Thursday, April 29, 2021

aka 'Scrumberlands'

 I'm hoping to run Wampus Country - in particular the Lumberlands - at a number of virtual cons this year, and the season is upon us.  First up was ScrumCon, a wonderful local con that I've enjoyed attending in recent years.  To prepare for it, I did a couple of things.  First, I committed to the bit - all my con games this "season" will be Lumberlands, and they'll all be wilderness exploration using the low-prep tables in the book.  That's the whole point of the Lumberlands book, you're supposed to be able to use it at the table or for quick pre-session prep.

The next thing I needed was pregenerated characters.  Since I was running in B/X this go-round, I invested some time in writing up six pregens, all first level:

Hugo, a fighter

Red Rae, a thief

Olga von Sprinkle, a cleric

the Radical Razmatazz, a magic-user

Needles, a dwarf

Pvt. Hambone, a dog

Hand-drawn character sheets, y'all

As I wrote them up, I ensured they matched with the stellar illustrations Alex Damaceno did for Lumberlands (I did not have illos for Needles or Hambone - perhaps later this year).  I resolved to use these pregens throughout the summer, and further, to advance them as they gained xp through play - even if that meant they advanced unevenly.

The Sunday of ScrumCon arrived, and it was time to kick the tires on the Lumberlands book.  About half an hour before game-time, I prepped some content.  Grabbing a sheet of paper, I put the starting town of Squeamish at the bottom, and then drew three vectors coming out of it to the NW, straight N, and NE.  Along these vectors, some circles representing points of a pointcrawl, and links from side to side.  At the end of each vector, I made a note on a destination, corresponding to a rumor.  If they chased the sasquatch rumor, they'd go this way, etc.  Then I used the encounter tables in the book to roll an encounter for each point.  Lumberlands includes critters, carnivorous plants, NPCs, and other assorted weirdness, so there was a decent mix of "stuff" on the pointcrawl map by the end of it.

We had five players, so every PC save Olga was chosen (a first-level cleric in B/X doesn't get a spell, I wonder if that was a factor).  They elected to head northeast, pursuing rumors that might lead to the secret squirrel city high in the trees.  Along the way they dealt with things like:

* a weird reverse-gravity area

* a headless ghost

* man-eating plants

* warring gangs of lumberjacks

...and a couple other things as well (critters!).  I don't want to spoil the tables too much by reciting everything that happened, but they survived and even thrived (and were unafraid to run away when necessary).  At one point they encountered some squirrels, and stole - or maybe traded for - a mysterious package one squirrel carried.  Within the folded oak-leaf was a piece of magically-charged root.  When Razmatazz chewed the enchanted root, I rolled on a table to see what knowledge it contained (certain magic trees containing memories and knowledge is one of the central gimmicks of the Lumberlands), and surprise surprise, I rolled that the root contained a secret the imbiber sought... so of course that was the location of the squirrel city.  Jackpot!  The PCs sought out the city and managed to parley with the squirrels there for a bit before we wrapped the session.

I think it all worked nicely as a con session and allowed the players to explore the highlights of the Lumberlands setting.  A pleasing conclusion!  I still need to assign and track xp for the session.

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