November seems such a long time ago now, but I still have great memories of games played and people met at Grogmeet 17. Organised by Dirk the Dice, host of the Grognard Files podcast, this is an evening and full day RPG meetup in the heart of Manchester. For those who were unable to attend Dirk arranged Virtual Grogmeet, an evening and day of gaming taking place this weekend over Roll20.
The event was arranged well in advance with lots of time to consider what adventures to run. I had thought of running something Pulpish, but ultimately decided to stick to my favourite system, offering to run one of the published Lamentations of the Flame Princess scenarios Forgive Us. Yesterday evening I was joined by Andrew, Graham, Howard, Steve and Tom as they set out to recover a green porcelain demon mask from the Tenebrous Hand.
Roll20, as brilliant as it is, once more failed us on the voice and video front with players dropping in and out. We fell back on the more reliable Hangouts which I will use as default if I have more than 3 players in future. Characters were chosen and we got underway.
Spoilers ahead if you plan to play Forgive Us at some future point!
Kick off: Too clever for their own good
Having climbed into the Butchers through the roof the party encounter a mutated dog in an attached room. Engaging their OSR drive by trying to avoid unnecessary conflicts, they came up with a clever plan which became known as the Norwich Gambit. Their scheme in place they opened doors while keeping out of the beasts reach and felt some degree of cleverness as their ploy worked and the external door was closed behind the dog as it wandered outside. They were later to discover the consequences of that cleverness.
Half-time: Praise God for PraiseGod!
Further exploration of the complex was hindered by all of the doors being locked. The party’s specialist, PraiseGod Barebones was essential to their continued exploration of residential areas and The Dog & Bastard alehouse. The evening became weirder with pools of stinking black goo, a madman and a revealing and unnerving suicide scene. A letter found at this scene left the adventurers wondering whether the Norwich Gambit had been a good move.
End-game: The Vault of Doom
Further investigation lead the party into the cellar and the Tenebrous Hand’s vault. Even I found that bit creepy, a room full of stationary, undisturbed gribbly monster things in a room full of treasures. Dynamic lighting really created suspense here as the players were unable to see each other or the number of creatures. Needless to say the party found the treasure they were after but having lingered too long saw the monsters stirring. As the party fled to the exit O’Neill the sorcerer covered the floor in sticky webs; holding the monsters as intended, but in doing so made it more difficult for the other adventurers to escape. Poor Whitehead, even as the rest of them fled they could hear his screams.
As they fled from the complex into the cool night air of Norwich, the screams across the city made it clear why the Norwich Gambit had not paid off.
Forgive Us is a fantastic set piece adventure with an eerie atmosphere which grows as the game progresses. I did have concerns about fitting the game into the allocated time slot, and conversely had to make tweaks to accommodate the time constraint; I can see the adventure fitting more comfortably into two or three sessions. Like much of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess material the adventure is perfectly presented and eminently usable at the table. There are two other smaller adventurers in the package as well which I would hope to run sometime.
Despite the video issues Roll20 delivered on it’s promise – dynamic lighting is perfect for an scenario like this (although can be a pain to set up), limiting each players view of their environment and sometimes the other characters. I used a few sound effects for fright value and some background ambience; I reckon these add to the game if not overused.
A huge thank you to the players, Andy, Graham, Howard, Steve and Tom who threw themselves into the game and came up with really creative play. And a big thanks to Dirk the Dice for organising Virtual Grogmeet – onwards to the next one (via Grogmeet18)!