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5/01/2019 3:29 pm  #11

Re: Honor + Intrigue Campaign: 1666

We began exactly as we left off last time. The PCs have surprise round against 4 slavers, two of whom have children at gunpoint in an effort to force their fathers to fight to the death for their amusement. Most of the PCs are also shaking with rage that will only ease when they finally kill one of the slavers.Scene 1 Cave Fight overview[/url] by epochrpg Julie managed to fall on one instantly without alerting the others, slicing him in the shoulder, but leaving him alive. Angus and Ali Funda employed some parkour on the rock face and stalagmites to behead a slaver each. The slavers standing atop the cage was shot by Girard, then falling to be impaled on a stalagmite below. Using his exceptional speed, Stanislaus crossed the entire chamber and slew a slaver before he could think to level his pistol. Ariel drew blood but did not snuff a slaver's life, her rage continues to simmer… The PCs managed to kill all four slavers before they had a chance to react, allowing them to rescue the captives. Evelyn was able to communicate (very poorly) with some of the captives (thanks to her years as an explorer in the past). They were able to find out how many other captives there are, and which of the slavers they most fear-- the Overseer. The PCs asked where they could find him and the captives pointed them towards a slanting corridor. Ali Funda examined them, seeing that many were sick with rheumatism, scurvy, and malnourishment.  Evelyn placed Dupris in charge of taking care of them till it was safer to leave. When he opened a barrel to look for food, a cloud of black powder wafted up (and towards the fire pit). With lightning speed, Julie used her cape to scoop it up before it set off a chain reaction! They also realized that the gangplank set up between the two cages could be used as a makeshift bridge to help escape the area where the minecart tracks had broken across a chasm earlier. The PCs began making their way down the slanting corridor. The floor was at a steep angle leading to a very deep chasm along the right side of the corridor While others began pulling out ropes and pitons and making some sort of plan to most safely cross the unsafe floor, Stanislaus dashed forward and proceeded to slip and fall, catching himself on the edge of the cliff. I gave him a Fortune Point (being 1 armed is VERY inconvenient on the side of a cliff) which he spent to catch himself on the ledge). Down below, he could see the glitter of gold scattered along with a number of human bones. Because Stanislaus has only one arm, he was left hanging and unable to lift himself up. Angus ended up serving as the anchor of a rope team which eventually hoisted him up. The PCs made their way to a tunnel where they could hear the clank of metal on stone, as well as the crack of a whip, and men with rough voices shouting commands. Once again, stealth was abandoned in favor of a full frontal assault. 8 captives were seen mining the walls of a large chamber under the watch of four guards and an overseer, a giant of a man called LeBeuf with a long oiled mustache and beard and a whip in his hand. Julie rushed LeBeuf who sidestepped the attack. He then countered by lashing his whip to bind her, then looped it around her neck with a flick of his powerful wrist. Her vision began to go red as her windpipe was being crushed. Stanislaus came to her aid with a well-placed lunging thrust, but rather than yield, the man stood and took the hit. Angus also joined the fray, chopping the whip in half, giving Julie much needed air.[url=]LeBeuf vs three heroes[/url] by epochrpg Other party members attacked the other slavers in the chamber, both Girard and Evelyn grievously wounding two with their firearms despite the poor lighting conditions. Ali Funda and Ariel killed and wounded another two slavers. The slavers made their attacks, not doing any damage (both missing and PCs yielding advantage) but completely turned their backs on their captives, who even in their weakened condition, raised their pick axes high and fell upon their tormentors like a wave. The only slaver who yet lived was LeBeuf. At the top of the next round, LeBeuf pulled a dagger and grappled Julie with his right hand and followed with a knife thrust (called shot) for 6 damage. This would have dropped her, but Evelyn's soothsaying ability gave Julie the necessary Fortune point to reduce the damage by 2, allowing her to remain conscious. After this, a bevy of attacks was launched at LeBeuf, who had little choice but to Yield Advantage or spend Fortune. Surprisingly, Stanislaus offered him surrender, which Sargent Girard confirmed, reminding LeBeuf that the law will likely hang him for his crimes. LeBeuf agrees… they bind his hands and set him on the ground for questioning. Julie, dismayed, wanted to kill him, but the PCs stopped her. With LeBeuf tied up, the PCs take turns questioning him while Ali-Funda tends to Julie’s wounds. Ariel takes the lead in the interrogation and discovers that LeBeuf has a tattoo of a coiled serpent on his right forearm, along with those of all the slavers (LeBeuf’s is more ornate, with a skull and wings on it as well). They discover that the tattoo is a marking of a prison gang located in the notorious island prison “LaRoque” which houses all of the most dangerous men. LeBeuf reveals that his freedom and that of the other slavers was purchased by the Hooded Man from a corrupt warden in exchange for their service. LeBeuf eagerly accepted, and was even more thrilled to discover that the enterprise he was joining was a gold mine, rather than an ordinary gang of brigands. He also told them about the Swede, a gifted engineer who was the leader of this band, the only one who deals directly with the Hooded Man. I then did a cut scene, in which I described a man with a crossbow slung over his back walking into the chamber with the dead guards and empty cages. He began piecing together everything that occurred in the room, right down to the number of attackers and which way they went. He then headed down the slanted corridor along with eight guards from the barracks. The Crossbowman successfully snuck into the chamber where LeBeuf was being interrogated, aided by the darkness, while the PCs, holding torches and backlit by a bonfire in the center of the chamber made excellent targets. This time, the enemy would have the advantage of surprise! Gerhardt took aim and fired a crossbow bolt at Evelyn from the darkness, and though she used a Fortune Point to make it a close call, she was unable to spot where the shot came from. At this point, I called for an Initiative roll and this time the PCs rolled well… but not as well as Gerhardt the crossbowman who ordered the guards “Kill them all” then ran off to warn the Swede. Julie, Stanislaus, Girard, and Ali Funda charged forward into the mass of the guards while Angus and Ariel stayed back to guard their prisoner. Two guards fell beneath the PCs’ swords and shots while Stanislaus had a more reckless plan in mind, lighting a grenade as he ran by the bonfire and hurling it into the pack of them! I then make a secret Initiative roll for the grenade's fuse... Using the distraction to his advantage, LeBeuf managed to knock Angus over and rush past him, making his way out of the cavern’s other entrance at a dead sprint. At this point, the enemy guards went, kicking the grenade forward until it rolled close to the PCs who threw it, as they themselves fled into the corridor. And so we left it… with a fuse sparking down dangerously close to the end...[url=]Bomb Hissing Down by epochrpg In the picture, the d6 is the hissing bomb, and this is exactly where our heroes will begin next session!


