Monday, 31 October 2011

"The horror...": Cthulhu gaming in Vietnam

You're not in Dunwich anymore...
Still labouring away at my book on forex trading and won't really be getting behind the GM's screen again until that has been finished! I'm almost a month over the deadline date for the book, so really need to get my skates on.

My group's ruminations about playing the Tatters of the King campaign from Chaosium has got me thinking about running some more Cthulhu of my own once that manuscript has been finished. At the moment, my penchant lies more towards Mythos adventures in non-traditional settings, with 1960s Vietnam in the frame.

Secondly, I'm planning on using Savage Worlds rather than Basic Roleplaying as the rules system for the game. This would involve a cross-over between, say, Realms of Cthulhu and Tour of Darkness. I've only got so much room in my head for gaming rules these days, and as far as RPGs are concerned, it is Pathfinder/D20, BRP/RuneQuest, and Savage Worlds. Luckily these are all fairly generic and can be ported across a range of different genres.

The other thing I like about running Cthulhu is that it is ideally suited to the sort of mini-campaign I enjoy running - namely no more than three to six sessions, and certainly less than 20 hours of play time. Thus, you need a system where it is relatively easy to generate characters and to drop PCs into the gaming milieu, but at the same time is dangerous enough that the party can all die horribly and convincingly at the end! In this case, I'm hoping the entire plot cycle will cover no more than four sessions.

Still some way to go to get to Seasoned...
The background to the campaign is fairly generic: the PCs are all part of a single squad, itself part of a platoon in the I Corps area of operations in South Vietnam in 1966. They are mostly fresh-faced rookies (Novice level - see right), just arrived in-country unless any players take any Edges to earn them veteran status. Their unit is assigned to the A Shau Valley, up near the border with Laos, as part of the 1st Cavalry Brigade. The area is important because it is a conduit for supplies and North Vietnamese troops coming down the Ho Chi Minh trail, which debouches into the South right about where the 1st Cav area of operations sits.

I'm going to allow players to buy Edges and Hindrances from both Tour of Darkness (e.g. Bullet Magnet, Grizzled, Thumper King) and Realms of Cthulhu (e.g. Dark Secret, Milquetoast, Unusual Lineage). I will probably also add the grity damage and gritty sanity rules from RoC, just to make it that bit darker for the grunts. That means no using bennies to make Soak rolls, which should be interesting.

This should be interesting, as it takes the game away from the usual civilized, developed world setting, and drops it straight into the mosquito-infested foothills of Vietnam, with the added complication of a shooting war going on as well. The emphasis is less on investigation and saving the world and more on just getting out alive. The PCs are equipped with state-of-the-art military hardware and can call on the support of the most powerful army and air force in the world, but will that be enough to keep them alive?

I also want to use miniatures for this game, so part of the delay in getting it out will be based on the speed at which I can paint...

What lies dreaming in the jungles of South Vietnam?

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Carrion Crown Episode #4: Party 3, Harrowstone 0

We finally got back into the swing of things with Pathfinder last night, after a short hiatus. As we left things, our colleague Doctor Pruce, a half-crazed alchemist, had seemingly been slain by the spectre of the Charlatan, a deceased con man haunting the ruins of Harrowstone prison near the hamlet of Ravengro. The Charlatan had apparently hijacked an attempt by the cleric Veneticus to Cure Light Wounds on the fallen Pruce, using the cleric to channel negative energy into the good doctor, and kill him on the spot (Pruce was already badly injured in a fight with another ghost, the Executioner).

We began the session in the middle of a battle with the Charlatan, who had chosen to manifest and fought with the paladin of Iomedae, Sir Erudil. Meanwhile, the spectre of Pruce rose to attack Veneticus. In an act of desperation, Veneticus hit the ghost of Pruce with his mace, only to realise that in fact it was Pruce himself, healed by the Charlatan, but then disguised as a ghost via an illusion spell. Down went Pruce again!

Brevan gets a bead on the Charlatan
The Charlatan, however, was dispatched shortly afterwards by a magic ghost touch arrow shot by the ranger Brevan, and Pruce was restored with healing magics. The adventurers returned to town to rest up and restore spells, leaving Pruce to continue to explore the prison on his own (his player was away in Manchester).

