Friday, August 8, 2014

Session Report: The Aldsburg Chronicles [T3]

In which the party beheads an NPC, breaks up, reunites, and gets their asses beat.

The Party
Salty the Glaive
Grady (called Brook) the Fighter
Falin the Thief (halfling merchant-slave-escaped slave)
and eventually Brother Flint, Cleric of the Wyrd

Adventure Time: What do Murder Hobos get up to?
With all new characters (and 2 new players) I asked for what rumors and adventures the group new about.  When identification of a witch to behead her (more on that in a moment) came up, it seemed that Grady was definitely in the wrong group.  Salty informed the group of the following:

If you cut the head off a witch as she speaks the only truth she knows then sleep with the head, it will whisper secrets of legend and treasure to you.

Well ... that was too metal not to be true, so it simply had to be true.  But how to identify a witch?  Easy (again from Salty):
  1. She be a female
  2. She be comely
  3. She trade in the dark arts (or claims no to)
Once that ridiculous pile of qualifiers was played for laughs (while we grilled) and after much discussion, the party went to see Albonia, an NPC fortune teller known to the party.  She should know about some witches.

They run into some hoity-toity type on the way out of Albonia's place and end up not really interacting with him much other than some threats and internal bickering.  "Leave yer coin!" "Take your coin and go", and etc.  The party was not gellin'.

Long story short, Salty decides Albonia is DEFINITELY a witch and tries to cut off her head.  Grady intervenes and get glaived for some massive damage.  As Albonia begins to cast a spell Salty charges.  As Albonia begins to pull fire from her mouth and throw it on the about to be incinerated 1st level character he decides to tackle her instead.  Some awesome dice later and Albonia is unconscious and burned up, Albonia's house is a bit charred, Salty is unconscious and fried, Grady is in some trouble, and Falin, who has been skulking about, looted a bit and saved everyone.

Grady promptly stomped off to tattle to whatever authorities he could find while Salty removed the Albonia's head.  Brother Flint (same player, better suited character for the party) showed up for his weekly "meeting of spiritual guidance meeting" with Albonia.  He dealt with the near-arson definite-murder pretty well.

That night Salty sleeps with the head.  There was a gruseome interaction between Salty the not-so-bright fighter and a severed head that was cursing his name, vomiting and leaking black goo on everything while rambling semi-incoherent secrets.  In the end, he got some things that the rest of the party translated into an adventure!

Adventure Time Part II: Plans and Actions and Violence
Translating the mad rumblings of a severed head (now incidentally pickled in brine) the party determines that the Magnolia Street Runners have some connection with "the ratmen" of the undercity who worship a great idol with horns of gold that can be used to control the ratmen.  Sounds like more treasure than one man can handle - thank the gods there are a party of adventurers.

Brother Flint gets Salty anointed into the Undying Shrine (and picks up a sweet bonus from Father Finch who runs the place).

There is much observation and spying and clever shenanigans which end with Salty being hired by the MSR to gurd a shipment (of human garbage).  After the following and investigation the party finds a pit the humans are dumped into.  Some exploration finds them un the undercity/underworld.  A pair of skeletal ratmen are controlled by Brother Flint's powers (after a vicious stabbing) and someone/something shoots a crossbow into Salty's back.  There is also the discovery of a trap door in a cellar that when opened reveals two middle aged men (now dead, guts spilled all over the damn place).

One of them died right before the classic Hackmaster cry of: "I WASTE HIM WITH MY CROSSBOW!"  It was a thing of beauty.  The teen-age girl they were arguing with screams, they close the trap door.  Finding little on the gents other than pit stink and red ink tattos of a stylized rat head, the severely wounded party decides to get the hell out of deathtown and back to the surface.

Adventure over, a good time was had by all (except "Goody Goody Grady").

Lessons Learned & GM Notes
1. I trust my players to make characters from a mechanics standpoint, but characters should be made as part of a group activity.  I this the session would have had a better flow if we didn't have the party conflict (although it wouldn't have been as bloody & fire infused).

2. I need a way to encourage the "improv" and "player agency" aspects of how I want to run this campaign.  Any suggestions?

3. I should have some additional material ready to go.  I'm going to start each session with 3 rumors AFTER I hear what the PC rumors are.  Oh yea - I'm going to have each player begin the session with a possible adventure rumor they create and reward it with Karma if it is badass.  No award for "the merchant's daughter has been kidnapped" but definitely an award for "Sally fourtoes, known to have been sleeping with at least 3 guys here on the Iron streets and possibly with a hat from the Guildhall, went missing after she got into a gnarly verbal brawl in the Low Market with Ketty Fells who everyone knows is has witchy powers.  Some say that lump on her back is actually her twin!"

4. Tracking all of this is getting tough.  The wiki should help, but I need to encourage players to get in there as well.  Time to have a computer ready at the game table.