Burning Sanctuary – Session 1

We met for our second session of Burning Sanctuary. Some of the players had not completed their beliefs. So we spent some time finalizing both characters and a bit of the world. This took about an hour of our 3.5 hour session.

Preparation

Without knowing the players starting beliefs and instincts I wasn’t able to plan as much as I had hoped.

There was Shrewsbury Abbey (and clergy). One of the players provided beliefs related to smuggling something out of the Abbey.

I focused on writing various impressions and bits of scenery for Shrewsbury Abbey:

  • Stooped monks harvesting squash and onions
  • Moans of the injured
  • Dripping water as bloodied clothes are wrung out over a bowl
  • Chanting prayers as tallow candles crackle and flicker
  • Hushed conversations in stone halls
  • Wretched poor seeking alms
  • Unarmed soldiers walking idling about
  • Cool stones in open air passages
  • A small girl asleep under an ancient oak
  • A bell tolling

I used the above to add color to the environs. It provided a means for tredding water as we felt out the scope of the game.

Character Burning

What follows are a list of beliefs; not precise as they were workshopped during the session, but instead the notes and recollections that I’m working from.

  • Aneúpin [Nye for short] (Welsh Scout):
    • B1: Wants solitude and to get back to the wilderness
    • B2: Needs to get possessions back so I can be self-sufficient
    • I1: Always looking for new cooking ingredients
    • I2: Always fall to the back of the group.
    • I3: Always watch the nobility out of the corner of my eye.
  • Raimund (Anglo-Norman Smuggler):
    • B1: William was supposed to supply an artifact to me as part of the deal, but it’s sealed away at Shrewsbury Abbey. I’m to meet his contact there, obtain the artifact, and deliver it to Ranulf.
    • B2: I need help to escort me back to Chester.
    • B3: I will advance my status and wealth to return my family to the peerage
    • I1: While at ports, large markets, or trade fairs, always chitchat with fellow merchants and look over their wares. Prioritize the exotic and foreign.
    • I2: Never pass by a rare or exotic good without inspecting it.
    • I3: Always carry a packet of herbs to ward off the disease-ridden miasma.
  • Old Travis (Anglo-Norman Elder):
    • B1: Find the family of Clovis FitzTravis, my son.
    • B2: I want to be known for my writings, but I must learn to compose. So I will study the manuscripts of the abbey.
    • I1: When prattling on about travels always be assessing my surroundings.
    • I2: Always take an afternoon nap.
    • I3: Always work patiently when mending
  • Edmund Thatcher (Anglo-Saxon Doctor):
    • B1: I will get my sister (Adwyn) out from the control of Robert of Gloucester. I will take her to Chester and seek an audience with Earl Ranulf. (wants to improve her station)
    • B2: I have an academic interest in these relics, I know someone wants them I’m going to find out who.
    • I1: Always provide medical attention to the injured

Procedures

I’m adopting the procedure of having the players go around the table reading their Beliefs, Instincts, and Traits. It is a helpful reminder for everyone since each players BITs drives the Artha awards.

In this session we went around once to flesh out the beliefs. We then went around again to restate the more “formalized” beliefs. It was a collaboration.

World Burning

Mixing throughout character burning was some world burning. We fleshed out the primary deity and the details of the relics.

Shirat, the Illuminating Eye

Instead of using a “vanilla” Christian God, we came up Shira, the Illuminating Eye. The “Catholic” church venerates her.

  • Sun
  • Water
  • Time
  • Knowledge
  • Labor
  • Forethought
  • Augury
  • Law
  • Written Word

Relic Smuggling

We discussed that Raimund is smuggling relics to Ranulf. The players know that these relics are Fey related. They are also being positioned along ley lines. The characters know none of this.

The Session Proper

We spent much of the session getting the characters into a common orbit.

  • Edmund Thatcher became a local celebrity through his miraculous healing of one of Robert Gloucester’s men (Roger FitzWallace).
  • Travis spent time fixing up the Abbey, always conspiring to gain access to the scriptorium and its books. He learned that Brother George had a key to the storeroom.
  • Nye focused on gaining his equipment; Things went awry when he sought the help of several fellow Welsh men.
  • Raimund was busy tracking down his contact and laying out an initial plan to smuggle out some “holy” bones.