Further research was conducted into the books of the recently deceased Professor Lorrimer, but little new was learned about the ghosts of Harrowstone. Nicodemus tried to use the spellbook of the Splatterman to hit out at the ghost, possibly by removing his name from its pages, but it proved to no avail. The necromancer ignored Veneticus' suggestion that the cursed tome by tossed into the fire. It was decided that the ghosts would probaby still need to be physically confronted, as similar efforts with the Charlatan's holy symbols had also failed.

Can you smell something burning?
Returning to the ruined prison, the adventurers now descended into the dungeon level, having cleared out the other two levels. Our first encounter was with some haunts, namely two creatures that rose out of a flooded section of the dungeon. After these were dealt with, the party fought some flaming skeletons which were able to do some considerable damage by simply standing in proximity to the party (although they also had active attacks). Channelling from Veneticus and Nicodemus inflicted substantial damage on the undead), and Sir Erudil is coming into his own with his Lucerne hammer, making him a lethal opponent.

Our first serious encounter of the night was with a headless flaming skeletion which was again able to inflict heavy proximity burn damage, plus was handing out some fairly serious damage with its Power Attack. This was the first time Erudil was reduced to zero hit points (although still standing). The monster was, however, taken down after Veneticus compelled it to retreat and then Erudil smashed it with his hammer on the opportunity attack, his last action before blacking out. This encounter forced the party to return to Ravengro to rest up.

It is becoming obvious that each night the Splatterman is possessing a villager and writing another letter of Vasoria's name on the monument in the town, and that we are living on borrowed time. Exactly what happens when he completes her name is anyone's guess, but it seems that Vasoria is the only thing preventing the ghosts of Harrowstone from escaping completely.

Who's next for the chop, eh?
Returning to the ruins, we continued to explore, and next ran into another of the main cabal of ghosts, the Lopper. He proved singularly hard to defeat, inflicting severe damage on the valiant Sir Erudil, who again went toe-to-toe with the ghost, wielding its hatchet (a +1 hand axe) in an effort to destroy it. We were hard-pressed on this one - with Sir Erudil at one stage urging retreat. Braven and Veneticus buffed the paladin using Cure Light Wounds and our magic wand to keep him in the fight, and the Lopper was finally brought down.

At this point in the evening we realised the clocks were going back in the UK, as British Summer Time ended, and that we technically had an EXTRA HOUR TO GAME! We carried on with our exploration, and duly encountered the Mosswater Marauder, the fourth of the cabal of spectres were are looking to banish. He was the ghost of a dwarf, supported with three flying skulls that screamed blue murder and quite unnerved poor Brevan, who proceeded to attack - and miss - Nicodemus while the necromancer remained totally oblivious to the ranger. Brevan then came to his senses! The Mosswater Marauder proved somewhat easier to take down than the Lopper, with Veneticus destroying all his flying skulls using channelling, and indirectly inflicting 15 hit points on the ghost. Veneticus now has a magic mace +1 for his troubles, which should make future encounters with spectres a little easier.

We ended the game with the tired party trekking back to Ravengro to level up to third (we were one XP short of third, and there was talk of finding a rat to stamp on, but the GM was kind), painfully aware that we still have to face down the Splatterman!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Carrion Crown Episode #3: The Demise of Herr Doctor Pruce

We left our heroes in the middle of the haunted Harrowstone prison, or what was left of it after it was destroyed by fire five decades earlier. Now, it is haunted by ghosts seeking to break out of the protective wards that have held them in check, wards it seems that have been weakened by a secret cabal of necromancers called The Whispering Way.

"You can trust me - I'm a doctor."
Early in the session our party ran into Doctor Victor Pruce, an Alchemist researching the nature of spirits. Pruce was clearly quite mad, and had little regard for his personal safety, for example frequently accompanying the paladin, Sir Erudil, in perilous situations.

We spent the session exploring those areas of the ground floor of the prison still unknown to us. Nicodemus banished a haunt from the infirmary using his Turn Undead ability to good effect. We found some cots for infants in the infirmary, which seemed out of place.

We also explored the wing of the ground floor overlooking the nearby Lake Bicsz, which had seemingly collapsed, and it was here that we were attacked by a haunted forge, where Sir Erudil received a severe toasting from its tongue of flame attack. He was duly restored to health by Veneticus. We also encountered some flying skulls that emerged from the hole in the ground which looks to lead to the lower levels. We destroyed these two - Erudil dispatched two in a goodly fury, while Pruce took care of the other.

Worryingly, Pruce continued to place himself in harm's way.

