Plot Device #6

Mancon 2017 was wildly successful. The worst thing about it is that I can’t figure out which game was best and worst because they were all so damn good. Here’s a quick breakdown for those of you who were not fortunate enough to make it. At least the games I played in –

  1. Savage Worlds Rifts – Pretty awesome, I’m a fan of both Rifts and Savage Worlds and using the latter game system solves a lot of the problems involved in the former’s setting.

    2.) Ravnivori Empire – Mine, obviously. It went surprisingly well. I ended up with the curmudgeon crew so I was a little nervous but they just wanted to do cool things and I just like letting people do awesome things so it worked out. The highlight was probably when they one-shotted the master bad guy by defenestration because he was watching the battle below from a window.

    3.) Savage Worlds Division E – a Homebrew by the organizer of the Con and the guy I rode with and an ongoing campaign. I played a character previously played by someone else. We were mostly normal people trying to stop a Superman level “hero” who was doing a lot of collateral damage. The highlight here was that we blew up the children’s wing of a hospital to stop him. (all the children had been moved out.)

    That was Friday. Saturday –

    4.) Dogtown – a homemade system and setting. We’re Irish mobsters in prohibition era Missouri. Highlight here was the final scene where one of the players turned on the rest of us and got tommy gunned down then I killed a rival mob boss.

    5.) This Empire Earth – Another Homebrew by the organizer of the Con. I was in on the ground floor of this setting and I’m still playing my original character. It’s funny because none of the party has ever died while I’ve played in a session but when I’m not there, there are inevitably casualties. Highlight here was when we turned the living ship from beyond our galaxy that was trying to eat us onto the cyborg bounty hunter that was after us.

    6.) East Texas University – Savage Worlds and East Texas. It’s like this was made for me to love it. I’m not a super fan of horror, but it’s pretty good, anyway. I played a yuppy cheerleader sorority girl so….that wasn’t easy…but it was fun. It’s another on going campaign that only gets played at this con so the characters go to whoever is available to play them with preference going to people who have played them before. Highlight for this one was slowly closing the secret door on the demon that had been bound up in a closet. It had the visage of a woman so it was “sorry lady.”

And, as promised, here is the plot for my game. Things in <> are where the party diverged from my plan and/or their actions.

Mancon year 3– King Under the Hill story.

Background – Tzarina Vonka Yoltsov wants terrestrial holdings. A horde is invading Shaintar (Lead by Vadagor.) 7 nations opposing the horde offer land in exchange for providing aid <I just did this as a quick backstory. They didn’t even interact with Vonka IC. We jumped straight to the below encounter.>

  1. If there is a pilot in the group, as they are arriving, they are attacked by a dragon with a light ballista mounted on its back. “Piloted” by 2 orcs. <There was a pilot in the party, 2 in fact, but my predilection for close combat meant that there was only 1 person with the shooting skill. So, they couldn’t fire the ship’s weapons at the dragon. One of them was a spellcaster though so he was able to throw some damage at the thing. I’ll have to adjust my pre-gens again so that some more of them have shooting. I ran this like a chase and they made short work of the Orcs but it ended up with the captain ramming the dragon to death with the ship. The best part was when the Hadozee jumped from the ship onto the dragon then shot the ballista at its head at point blank range. It hit but deflected off.>
  1. Commander Bartov of the 7 Nation Army holds a conference. And assigns them their mission. (Knowledge: Battle roll indicates he is sacrificing them.) <No one had Knowledge: Battle, so this wasn’t an issue and kind of threw a monkey wrench in the end game.>
  1. Use OSA on page 150 as basis for first encounter <It’s the one where the party has to convince villagers to let them burn down their village.> Include mention of folks there, including Mayor (Barados) barmaid with birthmark (Malani.) Some mention that only the King Under the Hill can save them. If asked, told that old Ezekiah at Gnollview tower can tell them more. Replace Orcs and Boars with Goblins and Dire Wolves. <This went pretty much as planned. I ran it as a social conflict and the party got enough successes to convince the villagers to leave. They ran fairly roughshod over the goblins when they showed up.>
  1. Orcs are attacking Ezekiah’s tower. She’s throwing things at them, including books. “Do I have 2 copies of this? Oh no, I think that’s the one that had my notes in it.” Takes a liking to one of the characters (Nice to her, smartest, handsomest, one with white benny.) <This turned out to be the Minotaur because I gave him the Big Horns edge and that translates into a Charisma Boost. I played Ezekiah as an elderly who was lightly hitting on him.> Gives that character a “trinket” – minor magical item (and healing, if needed.) They can suggest things but Luck token, if nothing else. Provides 1 free reroll per session but can’t be used to Soak. <He took bracers that gave him a +1 to Fighting. The Sorcerer managed to convince her that he was the Minotaur’s bodyguard and that he should get something too, so she gave him an amulet with 5 Power points. And then, the Hadozee swiped another pistol. All in all, she kind of ended up being that leprechaun thingy you kick in Gauntlet to get loot…> She’ll explain that they need the blood of the king or his crown or both to get his aid. Blood is the barmaid can be identified by birthmark “His Hand is upon them.” <It didn’t take them long to clamp onto this…which was ok. It’s where I wanted them to go and I didn’t particularly want to hide the ball.>
  1. Crown is in separate barrow. Defended by riddle and trap – A simple map of a town is on the floor – Castle, church, CEMETERY, homes, port, barn/farm, jail. Writing on the wall says “Relief lies only where every man’s wealth is stolen, every man is equal in the eyes of justice, all pain is ended, all dreams are dashed.”

