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They are a good bunch of roleplayers but as will quickly become apparent they have no tactical awareness whatsoever.
Soul's Calling RPG, Home Campaign: Gypsies & Witch-Hunters - Session 6
The scenario:- the party, having earlier in the session spent a lot of time interacting with the dubious magical alchemist Herbryt, are now returning to a particular locale with, in effect, a high-born captive from that area, when off in the distance they hear sounds of people calling out. The PCs are:- a scout; the scout's brother (a warrior); a cultist; the lead warrior (who is also the cultist's sister).
The PC-scout goes off to investigate, but his PC brother decides to yell after him a few minutes later, thus completely scuppering any possibility of the scout doing his job as intended. The scout has meanwhile ascertained that a search party is out looking for the captive. The scout returns to the party. The party hide in the snow-covered bushes. The scout's brother is struggling to keep the captive quiet (through physical force).
The search party draws closer. The PC scout hands himself over to the search party (a mounted knight, five guards and a mounted non-combatant). The guards manacle and shackle the scout and one of them stands guard over him, while another guards the mounted non-combatant. The scout's PC brother successfully knocks out the PCs' captive without being noticed by the guards (two lucky rolls!). Three guards begin prodding the bushes with spears (the snow makes the footprints discernible).
As the guards draw closer, the PC cultist breaks cover and runs into the woods. One of the guards chases after him. The mounted knight begins to pursue him too (but from further away).
The lead PC warrior (in fact the cultist's PC sister), who could have acted at this point, instead decides to stay hidden.
Then the scout's PC brother shoots one of the guards with his crossbow from point-blank range from within the snow-covered bush. That would be fine, except that he is now in melee with one injured guard facing him (not dead - he's in armour and rolled well), a knight behind him wheeling his horse round as he hears the guard cry out in pain, and two other guards bearing down on him as he is now the only visible threat.
One of those guards discovers the prone, unconscious captive and tries to rescue him. Finally the PC lead warrior decides to intervene, grabbing the captive off the guard then turning around and running away with the captive in her arms and her back to the guard who promptly thrusts his spear through her unarmoured back permanently puncturing and collapsing her left lung.
Facing an injured guard and a mounted knight at the same time, the scout's PC brother kills the knight's horse, gaining time (as it initially traps the knight, injuring him), and finishes off the injured guard, then tries to go after the guard pursuing the fleeing lead warrior but is attacked by the knight (now on foot), and the knight chops the scout's PC brother's left hand off.
Meanwhile the scout, having grappled the guard who was guarding him, and headbutted him unconscious, has made his way over to the non-combatant and her remaining guard while still shackled and manacled, and the guard promptly thrusts his spear into the scout's right arm, damaging the tendons badly enough that the arm is semi-permanently weakened.
The lead warrior PC is not willing to kill the guard who is pursuing her (she's a pacifist...) but instead knocks him onto the ground and still seems intent on fleeing with the captive, which seems a sure fire way of getting killed. Fortunately the PC cultist, having slain the guard who was pursuing him, returns just in time to kill the guard who punctured the lead warrior PC's lung.
The fight ends with the knight and one of the guards unconscious, the non-combatant injured and manacled, the remaining four guards and the two horses slain, and as for the PCs:-
* the scout is gravely injured and has a semi-permanently weakened right arm (tendon damage);
* the lead warrior is terribly injured and has a permanently punctured/collapsed left lung;
* the scout's brother (a warrior) is gravely injured and is missing his left hand;
* the cultist (who ran away) is sitting pretty as his pre-existing minor injury only needs 9 days of rest to heal and his spiritual fatigue will be gone in a mere 4 days.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when a plan doesn't come together.
This was a fight the party should have won with probably no real problems just by engaging the enemy aggressively, targeting their attacks well, standing together and working as a team. Instead, they ended up with overall probably the most catastrophic set of injuries I have seen with this system, partly due to such brilliant tactics as engaging the enemy by presenting your back to them at melee range and running away while carrying an unconscious captive, handing yourself in to the enemy at the start of the fight presumably with the intention of using their own manacles against them and running away to leave your comrades to fight without you (which might even have worked as a distraction if one of the party hadn't then shot a crossbow from point-blank range). Even the PC who had the best start to the fight started by using a crossbow from within a few yards of more than one enemy thus risking having to defend himself from melee attacks while effectively unarmed.
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!!!