The party retired to Ravengor to rest - and level up - before continuing the exploration of Harrowstone prison. This time it was decided to take a look at the upper floor, accessed via a stairwell. We were relatively happy that we had cleared the ground floor out.

Poop, poop, parp!
The upper floor looked to have been a detention block, with numerous skeletal remains in the cells. We stumbled on what looked like the skeleton of the Charlatan, one of the mega bads that is now haunting the place. Sir Erudil and Nicodemus began to smash some of the skulls, but before they could finish, a ghostly piping announced the arrival of the Piper, accompanied by two large stirges and a posse of skeletons from the cell block. An epic battle ensued, but the piper was weakened by Nicodemus, playing his pipe and casting a Cure Light Wounds on him. Magic arrows from the ranger Braven helped him on his way.

While this was going on, Erudil and Veneticus were busy battling the stirges and skeletons. Veneticus was badly wounded, losing three CON points and having to expend a charge from his Wand of Restoration.

Pruce decided that we ought to seek to communicate with the Charlatan using a ouija board. He told us the warden's bade of office, which we need to subdue the lesser haunts, is in the dungeons. He admitted the holy symbols now in Veneticus' possession are his weakness. The Charlatan also managed to possess Pruce, levitating him into the air and causing him to vomit black blood. We tried to use the ghost trap to catch the Charlatan, but in vain. Pouring holy water on his symbols, and channeling godly energy into them also seems not to have worked.

Don't lose your head...
Proceeding onto the balcony, we encounted the scythe-wielding Executioner, another haunt. This fight turned against us for a while, with Pruce taking a critical hit, felling him and leaving him at negative seven (again, the good doctor hurled himself into the fray, although his leather coat was not up to the task). With the Executioner destroyed, Veneticus sought to restore Pruce with a Cure Light Wounds, but the ghost of the Charlatan intervened, turning the spell into an inflict wounds casting, and slaying the unconscious Pruce. At this point, the Charlatan chose to manifest...

Unfortunately, I'm not going to make the next session as I will be in Portugal. Veneticus is down to only one channeling charge, plus he has used a single Cure Light Wounds, swapped in for Detect Evil. This still leaves him with Hide From Undead, Summon Moster Level 1, and Protection From Chaos (his domain spell). He has also yet to use his other power which will enhance team AC by +2 in a 20ft radius, which is a daily. He still has all five uses of Touch of Law, for what they're worth. Let's hope we don't lose anyone else, eh?

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Carrion Crown Episode #2: It all goes Scooby Doo

Is that paint?
Back to the mysterious little village of Ravengro on Friday evening for the next part of the current Pathfinder campaign. It was time for the party to find out who the mysterious graffiti artist was who had defaced a monument to the dead of Harrowstone jail. We were already fairly suspicious of a local farmer, Gilbert, having tracked bloody foot prints back to his abode. We managed to blag (British urban slang - to gain entry, usually to a restricted area) our way into his house, and discovered bloody clothes on the premises. Gilbert seemed surprised and confused, but we collared (British urban slang - to detain or keep from proceeding) him anyway and took him off to the town gaol. It looks as if the blood he used to paint a 'V' sign on the monument came from some chickens he slaughtered.

Veneticus reluctantly agreed that it was time to take a closer look at Professor Lorrimer's trunk of tomes, but despite the enthusiasm of the necromancer Nicodemus Eldritch, who wanted to remove the books to study in private, Veneticus insisted they only be examined with at least one other present, and then returned to the trunk. Still not too sure about Nicodemus, and whose side he's really on!

Ex Libris Professor Lorrimer
Apart from a strange box that looked like it required some kind of triangular key, there was a book called Serving Your Hunger, which seemed to be a treatise on cannibalism, and was bound in human skin, and another called Umbral Leaves. We discovered from these that there were some fairly hefty criminals resident at Harrowstone when it burned down, including The Lopper, the Mosswater Marauder, The Piper and the Splatterman. It looks as if our phantom graffiti artist is the ghost of the Splatterman, and is possessing villagers. It also seems as if he likes to torment victims before he kills them, for example by painting their name on a monument.

Veneticus stayed the night in the village gaol in an effort to study Gilbert in his cell, and saw the man sleep walk, and try to escape from his confinement, before returning to his pallet. This further reinforces the theory that the phantom of the Splatterman intends to use the villagers as its tools.

