TES: High Rock, Session 3

After dispatching a small group of necromancers, the party made its way to Wayrest, one of the most central cities of High Rock.

While staying at the Way Rest Inn, they spied another band of adventurers, drinking and bragging about how they had just gone on a quest for a god. There were four of them.

Rogue visited the King of Wayrest, a Breton teenager called Nikolai Evergreen, to ask for aid in defending Orsinium. The king said yes, and promised to send soldiers in defense of the Orc city.

Fighter went to the Mage’s Guild and agreed to guard a pair of scholars while they looked for mushrooms. On the way, the party cleared out a cave of goblins, and came across a skeleton with a shiny necklace of bronze and quartz. Rogue pocketed it. Druid took a totem staff from one of the goblin shamans, a long piece of wood with a goblin head grotesquely mounted on the end.

Later in the expedition, the party came across a shrine to the Daedric Prince of Destruction, Mehrunes Dagon. The shrine had instructions that an offering of skulls was necessary to talk to the deity, and that those who pleased Dagon would be awarded his Razor. There were four fresh skulls already at the altar. The party hypothesized that the group they saw in the bar might have left them, and had been referring to Dagon as the god they had served.

Druid removed the head from his goblin staff and used it as a sacrifice to speak with Dagon. Druid asked for information regarding the predicted destruction of Orsinium that the party is trying to prevent. Dagon told the Druid that if they completed a task for him, he would not only reveal what he knew, but also award them his Razor. The task was to find the tomb of a dead priest of Dagon, retrieve her mace, and use it to deface a shrine to Akatosh, God of Time, and one of Dagon’s most hated enemies.

Wanting to pursue the other group of adventurers, the party gained some information in Wayrest before leaving: experts on the Daedra could be found in the Mage’s Guild in the city of Northpoint. The necklace that Rogue found on a skeleton in the cave belongs to a family of soldiers, also in Northpoint. Finally, the other adventurers were on their way to Daggerfall, to pursue another quest.

The party hired a boat to Daggerfall in order to find the other adventurers. On the way, a pious orc aboard the ship told the party that the tomb of Dagon’s priest might be somewhere in the Alik’r Desert, while the wayshrine of Akatosh is northwest of Camlorn.

During the trip to Daggerfall, the party was told that pirates had been attacking ships nearby. Druid decided to use the whales to take a closer look at a nearby island for pirates. The plan backfired as he was spotted, and the pirates gave chase, attacking the boat they were using to get to Daggerfall and killing several crew members. This act hurt their reputation among the sailors.

Finally, landing in Daggerfall, the team learned that the local Mage’s guild is interested in purchasing one of the Daedric artifacts that can be obtained by serving those deities. They told Fighter about a nearby shrine to Peryite, Daedric Prince of Disease. The party embarked towards the shrine in the marshlands, hoping to find the other adventurers, secure a magical artifact, and as always, get gold and XP.

Tip: You Talking is a Cutscene.

Every piece of advice I put up on here will have been repeated by many people all over the internet. But despite that I’m still waiting on a GM who consistently delivers on this one thing. So maybe it hasn’t been repeated enough. I don’t know.

My advice is this: rush your players to the next meaningful choice in the game. If your players aren’t making choices, they’re just listening to you talk. Obviously this is going to happen, since you need to give them information, but my point is that every single moment you spend talking is just like a cutscene in a video game. They’re cool, sometimes they’re even vital, but they’re not really part of the game.

If you tell your party they need to fly to Japan to talk to the Yakuza leader who is arranging your next heist, you don’t need to ask if they pack their passport before they head to the airport, right? It’s obvious. It’s not a choice. You can ask if they try to smuggle their weapons and equipment onto the flight or if they’ll just buy some when they get there, though. That’s meaningful.

I think the Alexandrian did a great job discussing it here. I highly recommend their content on GMing advice.

Campaign Challenges 1

My campaign in the world of the Elder Scrolls is something I’m really excited about. I’ve been a fan of the series since Oblivion came out, and I’m currently getting through my first playthrough of Morrowind. I’ve been trying for a long time to capture the feeling of freedom and wonder of those games over the table, and this is the first time I’ve run a campaign from the ground up in the world of Tamriel.

There are a couple of challenges. My university semester only lasts until late August, at which point most of my players will part ways. This gives me 14 sessions to work with, and because of scheduling constraints I have precisely 3 and a half hours every session. I needed a natural way to set a time limit on the campaign.

I decided to base the campaign around a prophecy that would come to pass in 100 days. This gives the players incentive to explore the world and prepare for it instead of spending hours picking flowers and crafting iron daggers. But it turns out this solution presents a few problems of its own.

For one thing, in-game time doesn’t line up well with time in real life. If I have 14 sessions until the campaign ends, we need to get through an average of 7 days of in-game time every session. The last session will probably be taken up by the big final battle, and we’re already two sessions in with 96 days left to cover. That means we have to get through 9 days of content every session. Working against me is the fact that the players will want to get as much done every in-game day as possible.

My original plan was to make sure travel time remained significant and fill the world with interesting distractions and dangers, just like in the video games. By creating quests that send the players all over the world, we can use up in-game time more efficiently.