Our Game Gets Rolling, Session 3 (Eye for an Eye Spoilers)

By donbaloo2, in WFRP Gamemasters

Bazgaan, dwarven mercenary, played by X

Sven, coachman, played by Y

Timothy, gambler, played by Z

I don't have my notes so I think I've really butchered some of the NPC names from the scenario. Also, I'm new to writing session reports and I'm really struggling to find a good way to write them. For some reason I'm defaulting to writing mostly in present tense which is unusual but I'm going to roll with it for now. I'm probably jumping tense some too, sorry about that. I'm going to try to get a little cleaner with these write-ups in the future so any suggestions are greatly appreciated. I know my personal preference for reading write-ups is less fiction writing and more talk about the rolls and the chatter at the table, so I'm not really putting any effort into presenting a piece of fiction writing. And hopefully, if I can get around to writing these things sooner after the game I can start getting more of the table chatter about the rules and rolls and players' intents. Again, suggestions welcome.

So we reconvened and picked up as the dust settled around the wagon with the guards shouting congratulatory greetings from the wall above. The first order of business was to pull the wagon around to the kitchen and begin unloading supplies and luggage, in the process very briefly meeting a few folks at the estate as Gregor, the steward, oversees a couple servants unloading supplies. Lord Aschaffenberg makes an entrance and ushers the PCs, with luggage in tow, up the stairs to his chambers.

On the way up Lord A congratulates them on a fine piece of work back there at the gate and Sven begins explaining what happened back in town with the suspicious book that was stolen from the salt sack, reclaimed, and then burned. Lord A expresses his shock and wonders with the party what it could mean as they begin to discuss the beastman attacks of late. Once in his chambers he expresses his growing concerns with the staff and their dereliction of duties. Being new to the estate and outsiders the same as he, he asks if they'd mind checking around to see what they come up with.

Game time was evening so I decided to push the timeline for the scenario back a day. Before bed, Sven the coachman pokes around in the smithy to see if he can round up some equipment but all he finds of interest is some beat up gear taken from the guards that were killed in the beastman assault several days ago. He grabs a mail shirt anyway and we reduce its effectiveness to illustrate it's disrepair. Sven meets with Hans, Albrecht, and Franz in the stables before bed but nothing of note takes place.

Next morning Bazgaan, who's still mildly wounded from the cemetery battle wants to go to the Hospice for treatment. He meets Dr. Seiger but is treated by Sister Sonja and is fully restored. In the process though he grows curious about the mumbling dwarf on the cot in the corner of the room. The good Sister explains the misfortunate turn of health that has led Kurgan the Smith down a road of insanity. Bazgaan tries to interact with Kurgan but mostly just gets a bunch of ramblings about the "eye sees all" and not letting them cut his beard. I gave Bazgaan a Charm test to see if he came across as trustworthy enough for Sister Sonja to confide in him about Kurgan's family hammer that she had hidden for him. He didn't make it so I kept mum. If Bazgaan returns to check in on him again I'll divulge the secret with no roll necessary.

Meanwhile, Sven is out in the stables while Timothy eats breakfast in the great hall (doing the gambler thing and studying the interactions of the staff). As Sven chats it up with Hans and marvels at what a pathetic job of stable cleaning Franz is doing, he makes an Observation test to determine whether he notices Hans's lethargic condition. Having a history of failing most of his Intelligence based rolls with his 2 intelligence, Y decides to toss in a fortune die to help out. As it turns out, the fortune die was exactly what he needed so we narrate that Hans turns his head at just the precise moment for the morning light to make it clear that his pupils were very dilated. This leads to a discussion about his lethargy symptoms and Sven wants him to see the doctor.

Sven's concern is enough for Hans to divulge his secret that he's really upset over having lost the blunderbuss that normally stays on Aschaffenburg's personal coach. He pleads with Sven to help him find it before Gregor or Lord A finds out. Sven says he'll help but not before they see the doc. It requires a Charm test by Sven to convince Hans to forget about the blunderbuss for now, but that they'll look when they return. I should point out that Y was pretty interested in this missing blunderbuss because, well, he's poor as dirt and really wanted one at creation but then we all discovered how expensive firearms were.

Timothy watches the servants and notes that a couple are rather inattentive and sees Gregor Pierson looking over the great hall from the balcony, straightening his vest before disappearing down the hall. As Sven and Hans enter the great hall and begin heading up to the Hospice, Timothy tags along. They all enter and find Bazgaan finishing up. Sven is greeted by Sister Sonja but explains that he'd rather the doctor have a look at Hans but then is curtly told to wait by Dr. Seiger.

When the good doctor finally gets around to seeing Hans, he matter of factly dismisses him and says he thinks he's doing fine with his recovery. Sven presses the matter, saying that Hans is clearly not doing well, above and beyond his knee injury. The doctor gets a little irritated at being questioned like this and blows them off, saying he needs to get back to work. And here's where things started getting funky.

