Sunday, August 7, 2016

New Barbary Session 1, Delivery in La Habana

I ran New Barbary/La Habana yesterday, and it went very well.

The perpetrators:
  • An amnesiac Castilian deserter with a talent for fighting and a real gift for lying. He still remembers that the fort he was assigned to (Castillo de San Marcos in La Florida) is threatened by a mysterious curse or god.
  • Sol, A mysterious maskmaker practiced in botany and superior pact-making skills. She had a hard time lying and a nearly supernatural ability to get people to tell her the truth. She was contracted by a devil to repair its mask, which was destroyed by the same entity that threatens the Castillo de San Marcos--or so the devil says.
by Christophe Meneboeuf, distributed under CC-BY-SA license
They owed their cantankerous one-legged landlady 100 pesetas by the end of the week or she was going to sell off all their stuff, evict them, and alert the constabulary. They decided on approaching the Red Hibiscus Society for work, and were led to the bathtub-bound towering ex-bandit who led the Society: Uncle Yusuf. He told them to pick up a package from the House of Honey and Salt and deliver it to a dead drop location at the Old Royal Park.

On the way, they evaded a pack of coyotes gnawing on a body in the abandoned urban areas around the Souk, and tripped over the body of a (extremely stabbed) courier. The letter clutched in his hand was addressed to Frederico Buendía, the owner of the biggest distillery in Cuba, warning him that the infamous pirate Sayyida al Hurra had stolen a major molasses shipment, which would cost him an enormous sum of money and drive up the price of rum catastrophically.

Bearing this in mind, they pick up the package from the Saints. It's pretty disturbing--they are told not to open the package, get it wet, breath heavily around it, or spend much time touching it. Sol asks for an extra blanket to wrap around it, and pretends she's carrying a child. On the way out, she notices it's a bit warmer than body temperature and might even be moving subtly. 

On the way to Old Royal Park, they notice a man with a hat pulled low over his face following them. They set up an ambush and successfully capture him, forcing him to reveal he works for a rival gang (the Ivory Palm Guild). The Deserter knocks him out, and they steal his machete, a flask filled with a floral-smelling liquid, and a brick wrapped in paper--possibly a decoy for the package they are trying to deliver.

They reach the Park without complication, hide the package, and successfully flee a group of Ivory Palm Guildsmen, including a limping figure clutching his head. However, while running away they stumble into two sorcerers who manage to catch up with them, helped by a dimly seen creature that blinds the Deserter. It's a man and a woman--Rosa and Rodrigo--who Sol guesses correctly work for the Klatch. They were trying to prevent the Saint's package from being delivered to the Red Hibiscus Society, but now that it already has been, they want Sol and the Deserter to figure out where it is being kept. They agreed, realizing the Saints and Society were probably up to no good and also recognizing that Rosa was probably going to shoot them otherwise.

They return to the Red Hibiscus Society's headquarters and receive their reward from Uncle Yusuf, with a small bonus for fending off the Ivory Palm Guild. Then they alerted Frederico about the impending rum-market disaster. He gave them a small award and agreed to let Sol and the Deserter join his expedition to get the molasses back (the Deserter lied about his Navy experience, and since Frederico thought he possessed "the steady gaze of an honest man", he let them join). It would leave in a few days.

The next day, the party, wanting more money so they could outfit themselves for their coming adventure, asked for more work at the R.H.S. They were told to deliver a sealed cask to the bastard Castilians, but on the way a mysterious, ragged man named Jorge asked if he could poison the cask, with the promise that it would only "cause digestive distress" and that his days as a smuggler would let him tamper with the seal without chance of discovery. They were very hesitant, but as Jorge enjoyed a cigarette they decided to let Jorge do it if he and his "many friends in lofty office" agreed to search for the R.H.S.'s hidden and guarded package. Jorge poisoned the cask, and the bastard Castilians took it without even looking Sol and the Deserter.

Flush with cash, they went the Souk and bought themselves a rusted breastplate and a suit of tattered leathers for armor. Sol purchased some sacrifices so she could form a contract with one of the Souk's Mercenary Gods, and settled on The Beast Among The Lilies, a jaguar-spirit that could strengthen the Deserter or fight on its own.

We ended the session with Sol and the Deserter ready for the hunt for the pirate Sayyida.

Lessons Learned
  • Vornheim remains the most useful rpg book I own. I went into that session with my blogposts on New Barbary and the following prep. Everything else I scribbled in during breaks or generated/rolled up from Vornheim.
  • This WaRP hack is going very well. The Klatch sorcerer that blinded the Deserter was just "Rodrigo: spirit of darkness 3D, 10 HP" and he did everything he needed to do.
  • D&D has a lot of granularity and mechanics I don't really use because of the types of games I tend to run. If I were to run San Serafin has a hard dungeon crawl, I would definitely use D&D, but WaRP seems to work quite well for what I want to run right now.
  • San Serafin is still a location and the players actually laughed out loud when I said they could go there to look for treasure.
  • The players really like the shrines of Mercenary Gods at the Souk.

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