Codex Adventum: Road to Monsterberg Beta Test

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  • #2254
    Hans Hellinger
    Moderator

    Great description Wayne and welcome to the board.

    Guys here is another one for the playtest FAQ.

    If you see “Ad Hoc” heavy gambeson or something like that under armor, it is something from the character generation software. In the system we use to make the characters, you can buy armor as a complete harness (like Gothic or Milanese Harness) or ‘Ad Hoc’ meaning different pieces and then it tries to construct a panoply out of that.

    Johannes armor consists of Bronze Bracers, an aketon (textile armor) a brigandine, and a bascinet helmet.

    The way the armor is listed on his sheet isn’t quite right though I will update it. There should be two tiers of protection, the light and heavy armor.

    #2255
    Hans Hellinger
    Moderator

    I am updating the Player character sheets to fix this stuff with the armor and a couple of other things, I’ll be sending new ones out later today.

    #2272
    JackG
    Participant

    Third session in the bag.

    Players found the mudslide and fully examined it, they found signs of gunpowder. At the ferry i inserted a Father Superior who had confiscated some occult items, the players had fun roleplaying in order to steal the magic items. Johann was pretty direct about it and it was only through good diplomacy roles that an incident was prevented. The players generally showed pretty good tactical sense throughout the entire section. I used Lothar being upset about the raucous on the ferry in order to give him reason to send them ahead to scout the road without their mounts. The fight resulted in the mounted crossbowman getting thrown. I applied the following metric. If the horse got injured the rider needs to apply a riding check, result of 15+ horse is ok, 10-15 they lose one MP dice keeping it under control, 5-10 3 mp dice, 1-5 they are thrown. The crossbowman took two hits from the PCs and was pretty much out of the picture. The Lancer charged and was parried. Then two players shanked him with knives and he got taken out pretty quickly. For future I would suggest giving characters moving at a canter 2 free active defence dice and galloping characters 3 passive MP dice. The players are starting to enjoy the system. I find it odd how hard the concept of dice pools for attacks and defenses can be to grasp for players.

    #2273
    Hans Hellinger
    Moderator

    But once they get it, a light goes on. Thanks Jack sounds like a fun time. Look forward to hearing about the next one. I’ll also start a thread to discuss some more horsemanship rules …

    #2369
    JackG
    Participant

    Got two more sessions over the last two weeks.

    So first off there was the session with the Babe or the Woods. The players got to the babe fairly uneventfully. One of the players managed to find a shady character with some baggage and lumpy burlap sacks at the bar. The party dealt with the spider fairly easily. Once they started to use wrathful strike and work tactically. One of the players wrapped it in a sheet to immobilize it.

    The session with the duke was mostly the players trying to figure out who the black magician is. They also met the duke and narrowly avoided getting arrested due to one of the players mouthing off to the Dominican Abbot. The Dominican issue seems to be following them, and almost become a running theme.

    #2370
    Hans Hellinger
    Moderator

    For anyone reading the above & not familiar with some of what he was referring to – the “Babe in the woods” is a giant (cabbage sized) magic / demonic spider which was placed in the inn-room of some of the players, with the goal of assassinating them. Though one of them was bitten and partly poisoned, the PCs in Jacks’ group managed to trap the spider in a sheet and bash it to death with a mace.

    The session with the duke was dinner meeting arranged by their patron Lothar Geich, the temporary vogt of the town of Ratibor. Apparently the PCs got into an argument with the Dominican Abbott of Ratibor, but it was settled down with some successful diplomacy. The next session should involve a large organized hunt.