6/24/2019 2:55 pm  #12

Re: Honor + Intrigue Campaign: 1666

When we continued, the PCs managed to kick the bomb back just in time to avoid it exploding against them and managed to take out most of the guards simultaneously. After the combat, the party split with some PCs continuing to try and communicate with the prisoners while Angus sprinted after LeBeuf and proceeded to get lost in the honeycomb of tunnels. Angus emerged into an area that was blazingly hot where several forgers were chained to anvils and there was a crucible full of molten gold that was being struck into coins by the forgers. These forgers were overseen by three guards and Saberface, who is also in league with the bandits. Angus was feeling weak from the intense heat of the room (he has the "Feels the Heat" flaw, giving him a Penalty Die on all rolls in such conditions). 

At this point, some of the other players were getting agitated that Angus ran off to do a solo-adventure while the rest of them were doing the responsible (but less fun) thing to help the prisoners get to safety and shelter and find out where Gerhardt went. While it would have perhaps made for a pretty epic-and-cool fight scene, especially because Angus was outnumbered and with a handicap caused by the intense heat, I erred on the side of avoiding combat here so the party would not remain split for the rest of the session. Fortunately, Angus' player also didn't feel like fighting here (with a Penalty Die on all rolls and being outnumbered 4-to-1). Angus attempted to Intimidate Saberface into answering his questions in exchange for a promise to let them go (as long as Saberface also freed the chained forgers). In spite of the Penalty Die, Angus spent a Fortune Point to balance the odds and ended up rolling a Mighty Success on his intimidate check. The result was that Saberface agreed to the terms. He answered honestly that he didn't know where LeBeuf or the Swede were, but he did give directions to the Swede's office (on the other side of the caverns closer to where the rest of the party was). At this point, Saberface and the guards left the key with Angus who freed the forgers and took them with him back to the group.

The PCs made their way to the Swede's office (a shack with a table and chairs inside the caverns) and found his map of the caves, his engineer's notes, a journal written in Swedish (which fortunately Ariel could read) which included plans to "destroy the evidence" once the mines are played out, which he estimated to be soon. The Journal also indicated that the Swede had no clear knowledge of who the Hooded Man was, though he was directly working with him as the benefactor of this entire endeavor. At that point, the PCs began searching the caves some more while the prisoners were left with Dupris (and some extra clothing and food) near the cave entrance with instructions to escape should they be attacked.

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6/24/2019 2:57 pm  #13

Re: Honor + Intrigue Campaign: 1666

Our party split up again, this time with Angus and Stanislaus searching for the Swede. Their search brought them to a set of branching tunnels where they saw three fuses burning down 3 different directions! With only 2 of them to give chase, they really had to hustle but managed to cut the fuses before they reached the end.

Reconvening at the fork in the tunnels, Ariel found a secret passage behind some false barrels. This was the escape route that the Swede and his followers took. Ariel's claustrophobia prevented her from following the small tunnel and instead chose to see what the fuss was leading to (her torch went out just as she walked into a room full of barrels of black powder). She chose not to light it again given the circumstances. 

The other PCs followed the tunnel and found a ladder. They climbed up and up until they found a ledge near a waterfall. A rope bridge hung from the cliff, half burned, leaving a 100' drop. The Swede had gotten away.

The party chose to try to sleep in the cave and wait till dawn (and hopefully a break in the snowstorm) to return to town.  

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6/24/2019 2:58 pm  #14

Re: Honor + Intrigue Campaign: 1666

The next session, our heroes emerged from the cave with the light of the sun and milder weather, but knowing that their adversaries had thus far evaded justice. With enough clothing and food, the PCs treked with the weakened prisoners to the relative safety of town. 

They met with "The Black Princess"who commented that it was "such a shame that none of the prisoners survived", and mentioned in passing that the shipping insurance company will be "most put out". None of the PCs tried to disagree with her on this point. She then incidentally handed over travel documents (which just happened to be enough for each prisoner) to Ariel who saw to their safe return home (her player couldn't make this session so this was the reason why). 

The Black Princess then asked the PCs to posit their theories as to who "The Hooded Man" likely was, and most concluded that it was the Chevalier Thenardier on account of his sudden rise to riches and his conflicting accounts as to where his money came from. This was enough to convince her that the Compt du Mornay needed to at least be questioned and ordered the PCs to bring him to see her, and that if he resisted, that they could use force. Stanislaus also made an offer that "someday I would like to have coffee with you, milady" to her, which caused her to raise her one visible eyebrow and reply "perhaps some other time..."

As they were leaving the tavern, they ran into (literally) Seargent Gaspar who told them that some of his men at the military checkpoint complained to him that the Compt and a retinue of men had just hurredly passed the checkpoint in the middle of the night on their way to the city of Bordeaux, where they mentioned they had to be aboard the Vengeful Harpy to sail with the tide. This led the PCs to race to the docks where they spoke to the harbormaster who told them that the ship in question had left hours ago... but that a mere hour ago a furious noble showed up demanding to board the ship... which had left without him. The infuriated noble then hurried off to the stables along with a handful of men. 

