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- Join Date
- Oct 2016
- Orlando FL
2e Black Crusade Campaign If anyone is interested
This was my intro for my party. We used For Gold Or Glory rules for the most part since the only differences I have noted so far are in the proficiency section(They are made so much more useful). I am just copy pasting from my papers so you will see references to other editions I didnt edit out and had to convert on the fly to 2e. Its extremely railroady. I know this, I warned the players pregame and apologized after, its to set the setting and get them started. They will have far more freedom after this to handle things as they want. For reference the start is almost no magic. Clerics heals only do d4+1 healing and they have no access to anything else. Wizards(we dont have any) limited to cantrip and find familiar.
_For anyone who has read Black Crusade, I did change the end of this encounter so there isnt a court scene. Knowing one of my players I was pretty sure he would not give false accusations and the whole scenario would be shot. He is like this in real life and he has carried it over into his paladin character. On that note, we have 2 brand new players who have never had a chance to play RPGs and the others havent played anything but 5e. So alot of the encounters were designed to learn the mechanics or refresh them in my case not having played 2e since 2000. I love For Gold or Glory, so awesome of a system. They had 20 years to clean up the 2e system and they did not fail.
Into in the primer I sent to them pre-game to get an idea for their characters. (Predictably some failed to get the email lol)
The year is 1099. You have just traveled and fought across the continent of Europe and then fought your way into the Holy Land. You have been hardened by your ordeal and are one of the relatively few survivors of the so-called People’s Crusade. Thankfully the professional army from Byzantium arrived in time to salvage what it could out of the rabble that started with you.
You went on to reach the Siege of Antioch and somehow managed to survive the counter-siege when the Sultan Kerbogha arrived with a huge army to take the stripped and ravaged city back. Through famine and disease you endured that siege and witnessed the Holy Lance that had been excavated from the Church of St Peter. You were part of the insane charge out the gates of Antioch at the massive army of the Sultan, you saw the standard bearer raise the lance and had visions of angels protecting your vanguard as you swept through the superior army and drove them before you.
On June 7th you dropped to your knees and wept when you finally saw the Holy City of Jerusalem before you after almost 4 years of war and marching. Your powerful army, once supposedly numbering in the tens of thousands, has been reduced to a mere shadow of what it was. Very few horses remain, mostly in the possession of the lords of the army and even those appear in poor health. Disease, lack of water, lack of food, and relentless pagan raiders have taken their toll on your forces.
On June 13th you took part in the initial assault and were wounded and brought to the apothecary’s tent where you met your companions for the first time. Since you were either not feeling up to or were prevented by the apothecaries from participating in the three day fasting and the barefoot march around the city as dictated by Bishop Adhemar, you were not allowed to take part in the final assault on the 13th of July. You were allowed to enter with the second wave, but almost everything has already been done and you have entered a nightmare….
-Players had a blast. Some of them messaged me wanting to know what happens next. The Paladin especially had fun, he is Catholic and is teaching himself Latin and found the symbolism to be great, plus even before I told them anything about the campaign, just we were going to be playing old school DnD he was excited to play a crusader so that really worked out. We have a shy Columbian girl playing the cleric who started developing her character as we played and figuring out how she was hiding her gender from everyone(because even to this day, Catholic Church doesnt allow female Priests) and so she stayed quiet whenever Father Lambrect was right there to keep her identity secret. One guy who didnt read the email primer made a rogue and he fit right in without trying. Last character is our researcher and she played a Genoese Crossbowman as a Stalker Kit ranger. It worked. We shall see how her character develops. Some of them were very WTF at the end in the next post.
Last edited by Corsair14; 2021-10-05 at 07:13 AM.PCs are not exceptional. They are normal Joe Shmoes stuck in exceptional circumstances.
- Join Date
- Oct 2016
- Orlando FL
Re: 2e Black Crusade intro If anyone is interested
“You walk down the muddy street. The mud is tinted a dark crimson and isn’t wetted with water but with blood. The walls of Jerusalem were breached yesterday evening and the slaughter commenced. Like men possessed by the devil himself the crusaders including yourselves fell upon the inhabitants of the city in an insane fury unheard of in your years of combat.”
“Bodies of not only Saracen defenders but civilian residents, Jews and even a few Christians fell before the holy invaders. Men, woman, children… none were spared the horrors. The bloody mud reached the tops of your boots and some places were even deeper. Flies swarm but even they are overwhelmed by the sheer number of corpses. The smells of the dead are almost unbearable in the tightly confined city streets. The sounds of the slaughter still echo down the alleys and roads as the crusaders vent their wrath on the inhabitants of the city. The few paved streets ran with the blood of the city or pooled in dips. A trio of cavalry ride by you, just as muddy and filthy as you, tossing a small body in the air between them like it’s a game as they ride off down the street.”
“Only now, your insane bloodlust sated, has the red of fury lifted from your eyes and you started thinking logically again and are slammed with guilt. You realize what you have done over the last 36 hours and can’t come up with a logical reason why as you trudge through the muddy streets. The heat is almost unbearable and you have little water left in your water skins.”
“You see the body of a fellow crusader ahead lying on the ground. He lies face down but his chain halburk has decorative links of brass in stripes along the bottom of the aventail. The bits of blue tunic mark him as a man of your country under Lord Robert the Second.”
Any paladin or cleric is numbed and guilt ridden by his/her unexplainable actions since the night before. A paladin is left as a simple warrior with no special abilities over a fighter and a cleric can only use healing spells for the time being.
If PCs check the body on an easy wisdom check they find it belongs to a familiar Baron Joris Iselmere of France. A difficult perception check notes a small incision in the back of his neck between where his helm and his chain shirt cover. Made by a small dagger. A Int check reveals this was most likely a murder not a battle wound. A passive perception check reveals a trail leading from the body.
“Tracking through the mud leads to yet another alleyway. Following the muddy track leads to another crusader several hundred yards away. The Baron’s squire. Similar injury if they look. All of the buildings in this brick canyon are shut tightly, doors closed, windows shuttered. Every now and then you see a set of eyes through the narrow shutters watching you in fear.”
If PCs search either body they find typical weapons of minor nobility and 30gp in coins and another few minor pieces of jewelry(20gp). Both carry battered shortswords, tattered chainmail, and barely usable axes.
