Andrew’s Guide to Play Reports

Want to write play reports that are useful and interesting? Here are my suggestions.

Subheadings. Group information so about every full screen of text you’ve got a subheading. This breaks the information up into manageable chunks when reading, diminishing the “text wall” effect, and also helps you find things you’re looking for later.

Targeted Information. The main reason I do play reports is because I want to be able to refer to what happened, when I’m planning and running later sessions. Choose information with this in mind. Whole conversations and strings of events can be reduced to a couple sentences. Fights can be summarized and glossed over, unless it is going to matter who shot who and which character stabbed how many orcs. Focus on NPCs and their information, any promises made or broken, background information that you might need to re-use parts of the situation as they crop up later, and outcomes of scenes. Pay special attention to the stuff you improvised and won’t remember in a day or two.

A play report can balance the needs of the players (who want to see how cool their characters look, and get NPC names and events and commitments straight, comparing to their table notes) and the GM (who needs canon and precedent sorted out for future planning and reference, and may be advertising the game.)

Battles tend towards very short play reports, where you aim for memorable moments and battle outcomes. The longest reports tend to come from investigations where there are many clues and NPCs the players or GM may wish to revisit.

Quick, Dirty, Active. Use strong verbs and keep descriptions short. You want the reader to get a painting of how a scene felt in just a few sentences. It’s fine to go a little “purple” or melodramatic in describing things. Hit descriptions fast and move on; it’s a summary, not fiction.

Provoke Jealousy. I hope people who read my play reports think “I want to play in that game!” To that end, don’t insult players or characters in the play report. Portray PCs in the most positive light you can. Condensing the game to a crisp summary can make it look fast and taut and fun–ideally, it was. Jamming flavor into your verbs and keeping the story jumping along can inflect the memory of players and the perception of readers.

Past Tense. Pick a tense before you start writing, and stick to it. I recommend past tense. Only step beyond that intentionally; an NPC may control the docks, so you want to say “Jack controls the docks” instead of “Jack controlled the docks,” but make sure it is a choice and not an oversight every time you step out of past tense.

Links. Link to the previous session when you do a play report. If you do a number of them, make a page on your blog, or some other location, where you can put the series and link to each play report. Make it easy to browse through them. Maybe use Obsidian Portal if you don’t have a blog.

I hope that helps you write up your play reports! While I have been doing play reports for many years, all the write-ups I’ve done since 2012 are linked here.

https://fictivefantasies.wordpress.com/games/

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Edge City: Spoiling Schemes

Edge City banner

Weeks passed after the heroes shuttered Hell.

Adrian Pellwitch Takes it Easy

George Pellwitch had about a week of tourism in Edgarton, and in the process became friends with Swashbuckler as a fellow monster hunter (in his way.) Adrian told Swashbuckler he was grateful for the help during the crisis, and Swashbuckler mentioned he could use some help getting a Letter of Marque and Reprisal signed by the police commissioner Alex Felton.

(As an immortal pirate, Swashbuckler uses his age of sail ship and its magical stealth abilities to interfere with smuggling and offshore mischief. Frustrated with slippery criminals in the legal system, he pioneered the “confess or maroon” program where those who did not confess their misdeeds to the system get re-captured and put on a spit of sand in the ocean until they reconsider. Swashbuckler likes to have a Letter of Marque and Reprisal signed by the current police commissioner to endorse his work, to underscore that he is a vigilante for the good of the city; a privateer, rather than a pirate.)

Adrian took his wife Emma and their surviving bodyguard Ellis along with the yacht captain Mugsy and went on a two week tour of the Florida Keys and Grand Cayman. Emma doesn’t like going in the water, but she likes the beach. One tipsy night she confided in Adrian that since she dated a fellow who turned out to be a Deep One hybrid, and he threatened her that his kin can smell her in the ocean, and she’s had nightmares about being dragged off by Deep Ones, the ocean has lost its appeal for her. But she feels safe with Adrian. Adrian and Mugsy also tried out the yacht’s submarine to poke around the reef and surprise scuba divers.

Genevieve Malone Pursues Leads

Meanwhile, back in Edgarton, Genevieve spent some quality time with her husband Graves. She also investigated Grim’s disappearance, interviewing Emma and Ellis (Emma’s bodyguard) about what happened to Grim. He apparently repelled the Lord of Air (incorporeal possessing demon) that got into him, and dragging out the one in Ellis with a fierce kiss; her lungs were damaged as from smoke inhalation by the ferocity of the struggle. He put up a hell of a fight on his own so the others could escape, and that was the last they saw of him.

Genevieve enlisted Kryptma and Morris to use their shaman powers to help. Grim didn’t turn up. Kryptma and Morris and Kryptma’s other mysterious boyfriend formed a love triangle and they couldn’t resist pulling Genevieve in as a listening ear (though she refused to offer advice into that teen drama machine.)

The shamen were united in providing an extra boost to the banewar south of town, where a spirit roc and umbral unicorn and other spirits and shamen provide a bulwark against the tide of bane spirits flowing from where a nuke was detonated deep in the state park. Kryptma decided to help out to push the effort ahead and buy the defenders some breathing space.

Genevieve, the Gray Ghost, and the wreckage of the metal-bodied assassin robot Daniel talked about his future. The Ghost said she was willing to purloin a new flesh-sheathed metal body (a terminator, basically) that didn’t have its positronic brain yet. And, she was willing to call in an engineer that she trusted who owed her a major favor to install Daniel’s brain in the new body. Genevieve and Daniel agreed to the risks involved; it was not certain how much longer his brain would be stable in its current wrecked shell. The Ghost set wheels in motion to achieve that end.

