Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Against the Cult of Nergal

Against the Cult of Nergal is an actual play from the playtest phase of City of Judas, by Richard Sardinas.
See the original post on G+ here.

Aberlardus – The barber indebted to Geilar for saving his life. Played by Fred.
Eban – The Sorcerer. Hungry for magical power. Played by Adrian.
Geilar – The Raider. A Vandal prince who stole the ring of the King of Corsica. Played by Ray.

We started the game in media-res. The caravan the characters were escorting was attacked by what appear to be indigenous nomads. The sorcerer acts first, and with some foresight, by creating a stone barrier around one of the nomads who is trapped there. Geilar charges a large concentration of raiders with his gang, but is repulsed. Geilar took the move Last Stand so elects to face the enemy force by himself on one flank, while the rest of the group attempts to attack the other flank. Aberlardus goes to Geilar’s aide. With a few good rolls the nomads are beaten back and retreat. The character’s have a prisoner.
The caravan master, Calix of Damascus, tells the characters that his rare beetles (a delicacy around these parts) have been stolen, but even worse the nomads kidnapped his daughter. He beseeches the characters to go find her. The characters agree for a fee then interrogate the prisoner. The raider starts torturing him, allowing Eban to manipulate the captive. The nomad talks saying they took her to an abandoned barn and adds cryptically that “She is to be give to the One that rises from Meslam”.
The captured raider leads the group to the barn. The nomad claims that they have taken the girl into the tunnels under it. Eban casts the light spell on the captive. They go into the tunnel and after a long walk enter a large room where the captive is shot in the chest and killed by 2 other raiders. They run, but the sorcerer casts a fire spell blocking the way. One of the raider knocks the other one into the fire, and he is subsequently killed by Geilar’s gang. Since it’s difficult to carry a glowing body Geiler decides to cut the body to pieces and hands out body parts to the group to use as torches. (I added a level of taint here because this was pretty gruesome and the players were treating the captive pretty callously.) Eban took the create fire, but not the control fire spell, so the fire can’t be stopped. He had to cast Stone Spell to turn the burning stones away from the tunnel. They continue and emerge from a trap door into a house.
The house is empty right now. Eventually the players leave (Geilar’s gang stays behind in the house waiting for the sign) and poke around town, finding a few things. The name of the town is Karak and there are several issues going on. Animal pit fights, infighting amongst the ruling houses, and of course mysterious disappearances. The characters ignore the pit fights and go directly to the militia and bully help from them by showing them the glowing body parts, claiming they are from some weird cult. The militia captain admits he has heard rumors that the cult of Nergal has been up to no good, but that cult has been dead for hundreds of years. We assumed that most of the inhabitants are Christian with a few Judiasts here and there. With amazing perception rolls they figure out that everything points to one of the weakest noble families.

They convince the militia to give them authority to search the family’s compound. While there they use perception moves to find a secret doorway. Once inside they come to a large room with some demonic statue at one end. There are body parts all over the place (all those disappeared people) and 3 masked nomads. Spirit rolls are made, but the barber gets a minimum success; he takes the -1 spirit and we move on. The nomads attack the characters. Abelardus jumps to block the attackers to prevent harm befalling Geilar, and is badly wounded (received the unstable condition). A fight ensues, with 1 of the nomads getting killed and the rest escaping. Geiller gives the signal, the sorcerer causes the body parts to flash, and his gang is on its way. One of the nomads ends up killing several of the militia guards and then scales the walls of the compound like a spider. The other nomad is killed by Geiler’s gang. The killing of the guards causes the family to escape and a chase ensues.
They reach the outskirts of the city and Eban causes the groundsunder the family head to rumble and they all fall. The group catches up to them and slaughters most of the family except one of the servants who agrees to take them to the Temple of Nergal.
The characters arrive at the ruined temple and come up on a ceremony. The sorcerer can tell that the ceremony is charged with magic energies. Geiler tells Eban to prepare the Stone Spell to collapse the temple. The characters charge in, and with crazy rolls manage to push back the cultists who outnumber them. Abelardus then runs up and grabs the girl, but he is hit by the high priest (who is the surviving nomad from the shrine encounter in the city). He rolls over the altar with the girl and they escape. The rest of the group pulls back, and Eban causes the temple to collapse on all the cultists killing them.
The characters head back and collect their reward.
The final scene shows the blood of all the dead cultists running to the altar. It then opens and two large Hell Knights step through. The end.