View Full Version : In the small town of Singleton... (4e Earthbound Tribute Campaign Log)

2011-10-24, 03:05 PM
A while ago I proposed the idea of running a campaign which is a tribute to Earthbound, combining the story and light heartedness (yet surprisingly dark at times) nature of Earthbound with the setting and open-endedness of D&D. This does, unfortunately, mean things aren't going to be 100% loyal to the game because I have to take player agency into account and can't just railroad my PCs to certain locales like a video game can.

Last Saturday was the group's first session.

I should make it clear that, to my knowledge, only myself and my wife know about Earthbound at all and my wife only knows it faintly (she has yet to play through). I tested this theory in our first session by wearing an Earthbound T-shirt and getting exactly zero reaction to it. ((Earthbound fans usually can't resist the urge to comment on it, it's a thing we do.))

The Group:
Our first session consisted of a party of three with two more players coming down the line later. We start the game off with...

Quinn - Level 3 Male Human Scout (essentials class) - A nomad from the desert who has come to the town of Singleton looking for signs of his tribe.

Torch - Level 3 Female Tiefling Sorcerer (fire based) - An inmate from a local asylum who is currently being used by local arcane research facilities as a test subject.

Wheatley - Level 3 Warforged Monk - A temporary character for this player who is literally Wheatley from Portal 2 except as a warforged. I allowed this because the campaign is already a tribute to a game so it's easy enough to work with.

About 50 years ago an event, which is simply known today as 'The Corruption of Shale Peak' occurred. Not much is known about this event as the small mountain town of Shale Peak is now a large crater. Whatever happened to the town has hidden the facts from light.

What people do know, is after the town became a crater, eight beings crafted from crystal were found, unconscious, at the scene. These beings are known as Shardminds.

The location of these beings is now unknown, some people claim to have seen them wandering off in different directions and those that have been able to get into contact with them haven't been able to learn anything further about Shale Peak.

Session #1 - In the year 199X...
Our story starts with Quinn, the desert nomad, walking into the town of Singleton on a lead about his tribe.

Apparently, a few years ago Quinn went out on a sort of 'spirit journey' in the wild which is a custom for his people. Typically this consists of him heading out into the wilderness and living off only what he can catch and find while he tries to find himself. Upon returning to his village he found it deserted, it looked like everyone had hastily packed up but he could not figure out why as there were no signs of a struggle or fight. Ever since he's been attempting to follow their trail with his most recent lead taking him here.

Nearby, a large warforged named Wheatley is standing outside an asylum simply staring at the doors as if willing them to open. His current motives are unknown.

Both figures spot a star, high in the sky, glowing brightly. Too brightly.

The glow begins to grow and soon it's obvious that this is no star at all. It streaks across the sky with a deafening roar and slams into the forest outside of town with a bang, shaking the ground violently.

The town begins to wake immediately, people poking their heads out of windows and convening in the streets. Guards rush out and begin to barracade the streets while others attempt to usher people back into their homes.

Quinn is soon approached by a short, plump, balding man with blonde hair and simple robes. He introduces himself as Joseph Minsk (Pokey Minch), head researcher at the Singleton Arcane Research Facility. He says this could be the find of his career and he needs someone who'd be willing to escort him out to the impact site immediately. He's willing to pay the grand sum of 15 gold for the escort as all the guards are either too busy or unwilling to take him.

Quinn, having no money sense, takes the job.

But first Minsk (as he prefers to call himself) needs to drop by the local asylum to pick up something.

"Er, let's pretend I didn't say that for 5 additional gold." Minsk adds in, bribing the currently easy-going Quinn who wordlessly accepts the meager sum.

Minsk leads Quinn to the asylum where both of them meet Wheatley for the first time. Wheatley introduces himself (with british accent and everything) while Minsk and Quinn try to avoid eye contact.

Minsk knocks on the door of the asylum and waits about three seconds before going ballistic on the door, pounding on it with both fists and yelling at it.

Surprisingly enough someone eventually answers and lets him in, he soon returns with a tiefling in a plain white gown who's shackled at the wrists. Minsk tells Quinn that he can call her 'Torch' and that he's bringing her along for research purposes.

Wheatley introduces himself to Torch who doesn't really say anything to anyone.

The three of them set out towards the impact site with Minsk insisting that Quinn, paid to escort, go first. The group is quickly surprised to find Wheatley has decided to follow them, apparently interested in Torch for some reason.

Minsk attempts to argue with the warforged but being a complete idiot, Wheatley doesn't exactly know how to relent and follows anyways. Minsk gives up after a short tiff and says "Fine, we could use more muscle in case the Bulettes show up."