Sgt. Gorman, Genevieve’s Downtown police contact, recruited her to help with a string of robberies of hidden money stashes in high-rise buildings, conducted by the Webmaster. The only evidence he leaves at crime scenes is a marble-sized motion activated projector, so when someone enters the scene it projects a spider logo. He got his training and gear in Benton, and when it got too hot for him there, he relocated to Edge City.

Sidewinders and Webmasters

Genevieve started investigating, revealing that the places that were hit were new and old stash spots put in by the Chan family. Some of them were installed at the height of their power from sale of the Whisper drug. The estimate of stolen goods was impossible to verify, but could be as much as $30 million over six jobs.

Also, as it turns out, Mr. Breathman was a high-up accountant with the Chan family, and he was captured by gunmen. Willingly or not, he was probably telling his captors where the sites were, and his captors were sending the Webmaster as a hired gun to clean them out. Who was behind it?

Sal “The Salamander” Carter, head of the new gang the Sidewinders, had a brand new club Downtown called the Snake Pit. It was built in the wreckage path left by the Ragnorok Wrecker that almost destroyed the city. Terrible pastels alongside big band 1950s ambiance.

The Salamander used to be a two-bit thug for the Bertinelli family, but recently he sold his soul to a crossroads demon to become a criminal big shot. Now rocketed to wealth and fame, he picks easy targets so he doesn’t start a war with anybody, and he lives it up as the big man others must take seriously. Still, cleverness is not his overarching finest trait; the loot and prisoner were probably stashed in his nightclub.

A Night On the Town

Adrian and Genevieve dressed nicely and went to the Snakepit to scout the location. They saw where Sal held court, and identified the lieutenants and armed thugs, taking in the sights. A balcony, an off-limits basement, the apartment building across the alley belonged to them too and that’s where they stored the liquor, food, and other supplies.

Genevieve was recognized by the bartender, so Sal’s second in command, Tom Skern, strolled over to have a pleasant conversation and to suggest if they had any law issues they come to him rather than making a scene or going to Sal. He also gave Adrian his card–and his personal phone number. Looking good!

Eventually Genevieve headed for the ladies room. There was a mirror in the handicapped stall, so she used that to pop out into the umbra, and navigate through the charred dimensional wreckage of the Wrecker’s path to find a couple mirrors downstairs. She slid out of the one in the bathroom and invoked the Mists of R’lyeh, then scouted.

There, in the common room, the vault. A small area with three cells, guarded by two alert thugs; and in one cell, Mr. Breathman. She telepathically contacted him, much to his discomfort and surprise. He was obviously held against his will and not given any luxuries. He refused to escape as long as the Sidewinders had his granddaughter Li, a pretty sixteen year old girl. Genevieve agreed to help him rescue her and get him out, if he would tell them where Webmaster was going to strike next. Deal.

She strolled past guards and out the secret door and back into the club, hidden by the magical mists. Adrian dismissed the illusion of Genevieve he had conjured to cover her absence as she returned to the table.

On the off chance that the Sidewinders centralized things, Genevieve telepathically scanned the building next door. Sure enough, she found a mind that was sure to be Li, on the fourth floor, bored and guarded.

A Grim Situation

As she shook her head at their stupidity, Julio, a member of the Brotherhood of the Road, approached Adrian. He was to call his wife. Julio left, and Adrian called home.

Emma was seriously rattled. Grim had returned, and said he wanted to see Genevieve, then stalked away; something about him frightened her badly.

Adrian and Genevieve left the club and went through a mirrored window facing an alley not far away, emerging in the mirror safe room in Adrian’s basement. Emma was happy to see them, feeling much safer. Genevieve scouted, finding Grim’s footprints on the rain-soaked lawn, going down to a departing motorcycle’s tire track.

Who else might Grim visit? Genevieve called Grainger Pennywise to put him on alert, just in case. Ellis and Emma felt safer with Adrian than at home, so they piled into the car, and the four headed to Old Man Marcher’s burned out ruin. That had been home once.

The Crawford Burial Plot

There, they found the house number of the Crawford Place scrawled on a stone. They headed to the burned-out ruin of what had once been a home to Genevieve, and her now-deceased cousin, and after that, Daniel. It was a lonely ruin on a wind-swept and lightly-traveled road. Emma and Ellis held back as Adrian and Genevieve approached the ruin and spotted some light, like a candle, from the basement.

Ellis started shooting. Two Lords of Air were trying to possess the women, but their Elder Sign pendants were repelling them. Adrian closed in, and those demons retreated even as another tried to sneak attack his owl familiar, pouring into her beak; her magical connection to Adrian was enough for her to repel the attack.

All four of them approached the house. Adrian’s magically honed senses detected Grim in the basement, and he went down alone to talk to him. Grim growled that he wanted to see Geneiveve, so the ladies started down the stairs into the ruin of the basement. Genevieve could immediately tell Grim’s body didn’t have him in it; it was a possessed corpse.

Regretful but unwavering, Adrian blew the haunted corpse away with magic–but Grim’s body had been sitting on a dead man’s switch, triggering a massive explosion. Adrian’s quick reflexes protected the four of them from being blown up, and they staggered out of the crater. Hurrying to the car, they delayed long enough for Genevieve to check it for tampering or explosives, then they headed to Favian Church.

The church was heavily laced with Elder Signs and contained a Great Seal, so Lords of Air were not a threat there. Fr. Abrams was sympathetic to their cause and quite willing to shelter Emma and Ellis. Genevieve called her husband Graves, and he used the secret dimensional door between Favian Manor’s basement and Favian Church’s basement to join them. For safety’s sake. (Graves also planned to resume crushing Fr. Abrams at chess, announcing the order in which he would take pieces before the game began and winning anyway.)

