The Chronicles of Ceteri: Ep8 – Bloodsport

What happened before

After the bowling alley massacre, we effectively flee the scene of the fight. We’re picked up very quickly by someone we identify as a sidhe, and a powerful one at that. We try and find a place that might be tactically defensible, and take the pursuit out of town to an abandoned church, which is surrounded on three sides by running water. We then realize that the sidhe really isn’t going to be hindered by this, and that we’ve basically boxed ourselves in. This is reinforced when tons and tons of sluagh start arriving, in anticipation of the carnage to come. We bargain with them, trying to make them at least neutral, and while making deals with fae is never good, we buy ourselves time time. Five years, in fact . . . but that might not work out as we thought. The sluagh mistress, in order to secure her future interests, “helps” us escape – taking us to the fae lands of Underhill. We journey down the King’s road, and eventually meet the king, and of course also the father of the sidhe we killed in the bowling alley. Some major bard-song later, we manage to escape back to the real world – but not before agreeing to meet the champions of the sidhe in combat to settle the matter once and for all.

Oh, and also Timothy got completely vamped by a ridiculously hot faerie lady, who started the conversation saying nice things about Timothy’s car, and ended up giving him the ride of his life . . . and whenever faeries do that sort of thing . . . bad things happen later. Changelings? Yeah, don’t want to be the baby-daddy of that kind of union, but we’re pretty sure that’s what’s going to happen.

Never mess with fae. Never make deals with fae. Never travel through fae lands. And definitely do not have sex with fae. We managed to do all four.

Dramatis Personae

Kamali Blackshear (14): Kamali is a young boy in his early teens. He is healthy and is of mixed ethnicity of Caucasian South African and native South African. He is a determined youth who believes in a justice of his own, likening himself to the knight of the round whom he has read deeply into. Just as they stood against the darkness of their age so too does Kamali seek to do the same. For his sister, for his friends, and for the world.

Tag: “A knight without a sword carrying a faith nobody believes.”

Lorenzo DeModouco (15): A handsome and charismatic musician. The loss of his parents didn’t dampen his spirits and he soldiered on after their death. He’s the cheery one always trying to make others happy and sometimes spontaneously breaks into song. Perceptive of others and their feelings, Lorenzo is the one who knows what people are thinking by the looks on their face. He’s also a boy scout and is quite comfortable in the wild.

TAG: “He’s a Jukebox Hero. He’s got stars in his eyes. A Jukebox Hero – he’ll make sure you survive.”

Amos M. Humiston (15) – A comfortable existence turned upside down, he’s still shell-shocked from what happened to his parents and has switched from a small and chatty boy to a small and quiet boy. Amos tends to quietly slip along after the group leaving a trail of books read behind him. And though he doesn’t volunteer himself quite yet, he’s always happy to help the best he can without showing off his intelligence, though that doesn’t stop him from being happy to do so when it’s possible.

Gabriel MacAlister (14) – Built like the natural athlete he is, he shows signs of growing even larger and stronger. A fairly quiet and hard-working lad, always ready to lend a hand with any work, which he will do without complaint or obligating the other person to respond. Emphatically not a pushover or weak personality, but also not one to purposefully show off. Has been in many horrible places and seen many horrible things; he’s a bit of a compulsive planner as a result, as well as always feeling that most folks don’t really know how lucky they are.

Tag: “To serve others is the highest calling; to protect the meek the noblest endeavor.”

Timothy I Mitchell (16): Timothy possess an honest if forgettable face. He tends towards comfortable, though inexpensive clothing and durable running shoes, rounding off his typical attire is a deep pocketed jacket and a backpack slung over one shoulder. Timothy appears to be a poster-boy for bad kids, often finding himself in trouble with any and all forms of authority. A victim of neglect, driven to never become a victim again he often acts seemingly on impulse, taking any dare or challenge in his stride. Timothy doesn’t have friends, not in any real sense. Too few of the people who enter his orbit can deal with him in anything more than bite sized pieces, a fact which only further frustrates the young teenager.