Lead by Quinn the party makes their way through the forest, following the smoke from the meteor to find their way in the dark. Soon they arrive at a moderately sized chasm which is barracaded off and has a couple of guards present to make sure nobody simply passes by the barracade.

"Apparently barracading is this town's claim to fame." Quinn remarks after noticing earlier that a ton of other roads had been barracaded off, even unrelated roads.

Minsk fails to negotiate his way past the barracade and returns to Quinn, ordering the mercenary get him across somehow. He doesn't care HOW, just get him across.

Quinn insists, at this point, that he's not all about the money but he's going to need some more coin. Minsk forks over another 15g.

While the two negotiate Quinn's fee, Torch simply walks forward and sets fire to the grass in front of the bridge, demanding passage. The soldiers lose some of their resolve and shakily deny access.

Wheatley tries a more...diplomatic approach, and tries to convince the guards "Well, what if you weren't here...theoretically of course? So then we could...well...just cross right? So let's pretend you're not here and we'll just cross this bridge."

The guards look unimpressed, and one of them is getting visibly agitated.

Torch comes right up to the guards and demands "You're letting us go, now." One of the guards complains about how he already had to get up and guard this damned bridge at one o'clock in the morning and that he doesn't get paid enough to do this. He storms off muttering something about taking a break, leaving the other guard to fend for himself. The remaining guard looks like he's about to cry.

Wheatley sees this, stomps on over to the guard who has to look up to look the warforged in the eye and...gives the guard a hug.

Everyone takes a moment to go 'What.'

Quinn decides diplomacy isn't his thing and climbs down the cliff, just enough to get under the bridge. He then climbs along the underside of the bridge until he passes the barracade before climbing over the rail again.

Torch says "Screw this" and marches past the guard.

The guard sees this happening and tries to stop Torch and Quinn but isn't able to break out of his hug in time to stop either of them. Wheatley pets his head and goes "Shhhh....it's alright, innit?"

He quickly breaks out of the hug and basically breaks down on the spot stating he's done, nobody ELSE is getting past. He doesn't care. Wheatley and Minsk aren't going across.

Torch responds by attempting to set his pants on fire and fails. Apparently the guards wear fire resistant pants for just an occasion.

Wheatley's greatest weapon comes out at this time. Inane chatter.

I'll be honest, I don't remember a lot of it, he'd go on for a bit (full on Wheatley voice) and I'd have the guard rebuttal and Wheatley would either take it the wrong way, ignore it or act like whatever the guard said worked in his favour. Everyone else started laughing as we kept going until I had the guard eventually give up, throwing his hands up in frustration and stomping away yelling "I QUIT!".

Pleased with their handiwork the group heads up the hill the meteor crashed into with Quinn leading the way. Quinn, with the highest perception, notices that wild dogs are stocking the group.

Not only that but there are a few wild animals which all seem to be warily watching the group. Only wheatley seems to have noticed them as well, Torch and Minsk are oblvious.

"Just on the offhand we get attacked or anything, I'm going to need some extra gold." Quinn comments off-handedly to Minsk. Minsk blows him off at first but he persists and Minsk agrees on another 30 gold on the off-chance they are attacked.

Quinn takes great delight on pointing out the party's obvious stalkers and demands his raise immediately...or Minsk can handle the situation himself. Minsk grumbles and forks over the gold.

A quick battle breaks out on the mountain path as wild dogs close in from both sides along with a pair of bats from the forest, a large snake from a nearby tree and a crocodile from a pond just off the beaten path.

Quinn shines at this point, charging from target to target and dealing out insane amounts of damage. Torch shows no restraint, setting anything nearby on fire and Wheatley punches the snake...a lot. Some defining moments:
- Torch finishing off the crocodile with a whack from her staff after everyone trying to convince her just to use her spells.
- Wheatley punching the snake out like some bizarre 'GIANT ROBOT VS GIANT SNAKE' boxing match using the attack 'Dancing Cobra Stance'.
- Quinn killing pretty much everything else while I seriously reconsider my encounter design.

Minsk comes out of hiding at the end of the battle, congratulates the party on a job well done and then proceeds to make sure he's amidst the center of the party...for safety.

This lasts until the party arrives at the top of the hill where the meteor has impacted where Minsk immediately attempts to take charge and leave the party alone while he does some research. Surprisingly the party stays around while he works.

A few hours later he grabs everyone and offers Minsk another 30 gold to go pick up his 'esteemed colleague' who just happens to live in a cottage out here in the wilderness.

