Tomb Of the Serpent / Double Tap – 5

First sessions of Tomb of the Serpent Chapter 2: Dark Truths. It takes place in a house, with a Serpent Relic hidden in one of five possible places. I used again the free One Page Rules – Double Tap rules.

I had a first go using the Imperial soldiers against the Cultists. The Soldiers won and gained the Hyksos Key: an artifact to be used in Chapter 3.

1

The second go on the same map had Tejua’s Rebels facing four Faceless Cultists (with “Piercing” power shots). Tejua and the Rebels enter from the South.

Rounds 1-3: During the first three Rounds, no shooting was allowed. Both sides fail the Quality Check needed to solve Targets. One of the Cultists (marked MC2) passes his QC, only to find that the Target was a red herring.

3

Round 4: the fight starts. Tejua is attacked in melee and kills the attacker. A cultist shots down Rangol but is killed by Tejua when she activates. The cultists find a second Red Herring.

Round 5: the two rebels Valj and Zogral keep failing their checks on the Target in the South room.

4

Round 6: Valj finally passes his Check and finds the Major Target! Tejua’s tiger kills the last Cultist.

5

This was brilliant victory for the Rebels, who snatch the Ring of the Pharaoh’s from the hands of the Serpent Cultists!

Tomb Of the Serpent / Double Tap – 4

Last scenario of Tomb of the Serpent Chapter 1: The Evil Below. It takes place in a cemetery, with the Serpent Relic in the hands of a magic statue (blue marker) that moves to a new pedestal (yellow markers) at every turn. I used again the One Page Rules – Double Tap rules.

1

It was the last chance for Princess Tejua to gain one of the relics, but she failed again. The Serpent Priest leading the Cultists was quite strong: Q:3+ and a 4 dice spell to be used both in Melee and Ranged combat. But the real problem was that it was difficult to get near the statue to gain control of the relic. Some of the Rebels had a chance, but rolling two success with Q:5+ required a good deal of fortune, which they didn’t have.

Before the end of Turn 6, all the Rebels were down. It was a real massacre! The cultist collect their third relic (the Ankh of Warding). The Imperials soldier have a relic (the Wings of Celerity – conquered in game 2) and the Rebels none. But it seems that the Rebels will have a chance to steal a relic from the cultists in Chapter 2….

5

 

 

Tomb Of the Serpent / Double Tap – 3

Third scenario of my hybrid Pulp Alley Tomb of the Serpent / OPR DoubleTap: The Haunted Hall. Princess Tejua. her pet Tiger and three other rebels enter the house in search of a Relic of the Serpent goad. The five yellow pebbles are the possible locations of the relics. The four purple pebbles are the points from which 2 cultists will enter at the beginning of each round.

1

Round 1: It starts with a powerful Serpent Priest and a Faceless Cultist in the bottom left corner. The rebels spread in different directions.

Rounds 2-3: Zagral kills one of the cultists, but Joo and Valj go down too. Tejua is isolated in the Northern room. The cultists multiply and one of them finds the secret door that gives access to the relic in the North-West room.

2
The Tiger fights fiercely and eliminates an undead Risen Priest, but it is then put down by the Serpent priest. Only Zagral and Tejua are still in play.

Round 4: The forces of the cultists are too overwhelming and the last two Rebels go down. The cultists retrieve the Ring of Pharahos.

3

Tomb Of the Serpent / Double Tap – 2

Second scenario of my hybrid Pulp Alley Tomb of the Serpent / OPR DoubleTap: The Thing in the Well. This time the evil serpent cultists must face the just-as-evil forces of the Colonial Empire.

The Imperial troops are lead by Aurelius (Q3+). The three soldiers are Q4+: Caius and Demetrius are fast.
The four cultists are Q4+ with Piercing Fire.

1

The Plot Point is at the bottom of the well at the central well. To grab the relic, a figure must pass two Quality Tests at -1, taking a hit for a failed test.

