09 August 2023

Campaign Spin-Up VII - When One-Shots Sprawl

tl;dr: I ran Spelljammer Academy and then... just sort of kept going. This is about how I cooked up the additional episodes for the mini-campaign.

I have unexpectedly run a 'tour of the system' Spelljammer campaign, starting off with running Spelljammer Academy for my local gaming group. I was running Light of Xaryxis for another table and this group was drop-in/drop-out so I decided to just continue as one shots and it has been an interesting exercise. This write up focuses on where I got the session content from for all these one-shots, I wrote up the mechanics of running it in a Campaign Retrospective.

The key aspects of this were:
- open table
- no big idea just a knock-about game to allow venue testing
- unexpectedly ended up with 'core crew' at this open table
- got to trigger 'cool hooks' much more often than my standard campaign mode
- tried to integrate the advice from You Suck at Keeping your One-Offs as One-Offs by A Knight at the Opera

Ran 12 sessions, some of these I wrote up already so I'll just summarise and link here:

1-4 = Spelljammer Academy - really just part 2 (training mission) and parts 3 and 4 (the mission to H'Catha) formed part of this. Part 2 has Sorshana, Ugloo, Liam and Lazerraptor. Part 3 and 4 ran in a single session with Ugloo, Ella, Liam, Eric and Joe.

5 = Coliar - used Skycrawl to set up Ugloo, Liam and Bobby rescuing a treaty from a wrecked Waspship and taking the damaged hull as payment.

6 = Karantin and the asteroid bar raid - Ugloo, Ella and Eric fly to Karantin in Shou as the only Spelljamming port that can repair their new Waspship. The price of local help is deniably scouting an asteroid bar. Lent a dragonship they arrive and find the place full of pirates and Xaryxian hadozee. The party mingle and help cook before a ship is fired, the party flees and is pursued by a Star Moth back towards Karantin. A running ship battle ensues before the Starmoth breaks off as they near the port defences. Session ends resident in Karantin. This was my first wrestle trying to get good stuff out of Realmspace and old Kara-Tur sourcebooks.

7 = The djinni's chess set - Sorashana, Ugloo, Ella and Fievel are tasked with recovering a chess-set that the city governor misplaced before the Emperor turns up and discovers his gift was lost. The issue is a djinni has it in his tower, viewing it as legitimately won. This was a flying dungeon, with the ship risking a storm-layer and mephits on approach. They then disembarked directly into a trap but turned it into a success by fleeing the trap into the djinni's presence with the trade-goods/bribes they had brought, begging for mercy. The djinni liked their attitude and the party flattered and distracted the djinni while one of their number stealthed their way about the room and very quietly recovered the chess set.

8 = Reigar Hunt - Sorashana, Ugloo, Scrib, Lara, Alira - Last of the Karantin missions, they joined a flotilla of Dragonships hunting down a reigar in their esthetic (jellyfish-ship) who had been harassing shipping. Inspired by the Hastain encounter in Chapter 4 of Light of Xaryxis, I used the 'hunting Shadowcats' battle-ship like grid-search from Dael Kingsmill for the search, the party having two ships to their name - a borrowed Dragonship and their Coliar Waspship. The esthetic gave them a good fight while the reigar and its 'doubling' ability was scary as they tried to protect the crew. Worked well as a hunt with a good fight at the end.

9 = Armada-wreck raid - Sorashana, Ugloo, Ella and Roast set out following a tip from the Karantin authorities to find the salvage they had been told would be found in Karpri orbit. this was an attempt to leverage the content in 'Realmspace'. They found ancient, haunted elven Armadas where I had switched out the canon 30 ghosts for a combo of flying undead, helmed horrors and other things. The whole thing turned into a tense marathon of avoiding helmed horrors, smashing and grabbing helms from the old wrecks and re-fighting the same flame-skull as it kept reconstituting after an hour. They eventually left the wrecks burning in space and fled.

10 = Sargasso exploration - Ugloo, Ella and Roast directly continue from the previous mission and decide that damaged Waspship or no they should investigate the planet below them. They poked around on the sargasso until they spot a wreck - the Lucent Edict site lifted directly from Light of Xaryxis. They dived right in and it was a good, spooky time. Noone liked the psurlons and really noone liked Jasper the neh-thallgu; they ended up stitching him back up in his prison and deciding to just leave the wreck alone.

11 = Leviathan base - Sorashana, Ugloo, Ella and Roast set off to ambush a Xaryxian agent. This was an adventure built around 'how do they get to use their Tyrantship' - so this was a mission to raid a pirate base for intel, scaring them off by rocking up in their Tyrantship from Spelljammer Academy 3/4. I spiced it up by continuing to work down through Boos Astral Menagerie having an Eye Monger be lurking about. The party arrived, explored, met some dohwar and githyanki, chatted to them, fought the Eye Monger, chased off a Xaryxian agent, looted their documents and then stole an old Whelkship hull for good measure.

