The Glittering Trumpet of Kutaraja session 4

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Pre-session prep

We glossed over the transitions from last week's climax in Kutaraja and the picaros' arrival at Angkor Wat. The Sultan of Aceh and the vizir al Zahn were dropped of somewhere in Siam.

Seeds

I also missed the part where the players should suggest the seeds for the next Port of Call. That meant I had to invent seeds for them. The seeds I chose were:

  • Mohit: Spiritualist, Visions. Beast, Crush, Freedom
  • Charlie: Midnighter, Heist. Delaporte's Atlantean amber sprayer; get him alone, find an escape route.
  • Loki: Duelist. Best a stegosaurus!
  • Lady T: Duelist. Best Leonowens.

Session events

When the picaros approached Angkor Wat, still mostly buried in jungle, they spotted a non-military airship moored near a small camp. The clearing around that was about the only place to park an airship, so that's where the picaros landed. The camp was deserted. Just as the picaros disembarked, they heard the crash of collapsing masonry closely followed by screams and shouts.

Loki invoked her magic to fly through the unyielding jungle and arrive on the scene quickly. She saw a group of Europeans frantically digging out a fresh pile of rubble, shouting about people trapped under it. Obviously, part of the temple wall had collapsed. Loki used her magic again to shift some of the rubble and pulled out Louis Delaporte.

Mohit and Charlie arrived soon after. Mohit and Bandamasa stabilised the wall, preventing further collapse. Loki tended a Frenchman's broken arm, using her phoenix powers to burn away any hideous tropical infection. Meanwhile Charlie, being Charlie, picked the pockets of some of the French antiquarians. She got a bunch of strongbox keys but was spotted. She was chased into the jungle but her pursuer was soon felled by a vicious blow from Sok Sothoy's kachom. Sok expressed her resentment of all Europeans and asked Charlie to bring Mohit to see her.

Loki and Mohit asked Delaporte about what he was doing there. They didn't much like his answer that the French were antiquarians just trying to preserve the treasures of Angkor Wat by taking them to the Louvre. Mohit and Loki decided that they'd show him the error of his ways by opening his mind to the spirits of the Wat, which rather overloaded poor Delaporte's mind. He howled, screamed, then dropped to the floor on all fours. He took a few stomping steps before collapsing.

Charlie intercepted Mohit and Loki as they left the French camp and the three of them went to Sok. Sok objected strongly to the presence of the porcelain-skinned Loki and blasted her with a stegosaurus spirit. Loki drew on her inner strength, looking more like Morrigan in the process, and resisted Sok's attack. Sok grudgingly agreed to let Loki stay.

The picaros discussed how to drive the French from Angkor Wat. They agreed that sabotaging their equipment would be a good idea, as well as kidnapping Delaporte. While they were discussing their plans, Louis Leonowens and his group of Thai cavalry appeared and made camp next to the French. Thinking that Leonowens might be the mysterious Dutch man who was corresponding with Phisut, they changed plan slightly to use the chaos of attacking the camps as a cover to ambush Leonowens.

Loki enchanted a pocket watch for Charlie to help her move unseen. Mohit and Sok summoned some spirits of the jungle to rush through the French camp, destroying what they could. All manner of spirits and creatures streamed from the jungle, including a small herd of stegosauruses. Loki used her Weapon Master trick (!) to hang onto the lead one, brandishing her sword, and guide them to scatter the Thai cavalry.

Charlie sneaked into the camp and, being Charlie, decided to kidnap the other Louis. She grabbed him from behind and dragged him into the jungle. She wasn't able to take his Atlantean amber sprayer off him gently, so ended up beating him near to death with a small crowbar.

While we were almost at the end of the port of call, we were out of time so had finish there. We'll wrap up next week, then move to Nan Madol.

Outstanding threads

  • Mohit: he will never love another after is previous lover died, stabbed through the heart by a sikh while Bandamasa was held captive.
  • Loki: she must rest after magic, a lesson she learnt at school by causing an explosion while tired.

Playtest notes

  • With answers from Josh, the game's designer, though paraphrased by Neil Smith.

Scenario design

Suggestion: A minor tweak to the Adventure sheet would be useful. In the "Key GMCs appear and interact" section of the Act Two column, also ensure that the GMCs' Wants are revealed to the players. It's both a way to keep the pace up in play, and it places the important GMC wants right in front of the GM for easy reference. The GMC wants and relationships are the main source of Bangs should I need to create one on the fly: having them together in one place makes that easier.

  • Accepted for consideration.

Magic

I remembered to use the "cost of magic" rules this time! Mohit took quite a few hits from his magic use, and Loki had built up the Sorcerous Backlash pool to 9d10(!) by the end of the session. That was including the use of her Arcanovore Trick to absorb some of the backlash into burning up tarot cards.

Dev and Badassium

The Dev and Bx economies were working much better this session. This was partly after a reminder to the players to use them, and partly that they felt more free to be flamboyant in this situation. Maz still thinks it unusual that she should want her character to fail, in order to become stronger with more Dev later.

People were sometimes limited in building dice pools by the number of items on the right side of their character sheet. I pointed out that they could buy additional classes with their new Dev.

Question: When does the "Improvise" pseudo-class earn Dev? The rules imply it's whenever it's used; the character sheet says it's when it's the only class being used.

  • Improvise only earns Dev when it's the only Class used.

Question: (follow up) how many classes should be rolled into a single pool? We've been allowing people to use both classes if they can narrate it as being meaningful in the fiction.

  • No limits, but they must all make sense in the fiction.

Simple contests

I'm still struggling with the subtleties of simple, oppositional contests. These are for cases where we want to go to the dice to learn about degree of success (or failure), and cost, but don't want to spend a lot of time on detail of the conflict.

Question: should the GM be rolling for opposition where the "opponent" has no particular desired outcome? For instance, Loki wanted to use her magic to fly through the thick jungle. Should I have invented an "Unyielding jungle" trouble pool and rolled it against Loki's magic-using pool? Or, should I not roll at all, but automatically be able to exploit all of Loki's exposed failures (as per the example of asking True Questions)?

Question: how can picaros inflict hits on an opponent that's just resisting? For instance, say Loki's flight is opposed by the Unyielding Jungle pool. The Jungle can use some of it's successes to Deny Loki's flight, and some to Exploit her failures. But in the case, the jungle doesn't have an objective of its own, so will never initiate a roll. In this case, the picaros will never get a chance to reduce the magnitude of the Trouble Pool.

  • All rolls are part of an action sequence, though that sequence may stop at any time, including if the opponent doesn't want to roll dice and instead allows the Attempt to succeed. You can't Exploit failures unless you're rolling in response to a previous beat. If picaros are acting, with a Threat Pool responding, the picaros will have to roll a second time to Exploit any failures generated by the Threat Pool.

I have a feeling we're missing something about how this mechanic is supposed to be used.

On a happier note, now that people are happier with how all the mechanical parts of the system fit together, I'm planning on having the large showdown of the port of call being one large, multi-sided extended style action sequence with multiple standing attempts all over the place.