Saturday, May 9, 2009

Chronica Feudalis: Witness

I found a really cool game called Chronica Feudalis by Jeremy Keller. The premise of the game is that it was written in the 12th century and just recently has been translated. This sets an implicit evocative tone of the medieval period that really works. Last night my wife and I gave it a whirl...

Walter Atwell a town guard was sent to a local village to escort the witness to a crime, a little boy to the magistrate for an upcoming trial. A local outlaw knight doesn't want that happening so he hit the village with his goons and attempted to take the witness hostage if not outright kill him.

Awoken from his slumber before the crow of the cock, Walter peers out the window and sees men attempting to set fire to thatched roofs. It's a dreary morning with the swirl of fog and a slight drizzle.

Walter slowly opens his window and grabs his long bow. He takes aim at the nearest torch bearer and looses an arrow killing the man instantly. He lays back into the room waiting to see if his position has been discovered. Not yet anyways.

He lines up another shot and another bandit falls from a mortal strike. But this time the bandit lieutenant discovers what is going on and orders his men to the house where Walter is now hiding.

Before he can be pinned down Walter takes action and uses his bow and athleticism to keep his distance from the goon squad.

Little by little it seemed as if the noose was closing on Walter as the lieutenant starts to gain control and musters his men into cohesive action. Mechanically the lieutenant places a condition of "surrounded" on Walter.

Before the bandits could inflict much harm, Walter breaks out of the encirclement and again goes back to work picking off bandits one at a time. Each side maneuvers trying to gain the tactical upper hand and it is the lieutenant who screws up first. He is distracted talking to some of his men when Walter finds him directly in his line of sight. Whoosh! The arrow strikes home and drops the lieutenant into the muddy street with a vicious wound.

Without taking time to relish the shot Walter dashes for cover. From this new vantage, up the street he sees the epicenter of the ruckus. A knight mounted on a restless horse waiting outside of a house. The house of the witness!

Here's where something that I appreciated as GM came up. I set the difficulty of the shot and it was simply too high for Walter to roll. Implicitly out of range! Very cool.

Evaluating the new situation Walter doubles back and picks up a spear and shield from a downed bandit. He decides to get in close to take out the knight since the shield made it more likely that he could survive the encounter. It wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility that the mounted knight could maneuver in and place the condition of "too close to shoot". If this happened then Walter would likely take a blow that could cripple him for life.

So, again, sheer athleticism allows Walter to close the distance. He tagged "the din of the ruckus" to help set a rush ambush and launched his attack. Gerald De Bois never heard nor saw the guard before the first strike was sprung.

The spear struck home but the knight's armor absorbed the blow. Before the knight could act Walter swung his spear flat against the horse's rump forcing a condition of "going out of control" on the horse and rider.

Gerald is a decent rider and with relative ease brings the horse back under reign but the next blow of the spear knocks him to the ground where he will remain for much of the remainder of combat.

Blow after blow rains down on the knight but his toughness and armor absorbed most of what Walter can dish out.

Running low on Vigor Gerald stands up and swings his sword at Walter, tagging his aspect "Merciless Bastard (literally)" which gave him quite an intimidating pool resulting in two successes. Amazingly Walter's shield stays intact and turns the blow.

Walter lowers his shield and simply charges the knight who slips in the mud and again finds himself on his back. This time he would not regain his feet. A flurry of blows strike the knight with the last of which takes his life. But not before Gerald was able to bellow his last order, a call to rally on him. In just a flash the rest of his retinue begin to close in on Walter's position.

I could have played Gerald smarter if I gamed the system a bit more. I would have used Ride with his horse as a tool and tagged his aspect "Wounded little boy" to get away.

Walter realizes that there's no where to go except inside the house. He discovers that the dwelling is empty and that the back door is hanging wide open. He runs to the open door and sees a large man running off with his witness slung over his shoulder.

The chase is afoot down a windy shambling road and immediately the goon twists his knee (rolls 1s). Street after street no one gains the upper hand. Finally the chase breaks out of the village into a field before hitting the woods. Now the difficulty rises which makes it almost assured that Walter will catch the guard and recover his witness. But he has to make it so.

Down into a gully they go and the ruffian stumbles but catches his balance as he scrambles up over the crest of a hill. Down over the other side is a stream with a steep bank on the opposite side. Walter figures that here is where he'll catch his quarry and he was right.

Quarry and pursuer splash across the stream. The large man collapses on the bank unable to move let alone catch his breath. In agony he looses the little boy. Walter stands in the cold water wondering who else wants the boy and how he will transport him to the magistrate.


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