First Play of Agonia

2008 Jul 10

Crossposted with Story Games

So we finally rocked out to my crusaderpunk Agon hack last night. The character sheet I used is this one (PDF):

Overall, it went very well. The things that worked were mostly Agon and the things that didn’t work were mostly some of my less-well-thought-out tweaks (Vassal Dice in addition to Name Dice, Bile, a few others). There was also some dissonance that happened because we kept trying to invoke the authority of half-remembered things John Harper once said on the internet, which is, unsurprisingly, a recipe for chaos. Also, I don’t think I had an appreciation of the parts of the game that are asymmetric. For example, the rules for taking Wounds (where multiple successes increase the level of the Wound, but not the number of boxes marked) and healing Wounds (where extra successes remove additional boxes of Wounds, and don’t have anything to do with the level of the Wound) make sense, but are slightly counterintuitive.

One thing I also didn’t fully appreciate is how long character creation takes in games like this. Granted, it’s meant for long-term play instead of most of the games I’ve recently been playing that are optimized for one-shots, but it made me wish I’d had time to pre-gen the characters beforehand, at least getting them half of the way done. That said, our characters were awesome:

Dan played an English Templar, since the knights across the Channel had not yet totally succumbed to the dark arts. He dual-wielded pistols to great effect and took his initial point of Affliction (corrupt demonic infections that give you kewl powers, which Templars start with) in additional wicked gun mojo. The Affliction rules were stolen directly from the cyberware/sorcery rules from Harper’s Shadowrun hack, but seemed to work well. I’m looking forward to seeing sorcery in play, hopefully in the future.

Eve played a Jewish scholar from Moorish Granata who served Raphael, the archangel of lore and healing, basically becoming the cleric in the group. Thanks to her, the crew racked up advantage dice to use against the evils they would encounter later, though we forgot to roll them in the one encounter that that were relevant in. The group will certainly be glad for them later, though.

Robert played the bastard son of a Spanish noblewoman who dallied with a charming Moor. He was a part of a mercenary company and had local connections that enabled the group to find a relative safe route into deepest, darkest Portugal.

Sean played a Persian noble sent from Baghdad to Toledo on a mission to uncover what the Templars were up to. In a contrast to most everyone else, he was clearly high society, into dancing and social events in addition to occasionally plugging foes with his ornate arquebus.

Eric played a Hospitaller from a craftsman background and, notably, pushed for creating tools and boxes with which to handle and safely transport the cursed demonic artifacts the Templars were reportedly bringing back from lands corrupted by the demonic Pestilence. This will indubitably be important later.

We threw down some initial competitions to determine starting Oaths (called Debts in this hack) and we were off… after about an hour or so of pre-game. Because it took so long to generate characters I ditched both the “campaign map” sub-game and TSOY-inspired rules for Keys, figuring we didn’t really need them right away.

To start, I said that Eric’s Hospitaller had heard that the Grandmaster of the Templars may have discovered the Holy Grail itself, but intended to use it for his own personal aggrandizement, rather than to fight the Pestilence. But the Pope and forces in the Papal States wouldn’t listen, so he’d come to Toledo to round up the locals he knew (the other characters) and try to gain support for seeking out where the Grandmaster had gone. This ended up being kind flimsy actually, since the players came up with much better reasons for being on the Quest in play and they ended up seeking out the missing Grandmaster themselves instead of enlisting aid from local authorities.

That may have been partially due to the local authorities having their own problems. A Christian army had recently taken Toledo, as part of the Reconquista, but the knights did not have any real experience governing cities, so, since the Pestilence’s jump across Gibraltar from North Africa meant that Christian Spain’s attention was elsewhere, they were negotiating with the local Muslim artistocracy to try to create some kind of governing coalition.

The first conflict, proposed by Sean or Eric, was over whether the characters could get themselves invited to the negotiations. Everyone succeeded, though Sean had to milk some other abilities to make it happen.

