Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Adventure Recaps: World of Samoth - 2014 - April 2019

It's been a long time since I've posted any recaps from my long-running World of Samoth game. We've had quite a few hiatus periods for some long stretches when players weren't available due to work, travel, or illness, but we have managed to continue playing since my last update in July 2013. Rather than provide detailed recaps from each session, this will provide a summary of the big events that have transpired since then.

Much of what transpired during those sessions involved learning many of the big secrets of my campaign world, such as where the different races came from, why the number "seven" is so important, why there are stories of dragons in mythology but no one has even seen one (except for the members of the Company while traveling through portals to other dimensions), and so forth. For those of you who have been following my posts about my campaign world over the past few years, the below includes a lot of information about how I planned things out in my campaign prior to starting play.

  • Shao left the company (the player of this character wasn't really into the campaign, which I can understand given that it started long before he joined, and it's not as truly sandbox as I would make it now if I were to start over)
  • After Sebastian returned to the company, "he" eventually revealed to the new members of the company that he was actually a female half-elf, disguising herself as a man to avoid being discovered by a group of evil sorcerers from the notorious Black School, who had somehow corrupted Sebastian's mother
  • Sebastian was eventually found, and kidnapped, by members of the Black School and the Company had to rescue her. During the battle, Sebastian's mother was killed, and the Black School itself disappeared completely, with Sebastian's sister trapped inside
  • The Company continued to try to determine the nature of the "six generals" and assign the names they had been given to the entities they had previously encountered
    • Eventually, after much work and research, the Company properly associated the names as follows:
      • "Chaos" is the entity they encountered outside the Banevault in Veundhi
      • The "Queen" was the entity referred to as the "Queen of Poisoned Winter" the Company heard about in Courriseux when they encountered a group of her cultists
      • The one known as "Crawler" or "Shade" was a powerful vampire-like entity the Company encountered in Margova
      • In an area outside the city of Barrid, the Company long ago had found a ransacked tomb, in which they found the bodies of some of their former comrades, and after which a trio of Jade Elf "Murchs's Guardians" had chastised the Company for "letting something escape." This entity later turned up in a library in Marlona and killed the head librarian. The Company believes this entity is the one known as "Depraved." 
      • In the Goblin Lugalate of Nur, the Company entered a sunken temple that had recently been thrust up from the earth, where they briefly encountered a somewhat succubus-looking entity that they have associated with the name "Consort."
      • Lastly, the entity known as "Scorned" was unknown at the time, until the Company did further research and determined that his location might be somewhere on the continent of Atkira. 
  • After returning home to Esoría, the Company checked on the status of the war between Esoría and Courriseux and discovered that the war had escalated. Huge sections of both countries, especially along the border, had been decimated by fire and sometimes magical means, thousands were dead, and both sides were recruiting more soldiers to their cause, even resortint to conscripting. Other countries were beginning to become involved and the war threatened to undermine the stability of the western continent. Upon learning that the two opposing generals on both sides were expert tacticians and appeared somewhat evenly matched, the Company began to have suspicions. Based on the numerical and technological superiority of the Esoríans, the Courrisians should have been defeated much more easily. The war, however, appeared to be turning into a war of attrition, claiming many lives on both sides. The Company began to wonder if somehow a higher power were involved, manipulating both sides in the war to reduce the available fighting forces as well as to distract people from other events.
  • The Company made their way to the city of Marlona, home of the largest library in the western continent, to continue to do more research. While they were there, they encountered strange groups of robed figures at nighttime, apparently conducting some strange rituals. They eventually discovered that these robed figures were all wraith elves, and they were attempting to somehow open portals or gateways to other dimensions. The Company, having encountered similar strange events in Verundhi while investigating the Banevaults, were aware of the dangers, and attempted to stop the cultists. However, the ritual went wrong, as the cultists were not learned enough in the dark magics necessary, and they accidentally called forth some form of eldritch horror, which was not their intent. The Company fought and eventually bested the creatures and the cultists, but the battle was fierce. 
    • The Company eventually learned that these wraith elves were attempting to open these portals at several different locations throughout the city, whereas all of the portals they had seen before had been fixed in location.
  • The Company also acquired an ancient map that was full of symbols, drawings, and locations but no actual words to mark the names of the locations. 
  • After more research, the Company learned that, throughout history, the number "7" had been seen as a recurring theme through different religions and cultures all across the world. However, the non-assimilated Goblins were different - they held that the number "6" was more important. In speaking with some "true" un-assimilated Goblins, the Company learned that Goblins do not have a written language, and it was due to a prejudice they had discovered long ago; that the written word can easily be changed and manipulated by outside forces. As a consequence, the Goblins had kept up an oral history, only, refusing to write down any of their legends and stories, but instead of pass them down only orally, via songs, poems, and stories. Their culture held that the number "7" was a bad omen. It was at this point that the Company began to recall all of the artistic motifs they had seen in the various ancient, ruined temples where they had encountered the powerful entities that they now believed were the "Six Generals." Many times, there were seven figures present, as statues or paintings on the walls, depicting six females and one male. In many occasions, the 7th, male, figure had been de-faced or scratched out, or the statue destroyed. 
