Better Than Any Man: Always split the party

Warning: BTAM spoilers ahead!

Last session we ended mid combat with Miklos and Balock scrapping two of the Milizionäre in the church of St Andreas while attempting to retrieve the Leg Bone of St Burchard (a supposedly powerful relic) from the crypt. Maldron and Captain Hermann (a long term NPC companion) found themselves swallowed by The Defiler’s Creature and existing in some weird dimensional inner stomach, Hemming arriving on the scene to witness this disturbing chow down before the bipedal nightmare turned it’s attention on him.

“Never split the party” is a common maxim frequently heard amongst roleplayers, particularly adherents of OSR. Perhaps less frequently heard, is “Don’t take a knife to a gunfight”, still very sound advice. Our adventurers in this instance, partially through circumstance and otherwise through choice, decided to split the party while they were very lightly armed (due to the weapon ban), arguably giving short shrift to both these pieces of advice.

fcd0844962f47bb318c07d0e935ff1e8With most of the Milizionäre falling for The Black Dogs ploy of stirring up the populace with rumours of imminent Swedish army arrival, Balock and Miklos, dressed themselves as Burgerfriedensmiliz and fought and killed the two remaining guards. The two doors into the church were quickly barred and rogue and priest started to investigate. Balock discovered stairs leading down… to a crypt!

Meanwhile Hemming appears on the scene having pushed through the panicked crowd of refugees and citizens, arriving just a little late to save Maldron and Captain Hermann. His years spent pouring over dusty arcane tomes in the libraries of Stockholm pay dividends as he understands the nature of The Defiler’s Creature and there may be a chance for Maldron and Captain Hermann to survive. All he has to do is not kill the creature and stay alive himself while it chases him.


Big spoiler: when The Defiler’s Creature successfully hits, it causes 1hp damage and the target is ‘swallowed’, appearing in an area with another copy of the creature. If this creature is killed the victim returns to the previous ‘level’, but if hit again they suffer 2hp of damage and go down another level to face another fresh version of the creature… and so on. Because I thought it would be too much faff for each character to end up in their own version of the stomach, I had all present swallowed on a successful attack by the beast.


In the 1st level of stomach dimension inside the creature Maldron and Hermann fight for their lives, regretting having brought weapons no bigger than a pistol (used as a club) and a shortsword. They develop a tactic – one of them taunts the creature and takes on a defensive stance for +4AC while the other strikes from behind with +2 to hit; this works to a degree, but all it takes is one hit from the creature to send them down a level.  And that happens more than once…

crypt_by_sonofamorticianBack in the church Miklos and Balock head into the crypt, discovering a passage with the traditional sarcophagus’ in alcoves (nothing to worry about there), a small earthen tunnel leading away (perhaps to the graveyard) and behind bars the object of their mission – the leg bone of St Burchard! As they grab the bone and prepare to make their exit they can hear heavy stone shifting on heavy stone, what can it mean?

Hemming tries to lead The Defiler’s Creature towards the Milizionäre who are gathered around Emma Gäbges (The Defiler) having heard her scream. The Magic-user’s hope is that the creature will attack the guards, but before the opportunity arises there ensues a game of cat and mouse with Hemming deftly leaping over the cemetery railings and hiding behind gravestones. Realising his ploy isn’t going to work he takes the opportunity to attack The Defiler, sending forth screaming skulls which tear at her flesh, leaving only part of a skeleton and her head in tact, a look of sheer terror on her face as the undead she has feared for so long have come to get her. Taking advantage of the stunned guards Hemming runs away into the darkness while the creature is drawn towards The Defiler’s remains. Knowing some of the other Black Dogs are in the church he tries to gain entrance but is unable to (because Balock and Miklos barred the doors).

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The battle to get back to reality continues with Maldron and Captain Hermann going up and down levels, their endurance wearing down as they take more and more damage.  At one point it seems like their tactics might just work, but the hand of fate is against them and as an attempt to taunt the creature fails, it attacks Hermann and devours him – this time Maldron is all alone when he goes down a level. Now with 3hp left and 5 versions of the creature still to fight Maldron resigns himself to his fate and charges at the monster, sword raised high…

Sensing an ominous presence in the crypt of St Andreas, the two tomb robbers decide to run leaving behind a chest that may have contained a load of gold (they didn’t even try to open it!). They run out of the church and into the night, finally catching up with Hemming and returning to the Conspirator’s safe house. No doubt they will wait for many hours to see if Maldron and Captain Hermann turn up, but in time realise that is never going to happen…

BurritoCon2 over and out

Manchester gave us great weather and a fantastic venue for the nano-RPG Con with the food inspired name, just as perfectly formed and tasty as it’s namesake: BurritoCon!

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This is the second time we’ve run the event (I feebly scrawled about the first one) and after filling two tables with great gamers first time we wondered – could we fill three tables?  The three table plan was ambitious, perhaps too ambitious (OK definitely too ambitious) but we did have two tables of fantastic players and GM’s. We planned for more time which I thought really helped, two 4 hours sessions with an hour for lunch.

