Barkeep on the Borderlands play report: the Jolly Crew VS. The Raves of Chaos

Sessions 1 & 2

In which the the adventure begins, then halts, then restarts, and then… Well, it gets complicated from there

But first, some background:

We decided to play this adventure using Knave 2e, and we had a very fun time in our session 0 coming up with the characters by rolling randomly both the stats and backgrounds from the module instead of the standard careers.

Meet the Jolly Crew:

  • Gabiru, the lizardfolk diplomat on an uphill peace mission
  • Sir Reginald, the visiting nobleman with loose familial ties to the Regent
  • Grrodon Ramsey, the renowned food critic and close collaborator of the Royal Family in all matters of banquets and enterteinment

Having rolled such highly respectable’ characters, I had to throw away my first idea to start the campaign (which was to have them be regulars of one of the Iron Fens pubs, and friends with one of the bastard offspring of the Monarch, who wanted to find the cure to ingratiate himself and thwart the efforts of the Heir).

The adventure begins

I went instead with a summons at the Royal Wine Cellars from the Heir himself, just a few hours before the official start of the celebrations.

Having all of them entered the city gates just recently, and all of them having an appointment with the Regent for their own reasons, the Heir hoped to find out that one of the Crew members was secretly carrying the cure for the ailing monarch. Alas, no luck there.

The young princeling then promised them riches, and even a signature on the lizardfolk peace treaty (maybe), if they could recover the alchemical elixir, or at least help rounding up the rare ingredients of the healing brew. But everything had to be kept hush hush. We don’t want any trouble with the unruly masses, especially at this times, you see?”

In the cellar they also met an imprisoned giant, that was clearly arrested under false pretenses. It became clear that the reason he was framed was that the Heir wanted to secure the first component of the cure: the toenail of a giant.

While the guards and the prince were distracted with the arduous task of trying to clip the nail off the unconsenting giant, the Crew noticed a couple of servant slinking away from the cellar with a linen covered portrait. Emptying up their cups in an hurry, they decided to follow them.

Day 1, first hour: the unruly road to the Quasi-Parliament

The streets of the Keep were just starting to get busy with celebrants and vendors, so the chase was an easy one. Reginald and Grrodon decided to follow from a distance, and Gabiru to stand a few paces further away since even in the middle of Raves of Chaos a lizardman tends to get noticed. And he was right about that.

An annoying jester started to follow Gabiru, playing bawdy and offensive songs about lizardfolk while circling the vexed but stoic diplomat.

Sir Reginald put a end to the charade with a combination of diplomacy (getting close with a dancing step and a charming smile, offering a shiny coin) and intimidation (a well timed sneaky gut punch and a whispered threat in the ear of the jongleur).

Being now rid of the nuisance, the crew could follow the sly servants to their eventual destination, the Quasi-Parliament Pub.

Day 1, first hour: Censure(d) Motion in the Quasi-Parliament

Having seen the couple of royal flunkeys enter the Quasi-Parliament, Grrodon is the first to enter the scene, ready for action.

The Parliament is in section, with a Reform parliamentarian currently going on and on about the necessity of poverty and its virtues, while almost everyone else is drinking cheap beers at the bar.

Grrodon notices the shady duo they have been following going up to a group of well dressed and bewigged people, and is noticed in return by a large fellow wearing an unsettling featureless iron mask.

He is quick to step away and follow the servants, trying to overhear what’s going on, when Sir Reginald and Gabiru enter the pub.

The masked individual quickly steps in and puts a friendly hand on Gabiru’s shoulder. You must be the noble emissary from our beliguered brethen in the swamps! It’s an honor to have you here!”, and then, loudly to the whole assembly: Hear hear! We have an honorable guest speaker for tonight! He will discuss the evils of this terrible war, and the way forward to peace!”

Meanwhile Reginald slips away and joins Grrodon, who heard garbled talks about prices and worth of the artifact”. They decide to grab a couple beers, and pretending to be tipsy Grrodon fell”, grabbing the veil that covered the mysterious slab, and reveling… A tasteful but very explicit nude portrait of the Monarch.

Taking advantage of the moment of confusion, Gabiru took off, leaving the masked man pointing at an empty spot were he was standing just seconds ago.

The leader of the powdered wigs meanwhile, revealing himself as the Royalist candidate of the opposition, turned purple (embarrassment, arousal, or both?) and started to ask for the heads of poor Grrodon and the servants, who had the pertness to mistreat the good Monarch in such a way!

Again Sir Reginald’s diplomacy deflated the situation, by revealing himself and his companion as loyal agents of the crown, on a secret mission for the Heir himself. They soon learn that the Ruler’s poisoning is pretty much an open secret, and quickly reassure the Royalist leader of the good health of the Monarch. Many drinks and opinions are shared, and some time ticks by…

Day 1, second hour: Begin at the beginning

Having fled the scene at the Parliament, Gabiru found a spot outside to hide and wait for his companions. He overheard some stories about a giant causing mayhem near the Kobold’s pub”, and shared the rumor with Grrodon and Reginald when they where finally reunited, as the clock stroke 18:00, and the streets started to really flood with revellers in colorful masks and attires.

The Jolly Crew decided to head for the Pub at the Beginning of the Universe, it being the closest to the city gates, and the first stop for the refurbishing caravans.

On the way there they avoided a group of loud dwarves protesting their need for work and their disdain for charity.

Entering the cavernous halls of the pub, they got accosted by a nice server, who asked if it was their first time. She explained roughly how the time tunnels work (leaving out some details for them to find out by themselves *wink*) and asked for their orders.

The crew bought some drinks (no space-time altering effect from them, but Gabiru got a bit tipsy) and requested to talk to the quartermaster about some liquor, a clear bottle somewhat similar to gin, he might have in stock.
The quartermaster was in a hurry, what with the ongoing celebration, but was pretty sure he hadn’t seen the bottle they sought. But, who knows, with all the coming and going today maybe it could be down the tunnels?”

They decided then to be bolder and order three Portal Porters”. Drinking the sweet and strange tasting brew, Reginald and Grrodon were both transported away, transposed to some strange looking glass tunnels, where in the reflection of the walls and ceiling they saw scenes from a long forgotten era. Gabiru instead downed the pint, disappeared, and a few moments later came back with a loud POP… Feeling pretty smashed, and right in the middle of the gathering at the Quasi-Parliament!

Closing thoughts

I loved DMing this sessions. It felt almost effortless, thanks to the great prompts and the thoughtful procedures in the adventure. I did almost no prep at all.

It’s no wonder at all that it won the Ennie for best supplement this year. Kudos!

I look forward to the next adventures (in space-time!) of the Jolly Crew, and I don’t even have to wait that long since our next gathering is tonight. Wish us all luck!