Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Game Play - 1 session

The session started out with the players building their characters. We had two Imperials, Dolus, a militant priest of the Imperial Cult of Duality - venerating Lokan of War rather than Loran of Commerce - and the other was Porthius, a Skorovian Imperial noble. Joining them was Kessen, an Alfari trickster and aspiring Assassin's Guild hopeful, who was sometimes employed by the noble's family. The noble and the priest had distant family ties, and were on equal 'Social Status'. This was important because Imperial characters start with the Negative Racial Trait that gives penalties when dealing with other characters of a perceived higher social status. Dolus opted to take the standard Imperial package, meaning he also starts with the Positive Racial Talent 'Acumen' which grants a daily bonus to negotiations and diplomacy checks. Porthius chose the Skorovian Racial Talent of 'All the Glitters' to receive a 5% increase on money earnt from trade or wages.

Kessen took the standard Alfari Racial Talents of 'Agile' and 'Untrusted'. These granted a daily bonus to Reflex checks and an automatic -1 to attitudes of newly met NPCs. He also chose Enchantments as his primary vocation and used a bow to back him up.

Dolus equiped himself with heavy armour, a battle axe and shield. Porthius chose to dual wield rapier and main gauche, and wished to play a foppish scoundrel of a noble.

The story begins as Dolus learns of an ill-fated caravan that suffered many set backs on its way to Skoro from the desert cities of the North. They lost several guards in an attack by Waster bandits and more to a sandstorm that forced them to seek shelter in a ruin that was uncovered by winds. The shelter held hidden horrors and the remaining caravaneers fled, leaving behind their wagon of spices and silks and the remaining guards were killed. The Temple hierachy were interested to know if the ruins belonged to an ancient Alfari Ascendancy outpost that was lost thousands of years ago, and if there were any artefacts remaining inside. Dolus recruited his friends to assist in the task, and their first step was to talk to the surviving caravaneers.

They found the hapless fellows drowning their sorrows in the Broken Drum Tavern near the trade markets in Skoro, and Kessen approached them. He opened with a sympathetic comment, but his Alfari heritage betrayed him and the already Annoyed caravaneers became Angry at him, thinking he had come to gloat. The Dolus stepped in with a round of drinks to ease tensions and Kessen proved he had the gift of the gab, talking them down and calming them. When they learned that the characters were interested in finding the ruins, they assumed they had taken the bounty to recover their wagon. Ever the oppotunist, Porthius took the job and secured exclusive rights to the bounty by paying a guarantee of 50GC to the impoverished merchants. On top of losing their shipment, the caravaneers explained that the local Order of the Bear, the mercenary unit who leased the guards, expected immediate payment for the services of the guards. Without the shipment, the caravaneers could not afford to pay, however, and they beseeched the players to intervene by sweetening the bounty on the shipment by 20%. They agreed.

Kassen knew that the Order of the Bear runs it's business from the predominantly Karthi Winking Lizard Inn, and upon arrival were treated to a bareknuckle fist fight between two patrons. Porthius once again proved to be the oppotunist and placed a winning wager on the 'one with the blue sash'. After the fight the characters learnt that the chapter master was none other than the 'one with the blue sash' and celebrated his victory by buying him an ale. The big man and Kassen got right down to business, and Kassen had carefully disguised his features with his hood. With Dolus also discussing the terms of the caravaneers' contract, Kassen used his subtle enchantment spell 'Beguile' to slowly turn the chapter master's attitudes to Friendly, and soon the characters had a deal with the Order of the Bear to delay payment of the contract until the shipment is returned.

With horses borrowed from the Imperial Cult, and an official exclusive bounty writ, the party began the arduous trek through the desert, 6 days to the north. On the way they encountered another caravan, who neither knew of the ruins, nor of any bandit raids lately. Dolus used his benedictions to grant extended sight to Porthius, who found the remains of a previous bandit raid and they managed to salvage a locked chest buried in the sand. Inside were some coins, some gems and some potions that grant extended health for 1 hour.

At the end of the journey, Porthius gained a level of Exposure due to the heat, and they arrived otherwise unharmed. The ruins were mostly scattered buildings, with one tower mostly collapsed, and a larger complex still buried in a sand dune. There was no sign of the guards bodies, but there was footprints in the sand, and recent ones at that. They set camp for the night and set a watch.

During the middle watch, Dolus spotted a light flitting between some stone blocks and went to investigate. He spotted a glowing, diaphinous figure searching through the ruins, and snuck back to camp and woke everyone. Kassen readied his bow and went to scout their location while the others prepared their armour and put out their fire. It wasn't long before Kassen spotted several Haunts converging on the camp and he used a Ventriloquism spell to warn his comrades of the impending attack. With not a moment to spare, Dolus and Porthius avoided the first round of attacks, but learnt the hard way that their weapons were unable to harm the Haunts. Dolus called on Lokan to aid them and Porthius' rapier glowed with a faint aura of light. With his weapon suitably enchanted Porthius struck at the ghosts and was able to destroy one. Kassen meanwhile used a Fine Illusion spell to create an image of an attacking Dolus rushing at the ghosts. While the phantoms and phantasms battled, Dolus enchanted his own axe and together with Porthius they finished off the simple minded ghosts. The ghostly forms destroyed, the heroes witnessed the Haunts' wispy essence being sucked into a darkened entrance into the building half-buried by the dunes.

Next game - The heroes go to investigate the ruins further, and attempt to uncover what horrors lair within!

This game was played using version 0.555 of Hands of Fate, with part of the story decided upon by the players, as a result of their characters taking the lead when they pass Skill checks.