Sunday, September 10, 2017

Play Report: Kidnap the Archpriest Playtest

This is technically Tomb of the Chimera Kings 2, but I jumped at the chance to detour into playtesting +Skerples ' upcoming Kidnap the Archpriest module.

The party consisted of :

  • Orriam, Hirwigo Fighter
  • Romloc, Mushroom Wizard
  • Elanir, Mountain Elf
  • Ezek, Fighter of the Scattered God
All played by still-fresh players.

We open the next morning, after their first successful run in the dungeon. The party wakes up to find that the campsite has doubled in size, and is filled with other S&P mercenaries. Among the chaos is a face they recognize: Scuttlebutt, a rotund black beetleperson who had initially hired them for Plausible Deniability Activities back in Trade Town. He has with him a taller, pale beetle wearing the finery of a bank noble, and calls out "you, you, you and you. Got a new job, you have half an hour to pack your bags."

The pale beetle goes by the name of Izzik. He explains that the party will be put on a a direct whale-flight to Huuston, in order to infiltrate the castle there and kidnap the Archpriest of the Red-and-Gold, bringing him back to Trade Town to stand before the Bank's justice. They agree to the terms swiftly and spend the next day and night in transit.

Upon reaching Huuston the next dawn, the party immediately goes to check out the  marketplace and purchase an room at the Sober Monk Inn, under the story that they are tourists. The morning is filled primarily with information gathering: Ezek scopes out the castle they are to break into, Orriam picks up all manner of gossip, managing to hear the name of Oleg the Wise get dropped, from whom he purchases a map and more gossip. Romloc trundles around poking at dirt, as he is a mushroom.

Elanir shows the most drive of the bunch (her player was really getting into it), and spends her morning fixing the chimera bow she retrieved in the previous session, acquiring a pair of priest's cassocks from a shady part of the marketplace, and securing a whore token from Madam Livia. She pawns off two of the three amulets she received in the Tomb to pay for all this.

The group meets for lunch at noon, to plan and share information.

With the priest robes acquired, Romloc and Orriam get dressed and begin doing some further scouting: the former to investigate the cardinals' villas, the latter to see if he can get inside the castle and look around. Romloc is met with "sorry, the cardinal is out, and you aren't on the invitation list", while Orriam manages to pass a CHA check with a score of 4 to get past the guards. He signs in with reception, is guided by a servant through some of the lower castle to the chapel, where he acts out a few prayers, and then returns.

Elanir returns to gather more market rumors, Ezek continues scouting the castle from the outside.

The group meets a second time at 5pm to share information, and plan.

This is where everything begins to fall apart. The next several hours are spent with more rumor-finding (to the point where I was getting repeats on the list and was picking them at random), with Ezek returning to Oleg for, yes, more rumors. By this point they were not helpful anymore. Elanir, who of the four is the only one now to have a set plan, spends the last of her money rushing the purchase of a perfume bottle filled with a knockout spritzer.

It's now 11 pm, and everything has hit the fan. Discussion of plans have gone nowhere. Elanir has been working (quite effectively) towards sneaking in the side door using the whore token and her exotic elvish looks, then using a combination of the knockout spritzer and some rope (explained to the guard as bondage gear) to grab the archpriest. (She also suggested combining said technique with one of the priest robes in case more kink was required, a move I heartily encouraged as being in the spirit of the PC, but alas, it never came to fruition).

Arguments began. Everyone began sort of wandering off to do their own thing - Elanir went to the side gate to be let in, while Ezek fired his crossbow at one of the Black Endoguards (they are not your friends) watching the river by the main gate bridge "as a distraction"

Describing a crossbow bolt crumpling ineffectually against a helmet, followed by an 8 foot tall potentially-a-person with black carapace armor and glowing red eyes running someone down was quite fun, but not for Ezek. The quick turn in an alley did not avail him, as a gauntleted hand grabbed the neck of his shirt, threw him down to the cobbles, and a horrible axe went snicker-snack.