    #2464
    zarlor
    Participant

    We just started up Monsterburg recently so a quick intro to the group. Charles is our GM and I’ll be playing (so avoiding reading any of the above to stay away from spoilers!) but acting as a co-GM mainly in the capacity of helping out with rules look-ups and contextual/historical assistance (only because I’m more familiar with historical combat and some of the historical framework, so I don’t know what’s in the Monsterburg book). We are an older group of gamers, except for one Millennial, who almost all cut our teeth on original 1st Edition AD&D in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s essentially house-ruling the daylights out of it. We’ve all played a very wide variety of RPGs, although these days the “go-to” system tends to be Savage Worlds but we have been enjoying some things that are more narrative/lighter rules systems lately (FATE accelerated, some Powered by the Apocalypse games, Godbound, that kind of thing). 3.5e was mostly avoided by the group, though, and we did play a 4e game and universally despised it. We do have a 5e game starting up very soon and the group tends to like that system so far so we may be using it as the underlying rules system to work with Codex for most of the RPG elements. We play a wide variety of settings as well, so lots of sci-fi, superheroes (or villains!), among many others besides just fantasy.

    On to Monsterburg… Session one was a little rocky, mostly because we got started a little later than usual and Charles, in an effort to get the group moving, read the shorter intro rather than the player intro, so as we were moving along folks had lots of questions about the “tie that binds” this group of characters together and where we were going. Largely the group just made up the pretext that we were heading to Monsterburg to join a military campaign, rather than the actual pretext of getting away from the campaign we just get stuck in! We’ll fix that in the next session, though. It didn’t help that we also didn’t have our character info sheets printed out, only the character sheets, and those info sheets are pretty useful as well, so I definitely recommend folks have both ready for their players for when they pick the characters they are interested in. We did get them passed out later, after the game, though. I might also suggest putting the “Private Bio” section (or any pieces that shouldn’t necessarily be for all players to be able to know) of those at the very bottom of the info pages or at least move the Fighting Tactics section up above it since that’s useful info when picking a character. We printed out those sheets and folded them at the Private Bio section so people wouldn’t see that part when making their choices later which put things like those tactics below the fold and, thus, not available for review for them.

    The crew started out standing in line to get into Teschen with 2 guards checking in heavy arms and armor at the gate and a monk with them handling some translation and paperwork duties, but doing so very diligently and slowing things down. One of the group suggested we offer to help but I noted that we probably wouldn’t be able to do much considering other folks were having to take time to get their armor off anyway. So we decided to just patiently waited our turn. A couple of the group had the Pronouncement allowing them to get in with their arms, but one of the group playing Nils Polheim (who changed the name to Niles Freeman… the player was REALLY, and I mean REALLY, annoyed with having to deal with things like German names he felt he had no clue how to pronounce) decided he would declare that he was a “free man” and didn’t have to hand over his arms or anything, essentially saying he was following one of the folks with a pronouncement and saying “I’m with him”, which the guards weren’t buying. I made the mistake of trying to provide the historical context of saying his trying to get in like that would be akin to walking to City Hall with a holstered pistol and somehow expecting them to let you in with it, but he got upset by that enough that even after when we suggested seeing if he had any skills like forgery or bluff or something to get in he just kind of gave up on it in a huff instead. That’s not so much a module problem, though, rather a player maybe having a bad day being upset that things weren’t following his preconceived notions or just having some issues with lots of intimidating words in a foreign language on a character sheet or something. Not following standard fantasy fare, if you will (after all it was common back in the day that if a GM did something to make you give up your weapons in town it was likely because they wanted to screw your characters over by their not having weapons!), so I blame it on a player not really ready to embrace an historical setting game more than anything else, I think.

    We did have some issues dealing with not only the money (same player got ticked off by having to use a term like “Kreuzer” and not just using terms like “silver pieces” instead, go figure) but also economic stuff in general, like figuring out if one of the players with nobility wanted to get a room at an inn, instead of an hospoda, if there was enough room at a single room for the rest of the party. We just decided there was. Our GM also noticed the costs were not listed in the module, but those are listed in Codex Martialis so I just looked them up there for him. Having them handy in the module might be useful, though.

