Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Von Furstenberg Schism, pt. 5: What is Lys von Furstenberg doing?

While the PCs deal with the various perils of the jungle of Magyaru, the von Furstenberg party is making its way inland from the other (Western) side of the island. But what would draw a sorceress to this island? Why are they here? They are here to bargain with the Ancient Ones of Magyaru that are rumored in various ancient tomes to haunt the ruins. There is an artifact here, one that reputedly allows communication with the Old Ones, and promises access to the very limits of arcane knowledge.

Lys von Furstenburg wants to learn to harness their powers, and hopes to trade "food," in the form of human slaves, for knowledge of the Illusion and Dream Killer powers of the Old Ones.

The necromancer Marak Longinus Delacroix hopes to draw from the wells of the Old Ones' knowledge of life and death for knowledge of, and dominion over, the realm of death and its denizens. He also is getting on in years, and can feel his own creeping mortality. He also recently has found knowledge suggesting a way to avert death, though it will require his own death to do so: He wants to become the first Liche Lord since the Time of Legends, and undead sorcerer king to rival the Emperor himself. He plans to offer the Old Ones the possibility of freedom in exchange for their knowledge.

Their party consists of:
·         Lys von Furstenburg
·         Marak Longinus Delacroix
·         Koraline Fast
·         Lexandro the Slaver
·         8 Generic Scum
·         25 Human Slaves

Later, when the players encounter the von Furstenberg party, they will all be gathered in a cavernous room with grotesque carvings of beings whose forms are enough to crush the sanity of a prole. The slaves are notably fearful and some are, in fact, well beyond the boundaries of sanity. 

Within the room is an object, or maybe a device.

The Obelisk of the Old Ones

In the room, there is a large artifact made of an unknown metallic "stone." It's more or less a six sided obelisk, carved with intricate symbols which are constantly fading and emerging on (in? behind?) its surface. Merely looking at the obelisk requires an Ordinary Willpower Test (+0), or the person looking at it becomes rapt, and will gaze at it indefinitely, lost in the play of space and time, reality and Warp. He or she may make additional Willpower Tests each round, but each failed roll adds a degree of difficulty to next test. Also, each round of "rapture" under the influence of the obelisk results in 1d10 Insanity Points, plus 2 points per round of past influence (i.e., a person who has failed 2 Willpower Tests to escape its influence would take 1d10 plus 1d10+2 IP).

If the person interacting with the obelisk succeeds in the Willpower Test, he or she may break free from looking at it. Alternately, he or she may choose to make a Challenging (-10) Psyniscience Test, which will allow him or her to learn at the feet (tentacles?) of the Old Ones. Here's how that works:

Make one roll, each, against Intelligence, Willpower, and Fellowship. Count the total degrees of success/failure and use the following as a guide.

4 or more Success
Dark Pact*; acquire Talent (1-3 Foresight, 4-6 Light Sleeper or 7-10 Paranoia), +10 to Forbidden Lore (Occult); +10 to Forbidden Lore (Warp).
3 Success
Soul Bound**; Acquire Talent (1-3 Foresight, 4-6 Light Sleeper or 7-10 Paranoia), +10 to Forbidden Lore (Occult); +10 to Forbidden Lore (Warp), and 1d3 Random Arcane Magic Spells from any area.
2 Success
Acquire Talent (1-3 Foresight, 4-6 Light Sleeper or 7-10 Paranoia), +10 Forbidden Lore (Occult); +10 Forbidden Lore (Old Ones).
1 Success
+10 Forbidden Lore (Occult); +10 Forbidden Lore (Old Ones), and 1d2 Random Arcane Magic Spells.
+10 Forbidden Lore (Occult); +10 Forbidden Lore (Old Ones)
1 Failure
1d10 Insanity; 1d10 Corruption
2 Failure
2d 10 Insanity; 2d10 Corruption; 1 Malignancy.
3 Failure
2d10 Insanity; 2d10 Corruption; 1 Minor Mutation.
4 or more Failure
3d10 Insanity; 3d10 Corruption; 1 Major Mutation.
*In exchange for making a Dark Pact with the Old Ones, you get the following—
+5 Intelligence and Perception, Power Well, +1 to Magic Rating, Unnatural Toughness, Knowledge of an Arcane Magic or a Dark Magic discipline not already known, and 1d5+1 new spells in that area. You also become a member of a Cult and acquire the Peer (Cultists) talent, and are required to recruit members and organize them into cells, seeking the return of the Old Ones and their more powerful minions.
** A Soul  Bound character must make a Very Hard -30 Willpower Test to engage in actions that run counter to the interests of the Old Ones.