“You have drifted away from the screams and cries for now. Aside from the civilians fearfully watching you between slats of their shuttered windows, you almost feel like you are alone in the city but for the bodies lying almost haphazard everywhere. You have almost gotten used to stepping over and occasionally on them when there was no other choice. Flies continue to buzz around you as eventually you get to what was once a bazaar. All the tents are ripped up, carts and tables destroyed. The plaza is paved and blood runs in rivulets down the hill.”
“Oddly at one end of the plaza is something that doesn’t look like it belongs. A brightly multicolored covered wagon lays on its side, wheels broken, brightly dressed former occupants lying dead on the brick paved street beside it and the corpses of the horses that drew it are dead in their traces. Nothing looks right about it. It’s a very large wagon and looks like nothing you have seen in Europe or the Holy Land. How did it even get here with the narrow streets?”
The women and men are deeply tanned dressed in tight fitting pants with sturdy shoes with loose fitting blouses and bandannas on their heads. The PCs will spot simple daggers as weapons and various tools. Before they get a chance to investigate further they hear.
Easy Perception test.
“Et suam piissimam misericordium indulgeat tibi Dominus quid quid per visum, Amen.” You hear from a nearby narrow road.
“Following the voice you reach a small courtyard which is little more than the intersection of four streets, blood stains the roadway, fresh blood still bright red. In a doorway off the road you see a man kneeling over the bodies over two others. All are dressed in the armor of crusaders from the west and it’s the kneeling man whose voice you heard. His tabard is covered in mud to the point of being unreadable, and his hauberk is as battle scarred as your own. He could be mistaken for any other soldier of the church except you heard him give last rites and anoint the forehead of the fallen in oil. “
“Across the alley come several Saracen soldiers(one for each PC +1) armed with either axes or swords. They aren’t moving right though, almost mechanically, their heads seeming to wobble randomly on rubbery necks, teeth clacking together. The priest hasn’t seen them yet.”
Fight it out. They fight silently until they are hit and they start laughing and giggling. Have one lose a hand in the fight and show no effect. Level 1 fighters in chain. 5hp. No bonuses. The priest will join in as well.
“I thank god for delivering you to me in my time of need, good sir knights.” The priest says. You hear a cackle and several more people step from doorways and side roads. Several are Saracens but two are fellow crusaders like yourself and one is a town’s person with blood running down his head from a cut over his forehead. All are armed with various weapons. They are all giggling now or talking nonsense to themselves as they pick up speed towards you in a funny stride that makes them appear to not have full control.
“My sons, I think discretion is the better part of valor here and we should run. There are more than enough dead pilgrims for God to sort through right now.”
If they do.
“You quickly outpace and lose that mob by running down side passages in this warren of alleys and roads but are lost yourself. You stop to rest a moment as the priest seems a little out of breath. “Gentlefolk, now that my former companions are lost, I hope that God has delivered you to me to assist. My work is incomplete. We must find the source of this unnatural plague before it claims the lives and souls of any more of our brothers if not the entire city. Something has awakened. It is why God put me here and had me survive when so many others have not. An whether this be, madness fever, or witchcraft, who better to stand against it that servants of God such as we? Would you accompany me on this most urgent quest in the name of the Holy Church?”
-“I am trying to get a chapel near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. If you would please escort me. I can probably put an end to this evil madness that seems to have infected the city.”
PCs will probably go, emphasize the good will of the church and the fact he invoked the Church’s name which at this period pretty much means God said so, do it or be damned for eternity.
The priest directs them through the maze of the city. Have several more encounters with the madmen. No more than one or two at a time, varies between Saracens, crusaders, or towns people.
“He seems to have some idea where he is leading you as you pass other pilgrims fighting Saracens and peasantry alike in bloody slaughters but this at least appears to be normal events and nothing unnatural. It is testament to how inured the last few hours of bloodshed and battle have made you that these ‘normal’ scenes do not even phase you as you hurry by.”
Have another fight. The enemy get a surprise round as the lead PC makes a dex check to avoid a timed swing by an axe. Three more bad guys consisting of the Saracen axe man, a helmless unseeing crusader and a Saracen woman in chain mail with a spear.
“The scenes of madness as you move through the city are starting to really wear on you. You see a mother holding her child, both with bloody eye sockets from putting out their own eyes. At one point you see a young Saracen civilian couple sitting on steps to a house slicing off strips of flesh and happily feeding it to a dog sitting at their feet. You pass a nun suffocating from having her mouth and nose sewn shut, she holds the needle and thread tight in her hands. A Genoese crossbowman stands in the road giggling while throwing a fellow’s head up and down in the air oblivious to everything around him. You start to hear voices in your head, your mother speaking inappropriate things, people you may have done misdeeds to in the past, someone who died you feel guilty for, asking why you left them (but had nothing to do with). People you have killed over the years pleading for their lives. You drop to your knees crying and mumbling<make a wisdom check who cares what they roll, they fail>and the good Father slaps you on the backs of your heads “Have faith in god my sons, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death….” Ever onward you push into the deeper districts of Jerusalem. The now paved roads are slick with blood to the point it pools and runs in the gutters and actually makes footing difficult. You are starting to miss the sucking mud of the lower city.”
Another fight with two more. One is missing his hand and fights like it was nothing.
“Finally you reach a larger road. At the top you almost drop to your knees again. Golgotha and the Ruins of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. You see a variety of Crusaders there kneeling towards the wall. The end of your crusade is in sight after years of travel and fighting half way around the world. “I wish to go there and pray too my sons, but that is not our time yet. We go there!” He points towards some nicer homes. “That is our destination.”
-Give a second for PCs to ask .
“That is because you are not meant to see, no one was and no one has. Some hundred paces from us lies that house. It is a normal house, maybe a little larger than the others. Before the Caliph Al-Hakim-bi Amr Allah destroyed it the Church of the Holy Sepulchre cast its shadow across this house precisely at dawn. It is there we will find what we seek. Come come quickly now!”
He runs to the front of the building and you feel an even greater pressure in your head. Around your vision is black.
Three more loons come around the corner, 2 of them armored Saracen and the last an Italian bowman judging by the arrows in the quiver on his back but now using a short sword. They stiffly charge into you. As they reach the area near the door if they haven’t been cut down they stiffly halt and just loosely hold their weapons while giggling with their eyes rolling back in their heads.
