Sudden Siege for the Cup of Wonder

By Olle Skogren
Self Published
Level 6

The Cloud Leopard Tribe lays siege to a mysterious mountain fortress – to claim The Cup of Wonder! Will the players aid in the defense of the relic, or steal it for themselves? Infiltrate the barbarian siege camp to assassinate their officers, recruit an army of disaffected mercenaries and break the siege, or break into the well guarded Temple of the Cup!

This fifteen page adventure details the siege of a holy site by a barbarian army. Flavour abounds in this Mass Battle potential adventure, but, could use a little more in the way of … event triggers? Things To Do In Denver While You Raise The Siege.

Ok, so, Frank steals the Cup of Wonders from the Cloud Leopards, like, twenty years ago. He settles on a hill in a valley and starts a holy site thing. Seems genuine. Pilgrims show up, and a small town pops up. The barbarians, though, did not forget. They have an army and are marching on the site to give siege and get their cup back. Enter The Hobos! Help the holy site, help the barbarians, or grab the cup for yourselves. And, let me say, the cup is indeed worth grabbing. Not quite artifact level, per the DMG, but a VERY powerful item that also fits well in the domain level play that should be popping off right about level six. Well worth the effort by the party.

I’m not the most familiar with the ACKS mass battle stuff, but from what I remember, it looks like you’ve got what you need to run a mass battle between the two sides, from a documentation standpoint. In addition, both sides camps/fortresses are lightly described to aid in negotiations or infiltration missions. A little light layout, some major NPC’s, some light wanderer shit for people coming up to the party, etc. The basics are all here. An outline.

And, it’s got some decent flavour in it. The barbarians, recruiting in a nearby town as a hook, are “Seeking heroes & villains to perform a mighty deed for a handsome reward!” Sweet. Another hook, some flower children on the way to the holy site … with 75 children in tow  … are stated out and noted that they have 2500gp in household goods. Take whatever side you want, man! The town is full of people that “In any crowd you see glowing halos and people who nearly float when they stride.” Yup! This is a fucking adventure for sixes man! No mudhole here! The dyadic sorcerers in the barbarian camp get this description “Twins? Lovers? This sinister and sharp featured pair are bound together by a strange pact. The woman Leits’ face glows with an inner light, shadows drip from the man Riqizeins’ face.” while the rank and file barbarians get “All dressed in their finest yellow and jade, this war is the most important event of their lives.” This is shit you can run. The detail is specific and oriented toward actually being run by a DM at he table. Detail the DM can use to riff on. Most of the wanderers in the two camps are the same, meaning they are interesting little things to take advantage of. Perhaps a little … implicit? 2d4 heavy infantry admiring some freshly repaired chainmail. That’s what you get. We can add some “whats your opinion friend?” or “Lets test it out on that dude!” kind of shit. 

This, then, is going to be my primary complaint. And, I note, I’m considering this a Substantial Adventure and not something that’s over in two hours. 

There’s a lot of latitude in an adventure like this for how a party approaches things. Especially level sixes. And that’s hard to deal with. You can’t spoon feed a DM because you can’t account for every situation. I’m cool with that. And yet … there are, I think, some common situations that can come up. And, for those situations, a sentence or two, especially given the designers penchant for flavour, is in order. There are SOME included. 

For example, the guru might, if they trust the party, send them off with some gold to hire an army to help raise the siege. The designer, rightly, includes a few details about this. The nearby kingdom, whats going on in there in the realm of “mercenary army”, with the flavour and NPC’s that are a strong point with this adventure. And, at times, we get some lighter content like fucking with the barbarians war flags to lower morale. Just a “guarded by two dudes and -1 to loyalty checks”, but, you get where its going.

Given that the timeline (and, there IS a good timeline) is about ninety days in total, I think I’m looking for a little more. What does the guru trusting the party mean? FOr that matter, how about the barbarian warlords trust? A sentence or two about a mission and difficulties in it would seem appropriate. Likewise, there’s a note about the difficulty in smuggling a large amount of loot (to hire the army) out of the siege. A few words about that would seem to be in order as well. And, perhaps some camp and holy site intrigues as well? Its a long timeline and I’d like to get up to some shit. And, on this point, let’s talk about Opportunities For Fun.

I’m not bitching at Olle about this, just pointing out something. If you’ve got a bunch of named NPC’s, with personalities, and stuff to do in camp, then, we want to make the camp an adventuring site. What I mean by this is that we  want to make sure the party can get in to it effectively so they can experience the fun. If it’s too hard to get in, via disguise, sneaking, whatever, then you don’t get to have the fun the camp offers. Which is a major part of the adventure, I think. This is akin to a Roll To Continue … putting the entire adventure behind a secret door or a tracking check.If you fail that check then you don’t get to go on the adventure. 

I’m not saying Olle fails here. But, there are a lot of things to throw a party off … and I don’t think in necessarily a fun role-playing way. The fails, on infiltration or disguise, feel more like a Complete Fail then they do A Complication That Could Be Fun. And don’t go all fucking nutso on me, absolutely you can have a complete fail. But we want the fun also, right?

So, a little more in the way of situations and vignettes. A little more intrigue, maybe. Perhaps a one page summary of the timelines and Things To Do for the DM. This is VERY open ended, as it should be for something like this, and if you’re open ended then you need a little more reference for the DM to riff on and cross-reference. 

It’s certainly not BAD, I don’t think … although I’m not certain there are enough mass battle scenarios to to understand yet what bad and good are. 

Did I mention how handsome and intelligent Olle is? And how he’s a member of the Tenfootpole Adventure Design Forum? 

This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru with a suggested price of $2. Pay what you want, and the entire thing is in the preview. So, no excises for not checking it out.

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10 Responses to Sudden Siege for the Cup of Wonder

  1. AB Andy says:

    Sounds like a no regret. I never played or even read any ACKS, but will certainly check this out. Mostly about your words about how the author brings the level 6 environment forward. Sidenote, I’d really want to be part the design forum but I get no emails to authenticate the account. Does the forum accept no new members?

    • Dave says:

      Its my favorite retroclone, and yet, still a B/X clone. Convert AC and run it in anything you like.

      Congrats Olle, this sounds right up my alley.

  2. Prince says:

    I believe this may have been slated for NAP II but mr. Skogren could not make the deadline because of various circumstances. I will have to check it out.

  3. Gnarley Bones says:

    This looks interesting!

  4. squeen says:

    Congratulations Two Orcs! Mass combat scenarios are in short supply. I’ll like to see everyone getting comfortable with adding that element to their campaigns.

    • Kubo says:

      Agreed. The lead up to the battle(s) are often as interesting as the battle itself. A lot of NPCs can be introduced that turn into long term allies, and this scenario appears to capitalize on that. And level 6 is not too early to start this. In fact, if you wait to level 9 or 10 it’s a little late to me.

      • Libra says:

        Double agree. I think incorporating a mass combat element is extremely challenging to do well, and I respect this attempt. I’ll be getting this one as an idea generator.

  5. Olle Skogren says:

    Thanks for the review and fair criticism. My own DMing style is rooted in… intuitive improvisation so I forget that vignettes as you call them are very helpful. I’ll be sure to include more in my next project.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Just read this and agree this is great constructive feedback

    Putting you mind on paper in a way people can de electron is very hard

    Thanks Ollie! Look forward to whatever is next

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