A month or so ago my Earthdawn: Savaged campaign wound up to a close. The early summer/late fall months brought a rash of player absences and missed sessions which seemed to sap everyone’s motivation. So although I very much enjoyed returning to the Earthdawn world our game ended rather anticlimactically.
At least I was able to do the experimentation with Savage Worlds that I wanted to. I learned a number of valuable lessons about the system from behind the GM’s screen. I plan on going into more detail about what modifications I plan on making to Savage Worlds in a short series of articles but I wanted to take this opportunity to summarize our campaign and my thoughts on it.
Our small group consisted of a few adepts who had banded together in defense of a Rex, a small village in the hinterlands north of Bartertown, and forged their group in tribute to the dwarven weaponsmith who had brought them together and gave his life in defense of the innocent. Thus The Hounds of Askari were born.
Yurg Highheart, Troll Beastmaster
Former crystal raider who owes his survival when his air ship was destroyed by Therans to T’keela and now travels with him to repay his blood debt.
Silaa, T’skrang Swordmaster
Questing for a relic sacred to his village and pursuing the ork nethermancer named Leonin who had stolen it.
T’keela Soulwringer, T’skrang Nethermancer
An eccentric t’skrang who took up his former master’s quest for the Words of Undoing, a ritual rumored banish the Horrors from Barsaive.
Kato, Human Nethermancer
Cast from an airship by the cult he was raised in because of his affinity for spirits, Kato literally fell into the conflict between Silaa and Leonin. T’keela has since taught him to control his ‘weirdness,’ though Kato seems suspicious of his teacher’s quest.
Caelas Solque, Elf Archer
A noble from the Blood Wood smuggled out as an infant before undergoing the Ritual of the Thorns and ignorant of his heritage.
After the short intro that was described in a previous post, the group decided to head to Parlainth. Silaa and Kato didn’t have any leads on Leonin’s current whereabouts but T’keela felt that there may be clues to the Words of Undoing amongst the Theran research still buried in the ruins.
Since one does not simply walk into Parlainth, the adepts started in Haven trying to make contacts and find employment that would familiarize them with the ruins and let them fund their own expeditions. They wound up in the employ of a elven trading house out of Throal – the Circle Path Company. Apparently tradition has passed leadership of the company to Yuriel, a young swordsman adept, from her parents but she wasn’t interested in such a mundane job. She had exercised a “establishing trade relations” clause in the company charter to join an adventuring group headed into Parlainth. Yuriel’s younger brother – in charge of the company in her absence – and a few other officers of the company needed someone to go into Parlainth and try and find her.
The investigation was slow at first as the party really didn’t know anyone in Haven. Eventually they discovered the group Yuriel had joined had in turn joined up with another group on an excursion into The Smalls, returned to Haven, then headed to The Twists on their own. The Hounds of Askari retraced her steps to and were eventually able to track her down and escort her (and other captives they freed) back to Haven.
Afterwords the party was granted an audience with a wizard named Heirmon who lived in Haven. T’keela had already tried to meet him before the group had gone into the ruins, having heard Heirmon was quite knowledgeable of Parlainth and may know if there were any hints of a part of the Words of Undoing in the ruins. However T’keela was rebuffed, told to tell his boss Herimon wants nothing to do with him. T’keela had no idea what Heirmon was talking about but the eccentric old magician wouldn’t listen.
Fortunately one of the captives held with Yuriel, a t’skrang troubadour named Sekra, was a friend of Heirmon’s and smoothed out the misunderstanding. The Hounds met him to talk, and they learned that Heirmon had been harassed lately by a number of rather powerful adepts who were looking for the Words of Undoing themselves, apparently in the employ of an ork named Leonin…
* * * * *
And that’s where we closed down the first season of the campaign. With the scheduling conflicts we were having and one of the players taking a break from the group we decided to move to a fresh game to try and get everyone excited and motivated again.
If you’re familiar with the adventure Path of Deception published by Living Room Games then you’ve probably already recognized it above. A few other NPC names might be recognizable from other sourcebooks as well. I decided to use PoD as a jumping point for my Earthdawn game – to introduce Parlainth and Haven and their denizens to the players. Once the groundwork was laid I would use a surprise reveal to turn things personal quickly.
PoD wouldn’t work for my needs as written – published adventures rarely do – so I made a few changes (Pardon the ambiguity, but I’m trying to avoid too many spoilers). I wanted the focus of the characters’ investigation to be on Parlainth and Haven and not on the interpersonal relationships of the members of the Circle Path Company. To that end I removed Gangrene from the adventure and modified the set-up so that Yuriel discovered the trade opportunity-clause in the Circle Path charter on her own. Finally I didn’t have Yuriel in the location she was being held in the book. It seemed completely unnecessary so I placed her with the slaves in the final location.
Although I took a few of the twists out of the story it did down-play the Circle Path Company and let the players focus on learning the setting. In my opinion it worked marvelously.
As for the downsides of the campaign… well as I mentioned scheduling conflicts and missed sessions really killed motivation for the game. On top of that Silaa’s player wound up missing all of the roleplaying-heavy sessions and was present for the exploration and/or combat ones, which I think was frustrating for him (he much perfers the former to the latter).
I also think the reveal came too late in the campaign. Basically the game was four sessions of an impersonal quest before they learned Leonin was after the same rituals T’keela was, and may even be ahead of the group. Letting the players in on that was fun, but knowing it was right before a break from the campaign means the payoff may never come.
You see, our group has a habbit of going from game to game instead of revisiting past ones. So there’s a chance that we might not come back to Earthdawn. Only time will tell but there’s one thing for certain – it still remains my all-time favorite game.