The Call of Darkness: steps 1 and 2

My contribution to #SHOCtober II. See set-up here.

This game is based on Cthulhu Dark by Graham Walmsley and Nine Steps And A Bloody Heart (NSAABH) by Lino Pang aka Riccardo Fregi. I am also using the subset of the Game Master’s Apprentice deck from Alone (Larcenous Designs) for inspiration.

Nine steps and a bloody heart is based on steps, each of which includes one or (if the bloody heart card is drawn) more scenes. During each step, a card is drawn from the investigation deck: Bessie and Carlos find the corresponding element is not part of the cult discovered by Abel.

[Before drawing the first card, I have a question: Do Bessie and Carlos read anything in Abel’s diaries requiring an Insight roll? Oracle:NO]

Scene 1 – Card: 6 of Clubs – A Church

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A few months earlier, a Zoroastrian temple opened in the City. The press wrote extensively about the event. Might Zoroastrianism be the bizarre cult mentioned by Abel? Carlos and Bessie cooperate in the Investigation [each rolling their “human” dice, according to Cthulhu Dark]:

[Carlos:3 Bessie:6 Rolling a 6 means they discover something disturbing enough to require an Insight roll]

When they visit the temple, a funeral rite has just finished, there is a small crowd in front of the building. The deceased was Eruk, a security guard. Bessie manages to enter the conversation of a group of women.

[GMA: Cheater’s game, weighted dice] Farema works as a waiter at a gambling-house. She was friends with Eruk.

[GMA: Pounding, discordant music] Eruk told her that, while working at night in different areas of the City, it happened to him to hear a distant, disturbing music. It was growing louder from night to night, but he was unable to trace its source. He was determined to understand where it came from. Eruk has been found dead in his house: his body was dismembered and his heart appeared to be missing. Eruk’s death was not reported in the press: who cares about the death of an Indian immigrant?

[Insight rolls – Carlos:5, new Insight=2; Bessie:6, new Insight=2]

That evening Carlos and Bessie discuss their findings: the City really is a more frightening place than they previously thought. Likely, Eruk’s death has nothing to do with what Abel discovered, but what if it does?

Scene 2 – Card:4 of Spades – the Owner of the Sun Palace Hotel

[Is the Owner a man or a woman (50/50): Woman]

Gwendolyn Dubonnet, owner and directory of the Sun Palace Hotel, summons Carlos and Bessie to her office. She knows they are the heirs of Abel, who worked for her for more than a decade. She had noticed that Abel looked worried in the last months, but she could not find a way to help him. She says she feels somehow responsible for his death and wishes she can do something to honour his memory. Is she sincere?

[Bessie uses both her “human” intuition and Insight to assess this point – human:6 insight:5. Again, rolling a 6 means the heroes will experience something relevant to their goal but disturbing]

Bessie feels Gwendolyn is sincere and tells her something about the contents of Abel’s diaries and what they found about Eruk’s death. She is upset to hear of the cult and she start crying. She just cries and mumbles incoherently for several minutes. Apparently, she had nightmares about demons killing people and eating their hearts: this must be what is happening. Bessie and Carlos had always seen Gwendolyn as a cool, rational person: their are upset in their turn by her reaction.

[Insight rolls – Carlos:2, unchanged Insight=2; Bessie:3, new Insight=3]

When Gwendolyn recovers, she says that there are habitual guests of the Hotel who could be related with the cult:

Professor Heidelberg [GMA: halt pandemic] a German epidemiologist who is visiting the local University.

Senator Irving [GMA: the aroma of wine] who regularly visits the City, where he enjoys the several revelries he is so fond of.

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The Call of Darkness: 0 set-up

This game is based on Cthulhu Dark by Graham Walmsley and Nine Steps And A Bloody Heart (NSAABH) by Lino Pang aka Riccardo Fregi.

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Initial game set-up is inspired to the opening of the Call of Cthulhu novel by HPL.

A City on the Pacific coast of the US, 1949.
Abel Gammell, head waiter at the Sun Palace Hotel, dies after a short illness. His testament leaves all he had to two of his co-workers at the Sun Palace, the heroes of this story:

Bessie, lead singer of the hotel band (and amateur boxer)
Carlos, accountant (previously student at a seminary)
Both start the game with Insight (aka Insanity) = 1. This is the only stat in Cthulhu Dark.

