Last night we had a fun filler session. It just was… a bit goofy, and maybe not in line with any principles of REAL ROLEPLAYING that I sometimes discuss. But it was a good time none the less. Spoilers for the Adventure “Death Frost Doom” Follow. Continue reading
The Leaky Bucket Crew – Episode 2
Last Night we got together to play Kaigan for the first time in a while, but once we all refreshed ourselves as to what was happening it was pretty easy getting back into things. Session spent a lot of time in planning stages, but lots of it was in character so I was mostly fine with that.
We open after the Bar closes on the 3rd of the month, late at night early in the morning. A name comes up on the date the till doesn’t quite match the receipts/inventory. Fred Richards, unfortunately for them, Fred isn’t scheduled to work for the next few days, so they decide to pay a visit to him then and there. They head into a rather sketchy part of town and find his 2nd floor walk-up apartment where he lives with his wife and daughter. Okoi is hoping to avoid scaring the woman and the kid (and asks to change his instinct to something to that effect on the spot), but they still send Axe around back in case he tries jumping out the window.
Okoi and Upton knock loudly, and after a moment, the groggy man in question peers out the chained door to see who it is. And the guy is wise enough to put two and two together as to why his bosses are here at this time of night. He actually goes with them without much resistance, mainly to keep them from messing with his family, and the three of them meet up with Axe and then take a walk.
He grovels and such, which doesn’t reach many of our hardhearted protagonists, but they eventually get enough of the story. Some guy from the Rising Dragons has been coming around, saying that Richard’s dad owed him money, and now that his father has passed away its on him to pay it back, and it seems he is threatening his family to encourage payment. Richard identifies the guy as Kyoto, and has a Mahjong parlor in Dragon’s turf where he is supposed to meet him on the 7th. They kinda wonder what to do with them, and then Axe tells Richard that he is going to help them get their money back, and help them out with other stuff to to make up for what they can’t get, and neither Okoi or Upton have got a better idea, so they go with that.
The next day, Koga’s letter is finally delivered, in retrospect I should have delivered it before the game so they could have written beliefs more closely related to it, but I think things still went fairly well. They spent a LONG time thinking about how to respond, before deciding they wanted to burn the warehouse in question to the ground, with his men along with it. They spend a day to scout it out and find out that the warehouse is a functional warehouse dealing in foodstuffs and trade goods, and it also seems to be under the Eye’s protection. If it is owned by a member of the Eye, or the owner just pays decent protection money is rather unclear, but it bears their emblem on it as a “don’t mess with us” sign. Either way this is enough to make them rethink their plan.
They begin to second guess if continuing to escalate is a good idea, especially because they worry Koga could retaliate by burning down their bar, and the letter makes it clear that they are looking for an excuse to go to war, so their plan is to figure out where Koga is and just take him out, simple, right?
None of them have a good idea how to go about this, and no one is willing to make an unskilled wise roll to try and see if they know, so they instead look to circle up and information broker from Uppton’s foreign contacts in the city. Fail, Enmity Clause time!
They find a man known as Mr. R in the back room of an opium den, smoking on a Hooka pipe, not (currently) indulging in the primary drug of the location. They tell him what they want to know, and he informs them he knows that Koga is known to frequent a certain brothel, and visit a certain girl. He could tell them which brothel and which girl and even when he should next head over if he keeps his schedule, but what do they have to offer in return?
They briefly consider trying to trade information about how Tsuyoshi is going to be storing some stuff at their place, but decide it’s not worth the risks of pissing Tsuyoshi off or having someone come to THEIR place to get it. In the end, Uppton tries offering the drugs they took off of Koga’s men as payment. Mr. R considers it, and agrees, noting he has a few contacts who would buy it off him.
The place is called Sakura’s, he gives them the girl’s name and room she is most commonly in. They should next expect him on the 6th, same nigh as the meeting in the warehouse. Axe still wants to go to the warehouse, he’s the one person who has a belief still tied up in that letter, so they make a plan to visit the warehouse first, deal with the guys there, and then go to the brothel and deal with Koga.
We called it there, next time we’ll pick up with them dealing with the warehouse, and assuming they make it out of this night alive, they still have to deal with Richard’s loanshark, and Tsuyoshi’s job is still looming in the background.
Only 24 more days until the rent is due.
Current PaDC score: 20/31 (Another one a bit late that I had to backdate, but it’s still 10/20 somewhere, and I haven’t gone to bed yet so I am gonna count it)
Maguscrusher and the Stories We Tell
This is a story about Torchbearer. This is also a story I really like because I can see kind of things that make roleplaying fun at work when I think about it as a story. This is actually from the same campaign we are playing in the Plague Island time-slot, but most of this story is actually a few months old, from back when it was just a game we ran as filler when someone couldn’t make it.
I play Darlas, the Dwarven Adventurer, and at the time, my only companion was the human fighter, Gurt (might be misspelling that). Gurt and I were exploring this ancient and seemingly abandoned temple of some reptilian people, we’d been dealing with traps and monsters and undead and the like, and weren’t really in the best of shape any more.
There is a central room we have visited a few times contains a pool of some vile fluid that both Gurt and I, although both quite foolhardy, have at least the good sense not to touch. However, as we are leaving and pass once again through this central room, a skeleton warrior wielding an ornate great-axe has found its way in there. Gurt and I put our lives on the line once more and barely manage to defeat this mighty skeleton warrior, it falls into the muck to an unknown fate, but drops the axe in the process.
