Campaign 2: Session 2, the other club member

The write-up on this session is a week late, so likely to be a bit briefer than usual. The purpose of the session was ‘to have an adventure’ and get everyone into the swing of things. I also wanted to showcase some of the elements of magic in the world, as the group includes three magic using characters.

The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun (William Blake, 1805-10)

First though, I had to process the players’ downtime actions.

The Protagonists had been given a bunch of tasks by the Inferno club when they arrived in Strelsau. They were to keep Ruritania out of the current military conflict, they were to rig an auction of mining rights in favour of Mathen Mining and Minerals, and they were to ensure a proposed railway line went to Prague rather than Warsaw. The party focused their attention on the issue of neutrality, giving speeches, talking up the folly of war and generally doing their best to keep Ruritania out of conflict.

Adjudicating this stuff was pretty basic, but I think the system I’d come up with for ‘how a country works’ was in itself a bit too complicated. I’ve now drafted a simpler version and will shift the campaign over to it.

Reputations

Some of the players chose downtime actions that were intended to boost their profile in various parts of Ruritania. When these succeeded, the obvious thing to do was to assign them an appropriate reputation to reflect this. But… reputations can also be bought with experience points, while acquiring them through activity might be much more efficient. One option is to say that reputations can’t be bought with experience, and have to be acquired through activity in game. Another is to let both happen. Thought required.

I’ve also been contemplating limiting the number of different Reputations you can have to your influence quality. If you let people acquire reputations for stuff they do, you might want an upper limit on how many they can have.

And I’ve been thinking about adding some classifications to Reputations to reflect which sphere they belong to. Basically because the person with the highest appropriate reputation in a country should gain some influence. e.g. the person with the highest martial reputation is ‘The defender of the realm’, and so on. This is mostly relevant for the projected *really big game* with dozens of players who can argue over these kinds of titles.

But – in a small tabletop game achieving such a title could be a major milestone. The point at which your protagonist is acknowledged as the greatest scientist in all of France could be pretty cool.

Prestige

This is working now. Adding the criteria for earning prestige (per house) to different character sheets makes it easier to administer, and now I’ve got written lists of what is revealed to players at each security clearance that’s easy to do to. Sometimes this results in players being told things they might have already learned, or guessed in play, sometimes it provides them with important clues, and sometimes it makes them aware of bits of the world they haven’t seen yet. Mostly though it provides players with some more information about their House that they can lean into during play.

I do need to clear up the link between Prestige and security clearance though. In short, as your Prestige increases, so does your security clearance. It’s that simple. But without a clear explanation, this is hidden from the players.

The adventure

The game opened with Benson letting the Protagonists know that there was another member of the Inferno club in Ruritania. The Count Montcriffe, a senior member of House Scorpio was living in the countryside, having been chased from his home in Saxony during the recent uprising by a mob with torches and pitchforks. The Count had not been heard from for some time, could the party check in on him?

Part of the goal for this session was to let the Protagonists discover just how odd some magic users are. They arrived to find the Count’s home was empty, although there were signs of a struggle. There was a temple in the basement, devoted to something carnivourous and unpleasant. There were lots of books. There was a ghost on the staircase, but only one of the Protagonists could see it.

The ghost was that of the Count Montcriffe. He didn’t know what had happened to him, but he wasn’t going to let it stop him. Could the Protagonists please get on with things and put him into a suitable body as soon as possible? The Protagonists were skeptical about this. It seemed the Count had summoned the carnivorous and unpleasant thing in the basement and commanded it to murder his enemies. They didn’t approve.

The Count argued that since he’d died the carnivourous and unpleasant thing wasn’t under anyone’s control anymore. Yes it had killed his enemies, as instructed, but any time now it was going to start killing anyone it felt like, and only he could stop it. The protagonists weren’t sure if this was true, but decided to try necromancy.

Which worked! And so one of the players got to play the Count for the remainder of the session as the party set about hunting down the escaped entity.

Aftermath

Perhaps the best bit about the adventure was the amount of in character angst and concern it provoked. Is it typical for members of House Scorpio to go around murdering people who disagree with them? Is raising the dead OK? Where does the Inferno club stand on all of this? Just what have we got ourselves in to?

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