New on Desk #78 — The Fell Daystar

The weather’s been quite hot this week. Difficult to sleep or work. Let’s see how sparse I can make the newsletter.

The life of a daylight zombie

The peculiar phenomenon of swelter undeath occurs when a man made for the wintery climes gets trapped in the constant and unnatural summer weather. With the humidity and heat hampering sleep and toil, day and night, a slow transformation takes place. As time distends and stretches ever thinner in the land of the midnight sun (NB: the author is referring to the pestilent habit of the Finnish version of the sun not going down for weeks upon weeks during the summer), any kind of progress slows to a crawl. Going out braves heatstroke and staying in is a good first step to a broiling event. Doing translacanse (like transhumance, but moving to live in a lake, and involving less sheep) seems like a good idea at first, but then you notice that running a computer workstation down there is very difficult, so you gotta come out sometime to write the newsletter.

If the undeath simile for the subjective experience of summer doesn’t feel fitting, I’ve got another one as well, so let’s try that for size. (The wordsmithing hobby has clearly gotten to me, if my reaction to being slowly fried alive is writing Wildean witticism.)

“Baetic Depression” is my new name for the eternal siesta engendered by the climate disorder that is summer. It’s named for a river valley in Andalusia, because this weather feels like I got sun in my eye and turned left at the wrong intersection, and am now somehow perishing of heastroke in Spain (where many Finns go to die nowadays, I hear). Also, because running two weeks of near-zero productivity is starting to depress me. So yeah, Baetic Depression.

I could continue complaining about all the gardening that the summer sun is causing, the travails of fixing a greenhouse, and other such middle-class lifestyle problems, but you probably get the idea here. Just today I spent the whole day juicing and syrup-ying some tree parts that apparently don’t even have a name in English. (Young growth tips of the spruce.) Let’s move on to less humdrum topics.

Monday: Coup de Main #51

The Barbican Adventures is a campaign arc where a bunch of footloose adventures have settled in the Castle Greyhawk gate fort, going out daily to delve in the dungeons underneath the castle. The safe headquarters close to the action makes going on adventure easy, but the expansive corridors of little architectural sense underneath the Castle have so far confounded our heroes insofar as finding treasure goes. Mostly they just keep finding salted cod, wine and other general supplies that certainly go a long way towards sustaining the party at the Castle. It is almost as if the Castle wants them to remain… as the bandits of the Barbican!

This time the party, after some perfunctory exploration, encountered a third patrol of the Old Guard Kobolds. The adventurers have so far wiped them all out, and this was in fact a newly gathered patrol regiment; captain Burgun, the preternaturally inspired fascist chief-prophet of the tribe, had insisted on keeping up the patrols despite the adventurers having wasted two patrols already. Unknown to the players, this third patrol force meeting the same result so soon would surely lead to a coup among the kobolds.

Predictably the adventurers won against the kobolds again (the adventurers are simply too tough for them!), and this time they decided to follow the little scritches and scratches of their clawed feet back to their nest. (A lifehack: get a Ranger, they’re surprisingly useful in a dungeon.) There the Barbican Bandits finally went face to face with the remainder of the kobold power, as the kobolds happened to conveniently be organizing themselves, with everybody present from captain Burgun to the lowliest female.

The fight against the kobolds would have been easy again if not for captain Burgun himself, alongside his pet boar Nugsy, having secreted themselves in a dead angle that allowed them to flank the party and cause them a bit of consternation. The real danger in the situation, though, was truly caused by Sven the Isekai Protagonist, the heroic 3rd level Barbarian wielding an Axe of Hell. As one could surmise from the name, the axe sent Sven into a black rage that caused him to attack friend and foe, and with foes conveniently having ran out, Sven turned his axe towards allies.

The situation could have gotten bloody if not for Stone Battlecreek, a brave half-orc whom the party had released from captivity earlier; Stone boldly (and stupidly) took the axe to the chest, but amazingly survived the fell stroke, leaving an opening for the party to wrestle Sven down and whatnot.

Right as the session ended, I took the opportunity to roll a random encounter check in case the fight should attract anything, and wouldn’t you know it; a competing adventuring party had discovered the Barbican Bandits. I assume we’ll start the next session by figuring out what Factor Kimchell and his merry mercenaries want!

Session #52 is scheduled for tomorrow, Monday 28.6., starting around 15:00 UTC. Feel free to stop by if you’re interested in trying the game out or simply seeing what it’s like.

