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Great story going in Ptolus


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Many years ago I bought Ptolus and my group really wasn't into it.  The DnD version just didn't strike them as they couldn't do "what they wanted" with the classes, spells and story etc.  My group is really about having the mechanics support the roleplaying they do.  So I started a new campaign and decided Ptolus Fantasy Hero Version would be the meal.  

 

They are so in love with it and have really went crazy with Hero and Ptolus.  One is a rogueish type with decent skills and got his first follower.  He runs atop the rooftops and is a half-elf who only needs to sleep 3 hours a day.  He is super active and came from the Warrens (a slum type district). 

 

The next player chose a Necromancer type player who was using Vampiric Touch (heal by draining body).  He learned later that he was gaining corruption from doing this and decided to find religion.  We created something called the Sisters of Mercy where the third sister was the sister of retribution and justice.  He has been able to heal the corruption by doing good deeds for the church and gives me another plot hook.

 

The last player is a face man who is a gambler who took 25 points of luck.  He likes to flip a coin and decide what to do, great fun.

 

Thank you to the forums for the ideas about the story.  I used many and they are working for a Demon named Deimos, they haven't put it all together yet.  They have been collecting items for him to make a huge summons and after about 20 sessions are now starting to see the light. 

 

Three of the four in my group have been gaming together for 40 years the other about 20.  I think the combination of this system and our experience have made this one of the best campaigns we have ever played.  We are all dreaming about it and really really roleplaying.  One of the guys really was a min/maxer and that was all he cared about, but now he is really doing some cool things.

 

We are using the hard recovery where they only get recovery of body every two weeks.  It makes the game grittier and they don't charge into many combats.  Also the Prescence mechanic and social combat have been unbelievably well received.  Can't say enough about how much we are loving this game.  We all looked at each other the other night and said, "I wish we had started playing this game years ago"!

 

Thanks again.  If you interested in more I can post more info.  If you looking for a great City to adventure in for Hero, Ptolus is the way!

 

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Ptolus is a huge city built upon many cities that were destroyed in the past.  Thus it has dungeons if that is what the players want and huge underground network.  The City is hugely detailed with districts, organizations, history and religion.  Of course you don't have to use any of this, but having it when you need it helps.  They also have a lifestyle to the districts on what the people eat, entertainment and such.  There are at least a 1000 businesses detailed with personality for the NPC's as well.  When it came out in 2006 it was so big they had to load much of it on CD-ROM!  It is over 700 pages with the maps and two extra adventures from the PDF!

 

It was a setting for all the game designers to play in and does have a high fantasy feel, but it is easy to push that aside if that isn't your speed.  I would recommend anyone buy the pdf just for reference.  The city is really cosmopolitan in that they like adventurers and actually have a Delver's Guild that explores the ruins below the city.  There are orcs, bugbears, ogres and even demons that walk amongst others in the city.  The people are not so freaked out by the occasional magic casting, but one still needs to be careful.    

 

More on my campaign, the players have purchased a mortuary so the Necromancer has easy access to bodies.  Also this is in the Warrens and slum-like area where there hasn't been anyone to get rid of bodies for a while.  The city has negotiated a contract to take bodies so they are using bureaucratics a lot and negotiations.  Now they are planning on becoming a gang in the Warrens as there are twelve other small disorganized gangs they need to quell or be run over.  Soon the Necromancer will be able to create a Vampire so that will add another element to the game.

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Had a couple of sessions which were great fun.  The Necromancer was working late at the mortuary with his contact and got captured by his ex-wife's dad.  His ex father-in-law is one of his complications and gave him over to a demon cult.  They need people with magic to extract it to help in a ritual.  The other two went to see him and his mother said he never came home.  It's funny because the Necromancer lives with his Dependant NPC mother and she is always asking about him and makes him come home at night.

 

So the other two search the city and using their streetwise skills find out that he was seen being pummeled and thrown in a bag.  A critical roll showed them the way to the place.  They then discovered where eight buildings were larger and formed a pentagram above ground so they went scurrying under.  They fought off a few minions and lesser people and had a nice fight with a mutated rival of one party member.  One of the party members is in the actors guild and is slowly working his way into the Nobles District to move uptown.  He is also a gambler with 5d6 luck and this has helped and hurt in many situations.

 

A question how do you handle the killing of a players complication, I don't think it is a big deal, but do you just roleplay another for him and write him into the story?

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Another couple of good night's in Ptolus.  My players picked up a basic job.  I spice merchant they worked for before named Burt hired them to find out who is underselling him in the trade and get the product for him.  Usually my group does their investigation, surveillance and is pretty cautious.  For whatever reason they ran right in and didn't do anything.  They detected some magic around candles the people they were searching for and decided they wanted nothing to do with them.  

 

They never asked the next question and assumed that they were evil.  The sent a letter to the Knight of Pale and the Conciliators.  They then received some bad dreams and a vision, but they ignored it.  Well the Knights of Pale do what they do and killed two of the merchants and captured the other one.  What they found out later was that the candles were for good voodoo magic as a recent surge of refugees was bringing disease into the city and Aizylin the loa of marketplaces wanted this healed.  

 

This led to some great aha moments and some back tracking a requests of forgiveness.  They found a juju zombie head and he told them what was needed.  They did a great job impersonating a Lothian High Messiah and releasing the prisoner and returning the bodies to a withdoctor.  Great night tomorrow as a player is summoning his first vampire!!!

