Saturday, May 28, 2016

Long Night at Blackthorn - a Barbarians of Lemuria Adventure

I've just finished work on a new Barbarians of Lemuria adventure - this one using the Mythic Edition rules which I treated myself to recently - Long Night at Blackthorn.  A stopover at a remote inn proves to be filled with trouble as other patrons and their agendas all clash on a night when dark forces are let loose.

The adventure itself is adapted from one I've previously run for Fate Core and which I think fits with the darker side of the Sword and Sorcery Genre

While light of mass combat and mayhem this scenario works best as a single night adventure perhaps as a break in an already ongoing journey though, as usual, I've left a few exit points in the storyline that could lead to further adventures.

I'd be glad to know what you think of it, and if you've managed to get any use from it.

Download HERE

Monday, May 23, 2016

Party Time #fatecore

Yesterday's session of the Sundered Seven fantasy campaign took place entirely within one room (with a short side trip to a wine cellar), lacked combat, treasure or magic and was still one of the most intense sessions of any roleplaying game I've played.

Our heroes Lord Adriel and his faithful servant Inye had arrived in Hrafburg, capital city of Malmor, to seek an audience with the ruler of the city.  He had reacted in his usual arrogant way (the man has royal pretensions) and told them he would send for them when ready and so Adriel was forced to kill time in the city until then.

We opened at the lavish party being held by Lord Hazreth a newly arrived nobleman who enjoyed offering hospitality.    All the haute monde were there and there was an atmosphere of casual decadence.   Adriel was enjoying the company of two of the eligible ladies of the court (one of whom turned out to be the ruler's mistress... so that wasn't a source of tension... really)

But things really cranked up when I introduced the young lord Teltandin, a contemporary of Adriel.  He hadn't featured in the campaign before but I had him earmarked as a rival for Adriel so I threw the details over to the players with a couple of questions:

What did Teltandin do to humiliate Adriel when they were children?
What did Adriel do to Teltandin when they were young men?

We learned that Teltandin had been sparring with Adriel when they were about eight years old... and though it was a "friendly" bout organised by their parents - rulers of rival houses - Teltandin took it very seriously and used some dirty tricks to win.  Adriel's father shook his head and walked away in disappointment (a nice trigger of Adriel's current need to win his father's approval).

In return a few years later Adriel deliberately spooked Teltandin's horse causing it to bolt and humiliate the young man in front of his friends and family.

That set the next scene up nicely as the two rival lords and the two ladies decided to play a harmless game of Hopestones for pennies.   For pennies, sure.   No high stakes.

Things escalated of course and it ended up as a duel of gambling between the two men with a lot riding on it.   Social skills were unleased to gain advantages for upcoming rolls, psychological games were being played by everyone at the table.   Faithful Inye saw Teltandin palm a high value tile for future use and managed to tip his employer off.     That was dealt with by Adriel tipping some tiles accidentally onto the floor between rounds and saying "we'd better count them to make sure none are lost"... forcing Teltandin to sneak back the palmed tile.

The final round played out as an extended contest and Adriel won resoundingly winning the approval of the onlookers and earning more hatred from Teltandin.   It was an intense scene with never a blade drawn.

Meanwhile Inye had been using his servant's inconsequentiality and observation skills to move among the partygoers trying to learn what he could.   I'd set a value for the scene as a whole to have a "Discretion 1" rating - people were drunk and their guards were down so Inye could overhear conversations.    I had him make a Notice roll which he succeeded at very well and so I took inspiration from Dungeon World and said for every point he succeeded by he could ask me one question about the city and its rulers that I would answer honestly.    As a mechanic that worked really well and allowed me to convey the information that was important to the players without some contrived info-dump.    As a result Inye learned of the two rival factions at court (the Count's wife favouring a diplomatic conquest of nearby lands, and his son leading a more military faction), what the Count's priorities are (he really really wants to be King) and some of the major players.

We all enjoyed the experience a great deal - and Fate lends itself well to making up mechanics on the fly.   The gambling "rules" were freeform allowing an intense round by round duel of wits and influence that simply comparing rolls would not have allowed, and the way we resolved Inye's information gathering was elegant and will certainly be used again.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Be Prepared. #nightsblackagents

This very practical travel kit for the aspiring vampire hunter went on sale in North Yorkshire in 2012 and raised £7500 at auction.

It was put together in the 19th century and contained all the stuff you'd expect:

A crucifix

Stakes and a mallet
A Pistol
Glass bottle of Holy Water, another of consecrated earth, another of garlic paste
The Book of Common Prayer
A handwritten Bible verse (Luke 19:27  "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.")