I inspect the axe, and find it of fine craftsdwarfship (or at the very least it is fine enough that I can pretend it is of Dwarf-make). I keep my old handaxe on my belt, and take this new axe as my own.
We eventually put that place behind us for good, and I hear news from a friend of mine that a wizard’s tower has materialized near the dwarven hold where I was born. As my people have need of me, and Gurt has need of treasures in the Wizard’s tower, we set out to go deal with the vile sorcerer.
We explore the tower, seeking the previous dwarven party that has gone missing in its depths, and eventually come across the tower’s master. He is clearly a magic user of the mad and vile sort, but one of his experiments seems to have gone wrong and trapped him in a circle of salt of his own devising. He is no threat to us while trapped, but our refusal to release him (naturally) angers him. Gurt and I fear the day he devises a method to gain his freedom or another adventuring party is tricked into giving it to him. We consider killing him, but we can not do so without breaking the circle of salt, exposing us to his wrath and freeing him if we fall.
We explore a bit further, but eventually decide that the deed must be done, even if we must place our lives on the line to do so. We engage him in combat, and for an elderly seeming man, he is quite strong, not to mention his magics. Gurt falls, injured, leaving me alone against the wizard. The axe I obtained from the skeleton strikes true, more effective against this wizard that my old axe would have been. I am barely hanging on but I manage to avoid his counterattack, I put everything I have into one final attack, knowing I may not get another chance, and barely manage to place a fatal wound on him, by great-axe digging deeper than my hand-axe could have, and making all the difference in the world. I knew I very well would not have won the day without my new weapon, and thus, decide to grant it a name, Maguscrusher.
Pulling back the curtain just a little, Maguscrusher is just a mundane battleaxe. I honestly could have started the game with a battleaxe if I wanted to, but decided on a hand-axe because, at the time, I didn’t want to deal with the issues that come from lugging around and wielding a 2 handed weapon. The skeleton warrior wielding it was just a wandering monster that came from us mucking about a bit too long and trying to scrounge up some extra loot with skills we weren’t good at. In torchbearer, you have the explicit choice of trying to kill something vs trying to drive it off, with killing being more risky because you are directly putting your lives on the line as a result.
When the GM described the skeleton, he described the axe as “ornate” as mostly a bit of flavor to it, I think the skeleton was that of a high ranking warrior or something like that. I decided I wanted a cool looking axe, so I convinced Gurt’s player to help me kill it because “It was only a Skeleton”, I believe he was injured as a result of that fight as well, but we ended up with the Axe.
The temple and the wizard’s tower were both old school modules (I’ve either never asked or forgotten which ones), but they were both completely unrelated. They made no reference to each other, and there was no special line about the Wizard being weak to the axe wielded by the Skeleton warrior. Battleaxes just do more damage than hand-axes in Torchbearer. When fighting the Wizard, I just happened to get two hits in, with the second exactly taking him out, thanks to the bonus damage I did compared to my handaxe on each of those hits.
No one planed that story. One module writer included “A skeleton with a nice axe” and the other included “A wizard the party can kill or avoid”, but absolutely no one, not the writers, not the GM, and not me, planned “The party needs to get the axe from the skeleton to kill the wizard”. Yet, that’s what happened. It might not be the BEST roleplaying story in the world, but it is still a cool turn of events. A narrative structure that emerged from a wandering monster table, some slightly random player impulses, and a few coincidental rolls of the dice.
The human brain has a wonderful ability to create meaning from random events. Had I rolled more or less successes (and therefore damage) on either of those hits, the bonus damage wouldn’t have mattered, and the fact I was using a battleaxe instead of my hand-axe wouldn’t have mattered as a result. The Skeleton Warrior wouldn’t have fit into the story, it would either have become a story about how we totally just kicked a wizard’s butt, or a story about how we ignored all the warning signs and tried to kill some wizard that was obviously way too strong for us and got ourselves killed. It also could have ended up a story that wasn’t actually worth telling at all. The events with the skeleton and the wizard both forgotten until such a time where incorporating those details made another story more interesting.
It’s these stories, the ones that are formed by our brain from the chaos of mostly random fictional events. The ones that are created by pure confirmation bias and our tendency to notice outliers. The ones that both seemed like they could have gone either way at the time, and yet seem like there was destiny at work in hindsight. Those are the stories that make roleplaying great.
Current PaDC score: 2/31
Previously, on Kaigan (Leaky Bucket Crew Episode 1)
In the time since I last posted about them, both Kaigan and Plague Island reached what basically amounted to the end of Season/Book 1. We’re taking a break from Plague Island to do some Torchbearer in it’s every other weekly slot, but in Kaigan we moved right on to season 2 with a new cast of characters, just having session 1 a while back, and having session 2 scheduled for this Friday.
