A Collection of Short Session Recaps

What follows is a resurrection of a blog post I wrote a year and a half ago.

It has been awhile since my last Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker session report.  We have had a horrific time getting together to play. Life schedules can be such a hyrda.

After OnusBone’s comments on my Dungeon World Kickstarter announcement, I feel like I should continue writing the session reports.

Wedding Day Redux

Unfortunately most of this is lost.

Tackling the Tower

This session felt different.  Joe, the game master, came with a set of puzzles/trap rooms that we were going to have to navigate to the basement of the tower.  There were several rooms with physical challenges and numerous ability and skill tests.

So many that poor Margaret, still recovering from her Midi wound managed to advance both Speed and Power both to B5 – Margaret made some ridiculously lucky checks to avoid catastrophe.

The session worked rather well…the consequences for failure were rather obvious (i.e. don’t fall, don’t drown, etc.)  And here is where I note something, that I think, is interesting; But more on that later.

We’re Going to Need Another Researcher

We spent the first few hours regaining some of our traction from a long interlude. With such a long hiatus, it was somewhat natural.  Unfortunately, trying to restart a campaign in a library doing research is not quite starting en media res.

We didn’t learn much through the tower library – I believe we learned about the burial place of our grandfather.  However, while others were researching, Margaret did work at instructing her niece and nephew in Butchery – using Beginner’s Luck to work at opening Child-Rearing.

Through Astrology, Margaret did divine the location the Redguard’s portion of the map; We were going go back to where Julia was originally captured.  The family decided it was time to return to the capital.

First Casting

Margaret survived her first casting of Flame Breath with only a whimper. Alas the details have long since been forgotten.

Observations

Contrast the consequences of a failed physical test vs. a failed “mental” test.  We intrinsically understand what a failed physical test means…you fall, you get hurt, etc.  We are able to map our player understandings to the character’s world.  However, what does a non-physical failure look like?  We don’t learn something, we stop, we get caught, etc.

In the case of climbing, the consequence wasn’t “You can’t climb it” the consequence was “You fall”.  As I see it there are three outcomes of a climb test: “You climb it”, “You are stuck somewhere” and “You fall”.

Compare that to the failed “Research” test.  As a player, I was at the end of my patience concerning information.  We were in a freaking old library of the characters’ grandfather who was a guardian of that which we were trying to learn about.  And we learned nothing.  So when Peter and Anna, Peter’s wife, failed their research test we got a big fat “You learn nothing.”  Then what was the point of the test? Why did Anna get to mark a test for her Research?

If I were at the helm, choosing the consequence for failed research I would have started with “Okay if you fail the test, you’ll learn how to find the portal, but you won’t like the price.”  Then with the failed research, I would’ve had them stumble upon a passage that said “To reveal the portal to the next generation of guardians, the first born of the new generation must be sacrificed.”  Or some such ominous thing.  After all, every single characters’ belief is tied to protecting their family. The stakes are high so keep them elevated.

Without consequences of failure in the “mental” arena, test mongering becomes standard. In fact, I fired off a string of successive Astrology tests out of frustration and desperation, knowing that the consequences for failing an OB10 test was “And I mark a Challenging Test.”  In fact, without Astrology, we would be completely lost…but it is an unreliable means of advancing the story.

An astute reader of the Sorcery section will notice that tests already have backed in complications.  Especially when attempting a First Reading.

So, in an attempt change my micro-culture I’m going work hard to demand a consequence before I roll for a test. I ask that players in my games, be they Burning Wheel or otherwise, do the same.  I think this method of positing two outcomes before determining one is good practice as well as helpful in getting the creative elements going.  We build our narratives not only on the paths we take, but by those we’ve considered taking.

Success and Failure in Role-Playing Games

My go to campaign systems has been Burning Wheel.  I’ve written quite a bit about it, but I’ve still got more to write about.  This comes in response to my experience on both sides of the GM screen.  One observation that I’ve had about our Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker campaign is that failing “mental” tests do not have consequences – or more appropriately the consequence for failing a test is that the state of the game does not change.

