Strangers in Ramshorn
Petals and Thorns: Strangers in Ramshorn was an 800% funded Kickstarter adventure for 5e about power and what you do with it, now available on DriveThruRPG. A tale of a frontier town on the brink of being torn to pieces by five factions, each with their own ideology and beliefs: Prince Darius and his Order of the Lion seeks to reassert government power over the Eastern Frontier, lost to fifteen years of lawlessness, Harlequin and her Lunatic Court reject the authority of an aristocracy that has left the Frontier to burn for over a decade, Caspar and the Order of the Third Eye believe that all problems can ultimately be solved through greater understanding of the universe, Sharra and her Order of the Wyrd believe that all things can live in harmony if they but have the wisdom to make it so, and Lidia of the Vlatla Clan believes that, if you peel all the pretty speeches back and look at how people actually behave, everyone's in it for themselves, and she's just more open about it.
Strangers in Ramshorn saw the players forced to choose who to side with amongst the five in a number of flash points that could potentially bubble up into war. In the process, they met the various NPCs leading those factions, and hopefully became friends with a few of them without alienating too many of the others. Now, in Heroes of Ramshorn, the war is here, and those powerful friends are about to come in handy. In Strangers in Ramshorn, the party was asked "what do you believe in?" In Heroes, the party is asked "how much are you willing to sacrifice to those beliefs?"
A Game About Power And What You'll Do To Keep It
Petals and Thorns: Heroes of Ramshorn is a nearly completed sequel that continues the struggle, both physical and ideological, between the five factions of the Eastern Frontier. The war is on, and only one coalition will survive the coming conflict. Hopefully you've made some powerful friends while fighting to defend Ramshorn, because one faction alone stands no chance against the entire Eastern Frontier. Even the mighty Order of the Lion, commanding the largest of all armies by far, is too sluggish to hope to win against the combined forces of the Wyrd, the Third Eye, the Vlatla Clan, and the Lunatic Court.
From the second the war starts, you are under constant pressure from the enemy. Each time you take a long rest, you risk another faction being recruited to the enemy coalition instead of yours, giving the enemy hundreds of new soldiers to threaten you with. You risk losing more of Ramshorn and the rest of the Frontier to plague, or famine, or betrayal or any of a dozen other things that could go wrong. You risk another battle being fought, possibly one you can't afford to lose, one you must fight yourself, exhausting your hit points and spells all over again, and necessitating another rest, and God knows what new trouble that will bring. Factions you've made friends with can be recruited rapidly, but ones you've alienated will require significantly more effort, and your enemies are seeking to recruit the same allies. How many rests can you risk before the wizards of the Third Eye join the enemy coalition? If you bed down in the inn for a week to recover, will you find your prize has been snatched away from you while you rested?
In addition to the five major factions of the original, Heroes of Ramshorn introduces several minor factions who can be recruited with side quests. Just like the big five, the enemy coalition is also seeking to recruit these minor factions. Do you go for the most powerful of these minor factions and fight with the enemy for their favor directly, or do you recruit multiple weaker factions that the enemy is neglecting?
Worse, some of these factions are terrible people. A regent promises to join your coalition and bring dozens of new soldiers to your side, but only if you assassinate his three-year old nephew and allow him to assume the throne directly. If you refuse, your enemies will do it, and win those soldiers for themselves. Do you do it, under the reasoning that it was going to happen anyway, and you may as well benefit from it? Do you want this psychopath to be in your regime after the war? Do you kill him after you're victorious and risk setting a precedent of those in power purging any who displease them as soon as their utility has expired? Can you afford to pass up the troops he's offering? Do you expend resources killing the regent in order to keep the child safe, but also keeping him out of the war entirely, leaving you that much slimmer on resources at no advantage to your side? Or do you ignore them entirely, because there's a plague spreading through your capital city that could wipe out your reserves and the rangers of the Wyrd wants something done about the Great Hive awakening once more and the Ramshorn militia's going to need to secure some new armaments if that town's going to make it out of this war without being razed, and this whole power struggle over the barony is just too far down your to-do list to even think about before it's too late anyway? How much time and effort will you spend empowering people who share your beliefs versus compromising your beliefs with people who already have power?
The decisions made in the original echo forward into the sequel. Did you turn the Order of the Bear over to the Lunatic Court? Then they've been wiped out by the vengeful Lunatics. Did you turn them over to the Lions? Then they've been set to help defend Karis, and continue to menace the locals there as they did in Ramshorn. Did you destroy the spider nest and consecrate the tombs in the Vlatla's catacombs? Then they're almost completely defanged, nearly helpless against the size of the armies fielded by the Lions or the Lunatics. Did you secure the catacombs and the spider nest alike for the Vlatlas? Then they can produce new troops so rapidly that they can sway the entire course of the war themselves. Helped the Third Eye recover shoggoth tentacles? They've got more powerful golems. Helped the Lunatic Court save one of their hobgoblin allies? He's a recurring character in one of the major plot arcs.