Timothy makes an Intuition check on the doctor to get a read and gets the success, determining that Seiger is hiding something. Timothy asks the doc why he's not being more forthcoming, to which the doctor scoffs and explains that he doesn't need to discuss medical science with commoners. Timothy's response? A loaded pistol to the side of Doc Seiger's head! Timothy explains to the doc that its his trade to know when people are bluffing and that he wants the truth immediately. I ask Timothy to make a Charm roll which was wrong and should have been Intimidate or maybe even Guile for bluffing that he was going to blow his head off. Either way though, I gave him a fortune die for having called out the lie and two fortune die for having the gun to his head. He passed.

This was a very tenuous moment as I had to figure out how much information to give out. I wanted to give him something good but I didn't figure that the doc would reveal everything. For the record, I despise this part of GMing. No matter how you slice it, its just simple fiat as you decide how much to give them for their successful roll while still trying to maintain some sense of pace for the investigation. I'm working on a more codified way of doing this within the rules framework.

So anyway, the doctor is sweating it out and finally breaks saying that Hans is acting strange because of the medicine he's been given. Which is still a lie, but he is coming clean with the source of the problem, which is him and his Schlaff concoction that he's spreading around the staff. So he passes it off as his medical administrations that are making the folks weak, drowsy, and lazy. Timothy wants to check to see if he's lying again and I actually made him roll it though in retrospect I should have just went with his initial success and let it ride through the scene. Doesn't matter though, he made it.

When Tim sees that he's still not being told the full truth, he cranks back the hammer on the pistol and says he wants it all. I decide that the doc has said all that he's going to say and he calls Tim's bluff and says that they should take this to Aschaffenburg. Tim then uncocks the pistol, holds the Docs hand down and crushes one of his knuckles with the butt of the pistol. Seiger begins screaming and Bazgaan intercedes, telling Tim that this has gotten out of hand and that they need to see Aschaffenberg. Tim and Sven agree so they escort the good doctor to see Lord A.

After barging into the lord's chambers Seiger starts to yell about the crazed maniacs the lord has let run loose on his estate but Tim punches him in the mouth and shuts him up. I ask for Fellowship checks as initiative for this social encounter. I set up a tug of war type track with 3 spaces for the docs Willpower and 3 spaces for Timothy's willpower since he's sort of leading this exchange. I start a token in the middle and let them take turns going back and forth arguing their case with Aschaffenberg as Seiger gives as good as he gets. After three rounds though, they had convinced Lord A that Seiger was suspect and that he definitely needed to stop treating the staff. The final success by Tim was what won it but it also included 3 banes so I narrated that though Lord A. was taking the doc off duty for further questioning, he was pretty aggravated at Tim's reckless methods.

So the guys felt pretty good about having a big social victory over the doc and everyone enjoyed the track method of the drawn out social exchange. It was pretty intense. From here, Tim and Bazgaan head down the hall to check out the doctor's chambers while Sven escorts Hans back to the stables to help look for a blunderbuss. Tim succeeds at a Skullduggery check and narrates using an acid dropper to foul the lock to the doctors room which was cool with me. They look around, finding the schlaff under the doctors bed but both fail their Nature Checks and can make nothing of it except that it smells like the Hospice. They carry it over to Sister Sonja who can only say that it smells similar to some of the "medicine" that Dr. Seiger was using.

As Sven and Hans make it out to the main steps, Sven notices Gregor Pierson just hitting the landing below them, obviously having just come from upstairs, and walking away. They head out to the stables and Sven tells Hans to take a rest while he looks around. Just as he's about to head up into the loft, Albrecht Krug walks in and asks what's up? Sven doesn't answer, as Hans has told him to not to tell anyone. Neither of them say anything for a second and Albrecht wants to know why they're being so weird. Sven just explains that the doctor has been discovered making some harmful medicine and that he just wanted to look around to make sure there's nothing fishy around the estate. To which Albrecht rightfully asks, "Why the hell would you look up there?"

Albrecht proceeds to ask Sven to not mess around in the loft because the floorboards are messed up pretty bad and they don't use it much any more. Sven insists and so heads on up. Albrecht sweats bullets below. Try as he may though, Sven cannot pull off a successful Observation test, even with his use of Favored by Fate, and he disgustingly heads back down below. He did roll a couple boons though so I made it clear to him that the floor seemed rather sturdy up there and in no danger of falling through. Y was so aggravated because he knew that blunderbuss was up there, but there was nothing he could do. We all laughed as he said it was like "looking for a blunderbuss in a haystack".

Timothy and Bazgaan meet Sven out by the stables, with the schlaff, and are wondering what to do next when they see the kennel master, Olver Gand, working with one of his Tilean manhounds in the courtyard. They stroll on over and Olver is suspicious of the two new guys and a dude he's never met rolling up on him out of the blue. They exchange some brief courtesies while Sven uses his Animal Handling to successfully befriend the hound. Olver is impressed and they share the news about the doctors medicine. They chitchat very briefly, and one of the PCs asks what the dogs hunt, to which Olver responds "Any **** thing I want them to." Sven jokingly asks, "Beastmen?" and Olver chuckles and gives a telltale glance back at his cabin. Bazgaan is the only one to pass the Intuition test to catch it though. Olver goes back to working with the hounds and the group debates checking out Olver's cabin but are afraid to sneak in and look around.