Before I get to far, lets break down the types of tests into three categories.

  • Character vs. Environment – Climb a wall, jump a chasm
  • Character vs. Character – Dupe someone, sneak past someone
  • Character vs. Exposition – Search the room, research forgotten lore

In the case of Character vs. Environment and Character vs. Character, we as players intrinsically understand the potential complications that come from failure.  If we don’t successfully jump the chasm, we will fall and end up somewhere unexpected.  If we don’t successfully sneak past the guard, the alarm will likely be raised.

In the case of Character vs. Exposition, what are the potential complications of failure? As a person, when I don’t succeed at learning about something, I end up “back where I started” with one door closed. But this isn’t real life…why settle for a closed door?

I am a firm believer that anytime the dice are rolled, especially in Character vs. Exposition, that the state of the game should change. That is to say some new revelation should come to light even as a result of failure.  The nature revelation is fully informed by the success or failure of the corresponding test.

However, the Character vs. Exposition is the hardest one to negotiate. As a person, I am not aware of what my failures vs. Exposition are. I just don’t expose what I was after.  So perhaps we need a list of potential complications related to Character vs. Exposition.

Quick Survey of Game Systems

The Gumshoe system addresses this by stating that investigative skills always work…but it is up to the players to interpret these things.

In Houses of the Blooded, the tests are so easy to succeed at, but it is the wagers that quite literally define the investigations.

In Dungeon World, the game master gets to make a move.  Something is going to change when failure happens.

In Burning Wheel, every failed test should have a pre-negotiated complication. Otherwise, skills advance with little consequence.

What Got Me Going

In our Butcher, Baker, and Candlestick Maker campaign, our group had access to a massive library that was created by the characters’ grandfather. The characters wanted to look up information concerning the magical portal that their grandfather had protected, as well as several other topics.

The characters attempted a handful of “Research” tests, and failed. The result was a frustrating “You learn nothing” and “Mark a difficult Research test.”

As a player, I was at the end of my patience concerning information.  We spent several days in the library to learn nothing.  I asked myself what was the point of the test? Why did some of the characters get to mark a test for her Research?

If I were at the helm, choosing the consequence for failed research I would have started with “Okay if you fail the test, you’ll learn how to find the portal, but you won’t like the price.”

With the failed research, I would’ve had them stumble upon a passage that said “To reveal the portal to the next generation of guardians, the first born of the new generation must be sacrificed.” Or some such ominous thing.  After all, every single characters’ belief is tied to protecting their family. The stakes are high so keep them elevated.

This is why the Adventure Burner beats it through your skull to separate Task from Intent.

Without consequences of failure in the Character vs. Exposition arena, test mongering becomes standard. In fact, I fired off a string of successive Astrology tests out of frustration and desperation, knowing that the consequences for failing even an OB10 test were going to be “And I mark a Challenging Test.”  In fact, without Astrology, we would be completely lost…but it is an unreliable means of story exposition.

A particularly astute reader of the Sorcery section will notice that tests already have backed in complications.  Especially when attempting a First Reading.

So, in an attempt change my micro-culture I’m going work hard to demand a consequence before I roll for a test. I ask that players in my games, be they Burning Wheel or otherwise, do the same.  I think this method of positing two outcomes before determining one is good practice as well as helpful in getting the creative elements going.  We build our narratives not only on the paths we take, but by those we’ve considered taking.

P.S. After enough closed doors and brick walls, most every player I know will eventually throw caution to the wind. In this case, my character recklessly sought out a poisoner, committed arson, and dangerously attempted to cast her first reading of Flame Breath. I’ve been playing games a very long time, and this kind of behavior is what leads to TPKs and wilting campaigns…as the players may very well be looking for sweet release.