Laser beam trap is guarding the chamber. Turned off by stepping on cemetery but if anyone steps on any other, trap strengthens for the turn, even if cemetery is being stepped on. <This also went pretty much as expected. I’m always nervous about riddles but the guys got this one pretty much right away. The only fly in the ointment was that they thought each part of the relief was a separate location. Once I clarified they could all stand in one spot, they got it immediately. (It’s the cemetery, btw, if the Caps Lock didn’t make it obvious enough.)

Regular guards (Skeletons toughness and +1 parry for armor/shield. Using spear str+d6.) Will bow to the blood, if she is with the group and aid in fighting the Guardian. <They did this before going to get the Blood so they had to actually fight these guys. Again, short work was made.>

Naga guarding crown. Sleeping. Can be avoided with stealth and agility check but money can’t be taken. 600Gp in horde and shortsword with a +1 to Fighting bonus. <Didn’t even try sneaking. They just charged right in. I got to have a Kaa moment and had one of the characters under the Naga’s thrall for half a round before they killed it…the Naga, not the character.>

  1. Ranks and ranks of warriors at main Barrow. Spear, shield and sword. Not sure how they’re standing up. The king is on a throne, armed the same way. Doesn’t speak but will welcome blood/crown holder and show agreement. If neither, runs the party off. (Obvious they can’t win.) <They’d looped back and gotten the Blood by now, so they had both and he was glad enough to follow them out with his army arrayed behind him.>
  1. A Beastman Necromancer is waiting outside with henchmen. (Use Orc Stats.) Can turn the King Under the Hill’s followers against them. <We completely skipped this encounter. I forgot it when they came out and we were running short on time, anyway so I didn’t try to squeeze it in.>
  1. During the Final battle the party can hunt down the leader. Dramatic task: Each person has to get at least one success. May use any reasonable ability. Others can aid. <This is what the party did. And they got an extra success so they got the drop on the commander.> Attended by Adamant Corps <I took this part out.>– Ogre bodyguard. Will surrender if Goblin Beetlerider defeated. <This happened. Actually, the Ogre took one swing before the party defenestrated the leader. He was watching and commanding the battle from a window in a ruin overlooking the battlefield from a cliff and they just pushed him out. I’d be mad about the one shot kill but that’s pretty awesome. If I remember, I may let them use the Ogre as a combat NPC next year. Or I may create him as a pre-gen. I have the rules for PC ogres.>


  1. Modifiers for the final battle <None of this mattered since the party didn’t have anyone with Knowledge: Battle so the commanding was actually done by an NPC and it only mattered that they killed the commander. But, here would have been the way things would have shaped up if we would have used the mass battle rules> –

If party succeeds at nothing – out numbered 5 to 10. <Obviously not the case.>

King Under the Hill recruited – Makes forces equal or gives enemy -1 token if Villagers Convinced to leave peacefully <Achieved!>

Convincing Villagers to leave peacefully – +1 allied token (Militia) or -1 to enemy if King Under the Hill is also Recruited. +1 morale to allied forces. <Achieved!>

Villagers run off – 1 morale to allied forces. <Not the case.>

If they defeat the dragon at the beginning, a second ship arrives with them they get one extra token or enemy forces are reduced by 1 more token if King Under the Hill Recruited. <Achieved!>

Kill enemy leader before battle is over – enemy has -1 morale and rolls Battle Rolls untrained (shouldn’t take long.) Allied forces get +1 morale. <Achieved!>

<So, they would have ended up with 10 tokens against 8 with a +2 to their Morale rolls and the enemy would have been using a replacement Commander who would be rolling Knowledge: Battle Untrained by the end.>

All in all, it was a sweeping success. I’m already thinking of adventures for Mancon 2018!

