Last weekend I ran the first session of our new Lamentations of the Flame Princess campaign, prenteously called “Ashes of Angels.” This session served as a short session 0 where we went through character creation, discussed setting info and themes, and acclimatized our new player to the group. Character creation went fairly quickly, with shopping taking up most of the time. It went a bit quicker at the end of the session, when a couple of players rolled up new characters.
I had my players roll 3d6 straight down the line for the stats, and let them swap two scores. If they still didn’t like those numbers, I allowed them to take those numbers and make a loyal 0-level retainer for their PC and use a pre-determined array of numbers to plug in where they wanted (13, 12, 10, 9, 9, 6). I mockingly called this this “Premade Array for Baby Cowards.” I was delighted that all my players decided to play their rolls where they lay (with the optional swap). No henchmen for this group yet!
Here’s the initial party:
- Madeline: Specialist and grave robber (played by Erik)
- Belinda Kage: Serpentblood and midwife (played by IvyLynn)
- Mortimer: Alice and librarian (played by Pockets)
- Tranquilo: Fighter and conscripted sailor (played by Reamer) DEAD
- Hector: Alice and orphan (played by Jamison) DEAD
Two Alices! Unfotunately, they didn’t start out with any crazy powers.
I took Zak’s advice and started the campaign with the party in a dungeon. The last thing they remembered was being in Berlin, when they blacked out or were knocked unconscious. Sometime later they wake up in a cold jail cell stripped of all their gear and weapons.
“Psst… Are you awake?” says a voice in the dim light of a single torch. As the party awakes, they look through the bars of their cell to the other cell across the hall. There sits Ana Fischer, a young blonde woman, “country pretty” in tattered clothes and showing clear signs of torture. “We must get out of here before the witch hunter returns!”
The party begins examining their surroundings, looking for a way out. Madeline finds an old bronze cloak pin under a pile of moldy straw. Maybe it will serve as a make-shift lock pick? Meanwhile, Belinda detects a slight draft coming from a crack in corner wall of the cell.
Unfortunately for them, this is old-style D&D! Searching an area or picking a lock takes a full 10 minute turn. Before they can try to unlock their door, the witch hunter, Lazarus Holtz (cleric 2), arrives with a couple of goons (0-level).
“Good, I see you heretics are awake,” sneers the witch hunter. “Fear not, I have thumbscrews enough for all of you. You will all confess your crimes in time. But first, Frau Fischer has an appointment with the stake.” The goons drag Ana kicking and screaming out of her cell. The party try to taunt Holtz and his men closer to the bars so they can grab them, but the witch hunter is too crafty and cautious. The PCs ineffectively pelt the villains with rotten straw and pebbles, as Holtz and company leave with Ana.
Now the PCs feel like they have a time limit if they want to save the pretty peasant girl (they do!). Thankfully, Holtz is long winded, and they can hear him chanting litanies and accusations somewhere above them. Madeline picks the lock on the cell door, while Belinda removes a few bricks in the corner of the cell to find a narrow tunnel that leads into the dark where they hear and smell running water. The tunnel is too cramped for some of the larger party members to fit through (specifically Tranquilo, whose 18 CON makes him pretty beefy, and Belinda, whose player previously described as “broad and curvy”). They decide to take the safer route through the open door.
A store room near the cell reveals one of Holtz’s henchmen under a blanket, dead from vicious wounds that the PCs can’t quite identify. Sadly the body has no weapons on it. Looking quickly in Ana’s cell, they only find an old steel bucket full of stinking human waste. For now it is the party’s only weapon.
The party sneaks down the hallway and around the corner where thy find another store room and hear voices in low conversation. Hector the Alice sneaks ahead to check out the voices, while the others examine the store room. They find a few barrels of dried beans and horse feed, as well as a small barrel of gunpowder and (more importantly) a variety of shovels and other tools they can use as makeshift weapons (1d6 damage!). Hector discovers that the voices belong to a couple of Holtz’s goons who are patiently cataloging the party’s stolen gear. A plan is quickly formed.
