On 16 January, we played the fourth session on the Stage in the setting of Verden. This was the second day in our top-secret mountain refuge. We used it to further explore the new Defense skill rules, the new Encumbrance rules, the new stacking Bonuses rules, the new parrying rules, and the new non-lethal damage rules...
We ended the previous session with the Holmgang duel between Anton and Elma. Anton did well and managed to defeat the Sorfolk warrior Elma, but the inhabitants of the village of Glemkant turned against him, Swenne, Ossiaan, and Flann in the process, due to his employing magic during the duel, which is not done in Sorfolk culture. (To be fair, no one informed him of this.)
Anton, Swenne, Ossiaan, and Flann leave Glemkant before things turn sour and agree to meet up with Berend at the first watchtower on the Blomroad the next morning. When the players arrive at the watchtower, Anton performs surgery on Ossiaan to restore the Vitality points he had lost during the battle with the undead in Glemkant.
The other players regroup with Berend at the watchtower. Berend has brought some supplies from Glemkant, which he redistributes among the rest.
At the watchtower, Ossiaan experiments with summoning a creature and then feeding on that summoned creature’s soul to enhance his spells (see Supernatural Rulebook, pages 20 and 55). Once he is satisfied with the results, he has his one summoned creature murder the other, without allowing the latter to defend himself.
Spirits in Verden
Spirits in the world of Verden are the denizens of a parallel world called the Spirit Realm. They are sentient, dislike being used or summoned, and resent slavery as much as every creature that would prefer to be free. This adds a nice dimension of morality to summoning creatures and employing spirits in Verden, making players have to consider how their characters feel about the spirits.
Needless to say, Ossiaan's treatment of them was appalling (although very in-character). He did it in front of everyone, too, and I was surprised there wasn't much of an outrage. Verden is a cruel place that makes people uncaring, it seems...
After this intermission, the party proceeds towards Kongshode. Berend uses his knowledge of the local area to guide them. However, unbeknownst to him and the other players, his Skill check result is a little too low and he leads them slightly off-track. At night, they camp out in the wild hills.
The players travel during the day. At night, during Anton’s watch, they are set upon by a Buggane and four Trow. Anton doesn’t see them until they are very close, and the rest of the players take a while to get ready for battle. The battle goes wrong from its very beginning: Anton is wounded early on and the other players cannot field the required firepower to deal with the Buggane. The Buggane kills Swenne, Ossiaan, and Anton, while Berend and Flann are routed (see Battle details below).
Bugganes are mighty foes. They have 114 Character points and several combat Skills at Skill level 3. They regenerate 2 Stamina points per Round passively or 6 if they spend 3 AP regenerating. In addition, they have 1 Resistance, 3 maximum Defense points, and a staggering 26 Stamina points. Trow of the Villmark are less impressive: they have 30 Character points each, no combat Skills above Skill level 1 (except the Agility skill), and are basically AP and Stamina point soakers or nuisances. In total, this encounter was worth 234 Character points, less than the encounters with the undead in the previous session, but almost half of the Character points were concentrated in one foe.
The encounter started with the players incurring a massive disadvantage: the Buggane hurled a bolder at Anton which wiped clean his Stamina points and dealt some damage to his Vitality points as well. As he is the only character with Skill levels in the Medicine skill, and a character can’t perform Medicine (first aid) on himself, the players were immediately one man down. This did, of course, raise the issue of whether or not a character should be allowed to perform first aid on himself. I have thought about this for a while and may change this in the future, especially since I’m considering introducing a cost in Intellect points for the use of the Medicine skill.
Either way, the key to defeating a creature that regenerates Stamina points as quickly as the Buggane does is to lay a massive amount of damage on it in one or two Rounds. Another option would be to ‘hit it where it hurts’: the Buggane is very vulnerable to Mind and Soul damage. Ossiaan attempted to deal Soul damage to it with a touch spell (and I'm sure Anton would have tried it, too, if he hadn't been lying in a corner realigning his bones), but the Buggane used the new parry rules to its advantage and kept Ossiaan at bay.
Anton's player also rightfully remarked that the Buggane was made all the more powerful due to the new parry rules. As the party was melee focused and lacked ranged capability, the Buggane could parry every attack and did not have to spend AP on the Agility (dodge) skill (which is still the best way for a lightly armored creature such as the Buggane to stay away from damage from ranged attacks). Had the party had a good archer, perhaps with the Crippling shot power, they could have felled it early on.
The players’ strategy was to eliminate the Trow first and then focus on the Buggane. Unfortunately, this proved difficult. When Swenne was wounded, the players decided they had lost the battle and attempted to parlay with the beast. The Buggane told them that if they would just go away and leave everything (including the horses) to him, it would let them live.
The players were in dire straits and accepted the offer. However, when Swenne decided to take his mail byrnie with him and was spotted by the Buggane, the beast considered the treaty null and resumed its attacks, killing Ossiaan (who had done the negotiations), and then Anton and Swenne. They all fought bravely to the end. Flann used his inspiring powers to the point where he started paying in Spirit points (and thus incurring Disability counters), but it was all in vain. The retreat was called and Berend (on a mortally wounded horse) and Flann fled into the night, leaving the corpses of the others and their possessions to the Buggane.
After the devastating battle with the Buggane, Flann and Berend decided to get far away from the Buggane and find a place where they could rest. Needless to say, some time for contemplation was needed, people needed to roll new characters, and plans would need to be forged, so we ended the session there.
It was a shame to say goodbye to Ossiaan, the insane, skull-munching Ettergette; Anton, the self-made Oestefolk priest; and Swenne, the meanest Krigsgette to ever wield a Suurvasar.
- Consider allowing characters to use the Medicine skill on themselves. This is especially acceptable if there is a cost for doing so in Intellect points.
- (For the adventure module) The Buggane may need some tweaking. The players were originally supposed to battle a similar one and its two wolf pets during the second session. They didn't defeat it now, and chances are they would have been unable to defeat it back then as well.
Read about session 5 here!