It was left to a Yorkshire woman in her uncle's will and apparently dates from the late 1800s.   The auction house, Tennants of Leyburn, North Yorkshire,  commented it was probably a novelty item put together to capitalise on the property of Bram Stoker's Dracula.  A likely story.

Bidding was apparently fierce with half a dozen telephone bidders involved in the auction and it went for about four times the price expected.

It's current owner and location are as yet not known.    Except, I expect, to one or two currently extinct vampires.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Night At The Theatre - #nightsblackagents

In the next session my players have suggested their characters are following up a lead they got from a crumpled programme in the pocket of a dead man, and they're going to the theatre that the programme was advertising.

What could possibly go wrong?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Outcast Dead - #nightsblackagents

The agents in my Night’s Black Agents campaign are following a number of leads in London, and one of the cases involved the discovery of (and subsequent disappearance of) a victim’s body in a street in Southwark.   I chose Southwark because it’s an area with a history of poverty and people on the fringes, such as mudlarks and toshers dating back a couple of hundred years.    I was also aware that it was the home to a large number of prostitutes in the past, licensed by the Bishop of Winchester and hence known as Winchester Geese.   When I googled the term to add some colour to this quaint bit of background I discovered that Southwark was also home to the Cross Bones unconsecrated graveyard, the site of which now bears this delightful notice.

The Outcast Dead.

This stuff writes itself.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Red Shift: London - #nightsblackagents - Clue Summary

Just a short update this week - our valiant agents made it to London and made a brief and paranoid contact with a Scotland Yard detective named Templeton.   Templeton stumbled onto the shadowy world of vampires a few months ago with the (brief) discovery of the body of a young runaway... which body then vanished along with a quarter of an hour of memory.

In that brief interview with Rowan, Templeton provided a number of leads... as summarised below:

So far Rowan and Hans have just scratched the surface as shown above... I'm looking forward to seeing which direction they go in and how deep they can get.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Five Lights - An Adventure for Barbarians of Lemuria

I've recently become enchanted by the simplicity and clarity of Barbarians of Lemuria - a role playing game in the Sword & Sorcery genre.

To that end I present "Five Lights" an adventure in which our heroes are called upon to rescue a fair maiden, probably against her will, from a new religious movement.   All things are, as you would expect, not what they seem.

Image (c) Finn Cullen 2016

The pdf can be downloaded HERE, and feel free of course to tweak things as you wish to suit your play style and group.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Red Shift - Episode Six - Calais and Paris - #nightsblackagents Play Report

After Sunday’s action packed episode, last night’s visit to the bloody world of Night’s Black Agents was one of evasion and consolidation.   Having had to flee from a murder scene, Hans and Rowan dug in at their safe house and ran through what they’d learned.   The word “vampire” was used for the first time with the comment that “it’s crazy but it’s the best fitting theory so far”.

Rowan contacted their Control at RedShift via a text message to their handler GAUNTLET to let them know what had happened.

This was shortly followed by a protocol breaching phone-call in return:

“This is Gauntlet, this is Gauntlet.   You’re burned.   Don’t report in.  Don’t come in.  Go dark.”

Hot on the heels of that disquieting message came a text from RedShift from an unfamiliar codename, Firebird.

6676 Firebird.
Message Received. Fall back to rendezvous Alpha Six for debriefing. See you soon

After a moment’s silence the pair decided simultaneously.   No way were they going to report in now.   They moved out of their safehouse at once, stole a new car, invoked a pair of previously unused identities and headed out of town.  Once in Paris, Hans visited a storage unit he’d set up previously (thank you Preparedness/Cache rules) and emerged with a suitably improved vehicle and some helpful if as yet unspecified equipment in the trunk.   Rowan then set them up with a nice apartment overlooking the Opera.

Here they went through the papers they managed to remove from Masson’s house before they fled, and went through the unsent draft email folder in his email account.    The papers consisted of pages torn from a Bible with certain verses highlighted.    The blood is the life… over and over again…  references from Genesis to living forever if Adam and Eve had stretched out their hand to the fruit of the tree of life…  All very unsettling but nothing conclusive.    
But in the draft message in his gmail account there was a reference to a Scotland Yard detective named Templeton who appeared to know something of Masson’s obsessions.   Routing a call through several cut-outs, Rowan called through to Templeton who was shocked to hear of Masson’s death.   He wanted to arrange a meeting there and then opposite the Salvation Army headquarters in Oxford Street but Rowan had to tell him they weren’t in the country yet…

Next stop, back to Calais and a night time trip through the channel tunnel.   As their car was being loaded into place on Le Shuttle they recalled a comment from Masson’s email about running water stopping Them… but what about beneath?