When the PCs made it to the stables, they ran into Monsieur Hubert (pronounced "UbeR") the coachman who told them that the Compt had taken his coach and rented a team of horses for his men and road due west as though pursued the devil. The PCs then began to hurry after him, towards the hills leading to the Spanish border... Given that the Compt was using a coach in icy conditions, the PCs with only horses managed to close the gap and a chase scene ensued (in what has become a chase scene tradition at this point in the campaign, Julie's player began playing "I Need a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler on their phone).  
I began employing an alternative chase scene mechanic this session. Instead of rolling Intiative, each participant made a Career test for riding (which I decided which Quality and Careers would be used based on the road conditions that round). What unfolded depended on whether one was "Quarry" or a "Pursuer" in the chase. The objective of the Quarry was to "Shake" their pursuers, creating some additional obstacle for them (tumbling a barrel off the top of a wagon, for instance). If a PC failed to overcome this, they lost 1 Composure. Lose 3 Composure and you are out of the chase. A calamitous failure was instant losing the chase. If the pursuers rolled higher, they got to make a melee or ranged attack (depending on how high they rolled) action against the Quarry (who also got to return fire or exchange blows). Being hit not only caused damage, but also cost 1 Composure. For these chase rules, one could not regain Composure during the chase. Riding with a weapon out also reduced your Career rolls, but drawing a weapon subtracted from your attack rolls.  
What ensued was Julie's horse immediately throwing a shoe (she rolled Calamitous Failure) but Wilhelm rolled a Mighty Success. He asked if he could grab Julie and put her on his own horse, and I said yes, but this would downgrade him to a regular success, which satisfied him. Because he only had 1 arm, he was making the Career checks to ride and Julie would make the fighting checks from their shared horse (and there was also a penalty to the career checks because the horse carried two riders, which was offset by Wilhelm's excellent horsemanship. Evelyn also Calamitously failed to navigate the icy road, but there was no means by which to save her... and her horse was also knocked out of the chase. She managed to avoid injury while landing, however. Ali Funda and Girard managed to evade obstacles swerved at by the Coachman and got close to the coach. Ali Funda delivered a slash to the bit holding the carriage and to the horse team, sending the coachman "sledding" on his belly while the coach began to come to a stop (sho rolled a Mighty Success). I gave Girard a Savvy check which was also a very high roll. He realized that the fancy-dressed noble in the coach was not Thenardier, but one of his henchmen dressed in his clothes! He also noticed that there was a fork in the road and horsemen riding in each direction.. but one of the bandit-thugs just happened to be wearing lace sleeves. He fired a shot, but missed, and told the other PCs to pursue the horsemen veering right.  

With Stanislaus and Julie, Girard and Ali Funda hot on their heels (and a hilarious moment where a horseman was unsaddled by a carefully placed "Tag" at the saddle belt causing the rider to fly off into a fence) they managed to corner Thenardier, who had little choice but to surrender to them.

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6/24/2019 3:01 pm  #15

Re: Honor + Intrigue Campaign: 1666

Le Compt declared his innocence, that he was not the Hooded Man, but merely accepted the money offered by the Hooded Man and followed his instructions to use this money to acquire the position of Compt du Mornay. He swore he did not know where the gold was coming from, assuming it was related to "buying low and selling high" with the coffee caravan between Bordeaux and Paris (this was actually only used to launder the counterfeit* coins). He did not know the true identity of the Hooded Man, only that all the other men involved seemed afraid of him. 

While it was never absolutely proven who the Hooded Man was, there is one conspicuous fact. Among the people who disappeared after the sailing of the Vengeful Harpy (Saberface's ship) was included Signeur Remy du Fontaine, the bully who tried to beat Dupris with his cane after he had spilled a drink on him (which resulted in a confrontation with Alec). This happened at the same party where the Chevalier was seeking help from Porthos to join the Society of the Crimson Plume which snubbed him for being too poor. 

Unfortunately, the PCs had no way to know where Saberface was going to sail to (along with most of the stolen gold). But someday, and soon, they will probably cross paths again... 

*The gold was real, but they were not actually minted by the royal mint, making them non-legal tender.

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7/12/2019 1:48 pm  #16

Re: Honor + Intrigue Campaign: 1666

So we have had another session since these events, and I plan to run another tonight. I've been keeping a journal of how things have transpired, but I want to wait till that adventure is concluded before I post it. Meanwhile, I will post some pictures from last session. This first one is from a bandit attack. All of the PCs have dismounted in this photo (except Stanislaus who has his own unique mounted mini), but as you can see if you look closely at the horses on the right, you might notice a clear plastic "pocket" on the side of the horse. Those pockets are what I use for when a character is mounted. Simply slide their standee into the pocket and their miniature is now mounted on the horse! And this one is from when most of the party entered a tavern and hijinx ensued. As you may have surmised, the "tavern" tile is really just a piece of laminate flooring from the hardware store that I bought for about $1. You can't really see it too well, but that chandelier was made of cardstock and laminated so that miniatures can actually stand on it. It is also actually suspended from a real chandelier that hangs directly over our table! Some of the furnishings were constructed from dollar store foam-core board (the bar, the tables, the big door), some were 3-d printed (the barrels, the stairs), some was 2-D printed (the long dining table), and the fireplace was from HeroQuest. What's so great about HeroQuest you say? I'm glad you asked.

