Anderavia, sessions 1 + 2 recap
We meet BB’s character Enrico Pisani, a Venetian horse-soldier and ne’er-do-well nobleman’s son. Riding north across the Anderavian frontier in search of adventure and fortune, Pisani happened upon a violent encounter on the road. Musket fire and the clash of steel resounded through the forest, but his vision was obscured by the dense forest. Pisani arrived on the scene in the immediate aftermath: a well-dressed, middle-aged gentleman sat propped against his wagon’s wheel, wounded by a musket ball; of his assailants, there was no sign. The man, a merchant named Schulze, spoke deliriously of wodewosen (wild, vaguely Sasquatch-like forest hominids) attacking him and carrying off his daughter Katrina. He begged Pisani to take him to the wise woman (healer) in the nearby village; Pisani agreed to help, and drove the fainting Schulze eastward to a small village.
With Schulze stabilized under the care of the wise woman, Pisani made some inquiries around the village regarding the attack and trying to get an understanding of what sort of creatures lurked in the woods. Villagers spoke familiarly of wodewosen, but none had ever heard of a wodewose using a musket (or any sort of tool other than sticks and rocks). Another strange breed of creature seen locally was the tatzelwurm, a poisonous, predatory lizard-cat. Some villagers also informed Pisani of strange lights seen at night near an old ruined church located a ways up the mountainside.
A recuperating Schulze begged Pisani to help find his daughter Katrina, and offered him a reward for her return. Pisani recruited two able-bodied fellows — Hans, a local woodsman, and Brother Demetrius, the Church acolyte — and returned to the scene of the road ambush. The villains’ trail led the party first to a small, empty hut in a clearing, then through an encounter with two hungry Tatzelwurms (which they successfully drove off without personal injury), and ultimately to a rocky outcrop up the hillside. Here they found a hole in the ground with rusty metal rungs leading down.
With the trail at an end, they climbed down to investigate. A long, narrow tunnel led them into a cave system…
Pisani, Hans, and Brother D. cautiously made their way through the subterranean passages. As they looked around a larger cave, they made a grisly discovery: a bloody human forearm on the ground and a smeared trail of blood leading into the dark recesses of the cave. They followed the trail through an open area containing some strange chitinous plates on the ground to a dark tunnel, from which Hans faintly heard “clicking and crunching sounds.” Unsure of what fell creature lurked down the dark tunnel, the party opted to continue exploring the rest of the caves. In another chamber they encountered a small swarm of bloodthirsty stirges (they of course did not recognize them as such, merely as “strange mosquito-bat creatures”) that nearly drank Hans dry. The vile things slain, the group rested briefly and tended to Hans’ wounds before pressing on.
Another nearby cave chamber contained some metal rungs in the wall leading up, but the blooded, battle-ready group opted not to climb up just yet. They backtracked to the bloody tunnel and, when they cautiously made their way in, their torchlight revealed a monstrous, six-foot long, glistening black centipede. The horrible sight of such an unnatural creature stopped Hans in his tracks and sent Brother D. stumbling backwards in a near-panic. Pushing the horrified woodsman back up the tunnel, Pisani covered their retreat by firing his pistol at the thing. The report was deafening in the enclosed space; it was unclear whether the shot did any damage, but the din startled it enough to send it scuttling back down the tunnel into darkness.
After retreating and recovering their wits, the group decided to leave the centipede alone and head up the new set of metal rungs they found near the stirge cave. At the top of the rungs was a small landing and another short tunnel that ended in a wooden door. On the far side, they faintly heard a woman sobbing and low male voices speaking in German. The party unsuccessfully tried to draw this unknown force out into the tunnel, and decided to chance their limited cover and open the door. Their foes’ initial shots missed, and the fight between the party and three rough-garbed men quickly shifted to a fierce melee. Two of the enemy fighters were dispatched, and the third grievously wounded; seeing his comrades fall, he surrendered to the party.
The bandit, Rudolf, was reluctant to give any information for fear of reprisal by the “Master” or the “coven.” He told the party that he and his comrades were simple bandits, and that they were hired to kidnap a young woman, bring her to the church, and hand her over to the coven in exchange for money. He then tried to escape, but was caught and knocked unconscious. The group searched the room and the two adjoining rooms, using a key found on one of the dead bandits to unlock the storage closet in which Katrina was imprisoned. The group also discovered a staircase leading up, presumably to the ground floor of the church, but decided to retreat with their prisoner and Katrina back through the caves and return to the town.
A tearful, joyous reunion between Herr Schulze and his daughter netted Pisani a purse of 50 gold marks. The group turned Rudolf over to the local magistrate, who promised to have the jailer interrogate the bandit. He agreed to meet with Pisani the next day to further discuss a strategy for investigating the mysterious coven…
Referee’s notes: I ran the first session using Sabres & Witchery, a late Renaissance/Early Modern hack for Swords & Wizardry. The system worked fine, and I’d gladly consider it in the future for something more D&D-ish, i.e. a megadungeon campaign in Castle Anderavia; however, it didn’t quite have the feel that I wanted for the sort of adventure I’m running… I decided to change over to a tweaked version of BoL (incorporating elements from Honor + Intrigue) for the second session, and it hit the mark. I’ll definitely continue with this as my Pike, Shotte, & Sorcerie ruleset for now. Two system thoughts/reflections:
- The Terror rules from Honor + Intrigue worked great for the encounter with the Giant Centipede, and really helped to emphasize the “otherness” of the monster. I think that if a PC rolled a critical failure (2-3), then they would receive some sort of sanity-related Flaw (phobia, paranoia, addiction, etc.)
- There were a few instances where firearms were fired in tunnels and other enclosed underground spaces, and I didn’t really do much regarding the potentials for hearing loss and cave-ins. I’d like to come up with a spot rule for this sort of thing that keeps to the pulpy spirit of the BoL system but is at least somewhat realistic.
Next session is in two weeks, I’m definitely looking forward to continuing this. I’m a little nervous, since the adventure looks to be returning to investigation mode — not my strongest area as a referee, but I’m ready for the challenge. More from me soon…