo isn’t there long when he spots several large cone-shaped beings enter the far side of the square. At the apex of each cone are several tentacles – some tipped with eyes, strange cones, and claws. They stop and Druggo sees the eyestalks and cones on all of theme rotate in his direction. Ripples wave up the bodies of the cones and they slowly start to move in his direction. Not liking the looks of things Druggo jams a handful of the rocks in his pocket and leaps back through the shining rectangle.

Back into the sinkhole Druggo is pulled out just in time to see a large beetle hauling itself out of the gate. It’s significantly bigger than the glowing beetles. They flee out of the delve and call it a day. 

The rocks Druggo grabbed turn out to be valuable jewels which they sell at the AAS. They spend a night and recruit a band of the other adventurers to join them back at the sinkhole. Unfortunately, Tancred is not feeling well this morning. He has some marks on his throat, has lost a couple HP, and a point of both strength and constitution. They consult with Emlyn who heals him but is not able to restore his strength. 

Nonetheless they head back to the sinkhole. There are a lot more of the glowing beetles and the party and their hirelings kill a good two dozen and drive them back. But, at the sinkhole the large beetles are coming. First one and soon another joins it. In sequence the two start hammering their abdomens into the side of the sinkhole. First there is a vibration and soon the whole place is shaking. The party makes saving throws to keep their feet and all do. That’s enough for the session and they head back to the Octogon. 

So, they we are. It’s mostly been getting oriented and a minor delved. Each player ends up with 391 XP (223 from combat & 168 from treasure). 168 gp each. 

So, we now have downtime. Druggo spends the week spying on Hastoth’s palanquin. Over several days staking out the box Druggo observes this:

  1. the robed servitors come and go nearly always from one shadow to another. Sometimes it seems like they just disappear. Also, their faces don’t seem right — unnaturally still, waxy even.
  2. A few days in they set up a kind of lean-to tent around the box and several goats are led into it. There is a terrified maa-ing then silence and the snapping of bones.
  3. The robed servitors seem to be delaying the diplomatic mission leaving for Trollopulous. Members of the other delegations arguing with the robed servitors.

Things aren’t going well for Tancred. Each day he wakes up with one less strength and constitution. He asks Emlyn to cast a Remove Curve which has no effect. Talkin with the other delegations he does learn that the people of Wisdom Glen are prone to wasting sickness. Tancred entreaties Emlyn again who tries a Heal spell to no effect. The next day, weaker than ever, Tancred watches as Azothinaktus and Sahar argue then challenge each other to a duel. They fight and Azothinaktus is killed but not before Sahar is also wounded with a poisoned dagger. The Hammerhanders load up Azothinaktus’s body and ride off in a huff. The handmaidens of Wisdom Glen tend to Sahar. 

The following day one of the young handmaidens comes and tries Dispel Evil on Tacred. Which works! His strength and constitution then start returning at the same rate they were lost. Tancred does see Emlyn looking at the young handmaiden with an uncharacteristic cold expression. 

Also one night the skies lit up with an aurora borealis and a giant golden unicorn like beast was seen flying west through the sky. The following day a band of a hundred or so riders are seen west of the Octogon riding south. 

There are other things going on in the background. But, that’s what’s publicly available. 

Other rumors:

  • The whereabouts of the late Elric’s Demonsword are unknown. Last seen entering the cavemen jungles.
  • A large band of cultists was massacred several months ago at their archeological dig. A mysterious shield was recovered from their diggings. But, the Cleric who claimed the shield absconded with it the very night it was found.

So, one session in and there is more than enough for it to go any which way. So far the tools in the DMG are working just fine. We shall see what happens next. 

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