    Also without the intro the group wasn’t fully aware of what we might want to get at the market or anything like that, it was just winging it without a really good sense of direction, but largely, after all of the extra hubbub around getting in and figuring out what was what at the inn (and some of the players adding color commentary about peasants covered in muck and the like… which I completely blame Hollywood for putting that image into their heads… with all of the other distractions we had going I didn’t really bother trying to dissuade them of that notion) we’d pretty much used up our time for the night, so we largely got almost nowhere in the scenario but hopefully we’ll have less distractions and be a little better focused next game.

    #2465
    Hans Hellinger
    Moderator

    Thanks for the writeup Lenny!

    So I went to visit Lenny and did a ‘Session Zero” combat playtest with Lenny and Charles a couple of days after their first session. I’m recounting this from memory so I may have forgotten a couple of things.

    They used pre-generated characters from the Monsterberg adventure – Lenny took Kalina Krol, a beguine mystic, and Charles had Gerd von Gleichen, a Furrier from Konstanz. Gerd had militia experienced and was well armed with a heavy arbalest crossbow and a longsword, and wearing Gothic half-armor. Kalina was less well armed but carried a latchet crossbow and a sword, while wearing a mail shirt under her habit.

    The scenario started as Gerd and Kalina were strolling down a forest road. They were approached by three young bandits. They started trying to parley with the young fellows and offered them food, but both rolled very low on their Diplomacy checks (unusually for Kalina who is something of a diplomat) and the Bandits had predatory intentions. I rolled on the Encounter Reaction table on the ‘Hostile’ column and came up with ‘Attack’.

    The bandits were carrying javelins and were armed with small dussack sabers, and wearing felt coats for (limited) protection. As they approached, things turned hostile and the bandits decided to attack, so we rolled initiative. One of the three bandits charged with his dussack while the other two hung back to throw their javelins.

    Gerd managed to draw his longsword before they closed in. He was hit with two javelins, one of which bypassed his armor and caused a significant wound. I think Kalina, while behind Gerd, spanned her crossbow and shot the lead bandit, wounding him. Then the lead bandit, who was charging, attacked Gerd with his dussack. Gerd has the MF ‘Versetzen’ so he used this to attempt a simultaneous attack and defense with two dice. They fought for two rounds IIRC, and using Versetzen Gerd parried the blow and wounded his assailant twice, the second time (using three dice) he scored a critical hit which did 20 damage and killed the guy. We rolled on the ‘Grave injuries’ table and it came up as a cut throat. Gerd sliced his blade right through the guys throat and he fell instantly dead, blood spurting.

    I did a morale check which the Bandits failed, so the remaining two Bandits fled down a side trail leading into the forest from the road. Kalina and Gerd pursued warily, spanning their crossbows on the way. They arrived in a clearing where the two remaining young bandits had approached a campfire where their three larger uncles were rising. These men were Brigands. Better armed with spears, shields, and sabers, and wearing iron lamellar armor with iron caps. The younger Bandits had gathered more javelins from around the campfire.

    We rolled initiative again. Kalina and Gerd went behind cover to steady their crossbows and used the protection of the trees. The fight started with an exchange of missiles, as Gerd shot, seriously wounding one of the Brigands with a bypass attempt. Kalina also hit and seriously wounded the same Brigand with her latchet crossbow, scoring a critical hit (we said he was struck in the face, the bolt careening off of his cheekbone and leaving a huge gash). Kalina was in turn hit by 2 javelins but her hidden armor largely protected her.

    One of the Brigands had top initiative order, and he charged Gerd with his spear. Once again Gerd managed to use Versetzen to parry the blow and wound his assailant, who was now near death, but then the other two Brigands attacked, one managing to score a bypass hit which caused substantial damage. Gerd was down to about ten hit points. Seeing Gerd wounded and beset by three tough Brigands, Kalina drew here sidesword, ran up and stabbed the lead Brigand with it, scoring an ‘Artful strike’. This finished off the lead Brigand.