P.S.S. VSCA‘s hopefully upcoming Soft Horizon may address this in another interesting way. From Brad Murray on a limited thread on Google+ –

“I am taking a more general approach: if you are rolling a simple check to succeed, then failure means a conflict in which you are at genuine risk. If a check is not worth a conflict, then you succeed.

A conflict could be lost, but the objective of the check successful (ie. you open the chest but the trap rips your arm off). My preference is for the more extreme: you fail to figure out the Machine and it tries to take over your brain.”

Floundering Around the Burning Wheel

Presently I’m running one Burning Wheel campaign and playing in another.  I feel both of them are circumventing portions of the game.

First, we rarely do proper Artha awards.  Instead of setting aside time at the end, we prefer to play until the last minute.  By the time we wrap up the session the kids are tired or others need to get to our next obligation, we only do a very simple Artha awards sequence.  Typically, we hand out 2 Fate and 1 Persona, then look for anything exemplary.

It’s not rules as written and it certainly feels awkward and shameful.  Ultimately, I believe we do these shameful things because character’s beliefs are not tying into the game.  This is a group failing.

In the case of Bloodstone, I provided the introduction for everyone to tie into. I didn’t work as closely with all of the players to make sure their beliefs tied into the game.  We don’t have a laser-like focus.  As such, there are some characters, namely Remy and Holden, who are typically more peripheral to the game.  Granted, negotiating beliefs for 5 characters of differing experience and age is challenging to begin with.

In the case of the Butcher, Baker, and Candlestick Maker, we had a vision of how our characters were connected, but those characters were made in a knowledge vacuum.  We certainly knew about the Crypt of the Slug Mother, but as players we didn’t know where the campaign was going.

These failings leave us in a somewhat jumbled mess, as some characters are floundering for their spot in the story.

One notable difference that I’m seeing between the two campaigns is the concept of complications.

I am perfectly content letting my players come up with many things…if they succeed on a test; Let them scavenge for anything, make Dark Secret-wise tests, attempt to console their companion…but I hope they know that a failed test will give me ammunition.  Sort of like roll a 6 or less in Apocalypse World, I now get to make a Hard Move.

Contrast with the Butcher, Baker, and Candlestick Maker, where several test failures are met with “Nothing Happens.”  And in a handful of cases, success could be distilled to “Nothing Happens.”  Which sucks.

The key thing I’ve learned is, let the characters propose actions.  If you don’t want to see it happen, make a high Obstacle.  Let the players then figure out how to reach for it.  If they succeed, give it to them.  If they fail…make a Hard Move.

Personally, a test should change the state of the game, and I believe other game players would agree.  Apocalypse World and it’s brilliant derivative Dungeon World, hard-code this in the moves.  In order to truly change the state of the game, you have to make a move – in Burning Wheel it would be make a test.  Think about it…in Settlers of Catan the state of the game changes when the dice are thrown…some people get new resources, others might get robbed.

It has taken a bit for me to more readily see the possible complications of a test.  It’s not that I wasn’t doing it before, its just now, I’m willing to throw things out there and let a player decide how hard they want to push for a success.  Its a calculated negotiation between players that directly impacts their characters.

What I’ve found to be best for running my Burning Wheel game has been to review the agenda, principles, and moves of Dungeon World (Get the Basic Rules PDF for $5).

In short, follow these guidelines, in order:

  • What the rules demand
  • What the adventure demands
  • What honesty demands – be open and honest
  • What the principles demand
    • Draw maps, leave blanks
    • Address the characters, not the players
    • Embrace the fantastic
    • Make a move that follows
    • Never speak the name of your move
    • Give every monster life
    • Name every person
    • Ask questions and use the answers
    • Be a fan of the characters
    • Think dangerous
    • Begin and end with the fiction
    • Think offscreen, too

I’ve already illustrated the moves of Dungeon World and Apocalypse World.  It’s not that I didn’t do those things before, its simply that the above outline is sort of like a liturgical invocation; a chance to set aside other thoughts and consider what the players demand; An enjoyable time with friends.