This is a very, very powerful artifact, but one fraught with dangers for those without the will (and luck with the dice) to master it. Even at the highest degrees fo success, the person using the artifact must pay a steep price for the power(s) he or she is granted. Failure, of course, is rewarded with insanity, corruption, and the potential for mutation. Roll well, or grow some new appendages, you crazy bastards.

Creature Feature: Water Whip of Magyaru

Creature Name:     Water Whip
Habitat:        Waterside                
Ecological Niche (Carnivore)
Schtick: A giant, vine-like carnivorous plantimal with clusters of 6 "arms." It's an anemone crossed with a climbing vine It lives along the edges of shallow water, and spreads by climbing and forming new patches of itself (for example, climbing along a creekbed. It grows toward the upstream side, and looks like the submerged roots of any nearby trees. It "hears" the vibration of any nearby creature, and will whip out its arms when a creature comes into range (about 10 meters), striking it with a paralytic poison and constricting it. Then it draws the critter toward its submerged "mouth" for two rounds while the tentacles continue to inflict acid damage. Once at the mouthparts, it begins to eat whatever it has caught                                                                                                                                                                                                           


Wounds:       20      

Movement: n/a                                                                      Wounds: 40
Skills: Awareness (Per); Concealment (Ag).
Talents: Fearless, Heightened Senses (Hearing).
Traits: Toxic, Multiple Arms, Natural Armor (2); Natural Weapon (Bite, Tentacles).
Armor: None (Head 2, Body 2, Legs 2).
·         Tentacle (1d5+4 Primitive, Special: Toxic): Target must make Toughness test at -10 to avoid paralysis, and an opposed Strength test to escape. From there on out, the victim will take 1 point of corrosion damage from acid oozing from spines. This also affects armor, which loses AP on that location until all AP gone. This causes damage to the armor itself, reducing that number of points of protection on that location until it is repaired).
·         Bite (1d10+8 R; Primitive, Tearing): Only bites something it has already caught, AND pulled in for eating (this takes 1 round per 5 meters of range to target at time of strike with tentacle).

The Von Furstenberg Schism, pt. 4: The Jungle of Magyaru

The party has set out from their landing point on the coast of Magyaru. The group at this point includes:

Vincent Clemens: Big brick of a guardsman, and his faithful cargo servitor (who carries all of his many weapons).
Jeromy: Guardsman (substitute PC for Mark, who failed to show for the game)
Ferrus D'Angelus: Adept (Rhonda)
Alistair: Arbitrator (Kevin)
Castus: Imperial Psyker (John)
Ianescu: Tech Priest (Jason)
Their Guide/Pilot

I'll return to the recap in a moment, but first I think it's important to get a sense of the atmosphere I was trying to create with this one, and my my overall process in creating this setting. 

My first impulse when I set out to do this adventure arc in a jungle was derived from King Kong. This needed to be the sort of adventure that hearkened back to the days of monster movies and the short-form serials that gave rise to the term "cliff-hanger." You know, intrepid adventurers, mysterious islands, fearsome creatures never before seen by man, and that sort of thing. The island itself I envisioned as volcanic, and mountainous. Here's a bit of the description I wrote as flavor text/memory cue:

The Jungle of Magyaru Consists of rock, mud, vegetation, and rushing waters. There are two prominent rivers, the northernmost of which takes the form of a series of linked lakes and ponds as it runs, first quickly and then more slowly, toward the northern coast. Investigation of these "lakes" will determine that they are not natural in origin. In fact, they are a transportation system for large, aquatic beings, a stairway for octopoids.