In the morning, the letters VE had been painted in blood on the monument. Another villager was found to be the perpertrator, but was obviously again an innocent victim. It also looks as if the Splatterman is singling out Veneticus for his attention.  Let him come!

During this session the party questioned some gypsy children they overhead singing a song about the Lopper. Although questioned politely, they publicly insulted the characters, and more importantly, the authority of the church. Veneticus threw stones at the little brats in an effort to instil some degree of respect for authority in them, but this seems to have shocked his less Lawful comrades. Honestly! If nobody is prepared to stand up for the institutions that keep the very fabric of society from unravelling, especially in a land such as this where the forces of Chaos stand ready at every quarter, what will become of us all? The forces of evil can win over their followers at an early age unless they are taught to respect legitimate authority. Weakness will be our undoing.

We have learned that the Harrowstone prison burned down because prisoners rioted and took over the dungeon level. The warden used a deadfall to seal the dungeons, and the fire was deliberately started when it looked like the prisoners might still escape.

Harrowstone prison - yikes Shaggy!
We finally plucked up our courage to investigate the ruins of the prison and have begun exploring the upper level. We have encountered a couple of haunts and some giant spiders. One of the haunts was the wife of the warden, and we have learned from her that Professor Lorrimer was killed by a member of the necromantic cabal, the Whispering Way, and that it was they who removed the warden's ghost, which was keeping the evil spirits from escaping. They have also damaged the warding runes which kept the evil within the ruins, and now its influence is being felt further afield. We also know that if we can find the warden's badge of office, we can banish many of the lesser spirits.

In a secret room, we have found objects of importance to the five key prisoners, including a hand axe, a collection of holy symbols, a flute, a hammer and a spell book. The ghost Vasoria thinks these will aid us in defeating the phantoms.

NB: I'm still getting my head around playing a cleric at the moment. Veneticus has used two of his daily channels, one Touch of Law, and his daily Deflection Aura. He's also mistakenly used his domain spell, Protection from Chaos, against a non-Chaotic haunt, and has switched out his Summon Monster for a Cure Light Wounds on Sir Erudil, who was wounded in the fight with the spiders. The Light spell has been coming in useful as well...

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Ambush Alley: first playtest

With all the fuss being created in the wargames community with the launch of Force on Force in April, I've been swotting up on the rules for Ambush Alley this week. AA was really the predecessor of FoF, and while FoF has a fairly broad coverage in terms of post-1945 conflicts, AA is focused heavily on urban combat in the contemporary Middle East, particularly Iraq.

I chose one of the scenarios from the back of the AA book to give it a test drive this weekend The key was to get a feel for the game, and whether this was something Sebastian and I could play in the future. The mission sees three US Marine fire teams led by a squad leader, travelling in an APC with a sniper team. The two man sniper team has to establish itself in a building to provide fire support to a battle happening off the table, while the Marines provide security.

The game reminds me a little of Savage Worlds, in that troops are rated according to Training and Morale using different dice. Hence, the Marines were using d10s while the insurgents were largely using d6s with the odd d8 leader. It is therefore possible for the Marines to be heavily outnumbered, but still hold their own, as most activities require a target number of 4 to succeed. To hit a target, you need 4s, for example.

The initiative seems to lie very much with the Marines, and it is up to the insurgents to try to interrupt their mission and play merry hall with them. I think Sebastian found it a bit frustrating as a first game, as he surprisingly opted to play the insurgents, and while this gave him theoretically unlimited reinforcements, his lack of heavy firepower meant that the US APC became a nut he could not crack. In the whole game, he only hit it once with a rocket-propelled grenade.

The game started well for me, with the armoured car speeding to its destination. In the picture you can see the entire table, with the APC already making progress towards the target building in the top right corner of the table. We drew a Fog of War card at the start of the game, that revealed there was a notorious insurgent leader on site who would also need to be eliminated before the Marines withdrew. Luckily, he popped up on the roof of a building early on and was shot by the .50 calibre MG mounted on the APC.

The unit reached its destination building and took up position, with the sniper team moving inside. This is where I made the beginner's error of not putting my fireteams on Overwatch, something that is critical in AA. It allows you to fire on insurgents who pop up and try to attack your men. Consequently, Sebastian got the drop on my teams and some amazing early dice rolling saw five Marines wounded. It began to look like the Americans were in trouble.

