Delving Of Ancient Tomes

by xaosseed

Over the past couple of months, prompted by some idle throughts during Nanowrimo, I have been digging back through old campaign notes to see what actually remains. Two things are notable, first that very little remains of the Kraken Mesa game, or at least very little on paper. I find some bits noting the in game nickname of ‘Babylon 666’ which I had forgotten but the blow by blow of what happened and when seems to have never been written down at all.

What I started looking for, however, what notes on the Katharsis game, which had a deeper bench than I immediately recalled as I found a bunch more character sheets in the folder with the rest of it. I did find some timeline and a whole bunch of maps and this is where the fun starts properly.

The core question that kicked all this off was ‘where was Farnfel?’ this was the starter village where my very first two man session kicked off with Lorcan and Jude (and temporarily Mathew as a third) before they headed off on a starter mission. The name hung around a long, long time because it became a talisman of Judes that no matter what else went wrong at least they were out of Farnfel. I cannot recall exactly what went so wrong as to prompt this but anyway, I want to try and see how much of what remained could be pieced together.

There were a couple of ribbon maps and region maps of various scales but the notation was/is horrible and I’ve only managed to finally pull it off by rereading everything and noting the ‘we went from here to here via other place’ which gives some sort of idea what is near where. Poorly written town names on maps I’m able to correct because NPC cheat sheets had ‘John of X’ with the X written clearly and spelt correctly.

Digging through all these notes has been amusing as the scales are completely out of sync, mostly strip maps for specific purposes with relative distances. Some are very detailed zoomed in others are half the country side. If memory serves, the first game was a two man, Jude and Lorcan going to a wizards Auction, then there was a second one where they went to the New Mudspoint Copper Mine just up the road from Farnfel. This was really the question that prompted the whole thing because Mudspoint is the main river trading town in the middle of the map so they would be near that, right? So where was Farnfel? I pieced it together and wrote it all down on a new map.

After today and yesterday digging through the old folder and looking at everything I have some to the conclusion that the names of the New Mudspoint Copper Mine were obviously running some sort of scam because they could hardly have been further away without being in a different realm. If I take the ‘Overland movement rates (day)’ which gives something like 16-24 miles a day and assume that most of these towns are a days walk apart then we can get an idea of the distance – 9 towns in a bit of a zig-zag route so approximately 180 miles, 300-ish kilometers, so from Sligo to Cork. If I am interpreting my own highly dubious sketch maps then the mine itself is located within a collapsed portion of the barrier escarpment that keeps the domain of the Magelord Tarkesh safely boxed into his jungles below. So not only is it right on the border of the realm it was probably sitting on one of the primary potential invasion points and certainly the route any wierd thing would wander out of the Magelords jungle lowlands and thus why there was no tower or keep or watchpost there seems a greivous oversight.

In fairness, a major theme to the whole campaign was ‘beyond these roads and towns noone knows whats going on’ and there was a pretty gung-ho humanoid on humanoid crusade as a backdrop to a chunk of it – and indeed the mine was abandoned and overrun so maybe it was a scam and it came to exactly the anticipated fate…

It is amusing to see where the adventures ended up – judging by the zoom on the maps. There was one map which I think has got to be the initial two man game where they went to an auction, ended up hunting Pelthogs and dived a dungeon where goblins had built dragon traps to keep the dragon out.

Then there was the second phase – starting with the infamous twenty player raid on the Keep of Lord Ammi (location unknown) which lead to a bloodbath of first-level player characters and a classic example of why one doesn’t split the party as group A continued to be pounded on round by round by a troll while group B abseiled into the under-croft of the keep and found out all sorts of things – driving the timelines at completely different rates and not actually solving the problem of ‘big angry troll’. To his credit, Colin did eventually vanquish the beast though now I look back it was pretty unreasonable of me to expect that he (or anyone) would.

I keep finding pages and pages of notes from ruins and what must have been a long slog fighting orcs in the hinterlands; again strongly supported by a completely un-annotated map – because why would I have put in annotations? Those scratches indicating a … monastery? And a wooded valley? And… a hole? All these things were etched in memory, of course I would never forget them…

As best I can piece together after a long block of wilderness fighting and finally finishing off the demon Hephizal the party decided to head for the Outer Planes because they had twigged that they had unlocked the barriers that prevented anything from getting in or out.

There was a block of trekking around – judging by a back of the character sheet list of ‘planes I have been’ … then scene missing.. then there was an adventure near Torch, gate town to Gehenna that resulted in them making a fortune and buying The Beacon Inn – but where that Inn was in the multiverse I have no idea at all.

I do like being somewhat vindicated in my distances in finding that the early Prime campaign seems to have happened all down one side of a set of mountains and the other mid-era Prime stuff was on the other side and the drama seems to have occured within a region that was roughly the size of Connaught so in fact that plenty big to feel ‘local’ but hold lots of trouble!