Then instead, you see your father and your mother standing in front of you he says, “Why did you abandon your family? You left us to die!” They attack you. Passing a save vs illusion makes them vanish but only the child of each parent can see each one and their attacks while having no bonus still cause illusionary damage.
Roll for an insanity check.
When you snap out of it the loonies are lying on the ground having some sort of seizure. If they ask, the priest is nowhere to be seen, the door is closed. Roll a wisdom check. You don’t remember seeing any injuries on the priest’s dead companions if they haven’t come to this conclusion already. On a low roll you think there might have been more blade wounds on their necks if they were rolled over.
The door collapses after a few hits.
“Inside is a well furnished but obviously not used in a while home. A fine layer of dust sits on everything. Tracks lead into the bedroom and suddenly stop.”
If PCs think to look they find a false floor. Wisdom if they don’t look. Cobweb covered spiral stone stairs lead down into the darkness.
If they suggest it then its easy to come up with a light source. From candles in the rooms to makeshift torches are available
-“Lining the walls of the stairs are alcoves where cobweb covered skeletal corpses stand silent sentinel clutching ancient spears and Roman scutum shields in withered hands. From beneath their corroded and brittle helms their skulls leer at the passing PCs, smiling at them with incomplete jaws. On one you see a large centipede disappear into the eye socket of a skull. At another point the lead PC looks at one and sees their own face on the face of the skull but the image returns to normal when they look again. The circular stairs go down perhaps thirty feet ending in a wide long hallway. A lone candle is suspended in the air from the ceiling every twenty feet or so leaving the edges of the hall in darkness. The shells of beetles crunch under foot, large spiders run from your light, and other things too big to be insects but too many legs to be rats are just visible in the shadows retreating when the light nears, hundreds of multi-facetted reflections from their eyes watch you pass.”
If PCs push it allow them to fight the equivalent of large centipedes, no real clue what they are however.
-“The air is cool, but very still and stuffy and smells of rot. At the end of the hall are two large doors, made of a wood so dark and polished it appears to go on forever. Large iron buttresses run across the doors both vertically and horizontally giving the appearance of a cross standing before infinity.”
Door is not locked but screeches open loudly but easily. The room beyond is a massive amphitheater sloped down to a raised dais in the back. A large black cross looking like similar wood to the doors hangs on the wall behind the altar. On the gently sloping floor lie old musty insect eaten pillows for kneeling. On the raised dais, next to the altar you see Father Lambrect sitting crosslegged on the floor, looking down at something hidden in his lap. “I am impressed, good sirs. You show greater strength of will than I gave you credit for. Certainly, better than my former companions”
The voices silent for the trek through the tunnels beneath the city have begun whispering in your heads again. You aren’t sure what they are saying but they are there speaking to you none-the-less. Enticing you to follow Father Lambrect’s example and sit”.
PCs must make another paralyzation save or they stand there. If a PC passes he can slap another PC to get them to their senses.
“On the wall behind the fallen priest, the giant crucifix stands covered in Greek lettering and thick cobwebs is constructed of the same dark wood of the door. A small lamp on the floor beside him provides the only light in the massive hall.”
You hear him mumbling to himself as he goes back to his book. Moving to his position will take several rounds and take relatively easy dex checks to avoid tripping.
-“If many more men had to die or go mad for me to acquire this then it would still be worth it.”
-“More valuable than any treasure this is. I hold the future of the Holy Catholic Church in my hands. Those fools are too blind to see it!”
As the PCs reach the steps up to the dais and alter.
“The priest stands quickly sweeping his arms and robes grandly revealing what he has in his arms. Fragments of cobwebs or possibly even smoke fall from the object seeming to disappear in the darkness. In his hands is an ancient, black leather-bound tome filled with yellowed pages. His eyes have gone unfocused and not even looking at you. “These are the surviving pages of the Laginate Grimore. Most of the many works, secreted here by the Romans are worthless, curios at best. But this!” He almost shouts in maniacal glee,
“I have sought a work of this power for years! So much has been lost: to history, to fate, to the short sightedness of our own mother church! But oh what remains! It speaks of many wonders, the Grimoire! The future, read in the stars, and of secrets of the past, revealed in bones. It speaks of the dead and the truths they whisper to those that will hear them.”
The priest’s eyes grow even wider, a froth of saliva on his lips, “It speaks of the nature of dreams, of visions, of sights unseen!”
The PCs are off balance now, The room seems blurry as if it is vibrating and you have drank far too much wine. You hear a roar from the tunnel entrance as if hundreds of voices are yelling and screaming in madness. A strange mist also seems to be flowing into the room.
-If PCs try to attack the priest they miss, trip, and hit the floor. He suddenly seems to be several feet away, still staring into nothingness. He isn’t where you think he is.
“It speaks of spirits bound by words of power, screaming silently in places of prayer.” Your heads are pounding now both in pain, confusion, and hundreds of voices yelling at you. “It speaks of the spirits of the wild, that guide the birds, and the beasts, and the fish in the sea, and all things not man.” You suddenly seem frozen in place. Insects skitter into the feeble light in a sheet crawling up your legs and into the cracks of your armor, biting any skin found. You find you cannot even try and slap them off
“It speaks of the spirits that drive men mad, that possess them to partake in abominable acts! It speaks of the spirits, and the hollow and hungry places in which they dwell!”
The lantern spits its smoke, almost snakelike turning back on itself to wrap around the grimoire in Lambrecht’s hands. The priest seems to gain a measure of attention back and looks down at the book and raises his arms, the mist following slowly behind like moss on a tree. He leans over and picks up his mace and turns to you. “Is it not fascinating? The Grimiore has lain here for a millennia with no harm to anyone. We awakened the spirits of the book with our coming, sent them forth to wreak madness. Perhaps it savors the taste of blood, or the taste of faith.”
He looks at you suddenly with lucidity, “You haven’t much faith left do you? But you have plenty of blood.” The mists float across you, they seem to be icy cold and burning at your soul.”
Make a paralyzation save to break the hold and roll initiative. If it is passed PCs fight as normal, if failed the PC is held in thrall until the priest hits them with his mace. If PCs both pass and get initiative ahead of the priest the first hit knocks the priest off the dais and turns the lantern over igniting the dry carpeting in a rapidly spreading sheet of flame.
All fighting is done at a -2 due to blurriness, the smoke and a growing mist.
Lambrect is a level 2 cleric with a mace and chainmail armor and a partial helm.
