Gears of Ruin: Sabotage! Part 1

(Picture the Beastie Boys song playing in the background throughout the game report)

We sat down early in May for our 1st D&D session in nearly 2 months. We were all rusted and excited.

Mike and Stef were both missing.  By one of those bizarre coincidences, both were sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia (home of exploding boats, Alexander Keith’s beer and awesome fish and chips) for work. As I mentioned in the past, our Social Contract makes it that should have at least 4/6 players we play. So play we did.

The adventure plan

As my various posts leading to the game could attest, I had strange and cool ideas for my new adventure. The planned synopsis came down to this.

Brought together to oversee the security of crucial peace talks, the PCs are faced with sabotage at 20 000 feet over the jagged surface of a world torn by 8 years of global conflicts.  One of the diplomat factions turns on the other while demon-summoning  clockwork bombs explode on the Gnomish airship housing the peace negotiations. Our heroes have to keep the negotiators alive.

The two sides were:

  • The Melorians, a technology hating militant order dedicated to reclaiming the planet from its exploiters
  • The Bloodbanes, a fanatic sub-faction of the warforged, known for their brutality and savageness in the war.

The adventure was built according to the formula that my friend Franky described as being “perfect for us” which was: 60 minutes of story-setting roleplaying and 2 hours of killing bad guys.

It worked beautifully.

We can see it coming…

The adventure started with our newly “dinged” 16th level PCs on their brand new, yet unnamed airship. They were tasked with escorting one Count Sakran, patron and trusted representative of Baron Falkenstein to a Gnome privateer airship to mediate the final negotiations that would hopefully put an end to the Great War. Once there, they were to oversee the security of the proceedings.

As we set up this story-focused scene, I went around the table with a prequel scene, asking what the PCs did over the last 8 years.  Details are fuzzy (we played 2 weeks ago, seminars still intruding in my writing groove) but here are some of the elements I got.

  • Magma (Genasi Swordmage): I fought on whatever side I felt needed it the most whenever I walked on a battle field. The only exception was when I fought near Holy-Clank, where I was always fighting by his side as he’s my brother in arms. I also spent long months in Earthform, reflecting on my inner chaos.
  • Wrath of Melora (Deva Avenger): I walked the earth, causing as much trouble on the so-called sentient machines and technologically-inclined powers.  Only when I witnessed some Warforged fighting to protect humanoid children did I start to see them as worthy adversaries and potential allies… but don’t count on me to be all political and nice.
  • Holy Clank (Warforged Hybrid Fighter-Cleric): I was actively involved in the war to bring it to an end as fast as possible. I was a key player in forging the alliance between the Baron and the Warforged (Clank gave them sentience) and then championed the defence of all sentient forms of lifeforms, whatever their origin, natural or otherwise.
  • Rod Stone (Goliath Warden): Dude that patent agent test was BRUTAL.

(Scratching record sound)

Math had been studying hard these last 2 months to pass his exams and I knew he was going to be brain-dead for this game session, so I had a pre-made story packaged for him.  In fact, his was the core plot of the adventure.

Chatty: All right man, here’s the thing.  Your home city was “captured” late in the war, like may other Goliath outposts, by the forces of an Elemental Chaos Efreet prince.  It now flies the flag of the City of Brass.

Math (Deadpan): It does not!

Chatty: Yup, and remember that Goliath chick you listed as a ‘friendly’ NPC in our party template, the one that made you leave your town in the first place? Well rumours are that the prince has her now and married her.

Math: That’s it boys, we know what we’re doing tonight!

Chatty (laughing): Not quite, you’ve been sticking around with Count Sakran (The baron’s brother in law) because he promised that if you helped him end the war, he’d do everything in his power to get the baron to free your city after.

Math: Works for me, we’re patient people.

Chatty: So mostly, during the war,your efforts have been focused on protecting the Count’s son.

Math: Wha?

Chatty: The viscount, Daven Sarkan is this typical playboy noble with too much time, idealism and money. He ALWAYS gets in trouble with all kinds of splintered political parties, 2-bit terrorists and weird new-agey (in a steampunk-fantasy way, whatever that may end up meaning) cults.  The count asked you to keep him out of trouble and make sure that he stayed alive.

Math: All good, and where is the Viscount now?

Chatty (Smiling): Why, on the gnomish ship, preparing your arrival, where else?

Players: Go to hell Phil!

Prequel scene: Priceless.

Up next: Exploring the ship and all Hell Abyss breaks loose.


  1. As usual, sounds like the pre-cursor to a great game and great series of posts. Gotta love giving your players just enough information so they know they are in for an interesting ride.

  2. By the time we reached that point, I think that 45 minutes had already passed. We spent some time leveling up some PCs to level 16 and the ‘getting our stories’ out took some time too. Can’t wait to write/post part 2.

  3. lol sound like a great setting 🙂 cant wait to know what happens next 😛

  4. Sounds like a great, fun opener. Nice cast of characters, returning back to the table. A reunion!
    .-= Andy´s last blog ..About Storytelling =-.

  5. Glad I waited to be less tired before I read this – makes plenty of sense now!

    Pretty cool setup, as always 🙂

    I love how you split “game time” and “story time” to fit a ratio matching your players’ taste (you probably mentionned it before).

    Sounds like prequel time took care of the storytelling – will we have a fight next? 🙂
    .-= Eric Maziade´s last blog ..Revenge of the dailies =-.

  6. Awesome! Sounds very exciting. I love how you plan out the story involving all of the characters. The story is about them and not just happening to them.
    .-= fighting-man´s last blog ..Thoughts on D&D =-.

  7. @Papabaloo: If you dig some in my archive (Or my Gears of Ruin sidebar) you’ll find the whole series of adventures we’ve had in that campaign world so far.

    @Andy: The characters are strong and the players rapidly grew attached to them. Even after 2 months, the players got back in the groove rapidly.

    @Eric: Actually this game went long in the ‘story’ arc… as you’ll see in part 2. The formula works very well so far and I’ll play around with it just enough to keep things lively.

    @fighting-man: Thanks… I agree with you 100%… if the story is made upfront with player preferences and choices, it becomes a more involved experience for sure. At least it works for us.

  8. That’s cool. I like the idea of a story that takes long breaks, and comes back to the same group of characters reuniting to face new evils at higher levels, after adventuring on their own. Cue the montages! 😀
    .-= Andy´s last blog ..About Storytelling =-.