Games I played over winter break:
Legend of the Five Rings: Dorf ran two sessions of this. We played as Jake Magistrates in the Empire of Rokugan, going around trying to suss out treason while still acting honorably in this pseudo-Japanese society. I had a helluva lot of fun playing a mildly-dishonorable Scorpion-clan asshole with the smoothest tongue in the Empire, master of both the sword and the veiled insult.
First session involved finding out what had happened to a man who had dropped off the grid after returning home from the Wall protecting the Empire from the Shadowlands. Turned out he had Shadowlands Taint, which normally would be a cause for joining a deathseeker squad or honorable suicide. This guy’s lord father had instead hidden him away in a cabin in the woods. The session ended with me confusing the guards outside the cabin so much that I was able to just walk past them while they were arguing and get challenged to a dual by the guy inside (almost lost the dual, too. It was close).
Second session, which we played through yesterday, started with a mass grave up a goddamn mountain. About a hundred people, killed with arrows, all from the village at the base of the mountain, all killed about ten days ago. When we went to the village to chat with the people there, we found that no one in the village had been there for more than a week. It took us a while to figure out what was going on, mostly because we kept getting distracted and going off-topic, but the working theory at the moment is that the people of this village were late one too many times with their taxes, and the lord flipped shit and had them all killed and replaced with peasants drawn from other nearby villages. We were on our way to confront the lord, and presumably dual his champion (which we were not looking forward to–dude was supposedly a badass) when we ran into a checkpoint. While we were chatting with the soldiers there and showing them our papers, I realized two things: 1) A checkpoint means they’re checking for someone/thing, which means there were probably survivors of the massacre, and 2) They knew about the survivors before we did. We put the spurs in on the way back to the village, let me tell you. According to the earth kami we summoned and our expert tracker, at the very least a child escaped from the village massacre. It was probably only thanks to the horses and the kami that we caught up with the men who were also hunting the child before they found their mark. The session ended with three of those men dead and two captured.
Gutterpunk: We’ve actually played quite a few sessions of this since I last wrote about it. Quick summary of the party’s adventures in Tahmoor: They arrived, were taken in by the guards for questioning regarding the smuggled weapons on the ship they came in on, got questioned by a local gang who wanted to know how the guards had found out, and figured out who’d ratted out the ship and gang to the guards. They captured that person and turned him over to the Red Leaf Gang for a reward. Because the man they were after was in guard custody at the time, the Law is none too happy with them–specifically, Tahmoor’s secret police types, the Brassplates, want the wizard Vince’s head on a platter after the players killed two men and snatched the target out from under their noses. Vince’s was the only face they saw, so up go the wanted posters with his visage on them.
Then, deciding they wanted to pull off a heist, they scoped out an opium den operated by the Dragon gang. They found out when the money was moved out of the place and ambushed the men carrying away the chest of silver. It was at this point that the summoners, bored, made the fateful decision to try summoning what turned out to be Ivodrol, Devourer of Words. Aside from that, though, everything went smoothly, and they walked away with more silver than one man could carry.
After that, they decided to lay low for a while–and by “lay low,” they meant explore the Underground, specifically the part behind the bricked-up doorway in the basement of the warehouse they’d claimed as their lair, which did not end particularly well. Yes, they did find a lot of drugs that were part of someone else’s deal, and yes they found a lot of money as well, and yes they did kill the Shadowguard and eventually figured out who the Bonemen were, but when they tried to kill the insane necromancer/gang member who was lurking in the depths, Vince ended up being killed by the Boneman’s pet ghouls. He died both because he didn’t realize the danger he was in (didn’t know so many ghouls could get around him and attack at once) and because he wasn’t used to playing in such a deadly system. But I felt bad about it, because he hadn’t fully understood my description of the situation, so when the summoners came up with an idea for how to bring him back I said sure, that might work, and gave them a chance. They summoned Ivodrol, on purpose this time, carving the warding runes into solid rock and making many sacrifices in his name, and made a request of him; bring Vince the Wizard back to life. Ivodrol said he could do this thing, in his whispery voice, but that he would demand something in return. The demon prince wanted a book, of which there were only two copies still in existence, called He Who Called Himself Emperor. There was a copy in the Library Heretical of the Cathedral D’Agmont. If they could bring this book to him, without opening it or learning what was inside in any way, he would give them back Vince.