Once Lambrecht is defeated, he falls to the floor into the mist. At the door almost invisible in the mist and choking smoke you see the loonies warily entering the room laughing and chuckling to themselves. Your last sight of them is them spreading out along the walls. Although the cavernous room was almost black before, the mist seems to have lit the room like you are in the daylight in a fog bank.
Players get 50xp per looney 200 for Lambrect.
If PCs try and get to the body of Lambrecht or the Grimiore through the thick mist,
they notice the ground under their feet seems softer. Also for the first time in two years of fighting in these arid Holy Lands, you feel moisture in the air without it being oppressively humid. The un-natural mist starts to clear. Instead of the laughs and giggles of the loonies, you hear seagulls and surf. The air is cool and moist and smells of brine and old seaweed and your boots feel as if they are sinking in the wet sand.
Waves wash up almost to your feet. The surf is dark and foreboding. Thunder rumbles and the sky appears ready to open up in a thunderstorm, the likes of which you haven’t seen since you were home in Europe. If any player is English then it reminds them of coastal Normandy.
-As an exercise, this is pretty much how I write out adventures in the shorthand. Granted I rarely have near as much narration and never this much railroading, although my group doesnt seem to mind it as much as others I am noticing. Prior to this I offered the them choice of what I had ready, a free form sand box weird campaign or story driven serious campaign and unanimously they picked this one.
Last edited by Corsair14; 2021-08-20 at 08:36 AM.PCs are not exceptional. They are normal Joe Shmoes stuck in exceptional circumstances.
- Join Date
- Oct 2016
- Orlando FL
Re: 2e Black Crusade intro If anyone is interested
The second night of adventure.
Run the adventure of the Mordenheim’s monster. Book of Crypts.
-PCs ended up exploring the lower floor and all getting stuck inthe wine cellar until they could come up with a plausible means to climb up to the kitchen because the stairs broke.
-Fight with Mordenheim was tougher than expected. Sure he only had a d4 damage butcher knife, 7AC and 20 Thac0 but he does have 55 HP and since players all were at level 1 still, both the paladin and the cleric failed their Horror checks and were stunned for most of the battle.
Burned the house down when he dies and it burns unnaturally fast.
They learn of a port town several hours away from Katrina during the night where they can pick up supplies and some information of which is fairly limited. They are in the port town of Fairhaven. Maybe they pass a trader or a courier on the road.
“The town is typical of hundreds you have been through in years past. A collection of stone and mostly wood cottages with thatch roof tops. The roads by the pier are paved with irregular sized cobblestones making it easy to turn an ankle but that is preferable to the sucking muddy rutted paths leading past some poor dirt farmers’ fields and into the country like the ones you walked in on. The smell of fish is strong in the air and the small harbor has a number of dilapidated fishing boats pulled up on the rocky beach with fishers working on their nets while families hang fish to dry. A single long rock pier juts out into the harbor but appears too large for any of the fishing boats you can see. Near the docks is a long low building with stone walls and a single two story structure lay near there as well. People stare at you as you enter, not hostile but more curious as it would appear land bound visitors are not very common.”
This is the inn/harbormaster’s residence. The small town only has a hundred and fifty or so people. Its chief export is a red trout which is very common to the area and several tradesmen come by every week or two to collect the catch which is dried and treated with a special herb which also grows locally.
People here do not know who the lord of the land is and pay no taxes except to the mayor who for once doesn’t give you the vibe of being corrupt and using the taxes for his own benefit. Current talk is about how the mayor is making a deal to import cut stone with a mining town several days away so they can finally pave the streets with something better than cobble stones from the ballast of passing ships. Room and board at the inn is 1gp. Food is of course fish and mead and imported wine are the drinks of the day.
-The thief who had looted many bodies during the fight through Jerusalem(go figure) walked into the tavern since it was the first true tavern he had been to in several years of fighting across the Holy Land. Walks up to the counter and slams a pouch of 20 gold on the bar and waits for the bartender who speaks a dialect of French to count them. Party ends up having the best meals and drinks in years.
-Basic town amenities can be found here. A blacksmith, a general store, a non-magical apothecary.
-If PCs look around, have them make a Wisdom check. They notice there is no town church.
“In the morning after breakfast, you hear a piercing loud high pitched noise. In the harbor you notice a peculiar giant vessel sitting at the dock. It almost appears to be a white painted, multi-leveled boat but very large in size. Its locomotion is not in fact sails, of which you don’t see any place to attach them, nor oars like a galley. Instead there is a large wheel at the back of the vessel, a quarter of which is sitting in the water. Two column sit near the back belching a small amount of white smoke as if the ship was on fire. However you do not see the chaos of a bucket brigade or anyone hastily abandoning ship. On the white painted sign is the emblem of a golden eagle. Under it is some lettering”
Roll an Intel check: PCs who speak English are able to decipher the name Sultana
“Also on board are a large number, almost overflowing number of men in dark blue uniforms milling about.”
A boy runs over to you if the PCs don’t investigate the ship itself after about an hour of being in port. He says the ship’s captain requests their presence specifically.
“When the PCs approach the ship you can see the sailors going about their work without much distraction or talk. The porters and dock workers wait on the dock and do not board the ship as a small crane and pulley system lowers and raises crates from the deck to dock or vice versa. A man you assume is the captain leans comfortably against the railing watching the cargo being moved.
The captain is an older man with a wild beard. He wears fairly utilitarian pants, short boots, and a grey buttoned up shirt, a heavier seal skin jacket and a wide brimmed hat designed to provide shade from the sun.
“Ahh my friends, you have arrived. Come aboard, come aboard, our mutual benefactor awaits!” He boisterously says with his arms outstretched.”
- Lord Anton of Soureign is the benefactor who has paid him to come and transport the PCs to him. Apparently he wishes to speak to them about something.
-The Sultana is the name of the vessel. It is a steam powered riverboat that occasionally makes forays into open water when the weather is calm.
-His name is Captain Mason (MAKE A REAL WORLD INT CHECK ie. look it up on google)
-Allow PCs to leave and get what they need from the town while he finishes loading the crates of fish.
