Fate of the Five - Meet and Greet

The sixth session of our short, possibly 11 session campaign of Shadow of the Demon Lord just finished up. High Watch is in bad shape. The Inquisition is torturing Crusaders, a plague has befallen the citizenry, and there's all sorts of bad stuff happening. Good thing our group of heroes is here to help them out.

Session review

After a bit of mucking about, the group introduced themselves to Renee Caldwell, the captain of the Crusaders in High Watch. They'd helped fight off the skeletons, and managed to administer some healing to one of her men. After a bit of discussion, she requested they help get her Crusaders out of the dungeons. Not seeing a good way forward, the group asked if there was some way to convince the Inquisitors that the Crusaders were not part of a secret cult. She saw the rationale of their plan, and told them to speak to Brand who could get them into the lost dungeons that had been sealed up generations ago. They also managed to convince her to send one of the Crusaders along with them, and Light of the Feather cast a glamour on him before they went back to town to get a quick rest.

Before getting to the inn, the group encountered a trio of plague doctors. The doctors sold tinctures that would ward off the plague, and made note of the number of people in their group; six, not five. A short scene occurred in the morning as the Inquisition was waiting for the group as they set out. Light of the Feather was able to convince Inquisitor their extra companion was simply a member of town who was guiding them about.

With that behind them, the group made their way over to Brand who was camped out as a beggar in front of an old burned down inn. He showed them a secret entrance to the lost dungeons and got them inside.

Within the dungeons, they found horrors upon horrors. Somehow, beastmen had gotten into the abandoned dungeon and were ripping Crusaders apart. Aeryn blew apart an entire room of beastment with the Eye of the Demon Lord. However, after invoking the Eye's power it grew considerably in size. That's probably not good.

(c) 2016 Schwalb Entertainment, LLC

(c) 2016 Schwalb Entertainment, LLC

After digging through the dungeons for a bit, they found a room filled with a ankle deep pool of blood. Aeryn spotted a strange reflection in the blood, that of a similar room but filled with water. He tried to drink the blood, but noticed his hand slipped straight through where the floor should be. Encouraged by this he dove through and emerged on the other side. His companions eventually joined him.

What they found was that they were in the dungeons the Inquisitors were torturing the Crusaders in. Being somewhat curious, Krunk peeked through a door and found Inquisitors in the middle of torturing some Crusaders. Unfortunately, she's not very sneaky and was spotted immediately.

It seems like this might go badly, but who's to say?

Fate of the Five - Happy Trails

We've wrapped the fifth session of the Shadow of the Demon Lord campaign. Asylum has been left to its own devices and the group is now in High Watch trying to find Aeryn's family. 

Session Review

We brought Azeeze back into the campaign with him waking up in his house in Asylum. Krunk had concussed him, so he was a bit groggy as he stumbled out of his house. He spotted Aeryn charging into the magistrate's burning house, then saw him chase the innkeeper down in the town square. He headed to the magistrate's house in time to witness Aeryn execute the innkeeper, accusing her of colluding with the magistrate to summon a demon.

Azeeze and Aeryn discussed the happenings while Shart snooped around the smoldering office of the magistrate. The goblin found a secret staircase behind the bookshelves which lead down to an underground lab. Within the lab they found a mirror that could be used to speak with another mirror somewhere else. Aeryn also found the Eye of the Demon Lord, and became much crazier and more corrupted when he picked it up.

Yeah, Aeryn failed his Will check to resist the Eye's effects. And then I rolled a 6 on the 1d6 Corruption roll. That boosted him right up to 9 corruption, which means instant death if he's ever incapacitated. I'd better suggest Mark put together an extra character in case this happens.
(c) 2016 Schwalb Entertainment, LLC

(c) 2016 Schwalb Entertainment, LLC

Suspecting that Jaren was using the mirror to communicate with someone Light of the Feather disguised Aeryn to look like his brother. Given Aeryn's background as a performer he'd have a good shot at pulling the ruse off. Light activated the mirror and Aeryn got to have a face to face with a cultist of some significance. The cultist was taken in by Aeryn's ruse, and urged him to get to High Watch quickly.