The new cast is somewhat removed from the old situation, but they’re still in the same city, so there will still be some ripples. As far as our new cast is concerned, the big picture that resulted from the events of Season 1 is that Yamoto Kaito’s Assassin was never caught, although there is evidence that it was someone inside the clan who did it, many inside the clan blame the foreigners. His son and rightful heir, Kenji, was also the target of an assassination attempt on the same day and went into hiding for his own safety, in doing so, he missed the news of his father’s death and his funeral as well. Kenji has his own ideas about building relationships with the foreign organizations, but his inexperience and party boy lifestyle lead some to question his fitness for his father’s position. As a result, the Jade Orchids are divided and in chaos, leaving them rather ineffective in their role as the city’s mediators. And the Rising Dragons and the Eye remain at the verge of going to war.
Our new group consists of the two owners of a bar in the coveted Dock district, Okoi Osoku, Kaigan native, and Upton O. Goode, a foreigner, as well as their main muscle Kenshin “Axe” Ito. The Leaky Bucket is a bar primarily frequented by foreigners and foreign blooded Kaiganese. It does alright, but Okai and Upton supplement their income by using their basement as “discreet storage” for those bringing things into or out of the city that they would prefer to be kept quiet. Finally, they as manage several dealers and turf for narcotics for the Eye, under supervision of a right bastard Tsuyoshi Shinjo. It is this last business that is giving them the most grief at the moment.
Tsuyoshi has a rather “hands off” management style, so long as he gets his cut, factor this in with the fact that a clan war may be pending, and the chaos going on with the city’s mediators, and certain ambitious underlings of his see this as an opportunity to take a piece of their rival’s pies.
Enter, Koga Nobu. Koga’s dealers occupy turf adjacent to the Leaky Bucket Crew, and he certainly has the desire to expand. Lately, street toughs and thugs have been harassing and assaulting our protagonists dealers turf, and while there is no EXPLICIT connection between them and Koga, Koga’s dealers move right in and somehow have no problems with them.
Before the first session, I had the entire party roll resources against their lifestyle obstacles to get a feel for their financial situation. This is normally not a great idea because starting PCs generally need a chance to get some cash to meet their lifestyle. But, in this case, leaving them broke was the point, and everyone involved knew it. Needless to say they all failed. So they started off with guys moving in on their turf, not quite having enough profits to give Tsuyoshi his cut, someone was stealing from the til at the bar, and Axe was going to be on the streets if he didn’t make rent next month.
We started with Tsuyoshi coming for his money. He wasn’t exactly happy with them coming up short, but they managed to convince him that they would get him back, with interest, next time. That wasn’t QUITE enough for him, so he demanded that they do him a favor as well, he wanted to use their storage room for an unspecified item coming in soon. They pushed their luck a bit and tried to get some PAID extra work out of him, but he said it sounded like they had a lot on their plate, and said he’d think about it if they did well on getting him his money next month and looking after his item.
They decided to send Koga a message and went and robbed and killed some of his dealers in the middle of the night. They left the younger one alive to deliver the message, and Axe gave his name (because he wanted to develop a reputation), much to the other’s annoyance (as they were hoping to avoid being PERSONALLY implicated, while still sending a message of some kind). That taken care of, they decided to wait to see Koga’s next play, and spend the next few days reviewing their books and staff records to try and see when money was going missing from the til.
This being before computers and only a partially literate party, it took them a few days to review, but they managed to succeed and narrow it down to a few names. As one of my players put it “In what other game do you get excited over an Accounting roll?”. I hadn’t fully fleshed out the list of suspects yet, so we called it there. This Friday I hope to deal with that, as well as Koga’s response and Tsuyoshi’s job, but we’ll see where the PC’s beliefs take us!
Current PaDC score: 1/31
Kaigan – Session 2 – Murder in the Basement
Last Friday, we got together for Kaigan again. Had to make it work with the convention, but I think we got a fairly good session overall.
We start with Yamoto’s mother charging Ichihara and Rin with finding who killed her son. Both of them agree and head their separate ways to commence their own investigations.
Rin decides he needs to interrogate Takeshi about the killing, and brings him up with him to ring the bell to signal the time of mourning, questions him slightly, but then prays to his god for aide in subduing him. I kind of waffle on this roll for a while, because I wasn’t even really feeling that a roll to subdue this guy would be needed, but getting the blessing from the god WAS important. I think in retrospect I should have been up front in what I was thinking and suggested a “Guidance” roll (or no roll) instead.
Ichihara goes to the meeting room and finds the elders, including his estranged father, trying to calm things down but the Eye and the Rising Dragons are still fighting. He has JUST enough rank where he can get away with speaking up during this meeting, but probably shouldn’t. He FoRKs in a bunch of stuff and manages to convince the two sides to not start anything during the period of mourning. It worked well enough that his dad can’t really say anything negative about it, although he does think Ichihara saying ANYTHING is out of line.
Takezo, meanwhile tries to get some of the Rising Dragon’s lower level grunts drunk and talking. They don’t know anything about the murder of about the burning of The Eye’s ships that the Dragons are supposedly involved in. But they do give him the name of a group of foreigners that they work with.
Ichihara and Takezo meet up, and Ichihara asks Takezo to go check in with Rin, while Ichihara tries to see if anyone can translate those markings on the wall and blade. I ask for a circles test, with some heavy “Here and now” penalties unless he is willing to break the period of Mourning that has just begun. He decides not to go for it as a result.
Takezo and Rin meet up and manage to secretly agree that they are going to take Takeshi to a secret place in the manor and interrogate them there. I ask for a beginner’s luck wise test to know such a place, which they end up failing. There’s an old wine cellar just off the main one, Rin never sees anyone go in there! The two of them convince Takeshi that they need to go down there and get some wine for the meeting.
