This session was a lot of fun and the players are getting into it! This game is going very well and teaches me – and the players – a lot.I was waiting to edit the videos of the next sessions, but HD crashed and I’ve lost them, but here’ the account, far from my anxieties of the previous prep and delivering lot of fun and incredible scenes.
After session 2, I reviewed my notes and listed every NPC an meaningful locations on a word file (in fact, everything that is on the diagram), for each player. I noted what the players know, and what they don’t know, and sometimes expanded some of the bullet points when needed. For instance, Abélard, the Countess’s confessor, knows that she has a relationship with her father, the Marquis.. So I wrote that the Marquis fears that this secret would be revealed, what he’s going to do if he understand that someone know his secret and could use it against him. Another example is Abélard, who’s servant Bartholomeo fled after seeing him kill the Marquise. I filled some gap by looking what could be his next moves (if they are not revised by a dice roll). I wrote that he’s gonna find help in the criminal world, and that he also fears Hélène de Montmorency (because she missed her roll to impress him in the previous session). I wrote all this, not expanding much more than that, after my rewrite of the diagram and their associations, and to make sense of them. I noted what the players know, and what they don’t know, so I have something to say or to reveal if needed, and to provide me material for the props.
Session 3 was easier than my previous difficulties. Here what happened in game:
- Charles puts his manor on fire to destroy any proof of its killing of the Marquise.
- This is the moment Hélène choose to meet Charles. In a total style of a Musketeer story, she politely announces that she’s going to kill tonight. Charles rushes into Helene, totally abandoning himself to its demon. Helene .. shapes her appearance to look like the Countess (one of her demon’s power – and she rolls higher than Charles), so now Charles is attacking the countess!
- During this time, the manor is burning, and Abélard is rushing everywhere to find the Countess – who is now possessed by this powerful Demon, called Oratio. His demon helps him a lot to find Oratio (Oratia and Ophelia, Abélard’s demon, have the same desire: Knowledge, even if Oratio has “Knowledge about his previous lifes” – remember that I used the skin demon idea). So he find the possessed countess chained in the cave and … get out of the Manor, the countess on his shoulder, showing everyone that he is “saving her” …. And he faces the Countess, ahead, attacked by Charles! It’s interesting to note that everyone knows what’s happening, but it’s still really enjoyable to observe their own character’s surprise! But also the disturbed faces of the servants watching the all scene.
- Everyone panick. Hélène hides herself in her cape and whispers a meeting hour and location for a duel tonight, and Charles accept, thus making lots of acting to thank Abélard for having saved the Countess.
- I hard cut to the duel scene at midnight, after Charles’s player told me that he was totally serious about accepting the duel. We set that Charles is moving to his campaign manor outside Paris. The scene is in an abandoned manor, destroyed by the fire a few years earlier, and known to all duelists (duels being forbidden at that moment). We roll for combat, Charles going full force with his Possessor Demon, and Hélène full force with her object Demon. I’m not sure if I did correctly, but I allowed Hélène to make a ritual during the combat, if he she succeed to master the combat to the point that it lasts a few hours. So we did one roll for the combat, and Laura has terrific luck, with Matthieu having a terrible bad luck! She totally owns him, the combat lasting a few hours, and being in the same time a ballet for her sorcerous ritual (Laura has defined at the creation that rituals are dancing rituals that could fit with fence choreography). Not sure of my take on the rules, but everybody agreed to play this like it. So the second roll is a contain, with Helen’s rapier planted in Charles’s heart, and his demon being absorbed by the rapier (we settle that if there is blood on the rapier, it’s contained, so breaking the rapier or washing it breaks the contain). Laura’s roll is crazy, like +4, the demon tries to break the contain but fails. Hélène quits the scene letting an agonizing Charles die on his back in a pool of blood.
- “During this time”, Abélard is talking with the Demon possessing the Countess, Oratio. He uses his demon to know about him, which is a perfect fit, because his demon is about knowing past. Thus, Abélard decide he should .. bind Oratio! We putted a lot of color into this, with Abélart’s coven reunited from Paris in the cave of Charles’s campaign manor, the winepress filled with blood.
Back to Charles, I watch the diagram to help me, and there this “Bartholomeo” who is like, totally in the center, and he still didn’t appear! God. So Charles’s player is watching for me for option, and I propose some things, like “you can let yourself die from humiliation”, or “you can try to summon another demon”, or “you can try to crawl your way to your house”. He can’t decide and I put Bartholomeo in the scene, watch my notes, see that “’Bartholomeo affraid would see criminals to know what to do with Charles“, tell myself “he could drag him or try to kill him now”, then “or maybe change his mind and save him for interrogation?”, and just decide to roll with the dices. Thus I describe to Charles that Bart is there, dragging him by the feet, and he tries to command him to help him, this time succeeding in his roll with a +3. So be it. Bart drags Charles into his house.
I’m cutting here all the discussion but Charles talks with Abélard about the events, share informations, and decide that this Hélène de Montmorency is furious and dangerous, and makes a pact together that they will destroy her. Of course Abélard says nothing about having bound the countess. They rush into Hélène’s house… They know her, because her husband is related to the Marquise’s family! (here I used the r-map that I only felt I need when Charles asks me if he could know anything about her, I think I used a roll but can’t remember).
- “During this time”, Hélène gets back to her Mentor’s Manor, Madame de Launoy, which is appreciating a fence spectacle organized for … the queen, who is there, with a whole military escort. Hélène gives her the Rapier, explain everything, and Madame de Launoy asks her the life of .. Abélard. In my own logic at the moment, I didn’t decide that “Mme de Launoy should give another quest”, but more, “She’s crazy, avid for power, and she hates man and have a background of killing other sorcerers”. I wanted to show the craziness and sociopathy of Mme de Launoy to Hélène, but also to make Mme de Launoy a really great assets for her, and not antagonizing. Hélène decides that she can’t assist a fencing show without winning it, above all behind the queen! So we way that she owns the duel and we cut directly to the final match, and she destroys a fearful musketeer veteran with his face scarred, taking him an eye, and impress the queen (I didn’t roll a combat roll with the intent of “impressing the queen”, we rolled for combat, and I added combat success to the social “impress the queen” roll just after).
All of this takes time and time, and we’re in the end of the night, the party’s over, the queen is living, the suns is rising, and Charles and Abélard arrives at the manor.
All of this in a session of 1h30-2h. I stop the session there, with Laura telling me: “Really? Because I know what Hélène’s gonna do right now!” Which is great, but we stopped.
Pfiou, lots of things to say and maybe to keep for the comments if there are any. But here are some interesting stuffs :
- Laura is totally getting into the character. She’s totally proactive and I have few situations to provide myself. She’s like “I know what I’m gonna do” everytime.
- Matt (Charles) is totally getting into it, and closed the session with a funny note “My life is ruined in 1 hour of play”.
I really can see how the system of this game is helping to put the players into mention and not “waiting from a sign for the GM”. It takes sometimes a bit of time, but the kicker is the main element to give a motivation to the character.
As a GM, everything seems to roll. I check the diagram, when I see a NPC, I “get into his head” and just try to push the next action. It’s totally different from what I’ve done with my previous Sorcerer game who was a total failure, because I was trying to engineer the relationship of the character as it was a web in which the character were taken and every of their movements would create movements on this web, the spider all reacting to that. It was painful and not fun. Here I really enjoy it!
I overprep on the first time, but I just watch this prep when I need it, not as a framework to respect and introduce, but just “Do I have something to say as a reaction to that”.