  • Through speaking with the Goblins and doing additional research, the Company uncovered information that had the potential to shake the foundations of cultures throughout the world. The six female figures present in the artwork were six sisters, and the progenitors of the six "pure-blood" elven races. The seventh figure was their brother, who had mated with each of his six sisters, and then in secret also created a seventh race of elves, the wraith elves, who were corrupted by him. Additionally, and most shockingly, the elves had been the creators of the other sentient races in the ancient past, genetically molding them to perform specific tasks in a form of servitude. The dwarves, for example, had been a race built for manual labor, which explained why there were vague stories and recollections of dwarven slavery in their distant past, and why many dwarves always carried some form of chain on them as a decoration and reminder of their slave past, and an incentive to learn the truth about their people. The Company realized that if this information were ever made public, it could threaten to tear apart the relations between the various races and lead to centuries of hatred and even genocide. 
  • The Company also learned, through this research, that the "Six Generals" were the six main helpers to the 7th figure ("The Brother"), and that millennia ago, they and the brother had been sealed away for all time in ancient tombs which were then magically pushed through portals to other dimensions, known as "pocket dimensions," to keep them away. To guard them, the last remaining dragons in the world had agreed to go into the pocket dimensions, to ensure that the evil entities could never return. The portals were never supposed to have been opened and the entities were never supposed to have returned. However, it was clear now that the six generals had somehow broken back into the world, and were actively working to try to bring the Brother back. 
  • It was at this point that the Company realized that the dragons they had encountered before, while traveling through portals, had been stuck in these so-called "pocket dimensions" and had been corrupted by evil after millennia of being stuck there. It explained why the blue dragon with whom they spoke had tinges of silver on its scales, and similarly why the red dragon had touches of gold. The dragons had been turned into creatures of evil. More importantly, it was proof that dragons really did once exist on the world of Samoth. 
  • The Company also uncovered that the Brother, also known as "T'Nuri," needed to keep his machinations quiet. He had secretly made plans to be able to return to the world, all those years ago when he was first imprisoned. He was the one responsible for falsely planting the number "seven" into world cultures, to ensure that the rest of the world would not listen to the Goblins and their warnings. He also had somehow created a way to dampen divination magic as his return grew closer, which explains why there are sages and wizards in the world who remember being able to cast divination magic in their youth, but no longer have the power. 
  • Finally, their research uncovered some knowledge about "six artifacts" that needed to be acquired to defeat the Brother. The Company has begun to realize that some of these artifacts have been in their possession the whole time, such as the small bauble that Jeremi Udalls' mother had given him before he set out adventuring all those years ago (about 18 years in "real world" game playing time!). Other items included Cirend's sword, Sombra's shield, and Sebastian's cat-pin. The items begin to cast a faint glow when they are in proximity to each other, and each one also is apparently associated with a particular theme: Tyranny, Carelessness, Protection, Servitude, Curiosity, and Aggression. The Company believes that the items associated with Servitude and Aggression are missing, but have begun formulating theories on where those items may be located. 
  • With all of this knowledge, the Company surmised that the map they had acquired, that had no writing on it, may have been Goblin-made in the ancient times, and after consulting with various sages and learned individuals, they were able to roughly determine the locations on the map, which was for some mysterious place to the far north of the world. 
  • The Company also heard rumors of a temple that had "appeared out of nowhere" in the Kingdom of Nkoya on the eastern side of the continent of Atkira, near the city of Manpala. The Company decided to travel there, as they believed they would be able to find the remaining "general," Scorned, there. They booked passage on a ship known at the Green Misery, manned by members of the once-famed Knights Basilicar, an order of chivalrous knighthood that had ceased to keep up with the times and was now mainly a ceremonial organization. While aboard, the knights' historian recognized Jeremi's staff, an item Jeremi found very early in his adventuring career [our campaign's second adventure, way back in 2001 or 2002] and which had properties that had always remained a mystery to him. The historian explained that the staff's primary power was to protect magic-users from the corruption of evil, which is a danger that almost every arcane caster faces.  
  • After eventually reaching the location and finding the entrance to the recently-appeared temple, the Company entered. They found many of the same artistic motifs they had seen in similar temples before, all around the world, and realized that this was, in fact, one of the "temple-prisons" created to hold one of the six generals, which had somehow broken free of the magics that hid it in a "pocket dimension" and returned to the world where it was created. Inside battled a huge creature, in form not unlike a kraken, as well as three powerful undead corpses. 
  • The Company then encountered a strange entity, who looked something like a young child, but floating in mid-air. The Company assumed that this character, who seemed to whine and complain a bit, was probably the Scorned. During a brief combat, the Scorned cast powerful magic at the Company that nearly destroyed them, before he left. After tending to their wounds, the Company left the temple; upon exiting, they found that the entrance was surrounded by a group of native tribesmen, some wearing masks. The tribesmen escorted to the Company back to the city of Manpala, where they met with the Council of Elders and the main village Elder. 
  • The Village Elder explained about the properties and dangers of magic, as far as his people knew. The Council of Elders was aware of the six generals, and knew that all six had been released. After a long discussion with the Council, the Company learned of a cult that was somehow in league with the Scorned, and that they were conducting a ritual later that evening. The Company learned of the location of the ritual, on top of a high plateau out in the savannah, and they began to plan their assault on the cultists. 
At this point, we stopped our last session, as it was getting late, and we realized that most likely a combat was coming next. We're scheduled to play in about a week and a half, which is fitting since it will be almost exactly 18 years to the day that we began the campaign way back in May 2001. 