Before hitting the road, the group decided it would be best to leave the meat cube with Asylum. They dragged it over to the remaining guards, Clem and Guy. There was a bit of discussion about how to properly handle the meat cube. Clem was rather skeptical, and wanted nothing to do with a 3' cube of meat that would regenerate every morning. Azeeze assured him it would be all right. After that encouragement, the guards seemed to be all right with carving the cube up to keep the town fed.

This was a fun little scene in which the players debated how to best instruct the guards on how to carve the regenerating meat cube each day. Light of the Feather's logical instructions made sense, but the strange nature of the cube and the elf's alien presence put the guards off. It was a fun interaction and a proper send off to Asylum.

The group arrived in High Watch a few days later and setup in the Broken Blade, managed by Durd Tregmak. As they were getting settled, Krunk noticed that most of the people in town were stricken with some sort of disease. Before she could do more than take note a pair of men dressed as Crusaders came running down the street pursued by four Inquisitors of the New God. The group helped apprehend the Crusaders and were invited to meet High Inquisitor Drayner at the Citadel of High Watch.

Drayner rubbed everyone the wrong way.

Zealots have a way of making my group angry and suspicious. It's a fun role to play.

The group did agree to help Drayner ferret out the cult that had corrupted the Crusaders. They even had a really good plan. Drayner arranged for a Crusader to be freed from the dungeons, but it would seem as though the Crusader had escaped. Shart would then follow the man to find out where he'd run to.

They were looking for a good spot to hid out in the graveyard north of the Citadel, where the man would be "released." While in the graveyard they ran across a ghoul who'd been snacking on an infant. It was a fairly quick fight, and then it was time to hide and wait.

Thank you, Demon Lord, for being so vile.

On schedule, the Crusader was released from the dungeons under the Citadel. Shart followed the man into the Desolation to a ruined shrine. When the rest of the group caught up they spied nine skeletons charging to the shrine. Not wanting to lose the lead on the hiding Crusaders, the group charged the shrine themselves.

Once the dust settled, nearly all of the six crusaders in the shrine had fallen to skeletons. Renee Caldwell removed her helmet to thank the group for their help. Without their intervention the Crusaders would have been slaughtered.

Things to remember

  • The group has room and board at the Broken Blade thanks to Inquisitor Drayner.
  • The town of Asylum will probably have plenty to eat thanks to the meat cube.

Fate of the Five - Shake up in Asylum

Things have changed quite a bit in our Shadow of the Demon Lord campaign.

Session review

When we last left our... protagonists, they were trapped down in the bottom of the ancient shrine just outside Asylum. Krunk and Shart busted their way into the blocked off altar room to come to the rescue, only to have Azeeze mistakenly shoot Krunk. Not wasting any time, Krunk knocked the centaur out.

Azeeze's player was out of town for this session, so this was a good way to remove him from the game for the night. Not totally believable, but it is much better than what I usually go for.

They combed through the rest of the shrine, finding some helpful items, but no bloody bones. The most interesting thing they came upon was a Feeding Cube. This faerie relic was a 3' cube of regenerating meat. Much discussion was had about what to do with such a bountiful treasure as they ate suspicious steaks cut from the cube. Light of the Feather did not wish to destroy Asylum's economy by introducing a never ending food source, and it was decided they would keep it hidden away for the time being. Krunk carved it apart so it was just a seed of meat and placed it in her backpack.

I wasn't expecting much of anything from the meat cube. My players got really interested in it, and the implications of it. I just sat back and listened to them argue over it for a good 15 minutes or so. Sometimes, being a GM is pretty easy.

On their way back to town they discovered the skinned corpse of Saul, the head guardsman. It was clear he was yet another victim of the bloody bones. Krunk wanted to charge off after the beast, but Aeryn was adamant about bringing Saul back for a proper burial.

