Monday, March 19, 2018

Cold Wars 2018 AAR - Just a Usual Night in Elizabethan London

As mentioned in my previous post, my son and I ran a Frostgrave/Ghost Archipelago game at Cold Wars.  I changed the setting to an Elizabethan England in which magic is real. 

The scenario was this: Playwright, spy and occultist, Christophery Marlowe has been murdered by agents of some of the great courtiers who were seeking to get his manuscript to Dr. Faustus, the performance of which may actually open a door to Hell. Various groups were searching his old stomping grounds for the manuscript and the grimoire that taught him how to draft magical scripts, the Dramaturginomicon.

We had 11 players, each with their own agenda so I modified the turn sequence and used an initiative roll mechanism for activation. Movement was increased to 12 inches given the size of the table. The warbands were smaller, containing one hero, having Heritor abilities, one magic user and only four henchmen. Each hero had only 3 abilities and each magic user only 3 spells. I tried to match the spells to setting - thus one faction, the Lord Admiral's Men who were actors had a Sigilist, William Shakespeare while a band of Irish pirates under Grace O'Malley had a Strom Warden. We got to a satisfactory conclusion of the game in about 3 hours.

Most of the action occurred in the Rose Theatre and Marlowe's former residence, the Garter Tavern. 

The players split their attentions about evenly between the two buildings. They soon discovered that both occult works had already created "leaks" to another dimension, releasing demons who had a distressing tendency to increase in size as time went on.

The players were surprisingly non-belligerent to one another, relying on negotiations with only the occasional outburst of violence. They faced far more danger from the staff and patrons of the Garter who proved it was the toughest tavern in London. The final result was that Solomon Kane managed to destroy the Dramaturginomicon using candles from a nearby church, a Spanish Jesuit managed to banish the very large demon that had appeared, and William Shakespeare ended up in possession of the manuscript, after he cast an explosive rune spell on the only exit from theatre's basement. This resulted in the destruction of the better part of two other warbands who had subsequently tried to leave to escape an ever-growing demon. The Rose thus blew up and burned down, while the Garter had been previously set alight as well. Shakespeare put his name on the manuscript, and added several editorial "improvements" resulting in it losing it's magical capabilities.

 I'll be running this again at Historicon. I also have an idea for a couple of sequels - next up will be "The Mirrors of Mortlake" about a raid on the house of Dr. John Dee, Queen Elizabeth's chief astrologer and alchemist.

Here's some additional games that caught my eye:

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Cold Wars 2018 game - A Dead Man in Deptford

I am going to be running a game at the Cold Wars convention in a couple of weeks.  Here's the description:

An arcane civil war is being waged in Elizabethan England. Playwright/spy/magician Kit Marlowe has just been killed, ostensibly in argument over a tavern bill.  But he really died for writing a work of magical dramaturgy that would open the door to another dimension.  Various court factions are now racing through the dark streets of London’s notorious theatre district to find the manuscript.  Who will find it first?

The game is set in the Soutwark region across the Thames from London:

This will use a modified version of the Frostgrave/Ghost Archipelago rules. Since this is a multi-player game, the activation methods will be simplified and the warbands will be smaller with the main characters having fewer spells/abilities than in regular FG/GA.  Each party will be composed of one "hero" - having 3-4 heritor abilities from GA, one magic user - having 3-4 spells from FG or GA, and four minions.  There will only be 2 treasures, a manuscript of Doctor Faustus that allows a portal to Hell to be opened and an ancient tome that teaches one how to create such dramaturgical manuscripts.  The treasures will be hidden in the Rose Theatre or the Garter Inn.

I have the game listed for eight players but could accommodate up to 15. Here's just a few of them
The Lord Chamberlain's Men, led by Thomas Kent (actually Viola De Lessups in male disguise) and the sigilist Will Shakespeare

 The School of Night, minions of Sir Walter Raleigh, led by Captain Lawyrence Kemys and necromancer Edward Kelley
The Lord Admiral's men, under the direction of the famed actor Ned Alleyn and theatre owner/illusionist Philip Henslowe

 The representatives of Her Majesty, swashbuckling Sir Geoffrey Thorpe and Vine Warden Lady Blandistock (after all, the Queen does love her garden.)
The Puritans, led by Solomon Kane and the Reverend Fear-the-Lord Greenwood.

I did a play test with my regular group that turned out quite well, lots of havoc and back-stabbing coupled with demon appearances and explosives.  A couple of moments during the game:

With Lady B and the Puritans forming an alliance, quick access to Marlowe's chamber at the Garter was achieved thanks to the lady's bramble growing skill.

A difficult fight in tight quarters

Meanwhile, an imp has appeared in "heaven" the staging area directly above the main stage

There's a slightly bigger problem on stage

Explosive are good for getting rid of demons but there may be some unexpected complications

Theatre critics: "I thought that was all a bit predictable."