Friday, 20 June 2014

Torchbearer AP - Part 4: Almost Left Four Dead

Things went rapidly from good, to bad, to worse in our latest Torchbearer game and we saw how much punishment our delvers can bounce back from. It's hard to tell if I'm being too nice or too cruel to my players... Perhaps Both?

Our last session ended with the eerie rising of four undead creatures, one of which was intelligent enough to utter a raspy command to his decayed companions: "Kill these intruders so I might feast upon their flesh!" We now resume that thrilling cliffhanger!

After a insightful prologue by Fraser, Exhausted was removed from Morris, making the party condition-free for the trials ahead; gods know they needed it.

Dramatis Personæ:
  • Fraser ... Morris the Mirthful [Human Magician] An anarchistic arcanist with a big mouth and several opinions.
  • Jason ... Rebo Pepper [Halfling Burgler] A quiet and pleasant little person who seeks loot to feed his love of food.
  • Riley S ... Hrolf Rosensloff [Human Warrior] - A fighter of such short stature he's often mistaken for a dwarf. Absent.
  • Stephen ... Joseph [Human Cleric] - A jaded ex-felon who found religion in gaol and became a cleric. Absent, soon to become NPC.
  • Scotty ... Falgaff Bitterleaf [Elven Ranger] - A curious, knowledge-loving Elf who's a bit of a loner.

Adventure Phase

7. [resuming from last session] Out of the four pine coffins sitting atop stone biers, clumsily rose three corpse-like creatures, and an unnaturally graceful ghoulish monster which was more fluid in movement than its compatriots. Morris, Rebo, and Flagaff drew their weapons in preparation for a Kill Conflict, when the sound of clanging metal became from behind them. Turning suddenly revealed that Hrolf had completely disappeared and all that remained was his sword, lying on the floor of the passageway. Falgaff led his companions into the fray, jockeying for position whilst the Ghoul directed his zombified underlings to do likewise; Falgaff was able to provide an opening but the gait of the corpse-beings was faster than he anticipated and he was forced to hold them off up close with his bow stave, disarming him of its use. Morris was able to take out two zombies with a blast of Eldritch Darts, before they could gain ground. Keen-eyed shots from Rebo took down the pair on Falgaff. Drawing his dagger, the Elf Ranger then rushed the Ghoul and stabbed at it repeatedly, whilst it slashed its claws at him. Morris greatly succeed on a cast of Eldritch Darts that blew away the Ghoul, winning the Conflict for our heroes! The minor compromise was that Falgaff became Angry that his new bow had been damaged in the fight and was inoperable until he could fix it.
8. The lantern carried by Morris was refilled with oil after it had burnt out. Led by Falgaff, the group made a Scout Test to thoroughly search the room for anything of interest; success noticed each coffin had a false bottom inside of it, but each open-able panel appeared to be connected to a trigger of sorts. Stomachs grumbled as Hunger and Thirst set in.
9. After debating how to open one of the compartments/bypass said trigger, Falgaff elected his Curious Trait was to be a detriment; his desire to trigger any trap and willingness to take any effects head-on for the sake of knowledge was used against his Dungeoneer Test; a hissing noise was heard from the resulting failure, and the whole bottom of the coffin was filled with a thick, noxious purple haze that overflowed the casket and spilled on to the stone floor. Upon touching the bodies of the slain undead creatures, the trio saw to their horror the corpses began reanimate!
10. The group opted a Flee Conflict from the undead, unsure if this necromatic smoke had not only reanimated them but made them stronger in the process! Though the stupid and slow-moving zombies were simple to avoid and outpace, our adventures found the Ghoul incredibly fast: Whilst directing his companions to the corridor beyond the doorway Rebo was maintaining against zombies, the ghoul dove over his short stature and threw the halfling from behind into the mob with such force he bowled over Morris, along with all the zombies, knocking them all out of the conflict. Before Falgaff had time to react to the development, the Ghoul slammed the door hard enough to jam it, and leapt to the other passageway, cutting off any escape route for our adventurers!
11. Backed into a corner and in dire straights, the group decided to fight a way free through a Kill Conflict! Again both sides maneuvered into position, each gaining a small measure of advantage. Morris then mistakenly decided to go on the defensive; although he managed to dodge the blows aimed at him, it gave little reprieve for him or his companions. Falgaff then met the rush of undead armed with not but his dagger; he and Rebo managed to take out three of the zombies before they fell to their blows. Alone, "wielding" Hrolf's sword in one hand and the lamp in the other, Morris opted for a desperate attack: he attempted to hold the one remaining zombie at bay at sword-point, whilst aiming and hurling the lantern at the Ghoul, using his incendiary-wise to full effect. What resulted was two-fold: the lone zombie was inadvertently killed by it skewering itself on the sword held by Morris, whilst the lantern struck home on the Ghoul, dousing it with burning oil and casting dim light throughout the chamber. In a final bout between the two remaining combatants, both had feinted: Morris tried to use the corpse with Hrolf's blade sticking through it as weapon/shield against the enraged and now flaming Ghoul, which managed to rake the mage across his chest with its filthy, paralytic claws. The last thing Morris saw before succumbing to darkness was the Ghoul clutching at the chest wound it had received from the sword...
12. An indeterminate time later, Falgaff and Rebo awoke in total darkness, both Injured with a possible set of broken ribs and a deeply bruised left forearm respectively. The two made a Scavenge Test to grope for materials in the pitch black to make a light source (having no backup); Rebo succeeded in finding material to make a single torch, but doing so caused him to become greatly unnerved at the feeling that something was watching them in the dark, making him deeply Afraid. Our two adventurers were also Exhausted from starvation.
13. The makeshift torch was lit with the tinderbox and the two were able to see the aftermath of the conflict: the bodies of the undead lay strewn about, but the corpse of the Ghoul was nowhere to been seen. The body of Morris almost wasn't spotted, hidden underneath the zombie he had skewered. The pair dragged him to the middle of the chamber where Falgaff attempted a Healer Test upon him; a failure resulted in Falgaff being unable to bring the barely living mage to consciousness.
14. With little time and light left in their makeshift torch, the pair opted to drag Morris back to the dimly lit entrance of the Keep, where they could perhaps make camp and regroup. Before doing so Falgaff retrieved Hrolf's sword from the undead corpse and invested the triggered coffin: to his dismay it contained nothing but a simple white silken blindfold for use in casting Supernal Vision. He then brought all his talents to bare and succeeded on a Pathfinder Test to make their way back to the foyer. Once there, Falgaff risked following his Instinct and made a successful Survivalist Test to ensure a safer camp in an area of potential traffic.

