On Tuesday I kicked off my Hubris campaign with my players in Rochester, NY. I was really excited to start this campaign since A) I just released the book; and B) I haven’t run Hubris in two years since I playtested the mechanics as I was writing out the book.
When I was pondering where to kick off this campaign, I decided I wanted to start it in a territory that none of my original groups went to (they both spent most of their time in the Great Plains of Unbidden Sorrow or Frozen Wastes), so I decided on the Canyons of the Howling Red Rock.
Angie- Human Druid- level 1
Nate- Avarian Trickster- level 1
Tyler- Mutant (squishy, oddly-shaped body, flamingo legs, and ant colony in his veins that he can release once per day as an attack)- level 1
Sammi- Human Blood Witch- level 1
Kevin- Human Thief- level 1
Chad- Murder Machine- level 1
Jamie- Human Cleric (follower of Set)- level 1
Not Present This Session
Emma- Half Demon- level 1
Aside: All art pictured is from the Hubris campaign setting
Something Smells Fishy…
The session started with the group on a ship, having left the Port of Ustler, off the southern shore of the Northern continent, and sailing across the crimson waters of the Sea That Runs Red towards the Canyons of the Howling Red Rock.
The ship was heading towards Undra, The Great Spire (info on Undra below). The group answered a help wanted ad from a wealthy merchant named Serif to escort him and his goods from Fairweather to the Grand Bazaar. The lure of seeing Undra the Great Spire and the Grand Bazaar, leaving the cold, bitter weather of the northern continent, or even possibly traveling to the Unsettled Expanse and seeking fabulous riches was too good a pull to resist.
The group was on the deck of the ship listening to the captain, ‘Ol Tom, prattle on about his adventuring days, “used to be a fine warrior, that I was! That is until one day, I got my leg chewed off by an inbred mutie! After that I decided the sea was safer. But my woes didn’t end there! Two years on the sea and I lost my left hand to a giant lobster monster! Swallowed it in one gulp! It was then that I realized the gods just hated me, so said fuck it!” He said tapping his peg leg with his hook and taking a few puffs out of his pipe.
The ship halted abruptly in the crimson waters, rocking violently and sending people and goods falling to the floor. Serif lamented loudly as many of his goods crashed on the deck and broke open.
The group looked around at the source of the disturbance when five huge squid tentacles, roughly 15’ tall, burst from the water and started crashing onto the deck of the ship. Riding on these slimy appendages were over a dozen Deep Ones. These disgusting fish creatures lunged off the tentacles and began attacking passengers and sailors. Some netting their victims and jumping overboard and others biting the heads off of their prey.
The tentacles whipped around, smashing into the ship and sent bits of wood and metal flying into the air.
Three Deep Ones lunged at the characters to take them prisoner. Serif shrieked, “protect me!” The PCs rushed in to defend their employer and make some “fish-kababs”!
Aside: As players rolled initiative I told them that for this session ONLY their characters would not die if they fell to zero HP. They would suffer the adverse effects of being “killed”, but their character would continue on. I did this for a few reasons: 1) this was the first time we’ve played together since early June and I didn’t want the first session in six months to be a deathfest for them; 2) none of these players have have tried DCC or Hubris (which is a high octane meat grinder), so I wanted to ease them into this style of game; and 3) as casual gamers, I wanted them to get their feet wet and enjoy the session without that threat of “oh shit- well there went THAT character.” However, next session- it’s a free for all. No holds barred.
Combat Ensues- and People Die and a Ship Goes Down
Combat in this was, as expected, brutal. Angie was, funnily enough, the most effective fighter of the group (which actually I was excited about as when I designed the Hubris druid- I pictured them as the Wendol from 13th Warrior (just not as evil). Angie gutted a Deep One and battled a tentacle, dropping the Deep One before she was killed by a tentacle.
Sammi and Jamie flew into combat, swinging their scythes at tentacles and Deep Ones alike, sadly not hitting much, and Sammi was killed by a tentacle and Jamie was knocked for half his hit points from an attack.
While the group fought off the three Deep Ones and five tentacles, the squid’s other three tentacles were attacking the boat, dealing 3d6 damage per round. The goal was simple: if the crew attacked and killed three tentacles before the ship was reduced to zero HP, the ship would be saved and the squid would flee. If not, well… then they’d get a bit wet AND bloody. The ship had 30 HP and a Damage Reduction of 2.
The group killed the three Deep Ones and managed to down two of the five tentacles, but the ship was reduced to zero HP. The PCs had to made Reflex saves to avoid getting battered around by the collapsing ship as they plunged into the frigid crimson waters.
Jamie spotted a life boat and the group made their way there, with Tyler swimming out to collect Angie’s and Sammi’s unconscious bodies.
All Ashore That’s Washed Ashore
The group washed ashore on a pebbly beach of the Canyons of the Howling Red Rock. After gaining their barrings, Angie was able to figure out that the group was roughly two days East passed Undra.
The group rested for several days, regaining strength and needed HP before setting out towards the Great Spire.
Aside: For each day of travel I rolled a d6 and on a 5-6 there would be some sort of encounter. For both days I rolled a 6. I then rolled a d4, even would be an Encounter; odd would be Lay of the Land.
For the first day I rolled a Lay of the Land- a burnt out fort now occupied by Beastmen. The second day an Encounter (more on this next post).
After resting for a few days the group set out towards Undra, with Nate scouting ahead in the sky. In the distance Nate noticed smoke coming from a craggy canyon. Nate flew to the top of the canyon and looked down. He saw a ruined fort of burned wood, and saw figures moving, but could not make them out. He flew back to the group and relayed the info and they decided to investigate.
Tyler, an ex-sideshow freak, wanted to use his megaphone and have Angie turn into a bear and dance. However, the rest of the group decided that it would be more prudent to not die and send Kevin in to do some scouting.
Kevin found the brunt fort to be housed by savage hyena beastmen. The creatures scented him before he got really close and the fort doors opened and several beastmen spilled out, giving chase.
Kevin reemerged from the canyon screaming to run as 25 beastmen followed behind him. We ended the session with the group fleeing the beastmen, eventually giving them the slip after two hours of evasive maneuvers.
Info on Undra
The metropolis of Undra has been a work in progress for millennia, with artisans constantly delving out and shaping the monstrous 2,000’ high boulder in which the city was created. Most citizens of Undra do not know the history of when their great city was founded, nor do any of those who live throughout Hubris. That information is carefully guarded in the secret Halls of the Imprisoned Queen, which lies in the depths of the earth, below the very foundries and base of the city.
The warm weather of Undra is more hospitable and welcoming than the other areas of Hubris, allowing people to wear light flowing robes or togas, rather than bulky clothing for warmth.
The Grand Bazaar makes up roughly one quarter of Undra, almost reaching the top echelon of the spire. The bazaar sells almost anything one can imagine from around the world, and some things, merchants have even claimed, from worlds beyond.
The top level of Undra is home to the nobles, the Offices of the High Merchant who oversees the Grand Bazaar, the Royal Guard of the Setting Sun, and the Palace of the Searing Sun, where Queen Valandria rules her court. The people of Undra consider her a goddess of the sun as she is always first and last to be touched by its warmth on Hubris.
The poor live on the lower levels, mostly in Junk Town. These vagrants, lowlifes, and ne’er-do-wells sell illegal and discarded objects that they find in the refuse heaps that gather in their areas.
Undra has been at war with the Four Gorgons and their beastmen armies for 5 years.