Tag: “Darkness is within all of us, it’s how you use that darkness that matters”

Team Meeting

We decide we need to have a team meeting, since we’ve arrived back at Myriam’s house and she helps us patch ourselves up. It’s the same day.

We also review the terms of the upcoming battle. We threw down a challenge to the sidhe, which the high King endorsed. Everyone will get a one-on-one fight each, and the survivors are good for life. They’ll try and bring in their best to murderize us all. They are almost certainly going to declare a fight to the death, and we will almost certainly bring as much iron to bear as we can – that is the death of both body and soul for them: to be slain by iron is to be denied entrance to Tír na nÓg.

Amos is the man for knowing what the rules of the duel might be – he rolls a games check, boosted by his knowledge of fae, and does quite well.

When you challenge the foe, we set the challenge, the location, and what it’s for. We basically set the stakes – we win the fight, and we get left alone. They get to determine the challenge – the equivalent of choosing weapons.

We do most of the negotiations with a pixie – basically a flying barbie doll in looks and depth. We’re told that we’ll be meeting at midnight, this very night, at a subway station. We will expect to each fight a single combat. We can set the stakes for victory – we’re toying with having a not-to-the-death challenge be “they don’t try and kill us anymore,” and the to-the-death stakes be that they owe us a favor or a boon as well. Something to help us push towards “not to the death.”

We’re given the key to Myriam’s armory, which we know is very well stocked from prior adventures. Kamali arms himself up with a fine broadsword, and he uses his supernatural sense to find an old Tommy gun that has a vibe that says “massive death to supernatural” to him. Myriam finally comes down to the basement, and just wordlessly hands us things. None of us own any armor other than motorcycle leathers, so she hands us tactical vests. We elect old, steel plates rather than the modern titanium or ceramic stuff, in case the iron has advantage.

Gabe and Lorenzo both have shield skill, so Myriam hands us shields. I’ve got my magic sword, a shield, a shotgun with steel shot, and a knife selected by Timothy. The others kit themselves out to their satisfaction.

We ask if there’s something to resist faerie glamour, and she takes us out to the greenhouse, and shows us sprigs of moly, which we pin to our lapels as some help.

When we come up from the armory, Myriam is sharpening a sword and loading bullets into her lever-action rifle. She’s coming with us, apparently.

We head over to the subway. We see three reps from the royal court, plus someone in a mechanic’s “monkey suit.” We also see a small army of bikers, and an ogre. Myriam curses under her breath, and says “be nice. The ‘harmless mechanic’ guy is the Duke of Broken Promises. He’s in charge of the local fae, and is very dangerous.”

Gabe and Timothy are just quietly expecting to fight and die.

The mechanic guy comes up to us. He’s got a Ledbetter’s Auto suit on, the name “Lan” stenciled into it. “Are you up to this?” he asks.

“Well, we didn’t ask for any of this fight; but it seems to be the fight we have to have.”

He mentions he might have an ace up his sleeve for Carl; he’s related to Myriam by marriage (Lan is), so there are some benefits there.

We hear huge, heavy footsteps coming up from behind us. A tall, blonde-haired fellow, dressed in leathers in an anachronistic fashion. He’s got a bit of facial hair, and is not fae, but is definitely something; she gives a slight smirk. “What are we looking at?”

She smiles. “That’s Aldrick. It looks like the werewolves are getting involved.”

Carl isn’t required to fight, but he doesn’t have to if he chooses a champion. Ooo, ooo, pick the werewolf, Carl. OK, yay, allies.

We ask the werewolf for any advice? Don’t die. Gee, thanks.

Two fights of the six will be to the death; we get to choose those. The rest not. We’ve got two werewolves, so presumably they’re the most able to survive a death fight – well, that and Lorenzo’s player has apparently arranged a bunch of stuff via private notes with the GM. I guess we’ll see.

The rest are to yield or submission. Whomever wins the most fights wins the duel. Anyone on the platform is a legal combatant; if you fall off the platform, you’re done. If they bring in more than one person, so can we. If someone cheat, though, they automatically lose that fight. We can also avail ourselves of other options if they cheat.

We shall see.

Gabe draws the high roll.