And a few cars ahead a familiar white transit van with Star Logistics livery was being loaded onto the same train… the same van that had chilled the air around it earlier that day, and that probably contained the sinister Hungarian visitor they had seen at the trafficking drop-off.

Roll Credits. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Red Shift Episode 5 - Calais - #nightsblackagents Play Highlights

Last night started nice and easy with a quiet interview in Star Logistics with the secretary, a bored woman named Jeanne who was happy to chat with the potential client - Rowan with a fake identity - and let slip about the infrequent all-night shifts that the boss and his drivers pulled.   Rowan also got a chance to sneak a closer look at the transit van parked up with its rear doors against the building wall... and noticed just how cold the air was as she passed close to it, and found herself flashing back to the hallucinatory shower of blood she experienced in Casablanca.

After that they tracked the gangster Danglars to an abandoned construction site and exercised some bad ass infiltration skills to move through that place like ghosts.   In the climactic scene of the evening Rowan located some of the trafficking victims and began escorting them out while Hans confronted their captors.     The captors, as it turned out, were not what they seemed to be.

The first, Janos, when covered by Hans' pistol just smiled, leaped to the wall and then to the ceiling and raced on all fours across the ceiling to drop down on Hans.   Hans pulled off some incredible rolls here, first for Stability and then for Shooting and Janos ended up face up on the floor, seemingly dead, with half a dozen bullets in him.   Shortly afterward though he was found on his belly, several feet away, as though he'd been crawling from the place where he fell.

The second guard, Istvan, proved a tougher opponent and he and Hans tussled to say the least.   A couple of bare handed blows from the Hungarian left Hans reeling and battered, while a few bullets and then Hans' hold out knife into Istvan's neck finally dropped Istvan to his knees.  In game terms Istvan was way negative on Health but not by any significant source...   at least until Danglars and his mooks burst into the building to help out their allies, and flooded the corridor with sunlight.

Istvan's last word "Fu.." came a second before his body burst into flames heralding the first Vampire destruction of the campaign.

The last twist came later as the pair returned to their patron, Professor Masson, in his home.  It became clear that the aged academic knew more about what he was sending them into than he'd let on.    This wasn't just some concerned citizen with money to burn and a dislike of crime...   But before they could probe much further their world turned upside down.    The next moment they opened their eyes and found Masson dead, the room on fire, Hans pressing his gun into his own head and empty shell cases on the floor.  Masson had been shot and slashed with some cutting weapon.   Sirens were blaring, and a glance at the clock showed that an hour had passed.

The pair fled, not wanting to have to deal with official entanglement and as they made it to safety Rowan found a handwritten note on her, giving an email address and a password.

That's where the session officially ended, but my players knowing the way I work actually decided to log on in real life to the gmail address they'd just been given.   Nothing in the inbox... nothing in the sent items... but in the Drafts section they found this:

I will never send this email.   I fear that any mail sent can be intercepted, can be monitored, can be changed or eliminated.   But I hope that I have had time to pass the details for this account to you, whoever you are.   

If I have done so then I know my time is short, and I am likely to be already dead.  I regret much and no doubt have cause to.

I have discovered that there are few people I can trust.   The enemy is ancient and cunning and inhuman and they have ways to bring under their control any man or woman they choose. They are everywhere and they are always scheming against the living.

Here I will record my notes in brief, the greater part of them are safely hidden with a friend.

Wild roses
Allium sativum
The light of the sun scorches them

Blanchard is a link for them I think.  Unknowing?  Why would they trust him?   His vehicles are useful. Haulage company accounts - very profitable - front.


L. reported dreaming of a great cat searching prowling round house unable to get in.

Of the sources encountered only Donald Templeton of Scotland Yard seems credible.  Advice useful.   Warns of their presence in London.  Hawkins Theatre.

"Old Firm"??  Chapel boys.   European gangs cutting into old territory, drugs, extortion. - Templeton suspects They are assisting.

Violence in Paris, manhunts.  Cover up?   Was government looking for Them?   Paranoia.  Am seeing Them everywhere now.

Running water - cannot be crossed except at certain times.   Oceans?  Link to tides?   How about beneath?

King in Yellow - a conceit of Chambers, mere fiction.  Why would T ask?

More than one strain of them?   Templeton reports vary from those of Zagreb and own observations.   Bloodlines?   Degenerates?

Now they have directly encountered Vampires and can't really lie to themselves any more about what they are up against.    They are on the run for a number of reasons including probably being implicated in the death of Professor Masson, but at least they now have some cryptic leads in the form of Masson's last message.

I guess the prologue is over.   Time for the hunt to start.