Make a Decision Already

I sometimes struggle with analysis paralyses.  I’m looking at you restaurant menus and complex strategy games.

In the last session of the Butcher, Baker, and Candlestick Maker, we ended the session with an interesting Duel of Wits.  Chase, Peter, and Margaret were going to ensure Julia marries William.  And the Duel of Wits turned ugly fast.

As a player, I wanted to advance certain skills and abilities.  My character, however, wanted to make sure that her sister’s wedding went through as originally agreed.  And there was beautiful tension of player and character.  As the duel of wits spiralled into the dark corners of a pyrrhic victory, I was marking off tests for various skills and dishing out slander against Julia’s future in-laws.

And in this tension, I’ve discovered more about my character Margaret.  She is oblivious to the ramifications of her words…Misunderstood perhaps.  She’s very rash when it comes to “protecting her family” and will pull no punches.

Take a moment to read Luke Crane’s micro-interview from RPG Countdown’s “Best of 2011.”

We came to the climax of the [three year] game and every player was chewing his beard or gnawing on his knuckles going, “Oh God, I don’t wanna do this thing…but I can’t…but I should.” Burning Wheel Gold gets you to that point. When you have those conflicts and they are rewarded, [Burning Wheel Gold] loves it. It doesn’t care what decision you make, it just wants you to make a decision.

For my RPGs I want what Luke’s talking about – meaningful decisions.  Decisions that shape future direction of the game…Decisions that are not easy, but show the mettle of a character.   But here in lies a tension with meaningful decisions comes the potential for analysis paralysis.

But, if the decision is important enough – related directly to a character’s belief – then there should be some gnashing of teeth and grinding of gears.  Characters are forged in the fires of adversity.

Contrast this with D&D 4E.  I’ve witnessed player turns in various D&D 4E games that took far too long – I don’t need to witness 3 minutes of decision making paired with 3 minutes of action resolution for a single player.  If you are aware of the math in D&D 4E, any single decision doesn’t carry that much weight – there are no Save or Die spells.

In D&D 4E, the weight of your tactical decision is inversely proportional to the number of hit points you have remaining.  This encodes a narrative ebb and flow.  Early, there is little tension, and as hit points are lost, the tension increases.

Whereas in Burning Wheel, the advice for tension regarding tests is based on how close a test cleaves to a belief.  If a test is directly related to a Belief, the stakes should be very high.

I’m willing to sit back and watch someone deliberate about a test for something they believe in…a meaningful test.  I want to better understand their character.  I can take those insights and as a player or game master fold them back into the ongoing campaign.

 

Dual Duel of Wits and Dangerous Stakes

Released

  • Chase, Margaret, and their sister Julia were released from Inquisitor Cedric’s captivity.
  • Peter received an order for a cake delivery in two weeks. An important client whom he couldn’t disappoint.
  • Margaret and Peter argued about leaving promptly to the family’s village…after all there was a wedding that needed to happen.
  • Eventually, Peter agreed to enchant the cake so it wouldn’t spoil.
  • Peter was going to extract the immortality essence of the slain imp, with the goal of enchanting the cake so it wouldn’t spoil until cut.
  • Peter worked diligently, while Chase and Margaret gathered information about the dwarf.

About the Town

  • Chase and Margaret learned the dwarf’s name: Brick.
  • Brick was marauding through all of the taverns, inciting destructive bar brawls.
  • With a bit of investigation they found the likely location of Brick’s next tavern.
  • Back at the bakery, Peter was successful in his extraction, enchanting, and baking. I can only imagine what the failed consequences of a failed enchantment would’ve been when using imp’s blood as a component.
  • That evening, Peter, Chase, and Margaret went out for a night on the town.
  • Peter, Chase, and Margaret decided to stake out each of the taverns.
  • Margaret worked to circle up someone who had been tortured by Inquisitor Cedric…and failed, invoking the enmity clause.
  • As the tortured man came into the bar, Brick also came into the bar.
  • Margaret quickly gathered her siblings to return to the bar.
  • Brick was drinking…Chase joined in the drinking…and Margaret approached the tortured man.
  • Margaret attempted to seduce the tortured man, which failed, but did increase her Will from B5 to B6.