    Kalina and Gerd then initiated dialogue, warning the Brigands that they had friends coming. They both rolled high on Bluff skill checks. I rolled on the morale table and it came up with a Flee result, so the remaining Brigands and Bandits decamped for the woods.

    We ended it there. Again I may have mixed up a couple of details but that is basically how it went (Lenny can correct me). Next time we do one of these I’m definitely going to record it.

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by Hans Hellinger. Reason: fixed typos
    #2469
    zarlor
    Participant

    I think you remembered more of it better than I did, actually. We did start out on horseback but warily dismounted as we offered up a picnic for the bandits in the original scenario but that’s not really noteworthy. We never quite got to the point where I really took advantage of Kalina’s MFs, but Charles became quickly enamored with Versetzen having seen it in action. That does seem to be a common reaction to some of these MFs, I have found, where people will often look at them at first with a reaction of “Meh” or even “I’ll never use that!” to seeing it actually in use in play and going, “Whoa, that’s awesome!” (Charles had that response to the “Feint” MF in a much earlier, and somewhat aborted. “Session Zero” a month or two ago).

    #2470
    zarlor
    Participant

    Seaasion 2

    At Teschen, the group checked out the market and tried to look for passage down the river to Breslau, or at least as far as any merchant sailor might take them, but for some reason (which our GM noted wasn’t available because it wasn’t listed in the module as available? Maybe a good reason for why the usual “highways” of the medieval world were shut down would be good?) We were read some of the things available at the market but the frustration with things like fancy named shoes (“kuhmaul?”, I didn’t bother pulling up a picture of them as at least one of them was already frustrated with that, and not getting to the “action”) that nobody knew what they were cropped up again. There was some question about how much of what kinds of food would last for how long on the road, so we didn’t know how much to buy to make sure we had enough food for the trip.

    Everyone also wondered why putting 3 gulden on a table would be an illegal provocation. One of the guys did find a thing that said it was Turkish thing but I missed the explanation. Still, of the listed things that were illegal that was the only one that had folks wondering why so if you happen to know it might be cool to include that tidbit in there for the players to chew on and enjoy the medieval flare of it

    In any case the Noble, Gerd, decided to risk getting a cobb horse for 2 gulden, to help pull the cart Charles said we had from last time (I forgot to mention that, folks thought the equipment looked like more than any one person could carry, even though I tried to show them it really wasn’t, so Charles decided we had a cart to carry it since they all thought it was so much) just hoping we don’t have it confiscated, but we think the lands where that was an issue is behind us. Then he bought a saddle so he could ride as well, but we couldn’t find a price for that, FWIW. One of the group got sick of dealing with money and shopping, wanting to “get to the action”.

    During all of that Jan tried to offer his services at appraising knives and swords and such and succeeded in one gentleman having already paid for a room at the inn offering it up to Jan for the evening since he had to leave that day for his appraisal assistance services, but he could offer him actual no money. However the merchant gave him 5 dinari for overlooking the flaw in that particular blade. Jan rolled poorly enough he hadn’t noticed it! Still, he sighed to himself for that mistake and took the money anyway.

    The group used the room at the inn and headed on down the road in the morning. Traveling most of the day, they saw a commotion in a field in the distance, with some festivity happening. As the group approaches they see a wedding! They are welcomed and hear about a horse racing contest and Gerd tossed in a shilling to join the race, getting a 21 on the roll against the peasant’s 19, just barely eeking out the win (the book says this should be an Animal handling check, although the player thought Ride would be appropriate for it instead, but his modifier would have been the same either way… we are not yet using skill checks with the new CM rules, so it’s a single d20 with skill modifier alone.)

    The next rider he quickly outraces.