Nearly getting lost in the forest again (with Wheatley chosing the wrong way and stating "I'm pretty sure...pretty sure this is the way." only to be proven wrong) the party arrives at...well, more of a hovel.

It looks like it used to be a nice home but there are holes in the walls which are patched up with random materials (including sheet metal). A homemade sign hangs above the door which reads 'Treasure Hunter'.

"Hey, I think this thing is related to you." Quinn teases Wheatley as he points to the patched up shack. Wheatley doesn't get the joke and tries to reason why he couldn't possibly be related to a building.

Minsk wails on the door in classic Minsk fashion and soon the party comes face to face with Leon, the 'Treasure Hunter' with a bushy black moustache and hair to match.

Leon rabbles about how the big quake didn't affect him because he eats a lot of garlic and works out and seems pretty impressed with the (high str) party, inviting the lot of them into his hovel.

Minsk wants to take Leon to the meteor but Leon wants to show Minsk his discovery first. He's apparently dug a hole in the middle of his house which leads to a short network of tunnels and eventually opens up to a small cavern where a person sized gold statue of a demon-man is standing.

Nobody seems all that interested in it while Leon goes off about the 'find of his career' except Torch who discerns the statue has some sort of magical pulse (Arcana check).

Interested in this, Quinn tries to touch it.

Leon intervenes immediately, trying to halt Quinn but Quinn shows off his moves with an aerial flip over Leon (acrobatics) and touches the statue anyways.

Then he drops to the ground, spasming, screaming and nearly pissing himself. (and also taking approximately 25 damage)

Everyone else backs off a step.

The party resolves not to touch the statue anymore and agrees to get the hell out of there now taking Leon and Minsk with them.

Soon they arrive back at the impact site where all of the law enforcement has now disbanded leaving Minsk, Leon and the party to investigate the meteor.

Quinn, not learning his lesson, touches the meteor while Torch and Wheatley get in an arguement. Torch wants to know why Wheatley is so interested in her but they don't get to resolve their issues because as soon as Quinn touches the meteor a beam of light shoots into the sky and the meteor cracks open.

A human-esque, yet extremely disfigured being crawls out so of course the first all important question is:
Them: "Is it a man or a woman?"
Me: "It's too disfigured to tell."
Torch: "This should be easy, does it have tits or not?"


While the disfigured...thing rambles off warnings about how "He is coming", "He can influence the minds of animals and weak individuals" and then drops a stone at Torch's feet stating "Listen to it, it knows the way" the rest of the party discusses Quinn's unsafe habit of touching things and Quinn re-negotiates his salary with Minsk.

Everything is broken when the figure starts to scream in pain and glow. Everyone hits the deck, assuming he's...well, going to explode.

Instead the figure grows and mutates further, becoming something which only looks a shadow of a human. Odd tumours bubble the skin and eyes tear open on unnatural parts of it's body. It has a large, unnatural growth on the end of one tentacle-like arm and some of the eyes break away, and float off the body.

Another battle breaks out with Minsk making a be-line for a nearby carriage and ducking inside while yelling "KILLITKILLITKILLITKILLIT!". The creature continually spawns more floating eyes which latch onto the three heroes (and leon) if they don't dispatch of them quickly while the creature itself wails on them with it's tentacle like arm like a fleshy flail.
- Torch climbing a top the carriage and raining fire on the detached eyeballs.
- Quinn and Wheatley working together to bloody the creature
- Quinn getting knocked out and failing 2 death saving throws only to be saved via mouth to mouth by Leon. Quinn's player laughs and says 'Lovely. Garlic breath!'
- Wheatley punching the giant out.

And that's how 3 characters completely destroyed a level 4 encounter made for 5.

After the encounter Minsk decides it might be time to go back. Torch is dissapointed (because this means back to the asylum for her) and Quinn is pretty beat up so he's all for it.

Unfortunately the group gets stopped by the guard captain and his men when they cross the bridge again. It seems they have an issue with the party's total disregard for barracades. The guard captain and the group argue back and forth about why they should be taken into the local station.

Quinn argues he didn't technically cross the barracade because the guards failed to barracade the underside of the bridge, the captain takes serious note of this and Quinn proposes a system where you harness a guard into the bridge so one can hang there and guard the bottom of the bridge.

Torch is all for going with the guard captain and has no arguements.

Wheatley is completely oblvious and tries to head off with a "No thanks, I think I'm going to go back to the lab." before jovially stomping off.

