The third session of Scenic Dunnsmouth, the first big fight of the game. Pulled out the battle map and cardboard figures.
The killed Magda (infected) last week. Tonight they went down to the basement.
When the adventurers went down to the basement, they saw a tapestry hanging upon a wall. Upon the tapestry was the image above, along with smaller images of insects and images of planets and stars…
The adventurers recognized the ant symbol from the map they had found magical marking the topography of a Bavaria inside the skin of a flayed knight. (It’s a long story… you can read more about it here.) The bug shows the location of Goblin Hill in Better Than Any Man. They group almost journeyed to Karlstadt (and thus Better Than Any Man), but got waylaid in Munich searching for rumors about explorers to other worlds, found their way into the The God That Crawls, and never headed north after all. i simply sits there on my shelf, waiting to be unleashed.
So… the players saw the tapestry and were all like, “BUGS!”
There were also three corpses on the floor. Actually, they weren’t corpses. They were cultists, playing possum after hearing Magda cry out upstairs after being killed by the Magic Missiles. When they heard the adventurers searching upstairs for twenty minutes, they decided to play dead and see if they could ambush anyone who came downstairs.
Three adventurers went down to the basement. They were cautious about the corpses. The cultists revealed themselves, combat ensued.
Meanwhile, upstairs, as the fight broke out downstairs, Uncle Ivanovik showed up, screaming “She was mine to kill!” (He had been tracking them for hours, waiting for the right time to strike.)
After the portion of the party downstairs dispatched the cultists they ran upstairs to help the friends upstairs — only to be attacked in the rear by the Original Spider, who had been hiding in a tapestry behind an alcove. Meanwhile, one party member crashed through a window in an effort to race around the cottage and flank Ivanovik — only to run into Ivanavik’s hunting dogs.
So, they were fighting–for a moment–on all fronts. But Adrian, the Scottish Witch Hunter, got the initiative, fired his pistol into the Original Spider’s head for some solid damage, jumped out of the trap door from the steps, kicking the trap door shut, and flinging himself on it.
Anika, the group’s Magic-User, cast Hold Portal on the door, sealing the Original Spider in the basement for at least 50 minutes–giving the party time to focus on Uncle Ivanovik and his dogs.
In the next round everyone gathered around Ivanovik as best they could, with Anika casting Fairy Fire on him. The +2 bonus from the Fairy Fire was augmented by a bonus I gave each attacker for having multiple attacks on him. Moreover, Werner, a fighter, had gained 10 Blessing points by toasting a glass of whisky with Graupher’s corpse the session before (per the instructions in the Scenic Dunnsmouth rules), and The Doctor (one of the Clerics) cast a Blessing on himself to aid in the attacks as well.
So bonuses were flying left and right. Adrian killed one of the war hounds. The rest of the group reduced Ivanovik to 1/4 his Hit Points, and I decided to make a Morale Check. He failed! I declared he would flee on the next round. (In the game, we all declare actions first, and then roll a single initiative die per side.) He won the initiative! He bolted at 120′ into the mist, vanishing from sight. Or at least he would have, except he still had Fairy Fire glowing on him! Everyone chased him out of the house at one third their combat speed, which allowed them to make attacks with the various ranged weapons they had (two firearms, a crossbow, an arrow). I had everyone roll at once, totaled the damage, and down Uncle Ivanovik went!
They then drilled holes into the basement. Anika had prepared several grenades made of glass spheres filled with gunpowder and rusty nails. They lured the Original Spider towards the holes they had drilled by dropping the heads of Uncle Ivanovik and Magda down into the basement. When the Original Spider approached, they dropped the grenades… and did exactly as much damage as they needed to kill the thing.
Of course, the grenades did a great deal of damage in the basement. I had them roll a d100 and divide it in half. That revealed the reduction in value of the magical library and lab equipment they would later find when they searched the basement.
They did win — but they were all certain they would be dead soon enough!
Having a night to sleep on it and a ponder to think about it, I’m not sure I’ll be bringing the battlemat out again.
In previous sessions, where we played without markers and I made quick sketches for reference, the fights were more fluid and a bit more entertaining. By keeping it in the imagination of the players the combat felt more “alive” even though we used all the rules, positing, and modifiers.
Something I’m going to think more about.