To make a long story short, they did it. They got a map of the Cathedral grounds, got in, Van Occupanther wrote his real name in the Book of Measures to unlock the door to the Library Heretical, and they got the book, as well as two others–a black book with no title, written in an unknown language, and one called AVADIN, which is the holy book of the Avadin Heresy. They gave Emperor to Ivodrol, and Vince came back to life, albeit with a line of hellish writing tattooed on his chest, marks that are forever cold to the touch.
Next session, having learned nothing from the first time, the party ventured into the Underground again, going further in this time. They found that someone had tried to force open the formerly-Bonemen-controlled gate that they’d fortified and stolen the key to last time, and made plans to disguise and defend their warehouse basement a bit more. After wandering through the narrow and flooded tunnels of the Underground for a while, they found a (literal) underground pit fight. A strongman called Hughes was going in against a surgically-modified bear/monster constructed by the Bonemen. Odds were 3 to 1 in Hughes favor. The players didn’t place any bets; rather, when a small army of city guard burst through the door to break up the operation they took advantage of the confusion to kidnap one of the Bonemen there and interrogate him for more information on the gang. He told them that he did not fear any harm they could deal to his body, seeing as the man known as Malthazar Fleshshaper was down on the pit fight floor, he having been the one who had made the Bonemen’s bear. From him they also acquired three keys; one to his personal effects, one that he admitted to not knowing what it was for, and one to the back room of a bar called the Blended Drum.
By the time Malthazar Fleshshaper caught up with them, they’d already dumped the body of the Boneman and were hurrying across the scaffolding to safety. Two of Malthazar’s assistants went after them, only to be plunged screaming into the depths below when Kip Brannigan destroyed the supports with a spell. It was about then that the guards found their way into the room–five guardsmen and one Brassplate. Malthazar threw off his cloak, revealing masses of exposed muscle and bony spikes for a brief moment before he destroyed the lantern one of the guardsmen was carrying. The players heard horrific crunching and shrieking sounds from across the destroyed scaffolding. They readied crossbows and had Vince summon a magical light. Two guards and Malthazar’s assistant were already down. Over the course of the ensuing fight Malthazar would kill another guard and severely wound another before being hit by two critical hits from crossbows and being tackled off the edge and into the depths below by the mortally-wounded Brassplate.
The next day the party headed over to the Blended Drum. They showed the key they’d taken from the dead Boneman to the axman guarding the back room, and he let them pass. The “back room” turned out to contain a tunnel downward, at the bottom of which was a room filled with Bonemen, two of whom were discussing their next plan of attack. One was suggesting that they go forward with a planned heist, even without Malthazar’s assistance (since he was presumed dead–the City Guard claimed to have his body on ice somewhere), while the other wanted to investigate a drug deal that had fallen through, which the players recognized as being due to their actions. Deciding that the Bonemen couldn’t be allowed to determine their own fate, the party stepped through the door and wasted everyone in the room. They got some minor amounts of cash from that, but more importantly also got a nice map of the Mastera Estate, house of the richest man in the city, with a heist plan already written out…
Skyrim: The reason I haven’t been posting anything. Also the reason I haven’t been doing any homework, or any of the other little things I promised myself I’d get done over break.
Smallworld: My brothers got this for me for Christmas. Fantastic board game. You raise up empires of skeletons and elves and whatnot, then let them decline as you ride another civilization to power. I have no idea what the players themselves are supposed to represent in this game, but I don’t really care. This is one of those games that could, if you were bored/strapped for ideas enough, be used to create the entire history of a fantasy world for you. There are few things indeed that can do that.
Tomorrow: Back to school. Back to work and class, but also Rogue Trader and D&D. Could be fun; could also be spirit-crushingly hard. We’ll see how it goes.