Hector spreads the liquid waste from the bucket along the hallway floor while the rest of the party hides behind the storeroom door or around the corner. Hector then starts banging on the wall with his shovel, attracting the attention of one of the goons. When the goon sees Hector, he draws his sword and charges, fails his saving throw, slips on the filth, and slides toward the store room door, where Hector splatters his head with a shovel (100 xp for the first kill of the campaign!). The second goon is quickly dispatched before he can raise an alarm. Flush with victory, the party quickly recovers their gear and heads upstairs just as Holtz wraps up his “let’s burn a witch” ritual.
The stairs lead up to the ground floor of a small ruined tower in an old Roman fort. They PCs peek out into the overgrown courtyard. It’s dark and heavy snow is falling. Ana Fischer is tied to a stake on a pile of kindling, soaked with oil. A large, bound book sits on the pyre with her. Holtz is there with some of his goons (two in the courtyard, two on the walls with guns). The villains make their surprise roll, spot the PCs and combat begins!
After years of playing “modern” D&D, LotFP was brutal and visceral. And while the individual rounds went quick, this combat went pretty long. Most fights in 5th edition D&D seem to last maybe 3 or 5 rounds. This fight went on for over ten rounds, but it was never boring. The free-form nature of old-style D&D gave my players the liberty to try things they’d never think of attempting in newer D&D. I also used Cavegirl’s“Horrible Wounds” rules, which led to some very gory deaths, some dramatic turn-arounds, and interesting long-term wounds. The combat started off well for the party, but there was a streak of 3-or-4 rounds where the dice just weren’t with them, and no one rolled higher than a 9.
At the start of combat, the party immediately splits (no time for tactical discussions with recently met strangers!). Tranquilo runs out to the courtyard to try and stop Holtz from lighting the pyre. Mortimer the Alice expresses his frustration with the situation and discover a previously non-existent secret door that leads out of the tower and outside of the fort. The rest of the party follow him out this door and start to make their way around the outside wall to where they hear picketed horses.
One tower gunman fires at the outside party, but misses due to range. The other gunman fires at Tranquilo, but also misses. The fighter quickly dispatches one of the Holtz’s sword-goons while the Witchhunter begins casting a spell. “Surrender!” he shouts at the fighter, casting Command. Tranquilo drops his weapons and goes to his knees. One of the goons slaps manacles on him and Holtz lights the pyre. Ana screams, for she only has a few rounds before the flames reach her.
The rest of the party finds the villains' horses and mounts up. Hector, with his high Charisma, even manages to befriend Holtz’s ill-tempered war horse. They spur the horses and charge through the fort gates into the courtyard!
Hector directs his new warhorse to leap over the fire and knock Ana and the stake out of the flames. They succeed, but not well. The horse catches on fire and bucks Hector off. Ana is free of her bonds, but has caught on fire.
Mortimer uses his sword to strike the manacles off Tranquilo, and the fighter lunges at Holtz. They roll around on the ground, locked in combat, but brave Tranquilo has high DEX, but low STR (only a 6!). Holtz’s gets the upper hand, and his thumb crushes one of Tranquilo’s eyes like a grape. The rest of the party is occupied fencing with Holtz’s henchmen and trying to extinguish Ana’s flames.
One of the goons hits Belinda and drops her to 0 hit points, driving his blade in one side of her head and out the other. According to Cavegirl’s Horrible Wounds table, she’s a “dead woman walking” and will die in 2 rounds. “I have a couple of dots in Chirurgy and a fishing kit,” her player asks. “Can I quickly lash my face back together?” The other players think this idea is hilarious, and so do I. Madeline’s player mimics Stewey Griffin with glass in his forehead (“Uh oh! Do I leave it in or take it out??”)
