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aegis
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« on: June 09, 2010, 02:50:57 AM »

Héhé, I've finally launched my Fantasy Craft first campaign (only done a couple of one-shots for now), the good old Witchfire adventure in the Iron Kingdoms. For those of you that are interested, I'll leave here a short campaign log. So, the first entry will be of course characters. I've chosen to give my players pre-generated characters for different reasons (good ones I hope):
  • I have some very specific ideas of PC involvement in the main plot, and a handful of subplots I would like to use. Personally writing the background of the PCs helps a lot.
  • I would like (at least some of) the PCs to be very iconic to the setting, but the thing is, none of them knew of the Iron Kingdoms before.
  • I of course want the team to be complimentary and versatile, but also each PC to be very different from one another; I also want to give each of them the occasion to rise significantly several times during the course of the campaign.
  • Finally, I want to avoid useless complications, both background-wise and rule-wise, so at least here I'm quite sure that what I don't want to see is not on my player's sheets.
Anyway, I ended up with six characters that I felt were fun to play and challenging at the same time. I presented them to my players last Friday and they seemed to like them as well. I guess I'm starting to know this group, since they chose their characters exactly how I assumed they would. Only the one with the trollkin wasn't very happy to play a spine-haired grey-skinned giant at first. But the fact that his character is far from stupid or outright ugly changed his mind. So, the group is composed of:

Calden "Cal" Ashburn, played by Arnaud. He's a mercenary gunmage, ex-member of the Grey Wolves company. Orphan born in Ord, he's always been a wild kid, messing around where he shouldn't, with strange people and even stranger business. He's spent some time working with the Mercarian League. The Black Bastard (from Fool's Errand, the second chapter of the campaign), was one of his best pals at the time, even if they haven't worked together for a long time now. He begins the adventure working for Gunner Wadock, the merchant, as an escort for his caravan through the Widower's Wood, and is mostly motivated by cash - and glory.

"Clik" Clikatgekamgekkan, played by Pierre-Yves. This gobber girl was born and raised in the industrial district of Caspia. She learned tinkering from her master "Pog", who later disappeared during a border skirmish against the Protectorate of Menoth. She is most ambitious and her current objective is to become a master crafter of her own. She's just finished her apprenticeship, though, so now she must travel through the Iron Kingdoms to learn from other masters and make a reputation for herself. She's been to Eastwall, King's Vine, Fharin, Fort Falk, and her road now leads her toward Corvis, where she knows the mark she'll leave will be critical for her future as a crafter.

Gade Hartcliff, played by Camille. This protectorate priest is quite difficult to play. He has a mission: to relay the Hierarch's call for pilgrimage to Fellig and Corvis, two cities of Cygnar whose local menite clergy refuses to comply to the order, resulting in a very small number of pilgrims from there. Gade has already been to Fellig and confronted the rebel priest. This resulted in a vicious, bloody battle between his sympathizers and the rebels, a battle he won, but at a price he wasn't ready to pay. In fact, Gade is quite an idealist. His faith in Menoth is so strong he is certain people can and must be converted by preach, not war. He considers what happened in Fellig as a failure, contrary to his superiors, and he has no intention to repeat that mistake at Corvis.

Holdar Poingderoc, played by Stéphane. He's a tough and cunning trollkin from south Cygnar, sold to Rhulic slavers, freed by dwarves, then highway bandit around Corvis, and finally mercenary. Holdar's band was hired by Llael to fight border wars against Khador. During one of these, he was severely wounded and rescued by a young officer, Eventeo Morosini. He sworn to serve the young man until his death. Not long after that, Eventeo came back home where he happened to be a duke. Holdar, quite cunning for a trollkin and even by humans standards, became his personal counselor and bodyguard, a protection he extended to his close family. When Eventeo's daughter, Tara-Lorna, was sent to Corvis for her wedding, Eventeo asked Holdar to follow and protect her instead of him from now on. Holdar complied.

Ilyana Karakov, played by Alexandre. This young lady from Umbrea hides her gift for witchcraft since she's discovered it. Her mother left when she was only a child and her father was outright violent, so she is now a sometimes quite perturbed adult. Actually, she kind of participated in her father's death. She isn't really bad, but has a burning desire to find her lost mother. She knows she fled to Cygnar, under the surname of Aria Black, and her investigations led her to the city of Corvis. She doesn't know yet her mother was a witch too, nor that she was executed for that. By many aspects, she is very similar to Alexia, the anti-hero of the story, only slightly older and wiser ... or not. The future will tell.

