For the first game, there were two players that were able to make it on short notice. I decided upon third Thursday of every month as it danced around my upcoming time on call for work and going to Burning Man. Thus the first game was "this Thursday" and many of my friends have busy lives. I had just watched Full Metal Jacket again and was interested in doing some boot camp stuff, but felt that it would be hard to really get the sort of personal pathos portrayed in the movie without yelling at the PCs in character the entire time. Instead, it was used to try and introduce the setting as well as describe the military style of the game.
The game will be fairly unique for a couple of reasons. FIrst, it takes place in my own personal homebrew world. This is pretty much insignificant except for the military theater where they will be fighting in. Going back to their normal D&D style world, either dead or alive, is the end of the campaign. The part of the setting we're playing in is something I'm creating as we go which is a large jungle surrounded by mountains on the Southern Continent below the equator. The terrain is a large river which goes inland and curves to the south. On the outside of the curve are wooded mountains and on the inside is a jungle plain. The people and culture are unique and strange being modeled after not only on SE Asia but also the Trolls of WoW. The Gods are unique and in many cases animist spirits. They are all the remnants of a much older culture with ruins scattered in the jungle. The other way the game will be different from what they are used to is that it will be a military game. They will be part of a military unit with officers above them they must obey or risk suffering military discipline. There will be ranks, basic loads, unit organizations, officers, assigned duties, busy work, and the sorts of things that adventurers do not normally have to deal with. The players will be part of a platoon of around 40 guys. The PCs attending for the session will typically be in one or two squads the action will center on with the rest filled out by NPCs.
In our first session, we find a cleric and halfling ranger on a ship to the war. They are from a large and powerful kingdom that sees itself as having a long and proud history of being lawful good. To the point that even evil nobles will be offended if you described their country as anything but lawful and good. The kingdom has been at peace for quite some time as none of their neighbors could threaten them seriously even if they tried. It is still mostly medieval and while most eldest children will inherit their parents stations and land, the younger children of well to do families are often only provided for by the (PC class) training they receive before expected to find their own way in the world, most of which are of a martial nature. Being at peace in a civilized land means their options are leaving to find adventure in a distant land, turning to banditry, or being hired by a patron to kill bandits. In this case, the PCs have opted to join the army to seek fame and glory in a foreign land.
In this case, their kingdom has been approached by the elves to aid them in an ancient battle. They have long battled the forces of chaos and in the jungles of the Southern Continent have been fighting against the forces of an empire in service to such a power and ruled by six liches. Their forces are on the move and the elves sought to stop them. The elves, however, find themselves unable to deal with it on their own and have approached the PC's king to aid them, and the king has agreed. An army was raised by both taking on volunteers as well as conscription and sent to aid in the battle of the Souther lands. The PCs are skilled citizens who have enlisted for whatever reason at a higher rank and pay (than the conscripts) with the obligation of providing their own armor and weapons.
Our two begin their adventures stepping off the ship with a group of other soldiers onto an island fortress of the elves. Some fifty miles off the coast is a collection of islands ruled by the elves. They are on an island fortress, perhaps one mile by three, which the PCs kingdom has been allowed to also use to stage and command their war efforts. Here, they will be officially inducted into the military and given basic training. They disembark from the boat onto the docks to find a collection of barrels next to them, each one with a name on it. One of the PCs is looking for their own names when a dock worker tells them that "the officers get brandy instead of vinegar to preserve them on the way back home" as they figure out that each barrel contains a dead soldier going back home in the hold of the ship they arrived on.
Shortly, a soldier arrives who announces that his is their drill instructor and they will do what he says. His first instruction is to line and up and follow him. Along the way, they see a formation of 30-40 griffins and riders heading off the island to the East towards the mainland. While passing a bar, as there is essentially a town inside the walls of the fortress, one of the PCs asks if they can stop for a drink. The drill instructor announces to everybody that the PC has graciously asked to buy everybody the last beer they'll see for some time. He has the bartender line up a beer for everybody including himself, makes the PC pay for them all (1 sp each), downs his beer in one gulp and tells everybody else they have five seconds to finish theirs before they start marching again. Nobody asks him any more questions along the way to their destination.
Their destination is a large warehouse filled with a row of tables with mean and gear on the other side. They are instructed to line up and go to each table to get their kit. The first table is for their paybook the instructor tells them. They will fill out the book with their name, home, etc as well as finger prints and signature (if possible). Duplicate entries will be made in the armies ledger. The book will be their record of time served, pay,meals, and equipment issued, as well as acting as their identification. The next table gave them a metal box as they are told that for the next two years (the time of their enlistment) all their worldly possessions must either be carried on them or in their box. The other tables issues the rest of their basic load of equipment. The last table issued squad equipment which usually consisted of a shovel, 50' of rope, grapple hook, or sewing kit. Luckily, or 6 STR cleric got the sewing kit which is the lightest of all items.
They were then taken to their barracks and began their training. Training began by teaching them how to march, instructing them in military command structure, ranks, orders, by laws, etc. as well as how to march, and how to take care of their gear, plus a little bit more of how to march. They are instructed in the laws of combat and engagement, military discipline, and so forth. A large part of training is also not for teaching the characters skills, but to see what skills they already have. The stipulated pay they have been told is one gold piece per level per day while in the army. The fine print of their contracts actually has modifications that can be made for having or not having certain skills. Fighter type classes for example are expected to have some degree of Knowledge, Engineering, clerics, healing, etc. and not having such skills can result in a 1 cp/day pay cut. Likewise, having skills such as ride, or fly, can result in pay bonus or assignment to cavalry. This training lasted two weeks, and then they were shipped to the mainland to be assigned to their units.
Once on the mainland, they talked to the sergeant to assign them to their units. There was some hemming and hawing by the sergeant before he seemed upset and assigned them to a unit. As they were being taken to their unit, it was explained to them that the sergeant was wanting a bribe to put them in a good (and safe) unit, but having failed to provide the bribe, they are being sent to a rough one. The two arrive at their new barracks with their iron box just in time to be told they have ten minutes to put away their stuff and get ready to march out on patrol.
Next game: On Patrol