Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.

Main Menu

[Mortal Coil] [Actual Play] Malleus Malleficarum

Started by daedalvs, April 25, 2007, 05:49:53 PM

Previous topic - Next topic



<Waving hands>

My name's Jokin, and I'm a newcomer in the Coil forum, even though I've been reading it since some time ago. I have finally decided to intervene as a way of sharing my Coil experiences with you all, because the AP posts and forum topics I have read gave me the both the "guts" and the hands -on knowledge to GM a Mortal Coil game. Needless to say, it has been one of my best gaming experiences ever! :)

Long story short, I bought Mortal Coil thanks to Arturo, also user of the Forge forum, and the one who showed me the very existence of this alternative gaming style, in a Con held in our home city (Valladolid, Spain - That reminds me to beg your pardon about the mistakes I could make while writing English). Games like DitV, InSpectres and Polaris where like a slap in my face saying "What the heck were you looking at during all this time?" ;) In behalf of the event, I started looking some indie games to buy, and chose Polaris (played at the Con), Shab-al-Hiri Roach and, as passionate I am about magic in roleplaying, a little strange game about magic named Mortal Coil...

OK, I got the book, then I read the book, thought I had all bases covered, gathered some people, and... It didn't work :( Why, dammit? The ideas in the game were fascinating, the possibilities endless, the people were into the game, I had previously read some AP... So I packed and went home ashamed of my poor MC-fu. But then I read MORE AP (God bless it), and the Mortal Coil FAQ extracted from the forum, and saw the light :) This conflict examples are a must read!!!

Weeks later, I managed to get another group for another "playtest session". That one went for TWO MONTHS, with five players enjoying the game, and me myself loving it. Near-zero GM pre-work, intense conflicts arising, funny magical facts, treason, passions hi and lo... Sincerely: Brennan, Mortal Coil is perhaps the nearest I've found about what I've been wanting my gaming to be. Thanks. A lot.

My story ends here, let's get with another story :) Boosted with the success of the playtesting, I dared to offer a MC "campaign" in my usual gaming place. I got five people (one of them from the playtesting), and another playtester expressed her will to play, but had to GM in another gaming table. As a record of the events is essential for MC, I started to post the Theme Document and a brief session summary in a private forum we have. After a while, I've decided to share it in order to hear your comments and improve our gaming. I'm sorry about the fact that I've not been so exhaustive taking notes about conflicts and game facts as I've seen in other AP posts.

One last thing to note: the setting as the players set it has a strong religious content, with a situation resembling the Medieval Black Death in some extent. I hope no one takes our setting as an offense to any religion, specially the Christian Church (I'm a Catholic, for those who matter).

And so it was... ;)

"Malleus Malleficarum"

In a not so far away future, Old Europe's population is been decimated by the Plague, a strange disease whose cure is monopolized by the Catholic Church. The cure is indeed magical, and there are not many Clergy able to cure it. This has brought a religious fanaticism around the Catholic religion, the only one which seems capable of holding the Plage, although unable to erradicate it. The Inquisition has returned, and all the other cults are considered Heresy, specially the ones which include supernatural capabilities.

Technology is scarce, as it is controlled and limited by the Church, and the resources are running low. Some advanced technology gadgets are still usable in the usual way, but the capability of creating and repairing them is long forgotten, destroyed by the Church, and residing only in the senile minds of the elder, the few originary survivors to the Plague.

- Tone: Decandence, apocalyptic future, opression, fanaticism.
- Setting: Paris and nearby towns. Studio pitch: "Haunting of the Heretics in Christian Europe".

- Supernatural:
Magic is a common fact (Clergy make "miracles", heretics perform "rituals", etc.), and it's always linked to a religious or mystic cult (Christians, Muslims, Druids, voodoo, mythology, etc.).
There are power places and/or moments as dictated by each religion, and so, differing between magic "styles".
The general feel of magic depends in the beliefs of the conjurer.
There are no magic creatures.
In order to use magic, you need to be born with the capability and later learn to use it, be it a master-pupil teaching, standard teaching, universities...
Moderate-low magic level: 10 magic tokens, 3 power tokens per each new magic token.

- Situation:
Hunting Heretics.
Power struggles within the Church: Traditionalists vs. Reformists.
Social rebellion: fighting against the opulence of the rich.
Damage control and avoiding the contagion of the Plague.

- Villains:
Reformist bishops (Player characters are mainly Inquisitors).
"Holy man" who is said to cure the Plague.
"The Alchemist" (inspired in the one appearing in the film "Vidocq"): parisian rebel/heretic leader.
Neo-catharist heretic cult.

