Better Than Any Man: Adred’s head

As we’re getting into the thick of BTAM, here’s the standard spoiler alert; this post has spoilers, if you think you might play BTAM at some point go and read something else (like my Advanced Fighting Fantasy: Gallows End to Hellwinter session report).

Surrounded by the misery and suffering of the refugee camp outside Karlstadt the adventurers consider how they might gain access to the town (their mission being to kill The Seven and take their heads to Wurzburg). Like the thousands of people in the camp who are fleeing the advancing Swedish Army and desperately seeking shelter in Karlstadt and protection from The Seven, there only seems to be one way in. Present yourself before the gates before the one known as The Watcher.

friedrich-von-punteani-an-army-camp-during-the-thirty-years-war

The party spilts to enquire around the camp and pick up some further rumours while avoiding the Burgerfriendensmiliz, the town militia who take a dim view of armed travellers. Miklos’ attention is drawn to a woman who is preaching portents of doom (like anyone around here needs reminding), who with her eyes rolling in her head shouts “the Insect God will devour humanity!”¬†Miklos approaches and learns the woman, Solla Zurzen, once resided in Karlstadt and curses the one known as The Mother. “She killed my cat and has taken children, Ulrike Lamprecht is evil!”¬†Unfortunately Solla is able to recall little about her Insect God prophecies as she made them in a trance like state. She does point out the swarms of insects that seem to be everywhere…

Meanwhile Maldron is approached by a worn and world weary thug who asks if he and his friends are looking for work. He tells the fighter that his boss has observed the group and believes they could help each other out. If so, Maldron should find his companions and meet him under a nearby tree in one hour.

Desperate MotherNot far away a despairing woman asks Hemming for help. Through her tears she introduces herself as Clora Machholter and asks will Hemming and his accomplices to save her daughter Lena who has been kidnapped. She found a note at the place she had left Lena for a short and shows the parchment with the demand for 1000 pieces of silver to be dropped at the Braasch farm a few miles away. The money was to be in bags on a mule, the deliverer then leave the farm and a couple of hours later the child would be on the mule. Despite pleading and making offers that showed the extent of her misery and desperation Hemming and the Black Dogs remained focused on their task – finding a way into Karlstadt.

After meeting the thug under the tree the Black Dogs are taken to meet Adred Jaeger, the leader of the self-styled¬†Jaegerstruppe. Jaeger’s criminal business is prostitution, taking advantage of desperate women in the camp and the adventurers take an immediate dislike to him. However, an interesting offer is put on the table; if the party can kill Gabi Tabbecker, the leader of another gang in the camp that deals in smuggling and protection, he will show them a way into Karlstadt. With little to lose at this time the party approach the Tabbecker tent accompanied by one of Jaeger’s thugs Paolo.

It becomes apparent that Tabbecker is just as unpleasant as Jaeger, taking advantage of the refugees, however she is the lesser evil and because they talk to her first she makes a counter offer. Bring her the head of Jaeger and she will give them a safe route into Karlstadt. With the adventurers having taken such a dislike to Jaeger they take this offer and stealthily return to the Jaegerstruppe camp.

handgonneimage1

Sniping from the outskirts of the camp Miklos and Balock kill Adred Jaeger with their crossbows and it doesn’t take much for Hemming with his magic missiles to take down and scare away the remaining Jaegerstruppe. They plunder the camp and take Jaeger’s head back to Tabbecker.

True to her word she rewards the PC’s by taking them to a farmstead half a mile north of Karlstadt which gives entrance to one of the old smuggling tunnels into the town…

 

Advanced Fighting Fantasy: Gallows End to Hellwinter

For the past 12 months or so Monday evenings have been split between Flashing Blades and more recently a monthly session of Pulp Cthulhu. This week the regular Monday group was scheduled to start a modern day Call of Cthulhu adventure, however with one of our players out of action that was postponed. We were looking for something else to play and I had been looking for an opportunity to try out Arion Games’ Advanced Fighting Fantasy (AFF) – a game under consideration for Grogfight!

wpbb2109b7_06AFF is the most recent incarnation of the RPG based on the Fighting Fantasy series of game books; I’d eat my hat if you haven’t at least heard of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain; most likely you played it in your youth. The system has no classes or levels and is very simple with three core stats – Skill, Stamina and Luck, and the additional Magic and Magic Points for wizardly types, then special skills which allow characters to do cool stuff, and a few different types of magic. The system uses 2d6 for all actions; roll under stat+skill for unopposed skill tests and add 2d6+stat+skill for combat and opposed skill tests. These two different skill tests caused some confusion and in future I’ll use the optional rule of 2d6+stat+skill vs target number for unopposed skills – then all rolls will use the same mechanism.

The adventure started in Gallows End, a small frontier village on the edge of the Bron forest. Our heroes are tasked by the Baron of Tytern with discovering the fate of Sir Gallaharn Kairn, a knight sent to the frontier fortress of Hellwinter. After a few questions to the local peasants they pick up a couple of rumours: undead are gathering to the north and there are druids in the forest. Winter furs are purchased for the journey ahead the group set off through the forest.

The Gates of Hellwinter Cover

Torrential rain, grey skies and a biting wind make their journey through the forest a thoroughly unpleasant one, made all the worse by a goblin ambush (is there a starter adventure for any fantasy game that doesn’t feature goblins or kobolds?) Daggers flying out from the shadows of the trees injure the wizard and priest and before too long the party are toe to toe scrapping with their scrawny assailants.

This gave me a great opportunity to get a feel for combat, and I liked how it played. Each combatant rolls 2d6+stat+weapon skill and whoever gets the highest damages their opponent – armour can further reduce the damage. We had some spells firing off as well; a starting wizard feels much more powerful than a level 1 D&D/OSR Magic-User and the spells were used to fry some of the goblins.

The fight over and wounds healed the party continued to the foothills of the mountains on which the Tower of Hellwinter was perched, cold, wet and miserable. It seems it’s not going to be a peaceful night as roars from two directions bring them to attention…

The session was fairly short – no more than an hour and half, but the PC’s made decent progress. We may get to complete the adventure at some point, but I’m looking forward to starting Call of Cthulhu and the sessions served it’s purpose of giving me some insights into how the system plays at the table. While I’m still undecided on which system to use for Grogfight, AFF is starting to edge ahead of DCC…