With a small change in personnel from last week we are missing The Captain, but are joined by Ben playing Balock, a specialist. Planning for this campaign I used the approach take by Steve in his RuneQuest game – a session will go ahead if we have at least 3 players, and rather than construct dubious narrative explanations for why a particular character isn’t present, we will just add and drop them as needed. No narrative sleight of hand required. Characters are there or they aren’t. Any anomalies will be dealt with as they come up.
I also expanded upon the house rules for the campaign. RAW LotFP is fantastic, but there were a couple of bits I wanted to tweak – adding occupations, critical hits and fumbles, dual wielding and some tweaks to the skills system. My house rules are here.
As with last weeks report this contains spoilers for A Stranger Storm and Better Than Any Man, if you expect to play them at any point read no further.
The Incontinent Vicar
Last week our adventurers found themselves in The Incontinent Vicar, a roadside inn not so many miles from their destination, Ochsenfurt. They had been warming themselves by the fire, and eating and drinking while talking with the innkeeper Dieter Letzel until way past the early hours. Our last session ended when Dieter Letzel came down the stairs in his nightshirt.
Both of the Dieter Letzel’s are identical apart from their clothes and after the initial shock, accusations of fraud, deceit and witchcraft they both attack the other grabbing makeshift weapons. Before they can do much more than clobber each other Miklos hauls the innkeeper Dieter across the bar and into the kitchen while Maldron grabs nightshirt Dieter in a bear hug. Confusion reins – what the hell is going on?
Both Dieter’s claim the inn is theirs, the other Dieter is an impostor, a witch or a demon. And they are frantic, both as convincing as the other.
It’s not long before the entertainers and merchants come running down the stairs, woken by the furore. Some of the entertainers are armed with rapiers and daggers, perhaps believing the adventurers to be bandits (what could possibly give them that impression?), and come upon a scene of two restrained Dieters and four heavily armed rough and ready types. The leader of the entertainers, Friedwart Pfefferberg steps forward and demands to know what is going on – both him and his companions look particularly disturbed.
The scene is set for an evening of confusion, paranoia and desperate plans.
- One of the young entertainers, Adelgis Schottel, is the exact duplicate of the body outside with the knife wound in his back. They tell the party that they offered a lift to a minstrel on the road as he was soaked from the storm, but after getting into their coach he transformed and was identical to Adelgis. There was a chaotic fight and one of the Adelgis’ was stabbed in the back. Fearful of the outcome of their actions they hurriedly hid the dead Adelgis’ body in the bushes to the side of the road.
- Balock checks Dieter’s room and finds a crucifix, a bible and a letter confirming employment with Ursula Gottlieb, a young lady employee as a cook from the nearby village of Simmershofen.
- Hemming recalls that doppelgangers (or changelings) have a valuable gem embedded in their heart.
- The leader of the merchants Guntram Schneller declares that the characters have no right to stop them leaving and the merchants move to the stairs, but their way is blocked by Maldron and Hemming makes it quite clear that if they insist on trying to leave things will not go well for them.
- For the nth time Hemming shares his idea of burning the place to the ground with everyone in it.
- Balock and Miklos take nightshirt Dieter into the kitchen and question him, but everything adds up – surely he can’t be the changeling. This Dieter asks them to fetch Father Drucker from the nearby village of Simmershofen, he will know how to resolve this situation.
- While questioning Dieter in the kitchen Ursula Gottlieb arrives for work, ready to cook breakfast for the guests. When she sees Dieter with the two armed men she screams, but eventually calms down enough to be questioned about Dieter. Little useful information is obtained.
- Now everyone is back in the common room Hemming questions innkeeper Dieter, trying to catch him out on a lack of knowledge, but this Dieter seems to know as much about the inn as the other Dieter. He even shows where he keeps a pistol hidden under the floorboards behind the bar. Dieter suggests fetching Father Drucker from Simmershofen, he will know how to resolve this situation.
- The external kitchen door is heard to open again and upon checking Hemming is (or maybe isn’t) surprised to find Ursula Gottlieb coming into the kitchen, ready to cook breakfast for the guests. She screams and tries to run back out through the kitchen door, but her way is blocked by Balock. Taken into the common room, Ursula’s screams amplify as she sees two Dieters and another Ursula. The other Ursula joins her. It takes a while to calm them both down.
- Innkeeper Dieter tells the characters that he has some information that he believes will help them sort this mess out, but he will only give it out of earshot of the other Dieter; so Balock and Miklos lead him into the kitchen. Once the kitchen door is closed Dieter changes shape and in a second is an exact duplicate of Balock. Even though Miklos saw the transformation, he is not sure which is the real Balock and which is the changeling. The Balocks start to fight and one is lightly wounded before both offering to be tied up so this can be sorted out. Both Balocks are taken captive and brought back into the common room.
- Hemming drags the body in from outside and hacks it to pieces in the kitchen, discovering a gem in it’s heart. At least they can believe Adelgis is not a changeling. Returning to the common room covered in blood, his grim visage triggers another bout of screams from both Ursula’s.
- The merchants want to get underway as they have important business to attend to; the entertainers are in no rush. However, they all want to change into their travelling clothes. A plan is concocted to tie them together in their groups, so to deter any would be dopplegangers from mimicking anyone else (did someone say paranoid?), but the party do not have any rope.
- Miklos and Hemming fetch rope from the coachhouse and discover there are too many horses for the coaches, 16 in total, while the two coaches are designed to be pulled by two and four horses each… someone suggested there could be doppleganger horses, a ludicrous notion. The merchants and entertainers get dressed although it takes some time.
- Real non-changeling (as far as they adventurers know) Dieter advises the group to fetch Father Drucker from Simmershofen, taking Ursula Gottlieb (one or both?) with them. He will not leave the inn, the merchants want to get underway and the entertainers want reassurance from a priest before travelling further.
What the characters are going to do next I have no idea…