The Butcher, the Baker, and the Candlestick Maker

Map for Butcher, Baker and the Candlestick Maker Campaign

Map for Butcher, Baker and the Candlestick Maker Campaign

This past Sunday, October 9, we sat down to start another Burning Wheel campaign.  This one will run on alternate weekends with the Bloodstone campaign.

Prior to the character creation session, Joe provided the initial constraint:  Jaron, Matt, and I were all going to play siblings in a large family (8 or so children).  And our grandfather was a powerful sorcerer, long since gone.  Our parents were simple farmers, mother died years ago and father disappeared around that time.

While we were waiting for everyone to assemble, I suggested that we needed more of a theme.  And I suggested, somewhat jokingly, that the characters should be a butcher, baker, and a candlestick maker. The idea took hold.

Jaron chose to play the candlestick maker, which in Burning Wheel is best done by the peddler.  I chose the butcher, leaving Matt with the baker.

World Burning

But, before we got too far along, we needed to burn up the world.  Using a modified version of Legends of Anglerre’s campaign building, we drew up the map.  Using Matt Finch’s most excellent Tome of Adventure Design we named our points of interest:

  • Crypt of the Slug Mother
  • Asylum of the Reawakened Prince
  • The Resurrection Altar
  • The Boiling Pools
  • The Spiraling Lake
  • Manse of the Loathsome Keeper
  • The Overgrown Halls
  • The Slumbering Libraries

Already an interesting tale was unfolding.  The map has an ocean, a wild forest home to a fallen empire of elves, a mountain region, and three countries: Atlya, Brothers of the Blind Fire, and the Cromonian Confederation.

Atlya

Ruled by a regent until Crown Prince Claud Richardson comes of age.  We gave it the aspects of “magical refuge” and “kingdom on the verge of bankruptcy.”  It has a magic index of +3 (i.e. abundant), resources +2 (i.e. major exports), and military action -2 (i.e. espionage).  Clearly with abundant resources and on the verge of bankruptcy, taxes are not being properly collected.

Brothers of the Blind Fire

A theocracy dedicated to Aliziac, the Fire that Blinds.  The theocracy’s aspects are “sorcerers shall be fed to the flames” and “our fires once burned bright and shall once again.”  It has magic +0 (i.e. rare gifted), resources +1 (i.e. rich), and military -2 (i.e. espionage).

The Cromonian Confederation

A confederation of states, it’s aspects are “wizard’s school” and “patriotic”.  It has magic +3 (i.e. abundant), resources +0 (i.e. sustainable), and military -1 (i.e. defensive).

Character Burning

I set about to make my butcher.  Given the abundance of magic, and our families history in sorcery, I wanted to play a sorcerer.  So I burned up Margeret Whiteguard (Born Gifted (Village), Butcher, Lead to Peasant, Auger).

I was very hesitant to play a woman, in fact this is the first time in my gaming career that I’ve played a woman (at least one that wasn’t changed to a woman due to a magic item).  Ultimately I was drawn to the idea of digging through the entrails of butchered chickens as she consults the portents.

As I worked through the character questionnaire, I began working out her backstory.  She had in fact given birth to a baby girl, but committed infanticide when Margaret consulted the portents and saw something unspeakable horror in the baby’s future.  A few years later, she was pregnant again, and consulted the portents…only to have the exact same divination.  With the baby, she fled to her brother and forced him to take her baby girl. She returned to her home village and lived as an impoverished augur.

The other players burned up 5 lifepath characters, while I burned up a 3 lifepath character.  Margaret has a very limited skill list: Anatomy B2, Astrology B2, Butchery B2, Falsehood B2, Guts-wise B2, Omen-wise B2, Sorcery B4, and Ugly Truth B2 (10 initial skill points, 2 of which were general skills).  She spent most of her resources on spells (i.e. The Fear, Low Speech, and Phantasmagoria).

She is disturbed (Char), misunderstood (Char), has a prominent scar on her face (Char), is gifted (Dt), has the touch of the ages (Dt), and is a dreamer (Dt).  Every morning, she consults the portents (Instinct).  Through her premonitions, she has vowed to find the family member that is committing vile acts (Belief).

