Western Front AAR


(Tom Lommel) #1

Rather than start a campaign diary, I’m going to post these sessions as one-off’s and that way maybe they’ll be more concise and searchable and you won’t have to scroll through a mess of replies to get to the juicy stuff.

If you are interested: thread of the previous (first) session.

Session Two: Western Front

We started by assigning the Campaign Roles and doing the resources and bookkeeping as best we could. It was a bit rocky but we got through it and now that they have completed a full cycle they see how everything interrelates a bit better. Next time should go smoother.

Mission Briefing

Render’s infantry have been slowed fording the Tigeria River, but his Knights of the Black Oak have ridden ahead to capture and harass stragglers on the rear flank of the retreat.

Their charismatic Zemyati leader, Boreyev One-Eye, recruits whatever stragglers he can and executes (some say sacrifices) those he can’t. He is using the ruined village of Dunnabel as a forward operating base while his troops scour the region for prisoners and supplies.

It is rumored that Render has gifted him a special asset to aid in his hunt: A great, pale-skinned hound named Eater, who feasts on the final breath of the dying.

Operation: Screaming Light
Assault. Rewards: +3 morale / Penalties: -1 supply

A unit of Black Knights is encamped near Ehrenwald, forcing captured prisoners to log the nearby trees which then get sent back to the shores of the Tigeria in an effort to build a bridge across the river. This mission is deep behind enemy lines and failing means you may expend more supplies than expected finding your way back.

Operation: Shattered Peak
Recon. Rewards: asset, +1 intel / Penalties: +1 time

Lead by Sveverena Bear-Tooth, this unit is making a successful sweep for supplies left behind in the retreat. She has recently defeated a remnant of The Six Banners to the north, capturing their black shot and finely-detailed field maps of Plainsworth and its environs. Intercept her before she can turn these resources over to Boreyev at Dunnabel.

Operation: Azure Tiger
Recon. Reward: +1 intel, -1 time / Penalties: +1 time

The objective is simple: sneak into Dunnabel and capture or kill Boreyev One-Eye. Be forewarned, the presence of Eater in his camp makes this a dangerous mission.

In the end, the Commander decides to pursue Boreyev as the primary mission, dispatch a squad on Shattered Peak, and automatically fail Screaming Light. Reasoning being: the rewards and penalties offset between the two recon missions (-1 time/+1 time) so if they fail one but succeed at the other it’s not a knock against them. The players also don’t really understand what supply does so, hey, they have one to burn on the Quartermaster sheet, who cares.

They send an Officer, the Scout, a Medic, and two Rookies.

Based on their intel questions, they deduce the best resource they could use for this mission are horses, which the Quartermaster does assign.

Main Mission: Azure Tiger

The party crits their engagement roll. I rule they have successfully sneak past the patrols and have secured a hiding spot for themselves and their horses just outside the walls of Dunnabel.

The party can see that guards patrol the fortified walls of Dunnabel and bonfires are blazing inside. Since they critted their engagement roll I let them pick what time they want to ideally arrive. Answer: 3am. The Scout pops his head up to a gaping crack in the partially-bombed walls and sees that the Knights of the Black Oak must have been celebrating something. But he also sees ~10 prisoners tied to stakes near the bonfires and some of the Knights are abusing them.

He makes a controlled/standard scout roll and deduces that there’s a cluster of three buildings inside the walls which must be the command quarters. Boreyev is likely in one of them.

I made a fortune roll for how easy it will be to sneak inside the compound and crit again. There’s a two-story building nearby where the first floor is largely destroyed but the beams still support the shell of the second floor. The Knights have stabled 30-40 horses in this area and it’s one of the reasons the party can successfully hide their horses so close by. There is a lone, attentive guard on duty but other than the roving watchmen on the walls, that’s it.

The Medic slips over the wall and sidles up to the guard. The Scout fires a shot from his bow and drops the guard who falls cleanly into the Medic’s arms. “I want you to know: I could heal you, but I’m not going to…” the Medic whispers as the Knight dies.

The rest of the party does a group scout action risky/standard to get over the wall. The Officer leads the action which is good because they roll crappy. I start a clock called The Watch Goes On Alert and tick 2 boxes.

One of the Rookies decides to rig a trap inside this makeshift stable. We do a flashback scene to get some greek fire (I really need to put more RP consequences on them getting material goods off a flashback) and he crits on his rig roll. When he trips this thing off, it should burn through the support beams and crash the upper floor onto the Knights’ horses.