The “fast” ability proved vital: after the second round, Caius already was inside the well. Demetrius kills one of the cultists.

2

Round 3: a second cultist is killed by Demetrius. Caius passes the first Quality test.
Round 4: Caius fails both his QT and the save roll to survive the hit: he is out of action! Demetrius and one of the cultists enter the deadly well. Aurelius shots a third cultist: the one inside the well is the only one still active.

Round 5: also the cultist fails his QT and the following save. All the cultists being dead, I declared the scenario an Imperial victory. The relic (the Wings of Celerity) was recovered and given to Aurelius.

Demetrius has scored two kills and survived the scenario.

Aurelius has scored one kill and survived the scenario.

Ennius has survived the scenario.

5

Tomb Of the Serpent / Double Tap – 1

Years ago, I played several games of Pulp Alley. I like the pulp theme and many aspects of the game, but I find the rules too complex for solo play. In particular, they require a good deal of book-keeping.

 

I recently bought Tomb of the Serpent, a Pulp Alley supplement that includes a “Solo Deck”. Of course, I was very curious to see this deck, but it turned out to be something I am not terribly interested in at the moment: basically, random events that affect a skirmish turn.
On the other hand, Tomb of the Serpent includes a pulp campaign consisting of several carefully designed skirmish scenarios. I have only read a couple, just to get a feel of the book. The scenarios are divided into three stages:
1. The Leagues (i.e. the PC teams) fight the Serpent Cultists in order to snatch as many as possible of four powerful relics
2. The Leagues compete to find the location of the Tomb of the serpent god Apophis
3. Final confrontation

I decided to give the campaign a try, using One Page Rules Double Tap, which has some points in common with Pulp Alley (in particular, the reaction system) but is much simpler. I further simplified the rules, dropping the morale rules and making melee basically a do-or-die confrontation (with no “blocks” i.e. save rolls).

This is the first scenario I played: Sideshow of Horrors. The setting is a traveling freak show. Five civilians (marked with the yellow pebbles) represent potential “plot points” (i.e. objective). The team that wins the first plot point is free to promote one of the other four to the status of Major Plot Point – i.e. an Apophis relic.
The Leagues were:

  • the exotic rebels lead by Princess Tejua
  • a bunch of cultists lead by a Serpent Priest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several units of both sides (but not the leaders) have the “fast” special rule, so there was a lot of movement. The Rebels came in touch with one of the civilians in the upper part of the board, but they didn’t manage to “solve” it (a DoubleTap quality test). On the other hand, the cultists managed to convince Mr.D to tell them the location of the relic: it’s with Miss.L, in the tend at the bottom left. Of course, the cultists have chosen a convenient location for the major plot point. I now began random moving Miss.L at every turn start, still the priest reached her and snatched the relic (The Wand of Destiny). In the middle of the board the was a lot of fighting and killing between the lesser characters. At the end, only Joo and Tejua survived, but the Serpent Priest secured the relic.

Joo killed one cultist and survived the scenario.

Tejua survived the scenario.

DoubleTap v1.2 skirmish

I played a game with the last version of OPR Double Tap (v1.2).

I used two simple squads of 40 points each: the Reds are Q:5+, the Blues G:4+.

0

The Blue enter from the terrace at the South. The Reds from the corridor door at the North-East. The three green stones are the objectives.

1

Round 1: The Reds are fast at occupying the largest space, but one of them is readily killed by a Blue SMG-man. The Blue rifle-men move through the East door, to contend the East objective.

2

Round 2: One of the Blue SMG men is killed and the other is attacked in melee: the Red soldier is killed. The Blue rifle-men enter the corridor and one of them is killed.

3

Round 3: With two Blues killed, the Red have an advantage and push forward. But the Red pistol-armed soldier is killed, as well as the Red that tries a melee attack in the East corridor.

4

Round 4: the North objective was never contended and is won by the Reds. The South-West objective is secured by the surviving Blue SMG-soldier. The Red soldier in the corridor manages to survives until the end and secures the third objective and the victory to his side.