I’m still working on the remaining beliefs, but believe I have quite a bit to hang my hat on.

A Wedding and a Wyrding

Session #2 of our “Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker” campaign (aka BBC) started out with just Matt and I, though Jaron arrived an hour into the game. In the first session, we had actually gotten a bit of role-playing in.

Observations

Given the length of this session recap, I’m going to put the observations up front. Read on if you want more.

THE ARTHA CYCLE

This is the session where the Artha cycle really clicked for me. I burned through crap loads of Artha fighting for both existing and emergent beliefs. At the end of the session, I reaped a mountain of Artha…though not nearly as much as I started with.

There was a delicious moment where, as a player, I had to decide if Margaret would truly do everything possible to track her sister down. Here I was, ready to burn Deed and Persona on an untrained Persuasion test. This precious Artha could help Margaret save her sister but wouldn’t be available for use in grey shifting Margaret’s Sorcery or Perception.

A wonderful conundrum, and once I spent the Artha, I immediately began to mechanically reconsider my character; I had spent 2 Fate, 3 Persona, and 2 Deed points on Will tests.Mercifully the beginner’s luck obstacle was so high that it counted as a Will test.

With a bit of “gaming” I hope to be able to Gray shift my will before opening too many Will-based skills. And if I do it right, I might be able to get Will-based skill tests close to the aptitude so I can then quickly open those skills as Grey shifted.

OUR WONDERFUL GAME MASTER

It is clear that our game master, Joe, has a story that he wants to tell. I’m curious where he thinks the story will go. However, given that this is Burning Wheel, I don’t know if the story will go in that direction.

In response to what is a strong narrative direction, I’ve realigned my character’s beliefs so they are more self-actionable. This should mean that I have greater control of my character’s reward cycle. Note the beliefs are at the end of this blog post.

DANGEROUS SORCERY

Sorcery is dangerous…and I believe the GM should make a hard move. In the case of Margaret’s failed sorcery for Low Speech the garbled transmission for came out as: 50s of Paces, Permanent, Sight Origin, Destroy impetus, White element.

In my opinion, it would’ve been much worse than a single poor tiger being forever consumed by white fire. After all, given Margaret’s brother was right behind her and her family oriented beliefs, failure would’ve really hit her beliefs quite hard.

For those of you running Burning Wheel and curious what is the price of a failed test, look to Sorcery. Four of six times, it is simply be taxing (i.e. harmless dissipation), two in six times hell could break loose (i.e. garbled transmission and unwanted summoning).

Session #1 Recap

Margaret (me), Chase (Jaron), Peter (Matt) were part of a large family. And they were all gathered for their sister Julia’s wedding. In fact, Peter had spent many days enchanting the wedding cake; It was “delicious” and would grant everyone who ate it ranks in Etiquette for one test with the bride.

Margaret first divined that the wedding day would be a wyrding day; She wasn’t certain what this meant, but knew it would be terrible to have the wedding on that day. Margaret was able to convince Julia to postpone the wedding.

In addition to the wedding, there was a carnival in town as well as strangers asking around for members of the Whiteguard family. Margaret did a little investigating, and opted to cast Low Speech to talk with one of the families dogs…

Botched! Margaret instead summoned Yoltaka the Hunter of Winter. Yoltaka demanded that both Margaret and Chase protect their family, saying our bloodline was important. This could’ve been a bit harder hitting, but who expects a lesser god to show up when you talk to a dog.

Shaken by their experience, Margaret and Chase parted ways. Margaret went to butcher a pig for the wedding and Chase and his brother Ryan went hunting. While hunting Chase found a strange box with a small mouth for a key hole. We ended the session there.

Preamble for Session #2

Over the past month, I had reworked my beliefs and instincts:

  • B1 – I will find and stop the family member who is committing vile acts.
  • B2 – I will protect my family from harm, but I must first find out what happened to my daughter.
  • B3 – redacted as I’ve since overwritten it
  • I1 – Every morning, consult the portents.
  • I2 – Only eat meat that I have killed.
  • I3 – Always inspect the entrails of the dead.

