Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ars Mortalitas Campaign, pt. 3: Session 3--Rolling for Interaction is like eating a cheeseburger with a knife and fork


This was one of those sessions that involved a lot of back and forth over the table, mostly by the players, but also which forced me to elaborate on my descriptions of the situation in which they found themselves. Much of this session involved deciding and planning what to do. This took quite a while, though it generated what looked to be some very viable plans.

Eventually, the PCs decided to try infiltrating the private club of which they had heard rumors. Ferrus took transport uphive, accompanied by the dissolute noblewoman "client" of Korg DeVine. Let's just say things did not go as planned. Again. With this character, things rarely go as planned, and his player rocks the portray with so much unintentional awkwardness as to defy description. Ferrus was able to enter the premises, but then proceeded to blow every chance at investigation, mostly due to failed Fellowship-based rolls. He's just not a "people person," I guess.

A brief aside, here: One of the reasons I'm making a shift from Dark Heresy to Dungeon Crawl Classics has to do with interaction mechanics like the one Ferrus blew, above. The players could have gotten some decent information, actionable information, even. But several crappy rolls of the dice blew that shit out the airlock, leaving the players with a dead end. This is, at least in part, because this game demands that you roll for just about everything. If you can do it, there's a skill or a talent for it, and that means rolling and more rolling. On a bad day, it doesn't matter how good your plan was, you simply can't execute it, because the dice said so. Further, you never really have to roleplay it or be particularly specific about what your PC is doing, because there's a die roll for investigative skills, or others. This takes the action (and responsibility) out of the hands of the players (and GM), and makes it something about the "agency" of the dice. That said, I think Dark Heresy could be redone in a less comprehensive way, especially with regard to how characters advance. On the other hand, if I was doing that, why wouldn't I just play something that does old-school play better? 

Now back to our program.

However, even though he failed his interaction rolls, Ferrus was able to ascertain that the club was more or less a collection of dilettantes attempting to live on the wild side, rather than the PCs' real quarry. He also met a charming, older couple. But this was also where the most crucial failed rolls occurred. Ferrus was unable to find out much of significance, and his botched rolls have made the couple suspicious of him and his motives.

That avenue blocked, the PCs decided to go ahead with their other plan: To kidnap one of the von Furstenberg daughters. To that end, they loaded up their rented van, accompanied by Jenell and Dahlia, the two, extra-talented ladies of the night provided by Korg DeVine.

After they made the trip to Gunthrop Manor, the PCs were unable to find the twins. Questioning of people on the premises suggests that Maria and Alice Gunthrop had, rather abruptly, been bundled off, back to boarding school, and, thus, out the reach of our daring acolytes. Something about the story doesn't ring true, though, and may bear further investigation.

In truth, one of the twins (Marie) is dead, at her father's hands, and one (Alice) has fled to Castle von Fürstenburg, seeking shelter with her mother. She will not find safety there. Instead, Frederick von Fürstenburg will imprison her, hoping to make good use of her in one of his little games. She is imprisoned in his private quarters, chained to his bed; he plans on softening her up a little bit before getting to the real fun.

If Alice does eventually die, it will break the Gunthrop curse. It will, at the same time, leave the Gunthrop line without an heir. At one time, Samara Jaxx might have fulfilled that role, but now she is dead, caught unawares, and slain by a bog ghoul.

And that's where this session ended. Next up, the finale!