Two Rescues

The night was young; it was half past ten. Adrian and Genevieve returned Downtown, to the apartment building next to the Snakepit, where Li was prisoner. Adrian levitated them up to the roof. He used his magical shapeshifting armor to give himself an impressive black wizard garb. Then he magically stealthed into the building, taking out the two guards protecting Li. He invited her to escape with him, and she was impressed by his garb and ability. Stepping out a window with her, he levitated down to the street.

Genevieve would protect Li while Adrian would rescue her grandfather, Breathman. Genevieve put all four of them on the psychic tac net, and Li said she was impressed with the wizard, and thought he maybe worked for the president. She switched over to Chinese and noted that these people were allies of the Gray Ghost, her gift told her that. Adrian, able to understand and speak all human languages, found that interesting. Breathman asked who he owed a favor to for this, and Adrian replied, Genevieve Malone.

Using his magical stealth, he entered the club unseen and slid into the defended back hallway, through the secret door, and down to the basement. He used magic to knock out the two guards and open the door, and he took Breathman back up to the back of the building and magically stepped them both through the solid wall, leaving no trace of their exit.

Breathman and Li were delighted to be together again. Breathman told Genevieve and Adrian that Webmaster would hit the Vesterman Building, Downtown, at midnight; in about half an hour. Then Genevieve gave them cab fare, and they disappeared into the city.

Thwarting Webmaster

Sgt. Gorman had to be careful because when they approached Webmaster on a previous heist he saw them coming and vanished. He had to have a small, fast-moving presence, but to catch Webmaster, he had to know exactly where and when he was acting. Genevieve called him and told him to get in position, fast. Then she and Adrian drove to the area of the Vesterman Building to intercept.

Genevieve found him telepathically. He was dressed as a cabbie, driving the grid around the building looking for suspicious cop-like loitering vehicles and such. She observed as he parked in an alley, and used a pre-set counterweight pully to zip up to the roof of a 35 story building near the target. He jumped off the roof, using a dissolving parachute to glide over to the roof of the 25 story building target. Then he was in.

Adrian flew up to his entry point carrying Genevieve, using his magical cloak. As they stealthed in, Genevieve heard Webmaster hissing a conversation with someone in the front desk, who told him cops were in the express elevator. Webmaster had paid off the local staff. He quickly packed, preparing to escape.

Adrian used magical stealth and caught him by surprise, knocking him out with magic before the cat burglar knew he was there. They checked the wall where he had been working; a bricked up dumbwaiter shaft. Adrian opened it with magic, and they found a shrink-wrapped stack of bearer bonds, and a briefcase full of property deeds. They left the bonds on Webmaster, and escaped with the briefcase before the cops showed up.

Maybe the case against the Webmaster would stick, but probably not; in any case, the Sidewinders were foiled for the time being.

Wrap Up

After retrieving their loved ones from Favian Church, they considered the night’s events from the parlor in Favian Manor. Genevieve surveyed the briefcase deeds, and found that they were to properties in Settler–properties surrounding the Seertech reclamation plant. Interesting.

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Silent Legions: Surface Tension. (Session 1)

Silent Legions, Grifton, 3

Disruption

Terry Fox. A week after the incident in the Sears ruin, Terry was summarily fired; the boss picked one of many possible reasons and acted on it. By the time Terry was sobering up from throwing a wake for his job, he was approached by Ty Glenderry, a private investigator working for Tally Investigative Services. Glenderry offered Terry a job for twice what he was making before, to join a stable of investigators that contract with various law firms in town to provide surveillance and investigation. Terry was initially reluctant, and he checked the company out; they had some shady tactics, sure, but they worked for and protected their wealthy clients. It didn’t seem worse than working for the police. He signed on. The job turns out to be pretty cushy, and Glenderry is a great partner. Terry has been with the company for a month, mostly doing stakeouts and legwork to check people out. At the one month mark, Ty gave him a folding knife anniversary present and a job to do some light background checking on Helouise Havershaum. Her husband was a client, and she had headaches; could there be malfeasance? Look around. Talk to the lady.

Truc Trang. A week after the incident in the Sears ruin, Terry was let go from the slaughterhouse. No reason offered. One of the fighters in his circuit, Chucklehead Casey, offered to get him a job with Darcy Private Security as a bodyguard or home security agent. Mourning the loss of the job that represented turning away from petty crime, Truc reluctantly accepted. The process was pretty smooth. He was assigned to Alex and Helouise Havershaum and their daughter Emilia (20) a student at Marlbeth University. Alex is a lawyer at Everson, Clay, Solar, and Smith. Helouise is an artist, specializing in portraits and oil paintings. His case officer is Jethro Skeen, who handles the four man team assigned to the Havershaums. Sally Ang, Tom Costner, Arby Smith.

Jason Jones. A week after the incident in the Sears ruin, Jason was contacted by Dr. Campbell, Dean of Medicine at Marlbeth. Sam Tyriex was a wealthy meat magnate, and he was suffering from inoperable bone cancer. He had his last days to live out, and he requested a doctor who was familiar with the Packers; Campbell knew of no one better. Plus, the job change would assure the financial future of the Third Son Clinic, which was increasingly shaky as a government grant fell through due to failing to meet architectural specifications. Once he was onsite in the opulent Shroud Ridge mansion, he was given very nice quarters and access to the staff. He was also expected to be the “family doctor” to assist in any delicate matters other members of the Tyriex family might have. Cam Stevens is the butler who takes care of Tyriex Manor and the servants and family members and guests. Allen Ellis is the family lawyer. Important members of the family include his son Glen Tyriex (current head of the company) and his chilly wife Ursela. Sam’s daughter Callie Rye is a partner in a law firm Downtown. He also dotes on his grandchildren, both by Glen: Helouise Havershaum (an artist of some repute) and Guy Tyriex who is intent on wasting the family fortune. Sam’s granddaughter Helouise was having intense headaches, and on Dr. Jones’ urging she was to go downtown to get some scans done.