Tara-Lorna Morosini, played by Vincent. She is a vibrant, beautiful, fit young lady. Heir from a rich family, she has a talent for diplomacy, a real gift with the sword, and a boyish temperament. This owed her a bad reputation in Llael, where women are mostly expected to do as they're told and not mess around with politics and duel fighting. Tara-Lorna could handle being an outsider during her youth and teenage years, she didn't really care actually. But now, she's 25, unmarried, and no one seems to rush at her door. Recently, she's been exchanging letters with a charming young baron from Corvis, Radnor Solor, son of the politician Willem Solor. It didn't take long before Tara-Lorna saw there her last chance to get married before she's considered too old for that. Radnor accepted and the wedding is scheduled in one month. Tara-Lorna drives to Corvis in advance, unannounced, to surprise her future husband and get to know him before committing to him for the rest of her life.

(Those of you who read Elantris may find Gade and Tara-Lorna quite familiar.)

That's it. These six are then going to Corvis and I'm giving each of them separate introductions. Gade arrives alone at Menoth's church where he is going to learn that his God has many cults and that the Old Faith is quite different from his own. Tara-Lorna and Holdar arrive from the north and are introduced to Gatria Solor, Radnor's mother, who is going to give them an overview of the city since her son will not be in town before a couple of weeks. Finally, Cal', Clik, and Ilyana come from the west, with Gunner Wadock's caravan, and are attacked by swamp gobbers on their way to the town, just as in the Longest Night's introduction.

Next time, I'll tell you how the introductions went and what campaign qualities we use. Smiley  Sorry for my grammar, I am not used to such long posts.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2010, 10:36:14 AM by aegis » Logged
Doublebond
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« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2010, 09:24:24 AM »

It took me way longer than it should have to realize why so many of your players' names sounded odd.
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Mister Andersen
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« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2010, 10:11:10 AM »

 Huh?
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Doublebond
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« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2010, 06:39:26 PM »

Huh?

Names like Pierre-Yves, Camille, and Arnaud are all very odd sounding names for Americans, which makes sense, considering aegis is in France.

Just a dumb American moment, don't mind me.
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aegis
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« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2010, 02:04:05 AM »

Huhu, and I haven't even told you their last names!  Tongue

By the way, we're also playing with minis for the first time. I thought it would be a chance to try and also have a more tactical experience of FC's combat mechanics. I found some official miniatures of several NPCs from Privateer Press (Alexia, thralls, lieutenant thralls, Father Dumas, Vahn Oberen, skornes, a gorax, etc.) but these can be quite expensive and I'm really not used to minis painting. Do you guys know how long it takes, say, to paint 20-30 figurines?
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« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2010, 08:09:59 AM »

By the way, we're also playing with minis for the first time. I thought it would be a chance to try and also have a more tactical experience of FC's combat mechanics. I found some official miniatures of several NPCs from Privateer Press (Alexia, thralls, lieutenant thralls, Father Dumas, Vahn Oberen, skornes, a gorax, etc.) but these can be quite expensive and I'm really not used to minis painting. Do you guys know how long it takes, say, to paint 20-30 figurines?

I can't say I do, but if you find yourself in a situation where you need some representations that are cheap but easy to distinguish from each other, then I highly recommend Gnome Stew's Free Paper Standees. They're certainly not as impressive as normal miniatures, naturally, but certainly useful for representing crowds faceless goons. What I usually do is put a different number or letter on each standee, allowing them to be reused for a variety of characters, but still allowing you to discern one standee from another in a fight.

Now, of course, there might be issues with the measurements. I don't know what kind of a grid you use, but these seem designed to work on a square-inch based grid. So, you'll have to deal with that, somehow.  Sad
« Last Edit: June 11, 2010, 08:07:12 PM by Doublebond » Logged
aegis
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« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2010, 08:17:56 AM »

We use the same miniatures as in the US so square-inch is the norm. The link you gave me is broken, though. Tongue

Edit: Found them anyway. Thanks for the tip!
« Last Edit: June 10, 2010, 08:20:42 AM by aegis » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2010, 08:54:02 AM »

Do you guys know how long it takes, say, to paint 20-30 figurines?

I've played a bunch of tabletop wargames, so yes, yes I do.  I'm also enough of a perfectionist to take way to much time on each one.  Still there's a certain pleasure that comes from something that looks great that you did yourself.
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Doublebond
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« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2010, 08:07:37 PM »

We use the same miniatures as in the US so square-inch is the norm. The link you gave me is broken, though. Tongue

Edit: Found them anyway. Thanks for the tip!

