We started our second full Freebooters campaign last night (I’ve also run a bunch of one-shots with the rules), and it went great! Three of the players had created characters at our last session, so while the fourth made up his character, we talked a little about the rules, how the setting generation works, etc. One of the players had never played a PbtA game before, but she’s been awesome and very willing to try out new systems with our group, so I knew she’d be on board.
Once all the characters were created, our party consisted of:
Nyle, an extremely charismatic, but thoroughly evil human thief, played by Amber
Tobrec, a dim but burly human fighter, played by Rose
Seaver, a mercurial human magic user, played by Shane
and Mirin, a good, selfless, chain-wielding dwarf fighter played by Ryan
I had printed out a bunch of the maps from MadVandel’s map pack, and offered to let the group choose which one we would use, but they have fully embraced the “Let’s roll randomly and see what we get” ethos of Freebooters, so we let the dice decide. Once we had our map, we went around the table establishing facts about the setting. Rose placed our setting a few miles inland form the coast, and rolled up a village, with natural defense, and with a religious focus. After some discussion, we determined that the village had grown up around an ancient monastery dedicated to a now little worshipped god, and named the settlement “New Town” (Uusipunki really, since we rolled on one of the random name tables form Perilous Wilds, but I getthe feeling we’ll mostly stick with New Town in play). Ryan determined that the area surrounding the village was swampy wetlands, and that the natural defenses were that the monastery/village was built on a plateua in the midst of the swamp that was hard to get to.
We circled around the group, rolling regions and places on the PW tables, and ended up with some evoactive place names like The Quagmire of Darkness, the Ashen Vale, Doom’s Blighted Mountains, The Long Reach(a sandy coastline across the bay), and the Valley of Thieves.Shane added that in ancient times, the region was inhabited by the Tijuman people, a theocratic empire devoted to the god Reima (teh same god that the monastery is devoted to). Reima is a god of phiulosophy, Generosity, and Fertility. Alas for the Tijumans, their peaceful empire was overthrown by an invasion of barbarians.
Rose told us that, later, a new culture, the Hemetians, rose in the area. These people tried to domesticate giants, but eventually the giants threw of their bonds of servitue and tore down the cyclopean walls of the Hemetian cities.
Ryan said that the local people told tales of the fearsome Shagrin, a large, hairy, tusked, bipedal monster with a trunk and three eyes (sort of like an angry Mr. Snuffleupagus…) whose gaze could turn victims into ooze and who was said to lair in the swamps south of town.
Finally, we determined that the Valley of Thieves was full of the tombs of the ancient Tijuman people, and that a camp of would be plunderers had grown up there despite the fact that most of the tombs had been looted already.
The party was relying on the generosity of the monks of Reima and staying at the monastery (except Nyle, whose self-centeredness had gotten him kciked out). Arvi, the old man who swept up the courtyards and who always seemed to be up on th elastest gossip in the settlement told Seaver that he had heard that perviously unknow tomb had been discovered under a ruined tower just outside the Valley of Thieves, but people were afriad to enter it due to the fact that everone knows, the Tijuman laid powerful curses on any who defiled their resting places. Not dissauded, our hungry band of Freebooters gathered their gear and set off with a glint in their eyes…
I have to say, the combination of the great inspiration from the random tables and the combined creativity fo the whoel group led to a setting full of cool details that I would never have come up with on my own.
It was still early, so I offered the group the choice between forgign ahead and having me improv the whole adventure or waiting until next session and having me prepare something, but everybody was all for playing, so we got to it. I had the players rol piles of D12’s and percentiles and I pulled together a random dungeon using the tables in PW. I pulled out a Dyson Logos map (I keep printouts of a bunch of my favorites on hand for just such an occasion), and quickly set up an old Tijuman tomb, with a trapped Shadow Demon and some quarrelsome Ogres who had taken up residence.
After some travails on the journey to the Valley (getting lost, getting wet feet form straying off the path in the swamp, a weird encounter with a hypnotic giant albatross which they drove away and then ate it’s eggs, stumbling upon a lovely mating dance by some birds of paradise, and getting surprised in their camp by a party of thieves form the Valley who Seaver managed to mind control into leaving them alone and being satisfied with the shards of the Albatross eggs – much of these from a pre-generated list of Discoveries/Dangers that I had already generated using the PW tables and The Wilderness Alphabet), they eventually found the ruined tower.
The party broke down the tower door, found a secret chamber ful of tools, lamps and oil, found some large, bronze double doors with panels of raised figures showing Reima defeating a winged, horned demonic figure, avoided the flame trap in the door (pretty obvious, what with the charred bodies in front of it), distracted the Ogres with illusions then mind controlled one to attack the other (but not before poor Tobrec bit the dust – thankfully he’s much more Lucky than he is intelligent, and rolled a 10 to recover). Having bested the Ogres, they found another entrance to the main tomb chamber/shrine where Nyle (at least temporarily) blocked the spike trap and got the door open enough for them to squeeze in (a 7-9 on Pick Locks and Disarm Traps by Nyle). Seaver investigated the Magic Circles carved into the floor while Mirin sniffed out the gold alter equipment (Chalice, bowl, and dagger – Rose had established earlier that the Tijuman religion used chalices extensively in their rituals).
Luckily for the group, Nyle, who was hanging back and letting his “friends” take all the risks while he waited to collect the rewards, noticed the thickening shadows that rapidly too k the shape of the winged, horned demon form the door panels, and called out a warning. Seaver and Tobrec fled, but Mirin was weighed down with his golden treasure and rolled a 7-9 on his save to get past the demon. I offered him the coice of keeping all of ther gold but only making it halfway to the door, or dropping half the gold and getting out. After a very hard choise by Mirin’s player, he opted to live to fight another day and left half of the treasure on the tomb floor, narrowly escaping with his life. The group fled to the surface, glad to be alive and with at least some ill-goten gains to show for their troubles.
I am always amazed at the fun gaming that can come out of such a light system and a bunch of random tables. I’m pretty good at imrpovising and winging things (it’s really my natural GMing style, which is one of the reasons I love Freebooters/DW/PW so much), but I was nervous going in with literally noti=hing excpet the bare bones of setting info we had just generated. It turned out toatlly fine, and everyone had a good time and islooking forward to the group’s further adventures.
Thanks again to Jason Lutes for putting together my favorite iteration of my favorite RPG, which has provided so much fun for me and my group.