Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Albion Hangout Play Report 1

Murderous 10 year old eunuch warlock; has a contract with the mad angel Penemue

Bartholomew III
Pseudo-noble conman fighter with a taste for forbidden romance

Androgynous vampire; howling fop; carries a parasol and a coffin

Janet Snakehole (erm)
Bartholomew III's pseudo-noble conwoman partner-in-crime; possesses unspecified talents, possibly has a gift for assassination

Korgan/Kergan/Can't remember his name
Gnarled mystic; wearer of loincloths; warlock bound to Old Queen Mab, the fairy of malediction

The party begins in Queen's Crossing, where they elected to take on the job posted by the town's Postmaster, which required them to venture to the tiny village of Scavenger's Weir to find out why all couriers sent there have vanished. They decided to take the somewhat more dangerous route through Albion's untamed Greywood, on the southern/eastern side of the River Dour. After about half a day's travel, they see a watchtower peeking over the trees and decide to investigate, coming upon an old Roman fort in suspiciously good repair.

Janet and Jessica sneak forward as the rest of the party hangs back. Janet steps on a branch (i.e. Jeremy immediately fails his Stealth check), and the guards in the fort's watchtowers call out. They receive her enthusiastically (i.e. I rolled an 11 on their Reaction check) and demand that she join forces with them.

Jessica leaps from her hiding spot and suggests that they work for the party instead. In response, a woman in resplendent centurion armor bursts out of the gate (followed by several disheveled "Praetorians" mumbling in execrable Latin) and tells Jessica to stop talking and sit down. She introduces herself as the Empress Henrietta and demands that the party join her or die. That such an earthy personage in such martial gear call herself Empress  "offends Jessica's imperialist sensibilities", and the vampire says that she is no head of state. Henrietta's lackeys gasp, and she tries to stab Jessica in the face. There's a fight, with highlights as follows:
  • Goldenloin swears fealty to Henrietta in the middle of the fight and tries and fails to stab her in the back after she retreats upon being shot in the neck.
  • Jessica gets laid out by a well-placed bullet, while Bartholomew III is reduced to 0 HP. He tries to revive her by wringing the blood from his wound into Jessica's mouth, which doesn't work until after the fight.
  • Korgan catches up with the party, calls upon Old Queen Mab to impale his enemies with lances, and she sucks out his vitality instead.
  • Henrietta gets increasingly wild-eyed and shouty
The battle ends when Janet staves in Empress Henrietta's head with a pistol grip. The Empress' soldiers immediately give up, and start drinking and playing dice in the corner of the fort as soon as they can. Bartholomew III rings squeezes some of Henrietta's blood into Jessica's mouth, who manages to revive. The ex-legionaries tell Jessica that the Empress was once Professor Henrietta Lately at the Royal Society, according to the monogram she brought with her, before she decided to set out into the wilderness in pursuit of Empire. They were once bandits, but she tore out their bosses jugular with her teeth and scared them into submission. The party finds an aged, mangy horse, painted white and burdened with poorly gilted riding tack, which they use to carry the potentially valuable antique armor they lifted from the Empress dethroned.

They follow the river onward and encounter a crumbling, partially submerged keep slumping into the water. After a brief investigation, Goldenloin calls upon the knowledge of Penemue to determine how safe spending the night in the keep would be. Upon doing so, he discovers a scrimshawed skull behind a piece of rubble, which reads as follows:

My dearest Goldenloin,

I have considered your proposal and would like to accept, but I'm afraid you must lend me some of your sanity in return.

--your friend, P.

Goldenloin accepts the terms (takes d4 Wisdom damage) and sees that the keep is dangerous, but not insurmountably so. Bartholomew III bravely asserts that his fate is not to die in some keep, and plunges onward with the party in tow. They go down a set of steps into a large, empty antechamber, with another flight of stairs leading deeper, which they take. About 10 feet down, a howling, pallid man charges Bartholomew, and they grapple on the ground as the party looks on. Jessica tries to stab the man, but sees multiple pinprick scars on his neck, and realizes he is "the help" of some vampire. As he says this, a soaking wet, muck-covered woman in antique finery emerges from the gloom and welcomes Jessica as an equal (rolled really high reaction rolls this session). She also thanks Jessica for bringing so many snacks. Jessica apologizes and says that the party isn't ripe yet--like cheese, humans are best eaten aged. The vampire accepts this explanation, crushes the head of her thrall with a spiked heel for his rudeness, and drags him into the dark by a leg. More importantly, she promises to leave the party alone and will let them stay in her empty antechamber.

They leave the following evening, which allows Jessica to travel about without suffering in the sunlight. While they rest, goes on a jaunt for a meal, and by a great deal of luck comes upon a Dr. Adelphus and his hirsute bodyguard MR CRUSHMORE, surveying land for possible purchase. Jessica Charms Mr. Crushmore, and Dr. Adelphus leaves his enamored bodyguard in disgust.

The party bypasses any more potentially complicating encounters and arrives at Scavenger's Weirat sunrise (I said sunset, but that was wrong). It is a small town, consisting of a series of houses perched atop islands, with bridges and weirs crisscrossing in between. A newly constructed palisade surrounds the party of the town on the banks. Ezekiel, the guardsman, reluctantly lets the party in at the feeble sight of Goldenloin crying for food, despite the protests of Mrs. Chamberlain, a hunched and powerfully built woman adorned with a great number of guns.


I'm honestly a big softy when it comes to player death, and whenever I have strict rules about it, I put them in place really erratically. I'd rather have more generous rules I enforce fairly and consistently.

Adapted from 5e:
  • 1 or more HP means you're hale 'n' hearty
  • If you HP is between 0 and half your negative Constitution score, rounded up, you are dying. You can roll to recover on each of your turns. Roll a d20. On a 10+, you enjoy 1 success. On a 9-, you suffer 1 failure. After 3 successes, you are back to 1 HP. After 3 failures, you die
  • Vampires don't bleed out, so when their HP is between 0 and half their negative Constitution score, they are simply unconscious. However, they can't recover on their own either. If they are fed HP in blood worth half their Con score, they wake up with 1 HP
  • If you have less HP than half your negative Constitution score, you die
  • Enemies have no problem hitting you while you're down
There is now a Medic skill. Everyone has a 1 in 6 chance of succeeding, and Specialists can improve it like any other skill. Succeeding a Medic check gives a patient an additional recovery success, while failing one gives them an additional recovery failure.

I'm also really liking reaction rolls. The party was really lucky this session, and I think I could represent ambivalent or friendly reactions in more interesting ways, but I think having randomly determined hostility makes things better, overall.

1 comment:

  1. Reaction rolls are awesome as they are emergent story, even the DM has no idea what might happen.

    My games use a similar Medic skill. It works and means you can dump clerics if they don't fit into your campaign world.

    As for death - have you tried a Death & Dismemberment type table i.e. roll when hp<0? My players really like it as it is another random table and leads to some long term effects even if they do survive like losing arms, eyes, getting hideous scars etc.