Appeasing the giant?

5 February, 2008 at 9:51 pm (Burning vikings, Burning Wheel) (, , , , )

I’m pretty busy with schoolwork for the time being, so pardon the lack of interesting posts. They’ll be back sometimes within three months, I hope.

These AP reports are now linked from actualplay.com, which seems to be a bit slow right now. Link: http://actualplay.com/actual_play_directory.php?id=661

Session report

Second session of the pretty fast-moving BW campaign. The scenes may not be in actual order they were played in, but the continuum of any given character should work. I jump pretty quickly between players and detailing that after the occasion is next to impossible.

Scene 1

Mori, Thalin’s char, goes herb-gathering. To be more precise, he wants to gather an herb thatwhen prepared successfully, in addition to killing someone, will also age that someone in appearance. I set the foraging difficulty at 3: pretty hard. I don’t know if that kind of poison exists or anything, but it was reasonable enough a suggestion from Thalin, so there it goes. Consequence for failure would have been encountering Nässla, Mori’s now-bitter witch mentor, who had just gathered what Mori was looking fo. That way the herbs would still have been available and I could have introduced a relationship and some potential conflict. Alas, Thalin succeeded at the foraging roll with the help of bonus dice from herbalism and poisons-skills. Mori gets the material for said poison and decides to meet Nässla, first getting some eggs he was supposed to deliver before getting on the raiding trip.

Nässla would have commented the lack of eggs, had Mori not went to get them.

Scene 2

Halvard (played by wgaztari) and Brunhildr (by ksym) activate a bit later. Brunhildr wants to find his family and asks about, getting the response that only Leif (Halvard’s brother) knows where they are. Halvard tries to get her mother to talk with no effect and to eat with some small effect. I felt like I was blocking a lot there. I definitely need to keep my mental image of who has done what out of the way of good gaming. Blocking isn’t fun.

Leif comes in and is engaged by Brunhildr and Halvard. It is quickly discovered that he was visiting the dead Thorvald and has no excuse to not let Halvard visit him, too. He asks his guards to stay at the house; what evil could come to him with his brother, they great hero, at his side? I did this for two reasons. The first was to give Halvard the opportunity for some bloody-handed murdering. It was interesting to see if such would happen. The second was to imply that Brunhildr should also be left behind, which did happen. This was done solely to ratchet up the tension: Would she do something stupid to get to her family?

Scene 3

Halvard and Leif get to the cellar that is used to “store” Thorvald. Some knocking, Grímr (Brunhildr’s husband) opens. The cellar is small, lit by a total of two torches. Thorvald lies on a makeshift bunk atop some barrels (reminder to self: always barrels or chests, never boxes). He is covered by various herbs, put there by Grímr. Their purpose is to keep the body in shape, to keep the smell down and to keep rests away. Death was not by violence. The players fixated on solving a murder mystery, so they’ll get one. Gilla Brunhildrsdottir is sleeping in corner wrapped in a heavy cloak.

There is some exchange of words between Leif and Halvard; Leif manages to insult Halvard for the third or fourth time; Halvard tries intimidating him, but only wins his disdain (failed intimidation without the skill). I’m not really happy with this roll; the consequences of failure should have been more tangible. Leif leaves the cellar.

Scene 4

During all this, Brunhildr does some scounting of the area, mainly about where the giant went the last time. I was floundering, no roll to make, nothing interesting happened. After that (possibly after some out-of-game spurring of ksym; encouraging the players to do something is a thing I do, for better or worse) Brunhildr gets sneaky and decides to just randomly wander to where her family might be, in the hopes of somebody getting out of the hidden place and revealing it. Her (unskilled) inconspicous roll is successful, which means that she happens to see Leif coming from the cellar, walking to her direction but not noticing her. (Failing the roll would have meant that she bumps on Leif some distance from the location and looks suspicious skulking thereabouts; I stated as much to players.) Brunhildr calmly walks past him, “accidentally” pushing him a bit (and ksym gains artha for playing his character as the thug she is).

Brunhildr enters the temporary crypt. There is a happy reunion, which I am uncomfortable or unable to play. I need to practice more. Getting comfortable with emotional scenes is a matter of playing (or living) through enough of them. Anyway. It is found out that Leif has been bringing gifts to Gilla Brunhildrsdottir, who has something of a fever (and is still deep asleep). After some time Halvard and Brunhildr leave.

