So, the session in Not John Daker’s (also known as The Mixed GM on WordPress) ACKS game last night was insanely fun. The best session in a long time (and they are all quite good.)
Some campaign background.
We had a party that had crashed into a completely different world from where we started after a Bonzi Buddy migrated from infecting the robot character (a re-skinned Berserker named KillBot, who was suggested by the player who played it) into the computer of our stolen interstellar ship. We used an army of replicator-spawned Bonzi Buddies (which we did not know were spawning, but converted to the cleric’s religion and fed on sapient summoned bananas), and explored until we found the imperial capital. Madness ensued, and basically we toppled the empire’s leaders twice (not using the Bonzi Buddies, oddly enough), with the result being us installing a massive ancient dragon as emperor, with lizardmen administering the government. We then travelled East, having adventures until we found a round portal that appeared to lead somewhere completely different (we talked some locals into step ping through it for us, since we had defeated threats to their village and contributed to their treasures.)
On the other side, we found a woman in a tower who gave a mission to recover some books from a monster infested ruin.
The entire party then wiped against the methamphetamine-spewing baby dragon in the ruins, since we angered it while still stuck in a straight line in the corridor. We’d defeated a very similar dragon before, and underestimated the risk.
So, we rolled 3d6 in order, and our brand new characters, who knew nothing of the IMMENSE treasure our previous party left behind, decided to go adventuring in the other direction. We’ve had some adventures (another party wipe against some giant flies… not stirges, mind you) across the Empire of Long Florida. Then we mosied into PensaCola.
Now, we were just planning on passing through. We fenced off some “acquired” goods, and the fence said it would be two weeks before we would get the full payment on part of the haul. So we had some urban encounter rolls. We found that the town had three main factions among the general citizenry (CocaCola people, Pepsi people, and RC-Cola people. None of these people know what a “cola” is, even though their technology level would probably be sufficient for producing fermentation-based carbonation, if they only had the knowledge), not counting the city officials.
So here we were, wandering the town. Phillipe Delacroix (level 3 Paladin of The Great Gator), Brother Grysug Trosik (level 3 “Priestess”, with the class re-skinned to be a male brother of the Order of DomiNick), Heidi-Loo (a level 3 paladin of The Great Water Buffalo, the Source of The Whey), Charlie (a level 4 paladin of The Whey, a local religion), Didel Phimorphia (a were-possum henchman), and Horatio (an ALMOST completely useless level 3 mage henchman whose eye was unknowingly regrown after an injury with an enchantment that makes him see his own physical flaws in reflections… to improve his moral character.) Along come a bunch of robed men, shouting at people to get out of the way and pay obeisance to The Judicious Ecstasy Bringer. We recognize them (from past experience) as Branch Floridians, a local cult, but are confused why they are being avoided, as normally Branch Floridians are mocked or openly disdained.
Being two-thirds religious members of other religions (allied pantheons), we refuse to bow. Phillipe’s friendly but firm words are met with anger. Our refusal is ultimately met with them drawing blades… despite our slightly outnumbering them, out-armoring them, and clearly being better armed (thanks, dice.) It is an entirely one-sided fight, in which one is captured thanks to a knock-out by Grysug. Then, wanting to do the right thing and hand him over to the authorities to be dealt with, we find the sheriff’s office. He seems… cold. We hand over the captive.
At this point, I say (out of character) “I wonder if he is acting so coldly because he is a Branch Floridian too?” Our GM rolls a d10, saying a “1” would mean the sheriff was… and gets a “1” (THANKS DICE!) At this point we wandered off and the session ended.
Pretty straightforward, right? We talked about maybe leaving only one party member in town (hiding), while the rest of us stay on our rafts in the swamp.
The next session rolls around. As we recall where we were, the other urban encounter we had gotten but not played through gets brought up. We meet a guy named Paintin’ Pete, whose face is partially covered in silver paint, and who is lying in the road. We go closer to see if he is okay, and he talks in his sleep about riding the clouds. We wake him up/wait until he sobers up. We talk to him about the town. He mentions that the sheriff is neutral in the bickering between the cultural factions in the town, but the election for sheriff has been cancelled indefinitely for the last several years (by the sheriff.) Also, he mentions the sheriff is always being hard on him, because of his huffing magical cans of spray paint.
Grysug, seeing a way to end the ongoing usurpation of the sheriff (and their own potential trouble with him) offers to buy a can a spray paint for Paintin’ Pete if Pete will set fire to the sheriff’s home in the middle of the night. Phillipe, however, suggests getting the sheriff removed from office as an alternative. We buy him the paint anyway because from past experiences as players in this campaign, we know how useful a drug- (or ideologically-) addicted man can be.
So, we start asking around the town for the mayor’s office, and how to get a meeting with the man. We also spread rumors about the sheriffs starting to take sides in the cultural conflict of the town (we tell people “we heard him say…”, but don’t say anything should be done about it.) We bribe the mayor’s secretary (once we find his office) with a donation to the office coffee fund, and a donation to the mayor’s re-election fund, to get an appointment. On meeting the mayor, our reaction roll is good, and we basically manage to convince him that we heard rumors on the street about the sheriff picking sides in the balance between the groups in the town (and by hear, I very OBVIOUSLY meant “I heard myself saying”), and how the mayor can never trust that the sheriff isn’t siding with the Branch Floridian since he IS one and is letting them march through the streets abusing and attacking people. He is convinced to call an election for the office of sheriff (which requires him to, on the spot, write an amendment to the town charter to allow for overriding the sheriff in this.)