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9/13/2019 11:00 am  #17

Re: Honor + Intrigue Campaign: 1666

And now that the story-arc has come to an end, I can post what has been happening in the campaign. I decided to adapt another classic DnD module: =18pxAgainst the Cult of the Reptile GodFor the next leg of the campaign, the PCs have been asked to accompany le Compte de la Ferr, aka Athos, who is his majesty’s ambassador, on a trip to a number of countries. This trip will function not only as official diplomatic business for the state but also as a “Grand Tour” for the NPCs Athena (Athos’ daughter and paramour of Girard) and Portia (Porthos’s daughter and paramour of Angus). My plan was to base (loosely) the various adventures that would take place over this leg of the campaign on the series “An Ambassador’s Tales” written for Flashing Blades, but in between each, I would run some other adventure as well. The first such adventure is a loose adaptation of the AD&D adventure “Against the Cult of the Reptile God”. I changed the village of Orlane to "le Ville d'Orleans", and made a number of other changes as well. Before leaving to embark on their journey, Angus was called to meet privately with Baron Porthos who wanted to make sure that Angus would “make an honest woman of her” or step aside. He offered him either a gold ring or a bag of gold coins. Angus could either take the coins so that Portia could find a suitable husband on this journey, or he could opt to become the suitable husband himself-- but he does not want his daughter’s affections to be trifled with. Angus tossed the bag of coins back to Porthos and opted to take the ring! So at some point on the journey, it seems that there might be a possible engagement. Stanislaus’ employer, Karolina has also been invited to be part of the Grand Tour (she is very good friends with Baron Porthos who has asked her to keep an eye on Portia as well) so Stanislaus has a reason to accompany the group as well in his capacity as Karolina’s bodyguard. The PCs go with Athos to Versailles where each will be receiving their instructions. The Black Princess hands Sergeant Girard some sealed envelope with instructions of when and where they are to be opened. Julie and Stanislaus both also had private meetings with the Black Princess. Julie asked that she keep an eye (no pun intended) on Clarisse back in Mornay du Pessac to ensure that she is safe, as Julie fears that Madonna Cosima might take the opportunity to get some revenge on her by hurting those she loves (this is why Julie revealed her infidelity-- to cause Clarisse to break things off with her so that it would lessen the chances of Julie’s enemy’s hurting her loved ones). Stanislaus’ visit was of a more personal nature, resulting from casual flirting with the Black Princess that resulted in a romantic tryst, discussed around the euphemism of “having coffee” together. The camera pans away, fade to black, cut to the next day. Prince Phillippe has asked the PCs to come and see him. He explains to them that he has had a number of disturbing letters from his gardener (Pierre d’Orleans, a man in his mid-50s)  at his estate in Orleans. At first, workers stopped showing up for work, causing his beloved gardens to fall into disrepair. Then the master gardener stopped responding to his royal letters. Then the royal courier who was sent with a letter to the gardener never returned. This has taken place over the course of the last month. As a side note, he mentions his reports from his daughter’s governess on the estate that she has been drawing a lot of strange pictures and been behaving strangely lately-- but he seems more concerned with the missing gardener. The prince asks the PCs to investigate what is going on in Le Ville d’Orleans (the village of Orleans, not to be confused with the large city Orleans; the village is where the farmers and servants of his estate live) and to make sure his gardener is alright (and while they are there, to check on his gardens and also his daughter. The PCs depart that day, with Athos’ instructions as to where and when they will meet for the Grand Tour to begin. This gives them 2 weeks to finish their investigation before they must leave on state business. Ville d’Orleans happens to be on the way to their destination, the Dutch Republic. Bandit AttackAfter a couple of days on the road, our heroes reach Orleans. As they neared a wooded fork in the road that would take them to the estate of Monsieur (Prince Phillipe's nickname) some PCs noticed armed men in some watchtowers who were not in military dress and a couple noticed men lying in ambush on either side of the road. PCs attack the bandits before giving them the chance to strike first. During the fight, the bandits are intent on taking the PCs alive "for our queen". They promise they won't harm the PCs if they come quietly, but they aren't having it. Bandits in the tower were firing musket shots at PC's legs (shooting to wound). Julie and Ali Funda gained entry to the towers and dispatched the bandits on top. I mentioned one of the bandits seemed to be wearing a military uniform.  However, the PCs attacked the bandits mostly to kill. Girard was sure to knock one out for questioning. Unfortunately, they discovered the dead man in the military uniform was the missing Royal Courier. The Bandits all have one weapon in common: a kris blade (serpentine dagger) designed to resemble a snake. Interrogation of the CultistThe captive bandit woke tied to a tree. He began raving about "the goddess" who would give them true knowledge if they would join her benevolent faith. He rants and raves about the goddess pulling against his bindings with unnatural ferocity. They knock him out again and load him onto the back of a horse and ride to town. A while later, they arrive at the home of a farmer on the outskirts of town. The bandit has awoken but seems to have no recollection of how he got there, or the last several days (he thought it was Wednesday, but it was Saturday). The farmer recognized the man and offered to help keep him safe and comfortable. The PCs deduced that whatever was used to put the bandits in such a frenzy had a limited duration of a few days. What they didn’t realize is that I made a roll behind the screen for the bandit. He got a Mighty Success on his attempt to fake coming out of a trance where he had lost several days. In fact, he is still a loyal pawn of the cult and plans to let his superiors know about the PCs as soon as he can slip away from the farmer and his family. Visit