Camp Phase - Minor Inconvenience: Rebo discovered a blow he had taken during one of the conflicts had dented his remaining oil flask and it had slowly leaked to empty.

  • With great patience and care, Falgaff slowly drip fed the last Healing Potion into Morris' mouth and grievous wounds: eventually removing the Injury condition Morris was suffering and awakening him. Morris still had a long recovery ahead of him (having every other condition from being left for dead) but it was a start.
  • The company alleviated their base need for sustenance by eating some rations and food conjured by the magic handbell, thus removing their gnawing Hunger and Thirst.
  • Falgaff spent one of his two checks recovering successfully from his Anger; in hindsight, a damaged bow is of little concern compared against their very lives.
  • Falgaff gave his one other check to Morris, who also removed his own Anger; he considered that he was very lucky to be alive.
  • Perhaps fuelled by his feverish state, Morris and company had an interesting 2nd-hand conversation with the spirit of Barrik residing within Falgaff's head: The magician hypothesized that since one is supposedly unable to make a gelatin dessert containing the fresh tropical fruit known as "pine-apple", one may be able to create a weaponized extract from it to use against the Gelatinous Cube that lay between the group and the unsearched areas of the Keep they wished to explore. When asked where and how they would acquire these "pine-apples", Morris projected that the magic handbell might be able to conjure some up...
  • After this very interesting conversation, the party reluctantly broke camp.

Adventure Phase

  1. Summoning all his will and forethought, Falgaff managed to pull off a successful Pathfinder Test and led the pathetic trio back to the village.

Town Phase - Morris reached 2nd level upon entering town; Rebo spent enough rewards to hit 2nd level but won't level up until their next visit. 

