Playtest Report – Bridewell Session 2

My Bridewell playtest campaign continued today with Marcia, Sandro, and with Zedeck joining. It was a shorter session because I was running it from in hospital! We’re playing in my own hack of Trophy Gold. There will be Bridewell spoilers, but if you’re a part of the playtest, you can definitely read this.

Vero the Ratcatcher and her small fierce attack-dog joined Ursaline the bear-priestess, and Ferdrek, the disgraced noble. They picked up where they left off, headi mg back into the mists on the trail of the kidnapping wolves.

They found a massive she-wolf, exerting dominance over a pack of wolves, and followed them at a distance to Cairn Tor, a hill with a wicker-man type effigy at its peak and catacombs at its base. Investigating the catacombs, Ferdrek met a hazy entity with angry eyes and an axe that dripped blood, who threatened him initially, but joined them to drive the druids and wolves from his resting place. He named himself Shukrul.

The company chose to investigate the effigy first, and revealed the site of a massive druidic ritual, ready to be performed come through right astrological moment. The effigy was not just an image, but a cage, for a massive, bellowing creature. Hesitantly, Ferdrek began to use his sword to hack away at the effigy, attempting to free the creature, but they were cornered by Kori, a man with wolves teeth, and four angry wolves with thorns in their flesh and moss-thickened fur.

After Vero angered them (“Why are we bargaining with kidnappers?!”) a fight ensued, resulting in four unconscious wolves and one tied up man, who was unwilling to provide information (and happy to sacrifice his pack) until his own body was threatened. He revealed some information: That he was doing this for the good of his pack, that the High Druid was involved in their association, and that the effigy would “Birth Sigvatibog”. They beheaded him, cowing his pack, who fled as his body grew into a savage thorned plant-thing, which the company burned.

They company freed the creature in the cage, who they now suspected was Padru, spirit of the forest. A massive, red-panda-like entity of autumn colours, she gave Ferdrek a blessing (who knows what?) and answered some of Vero’s questions in an onslaught of emotions and impressions: The druids we’re misguided and well-meaning children, the High Druid was deceiving them; the ritual would have turned her into another, more violent, cruel entity; the children are trapped below. Vero, wanting to stay in contact with the forest-god, asked where she could find Padru again — she pointed far south, to the woods of the Valley, the Crosswood. Then, she departed, ambling through the boughs without them stirring.

The company burnt the effigy and destroyed the ritual site, and then went into the catacombs, finding that Shukrul had fought against the wolves there, who had fled or died. He offered Vero the Bloodsoaked Ax, who accepted it, in thanks. They rescued thr two children from cells behind a well-used arena. They lit a fire in the forest, made them food, and played games with them, before returning them home.

The Burgomaster Ionus offered them gold as reward, but they declined and asked instead for food and board, which was eagerly accepted. After the towns’ celebrations, they cornered Veaceslav, who was mortified and disbelieving regarding their claims — indeed, it seems the druids were deceived, but by whom, and for what purpose?

We chose to end the session there.

This was a much shorter, more directed session, with less mystery than the last, but it seemed like everyone enjoyed the pace. There were also two combats! Though brief ones, and plenty of ruin dealt. Combat with my revisions definitely runs smoother than earlier Trophy Gold combats.

Interestingly, this entire plot was closed without an entire location and faction being involved, and without much of a hitch (other than Vero exclaiming “what kind of wolves are these”, something explained by the fact that they’re corrupted ones, and the “good” wolves have been entirely unencountered). There will be some consequences to this plot being closed early, that will be interesting to see what comes about.

I was surprised that the encounter with Padru went so well, but the feedback was resoundingly positive as both tonal relief and as an example of horror source and insight into the past of the valley, which was all excellent feedback.

I was really happy with the character descriptions here; they’re one or two sentences only, and gave me plenty of sauce for the unexpectedly prolongues encounters with Veaceslav and with Kori. I think the random encounter with the giant she-wolf probably needs to go, although perhaps that was my mistake, rendering her as a member of Kori’s pack. Too many wolves, I think, and an odd random one probably needs to go. In a module of this complexity, that’s one level of complexity that isn’t necessary.

I still am surprised by the density and complexity of the religious aspects of Bridewell, which weren’t intentional at all but seem to be becoming increasingly important to the characters, especially now that they have met one of the gods in question. If they’d asked questions differently, she’d have granted them a quest, and I’d be surprised if they didn’t seek her aid later in the campaign if we manage to continue running.

Overall, another successful session and playtest, and I’m glad it sustained a more directed session than the last.

25th May, 2023

Idle Cartulary

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