That's it by now. I'm posting more in the following days, but the translations are costly. I hope not to have bored you with my ramblings, and I'm looking forward to read suggestions, comments or simply greetings. Thank you all again for all the good work done in this forum.


Brennan Taylor

Thanks, Jokin! It's great to hear that you got the game humming, and the Black Death setting sounds really interesting. I appreciate you taking the trouble to write such a long post in another language!

I'm looking forward to hearing about the characters you had in your game.


Hello again!

Thanks for the reply, Brennan. Here are the player character descriptions as they were created, alongside the name of the players behind them: Magical aptitudes are marked with asterisks.

Alonso de Beauville, played by César.
Redeeming Inquisitor with consciencie. Tormented man.
Novice. Force: 2 - Grace: 2 - Will: 3 - Wits: 3
Prayer* - 3
Orator - 2
Soldier - 1
Investigator - 1

Love for mankind - 2
Duty: Regain the prosperous times - 2
Fear to the Plague - 1

Pools: Power: 3 - Passion: 3 - Action: 6 - Magic: 10

François Carrefour, played by Luis aka. Kender (his favourite breed in D&D).
Heretic-hunter Inquisitor. Absolutely fanatic, convinced and brutal.

Novice. Force: 3 - Grace: 2 - Will: 4 - Wits: 1
Prayer* - 3
Thug - 2
Priest- 2

I hate Heretics - 2
I love violence - 1
Duty: Towards the Church - 1
Fear: To fail God - 1

Pools: Power: 3 - Passion: 4 - Action: 7 - Magic: 10

Hans Kilsner, played by Josito (that's the diminutive for Joseph).
Obstinate Inquisitor, fanatic and tradicionalist.

Veteran. Force: 2 - Grace: 4 - Will: 4 - Wits: 1
Prayer* - 1
Interrogator - 2
Soldier - 4
Historian - 1
Priest - 1

I hate Heresy - 2
Duty: To keep the hierarchy of the Church - 1
Love: Study of the History of the Church -1
Duty: Fulfill the Ten Commandments - 1

Pools: Power: 2 - Passion: 4 - Action: 7 - Magic: 10

Jules DeVereaux, played by Christian.
Witch hunter, gunslinger. I enjoy shooting and follow orders.

Veteran. Force: 2 - Grace: 5 - Will: 2 - Wits: 2
Prayer* - 4
Sharpshooter - 5

Hate: The Alchemist - 2
Duty: To serve the Church - 3

Pools: Power: 2 - Passion: 2 - Action: 8 - Magic: 10

Later a fifth player joined the party, and I forgot to note down his character until some sessions were played, so I'll describe him in a following post. Regarding the characters, there were some interesting concepts and passions to play about, markedly the ones of Kilsner and Alonso for the long time, and the recurring "I hate Heretics/Heresy". Funny enough, I first tough them to be the same, but a more deep thinking show that they can be quite different. I'm thinking in some way to exploit those for some neat inter-PC conflict.

I'm asking here agein for criticism regarding the broadness of Aptitudes and suitability of Passions, and I'm open to suggestions. Anyway, the real deal of rules questions will come later when summarizing the sessions and showing you the Magical Facts. My players are quite a munchkin-like group in some ways, and it will show... :)



Hello again everyone.

Oh my! More than two weeks since the last post :( Time runs amok when you are busy. Sorry. Time for NPCs and some questions regarding them.

Doménico Savonarola
Reformist bishop.

Veteran. Force: 2 - Grace: 2 - Will: 3 - Wits: 4
Prayer* - 1
Orator - 4
Bishop - 3
Gardener - 1

Hate: Fanaticism - 2
Love to the Church - 2
Fear to the Alchemist - 1

Pools: Passion: 3 - Action: 7

Mambo Antoinette
Voodoo Priestess/Quack.

Veteran. Force: 1 - Grace: 3 - Will: 4 - Wits: 3
Voodoo* - 3
Dancer - 4
Midwife - 2

I must cure everyone who asks for - 3
Love: Peace - 1
Fear to a violent death - 1

Pools: Passion: 3 - Action: 7

The Alchemist
Heretic in search of immortality.

Ancient. Force: 4 - Grace: 4 - Will: 3 - Wits: 2
Alchemy* - 4
Torturer - 2
Biologist - 3
Acrobatic warrior - 5

Hate: Mankind - 2
I must reach immortality - 3

Pools: Passion: 2 - Action: 8

Later in the game, the players found a Catharist young woman.

