Friday, November 27, 2015

Wrath of the Righteous: Demon's Heresy Some More

During this week plenty happens with a new PC called Dantalian entering the field (and a new player) who is a Mythic CN Half-Succubus of Calistria Magus/Cleric who is the son of the CN succubus Arushalae (hence being CN himself).  Alphy Hernaste meets him when he assaults the Mythic Vrock who was attempting to perform a ritual to turn Dantalion into a full succubus (and some imprisoned paladins into demons as well). 
The battle with the Vrock goes down easily enough, but not too easily, and Dantalian's half-succubus status and benefits really lets him shine which is good because both player and character are totally new to the campaign and so the roleplay spotlight is more typically centred on Alphy (for now). 

Vorimeraak had a watcher, however.  Two Blackfire Adepts and none other than Xanthir Vang who covered his own retreat with a Mythic Cloud Kill that had even the poison immune Dantalian flying for cover.  It was their first brush with the Worm That Walks.
Alphy Hernaste has to convince the people of Drezen that this new half-succubus totally isn't evil ... which is difficult yet not impossible due to the presence of the half-invidiak boy.  Yes, I know the themes of the game are meant to be one of shock and awe that there's a neutral succubus but a) I've always figured Calistria's CN vengeance demons were redeemed succubi and b) I'm not comfortable with the idea that there's literally dozens of ways to turn a person evil against their will and banish their souls to hell with plenty of corrupted angels and the like in the various game lines yet only one redeemed demon.  Also I knew my players would love it.
They still loved dealing with Arushalae, though her interactions with her son are still pretty awkward.  Dantalian calls her "mother", though, which is cute.  They rescued her from the old Desnan temple during an Abyssal Storm of Vengeance (which I rolled on the weather table) and had to deal with a dozen Warped Ones at the same time.  This kept things interesting for them.  Quantity of enemies, and variety, seem to keep the battles exciting over single enemies which they take out very easily through concentrated fire.  They then contrived a way to bring the bell back to Drezen.  It was all very epic and dramatic and we enjoyed it immensely. 
Proximity to so much demonic energy causes Alphy Hernaste's eyes to glow yellow and his horns to enlarge as he becomes more clearly demonic, slowly shifting toward a half-demon of unknown type (player still doesn't know which demon he's twisting towards).  He gains a few extra abilities, though still doesn't match the half-succubus just yet.
Then they had returned Drezen only to reveal Arushalae (from Demon's Heresy).  They put Arushalae (publicly) through a series of trials to prove to the populace that she has truly repented.  This included having her bathe in holy water (a sight to behold), submit to various spells (including a Smite Evil) and questioning her under various truth spells.  While her arrival (and the half-fiend) did increase discontent, thus far his efforts have prevented a literal riot or uprising.
Then they head out to take down the woundwyrm, after a few failed teleports they locate it in its lair and proceed to slowly take it apart.  It was a fun battle, though reasonably easy, as I'd anticipated but just tricky enough to keep it from being a push over.  I maximised its hit die and that seemed to do the trick though next time I'd be tempted to double it and make them a mated pair as action economy really does matter in this game.
Dantalian is contacted through the Dream Spell by Jerribeth, servant of Baphomet, who lives in the Sanctum of the Ivory Labyrinth and is a Glabrezu in the disguise of a beautiful elven woman.  He's tempted but sure it's a trap so defers a response until their arrival.  Once they get to the temple they happen to go the right way and meet Jerribeth in the flesh.  After a little more questioning, they decide to attack her.  She goes down pretty quickly due to being grappled by a monk and thus unable to do very much, which was probably a good thing, because her full attacks are vicious.

(NOTE: As you may have noticed, a lot of the key moments are being placed in Dantalian's lap at this stage to help the new player gain some investment and enough limelight since Alphy already has deep ties to everything else without any need for effort on my part.)
They take out a few more bad guys and then find a note left on the door of the workshop from the Blackfire Adepts saying they will kindly stay out of the way of the adventurers if they aren't attacked.  The PCs want to barrel in and knock them out.  Aravashniel (NPC tagalong roleplayed by me and controlled in combat by Dantalian's player) wants them to kill the Blackfire Adepts.  Arushalae (NPC tagalong roleplayed by me and controlled by Alphy Hernaste's player) wants them to leave the room alone because if they spook them there's a good chance they'll teleport away -- likely to provide the Big Bad support if they're forced to choose a side.

Or at least that's what I thought would happen.  Instead Alphy kicked open the door and they managed to lay everyone out in the first round / counterspell the one effort to Dimension Door that was attempted.  So they now have four Blackfire Adept prisoners.  They did keep one under Arushalae's charm effect so that they could interrogate the person about the Sanctum.  Once they heard about the treasure room, they quickly knocked him out and went looking.  Alphy smashed in the wall and they quickly took out the daemon before retreating to use Mage Hand to bring out a few special items.

I can't remember where they found it -- here or elsewhere -- but they got their hand on a Necklace of Strangulation which they discerned to be an Amulet that allowed both water breathing and protection from gases.  Since they knew of Xanthir Vang's cloud kill, they decided to give it to Aravashniel.  Luckily Aravashniel didn't wear the necklace yet, as he already had a good amulet but kept it just in case.

Dantalian also found within the recess a deck of Harrow Cards and a Starknife from his mortal father -- a Riftwarden whom Xanthir Vang claimed to have killed.  In truth, he hadn't.  His father was the Desnan priest whose dreams Arushalae entered while he lay dying.  In penance, Arushalae aimed to infiltrate Xanthir Vang under the pretence of being a different demonic succubus.  This would be revealed later on.  For now, Xanthir Vang contacted Dantalian telepathically and goaded him into assaulting him in the foyer by claiming to have slain his father.