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The day panned out like this:

Morning session 10am-2pm

The table of terror hosted The Cthulhu Hack, expertly GM’d by the author himself @boreders . I’ve played in one of Paul’s games before and he does a great job conveying a growing atmosphere of terror and futility, perfect horror stuff. By all accounts this was a great game, enjoyed by all the players.

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Those smiles mask the real terror in their souls…

I’ve not played Traveller for decades and so was excited to grab a place at  table. This was a dark future with strong hints of Alien and Bladerunner, a grim future with a dark universe. Tim ran a great game putting together an intriguing mystery and with some dark twists and turns. I was impressed by the Traveller system, it was very tidy and played really well at the table.

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Love those 15mm Traveller mini’s, beautifully painted

Afternoon session 3pm-7pm

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I don’t have a photo of the group, so this will have to do. We met one of these things… 

By pure coincidence the afternoon session had a post apocalyptic theme, with  running Rifts, a weird science fantasy game from the 80’s and  running Umerican Survival Guide, more or less Gonzo Mad Max on a Dungeon Crawl Classics chassis.

I’ve heard Rifts described as clunky, but I thought it played really well – I know Kris had simplified things for us. It was a classic rescue mission with some nice set pieces and inter-dimensional beings. Great stuff!

The players in USG were full of enthusiasm telling me how they completed the adventure by nuking themselves (accidentally as it turned out). There aren’t many games that can provide such a memorable and epic TPK; I’d hope to play some USG in the future, will just be sure to avoid any big red buttons!

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Only these guys and Trump could be so pleased with having hit that big red button…

Star of the Day

Inga was kind enough to grace us with her presence; she charmed both gamers, staff and passersby.

 

There will be more BurritoCon’s next year, you never know we may get to three tables!

Thanks to everyone who turned up and joined in and to the GM’s Bruce, Kris, Paul and Tim.  Finally a big thanks to the staff at Fanboy 3, they have created a great gaming space and are very welcoming. Look forward to my next visit there (Grogmeet in a couple of weeks!)

Better Than Any Man: Captain Zombie

Warning: BTAM spoilers ahead!

A week can be a long time between RPG sessions, more so when it’s LotFP and we left the adventurers languishing in the grip of the one known as The Joy. Perhaps it was inevitable that they would get cold feet and decide that they had enough information for now… however, they still have one job to carry out. One of them has to hide in a grave in the cemetery and scare the hell out of Emma Gäbges when she comes crawling around after dark.

Their attention turning back to acquiring the leg bone of St Burchard of Wurzburg, believed to have powers against demonic creatures and hidden in the crypt under St Andreas church, they leave the brothel behind and spend quite  some time formulating a plan. Causing a distraction to draw the Milizionäre away from the church seems to be a popular choice and so guided to a degree by Hugo Beck, the leader of the conspiracy to overthrow The Seven a plan slowly starts to form…

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Waiting until well after the sun has set, wearing the uniforms of the Burgerfriedensmiliz and equipped with concealable weapons, the Black Dogs split into three; Maldron heads northwest of the cemetery, Ballock and Miklos northeast while Captain Hermann (the NPC watchman from Wurzburg) agrees to hide in the shallow grave, planning to frighten The Defiler when she comes near. Everyone in place, some time passes until Emma Gäbges approaches the cemetery on her nightly patrol.

The Defiler's CreatureA while later The Defiler appears with her creature, a strange thing with two mouths, the size of a big dog hopping along on two legs. Those nearby can hear the creature muttering something in what sounds like Spanish. As planned Captain Hermann startles The Defiler, makes her scream… and once more all hell breaks loose.

  • On hearing the screaming Balock, Maldron and Miklos start yelling ‘The Swedes are coming, they’re outside the walls!’ and so on, stirring up the refugees in the streets and creating a real panic.
  • Burgerfriedensmiliz guarding the church doors come to investigate. Balock and Miklos, disguised as Milizionäre sneak into the church through the back door and manage to convince most of the remaining militia that the Swedes are coming. Fumbled words mean a couple of the guards are suspicious.
  • Captain Hermann, upon seeing nightmarish form of The Defiler’s creature decides he may be in big trouble and runs north to the cemetery gate. Maldron also moves to the gate in case the creature follows the captain.
  • The creature takes a huge leap towards Captain Hermann as he flees, 50′ or more; as it closes in on him it’s jaws open wide, but it just misses. Hermann scrambles through the gate which is slammed shut behind him.
  • ric3b1a_ante_la_embajada_de_espac3b1a_28la_rissa29Balock and Miklos end up in a scrap with the two remaining guards – both guards are injured, but the two Black Dogs know they have limited time to do what they need before their deception is discovered by the other Milizionäre.
  • The Defiler’s creature leaps over the gate and continues to fight with Maldron and Captain Hermann. The creature is injured but attacks Maldron, it’s jaws opening wide… and before he knows it, the Black Dog and Captain Hermann find themselves in another area fighting… the same creature, only this time with no apparent wounds and a little bigger than before.

