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[Sorcerer] Session Five (Bibliophage): Complex Conflict

Started by Doyce, May 22, 2004, 09:19:49 PM

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Hello folks.  We had our fifth session of Sorcerer last night.  The whole campaign thing is detailed here, along with previous session logs.

This was a really interesting and challenging session -- there was one metric assload of combat (something like six or seven different fights spread out in one long stretch of room-to-room warfare).  There were a lot of interesting variables (Shannon was already a bit hurt, and no one in the reasonably well-armed group was particularly skilled at using guns on anything other than a firing range), and tons of currency exchange going on.

On with the show:

We ended last session with the group heading through the blizzard in an Escalade on the way to Jerry Rubinek's home/studio/warehouse.  It had come out in the previous session that Jerry was probably pretty closely connected to the snuff film that had been sent to both Ken and Val, and that he'd used the killing as a sacrifice to summon some kind of demon.  Considering that the last time Val and Shannon had been in the area, they'd been attacked by a "mothman" demon, the odds were pretty good that Jerry had summoned a Moth Queen.

As the SUV pulled up to the destination, the roster was:
* Shannon, with her demon Bister.
* Val, with his demon Shade.
* Ken, with his demon Doji.
* Yvonne, with no demons.

Unknown to the group, the occupants of the warehouse included:
* Jerry Rubinek, ignorant neophyte sorcerer.
* The Moth Queen.
* Three spawn of the moth queen at various levels of 'maturity' (power).
* Two Mothmen. (Fully matured non-Spawn: demons in their own right).

Yeah.  That's eleven NPCs and three PCs in a big friggin' setting.  (The maps I used are here: First floor, Second floor.

Not that I was expecting combat or anything... oh no.

Now, what's interesting about this situation is that no one was involved in this visit for the same reasons:
* Val had learned enough about the Moth Queen to figure out that she was bad news -- they have a tendency to get summoned, taint their master, gain Immanence, and rebel.  Their spawn also matures to become independent after time -- he wanted to keep the things from infesting 'his town'.  He also wanted to find out why Jerry had been sending the snuff film to them, if it was indeed from him.
* Shannon just wanted to resolve the threat to Yvonne that she'd inadvertently agreed to help with so that she could kick Yvonne out on her butt and get on with her life.
* Ken didn't care about the bugs.  He wanted to asked Jerry some questions and wanted to rescue his psuedo girlfriend if she was there to be saved, and that was it... then it was back to taking over OsatoSoft.

QuoteShannon: What do we need guns for?
Ken: I just want to question this Mr. Rubinek... I think a gun barrel pointed at his kneecaps might be very useful.
Yvonne: Good plan. (To Shannon) I like this guy.
Shannon: You two should date. (To Ken) Your girlfriends tend to disappear, right?
Ken & Yvonne: Hey!

The group pulled up in front and stomped through the snow and into the muggy heat of the warehouse.  After a few moments of looking around (Shade teleported somewhere) and noting an acrid tang in the warm air that hadn't been there before, the group was greeted by Jerry, calling down from the loft on the second floor above.  He couldn't see them and they couldn't see him, and a few moments of tense conversation went by. (I was reminded of the conversation between Martin and the other assassin in the kitchen at the end of Grosse Pointe Blank.)

Then they heard Jerry pounding along the second floor hallway towards the other end of the building.

Val and Ken and Bister set off in pursuit up the central flight of stairs while Yvonne moved toward the elevator and Shannon tried to keep an eye on both the front and back doors into the place as best as she good, with an eye out for demons... she was looking for the Queen, you see.

Pounding up the stairs, Val and Ken noticed the door just on their right closing and moved to keep it open, but didn't see Jerry (he was actually circling around through the building to work back to the elevator and hoping they would follow him on a wild goose chase).  Val was a bit paranoid at this point and, thinking of the types of demons they were talking about, he looked up.  This worked out very well for him because he noticed the Mothman sneaking in through the skylight above and fluttering down behind them.

Right.  The mothman (one of the larger 'not-quite-grown' spawn) got the drop on them even with the early warning and leapt at Val.  Val's initial shotgun blast went wide and Ken didn't do any better with his pistol.  Shouting, Val smashed the thing in the "face" with the butt of the gun to get some room, which drove it back a step.  Ken kind of freaked out a bit and unloaded at the thing -- hitting by volume over virtue.  The bullets weren't really penetrating the carapace, but they did drive the thing back as well, which gave Val time to take time with the shot and really nail it.

