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The Watch 2018 writeups

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Brief writeups of our sessions in 2018.

Session 1

The first session was just two players (the other two couldn't make it because of car trouble). We did chargen and world burning. Our lands are kind of like Scottish Highlands and our Shadow twists men into organic killing machines.

The opening mission saw Cpl Ruvac (Wolf; Sharn) and her squad (Liassa (Lioness; Thedon), Pera (Taltho), and Payli (Chersa)) trying to get a village evacuated. Layute, the chief, wanted more time to get the unwell sorted. Liassa tried throwing her weight around, intimidating the villagers into moving; that triggered our first roll to Resist the Shadow.

The focal point of resistance revolved around Mousc saying she couldn't move her injured husband (Tordez) until morning. When Ruvac went to investigate, the Shadow-twisted Tordez leapt out of the hut, triggering the first formal Mission (defend a village).

During the fight, Tordez was killed (successful mission objective) as was Mousc (complication). Pera panicked and Payli was seriously injured. Something followed them home.

The PCs also picked up plenty of Experience, Weary, and Jaded, but not enough to trigger and advances.

I'm looking forward to dealing with the fallout in our next session on Tuesday.

Session 2

First, we introduced two new members of the squad (two players couldn't make the first session): Maega (Raven) and Teka (Fox), both of Clan Dotha. We ran through the clan questions and did a whole bunch of Ties that Bind questions.

We opened play proper with the squad arriving at the abandoned farm where the platoon had camped. Maega and Teka took the badly wounded Payli to Reti (the platoon's medic) while Ruvac and Liasa reported to Sgt Lorru, platoon commander, sitting with her squad in the farm kitchen.

Ruvac got about two sentences into her report before Liasa interrupted. Ruvac tried to stare her down, Liasa responded by punching Ruvac, things got worse when Lorru got caught up in the brawl. Liasa ended up being demoted from Warden to Initiate (Ruvac's move consequence).

Overhearing the noise, Maega and Teka looked at each other, rolled their eyes, and sighed.

There was a lot of making up, apologising, and repairing bridges, which culminated in the squad sharing some of Maega's sacred spliffs. Teka rolled the bones for Ruvac and discovered Sgt Lorru was about to break under the strain of command, and Maega discovered that, despite all seeming quiet, the platoon was currently under attack by the Shadow (something followed them home from the last mission, which I decided was a King Rat corrupting all their supplies).

Just as the PCs were deciding what to do, a horde of rats erupted from the farm's cellar: cue "Defend a Fort" mission, which will kick off next session!

A good session! Everyone seemed to enjoy it and I'm looking forward to next week.

Rules notes

As we've only got a few sessions, I decided to tweak (i.e. butcher) the advancement system: all three of Weariness, Experience, and Jaded are now three boxes each.

The brawl between Ruvac and Liasa took some time to adjudicate, as the players took a moment to realise there isn't a combat system, but instead they needed to decide what emotional/relational changes would result from the action.

Session 3

The next thrilling installment in the +MK RPG Watch campaign, and it was a doozy!

(PCs were Lt Cmdr / Cpl Ruvac, Warden / Initiate Liasa, and Initiate Teka; Maega was absent due to the player being ill.)

We opened with a Mission, with the platoon's base under attack by clockwork-enhanced rats controlled by a King Rat. Cpl Reti, the medic watched backs, Teka strategised, Ruvac was on recon, and Liasa was on point. During the attack, Lt Cmdr Eucit (the man, there because of his sorely-needed military experience) shouted to Liasa to forget rescuing the wounded and instead concentrate on sealing the tunnels. Liasa decided to take two objectives: seal the tunnels and rescue the wounded (including her squad-mate Pera).

During the fight, Eucit was lost in the Shadow tunnels, Ruvac was overcome, Liasa panicked in the backblast from throwing flaming oil in the tunnels, and Sgt Lorru was discovered after the action, in her room ripped apart by rats. The fire in the tunnels for some reason took hold and soon the farmhouse was consumed by a huge column of Shadow-influenced green flame.

Cut to the platoon taking stock in the frosty and barren countryside, with almost no equipment, no commander, and the sun just beginning to rise.

Preny (Lorru's second in command) tried to assert her control over the remains of the platoon, but Ruvac stared her down. Miende approached Liasa about deserting and leaving the war behind.

Ruvac led a eulogy for Lorru and started giving orders. Cpl Toha challenged her, Ruvac Unleashed the Wolf and inflicted terrible harm and damn near cut off Toha's leg. In a bad GMing call, I was so shocked I forgot to call for Resisting the Shadow until later!