Emilia Havershaum. She was a student at Marlbeth University with a business major. She has off-campus housing in Madvane Estates, but often lives in Shroud Ridge at the Havershaum Estate with her parents. Her father is Alex, a lawyer at Everson, Clay, Solar, and Smith. Her mother Helouise is an artist, specializing in portraits and oil paintings. The only other family she has much contact with is her great grandfather on her mother’s side, Sam Tyriex, a wealthy meat magnate suffering from inoperable bone cancer. Her grandfather, Glen Tyriex, is head of the company now. Also her great-aunt, Callie Rye, is a law firm partner Downtown; relations are a bit chilly. Her uncle Guy Tyriex is intent on wasting the family fortune, but at least he is sometimes fun.

The Big Day

On Friday, April 15, Terry headed to the Havershaum Estate in Shroud Ridge. A butler let him in, and he came face to face with Truc, who was onsite security. That was startling, but after a little conversation, Emilia arrived. Helouise had asked her to come along for moral support, since Alex was traveling in Asia. Emilia fetched Helouise from her room, seeing her mother significantly weakened by pain. Truc pulled the reinforced black SUV around so they could load up.

Dr. Jason Jones arrived just in time to go with them; traffic, always a problem. Truc, Terry, and Jason were pleased, surprised, and wary to all see each other here for unrelated reasons. They headed out to the hospital.

On the way Terry asked Helouise some questions. She couldn’t think of any special disruptions in routine or things out of place, though as an artist and lawyer with wealth, of course they had enemies. She drew Terry in four lines, capturing a weary impression. She said she used a six line drawing to capture her husband. She didn’t have much useful information to offer, but her weird intensity left its own impression.

The Box

They crossed to Downtown Island, and then to Downtown, before they ran into massive delays. One construction delay sent them to a tunnel for about 4 blocks, and once they were trapped down there with all the exhaust fumes and honking, construction workers opened another small side tunnel to relieve the traffic pressure. After Truc pulled in to it, he noticed they closed it behind him. Alone in the tunnel, right next to a tunnel full of drivers, they were accosted by four men with masks, armor, and machine guns yelling at them to get out of the car.

The back tires were blown out by stop sticks as Truc tried to escape, and more were put down in front of the way out. The attackers opened up with submachine guns, riddling the reinforced SUV with bullets; the windows gave, but no one was hit. Truc and Terry returned fire, and Truc gave Jason a backup pistol stored in the SUV for awkward moments like this.

Truc and Terry knocked down one of the four attackers, and Jason killed one with a shot. While Truc and Terry concentrated fire on the third, Jason charged the fourth, heedless of his submachine gun. In a short and sharp conflict he knocked away the man’s submachine gun and took his baton out of his hand as concentrated fire finished off the fourth attacker after Truc took a bullet to the shoulder.

The… THING

Jason’s sparring partner let out a strangled scream and turned to run, and Jason pounced on him, knocking him out. Something heavy crashed down on the roof of the SUV, and peeled it open!

Emilia saw something alien and horrific, and managed to pull her mother out of the SUV. As they scrambled towards relative safety, Truc and Terry and Jason opened fire on the creature, scoring some direct hits. It flopped back off the truck, clattering down on the asphalt.

While Terry shielded the Havershaum women, Truc checked out the creature, getting a closer (nauseating) look. Its face had a compound eye in the center, and each facet was like a human eye. Its chin was full of short acidic feeder tentacle stubs flanked by mandibles. The torso of the exoskeleton was hollow, packed with a squirming mass of feeder tendrils (some of which were still hooked onto the truck, draped like meaty crepe paper streamers.) It had acidic tubes and pockets in its body that were now breaking it down, but it appeared to digest its food by spraying acid on it then feasting on the liquefying material. Mantis claws could fold over its “forearms” or extend for uncomfortably powerful ripping and gripping strength.

Unwilling to be the only one to get a better look at the thing, Truc insisted Jason take a look before bandaging his wound. They heard police sirens, but knew it would be 10 minutes (at the fastest) and maybe much longer before the police found the site of the battle. With gridlock, the city was even more difficult to navigate.

Terry used medical tape to take fingerprints, hair, and skin samples from one of the guards (who was not dead, just badly hurt and unconscious.) He also took a cell phone picture of his face. Who sent these guys, anyway?

While patching Truc up, Jason heard a cracking slithering sound, and they both looked–the thing’s “calves” had cracked open, and inside each was a tightly compacted ball of roach-like translucent bugs, pale and blue tinged. They ran for it, a few of them getting up Jason’s pant legs. Out to the sunlight!

Relative Safety

Emilia knew of a friend who was security conscious and scandal averse whose apartment was seven blocks away. They hailed a cab, paying extra for stuffing everyone in and for ignoring guns and blood and awful smells. They visited Sven Hendrickson, or tried to.

A woman, Christina, answered the buzzer. When they said they were in some trouble, she was eager to let them in and instruct the elevator guard to allow them access. She was enthusiastic about hearing details of the “kidnapping attempt” as they chose to spin the encounter. Meanwhile they could take in the glory of Hendrickson’s lacrosse trophies from all around the world, with appropriate knick knacks to reinforce the international flavor.