The session drew to a close when they all noticed the Welsh men carrying out a corpse of one of the priests (Brother George). The church bell rang, raising the alarm; The abbey awoke; In the general chaos Raimund and Nye begun forming an alliance.

NPCs

The NPCs introduced throughout the session:

  • Gwyir – a Welsh traveler and spokes person for 3 other Welsh men. They have sought an evening respite at Shrewsbury Abbey; They are not wealthy. They came with a wagon of wool.
  • Abbot Gerald (Vicious and Precise) – Abbot of Shrewsbury
  • Brother Michael – contact for Raimund
  • Brother George – oversees the storeroom.
  • Brother Ferand – tends the kitchen
  • Brother Albert – an elderly monk with one eye blind from cataracts

Tests

  • Faith (Ob 4) for Edmund Thatcher:
    • Task: Seek guidance for the surgery to come
    • Intent: Gain guidance
    • Consequence: Brother Albert, the chatty old, will mark you a blasphemer.
    • Result: Success. A glowing nimbus and a bead of sweat forms on Edmund Thatcher’s brow.
  • Surgery (Ob 4) for Edmund Thatcher:
    • Task: Stitch up this severe wound
    • Intent: Get him healthy and on the road to recovery and even ingratiate himself to Earl of Gloucester.
    • Consequence: He’s a bannerman of Gloucester and Gloucester will find out about it.
    • Side note: The player rolled 3 successes. But one of them was a 6 and was the dice from astrology. With the open-ended dice, they got the 4 successes.
    • Result: The bannerman is on the road to recovery. And Brother Albert is extolling the virtues of a miracle.
  • Persuasion (Ob 5) for Travis:
    • Task: Persuade the abbot that this place is falling apart and you can help clean it up.
    • Intention: Ingratiate himself with the abbot so he can gain access to the books
    • Consequence: You draw the ire of the Abbot and he assigns someone to watch over you.
    • Result: Failure
  • Stealth (Ob 2) for Raimund linked into Inconspicuous:
    • Task: Moving through the abbey without being seen
    • Intention: To observe each monk.
    • Consequence: You draw unwanted attention as it is clear you are singling someone out.
    • Result: Success, one over OB, so the linked test gets +1D.
  • Inconspicuous (Ob 2 linked from Stealth) for Raimund:
    • Task: Mingling without drawing attention
    • Intention: To find Brother Michael without drawing attention.
    • Consequence: You are unable to find the brother as he is out-of-town. This one was weak. I was thinking perhaps a Circles test.
    • Result: Success. Raimund finds Brother Michael.
    • Side note: I really should’ve called for an Inconspicuous test then an Observation test.
  • Scavenging (Ob 3) for Nye:
    • Task: Find something that could be used to pick a lock.
    • Intention: With a tool in hand, he’d pick the lock to get into the store-room.
    • Consequence: you draw unwanted attention. Opted not to test.
    • Result: The player stepped away from the test.
    • Side note: With the Ob set, the player backed down. Instead going towards Rumor-wise
  • Rumor-wise (Ob 2) for Nye:
    • Task: Poke around a bit regarding these Welsh men’s mode of operation storeroom
    • Intention: I want them to help me bust into the store-room
    • Consequence: These Welshmen are very bad news; burn down the Abbey, mass murder.
    • Result: Success. These Welshmen are ready to help.
  • Mending (Ob 3) for Travis: I’m drawing a blank on this one, but I believe it was along the lines of you aggravate Brother Michael and he assumes you are stalling.
    • Result: Success. Travis has begun ingratiating himself with Brother Michael.
  • Inconspicuous (Ob 2) for Raimund:
    • Task: Pull Brother Michael aside to talk
    • Intention: Determine what and where the relics are that Raimund needs to smuggle out
    • Consequence: You are deep in conspiring and someone stumbles upon you.
    • Result: Success. The players.
  • Persuasion (Ob 3 untrained, so Ob 6) for Nye:
    • Task: Convince the Welsh men that there are valuables in the
    • Intention: Get them to help me bust into the store-room
    • Consequence: They’ll help but its going to escalate into the abduction/murder of a priest. abduct/kill a priest.
    • Result: Failure (untrained got 5 successes).
  • Observation (Ob 3) for all:
    • Task: Looking into the evening.
    • Intent: See if they spot the people leaving through the sally port.
    • Consequence: You don’t see the events transpiring in the courtyard.
    • Result: The players see four men carrying the body of another.
    • Side Note: I wasn’t sure how to proceed. The party was not coordinated in their effort. So I called for individual tests.

