Blogs about Roleplaying Games (RPGs).
A WFRP encounter
Legacy of Praag is a short encounter designed for a holdover game of WFRP that should take a session. It can be run in downtime when PCs may be training or healing up. Although it was set in Weissbruck, it could have easily been set elsewhere in the Warhammer World. If you’re a WFRP GM looking for a quick game that will creep out your players, then this works really well. Read no further if you’re a player!
Ivan Strazny-Ojieck was a wealthy noble in the city of Praag before an Incursion of Chaos. When the warp-storms and hordes of Chaos swept through it he and his pregnant wife, Ilsa, were lucky to escape with their lives. Aside from terrifying dreams, he and Ilse had little problem living off the vast wealth he had brought with him from his estates, and they made a new home in Altdorf. Tragically, Ilse died in childbirth, but bore a healthy son, Piotr. Although Ivan loved his son, he went into a deep state of mourning, and would turn a blind eye initially to what his son was becoming. Subject to strange urges and desires, Piotr became involved with a Slaaneshi Cult as a student – however, even the Cult became concerned as his indiscriminate excesses, appetite, and cruelty began to draw attention to their activities.
Before the Imperial Witch-Hunters could track him down and burn his changing form, Piotr went to his father and pleaded with him to save him. Loving his son as he did, Ivan took the young mutant with him to their town house in Weissbruck, on Leichenhallestrasse. As the family fortune dwindled, Ivan realized that he could no longer hide his own fear at what his son had become – when the disappearances started, Ivan began living in a constant state of fear. Piotr was no longer wholly human and his monstrous aspect could not be disguised any further. He would fly into a rage when he could not get human blood and the rats and small animals had quickly become a foul taste.
The town house had also taken on an unpleasant aspect. The gardens were criss-crossed with the slime of huge slugs, some almost six inches long that seemed to thrive in the decay, and the trees were twisted; weeping a blood-red sap and moving to an unseen breeze. The locals began to shun the house and Ivan was rarely seen. Many of those nearby moved away and the houses became derelict. When a courting couple disappeared, the town watch talked to Ivan, now a frail shadow of his former self. Was he responsible for the disappearance? Where was his son (by now there were rumours, brought by merchants from Altdorf)? Ivan explained that his son was no more and that he was buried in the grounds, showing the Watch a grave. The Watch moved on, searching elsewhere.
Ivan hadn’t lied: Piotr no longer existed as a human being or as his son. Ivan had drugged him and sealed him up within a large well on the grounds, after Piotr had grown hungry and hunted on his own. Ivan had cleaned up the mess and burned the bloodied clothing of the couple. After Piotr had finished there was little of the corpses to dispose of… Although his father made sure that a regular supply of rats and small animals found their way into Piotr’s prison, he couldn’t bring himself to kill the son he loved, a boy he still remembered playing in the gardens of Altdorf.
Unfortunately, Chaos had not finished warping Piotr. The young chaos spawn grew larger, and his father was sure the mutant would die when his food source dried up after Ivan’s death. The warping effect of Chaos had one last cruel trick to play on Ivan. The Spawn gained the ability to split parts of himself into smaller pieces, creating a miniature horde of himself. They could also squeeze through the bars. At last he could escape his prison and feast…
Piotr Strazny-Ojieck, Chaos Spawn
GM Note: when I rolled up the Chaos spawn attributes, one particular image took shape. Yes, that is a Shadow from Babylon 5. It pretty much came about through a number of random rolls though, and works perfectly as the nightmare that is Piotr.
In combat, Piotr is a cunning predator, and prefers to strike from ambush. He will use his evil eye power upon the largest or most dangerous-looking threat. He often uses his multiplication ability to flank potential prey and scout for potential victims, and will retreat if combat goes badly (using the multiplication power to heal himself). He attacks with two bite attacks per round, or an evil eye attack. He cannot use both in the same round.
Physique: Piotr resembles a humanoid with the legs of a spider, and is covered in spiked chitin. His compound eyes glow dimly in his misshapen head, although they flare red when he uses his Evil Eye power.
Psychological Traits: Piotr fears bright light, owing to his long internment underground and prefers to hunt at night. Unlike other Chaos Spawn he is not subject to stupidity.
Special Rules: Piotr causes fear in living creatures under 10′ tall. His chitinous armour gives him 2AP on all locations.