Among the scarce possessions of Abel, there is a large box full of diaries and notes, going back to when Abel lived in Germany, before the war. Some of the notes are in Hebrew, but most of the diaries are in English. The last pages show that Abel was troubled by the discovery of some kind of secret society, or cult, well rooted in the City. In particular, he suspected this organization to be responsible for the death of one of his few friends, David Bukowski. David disappeared a few months earlier and Abel was sure he was killed.

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As Bessie and Carlos don’t know yet, this cult is at the service of inhuman entities. Following the card-based NSAABH system, the heroes will investigate this mysterious cult trying to discover:

Who is the leader of the cult
SPADES: 1.A Politician; 2.A Clergyman or woman; 3.An Artist; 4.The Owner of the Sun Palace Hotel; 5.A Professor

What is their main meeting place
CLUBS: 1.A Mountain Lake; 2.A Graveyard; 3:A Mansion; 4.A Warehouse; 5.The Sun Palace Hotel; 6.A Church

What is the inhuman horror they serve
DIAMONDS: 1.Cthulhu; 2.Fthaggua; 3.The Deep Ones; 4.The Mi-Go

As can be seen, I slightly modified the number of cards in each group with respect to the 5,5,5 standard. I do not want to have too many options for mythos creatures, so I only use four cards for them, adding a sixth option to the “place” suit. The total still is unchanged: 15 cards; no particular adjustment to NSAABH is required.

Keera the Sunderer 4: battle for the high ground

An Ironsworn solo campaign, with battles fought with the Commands and Colors Ancients and Scenario-X boardgame rules. I have reduced armies to 10 units (instead of the standard 12 in Scenario-X) and set the end of the game to 5 victory points (aka Banners) instead of 6. Hex-Crawling is based on the Macchiato Monsters Map Generator by Eric Nieudan. See campaign set-up here. [This is a gaming campaign: please do not expect historical accuracy]

Previous Events: Keera is the leader of a Gallic clan: the Sunderers. She allies with the Wind-Riders, lead by Mogurix, in order to march South towards the richest lands that once were Gallic and are now controlled by the Romans. But when the two clans are ready to move, they are attacked by a Roman army. They win the battle, but all their war chariots are destroyed. After this victory, the Gauls move South and defeat all the Roman opposition they meet. After a few days, Beltros announces he must leave the clan to follow a mysterious quest: he names the  young Anunna as his replacement.

NPCs:

Mogurix; the leader of the Wind-Riders, a clan allied with Keera’s Sunderers

Lavinia:  Mogurix’ wife. A Healer who was born a Roman but was adopted by the Gauls when a child.

Beltros: a Druid and the oldest member of Keera’s Sunderers. He disapproves the expedition South, believing that the risks of war should be avoided whenever possible.

Anunna: a young and honest priestess who replaces Beltros when he leaves he clan.people2_1200

 


The Gauls proceed in their Southbound journey.
Undertake a Journey: C:3,8 A:2+1=3 MISS

They go through some open plains, interspersed by low hills, but very soon they meet more opposition by the Romans.

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The centre of the battlefield is occupied by some high ground. Keera deploys here light infantry at the centre, with the idea of using ranged attacks in the most effective way. Both her and Mogurix deploy on the right wing. The Roman elite infantry is at the centre, with one of the two leaders; the other leader is deployed on the extreme right.

The Gauls successfully occupy the hills, but a charge of the Roman cavalry lead by the General soon destroys one of the two units [G:0 R:1].

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The next clash happens on the right wing of the Gallic army: both a Roman Light Infantry unit and a Gallic Warrior unit are destroyed [G:1 R:2].

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The Roman Cavalry moves back to face the left wing of the Gauls. They destroy a formation of Gallic Warriors, but their comrades soon avenge them dispersing the Roman Cavalry and forcing the leader to flee [G:2 R:3].
Mogurix charges on the right, and defeats the other Roman Cavalry unit. The Romans insist in their attack towards the hills and finally annihilate the second Gallic Light Infantry unit [G:3 R:4].

The victory seems at hand for the Romans, but Keera, who has remained in reserve until now, leads her Sunderer Warriors forward. Two Medium Infantry Roman units are massacred. [G:5 R:4]

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A Weak Hit for the Gallic army.

