Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Beginner's Guide to The Siege of Crasmere

I'm writing this for a guide to new players and new Game Masters. First of course download and print this adventure and a few copies of Swords & Wizardry Light also the printer-friendly Black & White version can be found here.

Why Is There Not A Map Included?
I do this because this is your game and your world. So it is up to you to determine the size and length of the adventure. But this is easy for this adventure. You can do this pregame or at the table. Just get a piece of paper, it can be plain or graphing paper it doesn't matter. Then draw yourself a big square, rectangle, circle, or whatever shape. This is your 15-foot wall around the village. Now decide where the gate is and draw a road through it to some central point of the village. Then draw different shapes and sizes of buildings. You should number a few for key buildings like the inn, blacksmith, temple, etc. This map should be out on the table for all the players to see and use (since the players start inside the village they would know where the key locations are). You should also know the names of some of the key NPCs like the innkeeper, blacksmith, village leader, etc.

Adventure Hook
For this adventure you just need to ask the characters why they are in Crasmere. If they seem lost or just don't know, this is how you can help; First, you can ask if any of the characters are from Crasmere. If anyone says yes ask about their family, what do they do for a living, what is the reason for them being the class that they are. For any characters that are not from Crasmere here are some suggestions.
Fighter:
- Mercenary passing through looking for work.
- Was hired by a NPC (have the player name the NPC) for a job (what was/is the job?).
Cleric:
- There because it is the closest town that has a temple dedicated to their god (have the player name the god).
- There looking to convert villagers.
Thief:
- There to steal something from a NPC (have the player name the NPC).
- In a holding cell because they got caught trying to steal something.
Magic-User:
- There to visit the small library looking for a specific book (have the player name the book).
- There looking to buy components/alchemy supplies.

Starting the Adventure
I would suggest telling the characters that they are all at the inn. Either because they are staying there for the night or just eating/drinking there for any local characters. And just let them roleplay with each other and the NPCs to do the whole meet and greet thing. Maybe some of the characters already know each other or even related. But for the most part this will be the first time they will be meeting each other. Allow them to roleplay freely if they want. And then at some point have a NPC (name them) run in screaming (maybe even injured) that the village is under attack! And now the adventure will begin...

Running the Game
This is where you have the most freedom to do what you want. What is happening in the village once the characters step outside of the inn? If your players are not motivated to leave the inn then force them to leave in someway. We know the premise of this adventure is that a clan of orcs and goblins are attacking the village. And looking at the features for this adventure we can see that they are in the process of breaking through the wall somehow. Now, does this mean they haven't breached the walls yet or did some get through by ladders or other ways? Do you want the characters to have to face off some minor goblins who managed to get their way in before tackling the task outside of the gate? Or did none get through and they must defend the walls and gate?

How large is the attacking clan? 20 orcs/goblins? 80 orcs/goblins? Honestly, it doesn't matter. Don't write out a number that is set in stone. Refer to the features. We know we have some orcs setting fire to parts of the walls. We know that there is at least one ogre attacking the gate trying to break it down. And we know that goblins are shooting arrows into the village. That alone tells us that this town is surrounded but the exact number doesn't matter. Are all of these features happening at once or are they stages that happen throughout the adventure?

Also, don't worry about the stats of each and every single NPC. Quickly roll for hit points for goblins and orcs. Whatever you roll is the hit points for every orc and goblin the characters encounter. The same as the ogre (that is if you want more than one ogre in this adventure).

Very important thing to remember is that the characters are in a friendly village with some men-at-arms. They are not the only ones defending the village. The men-at-arms and other villagers may be doing their part. Allow the characters to interact and help guide the villagers. There is an ogre trying to bash down the gate but the eastern and western walls are on fire. What are the characters going to do? Split up with the villagers? Stay together and hope they can stop these things one by one?

How Do I Know My Players Are Winning or Losing?
This isn't that hard to determine. First, are they still alive? If yes, then they are winning! This is when we can take a look at the features. Did the characters stop the ogre from breaking down the gate? Yes (winning) No (losing but not all is lost). Did the characters prevent the fires from destroying the walls? Yes (winning) No (losing but not all is lost). What about Klatt of Brokentusk? What is she doing? Does she charge in on her worg through the gate when the ogre breaks it down? Or does she sit back and watch as all of this happens? What is her main goal? What if the gate is destroyed and some of the walls are destroyed and now the village is filled with orcs and goblins? Do they kill and destroy everything? Or are they just there for one item or person? What if the characters kill Klatt does that mean the rest of the clan scatters and run away or do they even care? But what happens to the characters if they lose the village and don't kill Klatt? Do they die? Are they taken as prisoners? Or are they just left behind once the clan leaves? Does Klatt flee when the characters stop the ogre and fires?

Remember, if the characters fail to defend the village it doesn't mean they "lost." It just means the story has now made a turn both you and your players didn't expect. And they still check off one adventure on their character sheet.

Closing the Session
Whether they defended the village or not you now have completed part one of your (the GM and players) story. What happens next? You can now take this One-Page Adventure and expand it into a much larger campaign. Maybe there was a lot more going on in the background that caused Clan Brokentusk to raid a peaceful village. Maybe there's a spy in Crasmere that was behind the whole attack. Or maybe Klatt was possessed by a demon that drove her mad. It's your world and your game so just have fun with it!

Character Death
So a character has died. What are you going to do? This is easy. You can either let them just become an observer for the rest of the session or let them roll up another character at the table. Rolling up another character will more than likely be the best option. You are in a village and it is easy for a villager to decide that they are choosing to take on more of a "leading role" in this story. Just let the players understand beforehand that this game can be very deadly. Death is going to happen. There is no way around it. If a player has a character that died and would like to roll up another character then that would be a good point to take a quick five-ten minute bathroom/snack/smoke/beer/whatever break. Let the player roll up their new character and get back into the action. No need for a backstory for this second...or third character. If they live at the end then they can take the time to flesh out their new character.

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