The team called the family lawyer, the security companies involved, and the hospital (to cancel the appointment.) A security team from Truc’s company arrived with a convoy, and they took the group further Downtown to the Civic building, where they went to the roof and got a chopper that airlifted her back to Shroud Ridge, where her security team was waiting with the armored car to take her entourage home.

A Story, Crooked

Truc needed a long shower, fresh bandages, and clean clothes. Meanwhile the others set up a sort of war room in the basement game room. Terry started a home-brew crime lab setup, and also instructed Emilia to write out what happened, and an abridged version, so they could get the story straight. He did the same.

Jason’s socks were full of blood and he was leaving gory footprints. He realized some of the bugs in his trousers had either released acid upon being smashed, or bit him, but the chemical deadened the nerves. He had a lengthy process of washing out the wounds and bandaging himself.

Meanwhile Helouise passed out, with blood trickling from her nose. Jason was spurred into action, and they called in a helicopter life flight for her. Truc and two other guards went with the helicopter, as well as Helouise and Jason. Terry and Emilia and one guard stayed at the estate, which was locked down.

After the helicopter left, Terry got in touch with Ty, who explained he was parked down the street watching. Terry invited him in, and they had a heart-to-heart. Ty explained that orders came from above that it had to be Terry on this assignment. On this particular day. It was clear and specific. What had he gotten into? Ty strongly advised him to get some distance, because he didn’t want his partner to get wrecked by some conspiracy. Meanwhile he was working with the other security company and select friends in the police force and the family lawyer to make that car accident pretty much disappear. They could use company resources to try and identify the shooters. Ty left, but could Terry feel very reassured by this turn of events? Ty congratulated him on finding signs of malfeasance, anyway…

A Plea for Help

Meanwhile, at the hospital, Helouise got scans. Jason was as puzzled as the doctors; she appeared to have mini-concussions, small bruises and tiny leaking in the brain, but from no discernible trauma.

Helouise chose Truc to be the guard in the room. He was quietly praying, a recent habit acquired after the Sears ruin,when she beckoned him over for a private conversation. She drew an outline that he recognized as the pothole from the Sears ruin. She told him that the thing that attacked them was a spectator in the ongoing intrusions into her dreams, and she told him of a creature with a hideous visage but a natty business suit that attacked her in those painful dreams. She sensed he might be able to help, either by staying here, or elsewhere. Exhausted, she fell into a fitful sleep.

Truc brought Jason and Terry into the conversation (texting the simple outline to Terry.) Maybe they needed to find the gold-eyed man they saved from the pet shop.

Just then, a bus drove by on an overpass by the hospital. On the side was an advertisement for a law firm, Singleton, Rye, and Oaks. The man on the side of the bus was the man with the gold eyes, though in the picture they weren’t that striking color. A sign? Maybe?

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Darkest Dungeons in the World Between: Giant

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Heath the bandit and Chester the occultist rode the carriage up to Zellanta, joining Martin the leper, Vance the crusader, and Galatea the vestal (who arrived earlier.) They were sent out to a nearby lake, where forces of evil were raising horrible shrines to thicken the Encroachment and twist the area with horrible energies of the World Below. Three shrines had to be found and destroyed.

First Shrine

They followed the road the next morning after a service where Vance armored their minds against the coming stress. Passing the old wrecked coach road’s markers, they entered the Encroachment. They managed to get the drop on an encampment of mutated bandits, wiping out about a dozen shooters and blade wielders, and facing off with a huge hulk with a whip scourge.

The occultist swarmed the fight with massive tentacles from the Void, crushing and flinging the bodies of their foes, and keeping the big bandit distracted with tentacles long enough for Martin and Vance to wipe out his defenders and kill him. Chester was shot in the chest, almost lethally; Galatea healed him enough to stave off death, and he returned to whipping bandits with tentacles.

After the fight, Heath sifted the site for the most portable and valuable goods. Chester summoned alien flesh and grafted it to his chest, replacing his damaged organs. Vance and Martin gleefully hacked the shrine to pieces, wrecking it.

Second Shrine

From the shore of the lake by the first shrine, they saw the other two. As they followed the track through the woods to close in on the second, they saw and heard massive foul bubbles released from the lake, closing in on the second shrine site.

They reached the second shrine to see a line of priestesses channeling Encroachment energy from the shrine out lakeward, and a head the size of a refrigerator was emerging, along with shoulders draped with kelp. The priestesses were protected by a mass of cultist brawlers, like the one they killed in the last expedition. Battle was joined.

Martin went for the direct chopping maneuvers, while Vance also chanted battle litanies that seared the cultists crowding around him. The rest attacked from a distance, again swarming the battleground with otherworldly tentacles.

The priestesses fought back with mind-wrenching stress and conjured tentacles trying to push attackers away, but they were quickly mowed down by tentacles and gunfire and lightning. As the last of the cultists fell, the 40 foot tall giant emerged from the lake, snapping off a tree to use as a club.

The tentacles wrestled with him, keeping him too busy to attack, and the whole party closed on him and delivered a righteous beatdown.

Resting and tending their wounds, they gathered valuables to the middle of the clearing and made sure the giant was dead. There was still one shrine left.

Third Shrine

They followed the lake track around towards the third shrine. The Encroachment was thicker than they had ever experienced it. They were ambushed along the way by two fungal humanoid shapes that tore loose of trees where they had been glued, and four masses of fungal growth flanking the path.