Session #2 Recap

The session began with Margie (my character) butchering yet another pig. And then it got weird. The blood was flowing backwards during the butchering. At the homestead, Peter noticed that the water had turned into mirrors. Music began playing, quasi-tangible dancers danced, people walked backwards, and an army appeared on the families lands.

Margaret butchered many chickens, each time consulting the portents, but unsure what the day meant. The chaos culminated when the cake which Peter created burst open and hundreds of crows issued forth.

As all of this was happening, the family gathered at the homestead, except Julia was missing. Margaret, Chase, and Peter, having briefly studied the weird box, quickly ran to the fields, and saw that a portal was opening and several blind priests were trying to grab Julia.

Chase fired off a quick shot, wounding one of the priests, but not before Julia was abducted. Margaret, burning shit-loads of Artha, persuaded the injured priest that the arrow was poisoned and he needed to stay so we could give him the antidote. Amazingly, it worked.

And this is where things turned grim. Margaret jumped on him and began stabbing. The priest attempted to self-immolate. Chase shot an arrow point blank. Eventually, Margaret used the priests fresh entrails to divine that Julia had been taken to the Monastery of the Jade Flame, near the Burning Pools.

Returning to the homestead, Ryan was missing. He had went into the fields with the army and disappeared. The box, which had been hidden, was still there. With the family surrounded by utter chaos, they decided to head to town and stay in safety among the villagers. By this point, Margaret had taxed her Forte to 1 and was ready for a good night’s rest.

While traveling to the village, Margaret fell asleep and dreamt of the box and a familiar voice saying “Feed Me.” The box had white shields, and Peter deduced they represented houseWhiteguard. Chase, having already pricked his fingers on the box, decided a drop of blood would open it. Inside were four wonderous and strange artifacts: a platinum amulet, a twisted wand, a blue box, and a black glove. And apparently someone had fallen out of the sky when the box was opened.

Margaret, channeling her “Touch of the Ages” determined bits of the item powers, and quickly determined these items were powerful and in some cases dangerous.

The Whiteguard family arrived in town and secured rooms. During the evening, Chase awoke early — he was carrying the “blue box of the time lord” — and found that someone had killed village guards and set fire to some of the villages. Chase confronted the man, who claimed to be Brian, a brother of Chase. Before too much could be ascertained, Brian touched something at his neck, and disappeared.

In the morning, Chase, Margaret, and Peter went to the carnival looking for more information about anything. Margaret decided to approach a monkey and ask around. I wanted a Routine test for Margaret’s sorcery and communicating with a monkey via Low Speech. It turned out that a man of interest had talked to a tiger. Margaret and Chase approached the Tiger and Margaret attempted to cast Low Speech.

Botched! Garbled transmission. The poor tiger was doomed to be eternally consumed by white fire. We wrapped the session up there.

Session #2 Postlude

During the session, Margaret advanced her Astrology from B2 to B3, Butchery from B2 toB3, Sorcery from B4 to B5, and Forte from B4 to B5. She had burned through 2 Deed, 5 Persona, and 4 Fate points, but in doing so, it became clear what her character. I did manage to earn 5 Fate points and 3 Persona points for Margaret.

Once the session was over, I worked up some more applicable beliefs for Margaret.

  • B1 – These magic items will help me find my missing family members, I must learn how to safely use them.
  • B2 – I once surrendered a daughter to fates unknown, but I will now stop at nothing to protect my family.
  • B3 – I will convince Peter to teach me destructive magic so I can defend myself from agents of hated Brotherhood.

In Which They Find Their Tub

I had a very engaging second session of the Butcher, Baker and Candlestick Maker session. In the Wedding and a Wyrding session, I was in character and engaged with the system at the character level. In the 3rd session, I was much more Jeremy and a whole lot less Margaret.