Tuesday: Coup in Sunndi #28

We’ve officially started playing the Tournament of Fear scenario here. Because there is an unusual amount of interest in the adventure from outside audiences (no doubt because I basically had Teemu and the rest of the gang write up all the particulars of the adventure for me), I’ll go into a bit more detail about the events than usual. A long-winded actual play report follows:

The Tournament of Fear started with the highly traditional first time ever Ghoul Run, a sporting event intended to winnow down the number of participants in the actual fighting tournament. The contestants had all prepared well for the competition, but nobody knew in advance what the “ghoul run” would be like. What’s worst, the PCs were so focused on preparing for the tournament that they plump forgot to shit in the well: their advance planning had concluded that the only real way for them to sabotage the other contestants in advance would be to sneak into the olympic village set up in Cave Pamplona (more on that below) and poison the well the best they could. Oh well.

On the morning of the tournament, when the audiences were still only waking up at their accomodations, the contestants convened at the great Tournament Arena, renovated and extended from the old Otyugh Fighting Arena situated in the semi-abandoned cavern of Cave Pamplona. Said expansive underground cave gets its name from the old underground-Spaniard (black elf) medieval town constructed therein long ago. It’s a charming little place, white stucco buildings with large mushrooms growing on the roofs. The Arena is at the edge of the town, built higher up the slope of the cavern and thus ruling over the town proper.

(Yes, Pamplona is indeed a town in northern Spain. It’s mostly known for its famous annual animal-pestering event, the Running of the Bulls. Medieval Pamplona has a nice map appropriate for running-related hijinks. In case you were wondering.)

At the Arena we learned that the contest organizer, Sinister Thaal, wanted the contestants to make their way to the Pamplona well (the one the PCs were supposed to poison) to participate in the Ghoul Run. On the way there the participants who didn’t have the foresight to spy on the tournament arrangements (thus learning about the particulars of Ghoul Run) at least had a little bit a chance to look around Cave Pamplona; this would be useful later. The twisty road going through town took the contestants all the way to the southern edge of the town, near two miles from the Arena.

At the conveniently named Well Plaza the contestants convened and were met by Sinister Thaal. Here, without an audience, he thanked the contestants for participating in the tournament, and explained the rules. Or rather, let his “chief proctor”, Hemlock the Ghoul, do that. We finally learned what the Ghoul Run was about.

The rules of the Ghoul Run are simple: the participants would leave the Well Plaza and then race to reach the Arena, there to register for the actual tournament. There were 32 tournament spots, distributed on a first come, first served basis. There were no other rules besides respecting the authority of Thaal, the tournament chief judge. To increase the challenge and make it worthy of the Tournament of Fear, so Hemlock said, the ghouls of the Grandicombs had accepted the honorable duty of skulking through Cave Pamplona, conveniently evacuated for the morning’s exercises, with the veritable intent of paralyzing (and possibly eating?) any contestants too slow and stupid to survive. Even has Hemlock was speaking, the ghouls were entering the town, surrounding the contestants.

The above was fairly accurately how Hemlock’s speech started, by the way. It was the first test of the Ghoul Run, a test of social propriety, obedience and initiative: a clever chicken might decide at some point during Hemlock’s speech that they’d heard enough, starting to move, because ghouls are coming. So of course nobody did. The NPC contingent in general were slow to move, being held in place by the social convention of listening to the rules explanation, and the PCs were likewise. Even Thaal himself sort of disappearing somewhere didn’t distract from Hemlock’s droning.

The one exception was of course the Order of Fear tournament platoon, the 15 participants of the tournament originating in Thaal’s own organization. These guys were clearly smarter than the rest and somehow understood to not waste time listening to Hemlock. (Clearly Thaal trains them well.) The PCs were slow to notice them leaving, though. Some of the cleverer NPCs did, so ever so slowly the crowd started thinning even as Hemlock did his best to keep attentions on himself. The longer the contestants lingered, the easier time the ghouls would have, after all.