The following day it was discovered that Chert's lab had been invaded, and the saltwater decanter had been stolen. Aeryn's widow didn't show up to the inn like she did every morning. These two events converged at the magistrate's house. Rather than confronting the man immediately, the group opted to head out after the bloody bones. They tracked the creature down and quickly dispatched it.

Good rolls and an extra level will do some really gnarly things to foes that used to be challenging.

The group carried the bloody bones' head back to the Magistrate's office in order to collect the reward for it. Aeryn opted to head to the inn to talk with Adele a bit more. Just as they were about to collect their money Krunk decided it would be a good time to kill Jaren, the man she'd been hired to assassinate. Unfortunately for her, Jaren always had a host of tiny demons traveling with him. One of the creatures blocked her strike, but was killed. The office soon became a scene of utter chaos.

Light of the Feather produced a flamethrower and lit Krunk and Jaren up, also igniting the book shelves lining the wall. The sudden flames blew out the windows, alerting Aeryn that something was up.

This was a bit of GM magic. Aeryn was not in the scene, but it would have been a real downer to have him miss it. Having the fire blow out the windows of the office seemed like a really good way to pull him over. It also introduced a nasty complication in which everyone would need to make a Strength check to avoid taking damage at the start of their turns. This check got harder as the rounds went by, but the fight only lasted three or four rounds. 
(c) 2016 Schwalb Entertainment, LLC

(c) 2016 Schwalb Entertainment, LLC

Aeryn managed to get to the Magistrate's office in time to deliver the killing blow. Jaren pleaded for his life, dangling the life of Aeryn's widow in front of him. Aeryn was consumed with revenge and sliced Jaren's head clean off.

I was very pleased with this outcome. I thought Jaren might live through this, but Aeryn was not having it.

After Jaren was killed they captured his associate, Adele. She informed them that Aeryn's wife and son were being transported to High Watch and their plan to summon Valagius the Executioner could not be stopped. Aeryn killed her too.

Aeryn is up to 3 Corruption at this point. It's starting to carry some consequence with it now.

Things to remember

  • All of the NPCs of note in Asylum are dead now.
  • Aeryn fulfilled his revenge. Will he still be motivated to continue living?
  • Nebog and Nedlog are transporting Aeryn's family to High Watch.

Fate of the Five - Changing of the Guard

This was the third session of the Shadow of the Demon Lord campaign. Once again, we have had a major shake up. New people have arrived, old friends have left, and an enemy has shown his face.

Session review

We picked up in the beastman camp. Shart and Krunk opted to head back to town, as they were not feeling quite themselves after nearly dying to the bloody bones. Azeeze, Chert, and Aeyrn were not to be dissuaded and they pushed on. They picked the trail of the bloody bones up and followed it to an ancient abandoned shrine in the woods. Within there was a pit, at the bottom of which was a pool of water. Azeeze had the bright idea to throw a rock into the water, after which a chainbound rose up from under the surface and attempted to eat said rock. This allowed the party to strategize and come up with a good plan to deal with the massive animated corpse. Chert armored up and marched down to the water. Another rock was thrown in which got the chainbound to rise up again. At that moment Chert dropped his armor and blasted the creature with a massive blast of earthen energy. The chainbound was grievously injured and struck out at the gnome, killing him instantly.

Troy had a great idea. He used a spell of his to charge up and deal 9d6 damage to the chainbound for 34 points of damage. The creature wasn't killed, and hit back for 16 points of damage. Since that exceeded Chert's health that meant he was instantly killed. It was rather exciting.
The gnome formerly known as Chert. Image courtesy of Troy Pichelman

The gnome formerly known as Chert. Image courtesy of Troy Pichelman

Azeeze and Aeryn were distraught seeing their friend killed in such a manner. They tried to take down the chainbound, but it proved to powerful and they were forced to retreat. Azeeze had suffered nearly debilitating wounds attempting to get Chert's body back from the undead creature, and needed to rest. They got back to Asylum and Azeeze promptly retired to his house and stayed put for a couple of days.