There was a bit of faffing around, including Teka Letting the Shadow In and getting a vision of Eucit, hands and feet ripped off, screaming as a Shadow-creature came to graft blades on his stumps. Ruvac then ordered a small team to re-enter the Shadow tunnels and rescue Eucit! I was not expecting a second mission in the session, but that seemed the correct way to run the in-fiction events.

Teka was watching backs, her sword humming to warn people of approaching Shadow-twisted creatures. Preny was navigating. Liasa was scouting the tunnels with walls of burnt glass, passing unnoticed when she realised how to imitate the Shadow-twisted (complication of getting an extra Jaded).

In the end, they rescued Eucit and killed the Shadow king rat. In a player-created complication, Eucit was too far gone to be saved, and everyone else took one or two harm due the sharp, burning tunnels.

Back on the surface, a half-hour walk directly away from the farmhouse led them back to it (their Shadow warps reality). Teka Spirit Walked to free the area of the Shadow, also sending Eucit to rest in peace.

The PCs eventually returned to the platoon, only find half of them had deserted.

Next session, we'll cut to Phase 2 of the war.

Session 4

Time for another thrilling installment of the +MK RPG campaign of The Watch! PCs are Commander Ruvac (Wolf), Cpl Liasa (Lioness), Warden Teka (Fox), and Warden Maega (Raven).

I rolled forward time a few weeks, to signal we're now in Phase 2 of the war. Ruvac got her promotion to Commander, but... she's shown great competence and tenacity in achieving objectives, justifying her new rank. On the other hand, she's shown just about no real ability to lead soldiers without maiming them and causing desertions. To square that circle, she's been given command of a half-platoon of "special forces" for unusual missions. To keep things simple, most of the members of Ruvac's squad are members of her previous platoon. Sgt Preny leads one squad, newly-promoted Cpl Liasa leads the other.

We started with a mission to support the retaking of Raish Ruins from the shadow, the homeland of Ruvac's clan. Before that kicked off, Maega asked to share Pera's dream to gain insight into what was to come. Pera offered to share her bed as well. Maega got flustered and blurted out something about virginal priestesses, but still read Pera's dreams and understood the Shadow forces were getting very angry about something. Teka read Ruvac's fortune and discovered that Warden Reidi was modelling her behaviour on Ruvac's.

Then the mission. It was to find an old herbalist's garden, extract some herbs, and dump them into the Shadow's water supply. That would poison the Shadow soldiers enough to slow them down, giving the rest of the Watch a better chance in the fight to come. The mission went off incredibly smoothly, with no additional Complications collected. On the way to the herbalist garden, the PCs noticed more problems with distances and directions being off, but eventually got near. They could oversee the assembled Shadow legions, all in very ordered ranks. In front of each legion was a raised platform, and above the platform were pillars. Women were standing on the pedestals, and Shadow soldiers were duelling on the platforms. (Subtle symbolism there.)

While Liasa was leading the final approach to the garden, she was approached by Otet (her brother-in-law, Maega's cousin) who had been taken and altered by the Shadow. He was injured and wanted help to escape the Shadow. He said he'd been fighting on the platforms and lost, now had to flee for his life. On questioning, he revealed he was fighting for the right to breed with the priestesses on the pedestals.

Ruvac's player quipped "We've got a priestess here," (pointing to Maegra) "you can shag her." Good-natured laughing around the table. I asked, "Is Ruvac really saying that?" After a bit of discussion, we decided that the game would be more interesting if she did, but I called for her to Resist the Shadow. She did, so managed to keep her mouth shut. But when Ruvac's player chose the Complication "You lose control to the Shadow"... it turns out she said it after all.

In the end, they bound Otet and led him back to camp. Meaga asked him to remember his son; Otet lunged at Maega then broke down in tears. Ruvac apologised to Maegra about her comments. Teka praised Liasa's performance, Liasa asked for Teka's help in eliminating Ruvac as her commander.

The squad returning to camp, Ruvac went to the medical tent for treatment (she Took Great Harm on the mission) and asked Liasa to hold her down during the painful stitching-up to come. Ruvac also started confessing that she was feeling overwhemed by the pressure of command. Teka intervened and told Ruvac to "woman up", that her soldiers needed her. Ruvac replied by saying she just wanted to go back to being a squaddie.