The PCs, as well as most of the other contestants, spent the first Turn of the Ghoul Run listening to the rules explanation. One or two of them fortunately realized the spirit of the game (WIS check) before too long (mainly due to noticing that some contestants were slipping away, and that Thaal himself had disappeared somewhere), and soon warned their comrades as well. There were a few independent PCs participating in the tournament, but most of them were members of one of two faction teams, either Manta’s Pirates or Grodd’s Gym; the PCs being PCs, they of course got along pretty well, and while they hadn’t agreed to it in advance, they immediately decided to work together after hearing the rules of the Ghoul Run. After all, Hemlock quite explicitly said (in his over-long rules explanation) that yes, allying with other contestants for the Ghoul Run was perfectly fine. Please also listen to me explain all the other interesting things that the rules allow. Perhaps stay for tea.

At this point the players positively surprised me by having a fairly cogent plan for how to proceed: their Witch cast Sleep over a random section of the contestant crowd, causing panicked disruption, after which the Manta+Grodd combined team (~10 people, PCs and NPCs) ran into one of the houses surrounding the Well Plaza. Their plan was to find their way to the roof and then navigate over the roofs of the town towards the Arena, deterring pursuit. Pretty cogent.

The spell dropped a handful of random contestants (among them Zak the Wild, one of the top favourites to win the whole tournament), caused the rest of to get a move on, and allowed Team PC to get out of sight while the rest of the contestants were left fighting among each other while the ghouls moved ever closer. The couple of independent PCs went their own way, which meant that we got to do a bit of round-robin during the Run, following each in turn to see how they did in the event.

I guess I’ll just summarize how the various PC actors did in the Run:

First, the independent adventurer Roy was one of those who realized that they needed to get a move on around the same time that Team PC did, so he was already planning his move out when the Sleep spell hit. Wasting no time, he ran after Team Fear (Thaal’s own crew of little fascists-in-training), whom he’d noticed slipping out moments before. Roy reached Team Fear a couple of blocks away from the Well Plaza, and got to witness how the ghouls had already managed to set up a blockade over the main road leading towards the Arena. However, when Team Fear approached the blockade, for some reason the ghouls opened up their hastily built wallation and allowed Team Fear to slip past without resistance. Most curious!

(For the handicapped — you’d be surprised how inattentive PCs in particular can be — the Order of Fear cheats in their own tournament to ensure their own success. Shocking behavior from a Lawful Evil organization, I know.)

Roy attempted to sneak by the entire situation at the barricade (not past the barricade, just across the road to follow a different route through town), but attracted notice and had a couple of ghouls run after him. A very motivated running of the ghouls ensued, with Roy panicking and leading a merry chase to the opposite direction from the Arena. Unwilling to let the ghouls touch him despite their heart-felt pleas, Roy managed to outrun them until some other contestants crossing the path attracted their attentions. Solid running!

Roy had, however, lost most of his hit points to exhaustion by the time the ghouls left him alone. Roy was pretty familiar with Cave Pamplona, for as an outsider to the Temple of Doom he’d been living at the town in preparation for the tournament over the last few weeks. By now he was so far from the Arena that he might as well pick a roundabout route skirting the edges of the town, which allowed Roy to avoid the ghoul activity altogether; the ghouls were busy hunting less fleet contestants in the central parts of the town, so Roy could simply walk to the Arena as fast as his stamina allowed.

Meanwhile, Slave Paladin John Hawkwood was utterly fucked in a way reminiscent of an adventure story protagonist: he’d been brought to participate in the tournament by his troll owners, and while he had extorted a promise of freedom should he win the tournament, John knew that losing in a way that’d lose money to his gambling-addicted owners would be likely to see him sold on the Goblin Market to some fate surely worse than death.

(In case you’re wondering, John’s a 3rd level paladin from a prior campaign we played in ’18 or so. One of several cross-dimensional victims of Oerth’s weak astral limits, his troll owners brought him from Fantasy Europe to Flanaess. Thus the complicated backstory situation.)

That wasn’t the part where John’s fucked, no; the actual issue is that we realized that he doesn’t actually know Common, the low Aerdic working language of the Tournament. While John managed to arrive at the Well Plaza for the rules explanation by following other contestants, he had barely a clue of what Hemlock the Ghoul explained to everybody. John didn’t know the premise, nor the rules, nor the goal of the exercise.

(Common, for those interested, is actually somewhat similar to English, which happens to be John’s native tongue. It’s about as far distanced as Dutch, so incomprehensible enough while still having many oddly familiar words. John could maybe learn the language relatively quickly if he survives his first few weeks on Oerth.)