Closing Scenes

Abbot Gerald (Vicious and Precise) insinuates the Edmund Thatcher’s miracles could draw pilgrims to Shrewsbury and bolster their coffers. The Abbot wants to talk with Edmund in his chambers.

Nye and Arnolt have their first conversation. Arnolt offers cash to Nye if he will help get some relics to Chester. The beginnings of a plan take shape. We end the session.

Precedence

I am keeping a running log of what we establish via Wises and Duel of Wits. Both resolutions are manifestations of the Let it Ride principle.

  • The Four Clovers are a band of Welsh rebels; They despise the English. They are destabilizing England. (via Rumor-wise)
  • The relics are three leg bones from the Abbey crypt. These bones are in a prominent spot.
  • At temples of Shirat, at least one brother or sister maintains a nighttime vigil for Shirat’s return.

Observations

I also like to reflect on the sessions that I’ve run. I have personal notes for where to go with the next session; But I’m not going to publish those at the moment.

Task and Intent

I was insistent on players providing both Task and Intent. In doing so, we were able to map tests to beliefs. This made the end of session Artha awards smooth and meaningful. The wrap up discussion concerning Artha award categories was helpful for me; We were generous in interpretation. It also felt like we ended on the same page.

An interesting note, no one earned Artha for character traits. There are a lot of parts, and I believe those traits are something that is hard to pay attention to in the first session.

Once we completed the session wrap-up, the players saw some of the reward cycle. They now have greater clarity on how to write their beliefs. They can also focus their beliefs to the immediate situation.

An interesting observation is that I think User Stories (from Agile software development) are an excellent template for writing beliefs. They have the following form:

As a ____, I will ____, so that ____.

Odd Getting Started

The players are not well aligned; I believe this is a failing on my part. The initial situation (everyone has declared sanctuary) doesn’t have enough teeth to join them. I also didn’t lead them through group creation.

I’m not worried about keeping the characters together, but hope to nurse the aligning of goals.

Then again, it’s a first session. Everyone is feeling out their characters and intentions. I imagine the next session will move better.

Burning Sanctuary – Session 0

We gathered with an initial situation in mind. A civil war is ramping up and the characters have each declared sanctuary at an abbey.

We had a new composition of players, some that have never played together. There was a bit of back and forth on characters to play. Lots of noodling on the mechanics.

The session was very low-key, toddlers romping around, eager to play and see what the grownups were doing.

We ran out of time to dive into beliefs and instincts; But things were drawing close. The character lifepaths ended as:

  • Scout < Conscript < Hunter < Village born
  • Doctor < Student < Temple Acolyte < Noble born
  • Smuggler < Merchant < Shopkeeper < Village born (at least from memory)
  • Elder < Thinker < Student Tinkerer < City born

Two of the players leveraged the online Character Burner to assist in the character process.

At this point, my understanding of the character backstories are:

  • The elder is from a village neighboring Shrewsbury, and was outspoken against King Stephen and the siege.
  • The scout just learned that sanctuary was an option and deserted.
  • The doctor worked in the city of Shrewsbury.
  • The smuggler, likely Welsh, is a trade magnate.

Only one of the characters is “combat” savvy. It is the Scout; The one with the character trait “Flee from Battle” and an instinct to always be in the back rank.

Observation

People were quick to dive into the book and think about building their character. It was a much more personal affair. I did not feel like I was facilitating the collaboration for character creation. In the future, I think having further constraints will help bring focus to the character creation.