Hearing the shots, Shade teleported (reluctantly) back to Val to help out and Bister abandoned his goal of checking out Jerry's computers to go back and tell his mistress Shannon what was going on.

In the next exchange, the mothman opted to go full defense (since it was down a bunch of temporary damage), both of the sorcerers stuck with their guns, and Shade and Ken's Doji opted to get into the fray.

The demon leapt into the air, flying violently toward the ceiling and in a circle that would have (after this round's temporary damage was gone) eventually led it back to a flying attack on Ken.

It never got a chance.  Doji used his Psychic Attack (which tends to manifest as bad luck for the target) on the thing.  One of it's wings caught a hanging light fixture and it careened into one of the cockeyed interior partitions-cum-walls.  The thing hit the floor in a fluttering heap and Shade (and Val's shotgun) tore it to ribbons.

Somewhere in building, something very large screams.

While they were finishing the thing off, Jerry slipped out of a door on the other side of passageway and ducked down the hallway through another door that lead to the elevator.  Ken pursues.


Meanwhile, Shannon and Bister are creeping along towards the back of the building downstairs.  Her head is still throbbing from the run-in with Osato-san (1 lasting penalty) a few hours ago.  She keeps an ear cocked toward the sounds of gunfire above, shouting advice for the men to use the 'punishment sashays' she put together earlier, but they don't listen.

Making a guess, Shannon picks one of the doors to rooms in the back and she and Bister go in.  Bister sees something that Shannon doesn't and shoves her back into the hallway on her ass.  The door closes.  Shannon stands up and whirls when she feels something behind her.

Another mothman.  A big one.

Shannon is in bad straights -- she's got no weapons and is basically left with using Punish as a snap-shot, which doesn't work out very well for her.  Luckily, Bister has Shadow and Perception that allows him to see in his own darkness, so he gets the upper hand quite quickly (His mothman is one of the smaller spawned versions).  Shannon uses her Confuse ability to buy some time, and it works.  She's shouting at the thing in a combination of Babylonian and American Gutter, which bring Bister double-time.  Right about then the two guys upstairs finish off their guy, the Demon Queen screams, and Val orders Shade to go help Shannon.

Bister and Shade double-team the mothman and Shannon Confuses it a second time to give them some openings.  They pound the crap out of it and Shannon snap-shots a banish that the thing is far too weak to resist.


Meanwhile, Ken is racing through the side rooms after Jerry (Val is limping along after everyone along the main hall) and hears gunshots through the door up ahead.  He steps through and sees Jerry standing in front of the elevator with Yvonne standing inside and pumping round after round into him.  (He's got Armor, but it's still hurting.)

(Using the gun that Val borrowed from a guy on campus -- there's a ballistics nightmare waiting to happen.)

Jerry hears Ken coming and tries to run.  Both Val (coming up from the corridor) and Ken draw down on him and order him to freeze (using many interesting threats) -- Will checks.  Jerry freezes and drops his gun.

Yvonne steps out of the elevator and caps him in the back of the head.  (Which he survives, again thanks to the armor, but starts screaming at them to 'stop that crazy bitch' even has he drops to his knees with his hands up.)  Ken turns his gun on Yvonne and orders her to drop the gun, which she does.  Ken gathers up both dropped guns, keeping Jerry's in hand and tucking Yvonne's in his belt.

While Shannon, Shade, and Bister creep back into the room in the 1st-floor corridor, Val and Ken question Jerry, asking where the Queen is and where Susan is -- the answer is the same: The queen is in the room on the 1st floor at the end, on the left, and Susan's in there too -- Jerry put her in there in case "SHE needed her."

Ken starts to cook up a plan in which Jerry walks in and brings the woman out to him, but Val thinks Jerry is going to double-cross them once in the room and smashes the butt of the shotgun against Jerry's temple.

The problem is, Jerry is one tough, stubborn, mama-jama.  Realizing that these guys are NOT going to treat him well, he makes a break for it, running for the patio door that looks out over the front entrance.  Ken tries to shoot him, but Yvonne is going for the gun tucked in his pants and... umm... distracts him.  Val clips Jerry hard with the shotgun, but Jerry manages to master himself with a Will check and gets his Stamina back.  He leaps out through the shattered patio door and over the rail to the ground below.  Yvonne runs after him and Shannon starts SCREAMING for help from the other end of the building.

The cold air from the patio gives Val and Ken an idea -- it's way too hot in this building and maybe the Queen doesn't like the cold... or the Spawn don't.  Ken finds the vent-fan controls for the ceiling units and opens them full blast, then heads for the Shannon and/or Susan.  Val heads down to the front door to blast that door open and get some weather coming in.

Yvonne keeps shooting at Jerry, who (Val realizes) has jumped into the Escalade and is hotwiring it.  Nice.

Meanwhile, when Shannon, Shade and Bister creep into the room, two mothmen (a largish spawn and a full-grown one) leap at them.  The demon's play interference while Shannon punishes the smaller of the two who's fighting Shade.  Suddenly, in the midst of this, Shade vanishes -- Val realizes that Jerry's stealing 'his' Escalade and wants to send Shade out to stop him -- this leaves Shannon with no cover from the spawn.

Out of desperation, Shannon goes for a one-shot banish on the thing and nails it.

The queen screams and Shannon realizes it's in the room.

On. The. Ceiling.

The gravid queen starts moving slowly toward them while Bister (who had been on FIRE with his combat rolls up to this point) is getting his butt handed to him by the fresh-and-ready-to-kick-ass mothman.  Shannon is trying to get Bister out of the fight, but can't muster any kind of real aid.

Ken shows up and Doji lights the mothman up with a psychic force attack while Bister flees to the hallway to use his last Power of the day on Vitality.  Between the two of them, they Sorcerers Punish/Punish/Team Banish the mothman.

Shade teleports into the front passenger seat of the Escalade to stop Jerry from leaving.

Jerry tries to Banish Shade.  He narrowly fails.

Shade's plan shifts from 'stop Jerry from leaving' to 'tear Jerry in fucking half'.  By the time Val gets to the vehicle and opens the door, Jerry is beaten within an inch of his life and tumbled out into the snow.  Val steps over him and gets in, buckling up.  He tells Shade to get to the back of the building, just outside the room where the Queen is, open up a big-ass hole in the wall to let the snow in and grab the woman Ken's looking for.  Shade moves to do these things.

Val puts the Escalade in gear and drives straight up through the front doors.


The Queen is getting closer, and Ken and Shannon are backing out of the room and toward the sound of crashing glass and roaring engines when Ken remembers why he came here.  He checks the room, but he doesn't see Susan...

QuoteKen: I have to get Susan.
Shannon: Fuck that, I'm leaving.  Let her die.

Humanity fail check: passed. (The player didn't even blink when I asked for the roll -- I think she was actually smiling. :)

There's one corner he can't see, though, which would require a run right past the queen.  Ken decides to go for it and races into the room.

Humanity Gain check: failed.

Doji (Desire: Competition) is ready to try himself against the Big Bad and tries to cover Ken by hitting the queen with Psychic Force as Ken runs by.

The Queen disses Doji and smacks Ken dizzy.  Ken (who was basically untouched up to this moment) needs a Will check to stay on his feet as he skids into the corner, only to see Shade pulling his girlfriend out through hole in the wall.  Ken staggers forward, ordering Doji to "do something", because the Queen is close and she's pulling her claws back.

Doji, seeing that the situation is desperate, uses his Spawn ability.  With the scream of a modem handshake, a strange twisted create appears in the space between Ken and the Queen.  It attacks the queen ineffectually but gets her attention.  She tears it to pieces as Ken drops into the alleyway outside.  Doji is now out of the fight.

Val sees Ken go back into the room and figures he knows what's going on.

Yvonne suddenly catches up with the Escalade (where had she been, and why the grim smile?) and gets in the back seat, screaming "let's go!"

Val goes... charging the Queen through the partition walls with the truck.  That wasn't what Yvonne meant, and she really regrets getting in the truck.

Shannon sees what's going on and follows through the wreckage to see if she can help at all.

In the alleyway, Ken sees Jerry's old '79 Monte Carlo and orders Shade to take the woman to the car while he sees what's going on inside (Will check).  Shade sneers, tosses the woman to Ken and says "why don't you carry the bitch and I'll go be the hero."

Ken nods... and then hits him with a Punish. (Three successes.)

Val tears through the room, narrowly avoiding support pillars and sideswiping the Queen.  The queen tears through the hood, roof, steering wheel, and seats of the vehicle and Val leaps to the far side of the vehicle as it crashes headlong into the back wall with the hole in the wall just on the passenger side of the vehicle, away from the Queen.  He and Yvonne pile out, staggering, as the queen starts to tear the truck to tiny little pieces.

There's the smell of gas.

Val tumbles out through the hole to the sight of Ken carefully tucking the woman into the Monte Carlo and Shade shivering in pain.  No time for questions:  Val grabs the shotgun (which Ken had acquired when the two had split up before and left on the ground in the alley.

Shannon tries to hit the queen with a Punish... a Banish... nothing.  She's not even getting it's attention has it tears through the truck and the walls nearby.

Then she sees Yvonne, knocked unconscious and thrown into the rubble nearby.

Val shoots several times into the metal body of the truck, causing some sparks that catch the gas fumes.  Fwoosh.

Shannon, swearing loudly at her dead father, Yvonne, the Queen, and anyone else who'll listen, runs into the room to get Yvonne out.  

Humanity Gain check: Fail

(Too bad, but the player told me later that her motivation was never out of empathy or pity for Yvonne -- "I just didn't want to go back on my word."  So it totally fit that she didn't get the Gain.)

(She won't send Bister in, because he's already fought so hard and she doesn't want to order him to save someone he doesn't like anyway.)

QuoteDave (Ken): You treat your demon better than you treat real people.
Jackie (Yvonne): You're finally starting to understand this character.

Shannon picks up second and third degree burns going over the rubble on the edge of the fire, but gets Yvonne and doesn't pass out til she's a few feet from the door... Bister leaps out of his place in her waving hair and gets her over the thresh-hold.  He and Shade drag her and Yvonne past Ken and Val, who watch the Queen writhe in the flames.

The flames she's even now starting to blow away from her body with her wing beats -- not really having taken much damage.


The two decide to go for a combined Banish (though with their scores they might have been better off with each one trying it separately).  Ken gets a success that rolls to Val, and Val rolls about 12 dice against the Queen's effective total of 27.

I get one friggin' 10.  Val get's FIVE.  Daaaaamn.

Everyone piles into the car and heads for Ken's house (Ken's driving).

Moods are tense.  Yvonne won't say if she left Jerry alive, Val's pissed that Ken wasted time in the middle of the fight on punishing Shade (not that he punished him, exactly, just that he chose such a piss-poor time to do it and hamper one of their assets).


The group gets back to the house, gets inside, and Ken's sister is laying insensible in the middle of the living room floor, a trickle of blood on each wrist.  Ken sets down Susan and rushes over, but doesn't touch her.

Quote"Sister! What happened?"





Man, what a marathon.  Something like six or seven separate fights, which took about three hours to do altogether, though... that's pretty damn good, but it was still a hell of a lot of guys to keep track of and damn tiring.

The currency got a great workout, and players who initially rolled badly on those snap-shot rituals started to really root for someone else to score a good hit earlier in the exchange, since they quickly learned that those penalty dice would roll back to them as more dice they could add to their roll.   The only thing that bugged me was that we started to exhaust our ability to come up with cool stuff for bonus dice... long fights really use up the good ideas.

Several Humanity Gain and Loss checks, but no actual changes to scores... really interesting.

I think the most entertaining thing about this session is that is wasn't the Big Climatic End-of-Game Battle... it was just a nasty fight, but no one's kickers got resolved and in some ways it all just opened more questions; the real ending to the story is probably going to be much less frantic and 'quick', and much more tense.

Good stuff.  Long log.  Yikes.
Doyce Testerman ~
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.


I should also have mentioned that I gave Val a Humanity Gain check after the successful Banish, but he failed it.

We're currently getting ready to switch our d20 Spycraft game to FATE, whose exchange-by-exchange conflict options have a LOT in common with Sorcerer (with Trollbabe's rerolls thrown in), so there was several places where I and the guy GMing Spycraft paused and played compare/contrast between the system.
Doyce Testerman ~
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.

Sydney Freedberg

I have to say, you've got a great group going. I especially love Shannon (as a fictional character to read about, obviously; would rather not meet her in real life).


Quote from: DoyceYeah.  That's eleven NPCs and three PCs in a big friggin' setting.  (The maps I used are here: First floor, Second floor.

Oops!  Sorry, the second floor map is here.
Doyce Testerman ~
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.