[Confessions of an English Zombie Fancier] No Actual Zombies Involved This Week

Yeah, you read that right. This week, something a little unusual happened.

I dropped my occasional mention of the Iron Kingdoms Role Playing Game and how much I’d like to demo it and how running a campaign again was on my New Years’ Pledgolutions List, and four of the CWG lads stepped out and said “yeah, go on then, I’m in.”

“Hello. My name is Flabber.”

This, of course, meant that I spent Thursday morning on the manic cycle of a lifetime cranking out PCs and NPCs and floorplans. There is a pre-generated introductory adventure out there, of course, and it’s quite a good one (it has Cryx in it, and is therefore the official best), but I had… other plans in mind.

See, back in the halcyon days of 2006, when all this started, I bought No Quarter every month; I drifted out of the habit only when I discovered a) unemployment and b) blogging and could get my content fix for free. It was a shame, because the magazine itself was becoming quality. However, before I passed on my copies to the lamented and lamentable Mr. Bandwagon (now terrorising Australia with his pink Menites and my original Cryx army), I scanned in all the super-neat d20 IKRPG content that I’d always wanted to run and never gotten around to running.

You were doing it too. Just ‘fess up.

This one’s a great ‘un, for instance. Party’s on a floating casino, with a package to deliver to the Lord Governor of Five Fingers (the Iron Kingdoms’ most wretched hive of scum and villainy, also large port city at the end of a long river that passes through several territories and therefore a naturally preferable location to anyone who read Sold Down The River at an impressionable age). Three day deadline. Mysterious other passengers. Narky trolls demanding a tithe. River pirates. Treacherous crew. The works.

Converting it was a fairly simple matter (god, I love Encounter Points as a mechanic) – the hard part was deciding which encounters to strip out because they’d either distract the party from their primary objective or make the session drag on past the four or so hours available between the club opening and last orders being called. I don’t normally worry about distracted parties, but in a demo session I tend to railroad hard and let the players’ ingenuity come out in how they deal with the planned encounters. In this case, I stripped out the “mysterious architecture draws the attention of an NPC”, “grymkin attempts to seduce/drown a PC” and “NPC attempts to bribe the party before they’re even on the boat” (that one’s asking for it – if your demo is set on a boat, start the session on the boat – don’t give the fuckers a chance to not interact with what you’ve prepared at all). I merged the last two and folded them into the first combat encounter, setting up a nice secondary antagonist who could potentially make an appearance again if the PCs thought she was harmless… and they did.

I’ll be needing one of these now.

Mine didn’t disappoint. They spent the session flirting with one antagonist, nicely disarming her distraction, pulverising the primary combat encounter before it had even started, and then victimising the captain of the ship because they swore blind he was trying to steal from himself. Insurance scam? Anyway, they ended up stealing the ogrun river pirates’ clinker-built scow and powering that downriver so they could get to Five Fingers and make their delivery on time.

A shame that none of them can steer a riverboat.
A doubleplusshame that none of them thought to remove the priceless cargo from the trollkin melee-type’s jacket pocket before he got shot with a rivet gun and near-fatally scalded.

I think I’ll be running The Soul Yard next.

I’ll be needing some of these too…

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