Ichihara decides he wants to talk to the Rising Dragons as well, and meets with one of their leader’s aides. He again wants a translator, but since this was a meeting between two Kaigan native families there was no need for the Dragons to bring one. He talks with him for a while longer and eventually becomes convinced that this guy doesn’t know anything about the Dragons being involved in burning the eye’s ships, although, given how fractured the Rising Dragons are, it is possible one of the sub clans were acting alone.
Takezo and Rin take Takeshi down to the wine cellar and get the jump on him. They block the door and bind Takeshi and start trying to threaten him, when they hear the sound of someone trying to open the blocked door. Rin hides with Takeshi, while Takezo sees who it is. It turns out people rarely go down here because this is where the higher ups private reserves are kept, and typically only used for special occasions, like when they need to appease some visiting crime bosses.
The maid they sent down to get some of this good wine is curious what Takezo is doing down here, worried that he is stealing wine and she’ll be blamed for it. Takezo gives her some lies, which he fails to convince her of, and then tries to threaten her, which scares her enough to try and flee! He grabs her to stop her from fleeing and then manages to decapitate her!
The two of them then take Takeshi and try to interrogate him for real. Fail. He tells them everything he knows, and then, when that’s not good enough, he starts making stuff up! Eventually they decide to believe his story about it being one of Ichihara’s father’s men who did the deed. Satisfied, they decide to kill Takeshi and try to make it look like a murder-suicide. How effective this will be with the Maid’s head cut off is debatable.
Takezo makes Rin commit the killing blow to Takezo, saying “we’re in this together” and Rin stabs him a few times with the same blade, and then uses the Maid’s dead hands to choke Takeshi as he bleeds out.
We ended there and handed out a reasonable amount of artha, next week will likely mostly be about the fallout of what happened in that wine-cellar.!
Plague Island – Session 1 – The Curse of the Idol
Last Friday we had our first session in the game that is alternating weeks with Kaigan. This one which we’ve been calling Plague Island (Probably not a fully accurate name after we went through situation burning, but I titled a blog post after it so we’re stuck with it now!).
We settled on on a pulpy game set in a fantastical version of colonial times, and the game takes place on a topical island that serves as a sort of pit-stop on the way across the sea. The main focus is on the colonial port town of St. Henry’s, a place that was founded by a Spain analogue (Kuspain), but eventually handed over to our Great Britain analogue (B’ret Shen) as part of the terms of some treaty/deal.
As a result, there are three distinct groups of people present on the island. The Ululak, the native people of this island, generally distrust outsiders, but they mostly live in the deep jungle, and the colonists stay near the shore, so there has not been much conflict recently. The B’ret Shen, who are the new “owners” of the Port, and the Kuspanish who refused to leave ‘Port de San Henriquez’ when it was handed over. Right now, tensions are highest between the British and the Spanish as the B’ret Shen Military rule is trying to assert its control.
More immediately though, several people in town have been falling ill, and then becoming violent and irrational at the later stages of the illness, to the point that they have to be put down like rabid animals. In the midst of all this/as the possible root cause, two of the PCs assisted a B’ret Shen researcher, Dr. Birchwood, in his venture into the jungle, where they entered an ancient Ululak temple and stole a Golden Idol.
Dr. Birchwood has come down with the illness himself, and him beginning to reach the later stages of it is where we start our game. Our principle characters are:
- Namtar: A foreigner from a distant land, a middle-east analogue. Through a series of circumstance Namtar has found himself to be the “Indentured Servant” to Dr. Birchwood. He seeks to forge proof of his freedom and sell the idol to make a life for himself. He is versed in the spirit binding arts of his native land.
- Raul: A Kuspanish Woodsman who fell in love with the natural beauty of the island (and one of its natives). He is strongly against further colonial efforts to expand deeper into the jungle, although served as a guide for Dr. Birchwood’s expedition. He is the only member of the party with no magical talents.
- Anju (my character): Raul’s wife, and a native Ululak. Anju is a neophyte of the religious/magical caste of the Ululak, which invokes the sacred “Rite of Calling” (Summoning). Somehow the native girl is the only one of the trio that can read, and the only one with any resources to her name (even if it is only a b1)
Anyway, we start with Dr. Birchwood getting worse and Raul thinking his wife can help with this, on the basis of they’ve never seen anything like it before and maybe it is an island thing. Namtar tries to ask some of the spirits what is going on, but really only succeeds in pissing them off.
Raul and Anju show up and Namtar tries to hide his circination circles but does a pretty bad job of it, and Anju still notices. Anju, doesn’t really know all that much about the idol or what is going on (thanks Astrology FoRK), but at the very least knows the idol is bad Juju and refuses to have anything to do with it.
At that point, Namtar grabs the idol and Dr. Birchwood appears to “die”, only to get back up and try to claim it from him. Steel tests are failed, and we go through a rather long series of rolls, which took up most of the session but didn’t really accomplish much overall. I was probably most out of it because I rarely even got a chance to throw helping dice in because Anju has no actual combat skills and never was determined to be the primary roller to beginners luck. It was one of those situations where busting out the full system didn’t seem nessicary cause the resolution always seemed like “one roll away
End result is that Namtar escapes the room with the idol, Dr. Birchwood goes after him. Anju tries to tell her husband something along the lines “Forget this guy, let the military deal with it” but fails to hold him back. Raul “kills” Dr. Birchwood, and Anju wants to get out of here to consult with her mentor, but Raul says we should explain ourselves to the authorities. Fine.
