There will be role-playing and analytical descriptions in this post.
When pondering how I wanted to start my Vornheim game I was at a cross roads, not really able to commit to one particular path until I read a post by Zak over on his blog that kind of gave me some focus on how I wanted things to kick off.
From the way my players answered their questionnaires, each seemed to be on the lower rung of the law or moral compass. Yes, there is some channeling of Han Solo for these characters and that is what makes them interesting and unpredictable.
So I decided that Nate and Liam would wake up, hung over, in a jail cell with no recollection as to what happened or how they got there. The focus here was not a mystery of what happened or solving it (as in the Hangover) but just to give a feel of the mood of my Vorhnheim, plus highlight what I had seen on their character sheets in a small way.
Not only did they find themselves in a jail and not knowing how, but both were basically wearing a burlap sack.
Nate’s character Terra and Liam’s character Phillip were greeted by Constable Narrix and after establishing him as someone that Terra has known and is on friendly terms with I highlight exactly why they are in jail.
Terra had apparently started a barroom brawl at the Whining Dog Saloon which spilled out into the streets, which on that particular day was illegal in Vornheim. During the altercation Terra assaulted a noblewoman.
Constables reported on the scene in due haste at which Phillip panicked and attempted to steal a Put Put (horseless carriages that have gigantic steam engines in the back) that was being worked on. Revving it up, the engine exploded and damaged a storefront, breaking all the windows.
Now that the group knew what had transpired they did a little bit of role-playing to try and convince Narrix that they were innocent.
Then I gave them a nice jolt, “I’m not the one who two have to convince. Your trial is in 20 minutes.”
The players both exclaimed about this, obviously shocked. Very beautiful.
“Your jury is business people celebrating in Masquerade. I’ll take you to the courtroom now.”
I wanted to capture the weird chaotic laws/trials of Vornheim, so I thought what a better way than having two people who caused a major public disturbance be put on the spot (especially for something they don’t remember doing) in front of a bunch of snobby business people dressed in colorful clothing and intense masks.
The trial was quite fun and I enjoyed watching the players scramble to make up how they were innocent and it was all a misunderstanding. Some of the stuff that both Nate and Liam came up with made me crack up.
After the exposition I weighed how good of a case the players built for themselves (regardless of overwhelming evidence against them and the fact that a Noble was assaulted by a commoner) and lessened the penalty that would be levied against them.
In the end I decided on 1000 gold.
I then plopped another twist into their laps by having to the orator state, “We will now begin bidding on their contract.” I then role-played out some of these business people haggling over trying to get the price down until I had a woman wearing an Orc Mask that had its eyes ripped out and blood spilling down the cheeks stand up and buy them outright for 1000 gold.
I portrayed the business people becoming hushed and slightly cowed, giving this woman an aura of power and “don’t fuck with me.”
The characters were given their gear and got dressed and were lead outside by this woman who introduced herself as Lady Zane.
“You are free to do as you like. You are not a slave. However when my mistress needs you, she will call.”
“Well who the hell is your mistress?” Terra demanded.
“She will reveal herself when she is ready. Undoubtedly you can ask around and figure out who I serve, and if you wish to engage in such a waste of time I will not stop you. I shall take my leave of you here. When my mistress calls, be prompt. Don’t make us come look for you.”
Now the group has a “who’s pulling the stings kind of hook” that they can choose to ignore when the summons comes. Will there be repercussions? Absolutely. That doesn’t mean it’s any less fun however.
From there I turned the table completely to the players and asked where they wanted to go and what they wanted to do.
Both wanted to go back to the Whining Dog Saloon and have a few drinks and see if there was anything interesting going..
Holy Fuck! Brain Worms!
The group made their way to the Whining Dog Saloon and was greeted by the proprietor Hazock, an older Orc with a grizzled face and white hair. After a few joking remonstrations made by Hazock at the mess caused last night, Terra made her way to the Grub Fighting box and Phillip went to talk to a lonely girl reading a book at a table.
I described the small box that was on a table that a few people were cheering at. As he got to the table people were using clamps to pull these 3 ½ inch grey worms with a 3 tooth maw out of the box. The worms, even the gravely injured one, were struggling in the clamp, snapping at the people.
I described one guy bumping into the one holding the worm making him almost drop it, “You fool! Be careful! These are brain worms! Do you realize what could happen if I dropped it?!”
Nate said, “Holy Fuck! Brain worms!” I loved it. I got a disgusted noise when I described the creature and now Nate was on edge simply through the act of description and eluding to something dangerous occurring should this small creature get free. That was an awesome moment for me.
To make the gambling of the next match more exciting I let Nate roll for the one he was betting on and I rolled for the reigning champion. It lasted two rounds and Nate was out 15 gold. Too bad.
Liam made headway with the woman who introduced herself as Hessna, who was about to become a priestess of Vorn. After a few more drinks the couple was off to Hessna’s apartment to have some fun.
Terra watched him leave while drinking a Scorpion’s Sting. One of Terra’s friends, Karl, offered her in on a job to steal some illegal Wisps of the Web (a drug made from the purplish webs of the Wailing Widow) that was going to be the main prize of a bootleg deal done down in the sewers tomorrow night. Terra agreed and bid him good night.
Things Just Got Interesting
Once Phillip and Hessna were in her apartment she confessed that she was not about to become a priestess of Vorn, but of Tittivilla (which worships the flesh, pleasure, and pain).
Phillip cleared his throat nervously, “And what aspect of the church do you represent?”
Hessna removed her dress showing pierced nipples and healing cuts and scars along her ribs and her arms. “We sample all that life has to offer.” With that she leapt upon Phillip and ravaged him.
Phillip woke the next morning feeling sore but satisfied. Smiling to himself he turned his head and felt the smile slide off his face as he stared into the dead eyes of Hessna.
Phillip sprang up and checked her for a pulse.
Liam: “Are there any signs of violence. Is her neck broken?”
Me: “Her neck definitely isn’t broken. Looking at her body there are tons of signs of violence. Her back and ribs have scars and cuts that are healing. However what you realize is there are fresh scrapes down her back where you dragged your nails on her, and there are bits of skin and blood under your fingernails.”
Liam: “Um.. Fuck.. I start checking around the room for anything peculiar or out of place.”
Me: “Ok. You look for a few minutes, but since this is a strange place you really don’t notice anything out of the ordinary. Suddenly there is a knock at the door and a deep man’s voice is muffled through the wood, “Hessna dear it’s time for you to get up. Don’t want to be late for your coronation as a priestess of Tittivilla.””
Nate: (laughs) “Oooo shit dude. You’re fucked.”
And that is where I ended the evening..
Everything that happened after the court introduction was thought of on the fly and has introduced several threads to the characters right off the bat. I am really excited to see where my characters take this and am bummed that I have to wait till June 26th for us to play again (I’ll be in Scotland for two weeks and have family visiting mid-June).
I am very happy with the Vornheim book and the help/inspiration it brings to my gaming table.