Keera’s current situation:

Stats – Edge:1 Heart:2 Iron:2 Shadow:3 Wits:1
Health:5 Spirit:5 Supply:5 Momentum:0
Assets: Loyalist, Sunderer, Shadow-Walker
Vow: find the tomb of Dag in the South (Dangerous) – Progress:0
Background Vow: plunder a major Roman city (Extreme) Progress:0

 

[note: it seems the Gauls are winning all the battles – I will think how to throw more randomness in battle set-up and possibly slightly re-design (one of) the two armies. Also, I intend to reallocate Keera’s stats, in order to make Undertake a Journey more approachable]

Keera the Sunderer 3: the departure of Beltros

An Ironsworn solo campaign, with battles fought with the Commands and Colors Ancients and Scenario-X boardgame rules. I have reduced armies to 10 units (instead of the standard 12 in Scenario-X) and set the end of the game to 5 victory points (aka Banners) instead of 6. Hex-Crawling is based on the Macchiato Monsters Map Generator by Eric Nieudan. See campaign set-up here. [This is a gaming campaign: please do not expect historical accuracy]

Previous Events: Keera is the leader of a Gallic clan: the Sunderers. She allies with the Wind-Riders, lead by Mogurix, in order to march South towards the richest lands that once were Gallic and are now controlled by the Romans. But when the two clans are ready to move, they are attacked by a Roman army. They win the battle, but all their war chariots are destroyed.

NPCs:

Mogurix; the leader of the Wind-Riders, a clan allied with Keera’s Sunderers

Lavinia:  Mogurix’ wife. A Healer who was born a Roman but was adopted by the Gauls when a child.

Beltros: a Druid and the oldest member of Keera’s Sunderers. He disapproves the expedition South, believing that the risks of war should be avoided whenever possible.

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The Sunderers and the Wind-Riders leave their plain they inhabited, moving South. They reach a lightly wooded region.
Undertake a Journey: C:4,8 A:2+1(Wits)=3 MISS

Pay the Price: The scouts report a Roman Legion camped near a farm. The battle appears inevitable and the best course of action seems to attack now, rather then risking being ambushed later.

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Mogurix and the Wind-Riders deploy on the left wing. Keera is at the centre with most of the Gallic warriors. On the right side, the field is hilly: not much action will happen here.

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The Gallic cavalry takes a hard blow and is forced to retreat

The Gallic cavalry is the first to take initiative: they destroy a Roman infantry unit on their first charge [G:1 R:0], but the Roman leader puts one of the attacking units to flight (two flags). Mogurix cavalry, now isolated, is completely destroyed [G:1 R:1].
Mogurix retreats and the damaged Gallic infantry on the left wing will soon be destroyed [G:1 R:2]. Keera and the Sunderers are advancing at the centre.

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Mogurix joins the warriors immediately on the left of Keera and the two leaders clash against the main body of the Roman infantry: they outnumber them, three units to four. This will finally grant four victory points to the Sunderers. In the first clash, a Roman infantry unit is destroyed [G:2 R:2].

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The Romans, however in clear inferiority, attempt a final attack, almost destroying Keera’s warriors. But the Gauls are not completely defeated: they fight back, destroy the two already damaged infantry units [G:4 R:2] and kill the Roman leader [G:5 R:2].

A clear victory for Keera! The Gauls can move on.

The woods are thicker now.
Undertake a Journey: C:5,8 A:3+1(Wits)=4 MISS
Pay the Price: [oracle] you are separated from something or someone

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Beltros leaves the clan. Why? [50/50 choice between A and B]
A: he has a vision where the gods ask him to stay alone in the forest
B: he vaguely hints to a quest he has to follow alone

Does Lavinia take the place of Beltros? [50/50 oracle] NO
Beltros indicates Anunna (a [oracle: young and honest] priestess) to replace him during his absence.

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Keera the Sunderer 2: the Gauls lose their chariots

An Ironsworn solo campaign, with battles fight with the Commands and Colors Ancients boardgame rules. Battles are won by the first side who destroys six enemy units. See campaign set-up here. [This is a gaming campaign: please do not expect historic accuracy]

Previous Events: Keera is the leader of a Gallic clan: the Sunderers. She allies with the Wind-Riders, lead by Mogurix, in order to march South towards the richest lands that once were Gallic and are now controlled by the Romans. But when the two clans are ready to move, they are attacked by a Roman army.

