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.

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.

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.

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…

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.