A brief and fierce battle followed, with the intruders victorious. Chester was seeing visions of the tendrils he was supposed to control acting independently, coming for him, but he was mentally strong enough to separate hallucination from truth.

They got close enough to see the final shrine, surrounded by embedded fungal monsters. Heath stripped off his gear so he could carry the shrine, then he snuck in close, jumping out to grab the shrine and run before the fungus could react. He succeeded, and they managed to quickly batter the shrine to pieces then run for it before the forces of the Encroachment could close them in. Victory!

Payday

The caretaker bought all the gems and knick knacks, and also gave them 500 silver per shrine. The heroes let Heath keep all the expensive guns and ammo he had looted, as he expended plenty to help them out and would do so again. Brimming with silver and still alive, the heroes could rest and prepare for their next mission.

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Darkest Dungeons in the World Between: Arrival

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Martin the Leper, Vance the Crusader, and Galatea the Vestal were sent from the Church of the Lady in Trivium to assist a local baron with a troublesome settlement up in the mountains. Centuries ago, the noble responsible for the small town of Zellanta delved into the occult and accidentally opened a gate to the World Below just a crack.

The energy flowing from that crack, called the Encroachment, mutated everything it touched. It took a long time to spread, but it is now creating quite an unstable presence in the area. The baron (who is almost certainly a vampire) contacted the church to give them a chance to work out their evil-smashing zeal in an environment that doesn’t threaten those in power.

Bumpy Ride

The crazy coach driver barreled along unsafe roads, heading towards the tiny settlement up in the mountains. Rounding a corner, they saw a fallen tree ambush, and the coach was wrecked. They climbed out, ready for trouble, and faced off with a pack of zealous bandits.

Vance took a blow to the head that knocked him senseless, and Martin leaped into the fray and was subdued by four-to-one odds. Galatea surrendered. They were all disarmed and dragged through the woods to meet with the leader.

The impossibly huge bandit with his knotted rope flail held court in a clearing, his throne fashioned from the cascading tap roots of a vast tree. He gloated that they would be killed if they wanted to continue, but the bandits would release them at the road if they would leave, never to return. The leper stung the bandit leader’s pride with a harsh speech, and the bandit agreed to single combat. They fought viciously, and the leper was knocked down, but Galatea managed a surreptitious healing and Martin got up, fighting on to win the battle.

The bandits had a morale failure, and fled. Galatea used crackling divine light to knock down the bandit with her mace, and Vance chanted prayers at the one carrying his sword, flaring holy energy through the Encroachment surrounding the unfortunate mutant, who collapsed. As they escaped, the invaders managed to grab a heavy sack of silver that belonged to the bandit leader. Then they escaped back to the road, cut some coach horses loose, and rode them into town.

Town

They checked in with the coach driver, who somehow managed to get back to town before they did. They took in the sight of the pretty much ruined town, then checked in to the tavern. While drinking, they were visited by the eerie Caretaker, who told them there was a 10% tax on earned treasure.

After a good night’s sleep, they visited the church. Its presence repelled the Encroachment, so the town was relatively safe. They met the weedy, nervous abbot. They talked about the past. Apparently the baron sent a garrison of troops to the town, but their leaders fell to the Encroachment, and now they are bandits, cultists, and worse, mutated by the corrupting mists.

He told them the Encroachment tended to gravitate around a node, usually an altar or statue or something like that. Then it would swell, and send out feelers to the next node. Did they see anything like that? They figured something might have been behind the roots.

After a short worship to prepare body and soul, they ventured forth.

Short Mission

They headed back down the road. A contingent of bandits ambushed them, but they were ready this time, and they slashed through the bandits in short order. Vance took the blunderbuss that was fired at them, a weapon and a trophy.

Outpacing the incoming reinforcements, they got to the ambush site, and then into the forest, before the clotted weird wolves caught up to them. They slaughtered their way out of that predicament, and found themselves on the hill overlooking the box.

Below, exhausted bandits were cutting themselves and conducting a ritual, smearing their blood on an idol of a tentacle. A grim cult priest looked on. As the bandits saw the invaders, they rushed into battle, to be blown away by the blunderbuss; in their weakened state, it carved a swathe through them.

The cult leader assaulted them to be felled in one mighty blow. The invaders quickly went to the idol and smashed it, keeping a piece to show the abbot. Then they withdrew, slipping past the disoriented and dismayed bandits to reach town safely.

They were well paid for their work, and more tasks were sure to rise for them soon.

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Silent Legions: A Pulse, Pounding (Session 4)

Silent Legions, Grifton, 2

They stood regarding the abandoned Sears department store/mall. Terry knew he had to go in, to follow the series of strange impulses that led him here. Truc had to go in, to look after his buddies and face down this thing menacing his home. Dr. Jones had to go in, because if things got bad on a broader scope he would see it in his clinic. Lawrence looked at the others, and reached his limit; whether they ran into law enforcement because of this jaunt, or criminals, either way they’d need someone on the outside to help them get clear. He drove off, instead of going into the ruin.

Let’s All Go to Sears

Truc got them through the padlocked fence, and they strolled around the exterior looking for signs of activity. The loading dock had tire tracks, and a wireless security camera, recently added. Not wanting to be seen, they climbed a tree to get on the awning of an unused entrance, up to the roof. There they found signs of a foot patrol, so they got away from that and got to one of the roof access points that was unused.

Truc struggled with the lock, and someone was coming with a flashlight, along the route. He got the lock open, and threw a rock to distract the patrol, then they all ducked inside. Down the stairs, and they were in the back of a shoe department. Truc remembered getting shoes here as a kid; the Sears closed 15 years ago.