After that, Liasa was eating her lunch and Osho threw some flash powder into the fire to scare Liasa. (Liasa panicked while covered in fire in first mission; Osho is clan-sister to Toha, who was cripped by Ruvac last session.) Liasa opened up about how her brother was burnt as a child. Osho was moved and the pair went to bed together.

Ealle and Eive approached Maega, asking her to marry them. Maega agreed, despite it being against standing orders. She said to wait until night, when they could get a witness through dreams. Ealle refused to say why she had a black eye and swollen lip. The three of them asked Teka to read their fortunes; it came out that Reidi (Ealle's sister) had done the beating, they had a history of competition in their family, and Reidi's action was Shadow-influenced.

Meanwhile, Preny asked Ruvac for advice on how to deal with Reidi. Preny isn't good with discipline and appreciated Reidi's support in keeping soldiers in line. But Preny is concerned Reidi's going too far.

We ended the session with everyone descending on Reidi's tent to have a word with her...

Session 5

Another writeup of the +MK RPG short campaign of The Watch. As before, the PCs are Liasa, Maega, Ruvac, and Teka.

A point on logistics. We play 8pm-11pm. We had a small loose end to tie up with Reidi, the Warden who was a bit too enthusiastic when enforcing discipline. I thought we'd get that resolved in about half an hour, then move on to the next mission I had prepared.

We started the mission at 10:45.

What were we doing in the meantime?

We opened where we left off last time, with all the PCs congregating on Reidi's tent. They entered to see Reidi putting on some make-up. There was a bit of confusion, then Ealle got angry and shoved Reidi. Reidi fell over, clutching her face and screaming blue murder after a pause. When she got up, Reidi was bleeding a bit from her mouth.

Liasa stepped forward and used some oration to calm everyone down. It almost worked, but Ealle ended up taking a swing at Ruvac. Reidi drew a dagger and lunged at Ruvac & Ealle. Liasa disarmed Reidi while Teka's Shadow-sensitive sword started humming. Teka, of course, announced Reidi's Shadow-taint to everyone in earshot.

The PCs stepped out of the tent to discuss what to do. Reidi took her chance to sneak out the other end of the tent and into the company Commander's tent, where she was holding the two Shadow prisoners: Otet, captured by the PCs, and a Shadow priestess. By the time the PCs worked out what was happening (the screams from the Commander's tent gave it away a bit), Reidi had killed a couple of guards and was most of the way to freeing the priestess. The PCs tumbled down the slope which had appeared. In the stuggle, Otet managed to free himself only to be subdued by Liasa, Ruvac pinned the priestess's head to the floor with her sword, and Teka subdued Reidi. In the aftermath, Meaga tried to talk Reidi out of her allegiance to the Shadow but to little effect.

Liasa urged Ruvac to execute Reidi (successful Provoke). Ruvac refused, saying she'd turned over a new leaf and wasn't going to be that vicious any more. Liasa part-resisted the Shadow but insulted Ruvac anyway; Ruvac wholly resisted the Shadow but acted on the impulses anyway and did Terrible Harm to Liasa's arm, moving her to Critical.

Teka had a rant at everyone, Maega calmed her down, then Maega patched up Liasa's wounds (Maega had picked up the Spider's Mender move).

Ruvac then asked Maega for some of her religious herbs as she wanted to be put in a trance to keep herself out of trouble.

A bit later, Ruvac visited Liasa in the infirmary, apologised, and was completely rebuffed.

(At some point in the process, Maega's player handed me the note "GM takes 3 Weary from the players". How apt!)

Ruvac asked Teka and Maega for advice on what to do with Reidi. Maega suggested assigning Reidi to menial tasks, such a spud-bashing and latrine maintenance, in the hope Reidi saw the error of her ways.

Eventually we moved on to the mission!

The Watch was planning an assault on the Shadow town around the Dothas clan stronghold (the tower near the top of the map). The PCs were charged to enter the town, make contact with the resistance there, co-ordinate a civilian uprising with the Watch's main attack, and get out with the details. I thought that would be two Missions: one to get in, one to get out, with some interaction with the resistance in between.

The PCs thought about using the Dothas clan's secret routes, but decided they were probably known to the Shadow via Dothas converts or collaborators.

During the infiltration, Maega suffered a deeply personal loss and Ruvac became separated from the others and appears lost (Ruvac's player chose this himself).

What this means for the mission and the contact with the resistance, we'll find out next week!