The woodwork on the vessel is very well done with many intricate carvings along the walls. Most of the paneling is painted a white with touches on the trim of red. The captain runs a very clean ship. He shows you into an internal hallway and up a grand staircase to an upper level where you see a large table with large glass windows, glass so clear its like theres nothing there. A large fan with pulleys and rope leading to the back wall is hung from the ceiling providing air flow although several of the windows are canted open. “This be the dining room, meals are served three times a day, you will hear a double whistle at the 10 minute mark. “
“As you move through the ship, you are shoulder to shoulder with men, mostly raggedly dressed in tattered blue uniforms. He says that they shouldn’t mind the men in uniform, they wont interact with the party.
He then shows you back downstairs to the hallway with doors along the walls. Lord Anton has paid for two rooms, so these should be sufficient. The rooms are fairly nice and they are the only ones available on the ship. The beds have sheets and pillows stacked neatly. The floors and all the woodwork is laquored and shined and there is a sea chest for each of you with a key in the lock. Down the hall is a green door, he says you can get cleaned up in there, the red knob is the hot water, beware it can get extremely hot so do not use it without the cold water and do keep your showers short. You will find soap on the shelves in there. Please clean up before dinner, you aren’t the most pleasant smelling.
My number two will handle cleaning your armor and equipment and will be around shortly after they are under way to collect it. He would rather you not track dirt and mud around the ship more than you already have. These other poor lads have been giving him a conniption fit as it is.
The vessel’s loud whistle blows three times and you suddenly feel the deck lurch under your feet. If they go outside they see they are moving away from the docks. The crew continues about its work. If the PCs try to talk to one, he will acknowledge them maybe with a minor head swivel or a nod but will not verbally answer any questions. If PCs get too persistent then the Steward or Captain make an appearance and intervene. “Don’t disturb the lads, they are dead tired and have had a rough couple days. We don’t normally come out of the rivers this season but Lord Anton paid us handsomely. How about you return to your cabins and Ill send Williams to collect your things?”
The steward Williams is a rat faced man with pockmarked cheeks, he leads another crewman and asks for your gear so his staff can clean it. He is fairly polite but doesn’t make small talk and doesn’t answer any questions other than their equipment will be cleaned and brought back before dinner. The other crewman doesn’t speak or even acknowledge being spoken to. “Don’t mind him, he has been dropped on his head a few too many times.”
-Several hours later, the steward returns your equipment. The chain links of your armor have been sanded and oiled and repaired. Patches have been repaired in your newly cleaned tunics and gambesons in somewhat correct colors. Swords sharpened and oiled. Leather scrubbed and oiled and no longer smelling like wet horse. “Captain says to wear your finest for dinner this evening.”
Give PCs a chance to do stuff and wing it
- The whistle blows twice. The large dining room table has a red tablecloth and is covered in silver bowls, plates and utensils. The food smells better than anything you have eaten in your long crusade and is on par with lordly meals back in Europe. The captain sits in fine unfamiliar clothing and several men stand silently in white and black sets of clothing whose style is just as unfamiliar. Buttoned at the front, odd clothe ties around their necks, even their shoes are shiny. They each hold trays with dark wine bottles and glass flutes.
“He stands and motions them to their seats. There is only he and the PCs sitting at the table. “Welcome, welcome! The Sultana is delighted to have you aboard. Now that we are underway, here are some ground rules. Feel free to wander the vessel during day light hours. At night however you must remain in your quarters. Further, try not to engage the crew and disturb their work. If you have a question, find Mr Williams or myself and we will gladly help you. Other than that, enjoy the hospitality that the Sultana presents. That there is in our crowded conditions that is. And remember, don’t bother with the other passengers, they are poor conversationalists.
-The food is delicious.
-He passes around a Bottle of something called Kentucky Whiskey but gives no indications of what Kentucky is. He will follow his orders he was paid to follow and try to avoid disclosing information about his world and about this world. I had them take glasses of the whiskey and roll con checks to see how they reacted. The ranger and the cleric(who is still remaining mostly silent and usually hiding her identity) passed their checks with a 1 and didnt even wince at the whiskey. The thief passed but not by alot so he had a lot of wincing. The Paladin failed and over reacted to it and chose not to have more.
Info the PCs might be able to get out of him
-We are sailing on the Sea of Sorrows and will arrive in Soureign in 3days.
-Will not answer further questions about where they are. “My employer who had me collect you gave specific instructions that I wasn’t to clue you fine folk into where you are for fear of discouraging your progress. I will say if you were still unaware, you just left the land of Lamordia and we are bound for the island of Soureign.
-We do not normally sail out during this season. I anticipate extremely rough weather and possible hostilities once we round the cape tomorrow. Have no worry, we shall endeavor to keep the Sultana afloat."
-"I was paid a hefty sum to meet you 4 days ago that was worth braving the elementd"
-He likes to change the subject to where the PCs are from and the year.
-Remember to stay in your room at night. The watch may mistake you for…something else and react accordingly.
First night nothing happens. During the day the weather gets worse. The boat proves that it is not a sea going vessel and waves and water pour across the gunnels. "Never fear my friends, she can take it." Everyone who fails a CON check gets seasick.-Only happened to the ranger
During travel the second day a harsh storm blows in. It calms a bit before the evening but the wind still howls and water still spalshes over the deck. The captain appears with a lantern a tin and some shredded cotton rags. No time to explain, we might be needin’ your help, you might want to put that fancy armor on. Also, what you are about to see, is something you likely don’t expect, remember your allies may not look like allies and don’t let their looks fool you. Quick put the cotton in your ears as deep as they can go. He then uses a wooden spoon and slathers the contents of the tin on your ears. Searing pain as its hot wax. You can only hear the loudest of noises.
When PCs go out, lanterns are lit around the ship swinging from their mounting hooks. The wind buffets you and water sprays from time to time over the side. You can vaguely hear some kind of haunting song from all sides. Oddly you don’t see any of the ragged men you have seen the last couple days.
“Along the wet wooden deck stand several corpses in various states of decay armed with rusty sabers. They look outward however and not at you.” Wisdom check. “They appear to be wearing sailor’s clothing.”
A blow glow appears from around the corner and the spectral form of Mr. Williams walks/floats over to the large form of what appears to be the Captain. He gives an evil broken toothed grin at you. He wears some sort of dark uniform with brocade and a stripe down the sides but its all shades of glowing blues and greens.