I’ll also consider seeding a few constrained beliefs – but not lifepaths. I wrote a few quick sketches for kick starting a Burning Wheel campaign:

The scope of these 4 situations is perhaps more urgent than Burning Sanctuary’s initial situation; The framework of belief prompts helps point characters in directions without removing their ability to interpret them.

In hindsight, a bit more collaborative world and situation building may have been appropriate. Character creation felt somewhat isolated. I wasn’t facilitating the back and forth conversation.

Once we wrapped up I sent out some guidance to work on character’s beliefs:

  • A belief paired with actionable things
  • Tied directly to the situation of play
  • Designed to drive characters towards action and conflict

I also pointed them to the Burning Wheel Belief Workshop.

I’m looking forward to this Burning Wheel; My favorite RPG sessions have always been those that strive to avoid physical combat. This group is ill-prepared for any physical combat.

They are, however, quite ready for Duel of Wits.

Out of the Abyss – Session #1

I was hesitant to run Out of the Abyss. Chapter 1 is a complicated hot mess to run. I didn’t know if I could use what was given to establish a reasonable enough beginning to the campaign.

There is an urgency about escaping at odds with exposition of the supporting cast. Do you spend a little or a lot of time establishing the various of relationships between the NPCs?

There are 10 captive NPCs and 4 NPC captors (and their support staff). That’s a lot of characters to both establish and juggle. All of this while the players are plotting and attempting to execute an escape. I also don’t believe people want to spend more than a few hours building up to the prison break.

By the end of the session two NPCs were dead, with a total of 15 characters escaping with one or two supplies each. They have several shields, chain shirts, leather armor, and lengths of rope. That’s it. No holy symbols nor spell books.

So I’m envisioning a few sessions of brutality on the horizon as exhaustion and resource management grind at them.

What worked?

Prodding the characters along. Making sure to push towards “What’s the plan? Are you doing it now?”

Showing that the drow are petty and cruel. There was an internal conflict through playing up the NPCs. Then having a fight between prisoners (PC and NPC) which devolved into breaking the spellcaster’s hands and executing the elf prince.

The player characters fleeing with the most modest of equipment. I’m excited to see how the characters are going to dig deep to escape from their pursuit.

Having now run several timed convention games, I believe I’m more attentive to table and time management.

Where did I get stuck?

The awkward transition moment from “you are helpless captives” to “lets plan all the details”. As many may know, a session that involves lots of planning and deliberation gets rather crazy.

Juggling time between different groups; Some were left in the cages to rest while others performed labor. This meant the spotlight was shifting back and forth.

The layout of the camp makes it very hard for the characters to get their equipment and escape.

What might I do differently?

I would’ve prepared even more. The content in the book is hard to scan. So I will read through the next section with a highlighter and markers.

I would not have introduced two additional NPCs into the equation. There is already a large cast of characters. The ones I introduced tied back to the previous sessions that I ran.

A jail break with 18 prisoners was insane. Too many moving parts. And there were no NPC statistics for the friendly NPCs.

There was a pinch point that I should’ve cleared out as part of the distraction. By not clearing out that pinch point, it made it seemingly impossible for the party to retrieve their equipment. They self-assessed and opted to cut their loses.

Torchbearer with the kids

On Monday, bitter cold and snowfall closed both both school and work. So I asked the kids what RPG they wanted to play. Rather quickly they all said Torchbearer (they had played before and it apparently had captured their attention).

We sat down and started creating characters. I again encouraged them to avoid the Elf and Wizard, focusing on the more mundane classes.

Torchbearer’s character creation is a fantastic blend of base class competencies modified by a handful of questions. Choose where you were born; this gives you a skill and a trait. Choose how you get others to do what you want. Maybe in another post I’ll go into more details.

I decided to run Under the House of the Three Squires – the example adventure in the Torchbearer book. Without spoiling the adventure, I’m going to make a conjecture about why they all specifically wanted to play Torchbearer. It is hard!