Once again, I forgot to use morale, but the rest of the rules seems to run smoothly. I like this kind of skirmish games in closed spaces: a lot of cover and melee. Quite exciting!

an

Doom in Prevelberg 3 – purple final

The finale of my solo To the Temple of Doom!

First session
Second session

 

Room 3:
Secret 1 – What is the source of my power?
My radio-enhanced telepathic link with my siblings on other planets.

The three heroes walk through the secret door. They inspect this huge space that occupies most of the building. Three cylindrical machines seem to be connected to the antennas on the roof. They are also connected to the head of an insect statue whose eyes glow purple in the dark. Near the central cylinder there is console: Isaak tries to switch the power off and fails (Successes:0 Fails: 1) – he rolls a double two, and must resist the voice of Athamion that he now hears speaking in his head. Milena finds an encrypted instruction plate on a side of the console: she tries to decipher it and fails (S:0 F:2). The only way seems to be cutting the tubes that connect the machines and the insect statue. Milena cuts the tube connecting the central cylinder to the one at the West (S:1 F:2). Cora cuts one of those connecting the statue and succeeds as well (S:2 F:2). Isaak fails, and has to take a wound to succeed (S3 F:2): when he cuts the last tube, a purple ray beams from the scorpion tail of the statue and hits him! He is now Critically wounded!

D5
Final

[the heroes must successfully use at least 2 of the three collected secrets in the final confrontation with the Ancient Evil]

Secret 6: the demented cultists. Behind the West cylinder, the heroes find stairs going down. On the stairs they are attacked by two Athamion cultists. Milena shoots them! (S:1 F:0).

Secret 8: bronze can stop the Ancient Evil. When they reach the underground room, the door of a bronze cage is slowly opening and the monstrous winged giant Athamion is moving forward. The monster attacks Isaak, who tries to dodge the attack and fails. He takes his third wound and dies! [Isaak’s death gives Cora and Milena a second chance to use this secret at their advantage]

Secret 1: Athamion’s power depends on the radio station. The radio receiver in the underground room seems to be directly connected to the antennas. Cora frantically tries to put it off and succeeds! (S:2 F:0).

Secret 8 again: Athamion starts to crawl back towards his cage. Milena stabs at him with her bronze sword. Failure: S:2 F:1. Athamion dies, but with a last swing of his claws he rips away Milena’s gas-mask. The body of Athamion disappears in a cloud of purple smoke, but Milena’s brilliant mind is lost forever.

desk1200

Dice, sketches and GameMaster’s Apprentice cards

Doom in Prevelberg – 2: the curse of Athamion

[Second session with To the Temple of Doom! The game mechanics are simple: in order to successfully explore a room, the PCs must collectively score three successes; if they score three failures before finishing the room, the game is lost. It is possible to choose to take a wound to transform a failure into a success. I am using the GameMaster’s Apprentice cards (GMA) as an idea generator.]
Room 1
Secret for Room 1: (6) What is the most terrifying aspect about me?
Those who breath my stench must blindly obey me forever. They are completely demented, with no will of their own.
Cora, Milena and Isaak are in front of the abandoned radio station in Prevelberg. The door of the building is closed. Isaak tries to pick the lock, being a Rulebreaker, this gives him an additional die; yet he fails. S:0 F:1. Milena shoots at the lock and they enter the building.
They are in a large room, some kind of store-room in which there are several very large crates. The air has a purple quality: they are happy to be wearing gas-masks. While they explore the room, one of the crates opens and a frantic man jumps out and attacks Isaak. He tries to dodge the attack, but fails: he takes a wound, managing to put the opposer off-balance (S:1 F:1). Milena shoots the madman and misses: Milena and Isaak fight the attacker hand-to-hand. They finally kill him, but Milena is wounded as well (S:2 F:1).
They examine a large bas-relief representing a skull on the Northern wall. The disturbing sculpture is accompanied by a glagolitic inscription. Milena manages to decipher it, using her Genius trait and her specialization in Secret Symbols (S:3 F:1): it’s an invocation to Athamion, a proto-Slavic deity. It ends with the sentence “Breath my breath and live forever”.