I was really going for that Lovecraftian flavor, here. The island of Magyaru, as I imagined it, wasn't actually a volcano. Instead it was the remains of an absolute collosal city, which, at some time very, very long ago, beyond the memories of mere humans, was inhabited by the Great Old Ones, creatures that existed before the Chaos Gods (Nurgle, Slaanesh, and Tzeentch). So, yeah, Lovecraft all the way. That city, though, had been destroyed by some other power(s), with what presumably was some sort of kinetic strike, whether by asteroid or some other big freakin' thing dropped on their heads. What remains is a crescent-shaped chain of islands, of which Magyaru is the largest. Presumably, this setting could be used for a dungeon-crawl kind of adventure. My approach was to use some of the maps from the very excellent Castle of the Mad Archmage.

As the party made its way up the "mountain" it had two major encounters, and a minor one. The first encounter happened when the party encountered a river it had to ford. This leads me to comment on the approach of one of the players in this game. This guy played Vincent Clemens, the hardcore Guardsman. Let's just say that his notion of encumbrance was a bit different than mine. He figured that he could carry every weapon he could use by his training. This, through the steaming jungle, uphill. I called bullshit on that, and made him buy a cargo servitor to carry them. This ended up having hilarious results. The party felled a tree to span the water, and discovered that there was a dangerous critter in the shallows, the Water Whip (I will post its description in the next entry). After dispatching it with a few well-placed grenades, the party attempted to ford the water by crossing their bridge. The servitor failed an agility check... and fell in, sinking to the bottom of the water. Using his enhanced respiratory system, the tech priest was able to go underwater to recover some of the weapons load it was carrying, but not all. 

The noise from the encounter with the Water Whips attracted a band of primitive orcs. The PCs rolled over them. It was silly, frankly, and demonstrated one of the features of the armor system in Dark Heresy to a freakin' T. Primitive weapons are all but useless against high tech armor, which counts as having double the normal armor points when primitive weapons are used. So, primitive orcs = primitive weapons = the PCs not taking any damage and the orcs getting slaughtered. It was disheartening, frankly, because at this point I really wanted to create a bigger challenge. That would come in the third encounter.

The third encounter was with a Razor Beast, which I've already described in an earlier post. Just for reference, though, think of this critter as something like a mantis crossed with a flea crossed with a lizard, but the size of a bull elephant. The PCs heard a series of crashing sounds in the distance, wood cracking and whatnot, and then the thing dropped from the sky and into their midst. In short order it had taken out their Guide/Pilot. If they want off of this rock, someone in the party will need to drive. After that, though, they were able to dispatch the creature relatively easily. I'd really thought they'd be tested more, but, alas, no.

A bit more trudging would eventually bring them to their destination: The Black Temple.

The Black Temple is a series of ancient ruins. Its main entrance is a huge complex, deep in the jungle of Magyaru. It stands athwart two small rivers, which issue from beneath it. The entrance-proper is at the bottom of the complex, on the downhill side (NE).
 Its design is blocky and crude, but the stone is decorated intricately with mosaics and patterned designs. Looking too closely at these can make a person feel ill, disoriented, nauseous, and anxious, much like a severe panic attack.
 Inside are a variety of tunnels and rooms, seeming to stretch endlessly. There is an odd smell, faint but acrid. 

And that is where we ended the session.

Next up, they PCs enter the Black Temple.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Creature Feature: Razor Beast of Magyaru

This is one of the best monsters I created for the Von Furstenberg Schism adventure. It didn't manage to take out any of the PCs, but that's because I cannot seem to roll very well. The PCs, on the other hand, managed to make their rolls with surprising regularity, and one of the acolytes (Ianescu the Tech Priest), managed to kill one of these with just one blow of his Power Scythe (45 points damage total--2d10+9 with two Righteous Fury on 10 damage).

Creature Name:               Razor Beast       
Habitat:               Jungle                  
Ecological Niche (Carnivore)
Schtick: A giant bug/lizard thing with four arms, the top two ending in a mantis-like claw. The bottom two are manipulators with three digits and a thumb-like claw.  It's just a big, ugly, tough sonofabitch.                                                                                                                                                                                 

70 (14)
20 (4)

Movement: 9/18/27/54                                                                                                                                
Wounds: 40 (Young 15)
Skills: Awareness (Per); Concealment (Ag).
Talents: Fearless, Heightened Senses (Smell).