I’m not referring to the rules, which take some getting used to. But to the style of play that is hard. Very early they got kicked in the face for not asking questions – they charged in assuming that their Fresh condition would save them.

It didn’t. I felt bad for not providing enough guidance and asked if they wanted to start over. They were willing to soldier on, but I was soft and encouraged them to start over.

They did, and immediately they began asking questions. And from my answers good ideas started flowing. And kept flowing – it was infectious. They were still making tests, but managed to avoid a few of the more treacherous tests.

As they were interacting, asking questions, gently prodding, I found myself gaining greater clarity of the environment that they were exploring; The aappropriate twists or complications were right in front of me.

And this is hard because it is different from much of what they have typically played. Many of the games that they’ve played – some of which I’ve run – have very quickly went to the dice. For example:

GM – Debris is strewn…

Player – I roll to Search. I got an 18.

GM – Um.

In Torcbearer it is likely doing their best to avoid rolling the dice. Not only are the odds not overly in their favor, but every roll depletes one of the parties precious resources – time and the march towards a new condition.

In other words, Torchbearer mechanically encourages “Starting with the Fiction.” Which is likely something that makes complete sense to those that started with the earlier editions of the old school. And has been lost in the translation.

Observations of Dungeon World at Michiana Board Gamers

What follows are my observations regarding the Dungeon World game that I ran at Michiana Board Gamers. The other post was already ridiculously long, so I’m splitting it up.

Observations

Michiana Board Gamers

What a fantastic facility! An area church has graciously offered space for us to use. The people were very friendly and inviting. Michael, thank you so very much for being a host and ambassador for your church.

If you are in the area, please make sure to check out Michiana Board Gamers.

The Namer

The Namer is an interesting playbook but perhaps served for a longer game. Much of what they do requires a true name…which they can research. So in future one-shots I will make sure the Namer is not amongst the batch.

The Namer also has a fantastic racial move that is perfect in the hands of a player ready to embrace this narrative power:

You were raised on oral folklore and traditions of names and songs which took new life for you when you learned their true origin. Whenever you sing or tell a story to impress, captivate or frighten an audience, take +1 forward against them.

Golden Opportunities

I was trying to hit harder on 6- rolls, and think I did that. But it is still not quite in my nature; I like complications but have a hard time really twisting the knife.

As we were wrapping up Mark noted that I was hitting harder when the players presented a golden opportunity.

Flow of Combat

I’m struggling with the flow of combats. Some of the combats devolve into what feels like hack and slash marathons – lots of 10+ rolls for minimal damage. I’ve been playing these as “okay player keep pressing the initiative…you’ve got free rein.” Should I be making soft moves in between a successful hack and slash?

I asked this question at the Dungeon World Tavern, and there are some great responses. In essence, I’m forgetting to follow-up with soft moves that are my response to the players action. As a GM I need to ask the players “What do you do?”; Also as a GM I need to take the results of each player move and answer the implicit “What do you do?” question that the player ask me.

Splitting the Group

Splitting the group in Dungeon World is rather invigorating…as one group faces a hard question I quickly pan to the other characters and have a quick conversation and end with a hard question…then pinball back to the previous group to hear their answer and determine its resolution.

Playbook Selections and One Shots

I love running Dungeon World one shots with a huge selection of playbooks presented to the players. Once they winnow the playbooks, a story and world takes form – it is a custom creation in which each character is “at home”.

At first with this style of improvisation the world is blurry. We fumble a bit as the questions and answers bring the fiction into focus. I almost always feel that this method results in a session trajectory that is steadily improving.

Moves that Don’t Hit the Table

I’ve noticed in the games I run that players don’t often Discern Realities and very rarely Spout Lore. It could be that I tend to run human-centric games, but perhaps something isn’t quite clicking.

Roses and Thorns

And note to self, adopt Mark Truman’s Roses and Thorns post session wrap-ups. I keep saying this, but rarely give myself time to do this.

A Father and Son Night of Marvel Heroic RPG

In preparation for the Goshen Game Day, last Sunday Nick Garcia ran a game of Marvel Heroic RPG. He wanted to familiarize himself with the mechanics and see how long the session would take.