So pretty good chances for John to end up as ghoul-feed. His reaction to the sudden Sleep spell thrown by Team PC was basically to get to cover, which at least kept him out of the worst of the inter-contestant melee, but did nothing for the fundamental problem of his not having a clue about what was going on.

This is when Fate apparently came into play: I modeled the crowd behavior with random rolls, and a highly unlikely set of rolls indicated that another contestant, the NPC John Steele had noticed Hawkwood (yes, both are named John) in the crowd earlier. So as soon as Steele got into his truck and got it going, he wasted no time curving down the side of the plaza to where Hawkwood was hiding, gesturing for him to jump aboard!

Why Steele has a car: I had the ~50 contestants for the Tournament created by the Monday crew of the Coup campaign. Tommi has gotten inspired by the campaign allowing “legitimate” characters from other campaigns to cross-enter the Coup campaign, so he gave me a bunch of his old characters from other rpgs he’s played over the years. (No, I don’t know why he thinks Mage: the Ascension is “legitimate” in this context.) Steele is from some post-apocalyptic Mad Max hellscape, so he has both a car and a pistol. I did foreshadow this to the players in advance, so they knew that one of the NPC contestants drives around Cave Pamplona in a beat-up old pickup truck. I assume he got here the same way other dimensional travelers do, by some unspecified incident of dimensional drifting.

Why Steele wanted to help: This is even more stupid, brace yourself. The Underdark deep trolls who own John Hawkwood wanted to gear him up for the tournament in a fearsome gladiatorial costume, all according to their own Underdark cultural precepts of appropriateness. Anybody familiar with Drow culture can tell you that this could possibly not be anything else than black leather with lots of spikes, so Hawkwood was rather embarrassingly dressed up in a gimp suit with a very shiny, large “gut protector” bronze plate, like a giant coin wrapped over his stomach. Very trollish. Hawkwood managed to at least leave out the weird weapon they wanted him to use, we did a whole procedure about equipping him earlier.

So the reason Steele wanted to help Hawkwood was that he apparently thought that Hawkwood was from his own world! After all, he’s from some Mad Max hellscape, and as we all know, people in those kinds of settings apparently consider bondage gear to be the next best thing to formal wear. Steele probably assumed that he’d get a nice ally from Hawkwood. In an amusing way the fact that they’re both from different flavours of ’80s fantasy world connects them.

(This event had a sub-5% likelihood to occur, and most other ways the situation could have gone seem pretty dim for Hawkwood. Luck or fate…)

Steele of course figured out later that he was mistaken about Hawkwood, but by then the man was in the car and he wasn’t immediately hostile or whatever, so the two started driving around Cave Pamplona, trying to get to the Arena. The road block I mentioned earlier forced them to take the scenic route, but it was all pretty pro forma, really. Not like the ghouls could do much about the car (one jumped on it for genre trope purposes, but was quickly shaken off by Hawkwood), even if they could get ahead of it.

Thirdly, the rest of the PCs were part of Team PC, intent on taking to the roofs and avoiding the ghouls that way. Having succeeded in their initial breakaway, Balboa the party caller led the party into one of the houses. Said house happened to be the temporary offices of Swallow’s Nest, the imaginary cross-continental casino operation that I’m allowing to facilitate gambling efforts related to the Tournament of Fear.

(The casino is imaginary in the same way the entire game world is imaginary, but it’s also a bit ironic in its existence in that strictly realistically speaking an universally accessible casino with real-time in-depth knowledge of the sporting event would be rather unlikely. We literally have ogres in underground caves participating in the gambling here. I’m allowing Swallow’s Nest to operate unrealistically on the condition that it only do so to make it more convenient and fun for us to engage in a gambling-related adventure. As far as I know, the main headquarters of Swallow’s Nest is in Greyhawk City, and if you went digging you’d probably find a an ambiguously diegetic explanation for how the casino can possibly operate like it does.)

So anyway, the party had stumbled on the casino operation that had been doing its thing for a few weeks at the Temple by now, attracting money and spreading excitement about the upcoming Tournament. As Cave Pamplona had been evacuated for the Ghoul Run, the casino staff had taken the valuables away for the day, but a clever player figured to look, and they did find something arguably better: not the master betting records, but the tools used in creating the Ghoul Run betting tickets!