Scene 5

Mori grabbed some eggs from the livestock that currently resided in the great hall. None asked pointed questions (inconspicuous). He went to Nässla’s hut, which is sort of small. Nässla is there cataloguing his herbs. I mentioned the herb Mori just had gathered were some Nettle was throwing away due to them being old, but Thalin didn’t catch on. It probably won’t become relevant, given Thalin didn’t make it so. Maybe it was intentional.

Nässla asks Mori to make food. The materials have been waiting for him all the time. They look like it. Mori chooses to go to the village yet one more time, searching for other foodstuff this time. Some inconspicuous linked to (successful roll gives a bonus die to the next relevant roll; failure adds difficulty; exactly succeeding does nothing) falsehood later Mori returns with new foodstuff and wants to appease Nässla by making a fabulous dinner. This is a bit suspicious, given how the relevant contact is characterised by rivalry or hatred. I set the difficulty at 3; Thalin makes the roll. Nässla is pleased with the food and doesn’t throw too many cutting remarks on Mori’s way. Maybe, just maybe, Mori can win over his former mentor.

Nässla tells Mori to get Gilla to him. She has shown some talent. Mori gets on the way, arrives to the village, where all the PCs are together (rare enough an event even without me arranging it whenever possible). They all decide to go see Gilla and the late Thorvald to see if Mori can tell why he died and possible even to treat Gilla, though Brunhildr is not delighted at the idea of Mori doing anything to her.

Scene 6

Gilla is still asleep. Mori investigates the corpse, Thalin rolls poisons with maybe some dice from fields of related knowledge such as assassination-wise; success and Mori discovers the reason of death with Thalin deciding how it came to be; failure and the same happens but the reasoning Thalins gives is the wrong one; I tell both of these to the players. Thalin is successful (not a big surprise given Mori’s grey poisons skill). Successful roll and some narration after: Thorvald was killed by poisoned barb disguised in an amulet. Poison was very rare due to being foreign. I got to check the name with Thalin but I think it was something to the effect of “maiden’s kiss” or “tears”. Grímr recalled some foreign trader who sold furs and some suspicious material visited but left quickly after being shown general dislike. Suspicions are thrown on Leif.

Thalin was a bit uncertain, possibly thinking that he maybe was overstepping his bounds. I might have contributed to that with my body language, as I had not expected him to seize quite as much authority on the fiction as he did. Worked out well in the end.

Brunhildrs specifically asks Mori to keep away from Gilla. He doesn’t do that, of course, but checks her health as the others are discussing something else. Failed inconspicuous and he gathers some attention. I don’t remember if there were any notable consequences. A bad roll, overall.

Leif ordered Grímr and Gilla to stay there, but Halvard orders Gilla taken away (with no little pushing from Brunhildr and Mori). Brunhildr carries her away. Before that, Mori grabs some herbs and fails sleight of hand against Grímr, who is not pleased and recommends Brunhildr to keep Gilla away from Mori.

On the way to the hall Gilla finally wakes up. Halvard continues on, Mori stays between. There is some confusion, greetings, and finally Gilla tells to Brunhildr that she has occasionally seen Thorvald around his body. He seems to be full of hatred or fear. Actual talking has not happened.

Scene 7

The giant is coming. Everyone knows this. Preparations happen with great hurry. Halvard and the others dig up a grave to get a replacement body to offer to the giant in place of Thorvald.

That’s pretty severe breach of all possible laws, but nobody is complaining, as long as the giant is tricked.

This asks for command rolls to get the people dig and do it before the giant gets there. Brunhildr and some men go get two chests of treasure so that Brunhildr still has tiem to help with organising the digging project. Far too many successes are rolled by wgaztari, which means there is plenty of time to get the body done (linked test). Halvard gets Thorvald’s equipment. Disguise is done. Again, many successes. Well disguised. Things look promising, don’t they?

Scene 8

Mori sneaks away to meet the giant (this probably happened earlier, but it doesn’t really matter that much). Upon meeting (no rolls needed because Nifur the giant is a relationship and they can generally be found when requested), Nifur picks Mori up. Mori divulges the main points of the plan, but also asks the giant to not kill everyone quite yet, because there is about to be a battle between the two would-be-leaders and this is likely to weaken the settlement and also warns about two formidable warriors (that would be Halvard and Brunhildr). Mori also asks the giant to not harm any young girls (that would be Gilla), because he needs one of them. Giant more-or-less agrees. Mori wants to know why Nifur is after Thorvald’s body, and Nifur says that Thorvald killed his father an he is here to pay the debt back. One can see the forming of a magnificent bastard PC, which I guess is the archetype Thalin gravitates towards. Insufficient gaming experience with him to be certain.

