Thursday, July 18, 2019

Campaign: Mothers of the Borderlands

I thought of revisiting my first blog post: a illustration of room #B12 of the B2 module Keep of the Borderlands.

For me, the most interesting thing in B2 are all of these non "combatants females" and their young, I often wondered what was their stories. Why not play them to find out?

"Orc losses cannot be replaced"

This detail gave me the idea of running a campaign about the survivors of the Chaos Caves.

Mothers of the Borderlands Campaign

Supported by the keep, adventurers raided the Caves of Chaos multiple times, the dust settle but the orcs tribe have been decimated, forgotten by the adventurers, the orcs females gather their young and try to rebuilt the tribe.

The players characters are the orcs females who survived these raids.

I would use Macchiato Monsters to run this campaign as the system is flexible and can easily be used to create different orc characters. But naturally any old school system could work.

Character creation (Macchiato Monsters) 

1) Roll your attributes but don't determine anything else. You start with the trait "orc".

2) Generate your family
You have 1d4-1 mates (you can add -1 or +1 if your prefer fewer or more mates)
(Roll 1d6 to determine their gender: 1-4 male, 5-6 female)

2A) If you have no mate chose one option or roll a d6
  1. You took the blood oath and follow the path of the warrior. (start with a wound)  
  2. You took a spirit as a mate and follow they path of the shaman. 
  3. You did a crime and are shun for it, you follow the path of the outcast. 
  4. You vowed to take no mate to follow the path of the witches. 
  5. You consume the moist mother shrooms and follow the path of the gender change. 
  6. Your mate died and you follow the mourning path of the wailing. 
3) Determine how many young you have. These young may be your natural or adopted children. If you have female mates, they gave birth to some of these young but you all consider them as your children.

Add +1 by mates (you may take a additional -1 or +1 if you want a smaller or bigger family)
You have:
  • 1d6-2 daughters  
  • 1d6-2 sons 
Young are 1d10-1 year old (0 year olds are d10 month old babies)

You also have  1d4-1 elderly parents. (Roll 1d6 to determine their gender: 1-3 male, 4-6 female) 

4) Roll who survived the raids.
  • Adult males survived on a roll of 1 on a d6, survivors are wounded and incapacitated. 
  • Adult females survived on a roll of 1-4 on a d6
  • Young survived on a roll of 1-5 on a d6
  • Elders survived on a roll of 1-2 on a d6, survivors are wounded and incapacitated.
Your surviving family is represented by a d6 risk die. When the risk die fizzle out, someone in your family is starving, sick, lost or troublesome. Reset the risk die to d6. You can step up your family risk die beyond d6 by taking care of them, providing them with: food, shelter, comfort and pride.

5) The tribe have been decimated, chose the path you will now follow (or roll a d6)
(If you already have a path, skip this step)
  1. You will take the blood oath and follow the path of the warrior.  
  2. You will take a spirit as a mate and follow they path of the shaman.
  3. You will consume the moist mother shrooms and follow the path of the gender change. 
  4. Your will mourn the deaths and follow path of the wailing. 
  5. You will protect the tribe and follow the path of the guardian. 
  6. You will take care of the young and follow the path of the mother. 
6) Generate your equipment with the Macchiato Monsters' tables. Your starting equipment represent what you salvaged after the big raid.

When you roll a piece of equipment determine who it belonged to...
  1. my family or clan
  2. a dead or wounded orc 
  3. a adventurer 
  4. a denizen of the caves 
  5. no one, I found it while I was... 
  6. myself, I crafted it
The gm can ask you questions to get more details to craft rumors. 

7) Your path determine your character options, you start with your path as a second trait plus the option associated with your path. (These are your two starting character options)
  • The warrior (take martial training, you are good with war and weapons) 
  • The shaman (take magic training, you are good with spirits, bones and blessings)  
  • The outcast (take specialistic training, you are good at sneaking, tricks and traps) 
  • The witches (take magic training, you are good with herbs, curses and the occult) 
  • The change (add d6 to a stat of 10 or less, you are transitioning and you are good with mushrooms, drugs, poisons and transformations)  
  • The wailing (take specialistic training (wailing), you are good at mourning, remembering, raging and scaring others) 
  • The guardian (take martial training, you are good with defenses, protecting and armors) 
  • The mother (gain a hit die, you are good with healing, nurturing, teaching and organization) 
8) Make rolls to see if your character speak extra languages. Your character speak orc and the chaos tongue. The chaos tongue is very crude and using it often impose a disadvantage when dealing with other chaotic creatures.
  1. Humans (common tongue) 
  2. Lizardmen or Troglodyte 
  3. Spider or Boar  
  4. Kobold
  5. Goblin
  6. Hobgoblin
  7. Bugbear
  8. Gnoll
  9. Troglodyte 
  10. Ogre
  11. Minotaur
  12. Ghoul or Harpy 
9) Roll a event that happened during the last raid (d6) (these work like rumors or goals)
  1. You lost something that you need to find back. 
  2. You lost someone that you need to find back.   
  3. You saw a opportunity to gain something. 
  4. You found something that you must keep secret. 
  5. Someone helped you, could they help you again? 
  6. You saw something that worry you. 
The gm can ask you questions to get more details to craft rumors.

10) Players should write goals about their tribe, their family, their path and the caves.  

Running the Campaign

The Caves of Chaos have been hit hard by adventurers from the keep, those who are still alive are those non combatants that the adventurers ignored. Now that most of the combatants are dead, the survivors must reorganize themselves to survive.

Run the B2 Module as a sandbox, present the caves as a place that have been hit by a disaster. Monsters are protective and desperate, this may open doors to new alliances.

You can start play in room C15.
  • Monsters survived the adventurers raids on a roll of 1 up to their HD on a d6. 
  • Combatant humanoids only survived on a roll of 1 on a d6. 
  • Non combatants humanoids survived on a roll of 1-4 on a d6. 
  • Neutral creatures or NPCs survived on a roll of 1-3 on a d6. 
  • You may also decide that a important or interesting creature is severely wounded and can be nurtured back to health with assistance. 
  • Treasures have not been looted on a roll of 1-2 on a d6. 
  • Traps are still activated on a roll of 1-2 on a d6, activated traps contain the corpse of a adventurer on a roll of 1-3 on a d6.   
The keep consider the caves as being a under control now, they moved their attention to other issues. Don't trigger a other raid on the caves unless the keep notice something worrying or worthy of their attention.

Present the chaos cult as a cursed gift, gaining it favor bring power but it will also corrupt the tribe and endanger the young. Deciding to follow the cult or to abandon it should be a major theme.

Present the chaotic humanoids as brutal and territorial but also give them things that they respect and care about. They are more like people with a lot of issues than evil ones. Show that they have a lot of resentments toward humankind and how chaos is feeding on these wounds.

Use random encounters as troubles that need to be deal with. Like if they encounter a carrion crawler maybe this is the sign of a carrion crawler infestation coming up, encountering other humanoids or NPC may be signs of all kind of troubles.