Sifting through the Intent

Working with Margaret’s belief – “These magic items will help me find my missing family members, I must learn how to safely use them.” – we engaged the rules looking for someone that would teach Aura Reading to Margaret. There was a bit of table discussion about the scope of the Circle’s test. Should we find someone able and willing to teach us OR simply someone able to teach us.

The above was a classic case of defining intent. Finding someone able and willing was clearly more challenging. So our Circle test was simply “Find us someone who could teach Aura Reading to Margaret.” Once that step was resolved, we’d work at convincing the contact to teach us. In this way, breaking down the intent into discreet steps reduced the obstacle for the Circle test; Which follows the wisdom:

Small successes are easier to achieve in one step than large ones.

To the Circle

Peter successfully circled up someone. The character’s had found an eccentric professor emeritus of the college of magic…and he was a gnome. There was an extra success to the Circle test, and Joe, the GM, gave us the option to find a gnome. Peter’s player, Matt, named the gnome Claudio, so future efforts to circle him up would be easier.

The characters had their potential mentor, but needed to convince him to teach them Aura Reading…and do so on the road. Peter, Chase, and Margaret had decided that pursuing Julia’s captors was more important than waiting the approximate two weeks required for instruction.

As a group, we began to wheedle through the interaction with Claudio. There was role-playing as we started to negotiate the agreement. Margaret and Chase wanted Claudio to come along on the adventure, whereas Claudio wanted money up front, 3 meals a day, and a room in an inn each night. I’m sure we could’ve setup a Haggle test, but as a group we opted to invoke a Duel of Wits

Duel of Wits

Claudio’s statement: “I will come with you, and teach you Aura Reading, but will get a share of any spoils, 20 silver up front (2D resources), a donkey, a cart, 3 paid meals a day, and a room in an inn each night.”

Chase and Margaret’s statement: “Travel with us, and teach Aura Reading to Margaret.”

The initial disposition was Claudio 6 (5 Will + 3D Haggling) and Chase/Margaret 5 (4 Will + 3D Haggling). Each side began scripting. Jaron and I knew our characters would be devastated if they lost without concession; However, we assumed we’d get a minor compromise.

So Jaron and I approached the Duel of Wits strategically. We both wanted some tests for Chase and Margaret’s various skills, namely Haggling, Falsehood and Ugly Truth.

Duel of Wits: Claudio vs. Chase and Margaret
Claudio Chase and Margaret
Volley Action Disposition Action Disposition
1 Obfuscate (failure) 6 Obfuscate (success) 5
2 ? 6 3 Point (success) 5
3 ? 3 Obfuscate (failure) 5
4 Avoid (success) 3 Obfuscate (failure) 5
5 Avoid (success) 3 Point (failure) 5
6 Feint (failure) 3 -1 Point (success) 5

The actions selected by Joe in the Duel of Wits gave form to Claudio’s character. Claudio was a gnome who simply wanted to talk with people, though he didn’t care so much about the subject.

Henry Peter, Chase, and Margaret welcomed Claudio, and informed him that they would be leaving in the morning. Claudio wanted a little more time to get his affairs in order, but capitulated.

The next morning, we stopped by Claudio’s shop and saw his make-shift cart. A hastily repurposed tub.

Recap

There was quite a bit more going on than simply finding the professor emeritus tinkering gnome.

  • Chase’s resources were depleted as he found himself unable to pay for an inn. Taxed resources to B0.
  • Margaret divined that Julia was in greater danger than Ryan.
  • Margaret circled up, with enmity, a butcher willing to buy the ceremonial dagger.
  • Margaret and Chase were able to sell the ceremonial dagger for 30 silver (3D resource dice).
  • Henry Peter failed to raise bread and suffered a bit of tax.
  • Henry Peter, with help from both Chase and Margaret, was able to secure traveling gear. Both Chase and Margaret were able to raise their resources to B1.
  • And we found a doddering crazy old man who had fallen out of the sky, who claims to be the characters’ uncle. This particular subplot had best resolve quickly, because as a player I do not want another campaign where we are saddled with a crazy old man.
  • Margaret successfully tested for her first reading of Flame Breath; She would begin practicals in 2 months.
  • I should’ve spent one more Persona point on a Perception test so that Margaret would’ve had the best shot at getting a difficult Perception test.
  • Chase was the workhorse, ensuring that we were able to secure funds.