Here you can see the situation as it stood when I bungled. One fire team is already inside the building, one has taken cover behind a wall on the north side of the plaza, and another with the NCO is against the wall on the south side. We did not occupy any other buildings overlooking the target - BIG MISTAKE!

I counteracted this by putting one fire team in the building on overwatch, laying down covering fire while the corporal on the ground collected up his wounded. But things got worse, with three more Marines taking wounds. They all had to be loaded into the back of the APC while the team in the building continued to strafe occupied buildings in the vicinity.

The Marines ARE pretty tough in this game - a typical fire team wears body armour and carries a grenade launcher and a Squad Assault Weapon (SAW) as back up firepower. They get 2d10 extra for the support weapons and 1d10 in defence for their body armour. Still, if the insurgents can lay down enough fire into a small area, people start getting hit.

Luckily Marines don't need to make morale checks very often. Things have to be going very badly wrong before they begin to lose it. I realised I would not be able to get 100% fire suppression on the enemy, particularly as more reinforcements were turning up all the time. They can make something called an Out of Contact move, which means if the Marines can't see them, they can move anywhere they like until they are seen. This allows the insurgent player to bring reserves up fairly quickly to where they can do the most damage.

I had to risk putting my sniper team on the roof while the overwatch team continued to provide cover and keep the surrounding roofs empty. The snipers completed their mission, but the spotter was KIA as they were coming off the roof, and the other sniper was hit and wounded trying to get from the building back to the APC. In addition, we had to draw another Fog of War card this turn, which saw a communications break down with HQ, forcing the team to stay put in the building for another turn. It was left to the final fire team to drag the wounded sniper with them as they exited the building.

This shot [right] shows another insurgent squad on the roof of the building we SHOULD HAVE OCCUPIED. The sniper team can be seen on the roof of the derelict target building (next to the die used to track how many turns they'd been up there). An overwatch team is also in the same building, blazing away at anything that moved.

The game ended with the Marines escaping in their vehicle. The insurgents lacked anything that could damage the APC at this stage in the game, and as it was lunchtime we decided to call it a day.

I have to say I really liked Ambush Alley. It seems overwhelming at first, because of some of the odd concepts, like interruption rolls, only being able to fire on units where you have line of sight to at least 50% of the members of the unit, and the ability of troops to zoom around the table in fairly quick order. But it does seem to do a good job of simulating modern urban combat, particularly in scenarios where trained regulars are battling guerrillas. I'd be interested to see how it fares with Vietnam, and I understand that a Vietnam War supplement called Ambush Valley is out imminently.

In some ways it also reminds me of Space Hulk, in that one side is trying to complete an objective, while the other is trying to stop them, and has unlimited reinforcements coming on-table. I think we had just about enough figures to cover all the insurgents - we only once reached a point where we were one man short. I particularly like the way the insurgent player can nominate 'hot spots' which spawn reinforcements, giving them effectively a number of random entry points, and the way the Marines can neutralise these. All in all, a really good game, and I'd be keen to play it again some time.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Carrion Crown, Episode #1: Four go to Ravengro

The summer is drawing to a close, the leaves here in Sussex are turning brown, and it is time to return to the gaming table and play some Pathfinder. This time of year is usually the time to start a new campaign for our group - things seem to get de-railed during the longer summer break as gaming opportunities get a bit fragmented. This year, the steam has gone out of our 13th level Kingmaker game with Ric's departure for Manchester. The addition of new player Alex has added impetus to the decision to kick start a new campaign. We've alighted on the Carrion Crown adventure path from Paizo, and have spent the last fortnight mulling over new characters.

Let's introduce the party first:

Veneticus: a Human Cleric of Abadar (me)
Sir Erudil: a Human Paladin of Iomedae (Manoj)
Braven: a Half-Elven Ranger (Alex)
Nicodemus Eldritch: a Human Necromancer (Kelvin)

Warning: this and subsequent posts relating to the Carrion Crown adventure path will contain SPOILERS. This means that if you think you're in any danger of playing in this adventure path, avoid reading any posts on this blog tagged with 'Carrion Crown'.

Our first session opened with the party assembling in the village of Ravengor, to attend the funeral of their recently deceased friend and mentor, Professor Lorrimer. The old professor, it seems has died in strange circumstances, with the head of a statue falling on top of him. None of the characters knew each other. They were introduced to Kendra, Lorrimer's daughter, whom Nicodemus immediately took a shine to (despite having turned up to the funeral with two hired dancing girls, which Veneticus frowned upon). Some characters, it seems, have been to Ravengro before, but not others.