Hah. Apparently I forgot to actually put in a url.   Tongue

It's fixed, now.
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aegis
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« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2010, 03:03:45 AM »

Well, the introductions are over now.

Gade Hartcliff, the priest, arrived alone to the city through the western gates. He went directly to the temple of Menoth and was half surprised to find a very small community and chapel, comparing to the large flock of Morrow followers and its beautiful cathedral. He met father Nolan Vain, the local potentate, who welcomed him as a guest, apparently ignoring what he was here for. They spent the day together and Gade learned a lot about the local customs and was quite surprised to discover that the cult of the True Law was even less strictly followed as in Fellig. Though, he didn't reveal himself. When he was invited to participate to the evening sermon, he said few words about himself to the followers and added that "any of them would be welcome to the Protectorate if they wish". One of the followers, who had heard rumors about what happen in Fellig, accused Gade of killing potentate Lynch. Gade defended himself quite vigorously and, surprisingly, Vain took his defense. The potentate later explained that he knew Gade's agenda all along. He doesn't want to forbid him to preach the Protectorate's words, but he warns him to be careful. People here have different ways as in the Protectorate and they do not trust Hierark's Voyle words. Gade answered he needs to understand the people better if he wants to convince them. He asked if he could contribute to the parish's work in order to know Corvis and its inhabitants better. Vain agreed and suggested him an uncommon task: help father Dumas, the local Morrow prelate, with a strange affair of grave robberies where corpses go missing ...

Tara-Lorna Morosini, the llaelese aristocrat, and Holdar Poingderoc, her bodyguard, arrived through the north gates in coach. They were dropped in front of the Solor manor, where Gatria, Tara-Lorna's fiancé's mother, welcomed them. She has a hard time adjusting to Holdar's presence, though. After some talks about wedding preparation, Gatria suggested Tara-Lorna and Holdar go talk with father Dumas, who will be officiating at her wedding. They did as asked and had the opportunity to have a little chat with Dumas about Tara-Lorna's future husband. He also asked Edward, one of his clerks, to give them a tourist ride over the town, before dropping them back "home". There, in the late evening, Gatria introduced Tara-Lorna and Holdar to her closest friends, women of the city who were definitely not as dumb-minded or boring as Tara-Lorna has expected. In the middle of the night, Holdar, sleeping in the cellar with his dog, was woken up by a sharp noise in the garden. He went outside and saw that someone climbed the outer wall and entered the yard up to the small family graveyard, where one grave lies shattered as from the inside. He tried to make his dog sniff the trail, but he couldn't follow it really far. He found something interesting, though, a white piece of cloth ripped off at the top of the wall. On the morning, he told Tara-Lorna and Gatria, who seemed really upset by the intrusion: the empty grave was her father's. She asks Tara-Lorna and Holdar if they could report that despicable act to father Dumas.

Cal' Ashburn, the mercenary, Ilyana Karakov, the secretive witch, and Clik, the gobber mechanik, all were aboard the Wadock caravan heading to the city through the western gates. They were attacked in the middle of the Widower's Wood by a band of swamp gobbers, who tried to steal food and supplies from the caravan's crates. Cal', paid to defend the shipment, killed two gobbers. Ilyana, who almost got her bag stolen, killed a third one. Another (NPC) guard killed a fourth gobber, and the remaining ones ran with only grains and a crate of fine wine. Clik was quite shocked by the violence of the response to a merely harmless assault of starving gobbers who were only trying to steal food. Nevertheless, the caravan arrived finally to Corvis and Wadock delivered his first two crates to father Dumas, at the cathedral. Noticing Cal', the prelate talked to him and asked him if he were interested in leading sort of an investigation for him. A strange affair of grave robberies he didn't had time to investigate himself. Cal' agreed and Ilyana overheard the conversation. Thinking there might be a connexion between the robberies and local witch covens, she made herself pass for a sweet innocent young woman looking for a deceased relative in the city. Since she needs to go to the cemeteries anyway, she asked Cal' if he didn't mind her joining him. Clik, on the other hand, didn't care about stolen bodies. She left the others there and went to the local Syndicate of Metal and Steam Workers to ask of a job. Sadly, unemployment is reaching a peak currently and there are dozens of unemployed mechaniks already. Wadock enters the Syndicate at that very moment, with a crate for the local boss. Noticing Clik, he suggests her to gain some ... leverage if she wants to get a job before others - or even ever - like helping father Dumas for that investigation of his. The local Syndicate boss is indeed a very pious man and would be happy to help any personal friend of Dumas's. And so she headed back to the cathedral ...