Meanwhile, Namtar has made his way down to the docks, and is trying to find someone to buy the idol ASAP. He fails a circles roll and ends up talking to some sailors who try to fleece him, he manages to get them to let him speak to their captain, but the failure consequence is that this guy will WANT the idol, but he is not about to BUY it.
Anju talks to the guards and tries to explain that Dr. Birchwood’s behavior as well as those who have been acting the same way, are the result of a terrible curse brought down by an ancient god. They want her to explain her story to the Admiral and the priest, so they get taken in.
There were some rough patches, and I feel like there were some issues resulting from a mutual miscommunication of the nature of the first scene of the game, but honestly things are shaping up to be interesting and I have high expectations for next time.
Kaigan – Session 1 – The Murder of Yamoto Kaito
Been doing around monthly games of the Gulf of False Hope, would maybe like to do more but it has mostly been falling on me to organize it and provide space for the game. I’m okay with doing that for the most part, but the end result is that we play less then we in theory could be if we actually fell into the true West Marches style, but I think that might be a blog post for another time.
But basically, that’s been the only gaming I have been doing for a while, and while I am still doing that (hope to have another session on Saturday), I’ve got my Burning Wheel itch going again, and so I ended up joining a group based on an advertisement in the Burning Wheel G+ Group (and also was cross posted to the subreddit).
Much like Kento and Maxim’s stories, this group decided to do some alternating week campaigns, although this being a small group rather than two one on one games, a few folks are only playing (at least for now).
I am running one of the two games, and we just had our first session a week ago. The situation for this one revolves around the “Free Trade City of Kaigan”, a city which is effectively ruled by various cartels and draws on stocks from all over the world, effectively a lite version of MonBu City.
I’d been playing a lot of Yakuza when I came up with the pitch, so Kaigan ended up having a lot of eastern trappings and traditionalism ended up playing a bit role in the burning. The players are all part of one of these clans, known as the Jade Orchids. The Orchids are not one of the largest clans in Kaigan, but have traditionally been mediators and peacemakers between the various factions at play within the city. We decided that the Jade Orchid’s legitimacy in this role was drawn on a combination of tradition, they have been around Kaigan and in this role for a long time, and backing of some of the established religious authority in the city, being seen as agents of Shizukana Hoshi (The Tranquil Star).
In recent times, however, improvements in sailing technology has brought many more foreign traders to Kaigan. Traders that are both not well versed in Kaigans traditions, and those that follow foreign gods. In fact, we decided that miracles of faith do not even affect these foreigners, although I think the gods of the established pantheon can affect followers of other gods within the same pantheon (So a Faithful of Athena could affect a follower of Poseidon, but not a follower of Odin or Anubis). These foreigners often don’t see the need to go through the Orchids to cut deals, which has been undercutting the legitimacy of the group as they have yet to be able to put a stop to it.
Our principle cast consists of:
- Rin: a Faithful of Shizukana Hoshi, while publicly one of the in-house preachers, Rin secretly serves the clandestine equivalent of Internal Affairs for the Jade Orchids, run by the elderly mother of the current clan head.
- Takezo: A mid-level enforcer, and bodyguard for the Orchids, Takezo is a true believer in the clan, but more so the traditions and values, rather than the religious aspect, he’s the only PC without the actual Faith trait (There was going to be a
- Ichihara: A son of a branch family from the line of the Clan leaders, Ichihara found his calling as a Faithful follower or another deity in the pantheon, Arashi no Seigi (The Storm of Justice), which gives us the opportunity to also include the spheres rules from the codex. Ichihara is a bit at odds with his parents for not following Shizukana Hoshi, but still is fairly respected overall due to his family standing.
We had agreed in burning that the big event that kicks off the game would be the murder of the clan head during a mediation between two of the major clans of Kaigan, and that seemed like the best place to begin.
I go over what the background for the scene, The Eye, one of the major clans in Kaigan, who does a lot of business in trade/smuggling of questionable goods, has had several of their ships burned, and they blame the Rising Dragons, a collection of many smaller clans that have banded together to compete with the larger ones for influence and territory.
The two representatives from the clans agreed to meet, and for such a large matter, the head of the Jade Orchids, Yamoto Kaito, meditates personally. Some progress has been made, but an impasse had been reached, so Yamoto called for a break and the various leaders retired to separate rooms.
We start play with the three PCs in a room, having been minor parts of the meeting in their own various ways. Suddenly, Takeshi, one of Yamoto’s personal bodyguards, comes in looking seriously freaked out, demanding help. They go with him to Yamoto’s private meditation room, where he often spends breaks during tense negotiations like this one.
They find him on the floor with a knife in his back, dead. A symbol is drawn in blood on the wall, but none of them recognize it. Shinji, Yamoto’s other bodyguard is protecting the body.