Session 6

Now I've got a few minutes to rub together, here's the summary of Tuesday's session of The Watch. It seemed to be a GMing-heavy session, so my notes are sketchier than normal. Other players, please chime in with all the bits I've forgotten and got wrong!

PCs are Ruvac, Liasa, Teka, and Meaga.

We opened with the aftermath of the mission to infiltrate the Shadow-controlled town around Dothas Spire (the tower near the middle of the map, near the original front line). Recall that most of the Dothas clan died in the early stages of the war holding back the Shadow (clan questions). During the mission, Ruvac became separated and presumed lost, and Meaga had a deeply personal loss. We decided that loss was Parda, Meaga's aunt and Otet's mother (Otet was the make Shadow deserter from earlier). We decided that just about at the end of the mission, Ruvac and Parda were captured while protecting the rest of the group.

The mission personal scenes were: Ruvac getting a premonition of her loss and asking Meaga to take command, but Maega pointing out that Liasa outranked her; Ruvac pushing Teka into hiding when the Shadow attacked, and Teka feeling guilty because she didn't Watch Their Backs sufficiently; Meaga opening up to Teka briefly about her grief of losing Parda; and Liasa and Teka working together to make a ghillie suit for the mission.

After the mission, Meaga succumbed to weariness by berating Liasa to immediately set out to rescue Ruvac. Liasa stalled while she said she wanted to make a plan. The PCs met Mossuc (Sharn clan), their contact with the Resistance; Mossuc gave the PCs clothes, complete with prominent clan symbols with the explanation that everyone needed to wear them in the town. Dothas were the high-ranking clan, then Thedon, with Sharn at the bottom of the heap. The PCs were taken to a Resistance safe house and met Teaso the Thedon-clan resistance leader. Liasa ordered Teaso to follow Liasa's military orders and go to rescue Ruvac. Teaso immediately became very angry, told Liasa she had no authority over the Resistance, and asserted that Ruvac was dead (or effectivley so). This confrontation happened in a bedroom in the safe house; Pitte, a resistance enforcer, used her unsheathed sword to emphasise that the PCs should stay there.

Meanwhile, Ruvac woke up naked in a comfortable bed. She put on some provided clothes, looked out of the window of her cell, figured she was in Dothas Spire, and the perspective out of the window was all wrong. Ruvac had almost smashed down the door with her bare hands when Reme, an impossibly-beautiful Shadow sorceress, arrived and gently interviewed Ruvac. Ruvac revealed a lot more than she wanted (for the UK crowd, it was a real "Don't tell him, Pike!" moment). Ruvac was then left to wander the gardens in the company of a familiar-looking servant with a baby. When the baby was revealed to have blades for hands, Ruvac realised that the servant is a young version of Parda and the child is Otet. Ruvac mused that the view was pretty but she's prefer to see a sunset. Parda just asked why Ruvac didn't make it happen. Ruvac ducked into an outbuilding but stepped back into her cell.

(At this point, Ruvac was one Jaded box away from taking the final Jaded move and being written out!)

Back in the safe house, the PCs had an argument amongst themselves over what to do. In the end, Liasa cried out that Thedon are the strongest clan and should therefore take control. This pissed off Maegaa and Teka. Teka read Meaga's bones, realised that Teano was very twtichy over her status in the Resistance cell. Someone (Maega?) also realised that there was Shadow influence in the Resistance cell, caused by an infiltrator.

(It's around here that my notes ran out...)

After some to-ing and fro-ing, the PCs and the Resistance agreed to do a compromise. They'd scout out the Dothas Spire but not enter it until the main Watch attack, when the PCs would attempt to find and rescue Ruvac. During the negotiations, Teaso argued that she'd lost enough of her cell to want to risk any more; Maega turned on her saying that just about all of Clan Dothas had been wiped out in the invasion.

Over to Ruvac. She tried to bluff Reme the sorceress that Ruvac had embraced the Shadow. Reme was having none of it, and challenged Ruvac to actually change the time to sunset. Ruvac managed to resist the Shadow so didn't turn when she actually cast the sorcery. (In the process, Ruvac got enough Experience to take the "remove a Jaded move" advance and get some more breathing room.)

We then cut to the next day. Liasa and co were heading towards Dothas Spire, taking advantage of cover of crowds gathered for the 30 Minutes Hate, where a traitor to the Shadow was condemned and lynched by the crowd. In this case, the victim was Parda and the crowd was being whipped up by Ruvac. The PCs used hand signals to communicate with Ruvac. When Parda was thrown off the platform, Liasa caught her and rushed off. Ruvac then dove into the crowd and was whisked away by the rest of the PCs.