It worked.  The group headed toward the foyer and at the last moment, after ensuring they had a few buffs on them, Alphy ran out and to the left to strike at Xanthir Vang who seemed to stand alone with two Blackfire Adepts and four Templars of the Ivory Labrynth and ... ran into the invisible leg of a retriever.  The retriever attacked him and cast a ray at him, but Alphy nimbly dodged.  Then Dantalian attempted to back down a set of stairs to the right and ran into another demon.
I had basically had all of the other enemies in the Labyrinth meet in the foyer and had most of them placed into invisibility by Xanthir Vang using a basic spell.  The man they thought was Xanthir was merely covered in semi-sentient demonic worms and was a Blackfire Adept himself while Xanthir hung back in Greater Invisibility.  For Templars I used non-mythic versions of Staunton Vhane -- which gave Alphy's player a real moment of shocked joy as he easily pummelled a multitude of copies of the same character who had given him such pause earlier on.
The battle was fun and interesting and worked out much better than if I had Xanthir Vang stand alone.  Although none of the characters were at real risk (except for Aravashniel), the players felt the tension and pulled out all stops to win.  A single Disintegrate spell from Xanthir nearly took out Aravashniel, dealing massive damage, and he used one of his spells to dart closer to the entrance.  An invisible Xanthir Vang flew over in one round while everyone rushed about, and threatened to kill Aravashniel with a Cloud Kill should he attempt to act.
Aravashniel almost put on the Necklace of Strangulation to survive the Cloud Kill, but before he could act (in his turn), Dantalian struck him with a card which had a Word of Recall spell set on it which knocked him back to Drezen.  He arrived in Drezen, clutching the necklace, but like any good Mendevian crusader he put the object down because, let's face it, you never randomly put on any magical jewellery in the Worldwound without extensive study if you can help it.
I explained to the players what nearly happened, as Aravashniel would mention it later to their characters but the close call would resonate more if the revelation occurred in the same session.  The expressions on their faces was gratifying.  It was all the more satisfying that it didn't kill him, merely almost did.  It showed the dangers of the Worldwound without hampering it with frustration or loss.
They made short work of Xanthir Vang's allies, so Xanthir chased them with the Mythic Cloud Kill (slowly) through the labyrinth but they found a place where they could circle around it so he drew it back to the entrance to keep out the crusaders and disappeared.  He had no chance to succeed at this point, after all.  I'll keep having him plague them as time wears on but he doesn't stand a chance in combat against them.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Rack Mini-Game

In my vampire: the requiem LARP, because I just love accounting or perhaps just love to torture myself, keep a separate set of calculations for each of the Racks which show how many points are necessary to raise or lower the rack to the next level.  These Racks are represented by suburbs and have two values - one for animal blood and one for human blood.  The North Western Barrens, for example, is good for animals but bad for feeding on humans.  Each Rack has a particular Rack value which also represents the number of vampires it can freely support without losing any points due to humans growing suspicious, animals become skittish, or the overall vibe of the area changing.

                It takes 10 points to raise or lower a Rack with a value of 1.

                It takes 15 points to raise or lower a Rack with a value of 2.

                It takes 20 points to raise or lower a Rack with a value of 3.

                It takes 30 points to raise or lower a Rack with a value of 4.

                It takes 50 points to raise or lower a Rack with a value of 5.

                Consider the Rack value as a range of feeding checks it can take before losing any points.  So if the CBD Rack has a 2/2 rack value, 2 feeding checks can occur there without any problem.  If there are three OR four feeding checks, the rack loses a single point.  It's only when a fifth feeding check occurs there that it would lose an additional point.  So long as a rack is being groomed, it can take a few hits without faltering.  Each downtime spent on boosting or damaging the Rack typically provides a single point though additional points may be added or taken away for truly spectacular actions.

                Methods of boosting a rack include:

·         Increasing tourism.

·         "Safe" supernatural encounters or expectations (i.e. ghost tours).

·         Scandal.

·         Drugs that increase risk-taking behaviours.

·         Drugs or events that reduce helpful bystander actions.

·         Encourage public use of "owned" security / medical personnel on the streets.

·         Encouraging homeless populace to settle in that region.

·         Keeping said homeless populace out of the public eye.

·         Festivals and nightclub strips.

·         Summer season (for beach Racks).

·         Late night shopping.

·         Late closing.

·         Ennui and indifference to other people.

·         Indifferent police.

·         Parklands that are not dry zones.

·         Car parking in dark and out of the way places.

·         Animal farms (for animals).

·         Rubbish strewn streets (for animals).

·         Access to more Barrens (for animals).


                Methods of damaging a rack include:

·         Recent murders.

·         Public violence.

·         Visible criminal activity.

·         Winter season (for beach Racks).

·         Sobriety programs and designated drivers.

·         Encouraging people to stay in groups.

·         Terrifying supernatural encounters.

·         Effective communities and neighbourhood watch groups.

·         Active hunter cells.

·         Uncontrolled security guards and cameras.

·         Early closing of shops and clubs.

·         Motivated and reliable police.

·         Pest control programs and stray catching (for animals).

·         Feeding check mishaps.

·         Overfeeding.
Thus it encourages a rack mini-game among the players to sink in enough downtimes to off-set the huge amounts of blood they have to draw off the locations in order to heal, use their disciplines and otherwise deal with all of the monsters lurking around the Adelaide plots.