    The 3rd rider is bucked off of his horse and badly hurt, with a drunk monk deciding to declare the poor young man not having much time left for this world and trying to drunkenly give last rights, but Gerard, the physician, stepped forward to see to the young man. The monk’s prostrations were interfering but Nils offered a bit of ale to distract and pull him away so the monk wouldn’t interfere and he happily was drawn away by the lure of more ale. Gerard diagnosed him with a broken clavicle. He tried his best to set it and thankfully had a poultice just making it with a 16 on a 15 DC check and thus resetting the break with his good ministrations. Earning the thanks of the lad’s father and an offer to him to spend the night at his home instead of having to pay for space at the hospoda.

    The 4th race race Gerd won well, too, but the next man (obviously not even from this village) was an excellent rider. Still with a natural 20 Gerd knocks out another win, but the man was obviously displeased and was seen with others he had been with obviously disgruntled..

    The 6th race sees another rider with a natural 1 falling off their horse counting as another win (at least this poor man wasn’t too hurt).

    The final opponent, another from the group of the disgruntled rider, barely wins (20 to Gerd’s 19 even with a -5 to his roll), but Gerd found a burr under his saddle most suspiciously. Gerd called out the other man as a cheat and a liar, and the stranger decided to challenge Gerd, so they moved to a field. Gerd firing a bolt from his crosbow at the man with 1MP, but the stranger was just able to deflect with his buckler. The player got very, very frustrated with not being able to load another bolt right away for some reason (and being upset that he couldn’t find “AC” on his sheet), so he spent another MP to draw his sword, at which point Kunst stepped in with a great Diplomacy roll to diffuse the situation, as the villagers were also calling for peace, wanting to celebrate the wedding rather than suffer the violence of a fight.

    I found out later the reason for the frustration had to do with a failed “session 0” he had done earlier where I really needed to brush up on Codex Martialis beforehand and our GM was definitely not too familiar with it, so our doing it wrong left a really bad taste in his mouth about the system and that was what was boiling over there. I’ve spoken to him about it and let him know we did it wrong so he’s much more amenable to trying to give it a fair shake next time, I hope. He is one of the group that much prefers narrative systems, mind you, so crunchy combat may always be a bit of an issue for him. I think we have a lot of negative predispositions to get over for some of the group in some ways, I’m sorry to say, which sometimes makes playing this a high hurdle right now. My apologies if things come off a bit negatively because of that. At least you know they won’t hold back their feelings about things they don’t like!

    Some of the group then spent the night at a local hospoda, while the physician and Gerd (as his guard) stayed at the home of the young man he had healed earlier.

    The next day they were off again until they came to a mudslide in the road. Some peasants from the wedding showed up and mentioned a trail to the north they would travel along to go around it, and we decided to join them, being concerned about trying to go through the mudslide with the horse and cart. Another hour later the weather became threatening and started raining, at which point we saw a ferry to get across river, needing to be on the other side to get to the next big town on the way (Rathbor, or something like that. Sorry if I mess up the names), so we rushed to get on it, but he could only take 2 people, or 1 horse, across at a time and at a cost of 2 denari per person, and 10 for the horse.

    It should be noted here that the physician had for money only 5 pieces of jewelry worth .1, but we didn’t know .1 of what, so we assumed it was .1 Gulden each, so he had half a Gulden/20 Kreuzer woth of Jewlery, as our assumption, if he wanted to trade it.

    Some of the guys were a bit tired and we ended up calling it there for the night, a bit earlier than usual.

    #2471
    Hans Hellinger
    Moderator

    Yikes, that sounds pretty rough. Maybe I should run another session while Corey is there.

    Sounds like I also need to go through and purge a bunch of those weird sounding foreign names.

    The 3 gulden fine thing … I don’t know if I included this in the passage about it in Monsterberg in that section on forbidden dueling provocations, the fine for all those other violations like opening your coat, scratching sparks on the cobblestones, or drawing your sword etc. is always 3 gulden. Putting the money on the table means you are ready to pay the fine.

    I’ll put in prices for saddles though when in doubt, just wing it (extrapolate from the other stuff). There is no way to include everything, but all those prices are in there partly to give you a sense of how much things cost.

    Sorry it was such a rough session hope the next one is better.

