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Forbidden Lands – Crafting & Crits

Critical injury in the Forbidden Lands may stop the party from exploration and turn their attention to more conventional ways of making their living - like crafting. | Photo by Jonny Gios on Unsplash
Critical injury in the Forbidden Lands may stop the party from exploration and turn their attention to more conventional ways of making their living – like crafting. | Photo by Jonny Gios on Unsplash

This may not sound like an obvious connection, but it is for me. And I’m curious if you’ll see it so after reading the story of the following two sessions of my Forbidden Lands campaign – which the PCs spent mainly on healing their wounds and crafting to earn a living. It was also a very nice breather before what turned out to be the action-packed final chapter of our game.

The Trio was on their way from a monastery of the sorcerer they’ve taken captive and back to the Hollows. They wanted to waste no more time – like in the ruined watchtower they found. They expected something essential to happen around the tomb in the village’s graveyard. A simple puzzle I gave them when they were searching the ruins there, in fact, set the time frame for the best part of our campaign. If you’re paying attention to the time in this series – like my players did to count the days to the next full moon – you’ve realized that only a dozen days have passed in the game world since the first session.

The passage of time

While I’m at it, I’d like to mention the passage of time. In the Forbidden Lands, it may seem like a dragged-out thing. Many skill tests during journeys, resources and encumbrance record-keeping, weather, and so on make the session progress slowly. But I find it to be the opposite. All the changing conditions around the PCs make the game full of choices. They force the players to weigh the risks and take appropriate actions. But everyone needs some downtime now and then. Except that the treasure-hungry PCs (and their players) don’t always realize it. So how did they eventually find out it was time to rest?

Forbidden Lands’ deadly combat makes crafting a thing, seriously.

Long story short – the party arrived at the Hollows a day before the full moon. They rested awhile, hiding the poor sorcerer tied up in the stable. And they headed to the graveyard hill in the evening. Stopping by the Nirvea’s hut, they delivered her the promised hallucinogenic herbs. Then, they bolted to the ruins to find their grand treasure. Or at least, that’s what they expected. On a side note, that’s why I had a little problem with the tomb of Count Nepola. While a big mystery surrounds it, a myth, and it doesn’t live up to it. It’s a two-room, two-NPCs and one-fight mini-dungeon. But on to the crypt now!

The crypt is nothing like my players probably imagined — a vault with a little vestibule and the burial chamber proper. No treasure troves, no hoarded gold coins, the greedy tombrobbers had a hard time finding even the trinkets that actually were there. But they did, ignoring the weeping ghost of the Countess. Thus, they awoke the Count’s spirit, and the two ghosts argued while… Hrod tried to sneak by and pick the golden circlet from the Nepola’s grave. What transpired next was one heck of wraith attacks – aimed at the party and the other ghost. Sufficient to say that Buri had to test his Might to drag semi-conscious Mara and Hrod from the tomb. And again, to block the passage with the stone. The force attacks broke Mara’s leg and shattered Hrod’s knee.

So that’s “crits” from the headline. And what about crafting?

After Nirvea (barely) managed to save Hrod’s life due to a magical mishap, the Trio returned to the inn. But it turned out that they had to wait another two weeks for their wounds to heal fully. And, to their luck, Hrod dropped even the gilded silver toy while Buri was carrying him out of the ghosts’ way. So the broken bones were their only pay. They had to actually work for their living.

I don’t have much of the story left to tell today, but the next two weeks of the game-time passed during the next session. It was all about the characters’ endeavors in crafting and similar activities – which is an excellent part of the Forbidden Lands system. We hadn’t explored that before, but we loved that. It was a nice change of the mode of play. Suddenly, the days passed quickly. Buri spent most of them practicing smithing first under Ness and then on his own, only paying the old blacksmith for using his tools. Thus, he was able to make some substantial money. Eventually, the village’s metal supply ran out, and Buri had to decide whether to forge himself a fancy helmet or make more money by providing tools for the farmers. Hrod learned a bit about poisons and healing herbs with Nirvea. And Mara entertained the inn’s visitors with her Aslene tunes. Later on, when both of the wounded were able to walk again, Mara joined the crew of the fishermen on the Blaudwater. Most of the time, she was only catching a cold from the rainy weather, but learning the Fishing talent proved very useful in their later journey. Which, together with the destination, was the ultimate chapter of our campaign.

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