Until the Fearless Come at Grogmeetish 2020

Grogmeetish 2020 was the Grognard Files podcast’s virtual convention which was held online this Saturday just gone. Normally it is held in Manchester at Fanboy Three.  Upfront I’d like to thank Chris Hart (aka Dirk the Dice) for organising the event.

Due to family commitments, I could only put forward one game, so I decided to run the final part of my Swords and Sorcery/Barbarian bloodfest set in the frozen Savage North, Until the Fearless Come. Previous adventures also played out online, have told the tale of the downfall of Mad King Morgus the Drooler, and the succession of his wife Queen Haldra to the throne of Sonderland. In this, the last part of the trilogy, entitled Rites of Passage, that will be published in upcoming Saga of the Savage North setting and adventure book next year, Queen Haldra has received word that her ex-husband has fled across the frozen sea to the Kingdom of Foundhaven. Seeking to end disputes to her rule, she summons the player characters, a motley crew of Barbarian Warriors, to her court and gives them the task of bringing Morgus home, dead or alive.

The characters have to travel to Foundhaven across the icy Dragon Sea from Sonderland, so the first part is messing about in a big longship. Foundhaven is a land of people who fled their old monster-infested homeland hundreds of years ago, settled in a new wildland and lived in dread of the monsters catching up with them.  Without giving much away their doom has caught up with them and the player characters quickly get involved in a monster hunt shortly after stepping off the boat.

Until the Fearless Comes continues a couple of themes that previous adventures have kept to.

  1. It’s the Journey, not the Dungeon that is interesting.
  2. The movers and shakers are present and given stats.
  3. It used the One-Magic system.

Okay, let’s go into each point in more detail.

1 While there are mini-dungeons or dungeon-like environment, they are quick three or four encounter location affairs. I’ve no interest of making Savage North sinister sorcerers, crafty rogues or mighty thewed barbarians, crawl along corridors and deal with minor encounters that are beneath them. Instead, they are travelling the length and breadth of the land going to the interesting places that I’ve previously only mentioned in the setting’s gazetteer, meeting interesting people. Talking of which…

2. I’ve long been bothered by the trend in D100 books where there the big power players of the setting are described in a pen picture, but given no stats. I get it. There’s an expectation that the players will never go toe to toe with such characters and that it’s a lot of work detailing such high-level characters in game terms. So why bother. OpenQuest being more straightforward has less of a stat block (or profile as I’m calling it), and the Savage North is full of tales where some King or powerful hero met their demise at the hands of a wandering warrior. Swords and Sorcery literature is full of examples where the main protagonist comes up against the movers and shakers of the setting.

3. The One Magic system, which will appear in the OpenQuest Companion, was used for the previous games and worked wonderfully as a quick, no-nonsense magic system that new players, as well as seasoned players, can pick up and run with. It also works well with larger-than life world of Swords and Sorcery.

The game was Mega Gaming Fun, with OpenQuest’s fast-moving straightforward system supporting the fast-paced free-wheeling Barbarian action. Monsters were discovered and slain, and vengeance was had, but whether the Queendom was saved is questionable (and outside the confines of a 3 1/2 hour convention scenario).

Art by Jonny Gray

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