They decide that they were going to revisit Lord A but as they start heading towards the house they see the gardener messing around outside the tool shed, not really doing anything, but then turn to walk back inside. Timothy trots up to him and introduces himself and they explain pleasantries, the gardener being a very friendly guy. Tim asks him if can tell what the schlaff is and the gardener looks around in it, saying that it looks like rosemary and milk thistle and that it looks a lot like the medicine the doctor makes. Timothy somehow spectacularly fails his intuition check and assumes he's made a nice friend before they part ways and the group continues inside.

As they walk down the gallery, they notice a servant girl at the other end stop outside the sitting room, look in hesitatingly and then shuffle off. They decide to check out the room and are immediately struck with a sense of dread and a palpable chill to the air just inside the room. Timothy makes an amazing 5 success Observation test to check the place out and I describe in detail all the ways that the gambler can see that the room has been neglected. They find the painting of theUnblinking Eye behind the drape and all proceed to fail their discipline checks, so are thoroughly rattled at the site of the large distended eye, strained in terror that they see before them. Timothy notices the bloodstains on the eyes pupil.

And that's where we left off, with a healthy but terrified party, two members of which are currently over their Willpower score in stress. Everyone had a great time and I mentioned how odd it was that we've now been two sessions without a battle and how refreshing that was. The social scene with the doctor and Lord A was every bit as exciting as a good fight though. We're still having a blast and look forward to the next session. I anticipate wrapping up Eye for an Eye then and getting back to seeing what Wando is up to in Ubersreik!

Nice. Can you go into a bit more detail about the 'social combat'? i.e. who said what? Not the exact dice rolls, but something like 'x claimed this - and suceeded', 'y then shouted this - only one success', x than pointed out and appealed to Lord A's wisdom, which gained another 2 notches along the track'.

I'm interested to know how this sort of thing works. Did you allow success to move the tracker multiple places along the tracker? Or just one at a time?

Sure, it went a little something like this:

I had a tug of war tracker with three spaces to either side of center. I started the token in the center and had everyone roll an initiative off of Fellowhip. The party got an initiative slot at 1, the doctor was at 1, and then two more at 0 for the party. The tie at the one slot goes to the PCs so Timothy opened the exchange.

"Lord Aschaffenberg, believe me when I tell you that this doctor is lying about what is going on here and what his ministrations are doing to your staff." Z rolled his Charm and got 2 successes so we moved the token two spaces to the right. Two more successes would mean victory.

But the doctor rebutted with, "My lord, I'm being as honest as I feel necessary with these meddlers but they are making it impossible for me to work. Indeed, I may be unable to work thanks to your guest's reckless assault upon me, ruining my hand." The doctor shows his crushed knuckle to Aschaffenberg. I roll 1 success for the doc and move the token back one space.

Sven joins in on the next initiative slot. "Look, its clear that the doctors work is exactly what's behind the staff being so lazy and unresponsive, he told us as much when we pressed him!" Y rolled Charm and also got 2 successes, moving the token onto the last spot of the track. One more success would gain them victory.

Bazgaan's player opted to stay out of the discussion as he had no further info to throw into the talks.

Its back to the party and Z jumps in with Timothy, "You know how you've been wanting me to show you how to get better at cards? Let me tell you something about bluffing." And Timothy proceeds to point out various tells in the doctors mannerisms that make it obvious to Tim that he's lying. Z rolls Charm, and gets 0 successes! He opted to use his Gambler career card to reroll the entire roll. And we all die laughing as he comes up with another big goose egg for successes!

Doc Seiger retorts, "As fascinating as your little card games are, bear in mind that I'm trying to save ACTUAL LIVES HERE, which has become increasingly difficult to do thanks to you guests!" But alas, 0 successes. Aschaffenberg interjects that he realizes its an inconvenience but he'd like to hear the party out.

Sven takes his turn. "I've discussed the symptoms in detail with Hans and its clear that he is not feeling well. He is slow of speech, exhausted, and his eyes stay dilated at all times. Stop the medications and your staff will return to normal I'd wager." Y rolls....0 successes!.

Bazgaan continues to watch from the sidelines.

So its been two exchanges and the doctor is on the ropes. I explain that we've got one more round of exchanges, after which Lord A will have lost patience and we'll determine a compromise based upon the token's position.

Z goes first with Timothy again. "Something is not right Lord Aschaffenberg. I know he's lying about something and he admits that the medicine is causing problems. Its clear to me that he's STILL not being forthcoming with all that he knows and I've literally threatened this mans life to extract that info. Yet he remains cool and flippantly dismisses our questioning, his only concern being to get back to work. He can't be trusted." Z then rolls 2 successes which is more than they need to secure the win.

Lord Aschaffenberg is convinced that the medical treatments must come to an end and decides to hold Dr. Seiger for further questioning in his chambers.

That's great. Thanks for writing it up in so much detail. That is really, really helpful. I've always struggled to see how to use this sort of tracker in a 'social combat' in a real situation, but this really helps.