At that point, we are going to start the IRL game Thursday. Each player had a chance to discover quickly his character's objectives and opinions. Actual game statistics were not used by everyone, though. But still, this should allow us to start the game rapidly and jump into the intrigue. I hope I'll have a shot at making them use some Favors and other FC-specific rules by the end of the session. Smiley
« Last Edit: June 22, 2010, 03:08:44 AM by aegis » Logged
aegis
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« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2010, 07:06:24 AM »

Aaaand the first session is over. We played almost 7 hours, with a break for lunch at 1/3, and the scenario is now well started.

During the first scene, early in the morning. the PCs met father Dumas at the Church. Only Gade was meeting him for the first time. He arrived first and proposed his help for the grave robberies. Dumas was happy to hear that, asked him a few questions, and then told him he had hired "benevolent souls" (a.k.a. mercenaries) to handle this. He was happy, though, that Gade could join them, because his faith would help them follow the right path. A few minutes later, the benevolent souls in question, Cal, Clik, and Ilyana, arrived. Just when the meeting was about to start, Tara-Lorna and Holdar arrived in a hurry and asked to talk privately to father Dumas. He heard them up and, of course, explained that he was actually having a meeting about similar affairs right at this moment. They hence joined the other and father Dumas told them everything: the grave robberies, the missing bodies, that it's been a month now since the first, etc. After a short briefing, everybody agreed to help and decided to go for a morning investigation.

During the second scene, they investigated four crime scenes, mostly led by Tara-Lorna and Gade. Only four because Tara-Lorna and Holdar had already checked their own backyard's grave. They started with the eastern graveyard where they only learned from a drunk beggar that some sort of "beautiful ghost" had came the night the body disappeared. Then they moved to the northern graveyard where the keeper told them, after being a bit bullied by Holdar, at Gade's profound disapproval, that he heard a noise the night his cemetery was robbed. He woke up and saw a woman in white leaving the place with two corpses walking behind her, but he believed he was half-dreaming. Dumbfounded, the investigators went to a family farm where they learned the man whose body was stolen there used to be afraid of witches since he took part of a witch trial ten years ago. Given the list of the other missing bodies, the man's spouse confirmed at least two of them were also jurors at this trial. Seven jurors, seven bodies, that was enough. The heroes didn't even really investigate the last scene, another farm. Actually, Ilyana falsely pretended she was related to the family living here when she arrived, in order to justify her interest in the grave robberies. So she asked to go alone, strolled quickly around the house, checked the empty grave, and went back without a word to the inhabitants. The matter was closed and all went back to father Dumas. The priest told them the whole story about the coven trial ten years ago. When they learned four of the witches were buried where they were beheaded, in the Widower's Wood, without sacrament in due form, they decided to go check ...

The third scene started with a quiet but difficult walk through the Widower's Wood. At one time, Holdar got caught by the leg to a gobber-made trap. No gobber was there to catch the "prey", but one thing was clear: the heroes were on swamp gobbers territory. They arrived nevertheless without further complications to a small cave which actually happened to be an abandoned Orgoth base. They entered and visited the inside, found some evidence of goblin inhabitation here, and meet a frightened gobber named Bork. After being calmed, Bork told the heroes an "evil witch" came the day before and animated six skeletons from the "pool", then went to the "smelling room with the boxes" and came out few hours later with "four grey ladies". She left the skeletons behind. The heroes asked why Bork was there and learned his tribe had settled in a part of the old base. When they promised to come in peace, Bork said his chief would only accept peace if some form of... gesture was made. He suggested the heroes destroy the frightening skeletons. They did as asked and discovered them in the very place where the witches coffins had been left. After a short but violent fight, they could explore the room and see that a dark ritual was executed there, with much power but much less skill. The "evil witch" left with the four bodies! The heroes didn't explore the base further and came back to Corvis, to check on the fifth body, still buried next to the church.

Hopefully, in scene 4, father Dumas explained the PCs the tomb is sanctified and well-guarded, by himself! No one could easily break that enchantment and raise his own sister-in-law's body. The PCs then started to think about how to confront the "witch", since this one was secured. One of them suggested off-handedly that Dumas could want to avenge his sister-in-law. But Clik found the idea interesting and realized that someone had even more reasons for revenge: Alexia, the coven leader's own daughter, and Dumas' niece. The heroes didn't tell Dumas yet, but Calden was also worried that someone could empty the grave "from below". He asked if there were catacombs under the church. Indeed, but father Dumas didn't know how to enter, and when he searched his library, he found the book containing the church original floor-plans missing! Intrigued, Ilyana decided to scout out of her dormitory at night to find the entry of the catacombs, somewhere on the church's island. With the help of her magic, she found a suspicious wall, in a discreet alley, who was hiding a secret door: a door she couldn't open herself. On the morning, she tricked her own group by letting them find the secret door themselves (so they wouldn't guess she was using magic). Minutes later, Clik and Calden opened the door and the group entered what looked like sewers, rather than catacombs...