D2
Room 2
[I roll with a 50% chance of using one of the secrets I wrote in the previous section. This time, I have to create a new secret about the Ancient Evil]
(8) What kept me sealed away all these years? [Game Master Apprentice Cards: replace feral temple – the ancient animal cults being replaced by Christianity] With the advent of Christianity, my adepts were persecuted as witches or demoniacs. [GMA: shining chrome – I replace chrome with bronze, which was known in antiquity] A warlock imprisoned me in a bronze cage: I cannot break that metal. I was forgotten for centuries in the dungeon of a ruined castle.
[I also wanted to get an idea of what Athamion looks like. How human is he [1-100]? I rolled 53%. GMA: A familiar face (monkey). – Hunting weapon (falcon): something like a vaguely humanoid giant winged monkey]
The room contains tens of abominable sculptures made of different materials. In the center there are a large statue on a pedestal, a shelf full of ancient books and a couple of desks. Cora insists that she wants to seat and rest a little, reading one of the books: she is being Senile and using her Booksmart skill, yet she cannot understand what she is reading (S:0 F:1). Milena tries with another book and fails as well (S:0 F:2) [double 1 rolled – she resists possession]: something that she only half understands in what she has read seems to stick in her head like the haunting voice of Athamion.

While they are examining the items in the room, an iron statue attacks Cora: it’s an ancient automaton! Cora instinctively hits the automaton with her bronze amulet and the automaton crumbles to pieces (she has used her artifact to turn a rolled 5 into a success – S:1 F:2). She tries to understand what happened, using her special competence in metals: (S:2 F:2). Now something of what she read in the books makes sense: Athamion is somehow vulnerable to bronze. They all take some of the ancient bronze weapons that make part of the collection in the room. Isaak uses his Architecture competence to search a secret door and finds it in the South wall (S:3 F:2).

Situation after the first two rooms:
Cora is unharmed, but she has used her artifact.
Milena is wounded and has resisted possession.
Isaak is wounded.
Next session: third room and final confrontation with the Ancient Evil!

Doom in Prevelberg – 1

Sophia Brandt recently posted a link to a nice, little story-telling game: To the Temple of Doom! The rules are only 2 pages and very inspiring. I decided to give the game a try. This first session was preparation: character creation and a draft of the challenge.

I defined these three settings that seemed interesting to me:
1. Middle-East around 1900
2. Central Europe soon after WW2
3. The Baltic Sea – 2017

I rolled the second one: Central Europe soon after WW2

  • The Ancient Evil

[in the game, one should define in advance a number of tracts of the Ancient Evil. I only defined three, that I will handle as “rumors”. Each of them has a 50% probability of being replaced something different]

What is the most terrifying aspect about me?
Game Master Apprentice cards (GMA): Blind, stinking drunk
Those who breath my stench must blindly obey me forever. They are completely demented, with no will of their own.

What is the source of my power?
GMA: meet impending relative
My telepathic link with my siblings on other planets.

What is my greatest weakness?
GMA: deviate distant parent
My father is now so remote that we need a powerful radio system to keep in contact. If that link should be broken, I would immediately be destroyed.

  • The Archelogists

I rolled these characters, who all work at the Kornatonic University.

cora

Cora, Milena and Isaak

Cora Welanoski
Heroic:2 Booksmart:3 Streetwise:1
Speciality: Gems and Metals
Reputation: Senile
Motivation: Brotherhood
Artifact: a Viking amulet found in a ship burial in the North Sea.
During the war, Cora secretly opposed the pro-nazi collaborationist regime, helping the resistance and spying for the allies. Now she is one of the most respected professor at the Kornatonic.

Milena Ruciz
Heroic:3 Booksmart:1 Streetwise:2
Speciality: Secret Signs / Symbols
Reputation: Genius
Motivation: Fatalism
During the war, Milena fought with the resistance. She helped decipher a complex code of the nazists.

