20 September 2013

Earthdawn: Adventure Log 20 - Bartertown Beatdown

This is the twentieth Adventure Log in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.

The setting of Earthdawn is expansive, even when just limiting it to Barsaive. There are an astounding number of different and significant locations to visit and explore, each with their own character and adventures. Not to mention the locales of their own creation that will likely be injected. Compound this with the volume of lore that is available and the idea of crafting a campaign that addresses all of this as you may want is daunting.

To deal with this "problem" (oh, to always suffer from having too much good stuff), my general technique is to have a coherent theme and a handful of locations that will, more-or-less, serve as a base of operations. This allows to maintain the wonderful exploration which makes Earthdawn so vivid, while still building the connections that make the setting alive.

Tragically, this means that some things will inevitably have to be cut. In the long run, a game will most likely benefit from greater focus, even if it is handled in story arcs. This allows everyone to give their attention appropriately to the events at hand, allowing for serial exploration of the setting, while returning to their home base.

This isn't necessarily going to work for all groups, but it is a good way to start breaking down the setting into more digestible pieces, rather than going after it all at once.

Adventure Log – 20 Bartertown Beatdown

Written By: Elmod of Glenwood Deep

Date: 28 Teayu – 30 Doddul, 1507 TH
Group Name: Mismatched Steel

Group Members
Elmod the Nethermancer
Honeysuckle Sunspray the Windmaster

Sogun the Messenger
Ting the Swordmaster


A slight detour to the lands of the Coil River. Visited the liferock(1) of Sogun to also get info on Ting's sword(2). I had a lovely dinner with Kissling, mayor of Ayodhya town.

After which, we stopped off in Ardanyan to check in on Titoo. Dwarf issues and multiple Thief Guild wars, otherwise our home is okay(3). We booked employment to Bartertown as mercenaries and protectorates, but only managed to run into Arthu and his gang(4). He, unfortunately, seems quite attached to his sash of the Bands of Fortune. We also happened upon a Messenger.

In Bartertown, I met with Fastoon and sold him my black mantis egg since he explained how impossible it would be for me to rear it without special techniques.(5)

Ting, Honeysuckle and Sogun became employed by Tarr to take out some more drug dens. This also eventuated our killing of Vigo and some of his gang - which fled and will likely look for us again(6). They were involved in the Consortium and infiltrating/infringing on Tarr's business(7).

More research at the Library about items.(8)

*     *     *
(1) That would be Ayodhya, next to Lake Ban.
(2) Unrequited Wave
(3) The first of many understatements. Ardanyan has some serious issues - but ignoring those, everything is fine.
(4) A human Swordmaster that claims to be the last heir of Landis and has managed to befriend the urshan.
(5) This may be the most terrifying run-on sentence that I have read in a long time. So many terrible possibilities are contained here. This Nethermancer wanted to raise a Horror construct, but decided to sell it to Fastoon instead? We need to keep an eye on this in a big way.
(6) Other reports indicate that this isn't quite how it happened. Essentially, Tarr hired them to murder the leader of whatever the Merchant Confederation calls their guards. In a very public fashion so that there is no confusion on who did it and who ordered it. Which they did. This is impressive because that was a troll Swordmaster of a particularly nasty streak. 
(7) Tarr's only "business" is theft. Well, he has been diversifying into murder and arson as well. 
(8) Received and edited by Ela Pono

While it certainly seemed like a short session, there was actually quite a bit going on here. The majority of the events were staging future events and announcing that things were getting worse. Ardanyan has had trouble brewing for quite a while and this was simply a continuation of that. The conflicts in the shadows were hinting at some new trouble brewing in the background.

The seemingly minor events at Ayodhya and the Lake Ban area also foreshadowed some future events significantly, though they may have seemed innocuous at the time. Included in this are interactions had with Arthu, a recurring character that has a Thread Item the Group wants very badly. It has been commented that if it wasn't for the fact he was so damn likable, he would be dead in a ditch by now. That is pretty much how they roll.

It was in Bartertown where the major events took place. Some seemed harmless enough - selling the egg of a Horror construct to an Iopan Nethermancer that is known to traffic in things that would be illegal actually inside of Throal; that couldn't possibly go wrong. To be fair, most of the Group sold them previously, deciding that they wanted nothing to do with keeping those on their persons.

What really pushed the plot forward was the open act of violence they engaged in against the other faction within Bartertown. There had always been hostilities and scuffles between the two groups, though most of the actual damage was committed against proxies rather than directly against the other group. This was a watershed moment for that conflict and marked the point of no return - when there was only one way it would end: in flames.

In general, it is my preference to have the players be present, and the catalyst if at all possible, for these events. It helps to drive home that they directly effect the world around them and their actions do make a difference. In real time, the first arc of this plot has been resolved, complete with callbacks to this very event and what the implications of it were.