Inn Witch They Pig Out

This past Sunday, we played our fourth session of the Butcher, the Baker, and the Candlestick Maker.  I had a blast but wanted to break down what I feel were the important scenes of the session.  This is part #1 of the session report.

Inn Witch They Pig Out

That first night, Margaret convinced the others that they should leave early in the morning and leave the old man behind.  Everyone reluctantly agreed, and early in the morning they were getting ready to leave when guards from the capital accosted them saying that Margaret and Chase were wanted for questioning by the head inquisitor in the capital.

Margaret wanted to stall, so insisted she left something behind upstairs and needed to get it.  Two guards were going to go along, but Chase insisted that his sister not be left alone.  So they went up to the room, and looked around, but the guards were getting frustrated at Margaret. Meanwhile, Walt and Peter were unsaddling the guards’ horses and having the stable boy take them out to pasture.

Chase convinced them that it might be in the old mans room — a room full of chicken feathers.  The guards reluctantly agreed, and in the room Margaret’s thoughts turned to the black glove — She didn’t know what it did other than “drain things.”  She put it on, and vanished.

Chase freaked out and the guards immediately drew steel and ushered him outside.  Margaret, meanwhile, went out to the stables and was going to cast Phantasmagoria.  As the guards came outside, Peter drew his wand and “grabbed” three of the five swords away from the guard.

Peter from atop the wagon in a meek voice, attempted to intimidate the guards into backing down.  They would have none of it.  At that point, Chase, took off running, easily beating his captors.  Peter set the wagon in motion, and Walt successfully repelled on of the guardsman who attempted to get onto the wagon.  The character’s uncle then stepped up and unleashed bolts of green energy turning three of the guardsmen into pigs.

Chase continued to elude his captors and Margaret completed her spell, but failed her Forte such that she couldn’t maintain the spell.  As Chase passed the stable, Margaret stepped out and cast the Fear.  The pursuing guards dropped their shields and ran.  Margaret was out for blood, but Chase talked her down by and they all beat a hasty retreat.

COMMENTARY

This was a fun scene and had a good cadence.  We may have been able to condense the scene into a few less “rounds” by having a clearer statement of intent.  We should all learn to lean on the “Let it Ride” principal.

I would’ve preferred that the character’s uncle’s deus ex machina wand wouldn’t have incapacitated 3 of the 5 guards.  Uncle’s action diminished the player agency of our characters; The characters had gotten into the mess and the characters should get out of it; Either by way of a Circles test or some other sequence of tests.

Into the Woods

The characters travelled towards the Monastery of the Jade Flame, opting to travel north of the Boiling Pools and through the overrun forest.  A failed orienteering test lead to a turn for the worse; A walking dead elf ambushed the characters. Chase, Walt, Claudio and Margaret were all horrified.

The walking dead quickly advanced, clawing at Margarets face (B5 Light Wound).  Meanwhile, Peter woke up and quickly reacted — passing an Ob 8 Steel test.  In quick order, Peter breathed fire on the walking dead and it was dispatched.

COMMENTARY

This also was a good scene, as we delved deeper into an unfriendly and unknown forest.  There was a sense of foreboding given that we had failed our Orienteering test.  Afterwards, the characters all worked to build sensible fortifications when setting up camp.

I feel that the sequence of actions was off for the conflict.  The GM asked the characters to make Steel tests upon seeing the walking dead.  We then immediately went into scripted Fight, with the walking dead close enough to engage in melee for the first exchange.

I feel a Perception vs. Stealthy test to detect the walking dead would’ve been a good first step.  It went too quickly from “there’s something out there” to “it’s right in my face.”  An intermediate test would’ve given help me accept that the walking dead was right in Margaret’s face (even if the test was B4 vs. Ob 6, it still offered Margaret a chance).

