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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Mists, Madness and Traps - A Monsters & Magic Play Report

Followers of the Cave's gaming related posts will know that we're playing +Sarah Newton's Monsters & Magic at the moment. There's a previous post with the stat blocks in but as a quick recap the party consists of:

  • Patience, Cleric of Ororo the Storm Goddess and likely copyright infringer.
  • Ash, the (formerly) Nameless One, werewolf torching glass ninja magic user.
  • Thiefly Stabbit, unfortunately named, not quite evil but nearly, monomaniacal sociopath.
As an introduction to the system and because I wanted to trial it out before taking the plunge and retooling my massive library of heartbreaker compatible scenarios we're playing through the Silvermoon adventure presented in the core book.

I'll run through the session first and then come to my impressions of how the system works as GM/DM/MM.

In lieu of a strong group hook the adventurers all met on the road to Silvermoon and have slightly different objectives for going there. Patience is there to investigate why the local priest has not sent his tithe back to the mother house for some weeks. Ash is there looking for a magical doodad that is allegedly hidden in the abandoned temple. And we can all guess why Mr. Stabbit is there.

Upon arriving at the bridge into the town the three amigos are met by a lone guardsman, who provides them with some opening banter and a little exposition. He is, however, entirely mad and therefore does so in a roundabout, meandering fashion. Patience is the first to get past the guard, proving that an ounce of politeness is worth a pound of trickery. Ash and Theifly soon realise that there is nothing more directly useful that they can get out of someone who is clearly quite insane and finally manage to negotiate their way into town.

First stop is the blacksmith who takes a stereotypically instant dislike to Patience and her pointy ears. Wisely she goes off to investigate the church while the boys try to get some info out of the smith. 

Finishing their chat with the smith when Thiefly realises that he doesn't have a secret stash of magical weapons he can pilfer they adjourn to the inn where they have a brief conversation with the barkeep. Not liking the look of the other occupants there's a brief discussion before deciding that they would rather doss down in the abandoned church than risk the inn.

Someone, Ash or Thiefly I think then remembers that the guard talked about a witch. There then ensues a brief Blackadder riff before they head off to find the witch's grotto. Finding it is easy enough but the trio systematically fail all their charisma checks and decide to return to the church when the witch fails to put in appearance. Unknown to them, having fluffed it so remarkably big bad then shows up later that same day and recruits the witch to his side (sorry players).

That night the mists roll in over Silvermoon and as the first howls begin our three intrepid adventurers bar the door of the church and head for higher ground. As the door twists and cracks a big hairy arm reaches through and due to a misreading of the rules by me Patience pummels it into a big flat hairy arm in no time with her Spiritual Hammer. Patience and Theifly then decide to retreat to the bell tower. Ostensibly so that the thief can shoot from the tower at the attackers below. However, distance and the thickness of the mist mean that he was as well just throwing a quiver full of arrows over the balcony and hoping for the best.

Meanwhile, Ash is left down stairs to hold the fort. Despite the addition of his 90lb bulk to the benches it's not much of a struggle for the next werewolf to burst through into the nave. Burning Hands appears not to have a damage die so no cap on damage from the Effect Engine so despite being in a blind panic a lucky roll means that his hairy assailant goes up like a roman candle.

Eventually the werewolves beat a retreat, carrying some of the villagers off with them and after a sleepless night the three man posse sets off after them.

After a brief argument about marching order and how Ash wanted to be in the middle and Patience should try to guard the front an back simultaneously they voted by 2 to 1 to send Thiefly on ahead as trap detector in chief. We left the action just as Thiefly flubbed his perception check and skillfully detected a mantrap with his foot. Maybe no one heard his yelp...



So far my GM/DM/MM impressions are overall good, the mix of old school with the EE has worked very well so far. It has certainly made a big difference to the spell casters as we're using the optional spell loss rules. As heartbreakers tend to be mostly combat oriented I think I'd like a few more examples and options presented in the core text to help explain how the EE works for the players. This group is very time constrained so anything that helps speed understanding is good news. I don't think we've really got to grips with MHP but there's time yet. I missed the opportunity to do some MHP damage when the guys fluffed their charisma checks at the witch's grotto but there you go.

Next session will be the big test as the characters breach Silvermoon temple and I lay it on thick with the villains.