Duel of Wits – the First

Margaret: “I want you to tell me everything you know about Cedric and work with me to bring down Cedric’s.”

The Tortured Man: “Eat something I cook then go away.”

Duel of Wits: Margaret vs. The Tortured Man
Margaret The Tortured Man
Volley Action Disposition Action Disposition
1 Feint 6 Obfuscate 11
2 Point 6 Avoid 11
3 Avoid 6 Point 11
4 Obfuscate 6 Obfuscate 11
5 Point 6 4 Rebuttal 11 9
6 Avoid 4 2 Rebuttal 9
7 Feint 2 Obfuscate 9
8 Rebuttal 2 Obfuscate 9
9 Obfuscate 2 Rebuttal 9
10 Feint 2 Avoid 9 6
11 Rebuttal 2 Obfuscate 6
12 Feint 2 0 Rebuttal 6

Compromise: Julie agreed to eat some of his food, in exchange for information about inquisitor Cedric.  She learned that he works directly under the regent, doesn’t go out, part of failed noble house, lives in the barracks with the guards. Of course the tortured man poisoned her.

Meanwhile

  • Chase is drinking with Brick Redguard, son of Clay, son of Loam (a bit of ancestral improv that I suggested).
  • Brick mentioned that Julia was at the bakery.
  • Brick was pushing drinks very fast. With Chase’s accelerated metabolism, due to his magic blue box, he was quickly knocked out.
  • We had an interesting exchange, how to resolve the poison Margaret was administered. Eventually we settled on opening “Resist Poison”, a Forte-based skill. The obstacle was OB3, doubled to OB6 for beginners luck, to resist the B7 wound.
  • Margaret failed her test by one, and took the Midi.
  • As Chase was collapsing into unconciousness, Margaret was convulsing from poison (stand and drool for 4 actions).
  • Peter attempted to pursue the poisoner but was unable to pursue in a timely manner.
  • As the siblings fell, the bar room situation began to degrade into a ruckus.
  • Peter and Margaret attempted to move Chase, but in their weakened condition were unable to extricate him.
  • Margaret and Peter solicited the help of some passerby’s, succeeding a Resources linked test, then persuading them to help.
  • With some stranger’s help, they managed to drag Chase back to the bakery.
  • Peter, mustering all of his apothecary and herbalism knowledge, along with Margaret’s Guts-wise, were able to treat the Midi wound, but it would be 9 weeks until it fully healed.

A Sort of Homecoming

  • Brick arrived early in the morning and drank copious amounts of coffee.
  • Brick would travel with the family to their home, to ensure that Julia was delivered.
  • Margaret opted to commandeer Chase’s blue box on the theory that time passes twice as fast for the wielder.
  • The siblings cajoled Claudio into traveling with them…apparently he missed conversing with others.
  • The trip home passed uneventfully.
  • Once home, the siblings looked up Julia’s fiance, William.
  • William was excited to see Julia…but delicately alluded to his engagement.
  • The siblings, Brick, Claudio, and Zoe went to William’s parents.
  • Brick was diverted by Margaret insisting on him going to the tavern. Margaret forgot that the tavern was owned by her brother.
  • Realizing the problem, Margaret closed the store and attempted to convince her brother to close the store.
  • Brick intimidated Margaret’s brother into opening the tavern, and Margaret failed to block William.
  • Margaret quickly caught up with the others as they approached William’s parents
  • They were let in, and a horrific duel of wits began…fighting to marry off Julia.

