Forbidden Lands: A Humble Journey (Session Zero)

Welcome to another Rolling Boxcars exploratory series—”A Humble Journey.” A new series that is both an actual journaling of the ongoing tale of the heroes and a way for me to discuss the rules in more detail. As a new Forbidden Land Gamemaster, I found it challenging to find good, readable rules overviews and how they related to an actual ongoing game—I’d like to correct this for future Gamemasters. I am very fortunate to have readily available players who are eager to explore Forbidden Lands with me and each other. The group’s overall experience with the Year Zero Engine varies from player to player, but they, like me, are new to Forbidden Lands. I am confident that each player’s previous experience will be beneficial to the others.

My plan is to present a summarized series of articles that journals the unfolding story while highlighting specific rules. From time to time, players may provide their own written snippets to support the journaling efforts. Those rules which I highlight, we’ll peel back the layers and take a more thorough look at how it works, what it means for the story and players, and where possible, provide in-game examples.

The game is being run online with every effort made to keep it as simple as possible. We’ll be using the following digital tools to start but may incorporate others if the need arises.

  • Roll20 – VTT, Character Management, Handouts
  • Google Sheets – Custom calendar—tracking the passage of time

Why Roll20, over Fantasy Grounds or Foundry as our chosen VTT? The decision really comes down to economics at this point. While I have an Ultimate license for Fantasy Grounds, there is no official Forbidden Lands module for Fantasy Grounds. If I opted for Foundry, I would need to purchase the VTT itself and the Forbidden Lands Core rules to get the most functionality. Roll20 has what we need (character sheets, special dice, and a way to share images) with no other purchases required. The official character sheet in Roll20 and the custom dice are nicely done. Should this game evolve into more than a short exploratory story arc, I will move over to Foundry.

The Schedule

We briefly discussed our tentative play schedule, which will be every other Sunday afternoon, with sessions expected to last three to four hours.

Safety Tools

Before character generation began, I made it a point to cover safety tools. For this game, we collectively identified several lines and veils that we all agreed to. Furthermore, in Roll20, I added a Fast forward and an X-card macro button (Credit: Steve Huynh) and asked all the players to enable them. While I feel confident that we will not need the X-card, it’s a good thing to have just in case.

Character Generation

Character generation for five players was surprisingly quick despite using the alternative character generation method in the Legends & Adventures supplemental book. At times, I allowed the players to choose if and when they wanted to randomly roll or specifically make decisions for things such as Kin and Profession. Most opted to randomly roll on the charts a majority of the time. While random rolling for professions, they quickly found themselves with three Peddlers and two Druids. This obviously wasn’t going to work. I let the players work it out amongst themselves as to what Profession they each took.

In the end, the party consists of:

  • Pickle – Goblin Rogue from deep in the Groveland Woods
  • Sonillia – Half-Elf Fight from the Fields of Margelda
  • Orovald – Aslene Human Hunter with his faithful wolf companion named Wolf
  • Hivena – Half-Elf Sorcerer from the Harga Waste
  • Corc “Badger Claw” – Ailander Human Druid from the Plains of Moldena

How They All Met & Relationships

Using a single random roll on the “How Did You Meet” table, our group of adventures came together because of a bloody battle. Before we kick off session one, I will write a short narrative story of how that event was the catalyst for them coming together and forming relationships with each other.

Relationship connections are important to the game, but with a party of five, I find that I need to write one additional relationship statement for each of their professions. The Player’s Handbook only provides three statements, and they each need four.

With everything in place, Pickle, Sonillia, Orovald and Wolf, Hivena, and Corc set out on “A Humble Journey.”

This game is made possible by the kind folks at Fria Ligan. They have provided Rolling Boxcars with review copies of many of the Forbidden Lands products. If you’d like to follow the group’s adventures, subscribe to Rolling Boxcars or follow us on Facebook or Twitter, and don’t forget to get a copy of Forbidden Lands for yourself.

~ Modoc

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