NPCs:

Mogurix; the leader of the Wind-Riders, a clan allied with Keera’s Sunderers

Lavinia:  Mogurix’ wife. A Healer who was born a Roman but was adopted by the Gauls when a child.

Beltros: a Druid and the oldest member of Keera’s Sunderers. He disapproves the expedition South, believing that the risks of war should be avoided whenever possible.

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Keera and Mogurix lead their clans in the battle against a Roman legion. Mogurix leads the chariots and cavalry of the Wind Riders on the left wing; Keera is at the centre of the line, with the main body of the Gallic warriors.

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The two wings are the first to engage combat, while the warriors wait behind. The chariots are destroyed in the first impact [G:0 R:1], but the cavalry opens a gap in the Roman line and rushes through it.

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Yet, the now isolated unit is doomed: the Romans surround it and destroy it [G:0 R:2]. The Gauls also lose a Warrior unit on their right flank [G:0 R:3].

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Mogurix falls back and joins the leftmost group of warriors. The Roman line advances at Double Time and the two main bodies of infantry engage a furious fight.

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The Roman elite soldiers attack the centre of the Gallic line

Keera is initially successful, destroying the two Roman Heavy Infantry units and a Medium Infantry unit [G:3 R:3]; one of the Roman leaders is now alone in the middle of the battlefield. But also Keera’s men are now in bad shape.

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The second Roman leader comes to the aid of his colleague with his cavalry, but this counter-attack is only partly a success, with heavy losses on both sides [G:5 R:5].

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The Roman Cavalry charges Keera

While Keera is forced to retreat, Mogurix drives the final blow by killing the isolated Roman leader. [G:6 R:5]

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This Battle is only a Weak Hit for the Gauls (Pay the Price). They are now able to begin their Southward journey, but all their chariots have been destroyed in the battle and they will fight with only 11 units instead of 12 until they can rebuild them.

 

Keera’s current situation:

Stats – Edge:1 Heart:2 Iron:2 Shadow:3 Wits:1
Health:5 Spirit:5 Supply:5 Momentum:0
Vow: find the tomb of Dag in the South (Dangerous) – Progress:0
Background Vow: plunder a major Roman city (Extreme) Progress:0

Keera the Sunderer 1: Campaign Set-up

For my second Commands and Colors Ancients solo campaign, I will use Ironsworn to drive the story-telling elements.

Keera, the main character, is a Gallic chief fighting the Romans. For the other details, I used the “Semi-Random Campaign Setup” from the Ironsworn book: I started by choosing assets, before deciding how to allocate stats.

2-4) Assets (I randomly selected five assets and discarded two).
Loyalist – Path
Sunderer – Combat Talent
Shadow Walker – Ritual

1) Character Stats: Edge:1 Heart:2 Iron:2 Shadow:3 Wits:1
[I used the assets as a broad description of the character; this suggested me to give Shadow, Iron and Heart the highest values]

5) Background Vow: [Oracle] Enrich Themselves. Keera’s ultimate goal is to plunder a major Roman city and avenge the misery her kin has suffered for generations.

6) Bonds:
6.1 Mogurix: [Oracle] a Generous and Resourceful Warrior. He is the leader of the Wind-Riders, a clan allied with Keera’s Sunderers (the “Loyalist” asset inspired me to defined the Gallic army as the result of an alliance between different clans)
6.2 Lavinia: [Oracle] a Quiet and Powerful Healer. She is Mogurix’ wife. She was born a Roman; she remained an orphan as a child and was adopted by the Wind-Riders.
6.3 Beltros: [Oracle] a Stingy and Hostile Druid. Beltros is the oldest member of the clan. He is well respected as a wise man and depositary of tribal lore. He is a conservator and thinks that the risks of war should be avoided whenever possible.

7) Inciting Incident[Oracle] nature strikes back
The area where the Sunderers and the Wind-Riders live has been flooded again. Keera and Mogurix decide that, next spring, they will lead their clans South, towards the lands where the fathers of their fathers lived, before they were pushed North by the advance of the Romans.