The Captain turns to speak with him. He is corporeal and wears the tattered remnants of a blue uniform with gold buttons. He is missing part of his face and beard. In the wavey light of the laterns you can see living things in the tears of his skin and clothing. Above his right eye he even is missing his eye brow and yellow bone is visible. He carries a rusty saber and some sort of short tubular item with a small wooden handle. Several more are tucked into his stained yellow waist sash. On his head he wears a stained and tattered brimmed hat with a tarnished brass emblem. A black feather is stuck in the hat band.
Roll a horror check.- everyone passed
He yells loud enough to be heard over the wind, song and wax ear plugs “Prepare to repel boarders!”
If PCs look over the side they see several beautiful women in the water staring back at them. “Come to us. Please, save us.” They beckon. Make a save vs spell at +5 if they have the wax. Females are unaffected. If affected, the PC will just stand dumbly and stare at the railing for a complete round.
Roll initiative. Anyone affected still rolls for the battle but goes last. Anyone affected by failing the horror check suffers those affects as well. Each PC is held enthralled by one siren. The rest engage as follows.
-On round 2 the women swim to the edge of the boat next to the stupefied PCs. There is faint sound of combat from the other side of the ship. PCs get to roll another save, this time with no bonus.
Round 3 the women will grab any PC at the rail and try and pull them over. Touch attack followed by a strength check. 50% chance the captain will yank a PC back. Any PC pulled from the rails will fall to the deck and awaken. If no one grabs a PC and the siren successfully grabs a PC and pulls them overboard and they are wearing armor then they will sink, they also awaken from their stupor. Make a Str check to stay afloat and a dex check to shuck their armor which takes 3 rounds.
-The women growl, their skin seemingly pulls back and reveal rows of sharp teeth and black eyes and propel themselves on board with their tails. There are 12 total of the siren things.
Corrupted Sirens- hp10 AC6 strength14. Spears and harpoons. When they lose half their number, they will start to retreat. Any PC in the water has a strong chance of being killed in the water and drug away.
8 will leap onto the deck while 4 stay in the water and hurl harpoons.
-This was a rough fight, no one died but 3 of them were enthralled and couldnt shake it until the thief managed to kill one revealing their true nature turning it into a slugfest. I think the paladin actually threw a harpoon at one and fumbled and hit the cleric.
“And this is why we don’t sail during this season. Return to your room, your assistance was appreciated.”
Dawn breaks but its only noticeable due to it being a cold grey and not the pitch black. In the distance you can see the dark of trees indicating land. Your vessel chugs towards the dark coast slowly revealing a narrow beach of driftwood littered sand followed by an interior of dark twisted trees covered in grey moss. The boat steers for the mouth of a wide river of inky black water flowing out into the sea. All the men in tattered blue uniforms are back and are milling around.
You have no concept of direction with the leaden sky not even giving a glimpse of the sun. The clouds to your left seem darker and more threatening as you enter the mouth of the river. The breeze stops immediately. You see thick swamp on both sides.
Ahead in the river you see what appears to be a small flat bottomed boat simply floating in the river and your steam boat steers towards it with a lurch. The captain, now looking alive approaches you, “Fair travelers, it would seem our host has seen fit to send you a raft to finish this trip”
You notice your vessel is riding lower in the water the closer you get to the boat. “I would hurry if I was you. It seems that we have caught fire.” He says twirling his mustache between his fingers. The few crew you can see carry on like nothing is going on despite water starting to run across the deck. However the rear of the ship is aflame with smoke pouring out of the doors and windows.
-The ship continues to chug forward despite the water now ankle deep and flames hundreds of feet into the sky. The tattered men in blue are jumping over board with cries of “I cant swim!” and the like. Most are swimming only a few dozen feet before disappearing under the water. The captain nor the crew seem to notice. “I would go East if I were you.” Pointing to your right. ”I do wish I could tell you more. I recommend you mind your manners, our gentleman host tends to have a bit of a short fuse. I bid you a due, maybe our paths will cross again.” As the boat bumps the side of the ship you note now that the water is knee deep that it doesn’t seem to even get the crew’s clothes wet. As the last PC gets on the flat bottomed boat the riverboat continues forward angling down. Mr Williams nods his hat to you as he stands on the bridge which quickly submerges. Soon only the tall smoke stack is visible and even it quickly disappears beneath the inky black water. The cloud of smoke vanishes with the ship.There is silence, none of the men in blue are visible and none made it to shore. Oddly, none went to the skiff you are sitting on. There is a 12 foot pole in the boat.” You see what appears to be a large storm gathering to the west.
After this I gave them more exp and the thief/rogue leveled to level 2. A good thing since he seems to be the most commonly knocked unconscious character. Like any DM I dont read this word for word and often have to do stuff on the fly like the whiskey thing I added and left them wondering what a Kentucky is. I pretty much ran the siren fight to re-learn how the morale system works. Its great. I ran that fight pretty easy. I let the players fight whoever they were fighting and after two rounds I simply started rolling d20s for the other combatants. If one rolled more than 5 higher than the other I called it a win for that roller and killed the other. For the two officers, I just narrated theirs and had them move to help whoever was closest. Super easy on the fly. Bonus points for anyone who recognizes the Sultana and its characters reference.
Last edited by Corsair14; 2021-09-02 at 10:38 PM.PCs are not exceptional. They are normal Joe Shmoes stuck in exceptional circumstances.
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Re: 2e Black Crusade intro If anyone is interested
I am going to paraphrase this rather than have a massive block of text. Aside from the Anton section, it will follow the Night of the Walking Dead adventure.
They left off sitting in the middle of a river after the Sultana sank And started poling the raft east. I started the Night of the walking Dead adventure at this point and added in a visit with Anton Miroi who essentially started them on their overall quest. Bring me the Laginate Grimoire that entered the world with you and I will use it to send you home. Also at this point I took the kid gloves off since the railroad pretty much ends.
They fought the Dragon in the swamp(actually an alligator but their characters didnt know this), their cleric was almost eaten by the giant toads in the reeds, they cooked up frog legs. But no one wanted to wade around in the water to search the reeds thus missing two +1 short swords in a sunk flat bottom boat. I even rolled wisdom checks just to see if they would notice on my end, all four failed.
The ranger failed her tracking/direction sense and they wandered with a strong sense of direction the wrong way. At noon I let her roll again and explain to everyone else why she was changing course.
They made it to Anton's manor and get herded by several hundred zombies to the building. Only the paladin passed his fear check, everyone else ran for their lives leaving him to go "Guys?"