And that's where we left it! Final session next week.

Session 7

It was the final session of The Watch at +MK RPG last night. Here's what happened in our thrilling finale!

PCs were, as always, Lt Cmdr Liasa, Sgt Maega, Cmdr Ruvac, and Wdn Teka

We opened with the PCs lurking in an alley in Dothas Town, having rescued Ruvac and Parda from the lynch mob that Ruvac was whipping up. When asked why she was leading the mob, Ruvac said, "If I'd stayed in the Spire any longer, I'd have given away even more vital information!" In a moment of character growth, Ruvac confessed to Liasa everything that happened in the Spire, including Ruvac's mistakes. Liasa saw some Shadow power remaining in Ruvac.

When Maega talked to Parda (Maega's aged aunt, but now in her early 20s), Parda said that the Shadow had been in control for the past 12 years and she was very concerned about her baby son Otet who was still in Dothas Spire (the same Otet who is in his mid-20s, held by the Watch after deserting the Shadow a couple of sessions ago).

Liasa and Maega returned to Teaso's resistance safe house to inform them that they'd rescued Ruvac. Liasa took the opportunity to belittle Teaso in front of her resistance cell (Liasa resisted the Shadow to realise that this point-scoring was what the Shadow wanted, but did it anyway). At this point, Shadow soldiers burst through the safe house's front door and started killing members of the cell, and the PCs realised they'd been followed to the house. Maega and Liasa escaped, dragging Daruc (Meaga's clan-sister) with them.

Meanwhile, the other squad members hid in Dothas Town, but at one point Pera sacrificed herself to distract a Shadow patrol away from the rest of the squad.

Eventually, the squad all met up.

Liasa hit her Tipping Point, ripped off her Lt Cmdr insignia and thrust it at Ruvac. Liasa announced she'd had enough of this shit and was going off to find out what was on the other side of the mountains. Liasa threw away Meaga's offered holy spliff, then got knocked unconscious by Ruvac.

Teka and Maega Spirit Walked everyone back to the Watch headquarters. Liasa recovered and left.

We then Changed the World.

  • From Liasa's player: Thedon clan opened up its trade and set up a commonwealth, led by a council of one person from each clan.
  • From Teka's player: after the Shadow, the clans reasserted themselves, but stronger in their individual identities.
  • From Ruvac's player: Sharn clan make better use of their lands around Raish Ruins and become healthier and stronger.
  • From Meada's player: the secret Dothas base is kept secret and reinforced for the battle to come after the Shadow is defeated.

We then had eulogies for Liasa and Pera. The best line was for Liasa, when Teka said, "Liasa punched Ruvac with love." The rest of that eulogy was similarly tongue-in-cheek. Meaga's eulogy for Pera was earnest.

Meaga was promoted to Lt Cmdr and wore Liasa's rank insignia.

We then did a Final Battle as the Watch attacked Dothas Spire. Ruvac's squad was given the mission of assassinating Reme, the Shadow's kingpin sorceress. None of the PCs batted an eyelid at these orders.

Ruvac led a charge through Dothas Town, defeating some Shadow legionaries as they went.

Teka skirmised away to draw some of the heat from the main squad but got cut off.

The squad entered Dothas Spire, which looked something like Escher's Relativity. Meaga used her dream magic to lead the squad through the maze and cornered the sorceress who was manipulating the terrain.

Ruvac followed through and killed the sorceress.

Meanwhile, Teka followed a different group of Watch soldiers into the tower, only to realise they included Mealde and Miende who deserted Ruvac just after the rescue of Ucit. Teka shouted a warning as they attacked rest of Ruvac's squad.

Maega tried to talk the deserters into surrender but didn't get very far. Maega and Ruvac the slaughtered them all.

The way was clear to Reme's throne room. Teka did her spirit dance to suppress the Shadow, Meaga chanted, and Ruvac lept at Reme with Maega's murder knife. Ruvac used her Shadow magic to turn Reme into an impossibly beautiful and ordered crystalline form; Ruvac shattered it with the murder knife.

The Shadow was defeated.

We changed the world again.

  • Ruvac led cleansing rampages against Shadow holdouts in the clan lands.
  • Teka said how the corruption was removed and all the clans were working together.
  • Meaga took away shards of Reme's body and used them to make a warning system in case the Shadow re-entered Dothas lands.

And close...