·  Bestial (No need to make Survival Tests in natural habitat, Test Willpower to avoid flight.)
Brutal Charge (+3 Damage on a Charge.)
Multiple Arms (Gains extra attack with Multiple Attack Action, +10 Toughness, +10 to Strength Tests involving movement.)
Natural Armor 4 (2)
Natural Weapons (Bite (mature only), Claws)
Hexaped (Movement equals 3x Agility Bonus.)
Sturdy (+20 bonus to resist Grapple and Takedown.),
Unnatural Strength (×2),
Unnatural Toughness (×2),
Size (Enormous-- to hit modifier +20 /Concealment –20 / Movement AB+2).
Huge Jaws: Bite deals 1d10+SB+2 R Damage that has the Tearing quality. Its bite attacks cannot be Parried. 

Armor: None (Head 4, Body 4, Legs 4(2)). Manipulator arms have Armor 2.

·         Bite (1d10+14 R; Primitive, Tearing)—Mature only
·         Claw (1d10+12 R, Primitive, Tearing) (mature) / (1d10 R, Primitive, Tearing) (young)
·         Leaping Attack with Claws (1d10+18; Primitive, Tearing) (mature) /(1d10+2; Primitive, Tearing) (young)
(With leaping attack, uses two claws; will not use this attack when within 5 meters of a target.)

The Von Fürstenberg Schism, pt. 3: Session 2 Recap

Session 2: Into the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle

PCs need to investigate. After having some great ideas about how to investigate the whereabouts of Lys von Furstenberg, the acolytes were successful in turning up information about transportation providers. They found that a group led by an off-world woman sought transport to The Furies, a ring of islands 20,000 km west of Tovograd.

Further investigation successes turned up the following:

1.      The party left four days ago. It consisted of a woman, accompanied by one man. She seemed to be in charge. They were accompanied by an entourage of mercenary guards, servants, and servitors.
2.      The party was supposedly going to the islands for trophy hunting. The Furies are rocky islands (dark, basaltic stone), formerly volcanic, and are known for a variety of beautiful, odd, and dangerous species of animals and plants.
3.      It's possible that there are primitive orc tribes in The Furies.
4.      There are rumors of ancient ruins to be found there.

The Facts on the Ground
1.      Lys von Furstenberg, accompanied by Davos, has gone to The Furies.
2.      Some of the rumors are true.
3.      They are accompanied by about two dozen support personnel, guards, and servitors.
4.      There are dangerous critters on that island, but the party is not hunting them.
5.      There are orcs on The Furies. They are primitive and use primitive weapons, including poisoned weapons of various types.
6.      There are ancient ruins, there. They seem to belong to some long-lost civilization, and are on a scale so large as to be inhuman.
7.      They are dark stone, cyclopean, and sprawl across (through, and under) the island chain. They are, basically a mega-dungeon/temple complex. The major "temple" is deep in the interior or Magyaru, the largest of The Furies.
8.      Lys V-F has gone there to hide out and to continue her studies into the dark art of necromancy. The Old Ones are rumored to have developed the Dark Arts to an extent that beggars belief. She hopes to learn at the feet (tentacles?) of these dark masters.

In any event, the acolytes visited a bar in Tovograd, one with a reputation for being frequented by pilots. They found a pilot/guide who agreed to take them to Magyaru, but only after they threatened him with the wrath of the Inquistion should he fail to do so. They took off later that night, and landed just before dawn on the east coast of Magyaru. 

At this point, the party consisted of: 

Vincent Clemens: Big brick of a guardsman, and his faithful cargo servitor (who carries all of his many weapons).
Jeromy: Guardsman (substitute PC for Mark, who failed to show for the game)
Ferrus D'Angelus: Adept (Rhonda)
Alistair: Arbitrator (Kevin)
Castus: Imperial Psyker (John)
Ianescu: Tech Priest (Jason)

They were accompanied by their guide. 

From where they set down on the coast, the temple complex's nearest entrance is 140 km inland from the northeast corner of Magyaru. On foot, it's about a week's journey. The land ascends toward the center of the island. The island is actually part of the eroding wall of a massive crater. It appears to be volcanic in origin, but may, instead, have come from a cataclysmic meteor strike, millions of years in the past.

As they approach, they see a prominence in the distance, which looks like a mountain peak. However, they soon will find that, "That's no mountain. It's a building. A really, really big building, one made for really, really big… things. Whatever they are, it ain't people."