Rin tries to invoke Shizukana Hoshi and revive her boss, but refuses a help die from Ichihara because she thinks her god is all that is needed. I’m fully prepared to let this miracle take place, but even if he is freshly dead, he’s still dead, and that is nothing short of a major miracle in my books. 10 successes on starting Faith is just too much to ask, and Rin is subjected to an awful revelation (the person who did the deed was a follower of Shizukana Hoshi as well) and passes out from shock as a result.
Ichihara and Takezo spend some time failing rolls and not getting much in the way of clues, but they do get the story from Shinji and Takeshi. Yamoto regularly retires to this room alone to meditate. Shinji and Takeshi guard the door from the outside. There does not seem to be any way in or out of this room besides the door. They both were outside the door the whole time, and they agree no one went in after Yamoto, until one of the maids, Shinobu, brought Yamoto his regular tea, when the three of them found the body.
They look around the room for hiding places, and while they do find a few potential places where the killer COULD have hidden, no one seems to be there now. They then try to figure out what they are going to do about the meeting with the clan leaders, and Takeshi runs off to go inform the elders.
Rin wakes up and decides that they should wait on that, and chases after Takeshi, and interrogates him a bit at the same time. He kind of breaks down from the stress but sticks to his story. Next Rin tries to get the story from Shinobu, who is very traumatized and the dice aren’t really helping either. She refuses to go see the body again or talk about what she saw, and Rin doesn’t really feel like forcing her. Meanwhile, Ichihara and Takezo try to identify the dagger, but can’t make heads or tails of the strange symbols on it either.
They decide to break the news to Yamoto’s mother, who is also Rin’s boss as the spymaster. Rin and Ichihara go, while Takezo is left with the two bodyguards.
Unfortunately, about now the meeting is scheduled to resume, and Takezo has NO idea what to do about that. He ends up sending Takeshi to go get some of the elders after all and tries to stall for time.
Yamoto’s mother is distraught by the news of her son’s death, but tries to keep it together and help them figure out, still they are not sure if they quite have enough to go on. Still, Rin suggests an old tradition (using doctrine, I think?), of having everyone in the house stay within for a period of mourning after someone respected like Yamoto dies, which would include the representatives from the other clans! The role is passed, so by invoking that tradition, the Rising Dragons and the Eye can’t really complain TOO much, and that should give them more time to investigate.
Unfortunately, Takeshi is the one trying to keep the peace between them, and he REALLY is just muscle for the clan and not actually suited to this sort of thing. He tries to wise up a topic of conversation that will stall and keep things cordial, but it blows up in his face and the two men end up arguably more pissed at each other than they were before the whole thing started.
We called it there and in two weeks (we are skipping out on playing tonight and next week we play the game I am just a player in) we’ll give the PCs a chance to use this tradition to investigate the murder.
Not much artha was given out, but I am beginning to find this normal for the first few sessions of a game unless it is a very tightly focused one shot. Still, hopefully we’ll have a better feel for the characters and be able to dive deeper next time!
GoFH: The Dead in Skogenby
Friday night I had my first session of what I hope to be many set in the Gulf of False Hope setting I have been working on (still working on the next post for it, it’s just been slow going with all the other things I have going on). I won’t be making a habit of writing up play reports for this game if we start doing more of it, mainly because I want the players to be responsible for information sharing between groups in this game, but I promised some people on the Torchbearer G+ group I would tell them how it went.
This session was supposed to be a test run of Torchbearer, as well as a kind of gauge of interest in dungeon crawl type play. My Torchbearer experience was (and still kind of is) rather limited, and everyone I had invited, was either new to Torchbearer, or new to RPGs in general, so I decided to go with one of the official introductory adventures, electing on “The Dread Crypt of Skogenby” over “Under the House of the Three Squires” due to the former being much more likely to be able to be resolved in a single session.
We ended up NOT resolving Skogenby tonight, and, in fact, we didn’t get very far at all. I will not spoil any part of the module that my players did not get to, but spoilers for the early parts we DID get to follow. Continue reading
Kento’s Story – Session 3 – Raid on the Black Onis [End]
I was sick two weeks ago, and Blaine had some important business last week so there was a gap in our games. While we managed to meet this week, shifting schedules meant that this would be the last of Kento and Maxim’s games, at least for the foreseeable future. We started late, and we wanted to make this a good session to end on, so we didn’t really go into beliefs and such, because there was only one goal that mattered.
Rescue Yabe Nana.
We start off right where we left off 4 weeks ago, Kento had just gotten a letter from Sone Baba, his pirate friend, that his boat had been attacked, and the girl had disappeared in the struggle. Now, at one point I think I had a plan of exactly where she was and why, but at the time I only recalled the vague outline, but I ran with it.
The first thing Kento does is prostate himself before his uncle, confessing to his negligence and promising to make it right. The Yabe clan chief tells him to go deal with it. If he returns with his Granddaughter safe and sound, all will be forgiven, but “otherwise, don’t come back at all”.
Kento wants to circle up a pirate who can help him figure out who took Nana. I set the ob at 3 (1 base +1 lower station, +1 specific knowledge). Failure. My go to with failed circles is having them find the guy, but they’re gonna sell the PC out at the first opportunity. It’s not a bad failure condition for circles in my opinion, but since I knew it was the last session, I should have brought it to the front quicker.