The second conflict, proposed by Eric, was over whether they could find someone who actually knew something about Templar activities. Through local connections Eve’s character nailed it by heading straight for the old man lurking in the background who happened to be the aristocracy’s chief manager of intelligence. The group learned that a Templar procession was seen heading down the dangerous road into deepest, darkest Portugal.

Portugal, I decided, had been repeatedly sacked and resacked during the Christian-Muslim battles of the Reconquista. Additionally, because gunpowder’s around in this anachronistic retro-future, Portuguese cities along the coast had been repeatedly blown apart with ship-mounted cannons. So it was a dangerous, lawless place.

The third conflict, proposed by Eve, was over whether they could do research to find out any information about what the Templars might be up to. She nailed this one again, learning that there were cursed demonic artifacts that masqueraded as sacred relics and that the Templars were wittingly or unwittingly collecting them. Those who succeeded in this roll got an advantage die against cursed demon artifacts.

The fourth conflict, proposed by Eric, was to equip themselves to properly handle and transport such artifacts. He used the new Toil ability to build some metal boxes and tongs and so forth, gaining another advantage die.

The fifth conflict, proposed by Robert, was to figure out the safest route into deepest, darkest Portugal. I spent an extra point of Strife here to make the journey potentially hazardous. Eric failed his initial roll, but called in a Oath from Dan, who saved him from falling into a ravine, sparing him a Wound. Robert triumphed, drawing on some shady local connections to secure an out-dated Roman map of the ancient roads and pathways through the mountains.

The group arrived in a rural Portuguese community, knowing that they were getting closer to their targets. The Templars, so they were told, had sacked the last village they came through. This next village, Valesca, had once stood beside an old Roman fort, but, after being sacked multiple times in efforts to take the fort, had rebuilt itself further up into the hills, leaving the fort unattended.

The sixth conflict, proposed by Eve and some others, was over searching the fort for signs of the Templars. She triumphed, finding bits of Templar armor and even pieces of Templars, hands that appeared to have been burned off the bodies. The group gained an advantage die over the creatures that did this and Sean described it as teaming up to build a water cannon, thinking that the beast was perhaps fire-related. There was some bickering at this point over whether building the water cannon should be a separate conflict, providing an additional advantage die, but eventually we just moved on to the fight, because people were getting restless.

The heroes decided to descend into the dark burrow at the center of the fort, triggering our first fight! Out of the shadows stepped 6 tattered former Templars with shadowy black tentacles coming out of all their facial orifices.

Dan stepped up first with his dual-wielded pistols, attacking with both hands. He managed to kill two of them right off, but discovered that I’d taken a version of the “Fiery Form” ability which allowed the creatures to automatically attack anyone who hit them in melee, before dying. His armor took one of the backlash blows from the tentacles, but he also took a 2-box Wound.

Then came everybody else, who attacked without many problems. Eve took one down, as did a couple others (I forget exactly who). Then the beasts counter-attacked, smacking Dan for a 3-box Wound because he’d assigned no dice to defense and his Armor was already a d4. Eric and Sean also took a 1-box Wound, but everyone else survived thanks to defense or Armor.

Next round, the group mopped them up, and Dan took out the last one, reserving some dice for defense this time from the tentacle backlash, but ended up failing and having to take it on his Armor (rolled a 4, thankfully).

Then we did a refresh. Robert and Sean invoked archangels. Eve was nice enough to heal Dan. Eric healed himself and Sean. Dan called for a couple of contests to remove impairment.

And then we decided to quit for the night, because it was 10:30 already. I was somewhat disappointed, since we didn’t even get to the really cool monsters that were coming later on, but I was happy that it had run reasonably well and that folks seemed to really dig the flavor. I’m going to make some changes to the character sheet in the future, but, overall, it rocked pretty hard. I just hope we can come back and finish this Quest.

2 Responses to “First Play of Agonia”

  1. Guy Shalev Says:

    Erm, if Dan shot the creature, why did he suffer the backlash those who hit it in melee suffer?

  2. Jonathan Walton Says:

    Pistols are melee weapons, because I’ve decided the blackpowder ones aren’t accurate enough to hit anything at range.

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