That's where we ended things. Next time, the party makes its way through the jungle, fighting feral orcs and other terrifying creatures native to Magyaru. These creatures are a large part of the reason it's developing a reputation among beast traders.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Von Fürstenberg Schism, pt. 2: Session 1 Recap

When last we left off, the acolytes had made their way from Belani III to Trotsky V, a jungle planet. They were attempting to track the elusive Lys von Furstenberg after killing her father and his various minions, and exposing his connection to the fiendish Ars Mortalitas cult. They also have discovered that there is a new kind of sorcery in the world, or perhaps an old one: Arcane magic.

In additional the party had received a message from Her Grace Duchess Dorothea Senjak, Ferrus D'Angelus former inquisitor, from back before he was "fixed." Just as a bit of background, Ferrus had gotten a buttload of insanity from various encounters with fearful things. I allow him to do a version of therapy, where he was able to spend XP in order to reduce the amount of insanity points he'd accrued. After that, he left the service of Lady Senjak, and entered the service of a Radical Inquistor: Steffi Krueger. Despite his reconditioning, Ferrus was still on a dark path, and Krueger was just the sort of lady to encourage him to continue along it.

Session 1 Recap:
When the acolytes arrived at the spaceport, they were greeted by Senjak. Jason's character, a scum, appears to have been her informant in Krueger's organization. He told her all that he could, took her silver, and left the party. An old friend, Jason's tech priest, returned. While Senjak was talking with the acolytes, Steffi Krueger arrived with a heavy bodyguard of scum. Senjak, her old mentor and now rival, called her bluff and told her to back off. She more or less told Krueger she would no longer tolerate her heresies, and that she'd spent too much effort on Ferrus to let her ruin him again. Krueger, cowed the Her Grace's threats (and well-armed retinue), left, vowing revenge. Ferrus D'Angelus tried to leave with Krueger, but was restrained and sedated. She left without a backward glance.

Senjak brought the acolytes back to the flat in which she was staying, and read the acolytes into the program, and introduced them to her resident expert on the topic. It seems that Senjak was well aware of the sorcerers, and had begun to assemble a team to root them out. She also is very interested in taking out Steffi Krueger, her rival, for a variety of reasons, some of them personal. However, her initial aim is to run Lys von Furstenberg to ground, and use her to get to the heart of matters. She also might implicate Krueger in some way, and provide leverage to take her down once and for all.

I had planned to end it here, but improvised an investigation on a jungle-planet, Trotsky V. The planet is Earth-normal, but on the hot and humid side. It consists of two large continents and a host of small island chains. There is only one city, Tovograd. This is more or less a port city, and most of the inhabitants are involved in that in various ways. It's not a company town, necessarily, but it's difficult to live well without knowing someone who can get you "in" with an employer. There are a lot of indentured workers, a middle class built around entrepreurial pursuits (beast trade is one, but criminal underground and "entertainment" trades are prominent). It's very frontier-ish in a lot of ways, but with the robber barons already starting to take their places. The main industry is kelp farming, and development of other biotic commodities including medicinal plants, exotic woods, and a burgeoning beast trade. There is also a Cold Trade, but that's not really known to the authorities at this point. There was a large orc civilization here at one time. There are still occasional pockets of feral orcs to be found in various places. They are primitive for their type, and do not have any advanced arms or armor.

The acolytes, after a bit of investigation, were able to track down a shipping container, supposedly full of grain, which was, most likely, how Lys V-F got onto the planet. She must have confederates. The acolytes went to a seemingly abandoned warehouse, and found the container. It was empty except for a cryostasis module, rigged with an explosive device. The acolytes escaped before the device went off, but one of them (John) ended up with a door up his ass (hit with debris for significant damage).

Some investigation turned up an address for the shipper that handled the container. It was a front company in a shell scheme. Eventually they found the parent company, and were able to enter its compound. On questioning its CEO, they found that his personal assistant was a tool of Lys V-F. He also is missing. The acolytes searched for him, but he is MIA.

That's where we ended the session.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Von Fürstenberg Schism, pt. 1: Introduction


This adventure arc continues what we started when we met the von Fürstenbergs and became acquainted with their sick weirdness (the Ars Mortalitas group), sorcerous heresies (the reemergence of Arcane sorcery) and daemon-wrangling.