Heroes of Ramshorn expands the scope of the game to the entirety of the Eastern Frontier, including a new wilderness hub in the Great Forest connecting a half-dozen new towns together, a dungeon even bigger than the interconnected spider catacombs of the original, and a multitude of side quests (several of which will feature backer NPCs prominently) that will give your coalition just a bit of extra power, all tied together by the war system that sets the pace of the new adventure. Just as the advancing schemes of the various threat of Ramshorn drove the action of the first adventure, the relentless march of the war sets the pace of this one. The number of long rests before another major faction is recruited by your enemies is determined by hidden die roll, and the order in which minor factions are recruited is likewise randomized, while every week a new battle is fought, and if you do not intervene, it will be resolved without you. The more long rests you take, the more everything is left to chance - and the odds are never in your favor.
The adventure will take your party from level 6 to level 8 across about 40-50 hours of gameplay, with the same balance of hack-and-slash and roleplay that marked the first one. The character arcs of major NPCs define the course of the story, and will turn out differently depending on how players react to them, but at the same time the Eastern Frontier is a war zone, and wars cannot be won without combat.
The importance of $1 backers cannot be overstated. Kickstarter gives visibility to projects based not on how much money they've raised, but how many backers a project has. A $1 backer in the first day or two can be worth more than a $15 backer in the final day or two. Because of the way Kickstarter's algorithm works, just $1 really does help a lot.
$15 backers get a .pdf copy of Petals and Thorns: Heroes of Ramshorn - normally priced at $20. Once brought to market, Heroes of Ramshorn will sell for $19.99. As thanks for helping me bring the adventure to a wider audience, backers will get a copy for just a $15 pledge. These backers form the backbone of any campaign, so pledging at this level is instrumental in helping make the project a reality.
$25 backers get a .pdf copy of both Heroes of Ramshorn and the original Petals and Thorns: Strangers in Ramshorn - normally priced at $40. If you don't have the original, now's your chance to get the war for the Eastern Frontier from beginning to end.
$50 backers get an NPC townsperson in the Eastern Frontier and an associated side quest. The town of Ramshorn is rebuilding its trade network after the events of Strangers in Ramshorn, and several side quests are available to help them rebuild. Each one takes the party to a different town to interact with an NPC in that town, and will make Ramshorn's defenses stronger, making them more likely to survive the war. $50 backers can help design an NPC integral to one of these quests.
$75 backers get an NPC adventurer. Strangers in Ramshorn had as a critical part of its premise that Ramshorn did not have any adventurers on hand to save them from danger, and needed the PCs' help. The greater scope of Heroes of Ramshorn means that there's room in the adventure for NPC adventurers.
$100 backers get a minor faction champion. Champions get side quests dedicated to them which the party must complete in order to recruit them to their faction's side, and $100 can add an NPC champion and associated side quest. Not only must the party weigh the risk of expending resources against the benefit of recruiting the minor faction's forces, many of the minor faction quests require compromising the party's morals. Sometimes this is in small ways: A Lunatic-aligned party might dislike the institution of aristocracy, and dislike recruiting aristocrats to their coalition altogether, even if those aristocrats aren't particularly vile. Other times, it's in big ways: Sometimes a minor faction champion is particularly vile, but if you don't recruit them, the other side probably will. Minor factions are associated with one of the big five, but aren't necessarily loyal to them. "Lion" champions are more friendly to the Order of the Lion, but it is still possible they end up working for the Lunatics and vice-versa.
UNLOCKED - Pathfinder conversion. A Pathfinder conversion will be written and formatted. All backers can get either or both versions of the .pdf. The Pathfinder version will ship 1-2 months after the 5e version.
$3,000 - Valence, Giramseth, and Oak Reach. Valence and the Giramseth Flats lie between the official boundaries of the kingdom and the territory of the Clans of Tiamat to the north, a lawless no man's land claimed by neither for fear the other would take it as an act of war. Oak Reach is a tiny outpost at the border of the Frontier and wild lands dedicated to the worship of a trickster god. These places just outside the bounds of the Frontier were cut towards the end in an effort to thread a needle between expanding the scope to something big enough to contain an entire war while keeping it small enough to produce. At this level, I can add these missing locations back into Heroes of Ramshorn.
Questions or Comments?
Chamomile Has A Discord, you can get in touch with me there, or you can email me at email@example.com
Risks and challenges
Heroes of Ramshorn is complete and playable as-is. I only need to pay for formatting, maps, and illustrations. About the only thing that could prevent it shipping is if I or one of my artists gets hit by a truck sometime between now and the ship date. In the latter case, I can find replacements and it should ultimately cause only a minor delay. In the event of my untimely demise, more significant delays may be unavoidable.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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