Romloc tried to interfere with a magic missile, which distracted the Endoguard long enough for Ezekn to get one ineffectual sword thrust in before he was hacked open and killed. Romloc was chased down and tackled, and managed to survive a punch to the head with his spongy mushroom physique. He attempted to call upon the mushrooms for aid (a joke action, but I allowed it, we both knew how this was going to end), but the response from the soil was "Fuuuuuuuck youuuuuuuuu" The Endoguard proceeded to axe him a question, something along the lines of "I wonder what a mushroom-person's organs look like."

Orriam used the distraction to jump into the moat and swim across. He got about half way before changing tact, then flailing about and claiming a thief had pushed him in, calling for the aid of the guards (he was still wearing the fake cassock). the gate guards threw him a rope, pulled him in, and took him into the guardhouse, where he was given a blanket by the brazier and a flask of brandy.

Two guards were inside the guardhouse playing cards, with the two outside returning there, and then Orriam (whose player swore later that he thought he had a chance) leapt up with the warhammer he had smuggled in under his cassock and one-hit braining one of the guards.

The other, of course, screamed HOLY FUCK!, which was met by one of the outside guards rushing in and the other setting off the alarm. A guard was wounded, Orriam took a hit, the scuffle was brief: the wounded guard managed to land a crit on max damage, which turned into an eviscerating blow from purse to sternum. 

With the alarm going off Elanir was barely through the door when approached by a guard saying "come along with me, ma'am." She was escorted to a holding cell (and dropped her perfume bottle on the way, to get rid of evidence, good thinking there), where she stayed through the night.

The terrorist attack on the castle spread like wildfire in the night, to the point that the Archpriest and a handful of his Endoguard left the city by whale ahead of schedule. Elianor was released, and we wrapped the session. (The excavation site near the tomb of the Chimera kings did not fare better, and Sont, the Chromatic fighter who was strangled by a hand last session, came down with mummy rot and began infecting others, to the point where the dungeon was re-sealed with even more undead than it started with inside, and the site was abandoned within two weeks.)

Miscellaneous DM Notes
  • They almost had a plan. They were one step away from having a legitimate plan - Elanir goes in as a whore, sneaks her way to the Archpriest, and sneaks him out through the passage to the cathedral with the two who are disguised as priests keeping vigil, then they take it to the fourth member who has the getaway ready.
  • This plan was abandoned before it came into being. The arguments (Mostly founded on not knowing enough, not having a plan, poking holes in the whore attempt) drove the planning in circles to the point that they actually forgot that they almost had a good plan. Right back to 0, with no one knowing what was going on, which in turn made everything feel rushed, as if they had to analyze every detail. (A description from Romloc's player)
  • It is very frustrating to DM when only one person has a plan.
  • It is very frustrating for the players when only one person has a plan.
  • Frustrated players tend to make stupid choices just so they can do something.
  • The lack of their experience really showed in some places ex: Not buying supplies because "What do we buy? We don't know what we need!", even after I explained exactly how the markets worked. Elanir's player picked it up quickly (getting the robes), but the others not so much.
  • They spent loads of time collecting rumors, even after they had ceased becoming useful, but still rushed into action on Night 1 instead of waiting until the next day (which was suggested by Elanir).
  • The party didn't end up crossing paths with any of the major NPCs in the module.
  • Black Endoguards are the coolest.
The players did have fun, though, sans the circular arguments. I'd like to run it again with a more experienced group. For now, though, it seems the adventures in Fwéa have come to a quick and ignoble close. Might try the WEG Star Wars with this group next, once the 30th anniversary books are out.

1 comment:

  1. This reminds me of Arnold K's Bathouse (http://goblinpunch.blogspot.jp/2014/07/take-bath-you-damn-dirty-murder-hobo.html) which I've run three times now, for three groups of new players. I haven't read this module but they seem to share a heisty element. The big differences that appear to me are that the Bath house appears to be a much smaller area with fewer interactive parts (about the size of a city block) and the location itself seems less daunting. The Baths are not heavily guarded, the major hurdle is the target itself which is a hot point of power in an otherwise forgiving area.

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