Isaak Kafter
Heroic:1 Booksmart:2 Streetwise:3
Speciality: Architecture
Reputation: Rulebreaker
Motivation: Ideology
During the war, Isaak was in the USA. He was expelled because of his communist sympathies. When he arrived at the Kornatonic, he had a brief affair with Milena.

[I decided to give the character an extra stat point: 6 instead of 5. But only Cora has an artifact ]

  • The location

This building, located near the village of Prevelberg, about ten miles from the Kornatonic.

DOOM

Cora has heard rumors of people disappearing near this building. Someone also speaks of poisonous gases. The building is supposed to have been a military radio-plant. For some reason, it was not destroyed by the massive bombings during the war. It is now abandoned.
Cora asks her younger colleagues to come with her to the building. They will all wear gas-masks, just in case.

Eve of Tschai 10 – Theft in Orugis

Prior Events: [1] The two scouts Eve Reith and Titania Waunder are sent in a small ship to investigate the surface of an unknown planet. Their mother ship is destroyed by a mysterious missile. When the scouts crash-land on the island of Vord, Eve breaks a leg. In the following weeks, she is cured by a Pnumekin (a human servant of the Pnume aliens), R2714, who also teaches her the basics of the language of planet Tschai. The underground Pnume settlement is attacked by the Dirdir, a different alien race. Eve escapes and reaches the surface, but she is wounded. [2-4] She is taken prisoner by a man, Zutiz; they sail Northward on an artificial canal towards the city of Osomena, on the Northern shore of Vord. [5-6] In Osomena, Eve fails a trial at the temple of the pink moon Az and is ordered to leave before the next day. In a tavern, she meets a girl, Caj, who tells her that her scouting starship was embarked on a ship directed to Dima, in Southern Charchan, also stopping in Bamarsa in Eastern Kachan. [7] Caj has her own ship, the Qumberina. She offers to sail with Eve and Zutiz to Bamarsa, in order to collect some Viz, a material that can be sold well in Charchan. From Bamarsa they will sail to Dima. They embark a fourth member of the crew: Kodr. [8] While sailing East, the Qumberina is stopped by an air-raft manned by Wannekmen from the city of Azez. A Wannekman tries to frame them for smuggling Dirdir drugs. Eve talks with a Wannek and convince him of their innocence. [9] After a few days of sailing, they are reached by a swimming Wannek who delivers a message: they must steal the sacred black cup in the ruined city of Orugis. Eve and Caj enter the temple where the cup is, but are stopped by the cultists. 

Q: Do Eve and Caj agree that they should leave Orugis? NO AND they both think they must find a way to steal the black cup.
Eve’s goal: to steal the sacred black cup.

The Qumberina stops in a bay a few miles north of Orugis.

Game Master’s Apprentice cards: “The growing rumble of hooves…” “Military weapons”
At sunset, two barbarians (named Guino and Fenko) on six-legged heap-horses reach the bay and call the crew of the Qumberina. They are sent by “the black ones” (the Wannek) with laser guns for Eve and Caj. They have been informed of a secret passage in the temple of the six-legged lizard, where the cup is kept.

fenko-jpgres

Fenko on his leap-horse

Kodr and Zutiz are again left in guard of the ship, and the four ride into the night towards Osomena.
Q: Can they surprise the lizard cultists? YES: they only meet one and they easily put him out of combat under the threat of their guns.
Q: Can they reach the room where the sacred black cup is kept? YES AND it is unguarded.
Q: Can they steal the cup this time [with advantage, given the two successes in the previous challenges]? YES BUT [GMA: “Quarantined!”] as Caj reaches for the cup, she is stung by a needle springing out of the altar. They reach the Qumberina at dawn. Guino and Fenko bid the crew farewell. The Qumberina immediately leaves. After a few hours, Caj begins to be unwell, with fever and hallucinations.