I've had a ton of fun running this campaign, and it seems like it's slowly starting to come toward a natural conclusion soon. When we started, I wasn't married (although I was engaged) and of my original group of seven players, only two are left, and we've added six new players along the way, of which two are also left. Of the remaining players, only one was married when we started, and none of us had kids when we began playing. So much has happened to all of us personally and professionally during our campaign. 

It's been a challenge to me, as oftentimes it's been difficult to find a date when everyone can play, to the point when last year in December I was trying to pick a Saturday or Sunday to play, and the first date we could come up with that we were all available was five months later, in April. That kind of thing is frustrating to me, as we lose momentum of the game and it makes it difficult for people to remember what's happening or to feel any true stakes in the game. We are trying to get a bit more on track, so ideally we'll be playing once a month at least for the rest of the year. 

I've also started planning my next campaign, which will most likely take place in the same world. And for this one, I'm really trying to figure out what rule system I want to use. I personally am much more wanting to use an OSR type ruleset, such as Lamentations of the Flame Princess, which seems much easier to tweak and customize, versus something like D&D 5E (which many of my players want to use). As a DM, I'm really just over using something as crunchy at 3.5/Pathfinder, and while 5E seems to improve on that to a bit, I'm not sure it's a easily customizable as I want (I know it can be customized, but earlier versions of rules seem quicker and easier to customize, as "balance" wasn't as much of a factor). We'll see what happens as the time gets closer. 

