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Pies and Rats – Part 2

June 11, 2011

Roughly 8 hours since the events in the sewers, Arimis and Ernst found themselves at the Ratcatcher’s Guild having an ale with Newton and Ferdigus, going over the letters found in the Ratfiend’s lair. It was some fascinating, if somewhat disturbing, reading. Evidently, Beila was the sister of one Verdin Tench. While the letters make clear that both were brother and sister, the letters also make clear that their relationship was an incestuous one. In the letters Verdin talks about undermining the fabric of Shrewsport, starting a “guild of muggers and ruffians” that would use the sewers as their base of operations. Eventually, their most trusted lieutenants would be blessed with the visage of Skreet (whatever  that meant) and they and their followers would rule the city of Shrewsport from the shadows, an inverted court where Beila and Verdin would be King and Queen. Even now, Verdin had made an alliance with the Shadowsknives, extortionists and thieves who run in the alleys and shanties around Oldgate. In fact, 3 Shadowknives were supposed to show up at Beila’s hideaway and pick up Newton at midnight to be taken to “the black boat where he would be made one with the Host” (again, whatever that meant). Conveniently, in the letters there was also a hand drawn map to presumably the ‘black boat’ that was to be given to the Shadowknives.

Verdin stated, “In about an hour they’ll find her dead. Then Verdin will know something is amiss and will almost certainly change lairs and plans” At that moment Tharbin walked in with two spears and set them against the wall.  Verdin went on “I have had Tharbin take some guild silver and have it melted and applied to these spear blades. We ratcatchers know of these fiends. They are most vulnerable to weapons made of silver. Unfortunately, we could only coat these weapons, but that should be effective enough. Ferdigus you have already volunteered, but,” Newton pointed to Arimis and Ernst, “you two are not part of this feud. Verdin wanted my co-operation. He wanted us to not only stay away from the sewers but stay out of the Old Gate section of Shrewsport entirely. He promised us gold for our cooperation but I refused. The guild has always been an independent and honorable institution that will not knuckle under to thugs and criminals. I’ll give you each 50 gold if you help Ferdigus hunt down Verdin. What say you?” Arimis and Ernst agree to Newton’s offer, much to the visible relief of Ferdigus.

The peasant, conjuror and ratcatcher head down to St. Swithen’s Bridge to bring down Verdin. The night was clear and warm with a half moon casting a wan light. Within a half hour they were were at the old docks north of the bridge. They espied a boat – a flat river scow with a wood cabin mounted on top. On the deck looking out at the river was a broad, cloaked figure.

Sneaking up to some nearby barrels, Ferdigus took aim with his crossbow while Ernst charged, leaping from the dock to the scow. Ferdigus’s shot went wide, but it alerted the figure to their presence. As he turned Ernst saw that he was attacking a slackjawed man in an ochre colored cloak, his skin pallid white in the moonlight. Ernst immediately ran him though but there was no blood and no sound from the man; instead, his mouth distended and from it issued a rat! As Ernst watched in horror the rats issued forth as the man seemed to collapse in on himself. (GM Note: In hindsight I should have had Ernst make a minor Terror Check, failure of which would have left him shaken. That’s a fairly awful thing to see for a first level fighter. Would have been a good time to use an aspect as well.) Ernst suddenly found himself swarmed by rats. Soon Ferdigus and Arimis were at his side stomping and crushing rats. Arimis called forth fire from his hands and burnt many of the little brutes. Soon, the rats stopped attacking and those that remained scurried away. Soon after, from the cabin issued Verdin in rat form, his fur black, his eyes reflecting a malignant light. Ernst goaded the beast by revealing that they had killed Beila and knew about his “relationship” with her. This sent Verdin into a rage and he sprung directly for Ernst. (GM Note: I should have given Ernst a fate point for this.) The ensuing battle was a completely one sided affair. A brutal thrust of the silver spear stopped Verdin cold, his wild swing not even close enough to hit Ernst. White, star like missiles flew from the staff of Arimis and slammed into a screaching Verdin’s side. Ernst then slammed the rim of his shield into Verdin’s jaw and skewered the ratfiend’s belly pushing the beast to the right and into the path of Ferdigus’s spear who pierced him from behind. Verdin fell to the ground quite dead.

The companions searched the cabin and found some treasure and a bound Algie in a closet, quite the worse for wear. Algie revealed that the other two ratcatchers were dead and that he was supposed to be fed to “the Host” the next day. After taking Algie back to the guild, Ernst suggested that Newton alert the authorities, but the Guildmaster was somewhat dismissive of this stating “The watch and their captains care little for ratcathers or the people of Oldgate”.

 The next day Mung visited Arimis and Ernst personally as they headed out from the guild to their original destination, the Falcon’s Nest Inn. He happily paid them their gold and commended them on their bravery and skill. “Mung picked the right two for the job”, he says more than once. One thing Mung tells them of interest is that Verdin’s lair, the black boat, burned early in the morning and was now at the bottom of the river…

So ends the adventure, Pies and Rats.

GM Notes: Bruce and I really only played about 1 1/2 hours. Still it was a good playtest for me as it brought up some things:

  • Bruce’s luck was phenomenal last night!
  • I really liked how the Playing Card actions worked. I think the mix of risk and reward is about right. The cards themselves need to be genericized a bit and would like to come up with a full 52 – but that might be difficult. Maybe the suites would have some meaning as well. Hearts would have mean some sort of healing effect. Spades would be particularly powerful melee effects as well. Eh, just thinking ‘out loud’. We’ll see.
  • Had a little bit of a problem trying to figure out how to compel Bruce’s aspects. He suggested I use ‘Big Oaf’ for his leap between boat and ship, but I felt that unfair since I had failed to warn him of the leap until after he had committed to charging the creature on the boat. Should have done it anyway!
  • Bruce was suggesting using combos, using Aspects and Playing Card Actions in the same round. I’m against this though as I think it can be too powerful and also skews the risk/rewards of using the playing cards. The current rule is an Aspect can only be invoked once per round (conversely, it also can only be compelled once per round).  I believe I should update the rule to state that only one Fate Point can be used per round.

Anyway, good time as always. Thanks to Bruce for coming over on a particularly stormy and kinda weird night.

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