Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Catching Up With Griffin Mountain: Earth Season

I've gotten pretty far behind on my posts about my relatively impromptu Griffin Mountain sessions. Just to restate the premise, the idea was to introduce players to both the Griffin Mountain setting and the RuneQuest 6 rule set gradually. We rolled up PCs at our first session and figured out a few things about them through the round robin "tell me something about someone else's character" method that I like to employ (I've found that this gives my players a little more "buy in" with the other PCs' parts of the campaign and a bit more willingness to cooperate). We used a similar tactic to let the players flesh out some details of their clan and its religious and political life.

The PCs in the game started as would-be hunters, juvenile members of the clan who are undergoing their rites of passage into the clan proper. After they rolled up their attributes (RQ actually calls them attributes, so I have to un-train my brain that wants to call them "Ability Scores," a term I prefer) and made sure there were at least 80 points distributed among all seven, they spend 100 skill points on their Cultural skills (Primitive culture). We didn't touch Career skills yet. In fact, the PCs didn't even have Careers yet. The idea was that after they had a chance to play their characters a bit, they'd get to choose how they develop and see what Careers they naturally gravitated toward. At the end of each season of play (with one session equaling one season), I awarded them 20 skill points to spend on Career skills (with some exceptions; attaining certain goals during the session might "unlock" other skills).

The players' choice of Careers was nice and diverse: +Craig Brasco decided that he wanted his character to be a Beast Handler, +PJ Muszkiewicz decided that his should be a Shaman and +Gabriel Perez Gallardi wanted his to be a Thief. Notice that none are straight-up Warriors or Hunters, which I think is pretty cool. Despite their lack of combat superiority, remember that by the time that Earth season came around, they had already taken down a juvenile saber cat (smilodon) on their own. So, while not complete combat monsters, these dudes are no slouches.

Earth Season

Back in the Sea season, Sick Ape had attracted the attention of a disease spirit. At the end of the Fire season, Little Fox took the risk of calling the spirit out and entered into spirit combat with sickening thing. In the end, Little Fox almost lost and was about to be possessed when a last-ditch effort turned the tide (he remembered he had a Luck point or had done math wrong or something) and he bound the spirit into his flint axe. Now the rite brothers had a powerful fetish on their side.

Dangerground: Yeah, it's like that
Were they still brothers, though? Sick Ape -- now named Dougal, who is called Cunningblade, having put away his milk name -- had passed his tests and was now a hunter of the Gaidresing clan, but Little Fox and Little Bull had not. During the Earth season, these two were allowed to travel with the hunters, though, and help them as they might. The big pressure was on Dougal, though, for he must find prey for the clan to hunt. Through a series of unlikely circumstances, Dougal found the tracks of barking deer near a stream and cautiously approached... only to fail a Stealth check at the last moment and send the deer into a literal barking panic. The tribe swooped in and struck, including the rite brothers who were around as sort of squires for the huntsmen. All in all, though, it worked and the clan brought in a pretty solid haul, which boded well for Dougal.

This hunt had occurred in Dangerground, that perilous plain that separates the kingdoms of Balazar from the unknown lands beyond. While the clan's hunters -- including the PCs -- were off not only hunting but also avoiding the alien inhabitants of the plain. Though they avoided contact with these foreign things, they had heard rumors that the Dangerground were home to foul subhumans like Broo or even worse, Trolls. The hunters tried to keep a low profile for safety's sake, and seemed to have done so, until the very last night of the season, when bonfires were lit on their horizons, as if a warning against staying any longer.

Back at the clan's camp, a growing schism was developing thanks to the rivalry between the two potential candidates for the clan's Grandmother -- the rune priest of the Hearthmother. One of the candidates is Ciana, wife of Labras, leader of the hunters. Seen to be cunning and wise if ambitious, Ciana is a strong candidate, often wining the hearts and minds of the tribe through logic. Eithne, the other candidate, is the eldest daughter of Gaidres, the clan chief. It was her daughter who the tribe sacrificed to Votanki last Sacred Time, that his tribe may grow in number and that he might bless the secret grove of yew trees he showed the tribe's ancestors. In her time on earth, Eithne has seen much sorrow -- with the death of her child at the hands of the tribe and her father's crippling during a hunt two Earth seasons ago -- and known much privilege -- as the daughter of the clan chief (Gaidres Flinttooth) and the grand daughter of the tribe's high shaman of the Honored Ancestors (Maon the Ancient).

Among the hunters, the word is that is right for Labras Trailseer, leader of the hunters and Rune Lord of the Found Child, to challenge Gaidres Flinttooth for chieftanship of the clan. Though few hunters will tell which of the two they would prefer to follow, the profitable hunt in Dangerground has put Labras on even footing with Gaidres, who had opposed the move to the perilous plain.