Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Ongoing Saga, and Lessons Learned

One of my goals with Wampus Country was to run an ongoing campaign which might get some "West Marches"-style flair as time goes on - multiple coexisting groups, pickup games, drop-in drop-out, all of that good stuff.  We're not quite there, yet, but there's progress.  If I include the 'proto-Wampus' group from last year - and I suppose I do - we've had three "threads" occur on-camera in Wampus Country, and they're all pretty different.  Let's take a look at the different groups, the characters, and how it's gone down.


Last year, prior to jumping into the Hangout thing, I ran a Labyrinth Lord game via gchat (which had its own issues, as you can imagine).  Some of the elements (the town of Thistlemarch, a few NPCs, some monster concepts) first appeared here, so it's definitely Wampus-y, but I hadn't yet committed to the whole "screw it, let's go ahead an include firearms" thing at that point.  Still, I've been working on the assumptions that the actions of this crew did take place, probably six months or so before the opening of the G+ version of the campaign.  The player-created deities from this game have been folded into Wampus Country as well.

We had eight (!) players and characters, who were all first level:

Grom Baldursblade (dwarf) (this guy was seriously unlucky...all the time)
Roland (cleric of Gloriana) (priest of dubious morality #1)
Quincy the Arbitrary (cleric of Taronja the Eternal) (priest of dubious morality #2)
Thokul Gnome-kicker (fighter) (halberd! ostensibly in service to the halfling, yet trying to get him killed)
Grug (fighter) (essentially a barbarian type; Grug's tribe, the Black Eagles, became Wampus canon)
Sealor (thief) (pretty much fearless, and occasionally the only one talking sense)
Marworn (magic-user) (obsessed with collecting interesting spell components)
Oliver Duckworth III (halfling) (urbane, manicured dandy with a pony called 'Princess')

It was an interesting party, and running for them taught me a lot.  First and most important lesson - even first-level noobs can kick some butt, especially if there are EIGHT of them including two clerics!  Look at the fighting-power and potential staying-power in that mob.

I used B1 In Search of the Unknown with this run, and although we stopped the campaign before they completely cleared the place out, they came pretty close.  There were lizard-dudes beneath the halls and a couple of other things, but the memorable bits for me (besides licking the idol) were the animated female mannequin (which the players insisted on calling the 'tranny-quin') and the poggles.  Poggles are little kobold-guys who look like pugs, and they were all over the first level; the PCs grabbed one as a guide as well, an unnamed dogboy who'd had his intelligence amplified by some curious mushrooms.  The poggles are the origin of kobolds-as-breeds-of-dogs thing that's going on in Wampus Country nowadays.

Now since it's technically the same campaign and the PCs are all FLAILSNAILS compliant (not that it's difficult), I'm going to encourage any of these players who want to do the Hangout thang (in Wampus Country or otherwise) to do so.  I would love to see some cross-pollenation.

Hyperintelligent poggle befriended by the PCs (actual NPC illustration from game).  Being total bastards, the PCs never asked the poggle his name, which hurt him deeply.


When the Boy started playing with the maps and notes for my online group (see below), he wanted to play 'Adventure', too.  He rolled up a character and headed out into Snollygoster Swamp to try and capture a dinosaur.  Unfortunately he didn't grab one, but he did manage to run away from some presumably-goblins, then fight a swamp-ogre (and kick it in the crotch before again running away).  The whole adventure lasted about forty minutes, which is pretty good for his attention span.  We haven't run a second one yet, as I'm waiting for him to ask for it and don't want to force him into Daddy's hobbies; but he has been informed that there is a mission waiting for him (ghoulgoyles have stolen the World's Smallest Giraffe from the museum!) when he's in the mood.  There's also been some talk of Mrs. Wampus perhaps joining the Boy on an adventure one day.

Vallasen the Mighty (fighter) ("age seven, Strength seventeen").  Vallasen wears a chain shirt, red cape, and a newspaper hat, and is armed with cutlass and pistol.  He is accompanied by his trusty companion Wiggy-Bench, a sentient animated bench (and first-level cleric).  Wiggy-Bench has a more complicated backstory than many characters I've seen lately, and the Boy made it all up while we were waiting (on a bench) at the Jiffy Lube.  Kids are firehoses of imagination.

Vallasen the Mighty may not realize it yet, but the sinister Baron Van der Kluck has dark plans for Frogport...


Running Wampus Country via Hangout has been great - lots of fun, meeting new people, and some moments of memorable craziness.  We have a core group of 'native' characters who have been accompanied by various FLAILSNAILS guest stars in different sessions.

Horvendile Early (fighter) (gambler and pistoleer) - the voice of reason
Ornibus Jones (cleric of Sethet the snake god) - urine-obsessed holy-roller
James Ironwall (fighter) - James is actually a clone of an ACKS character from another online game; I'm looking forward to hearing in future about how the two Ironwalls have grown differently
Chauncey Woolstrike (magic-user) - university twit with a cricket bat

This crew has been joined from the FLAILSNAILSverse by the likes of Slin Zad (magic-user), The Colonel (mountebank), Thalia (cleric), Tsai Moff (sorceress), and...I know I'm forgetting someone.  Anyway, I never quite know who I'm getting in a given week, which can be exciting.

The adventurers in question have hunted pixies for bounty-money, conquered zombie beavers, and most recently poking around in some ancient crypts (hidden beneath the aforementioned zombie beavers).  Lots of humor going on in this game - Ornibus and his holy urine, Chauncey's twittery, and long-suffering Early and Ironwall playing straight man for the most part.  Double-entendre, bad puns, the whole deal.  Interestingly, although Wampus Country seems very silly on the blog - and is, indeed, fairly silly - the adventures this group have been on so far haven't been that intrinsically silly.  Okay, zombie beavers is weird, but not silly.  Not "lollipop-golem" silly, y'know?  We'll see what happens next.

Poor Ornibus Jones currently has the head of a platypus.


The plan is of course to continue the weekly online group.  I'd love to get another one going somehow, perhaps an "occasional" online game in a different timeslot.  It's difficult for me to play/run before 10pm, though, which limits things - especially if I don't want to be up til 1 on a worknight.

I've also toyed with the idea of hitting one of my (several) Friendly Local Game Stores and see about getting maybe a biweekly f2f group going there.

The other iron in the fire GM-wise is stranger...  some friends at work have a weekly 3.5 game (which, funnily enough, plays on Fridays just like I do) and they've invited me to sit in and DM for a session.  That's being worked on, but I think it's safe to say that whatever I end up doing will be Wampus-related.  The original request was "run something classic", but most of the classics won't run comfortably in one night.  At this point - since they've also expressed that after all this charop combat blahblah in their current campaign they might be ready for a nice roleplay-heavy investigation thing - I'm thinking I'm going to yank them into the Wampus version of fairy-land for a night.


  1. It really is a lot of fun - First time I've gotten to 'play' something like D&D since 1993 and you keep the suspense level up remarkably well. Riding that fine line between silly and serious is the heart of 'gonzo', or whatever we call avoiding elfgames (is that one word or two) cliches, and you've done a fine job when you can make Gentleman Ghost seem menacing.

    Chauncey wants you to know it's a spiked Tennis Club or "Whacker Stick"(though he sometimes he gets confused himself)

  2. My apologies to you and to Chauncey - "Whacker Stick" it is!

    And thanks for the encouragement.