to the Estate of the PrinceThe PCs chose to ride around the outskirts of town rather than ride through the center of the town on their way to the estate of Prince Phillipe. They arrived at the door and presented a paper from Monsieur himself granting them entry into the grounds. They wished to speak with the governess to ask her what she could recall about the missing gardener and also about the strange behavior of the princess these last few weeks. The governess was able to confirm everything the prince had told them. Further, she gave much more specific details about the princess' strange behavior as of late. She has been having dreams about a beautiful winged serpent in the garden, which promised it would give her great knowledge one day and that it had a plan for her. She has been making drawings (she has colored pencils and stacks of drawing paper which are tremendous luxuries) depicting the serpent adorned in glittering rainbow scales. The quality of her artwork is far beyond that of a five-year-old, and definitely beyond her drawings from only a month ago. A Tale of Two Taverns: The Coiled Cobra and the Feasting FriarIn the original module of Against the Cult of the Reptile God, there are two inns-- the Slumbering Serpent and the Golden Grain-- the latter of which is associated with the cult, the first of which is innocent, albeit poorer quality. I decided to go along with this theme but made the dichotomy more explicit, with the Coiled Cobra’s sign being made from an old pagan sculpture that was found carved in the woods and the Feasting Friar boasting amazing food at very good prices. The party decided to split, with some staying at the Feasting Friar (Girard, Dupris, and Evelyn) and the majority going to the Coiled Cobra (Angus, Ariel, Ali Funda, Stanislaus, and Julie). The Coiled Cobra had poorer quality food (only stale bread and onion soup) and only 1 room with 2 beds available. The people in the tavern were also of a seedier nature. There was a table with three thugs who were betting which one could get the barmaid to sit on their lap (Stanislaus tried to woo the barmaid instead and failed while NPC thug #2 rolled a Mighty Success. I joked that several years from now while NPC thug #2 and unnamed barmaid are rocking their baby to sleep, they will remember this as the night they first met). Ariel and Ali Funda were approached by a lecherous looking middle-aged man with fancy clothes and a long mustache, and they began chatting him up to find out more information about the town. He mentioned he was a “civil servant” (he is a tax collector). When they discovered that there was only 1 room with 2 beds at the Coiled Cobra, he generously offered to let them stay in his extra room in his house, but they declined and decided to head to the Feasting Friar. Two beggars who were eating their simple meal of onion soup offered the innkeeper 2 sous to be allowed to sleep in the stable’s hayloft, but the innkeeper told them they could do so for free. Seeing this act of kindness, Angus offered the innkeeper 10 livres, who then promised that with that money the next day’s fare would be something much heartier! Back at the Feasting Friar, Dupris had been complaining of being hungry pretty much this entire adventure so far, and out of an abundance of caution/paranoia, Evelyn had been restricting his food to trail rations. But to make him shut up, she finally relented and told him he could go downstairs to eat dinner and that he was to bring her up a plate when he was finished. Meanwhile, Girard managed to attract the attention of the very attractive triplet barmaids. Rather than make any rolls, Girard decided his character gave into their attempts at seduction and he soon found himself in a room with the three of them, eyebrow bob at the camera then fade to black. Ali Funda and Ariel arrive at the Feasting Friar to discover the downstairs to be completely empty. They find Evelyn who asks them if they’ve seen Dupris, and they say they have not. Beginning to worry, they search around the place, check the stables, etc. and find no trace of him. Evelyn then performs a scrying ritual looking into a pitcher of water trying to find a vision of Dupri's. She rolls really well and sees his reflection, tied up in a cage, being loaded onto a boat in the swamp. I give her a Fortune Point as her Incompetent Servant Flaw is activated. They must rescue Dupris! Eventually finding Girard, they bang on his door and he (very reluctantly) answers it. When he is told of what happened to Dupris, he bids the ladies au revoir and hastily dresses himself (Girard never discovered this, but their plan was to drug him, then tie him up and deliver him to the cult, but they never got the chance). The four of them head out into the night, making their way to the Coiled Cobra to get help finding Dupris. When they get there, they discover the door is locked. Fortunately, Ariel and Ali Funda knew the correct room and tossed some pebbles at the window to get their allies’ attention. At the time, Julie, Angus, and Stanislaus were on high alert, sleeping in shifts with one on sentry duty holding a weapon next to the doorway (they really were ready for a fight at the Coiled Cobra). They sneak down the trellis and meet the other PCs in the misty streets of Ville d’Orleans. As they begin to make their way north, towards the swamp, they see a group of guards led by the Constable Gavroche with lanterns patrolling the street. Rather than try to talk to the guards, they opt to hide from them, and the patrol passes them by. They then make a break for the woods north of town. On the way, they pass the Church of Our Lady, which has all its lamps lit. There appears to be some sort of midnight mass going on. The PCs do not go in to investigate, but they think it is suspicious. Cages at the Ferry BoatThe PCs manage to sneak up on the group of cultists with several people bound and held inside of cages. These cages are being hoisted onto a ferry boat that is connected by a winch to an island in the middle of the swamp. One of the cages contains Dupris who is bound and gagged (and so heavy he is causing the cultists difficulty in moving him). Another contains a young woman with disheveled hair and dirty clothes. With surprise on their side, the PCs rush and attack. Most of the group is taking care to only knock out the cultists, as they believe they are under some sort of power and not acting in their own right minds (and that with time the spell could be broken). But for some reason, Stanislaus and Angus didn’t realize