Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Achtung! Cthulhu: The Book of Eibon (A Study in Auvergne)

Last week, we had our first full game session of Fate Achtung! Cthulhu. This will be a quick game recap and some post-game comments.

En Route to Le Mont-Dore
I'm sure I'm on some watch list now after
doing Google research for this mission dossier.

Oberst Loeb receives the teams orders. A previous team of Ahnenerbe researchers were attacked. Their last known location is the Cistercian Monastery in Le Mont-Dore. Loeb's team is to drive to Le Mont-Dore, find the other team and assist them. Failing that, they are to pick up where they left off on their mission: to find the Book of Eibon.

The team makes the long drive to Le Mont-Dore through the snowy winter of 1942. Le Mont-Dore is a tourist town located in the Dordogne River valley and, as such, shuts its doors in the winter. As the monastery is not on the map, they bang on the door of one of only two houses with lights on. An elderly lady who looks like she's lived there all her life answers the door. Although intimidated by Oberst Loeb's scarred countenenace and German uniform, she wants no trouble and points out where to go.

After winding deeper into the valley and up one side, they spot Ahnenerbe Team K's truck parked in front of the smashed entrance to the monastery. It appears, many years ago, a large boulder has ended up in the front of the building with no easy explanation.

They enter the monastery foyer; wet footprints indicating recent activity. As they head into the chapel, they find Team K – scalped. Sturmbannführer Koch is pinned to the cross with his head smashed in. Everybody rolled a sanity check and all took a Will drain. Gerty lost a point of sanity.

Once they get a hold of themselves, they search the scene. Oberst Loeb checks Sturmbannführer Koch's body and finds a torn-out notebook page with a list of locations and a bloody thumbprint, stuffed into Koch's pocket. The blood is dry.
Gerty and Yu check the room and find the torn-in-half notebook page referencing Gaspard du Nord. It has fresh spittle on it.
Dr. Heidelberg does a field autopsy of the scalped individuals and determines they were shot to death before being scalped. He also finds a magazine of 9mm bullets, stamped SS, surreptitiously stuffed into one of the soldier's pockets, and a leather bookmark laying at Koch's feet (I added the bookmark to indicate a book was taken).
Gerulf starts checking side chambers for any signs of digging.
They all get a sense of what happened in the scene — there was a surprise shootout, Team K was killed, then scalped, and their research taken — and setup camp in a side room.

I compelled Yu's Overenthusiastic to a Fault to stay up all night searching the entirety of the monastery. He ends up in the catacombs and discovers them hastily overturned with nothing useful to be found. He spends the next day Exhausted.

The next morning, they break camp and head back into town to question the old lady. Overwhelmed, she invites them in for breakfast. She recalls that two days before she heard one truck pass and two trucks came and went yesterday, but she didn't bother looking outside particularly since there's been more activity once the Germans arrived in France.

The team rouses Yu from his slumber in a comfy chair and takes their leave. Just as they get to the truck, a band of French Resistance surrounds them. They demand the Germans leave town and stay out. Since Gerty is the only one who currently speaks French, she tries to ascertain if they were the ones who dispatched Team K and, if not, who did. A battle of wits ensues. As the heated discussion goes back and forth, Dr. Heidelberg takes a read of their body language (creating an advantage). He whispers his analysis in Gerty's ear and she handily turns them to whimpering fools. They reveal that the later of the two trucks passing in and out of town yesterday was German (they were still recovering from a drinking binge when the first truck rolled through). When questioned about the monastery, they shudder and claim they've never been there as it's haunted.

Bibliothèque du Clermont-Ferrand

Exhausting leads in Le Mont-Dore, the team heads to Clermont-Ferrand – the nearest town with a large enough library to do research. At this point, the props come out!

No rolls were needed and I did very little prompting ("What books are you looking for?", "C.A.S. look like they could be initials."). They sussed out all the clues, surmised that Gaspard du Nord is buried in Vyonne Chapel, and compared maps to find its most probable location: La Bourboule.

...And Back Again (to La Bourboule!)

The team drives back to the Dordogne River valley, and into La Bourboule. As they enter the Chapel, Yu senses the priests are acting like they are protecting a fugitive. They say nothing. Based on the notebook page they found, Yu suggests the team takes the stairs under the cat-headed griffon gargoyle and check the roof. Up top, they find nothing unusual, but do notice a excavation crew in the distance digging up the river shoreline – in the middle of winter (this was actually ret-conned in later).

The team then takes the stairs down to the catacombs. As they do, the priests bustle to the altar and start praying loudly. The catacombs also look like a dead-end, but Klaus finds a loose brick and a possible hidden chamber. The group heads to the truck to retrieve picks and shovels. As they return, the priests get louder; the Latin coming hard and fast.

They break through the wall, a cloud of ancient dust revealing an arch-ceilinged chamber with a stone sarcophagus. There are tall bronze braziers at the head and foot of the sarcophagus, and bowed, robed statues on either side. As Gerty, Gerolf, and Yu approach, sanity checks! Oberst Loeb and Yu succeed with style, but Gerolf and Dr. Heidelberg miss by three, taking a noticeable hit to their mental stability.

The "statues" are undead guardians under centuries of dust. They turn towards the intruders, skin cracking and flaking away as their lips part, "Who disturbs the resting place of Gaspard du Nord?"


Post-Game Notes

Here are some things that came up during and after the game:

• I prefer to do the sanity checks before the horror reveal as it ramps up the tension and doesn't dilute the impact of the scene by introducing rule mechanics directly afterwards.

• There was some concern that, since Gerty is the only who speaks French, she got more interaction and "screen time". I pointed out that almost everybody still had open aspect and stunt slots that could be utilized to give them the ability to speak French. However, given that option, still nobody wanted to do so. So, I guess playing their character as is is preferred, and that's fine.

• They are getting an idea of how creating advantages gives you aspects you can stack. Dr. Heidelberg was the first one to "get it" when he read the body language of the French Resistance to help Gerty out.

• Going against my own plan, I forced Bort-les-Orgues as the destination of Vyonne Chapel. Initially, Oberst Loeb chose La Bourboule as the chapel location. I should have said yes, and ran with it. I have changed the recap above to include Loeb's choice.

• Prior to Fate Achtung! Cthulhu, we played Fantasy Flight Games' new Zombie Apocalypse RPG under their The End of the Worrld Roleplaying Line. Although we had fun, the system felt clunky. As such, there was a comment on how Fantasy Flight Games could have done well licensing Fate for their new line.

No comments: