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Author Topic: [Burning Wheel] Burning Carnivale  (Read 17234 times)
Robert Bohl
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« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2005, 03:36:40 PM »

So we finally (I think) nailed down the Beliefs & Instincts for Gonsalvo:

Beliefs:  Pain is my penance.  You can't walk alone; even Christ needed someone to nail him to the Cross.  I'm not fit for decent company.

Instincts:  If they watch too closely, give them a show.  If all is well, be on guard.  When in a Fight! always take Aggressive stance.

--

The second instinct is basically so that when people are happy and contented, he's waiting for the other shoe to drop.  And the Aggressive thing . . . while he's not a violent or vicious person, he is very unlikely to protect himself (since he can and is willing to take pain).
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Misspent Youth: Ocean's 11 + Avatar: The Last Airbender + Snow Crash
Shows:
Oo! Let's Make a Game!: Joshua A.C. Newman and I make a transhumanist RPG
Robert Bohl
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« Reply #16 on: September 27, 2005, 05:57:02 AM »

I have received a background on Gonsalvo from his player.  I will reproduce it here.

Gonsalvo's history

Gonsalvo grew up in a devout Catholic home in a small farming village. His father was a harsh and reticent man, speaking only to Gonsalvo to criticize his work in the fields. His mother smiled sad smiles and wept often, and his older sister Maria was kind but desperately engrossed in her studies and books that Gonsalvo couldn't understand.

Mass was wonderful. The entire family would listen to their uncle preach, and Gonsalvo cherished hearing his father's voice without anger, his mother's voice without sadness, and his sister's voice at ease.

Gonsalvo took quickly and strongly to prayer, finding in it a Father that would hear him, and something he could do without earning a rebuke from his earthly father other than working the land. He took to working at the cemetery on weekends to serve his Lord. His uncle was greatly pleased at the lad's apparent path, and his family approved by withholding condemnation.

A couple of years passed and Gonsalvo began to earn coin for his work. His sister left the village for schooling within the church, and so rather than retire to his oppressive home, made even moreso by Maria's absence, he began to spend time with his co-workers.

Gonsalvo was always shocked by how the men spoke freely of women, and swore with loose tongues. They would show off what they bought with their coin. Gonsalvo would not join in such conversations, digging harder until the blisters on his calloused hands provided a distraction, or biting hard on his tongue until he began to taste blood.

Still, what these men talked about tormented Gonsalvo at night, and he began to be tormented by sinful lusts. But he did not stop seeing the men. They talked to him. Laughed with him.

Gonsalvo found out that when prayer didn't help, pain did. Thoughts of the village women were chased away by his palm held over the offering candles, or the head of a coffin nail pressed insistently into his hip. As the desires became more intense, so did his 'cures'.

One day after work he was heading out from his digging to find two of the men having sex in the woods. Gonsalvo was horrified, yet aroused. He ran home to find an empty house, stripped off his clothing and fell to his knees before a statue of the virgin mother. Prayer did not end his temptation, so he sought his mother's knitting needles.

His mother returned home to find him plunging them through his chest, bloody and obviously aroused, kneeling before the staute of the most holy mother. She screamed, and Gonsalvo fled.

He stayed out that night in the woods, but returned home the next morning. His parents were waiting for him, along with his uncle. They treated him roughly, calling him sinner. They inspected his bare flesh, and pointed out all of his scars and burns, calling them affronts to his maker. His uncle proclaimed him beset by demons, and sought to see Gonsalvo exorcised before the congregation.

Gonsalvo knew such a ceremony would fail. He knew his dark thoughts and his sins were his own, and having those facts revealed to all would shame his parents and his family to their deaths. He fled again, bloodying his father's lip in the process, and this time he did not return home.

The Carnivale was nearby, and Gonsalvo was able to get a job as a roustabout due to his strong build and talent for physical labor. He worked hard, but kept to himself, always still plagued by his sins.

One day his "acts of penance" were discovered by a member of the sideshow. Remembering his mother, Gonsalvo made to run. He was stopped. This time there was no screaming. There was laughter.

He was offered an act of his own.
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Oo! Let's Make a Game!: Joshua A.C. Newman and I make a transhumanist RPG
Robert Bohl
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« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2005, 06:28:54 AM »

So, because of various difficulties in scheduling, we wound up with only 3 of the 4 players last night, and only 2 hours to game rather than 4.  As a result, I decided not to run the "big game" we had planned with the group kicker about the kidnapped hooker.  Instead, I decided we'd do a prelude game.

The carnival was in the city of New Carthage, and it just so happened that their rivals, "Brother Bonifacus's Miracle Show", run by gaffer Xabial Herrero, was in town as well.  For kicks, Rodrigo the grafter, Don Diego the acrobat and Gonsalvo the blockhead went to see the competition's show.  Gonsalvo was hoping for an actual religious experience, and the other two were going for laughs.  Gonsalvo was disappointed by the fire-and-brimstone nature of the sermon.  So they heckled.  And managed to turn the crowd against the show and ruin it.  They were recognized and chased out.  They made their way back to their own carnival, where the head hooker--Rodrigo's sister--asked where her son (and Diego's acrobatic apprentice) was.  It seems he went to the same show they did, but he hadn't shown back up yet!  Not to mention that the carnival would be leaving that night after their performance.

So that was all setup and kicker.  Now we get to the real game.

The three went back into the city.  James (Rodrigo's player) decided he was going to try to contact Sancho the pickpocket, a man he knew from his days as a criminal and lowlife, who had been working the crowd at the Miracle Show.  Rodrigo did a Streetwise linked test to find the best spot to find him, which linked into Diego's Conspicuous test (a linked test for James's Circles check), which Gonsalvo helped him with.  They made like they were rich gamblers ripe for the plucking.  James made his 4 dice, 3 Ob Circles test without any spare successes (so he couldn't Name Sancho for future tests).  Sancho said that he had seen the boy at the show, and saw him go off with Sendina the Confessor, a woman who beats men for money under the guise that she is helping them atone for their sins.

So it's dusk, and the gates to the city are about to close.  They won't make it to the gate near where the Miracle Show is set up in time.  Don Diego uses his 2 Streetwise with 1 helping die from Rodrigo to try to find a closer gate they can get out of.  However, they don't know the city, they have to get out in a hurry, so it's a 3 Ob.  Only two successes, so they don't manage to get out in time.  Instead they arrive at the gate they wanted to use just as it's being closed by a burly and ill-tempered guard sergeant and his weasely second.

Rodrigo appeals to the man, explaining that his sister and her son are caught outside the gate and there are dangerous characters around.  The guard's side is just: no.  Those are the rules.  A Duel of Wits ensues with the sergeant and his weasely second adopting the Interrogation skill and stonewalling.  Rodrigo uses Persuasion with lots of Falsehood FoRKed in.  In most volleys, Don Diego helps with Conspicuous but Gonsalvo is uncomfortable whenever Rodrigo is FoRKing in Falsehood (or outright using it), so whenever there are lies involved he does not aid Rodrigo.  For this he receives a Fate point.  Rodrigo plays it fairly conservative and careful where the sergeant barrels forward fairly aggressively, scripting two Dismisses one after the other.  In the end, Rodrigo wins the day with few hits to his Argument.  The compromise reached is that they promised not to tell anyone and never to do it again, and the sergeant's second acts as though he heard some noise off in an alley and they play it off like they don't see the trio sneak out the gate.

The carnies make their way in the darkness to the Miracle Show.  It's ostensibly closed down after dark, but that's when people come back for illicit reasons so there's something of a crowd.  Gonsalvo decides he's going to spook the horses and get them to run through the tents, acting as a linked test to Rodrigo's Inconspicuous blending among the crowd and Diego's Stealthy search of the tents for his apprentice.  Gonsalvo successfully uses Carnival-Wise as a linked test to his Driving check to spook the horses, into which he FoRKs Torture since he's going to cause the horses pain, and Knots, since he's going to tie their leads together so that they clothesline tents and people in the way.  His Driving is 2, +1 linked die, +1 from Torture, +1 from Knots.  I rule that this is a Difficult check, since he wants the horses to run through the tents when they'd prefer to just run away into the open.  He makes it, giving a Linked test die to both the Inconspicuous test and the Stealthy test.

Rodrigo uses his 2 Inconspicuous plus the 1 Linked Test die, plus FoRKing in 1 die from Mark-Wise because he knows how to look like a clueless towner rube.  Unfortunately, I'm ruling this is an extremely difficult task since he got seen and chased by these people for screwing up their show earlier that day, and they're all pretty pissed off at him, plus he doesn't know the Miracle Show very well, so it's Ob 4.  He fails.  Nuņo, the tall and lanky Caller comes out of his tent half-shaved to investigate the commotion caused by the horses and recognizes him immediately.  He raises a cry to the other Miracle Show carnies who begin to amass like dark clouds before a savage storm.

Meanwhile, Don Diego uses his 2 Stealthy plus the 1 Linked Test die.  I give the carnies a 4 Perception, but their ob (Diego's successes) is doubled.  They manage only 2 successes, and Don Diego manages 3.  They don't see him.  Diego searches through the tents and finally comes upon the one he wants.  Peeking through a flap in the tent, he sees his apprentice strapped prone to a table in four-point restraints.  A tall-and-chubby woman (in a costume reminiscent of a nun's habit, but sufficiently different to avoid charges of heresy) is lashing the boy with a whip and shrieking at him to admit his sins.  Watching impassively is a 7-foot mountain of a man, shaved bald with an iron-shod rod in his hands.  This is Iohan, the "usher" for the services offered by the Miracle Show.  Functionally, he's a bouncer, and he is the one who chased the PCs out of the earlier show.  He studies the boy intently.  The boy is clearly not there for recreational purposes.  He's screaming and crying and wants to be let go.  Rodrigo leaps into the room and jumps atop the table, crying, "Halt!  Release my apprentice!"  The surprise forces Sendina and Iohan to make Steel tests.  I screw up and think that Steel tests are automatically open ended.  They're not.  So Sendina makes her Steel test with no hesitation, but Iohan is standing and drooling.  Diego receives a Fate point for risking his neck in a situation called on by his, "With great responsibility comes great power," Belief.

Back in the main camp, Rodrigo decides he's going to inflame the customers against the Miracle Show and get them to help him save his nephew.  He gets more successes than Nuņo.  I cut back to Michael briefly, then back again and then I screw up and make him roll again instead of having the Let It Ride rule run.  What I really should have done was made it an extended roll to see who can get X number of successes first.  Anyway he fails the second roll and loses the enthusiasm of the crowd.  The other carnies chase Gonsalvo and him out of the carnival.  They try to fade into the night, then double back to find Diego, and eventually make their way to the tent where the conflict is going down.

Diego does an untrained Intimidate check, FoRKing in 2 dice from Acrobatics, 2 from Conspicuous and 1 die from his Noble Bearing trait.  He also surprised them and is on high ground and is of higher station.  He rolls a mess of dice.  I decide it'll be one roll, and that one roll will be applied against each of the opponents' (Will + 1 Ob for being two-against-one and in their home turf), doubled.  So the Ob is 10 for Sendina and 8 for Iohan.  Michael gets 6 successes with 2 sixes.  Instead of spending the Fate point to open the sixes, though, he decides to use his Graceful call-on trait to reroll.  He gets a worse roll this time, and the Fight! is on.

We've got only 15 minutes left before the session has to end, so I decide to have Gonsalvo and Rodrigo show up just in the nick of time.  Diego's Intimidate does not leave the Miracle Show carnies inclined to give up the boy.  Rodrigo says, "That's my nephew.  You'd better let him go!"

Iohan says, "That's my son, and I'm keeping him."  This is news to Rodrigo, who draws his knife--thus earning a Fate point for his Belief, "My sister is my only family, we have to stick together," getting him into trouble.

"Then you left my sister with a child, you scum."

"Your whore of a sister didn't tell me I had a son.  I soiled myself with her back when I was a sinner and she stole my son from me."

Rodrigo attacks.

So I decide to make this a bloody versus test rather than a fully scripted Fight! because of the time limitations.  In the first roll--between Rodrigo and Gonsalvo against Iohan--I forget that you can split your dice between attack and defense, so everyone all-out attacks.  Iohan swings at Rodrigo and brains him with a Serious wound to the head.  Rodrigo scores his midriff with a knife slash and does a Superficial wound.  Gonsalvo punches Iohan in his kidneys doing another Superficial wound.  By this time I remember you can split your die pool.  Diego is on top of the table and defends with two dice and attacks Sendina with one.  Sendina whips at Diego, with one die for defense and three for attack.  Sendina lays open a flap of skin on Diego's thigh with a Light wound and Diego stabs at her whip-arm, managing only a Superficial cut.

Both Rodrigo and Diego fail their Steel checks and are hesitating.  We're already over time, so I decide to wrap it up.  The entire carnival beats the living hell out of the four protagonists and leave them for dead.  They manage to limp back to Uncle Ulf's carnival.
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Misspent Youth: Ocean's 11 + Avatar: The Last Airbender + Snow Crash
Shows:
Oo! Let's Make a Game!: Joshua A.C. Newman and I make a transhumanist RPG
Chris Geisel
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Posts: 55


« Reply #18 on: September 28, 2005, 09:33:18 AM »

Wow. Awesome game! I'm glad you finally got to play. The setting is great, and I really liked the "he's my son" Bang. The conflicts where you awarded Fate points really had me on the edge of my seat--I especially liked Gonsalvo's unwillingness to participate in Roderigo's Falsehood, and Roderigo's pulling the knife on the giant bouncer.

One thing I'm not clear on: you describe the events of the first paragraph as the Setup and Kicker. Did you play that scene out (it sounds like it)? Which part was the Kicker (ie player invented Bang)?

What a great setting. Your rival carnivals and suitably freakish NPCs are really compelling. I can't wait for the next AP.
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Chris Geisel
Robert Bohl
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« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2005, 09:37:52 AM »

Thanks for the kind words.  I really enjoyed this and it was just a 2-hour taste.

One thing I'm not clear on: you describe the events of the first paragraph as the Setup and Kicker. Did you play that scene out (it sounds like it)? Which part was the Kicker (ie player invented Bang)?

The first bit, the setup and kicker, was just talked around at the table.  We weren't really playing until I say "this is where the game starts".  The other stuff is stuff we decided happened as prelude to the game as played.
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Misspent Youth: Ocean's 11 + Avatar: The Last Airbender + Snow Crash
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Oo! Let's Make a Game!: Joshua A.C. Newman and I make a transhumanist RPG
Robert Bohl
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Posts: 525


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« Reply #20 on: October 05, 2005, 12:37:08 PM »

2nd session:  The Dame and the Don.

Gonsalvo is asleep under the bear's cage (which has a solid roof on top, but the floor is open and gapped in places--yay).  There was a thunderstorm the night before and the bear didn't take well to it, so he's gotten very little sleep.  Just as he's in the deepest part of whatever nightmares constantly torture him, he hears a horrible booming/clanging metal-on-metal noise.  It's Ulf's iron-shod boot being applied to the steel-shod hub of the wagon wheel that Gonsalvo's asleep under.

Uncle Ulf is an entirely hairless dwarf, the Gaffer of the Uncle Ulf's Amazing Spectacle.  A month ago Gonsalvo--after helping rescue Diego's apprentice/Rodrigo's nephew, Lorenzo, from the Brother Bonifacus's Miracle Show--was awarded his own station in the freakshow.  The problem is that his act hasn't been raking in enough money for Ulf.  "Boy, you know how to mess yourself up real well, but you're not a showman," he says.  He gives him an ultimatum.  If the take from his show doesn't start to pick up, Ulf will take away his booth and give it to Atasha the Gorilla Girl, a 12-year-old morbidly obese and hirsute orphan.  True to form, Gonsalvo is somewhat less concerned about losing his spot as he is that Atasha isn't ready for what happens when you're in the sideshow.  He asks Ulf if he will get him some doves, and after explaining the religious iconography to the baffled dwarf, he's told, "Fine, I'll see what I can do.  In the meantime, find a performer who's done this before and find out how you can up your take."

Gonsalvo asks around at breakfast about who the best shows are.  The top earners are The Great Wolf's animal act, the acrobats and Elena's fortune telling.  It's felt that what Elena does wouldn't really apply to Gonsalvo's act.  The Wolf is unapproachable (most people expect that if you piss him off he'll eat you while you sleep), and the acrobats might have less applicability for Gonsalvo's show.

He decides he'll go to see Florinda.  Florinda is the "girl" in Wolf's show.   She's also a part-time hooker who was dating Petros the Strongman, but was "won" in a hand of cards the night before by Rodrigo.  Rodrigo and Petros are on their way to deliver the news to Florinda.  Gonsalvo joins them, and they knock on her wagon, but she's not there.  Petros decides to POUND on the door hard enough to rock the whole thing, but there's no answer.

Rodrigo decides to ask his sister Placia--the head hooer--if she knows where Florinda is.  Elena's tent is across the way from Florinda's, and she was awoken by Petros's pounding.  They banter a little about Rodrigo's purpose in finding Florinda (they had an argument in public about it the night before).  Rodrigo and Gonsalvo continue toward Placia's wagon, and she is sitting out front with Diego enjoying their breakfast and chatting.  Lorenzo the apprentice is waiting on them. 

Placia says that Florinda drew the attention of Arnal d'Estrada, the son of the local lord.  She thinks that she entertained him last night privately.  Gonsalvo mentions that he wants to learn from Florinda, "but not THAT way."  The prostitute runs with this, suggesting that his talents for taking pain can net him quite a bit of money in her business.  There is some back-and-forth which threatens to get pretty nasty at one point, but Gonsalvo leaves with Rodrigo before it can get very bad.  They decide to go talk to Ulf.

Ulf makes them wait, and wait, and wait and just as they're about to give up and leave--almost as if he was waiting for this--he calls out for them to enter his office.  Gonsalvo asks about his doves, and Ulf says he's looking into it.  He asks if he's spoken to anyone about improving his performance and Gonsalvo and Rodrigo explain about Florinda.  They think she might have run off with Arnal because no one has seen her.  Ulf charges Gonsalvo with finding her, and is pretty upset about how much money he's being cheated out of if she ran off.

Rodrigo says that he can't think what else to do, but knows that the fortune teller has real powers, and wants to consult her.  Gonsalvo is uncomfortable with this, but sees the sense of it.  By this time, Elena's been able to wake all the way up by this time, and she says she'd be willing to do a Seeing for him (and contemplates some narcoleptic or hallucinogenic herbs), but wants to know a few things first.  Rodrigo goes into the story, and Elena says she didn't hear any noise that would indicate a struggle.  She asks if anyone looked inside the wagon yet, and either hadn't occurred to anyone or they hadn't done it yet.  So they go to do it.

They discover that the door's latching and locking mechanisms have been broken--probably by the door being forced open while it was locked.  When they go inside, all the things she'd need if she was going to be away for a long time are gone.  There are some things left behind, but it looks like a hurried effort at packing was made.  Elena makes a Perception test with some helping dice and determines that there was no violence. 

Now something pretty big in my development as a GM happens.  Ginger asks if there are any wine cups there and I decide, "That sounds like a good idea," so there are.  She checks the contents with an Herbalism to see if there are any traces of drugs.  I had not planned on this.  I had not decided how or why she left.  But she asked if the girl had been drugged, I had her make the Herbalism check, and since it was successful, she had been drugged.  This is the first moment I became conscious that I had started to really make what is cool and dramatic be what happened, rather than what I think seems most likely.  The brainwashing has taken.  The Kool-Aid is drunk.

Rodrigo goes to speak to Ulf about what they've discovered and Elena decides she's going to go find the Wolf, I assume because she feels he'll help get his shill back.  She goes into the countryside around the camp to look for him.  Diego is there with Lorenzo, and they're up in the trees practicing high-line work.  Elena asks if they've seen the wolf, and the boy says he tries NEVER to see the Wolf; the Wolf scares the hell out of him.  As they're having this conversation (BANG! with thanks to Judd, who came up with this Bang that drove the rest of the game), they notice an open-topped horse-drawn carriage heading their way.

As it gets closer, it resolves into a one-horse, expensive-looking black carriage with silver accents being driven by a gnarled old peasant.  Riding in leisure is a fat, early-middle-age, pale-skinned man in an indigo robe and conical hat, both of which have silver thread worked into them in various astrological and astronomical symbols and runes.  The carriage comes to a stop before the carnies and the old man gets down laboriously, then extends a set of steps so that the prodigious man can easily get down.  The old man helps the younger one down, and Michael--Diego's player--asks if he needs the help to get down, or if he's just taking the help.  Good one, I think, and decide that it'll make them hate him much more if he's taking help he doesn't need from an elderly man.

The old man introduces Excelcius, the court wizard of Don Sanzio d'Estrada y Julian of the Immaculate Order of Baronial Knights.  Excelsius is clearly not from 'round these parts--he's from Northern Europe or some mountainous location.  His accent is haughty and he seems disturbed to even be around these people.  He demands to be brought to the proprietor of the carnival, leavening everything he says with plenty of nasty insults about the carnival (how it's a moral trap waiting to take men's souls, etc.).  Diego hops down onto the driver's bench of the carriage and--once the old man has "helped" Excelcius back into the carriage--rides back into town with Lorenzo jogging along beside him.  The road is pocked and poor, so they must travel slowly, which gives Elena time to make her way cross-country back to the carnival before they arrive.

Meanwhile, Ulf has been doing his "waiting until you can't wait anymore" trick with Rodrigo and Gonsalvo again.  When that little drama is played out, they tell him about the now-almost-certitude that Florinda has been kidnapped by Arnal d'Estrada.  Ulf is outraged.  This is going to cost him a lot of money!  He asks what they're going to do to get her back, which is when Excelcius et al. arrive.

The old man does his introduction routine again, and Excelcius demands to see Ulf.  Ulf stays in his office and does not come out, and Excelcius is apoplectic.  He's used to people being terrified of his name alone, so outright defiance like this is unimaginable.  There's a brusque dialogue between Ulf and Excelcius, where he says that Don d'Estrada will burn the carnival to the ground if the demonic enchantments ensorcelling his son are not broken, and the whore who's sharing his bed is not removed from it.  At this point I become concerned that too much of what's going on here is being driven by NPCs, so he gets a dismissive reaction from Ulf, then tries to storm off, only to have the dramatic quality of his exit spoiled by the need to K-turn with a drawn carriage in muddy earth.

The four PCs enter Ulf's inner wagon (he's shirtless, and Michael at this point asks if he even has eyebrows--he does not) and he asks what their plans are.  It is proposed that they'll enter the town and try to find out where she's staying and get her back.  Elena and Rodrigo know that Don d'Estrada is a vassal of the Baron (her brother, his gambling buddy), and that he's a bit of a thorn in his side, to boot. 

James--Rodrigo's player--proposes a Circles test to find one of the Baron's men.  I rule that it's someone that's common to his Born City circle, of roughly the same station, and with a disposition or knowledge common to the circle, but is to be found somewhere local (+1 Ob) and has to be found soon (+1 Ob), which makes for an Ob 3 test on 2 dice.  Michael proposes a linked test of his Streetwise:  he will try to find a "people who knows people" person who Rodrigo can use to find his Circle.  He successfully finds a bartender who's very knowledgeable.  So that's 3 dice on a 3 Ob.  James fails his roll, and I invoke the Enmity Clause.

The bartender says that one of the Baron's household is staying upstairs, a lady's handmaiden.  When Rodrigo knocks, and the girl answers, it turns out that it is Jimena Galas, a woman that Rodrigo wronged in his youth.  She brittlely agrees to meet them if they rent a meeting room in the tavern below.  James makes an Ob 1 Resources test against his 1 Resources successfully.  James and I work out in play that she's a girl he promised to marry, but shortly before the marriage he was chased out of town for stealing a goose, and publicly shamed her.  She's very cold to him at first; he explains they're looking for a girl who was drugged and kidnapped by Arnal d'Estrada, and that he wants to find her because she's his sister's friend.  She's still suspicious.  She has heard this girl is a whore who used demonic magic to ensnare the young man's mind.

A Duel of Wits ensues.  This DoW takes the form of a contract that Jimena is writing.  She wants to write it such that he cannot touch Florinda unless he marries her (the marriage clause being Ginger's wonderful idea).  This makes the entire rest of the group very happy and they decide they will all help her.  For his part, Rodrigo wants it to be a contract that he can easily weasel his way out of.  Elena suggests the marriage clause, which is modeled as 1 Intimidation helping die for Jimena's Body of Argument.  Jimena also has a +4 BoA for the Enmity Clause being in effect.  Finally, Gonsalvo Helps her with a die from Doctrine (Catholic) about how it's sinful to touch her without marriage.  Her dueling skill will be Persuasion, which I rule she has 3 dice in, and she FoRKs in Ettiquite.  That gives her a base BoA of 6 with 6 dice to roll to bolster it.  She gets 4, so a 10 BoA.  No one is helping poor Rodrigo, but he FoRKs in his own Falsehood and manages a 7 BoA.

So I script 3 Rebuttals for Jimena, deciding she's a careful arguer.  James scripts a Rebuttal for his first volley, so nothing happens there, but then scripts a Dismiss where he says he'll treat her in a style befitting her station (or something like that; that's blunter than he was).  She goes for 1 die of defense and 3 of attack.  She misses the defense.  Rodrigo rolls, then uses his Poker Face C-O trait, then spends a Fate point to open his 6s.  He nets 10 successes and she only manages two.  I forgot to roleplay her response because I was so shocked at what James pulled off.  A one-shot-kill.  Amazing.

Not only is the girl happy to accede to Rodrigo's terms, it is pretty clear he's reawakened her crush on him.  She says the contract isn't necessary but Rodrigo insists on it, and pledges not to reveal Jimena's role in this.  She tells them that she believes that girl is being held in Arnal's home and she tells them where it is.  The girl says she must go now, and flees upstairs, all atwitter.  The group all give Rodrigo a flat look.  "That's how you talk to a lady!" he insists.

"No," says Elena, "that's how you talk to a girl you want something out of."

So, they plan.  They think about another Circles effort to find someone who might've broken in to Arnal's home but it's rejected as far too difficult.  As they're trying to decide what to do (BANG!), there's a timid knock at their meeting-room-door.  The bartender shows Excelsius into their midst, who begins to bluster and rage at them.  They're not buckling like he expects them to and it's making him petulant.  Rodrigo, apparently bored of this discussion, decides to go out to talk to the coachman.  Earlier, as they were leaving the Amazing Show, Rodrigo and Diego tried to get in the old man's good graces, but doing so was only drawing the ire of his master, so he asked them to talk to him later.

Inside, things aren't going very well.  They're asking Excelcius for help, and he's offended by the request.  He didn't come to do their bidding, he came to yell at them for not getting his done yet!  He threatens dire hexes (a word he takes a moment looking up in a mental dictionary) and other such nonsense, and Elena decides now might be a good time to magically Persuade him to get them a meeting with Florinda.  His Will (and therefore the Ob) is 5.  Her Will is 5 and her Sorcery is 6.  She uses a Persona point in line with her, "Fools who trifle with power come to bad ends," Belief and throws 12 open-ended dice at an Ob 5 . . . and fails!  Die of Fate!  A 1!  Unwanted summoning!  Worse yet, it's Daemonic!  Worse yet, it's of the Higher order!  A Lesser Daemonim!  Yikes.

Outside, Rodrigo hears a loud thump from within the tavern.
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« Reply #21 on: October 05, 2005, 12:37:27 PM »



Back inside, the glass in the windows begins to soften and run down like hot wax or melting ice.  Reality is chewed up from the insides by what turns out to be hundreds of thousands of black, rusty blades.  When the thing fully resolves, it is a demon humanoid in shape constructed of constantly shifting rusty black blades, squealing against one another in a horrible tumult (I think this was inspired by the shearing metal noise in the first scene).  While trying to attempt a simple Persuasion spell, Elena manages to summon Mraxis of the Unending Keen, a daemonim dedicated to horrible suffering and pain.  Everyone fails their Steel tests.  The only one who tries to run is Excelcius, but Mraxis stabs his tail down the back of Excelcius's ridiculous robes, pinning him in place.

Back outside, Rodrigo asks about where Arnal might be hiding Florinda inside the villa.  The old man clearly doesn't know.  He starts suggesting various places anyone might come up with--the basement, the attic, etc.  That's when Rodrigo hears the horrible shrieking, grinding sound.  He's willing to wait it out, but the old man is dedicated to the horrible bastard who bosses him around all day, and he hobbles his way inside.  Rodrigo decides to follow, and finds that not only has all the glass gone all melty, but the cups on the top of the bar are engaging in a war with one another.  Shortly after he enters, there's a crush at the doorway of people trying to flee all at once and log-jamming.  One man tries to leap through a melting window and appears to be coated in glass, whose surface snaps back and is unblemished.  Rodrigo jumps behind the bar.

In the conference room, Mraxis demands, "WHAT IS YOUR SERVICE, AND WHAT IS THE PRICE YOU OFFER?" of Elena in a voice that everyone can understand, even though they know that all they're HEARING is that horrible squealing metal noise.  Elena attempts an untrained Summoning check--not as a magical skill but as a knowledge-check to see what she can expect.  She doubles her Will with a Deeds point--which vibes off of her "fools" Belief--and FoRKs in Sorcery.  She then explodes the 6s.  I determine this is an Ob 4 test, which means she needs 8 successes--which she manages.  I decide I'll tell Ginger the Summoning rules, and that her character knows pretty much what to expect.

What to expect isn't good things.  This is a Lesser Daemonim, which means its bargaining position STARTS as requiring a Physical price--that Elena give up a hand or an eye or a tongue or something--for its service.  She opts for a Physical service (kidnap Florinda back for us) and a single-task duration, which gets her down to Marked--she will have to bear the mark of Mraxis as an indelible scar or tattoo on her body forever.  After she names the deal, and before Haggling can begin, Gonsalvo steps between the demon and the woman.  "Take her, not me," he insists.

"Would that I could, little man."  The demon is bound by the terms of the deal, and cannot do anything else unless Elena releases him.  Doing so--Elena knows--will result in her death, so she's unlikely to do that and in fact does not.  Instead, she and the demon Haggle, a skill which Elena does not possess.  She throws as much Artha into it as she can, but ultimately, Mraxis wins.  At this point he can choose to up the ante, or lock in the price as-is and get the job done.  I have him roll a Perception test against Elena's 5 Will as an Ob to see if he can determine her spellcasting might.  I decide he cannot, and he doesn't know whetehr this woman can eventually beat him back down.  Besides, the task isn't that difficult, and he can think of a way to make a nice ironic twist to the save.  He closes up bargaining and rips his tail free from Excelcius's robes, completely baring the man's naked back and rear end. 

At the same time, Rodrigo has heard the booming voice and has worked up the nerve to open the door.  Excelcius comes down face first in front of him, his naked and flabby body exposed.  Mraxis flies through the walls and rips off the lower half of the first-floor facade of the building; as he flies through the wood his body acts like a chainsaw, only smoother.  In his wake, the air takes on the consistency of jelly and gains a faint blue tint.  "How was THAT a good idea?" Rodrigo asks Elena, who does not respond.

Rodrigo--followed by Gonsalvo--rushes outside, determined to make some good out of this.  When he gets outside, the blades of grass have become blades.  They are sharp, and moving, and cutting people as they walk.  The entire town is in a riot.  People are tearing their hair out and weeping and. . . .

Back inside, Excelcius rolls over onto his back.  Elena and Diego warn him not to tell anyone about what happened here and he says, "Absolutely not.  Of course I'm going to let everyone know about your villainy!"

"That would be a very bad idea," Diego says, and draws his sword with a flourish and points it at Excelcius's throat.  "You don't think she can do that again?"  Elena points out that, of course, she can.  Michael goes for an Intimidation check--untrained--and FoRKs in his B6 Sword for 2 dice, and Elena throws in an Intimidation die.  He also chooses to spend a Deeds point on this, since it's extremely important that what they've done here doesn't get out.  He then uses his Graceful C-O (social situations requiring presence) and then explodes his 6s.  The Ob was Excelcius's B5 Will, doubled because Intimidation was untrained.  I ruled that there was an Ob, but there would also be a significant benefit from extra successes.  Michael managed 15 successes, enough to beat the Ob by 5, and enough to get the desired effect.  Excelcius is convinced that if he lets anyone know what happened here, Elena will send Mraxis--or something worse!--against him.  He gets up and races out, his ripped-open robe billowing around his nakedness.

As Excelcius comes out, Rodrigo says, "Damn all wizards!  I never should've come to a town with a demon-worshipper!"  He attempts a Falsehood test with Streetwise FoRKed in to convince the crowd that Excelcius is responsible for the demon.  Ordinarily this would only be an Ob 2 or so, but people are kind of concentrating on the world coming apart around them.  I make it Ob 3, but give him a bonus die for Excelcius coming screaming out of the bar just in time.  The Falsehood test works, and the citizenry with enough wherewithal start hurling clods of dirt and shit at the fleeing "wizard".

Meanwhile, Gonsalvo gets down on his knees and starts tearing up the grass so that it cannot hurt passersby--thereby cutting the hell out of his hands.  He managed to keep one of the blades, which would remain ever sharp, as if his blood-sacrifice locked in the unreality.

Overhead, Mraxis is flying back toward the tavern with a pink form in his arms.  He flies through the ceiling and down into the common room.  He drops the girl in front of the group.  Her clothes have been shredded apart, and her entire body is covered with shallow lacerations.  She is unconscious.  "It's been a pleasure," the thing grates, and folds in on itself.

On her left (sinister) shoulder, Elena feels a wriggling itch.  It is a tattoo--rather like an asterisk made of black blades.  These blades are grinding against one another, moving under her skin visibly.  This is the Mark of Mraxis.

Gonsalvo uses his Driving skills to track down Excelcius's carriage and get the horse to come back to town.  Reality is reasserting itself.  They load the girl into the carriage and drive back to the carnival.

Which is packed.  It was late afternoon when the insanity started to happen in the town of Estrada.  Most of the citizenry were already at the carnival.  Gonsalvo drops off the others, then drives the cart back to town.  Such an honest boy.  When he gets back to town, he will discover that the entire town is hiding behind shutters.  Elena takes Florinda to her wagon to treat her wounds.

Diego and Rodrigo burst into Ulf's office without knocking.  They explain what happened.  Or what they think happened.  Elena had plenty of opportunity to explain what happened, but was either too shocked to do so, or perhaps felt she couldn't convince them of the accidental nature of it all.  At any rate, they tell Ulf with horror and shock that Elena summoned a demon from Hell to free the girl, and that they have to leave NOW.  Ulf points out that if they try that, they'll have a riot on their hands.  Either they have a mob coming for their heads, or they have a mob here at home.  They ask him what to do and I start to come up with plans, then slap my hand (mentally) and say, "Bad GM."  I don't like that I'm about to make this decision.  Instead, Ulf says, "You screwed this up, you figure it out," and slams the door on them.

Rodrigo goes to find the Wolf and ask him to run his pack through the crowd and scare them off.  The Wolf denies him, saying that this will ruin the carnival in the future if they think that the wolf-performers get out and kill people.  Besides, his own little brothers might get killed.  Instead, he offers to go into the countryside and kill humans as they come to attack the carnival.  Rodrigo freaks.  "No, people will come to fear the wolves.  And your little brothers might be hurt."  He tries a Persuade check against the Wolf's Will.  He fails.

"Do not worry.  We will only take the slow and the old and those who are alone.  They will never see us."  He and his pack disappear into the black.

Diego and Rodrigo decide they will set fire to a wheat field nearby, and this works.  The word spreads and the entire town empties the carnival to go save the fields.  They quickly strike the tents and flee the town.

--

Even though this wasn't an "extended campaign", I felt that a trait vote was appropriate here.  First, it was a complete story unto itself.  Second, it was the first session and I wanted them to get the feel of a trait vote.  However, since it was a "short", I decided we'd only get one trait each.  Here's what came of that:

Diego had spent Fate points on:  "Anything worth doing is worth doing with style"; "With great responsibility comes great power"; and "Always take the high path."  Also, he spent a Deeds point on "Anything worth doing is worth doing with style."  We decided it was worth a Major Die-Type trait, and he was awarded Jaded.  He stood in a room with one of the more powerful denizens of Hell.  It was warranted.

Elena spent a Deeds point on "Fools who trifle with Power come to a bad end."  First, she got the Marked by Mraxis Character Trait as a result of the summoning.  We decided this also opened her eyes to the spirit world, and she got the major Die-Type Trait, Second Sight.

Rodrigo spent a Fate point and a Persona point on "My sister is my only family.  We have to stick together."  He also spent a Fate point on "What's mine is mine."  We decided that that was worth the minor Die-Type Trait Loyal.  He will be developing his Florinda-centered Belief before the next time he sees play.

Gonsalvo spent no Artha, and his player felt he didn't earn any Traits in this session.

Now for Artha:

Everyone got a Persona point for rescuing the girl.

Fate points were awarded in service to several Beliefs and Instincts (I don't remember all of these--sorry).  I remember that Elena got a Fate point for helping Jimena against Rodrigo, even though it would hurt the success of the mission.  Also, Rodrigo got a Fate point for Right Skill, Right Time, for that enormous Persuasion Dismiss which really catapulted the game forward.

No one felt there had been a moment of Embodiment, or a Moldbreaker award.  Ginger and I at first both felt that Diego deserved the Workhorse award, and Rodrigo deserved the MVP.  However James felt that the real meat of the game all flew off of the failed casting, and when he said this it was universally agreed that Elena should get the MVP award. 

I then argued for Rodrigo to get the Workhorse award, since it was his Circles test and his Duels of Wits which drove a lot of this and made things happen.  I was a little conflicted, though.  Rodrigo definitely wasn't "behind the scenes" in this game, whereas up until the final Intimidation, that was truer of Michael.  Ultimately we decided it ought to be Rodrigo who got it, but I'm still not absolutely sure it was the right thing to do.
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Robert Bohl
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« Reply #22 on: October 05, 2005, 12:43:28 PM »

A few notes that I thought of after this:

I need to do more for Gonsalvo.  I feel very bad that he didn't get to do much in this and I want to find ways to focus and push his character more in the future.

I need to do less in the future that focuses on danger to the carnival, and make it much more focused on more personal dangers.  Rodrigo had that here, and it really kicked him in the trousers.

I should have had the mob come.  I now feel like the worries they expressed about the mob coming to burn down the carnival were conscious or subconscious hints to me saying:  A mob should threaten.  I decided that logically they'd be too scared to leave their houses, but fuck logic.  I think the players wanted to get mobbed.
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rafial
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« Reply #23 on: October 07, 2005, 11:37:02 AM »

Quote
the glass in the windows begins to soften and run down like hot wax or melting ice

Brilliant execution of the Lawbreaker trait.  When I first saw that trait explained in the Monster Burner, it was another one of the "Eureka" moments that BW doles out with some frequency.  So much more vicesral that "it's fangy and has lots of hit points".

So to a question:  When the unwanted summoning came up, how did you go about coming up with the demon?  Did you have something prepped "just in case?"  Was it a flash of inspiration?  Did the group as a whole brainstorm what the demon would be like?

I ask because it seems marvelously realized.
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Robert Bohl
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« Reply #24 on: October 07, 2005, 06:45:37 PM »

First, thanks for the kind words.  They're well-appreciated.

In terms of the stats, I just stole them from the Monster Burner for Lesser Daemonim.  As far as the "form", I think I remembered the squealing metal thing from the very first scene where Gonsalvo was rudely awakened by the dwarf's metal-shod boot-sole on the metal-shod hub of the bear's wagon.  I think, but I'm not sure, because it all went very fast.  I don't know where I came up with my lawbreaker stuff, though I expect the sharp grass was subconscious detritus from the Aeon Flux movie trailer.
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