Here are the pregens I had out and their associated miniatures.  I had 13 options for the players.

And the penultimate moment in the adventure just before they shoved the goblin leader (at the very bottom) out the window.

Ravnivori Empire – Military Units

I’m sure that I have a good excuse for why I haven’t posted a blog in 2 weeks, but I can’t think of it and I won’t insult both of us by trying to come up with one.  Especially since I was so sure I was going to be back on track after the last one.

Anyway…Mancon is next week, so there definitely won’t be a post then.  I’ll be busy running a game in this world as opposed to just writing about it.  The next week, I should have another plot device with the details of my planned plot and the actual plot that arose when the pesky players mess up my beautiful idea.

Obviously, the military is an important part of the Ravnivori Empire.  They are in the midst of active conquest, after all.  While there is a standing military, it’s function is to maintain the peace on the homeworld and protect it from any invasions, now that they know it is possible for offworld armies to attack.

Most of the offworld work is done by semi-official mercenary units.  These units are sort of adjuncts to the regular military and are at the service of any loyal Imperial citizen who needs some soldiering done.  As they are not officially part of the military hierarchy, there is little in the way of standardization in uniform or methods.  And, in fact, their adherence to these sorts of things is considered far less important than their efficiency.

Military Units

One common method for determining and describing the effectiveness and abilities of one of the Imperial Military units is by identifying the wolf it carries. A unit that has proven its worth to the Empire is granted the right to bear an Imperial wolf on all the standards that the unit carries. The Emperor himself grants this honor and he generally only grants one or two per year. However, simply gaining a wolf is not the end. The Emperor not only grants the unit the right to bear a wolf but names the type of material the wolf can be made of. An Imperial wolf is always a high honor so they are never made of mundane materials but always a precious metal. When a wolf is granted, it is usually established as a copper wolf. If the unit later proves itself more valuable to the empire and distinguishes itself further in the Emperor’s eyes, he will grant the unit the right to bear a better wolf. Only the most honored units gain the right to bear a platinum wolf. And both of these processes can be reversed if a unit displeases the Emperor. A unit can suffer a demotion in the level of wolf they can bear or even have the right to bear a wolf stripped entirely. The ranks of Imperial Wolves in ascending order are: None, Copper, Brass, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Hammers of Doom: A strictly Ravnivori Dwarven unit, the Hammers of Doom are lead by Ulfgar Ironhead. A rather unique unit, they are one of the few Dwarven cavalry units in the Empire. What makes them unique, however are their steeds. Rather than riding living mounts, the Hammers of Doom go into battle riding mechanical rams. These wonders of artifice are not as fast as flesh and blood horses, but are much sturdier and bypass many of the limitations such flesh and blood mounts suffer. For example, they need no food or air and can stand completely still indefinitely and even be partially collapsed and stacked atop each other. This makes them perhaps the most efficient cavalry unit in the Empire for traveling on Void Runners. The Hammers of Doom need only stock provisions and account for air usage of the Dwarves themselves and the entire unit and their gear take up only 5 tons worth of cargo space whereas most cavalry units require an entire hold for their animals. The Hammers travel on their own Hammership, a vessel also named the Hammer of Doom and the unit essentially lives on the ship. In addition to the unit itself, there are also dedicated sailors and weapons crews as well as a handful of Arcanomancers who construct and maintain the mechanical rams. As an elite unit, recruitment into the Hammers of Doom is quite an honor. Only dwarves are chosen with preference given to Ravnivori dwarves. The dwarf must be a master rider, which is quite rare and an expert with the warhammer, eliminating even more potential candidates. Not a few dwarves practice for years, focusing all their energy on the unique skills needed to become a Hammer before even being considered. The Hammers of Doom are a relatively small unit with only 20 members, though there are an additional 30 dwarves who serve as support to the warriors.
Wolf: Brass

Hurzah’s Ravens: Lead by Kreok Hurzah, a skilled Troglyn archer and master ranged tactician, the Ravens recruit only skilled archers. While not every archer in the Ravens is a master marksman, Hurzah recruits each member personally. He looks for natural talent, developed skill, a sharp mind and the ability to follow orders rapidly and precisely with no care for gender or species. This combination of traits in each of his archers means that none of them are particularly remarkable but as a unit, they are extremely lethal as a unit, capable of laying down withering clouds of arrows in enemy units. Until approximately 5 years ago, this unit was lead by the Amazon Ionia and was known as Ionia’s Ravens. Hurzah was her lieutenant and she bequeathed the unit to him when she became and independent contractor for the Emperor. The Ravens are a fairly large unit, currently numbering 46 members. This value varies from as low as 40 to as high as 50 depending upon how many losses they have taken and how much time Hurzah has had to recruit replacements.
Wolf: Silver