Duel of Wits – the Second

Chase, Margaret, and Peter: William will marry Julia in a week.

The Groom’s Parents William will not marry Julia.

Duel of Wits: Chase, Margaret, and Peter vs. the Groom’s Parents
Chase, Margaret, and Peter The Groom’s Parents
Volley Action Disposition Action Disposition
1 Incite 9 Obfuscate 9
2 Feint 9 7 Point 9
3 Point 7 4 Point 9 5
4 Feint 4 Feint 5 4
5 Obfuscate 4 Dismiss 4
6 Point 4 Point 4 0

There was insinuation that each party had staged Julia’s abduction, that family honor had become diluted with each passing generation, and that William had chosen Julia. After inciting anger, lies, and horrible persuasion, William’s parents agreed that Julia would marry William, though her dowry would be increased.

It was an ugly duel of wits, with a relatively painless compromise. Now only if Julia and William hadn’t been privy to the whole duel.

Observations

The Duel of Wits created pivotal moments, as they should be.  Margaret found information vital to her beliefs, at the cost of a Midi wound.  Julia would be married, at the cost of a cordial family relation.

The Midi wound is a blessing for character advancement.  Margaret can now easily get Difficult and Challenging tests for advancement.

I am engaging in a careful balance of advancing Margaret’s Will, spending Artha on Will tests, and not opening Will-based skills. If this balance can be achieved, Margaret will be on the cusp of opening numerous Will-based skills at G3.

Liberating the Village only to Stumble into the Dungeon

Liberating the Village

  • The characters agreed to march into the town and confront the restaurant owner, whom we all believed held the village under mental control.
  • The characters had a hostage, whom we let go.
  • Upon arriving the village, a large mob of quasi-catatonic villagers followed us to the restaurant.
  • We didn’t really have a plan.
  • The kitchen was guarded by two quasi-catatonic unarmed villager thugs.
  • Peter attempted to go into the kitchen, but the guards blocked his way.
  • Margaret approached, attempting to flirt with them, but was thrown to the ground…I was hoping they’d throw a punch or something.
  • At this point, we were considering rushing the kitchen, but the mob was entering the restaurant…we thought they had remained outside, but the GM clarified
  • Peter began using his wand to stack chairs and obstructions so no more villagers would come in
  • Chase (PC), Ryan (NPC), and Zoe (NPC) was keeping an eye on the situation, with bows drawn.
  • Margaret brushed herself off, and pushed her way past two men (B4 Power vs. B5 Power, and Margaret won).
  • Margaret burst into the kitchen, and barricaded the door.
  • In the kitchen, an assistant and the cook were preparing a stew.
  • Margaret approached the cauldron, hoping, with touch of the ages, to determine more…it was 35 years old (B4 Perception with 1 Success).
  • Margaret helped chop some of the meat.
  • Margaret conversed with the cook, and knew he was up to no good…he didn’t know the name of his assistant.
  • Margaret left the kitchen, and as she was leaving, drew her dagger…never turning back.
  • Margaret opened the door, and turned.
  • The cook cast “The Fear” affecting the assistant, Peter, Margaret, and two serving maids.
  • Peter was immune, and Margaret made her Steal test.
  • Margaret threw her dagger, missing.
  • Peter cast “Spark Shower” and inflicted a B9 on the cook…he took a Traumatic wound and was down.
  • The restaurant erupted in a bit of a panic, apparently the spell wasn’t yet broken.
  • Several attempted to grab Chase, but he narrowly escaped.
  • One of the guards attempted to grab Margaret, but she squirmed away.
  • Another guard punched Peter, inflicting only a glancing blow.
  • Margaret got away, turned, and cast “The Fear” sending her pursuers away.
  • Then mercilessly Margaret disemboweled the cook, breaking the spell.
  • Margaret found a few rings on his person.
  • There were several cookbooks, several of which were very unsavory, and magical in nature.
  • Margaret and Chase ransacked his quarters, and didn’t find the cook to be part of any grander plot.  They did find a huge chest of gold.
  • Margaret and Chase gave a non-to-convincing oratory about restoring the village, and distributed the wealth evenly…after all who knows who’s money all of it was.
  • Peter discovered that the cook was named Dormond Rheinholt…and was using people as part of the ingredients.
  • The mayor’s wife was asking around about her husband, and though the characters weren’t able to find his remains, they did know his fate.
  • Margaret and Chase consoled the mayor’s widow, though eventually Margaret verbally confronted her with some Ugly Truth, saying that the widow would need to move on quickly, because that money wouldn’t last.
  • The characters then departed the town, to make their way home.

