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Continued from Part I.

Our six adventurers arrived in Altdorf yesterday and have agreed to accompany one of their own to Bogenhafen as soon as possible. Fortunately, Johann ran into an old friend Josef last night, who took the adventurers to the Boatman Inn. Over drinks, he informed them that he plans to ship some Reikland wine at Bogenhafen’s upcoming Schaffenfest. The adventurers conferred (and the players note the convenience of all this) and agree to accompany him on his boat.

That morning, Josef has left to make preparations for the trip, so the adventurers decided to follow up on the Prince’s call for adventurers. On their way to the palace, they passed through a busy plaza, where Kirsten sensed that they were being approached. Turning, the group saw two men, one who looked directly at Johann and made a strange gesture with his hands, while the other looked around the plaza anxiously. Johann mimicked him, but he suddenly became very agitated, mimicking Johann in turn. The two went at this for a few moments, until suddenly the two men, apparently relieved, rushed over to a stocky man standing in a doorway and disappeared inside the house. The adventurers pursued the men only to find them dead and the stocky man gone by the time they get into the house. They had no valuables, but the adventurers note that both had a tattoo of a purple hand.

After learning that the Prince has already left Altdorf, the adventurers explored the city for the rest of the day and returned to the Boatman Inn to meet up with Josef. He had been in the midst of sharing a couple rumors with them when a “tall, gaunt character” barged into the inn. The man ordered a drink, chased away some patrons, and sat morosely in the far corner of the dining room. Recalling the two men from earlier, Johann became nervous, and his companions agreed it was time to retire to their rooms.

However, a young noble who had been frolicking at the bar with his buddy, suddenly vomited all over Wanda. The two thought this hilarious and proceeded to drink and spit beer on all of the adventurers. Werner, usually slow to infuriate, had had enough and began to grapple with one of the nobles, at which point the morose figure in the corner interceded, suggesting that Werner stand down. The nobles continued to giggle, but the rest of the dining room was completely silent. While Werner stared icily at the gaunt man, Wanda began to cast a Sleep spell on him.

The Narrator kind of wanted to make things tough early on for the adventurers, but already set a high Resistance for nearly the same action in the previous game. Besides, he figured the adventurers would get into plenty of trouble anyway once this fellow passed out, so he set the Resistance to 14 (Normal) and rolled a 15. Wanda rolled a 3 against Sleep 5W, a Major Victory.

The gaunt man collapsed on the ground, snoring, and suddenly the two nobles behind him seemed drowsy as well. The adventurers had no problem tossing them from the inn. The other patrons cheered, and the adventurers learned that the gaunt man was a protagonist, hired to pick fights for the pleasure of those who can pay for that kind of amusement.

Josef finally arrived and proclaimed that it was time for them to depart. The adventurers were taken aback, and he explained that the town watch was looking for them as suspects in the murder of two nobles. Players laugh. The adventurers quietly followed Josef to his barge.

The next morning, Kirsten noticed a group of roadwardens following the barge. The adventurers began to panic, but Harbull responded cheerily to the seemingly friendly greeting from the roadwarden’s captain. They learned again of the murders they supposedly committed and more importantly of bandits reported further up the river. Harbull thanked the roadwardens, and they moved on.

As the barge arrived in Weissbruk, a waystop between Bogenhafen and Altdorf, Kirsten noticed a “shadowy, travel-stained character” of an inn, the same stocky man who killed the two men in Altdorf. Players immediately started connecting him to the murder of the nobles and wondered why someone was trying to “frame” them repeatedly. Nobody pursued him, but Harbull and Malvar inquired after him in the inn, learning that he is a bounty hunter who arrived the night before. The adventurers determined it was unsafe to stay in Weissburk and implored Josef to leave immediately. He is resistant.