I played Beast and Aidan, my son, played Wolverine. It was strangely reminiscent of real life. For those parents, stick with me, because I think there is a learning experience present in this game.

Sidebar: I’ve watched some X-Men cartoons and moves, but have never read the comics. I do know that Wolverine is a hot-head and Beast is much more calm and collected.

Sidebar 2: There were other players and it was great playing with them, but I’m focusing in on one interaction at the game table.

Wolverine has an Beserk SFX (i.e. special ability) that allows for him to borrow a dice from the Doom Pool (i.e. the dice the GM uses to challenge the players), then return the dice stepped up (i.e. the returned dice is now more dangerous in the GMs hands).

Beast has an Oh My Stars and Garters SFX that allows him to pay a Plot Point (i.e. in game currency used to do something “better” but gained through complications/”bad” things happening to the character) to borrow a dice from the Doom Pool then return the dice stepped down (i.e. the returned dice is now less dangerous in the GMs hands).

Play went like this

  • Wolverine would borrow a dice from the Doom Pool.
  • Wolverine would use the dice.
  • Wolverine would return a larger, more dangerous dice, to the Doom Pool
  • Beast would spend a “hard earned” Plot Point to borrow a dice from the Doom Pool.
  • Beast would use the dice.
  • Beast would return a smaller, less dangerous dice, to the Doom Pool

So here was a case where Beast, at a personal cost, was keeping Wolverine’s recklessness in check – though Aidan recognized that borrowing a d12 may not be a bad thing.

What I would really like to see is both Aidan and I playing Wolverine and Beast to the point where we both understand that interaction. Then switch characters so that he was playing Beast and I was playing Wolverine. Would Aidan notice the shift, and have a more hawkish eye for the doom pool? Would I be able to Beserk with reckless abandon?

And all of this is to say kudos to Margaret Weid Productions for delivering a nuanced game that can so wonderfully models iconic characters, interactions, behaviors, and powers via mechanics . This experience has me very much interested in the Leverage and Smallville RPGs.

…And Finally, Bloodstone

See my previous session notes concerning our ongoing Bloodstone campaign.

Village of Daedmyr

  • Holden is unconscious from a Forte tax.
  • Menas and a handful of dwarves look for their wagon. It is broken beyond immediate repair.
  • Menas finally pays the dwarves, making an Ob 5 resource test.
  • Kruder is noticing that Katie is throwing herself on Remy.
  • Kruder confronts Katie with the intent of making sure she doesn’t do something foolish during her mourning of Oban.
  • Kruder makes an Ugly Truth with Coarse Persuasion FoRK – the consequence is alienating Katie. Kruder almost succeeds, but can’t muster enough successes.
  • Katie slaps Kruder then storms off and throws herself at Remy.
  • Remy and Katie go for a walk, and Remy is hesitant but eventually he gives in.

Village of Skeld

On the border between Arcata and Bloodstone. The village of Skrech is comprised of a fortified manor, several permanent structures, numerous tents, an overflow of people, bodies being buried, buildings burning, and a standing mercenary troop. (This was generated via my Random War-Time Village Generator – harboring a neighbor village, raided 1 hour before arrival, plenty of supplies, paying for a mercenary troop, plus a few secrets).