Anton gave his spiel, get the book for me,send you back, the nature of the realm, dark powers, dont trust anyone or anything, time isnt linear, The Raven Queen on the Isle of Ravens might know where the Grimoire is. Be sure to bring a black rose and deliver this missive in a heavy wax sealed scroll case to her. Not sure where you would find a black rose, go ask the Vistani. Remember you are a pawn, knowing you are a pawn may save you.
They get back on the walking dead adventure. Meet those vistani who inform them of the realm of Sithicus. Get to the floating house(its on stilts over the water). Next day get to town in time to see the funeral with the kicking casket and we called it for the night.
Everyone had a good time being lost in the swamp. I may add the short swords they missed into the adventure somewhere, maybe a nondescript mausoleum or in the manor. They will have to search for them though since they completely overlooked the spot last time.PCs are not exceptional. They are normal Joe Shmoes stuck in exceptional circumstances.
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Part 4. Our Stalwart crusaders see the bizarre funeral, get their weapons worked on by the blacksmith, meet their first demi-human who they immediately assume is a dwarf/ vertically challenged person, not a dwarf/lives in mountains-likes gold and mining- person. The rogue offers to even help him reach things on the top shelf. We dont have any PCs of German ancestry so there was no mention of dwarf tossing in game.
They stay at the inn, the two female characters continue to pretend to be male, get chatted up by the bubbly barmaid, who they then discover was killed during the night. They first think its the baker doing all the murders but then discover she is a fairly large pastry loving woman who has trouble fitting through doors and loves spoiling everyone with red licorice and pastries. They also have arranged to go with Duncan in the bar to travel with him Port El' houre despite it only being a mile and a half away(never understood why this town was this close). They have also proceeded to ask every single person they have run into if they know where a black rose grows.
On the afternoon of day 3 they head off to the plantation and run into the macabre dinner party and the 28 weeks later scene where they are looking through the window and suddenly a red eyed monster slides in front of them to stare. Battle breaks out, paladin(who was looking through the window) manages to shatter the window and promptly get paralyzed by a ghoul. I think they are in for a rough time and start looking up the town priests info for an intervention. The rogue proves himself to be a badass and kills three out of four ghouls and wounds the fourth. The paladin actually wears his paralyzation off and then gets paralyzed again despite having the highest AC in the group. Meanwhile the cleric gets hit hard but doesnt die and avoids being paralyzed(cleric have great base saving throws for some reason). The paladin's aura of Protection really saves the day here as quite a few times I would have hit but that -1 to hit just barely saves them and claws their armow instead. They search the house, the rogue finds one of the short swords +1 that they missed earlier since he not only rolled high searching but specifically said he was searching the area I hid it in. He also stole the silver platters.
They report back to town, tell the constable who gathers a posse and heads up to the plantation. They identify all the bodies but dont locate all the missing villagers. Meanwhile, the encounter between Jean Tara'scon murdering a woman in an alley happens. The humerous 'which direction did the scream come from?" happens. Paladin thinks it was the wrong way and everyone else makes their wisdom check for the correct direction and once again the party splits, 2 go one way, 2 go the other. The correct two encounter the murderer and stop the crime but the guy escapes because the ranger spends too much time deciding what to do despite my counting up the distance he ran before being out of sight. The zombie lord night time encounter happens as the inn is having a partial party for them having stopped the ghouls and rescuing the inn keeper's daughter. Two characters succumb to Contagion effects from the zombie lord's odor. One is cured by the paladin. The other in the morning goes to the church and after talking to the priest he decides to help them with his scroll of cure disease. Despite having a cleric of their own and a paladin, they are amazed by this show of magic.
So for some reason they decide to split up again. The ranger, paladin and cleric head off to the cemetery while the rogue and Luc Taras'con go to the general store so he can sell the silver and the dwarf gives him a good deal being a hero and all. As the rogue and Luc walk to the cemetery Jean strikes from behind doing 12 damage to the level 3 rogue. In yet another display of melee masterwork, the rogue takes on the level 4 rogue and wins with only 1 HP remaining. I didnt even fudge the rolls. He then loots the body before the constable arrives gaining the potions, the +1 dagger, and a ring of protect +1. However no one has even bothered to cast detect magic despite the cleric having it memorized.
Note: On memorized spells, I allow spontaneous casting of the Cure line of spells to substitute the appropriate level. For example at level 1 the priest has detect magic memorized but suddenly has need to cast Cure light wounds, so she casts that instead. Only difference is a memorized Cure Light Wounds is 1d8+1 and a spontaneous cast is just 1d8, not a major difference.
So next adventure begins with the Storm breaking.PCs are not exceptional. They are normal Joe Shmoes stuck in exceptional circumstances.
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The Storm broke, the army of the dead marched on the town. The rogue who is turning into the defacto leader of the group suggested to get to the cemetery and not take the frontal approach through the horde of shambling zombies. Then someone else suggested looking for a headstone with six stars on it. They expected to find the scroll there but instead found the secret passage to the old cemetery which is walled up to keep things in. After finding vermin filled mausoleum after mausoleum they finally made it to the top of the hill and found the Tarascon mausoleum containing the zombie lord. Three of the four suffered effects from the zombie lord's odor, two being incapacitated for 3 rounds due to nausea and vomiting. The ranger permanently lost a point of constitution. The cleric was just fine.
They did the fight sequence after the zombie lord said his monologue which I added "Now join my army of the dead!"in honor of Diablo 2 coming back out. That will not be the last diablo reference this campaign. Fight was rough, it took them forever to figure out non-magical weapons did exactly jack to a Ju-Ju zombie. The cleric charged the zombie guarding the zombie lord who then used one of his Animate Zombie powers to force her to Save vs Death Magic. She rolled a 2 and fell to the floor rising two rounds later to attack the ranger from behind as a zombie.
The rogue once again took command as soon as his stun effect wore off and started shooting zombies with his bow. Then the red moon of prophecy appeared and stunned all the undead. (thats actually written into the scenario) So they went and concentrated fire on the zombie lord. Eventually he did go down as did all the lesser zombies(my own idea) but the Ju-Ju hating the living kept on fighting. The rogue then figured out that his weapons actually worked while the ranger's did not. The paladin could not be used for information because he couldnt hit the broadside of a barn the entire fight. FInally it went down to the DPS master rogue.(He isnt really, he just seems that way)
Back to town they went and found the sun coming up for the first time since they had been in this accursed land. Town celebrates. Dwarf general store offers his behind the counter wares since they were heroes. The town priest will cast a detect magic in the morning so they know what they have that is magic. Ring of fire resistance and a ring of +1 AC plus a short sword and a dagger. Unfortunately they have no one to cast Identify to know what they do so I am still going to have to keep track of bonuses and add them behind the screen.