I won’t go into the particulars of the betting subgame involved in the tournament, but the short of it is that the gambler PC figured out that he could fairly reasonably forge some gambling tickets over the Ghoul Run’s results at the office; about 2d6×10 GP worth per Turn, in fact. (The Ghoul Run game was a limited-stakes ticket item, so to make lots of money off it you’d need to forge lots of tickets.) Not bad! The party spent a Turn around the house, finding a ladder up to the roof while the gambler produced some extra leverage. The ghoul run tickets only produce casino credits, but those could be re-played into real money in other games, so useful still.

After that Team PC went into an extended parkour sequence using a portable ladder and some moderate athletics as they navigated the roofs of Cave Pamplona. They fortunately didn’t stumble upon any dangerous mushrooms up there, and the ghouls never figured out to look for them, so the main difficulty was really the relative darkness; the main roads of Cave Pamplona had been illuminated by torches and lanterns for the Tournament, but the roofs were dark, and the contestants didn’t have lights of their own (and didn’t think to free any from the fixtures). One of the PCs even fell two floors while descending to the ground, but managed to survive the 2d6 damage, so all’s well that ends well.

The last obstacle: Yellow Light of Fear

So all the player characters actually got out of Cave Pamplona at their own respective paces, and got to the Arena, where they found that Ghoul Run had one more twist to it: Sinister Thaal himself was standing guard at the gate to the Arena, shining his special Yellow Light, with its peculiar Aura of Fear; to get into the Arena through the gate, contestants would have to brave the merciless Light.

The John & John team arrived well before most contestants, what with the car and all. Their superiority was further cemented by the fact that Hawkwood as a paladin is just disgustingly tailor-made to confront this exact sort of obstacle. We literally spent more time figuring out the three different magical mechanics he could use to defeat the fear effect than we did with actually resolving the situation. It was also very cool how Hawkwood, whom John Steele had saved earlier by picking him up, could now return the favour by extending his Protection from Evil to Steele as well. The two men advanced forthrightly and passed Thaal, who was surprised, even somewhat threatened by the firm gaze of the Paladin as he utterly resisted the Yellow Light. Hawkwood could see in Thaal’s eyes that he would remember the face; a Paladin in the Tournament of Fear is not exactly usual.

Team PC and the independent adventurer Roy actually arrived near-simultaneously, and what little difference there was quickly disappeared as the big joint team got stuck at the gate, congesting it with other contestants who arrived in drips and drabs. The contestants themselves were of course entirely vague on how fast they were compared to others, and how much time they had left, but they did understand that time was of the essence; they would have to get through the gate and into the Arena before others would take their place!

However, this was easier said than done. Party caller Balboa (or I should say Sipi, the player) was firmly committed to the notion of winning the struggle of wills between the mortal man and the eldritch being that is the Yellow Light; he struggled unceasingly, yet fruitlessly, as minutes ticked by. Another PC, E-Ranger, outright broke in the face of the fear aura and wasted an entire Turn fleeing before daring to return to the gate. The entire Manta’s Pirates team stood back and allowed the Gym people to make fools of themselves, observing the proceedings so as to figure out how to get past.

The only PC with a fair amount of success was Lokki the Warlock, who as befit his nature chose to prostrate himself in front of the tyrannic majesty of the Praetor Grandmaster. A truly disgraceful sight he, but as a demon-worshipper and an utterly horrible human being Lokki is under no illusions about his own worth. Allowing the Yellow Light to wash over himself, Lokki was Marked (makes it easier for the Light to affect him later), and lost 10% of his total XP count; only then did the Light know him for its own, allowing him to pass. Thaal smirked at such, always happy to prove the superiority of his Order next to all other factions of the Temple. Feed the Light, why don’t you.

(The players had clearly learned something about submission in the last adventure, the one with Ikari Slaggoth and the spirit quest to Blackguardianship.)

So Lokki got past in one Turn of groveling or so, leaving the rest of the Team PC stumped. Here a lucky WIS check from the NPC pirate contingent was decisive. I could see this kind of event causing suspicions about the GM helping the party to success, but NPCs are a resource, and they can have ideas as well; I use mental ability checks to figure out when the NPCs are being dumb or wise, and this time they got the smartest idea: why are we trying to go through the gate? This is a sports arena, surely there’s some other door you can use to sneak in? We could even just try to climb over the walls, that might well be easier than confronting the Yellow Light.

