21 January 2008

Kapcon/Games on demand - In A Wicked Age...

I played this twice, in rounds 1 and 4.

Re-reading the rules, I note that I made one mistake about how conflicts work, but a fairly minor one that didn't detract from play (for those who care, it was they way that round one's first roll is initiative, and that the winner should declare actions and the loser respond and re-roll their dice. We just skipped the initiative bit, really, rolling against each other and then on to the second round).

The first group picked 'A Nest Of Vipers' and we had:
... A murder by strangling of an officer of the city... (ha, in play this was actually a stabbing)
... A night-wisp who devours its victims magical potency...
... A wayhouse in which plague victims hav recently stayed... (this got transformed into a warehouse by the magic of one person reading and another writing)
... A conjuror possessed of spirits of uncivil character...

The player characters ended up being the night-wisp, the conjuror, the murderer and the new officer of the city (chief justice/watch commander).

The story began with the wisp and conjuror meeting outside the city, and joining forces (the conjuror bound the spirit and added it to the collection of uncivil things possessing him). The murderer desired the victim's wife (the town priestess) for his own. The watch officer wanted to catch the murderer and execute all magicians. This led to a fun story as everyone was running around the city trying to mess with each others' plans. We had some great shifting alliances as people switched around after discovering that they had been lied to (and so forth). It all culminated in a fight between the officer and priestess and the murderer, who was slain, and then an attempt by the night-wisp to devour the power of the city's god for it's own (this failed).

Great stuff. Nobody else really knew what they were getting into... I think my enthusiasm to run the game was the main determining factor that interested people. Afterwards, two of the players said they were interested in buying the game on the strength of that story, too.

Second time around, we chose 'The Unquiet Past':
... A convocation of a ruin's ghouls, gaunts and wisps...
... An ancient stone way-marker indicating an overgrown road and the ghost of the man buried under it..
... A cruel and powerful young lordling...
... A camp physician, her pockets full of salves and drugs...

The player characters were the physician (who was from a nomad tribe), the chieftain of the nomads, and the lordling.

This story ended up being all about nomads versus the encroaching settlements. The lordling had started a colony town, to build up his power to rival his father's city. We began with him leading a surveying team, and meeting the physician at the ancient way-marker. After some initial talk, the ghost beckoned them both along the road. This road led to the ruins, where the various monsters had their convocation. Both the nomads and settlement had been suffering the depredations of the monsters, so all three characters worked together to deal with them. This culminated in a big battle, with the chieftain and lordling duelling the leading gaunt and ghoul, respectively and attempting to outdo each other in glory. This contest was a draw - they both slayed their enemies, and the surviving monsters fled into the desert.

In the aftermath, tensions between the two groups became apparent... the lordling wanted the nomads as his vassals, and they wanted the settlement gone from their range. The physician now was pursuing a cure for her nephew's blindness. A cure was suggested by the town doctors, but the lordling had his men harvest the fungus required before the physician could reach it. She attempted to steal it from them, but was caught. Brought before the lordling, this gave him the bargaining chip he needed to force the nomads to compromise... just before they assaulted the city! In the end the nomads agreed to trade peacefully with the town when they were near, and the physician was indentured to the town for a year to pay for her attempted theft (but her nephew was cured).

So... two very different stories, but both great fun to create. The oracles are fantastic at generating a grabby setting and characters, and the way that things play out afterwards was amazing to watch. The game delivers everything the text promises, and is now the one I most want to play a longer game of (beating out Hero's Banner and Nine Worlds, both now fighting for second place).

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