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.!

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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.

 

Kento’s Story – Session 2 – The Kidnapping of Yabe Nana

Session 2 of Kento’s story and our first full-length one! We do a quick recap of what happened in our last session and dive back into it.  Kento wants to determine if he knows something he can use against Koji Kohaku.  I called for a Beginner’s Luck Koji-wise test, and he managed to make it.  I kind of had a picture in my head about what Kohaku was like, so I laid it out for Blaine.  Kohaku is an honorable man, perhaps to his own determent, Kento might be able to leverage that.

He goes into the Magistrate’s office and demands that Ichiro be turned into his custody, claiming he is wanted for several serious offenses in Yabe territory and that the Yabe Clan-chief has the greatest claim to him.  He completely botches the falsehood check, and can tell that Kohaku does not believe him in the slightest.  Kohaku will not publicly question a fellow Samurai’s honor, yet, with all that he knows, the pieces of the puzzle are sliding into place.

He releases Ichiro into Kento’s custody, and “generously” offers some of his men to escort Kento and Ichiro to the edge of Koji lands.  Ichiro asks about his wares, but Kento can’t secure too much more than his cart for a “wanted criminal”.  On the way back he tries to question Ichiro and Kasumi, but Ichiro knows nothing and Kasumi doesn’t really want to talk business in front of her husband.  Still, she assures him that his uncle will get what he paid for.

Kento’s uncle eventually sends for him, and asks him for his accounting of the events.  He’s not entirely pleased with how things turned out, but he seems to have gotten at least some useful information.  Kento asks him what was in that ledger, and Tengan Tennak simply tells him he can go.

We take a look at Kento’s beliefs at this point.  He honestly has some decent ones about killing his uncle and taking power for himself, but they were lacking in immediate action, unless he wanted to ride out and assault his uncle’s holding then and there (which would have been sweet, but probably futile). It wasn’t a huge deal, because I had another task in mind from Tengan Tennak for us to cut to, but it was something that was worth calling attention to.

A week goes by, and we are once again in Tengan Tennak’s tea room.  As I had been describing it every time these two men met in there, only once the tea had been served and the maids had left does Tengan Tennak get down to business.  He says it has been decided (and the tone implies not by him), that one of his granddaughters, Yabe Nana will be getting married.  The Groom being Hirafune Yuuki, Kento’s cousin and Koan’s son and heir.  Tradition mandates that the head of the Hirafune be married to a Yabe, and Nana’s marriage to Yuuki would further legitimize Koan’s line of succession.

Tengan Tennak asks nothing of Kento during this meeting, merely saying he wanted him to be one of the first to know.  He happens to point out that if something were to happen to the bridal procession, say, in Hirafune territory, he knows Nana has friends in the Imperial City.  If she were to flee there for her safety, she would be out of Koan’s reach.  He then spends the rest of the meeting talking about how they grow up so fast, and things of that nature.

Kento wants to circle up a mercenary, a disgraced Bushi.  I set the obstacle at 3 (1 base, +1 lower station, +1 time requirement, having to be ready to go before the Bridal Procession), unfortunately, his circles is only B2.  He manages a linked test and throws a point of Persona into the roll, and all come up successes!  He names this guy Iha Yasuro, a bushi from a family that sided against Koan during the coup.  He greets Kento as a friend and they drink together as they discuss business.

He can get 5 guys ready to go, and he’ll cut Kento a deal.  He’ll do it for 50 (we realize we aren’t really sure of the proper units of currency, but we call it an ob 3 resources test).  Kento wants to work carefully, taking time to try and get all the money together… And still fails.  I tax him down to a B1 resources, but I do give him the gift of kindness.  Still it doesn’t give Iha much time to get the group together, and they are rushing to catch up to the procession as they leave.

I rule that they manage to get ahead of them, barely, but don’t have enough time to find a particularly good spot for an ambush.  Kento tests Warcraft to try to make the best of it, and manages to succeed, using himself as a decoy while the mercenaries get into position.  He stands in the middle of the road and acts as a bandit, while the honor guards draw their bows.  He rushes them and we come to a Bloody Vs.  I give him advantage dice for the ambush but I give the enemy a few as well (Numbers, longer weapons, horses).  The guards manage to win, and so while I say Kento manages to get a few of them, the rest, including Nana’s carriage, manage to speed through and take off down the road.

It turns out Blaine forgot to factor in Kento’s armor into his defensive roll for the BV, so I let him roll it to negate the arrow that hit him, which he manages to pass, although his armor is damaged as a result.  He rolls a wise to try and discover where that procession will stop next, success leads him to a small village.  The town is on alert and so he has the mercenaries pull some of the local militia away and use the distraction to sneak in.  Success gets him to the window to the room where Nana is staying.

He is wearing a mask, so Nana is frightened by him at first, but he pulls it off and convinces her to tell the guards it was nothing.  He says he is here to rescue her, and she is rather confused by that.  Apparently she was not in on this whole plan.  He tries to convince her that Yuuki is basically the devil, and can not make that untrained persuasion check.  She says she doesn’t really get all that political stuff between Kento and her Grandfather, but she knows she could do a lot worse than the wife of the next clan chief.  Kento then tells her she can come willingly or he will take her anyway and give her to bandits, geez!  He’s actually trained in intimidation so he manages to scare her into silence.

I decide that now having a hostage in tow that would betray him at the first opportunity she thought would be successful is enough of a change in the situation that his first stealth test to get into the village no longer rode.  He weighs his options, but he is mostly looking at a hefty obstacle penalty either way.  When that penalty is factored into the guard’s observation he ends up looking at obstacle 5.  Though some miracle and I think the last of his artha he manages to make it and meets up with his mercenaries outside of the village.  I roll a die of fate for them to see if they took losses, and they didn’t.

Kento takes Nana down river and they meet with an underling of Sone Baba, Kento’s relationship among the river pirates.  He pens a letter to his relative in the capital asking them to ensure Nana got to Tengan Tennak’s friends and called it good.  Now, I had assumed that Kento would be going along on this boat trip and knew that they would encounter trouble along the way.  So when the pirates asked for payment and he failed to properly assure them they would be paid later, I knew exactly what would be the result of that low morale.

Kento returns to the Yabe estate to rest up and determine his next act of sabotage against his uncle.  A little while later, a letter from Sone Baba arrives, informing him that, as far as Sone Baba can tell, a rival group of pirates attacked the ship.  Several of his men have been slain, and Nana is no where to be found.

We call it there and do Artha, this time a few persona and a few fate are handed around and it is a somewhat decent haul.  We forgot to do situational Honor and Shame tests, (and I think Kento may have earned a few of the latter), but we’ll pick them up next time.  We’re still finding our rhythm with these two games, but I honestly think they’ve been going pretty well and we are on track to get even better!  It’s back to Maxim next week, and then after that we will deal with the fallout of Nana’s abduction.