12 = Anadin Mission - Sorashana, Ugloo were a short table for this one so I cooked up a trip to Anadia, chucking most of the Realmspace content and using Unconquered. We got a sword-and-planet style desert romp with sand-skimmer dwelling nomads, fire-spirits stolen from a Tim Powers book (Yaahgs!) and a desert of bone dust. A whole tribe of thri-keen were recruited to the Academy.

13 = Dragon Moon of Garden - Ugloo, Varyen, Bobby, R.O.B. and Bob were a very confusingly named bunch for this one. The documents from Leviathan base now decrypted, a plan to clear out the Xaryxian forward operating base in Realmspace is formed. First, our heroes need to go and secure a moon of Garden so that the attack fleet can use that moon as cover to approach the dwarf citadel the Xaryxians are using. After a fight with some Murder Comets our heroes arrive, layover in a port on Garden to gather some intel on Xaryxian activities and the moon. On finding out that a moon dragon lives there our heroes bribe some hadozee deserters to pretend to be Xaryxian attackers so that the heroes can chase them off and win the moon dragons favour. Some improbably convincing flying and a silver-tongued kobold wins the use of the moon as a stalking horse without needing to resort to violence. The hook for this one had been 'lets fight a dragon'.

14 = Citadel of the Xaryxians - Our wrap session was a big table with Ugloo, Varyen, R.O.B, Roast, Ella, Liam and Blop. The citadel I set up using Graphite Primes Mazes set up. I lifted the fleet action from Chapter 10 of Light of Xaryxis for the approach then gave the heroes the option to fight the fleet or be the landing party. They skirted the fleet action, bombarded the citadel on approach then used a Turtleship to ram/board on of the Citadels defunct weapon-decks. Traversing the bowels of the citadel they left their support fleet to fight the attrition action while they went for the decapitation strike. The presence of a pair of artificers stood them in good stead getting past hazards. A vicious close quarters fight in the Xaryxian command post saw victory but a final fight with Scro allies of the Xaryxians was inconclusive, the Scro choosing to flee with schematics of the dwarven mega-cannon foundries rather than fight to the death.

The last session closed out with some epilogues and we stuck a pin in this mini campaign.

The full roster of characters ran:
Ugloo - notoriously ugly kobold rogue, Spelljammer Academy's greatest advocate and recruiting agent, chef extraordinaire with a strange talent for communing with the dead.
Shorshana - Kalashtar wild sorcerer - reluctant captain, able Spelljuammer, unexpectedly often the voice of reason
Liam - human fighter, poster-child of Spelljammer Academy. Dashing, brave, poor of judgement but strongly supported by 'vassals' Greg, Greg II and Grub.
Ella - forest gnome rogue - collector of monster lore, possessor of a very nice hat from Karantin, expert repossessor of stolen goods.
Bobby - human warlock - hayseed farmboy hosting a deadly dangerous goop monster.
Roast - giff artificer - sender of many messages praising Spelljammer Academy on enchanted arrows.
ROB - Autognome cleric, most rapidly promoted captain, best pincushion impression.
Varyen - elven artificer festooned with gadgetry with big mechanical wolf companion, expertly worked the party past hazardous ruins
LazerRaptor - Coliar sorceror lizardfolk from an artificer culture; fired freaking lasers out of his eyes, got chucked at enemy ships.
Lara - bladesinger wood half elf - courageously defended her crew in the face of a rampaging Reigar.
Alira - firbolg cleric - joined for the Reigar hunt.
Bob - satyr warlock - joined for the Dragon Moon expedition, talked a crew of Hadozee into defecting.
Eric - dwarf rogue - joined for the Academy test mission.
Laufer - Human barbarian - gets mad, leaps between ships.
Fievel - tortle druid was swapped out for Roast.
Scrib - kobold wizard was an alternate for Liam
Blop - plasmoid rogue joined for the Citadel mission, backed up Ugloo in sneaking and stabbing.

Favoured NPCs
Cheltat - tiefling mage, permanent back-up spelljammer
An Fang - Son of the Shou Imperial Fleet Admiral in Karantin
Wizpop & Wizbang - autognomes rescued from clockwork horrors on the Tyrantship
Greelob - observer, continues to guard the adamantium meteor from H'Catha and foul up Academy finances by residing in the vault.
Pfred - plasmoid classmate, killed by a Flameskull over Karpri.

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