Gabe vs Sir Kendrick

He’s out there facing what appears to be an empty suit of armor, glowing from the inside, with a very large, oversized polearm.

“If you would like to quit now, I’ll allow it, but I’ll be disappointed. Ah, excellent. A fighter. I am Sir Kendrick.”

Lorenzo speaks for Gabe without asking, so we fight. We agree that whomever hits three times – first to three – wins the fight. They need not be lethal, and Sir Kendrick doesn’t seem too fazed by Gabe’s fae-cursed sword.

We evaluate for a few rounds; he then steps close, and Gabe lunges in at Reach 2. He’s parried. We go back and forth, and he beats me three brutally hard hits to my two . . . and yet he asks why we were fighting. I give him the quick story; we were attacked dishonorably from the back under glamour, and killed the sidhe and his retainers in our own defense. Since then, it’s basically been “run away” and try and deal with that. “Ah. I was unaware of this when I was offered a chance for great sport.” He offers up a gauntlet, which Gabe accepts graciously . . . and the observer asks if the fight is over. Sir Kendrick, looking really, really annoyed, says “Yes, the fight is over. I yield.”

Huh. Sportsmanship for the win.

Kamali vs. the Redcap

Kamali is up next. He’s offered the choice of how to fight the redcap in front of him; he defers to the redcap (Kamali’s feeling overconfident) and the redcap chooses “anything goes.”

Kamali’s up first, barely. He fast-draws the Tommy Gun; and goes full-auto. Thirteen shots full-auto, three hits, and the redcap fails to dodge. Two hits to the vitals for 9 and 7 pi+, and 4 pi+ to the foot – the redcap goes berserk with rage. Apparently his DR was sufficient to the task. He all-out attacks, and he lunges in and tries to bite Kamali’s gun arm off. A potential hit, and a fatigue point is spent, and a retreating dodge . . . makes it by 5. Whew.

Telegraphic firearm attack against the redcap, and despite some very bad rolling, he hits twice for 5 and 7 points – he blows the redcap’s brains out, and he starts laughing even more. Redcap tries to grab each arm, and bite Kamali’s face. Grappling attack and a melee bite. More fatigue, more retreat, and a -3 to defend. So rolling vs 13 . . . and he dodges. Then the second grapple, and the bite – very expensive in fatigue, but no damage. He unloads at full auto again, and hits four times. Left thigh, chest, right shin, right upper arm. The redcap is taking wounds, but we’re wondering if he’s got Supernatural Durability.

The redcap slips underneath Kamali’s guard as a run-around attack, so his defenses on three attacks are each at -2. He still manages to dodge these three attacks. Kamali fires his last 11 shots into the guys legs, trying for the cripple. He hits three times, for 4, 3, and 6 pi+ . . . he’s bleeding and perforated and whatnot . . . but he’s still up and fighting.

Ooo, the redcap crits on a bite to the shoulder; and maybe another bite to the arm. It’s a bite vs the kevlar only (the trauma plate only hits the vitals), and the redcap has armor-piercing fangs. He takes 9 HP through the vest, and he’s biting him like a shark. Kamali tries to fast-draw his machete, but the -4 to DX from the grapple means he Readies it instead. Drat. The recap “worries” at Kamali, and he takes a point of damage.

Kamali tries to hit him with the machete to no avail. He gets bit again, and goes below 0 HP; he makes his HT roll, and then attacks the jaw again, and misses. He gets Om Nom Nom’d again, and barely stays conscious. Kamali does a fatigue point Mighty Blow, Telegraphic to the leg, trying to sever it. Crit! A natural 3. Maximum normal damage – 12 points of cutting damage to the leg. He severs the leg; the redcap stays standing on one freakin’ leg.

Kamali steps backwards, and the redcap hops forward, and bits more. This is getting crazed. Kamali goes for the other leg. All-Out Attack (Double), two mighty blows, for the other leg. He’s going to Black Knight the guy if he can. 9 HP to the leg with one hit, and both legs are now severed, but the redcap STILL grabs him, worries him, and gnaws some more. A few more points of damage. Kamali isn’t death checking yet, but he has to keep checking HT.

