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…

Better Than Any Man: Karlstadt

Warning: BTAM spoilers ahead!

Having gained favour with the smuggler Gabi Tabbecker the Black Dogs find themselves sleeping in a farmhouse not far from Karlstadt with access to a tunnel they can follow into the town itself. They are rudely awoken by Gabi who gives them advice; avoid The Seven and their creatures and remember weapons of any kind are outlawed. Walking around looking like adventurers will get you in trouble.

The tunnel leads to the basement of a house at the northern edge of the town; last time it was used the building was empty but now it seems a family have moved in. Deciding they don’t want to be discovered the Black Dogs narrowly escape detection when Magdalyn, the wife of Gawinus and mother of Ruben (or so they believe having listened in on their conversations) comes into the basement for food supplies. A while later with various chores pressing the family leave the house, securing it on their way out.

Tough decisions are made about what gear to take onto the streets of Karlstadt and those with chainmail armour leave it behind along with all of their weapons. Even Maldron reluctantly leaves his two handed sword behind. Hemming takes his quarterstaff believing he can convince any who question him that it he needs it to walk. Because that would be rational, and there is an abundance of rationality in Karlstadt right now.

1407152925_peste-di-londraHemming unlocks a padlock on the back door of the house and Balock unlocks the door itself and within no time the party are out on the streets of Karlstadt.  The many buildings of the town are overflowing with refugees, and many are living on the overcrowded streets; all seeking safety from the Swedish army.

The air still thick with insects, the stench of effluent and human misery, our adventurers spend some time exploring the burgeoning town and as part of their investigations learn:

  • The locations of the homes of The Seven
  • To avoid Plague Alley
  • The Bauer House (cue sad attempts at singing “She’s in parties”), home of the 8th Sorcerer is in ruins
  • People like to make music and dance when the world is going to shit
  • The Catholic Church has been sequestered by the Burgerfriedensmiliz
  • The Joy spends her time in Zum Erleuchteten Hurenbrock and is a mine of information
  • The Provider feeds the populace of the town every day at 3
  • The Watcher can be found at the church or her home and just before midday every day heads from her home to the town gates to determine who may enter
  • The Reminder is handing out books; Hemming grabs a sample which contains a Read Magic spell
  • The Defiler visits the cemetery every night where she can be seen ranting
  • The Defender has a nice house to herself
  • The Mother hasn’t been seen in town for a while. This reminds Miklos of the mad woman he talked to last week who had a dim view of the Mother and ranted about the Insect God
  • 5_cyptids-320x320The creatures of The Seven are hideous things (at least those that have been seen so far)

With tentative plans for next session of a visit to The Joy (that is going to be fun!) and checking out the Bauer House plus with Gustavus Adolphus and his boys likely not too far away now, getting the heads of The Seven is looking like a tall order.

Owlbear and Wizards Staff 2018

525d4e50-a112-11e8-81c9-1b431fd718bc-rimg-w400-h400-dc1c1c1c-gmirA day after the events at Owlbear and Wizards Staff, I’m still coming down from the excitement of it all. Set in the welcoming town of Leamington Spa it promised a day packed with RPG goodness with a bus load of games on offer. The weekend started for me on the Friday night with a visit to a local boozer followed by the delights of Warwick Spice (just to be clear it’s a restaurant with amazing food), the whole evening hosted by the affable emcee Matt Broome. With great company all around I had a chance to catch up with some older gaming pals (I’d like to say old friends because it feels like they are, but I’ve only known most of them 12-18 months!) and meet twitter folk face to face for the first time.

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Matt couldn’t believe the size of his poppadom! Great food, great company in Warwick Spice.

The day itself started early with RPG folk descending on The Band Factory, a rehearsal venue not far from the town centre but free of musical aspirants for the day. The space was perfect, well lit with good sized tables and facilities. Drinks and biscuits were readily available with a load of tasty samosas shipped in at lunchtime. I didn’t have to take more than a step or two to bump into someone I knew.