The guards attempt to chase Wheatley and subdue him but they prove ineffective. The guard captain gets frustrated and lets Wheatley go after more innane chatter back and forth similar to what go them across the bridge in the first place.

At the station Quinn manages to lift the ring of keys from the captain after he leads them to an interrogation room. The captain promises to get to them in a moment after dealing with Minsk and locks them in (the door was locked beforehand so it would seal shut upon closing). Torch goes to sleep in the corner while Quinn checks all potential escape routes before lounging back with his feet up on the interrogation table.

Twenty minutes later the captain returns and attempts to open the door and finds it locked. Quinn begins laughing as he hears the captain shout "Anyone seen my keys" and proceeds to lounge back while the captain attempts to hammer down the door.

At about this time Wheatley knocks on the precinct door the following conversation takes place...
Guard: *Opens the door* Sorry, but we-...oh no it's you.
Wheatley: Hello!
Guard: What do you want.
Wheatley: Well, I was just in the neighbourhood...well, that's a lie actually. I was more...what's the word...standing out in front of the door here...for...oh...the last twenty minutes and I heard something about keys? A key? Am I right?
*Guard Captain can be heard swearing and banging on the door in the background*

The guard brings Wheatley to the captain and Wheatley tells the captain he can hack the door open, he just needs someone to remove his head and insert him into the lock.

Everyone gives him a look as if to say 'What?'

The guards do so and insert Wheatley into the lock, as instructed. Wheatley responds, of course with, "Okay, now I'm going to need you to turn around."

Quinn's player cuts in "It's a good thing I like Portal because your character is really...really close. In fact, I'm pretty sure valve is coming up the elevator to give you a cease and desist right now."

We all have a laugh and Wheatley unlocks the door. Quinn immediately tosses the keys to the guard captain who proceeds to go red in the face.

The guard captain, already frustrated, just ignores this part, not wanting to get into it. Instead he gets right to business and questions the group. The group kind of just runs him through the wringer. Some highlights:
- Torch refusing to answer any questions until she got a coffee
- Quinn bringing up, yet again, how he didn't technically cross the barracade
- Torch asking where her coffee is
- Wheatley explaining why he hugged a guard
- Torch bugging me about her coffee again
- The guard captain getting fed up and dismissing everyone, stating he's going to check out the meteor. Everyone gets the impression they're going with him to the meteor for while he tries to argue "No you're not!" when Wheatley cuts in and says, right to the guard captain... "Going back to the meteor...good plan good plan...one hiccup though. You see...there's a bridge up there and it's completely barracaded off. *goes into a whisper* So...so I was wondering...how...how are you going to get past the guards?"

A five minute break later and Torch getting her coffee.

Quinn goes off and orders a room for himself on the Captain's dime while Torch goes off to sleep in a tree (as Quinn would rather spend 10g on luxury accomodations for himself than pay for someone else). Wheatley sticks with Torch for the night, acting as a look out.

Minsk is held in confinement for trying to steal donuts from the bag the guards picked up this morning.

The next morning Quinn sleeps in while Torch (sleeping in a tree) and Wheatley (guarding the tree) are approached by an exccentric painter.

"I have to paint this!" he announces, waking Torch up. Torch is irritated and threatens to set the painter on fire. Wheatley pipes in with "She'll do it, I've...well I haven't seen it but I've almost seen it."
The painter makes a deal, he'll buy Torch lunch if he can quickly sketch this scene down. She agrees and then he does a quick sketch while she says 'Fuzzy Pickles'.

Playing with a team who has no idea what I'm doing is fun.

The painter then takes Torch (with Wheatley following) to the inn for breakfast where Quinn is woken up by a commotion down stairs. Torch and Wheatley meet up with Quinn who is climbing down the outside of the inn. Apparently Quinn's first reaction to trouble is to sneak out the window.

The group hears shrill whistles and two groups of guards rush towards the inn, completely bypassing the party. Moments after the guards enter the inn a bunch of costumed punks in black tights start escaping out every entrance they can reach.

One runs into Wheatley who grabs the man/boy/whatever and picks him up by the collar.

Not to threaten, just to say 'Hi' really and ask about the situation.

The punk points Wheatley out to the others still in the area saying "Hey guys, isn't this the thing Frankie is building?!"

Wheatley tries to question the boy again and the boy slips out of his grip and runs off instead of answering.

The party returns to the inn which is a complete wreck. They learn that the hooligans they just met are called The Bulettes (also known as The Land Sharks). A local gang which wreaks havoc on the city and are fairly elusive due to the fact they all wear costumes while out. Apparently this sort of thing is common here.

