Ravenholme – The adventures of Andrew and Lothar.

Ostrich-machine?

So life’s been a little busy, and I’ve fallen behind on writing up sessions. Two for the freebooters Sunday Sessions, and three to be written up for the OSE sessions in Helsinki (which I promise to get around to).

I’ve been really enjoying running these Sunday Sessions. A couple of people have had to drop out already, and the vagaries of life cause some people to miss, but there have been more players joining as well! So, its all good.
These last two sessions I’ve been really trying to keep the expedition within a single session, and its worked pretty well. Basically they have been “one-shots” with lingering threads that can be picked up for further adventures. And I am once again impressed with how PbtA combat can play out – it feels really cinematic and tense!

Without further ado – the adventures of Andrew and Lothar:

===Session 4===
Players
Andrew (fighter) Big hairy guy
Lothar (Magic-user) Scarred magical assassin

The crew had been celebrating and resting for about a week since they god back from the Swordfish Isle. Andrew found himself alone when he heard the rumours of a ship from the Redlands District had arrived – the dWARFs had come to Westport! The requests for hired guards had come soon after. Since Andrew couldn’t find the rest of the crew he interviewed a few of the recent arrivals, and was impresssed by one man from the eastern lands, a man who claimed to have worked with the Assassins of the Mountain.
The pair made their way down to the docks and introduced themselves to the dWARFs. Andrew, towering over many of the other applicants, caught the eye of the dWARF scholar Erasmus who hired Andrew and Lothar for his “scientific” expedition to the grasslands.

Andrew felt a little pressured by the responsibilities given to him – to find mounts and supplies for the expedition, and ensure their safety. Desperate to make a good impression (and save money) he left Westport and ventured into the Violet City proper looking for suppliers. After being nearly overwealmed by the confusing markets, Andrew was approached by a dangerous looking man who named himself Vijay Singh, a representative of the Turquoise Waters Benevolence Society. Upon being led to a seedy hall filled with other dark and dangerous folk, Andrew was shown a paddock of evil-tempered chimerical creatures – long legged, lumpy, with long necks and tails, with boar-like head and tusks. Singh offered a great price on the mounts and supplies for an expedition – but warned that only experienced riders should use the mounts (even though they could travel for a week on no food and only a cup of water!). Erasmus (and his bodyguard Zola) were impressed by the amazing deal and thanked Andrew for the introduction. The expedition was to start the next morning!

by Nathan Anderson

The trip out took three days – through the smaller towns and farmlands surrounding the City. The Yportyll were tireless mounts, but were very aggressive and scared many passing horses! Lothar proved his magical skills when they suddenly found themselves in a vast field of black flowers which turned out to be some kind of drug-plantation with angry guards! Lothar summoned slouds of smoke and cloaked their group in shadow so that they were able to flee unmolested.

Upon cresting the final hills and seeing the grasslands for the first time, all were awed. A veritable sea of tall grass stretching to the horizon. They setup camp and Erasmus went over his tools (lightbox, sample containers etc). Andrew noticed during his watch strange movements in the grasses, and come morning one of the mounts was missing. They carefully set out along the bloody path until the sounds of blades in flesh warned them of feeding creatures up ahead. Andrew took the lead and directed Lothar and Zola to make ready. There were two creatures (?) tearing up the remains of one of the mounts. They looked something like a heron or crane – long neck, long legs, but they stood nearly as tall as a man – with a metallic shell instead of feathers, and a single large glowing eye.

The fight was short and relatively bloodless. Andrew tried grappling one and was dragged off into the grass until he managed to stick a dagger into its eye and bring it down. Meanwhile Lothar summoned his “silent weapon” and sliced the second one’s neck as it charged him.

Erasmus was overjoyed. These creatures had mechanical pieces all over them. Their eyes were a marvel of lenses and shutters, their legs were made of metal shafts and wires. A strange combination of living andnon living parts. Lothar and Erasmus butchered one of the creatures and carried most of the parts back to camp. Lothar became slightly worried/curious upon seeing that the implants were “growing”, or at least moving towards living flesh. In discussions they theorised that there was something making these parts and implanting animals… Although Andrew thought that perhaps these things spread themselves.

