Zhilin Campaign Journal #1: It Begins…

Sometimes the stars align properly and opportunities appear. Such is the case with a new campaign we just started last night with a new group. We’ll be playing Mazes & Perils and exploring the unexplored territory of the City-States to the West in the World of the Lost Age. This new series of articles will document the process, detailing our adventures with M&P in some detail. I’m especially interested in detailing some of the table rulings because though I love M&P, I never run games quite as written.

My goal at the table is always to focus on having fun, involving everyone in the story, and rules takes a distant third. Rules lawyer I’m not. And I will usually rule in the favor of expediency and logic more than the letter of the law in the book. So we’ll see how that goes.

The Group

This new group has a fun consistency:

  • Kevin – My best friend from college who I’ve known for nearly 30 years and gamed with just about as long.
  • Robert – A friend from CrossFit, fellow geek, and gamer I’ve been playing some 5e D&D with here and there with our four kids.
  • Jonathan – Another friend from CrossFit, fellow geek, and hardcore console gamer of many years. He’s new to the world of tabletop RPGs.
  • Isaac – Yet another friend from CrossFit, fellow geek, and console gamer. Also new to the world of tabletop RPGs.
  • Jason – A friend of Robert’s we just met last night but who played D&D and other games with Robert back in the day.

So we have some experienced gamers and some new to tabletop role-playing. We’re all in our 30s to 40s and big geeks. And I knew from the time the banter began in our chats on Facebook that we would be just fine once we got to the table.

That said, when the idea for this group came up, scheduling was the big challenge. Everybody is all over the place in terms of availability, so we struggled a bit to get a date that worked for everybody. We have folks with kids, multiple jobs, and long commutes. But we finally made it work! Huzzah!

The Setting

I’ve talked a little bit about the City-States before, talking about them in the context of the adventures of Sir Garret Thom, a Holy Knight of renown. In this campaign, we’ll be exploring them a bit before Sir Thom’s time and I’m thinking he and his band of recruits may in fact appear at some point in the story. That will be the first “icon” to show up in this setting, but I’m hoping that others will form and take control of bits of the story before too long.

The idea is that this group of heroes has been recruited to work as guards in the Zhilin City Guard (the ZCG) to keep the peace in the city of Kalon, the Gamesman. Think of this place a bit like the Las Vegas of the Lost World, where any vice can be had for a price.

There are three quarters to the city:

  • The East Quarter – A place for those working in the city for the tourist trade to make their homes and have their own lives. Quite a bit of shared housing, many taverns, a few shops, and an inn or two.
  • The West Quarter – A place for the high-end tourist shops and merchants of all types.
  • The North Quarter – The place for all the games.

You’ll notice there are only three quarters, which begs the question… Where’s the fourth quarter? It turns out that the fourth quarter may in fact be beneath the city in a place simply known as “Neath.” If the East Quarter is a place where the workers hang out, Neath is where the seedy underbelly lies. And sewage isn’t the only rank thing slowly traveling beneath the city…

Our new guards are given a bunk, a uniform, and the promise of 5 gold every 5 days if they survive.

The Characters

Again, we have an interesting combination of folks. I threw together a group of 10 pre-rolled characters for the players to choose from. Fighting Men. Clerics. Magic-Users. Thieves. Holy Knights. And even a Shaman.

The players chose:

  • Bartholomew Fatima – A human Cleric with an eye patch who is “On a mission from God.”
  • Solo – A human Holy Knight with a past, banished from his old guard and seeking tools for revenge.
  • Dagara – A human Shaman seeking to explore more of the world.
  • Tyrion – A halfling Thief of mystery.
  • Hansel – A dwarvish Fighting Man seeking fame and notoriety.

To round out the group, I added:

  • Avil – A mousy little human Magic-User who is following the team around town and barely spoken a word.

This squad of guards reports to Captain Sige, a weathered veteran on the guard who has low expectations for the new group of recruits. He hopes they’ll prove him wrong.

Next up… We’ll talk about some of the table rules I added, the first session, and how the team’s first assignment went!

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