Returning from Whence We Came

  • As they approached the border crossing, Margaret and Chase attempted to disguise themselves, but without proper tools and training, were only nominally successful…there was an outstanding warrant for both of them.
  • Passing through the border fortress, Margaret was noticed, as was Chase.  Margaret surrendered after she refused to doff her shirt.
  • Margaret and Chase were detained, though Peter, Klaudio, Ryan, and Zoe were free to go about their business.
  • Peter insisted on staying with the wagon, and threw his wife’s family name around, attempting to verbally bully the guards.
  • The border magistrate packed up Margaret and Chase to send them to the capital for questioning.
  • Peter made sure that Margaret’s crossbow and dagger as well as Chase’s sword and bow were brought along.

Falling into the Wrong Hands

  • The characters arrived in the capital, Peter went home to his wife; Klaudio to his store; Ryan and Zoe joined Peter; and Chase and Margaret were thrown in the dungeon.
  • Margaret’s quarters were dark and dank amongst the murderers and rapists.
  • Chase had nicer quarters.
  • The inquisitor badgered Margaret and Chase for further information…Mack the Butcher, the Brotherhood, sorcery, murders of civilians, cult daggers, a marauding dwarf, and our sister.
  • Margaret learned the inquisitor’s name…Cedric the Inquisitor.
  • After twenty minutes of the “in-game inquisition routine,” Chase relented and gave a mostly complete recounting of the exploits.  He learned that the dwarf was in the capital and that Chase’s other sister, Julie, was being held in the capital.
  • We wrapped up the session…and everyone was awarded a Deeds point for liberating the village.

Session Wrap Up

I modified Margaret’s beliefs…”Inquisitor Cedric must pay for what he has done to our family. I will get the dwarf involved in my revenge!”

Margaret now has the requisite Deed point for Grey shifting her Will.  I will be pounding on this mercilessly, so I can Grey shift the stat before I open many of her Will-based skills…and here-in lies another aspect of the game.

Thus far, I’ve spent 9 Fate, 4 Persona, and 2 Deed points on Will.  I’m clearly going to need to open-end every Will test that I make.  And if I’m going to have enough Persona points, I’m going to need to make actionable Beliefs…and revenge is very actionable.  Time to find a dwarf and work hard to convince him to help in my revenge.

And in pushing for a Grey shifted Will, Margaret is going to become a dangerous social combatant…which is not the direction I thought she’d go when we first started the campaign.  Of the three player characters, Margaret is by far the least capable of influencing and affecting others.  She has however proven indispensable with her powerful divinations.

Border Crossing and Culinary Explorations

After a long hiatus – 2 months – we returned to our Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker campaign.  There was a lot of rust, and the session sputtered to get going.

In the Homeland

  • Chase and Walt reported back to their station.
  • Chase was able to convince his superior of the outlandish happenings.
  • Chase was given leave to pursue more information regarding his family.
  • Walt was ordered to stay behind.
  • Chase requisitioned a crossbow for Margaret.
  • Margaret and Peter purchased gambeson armor. They didn’t want to chance a leather purchase.
  • Chase, Margaret, and Peter were reunited with no delay.
  • They approached the border and were questioned – there was a warrant based on their description – prominent scar.
  • Chase, ever the smooth talker, was able to convince the border patrol, that we weren’t who they were looking for.
  • The other border guards interrogated us, but were letting us through with little challenge.
  • Peter learned about a new pastry – scones.  He was going to figure out how to make them.