Kamali has to shake this guy loose – All-Out (Telegraphic, Determined) for the hit, fatigue for Mighty Blow, 7 HP to the jaw. And he goes down, he’s unconscious, and lets go.

We retrieve him and his weapons . . . and give him some much needed first aid. He’s not rolling for death, but he is checking KO. We do first aid.

Timothy vs. the Sidhe Biker Lady (Moyra)

They stand and choose weapons – armed. She divests many guns, knives, blades, and darn near all her clothing other than a corset. What is it with Timothy and hot faerie women? I mean, really. They agree to fight until one combatant can’t fight anymore. Timothy stands with a knife, she picks knives herself.

So it’s to be a knife fight . . . and she opens by Evaluating. Timothy draws a pistol and shoots at her. She parries the bullets back at him. 

“You cheated.” The bullets slam into his trauma plate.

“I didn’t cheat. The deal was armed, not knives.”

She attacks his trigger finger, and slices off his trigger finger and through the gun. Yow. Timothy readies his knives.

He gets hit for 115 points of double knockback, knocking him back 23 yards (!!) dumping him into the train track, which ends the fight.

We have a bit of a conversation over expectations. Richard legit thought he was obeying the letter of the law – “armed” to include guns. GM overruled that, said it was cheating. We moved on.

Amos vs Three-Tailed Kitsune

The kitsune is an in-betweener; Amos crits his role. They don’t like to fight – this particular kitsune is aligned with the storms. Amos addresses him in his own language. “I’m sure neither of us want to fight.” Kitsune agrees. “This is a contest, where one of us has to win, lose or surrender. Shall we play a game?”

“Do you play go?

Alas, no. “Do you play chess?”

Yes, sigh. I play that Dutch game. But they eventually they decide to play . . . Dungeons and Dragons. The Kitsune pulls out a character sheet.

Amos invites Sir Kendrick and Carl to play as well. “What sort of game is this?” says Sir Kendrick.

They decide that whomever has the most fun wins. Four hours later . . .

“I’m going to use my rod of rulership,” says Sir Kendrick. “Doth that smite the dragon?” “Alas, it is not a silvered weapon.”

Sir Kendrick admits that he had fun, ceding the contest again. The kitsune didn’t have quite as much fun, but since it was the first time she’s played without being hit on by the other players or the DM, she agrees with the Knight that Amos won the contest.

So, thanks to a three-hour roleplaying challenge, we’re now ahead 3-1.

Kamali spent the last three hours in agony. Not from his wounds, but the humiliation. Three hours of watching our fates being decided by tournament DnD.

Lorenzo Werewolf vs the Ogre

Lorenzo faces off with the ogre. He’s looking to get revenge since Lorenzo killed his brother.

No, the little guy killed your brother – a ruse. Lorenzo crushes it, and the ogre is distracted hurling ogrish insults at Carl, which distracts him.

Lorezno takes advantage of this – All-Out Determined, Telegraphic, spear to the eye. And he hits for 1d+5 imp to the eye. Roll of 11 . . . x4 for brain. And the ogre is dead. That fast.

Equilibrium for the win.

And it’s 4-1 . . . we are now the victors, we think.

The Decision and the Aftermath

The Observers confer, and the lead observer approaches us.

“According to the rules, you have won. Any further misgivings The Children of the Storm may have are null and void. On the word of the High King, we are now protected. You may wish to avoid angering them again. Additionally, the Duke has requested that the Children leave his operating area. Rather forcefully. He’s known to not appreciate Unseelie in his territory.”

We look around – and the place has, without our knowledge, been packed floor to rafters with spectators.

Sir Kendrick shouts “Huzzah! No, um, I mean boo! We lost.”

There’s a very, very loud conversation between the biker gang and Sir Kendrick, who is extremely displeased his skills were used for such a dishonorable contest.

We patch ourselves up, and get to leave.

Kamali is still flabbergasted that his redcap foe picked up his own legs and rolled away, while Amos won his game by somehow having fun playing DnD. Cosmically unfair.