As Team Pirate was being captained by H.Orc the player character (he’s a half-orc), it was up to the player, but he certainly seized upon the obvious yet brilliant notion, and thus the pirates were soon exploring the surroundings of the Arena to find a different way in. It took them just a couple of minutes to find a side entrance into the rafters, from whence it would be a simple matter to jump down to the sand and run the rest of the way to the proctor’s table. There weren’t even too much audience on the premises yet.

(If this seems like an amazingly simple solution, you try to think outside the box while participating in a high stakes sports tournament. It’s difficult! I know because I was there, witnessing the players failing in exactly that once and again. Both in the initial “realize that the clock is already ticking”, as well as the endcap “realize that you don’t have to confront Thaal head to head” challenges the players themselves didn’t see opportunities before their characters did. I think it’s a fair lesson in creative thinking.)

It was heart-warming to see how cross-faction relations had been established: while the rest of Team Pirate hurried to sign up, H.Orc himself went back to tell the Grodd’s Gym folks about the side entrance. Sheepily the entire Team PC took the side entrance, except for the independent adventurer Roy, who chose to follow in the footsteps of Lokki the Warlock, pledging who knows what darkness of his heart to the Yellow Light as his entrance fee…

Ghoul Run results

We tracked passing time throughout the process, so at this point we had timed all the player character times for the Ghoul Run. It would also have been possible for them to not finish, which happened to some NPC contestants, but as it happened all the PCs survived the event despite the fair amount of danger involved.

I produced Ghoul Run times for NPC contestants with a simple dice-rolling scheme that factored the strengths of the individual contestants into a roll that was then fed into a simple formula to get their final times in minutes. This allowed me to then compare the results the PCs got with the results of the NPC contestant pack, and therefore to find out how the PCs ranked!

The way Thaal has the Tournament of Fear set up, the first tournament round will take 32 contestants who are supposedly the 32 fastest Ghoul Runners, barring any who give up at this stage and are thus replaced by runners-up. The scheme is further complicated by the Right of Challenge, a rule that basically allows you to fight another tournament participant for the right to take their place in the tournament. (Yes, this is insane. I know.) I expect hijinks, but let’s look at the initial placements first.

#ContestantFactionRun TimeNotes
1Eccentrix the DragonIndependent10 min.Flied straight over. No contest.
2MeinhardOrder of Fear31Astoundingly quick, Team Fear all arrived in a group.
3Noble TeloniusOrder of Fear32Three of them had been lost on the way for unknown reasons.
4ObertOrder of Fear33
5PandurOrder of Fear34
6Shankaracharya JayavantOrder of Fear35
7TurakOrder of Fear36
8EtukhanOrder of Fear37
9PravosOrder of Fear38
10RaghuOrder of Fear39
11ShahoonOrder of Fear40
12ShanaOrder of Fear41
13SulmanOrder of Fear42
14John HawkwoodIndependent47Got a lift from Steele.
15John SteeleIndependent48Got a car.
16BlackhookIndependent50Lucky, and had spunk.
17DadirIndependent54
18ArushChurch of Wastri57The famous Yuddak Warrior; fought his way through grimly and alone.
19Ssshtak the SalamanderIndependent63
20MediSavage64
21LyraIndependent65
22JeremiasIndependent67
23KiezaIndependent68
24Pekka Independent69
25Zahr-EirIndependent70
26Lokki the WarlockGrodd’s Gym71With Team PC, groveled to get past Thaal.
27Richardo the ThiefManta’s Pirates75With Team PC, entered through side door.
28Lotar the SkaldManta’s Pirates76
29BrombManta’s Pirates77
30ZarthasanIndependent78
31Zealios the WretchBrainiac (?)79
32Roy the AdventurerIndependent80
33JarqueIndependent81
34MolvarIndependent82
35Rocky BalboaGrodd’s Gym85Team PC.
36Tuhar TatamboGrodd’s Gym86Team PC. Technical team leader.
37E-RangerGrodd’s Gym87Team PC.
38SeelaIndependent88
39GeoffIndependent89
40TUM-R-ELO-3Alpha Complex2 hoursActually arrived at the Arena in 52 minutes (Top 20), but lacked security clearance to pass the Yellow Light, so stuck at the gate until Thaal went away.
41MelvilleIndependent7 hoursSleeped by Lokki. Woke up, escaped ghouls. Only arrives in the middle of the first round of the tournament.
42TonusTemple Guard10 hoursSaved another contestant from the ghouls, hid them. Adventured, fell in love. (100 XP, I guess?) Finally arrives at the end of the day.
ArmanSavageEaten by ghouls. Thaal appropriated the owlbear.
BardelOrder of FearMysteriously eaten by ghouls.
Bitus BitumenOrder of FearMysteriously eaten by ghouls.
Duran-DunIndependentWould’ve made it if not for the -2 for short legs. Paralyzed, recovered later.
GaragTemple GuardSleeped by Lokki. Paralyzed, recovered later.
HardranManta’s PiratesPaperwork lost? Got to the Arena with the rest, never registered.
Jack StoneVirtual AdeptsParalyzed, recovered later.
Juber HarsaFrigidian CultEaten by ghouls. Ghouls catch red death. Consequences?
KesterIndependentParalyzed, recovered later.
KuepIndependentEaten by ghouls, but took one of them with him.
OstrotIndependentNot troubled by ghouls, but decided to step out for some reason?
Small FangSavageAvoided ghouls, accosted by Order of Fear hatchetmen. Escaped alive, but didn’t return to Arena.
VinodiOrder of FearToo honorable for his own good, clearly. Eaten by ghouls.
Zak the WyldSavageSleeped by Lokki. Paralyzed by ghouls before wakening. Recovered later.
ZeileeIndependentParalyzed by ghouls, recovered later.