During this fifth scene, the heroes had to cross a sewer canal to access a door, revealing the church catacombs behind. Actually, they rather arrived in a strangely cosy room, apparently inhabited. They were then trapped in by Alexia who said her "bad girl's speech". After asking for her uncle's forgiveness, she went away, leaving the heroes trapped in the other side of the catacombs. In order to catch her quickly, they had to rush through that second half, where they encountered some of Alexia's early "creations", including the juror's animated bodies. After an erratic but fast run, they finally found another exit, which led them up to some sort of crypt. They exited the crypt to find out they had completely crossed the island underground, to end up in the cathedral cemetery. They went immediately to the cathedral to find father Dumas, but where stopped by captain Julian Helstrom instead, coming out at the very same time and heading to the crypt himself.

In scene 6, Helstrom told the heroes he led his own investigation and had come to suspect Alexia and want to explore the catacombs. He also shared his insight with father Dumas, now devastated by the idea that her niece would have done such horrific things. The heroes pointed out that magistrate Ulfass Borloch, who ordered the trial ten years ago, must be in great danger. Helstrom agreed and said he would take care of him with a few men. He also asked if the PCs could track Alexia in the meantime, and come back with further informations on her intentions and means. Actually, his scouts guessed Alexia's lair outside the city, an ancient fort in a barred land called Fort Rhyker. But the two men Helstrom sent to the place never returned. The PCs are to investigate the matter and come back with intelligence, but not provoke and unnecessary fight with Alexia.

This is where we stopped.

In scene 7, the PCs will have to explore Fort Rhyker and are going to find out the situation is even more dire than expected. In scene 8, they'll rush back to Corvis to warn Helstrom and prepare for the upcoming invasion. Even if that doesn't make a full day, I'll allow them a 1-day equivalent downtime to prepare for the attack. In scene 9, the attack will start in the very middle of the Longest Night, when the people are outside, partying. A lot of unexpected actions are expected, and I hope fights there to be quite chaotic and dynamic. The objective is clearly to entertain the players while tiring the characters. In scene 10, which will be THE dramatic scene of the adventure, the heroes, who would have been drawn away from the cathedral, will have to go back there in reinforcement: the undead troops are converging there and Dumas and his clerks are overwhelmed. While fighting for the ground, they'll see Alexia and the undead witches fly over their head and land close to Lexaria's grave, then start a necromantic ritual. The PCs will have a chance to close in, but in the end, the ritual will be completed and Lexaria's body will be taken by the witches, while Alexia will wield the Witchfire sword. Then the grand final and blah blah blah, no idea how the players will react to Oberen's appearance and the whole stuff, so I don't make any previsions for now.

For that first two thirds that we played, things went ... well, nice but not great. The game mechanics are not the problem, neither is the scenario, even if there was a little too much "dungeon" for one or two players, but the biggest issue was that some of the players were not focused. At all. It was quite disturbing, difficult to make good descriptions, even to be heard by those trying to listen, etc. We had the chance to discuss the matter afterwards, though, and these players promised they would be more focused next time. I guess funny substances didn't help them as well, so I banished that from the table.

In the meantime, they liked their characters, except for the sorceress who was very frustrated for not being able to cast automatically her spells, neither to have all-mighty blasts. They played their role more or less thoroughly, but the Menoth priest, the gobber mechanik, and the llaelese noble were really good actually. Combat was fast but not so furious, which is quite normal for this first part. The second one will be much more deadly. I hope fights remain as fluid though, and the battle-map did help a lot, even for those who weren't so fond of it at first. Social interactions were short but well led and the players kept on asking the right questions, so that was easy.

Next time, I'll try to make better descriptions of the places and the ambiance, including sounds, smell, how almost no light can affect searching and fighting. It will also be the occasion to replay the scene with Helstrom, which was quite a mess at the end of the session. And finally, I really hope to make the Longest Night memorable. I have some very specific ideas I'm going to throw at the players, but ultimately, I know that it will only work if they already are in the mood. So a lot of work to do ahead of that already.  Tongue
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