Johann took the lead on this, trying to use Boatman 1W to urge his professional comrade. Considering this a stretch, the Narrator assessed a -6 penalty, but Harbull first attempted to Augment by using Affable Conversationalist 13. The Narrator didn’t see any reason to make this a particularly tough obstacle, so set the Resistance at 14. Harbull rolled a 15 to Josef’s 4, a Minor Defeat. Johann proceeded anyway, rolling a 17 to another 4 for Josef, resulting in another Minor Defeat.

Josef remained adamant that they would not leave tonight. He claimed that Weissbruk locals are notorious for gossip-mongering and found it preposterous that Johann could think that anybody would be after him. The adventurers relented but agreed to take guard shifts on the barge.

The Narrator determined that the impending attack would take place during Kirsten’s shift. Having set the Resistance at 14 (Normal), he rolled a 1 for Kirsten and an 11 for her opponent, resulting in a Minor Victory.

During Kirsten’s watch, she noticed figures moving in the shadows on shore and managed to alert her companions just as a crossbow bolt lodged into the barge’s hull. Another bolt thudded at her feet, and she noticed two figures rushing the other end of the barge with large pots in hand.

We have another Group Simple Contest, but the players have learned now to Augment when possible rather than try to gang up on a single assailant. Johann and Werner rushed the two pot-bearers, hoping to knock them into the water, while Wanda tries Augment by making them drowsy. The pot-bearers themselves were trying to pour burning oil on the boat, creating a set of Graduated Goals for the contest. The Narrator saw no reason to make this contest particularly difficult, so set the Resistance at 14. Wanda rolled a 14 to the thugs’ 1, resulting in a Minor Defeat for her Augment. Johann uses his Athleticism 17 and rolls a 12 to his thug’s 10, resulting in -1 for his side. Werner uses Brawling 13 and rolls a 16 to his thug’s 4, resulting in a cumulative -3, a Major Defeat!

Meanwhile, Harbull aimed his sling at the crossbow shooters, whom he can see with his halfling night vision. One shooter was shooting back at him, so we conducted a Simple Contest to see who could take the other one out first. Harbull rolled a 20, while his opponent rolled a 3: another Major Defeat!

Finally, Kirsten tried to Augment Josef’s attempt to unmoor the barge by using her Thief 5W skills to untie the rope, while Malvar made the argument that in all his wandering, he’d seen boats set off time and again, so he can Augment with Wanderlust 13. Meanwhile, a second crossbow shooter tries to take down Josef, so this is a Simple Contest between Josef and his assailant from shore. Both attempts to Augment are deemed Stretches. Kirsten rolled a 17 against the Narrator’s 18, a Minor Victory providing Josef with a +6. Malvar rolled a 5 against the Narrator’s 7: a Marginal Victory, so Josef now has a +9. The Narrator assumes he’s got Boatsman at Johann’s Ability Rating (1W) and rolls a 17 against the thug’s 11, a Marginal Defeat. So here’s what happened...

Wanda tried to slow the oncoming thugs with a sleep spell, but they were too far away. Johann and Werner crashed into the thugs but both got burned by the hot oil (-3 Hurt). Screaming in pain, they let the thugs past, and the barge went up in flames. Harbull collapsed to the deck, hit by a crossbow bolt; his assailant was now advancing on the boat. Kirsten and Malwar succeeded in detaching the barge from its mooring, but Josef was hit by a crossbow bolt just as he was pushing off. The barge burning all around them, and four thugs closing in all around, things were looking grim for our adventurers. One of the thugs with a crossbow was the bounty hunter, and he called out to his accomplices, ordering them to attack Johann.