Lorenzo uses some sort of magical rapid-healing thing, and we spend plenty of time trying to force-heal Kamali, whose shoulder looks vaguely like hamburger. We head back to the orphanage. Kamali gets bandaged and dosed with painkillers. They keep working on Kamali; Gabe just suffers in silence until he gets first-aided and esoteric medicined, bringing him from “down 10” to “down 4.” So a nasty limp.

Amos asks Myriam permission to have the Kitsune come over to teach him to play go. “Um. No. Even if they could get past the wards. No.”

A motorcycle approaches outside. It’s Moyra, who holds up a finger. Kamali holds up a different finger.

Timothy goes outside. “Yeah. Come to rub it in?”

“The man you killed’s father wants his son’s ring.”

We say that we’ll trade the finger for the ring; she says “Hold out your hand.”

She pushes the finger to the stump, casts a spell, and re-attaches it. We give back the ring. “We got no beef, right?”

“Not on my part. I could  have killed you a dozen times.”

Kamali: “So what’s your number?”

Moyra: “Out of your league. Don’t let the bard sing in public anymore. And you might want to get his powers trained up. Otherwise you’ll be attracting fae left and right; you’ve been established as players now. You don’t understand. He’s a bard. A real one.  He casts spells with his songs.”

Lorenzo: “No I don’t!”

Moyra: “Yes, you do. You need to find someone to train him, and you need to find it yesterday.”

Lorenzo is in denial he’s a wizard; we’re trying to convince him otherwise, but it’s clearly going to be a long slog.

Moyra: “There’s been exactly one bard in the past century – and that’s Lorenzo. The previous bard is quite dead, and has been – a Scotsman: Lindsey Kinnaird.”

Session 8 Commentary (Christopher):

First, let me list my sins – they were a few. I’ve had some personal stuff going on lately and it’s been distracting as heck. That said. No excuse.
This session I was a little all over with the rules. I forgot some stuff on damage, Retreats, and in one case how a given mechanic I *wrote* worked.

Bleh. I also did a very poor job of explaining the rules of the duels to the players. This caused a few hiccups and my players were very graceful inaccepting the ruling I gave at the time.

Ok. Thoughts on the game stuff as it proceeded. The players were outright unhappy at times when dealing with their opponents. I warned them when the campaign began I would be pulling no punches and despite magic and the divine existing coming back from the dead is rare to impossible. Now, it’s TOTALLY true that the Children of the Storm were the aggressors here. That’s just fact. They wanted the sword Gabe had and when they realized Lorenzo was a true bard they wanted him too.

Gabe could have probably given up the sword at that point and remained meek. That didn’t happen. Instead they got into a fight they could win and eventually ended up with a fight they  couldn’t win. They made mistake after mistake and ended up with something that was just too big to deal with – but they still dealt with it and they came out of it more or less unscathed. (Note: This is not a condemnation of the players themselves – they full on RPed their characters to the hilt in just about every case and they created player-driven story arcs that most GMs can only dream of coming up with on their own.) Before they had a chance to get out – but now the other ceteri know who they are and they are “players” in the game.

Overall, I loved the interactions between some of the duelists (playing Sir Kendrick was a BLAST as a GM) and there was a lot of subtle stuff going on that may not have scanned to the players at the time. The DnD “duel” was particularly amusing. Lorenzo one-shoting the ogre and Kamali just being . . . badass fighting a redcap in hand to hand was crazy. I’m sure Tim wasn’t happen about what happened on his end . . . but maybe he should look a little closer. After all, Moyra could have just killed him with the amount of magic she tossed out. But didn’t. Finally, Gabe lost the duel, but won it at the same time. As Doug notes “sportsmanship” for the win. Sir Kendrick could be a potential resource in the future.

Again. Fun. All of it. Now for the last time skip updates. Should be interesting. We’ll see what happens.

Session 8 Soundtrack:

Eminence Front” by The Who (opening song)
Blaze of Glory” by Jon Bon Jovi
Shoot Me Again” by Metallica
Ali in the Jungle” by The Hours
Feeling Good” by Nina Simone (closing song)

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