They jacked up the security door and crept out into the abandoned department store. Breaking into an area that had an internal staircase, less likely to be guarded, they headed down.

Guardians

They paused when they saw two guards below with walkie talkies. One also had a shotgun. They talked about the “package” being secure. Dr. Jones and Terry crept down the escalator, in position, and Truc got one of the mannequins left in the store, positioned it like it fell, and rolled its head down the escalator. (The power was off in the building.)

One guard went up the stairs to investigate. He growled, and sniffed?! His eyes glowed green. He was armed with a knife, and dressed with leftovers scrounged from the Sears (fashions 15+ years old.) He closed in on Truc’s hiding place.

Meanwhile, the others jumped the guard with the shotgun. Terry wrestled it away from him before Dr. Jones sailed in with his kung fu and knocked the guard out cold. The upstairs guard went to the top of the stairs to see what was going on, and Truc body checked him to tumble down. The guard caught himself halfway, and Truc landed a massive uppercut on him that hurled him down the rest of the way to break his neck as he landed.

His blood was iridescent green, and he smelled like cleaning supplies and a septic tank. They took the guns and radios, and continued downstairs.

Backup

The radio squawked, follow up to the guards calling in a disturbance, asking if it was sorted out. Truc tried to cough and obscure a response, and the radios were switched to alternate channels. They looked for a place to quickly hide, and Truc found a pile of stacked corpses under a tarp that weren’t decomposing normally, but were withering and mummifying.

They were still hiding when three guards came by; one was huge, with the glowing green eyes; another was weedy, but with the glowing eyes; the third was a guy with a ball cap, flak vest, and submachine gun.

The fight was short and sharp. The thin weirdo was shot but escaped to report back. The guy with the vest and submachine gun was shot down before he could do much. The big guy, on the other hand, brutally attacked the intruders. Also, one of his arms elongated through the flesh and became a claw, and his face opened up to reveal a mass of vileness behind it. Still, masses of gunfire put him down.

Truc had been smacked around pretty good, and Dr. Jones had some sort of projectiles lodged in his chest from the weirdo who ran away. They found a spot to treat their wounds, and a woman came to talk to them. One of the weird things she said was that she wasn’t all there. She just wanted to talk, or so she said, but Terry tried to shoot her down. His shaky hands betrayed him, only winging her, but Truc leaned out of hiding and shot her square. She fell over.

Terry approached her, and he was ready for it; she popped up and he gunned her down with the submachine gun.

The Theater

After they were quickly patched up, they headed into the underground theater. Sneaking up to the projection booth, they saw that two of the theaters were used as drug labs, the other two as storage for a massive shipment of Gangplank. They were checking out the film room, finding nothing flammable–except it was also the armory, with shotguns, submachine guns, pistols, and grenades. They wondered where the “package” was.

A man in the hallway answered them; it’s in the pet shop. They pivoted to see Jim Gunderson, dressed in a white suit and pink shirt, barefoot. He explained he was getting revenge on the one who killed him. They were confused, and he remembered they were seeing his shell; he revealed his true appearance to them, which was utterly revolting (but somewhat matched the charcoal sketch from Gunderson’s dream.)

Enough talk! They opened fire on him, and snatched at the armory supplies. He was knocked down, but his blood was reluctant to leave him. They ran for it, and he casually pursued.

The Pet Shop

Rushing into the stinky abandoned pet shop they shot the guards looking after it, with Gunderson right behind them. They found a man in a suit chained to a chair; breaking the chair was easier than dealing with the chains.

The man said he was Ralf Singleton, a lawyer with Singleton, Rye, and Oaks, with offices Downtown; he claimed to have no idea why this crazy guy was after him. Thinking fast as they broke him out, they figured he was probably the lawyer that denied Jim treatment.

Then Jim was on his way into the pet shop. Ralf said there was an elevator to get out the back way, into the parking garage. He told them he’d hold the coming monster off, buy them time; at that point they realized he might not just be a lawyer. Terry challenged him on it, and looked into the man’s eyes–they were terrifying, for just a moment. A paralyzing gaze. And the man muttered that he was starving and this was NOT a good time to challenge him. Then he took a few steps–and pretty much disappeared into thin air.

The Escape

Swearing, they ran for it. As they dashed up the stairwell by the freight elevator, some guards pursued. They tossed a grenade down the stairwell before banging out, sending casing fragments propelled at high speed around the concrete chimney. They gunned down the guy in the parking garage. He was guarding a taxi, a way to get around the city invisibly.

As they were making their adrenaline-fueled getaway, Terry was distracted for a moment. He took a few steps, and saw off to the side, a chughole with water in it. It was the same hole that had filled him with dread in his lucid dream. It matched the charcoal sketch. Something about that hole–

And Truc grabbed him and tossed him into the back of the cab as Terry laughed uncontrollably. They escaped, driving all the way to the university campus.

Aftermath

In the days that followed, they retrieved their vehicles from the parking lot across from the Sears ruin. Some smoke came out of it, but no first responders bothered with it. Nothing showed up on the news. It was like the whole surreal assault was a dream, unseen by the waking world. They all returned to their duties, and life went on.

However, Gangplank’s price skyrocketed as the supply dried up. Few could get enough to manage any long term abuse. The Shambles Crossroaders returned to their relative insignificance, and no gang war erupted. Dreams were quiet and personal reserves of helpless reaction once again. Ralf Singleton was back at work like nothing ever happened.

Terry, Truc, and Dr. Jones felt the touch of something otherworldly. They have reason to doubt that other world will leave them alone now. A cold caution underlies their days and nights as they find a new normal–one that isn’t.