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Keera swears to find the tomb of Dag, her legendary ancestor who ruled in the South and was the last to defeat the Romans.

Swear an Iron Vow: Challenge:7,8 / Action:1+2(Heart)+1(Bond) MISS
-2 Momentum (now 0)
The clans are making ready to move South, when they are attacked by the Romans!


Keera’s current situation:

Stats – Edge:1 Heart:2 Iron:2 Shadow:3 Wits:1
Health:5 Spirit:5 Supply:5 Momentum:0
Vow: find the tomb of Dag in the South (Dangerous) – Progress:0
Background Vow: plunder a major Roman city (Extreme) Progress:0

Pyros Island 4 – Lilith’s triumph

Commands and Colors Ancients solo campaign, with RPG elements based on Biviusand the free subset of the Game Master’s Apprentice (GMA) Deck. The campaign will end one one of two sides wins its third victory. See setup here.

 

Previous events: Neos, the son of the tyrant of Syracuse, has broken his marriage vow with the Carthaginian Bastet. His father exiled him to the island of Pyros (a Syracusan colony) where he became the lover of the ruler Zenon. Bastet and her mother Lilith attack Pyros to force Neos to marry Bastet or take revenge upon him. They occupy the Southern part of the island without encountering opposition, and defeat the Syracusan army in the Sika Valley. As the invaders push West towards the sea-side village of Ormiskos, they are defeated by Zenon, who also captures Bastet. Zenon’s proposals of an agreement are rejected by Lilith. Neos now refuses to fight: Bastet has been captured and he wants the battle against Lilith to be fair. The Carthaginian leader takes advantage of the situation and defeats Zenon at Lofos. She is now ready to attack Zenon’s stronghold at Kastro.


Story-telling prelude: the Carthaginian have put Kastro under siege. Something unexpected happens.

GMA: convince arrogant merchant
[I interpret this as “a convincing and arrogant mercenary”]
Cordolix, a Gallic veteran mercenary, deserts Zenon to join Lilith’s army. He tells her he has fought for the Carthaginian before, in Sicily, and he knows how superior they are to the Greek.

Has Cordolix freed Bastet and carried her with him? NO

How does Cordolix convince Lilith to let him lead her Heavy Infantry? [Two options a-la Bivius]
A. Cordolix seduces Lilith
B. Cordolix swears he will kill Zenon in battle

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Cordolix, Lilith, Bastet, Neos, Zenon

Having found out of Cordolix desertion, Neos decides he will fight again. Each army will have two leaders.

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The Cavarly of Neos and Lilith are soon engaged in a fight. The Syracusan prevails and Lilith is forced to retreat and join a Medium Infantry unit: both her cavalry units are destroyed [C:0 S:2]
Neos charges again, but this time Lilith battles back and forces him to retreat.

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Lilith resists Neos’ charge

At the centre of the battlefield, Cordolix and Zenon also engage in Combat. The first destroyed unit is Carthaginian Auxilia [C:0 S:3] and the Carthaginian infantry must retreat.

But Cordolix seems to want to fulfil his promise: he attacks Zenon and scatters both his Heavy Infantry and the Medium Infantry backup. Zenon is alone, retreating towards the fortifications of Kastro. [C:2 S:3]

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Lilith sees that the time is favourable and launches a Coordinated Attack. On the Carthaginian left flank, a cavalry unit tries to kill the fugitive Zenon, but fails. At the centre, Cordolix charges the Carthagenian infantry that had already been hit in the previous fight: he destroys two units. [C:4 S:3]
Lilith does the same on the right-flank, finishing two badly damaged Syracusan units [C:6 S:3]

Campaign score:
Carthaginian – Victories:3 Banners:21
Syracusan – Victories:1 Banners:14

This is the third victory for the Carthaginian, hence the end of the Campaign. Kastro falls, Lilith conquers the island of Pyros and frees her daughter Bastet.

How does it end for the main characters? [Again, a-la Bivius]

A. Neos marries Bastet, with whom he will rule on the island of Pyros. But he requires that Zenon joins in the government has his private counsellor.
B. Neos manages to escape: he cannot be found anywhere. Lilith sentences Zenon to death. Bastet marries Cordolix and the couple will now rule on the island of Pyros.

Great! Lilith and Neos can meet again in the future for a second campaign!