Actual Play – Escaping the Three Squires (3/26/2014)

torchbearer-rpgGM: Sean Nittner
Players: Chris Moore, David Gallo, and Max Külshammer.
System: Torchbearer
Module: Under the House of the Three Squires

Back in the House!

Prologue: Milton recouted the events from last session: Death to Crooked Tooth!

While you were gone: Thrallson let us know that after the adrenalin of fighting kobolds, he froze up, in shock from all the carnage and wondering what he was doing.

Beliefs, Instincts, and Goals

Thrallson’s Goal: Changed from “The Kobolds will pay their debt in blood for every life they’ve taken” to “I will loot enough spoils to pay for my parents freedom.”

Torchbearing on Air

Torchbearing by Turn

Turn 27 – Thrallson hollered that the war band was charging in, and they have a fevered, panicked look to them. Milton got to prying away at the locks and lashes holding the cages together.  [Criminal Ob 2 (+1 From Exhaustion, +1 From Darkness). Success!] The people were freed! Miles and Milton grabbed the weapons from the fallen kobolds to arm the prisoners and face the war band.

Magic – Celestial Magic – As the kobolds charged though, Milton could tell they were more terrified than anything else, coming to Crooked tooth for protection… a giant spider was chasing them down. Milton tried to get their attention, something to rally them, but his voice was simply drowned out by their fervor. In desperation he pulled the scroll from his backpack and cast Celestial Music to amplify his voice, and the voice of his companions [Arcanist Ob 4. Success]. The bewitching sound forced the Kobolds to momentarily stop and listen. Both terrified and mesmerized.

Turn 28 – With the magic amplifying his voice and making it ring true to the Kobolds (who could not otherwise understand common) Thrallson stepped up in front of them and told them of great dwarven battles, rallying them to stand by the adventurers side and together, slay the spider that haunted them all!

Conditions Applied

Turn 29 – With a few of the prisoners armed, and a warband of kobolds filled with momentary courage, the adventurers plunged forward into battle with Uttan, intent on slaying the beast! They mobbed the beast and forced it to fight in the open. Together the defeated it, but not without suffering themselves. Two of the prisoners were and Thrallson were badly injured. An abdominal wound, a broken arm, and slash across the throat. [Injured]

Turn 30 – Once the commotion settled down, the heroes decided to reset before heading out of the dungeon. Milton set about securing a camp [Survivalist Ob 1 (+1 From Exhaustion, +1 from Dim Light). Success]. Milton used some cages to form a small blockade, protecting them from intruders. Safe camp!

Camp Phase

Instinct – Miles fashioned a eyes mask filled with lavender and other pleasant smelling herbs to aid in sleeping [Healer Ob 1 (+1 from Exhaustion). Success].

Check – Thrallson used the sleeping mask to try and rest and recover [Heath Ob 3. Success]. Thrallson was still injured but no longer exhausted.

Instint – Milton set about fixing is obviously inaccurate map. [Cartography Ob 3 (+1 from Exhaustion). Failure. Twist]. As he worked away, Milton’s ink was knocked off his knee and spilled all over the ground, preventing him from mapping any further!

Check – Miles bitched out his companions for dragging him down. If the wizard could draw a map, and if he dwarf could do any good dwarfing. [Will Ob 2. Success]. After a good bitching (and losing some good will from the prisoners that listened to him berating his companions).

Adventure Phase

The ground had a fierce shake, and everyone wanted to move! Agata (Ronwald’s wife) though wanted to find her husband. She began calling down the corridors for him.

Turn 1 – Milton tried to convince her to come with them, telling her that her husband Ronwald was killed and that she shouldn’t make his death meaningless. [Persuader vs Persuader test. Tie -> Tie Breaker roll Nature vs. Nature. Fail. Twist]. He tried to give her a hug to console her but she shoved him away and told him that she was going to go find her husband’s body to lay it to rest.

Turn 2 – Thrallson had enough of this. He grabbed Agata and threw her over his shoulder [Heath vs. Heath test. Success] Against her will, he carried her off.

Turn 3 – To see their way out Thrallson tried to scavenge together some torches from the wooden cages and the soiled rugs. [Survivalist Ob 2 (+1 from Dim light). Fail. Condition: Angry] He did it but the quality was crap, and having a woman beating on his chest didn’t help (should have been a factor Sean!). He did it, but he was angry about it!

Fast Traveling – The moved back to the Whipping Post and then continued down the only passage they hadn’t explored so far. After setting off an alarm (with no more kobolds let to alert) they made it back to the upper limestone cave and found the the way back to Ronwald’s cellar!

Hooray for the heroes!

Thoughts on the game

I think characters need to have some kind of shtick, or some very non-conventional belief they play up to get the embodiment reward. It just doesn’t come up as much as it does in Burning Wheel or Empires. Most of the time people are focused on dealing with the challenges at hand like a puzzle more than they think about their “character”.

David’s line at 2:05:14 “I’m going to try and tell this woman that her husband’s not dead when I know very well that he is, and she’s not going to believe me because I only have two dice, and I’m going to get angry again.” echoes a horrible fear I have running the game. That the mechanics will drive play (or in this case prevent play) instead of the fiction. It’s this wacky balance of wanting people to act based on what’s happening in the game, not on what they think will be mechanically advantageous, but the the game is constantly creating mechanical penalties for doing otherwise.

This was especially tough because I really wanted to give Miles the opportunity to take some action in the game (all the other adventure phases tests had been done by Thrallson or Milton this session) but he was too conditioned up to make it viable.

We completed The House Under The Squires. Huzzah for the big damn heroes!