Anyway, Kento meets this pirate captain, Shun. A bit of back and forth and Kento reveals that this group attacked Sone Baba’s ship, took a VIP, and is probably working with the Hirafune. Shun thinks he knows who Kento is talking about, and where they might be found, but he wants something for it. Kento tries to intimidate him into talking, but fails. Shun offers to take him there with his crew, but says if they don’t get enough loot out of the bargain, they’ll get it out of a ransom for him and Nana.
Kento reluctantly agrees, and sails downriver with Shun and his crew. They land where the river cuts through a swamp and begin a trek inland. I pause a bit to describe the stench and the sensation of shoes getting stuck in the muck, but eventually they see a wooden fortress in the distance. Kento tells Shun’s crew to wait for the signal and that he’ll go in first.
He scouts around looking for a good point of entry, but has to make do with a difficult one that involves trekking through chest high swamp water and still climbing the wall between two sentries. He manages to make the stealthy roll and gets inside and manages to kill one of the sentries and throw his body over the side. He takes the guy’s mask and tries to light the wall on fire, but only manages to get a small part of it.
Still it causes a commotion, but unfortunately he gets himself caught up in a bucket line with some of the bandits trying to put things out. Through a bit of luck he manages to sneak into one of the buildings and finds himself in the mess/meeting hall of the bandits, a few men are using the tables to play dice but he convinces them to go help with the fire. He then barricades the door with a table, and checks out the building. The main floor has the mess, kitchen and pantry, while upstairs has the barracks. He decides he wants into the pantry but it turns out it is locked. He fails the roll to bust down the door, and so I decide that he DOES manage to get it open, but it takes him multiple attempts and made enough noise to wake up some of the bandits upstairs.
He very quickly grabs what alcohol he can find and smashes it on the floor to start another fire. He then tries to run out the door, but finds it blocked by a table. He’s not quick enough to remove it before the bandits catch up to him and pull their knives.
We do a quick Bloody Vs. Him with brawling, and the Bandits with their knives skills and bonuses for numbers. The dice favor Kento and we say it went down like one of those scenes in a kung-fu movie where the group of thugs just attack one or two at a time and get owned, with one of those moves being him using that bucket from the bucket line he still had and getting right over someone’s head. He tosses those guys into the fire and then moves quickly to another building.
This one is a small number of prison cells, mostly empty. Inside there only seems to be one of the Black Onis sleeping off a bit too much to drink, and the captain of the boat Nana was on. Kento asks him where Nana is, and he said he is in their leader’s lodgings, but wants Kento to help get him out of here. Kento agrees, but can’t find the keys, it seems the jailer took them when he went to go help fight the fires. Kento promises to help, but he has to get Nana first, and the captain agrees to that, although reluctantly.
Kento makes it to the leader’s buildings, and finds some guards inside. These ones don’t seem too keen on leaving their post for some pesky fire, and so Kento cuts them down.
He comes face to face with the Bandit leader, who is annoyed, but ready for a good scrap. I knew what sort of weapon I wanted for this guy, one of those really huge spiked club things. I think the Kanabo was the correct choice, but in the heat of the moment looking things up I got the impression that it was a listing for a smaller, one handed club. I ended up using the SQ Hammer stats from BWG. For his stats, I ended up using the Lizard Man stat block. In retrospect, the leader of the Black Onis should have been an actual Oni! However, I didn’t think of it in the moment, and I think things worked out anyway.
We do a full Fight! The first exchange has this neat thing where they exchange blocks and strikes. I only put the bandit leader in 1d armor, but it works out for him, netting him only a superficial. The second round Kento’s armor deflects a powerful blow from his club, and Kento gets int he second superficial on the guy, but no major blows yet.
In the third exchange, I have him shift into an aggressive stance, and prepare a great strike, Kento sneaks in a strike during his wind up for the great strike, and manages to roll 5 successes! It’s a superb hit but Kento’s weapon has no VA and I have 2 armor dice., both of them come up traitors and that superb hit is a mortal wound. I describe the bandit leader raising his mighty club above his head ready for a mighty strike and Kento using that opportunity to drive his sword through the Bandit’s heart! He takes the leader’s head and finds Nana in the next room.
Nana is fine, (since these bandits were working for Kento’s uncle) but not entirely grateful to the person who, in her mind, got her into this mess in the first place! Still, she’s rather go with him than stay here so the two try to sneak out the same way Kento got in. Unfortunately, the whole camp is now active, both fighting the fire, and fighting off Shun’s crew who took the fire as their cue. I give Kento some advantage dice but they don’t help.
His route takes him by the windows of the jail, and its captive calls out to Kento expecting him to honor his promise to rescue him. Kento tries to pry the wood from the walls and let him out that way, but without proper tools it proves too difficult for him. The pirate captain suggests he get the keys from the jailer. Kento agrees, but, not wanting to fight all these bandits, decides to use the head of their leader and claim leadership of the Black Onis.
Burning Wheel conveniently lists the Conspicuous obstacle forgetting everyone’s attention in the middle of a battle, it’s 5. Kento does NOT roll 5 successes, and so he only gets a few people’s attention, and while they WILL grab their friend’s attention, they are not about to do so to declare Kento their new leader!
Unfortunately, it had gotten late, and as much as we would have liked to get to a better wrap up point, that cliffhanger will have to do. We even skipped artha, which we’ll have to do if we ever meet again to continue Kento’s story because he is OUT. For now at least, this is where Kento (and Maxim’s) story ends. It was a fun series of games, and I might do another blog post sometime in a bit about my impressions of 1 on 1 Burning Wheel overall, but I will say I would totally do it again!
