I just ran 4 Forbidden Lands games this weekend at our local con (GoPlayNW) and it was a blast. I didn't run them through the GM Book scenarios or the published scenarios. I had a story arc and an idea to start the group off with slavers. The first group of 5 was within one hit of TPK and 2 party members would have died within hours if they weren't able to do first aid. They were able to break out of the slaver cell with some inside help and capture the redoubt (randomly rolled in a few minutes). I took about 4 hours of character creation and investigation and multiple combats. They are taking Petor the kid who helped them escape under wing, as he is truly sorry that his Aunt Beasyhatter had been taken as slaves and had the job of cooking for these slavers.
The second group was heading to investigate the slavers and see if they could recover someone snatched and to get a new merchant route to a town 2 days away. They encountered the probable reason that there was little traffic that made it over land as they found a number of trapdoor spiders infesting a part of the existing trail. For now they avoided it but marked it on the map. Just after that they saw a battle scene on the road to the town and approached cautiously narrowly avoiding an ambush by slavers who had happened upon a battle of rust brothers and raven sister and company. The slavers had taken some a raven sister and her companion captive along with some iron guard (iron brothers military arm) who had been broken but survived the first battle, and laid in wait for the party. This ambush was averted by some quick thinking and the awesome pushed rolls then a pincer attack on the ambush which with some great pushed rolls resulting in only 2 party members taking mortal damage and 1 broken character who killed a slaver orc with a huge WP fueled bear claw attack. This took 3 hours of character creation, hex crawl, and 2 combat encounters. the final orc at 1 STR says he's worth ransom of 100 gold from his slave master if they don't kill him. But one of the dark secrets came out and that orc was killed.
The third group was 3 new players and 1 from the last adventure who found the new PC's tied and under a net that the slavers had in their clutches before the last encounter. This group had a battle with harpies who had taken the opportunity to get the cadavers of fallen in battle. this was a tough encounter because only one of the characters had a good ranged attack, but staves can hook and pull a harpy to the ground so they were able to kill one and this drove off the other sisters. (who now want revenge and may show up again). They were making way to an temple with the raven sisters who was along the way of the raven sister. After a hex crawl, another random monster encounter, then camp they were surprised by a baby 25' tall Giant who wanted to play. This resulted in them feeding the kid and losing most of their food to feed him 8 times from their rations. The baby left at dawn after playing a tabor toss with them, a tree for him, a long 'tree' for a player character. they were able to avoid battle with the baby, who said his name was Erna as he waved good bye. This was about 3 hours of play time to do.
The next group of one from the prior group and 4 new players who were in 2 separate groups. One group saw the battle and the tracks. they also smelled a raven sister which was with one of the groups and they were sworn to protect raven sisters so followed the party scent. they heard the baby giant in the wee hours and saw it was going to intersect with the path of the raven sister, so they booked up there in the middle of the night, they observed the play time and when the giant baby left they put up there weapons and greeted the player who continued and the raven sister. The second group of 2 were together when from about 5 miles away they saw a huge 50' woman destroying a small village they both had called home and grew up in, even though their parents had died long ago and were ready to leave the small hamlet of Oxca and they were hermits/farmers living nearby. arriving at the village they found weapons with strange blood on them but the village demolished. after dealing with the dead they felt they should follow the 2 giants into the hills if only to warn any other village in its path and perhaps get information about it. They followed and at midnight saw the much smaller (25' baby) go off on it's own. they followed and found the scene of the baby giggling and playing with the group then leave at dawn back to it's mother and into the mountains. they introduced them to the group and realized the village probably got destroyed for attacking the baby and enraging the mother, who was bring the baby back after it left the mountains to seek adventure (or play). So they felt they had completed that duty and were more than willing to help the sister if there was coin involved. Thankfully this only took a relatively short RP and left plenty of time for the next encounter of restless undead and a demon who was controlling them. The demon had set up a trap of mist that covered the graveyard so the restless dead could ambush the party as they would pass through the graveyard to the temple (which really is the redoubt that the slavers had taken over a while ago). The party was able to detect the mist on a great scouting roll and survival roll for finding the path and looking out. The blood mage determined that it was indeed magic and that the source of it was further in the mist. The mist was then dispelled by a death mage who cast just enough WillPower(WP) to remove the mist (by lucky accident of an overpower roll during misfire check). The encounter with the undead and demon had some great twists, resulting in the death mage wresting control of one of the restless undead, and the demon being bound by a huge WP dump and exceptionally dangerous misfire check by the blood mage. They finally were in site of the redoubt and a cave that was between them and the redoubt when a manticore surprised them. It was a big battle and fun to torment the characters with a demon who would attack with his abilities gleefully including PCs in the area affects. The binding was in tack, you just need to be careful if you're going to have it attack your foe with friends near. This encounter the last of the con was also brutal, and many were injured and would have died without them besting the creature. This took 4 hours of time for character creations and play time.
My lessons learned were
- be prepared with a way to quickly get characters in play. the legends and adventures booklet was a great help to character creation.
- get a battle early to show them the mechanics and let them understand the dice pools, pushing the rolls, and how to use willpower
- Find an arc that meets the players needs. during character creation with each group i listened to each team and the chatter they talked about, some wanted legendary beasts, some wanted to see what the stronghold mechanic looked like, some wanted to explore, some were interested in the gods and history, some just wanted money
- all the games had magic users, so that was a huge learning curve for me, but flowed smoothly by the end
- any monster can be used because the stat blocks and skills are all adjustable
- play in the open and be frank about stat blocks the game will kill them easily enough don't make it appear you are dodging rolls to pull or stack your punches
- use miniatures. (I used arc knight)
- don't sweat the prep, they didn't get to half of the things I prepped for and didn't even touch the underground area yet.
- if they're local invite them to game again, I have been wanting to set up a steady group, maybe I'll have one now.
- have fun