Normally, the onset of full autumn means the surge of the harvest coming into Mado Curas. Laden with all the possibility, prosperity, and revelry that mark the winding down of the growing season, Mado Curas in normal times makes New Orleans look like a welsh village on a Sunday. Now, carts laden with produce and herds of livestock have been replaced with mobs of fleeing refugees and carts laden with the elderly and children.
Along with Interlopers Incorporated's Notice of Conscription comes a dire report. Legions numbering in the tens of thousands are storming down the mountains marking the border between Imperial Lands and the Goblinoids to the north. The greatest mass of these forces is marching on a direct route to the capital, pillaging autumn harvests and taking entire villages captive. On either flank, smaller armies are moving swiftly to capture both territory and people.
In the Curas region, two armies are advancing. A force of 15,000 heavy infantry is marching slowly south, holding the main road and fortifying captured villages. Further east, a smaller army of irregulars is moving swiftly through the woods, capturing isolated hamlets and raiding from the forests.
With full reinforcement delayed by the threat to the capital, and the bulk of the Imperial Army bogged in a war of expansion far to the south, the Governor has been ordered to conscript all able bodied men and women and defend the region. Veteran Campaigner Erasmus Nox has been designated as the Regional Commander, and has designated Interlopers Inc. as a semi-autonomous regiment. With reinforcements a month or more away, the situation is dire.
For my next few months of sessions, we will be playing out an overarching war scenario. Unlike my previous sessions, where each bundle of content was run several times, each session will build upon the other as each group ventures out. This will be represented by several new mechanics.
Time and Continuity
Many of you have come up with a variety of creative ideas for downtime, and have sat on them for quite some time. In recognition of that, Each player may "spend" a month of accrued downtime. Those of you who have not thought of what to do for your downtime, please get with me or Jiggles to explore your options.
Beginning Sunday the 10th, we will begin tracking time in two week chunks. Each two week period IRL will translate to two weeks in game. During that time, each player will be able to attend TWO sessions and spend ONE WEEK of downtime. Should such an circumstance occur where a player has the opportunity to play a third or fourth session, they may spend 3 days and then the final four days of their downtime to do so. Those who are unable to make two sessions in a two week period will be given XP/Loot rewards commensurate with the overall progress the entire group has achieved.
As each session takes place, subsequent groups will be able to see on a hexed rendition of the regional map the progress of previous groups. We will begin with a small amount of intelligence on the immediate area, with only vague ideas of enemy positions and forces further from the city/HQ. As each group explores and acts, the situation will shift. As time passes, enemies may move, reinforce, fortify, offer terms, surrender, or take other appropriate actions.
Beyond the vague breakup of time into these two week chunks, we will still treat time as our servant and not our master. Tracking this passage of time is not meant to hamstring anyone's creativity or limit play in any way. It is meant to give us some additional markers to enable a fair adjudication of downtime for all players, and to provide bounds for some of the new mechanics that this chapter will bring.
The War Journal
Each session there will be an opportunity for a significant XP reward for a volunteer to document the session and post it to a War Journal thread. This should be a factual representation of the session's activities, but beyond that can be tailored to the player's own style and character. If no player in a session wishes to take this role, I will do so.
To represent the impact of Interlopers Inc on the war effort, I will be maintaining a morale meter. This meter will begin at 50, and will rise and fall as the story and play unfold. The meter will cap at 100 and floor at 1. Morale can be positively impacted by: retaking territory, eliminated key personnel, providing entertainment or aid to the rank and file, or other, similar methods. Morale will be negatively impacted by PC death OR incapacitation, various enemy actions, players or NPC forces being forced to retreat, or similar circumstances.
A morale check will be performed once every two weeks for the overall war effort, and as the situation demands within each session depending on what individual parties get up to. A morale check will be performed by rolling a d100, with any result lower or equal to the current Morale rating counting as a success. In game, this will translate into a positive outcome for whatever daring plan a given party comes up with (or a negative one if it fails). For the campaign as a whole, read on.
Enemy Moves and Bi-Weekly Effects
Every other Sunday beginning with the 10th I will move forces on the map and introduce new circumstances that will affect the next two week's sessions. The initial circumstance we will begin with is "Blitzkrieg". Representing the practiced efficiency and odious amount of planning that went into this invasion, this will practically translate into the DM having a number of "disadvantages" equal to the number of players that can be handed out before a player makes any D20 roll.
For all subsequent weeks, the nature of the event will be determined by a Morale check. On a failure, I will design a "debuff" similar to the above that will be themed appropriate with the results of the past two weeks' sessions. On a success, a "buff" will be put in place for the next two week cycle. These effects will always have a narrative framing and a practical, mechanics based impact on the following sessions.
Difficulty and What to Expect
Fickle dice aside, most of our sessions have not carried with them lethal consequence. Let me say it right now, Retreat is an option. Success in these sessions is not going to come easy, and it might require multiple sessions/groups to accomplish major objectives.
To illustrate, let's take a straightforward situation like an enemy fort or camp. If a previous party, through whatever means, gains knowledge of the layout, the foes within, friendlies within, or what have you, that information will be available to all subsequent groups. As I said above, I will resolve enemy reinforcements and movements every two weeks IRL, meaning that the population of a given target will not significantly change until the next two week cycle begins. In that timeframe, other groups could attempt the same obstacle with the progress of the previous group virtually unchanged.
As we progress through this chapter, please do not view failure or setback as a negative. Difficulty, sacrifice, and failure are important foils to victory and growth, and the stories we are participating in together deserve to be interesting. Dark moments give way to heroics and truly awesome memories.
It has been an abject pleasure to expand LD&D out from a simple conceit for a group of us to run dungeon crawls with a rotating cast into a full blown narrative being contributed to by over two dozen people. If I or We need to change any of the above as we proceed forward, we will do so. As we discussed at our Guildhall, we are here to be entertained and create as a community, not be slavish to rules. My first session of Chapter 2 will begin on Sunday the 10th at 10PM. All of these sessions are open to any who wish to attend. See you then!