The acolytes have returned from their adventure on Belani III. The destroyed the sorcerer, Frederick von Furstenberg, but his daughter, Lys, escaped. Her whereabouts are unknown. Andreius Arildsen is horribly, horribly dead, as well. They failed to save him.

Werner Gunthrop's other daughter died in the fire of Schloss von Fürstenberg. The PCs didn't tell him this. They just left.

They have made a contact on Belani III, Korg De Vine. DeVine is a criminal underground figure, and a fixer of no mean skill. He works the bar at Fruit of DeVine in Belani Hive City.

At the beginning of this campaign, the PCs are en route to Scintilla for debriefing by their inquisitrix, Steffi Krueger. They have also returned with artifacts, including several books of arcane knowledge.

Before arriving, the acolytes receive a summons from their former Inquisitrix, Dorothea Senjak. She bids them attend her, post-haste, and not to tell a soul about it.

The text:


CLEARANCE: Crimson (Eyes Only-Read and Destroy)
ENCRYPTION: Cryptax v.3.44
DATE: 0.237.511.M41
AUTHOR:Inquisitrix Her Grace Duchess Dorothea Senjak, Ordo Hereticus
SUBJECT: Summons for Debriefing
RECIPIENTS: 19XX830K; 21YE343L; 41HF774G; 91RT176P; 92GS663B; 55GS544A


DESTROY THIS MESSAGE AFTER READING.MAKE NO COPIES. Do not discuss this summons with anyone, including your mistress, The Inquisitrix steffi Krueger, or other members of the ordos, or any other person. Do not make any stops prior to honoring this summons, and do not delay in honoring it, on pain of my wrath.




Senjak's Role
  1. Dorothea Senjak has been watching Krueger.
  2. They receive this invitation before they have a chance to debrief with Steffi Krueger.
  3. Senjak will attempt to suborn the PCs, getting them to betray their own Inquisitrix, and to come over to her side. She sincerely believes that they are being fooled by Krueger, and that they could be reclaimed by a more pious Inquistor (like her, natch). She is, in fact, correct. Krueger has embraced the dark arts of sorcery, and plans to claim as much power as she can. 
  4. She will prosecute those who choose to stand with Krueger, and destroy them if she must. She is particularly concerned about Ferrus D'Angelus. These worries prompt her to meet the acolytes at their ship's berth.
  5. Senjak's motivations are as follows:

a.      She has learned of the reemergence of arcane sorcery in the Imperium, and sees it as a grave threat to the stability of the realm.
b.      She strongly suspects that Krueger knew what Andreius Arildsen was going to find on Belani III, and sent the acolytes to capture von Furstenberg and exploit his knowledge of matters arcane.
c.       She sees herself as an avenging angel of the Emperor, and sincerely wants to preserve the acolytes before they are corrupted by the influence of their shady Inquistrix.
d.     She hates Krueger and wants to see her purged as a heretic. She strongly suspects that Krueger, who has been on the fringes of Senjak's investigation into sorcery, has finally gone too far, and embraced sorcery. This is true.

Inquisitrix Steffi has a stronghold in one of the up-hive towers. It consists of the top three floors of one of the sub-spires of that tower. It is accessible by air and from below. However, it is well-defended by both household troops and servitors, with external turrets.

How this unfolds

The acolytes are met at the orbital platform by Dorothea Senjak, who plans to take them to a secret location before Krueger can subvert them and/or claim whatever dark materials they might be bringing her.

She is backed by two members of her coterie (Jason's Tech Priest and Rey Ajoku, a psyker), as well as some of her personal guard (8 total guardsmen: A lieutenant, a sergeant, and six armsmen. They are not pushovers.).

Senjak greets them, and asks them politely (but firmly) to accompany her. If any of the acolytes feel like resisting, the guardsmen seem ready to back up her "request." Her acolytes will also do what they can to help.

Steffi Krueger, who is fairly paranoid, arrives just a few minutes after Senjak. She has been tipped off by someone about what has happened.

Krueger is accompanied by several gangers, including two of her lieutenants.


So that's how I set it up for the first session. This one looks like it'll be lots of fun. I'm hoping the divided loyalties of the acolytes will be easy to exploit. Ferrus D'Angelus should serve as the lynchpin in this first little bit of the scenario.

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!