All in all a good ending. Now they are off to Port and to see more of the Dread Lands.PCs are not exceptional. They are normal Joe Shmoes stuck in exceptional circumstances.
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The How Many References can I put in one sub-adventure night
The group got its hero's party and were politely told to please leave before any other calamities hit the village. So they continued up the road to the city of Port D'elhour where everyone in antebellum clothes, suits and top hats, pistols in holsters and blind voodoo witch doctors made them feel fairly unwelcome. Someone even asked them if they were on their way to a themed masquerade dressed in 11th century armor and clothes as they were. They found a witchdoctor named Mrs. Cleo who felt sorry for them and bought the giant bat wings they had been saving for a couple silver, found out that the paladin worships a god that is known here more as the White God( Princess of Wands reference). Missing a cleric I had them meet a Dwarf from Krynn in one of the only semi-welcoming taverns on Bourbon St. He is a 2/2 Cleric Fighter of Reorx. He is waiting for a ship to get him the hell out of here.
Soon enough The Far Wanderer captained by an olive skinned man named Warrev(oh its just starting) arrives at port and takes them on board. Their destination is Sebua in the northern dread land of Sebua and the town of.....Lut Ghulain. They pass through the North South Sea and go from freezing wet cold and rough seas into Nova Vassa and its comfortable climate to Odaire, along the way they pass the medusa Althea's Island and make a note to come back some day to explore it since Warrev flat out said no and he was on a schedule.
Overnight on the 6th night they pass into Sebua and Warrev points out some creatures basking on the shore line and hands the rogue his periscope which brings the giant crocodiles that they continue to call dragons right up close giving us a scene where the rogue waves his sword at them and has Warrev mumbling under his breath asking how these barbarians ever took Jerusalem in the first place--what, nothing.... He kindly informs them that they are crocodiles, not dragons. They pass a giant statue of a jackal-headed human holding out his hand to say stop(old school everquest reference) pass the Blood River who Warrev has to kindly tell the barbarians that it flows through iron rich soils turning it blood red. In the distance they see Lut Ghulain, Gem of the North, with gold shining off its minerets in the distance.
Here their ship is impounded. I begin the more sand box nature of the the campaign at this point. They hang out in towns and over hear stories about treasures in the Valley of Kings, people disappearing in town, the mine suddenly stopping its shipments of minerals, a Vistani camp outside of the walls, and the lighthouse no longer lighting up.
So they first go to the Vistani where Madam Druselia tells them she will give them a reading and answer any question they may have if they find her son who went missing. Through investigations and talking to townies they think there is an evil cult operating out of the sewers. Ever in search of the Black Rose(who the dwarf turned white when Lord Soth was mentioned) they went to ask the Captain of the Guard Hasim(my references only go so far) and he tells them the stories are nonsense thats its just dissatisfied people leaving to go elsewhere. He points them in a direction and they get jumped by so dudes in black cloaks who managed to double crit and almost take out the dwarf. They decide to rest at the tavern over night and everyone heals up from spells, first aid(have I mentioned how awesome the Healing proficiency is in For Gold & Glory?) and the party the next morning goes to the site of the ambush and finds(surprise surprise) the bodies are gone. Ranger tracks them down an alley and they uncover a trap door leading down into the sewers.
Here they wander a bit and find this part of the tunnel is blocked by a portcullis. A good search roll lets them find an easy to find panel in the wall with a winch inside which then raises the portcullis. They follow the increasing smell and avoid someone above dumping their waste "water" down into the sewers and end up in a large room with heaps of trash and crap. The crap jokes never end. No really, they go on for at least a half hour. So the rogue decides to go and check the piles of crap with a non-magical longsword he picked up somewhere and randomly finds the pile where the town's garbage disposal is waiting in ambush and lashes out with a surprise attack. The Otyugh hits with both tentacles and manages to do wuite a bit of damage to the party but no one is ever bit. I got to use the rarely used Force Door stat twice in one battle to escape the grip of its tentacles. They eventually kill it and the party moves on without checking any more piles of crap. They find another two passages leading out, each with their own portcullis blocking it and even find panels to open them on the other side of the gate. Another rarely used stat although they did it wrong in my opinion. Each tried to bend bars/lift gates. All failed until the meek ranger gets in there and rolls a 4% lifting it enough fro the dwarf to run under it and use the winch.
The continue and they pass a secret door that I rolled and the dwarf notices them and has a "you tall-folk are blind" moment where he convinces them there is a secret door there and they refuse to believe him until he opens it. They enter and find its an actual dungeon and not the good kind. A rack sits in the room, shelves line the walls with torture implements, and a dude lies bloody and damaged shackled to the wall. Who they then try to question before once again the dwarf says maybe they should take the guy down first so he doesnt think this is another part of the torture. Paladin face palms and rogue picks the locks. The guy is a trader from the mines who was kidnapped on the street. He thinks they are directly under the jail and it was Captain Hasim and this other thing who locked him here and was torturing him for information about the mines.
And at this point it was 11pm on a work night so we called it here to give them time to think about what to do. What is actually about to happen is the sand box like I said. I also have adapted the adventure Touch of Death for this as well and that will begin once the cult is destroyed and the Vistani child is rescued. The cult is led by something(which shall be revealed later) who sacrifices people and dumps their bodies in the desert for the big baddy in Touch of Death to turn into desert zombies. I am throwing a lot of traditional but optional dungeons into this part of the campaign like the Valley of Kings stuff, the light house, and a complete mummy's tomb under the sewers. We are getting two more players next week in theory so the dwarf will hit the road or get kidnapped. My main reason for playing the cleric was to demonstrate that clerics arent just heal machines and can be useful in combat and then he gets double critted and misses 75% of his attacks with his maul. Oh well. I need to find a dungeon generator so I dont have to write up all these tombs. Having to do each one is going to be time consuming.PCs are not exceptional. They are normal Joe Shmoes stuck in exceptional circumstances.