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GM Lee playing us like a fiddle

I was playing Dungeon Crawl Classics in the morning session, expertly GM’d by DCC Judge Lee Nielson. Lee was well at ease with the system and quickly had us up and running through the 0 level funnel. But rather than being the usual fantasy peasants we were ordinary people from the 70’s somehow transported to fantasy land. My characters were a plumber (Mario of course), a taxidermist and a minister… other’s included a corny radio DJ, a drug addled hippy and a retired ex-SAS dude. It was a lot of fun imagining how these characters could rationalise the crazy fantasy world they had been transported to, and how they would feel having seen three of their fellow time travellers slaughtered by alien lizardmen. Lots of scraps and a few traps saw our numbers decimated until we came to the final encounter and bravely won the day. Great game, great GM, great players.

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The Aliquam Martialis – Howard (hidden by my girth), Lee, Turan, Matt and Paul

After a chilled lunch spent chatting to some top gaming folk it was onto the afternoon session where I GM’d my Lamentations of the Flame Princess home-brew The Greater Share of Honour, set on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt. It’s a game I’ve ran a number of times at cons and it always seems to go down well. I had an great group of players who really engaged with the game and took to their characters with gusto – I had little doubt they would be able to carry out the King’s orders. On this occasion I struggled to fit the game into the 3hr 30 minute slot, hopefully we’ll be able to pick it up and complete it on Roll20.

There were a ton of other great games on throughout the day – like with most cons I wish there was some time trick we could do that would allow me to play in every game – I’m certain everyone there felt the same. Some of the other games being run included Mutant Crawl Classics, Startrek Adventures, WFRP, Monster of the Week (with the Hookland setting), Space 1889, Genesys, D&D 5e, Shadowrun, HeroQuest Glorantha, Runequest, Numenera, Call of Cthulhu, Fate, Elite Dangerous.

The day ended with a gathering of DCC/MCC GM’s – you wouldn’t want to bump into this lot down a dark alley!

DCC Crew

Now the countdown begins, only 364 sleeps until the next one!

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.

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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.

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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…

 

Better Than Any Man: Karlstadt… finally!

Tech problems seem to be quite prevalent right now and our new player @doc_griffiths  was only able to join us briefly before broadband issues kept him away for the evening. Still, Karlstadt won’t save itself, and so our four stalwart adventurers continued bravely on (beware BTAM spoilers from here on in)

BTAM Insect BiteBeaten and bruised from their fight with the bandits they decided to rest for a couple of days in Thungen, and were most put out to learn that the locals were not as appreciative of them getting rid of the bandits as they’d hoped. Perhaps it was the avoidable murder by the bandits of one of the children that left them a bit cold… The lack of a heroes welcome was made all the worse when Balock was bitten by a rather unpleasant insect which had quickly injected something into his knee – something was moving around in there. It was only through some careful and well timed application of healing magic by Miklos that his knee was saved… it could have been very nasty!

Wilricus Elbinger, a transient Alchemist and his family fleeing from Gemunden (a village in the path of the Swedish Army) stopped at Thungen and after some haggling with the Black Dogs offers to sell them a batch of healing unguents. A fairly chipper fellow, he didn’t budge too much on the original cost of his wares and was somewhat put out by the direct and unsubtle threats levelled at him by Hemming: “There are bandits in the forest and you want your family to be safe…”. The tight-fisted group let some essential healing ointments slip through their fingers as Wilricus quickly fled Thungen.

wagon_backFeeling their time could perhaps have been better spent but somewhat rested the adventurers decide to get back to their main mission. Rumours that The Seven do not allow any implements of violence into the town of Karlstadt lead to the group spending some of their cash having a false bottom installed in their wagon. They hide their main weapons and proceed on an uneventful journey to the town armed only with side weapons.

