Last time, the PCs were on a map-and-loot jaunt through the Storerooms (level 1 of the Castle Greyhawk dungeons). Near the end of the night, they managed to discover a long-hidden secret chamber. Shortly after, a nasty skirmish with a band of goblins left them pretty banged up, and they retreated to the secret bolthole for a rest.
Now, they were careful to cover their tracks and leave no obvious trace of their passage, so I allowed that they'd be pretty safe there, as long as they Anne Franked it. Usually I've encouraged a trip back to town at the end of a session (since you never know who's gonna be around for the next session, and I try to avoid having un-played PCs in the game), but here at least the players who turned up could operate out of the secret room, with the inactive PCs hiding out. Well, next session we ended up with 3 players.
There was some discussion of turning back to town and assembling some hirelings, but instead the 3 PCs mounted a scouting expedition. They spent a few turns double-checking the party map (there've been a handful of mappers working on it, which tends to make things nice and confusing), and then headed off to the quarter they hadn't hit, yet. And met the Old Guard Kobolds.
If you're an adherent of the Lake Geneva Campaign, you've heard the stories, if not - well, just suffice it to say that these are some Very Burly Kobolds (who've been taking out PC parties for decades, now). The party as it stood was about as tough as a 3-member low-level party can be (two tanky fighters and a fighter/cleric), but right off the players knew something was up. The little bastards were falling like so much wheat (or at least the ones in the front were), but only due to some fancy rolling on the players' part - and they weren't falling fast enough, since the ones in back were tossing oil - and then some of them turn out to be capable swordsmen - and that one's wearing fucking PLATE MAIL - and here come two more units of'em - SHIT SHIT SHIT LET'S GET OUT OF HERE - and I laughed very much.
To their credit, they just exactly pulled it out of the fire, with only one fatality and a handful of hit points left, but (by at least one of my players' admission) their reluctance to flee was almost the death of them. I'd like to say the lesson was learned, but of course they're already plotting out bloody vengeance against the kobs. I suspect it won't be as easy as they're imagining. [EVIL DM GRIN] Their early realization that these weren't "just kobolds" was downright heart-warming, however; if they can at least take away from this that they can't always rely on their knowledge of the Monster Manual to gauge encounters, I'll consider us ahead of the game.
After that fiasco, the party hoofed it back to the Free City of Greyhawk. This was the first time I broke out the map (I'm using Joe Bloch's maps - Joe Bloch of the Greyhawk Grognard blog and the thoroughly awesome WG13 - for my City of Hawks and so far they're eminently suitable), and the first time I plotted the party's course to their destination, with encounters every few thousand feet courtesy of the Midkemia Cities book (I'm loving this supplement so far - read on).
The first encounter I rolled up, as the party was traversing the main drag north towards the Old City, was a prostitute. Consulting the sub-table, I learn that this is exactly (*roll*) one prostitute, who is (*roll*) approaching one of the characters for (*roll*) help. Off the top of my head, it becomes apparent that this is a street girl, and that some bruisers from the bawdy house nearby have been trying to run her and her co-workers off of their corner (nobody likes competition). The players bite and we're off on our first city adventure of the campaign.
This ends up being an interesting exercise in on-the-spot content creation. They head to the spot, the party leader gets the girls to point out their antagonists, and the PCs go to "straighten out the situation". After a few tough words are exchanged, they demand to speak to the thugs' boss; the thugs are only too happy to show the PCs in so that they can fall in behind and bash their collective brains out in private. A close-quarters melee follows (in the foyer next to the coatroom), and, with the thugs realizing the futility of direct attacks (one fighter in plate mail, and we're using weapons VS. AC, they'd be hitting on 20) I got to break out the pummeling and overbearing rules from UA. (Lesson learned here being that you really need multiple bodies for the overbearing thing to work well.) With the largest of the three doormen downed, and the other two wounded and fled, the party leader relays his message to some newly-arriving bravos (that the girls ought not be messed with from here on out), and they take off. Being smart enough to have the hookers show them through the back alley, they even avoid the watch patrol that's headed to investigate the disturbance. The girls are brought to the Green Dragon (where the regular working girls shoot them dirty looks), and it is decided at that these will now be two of our PCs' hos, and that they will now look after the ladies.
So now my PCs have some hos. I'm still figuring out how to handle this. Gary Gygax's Canting Crew book has some amazingly detailed thieves' guild info (that I'm using pretty much as-is for my City), and from here I learn that not only is prostitution a guild-run activity, but that there's even different branches for different types (high-class girls, house girls, street girls, etc.). So not only are they horning in on one branch's racket, they're interfering with another's. I suspect they'll find that pimpin' ain't easy, even in the City of Greyhawk. LOL
All in all, out of one random encounter I got a new city location, the name of its owner (and an idea of what its foyer looks like), two new slightly-detailed NPC enemies (the escaped doormen), a potential in-town conflict for the PCs to deal with (the guild), and a rather interesting and potentially hilarious campaign complication (i.e., "How the shit do I handle PC ho income?")("And do they gain XP for it?")
Hell of a session.
PS: This post at Old Guard Gaming Accoutrements is awesome.)