Thursday, 9 July 2015

Panic In Pluckley 

A Review of a Mad Playtest

Part 1: The Village 

Warning this contains spoilers for The Wandering: Panic in Pluckley, which I will be releasing on PDF.

I am not sure what I was expecting when I wandered into our local MK RPG Club and waved my recently written game in everyone's faces demanding poor unsuspecting players. 

I had a naive attitude that they would not expect what was to come.

Obviously, being a new GM I severely underestimated the ability
of players to bugger up everything you have written and turn it entirely on its own head. It was fantastic.

The game was played with the Lamentations of the Flame Princess system and was run over two sessions so I will break my review into two. I will try to cover the highlights rather than detail everything that happened however the game was very eventful!

The basic premise is that a strange town named Pluckley has had some strange occurrences happen. Nobody is able to go in or out of the village and the only trades coming out are a strange selection of potions. Immediately, the players were intrigued and set off across the swamp which separates Pluckley from the rest of the world. They took a horse and cart and bantered with the one eyed man who drove it.

Before the cart departed, The Fighter grabbed a bunch of potions left at the coach station and downed them. This earned him a phobia of reflective surfaces. He could no longer look into mirrors without seeing the pulsating horrors of other dimensions. He did not learn his lesson, however, and downed another immediately after, becoming a werewolf, which he kept secret from the other party members. 

We had six players in total. An overly effeminate and exuberant elf, a suspiciously sneaky half-ling, a body burying cleric, a weird and wonderful werewolf fighter, a overly horny specialist and a magnificently mad magic user. 

When the cart pulled to a halt outside of Pluckley they argued with the price of the trip with the cart driver and asked him questions about the town. The cart driver refused to go any further than the outskirts of the town. In defiance of the extortionate price they faced, the elf swept out of the cart and, failing a dexterity role for his elegant departure, landed face first in the mud. The other players immediately paid the cart driver.

The Fighter decided the best course of action was to hit up the Hags Hollow Tavern and buy some of the Ale. The others agreed and they trekked through the mud to the tavern. When they entered they spotted a bickering couple by a raging fire, an old haggard lady spitting into cups and cleaning them with a dirty rag at the bar, and a pissed patron sat in the centre.

Mortimer, the Specialist, and the Elf made a beeline for the old lady and asked her questions about the town. She told them all about Pluckley and some of the missing individuals who had been wandering off into a strange lake which had appeared almost overnight several months ago. They learned about the Twins in the market who were distributing the potions and the hunters encountering strange elf like beings in the woods.

Meanwhile, the halfling, the magic user and the Fighter drank some of the ale. They made a save vs. magic and only the Fighter lost, who then became cursed to go to the lake at night. No one was aware of this at the time.

After milking the old lady for all of the information they could, Mortimer the specialist made a very successful Sneak and went upstairs to investigate the rooms. He found the Pregnant daughter, Beatrice Nox, of the couple downstairs and decided the best thing to do would be to rob her blind while she slept. He found yellow potions on her bed side cabinet and within the drawer he found a necklace with a picture of a young boy and a badly written pornographic fanfiction of two of the male villagers, clearly written by the old lady downstairs. The players requested this actually be written.

After some debate about going to the lake or staying at the inn out of the rain, the Cleric suggested visiting the Church to discuss the strange goings on. He was convinced the dead were walking and had a morbid fascination with the way the villagers, and other individuals who visited were trapped forever, were buried. There was some excellent roleplay from the players regarding their characters who brought their pre-genned characters to life.

Mortimer the Specialist and the Elf decided to stay and book out one of the rooms to keep an eye on the couple. They quickly decided against talking to the Pissed Patron, as he was rambling about frogs and did not seem to have any useful information (a pity, as he had quite a lot of interesting stories!).

This did not end well, which I will detail after the equally as disastrous encounter at the church...

The cleric, the magic user, the halfling and the fighter made their way through the dark to the church on the hill. The church was circular with a beautiful frieze depicting wolves and men hunting in the woods under the light of a full moon. There were many pillars and it was greek in our world in style. Inside, there was a priestess named Mother Dawn Ingbert who told them that people were drinking from the yellow potions and wandering into the lake. She informed the players that the Brewery had been closed for months but the ale and potions were still flowing because the Twins had taken over.
She greeted the Fighter as a brother, for he was now a werewolf and she the leader of the Pack of Pluckley,

Here, the players became completely mad. The Fighter saw all of the horrors of the world in the silver reflective surfaces of various artifacts within the church. He grabbed his sword and started destroying them violently. The questioned priestess shrieked in terror and begged them to stop. Suddenly, the fighter glazed over and began to walk out of the church towards the lake where his curse began to take effect. The other players tied him to a pillar and the cleric preached that he had gone mad with lycanthropy and needed to be cleansed. The priestess dispelled magic on him, removing the curse which wanted to take him to a lake. However, the fighter still wanted to go to see what all the fuss was about.

Immediately, the halfling looted the church and stole the valuables while the rest were distracted. Together, the players decided they did wish to go to the lake but did not know the way so they through a yellow potion they had found in the face of the priestess to use her as a guinea pig.

MEANWHILE....

Mortimer and The Elf enjoyed a very naked sleep in the inn when they suddenly heard someone moving. Mortimer abandoned the elf and ran out, stark naked, to see the Pregnant Nox walking in a trance down the corridor. He and the elf attempted to stop her by grappling and succeeded at which point her parents burst out of the room and demanded to know why a naked man was man handling their pregnant daughter. 

Left with no other choice, Mortimer knocked the pregnant lady out and deposited her on the bed. They then questioned the Noxes and discovered that their daughter had been taking the yellow potion nightly and that only recently had these potions been having strange effects ever since the lake appeared.

They decided to meet their comrades  (Wisely, they got dressed before going.) and fill them in, which caused them great surprise when they found they had kidnapped and drugged a priestess. No one seemed to object and it seems that morals went right out of the window at the start of the game.

The players followed the drugged priestess through the winding woods to an immense red lake with strange twisted trees growing on the banks. A successful role revealed many footprints leading into the lake.

One of the players seized a stick and stuck it into the water which resembled a thick oily ooze rather than water. It promptly dissolved as if touched by acid. Undeterred, the half-ling seized the priestesses raised arms (for she was standing on the bank with her arms up to the moon) and tried hanging over the death trap of a lake.

They watched as the the woman threw back her head and howled at the moon. The lake rippled suddenly and then parted to reveal a great dark staircase leading down into the dark.

The players shat themselves and I ended the session on a successful cliff hanger.

Overall, the first session went really well with lots of opportunity for role play. I feel that I could improve the game by including more hints and hooks to have the players explore the village more, however, there is so much the players can do they are unlikely to cover it all. The players found themselves with a lot to do and at no point did the story become disengaging enough for the players to feel they had to pushback.

I am happy with how the first session went for the first part of the game and will give a review of the second part soon!