The start of a NIGHTWATCH adventure
I have the extreme good fortune to game on a regular basis. The Cape Cod Wargame Commission meets (more or less) weekly to indulge in food, drink, table top wargames, RPGs, and the occasional board game. (with miniatures, of course) If I remember correctly, we’re in our 7th year.
There’s also another group that formed last year, six teachers from a local high school who gather around the table once a month for some easy, low-key adventuring. With a variety of previous gaming experience ranging from ‘none’ to ‘some’, juggling work, family, and other obligations, Nightwatch syncs nicely with their available hobby-bandwidth. After several introductory games – The Tomb of Alrik Steelheart – the group embarked on their first, legit campaign last Saturday.
In the shadow of Balaur Mormant
Adding a simple RPG system beside the tactical rules, the game now allows for narrative encounters, intrigue, investigation, and collective story-telling. The role-playing mechanics are a WIP, but they work and the goal is to offer a more full experience that’s easily accessible. ‘Games for busy gamers‘ is still the motto.
To that end, the campaign story starts with six newly-initiated Nightwatch hunters sent to investigate reports of savage, unnatural creatures in a remote border province. Sounds like a straightforward, monster-hunting kind of job. The problem is, the region has a history of war, insurrection, and ethnic hatred. Who’s to say this isn’t another bloody chapter in a long, sad story of civil unrest and blood feuds?
The new military governor claims this is more than angry farmers and bandits; he’s got proof of dark magic and unnatural creatures. So the question is: who or what is behind the brutal attacks? Are they trying to incite open rebellion? Or something far worse?
The region in question – a province in the mountains of the north-west corner of the kingdom – is dominated by a huge central peak known as ‘Balaur Mormant’. This snow-capped titan overlooks the only pass through the range. Hence, the strategic value of the area. Otherwise, no one in their right mind would care what happens there.
I’ve heard it said that in a RPG, ‘a six month journey can take five minutes while five minutes of combat takes an hour and a half.‘ Thankfully, Nightwatch combat moves a bit faster. However, our heroes did need to undertake a journey, which was uneventful until they reached the site of a famous old battle, ‘Fool’s Notch’. (1)
Local tradition is to leave tokens of gratitude or remembrance to the fallen, so a quick investigation of the battlefield’s monument yielded several magic amulets which should come in handy once they reach their destination. There was also a Dire Wolf.
Wrong place, wrong time for Jasmine’s Tracker. The beast charged out of the forest and mauled her good. Suffering two wounds, she managed to use her Parry/Thrust ability to force the brute to disengage. Seamus’ Blade then spent one of the party’s valuable magic scrolls to kill it dead. (He made a point to skin the thing afterward. Make an interesting throw rug, perhaps.)
The Border Station
A few more miles in a few more minutes, the party arrived at the province’s border station. Deep dark woods all around, no guards in sight, watch tower door banding in the wind… perfectly normal, right?
Exercising a bit of vigilance, Hannah sends her owl companion up for a look-n-listen.
Word comes back to her – in owl, of course – that there’s humans hiding in the woods all around. Forewarned is forearmed. No sooner does the party ready themselves than three groups of surly locals appear.
Angry, suspicious, and slightly drunk, they’re convinced the party is actually a group of mercenaries come to help the insurrection. The Meet-n-Greet with the citizenry is not off to a good start.
Chris, Seamus, Tom, and Matt square off with the first two groups who are waving weapons, and throwing curses and accusations. Coarse but effective negotiation keep things from getting bloody – but there’s a lot of tension in the air.
On the far side of the tower, the ladies have much better luck with three crossbow wielding trappers. One might say the lads were a tad smitten by Jasmine and Hannah. Weapons are lowered and attitudes improve. Way to win friends and influence people.
Meanwhile, Matt readied a fireball. There’s some axe brandishing by Chris. Tom shot a sword out of a local’s hand, but eventually the local lads simmered down. (Seeing their compatriots stroll over with Jasmine and Hannah certainly helped too.) The last leg of the journey was all downhill.
Wrap up/Set up
Our heroes spent the final portion of the session speaking to the Governor, viewing his ‘proof’ of dark, unnatural forces, interviewing the garrison captain, and visiting the local tavern to get a handle on what happened, where, and when.
By the end, the party had three options: venture west into the foothills to investigate the sighting of strange creatures; head south to a farm where livestock was savagely dismembered not three nights ago; or travel on the main road into the mountain pass where a garrison patrol was ambushed and slaughtered to a man. Decisions, decisions…
That’s it for now. More as events unfold. Thanks for stopping by.
(1) Contrary to the official report, ‘The Battle of Fool’s Notch’ is not named for an enemy’s blunder that led to ignominious defeat, but rather after General Lucius Winscomb-Saltier, a politically appointed commander whose vanity and out-sized ego demanded his badly outnumbered force make a stand in the vale between two rocky hills.
Thankfully, the commander was killed early on in an ill-advised cavalry charge. Only favorable geography, superior marksmanship, and savage determination allowed the remaining infantry to hold out until reinforcements arrived. Although the monument bears General W-S’s name, the face is actually that of Master Sergeant Bransen Haft, whose platoon held the center of the line for two days.