While in town, Aeryn spoke with Saul, the head guardsman. He informed them of the happenings at the shrine, and volunteered to help them set watch after he rested. Unfortunately, his brother had dispatched a pair of harvester assassins to take him out. Nebog and Nedlog had a lot of issues trying to take Aeryn out, as the crafty revenant was able to charm Nebog. Eventually, they killed him and threw him out into the alley. Being a revenant, Aeryn was back up a few hours later, although he was a bit crazier.

I had considered sending just one of the brothers in to deal with Aeryn. I'm glad there were two. He put up a good fight, but once the two were after him the fight was over quickly. This was just another step in getting Jaren to be more annoying.

We fast forwarded a bit at this point. Azeeze had slept off his injuries and was back out and ready to help the town. Aeyrn was hiding in the woods outside of town, licking his wounds and getting ready to go after Jaren. As Azeeze headed out of town with the watchmen and the magistrate's (Jaren's) personal guards he was joined by the elf Light of the Feather.

Light of the Feather was Troy's new character. An elf who had befriended Aeryn long ago and was tracking him down.

With the magistrate unprotected, Jaren was thinking he'd be able to waltz right in and kill him. Jaren was prepared for this situation. After the initial spell from Aeryn, Jaren was able to dominate him and send him out with a compulsion to retrieve chaos shards from the sunken shrine. Aeyrn caught up with the group and they were back to the shrine.

The group, reinforced with watchmen and guards, made short work of the chainbound and animated corpses. They explored the ruins, encountering some horrific stuff. The watchmen fled in terror after seeing the image of an elf woman rip her eyes out. The guardsmen went down after a living statue crushed their heads. Eventually they found a dish of chaos shards. As they were fighting their way in the bloody bones ambushed them once again. After killing one off they barricaded the door and hunkered down.

(c) 2016 Schwalb Entertainment, LLC

(c) 2016 Schwalb Entertainment, LLC

Honestly, the bloody bones have been the biggest villains in the campaign so far.

After holding up for the better part of a day, they were ready to get back out and track the last bloody bones down. Just as they were about to head out, the door started banging on its hinges. Aeryn flung the door open and Azeeze let fly a bolt from his crossbow right into Krunk's chest.

Things to remember

  • Chert is dead, what happened to his lab?
  • Krunk just got shot in the chest for 6 damage.
  • Aeryn has been gone longer than his compulsion would have lasted.

World Wide Wrestling RPG One Shot

We're between campaigns in my other gaming group, Tuesday Night Gaming. Whenever this comes up we will fill a couple of sessions with GM-less games like Fiasco, or other players will run a one or two session game. This time around I was able to run the World Wide Wrestling RPG by Nathan D. Paoletta. I'm not a huge wrestling fan, but I do think it's great. I remember watching Hulk Hogan, Mr. Perfect, Ultimate Warrior, Macho Man, Honkey Tonk Man, and dozens of others that I'm forgetting about back when I was a kid. Throw goofy wrestling in with a game running on Apocalypse World and I was instantly interested in running the game.

Character creation was a blast. Everyone dove right in and started coming up with some interesting characters for their gimmicks. The character creation process that Apocalypse World has is probably my favorite of any system I've played. It's quick and straight forward, and it generates characters that are intertwined with each other in interesting ways.

The wrestlers

Cold Snap, played by Troy, was the up and coming wrestler. He had a style very similar to Johnny Hades, and that was rubbing the veteran the wrong way.

Naked Jake, run by Jordan, was a coked up former stripper who was making everyone angry. His behind the scenes substance abuse, and complete lack of desire to do something about it, had gotten management to a point where they wanted him out. He wasn't pleased with Cold Snap, and couldn't even remember his former tag team partner "World Class" Jimmy Buffet.

Johnny Hades, Greg's wrestler, was the veteran on the scene. His style was more dignified and solemn, think Undertaker with lots of fire and brimstone, than what Cold Snap was doing. That dignity is something that would push him to make things worse for himself.

Whatever, Jim's emo anti-hero, was an odd one. He was Johnny Hades mentee, but he wanted out of the relationship. His finisher, The Dark Passenger, was an edgy update to the tameness that wrestling had experienced recently. His desire to get out of his deal with Hades would cause some issues.