  • Crispin, Menas, Holden, and Remy were going into town to purchase supplies, a wagon, and a bow for Lady Gwen.
  • Holden was going to disguise himself as a younger man – And fails his Sorcery
  • Garbled transmission and a restless dead rises from the bushes. Most everyone failed their Steel tests, except Menas.
  • Not missing a beat Menas delivered a B13 wound to the restless dead. In hindsight, should have one of Holden’s dead students from the college rise and seek him out.
  • Holden again tried and succeed G7 Sorcery vs. Ob 3 should be a cinch.
  • Upon arriving at the village, the mercenaries exact a toll – 60 pieces of silver (Ob 3 resources), of which Menas had no problem paying.
  • They made their way to a general store and began negotiating for supplies.
  • Menas tried to eavesdrop on a conversation between two patrons of the shop, but they noticed and left (The player called for a Whispered-Secrets-Wise. The consequence would be that the entity in the village would find out. Menas failed the test).
  • Remy, with soothing platitudes, unsuccessfully haggles with the merchant that also engaged in flowery banter.
  • Menas succeeds at a Resource test (Ob 6) to purchase Carriage Wagon, Hunting Bow, and Supplies.
  • Unbeknownst to Menas, Crispin, Holden, and Remy, they were being followed back (This was the direct result of the failed Whispered Secrets-Wise).
  • Menas, Crispin, Holden, and Remy made it safely back to camp.
  • Kruder, having set up a camouflaged sentry was about to break cover when he noticed a huntsman sneaking through the woods.
  • The huntsman noticed him as well.
  • Menas had a crossbow drawn and pointed, while the huntsman only had an arrow nocked.
  • They stared for a bit, then the huntsman dove as Kruder let fly.
  • I gave the huntsman a Speed test to add to the Ob for the Crossbow shot – I figured Ob 3 for the woods +1 Ob per two successes by the huntsman was reasonable.
  • Kruder’s shot was true and delivered a B11 – he was bleeding.
  • Hearing the twang of a crossbow and a thud, the others quickly came to the scene.
  • Lady Gwen worked to save the huntsman, but her skills failed her.
  • Menas wanted to scavenge up some papers – I couldn’t think of anything interesting on failure, so I gave them a map of the Bloodstone vale, including the bandit camp.
  • Clearly they weren’t going to be going back through town. I called for an Orienteering test Ob 2 to skirt around town without being noticed. They failed.

Range & Cover

  • They stumbled into a clearing, and 8 mercenaries in the fields armed with light crossbows took notice.
  • The guards were under the impression that there was a wagon with about 5 people.
  • We dropped into Range & Cover – Matt quickly explained this to Aidan. They were talking about withdrawing.
  • Menas instead chose to split the group.
  • Menas, Crispin, and the dwarven mercenaries would provide rear guard.
  • Kruder, Katie, Dellen, Holden, Dragan, Remy, Brandon, Garlin, Garvin, and Lady Gwen would flee.
  • The mercenaries scripted Close, Close, Charge – They were hoping to fire some crossbows, then finish off the remainder.
  • Menas scripted Withdraw, Maintain, Charge – He wanted to fall further back into the woods then let the opposition come and finally engage with superior forces.
  • Kruder scripted Withdraw, Withdraw, Withrdaw – He needed to ensure everyone was out of the way.
  • Kruder and company managed to escape while the mercenaries beat Menas in the first exchange and rained arrows, however, Menas in his dwarven mail was unassailable.
  • Menas plan worked, and they inflicted some light damage, but the mercs hesitated.
  • And then the dwarves charged and it was mostly over – I called for a Tactics Ob 2 for clean up of inferior forces. Menas failed and one of the dwarves suffered a Traumatic wound.
  • Lady Gwen immediately rushed to tend to the wounded – but the dwarves had finished them off.

Enroute

  • Holden notes that Crispin has been eating lots of meat.
  • Holden attempts to use Second Sight, but is unable to determine if anything is wrong – Jaron should’ve petitioned for a few FoRKs.
  • Lady Gwen, Remy, and Dragan were conspiring to open the letter from Brother Kevin of the Fendowns, a priest of Ilmater.
  • Menas grabbed the letter from Lady Gwen, and opened it (Opposed Speed tests, Menas succeeded)
  • Kruder threatened Menas then bashed him, grabbing the paper and giving it back to Lady Gwen (Brawling vs. Speed).
  • Lady Gwen proceeded to read the letter aloud.
  • The letter’s contents made mention of sacrilegious texts sent by Abott Aldric of Bloodstone, a boy named Elven who showed signs of true faith. The letter was gracious for the other true religious texts of Ilmater.

Bloodstone

Clearly a village that has seen better days, the village of Bloodstone is run down. The walls are in disrepair, the gates are broken, the villagers are without hope.