Novice. Force: 1 - Grace: 4 - Will: 2 - Wits: 3
Catharist* - 2
Ingénue - 3
Housewife - 2

Hate: Inquisitors - 2
Love: Catharism - 3

Pools: Passion: 2 - Action: 7

Those NPCs have appeared during the play sessions, excepting Mambo Antoinette, who is the "holy man" (a woman really) "villain" curing the Plague. As specified in the rulebook, they basically cover the PC's passions and villains in the Theme Document. Now for the questions:

1. Are magical aptitudes stated correctly? I mean, should the Prayer be covered by Priest or Bishop? I think it's not the case, taking Savonarola as an example: his Bishop level 3 accounts for his hierarchy and/or Faith, but his Prayer aptitude should be lower...

2. The level in the magical aptitudes should be important? How can this be supported by the rules? That is, could anyone state some examples for this? One thing I have  in my mind deals with a Price for a magical fact that forces a minimum level in the aptitude in order to function, but what about using the aptitude in conflicts?

3. Are "compound" prices legal or can be veto-ed by the players or the GM as abussive?

4. As players advance in the game, they can use their Power tokens to raise PCs' Aptitudes. Can the GM use his/hers to advance the NPCs' to keep up some balance? I'm not meaning to spend the spare tokens I still have at the end of the session just for pumping up mi NPCs. Should I better use them in conflicts as Action tokens instead?

Enough for a post. Now, the real deal: a brief summary of the first session and the facts added to the Theme Document during that session. Thanks again for reading :)



10th March 2007 - Play session summary:

The Library of La Sorbonne, now specialized in Theology, is having unwanted visitors tonigth, Rumours name the Alchemist, so the Inquisitors have been sent there to reconnoiter the zone. They are not an assault group though. Could this be an ambush?

Investigation gives its fruits: Alonso de Beauville finds bishop Savonarola picking a book up with him. Even though, the bishop finally convinces hte young Inquisitor resorted to his moral authority within the Church (Savonarola won thsi conflict). This covering up was later noticed by the suspicious Hans Kilsner.

Meanwhile, Jules DeVereaux meets his nemesis again. The Alchemist was actually there, also instereted in the bibliographical funds of La Sorbonne. A magically aided fight starts, "won" by the Alchemist, even though the tricks played by Jules and Harald, the strange healer. Results: a hard strike in the backbone for Jules, and a fall from a window in the second floor for the Alchemist (all this makes more sense when reading the Magic Facts in the Theme Document), who still manages to run away.

The next day, Inquisitors are warned by the mess caused in such a sacred place, and they are also asked about the loss of two books, whose titles are not mentioned...

Facts added to the Theme Document:
- Jules owns two magic pistols that shoot fire projectiles, but only damage evil people. As said during play: "They are guns with conscience".

- There is a Prayer that gives you an angelic appearance, but heretics see it as a bad icon of their own religion (+2/-2 to Actions dealing with giving orders, convincing people, etc.)

- The waving of the Alchemist's tunic puzzles the observer, giving him a +2 to evasive Actions, but every usage of this power Fatigues him (spend an Action token).

- "The Hunter's Fervor": You can project towards an enemy in your line of sight, reaching the place where he/she is, but you are only capable to see him/her, the rest of your sight being so blurry (tunnel vision effect).

- The cape of the Alchemist mingles with the surroundings, making him almost invisible, but the faster he moves, the more visible he becomes.

- "Grease": a prayer causes the target terrain to become covered with grease, making an slippey surface, but is your own corporal grease that festers, causing you a Light Wound.

- A Prayer allows you to move things with the mind, but affects only inanimate objects.

--> A description added by a player with a power token made all Prayers and Masses, etc. in the Catholic Church to be recited in Latin.

Remaining GM Magic Tokens: 18

The last of the PCs started playing in this session, and took no part on the world creation, but it seemed to fit in very well. Here's his character sheet:

Harald Hestnaes (Tomás - Kilburn)
Plague Healer, disguised in a Medieval Plague medic suit.

Veteran. Force: 3 - Grace: 2 - Will: 3 - Wits: 3
Prayer* - 3
Surgeon - 3
Torturer - 3

I hate the weak - 2
Duty: to heal the Plague - 3

Power Pool: 6 - Passion Pool: 2 - Action Pool: 6 - Magic Pool: 6 (All values referred to the end of the session)

I'm very sorry about the lack of data about the conflicts themselves, but I was not thinkin about posting here in that time. We are playing again this weekend before the exams+summer stop, so I'll try to be more concise. I'm looking forward to any comment about the Magical Facts. Now, it's time for me to go to bed ;)