    #2481
    zarlor
    Participant

    Oh, don’t get me wrong, there were rough spots but I think it went well enough for the most part. Some frustrating parts for me just because I could tell when my trying to explain something would probably just make things worse. I think we might have some of that ironed out after a bit of discussion after the game and a promise to give things a look with fresh eyes, so to speak, rather than through the lens of a failed, early, “session 0”. I don’t really know why some of the guys get annoyed by the names, but admittedly they don’t really need to be called such things when an equipment listing of things like “Shoes, plan” and “Shoes, fancy” would probably be plenty good enough. Or “Platendienst” for armor rather than just “Coat of Plates”. I’ve found it hard to be able to get across what things are when even I have to try to google some of them to find out what they are and, by then, some of the guys are just annoyed that they don’t really have any clue about it themselves. So presumably there is a fine line between what gives the game flavor and when that just becomes too much and gets in the way of the gaming part.

    In any case I’d also suggest some ideas on food items for how may meals or days that thing would last for, too. It’s one thing to get some idea on the costs, but not having a solid understanding of how much a quart of pickled cucumbers really is, or at least how far it goes, left folks at a bit of a loss as well.

    Also, the more I use the character sheets the more I dislike Skill being sorted by Rank. That is helpful in a few situations but with so many skills it’s a lot more helpful when they are just in alphabetical order to quickly find what you need in a given moment. I know the descriptions are that way, but when you most need them is when you need to make that roll so quickly finding it to know your modifier is when it would be most helpful.

    #2482
    Hans Hellinger
    Moderator

    Well, I’m going to answer this with two different hats on.

    First, with the hat of a purveyor of games to the general public, I’m sorry y’all had trouble with the platendeinst and the Kuhmaul shoes. As I said I think I need to go through and purge out a bunch more foreign words. Part of the reason they are in there is that I made a very useful (for me) computer program which allows me to generate characters and equipment lists, but the database is all historical stuff with historical names. I need to go through and put in generic / modern / Americanized names in there for everything but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. At this point it’s easier to just correct the stuff after it comes out, kind of like with removing the 3.5 bits.

    Obviously if y’all are struggling with that, and you aren’t the only group who has brought this up, I’ll need to simplify the language somewhat.

    I also think I’m going to make another pass through the skills on the PCs and remove about half of them, that should make it easier to find the ones you are looking for. And I’m going to remove about half of the minor equipment too so people don’t think they need a cart.

    With my other hat on, lets call it the fencing mask of Lenny’s friend who knows all the guys in your group (pretty much) – I’d have to say, come on lads you can use a bit of common sense (rule zero for Codex). I don’t know precisely how long a quart of pickles will last you either off the top of my head. That is in there because at some point, somewhere, I ran across a price list from some medieval source which mentioned the cost of a quart of pickles.

    If pressed (and I am) I would figure it out the same way you can. I know all of you guys have been grocery shopping before. I know you have all prepared dinner for yourselves. Presumably most if not all of you have been camping. My guess if you had a big jar of pickles the size of a quart jug of milk, it would be enough to live on for two or three days at least (though I bet you’d be sick of pickles) and it might ward off starvation for one person for say, a week?

    I think when I was making all those PC’s I gave them enough food to last 2 or 3 days, like some bread or a small wheel of cheese or something. Or a quart of pickles. So when you are looking a list of stuff in a marketplace, just pretend you are about to go a long multi-day hike which might involve some camping and try to imagine what you might want to bring with you, given the fact that you have to carry it (assuming you might lose the cart at some point).

    Also, I don’t think y’all need a cart. There is a guy in the Irish group who definitely does, but I don’t think y’all do yet.

    #2498
    zarlor
    Participant

    Common sense!?! You know me less well than I thought you did! 😉

    #2500
    Hans Hellinger
    Moderator

    Hahahahaha…. I saw you had replied and i was worried you were going to write a crushing refutation of my ‘common sense’ post…

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