There were now two things at stake: Johann’s life and the boat. The adventurers agree to split into two groups and perform a Group Simple Contest for each. Johann, Wanda, Werner, and Harbull each took on a thug, while Kirsten, Josef, and Malvar tried to put out the fire. Figuring it was time to ease up a bit, the Narrator set all Resistances at 8 (Low). Using Sword 17 but with a -3 penalty (burned), Johann rolled a 20 against his opponent’s 7, resulting in -3 for his cause. Wanda tried to keep another thug off Johan with her Dagger 13, rolling a 3 against his 3--a tie! Werner stuck with fisticuffs, using Brawling 13 at -3 due to his burns; he rolled an 11 against his thug’s 19, a Marginal Victory for +1. Finally, Harbull tried his slingshot again against the final thug but at a -6 penalty because he was stuck with a crossbow bolt; he rolled a 14 against the thug’s 10, a Marginal Defeat for -1. In the end, a Major Defeat for Johann!

Meanwhile, Kirsten didn’t have any good ideas about how to help put out the fire, so rolled against the default Ability Rating of 6. She got a 16 versus the Narrator’s 10, a Marginal Defeat and -1 for the boat’s cause. Malvar proclaimed his Elven nimbleness allowed him to dart unscathed directly amongst the flames with buckets of water. This sounded creative but not terribly effective, and so was ruled a Stretch. He rolled an 18 versus the Narrator’s 10, another Marginal Defeat (-1), and the boat sinks further. Finally, Josef’s Boatsman 1W had a chance; he rolled a 19 against the Narrator’s 15 for Minor Victory, canceling out his helpers’ ineptitude.

With no help from Kirsten and Malvar, Josef barely contained the fire; it still raged but at least wasn’t spreading. Meanwhile, Werner pummeled the thug nearest him, keeping him off Johann. Wanda’s dagger spun through the air, slowing but not stopping another thug as he boarded the barge. Harbull’s slingshot fired aimlessly through the air as he staggered from his crossbow wound. Johann reached for his sword to fend off his assailants, but, coated in seething oil, it burned his hand and he was unable to defend against a nearby thug’s sword, which cut deep into his left thigh. Meanwhile, the bounty hunter, uncontested by any of Johann’s allies, boarded the barge and held his sword to Johann’s throat.

The players were looking notably dejected at this point. The Narrator sought a way out that didn’t dilute this defeat but still kept some hope alive for the adventurers.

The bounty hunter turned to the rest of the adventurers, proclaiming “Kastor’s” life as his and saying he had no quarrel with anyone else on the barge. If they let him finish his job and leave unharmed, he would let them live.

The players fumbled with their handouts and pulled out the inheritance note. Wanda cried out that Johann was not Kastor, but the bounty hunter seemed unwilling to believe this “likely” story.

Seeing a ray of hope, the players agreed that convincing this bounty hunter of Johann’s true identity was their best approach for now. Wanda proposed that she put the bounty hunter to sleep while everyone else distracts him with their discussion. Harbull volunteered to bring on his Affable Conversationalist, but the Narrator ruled this a Stretch given the context. No matter what the players would come up with, the Narrator decided to make the Resistance on this one a 6 (Very Low); the players could use a win. Finally, Wanda opted to use Blather 13 to mystify the bounty hunter with jargon about the legal ramifications of false inheritances and how it was impossible for Johann to be Kastor. The Narrator, himself slightly confused, went along with this. Wanda rolled a 6 to the Narrator’s 16: a Minor Victory!

Wanda plastered the bounty hunter with a barrage of jargon regarding Johann’s rights as a twin, inheritance laws from the Ancient Empire to the present day, the documentation required to access such inheritances, and how it was therefore impossible for Johann to be Kastor. Bewildered, the bounty hunter looked down pityingly at Johann and withdrew his sword. He asked where Kastor was and seemed relieved to hear that Kastor was already dead. “Then my work here is done,” he proclaimed and departed the barge. Malvar beseeched the man to explain why he was after Kastor in the first place, but he warned Malvar not to “press his luck.” Relieved to be alive, the adventurers let him go without further question.

Josef meanwhile had managed to put the fire out, revealing only minor damage to the barge. He claimed to be able to fix it within the next day or so, during which the adventurers can recuperate.

Continued in Part III.
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