this, and were actually making lethal attacks. This resulted in some dead cultists and a number of unconscious ones. The caged woman is called Suzette and she had previously been captured by the cult and managed to escape. She will be able to tell the PCs everything she knows about the cult at the start of the next session. Ali Funda noticed that she bore a tattoo of the Sororite d’Lis (Systerhood of Isis) and that is probably how she managed to evade their mind control. Suzette’s Warnings and InformationIt is now 3 O’Clock in the morning. Suzette tells the PCs that the top of the cult’s list was “The Wizard Rene” a hermit who lives to the west of the village. They will either turn him or kill him. She tells the PCs that Rene probably has the power to counteract the curse of the cult and she was on her way to warn him when she was recaptured. If they manage to subdue Rene, they will try to turn Jean Garnier and use his influence to reach the Princess directly. She also tells the PCs that she did not see the face of “the Goddess” herself, from her hiding place on the ledge as she made her escape, but from her angle she could those who were brought forth into the Goddess’ presence as well as a shadow that looked like a large winged serpent. First, she saw some “new initiates” who were brought before her bound and gagged. Cult members stood behind them and forced their eyelids opened. Then the goddess commanded, “look into my eyes”. She then told them that she was their true goddess, the giver of knowledge and that they were her obedient servants. The cultists then took off their bindings and the joined the cultists praising the goddess’ wisdom. Then she saw some cultist acolytes who had been brought forward to her to take the “final test of true loyalty” and drink from the cup of life and death. She saw three drink from the cup. The first seemed fine and was ushered aside. The next two collapsed and began writhing around on the ground and were carried away. Then there were two who refused to drink after that. She then pronounced they would be punished for disobedience and blasted forth a tremendous gout of flame onto them, burning them to cinders. At this point, Suzette ran as fast as her legs could carry her. She swam across the swamp and began cutting through the woods to find Renee when trackers with hounds employed by the cult found her and shot her with a drugged arrow in the leg. She collapsed and woke up a short while ago in the cage. The Witch Hunters#Obstructed View #Great Commotion in the Square, #Plume of Smoke, #Shouting, #Proclamation PCs can hear the following before they can see anything (it is a large crowded square) “I, Monseigneur Michele of the Church of Our Lady, do hereby find you, Rene Verdun, guilty on the charges of heresy and witchcraft. I give you one last opportunity, and beseech you to recant and join the embrace of our church!” Rene: “You are the one who has been bewitched! All of you! But I can help, if you would only…” “You have refused the mercy of our church. Very well, Constable Gavroche, set the fires, and let us pray for the soul of this poor sinner.” Renee begins chanting some arcane words as the guards light the pyre. If the PCs try to warn and help the Wizard Rene, or come back to the town (there is a big commotion in the square) they will find that he has been taken captive by the church, and is going to be burnt at the stake in the town square for “Heresy and Witchcraft”. Constable Gavroche, his guards, and Pere Michel and his acolytes administer proceedings while many people shout “Burn the heretic! Burn him!” Most of these people were cultists, but some were not-- they believed that Pere Michel is doing the church’s work after all, and that Rene fellow is a pagan! I used numbered tiddlywinks for the crowd. 7-10 were cultists. 6 was a regular person also cheering for a witch burning. 2-5 were bystanders shocked by what they were seeing. 1s were people demanding he be released crying “this is savagery!” and “what is wrong with you?” Girard stepped toward the front, boldly declaring that in the name of the King, to stop this madness at once! He rolled for a Stunt which I said would use his Flair and Soldier Career to cow guards into submission. He managed to turn some of the guards (about six) to their side. Pere Michel responded “The Church answers to a higher authority. Constable Gavroche, guards, do your duty! Besides, surely His Majesty as God's agent on Earth has no love for Heretics." He turned two of the guards back to his own side. When the stake is lit on fire, it is at the 1d3 dmg stage, but the upper part of the stake is considered 1 stage behind the base. This is the base of the stake, Renee will not be damaged for a while because he had inscribed his clothes with a Greater Ward Against Fire, reducing fire damage by 1d6 and making him harder to catch on fire. But this will only buy the PCs time. To activate the runes, Rene had to chant out loud, which Pere Michel used to try to convince the crowd of his guilt. Several efforts were made to rescue Rene from the stake during the ensuing chaos. I required a Daring check to even get close to the stake because of the flames. Angus ended up with a Calamitous Failure when he said he wanted to jump into the stake and attempt to rip it out of the ground. I described that when he got up there he started sniffing at something burning, looked down and realized it was his feet! He took some fire damage then lept away jumping into a nearby horse trough. AliFunda managed to run by and leap past the stake while cutting some of the ropes in midair using the Tag maneuver. At this point I announced it would take 2 more successful actions to free Rene (but Tag, or Career checks to untie him or snap ropes would all be fine). Ariel grabbed a bucket of water and tried to douse the flames and got a Mighty Success. As a result the fire was completely extinguished, though I said the coals were still too hot to stand on (so climbing onto the stake would still take a Daring check, albeit an easier one). Pere Michel and his Acolytes used their magic to provide themselves a means to escape (they already had Bolster Defense cast on themselves). Michel also cast Grasping Tendrils then said, “See how Rene uses dark magic to protect himself! We must fight to put the devil back in his place!” The targeted not only the PCs but also any random townsfolk and guard near the stake. Pete Michel was indeed able to use the spell as a distraction to escape. It enveloped guards and PCs alike, so it wasn't too obvious