  • Katie immediately, throws coins to the innkeeper, and drags Remy to a private room.
  • Lady Gwen and Holden go to the abby and speek with Abbott Aldric.
  • Lady Gwen stretches the truth saying brigands took the letter and opened it.
  • Holden calls her out.
  • Lady Gwen recants, and gives the letter to the Abbott.
  • The Abbott asks if Lady Gwen read the letter.
  • Lady Gwen lied, and was caught by the Abbott.
  • The Abbott insisted Lady Gwen seek penance the Ilmater way – self-flagellation (Lady Gwen has an ongoing +1 Ob until the next day).
  • Dragan is flirting with Lady Gwen.
  • Dragan reveals his holy Illumination of Lady Gwen – created with masterful detail (4 successes).
  • Lady Gwen gives her valiant lover a kerchief – And thus the chivalrous love blossoms.
  • Squire Marlen, a 60 year old man, is grandfather of Garlen and Garvin. He is the squire of Baron Tranth of Bloodstone.
  • Squire Marlen thanked Lady Gwen for her tending to Garlen, and offered any future assistance
  • Menas learns that since the Bloodstone mines were abandoned, there is little contact between the neighboring dwarves.
  • Holden learns of Instructor Jeffry, a member of the college, who was last seen with the dwarves to the north.
  • Lady Gwen and Katie have a conversation about Remy being so wonderful.
  • Garvin is dressed up in finery and invites the characters to dinner with the Baron.

We ended the session with the characters preparing for a formal dinner with Baron Tranth.

End Session Procedures

Artha Awards

We wrapped up by going over the Artha awards – prior to this session I’ve defaulted to giving 2 Fate and 1 Persona without much discussion. I warned the players that this would be the last session where we would have the default awards.

It turns out Aidan has been doing pretty well with Menas, though one belief needs refocusing. Savannah simply needs to refocus her beliefs, and she will knock it out of the park. Matt needs to tweak his beliefs a bit to reflect the current state of the narrative. Jaron and Joe are having the hardest times with their beliefs as they put most of the work on me, a busy GM managing a host of NPCs.

Trait Vote

We did a quick trait vote and handed out character traits to everyone. Menas is impulsive. Kruder is watchful. Remy is honey-tongued. Lady Gwen has a healing touch. Holden is counseling (though Trustworthy may be better).

Changing Beliefs

Lady Gwen changed her belief from a very passive belief to “I will be the religious leader of Bloodstone by telling everyone of Abbott Aldric’s vile books.” I like it a lot. Lady Gwen told a lie, got caught, and is throwing a gigantic tantrum – one that will rock the faith community of Bloodstone. Then again, Abbott Aldric may need a kick in the pants.

I encouraged others to review their beliefs and ask me for some help. I want to hear the wheels humming!

Players, did I miss anything?

Observations

And Time Passes

After my conversation about advancing the timeline, I wanted to make sure that the characters arrived in Bloodstone.

All said, this session spanned 8 days of campaign time; Since the beginning of the campaign 12 days have passed.

Questions

I used a handful of pointed questions to provide a bit of flavor for the trip. By preparing and asking questions, I believe I was able to help the players get into their character’s minds and respond accordingly.

This bit was inspired/borrowed from Robert Bohl’s “Mispent Youth“, and D. Vincent Baker’s “Apocalypse World

Scavenge

I need to read up a bit on Scavenging and spend some time thinking about what to do about it. Any advice from fellow Burners?

Consequences of Failure

Everyone was pounding on this, making sure that a test had the appropriate complication. Matt in particular was asking what the consequences were. While I welcome the request for consequences, I need to push back and ask “What is your intent and how are you achieving it?”

Garbled Transmission

As I was writing the session report, I realized what Holden’s garbled transmission should have been…a sense of forboding followed a few days later by a restless dead finding Holden’s room…the restless dead would be a student that in part blamed Holden for his death.

Range and Cover

I’ve been leaning on Range and Cover, so I need to brush up on the rules of engagement. I’m really enjoying it, and was proud that Aidan stepped up and scripted what turned out to be both a brave and brilliant tactical decision.