These games are the first time that I have done serious one on one play, as well as the first time I have done bi-weekly sessions (at least by intention and not by people flaking). Honestly, while I might notice some differences in pacing or something in the long term, I didn’t see much difference with a week to week game, and I slide back into it about as well as a session 2 can be expected.
We kick things off the next morning, with Maxim being the first up in the barracks, some of the Bandits are feeling pretty brave and just stride right in to try and talk with him. They want their friend back, and are willing to pay to get it. They even offer to go bother some other town as well, but Maxim doesn’t really believe them. He could take the money and abandon the town, but he didn’t want to just abandon them. Besides, he reasoned, if they could offer him his much just to get their friend back, there’s probably more where that came from at their base. The men tell him to go ahead and keep the money, and turn to leave. Maxim stabs their leader in the back.
One of his cronies run, the other reaches for his sword, and Maxim is able to dispatch him too. One of the two is ‘merely’ mortally wounded, and Maxim tells the militia members to get him treatment “If you think he deserves it”. He goes and reports this to Sergey, when Anya (who was taking a watch) arrives and says she chased after the runner, but he got away. She DID manage to get a crude map off him, to what she thinks is their hideout. The man they captured is still in treatment, so it is as good a lead as any. Maxim actually takes some Militia with him this time (3 of them) and they head out.
On the way, they encounter a man in a mask, leaning over the body of a bandit, repeatedly stabbing him with a knife. Maxim tries to talk with him and he tries to bolt. Maxim manages to get a hand on his robe, and has the militia grab him. He killed a bandit, and he might have a good reason for it, but if he’s not saying anything Maxim feels like he can’t let him go. He has one of the Militia bring him back to town and presses on with the other two.
After a bit, the remaining Militia ask where we’re going, and when Anya shows them the map, they freak out. Apparently, it is the ruins of some village that was destroyed in the war, and it is ‘cursed’. Maxim says he isn’t going to force them to come, but if they don’t deal with their hideout, their village won’t really be safe. Maxim is untrained in persuasion (but has a high will), but it is not good enough. The remaining Militia bail, warning Maxim to stay out of the church. Anya thinks the whole thing is bullcrap, and that is good enough for Maxim.
They press on, and make it to the edge of the clearing where the town is. A voice tells them to stop. They look around, and eventually find a masked man in the tree (It might have been the same masked man?). He demonstrates some magical power, and tells Maxim to not get involved. They debate a bit, and Maxim is pretty much ready to either work with this guy in taking out the bandits, or just take the gold he got as his bribe and let this guy finish the job for him. And then he reveals he is here to kill the Bandit’s leader, who of course happens to be the man Maxim is looking for.
Maxim draws his bow and shoots him, clipping the mask and knocking him out of the tree. Anya stands over him and seems pretty pissed at him, demanding answers that he isn’t giving, and generally upset at another wizard acting as an assassin and giving the rest of them a bad name. He begs for his life a bit, but it eventually becomes clear to Maxim that he will just go ahead with his mission either way. Maxim gives the go-ahead to Anya and she ends up killing him.
The noise from this whole thing has attracted a pair of the bandits, trudging through snowy meadow and trying to find the source of the sound. They stay just out of range of Maxim’s bow, and ask if Anya’s “Advantage” effect could get him there. This was almost certainly a major bend of the rules (I am pretty sure art magic is meant to be read conservatively in terms of effect), but Blaine allowed it. Maxim spent time lining up his shot, and just BARELY met the increased ob. Clipping the guy in the leg, he fails at trying to reposition in secret, but gets a challenging speed test in the process! I’m actually getting more speed tests than BL steathy tests with how Blaine was rolling tonight, but that means I am no only one difficult away from advancing speed, sweet!
Anyway, they’re coming after Maxim instead of going for help, so he shoots them again as they get closer. Taking out one, Anya manages to incinerate the other with magical fire! Maxim makes sure they are dead (by stabbing them for good measure), and they press on.
They find the town mostly in ruins, all that is standing is a church, a grainery and a militia office. Having been warned by the militia to stay away from the church, they naturally check it out first. There seem to be people inside, who almost notice Maxim, but he manages to hide to the side of the window when they go to investigate. There are at least five of them, but there seems to be no way for them to get into the church. The windows are boarded up, and the door was barred from the OUTSIDE. They could remove the bar, but since those people had weapons, Maxim suspects there is another way in, and the front door is a trap.
They investigate the office, finding papers inside, including a note that Nikiat wrote about having one of his underlings send a letter to Volkov Manor. The letter itself is sealed, so Maxim takes it, but doesn’t open it yet. When they leave, they see a man looking around outside and notice Maxim’s tracks in the snow. He runs into the Grainery and seems to disappear. Maxim is able to locate and force open a trap door, leading to a cave beneath the surface.
Anya suggests that going down there might be a mistake when the two of them can just wait the people in the church out, and Maxim thinks she has a point. However, she wants him to stay in the office while she stays in the Grainery. Maxim suspects that she just wants to go down there on her own, and demands they switch positions, which she eventually relents to.
After a while with no movement, Maxim suspects that there may have been another way out of the church (perhaps the tunnel also led somewhere else) and goes to retrieve Anya. At that point, the church erupts in magical flames.
We called it there and handed out a number of fate points, no persona yet, but I think we are getting close. In two weeks we will likely wrap up the matter with the bandits, one way or another, but in the meantime we’ll be diving back into Kento’s story!