In the Cromoniam Confederation

  • We traveled to a town where Peter learned the recipe for scones.
  • On this day, Margaret achieved her first Aura-Reading test – she now needs to learn Magesense.
  • Margaret was looking for a Tarot deck, relying instead on fresh chickens as her tools.
  • Margaret made her Ob 1 circles test to find – Yellow-Eyed Yolanda, a purveyor of divination devices. Unfortunately, she was in the opposite direction.
  • Margaret found a chicken and butchered it, and with the entrails divined that Ryan, her brother, was in a hamlet several days away.
  • Margaret attempted with the help of her brothers to cook that evenings meal – failure.  We all were food poisoned the next day (+1 Ob).
  • The next morning, Margaret wanted to know more about her black glove so asked the portents what they were about 1 Persona + B5 Astrology Ob 4+1.  She failed – this may have been her first Astrology failure of the campaign.
  • With another day of travel, they arrived in the village and were met with a strange vibe.  The town had something very odd going on – people were somewhat trance-like.
  • Margaret, Peter, and Chase attempted to secure a room for the evening – and failed.  Reducing Chase’s taxed resources from B3 to B2.
  • As we were walking around the town, Margaret noticed an arrow fired from within the woods.
  • Margaret, Peter, and Chase debated for a bit on what to do.
  • Chase would sneak up and find out what was going on.
  • Margaret would remain outside with her crossbow.
  • Peter and Claudio would go to the restaurant and eat lunch.
  • Chase sneaking into the woods found his brother Ryan and another women.
  • There was a bit of exposition concerning the various families that have guarded the realm – but more importantly to not eat the food in the town.  People would go there and never leave.
  • Chase hurried back.
  • Meanwhile Margaret was waiting outside and the streets were empty during mid-afternoon.
  • In the restaurant, Peter and Claudio were working out that something was very odd.  It was empty.  There was no soup prepared and the owner was lying to them about there having been a festival and everyone was out of money – this was contrary to what another villager had said.
  • Peter and Claudio made their exit.
  • Peter, Claudio, Margaret, and Chase left the city and made their way to where they could meet up with Ryan.
  • They then went off of the road on some wooded trails – failing to cover their tracks.
  • Ryan claims to have been gone for 4 months, while according to our timeline he’s only been gone for 1 month.
  • We went to the camp and talked a bit.  There is debate about whether we should return home or find out more about the small village.
  • A boy, in a trance approached, having followed us.
  • He refused to talk with strangers.  So Margaret thought she’d use Phantasmagoria to conjure an image of the woman she had talked to from the village.
  • FAILURE – And she summoned an Imp – who recognized us.  It crept away. Margaret shot at it but missed.
  • Peter stepped up and breathed a gout of flame that would’ve slain most men – but the imps leathery skin protected it.
  • Chase fired and again it’s skin saved it.
  • We dropped into a Range and Cover as the imp tried to skitter away – but Chase is dangerous in that arena and we managed to incapacitate the Imp with a Midi.
  • We regrouped and debated a bit more about our next course of action…it sounds like we are going to find out what is going on in the town.

Observations

Thusfar Margaret has advanced her B2 Astrology to B5 – it is the work horse skill – via tests related to her family.  Of these tests, the majority have been related to finding her family (OB 3s and OB 4s).  She has yet to fail those tests.

We are leaning heavily on Astrology as a means of gathering information about things that would be very hard to find out otherwise.

We need to work a bit on our procedures. Namely stating Task and Intent as well as making sure we know the consequence of failure before hand.  There are a few too many failed tests that don’t have consequences.