We thank him AND his secretary (which becomes important later.) We then go out and spend some time throwing parties and spending money (and using spell slots and laying-on-hands hit points and healing proficiencies) to generate good will BEFORE the election is called. The next day, an election for sheriff is announced, to take place in seven days. Phillipe goes to the mayor’s office to declare his candidacy, facing down the sheriff’s goons who are standing outside intimidating possible competitors for their boss’s job. We say we are old friends of the mayor, and they call out Molly, the secretary, to ask if the mayor knows us. She says “yes”, and we are let in. Grysug, as he passes Molly’s desk, leaves her a bigger donation “for your shoe fund this time” (something she had mentioned previously), and Phillipe signs up for the ballot.
We then are in a race with the incumbent for the office. We throw parties every day (one in each neighborhood) and talk and heal people and rail against oppression and injustice and quietly hire every light infantry mercenary in town and clothe them in large clothing that goes over their armor and paint “Go Pensacola!” across the front. We kissed babies and went to and the tide seemed to be a dead heat between Phillipe and the sheriff, with… Paintin’ Pete in a distant third.
Visiting Paintin’ Pete seemed prudent, so we paid him a visit in his home (the open street.) We convince him (with meth-potions and paint cans and some cash) to drop out, endorse Phillipe, and campaign for us (which, given he is probably no smarter than any given butterfly, amounts to “Ph’lipe’s a gud guy!” Pronounced the way it is spelled.)
This seemed to help, though now we suffered a couple of attempted assassinations. The first would-be killer got stomped into a paste by the thirty-one mercenaries (who had a 12 Loyalty, I believe. We were after all paying for a full month of wages for what we thought would be four days of work, were giving them clothes they could keep, and Phillipe had a Charisma bonus and was doing the hiring.) The second attempt, however, killed one of the mercenaries, so we made it a campaign event to pay for and attend his funeral, pray the prayers for the dead of our respective religions, give a large lump sum of gold to the merc’s widow. We gave speeches railing against the systemic oppression and endemic violence inherent in the current sheriff’s regime, and mourned poor Robert (we found out his name only after he was dead. He was not a henchman.)
Around rolled the election, and the mayor’s secretary hand counted in public the vote. We had a landslide 2:1 margin in favor of Phillipe, but the sheriff did not concede. Rather, he started publicly challenging Phillipe’s right even to be on the ballot, since at this point only about 9 days had been spent in the city by our party and we were still living on our rafts. We had no residence. It was known we were wanderers who travelled all around Long Florida.
Phillipe declares that he is definitely here to stay (which is not what we had talked about; we had said privately among ourselves that we would leave a proxy to do the work.) He declares that he is a member in good standing with The First Church of the Great Gator of PensaCola (by which he means “I *am* the First Church of the Great Gator of PensaCola, and only member”.)The sheriff says that isn’t enough, and so we ask the mayor (a bit late, perhaps?) what the requirements for running for office in PensaCola are. The mayor’s secretary pulls out a piece of paper (in her handwriting, hastily scribbled) and announces it is a city charter section that deals with this topic, a section no one has ever seen before. It says “to be eligible for city office, a potential candidate must announce his intention to live in the city.”
The sheriff had one further gambit, but he was looking agnry by now, whereas before during the tallying he had been cool and collected. He challenged Phillipe to a judgement by combat, with the survivor taking the office of sheriff.
Phillipe, who again is only 3rd level, agrees. The sheriff gets a good initiative, but Phillipe’s is better. The man who would not concede gets demolished in four rounds of single combat, and Sharold the Sheriff is ignominiously killed and buried. The election was over.
We investigated the sheriff’s office, which includes probably the only existing copy of the municipal code (which says “I do what I want.”) We fire every employee of the previous sheriff, and make an offer of permanent employment to the remaining 30 light infantry mercenaries (“great benefits! Just look what we did when Robert Paulson was murdered on the job!”), who accept.
Phillipe, making good on the implicit promise, starts looking for a property to buy for the formation of his First Church of the Great Gator of PensaCola (with the aim, stated privately among the party, of making it the quasi-official religion of the city.) We also asked the mayor what our budget for our department is, since it is his office that collects the taxes and distributes it to the small number of city government officials.
Let me just add two more things: throughout, I at least could not breathe, for the laughter (not an uncommon occurence in this campaign, but not usually to this degree.)
Additionally, none of this was planned. Phillipe’s player (Misha, whose tweets are screenshotted above) didn’t expect or plan this. I didn’t plan this (my plan was to firebomb the sheriff’s house.) Heidi-Loo’s player didn’t plan this. The GM did not plan this (there were long moments at various points as he consulted PDFs and physical books of the various ACKS resources he has. There were reaction and loyalty rolls involved (thank you, dice!) The last thing we said at the end of the last session was “maybe we hide outside of town until the fence has our money.”) This could not have been planned.
But, hey, at least this time we have not ended the world again. Or depopulate the city whose politics we interfered with again. Yet.