  • The first order of business once they were within the bounds of Torlynn was finding accommodation, and since the group had very little in the way of resources between them, they decided to swallow their collective pride and request (i.e. beg) for assistance from Gustovan the Burgomaster. After a long conversation and berating over the little amount of progress and the snide comments on his administration Morris had made to the public; the Burgomaster, whom claimed he still had the best interests of the townfolk at heart, agreed to set them up at his residence for a short time whilst they recuperated before heading back to the keep to solve the problem once and for all. Gustovan also made it clear that his patience in 'free-loading adventurers' had grown thin, and claimed that the next time he saw the group in his town they best have cleared the curse.
  • Settling into the granted lodging, Rebo, Morris, and Falgaff took full advantage of the free if sparse amenities and recovered their Afraid and Exhausted conditions. 
  • Before attempting to recover their more serious ills, the group sought ways to aid the removal of their afflictions: Morris with the help of Falgaff spent an entire day making a Scavenger Test to recover medicinal herbs for making into healing and sickness poultices respectively. Falgaff was dismayed when he realized that crafting said poultices was probably beyond his skill as a healer to make, so they remained as supplies for future use.
  • The group decided to seek divine aid in the removal of their respective Injuries and Sickness, and they met with Father Relmark of the local chapel of the Immortals. Having no coin for donation, they beesched the cleric for aid in their 'duty' to cleanse the Keep and land of Torlynn of this unnatural winter and managed to convince Relmark with a successful Persuade Test. Proclaiming that since they had no tribute to sacrifice to the Immortals that would be granting this boon, the trio would have to spend the remainder of their days in town fasting, cleansing themselves of sin. (This imposed on each PC a Hungry/Thrist condition that didn't interfere with order of recovery but that couldn't be removed until they left town. Rebo claimed it should be illegal keeping a halfling hungry.) A handsome tithe was also promised to the order upon return to Torlynn. In return, the cleric blessed the each party member with The Breath of the Burning Lord, granting a +1D to respective recovery tests. Miraculously Morris' fever broke, and Rebo's arm was healed to use, but alas the Immortals' gift was of no use to the Elf in healing his ribs; Falgaff was beginning to greatly dislike the proudly unrepentant spirit of Barrik that dwelt within his head, whom Falgaff blamed for the reason why the divine boon did not work on him.
  • With aid of Morris, Falgaff then turned to his own healer arts in a last ditch attempt to cure his Injury before having to resign to being crippled by it: an explosion of fate point-fueled 6s proved that his ribs weren't broken all along, they were just subluxated and he popped them back into place.
  • With a bit of free time and some "borrowed" tools, Morris distilled a lye solution from ashes in the Burgomaster's fireplace into the empty healing potion jar via an Alchemist Test for later use.
  • Morris then stood in the centre of the market place and made an impassioned speech via a Orator Test on the groups' noble cause with the intent to make the merchants more susceptible to the following Haggler Test. Both were successful, but the resulting Haggling Event rolled was disappointingly similar to the last: Hard Bargain or Thriftiness.
  • Rebo again took advantage of the two-for-one deal of Hard Bargain to buy lighting supplies but it turned out the only merchant who was willing to make said deal was the same dealer the group got into a argument with last time. Rebo eventually got a set of Torches with a free set of Candles, but was made Angry by the whole barter process.
  • The group finally decided they best return to Barrik's Keep to find Hrolf and end the cursed winter once and for all, or die trying. Rebo and Falgaff initially managed to pay their dues, but Morris had made one too many favours and was pulled aside by the town watch: they explained that several of the folk had made complaints on his 'parasitic behaviour', and the watch had been requested to bar him from future entry into the village unless he is able to pay his debts. Rebo and Falgaff had their own financial credibility lowered by association with this deadbeat.

Exiting Torlynn into the wilderness was where we concluded this session.

Character Condition Status
  • Falgaff Bitterleaf - Hungry and Thirsty.
  • Morris the Mirthful - Hungry and Thirsty.
  • Rebo Pepper - Hungry and Thirsty, Angry.
  • Hrolf Rosensloff - Angry, Afraid, and Exhausted [Absent]
  • Joseph - Exhausted [Absent]

Things I forgot: I realized after the last session I had been running Tapped Nature totally incorrectly; for some reason I thought you added your flat Nature rating to the result you rolled, but this made it way too easy for any PC to just auto-pass a Test. We now correctly add a number of dice to your pool equal to your current Nature rating.

The other thing I discovered we were forgetting was wise use: Initially I thought wises could be used to augment a Test in any appropriate situation for free, and only the Fate and Persona point rerolls cost anything. I must've totally glossed over the part that using a wise four times differently (in Pass & Failed Tests, in Deeper Understanding, and in Of Course!) granted a perk! This means that one can cycle out wises, or advance related skills; which adds another avenue for character advancement to our collective, pleasant surprise.

Until Next Time... ;{١

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