Maxim’s Story – Session 03 – Into the Fire [End]
This was a fun session. I need to say that first, because I am likely going to spend a lot of time complaining about things that went wrong. But I did have fun, so lets clear that up first.
We pick up right where we left off, the church had just erupted in Sorcerous Fire, and Maxim did not know where Anya was. The explosion had knocked the barricaded door off of its hinges and so Maxim braved the flames to get inside. Inside there was a body, and no one else. The place was not safe, so Maxim got close enough to determine the body was not a woman, and got out of there before the building fell down on him. The arcane fire died down, and so Maxim checks where Anya was posted.
He finds signs of a struggle, one of her daggers, and a taunting message scrawled in blood, great. He follows footprints in the snow until they abruptly end. He stands there for a while, trying to figure out his next move, when he hears a voice call out to him. It turns out to be Breven, who is armed with a crossbow. They talk for a bit, turns out he is with the masked man that Maxim killed earlier. Maxim admits it, but gets frustrated with the whole conversion, and asks Breven to help him find his friend or shoot him, and Breven agrees to help (perhaps wanting another sword arm to take down Nikita).
Breven uses some magic (of course he is a wizard as well) and is able to continue following the tracks. Maxim fails a forte test against exhaustion and cold and is going to be at an obstacle penalty until he rests. They find more bandits, Maxim fails a roll and kills an unknown guy in one of their tents, but they manage to take them out. The one surviving bandit doesn’t want to talk and Maxim gets pissed and tries to torture the guy (which he is not good at), mangling his hand, and knocking him out. They investigate the dead guy, and Maxim identifies him as a noble. He might have known something, but Maxim is not in the mood to feel too bad about it. He takes everything valuable he can find while they plot their next step. Maxim is actually up to 8 cash die at this point, so pay wise this job wasn’t that bad.
They have no leads, so when Alexi comes and tells Maxim the village is on fire, much like what happened at the church. Maxim reluctantly goes back to help. He meets Sergey in town who asks him to help organize a bucket line, but Maxim knows that won’t really help with magic fire, and he spots a group of strange men in the distance, assumes the wizard’s gotta be with them, and so he rides towards them on a Militia Horse.
There is Nikita with some of his goons, and he has Anya tied up. Maxim wants to negotiate for her, and Nikita asks what’s a shitty mage like her to him. Maxim doesn’t want to admit that she is basically the only friend he’s got at the moment (she is), and he certainly isn’t going to say he loves her (he might). He wanted to not seem too desperate about it.
So he says “She’s a good fuck”, which is hugely insensitive especially given Anya’s background, but it is what he says. Whoops. Nikita doesn’t seem to want to negotiate for her, so he just suggests he’ll see that for himself and tries to leave. Maxim stopped giving a shit about the possibility of getting help from this guy right then. I shoot him in the back.
Or rather, I try to. I spend some artha to shake off my exhaustion for the scene, like you would a wound. I put my will to live persona into my Bow skill. I BARELY make the roll.
…And he no-sells it. This was bad Burning Wheel play. I think one of us (not necessarily Blaine) should have caught it. What happened right there was that I only succeeded at my task, hitting him with an arrow, not my intent, killing the fucker. I actually don’t know WHY the arrow did nothing, might have been armor, might have been magic. But whatever it was it should have either increased the obstacle, or I should have been told it wasn’t a valid intent (because magic) and we could have just gone directly to the no-sell. We both got caught up in the moment over the particulars of the rules right there, which happens, but the game would likely have been better (or at least a more satisfying use of my last persona) had we followed them more closely.
I then get in a Fight! with this guy. I won’t go into the blow by blow but I get off my horse for the sole reason that I don’t want to get into the mounted combat rules. I also waste two actions cutting Anya free which I take a Midi at the end of. Now, I was fine with this, Maxim’s only real goal was to free Anya, if he HAPPENED to get out of this fight intact as well, that was just a bonus. I make it to the end of the round, fails to disengage, just barely, but my horse would likely have made it. I take a 2nd midi, which knocks Maxim out.
He wakes up some time later in what’s left of the town with the various friendly NPCs looking after him, his wounds have been treated, but have not closed. He asks for Anya and she got taken again. It’s annoying because Maxim had a pretty good block and strike situation set up, which, if he had used that from the beginning instead of cutting her free to apparently no use, he might have won.
He tries to stand, fails, and tries again. Eventually he gets up and starts putting his armor back on and getting his things together. He’s told he should rest (and at -2 dice he really really should), but he asks Breven if the Winter Wolves (their unit in the war), ever left a man behind. Breven admits they didn’t and offers to go with Maxim, his group is trying to take out Nikita as well after all. Maxim welcomes the help and we call it there.
I at the very least get a nice handful of artha for all of this, but that is all likely going to the health tests I still have to make, and it is likely going to be a bit of a rough road ahead. Maxim has a handful of skills he simply can’t use because of his injuries and most of the remaining skills are at b2 until he recovers. The upside being, if he survives long enough, he’ll likely earn some sweet stat tests between now and then. There were definitely some shaky spots near the end there where I think our communication/rules mastery could have been better, but I do want to reiterate that I did have fun overall.