See the bold-formatted text above for things that went particularly wrong for the party (especially their disastrous choices). Though I think they enjoyed themselves.
- Thanks: 182 given/230 received
In Soul's Calling, if you're rolling for an attack against a player character or major NPC, you typically roll two 12-side dice for your attack, and your opponent does the same to represent their chance of surviving the attack. If you get two natural 12s and they don't, that's an automatic Perfect success for you, which normally means an outright kill.
Now this vampire had typical vampire-stats as per the Core Guide, including a Melee Attack score of 20 and a Basic Defence score of 24. The party's best warrior has Melee Attack 14 and Basic Defence 14. This is a d12+stat v d12+stat system, so you can appreciate that a stat difference of 6 to 10 points compared to the best warrior makes things tough for the party. The vampire also acts about twice as often in strictly timed combat as a basic PC (three times as often as an average human).
This vampire probably assumed that the party were not quite as competent as they in fact were. She was not wearing any armour. In fact, she turned up holding a cup, with her knife in her belt. So the vampire effectively started the combat with her unmodified Basic Defence standing at 24, whilst the party's best warrior, in winter clothing with a battle axe, had modified Melee Attack of 22 and Basic Defence of 17, giving the party something of a chance.
When it became evident that dialogue was not going to lead to a peaceful resolution of the situation, given that one of the party had cast a spell that made him magically berserk in the presence of undead, dice were rolled for initiative. With party-members reaching for weapons, the arrogant vampire's first action was to drink the cup of blood she was holding (it was her own blood which she had offered to a party-member and had no great benefit to the vampire but she didn't want it to go to waste). Simultaneously the best warrior in the party, going toe-to-toe against the vampire, rolled pretty well, and managed to inflict a minor injury, spilling some of the blood as the vampire downed it.
This got the vampire rather upset, so for her next action she drew her knife, giving her modified Melee Attack 23 and Basic Defence 25 including the -1 penalty for a minor injury.
The magically berserk party member, having just drawn his weapons, then got to attack the vampire. "Small beans," I thought, as did the vampire; this party-member had a less formidable frame than the best warrior, and modified Melee Attack of only 17-and-a-half (yes, half!) (and Basic Defence of 16 because of armour), including modifiers for magical berserk rage. So the chance of the party-member injuring the vampire at all was really very low.
And then the player rolled a natural double 12!
Now of course that didn't destroy the vampire (there was no effort at staking or decapitating the vampire specifically), but it reduced her to a bloody regenerating mess on the floor while the party member continued to be magically berserk, until they figured out that maybe they ought to cut the grotesque unliving creature's head off.
Without the "natural double 12" rule (but just comparing stat + 12 versus the vampire's stat), it would only have been a grave injury, which means a non-cumulative -2 stat penalty, and (for a vampire) probably a slightly better than 50:50 chance of some semi-permanent injury such as a severed hand. Worse, the vampire would have been able to attack immediately afterwards, and could well have killed a player character in one blow.
After the game I awarded Advancement Points including, for those 4 PCs, the maximum for danger (12 specifically for danger levels because the session only lasted for 1 hour 50 minutes or so, due to our having eaten a meal before we started, and the party have a one-third deduction on APs earnt due to being veteran adventurers with over 400 APs). The criterion for that is that each PC who received that award was, at the start of the session, almost certain to be in combat likely to result in his/her death. Frickin' double 12!!
This isn't the first time I've seen a party saved from a possible TPK by a natural double 12 (or strictly a quasi-TPK this time around:- two of the PCs were absent, and the vampire would definitely have let one of the absent PCs live). The previous time I remember was with four different players, in a different campaign, where they missed all my clues to draw a protective circle of salt, and an abominable sea creature was just about to tear them apart, when one of them got in a crossbow shot and a natural double 12.
This kind of thing certainly adds to the excitement of the game!
- Thanks: 182 given/230 received
Last Wednesday was the final instalment of a 22-session (or so) Soul's Calling campaign I ran with an a-ref.
In the end two members of the six-member party ended up morally incompatible with three of the others, and one member of the party, possibly two, did not share the majority of the group's immediate major goal. The party was fractured into three factions who were not going to be staying together, and in the circumstances, continuing was impossible.
It was (mostly) very good while it lasted, and I hope to start a new campaign soon, though we've shed two members already (including the a-ref) and of the remaining players one at least may have to drop out in the Autumn. At the same time we may get a new occasional player - depending.
- Thanks: 182 given/230 received
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