After the deal with the giant, Mori gets back in and starts cooking for Gilla.

Scene 9

Here be giants. Nifur enters the village. Parley time. First we roleplay a bit of negotiation, me as the giant and Brunhildr mostly speaking for the village. Time to roll out Duel of Wits, the extended social resolution in BW. No participant has haggling (Mori has but is inside), Nifur has will 5 against Brunhildr’s 4. I recruit Thalin to help the players with scripting and give him a cheat sheet (given that Mori is not involved). I script (plan three actions ahead of time what Nifur does) first and then let the players discuss, answering any questions they have. I don’t change Nifur’s scripts based on what I hear (that would be cheating) but do script to the best of my ability. Round by round, everyone declares their actions and they are cross-referenced in a handy table. Small part of dialog is mandatory. The stakes are that this confrontation determines how much treasure the giant will want; base obstacle is 3 (formidable), -2 for total victory of players, -1 for partial, +0 for draw, +1 for Nifur’s victory, +2 in case of total victory to Nifur. End result is that Nifur barely wins; Nifur retains one dice out of the five he started with. Also: DoW without relevant skills makes rebuttal a poor choice. Resource obstacle: 4. Quite hard.

During this all Halvard went to ask for Mori, but failed a conspicuous test and didn’t manage to get his attention before too late.

Halvard orders the body brought to Nifur, who promptly picks it by, rips the armour off, pulls out the man’s heart and swallows it whole. Pretty hardcore. I should have asked for steel tests here, but, alas.

After that is the payback time. Resource test tells if Nifur is satisfied with what he got. Halvard gets all the treasure they looted or traded for, puts his meagre possession and contacs in play to get some extra stuff on top of that, but decides to not use the village’s winter stash. Mori is hired to prepare some food for the giant, which is a linked test. Mori fails, which implies +1 Ob which means obstacle 5. Not gonna work. Dice are rolled. Artha is burned. 3 successes. The giant is not happy. He shrugs, grabs a few chests and lumbers off with them. Nobody attacks.

Scene 10

Mori succeeds at cooking to win Gilla’s favour. I am a bit uncomfortable playing out a seduction with one of my best friends and getting tired, so the detailed discussion is glossed over. Thalin rolls persuade to get Gilla’s trust, but fails, which means that Gilla succumbs to fever and sleep before anything happens.

Everyone goes to sleep, Mori in his own cottage.

Spoilers and other stuff my players might not want to read

I’m getting a good grip on using the rules. BW works best when the rules are actually used, a lot. Artha is still a bit rare, though. I also have a problem with forgetting Steel tests.

Future plans: There have been questions about getting grey shade (heroic) weapons, which are capable of killing any man with a single strike and can severely wound even a giant. I might oblige, but there will be a price, and it won’t be light. Nässla probably knows about some suitable artefact. I’m thinking that every time the blade draws blood, some relationship is poisoned, some reputation tarnished, or some affiliation lost, in that order. A proper name is Níðingr, which basically means utter shame. The weapon is held by a former troll king, now residing in solitude, ruling over an empty realm. If the players don’t bite, they’ll need to get imaginative to deal with the giant.

I’m thinking Nässla was involved in poisoning Thorvald, if not the poisoner. Leif will most certainly confront Brunhildr or Halvard about Gilla’s present location. Nifur will come back to get his loot and after that is done, he will be there to get the real Thorvald. He may consult Mori or Nässla before that. Nässla is likely not friendly. Gilla will, if the dice will so, be charmed by Mori. That’ll end well when Brunhildr hears about the occasion. Leaving the village to hunt for fabulous swords of mass destruction is a bit risky and will be seen as cowardice or worse unless Leif is handled first.

Nifur is out to eat Thorvald’s heart so that he can get back the might Thorvald stole from his father when eating that one’s heart. If he can’t get Thorvald, maybe his sons will suffice. This needs to be communicated to at least Mori so as to ratchet up the tension a bit.

1 Comment

  1. Chip said,

    That’s a nice adventure. Try visit my blog for some material I used to play with. Now it’s just shareware.

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