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WARHAMMER. Goblins Are a Problem.

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The adventurers included:

  • Othric. A dwarven pharmacist.
  • Thorgrim. A dwarven mercenary.
  • Sevn. A dwarven slayer, beyond redemption and seeking a good death.
  • Kurt Semmler. A human outrider, messenger and courier for the College.
  • Marise Devereaux. A Bretonnian noble, training to join the musketeers.
  • Ozmont “Ozzie” Kel. A saucy bawd.

Marise got a mission from her musketeer contact. Turns out a woman named Mellria lived in a small village on the river Aver named Watersedge. Mellria was the unclaimed child of someone important, who kept an eye on her and protected her anonymity; even Mellria herself did not know one of her parents was important. The village was under threat from goblins, and Mellria’s patron wanted to make sure she was safe, without appearing to take an interest at all.So, Marise was sent to pretend to be family to Mellria, and see about thwarting the goblin menace to the village.

Marise went to the Sprocket, the ramshackle tavern on the College grounds, and recruited some people she’d worked with before. She had a war chest for the mission, and authorization to pay them 50 gold each for their (discreet) help.

Meanwhile, they had bought various supplies; mostly more armor, but Sevn bought a bandoleer of healing draughts, and Thorgrim asked others to chip in, so he could buy a cart horse named Sparklestep and a cart for the horse to draw. Watersedge was only a day’s ride away, so they headed out bright and early and got there as darkness and snow fell.

Looking Around Town

After a young teen let them in past the ramshackle “palisade” they went to the tavern, the Gauntlet. There they saw a road warden deep in his cups after a days-long bender, and they met the mayor and tavern owner, Gladstock.

They asked after Mellria’s whereabouts, and he was suspicious of that, so they switched over to asking about the goblin troubles. Apparently goblins attacked the north pasture, trying to erect a totem pole. They were surprised and chased off, but their shaman was distracted, and they captured him. He was a troublesome captive.

They went to see the captive goblin shaman. Four children were helping guard him, smashing the spiders he attracted as they came in. He was hanging upside down with a “disk of shame” to keep him from chewing through his restraints or captors.

Apparently a kid named Savellek saw goblins doing something at the bank of the river bend, but no one was interested. The newcomers were, so Savellek was called in to meet them back at the Gauntlet. The dwarves and Ozzie would go check out the river bend, and Marise and Kurt would go check on Mellria.

The River Bend

They snuck to see the river bend, and saw a few spider riding goblins and other forest goblins, and a shaman. They had a hole in the riverbank, and they were dumping in baskets of fish, then crooning and crying and singing into the hole. Weird.

It occurred to them that nobody knows where trolls come from, not really. Could this be a summoning? They snuck back undetected.

Mellria

She ran a clinic/knacker’s yard, and when they dropped in she was skinning a pig corpse. Marise told her that she was on a research mission to find a lost Bretonnian questing knight who moved through here decades ago; she guessed Mellria’s age at early 20s, so aimed for that time frame. Any legends or mysterious burial sites?

Marise figured she was here representing someone named Flint, and turned her down; she was baffled by that implication, and stuck with the knight story. Marise didn’t know of anything, but referred her to the mayor.

The adventurers got a good night sleep, standing watches and squishing spiders, and figured their next moves in the morning.

Showdown on the River Bend

First things first. With the mayor’s permission, they executed the captive shaman and burned the corpse and all its spiders.

Then they purchased the town’s supply of lamp oil through Ozzie’s generosity. They put some in bottles, for Kurt to carry.

Then they headed to the river bend to scout it out by light of day. They found a rupture in the earth, where something big pushed out, just inland of the tunnel. The hole smelled foul, with fish pressed in the mud here and there.

Following the tracks, they came to a shallow shoreline, where the river troll squatted by the water fishing, looking like a boulder until he moved. They also saw the shaman in the woods, his arm in a sling, looked after by some spider riders; apparently they summoned the troll, but negotiations for alliance were…ongoing.

Sevn charged the troll, with Ozzie and Thorgrim trotting along in his wake, and the others in the safety of the tree line. The troll leaped at Sevn, but didn’t connect with its attacks, and he mauled it fiercely. Thorgrim finished the troll off with his hammer, but broke the hip bone, rupturing the belly hide; acid sprayed all over the two dwarves, ruining their gear and threatening their lives.

Still, the troll was down. It tried to crawl into the water, but Thorgrim’s mighty thewes helped him prevent its escape. The containers of healing draught across Sevn’s chest were melted, and the magical liquid boiled with the foul acid, and healed him somewhat even as they ran all over the powerful acid and his torso and his melting armor.

The rest of the adventurers moved to help, Othric lighting the bottle firebombs and handing them to Kurt, who threw them at the troll; several missed or bounced off before one burst and set off a merry flame. They managed to drag the troll out further, and use the rest of the oil to spread the flame. The troll would not rise.

Wrapping It Up

While Thorgrim and Sevn both wanted to make lewd and challenging gestures to the goblins in the trees, the others restrained or prevented that activity, not wanting to turn this into a direct confrontation.

Ozzie approached the goblins, and told them more dwarves were coming; the shaman concluded that this was not an ideal site after all, and they would find another place to winter.

Victorious, they burned the troll corpse some more to be sure, then sold the rest of the lamp oil back to the village. There was a pathetic celebration for a day; the town was too poor to offer much. They stayed for a few days to make sure the goblins weren’t just outwaiting them, and they put some effort into offering suggestions for how to “fix” some of the fortifications.

Then they headed back to town, victorious, and got paid.

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