Approaching from the east they see the thousands of refugees desperate to find a way into Karlstadt crowded on the bank across the River Main. A sorry sight indeed, the camp consists of makeshift tents and hovels, a large part of the population crowded into this small area with no sanitation, little food and even less hope. Maldron barters with the ferry man and gets some information about Karlstadt… the laws of The Seven, their mysterious creatures and the control they place on entry into the town itself.

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Unsure how they may find their way into Karlstadt they PC’s form a plan – to speak to those who may have left the town and discover what they can.  Taking the ferry across the river, the adventurers are surrounded by desperate souls as soon as they touch land and have to force their way through the crowd. They have been warned to avoid the Burgerfriedensmiliz, the local militia under the control of The Seven, and so keeping their heads down gather some rumours about Karlstadt and the surrounding area.

  • The Seven have headquarters in Goblin Hill, southeast of Hammelburg…
  • There’s a giant cat seen near the swamp…
  • The Seven were once eight…

With the Swedish Army bearing down, how are the party ever going to be able to complete their mission?

The Greater Share of Honour

This is generally the blurb I give players ahead of running this game online.  There’s not a great deal for them to do ahead of the game, other than read this and if they get a chance checkout the free Lamentations of the Flame Princess art free rules from here.

While the scenario is based on a historical event I make no pretence at historical accuracy or knowledge – I’ve just put together what I think will make a good game. Players take on the role of a member of the Aliquam Martialis, Henry V’s enforcers, a medieval Military Police trusted to root out enemies in his court in times of peace, and to keep his soldiers in line in times of war. The Aliquam Martialis were present when Mortimer told of the Southampton Conspiracy, then rounded up the traitors and arranged their executions. They tracked down and executed Sir Ralph Ferrand and his smugglers who were providing supplies to the besieged French garrison at Harfleur. And they have kept the army in line on the exhausting march from Harfleur to Calais.

What is known about the Aliquam Martialis:

  • They are a group of talented individuals that have learnt to work together despite some differences, when set a task they achieve it with ruthless efficiency (usually!)
  • Every member has a loyalty and devotion to their King and country which goes beyond duty

The Aliquam Martialis are:

Aubrey Emor (Level 2 Fighter)

A highly capable rugged warrior who has fought long an hard to establish herself in a male dominated army. Many foes have died knowing they underestimated her strength and ability as a fighter.

Ithel Coedffriend (Level 2 Specialist)

Growing up in the valleys of Wales Ithel grew to love nature. Such was his affinity for the wilderness and nature that he found himself taking care of the forests of various Lords. His ability as a scout and tracker led to his recruitment in the English army and subsequently his involvement in the Aliquam Martialis.

Lady Angmar Grey (Level 2 Specialist)

Daughter of Richard Grey, the 4th Baron of Codnor, Lady Angmar Grey was consigned to a life of subservience as the wife of an old fat noble for political reasons. In her mid-teens she took matters into her own hands and fled to London where she was able to develop skills both as a thief and spy, at first underground, then more openly once her reputation was established. Lady Angmar Grey is as proficient with a blade as she is burglary, assassination or mixing with Lords, Ladies and Royalty.

Old Letholdus (Level 2 Magic-User)

A grumpy old mage who is careful to hide his abilities and rarely shows them. Letholdus understands that most folk are scared of magic – in fact most do not even believe in it. Religion is the dominant force in the lives of most people take a dim view of magic, told by priests that it is the work of the devil. In LotFP Magic-Users do not have the same armour and weapon restrictions as in other OSR games; Letholdus wears chain armour and carries a sword.

Sister Wulfled (Level 2 Cleric)

The appointed leader of the Aliquam Martialis, largely due to an overwhelming loyalty to God and King and a proven history of rooting out the Kings enemies. In LotFP Clerics are not restricted to non-edged weapons, so Wulfled carries a sword and shield.

Well’ard Harold (Level 2 Fighter)

A hardened veteran, Harold has never settled down, but instead served in various militia and took part in the Battle of Bryn Glas in 1402, the Battle of Pwll Melyn in 1405 and the Battle of Bramham Moor in 1408.