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Sounds like you have a good game going. One thing I highly recommend is asking the players to write campaign journals after each session, telling the story from their point of view.

 

We started doing this a long time ago, and it's great fun when several participate and you see events from their perspectives.

 

It doesn't matter if the facts are slightly off in a player's account of the story.

 

I normally gave a point or two of bonus experience if they wrote journals as a reward and incentive.

 

We posted them in an online forum or emailed them to everyone so they could all enjoy them.

 

Just something to consider. (and thanks for sharing your campaign updates)

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Another session in Ptolus and some fun stuff.  The Necromancer was able to summon his Vampire Scarlett with much fanfare.  This was a long term goal which he finally succeeded at.  The party reveled in this for a few days and ran around at night unhindered for the first time.  The face man and gambler got a hook when he was shooting dice from someone.  A group of Delvers had found something deep under the city.  They tried selling it at the Undercity Market (a less then scrupulous place for black-market items) and were unable to find a buyer.

 

The information was gathered on a critical roll so I gave them the Midtown location where the item and Delvers were located.  They surveilled the place and found that they had at least one mage and decided to hang back and watch the place a little longer.  Another player the 1/2 Elf Rogue rolled a critical surveillance and the gambler found some luck (5d6 luck) when he rolled.  As they were watching the place the Balcazar Crime Family sent in eight thugs to steal what they had brought up from under the city.  There was a huge fight that the players watched and then they swooped in killing the injured and securing the chest.

 

They then had to hang out in a hideout before they could move the item to a safe place.  The Necromancer detected magic and they decided to go to the Necro's contact and ask him.  Fortunately they didn't bring the chest with the item in it.  The Necromancer's contact wanted 25% to open, but they were to cheap and once again they were fortunate to not take the deal. 

 

The following day they hid out in one of the Rogue's hideouts in Midtown and noticed someone was searching the area.  They moved the chest to the Warrens at night with the help of the recently summoned Vampire.  By this time the Crime Family was wrecking shanties as mages were desperately searching for the chest.  Again they were smart and put it deep under the mortuary they had purchased in the Warrens.

 

They hired a professional to unlock the chest and found an arm to a statue.  The Rogue remembered a dark demonic statue in the Necromancer's contact's place that didn't have an arm.  His contact was afraid of the statue as it was demonic.  So they did the right thing and dumped the chest and arm deep in the ocean.  

 

Very fun night and they were afraid the whole night, they were worried about the Vampire's bloodlust, the Crime Family and the Delvers. 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well the group didn’t want to be a hero and allowed the chaos cults of Ptolus to summon the Night of Disolution.  What this amounted to is bringing various demons into the fight.

 

A little back drop was a barbarian horde was part of a prophecy and this has been going on for 15 sessions.  The players then seen the armies take to the walls.  I have them a chance to interrupt one of the rituals but they ran away and hid in a mortuary of theirs for 8 days.

 

After their Vampire gave the all clear they went out and viewed the wreckage!  Half of the city is gone and so is 60% of the population.  There are fires everywhere, ghouls on most streets, demons flying about and a Necromancer has raised a skeletal army in Necropolis.

 

Also their vampire died due to feasting on infected blood (and an 18 attack roll)which has them even more scared.  They are now trying to figure out who they are going to align with.  They have a mistrust of the city government and really have a quandary.  Disease is going to come knocking and they only have three weeks worth of food and water.  Flies and cultists are there big worry and the ghouls

 

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It was a perfect role playing moment!  The party was hiding out in their mortuary basement.  There are 6 coffins tied to a ritual called the covenant of blood that they haven’t figured out.  
 

There is also an opening to the ocean.  Well part of the covenant is if they fill the coffins with vampires they can summon the sahuagin to aid them.  But since they haven’t figured this out the sahuagin come to check on this periodically.  When they came up they attacked them.  The vampire did as well and then lost control due to bloodlust after feasting on one.  She turned to attack a player and I rolled an 18, so I had her crumble to dust.  But one player took it and ran saying she died from infected blood.  This ties perfectly with the covenant and may cause them to investigate further.  I am adding that vampires cannot hurt sahuagin in that room due to the prophecy.

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The party had to decide which faction they were going to align with to try and figure a way out of this.  After seeing the lay of the land, there were the barbarians who held the docks, the Crimson Circle in the middle, three demon cults to the NW a Necromancer to the North and a force who worships the Sun God Tharzane to the due west.  The city was a miasma of dead animals, people and life in general.  Smoke, flies and carrion birds abounded.  They approached this encampment and with a little luck (one player has 5d6 luck) they were allowed in and asked to help.  They all decided to do some hero stuff and helped capture one of the more learned cultists.  He explained that there was a ritual they were planning.

 

The party then went back and forth on just getting out of the city, but remembered the barbarians were outside.  They then went and conversed with the said barbarians.  They wanted to know why they attacked the city in such force when they had to march for 6 months to get to the city.  Well they found out the Crimson Circle cult had captured their king and they were fighting for him.  So they went back to the Sun God people and told them what they found out.  One of their priests informed them of a prophecy that if a king was sacrificed then the Ghul can return and fulfill his evilness.  

 

So now they are going to be heroes and interrupt the ritual and help save the city.

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