Chaos Attributes: Piotr has the following Chaos attributes (any advances are included in the profile already). Some I’ve modified slightly to fit the abomination
Black Skin: The mutant’s skin becomes completely and unremittingly black, so that even light falling on the mutant vanishes into the depths of its darkened surface. Its eyes, however, turn milk-white and lose their pupils and irises. The mutant’s sight is unaffected by this alarming change. The mutant’s physical make-up is otherwise unchanged; only its colour is altered. Add one to the mutant’s fear points.+20 to hide tests at night or in dark surroundings
Resilient: The mutant is very resilient, capable of shrugging off blows that would fell a lesser being. Increase Toughness by one (T +1). The mutant is particularly resilient to the effects of diseases and gains a bonus + 10 to disease tests.
Evil Eye. The mutant’s gaze can place a curse on any creature which meets it_ Any creature coming within 8 yards of the mutant must make a successful I test or be unable to avoid meeting the mutant’s gaze. Those that fail must make a WP test or fall unconscious for d6 rounds.
Extra Joints – Arms and legs. The mutant develops extra joints in one or more of its limbs. These usually take the form of extra elbows or knees (M+ 1, I +10).
Bestial Face – Goat. The mutant’s face becomes identical to that of some sort of beast. The mutant’s visage alters to that of a goat land it gains a gore attack (A +1).
Multiplication. The mutant may split into two or more separate fragments. Each fragment is smaller than the original whole mutant. S and W are divided equally among the fragments, with a minimum score of one, even if the ‘share’ that each fragment receives should be less than one. For example a mutant with S6 and W1 splits into three fragments, each has S 2 and W 1. The rest of the mutant’s profile remains unchanged for each fragment. The multiplication lasts for D6 turns/rounds. At the end of this time any surviving fragments recombine into a single creature. The mutant can recombine at the location of any one of its fragments. As long as one fragment survives, the mutant will be restored to its original size and health. NOTE: Piotr can do this as will.
Vampire. The mutant’s metabolism changes so that it can no longer survive without a regular intake of warm, fresh blood. The mutant’s appearance gradually becomes pale and cadaverous and its temperature drops to a sepulchral chill, but it gains none of the abilities of a ‘true’ Vampire.
Fangs. The mutant grows a set of huge fangs, gaining a bite attack if it does not already have one (A + 1)
Crossbreed – Spider. The mutant’s entire frame changes, and it becomes a hybrid creature, a mixture of two species.
Bestial Face – Bat. Night Vision gained by mutant (see WFRP p54). For bat-faced mutants this is a bat-like ‘sonar’ ability.
Staging the game
For a short throwaway adventure, the PCs are taking their ease in Weissbruck when they hear of an apparent plague of rats that appears to be attacking people in the town while they sleep, although no one has died. Perceptive PCs may notice that despite this “infestation”, there are very signs of rats or even small animals, and that the wounds aren’t made by rat bites. At this time Piotr is using smaller versions of himself to feed (as homonculi), and they have largely wiped out the local small animal population. The next night, Piotr grows more ambitious and his homunculi feed off a town drunk. Whether or not the PCs pick up on this, Piotr tries for bigger prey the following night, killing a local in their house and draining them of their blood and fluids. Viewing or examining the dessicated corpse requires a Cl test.
In the past Piotr has fed on fresh corpses at the Shrine of Morr (also on Leichenhallestrasse), but craves fresh blood and meat. Piotr has left tracks and they quite clearly point towards the Strazny-Ojieck house on Leichenhallestrasse. As it is close to the shrine of Morr, a local initiate may also request the players aid, and feel free to play on PCs thinking that vampires or ghouls may be responsible for the condition of some of the corpses.
At this point the PCs may get involved, but they may no bother – so next night, Piotr chooses them to feed on one of them. Allow one of the PCs of make a listen test with a -20 penalty. Success means that they hear something scraping as Piotr’s Homunculi creep quietly down the chimney – two S1 versions of Piotr should freak out your players particularly if it is dark as they scuttle about in the dark. They will make for nearest sleeping PC (remember they will count as pr0ne) and combine into Piotr. If he is disturbed or fails to incapacitate a PC in the first round, he will use his evil eye power and try to escape. Either way the PCs should be able to follow him across the rooftops (or on the ground!) and chase him to the house.
