A couple of weeks back I started running an open Pathfinder game up at the FLGS in my area. (Shout-out: Pulp Fiction) I decided on Eberron because I really like the setting and the way that it can be used to run almost anything on the “Pulp-Noir” spectrum. It has a place for gritty back alley dealings between shady agents of the crown trying to get an informant to talk while at the same time supporting ship raiding sky pirates made of wood, metal & stone and nomadic halflings protecting their lands from the monsters that creep out of the mists and doing it from the back of a razor-clawed dinosaur.
I tend toward enjoying the Pulp end of the spectrum when both playing and running games, so it should come as no surprise that I decided to take the “Exclamation Point!” end of the pulp spectrum. I started everyone off at second level as far as char-gen goes (mostly because I have the fragility of first level and it would let the players begin the game multi-classed if they so desired), and I’m experimenting with a couple of house rules to add to the over the top “Action!” vibe I’m going for.
Oh ya, and I started the first session in medias res on top of a speeding lightning rail engine as bandits try to commandeer the train for their own greed-fueled desires.
(Above is the cleen shot of the lightning rail map and then an overhead view of the fight in progress and an attempt at a more dynamic shot.)
The PCs all work for Uncle Zader’s Antiquities and Curios, one of many antique and junk stores in the market districts of Sharn. They were escorting a package back to the city when the lightning rail was boarded and their charge was grabbed in the chaos. Naturally they responded the way any upstanding citizen would, by following them to the roof of the train and demanding their stuff back.
A few clever maneuvers got most of the party to the front of the engine to confront the ringleader of the brigands. A few rounds of exciting combat later (One of the house rules in effect is “The better you describe it, the more I’m likely to let you get away with”) and their possessions were back in hand.
News travels quickly, and in Sharn a good scoop can make or break a journalists reputation, so it was no surprise that while the party were busy receiving praise and minor monetary compensation word reached a reporter with the Sharn Inquisitive about their heroic deeds. After a brief and modest statement to the press they bring the package to Uncle Zader, a small, old gnome who knows his antiques and curiosities. He reveals that the package contains vital clues to a possible treasure trove from the War of the Mark and that they next day they would be descending into the Depths of Sharn to find the Tomb of the Lady of Plagues, but first, they would have to find the most likely entrance.
(Above are Kat, an image of the back alley brawl, and Kevin & Matt)
While searching the slums for clues to the entrance to the particular piece of Under-Sharn they were trying to find they were confronted by a couple of Dask thugs demanding money. A brief fight later they discover that the tavern they’re behind happens to be the entrance they seek. Bribing the barkeep with more money than he would have demanded if consulted about the matter got them into the basement and then into the Depths of Sharn.
(The graph paper layout of the depths and the ruined manor in which the tomb rested)
Only the natural hazards of the only-slightly collapsing chamber and a few unfortunate goblins stood between the characters and their ultimate goal. Things didn’t go too well once inside the ruined manor, for the adventurers had failed to bring many things that could affect the centipede swarm that erupted from the sarcophagus, but no form of insect could trouble these daring do-ers for very long! Within the great stone box they discovered a strange talisman around the lady’s neck. The session ended with them deciding to take it to Uncle for identification.