“Okay, I say, but you need to make 2 successfully Chirurgy rolls.” Belinda rolls her dice, and boom, a 1 and a 2. Two successes.
“Okay, I say, but you need to make 2 successfully Chirurgy rolls.” Belinda rolls her dice, and boom, a 1 and a 2. Two successes.
|Try not to pick at that, Belinda.|
“Okay, so now you have two inches of broken sword blade sticking out of both sides of your head,with fishing line and hooks holding your face together. You look kind of like a cenobite. You’re at 1hp, but alive and unconscious.” We all agreed that this was pretty fucking metal, and I don’t regret fudging the rules a bit to make things more metal.
Meanwhile, things are going just as poorly for the rest of the team. Holtz and Tranquilo are on their feet know, going at each other with swords. Holtz gets in a good hit and severs Tranquilo’s arm (I really, really love the Horrible Wounds table). Hector expresses his frustration and the Alice table reveals that he has a small item hidden on his person. We decide that a flintlock pistol is smaller than a breadbox and possible to conceal. The newly discovered gun takes out one of the goons, but another goon slashes the Alice’s guts wide open (100xp to his next character for the first death of the campaign!). Mortimer finally manages to extinguish Ana, who is now horribly burned, unconscious, but at least alive and not on fire. Madeline drags her to the relative safety of the tower.
At this point, it’s pretty much the Holtz and two goons vs Madeline, Mortimer, and nearly dead Tranquilo. The words “TPK” are on everyone’s lips.
Madeline’s grave-robbin’ pick splatters one goon’s head, but the other slices off her arm at the elbow. Mortimer the Alice expresses his frustration is suddenly recalls that the style of breastplate that Holtz wears has a structural defect under the left dorsal arm flap. He’s now +2 to hit the witch hunter and manages to get a light stab in.
Madeline shoves the stump of her arm into the fire and cauterizes the wound. This stops her from bleeding out, but she fails her save and passes out from the pain. Holtz strikes Tranquilo again, and now the fighter’s leg is ruined, along with his arm and eye. But with a surge of adrenaline, the fighter’s sword finally strikes true and kills Holtz.
The remaining goon fails his morale check and turns tail to run. “You have one round to live, Tranquilo” I say. “Do you want to try and bind your wound? You have a 1-in-6 chance.”
“Nope,” he replies. “I’m going to try and go out in style.” He throws his dagger at the fleeing goon, and drops him before he can escape. “From Hell’s heart I stab at thee,” Tranquilo sneers as he dies.
The combat is over, and only three PCs remain alive. Two are brutally wounded, along with NPC Ana.
GM’s Note: Ana Fischer actually is a witch, and really is in league with Lucifer! If the flames had killed her, she would have called out to her dark lord with her last breath and trams formed into a flaming undead monstrosity. This didn’t happen, but now I get to use her as a party complication as she tries to get the PCs under her sway and find a new spellbook. Should be interesting!
At the end of the session, the surviving party members take shelter in the ruined fort and try to mend their wounds. They have found plenty of camping gear, so are relatively comfortable. They also found the witch hunter’s treasure cache along with an annotated map of the surrounding area. Their next move is to make their way to the small village of Nonsbeck. Madeline the grave robber has also heard rumors of the Ghoul Market, and hopes someone there can reattach her arm. They are also debating whether or not to explore the tunnel they found in their jail cell.
- Tranquilo (Fighter 1)
- Hector (Alice 1)
- 300sp in German thalers
- Large gold and ivory crucifix (worth 500sp, maybe more to the right people)
- Various mundane arms and equipment.
It's really nice to run some old-style D&D game, and I had a blast running this first adventure. I'm excited to see where my players go next. I'm laying out the groundwork to set them up for The Pale Lady, but it looks like we might take a quick visit to the Ghoul Market first. Of course, Nonsbeck will eventually have some horrible stuff happen to the townsfolk.
The intro adventure I put together fit nicely on two steno pages. Allow me to share...