who had cast the spell. Constable Gavroche was able to free himself and evade the struggling Ariel. Indeed in her frenzy to free herself, Ariel was completely wrapped by tentacles, engulfed by a suffocating darkness, triggering the worst episode of claustrophobia she had yet suffered. Though terrified, she managed to keep enough of her wits about her to avoid being driven mad by the experience. After the BattleIn Against the Cult of the Reptile God, his name is Ramne, which I Francofied to Rene. The original module also has Ramne as a GMPC who accompanies the PCs on their journey, but I changed the character so he would be fun without stealing the PCs' thunder. I modeled the character of Rene on Miracle Max from The Princess Bride and made him a Cabbalist who crafted talismans. Rene had two items to give to the party. One is a brooch he made to protect against 1 major spell. It will extend the protection to everyone within 20’ of the person wearing it. Once it is used, it will shatter. This brooch can be used to stop the fireball spell. Rene also has potions that can restore the volition of anybody under the influence of a charm spell or similar magic. He can provide 2 doses to each PC. He will start making more when he can get back to his workshop, but he suspects that anybody under such magic might be able to be saved if the one who bewitched them dies or dismisses the spell. Alifunda took possession of the brooch. Each PC took a potion. Rather than risk taking Rene back to his workshop, they have taken him to the home of Jean Garnier, expecting some greater measure of protection. The Temple of the Reptile GodAt this point the PCs have the protection they need to risk travel to the island in the swamp, but this journey will still not be an easy one.  The PCs have to first make the decision-- press on in spite of exhaustion (they have now been awake nearly 24 hours) or to rest. They chose rest, giving the enemy (who knows who they are) the chance to make some preparations. When they left, they took Suzette to guide them to the temple and left Dupris behind with Rene and Jean Garnier. The island was being patrolled by trained hunting hounds (which Suzzette had mentioned to the PCs).  The dogs managed to bear Stanislaus to the ground, but fortunately could not penetrate his armor. The mastiffs were dispatched not only with blades, but also with pistols, putting the guards on even higher alert. Evelyn also dropped her pistols into the swampy ground, which required thorough cleaning. In spite of this fact, the PCs were able to defeat the guards who were posted outside the temple. This time, the PCs were careful not to kill anybody. Stanislaus fought with his sword still in its scabbard, using it like a club while Angus fought with his bare hands. Julie even managed to Tag and cajole one into “snapping out” of the cult’s control (involving a Mighty Success). This session I also tried an interesting mechanic borrowed from "Index Card RPG" called the Trouble Die. In combat when the GM rolls initiative, I also rolled a d4 (a huge yellow one, out where everyone can see it). At the end of each round, the die gets rolled down by 1. After the die rolls down past 1, "Trouble happens". This adds a sense of urgency to scenes (or even exploration sequences where you substitute a round of combat for a set amount of time like a minute or 5 minute chunk. It really helps prevent slow meandering on the PCs part. It only activated one time in last night's game: PCs failed to take out guards outside a cultist temple in time, so a group of 4 more guards came outside to check out that noise. One thing I did different from ICRPG method is that if the Trouble Die rolled a 1, I removed it. I don't like the idea that PCs have only 1 round to finish an entire combat *or else*, when numbers might make this largely impossible. It also doesn't so much say "hurry and don't waste time" as much as it says "you're boned" to the PCs. With the guards defeated, townsfolk were freed from cages that were outside the temple while cultist guards were disarmed and placed inside the cages. Then Suzette took them off the island and the PCs headed into the temple. Brawl in the BarracksThey encountered a barracks in which several bunkbeds were stacked. A few of these people were guards, but most were just “ordinary” cultists armed with knives. Again, the PCs were striving not to kill anybody. This resulted in Stanislaus, Ali Funda and Julie using the Stunts mechanic from Honor + Intrigue to subdue Pawns without killing them. Stanislaus chopped down the legs of a bunkbed, causing them to fall like dominos onto a group of cultists. Ali-Funda and Julie teamed up, with the leg of a table being cut loose while one of them ran on top of it, making it into a wrecking-ball/spinning top of destruction, plowing through a large number of cultists as well, leaving the lot unconscious. In the next room, they found a kitchen manned by cultist women and children. By this time, Ali Funda had been able to use her medical training to recognize that people under the cult’s control *always* had dilated pupils, and she saw this in the face of the people. This time, the PCs attempted to use trickery to bring them out of the cult. Ali Funda pretended to be a new recruit of the cult and helped in “preparing the soup” by pouring Rene’s volition-restoring potion into it. The result was all of the children and most of the women in the room managed to be broken free of the cult’s control while the few remaining were subdued without violence. At this point, the PCs found an armory where the cult had been stockpiling weapons-- mostly sabers, rapiers, kris knives, and firearms. They didn’t take anything (nobody was low on ammo). Evelyn wanted to take a sack full of pistols, which I would explain she could but the encumbrance would cost her 1 Composure as long as she carried it. She declined. (this is how I avoid the “loot everything that isn’t nailed down” mindset that is common in dungeon crawling games from creeping into Honor + Intrigue). Information in the OfficeFrom here, the PCs left a couple unexplored rooms in their rear while they pressed deeper into the temple complex. Here they found the office of Pere Michel, who has a journal and a bookshelf in here as well as an iron strongbox The PCs began pouring over the journal (written in Latin, which Evelyn could read) and bookshelf while Angus tried to bash his way into the strongbox. Every few minutes they spent, I revealed some information to them. Among the facts revealed at this point:

  • A list of all current cult members and a list of targets for recruitment.
  • Plans for recruiting the Princess when she gets older (when she might be married off to some foreign king), but in the meantime, Michel who is her confessor, has been using his magic to implant her with dreams that will make her seek out Bathsheba and join willingly. This revelation really upsets the PCs.
  • Derik Ferrier, the owner of the Feasting Friar has been selling drugged people to Pere Michel to convert into cultists for 5 gold Louis apiece. His “daughters” (who tried to drug Girard but didn’t get the chance) are in on it.
  • Pierre d’Orleans (the master gardener) has been useful in tending Bathsheba’s “Garden of the Moon”, a section of the temple complex which has a large skylight, allowing them to plant a garden here. These plants are useful for crafting the Potion of Life and Death that is used when cultists take the Test of True Loyalty. D’Orleans has been pressing for the chance to take the test himself, but he is too valuable to risk.
  • Ali Funda found a book on the shelf about alchemical transmogrification, in which the imbiber of a prepared potion can be transformed into an animal.

Meanwhile in the adjoining room, two acolytes were casting spells in preparation for a fight. When Julie went into their room, the Acolytes, protected by a shadow-displacement type spell lunged out at her with their knives. Fortunately, even magically enhanced, they were little match for our heroine. The PCs managed to defeat the acolytes-- but did not avoid killing them. After the battle, they searched the acolytes for keys and found none, so Angus smashed the chest open. Fortunately it had nothing fragile within-- only silver and gold-- about 500 Livre worth of it! The PCs realized that this money was likely from cult members being asked to give all that they had to the cult, and so they decided the money would be returned to the people after they were freed (and that the tax collector who they had freed from a cage earlier would be able to assess how much money probably belonged to who). The next area they explored had two people bound and gagged, tied to a chair. These were cultists whose enchantment had worn off and were in need of “reconditioning” by Pere Michel. Angus freed them and sent them on towards the kitchen area where those who had been freed were waiting. The Bone PitFrom the Reconditioning Room, the PCs found an area called “The Bone Pit”. It was a pit in the floor, steamy with rotten vegetation. The floor was strewn with bones. They could see a large heap of rotten vegetable matter and bones in one corner. I said to get a better look, they would need to go down the 10’ drop-- they chose to throw a torch in instead. This did provide light, but it also lit some of the contents on fire-- which I described as if a very large fuse were lit. Angus *threw* his sword into the pit to chop the “fuse” in half. I then described that the “fuse” was actually a shed snake skin-- and that there were many such skins in the pit. The smallest would be from a 10’ long snake, the largest, over 30’ There were also some scales down there the size of a human hand. The light of the torch also allowed them to see three tunnels that opened into the pit area. The PCs had no desire to go down there. Angus even chose to leave his sword down there! Skirting the catwalk area above the pit, they made their way into another room, where they found yet more disturbing sights. First, Ali Funda recognized a human epidermis, from the waist up, all in one single piece laying in the hallway like a discarded sweater. Then they made their way into the next chamber and found a number of large, leathery pulsing sacks, each about the size of a garbage can. When they approached one of the sacks, what looked like a face and hands pressed against the sides. Ali Funda drove her sword right through it, revealing a hissing snake-man monster bursting from the cocoon/egg. It slid up the length of her sword, hissing and snapping its jaws. All PCs had to make a terror check, and a few failed. When I went around the table and asked people if they made the check, I asked the Player playing Angus “Are you scared?” He responded, “Yes, and so is Angus!” I dimmed the lights as we ran the last combat of the night, a number of serpent men bursting from goo-filled egg sacks hissing and biting with hideous poison. One of the PCs had to imbibe an antivenom potion that they were fortunate to have crafted ahead of time. The next session, our heroes investigated one more yet unexplored room before circling back to the bone pit. At this point, I rolled a “1” on a d6 meaning that “Precious” the gigantic cobra who nest there was going to show up. She is super stealthy and fast in spite of her size. I waited until the PCs were spread around the room on the catwalk over the pit and then Precious emerged to strike, catching all but Evelyn by surprise-- but she immediately failed her Terror check and her attempt to shoot the serpent missed. Precious did a lot of damage with her poisonous bite, especially to Angus who was bitten at least twice then dragged into the pit. At the end, the PCs managed to drive her away (where she went to go and be healed  by her mistress) slithering down a tunnel. Angus received an antidote potion. None of the PCs dared follow her. But they did notice several leathery ostrich-sized eggs in the pit. They set about the task of stabbing the eggs, but one managed to burst free of its egg before being killed-- and this baby was the size of a full-grown cobra. It managed to bite Angus before being choked to death. One more antivenom potion was applied to Angus. The party was down to two of them. The Guard RoomAfter this, the PCs made it to an antechamber where guards, including Constable Gavroche were on watch. The PCs attacked, endeavoring not to kill, because they feared the guards were under mind control. At this point, Stanislaus got a spotlight moment after non-lethally dispatching four guards in one turn (using his sword in its scabbard like a club). Gavroche said “You should join us. We could use a man of your skill level!” to wit he replied “Clearly you have none.” The Final Showdown With the CultThen they entered the chamber where the cult seemed to be engaged in some ceremony is there was singing going on. Julie burst the door open saying “you sing off-key!”. The party’s moment of surprise was however spoiled by their own shock at seeing a veritable army of serpentmen among the human cultists as well as a group of human prisoners on a platform on the other side of a moat from a throne decorated by a statue of a winged serpent with a woman’s head. They also could spot Pere Michel standing near the throne along with another gaggle of serpent folk, including one serpent-woman.  Ranged PCs focused their fire on the serpent-woman, giving her a wound in her side while Pere Michelle took cover behind a pillar and began casting a spell. She hissed “you dare harm a princess of the blood?” The PCs fought the cultists and snakemen in the corridor, taking pains not to slay any humans while slaughtering the serpentmen with all their might. Eventually Stanislaus made his way to the edge of the moat and lept across (managing a really good roll in spite of penalties due to his armor). The next round, Julie attempted the same thing, only to be bitten out of mid-air by the sudden strike of Prescious who had been lying in wait. Julie just barely managed to parry the bite after spending her last Fortune Point to do so. Julie and Stanislaus fought several serpentmen and Prescious as best they could. Stanislaus, seeing several snakemen near a brazier pulled off his entire bandolier of grenades and hurled it into the fire. I added some extra dice and blast radius for the extra grenades. The explosion killed all but one on the outside of the blast zone. At this point one of the serpentmen pulled a switch, causing a bridge to swing over the moat, allowing some of the elder serpentmen to pour across the bridge. It was at this point that the largest of all the serpent-folk emerged from behind the throne-- this was Batsheba, the wounded other serpentwoman was her daughter. And she was furious (she had been casting various protection spells on herself prior to this). Just as Suzette had warned them, her first spell she cast was an enormous fiery flash. Owing to both his armor and the Magic Resistance Boon, Stanislaus (who was at ground zero of the explosion) was completely unharmed. Ali-Funda, who was outside the area of effect was wearing the talisman of protection given to the party by Rene, so it was of no use here. This was really bad news for three townspeople who were caught in the blast and killed. Some other PCs took a minor amount of damage. Bathsheba’s efforts to mentally dominate party members failed, but her spell of sleep made Julie so drowsy she fought with penalties for the rest of the combat. While the PCs made efforts not to kill townsfolk in the thrall of the cult, they gave no quarter to Pere Michel, who died on flagstones next to Bathsheba’s throne. Angus fought his way through a corridor filled with snake men, and took a number of envenomed bites. He eventually collapsed from the venom overwhelming him and required Ali-Funda’s special training as a member of Sororite d’Lis to bring him back from the brink of death. Bathsheba’s daughter (the only of the serpent folk who was trueborn and not a transmogrified townsperson) was slain in the fighting, enraging her. Girard and Evelyn peppered Prescious and Bathsheba with musket fire, killing the giant cobra and making Bathsheba aware of her own potential demise. Cursing the PCs and vowing revenge, Bathsheba cast a final spell, making herself invisible and escaped. Le Ville d’Orleans long nightmare had come to an end. This ended the session as we ended up playing till 1am (and normally we don’t go past midnight). The start of the next session, I did the denouement for the Orleans Affair. Sergeant Girard sent an official report back to Prince Phillipe informing him that they had found his gardener in a garden that the cult had been using to grow potion ingredients (used to make the “cup of life and death” potion used to transform townsfolk into snake folk). The town had become unenthralled of the cult a few days without Bathsheba’s charming gaze or Pere Michel’s hypnotic spells. And of course, his daughter the Princess was safe as well. The PCs had taken back to the road in order to make their rendezvous with Ambasador Athos’ party on its mission to the Netherlands. Along the way, a royal courier managed to catch up to them bearing a note from Monsieur himself:It was fun to use at the table as PCs began arguing to *not* take a share of the monetary reward (which was some 700 Livres) as a favor from the Prince would likely be worth far more. Next time, our heroes are off to the Hague in order to take part in some affairs of state!

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