The trip back was relatively safe. They took a wide route north to avoid the protected poppy-farms. When they found the main road again they noted (with some trepidation) the vast length of mausoleums that flanked the road north. That there were people living amongst these old structures just made the expedition move faster in their return to the Violet City.

Erasmus was very happy with the work of Andrew and Lothar. He paid them above standard wages for guard duty, and also gave them each one of the mounts they had purchased as thanks.

===Session 5===
Players
Andrew (fighter) Big hairy guy
Lothar (Magic-user) Scarred magical assassin
Richard (fighter) – joined late in the session

Andrew and Lothar were trying to spend a week relaxing after their successful expedition when they were interrupted by strange parades in the Violet City – groups of armed men carrying banners patrolling the streets… when different groups met they would fight with swords and clubs until one group surrendered. Both curious and worried the pair investigated. By the end of the day only a few groups were left, and they congregated in the Temple Square where eventually the last group surviving broke down into a skirmish amongst their own number, until a single man stood victorious. He was then taken into the Temple by the Magi. The crowd waited in the square (with food sellers and entertainers working the crowd) until the main emerged some hours later with a glowing tattoo across his pectoral. The crowd cheered.
After some questioning, the learnt that this happens after every full moon, and is a traditional contests held by the Fighting-Guilds. Andrew wants to find and join a guild before next full moon.

In the meantime they wanted to exploit their knowedge of the Black Poppy Plantation. They ask around until they are introduced to Silas – an Imperial nobleman who runs an expensive “house of leisure”. He proves quite knowledgeable about the local drug-trade, and says he’d be willing to purchase samples of Black-Poppy as it is controlled by the Magi of the Temple.

Using the provided information, Andrew and Lothar plan to ambush the couriers at the plantation. They ride back to the hills, and Lothar uses his magic to sneak into the plantation and identify the couriers and transport routes. The pair then setup their ambush.

They catch 4 riders and a pack-horse as they come over a hill. The Yportryll drive the horses mad and scatter the front riders, but the rear-guard begin to ready muskets! Andrew charges forward and manages to kill one guard, and eventually bring down the other with the help of a net and some fancy footwork (and strength!) Meanwhile Lothar had sliced one of the front-riders in half with his magic, and the second rider proved too stupid to live by taking the time to curse and insult Lothar for killing his brother…

They returned to the Violet city with 4 sacks of processed Black-Poppy paste. They met with Richard and considered what to do with their haul. They knew that the Temple would start to investigate when their shipment didn’t arrive, so wanted to be rid of the goods as quickly as possible.

Returning to Silas they hashed out a price for the drug, but absolutely shocked Silas when they revealed they had sacks of the drug (rather than the few doses he was expecting). After he expressed some panic at the threat of the Magi, the possibility of massive profits tempted him too much. He offered 200 coin for a sack, but eventually gave 400 coin and a month’s food & accomodation in his establishment for all 3 of them for 3 sacks. He took immediate possession and pushed the crew out the door.

The last sack they wanted to offer for sale to Tenpiece as thanks for his initial information. Richard was immediately nervous when he saw Tenpiece petting and feeding a cat. Richard tried to warn the others, but Lothar made his sales pitch to Tenpiece, oblivious to the cat listening intently to the proceedings. Tenpiece was surprised by the cat hissing and running away at the talk of the ambushed couriers. He also was surprised at the amount being sold, but took the sack for 100 coin, and made a run for the docks looking for a ship back to the capital.
===End Sessions===

I have to say, I am loving this game. The combats are amazingly fluid and dramatic – feeling like something out of an action movie instead of a game. Also there is an interesting tension among the players between wanting to roll badly to get more “checkmarks” to improve their stats, but also not wanting to roll at all to avoid the repercussions. This game really does encourage clever planning and trying to avoid overly risky situations!

If anyone feels like joining in, we’re always open to more Freebooters. (just click the link and join the discord!)

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