Rolling Thunder: A relatively new unit, it was formed in the latter years of the conquest of Shan by a Ravnivori soldier named Matias. He was completely fascinated by the elephants and assorted kaiju that existed in the Shan lands and even more enamored of their usage as living war machines. With the help of a few backers, he managed to capture and buy a few elephants and a single kaiju and get them trained. In the few battles they were able to fight in, they proved quite decisive but, unfortunately, for Matias, the war ended soon after he formed his unit. There was little use for the massive beasts in the peace keeping capacity that the Ravnivori military took on after the conquest of Shan and he retired, earning a meager living by charging curiosity seekers for the privilege of seeing his animals. His hopes were raised when he discovered that there were Void Runners and that the Imperial conquest would continue. He was certain that the Imperial military would need his animals. He was largely wrong. While Rolling Thunder is quite effective when it is fielded, it suffers from a logistical problem. Each of Matias’ animals is so big that it is difficult to transport more than one or two on a ship and they utilize a great deal of the air that is held on a Void Runner. He has actually found little work for his unit though again his hopes have been raised. A magical researcher has developed a method for putting living creatures in a sort of hibernation that greatly reduces the amount of air and food they need. It takes some time to put the animals into hibernation and to take them out, so Rolling Thunder still has not become very popular though Matias remains hopeful.
Wolf: None

Star Sharks: This unit only came into being after the use of Void Runners and are quite specialized to that purpose. Their focus is on combat on Void Runners and everyone in the unit brings some skill that accentuates Void Runner combat. Many of the members of this unit are Mechanids, both sentient and pre-sentient and not a few members are undead. A few of these undead are intelligent but most of them are mindless creatures controlled by other members of the unit. Low oxygen usage is a priority and the Star Sharks attempt to get as many combat worthy bodies upon a ship for as little oxygen use as they can. Those who are among the living in the classical sense are all highly trained and highly skilled at the usage of the assorted siege weapons used in ship to ship Void Runner combat. The most highly prized members of the Star Sharks are their impressive collection of living siege weapons. These creatures not only take up no air but need no crew to fire them. The Star Sharks were founded and are lead by a Mechanid named Art Fisher. Despite this public leader, rumors abound that the Star Sharks are actually a puppet organization for the Children of the Night and serve one of their unknown purposes, perhaps to gain information on the military structure and strength of the Empire.
Wolf: Copper

The Right Hand of Amaz: Founded by the Temple of the Virtuous Maiden in the Sea of Grass plains in Almatia, this unit is composed entirely of females. These women all begin as orphans at the Temple and are trained from a young age to join the unit. They are trained in military tactics, archery and horsemanship. After a decade of training, and just as they become adults, those who excel at their training are inducted into the Right Hand of Amaz. A group of mounted archers, the Right Hand of Amaz specializes in hit and run and harassing tactics, supporting infantry, archers and siege units. They are highly skilled and greatly feared. Unlike some other units, they do not have established rates for their services but charge on a case by case basis. It is impossible to prove but most people assume that they charge males more than they charge females. Because of this and because of the high air need of their mounts, they have not found a great deal of success when Void Runners are involved.
Wolf: Bronze

The Adamant Corps: One of the oldest units in the Empire, the Adamant Corps was formed in the middle of the unification wars of the Ravnivori continent. In fact, they were friendly rivals to the Legion of the Abyss. Under the brilliant leadership of its founder, Tilion Kray, they expanded and proved themselves invaluable in the continuing expansion of the Empire. They have been an integral part of every war that the Empire engaged in during the conquering of Almatia and Shan. On countless occasions, they have held the battlefield against overwhelming odds long enough for the remainder of Ravnivori forces to reorganize. Even once the conquest of Shan was completed, the Adamant Corps did not disband like many other of the Empire’s units did. Thus they were still organized and ready when the Void Runners were discovered and have extended their service to the Empire into the stars. The Adamant Corps is a mixed unit. It includes infantry, cavalry, archers, siege engines and even still uses chariots. The unifying theme of the unit is that they are heavily armored. The Adamant Corps is known for its battle cry “Feed the Wolf” all most as much as for any of their history or acts.
Wolf: Platinum