I’m sure there are errors in the above. If you spot any, I can have the appropriate characters complain to the proctors about it. Also, as discussed during the session, PCs whose players missed the session will be able to do a one-roll Ghoul Run resolution later; on a pass they’ll get into the tournament without a playoff slot, so up to you to take it from there. (The most important missing character that I know of is Lalli, who is basically guaranteed to have passed, the way Thaal is cheating in this.)

Tournament schedule

We actually figured this out early in the session, but I’ll put it here because now it actually starts being important. Here’s how the tournament is intended to go:

TimeEvent
1st DayMorningGhoul Run
Noon1st Tournament round (16 fights)
Eveningrest
NightArena closed
2nd DayMorning2nd Tournament round (8 fights)
Noonrest
Eveningrest
Night3rd Tournament round (4 fights)
3rd DayMorningSemifinals (2 fights)
Noonrest
Eveningrest
NightFinals round

The above structure is theoretical in that Thaal may shuffle things around. The mid-day rests are arranged to count as a Long Rest for game-mechanical purposes, which is important for the healing mechanics. The Temple being underground, people’s sleep schedules are of course whatever.

First Round Pairings

Thaal also drew up the initial tournament scheme, the combatant pairings for the first round. He did it very fairly, of course, based on the Ghoul Run results. The contestants immediately started reshuffling, of course; because the tournament slots are transactionable, individual combatants didn’t waste time selling spots to the more deserving, or even challenging others into honorable duels (appropriately proctored by the staff, of course) to get the slots they wanted. The only real limitation here was that those who failed in the Ghoul Run were irrevocably out of the tournament barring truly extraordinary events.

FightContestantNotes
1.John Steele
Dadir
2.Blackhook
Arush
3.Etukhan
Ssshtak
4.JarqueOriginally Eccentrix the Dragon, but Sir Jarque somehow got the slot.
John Hawkwood
5.Meinhart
Lyra
6.Medi
Jeremias
7.Noble Telonius
Kieza
8.Obert
Pekka
9.Pandur
Zahr Eir
10.Turak
Lokki
11.Pravos
Hardran
12.Raghu
H.OrcOriginally Bromb the Pirate, but H.Orc bought him out.
13.Shahoon
Zarthasan
14.Sulman
Richardo
15.Shankaracharya Jayavant
ZealiosE-Ranger the PC has challenged, and will fight Zealios for this slot.
16.Shana
Roy the AdventurerConsidering selling his spot to Balboa, another PC.

If anything should happen to any of the fighters before their time to fight arrives, their spot would be filled from the Ghoul Run roster in numbered order. I’m sure that it’ll be fine, though.

We’ll presumably continue our sports drama next Tuesday. Gotta print out all the character sheets for these fighters.

State of the Productive Facilities

Ugh. Aside from the general campaign development that goes on with Coup every week, I’ve gotten nothing done in this heat. This is the second week in a row with little going on inside the ol’ cerebral studio. (Well, I suppose we don’t count idle fantasies and fanciful ideas; of those I have a surfeit, as usual. Symptoms of unproductivity, the lot of them.)

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