The characters were persuaded to act as pall bearers for the ceremony, and luckily none of them were of reduced stature. No hobbits here! On the way to the grave site they were confronted by a bunch of angry peasants who accused the deceased of having been a necromancer (not realising there was another necromancer carrying the coffin). A fight broke out, which we easily won, choosing to do subdual damage rather than shed any blood. As the opposition fled having - shock, horror - failed a MORALE CHECK  (I last saw one of those in about 1990), we met the local priest, Grimburrow, who came scurrying up, apologising for his late arrival. Grimburrow, it seems, enjoys the odd tipple.

The rest of the ceremony went without a hitch, and we repaired to Lorrimer's house to hear his will being read out by Vashion Halfmount, the mayor of Ravengro. It seems we need to remain in the village for a month to ensure Kendra's safety, and then convey a box of old books to the university at Leppedstadt. In return, we will inherit 100 platinum pieces each.

Motivation: each PC has a trait which has drawn him into this campaign. Mine is Teacher's Pet. Veneticus, a native of Lastwall, met Lorrimer while studying at one of the battle colleges in Lastwall, back in the days when Veneticus entertained ambitions of being a cavalier. Although he has not been to Ustalav before, Lorrimer has told Veneticus much of Ravengro and its surrondings, giving him Local Knowledge - Ustalav as a class skill. Veneticus has already used it once to good effect in the first session.

Veneticus was not noted as a big party animal in Battle College.
 We have read the Professor's diary, and have discovered that there may be a plot afoot on the part of a secret cabal of necromancers called the Whispering Way to raise some evil dude who died when the local maximum security prison Harrowstone burned down 50 years ago. The Whispering Way also has links to Tar Bathon, the Whispering Tyrant, some kind of undead overlord who once ruled Ustalav, but was overthrown. We also now know that the good professor was investigating some warding runes in the ruins of Harrowstone when he died. The ruins, it seems, are haunted, and actively avoided by the locals.

Following the reading of the will and the professor's diary, our little team had a look round the village. We visited the local tavern, the Laughing Demon, where Nicodemus again demonstrated his shockingly low morals by indulging in ale and song and corrupting poor Braven in the process. We also visited the local temple, meeting again with Grimburrow. We discovered a library under the temple, and were able to find out who died in the fire at Harrowstone, a motley collection of criminals, none of who sound like they were particularly savoury to encounter when alive, let alone as restless dead. Veneticus was a little disturbed to see the image of Count Andekai, a previous ruler of the region noted for his tyrannical and debauched practises, immortalised in the temple's main stained glass window.

We also learned that, apparently unbeknownst to the good Fra Grimburrow, there is fake crypt in the churchyard containing a stash of magic items that can help fight the undead. We sought out the crypt under cover of darkness - I mean, WHY bother poking around in a graveyard during the day, eh? We took with us one of Grimburrow's acolytes, a young man of dubious commitment, whom Veneticus was forced to reprimand when he discovered him looking a foul and immoral woodcuts rather than investing his time in the study of holy texts.

Entering the crypt, we found an altar with a hidden compartment, which triggered the release of three giant centipedes. These were slain in short order, but not before Nicodemus, now bereft of his dancing girls (and, by GM fiat, of his manservant), was bitten twice and brought near death. Veneticus' chain mail stood him good stead, and he used his channelling to heal the party up mid-combat.

"'Ouch! That stings!" quoth young Nicodemus.

I have not played a cleric in many, many years. Both Kelvin and I, having played combat types in the last campaign, have gone with spellcasters this time for a change of pace. It should prove interesting.

With our stash of magic - I was tiring at this point, and did not make a note of the items we recovered, although there were some magic arrows, and I think some potions - we returned home to the professor's house for some much-needed rest (apart from Nicodemus, but the less said about that, the better).

We were awoken in the morning to find that someone had painted the letter 'V' in blood on the monument in the centre of the village. This does not bode well.

It looks as if we will have to go and investigate Harrowstone in the near future. I think this will require Veneticus to tool up with some holy water for the team. Bless will need to be learned every morning until we go.

Next time: Will the party pluck up the courage to go to Harrowstone? Why has Banksy come to Ravengor? And just how many dancing girls does one young necromancer need to read him a story at night?