At the end of our last Rise of the Runelords session, the Saviors of Sandpoint were in a bad way. They had split up to rush through a funhouse of terror, which turned out to be what’s commonly referred to as “a bad idea.” With party members bleeding to death on the ground, bleeding to death on their feet, and some just disappearing and leaving casters vulnerable to some “aggressive structural reconfiguration”, things looked bleak for the heroes.
Did they survive? And who is the handsome green fellow in the picture above? That’s about as clickbait as I get, so clicky-clicky and find out in Rise of the Runelords Episode 34 – Mite Makes Right!
Recently I did something I hadn’t done in a long time – I watched a UFC pay-per-view. UFC 269 had several fights on it that I thought would be interesting to check out, including the two main even title fights. One of the title bouts was for the UFC Women’s Bantamweight title, pitting the Number-Three ranked Julianna Pena against the most dominant female fighter in mixed martial arts, the Two-Division Champion (holding titles in both the Bantamweight and Featherweight division) Amanda Nunes.
Nunes has brutalized every woman in her path with her immense power advantage, beating her opponents with her striking and grappling. This fight was not expected to be much different. It was the pay-per-view’s co-main event under the lightweight title fight. Most people saw this as an appetizer of violence before the Main Event. Julianna Pena was being thrown to the wolves, and everyone from the Las Vegas oddsmakers to the UFC announcers themselves never seemed to give Pena much of a chance.
Then Julianna Pena shocked the world in what many consider the biggest upset in MMA history and defeated Amanda Nunes to become the new UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion.
Pena didn’t just beat Nunes. She beat her at her own game, standing toe-to-toe with the champ and outstruck the stronger striker. Pena wore out Nunes, fighting off grappling submissions before getting a submission of her own in the second round of the scheduled five-round bout.
How could this happen? Nunes was the superior fighter. So how did the superior fighter lose?
Reality punched her square in the face.
This kind of thing has happened to a number of dominant champions. They train hard to reach the top, but after crushing everyone they face they sometimes begin to see themselves as unbeatable. They take their foot off the gas a little and begin to cruise. They don’t see any opponents as a threat. They take their opposition lightly, maybe get a little cocky. That’s when they get caught and lose everything they worked so hard to achieve.
This brings me neatly along to my Rise of the Runelords campaign.
When Paizo created many of their adventure paths, they balanced them around a group consisting of four players, each using a character created with a 15-point buy system. That may not make much sense to folks, especially old-timers like me who are used to the 3d6 method of rolling out stats, but that’s okay. Just know it’s more of a baseline method of determining character ability scores.
My players are not baseline. They created their characters using a 20-point buy system, and there are 5-6 players at a time. As you might think, they tend to steamroll many of the combat encounters, especially now that they have a level or several under their belts. I try to adjust the situation to account for this, but for the most part, the party has not been threatened in a long time.
Like the now-former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, the Saviors of Sandpoint did not heed the warnings. They brutalized everyone in their path and chose to take risks without taking into account the possible ramifications of those decisions. But at the end of this session, the players – much like Amanda Nunes – had received a violent reality check.
Read how it went down in Rise of the Runelords Episode 33 – Home Invasion!
In our latest Rise of the Runelords session, the Saviors of Sandpoint proved to be saviors to animals as well as people when they rescued a firepelt cougar that had been caught in a nasty trap. Of course, the person who set the trap didn’t appreciate the whole “catch-and-release” philosophy and voiced their displeasure quite physically. But things go from bad to worse when they discover what else – or who else – the hunter has been hunting.
See how the nightmare continues to unfold in Rise of the Runelords Episode 32 – Farm of Blood!
This session was a little different than our usual campaign episodes. It didn’t involve the main roster (for the most part.) No, this session was a chance to let the players scratch that itch and play their backup character. Anyone who has played tabletop RPGs knows that when you make a character, they’re just numbers on a page until you take them out for a spin. When they interact with the environment – and other players – they go from being a concept to an actual character. Personalities begin to develop.
That’s what I wanted for these characters. Give them some dice time, and let them interact with the World. See if what worked on paper translated to the actual game. This session was a one-shot to get the group (affectionately known as the B-Team) a bit of experience so that these backup characters could be called up to the main roster with a bit of dice-time to them.
How did the session go? Well, good for some. For others, not so much. Read for yourself in Rise of the Runelords Episode 29 – The Golemworks Incident!
Rise of the Runelords – Episode Twenty-Seven
Having survived an ambush at the Magnimar townhouse of Aldern Foxglove, the Saviors of Sandpoint obtained evidence suggesting Aldern’s involvement with the mysterious group known as the Brothers of the Seven. They also recovered the deed to Foxglove Manor, which verified not only Aldern’s connection to the Brothers of the Seven, but that he was making payments to them at a place cleverly called the Seven’s Sawmill.
Would the sawmill bring the heroes one step closer to stopping the ritual murders from continuing in both Sandpoint and Magnimar? Would they discover the identity of the mysterious Xanesha, Mistress of the Seven?
Find out in Episode Twenty-Seven of Rise of the Runelords – The Seven’s Sawmill!