"World Class" Jimmy Buffet, Roger's jobber, looked like a washed up fat ass. However, he was probably the most technically proficient wrestler around. Management would put him into matches just to make their pushes look better. He was good at it.

Quick summary

After character creation, I put together the booking for the night. I wanted to start with a quick match, so I had Cold Snap take on Jimmy Buffet. We got warmed up to the system with this one, and things went pretty smoothly. The game progressed pretty well. The tag team match between Black Sabbath, Cold Snap and Whatever's team, and the Asskickers introduced us to some new moves.

Things went insane when Naked Jake was matched against Jimmy Buffet. As Creative, I liked the idea of Naked getting sidelined as one of the major story lines. We had a couple of between match scenes that were designed to make Naked look bad. As the Wasted gimmick, Jordan kept ratcheting up his antics. This became a fun little game as the whole table would give him a thumbs up or down to indicate if his move was sufficiently insane to get his gimmick's bonus on them. Just when things were looking like Naked was going to take Buffet out I let them know Buffet was booked to win. Obviously, Naked hit with his finishing move and overturned the planned booking and won it. It was a great moment.

I was thinking the final match, between Cold Snap and Hades, would be a good setup for a major event that would happen in another session. In that later session, Cold Snap would be back for revenge, ready to bury the old man and take his place. However, Hades had gone to management after Naked's match and pleaded with them to respect the business and wash the coke-head out. The roll was botched, much momentum was spent, but even after all that the booking was changed behind the scenes. Hades was going to lose his match.

The match, however, didn't progress very far. Cold Snap had control of things, and was working Hades when Naked Jake bungee jumped into the ring in order to get back at Cold Snap for running in on him in the previous match. Before I knew it, all of the wrestlers were in the ring yelling and punching each other. The only logical thing to do here was to make it an official Regal Wrangle. The fracas concluded when Whatever pulled a heel move and eliminated Cold Snap to win from out of nowhere.

Impressions

Overall, I had a ton of fun with this game. Character creation was a blast, and really got everyone into the spirit. Running the matches was a breeze. If necessary, I'd prompt and push the player to narrate to an exciting moment when it would make sense to make a move. Sticking a microphone in someone's hands to take the role of the announcer was hit and miss. Often, the announcer would sit back and let the narration play out, which was just fine. The matches were exciting, and wrapped up pretty well. There is a chance that we might run this game again for a short campaign, and I'm definitely pulling it out for one shots in the future.

One thing that I'm really hoping to see come out of this is more creativity in combat with other games. I'm thinking that this sort of thing could work in a system that grants bonuses for various reasons. How would something like this apply to Shadow of the Demon Lord, which I'm currently running?

Standard combat

GM: The excrement demon starts chanting!

Player 1: I hit it. I rolled a 10 to hit.

GM: That misses.

Without any reason to think creatively why put the effort into it? Sure, there's responsibility on my end to make the encounter dynamic and encourage the players to take advantage of it, but if you're used to just hitting stuff then that's what you'll do.

Rewarding combat

GM: Dust puffs as the excrement demon rises from the dried up sandy fountain basin. It begins chanting and gesturing.

Player 1: All right, I'm going in after it. As I approach the demon can I try and kick sand up in its face to throw it off as I try to stab it?

GM: Yeah, awesome, add a boon to your attack.

Player 1: I rolled a 10.

GM: That'll miss, the demon isn't distracted by the sand you kicked at it and dodges out of the way.

It's a bit more interesting. The big difference here, as I see it, isn't the player being creative. The big difference for me is the GM handing out an incentive for being creative. Give the player a boon for using the environment, but also give the player the environment to work with.

Wrap up

World Wide Wrestling has got me thinking about my other games, and that's a good thing. I can't wait to bring it to the table again, and I think I'll put together a kit I can pull out at a moment's notice. Gen Con is in just a couple of weeks, so I might as well be prepared.

© 2016 Nathan D. Paoletta/ndpdesign

© 2016 Nathan D. Paoletta/ndpdesign