The House on Leichenhallestrasse
I had a lot of fun with this. Huge slugs have webbed the garden’s overgrown grass in slime and foulness around the well that Piotr uses to access his lair. The twisted and stunted trees freaked my players out and there was palpable sense of cold and damp around the house. I used the layout of the Haunting Horror adventure for the house and put Piotr hiding in the attic, as the PCs choose to avoid descending into the well – this time (see below!). One of the rooms had a stuffed bear, that the PCs were convinced was going to come alive. When they hacked it apart it was full of writhing pink maggots. Yes, there was a lot if “Urgh” moments. On the ground floor, the PCs found Ivan’s body, seated at the dinner table. Piotr has also fed on him, so a Cl test is required to examine the body to ascertain this.
The fight with Piotr was one of the toughest I’d run in WFRP and proved quite hard for the PCs, who were still on the basic careers. One last thing. If you fancy freaking out your players further, remember that Piotr only dies if ALL of him is destroyed (as in every Humonculi) or he will return. Perhaps during Death on the Reik they come across another town where people are disappearing and there are rumours of a giant spider stalking the night: Legacy of Praag II…
I’ve been gaming in various venues as part of ORC Edinburgh, and what follows maybe something of a rant. It’s basically about the places I’ve gamed and some of my experiences at these places, and what I’d prefer to have in a venue. I’m pretty certain that some folk will empathise with what I’m talking about. If you run a venue and want to get a society or group in, then you might want to think about what I mention here.
Having a gaming group play in a venue makes financial sense, when you consider that you have six or more people clustered around a table. They’re likely to be there for a few hours, often during quiet times if a venue serves food or drink. There’s a better than average chance they’ll buy a lot of food and drink too – playings RPGs (and running them) is hungry and thirsty work! A game in session also gives the place a busier vibe than just a few folk sitting around.
Space to play is essential. It is all very well getting large tables but if theres very little space between each group it can become impossible to hear what folk are saying, and can become a shouting match with the other groups. The seats need to be comfortable, and not hard wooden benches, as they will be used for a long period. Being able to rearrange the funiture shouldn’t be a problem.
If you want folk to feel comfortable in a venue, make sure it is clean. Seriously. At the very least the toilets should be cleaned regularly – at least one Edinburgh venue doesn’t do this, and it is turning into a manky hole. If food is served the place should be spotless. It’d be nice if gamers also made sure they bathed regularly and used deodorant, but there’s often one who doesn’t. At the very least some ventilation is necessary, especially in the summer.
Gamers traditionally don’t eat healthily, but that’s no reason to feed them poor quality food. Yes, they do eat chips and burgers, but if you make them good quality, you’ll sell more – and word gets around. A venue that sells hot food needs to be meticulous about hygiene, and make sure food is heated properly. At least two venues in the past have given folk food poisoning (one of those suffering was myself), possibly because all they did was reheat food in a microwave. Not eating there again, and I make a point of telling folk why.
Customers are customers, and there’s no reason to treat gamers any different. All too often gamers are trested as second-class citizens. We’re paying customers, and should be treated accordingly – we’ve had staff be openly rude to us in one venue, and that was bang out of order, particularly since we had to pay to play. The fact that our groups can get loud and boisterous should be seen as adding character to the place! If gamers have a block booking, honour it and let them get on with it, rather than badgering folk during the time they’ve booked.
Gamers can make for the best customers for smaller venues, and there’s no reason to treat them like crap. I’m tempted to put together a league table and capsule review for some of the venues I mention in Edinburgh Gaming.
The Way of Tree, Shadow & Flame for the Secret Fire RPG has now launched on Kickstarter!
It’s not everyday that I get the chance to self-promote an RPG I’m involved with on my blog (sorry if its a bit self-promoting!). Last year I blogged about writing my first piece of freelance work for George Strayton’s Secret Fire RPG. The first supplement: The Way of Tree, Shadow & Flame has now launched on Kickstarter, together with some rather nice stretch goals. It had a bit of a shaky start though and had to be redone after Amazon screwed things up, but that’s one of those things you can’t plan for with Kickstarter.
Check out the Secret Fire Games Facebook page here. While not all of my material may have made it into The Way of Tree, Shadow & Flame – and there may be a good reason for that (and it’s a good one!) – I’m happy with how it has all worked out. I may have more to say on that at a later date but can’t for now
By the way, a lot of those Lovecraftian descriptions from the spell lists in the original Secret Fire RPG book were created by me. If you’ve ever played in a game I’m running you know what to expect in the Way of Tree, Shadow and Flame!