Quinn is approached by an apologetic innkeeper who offers him free breakfast and Torch is left to beg for food by volunteering to work for food. She puts Wheatley to work too (since he's going to follow her anyways).

Wheatley does some 'investigating' first by which I mean he approaches random staff members and witnesses and asks them completely unrelated questions. His player is kind enough not to actually require roleplaying this out since it's not relevant.

Soon a new figure enters the inn and approaches Quinn's table. He introduces himself as Hershal, the mayor of this fine town, and proposes a contract with Quinn (who he's heard much about, especially from the guards). 400 gold to take care of The Bulettes for good. Quinn immediately agrees but only if he's paid up front.

The mayor then approaches Torch and Wheatley as well, having heard about them, and cuts a contract with both of them. Torch wants the local asylum shut down and Wheatley wants his lab to be re-opened.

Torch and Wheatley then get in an arguement about using inmates at the asylum for 'testing' as Torch has received amnesia as a result of said testing already and thinks it's horrible. Wheatley reveals that he's really interested in Torch because she was...
"Well, you just had the keen ability to...ah...to not die. Yeah."

Longer than expected, sorry about that, it was a productive session. Let me know what you think!

Kol Korran
2011-10-25, 10:16 AM
nice read! I don't know Earthbound or portal at all (and i kept feeling like i'm missing inside jokes, but not many). and i played 4E for a short while, even before the 3rd player's manual came out. (so i have no idea what a monk can do). still. nice read. a few things thoughts:

- i'd suggest to parse the paragraphs into spoilers for each issue: opening, battle with X, interrogation shenanigans and so on. it helps the reader find out the specific section later, without going through all of it. you can look at my log (in my sig) for example. it looks neater too.

- what was Leon's part in all of this? and the statue? are they part of the game? do the have a purpose later? they seemed kind of random to me.

- the battle with the mutated thing with the eyes: you said it was a 4th level encounter, for 3 (or 4 with Leon?) 3rd level characters. lets assume that being only 3 meant they are considered 2nd level... it shouldn't be that hard for them. 2 levels above party level is "beginning to challenge" if i remember my 4E (i can be wrong). in 4E it's not unheard of for a party to take down a threat 4 levels above them if they got all their dailies and having 2+ surges.

- Wheatley is a hoot! loved the descriptions of him

- what roles do the scout and monk have? strikers? (i know a sorcerer is one).

- did the party actually take the stone the mutated thing left? players are so prone to forget such things.

again, nice read. i'll subscribe and see where it goes. how far are you planning to take this? (in terms of levels, not the Earthbound story which i don't know)

2011-10-25, 10:46 AM
Thanks for the feed back! I'm a bit short on time right now so I can't parse my logs but I'll definitely do that later. I was a bit rushed when I wrote it and couldn't think of a way to fix it at the time.

Leon and the statue are a part of Earthbound. Leon is simply the discoverer of said statue (modeled after the character, Liar X. Agerate) but the statue shows up later so having the sneak peek now is an essential piece of the session.

Yeah, it actually does make a lot of sense that the PCs won those battles based on your explanation.

Monk and Scout are both strikers as well, partly why the battles went so well (or at least, so quickly).

I forgot to mention, yes. Torch used the fabric from her dress to act as a glove between her and the stone (they were wary about touching things directly after what happened) and then pocketed it.

2011-11-02, 02:36 PM
I think the log would gain a lot if you included some of the more interesting reactions and out-of-character comments by the players. That kind of feedback is very enlightening.

Also, in-character scenes by Wheatley's player are great. It's a shame not all of them got through to the log.

Also, are you sure Quinn's player didn't play Earthbound? Him saying "Apparently barricading is this town's claim to fame" is too good to be true.

2011-11-03, 09:56 AM

I guess the problem with including Buzz Buzz would be that the party would probably try to kill it.

2011-11-04, 07:54 AM
Thanks for all the feedback so far.

Also, yes, that's EXACTLY why I didn't put buzz buzz in the game.

I'll definitely include some more OOC reactions from the group in the next update. Also, I'll reformat everything once I post the logs from whatever happens in tomorrow's game.

Tomorrow's game is the investigation of The Bulettes and confrontation. I've created some unique monsters (altered existing ones) for each of the three shark types so we'll see how it goes!

2011-11-05, 05:50 AM
I'm planning on an Earthbound game at some point soon, too, and seeing it work in 4e is making me a dedicated follower of this thread. Looking forward to the next installment!