Time running out we ended the session mid-combat with all of the PC’s in desperate situations. Will they be able to survive next session?

 

 

Better Than Any Man: Game of Joy

Warning: BTAM spoilers ahead!

After some deliberation the Black Dogs decide to checkout the Bauer House located in the South East section of Karlstadt, and not too far from their current location (Musician’s Square where common folk and talented musician’s play for the sheer hell of it and loving couples dance while they can accompanied by those infected with the Dancing Plague).

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Approaching the Bauer House the streets grow quieter, perhaps even the forlorn refugees are not desperate enough to come to this part of the town with it’s proximity to The Watcher‘s abode. Walking past an alley the adventurers see two Burgerfriedensmiliz accosting a woman, accusing her of spreading unrest and dissent against The Seven. Proclaiming she is bound for Goblin Hill, the woman begs her captors to show mercy. Whether it is the woman’s plight or hearing her accused of belonging to a conspiracy against The Seven, the adventurers leap into action. Sneaking his way behind the two Milizionäre, Balock grabs the arm of the biggest of them, a giant of a man who is about the raise the alarm with his clacker, while Maldron smashes his fist into the man’s face instantly killing him. The second Milizionäre runs, but is pursued by Miklos and Hemming; while Miklos struggles to catch the man, Hemming melts his flesh with a Magic Missile spell.

Once freed the woman quickly introduces herself as Luise Betz and it soon becomes clear she does indeed belong to a conspiracy against The Seven as evidenced by the pamphlets she was distributing. They read:

Rise against our unholy rulers and their demonic creatures. Your body may perish under the blades of the Swedes, but you must save your soul. Join us

The name of a nearby inn, Zum Goldenen Schwan is handwritten on the back of the pamphlets, and so grabbing the clothes of the Milizionäre the party dump the bodies and follow Luise who leads them straight to the inn. The inn has been commandeered for use as a hospital, but really it is a place where the sick and injured are left to die with little food and no care. There they meet Guido Steiger, a doctor and member of the conspiracy, who having established the PC’s motives takes them to meet their leader, Hugo Beck, in a nearby house.

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Inside the finely decorated home the adventurers, surrounded by many armed conspirators meet Burger Hugo Beck. It seems they have a great deal in common for Hugo believes that if The Seven can be deposed and executed the Swedish Army may bypass Karlstadt, and based on this an alliance is formed. The party learn a little more about The Seven and discover that a Holy Relic is stored in the crypt under St Andreas’, a nearby catholic church that is now occupied by the Burgerfriedenmiliz and used as their headquarters. Surely the leg bone of St Burchard of Wurzburg will have a holy power that will help the adventurers defeat the demonic creatures of The Seven.

A plan is made to attempt to retrieve the relic once the sun has set, and so with many hours to fill, the Black Dogs decide to visit Zum Erleuchteten Hurenbrock, the local brothel. Having been informed that one of The Seven known as The Joy spends a great deal of time there, and that The Joy is a mine of information, the party harden their hearts and prepare to face whatever depravities can be expected in such a place.

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I’ve read BTAM a couple of times from front to back and this was the bit I was most nervous about. It’s brilliantly constructed, such a clever idea and so on form for LotFP, but still I was a bit unsure how it would go down with the players. Ludmilla Roder, the one known as The Joy gave her creature away, and since The Seven came to power she has been acting as the madame of the brothel. There is more to her story that I shan’t mention here, but two facts are pertinent: she knows loads of valuable information, and she won’t give it away easily – Ludmilla needs to be entertained. After a massage to ease their aches and pains the Black Dogs soon realise that the only way they will get information is to play The Game of Joy. Ask Ludmilla a question, carry out her request and you get the information. Simple. Some of the information asked for and the acts a party member had to undertake to get them are summarised here and censored in the name of good taste.

When Maldron asked about The Seven’s Creatures he was instructed to run to the town square naked, grab a hood off a Milizionäre’s head and run back with it.

The Joy tells him that the creatures just turned up, but she doesn’t trust them and that is why she sent hers away.

When Hemming asked about The Mother Ludmilla told him to put himself in a grave before sundown and scare the living shit out of Emma Gabges (the one know as The Defiler) when she comes crawling about. He has yet to do this.

When Miklos asked about Goblin Hill he was required to have some fun with the next person to enter the brothel. Whatever they wanted, in front of everyone.

Miklos learns that there is a back door into Goblin Hill, a cave on the south side of the hill. Take the fourth passage from the right and keep going up.

When Maldron asked about Gabriel Bauer, the eighth sorcerer he was asked to….CENSORED…

The Joy tells him that she’d never heard of any of The Seven before Gabriel Bauer contacted her. Gabriel warned them all that they were about to be arrested (for witchcraft), they all agreed it would be better if they were in charge, she cast her spell, was dead and that’s that.

We finished the session with the adventurers still in the brothel. It seems they have further questions to ask and may be developing a taste for this particular style of entertainment…