What are some of your longest-running campaigns? How did they, and you, change over time? 

Hanging: Home Office (laptop)
Listening: "Funky Drummer" by James Brown
Drinking: Tap water


  1. I think the longest campaign I have run is Horror on the Orient Express, back when I was about eighteen or nineteen, so about twenty years ago!

    It ran for just over a year, at a time when people were starting to leave town to go to university and so on, so the group that finished the campaign was not the same group that started it; I'm not sure that there was anyone at the end -- aside from me --who was there from the beginning.

    (I'm pretty sure it started in the 1990's too, before I shifted it to the as-written 1920's. I have no idea how I sold that to the players!)

    It's a pre-written campaign and I didn't do a lot of tweaks, and it is -- perhaps unsurprisingly -- quite linear, so it didn't have the depth and richness that I can see in your campaign summary above.

    1. I love that time period and I have a fondness for trains, so I'm sure I would have loved it!

      It's definitely very hard to keep everyone's attention and find times to play that are convenient for everyone. A year-long campaign is nothing to sneeze at!

  2. Not really a campaign in the traditional sense - more of a series of episodes based in the same New England town and having a central core and a revolving supporting cast of characters - but my contemporary supernatural RPG campaign started in 1989 and was revisited as recently as 2018 (and may yet have some life left in it). I was an unmarried stock clerk at the time. Now I'm on marriage number two, have been a widower, have two kids who are just a few years younger than the game itself, and I'm an IT manager with the largest furniture retailer in the northeast. I'd say that's a fair amount of change.

    Oddly enough, two guys with whom I started the game haven't changed at all, except for getting older... :P

    1. Wow! I thought my campaign had run for a long time! 1989 to now! Fantastic!

      What rules system are you using?

    2. It's probably no surprise, but the game system's changed a few times over the years. It started out being played using Palladium's Beyond the Supernatural, then moved to a home-brew system, then to TriTac's Bureau 13: Stalking the Night Fantastic. That system stuck until as recently as last year. If any further games take place, they'll probably be played using The Dresden Files RPG. (There's a good chance the campaign is dead, however - as of last October, we no longer have a game group, and there doesn't seem to be much hope for building a new one. I'd have better luck finding a unicorn around here than I would making new friends to game with! :D)

  3. That is a sweepingly epic retrospective; thanks for sharing. I'm curious how you worked in the contrasting number symbolism clues - was it all just oral description, was there art involved, how did players/PCs pick up on it...?

  4. Thanks for commenting - glad you enjoyed it!

    Part of the problem I have with my campaign world is that I've changed so many things from the base rules and settings that illustrations, minis, maps, and so forth almost never work for me. So, I've had to do it all pretty much from verbal descriptions, and I allow the characters so ask questions to make sure they understand what I'm describing.

    On top of that, one of my players is really good at taking notes, and he's been using the same notebook since we started playing, so the second time that the players encountered some bas relief status of slender female figures with exaggerated features, even though it had been several years in real-world game time, his memory was triggered and he flipped through his notebook, and made a note of the similarities.

    This particular player over time has also taken it on himself to send out emails to the players before each session in which he has put a lot of different clues or whatever into "buckets" and he uses those buckets to describe when and where they encountered the clues, and then he theorizes on what it might mean, so a lot of between-game discussions occur between the players via email as they try to tie everything together.

    He had buckets for things like the Numbers Six and Seven, the different powerful demonic creature guys (the "generals" as they call them) - once they had met three of them, they started to see a pattern, so they added them to the list. They had a bucket for the progress, or lack thereof, of the war between Courriseux and Esoria. They had a bucket for the artifacts they were trying to collect, once they figured out that was a "thing," etc.

    It's fun for me as the DM to read their suppositions and see them try to figure things out (I'm copied on all the emails between the players).

    Thanks again!


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