The Officer takes the Medic and another Rookie and tries to slip into one of the command quarters. This does not go well. They are greeted by a half-naked knight pointing a blunderbuss at them “Who the fuck are you?” he growls at the Rookie. “Umm I um I just I got lost!” the Rookie stutters. The Medic tries to help out with this sway roll desperate/limited but fails and the Rookie gets a face full of blunderbuss. Luckily he burns some armor and makes a resistance roll and slaps the gun away so it only grazes his foot.

I set an eight-count clock Overcome the Officers.

The Officer leads a risky/great group skirmish action to kill or subdue the knight. They succeed in pressing the attack, I tick 3 ticks on the clock and they send the knight out the window and tumbling into the courtyard where they pummel him into the dirt - making a lot of noise in the process.

They realize the jig is about to be up so they quickly push into the next building (which ends up occupied by two more officers, they do another group skirmish action risky/standard to subdue them) while the Scout and trap Rookie push into the final one which serves as Boreyev One-Eye’s quarters.

Boreyev points his cutlass at them. “You’ll never catch me!” he shouts and begins to put his fingers up to his mouth to whistle. “HE’S WHISTLING FOR THE DOG!!” the party shouts. The Scout fires a desperate/standard shot from his bow to keep Boreyev from whistling. The trap Rookie assists by flinging a chamberpot at Boreyev. The Scout gets a 6. He shoots the tips of Boreyev’s fingers off, leaving him sucking on a bloody mess.

The rest of the party charges in and there’s a massive risky/standard group skirmish action (again lead by the Officer) to subdue Boreyev once and for all. Seven dice are rolled! They all fail.

At this point, Eater shows up.

Boreyev ducks out one end of the building and into the courtyard as the trap Rookie ducks out the back to set off the greek fire in the stable. He rolls a controlled rig to see how well it goes off and crits. Turns out, the Knights were using that second floor for storage of gunpowder!! Flames and explosions discharge chaos into the camp.

The Officer really wants a showdown with Eater. She spends both uses of Channel to get some specially blessed black shot. We do a short flashback where Zora ritually imbues three shots with divine potency. The Officer wants to hand these off to someone with any ranks in Shoot. The Scout pipes up “I have ranks in shoot, but I didn’t pack a gun. Could I have taken the blunderbuss off that first knight?” YES that sounds terrific.

But there needs to be covering action as the Officer tosses the shot to the Scout.

The non-trap Rookie skirmishes Boreyev and gets a 6. No harm and enough of a distraction that the Scout can load all three shells of divine black shot into the blunderbuss. The Medic presents his reliquary at Eater as an assist/distraction. The Scout fires at risky/great effect. BOOM! Black shot + divine potency + all three vials at once = 5 harm to Eater.

The hound yowls - and not with the voices of the fallen deal but with a living, ear-splitting squeal.

Boreyev is not looking good but he’s not down yet. The trap Rookie swoops in to skirmish, risky/standard. 6! Boreyev drops to his knees and then, just as the blood begins to pour, Eater leaps forward and sucks the last of his life out of him.

The Medic pulls the Rookie away from the vicinity of Eater, we make a group maneuver action to get out (once again the Officer eats the stress) and the mission is over.

The engagement roll for the secondary mission is a 5. The party decides to have everyone survive and fail the objective rather than taking casualties, so it looks like Sveverena Bear-Tooth is the new leader of this group of Knights of the Black Oak.

GM Analysis
Not sure about the group skirmish actions but overcoming anyone who’s not Boreyev is largely uninteresting so I went soft on that. Which was fine.

The dice were really with them, and then they had a BIG fail and then they eked it out. They enjoyed being in the catbird seat at the top of the mission. I did run more clocks than I laid out here, but skipped over them for brevity(???)

I think I could have asked more “how do you know which tent is his?” or “Boris has a unique fighting style… what is it?” kind of leading questions. And I could set some RP stakes on acquiring assets through flashbacks. “Are you… stealing them?”

Also I need to work on doing some creative harm that is not focused on one person or just a physical injury. Drop a toxic gas cloud on the whole group or give them all the creeping itch or something.

There were some great moments of improv/scene painting in this session which I didn’t really translate here (it’s long enough as it is). Eater will have to make a return for sure.

The final note I will make is that one of the players said “Hmm, this is great but I don’t know how we play this game again once we reach Skydagger Keep.” And I’m like, it’s very much a framework. There are three paths, and three Chosen, and three Broken, and you can do different combinations of those things but on top of that, the whole mission that we played tonight? I rolled on some tables and then made all of that up. “Oh wow, well then we really could play again!”

Always a good thing to hear from your players.