To be continued…

Never Split the Party – Worst Duel of Wits Compromise Ever

Continuing the session #4 recap of the Butcher, the Baker, and the Candlestick Maker.

Stranger in a Strange Land

The characters made it to the village outside the monastery, and attempted to circle up someone who would know anything about the monastery.  We failed, and didn’t circle anyone up.  We did, however, find out that an uproariously drunk dwarf had ransacked the inn.  We then went on toward the monastery without any additional information.

As we drew closer to the monastery, it became clear that it was under attack.  Margaret quickly consulted the stars and divined that her sister was alive, but no longer at the monastery.  Throwing caution to the wind, we quickly ventured into the monastery and determined that a rather nasty battle had occurred and there were many unwanted summonings.

We made a hasty retreat, and followed the dwarf’s trail.  Eventually Margaret again consulted the stars and found that the dwarf was taking their sister back to her home — the place from which we all departed from in session #2.

COMMENTARY

If I were at the helm, and my PCs had snuck into a foreign land and failed a circles test, I clearly would’ve invoked the Enmity clause.  The opportunity is simply too good to pass up.

I was disappointed about Margaret’s Astrology test before the characters went into the monastery.  Margaret’s question was “Is Julia alive and in the monastery?”  The response Margaret got was she’s alive but not in the monastery.  Margaret rocked the test with 6 successes, 2 successes over the obstacle, and felt Margaret should’ve gotten more information.

My disappointment ties into the idea that the odds of unconditional success are small compared to the likelihood of failure (i.e. B5 vs. Ob 4).  So in the case of “critical success”, I feel that the response should be above and beyond the stated intent.

It also feels as though the past two sessions and the reason for our character’s trip to the monastery has been narratively invalidated.  The characters don’t have enough leads concerning the dwarf nor why he would be returning Julie to her home.  So instead they will trust in the divinations and go after their missing brother.

On the Road Again – Duel of Wits

Towards the end of the session, the characters began arguing about where to go next.  Chase and Walt felt that they needed to report to their superiors.  Margaret and Peter wanted to push on and rescue Ryan.  They were all at an impasse.  So we quickly called on a Duel of Wits.

Chase: All of us need to go to the neighboring village’s military station so Walt and Chase can report. It will only take 2 days.

Margaret and Peter: Ryan can’t wait!  We need to head out immediately.  Walt and Chase can send a letter or something.

Duel of Wits: Chase and Walt vs. Margaret and Peter
Chase (All exchanges) Margaret (Odd) and Peter (Even)
Volley Action Disposition Action Disposition
1 Obfuscate (failure) 6 Avoid (success) 7
2 Point 6 5 Point 7
3 Point 5 4 Point 7 6
4 Obfuscate (success) 4 Incite (failure) 6
5 Point 4 Avoid 6 4
6 Point 4 Point 4 3
7 Obfuscate (failure) 4 3 Point (success) 3
8 Point 3 1 Dismiss 3 1
9 Point 1 Incite Hesitate 1 0

Commentary

Here we have a family arguing, falling into their routines.  The argument is kicked-off by both parties circumventing the topic at hand.

There is the wonderful moment when Peter attempts to incite Chase, and Margaret follows up with an avoid.  Margaret has seen Peter attempt to bully Chase before, and knows it just isn’t going to work.

Desired tests dictated most of the Duel of Wits actions for our characters.  As a result of this Duel of Wits, Margaret advanced her Will to B5, Falsehood to B3, and Ugly Truth to B3 (each one needed one test).  She also got another test for opening Persuasion and Rhetoric. And we had a quite hideous compromise.

Compromise for Duel of Wits

Since both sides were arguing for not splitting the party, we decided the best compromise would be “Walt and Chase will report to their military supervisors and Margaret and Peter will take the wagons two days ahead and wait for Walt and Chase.”

Though the argument was among family members and “safe”, the compromise was horrific for all involved.  We were going to split up even though that went against many of our core beliefs of protecting our family.

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.

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.